Sunday, December 30, 2007

Insurance Is Available for your Record Collections

Insuring Your Valuable Collectibles

Collectibles Insurance Services Has You Covered

By Robert Benson

The collectibles markets are full of passionate people. These aren’t people who have ‘pack rat fever’ and save items just to have them, but people who decide to enter a specific collectibles market because it is a rewarding and fun experience for them. And it seems people will collect just about anything including: teddy bears, coins, stamps, advertising memorabilia, books, comic books, sports memorabilia, vinyl records.…..why the list seems endless. But they all have one thing in common, a passion for their hobby and their specific collectible.

But what if something unforeseen happens, a fire or some other catastrophe? A unique insurance agency called Collectibles Insurance Services; LLC is here to offer peace of mind and, most importantly, insurance for their collectibles.

I spoke with Dan Walker and Debbie Spilman of Collectibles Insurance Services, LLC, about collecting and why it is important to have insurance on your treasured collectibles.

“Some may think that they’re homeowners insurance policy covers their collectibles, but in most cases your homeowners policy is designed to cover personal property and is not nearly enough to protect your treasured collectibles,” said Dan. “They may limit the collection to a percentage of the total value of your home, limit the amount that they will pay for theft of valuable items like silver, crystal, guns, stamps and paper documents or be based on actual cash value rather than the collectible or replacement value.”

Collectibles Insurance Services ( differs from the average homeowners’ insurance policy, in that, insuring collectibles is all they do. The service can insure a collection of stamps, advertising memorabilia, sports cards, vinyl records, antique tools, vintage clothing, trains, toys, weapons (guns, knives swords), entertainment memorabilia and much more (see the website for a complete list and exclusions of what they insure).

“Normal homeowners policies don’t generally deal with collectibles, we write policies specifically for a person’s collectibles, whether it is a rare book collection, stamps, coins, sports cards, vinyl records and the many other collectibles that we deal with every day,” explained Dan.

Valuation of a collection is subjective and estimating what a certain collection is worth depends on many variables and researching different avenues.

“We strongly encourage prospects from overvaluing their collections. We cannot insure ‘emotional worth’, but can insure a varying array of collectibles. We ask that people have a paper trail, save receipts for what they may have paid for items; documentation is very helpful, take video of the collection or pictures. Validation is an important element. Don’t over insure and if necessary get a second opinion,” detailed Debbie.

How does one go about ascertaining the value of a collection or their collectibles?

“Price guides are great, but they are just one of the tools used when trying to gauge a value of a collection,” explained Dan. “Replacement value would be what a knowledgeable buyer would pay a knowledgeable seller for the items, it is an agreed upon price between two knowledgeable individuals in a sales transaction. You must price your collectibles realistically for insurance purposes.”

“The valuation process could also be aided by a professional appraisal (although that is not always necessary), professional consensus, price guide values, what the collectibles may be selling for on the market at the specific time, our own resources and expertise and because no two collections are the same, all these factors are available in helping people determine what the value is. We also have a number of resources on file and references listed on the website including valuation aides, inventory aides and dealers to help people along so they can put a figure on the collections worth in which to write a policy,” said Dan.

What kind of resources that are used in the valuation process depends on the items in the collection, as Debbie explains:

“We provide reference to many entities in the process including obtaining information from the, American Stamp Dealers Association, Price Miner, Antique Trader,, (for comic book collections),, Goldmine publications, Military Trader, and a number of other resources, depending on the genre of the collectible.”

I inquired about insurance when you are moving the items, from whether down the street or across the country; doesn’t the moving company provide insurance for that?

“Submitting a claim to them is much more difficult to do, as the moving companies would require much more documentation to validate a claim if there were breakage or something else were to happen,” explained Debbie. “Again, validating just how much the collectibles are worth is a key element in settling a claim.”

A myth with regard to collectibles insurance is that every item in the collection must be itemized and professionally appraised.

“No appraisals are necessary. You estimate the value of your collection and determine the amount of insurance, we need a ballpark figure,” detailed Dan. “Although an inventory is not always required at the time of application to purchase insurance, Collectibles Insurance Services strongly recommends its customers maintain an inventory to streamline, provide proof, and expedite claims in the event of a loss.”

Another myth regarding insuring collectibles is that the cost would be more than people could reasonably afford.

“A collectibles policy is typically less costly than scheduling items on your homeowners insurance,” said Dan. “The price of insurance should not deter a person from insuring their collections, the items are priceless to the hobbyist or collector and you will find our rates are not overbearing and are cost-efficient. We cover everything from autographs to Zippos or something in between. And Collectibles Insurance Services’ carriers are A rated and above.”

It is reassuring to know that purchasing insurance for your collection is not as difficult as one might think it to be. The process is not such a daunting task as it seems and it is also reassuring to know that there are professionals specifically trained in this field and a company that specializes in just this type of insurance.

Copyright 2007 Robert Benson No reprints allowed

Friday, December 28, 2007

Picture Discs

I love to explore the Internet and find fascinating and informative websites to share. I want to share a site that I hope you will find interesting, about picture discs called

Not only does it show fantastic images of specific picture discs by famous rock and roll bands, but also has some history and a discography as well. Stop by soon, you will love what you see!

This Day In Music- December 28

Happy birthday to Alex Chilton of the Box Tops ("The Letter") who turns 57.

The late Dorsey Burnette ("Tall Oak Tree") was born in 1932.

The late Roebuck "Pops" Staples of the Staple Singers ("Respect Yourself") was born in 1915.

"Temptations Day" was declared in Detroit, 1969

Keith Moon of the Who emcees a Sha-Na-Na concert at Carnegie Hall in New York, in 1971.

In 2003, The Who's Pete Townshend tells a London newspaper he contemplated suicide after police arrested him for accessing a kiddie porn Web site. Charges were later dropped.

Also in 2003, in an interview with 60 Minutes, Michael Jackson denies allegations of child abuse, saying, ""Before I would hurt a child, I would slit my wrists." He also claims he was roughed up by the Santa Barbara police after he turned himself in to face charges earlier this month.

In 1983, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys drowns after diving into the ocean at Marina Del Rey in California.

In 1968, Led Zeppelin play their first ever gig in Canada at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum supporting Vanilla Fudge and the MC5.

1946, Johnny's younger brother Edgar Winter is born in Beaumont, Texas. His group went to No. 1 in 1973 with "Frankenstein."

In 1959, Frankie Avalon's second chart topper, "Why" becomes Billboard's last number one song of the fifties.

1974- Although Cher had earlier turned the song down, "Angie Baby" becomes a number one hit in the US for Helen Reddy. Cher had also rejected "The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia,” which Vicki Lawrence took to the top in April, 1973.

2004 A North Carolina man named Wade Jones sold three tablespoons of water taken from a cup used by Elvis Presley during a 1977 concert for $455.

In 2005, the body of Barry Cowsill, bass guitarist for The Cowsills, was recovered on from the Chartres Street Wharf, New Orleans. He was killed on or about September 1st from injuries believed to be caused by Hurricane Katrina. He was 51.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Musical Renaissance

Every now and then I find some very interesting and compelling opinions and stories about vinyl records. I want to thank Joesph M. Jamison for allowing me to reprint this splendid article from the web site

A Musical Renaissance

By Joseph M. Jamison

Do The Evolution

There are two things I know: diamonds are forever and music is timeless.

Since man began walking upright, music has been a mainstay of life. Whether it was a stick being banged on a rock with precise repetition or Neanderthals grunting together in perfect harmony, there has always been music. Kurt Vonnegut said that the only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.

The problem was, in earlier times, the only way to hear your favorite artist was to attend a live performance. These performances, of course, were reserved for the wealthy and most fortunate.

A technological revolution came in 1877, when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. Unfortunately for audiophiles, the light bulb in Edison's brain was conjuring up other ideas; while the phonograph allowed users to record and playback sound, the full potential of music was never tapped. It wasn’t until 1888, when Emile Berliner invented the gramophone and used discs to record sound. The modern recording process was born.

Since the days of the gramophone record, the list of audio formats is, in a word, lengthy. Some formats revolutionized the consumer market, some were used for production only, and some were just tossed aside. First to evolve was the 78-rpm record, followed by the LP and 45-rpm record. The 4-track and 8-track cassettes never had a chance and cassette tapes (elcasets) came and went. Compact discs changed the market when they were introduced in the early 1980’s, making every other media format obsolete. Experts predict, however, that the compact disc will soon be an afterthought with the surge of digital downloads.

