Month: March 2014

Oh my that little country boy could play

Rock the Day B Goode!

Three-quarters of the Million-Dollar Quartet, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, begin a tour of the South on March 31, 1957, in Little Rock.  Three white musicians bring black music to one of the Alpha points of the civil rights movement. Before the old racist folk know it, their kids are rockin’ and rollin’. Pretty soon, we become a nation in love with color. In 1958, one year to the day after this concert tour begins, Chuck Berry releases Johnny B Goode:

And Jerry Lee does a cover . . .

Elvis, too:


Black-roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings

Eric ClaptonRock the Day

Happy Birthday, Eric Clapton


March 30, 1945: Eric Clapton is born in his grandparents’ home at 1 The Green, Ripley, Surrey, England. His mother is 16-year-old Patricia Molly Clapton. His father is Edward Walter Fryer, a soldier who returns to his wife in Canada before Eric is born. More bio here.

Clapton is a member of The Yardbirds when they have a huge hit in For Your Love. Because he considers himself a blues man, Clapton leaves The Yardbirds as the group drifts into pop. His overdubbed guitar is featured on Cream’s White Room. My Rock ‘n’ Roll Heart  enjoys him most as a solo artist.

Come on baby, drive me crazy

Rock the Day Tough to Follow

March 28, 1958: Alan Freed’s Big Beat Show opens at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn. Freed decides that Chuck Berry will close the show instead of Jerry Lee Lewis, whose Great Balls of Fire is atop the charts. An enraged Jerry Lee gives Berry something to follow by torching his piano during Balls Of Fire. Can’t find original incident video. Here’s how the fiery moment is recreated in the 1989 movie Great Balls of Fire, with Dennis Quaid playing Jerry Lee:

The darkest hour is just before dawn

Rock the Day Cool Cover

On March 27, 1961, The Shirelles hit #3 on the pop chart and #2 on the R&B chart with their cover of Dedicated to the One I Love. Written by Lowman Pauling and Ralph Bass and first recorded by The 5 Royales in 1957, The Shirelles’ version charts much higher than the original. This spurs a re-release of the original and The Mamas and the Papas later have their own hit with their cover of the song. But no one does it better than The Shirelles:

Only started with a little kiss

Rock the Day Steven Tyler Is 66

March 26, 1948: Steven Victor Tallarico is born in Yonkers, N.Y. Son of a music teacher, he moves to Boston and becomes Steven Tyler, bombastic frontman for Aerosmith. Tyler is something of a survivor, battling the burden of fame, the curse of addiction and insistent comparisons to Mick Jagger. Nonetheless, he produces classics, the best of which probably is his daughter, actress Liv (the stunning Arwen of the LOTR movies). Second best is Walk This Way, which you will know by the riff (duh-duhduh-DAH!-duh-duhduh-DAH!):

Oh, Freedom! :: Rolling Like Thunder

Rock the Day Part 1: Happy Birthday, Aretha!

Even her name, Aretha Louise, has a songlike lilt. Aretha Louise Franklin is born in Memphis, Tennessee, on this day in 1942, the daughter of Barbara (née) Siggers and Clarence LaVaughn Franklin. Her father, nicknamed, “C. L.”, is an itinerant preacher originally from Shelby, Mississippi, while her mother is an accomplished piano player and vocalist. The family relocates to Buffalo, N.Y., when Aretha is 2 years old, and then moves to Detroit before she turns 5. Aretha inherits her mother’s musicality and her father’s powerful voice. She grows up of course to become the Queen of 1960s Soul. All I know is that her voice is like creation’s first glorious sunrise:


Rock the Day Part 2: Happy Birthday, Elton John!

Five years to the day after Aretha is born, Reginald Kenneth Dwight, a.k.a. Elton John, enters the world in the London suburb of Pinner. He is a prodigy, playing the Skater’s Waltz by ear on the piano before he is 3 years old (astounding his family). By age 11, he is on scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, and his performing career begins in earnest in 1962. His keyboards mesmerize and his vocals toll and peal like eternity’s bells:

Bring it on home

Rock the Day Sam Cooke Rules!

March 24, 1963: Sam Cooke rules the charts. He  hits #1 on the R&B chart and #9 on the pop chart with Twistin the Night Away, #2 on the R&B chart and #13 on the pop chart with Bring It On Home To Me and #2 on the R&B chart and #12 on the pop chart with Nothing Can Change This Love.

So let’s hear all three: