2008, Drummer Buddy Miles, who played with Jimi Hendrix in his last regular group, Band of Gypsys, died aged 60 at his home in Austin, Texas after struggling with a long-term illness. Born George Allen Miles in Omaha, Nebraska, Buddy’s nickname was a tribute to his idol, jazz drummer Buddy Rich. Miles also played with The Delfonics, The Ink Spots, Wilson Pickett, Electric Flag, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Muddy Waters and Barry White. In the 1980s, he achieved a certain amount of notoriety in the US as the vocalist on the celebrated claymation California Raisins commercials.
A tribute to the dearly departed Duane, Eat a Peach rambles through two albums, running through a side of new songs, recorded post-Duane, spending a full album on live cuts from the Fillmore East sessions, then offering a round of studio tracks Duane completed before his death. On the first side, they do suggest the mellowness of the Dickey Betts-led Brothers and Sisters, particularly on the lovely “Melissa,” and this stands in direct contrast with the monumental live cuts that dominate the album. They’re at the best on the punchier covers of “One Way Out” and “Trouble No More,” both proof of the group’s exceptional talents as a roadhouse blues-rock band, but Duane does get his needed showcase on “Mountain Jam,” a sprawling 33-minute jam that may feature a lot of great playing, but is certainly a little hard for anyone outside of diehards to sit through. Apart from that cut, the record showcases the Allmans at their peak, and it’s hard not to feel sad as the acoustic guitars of “Little Martha” conclude the record, since this tribute isn’t just heartfelt, it offers proof of Duane Allman’s immense talents and contribution to the band.
Easily one of the most important heavy metal albums ever released, Stained Class marks the peak of Judas Priest’s influence, setting the sonic template for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal more than any other single recording. This is the point where Priest put it all together, embracing their identity as the heaviest band on the planet and taking the genre to new heights of power, speed, musicality, and malevolence. Not until Painkiller would the band again be this single-minded in its focus on pure heavy metal. Their blues-rock roots have been virtually obliterated; largely gone, too, are the softer textures and gothic ballads of albums past. The lone exception is the morbid masterpiece “Beyond the Realms of Death,” on which the band finally finds a way to integrate the depressive balladry of songs like “Epitaph” and “Last Rose of Summer” into their metal side. Starting out with quiet, mournful verses, the song’s chorus is ripped open by a blazing guitar riff as Rob Halford shrieks about leaving the world behind, a dramatic climax that sounds like a definite blueprint for Metallica’s “Fade to Black.” Yet it wasn’t this song that inspired the ridiculous 1989-1990 court case involving the suicide pact of two Nevada teenagers; that honor goes to the Spooky Tooth cover “Better by You, Better Than Me” (penned by none other than the “Dream Weaver” himself, Gary Wright), on which the band allegedly embedded the subliminal backwards-recorded message “Do it.” Astounding implausibility aside (as the band pointed out, why encourage the suicides of fans who spend money?), it isn’t hard to see why Stained Class might invite such hysterical projections. On balance, it’s the darkest lyrical work of the band’s career, thematically obsessed with death, violence, and conquest. That’s not to say it’s always approving. Sure, there are battle cries like “White Heat, Red Hot,” horrific nightmares like “Saints in Hell,” and elements of the fantastic in the alien monsters of “Invader” and stone classic opener “Exciter.” But the band stays philosophical just as often as not. The twisting, turning title track adopts the biblical view of man as a hopeless, fallen creature preyed upon by his baser instincts; “Savage” foreshadows Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” in depicting violent colonizers as the real savages; and closer “Heroes End” laments the many legends born from untimely deaths. So in the end, what really cements the celebrated morbidity of Stained Class is the sinister atmosphere created by the music itself. Never before had heavy metal sounded so viciously aggressive, and never before had that been combined with such impeccable chops. Seemingly at will, Tipton and Downing spit out brilliant riffs that cut with knife-like precision, usually several per song. This means that there’s a lot to take in on Stained Class, but if there’s nothing here as immediate as the band’s later hits, there’s also a tremendous amount that reveals itself only with repeated listens. While the album’s overall complexity is unrivalled in the band’s catalog, the songs still pack an enormous visceral impact; the tempos have often been jacked up to punk-level speed, and unlike albums past, there’s no respite from the all-out adrenaline rush. Heavy metal had always dealt in extremes — both sonically and emotionally — but here was a fresh, vital new way to go about it. It’s impossible to overstate the impact that Stained Class had on virtually all of the heavy metal that followed it, from the NWOBHM through thrash and speed metal onward, and it remains Judas Priest’s greatest achievement.