Spin The Black Circle

Even though CD sales have been plummeting and digital downloading is on the rise, music purists and collectors alike still buy vinyl records. In fact, the numbers indicate that vinyl is making a comeback. They’re big, clunky, and difficult to store, but people love them, myself included. We have our reasons:

1. Quintessential - Vinyl records are the original format in which music was produced. There is a certain romanticism to listening to a vinyl record that other formats just can’t provide.

2. Conceptual - Artists often would have different themes for each side, which just can’t be done with a CD.

3. Distinctive - The sound quality is different. I didn’t say better, I said different. The grooves in the record produce a sound that has yet to be matched by any other format. The frequency is lower, and the cracks, hisses, and pops are just, well, awesome. Listen to the Cold War Kids' Robbers and Cowards in both vinyl and CD. It’s an excellent example of why the vinyl record is perfect for rock music.

4. Artistic - The packaging is bigger, allowing for much broader canvas for album artwork.

5. Accessible - The production of USB turntables allows users to transfer audio from vinyl records to a computer and turn them into mp3s. Part of the reason for the rise of cassette tapes and compact discs was the portability of them, allowing users to take them anywhere. With the USB turntable, transferring that unique vinyl record sound into your pocket is now feasible.

6. Sleek - No more crap. Compact discs allowed artists to cram as much music as possible into one disc, and sometimes led to songs that were just album fillers. On an LP, however, you can only have 45 minutes of audio. It better be good. Ben Harper’s Lifeline was recorded specifically with the vinyl record in mind. The result is 40 minutes and 54 seconds worth of acoustic soul genius.

I Am Mine

I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t buy compact discs or download mp3s. I prefer vinyl and if the album I want isn’t available, I’ll go for the compact disc. I like the portability, availability, and practicality of mp3s, but only download when it's necessary. If there is a song I like by an artist that I am not a huge fan of, I’ll download it. If I want to check out an artist, I may burn a compact disc of a friend or file share. However, there have been countless times when I burned an album, listened to it, then went and bought it.

I don’t listen to music just to listen to music. I listen to music to hear music, and the mp3 has made listening to music all too casual. There’s just nothing tangible to an mp3, nothing that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Don’t get me wrong, mp3s are valuable and have their place in the music world, but I hope that they don’t go to the forefront. In my perfect world, everyone would own a USB turntable, compact discs would cease to exist, and record labels would only produce vinyl. Music lovers would go to their favorite record store for albums, transfer their vinyl to a computer for accessibility, and everyone would feel fuzzy and warm inside. Especially me.

This Day In Music History-December 26

“Let It Bleed” by the Rolling Stones entered the charts in 1969.

“John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band,” Lennon’s debut album as a solo artist, enters the album charts in 1970. This stark, confessional recording is regarded by many as his greatest achievement.

Duke Fakir of the Four Tops sturns 72.

Curtis Mayfield ("Superfly") died from complications of diabetes in 1999.

Led Zeppelin arrives for their first U.S. tour in 1968. They opened for Vanilla Fudge.

In 1963, Capitol Records releases the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in the U.S. The song went to #1 in five weeks.

Lars Ulrich (from Metallica) was born in 1963.

On this day in 1964, the song "I Feel Fine" by the Beatles topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

Today the song "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison topped the charts in 1970 and stayed there for 4 weeks. Five years later, a New York state judge would find Harrison guilty of copyright infringement for plagiarizing the Chiffon's 1963 hit, "He's So Fine".

In 2005, Vietnamese police drop child rape charges against Gary Glitter after the disgraced glam rock star pays the families of his accusers $2000. The police said they were unable to gather enough evidence.

In 1976, Blues guitarist Freddie King dies in Dallas. He was 42.

The Beatles alienate a large portion of their fan base in 1967 with the premiere of their psychedelic movie Magical Mystery Tour on British TV. Paul McCartney remembered, "Everybody was looking for a plot, but it purposely wasn't there." The Queen remarked, "The Beatles are turning awfully funny, aren't they?"

On this day in 1964, the # 1 single was the Beatles’ song "I Feel Fine." At #4 is the Beatles' "She's a Woman." The band have had a staggering 30 chart hits this year.

In 1957, Elvis Presley donates thousands of teddy bears to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

AC/DC’s album “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)” is #1 in the U.S. in 1981.

White Zombie guitarist Jay Noel Yuenger (also known simply as "J.") was born in Chicago in 1967.

In 1964, after a year of being criticized for their long hair, the Rolling Stones take out an ad in the New Musical Express wishing “starving hairdressers and their families a Happy Christmas."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Best Album Covers 2007

Why Album Cover Art Matters

This Day In Music History- December 24

A Carnegie Hall concert in 1955 featuring the Weavers, was seen as the beginning of the folk revival.

In 1969, The Buddy Holly Story, a best-of album that has been in print since 1959, is certified gold (500,000 copies sold).

"How Deep Is Your Love," the Bee Gees' first single from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, hits #1 for the first of three weeks in 1977. Remaining in the Top Ten for 17 consecutive weeks, it sets a 'Billboard' chart record for longevity.

In 1988, Poison hits #1 with "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

In 1989, MTV presents highlights from the "Moscow Music Peace Festival," the first-ever worldwide rock ‘n' roll jam to take place in Lenin Stadium in Moscow.

Zeke Carey of the Flamingos passed away in 1999.

Nick Massi, bass singer with the Four Seasons ("Big Girls Don't Cry") died in 2000.

The late Lee Dorsey ("Working In The Coal Mine") was born in 1924.

In 1972, Miami police cut the power to a noisy Manfred Mann concert, causing a two-hour riot.

Graying rock legend Iggy Pop was fined by the Swiss city of Lucerne for performing his music too loud at the Blue Balls festival in July. Pop and The Stooges were clocked at 102.5 decibels (2005)

In 1974, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell get into the Christmas spirit by going around Los Angeles singing carols.

In 1973, Doobie Brothers guitarist Tom Johnson was arrested in Visalia, Calif., for marijuana possession.

On this date in 1970, Rolling Stone Magazine ran the first part of an off-the-cuff interview with John Lennon by Jann Wenner. Among Lennon's pearls is this summary of the Beatles reaction to Yoko Ono: "You sit through 60 sessions with the most big-headed uptight people on earth and see what it’s f*ckin' like, and be insulted just because you love someone... I'll never forgive them……..I don't forgive 'em for that."

In 1968, rock legends Led Zeppelin leave Britain to start their first American tour. Robert Plant remembered, "It was Christmas, and Christmas away from home for the English is the end of the world."

In 1963, The Beatles kick off their first series of London Christmas concerts at the Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park. Also appearing on the bill are Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, Tommy Quickly, Cilla Black, the Fourmost, and the Barron Knights with the Duke D'Mond. After the show, manager Brian Epstein flies the bill up to Liverpool so they can spend Christmas with their loved ones.

The Beatles begin a second annual series of Christmas concerts at London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1964. Support comes from the Yardbirds, Freddie and the Dreamers, Jimmy Saville, Elkie Brooks, Mike Haslam, and the Mike Cotton Sound.

In 1961, the #1 American single is "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," by the Tokens. The South African folk song is also the first African song to reach the top spot.

In 1960, The Philadelphia Orphan's Court tells hit-maker Chubby Checker that his allowance will be raised from $150 to $200. Checker, only 19, is still a ward of the court, despite having a huge hit with "The Twist."

"Bad to the Bone" bluesman George Thorogood was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1950.

Happy Birthday to Jan Akkerman, guitarist with Dutch rockers Focus, who was born in Amsterdam in 1946.

Lemmy, the leader of Motorhead and a bassist with Hawkwind, was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England as Ian Willis in 1945.

Lee Dorsey, who brought the New Orleans R&B sound to the charts in 1961 with "Ya Ya," was born in 1924.

Dave Bartholomew, who produced and co-wrote Fats Domino's "Ain't It a Shame" and "Blue Monday," was born in Edgard, La in 1920. He was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with other New Orleans rockers.

In 1955, The Lennon Sisters debuted as featured vocalists on "The Lawrence Welk Show" on ABC-TV.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

This Day In Music History- December 23

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Foxy Lady" was released in 1967.

In 1969, Elton John and Bernie Taupin began writing songs together.

In 1972, John Lennon's film "Imagine" premiered on national TV.

Cat Stevens converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusef Islam in 1977.
Rod Stewart released the dreadful “Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" in 1978.

James Brown sued the producers of the movie "The Commitments" in 1991. Brown claimed that one of the characters too closely resembled him. He lost the case.

The late "Little" Esther Phillips was born in 1935.

