Shortly after singer-songwriter and guitarist David Crosby called it quits after three years with the Byrds, he met Stephen Stills in early 1968 and the pair began to practice and hold jam sessions. They were soon joined by Graham Nash, who had left behind his extremely successful group, the Hollies, to play with Crosby and Stills.
From the beginning, in light of their previous wranglings with record labels and other management types, the trio decided to not be locked into a group structure. They used their last names as the band name to ensure independence, to provide that the band could not continue without any one of them, in contrast to the situation encountered by both the Byrds and the Hollies. After failing to make the cut during auditions for Apple Records, the group signed a deal with Atlantic Records that was orchestrated by an up-and-coming music agent named David Geffen.
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.
Toys in the Attic came into the public eye in April 1975 and moved up to number 11 on the Billboard 200 album charts. “Sweet Emotion” was released as a single and became somewhat popular on the Billboard Hot 100 – topping out at number 36. Two years later “Walk This Way” made Top 10 on the Hot 100. ‘Toys’ is their most successful studio LP in the states, with eight million copies sold and counting. The album was number 229 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. “Walk This Way” and “Toys in the Attic” are included in the list of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll presented by the Rock Hall. The record found a new round of attention in 1986 when Run-DMC released their version of “Walk This Way”, which helped revive Aerosmith’s fading popularity.
Some Aerosmith fans believe that Tyler wrote “Sweet Emotion” due to the tension and hatred between the band and Joe Perry’s wife. In Aerosmith’s aforementioned autobiography, and in an episode of Behind the Music, it was revealed that ongoing feuds among the band members’ wives may have contributed to the band’s dissolution in the early 1980s.
Although ridiculed by critics, the band had cultivated a strong following after constant touring and incredibly ferocious concerts. And they also started living like the rock and roll stars they had become, indulging their substantial appetite for drugs. In the summer of 1976, the band followed up with Rocks, which is considered by many fans, critics, and fellow musicians to be a watershed moment in their career. It was already a Platinum album when it was issued, and ended up achieving quadruple Platinum status.
When it comes to Aerosmith albums, it should be noted that Jack Douglas produced ‘Wings’, ‘Toys’, Rocks and Draw the Line. His intimate partnership with the group went beyond the producing and engineering aspects. Douglas provided musical contributions to the group at times when they were in need of material for their projects, and he helped write “Kings and Queens”. He was sometimes referred to as “the sixth member” of the group due to his close relationship with the band.
Rush has received 24 Gold, 14 Platinum, and 3 Multi-platinum albums, and has been nominated for Grammy Awards 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 #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.
At the time of their 1990 debut, the kind of rock & roll the Black Crowes specialized in was sorely out of style. Only Guns N’ Roses came close to approximating a vintage Stones-style raunch, but they were too angry and jagged to pull it off completely. The Black Crowes, on the other hand, replicated that Stonesy swagger and Faces boogie perfectly. Vocalist Chris Robinson appropriated the sound and style of vintage Rod Stewart, while brother Rich Robinson fused Keith Richards’ lean guitar attack with Ron Wood’s messy rhythmic sense. At their best, the Black Crowes echoed classic rock without slavishly imitating their influences, and the band’s nostalgic sound helped foster a long, popular career.
Reggae’s most transcendent and iconic figure, Bob Marley was the first Jamaican artist to achieve international superstardom, in the process introducing the music of his native island nation to the far-flung corners of the globe. Marley’s music gave voice to the day-to-day struggles of the Jamaican experience, vividly capturing not only the plight of the country’s impoverished and oppressed but also the devout spirituality that remains their source of strength. His songs of faith, devotion, and revolution created a legacy that continues to live on not only through the music of his extended family but also through generations of artists the world over touched by his genius.
