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Author Jeff Slate

Whether you know it or not, you hear Curtis Mayfield’s influence every day. Sure, his grooves have been endlessly sampled, but the gorgeous soul music he created, especially after he split with the Impressions, the groundbreaking group, whose unique blend of gospel and soul made him famous, have inspired countless artists, from Paul Weller and Johnny Marr to Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar. “I discovered Curtis Mayfield in the 1970s, and his music really opened my mind as to what was possible, rhythmically and stylistically,” Paul Weller, who has covered the legend several times over the years, most notably in…

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Along with Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann was the heartbeat of the Grateful Dead for more than thirty years. After more ups and downs than any band should have to endure, it all came to a crashing halt when Jerry Garcia, the band’s guitarist, heart and soul, and titular leader, died in 1995. But far from retreating or retiring, Kreutzman is as busy as ever. His recent book, Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams and Drugs with the Grateful Dead, recounts the history of the most famous jam bandv in the world, as well as the many adventures and career…

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“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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