Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
Last week this feature paid homage to my father. I always post music my Dad either had in his collection or really loved for Father’s Day.
I never know when inspiration for a post will hit me. But this week I thought what if the tables were turned? What if, say, my daughter would someday get her hands on Daddy’s record collection? What might she find?
Let’s explore, shall we. And seeing as I always try to begin with a rousing opener, well, can’t do much better than this.
Edgar Winter is legally blind, more than 85% due to his albinism. As a youngster he couldn’t play sports or sight-read music.
“I didn’t have many friends. You know the way kids naturally are if you’re fat, crippled or in any way defective. They tend to leave you out. So music became my identity and replaced the normal activities that otherwise would have filled my life.”
Winter’s blindness allowed him to develop an ear where he could listen just one time to almost any tune and then play it. He’s a talented keyboardist, saxophone player, drummer, and singer.
“Being albino always gave me a very real sense of individuality” he said in 1974. “Today, in music, a lot of people will do anything to themselves just to set them apart. I guess I’ve had a natural edge on them.”
In 1972 Winter’s band released a double live album. On this track gifted guitarist Rick Derringer does the vocals. With Independence Day right around the corner this somewhat patriotic rocker was done first by Chuck Berry in 1959. Berry was inspired by his return to the United States following a trip to Australia and witnessing the living conditions there. Thus the lyrics saluting drive-ins and corner cafes and jukeboxes.
Rock and Roll!
I’ve blogged about how in the 1990’s when I was working at WTMJ Radio I moonlighted at the WI State Fair doing security at the Main Stage. One night I was dispatched as I had been many times to help close the cream puff area. On the way back to the Main Stage I stopped at the Amphitheater Stage where Edgar Winter was about wrap up his show with his biggest hit, the instrumental “Frankenstein” where the albino plays synthesizer, saxophone, and drums. I wasn’t about to miss that.
Next Thursday is a big day. Well, not around here. But somewhere.
Our next group’s website says:
Recognized as one of the best performing acts of their time, Lighthouse toured 300 days a year including sold out performances at Carnegie Hall, the Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Expo ‘70 in Japan and the Isle of Wight Festival in England. Lighthouse caused such a stir at the Isle of Wight, that thy were the only act asked to perform twice among acts that included The Doors, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, The Who and Chicago. Back home, their free concerts at Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square attracted one hundred thousand people. Indeed, it’s hard to find a person who lived in Canada through the 1970s who didn’t see the group live. They were Canada’s band.
Lighthouse was called “Canada’s Chicago,” a reference to the great American jazz-rock band.
I enjoyed all those horn bands, my favorite being “Blood, Sweat and Tears.” Their second album that actually was self-titled was beyond huge. It went to #1 and stayed there for seven straight weeks and also cranked out three successive Top 5 singles. There also was a Grammy Award for Best Album, beating out the Beatles.
Their follow up album was very good, but couldn’t possibly be as monumental.
Now this next selection is unusual, but demonstrates the musical depth of BS & T. It opens and closes with a music box playing Bela Bartok’s Hungarian Folk Song. There’s a story to tell as well. The hero follows the headmen or tribes across the sea, on foot, to a hidden cave where they have hidden a large treasure. He attempts to steal the loot but the headmen start shooting. But when they have to reload the hero seizes on the moment and gets away.
Done originally by “Traffic” in the late 1960’s, BS & T recorded in 1970.
The album went to #1 and produced two top 30 singles, “Hi-De-Ho”, and “Lucretia MacEvil.”
No one can ever claim Pia Zadora has led a dull life. Her aunt who was with the New York City Opera gave her singing lessons when she was five. Three years later Zadora got a scholarship to Juilliard.
Throughout her childhood Zadora did commercials, films, and industrial theatre in addition to her studies.
“I was the shy little girl, and an only child,” said Zadora. “I was born with a congenital heart condition. In fact, I just had a valve transplant four years ago because of that. Also, my mother couldn’t have another baby, so she kind of overtook me and sheltered me. When I went to school, I was scared of everybody and everything. The nuns thought that I was socially retarded, because my IQ was okay. My doctor suggested that Mom take me to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for weekend children’s courses. You learn to dance, play, and just have fun acting. It brings you out of your shell. I was in a production there, playing the mean little princess! What does that tell you?! Burgess Meredith was scouting for a little girl to star in a Broadway show with Tallulah Bankhead. He asked me to audition, and I got the part. Next thing you know, I’m on Broadway getting great reviews. Agents came after me. Then I’d do another show, and another. I got caught up in that whirlwind.”
Zadora’s first film role was Girmar, a young Martian girl, in 1964’s “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”(Upper right, on the right). She was 11.
Then in 1982 Zadora won a Golden Globe Award as Best New Star of the Year for her work in the movie “Butterfly.” Insiders couldn’t believe Zadora had beaten Elizabeth McGovern and Kathleen Turner. A few months before the Globes ceremony Zadora’s multi-millionaire husband, 30 years her senior, managed to get her an appearance in Playboy and also had her face plastered on billboards all over Sunset Boulevard.
Described as a “cinematic sex tart” and “Brigitte Bardot recycled through a kitchen compactor” Zadora saw her career take a dive.
Golden Raspberry Awards
- Won: Worst New Star, Butterfly (1983)
- Won: Worst Actress, The Lonely Lady (1984)
So in 1985 she switched gears. Like Linda Ronstadt had done in 1983 Zadora turned to singing the standards in a breakout album, “Pia & Phil.” Phil was a reference to the London Philharmonic Orchestra that backed her on the LP.
At the time I was News Director and the local morning newsmagazine host at WUWM Milwaukee Public radio and was contacted to do a phone interview with Zadora to promote her album. Naturally I agreed thinking it would make for a good public radio extended feature.
I found Zadora to be charming, bubbly. And most importantly, she could really sing. A copy of her album was provided that I still have, allowing me to incorporate audio clips in my report. One of the tracks recorded in studio seemed appropriate for Zadora at that point in her career and life, from the movie “Cabaret.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a terrific weekend.
PHOTO: Officer Robert Yocum tells Beatles fans Chelie Mylott, center, and Melody Yapscott to move from their spot in front of the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 23, 1964. They had no tickets but hoped to get them from scalpers or sneak in. This photo ran in the next day’s LA Times. (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)
Bob Eubanks, TV host of “The Newlywed Game” arranged for the Beatles to play at the Hollywood Bowl.
“My business partner, Mickey Brown, and I owned a house together as an investment, and I convinced him it was a good idea to bring in the Beatles,” Eubanks told the LA times in 2014.
“So we borrowed $25,000 against the house to do that show. We had been told it would be impossible to sell out the Bowl in one day, but it sold out in 3 1/2 hours, without computers, without the Internet…a magical time for me…. That 1964 Beatles tour was basically the beginning of the concert business. Not only was it the beginning of a new era in music, it was the beginning of the concert business itself. I feel very blessed to be a part of that.”