Saturday, October 14, 2006
I want to share some comic book and Halloween info. Also, wanted to remind you that in a few weeks we will have an interview with Peter Noone on this site thanks to the folks at Forgotten Hits. I have been having problems ever since I switched this blog to blogger beta. Hopefully it will be resolved by the time that everyone on blogspot has to change to that format. And now here's Drac!
In the early 1970’s Martin Goodman stepped down as publisher of Marvel Comics. Stan Lee took over as publisher and now had to stop being editor in chief. A series of new editor in chiefs took his place throughout the decade. The comics code had been revised and Marvel saw all this change as a chance to add diversity to their line. One way they did that was to add some new horror titles to their line. Marvel got the rights to Dracula and created Tomb of Dracula to their color line of comics and later the black and white title Dracula Lives. Tomb of Dracula is the one that is best remembered. Especially when it was written by Marv Wolfman (Does anyone think it is odd that a guy named Wolfman wrote Dracula and not Werewolf by Night?) with art by Gene Colon. Dracula was usually the villain of the story but at times he joined forces with his enemies like Blade or Dr. Van Helsing to fight a common enemy. Dracula was so popular that he was used in many other Marvel comics like the previously mentioned Werewolf by Night or in the mags of regular Marvel heroes like Spider-Man. From what I saw he was as regular a guest villain in the Marvel Universe in the 70’s as much as Dr. Doom or the Red Skull.
Tomb or Dracula was published from 1972 to 1979. Marvel tried to revive him in some mini-series throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Even when they got the A team of Wolfman and
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I have recently transferred this blog to blogger beta and I am having trouble posting with photos added. So this conclusion will have to occur without a photo. Just an FYI.
During the 70’s the women’s rights movement grew stronger. If you had any doubts all you had to do was turn on the radio and listen. If you did you could hear Gloria Gaynor sing “I Will Survive” or Helen Reddy sing their anthem "I Am Woman.”
Artist from the R & B charts crossed over to the pop charts in greater numbers. Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack had huge hits with songs like “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” One of the big groups from the r & B charts was Earth, Wind and Fire. Their biggest hit was “Shining Star.” Their music was full of melodious harmonies and had a stress on brotherhood in their lyrics.
The biggest celebration of the 1970’s in the
As the decade drew to a close the digital age was beginning. A computer that two boys built in their own backyard in the early part of the decade was starting to blossom into Apple Computers. New Age music was just starting out and everyone in the country would soon be focused on fitness and nutrition.
On the political scene President Carter got the leaders of
This is the conclusion of my 5 part series on the 70’s. I hope you enjoyed it.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
1975 was a very good year to Neil Sedaka. After having been a superstar of the 50’s and early 60’s he was on a comeback from an 11 year dry spell. Now he was hot. He had written 3 of the #1 songs in the first 10 months of that year. They were “Laughter In The Rain”, “Love Will Keep Us Together” and on this day in music history, October 11, 1975, he had the #1 song in the country again with ”Bad Blood.” He had been signed to Rocket Records that was owned by Elton John. He was a guest on many network TV shows and was appearing in Las Vegas. He was the opening act for the Carpenters at the Rivera. His act was better received then the Carpenters. Really in hindsight that should not come as a surprise. Karen and Richard Carpenter had been doing this for only a few years. Sedaka had been doing it for about 20 years. One night he introduced two people who were seated in the audience. They were Dick Clark and Tom Jones. The next day Sedaka was asked to leave the show. He did but he also signed with the Rivera to come back later as a headliner.
After “Laughter In The Rain” was a hit he released two more songs. “The Immigrant” which he wrote about John Lennon and “That’s Where The Music Takes Me.” The RKO chain added one of his songs to their playlist. However, it was not any of the songs listed above. It was an album track called “Bad Blood.” One possible reason is that Elton John also owned RKO and he was singing background on the song. When Neil was about to record the song he thought it would sound better as a duet. He asked Elton to record it with him. He did agree to sing the backing vocal but was not credited on the song. When the song was a hit on the RKO playlist Rocket Records rushed it into release as a single in America. The album it was on in England was called Overnight Success. When the album was released in the States for some reason they changed the title to The Hungry Years. As far as singles go his follow up to “Bad Blood” was a new ballad version of “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” The new ballad version went to #8 and it is the only single that was #1 and re-recorded later by the same artist to make the top 10 a second time. I remember seeing Sedaka on a talk show. He said he wished that he had written more songs like that so he could get more hits out of them.
