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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…
R is for Rare Earth – An American Blues/Rock band who saw it primary success during the early 70s. “The band was one of the first acts signed to a new Motown imprint that would be dedicated to white rock acts. The record company did not have a name for the new label yet and the band jokingly suggested Motown call the label “Rare Earth.” To the band’s surprise, Motown decided to do just that!…
“Rare Earth had a number of Top 40 hits in the 1970–71 period, including covers of The Temptations’ “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and “Get Ready”. Both were more successful than The Temptations’ originals, with “Get Ready” being their biggest hit, peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart….Other hits in 1971 were “I Just Want to Celebrate”, which peaked at #7 on the pop charts, and “Hey, Big Brother”, which peaked at #19. They did not chart significantly after 1971. Nevertheless the band continued to record into the 1990s.” (Source: Wikipedia)
I Just Want to Celebrate – Live on the Midnight Special
Get Ready – Live in 1973
(I Know) I’m Losing You – Rare Earth’s cover of the Temptations hit. Interesting tidbit: Motown was Rare Earth’s recording label (as” Motown’s Rare Earth,” named after the band) and although Rare Earth wasn’t the only white band signed to the label, they were the only big hit-making act signed by Motown that consisted only of white members.
Hey, Big Brother – (1972) – This was Rare Earth’s last big hit.
R is for Robert Palmer (19 January 1949 – 26 September 2003) – he was an English singer-songwriter best known for his incredible music videos that went with his top hits Addicted to Love and Simply Irrisistible. Heavily rotated on MTV, this music video ended up being imitated many times over.
Wikipedia references the music videos: “His iconic music videos directed by British fashion photographer Terence Donovan for the hits “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible” featured identically dressed dancing women with pale faces, dark eye makeup and bright red lipstick, which resembled the women in the art of Patrick Nagel, an artist popular in the 1980s.”
Here are the famous videos so you all can re-live those early MTV days:
Addicted to Love – was the No. 1 single from his album Riptide in 1985. Palmer also won a Grammy in 1987 for the song (Best Male Rock Vocal Performance). [Music video by Robert Palmer performing Addicted to Love. (C) 1985 The Island Def Jam Music Group]:
Simply Irrisistible – original music video
Simply Irresistible also proved to be an effective advertising campaign for Pepsi:
“Palmer died in a Paris hotel room from a heart attack on 26 September 2003 at the age of 54. He had been in the French capital after recording a television appearance in London for Yorkshire TV, a retrospective titled “My Kinda People”. He was survived by his parents, his son Jim and daughter Jane, and by his girlfriend Mary Ambrose. Among those who paid tribute were Duran Duran, stating; “He was a very dear friend and a great artist. This is a tragic loss to the British music industry.”” (Source: Wikipedia)
R is for REO Speedwagon – I have been an REO fan for a long time. I saw them at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, NY back in March of 1981. It was an excellent concert and they played all of their greats from the You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish album (love the name of that album!)
Their song, Keep Pushin’ was my own personal anthem as I was finding my way in the world and was frequently blasting on my 1971 Monte Carlo’s 8-track!
Keep Pushin’ (1976; studio version)
Roll with the Changes – Live on the Midnight Special (not sure of the performance date)
Time for Me to Fly – MTV archive video from 1981 performance
Take It On the Run – 1982 performance:
Blazin’ Your Own Trail Again – I LOVE this song. REO had such a way of creating good feelings within and their lyrics spoke to hope and determination. This is one of those songs:
Ridin’ the Storm Out – of course they closed the show with this one! This is also from a 1981 performance, the same year I saw them. This show was in Denver, CO.
Back on the Road Again (from their Nine Lives album) – Bassist Bruce Hall taking lead vocals on this song. This performance is from the Hi Infidelity tour:
One Lonely Night – from their 1985 performance at the Montreux Pop Festival; © SSR, Polivideo, BBC Television 1985
R is for R.E.M. – R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. R.E.M. was pivotal in the creation and development of the alternative rock genre. AllMusic stated, “R.E.M. marked the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock.”
