In 1970, Lou Reed quit the Velvet Underground at the end of a nine-week performance residency at the famous rock club Max’s Kansas City (in New York City), leaving the VU album Loaded recorded but unmixed; and leaving the VU to continue on with none of its original members.
Two years later, Reed released his self-titled, first solo album on RCA records. The album was mostly made up of songs he had written for – and in some cases even performed live with – the Velvet Underground. While the release generated a lot of buzz, it turned out to be a critical and commercial flop. There are some strong songs, but even listening to it today it feels… well, lost. It doesn’t have the bite of the early VU songs like “Heroin,” nor the pop sensibilities of songs like “Sweet Jane.” So with the album as disappointment to everyone including Reed, what to do next?
Reed, for his part, was enamored with ...
“Ain’t No Sunshine”
The song that set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct, no-frills lyric and in-the-pocket groove.
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you."
“Who Is He(and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone of menace and an unrelenting repeated funky riff drives this testament of a jealous lover home.
“Lean on Me”
Bill Withers’ first Number One hit took us to church. "It's a rural song that translates across demographic lines,” Withers recalled. “My experience was, there were people who were that way. They would help you out. Even in the rural South, there were people who would help you out even across racial lines. Somebody who would probably stand in a mob that might lynch you if you pissed them off, would help you out in another way."
“I Can’t Write ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Last night, two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Paul McCartney appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he talked about former Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr. This week Starr learned he was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Starr told the story of how McCartney called to break the big news. "He said he'd been talking to Dave Grohl and other people and they were stunned that I wasn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he needed something to do that night, and he's going to give me the award," said Starr of McCartney's phone call. "I didn't know that George [Harrison] and John [Lennon] were in it," Starr added. "I'm not keeping up with it all the time. We'll have a very nice evening and it'll be my pleasure to receive the award… And it means, finally, the four of us are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame even though we were the biggest pop group in the land."
Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is proud to announce the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees. The Rock Hall's 2015 class includes the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Bill Withers, all in the performer category.
This year's class also recognizes the "5" Royales with the early influences award, and former Beatle and solo artist Ringo Starr enters the Hall of Fame – the last of the Fab Four to be inducted as a soloist, following John Lennon in 1994, Paul McCartney in 1999 and George Harrison in 2004.
“As we mark 30 years of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, we’re proud to honor these artists,” said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President Joel Peresman. "These Inductees epitomize rock and roll’s impact over the past 50 years and continuing through today."
Leading up to the April 18, 2015 ceremony, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will host a series of special events, including the grand opening of the major new 2015 Inductee exhibit, which will serve as an introduction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame visitor ...
Last night, 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Metallica kicked off a week-long residency on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson with "Hit the Lights" – a fitting opening volley as it was also the opening track of the group's furious 1983 debut album Kill 'Em All.
For more than three decades, Metallica has been the standard by which metal's vitality and virtuosity are measured. Led by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, bassist Cliff Burton and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, the group's debut established the thrash metal sound in America.
Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and …And Justice For All
The Metallica albums that immediately followed Kill 'Em All – Ride the Lightning (1984) and Master of Puppets (1986) – showed increasing levels of ambition, intensity and technicality. On the strength of those recordings, the band enjoyed a surge in popularity, but tragedy struck during a headlining tour of Europe. Traveling on an icy road in Sweden, Metallica's tour bus lost control, crashing and instantly killing bassist Burton in September 1986. Fans of Cliff Burton will recognize the 1978 Rickenbacker 4001 bass guitar that is part of the Rock Hall's heavy ...