Motörhead’s overwhelmingly loud and fast style of heavy metal was one of the most groundbreaking styles the genre had to offer in the late ’70s. Though the group’s leader, Lemmy Kilmister, had his roots in the hard-rocking space rock band Hawkwind, Motörhead didn’t bother with his old group’s progressive tendencies, choosing to amplify the heavy biker rock elements of Hawkwind with the speed of punk rock. Motörhead wasn’t punk rock — they formed before the Sex Pistols and they loved the hell-for-leather imagery of bikers too much to conform with the safety-pinned, ripped T-shirts of punk — but they were the first metal band to harness that energy and, in the process, they created speed metal and thrash metal. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Motörhead continued performing into the next century. Although they changed their lineup many, many times — Lemmy was their only consistent member — they never changed their raging sound.
The British Parliament considered prohibiting Alice Cooper concerts in the U.K. in 1973, the same year that the friendly folks of Binghamton, New York actually barred a scheduled appearance. Two years later the album cover art for Alice’sKiller was banned in Mexico. In 1988, authorities prevented minors from attending and censored Alice’s Munich show. The Greek Orthodox Church in 1990 insisted that Alice should be expelled from Athens.
Years later, in 2009, Harri Wiherkoski, managing director of a pavilion in Tampere, Finland, concluded that “performances including representation of false gods, demons, evilness and forces of darkness and all these kind of symbols, words or markings are highly prohibited. Artists who express suspicious values from Christianity’s point of view cannot be allowed to perform at the venue.” He told a Finnish reporter “We don’t arrange concerts where Satanism or non-god-worshipping occurs.”
Out of all the Beatles, John Lennon had the most interesting — and frustrating — solo career. Lennon was capable of inspired, brutally honest confessional songwriting and melodic songcraft; he also had an undying love of straight-ahead rock & roll. But the extremes, both in his music and his life, were what made him fascinating. Where Paul McCartney was content to be a rock star, Lennon dabbled in everything from revolutionary politics to the television talk-show circuit during the early ’70s. After releasing a pair of acclaimed albums, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, in the early ’70s, Lennon sunk into an infamous “lost weekend” where his musical output was decidedly uneven and his public behavior was often embarrassing. Halfway through the decade, he sobered up and retired from performing to become a house-husband and father. In 1980, he launched a comeback with his wife Yoko Ono, releasing the duet album Double Fantasy that fall. Just as his career was on an upswing, Lennon was tragically assassinated outside of his New York apartment building in December of 1980. He left behind an enormous legacy, not only as a musician but as a writer, actor, and activist.
Nirvana was an American rock band formed by singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting being Dave Grohl, who joined the band in 1990. Despite releasing only three full-length studio albums in their seven-year career, Nirvana has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and important alternative bands in history. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the suicide of frontman Kurt Cobain, their music continues to maintain a popular following and to inspire and influence modern rock and roll culture.
In the late 1980’s, Nirvana established itself as part of the Seattle grunge scene, releasing its first album, Bleach, for the independent record label Sub Pop in 1989. The band eventually came to develop a sound that relied on dynamic contrasts, often between quiet verses and loud, heavy choruses. After signing to major label DGC Records, Nirvana found unexpected success with “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the first single from the band’s second album Nevermind (1991). Nirvana’s sudden success widely popularized alternative rock as a whole, and the band’s frontman Cobain found himself referred to in the media as the “spokesman of a generation”, with Nirvana being considered the “flagship band” of Generation X. In response, Nirvana’s third studio album, In Utero (1993), released to critical acclaim, featured an abrasive, less-mainstream sound and challenged the group’s audience.
The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, in 1974. They are often cited as the first band to define the punk-rock sound. Despite achieving only limited commercial success, the band was a major influence on the 1970s punk movement in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
All of the band members adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname “Ramone”, although none of them were related. They performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. In 1996, after a tour with the Lollapalooza music festival, the band played a farewell concert and disbanded. By 2014, all four of the band’s original members, lead singer Joey Ramone (1951–2001), bass guitarist Dee Dee Ramone (1951–2002), lead guitarist Johnny Ramone (1948–2004) and drummer Tommy Ramone (1949–2014), had died.