Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary Loses Her Fight With Cancer

Written By Robert Benson

Folk music legend Mary Travers passed away on September 16, 2009 from complications related to leukemia. She was 72. Along with her singing partners Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, the trio were perhaps the most influential folk music trio in American history and together they performed some of the most enduring folk anthems of the 1960s. In fact, the group's first album came out in 1962 and immediately scored hits with their versions of "If I Had a Hammer" and "Lemon Tree," a song which won them Grammys for best folk recording and best performance by a vocal group.

Mary Travers was born in Louisville, Kentucky and in 1938 the family moved to Greenwich Village in New York City, New York. She attended the Little Red School House in New York City, but left in the eleventh grade to pursue her singing career. While in high school, she joined the Song Swappers, a folk group that sang backup for folk icon Pete Seeger. The folk group, Peter, Paul and Mary, began with Mary and “the boys,” as she called them, in Noel Paul’s East Village apartment singing “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” After seven months of rehearsals, the group Peter, Paul and Mary made their debut in 1961 and the aforementioned self-titled debut album made them stars.

In 1963, the group famously performed Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “If I Had a Hammer” at the March on Washington, the latter appearing on their second LP Moving, which also boasted Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and the playful cut “Puff (The Magic Dragon).”

The trio's third album, In the Wind, featured three songs by the 22-year-old Bob Dylan. “Don't Think Twice, It's All Right” and “Blowin' in the Wind” reached the top 10, bringing Dylan's material to a massive audience with “Blowin’ In The Wind” shipping more than 300,000 copies during one two-week period. At one point in 1963, three of their albums were in the top six Billboard best-selling LPs as they became the biggest stars of the folk revival movement.

Peter, Paul and Mary became famous for their ability to convey powerful personal and political messages through a repertoire of songs and impeccable harmonies that became, for millions of Americans, an introduction to political awareness and activism in the movements born in the 60’s; movements for freedom, justice and social equity. With her stoic, yet playful stature, and her long, flowing blonde hair and signature bangs, and her arresting and passionate vocal delivery, Mary Travers became an irresistible force in Peter, Paul and Mary’s performances and legacy.

They sang together over a span of almost 50 years during their career. Together, they won five Grammy Awards, produced thirteen Top 40 hits, six of them reaching into the Top 10 - as well as eight gold and five platinum records. The trio split up to work on solo projects in 1970, and Travers released five albums between 1971 and 1978. The group re-formed in 1978, toured extensively and issued many new albums. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

Both Yarrow and Stookey released statements about the passing of their singing partner and friend:

Statement by Peter Yarrow:

“Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of my relationship with Mary Travers over the last, almost, 50 years, is how open and honest we were with each other, and I include Noel Paul Stookey in this equation. Such honesty comes with a price, but when you get past the hurt and shock of realizing that you're faulted and frequently wrong, you also realize that you are really loved and respected for who you are, and you become a better person. The trio's growth, our creativity, our ability to emerge over the years completely accepting of one another, warts and all, was a miracle. This gift existed, I believe, because of the music itself, which elicited from each of us the best of who we were. When we performed together, we gave our best to each other and to the audiences who came to hear us.”

“I have no idea what it will be like to have no Mary in my world, in my life, or on stage to sing with. But I do know there will always be a hole in my heart, a place where she will always exist that will never be filled by any other person. However painful her passing is, I am forever grateful for Mary and her place in my life.”

Statement by Noel Paul Stookey:

"as a partner...she could be vexing and vulnerable in the same breath. as a friend she shared her concerns freely and without reservation. as an activist, she was brave, outspoken and inspiring - especially in her defense of the defenseless. and, as a performer, her charisma was a barely contained nervous energy - occasionally (and then only privately) revealed as stage fright.”

"i am deadened and heartsick beyond words to consider a life without mary travers and honored beyond my wildest dreams to have shared her spirit and her career."

On a personal note, I took my parents to see Peter, Paul and Mary perform at the State Fair in Wisconsin in the late 80’s. I remember it vividly, it was a cool August day and it had rained all day and continued to rain as we found our seats. As we were being seated, I saw Mary Travers in the crowd and I got close enough to brush by her, I remember how elated she was to see so many people brave the elements to hear them sing. She alluded to that as she and her partners put on a show for the ages. Her face lit up with glee with every spot on note she delivered. I will miss her, as millions of other fans will as well.

Classic Album Cover Art - Van Halen Balance

Van Halen: 'Balance' "Balance" was the tenth studio album by the hard rock band Van Halen. It was released in 1995 and, to date, is the final Van Halen album featuring lead singer Sammy Hagar.

