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Author Frank Mastropolo

The free-form jams of the Grateful Dead provided the soundtrack for San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love. Led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Jerry Garcia, the band regularly performed at venues such as the Fillmore, Winterland and the Family Dog. The Dead’s original run lasted from 1965 until 1995, when Garcia died at 53. Garcia came of musical age as a folk singer during the early ’60s in the Bay Area’s beat community. He would go on to perform in bands like the Black Mountain Boys, Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions and the Warlocks before co-founding the group that is…

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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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Rock and Roll: Music for the neck downwards. – Keith Richards Below,  enjoy Frank Mastropolo’s new Top 11 Rock N’ Roll Songs, but note: The absence of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” is not an egregious omission, but a conscious choice. You see, that song appeared on our Top 11 Geezer Songs list already!  “Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival “Travelin’ Band,” backed by Who’ll Stop the Rain, was one of three doubled-sided hits released by Creedence Clearwater Revival from their 1970 LP Cosmo’s Factory. The lyrics describe a band on the run between planes, hotels and the…

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Nuclear apocalypse – who do you need? Actors are probably not top of the list. What can I do for you? I can pretend to be somebody who can grow you some nice crops. – Christian Bale You’d better read our Top 11 Apocalypse Songs now – before it’s too late. You never know. “1999” by Prince https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8ut5FsXpa0 In 1982, the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was at its peak. Both sides wielded nuclear stockpiles and could wipe each other out many times over. That year President Reagan promised “the march of freedom and democracy will…

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The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another. — Quentin Crisp James Dean was a rebel. Marlon Brando was a rebel. Johnny Yuma was a rebel. You’re not. But listening to some of our Top 11 Rebel Songs may get you there. We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister Despite their success, Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It was the metal band’s only Top 40 hit. Frontman Dee Snider told Wikimetal that the song was born…

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