Classic Rock News


TBS’s Conan show will have no shortage of talent during next week’s nightly tribute to George Harrison, with Paul Simon being added to the festivities. The tribute to the "Quiet" Beatle is in celebration of the eagerly awaited new Harrison box set, George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-'75, which hits the streets on Tuesday (September 23rd).

George Harrison's widow, Olivia Harrison says that some critics and fans misinterpreted George's spiritual lyrics as being so serious that they bordered on preachy. She says that George often used his songs as his own form of spiritual guidance: "He also wrote these things to remind himself. People sometimes accused him of preaching (laughs). But you know, he was really preaching to himself. He wasn't trying to say, 'You be like this because I'm already like this.' No, he was always trying to remind himself. And that's the reason he liked India so much, because he said that, 'Everywhere you went, there was a reminder.'"

The Conan George Harrison musical tribute schedule is:

  • Monday, September 22nd: Beck
  • Tuesday, September 23rd: Paul Simon
  • Wednesday, September 24th: Dhani Harrison & "Friends"
  • Friday, September 25th: Norah Jones

Every one of Billy Joel’s shows during his ongoing residency at New York City’s Madison Square Garden has been special in its own right -- but Wednesday’s show (September 17th) marked a special moment during Billy's "Big Apple" stand. For the first time since 2009, Billy performed his massive Top Three breakthrough hit "Just The Way You Are" for the hometown crowd. Billy -- who wrote the song about his first wife and early manager, Elizabeth Weber Joel -- has stayed away from the track for the better part of 20 years despite it being by far the biggest copyright in his entire catalogue.

Billy also took time out during the show to salute Jimi Hendrix’s September 18th birthday with a quick run-through of "Hey Joe," played a portion of AC/DC’s "Highway To Hell," and paid homage to his idols, the Beatles, inserting snippets of their "A Hard Day’s Night" and "With A Little Help From My Friends" into "The River Of Dreams."

  • Billy Joel recently granted an in-depth musical interview to, and shed some light on his massive 1977 hit "Just The Way You Are." Prior to recording the tune during sessions for that year's The Stranger album, Joel had a tough time trying to figure out how to record the song with producer Phil Ramone suggesting a Brazilian baion (pronounced: BY-own) rhythm.
  • Joel explained the difficulties in actualizing the song: "I had a hard time understanding where that song should go because I didn't know if I even liked it. I thought it was a good chord progression, it was a nice melody, I thought the lyrics were well written and it was well intentioned. It's a sweet sentiment. But I was worried that I was going to get tagged as a lounge singer."
  • He went on to explain, "It's what we call a 'chick song.' Y'know, girls would like it but guys would hate it. Even though I liked it musically, I just worried that I would get tagged as a wedding singer kind of guy. So I had problems with the song from the beginning. I mean we didn't even know what drum beat to put on it to make it work. Originally, I think we played it like a cha-cha. Then we tried different rhythms -- samba, merengue and then a baion. Phil Ramone kind of took us through it. He was trying to explain it to Liberty (DeVito), the drummer, how he wanted it. He explained it as a backward samba. But it worked. And it all fell right after that."
  • Shortly before his death last year, Phil Ramone explained that even after his suggestion of rearranging the beat of the song -- not to mention enlisting jazz great Phil Woods to play the song's signature solo -- Joel still couldn't hear a hit: "Songs like 'Just The Way You Are' had to go under such a metamorphosis. And then in desperation, he said 'OK, I'll try it.' We knew at the end of the day -- he said, 'Jesus, this could be a wedding song. What am I supposed to do with that?' And of course I tease him now, I say, 'I hear the wedding song is doing OK.' And when he first went on the road with that song nothing happened. People didn't applaud. It kind of dribbled down at the end. He took it out of his set for a long, long time." :
    October 2 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
    November 25 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
    December 18 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden

Robert Plant’s new solo set with backing band Sensational Space Shifters has earned the former Led Zeppelin frontman a Top 10 hit \on the Billboard 200 album chart. Vintage Vinyl News reported that the album, Lullaby . . . And The Ceaseless Roar, came in a full five spaces under Plant’s previous studio set, 2010’s Band Of Joy, and far below his Top Two runaway hit with Alison Krauss on their groundbreaking 2007 Raising Sand collection. Plant's 2004 album, Mighty Rearranger got as high as Number Four.

On Wednesday (September 17th), Plant joined former squeeze and frequent collaborator Patty Griffin in Nashville to perform Griffin’s "Ohio" during the Americana Music Honors and Awards.

  • Robert Plant told us that the success he found in 2007 with the Raising Sand album both liberated and centered him creatively: "Following the work with Alison Krauss, which was a spectacular revival of my spirit in a way, I felt I could do more or less anything, I could sink and swim. There was no real big partnership moment. I don't have to ask anybody anything. I just stood there a little bit like I did when I was about 17."

It was 33 years ago tonight (September 19th, 1981) that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunited in front of a reported 500,000 fans for a free concert in New York's Central Park. Although the duo had performed together several times after their 1970 break up -- most notably at a fundraiser in 1972 for Democratic Presidential nominee George McGovern, and scoring a Top Ten duet with "My Little Town" in 1975 -- the Concert at Central Park was Simon & Garfunkel's first full-blown reunion concert.

