DISCLAIMER THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2015 PAGES:
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…
S is for Sister Sledge – “We are Family” – oh, how that reminds me of 1979, in particular, on a bus ride to Washington DC with 39 other students from around the country. I was one of 40 students picked to attend a five-week journalism program (Blair Summer School for Journalism) at Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. It was my first experience being away from home without any family around and my first experience with dormitory living. At 16, I felt like I was in college, because we were in fact all housed on the Blair Academy campus. I grew very close to a few of the other students there and we were all like family for those weeks. This song was playing on the bus ride to Washington DC…where in a few short hours, unaware of what was before us, we were to be turned loose on the streets of DC and told to “Go find a story.” We budding journalists were excited as we said, “Okay, where?” and they said, “You’re the journalists. You’re in the nation’s capital. Go find a story!” and we were on our own to trek around the city for a day, with mounting pressures as, after all, this was most definitely a competition. Ah, what a great memory. That song brings up those days and every single time I hear it I am transported back to the summer of 1979 where I grew up quickly while learning a little about what it takes to be a journalist.
Sister Sledge is an American musical group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania originally composed of sisters Debbie Sledge, Joni Sledge, Kathy Sledge and Kim Sledge. Formed in 1971, they enjoyed marginal success but finally shot to mainstream success in 1979, the height of the disco era, with the release of their anthem, We Are Family.
S is for Steppenwolf – a Canadian rock group that was prominent from 1968-1972. Today, vocalist John Kay is the only original member, having served as frontman since the band’s formation in 1967. I can’t remember what year I saw them but it was at an outdoor venue in the Washington DC area. Since I only spent 6 years in DC, it had to be sometime between 1986-1991. I believe I was in Northern Virginia when I saw them and I remember having really good seats. I wish I could remember what it was that I was attending, but I think it was some kind of festival. Of course they played all their greats, including my favorites, Born to Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride and The Pusher.
Born to Be Wild – “The song was initially released in 1968, but it was subsequently included in many compilation albums and soundtracks. The first of these was the soundtrack for the movie Easy Rider, released in 1969. Unlike the album or single version, the song on this soundtrack is accompanied by the sounds of motorcycles as an introduction (another Steppenwolf song from their first album, “The Pusher“, was also used in the film). When the movie was in production, “Born to Be Wild” was used simply as a placeholder, since Peter Fonda had wanted Crosby, Stills & Nash to do the movie’s soundtrack. Eventually, it became clear that the song was well suited for the movie.”
Steppenwolf’s version of “Born to Be Wild” has been used in several movies, trailers, TV shows and commercials. The song’s Wikipedia page has an impressive list of over 30 movies, commercials, and TV shows that included the song. Here’s a clip from the Easy Rider movie:
Magic Carpet Ride – Here’s Steppenwolf performing the song in 1969 on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Ya gotta love the visual effects that the TV shows did back then:
My other Steppenwolf favorite is The Pusher. Here they are performing the song Live. The video didn’t list a date:
Here’s a neat bit of Steppenwolf trivia: “As the band was named after the novel Der Steppenwolf by German author Hermann Hesse*, who was born in the Black Forest town of Calw, the city invited them to come over and play in the International Hermann-Hesse-Festival 2002, along with other bands inspired by Hesse, such as Anyone’s Daughter. The concert drew considerable media coverage, with John Kay’s fluent German stunning those who did not know beforehand about his growing up in Germany – in fact, he was born Joachim Fritz Krauledat in Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany (now Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia).” Source: Wikipedia
*Herman Hesse’s best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, each of which explores an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.” Many of his themes resonated with the 1960s counterculture. Source: Herman Hesse Wikipedia page.
