Few bands did more than Nickelback to establish the force of slick, commercially minded post-grunge in the 2000s. Led by vocalist Chad Kroeger, the band initially emerged in the late '90s as Canada's answer to Creed, prizing a blend of gruff vocals and distorted (yet radio-friendly) guitars. After a handful of singles failed to gain much traction in Canada, "How You Remind Me" caught hold in 2001, eventually topping the charts in several countries while gathering four Grammy nominations and four Juno Awards. Creed imploded several years later, but Nickelback's popularity only grew as the decade progressed, effectively eclipsing those acts that had once informed the band's sound.
Chad Kroeger honed his frontman skills by performing with cover bands in Hanna, a small Canadian town 215 kilometers northeast of Calgary. After growing tired of playing other people's songs, he borrowed money from his stepfather and relocated to Vancouver, where he recorded his first batch of original material. Mike Kroeger, Chad's bass-playing sibling, decided to join his brother's band, as did fellow Vancouver transplants Ryan Peake (a guitarist who had befriended the Kroegers in middle school) and Ryan Vikedal (a drummer from Peake's hometown of Brooks, Alberta). Nickelback officially took shape in 1996 and quickly set to work, releasing two albums -- the Hesher EP and full-length album, Curb -- before the year was up. By 1998, the bandmates were managing themselves; Chad courted radio stations, brother Mike Kroeger handled distribution, Ryan Vikedal booked shows, and Peake maintained the band's website.
January 2000 saw the arrival of The State, Nickelback's second independent release. Issued at a time in which Canadian content requirements were increased (and, accordingly, local radio stations had begun to desperately seek out homegrown product), the album fared very well on indie charts. Nickelback toured ceaselessly in support of The State, logging approximately 200 shows while playing alongside other groups of the burgeoning post-grunge genre. Nickelback's commercial appeal wasn't lost on the record industry, either, and The State's distribution rights were quickly snapped up by Roadrunner Records in the U.S. and EMI in Canada. As the band continued to tour, Chad Kroeger kept writing new songs, many of which were honed in front of live audiences.
Much of that material found its way onto Silver Side Up, which was produced by Rick Parashar (who came to prominence in the early '90s by helming Pearl Jam's Ten, Alice in Chains' Sap, and Blind Melon's self-titled debut) and recorded at Green House, the same Vancouver studio used during The State's creation. The combination of Nickelback's growing popularity and Kroeger's focused songwriting propelled Silver Side Up onto album charts across the world, spearheaded by the hit single "How You Remind Me." Kroeger capitalized on that exposure by producing another Vancouver-based band, Default, and collaborating with Saliva's Josey Scott for the Spiderman soundtrack. The Long Road then arrived in 2003, featuring an increasingly polished sound and another high-charting single, "Someday." While some listeners criticized the apparent similarities between "Someday" and "How You Remind Me," The Long Road had little trouble maintaining Nickelback's wide audience, eventually selling over five million copies worldwide.
In February 2005, Nickelback announced the departure of Ryan Vikedal. He was soon replaced by 3 Doors Down's former drummer, Daniel Adair, and Nickelback returned to Kroeger's studio in Vancouver to begin work on another album. ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Pantera's Dimebag Darrell (who unfortunately died before the album's release) were guests on the chart-topping All the Right Reasons, which arrived in October 2005. The album proved to be Nickelback's most popular effort to date, remaining in the Billboard Top 30 for over two years and selling over 7 million copies in the U.S. alone. It also spawned five Top 20 singles, a feat that attracted the attention of veteran producer (and demonstrated hit-maker) Mutt Lange. Nickelback traveled to Lange's home in Switzerland to share songwriting ideas; impressed with the results, they also enlisted him to helm their next album. Recorded in a converted Vancouver barn, Dark Horse marked the band's sixth studio album upon its release in November 2008. ~ All Music Guide
For the Record
Members include Chad Kroeger, vocals, guitar; Mike Kroeger, bass; Ryan Peake, guitar; Ryan Vikedal. drums.
Group formed in Vancouver, Canada, early 1990s; released debut EP Hesher on independent label, 1995; followed with full-length independent CD Curb, 1995; released second full-length independent CD, The State, 1999; signed with EMI Music Canada and with the U.S. label Roadrunner Records, 1999; rereleased The State under Roadrunner label, 2000; released Silver Side Up, 2001.
Addresses: Record company Roadrunner Records, 902 Broadway, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10010.
Albums: (all albums produced by Roadrunner)
The State, 1998.
Silver Side Up, 2001.
The Long Road , 2003.
All the Right Reasons, 2005.
Dark Horse, 2008.
Here and Now, 2011.
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Donna Summer's title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn't mere hype -- she was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees. Summer was certainly a talented vocalist, trained as a powerful gospel belter, but then again, so were many of her contemporaries. Of major importance in setting Summer apart were her songwriting abilities and her choice of talented collaborators in producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, which resulted in a steady supply of high-quality (and, often, high-concept) material. But what was more, few vocalists could match the sultry, unfettered eroticism Summer brought to many of her best recordings, which seemed to embody the spirit of the disco era perfectly. The total package made Summer the ultimate disco diva, one of the few whose star power was even bigger than the music.
Summer was born LaDonna Andre Gaines on December 31, 1948, and grew up in Boston's Mission Hill section. Part of a religious family, she first sang in her church's gospel choir, and as a teenager performed with a rock group called the Crow. After high school, she moved to New York to sing and act in stage productions, and soon landed a role in a German production of +Hair. She moved to Europe around 1968-1969, and spent a year in the German cast, after which she became part of the +Hair company in Vienna.
She joined the Viennese Folk Opera, and later returned to Germany, where she settled in Munich and met and married Helmut Sommer, adopting an Anglicized version of his last name. Summer performed in various stage musicals and worked as a studio vocalist in Munich, recording demos and background vocals. Her first solo recording was 1971's "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," but success would not come until 1974, when she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte while working on a Three Dog Night record. The three teamed up for the single "The Hostage," which became a hit around Western Europe, and Summer released her first album, Lady of the Night, in Europe only. In 1975, the trio recorded "Love to Love You Baby," a disco-fied reimagining of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's lush, heavy-breathing opus "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus." Powered by Summer's graphic moans, "Love to Love You Baby" became a massive hit in Europe, and drew the attention of Casablanca Records, which put the track out in America. It climbed to number two on the singles charts, and became a dance-club sensation when Moroder remixed the track into a 17-minute, side-long epic on the LP of the same name.
In the wake of "Love to Love You Baby," albums (as opposed to just singles) became an important forum for Summer and her producers. The 1976 follow-up Love Trilogy contained another side-long suite in "Try Me (I Know We Can Make It Work)," and demonstrated Moroder and Bellotte's growing sophistication as arrangers with its lush, sweeping strings. Four Seasons of Love, released later in the year, was a concept album with one track dedicated to each season, and 1977's I Remember Yesterday featured a variety of genre exercises. Despite the album's title, it produced the most forward-looking single in Summer and Moroder's catalog, the monumental "I Feel Love." Eschewing the strings and typical disco excess, "I Feel Love" was the first major pop hit recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track; its lean, sleek arrangement and driving, hypnotic pulse laid the groundwork not only for countless Euro-dance imitators, but also for the techno revolution of the '80s and '90s. It became Summer's second Top Ten hit in the U.S., and she followed it with Once Upon a Time, another concept album, this one retelling the story of Cinderella for the disco era.
