Archive for John Lennon

Ripper Owens Sings John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Posted in Rock Music with tags , , , , on February 19, 2010 by Patrick Prince

I don’t know about this. That is exactly what I thought for most of this live clip. But towards the end, when Ripper stops trying to sing like John Lennon and more like himself, he, well … let’s it rip! The voice then becomes hair-raising and fantastic!

A remake of this song would be a good thing if Owens rearranged it and sang it like the great metal singer that he is.

Hear N’ Aid 2010, anyone?

“Beat It,” be gone!

Nowhere Boy, A Film About John Lennon’s Teenage Years, Is Slated For Boxing Day UK Premiere

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2009 by John Curley

Nowhere Boy, a film about John Lennon’s teenage years in Liverpool that was directed by Sam Taylor Wood, is being released in the UK on December 26th. Lennon (pictured above in a Bob Gruen photo) is portrayed in the film by Aaron Johnson. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Mimi Smith, Lennon’s aunt, who raised him. Anne-Marie Duff portrays Lennon’s mother Julia and Thomas Sangster plays Paul McCartney. The screenplay was written by Matt Greenhalgh, who also wrote the excellent 2007 feature Control, a film that told the story of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.

Yesterday’s (December 6th’s) edition of The Sunday Times of London published a feature about Nowhere Boy‘s director Sam Taylor Wood. In the article, Wood discusses the challenge of making a film about an icon like John Lennon. She said:

“It was nerve-racking and daunting, but I also went into it quite naively. I don’t think I really took on the scale of that fact until people started saying, ‘A film about John Lennon? How are you feeling about it?’ But I couldn’t start letting myself get too panicked about it, because I knew it would start to destabilize me. I knew that if I could shut that out and just focus on a coming-of-age story, rather than who he goes on to be, then I could make the film.”

You can read the full article about Sam Taylor Wood and Nowhere Boy from the December 6th edition of The Sunday Times of London by clicking here.

To watch the trailer for Nowhere Boy, click below:

While the film will be opening on December 26th in the UK, I don’t have any info about when it will premiere in America. When it does play here, though, it will probably be on the art house circuit.

On the subject of John Lennon, tomorrow marks the sad anniversary of his murder in New York City. I can’t believe that 29 years have passed since that awful Monday evening in December 1980.

John Lennon 1940-1980 R.I.P.

The Times Of London Runs Excellent Feature Article On Paul McCartney

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2009 by John Curley

Saturday’s (December 5th’s) edition of The Times of London ran an interesting and informative feature piece on Paul McCartney (pictured above in a Ruth Ward photo). McCartney is currently promoting his CD/DVD combo Good Evening New York City, which was recorded during three shows that McCartney did at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, this summer. In the article, which was written by Robert Crampton, McCartney discusses many aspects of his career as well as his sometimes stormy creative partnership with John Lennon.

At one point in the article, McCartney discussed trying to balance what the audience wants to hear with what he wants to play. He said:

“You do have a feeling the Beatles songs are gonna be the most popular. People come to the show and often if they don’t know a song you can see them thinking, ‘This is a good chance to go and get a beer’. I’ve always been reluctant to give them a chance to go and get a beer. Concession people hate me. [But] they’ve paid money to come and see a show. I could pull the moody artist and say, ‘You’re only getting three, ’cos it’s my show’. With Wings I did that, didn’t even do three, even though promoters would say, ‘Can you just do Yesterday at the end?’ I’d go, ‘No’. I didn’t wanna crap up my second group by suggesting what was already in people’s minds: ‘Hey, the Beatles were better’. Once we’d done Wings it was OK, we’ll feed in some Beatles songs. These days, it doesn’t matter.”

To read the article in full, click here.

The page also includes a video of McCartney and his band performing The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” at one of the Citi Field shows.

The Times Of London Publishes Fascinating Article About The Reaction Of The Beatles’ Circle To John Lennon’s Death

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by John Curley

John Lennon -- Bob Gruen Photo

On Thursday, September 10th, The Times of London ran an excerpt from You Never Give Me Your Money, an upcoming book by Peter Doggett, which detailed the reactions of those in The Beatles’ inner circle to the murder of John Lennon (pictured above in a Bob Gruen photo) on December 8, 1980. Included are the details of how Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Lennon’s former wife Cynthia Lennon found out about Lennon’s death. It is a riveting read, and it left me feeling totally empty about what a great loss that was. The article includes a tidbit that I’d never known: just prior to Lennon’s death, New York City officials had been asked to undertake a feasibility study concerning a possible reunion concert by The Beatles in Central Park. Reading that hit me like a fist. How amazing would that have been if the concert had actually happened? And how sad that it never came to pass.