S is for Steely Dan – considered an American jazz-rock band, Steely Dan hit their peak in the late 1970s. I found this Wikipedia blurb on the band interesting: “Recorded with a revolving cast of session musicians, such as Larry Carlton, Steely Dan’s music is characterized by complex jazz-influenced structures and harmonies. (core members) Walter Becker and Donald Fagen are whimsical, often sarcastic lyricists, having written “cerebral, wry and eccentric” songs about drugs, love affairs, and crime. The pair are also known for their near-obsessive perfectionism in the recording studio: Over the year they took to record Gaucho (1980), an album of just seven songs, Becker and Fagen hired at least 42 studio musicians and 11 engineers.” Steely Dan toured from 1972 through 197 before retiring to the studio.
I always wondered where they got the name of their band and this has to be a first. They literally named themselves after a dildo. Yes, you read that correctly. “Fans of Beat Generation literature, Fagen and Becker named the band after “Steely Dan III from Yokohama”, a strap-on dildo mentioned in the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch.” (Source: Wikipedia). That’s just plain crazy! I love it!
Here are my favorite Steely Dan songs, from their debut album “Can’t Buy a Thrill”:
Reelin’ In the Years – from a performance on The Midnight Special in 1973, Steely Dan is introduced by the now-controversial Bill Cosby:
Do It Again – the video is from a 1973 performance on The Midnight Special and the audio is from a studio version of the song:
S is for Sass Jordan – Sass Jordan is a Canadian rock artist. I was turned on to her music when I first moved to Texas by my wild & crazy late friend Joanne. We were hanging out in the pool in her backyard when she put on Sass Jordan’s 1992 album Racine. I was hooked immediately! She does great live performances too. I wish she’d come to Austin! To pay it forward, I’m going to turn you on to Sass Jordan:
Make You a Believer – Performed live at Toronto Rocks 2003, with a special guest guitarist:
You Don’t Have to Remind Me – a Live Webcast performance at the Rose Theatre in Brampton, Canada
If You’re Gonna Love Me – from a June 30, 2012 performance in Hamilton, Ontario:
Who Do You Think You Are – studio version:
Goin’ Back Again – studio version:
S is for Styx – is an American rock band formed in Chicago who became famous in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. I became familiar with them from their 1975 album Equinox. I especially liked their hit single Lorilei, which reached #27 on the Billboard charts. It also contained the “rock anthem Suite Madame Blue, which gained the band considerable recognition and airplay on FM radio in the relatively new Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format.” (Source: Wikipedia). I really dig both of these songs:
Lorelei – performance in 1976:
Suite Madame Blue – recorded live, January 28, 1978 at Winterland in San Francisco, CA:
The other song from that album that I particularly like is Light Up. As vocalist and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung said, “There’s nothing better than sitting around with some good friends, getting high and listening to some good music” and that’s what this song is about:
Their breakthrough album, The Grand Illusion, which was actually their seventh album, was released in 1977. Several songs on that album got significant air play on AOR stations around the country. Songs Come Sail Away and Fooling Yourself were mega hits.
Come Sail Away – ©1977 A&M Records
Fooling Yourself –
According to keyboardist Dennis DeYoung, the album’s theme was the struggle to overcome self-deluding superficiality in order to affirm one’s genuine value. This theme was reflected in the lyrics of the album’s title track:
So if you think your life is complete confusion
’cause your neighbor’s got it made
just remember that it’s a grand illusion
and deep inside we’re all the same
Personally, I liked a few other songs on this album better that didn’t get as much airplay as the others:
Man in the Wilderness – (studio version with lyrics):
Castle Walls – (lyrics set to pictures of castles, cathedrals and mansions in this video):
Their 1978 album “Pieces of Eight” yielded these hit singles:
Renegade – I’m a big Wikipedia fan because I learn so much. Until I read about this song, I had no idea that it was about an outlaw about to be hung. How did I not know that? Because I’m more into the music over the lyrics: it’s the music that gets me into a song, not the lyrics so even though I’ve sung along with the lyrics hundreds of times, I never really paid attention to the story! (Shame on me). Anyway, here’s what Wikipedia says about the song: “The song is a first-person narrative of an outlaw, captured for a bounty, who recognizes that he is about to be executed for his criminal activities. The execution will be by hanging, as the outlaw laments, ‘Hangman is coming down from the gallows and I don’t have very long.’”
