Making Sense of Supertramp’s ‘Logical Song’
By 1977, British progressive rockers Supertramp had reached a crossroads. Their previous LP, Crime of the Century, hadn’t yielded a successful single and its follow-up, Even in the Quietest Moments…, could only deliver one hit, “Give a Little Bit.”Read full story
The Story Behind ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!’
Inside the Mind of Jerry Samuels, aka Napoleon XIV. Novelty songs first appeared in the late 19th century and were popular on the radio into the 1980s. One of the most successful—and weirdest—was 1966’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” by Napoleon XIV.Read full story
Randy Bachman's Final Night With the Guess Who
Randy Bachman wasthe singer-songwriter and lead guitarist of the Guess Who in May 1970, weeks before promoter Bill Graham closed Fillmore East. Bachman recalls his final performance with the band at Fillmore East.Read full story
David Bowie's Final Studio: Magic Shop
"That was a magic moment" The Magic Shop opened in 1988 well before Bloomingdale's, MoMA and a luxury hotel became its neighbors in New York's SoHo. The increase in the area's rental value spelled the end of the studio. Despite the offer of financial help from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, owner Steve Rosenthal was unable to buy the space from his landlord. While Rosenthal continues his business of mixing and restoring classic recordings, the Magic Shop closed March 16, 2016.Read full story
The Legends Behind ‘Sweet Soul Music’
Arthur Conley’s Eternal Question: ‘Do You Like Good Music?’. By 1966, soul shouter Otis Redding’s career was at a crossroads. Rumored to be unhappy with Stax Records, Redding established Jotis Records with managers Alan and Phil Walden and producer Joe Galkin (the “J” in Jotis). With Jotis, Redding hoped to break and produce new talent.Read full story
Who Wrote the Book of Love?
In the 1950s, the street corners of cities across the US were the rehearsal halls for nascent doo wop groups perfecting their harmonies. Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and the Chips were among thousands of teens who honed their vocal skills under a streetlamp, dreaming of success.Read full story
Why Dave Mason Is 'Feelin' Alright'
In 1967 Dave Mason founded Traffic with Steve Winwood, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi. The British band’s debut album that year, Mr. Fantasy, made them international stars. Despite their instant success, Mason left the band after the album was released, then returned for a few months in 1968.Read full story
‘Monday I've Got Friday on My Mind’
Beatlemania in Australia reached its peak in June 1964 when the Fab Four staged a three-week tour of the country. Hundreds of rock groups sprouted as a result, formed by teens who hoped to emulate their heroes from Liverpool.Read full story
Ghost Signs of NYC: Village Gate
Art D’Lugoff opened the Village Gate in 1958 on the ground floor and basement of the former Mills House No.1, a hotel for homeless men. The basement had been the hotel’s laundry room. By the time the Village Gate closed in February 1994, it had become a Greenwich Village icon.Read full story
Moby Grape's 'Worst Night' Was at New York's Fillmore East
Skip Spence of Moby Grape at Fillmore EastPhoto by Frank Mastropolo. Moby Grape was one of the great underrated San Francisco bands of the 1960s. The Grape appeared at New York's Fillmore East on June 18–19, 1971, days before the East Village concert venue closed its doors for good. Here guitarist and singer-songwriter Jerry Miller recalls Fillmore East producer Bill Graham and the band’s “worst night.”Read full story
Ghost Signs of NYC: Beckenstein
Samuel Beckenstein was a Polish immigrant who sold odd lots of fabric he bought from clothing manufacturers. Beckenstein, who started as a pushcart merchant, established Beckenstein’s Men’s Fabric in 1919.Read full story
Ghost Signs of NYC: Village Plaza Hotel
The Village Plaza Hotel opened in 1960 on Washington Place, a tree-lined street in Greenwich Village. Its proximity to Washington Square Park and New York University belie the fact that the Village Plaza was a seedy single-room-occupancy welfare hotel. The Village Plaza was owned by Lawrence Meinwald, who also ran the equally squalid Allerton Hotel on West 23rd Street.Read full story
Billy Joel Tells the Story Behind 'Allentown'
By the 1980s, the steel industry of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley was in full decline. Bethlehem Steel, one of the country’s largest steel producers, was shedding workers each year; it would eventually close its mills.Read full story
Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen on 'Band Uniforms'
‘Imagine us dressed up like the Beau Brummels’. Jack Casady and Jorma KaukonenErik Kabik Photography / Media Punch / Publicity Photo. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady are among the 90 musicians and crew members interviewed in the new bookFillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever. In this excerpt Casady and Kaukonen, who played Fillmore East with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, discuss the outsized presence of impresario Bill Graham.Read full story
Life Behind the Scenes with the Go-Go’s
Gina Schock’s New Book Features a Treasure Trove of Photos. You may think you’ve stumbled into a time warp when you see how omnipresent the Go-Go’s have become in 2021. Formed as a punk band in 1978, the Go-Go’s — singer Belinda Carlisle, guitarists Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin, bassist Kathy Valentine and drummer Gina Schock — starred in 2020’s acclaimed Showtime documentary The Go-Go’s and haven’t slowed down since.Read full story
"Now Make It Mellow'
The Story Behind 'Tighten Up' by Archie Bell & the Drells. In the early 1960s, Archie Bell and the Drells were a struggling Houston vocal group performing their brand of “Texas funk” at local talent shows. In 1964, the group recorded a demo of a song called “Tighten Up.” Although they often performed the song live, the demo was soon forgotten.Read full story
Ghost Signs of NYC: De Robertis Pastry Shoppe
De Robertis Pastry Shoppe closed in 2014 after more than a century serving Italian coffee, pastries, cookies and ices. Four generations of the De Robertis family worked at the pasticceria since it opened in 1904. John De Robertis, whose grandfather Paolo started the business, described the store’s early days. “They made pignoli, the seeded cookies, and they made coffee, cappuccino and as refrigeration came in they started making pastries, cannoli. Then as time went by they started making lemon ice. They catered to the Italians because that’s what everybody around here was used to.Read full story
The Drifters' 'White Christmas': An Appreciation
The Drifters (l-r) Bill Pinkney, Gerhart Thrasher, Clyde McPhatter, Willie Ferbee & Andre ThrasherPublicity photo. Thanksgiving is immediately followed by a brutal month of Christmas music overload. It’s inescapable; every radio station, department store, and building lobby engulfs us with tunes of the season. So when a great song rises above the holiday hype, it deserves recognition.Read full story
When Fillmore East Introduced White Kids to Black Artists
Jimi Hendrix at Fillmore East, May 10, 1968Photo ©Frank Mastropolo. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of Fillmore East, promoter Bill Graham’s rock mecca in New York’s East Village. By the time it closed in June 1971, Graham presented the cream of rock royalty; Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, The Who, Eric Clapton, Elton John and many other stars performed.Read full story
Ghost Signs of NYC: Children’s Wear
Avenue A was for decades the neighborhood to shop for baby carriages, strollers, cribs and toys. Ben’s Juvenile Mart and Schachter’s Babyland, with its kiddie horse ride in front, were a few doors apart near East 6th Street. Schneider’s Juvenile Furniture on the corner of 2nd Street was the last to leave the area in 2004.Read full story