RIP Charlie Watts

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who helped them become one of the greatest bands in rock ‘n’ roll, has died at the age of 80. “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” a statement said. It said he was “a cherished husband, father and grandfather” and “one of the greatest drummers of his generation”. Tributes have come from stars including The Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr, and Sir Elton John. The news came weeks after it was announced that Watts would miss the band’s US tour dates to recover from an unspecified medical procedure. Watts was previously treated for throat cancer in 2004. Watts died in a London hospital on 24 August 2021, at the age of 80.

He had been a member of the Stones since January 1963, when he joined Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones in their fledgling group. Watts helped them become, with The Beatles, one of the bands who took rock ‘n’ roll to the masses in the 60s with classics like (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Get Off My Cloud and Sympathy for the Devil. Watts, along with Jagger and Richards, are the only band members to have been featured on all of their studio albums. He cited jazz as a major influence on his drumming style. He toured with his own group, the Charlie Watts Quintet, and appeared in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club with the Charlie Watts Tentet.

In 2006, Watts was elected into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame; in the same year, Vanity Fair elected him into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was ranked 12th on Rolling Stones “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” list. n 1989, The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watts did not attend the ceremony. In the July 2006 issue of Modern Drummer magazine, Watts was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, joining Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Steve Gadd, Buddy Rich, and other highly esteemed and influential drummers from the history of rock and jazz.

On 14 October 1964, Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd (born 11 September 1938), whom he had met before the band became successful. The couple had one daughter, Seraphina, born in March 1968, who in turn gave birth to Watts’s only grandchild, a girl named Charlotte. Watts lived near Dolton, a rural village in west Devon, where he owned an Arabian horse stud farm. In June 2004, Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer, despite having quit smoking in the late 1980s, and underwent a course of radiotherapy. The cancer went into remission. On 5 August 2021, it was reported that Watts had elected to sit out the resumption of the U.S. No Filter Tour due to an unspecified medical procedure, and that Steve Jordan would temporarily replace him on drums.

The Lack Of Black Female Singers In My Music Collection

As a big time music fan, I can proudly say that I have a very varies list of artists that I listen to. Even though what I love most is hard rock & heavy metal (and you can add Blues to that list) I also listen to some pop artists, some jazz, Flamenco & Rhumba Flamenco, some classical etc. At one point, many years ago (I think 1997-98) I was thinking that I barely had any female singers in my list and actively sought out some female singers and in a few years, I had added so many that I love and listen to. However I noticed one thing. I have a noticeable lack of Black female singers in my collection.

Black female singers – here is the problem – that I have heard out tend to be either hip-hop or rnb & pop. Rarely have I ever heard of a current blues or rock singer and she happens to be Black. None that I know from Canada, The UK or the US or any other place. I recently took a look on Google to see a list of top 50 Black Female Singers or most influential. And from that list even if I do like some of them and have heard of some of their songs, I do not have any of their albums. Even classy ladies like Aretha Franklin or Donna Summer – I like them and respect them and even know a few of their songs but, not enough to have even one album of theirs.

From my childhood to now, I like some songs from Whitney Houston, Sade (my sister liked her a lot more), Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Natalie Cole, Toni Braxton, a couple of songs of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight & Vanessa Williams. And as far as musical bands go, I do like maybe a song or two from TLC Salt n’Pepa & En Vogue. I must state again – the songs I like from these artists wouldn’t be fill an album’s worth – each! But then I do like a couple of singers more than the ones I have mentioned here.

Up first is Tracy Chapman! A multi-platinum and four-time Grammy Award winning artist who first burst onto the scene in 1988 and took the music world by storm with a simple song musically that reverberated with millions across the world. So much so that Fast Car is still played in heavy rotation on many radio stations. 

Known for her hits “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason”, along with other singles “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution”, “Baby Can I Hold You”, and “Crossroads” she has toured the world, won thousands of critical acclaim and won millions of heart for her soulful voice and soothing melodies. Her last studio album came out in 2008 and she has been out of the public eye for long before her 2015 performance of  Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” on  the Late Show with David Letterman in April 2015 went viral winning her even more fans. In 2015, Chapman released Greatest Hits, consisting of 18 tracks including the live version of “Stand by Me”,

And then there is Tina! Simply the best Tina! Tina Turner, though born and raised an American and has had American citizenship for most of her life is now a Swiss miss! A singer, song writer, actress & widely referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, she is regarded as one of the greatest music artists of the 20th century. Turner rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue before launching a successful career as a solo performer.