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) – ©1978 A&M Records
While 1979’s Cornerstone album produced Styx’s first #1 hit, Babe, I just didn’t care for the song. I wasn’t much into ballads back then so I didn’t pay attention to this album, though it was the #2 album on the charts in North America. In 1981, Paradise Theater was the band’s fourth consecutive multi-platinum album and included a few hits, The Best of Times and Too Much Time on My Hands, it also brought with it some weird controversy (and some titillating trivia!): According to Wikipedia, “The band was accused by a California religious group and later the Parents Music Resource Center of backmasking Satanic messages in their anti-cocaine anthem, “Snowblind”.[Backmasking is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward]. James Young has denied this charge during his introduction for “Snowblind” when played live. Dennis DeYoung has denied the accusation as well, joking on the In the Studio with Redbeard program “we had enough trouble to make the music sound right forward.” Also, James Young quotes,”If we were going to put something Satanic in our songs, we would have put it so it was in the song forward. Not so you would have to buy some $400 tape recorder to hear it.””
Too Much Time On My Hands – (Credit: Music video by Styx performing Too Much Time On My Hands. (C) 1981 A&M Records)
This fun song from the Kilroy Was Here album, Mr. Roboto, has an interesting story: “The song tells part of the story of Robert Orin Charles Kilroy (ROCK), in the rock opera Kilroy Was Here. The song is performed by Kilroy (as played by keyboardist Dennis DeYoung), a rock and roll performer who was placed in a futuristic prison for “rock and roll misfits” by the anti-rock-and-roll group the Majority for Musical Morality (MMM) and its founder Dr. Everett Righteous (played by guitarist James Young). The Roboto is a model of robot which does menial jobs in the prison. Kilroy escapes the prison by overpowering a Roboto prison guard and hiding inside its emptied-out metal shell. When Jonathan Chance (played by guitarist Tommy Shaw) finally meets Kilroy, at the very end of the song, Kilroy unmasks and says, I’m Kilroy! Kilroy!, ending the song.
The song heavily features synthesizers and the robot-like catchphrase was created with a vocoder.” (Source: Wikipedia)
S is for Supertramp – I LOVE THIS BAND!! An English band that formed in 1969, their music brings back so many fond memories: like memories of sitting on a hillside at Goat Island in Niagara Falls, hanging out with my friend Sandy when some guy with a guitar happened by, joined us and he started strumming Supertramp songs while we sang along; like memories of summer days and evenings spent at Oppenheim Park, drinking and partying with zillions of friends…Memories of carefree days gone by. I saw them in concert back in 1979 at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.
I like so many Supertramp songs, I thought I’d just post a bunch of music videos and live concert footage here. But Supertramp videos are hard to come by on YouTube. I fear my presentation of Supertramp is going to be meager at best, which kills me because THEY’RE SO GOOD!! If I find full albums, I’ll go ahead and post those because you just can’t go wrong listening to a full Supertramp album! I found it interesting the Supertramp’s album did much better than their singles in the charts, although they had a number of hit singles. It’s not surprising though, each one of their albums is SO GOOD!
