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?
The word pioneer gets thrown around a lot, but in the case of Genya Ravan it is well-earned. Genya's career has included so many "firsts", it's a crime she isn't a household name. She went from being a virginal topless model to fronting the first ever all-girl group signed to a major label with Goldie and the Gingerbreads. From there she led the popular blues/jazz group Ten Wheel Drive before going solo in the 70s and releasing a number of stellar solo albums (especially 1978's Urban Desire and 1979's ... And I Mean It!). While recording some of her own exceptional music, she also produced one of the greatest punk albums of all time, The Dead Boys' 1977 masterpiece Young Loud and Snotty. She has seen and done it all and lived to tell the fantastic story (she also published her autobiography The Lollipop Lounge, a must-read). She's the freest of spirits and biggest of personalities. An underground legend! http://www.genyaravan.com/
The 70s were a beautiful time for earnest, heartfelt singer-songwriters. One of the most versatile was Henry Gross, whose one and only hit was 1976's "Shannon". This tune about Beach Boy Carl Wilson's dead dog reached #6 in 1976 and placed Henry alongside contemporaries like James Taylor and Jim Croce as a force to be reckoned with. Henry is also an example of perseverance because, though "Shannon" was as good as it got on the charts, he has continued to record and perform, never losing his thirst for finding another great song. His vibrant energy leaps out of the speakers in this conversation as we ruminate on everything from music careers and creativity to politics and faith. He even talks about his Woodstock experience when he was the youngest performer that weekend (18 years old) while a member of Sha Na Na. I also get to tell him an impactful story on how he kinda sorta inspired this podcast. Enjoy! http://www.henrygross.com/
This week we celebrate the big 100 with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stu Cook, bassist for the legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival! Everyone knows and loves the music of CCR, but sadly the band has been fraught with tension almost from the beginning. In this intensely candid conversation, Stu lays out the reasons for much of the dysfunction. It basically comes down to lead-singer and main songwriter John Fogerty on one side and Stu and drummer Doug Clifford on the other. Thankfully, Stu and Doug have been able to soldier on for over 20 years now as Creedence Clearwater Revisited playing the songs they helped to make famous. Stu also discusses CCR's Woodstock experience, the drama behind that awkward Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and the reasons for the many legal battles that have erupted over the years. We are supremely honored to have Stu celebrate the 100 milestone with us! And there's also a giveaway, so listen til the end. http://creedence-revisited.com/
What can you say that hasn't already been said about an artist that defined a decade? We're kicking off our series on the 70s with one of the biggest musicians in history - Harry Wayne Casey, leader of KC and the Sunshine Band! They had dozens of hits you know by heart and sold 100 million records in the process. So, how does Harry look back on his career? We talk about those dark retirement years in the 80s, what inspired him to write such infectious songs, the literal fallout of the Disco Sucks movement, and what his daily routine is. Simply put - he's one of the most successful artists of all time. He also continues to release new music on occasion, such as his new song "Movin' Your Body" which will be out any day now! http://www.heykcsb.com/
Dana Dane came up in the rap game out of the Fort Green projects of Brooklyn with his best friend Slick Rick in the mid-80s. He created quite a stir in the underground with his debut album Dana Dane With Fame and lead single "Cinderfella Dana Dane". Even though the future looked bright for Dana, and with With Fame selling a promising half a million copies, two subsequent albums never quite caught on and he pretty much left recording after his third album in 1995. But, these challenges just caused him to diversify. He went on to write a bestseller and start a multi-media company. We talk about those early days with Slick Rick, how he's navigated the ups and downs of his career, what it was like opening for his favorite group Whodini, and him slowly easing back into music.
P.M. Dawn were one of the most revolutionary voices in hip-hop history and, frankly, they don't get the credit they deserve. Led by primary creative visionary Prince Be, the sibling duo brought colors and textures to rap that weren't there before and have influenced the more creative hip-hop we hear today. Sadly, Prince Be passed away last year, one of the many heart-breaking deaths from 2016, putting an end to a singular vision and voice. We are honored to have his partner and brother DJ Minutemix (aka Eternal, aka Jarrett Cordes) on this week to fill us in on how the family is doing, what Be was like and the spriritual influences of their music, the story behind giant hits like "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" and "I'd Die Without You", and why someone named Doc G is out there calling himself P.M. Dawn.
Drummer Hilly Michaels has had one of the juiciest careers in rock. Beginnig from his early teenage days making music with best chum Michael Bolton, Hilly's path has taken him from the top to the bottom and back again. In the 70s, a tight friendship with Mick Ronson paved the way for collaborations with everyone from John Mellencamp to Ian Hunter to Ellen Foley. He even joined Sparks there for a while as well as the Dan Hartman Band with mysterious recluse Vinnie Vincent. He was even invited to join Kiss - twice! He managed to release two albums of his own, the 1980 masterpiece Calling All Girls, which featured the titular single (which happened to be the 94th video ever played on MTV) and an experimental second album, Lumia, which brought an end to his recording career. Every step along the way deserves it's own conversation, but in this one you'll get some of his best stories and get to know a truly sweet man. Kamikazee!
