Like peanut butter and jelly, day and night, or even rock and roll, some things in life just go together. Stop and go, risk and reward, millions of pairs of things that pass through our lives. We first considered coming up with a profile of well-known pairs of artists with famous acts such as Simon and Garfunkel, Hall and Oates, and other ‘name and name‘ duos. Then we considered pairing bands by their name and found some interesting, slightly humorous results.
From the late sixties until 1973, a bunch of guys in Topeka, Kansas, all of them members of the bands White Clover and Saratoga, were mixing personnel, with some leaving one group to join the other. Eventually, in 1973, the crew solidified and Kansas was the result. The first release from the new group came in the version of a self-titled album in 1974 that had a nominal impact. The group toured heavily and Kirshner Records promoted the band with above-average success. In 1976 the single “Carry On My Wayward Son”, released to promote the fourth album, Leftoverture, struck a chord as the tune rose to number 11 on the U.S. charts and set the course for future success. The group went on to release four Platinum and eight Gold Records, continued to tour and record with assorted group line-ups and is scheduled to showcase their latest effort, The Prelude Implicit, in September of 2016. You can see what Kansas is up to these days by way of their website.
In recordings as diverse as Steely Dan, Sonny and Cher, or Boz Skaggs, and a handful of other well-known musicians, you’ll hear some of the future members of Toto, including David Paich on keyboards, and drummer Jeff Porcaro. The duo kicked around with other musicians for a few years while recruiting the talent they needed to become Toto, which happened in 1977 when the group signed with Columbia Records. In Latin the word ‘toto’ translates to “all-encompassing”, and since most of the band members had appeared on a bunch of assorted tracks in a range of musical genres, they adopted “Toto” as their name. When their initial self-titled release hit the shelves in 1978, the stage was set for good things, and the album slowly took off. The single “Hold The Line” quickly rose to spot 5 on the charts in late ’78, and two additional singles from the album led to a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. After decades of touring and album work, the band has collected six Grammy awards, celebrated their 35th anniversary in 2013 with concerts in Europe and North America, and still appears on a steady basis. Their latest offering, Toto XIV, released in March of 2015, made a mark at number 18 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums charts. Get caught up with Toto online for all the latest news and info.
When you combine a voice born for singing with the fine licks of a highly skilled lead guitarist, then throw in the best drummer in the world and wow, what a Rush! In 1968, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neil Pert joined forces to form Rush in a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. After years of the nightclub circuit, the band recorded and released Rush in 1974. Album sales were sluggish until a disc jockey at WMMS in Cleveland added the single “Working Man” to the playlist, and the song quickly gained popularity. The tune became a minor hit and Mercury Records decided to release the first album on their label in the U.S. When the fourth album, 2112, was released in 1976, the band was in full stride and the record achieved Platinum Album sales levels in Canada. As they say, “the rest is history”. The group has received 24 Gold, 14 Platinum, and 3 Multi-platinum albums, and has been nominated for GrammyAwards seven times yet received none. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) estimates that Rush has sold over 40 million records which put them at position 80 in worldwide record sales. Over the years, the trio has been recognized as some of the most accomplished players on their respective instruments, with group members on top of the list for numerous awards in magazine readers’ polls. The group has released over 40 albums, with 20 studio recordings, 10 live and 10 compilation packages, plus several re-released titles. Rush on over to the band website and check it out!