I was first introduced to Supertramp with their 1974 Crime of the Century album:
Title Track Crime of the Century:
School – Here’s Roger Hogdson, co-founder and legendary voice of Supertramp, performing School live at the Pacific Amphitheater in 2013:
Bloody Well Right – from Alive in America album:
Dreamer – (studio version from Crime of the Century album)
Rudy – Live performance with great train visual effects:
If Everyone Was Listening – from the Alive in America album
Supertramp’s next successful album was Even In the Quietest Moments, released in 1977 and spawned its hit single Give a Little Bit:
Even in the Quietest Moments – Says Roger Hogdson about this song: “Even in the Quietest Moments was written during a very powerful time of Spiritual searching and discovery for me. I used to spend time alone in nature, camping, and one night while playing my guitar and looking up at the stars, the song came to me; it just flowed out of me. It’s a love song to God but it could also be to a woman. I’ve left it ambiguous so that people can take it how they wish. Basically, it’s just about a guy who’s searching. I’m a seeker. I think I’ll always be a seeker.” ~ Roger Hogdson
This video was taken from the Roger Hogdson YouTube channel:
Lover Boy – studio version from the Even in the Quietest Moments:
Fool’s Overture – Here’s a cool kayaking video featuring Fool’s Overture (you can subscribe to Kayaking Music Videos on YouTube):
Considered their arrival at Superstardom: “The band’s switch to a more pop-oriented approach peaked with their most popular album, Breakfast in America, released in March 1979, which reached number 3 in the UK and number 1 in the United States and Canada and spawned four successful singles (more than their first five albums combined): “The Logical Song” (no. 6 U.S., no. 7 U.K.), “Goodbye Stranger” (no. 15 U.S., no. 57 U.K.), “Take the Long Way Home” (no. 10 U.S.), and “Breakfast in America” (no. 9 U.K.). In March 1979, the group embarked on a 10 month 120 date tour for Breakfast In America that required 52 tons of gear, 10 miles of cable, $5 million worth of equipment and a 40 man crew. The tour broke all previous concert attendance records in Europe and Canada. Upon this tour’s conclusion, the band members decided to take a rest from touring and recording for a while.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Breakfast in America –
The Logical Song – from The Very Best of Supertramp album:
Take the Long Way Home –
S is for Sammy Hagar – I saw Sammy Hagar when he opened up for ZZ Top at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium back in 1983. As former frontman for Montrose, he opened the show with my favorite Montrose song (Bad Motor Scooter): you can see more about Montrose in my M is for Montrose section here at the A-Z (LINK).
Wikipedia says of Sammy Hagar: “also known as The Red Rocker, is an American rock vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and musician. Hagar came to prominence in the 1970s with the hard rock band Montrose. He afterwards launched a successful solo career, scoring an enduring hit in 1984 with “I Can’t Drive 55”. He enjoyed huge commercial success when he replaced David Lee Roth as the lead singer of Van Halen in 1985, but left the band in 1996. He returned to the band for a 2 year reunion from 2003 to 2005. On March 12, 2007, Hagar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Van Halen.
Outside of music, he founded the Cabo Wabo Tequila brand and restaurant chain, as well as Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum.” Interesting!!
Several of my favorite Sammy Hagar songs come from his Standing Hampton album, released in 1981:
I’ll Fall in Love Again –
Baby’s on Fire – studio version from the Standing Hampton album:
There’s Only One Way to Rock – performing live at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand on August 24, 2013. He’s very cordial and interactive with the audience:
Heavy Metal – This is a crazy comic book video I found on YouTube (Evil Conduct’s channel) and from the beginning of the video, it looks like the music was taken from Heavy Metal compilation album:
I Can’t Drive 55 – (Yep, that’s my motto!) – I remember this being the title track of a Road Trip tape that the Asst. Music Director of WCXR, the radio station I was working at, made for me as I was to embark on my move from Washington DC to Austin. This was back in 1991 and he made me the most badass road-trippin’ tape! Every time I hear this song, I think of that. Sweet memory.
Here’s the music video by Sammy Hagar performing I Can’t Drive 55. (C) 1984 Geffen Records
S is for Stories – Were they a one-hit wonder? There were so many One-Hit Wonders in the 60s and 70s. I only know Stories for their #1 hit cover of Hot Chocolate’s song Brother Louie (The song about a black girl and her white boyfriend had been a UK hit for Hot Chocolate before Stories covered it). To read more about the band, check out the Stories Wikipedia page.
