Category: Rock & Roll

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart christen 'Who Shot Rock & Roll' opening

The opening of the "Who Shot Rock & Roll" photo exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography included Ann and Nancy Wilson, founders of Heart, stepping onto a stage to perform a short set of classicsThey stare out from the frames like the moment was still alive and breathing, the best images at the "Who Shot Rock & Roll" show, which celebrated its opening at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City on Thursday night.

David Bowie circa early 1970s, in glorious starman costume and shot by Gloria Stevens, standing in front of an orange curtain in a hotel room, young and alien. Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn and the rest of Black Flag, caught by L.A. punk chronicler Ed Culver in 1980 causing a slam-dance frenzy during an early show. There was Janis Joplin in the late 60s, caught beautifully by Los Angeles chronicler Henry Diltz; and the four Ramones leaning against a brick wall, shot by Roberta Bayley and one of the great portraits in rock. 

But one series of images was real: Ann and Nancy Wilson, founders of Heart, stepping onto a stage to perform a short set of classics while surprised and giddy fans watched wide-eyed in the crowd. The pair did songs to sing along to, including "Barracuda," "Dog & Butterfly," "Crazy on You," and "Even It Up." Touring in support of their all-encompassing new four-CD box set, "Strange Euphoria," the sisters, both playing acoustic guitars with a third musician adding more strum, brought sound to a show whose impact lies in photographers' abilities to represent sonics via a single, striking, silent moment.

PHOTOS: 'Who Shot Rock and Roll'

 

At the media preview on Wednesday afternoon, a woman gazing at some of the photos spotted a friend -- who was sucking on Sly Stone's tongue -- in one shot from 40 years ago. "I went to high school with her!" she exclaimed, looking at Norman Seeff's great photo of Stone and then-wife Kathy Silva engaged in a kiss. "I wonder what she's up to now?" These intimate moments stretch throughout "Who Shot Rock & Roll."

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Dick Clark: An indelible impact on American pop music

Dick Clark: Click for more photos

“There will only be a finite amount of time that they'll let me stand in front of a camera and behind a microphone, so I better start building something upon which I can fall back,” legendary TV producer and host Dick Clark told The Times back in 2001.

As the music and TV industry mourns the passing of "America's oldest living teenager," who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 82, we remember the indelible mark Clark left on pop music.

And despite what he might have thought back in 2001, the world wanted him to stay in front of that camera, a trusted voice introducing the latest chart forces with a permanently genial smile.

PHOTOS: Stars react to the death of Dick Clark

Long before Carson Daly helped shape the Top 40 musical tastes of Gen-Y teens on MTV's "Total Request Live," or before Ryan Seacrest began a yearly quest to find America’s next big pop star, there was Clark – front and center on “American Bandstand,” a show he hosted and produced for more than three decades.

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Guns N' Roses fans pen letter pushing for original lineup reunion

Axl Rose and SlashYesterday an email landed in the inbox from die-hard Guns N' Roses fan Chris Gehrt, who sent it to a number of media outlets in hopes of it reaching the eyeballs of one Axl Rose. Pushing for a reunion of the original members during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland, which takes place April 14, Gehrt and other fans are admirably blunt in the missive. "This letter is for the original lineup of the band Guns N' Roses. Our reunion hopes are dwindling and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Please post this or forward this letter on."

Here's the letter, in its entirety (with a cuss word excised and misspellings left intact).

Dear Guns N Roses,

On Saturday April 14th 2012 you will be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. This gave a great hope to every GNR fan on the planet for a one time reunion show. Our one and only chance to see the original lineup on stage together again, if only for five minutes. Something we've been told for years would never happen. Rumors swirled, the band denied, and the fans prayed. It will always be okay because you never promised us anything.

With less than 2 weeks before the induction, the fans are watching as our reunion hopes start to disappear like Marty McFly's family in a polaroid picture. Each day it seems like there is some new story about how there has been no communication, nobody knows what is required of them, nobody's talking, and nobody really seems to care.

We care.