To read the article, click here.

Reading the article made me recall my own reaction to Lennon’s murder. I had gone to bed early that night with a bad headache. My parents heard the news when it came on TV that night, but decided not to wake me as I wasn’t feeling well. The next morning, I awoke early as usual to do my paper route. I delivered the New York Daily News in the morning before heading off to school. (I was a high-school freshman at the time.) I brought the bundle of newspapers in from the steps outside, where they had been dropped off. They were bound with a plastic band and had a protective piece of paper on top so that the band wouldn’t cut through the newspapers. I cut the band with a pair of scissors and removed the piece of paper. When I read the headline on the front page, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. It read, “JOHN LENNON SLAIN HERE,” and had a photo of John and Yoko under the headline.

I remember just slumping over and staring at the headline for what seemed like an eternity. It was such a shock to find out about it in that fashion. Lennon had been a hero of mine. I was into The Beatles in a big way at the time (this was only 10 years after the band’s breakup), and I also admired Lennon for his stance on peace issues. Also, Lennon had just come back into the spotlight after spending the previous few years away from the limelight and raising his son Sean in New York City. All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind, from Sean having to grow up without a dad to the possibility of a Beatles reunion now being ended forever.

I did my paper route in a daze and then headed to school. Everyone in school that day was in shock. There was anger and tears. Even some of the faculty were visibly shaken. It was awful.

I hope that Mark David Chapman rots in prison for the rest of his life, the bastard.

The Sunday Times Of London Features John Lennon Interviews As Well As Other Beatles Material

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2009 by John Curley

John Lennon -- Bob Gruen Photo

Beatles -- Sunday Times 9-6-09

Yesterday’s (Sunday, September 6th) edition of The Sunday Times of London featured material on The Beatles as well as really interesting piece that included snippets of interviews with John Lennon (pictured above top in a photo by Bob Gruen). The Lennon interviews, in particular, are a must-read for any Beatles fan. You can read that article, which was written by Ray Connolly, by clicking here.

The Times of London Web site currently has a section on The Beatles that features articles and videos. You can go to that section by clicking here.

The Beatles’ Rock Band game is being released this Wednesday, September 9th, as are the remastered CDs of The Beatles’ catalog.

Did Michael Jackson’s Own Fans Hasten His Demise?

Posted in 80s Rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2009 by John Curley

Michael Jackson Early 1970s

The Times of London columnist Janice Turner wrote a fantastic opinion piece for the Saturday, June 27th edition of The Times in which she opined that the intense idolatry of Michael Jackson’s fans played a role in his death. She opened the column as follows:

Outside UCLA hospital they gather with their candles and their teddies, spooky lookalikes in full Thriller garb, wan teenagers wearing a single lace glove. They sway and sing I’ll Be There with sad faces to disguise the serotonin buzz from their frenzied collective mourn-in. Fans cry now for Michael Jackson, but they killed him. They always do.

Turner also discussed the price that fame exacted on 1970s teen idol David Cassidy:

The most troubled person I ever met was David Cassidy, the teen idol of Jackson’s era, unhinged long ago by his fans. For five years girls slept outside his house, followed him everywhere, ripped his clothing, forced him into isolation, made his life empty and lonely. And then, abruptly, when he was no longer the pretty boy du jour they deserted him. Now, two divorces later, he loathes meeting old fans, because they will say, with no regard for his feelings, how old he looks — though they are mostly portly matrons themselves — or get drunk and take a grab at him. To them, he isn’t a man, just an odd manifestation of their teenage years: they own him and they let him know it.

Turner’s piece was the best thing I’ve ever read about the dark side of fame. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in pop culture. To read Turner’s piece, which is titled “The fans killed their idol. They always do,” from the Saturday June 27th edition of The Times of London, click here.

After reading Turner’s piece, I started to think about my own fandom and how it affects my life. I am quite a fan of music. I wouldn’t be writing for Powerline A.D. if that weren’t the case. I like the art of music, but that’s as far as it goes. I will never understand those super-obsessive fans that latch on to one artist. Michael Jackson, to his great misfortune, seemed to be saddled with many of those types of fans.

Since Jackson’s death on Thursday, video from Jackson’s March press conference in London to announce the 50 concerts there has been played many times on various TV news programs. Watching the video is quite disturbing. And I’m not talking about Jackson’s gaunt appearance in the video. When the camera panned to the fans present for the press conference, they looked absolutely rabid. I don’t know if they were playing up to the cameras or what was going on there, but the looks on their faces were downright scary. They appeared to be in absolute ecstasy just to be in the same room as Jackson. Let’s not forget that fan is short for fanatic, and those present at the press conference were the living embodiment of the word.