Summer's albums were selling well, bolstered by her popularity in the dance clubs, and she was poised to become a major pop hitmaker as well. Her acting turn in the 1978 disco-themed comedy Thank God It's Friday produced another hit in "Last Dance," which won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal (as well as an Oscar for songwriter Paul Jabara). Doubtlessly benefiting from the added exposure, the double-LP set Live and More became Summer's first number one album later that year. It featured one side of new studio material, including a disco cover of the psychedelic pop epic "MacArthur Park" that became her first number one pop single early the next year. Her 1979 double-LP Bad Girls featured more of her songwriting contributions than ever, and went straight to number one, as did the lusty singles "Bad Girls" and the rock-oriented "Hot Stuff," which made Summer the first female artist ever to score three number one singles in the same calendar year. Her greatest-hits package On the Radio also topped the charts, the first time any artist had ever hit number one with three consecutive double LPs; the newly recorded title track became another hit, and Summer's duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," became her fourth number one single.
At the peak of her success, Summer decided to leave Casablanca, and became the first artist signed to the new Geffen label. Sensing that the disco era was coming to a close, Summer attempted to modify her style to include more R&B and pop/rock on her first Geffen album, 1980's The Wanderer; the album and its title track were both hits. Not wanting to alienate her core audience, Summer returned to pure dance music on an attempted follow-up; however, Geffen deemed I'm a Rainbow not worthy of release (it was finally issued in 1996). Instead, Summer ended her collaboration with Moroder and Bellotte and teamed up with Quincy Jones for 1982's Donna Summer. "Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)" was a significant hit, but none of its follow-ups did very well. With producer Michael Omartian, Summer moved back into post-disco dance music and urban R&B with 1983's She Works Hard for the Money; its title track was a smash and became a feminist anthem of sorts. However, with her career momentum slowing, it also marked the end of Summer's prime. Despite winning a gospel Grammy for "Forgive Me," Summer's 1984 follow-up Cats Without Claws flopped, as did the 1987 comeback effort All Systems Go. Hiring the British production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, Summer scored her last major success with the 1989 Top Ten single "This Time I Know It's for Real," from the album Another Place & Time; around the same time, she began denouncing her earlier, "sinful" disco material. 1991's lackluster, urban-styled Mistaken Identity effectively killed her career momentum, and none of her new '90s albums produced that elusive hit.
However, she did make some noise on the dance charts with "Melody of Love," from the excellent 1994 retrospective Endless Summer, and reunited with Moroder for the 1997 non-LP single "Carry On," which won the inaugural Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Summer subsequently signed a deal with Sony, which primed her for re-establishment with the 1999 greatest-hits live album VH1 Presents: Live and More Encore!; it featured the new song "I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro)," which had some success on the dance charts. The energetic and eclectic Crayons, her first proper studio album since Mistaken Identity, was released on the Burgundy label in 2008. ~ All Music Guide
Lady of the Night, Groovy, 1974.
Love to Love You Baby, Casablanca, 1975.
A Love Trilogy, Casablanca, 1976.
Four Seasons of Love, Casablanca, 1976.
I Remember Yesterday, Casablanca, 1977.
Once Upon a Time, Casablanca, 1977.
Bad Girls, Casablanca, 1979.
The Wanderer, Geffen, 1980.
I'm a Rainbow, Geffen, 1981.
Donna Summer, Geffen, 1982.
She Works Hard for the Money, Mercury, 1983.
Cats Without Claws, Geffen, 1984.
All Systems Go, Geffen, 1987.
Another Place and Time, Atlantic, 1989.
Mistaken Identity, Atlantic, 1991.
Christmas Spirit, Mercury, 1994.
Crayons, Burgundy, 2008.
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A mix of polished pop/rock and neo-soul sex appeal made Maroon 5 one of the most popular bands of the 2000s, with such radio-ready songs as "This Love," "She Will Be Loved," and "Makes Me Wonder" all topping the charts worldwide . Previously, bandmates Adam Levine (vocals/guitar), Jesse Carmichael (keyboards), Mickey Madden (bass), and Ryan Dusick (drums) had spent the latter half of the '90s playing in the modern rock outfit Kara's Flowers, releasing their debut album for Reprise Records while still attending high school. The record tanked, however, and Kara's Flowers found themselves dropped from the Reprise roster. After briefly attending college, the bandmates regrouped as Maroon 5, added former Square guitarist James Valentine to the lineup, and embraced a more R&B-influenced sound. Several years later, the quintet had officially risen to the forefront of popular music with the multi-platinum releases of Songs About Jane and It Won't Be Soon Before Long.
Songs About Jane propelled the band into the mainstream, but the album was not an immediate hit. Octone Records had signed the newly christened Maroon 5 in 2001, and the debut album Jane received a lukewarm response upon its in June 2002. "Harder to Breathe" became a radio staple 17 months later and was soon followed by the omnipresent "This Love," whose steamy video (featuring frontman Levine and a barely clothed girlfriend) effectively wooed the TV-watching crowds at MTV. Songs About Jane finally entered the Billboard Top Ten in August 2004, more than two years after the album's release, and subsequent singles like "She Will Be Loved" and "Sunday Morning" helped the album move over 2.7 million copies by year's end.
Maroon 5 toured exhaustively in support of Jane's slow-developing success, issuing two stopgap recordings -- 2004's 1.22.03.Acoustic and 2005's Live Friday the 13th -- while canvassing the world alongside the Rolling Stones and John Mayer. Their schedule was especially trying on percussionist Dusick, who sustained wrist and shoulder injuries and was often unable to play. By fall 2006, Dusick had been officially replaced by Matt Flynn (the former drummer for Gavin DeGraw), and the revised band released its sophomore effort in May 2007. It Won't Be Soon Before Long proved to be less popular than its predecessor (which had sold more than four million copies in the U.S. alone), but it still enjoyed double-platinum certification while spinning off the chart-topping single "Makes Me Wonder." Maroon 5 had cemented their status as pop/rock heavyweights, and they now had the powerful connections to prove it. Released in late 2008, Call and Response: The Remix Album reinterpreted the band's catalog with remixes by such influential figures as Mary J. Blige, Mark Ronson, and Pharrell Williams.
Source: Andrew Leahey, All Music Guide
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An institution in their homeland, a two-hit wonder in the U.S., and, during the last half of their ten-year career, bona fide stars in the U.K. and most of Europe, Crowded House recorded some of the best pop music of the late '80s and early '90s. Leader Neil Finn's carefully crafted songs, meticulous eye for lyrical detail, and gift for melody are matched by few other songwriters.
Crowded House formed in 1985 when Finn dissolved Split Enz rather than carry on after his brother Tim, the group's founding member, left to pursue a solo career. Instead of carrying through with the new wave direction of latter-day Split Enz, Neil moved in favor of a stripped-down, back-to-basics combo featuring ex-Enz drummer Paul Hester, bassist Nick Seymour, and guitarist Craig Hooper. Initially, the group dubbed itself after Finn's middle name, touring Australia and recording demos under the name the Mullanes; Hooper was dropped shortly after this formative period. In June of 1985, the group headed to Los Angeles to shop for a record label, eventually signing with Capitol Records. Capitol requested that the band change its name, and the group settled on Crowded House, a reflection of the bandmembers' living conditions in L.A. They began work on their debut, enlisting the help of then-unknown producer Mitchell Froom. A partnership between the band and the producer formed, making Froom nearly a fourth member. The partnership benefited both the band and the producer -- the band was helped by Froom's direct approach and more "American" sound as well as his input as a musician, and Froom was able to build a career as a high-profile producer.
