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Music News

ELTON JOHN BACK ON THE ROAD

Elton John is back on the road after nearly two years. Ultimate Classic Rock reported the “Rocket Man” — who had played his last full-scale concert back on March 7th, 2020 in Parramatta, Australia — relaunched his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” on Wednesday night (January 19th) at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center. In addition to the ongoing pandemic, Elton was forced to reschedule dates due to hip replacement surgery.

The classic-packed setlist also featured Elton performing “Cold Heart” — his recent Top 10 hit with Australian artist Pnau. Elton sat at the piano and sang along to the commercially available track, which mashed together such Elton favorites as 1972’s “Rocket Man,” 1989’s “Sacrifice,” 1983’s “Kiss The Bride,” and 1976’s “Where’s The Shoorah?”

Elton John recently took part in Spotify’s “The Best Advice I Ever Got” video series and recalled receiving important advice on how to tour in North America upon breaking on the scene in 1970. In the clip, Elton credited his longtime agent Howard Rose for hipping him how to build a foundation as a performer: “Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re playing somewhere big too soon. Playing somewhere like that and you’re not ready is a disaster waiting to happen. You have to go out and play second on the bill to great artists, like Leon Russell and Derek & The Dominos, in areas where you’re not so popular. And you have to get then experience of playing to another audience that isn’t your audience. Also, when you’re in places like New York and Los Angeles and you can sell out big venues — we’re going to put you in smaller venues and create a ticket craziness, so you sell out straight away and no one can get a ticket. That means, ‘next time you come ’round, you’re gonna sell out a bigger venue.”

Elton John performs tonight (January 21st) at Houston’s Toyota Center.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEVE PERRY!!!

Happy 73rd birthday Saturday (January 22nd) to former-Journey frontman, the great Steve Perry. 2022 finds Perry riding high on the success of his fall 2018 comeback album, Traces, which was his first Top 10 solo album. The album entered the Billboard 200 Albums Chart at Number Six and the magazine’s Current Rock Album Chart at Number Two.

2021 saw the release of Perry’s first Christmas collection, titled, The Season. The new holiday set clearly resonated with fans, peaking at Number Four on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and hitting Number Six on the magazine’s Top Album Sales listing.

Last year, also Steve Perry released a revamped version of the Traces album, titled, Traces: Alternate Versions And Sketches.

Traces marked a long awaited return from Perry, who is best remembered for his tenure in Journey in which he wrote or co-wrote such standards as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Who’s Crying Now?” “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “When You Love A Woman,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin,'” “Open Arms,” “Be Good To Yourself,” “Stone In Love,” “Still They Ride,” “Feeling That Way,” and “Lights.” Perry scored a solo Top 10 hit with 1984’s “Oh, Sherrie,” which peaked at Number Two.

Journey’s last album with Steve Perry was 1996’s Trial By Fire, which reunited the classic Escape/Frontiers lineup of Neal Schon on guitar, Ross Valory on bass, Jonathan Cain on keyboards, and Steve Smith on drums. The album peaked at Number Three on the Billboard 200 charts — with its single, “When You Love A Woman” hitting Number One on the magazine’s Adult Contemporary chart. Perry left Journey in 1998 rather than be forced into hip-surgery so that the band could tour behind Trial By Fire. He briefly reunited with the band onstage in 2017 to make an acceptance speech during their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

Steve Perry made headlines back in 2014 by performing encore cameos at concerts by alternative band Eels in Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.; and St. Paul, Minnesota. The rock world began buzzing over a Perry comeback — or a possible return to fronting Journey — after his show stealing renditions of such favorites as “Open Arms” and “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’.”

In 2020, former-Journey bandmate Neal Schon offered an invitation for Perry to join his side band Journey Through Time onstage during their then-upcoming Northern California gigs. In October 2018, during a chat with Rolling Stone, Perry made it clear that despite Schon’s frequent offers, he’s choosing to pass on working with him, explaining, “I’m not sure that’s possible without stirring up hopes of a (band) reunion. Please listen to me. I left the band 31 f***ing years ago, my friend. You can still love someone, but not want to work with them. And if they only love you because they want to work with you, that doesn’t feel good to me.”

Steve Perry recalled joining Journey in 1977 during the recording of the following year’s Infinity album and partnering with Neal Schon: “I certainly was the new kid on the block when I joined them, but I was okay with that — bring it on! And wasn’t afraid of reachin’ and I think we pushed each other. The more I would reach, the more I was demanding on him to do something and the more he would come up with things, the more I’d be demanding him to come up with something that would work with him. It was a very important driving force.”

