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 ...
The New York Times once declared that Darlene Love's “thunderbolt voice is as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton's guitar or Bob Dylan's lyrics.” A bold statement, but fitting for popular music's greatest sessions vocalist and backup singer – and among the most recognizable voices in rock and roll history. “I never pushed to be a star,” she told writer David Hinckley in 1992. “I didn’t want to. I had my home, my family. Session work let you do the music and leave.”
Among rock cognoscenti, Love is best known for “He’s a Rebel,” a song credited to the Crystals that was in actuality sung by Love and her vocal group, the Blossoms. That's a story unto itself. With the Blossoms, Love sang with the likes of Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Mamas and the Papas, Duane Eddy, Sonny and Cher, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“One time I had to make a list of all the people I’ve worked for,” Love recalled in a 1985 Goldmine interview. “The ...
“Wanna die today? Wanna die today?” The Damned’s Captain Sensible and I are standing on a secluded stretch of sidewalk in Croydon, South London, just a stone’s throw from his childhood home, and we’re being mugged.
All in the span of two, maybe three seconds, someone’s unsuccessfully attempted to yank the Canon 5D camera off my shoulder, and now we’ve both spun around and are being barked at by a man gesturing to his left pocket, where he appears to be concealing a blade. “Wanna die today? Wanna die today?” he says as his eyes scan for passersby.
It only takes Captain Sensible a half-second to realize that, actually, no, today isn’t a good day to die. And he bolts off down the road, disappearing around the corner, all six-plus-feet of him. I quickly realize I’m not going to be able to outrun this guy, so I make a beeline for my rental car parked about 100 yards away. Best I can hope for is to beat him to the car, toss the camera in the back and get the fuck out of there.
We’re told from an early age that if ...
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Sir Paul McCartney surprised Beatles fans by sharing exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage from the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, where he inducted longtime friend and bandmate Ringo Starr.
The four-minute video, which was shared on McCartney's YouTube channel, begins with McCartney arriving at Cleveland’s Public Hall, later delivering a rousing: “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, baby. Cleveland. Oh yea!”
Several inductees are featured in the video, including Stevie Wonder, who embraces McCartney and congratulates Starr. The two Beatles joke with Wonder, saying: “We’re reforming the group, man. You want to join?” We're sure the world would love to see that happen.
After a quick photo-op with 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, McCartney joins nearly all of the 2015 inductees, performers and presenters onstage to rehearse the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Then, McCartney, Ringo and Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Walsh run through Starr’s 1971 single, “It Don’t Come Easy.”
After a clip of McCartney and Walsh reliving their glory ...
With the patriotic pageantry, fireworks, barbecues and neighborhood gatherings that come with the 4th of July just around the corner, Rock Hall staff crafted the ultimate playlist as the soundtrack to all things Americana and celebrations of summertime fun.
The 50-song list covers a lot of musical territory, from 50s to today, blues, pop, punk, R&B, jazz and some classic rockers, of course. Inductees feature prominently – Alice Cooper, Sly and the Family Stone, Young Rascals, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the Ramones, among many others – but so do other artists who've made their mark with sunny revelations: Kool and the Gang, Chicago, the Undertones, the Surfaris, Lovin' Spoonful, Billy Idol, Afrojack and, yes, Katy Perry.
Get the Rock Hall's Ultimate 4th of July playlist via Spotify.
In the meantime, here are three tracks that are so routinely misinterpreted – and we included some deliberately in our list! – we just had to give the backstory.
Arguably the most misappropriated song in rock and roll history, "Born in the USA" has been the anthemic backdrop to countless episodes of fist-pumping demonstrations. Anti-Muslim protestors chanted the chorus while picketing the site ...