Musings On Music History: In Which We Lose Another Ramone, The Stones Lose A Founder, And We Welcome The Birth Of A Prince
06.05: On this day in 1959, Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan) graduated from Hibbing High School in Minnesota. Wait, what? Bob’s from Minnesota, you ask? Yep. And he leads a long line of great Minnesota musicians, including ’80s standout alt rockers The Replacements, funky rock god Prince, underground hip-hop greats Atmosphere, and indie rockers Low. Believe it, people, Minnesota’s a good place for music because there ain’t nothing for musicians to do during the long winters except hole up in their domiciles and create. Or drink. Or both.
06.05: On this day in 1977, breakfast plans went awry for Alice Cooper’s boa constrictor. The live rat being fed to the snake went from hunted to hunter and attacked, bit, and killed Cooper’s beloved stage companion. Cooper later held auditions to replace him. Now, we love Alice and his insanely awesome performance rock, but we also love the fact that the rat turned the tables and somehow managed to kill a creature that should’ve, by all accounts, swallowed him whole. Score one for the little guys.
06.05: On this day in 2002, Ramones bassist Douglas Colvin (aka Dee Dee Ramone) died from an apparent drug overdose in Los Angeles. He was 49. Following the deaths of the other founding members, Joey Ramone and Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee’s death left only one surviving original member, Tommy Ramone. Kinda sad, but we’d rather celebrate what these guys left behind. That is, the creation of the whole punk movement in the ’70s and its subsequent offshoots (alternative rock, post-punk, hardcore, indie rock). Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!
06.07: This day in 1960 witnessed the birth of one of the most unique talents in all of rock and funk, when Prince Rogers Nelson danced his way onto this earth. We adore Prince. We respect his unbridled talent more than, well, just about anyone, really. Whether we are listening to Dirty Mind, 1999, Purple Rain, or Sign O’ The Times, we can’t help but sit in rapt awe of the man and his music. We know he is a control freak, and has, in recent years, taken even his most ardent fans to task by having his legal team send out a plethora of cease-and-desist orders in regards to images of his royalness on any website save his own, but we still dig Prince. We don’t have to like the man to appreciate his musical genius.
06.08: Brian Jones quit the Rolling Stones on this day in 1969. Relegated from his role as band leader (supplanted by Mick Jagger) and second guitarist (after the mighty Keith Richards, of course) to that of “multi-instrumentalist,” Jones left for “musical reasons,” though some believe his innate obtuseness got him fired by the other band members. He was found dead a month later in his swimming pool. Some believe murder the cause, while others believe accident. Either way, we’ll never know. We just know that Mr. Jones was responsible for much of the devil-may-care, rebellious attitude that permeated the Stones from their very beginnings. Ya know how people ask, “Beatles or Stones?” Well, that’s because people are really asking, “Safe or dangerous?” The Stones were dirty, dangerous musicians, the epitome of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. And Brian Jones is the one who brought that aesthetic, that danger to the group. He never wrote a song, never shredded the lead solos, never had his voice take the fore, but his attitude defined the Stones.
06.09: Les Paul, the man, the myth, the guitar god, was born on this day in 1915. Musical innovator, both aurally and culturally, Paul’s contributions to rock can never be underestimated. He’s credited with the concepts of multi-tracking, reverb, and innumerable recording affects, as well as revolutionizing the design of the electric guitar. Eric Clapton plays a Les Paul (as Les’ collaborations with Gibson Guitars are known), as does Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, The Edge, Ace Frehley, and the list goes on and on. Mr. Paul was also a helluva guitar player. Check him out.
06.09: On this day in 1994, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (from best-selling R&B group TLC) showed boyfriend, and Atlanta Falcon’s wide receiver, Andre Rison a little tender lovin’ care when she burned down his shoes and his mansion. You see, they’d had a contentious relationship, fraught with not-so-good times, and Left Eye had had enough. So, she set fire to his favorite shoes, but the fire got out of hand pretty quickly, burning the massive house down to the ground (we still remember the helicopter-cam images from tv), turning it into a toasted, gnarled shell of nothing, along with all of Rison’s shoes and belongings. Yeah, that’ll teach him! We know we make fun, but we really dig Left Eye and TLC. Their smooth Atlanta R&B holds a special guilty-pleasure place in our rockin’ hearts. Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls, y’all.
06.10: On this day in 2004, “The Genius of Soul”, Ray Charles passed away. He was 73. During his amazing life, he propelled R&B into the future, melding gospel with juke-joint lyrics and jazz rhythms, as well as taking pieces of country, rock, and blues along for the ride. Man, what a monumental talent and an amazing voice in the history of contemporary music. You don’t even need to see the movie “Ray” to appreciate this man. Just pick up The Genius Hits The Road (from whence “Georgia On My Mind” came) or his masterpiece Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and you’ll understand the talent in his arrangements, production, playing and voice. Ray Charles is the man, no if, ands, or buts, and we sorely miss him still. However, today we celebrate not his passing, but his life. What a life, indeed.