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Monday
Aug202007

Two for the Road

vanhalen.jpgIt's vacation time, and while preparing for my cruise I purchased two books for the trip. Most people read trashy romance novels or mysteries.

I read heavy metal.

I'm really looking forward to Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga. With a release date of August 24, I got lucky when the Borders Books by my house screwed up and placed the book on the shelves days early. The latest work by rock writer Ian Christe, The Van Halen Saga is the "first definitive biography of the American rock band."

Here's what the official editorial review has to say about Everybody Wants Some:

How did a pair of little Dutch boys trained in classical music grow up to become the nucleus of the most popular heavy metal band of all time? What's the secret behind Eddie Van Halen's incredible fast and furious guitar solos? What makes David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar so wacky? And, are all those stories about groupies, booze bashes, and contract riders true? The naked truth is laid bare in Everybody Wants Some—the real-life story of a rock 'n' roll fantasy come true.

kissmakeup.jpgThe other book I picked up is Gene Simmons: Kiss and Make-Up. This is a 2003 title and I'm anxious to learn more about the money mogul. For all the flack Gene Simmons receives from fans, I must admit he is a marketing genius and the man can turn water into cold hard cash. He created the biggest marketing brand in music and classic KISS are still favorites of millions of rockers.

I'll be reading the Van Halen book first. My goal is to have a review posted before the street release date so you can make an informed decision on whether or not to purchase the book. Since this is a first run release, it's currently available in hard cover only, and costs around 30 bucks. The KISS book is paperback and available for about 15 dollars.

Hopefully, I'll be reading in just a few short hours. I have to stand on-line during the lengthy embarkation process, then pass muster before I can lounge by the pool.

Sunday
Aug192007

Come Sail Away

 

vincecruise.jpgEach year, Eric and I take a vacation to celebrate our birthdays, which are in the same week. Later today, we'll be heading for the Caribbean and a cruise. I'm looking forward to the time off from my day job, but I'm taking my computer so I can write posts for Bring Back Glam! just like any other day. If the posts come at odd times or are short, please be forgiving. Internet access on cruise ships is not free -- and sometimes it's not reliable.

Speaking of cruises, a small announcement dear readers.

Eric and I will be among the many rockers on the Motley Cruise this January. I booked our cabin last Sunday, and by Friday the cruise was completely sold out.

Vince Neil will perform on the cruise, along with special friends RATT, Slaughter and Skid Row. I'm very excited about this trip for many reasons. First, Ohio winters are terrible and going to the Caribbean will be refreshing. Second, I want to see John Corabi in the pool without his shirt on. Third, I'm looking forward to the intimate concerts and the meet and greets. Perhaps I'll even interview one of the artists while on the boat. Of course, I'll report on my booze cruise in real time regardless.

The bad thing about my vacation today is that Hurricane Dean is threatening my good time. Right now, Dean is a category 4 storm and headed for Jamaica. I'm cruising the other direction, and I hope Dean just swirls in the water and doesn't hit any land. Lord knows none of the islands or the southern U.S. need any more hurricane damage.

Back to the Motley Cruise. Before Vince became a constant solo performer, the Crue were a real hit making machine. Back in the mid-80s, MTV launched a promotion around the band, giving the winner a trip on the "Motley Cruise (to Nowhere)."

Here's the promotional movie for that prize package. While completely cheesy, the video does have some foreshadowing elements. It's great to look back when Motley Crue were still a band and Tommy Lee wasn't enamoured with becoming a DJ and Nikki Sixx wasn't so caught up on making clothes with his latest bedmate. Turns out, Vince Neil and Mick Mars are most loyal to the Motley Crue brand. Watch and enjoy!

 

Saturday
Aug182007

Let it Rock: Great White Live

greatwhite2_wm.JPGLast night, a reunited Great White swam into Columbus, Ohio and the Alrosa Villa. Part of the 25th anniversary tour, all original members played to about 400 very rowdy fans.

lardiemcnabb_wm.JPGGreat White took the stage around midnight, after a handful of more than decent local bands. When singer Jack Russell, lead guitarist Mark Kendall, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Michael Lardie, bassist Sean McNabb and drummer Audie Desbrow finally took the stage, the crowd was more than ready to rock. Jack Russell was energetic as always, whipping around his mic stand only slightly terrifying a few people in the front row.

