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This guy was walking towards me wearing a T shirt sporting the name of the long defunct Tower Records. Ordinarily I don’t approach strangers with questions about their attire, but since a large portion of my huge CD and record collection (many, many thousands) was purchased at Tower Records I had to ask: “Where did you get that t-shirt?”

The answer was half expected. I had only ever seen these shirts on employees of Tower Records. Indeed, he had worked for Tower Records from 1977 until 1984 in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. During that time he served in several capacities including ordering, stocking merchandizing and selling records. Additionally his management responsibilities extended to management and activities coordination for store employees. If that weren’t enough, he did trouble shooting, bookkeeping, as well as research and public relations. Such were long days at Tower records.

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It started with a phone call from Steve Popovich. Steve wanted to know if it was alright for him to bring a sample of his new project to my office so he could get my opinion. Whenever Steve asked for an appointment for you to hear a new record, you were hard pressed to say no.

He was one of the top record promotors in the country. In an almost Hollywood movie style career, he started out in the Columbia Records warehouse checking inventory in 1962. Within ten years Clive Davis made him the youngest vice president of promotions at Columbia Records. As such, he helped to launch the careers of countless stars. A small sample of those he promoted were: Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Earth, Wind & Fire, Santana, Janis Joplin, Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel, and Boz Scaggs. Later he moved over to a sub label of Columbia, Epic Records, and helped launch the careers of: Boston, Cheap Trick and Jaco Pastorious.

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There were many forms of music that made an impact on the Classic Rockers. The rivers of rock flowed with bits of country that had its origin in the traditional music of the British Isles. European Classical music had a smaller tributary, but was still a big influence. The main source feeding the river came from the musical cousins, Jazz and Blues. Of the two, Blues was by far the biggest source.

Just ask any classic rocker what had the biggest impact on their music and you will get Blues as an answer more often than not. Listen to groups like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Cream, The Allman Brothers, Ten Years After and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, etc. and you can hear the Blues just jump out at you. There are several other bands — The Beatles, The Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Who or Chicago — where it may not be so easily to sort out the Blues in their music... but it is there.

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If nothing else, John Mayall will be remembered for being one of the best talent scouts in Rock history. John Mayall’s life would make for an interesting story for another day.

For now, here’s the short list of some of the great players that played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers: Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Jon Mark, Johnny Almond (these two had as successful a career as Mark Almond), Harvey Mandell, Larry Taylor (both still part of Canned Heat), Mick Taylor, Aynsley Dunbar (who went on to form his own band before joining Frank Zappa and then Journey) and Andy Fraser (Free).

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Another in a series of 45 RPM stories.

There was a major cloud hanging over The Rolling Stones as they prepared to record SOME GIRLS their first studio album in two years in 1978. In February of the previous year Keith Richards was arrested on some serious drug charges in Canada. There was more than a good chance he would have to do some jail time.

Richards reacted by writing a song that was originally entitled “Rotten Roll”. Part of the inspiration for the song was the death of Gram Parsons. In his autobiography Keith wrote a great deal about Gram and his influence on The rolling Stones during their so-called “Country Rock” period. The two influenced each other. Gram did a great cover of the song “Wild Horses”. In 1973 Parsons died of a drug overdose. It is thought that Keith had his death in mind when he wrote the first verse of the song. “Another goodbye another good friend” is a line that stands out.

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You can’t imagine how surprised I was that day. While walking home from school I saw a man coming up Vine Street towards Washington Avenue that I recognized right away. Since I was going in the opposite direction, Carl Perkins was walking right past me. He was the very first rock star that I ever saw. I let him pass without saying a word. I had no idea what he was doing walking the streets of Scranton, PA.

I did know that he had a huge hit with one of the best Rock ‘n’ Roll records of all time. “Blue Suede Shoes” was such a big hit that it went to at least top two in all the charts at the same time. It could very well be the only song to top the pop, R & B and Country charts at the same time!

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Recently the yearly Rock ‘n’ Roll show that is part of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia lunch was held at the Bala Golf Club. The performances featured Philadelphia stars from the past. While all the acts were still in pretty good form, one act stood out. It wasn’t just that they musically entertaining, but unlike the other Philly acts, they were originally from Los Angeles. The Rip Chords made their mark in R & R history by playing beach and hot rod music with five chart hits like “Hey Little Cobra”. 

The original group broke up back in 1965. This new incarnation has been around since the 90’s and while it features two of the members (including Richie Rotkin) from the 60’s, it primarily a new and younger group. Their music is still a throwback to the days of hot rods and beach parties. It was a time when groups like Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys gave the rest of America the Hollywood version of what it was like living on the beaches of California. Check out The Rip Chords official website. http://www.theripchords.net/.

