I was just an elementary school kid when I first heard “Dance to the Music,” Sly and the Family Stone’s first hit single, in spring 1968. The song was on the radio all the time. If it wasn’t on the Top 40/pop stations WIXY or CKLW, you just had to dial up to WJMO or WABQ, the R&B/ soul stations, to hear Cynthia Robinson’s cheeky introductory demand: “Get up and dance to the music! Get on up and dance to the funky music!”
Cynthia Robinson was one half of the horn section of the Family Stone and the de facto MC – that’s MC in the early days of hip-hop sense – the “mic controller” who would punctuate dance tracks with enjoinders to “get up” or “get down” to the music to keep dancers engaged and moving on their feet. Cynthia was doing it 10 years before the Sugarhill Gang or Grandmaster Flash dropped their first beat.
That’s just one more way that Cynthia was ahead of her time, a pioneer, showing the rest of us the way. She was a strong female presence in a band – not a vocalist, as was the usual position ...
Doug Bradley, author of DEROS Vietnam, has written extensively about his Vietnam, and post-Vietnam, experiences. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1970 and served one year as an information specialist (journalist) at U.S. Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV) headquarters near Saigon.
I first became a soldier in a war zone on Veterans Day (November 11) 1970. It’s an irony I’ve wrestled with for 45 years, due in part to the precise timing of U. S. Army tours of duty in Vietnam, which meant that Uncle Sam would send me back home exactly 365 days later — on November 11, 1971.
Needless to say, the date is etched in my mind and will always be. It’s personal, of course, but in a way it’s lyrical, too. I say that because my earliest Vietnam memories aren’t about guns and bullets, but rather about music.
As my fellow “newbies” and I were being transported from Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base to the Army’s 90th Replacement Battalion at Long Binh, I vividly recall hearing Smokey Robinson and The Miracles singing “Tears of a Clown.” That pop song was blasting from four or five ...
Brian Wilson has long been an inspiration to his contemporaries and hopeful songwriters around the globe. Much of the popular music that has followed in his creative wake owes a debt to the much-mythologized (and biopic friendly) frontman.
“Brian Wilson is a genius,” says two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Graham Nash in a video featured in the Rock Hall's Touching the Flame exhibit. “Pet Sounds was a journey from start to finish, and I think that was recognized by John (Lennon) and Paul (McCartney) when they started Sgt. Pepper's… The idea of turning a long-playing record into an actual mental journey was brilliant. Brian Wilson started it, and John and Paul really finished it off.”
But decades later, how would that translate live? Was Brian Wilson a charismatic live performer able to carry the interest of a crowd or better suited to his own devices in the studio? Would any former Beach Boys bandmates reunite with Wilson? I had questions, and on Saturday, November 14, Brian Wilson brought his “No Pier Pressure” tour to the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio, giving me answers.
The setlist mostly featured Beach Boys songs penned by the eldest Wilson ...
Compassion, peace and a celebratory atmosphere have loyally followed the Grateful Dead for five decades, yet the reformed group's November 13, 2015 concert began on a somber note.
After taking the stage with his Dead & Company bandmates, grabbing his guitar and briefly warming his fingers, Bob Weir started the show with a eulogy: “So to begin, we have some bad news from Paris. And really I think the best thing we can do, all of us are doing, is remember, celebrate the lives of the 60 or so Parisian concertgoers who died today at the hands of religious extremists, who if they had their way, would outlaw music in all the world." He implored Deadheads to celebrate the lives of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks "and the joy that they found in music.”
For the hours leading up to the Dead & Company tour stop at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena, social media feeds and news reports were filled with the news unfolding across the globe; and with tragedy occurring at a concert, I could not help feel grief, slight paranoia and empathy.
Following Weir’s dedication, he and the band (John Mayer on guitar and ...
Allen Toussaint was one of New Orleans' great musical giants. “He was a great and tremendously versatile musician, a real gentleman and one of the nicest people I’ve ever known,” said Hall of Fame Inductee Randy Newman.
He was a gifted arranger, deft producer, engaging performer and masterful record executive. But perhaps most remarkably, he was among the rare songwriters whose musical vocabulary – though singularly recognizable – translated to myriad styles and elevated the artistry of musicians around the world.
"New Orleans and the world has lost a true musical genius," wrote Trombone Shorty on his Facebook wall. "Allen will always be one of the founding fathers of what New Orleans sounds like; he was a tremendous friend and mentor to me and other musicians in New Orleans. Everything I do is influenced by my musical upbringing in New Orleans – and Allen was a huge part of that. I thank him so much for it, and for all that he did."
His piano on Fats Domino records inspired the likes of Elton John. He produced records for Bonnie Raitt. He toured with Little Feat. He arranged the memorable horns for the Band's Last Waltz. He worked with Otis Redding ...
What songs define the career of Smokey Robinson? What are Smokey Robinson's most important tracks? From one of Smokey Robinson's first songwriting collaborations with Motown impresario Berry Gordy in 1959 to the Number Two 1981 pop hit "Being With You," this illustrated history and timeline of key musical moments in Smokey Robinson's career showcases the enduring impact of his music.
As part of its Digital Classroom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's education department provides an introduction to rock history as told through the songs that shaped rock and roll. Students and teachers can explore and find tools, strategies and resources including lesson plans, listening guides and exclusive multimedia content, including infographics like the one featured above.
Motown was like the soundtrack of my household. That's pretty much all we played, so I was enormously familiar with Smokey Robinson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, as well as all the Motown stuff that Smokey wrote.
He was my first example of a songwriter. Period. Not only was he an artist that wrote for himself, but he wrote for all these other artists. And there were all these hits, and it was like, man, this guy is like really working towards the betterment of music, and the betterment of like lyrics.
So as I grew and got into poetry, got into music, I was very much a student of Smokey Robinson, very much a big fan of a lot of his songs that he created, and just all the things he was doing.
It really helped me when I got into the industry and became a songwriter and was pretty well-known and was trying to become an artist as well, most of the labels ...
I didn't even realize the impact that Smokey Robinson had on me until a few years ago, but his influence is so far-reaching. You can't listen to music - particularly American music - without being touched by Smokey.
I think my first introduction to him was through the Jackson 5, through [the Jackson 5 song] "Who's Lovin' You."
And I was just a huge Jackson 5 fan. I knew all the songs. I loved the Motown sound and just music that was coming up from that time.
I didn't know until a few years ago that Smokey Robinson had written ["Who's Lovin' You"].
So, the fact that I'm going get to sing it to honor him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is really trippy.
It's such an incredible song. The way he writes about love is unparalleled. He is the original person to sing, to write about, to really capture the feeling of longing, and being in love, and ...