Chick Corea

We’ve lost another giant. Chick Corea passed away a couple of days ago. Cancer. Again.

That’s Chelsea, MA native Chick Corea to be clear.

I’ve always been ashamed of myself for never being enough of a jazz guy. I played sax and went to music school for crying out loud, I should have been more of a jazz guy. I guess rock and roll and blues were just too much fun for me to pull my attention away for too long.

I did have a thing for Fusion though. It’s hard to be a Prog Rock fan and not at least dip your toes into the Fusion world. As a guitar player, my connection to Chick Corea came via Al Di Meola. Al was a teenager when he joined Chick’s Fusion band, Return to Forever, and the handful of records they made together were spectacular. Chick played on some early Di Meola solo records too.

Ironically (maybe?) the first thing I think of when I think of Chick Corea is the title track from Return To Forever’s Romantic Warrior. Ironically because Fusion is meant to be an electric genre, but that song is acoustic and it is brilliant beyond measure.

I am honoring this legend’s memory right now by giving the Romantic Warrior album a spin. I suggest you do the same. If you like your music played at a level of virtuosity that makes mortal humans’ heads explode then this is the record for you. Chick’s playing on that record is the kind of thing where you can imagine The God of Keyboard Players listening to it and thinking, damn that guy is awesome.

Rest in Peace, Chick Corea. The music world has lost another hero, but we still have all of the music to listen back to when we want to remember just how good we had it when you were around.

Rest in Peace

We lost an old friend today. Someone from the old neighborhood that we knew since we were very little. She knitted our Christmas stockings for us. Growing up my whole family had one. Then when my sister and brother and I started having families of our own she made more.

Rest in peace.

Tom Terrific

Of all of the unbelievably talented pitchers who came through in the 60’s and 70’s, Tom Seaver may not have been the best… though he very well may have been the best… but he was my favorite.

Tom Seaver died yesterday. His stay with the Red Sox was very short, but not so short that I don’t have a second hand story. I’ve probably shared this before but, here it goes again…

It’s not actually my story, it’s my brother’s story and I’m just a tiny part of it.

During the 1986 season, Tewksbury Little League had a fund raiser where they sold tickets to a Red Sox game. It was a promotion the Sox made available, but our town broke the system. We sold so many tickets that the Red Sox changed the format and made a lot fewer tickets available in future seasons. For that season though, Tewksbury baseball sold a shit load of tickets, and my little brother sold more than anyone.

The prize for the kid who sold the most tickets was an opportunity to sit in the Red Sox dugout before a game, and if that isn’t the greatest fund raiser prize ever dreamed of then it should be because oh my god that was an awesome prize. John won. If I remember correctly, he won by far. No one was close. It’s been 34 years and my memory could be totally wrong, but I think John won by a mile.

The day came, and Fenway Park was overflowing with Tewksbury people. Before the game, during warm ups, John was given a seat in the dugout, and my little nine year old brother was as happy as a pig in shit. He got autographs from everyone. He actually spent a few minutes hanging out with Johnny Pesky. Can you believe it?

Before the game I had given John my 1986 Topps Tom Seaver baseball card. Tom was wearing a White Sox uniform on the card, but it was the current season’s card. I asked John that if he saw Tom Seaver, could he ask him to sign the card?

Did Tom Seaver sign the card? Well, you bet your sweet asses he did! That’s not the biggest take away from this story though. While John was in the dugout… Tom Seaver… Tom Terrific… the greatest player in New York Mets history… the guy who was likely, unofficially, brought to Boston in order to teach Roger Clemens how to be the best pitcher in the game… Spit on My Brother.

OH… MY… GOD!!! Tom Seaver spit on my brother!

It was TOTALLY AN ACCIDENT, of course. Tom had the reputation of being a total gentleman, and he was. He was chewing tobacco, or something similar, and he spit out some juice and my brother was accidentally in the line of spit-fire and he got hit by a little of it. Tom apologized and I think helped him wipe it up.

Tom Seaver… 300 career wins (311)… 3,000 career strikeouts (3,640)… a career ERA under 3.00 (2.86). Also, let’s not forget that he was the driving force of the Miracle Mets in 1969. That might be the biggest achievement of them all.

Rest in Peace, Tom Seaver. Still my favorite pitcher.

Note: I added a link to the site I stole the picture from, but I haven’t read that article. I did read this article and it’s perfect.

