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Did You Know?

LOU REED

  • In May 2013, Lou Reed underwent a liver transplant in Cleveland. Afterwards he claimed on his website to be “bigger and stronger” than ever. On October 27, 2013, Reed died at the age of 71 from liver disease at his home in Southampton, New York, on Long Island.
  • The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed’s first band, were a commercial failure in the late 1960s, but the group has gained a considerable cult following in the years since its demise and has gone on to become one of the most widely cited and influential bands of the era — hence Brian Eno‘s famous quote that while the Velvet Underground’s debut album only sold 30,000 copies, “Everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”
  • The Velvet Underground & Nico”, the group’s debut album, is now widely considered one of the most influential rock albums ever recorded. Rolling Stone has it listed as the 13th most influential album of all time.

LINDA RONSTADT

  • Linda Ronstadt was backed by many great musicians over her careers, including  Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, who went on to form the Eagles. They toured with her for a short period in 1971 and played on Linda Ronstadt, her self-titled third album.
  • Referred to as “First Lady of Rock” and the “Queen of Rock”, Linda Ronstadt was voted the Top Female Pop Singer of the 1970s. Her rock-and-roll image was equally as famous as her music, appearing six times on the cover of Rolling Stone, as well as Newsweek and Time covers.
  • n 2011, Linda Ronstadt was interviewed by the Arizona Daily Star and announced her retirement. In August 2013, she revealed to AARP that she has Parkinson’s disease, and can no longer “sing a note”.

CAT STEVENS

  • Thinking that his given name might not be memorable to prospective fans, he chose a stage name Cat Stevens, in part because a girlfriend said he had eyes like a cat, but mainly because he said, “I couldn’t imagine anyone going to the record store and asking for ‘that Steven Demetre Georgiou album’. And in England, and I was sure in America, they loved animals.”
  • For seven months from 1971 to 1972 Cat Stevens was romantically linked to popular singer Carly Simon while both were produced by Samwell-Smith. During that time both wrote songs for and about one another. Simon wrote and recorded at least two Top 50 songs, “Legend in Your Own Time” and “Anticipation” about Stevens. He reciprocated in his song to her, after their romance, entitled, “Sweet Scarlet”.
  • Cat Stevens converted to Islam in December 1977and adopted the name Yusuf Islam the following year. In 1979, he auctioned all his guitars for charity and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community.

NORMAN GREENBAUM

  • Norman Greenbaum performed with various bands in high school and studied music at Boston University for two years. In college he performed at local coffeehouses but eventually dropped out and moved to Los Angeles in 1965 to pursue his musical career.
  • Although Norman Greenbaum is generally regarded as a one-hit wonder several of his records placed prominently in the charts. In 1966 under the name Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, he recorded the novelty hit “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago“.
  • Norman Greenbaum, who lives in Santa Rosa, California now, celebrates his 71st birthday on Nov. 20, 2013.

STEVEN TYLER &  JOE PERRY

  • Steven Tyler, who turned 65 on March 26, 2013, was born Steven Victor Tallaric in Yonkers, New York.
  • Steven Tyler is known as the “Demon of Screamindue to his high screams and his wide vocal range.
  • Joe Perry  was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts and grew up in the small town of Hopedale, Massachusetts. His father was an accountant and his mother a high school gym teacher and later an aerobics instructor.
  • Joe Perry also attended the prep school Vermont Academy, a boarding school of about 232 students in Saxtons River, Vermont.

RAY DAVIES

  • Brothers Ray Davies (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Dave Davies (lead guitar, vocals) remained members throughout the group’s 32-year run.
  • Ray Davies married three times and had an out-of-wedlock daughter with Pretenders singer Chrissy Hynde in the 1980s.
  • In 1990, Ray Davies was inducted, with the Kinks, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, in 2005, into the UK Music Hall of Fame.

CHUCK BERRY

  • For all his success as the “Father of Rock Music”, Chuck Berry’s only No. 1 single was “My Ding-a-Ling”, a novelty song he released as a live recording in 1972.
  • Chuck Berry received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000 and was named seventh on Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all-time.

DON MCLEAN

  • Don McLean’s roommate at Villanova University was Jim Croce, another aspiring singer-songwriter at the time.
  • Don McLean turned down a scholarship to Columbia University Graduate School in favor of becoming resident singer at Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York in the late 1960s.
  • Madonna released a cover version of the song “American Pie” in 2000 to promote the soundtrack to her film The Next Next Thing.

BOB DYLAN

  • Bob Dylan wrote in his Hibbing High School (Minnesota) Yearbook: “Robert Zimmerman: to join ‘Little Richard’.”
  • Before he renamed himself Bob Dylan, Robert Allen Zimmerman briefly went by Elston Gunn.
  • According to Bob Spitz, author of The Beatles: The Biography, it was Bob Dylan who first introduced the Fab Four to marijuana.
  • Bob Dylan’s first major appearance on American television was on The Steve Allen Show in 1964. When Dylan announced that he was playing the song “Hattie Caroll,” only one audience member clapped in recognition.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

  • The lyrics “Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin’ fortunes better than they do” from the song “Sandy”  was based on real name fortune teller Marie Castello, the longest running tenant on that Asbury Park boardwalk. She worked there from 1932 until her death in 2008 at the age of 93.
  • Springsteen acquired the nickname “The Boss” early on in his career when he played club gigs with a band and took on the task of collecting the band’s nightly pay and distributing it amongst his bandmates. Springsteen is not fond of this nickname, due to his dislike of bosses.
  • Springsteen’s live shows regularly run over 250 minutes — uninterrupted.