Turner began her career with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm in 1957. Under the name Little Ann she appeared on her first record, “Boxtop”, in 1958. In 1960, she was introduced as Tina Turner with the hit single “A Fool in Love”. The duo went on to become “one of the most formidable live acts in history”. They released hits such as “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”, “River Deep – Mountain High”, the Grammy-winning “Proud Mary”, and “Nutbush City Limits” before disbanding in 1976.

In the 1980s, Turner launched “one of the greatest comebacks in music history”. From 1984 multi-platinum album Private Dancer contained the hit song “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became her first and only No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. At age 44, she was the oldest female solo artist to top the Hot 100. She established herself as an icon & a legend rocking with the best and lighting the stage on fire with her presence.

Having achieved more than most artists every dream of the now 81 year old has been mostly focusing on her Buddist beliefs and settling in her home in Switzerland. She even gave up her American citizenship and had at she had been working on Tina, a musical based on her life story, in collaboration with Phyllida Lloyd and Stage Entertainment and in 2021  Turner appeared in the documentary film Tina directed by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin.

RIP Dusty Hill

Joseph “Dusty” Hill, ZZ Top’s bassist for more than 50 years, has died, the group’s longtime rep confirmed. No cause of death was cited. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of ZZ Top, in 2004. The band’s Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard issued a statement: “We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX. We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’ “You will be missed greatly, amigo.”

Earlier this month, Gibbons and Beard played their first performances without Hill in more than 50 years, stating that the bassist had been forced to seek medical attention “to address a hip issue,” according to a statement, although his ailment was apparently more serious than they let on. While ZZ Top was best known for their synthesizer-powered 1980s hits, they were a thoroughly Texan, heavy rock-blues band at heart, spawned from the same psychedelic scene that birthed Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators but keeping things roots and rocking throughout their more than 50-year career, even as they incorporated synthesized rhythms into their sound in the 1980s.

Hill was born in Dallas in 1949 and played cello in high school, which made for an easy transition to electric bass. He, his guitarist brother Rocky and future fellow ZZ Top bandmate Frank Beard, a drummer, played in local bands such as the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers and American Blues, working the same Texas touring circuits as ace guitarist Billy Gibbons’ band, the Moving Sidewalks. The brothers parted company in 1968 over musical differences, and Hill and Beard moved to Houston, where they eventually united with Gibbons in ZZ Top.

Gibbons had formed the band in 1969 and recorded a one-off independent single produced by manager Bill Ham, who would remain with them for decades. The act’s original bassist introduced the guitarist to Beard; Hill would join Gibbons and Beard for a gig in Beaumont, TX, on Feb. 10, 1970. The lineup remained the same for more than five decades: They celebrated their 50th anniversary at a San Antonio concert in February 2020.

Hill’s on-screen appearances include Back to the Future Part IIIMother Goose Rock ‘n’ RhymeWWE Raw and Deadwood, and as himself in the 11th-season episode of King of the Hill, “Hank Gets Dusted”, in which Hank Hill is said to be Dusty’s cousin. He also made an appearance on The Drew Carey Show as himself auditioning for a spot in Drew’s band, but is rejected because of his attachment to his trademark beard which he refers to as a ‘Texas Goatee’.

How Rock Bands Got Their Names – 4

The Rolling Stones – It’s easy to picture the Rolling Stones offering a very hearty thank you to Muddy Waters when they sat in with the legendary bluesman at Buddy Guy’s Chicago-based Checkerboard Lounge in November 1981. After all, they took their now-iconic band name from Waters’ 1950 song “Rollin’ Stone.”

Rush : Rush’s original bassist and lead vocalist was replaced shortly after they formed in 1968 by Geddy Lee, a schoolmate of Alex Lifeson’s. Their first official incarnation – featuring Lee, Lifeson and John Rutsey – wouldn’t lock into place until May 1971. “Rush” was suggested by Rutsey’s brother, Bill.

Scorpions : It’s widely believed that the band initially chose the name Scorpions because it sounded particularly tough and dangerous. Still, they almost ended up being known as Dawn Road. In the mid-’70s, members from Dawn Road and an earlier incarnation of Scorpions combined and briefly considered using one name or the other. They ultimately decided to use the Scorpions because it was already well known in the German hard-rock scene. Unknowing fans often use “the” in conjunction with this band’s name (e.g. “The Scorpions”), but it’s simply Scorpions.

