Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds

Posted May 2017

 

BrianWilson001 photo creditBrian Bowen SmithPhoto Brian Bowen SmithIf you’re a baby boomer and/or a music nut, you have heard of – and probably all about – the Beach Boys and the various members of the band. Of all the music they recorded, probably the most lauded LP was their ground-breaking “Pet Sounds” – largely written by the band’s co-founder, Brian Wilson, and released fifty-one years ago this month.

While I was researching for this article, I called up a music statistician friend of mine,
Steve Orchard of 101.5 The Frog in Kingsford, Michigan. He told me, “Brian was always considered the mastermind behind those guys (the Beach Boys). Pet Sounds debuted on May 28, 1966. It’s probably faired better over the years than it initially did. It only climbed to number ten. It spent thirty-nine weeks on the charts and it has been certified platinum. My guess is that it’s more than one million (in sales).” He later added, “The last time Rolling Stone did their top 500 albums of all time, they had it ranked at number two. That’s some pretty weighty company right there for that album. You can see that it certainly faired a lot better over the years than its initial chart position would indicate.”

Also chiming in with some input on the music legend was Boomerocity friend, Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  He had th

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is to say:s

“He is truly one of the greats! Top of mind about Brian Wilson: One of the greats of not just rock and roll but of all of twentieth-century music. Really incredible songwriting and also the ability convey a sort of sensitivity through sound as well as

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Bobby Rush Talks About Life, The Blues and His Grammy

Posted April 2017

 

BobbyRush001Almost anyone who is into music has at least a little appreciation for the blues. Personally, I love it. Some appreciate it. Still others don’t care for it at all. It’s history is long and, well, bluesy. The founding artists of the genre typically died poor, destitute, and (sometimes) under – shall we say – under circumstances that is the stuff of folk lore.

Ever since Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil at the infamous crossroads so that he could play the blues, the genre has lured many musicians and fans alike into its soul-gripping web.

Boomerocity has interviewed some great blues men and women like John Mayall, Johnny Winter, Walter Trout, Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Derek Trucks, Kim Simmonds, and others.

Recently, long-time blues vocalist, Bobby Rush, was finally honored with his first Grammy. At eighty-three years old, it’s a long overdue honor for the blues legend.

I called up Mr. Rush while he was resting up before a performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We chatted about the Grammy and the album that he won it for; his upbringing as well as his experiences in all of his years in the business. While you may be tempted to just read this, I encourage you to listen to the audio embedded to the right of this article. To hear him tell his story is a cherished treat in itself.

When I started off by congratulating Bobby Rush for his Grammy, he expressed genuine gratitude and humility.

“It was long overdue but it’s better to come late than never, you know? That’s my attitude about it. I’m happy ‘bout it and

just so grateful. Why it hadn’t come before now we won’t even think about that. It’s just come now. Let’s grab the pieces now and run with it.

“Let me say this to you: My mind was made that even if I didn’t bring it home, I was a winner because I was in the race! That’s my attitude about it because to be in the race – I accept this because of a lot of guys I beat out was more qualified than me. That don’t mean I would’ve been happy if I didn’t bring it home but, nevertheless, there’s millions of guys who hadn’t gotten it and do as much as I do – it could be more. But I just appreciate it and I appreciate the guys I’d been running with – who I was in the race with - although I won and they loss. That’s the way it goes. Some win. Some lose. We all are friends in spite of that business stuff.”

Because he has been in the blues business for sixty years, I asked what has been the biggest changes that he has seen in the music business from the beginning until now. 

“The biggest thing I saw, I guess, is opportunity that I didn’t have when I first

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Shep Gordon Talks Alice Cooper, Chefs, and the Dali Lama

Posted March 2017

jesse dittmar shep gordon croppedPhoto by Jesse DittmarOdds are pretty good that unless you’re a real music business geek (or a celebrity chef business geek), you have never heard of Shep Gordon.