Van Halen is a hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California in 1972. They enjoyed success from the release of their self titled debut album in 1978. As of 2007 Van Halen has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide and have had the most number one hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. During the 1980's they also had more Billboard Hot 100 hits than any other hard rock, heavy metal band of the decade. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Van Halen is the 19th best selling band/artist of all time with sales of over 56 million albums in the USA and is one of five rock bands that have had two albums sell more than 10 million copies in the USA.

The cover was the brainchild of American photographer Glen Wexler whose first album cover commission was to photograph The Brothers Johnson (“Blam!” 1978), for Quincy Jones Productions and A&M Records. It was censored in Japan.

Other album cover projects include, Van Halen, “Balance”, Black Sabbath, “Reunion”, Rush “Hold Your Fire”, ZZ Top, “Greatest Hits”, Missing Persons “Spring Session M”, Slaughter's “Stick It to Ya”, and Chaka Kahn, “Naughty”. Wexler also created images for Michael Jackson, KISS, Yes, Kansas, Whitesnake, Black Crows, Boston, Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, Bob Weir, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and many others.


Wexler created a fantasy album cover for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum exhibition “The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were,” which toured nationally 2003-2006. Wexler was invited to lecture about album cover work at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum along with designer John Van Hamersveld in June 2003.

In the fall of 2006, Wexler’s album cover artwork was featured at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' (NARAS) “The Art Of Music” event in Los Angeles.

The instrumental "Strung Out" was actually recorded in 1983, prior to the recording of 1984. The actual recording is Eddie "playing" the strings of a Grand Piano with various objects including ping pong balls, D-cell batteries, knives and forks.

Rock/Pop Tidbits

When Alice Cooper and his band mates auditioned for musician Frank Zappa, he put his hands over his ears and screamed: “Alright, alright I’ll sign you! I’ll sign you! Just stop playing!” He wanted the band to become a comedy act called Alice’s Cookies.

Alice Cooper’s band invited a prospective manager to attend on of their gigs and soon after the group started playing, the crowd of more than 3,000 people got up and left. This actually impressed the manager, he stated, “Do you know how hard it is to get three thousand people to do anything all at once!”

David Bowie proposed to his first wife Angie with the words: “Can you handle the fact that I don’t love you?”

Rocker John Mellencamp was born with spina bifida, a potentially crippling neural tube defect that required surgery and a lengthy hospitalization.

Despite having a long list of hit records to her credit, there were two more that Cher could have had. In 1973 she was offered "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia,” but turned it down. Vicki Lawrence took it to number one. She also had first crack at "Angie Baby" in 1974, but again felt it wasn't her kind of song. Helen Reddy's version would top the US chart.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock had a 1967, number one hit with "Incense and Peppermints.” As a part of their live act, drummer Randy Seol played the bongos with his hands on fire.

Apparently playing guitar for Fleetwood Mac drove musicians crazy. Guitarist Peter Green would cry while watching the TV news, wore white robes onstage and fought very hard to give all the band’s money away to charity. In fact, when the band’s manager tried to present Green with a royalty check, Green attached him with an air rifle and was sent away to a mental hospital.

Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer was a bit eccentric. He traveled with a tiny bible sewn into the lining of his coat and he filled condoms with milk and would hang them from the pegs of his guitar. In Hawaii, he left the hotel where they were staying, stating: “I’ll be right back.” However, he changed his name to Jonathan and joined a religious cult known as the “Children of God.”

In 1972, Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan got so stressed out that five minutes before a gig, he vanished into a bathroom, bashed his head against the all, smashed his guitar, and stated: “I’m not going on.” He wound up watching the gig from the soundboard and was later admitted to a mental institution.

Before Neil Young joined Crosby, Stills and Nash, the original trio had already asked George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood to become the fourth member of their group.

Paul Simon took the title of his song "Mother and Child Reunion" from the name of a chicken-and-egg dish he saw on a Chinese restaurant's menu.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch nails really disliked Axl Rose. According to Reznor, the Guns N’ Roses front man was surrounded by people who said things like: “Yes, Mr. Rose, that does smell good, can I flush it for you?”

If you listen carefully to Marvin Gaye's 1971 smash "What's Going On,” you can hear former Detroit Lions Mel Farr and Lem Barney talking and singing in the background.

During the recording of Ted Nugent's 1976 album "Free For All,” singer/guitarist Derek St. Holmes left the band for personal reasons. A singer named Marvin Aday, who would one day be known as Meat Loaf, replaced him on five songs.