Here they are performing in 1973 on the Midnight Special:
S is for Simple Minds – “Simple Minds are a Scottish rock band formed in 1977. They achieved commercial success in the early 1980s and, despite various personnel changes, continue to record and tour. The band scored a string of hit singles, and are best known internationally for their 1985 hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” (UK No. 7, US No. 1, CAN #1), from the soundtrack of the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. Their other more prominent hits include “Alive and Kicking” (UK No. 7, US No. 3, CAN #3) and “Belfast Child” (UK #1).”
Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Music video by Simple Minds performing Don’t You (Forget About Me). (P) (C) 2010 Virgin Records America, Inc.. All rights reserved.
Alive and Kicking – Music video by Simple Minds performing Alive And Kicking (2003 Digital Remaster):
S is for Seals and Crofts – were an American soft rock duo made up of James “Jim” Seals (born October 17, 1941) and Darrell “Dash” Crofts (born August 14, 1938). They are best known for their Hot 100 No. 6 hits “Summer Breeze”, “Diamond Girl” and “Get Closer”.
I love their harmonies in Summer Breeze –
Diamond Girl – Live performance on the Midnight Special in 1973:
Get Closer – Here Seals and Crofts performs with Carolyn Willis in 1976:
S is for Sugarloaf – “was an American rock band in the 1970s. The band, which originated in Denver, Colorado, scored two Top 10 hits, with the singles Green-Eyed Lady and Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.” More info can be found at the Sugarloaf Wikipedia page.
Green-Eyed Lady – peaked at #3 on the Billboard chart in October of 1970. Great video below lists tidbits of trivia and the lyrics:
Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You – (1974): Interesting bit of trivia here that I found on their Wikipedia page: “This song was notable because it contained a practical joke at the expense of CBS Records, which had just turned them down for a recording contract. The song includes the sound of a touch-tone telephone number being dialed near the beginning and ending of the song. Those numbers were an unlisted phone number at CBS Records in Manhattan.” Ha!
Here’s quite a clever video utilizing retro telephone parts to go with this song:
S is for Sonny & Cher – since we’re back in the early 70s, let’s go back even farther and chat a bit about Sonny & Cher. I remember watching their variety television shows The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and The Sonny & Cher Show. I was absolutely awed by Cher and I loved their onstage banter. Not to mention Cher’s incredible outfits! Like they need any introduction, but here are a few Wikipedia paragraphs that sum up their career together:
“Sonny & Cher were an American pop music duo, actors, singers and entertainers made up of husband-and-wife team Sonny and Cher Bono in the 1960s and 1970s. The couple started their career in the mid-1960s as R&B backing singers for record producer Phil Spector.
Sonny and Cher Show, 1976
Sonny & Cher during a rehearsal break at ABC Television’s Wembley studios on 26 May 1966.
The pair first achieved fame with two hit songs in 1965, “Baby Don’t Go” and “I Got You Babe”. Signing with Atco/Atlantic Records, they released three studio albums in the late 1960s, as well as the soundtrack recording for an unsuccessful movie, Good Times. In 1972, after four years of silence, the couple returned to the studio and released two other albums under the MCA/Kapp Records label.
In the 1970s, they also positioned themselves as media personalities with two top ten TV shows in the US, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and The Sonny & Cher Show. The couple’s career as a duo ended in 1975 following their divorce. In the decade they spent together, Sonny and Cher sold over 40 million records worldwide. Performing under her first name, Cher went on to a highly successful career as a solo singer and actress, while Sonny Bono was eventually elected to Congress as a Republican U.S. Representative from California. The two performers were inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998, right after Sonny’s death in a skiing accident.”
Here are my favorite Sonny & Cher songs (for Cher as a solo artist, see the Cher section of my A-Z/C page):
I Got You, Babe –This song, released in 1965, reached #1 in both the US and the UK. Here’s a nice photo-montage video:
Another video of the duo performing the song on Top of the Pops, 1965:
This is a fun video clip showcasing their comedic chemistry as the pair opens the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour with their song Two of Us, then they do a little stand-up banter and close the show with a snippet of I Got You Babe:
The Beat Goes On – This song, written by Bono, went to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1967:
S is for the Spinners – How about a little Motown? Ah, the great R&B sound of the 60s and 70s!
