On Friday November 17 the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia honored outstanding members of the broadcast industry by inducting them into their Hall of Fame. It was a night of smiles and memories that all who attended will cherish for years to come.
Those who were inducted included those with a wide range of broadcasting skills. Each making a huge contribution with their abilities and hard work
Terry Belford started his 50 years in television while he was just in his second year of high school in Texas. After working at a couple of TV stations in Texas where he was trained in camera lighting, audio and productions he got further experience through his tour of duty in the Army in a special video unit.
Tina Turner was the Acid Queen”. That role was just made for her. It would almost seem that Pete Townshend had her in mind when he created the character for the rock opera “Tommy”.
The queen left her mark before giving up her throne. Tina put the “sexy” in Rock and Roll. Her stage performance was explosive. Her legendary moves and dancing during the Ike & Tina concerts drove the audience wild.
On May 11 John DeBella made the announcement that “this big dumb show” was coming to a screeching halt on June 30, 2023. That day Philadelphia will lose one of the true legends of the airwaves. John DeBella made the retirement announcement on his daily show and wrote an open letter to the many listeners to WMGK.
The changes in both Folk and Rock music in the 60’s was in large part due to David Crosby’s talents. This two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer was uncanny in his ability to bring out the best in whomever he sang with his ability to harmonize.
It all began with the group who were the real pioneers in what was labeled “Folk Rock” in the mid 60’s. The Byrds sounded like nothing else that anyone had ever heard. Their interpretations of Bob Dylan’s music started a whole revolution in music.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
• 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
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.
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.
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.