Inspired by the January 28 birthdays of Rakim, Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs, Gene McFadden and Steps’ Lee Latchford-Evans; and the January 29 birthdays of Tommy Ramone, Bettye LaVette, Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame and Adam Lambert.
Tag Archives: Sex Pistols
In October of 1975, the band Queen played for their manager, John Reid, a song they recently finished recording that they wanted to release as their next single. Reid told them the track would not get any airplay. He played it for another artist he managed, Elton John, who reportedly said “Are you mad? You’ll never get that on the radio!”
Queen stayed firm, not relenting when their record company begged them to at least edit the song down from its nearly six-minute duration.
To promote the song, the band was invited to play on England’s hugely successful Top of the Pops television program. They were unable to appear due to tour commitments, so they did something that wasn’t very common in 1975 – they filmed a videoclip. Top of the Pops aired the clip. As the song rose up the charts, the video was shown repeatedly. Soon other artists in the UK made videos for their records, which is why when MTV launched in the United States in 1981, many of the clips they aired were of UK acts.
The single, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” went to #1 in England in December of that year, where it stayed for nine weeks. It got knocked from the top spot by a song whose title consisted of a phrase used in “Bohemian Rhapsody” – ABBA’s “Mamma Mia.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit #1 again there in December of 1991, a few weeks after the death of the band’s lead singer and the song’s composer, Freddie Mercury.
In the United States, the song didn’t go to #1, but it did hit the top ten in 1976 and 1992.
For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, Tunes du Jour revisits 1976 (part I can be found here), kicking off with the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
On March 28, 1958, 19-year-old Eddie Cochran recorded a song he co-wrote with his manager, Jerry Capeheart, called “Summertime Blues.” It was intended to be the b-side of a single whose a-side, “Love Again,” was written by 17-year-old Sharon Steely, who soon became Cochran’s girlfriend. Liberty Records released the 45 with “Summertime Blues” as the a-side. Five months after he recorded it, Cochran had his first U.S. top ten single. In the fall of 1958, the record became a hit in England.
Besides singing and co-writing the song, Cochran produced it. His talents didn’t stop there. He could play piano, drums, bass and guitar, the latter of which he played on records by two dozen other acts.
Cochran’s popularity overseas led to a hugely successful tour of England in the spring of 1960, culminating on April 16 with a performance at the Hippodrome Theater in Bristol. On his way to the airport after the show, Cochran got into a cab with Steely, who was now his fiancée, his tour manager, Patrick Thompkins, and fellow performer Gene Vincent. The taxi driver was speeding on a dark and winding street. The car blew a tire and the driver lost control of the vehicle, crashing it into a lamppost. Cochran put himself over his fiancée to protect her and ended up being thrown from the car. Suffering a severe head injury, he was brought to the hospital. The following afternoon he was pronounced dead. He was just 21 years old.
Eddie Cochran’s time with us was far too short, but his legacy lives on. “Summertime Blues” is an undeniable rock and roll classic, covered by many artists of different genres, including The Who, Alan Jackson, Blue Cheer, The Beach Boys, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Olivia Newton-John. Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody” was later recorded by Sex Pistols, and his “Twenty Flight Rock” was played by a teenage Paul McCartney at his audition for a teenage John Lennon to let McCartney join Lennon’s band, The Quarreymen.
Today is Throwback Thursday, and Tunes du Jour revisits some of the hits of 1958, kicking off with Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.”
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I don’t know what to make of John Lydon, formerly Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. I read that he is a firm believer in women’s rights. However, during a 2013 interview with a female television hostess he told her to shut up and not interrupt when a man is speaking. I read that he is a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage. However, in a 2012 interview with The New Yorker he said gay marriage is “stupid.” Back in 2001 on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect program he said gay men want to be woman, lesbians are dark and terrible and mocked transgender folks. He claims to be fiercely opposed to racism. However, singer Kele Okereke, who is black and gay, claims that racist epithets were hurled at him when he tried to meet his then-idol Lydon following a 2008 performance at Barcelona’s Summercase festival.
Part of his saying such things may be to draw attention to himself. After all, who’s been paying attention to any of his musical output over the past couple of decades? That’s not a good reason, though. He has demonstrated his intelligence and thoughtfulness on many occasions. I get that he finds political correctness confining, but that doesn’t mean that being an asshole is the best alternative. Am I asking too much of a man who introduced himself to the world as Rotten?
Today Lydon turns 59. I’ll separate these twenty fine recordings from the jerk who sang on them.
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In the early days of London’s punk rock movement, around 1976, there were no punk clubs per se, so the punks needed somewhere to congregate where they can be who they are and dress how they dress without fear of being hassled. They found such a place at Club Louise, a lesbian bar that also welcomed gay men and punks, just off Oxford Street in London’s Soho district. Billy Idol hung out there every night. Other regulars included Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, Siouxsie Sioux, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, members of The Clash and members of The Slits. Writes Billy Idol in his recently-released autobiography Dancing With Myself, “[Louise’s] was a much-needed haven. Back then, the way we dressed would have started a riot if we had set foot in any normal club or pub.”
Idol discusses Louise’s as ground zero for the punks’ plans. “We all congregated there, drinking and socializing, plotting our rebellion. It was our midnight meeting place, our sanctuary. We all walked the same path at that time. Many of the classic-rock bands talked about musicianship but had little to offer us, the disenfranchised and disenchanted… As the gay ladies danced and loved one another, we devised our plans and consolidated a movement. By being like-minded, we ruled the night. We would rock London to its core. The lesbian bar was our spiritual ‘upper room,’ and we, the new aristocracy of the poor, knighted with fire, sallied forth and followed Johnny Rotten into the unknown!”
New York City’s punk scene was similar. Club 82, a drag queen/transsexual bar, was one of the few public places where punks could perform in the early to mid-1970s. The club always welcomed the outcasts, so the punks were part of the family. Other gay bars opened their doors to punks as well. These not only were places that accepted those who are “different;” gay bars also were places where people could experiment with their appearance.
Idol explains the bond between the punk rockers and the LGBT populations by quoting a figure from American history. “Benjamin Franklin once offered advice to his fellow revolutionaries: ‘We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.’ We were a small group of people bored with the repeated clichés of modern life and its stagnant, putrid waters. That is what brought us — and ultimately bonded us — together.”
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Our playlist kicks off with “SOS,” a favorite of John Lennon, Ray Davies and Pete Townshend, who called it “the best pop song ever written.” It inspired the main riff of The Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant.” My favorite piece of trivia about the song – it is the only record to hit the Hot 100 where both the song title and the artist performing the song are palindromes.
Enjoy this playlist of tunes on which Agnetha handled lead vocals.