R.I.P Chuck Berry, 90; Musical Legend and Architect of Rock ’n’ Roll

article by Jon Pareles via nytimes.com

Chuck Berry, who with his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years, died on Saturday. He was 90.

The St. Charles County Police Department in Missouri confirmed his death on its Facebook page. The department said it responded to a medical emergency at a home and Mr. Berry was declared dead after lifesaving measures were unsuccessful.

While Elvis Presley was rock’s first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment.

Chuck Berry (photo via nytimes.com)

His guitar lines wired the lean twang of country and the bite of the blues into phrases with both a streamlined trajectory and a long memory. And tucked into the lighthearted, telegraphic narratives that he sang with such clear enunciation was a sly defiance, upending convention to claim the pleasures of the moment. In “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “You Can’t Catch Me,” “Rock n Roll Music” and other songs, Mr. Berry invented rock as a music of teenage wishes fulfilled and good times.  (The Beach Boys reworked his “Sweet Little Sixteen” into “Surfin’ U.S.A.” Mr. Berry sued them and won a songwriting credit.)

Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on Oct. 18, 1926, in St. Louis, he grew up in a segregated, middle-class neighborhood there, soaking up gospel, blues, and rhythm and blues, along with some country music.He spent three years in reform school after a spree of car thefts and armed robbery.

He received a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology and worked for a time as a beautician; he married Themetta Suggs in 1948 and started a family. By the early 1950s, he was playing guitar and singing blues, pop standards and an occasional country tune with local combos. Shortly after joining Sir John’s Trio, led by the pianist Johnnie Johnson, he reshaped the group’s music and took it over.

From the Texas guitarist T-Bone Walker, Mr. Berry picked up a technique of bending two strings at once that he would rough up and turn into a rock ’n’ roll talisman, the Chuck Berry lick, which would in turn be emulated by the Rolling Stones and countless others. He also recognized the popularity of country music and added some hillbilly twang to his guitar lines. Mr. Berry’s hybrid music, along with his charisma and showmanship, drew white as well as black listeners to the Cosmopolitan Club in St. Louis.

In 1955, Mr. Berry ventured to Chicago and asked one of his idols, the bluesman Muddy Waters, about making records. Waters directed him to the label he recorded for, Chess Records, where one of the owners, Leonard Chess, heard potential in Mr. Berry’s song “Ida Red.”

A variant of an old country song by the same name, “Ida Red” had a 2/4 backbeat with a hillbilly oompah, while Mr. Berry’s lyrics sketched a car chase, the narrator “motorvatin’” after an elusive girl. Mr. Chess renamed the song “Maybellene,” and in a long session on May 21, 1955, Mr. Chess and the bassist Willie Dixon got the band to punch up the rhythm.

“The big beat, cars and young love,” Mr. Chess outlined. “It was a trend and we jumped on it.”

The music was bright and clear, a hard-swinging amalgam of country and blues. More than 60 years later, it still sounds reckless and audacious.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/arts/chuck-berry-dead.html

Tupac Shakur to be Inducted Into Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2017

Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur (photo via latimes.com)

Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur (photo via latimes.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson

According to latimes.com, late rapper Tupac Shakur is among the group of six inductees into  the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Along with Shakur, folk singer Joan Baez, British progressive rock band Yes, Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam, English pop-rock group Electric Light Orchestra and pop-rock band Journey were chosen to join the institution for 2017.

In addition, Nile Rodgers, Chic founding member, producer and guitarist, will be inducted as an honoree for the hall’s award for musical excellence.

April 7, 2017 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be where the annual induction ceremony to induct new Hall members is held.  Tickets available to the public will go on sale in January.  The induction speeches and musical performances will be filmed for a highlights special scheduled to run on HBO after the event.

Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur and Chic Among 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

(L-R) Chaka Khan, Tupac, Janet Jackson (Getty Images)

(L-R) Chaka Khan, Tupac, Janet Jackson (photo via eurweb.com)

article via eurweb.com

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for its 2017 induction ceremony today.  This year’s nominees include Tupac Shakur, in his first year of eligibility, Chaka KhanJanet Jackson, and 11-time nominee Chic.

Ballots to select the final 2017 inductees will be sent out to more than 800 artists, historians, and members of the music industry. The public will also get an opportunity to vote at rockhall.com. Public voting ends Dec. 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

To be considered for induction, an individual artist or band must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination.

In addition to Tupac, this year also marks the first year of eligibility for fellow 2017 nominees Pearl Jam, Bad Brains, Depeche Mode, Electric Light Orchestra, Jane’s Addiction, Joan Baez, Journey, and Steppenwolf.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2017 inductees will be announced at an unspecified date in December. The induction ceremony will be held at the Barclay’s Center in New York City in April 2017.