One of the first popular alternative rock bands, R.E.M. released its first single, “Radio Free Europe”, in 1981 on the independent record label (Hib-Tone). The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band’s first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single “The One I Love”. The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.
By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed by subsequent acts such as Nirvana and Pavement as a pioneer of the genre and released its two most commercially successful albums (Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), catapulting it to international fame.
I was impressed with R.E.M.’s commitment to giving voice to social and political issues, using their celebrity to serve to bring about positive change. “Throughout R.E.M.’s career, its members sought to highlight social and political issues. According to the Los Angeles Times, R.E.M. was considered to be one of the United States’ “most liberal and politically correct rock groups.” The band’s members were “on the same page” politically, sharing a liberal and progressive outlook. … R.E.M. helped raise funds for environmental, feminist and human rights causes, and were involved in campaigns to encourage voter registration. During the Green tour, Stipe took time during sets to inform the audience about a variety of pressing socio-political issues. Through the late 1980s and 1990s, the band (particularly Stipe) increasingly used its media coverage on national television to mention a variety of causes it felt were important. One example is when the band attended the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, during which Stipe wore a half-dozen white shirts emblazoned with slogans including “rainforest”, “love knows no colors”, and “handgun control now.” ” (Source: Wikipedia)
My favorite R.E.M. songs:
The One I Love –
Losing My Religion – a lyrics video:
It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine) –
Shiny Happy People –
Man on the Moon –
Everybody Hurts – a lyrics video:
Stand – (audio only):
R is for Rockwell – Kennedy William Gordy (born March 15, 1964), better known by his stage name Rockwell, is a pop artist who was signed to the Motown label.
Rockwell is the son of Motown founder and CEO Berry Gordy and Margaret Norton. His father named him Kennedy William Gordy after John F. Kennedy and William “Smokey” Robinson. To avoid the appearance of nepotism, he secured his record deal without his father’s knowledge. Motown actually came up with the name Rockwell and the young Gordy agreed to the change because he believed he “rocked well.”
In 1984, Rockwell released his biggest hit single, “Somebody’s Watching Me”, featuring childhood friend Michael Jackson on guest vocals (notably in the chorus lyrics), and Jermaine Jackson singing back-up. “Somebody’s Watching Me” became a Gold-certified million selling #2 smash hit in both the US and UK. Additionally, it held #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart for five weeks. Follow-up singles underperformed, however, with single “Obscene Phone Caller” being Rockwell’s only other Top 40 single. This follow-up single reached #35 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rockwell soon ended his musical career with Motown.
R is for Rush – Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in 1968. In a word, they are different! Rush is a band you either love or hate. I’m very lukewarm when it comes to their sound. I went to see them in concert and their lightshow and theatrics were incredible, but I always found their music and in particular the vocals hard on the ears. I can only describe the vocals as “screechy.”
Most folks will be familiar with their song Fly by Night, from the Fly By Night album, their second studio album released in 1975. It still gets a lot of radio airplay on classic rock stations. (Music video by Rush performing Fly By Night. (C) 1975 The Island Def Jam Music Group and Anthem Entertainment):
Rush’s musical style is incredibly diverse and quite fluid, with dramatic stylistic changes occurring frequently throughout the band’s career. “Since the release of the band’s self-titled debut album in March 1974, Rush has become known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy, history, and philosophy. Rush’s music style has changed over the years, from a blues-inspired hard rock beginning, later moving into progressive rock, and including a period with heavy use of synthesizers. Its musical style returned to a more guitar-oriented sound in 1989.” (Source: Wikipedia)
I saw them in May of 1978, post 2112 album, with the show focused primarily on their fifth studio album A Farewell to Kings.
