The band Boston was designed and invented form an engineers perspective… that engineer is Tom Sholt. Sholtz is a graduate of MIT, with his formative years spent playing piano with Beethoven, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky… until he heard the Kinks.
Then he picked up the guitar when he heard Jeff Beck.
Then Jimi Page.
The band continued to play under the name Pigeons as they recorded their first album and played local clubs. According to Carmine Appice, from his book Stick It, the band was playing a club on Long Island, when they were on a break, they started talking to a waitress named Dee Dee. She mentioned that her grandfather used to call her Vanilla Fudge… The band looked at one another and said… "Yeah, that’s it." The band’s name would be Vanilla Fudge.
When Linda Ronstadt got to LA Bobby Kimbal was already working with folk-rock guitarist Kenny Edward's. The three of them played Coffee houses and restaurants in the LA area. It was a gig at Olivia’s soul food restaurant in Ocean Park that got them and her noticed by a couple of record company execs. Demos were recorded, and the Stone Ponys were born. The band was eventually signed to Capitol Records where Herb Cohen took over management of the band. But he was more interested in Ronstadt as opposed to the band.
Greg Lake took on the management of the ELP. He stated in an interview in 2003 that the three were not good friends. They were very much a working partnership. He had been producing King Crimson’s records and took on the same role with ELP. But the band got so popular so fast that Lake realized he could not wear all the hats anymore. They needed management and quickly. They were just about to sign on with Peter Grant who was successful with Led Zeppelin… but Jimi Page stepped in.
The band was only together for two years. Buffalo Springfield was a collection of mutually ambitious, very talented individuals who happen to form a group that profoundly influenced the folk rock genre and showed the way for artists like Jackson Brown, Glen Fry, and Don Henley. The original band was Steven Stills Guitar, Neil Young Lead guitar, Rickie Furay Guitar, Dewey Martin Drums, and Bruce Palmer Bass. Stills, Young, Furay, and Palmer, met playing gigs in Toronto and Ontario with bands The Myna Birds… and The Ah Go Go Singers. Drummer Dewey Martin came from the country-side of music playing with artists like Patsy Cline and The Dillards.
After the 3rd album, Pretzel Logic, Steely Dan stopped doing live shows. Fagan and Becker were always impressed with the Beatles work, so they took another cue from them and became a studio band. The record company was furious… Until they saw the sales figures. The audience didn’t care. They just were hooked on the Steely Dan Sound.
When you think of Steppenwolf, the band’s two songs huge top 10 songs come to mind, both released in 1968, Magic Carpet Ride and Born to Be Wild. But dig a little deeper, and you find that Rock Me did reach number 10 on the Billboard charts and The Pusher got a lot of airplay from FM jocks… So I discount some critics saying this band was one short of being a one hit wonder.
Grand Funk Railroad sprang up in 1966 from Don Brewer’s band The Jazz Masters. A former Disc jockey, who wanted to be a singer in a rock and roll band approached Don one night after a gig and not only talked his way into the band but also got them to rename the band to Terry Knight and the Pack. He got his way because he could get gigs. Soon Mark Farner joined as a bass player.
The band grew out of three hard working LA solo singers deciding to make a go at it as a threesome. Danny Hutton, Corey Wells, and Chuck Negron were lead vocalists moving around the LA music scene all having various degrees of success. But nothing on the scale that was about to become Three Dog Night.
After the Success of working with Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, Seals and Crofts, and a host of other successful acts, Jeff Porcaro and David Paich wanted a band of their own. The new band was made up of mostly high school buddies that had played together in a group called 'Still Life' at Grant High School in Van Nuys. The original Toto was Steve Lukather- guitar, David Paich-Keyboards, Jeff Porcaro drums, brother Steve Porcaro on an another set of Keyboards, David Hungate-Bass, and Bobby Kimball-lead Vocals.
In 1968 the 2nd generation of BS&T went to work on the album that became the band's best-selling album. It was a mixture of pop, jazz, folk, and R&B. James Willian Guercio was brought in to produce the album because of his work with the Buckinghams and their horn arrangements.
The 2nd BS&T album was called simply "Blood Sweat and Tears." It had many top 40 hits that are sill propelling the band today.
Bill Bruford, Yes’s original drummer, once described the band as Multi-cultural and Multi-Ethnic… he was not describing the personnel of the band… but the musical influences of the band.