On 2011’s Jack and Coke-infused American Goldwing, Blitzen Trapper ditched the pastoral Pacific Northwest luster of previous outings in favor of a more Southern-fried constitution, picking out the tastiest bits of Skynyrd and the Band and adding their own signature blend of mystic Americana and crafty, decidedly non-Portlandia indie folk-rock into the mix. Blitzen Trapper’s Roman numeral-adorned seventh long-player adopts a similar disposition, but adds elements of countrypolitan and suburban hip-hop into the pot, seasoning their already heady brew with a little North Mississippi Allstars and Odelay-era Beck, especially on cuts like “Feel the Chill” and “Ever Loved Once,” resulting in a sort of cosmic, high-def honky tonk that for the most part proves tasty, injecting some much needed brevity into windy frontman Eric Earley’s colorful yet often perfunctory tales of sin and redemption. It’s not all just Paisley Park meets Muscle Shoals-inspired mash-ups though, as evidenced by more measured and nuanced tracks like the soulful, gospel-tinged “Shine On” and the earthy, highway-bound closer “Don’t Be a Stranger,” but VII certainly finds the Oregon-based group jettisoning the more Dylanesque aspects of its sound. Puckish yet ultimately forgettable late-album cuts like “Drive on Up” and “Heart Attack,” the latter of which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an Eagles album (Earley’s throaty, commanding voice is often a dead ringer for “Long Run”-era Don Henley), sound like extras from the American Goldwing sessions, and the abrasive (sonically) “Oregon Geography,” with its faux field recording hiss and fractured dub foundation, feels gimmicky instead of subversive, but at least they’re poking around in different corners of the room, which is ultimately what makes each new Blitzen Trapper offering worth taking out for a spin or two, or four, or ten.
John R. “Johnny” Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author who was considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country icon, his songs and sound spanned other genres including rock and roll and rockabilly—especially early in his career—and blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Cash was known for his deep, distinctive bass-baritone voice, for the “boom-chicka-boom” sound of his Tennessee Three backing band; for a rebelliousness, coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor; for providing free concerts inside prison walls; and for his dark performance clothing, which earned him the nickname “The Man in Black”. He traditionally began his concerts with the phrase “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”, followed by his standard “Folsom Prison Blues”.
Much of Cash’s music echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career. His best-known songs included “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire”, “Get Rhythm” and “Man in Black”. He also recorded humorous numbers like “One Piece at a Time” and “A Boy Named Sue”; a duet with his future wife, June Carter, called “Jackson”; and railroad songs including “Hey, Porter” and “Rock Island Line”. During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th-century rock artists, most notably “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails.
Carole King brought the fledgling singer/songwriter phenomenon to the masses with Tapestry, one of the most successful albums in pop music history. A remarkably expressive and intimate record, it’s a work of consummate craftsmanship. Always a superior pop composer, King reaches even greater heights as a performer; new songs like the hits “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” rank solidly with past glories, while songs like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” take on added resonance when delivered in her own warm, compelling voice. With its reliance on pianos and gentle drumming, Tapestry is a light and airy work on its surface, occasionally skirting the boundaries of jazz, but it’s also an intensely emotional record, the songs confessional and direct; in its time it connected with listeners like few records before it, and it remains an illuminating experience decades later.
George Harrison,[nb 1] MBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician, singer and songwriter who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the band’s primary songwriters, most of their albums included at least one Harrison composition, including “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something”, which became the Beatles’ second-most-covered song.
Harrison’s earliest musical influences included Big Bill Broonzy, George Formby and Django Reinhardt; Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry and Ry Cooder were significant later influences. By 1965 he had begun to lead the Beatles into folk rock through his interest in the Byrds and Bob Dylan, and towards Indian classical music through his use of the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. He developed an interest in the Hare Krishna movement and became an admirer of Indian culture and mysticism, introducing them to the other members of the Beatles and their Western audience by incorporating Indian instrumentation in their music. After the band’s break-up in 1970, Harrison released the triple album All Things Must Pass, from which two hit singles originated. He also organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh with Ravi Shankar, a precursor for later benefit concerts such as Live Aid. Harrison was a music and film producer as well as a musician; he founded Dark Horse Records in 1974 and co-founded HandMade Films in 1978.
Harrison released several best-selling singles and albums as a solo performer, and in 1988 co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. A prolific recording artist, he was featured as a guest guitarist on tracks by Badfinger, Ronnie Wood and Billy Preston, and collaborated on songs and music with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty, among others. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
Harrison’s first marriage, to Pattie Boyd, ended in divorce in 1977. The following year he married Olivia Trinidad Arias, with whom he had one son, Dhani. Harrison died in 2001, aged 58, from lung cancer. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India, in a private ceremony according to Hindu tradition. He left almost £100 million in his will.