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Welcome to the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life! I have wanted to put something like this together for a long time now and the A-Z Challenge just seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’ve compiled stories, trivia, research, music videos and live concert footage on all the bands and musical artists who have been important to me over the years, especially during my youthful years in the 60s and 70s. At first glance, the posts may seem long – and some of them are due to the number of videos included – but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, see or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and listen to the great music that you’ll find here. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! In addition to individual songs, there are some full albums here for those who may want to enjoy some music while they’re surfing or working. I hope you find that the stories are entertaining, the information educational and the trivia interesting. It would be a tremendous honor if you would bookmark the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life as a resource for great music and music information! Now, let’s get started with…
G is for the Guess Who – If you were to ask me, “Who is your favorite classic rock band?” and I could only choose one, I’m no doubt going to say the Guess Who. This Canadian band reigns supreme in my mind. The two most recognized members of the band, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, saw successes after the demise of the Guess Who in the mid-70s. Randy Bachman went on to form Bachman Turner Overdrive and Burton Cummings went solo.
I often wondered how the heck the Guess Who got their name. Well, it started as a publicity stunt really. The band was a local band formed in Winnipeg Manitoba, started by Chad Allen and called Al and the Silvertones. Then a few years later they changed the name to Chad Allen and the Reflections in 1962. In 1965 the band was forced to change to Chad Allen and the Expressions after an American band called the Reflections had a hit song. Chad Allen and the Expressions ended up with their first big hit, Shakin’ All Over. In an attempt to create some mystique around the record, the label, Quality Records, released the single and attributed it only to “Guess Who?” hoping that some listeners might suspect the mysterious identity was deliberately masking several famous performers working under a pseudonym (hoping that they perhaps would think it be someone major like the Beatles or other popular British Invasion bands).
Now here comes the part as to how the band got its name: It is debatable as to whether anyone was really fooled by the “Guess Who?” ruse, or if the record would have been a hit regardless of the artist credit. But the upshot was that, even after Quality Records revealed the band was “really” Chad Allan & The Expressions, disc jockeys still announced the group as Guess Who?, effectively forcing the band to rename themselves. Interesting, huh? I always wondered about their name because it was such an odd name. I’m glad that mystery is solved. Ya gotta love Wikipedia!
My favorite Guess Who album is the Live at the Paramount album (recorded at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 1972). I saw them much later at the After Dark, a great music venue in Lockport NY. The first song they played was actually my very favorite, Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon and I was the first one on the dance floor. My brother was there and being a big Guess Who fan too, I pulled him up on the floor and we were the only ones dancing. Then as soon as the song was over, the dance floor flooded to the point that no one could dance anymore so I was thrilled that I was able to dance to my favorite song, front and center with my favorite band!
I did want to post the entire greatest hits album but copyright infringement wouldn’t allow for it. But I’m going to do the next best thing: Posting every single song from the Best of the Guess Who album, as arranged on the album. This is one band and one album that I can play over and over and over…and over and over and over again! I’m not kidding: I never get sick of the Guess Who! Hope you enjoy all these songs as much as I do:
These Eyes – 1968 performance:
Laughing – 1969 performance:
Undun – 1974 appearance on the Midnight Special:
Note: if you want to see the Guess Who in a 2000 reunion performing Laughing and Undun, go here; the embed code was disabled and unavailable but it’s worth a visit.
No Time – Love this song! (audio only; album still video):
American Woman –
No Sugar Tonight –
Hand Me Down World – I love singing this song! (montage video):
Bus Driver – fun song!
Share the Land –
Do You Miss Me Darlin’ – a montage video:
Hang On to Your Life –
G is for Grand Funk Railroad – If it’s one thing I regret it’s giving away all of my vinyl albums. Especially because I gave away the rare Grand Funk Railroad album that was pressed on gold vinyl. Oh man, how could I have been so stupid? I’ll tell you how. I was delirious with exhaustion and stress from moving. I was overwhelmed with packing and I just didn’t want to pack another thing so I started giving things away. I handed over, to a total stranger, no less, my HUGE box full of amazing albums. All those fabulous album covers and liner notes! Oh, it just makes me sick to my stomach when I think about it. Oh well. It is what it is. So let’s talk a little Grand Funk, shall we?
Let me set the stage with this very cool trivia tidbit: In 1971 Grand Funk Railroad sold out New York’s Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles did in 1966. Wowsa!
Grand Funk Railroad is an American blues rock band that was wildly popular in the ’70s. Another strange band name, Grand Funk name came from a twist and a play on words on the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a railroad line that ran through the band’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.
The band’s first number one hit was We’re An American Band which got huge airplay. It’s a good song for sure, but my favorite Grand Funk song is I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home) from their “Closer to Home” album:
This promo film, owned by Capitol Records, shows a recording session, taping We’re An American Band:
The band, all grown up, performing Some Kind of Wonderful:
G is for Golden Earring – The next G band is one you probably haven’t thought of in a long time or you may not have heard of them even. Golden Earring is a Dutch rock band and is best known for their two hits Radar Love and Twilight Zone.