In the 1980’s Neil had two hits with his daughter Dara. They were “Should’ve Never Let You Go” on Electra Records and in 1983 on MCA/Curb Records they had a hit with “Your Precious Love.” These hits made Neil Sedaka one of very few singers who had a career that spanned 4 decades.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I just came across this in the 25 cent bin, yes they still have those when they want to clear out the back storage room, at my local comic book store. Since it is close to Halloween I thought I would show this to you. Dell tried around 1967 to market the names of the Universal Studios monsters as superheroes. The only two I remember are Dracula and Frankenstein. I don't remember much about Dracula but this book reminded me about Frankie. It was really doing the story of Batman from the TV series. Millionare Frank N. Stone was a playboy by day and fought crime by night as Frankenstein. His identity is only known to his Butler, William. He was always trying to keep his girlfriend Miss Ann Thorpe (Miss Ann Thorpe? Who came up with these names?) from finding out he was a superhero. In the story in this book Frankenstein is lured to a stadium full of the citizens of the good city to receive a medal. However, it is really a trap for our hero from the villain Mr. Freek. Frankie, William and Ann are capture by Mr. Freek and his giant tarantula. The editor tells us that the bite of the tarantula that it causes tarantism. An uncontrolable desire to dance. Mr. Freek takes them all to an island to face their deaths at the hands of his giant animals. Frankenstein saves them all and they sail home to face another adventure in this book.
If you find this book at your local comic book store you should buy it as it is an enjoyable lighthearted read. Hey its October and you're reading Frankenstein. How can you go wrong?
In the 70’s Broadway had a surge in mass appeal. Beginning in the late 60’s Jesus Rock, which later became known as Contemporary Christian Music, was born when people from the hippie generation became Christians and turned on to Christ. They expressed their love through their music. Usually TV or the movie industry is quick to try and get the attention of any new demographic but this time it was Broadway that took the lead with plays like Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar. The soundtrack albums became hits and had hit songs such as “Day By Day” or “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” For Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim the 70’s was a golden era. One of his most popular tunes was “Send In The Clowns” from the play A Little Night Music. According to my research this song was licensed for more music boxes then any other song in history.
Another Broadway composer that the 70’s was kind to was Marvin Hamlisch. His songs have been recorded for plays, movies, TV shows and been hits for many popular singers of the day. His biggest smash was the play A Chorus Line. The story line was just telling the individual story of people trying our for the chorus line of a play. It told the stories of how they got to this point in their lives and their hopes and dreams of wanting to hit the big time. The most popular songs from the show were “What I Did For Love” and the showstopper “One” You know the first line. It starts out…One! Singular sensation. Every little step she takes.
Broadway has never been shy about building a play around comic characters. One of the biggest plays of the 70’s was Annie, based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie. It ran for years and was one of the best plays to be adapted to film a few years later. To this day everyone knows the big song from the play and they still sing the song. It is “Tomorrow”
This will continue at a later date. Perhaps…Tomorrow!
Monday, October 09, 2006
The post careers of the Monkees have always fascinated me. Especially how two of them were founding members of another group called Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart. As fans of music know it isn’t uncommon when a group breaks up for some of those member to start or join another band. Just like Paul McCartney did with Wings when the Beatles broke up of Stephen Stills did with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young when Buffalo Springfield disbanded. The Monkees earlier defied the norm when they were only the cast of a TV series but eventually became a group. When they disbanded few people were surprised when Nesmith started the First National Band or Tork formed the New Monks and later Shoe Suede Blues as they were musicians first. However, it took a few by surprise when the two actors got together to form D,J,B & H. In their autobiographies they both give pretty much the same story as to why they joined the group. They were going through a rough period in their life and had to do something to get their mind off of the bad things that were happening to them. Micky said that he was going through a divorce and was drinking, smoking and taking drugs. He even had thoughts of committing suicide. The invitation from Tommy Boyce to join him and Bobby Hart came just at the right time. Had it not been for that invitation from Boyce, Dolenz might not be here today. Micky himself said that thanks to the drugs and booze that the year 1975 is almost completely gone from his memory. A whole year of his life is missing. He has since said that he is one of the lucky survivors of drugs and that it was all a waste of time. His last time of doing LSD was with John Lennon, Harry Nielson and Brian Wilson. Here they were four musical giants of our generation together in one house. Were they discussing a new musical concept that would take the world by storm? No! Dolnez said Nielson was off in his own world. Wilson was at the piano playing one note over and over and Lennon stood at the pool and stared at the water for four hours. Meanwhile Micky was watching his hand turn into a snake. I think that would be enough to get anyone off drugs. So while the Monkees seemed like they were always happy and upbeat, there was a dark side that we children of the 60’s and 70’s never knew about.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
We ended our last part of this series on the 70’s talking about the piano men of music. One of those that was popular in the 70’s had been popular since the 60’s. Neil Sedaka was perhaps one of the best piano players in the business. He had hits on his own as well as wrote hits for others. His popularity dipped for awhile and he found more success when he went to England. He did so well on the charts that soon America rediscovered him when Elton John signed him to his Rocket Records and released the song “Laughter In The Rain” in the USA. It was a #1 hit for Sedaka and revived his career in his own country. During the 70’s he had his songs recorded by other artist and in 1975 had a hit with “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain and Tennille who we discussed previously on this blog.