Martin Birch

Martin Birch has passed away at the age of 71. Click the picture for a story (and also because it’s where I stole the image from).

You may not know who Martin Birch was, but I guarantee that if you listened to a radio at any point from 1970 onward, you have heard his work.

He was an audio engineer and a record producer. He first became well known for producing Deep Purple. Go listen to the Made in Japan album. That is probably the best sounding live album in the history of the universe and he was the engineer. He made that band sound incredible.

He was able to turn Deep Purple into an entire career. I wrote a paper on this once when I was in school. Remember those rock and roll family tree things that were popular for a while? Where it lists the names of all of the members of one band and then traces them all through every band they ever played in? Deep Purple spawned more bands than you could even believe, and every single one of them had 500 (approximate) members. Purple begat Gillan, Rainbow, Whiteshake, 100 bands that Glen Hughes played in, a couple of other things that Jon Lord and Ian Paice played for, and all of those bands had revolving door lineups and all of those people played in 100 bands each. It gets so ridiculous that eventually the Deep Purple family tree absorbs the Black Sabbath family tree. Don Airy played for Rainbow and Purple (and Whitesnake too? Maybe? Probably not) and he also played for Ozzy. Two Deep Purple members were, at different times, lead vocalists for Sabbath, and one Rainbow singer was as well (Ian Gillan, Glen Hughes, and Ronnie Dio, respectively).

This is important because Martin Birch produced pretty much all of them. All of the major ones at least. Rainbow, Whitesnake, Sabbath (during Dio’s tenure), and on and on. The guy was everywhere, and if the entire Deep Purple family tree isn’t enough famous business for you, he also produced Iron Maiden from 1982 (or was it 1981?) through 1992. Basically, all of that ground breaking music was filtered through his ears. The man is a legend and there will never be another like him.

For my money, if Made in Japan was the only record he ever worked on, he would still be a legend. Instead we have about a billion other brilliant sounding albums with his name on them.

Rest in Peace, Martin Birch.

Prince

I’m working from home today. It’s gorgeous outside. I have all the windows open and a perfect breeze is blowing through the house. A little after 1:00pm I punched out for lunch and took a shower. When I got back to my computer Prince was dead.

I was never a Prince fan. You couldn’t help but respect the enormous talent, but his music just wasn’t for me. Trying to look at it objectively, I wonder how much of my lack of interest was actually jealousy? Probably a lot. Great singer, obviously a great songwriter, even if his songs aren’t my bag, and just an absolutely sick guitar player. I think that’s where the jealousy comes from.

In his memory though I feel the need to share some of his music. Here is Richard Thompson covering “Kiss”. It is pretty much the best thing ever.

Suicide?

TMZ is reporting that Keith Emerson’s death is being investigated as a suicide. Damn it!

They reported that he had a degenerative nerve issue that was taking away his ability to play the keyboard and as a result he’d been suffering from depression. They also say his death was caused by a gun shot to the head.

There isn’t a lot to the story, but you can read it here.

If this is true then it makes the whole thing 100000 times worse. Couldn’t he have died in his sleep, surrounded by close friends and family the way he deserved? Damn it!

Keith Emerson

Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame (also of The Nice) died last night. Last I heard we don’t know what happened, but the world has lost yet another gigantic talent.

When it came to keyboard players, for me it was a toss up between Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, with Tony Banks and probably Jon Lord coming in a close second. His skill level as a performer (show off), arranger, composer, and overall musician can never, ever be overstated. Rest in Peace Keith Emerson.

Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce has died at the age of 71. Cream’s bass player was so much more than just Cream’s bass player. This genuinely sucks.

This isn’t important in any way, but it’s nice to have:

This should be the complete Farewell Concert film.

RIP Ritchie Havens

Ritchie Havens was the first artist to take the stage at Woodstock.  Can you imagine the pressure?  Sadly, he joins the growing list of insanely wonderful musicians to have passed away in 2013.  What a voice that man had.  Rest in peace Ritchie Havens.

Here’s a clip of his Woodstock performance.  If this doesn’t make your head explode then you aren’t really alive.

Here’s one that I’ve always loved.  It’s sort of a match made in…  I don’t know.  How the hell did this happen?  Ritchie Havens appears on two cuts on Steve Hackett’s first post-Genesis album.  A prog rock guitar player brings in a folk singer.  It should probably mix like oil and water, but I’ve always loved this one.