The Spinners in 1965. From left to right: Billy Henderson, Edgar Edwards, Bobby Smith, Henry Fambrough, and Pervis Jackson. (PHOTO CREDIT: “The Spinners (1965)” by Motown – Billboard, page 25 10 July 1965. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
“The Spinners are an American soul music vocal group, active for over 50 years, and with a long run of classic hits especially during the 1970s. The group, originating from Detroit, still tours regularly as of 2014 although Henry Fambrough is the only original member.” See their Wikipedia page for band history.
I’ll Be There – a 1972 performance on Soul Train:
Could It Be I’m Falling in Love – 1972 performance on Soul Train:
Rubberband Man – from the 1976 album Happiness is Being with the Spinners, a photo-montage video:
Then Came You – with Dionne Warwick, from The Very Best of The Spinners album (studio version):
One of a Kind (Love Affair) – from The Very Best of The Spinners album (studio version):
They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play) –
Working My Way Back to You – Soul Train performance. Motown groups were just the best at synced choreographed performances, weren’t they?
S is for Steve Miller Band – an American rock band formed by Steve Miller (vocals and lead guitar) in 1966 in San Francisco, California. Known mainly for the many mid-70s singles that are considered “staples” of today’s Classic Rock radio. 1973 saw their single The Joker (title track) go to the #1 slot. Three years later (1976), the Fly Like An Eagle album was released, yielding three singles: the title track Fly Like an Eagle, Take the Money and Run and Rock’n Me. The following year their 1977 album Book of Dreams released with three major hits: Jet Airliner, Swingtown and Jungle Love – which btw, later became the song that played over the opening credits of the 8th season of Everybody Loves Raymond tv series!
Here is something that I’d like an answer to: the Steve Miller Wikipedia page references the recurring image of a Pegasus on SMB album covers. Here’s what it said: “A recurring image in Steve Miller Band album covers is the depiction of a Pegasus or winged-horse. It first appeared on the cover of Book of Dreams. A horse’s head appears on the cover of their 1974-1978 Greatest Hits album. The Pegasus appears again on the cover of their Circle of Love album. The Pegasus would be given a retrofuturistic image on the cover of Living in the 20th Century. The Pegasus again appears on the cover of their 1991 greatest hits album. The silhouette of a horse’s head appears on the cover of Wide River.”
Anyone know what the significance of this is? If you know, please let us know in the Comment section below.
Here are my favorite Steve Miller Band songs:
The Joker –
Take the Money and Run – a later live performance (date unknown):
Rock’n Me –
Jungle Love – studio version (year unknown):
Jet Airliner – a jet airliner video with lyrics!
S is for Squeeze – Squeeze is a British band that came to prominence in the United Kingdom during the new wave period of the late 1970s and continued recording successfully in the 1980s and 1990s. They are known in the UK for their many hit songs. Though not as commercially successful in the United States, Squeeze had American chart hits with “Tempted”, “Hourglass” and “853-5937.”
Tempted is one of my favorite songs.