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Amplifier maker Jim Marshall dies at 88

Jim MarshallJim Marshall, who was known as "The Father of Loud" for designing the amplifiers that became ubiquitous in the rock world, has died at 88.

"It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved founder and leader for the past 50 years, Jim Marshall," reads a notice on Marshall Amplification's  website. "While mourning the Guv’nor though, we also salute a legendary man who led a full and truly remarkable life."

Marshall died in a London hospice Thursday morning, his family told the Associated Press. He had cancer and had suffered a series of strokes, according to his son, Terry Marshall.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

“My wife and I were with him when he passed away,” Terry Marshall told the AP. “He got cancer toward the end of last year, and had surgery for that, and it came back. He was in a terrible state the last five or six weeks. He’s in a much better place now.”

Based in England, Jim Marshall said he created his first amp in 1960. The equipment found popularity with performers such as Pete Townshend of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, who used stacks of Marshall amps to create their hard rock sounds.

On Thursday morning, rock musicians turned to Twitter to express their condolences.

"Sad to hear we have lost dear friend & innovator Jim Marshall," wrote Peter Frampton on his Twitter account. "Condolences to Paul & Marshall fam. One of a kind & I will miss him. RIP Jim."

"R.I.P. Jim Marshall," tweeted Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. "You were responsible for some of the greatest audio moments in music's history and 50% of all our hearing loss......"

The company statement captures the spirit of Marshall's contribution to music, saying, "While the entire Marshall Amplification family mourns Jim’s passing and will miss him tremendously, we all feel richer for having known him and are happy in the knowledge that he is now in a much better place which has just got a whole lot louder!"

A full obituary will be posted on latimes.com/obits.

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-- Scott Sandell

Photo: Jim Marshall of Marshall Amplification in Milton Keynes, England, in 2010. Credit: Chris Radburn / PA Wire / Associated Press

First take: Bruce Springsteen's patriotic 'We Take Care of Our Own'

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Bruce Springsteen released his new single, "We Take Care of Our Own," Thursday morning, and what's most striking about it on first listen is how much it sounds like ... The Boss. It's the first song from his forthcoming 11-track album, his 17th, "Wrecking Ball," which will be released on March 6. 

Never one to stray too far from his core mission of crafting solidly structured rock songs built on a blueprint passed down from American generation to generation, "We Take Care of Our Own" -- except for one modern wash of guitar, a few echoed drum pops, and one (big) glaring absence -- sounds like a track that could have been on any his classic albums from 1975 to 1984, from "Born to Run" through "Born in the U.S.A." (excluding his acoustic "Nebraska"). These records are undeniably rock 'n' roll and constructed with the help of his E Street Band. 

His first recording since the death of saxophonist Clarence Clemons, the new song is notable for what's not there -- the horn player's sonic bursts and furious tenor declarations. Absent too is an indication of whether the music is constructed by the E Street Band or whether, like his most recent studio album, "Working on a Dream," it is a solo record. The backing band suggests the former, as does the glockenspiel a la "She's the One," the hum of the organ and the piano melody, coupled with a Phil Spector-esque string section drifting above.

And then there are the lyrics, which offer an affirmation of national glory without ever uttering the word "America," suggest the economic struggles without calling them "economic struggles." Sings Springsteen in his husk of a voice: "I've been knocking on that door that holds the throne," and it's not clear whether the Boss is talking about death, desperation or desire -- or whether he's written a pointed response to Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" (probably not, but it's fun to think about). "I've been looking for a map that leads me home/The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone."

As the song unfolds, Springsteen clarifies his point: This is a song about the country and hardship, but also about community and pride: "We take care of our own/Wherever this flag is flown/We take care of our own."

Granted, the title phrase borders on jingoism, and in the wrong hands can be both used to justify actions noble and contemptible, from coming together as a family to help kin, to protecting territory from outsiders a la "Deliverance." "There ain't no help the cavalry stayed at home," he sings, "There ain't no one hearing the bugle blowing" (a veiled reference to Clemons?).

