The Battle At Garden’s Gate is the second studio album from a band which had been on their first world tour when Covid-19 struck.
Instead of complaining about the abrupt halt to their goals they spent time reflecting on what had happened to them and to their world.
Josh Kiszka; Jake Kiszka; Sam Kiszka; Danny Wagner wrote new songs they recorded in Nashville. The result is a much more complex set of tunes in which these young musicians did something quite amazing. They found their sound. Perhaps not a signature yet but still an audible gust that sets them apart from their peers.
Tracks like My Way Soon and Heat Above revel in the freedom of making music and being able to hit the road where you can make your own rules. It’s not for nothing the band’s earlier hit was called Highway Tune.
Age of Machine displays a new side to this group. A progressive component that lifts Josh’s vocals to new heights. I think his vocals have set them apart as genuine stars in the making.
His brothers Sam and Jake form a guitar sound that is all their own. You hear a chord progression that is Greta Van Fleet’s unique stamp. A mix of progressive rock with melody rooted in 1960’s psychedelia. Not a simple feat.
Producer Greg Kurstin (Foo Fighters) has brought out something deep in their arsenal of heavy melodic soft but hard edged rock that was there on the debut Anthem of the Peaceful Army but now is on the March with opuses like Broken Bells and Built By Nations.
This album is highly recommended. With the pandemic starting to lift let’s hope we can see these guys back on the road soon.
Mikael Söderlindh and Viktor Tell had a vision: to spread happiness by turning an everyday essential into a colorful design piece.
In 2008, socks were just socks. White, gray and black pieces of textile that were nowhere close to the fashionable and creative design piece they could become. But that was all about to change.
HELLO, HAPPY SOCKS
Happy Socks, a high-quality sock that combines unique designs and craftsmanship. (Probably) The world’s most comfortable and colorful tool for spreading happiness was born. This concept is now brought to life by Happy Socks’ talented team of creatives.
90 COUNTRIES around the world sell Happy Socks!
The perfect way to add just the right dash of color to any wardrobe with premium comfort.
In recent years the company has collaborated with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Queen. Now they are presenting David Bowie inspired designs!
I bought my first Iron Maiden record in 1982. “The Number of the Beast” garnered great reviews from the heavy metal community.
Here in America it also received threats from church officials as being an agent of satanism. Heavy metal music does a lot of satanic material. It just fits the genre so well. This kind of music is a tonic for many fans. I love complex guitar based music. Soaring vocals are a huge component as well.
Circus magazine wrote a response to the controversy. The article explained Iron Maiden are not devil worshippers, just devil-may-care.
I was a fan for life after that era. Their mascot Eddie, a re-animated ghoul, appears on every album cover. Created by Derek Riggs, he assumes different types and styles that fit each album’s themes and concepts.
From their eponymous debut in album to their first double studio album in 2015, the band’s music has evolved from traditional metal to a more progressive groove.
Their line-up changed several times. Original vocalist Paul DiAnno quit due to substance abuse. His replacement was Samson singer Bruce Dickinson who turned out to be their ticket to global stardom.
For two albums, Bruce was replaced by Blayze Bayley. Their 10th and 11th albums were as good as anything they had done before but fans did not like this change.
In the year 2000 the band made a huge comeback with Bruce’s return. Guitarist Adrian Smith also came back. This current line-up of the group proved to be their best.
Since the year 2000 Iron Maiden are Bruce Dickinson (Vocals), Steve Harris (Bass), Adrian Smith (Guitar), Dave Murray (Guitar), Janick Jers (Guitar), Nicko McBrain (Drums).
The past 20 years of a nearly 50 year career have produced critically acclaimed records like “Brave New World”, “A Matter of Life and Death”, “The Final Frontier”, and “The Book of Souls”.
This followed their now classic albums of the 1980’s: “Killers”, “The Number of the Beast”, “Piece of Mind”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere in Time”, and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son “.
