Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon Passes Away

Gordon Waller, who sang with the British invasion duo, Peter & Gordon, died on July 16, 2009. Waller went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a nearby hospital; however despite intensive efforts by hospital personnel, they were unable to revive the sixty-four year old singer.

Long time friend and musical partner Peter Asher stated:

"Gordon played such a significant role in my life that losing him is hard to comprehend – let alone to tolerate. He was my best friend at school almost half a century ago. He was not only my musical partner but played a key role in my conversion from only a snooty jazz fan to a true rock and roll believer as well. Without Gordon I would never have begun my career in the music business in the first place. Our professional years together in the sixties constitute a major part of my life and I have always treasured them.”

While both were attending Westminster School, Waller met fellow student and future singing partner Peter Asher and they began playing together as a duo — Peter & Gordon. As luck would have it, Peter Asher’s sister, actress Jane Asher, was dating Beatle Paul McCartney at the time and Peter and Gordon recorded the Lennon/McCartney penned song “A World Without Love,” which went to #1 in the US in 1964.

The duo reached the Billboard Top 40 a total of ten times with songs such as "Nobody I Know" (#12 in 1964), "I Don't Want To See You Again" (#16 in 1964), the Del Shannon penned single “I Go To Pieces” (#9 in 1965), a remake of the Buddy Holly classic “True Love Ways” (#14 in 1965), a cover of the Phil Spector-led group the Teddy Bears, with the song “To Know You Is To Love You” (they changed the title from “To Know Him Is To Love Him) and the 1966 single “Woman.” Interestingly, the songwriting credit for this song listed Bernard Webb as the songwriter; however this was just an alias for Paul McCartney, who wanted to see if he could have a hit song without his famous name attached to it. The song reached #14 in the US and #28 in the UK. They also reached #6 with the cut “Lady Godiva” in 1966.

The duo had their last hits in 1967 with “Knight In Rusty Armour” (#15) and “Sunday For Tea,” which peaked at #31. Peter & Gordon broke up in 1968 and Asher became head of A&R for Apple Records. Waller attempted a solo career with little success, releasing one record, “and Gordon” (1972). He also appeared in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Pharaoh, a performance that he reprised on the LP. In 2007, Gordon released a solo album “Plays the Beatles,” which featured a new recording of the duo’s 1966 hit "Woman." He followed up with another album in 2008 called “Rebel Rider.”

In 2005, Peter & Gordon reunited onstage for the first time in over 30 years, as part of two tribute concerts for Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five. They followed up this appearance with several other performances including concerts at The Festival for Beatles Fans (formerly Beatlefest), where according to a report by Journalist Peter Palmiere for Beatlefan magazine, the pair was the performing highlight of the convention. On July 19, 2008 Peter & Gordon performed together at The Cannery Casino in North Las Vegas, Nevada and on August 21, 2008, they performed a free concert on the pier in Santa Monica, California, briefly accompanied by Joan Baez.

Peter Asher was truly saddened by the news of his partner in music passing away, saying:

"I shall miss him in so many different ways. The idea that I shall never get to sing those songs with him again, that I shall never again be able to get annoyed when he interrupts me on stage or to laugh at his unpredictable sense of humor or even to admire his newest model train or his latest gardening effort is an unthinkable change in my life with which I have not even begun to come to terms.”

"Gordon remains one of my very favorite singers of all time and I am still so proud of the work that we did together. I am just a harmony guy and Gordon was the heart and soul of our duo.”

Written By Robert Benson 2009

Classic Rock Videos

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Bird & Animal Names In Rock And Roll History- part twenty-one

Written By Robert Benson

Let’s continue with our series about “bird” and ”animal” band names in rock and roll history, this time continuing our short theme, we have done dogs, then cats, in our last two articles and now, you guessed it, we are doing ‘mouse’ names.

Since 1993, the German duo of Jan St. Werner (from Dusseldorf) and Andi Toma (Koln) has been creating electronic music as Mouse On Mars. Their music is an eclectic blend of ambient techno, disco and complex mixtures of rock, jazz and jungle.

The duo’s first release in 1994 called “Vulvaland,” is a highly focused mix of techno music. However on subsequent releases, their sound has increased in warmth and playfulness, including more of a pop sound and what the duo term "fantastic analysis.” Mouse on Mars regularly perform live as a trio, with Toma & St. Werner augmented by drummer Dodo NKishi. In 2005, they released their first live album, titled Live 04.

While releasing albums mainly on British indie labels, Mouse on Mars actually started their own label, Sonig, on which they release their own work and work by other German artists. They also keep very busy producing a number of EPs and have recorded music for film soundtracks as well as remixing the work of other musicians.

Another ‘mouse’ band that was formed in 1993, Modest Mouse, are an American indie band that have found success with their breakthrough album in 1997 called “The Lonesome Crowded West.” Amid many personnel changes, the band gained a cult following and is now considered to be one of the seminal bands of the mid-90’s indie music scene. The group derived their name from a passage from the Virginia Woolf story "The Mark on the Wall" which reads, "I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises."