Prior to the show, Simon & Garfunkel butted heads about how the concert should be performed. Garfunkel preferred just the duo as they did in the '60s; two voices along with Simon's guitar. Simon insisted on a full band, including a horn section. Simon explained in Simon & Garfunkel - The Definitive Biography how he convinced Garfunkel to see his way: "I kept saying to him 'Artie, the band will jell and when it does, you'll want to sing. You'll like it.'" The majority of the backing band was familiar with the songs' arrangements, having backed Simon on his then-recent One Trick Pony tour.

  • The show was mainly comprised of Simon & Garfunkel's '60s classics, including "Homeward Bound," "America," "The Sound Of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," "The Boxer," "Old Friends," "April Come She Will," "Scarborough Fair," "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," "America," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and others.
  • The duo also performed several of Simon's '70s hits, such as "Kodachrome," "Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard," "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover," "Still Crazy After All These Years," "Slip Slidin' Away," "American Tune," and Simon's latest hit, 1980's "Late In The Evening," which was featured twice in the show, being reprised as the concert's final encore.
  • The pair made two nods to early influences, playing the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Suzie," and performing Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" in a medley with Simon's "Kodachrome."
  • Art Garfunkel first sang Simon's "American Tune" at the duo's reunion show in Central Park, and has kept it in his solo shows ever since then: "I love Paul's 'American Tune,' and felt such an identity with that kind of song, it's a Bach chorale, that I do it in my show all the time. I never recorded it, but I identify with it, I kind of made it mine. Because it was in the nature of the material. There's a bunch of Paul's things over the years that kill me that I could do my own version of it. Yeah, I suppose that's an interesting album, Garfunkel Does Simon."
  • After the success of Central Park, Simon & Garfunkel spent the better part of 1982 and 1983 touring Europe and North America. Although plans for a reunion album fell through in 1983, the pair reunited live in 1993 and again for their Old Friends tour in 2003-2004, along with dates in 2009.

Jack White launched into a humorous "rant" during a show on Wednesday night (September 17th) at Fenway Park in Boston. According to The Wrap, White trashed Rolling Stone magazine's website for its heavy coverage of the Kardashian family, while also touting mock headlines like "15 Outfits That Will Blow Your Mind That Taylor Swift Wore This Month" and "12 Reasons Rolling Stone Won’t Put a Black-And-White Cover on Your Magazine Unless You’re Dead." He also noted that Rolling Stone owns Us Weekly, which White called the "tabloid capitol of magazines" that had been "keeping paparazzi alive for 20 years."

    White also called out singers who don't actually sing onstage and even lightly smacked Foo Fighters for using two guitarists to play the same exact parts. White later issued a statement in which he called the Foo Fighters comment "a joke," adding that he "has the upmost respect for the Foo Fighters and communicated with Grohl this morning." Even as he kept talking for three minutes during the show, White acknowledged that he was embarking on a "Kanye West-esque rant" and said, "I'm officially supposed to stop now . . . because apparently nowadays you're not allowed to speak to your own fans about anything that could be a rant. Forget ISIS, forget the war in the Middle East, forget any problems at home, forget gay marriage, forget everything you've ever thought about anything. This is not a rant, this is just me saying hello Cleveland!" White concluded by saying, "Brought to you by" White's outspoken nature has gotten him in trouble a few times this year, with apologies issued to the likes of the Black Keys and his former bandmate and ex-wife, White Stripes drummer Meg White. He has also called out the "soundbite, sensationalized" media culture. White is touring in support of his second solo album, Lazaretto, and next stops in Atlanta on Friday (September 19th) for the Music Midtown festival.

It was 41 years ago Saturday (September 20th, 1973) that singer-songwriter Jim Croce died in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Croce had performed that night at Northwestern State University and was scheduled to spend the night in Natchitoches and fly to Dallas the next day, but due to a last minute change of plans, Croce and guitarist Maury Muehleisen left immediately after the show. Their plane crashed shortly after taking off, killing all six passengers on board. Jim Croce was 30-years-old.

Croce is best remembered for his early '70s hits such as the Number One "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)," "You Don't Mess Around With Jim," "I Got a Name," and "I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song."

  • In the weeks and months after his death, Croce's album sales soared when "Time In A Bottle" became a posthumous Number One hit. His son A.J. Croce, who was only two years old when his father died, is now a successful jazz musician. A.J. explained how his father's music continues to inspire him: "His influence on me was there as a songwriter and a storyteller, because he was a great storyteller. That's usually all I can say about it because that influence on my songwriting is a great part of it, because I realized that the importance of the story. . . Well, if there's not a good story there, then there's no point in doing the song."
  • Recently published is I Got A Name: The Jim Croce Story, written by his widow, Ingrid Croce, with her current husband, Jimmy Rock.
  • In August 2013, the Croce estate released the critically acclaimed archival album, Jim Croce: The Lost Recordings. The collection features demos recorded between 1970 and 1972 along with live tracks from 1973.

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