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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…
Because I’m in a disco kind of mood –which doesn’t happen very often- I’ll start this letter off with Wild Cherry.
W is for Wild Cherry – Wild Cherry was an American funk-rock band best known for their 1976 hit Play That Funky Music. The song ended up being a number one hit but that was the only hit the band ever had. Their subsequent singles and albums failed to chart. I guess you could say they were a One Hit Wonder, right? It’s a shame too, because they had some serious momentum going after Play That Funky Music:
From Wikipedia: “”Play That Funky Music” became a huge hit when released in 1976, peaking at number one on both the Billboard R&B and pop charts. Both the single and Wild Cherry’s self-titled debut album went platinum. “Play That Funky Music” was No. 1 on the Billboard charts for 3 weeks. The band was named Best Pop Group of the Year by Billboard, and received an American Music Award for Top R&B Single of the Year, as well as a pair of Grammy nominations for Best New Vocal Group and Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo that year, adding to their success.”
Here’s Wild Cherry performing the hit Play That Funky Music on the Midnight Special in 1976:
W is for War – “War (originally called Eric Burdon and War) is an American funk band from California, known for the hit songs “Low Rider”, “Spill the Wine”, “Summer”, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”, “The Cisco Kid”, and “The World Is a Ghetto”. Formed in 1969, War was a musical crossover band which fused elements of rock, funk, jazz, Latin, rhythm and blues, and reggae. The band also transcended racial and cultural barriers with a multi-ethnic line-up.
Although War’s lyrics are often socio-political in nature, their music usually had a laid-back, California funk vibe. A particular feature of War’s sound is the use of harmonica and saxophone playing melody lines in unison, sounding like a single instrument, for example in the melody of “Low Rider”.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Eric Burdon and War toured all over the US and Europe. Here’s a bit of trivia: “Their show at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London on September 18, 1970 is historically notable for being the very last public performance for Jimi Hendrix, who joined them onstage for the last 35 minutes of Burdon & War’s 2nd set; a day later he was dead.” Source: Wikipedia
Low Rider – This is a fun low-rider video:
Cisco Kid – a 1973 performance on the Midnight Special:
Why Can’t We Be Friends? – Here’s a flashback video from the vault on VH1:
Spill the Wine – here’s a September 26, 1970 performance Live at the Beat Club:
Summer – I like this song, not only because it’s evokes images of summer but the lyrics mention “Ridin’ around town with all your windows down, 8-track playing all your favorite sounds” – that was me over a number of summers. My poor 8-track in my ’71 Monte Carlo got a workout for sure.
W is for The Who – I saw the Who in concert sometime in the late 80s or the early 90s. I can’t find my concert ticket stub. I may not have even had one. I worked at WCXR, Washington DC’s Classic Rock station and we were presenting the Who, made possible because the station’s owners decided it was worth it to buy out the stadiums in all the cities in which they had rock stations in order to be the concert presenter and give away tickets on-air to countless lucky listeners. WCXR literally bought every single seat in RFK Stadium just so we could say on air that “WCXR Brings You the Who”. How cool is that? If I am remembering correctly, I believe we also bought all the parking spaces so when people came to the show, they would pull up to park only to find out that WCXR had paid for their parking. I’m almost positive it was the Who concert that we did that for; if not we did it for some other concert at RFK. Yeah, I worked for a very cool radio station. While it was owned by two guys, that is. Once they sold to a corporation things really changed. No longer could decisions be made with a single phone call. That’s exactly how it went down with the Who concert. I think our Music Director came up with the idea and our station manager called the owners and said, “Hey, how about we spend a couple hundred thousand dollars and buy out every seat in RFK Stadium so we can be the concert presenter?” About an hour later the station’s owner calls back and says, It’s a Go. And by the way, we’re going to do it in Philadelphia and Detroit too!” Now that’s some powerful dudes with some big cash. Working for the station while they owned it was super fun. Then they sold their group of stations to a big radio conglomerate (Group W Radio) and everything changed. A simple request seemed to take an act of Congress, for God’s sake. There was always a lengthy chain of command and so many rules and regulations. It just got to me after a while. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not big on corporations…and I’m not big on rules either. I think rules are made to be bent. Not necessarily broken, but bent on occasion.