S is for Soft Cell – Soft Cell is an English synthpop duo who came to prominence in the early 1980s, consisting of vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball. The duo are principally known for their 1981 hit version of “Tainted Love” (which charted to #8 in the US) and 1981 debut album entitled Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. All I know of them is their Tainted Love song but I really dig it:
Tainted Love – 1991 video
S is for Santana – “Santana is a Latin rock band. Founded in San Francisco during the late 1960s, it is based around the compositions and playing of lead guitarist and founder Carlos Santana. The band first came to widespread public attention when their performance of their Latin rock song “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock in 1969 provided a contrast to other acts on the bill. This exposure helped propel their first album, also named Santana, into a hit, followed in the next two years by the successful Abraxas and Santana III.” (Source: Wikipedia)
A month after their Woodstock appearance came their debut album Santana and the hit single from that album, Evil Ways, which became a Top 10 hit. Here’s a video of their Woodstock performance:
Black Magic Woman was their next hit, peaking at #4 in 1970, from the second album, Abraxas. Here’s a 1998 performance of the song:
Santana thereafter went on a few hiatuses and suffered commercial decline with albums that didn’t perform well (sales- and hit singles-wise). Then, in 1999, they released the album Supernatural, which shot them to newfound success. The lead single, Smooth, jumped to #1 in the Hot 100 chart, “sparking an unstoppable commercial frenzy” and taking the album also to #1, where it remained for twelve (non-consecutive) weeks. Not only was Santana hitting highs in the US, they were peaking internationally. A second single from the album, Maria Maria, also hit a #1 spot on the Top 100 list. “Eventually the album reached 15x platinum in the US, and sold 30 million copies worldwide. The album came 28 years after their last US number 1, which was Santana in 1971, according to Guinness Book of World Records, this is the longest gap between US number one albums for the same artist.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Santana went on to release several more albums after that. Their Wikipedia page details the chronology.
S is for Simon & Garfunkel – Who doesn’t like Simon & Garfunkel?! For those who aren’t familiar with this dynamic duo: “Simon and Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of guitarist/singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. The duo first met as children in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York in 1953, where they first learned to harmonize with one another and began writing original material…Simon & Garfunkel were one of the most popular artists of the 1960s, and were viewed as counterculture icons of the decade’s social revolution, alongside artists such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Their biggest hits—including “I Am a Rock” (1965), “Homeward Bound” (1965), “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” (1966), “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (1966), “Mrs. Robinson” (1968), “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1969), “The Boxer” (1969), and “Cecilia” (1969)—reached number one on several charts worldwide. They have reunited several times since their split, most famously for 1981’s “The Concert in Central Park”, which attracted more than 500,000 people, making it one of the most attended concerts ever.” (Source: Wikipedia)
I was young when all these songs were charting. I got into Simon & Garfunkel when I was in college but I was familiar with the songs, of course. I remember vividly hearing Cecilia for the first time when it was playing as a 45 on a record player, being played by an older boy, at whose home we were visiting. He played that song over and over again and everybody was really “groovin’” on it, I definitely remember that!
Kick back and enjoy some of their iconic songs of yesteryear:
I Am a Rock –
Homeward Bound – performing in Central Park (NYC, September 1981):
Scarborough Fair/Canticle – studio version with lyrics video:
A Hazy Shade of Winter – this is a nice video filmed in January of 2007 by a student at Sussex University Brighton, (Sussex Uk) “when snow fell early in the morning.”
Mrs. Robinson – The Graduate music video:
Bridge Over Troubled Water – performed in Central Park (NYC, September 1981):
The Boxer – a lyrics video:
Cecilia – studio version:
Other great Simon & Garfunkel hits are:
Sounds of Silence – Live performance 1966:
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) – live performance:
My Little Town – studio version:
S is for Stevie Ray Vaughan – Since I’ve been living in Austin, TX for the last 24 years, I can’t leave the letter S without paying tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Austin has a well-known music scene and it’s also known for its music venues, with Austin City Limits probably being the most recognized. Austin being the Music Capital of the World and Stevie Ray Vaughan hailing from Austin with a lengthy Blues career in Texas, it’s only fitting that a popular tourist attraction stands proud at the beautiful intersection of the Town Lake Hike & Bike Trail downtown: a bronze sculpture of SRV, by artist Ralph Helmick, commemorating the life and music of this Austin singer/songwriter.
There’s a great documentary that just came out last year called The Rise of a Texas Bluesman – Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1983). Stevie Ray Vaughan is a household name here in Texas, even to those not into the Blues.