Xanadu – (from A Farewell to Kings album):
Closer to the Heart – from the Rush Chronicles DVD; Music video by Rush performing Closer To The Heart. (C) 1977 The Island Def Jam Music Group and Anthem Entertainment:
R is for Ratt – An ultimate hair-band. I always dug the long hair (still do actually) but I’m not really a hard-rocker, or maybe I was once a long time ago, but this is one song that I just love! It’s the only Ratt song I like, but it’s a good one! It was their biggest hit ever and came out in 1984.
Round and Round – the official video, which I hope posts:
Here they are performing live in March of 1984:
R is for Rainbow – Every time I hear the name Rainbow, I think Ritchie Blackmore. I had always heard that he was a hard-ass to work with and was quick to fire band members. If you look at the member lineup on their Wikipedia page, you’ll see a lot of personnel changes! I heard about Blackmore because it was said that my cousin, who is also a serious musician, was somewhat like Blackmore in that he didn’t take any bullshit when it came to rehearsing. If you weren’t there for rehearsal, you were out of the band. Simple as that. Anyway, here’s the one song of Rainbow’s that I really like:
Since You’ve Been Gone
R is for Rod Stewart – Known for his signature raspy voice, the British singer/songwriter is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 100 million records. There is a lengthy Wikipedia page on Rod Stewart with a plethora of information. For the A-Z purposes, I’m just including some personal trivia that was also found on that page:
“In May 2000, Stewart was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, for which he underwent surgery in the same month. It had been previously reported he suffered from a benign vocal cord nodule. Besides being a major health scare, the resulting surgery also threatened his famous voice, and he had to re-learn how to sing. Since then he has been active in raising funds for The City of Hope Foundation charity to find cures for all forms of cancer, especially those affecting children.”
“An auto collector, Stewart owns one of the 400 Ferrari Enzos. In 1982, Stewart was car-jacked on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard, while he was parking his $50,000 Porsche. The car was subsequently recovered.”
“In July 2007, Stewart collected his CBE for “services to music” at Buckingham Palace, commenting; “It’s a marvelous occasion. We’re the only country in the world to honor the common man.” Stewart was estimated to have a fortune of £115 million [$172 million US] in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 20 wealthiest people in the British music industry.”
Check out the Wikipedia page because there is so much cool information, not only on his music career but on his personal interests in model railways and his love and involvement in football, which will explain why he often kicks out footballs into the audience during concerts. Now here’s a few of my favorite Rod Stewart songs:
Maggie May – from the BBC, an October 1971 performance:
The First Cut is the Deepest (1977 performance)
Hot Legs – Official Music Video
Do Ya Think I’m Sexy – “Music for UNICEF” 1979
Tonight’s the Night (from 1976)
R is for Robin Trower – Robin Trower is an English guitarist who achieved success with Procol Harum in the 60s and then went solo with his own band. I’ve always loved his Bridge of Sighs album. Was introduced to it by some guy that I went out with who was extraordinarily sexy in his long black coat! I don’t remember his name but I do remember the evening. 😉
Bridge of Sighs – a 1974 BBC television appearance in the UK
R is for Red Rider – a Canadian rock band popular in the 1980s. While the band achieved great success in Canada, the band never had a song in the Top 40 in the US, even though “Lunatic Fringe” became a hit on AOR [Album Oriented Rock] radio. (Source: Wikipedia)
Lunatic Fringe – official music video:
R is for Ringo Starr – the wildly famous drummer for the Beatles who saw success after the Beatles broke up. “When the Beatles formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. After achieving moderate success with that band in the UK and Hamburg, he quit the Hurricanes and joined the Beatles in August 1962. Starr played key roles in The Beatles’ films and appeared in numerous others. After the band’s break-up in 1970, he released several successful singles including the US number four hit “It Don’t Come Easy”, and number ones “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen”. In 1972, he released his most successful UK single, “Back Off Boogaloo”, which peaked at number two. He achieved commercial and critical success with his 1973 album Ringo, which was a top ten release in both the UK and the US. He has been featured in a number of documentaries and hosted television shows. He also narrated the first two seasons of the children’s television series Thomas & Friends and portrayed “Mr. Conductor” during the first season of the PBS children’s television series Shining Time Station. Since 1989, he has successfully toured with twelve variations of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.” (Source: Wikipedia)
These are my favorite Ringo Starr hits:
It Don’t Come Easy
Photograph – a video using photos of Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach
You’re Sixteen –
R is for the Romantics – is an American “power pop and new wave band” from Detroit, Michigan, formed in 1977. The band decided on the name “The Romantics” because they formed on Valentine’s Day. Aw, how sweet! They were popular in the early-mid 80s. They got their influences from 1950s rock ‘n roll and 1960s garage bands.