Yes pulled elements, and actual melodies, from Country Music, Jazz, Classical, and were even influenced by American TV themes.
Yours Is No Disgrace, according to Bill Bruford was pulled from the 1960’s America TV show Bonanza.
Gene Cornish remembered that first rehearsal as a life changing event. He said, “They immediately jelled and were a tight little band right from the start.” After getting a show list of cover songs, The Rascals were off playing local Jersey and New York Clubs and getting noticed. From the time the band first sat down as a simple basement band to their first single, was less than a year.
As with many of the Classic Rock Bands of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s lucrative branding was developed so bank accounts could keep full and so the Bands Play on… sometimes even without any original members; as it is with Iron Butterfly. Such is not the case with Kansas. There have been get-togethers of the original members from time to time in the past twenty years. But as of 2017 drummer, Steve Ehart is the only original member playing with Kansas.
Every band is like a Dysfunctional family. Fights and arguments rule the day with such strong egos. Soon chaos broke out in Focus and bass player Cyril Havermans left before the first worldwide tour. He was replaced by Bert Router.
Their next album in 1972 was Focus 3. A double album that FM radio wore out the grooves again and it produced a mild hit with Syliva.
Find out the whole story in the latest Under The Classic Rock.
In the late 50’s Bob Gaudio had been picking up studio work as as keyboardist for producer Bob Crewe. Then Crew started to use the whole Four Seasons band working as session players and singers. One night Crewe decided to take in a four seasons performance at a local New Jersey club. It was that night, on a whim, Frankie Vallei started messing around on stage mimicking Jazz Singer, Rose Murphy’s High falsetto voice.
It was just a goof. Crewe heard it said that’s it: That’s the sound.
It was not so much the orchestra that molded the Moody Blue’s sound as it was the Mellotron… a keyboard instrument that essentially has a tape player hooked up to each note of the keyboard. It enabled them to take an orchestra to their live shows. It was an early form of sampling.
Listen to part two of The Moody Blues:
Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder had been playing with a band in Hamburg Germany called El Riot and Rebels… when they returned to England they had both decided that they wanted to become professional musicians and started recruiting the best players from the 250 bands in and around Birmingham to form the Moody Blues.
Their biggest hit and some say Motown’s biggest hit, was initially just an instrumental track created by the Motown recording unit The Funk Brothers. Holland, Dozier, and Holland wanted to experiment with the track and called in the Four Tops first to try some new ideas. They laid down some vocal tracks thinking it was nowhere near complete. Then Berry Gordie heard it and said, no, it was done. The Tops pleaded with him not to release I Can't Help Myself.
The name of the first Mama Papa’s album is Lou Adler’s actual reaction to when he first saw the group. Adler made it habit of not looking at bands who auditioned for him… When the Mamas and Papas were finished… he looked around and said to himself - "If you can believe your eyes and ears…" Wow.
Traffic strived for an authentic organic sound. They did very little over-dubbing throughout their career. They purposely kept away form the lavish over-dubs of the over-produced bands like Yes and Pink Floyd.
The band played around the Ohio - West Pennsylvania circuit and gained the reputation of being a great live act to catch; though Fox was still not happy with the guitar chair. So, the band went through a succession of guitars players. Then one day a player from a local band called the Measels knocked on his door saying he wanted to try out for the band. It was Joe Walsh.
The band had numerous name changes, at the beginning, Navy Blue, John Evan Band, Candy Colored Rain, Ian Anderson’s Bag O Nails. The name that stuck was given to them by a booking agent that was getting sick of the monthly name changes. He suggested the name of an 18th-century farmer that invented the seed drill. It stuck.
The band’s fans are split between the rock fans of the 70’s; the original band, and the ballad audience of the 80’s and 90’s. When I was preparing for this segment of under the classic rock, I tuned into an old video of the band, and a younger associate saw the clip and asked who the band was. I said the original Chicago. They were floored! They had no idea of the hard rocking origins of the band.
Some true and false about The Chicago Transit Authority:
True - The band had to reduce their royalties because of the multi-album format of the band's first four releases.
And false… they didn’t stop doing double albums because of running out of material. It was their record company, and it’s policy of only paying royalties on only ten songs on an album… the first four Chicago albums had between 12 and 31 songs.