Styx : Styx is the river that runs into hell in Greek mythology. While it might seem like a more appropriate name for a metal band than the Styx you’ve come to know, be advised that A) they were rather more rocking at the time, and B) it was the early ‘70s.

Toto : The story goes that drummer Jeff Porcaro randomly scribbled the name on the then-unnamed band’s earliest demos just to have some kind of identifying mark. Seeing the name on the tapes, bassist David Hungate remarked that “in toto” was Latin for “as a whole” or “all encompassing,” and the band was sold on it.

How Rock Bands Got Their Names – 3

Metallica : Lars Ulrich’s friend Ron Quintana was brainstorming titles for a new metal music fanzine, and had proposed ‘MetalMania’ and ‘Metallica.’ When Metallica was abandoned as a possible title, Ulrich snapped it up for the band he’d just formed. ‘Metal Massacre I,’ a 1982 compilation album, featured Metallica’s first recorded track – but early pressings listed the band incorrectly as “Mettallica.”

Motley Crue : Mötley Crüe bassist and founder NIkki Sixx considered naming the band Christmas, but the other members hated it. While brainstorming, guitarist Mick Mars remembered that while playing with a band called White Horse, a bandmate referred to his group as “a motley looking crew.” Mars scribbled the name down as Mottley Cru. After tweaking the spelling for full rock potential, “Mötley Crüe” was eventually selected. The two metal umlauts were allegedly added by singer Vince Neil, who had been inspired by the German beer Löwenbräu.

Motorhead : “Motorhead” is actually used in reference to amphetamine users. The band’s name is usually printed in a lowercase with an umlaut character ö, which is possibly derived from the similar “heavy metal umlaut” in the name of their 1975 acquaintances Blue Öyster Cult. It should be noted, the umlaut is not grammatically necessary and does not alter the pronunciation of Motorhead’s name.

Rainbow : Deep Purple veteran Ritchie Blackmore began recording with Ronnie James Dio in 1973, using Dio’s band Elf as additional musicians – but still in search of their own name. They ultimately turned to the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood for inspiration. Using a rotating group of musicians, Rainbow remained active through 1984, and reformed between 1993-97 before Blackmore resurrected the band again in 2015.

REO Speedwagon : Named for manufacturer Ransom Eli Olds, the REO Speed Wagon was introduced in 1915 as a groundbreaking predecessor of the pickup truck. Fast forward to 1967, and keyboardist Neal Doughty learns of the name, taking it for his newly formed band. “I sometimes say that’s the only thing I learned in college,” Doughty has said. “I was in a class which studied the history of transportation – and one day I walked in and ‘REO Speed Wagon’ was written on the blackboard.”

RIP Robby Steinhardt

Robby Steinhardt, violinist and co-lead vocalist of the rock outfit Kansas, died Saturday, July 17th. He was 71. Steinhardt’s wife, Cindy Steinhardt, confirmed his death on Facebook. Cindy said Steinhardt was admitted to the hospital with acute pancreatitis in May. Not long after, he went into acute septic shock and was placed on life support, and although the outlook was “very grave” at the time, he managed to recover. However, several months later, just as he was about to be released from medical care and moved to a rehab center, Steinhardt suffered another sepsis.

Kansas issued a statement as well, saying, “The members of the band Kansas, past and present, wish to express our deepest sorrow over the death of our bandmate and friend, Robby Steinhardt. Robby will always be in our souls, in our minds, and in our music. What he brought to us as bandmates, to the fans who attended our concerts, and to the sound of Kansas, will always be heartfelt.”

Steinhardt was born May 25th, 1950 in Chicago, and was adopted by his parents, Ilsa and Milton Steinhardt, when he was four days old. One year later, as a biography on Steinhardt’s website notes, the family relocated to Lawrence, Kansas, where Milton worked as a music professor.

Steinhardt grew up playing and studying classical violin, but in 1972, he joined a fledgling rock based out of Topeka, then known as White Clover. White Clover had existed in several forms already, and had even previously used the name Kansas I. At the time Steinhardt joined, the lineup featured Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, and Rich Williams, while Kerry Livgren joined soon after. Steinhardt shared vocal duties with Walsh, with the pair switching between backup and lead; but it was Steinhardt’s violin that helped distinguish Kansas’ sound from other bands.

