Happy Birthday to Lamont Dozier who turns 78 on Sunday (June 16th)!!! Dozier and brothers Eddie and Brian Holland formed Motown's legendary songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, and have written nearly 300 songs, including the Four Tops' Top Ten hits "Standing In The Shadows Of Love," "Bernadette," "It's The Same Old Song," and their Number Ones "I Can't Help Myself" and "Reach Out (I'll Be There)."
Holland-Dozier-Holland are also responsible for writing and producing Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," along with Martha & the Vandellas' "Nowhere To Run," "Heatwave" and "Jimmy Mack." However, they are best known for their string of Number Ones with the Supremes, including "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," "Stop! In The Name Of Love," "Come See About Me," "Back In My Arms Again," and "I Hear A Symphony."
Dozier says that the greatest part of songwriting is the initial buzz from coming up with a new idea: "Y'know, back in the '60s and '70s, the creation part of it, I think was the good thing. When you can create something from nothing. Y'know, starting with a new melody, a new approach to a song, or a new idea for the conflicts between man and woman which is always what we've written about."
He's especially proud of the fact that Holland-Dozier-Holland was able to take people minds off the atrocities of the 1960's: "The '60s were a very terrible time. I think we brought some balance; I like to think we brought some balance to the emotions that people were feelin'. We constantly wrote about love, and being happy, dance music, things like 'Mickey's Monkey' -- that had nothin' to do with the times, but sort of an escape for the people with all of these changes that were taking place. We tried to keep people focused on 'Hey there's a better life, there's good things in life to look forward to' and I like to think we were optimistic in our music."
AUDIO: LAMONT DOZIER ON SONGWRITING IN THE 60S
AUDIO: LAMONT DOZIER ON THE POWER OF SONGWRITING
It was 54 years ago today (June 14th, 1965) that the Beatles recorded "Yesterday" -- the Paul McCartney-written classic, which stands as the most covered song of all time. "Yesterday" was taped at London's Abbey Road Studios on a day that perhaps showed the truest account of McCartney's songwriting and performing abilities. In addition to "Yesterday," the Beatles tackled not only the future folk-rock classic "I've Just Seen A Face," but the spleen-splitting hard rock "Help!" B-side, "I'm Down." "Yesterday" was first released on the UK Help! album on August 6th, 1965.
On September 13th, 1965, the night of the single's release, the "Fab Four's" fourth live performance on The Ed Sullivan Show spotlighted the song, featuring McCartney performing for the first time on American TV alone on acoustic guitar accompanied by a string ensemble -- but without John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.
Paul McCartney says that even now he's still amazed that he wrote the song, which has gone on to become one of the most beloved tunes in popular music history: "I think, y'know, the most successful has been 'Yesterday,' and it's the strangest one ever, 'cause I dreamed it. I haven't had any other song that's happened that way. I just woke up one morning and just (sings melody), and I went around to people for about two weeks saying, 'Listen, what's this?' They would say, 'Oh, it's good. I don't know' -- I think they thought I was trying to sell it. After about two weeks of everyone saying, 'Well, I don't know what it is,' y'know, I said, 'Well, I must have written it then.'"
McCartney admits that he's still astounded at the continuing popularity of song so long after it was first released: "My most successful song was 'Yesterday' that got covered by just everyone. 3,000 people including Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Elvis (Presley), Frank Sinatra -- I mean, I should be so lucky. It's just unbelievable. But that one song; I woke up one morning and I had dreamed it. See, I don't know where it came from. I just woke up (sings melody) -- I had that song. So, I believe in magic."
McCartney credits not only Beatles producer George Martin's score for the song in helping its popularity -- but Martin's choice of string players for the recording: "It was basically studio musicians that George Martin would book. ‘Cause George was the one who knew the classical field -- we didn’t have a clue at all. George was always very good; he always got the best people."
Bill King, publisher of Beatlefan magazine, says that the inclusion of the few Beatles songs -- especially "Yesterday" -- in Paul McCartney's 1976 Wings Over America comeback tour pushed emotional buttons that up till that point weren't felt at your average rock concert: "It was nostalgia, it was a chance to finally see a Beatle doing a Beatles song live in concert -- which many of us had not had. Already, even at that age -- and most of us who were original fans were still in our 20's when he toured in '76. But already, even at that relatively young age, we had nostalgia. And it was an emotional moment for a lot of people to see him doing that song. It was a song they had never expected to see him do live."
Paul McCartney explained that even though some of the songs in his setlist date back over 50 years, as a father and grandfather he's able to find new emotions in the tunes that he couldn't possibly have imagined back in his Beatles days: "A song like 'Yesterday' I wrote when I was 20, or 21, or something. And so, it was a quite a young man writing about yesterday -- I didn't have many yesterdays, it was only about few years of them. It's much more emotional now for me, because, y'know, my yesterdays involve bringing up children now, and when they were little babies. As you go on, the songs seem to have more depth. Y'know, words that I just wrote because I liked the sound of them -- now I like the meaning of them."