What I Like About You – Great harmonica in this song! Music video by The Romantics performing What I Like About You. (C) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT:
Talking in Your Sleep – LOVE this song! Music video by The Romantics performing Talking In Your Sleep. (C) 1983 Sony BMG Music Entertainment:
R is for Rick James – How about a little funk? Rick James hails from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. He had quite a notorious reputation. From Wikipedia: “Influenced by singers such as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, James started singing in doo-wop and R&B groups as a teenager in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. After entering the U.S. Navy to avoid getting drafted, he deserted to Toronto, where he formed the rock and R&B band The Mynah Birds. James’ tenure with the group was interrupted after he was discovered recording with the group in Motown in 1966. Surrendering to military authorities, he served a one-year prison term. Upon release, James moved to California to resume his duties with the Mynah Birds, although the group eventually split. James began a series of rock bands in California and worked with Motown under the assumed name “Ricky Matthews” as a songwriter.
In 1977, he signed with the Gordy Records imprint of Motown as a recording artist, releasing his debut, Come Get It!, in April 1978. The album sold over two million copies and launched his career into the mainstream as a funk and soul artist. His most popular album, 1981’s Street Songs, launched him into superstardom thanks to the hit singles, “Give It to Me Baby” and “Super Freak”, the latter song becoming his signature song for the rest of his life.
An addiction to crack hampered his career by the late 1980s. In the 1990s, his legal troubles, which included kidnapping and torturing two women while under the influence of crack, led him to serve a three-year sentence at California’s Folsom State Prison. James was released on parole in 1996 and resumed his musical career releasing the album, Urban Rapsody, in 1997. A mild stroke suffered during a concert in early 1998 interrupted his career for a brief time. James received new notoriety in 2004 when he appeared on an episode of the Chappelle’s Show in the Charlie Murphy “True Hollywood Stories” segment of the show, in which James’ past wild lifestyle was satirized. James died later that year from heart failure at the age of 56.”
I’ve always loved Superfreak so I’m including it here. I’m really not familiar with much else that he did, except Give It to Me Baby, but Superfreak is a great song! Here he is performing it on the Solid Gold TV show in 1981:
Give It to Me Baby –
R is for the Rolling Stones – I was fortunate enough to see the Rolling Stones back on September 27, 1981 at Buffalo’s Rich Stadium in Orchard Park. I actually wrote about my concert experience in last year’s A-Z Challenge (C is for Concerts) so you may have already read this. But for those who missed the story, here it is again:
A friend of mine posted this cartoon on his Facebook page a while back and it really resonated with me. I think it might very accurately foreshadow days to come.
This cartoon also took me down a long and winding road of memories. Memories of all of the concerts I attended back in the day. Some more hazy than others. Back in the day when Bad Company was headlining and Kansas was the opening band and my ticket to the show cost $6. All the way back to the days when I was so young that parents had to drop us kids off to see Peter Frampton and Rick Derringer. Back in the day when everyone was so generous with their weed and there was a constant flow of joints being passed down the rows. I told someone not long ago that I had seen Steppenwolf…and immediately thought, “Steppenwolf? Holy shit, I’m old!” Old enough that when I saw this superstar line-up of George Thorogood, Loverboy, Journey and the Rolling Stones together the ticket price was only $15!!