SRV’s Wikipedia page has this to say: “Stephen Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990), known as Stevie Ray Vaughan, was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. In spite of a short-lived mainstream career spanning seven years, he is widely considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of blues music, and one of the most important figures in the revival of blues in the 1980s. AllMusic describes him as “a rocking powerhouse of a guitarist who gave blues a burst of momentum in the ’80s, with influence still felt long after his tragic death.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Vaughan began playing guitar at the age of seven, inspired by his older brother Jimmie (of the Fabulous Thunderbirds). In 1971 he dropped out of high school, and moved to Austin the following year…
…Vaughan received several music awards during his lifetime and posthumously. In 1983, readers of Guitar Player voted him as Best New Talent and Best Electric Blues Guitar Player. In 1984, the Blues Foundation named him Entertainer of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist of the Year, and in 1987 Performance Magazine honored him with Rhythm and Blues Act of the Year. Earning six Grammy Awards and ten Austin Music Awards, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2014. Rolling Stone ranked Vaughan as the twelfth greatest guitarist of all time. Also, on December 16, 2014, he was named as one of eight artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a part of the 2015 class.”
Regarding his untimely death, the lengthy article goes on to say, “On August 27, 1990, Vaughan had just performed with Eric Clapton at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. All of the musicians boarded four helicopters bound for Chicago, which were waiting on a nearby golf course. According to a witness, there was haze and fog with patches of low clouds. Despite the conditions, the pilots were instructed to fly over a 1000-foot ski hill. Vaughan, along with three members of Eric Clapton’s entourage (agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and assistant tour manager Colin Smythe), boarded the third of the four helicopters—a Bell 206B Jet Ranger—flying to Meigs Field. At about 12:50 am (CDT), the helicopter departed from an elevation of about 850 feet, veered to the left and crashed into the hill. All on board, including the pilot, Jeff Brown, were killed instantly.”
Stevie Ray Vaughan leaves behind a legacy of music that will keep him alive forever. Here are just a few of his incredible works:
Pride & Joy – studio version
Change It – studio version
Texas Flood – live at Montreaux 1985:
The Sky is Crying –
The House is Rockin’ – performance from June 9, 1990:
Crossfire – 1989 performance:
Life By the Drop – Besides Change It, this is probably my favorite SRV song. Great photo-montage video:
Tightrope – Live from Austin:
Love Struck Baby –
Wait, there’s one more band I want to showcase:
S is for the Smithereens – The Smithereens are an American rock band from Carteret, New Jersey, United States. The group formed in 1980 with members Pat DiNizio (vocals & guitar), Jim Babjak (guitar & vocals), Mike Mesaros (bass guitar & vocals), and Dennis Diken (drums & percussion). The band’s name comes from a Yosemite Sam catchphrase, “Varmint, I’m a-gonna blow you to smithereens!”
I was introduced to the Smithereens with their album Blow Up (released in 1991, though I heard it much later). I was in the midst of a breakup and this CD went on many a road trip with me. I remember driving in the Texas Hill Country, blasting this album, and feeling stronger every day. I don’t know why it made me feel so good, it just did. These are all my favorite songs from that album:
Indigo Blues –
Top of the Pops – performance in 1991 promoting their Blow Up album on the Dennis Miller Show:
Too Much Passion – performing on Jay Leno, June 9, 1992 on their album promotion tour:
Tell Me When Did Things Go So Wrong – this is one of my favorite Smithereens song:
Evening Dress –
Get Ahold of My Heart – promoting songwriter Diane Warren, who wrote this song performed by the Smithereens:
Anywhere You Are – photo montage video:
Other songs from other albums that I like:
Blood and Roses – In 1986, this song reached #14 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart:
Only a Memory – climbed to #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart in 1988:
A Girl Like You – this song, from their hit album “11”, climbed to #38 on the U.S. Hot 100, #3 on the Modern Rock chart and #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart:
Now I’m done. Wow, S was a big letter for bands! So who are your favorite S bands? Who did you like best here? Thanks for visiting my A-Z post!