Was Jimi Hendrix that great?

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Hendrix performing on the Dutch television show Hoepla in 1967

     I have had many conversations about Jimi throughout the years. There are those who laud his playing, and those who deeply criticize him. Myself, however, have a different opinion on Mr. Hendrix.

     I believe that Jimi played the heart and soul. He felt the music coursing throughout his every fiber and was able to bring that out through his writing and playing, and that was good enough.

     I don’t feel he was the greatest or most technical player. I feel that he felt the guitar talking to him and he listened to it and not the limitations the musical world had imposed, and that was good enough.

     I have said before and I stand by it, music lives within all of us, some of us listen, and some hit the mute button. Jimi turned it up to 15 and beyond. You can see the magic in his live performances. When Jimi, Mitch Mitchell, and Noel Redding took the stage it was a spectacle to behold.

     In conclusion, Jimi was not the greatest guitarist ever (I don’t think that title can ever be granted to one guitarist) but he did pave the way for others to realize it was ok to experiment and take their music to new levels. He influenced so many guitarists that I to think he is a legendary guitarist but not the best ever.

     If you want to see musicians truly lost in their craft check out this video for “Purple Haze”. Put it on the big screen, turn it up as loud as you can, and stare into their faces, you’ll see what I mean:

     Be true to the music within, it your friend that will be with you no matter what.

     it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!!!

   -the Hellion

My conversation with John Lennon

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photo by Bob Gruen 1974

     Yes you read that right. Let me explain further.

     Some musicians become prophets and there are very poignant messages in their words. I often times find  myself “conversing” with them.

     Given the state of the world lately I found myself wondering what John would have to say. I thought of how John might view the world and was first reminded of my favorite photo of John which was taken by one of my photographic idols, Bob Gruen. To me it shows the playful, whimsical side of John and at the same time I feel it shows that John looked at the world in many different ways.

    I suffer from an overactive mind that leaves me fighting hard to try to sleep. On one of those evenings I found myself thinking of John and heard “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” in my head. The answer was music and my love of it, that was usually what got me through the nights.  I continued to think about what John would think of how people were constantly thinking only of themselves with little regard to others and bam, “Instant Karma” was there.

     Even when nothing was seeming to go right one day I heard “Nobody Told Me” and I had to stop and smile at it. Yes John was talking to me beyond the grave. I could keep going on and on with examples that had relevance to situations, “Mind Games”, “Imagine”, “Woman”, there’s so many if you open your mind and ears.

     What kind of man could have written these songs that remain so pertinent? Someone who wrote from the heart and not for monetary gain. When someone writes from within and with feeling magic happens.

     I am lucky to be a part of several musicians who are going back to roots and making musical magic again, and I thank them.

     One of his songs that means the world to me is “Love”. The world needs more of it, I revel in it with my wife and family, and I share it with all of you.

     John you have been a good friend to me for so many years and I miss the light you shared with the world. I’ll talk to you soon.

     -the Hellion

Eric Clapton – my opinion

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Sometime in my formative musical years (yeah the 70’s, I’m old) a friend brought over this record he had found by a band called Cream. The record was called Wheels Of Fire. From the second I heard “White Room” I was hooked. Who were these guys? And who was playing that fantastic guitar? Eric Clapton? Who was that?

Ever the music geek I had to know more about this guy. Given the limited resources back then I had to actually talk to people to find more. I found out he was English and had a very prolific musical background. The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, the Immediate All-stars, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Powerhouse, and Derek and the Dominos, all bands I came to know and love.

I found myself drawn into Eric’ s style of playing, his style, passion, and skill .   “For Your Love” (Yardbirds), “White Room” “Badge” (Cream), “Can’t Find My Way Home” (Blind Faith),  “Layla” (Derek and the Dominos), these were songs that amazed me.  I had many discussions with friends and peers about him. Some called him G-d, others didn’t care for him at all, yet others said he was being held back by being in bands and that he should be a solo artist.

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Here’s where I piss some people off, I think Eric Clapton is better as a part of a group. While he had a few solo songs that i really dig “Let it Rain” (1972), “Wonderful Tonight” (1978) his subsequent releases didn’t reach out to me as did his earlier works. I know musicians change and grow as their personal lives do. Drugs, family loss, just plain life in general. As the musician changes so do their fans from the same reasons I listed earlier, and that is ok. I just didn’t “feel” the music Eric was making by himself. Does that make him less of player, less talented, less of anything? I say no, it’s just that our musical tastes took us on different paths from each other.