A documentary film, “Flight 666”, follows Maiden on a record setting world tour in which lead singer Bruce Dickinson piloted the band’s plane called Ed Force One.
Around the world Maiden’s fan base grew not only larger but younger too. In my opinion Iron Maiden have the best fans.
In the past four decades you will have seen people wearing Iron Maiden shirts or patches or bracelets or hats.
In 1982, Eddie was a demon spawn. Then in 1983 he was condemned to the rubber room. In 1984 he was an entombed pharaoh. In 1986 he became a cyborg. In 1988 he became the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
Now in their fifth decade, Iron Maiden are nominated to the Rock Hall of Fame.
Not seeking this award, the band will continue to empower their massive audience that spans the globe with their upcoming seventeenth studio album.
Bassist Steve Harris founded the group on Christmas day 1975! He said at the end of each decade that Maiden had another ten albums in them. And their sixteen studio records all have songs that became big concert classics.
This is a snapshot song list of my favorites from the band’s ongoing career:
Murders In The Rue Morgue
Phantom of the Opera
Die With Your Boots On
The Number Of The Beast
Run To The Hills
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Flight Of Icarus
Where Eagles Dare
To Tame A Land (inspired by Dune)
Sun And Steel
Two Minutes To Midnight
Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
Sea Of Madness
Somewhere In Time
Stranger In A Strange Land
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
The Evil That Men Do
No Prayer For The Dying
Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter*
Public Enema Number One
Be Quick Or Be Dead
From Here To Eternity
Afraid To Shoot Strangers
Judas Be My Guide
Fear Of The Dark
Sign Of The Cross
Lord Of The Flies
Man On The Edge
Judgement Of Heaven
The Angel And The Gambler
The Educated Fool
Dance of Death
The Wicker Man
Brave New World
Out Of The Silent Planet
Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
Lord Of Light
Satellite 15…The Final Frontier
Isle Of Avalon
The Man Who Would Be King
When The Wild Wind Blows
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed Of Light
The Book Of Souls
Death Or Glory
Tears Of A Clown
Empire Of The Clouds
*The only single to reach #1 on the chart.
Up the Irons!
The list of songs above reflects how well Iron Maiden have covered their horror, science fiction, fantasy, and historical literary interests.
Their songwriting is done now by each band member. Steve Harris is their lead songwriter who composed epic songs lasting a minimum of six minutes on every record. Frontman Bruce Dickinson wrote the longest track in their history so far. “Empire Of The Clouds” runs 18 minutes!
Arguably the most epic of bands, I hope Maiden get elected to the rock hall of fame this year. They deserve this honor.
Dearest readers I leave you with a few of my favorite versions of mascot Eddie:
Here is a book 40 years in the making. The Dino De Laurentiis production of “Flash Gordon” was released on December 8, 1980 in North America. It’s first weekend at the box office was on par with then recent blockbuster “The Empire Strikes Back” which was the first sequel in the Star Wars saga.
The Alex Raymond comic strip was a different cinematic animal. Flash Gordon’s universe had existed since the 1930’s. The makers of this film decided the project would be an update of the look and nature of a 1930’s comic hero into one that fit 1980. An approach that allowed shades of camp and fun to weave the fabric the production would build itself upon.
What makes this book special is that the love audiences have for it has increased over the decades. Among cult films this one stands pretty tall. For me this is my Rocky Horror or Escape From New York.
Bob Lindenmayer is a private collector of Flash Gordon props and memorabilia. His collection is considered the largest in the world. He contributed images of every prop weapon used in filming. The secrets of how to achieve on screen dimensions from the flat but colorful pages of illustrations is truly amazing to see unfold here.
Because Flash Gordon is a product of both English and Italian production teams the book delves into the process of casting, costuming, set design, storyboarding, construction, scoring, writing, editing, and directing such a challenging work.
You will learn a lot of names associated with the film who made crucial contributions to why it has endured for 40 years in the hearts of millions of film lovers around the world.