In 1959, Chuck Berry was arrested for transporting a minor across a state line for an immoral purpose (he was eventually sentenced to five years in prison).

In 1964, singer/songwriter Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys suffers a nervous breakdown on an airline flight from Los Angeles to Houston.

Tony Bennett is released from a Washington, DC hospital in 1996, after an emergency hernia operation (he was stricken while preparing to perform at the White House).

Simon & Garfunkel donate a million dollars to the Children's Health Fund in 2003, a fund that was started by Paul six years earlier.

In 1973, Jim Croce receives a posthumous #1 record with "Time In A Bottle."

Jeremy Clyde of Chad & Jeremy appears on CBS-TV's "My Three Sons,” in 1967.

Foxy Brown is handcuffed in court after sticking her tongue out at the judge. The rapper was finalizing a plea deal in a 2004 assault incident.

In 2004, R&B singer Mario tops the American singles chart with "Let Me Love You," knocking Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" to #2.

In 2003, Ozzy Osbourne was removed from intensive care and transferred to a private clinic so that he can recuperate from injuries that he sustained after crashing an ATV on his English estate.

Chick-rocker Pink signs on as a spokesperson for Pepsi in 2003. She says she will appear in a series of TV advertisements in the New Year.

In 1999, police arrested a stalker at George Harrison's Hawaiian home. The unemployed Christin Keleher appeared to be living the high-life in the empty mansion, using the phone, washing machine and ordering pizza.

Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel dies at age 42 in 1992.

In 1974, George Harrison released one of his rare Christmas records, "Ding Dong, Ding Dong."

1967 saw the UFO Club open in London's Tottenham Court Road. With Pink Floyd as the club's house band, the venue becomes a hive of psychedelic activity.

In 1966, the BBC airs the last edition of “Ready Steady Go!” The show had brought audiences such acts as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The Who performed on the final episode.

The Beach Boys make their first appearance on Shindig in 1964. The group performs "Little Saint Nick," "Dance, Dance, Dance," "Johnny B. Goode," and "Monster Mash."

Iron Maiden guitarist Dave Murray was born in 1955.

Birthday wishes to Johnny Contardo, drummer with Sha Na Na, who was born in Boston in 1951.

In 1949, Mott the Hoople guitarist Ariel Bender was born.

Also celebrating a birthday is Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor who was born in Worcester, England in 1949.

Iron Butterfly drummer Ron Bushy was born in Washington, D.C. in 1945.

Happy birthday to songwriter Tim Hardin, who was born in Eugene, Ore in 1941. The eclectic songwriter penned “Reason to Believe" and "If I Were a Carpenter."

Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen was born in Washington, D.C. in 1940.
Also born in 1940 was soul-singer Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites.

Birthday wishes to Jazz trumpeter, icon and junkie Chet Baker, who was born in Yale, Oklahoma in 1929.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Album Cover Art

I saw this on YouTube and had to share it!

Album Cover Wars

Beatles Album Cover Art and Beatles' Pics


Origin Liverpool, England
Rock/Pop - Years active 1960--1970
Parlophone, Capitol, Apple, Vee-Jay, Polydor, Swan, Tollie
Related to Tony Sheridan, The Quarrymen, The Plastic Ono Band, The Dirty Mac, Wings, Traveling Wilburys, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Ringo Starr All-Starr Band, Billy Preston

Members - Ever to Date

John Lennon
Paul McCartney
George Harrison
Ringo Starr

Former members

Stuart Sutcliffe
Pete Best

The Fifth Beatle

Billy Preston

The Beatles were an English rock band from Liverpool whose members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music.

The Beatles are the best-selling musical act of all time in the US, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which certified them as the highest selling band of all time based on American sales of singles and albums. In the UK, the Beatles released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EPs that reached #1. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries: their record company, EMI, estimated that by 1985 they had sold over one billion discs and tapes worldwide. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked The Beatles #1 on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to that same magazine, their innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960's and 60's music, and their influence on pop culture can still be felt today. Many up and coming music stars site the Beatles and their music as one of the many influences in their life.

This Day In Music History- December 22

Twin Bee Gees Robin and the late Maurice Gibb were born in 1949.

Happy birthday to Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, who turns 61.

Ike & Tina Turner are robbed of $86,000 in concert receipts in 1975.

The stage version of Harry Nilsson's "The Point" opens in London in 1978, with Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees in the cast.

In 1968 Eric Burdon left the Animals.

Isaac Hayes filed for bankruptcy in 1976.

Kenney Jones, of Faces, becomes the drummer for the Who in 1978.
He replaced Keith Moon who had died a couple of months earlier.

In 1981, a rock 'n' roll auction in London brought in $2,000 for a letter of introduction from Buddy Holly to Decca Records. John and Cynthia Lennon’s marriage certificate was sold for $850 and an autographed program from the world premiere of the Beatles film "Help!" brought in $2,100. Not all of the items up for bid did as well however. A jacket once worn by Tom Jones only brought in $12.

In 1991, Gregg Allman made his acting debut as a drug kingpin in the movie "Rush."

In 1956, Billboard Magazine reports that Elvis Presley had the most charting records this year with seventeen. Pat Boone was next with five, followed by Fats Domino, Little Richard and The Platters with three each.

After just two weeks on the Pop chart in 1958, "The Chipmunk Song" was the #1 song in the US. Their creator, David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian), named the Chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore, after executives at Liberty Records.

The Tornadoes became the first British group to have a #1 record in the US when they hit the top spot this week in 1962 with their instrumental, "Telstar.” The song was named after the world's first communication satellite launched by the US earlier in the year and preceded the Beatles' chart debut by 13 months.

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono meet for one hour with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa. Earlier in the day, they saw the Minister of Health, John Munro and discussed drug abuse.

In 1979, former studio musician Rupert Holmes had the last number one record of the seventies with "Escape" (The Pina Colada Song). The tune stayed at the top for two weeks.

Michael Jackson issues his first public denial regarding allegations of child sexual abuse in 1993, saying "I ask all of you to wait to hear the truth before you label or condemn me. Don't treat me like a criminal, because I'm innocent."

In 1988, MTV Europe announces Greece will be the 12th European country to make MTV available 24 hours a day.

Today the song "Like a Virgin" by Madonna, topped the charts and stayed there for 6 weeks in 1984.

In 2003, the White Stripes' Jack White is charged with assault after an alleged brawl with the Von Bondies' leader Jason tollsteimer.

At the Stockholm Opera House in 1993, ABBA's Frida Lyngstad sings a cappella version of "Dancing Queen" for the Queen of Sweden on her 50th birthday.

Bob Dylan drops in on Frank Zappa in 1982 and plays him a dozen songs and asks the freak to produce his next album.

In 1979, Paul McCartney holds the first of three concerts for Kampuchea at London's Hammersmith Odeon to benefit relief efforts in the war-torn country. Besides the Walrus, the Clash, Elvis Costello, the Who and Rockpile appear on the bill.

Stephen Stills loses a paternity suit in 1973, brought against him by Harriet B. Tunis. Stills' defense team had tried to discredit Tunis' case by asking the jury, "How can you believe a witness who works in the record business?"

Led Zeppelin performed at London's Alexandra Palace in 1972. The Melody Maker describes the Zep as "about as perfect a band as you could hope to hear."

In 1971, after Yoko Ono tries to take her daughter from father Tony Cox, a court awards custody of the child Kyoko to him. Ono is allowed to visit Kyoko, but only if she posts a $20,000 bond as a guarantee that she won't kidnap the child.

Barry Jenkins, drummer with the Animals, is born in Leicester, England in 1944.

Guitarist Alvin Robinson, best known for his work on several Dr. John '70s albums, is born in New Orleans in 1937.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Alex Steinweiss- Creator of Album Cover Art

At age 23, the “Godfather” of album cover art, Alex Steinweiss accepted a job to design promotional materials for Columbia Records. What would happen next would revolutionize the music industry, specifically vinyl records, when he invented the illustrated album cover. A rather obvious, but brilliant, idea was to create a titillating graphic package that would, not only protect the record, but advertise the artist and the music contained therein (prior to this, records were sold in plain, undecorated wrappers).

“Records used to be relegated to the back of the stores that sold refrigerators and stoves. You’d go to the counter and ask for the title you wanted,” recalled Steinweiss. “I needed to shake up the industry, we had to do something like European poster art to draw the attention of the buyer.”