Anywho, I saw the Who. It was fun. So just who are The Who? “The Who is an English rock band that formed in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century…
The Who developed from an earlier group, the Detours, and established themselves as part of the pop art and mod movements, featuring auto-destructive art by destroying guitars and drums on stage. Their first single as the Who, “I Can’t Explain”, reached the UK top ten, followed by a string of singles including “My Generation”, “Substitute” and “Happy Jack”. In 1967, they performed at the Monterey Pop Festival and released the US top ten single “I Can See for Miles”, while touring extensively. The group’s fourth album, 1969’s rock opera Tommy, included the single “Pinball Wizard” and was a critical and commercial success. Live appearances at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, along with the live album Live at Leeds, cemented their reputation as a respected rock act. With their success came increased pressure on lead songwriter and visionary Townshend, and the follow-up to Tommy, Lifehouse, was abandoned. Songs from the project made up 1971’s Who’s Next, which included the hit “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The group released the album Quadrophenia in 1973 as a celebration of their mod roots, and oversaw the film adaptation of Tommy in 1975. They continued to tour to large audiences before semi-retiring from live performances at the end of 1976. The release of Who Are You in 1978 was overshadowed by the death of Moon shortly after.
Kenney Jones replaced Moon and the group resumed activity, releasing a film adaptation of Quadrophenia and the retrospective documentary The Kids Are Alright. After Townshend became weary of touring, the group split in 1982. The Who occasionally re-formed for live appearances such as Live Aid in 1985, a 25th anniversary tour in 1989 and a tour of Quadrophenia in 1996. They resumed regular touring in 1999, with drummer Zak Starkey. After Entwistle’s death in 2002, plans for a new album were delayed. Townshend and Daltrey continued as the Who, releasing Endless Wire in 2006, and continued to play live regularly.
The Who’s major contributions to rock music include the development of the Marshall stack, large PA systems, use of the synthesizer, Entwistle and Moon’s lead playing styles, and the development of the rock opera. They are cited as an influence by several hard rock, punk rock and mod bands, and their songs still receive regular exposure.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Here are 20 of my favorite Who songs! :
Baba O’Riley – How many people thought the name of this song was “Teenage Wasteland”? I did. I even got into an argument over it. I used to be so hard-headed! I’ve learned along the way that it’s okay to be wrong and it’s okay to admit that you don’t know something. I still don’t get why the song is called Baba O’Riley though…
(Wikipedia says “the title of the song is derived from the combination of the song’s philosophical and musical influences, Meher Baba and Terry Riley.”) So, there you go…
From the Classic Rock Hits YouTube channel, here’s the official Baba O’Riley video:
Bargain – here’s a lyric video:
Getting In Tune – a great photo-montage video:
Going Mobile – another photo-montage video:
Behind Blue Eyes – Live December 28th, 1979 at Hammersmith Odeon, London
Won’t Get Fooled Again –
I Can’t Explain – Here’s a great video of the early Who:
I Can See for Miles – a 1968 performance from Melody Varieties
Pinball Wizard – from 1975’s movie Tommy, featuring Elton John. Pinball Wizard was featured on the Who’s 1969 rock opera album Tommy. The original recording was released as a single in 1969 and reached No. 4 in the UK charts and No. 19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100:
Magic Bus –
I’m Free – Live in 1977:
The Seeker – from 1970:
See Me, Feel Me – Live at Woodstock, 1969
Join Together –
Love Reign Over Me – from the Live Aid concert, introduced by Jack Nicholson:
Squeeze Box – photo-montage video:
Slip Kid – a lyrics video:
Who Are You –
You Better You Bet – music video with an MTV promo lead-in
Eminence Front – a VH1 Classic video:
W is for Warren Zevon – (January 24, 1947 – September 7, 2003) “Warren Zevon was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician. He was known for the dark and somewhat outlandish sense of humor in his lyrics.
