Juicy Tales From Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson

(Reprinted from Rolling Stone)

Sisters publishing memoir ‘Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll’

By Jessica Hopper

After four decades and 30 million albums sold, Ann and Nancy Wilson have  decided to tell their story. This week Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of  Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll (HarperCollins) hits shelves. With  co-author Charles Cross (Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt  Cobain), the Wilson sisters dish on Heart’s formative years, the  inspirations behind their hits and their personal travails, along with some  sordid rock gossip. Here are some of the more notable – and curious – stories  revealed:

During Ann’s junior year in high school, their parents became aware that  their daughters were regularly smoking pot. Having hit a bit of a counterculture  experimental phase, one night after dinner, the Wilson parents suggested that  the whole family toke together. Ann recalls it being rather embarrassing: “It  wasn’t the best pot, but I wasn’t about to share my connection with my  parents.”

“Crazy On You” was inspired by Ann’s first serious romance, with Michael  Fischer, who would soon become Heart’s iron-fisted manager. The pair shacked up  on a hippie commune in Canada. Wilson writes that while the lyrics “were  straight out of the scenes of wild sexuality that went on in the cottage,” they  were also about her feminist awakening and finding empowerment through her  music.

During Heart’s earliest incarnation they were primarily a cover band,  cementing their reputation in the Vancouver club scene with their set of Led  Zeppelin songs. In March 1975, Heart was onstage performing “Stairway to Heaven”  when Zeppelin themselves walked in, fresh from their show at the Pacific  Coliseum. Wilson writes that the foursome seemed oblivious, disappearing into  the club’s inner-sactum, where Jimmy Page was tended to by “his doctor” before  promptly passing out.

When Nancy was on location with her then-husband (and former Rolling  Stone scribe) Cameron Crowe while he was directing the 2001 bomb  Vanilla Sky, the film’s star, Tom Cruise, gave the couple a personally  guided tour of Scientology’s Celebrity Centre.

The early radio success of “Magic Man” was paid for with hookers and cocaine.  The band’s publicist would ferry the Wilson sisters to radio appearances where  they would meet the DJ, do a station ID and then be told to go wait outside.  According to Nancy, “When we were out of the way, he’d pass the DJ a gram of  cocaine or the number of a hooker he’d lined up and say ‘She’s yours, on Heart.’  It wasn’t until years later that the Wilson sisters found out about the shady  dealings that had gone on behind their backs.

The photo negative for a topless picture of Ann Wilson, taken surreptitiously  by Annie Leibovitz, is rotting in a safe deposit box. When a shoot with the  photographer for the band’s Bebe Le Strange-era Rolling Stone cover went south, the band demanded the famed rock photographer destroy her  copy; when she refused, Heart took her to court. The judge ordered the negative  to be kept in a safe deposit box that could only be opened with two keys – one  belonging to Wilson and the other to Leibovitz – insuring it would never see the  light of day.

In the fall of 1982, Heart had a brush with the legendary ego of John Cougar  Mellencamp. The young singer was opening the band’s tour behind Private  Audition, Heart’s first album that wasn’t an immediate million-seller, when  Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” went to number one. He came to the band with a  proposition: “Seeing as your album is a turkey and mine is a hit, care to swap  places?” The Wilson sisters declined, reminding him that the tour had sold out  before he’d even been announced as the opening act.

While Heart was on tour with Van Halen, Alex and Eddie, in their own  fumbling, wasted way, suggested a four-way-of-sorts between them. The sisters  declined, but later that night, when Nancy learned that Eddie didn’t own an  acoustic guitar she was incredulous, and she gave him one of her own before  sending him on his way.  The next morning, after a night-long binge, he  called her hotel room and serenaded her over the phone.

Gift Sales Over a 12-Day Period

funny graphs

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Santa and Mariah Carey’s Boobs: What a Pair

(Source: Mail Online)

Naughty or nice? Mariah Carey upstages Santa in TWO revealing outfits at  Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting performance

It’s been nearly two decades since she  released her holiday hit All I Want for Christmas Is You.

And Mariah Carey on Tuesday night proved just  how enduring the track has been with festive fans as she performed at New York  City’s Rockefeller Center for the annual tree lighting ceremony.

Below the 80ft tall Norway Spruce which will  be lit on Wednesday night, and with Santa Claus by her side, Mariah belted out  the track – and gave fans an eyeful of her ample cleavage while prancing around the stage in a low-cut red and silver dress.

Festive pair: The performers took the stage, decorated with trees, lights and oversized boxes

Temperatures fell into the 30s in midtown  Manhattan on Tuesday night.

And while Mariah acknowledged she would be  performing in the bitter cold, she wasn’t detoured from slipping into a frilly  dress.

Still there wasn’t a hint of a shiver from the star, who daintily held her mic in hand with a pair of opera length red  satin gloves to match her frock.

Naughty or nice? Mariah tossed her hair as Santa looked on

Silver bells: Mariah also donned a wintry silver gown and fur for another number
Glam: The star seemed to be inspired by retro Hollywood glamour

Couple Planning Wedding, Life Despite Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis

Engaged with cancer: Amanda Catano, who has to use a walker to get around, and her fiance Jason Dorais got engaged last week after they learned about her cancer

(Reprinted from Deseret News)

By Emiley Morgan

SALT LAKE CITY — There is cancer in her lungs and in her bones and she has to use a walker to get around, but what Amanda Catano really wants to know is if her visitors have a place to go for the holidays.