Crowded House's self-titled debut didn't gain much attention upon its release in the summer of 1986, due to insufficient promotion from Capitol Records. In wake of the weak support from Capitol, the band members took matters into their own hands. Rather than setting out on an expensive large-scale tour, the group took a more low-profile route, playing acoustic sets for industry insiders and for small crowds at ethnic restaurants and in record stores. This unorthodox approach began a buzz within the industry. On the talk-show circuit, they won over American and Canadian audiences with their charm and wit as well as their wacky antics. By February of 1987, the album broke into the American Top 40, eventually peaking at number 12. The album spawned the number two hit single "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong," which reached number seven. In Australia and New Zealand, multi-platinum success followed.
Released in 1988, Temple of Low Men was anything but a sophomore slump -- Finn's new songs were among his finest, showcasing a notable progression in his songcraft. The album's slightly darker material, however, made for a more difficult listen and, although the material was stronger, the record lacked the immediate appeal of the debut. This, coupled with Capitol's lack of promotional support, led to disappointing sales -- the album barely broke the U.S. Top 40 and the single, "Better Be Home Soon," stalled at number 42. Since hope had basically run out for the album, they abandoned plans for a major U.S. tour. A three-month break in touring revitalized the band for a well-received Australian and Canadian tour, but by mid-1989 the band had effectively broken up.
Late in 1989, Neil reunited with his brother Tim and the duo began writing songs together for the first time, with the intention of releasing the material on a proposed Finn Brothers album. The collaboration was successful and the duo was prolific, writing 14 songs in a very short time. After the initial sessions with Tim, Neil began working on a new set of songs, designed for the next Crowded House album, but he soon found the new material unsatisfactory. Neil decided to combine the better moments of the Finn Brothers project and the scrapped third album, adding his brother as a fourth member of Crowded House.
Crowded House's third album, Woodface, released in the summer of 1991, proved the decision to combine the material from the two scrapped records was sound -- the album certainly represents their finest recorded moments. Although the choice of "Chocolate Cake" as a leadoff single was both misleading and off-putting to American audiences, effectively sinking the album's chances of success in the U.S., England and Europe embraced the band for the first time. After about six months of dormancy, they began charting in the U.K. and Europe with several singles, including the smash "Weather with You." The British success of "Weather with You" helped Woodface achieve platinum status in the U.K. and led the group to several headlining concerts at Wembley Arena. Tim, for all of his invaluable contributions in the writing and recording of Woodface, proved extraneous to the band's live show. He left the band in November 1991, as the band was in the middle of its tour and just prior to its breakthrough success in England. Following the success of Woodface, both Neil and Tim were awarded OBEs from the Queen of England in 1993; the honor was bestowed for their contributions to the arts.
In early 1993, Crowded House regrouped to record their fourth album, adding American guitarist Mark Hart (who had briefly toured with the band around the time of Temple of Low Men) to the band and dropping Mitchell Froom as their producer, opting instead for ex-Killing Joke member Youth. Together Alone was released in October 1993 (January 1994 in North America) to unanimously positive reviews and solid sales in every country except the United States. Upon its release, Together Alone entered the English charts at number four; at the time, Woodface was still in the U.K. charts. After the album was released, Crowded House embarked on a successful European tour. They were beginning an American tour when Hester decided to leave the band to spend more time with his new family. Hiring a session drummer, the band rounded out the tour, eventually returning to Australia.
By the end of 1994, Neil decided to cut back on the touring to work on side projects, which included some production work for Dave Dobbyn and a second try at a Finn Brothers album with Tim. The Finn Brothers finally released their long-awaited duet album in the fall of 1995. In June of 1996, Neil officially broke up Crowded House. That same month, Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House was released, entering the U.K. and Australian charts at number one. After a handful of "final shows" in various locations, on Sunday, November 24, 1996, Crowded House played their official farewell show at the Sydney Opera House to 100,000 fans as a benefit for the Sydney Children's Hospital Fund.
In 1997, Hester formed a new band, Largest Living Things, releasing two EPs and playing regular gigs in Australia as well as hosting his own television show. Neil made his debut as a solo artist in June 1998 with Try Whistling This. In December 1999, Afterglow, an album's worth of Crowded House leftovers and rarities, was issued in Australia and New Zealand; the album was released in the U.K. during January of the following year.
Neil continued recording both as a solo artist and as part of the Finn Brothers with Tim. In 2005, Hester, after years of battling depression, took his own life near his home in Australia. A year later, the archival release Farewell to the World captured the Sydney farewell show on both CD and DVD. In 2007, Neil reactivated the band with Nick Seymour, Mark Hart, and a new drummer, Matt Sherrod. The album Time on Earth followed soon after. ~ All Music Guide
Bob "Kid Rock" Ritchie (born Robert James Ritchie, January 17, 1971) grew up in Romeo, MI, a small rural town north of the Detroit metro area. Finding small-town life stiflingly dull, Ritchie immersed himself in rap music, learned to breakdance, and began making the talent-show rounds in Detroit. Inspired by the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill -- white performers fusing rap and hard guitar rock -- Kid Rock recorded his first demos in 1988, and eventually scored an opening slot at a Boogie Down Productions gig. That performance, in turn, led to a contract with Jive Records, which issued Kid Rock's debut album, Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast, in 1990. Produced by Kid Rock, Too Short, and D-Nice, the album was heavily derivative of Licensed to Ill. Rock briefly became notorious when a New York college radio station aired the album's profanity-laced ode to oral sex, "Yodelin' in the Valley," and was fined over $20,000 (a judgment later rescinded). However, despite a tour with Too Short and Ice Cube, Jive didn't see much of a future for Kid Rock and dropped him from their roster.
Moving to Brooklyn, Rock hooked up with the small Continuum label, and moved his brand of rap further into hard rock with The Polyfuze Method, released in 1993. Reviews were mixed, with some critics praising the record's humor and eclecticism while others dismissed it as awkward and forced. The EP Fire It Up followed in 1994, appearing on Rock's own Top Dog imprint (which was still distributed by Continuum). Rock eventually returned to the Detroit area and began work on another album; recorded on a shoestring budget, Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp was released in 1996. Although sometimes forced to sell bootleg dubs of his own records to pay the rent, Rock set about forming a full-fledged backing band, which he dubbed Twisted Brown Trucker.
While its membership fluctuated early on, rapper Joe C. (born Joseph Calleja) was one of the first to join; a longtime fan and frequent concert attendee, Calleja caught Rock's eye in 1994, partly because of his diminutive stature (due to a digestive condition known as celiac disease, which required both dialysis and extensive medication) and partly because of his encyclopedic knowledge of Rock's song lyrics. The rest of the lineup settled around mostly Detroit-area musicians: guitarists Kenny Olson and Jason Krause, keyboardist Jimmy Bones (born Jimmy Trombly, he handles the basslines himself), drummer Stefanie Eulinberg, DJ/turntablist Uncle Kracker (born Matt Shafer, who had been with Rock since the early '90s), and backing vocalists Misty Love and Shirley Hayden.
