Sunday, October 26, 2008

Former Grateful Dead keyboardist Saunders dies

SAN FRANCISCO – Merl Saunders, a jazz and rock keyboardist who collaborated with iconic acts including Miles Davis and the Grateful Dead, has died. He was 74.

Saunders died Friday at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco of complications due to a stroke, said his son, Merl Saunders Jr.

"We loved him very much — and we know that you, his fans, did too," his family said in a statement posted on Saunders' Web site. "He was a special man, a beautiful companion, father, grandfather, and family patriarch, and the proof of that spirit is in the way you've reached out to us at his passing."

Born in San Mateo, Calif., Saunders attended high school with Johnny Mathis in San Francisco. One of Saunders' very first performances was a high school event with Mathis, Saunders Jr. said.

Some of Saunders' most famous music was made in the 1960s and 1970s when he teamed up with the Grateful Dead's lead guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia. The Saunders-Garcia Band recorded two records in the 1970s and the two would play together on an array of projects until Garcia's death in 1995.

In 1990 Saunders and Garcia released the album "Blues from the Rainforest" that achieved success on the new age music charts.

Saunders is survived by his longtime companion, his two sons and a daughter.

Classic Rock Videos

Crystals- Da Doo Ron Ron Ron

Album Cover Art

Let's continue our look at's look at controversial, weird, best and worst album covers (as compiled by their crack staff):


3. Type O Negative: ‘The Origin’ – Brooklyn band Type O Negative were forced to change their album artwork to a green and black image of dancing skeletons after the close-up of a sphincter, reportedly that of lead singer Peter Steele, unsurprisingly caused controversy. Gee you think that an image of someone's ass is the best way to sell and promote your music? Assholes.

alternate cover



3. Butthole Surfers: 'Double Live' – Oh, these wise guys again. They have certainly made the Gigwise list several times and I think that goofy album cover art (like this alien baby/alien dinosaur shaking hands while onstage) is just a precursoor to their weird music. This live album, released in 1989, was given an extremely limited run - 10,000 vinyl printings, 7,500 cassettes, and 4,750 CDs to be precise.

The band did not begin as the Butthole Surfers, although they did have a song of that title, possibly an early version of 1984's "Butthole Surfer". This changed at their first paid concert, when an announcer forgot what the band was called and used the song title for the group’s name. They decided to keep the moniker, and have largely been billed as such ever since. Prior to that, the Surfers performed under a different name at every live show. Early aliases included the Dick Clark Five, Nine Foot Worm Makes Own Food, the Vodka Family Winstons, and many others.

The name has long been a source of trouble for the band. Many clubs, newspapers, radio, and TV stations refuse to print or mention their full name, and instead opted to use "B.H. Surfers", or other abbreviations.

I'm not sure, but will we see them again on the Gigwise list?



3. John Lennon & Yoko Ono – ‘Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins’: We have already seen this 'great' cover on the Gigwise list, someone must be obsessed with it.

Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins is a noise music album released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1968. The result of an all-night session of musical experimentation in Lennon's home studio at Kenwood, John and Yoko's debut album is known not only for its avant garde content, but also for its cover. The album's title came from the couple's feeling that they were "two innocents, lost in a world gone mad", and because after making the recording, the two consummated their relationship for the first time.

The recording consists largely of tape loops, playing while Lennon tries out different instruments (piano, organ, drums) and sound effects (including reverb, delay and distortion), changes tapes and plays other recordings, and converses with Ono, who vocalises ad-lib in response to the sounds. Lennon's longtime friend Peter Shotton remembered later in his memoir (The Beatles, Lennon and Me) that many of the loops were made by Lennon and himself, in the days before the recording. Lennon recorded directly to two-track stereo, but much of the source material was monophonic.