Is it classic Springsteen? Comments are open for your response. But mostly it depends on which Bruce you like: the one who sets out to be the Voice of the People and speak for the 99% a la Woody Guthrie, or the one who goes small and captures the voice of a single character a la "The Ghost of Tom Joad" and "State Trooper." The new song is much more the former than the latter; Springsteen obviously knows what time it is, and it's time to step up and say something big. 

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Bruce Springsteen's 'Wrecking Ball' set for March 6 release

An appreciation: E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to tour again in 2012

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Bruce Springsteen photographed at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., in 2009. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Roger Waters will bring 'The Wall' back to North America in 2012

Roger Waters The Wall
Mr. Waters, rebuild that wall!

Who knows whether former Pink Floyd songwriter-bassist-singer Roger Waters received such a command from on high, but whatever the impetus, the British rocker is returning for another round of shows in North America in which he’ll remount the group’s stage production of the rock opera “The Wall.”

The 2012 “The Wall” tour begins May 1 in Houston and will include 36 shows. It is scheduled to conclude July 14 in Philadelphia. A May 19 date in Los Angeles is slated, but the venue is still listed as TBA on the tour itinerary.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member also is scheduled to visit San Francisco on May 11 and San Diego on May 13.

The 2010 tour was the second-highest-grossing North American tour of the year, having pulled in $89.5 million, a figure topped only by Bon Jovi’s $108.2 million. Waters included stops last year at Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Ticket information will be posted at RogerWaters.com, Ticketmaster.com and LiveNation.com.

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— Randy Lewis

Photo of Roger Waters during 2010 staging of "The Wall" at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Credit: Ricardo de Aratanha / Los Angeles Times.

Rockabilly star Imelda May talks about her top five guitar-toting influences in American music

Imelda may

With a tone and intensity rooted in iconic '50s artists that shaped the stateside rock 'n' roll landscape, Dublin, Ireland-born Imelda May’s career is fostered by paying homage to legends like Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash and, more importantly, furthering rockabilly’s cross-pollination into New Orleans jazz, delta blues and amp-splitting punk aggression. After gaining major spotlight and chart success with 2008's "Love Tattoo," the sound of the howling 37-year-old has turned into an express ticket to festival appearances, headlining gigs and TV appearances all over Europe and North America.

On Monday, as she sat in the green room awaiting her turn to take the stage on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," May spoke to Pop & Hiss about the top five artists whom she says helped shape the soulful, rockabilly hybrid sound that reaches its latest peak with her forthcoming album, “Mayhem,” scheduled for release Tuesday in the U.S., which she’ll be celebrating with a show at the El Rey.

Elvis Presley. It’s only proper that May's list of influences would start with the King. Like so many others all over the world, she remembers being constantly surrounded by Elvis Presley in her native Ireland as it blared on the radio at home in Dublin. The first song she ever learned to play on the guitar were “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and eventually devoured his entire early catalog. But it wasn’t until she actually tried performing his songs live on the local club circuit that she realized how great he really was.

“With great artists like Elvis, sometimes the songs weren’t the greatest thing about him,” May said. “When I tried to perform some of the songs I noticed some of the tunes weren’t all that brilliant, but it was the performance that sold them.”

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Porcelain Black knows she's rock and roll, and doesn't care who says otherwise

Porcelain_black Porcelain Black’s tour bus is pretty standard fare for a would-be rock star: liquor bottles lining a table, an entourage crowding the small quarters, the creature comforts of traveling cross-country. Pretty typical.

Then there are the unclothed Barbie dolls with Cruella de Vil-inspired manes dangling in different poses inside the singer’s private quarters.

“This is what my apartment looks like. There are melted, creepy Barbie dolls that look like me all over the place hanging from chandeliers, graffiti everywhere and life-sized stuffed tigers you can sit on,” she assures, even offering a tiger-esque growl. “I tried to bring a little bit of it on the bus to feel at home.”

Porcelain never dials down her rock edge in conversation. She sports Cruella de Vil's two-toned tresses, as well as leather and lace, and spouts profanity-laced language. She's got an early evening spot as part of Lil Wayne’s “I Am Still Music” tour, which played at Staples Center on Friday.