During this Back to the Rhythm tour stop, the band played a mix of both classic hits and new tunes. The set list looked like this:

Desert Moon
Old Rose Motel
Standin’ on the Edge
Face the Day
On Your Knees
Mistabone
House of Broken Love
Rolling Stoned
Save All Your Love
Rock Me
Can’t Shake It
No Quarter
Once Bitten, Twice Shy

handrussell_wm.JPGAs the band played on, the crowd surged forward, pleasing Russell. Eventually, he started dumping multiple bottles of water on the sweaty mob. At one point, Russell put the brakes on the set, and addressed the Station Nightclub fire from four years ago and the fatal shooting spree at the Alrosa Villa in 2004 that claimed the lives of five people, including guitarist Dimebag Darrell. Yesterday, the Associated Press made mention of the Great White concert calling the event a “match made in hell” (the title came from a quote by a concert safety expert based in Los Angeles). To be sure, there was a television news crew staged in the parking lot across from the club, in the event anything unsavory happened. True professionals, Great White played their best, and said that they would never forget either club tragedy. Jack Russell then raised his bottled water and said, “Tonight, let’s celebrate rock n’ roll.”

The show rolled on.

kendall_wm.JPGThere were several small solos, including some really great guitar playing by Mark Kendall. During another brief pause in the music, Russell raised a portable coffee mug and said “before you read about it in the papers tomorrow, there is just tea in this cup!”

While a horde of fans rushed to be near the stage to dance, several people stood watching, just observing the entire scene. Jack Russell still has an amazing voice, and the band’s version of “No Quarter” sounded eerily similar to the original Led Zeppelin recording.

Ironically, the flattest part of the performance came during the band’s biggest hit “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” An extended version, the band stopped mid-song for a rousing round of the Mickey Mouse Club theme. Still, keyboardist Michael Lardie seemed bored, playing the notes with one hand, his other perched on a hip. That’s what happens when you play the same song 17,893 times over a 25 year career.

lardie1_wm.JPGIn all, fans of 80s music got their money’s worth proving once again that classic artists can bring back glam.

Friday
Aug172007

Kip Winger: Solo and Acoustic

kingsings2_wm.JPGIt isn't so often that national touring acts come to little Centerville, Ohio but last night Kip Winger stopped by for a lively solo show.

Kip and his 12 string appeared at Centerville's Soft Rock Cafe, a place he's played in the past.

Venue management sold about 150 tickets at $15 each, so the show was very intimate.

Yellow Sky opened the evening of music.

The male/female duo performed a lot of really famous songs. Some were expected like "Gold Dust Woman" and "Heart of Gold." Others, like "Man in the Box" and "You Oughta Know" were more adventurous for an acoustic set.

Yellow Sky were on stage for more than an hour, and the crowd really enjoyed their performance.

Overall, I would say the duo have a bright future.

Just minutes after Yellow Sky left the stage, Kip Winger appeared with a green twelve string in hand.

Immediately, he started in with a set of nearly 20 songs, and the crowd loved him.

Kip sang a collection of both Winger and solo tunes including "Headed for a Heartbreak," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Runaway" (from a forthcoming release), "Daniel," "The Lucky One," "Madaline," and "Seventeen."

Last night, Kip proved that he can still hit the high notes and sing the hell out of his songs.

As the crowd grew more rowdy, Kip performed the favorites "Down Incognito," "Easy Come, Easy Go" and "Miles Away."

The talented Kip also sang "Hungry" twice: once during the show, and once during the encore.

kipsings4_wm.JPGAt one point, Kip asked the audience for requests.

All night, one man kept screaming "Four Leaf Clover!" Kip would immediately quip "No!" or "I don't know that song!"

So, as the man continued to drink, he became more intent on hearing "Four Leaf Clover."

Kip finally started laughing at the crazed fan.

Toward the end of the show, the drunk man screamed "Four Leaf Fucking Clover!" to which Kip screamed "God Damnit!'

Mr. Winger himself eventually explained that he felt guilty for not knowing the riff well enough to play solo.

