Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Janis Martin was indeed, “The Female Elvis”, a fellow RCA recording artist with the expressed permission of Colonel Tom Parker to use the title publicly! When you really consider what that meant in 1956, it is astounding. But in truth, Janis Martin was much, much more than a female knock-off of that year’s top performer. She was no less than a founding member of the rockabilly style. And before I tell you more about that, you need to know that when she got the call from RCA in 1956, she was only 15 years old!

Janis Martin, The Female Elvis

You’ll know her rich jazzy trumpet of a voice from three songs in particular: “Will You, Willyum” was her biggest hit, with her own “Drugstore Rock and Roll” on the flip side. And her performance of “My Boy Elvis” for Dave Garroway on the Today Show won her a spot in the Grand Ole Opry.

A PRISONER OF THE STAGE – Janis showed early skill as a performer. Her childhood was spent on stage, singing and playing the guitar from age four. The guitar was too big for her, so she started up holding it like a double bass, straight up and down on the floor. Now that’s cute! By age six she was playing chords and singing along. At eight, she began winning talent contests. She was her mother’s little gold mine, groomed for stardom, hard at work when other children were playing outside.

But she became an outstanding guitarist and studied the songs of blues artists, which she performed on radio “barn dance” shows in her native Virginia. In her first Nashville recording session for RCA, she met Chet Atkins, who told her she was “right on track” with the newly emerging rockabilly style. RCA put her with other top session musicians for recording sessions in New York and Nashville. Her work earned her the “Most Promising Female Vocalist” of 1956.

UH OH! – Meanwhile, payback time was brewing. Remember how Janis’ mother made her work all through her childhood? Unknown to anyone, Janis, at age 15, had secretly married her boyfriend just before her first session at RCA! Fortunately, he shipped out to Germany with the US Army. I say “fortunately” because we might never have heard this wonderful artist had they set up housekeeping right away!

During that first session in Nashville, Chet Atkins ironically picked a song for her called “Let’s Elope.” Imagine the suppressed glee Janis must have felt at that! A year later, Janis was on tour in Europe, still secretly married. While she was there, she visited her boyfriend (husband!) at his station in Germany. Shortly afterward, Janis realized she was pregnant. Her secret had to come out.

Eight months pregnant at her last recording session, her manager, Steve Sholes, was reportedly bawling his eyes out! He had believed she could have been a huge star, truly the equivalent of her namesake. All Janis wanted to do was settle down and have her baby and a real life.

YEARS LATER, AN EPIPHANY – In the early 1970s, Janis kids were teenagers and she was a single mom. She convened a new band and tried performing once again. Her own words: “I realized it wasn’t momma pushing me any longer. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it and loved it.”

By 1979, offers for tour dates were flooding in from all over the world. At 42 years old, The incredulous Janis had no choice but to follow the call, receiving the adoration of retro-dressed fans of rockabilly all over England, Europe, and Australia.

Janis still makes appearances today, but is most content with her “real” life. She is retired in Danville, Virginia, about 16 miles from the place where the talented Ms. Martin was born and raised to rock’n’roll!

SEPTEMBER 6, 2007 – It is with sadness that today we mourn the passing of Janis Martin at the age of 67, far too soon. Our condolences to her children and to all who love this brilliant singer and songwriter. We do too.


The Reckless Ones

Posted: January 22, 2012 in Music
Tags: , , ,

“This ain’t the 50′s no more” snarls the young man behind the drum set. He follows it up by spitting directly behind himself. The aggressive contempt of youth was on full display during the Reckless One’s set. A level of punk energy that it took me right back to my early twenties, crawling in and out of “Oi” shows in Dallas, Texas dive bars. But this wasn’t Oi or even pop-punk. The Reckless Ones start out very simply with blues riffs, country licks, and the heavy back beat of early rock ‘n’ roll. This is rockabilly, no doubt about it. But as the Reckless Ones show, the fact of 21st century rockabilly is an evolving one.

So you guys are the Reckless Ones. Tell us the history of your band?


Before our first gig in 2009 we were in the studio recording the debut album “Make your Move.” and before the record was out we were shooting a music video. Before the records had time to cool from the presses we booked back-to-back U.S. and U.K. tours. And rather then rest, we got right back in the studio in 2010 to record their newest record “Set the World on Fire,” then did another week abroad playing festivals in Finland, France and Spain.