1987 was a great year for alternative blue-eyed soul music coming out of the UK. Bands like Breathe, Swing Out Sister, the Kane Gang and Hipsway brought a highly sophisticated sound to pop and dance music with a lot of funky horns and bass. My favorite of these groups was Curiosity Killed the Cat who did well in the UK, but had only one near-miss single in the states with "Misfit" which reached #42 that year. Part of CKTC's magic was the soulful voice of lead singer Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot. Unfortunately, the band only lasted a couple albums. Today, Ben is out there performing under the CKTC name to rapt crowds on the nostalgia circuit. In this conversation, we talk about the early club days, what he does now, and how Andy Warhol got involved with the band. Ben was one of the reasons I started this podcast and he wasn't easy to find, so I'm extremely grateful he talked to me.
Does it get anymore "indelible" than maybe the most long-lasting hit of the 80s, "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves? This #9 hit from 1985 has continued to live on for decades thanks to its use in everything from movie trailers to commercials. Kimberley Rew is the man that wrote that song, as well as most other songs for Katrina and the Waves, as well as being their guitarist. What casual fans of the band may not know is that there are dozens of primo power pop gems in their catalog and Kimberley is a top-flight songwriter. Before the Waves, Rew was a founding member of the highly acclaimed and influential post-punk band The Soft Boys. That short-lived band was fronted by the great Robyn Hitchcock, who went on to have his own successful solo career as well. So, being a trendsetter is part of Kimberley's make-up. We also talk about BMG purchasing the rights to KatW's catalog for 10 million pounds in 2015, their out-of-nowhere win in the Eurovision song contest in 1997 and his noteworthy solo career. Get to know the man behind the song! http://www.kimberleyrew.com/
Who can ever forget Musical Youth, those five cute black kids from Birmingham England who had a major worldwide smash with 1983's "Pass The Dutchie". The group, who it should be said wrote many of their own songs and played their own instruments, put out two albums before calling it quits while still in their teens. Unfortunately, some of the traps of life after child stardom crept in - financial problems, legal issues, death. Co-lead singer Dennis Seaton passes on to us some of his well-earned wisdom from those days. He also shines as an example of perseverance. Today, Musical Youth is back out there with Dennis and keyboardist Michael Grant, and they're even working on new music. As it should be! https://www.facebook.com/musicalyouthofficial/
The Breakfast Club were a fun dance/pop group who put out one album, which included their one and only hit, "Right On Track" which reached #7 in 1987. Unfortunately, that's all she wrote for band. What makes them a fascinating bit of rock history is that they originated as a punk band in NYC in the laet 70s and their drummer was none other than Madonna! Bassist Gary Burke recounts those early days with pre-fame Madonna as well as how the Breakfast Club managed to change directions and become a solid 1-hit-wonder a few years later. It's a fascinating glimpe into a great band and one of the most famous women of all time.
When talking about the indelible hits of the 80s, it doesn't get much bigger than "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz. Led by the husband and wife team of John Smith and Valerie Day, Nu Shooz finally hit the maintstream after years of plugging away on the Portland, OR club scene when "I Can't Wait" reached #3 on the pop charts (#1 on the dance chart) in 1986, embedding one of the most "iconic" basslines into the brains of music fans around the world. Their major label debut album, Poolside, also featured the #28 hit "Point of No Return", but sadly the follow up didn't perform as well and Nu Shooz releases slowed down from there. But the groove of "I Can't Wait" has never gone away from the numerous commercials, sampling, sporting events, and general background soundtracking of every day life. It remains a sample of funk and dance envelope pushing as well as studio wizardry. In here we talk about the effects of the song on their lives, what they do outside of music, their influences, and how they've kept a marriage together so long. They're maybe the most pleasant people on earth. http://www.nushoozmusic.com/
No series on the indelible hits of the 80s would be complete without showcasing the enduring "Obsession" by new wavers Animotion. This week we talk to co-lead singer Bill Wadhams and learn about how their biggest hit came into being and how it effected his career for good and bad. Consider this - you've just achieved world-wide fame, but on very unique terms you weren't mentally prepared for. In the process, the song becomes bigger than you and your talent and abilities get overshadowed. This bittersweet tale has a redeeming end, however, now that Animotion has released their first album featuring Bill and Astrid Plane in almost 30 years, Raise Your Expectations. Plus, it's a home run, something you may not have believed could be possible in 2017. Bill's very honest about the ups and downs of his career and what it feels like to get a second chance at the career you always dreamed of. http://animotion-obsession.com/
Cutting Crew made a huge splash with their debut album Broadcast in 1986, which featured three top 40 hits including the #1 smash "(I Just) Died In Your Arms". Lead singer Nick Van Eede had the musical chops and hunky good looks to catapult a great band into the mainstream. Unfortunately, a long delayed second album cost the group the momentum it needed to stay there, and Nick's broader and more epic songwriting lost some pop sensibility in the process. They sadly never regained their stature. Over the years, Cutting Crew have released five albums in total, including 2015's Add To Favourites, and held a pleasurable spot on 80s Rewind-type tours throughout the world. Nick talks about his prog influences, the death of his musical partner Kevin Scott MacMichael, his involvement in the creation of Cher's global juggernaut "Believe", and how he nearly replaced Phil Collins in Genesis. Cutting Crew may have seemed gone to those not paying full attention, but Nick has never really gone away. http://cuttingcrew.biz/
2016 just couldn't go quietly, taking the legend George Michael away on Christmas day. To discuss his career and legacy, as well as his untimely death, we bring back Steve Spears of the popular Stuck in the 80s podcast to make sense of it all.