“Do you need any water? Drinks or anything?” she asks more than once to those who have come to ask about her story.

She apologizes for the walker.

“Maybe your grandparents have one,” she jokes.

A television camera is situated in her living room and a microphone is clipped to her collar.

“I hear the camera adds 10 pounds. That’s what I need — a little weight gain.”

To say the 32-year-old woman is thin would be an understatement. To say the woman facing stage 4 colon cancer is lovely, charming, funny and warm would also be an understatement.

The first thing her fiancé, Jason Dorais, noticed when he met Catano last year was her sense of humor. Her illness only amplified that and all of the other good things he first saw in her.

“She was always having fun, always upbeat and happy, and I think through this whole process, that has just reaffirmed it,” he said. “She’s staying upbeat and happy and all the initial things I loved about her are even more now.

“I don’t know that it’s changed much of anything, but it’s strengthened what I’d seen earlier, that she could stay like that through tough times.”

The couple got engaged Nov. 10 after they learned about the cancer. Cancer, they said, has a way of making things seem clearer and more urgent. They plan to marry in December.

“I think for us it was that we’re just really excited and looking forward to the future and I feel like we have a really bright future together,” Catano said. “We don’t know how long that is, how many years, but I feel like we can make the most of it and we’ll do well.”

They met through friends in March 2011 and — Dorais especially hates this part — they started a game of Words with Friends. Within a day or so, he asked for her number using the game.

“I think he was like, ‘I know this is kind of lame to do this, but can I get your number?'” she recalled.

They went rock climbing on their first date and have been together since. She said she knew that she wanted to marry him in six months. He recently told her he knew much earlier than that, but held back.

“I guess we’d been thinking about marriage for a while now and I was kind of unsure, as probably any guy would be …,” Dorais starts.

“Because he thought I was crazy and anorexic,” Catano interjects, referring to the dramatic weight loss and emotional struggles before her diagnosis. “And then I get cancer and that’s when he decides.”

Catano said she first noticed something was off when she was training for the Ogden Marathon in January and started experiencing frequent incidences of diarrhea. It was abnormal, but she chalked it up to the increased running.

But it persisted, even after she had run the marathon, and she noticed she was more fatigued. When things worsened, she called a doctor. She had searched the Internet about her symptoms, but ruled out colon cancer as a possibility because of her age and lack of family history with the illness.

The initial tests showed nothing, but she was advised to follow up with a gastroenterologist.

“In retrospect, I look back and I really wasn’t myself last year,” she said. “I feel like I was … something just felt off and that’s what drove me to go in and find out what was going on. I just didn’t feel healthy, I didn’t feel like myself.”

She had a colonoscopy on Sept. 11 and it showed a mass. She was told immediately it was most likely cancer. Further tests confirmed this.

“I think it was just a shock,” she said. “I’m a really healthy person. I’m active, I eat healthy, I’m fairly happy so it was a huge surprise and a huge shock. It wasn’t something I ever anticipated. Cancer doesn’t run in my family, so it was a little bit surreal.”

Dorais was also blindsided. As a medical resident at University Hospital, he wondered how he hadn’t piece it together.

“(It was) not what you expect in a young, healthy girl and … she’d  been complaining about these things for the last eight months, six months, so part of it was, ‘Why didn’t I pay attention and think about this earlier?'” he said. “Cancer is something I see a fair amount at work and it’s just like, ‘Why couldn’t I put that together with someone that I’m so close to?'”

She had an operation to remove part of her colon, her appendix and part of her small bowel. Dorais’ medical experience was invaluable in helping her deal with that and ongoing chemotherapy and radiation.

“To me, it was this huge ordeal and something I really struggled with and seeing Jason not make a big deal about it, crack jokes about it … I mean there was a time where he had come over twice a day and change my wound because I just couldn’t do it myself,” she said. “I couldn’t bring myself to pack this open gaping wound, but for him it’s what he’s been trained to do. I think that’s really helped me accept it. Now it’s like, fine, no big deal, who cares? I have a poop bag on my waist. No big deal.”

Catano said there is still “a little bit of disbelief” about all of it. For the most part, though, she thinks she’s doing well.

“I haven’t been angry or really asking, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ so much as it’s just kind of what life has dealt me,” she said. “I’m trying to just kind of roll with it and do the best I can, I guess.”

Remaining upbeat has been key for Catano and she believes her attitude has been an antidote. It was what helped her fiancé most after her diagnosis.

“It was kind of hard, but she’s stayed positive and I think that helps a lot — seeing someone stay happy and move forward and that’s been the plan so far to just kind of keep going, right?” he said.

“Yes,” she affirmed.

“She stays positive and that makes it easier,” he said. “It’s not great watching it, but that is the silver lining — seeing her happy and seeing her get a little better.”

Dorais has always been dependable and reliable and he has continued to be someone she can count on. But all of this has shown her a more sensitive side of him. She jokes that it’s been the first time she’s seen that he has emotions.

“Sometimes situations like this bring out different sides to people, a great side, but a bad side, too, but I feel like maybe this brought out the best in both of us,” she said.