I do believe that Eric has been over-hyped at times. I know people who claim that “Eric Clapton is the greatest guitar player ever” yet when you ask them about his body of work they come up lacking in knowledge. I think that is is a serious injustice to musicians to try and rate them as to who is better than who. How can that be done when each has an individual style and sound? Would it be better to ask who you prefer to listen to and why? Do we really need to create a division in the music world? The love of music binds us together and we should stand strong united. There is music that doesn’t reach me, but does that mean I should say it sucks? I think not, it simply means it doesn’t click for me. I took me a long time and many arguments to figure that out. I have come to admire and respect ANY musician who feels the spark of creativity blossom within them and nurtures it. Of course there are people in it for all of the wrong reasons and that shows in the music they create.

Eric Clapton is G-d?, Eric Clapton is the best guitarist ever?, maybe to some people. Eric Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time, now this I can get behind and agree with. If Eric inspired one, just one person to pick up a guitar and learn to make the music that lived inside them then yes, he is important and influential.  Here’s the track that made me appreciate Eric “Slowhand” Clapton:

     Here’s a bit of Eric Clapton trivia for ya: The nickname “Slowhand” was not, as is commonly thought, given to Clapton due to playing the guitar slowly.  Rather, it was given to him because of audiences giving him a slow hand clap when he would replace guitar strings on stage.  When most guitar players break a string on stage, a roady will typically bring them another guitar and fix the string on the old one off-stage.  Clapton, on the other hand, had a practice of standing on stage and replacing and tuning the string in front of the audience.  While he was doing this during one particular performance, the audience gave him a slow clap or a “slow hand” until he had fixed it and was ready to play again.  This slow-clap ultimately became a common thing with Clapton, while with the Yardbirds, where whenever he’d break a string during a performance, the audience would give him a slow clap until he was finished replacing it.  According to Eric Clapton, the guy that managed the Yardbirds, Giorgio Gomelsky, then gave him the nickname “Slowhand”: “He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into Slowhand as a play on words.”

Thank you Eric Clapton for picking up a guitar and inspiring the guitarists everywhere. Although I left you years ago, I check in on you periodically and appreciate your dedication and the fact that you are still making music.

 

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ERIC CLAPTON!!!

– the Hellion

 

What in the F@#K happened to radio?

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     Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s was a different musical experience than today. Radio was a magical and wonderful friend to many of us, to some it was our best friend. I remember that the “rock” radio stations would play all that fell in to that genre. You would hear it all from ABBA to ZZ Top, and everything in between. The experience was all encompassing and you were exposed to music you might have otherwise never had the chance to hear. I grew to know and love bands from those radio days, I also learned to appreciate a lot of music even though I might not have favored it.

     Radio was a wonderful thing in that the diversity was much greater due to the creative control the DJ’s used to have. The DJ was your friend in music, they were your cool friend that had great music. I loved the fact that the DJ could introduce you to music that they were into. They were your friend that if you were having a bad day, good day, a whatever day, you could call them and request a song to match your mood and they would play it. I would stay up into the wee hours listening and discovering the joy of music and the tidbits of trivia the DJ’s would throw out at us.

        The radio DJ of old was a larger than life character that people admired and envied. They talked to the musicians and sometimes you could call in with your questions as well.  It was all about the music, not sports, not movie stars, not politics, there were talk radio stations for that. There giveaways and contests that were local, I remember winning the entire Queen library on vinyl one time in 1980. There was no “be the 100th national caller” to win.

     Radio, not the internet, not satellite, mp3 players, was truly enjoyable. It was available freely everywhere. Cruising in your car , hanging by the pool, the lake, at a party, or whatever, the radio was a necessity.

     You could hear local bands on the radio as well. It really was a time about the music and the love of it. Radio gave bands a chance to be heard and shared.

     We need to put music back into the ears and lives of the people who love it. There are people out there who think like I do and I know it. I miss the radio stations with the DJ’s with cool names and cool music. I miss being able to listen to the radio and not hear the same 50 songs over and over. I miss the events that the radio stations used to have. I miss it being about the love of music.

     To those DJ’s who were a part of those days, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      -the Hellion

VEGAS Vacation!!! The Beatles LOVE, Raiding The Rock Vault, Cabo Wabo, and Vince Neil’s Tatuado

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Well, I’m back! Took some time off from the site to go to Vegas and celebrate Mrs. Hellion’s birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary.

After a relatively easy bit of Sunday traveling we arrived at the Monte Carlo, checked in and started out our Vegas excursion by hitting up Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina for an early dinner. I had some extremely good pork carnitas with a nice heffeweisen beer, while Mrs. Hellion (a steak fajita connoisseur) had steak fajitas (which she said were some of the best she has ever had) yummy dinner indeed!

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      We were then off to The Mirage to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque Du Soleil show.