Steve Perry told us that the passage of time only further solidifies his opinion of how incredible Journey was during its heyday: “What a great band we once were. What a great band. I think the older get the more I’m able to look back at the forest now, ’cause I certainly walked out of the trees. I think everybody was just following their heart and their nose and following that lead. Just doing what we do. We’re a band. We record, we rock, we instinctually reach for what we believe’s a good idea — and argue about stuff, agree, disagree and move forward. And we were just crankin’.”

When we last caught up with Steve Perry, he told us it was a long road– both personally and creatively — to get from the end of Journey to where he is today: “When I left the group, 31 years ago — in about February of ’87, I think — when I first said, ‘I’m walkin’ away,’ I lost my passion for it and that was frightening to me because I discovered a passion for music and singing when I was, like, six, seven years old; and it had never left me, and it had gone away and that scared the hell outta me. So, I knew the only thing I could do was stop. After an incredible, amazing ride — being in a band like Journey, it was like being in a satellite circling the Earth for a while. It was time to come down and land in my hometown again and reconnect.”

We asked Steve Perry if it seems like he’s coming back to an entire new world — or does the music business feel like home sweet home to him: “I don’t know if its coming back into anything familiar because it seems like everything’s changed. I’ve changed, the world is different, the whole process is different — but somewhat the same, y’know, as far as trying to let people know that I have new music. But, it seems so different, y’know? It really does; we have an Internet now, we have downloading, we have streaming, we have not a lot of retail out there, and so now, more importantly that ever — and I feel personally good about this — it’s more about the music now, because of the change of the world than ever before.”

The ongoing massive success of “Don’t Stop Believin'” doesn’t surprise Steve Perry, who told us he was aware of the sing’s potential by the reaction it received in the concert halls: “It’s a funny thing, because though those other songs were hits — bonafide radio hits — whenever we played ‘Don’t Stop Believin’; if you see the Journey DVD live, it’s 1981 Houston, it’s called. If you see that DVD that was filmed in Houston back then, that song gets a response like it’s getting now to the live audience. So my, point is, during the live shows that song always got a great response — it just wasn’t a radio hit.”

SAM COOKE REMEMBERED

Saturday (January 22nd) marks what would have been legendary soul singer Sam Cooke‘s 91st birthday.

Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1931, he was one of seven children raised by parents Annie Mae Cook and Charles Cook, Sr., a Baptist minister. Cook — he added the “e” later on for show business reasons — began his career singing gospel music in his father’s church when his family moved to Chicago. At the age of 19 he was asked to join the Soul Stirrers, with whom he wrote, sang, and recorded gospel songs for Specialty Records, including “Nearer To Thee” and “Be With Me Jesus.”

In 1957, Cooke left Specialty to write and record secular music, signing with Keen Records. His first Keen sessions produced such classics as “You Send Me,” “Win Your Love For Me,” “Only Sixteen,” and “Wonderful World.” Initially Cooke recorded under the pseudonym Dale Cooke, so as not to alienate his gospel fans, but his voice was unmistakable. When “You Send Me” went to Number One in 1957, his destiny in pop music was assured. In his short career, Cooke racked up 29 Top 40 singles, including such timeless classics as “Cupid,” “Chain Gang,” “Another Saturday Night,” and “Twistin’ The Night Away.”

The late-Lou Rawls was a lifelong friend of Cooke’s, and he can be heard singing on several of Cooke’s recordings, including “Chain Gang,” “Bring It On Home To Me,” and “Having A Party.” Several years prior to his death, Rawls recalled how many of Cooke’s songs got their start: “A lot of the songs that Sam wrote, he wrote in my mom’s house because he would come over with his guitar and he would just say, ‘I got an idea for a tune, Lou.’ And he would start playing on his guitar, and we would sit there and harmonize like that.”

Rawls often accompanied Cooke in the studio, and he told us about the unique friendship he and Cooke shared: “Sam and I grew up together in Chicago. Whenever he would record, he’d call me and say, ‘I’m going in the studio.’ And I would go, y’know, and just stand there and harmonize with him, not knowing that they were turning the machines on. And then maybe two or three weeks later, I’d be riding down the street and turn my radio on in the car, and they’d say, ‘Sam Cooke’s newest release. . . BANG,’ and there I was.”