Read the full list of this year’s nominees include:

Bad Brains
Chaka Khan
Chic
Depeche Mode
Electric Light Orchestra
J. Geils Band
Jane’s Addiction
Janet Jackson
Joan Baez
Joe Tex
Journey
Kraftwerk
MC5
Pearl Jam
Steppenwolf
The Cars
The Zombies
Tupac Shakur
Yes

R.I.P. Musical Master, Genius and Unforgettable Legend Prince

Prince (photo via nytimes.com)

Prince (photo via nytimes.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Even though the news is minutes old, I’m sure you’ve all heard by now. I still can’t process it fully, and am having serious trouble accepting it, but after following TMZ, then Huffington Post, then Rolling Stone and the New York Times reports, I have to.   We all have to admit that it’s true – one of the best musicians ever to walk the Earth – Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) has passed away at age 57.  Whether it was from complications due to his recent bout with the flu or some other reason – what really matters is that he is gone and the world has lost a genius and musical visionary.

While the grief over his passing will be palpable and far from short-lived, we wanted to take this moment to celebrate the legacy and artistry of the man who won an Academy Award, multiple Grammys, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, and gave us “Purple Rain”, “Sign of the Times”, “Controversy”, “Dirty Mind”, “1999” and “LoveSexy” to name a few, and wish his singular spirit all the best on the next phase of his journey.

I have no idea how long the video below will remain up on YouTube, but while it is:

 

Kendrick Lamar Pays Homage To N.W.A At Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Event

Friday night (Apr. 8) was an evening to remember for the members of N.W.A.

Source: Kendrick Lamar Pays Homage To N.W.A At Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Event

R.I.P. Musical Legend and Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White

Maurice White

Maurice White, center, leads Earth Wind & Fire at the Forum in Inglewood, CA on Dec. 12, 1981. (Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times)

article by Chris Barton via latimes.com

Maurice White, co-founder and leader of the groundbreaking ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 74. His brother and bandmate, Verdine White, confirmed the news with the Associated Press.

The source for a wealth of euphoric hits in the 1970s and early ’80s, including “Shining Star,” “September” “Reasons” and “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind & Fire borrowed elements from funk, soul, gospel and pop for a distinctive sound that yielded six double-platinum albums and six Grammy Awards.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and although White had ceased touring with the group since a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in the ’90s, he remained behind the scenes as the act continued to tour, including a run of sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl in 2013.

“[Maurice White’s] unerring instincts as a musician and showman helped propel the band to international stardom, influencing countless fellow musicians in the process,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow wrote in a statement. Earth, Wind & Fire are slated to receive lifetime achievement honors from the Grammys this year.

Born in Memphis, Tenn. on Dec. 19, 1941, Maurice White sang in his church’s gospel choir at an early age, but his interest quickly gravitated to the drums. He earned his first gig backing Booker T. Jones before the organist founded the MGs. He moved to Chicago in the early ’60s and studied composition at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and eventually found work as a session drummer for the Chess and OKeh labels, where he played behind Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

“That’s where I learned about the roots of music,” White told the Chicago Tribune in 1990. “I learned about playing with feeling.”

After also backing jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis in the ’60s, White moved to Los Angeles in 1969 with a band called the Salty Peppers. The group failed to gain much traction, and White changed the group’s name in 1971 to Earth, Wind and Fire, a name rooted in astrology that reflected White’s spiritual approach to music.

“In the beginning,” White told the Tribune in 1988, “My message was basically trying to relate to the community. From that it grew into more of a universal consciousness; the idea was to give the people something that was useful.”

The group’s lineup evolved through the ’70s and eventually included vocalist Phillip Bailey and White’s brother Verdine, both of whom toured with the band into this decade. The band’s reach extended into movies as well in recording the soundtrack album for Melvin Van Peebles’ landmark 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Badasss Song” and appearing in the 1978 film “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which yielded the band’s hit cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

White’s hits with Earth, Wind & Fire spanned a particularly influential space between R&B, rock and disco that remains current. His music with Earth, Wind & Fire was prominently sampled by scores of hip-hop and pop acts in recent years, including Jay-Z and 2Pac. His mix of incandescent soulfulness and suave, funky arrangements informed recent bestselling albums by Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar.

Remembrances of White came from all corners of the music world. On Twitter, Nile Rodgers, the Chic founder and record producer who was White’s peer in the ‘70s disco scene, wrote “RIP my soulful brother — You’re one of the most amazing innovators of all time.” Bootsy Collins, bassist of the funk mainstays Parliament-Funkadelic, wrote that White was a “legend, pioneer life long friend.”

To read more, go to: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-maurice-white-earth-wind-fire-dies-20160204-story.html

Times staff writer August Brown contributed to this report.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Honors Smokey Robinson at 20th Annual Music Masters Series

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R&B and soul legend William “Smokey” Robinson will be honored by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Case Western Reserve University during the 20thAnnual Music Masters™ series, presented by Klipsch Audio. Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a part of the sophomore class of inductees in 1987. The weeklong celebration, Nov. 2-7, 2015, will culminate with the Annual Music Masters concert on Sat., Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. EST at Playhouse Square’s State Theatre.