If you had to describe Traffic in one word it would be ‘Steve Winwood’. His incredible journey began at age 15 when he joined The Spencer Davis Group in 1963. The group was very popular in Europe, with three Top Ten albums and four Top Ten songs in the United Kingdom, plus two Top Ten tracks in the U.S. Four years later Winwood created Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason, striking a recording deal with Island Records. Two singles were produced which did well in the U.K. and Canada, then Mason left the group, only to return shortly after the release of their debut album Mr. Fantasy. In the United Kingdom, the debut sold well but did poorly elsewhere, although it reached number 88 on U.S. charts. The second album, Traffic, which was released in 1968 features the Mason classic “Feelin’ Alright”, brought attention to their talent. The group toured the States, as Winwood and Wood took the time to contribute to the Jimi Hendrix double album Electric Ladyland“, with Dave Mason also joining in but not receiving credit on the disc. The more internal conflict came to the forefront in early 1969, and Winwood quit to form Blind Faith. That band lasted for a year, an album, and a U.S. tour. Back in Traffic, during November of ’71, Windwood and the gang released their soon-to-be U.S. favorite, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, which did not even show up on British charts. Soon Mason left for good, and the group produced several more albums and concert events until disbanding in 1974. Winwood and Mason pursued solo projects, Chris Wood passed away after battling pneumonia in 1983, and a one-shot-deal reunion tour in 1994 found positive reception. In 2004, Traffic took their place in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a year later the death of Jim Capaldi left Traffic at a permanent standstill. Links for band members include Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi.
It all started on August 18, 1977, when someone called the cops and Copeland, Sting, and Summers ‘arrived on the scene’ at a club in Birmingham, England. The trio played gigs together as well as becoming involved in other projects at the time, some of which led to minimal exposure. In late 1978, Stewart Copeland’s older brother Miles arranged a recording agreement with A&M Records after hearing “Roxanne” while the group recorded tracks for Outlandos d’Amour. The song came out as a single and went nowhere, ignored by the BBC playlist, so the band declared the single “banned by the BBC” in hopes of drumming up needed publicity. In early 1979 “Roxanne” was offered as a single in North America, where it found notable airplay and the song managed to reach the 31st place in Canada and number 32 in the States, stimulating a U.K. re-release in April. In light of the group’s U.S. success they landed a gig at the growing New York club CBGB, and then fate took over for the trio. They caught a rising superstar and went on to become a beyond-megaseller act, with current worldwide sales approaching 75 million records. They have collected six Grammy Awards, two Brit Awards, and, although their break-up happened in 1986, a 2007 reunion world tour netted them record-setting concert revenues. For more updates “talk to The Police and see what happens“!
History tells us that rock and roll music was born in the American South, in the music of legends such as Chuck Berry, Elvis, Little Richard and many dozens of other innovators. The late 50’s and early 60’s saw growth of the genre, and when the British bands landed on U.S. charts during the ‘first wave’, the ‘roll’ was discarded and the name became ‘rock music’. The early 70’s saw the rise of bands from the South, including The Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet, and The Outlaws, to name a few, and a new rock genre emerged. As a band, The Outlaws began in late 1967 with singer-guitarist Hughie Thomasson and friends. For seven years the group survived, with numerous members coming and going, then in 1974 a gig with Lynyrd Skynyrd led to the band becoming the first talent signed to the new Arista label. Their debut album from 1975, The Outlaws, is impressive, with the guitar-heroes-dueling sounds on the single “Green Grass and High Tides” (hell of a song!), and the upbeat “There Goes Another Love Song”, that also garnered a following for the group. “Green Grass…” is featured in the video game Rock Band, and in the game, players face sophisticated solos. The group kept working and doing concerts and had one more minor hit, a cover of “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” in 1980, but large-scale success has evaded the group. The band still tours under the original name, sometimes doing up to 150 shows a year. Maybe they will be in your territory soon — catch up with an Outlaw.