I became aware of Shep many moons ago because I’ve been an Alice Cooper fan for over forty-five years and Shep just happens to be Alice’s one and only manager.

In 2015, Mike Meyers (Yeah, Mike “We’re Not Worthy” Meyers) produced a documentary about Shep entitled, Supermensch. The phenomenal response to the film is one of the reasons that prompted Shep to write his autobiography, They Call Me Supermensch.

The book and movie certainly delivered what I had hoped and expected with regards to stories about Alice Cooper. However, it was a real eye-opener because of the mountain of other accomplishments Gordon has achieved in his momentous career.

Chief of those accomplishments (at least, from my view) is the role of adoptive parent and grandparent. I don’t want to spoil the story in the book but let’s just say that Shep stepped up to the role and challenge in a huge way. The book is worth the purchase just for that story alone.

Suffice it to say, because of the movie and book, I requested an interview with the legendary 

manager to the chefs and stars (now mostly retired), and Gordon was gracious enough to accept.

I called Shep at his beachfront home in Maui. If you watch the movie, you will see that it was a home that he bought for privacy, serenity, and entertaining. The views are spectacular and definitely seem to be key to Gordon’s Zen-like approach to life these days.

At the outset of our chat, Gordon shared the motivations behind writing his book.

“It was a combination of things. It was really sparked by being at an

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Beth Hart Talks About Fire On The Floor

Posted April 2017

beth hart mona nordoy 0093a croppedIn my first interview with Beth Hart back in 2013, I said that she wasn’t yet a household name but she would be eventually.

I still hold to that statement.

In my second interview with her in 2015, I said that to say that she “is one of the most amazing new female singer/songwriters of the new millennia would be an understatement.” 

I still hold to that statement, as well.

I recently spoke with Beth Hart for a third time. She is one of those people who, when you first chat with her, you feel as if you’ve known her all your life. Warm. Embracing. Open. I’ve since learned that she is all of that and much more.

This recent chat was to discuss her new CD, Fire On The Floor. But, of course, as was the case in our previous two chats, we talked about a bunch of other stuff, too.

When she answered the phone and I asked how she had been, she was efferve

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scent in answering.

“I’m doing so awesome! I’m just loving life these days! I’m really having fun. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as good as I do right now.”

And what does she attribute that too?

“I couldn’t agree with you more! I wouldn’t even be surprised if, through gratitude, it actually

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Verdine White Of Earth, Wind & Fire

Published March 2017 

verdinewhiteAs a teenager in high school during the seventies, one of the most endearing and danceable bands to grace our school dances and car/home stereos was none other than Earth, Wind & Fire. 

Their first huge hit was “Shining Star” took our school – and the whole world – by a dancing storm. Even today, the opening notes of that song immediately take me back to the sun-drenched campus of Moon Valley High School in Phoenix. Bell-bottom jeans, platform shoes, and some of the funkiest shirts ever made draped our youthful bodies. 

Fast-forward to today: The band has repeatedly toured the everything knoxville logo editedworld and has reportedly sold 100 million records. With a couple of their songs hitting the 2016 movies, Dr. Strange and Trolls, EWF is reaching all new audiences and creating another generation of life-long fans.

Sadly, the founder and genius behind EWF, Maurice White, passed away a year ago last month. His musical legacy is still being felt today and the band honors his memory by carrying on its mission of blessing the masses with their iconic hits.

Leading that mission is Maurice’s kid brother, Verdine White, who has been with the band as bass player since its inception. To say that Verdine is not only exceptionally talented but also high energy would be a severe understatement. The man doesn’t stop from the moment the hits the stage until the final bow. He makes the Energizer Bunny appear catatonic.

With Earth, Wind & Fire preparing to hit the road for another tour, I called Verdine at his California home to chat about his late brother, Trolls, and what fans might expect during this tour.

  With the band having been in existence for almost fifty years, I started by

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