The tribute concert, presented by Klipsch Audio, on Nov. 7 will feature previously announced Inductees Dennis Edwards, Martha Reeves, and Mary Wilson, as well as the Robert Glasper Experiment.  New guests scheduled to perform include Avant, Avery*Sunshine, Bilal, JoJo, Eric Roberson, and Michelle Williams. Adam Blackstone (who has worked with artists such as Rihanna, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake) will serve as the tribute concert’s Musical Director.  Robinson will attend the tribute concert to accept the award but is not scheduled to perform.

Tickets to the Nov. 7 concert range from $30 – $100 and are available now at the Playhouse Square box office, by calling (216) 241-6000, or by visiting www.playhousesquare.org. A limited number of premium seating and VIP packages beginning at $300 are available by contacting the Rock Hall’s development office at (216) 515-1201 or development@rockhall.org by Fri., Oct. 30.

To open the tribute concert, Case Western Reserve will bestow an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Smokey Robinson, recognizing his many musical and cultural contributions, which extend from enduring songs to his leadership in the music industry. The university awards honorary degrees to recognize those who exemplify in their work the highest ideals and standards of excellence in any valued aspect of human endeavor, including scholarship, public service and the performing arts.

Additional events include:

JUST ANNOUNCED!  FREE with RSVP – Mon., Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. – “Smokey Robinson and the Sensual Black Avant-Garde” / Author Series with Jason King at the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives (2809 Woodland Avenue, Cleveland).  Reservations can be made through the Rock Hall website at https://tickets.rockhall.com or at the Rock Hall Box Office.

FREE with RSVP – Wed., Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. – An Evening with Members of the Music Masters tribute band in the Rock Hall’s Foster Theater.  This event will be streamed live at http://rockhall.com.

FREE – Thurs., Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. – Keynote Lecture “You Really Got a Hold On Me” by Dave Marsh at Case Western Reserve University’s Tinkham Veale University Center (11038 Bellflower Road, Cleveland OH).   Marsh, rock critic, historian, anti-censorship activist, talk show host, and “Louie Louie” expert, has written more than 20 books about rock and popular music, and edited that many more.  In this talk, Marsh will explore more than 50 years of listening to Smokey and why, in his opinion, Smokey Robinson is the best singer-songwriter ever.  This event is free and reservations are not required.  Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. This event will be streamed live at http://rockhall.com.

Sat., Nov. 7 from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. – Annual Music Masters Conference in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Foster Theater

The conference will celebrate Smokey Robinson’s impact on popular music, including a panel discussion on Smokey moderated by renowned author and Smokey Robinson autobiography co-author, David Ritz. Ritz will be joined by Harry Weinger, Vice President, A&R at Universal Music Enterprises; Jason King, Director of Writing, History & Emergent Media Studies at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music; and Andy Flory, Assistant Professor of Music at Carleton College. There will be a special Motown-inspired performance and master class with the youth of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland as well as interviews with special guests. Tickets are $25 ($10 lunch voucher included) and are available through the Rock Hall website at https://tickets.rockhall.com or at the Rock Hall Box Office.  Admission to the Museum is free with the purchase of a conference ticket. 

Sat., Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. – Annual Music Masters Tribute Concert at Playhouse Square’s State Theatre.  Tickets to the November 7 tribute concert range from $30 – $100 and are at the Playhouse Square box office, by calling (216) 241-6000, or by visiting www.playhousesquare.org.  A limited number of premium seating and VIP packages beginning at $300 are available by contacting the Rock Hall’s development office at (216) 515-1201 or development@rockhall.org by Friday, October 30.  

Special programming for teachers and students:

Tues., Nov. 3 – Digital Classroom: Launch of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles Education Unit

The Rock Hall’s award-winning education team will launch a special Smokey Robinson and the Miracles teaching unit as part of their Digital Classroom online curriculum on Tuesday, November 3. The Digital Classroom allows teachers and students to learn more about rock and roll history with lesson plans, listening guides, and exclusive content that can be used in classroom. To learn more, visit http://www.rockhall.com/digitalclassroom.

About Smokey Robinson:

Save for founder Berry Gordy, no single figure has been more closely allied with the Detroit-based recording empire known as Motown than William “Smokey” Robinson. In addition to leading the Miracles, Robinson served as a Motown producer, songwriter, talent scout and Gordy’s most trusted confidant and right-hand man.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles scored twenty-seven pop-soul hits at Motown between 1960 and 1971, including the classics “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Shop Around,” “Going to a Go-Go” and “I Second That Emotion.” The Miracles’ brightest moments on record – “Ooo Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears” and “The Tears of a Clown” foremost among them – still kindle memories for those who came of age in the Sixties. Continue reading