As rap-metal acts like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Rage Against the Machine began to dominate the hard rock landscape, Atlantic Records decided to take a chance on signing Rock. Devil Without a Cause didn't do much upon its initial release in August 1998, but a big promotional push from the label and MTV helped make the album's second single and video, "Bawitdaba," a nationwide smash. The follow-up, "Cowboy," achieved similar success, and suddenly, after a decade of trying, Kid Rock was a superstar with a Top Five, seven-times-platinum album and a gig at Woodstock '99. While pondering how to follow up Devil, Rock acquired the rights to his indie label recordings and remixed or re-recorded the best material for The History of Rock, which was released in the summer of 2000 and featured some new songs as well. Sadly, after being forced to take a break from touring a year earlier by his medical difficulties, Joe C. passed away in his sleep on November 16, 2000.
Even with a tragedy like this in his life, Rock continued work on his follow-up to Devil Without a Cause. The media focused more on his relationship with actress Pamela Anderson than his musical career, which many magazines were beginning to ridicule. His DJ, Uncle Kracker, had a successful solo career during the spring and summer of 2001, leaving Rock without one of his most frequent collaborators. Still, by the winter of that year he had completed work on Cocky and had released "Forever" to success on rock radio. In fall 2003, Kid Rock returned with a self-titled effort. A cover of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" marked the first single. The cover art to his 2006 live album, Live Trucker, paid tribute to Bob Seger's Live Bullet. Just a year later the studio record Rock N Roll Jesus came out. ~ All Music Guide
For the Record . . .
Born Robert (Bob) Ritchie in Romeo, MI, c. 1972; son of Bill and Susan Ritchie; two siblings: older brother Billy and older sister Carol; children: son Robert Ritchie, Jr. (known as Junior).
Started as DJ at parties and clubs throughout high school in and around Detroit, MI; made demo tape, signed with Jive Records, released first album, Grit Sandwiches for Breakfast, 1990; toured with Ice Cube and Too $hort, 1990; debut record failed in sales and Jive dropped Rock from label, c. 1991; released two albums and one EP on independent labels, including The Polx/fuze Method, 1992; Fire It Up EP, 1994; Early Mornin'Stoned, 1996; signed with Atlantic Records, c. 1997; released Devil Without a Cause, which later reached triple-platinum status, 1998; performed at music festival Woodstock, toured worldwide with Limp Bizkit, 1999.
Addresses: Homeoyal Oak, MI. Record companytlantic Records, 9229 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 900, Los Angeles, CA 90069; 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10104. Website: http://www.atlantic-records.com, Kid Rock Official Website: http://www.kidrock.com.
Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast, Jive, 1990.
The Polyfuze Method, Continuum, 1993.
Early Morning Stoned Pimp, Top Dog, 1996.
Devil Without a Cause, Lava/Atlantic/Top Dog, 1998.
Cocky, Atlantic, 2001.
Kid Rock, Atlantic, 2003.
Rock N Roll Jesus, Atlantic, 2007.
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Combining a love for British guitar pop songcraft with crunching power chords and a flair for the absurd, Cheap Trick provided the necessary links between '60s pop, heavy metal, and punk. Led by guitarist Rick Nielsen, the band's early albums were filled with highly melodic, well-written songs that drew equally from the crafted pop of the Beatles, the sonic assault of the Who, and the tongue-in-cheek musical eclecticism and humor of the Move. Their sound provided a blueprint for both power pop and arena rock; it also had a surprisingly long-lived effect on both alternative and heavy metal bands of the '80s and '90s, who also relied on the combination of loud riffs and catchy melodies.
Cheap Trick's roots lie in Fuse, a late-'60s Rockford, IL, band formed by Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson, who released an unsuccessful album on Epic in 1969. After the record failed to gain any attention, the band relocated to Philadelphia and changed their name to Sick Man of Europe. The group toured Europe unsuccessfully in 1972, returning to Illinois in 1973. Not long after their return to Rockford, Nielsen and Petersson changed their band's name to Cheap Trick, adding drummer Bun E. Carlos and vocalist Randy "Xeno" Hogan. Hogan was fired the following year and ex-folksinger Robin Zander joined the group. Between 1975 and the band's first album in 1977, Cheap Trick toured constantly, playing over 200 concerts a year, including opening slots for the Kinks, Kiss, Santana, AC/DC, and Queen. During this time, the band built up a solid catalog of original songs that would eventually comprise their first three albums; they also perfected their kinetic live show.
Cheap Trick signed with Epic Records in 1976, releasing their self-titled debut in early 1977. The record sold well in America, yet it failed to chart. However, the group became a massive success in Japan, going gold upon release. Later that year, the band released their second album, In Color. It backed away from the harder-rocking Cheap Trick, featuring a slicker production and quieter arrangements that spotlighted the band's melodic skills. Due to their constant touring, the record made it into the U.S. charts, peaking at number 73; in Japan it became another gold-seller. The band realized that they were virtual superstars in Japan when they toured the country in early 1978. Their concerts were selling out within two hours and they packed Budokan Arena.
Cheap Trick's concerts at Budokan Arena were recorded for release -- the record appeared after their third album, 1978's Heaven Tonight. That third album captured both the loud, raucous energy of their debut and the hook-laden songcraft of In Color, leading to their first Top 100 single, "Surrender," which peaked at number 62. However, the live performances on At Budokan (1979) captured the band's energetic, infectious live show, resulting in their commercial breakthrough in the U.S. The album stayed on the charts for over a year, peaking at number four and eventually selling over three million copies; a live version of "I Want You to Want Me" became their first Top Ten hit. Later that year, the group released their fourth studio album, Dream Police, which followed the same stylistic approach of Heaven Tonight. It also followed At Budokan into the Top Ten, selling over a million copies and launching the Top 40 hit singles "Voices" and "Dream Police." In the summer of 1980, the group released an EP of tracks recorded between 1976-1979 called Found All the Parts.
Following the recording of the George Martin-produced All Shook Up, Petersson left the group in the summer of 1980 to form a group with his wife, Dagmar; he was replaced by Jon Brant. Released toward the end of 1980, All Shook Up performed respectably, peaking at number 24 and going gold, yet the single "Stop This Game" failed to crack the Top 40. One on One, the group's seventh album and the first recorded with Brant, appeared in 1982. Although it peaked at number 39, the record was more successful than All Shook Up, eventually going platinum. Nevertheless, the group was entering a downhill commercial slide, despite the fact that its music was becoming increasingly polished. Next Position Please, released in 1983, failed to launch a hit single and spent only 11 weeks on the charts. Standing on the Edge (1985) and The Doctor (1986) suffered similar fates, as the group was slowly losing its creative spark.
Petersson rejoined the band in 1988 and the group began working on a new record with the help of several professional songwriters. The resulting record, Lap of Luxury, was a platinum Top 20 hit, featuring the number one power ballad "The Flame" and a Top Ten version of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel." Busted, released in 1990, wasn't as successful as Lap of Luxury, peaking at number 48 and effectively putting an end to the group's commercial comeback. Cheap Trick signed with Warner Brothers in 1994, releasing Woke Up With a Monster; the record spent two weeks on the chart, peaking at 123. That same year, Epic Records released a sequel to At Budokan, Budokan II. Compiled from the same shows as At Budokan, the record provided an effective reminder of why the group was so popular in the late '70s, not only for the public, but for the band as well.
