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…
J is for Jefferson Airplane – I could’ve started this post with Jimi Hendrix, but frankly, I’m burned out on Jimi. So I’m going to start with another great band from the Love Generation. Who remembers the 1973 movie “Go Ask Alice”? It was an anti-drug testimonial based on the book of the same name, who’s author is still in question as it is authored by “Anonymous.” Supposedly it was a real life diary of a girl named Alice who gets addicted to drugs. The title of the book, and hence, the movie, was taken from a line in Jefferson Airplane’s song White Rabbit: “Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall” which is referencing the Alice in Wonderland Adventures when Alice eats a piece of mushroom and grows very large. I read the book, saw the movie and LOVE Jefferson Airplane! Here’s Jefferson Airplane performing White Rabbit on the Smothers Brothers show in 1967:
Another one of my favorite Jefferson Airplane songs is Somebody to Love. I remember the first time I was able to hold the note as long as Grace Slick does and I was over the moon excited. That’s a really loooong note! See for yourself. Here’s Jefferson Airplane performing the song on American Bandstand in 1967:
J is for Janis Joplin – speaking of books, did you ever read any of Janis’ biographies? Her life was fascinating. A hard, tough life. Even after she found fame. She was a very tortured soul. And that torture found release in her music. I recently saw the musical play Love, Janis at Zach Theatre in Austin. Based on the book written by her sister, Love, Janis is an intimate and revealing look into the life of this rock queen through the many letters Janis wrote to her family while she was becoming a superstar. The musical was OUTSTANDING. MIND-BLOWING. EXPLOSIVE. It was so good, I went to see it twice. The woman who portrayed Janis SOUNDED JUST LIKE HER! It was as if it was Janis performing on that stage, not Mary Bridgit Davies.
I’m posting this as a tribute to my Aunt Mary, who loved this song. Wish you were still here with us Aunt Mary! This one’s for you:
Janis performing Piece of My Heart Live in Germany, 1968:
This is a really fantastic interview with Janis Joplin on the Dick Cavett show on July 18, 1969: http://youtu.be/CmgSzbdL1So?list=PL19843243B5510C82
Click here for Part 2 of the Dick Cavett appearance as she performs To Love Somebody and Try (Just a Little Bit Harder).
And of course, we have to hear Mercedes Benz! I LOVE her giggle at the end!
J is for Journey: No matter how old you are, at some point you life has to have been touched by Journey. The group was described by Allmusic as having cemented a reputation as “one of America’s most beloved (and sometimes hated) commercial rock/pop bands.” Over the years, Journey songs have been heard or referred to in numerous films, television shows, video games, and even on Broadway. The band’s songs have been covered by multiple artists and adopted by sports teams. Most notably, “Don’t Stop Believin’” was heard in the final episode of The Sopranos, adapted by the television show Glee, sung by the Family Guy cast, adopted as the unofficial anthem of the 2005 and 2010 World Series champion baseball teams, performed by The Chipmunks in their 2008 album Undeniable, and sung by the cast of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages. (I saw Rock of Ages last year at the Long Center in Austin. GREAT show. Rockin’ it was indeed!)
Don’t Stop Believin’ Music video by Journey performing Don’t Stop Believin’ Live in Houston, TX. (C) 2005 Sony Music Entertainment .
I saw Journey in concert, back in 1980. They were on tour with the Rolling Stones. It was a good show but it would’ve been so much better had it not rained throughout their entire performance in the outdoor arena. I’d love to see them again, but next time either inside or under sunny skies!
Just the Same Way Music video by Journey performing Just The Same Way. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 82,112 (C) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT
Feeling that Way Music video by Journey performing Feeling That Way. (C) 2011 Sony Music Entertainment
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ Music video by Journey performing Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’. (C) 1979 Sony Music Entertainment
Any Way You Want It Music video by Journey performing Any Way You Want It. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 1,546,426 (C) 1980 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT
Lights Music video by Journey performing Lights. (C) 1978 Sony Music Entertainment
Wheel in the Sky Music video by Journey performing Wheel In the Sky. (C) 1978 Sony Music Entertainment
J is for Joe Walsh – a former member of Barnstorm, the James Gang and the Eagles, Joe Walsh has a stellar reputation as a guitarist among his musician peers: “Walsh has been praised by many of the best rock guitarists, including Led Zeppelin’s former guitarist, Jimmy Page who praised Walsh by saying “He has a tremendous feel for the instrument. I’ve loved his style since the early James Gang.” Cream’s former guitarist, Eric Clapton said that “He’s one of the best guitarists to surface in some time. I don’t listen to many records, but I listen to his.” The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend commented that “Joe Walsh is a fluid and intelligent player. There’re not many like that around.”” (Source: Wikipedia)
My very favorite Joe Walsh song is one of his earlier works (when he was with his band Barnstorm), Turn to Stone:
Probably most known for his song Rocky Mountain Way, he also had a hit song In the City that was in the 1970s cult classic movie The Warriors. Here’s the music video with clips from that movie.