And “shake up the industry” is just what Steinweiss did. Starting in 1939 with his first covers, for a collection of Rodgers & Hart’s Musical Hits, Columbia executives saw the sales of the illustrated albums skyrocket, including one by more than eight hundred percent. Soon after that 78 rpm albums were adorned with decorated covers and displayed in store windows.

A new medium was born, album cover art became the norm and attracted established artists and inspired many new artists to enter the arena. It allowed the record company and the artist to promote a visual image and identity with the music.

So who was Alex Steinweiss? Let’s explore his life in detail. Steinweiss grew up in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach area and he attended the Abraham Lincoln High School from 1930-1934 and that is where he started his graphic designing career. In a program taught by Leon Friend, Steinweiss and his classmates were known as the “Art Squad,” designing school publications, posters and signs. When he was seventeen, Steinweiss’ work was showcased in PM Magazine. He received a scholarship to Parsons School of Art and graduated in 1937. His first job was as an assistant to Joseph Binder, a position that lasted almost three years, before receiving a call about a new position at the newly formed Columbia Records. He designed all the covers for Columbia between 1939 and 1945, a period in which he developed and honed the graphic art of album cover design. In the period between 1945 to roughly 1950, he still did cover design for Columbia, but he was not the sole designer. He also began “freelancing” and began designing covers for other record companies.

As a freelance designer with such record labels as RCA, Decca, London and Everest, Steinweiss was considered peerless. Using his own unique format of blending eye-catching illustrations, vivid color schemes and playful typography, Steinweiss created album covers for such musical greats as Louis Armstrong, Bela Bartok, Count Basie, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Kate Smith and many others.

His album covers are considered iconic and he designed them as miniature posters with a distinct personality for each cover. His signature font, the “Steinweiss Scrawl,” first appeared around 1947 and his style and album cover design is synomonous with the Golden Age of Jazz, Classical and Popular music that was dominated by RCA, Columbia, Decca, Victor and London record labels.

In the 1950’s, Steinweiss added photography to his album cover design palette. His use of strange, garnish colors, inventive lighting techniques and numerous visual puns and reference points only added to his unique style of cover design and has made him an icon in the music industry. By his own admission, Steinweiss claims to have designed more that 2,500 album covers.

His later work, from 1960 through around 1973, was working with the Decca and London record labels. It was during this period that he developed die-cut designs and collage. He retired to Sarasota, Florida around 1974 and remains semi-active, having designed at least one book cover and several CD covers as well as having designed liquor bottles, posters, pamphlets and titles for TV shows.

All of us owe a hearty thank you to Alex Steinweiss and his contributions to album cover art and music. Can you imagine no art work accompanying a vinyl record? I can’t, and it is a great thing that Alex Steinweiss couldn’t either.

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called
"The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting."
Contact Robert at

This Day In Music History

The late Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys was born in 1946.

Ray Hildebrand of Paul & Paula ("Hey Paula") turns 67.

Carla Thomas ("Gee Whiz") is 65.

Barry Gordon ("Nuttin' For Christmas") is 59.

Crosby, Stills & Nash are formed in 1968.

In 1994, Beach Boy Mike Love settles a dispute with Brian Wilson over authorship of 35 of the group's tunes (out-of-court settlement- receiving $5 million).

Elvis Presley is inducted into the Los Angeles Indian Tribal Council on the day his "Flaming Star" movie opens in 1960.

Janis Joplin’s first solo concert was in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968.

David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash guests on ABC-TV's "Roseanne" in 1992.

In 1984, Prince hits #1 with "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" and #2 with "Purple Rain.”

Elton John establishes the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, aimed at AIDS prevention education and direct care services.

Elton John and David Furnish exchange vows and diamond wedding bands in 2005, during a civil ceremony (now legal in the United Kingdom).

In 1974, the song "Cat's in the Cradle," by Harry Chapin, topped the charts and stayed there for a week.

"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie, topped the charts and stayed there for 4 weeks in 1985.

Shaquille O'Neal's "I Know I Got Skillz" single was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1993.

Just in time for Christmas of 1967, the Rolling Stones release the stoned-out “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” The album is recorded while Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones endure their drug arrests and trials.

In 1970, Elvis Presley drops in on President Richard Nixon at the White House with no invitation and no prior warning. Elvis is convinced drugs are ruining America’s youth and he offers his to help deal with the problem. The White House staff allows Elvis to see the President. All that really comes from the meeting is a picture of a very stoned Elvis shaking hands with a very uncomfortable Nixon.

“An Anthology,” a collection of late guitarist Duane Allman’s work, is certified gold in 1972.

To help promote Aerosmith’s “Love In An Elevator,” a couple gets married in an actual elevator at the Scope Arena in Norfolk (VA) during the group’s show in 1989.

In 1966, The Beach Boys receive three gold-record citations for the single "Good Vibrations" and the albums "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Shut Down, Vol. 2".

In 1969, Diana Ross and the Supremes make their final television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing "Someday We'll Be Together", which would be the last of their 12 number one singles.

One of Rock and Roll's strangest oddities happened on this date in 1969, when "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye hit number one on the Cash Box music chart. The same song was also a number one hit for Gladys Knight and The Pips exactly one year earlier. The tune would also turn up on the chart by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1976.

Martha Reeves and The Vandellas play their last show together at Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan in 1972.

In 1979, The Eagles, Chicago and Linda Ronstadt perform at a benefit show for the presidential campaign for California governor Jerry Brown, who also happens to be Ronstadt's boyfriend.

On this date in 1985, Bruce Springsteen's album, "Born in the USA" passed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to become the second longest-lasting LP on the Billboard Top 10. It stayed there for 79 weeks. Only "The Sound of Music" with Julie Andrews lasted longer at 109 weeks.

The Beatles' "Love" was #1 on the European Top 100 Albums chart in 2006.

In 2006, Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, performed on stage before a live US audience for the first time in nearly thirty years. Mixing new songs with such old hits as "Oh Very Young" and "Peace Train", he sang with a gentle voice that had changed little from his heyday in the 1970s.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Roger Dean- Album Cover Artist and Designer

Ever since Alex Steinweiss designed album covers for Columbia Records in the 1940’s, many famous artists and designers have also designed iconic and stylish album cover art. From famed cartoonist Robert Crumb, who designed Janis Joplin’s “Cheap Thrills album cover to Andy Warhol’s contribution to the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” LP, many famous artists have put their talents to work and put an image to the music created by rock and roll bands and artists.

One such artist, Roger Dean, is world-famous for his legendary album cover designs and concepts. He is best known for his partnership with the progressive rock band Yes and his album covers are peerless.

Dean was born in Ashford, Kent, England in 1944 and spent much of his childhood moving around the world (he has lived in Cyprus, Greece and Hong Kong) with his British army father. The family returned to England in 1957 where Dean enrolled in the Canterbury School of Art and earned a National Diploma of Design. In 1968, he graduated from the Royal College of Art. Dean preferred to distinguish between design and the reworking of an existing model or design or inventing and the making of something new, a concept that would help him later on with his work.

In fact, one of his inventions was the “sea urchin chair,” a foam chair which, though appearing to be spherical, would conform to the person sitting in it; who could obtain a seated position of varying angles. The uniquely designed chair was featured in the film “A Clockwork Orange” and Dean was commissioned to design a “landscape” of similar seating for Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.

It was around this time that Dean would embark on the now famous art design work that he is best known for, designing and painting unique album covers for various rock bands. His first album cover was for a band called “Gun.” In 1971, Dean designed the cover for the first Osibisa LP (an African/Caribbean band) and this cover attracted a lot of attention and interest in his work. In fact, later that year, Dean formed the partnership that he is most recognized for, the album cover art for the band Yes (and along with his brother Martyn, designed the stage set for the band as well).

As Yes guitarist Steve Howe explains, “There is a pretty tight bond between our sound and Roger’s art.” Dean’s art is characterized by dreamy, space-like landscapes, floating islands and fantasy habitats. He primarily works with watercolors, but many of his paintings make brilliant use of other artistic media such as gouache, ink, enamel, crayon and collage. Dean is also a highly respected calligrapher, designing logos and titles to compliment his paintings.

Besides his impeccable and incomparable album covers for Yes, he has also designed album covers for the rock bands, Uriah Heep, Asia, Atomic Rooster and Budgie and artists Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman.

In 1985, Dean landed a gig with Psygnosis and he has designed the artwork for several videos games, including Tetris Worlds and the redesign of the Tetris logo. In recent years, he has focused on his architectural ideas and designs. As an architectural designer, he has designed homes and sustaining villages and even designed all the aspects of his own home, from the construction techniques that were implemented to his own emotional comfort and security. The design is based on his “Home For Life” concept, that a house should be artistically appeasing, irenic and environmentally kind; yet cheap and quick to construct.