In 1995, Cheap Trick asked to leave Warner after the label's chief executives, Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin, departed. Then the band decided to go back to the basics. Several alternative rockers who were influenced by Cheap Trick gave the band opportunities to restore its reputation. The Smashing Pumpkins had the band open their tour in 1995 and the group played several dates on the 1996 Lollapalooza Tour. That same year, the box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick appeared to good reviews and the band signed with the fledgling indie Red Ant-Alliance. Early in 1997, the group released a Steve Albini-produced single on Sub Pop, which was followed by Cheap Trick, their acclaimed debut for Red Ant-Alliance, in the spring. Unfortunately, Red Ant-Alliance filed for bankruptcy seven weeks after the album's release, sadly putting a sudden halt on the group's building comeback momentum.
On April 30, 1998, the group began a four-night Chicago stay, devoting each show to reprising one of their first four albums in its entirety; the dates later yielded a 1999 live LP, Music for Hangovers, issued on their own Cheap Trick Unlimited label. A band-authorized hits collection followed in 2000. (See the band's official website for more information: www.cheaptrick.com.) By the dawn of the new millennium, Cheap Trick were still without a label, but had retained their loyal following as they kept touring the world (surprisingly, Cheap Trick turned down an offer to open up for their old pals Kiss on the masked quartet's farewell tour of arenas and amphitheaters in 2000), as another live set saw the light of day in 2001. Entitled Silver, the double-disc set (and companion DVD) was a fine document of a star-studded and career-spanning 25th anniversary show from August 28, 1999, in their hometown of Rockford, IL. The band also recorded a studio album, released in 2003 as Special One. It was followed in 2006 by Rockford. ~ All Music Guide
Members include Bun E. Carlos (born Brad Carlson, June 12, 1951, in Rockford, IL), drums; Rick Nielsen (born December 22, 1946, in Rockford, IL), guitar; Tom Petersson (born May 9, 1950, in Rockford, IL), bass; and Robin Zander (born January 23, 1952, in Loves Park, IL; joined group, 1973), vocals.
Group formed by Zander as the Boyz in Rockford, IL, mid-1960s; name changed to Fuse, late 1960s; released debut album (as Fuse), 1969; band relocated to Philadelphia, PA, and changed name to Sick Man of Europe, early 1970s; returned to Rockford, added vocalist Zander, and adopted name Cheap Trick, 1973; released self-titled debut album on Epic, 1977.
Addresses: Record company—Warner Bros., 3300 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505.
Album: (Produced by Epic, unless otherwise noted)
Cheap Trick, 1977.
In Color, 1977.
Heaven Tonight, 1978.
Dream Police, 1979.
Found All the Parts (EP), 1980.
All Shook Up, 1980.
One on One, 1982.
Next Position Please, 1983.
Standing on the Edge, 1985.
The Doctor, 1986.
Lap of Luxury, 1988.
Woke Up With A Monster, Warner Bros., 1994.
Cheap Trick, Red Ant, 1997.
Special One, Big3, 2006.
Rockford, Big3, 2006.
The Latest, Cheap Trick Unlimited, 2009.
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With their distinctive style of music—perhaps best described as power doo-wop—The Four Seasons have enjoyed a long and extremely successful career in popular music. Coming together in the mid-1950s, they had their first major hit "Sherry" in 1962. It was followed by a string of other hit songs including "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Let's Hang On to What We've Got." Along with The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons were the only American group to survive the "British Invasion" of the pop charts in the mid-1960s. Their hit songs have become pop standards and their concert tours continue to attract enthusiastic audiences made up of longtime fans and younger people whose acquaintance with the group comes from "oldies" format radio stations.
The Four Seasons have undergone numerous personnel changes over the years but the essence of the group has remained with lead vocalist Frankie Valli and songwriter/manager Bob Gaudio. Valli and Gaudio own the master tapes of all the group's recordings, the right to use the musical group name "The Four Seasons," and also own the rights to the music and lyrics of all the Four Seasons' songs. These properties have generated millions of dollars in revenue for Valli and Gaudio's joint enterprise, called the Four Seasons Partnership.
The roots of the Four Seasons can be traced to the working class neighborhoods of Newark, New Jersey in the mid-1950s when Frankie Valli (born Francis Stephen Castelluccio) joined the Variety Trio, avocai group made up of Hank Majewski, and brothers Nick and Tommy Devito. The addition of a fourth member made the trio a quartet and so the group's name was changed to the Variatones. Though still a teenager, Valli was an experienced singer. In 1953, under the name Frankie Valley, he had recorded a few songs for Corona Records. The son of a barber, Valli had decided to be a singer at age seven. "I was always singing, as far back as I can remember. In those days, big bands would come and play in theaters like the Paramount (in New York) or the Adams Theater in Newark. My mom used to take me once a week to the Adams, so I saw every major big band at the tail end of that era," Valli recalled to Steve North of the TwoRiver Times. Receiving no formal vocal training, Valli honed his voice by listening to records of favorite performers, such as the Four Freshmen, the Hi-Lo's and the Modemaires. He sharpened his falsetto by imitating female singers including Dinah Washington and Rose Murphy.
The Variatones played at clubs in New Jersey and the surrounding area. In 1956, they were signed by RCA records and renamed the Four Lovers. Their RCA recording of "Apple of My Eye" was a minor hit which earned them three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Despite this notoriety, the group had trouble garnering many fans. "When we went out of town, we used to lie and tell everybody we were playing at the big resorts. Only we were really performing in a bowling alley in Philly, " Valli told John Anderson of SmartMoney. Changes came to the Four Lovers in 1960 when Hank Majewski left the group and was replaced by Nick Massi. In the same year, the Four Lovers were taken under the wing of Bob Crewe, a New York-based record producer. In 1961, Nick Devito resigned from the group and Bob Gaudio joined it. In addition to being a keyboard player and vocalist, Gaudio was a talented songwriter able to supply the group with original material. As member of the Royal Teens, Gaudio had written and recorded the novelty hit "Short Shorts" in 1958. After retitling themselves The Four Seasons, taking the name from a bowling alley lounge which had refused to give them a booking, the group was set with the moniker and personnel—Valli, Gaudio, Massi, and Tommy Devito—that would take them to the top.
It was at this point, just before stardom, that Valli, who had day job as barber, and Gaudio, who worked at a printing plant, decided to form a partnership. The deal was made while they sat in Valli's parents's apartment in a low-income housing project in Newark. "We said, 'Neither of us know where we're going to wind up, but maybe we should hedge our bets. You get 50 percent of me, and I get 50 percent of you,'" Gaudio recalled to Charles P. Alexander of Time. The deal, which has never been based on anything more official than a handshake, has endured. Despite ups and downs in their relationship over the decades, neither Valli nor Gaudio has seriously considered breaking the arrangement. "That would be like telling your brother that he couldn't come todinner anymore. We're family," Gaudio explained to Alexander.