After Nino Tempo and April Stevens hastily recorded a song called "Deep Purple", the master tape was sent to Atlantic Records producer Ahmet Ertegun, who said that the effort was not only embarrassing, but the worst thing Nino and April had ever done. After some pressure from Nino, Ertegun gave in and released the song as a single. It quickly soared to #1 on the Billboard Pop chart and enjoyed a twelve week run. The following year it won a Grammy Award for the Best Rock and Roll Recording of 1963.

Although she is mostly remembered for her hit "Stand By Your Man,” country singer Tammy Wynette has been married five times.

In the fall of 1958, Neil Diamond entered New York University on a fencing scholarship.

Brothers Ray and Dave Davies of the Kinks took sibling rivalry to new heights. Dining in a Manhattan establishment in 1971, Dave tried to steal one of Ray’s french fries and was promptly stabbed in the chest with a fork by Ray.

Music News & Notes

Smashing Pumpkins New LP

Billy Corgan posted on the Smashing Pumpkins’ official Website yesterday and revealed that the barely recognizable band has begun work on a massive new 44-song album called "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope." You’d figure it’d be a while between now and when you’ll hear the fruits of the Pumpkins’ labors, but Corgan also revealed on an innovative release plan that’ll allow fans to freely download the songs as the band finishes them.

“My desire is to release a song at a time beginning around Halloween of this year, with each new release coming shortly after until all 44 are out. Each song will be made available absolutely for free, to anyone anywhere. There will be no strings attached,” Corgan writes. “Free will mean free, which means you won’t have to sign up for anything, give an email address, or jump through a hoop. You will be able to go and take the song or songs as you wish, as many times as you wish.”

Corgan knows his audience and fans and he realizes that there are thousands of fans eager to purchase one or all eleven of the limited-edition four song EPs he planned to carve out of Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. When the album is completely finished, all 44 songs will be packed into a single Kaleidyscope box set. For those plotting to skip the EP process and wait for the complete set, Corgan foils that plan by writing “the box set will not be a recompilation of the limited edition pieces.”


Break For Bruce & E Street Band

You may not see Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band touring for at least one to two years once their current shows are done in November. Not that anyone could really deny them the chance to rest a bit after this marathon run of performances over the last couple of years.

Steven Van Zandt, guitarist for the band, told reporters "We are going to take a break. I don't know how long, one year, year-and-a-half, two years off. This is a good time to see us. We may not be as pretty, [but] we seem to be getting better in funny ways.

"You never know. This could be be the last tour. We do every show like it's our last show anyway."

The group has been touring on a regular basis since the rehearsals started for the Magic tour back in September of 2007. Since then, they've played every month except for January and February 2008 and September 2008 to late-March 2009 when they started the Working on a Dream rehearsals and tour. There are still 31 shows left in the current run.


Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Announces Full Lineups
For 25th Anniversary Shows

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have announced the full lineups for their 25th Anniversary shows, to be held on October 29 and 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

A previous announcement was made with the main performers while Wednesday added the special guests that will join the others for special collaborations.

October 29

•Main Performers
•Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band
•Stevie Wonder
•Simon & Garfunkel
•Paul Simon
•Crosby, Stills, Nash & Friends
•Special Guests
•Jackson Browne
•James Taylor
•Smokey Robinson
•Bonnie Raitt
•Little Richard

October 30
•Main Performers
•Aretha Franklin
•Eric Clapton
•Special Guests
•Jeff Beck
•Van Morrison
•Jerry Lee Lewis


Pavement Confirm Plans To Reform For 2010 World Tour

Alternative giant Pavement has confirmed that they are to reform in 2010 for a series of shows around the world.

The band, who have been widely rumoured to get back together, will consist of Mark Ibold, Scott Kannberg, Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Steve West.

Their first confirmed show will take place at Rumsey Playfield in New York's Central Park on September 21, 2010.

Pavement, who formed in 1989, developed a significant cult following following the release of their 1992 debut 'Slanted and Enchanted'.

The group played their last gig together at Brixton Academy in London in November 1999.

In a statement, their record label Domino said “the band would like it to be known that the tour does not constitute a full on permanent reformation”.

This Date in Music History-September 17


Guitar legend B.B. King (1925)

Lamonte McLemore - 5th Dimension (1939)

Lol Creme - 10cc (1947)

Kenney Jones – Faces/Who (1948)

Fee Waybill - The Tubes (1950)

Rapper Doug E. Fresh (1966)

John Penney - Neds Atomic Dustbin (1968)

Keith Flint – Prodigy (1969)

Vinnie - Naughty By Nature (1970)

Anastacia (1973)

Flo Rida (1979)

Jonathan Jacob Walker - Panic at the Disco (1985)

They Are Missed:

Marc Bolan of T. Rex died in 1977 at the age of 29.