Looking back on my limited interactions with some of my favorite musicians, I believe that I treated them respectfully. I’ve been a big fan of The Who for nearly 30 years, and I met the late John Entwistle once, in November 1987, after a solo show that he did at the now-defunct club The Bottom Line in New York City’s Greenwich Village. There were only a few of us out on the sidewalk in front of the club when Entwistle suddenly walked out of the club’s front door. I wasn’t waiting for him; I was just having a conversation with several of the fans who had also been at the show. Entwistle was gracious and spoke to us for about ten minutes before hailing a cab and heading off into the New York night. Everyone was respectful to Entwistle, and he came off to us as a regular guy, a working musician who enjoyed playing live.

Michael Jackson was one of the music personalities that I’ve been aware of since I first understood what music was. The Jackson 5 broke through when I was three years old and Jackson was the 10-year-old lead singer of his band of brothers. With the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson played a role in creating some great pop singles. Hell, the Jackson 5′s “ABC” is probably one of the most perfect pop singles ever released. I still remember a great appearance that the Jackson 5 made on a children’s program called Wonderama that aired on Sunday mornings on New York City’s Channel 5 in the early 1970s. The thing that I remember most about that appearance is the way the girls in the audience screamed for Michael. They loved him.

The Jackson 5 appealed to me at the time because I was a kid and they were a band that was led by a kid. By the mid 70s, I was discovering other music and left the Jackson 5 behind as I did many other of my childhood things. When Michael Jackson released his multiplatinum Off The Wall album in 1979, I couldn’t have cared less. I was listening to Cheap Trick and Gary Numan by that time.

After Jackson’s landmark Thriller album, there seemed to be a change in the way he was perceived by the public. It became more about image and less about the music. Eventually, after all the plastic surgeries and embarrassing public spectacles, it appeared as if that incredibly talented little kid who burst onto the music scene in the late 1960s was nowhere to be found in the fortysomething Michael Jackson. 

Watching the spectacle being made over Jackson’s passing reminds me of the scenes made after the deaths of Elvis Presley and John Lennon, in which it became more about the fans and their reactions to the death and less about the legacy and talent of those artists who had passed on. Since I haven’t really been interested in Michael Jackson’s music since the mid 1970s, I can’t really claim to be a fan. The Michael Jackson whose music I admired went away a long time ago.

The saddest part of this whole thing is not that millions of fans have lost somebody who they worshipped to the point where they drove him insane and into isolation. No.

The saddest part of this story is that there are three children who have lost the only father that they have ever known. Whatever you think of Jackson, whether you thought him to be the King of Pop or a sad and lonely freak, consider those three kids. Wherever they end up, I hope that they are able to have a normal life and do not emulate the life that their father led. If Jackson was the King of Pop in life, it appears that, at the end, his crown was one made of thorns.

The Beatles’ Rock Band Game Is Previewed At USC Computer Game Conference

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2009 by John Curley

The Beatles2

Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney took part in the preview of The Beatles’ Rock Band game this week at the E3 Computer Game Conference, which was held at the University of Southern California. The game marks the first time that The Beatles’ music has been used by a third party. The Beatles’ Rock Band game is being released on September 9th. Its release will coincide with the release of The Beatles’ remastered CDs. The game features 45 songs from The Beatles’ catalogue.

Ringo Starr told the crowd, “The game is good, the graphics are very good and we were great.”

Paul McCartney added, “We love the game, it’s fantastic. Who’d ever have thought we’d end up as androids, so thank you very much for having us here and having us on your new game show. It’s wonderful.”

Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, respectively, were also at the conference.

To read more about The Beatles’ Rock Band game and McCartney’s and Starr’s appearance at the conference, see the articles from BBC 6 Music and the Los Angeles Times.

To watch a preview of The Beatles’ Rock Band game, click here.

I must confess that I’ve never had much of an interest in video games (probably because I suck at them). But I was quite impressed with the preview of The Beatles’ Rock Band game. It looks like a great deal of care went into the design of the game.

I’m not sure as to how McCartney and Starr feel about their music being used in this fashion. But as businessmen, they must have looked at how the other Rock Band games have revitalized the careers of other veteran rockers and have boosted the sales of their back catalogues. The Beatles broke up nearly 40 years ago, in 1970, so they must find new ways to get the younger end of the music-buying public interested in their music. I predict that the release of The Beatles’ Rock Band game this September will create new interest in The Beatles among the younger generation. Time will tell if I’m right about that. But great music is timeless, no matter when it was recorded. And I think that The Beatles’ Rock Band game will be a huge success because of that fact.