"Yesterday," which was not released in England as a single until 1976 -- long after the Beatles' split -- hit Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 9th, 1965 -- John Lennon's 25th birthday, overtaking the McCoys' "Hang On Sloopy."
The single's B-Side, the Ringo Starr-vehicle, "Act Naturally" -- which was also performed on the Sullivan Show telecast -- peaked at Number 47 on the Billboard charts, with Cash Box charting it as high as Number 28.
The instant evergreen held down the top spot for a solid month, until toppled by the Rolling Stones' follow-up to "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," with the two week Number One "Get Off My Cloud."
In recent years, Paul McCartney has raised the issue of reversing the official credits to "Yesterday," from Lennon/McCartney to McCartney/Lennon, seeing as how -- admittedly -- John Lennon had nothing to do with the song's composition and/or arrangement. To McCartney's chagrin, Yoko Ono has refused to allow the signature songwriting credit to be changed.
Save for the past couple of years, "Yesterday" has been a McCartney live staple since 1975. When now performed in concert, he uses the same Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar used on the original Beatles recording session.
AUDIO: PAUL MCCARTNEY ON THE DEPTH OF BEATLES SONGS
AUDIO: BILL KING ON PAUL MCCARTNEY PERFORMING 'YESTERDAY' LIVE IN 1976
AUDIO: PAUL MCCARTNEY ON GEORGE MARTIN AND CLASSICAL MUSICIANS
AUDIO: PAUL MCCARTNEY ON WRITING 'YESTERDAY'
AUDIO: PAUL MCCARTNEY TALKS ABOUT WRITING "YESTERDAY"
Out today (June 14th) is Roger Daltrey's live album, The Who's Tommy Orchestral. The new set was recorded last year in Budapest and Bethel in upstate New York -- the scene of the first Woodstock festival 50 years ago, where the Who performed Tommy in its entirety.
In the press release for the album, Daltrey said, "Pete (Townshend)'s music is particularly suited to being embellished by the sounds that an orchestra can add to the band. Tommy can mean whatever you want it to mean, I use the characters in it as metaphors for parts of the human condition, so it’s a kind of a story of the human spirit. Even though it is 50 years on, I approach it as though I'm singing it for the first time."
During an online chat with fans this week, Roger Daltrey spoke about the Who's upcoming studio set coming this fall, declaring, "I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia. Pete hasn’t lost it, he’s still a fabulous songwriter and he’s still got that cutting edge, man."
No release date for the still-untitled set has been announced.
The long wait is over -- Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars is out today (June 14th) marking "The Boss'" first new studio set in five years. According to the announcement for the album, Springsteen "takes his music to a new place, drawing inspiration in part from the Southern California pop records of the late-'60s and early-'70s. The album was recorded primarily at Springsteen’s home studio in New Jersey, with additional recording in California and New York." At midnight, Springsteen released the video for the album's title track online.
Springsteen said of the album, "This record is a return to my solo recordings featuring character driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements. It's a jewel box of a record."
Western Stars was produced by Ron Aniello with Springsteen providing guitar, bass, and keyboards, among other instruments. Patti Scialfa also appears and contributed vocal arrangements on four tracks, along with original E Street Band keyboardist David Sancious and current touring members Charlie Giordano, and Soozie Tyrell, among many other musicians.
Bruce Springsteen has long felt that the job he does is one that's existed through the ages -- long before arenas, albums, and MTV: "If you look at the role of storytellers in communities, y'know, going back to the beginning of time, y'know, they played a sort of. . . you played a very functional role in assisting the community in making sense of its experience, sense of the world around them, charting parts of their lives, getting through parts of their lives. I was interested in sort of the eternal role of storyteller-songwriter and how I was going to perform that function best."
Bruce Springsteen says that these days he's mainly writing for his longtime followers who've made the journey with him over the years: "You generally have a core group of people who have followed you all along, and that's sort of the audience that I sort of write for and that I play for. Y'know, I'm not out there watchin' if it's goin'' up or down, I'm trying to write music that's meaningful that has some commitment to it, some passion, some soul to it that connects people to their friends to their families, their world that they live in. And whatever happens after that -- that's icing on the cake."
AUDIO: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ON WHO HE WRITES FOR
AUDIO: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ON THE ROLE OF STORYTELLER
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band have tagged on four new stops to their ongoing farewell tour. New October dates include Baton Rouge, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 21st at 10 AM local time.
Seger's back on home turf tonight (June 14th) at Clarkston, Michigan's DTE Energy Music Theatre.
