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 ...
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 ...
Smokey Robinson is celebrated for two great and distinct contributions: his work as producer/composer and as a performer. Put these two elements together and you have the Smokey Robinson aesthetic, one of the most lyrical in the history of American pop music.
So, what is the Smokey Robinson aesthetic?
Its salient characteristics are sensitivity, sweetness and poetic invention. Both as writer and singer, Smokey is an unapologetic romantic, a man who trades in extravagant emotional expression. The signature Smokey sound carries a mesmerizing mixture of heartache and hunger, sensual pleasure and erotic longing.
Since he burst on the scene with his Miracles in 1957, he has elevated the art of R&B with a high soaring tenor that is an instrument of rare flexibility, a delicate reed of quiet beauty.
Looking back at his pre-teen work, Michael Jackson said: “Smokey was one of the artists who influenced me most deeply. I studied his singing group, the Miracles ...
On October 17, 2015, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland opens its latest exhibit, Graham Nash: Touching the Flame. Pieces from Nash's heroes and inspirations – the Beatles, the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and Duane Allman – and treasures from his time with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash come to life as the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee reflects on the visceral and profound impact of the music and world events on him and those around him.
In this interview, Graham Nash shares the story of how he left the Hollies and followed his heart to form CSN.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: What were your feelings were about The Hollies and how you had changed over the years? What informed your decision to leave?
Graham Nash:One of them was that I didn't feel that they trusted my need for direction. Every Hollie single that we had made, apart from the first couple made it to the top 10, and that's where we were used to being. We'd bring out a single, it would go into the top 10, that's what we ...
In 1995, Hall of Fame Inductee Johnny Cash’s youngest daughter Tara gave her famous father a book – Dad, Share Your Life With Me by Kathleen Lashier – containing 365 questions. One year later, on her birthday, he returned the book to her with answers to all the questions.
"This book helps to really paint a picture of what life was like for my Dad, what his interests were, his family traditions, his feelings about so many things... this book is one of my personal treasures, and it gives me great pleasure to share it with his fans," explains Tara. "I was very proud of my father for not only what he accomplished, but who he was as a person and father."
Those questions and answers form the basis of Recollections, a new book based on the original Tara sent her father, though reformatted with personal notes and photos – a unique story in Cash's own handwriting.
"The main reason I wanted to share this book, is to let my father's fans see a more playful, fun and candid side of him," says Tara.
"I also wanted to give the public an inside look into another facet of my father ...
The California music scene took off during World War II when it became the home of some of the most prominent western swing bands, including Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and Spade Cooley and his Orchestra. They played primarily to an Okie audience — men and women who had migrated from the southern plains to work in the wartime production plants in places like Los Angeles and San Diego.
A large number of those wartime workers were women, dancing to the music of Bob Wills and Spade Cooley. So how did female musicians really stake a claim in this scene? Enter Rose Maddox.
Rose Maddox, the lead singer of the Maddox Brothers and Rose, developed a unique singing style — a belting voice that could be heard in the raucous roadhouses and dancehalls of California. Her resonating chest voice clearly projected over the din of dancing, drinking and socializing. Patrons had to take notice.
The Maddoxes were part of the Okie migration, leaving the depressed South for California in the 1930s. They worked as farmhands in the Central Valley until they formed the band The Maddox Brothers and Rose in the late 1930s. They came to the forefront of California’s ...