Major success came to the Four Seasons in September of 1962, when their recording "Sherry" for Vee-Jay Records went to the top of the charts. Originally called "Terry," the song had been written by Gaudio in 15 minutes. The lyrics were concocted merely as a way for Gaudio to remember the tune but producer Crewe and the other group members thought they should be retained. Only change was the girl's name in the title. "Sherry was a non-existent person.... It was just a song and the name made it easier to sing, "Sherrrrry Sherry Baby." It was impossible to do that with the name Linda or Laurie. See, we were creating a sound," Valli told Tim Ryan of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
The success of "Sherry" was quickly followed by another number one hit, "Big Girls Don't Cry," another Gaudio composition. The title phrase was taken from an old movie in which the leading man (sometimes identified as Clark Gable, sometimes as John Payne), slaps the leading lady, then taunts her by saying "Big girls don't cry." Over the next five years, The Four Seasons enjoyed a string of top ten hits, most written by Gaudio. Combining simple lyrics about young romance with a driving, infectious beat, Four Seasons material appealed to that part of the audience which continued to be drawn to the East Coast street corner harmonies of the 1950s and early 1960s. Their hits include "Walk Like a Man," "Candy Girl," "Dawn," "Ronnie," "Rag Doll," "Save It for Me," "Let's Hang On," "Working My Way," "Tell It to the Rain," and "C'Mon Marianne." One non-Gaudio hit was a version of Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin," which Valli told Ryan was "the most sophisticated song we ever recorded." In 1965, the Four Seasons, billing themselves as The Wonder Who?, released a rendition of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's Alright," with Valli singing in his highest pitched falsetto. The song went to number 12 on the Billboard chart. Valli abandoned the falsetto in favor of a rich baritone on his solo recording of the romantic ballad "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," which was a hit in the summer of 1967.
For the Record . . .
Members in the 1960s include Tommy Devito (born June 19, 1935), vocals, guitar; Bob Gaudio (born November 17, 1942 in Bronx, NY), vocals, keyboard, and principal songwriter; Nick Massi (born September 19, 1935), vocals, bass; Frankie Valli, (born May 3, 1937 in Newark, NJ), lead vocals. Earlier members included Nick Devito and Hank Majewski. Later members include Don Ciccone, bass; John Pavia, guitar; Gerry Polci, vocals, drums; Lee Shapiro, keyboard.
Began as the Variatones in early 1950s; became the Four Lovers and signed with RCA records in 1956. Recorded a minor hit, "Apple of My Eye," for RCA in 1956. Appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show; teamed with independent record producer Bob Crewe in 1960; songwriter and keyboardist Bob Gaudio joined in 1961; The Four Seasons, had first major hit with the Gaudio composition "Sherry," for Vee-Jay Records in 1962; other hits for Vee-Jay include "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Candy Girl;" signed with Philips Records, 1964; released "Dawn," "Ronnie," "Rag Doll," "Save It for Me," "Let's Hang On!," "Working My Way Back to You," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "C'Mon Marianne;" as the Wonder Who?; had a hit with "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" in 1965; signed with Motown and released unsuccess ful album Chameleon in 1972; signed with Warner-Curb Records, 1975; released "Who Loves You?" and "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night);" rereleased "December, 1963," 1994. Frankie Valli solo hits include "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," 1967; "My Eyes Adored You" and "Swearin' to God," 1975, and "Grease,"1978. Popular nightclub and touring act in the 1980s and 1990s.
Awards: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1995.
Addresses: Management company—International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
It took some time for success to sink into the minds of the Four Seasons. Valli, for example, continued living with his parents in a Newark housing project. "I don't think I really believed the success until about 1964. I drove an old car until that year; I was afraid to buy a new one.... Ithought someone would pinch me and I'd wake up from this wonderful dream I was having," Valli told North.
Though the Four Seasons had withstood the British Invasion of American pop music led by the Beatles in 1964, by the late 1960s their popularity began to wane. In response to this drop in public favor, the group made some false moves, most notably a socially conscious concept album called The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette. Released in 1968, the album featured an eight-page newspaper insert. The experimental album received a good deal of publicity but sold poorly. By the early 1970s, the Four Seasons were at a low ebb with Valli as the only original member still performing with the group. Gaudio, who had taken over management of the group in the late 1960s, stopped performing in 1971. Gaudio's retreat from the stage annoyed Valli. "Frankie felt like I'd deserted him. It was our toughest time," Gaudio told Anderson. In 1972, the Four Seasons signed with Motown Records' California-based subsidiary MoWest and released the album Chameleon which drew little attention.
In 1975, their contract with MoWest having expired, Valli and Gaudio took Valli's solo recording of the song "My Eyes Adored You," to Private Stock Records. Written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, the low key romantic tune put Valli back at the top of the charts. It was quickly followed by another Valli solo hit, the disco-influenced "Swearin' to God." Meanwhile, Gaudio recruited new personnel for the Four Seasons, including John Pavia, Lee Shapiro, Don Ciccone, and Gerry Polci, and signed a contract with Warner-Curb Records. In the autumn of 1975, the revised group had a major hit with "Who Loves You?" In the spring of 1976, the Four Seasons enjoyed an even bigger success with "December '63 (Oh, What a Night)." Written by Gaudio and his future wife Judy Parker, the song was a bouncy coming of age ditty that played on the nostalgic view many people in the 1970s had developed towards the 1950s and early 1960s. In an unusual turn, lead vocals on the recording were done by Gerry Polci, instead of Valli.
As a solo artist, Valli had the biggest hit of his career with the title song from the movie Grease in 1978. Written by Barry Gibb of Bee Gees fame, the disco-style song detracted from the early 1960s setting of the film and was not a part of the stage musical on which the film was based. Nevertheless, the Grease title song was a tremendous success in the summer of 1978, as was the movie itself. Although Gaudio had nothing to do with the Grease recording, Valli kept to their agreement and split the profits from the song with him. Similarly, Gaudio shared his earnings from outside projects with Valli.
Notable among Gaudio's other projects is the soundtrack to Neil Diamond's movie The Jazz Singer in 1981.
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons are a popular attraction in nightclubs and other live entertainment venues. Though he likes the challenge of new material, Valli understands that audiences come out to hear the hits. "If I went to see someone I had admired all my life, I'd feel disappointed if I didn't hear certain songs ... a lot of people come to our shows to forget about what's going on. It's kind of like therapy," Valli told Winnie Bonelli of the Passaic Herald & News. Reissues of Four Seasons recordings enjoy steady sales with many purchases being made by people who weren't alive during the group's heyday.
4 Seasons Greetings, 1962.
Sherry & 11 Others, Curb, 1962.
Ain't That a Shame and 11 Other Hits, Curb, 1963.
Big Girls Don't Cry and Twelve Others..., Curb, 1963.
Born to Wander, 1964.
Dawn (Go Away) and 11 Other Great Songs, Curb, 1964.
Rag Doll, Curb 1964.
4 Seasons Entertain You, 1965.
4 Seasons Sing Big Hits by Burt Bacharach...Hal David...Bob Dylan, Rhino, 1965.
Let's Hang On and More Great New Hits, Curb, 1966.
Live on Stage, Vee-Jay, 1966.
Working My Way Back to You and More Great New Hits, Rhino, 1966.
Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, Rhino, 1969.
Half & Half, Ace, 1970.
Who Loves You, Curb, 1975.
Helicon, Warner Bros., 1977.
Reunited Live, Collectors' Choice Music, 1981.
Streetfighter, Curb/MCA, 1985.
Hope + Glory, Curb, 1992.