He also said he "sucks."

This was met with screams of "You don't suck!'

Kip threw up the devil horns, and said that would be his new slogan: "Kip Winger doesn't suck!"

When it was time for the encore, Kip asked for requests.

kipssings_wm.JPGHe got a lot of suggestions including, of course "Four Leaf Clover" and anything by Slayer.

In the end, we got a reprise of "Hungry" and "How Far Will We Go."

Most people in the crowd were die hard Winger fans as evidenced by classic tour shirts. Still, I think Kip won over a few people on the fence about his music.

The show was more than worth the $15 investment.

 

Thursday
Aug162007

Warden Threw a Party in the County Jail...

elvis_presley_on_stage.jpgIt was 30 years ago today that Elvis died.


For many, the jury is still out on Elvis' death. A coroner's report determined that Elvis died from a heart attack. Others point to prolonged drug use. No matter the cause, the life and death of Elvis remain an obsession for many.


Elvis is the only performer to be inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.


The star recorded some of the most popular songs in history. Many of those songs have been famously covered by other musicians.


My favorite Elvis song is "Jailhouse Rock" from the 1957 movie of the same name.



Turns out, notorious glam bands like Elvis, too. In 1990, Motley Crue performed "Jailhouse Rock" with special guests Tom Keifer of Cinderella and Sebastian Bach and Snake Sabo of Skid Row. It's a pretty cool - and rare - clip.


Tell me, what are your thoughts on the King of Rock n' Roll?

Wednesday
Aug152007

Inside Looking Out

Sometimes the best look into history comes from those who actually documented the events. Gerry Gittelson might not be a name you instantly recognize from the glam Metal scene, but he definitely had a role in shaping the acts on the Sunset Strip in the late 1980s. In the past, Gerry was a rock journalist and band manager. These days, he's returned to his writing roots and also covers sports in Los Angeles. Gerry found Bring Back Glam! and wanted to share a few personal stories. Transcription follows.

Bring Back Glam!: Gerry, tell me about your behind the scenes history of the glam Metal scene.

gerry.jpg.gifGerry Gittelson: I started out writing for Rock City News. I was the first columnist for them. Glam was my specialty. Later, I started my own magazine Hollywood Rocks. That’s how I met Pretty Boy Floyd and stuff. I went on tour with Pretty Boy Floyd, came back and met Kerri Kelli and Kit Ashley, they were just stating the band Big Bang Babies. They had a few songs, and they were writing new songs, Kerri Kelli was so talented, even at that level. So, I managed Big Bang Babies…and then I managed Queenie Blast Pop. I’m well schooled in glam!

BBG: How did you make a jump from journalism to band management?

Gerry: It was from meeting Kit Ashley outside of a club. The Red Light District. Kit had a lot of money. He flashed a bunch of hundred dollar bills at me and said “We want to be on the cover of Hollywood Rocks!” I thought he was kidding. Still, I thought I could sell him some advertising because the band (Big Bang Babies) was just starting. He came in, we met and I listened to their stuff…and I eventually got to manage that band. They were like the biggest band in Los Angeles, but they were just a little too late. The last platinum bands through the door was Warrant and Slaughter. Big Bang Babies was like six months to a year too late and they never got signed. Still, great music. Big Bang Babies music will live forever in underground circles. That pink CD we made sells for $100 dollars on eBay. I wish we would have made more of those! I also managed a band named Angel, but that didn’t work either. They wanted to make a comeback but didn’t want to play in clubs. After all that I went back into journalism, and started writing for the Los Angeles Daily News, which is the second largest paper in L.A. I still cover rock, and I do a little sports, too.

