In advance of opening the latest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits on March, 13, 2015, the Rock Hall caught up with Chris Isaak for a look back at 1989's "Wicked Game" music video directed by Herb Ritts and featuring supermodel Helena Christensen.
What was the song "Wicked Game" about? Did the on-camera chemistry with supermodel Helena Christensen happen off-camera, too? What was photographer/director Herb Ritts' vision for the video? Chris Isaak answers all those questions and more.
Rock Hall: What was the song "Wicked Game" about?
Chris Isaak: It's about four in the morning, and somebody calling and saying I'm coming over to your house and I thought right after I said okay, I thought I should have never allowed this person to come over to my house. I know what's going to happen.
And I wrote the song between the time I got off the phone and the person came over to visit. It was just about what happens when you have a strong attraction to people that aren't necessarily good for you.
I think it hit a nerve because I think a lot of us ...
Long Island, New York rap crew and Hall of Fame Inductees Public Enemy saw Armageddon everywhere and all of life as a struggle. Adding dissonance, noise and speed to the muscular hip hop of their idols Run-D.M.C., they came on as "Prophets of Rage" with ties to the Nation of Islam and an eye toward revolution.
That's some high-wire act to sustain, but while they walked it, Public Enemy's music was both viscerally and rhetorically scorching. And then they joined forces with a thrash metal group in 1991, recasting their 1987 single "Bring the Noise" as a rap-metal explosion that challenged perceptions and preempted a mainstream surge in rap-rock sounds by more than a decade.
The F**king Jugular of Doubt
"Bring the Noise" first emerged as a rap single from Public Enemy before its inclusion on 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Fittingly, the track's lyrics made arguments for rap's historical connections to rock and roll (Soul control, beat is the father of your rock 'n' roll). The track caught the ear of Anthrax and in 1991 the group recorded a new version with Public Enemy. A ...
This week, millions of music fans, pop culture mavens and dedicated viewers tuned in to the star-studded 2015 Grammy Awards. Over the course of more than three hours, the ceremony offered up a whirlwind of performances – nearly two dozen, in fact – and there were a handful of awards presented, some to Kanye West's chagrin. Throughout it all, there were many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame connections. Did you catch them all?
AC/DC Goes Down a "Highway to Hell"
Although Aussie rockers AC/DC have taken their unmistakable, hard-charging, loud and fiery brand of music-making around the world for more than 40 years, it was the 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees first time on the Grammy stage. The group opened with new track "Rock or Bust" before segueing into classic rock anthem "Highway to Hell" – the same song they played at their 2003 Hall of Fame Induction. Other familiar nods? Angus Young's signature school boy outfit, one of which is also featured in the Rock Hall's heavy metal exhibit alongside the handwritten lyrics to "Highway to Hell."
Hozier and Annie Lennox cover Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You"
Irish songwriter ...
In the pantheon of rock and roll's greatest guitarists, there is a cadre of fabled axemen who consistently bubble to the top, including such Hall of Fame Inductees as Jeff Beck, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, BB King and Jimmy Page – all artists represented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. And no discussion of six-string masters would be complete without Eddie Van Halen, the innovative firebrand that turned the world of guitar playing on its ear in the late 70s and early 1980s. "I was so used to doing old blues licks with the first three fingers," Van Halen once explained to a reporter. "When I started using my pinky and finding more spread things, that's when I started getting my own style." That style went on to influence millions of budding shredders. Here are five tracks that contributed to that influence:
Guitar Solo, from Live Without a Net (1986)
Van Halen went out with something to prove during the live tour for the 5150 album. With new singer Sammy Hagar, the band had to show fans and critics alike that it could keep rocking without Diamond Dave ...
Discover more amazing Clash stories in the Rock Hall's punk rock exhibit and plan your visit today.
Below is an excerpt from Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of the Clash by Randal Doane.
With her Pentax camera in hand, Pennie Smith stepped onto the left wing of the stage of the Palladium, just behind the curtain, and waited for The Clash to return for their encore. It was September 21, 1979, the second of a two-night stint for The Clash in New York City. WNEW-FM, the album-oriented rock station that had recently found felicity in punk and new wave, supplied a live simulcast for the tri-state region. On the opposite stage wing, Richard Neer, the on-air host, gushed: “If you’ve never seen The Clash it’s an experience, I’ll tell you that. I was out front for a bit and it’s so loud. I’m used to loud music but it is loud to the point of real distortion, and the people are just totally enveloped in the music. . . . They’re dancing, they’re jumping up and down and they are just totally into it!” Back onstage, The Clash offered the audience a respite from ...
Released in the Spring of 1971, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On was a transformative recording for Gaye and his Motown label. The nearly operatic concept album mused deeply on such issues as Vietnam, drugs, the decline of northern cities, the economy and the environment, all over a free-flowing musical backdrop that drew on jazz, pop and classical forms. Gaye referred to the album as a “gift from God,” and the album’s spiritual dimension found overt expression in his liner notes: “We’ve got to find the Lord. Allow him to influence us. I mean, what other weapons have we to fight the forces of hatred and evil?” With his inimitable voice, he provided nuanced perspective that immediately resonated with audiences – and has so for generations.
"My phone would ring, and it’d Motown wanting me to start working and I’d say, ‘Have you seen the paper today? Have you read about these kids who were killed at Kent State?’ The murders at Kent State made me sick," explained Marvin ...
Recently, former Black Flag frontman, solo artist and writer Henry Rollins shared his top 10 underground songs of all time with Esquire magazine. So what does that have to do with Cleveland's rock history? Turns out, a lot.
Mid-70s Cleveland was the perfect breeding ground for a band like Pere Ubu. The city had seen better days, and amid the post-industrial bleakness, a group of young creative men formed Pere Ubu. "Ohio was one of the most fertile grounds for what could be called underground music. I could make this list only using bands from this state and do just fine," Rollins said. "David Thomas, Pere Ubu's vocalist and leader of the band to this day, has been making records under the Pere Ubu moniker as well as solo for decades. He is one of my favorite performers, and I see him whenever the opportunity presents itself. The band's early singles are now fairly pricey items... What is true of [the Pere Ubu track] 'Final Solution' is true of this initial batch of Ubu. It is visionary stuff from the schools of rock, what would be called punk, and art, all mixing with time, place, and restless ...
After countless hours researching, interviewing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Simon and collecting for Paul Simon: Words and Music, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum lead curator Craig Inciardi shares some of his favorite things in the new Paul Simon feature exhibit, which opened October 30, 2014.
1. Paul Simon's First Acoustic Guitar
All musicians get their start somewhere. On his 13th birthday, Paul Simon received his first guitar as a gift from his father Louis Simon, who was a musician. His father taught him a few chords and Simon quickly realized that many of the popular songs from the 1950s – the ones he was listening to – used the same chords and patterns. He and childhood friend Art Garfunkel began to write songs using those voicings. The first song they wrote using the Stadium brand acoustic guitar was called “The Girl for Me.”
2. Letter from Paul Simon to Art Garfunkel
Paul Simon wrote this letter dated August 13, 1957, when he was attending summer camp in Bellport, New York. Art Garfunkel was at different summer camp in New Jersey, and it was a pivotal moment in their young lives. They had been singing ...