Rest in Peace Alan White

A couple of days ago, Yes announced that Alan White would not be joining them on their upcoming tour. They’ve been bringing an understudy drummer out with them for a while now, but this time Alan was going to stay home.

Today they announced that he has passed away. He was 72 years old.

He has been the drummer for Yes since joining in 1972, just a few days before the start of a US tour to support Close to the Edge. Bill Bruford left to join King Crimson at the last minute and White was his replacement. There were stories of Chris Squire threatening to throw him out of a hotel room window if he didn’t accept the offer, but those probably were just jokes. Probably.

The band he was joining played some of the most complicated and difficult music in the business at that time and he only had three (I think) days to learn the set. He pulled it off because he was an absolute kick ass professional, as well as being good enough to handle it all. There were tales of Jon Anderson turning around and more or less conducting him through some of the show, but regardless, White’s accomplishment was beyond legendary.

I only saw him once, back in 1991. It was in that weird time when there were effectively two versions of Yes. Alan White was in the Los Angeles based arena rock band (Yes West). I was much more into the London based proggie rock band (Yes East), but at that time someone waved enough money at them to get them all to tour as one band. I saw them at the Worcester Centrum. They played in The Round with a revolving stage in the middle of the arena. It was one of the most amazing performances I’ve ever seen any band give. I swear that night’s rendition of Awaken is still reverberating around the rafters to this day. It was stunning.

I should also mention that prior to Yes he was in another notable band. A little combo called The Plastic Ono Band. That’s right, he was John Effin’ Lennon’s drummer. He played on a bunch of things include Imagine. He also played on George Harrison’s first record, specifically My Sweet Lord.

Rest in Peace, Alan White.

It’s Bloody Cold Out!

I did it. I got up early and showered and got dressed and was all ready to grab my lappytop and jump into the car and do some effin’ car music!

“Hey Siri, how’s the weather?” he asked.

“The current temperature is seven degrees. The high today will be 19 degrees and the low will be seven degrees,” Siri replied.

Well screw that! It’s bloody cold out there! I wonder how the forecast for tomorrow morning is looking. I just looked… it’s pretty much the same as today. Crap.

On a not quite related note, the RPM Challenge website used to have a blog section and a forum and it was all replaced by a Discord channel. Discord makes me feel old. You know the stereotype about the old people who are unable or unwilling to embrace new technology? It’s not that I don’t get it, it’s just that I don’t want to. I used to use those ICR boards back in the stone age, and I used the AOL chatrooms before that. Discord feels exactly like them. So it’s not a matter of failing to embrace a new technology, it’s more a matter of not having any interest in re-embracing an ancient one. I guess. I’m trying though.

On a totally unrelated note, Rest in Peace Meat Loaf. My sister had Bat Out of Hell when it was actually current, if you can imagine a world that far in the past. I would occasionally take it for a spin when she wasn’t around.

Bob Saget

The entertainment world is just dropping like flies. We lost Bob Saget tonight. We were just watching clips of his stand up a couple of days ago.

I thought Full House was awful. America’s Funniest Home Videos was okay for a season or so and then it was unwatchable. I associated Bob Saget to both of those things and completely wrote him off.

Then I saw him doing stand up. I don’t remember where, did he do something for HBO? It was raunchy and filthy and hysterical. It was as far from Full House as you could get.

Then I saw The Aristocrats. Suddenly the man was a legend. A disgusting, foul legend.

Rest In Peace, Bob Saget.

ADDENDUM: My otherwise touching tribute to the memory of a great comedian, spoiled by the fact that I typo’d his name in the title of the post. Well, just fuck me. Sorry about that.

Charlie Watts

I just read a statement from The Rolling Stones confirming Charlie Watts passed away.

While I have never been a Stones fan, credit must always be given where due. Rest In Peace, sir.

The best Charlie Watts story is a pretty well known one. The stones were in a hotel late at night and Charlie had turned in when Mick Jagger, for whatever reason, started calling him and yelling at him saying something along the lines of where is my drummer.

Charlie got up, dressed in a suit, went to wherever Jagger was calling from and punched him square in the face saying, I’m not your drummer. You’re my singer. Every piece of that story is gold but for me it’s him putting on a suit that makes it priceless.

Dusty Hill

Dusty Hill, the bass player from ZZ Top died. I cannot say that I was ever a ZZ Top fan, but I can say that I have been thinking about them a bit lately.

ZZ Top to me was the awful cartoonish characters from the ’80s. The beards, the terrible videos, the over produced synthed up crappy songs. I had no interest at all. The small number of earlier song that I knew were okay. Tush (which Lizardfish was playing when I joined), and Cheap Sunglasses were good songs. There were a couple of others that I liked too. They were really just a blues band, which might be why I was so put off in the 80s, but I think maybe they were a little too Texas and not enough Chicago for me. I never really thought of it that way before, but that might be exactly it.

Over the last few months I have been wondering to myself if I should go and give their first few records a try. The main reason being my recent obsession with cool guitar gear. That’s kind of embarrassing to say out loud, but there it is. ZZ Top’s guitar player, Billy Gibbons, is a Les Paul guy. He’s known for playing a 1959 Standard that he named Pearly Gates (apparently after the car he was driving when he went to pick it up? Is that true?). Seymour Duncan sells a set of pick ups called Pearly Gates that are supposed to be cloned from the PAFs in Gibbons’ Les Paul. Hearing other people talk about his guitar and the gear based on his guitar, and knowing that they weren’t absurd comic characters in the 70’s, and also knowing that the band existed for over 50 years without ever having a line up change (which is pretty amazing), has been making me think that their first 2-3 records might be worth a listen.

And then yesterday it was announced that Dusty Hill died. I gave Cheap Sunglasses a spin in the car on the way to work today in his memory. There was a quote from Billy Gibbons saying that Hill wanted the band to continue without him and they will honor that request. So I guess they will finally have that line up change after all. Maybe I’ll give Tres Hombres a spin today too. Maybe it’s worth it for this Chicago (albeit via London) blues fan to dip his toe into some Texas for a bit.

Rest in Peace, Dusty Hill. Someday when my band gets back together I’ll see if they want to play Cheap Sunglasses.

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.