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Author Jeff Slate

“I love this place and it means a lot to me, because when I was young, before I wanted to be a lumberjack, I really, really wanted to be an explorer,” Monty Python’s Michael Palin tells me, as we sit in an office at New York City’s venerable Explorer’s Club. “It was very frustrating living in the north of England and wanting to be an explorer, partly because I couldn’t grow up fast enough. Places were being explored, and the unknown places were shrinking away. We had climbed Everest, but I had only been as far as Nottingham. It was…

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“Prince had this conversation with Mo Ostin, the head of Warner Brothers Records, on the phone,” Michael Bland, who was a member of Prince’s New Power Generation, and who has played with Soul Asylum for more than 15 years, recalls of his time working with the legend in the 1990s. “They were talking about some business, and Mo brought up the album that was due. Prince told him that he hadn’t even begun work on it, and that it was just a concept. My understanding is that Mo’s response was, ‘Well, whatever, it’s ours anyway.’ Prince got off the phone…

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Today, April 1, 2019, is the 35th anniversary of the day legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye passed away, and the eve of what would have been his 80th birthday. To honor his memory, here’s Jeff Slate’s feature with Gaye’s biographer, David Ritz, on the singer’s previously ‘lost’ album You’re the Man, which was released on March 29. In 1972, Marvin Gaye was on top of the world. The singles “What’s Going On” — the title track from the universally acclaimed album — plus “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler”),” also from What’s Going…

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“Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were a big part of how we all learned how to do this thing in the first place,” Dawes’ singer and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith tells me when our conversation turns to the legendary rocker, and his band. “Benmont Tench, especially, has become a friend, but he was such an inspiration, too.” Dawes burst onto the scene from a Los Angeles suburb in 2009, and, after a brief foray into punk, quickly carved out a niche in the burgeoning Americana circuit. Inspired by the music made by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, and so…

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Public Enemy’s Chuck D is on a mission. As one of the godfathers of modern hip hop, he’s has taken on the mantle of elder statesman of the genre, in an effort to ensure that it’s now 40-plus year history is held in the same esteem as that of rock and roll, country, jazz and the blues. “Rap is a truly American art form that’s been around now for almost half a century, but it’s not taken all that seriously,” he tells Rock Cellar. “I think that needs to change, and I’m going to do what I can to make…

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Drummer Denny Seiwell discusses his time with Paul McCartney and Wings, his friendship with McCartney over the years and much more …  When The Beatles imploded, Paul McCartney, by all accounts, was shattered. Without a band, or the friends that had traveled that remarkable road together with him, he retreated with his new wife Linda to his Scottish farm, with its barebones living quarters, and, depressed, he drank himself into a stupor. “I think I was just trying to escape in my own mind,” McCartney said in 2012. “I had the freedom to just have a drink whenever I fancied…

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Reggie Griffith, Prince’s sometime front of house sound engineer, recalls vividly what it took to work with the icon, though he hardly complains about the herculean hours required. “I loved it, because he was great,” he says. “He was extremely hardworking. I think he slept two hours a day! He gave everyone around him that same work ethic. Once you started to work, you worked till you were done. Sound checks were rehearsals. Everything that wasn’t the show was a rehearsal. You want to know how to get good? Rehearse! His dedication to his craft was astonishing.” In 2004, Prince…

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Bob Marley would have turned 74 years old on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. To celebrate Marley’s influence, enjoy a chat with Don Letts …  Don Letts is a Grammy-winning filmmaker, world renowned DJ, and was the yin to Mick Jones’ yang in Jones’ ahead-of-its-time post-Clash outfit Big Audio Dynamite. But back in the wild days of the early era of punk in London, when he was simply trying to make ends meet between gigs spinning white label reggae records to the punk cognoscenti, Letts was also Bob Marley’s weed dealer. “I’d go by his house on a pretty regular basis,”…

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Chris Stein photo (Shepard Fairey) Chris Stein cut his teeth 40 years ago as a co-founder and guitarist for the band Blondie, and via his songwriting partnership with Debbie Harry, eventually creating classics like “Heart Of Glass” and “Rapture.” The band, like the partnership, has endured personal and professional ups and downs of the last four decades, and, by all accounts, is as strong as it’s ever been. Through it all, Stein says he always managed to have a camera at hand. For any fan of the band, or of the late-70s CBGBs/punk/New Wave era that hit New York City,…

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It’s hard to believe that Jimi Hendrix has gone from this world for nearly 50 years, given the remarkable string of releases — especially in recent years — drawn from the Hendrix vault since his passing. But his star burned so brightly, and his talent was so unique, that each release from Experience Hendrix — the family-run company set up by the late guitarist’s father in 1995 to oversee such matters — has only added to his legend. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the release of the Jimi Hendrix Experience masterpiece Electric Ladyland, a deluxe edition box set is out…

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