Over the course of two decades – from 1945 to 1965 – 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee the "5" Royales created a remarkable body of work that laid the foundation for a host of music that followed in its wake. With pivotal recordings and performing techniques that helped define a variety of styles under the rock and roll umbrella, the group is responsible for some of rock's first true standards. Here are my picks for essential listening.
“Bedside of a Neighbor” (1952)
The very first record by the “5” Royales was a variation of the Thomas Dorsey tune “(Standing By the) Bedside of a Neighbor.” It was recorded in August of 1951 and released on Apollo Records in January of 1952 under the name The Royal Sons Quintet. They put in a great vocal performance with the lead sung by John Tanner, but don’t miss the gospel piano played by the group’s friend Royal Abbit.
“Baby Don’t Do It” (1952)
While their contract with Apollo was to record gospel music, the group quickly began recording secular music as well; at first under the name the Royals, and then by the time of this hit song ...
When Percy Sledge first tried to make a record in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the white owner of the area’s first record label refused to work with him. Saying that he preferred to stick with white country and pop artists, the producer slammed the door in the young singer’s face. A few years later, Sledge was the area’s biggest star, with a Number One hit that defined “the Muscle Shoals sound” and helped launch one of the era’s most significant music scenes. Sledge’s spare, aching ballad – the still-iconic “When A Man Loves A Woman” – not only set a musical template for deep soul, but also reflected the unique musical alchemy that made Muscle Shoals and southern soul into an international symbol of cultural change.
Crucial to Sledge’s success, and that of Muscle Shoals soul, was his records’ mixture of black and white. He worked with a mostly-white group of young studio musicians, including producer Rick Hall and fellow Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham, who now embraced the chance to cut records with black artists. Additionally, Sledge was one of the great practitioners of the musical hybrid that became known, appropriately enough, as “country-soul.” Sledge’s ...
“Baby Don’t Do It”
From the first rolling piano chords through the soaring vocals and swinging horn arrangement, this first “5” Royales appearance on the charts signals that they are here to rock and take no prisoners.
“Help Me Somebody”
Starting out as a gospel-tinged slow drag, the “5” Royales throw a double-time curve into the bridge of this song, their second big hit.
“Monkey Hips and Rice”
This song dares you keep your seat, tugging you up to dance to its infectious beat and the compelling interplay between vocal and saxophone.
“When I Get Like This”
The matchless lead vocal on this song is simply stunning, transforming heartbreak and loss into a sonic masterpiece.
This song embodies all of the soul and swagger of the “5” Royales in one catchy, finger-snapping hit, punctuated by Lowman Pauling’s masterful guitar work.
A decidedly exuberant romp that starts out in overdrive and never lets up for a moment – messin’ up was never more fun.
“Dedicated to the One I Love”
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Mamas and the Papas’ and the Shirelles’ versions of this song are put to shame by the “5 ...
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 ...
The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, revered Little Willie John, having opened shows for John early on and later recorded an entire album of his tunes, the 1968 tribute Thinking About Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things. Brown was just but one of many artists of the day who were influenced by John's gospel-charged R&B sound. The likes of Hall of Fame Inductees Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and Al Green all noted a musical debt to the man behind "Fever," and hits including "Sleep," "Talk To Me, Talk To Me" and "Leave My Kitten Alone" – the latter an early Beatles fave.
Spending his formative years raised in Detroit, Michigan, Little Willie John's stature belied his powerful voice. Signed to Syd Nathan's Cincinnati-based King Records in 1955, John cut the haunting, sultry "Fever" in 1956 at the tender age of 18. His smooth style presaged soul music. His delivery was passionate and dramatic, which paired with his melding of styles proved the perfect foil to such evocative lyricism.
Sadly, this polished, passionate artist suffered a sad fate: convicted of manslaughter in a post-gig fracas and sentenced to prison in 1966, he died under disputed circumstances ...
"Bye Bye Love" galvanized not one but three creative teams. Don and Phil Everly were floundering prior to this first hit single. "Bye Bye Love" was also the biggest hit to date for husband-and- wife songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. Last but not least, the pairing of the Bryants with the Everlys yielded a string of rock and roll pearls. The record's enormous success-Top Five on Billboard's country, pop, and R&B charts-followed a series of hurdles. Cadence, the Everlys' label, had rejected them once before but was giving the brothers a second chance. The Bryants' tune had been rejected by numerous artists before the Everlys got hold of it. Perhaps Don Everly's own guitar introduction made a difference; the brothers' close vocal harmonies were certainly new to a non-country audience. Not even a cover version by Webb Pierce-at that time the kiss of death for a country song's original recording-could slow the Everlys' million sales, as "Bye Bye Love" leapt across musical borderlines. The brothers went from tent shows to The Ed Sullivan Show; the era's top vocal duo was off and running.
The Everlys' third hit was their first ballad single. If their ...
Preaching a gospel of tolerance set against a heady genre-blending groove, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Sly and the Family Stone were the integrated multi-gender Pied Pipers of the Woodstock generation. The group's message – and inimitable synthesizing of rock, soul, R&B, funk and psychedelia into a danceable music – helped bring diverse audiences together, with their greatest triumph coming at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. During their unforgettable nighttime set, leader Sly Stone initiated a fevered call-and-response with the audience of 400,000–plus during an electrifying version of “I Want to Take You Higher.” Voters around the world ranked that moment as one of the greatest festival moments of all time, and it is included in the Rock Hall's feature exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience.
The group connected with the rising counterculture by means of songs that addressed issues of personal pride and liberation in the context of driving, insistent and sunny-tempered music that fused rock and soul, creating a template for 70s funk. As proof that they were reaching a rainbow coalition among the young, Sly and the Family Stone dominated the late 60s charts with such essential singles as “Dance to ...
Backed by fellow Rock and Roll Hall of fame inductees Booker T. & the MG’s, Otis Redding put on a devastating set of soul music, some of the finest of its day. Redding was riding a wave of success at the time, but he was known primarily to African-American audiences. Monterey put him in front of the largest white audience of his career to date, and the crowd went crazy. Redding died just six months later, and the performance we have now captured on the Monterey Pop film is one of the high water marks of his career.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will open its latest featured exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience on Friday, April 25, 2014. The exhibition will be an engaging look at the music festival as more than just an outdoor concert, but as a community experience. Whether it‘s forging human bonds, building a sense of community, providing broad exposure for musical artists or as one of the most important economic engines of the music industry, the story of the music festival is inextricably linked with music’s powerful cultural impact around the globe. Visit Common Ground: The Music ...