In the past month, Dorais said whatever uncertainty he felt about getting married before has disappeared. She said the same. He asked her friends to help him pick out a ring. Catano has had difficulties walking and doesn’t often leave her home, so he wondered how to surprise her.

One Saturday, just after a nap, they started talking about the future that they wanted.

“I just put the ring on and asked her and she was like, ‘What? What are you doing? What is going on? This doesn’t make sense,'” he recalled.

“I was like, ‘What?!’ You know, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes,” she added.

“It’s something I knew that I wanted to do,” he explained. “It’s something that she saw happening and I want to be able to do that. Again, time may or may not be limited, but if it’s something we’ve always thought about, something we’ve always seen ourselves doing and it’s an easy decision, then why would cancer change that?”

They are ready. And they feel like it adds some normalcy to their lives, being able to plan a wedding and get married — cancer be damned. They’re shooting for Dec. 21.

“We’re thinking Timpanogos Temple,” she said and turned to Dorais, “You still on board with that?”

“Sure,” he said.

“A simple luncheon afterwards, something that’s just kind of simple. I probably won’t have much more energy than for a wedding and a luncheon,” Catano said. “We’re pretty excited to get married and move on. Any form of normalcy, I just kind of cling on to that, because life hasn’t been normal for the last couple months and you’re looking for anything to just be normal and just get back to living.”

She hopes the wedding will be a celebration, “a holiday” for those closest to them.

Cancer has already changed a lot of things and not all of them have been bad. Catano said she sees her friends, family and loved ones more.

“When your mortality is handed to you, if anything, you realize relationships are really key and important,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been relying pretty heavily on the people in my life. They’ve really made me happy and not that you should rely on other things or people to make you happy, but that’s why you have each other, to kind of help each other out when times are bad. It’s been really helpful.

“Catch me next week when I’m day one of chemo and you’ll probably get a different story, but I couldn’t do this without all those people in my life.”

She’s also come to realize that attitude really is everything and self-pity is a slippery slope. People matter most and life is full of blessings.

“My sister has been sending me all these inspirational quotes every day and one of them said that cancer is not a death sentence, but a life sentence in that it kind of pushes you to live,” she said. “I think it’s caused me to really think about what’s important and what’s worth stressing about and there are so many things in life to be happy for even when you’re suffering or in pain. I think, hopefully, in retrospect this will teach me some really good life lessons and I’ll be able to live a better life because of what I’m going through now.”

Also, insurance is important.

“You got to get it!” she announced, praising her employer, Alianza Academy, and her gratitude for their support. “I just feel like there’s so many blessings in spite of the fact that, you know, stage four cancer kind of sucks.”

At this point in time, the goal is to be walking by the new year. Better still if she can walk by the time they get married.

“I’m hoping to be able to walk on my wedding day without the use of a walker or a cane,” she said.

She feels like she has years still and is optimistic about children. She appears radiant and confident. He is the same.

“I’ve seen a more emotional side of him and I would have married him without seeing that and hoped for it later, but I knew he had it in him,” she said. “You want to know that, that the person you’re going to be with for the rest of your life is going to take care of you through thick and thin. And this is pretty thick. He hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s stuck with me.”

The couple’s friend, Sam Dickens, chimed in: “They are two of the best people I know.”

“Aw, Sam. You don’t have to say that,” Catano said.

She turned to a reporter, “But did you write that down?”

Catano’s family and friends have set up a YouCaring account to help pay for medical expenses at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/amandacatanosmedicalexpensefundraiser/27013

Recommended Albums #31

Wee Hours Revue

Roman Candle: The Wee Hours Revue (2006)

Once in a while a band comes along that challenges your ability to categorize, even for the sake of recommending, or to put your finger on a template for. North Carolina’s Roman Candle are nominally an alt country band (I suppose) but while their songs may call other bands to mind at times, they really sound like no one–they are the rare band who are their own template.

A reviewer in the Charlotte Observer used Goats Head Soup-era Rolling Stones for comparison, and that’s as good a match as any. But I won’t hesitate to say this is a better record. There are few if any weak moments–from beginning to end it’s a melodic mix of grit and sensitivity, sometimes woven together seamlessly.

NC locals knew and raved about this band for years before this album, which was shelved for about four years by the record company, finally was released in 2006. I can’t name a better album released that year.

Roman Candle is chiefly front man Skip Matheny, his wife Timshel on keyboards and his brother Logan on drums. In person they impress you as some of the most unassuming and personable people in the music business, truly the kind of folks that deserve success. But I think talent will be the determining factor, and a listen to The Wee Hours Revue will convince you they’ve got it in spades. This might just be your next favorite band.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/01/10/songs-you-may-have-missed-287/

Listen to: “Something Left to Say”

Listen to: “You Don’t Belong to This World”

Listen to: “Another Summer”

Listen to: “New York This Morning”

Listen to: “Winterlight”

Recommended Albums #30

Tir Na Nog: Strong in the Sun (1973)

For ears accustomed to contemporary pop music alone, this one’s a reach. But for the more adventurous ear, or for those who like 70’s Irish and English pop-folk, this is an album you should know about. As one Amazon.com reviewer put it: If you like it, you’ll love it.

