Christmas time is here again! So sang the Beatles on their 1967 Christmas record, one of several now-collectable flexi-discs issued annually to members of the band's official fan clubs in the UK and the US. The records, which often were mini-masterpieces in their own right (1966 and 1967 in particular), featured spoken and musical messages from all four members of the band.
Outside of Saturday Night Live, no other current TV show can boast as many impressive musical guests as The Simpsons. And The Simpsons has the edge because its many musical appearances are actually meant to be funny. Scores of rock icons—including three Beatles, two Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica—have appeared on the show as eight-fingered, yellow-tinted versions of themselves.
From a guitarist's perspective, the 1970 Woodstock film, which documents the highs and lows of the August 1969 Woodstock Festival, has several highlights. There's Jimi Hendrix's immortal take on "The Star-Spangled Banner"; a lengthy, mind-blowing performance by newcomers Santana; and Pete Townshend's high-flying Gibson SG acrobatics with The Who, to name just a few.
If you ask some people in these parts, 2014 wasn't a great year for music. I disagree. I think it kicks 2013's ass. Mind you, my tastes have veered way over into the roots-rock, rockabilly, non-horrible-country arena. Luckily, Sturgill Simpson, Whitey Morgan and Reverend Horton Heat provided me with plenty to listen to.
Sure, we could've packed this list with songs with mind-blowing B-bender solos by Diamond Rio's Jimmy Olander, the Hellecasters' Will Ray or the Byrds' Clarence White. Instead, we've gone for a more well-rounded approach, attempting to include as many different guitarists as possible, not to mention a few super-accessible (even "classic") songs. We might've even thrown in an 11th song. Our math isn't too good.
Just as an overworked Lennon and McCartney came up with an overnight masterpiece in 1964 with "A Hard Day's Night" amid a stressful filming and recording schedule, the Beatles responded to time constraints in 1965 with another monumental step forward called Rubber Soul.
"I remember hearing 'Hey Jude' by Wilson Pickett and calling either Ahmet Ertegun or Tom Dowd and saying, 'Who's that guitar player?'" says Eric Clapton in the top video below. It turns out the guitar player was a 22-year-old Duane Allman, aka "Skydog."
Over the decades, John Lennon's songs have been covered by thousands of artists. Just think of all the people — from unknown Lithuanian bar bands to Lada Gaga — who have had a crack at "Imagine." Today, on the 74th anniversary of his birth on October 9, 1940, I'm paying tribute to Lennon by rounding up five of what I feel are the best performances of his solo songs by other artists.
An incredible piece of blues—and music—history surfaced online over the weekend (October 4, 2014). Below, check out a rare video of Stevie Ray Vaughan performing "The Sky Is Crying" at an Austin, Texas, club circa 1980—before Montreux, before "Let's Dance," before his cowboy hats—before anyone in New Jersey or Ohio or Rome had any idea who he was. It's so early, in fact, that he's still called "Stevie Vaughan" at this point.
Although I "discovered" Roy Buchanan when I was a blues-loving kid in the mid-'80s, the guitarist's first brush with something resembling fame came in 1971, when a documentary, The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World, aired on public TV. The documentary was about Buchanan, a blues-rock virtuoso whose gritty, distinctive technique inspired scores of guitarists, including Jeff Beck.