Who plays what?
Kevin O’Leary -Guitar/vocal
Adam Boatright-Upright Bass
Dylan Patterson-Stand-up drums

Listening to your stuff, I can’t help but notice some influences beyond typical rockabilly and psychobilly. I hear bits of the Doors and some post-punk/New Wave. Am I correct about this?

You are more clever than most interviewers!  This is all correct, but our influences span the whole history of Rock n Roll.  Normally people just look at us and say we’re a “Stray Cats” kind of band.  It goes a lot deeper than that.

What rockabilly and classic rock ‘n’ roll inspired you?
We love The Beatles, The Clash, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Carroll, Elvis, Stray Cats, The Cure, The Doors, TSOL, Misfits, Danzig, The Quakes, Dion

You guys are from Minneapolis, what’s the scene like there?
It’s our family.  Most of them come out to our shows and really make us feel at home.  It’s not the biggest scene but it will fill a house and turn a show into a party.  Minneapolis is our home!

Any Minneapolis bands you’d like to give a shout out too?

Violent Shifters, The Throbbing Hot Rods, Phantom Tails.

It’s been said the Reckless Ones could have an appeal beyond the rockabilly scene. Do you feel like that is true?

Maybe, but it’s not our place to decide.  We just want to keep playing the music we write.  What is Rockabilly?

You’re on tour right now. What cities should be on the lookout for the Reckless Ones?

err.. Every town in Finland

Name some of your favorite towns to play?

Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Kansas City, Sastamala, Finland

So you put out an album last year.  What was that experience like?

It was a great experience!  We liked it so much we just recorded another album almost 1 year later.  Recording has to be the funnest things next to playing live.  We really love working with our friend and engineer JB.  He has done both of our albums and put up with our shit, thanks brother!

What’s next for ya’ll?

With the recent release of our second album “Set the World on Fire” we plan to hit the road again.  In addittion to that we will be pushing our music to be heard all over the world.  We’re a band that believes in hard work done DIY style.  Check back with us soon!



 “A Season in Hell”, a spiritual and confessional autobiography. Arthur Rimbaud was a genius, his writings were a quest. A search for perfection, an attempt to find total freedom. At the age of nineteen, Arthur Rimbaud commited suicide, not of the flesh, but of the mind and the soul. It means he never wrote another word, and disappeared off the face of the earth. He was not seen nor heard from again for nearly twenty years, until he reappeared in a hospital within Marseille on his deathbed.

The innocence of the 50s was over and so was rock and roll as we knew it. We were entering a new age, an age of confusion, an age of passion, of commitment. Eddie Wilson saw it coming. “Season in Hell” is the total innovation for its time. It was a signal a greatness yet to come. Eddie Wilson was a step ahead of us and I don’t think we’ve caught up with him yet. Eddie’s been dead for almost 18 years, but his music is as alive today as the day he recorded it. For me and for everyone who listens to music, Eddie Wilson lives and always will.

The 1983  film Eddie and the Cruisers referenced Rimbaud’s inner turmoil in a story about a musician that was trying to complete the perfect album and disappeared when the record company rejected it.

 Eddie Wilson, the lead character in the story, is introduced to Rimbaud by a young man who joins his band. In an argument among the band about a song that Eddie doesn’t think sounds quite right and can’t exactly explain why, the young man quotes the English translation of Rimbaud’s long form poem, demonstrating an example of a Cesure, or meaningful silence, which puts into words the explanation that Eddie cannot.

 The album that is rejected by the record label, which Eddie was inspired to make after being impressed by Rimbaud’s work, is called “A Season In Hell.” After a fight with a record label executive, Eddie tears out of the studio angrily, ends up driving his car over a bridge guardrail and is presumed to be dead.

This leads to rumors that he faked his death, effectively shunning his art as Rimbaud did.

February 3, 1959 was the snowy night when Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens took off in a small plane from Clear Lake, Iowa, after playing a gig at the Surf Ballroom. They were headed to the next stop on their Winter Dance Party tour, and Holly, sick of the miserable experience on the tour bus, chartered a plane.