Source: Mary Kalfatovic
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Earth, Wind & Fire were one of the most musically accomplished, critically acclaimed, and commercially popular funk bands of the '70s. Conceived by drummer, bandleader, songwriter, kalimba player, and occasional vocalist Maurice White, EWF's all-encompassing musical vision used funk as its foundation, but also incorporated jazz, smooth soul, gospel, pop, rock & roll, psychedelia, blues, folk, African music, and, later on, disco. Lead singer Philip Bailey gave EWF an extra dimension with his talent for crooning sentimental ballads in addition to funk workouts; behind him, the band could harmonize like a smooth Motown group, work a simmering groove like the J.B.'s, or improvise like a jazz fusion outfit. Plus, their stage shows were often just as elaborate and dynamic as George Clinton's P-Funk empire. More than just versatility for its own sake, EWF's eclecticism was part of a broader concept informed by a cosmic, mystical spirituality and an uplifting positivity the likes of which hadn't been seen since the early days of Sly & the Family Stone. Tying it all together was the accomplished songwriting of Maurice White, whose intricate, unpredictable arrangements and firm grasp of hooks and structure made EWF one of the tightest bands in funk when they wanted to be. Not everything they tried worked, but at their best, Earth, Wind & Fire seemingly took all that came before them and wrapped it up into one dizzying, spectacular package.
White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in Chicago in 1969. He had previously honed his chops as a session drummer for Chess Records, where he played on songs by the likes of Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, and Etta James, among others. In 1967, he'd replaced Redd Holt in the popular jazz group the Ramsey Lewis Trio, where he was introduced to the kalimba, an African thumb piano he would use extensively in future projects. In 1969, he left Lewis' group to form a songwriting partnership with keyboardist Don Whitehead and singer Wade Flemons. This quickly evolved into a band dubbed the Salty Peppers, which signed with Capitol and scored a regional hit with "La La Time." When a follow-up flopped, White decided to move to Los Angeles, and took most of the band with him; he also renamed them Earth, Wind & Fire, after the three elements in his astrological charts. By the time White convinced his brother, bassist Verdine White, to join him on the West Coast in 1970, the lineup also consisted of Whitehead, Flemons, female singer Sherry Scott, guitarist Michael Beal, tenor saxophonist Chet Washington, trombonist Alex Thomas, and percussionist Yackov Ben Israel. This aggregate signed a new deal with Warner Bros. and issued its self-titled debut album in late 1970. Many critics found it intriguing and ambitious, much like the 1971 follow-up, The Need of Love, but neither attracted much commercial attention, despite a growing following on college campuses and a high-profile gig performing the soundtrack to Melvin Van Peebles' groundbreaking black independent film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.
Dissatisfied with the results, White dismantled the first version of EWF in 1972, retaining only brother Verdine. He built a new lineup with female vocalist Jessica Cleaves, flute/sax player Ronnie Laws, guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, and percussionist Ralph Johnson; the most important new addition, however, was singer Philip Bailey, recruited from a Denver R&B band called Friends & Love. After seeing the group open for John Sebastian in New York, Clive Davis signed them to CBS, where they debuted in 1972 with Last Days and Time. Further personnel changes ensued; Laws and Bautista were all gone by year's end, replaced by reedman Andrew Woolfolk and guitarists Al McKay and Johnny Graham. It was then that EWF truly began to hit their stride. 1973's Head to the Sky (Cleaves' last album with the group) significantly broadened their cult following, and the 1974 follow-up, Open Our Eyes, was their first genuine hit. It marked their first collaboration with producer, arranger, and sometime songwriting collaborator Charles Stepney, who helped streamline their sound for wider acceptance; it also featured another White brother, Fred, brought in as a second drummer. The single "Mighty Mighty" became EWF's first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts, although pop radio shied away from its black-pride subtext, and the minor hit "Kalimba Story" brought Maurice White's infatuation with African sounds to the airwaves. Open Our Eyes went gold, setting the stage for the band's blockbuster breakthrough.
In 1975, EWF completed work on another movie soundtrack, this time to a music-biz drama called That's the Way of the World. Not optimistic about the film's commercial prospects, the group rushed out their soundtrack album of the same name (unlike Sweet Sweetback, they composed all the music themselves) in advance. The film flopped, but the album took off; its lead single, the love-and-encouragement anthem "Shining Star," shot to the top of both the R&B and pop charts, making Earth, Wind & Fire mainstream stars; it later won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. The album also hit number one on both the pop and R&B charts, and went double platinum; its title track went Top Five on the R&B side, and it also contained Bailey's signature ballad in the album cut "Reasons." White used the new income to develop EWF's live show into a lavish, effects-filled extravaganza, which eventually grew to include stunts designed by magician Doug Henning. The band was also augmented by a regular horn section, the Phoenix Horns, headed by saxophonist Don Myrick. Their emerging concert experience was chronicled later that year on the double-LP set Gratitude, which became their second straight number one album and featured one side of new studio tracks. Of those, "Sing a Song" reached the pop Top Ten and the R&B Top Five, and the ballad "Can't Hide Love" and the title track were also successful.
Sadly, during the 1976 sessions for EWF's next studio album, Spirit, Charles Stepney died suddenly of a heart attack. Maurice White took over the arranging chores, but the Stepney-produced "Getaway" managed to top the R&B charts posthumously. Spirit naturally performed well on the charts, topping out at number two. In the meantime, White was taking a hand in producing other acts; in addition to working with his old boss Ramsey Lewis, he helped kick start the careers of the Emotions and Deniece Williams. 1977's All n' All was another strong effort that charted at number three and spawned the R&B smashes "Fantasy" and the chart-topping "Serpentine Fire"; meanwhile, the Emotions topped the pop charts with the White-helmed smash "Best of My Love." The following year, White founded his own label, ARC, and EWF appeared in the mostly disastrous film version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, turning in a fine cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" that became their first Top Ten pop hit since "Sing a Song." Released before year's end, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 produced another Top Ten hit (and R&B number one) in the newly recorded "September."
1979's I Am contained EWF's most explicit nod to disco, a smash collaboration with the Emotions called "Boogie Wonderland" that climbed into the Top Ten. The ballad "After the Love Has Gone" did even better, falling one spot short of the top. Although I Am became EWF's sixth straight multi-platinum album, there were signs that the group's explosion of creativity over the past few years was beginning to wane. 1980's Faces broke that string, after which guitarist McKay departed. While 1981's Raise brought them a Top Five hit and R&B chart-topper in "Let's Groove," an overall decline in consistency was becoming apparent. By the time EWF issued its next album, 1983's Powerlight, ARC had folded, and the Phoenix Horns had been cut loose to save money. After the lackluster Electric Universe appeared at the end of the year, White disbanded the group to simply take a break. In the meantime, Verdine White became a producer and video director, while Philip Bailey embarked on a solo career and scored a pop smash with the Phil Collins duet "Easy Lover." Collins also made frequent use of the Phoenix Horns on his '80s records, both solo and with Genesis.
Bailey reunited with the White brothers, plus Andrew Woolfolk, Ralph Johnson, and new guitarist Sheldon Reynolds, in 1987 for the album Touch the World. It was surprisingly successful, producing two R&B smashes in "Thinking of You" and the number one "System of Survival." Released in 1990, Heritage was a forced attempt to contemporize the group's sound, with guest appearances from Sly Stone and MC Hammer; its failure led to the end of the group's relationship with Columbia. They returned on Reprise with the more traditional-sounding Millennium in 1993, but were dropped when the record failed to recapture their commercial standing despite a Grammy nomination for "Sunday Morning"; tragedy struck that year when onetime horn leader Don Myrick was murdered in Los Angeles. Bailey and the White brothers returned once again in 1997 on the small Pyramid label with In the Name of Love. After 2003's The Promise, the group realigned itself with several top-shelf adult contemporary artists and released 2005's Illumination, which featured a much-publicized collaboration with smooth jazz juggernaut Kenny G.