Born on this day in 1947, Jim Hodder, drums, Steely Dan. Hodder drowned at his home swimming pool on June 5, 1990.

The late Bill Black (bass player for Elvis Presley) was born in 1926.

Born today in 1923 Hank Williams, one of the biggest country stars ever. He scored 36 Top 10 Country hits including, “Your Cheating Heart” and “Hey Good Lookin.” Williams died in the backseat of a Cadillac on January 1, 1953 on the way to a gig.

Born in 1933, Jeanine Deckers, The Singing Nun, (1963 US #1 & UK #7 single “Dominique”). Deckers died on March 29, 1985 of an overdose of sleeping pills in a suicide pact with a friend.

Rob Tyner lead singer with the American hard rock band MC5 died in 1991 after he suffered a heart attack in the seat of his parked car in his hometown of Berkley, Michigan. MC5, (shortened from the Motor City Five), formed in Detroit, in 1965, they released their first album, ‘Kick Out the Jams’ in 1969.

In 1999, English singer Frankie Vaughan died of heart failure (age 71). During the 1950's he scored twenty UK Top 30 singles including the UK #2 “Green Door.” He was awarded an OBE in 1965 and a CBE in 1996.


In 1931, the first 33 1/3 record players were launched by RCA victor at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York.

"Tennessee" Ernie Ford recorded "16 Tons" in 1955.

In 1955, Capitol Records released "Magic Melody, Part Two.” The song consisted only of the last two notes of the musical phrase, "Shave and a haircut, two bits." It was the shortest song to ever to be released.

"She Loves You" backed by "I'll Get You" by the Beatles was released by Swan Records in the US in 1963. However, "She Loves You" doesn't do anything until 1964 when it finally goes to #1.

In 1964, during a US tour, the Beatles appeared at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The Beatles were paid $150,000 for the show, which was more than any other act had ever been paid for a live show. Tickets cost $4.50.

"Shindig!" premiered on ABC-TV in 1964. It was inspired by the success of British Invasion groups on "The Ed Sullivan Show." The show featured both British and American performers plus a cast of go-go dancers and a house band. Within a few months NBC has an imitation, "Hullabaloo."

In 1967, the Doors were banned from The Ed Sullivan Show after Jim Morrison broke his agreement with the show’s producers. Morrison said before the performance that he wouldn’t sing the words, “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher,” from 'Light My Fire' but did anyway. The Doors also performed their new single “People Are Strange.”

Also in 1967, on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, in one of the greatest rock TV moments ever, Keith Moon rigged his drum set to explode at the end of the Who's performance of "My Generation." The resulting detonation cuts Moon's leg, singes Pete Townshend's hair, and does some serious damage to his hearing.

Jimi Hendrix' debut LP, “Are You Experienced?” entered the album charts in 1967.

Also in 1970, Hendrix made his final public appearance, jamming with Eric Burdon and War at Ronnie Scott's club in London.

In 1969, media on both sides of the Atlantic were running stories that said Paul McCartney was dead. He was supposedly killed in a car accident in Scotland on November 9th, 1966 and that a double had been taking his place for public appearances. In fact, Paul and his girlfriend Jane Asher were on vacation in Kenya at the time.

Billy Joel began recording "Piano Man" in 1973.

In 1978, the Grateful Dead play a concert before the pyramids of Egypt. The concert was recorded, but has yet to be released on record.

In 1979, Rap makes it onto vinyl with the release of the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight." Sylvia Robinson (formerly of Mickey & Sylvia) formed the company to produce rap records despite industry warnings that rap had no commercial appeal. "Rappers Delight" was recorded over the instrumental break from Chic's "Good Times." The single becomes a disco smash, selling over two million copies in the US.

In 1991, Guns ‘N’ Roses released “Use Your Illusion I & II” at midnight. It’s either two single albums or a double album that can be bought separately. Their label shipped 4.2 million copies (the largest shipment to date).

In 1996, a bomb was found at a South London sorting office addressed to Icelandic singer Bjork. Police in Miami had alerted the post office after finding the body of Ricardo Lopez who had made a video of himself making the bomb and then killing himself.

Eminem had a $10 million lawsuit filed against him in 1999. The suit, brought by his mother, claimed that he had made defamatory remarks in several interviews.

Kelly Clarkson's first single "Before Your Love/A Moment Like This" was released in 2002.

Moving more than 490,000 copies in less than a week in 2008, Metallica's "Death Magnetic" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. Metallica is the first band ever to have five albums debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 (U2, The Beatles and Dave Matthews Band each have four).