Tag Archives: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Born Under a Bad Sign – Albert King

23 Jan
Albert King

Albert King

When the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame announced 2013’s inductees, one name stuck out to me as well deserving of the honor. That’s not to say that I am not happy for Rush, Heart, and the other bands and artists who are being inducted, but The Velvet Bulldozer stands out. Albert King (one of the 4 kings of blues guitar) will be posthumously inducted into the Hall, and, if he was still alive today, I’m sure he would accept it with amicable poise.

Before we talk a little bit about Albert King’s impact on music, it is important to know that King was a true musician. He was a wonderfully kind individual and when he hit the stage he put all things aside and just played music. He loved music. He loved the guitar. His passion for melody and harmony was apparent in his playing, and his infectious, friendly personality made him beloved on and off the stage.

King’s career traversed the 1960s. He first played professionally with The Groove Boys from Arkansas and then moved around the midwest during the 1950s hooking up with various musicians and labels. What remained consistent was his Flying V guitar (as you see above) which, like George Harrison, he named Lucy.

In 1961, King landed his first major hit, “Don’t Throw Your Love on Me So Strong,” which reached number 14 on the Billboard R&B chart. He released his first album The Big Blues in 1962. Ike Turner played piano on the studio version of “Don’t Throw Your Love on Me So Strong,” which is track seven on the album. Listen to it below:

Classic electric blues. King’s voice is velvety with excellent vibrato. His guitar skill is evident. The man knew how to get feeling out of his Lucy, and his clean, bright and whiny playing style has been imitated by those he has inspired (Derek Trucks, Joe Walsh, etc.).

After the release of The Big Blues, King’s popularity continued rising in the Midwest and, in 1966, he rode that popularity to Stax records where he signed in 1966. There, with the widely influential Booker T & the MGs, he recorded premier blues tracks, including his most famous track, “Born Under a Bad Sign.” The track, also the name of his first album with Stax, helped propel him to all of America and other countries.

“Born Under a Band Sign” is a unique song because of King’s unique guitar, which bathes ears with an authentic twang. The looping bass line carries the song, and the horns further accentuate the song’s comfortable bluesy power.

Finally Getting a Little Respect – Hall of Fame Inductions – The Comets

13 Feb

When Otis Redding sang about “Respect” on his seminal album Otis Blue in 1965, he was backed by some members of the STAX records house band, Booker T and the M.G.’s (and a 23-year-old Isaac Hayes). In 1992, one of the most famous house bands to ever put their sound to records (they were the southern soul version of Motown’s northern soul Funk Brothers), was elected to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. There was no doubt that they earned that respect.

But, for too long, backing bands have been left off of the induction list of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and this annual controversial decision continued to anger music lovers. Thankfully, the Hall of Fame has finally admitted their mistake and added several backing bands that deserve their R-E-S-P-E-C-T (and yes, I know Aretha added that to the chorus in her 1967 version).

This year, the hall will honor Gene Vincent’s The Blue Caps, Bill Haley’s Comets, Buddy Holly’s Crickets, James Brown’s Famous Flames, Hank Ballard’s Midnighters, and Smokey Robinson’s Miracles. If you remember back to 1987 when Smokey was elected into the hall, there was a huge controversy because the Miracles, a pretty damn important part to the success of the band, was not elected with him. Artists are eligible for nomination 25 years after their debut release.

“These Inductees are pioneers in the development of the music we call rock and roll,” said Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “As part of our mission to recognize the most impactful, innovative and influential artists in rock, the committee brought forth these six groups that belong in the Hall of Fame.”

All I can say is the process to get some of these instrumental backing bands into the hall was arduous, but thankfully it is coming to fruition because they totally deserve it. Joining them at this year’s induction are:

Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns N’ Roses, Laura Nyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Small Faces/The Faces, Freddie King, Don Kirshner, Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns. Thank you Rolling Stone for the neat list.

I am happy for all of the backing bands being honored. The Miracles deserved the honor with Smokey 25 years ago, but they will get it now. The Crickets (and all of the rockabilly and music world) would have been forever transformed if Holly didn’t die in a plane crash. While music was certainly changing and the British Invasion was on the horizon, I stand firm to my belief that Holly and his Crickets could have become the biggest band in the world for a long time if, as Don McLean eloquent states, Holly didn’t take the last train for the coast. Do you know who I’m really psyched for, though? These guys:

The Comets

Bill Haley and His Comets do not get enough credit for sparking the rock n’ roll craze in the United States AND abroad. They formed in 1952 when orchestral ballads topped the charts. The Comets took old-fashioned blues music and transformed it into a lively mix of brass and guitar. I do believe one can credit the Comets as being one of the first acts to successfully market this blend and I stand by my statement that “Rock Around the Clock,” written as a 12-bar-blues song by Max Freedman and Jimmy De Knight, is one of the most important rock n’ roll songs ever recorded. It served as an anthem to 50’s youth and was one of the first rock n’ roll songs I fell in love with.

So a big congratulations to:

JOEY AMBROSE, Saxophone
FRANNY BEECHER, Guitar
JOHNNY GRANDE, Piano
MARSHALL LYTLE, Bass
DICK RICHARDS, Drums

You all deserve this honor big time. Now let’s rattle some pots and pans and rock around the clock.

Yes. When we look back on music 50 years from now, people will hopefully proudly say this is simply Rock n’ Roll!

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