Summary: What does it take to maintain a career in music? We track down members of bands that flirted with stardom and find out what their lives are like now. How did it feel to get that first big break? What was fame like at its peak? What was the transition back into normal life like? And what have you been doing since?
Jon and Jan review the last couple of months, discuss plans for the future, and answer some of your mailbag questions.
Everybody remembers Ray Parker Jr. taking over the world in 1984 with the Ghostbusters theme. But, there is so much more to his story. He was one of the most sought after session guitarists of the 70s playing with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Marvin Gaye to Seals and Crofts. He also wrote hit songs for artists like Leo Sayer and Rufus with Chaka Khan, not to mention racking up a bunch of his own hits like "The Other Woman" and "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)" as both a solo artist and as the frontman for his funk band Raydio. As he says in this conversation, "Ghostbusters" was just "gravy on the steak". Here we talk about his whole career, but the big news is that Fran Strine, director of the acclaimed Hired Gun documentary, has begun work on a Ray doc called Who You Gonna Call, which launched an Indiegogo campaign last week. Here is the link to donate. Enjoy! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/who-you-gonna-call-music/x/2404155#/
Jon once again joins Steve and Drew from Suburban Underground to play great songs (Jon's are, anyway) from the side projects of prominent alternative rock stars. We also rip each other new ones in the process. Who do you think comes out ahead with the best taste? And be sure to subscribe to SU on your favorite podcatcher for your weekly alternative mix tape. https://suburbanunderground.podbean.com/
In the states, Level 42 may only be seen as two-hit-wonders thanks to the massive success of "Something About You' and "Lessons in Love" in the mid-80s. But around the rest of the world, Level 42 were viewed as a seriously complex group merging funk, r&b, jazz and rock in ways few others have ever done. Founding members bassist Mark King and keyboardist Mike Lindup finally closed up shop in the mid-90s, but reunited in 2006 and have steadily toured the world ever since. In this deep chat, Mike and I go over the band's history, the stories behind some of their songs, his excellent, but under-heard solo album, and what he's up to now. There's also a hilarious Bill Murray story at the end. On a personal note, this is a big one for me as Mike owns my all-time favorite singing voice. https://mikelindup.com/ https://www.level42.com/
Earth Wind and Fire are one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of music. It's more than just having hits - they established a level of greatness, of what is possible musically and spiritually, that many have aspired to, but few have reached. Lead by the vision of the late-great Maurice White, the group has torn through the last 45 years leaving a near perfect track record in their wake. Here we have a brief chat with bassist and founding member Verdine White about some of the seminal moments in the band's history, people they've worked with and what they're up to now. Believe me, life's too short to be a casual EWF fan! http://www.earthwindandfire.com/
Australian rock legends the Church have been an active part of the alternative scene for over 35 years. Their biggest global success may have been when "Under The Milky Way" reached #24 on the US pop charts in 1988, but they've never gone away and even released their 25th album, also one of their best, Man Woman Life Death Infinity last year. Steve's one of the most unfiltered guests we've ever featured on this show and is brutally honest when it comes to his drug addiction, financial state, and opinions about other Aussie bands. You won't believe what you hear! https://thechurchband.net/ https://www.kilbeykennedy.com/
Seventies rock icons Bad Company received a much-needed shot in the arm when founding members Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs recruited relative newbie Brian Howe to replace the great Paul Rodgers. By that point, Brian had recently started to breakthrough when he sang on Ted Nugent's Penetrator record. With Brian's help, Bad Company reached a whole new audience and kept the name alive throughout the late 80s and early 90s with Howe-penned hits like "No Smoke Without Fire", "Holy Water" and "How About That". Unfortunately, as is often the case, tensions between Brian and the Mick and Simon duo brought an end to this version of the band and it isn't pretty. Since then, Brian has continued to tour singing the songs he made famous. And, thankfully, he is currently on the mend after a massive heart attack a few months ago. This is a fascinating story behind one of the greatest voices in rock history. Enjoy! https://www.brianhowe.com/
The name Ambrosia has become synonymous with 70s soft rock gold thanks to enduring hits like "How Much I Feel" and "Biggest Part of Me". In truth, the band covered all genres - from prog to pop - during their 5-album run in the late70s - early 80s. Ambrosia's success can largely be contributed to the talent of former lead singer and primary songwriter David Pack. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the guys parted ways some time ago the band is now fronted by the supremely capable Ken Stacey. In this conversation, drummer Burleigh Drummond dispels the golden aura of Southern California rock in the 70s, details the confusion some people have had about their diverse sound, and expresses gratitude for his wife, Ambrosia keyboardist Mary Harris. They also have a wonderful side project called Tin Drum that's worth checking out. Enjoy! http://www.ambrosialive.net/ http://tindrum.net/index.html