Tir Na Nog are Sonny Condell and Leo O’Kelly, who met in Dublin in 1969. Discovering that they both had plans to relocate and give the more extensive London folk scene a go, they decided to form a duo. On their arrival in London, not only were they able almost immediately to line up a steady stream of gigs, but their within a week their demo tapes earned them a contract from Chrysalis Records.

Their Celtic-rooted folk, with intricate guitar accompaniment and idiosyncratic lyrics made an immediate impression on folk and rock audiences alike; not only did they headline shows at colleges and London folk clubs, but they toured Europe in support of arena-filling acts such as Jethro Tull, Hawkwind, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Procol Harum, The Who, Cat Stevens, Roxy Music and Elton John.

Such was their reputation’s rise over two years and two albums that when it came time to record Strong in the Sun they were booked into Sound Techniques studio in London, where people like Paul McCartney and Wings worked, and much sought-after engineer Geoff Emerick, who’d worked on albums such as Sgt. Pepper and Revolver, was hired on to work with them.

tijr

Where their 1971 eponymous first album was filled with simply arranged, pastoral acoustic folk inspired by the Irish countryside, their second album, 1972’s A Tear and a Smile, found them moving slightly and subtly toward fuller arrangements and using a full drum kit for the first time. Strong in the Sun in 1973 completed the transition, and pushed the envelope of folk rock into full rock band territory. However, the album is not without a few sensitive acoustic moments that revisit the sound of the earlier work.

The album’s only non-original is a rather drastic reworking of Nick Drake’s ‘Free Ride’. Tir Na Nog were the only artists to cover Drake while he was still living. They were also perhaps the first to use what is now called “sampling”–the song ‘Cinema’ contains an instrumental bridge overlaid with a bit of audio from an old Henry Fonda Western.

tir

The two held an art-over-commerce ethic throughout their major label run. Their first album did not see U.S. release because Chrysalis insisted they include Bob Dylan’s ‘Maggie’s Farm’, a concert favorite, on the record. Sonny and Leo refused and the label did not release the LP in the States as a result. When the record company suggested they include printed lyrics with their second album as was becoming customary at the time the two again stood their ground and refused on the principle that to do so separates music and lyrics, which they saw as inseparable. When Chrysalis executives heard demos of their third and final record, Strong in the Sun, they insisted Sonny and Leo start over and record the whole album again–new studio, new producer, new backing musicians. The pair went along and rerecorded the album, but it turned out to be the last time they chose to work for a major label.

Paul McCartney was said to be a big fan of Strong in the Sun. Knowing this, Sonny and Leo wanted to ask Paul to produce the next Tir Na Nog single, but it never happened. They’d had enough of a demanding touring schedule and of compromising with a major record label. Although they’d already begun writing material for a fourth album, they instead broke off from Chrysalis and went back to Ireland, leaving a legacy of three cult-favorite albums of progressive folk. Not many artists drop their record company and leave the major label world on their own terms. It’s a testament to the quality of the music that several reissue labels–Edsel, BGO and, most recently, Esoteric Recordings–have licensed it over the years, and all three of Tir Na Nog’s albums remain in print to this day.

Listen to: “The Wind Was High”

 

Listen to: “In the Morning”

 

Listen to: “Most Magical”

 

Listen to: “Teesside”

 

Listen to: “Strong in the Sun”

See also:

https://edcyphers.com/2013/04/21/songs-you-may-have-missed-395/

See also:

https://edcyphers.com/2017/09/12/songs-you-may-have-missed-617/

15 Nerd Weddings and one WTF?

Photographer Catches on Fire at Wedding

Enormous Dancing Mob Surprise Wedding

The Greatest Week in Rock History

(Reprinted from Salon)

Thirty-four years ago this week, the Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, Temptations, Santana, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Creedence Clearwater  all shared top billing on the Billboard album chart. There’s never been another lineup quite like it — and there will never be again.

By Eric Boehlert

1969 had it all. From Woodstock and Nixon’s inauguration to the Manson murders, the Miracle Mets, Chappaquiddick, the man on the moon, Butch and Sundance, the Chicago Eight conspiracy trial, the Beatles’ farewell performance, and “Vietnamization,” the year was drenched in milestones:

And in late December, 1969 also boasted the greatest week in rock history — seven days when revolutionary rock ‘n’ roll, powerhouse R&B, and shimmering pop creations all shared top billing as they never have before or since.

Singling out one week in rock history might seem absurd. Rock’s about to turn 50 years old (whether you date its birth on July 9, 1955, the day Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” hit No. 1, or on July 5th, 1954, the day Elvis Presley recorded the legendary Sun Sessions) and more than 2,500 weeks have passed since. But there’s a unique way to systematically rate rock’s past and try to uncover the best single week: simply chose the one that had, album-for-album, the 10 best entries atop the Billboard 200 album chart. A week when the top 10 had no fluff filler, no disposable pop creations, and no dreadful trend imitators. A week that boasted the best collection ever assembled at the pinnacle of the charts at any given moment. Not the 10 best albums of all time, necessarily: that would be too much to hope for. But the week when record buyers produced a lineup of albums unmatched, taken as a whole, for quality, originality and longevity.