The band has attained significant mainstream success after they were signed to Sony's Epic Records in 2001. Modest Mouse are one of the leading bands in the commercialization of indie rock, beginning with their LPs “The Moon & Antarctica” and “Good News for People Who Love Bad News,” which have been certified gold and platinum by the RIAA respectively. The band has gone on to sell well over three million records since.

After releasing a variety of singles and rarities in 2000, the group released the first LP on Epic Records, the aforementioned “The Moon & Antarctica” and they enjoyed some success on alternative radio with the singles "3rd Planet" and "Gravity Rides Everything;” which wound up being used in a Nissan commercial; a move that the band publicly acknowledged as blatantly commercial but necessary to achieve financial stability.

In 2001, they released the EP “Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks,” which was a collection of unused songs from the “The Moon and Antarctica” recording sessions. In 2002, they joined Cake, De La Soul, The Flaming Lips, The Hackensaw Boys and Kinky on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour.

More personnel changes followed before the release of 2004’s “Good News for People Who Love Bad News,” which scored the group two hits, “Float” and “Ocean Breathes Salty” (which they performed on a SNL gig in November of 2004). The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Rock Album as well.

Amid more personnel changes (Johnny Marr, the former guitarist for The Smiths replacing Dann Gallucci), the band released "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" in March of 2007. The album was highly successful and became the first Modest Mouse album to reach number one on the US Billboard 200 charts, spawning the hit single "Dashboard," as well as the singles "Missed the Boat" and "We've Got Everything."

The band toured extensively to promote the LP, touring with R.E.M. and The National in 2008. An update on the band's blog featured a picture of the band rehearsing new songs and an EP titled “No One's First and You're Next” is scheduled for release in August 2009. In the meantime, the band released the single "Satellite Skin" 7" on May 5, 2009 and have concerts dates in Canada in August 2009. We can expect more great music from the near future.

Our next ‘mouse’ band is a prolific garage rock band called Mouse and the Traps, who are most known for their uncanny imitation of the Highway 61-era Bob Dylan sound with their regional hit “A Public Execution;” which could easily fool even the most die-hard Dylan fanatic. The Tyler, Texas band released some classic Texas punk-psychedelia from 1965-1969.

Mouse and the Traps took their name from lead singer Ronnie “Mouse” Weiss who was a member in a local band Jerry Vee and the Catalinas, with fellow musician Dave Stanley. They got together with a gent called Bugs Henderson (who co-wrote the cut “A Public Execution with Weiss) and brought the song to Robin Hood Brians, who was the manager of Robin Hood Studios in Tyler (it is still in operation to this day). They released the single in 1966 under the moniker Mouse, but when Jerry Howell and Ken Murray joined the band, most of the remaining music was released under the name Mouse and the Traps.

After releasing several regional singles on the Fraternity Records label, Mouse and the Traps recorded two singles for Bell Records. These cuts were produced by Dale Hawkins (the writer and original recording artist for the early Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, "Suzie Q"). The band also performed on two of Hawkins' singles and contributed toward his 1966 album on the label, L.A., Memphis and Tyler, Texas. The band officially broke up in 1969, but all members remained in music except Jerry Howell (who became a Baptist minister).

By 1966, the members of Mouse and the Traps – along with Robin Hood Brians and Doug Rhone – were working with singer Jimmy Rabbitt, who was attempting to launch a band under the name Positively 13 O'Clock, an obvious play on Dylan's hit in the same time period, "Positively 4th Street." They recorded a frantic version of Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction" at Hanna-Barbera Records in September of 1966, but an album that was planned never materialized. However, if you are looking for some great 60’s garage rock and pop rockers, you have to include Mouse and the Traps in your search.

Mouse On Mars Tidbits:

Mouse on Mars collaborated in the studio and toured with Stereolab in the mid 1990s. St. Werner and Toma are childhood friends who were born on the same day, in the same hospital.

Buy Mouse On Mars Music

Modest Mouse Tidbits:

Modest Mouse formed in 1993 in the Seattle suburb of Issaquah, Washington by singer/lyricist/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. Johnny Marr joined the band in May 2006 with percussionist Joe Plummer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso.

In March 2003, Green quit the band after suffering a nervous breakdown; however the official word was that he was quitting to work with his side project, Vells. He was replaced with two new members, drummer Benjamin Weikel and guitarist Dann Gallucci (who has since left). Guitarist Jim Fairchild joined the band in February of 2009.

Modest Mouse was mentioned by name in the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of MGM v. Grokster. Justice David Souter wrote that on the Grokster P2P network, "Users seeking Top 40 songs, for example, or the latest release by Modest Mouse, are certain to be far more numerous than those seeking a free Decameron, and Grokster and StreamCast translated that demand into dollars."

R.E.M., Modest Mouse, Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, Jarvis Cocker, The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, and Fleet Foxes are just a few of the artists whose handmade signs featured in Under the Radar's Protest Issue will be auctioned off beginning September 30, 2009 to benefit War Child International.

Buy Modest Mouse Music

Mouse and the Traps Tidbits:

The band reformed briefly in 1972 but had a genuine reunion in 1986 with the original members during the Texas Sesquicentennial celebration. A videotape of the 1986 reunion concert is reportedly available.