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      WOW!!! This was an amazing show! I was completely impressed with the way they put this show together. The energy of the performers combined with the state of the art scenery, and the INCREDIBLE music of The Beatles lent to an amazing evening. Everywhere you looked there was something going on, dancing, trapeze, lights, and music. The highlight of the show for me was when several actors were on a poster bed and a silken cloth came from beneath the bed and grew and grew until it enveloped the lower level audience and it appeared that the bed was floating on it. Then, like magic, it was sucked back underneath the bed in an instant. This is a show that is a MUST see.

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     We hopped a cab back to the Monte Carlo and rested up for another assault of Vegas. We spent the next day roaming about seeing the sights and enjoying the company of each other. We did a little bit of gambling (no luck) and just had a great time.

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     After a wonderful day went back to the Monte Carlo to clean up and get ready to head to the Las Vegas Hotel for Raiding The Rock Vault! Thanks to my lovely wife she scored us VIP to the show!!!

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     We had a quick dinner at Tatuado Vince Neil Cantina where we saw vocalist Paul Shortino having dinner with his family (Paul and I shared a wave and a nod).

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     RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT!!! We got early admittance to the venue and were ushered into the green room to meet the guys from the show. Tracii Guns, John Payne, Paul Shortino, Andrew Freeman, Robin Mc Auley, Jay Schellen, Michael T. Ross, and Jason Boyleston came in and were very gracious and friendly to us and the other four people that were there. My wife (Dani) and Tracii had a fun discussion: my wife: Hi, I’m Dani.” Tracii: “Ha ha you have a boys name” pause “Ha ha I have a girls name.” Paul Shortino gave me a hug and we took some photos. We chatted for a few then it was off to our seats.

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     Our seats were KILLER! Second row right in front of Tracii Guns. There was a pretty cool story line to the show. It was based around it being the future and scientists finding a time capsule from earths past. Upon opening it the rock n’ roll poured out to the delight of the audience.

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     The show took us on a Rock journey from the 60’2 to the 80’s. These world class musicians played the familiar songs to perfection. They had funplaying off of each other. Paul Shortino, John Payne, Robin Mc Auley, and Andrew Freeman all shared lead vocal duties as well as guitars and bass (Andrew and John). Tracii Guns and Jason Boyleston traded smoking guitar licks back and forth through the entire show. Jay Schellen provided perfect timing behind the drums. Michael T. Ross added the right touch of keyboards to the mix.

Andrew Freeman

Andrew Freeman

John Payne

John Payne

Tracii Guns

Tracii Guns

Jason Boyleston

Jason Boyleston

Robin Mc Auley

Robin Mc Auley

Paul Shortino

Paul Shortino

Jay Schellen

Jay Schellen

Michael T. Ross

Michael T. Ross

     This show exceeded all of my expectations and then some. Classic, iconic songs performed oustandingly!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

    The rest of the time in Vegas is ours and we had fun!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!

the Hellion

YES – A BAND NEAR AND DEAR TO ME

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www.yesworld.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yes/107577509265620

 

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I was seven years old when I first heard “Starship Trooper”. I was enraptured by it, it took me away to the stars and beyond. My mom turned me on to Yes and I was hooked. I have remained a fan throughout the years.

Formed in 1968, by Chris Squire, Yes has been cutting edge ever since. They have risen from obscurity, to the heights of success. There have been many different lineups throughout the years with some outstanding musicians.

The most successful lineup (in my opinion) consisted of: Jon Anderson – lead vocals, percussion, guitar, harp, various others, Chris Squire – bass, backing vocals, various others, Steve Howe – guitars, backing vocals, various others, Bill Bruford – drums, percussion, various others, Rick Wakeman – keyboards, piano, Hammond organ, Mellotron, various others.

During the 80’s they had hits from the lineup of: Jon Anderson – (vocals), Tony Kaye – (Keyboards), Trevor Rabin – (Guitars, vocals, additional keyboards), Chris Squire – (Bass, vocals), Alan White – (Drums, percussion, backing vocals). This lineup gave us hits like: “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, “It Can Happen”, “Leave It”, and “Changes”

The current lineup of Yes consists of: Chris Squire – (bass, backing vocals, various others), Steve Howe – (guitars, backing vocals, various others), Alan White – (drums, percussion, backing vocals, various others), Geoff Downes – (keyboards), Jon Davison – (lead vocals, various others)

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From 1 March to 12 April 2013, Yes will embark on their Spring 2013 North American tour. The band will play three albums a night for the first time in their entirety: The Yes Album, Close to the Edge and Going for the One. During the Spring 2013 North American tour, Yes will lead a progressive-rock themed cruise titled Cruise to the Edge from 25 to 30 March 2013. Yes will also be going into the studio in the fall 2013 to record a new album, their 21st studio album and the first with Jon Davison.

 

The progressive rock music of Yes deserves a listen.

 

the Hellion