For The Record
Original members include Michael Beale, guitar; Leslie Drayton, horns; Wade Flemons,electric piano; Sherry Scott, vocals; Alex Thomas, horns; Chester Washington, horns;Maurice White (born December 19, 1941, in Chicago, IL), vocals, drums, kalimba; Verdine White (born July 25, 1951), bass; Donald Whitehead, keyboards; and Phillard Williams,percussion.
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The Shirelles were the first major female vocal group of the rock era, defining the so-called girl group sound with their soft, sweet harmonies and yearning innocence. Their music was a blend of pop/rock and R&B -- especially doo wop and smooth uptown soul -- that appealed to listeners across the board, before Motown ever became a crossover phenomenon with white audiences. Even if the Shirelles were not technically the first of their kind, their success was unprecedented, paving the way for legions of imitators; their inviting musical blueprint had an enduring influence not just on their immediate followers, but on future generations of female pop singers, who often updated the style with a more modern sensibility. What was more, they provided some of the earliest hits for important Brill Building songwriters like Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, and Van McCoy.
The Shirelles were originally formed in 1958 in Passaic, NJ, by four high school friends: Doris Coley (later Doris Kenner-Jackson), Addie "Micki" Harris, Shirley Owens (later Shirley Alston), and Beverly Lee. Christening themselves the Poquellos, the girls wrote a song called "I Met Him on a Sunday" and entered their school talent show with it. A school friend had them audition for her mother, Florence Greenberg, who ran a small record label; she was impressed enough to become the group's manager, and changed their name to the Shirelles by combining frequent lead singer Owens' first name with doo woppers the Chantels. The Shirelles' recording of "I Met Him on a Sunday" was licensed by Decca and climbed into the national Top 50 in 1958. Two more singles flopped, however, and Decca passed on further releases. Greenberg instead signed them to her new label, Scepter Records, and brought in producer Luther Dixon, whose imaginative, sometimes string-heavy arrangements would help shape the group's signature sound.
"Dedicated to the One I Love" (1959) and "Tonight's the Night" (1960) both failed to make much of an impact on the pop charts, although the latter was a Top 20 R&B hit. However, they broke big time with the Goffin-King composition "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"; released in late 1960, it went all the way to number one pop, making them the first all-female group of the rock era to accomplish that feat; it also peaked at number two R&B. Its success helped send a re-release of "Dedicated to the One I Love" into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts in 1961, and "Mama Said" did the same; a more R&B-flavored outing, "Big John," also went to number two that year. 1962 continued their run of success, most notably with "Soldier Boy," a Luther Dixon/Florence Greenberg tune that became their second pop number one; they also had a Top Ten pop and R&B hit with "Baby It's You." Unfortunately, Dixon subsequently left the label; the Shirelles managed to score one more pop/R&B Top Ten with 1963's "Foolish Little Girl," but found it difficult to maintain their previous level of success.
The group went on to record material for the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, headlined the first integrated concert show in Alabama, and helped a young Dionne Warwick get some of her first exposure (subbing for Owens and Coley when each took a leave of absence to get married). A money dispute with Scepter tied up their recording schedule for a while in 1964, and although it was eventually settled, the Shirelles were still bound to a label where their run was essentially over. Of course, this was also because of the British Invasion, whose bands were among the first to cover their songs; not only their hits, but lesser-known items like "Boys" (the Beatles) and "Sha La La" (a hit for Manfred Mann). The Shirelles scraped the lower reaches of the charts a few more times, making their last appearance, ironically, with 1967's "Last Minute Miracle."Doris Kenner left the group the following year to concentrate on raising her family, and the remaining Shirelles continued as a trio, cutting singles for Bell, United Artists, and RCA through 1971. The group continued to tour the oldies circuit, however, and appeared in the 1973 documentary Let the Good Times Roll. Shirley Alston left for a solo career in 1975, upon which point Doris Kenner-Jackson returned. Micki Harris died of a heart attack during a performance in Atlanta on June 10, 1982, upon which point the group went into what turned out to be a temporary retirement; the three remaining charter members recorded together for the last time on a 1983 Dionne Warwick record. Different Shirelles lineups toured the oldies circuit in the '90s, though Beverly Lee eventually secured the official trademark. They were officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Doris Kenner-Jackson passed away after a bout with breast cancer in Sacramento on February 4, 2000.
For The Record
Members include Shirley Alston (born June 10, 1941); Addle "MBcId" Harris (born January 22, 1940; died of a heart attack, June 10, 1982, in Los Angeles); Doris Kenner (born August 2, 1941); and Beverly Lee (born August 3, 1941).
Group formed as the Poquellos for school talent shows, Passaic, NJ; "discovered" by Florence Greenberg and signed with her Tiara label, 1958; recorded "I Met Him on a Sunday"; signed with Greenberg's Scepter Records, 1959, and recorded "Dedicated to the One 1 Love" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" ; scored last chart entry, 1967; recorded and toured on nostalgia circuit; surviving members formed and led separate versions of the Shirelles.
Awards: Three gold records; awards from performance rights society Broadcast Music Inc., U.S.O., Vietnam Veterans of America, and U.S. Army; named best female group in Billboard and Cash Box for five consecutive years; citation in Congressional Record, 1983, in honor of the group's 25th anniversary.
Addresses: Management—Bevi Corp., P.O. Box 100, Clifton, NJ 07011-0100.
In 1968, Kenner left the group, and Alston, Lee, and Harris carried on as a trio, occasionally making new recordings and performing their old hits on the nostalgia circuit. Then, in the mid-1970s, Kenner returned and the group toured again as a quartet, until Harris's untimely death from a heart attack—suffered during a performance—in June of 1982. But even the loss of one of the original members did not bring an end to the Shirelles; by 1990 there were three separate groups touring under the name, each led by one of the surviving members.
Baby It's You, Scepter, 1962, reissued, Sundazed, 1993.
(With Curtis "King Curtis" Ousley) The Shirelles & King Curtis Give a Twist Party, Scepter, 1962, reissued, Sundazed, 1993.
Anthology, 1959-1965, Rhino, 1986.
Greatest Hits, Impact, 1987.
Lost and Found, Impact, 1987.
Greatest Hits, Special, 1991.
Dedicated to You, Pair, 1991.
Golden Classics, Collectables, 1992.
The Scepter Records Story, Capricorn, 1992.
Million Sellers, Laurie, 1993.
Foolish Little Girl, reissued, Sundazed, 1993.
Sing to Trumpets and Strings, Sundazed, 1993.
One of the most enigmatic figures in rock history, Scott Walker was known as Scotty Engel when he cut obscure flop records in the late '50s and early '60s in the teen idol vein. He then hooked up with John Maus and Gary Leeds to form the Walker Brothers. They weren't named Walker, they weren't brothers, and they weren't English, but they nevertheless became a part of the British Invasion after moving to the U.K. in 1965. They enjoyed a couple of years of massive success there (and a couple of hits in the U.S.) in a Righteous Brothers vein. As their full-throated lead singer and principal songwriter, Walker was the dominant artistic force in the group, who split in 1967.
Source: Richie Unterberger