The plane crashed in a field about five miles from the airport due to poor weather conditions. In an interesting bit of trivia, Valens and Richardson weren’t even supposed to be on the plane. The plane was supposed to be for Holly and his bandmates, but Tommy Allsup flipped a coin with Valens for the last seat and Waylon Jennings gave up his seat to a flu-stricken Richardson.

Holly was only 22 years old at the time of the crash and left behind a pregnant widow, who suffered a miscarriage shortly after the crash. The Big Bopper was 28 and Ritchie Valens was only 17 years old.

Johnny Cash Martin Guitar
Johnny Cash struttin’ his stuff, jammin’ on his Martin guitar, CA. 1959.

Now Johnny Cash’s life wasn’t exactly a cakewalk back in the day.  Cash was touring like a banshee —  the marriage was crumbling — they (he and first wife Vivian) had 4 baby girls to take care of — he was partying like a fiend — he and his badass buddies, like Waylon Jennings, were taking every pill there was — he gets busted in El Paso for possession — you get the picture, the guy lived hard.  Yet, looking at these pictures, he looks simply amazing.  Cash’s style during this time, with his tight, slicked back hair and crisp, clean tailoring look unbelievable compared to the 1970s ‘bigger is better’ looks that were to follow. I will say though that once you get to 1965-66 — well, you can see that the effects are definitely starting to show on Johnny’s face.  All in all though, he had an amazing run even with all the crap going on, until it eventually caught up with him — and it always does.  

Johnny Cash Johnny
Cash backstage and his awesome custom Gibson with his name inlayed in the fingerboard.

 Johnny Cash

Johnny cash with his custom “Johnny Cash” Gibson guitar, Memphis, TN, ca. 1960.

johnny cash
Johnny Cash holding a to guitar, sitting with daughters Rosanne, Cathy and Tara in 1960.
Johnny Cash
Country singer Johnny Cash smokes a cigarette in his hotel room in White Plains, New York, ca. 1959

Johnny Cash Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash Johnny
Cash rehearses with his wife Vivian Liberto for his upcoming appearance on the television show


Johnny Cash Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash tunes his guitar backstage in White Plains, New York, ca. 1959.
Johnny Cash tunes his guitar backstage in White Plains, New York, ca. 1959.


Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash Jerry
Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, ca. 1956. The Quartet was really an impromptu jam (and publicity photo op, no doubt) between four famous musicians that was recorded by Sam Phillips at his Sun Studios.


Johnny Cash
The Man in Black — Johnny Cash, taken in Memphis, TN, ca. 1957.

 Johnny Cash

The Man in Black — Johnny Cash, taken in Memphis, TN, ca. 1957.

Johnny Cash and electric guitarist Luther Perkins perform on stage in White Plains, New York. Cash's hair flies up in the air crazily as he jams to the music, ca. 1959.
Johnny Cash and electric guitarist Luther Perkins perform on stage in White Plains, New York. Cash’s hair flies up in the air crazily as he jams to the music, ca. 1959.


Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash in the recording studio looking reflective.


Johnny Cash El Paso 1965 Johnny Cash gets busted in El Paso International Airport for drug possession, 1965.


Johnny Cash busted in El Paso

October 5th, 1965 – JOHNNY CASH MAKES BOND – Country and Western star Johnny Cash, center, is flanked by a bondsman and a U.S. Marshall as he was transferred from El Paso County Jail to the Federal Courthouse Tuesday. Cash was arrested at International Airport Monday and charged with importing and concealing over 1,000 pep pills and tranquilizers. Bond was $1,500.

Johnny Cash and wife Vivian

December 29th, 1965 – JOHNNY CASH PLEADS GUILTY – Country and Western music singer and recording star Johnny Cash entered a plea of guilty before U.S. District Judge D.W. Suttle Tuesday at his arraignment on charges of possessing 668 Dexadrin and 475 Equanil tablets when arrested Oct 4 at El Paso International Airport. Cash, left, leaves the Federal Courthouse with his wife, Vivian, and attorney Woodrow W. Bean after Judge Suttle deferred sentence on the misdemeanor charge that carried a possible penalty up to $1,000 fine and one year in prison.

Johnny Cash El Paso 1966

March 9th, 1966 – SINGER RELAXES – Johnny Cash, right, Country and Western music star talks to friends in a local restaurant after receiving a $1,000 fine and a 30-day suspended sentence Tuesday in U.S. District Court for possession of illegal drugs. With Cash, second from left, are the Rev. Floyd Bressett, minister of the non-denominational Avenue Community Church, of Ventura, Calif.; El Paso attorney Woodrow W. Bean, who Cash said gave him “strength during my ordeal,” and Johnny Thompson, a friend and former radio announcer.