Golden Earring celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2011 and have been performing almost continuously since their founding in 1961. Known for the powerful live performances, which I can attest to – I saw them when they opened up for Peter Frampton in Niagara Falls back in 1977 — they typically do 200 concerts each year, mainly in their Netherlands homeland and occasionally in Belgium, Germany and the UK.
Here they are performing their big US hit in 1973, Radar Love:
Although they were very popular in the Netherlands, they were unable to secure further chart success beyond Radar Love here in the U.S. until 1982’s Twilight Zone. The very interesting music video of the song, directed by Dick Maas, was one of the first rock videos played on the recently launched MTV in the United States, and helped the song to become a Top Ten hit.
G is for Gary Wright – Gary Wright is an American singer, songwriter and musician, best known for his 1976 hit songs “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive”, and for his role in helping establish the synthesizer as a leading instrument in rock and pop music.
Here’s an interesting tidbit, found on Gary Wright’s Wikipedia page: “ In 2008, he voiced his support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, during which “Dream Weaver” was a song adopted for the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. That year, Wright discussed the message behind “Dream Weaver” with Huffington Post writer and political activist Howie Klein, saying: “With Wayne’s World and all that, the perception of the song’s meaning got a little bit changed for a lot of people. It’s a very spiritual song. ‘Dream Weaver’ is really a song whose lyrical content is about the consciousness of the Universe: God moving us through the night – delusion and suffering – into the Higher Realms.” Now that’s right up my alley!
My Love is Alive – (a lyrics video):
G is for the Greg Kihn Band – The Greg Kihn Band is an American band that was started by frontman Greg Kihn and bassist Steve Wright. Their most successful singles include “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)” (Billboard Hot 100 #15) and “Jeopardy” (Billboard Hot 100 #2). I love The Breakup Song from the 1981 album Rockihnroll:
G is for Genesis – Let’s mellow out a little bit and explore some Genesis, the British rock band that formed in 1967. Most notable and recognizable band members, Phil Collins (vocals, drums) and Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute) went on to solo careers. Genesis’s musical style was very different and in fact was considered a “pop experiment” early on. Then beginning with their second album in the mid-70s, their style evolved into progressive rock when more elaborate instrumentation was incorporated into their music. This style and the exquisite talents of the band members worked together to bring us an abundance of powerful albums and amazing songs. According to Wikipedia, “their concerts became theatrical experiences with innovative stage design, pyrotechnics, extravagant costumes and on-stage stories.” In fact, Genesis was the first band to use Vari*Lite technology and the Prism sound system, all of which are now standard features of arena rock concerts.
Kick back and let the sounds of Genesis melt over you. I’m posting a few singles that are favorites of mine. If you want the full Genesis experience, check out their Greatest Hits Platinum Collection that has 39 songs –that’s nearly four hours of Genesis.
Ripples – music video (I think the performance you see in the video was from 1970 but the music video was made in 1976):
Squonk – Live at the Lyceum 1980:
A Trick of the Tail:
Turn It On Again:
Home By the Sea:
Throwing It All Away:
I Can’t Dance:
G is for George Harrison – This man needs no introduction as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the primary songwriters of the group, each album always had at least one George Harrison composition.
Three of my all-time favorite songs are by George Harrison:
My Sweet Lord – his first single as a solo artist (1969); this studio version is a video of still shots of Harrison
While My Guitar Gently Weeps –
This next song is such a feel-good song: Here Comes the Sun – the video is of George Harrison playing with Ringo Starr at the Prince’s Trust in 1987; introduced by Elton John:
Something – this became the Beatles second-most covered song.
G is for Gordon Lightfoot – I’m going to end my G bands post with Gordon Lightfoot. He is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s. He has been referred to as Canada’s greatest songwriter and internationally as a folk-rock legend. Here’s a neat little tidbit of trivia, and it’s perfect for my G bands theme. From Wikipedia, The Canadian band The Guess Who recorded a song called “Lightfoot” on their 1968 album Wheatfield Soul; the lyrics contain many Lightfoot song titles.“
I’ve posted four Gordon Lightfoot songs. These four singles are my favorites of his expansive array of songs. Enjoy. And remember, Into every life a little Gordon Lightfoot should fall…
Sundown – 1974 performance:
If You Could Read My Mind from the Midnight Special 1974:
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: I found this wonderful video on YouTube that is a tribute to the 29 men who died November 10, 1975 aboard the oil carrier called the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. The video starts with an actual news clip announcing the wreck, followed by the haunting song.
Rainy Day People:
G is for the Grateful Dead – I never was a big Grateful Dead fan but I know and understand their cult status. I couldn’t leave the G’s without at least paying homage to them:
Truckin’ – performance at Civic Hall, Rotterdam, Holland 5/11/1972
Touch of Grey –
Fire On the Mountain –
Which artist did you like best in this post? Who are your favorite G bands? Who did I forget??