Musician and producer Herb Alpert, who co-wrote Cooke’s “Wonderful World” with him, recalled learning the fundamentals of record making from him: “I learned a great deal from Sam. Sam was an entrepreneur, he had his own record label, he had SAR Records, and he was like a teacher. He taught me about how to listen to music. Before that I was very technical, ’cause I came up playing classical music and I was thinking of intonation, I was thinking of law and order and writing it out and making sure all the ‘i’s’ were dotted and the ‘t’s’ were crossed. But he said. ‘Man, people are just listening to a cold piece of wax.’ He said, ‘It either makes it or it don’t.'”

Sam Cooke was shot and killed on December 11th, 1964, by the manager of a motel in Los Angeles. The circumstances of his death are still unclear, but the manager claimed she shot Cooke in self-defense.

55 years after his death, Sam Cooke’s music continues to influence generations of artists, including Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart, and Mick Jagger, and others. His songs have been recorded by scores of artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Jackie Wilson, Jim Croce, the Pointer Sisters, Solomon Burke, Tina Turner, Steve Perry, Wilson Pickett, the Supremes, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Johnny Rivers, the Spinners, Herman’s Hermits, Art Garfunkel, the Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart, the Band, Johnny Nash, the Animals, Michael Bolton, the Box Tops and more.

Sam Cooke was a member of the first group of inductees into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame when it was created in 1986. The following year, he was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame.

In 2009, upon entering the Rock Hall himself, the late-Bobby Womack — who was mentored by Cooke, and later married his widow — dedicated his induction to Sam Cooke: “With the last song he wrote, he made a statement and that statement was a song called ‘A Change Gon’ Come.’ And he used to always tell me that it was so crazy back in those days, I mean we couldn’t even check into motels, when I think about it that subject has come up again, a change has come. And the biggest thrill for me, more than anything that I ever could do or ever done was to see the world change and Father Time has changed the song from ‘gon’ come’ to ‘has come.’ And I’m a living witness to be able to say as I stand here today, I can look up at Sam and say ‘Sam, we have our first black President, his name is Barack Obama. And do me a big favor Sam, let all of the soul singers know and give them the news.'”

In 2005, noted author Peter Guralnick published a definitive biography on Cooke’s life and career, titled Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke.

In 2009, Cooke was honored in Cleveland with the tenth Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and Museum American Music Masters Series, titled Sam Cooke: A Change Is Gonna Come.

An updated version of Our Uncle Sam, written by Cooke’s great-nephew Erik Greene, was recently published with extensive contributions from the Cooke family.

FLASHBACK: THE FIRST ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY

It was 36 years ago Sunday tonight (January 23rd, 1986) that the first inductees entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria. The inaugural class of the Hall of Fame featured rock’s forefathers: Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, James Brown, Sam Cooke and Jerry Lee Lewis. Included in the Non-Performer category were Sun Records founder Sam Phillips and seminal disc jockey Alan Freed, whom many credit for actually coining the phrase “Rock And Roll.”

Also inducted that night in the Early Influence category were blues icon Robert Johnson, country’s Jimmie Rogers, and boogie-woogie pianist Jimmy Yancey. Columbia Records’ legendary A&R man John Hammond, who was responsible for discovering Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and many others, received the Hall’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.

The emotional inductions included Keith Richards‘ speech inducting Chuck Berry and John Lennon‘s sons Julian and Sean Lennon saluting their father’s hero, Elvis Presley.

The ceremony featured the first all-star jam, which closed the night’s festivities. Among the stars joining the inductees onstage were Steve Winwood, John Fogerty, Billy Joel, and ZZ Top. The musicians, backed by Late Night With David Letterman‘s house band — the World’s Most Dangerous Band, lead by Paul Shaffer — rocked into the early hours on classics such as Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Little Queenie,” and “Johnny B. Goode”; Lewis’ “Great Balls Of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”; Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Proud Mary”; Chubby Checker‘s “The Twist”; and the Spencer Davis Group‘s “Gimme Some Lovin’,” among others.

Paul McCartney told us that the birth of rock n’ roll in the mid-1950’s not only changed his life but the world at large: “It was America reawakening the world ’cause, y’know, we were into sort of other stuff then, and suddenly Elvis, Little Richard came screaming out of across the Atlantic, y’know, and it was just so exciting for us all. That is a very exciting time, so to remember it was very exciting, but also being a teenager at that time was a very exciting, interesting time.”