The couple used a time-delay camera to take nude photographs of themselves, for the album's cover; the front showed them frontally nude, while the rear showed them from behind. (The photos were taken not at Kenwood, but at Ringo Starr's basement apartment at Montagu Square, where Lennon and Ono stayed later that year.) The cover provoked an outrage, prompting distributors to sell the album in a plain brown wrapper. Copies of the album were impounded as obscene in several jurisdictions (including 30,000 copies in New Jersey). Lennon wryly commented that the uproar seemed to have less to do with the explicit nudity, and more to do with the fact that the pair were rather unattractive (and the photo unflattering; Lennon described it later as a picture of "two slightly overweight ex-junkies." Nevertheless, the taboo-breaking album cover was perhaps the first time that a male celebrity of any consequence had exposed himself so thoroughly to the public.



3. The Sex Pistols: ‘Never Mind the Bollocks' - This cover shows up on many 'best of' lists and I cannot see why. It is the name of the group and the name of the album. Yes, I like the yellow and purple mix, but that is about it for me.

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols is the first and only album recorded by the Sex Pistols, a highly influential and controversial English punk band. Fans and critics alike generally regard the album as an extremely important record in the history of rock music, citing the lasting influence it has had on subsequent punk musicians and other musical genres that were influenced by such punk rock artists.

The album was released on October 28, 1977 on the Virgin Records label, amid controversy arising from the use of the obscenity (in British English) "bollocks" in its title.

Ok, now that explains it, apparently "bullocks" is a dirty word.

This Date In Music History- October 26


Birthday wishes to Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs.

Born on this day in 1951, Bootsy Collins, bass player.

David Was of Was Not Was, was born in 1952. (that’s a lot of was’s).

Maggie Roche of the folk trio the Roches was born in 1951. You can hear her backing vocals on Paul Simon's There Goes Rhymin' Simon.


In 1984, 19-year-old John D. McCollum killed himself with a .22 caliber handgun after spending the day listening to Ozzy Osbourne records. One year later, McCollum's parents took court action against Ozzy and CBS Records, alleging that the song "Suicide Solution" from the album Blizzard of Ozz contributed to their son's death. The case was eventually thrown out of court.

The Beatles' debut single, "Love Me Do," entered the English chart in 1962.

A She Devil: In 1993, Catholic churches in San Juan, Puerto Rico asked residents to tie black ribbons on trees in protest against Madonna's first live appearance in the country.

In 1991, legendary Rock concert promoter Bill Graham was killed when the Bell 206B JetRanger III helicopter he was riding in struck the top of a Pacific Gas & Electric transmission tower near Sears Point, northwest of Vallejo, and exploded. The fiery crash, which left the helicopter's wreckage dangling near the top of the towering structure, killed Graham (age 60); his girlfriend Melissa Gold (age 47); and pilot Steve Kahn. Graham had founded the Fillmore theaters in San Francisco and New York and had played key roles in supporting such bands as the Who, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin, The Band, Bob Dylan, the J. Geils Band, the Allman Brothers Band and the Rolling Stones.

Whitney Houston went to No.1 on the US singles chart in 1985 with 'Saving All My Love For You', also a No.1 hit in the UK.

Queen Elizabeth II presented The Beatles with their MBE's at Buckingham Palace, England in 1965. According to John Lennon, The Beatles smoked marijuana in one of the palace bathrooms to calm their nerves. Is this a myth or Beatle magic to sell records?

Bill Haley and his Comets played the first rock 'n' roll concert in Germany in 1958. Over 7,000 rock 'n' roll fans turned the show into a riot. 20 policemen were injured and one permanently blinded as teens from East and West Berlin skirmish.

In 1961, Bob Dylan signed his first recording contract with Columbia Records.

In 1992, Pearl Jam sets a new record for first week sales when the LP "Vs." sold 950,000 copies. It’s a record later broken by less notable performers (Garth Brooks and the Backstreet Boys).

In 1991, singer / songwriter Hoyt Axton, who wrote Three Dog Night's "Joy To The World", died peacefully at his ranch at the age of 61. His mother, Mae Buran Axton wrote Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel". compiled a list of the top earning dead celebrities in 2004 and to no one's surprise, Elvis Presley came out on top. 27 years after his death, fans were still buying his music and collecting memorabilia to the tune of $40 million a year. Beatle John Lennon was number four on the list with earnings of $21 million, while his former band mate George Harrison was number 7, bringing in $7 million.