This week it's frontman for THE quintessential "yacht rock" band Pablo Cruise. These days that type of 70s rock has been given that yacht rock label, but back in the day Pablo Cruise just recorded great breezy songs that reminded you of warm nights in the sun and sounded great on the radio. They racked up a bunch of hits between '77 and '81 like "Love Will Find a Way" and "Whatcha Gonna Do" before eventually calling it quits. Thanks to the never-ending thirst for their sunny sound, Pablo Cruise remain a popular live draw to this day. David also works closely with his wife, the excellent singer-songwriter Jaime Kyle. In this chat we learn about where the name of the band came from, what Dick Clark is like when the cameras are off and what former guests he knows well. Also, I need you to help me clarify whether or not Ben Stiller wore a Pablo Cruise shirt in the movie Greenberg. Enjoy! https://www.pablocruise.com/
Do we really need to list the accomplishments of John Oates? No way, he's been omnipresent in the best way for over 40 years. But, this last year he's really stepped out on his own. First off, he's releasing a new solo album, Arkansas, this Friday, Feb. 2nd! His recent move to Nashville has greatly influenced this latest offering which is a charming gumbo of rustic Americana and blues and bluegrass music. Also, last year he published his memoir, Change of Season, a wonderfully engaging read for all Hall and Oates fans. In this engaging chat we cover the album, the book, some Hall and Oates, and the stories behind some of his best H&O tunes. Enjoy! http://johnoates.com/ http://www.hallandoates.com/
Buffalo Tom were (and remain) one of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the last 30 years. Starting out in Boston in the late 80s under the tutelage of J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Buffalo Tom really hit their stride in the early 90s with hallmark albums like 92's Let Me Come Over and 93's Big Red Letter Day featuring classic tracks like "Taillights Fade" and "Soda Jerk". Unfortunately, despite appearing on the TV show My So-Called Life, racking up a devout following and attracting a host of famous fans, they never quite crossed over. Frontman Bill Janovitz spends the first part of this conversation discussing why that is and what the arc of the band has been. His deep education on rock history contextualizes that arc in unique ways. But, then we start debating the current state of rock music criticism, the enduring mystique of Exile on Main St. (he wrote a book on the subject) and even the Red Sox. It's a little bit of everything! Oh, and they have a new album coming out in a few weeks - Quiet and Peace. Check it out! http://www.buffalotom.com/ http://billjanovitz.com/blog/
The Dazz Band were one of the best and most innovative funk and r&b acts of the 70s and 80s. They started out in Cleveland as Kinsman Dazz ("danceable jazz") putting out two successful albums produced by EWF's Philip Bailey (who stepped in when Marvin Gaye had to back out). They shortened their name when they signed with Motown and kicked off a string of hits on the r&b charts over the next decade. The band only crossed over to the pop Top 40 once when "Let It Whip" rose to #5 in 1982. That track still cooks! Eventually, success slowed down, but the Dazz Band has always been in play and they still perform many shows a year. Through it all, founding member and musical director Bobby Harris has been at the helm, absorbing every up and down. Here's his story! http://www.thedazzband.com/
Jan and Jon answer questions sent in by listeners, and rank their top 5 episodes of 2017
Danielle Dax was an artist in the truest sense of the word. Yeah, she had a successful music career during the 80s, but that was just one facet of her boundless creativity. Her career started with an avant-garde group called the Lemon Kittens when she didn't even know how to play an instrument. Experimentation and performance art remained her guiding force as her solo career took off and she garnered radio play on alternative stations with tracks like "Big Hollow Man", "Cat House", and "The Id Parade". Unfortunately, at the dawn of the 90s she largely disappeared from the spotlight and has never really come back. We learn in this conversation what happened (it's a hot current topic), as well as what motivated her creativity and how she experiences music. It's fascinating to hear from such a strong female artist. Sadly, we learned last week that the listener that requested Danielle, Brian Jenson, took his own life on New Year's Eve, bringing a tragic tone to an otherwise uplifting conversation. http://www.danielledax.com/
For a duo with a hit as big as "Let's Go All The Way" was in 1986, there should be more to the Sly Fox story than there is. Brought together in an almost "boy band" fashion, Michael Camacho and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper only managed one album that featured one giant hit (#7 in 1986) and that was all she wrote. To this day, their one album, also titled Let's Go All the Way, has never been released on cd. This week Michael tells us how the band came together, what that brief moment in the spotlight was like, and what he's been doing since, which includes his solo jazz album Just For You from 2006. https://www.facebook.com/michael.f.camacho/