Ronnie (Mouse) Weiss continues to tour and perform regularly, and often with his former bandmates; he is also a writer and is in demand as a session player.

Bugs Henderson has had a renowned career as an influential blues/rock guitarist with eight albums to his credit. His 2004 release on No Guru Records, “Stormy Love” includes a version of "Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice,” a regional hit for Mouse and the Traps.

Dave Stanley and Ken Murray, together with Larry Stanley founded the Lone Star Ramblers. They were featured performers at Dolly Parton's theme park, Dollywood from 1988 to 1996, and also appear annually at the Texas State Fair.

Jimmy Rabbitt has had a long and varied career as a rockabilly musician. He is also a celebrated Dallas and Los Angeles disc jockey who has had an internationally syndicated radio program, The Rabbitt Report since 1971.

Buy Mouse and the Traps Music

Music News & Notes

50 Cent Sets September Release Date For 'Perfect' New Album

Megastar rapper 50 Cent's long-awaited new album 'Before I Self Destruct' is scheduled to be released on September 29.

The album, which features production from Dr Dre and Timbaland, was originally due out last year.

"My album - it's perfect, I feel. I'm ready. I'm ready to put this album out. I really don't need adjustments," related 50 Cent to MTV.

“I need a few songs to be finished, mixed. Dre, he drags his feet. He's slow, but it's because he's so creative. He's gonna make sure it's perfect. I'm never mad at it. I understand that process from him.”

'Before I Self Destruct' was originally due out last December, but was postponed so producer Dr Dre could work on Eminem's recent album 'Relapse'


Pepsi Unaware How Michael Jackson Fire Video Leaked Online

Pepsi have said they are unaware how a video of Michael Jackson's hair being set on fire while shooting a commercial for the drinks company leaked onto the internet.

The footage – obtained by Us Weekly – shows Jackson's hair catching fire after a pyrotechnics accident occurred on the set of the 1984 commercial.

The incident, which left Jackson with severe burns, has been blamed for triggering the star's dependence on prescription drugs.

A spokeswoman for Pepsi told EW: “We don’t know how the footage became available. Twenty-five years later, we’d question why anyone would want to share such frightening images.

I am guilty of posting the video and I apologize, it was in poor taste and I have removed it. Shame on me.....


Coldplay Become First Band To Sell Over 1 Million Digital Albums

It's been reported that rockers Coldplay have become the first act to sell more than one million digital albums in America, according to new figures.

The group have sold a total 1.358 million full-length records in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The band's fourth album, 'Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends', has also become the biggest selling digital release in Nielsen's history.

The record was the biggest selling album in 2008, shifting more than 6.6million copies around the world.

However, your talking to a guy who has never downloaded a song in his life, so I am certainly not one of the 6.6 yoyo's who prefer music digitized and ruined by computer sound.


For those of you who embellish and partake in the some of God's creations, this is the kind of thing that they were made for....


Cheap Trick To Release "The Latest"

Cheap Trick's new album "The Latest" is set for a national retail release on July 21st via the band's own label Cheap Trick Unlimited distributed by RED. With exclusive availability since June 23rd through the band's website and, the new outing has garnered positive reviews from critics and fans alike.

The Associated Press declares the album "sounds like a bunch of amped-up 20-year olds gleefully bashing away in a garage for nothing more than the sheer joy of plugging in, turning it up all the way and rocking out." "The Latest is vintage Cheap Trick - power pop delivered with humor, bravado and confidence, the guitars roaring, Robin Zander's voice high in flight," states The Wall Street Journal

Cheap Trick formed in the city of Rockford, IL, in 1974. The band has sold over 20 million albums and had numerous hits including "Surrender," "I Want You to Want Me" and "Dream Police." Cheap Trick features the original line-up of Robin Zander - vocals and guitar, Rick Nielsen - guitar and backing vocals, Bun E. Carlos - drums and backing vocals and Tom Petersson - bass and backing vocals.


Harvey Danger Calling It Quits

After 15 years as a semi-successful band, Seattle-based quintet Harvey Danger has decided to play a few final shows and disband. It’s kinda like going on vacation with your significant other before you bust up. The Danger is best known for its highly infectious 1998 mega-hit “Flagpole Sitta” with the abrasive chorus: “I’m not sick, but I’m not well/And I’m so hot cause I’m in hell/ I’m not sick, but I’m not well/And it’s a sin, to live so well.” Even though that song has been milked to death, the band actually has three albums of solid (albeit less commercial) material worth checking out.

A statement on the band’s website reads: “After 15 years, three albums, hundreds of shows, and far more twists and turns than we ever imagined possible, we’ve decided to put Harvey Danger to rest. The decision is totally mutual and utterly amicable. Everyone is very proud of the work we’ve done together, but we’ve also come to feel that our collaboration has — in a very positive way — run its course. We’re all eager to try our hands at other projects, musical and otherwise…Being in this band has been a long, rewarding experience, and without you, it would probably just have been long. We hope that the relatively small body of work we’ve left behind (a bit more than the Sex Pistols, a tad less than Prince) continues to find a place in people’s music libraries.”


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