Duane Allman, the original co-lead guitarist in The Allman Brothers, and who remains one of that instrument’s greatest titans, a pioneer who in a breathtakingly short amount of time managed to trailblaze the entire rock/blues/jazz idiom, tragically died 45 years ago today at the age of 24.
For many people, although his musical career was staggering brief, Duane Allman still remains one of the greatest if not possibly the greatest guitarist of all time. That platitude is usually applied rather irresponsibly, but a clear case can easily be made for Duane Allman which quantifies that aforementioned statement. Nicknamed “Skydog,” Allman had a panache and organic skill to his instrument unlike many others who have gone on to legendary heights and status. He seemed to transcend his instrument and genre, employing relentless and soulful leads on the guitar, a rare kind of a one-two punch combination of speed and emotionality which when fused together, and acting in metaphoric and literal concert with the rest of The Allman Brothers which took from a musical playbook of sounds, electrified Deep South-styled blues. Being the rare band that not only played songs that stretched time and conventional imagination but also created hits, The Allman Brothers, led by the sonic panacea of Duane Allman, has remained for the ages in musical history, a key influence both for the musicians who followed and the fans who listened.
Bassist Jack Bruce, best remembered for his stint in Cream, the 1960s English power trio which took the sounds of the blues and electrified them to the hilt, ultimately unconsciously coining the term “supergroup,” died today at his home in Suffolk. He was 71.
The news was confirmed by Bruce’s publicist, who also mentioned that the musician’s family was by his side in his final moments. The news was also posted to Bruce’s official Facebook page this morning. No cause of death has been revealed at this time, though it was reported that he had suffered from liver disease.
The Best of the 1970’s, part of The 20th Century Masters Millennium Collection, is now available on MP3 format from Amazon this month for only $5.00. (The CD is currently $6.77 and is an AutoRip, which means with the CD purchase you’ll also get a FREE MP3 download of the entire album.)
At first quick glance, with its garishly colored cover, replete with appropriate 70s-esque font and the silhouetted shot of bell-bottomed people “getting down,” one would think that this album spans the disco/kitschy end of the 1970’s spectrum, but not so with this collection. Spanning from 1970 (with Edwin Scott’s urgent, explosive plea for ending global combat with the funky “War”) to 1976 (Nice Guy Finishes First guitar virtuoso Peter Frampton doing the voice box vox on the pop classic “Show Me The Way”), The Best of the 70’s contains 12 songs that run the gamut that while were hits and remain for the most part radio and pop cultural classics, (Rod Stewart’s lovely and pendulum swing of folk and rock blends “Maggie May,” Three Dog Night’s anthemic “Joy to the World,” Southern Fried Rock with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” or the political yet accessible to all “Wild World” and “What’s Going On”, by Cat Stevens and Marvin Gaye respectively) are also finely crafted slices of a musical era where things were reflected by a time in history that was still hungover from the fallout of a 1960s that pushed and pushed and pushed. By the time most of these songs were released, those times were rife with a sort of a collective impotence, but the music retained and foraged a vitality that made it memorable and a perfect aural reflection of a decade that on the surface seemed carefree and innocuous, but in reality, was anything but. Kind of like the music.
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Keith Relf, the lead singer of the 1960s British white man’s blues group The Yardbirds, which showcased guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, and who died tragically in a freak accident in his home in 1976, would have celebrated his 70th birthday today.
With the high profile memory of The Yardbirds still etched in a lot of people’s minds, mainly because of the revolving door stints of Clapton, Beck, and Page, the memory of Keith Relf and his contributions to the band and to helping the amplification of blues music in general, remains unfortunately somewhat stilted and dimmed to many contemporary audiences. But there’s no denying that as a front man, and a mean harmonica player to boot, Keith Relf indeed has earned his place in rock and roll history.
Today would have marked the 70th birthday of the late George Harrison, who made up one-fourth of one of the most famous musical quartets in music history, The Beatles.
Shrouded in a kind of misunderstood guise while in The Beatles and somewhat to this day as what his actual role was in the band, the contributions of George Harrison to that Liverpudlian unit and to his solo career, which saw arching highs and aching lows, were monumental and immeasurable. His work was bright and necessary, adding just the right touches and facets to the crown jewels in The Beatles. Harrison’s lead guitar playing and background and sometimes frontman singing gave immense color to the sometimes suffocating for him log jam of the tunes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, songs that also were churned out with a breathless standard and a high one at that, on an endless assembly line of quality, but ones which still seemingly pushed Harrison’s back against the wall when it came to those two men helping and bringing to fruition the true talent that nested inside of him. He became rather vocal about it through the years; he wasn’t comfortable being a somewhat sitting duck, a placid, go with the flow team player as Richard Starkey had been in the group (drummer Ringo Starr), where Starkey knew his deficiencies songwise and vocal wise, and thus, rested on his drum laurels, where he marveled flawlessly and often.