The method is subjective, of course, because sales charts aren’t perfect barometers of quality. For instance, Bob Marley and the Wailers’ reggae landmark, “Catch a Fire,” only climbed to No. 171, while the Replacements’ post-punk classic, “Let it Be,” never charted at all, like hundreds of other worthy titles. And, of course, the charts are full of Barry Manilow, United Fruit Company and Iron Butterfly titles whose vinyl originals now repose in thrift store bins and moldy dumpsters across America. Yet over the years the charts (i.e. consumers) have proven to be a remarkably reliable way of tracking superior work — mainly because great rock has often also been successful rock. When Rolling Stone magazine editors recently named the 500 greatest albums of all time, nine of the magazine’s first 10 choices had peaked inside Billboard’s top 10. (The lone exception was the Clash’s “London Calling,” which only reached as high as No. 27.)

That’s why, for me, Dec. 20, 1969, represents rock’s summit:

No. 1, “Abbey Road,” the Beatles No. 2, “Led Zeppelin II,” Led Zeppelin No. 3, “Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas,” Tom Jones No. 4, “Green River,” Creedence Clearwater Revival No. 5, “Let It Bleed,” the Rolling Stones No. 6, “Santana,” Santana No. 7, “Puzzle People,” the Temptations No. 8, “Blood Sweat & Tears,” Blood Sweat & Tears No. 9, “Crosby, Stills & Nash,” Crosby, Stills & Nash No. 10, “Easy Rider” soundtrack (featuring the Byrds, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Steppenwolf)

Simply having three masterpieces together in the same week — the Beatles’ final studio gem, “Abbey Road,” the revolutionary heavy-metal precursor “Led Zeppelin II,” and the Stones’ audacious, apocalyptic “Let It Bleed” — would be enough to mark Dec. 20, 1969 as a special chart entry. (All right, I know Led Zeppelin isn’t quite in the same league as the Beatles and the Stones, and I already hear the shrieks that C,S & N was the week’s third masterpiece. But I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green.)

But add in the historic debuts by Latin-rock guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana and the tight, high harmonies of CS&N, a classic Creedence album from a quintessential American band at its creative and commercial peak, a daring new “psychedelic soul” offering from the greatest male vocal group of all time, the Temptations, a groundbreaking movie soundtrack, jazz-rock pioneers Blood Sweat & Tears, and pop powerhouse Tom Jones, and you get a week in rock that’s gone unmatched since.

Soft spots in the lineup? Some people might point to Jones, the sweaty pop swinger, or Blood Sweat & Tears. But I think they’re worthy entries, although they bring up the all-star week’s rear. There’s something authentic and enduring about Jones’ unabashed, swiveling-hips bravado. And forget the fact that middle-aged women later took to throwing their underwear at him — the man from Wales could flat-out belt. “What’s New Pussycat” still stands as one of pop’s great guilty pleasures. And have you listened to “It’s Not Unusual” lately?

As for Blood Sweat & Tears, the nine-piece band in ’69 was arguably bigger than the Beatles, eventually selling 3 million album copies (an unheard-of tally back then) and racking up huge hits with “Spinning Wheel,” “And When I Die,” and “God Bless The Child.” With David Clayton-Thomas’ locomotive vocals and the horn section blasting out slick three-part harmonies, the Greenwich Village group captured, however fleetingly, something distinctive on that album. (The band’s co-founder, Al Kooper, left before the band’s meteoric rise in ’69. During the week of Dec. 20, though, he was right alongside his band-mates in the top 10, playing French horn on the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What you Want” from “Let It Bleed.”)

Regardless, just imagine the mix tape possibilities from that single ’69 week. “Come Together,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “The Weight,” “It’s Not Unusual,” “Green River,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Wooden Ships,” “Gimme Shelter,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Evil Ways,” “And When I Die,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” and “Born to Be Wild.”

Seven of the acts from that December week have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And if you include the appearances of the Byrds and Jimi Hendrix on the “Easy Rider” soundtrack, as well as songwriting credits by Bob Dylan and The Band’s Robbie Robertson, that’s 11 Hall of Famers side-by-side in one week. Not to mention some of rock’s most inventive guitarists: Keith Richards, Roger McGuinn, Jimmy Page, George Harrison, Carlos Santana and, of course, Jimi Hendrix.

And just FYI, no, this week does not represent some sort of a nostalgic trip back in time for me; in Dec. ’69, I had just turned 4 years old. Later, during my key record-buying years, I had no patience for backward-looking classic rock. And in high school I managed to avoid going through a Who, Zeppelin, or Doors phase. (My lone ’60s/’70s indulgence was the Kinks.)

But these ’69 albums have weathered time as if coated with Armor-All. If you can somehow wipe away the countless times you’ve heard them on monotonous classic rock radio, or being piped into the dairy aisle in your local grocery store, and you can start fresh and hear the songs on a top-flight sound system, most of the albums still crackle with excitement, 34 years later. (I’d concede, though, that portions of the “Easy Rider” soundtrack, “Blood Sweat & Tears,” and “Santana” can sound a bit dated.)

Using the Billboard album chart as the benchmark, there have been other great weeks in rock history. For instance, on Sept. 4, ’65, the Rolling Stones’ “Out of Our Heads,” the Beach Boys “Summer Days (And Summer Nights),” “Beatles VI,” Dylan’s “Bringing it All Back Home,” and “Sinatra ’65″ were all bunched together in a one-of-a-kind top 10. Unfortunately, the week also featured the soundtracks to “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music” — albums, for all their undoubted virtues, that would have a hard time going mano-a-mano with “Satisfaction.”

