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Monday, May 18, 2015 - 2:15pm
Mark Mothersbaugh

We have no reason to believe that he’ll be setting aside his red energy dome anytime soon, but if the lead singer of Devo wanted to retire from working in the coal mine, today would be the perfect day to do it, as it’s Mark Mothersbaugh’s 65th birthday.

Born in Ohio in 1950, Mark Allen Mothersbaugh was first set on the path toward a lifetime of preaching “devolution” when he attended Kent State, where he met future bandmates Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis. They first performed together at the Kent State Performing Arts Festival under the moniker of “Sextet Devo” in 1973, along with drummer Rod Reisman, singer Fred Weber, and guitarist Bob Casale, a.k.a. Gerald’s brother, but it proved to be a one-off gig with that particular lineup. When they returned the following year, this time to play at the university’s Student Governance Center, Weber was out, as was Reisman, with the latter replaced by Jim Mothersbaugh, who in turn would be replaced by Alan Myers in 1976. Once Myers joined the band’s ranks, Devo – as they were now called – found a lineup which would stay concrete all the way through the release of the band’s sixth album, Shout, released in 1984. That’s when Myers left and, not coincidentally, it was also when the band dissolved for awhile.

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 3:28pm
Happy Birthday: Mike Oldfield
Born in Reading, England in 1953, Michael Gordon Oldfield might well have entered the medical profession if he'd followed in the footsteps of his parents - his dad was a general practitioner, his mother a nurse - but his interest in music was so profound that he was pursuing it as a career before he was even out of his teens. It took a bit of time for him to find his way to the sort of music he's best known for composing, dabbling first in Shadows-style instrumentals and then doing a bit of folk with his sister, Sally, but once he joined The Whole World, Kevin Ayers' backing group, it was clear that whatever musical path he might follow, it likely wouldn't be anything resembling mainstream pop.
Friday, May 15, 2015 - 3:13pm
Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Blur, Parklife

21 years ago today, Blur's third album, an effort which - along with Oasis's Definitely Maybe - would help to define the so-called Britpop movement of the mid-1990s, debuted at the top of the UK Albums chart.

Coming the heels of their commercially-disappointing sophomore effort, Modern Life is Rubbish, it's a wonder that Parklife was able to so successfully capture the attention of a nation, but it didn't hurt that Damon Albarn, who was in the midst of a highly prolific period as a songwriter at the time, was cranking out such instant classics as “Girls & Boys,” “To the End,” “Parklife,” and “End of a Century.” Weirdly, though, when the band presented the album to Food Records owner David Balfe, he was decidedly underwhelmed, actually going so far as to tell the band's management, “This is a mistake.” Bit of a bad call there, obviously, but not the last one Balfe had in regards to the album: he also suggested that they call the album London, with the cover art featuring a fruit-and-vegetable cart. As Albarn later smirked to the BBC, “That was the last time that Dave Balfe was sort of privy to any decision or creative process with us, and that was his final contribution: to call it London.”

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 12:57pm
Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World

Jett Schmett. Girls wanted to be PAT BENATAR!

The story is always the same, if you're good-looking you get no credit.

Now I'm not saying we need to have sympathy for the beautiful, although being good-looking is a sentence, something you think you want but don't really, but the truth is if you're an attractive female singer you get no respect from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Waiting decades to induct Linda Ronstadt? And then there's Joan Jett, member of a failed band overhyped by the dearly departed Kim Fowley, who ultimately had a couple of hits, and she's lionized and Benatar's been forgotten... IT'S UNFAIR!

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 11:00am
BB King

This time, the thrill really is gone: legendary bluesman B.B. King died yesterday evening at the age of 89.

King’s health had been in a relatively steady decline in recent years, but it became evident that the end was near on May 1, when he posted a message on his official website in which he thanked his fans for their well wishes and prayers but revealed that he was in home hospice care at his residence in Las Vegas. Last night, the webmasters of BBKing.com added a simple post to the site, confirming that “Mr. King passed peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 pm Pacific time,” doing so with the most apropos – and most heartbreaking – title possible: “The Thrill is Gone.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 4:36pm
Bobby Darin

Although he isn’t celebrating his 79th birthday today, which is what would be happening if he were still alive, Bobby Darin’s legacy seems as strong now as it ever has been, thanks in no small part to Kevin Spacey portraying the singer in the 2004 bio-pic, Beyond the Sea.

The future Mr. Darin was born in New York’s East Harlem in 1936, entering the world under a decidedly longer name: Walden Robert Cassotto. His mother was only 17 when he was born, and because having a child out of wedlock was still deemed rather scandalous at the time, he spent the majority of his life believing that his grandmother was his mother and that his birth mother was his older sister. (He didn’t actually learn the truth until 1968.) But even though he grew up without knowing his true parentage, it didn’t stop him from developing a love of music, learning how to play a number of instruments by the time he was a teenager, including drums, guitar, and piano.

Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 3:51pm
Brothers In Arms

30 years ago today, Dire Straits released the best album of their career. Yes, of course, it’s all a matter of opinion, but that’s likely the predominant opinion as far as the unwashed masses are concerned. You’d be surprised – and probably a little disappointed – as to just how few people could tell you the name of another Dire Straits album beyond Brothers in Arms. Then again, when an album sells 30 million copies worldwide, it’s not exactly a shocker that a whole bunch of people have come to be familiar with it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 1:27pm
Gig of the Week

Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Johnny van Zant said of this tour: "We’re looking forward to being out on tour with our friends, Bad Company. Last year was great! If you want to see good rock n roll, come check this out.” And good rock'n'roll it certainly was. Check out Bad Co's setlist from the final night of the tour in Michigan now.