BBG: What are some of your crazy backstage moments?

backyardbabies.jpgGerry: What really got me into music was a backstage moment involving Guns n’ Roses. The band was playing a club called the Street Scene. This was way back in 1987 when they were just starting to become popular before Appetite (Appetite for Destruction, debut effort) really broke. You’ve got to understand this was 20 some years ago and the political times were a little different. People were also a little more crazy back then. Anyway, a girl was with Steve Adler…she ripped down her shirt, showed Steve her breasts and was like “sign them.” I was standing like next to him, 23 years old and Steve was so cool and I thought “Wow, this is much different than sports!” The parties are better and longer and I thought what made me a good columnist is that I was willing to live just like those young rock stars that were willing to make it big. I did the whole bit, including dressing up on Friday and Saturday nights. Didn’t have a lot of money. None of us did…it was the style to live off the kindness of friends. I did a lot of drinking and a lot of drugs, just like everyone else did back then (Editor’s Note: Gerry is now sober). One of the memories that is truly special was partying all night long with John Entwistle of The Who. The Who and the Rolling Stones are in a different class, but it was the classic “right place, right time” moment. I was with a lady and her friend, and John Entwistle liked the friend and the next thing you know I’m hanging out at the Sunset Marquee, and he’s playing bass, we’re drinking and doing lines until seven in the morning. He was telling me to call all my friends, invite them over. I had a lot of good times with Warrant, too. Jani Lane was a really good friend and I really loved the guys in Warrant. I have a few gold records from the early days when I helped bands, and they were the first band that ever gave me a gold record, saying thanks for helping them out. By then, I was writing for a few national magazines. We put them in Hits magazine and it really helped their career, when “Down Boys” and “Heaven” were breaking. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Warrant and Pretty Boy Floyd. Those guys were like my best friends. I’m thanked on all those records. I came a little late, just like Big Bang Babies. All the bands I was really tight with…never quite made it that big. They were my best friends, the people I was most loyal to. I was too young to be that involved with Poison and Motley Crue. I’m very happy and healthy, and just glad to enjoy the music and look back because…when glam was so big, and the Strip seemed so wild, we never thought it would be a momentary thing. These other clubs starting popping up…business changed, and grunge came in. There was nothing like prime-era Sunset Strip of the late 80s and early 90s.

BBG: Do you think grunge killed glam?

Gerry: In some ways. It was popular. I just think it was so cool for bands to dress up, put on a huge show and sing. Bobby Blotzer of RATT explained it so well: “We sang about girls, cars and having a good time and the grunge and rap sing about killing and hate.” [Like Bobby] I can’t understand why that is a better topic to write songs about… I kept saying glam would come back…it sure is slow! I guess Vains of Jenna is carrying the new torch.

BBG: What’s your educated opinion on modern Metal?

Gerry: I’m not that into. I did sort of like Creed, but a lot of people seem to hate them. Its hard rock, it’s melodic. I like songs where I can understand the words: songs that have a great chorus, great singing and good guitars. There are very few of those around any more. When I was coming up, in high school and college, it seemed like there was a great new song every week. You could watch MTV for an hour, see new videos and it was great. I think that the music from those years (the 1980s) will last longer than all that disposable pop from now. You’ll see. All those bands like Motley Crue, RATT and Poison will still be around ten more years from now.

Photo credits: Gerry Gittelson.
Top, Gerry with Jani Lane. Bottom, Gerry with Big Bang Babies.

Tuesday
Aug142007

Only 331 Days Until Rocklahoma 2008

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM ROCK FEVER:

With nearly 100,000 fans in attendance at Rocklahoma over the pre-party and three-day concert, organizers are already planning the Second Annual Rocklahoma Eighties Festival, scheduled for July 11-13, 2008.

"The artists and the fans came out and enjoyed the party in record numbers," said Dave Giencke, Director of Operations for Catch the Fever Music Festivals. "Over 1,000 fans have already renewed their V.I.P. seats for next year's Rocklahoma, which will continue to feature the major rock artists from the music of the eighties.

"Artists worldwide took note of the response of rock fans at Rocklahoma this year. Although the line-up for the Second Annual Rocklahoma in 2008 hasn't yet been finalized --- and the possibility is hard to imagine after the success of this year's event --- fans can expect an even bigger eighties line-up next summer and an even better show," Giencke said.

Organizers say the phenomenal success of this year's Rocklahoma was noticed around the world, as fans from all 50 states and six continents were in attendance. The success of 2007's Rocklahoma guarantees that next summer's event will be even bigger!

Also, great news that following there resounding success at this year's event, the Gypsy Pistoleros have been invited back next year and given a better time slot on the main stage.

Please visit http://www.myspace.com/gypsypistoleros.