Other weeks worthy of mention include March 23, ’68 (Aretha Franklin, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan (“John Wesley Harding”), the Beatles (“Magical Mystery Tour”), Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and the Supremes and Otis Redding); Nov. 23, ’74 (the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, David Bowie and Lou Reed); Sept. 8, ’79 (The Knack, Supertramp, The Cars, Chic, Neil Young, the Commodores, and Led Zeppelin); Oct. 24, ’92 (Garth Brooks, REM, Eric Clapton, Peter Gabriel, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Mary J. Blige); Oct. 17, ’98 (Jay-Z, Outkast, Tribe Called Quest, Lauryn Hill, Sheryl Crow, Kirk Franklin, and Shania Twain), and Sept. 28, 2002 (Dixie Chicks, Eminem, Nelly, Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, Coldplay, and James Taylor).

Using the same album-for-album chart criteria, I’d nominate Sept. 2, 1989 as the Worst Week in Rock History.

No. 1 “Repeat Offender,” Richard Marx No. 2. “Hangin’ Tough,” NKOTB No. 3. “Batman” soundtrack No. 4. “Forever Your Girl,” Paula Abdul No. 5. “Girl You Know It’s True,” Milli Vanilli No. 6. “Full Moon Fever,” Tom Petty No. 7. “Skid Row” Skid Row. No. 8. “The Raw and the Cooked,” Fine Young Cannibals No. 9. “Cuts Both Ways” Gloria Estefan No. 10. “End of Innocence,” Don Henley

The nation’s collective ears must have been stuffed with wax that week (or year). You almost feel sorry for Petty, Henley and the Fine Young Cannibals, trapped forever with this rogues’ gallery of career offenders. (Milli Vanilli??)

Readers may wonder why there are no contemporary charts like these — no weeks when Radiohead, Norah Jones and Alicia Keys all rub shoulders in the top 10, without bumping into forgettable pop entries. There are several reasons why critically acclaimed rock albums charted higher in the ’60s than they do now. First, there were simply fewer records released back then, so the odds of having success were better. Also, far fewer people were buying records, so it took fewer sales to hit the top 10. By the end of 1969, only 20 albums in the history of rock had ever sold 1 million copies. (“Crosby, Stills and Nash” and “Santana” were the 18th and 20th, respectively.) By contrast, this year alone nearly 50 albums sold 1 million copies or more, a difference that far outpaces the country’s population gains since 1969. Also, young teens were still buying more singles than albums in 1969. That meant the demographic of heavy album buyers was concentrated among white college-age kids, giving their favorite rock acts an inside track on the Billboard charts.

But it wasn’t just the individual songs and singles that made the week of Dec. 20, ’69, stand out. In many ways, rock ‘n’ roll was the ’60s — it played a defining role in American culture that’s hard even to imagine now. Listening to this music, even for those of us who didn’t live through those days, summons up the extraordinary and tumultuous history of which they were such an integral part.

Screenwriter Buck Henry once reminisced to the Los Angeles Times about the summer of ’69: “I had a house up above the Strip and I could look down on about a dozen houses, which all had swimming pools, and not a day went by when there weren’t naked people in those pools. There was a lot of dope-inspired, orgiastic behavior. It was like Hollywood was this pond filled with drugs and hippie girls.” (All that free love would soon have a consequence: California’s no-fault divorce law went into effect Jan. 1, 1970, helping to usher in the Me Decade.)

In December 1969, that orgiastic mix of sex, drugs and spirituality spilled off the Billboard album charts. While the Beatles were urging us to “come together,” Mick Jagger and the crew were busy searching for “someone we can cream on.” Around the same time, roadies one day knocked on Jimmy Page’s hotel room door to tell him that they were gang-banging Cynthia Plaster Caster upstairs in a bathtub of baked beans. Jimmy went up to watch, according to Stephen Davis’ band biography, “Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga.” The boys in CS&N also overindulged: “We’d get so high,” David Crosby once said of the group’s early time in the studio. “I cannot tell a lie. We used to smoke a joint and snort a line before every [recording] session. That was a ritual.” (As for the Stones, bassist Bill Wyman, accustomed to having groupies attend to his needs after every show, reportedly became severely depressed one night when the girls failed to show up. When someone asked him what the matter was, he despondently replied, “No birds.”)