Johnny Cash
Give ’em Hell, Johnny!

          How punk rock can a coffee-table book possibly be? The Clash, a band that embodied 
 the rebellious, DIY ethic of the late-’70s scene — and that proclaimed louder than anyone else a social and political purpose to punk’s nihilism — have a book out. A big, pink, glossy, coffee-table book. In good time for Christmas, too.

Accusations of the band betraying their punk credentials are nothing new — it says so on page 113 of The Clash, their first official autobiography. In the words of front man Joe Strummer, “fanzine Sniffin’ Glue wrote ‘Punk Rock died the day the Clash signed to Columbia’ [in 1977].” In reality, mainstream success didn’t kill their principles: as the band recounts, when their week-long residency at Bond’s Casino in New York City was oversold, they stayed on and played 17 shows until every ticket holder had seen them 
 live. Filled with such details, 
the book erases any cynicism about the Clash’s motivations, back then or now.

Hand-drawn fliers, press clips and photos amplify the interviews, most of which were conducted in 2000 (two years before Strummer’s death at age 50) for the Grammy-winning documentary Westway to the World. The book reveals fresh anecdotes that aren’t in the film, and affords a fuller recounting of others, such as Strummer’s ham-fisted attempt at rioting during London’s 1976 Notting Hill Carnival: “We were standing around this car with a box of Swan Vesta [matches] and it’s one thing to say, ‘Burn the cars and burn the ghetto,’ but you try setting a car alight.”

The ultimate rebels, the Clash even defied their own musical genre, breaking from its prescriptive three chords and careering into reggae, rap and rockabilly. Just like this big, pink, glossy, coffee-table book, they proved to be about much more than punk.


1. Patsy Cline, 1963.
Patsy may have had a premonition that she was going to die – according to June Carter Cash and Loretta Lynn, Patsy told them that something didn’t feel right and she didn’t think she was going to be around much longer. That was in 1962, and in 1963, the plane taking her from Kansas City to Nashville crashed just about 90 miles away from its destination.


2. Ricky Nelson, 1985.
There are lots of things you might know Ricky from – The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, his teen idol days or as the dad of Gunnar and Matthew. He was also married to Mark Harmon’s older sister, Kristin. By the late ‘70s, though, he was in a lot of debt and his wife left him and took the kids. He started touring almost constantly to try to dig his way out of his financial hole. It was a 1985 nostalgia rock tour of the South that would be his undoing – after playing a show in Guntersville, Alabama, he and his band were headed to Dallas to play a New Year’s Eve show. It crashed northeast of Dallas, killing all seven passengers (the pilots survived). Investigation later showed that a fire had broken out in the cabin and the pilots attempted an emergency landing.


3. Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, 1977.
The band was flying from Greenville, S.C., to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge; the plane went down about five miles outside of Gillsburg, Mississippi. There is a lot of speculation as to why the plane actually crashed, but the official accident report says that it was a combination of fuel exhaustion, engine malfunction and inadequate flight planning.


 4. Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays, 1967.
Redding and his band were headed from Cleveland to Madison, Wisconsin, on December 9. They were almost there when the plane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison. The lone survivor of the crash, Bar-Kay member Ben Cauley, says there were at least some survivors even after the crash – he heard some of his fellow passengers calling for help, but help didn’t arrive fast enough and the frigid waters claimed them.


5. Randy Rhodes, 1982.
Rhodes toured with Ozzy Osbourne after he went solo; you can hear his guitar work on Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley (among others). Anyway, he, Ozzy and other members of the band were on their way to Orlando, but they stopped in Leesburg, where they picked up one of the tour bus driver’s planes. The driver took some band members for rides, and was flying Rhodes and seamstress Rachel Youngblood around when the accident occurred. Aycock “buzzed” the top of the tour bus carrying the rest of the band members a couple of times, but the third time he did it, a wing of the plane clipped the bus and sent the plane spiraling. All three of the people on the plane were killed instantly, and were burned so badly that only dental records could identify them. It was later revealed that the pilot/tour bus driver had cocaine in his system at the time.


6. Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990.
Stevie was touring with Double Trouble and Joe Cocker in the “In Step” tour; the tour manager had rented a helicopter for members of the tour to get from Elk Horn, Wisconsin to Chicago. Despite a little bit of fog, three of the four helicopters departed without a hitch, but the pilot of Stevie Ray’s helicopter failed to reach the altitude necessary to clear the hill at the takeoff site and crashed into it. Everyone died. Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray’s brother, Jimmie, were called to identify his body.


7. Jim Croce, 1973.
After finishing up a concert in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Croce was flying to Sherman, Texas for his next gig. It was a clear evening and visibility was excellent, but for some reason the pilot didn’t get the plane high enough in the air to clear a pecan tree at the end of the runway. Reports speculate that the pilot, who had a history of heart problems, may have had a heart attack. Everyone on board died, including Croce’s good friend and musical partner Maury Muehleisen.


8.Buddy Holly

Holly was offered a spot in the Winter Dance Party by the GAC agency, a three-week tour across the Midwest opening on January 23, 1959, with other notable performers such as Dion and the Belmonts, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. He assembled a backing band consisting of Tommy Allsup (guitar), Waylon Jennings (bass) and Carl Bunch (drums) and billed as The Crickets.

The tour turned out to be a miserable ordeal for the performers, who were subjected to long overnight travel in a bus plagued with a faulty heating system in −25 °F (−32 °C) temperatures. The bus also broke down several times between stops. Following a performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, 1959, Holly chartered a small airplane to take him to the next stop on the tour. He, Valens, Richardson and the pilot were killed en route to Moorhead, Minnesota, when their plane crashed soon after taking off from nearby Mason City in the early morning hours of February 3. Bandmate Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the plane, causing Holly to jokingly tell Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!” Jennings shot back facetiously, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for decades.


Waylon Jennings & Buddy Holly


9. Ritchie Valens
After the February 2, 1959, performance in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly, Richardson, and Valens flew out of the Mason City airport in a small plane that Holly had chartered. The plane, a four-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza, departed for Fargo, North Dakota, into a blinding snowstorm and crashed shortly after takeoff. The crash killed all three passengers and the pilot; at 17, Valens was the youngest to die on the flight. The event inspired singer Don McLean’s popular 1971 ballad “American Pie”, and immortalized February 3 as “The Day the Music Died”.


10.The Big Bopper
With the success of “Chantilly Lace”, Richardson took time off from KTRM radio and joined Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Dion and the Belmonts for a “Winter Dance Party” tour. On the eleventh night of the tour, Holly chartered an airplane to fly them to the next show in Moorhead, Minnesota. The musicians had been traveling by bus for over a week and it had already broken down once. They were tired, they hadn’t been paid yet and all of their clothes were dirty. With the airplane, Holly could arrive early, do everyone’s laundry and catch up on some rest.

A 21-year old pilot named Roger Peterson had agreed to take the singers to Fargo, North Dakota, where the airport serves the twin cities of Moorhead and Fargo. A snowstorm was on its way and the young pilot was fatigued from a 17-hour workday, but he agreed to fly the trip. The musicians packed up their instruments and finalized the flight arrangements. Buddy Holly’s bass player, Waylon Jennings, was scheduled to fly on the plane but gave his seat up to the Big Bopper, who was suffering from the flu. Holly’s guitarist, Tommy Allsup, agreed to flip a coin with Richie Valens for the remaining seat. Valens won. The three musicians boarded the red and white single-engine Beech Bonanza around 12:30 at night on Feb. 3. The musicians waved and then climbed onto the plane. Snow blew across the runway but the sky was clear. Peterson received clearance from the control tower, taxied down the runway and took off. He was never told of two different weather advisories that warned of an oncoming blizzard ahead.

The plane stayed in the sky for only a few minutes; no one is quite sure what went wrong. The best guess is that Peterson flew directly into the blizzard, lost visual reference and accidentally flew down instead of up. The four-passenger plane plowed into a nearby cornfield at over 170 mph, flipping over on itself and tossing the passengers into the air. Their bodies landed yards away from the wreckage and stayed there for ten hours as snowdrifts formed around them. Because of the weather, nobody could reach the crash site until later in the morning

A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll” or simply “the King”.