Zevon’s work has often been praised by well-known musicians, including Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. His best-known compositions include “Werewolves of London”, “Lawyers, Guns and Money”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” and “Johnny Strikes Up the Band”, all of which are featured on his third album, Excitable Boy.” (1978 album produced by Jackson Browne and guitarist Waddy Wachtel).
Werewolves of London:
Zevon was a regular guest on the David Letterman show. Here he performs two songs on the show in 1988:
Trouble and Lawyers, Guns & Money –
“In interviews, Zevon described a lifelong phobia of doctors and said he seldom received medical assessment. Shortly before playing at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in 2002, he started feeling dizzy and developed a chronic cough. After a period of suffering with pain and shortness of breath, Zevon was encouraged by his dentist to see a physician; he was diagnosed with inoperable peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer of the abdominal lining that is associated with exposure to asbestos). Although Zevon never revealed where he may have been exposed to asbestos, his son Jordan suggests that it came from Zevon’s childhood, playing in the attic of his father’s carpet store in Arizona. Refusing treatments he believed might incapacitate him, Zevon instead began recording his final album, The Wind, which includes guest appearances by close friends including Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Jackson Browne, Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh, David Lindley, Billy Bob Thornton, Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty, Dwight Yoakam, and others. At the request of the music television channel VH1, documentarian Nick Read was given access to the sessions; his cameras documented a man who retained his mordant sense of humor, even as his health was deteriorating over time.
On October 30, 2002, Zevon was featured on the Late Show with David Letterman as the only guest for the entire hour. The band played “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” as his introduction. Zevon performed several songs and spoke at length about his illness. Zevon had been a frequent guest and occasional substitute bandleader on Letterman’s television shows since Late Night was first broadcast in 1982. He noted, “I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years.” It was during this broadcast that, when asked by Letterman if he knew something more about life and death now, he first offered his oft-quoted insight on dying: “Enjoy every sandwich.” He also took time to thank Letterman for his years of support, calling him “the best friend my music’s ever had”. For his final song of the evening, and his final public performance, Zevon performed “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” at Letterman’s request. In the green room after the show, Zevon presented Letterman with the guitar that he always used on the show, with a single request: “Here, I want you to have this, take good care of it.”
The day after Zevon’s death, Letterman paid tribute to Zevon by replaying his performance of “Mutineer” from his last appearance. The Late Show band played Zevon’s songs throughout the night.
Zevon stated previously that his illness was expected to be terminal within months after the diagnosis in the fall of 2002; however, he lived to see the birth of twin grandsons in June 2003 and the release of The Wind on August 26, 2003. Owing in part to the first VH1 broadcasts of Nick Read’s documentary Warren Zevon: Keep Me In Your Heart, the album reached number 12 on the US charts, Zevon’s highest placement since Excitable Boy. When his diagnosis became public, Zevon told the media that he just hoped to live long enough to see the next James Bond movie, a goal he accomplished.
Warren Zevon died on September 7, 2003, aged 56, at his home in Los Angeles, California. The Wind was certified gold by the RIAA in December 2003 and Zevon received five posthumous Grammy nominations, including Song of the Year for the ballad “Keep Me In Your Heart”. The Wind won two Grammys, with the album itself receiving the award for Best Contemporary Folk Album, while “Disorder in the House”, Zevon’s duet with Bruce Springsteen, was awarded Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal. These posthumous awards were the first Grammys of Zevon’s thirty-plus year career.” (Source: Wikipedia; much more about his life and career can be found here).
Keep Me In Your Heart (for a While): taken from the documentary about the achievement of his latest album “The Wind”, 2003. Keep Me In Your Heart: Written by Warren Zevon & Jorge Calderón
That’s it for the Letter W. So tell us, who are your favorite bands or music artists that begin with W?