When we last caught up with him, we asked the 74-year-old Bob Seger if as the years roll by, hitting the stage gets tougher: "Physically. Purely physically. Mentally, it's not that hard, but physically, y'know, at my age, to go out an do two hours-ten minutes, roughly, every night -- sometime longer -- is. . . daunting (laughs)."
UPDATED: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (subject to change):
June 14, 19, 21 - Clarkston, MI - DTE Energy Music Theatre
September 12 - Rapid City, SD - Rushmore Plaza
September 14 - Fargo, ND - Fargo Dome
September 17 - Bozeman, MT - Brick Breeden Fieldhouse
September 19 - Spokane, WA - Spokane Arena
September 21 - Tacoma, WA - Tacoma Dome
September 24 - Eugene, OR - Matthew Knight Arena
September 26 - Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre
September 28 - Salt Lake City, UT - Vivint Smart Home Arena
October 3 - Columbia, MO - Mizzou Arena at University of Missouri
October 5 - Indianapolis, IN - Bankers Life Fieldhouse
October 10 - Baton Rouge, LA - Raising Cane’s River Center
October 12 - Memphis, TN - FedEx Forum
October 17 - Pittsburgh, PA - PPG Paints Arena
October1 9 - Chicago, IL - United Center
AUDIO: BOB SEGER ON TOURING TAKING ITS TOLL
It was 52 years ago today (June 14th, 1967) that the Monkees began recording their third and final Number One hit, "Daydream Believer." The song, which was tracked during the group's sessions for Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., was held off the album and released separately as a single. "Daydream Believer" was written by the late John Stewart, who had written several songs for the Kingston Trio, and at that time was performing with future superstar John Denver. Shortly after the song's release in November 1967, Stewart became the official musician of the Democratic National Committee, which involved traveling with Senator Robert Kennedy during his brief 1968 Presidential campaign.
The late Davy Jones, who sang lead on the track, later admitted to originally hating the song, and suggested that it was better suited to his bandmate Micky Dolenz. Shortly before his death in 2012, Jones said that throughout the group's career, bandmate Peter Tork always encouraged him musically: "I'm a great fan of Peter's, y'know? He told me and instilled in me that I was a musician. I am a musician. I keep a good beat. I've got perfect pitch."
Micky Dolenz told us he's amazed at how different the history of the Monkees is from all their late-'60s peers: "There was in a way, two Monkee bands; One was the cast of the television show that the producers had cast, and that were singing and paying on a lot of the early stuff -- but we had no control over what was going to be recorded. And then, after we fought for the right to do the music and did Headquarters -- that was the other Monkees group. That was like, the Monkees group that was just us singing and writing and playing the songs that we wanted. It's an unusual story, y'know, it's a very strange story."
Rock historian and author Jon Stebbins says that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has done a horrible disservice by refusing to acknowledge the Monkees for their groundbreaking and beloved '60s work, having ignored them every year since they became eligible to enter the Hall way back in 1991: "The Monkees should've gone in that next class after the Beach Boys and the Beatles. And when it got into '66, '67, they should've gone in right then. Because, yeah, they were here and gone really fast, but their impact was massive. Massive. I mean, they dominated the biggest year in rock n' roll. They dominated it not because their stuff was, like, rammed down our throats and it left a bad taste; it's like their stuff was rammed down our throats and it left an awesome taste (laughs) because it was so good!"
"Daydream Believer" hit Number One on December 2nd, 1967, and went on to top the charts for four straight weeks, until it was bumped from Number One by the Beatles' "Hello Goodbye."
Davy Jones died of a heart attack on February 29th, 2012 at age 66.
Peter Tork died on February 21st, 2019 at age 77 following a decade-long battle with adenoid cystic carcinoma -- a rare cancer of the salivary glands.
AUDIO: JON STEBBINS ON THE MONKEES DOMINATING 1967
AUDIO: MICKY DOLENZ ON THERE BEING TWO MONKEES ACTS
AUDIO: DAVY JONES ON PETER TORK ENCOURAGING HIM MUSICALLY
Peter Frampton is putting the final touches onto what will be his final tour. Frampton kicks off the four-month, 52-date, farewell trek on Tuesday night (June 18th) at Tulsa, Oklahoma's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. For the majority of the dates, beginning on June 27th in Nashville, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening will serve as the opening act. In addition to all his classic hits, Frampton will be performing selections from his newly released first blues collection, titled All Blues.
Frampton is promising a shake-up with the setlists this time out, taking his cues from his die-hard legion of fans who have been called on to help map out the last songs he'll perform on tour.