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Every Spring there’s new life and energy. Nowhere is there more a feeling of hope and optimism than in baseball. Every team starts out on their long season with a 0-0 record. Of course by May many of the teams are already pretty much out of contention, but there are no thoughts of that on opening day.

This year, the expectations of Phillies fans are the highest they have been in a very long time. They are pumped because some of the young players who are starting to produce will be joined by some outstanding new veteran newcomers.  But can they sing?

In Philadelphia Phillies Fever was running high in 1975. A very young team had posted a 80-82 record the year before and they were looking to move up from their third place finish. The heart of that team was Dave “yes we can” Cash, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Gary Maddox and Greg Luzinski. They went on to post a second place finish with a 86 -76 record in ’75.

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The births of Jazz and Rock ran along similar but different paths. They both were born and raised in the South. They both have an element of the Blues and African influences. Passion and rhythm run deep in both genres.

Structurally, however, they are far from the same. The accents and rhythms are different in both. While both use the bass and drums as the heartbeat, Jazz uses different time signatures. Traditionally Jazz puts horns or the piano in the lead while Rock uses the guitar primarily and occasionally the horn or piano as the lead instrument.

So how is it that so many rockers, especially in the 60’s and 70’s were so influenced by Jazz? Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Duane Allman were all guitarist who loved Jazz. Their instrument, the guitar, was largely a background or rhythm instrument for many years. There were very few exceptions like Django Reinhardt in the 30’s.

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The huge success of the Miles Davis’s BITCH’S BREW led the way for a number of fusion bands like Weather Report and Return to Forever to become very popular in the 70’s. It was some of the most exciting and imaginative music ever. Seeing these groups live was nothing short of spectacular! It wasn’t just their playing abilities, it was the way they blended together. It seemed as though they had some sort of ESP sense of what the rest of the band was doing even when they were improvising. These bands were very tight.

It also was no accident that several members of these and other Fusion groups contained several members who had also played with Miles Davis. Among those who played with Miles during his Jazz Fusion period were: John McLaughlin and John Schofield (Guitar), Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul (keyboards). Wayne Shorter (sax), Airto Moreira, Tony Williams and Billy Cobham (Drums).

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As a supplement to parts One and Two of my Jazz Rock Series, this is a list of essential records that fit within the realm. They are listed in random order.

Pierre Moerlen’s Gong — EXPRESSO II
While almost anything by Gong is worthwhile, EXPRESSO II stands out. It features outstanding personal that included Mick Taylor (ex Stone’s guitarist), Pierre on drums and vibes, Allan Holdsworth (played with Tony Williams Lifetime, Soft Machine & Jean-Luc Ponty), and Darryl Way (Curved Air)

Jimi Hendrix — ELETRIC LADYLAND

Miles Davis — BITCH’S BREW, IN A SILENT WAY, ON THE CORNER, PANTHALASSIA
A mix of Miles from 1969-74 as re-mixed by a great producer Bill Laswell.

Stan Getz — CAPTAIN MARVEL
While Getz is better known for his softer Sax sound as heard on the Jazz Samba LP that went to number one, he really shows a different style here. Backing him up are Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira and Tony Williams.

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On February 28, 2017 WMGK finished a month long music feature where the top selling Classic Rock albums of all time were played in the order of sales from 20 to 1 on vinyl. It had been a long time since I brought albums from home to play on the air. It was a strange, but good feeling.

The number one selling record was THE EAGLES GREATEST HITS 1971-1975. That may have surprised a number of people who thought for sure The Beatles or Led Zeppelin would take the top spot. The Eagles sold a lot of this album with an impressive line- up of hits, but was hardly a complete list. Two of their biggest hits were released after their greatest hit album of 1975. These hits were part of the number 12 album on the countdown HOTEL CALIFORNIA. That LP wasn’t released until 1976.

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No matter what your vocation is, there’s always someone in that business that you learn from and look up to as you launch your career. For me there was more than one, but the DJ who had THE MOST influence on me was Dick Summer. In my book “Confessions of a Teenage Disc Jockey” I relate how much his all night radio show on WBZ in Boston was such a major reason for me to decide to get into radio. I was convinced that radio was not only something that I wanted to do, but could do by learning from his delivery.

Unlike almost all the DJs of the 50’s and early to late 60’s, Dick Summer was not a screamer. He was rather conversational on the air even though he was on a top forty station. He just talked to his audience-especially if you sent him an interesting letter. Often Dick would have silly bits on the air-like his campaign to get the name of a sandwich to a Shewsbury. The reason (as he explained on the air several times) was because the Earl of Sandwich stole the idea for making a sandwich from the Earl of Shewsbury. This and other pressing issues of the day were discussed at length.

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