It was also a time of jarring violence that seemed to unfold with numbing regularity. Just look at this bloody newsreel covering four days in December ’69:

  • Dec. 4. During a pre-dawn raid, Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and fellow Panther, Mark Clark, are shot to death by Chicago police officers who raid Hampton’s apartment and riddle it with 90-plus bullets. Despite police claims that a gunfight broke out when they went to search the apartment for guns, investigators later concluded the Panthers managed just a single gunshot in defense.
  • Dec. 5. Life magazine publishes Ronald Haeberle’s full-color photos of the scene at My Lai, Vietnam, erasing any doubt about what had taken place at the village one year earlier: the mass murder of 300 apparently unarmed Vietnamese civilians at the hands of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade. (In 1971, platoon leader Lt. William Calley was found guilty in the murder of at least 22 Vietnamese civilians; at Nixon’s behest Calley served under house arrest, doing his three-and-a-half years time while living in an apartment at Ft. Benning, Ga.)
  • Dec. 6. The Rolling Stones host a doomed free outdoor concert at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California. Taking a tip from the Grateful Dead, the Stones hire the Hells Angels to keep the peace at Altamont, paying them $500 and free beer. Instead, the bikers hand out their own unique brand of justice, cracking heads literally, even knocking a member of Jefferson Airplane unconscious. Halfway through “Under My Thumb,” a scuffle breaks out to the left of the stage. 18-year-old Meredith Hunter from Berkeley, Calif., pulls out a gun and points it at an Angel who was grabbing his throat. They struggle and an Angel stabs Hunter in the head and then twice more in the back. Then a dozen Angels stomp him to death. Minutes later the Stones, oblivious to the nearby execution, play for the first time live their brand-new song, “Brown Sugar.”
  • Dec. 8, Charles Manson and members of his cult are indicted for the “Helter Skelter” killings of Sharon Tate and five others in the Hollywood Hills on Aug. 9. Manson believed the bloody executions he orchestrated would spark a race war and an Armageddon he called “Helter Skelter,” supposedly predicted in the Beatles song of the same name. After the bloodshed, Manson’s “family” would emerge from their safe hiding place in the Mojave Desert, and take over what remained of the United States.Of course, the backdrop for the killing culture was the ongoing Vietnam War. In April 1969, U.S. troop levels there hit 543,400, the highest reached at any time during the war. By the week of Dec. 20, Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy of slowly withdrawing troops had drawn down that force to approximately 470,000. Nonetheless, by ’69 American combat deaths in Vietnam topped 33,700, surpassing the U.S. death tally for Korean War.

    On Dec. 1 of that year, the Selective Service conducted its first draft lottery since 1942, pulling out Ping-Pong balls at random with birth dates. The event determined the order of call for induction during calendar year 1970, that is, for registrants born between Jan. 1, 1944, and Dec. 31, 1950.

    Appropriately, just as unlucky draftees were about to be shipped off, farewells were in the air on pop radio at the close of December 1969, with “Leaving On a Jet Plane” (Peter, Paul, and Mary), and “Someday We’ll Be Together” (Diana Ross & The Supremes) coming in at 1 and 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Those were sentimental expressions of hope. Sitting behind them at No. 3, though, was a song that had Vietnam on its mind, that put its stamp on the ’60s at its close, but couldn’t be bothered with sentimentality — Creedence Clearwater Revival’s pounding “Fortunate Son,” which stands among rock’s most exhilarating 2:18.

    In it, growling lead singer John Fogerty declares unabashed class warfare:

    Some folks are born silver spoon in hand Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh. But when the taxman come to the door, Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes

    and undresses the Pentagon:

    Some folks are born made to wave the flag, ooh, they’re red, white and blue. And when the band plays “Hail To The Chief,” oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord.

    Fogerty, who until two years earlier was serving once a month in the Army Reserve, wrote “Fortunate Son” in 20 minutes, sitting on the edge of a bed with a legal pad in his lap. “It’s a confrontation between me and Richard Nixon,” he once said.

    Incredibly, “Fortunate Son” doesn’t even appear on “Green River,” the CCR album in the top 10 for Dec. 20, ’69. That’s because Fogerty was so prolific, his singles and albums were beginning to pile up on the charts. (The band’s first three albums each cost $2,000 to make and were recorded in one week’s time.) In 1969 alone, CCR released an unheard-of three studio albums that produced not-a-note wasted classics like “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Down on the Corner.”

    In just over 18 months the band tallied seven top 10 singles, most of them with B-side winners to boot. Like Elvis in ’56, the Beatles in ’64, the Bee Gees in ’78 and Michael Jackson in ’83, CCR, with its mixture of Southern Creole styles and tight rockabilly touch, owned American pop music in ’69. As Rob Sheffield put it in Rolling Stone, “for a year or two there, Creedence were as great as any rock & roll band could ever be.”

    At the same time, the Rolling Stones also found themselves in a wicked groove. Rebounding from the psychedelic mess of 1967′s “Their Satanic Majesties Request,” the band answered with “Beggar’s Banquet” in ’68, and then hit back even harder with “Let It Bleed.” From the opening masterpiece “Gimme Shelter,” which writer Greil Marcus dubbed “the greatest rock and roll recording ever made,” “Let It Bleed” is soaked in addiction (“All my friends are junkies”) violence, (“I’ll stick my knife down your throat, baby”), more violence (“You knifed me in my dirty filthy basement”), and lament (“You can’t always get what you want”). It’s all wrapped around some of the sturdiest, most exhilarating songs ever put to vinyl. “THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD,” the inside album sleeve commands, and millions of rock fans happily obeyed.

    “No rock record, before or since, has ever so completely captured the sense of palpable dread that hung over its era,” wrote Stephen Davis in his Stones book, “Old Gods Almost Dead.”

    “It’s kind of an end-of-the-world thing,” Jagger said of “Let it Bleed.” “It’s Apocalypse; the whole record’s like that.” (The best trivia tidbit: That’s not Charlie Watts smacking the skins on the closing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” it’s producer Jimmy Miller, the same “Mr. Jimmy” who Jagger sings about seeing at the Chelsea drugstore.)