Earlier this year, the Grammy Award-winning guitarist announced the initial dates of his final tour and revealed he's suffering from a degenerative muscle disease called Inclusion-Body Myositus, that slowly weakens the body's muscles. Frampton was diagnosed over three years ago, after a series of falls that were out of character for him.
Peter Frampton told us that he and his band are tweaking the show with the help of the fan picks: "We have an hour-fifty, possibly two hours depending on curfews. So, we've got a lot to fit in. We're just working on it now, because I've asked the audience out there online to let me know what songs they haven't seen me do -- or they've never seen me do. So, we're getting a lovely selection from my catalogue to choose from. It won't be a static playlist."
AUDIO: PETER FRAMPTON ON 2019 SETLISTS
Tomorrow (June 15th) marks what would have been Harry Nilsson's 78th birthday. Nilsson is best remembered for being an inventive and groundbreaking songwriter, despite the fact that his two biggest hits "Everybody's Talkin'" and "Without You" were actually not written by him. Although he recorded it first, it was Three Dog Night that hit the Top Ten in 1969 with their cover of Nilsson's song "One." Nilsson died of a massive heart attack in 1994 after struggling for years with diabetes.
Nilsson got a huge boost earlier this year with his 1971 Nilsson Schmilsson opener, "Gotta Get Up," playing a pivital part on the hit Netflix series, Russian Doll. Nilsson was back in the news in 2016 due to the Top 15 success of the Monkees' latest album, Good Times! The album's lead track, "Good Time," features Micky Dolenz duetting virtually with Nilsson on a demo he had cut for the band in 1967.
Harry Nilsson first caught the ears of the Beatles in 1968 with his three-octave tenor range, became personal and professional friends with all of them, and went on to work extensively with both Ringo Starr and John Lennon. Although Nilsson's Beatles connections often overshadowed his own work, Nilsson actually belonged to a tight-knit group of transplanted L.A.-based songwriters including Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, and Randy Newman.
In 1994 Randy Newman talked about their relationship, explaining that, "We thought about music. . . The records we made were like the Rolling Stones didn't exist. We thought rock and roll would go in a completely different direction, like a branch of Homo Sapiens that didn't become Homo Sapiens."
Nilsson's wit and musical prowess made it easy for him to move with ease into different genres, composing music for the TV series The Courtship Of Eddie's Father, and providing music to films such as Skidoo, Popeye, The Fisher King, and his own animated feature, The Point.
He continually changed direction throughout his career and at important junctures took risks; such as recording an entire album of Newman's songs or covering 1930's and '40s standards rather than producing the type of infectious pop/rock that was expected of him. It was these left turns that lost Nilsson a broader fan base, yet earned him a solidly loyal and intense cult following.
Micky Dolenz first met Nilsson in 1967 while he was writing songs for the group, and went on to become one of Nilsson's most notorious partners in crime. Dolenz says that there was much more to Nilsson than just music: "He was certainly a very, very powerful character. He had an incredibly powerful personality. I guess because I knew him so well, he was just my friend. The main thing about him is that he was incredibly intelligent. I mean he's probably -- and I don't throw the term around lightly -- he probably was one of the only men or women that I met that I can honestly say was a genius."
Out now on DVD is the critically acclaimed documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking' About Him)???
Director John Scheinfeld told us that the link between the Nilsson and Lennon families remained extremely strong following Lennon's 1980 murder: "When we asked Yoko if she'd like to participate, there was no hesitation at all. It was, like, 'Absolutely.' Certainly in the years after John was killed there was quite a lot of contact; there were Christmases where families would get together. So there was a lot of good feeling there -- particularly when she talks about how much Harry loved his kids, and the reason she was able to do that was -- she was there."
Legendary singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb was one of Harry Nilsson's biggest fans and closest confidantes. We asked him what comes to mind when he thinks of Nilsson as an artist: "I think of Nilsson Schmilsson right off the bat. I was around for the record in London with Harry and Richard Perry, and it's not only one of Harry's best records, but I think one of the best records ever made. He was such an elaborately perfect singer. He really is our generation's singer; if we had a Frank Sinatra, it would've been Harry. And you can hear that on an album like, A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night, and you go, 'This guy. . . who sings like this guy?' Nobody."
Out now is the first major biography on Harry Nilsson called, Nilsson: The Life Of A Singer-Songwriter by author Alyn Shipton. Nilsson's estate has granted Shipton unprecedented access to the songwriter's files, friends, family, and even Nilsson's own unfinished autobiography.
2013 saw Nilsson's entire catalogue reissued with revamped and expanded editions of his legendary albums.
AUDIO: JIMMY WEBB ON HARRY NILSSON
AUDIO: JOHN SCHEINFELD ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NILSSON AND LENNON FAMILIES
AUDIO: MICKY DOLENZ ON HARRY NILSSON'S INTELLIGENCE