Rest assured that whatever project Roger Dean may be working on, it will always be innovative, inspiring, and incomparable and tackled with an obvious zest. His stylish, conceptual album cover art will live in infamy for years to come as he continues to influence new artists to this day.

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called
"The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting."
Contact Robert at

This Day In Music History-December 20

Elvis Presley receives his draft notice, but applies for and gets a 60-day deferment in 1957.

Joe Walsh joins the Eagles in 1975.

In 2006, nearly forty years after it was recorded, Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher is awarded 40% of the songwriting credit for "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" by a London court.

The Osmond Brothers make their first appearance on the "Andy Williams Show" on NBC-TV in 1962 (minus Donny, who was only five years old).

In 1965, Wilson Pickett records "634-5789,"with Booker T.'s MG's with Isaac Hayes filling in for Booker on piano.

In 2004, Chicago bluesman Son Seals (singer-guitarist that played with Albert King and Earl Hooker), dies at age 62 from diabetes complications.

Founding 10,000 Maniacs guitarist Robert Buck dies in 2000 from complications resulting from liver failure. He had continued to perform with the group even after Natalie Merchant's departure in 1993. Buck was 42.

In 1999, Country legend Hank Snow, who recorded "I'm Movin' On" and was Elvis Presley's manager for a brief period, dies in Nashville aged 85.

In 1973, Bobby Darin (who topped the charts for nine weeks in 1959 with "Mack the Knife”) dies while undergoing seven hours of open-heart surgery. He was 37.

Singer Ian Anderson forms Jethro Tull with his former John Evans Blues Band mate, bassist Glenn Cornick, in Blackpool, England in 1967. The band’s name comes from an 18th century farming tool inventor. John Evans later joins the group as a keyboardist.

The Hollies release their hit single "He Ain't Heavy (He's My Brother)" in 1967.

In 1966, the Beatles record vocal harmonies and bells for use on "When I'm Sixty-Four."

Birthday wishes to classy soul diva Anita Baker, who was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1957.

Folksinger Billy Bragg was born in Barking, England in 1957.

The Easybeats' vocalist Steven Wright was born in Leeds, England in 1948. His group's biggest hit was "Friday on My Mind."

KISS drummer Peter Criss celebrates a birthday. Criss was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1947.

Blood Sweat & Tears drummer Bobby Colomby was born in New York in 1944.

Amos Milburn hits #1 on the R&B chart in 1948 with the song "Chicken Shack Boogie."

Peter Paul & Mary hit #1 in 1968 with "Leaving On A Jet Plane," a song that was written by John Denver.

In 1986, the song "Walk Like an Egyptian," by the Bangles, topped the charts and stayed there for 4 weeks.

Capitol Records releases “Meet The Beatles” in the U.S. in 1963. Beatlemania officially gets underway in the states.

In 1965, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks make their first appearance on “Shindig.”

Marietta GA native, Black Crowes’ front man, Chris Robinson, was born in 1966.

In 1968, Bob Dylan and The Band join several folkies in a concert commemorating the legendary Woody Guthrie. It’s Bob Dylan’s first public appearance since his motorcycle accident two years earlier.

The Rolling Stones "Let It Bleed" knocks The Beatles "Abbey Road" from the top of the U.K. album chart in 1969.

In 1982, rocker turned TV star Ozzy Osbourne is hospitalized and treated for rabies after biting the head off a bat during a concert.

In Belfast, U2 perform “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” live for the first time in 1982.

The Beatles and the Beach Boys are inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

On The Tonight Show (NBC) in 1994, Melissa Etheridge sings John Lennon’s "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)."

In 2004, Doug Robb’s battle with pneumonia causes Hoobastank to cancel their remaining December concerts. Hospitalized the previous weekend, the singer is ordered to remain in bed for a week.

In 2006, Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton says he's cancer free after undergoing radiation treatments. "I had a (diagnostic) scan (recently) and it showed that the tumor and the (cancer) cells in the adjacent lymph gland were gone."

12 days after John Lennon was shot dead, "Just Like Starting Over" became his first UK solo #1 (1980).

On December 20, 1989, a lawsuit was filed against Chuck Berry on behalf of more than seventy women who claimed he had secretly videotaped them while they used restrooms in his home and a restaurant. Although Berry adamantly denied making the tapes or even knowing who did, the cases were settled out of court for more than one million dollars.

2001 was a very good year for Classic Rockers. Elton John and Billy Joel toured together and grossed nearly $60 million from just 31 dates, averaging $1.9 million per show. Eric Clapton proved to be a strong draw in international arenas, earning a healthy $43.5 million from 59 shows, racking up 38 complete sell-outs, and averaging nearly $750,000 per night.

Money making figures for 2002's top grossing Rock artists were as follows:

Paul McCartney - $126.1 million
The Rolling Stones - $90 million
Cher - $67.6 million
Neil Diamond - $52.2 million
Britney Spears - $43.7 million
Aerosmith - $36.3 million
Eagles - $34.9 million
'N Sync - $33 million
The top grossing country artist was Kenny Chesney at $22.7 million.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What is Collecting? Is it a hobby or an obsession?

By Robert Benson

People collect, amass, store and hoard just about anything. Some are put up for display (like fine art), yet, others remain in attics and basement, sealed away forever. People collect just about anything including: marbles, coins, political memorabilia, cookie jars, autographs, sports memorabilia, jewelry, Pez dispensers, snow globes, stamps, vinyl records, sports cards, comic books, toys, ceramics, jewelry…. why the list is endless.

People have always collected something either as a hobby or an investment. In fact, one of the first American numismatists began collecting coins in 1817 and it was a collection of American cents from each year. But, coin collecting has a history going back to ancient times when the ancient Romans were interested in and collected Greek and Roman coins.

There have been many famous people who have collected one thing or another. It is reported that a certain U.S. attorney has amassed a collection of more than 200,000 railroad nails and a Russian countess collected bedpans that had previously belonged to rich and famous people. King Louis XIV of France thoroughly enjoyed his daily visit to the French Royal Coin Collection, noting that he could ‘always find something new to learn.’ In addition, actor Buddy Ebsen, who portrayed the loveable hillbilly Jed Clampett, was fond of collecting ancient coins. The flamboyant rock star Freddie Mercury, of the band Queen, was an avid stamp collector as a boy. Many famous musicians have huge vinyl record collections, including Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Peter Wolf (of the J. Geils Band), and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), just to name a few.

Many collecting hobbies have “sub genres.” For instance, collecting vinyl records can be divided into any number of specific categories. One could collect specific genres of music (Big Band, Jazz, Classical, etc.) or be partial to a particular record label such as Capitol, Reprise, RCA, Columbia and many others. Some may also collect 45’s, picture discs, record sleeves, colored vinyl records,.......well, you get the idea. It is well known that famed pop artist Robert Crumb (who designed the famous album cover for Janis Joplin’s “Cheap Thrills” LP) was keen on collecting 78 rpm records and had amassed quite a collection.

Maybe you know someone who collects Pez dispensers. They may have famous celebrities, cartoon characters, specific colored ones, and different years of release and so on. Comic book collectors could also collect a specific type of comic, like super heroes, Archie comics, adult comics, Disney comics or even black and white comics from years gone by.

But, exactly why do people collect? They could gain a measure of satisfaction and pleasure from simply displaying the objects they collect. Sometimes, it is the nostalgia bug that compels people to collect items from a specific era. It could be an item that is associated with their childhood, a famous person or a world famous event. Some collect because of the intrinsic value of an item, and the fact that the item may be desirable to others and can command a profit if they sold it. An item could also have a specific provenance that could compel interest.

Now, is collecting an obsession or some form of “pack rat fever?” The Webster’s dictionary defines the word collect to mean “to gather (stamps, books etc.) for a hobby.” A collectible is something “that can be collected, suitable for collections; as by a hobbyist-any class of old things, but, not antiques, that people collect as a hobby.” It further states that a collector is “a person who collects stamps, books, etc. as a hobby.” Products are also manufactured with “collectibility” in mind, such as “limited edition” items like vinyl records, coins, art prints or even cookie jars.

Moreover, the collectible’s market has expanded in recent years and fueled by annual price guides, books on the subject, television shows, collectible conventions and Internet auction sites; the collectible’s market is now a global phenomenon. There are also professionals who specialize in a certain market and they share their expertise and help to even value these collectibles. There is a science of sorts in how people “grade” certain collectibles (i.e., mint, excellent, fair etc.) and most of the time condition is paramount. All these elements drive the market and help create a desirability factor for specific products and items.