MICK JAGGER & KEITH RICHARDS

  • Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first met when they were 7 years old, but they didn’t develop a musical bond and friendship until they were teenagers on a train as Jagger was headed to classes at the London School of Economics. The mail-order rhythm & blues albums from Chess Records by Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters that Jagger was carrying revealed a mutual interest and led to a renewal of their friendship.
  • In the book According to the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger states “I was always a singer. I always sang as a child. I was one of those kids who just liked to sing. Some kids sing in choirs; others like to show off in front of the mirror. I was in the church choir and I also loved listening to singers on the radio – the BBC or Radio Luxembourg – or watching them on TV and in the movies.”
  • Keith Richards’ mother bought him his first guitar and he played at home while listening to recordings by Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and others. His father, on the other hand, disparaged his son’s musical enthusiasm.
  • Contrary to popular belief, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were actually good friends. The Rolling Stones’ 1963 hit “I Wanna Be Your Man” was written and donated to the band by John Lennon and Paul McCartney on request of the Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham. And their 1967 single “We Love You” featured John Lennon and Paul McCartney on backing vocals.

JOHN FOGERTY

  • John Fogerty, who grew up in Berkeley, California, was nearly drafted into the United States Military in 1966. He served at Fort Bragg, Fort Knox and Fort Lee and was discharged from the Army in July 1967. In the same year, the band changed its name from the Golliwogs to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • John Fogarty’s older brother, Tom, played rhythm guitar in CCR. A rift between the two brothers, mainly over the band’s finances, lasted until Tom’s death in 1990.

ERIC CLAPTON & JIM GORDON

  • Eric Clapton received the nickname “Slowhand” early on because he often played his guitar so hard he would break the strings. While onstage he would replace the strings while the audience slowly clapped their hands.
  • Eric Clapton’s best friend, George Harrison, asked him to play lead guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for The Beatles “White Album”, mainly because Harrison was too nervous about his guitar playing abilities.
  • Eric Clapton is the only three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream.
  • Grammy Award winning drummer Jim Gordon was one of the most requested session drummers in the late 1960s and 1970s, recording albums with many well-known musicians of the time.
  • In 1983, Jim Gordon, at the time an undiagnosed schizophrenic, murdered his mother and was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.

ROBBIE ROBERTSON

  • Robbie Robertson was born Jaime Robert Klegerman in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His mother, Rosemarie Myke Chrysler, was of “predominantly Mohawk descent”.  His father, Alexander David Klegerman, was Jewish.
  • In 1994, Robbie Robertson returned to his roots, forming a Native American group, the Red Road Ensemble for Music for The Native Americans, a collection of songs that accompanied a television documentary series.
  • Only two of the original five members of The Band are alive today. Drummer Levon Helm died in 2012, bass player Rick Danko in 1999 and pianist Richard Manuel in 1986 (by suicide).

DONALD FAGEN & WALTER BECKER

NEIL YOUNG

  • Neil Young’s been crazy for trains since he was 5 years old. Young, who built a 700-foot model train set inside his ranch in northern California,  has even been known to take train layouts with him on tour. He’s also designed what became Lionel’s Train Master Command Control system. In 1995, Young and Wellspring Associates purchased Lionel. Young continues to have a minority stake in Lionel.
  • Neil Young has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: first as a solo artist in 1995, and second as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997.
  • Neil Young has survived several serious medical conditions, including diabetes, polio and epilepsy. In 2005, as he was treated for an aneurysm, life-threatening complications arose requiring further hospitalization.

RONNIE VAN ZANT & ALLEN COLLINS 

  • Allen Collins and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant co-wrote many of the biggest Skynyrd hits, including “Free Bird“, “Gimme Three Steps“, and “That Smell“.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd received national success beginning in 1973 while opening for The Who on their Quadrophenia tour.
  • On October 20, 1977, the Skynyrd plane crashed into a forest in Mississippi killing three band members, including Van Zant. Collins was seriously injured in the crash, suffering two broken vertebrae in his neck and severe damage to his right arm. While amputation was recommended, Collins’ father refused and Allen eventually recovered.

JOHN LENNON & PAUL MCCARTNEY

  • John Lennon’s mother bought him his first guitar in 1956, an inexpensive Gallotone Champion acoustic for which she “lent” her son five pounds and ten shillings to purchase.
  • John Lennon’s aunt Mimi, who raised him, hoped he would grow bored with music, often telling him, “The guitar’s all very well, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it”.
  • Controversial through his political and peace activism, John Lennon moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon‘s administration to deport him, while some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.
  • On “Love Me Do”, John plays harmonica, which he says he shoplifted from a store in Holland.
  • Paul McCartney’s real first name is James.
  • Guinness World Records described Paul McCartney as the “most successful composer and recording artist of all time”, with 60 gold discs and sales of over 100 million albums and 100 million singls, and as the “most successful songwriter” in United Kingdom chart history.
  • More than 2,200 artists have covered Paul McCartney’s Beatles song “Yesterday“, more than any other song in history.
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