essay Archive

Take Five: Steve Hillage

Let’s Take Five with Steve Hillage… Guitarist Steve Hillage celebrated his 71st birthday recently (August 2). The acclaimed musician was a notable player in the Canterbury, England rock scene of the 1960s, a member of European psychedelic/jam band Gong, and a key influence on modern-day trance, electronica and other boundary-pushing genres. Here are five classic

Five Classic Tracks Featuring Bassist Jim Rodford

Let’s Take Five in honor of Jim Rodford… Jim Rodford would have turned 81 in July; sadly, he passed away in January 2018 after a fall down the stairs of his home days after concluding a U.S tour with The Zombies. Rodford had a long association with the group; he helped cousin Rod Argent put

Music to Your Ears: John Lennon’s ‘Rock and Roll’

In 1972 John Lennon teamed up with notorious producer Phil Spector to record a collection of rock’n’roll oldies. Those sessions took place in L.A. during a period the ex-Beatle would describe as his “lost weekend,” a time of drunk and drugged carousing and general misbehavior. Making matters worse, when the sessions were completed, the mercurial

SF Music History: The Tubes

Rock has often been about spectacle. From the mock-horror of Alice Cooper to the blood-spattered antics of GWAR to the inevitable pyrotechnical visuals of most every stadium act, giving audiences a memorable visual experience has long been a key component of what makes a rock show worth the price of admission. And few groups have

Ringo Starr, Session Man

Ringo Starr celebrated his 82nd birthday on July 7 in his customary “peace and love” style. The former Rory Storm and the Hurricanes drummer joined the Beatles in 1962, taking over from Pete Best; the rest, as they say, is history. But even beyond his work with The Beatles and his subsequent solo career, the

Jerry Garcia at 80

It’s remarkable to realize that at the time of his death on August 9, 1995, Jerry Garcia was only a few days past his 53rd birthday. The body of work to which he contributed, along with his importance in popular music history, suggests a life easily twice as long. Had he lived, Garcia would have

Five Landmark Krautrock Albums from 1972

While it didn’t make more than a ripple in the commercial waters of 1970s American popular music, the subgenre known as krautrock would exert a significant influence on the music that followed in its wake. A wildly diverse array of bands based in what was then West Germany created compelling, innovative music that would inspire

John Lennon: Five Sessions Outside the Beatles

More of my “Take Five”… John Lennon is rarely thought of as a session musician; nearly all of his work was within the context of The Beatles, with wife Yoko Ono and/or his own Plastic Ono Band. But between 1965 and his death in 1980, Lennon participated in several notable projects involving other artists. The

Five Blues Classics from Fleetwood Mac

Another in my ongoing “Take Five” series… Drummer Mick Fleetwood turned 75 on June 24. Throughout Fleetwood Mac’s long and varied history, only he and bassist/co-founder bassist John McVie have played on every one of the band’s 17 studio albums. Fleetwood Mac broke through to superstardom with their 11th album, 1977’s Rumours. But long before

Five Great Ron Wood Recordings Without the Rolling Stones

More of my “Take 5” antics… Ron Wood celebrated his 75th birthday on June 1. While’s he’s best known as Keith Richards’ co-guitarist in the Rolling Stones (where he replaced Mick Taylor, who replaced Brian Jones), Wood has had a long and creatively fruitful career before and outside the Stones. Here are five recordings that