In 1973, the band scored a record deal and officially settled on the name Kansas. The following year, they released their self-titled debut, and over the next few years, they developed a dedicated audience through constant touring and several more well-received albums. Kansas’ mainstream breakthrough came in 1976 with Leftoverture, which featured the hit single and future classic rock staple, “Carry on My Wayward Son.” Kansas scored their second major hit the following year with “Dust in the Wind,” which appeared on their album, Point of Know Return.

After their Seventies success, Kansas experienced a series of shakeups in the Eighties, first with the departure of Walsh, and then Steinhardt in 1982. Between 1982 and 1997, Steinhardt and Rick Moon played together in the group Steinhardt Moon, while Steinhardt also played with the Stormbringer Band in the Nineties. Steinhardt rejoined Kansas in the late-Nineties but left the group again in 2006.

How Rock Bands Got Their Names – 2

Dire Straits : Brothers David and Mark Knopfler, along with friends John Illsley and Pick Withers, formed Dire Straits – choosing a name believed to originate from a suggestion by a musician flatmate of Withers’. He allegedly plucked it out of thin air while they were rehearsing in the kitchen of a friend, before Dire Straits recorded a five-song demo tape under the name in 1977.

Iron Maiden : Iron Maiden were formed on Christmas Day 1975 by bassist Steve Harris shortly after he left his previous group, Smiler. Harris attributes the band’s name to a film adaptation of ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. The title reminded him of the iron maiden, a notorious torture device from the Dark Ages.

Jefferson Airplane / Starship : In ‘60s-era San Francisco, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Moby Grape ruled the day, so it wasn’t unusual for a band to call itself something like Blind Lemon Jefferson Airplane – playing off the name of bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson. If anything, shortening it to Jefferson Airplane was an impressive display of concision. When naming a later, revamped version of the band, they changed again to reflect the late Paul Kantner’s sci-fi obsession.

Judas Priest : Early member Bruno Stapenhill pitched this moniker to original frontman Al Atkins after hearing “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” by Bob Dylan. “I remember telling Al, ‘What do you think of that for a name?'” Stapenhill later said. “I mean, he was never really into Bob Dylan and he says, ‘Oh, that’s a great name.’ And that how it came about.”

Led Zeppelin : The Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle joined Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on the Jeff Beck single “Beck’s Bolero” in the summer of 1966 – leading to studio chatter about the prospect of forming a new group. Moon – or perhaps Entwistle – joked that it would go over like a lead balloon. While trying to come up with a name for a new group featuring Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant two years later, Page remembered the quip – and they became Led Zeppelin.

RIP Jeff LaBar

Jeff LaBar, best known as the guitarist for glam metal band Cinderella, has died. His son Sebastian confirmed the news on Wednesday via a social media post. He was 58. The cause of death was not disclosed. Labar’s first wife, Gaile Labar-Bernhardt, told TMZ  that he was found dead Wednesday inside his Nashville apartment. LaBar linked up with Cinderella in 1985, after founding guitarist Michael Schermick departed. He joined the Philadelphia band as they were signing to Mercury/Polygram and remained in the band through 2017. In 1986, they released their debut album, Night Songs. The LP’s breakthrough single “Nobody’s Fool” reached Number 13 and the album hit Number 3 on the Billboard 200. They subsequently toured with Poison, David Lee Roth, and Bon Jovi.

Their sophomore album, 1988’s Long Cold Winter, contained their biggest hit, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).” The power ballad hit Number 12 on Billboard Hot 100. The LP tipped to frontman Tom Keifer’s penchant for blues rock, which continued to flavor their final two albums, 1990’s Heartbreak Station and 1994’s Still Climbing. In between, Keifer lost his voice due to vocal cord issues. Cinderella went on hiatus in 1995. A year later, they returned for a tour and a greatest hits compilation. They continued to tour in the early 2000s and in 2006, they marked their 20th anniversary of their debut album, alongside Poison.

Keifer’s vocal cord issues derailed another planned tour in 2008, but they resumed hitting the road a few years later, which included a 25th anniversary tour in 2011, and a rock cruise in 2013. In 2017, after years of inaction, Keifer announced that Cinderella would not reunite. LaBar also worked on side projects, including one with Cinderella bandmate Eric Brittingham called Naked Beggars, though he parted ways with the group in 2007. LaBar released his debut solo album, One for the Road, in 2014. He played all of the instruments except the drums on the LP. During Cinderella’s temporary break-up in the mid-1990s, LaBar supported himself by running a pizza shop with his brother and by doing assorted construction jobs.