    In the fall of ’69, the band, never shy about its love of money, even while playing to the Woodstock nation, faced critics’ wrath for charging high prices — $5.50 and $8.50 — for its 13-city, 18-concert tour of the U.S. Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, respected music scribe Ralph J. Gleason complained, “Can the Rolling Stones actually need all that money?”

    At a Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel press conference, Jagger fended off the criticism by suggesting the band might play a free thank-you show at the conclusion of the tour. Or, as the band’s promoter later told the New York Times, “It’s a Christmas and Hanukkah gift from the Stones to American youth.”

    That “gift,” fittingly for this “Let it Bleed” moment in rock history, turned out to be Altamont.

    With their new ’69 album “Puzzle People,” the Temptations were offering up a different kind of gift intended for black America. The greatest male vocal group of all time (“My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t too Proud to Beg,” “Just My Imagination”), the Temps were a testament to the polished Motown sound that helped define the decade. By ’69 though, the group was staking out new territory. Yes, the albums boasted the prerequisite fireball single, the R&B smash “Can’t Get Next to You” that crossed over to No. 1 on the pop charts. But two years before Motown icon Marvin Gaye tackled social issues with his breakthrough release, “What’s Goin’ On,” the Temps took a hard look around. On “Puzzle People,” gone from the album cover photo was the trademark Motown matching suits. Instead, it was the Temps in afros, psychedelic shirts and smart street suits, hanging out on the stoop of a inner-city building, far away from the safe supper clubs they often played. “Puzzle People” was part of the Temps’ “psychedelic soul” phase, which began earlier that year with the release of the “Cloud Nine” album.

    Politically, the “Puzzle People” highlight was “Message From a Black Man”: “Your eyes are open but you refuse to see/The laws of society were made for both you and me.” It was the Temps’ answer to James Brown’s anthem, “Say It Out (I’m Black and I’m Proud).”

    The timing was dead-on: On Dec. 20, 1969, in the wake of the Black Panther slayings, Chicago’s superintendent of police announced there had been “no misconduct by the police officers involved” in the raid. “Message From a Black Man” emerged as an unofficial Black Power anthem.

    The Beatles came bearing a gift of their own in late ’69: “Abbey Road,” which reigned at No. 1 for 18 weeks in the U.K., 11 in the U.S. Unhappy with the recording of “Let it Be,” which was actually released after “Abbey Road,” the world’s most famous rock band returned to EMI Studio No 3, Abbey Road, London NW8, in July and August of ’69 for their final sessions.

    For a band that was on the verge of breaking up, amid personal squabbling and broken business deals, “Abbey Road” is surprisingly bright, at times seamless, and often silly (“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” “Octopus’s Garden.”) Not as groundbreaking as “Rubber Soul” or “Revolver,” “Abbey Road” is still a classic of pop songwriting, led by John Lennon’s “Come Together,” which was inspired by Timothy Leary’s run at California governor (Leary’s slogan was “Come together, join the party”) and the hard-rocking “She’s So Heavy.” Side 2′s suite of song fragments, with their haunting melodies and great transitions (“You Never Give Me Your Money,” “Carry That Weight”) is unique in the Beatles’ repertory. And of course pop doesn’t come much more perfect than George Harrison’s unabashedly optimistic “Here Comes the Sun,” written using a guitar borrowed from Eric Clapton, while sitting in his friend’s garden.

    As the final true track on “Abbey Road,” the last album recorded by the Beatles, “The End” served as the band’s good-bye to the decade and an era. And they signed off with a Paul McCartney note of unquenchable optimism: “And in the end/The love you take/Is equal to the love you make.”

    On Dec. 20, ’69, “Abbey Road” sat at No. 1 in the U.S. At No. 2 was “Led Zeppelin II,” and barreling into the ’70s? the band offered a radically different take on love. Opening with the carnal “Whole Lotta Love,” complete with Jimmy Page’s famous guitar stutter, the song single-handedly ushered in rock’s next major chapter: “Way way down inside/ I’m gonna give you my love/ I’m gonna give you every inch of my love.”

    Heavy metal was born. Not just the relentless, thundering sound, but the strutting, cocksure attitude that would dominate rock (often in inflated, caricatured forms) for years to come. “‘Whole Lotta Love’ was an emergency telegram to a new generation,” wrote Davis in “Hammer of the Gods.” “In its frenzy of sex, chaos, and destruction, it seemed to conjure all the chilling anxieties of the dying decade. Ironically, the song (and Led Zeppelin) didn’t much appeal to the kids of the sixties, who had grown up with the Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan. Tired, jaded, disillusioned, they were turning towards softer sound, country rock. But their younger siblings, the high school kids, were determined to have more fun. Zed Zeppelin was really their band. For the next decade Led Zeppelin would be the unchallenged monarchs of high school parking lots all over America.”

    The ’60s were over, literally and figuratively. And during the final week of ’69, in a nice piece of symbolic symmetry, the Beatles, the quintessential ’60s band, and Led Zeppelin, soon-to-be ’70s rock gods, flip-flopped their No. 1 and No. 2 spots atop the Billboard album chart.

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