But, the one element missing from the dictionary definition of “collecting” is the drive and passion that people may have for whatever they collect. So let’s go a few steps further with our definition of “collecting.” Let’s define it as: The art of acquiring items or products that you are specifically passionate about and want to retain, either for monetary gain or personal satisfaction. Let’s explore this definition in detail.

Is there an art to collecting? There certainly is. One must know where to find exactly what it is that they are seeking. Let’s assume you collect vinyl records. Is it best to place an advertisement in a trade publication, local or national newspaper, shop online, or pursue the rummage/garage sale methods? What about going to the “record conventions” that are held in major cities all over the country? Is that the best avenue to pursue? There is an art (some call it a science) to knowing where the best place is to find whatever collectible that you may be looking for.

Furthermore, in the dictionary definitions of collecting, a key term is missing, passion. There is a direct correlation to the drive and motivation a person feels and how successful they may be in acquiring their collectibles. This is a very important element, the enthusiasm a person has, the passion, is what makes whatever they may be collecting, an enjoyable experience. And, obviously the more they put into collecting, the more that they will get in return, not only in monetary terms, but, simply put, the more fun they will have pursuing their hobby.

So next time you shake you’re your head at your spouse, friend or family member and call them a “pack rat,” remember that they are not only passionate about what they are doing; but actually find a great deal of excitement and personal satisfaction in doing what they are doing. It is one of the most rewarding and pleasurable things a person can do.

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called
"The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting."
Contact Robert at

This Day In Music History

December 19th

In 1957, a young Elvis Presley was served his draft notice while home at Graceland for Christmas. He was sworn in as a private in the U.S. Army on March 24, 1958 and later sent to basic training in Fort Hood, Texas. Shipped to Germany, he will serve in Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps, from October 1, 1958, to March 1, 1960.

On December 19, 1964 the Supremes' song “Come See About Me” hits #1 and stayed on top for 2 weeks.

MTV debuts its weekly animated series, "MTV Oddities," a show that features strange characters in unusual worlds and situations in 1994.

In 2005, Britney Spears sues US Weekly for $20 million in libel damages after the supermarket tab publishes a story claiming she and Kevin Federline made a "goofy" sex tape.

Band Aid 20 remained at # 1 in the UK for the third straight week with the holiday song called "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in 2004.

In 2003, Bruce Springsteen and Nils Lofgren attended the funeral of their friend, eccentric Wall St. tycoon John Mulheren. Springsteen leads the assembly in Christmas carols, while Lofgren sings "Wind Beneath My Wings."

Pop Staples, the guitarist who headed the family gospel group the Staples Singers, dies after falling near his home in Dalton, IL on December 19, 2000. The Staple Singers had the pop hit in 1972 with "I'll Take You There."

The Byrds' original drummer Michael Clarke dies of liver failure in 1993, in Treasure Island, Fla.

In 1987, two girls die after being crushed in the crowd before a Public Enemy concert at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium.

The ABBA album “The Visitors” tops the British album charts in 1981.

In 1974, on his first ever solo world tour, George Harrison performs the first of two nights at Madison Square Garden.

At London's Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court Mick Jagger is fined 200 pounds for possession of marijuana in 1969. His girlfriend Marianne Faithfull is acquitted of a similar charge.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono meet with media guru Marshall McLuhan at the University of Toronto for a 45-minute rap session in 1969.

In 1968, a struggling rock and roll band called Led Zeppelin performs at the Exeter City Hall in England for a fee of 125 pounds. On many dates in the current tour, the band is billed as the New Yardbirds simply to draw an audience.

Birthday wishes to Ten Years After guitarist Alvin Lee who was born in Nottingham, England in 1944.

Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White is born in Memphis in 1941.

Outspoken folksinger Phil Ochs celebrates a birthday (he was born in El Paso, Texas in 1940).

Later hailed as the father of New Orleans R&B, singer and pianist Professor Longhair is born in Bogalusa, LA in 1918.

In 1960, Neil Sedaka’s "Calendar Girl" was released.

Also in 1960, crooner Frank Sinatra recorded his first session with his own record company, Reprise Records. Frank did "Ring-A-Ding-Ding" and "Let’s Fall in Love."

Ron Woods joined the Rolling Stones in 1974.

The film "9 to 5," with Dolly Parton, opened on December 19, 1980.

In 2001, Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland pled guilty to domestic battery case that arose after fighting with his wife at a Hard Rock Hotel on November 19. The judge approved a plea bargain in which the case would be dismissed if Weiland had no more problems for the next six months and he completed 26 counseling sessions.

Also in 2001, Madonna is interviewed on NBC’s "Dateline."

The late Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful was born in 1944.

Charlie Ryan, who recorded the hit, "Hot Rod Lincoln" turns 92.

Buddy Holly is honored in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas when they named a street after him in 1996.

Bobby Darin records his famous hit "Mack The Knife," in 1958.

In 1955, Carl Perkins recorded "Blue Suede Shoes", a song that he wrote after seeing a young man get angry at his date for scuffing his shoes. Even though Elvis Presley's version is the most remembered, it only made it to #20 on the US chart, while the Perkins' original went to #2.

In 1975, the US Pop chart reaches a new all time low when "Convoy" by C.W. McCall earns a gold record. The novelty tune tells the story of interstate truck drivers and their run-ins with the law. And we thought Disco was bad!

In 1979, Elvis Presley's personal physician, George Nichopoulos, was charged with 'illegally and indiscriminately' prescribing over 12,000 tablets of uppers, downers, and painkillers for him during the 20 months preceding his death. Although he was acquitted this time, he was charged again in 1980 and again in 1992 and was stripped of his medical license in July 1995.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This Day In Music History

In 1964, fans rush James Brown's limo at Sam Cooke's wake in Chicago, forcing him to leave.

In 1975 Rod Stewart leaves Faces.

Sgt. Barry Sadler records "The Ballad Of The Green Berets,” in 1965.

On December 18th 1964, funeral services are held in Chicago for Sam Cooke.

A 1969 New York Times article estimates that the youth audience in America accounts for 75-percent of the $1 billion spent annually on recorded music.

"I Gotcha" by Joe Tex is released by Dial Records in 1971. The song will reach #1 on the Billboard R&B chart in late January 1972, largely because of the publicity caused by way Tex slurred the line "Told you not to play with my affection," which causes many listeners to mistake the last word for one that rhymes with it.

Hall and Oates overtook The Everly Brothers as the top recording duo of all time, when their biggest hit, "Maneater" reached number 1 on the US singles chart in 1982.

Keith Richards marries model Patti Hansen during a ceremony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in 1983. Mick Jagger was the best man.

On December 18, 1991, pop singer Gilbert O'Sullivan wins an injunction that prevents rapper Biz Markie from sampling his 1972 hit "Alone Again (Naturally)" for a new Rap single called "Alone Again.”

Michael Jackson is formally charged with seven counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under the age of fourteen and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent on this date in 2003.

Birthday wishes to Bryan “Chas” Chandler, bass player for the Animals (1938).

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was born in 1943, and contrary to other reports, is still alive.

Pretty Things released their groundbreaking and critically acclaimed rock opera “SF Sorrow” in 1968.

In 1971, T. Rex hits #1 in the UK and #32 in the US with “Electric Warrior.”

In 1983 the Talking Heads film a live concert, with Jonathan Demme directing, at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre. It is released in the fall of 1984 as the film and album “Stop Making Sense.”

Poison, one of the most popular rock-metal bands with big hair is certified gold by the RIAA for "Every Rose Has It's Thorn” in the year 2000.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How To Tell If You Have a Beatles' Butcher Cover

With the start of "BeatleMania II" and Anthology people have had a renewed interest in the Beatles Butcher Cover. But, how do you know if you have a Butcher Cover underneath the "Steamer Trunk cover?"

Ways to tell

1) Covers with the "Gold Record Award" seal can NOT be Butchers.

2) On the back, lower-right-hand corner is a number. This will usually be a number, 2,3,4,5 or 6 denoting the Capitol Pressing Plant where that album was pressed.

3) Lp's must have a "slick" type cover. At that time, the Lp jackets were made in three pieces.
a) Cardboard Jacket
b) Back Slick which raps around to the front of the cover
c) The front slick.

4) Sometimes the "Trunk" slick was pasted on sloppily and ended up offset. Then you can see part of the original cover underneath fairly easy.