The 70’s was also the rise of the singer/songwriter. While Neil Diamond got his start as a songwriter in the 60’s his real rise to fame came during the 70’s. He entered the charts as a performer in 1970 with “Cracklin’ Rosie.” Later he had another hit called “Song Sung Blue” This song was introduced to me and my elementary school classmates from our music teacher. With those blue color inked mimeographed sheets in my hand I sang this beautiful simple tune. I liked the song but we were always taught much older songs. So I thought that this was from the 1920’s or 1930’s. It was a few years later I found it was a recent tune. Diamond capped off his career in the 70’s with the duet he did with his former classmate Barbara Streisand when they sang “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” There is an interesting story of how that duet came to be but I want to save that for a later date. The ever talented Mr. Diamond continues his popularity in music to this day adding new fans of young and old.
If the drug culture and hippie era from the 60’s had a poster child it would have to be Janis Joplin. While she tragically died young her legacy lives on whenever you hear the song “Me and Bobby McGee.” The song was written by country music star Kris Kristofferson. The popularity of that song boosted his career and he found work as a singer and actor. While I love his songwriting I can’t for the life of me figure out his popularity as a singer or actor. My own personal opinion is that he can’t sing or act. But that is just my opinion.
Other country stars like Kristofferson crossed over to the pop charts with more regularity then before in the 1970’s. The pop music of the day mostly had us dancing but the Nashville stars with their songs added some depth to theirs. They were like stories set to music. A musical novel if you will. It all came to a point for me in 1978 when Anne Murray had a hit with one of my favorite songs. It was “You Needed Me” by Randy Goodrum. Mr. Goodrum said that he had a hard time finding a publisher for the song. Everyone who heard it wanted to know where the hook was. It had no real chorus that was catchy. The real hook to the song was the plot of the song. No matter how depressed the singer of the song was they knew they had value because there was this one person who needed them. When you hear the lyrics say “I sold my soul. You bought it back for me and held me up and gave me dignity. Somehow you needed me.” How can you not be touched by those verses? They are almost spiritual.
Later, in the 80’s when other country artist like Kenny Rogers, Eddie Rabbit, Dolly Parton etc., crossed over to the pop and adult contemporary charts they had become just as pop as the Bee Gees or the Captain and Tennille. Don’t get me wrong I liked them but it seemed a stretch to call them country artist at that time.
This series will continue at a later date as I have run out of time for this posting.
This day in music history, October 8th 1955, The Four Aces had the #1 song in the country with “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.” It was the third #1 song in the history of the Billboard chart. It was the first song that was written for a movie that was number one on the charts in the rock and roll era. Other rock and roll songs had appeared on movie soundtracks but they were written before the movie was thought about. They were later added to cash in on the then new music craze. “We’re Gonna Rock Around The Clock” was part of the Glenn Ford film the “Blackboard Jungle” but it was written two years before the film was produced.
“Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” was written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster. While the Four Aces recorded it and took the song to the top of the charts they were not the first artist approached to do the song. Movie producer Buddy Allen asked Fain and Webster to write a song called “A Many Splendored Thing” for his new film. They showed the song to the producer. He loved it and said it should be a hit. However, they changed the name of the film to Love Is a Many Splendored Thing. They quickly wrote a new song. They showed it to Allen and he sent them to see Al Newman who was scoring the film. Newman liked it and gave the song a spot in the film. Sammy Fain took a demo of the song to some well known singers like Nat “King” Cole, Doris Day and Eddie Fisher. They all turned it down. Finally, they asked the Four Aces. The group was on the verge of breaking up at the time.
The Four Aces were from Chester, Pennsylvania. Its members were Al Alberts, Dave Mahoney, Sol Vaccaro and Lou Silvestri. Before the rock and roll era they had 16 hits. When Alberts left for a solo career the group faded from the music scene.
When their recording of the song went to #1 the other artist who had turned it down before eventually covered the tune themselves.
It was #1 on this day in 1955 for one week. Later it returned to the position on October 22, 1955 for a total of 2 weeks as the top song in the country. In the 70’s it was used in another film. The movie was Grease with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.