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Author Frank Mastropolo

Photo: Dennis Manuel “Some people may not realize it but the Rascals were the first rock band in the world … in the center of the universe, New Jersey, the Rascals were the first band.” –  Steven Van Zandt, 1997 Induction of the Rascals into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame New Jersey has always been an essential part of the blue-eyed soul of the Rascals. In the 1960s, the Rascals produced a string of hits notable for the diversity of their sound. “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “A Beautiful Morning” and “People Got to Be…

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“That’s the big secret. Rock and roll ain’t nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat.” – Keith Richards “Vehicle” by The Ides of March The Ides of March reached No. 2 in 1970 with “Vehicle,” their one and only hit. Singer/songwriter Jim Peterik, who would go on to found Survivor, told AXS that the band started as a British Invasion wannabe. “There was a creeping influence of jazz-rock coming up. We loved that first Al Kooper-Blood, Sweat & Tears album. We lived and breathed it … We were just very excited about that horn-rock sound, and I wrote what I…

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Top 11 Glam Rock Songs “I was recently looking at an old cover of New Musical Express from 1973. It’s me and Mick Jagger, and he’s just found glam a little late. He’s wearing this jumpsuit with epaulets, and he’s dripping in makeup and mascara. And I’m on the other half of the page with this net costume with hands stuck everywhere. You look at it and think, ‘What was that all about?'” – David Bowie “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” by Elton John “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” was written and recorded in 1973 during Elton John’s glam phase…

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Eric Clapton is one of the most skilled and creative guitarists of his generation. For more than 50 years “Slowhand” has brought his brand of blues and rock to bands that include the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and Derek and the Dominos. Clapton’s 1963-1965 stint with the Yardbirds came to an end with the release of “For Your Love.” Clapton, a blues purist, had no interest in recording three-minute pop hits. Clapton joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for the album Blues Breakers, popularly known as The Beano Album because its cover shows Clapton…

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“I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it.” – Rodney Dangerfield “The No No Song” by Ringo Starr Singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton was inspired to write “The No No Song” the morning after a losing bout with booze and drugs. “I was afraid if I looked around I’d see the devil sittin’ in the chair across the room, sayin’ ‘I gotcha, boy – you finally overdid it,'” Axton told NewsOK in 1982. “That was the day before I wrote ‘The No No Song.’ “It wasn’t really that much of a moral…

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame calls Jimi Hendrix “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Hendrix was an unparalleled guitarist and showman who helped launch the psychedelic rock era. In recent months we’ve asked musicians to recall their experiences with Bob Dylan  and Janis Joplin. In the third of the series, Rock Cellar asked some of the most respected artists in rock, blues and jazz  – including “Godfather of Fusion” Larry Coryell shortly before his untimely death – to share their recollections of the first time they heard Hendrix perform. Interviews have been edited for…

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Janis Joplin was called “the greatest white urban blues and soul singer of her generation” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted her in 1995. Joplin’s powerful, gritty vocals made songs like “Piece of My Heart,” “Ball and Chain,” “Summertime” and “Me and Bobby McGee” uniquely her own. Joplin, who died in 1970 at age 27 of an accidental drug overdose, burst on the music scene in 1966 as vocalist of San Francisco’s Big Brother and the Holding Company. The band’s manager, Chet Helms, encouraged its members to make Joplin their lead singer. Joplin’s triumphant performances at…

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Sad news to pass along, as iconic and influential jazz fusion guitarist Larry Coryell has died at the age of 73. Coryell, who played alongside and worked with Sonny Rollins, John McLaughlin and Charles Mingus throughout his career, passed away on Sunday of natural causes. A remembrance by RCM contributor Frank Mastropolo:  We were saddened to learn that virtuoso guitarist Larry Coryell died Sunday night in New York at age 73. Known as the “Godfather of Fusion,” Coryell helped pioneer jazz-rock fusion and was a master of jazz, Latin and classical guitar. In November, Coryell shared with Rock Cellar his…

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Vodka does not ease back pain. But it does get your mind off it. ­– Fuzzy Zoeller   11. “King of Pain” by the Police “I do my best work when I’m in pain and turmoil,” Sting once explained in Rolling Stone.  The singer and bassist of the Police wrote “King of Pain,” which appeared on 1983’s Synchronicity, the final album by the band. Sting wrote the song after he’d separated from his first wife. While on vacation in Jamaica with Trudie Styler, whom he would marry, the song’s most memorable line came to Sting by chance. “I was sitting moping under…

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When he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, President Obama said of Bob Dylan, “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music.” Hailed as the voice of his generation, Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 but his greatest achievement may be his influence on musicians that have included the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, who said Dylan “changed the face of rock and roll forever.” In the first of a series, Rock Cellar asked some of the most respected artists in rock, folk and blues to share their recollections of the…

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