5) "Pictured" to the right. If you look close, you can see
the bleed-through of Ringos V-neck shirt.

6) Most importantly. You ***MUST*** be able to see the bleed-through of Ringo's black V-Neck shirt or it is NOT a butcher. It is possible that the cover could be so dirty or worn that you may not be able to make that determination. a wonderful site dedicated to the Beatles' Butcher Cover

This Day In Music History

"Shake, Rattle and Roll” became the first rock and roll song to make it onto the U.K. singles chart. The year was 1954 and it was performed by Bill Haley and His Comets.

“Jingle Bell Rock,” the first rock ’n’ roll Christmas song was a #6 hit for Bobby Helms in 1957. “Jingle Bell Rock” would make the top 100 again in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1997.

Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations was born in 1939.

Birthday wishes to Paul Butterfield (born in 1942).

Paul Rodgers celebrates a birthday (born in 1949).

Birthday wishes to Mike Mills of the rock group R.E.M. (1958).

Hound Dog Taylor died in 1975 of cancer.

We lost Grover Washington Jr. who died of a heart attack in 1999, at the age of 56.

In 1961, Garth Hudson joins Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel in the Hawks, who serve as Arkansas rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins’ backup band.

In 1977, Neil Young released “Decade,” a triple-album retrospective.

In 1993, MTV launches "The State," a weekly sketch comedy show that takes a raw comedic look at the pop culture of the day.

In 1965- The Supremes open the Houston Astrodome with a concert that also starred Judy Garland.

Carl Perkins writes "Blue Suede Shoes" in 1955.

Olivia Newton-John appears in the NBC-TV movie "A Mom For Christmas," in 1990.

Andy Williams records "Love Story," in 1970.

In 1955, while their hit "Only You" was at the #2 position, the Platters' "The Great Pretender" enters the Billboard R&B chart at #13.

Also in 1955, Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" is number one on both the Pop and Country & Western charts.

In 1963, James Carroll at WWDC in Washington, DC, became the first disc jockey to broadcast a Beatles record on American airwaves. Carroll played "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which he had obtained from his stewardess girlfriend, who had brought the single back from Britain. Due to listener demand, it played daily, every hour and since it hadn't been officially released in the States, Capitol Records initially considered court action, but instead released the single earlier than planned.

The Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" enters the Billboard Pop chart in 1966, where it peaks at #2 during its eleven week run.

The Four Tops' "Standing in the Shadows of Love" enters the Billboard Hot 100 on December 17, 1966. During a ten week stay, the tune will peak at #6 and also reaches #2 on the R&B chart.

In 1969, an estimated 40 million viewers tuned in to see 36 year old Tiny Tim marry 17 year old Victoria May Budinger, whom he refers to as "Miss Vicki," on NBC's "The Tonight Show." The couple would later have one daughter, Tulip and would be divorced in 1972.

The Beach Boys play a command performance for Princess Margaret at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1970.

In 1977, Elvis Costello appears on NBC-TV's Saturday Night Live, where producer Lorne Michaels refuses to allow him to perform "Radio, Radio" (because of the song's criticism of the broadcasting industry). A few measures into "Less than Zero," Costello halts his group and goes into "Radio, Radio." He will never be invited back.

In 1982, Karen Carpenter made her last public appearance, singing Christmas carols at Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, California.

Paul McCartney's limo catches fire en route to a TV taping in Newcastle, England in 1986. Both he and Linda escape unharmed.

In 1986, The Doobie Brothers reunite for a benefit in Palo Alto, California. The performance inspires a reunion tour the next year.

Outside his birthday party at the Russian Tea Room in New York City in 1999, the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards decides to keep a guitar that he was asked to autograph. The owner of the guitar decides not to press charges saying, "It's Keith, man."

Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie agreed to sell 85% of his estate to businessman Robert FX Sillerman in a deal worth $100m in 2004. Sillerman will run Presley's Memphis home, Graceland, will own Elvis' name and likeness, the rights to his photographs and revenue from his music and films. Lisa Marie will retain possession of Graceland and many of her father's "personal effects.” The agreement was to pay her $53 million in cash and absolve her of $25million in debts that was owed by the estate. She will also receive shares in the new company expected to be worth more than $20 million. Actress Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie's mother and Presley's former wife, remained executive consultant to the business.

In 2006 we lost Dennis Payton, saxophonist for The Dave Clark Five, who died of cancer on December 17th, at the age of 63.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This Day In Music History-December 16th

In 1958, Ritchie Valens performs a concert at the Pacoima Junior High, a school he had attended. The show was recorded and posthumously released in 1960 as “ Ritchie Valens Live at Pacoima Junior High.”

1961 saw Elvis Presley's soundtrack to "Blue Hawaii" reach #1 on the album charts, where it remained for 20 weeks. With sales of 2 million, it is Elvis’s best-selling album to date.

In 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience released the song "Hey Joe" in England.

"War Is Over! If You Want It!" billboards go up in 11 cities around the world in 1969, as a Christmas message from John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Gary Glitter’s song "I Didn't Know I Loved You (Til I Saw You Rock and Roll)" hits #35 in the US in 1972 and subsequently becomes a sports anthem for many sports.

In 1972, soul crooner Billy Paul hits #1 with the song "Me And Mrs. Jones."

Birthday wishes to Benny Andersson of ABBA.

Ludwig von Beethoven was born in 1770.

On December 16, 1997, Nicolette Larson ("Lotta Love") dies of cerebral edema.

The Who break up in 1983.

Being too young to perform, the Beatles’ George Harrison is deported from Germany in 1960.

Ray Charles receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1981.

"Saturday Night Fever" film opens in 1977.

The Paul McCartney composition called, "Woman," was recorded by Peter & Gordon in 1965.

Eugene Farrar became the first singer to broadcast on radio when he sang "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in New York in 1907.

1970 saw five singles and five albums by CCR certified gold. The singles were: "Down on the Corner," "Lookin’ out My Back Door," "Travelin' Band," "Bad Moon Rising" and "Up Around The Bend." The LPs were "Cosmo's Factory," "Willy and the Poor Boys,” "Green River,” "Bayou Country" and "Creedance Clearwater Revival."

In 1974, saying he felt that now was the time to move on; guitarist Mick Taylor announced he was leaving The Rolling Stones.

In 1975, the Bay City Rollers earned a gold record for their first US single, "Saturday Night."

In 1977, the Bee Gees were awarded a gold record for "How Deep is Your Love," the fourth of their seven US number one singles. The song would later become the subject of a failed copyright infringement suit five years later, when an amateur songwriter claimed the brothers had lifted the melody from a composition he had written.

1991 saw Chubby Checker file a lawsuit against McDonald's Restaurants of Canada. Checker was seeking $14 million in damages because they allegedly used an imitation of his voice (the song "The Twist" had been used in a French fry commercial).

In 1995, The Beatles' "Free As A Bird" peaks at #2 on the UK charts and #6 in the US. The song was written by John Lennon and performed by him on piano as a rough demo shortly before he was murdered. The track was then completed by the remaining Beatles at Paul McCartney's home studio.

Birthday wishes to the Hollies' Tony Hicks (he was born in 1943).

Happy Birthday to Z.Z. Top guitarist, Billy Gibbons (1949).

In 1956, a New York Episcopal minister predicts that the whole "Elvis Presley craze" will pass. He calls Presley a "whirling dervish of sex.”

Christopher Thorn (guitar, mandolin and harmonica) of Blind Melon’s celebrates a birthday (1968).

In 1990, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne perform a concert in Sioux City, ND, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee.

Raising more than $5,000 for an orphanage in India in 1994, Blur plays a fundraiser at England’s Colchester Sixth Form College. The school’s orchestra plays with the group on “Parklife” and other songs.

In 2003, the “Cold Mountain” soundtrack was released. White Stripes singer/guitarist Jack White contributed five songs, including two new compositions.

In 2004, amid many rumors, Jack White and actress Renée Zellweger confirm that they have ended their to their two-year romance.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Vinyl Village- New Vinyl Forum

I want to inform you of a new music/vinyl record forum that is up and running, called the "Vinyl Village." It is operated by record price guide guru Jerry Osborne and is full of vinyl related Q & A, "This Day in Music History" (I am a contributer), Elvis Presley and Beatle categories and a Rhythm & Blues - Doo-Wop - Vocal Group Harmony category. Other categories include: Soul Music, Blues, Country & Western, Folk, Jazz and Soundtrack information. There is a category where you can submit material and vinyl record news to Jerry and his staff so they can faciliate and update the online version of his "Rockin' Records" price guide called "CYBERGUIDES." Look for more information about this revolutionary "real-time" record price guide in upcoming posts.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hitler Picture Disc

I am working with a private collection and have come across a particular "picture disc" vinyl record that has me very curious of the value. Apparently, when played, it is believed to be Hitler speaking on the record (obviously in German and the record itself has some German writing on it). Another fascinating element is that in the same plastic sleeve there is a picture of the Beatles' "butcher block" album cover.

