A Momentous Encounter Leads to The Formation of Monumental Hard Rock Band
History of Deep Purple: Ritchie Blackmore Meets Jon Lord
by Jim Esposito
“I don’t call that progressive. I just call it heavily rehearsed.”
– Ritchie Blackmore
Circa 1967 an undiscovered British guitarist named Ritchie Blackmore was living in Hamburg, Germany, when a drummer who liked his playing phoned him. He was getting a band together.
“I’ve got a guy on organ here, and various other people. I want you to be the guitar player.”
Ritchie knew this drummer was a bit mad, but he hopped a flight to England, headed for the guy’s flat in Kensington, which at the time was the real hippie-type section of London.
The drummer never locked his door. Open day and night, anyone who wanted to come in would come in. Consequently it had become a crash pad for the dregs of the world. People were high on everything, including canary seeds. Others were shooting up.
Arriving, Ritchie knocked on the door. No answer. So Ritchie tried to open it. The door fell off its hinges, crashes to the floor. BLAM!
Looking through the doorway, to Ritchie’s surprise the flat didn’t...
Louie Louie by The Kingsmen Tops The FCC's 10 Most Wanted
by Jim Esposito
The first real sex record happened in 1964 when The Kingsmen recorded “Louie Louie” on Wand Records.
There is still controversy surrounding this song.
Florence Greenberg, president of Scepter Records, which owned Wand, bought the master of “Louie Louie” from a bunch of kids from Seattle. “Louie Louie” is an old Cajun folksong about the shrimp boats. A sailor goes out to sea and thinks about his girl, who is waiting for him in Jamaica. Of course, you’d never know this unless you saw the lyric sheet because the vocals in the song were so mumbled, garbled and slurred you really couldn’t tell for sure just how the words went.
As the legend goes the secret of “Louie Louie” was discovered accidentally by some college kids in Michigan who put the record on a turntable. When played slow, “Louie Louie” seemed to contain direct sexual references and dirty four letter words.
In 24 hours, almost every kid in the country seemed to know. Kids were locking themselves in their bedrooms, playing the 45 at 33 rpm’s. It was all anybody seemed to talk about in school. And kids who knew what the words meant were suddenly just a little cooler. You couldn’t go to a dance where it wasn’t played four or five times. And all the bands always knew the dirty version, which they’d sing, loudly, while all the kids snickered because your parents never paid any attention to that “noise” anyway.
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the Federal Communications Commission started getting complaints about “Louie Louie” with copies of what were supposedly the lyrics. The FCC had not drawn up any policies or guidelines that would apply to the case at the time, but they took one look at these alleged lyrics and decided they had to hear it for themselves. So the FCC ran out and bought a copy of “Louie Louie.”
William B. Ray, Chief of Complaints and Compliance Division in the Broadcast Bureau of the FCC called “Louia Louie” The Commission’s “most famous case.”
My (G- G- G-) Generation was fortunate to grow up through the Era of The Record Album. Rock was everything to us. We busted out of school, got away from those fools, learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school. So says The Boss, and it was true. It was our Shangri-La where we sought refuge, our Forum where we debated philosophy, extolled politics, learned about love. And it was our church, where we rejoiced in blessings the (Rock) Gods bestowed upon us.
Our lives are landmarked by a succession of immortal musical documents, three-dimensional poetry. We remember where we were, what we were doing, who we were doing it with when we heard...
Top 10 Greatest Guitar Riffs in Classic Rock History
by Jim Esposito
Saw an article on the Internet which claimed to cite the Top 10 Greatest Riffs in Classic Rock History. It was way, way off. Figured we’d publish the official list, compiled by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.
It is important to note when we say “The Greatest” we mean The Best – not the most popular, riffs in the biggest songs. Riffs from Number Seven to Number One are pretty much nailed into place. You might argue some of these should be moved up or down a spot or two, but frankly we don’t see how you can possibly say any other riffs should be ranked higher.
A great guitar solo is a thing of beauty, a composition. Many guitarists jump into a break with loud, flashy scales played at a warp speed. Those guys are just filling space, showing off to get girls, not constructing a lyrically cohesive piece of music. Some players, however, have a way of composing while they improvise.
Whatever I list some people will agree, some will disagree. Others may be irate I left their hero, or the song that changed their life off my list. (“I was all messed up. Then I heard so-and-so playing such-and-such…”) There will be great guitar players who don’t appear on my list. This is not to denigrate their virtuosity. Some guitarists boast an incredible body of work, however you can’t point to one solo in one song that simply crystallizes their brilliance. Other guys are technical virtuosos, but don’t have the mentality to construct a fluid solo.
I realize songs and artists I list go back to the Golden Days of Classic Rock. Some may cite newer music. From the 80s or 90s perhaps. Artists and songs I list here are the originals. Eddie Van Halen did great work, but without Jimmy Page preceding he might’ve been flipping burgers. Popa Chubby, Jimmy Thackery and Joe Bonamassa have likewise play excellent guitar, but stood on the shoulders of Eric Clapton and Ritchie Blackmore.
Also, I differentiate here between a Solo and an Instrumental. A Solo is a dedicated interlude in a song. “Pipeline,” “Hideaway” or “Samba Pa Ti” are...
There are hundreds of excellent blues albums out there. They feature one or two great songs, two or three good tracks, a couple others you can listen to, one or two you don’t especially wanna sit through – but you do because you really like those two great songs.
In this article we’re not talking about the most significant, the most influential. We’re talking about the best. The most listenable. Robert Johnson was perhaps the single most influential person on Rock and Blues music in the last century. That doesn’t mean I play his records. It’s like archeology.
The Blues are elemental. Growing out of cotton fields down South, the genus was confined at first to the (quote, unquote) “Negro population.” Founding Blues pioneers like Charley Patton, Son House and Robert Johnson playing “The Devil’s Music” in weekend Juke Joints around plantations in the Mississippi Delta inspired the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James, who eked out a meager living in relative obscurity while white kids did the Mashed Potato at Sock Hops in High School Gyms to Ricky Nelson and The Four Freshmen.
A different story in England where a whole generation of budding guitar virtuosos freaked over American Blues. A big component of the fabled British Invasion was...