In an interview from 2016, LaBar admitted to having a substance abuse problem with alcohol for years, and blamed the substance abuse for Cinderella’s inactivity. LaBar leaves behind his wife Debinique and has a son named Sebastian from a previous marriage. Sebastian is the lead guitarist in a band called Mach22 and Tantric.

How Rock Bands Got Their Names

Black Sabbath : Originally known as the Earth Blues Company, they later shortened it to Earth – then discarded that name altogether, because another band was already using it. They settled on Black Sabbath after attaching the title – which had earlier been used for a 1963 film starring Boris Karloff – to a spooky new song inspired by an apparition seen by bassist Geezer Butler.

Buffalo Springfield : When Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay’s triple-threat singer-songwriter assault hooked up with rhythm section Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer to make rock ‘n’ roll history, everybody else on the West Coast was coming up with weird, fanciful band names. They instead chose theirs from a random brand of steamroller that Stills and Furay saw outside the place where they were living.

Deep Purple : These British rockers had been calling themselves Roundabout, before the Yes song of the same name. At guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s suggestion, they changed it to Deep Purple after a song that went back to the big-band era. It was first cut by the Paul Whiteman band in the ’30s.

Def Leppard : Singer Joe Elliott initially coined the name “Deaf Leopard” while writing reviews for imaginary rock bands in his high-school English class. Tony Kenning, percussionist for the band’s original lineup, suggested modifying the spelling to make the name seem less “punk.”

Guns N’ Roses : Hollywood Rose member Izzy Stradlin spent some time in the mid-’80s as roommates with L.A. Guns member Tracii Guns. When L.A. Guns needed a new singer, Hollywood Rose’s Axl Rose came aboard. This led to the 1985 formation of Guns N’ Roses, a combined lineup that featured Rose, Stradlin and Guns, along with Ole Beich and Rob Gardner. Melding the names of both previous groups proved to be a much better call than rejected suggestions, which included Heads of Amazon and AIDS.

Flamenco Guitar: From Andalusia To You

A flamenco guitar is a guitar similar to a classical guitar but with thinner tops and less internal bracing. It usually has nylon strings, like the classical guitar, but it generally possesses a livelier, more gritty sound compared to the classical guitar. It is used in toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of flamenco.

The traditional flamenco guitar is made of Spanish cypress, sycamore, or rosewood for the back and sides, and spruce for the top. This (in the case of cypress and sycamore) accounts for its characteristic body color. Flamenco guitars are built lighter with thinner tops than classical guitars, which produces a “brighter” and more percussive sound quality. Builders also use less internal bracing to keep the top more percussively resonant. The top is typically made of either spruce or cedar, though other tone woods are used today. Volume has traditionally been very important for flamenco guitarists, as they must be heard over the sound of the dancers’ nailed shoes. To increase volume, harder woods, such as rosewood, can be used for the back and sides, with softer woods for the top.

Flamenco is played somewhat differently from classical guitar. Players use different posture, strumming patterns, and techniques. Flamenco guitarists are known as tocaores and flamenco guitar technique is known as toque. Flamenco players tend to play the guitar between the sound hole and the bridge, but as closely as possible to the bridge, to produce a harsher, rasping sound quality. Unlike classical tirando, where the strings are pulled parallel to the soundboard, in flamenco apoyando strings are struck towards the soundboard in such way that the striking finger is caught and supported by the next string, hence the name apoyando (from Spanish apoyar meaning “to support”). At times, this style of playing causes the vibrating string to gently touch the frets along its length, causing a more percussive sound.

While a classical guitarist supports the guitar on the left leg, and holds it at an incline, flamenco guitarists usually cross their legs and support the guitar on whichever leg is on top, placing the neck of the guitar nearly parallel to the floor. The different position accommodates the different playing techniques. Many of the tremolo, golpe, and rasgueado techniques are easier and more relaxed if the upper right arm is supported at the elbow by the body of the guitar rather than by the forearm as in classical guitar. Nonetheless, some flamenco guitarists use classical position.

My fav flamenco style guitars are : Vincent Amigo, Ottmar Liebert, Paco De Lucia, Oscar Lopez, Johannes Lindsted & Jesse Cook!