That was one crazy concert with a really cr-aazy crowd. It was held at Orchard Park’s Rich Stadium, former home of the Buffalo Bills. Orchard Park was never quite the same after that show. First of all, there were a zillion people standing in line and for some reason the stadium folks just would not open the gates. We stood out there forever. Everyone was starting to get antsy and irritated and we all stood around bitching until a few unruly and angry folks decided to bust through the fence. Well, you can imagine what happened next. First one panel of fence was down and a few people squeezed through. Then another panel started going down, and another, and another and suddenly it became a tsunami of people rushing and crawling over trampled fencing. But alas, we were in.
We found our seats and were excited as we settled in, waiting for the first band to come out. It started to rain. It wasn’t bad at first, just a little shower, but then the sky opened up and dumped buckets of cold rain upon us. People were covering up with tarps and whatever else we could find. But the show went on. It poured like a motherfucker the whole time, all through George Thorogood’s performance, all through Loverboy’s, through Journey’s. But what happened next was so mind-blowing …well, maybe moreso because we were all stoned… but even to this day I tingle when I think about it. It’s still pouring, pouring, pouring, I’m talkin’ practically torrential, when Mick Jagger runs out on stage and, I’m not kidding, this truly happened simultaneously, as soon as he reached the mike, the rain. just. stopped. The sun burst out and we were suddenly sitting under blue skies. And for a few moments, everyone stopped and the entire stadium took a collective breath of disbelief. What timing! It was crazy.
And one little factoid that I saw on the Music Channel is that in 1969 the Rolling Stones hired the Hell’s Angels as concert security for the price of $500 worth of beer! There’s a neat little slice of trivia for ya.
Anyway, I love the Rolling Stones. So many of their songs. I don’t know how many songs I’ll end up posting here but if you like the Stones, stick around: some good videos coming up!
Gimme Shelter (1969)- I really dig this video. GREAT compilation of what was happening at the time:
19th Nervous Breakdown – early performance (not sure of date or location)
Honky Tonk Woman – Live at Madison Square Garden, November 1969
Mother’s Little Helper – the song dealing with the darker side of Valium use among housewives. Recorded in 1965 and released in 1966.
Sympathy for the Devil – The recording of “Sympathy for the Devil” began at London’s Olympic Sound Studios on 4 June 1968 and continued into the next day. Personnel included on the recording include Nicky Hopkins on piano, Rocky Dijon on congas and Bill Wyman on maracas.
Time is On My Side – Leeds Live 1982 Official Video
Play with Fire –
As Tears Go By – Live performance 2008 (Shine a Light)
Get Off My Cloud – this is probably the first Stones song I remember hearing… This video is from the BBC Top of the Pops in 1965:
Under My Thumb – This is from an Austin performance at Zilker Park in 2006. I wasn’t there…but I could’ve been!
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – another one of my early favorites and another Texas performance, this one in 1972:
Midnight Rambler – Live at Madison Square Gardens 2003:
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Ain’t that the truth?! Live performance Glastonbury Festival 2013:
Brown Sugar – BBC’s Top of the Pops 1971:
Wild Horses – one of my all-time favorites and a great horses video:
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – from the Sticky Fingers album, 1971
Start Me Up – This was the theme for a 1989 Sales Conference when I worked at WCXR in Washington DC and all the stations in our group were flown to Los Angeles for a 3-day conference. The official promo video (below) for the Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Released in 1981, the song was a number one hit and the lead single from Tattoo You.
Angie – Live performance
It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll –
Tumbling Dice – The Rolling Stones performing “Tumbling Dice”, live at the Will Rogers Memorial Centre, Fort Worth, Texas, 18th July 1978:
Bitch – from the album Sticky Fingers:
Rock and a Hard Place – from the Steel Wheels album
Beast of Burden –
That was fun! Hope you enjoyed it. Who are your favorite R bands? Who did I forget?