Born Alaina Beaton, the Detroit native built a robust online following when she recorded under the moniker Porcelain and the Tramps. Her more industrial rock landed her a deal with Virgin Records, one that “just didn’t work out,” and a hard-learned lesson that she carries with her.

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Not Coachella: Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks revive their hits at the Hollywood Bowl

Stewartnicks 
“It's Saturday night, so let's enjoy ourselves,” Rod Stewart suggested from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl, and his typically affable directive raised an important question: On which night of the week exactly does Rod Stewart not enjoy himself?

This 66-year-old English singer, at the Bowl on Saturday for the first of two odd-couple gigs with Stevie Nicks, has spent well over half his life honing a scruffy superstar insouciance. You'd call him a roué if he appeared to put any effort into the pursuit of pleasure; rather, Stewart's style is to encourage pleasure to come to him, which has kept his act remarkably free of the desperation that can sour a show composed, as this one was, of familiar material.

Leading a 13-piece band that included several female instrumentalists wearing red-fringed cocktail dresses, Stewart paired old hits such as “Maggie May” and “Rhythm of My Heart” with covers of even older songs by Sam Cooke and Chuck Berry. The music wasn't bashful about cycling through the styles that have marked the progression of Stewart's career: “Reason to Believe” had stand-up bass and fiddle, and “Young Turks” rode a crisp new wave pulse; later, a disco ball appeared for “Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?”

Whatever he was singing, though, Stewart exuded the same low-impact charm, shuffling across the brightly lighted Bowl stage as though he were on his way to dinner. (He changed colorful suit jackets several times even though he never worked up much of a sweat.) As for the singing itself, Stewart's signature rasp continues to edge toward a wheeze; it wasn't always audible Saturday over the sound of his band's pumped-up accompaniment. No matter: It's unlikely that anything he might have uttered would have said more about Rod Stewart than the sight of his kicking several dozen soccer balls into the crowd during “Hot Legs.”

Performing first at this hometown stop of what she and Stewart are calling the Heart & Soul Tour, Nicks, 62, revealed that she's lost a portion of her vocal range as well: The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman dodged high notes in “Dreams” and “Rhiannon” and took a low harmony line in “Edge of Seventeen,” leaving her backup singers to do the song's heavy melodic lifting.

Yet where Stewart used old-pro stage business to distract us from his limitations, Nicks turned hers into an asset, the rough grain of her voice concentrating the weird imperiousness of her music.

“Stand Back,” “Sorcerer,” “Gold Dust Woman” — these were powerful invocations of a type of mystery we rarely get from artists who've put in as much time as Nicks has in the public eye.

“There's no one that can take my place,” she sang with fists shaking in “Outside the Rain,” and it wasn't desperation she was expressing. It was total confidence.

--Mikael Wood

Photo: Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks take their bows at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday night. Credit: Barbara Davison/Los Angeles Times

 

'American Idol': Finalists salute Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songs that 'shaped' music

IDOL_ROCK

Rock 'n' roll remains one of those tent-pole theme nights on “American Idol,” one that that aging competition would never get rid of -- and for good reason. 

Birthed out of a combination of blues, country, jazz, soul, folk and gospel -- rock 'n' roll, for a lack of better phrasing, is arguably the foundation of American music. 

When a show like “Idol” takes a page from the ole school of rock textbook, it often relegates the contestants to narrowed focuses like artist-specific nights (Elvis, the Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond) or sub-genres such as classic or country rock where hopefuls get awkward leather and lace makeovers as they attempt to imitate rock royalty like Aerosmith, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

For a second time, the show leaned on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for source material. This time the contestants sang songs from a list of 500 the institution deemed as records that “shaped rock and roll.” 

Based on the permanent exhibit by the same name, the tracks were selected by Rock hall curatorial staff along with rock critics and historians and are pegged as “some of rock and roll’s most popular and influential recordings.” 

Zeroing in on a semi-expansive list of songs that shaped the way we know and appreciate rock offered all of the finalists nothing but high praise from the judges.  

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