Mick Jagger spoke about Buddy Holly’s influence on the future British Invasion rockers: “Every English person you talk to, from my generation, at least, will tell you that Buddy Holly was — he was a big influence as a songwriter. And he wrote all these songs in a very short period of time, and they’re all very simple. And he was very big in England, I think he toured only once; I saw him on stage. But he was a very big influence.”

Graham Nash recalled first meeting the Everly Brothers in 1960 while still a teen back in England, and never forgot their attention and kindness: “The Everly Brothers came to Manchester, and me and Allan Clarke, who later formed the Hollies with me, decided that we were going to meet the Everly Brothers. And that was a dream, I mean, who does that, right? But we waited; the last bus left, we knew we would have to walk nine miles back home in the pissing rain — it was a drag — except, we were gonna meet our idols! So, around 1:30 in the morning they come, they’re a little drunk, they come ’round the corner (laughter) and we go, “Oh, they’re here, God, they’re walking towards us, oh my goodness,’ right? Don and Phil Everly talked to me and Allan Clarke for what seemed like half-an-hour — just encouraging us.”

Even after all these years, George Thorogood feels that his two biggest heroes deserve all the credit for being the architects of rock n’ roll as we know and love it: “To me, Chuck Berry invented rock n’ roll. Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry are the two most important musicians of all time, because rock n’ roll changed the world. It’s not a musical phenomenon — it’s a social phenomenon, and it still is. And it was Chuck Berry who took black music and revved it up and brought it into the living rooms of white America. He wrote ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ — the all-time ‘Mr. Rock n’ Roll’ song.”

Billy Joel, who gave his daughter Alexa the middle name of Ray, in tribute to his idol, went on to duet with him on his 1986 classic “Baby Grand” from The Bridge. He said that “Brother Ray” was always a key vocal inspiration for him: “Sometimes I’m trying to sound like Ray Charles . . . the funny thing is, I found out Robert Plant sings the way he did because he was trying to sing like Ray Charles and that’s as close as he could get.”

James Burton, Elvis Presley’s longtime lead guitarist and bandleader, said that Elvis was never not in full control of his voice, even on his final tours when his health was sometimes in question: “Oh yeah, he knew his range. Oh yeah, absolutely. He had perfect pitch. I mean the guy could be clear across the stage and go into a song he probably hadn’t sung in years — it was there. It was such a natural talent, y’know? It was a blessing from God.”

ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons credits rock n’ roll’s forefathers for everything that came after them: “We get the beat from Bo, we got the poetry from Chuck, and we got the insane madness vocal from Little Richard. Those three combined, if you could possibly invent something beyond that, we’d be on another planet — but I think we’re already there anyway (laughs).”

The 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place last October 30th in Cleveland honoring 2021’s Inductees: Tina Turner, Carole King, the Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, and Todd Rundgren in the Performer category, along with Kraftwerk, Charley Patton and Gil Scott-Heron for Early Influence, LL Cool J, Billy Preston and Randy Rhoads for Musical Excellence, and Clarence Avant for the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

The 2021 Musical Excellence Award will be given to LL Cool J, Billy Preston, and guitarist Randy Rhoads. This year’s Early Influence Award inductees are Kraftwerk, Gil Scott Heron, and Charley Patton.

FOO FIGHTERS’ NET WORTH’S REVEALED

The Foo Fighters‘ individual net worths were tabulated by MetalCastle.net. Not surprisingly, after 25 years in the business, the Foos have reaped the rewards befitting a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted massive touring machine.

The band’s founder and leader Dave Grohl leads the pack with a massive $320 million fortune. A while back he explained that it’s important to him to change things up on each of the Foos’ new albums: “The best thing about being in a band and making music is doing as many things as possible and exploring as many different musical regions as you can get your hands into. And it’s important for every artist to explore that or just take a stab at it. Records should be things that are important to the artists as well as the people.”

Foo Fighters individual net worths – via MetalCastle.net:

Dave Grohl – $320 Million
Taylor Hawkins (drums) – $50 Million
Nate Mendel (bass) – $50 Million
Pat Smear (guitar) – $25 Million
Chris Shiflett (lead guitar) – $45 Million
Rami Jaffee (keyboards) – $5 Million

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