Now, the Bealtes often referred to their relationship with Capitol Records as "Hitler-like," so these two items were together for a reason and adds a certain provenance (as well as who owned it) to the whole package. Anyone with any information or know anything about this record, I would appreciate your input.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gene Simmons Rant About The Music Industry

A long time ago (1985), my buddy called me up and said he had set us up for a gig, a one-time, set up/roadie for the legendary rock band KISS. Now, I was thrilled, I love a great rock and roll show and quickly accepted the offer.

So off we went, it was Sunday, Easter Sunday in fact, and the reason we were hired is because the road crew had the day off. We get there at 10:00 a.m. and were put right to work. Six semi-trucks full of equipment, including the large KISS sign, dressing room furniture, monitors, speakers, and various musical equipment-it was a daunting task even for this motley crew. But, we had plenty of help and the set up was finished by 3:00 p.m. for the eight o'clock show. We had the choice of sticking around and watching the show or leaving and coming back to tear down.

We decided to stay (who wouldn't with backstage passes?) and when we went in to eat dinner (they had the food catered in), that is where I met Paul Stanley. He came and sat right next to me (my buddy was across the table) and we had a wonderful conversation; he was a very engaging and personable guy. I did not get to meet Gene Simmons or the rest of the band, but we were told to leave the band alone, and being a veteran roadie, I could understand and comply by these rules; they have enough to worry about.

So the show went on, very loud and the crowd loved them. A band called King Kobra was the opening act (Carmen Appice was on the drums). KISS played all their great songs and really rocked the little civic center (it was in Hammond, Indiana). We tore down and got done by about 5 a.m. and were then paid. What a truly wonderful experience and I really thought that these guys were very classy.

So, why bring this up? I read a fantastic article about what Gene Simmons thinks of the music industry today and I thought I would share it with you. He is certainly well-informed and I can really agree with his views. You can find the story here:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vinyl Records Top 5 eBay Sales

Week Ending 12/01/2007
Top 5:

1) 45rpm - The Fix "Vengeance"/"In This Town" - $3,350.00 Bids: 26

2) 45rpm -Elton John "I've Been Loving You" EP PORTUGAL - $2,551.00 Bids: 12

3) LP - Tryad "If Only You Believe In Lovin" - $2,499.00

4) LP - Vogue Private Issue Alleluia - $2,445.00

5) 45rpm - The Chentelles "Be My Queen" / "Time" - $2,045.00 Bids: 14

Monday, December 10, 2007

Stephen M.H. Braitman

I had the pleasure of speaking with and interviewing Stephen M. H. Braitman, a vinyl record appraiser and music historian. Here is the article I wrote about our conversation:

Stephen M.H. Braitman

Putting a value on your vinyl collection

by Robert Benson

The value of vinyl records is very subjective and certainly up for debate. There are many elements that go into ascertaining just how much a specific record or a whole collection may be worth. Do you use fair market value, replacement value or record price guide value? As I found out, it all depends on the circumstances, and the best way to achieve these objectives is to have your collection professionally appraised. I had the opportunity to speak with professional appraiser and music historian Stephen M. H. Braitman about the elements that go into putting a value on a record collection.

But, first, let me introduce Stephen. He has been involved with records and music since the late 60's, writing and editing several entertainment and music publications. He also has been a dealer, buying and selling records, posters and related memorabilia throughout the years. His widely acknowledged expertise in the marketplace for music and memorabilia makes his appraisal services very important for estate planning, charitable contributions, expert testimony and for insurance and coverage claims. His many credentials include: passing the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) Principles of Practice and Code of Ethics exam in 2004, completing courses on such subjects as the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) Personal Property Valuation, Methodology-Research and Analysis as well as the legal and commercial environment of appraisal. He is also a music analyst with Gracenote, the digital music management company.

So what does all this mean? Stephen M.H. Braitman is a qualified, certified appraiser. Why is this unique service so important? As I discussed the details of his occupation with Mr. Braitman, let’s explore some of the details that go into a record collection appraisal and how a record collection should be appraised.

“This is a new service, a new genre so to speak,” he said. “The service is being offered for those people who may have large or small collections and have really no idea their worth. Unfortunately, there are no legal requirements to qualify as an appraiser except in the real estate market, but the IRS and the Appraisal Foundation have led the way with the adoption of nationally recognized standards that reputable appraisers in all fields use. The IRS, for example, uses the concept of fair market value, meaning the agreed-upon price paid by a willing, knowledgeable buyer to a willing, knowledgeable seller. One of the reasons I entered this profession is, not only because of my love for music and music memorabilia, but because I felt that the industry needs certified appraisers to provide critical assistance in defining the values of collections for insurance purposes, estate planning, tax donation claims, personal disputes and investments. Part of the job is also being called upon as an expert witness to attest and back up the values set upon a collection. That’s where I enter the picture.”

When asked what exactly goes into an appraisal, Stephen explained:

“There are many variables that have to be recognized when placing a value on a collection. It also depends on the purpose of the appraisal. For instance, the IRS uses fair market value in determining the value of donated material. But, replacement value in insurance cases different; it’s higher because you’ll be paying a higher cost to recover certain collectibles, let’s say, that may have been lost in a fire. So, the intent of the appraisal must be taken into consideration as well.”

“We research what are comparable items in the current marketplace. There are several aspects to research that include recent and relevant sales, trend analysis, professional consensus, retail stores, auction prices as well as record guide prices. The record price guides are a nice starting point, but they may not reflect true value because of the variables just mentioned.”

“Our first order of business in an appraisal is generally to examine the physical items, if possible, and note the condition, edition or other key points of recognition. Then we conduct extensive research to ascertain the current marketability of the items. Our service concludes with a certified document that details the estimated retail value and the current wholesale value, depending on the type of appraisal. We also include a statement of the overall quality level of the item or collection, including condition, pressing edition or the cultural or historical desirability. This document exceeds the appraisal requirements of the IRS and the insurance companies.”

We discussed one of the most confusing and subjective elements regarding vinyl records: grading the vinyl. I asked Stephen what method he uses.

“It is actually a combination of many methods, including the Goldmine Standards that have been set up in their many publications, the ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’-formula, and my own formula. I like to take it a step further and use a 100-point scale, and deduct points for every flaw, not only on the record, but the picture sleeve (if it is a 45rpm), LP jacket and cover. I would like to see a uniform standard set up sometime in the near future, something that everybody in the industry could agree on,” said Stephen.

There are also a couple of ways to have your memorabilia or record collection documented and appraised, as Stephen details:

“We actually offer two distinct services, the professional appraisal and a quick evaluation of your memorabilia or record collection. This entails you sending us a list of your items from which we provide a detailed document with a range of market values based on comparables. You’ll be able to tell whether you have something worth $1.00, $10, $100, or more. This process is quicker and less expensive that the formal appraisal and is most useful in estimating what a sale to a dealer might bring,” explained Stephen.

“Our service includes, not only the appraisal of records and record collections, but posters, flyers, handbills, programs, CDs, promotional items, tour books and other music collectibles. (I don't handle musical instruments, which is a very different kind of specialty). It is important to have your items or collections appraised to gauge the potential replacement value, assist in estate planning goals, tax elements and other factors. I have much more information on my Website,”

As we wrapped up our interview, we talked about our love for not only music, but the historical audio format of, vinyl records. I asked Stephen about one of his most memorable record collection appraisals.

“I did an appraisal for a gentleman in Texas and he had a wonderful and superb record collection. But, when he put on an old 78rpm of Robert Johnson and played it on his professional sound equipment, and as the music filled the room, you could have swore that Mr. Robert Johnson himself was playing for you right then and there. It was a wonderful and enlightening experience, and one I will never forget,” recalled Stephen.

So, not only does Stephen M.H. Braitman offer valuable and unique record appraisal services, he also gets to archive, appraise and handle important parts of audio history, and gets to hear them as well. And that is a reward that you can not put a value on.

Stephen’s contact information:
Monthly Column: "The Picture Sleeve Archive" in Goldmine Magazine
Phone: 925-679-3044

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called
"The Fascinating Hobby of Vinyl Record Collecting."