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Christine McVie was Perfect Featured

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Her name at birth was Christine Anne Perfect. The world would come to know her as Christine McVie, a member of one of the most popular bands in the history of music.

With a father who taught violin and a grandfather who was the organist at Westminster Abby, it almost seemed the Christine was born to make music. Her long journey to fame began in earnest when she was 11 years old and started studying music.

Like so many of her peer musicians, Christine went to college to study art and not music. But it was in her blood. Soon she was performing with a local band called Sounds of Blue. That group didn’t last long, but she along with two other members of the Sound of Blue formed a new band called Chicken Shack.

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The man known for his energic, wild stage show, Jerry Lee Lewis, has succumbed to his failing health at age 87. He left behind a legend of other Rock stars who followed in his footsteps.

The influence Lewis had was far reaching. Talk to any classic Rock Performer and they will almost always include the name of Jerry Lee Lewis among those who influenced them the most.

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“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is one of Billy Joel’s most popular songs. The inspiration for the epic saga of Brenda and Eddie is said to have been a real Italian Restaurant. Having dined at the eatery that apparently was the catalyst, it is hard to imagine how it sparked any ideas. Certainly nothing fancy about it. It is just like so many other such places that serve the traditional Italian favorites. Perhaps that is exactly why.

The lengthy story telling song is a favorite for several reasons, but the tale of the high school sweethearts certainly is relatable. Everyone can relate to the main characters Brenda and Eddie. Every high school has a couple that were on top of the popularity totem pole. Sometimes they do get married and live happily after. Often that is not the case.

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Recently I was asked to be part of a panel that was commissioned to talk about 100 years of Philadelphia radio for Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia lunch. Since none of us on the panel were even born when radio started (my father wasn’t even born yet), we concentrated on a more recent past history.

At one time radio was not only the number one source of entertainment in Philadelphia and elsewhere, but it was also the only real one that was in just about everyone’s home. The radio stations had a variety of music, sports and regular shows that featured comedy, mystery, and adventure stories. These shows all required the person listening to, not only paying attention to, but also to use their imagination.

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It seems like every year the stores and many radio stations start playing wall to wall Christmas music earlier every year. The merchants want you to get into the Christmas spirit and buy gifts. The radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music have great ratings so there’s very strong evidence that people want to hear the holiday music.

The major problem with playing Christmas music all the time is that there’s a lack of traditional songs so you keep hearing the same songs being done by different artists. If you are tired of hearing those same Christmas songs over and over, then perhaps you’d like to make your own list (checking it twice) and create your own soundtrack for the holidays.

In my article about the Cheech & Chong Christmas effort called “Santa Claus and his Old Lady” I listed some songs. Listed below is a more complete list of my favorites that are non-traditional. They are not listed in any particular order.

“Happy Xmas (War is over)” John & Yoko

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Are you ready? Cue the trumpets for a fanfare. Rolling Stone Magazine has announced their new list of the top 500 songs of all time. Like nominations to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there are bound to be many lively discussions about who and what made the list.

Almost everyone will find fault with the list in some fashion, but let’s take a little closer look anyway. One might very well say, I wouldn’t not have picked these songs. However, it has been 17 years since the last time Rolling Stone took a survey of a cross section of writers and musicians (including some Classic Rock stars) to compile their list. There’s no way you would have made the same selections this year as you would have made back then. There are bound to be a lot of changes.

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The other day a headline “Why do Old People Hate New Music?” for a story in Psychology Today caught my eye. With a headline like that, the story had to be read.

The premise of the story was that older people often turn up their noses at new music because they think it is nothing but noise or it all sounds the same. The article went on to present evidence that our brains lose the ability to accept new music because as we age the part of the brain than enables us to make the subtle distinctions between different chords, rhythms and melodies starts to fail. This gives us the impression that all new music sounds alike.

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Back in the 50’s the Philadelphia based group Danny and The Juniors had a hit record with their song called “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay”. At the time, Rock and Roll was considered a fad and only music for teens. It was their soundtrack for their years to rebel against the establishment as well as their parents.

The establishment fought back. Preachers called for the burning of the devil’s music records. Mayors of many cities banned having Rock and Roll concerts. Predictably, instead killing of the music, it only added fuel to the passion of the young music lovers.

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Performer Category - honoring bands and solo artists who, in their careers, have created music whose originality, impact and influence has changed the course of rock 'n' roll:

• Jay-Z
• Carole King
• Todd Rundgren
• Tina Turner
• Foo Fighters -- Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear
• The Go-Go’s -- Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin

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Seeing Eric Andersen for the first time at the famed Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA, was a very special night. The acoustic set was a quietly moving performance from the poetic singer and songwriter. The lyrics seemed very personal and yet very universal.

Meeting him after his performance in the basement of the Main Point (that also served as a dressing room) was the first if many conversations we would have over the years. Our talks were always very interesting and surprisingly candid.

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The name Roy Harper doesn’t mean very much to the average Rock fan in the US. This is despite the fact that the English Folk Rock singer songwriter has released 32 albums to date. Such stars like Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Pete Townshend , Kate Bush, the members of Pink Floyd and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull are among his biggest fans. Even more recent acts like Kate Bush and Fleet Foxes cite his song writing as a big influence.

So how is it that so many people have no idea who Roy Harper is? Perhaps one reason is his songs are often very complex in both musical and lyrical structure. He has always stayed true to his own way of doing things which often meant writing songs that the average person didn’t understand or could hum along to as they walked down the street.

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Trout Mask cover

Despite many very impressive reviews, TROUT MASK RELPICA by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, sold very poorly when it was released. Over time it has become widely acclaimed as a work of genius and one of the most influential albums of the entire Rock era. The songs were all written by Beefheart, arranged by drummer John “Drumbo” French and produced by Frank Zappa.

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If you were to do a poll of Rock stars asking them to pick the best Sax player in the history of the genre, at or near the top would be Bobby keys. Since he was rarely in the spotlight, many fans of his playing don’t even know his name.

Robert Henry Keys was born on the Lubbock U S Army Airfield in Texas. His father served in the U S Army Air Corps.

After his father moved on, Bobby stayed in Lubbock. At a very early age he discovered the legendary Sax player King Curtis. Unlike other Sax players, Curtis wasn’t just a Jazz man. King Curtis played the same way that guitar players did and fit right into Rock and Roll.

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