The Guardian’s Web Site Features Previously Unseen Photos Of John And Yoko’s Bed-In For Peace

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2009 by John Curley

John and Yoko

The Web site of the UK newspaper The Guardian is currently featuring previously unseen photos of the Bed-In For Peace staged by John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal in 1969. The photos are by Gerry Deiter and are featured in an exhibition called Give Peace A Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In For Peace which is being shown at The Beatles Story in Liverpool, England until August 15th. Among those featured in the photos are acid guru Timothy Leary and comedian/activist Dick Gregory.

To view the photos on The Guardian‘s Web site, click here.

VINTAGE VIDEO: “Mind Games” By John Lennon

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , on February 15, 2009 by John Curley

john-lennon

john-lennon-mind-games-album-cover

The other morning, I went into my kitchen for breakfast and turned on the radio. In the morning, I usually listen to WRXP-FM out of New York City because their morning show, featuring DJ Matt Pinfield, is excellent. I was up early and put the station on before the 6 a.m. start of Pinfield’s show. John Lennon’s “Mind Games” came on shortly after I turned on the radio. While I had heard the song literally hundreds of times of the past, something about it just struck me in the early quiet of the morning. Instead of rushing around to get my breakfast together, I sat down and listened to the song intently all the way through. And what a majestic and beautifully crafted song it is! It’s always nice to rediscover a song in this way and gain a new appreciation for it.

John Lennon was one hell of a talent and quite a songwriter. His presence on the music scene has certainly been missed these past 28 years.

You Tube has a video of Lennon’s “Mind Games” that uses footage shot by the BBC in 1974 of Lennon walking around his beloved New York City. It’s a great piece of video to accompany an amazing piece of music. To watch the video for John Lennon’s “Mind Games,” which was the title track to a 1973 solo album by Lennon, click below:

Sid Vicious: 30 Years Gone

Posted in British music, British rock, Music, Rock Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by John Curley

sid-vicious

Thirty years ago today, former Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious (real name John Simon Ritchie) died of a heroin overdose. He had been accused of stabbing his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death at New York City’s Chelsea Hotel in October 1978.

Vicious has been lionized by many, but I never really saw what the fuss was about. Glen Matlock, the bassist whom Vicious replaced in the Sex Pistols’ lineup, was a vastly superior musician. It seems that Vicious was chosen to replace Matlock because he was friends with Johnny Rotten.

The BBC 6 Music Web site features an article in which Don Letts ( fimmaker and associate of The Clash), Peter Hook of New Order, and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell discuss the legacy of Sid Vicious and what it means. Here are some quotes from the article:

Don Letts: “It’s funny. Sid’s been gone 30 odd years now and there’s still people walking around in Sid Vicious t-shirts.

“It makes me laugh because although he did become the poster boy for the punk generation the reality was that Sid was a loser, and he was a victim, and not really something to admire. Funny thing, time, isn’t it?”

Peter Hook: “Sid was very nihilistic. He believed in nothing, he gave nothing any respect, he showed nobody any respect. That was again a very selfish attitude which punk was about really.”

Chris Cornell:  “I was really shocked by their approach to music and instruments. Their songs sounded really aggressive, really emotional and really vital, even though they weren’t proficient at their instruments and didn’t even seem to care.”

To read the full article from BBC 6 Music, click here.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders reportedly almost married Vicious in a sham marriage designed to let Hynde remain in the UK. And Paul Weller was not fond of Vicious, having bested Vicious in a famous fight between the two at London’s 100 Club.

As a member of the Sex Pistols, I suppose that Vicious does have a place in rock history. I can’t say that he is somebody to be admired, but each to his or her own.

Alan Woodhouse wrote a great blog item on NME.com about Vicious and his legacy. Titled “Why The Santification Of Sid Vicious Must Be Stopped,” the blog piece can be read by clicking here. In the item, Woodhouse wrote of Vicious:

…[H]e very probably killed his girlfriend. Then, while out on remand after being charged with Nancy Spungen’s killing, he launched an attack on Patti Smith’s brother Todd, landing himself back in jail.

You could perhaps understand people’s eagerness to overlook these crimes if Sid was a towering musical genius. After all, critics are more than willing to overlook the personal failings of, say, John Lennon or Keith Moon (or indeed Kurt Cobain). But Vicious possessed no discernible talent, and only replaced the relatively uncontroversial Glen Matlock as bassist in the band because, as Pistols boss Malcolm McLaren said : “If Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude.”

Yeah, but what a pathetic, sad, empty and ultimately tragic attitude. There’s a romanticism attached to his life nowadays that just doesn’t tally with the grubby, sordid reality. A lot of rubbish is written about punk rock, and the deification of Vicious is right there at the pinnacle.

Well said. The comments following Woodhouse’s blog item are worth a read as well, with readers taking both sides of the argument.

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