Here’s Rocky Mountain Way from his 1973 performance on the Midnight Special:
A bit of trivia: Walsh had often joked about running for office, announcing a mock presidential campaign in 1980 and a vice presidential campaign in 1992. Walsh ran for President of the United States in 1980, promising to make “Life’s Been Good” the new national anthem if he won, and ran on a platform of “Free Gas For Everyone.”Though Walsh was not old enough to actually assume the office, he said that he wanted to raise public awareness of the election. In 1992 Walsh ran for vice president with Rev. Goat Carson under the slogan “We Want Our Money Back!”
Here’s Joe performing Life’s Been Good from the Strat Pack Concert at London’s Wembley Arena.
Joe Walsh (James Gang) doing Funk #49 in Sweden:
Life of Illusion:
J is for James Taylor – American singer-songwriter and guitarist, mainly acoustic, is a five-time Grammy award winner. He achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with Fire and Rain, which climbed to #3 on the charts and then in 1971 his song You’ve Got a Friend hit #1. The song was written by Carole King and both received Grammys, he for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and she for Song of the Year. Here’s the duo doing You’ve Got a Friend in the early 70s:
His breakthrough hit Fire and Rain:
I saw James Taylor in a wonderful amphitheater in Baltimore one fabulously temperate Fall evening and I came away from that concert thinking to myself that if James Taylor and I had grown up in the same neighborhood, we would’ve been great friends. His heart and soul spoke to me. The way he related to his audience and fans was so loving. He seemed so incredibly down-to-earth … and I’m just naturally drawn to down-to-earth people. Here’s sweet James Taylor in 1979 singing How Sweet It Is:
Taylor’s song Carolina On My Mind, a tribute to his growing up years in Chapel Hill, NC, has a special place in my heart. My parents retired and left their home of 35 years and retired to the coast of North Carolina back in 1990. I was working at a classic rock radio station at the time and put together a mix of song snippets that had meaning for our family. Two of James Taylor songs were included: You’ve Got a Friend and Carolina on My Mind. Every time I hear that song I think of my parents’ going-away party and how, surrounded by friends and family, I played the song mix over the restaurant speakers and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place (even the waitresses were teary-eyed)! Here’s James doing Carolina On My Mind, which happened to be the first recording by a non-British artist released by Apple Records.
Something in the Way She Moves – He starts this performance off with some unexpected humor:
Sweet Baby James – I found a great version of this song on a YouTube channel by SparkTV. This is James performing “Sweet Baby James” on BBC back in September 1970. This performance is from a show called “James Taylor in Concert: Sings James Taylor.” This song was written for his nephew James back in 1969 while he was traveling back to North Carolina.
There’s an eerie connection between James Taylor and my next J artist. “On December 7, 1980, Taylor had an encounter with Mark David Chapman, who would assassinate John Lennon just one day later. Taylor told the BBC in 2010 “The guy had sort of pinned me to the wall and was glistening with maniacal sweat and talking some freak speak about what he was going to do and his stuff with how John was interested, and he was going to get in touch with John Lennon. And it was surreal to actually have contact with the guy 24 hours before he shot John.” The next night Taylor, who lived in the next building from Lennon, heard the assassination occur. Taylor commented “I heard him shot—five, just as quick as you could pull the trigger, about five explosions.”
J is for John Cougar Mellencamp
“John Mellencamp (born October 7, 1951), also known as John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and actor. He is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. He rose to superstardom in the 1980s while “honing an almost startlingly plainspoken writing style that, starting in 1982, yielded a string of Top 10 singles”, including “Hurts So Good,” “Jack & Diane,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Pink Houses,” “Lonely Ol’ Night,” “Small Town,” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” “Paper in Fire,” and “Cherry Bomb.” He has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and has amassed 22 Top 40 hits in the United States. In addition, he holds the record for the most tracks by a solo artist to hit number one on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, with seven, and has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning one. Mellencamp released his latest album, Plain Spoken, on September 23, 2014, to widespread critical acclaim.
Mellencamp is also one of the founding members of Farm Aid, an organization that began in 1985 with a concert in Champaign, Illinois, to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Farm Aid concerts have remained an annual event over the past 30 years, and as of 2015 the organization has raised over $48 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture.” (Source: Wikipedia)
I couldn’t keep track of whether he was to be called John Cougar or John Mellencamp. Apparently the stage moniker Johnny Cougar (John Cougar) was forced upon him by his then manager back in the early days but he never liked it and was totally against it. After he gained commercial success – and a new manager – he added his legal surname to his work, becoming John Cougar Mellencamp. Then later he dropped the Cougar altogether and now is simply John Mellencamp.
Whatever his name, his music rocks! Here are my favorite John Cougar Mellencamp songs:
Crumblin’ Down –
Cherry Bomb –
Small Town – Live at Farm Aid 1987:
Lonely Ol’ Night –
Rain on the Scarecrow –
R.O.C.K. in the USA –
Paper in Fire –
Pink Houses –
J is for John Lennon: Certainly John Lennon needs no introduction. December 8th 1980 is etched in history as the day John Lennon was shot and killed outside his home in New York City by the young man obsessed with John and the book Catcher in the Rye. Here’s “The Day John Lennon Died,” a 2010 documentary with a look at Lennon and his death through archival footage and interviews.
My favorite John Lennon songs, besides Imagine, are Whatever Gets You Through the Night and Mind Games:
Whatever Gets You Through the Night – with Elton John on keyboards and vocals. John Lennon credited his collaborator as “starring” Elton John.
Watching the Wheels – In the lyrics, John writes about how he wasn’t interested in fame anymore and devoting himself to his family (his wife Yoko Ono and his son Sean) was what made him happy. The song makes a statement that taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy. Working way too hard in an attempt to be ultra-productive is, in the end, quite unfulfilling.
Imagine – Here’s a great video with this song that moves all who hear it:
J is for Joan Jett – Often referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll,” Joan Jett is a powerhouse of talent. She “is an American rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and occasional actress, best known for her work with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, including their hit record “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 from March 20 to May 1, 1982, as well as for their other popular recordings including “Crimson and Clover”, “I Hate Myself for Loving You”, “Do You Wanna Touch Me”, “Light of Day”, “Love is All Around” and “Bad Reputation”. She has three albums that have been certified Platinum or Gold, and has been a feminist icon throughout her career. She is considered by the Toronto Sun as the Queen of Rock ‘n Roll.”
I also adore her for her work with PETA and Farm Sanctuary!
My favorite Joan Jett song is I Hate Myself for Loving You:
I Love Rock ‘n Roll – music video from 1982:
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts cover rendition of Tommy James and the Shondells’ Crimson and Clover hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982:
Joan Jett isn’t just a musician. She also has film, stage and television to add to her resume. She made her acting debut in 1987, co-starring with Gena Rowlands and Michael J. Fox in the Paul Schrader film Light of Day. You can read so much more about Joan Jett’s life and works at her Wikipedia page.
J is for Judas Priest – “Judas Priest is an English heavy metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1969. The band has sold over 45 million albums to date. MTV ranked them the second “Greatest Metal Band” of all time.
Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the late 1970s, the band struggled with indifferently-produced records, repeated changes of drummer and a lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980 when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel, which helped shoot them to rock superstar status.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Their hit from that album, Living After Midnight, was being played on the radio, but it wasn’t until their 1982 release of the Screaming for Vengeance album that put the band on my radar. The hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” was a song that always had me reaching for the volume knob and cranking it up. It reminds me of a bunch of us cruising around in my brother’s van taking road trips with this song blaring to the max.
‘Living After Midnight’ – describes my life in the early 80s, where we didn’t even THINK about going out until 10 or 11pm (now, most nights I’m going to bed before 10:00!) We’d stroll into the bars around midnight and that’s when the party started. We’d rock all night long and roll home as the sun was rising. Ah, those days. If only life could be as simple as it was back then…
Music video by Judas Priest performing Living After Midnight. (C) 1980 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited:
I never have been a huge heavy metal fan but I have to give props to Judas Priest for their contribution to the genre. In addition to their sound, Judas Priest, and in particular lead singer Rob Halford, are heralded as being revolutionaries in heavy metal fashion. “Halford wore a leather costume on stage as early as 1978 to coincide with the promotion for the Killing Machine (Hell Bent for Leather in the USA) album. In a 1998 interview, Halford described the leather subculture as the inspiration for this look. Shortly after appropriating the leather look, Halford started appearing onstage on a roaring motor bike. Soon, the rest of the band followed. It was not long before other bands appropriated the leather look.” (Source: Heavy Metal Fashion, Wikipedia)
J is for Jimi Hendrix – Alright, alright, I guess I have to include Jimi Hendrix. I mean, it would be sacrilege not to, after all. Having worked at a classic rock radio station for years and forever listening to classic rock stations, I get so burned out on Jimi Hendrix. I mean every single block of music seems to include a Hendrix tune. Not too long ago, I had the music channel blasting in my house and I was working around doing whatever. I can’t recall which Hendrix song came on but it was literally hurting my ears. I had to go shut it off. And at that very moment I stopped and said to myself, “Holy shit, I’m getting old. I just turned off Jimi Hendrix because it hurt my ears. It’s all downhill from here…”
So for all you Hendrix fans out there, this is for you:
Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) – Born Johnny Allen Hendrix, he was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.”
Need I say more??
All Along the Watchtower –
Foxy Lady – at Miami Pop, 1968:
Hey Joe –
Star Spangled Banner – live at Woodstock, 1969:
Purple Haze –
Voodoo Child –
Who are your favorite J bands or artists? Who would you have chosen to include here? Who did I forget??