Not even Nirvana's most ardent early advocates could've predicted the near-immediate – much less lasting – impact Nevermind had following its September 1991 release. By the following January, it was already topping charts and the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video was part of MTV's regular rotation. Yet less than a month after their major label debut, the band members – most adamantly frontman Kurt Cobain – were struggling to adapt to attention and adulation.
Meeting a hungover and young group in a New York City hotel on September 29, 1991, journalist Susan Rees interviewed Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl in what became Nirvana's first national magazine cover feature, for the Jan/Feb 1992 issue of Alternative Press magazine.
"Just getting through this interview proved too much for the press-weary band," wrote Rees. "Spread out about as far as three people can spread out in one small New York City hotel room, they tried to be responsive, but Sunday afternoon weighed heavily on them. Novoselic, who did offer a Beck's and some Pepperidge Farm cookies, showed more interest in watching television, drummer David Grohl was polite but didn't have much to say and vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kurt ...
A fan has left a rose at the entrance of 2400 Fulton Street in San Francisco, where Jefferson Airplane once lived, in acknowledgment of Paul Kantner's death. / photo by Richie Unterberger
I felt like a part of my San Francisco died when I heard the news of Paul Kantner’s passing. For fans like myself who so profoundly identify with certain music and musicians, it feels like we are losing part of ourselves each time one of our heroes passes away.
I discovered Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Jefferson Airplane when I was a senior in high school and a classmate shared a boxset of their music – Jefferson Airplane Loves You. As a teenager, it was perhaps my first taste of psychedelia and the counterculture. I went on to study the history of the Summer of Love as an American Studies major in college. When I was 22, my parents took me to San Francisco, and I actually wore flowers in my hair.
Several years later I found myself with a job at UC Berkeley, and I made regular pilgrimages across the bay to see Richie Unterberger give presentations on rare rock films at the Haight-Ashbury branch ...
It's rare to talk of an artist truly being without equal, but that's exactly who David Bowie was. A remarkable visionary, Bowie was a font of wild creativity, a transformative presence constantly evolving to address and help define our times. His art entertained, challenged and enlightened us all - and that will be an enduring legacy celebrated for many generations to come.
With tributes to the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee powering in from around the world, we take a look at the stories behind four classic David Bowie songs and fan favorites: "Fame," "Space Oddity," "Changes" and "Ziggy Stardust."
David Bowie and John Lennon Break into "Fame" ... and Lennon Forgets It
Two weeks after finishing the mix on a David Bowie album called The Gouster, one of the producers, Tony Visconti, got a call from the artist: "David phoned to say that he and John Lennon had got together one night and recorded this song called "Fame." I hope you don't mind, Tony, but it was so spontaneous and spur of the moment... He was very apologetic and nice about it, and he said he hoped I wouldn't mind...I said that it ...
Before I saw David Bowie live, I was just your normal, dysfunctional, rebellious teenager from the Midwest, and he has truly changed my life.
I’ve always had a sentimental attachment to David Bowie, not just because I grew up with his music, but it’s because it was the first rock concert that I ever saw, and it was a major event in my life. I planned for months to go and see it. I was 15 years old, it was the end of the school year, and leading up to the week of the show, I begged my father and he said, “I absolutely refuse, over my dead body, you’re not going there, that’s where horrible people hang out,” so of course I had to go. So my best friend spent the night at my house and when we thought everyone was asleep, we snuck out of my window, which was no mean feat, as I was wearing my highest platform shoes and a long black-silk cape. Don’t ask.
We couldn’t drive, so we hitch-hiked into Detroit and I don’t know who was scarier ... the drivers that picked us up, or us in ...
When David Bowie came along, well, rock and roll needed a shot in the arm and when I first saw him it was a shock, and yet it was very familiar. It was very necessary. It was something that was needed. It was essential. And like all rock and roll, it was tasteless, it was glamorous, it was perverse, it was fun, it was crass, it was sexy, it was confusing. And like all rock and roll, it was freedom, it was pain, it was liberation, it was genocide, it was hope, it was dread, it was a dream and it was a nightmare.
It was about sex and drugs, it was about combining literature with rock and roll, with art, with anything you could name. It was about sex as an idea, and sex as a reality, and sex as a liberating force. It was about rebellion, it was about rebellion as a cliché, it was rebellion as an idea. It was about rebellion as a billboard, as an advertisement. It was about the joy of reckless prophecy. It was ironic when rock and roll became self-reverential. It was about joy and terror and confusion in our lives. It ...
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 ...
Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards recently opened up about the genre he calls “the original music form in the world.”
“I recognize power when I see it,” Richards told Esquire magazine in an interview published in August 2015. “There's something incredibly powerful about the blues — the raw blues. There isn't a piece of popular music probably that you've heard that hasn't in some weird way been influenced by the blues.”
Richards also shared that he’s been lucky enough to meet and perform with all of his blues-based heroes. “All of these guys that I used to listen to – the amazing thing is that even at my age, I'm living in a place where I know all of my heroes, warts and all, and still love 'em,” said Richards. “Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis — man, if that is not 'Mr. Rock 'n' Roll,' I don't know who is. Little Richard; I love those cats.” Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard were all part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's first class in 1986.
“It’s very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry, because I lifted every lick ...
In advance of opening the latest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits on March, 13, 2015, the Rock Hall caught up with Chris Isaak for a look back at 1989's "Wicked Game" music video directed by Herb Ritts and featuring supermodel Helena Christensen.
What was the song "Wicked Game" about? Did the on-camera chemistry with supermodel Helena Christensen happen off-camera, too? What was photographer/director Herb Ritts' vision for the video? Chris Isaak answers all those questions and more.
Rock Hall: What was the song "Wicked Game" about?
Chris Isaak: It's about four in the morning, and somebody calling and saying I'm coming over to your house and I thought right after I said okay, I thought I should have never allowed this person to come over to my house. I know what's going to happen.
And I wrote the song between the time I got off the phone and the person came over to visit. It was just about what happens when you have a strong attraction to people that aren't necessarily good for you.
I think it hit a nerve because I think a lot of us ...