When the young Young brothers, Malcolm and Angus, added vocalist Ronald “Bon” Scott to their fledgling band in 1974, it set them up for a place in rock history. The band cut and released a single titled “Can I Sit Next To You Girl”, a tune that shows up on two AC/DC albums: T.N.T. and High Voltage. The group recorded High Voltage in just 10 days in October 1974, and the public became confused because the song “High Voltage” is found on the T.N.T. release. The group had several appearances from 1974 to 1977 on the Australian television program Countdown, which featured up-and-coming talent from ‘down under’. Their April 1977 performance on the show would be their last live TV appearance for over twenty years. Atlantic Records took the band to their label in 1976 and the stream of albums began with High Voltage and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, both released in ’76. The band began their climb into an international success with more albums including Let There Be Rock (1977) and Powerage (1978), plus the chart-breaking Back in Black from 1979. Lately, the band has been in the news due to the hearing problems of lead singer Brian Johnson, who was replaced during the Rock or Bust World Tour by Guns N Roses crooner Axl Rose. “Axl Came, Did Concert!” More AC/DC buzz via the Information Superhighway (To Hell) at the band website.
The Beatles are a prime example of rock bands using symphonies, orchestras, and other elements of classical music in their composing, writing, and performances. Roy Wood, the singing/songwriting force that kept The Move moving in British rock circles, realized that more could be done with this type of creativity. His band was huge in the U.K., with nine Top Twenty hits over five years, but were almost unheard of on American soil. They had been together since 1965, and with the fame, they achieved in England, the time seemed right for his blooming orchestral rock ambitions. In 1970 songwriter and multi-talented musician Jeff Lynne joined The Move, and the transformation into Electric Light Orchestra was in place. The release of The Electric Light Orchestra marked the start of a thirteen-year stint of concerts and almost non-stop appearances on music charts. The orchestra was more popular in the States than in Europe, and although they had 20 Top Twenty hits, not one made it to the top of U.S. charts. In 1986 they stopped performing as a group, then Jeff Lynne revived the name in 2014 and still tours using the title Jeff Lynne’s ELO. The Classic Albums contains dozens of ELO hits listed here. The news about the band is on the Jeff Lynne web page.
They put out album jackets that said: “No synthesizers were used on this record” and contained fantastic music that made people listen up and take notice. Initially, Farrokh Bulsara began as a fan of the British group Smile, then in 1970 he joined them on vocals and the band changed their name to Queen and his name became Freddy Mercury. Brian May and Roger Taylor were already members when the band first got underway, and in 1973 their self-titled album hit the streets. It got into the mix at spot 83 on U.S. charts with the aid of the single “Keep Yourself Alive”, and AllMusic later called the effort a “patchy but promising debut from a classic rock group”. International success brought on by a Sheer Heart Attack was celebrated with the reward of A Night at the Opera in 1975, and the world fell in love with “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Freddy and the Queen crew progressed and flourished for nearly two decades, until AIDS-related pneumonia took his life on November 24, 1991. The incredible career of the band includes 18 Number One singles, 18 Number One albums, and worldwide record sales with estimates ranging from 150 to 300 million units. Queen received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award in 1990 from the British Phonographic Industry and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Their most recent release, A Night at the Odean, a live recording from 1975, was released in 2015. If you want to find out more they are on the web.
Prince Rodgers Nelson came into the world in June 1958 and soon developed a musical interest while a young child, composing his first song at age seven. His influences were from the South, with part of his family from Louisiana, and playing music was common while growing up. When he was 17, he produced and forwarded a demo package to several record companies, and replies came from Warner Brothers, A&M, and Columbia. Prince agreed to terms with WB whereby he controlled the first three albums and owned all related publishing rights. The artist known as Prince packed up and left Minneapolis for Sausalito and The Record Plant for studio work on For You, the 1978 debut album which Prince wrote, produced, arranged, composed, and played all 27 instruments found on the record. Several of the songs found welcoming ears and landed on a few soul charts, reaching spot 92 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and numbers 12 and 91 on Hot Soul Singles lists. Through the late Seventies and into the early Eighties his reach continued, earning a Grammy Award for “International Lover” in 1984. His work led to six more Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Purple Rain. His recent demise shocked the international community, not just music fans, for his talents were recognized throughout nearly every segment of society. His online vault is found here. Enjoy!
We did some digging but had not much luck finding out if any of the bands we’ve matched have ever appeared together.