Lawrence Noble is the American sculptor who created the Flash Gordon logo that adorned Richard Amsel’s theatrical poster and the cover of Queen’s soundtrack album. We discover other notable work he did for film including the poster for “Time After Time”, a time travel fantasy about H.G. Wells attempt to capture Jack The Ripper. He also created the 10th Anniversary release poster for “The Empire Strikes Back”.
The memorable opening titles of the film set the mood, tone, and style for what was to come. Richard and Bob Greenberg created the animation for this sequence and the dazzling energy curtain that drapes Mingo City at the film’s climax. R/Greenberg associates based in New York had provided such animation mainly to commercials. The Flash Gordon team loved their work so much they were asked to work on Flash.
Filled with elements that were never used in the film you can enjoy the struggle of making such an epic scale film as a fan of the work. This book makes it possible. You get a close look at everything that went wrong as well as the fast pace of production. Time is money. Sets were built that went unused. There is a great section showing storyboarded scenes that were too costly to shoot.
Frank Van der Veer had worked on the DeLaurentiis production of “King Kong” so he was quite experienced as a special effects master. For Flash Gordon Van der Veer and his team had nine months to create 600 composite social effects shots ahead of their Christmas release date!
The book has many wonderful moments to share. The last one I will detail here involves the choice of Queen to score the film. Originally, Pink Floyd were chosen by Dino De Laurentiis. On the day Queen visited the set the music playing was Pink Floyd.
After seeing rough dailies of the film each member of the group decided what they wanted to compose. Guitarist/Vocalist/Songwriter Brian May was adamant about writing the films opening theme. And so it went with each member of Queen coming in separately to do their portion of the soundtrack. Their music was a total of 45 minutes of screen time. The rest would be composed by Howard Blake who had to come up with orchestrations in a period of just weeks.
The efforts and sacrifice of every artisan involved with this film has been embraced by millions of fans over the past 40 years. Cheers to Titan Books for publishing it.
You will indeed have as much fun reading through this book and taking in all of the eye-popping imagery as you did with the film itself. Flash, A-ahhh! Such a good time.
Taschen is an art book publisher founded in 1980 by Benedikt Taschen in Cologne, Germany. As of January 2017, Taschen is co-managed by Benedikt and his eldest daughter, Marlene Taschen.
This year the world renowned publisher celebrates 40 years of printing a library’s worth of art collections that span popular culture.
In The Star Wars book the original trilogy of films is deftly explored. Anything you ever wanted to know regarding the conception and production of these now classic titles are here. Despite the hefty page count the size is quite portable.
Within each section there are well over a hundred color and b&w photos. Storyboards, models, miniatures, sets, blueprints, and artists are exhibited.
This volume is like holding the best Star Wars museum in your hands. George Lucas tells his story from modest beginnings to become the creator of one of the most treasured brands in the world.
So this partnership with Taschen matches two of the great brands with spectacular results.
Turning each glossy page you get so much fascinating insights into the process of making films at the highest level.
I will reveal just a single bit I loved discovering here for the first time. The rest you can find for yourself.
The cost of Episode V The Empire Strikes Back was so great that if it had failed there would be no future for Lucasfilm nor the special effects company Industrial Light & Magic! Every dime from the first film went into making.
The details of this book are impressive. Casting decisions, the construction of sets on location and sound stages, conceptual art, and costume designs are examined.
You will come away with a complete understanding of the level of expertise required to make feature films. I think even lay people will appreciate perhaps for the first time that our greatest achievements do not just happen.
There are a vast group of dedicated artisans that make a potential audience think the results are effortless. In the case of Star Wars they made us all feel like we really did travel to a galaxy far, far, away in a time long ago.
Congratulations to the artisans at Taschen for producing such fine works. Here’s to your next 40 years!
A crown jewel in the library for any fan of classic rock comes this compendium of every single track recorded and released by Queen during their original reign with late lead vocalist Freddie Mercury.
A stunningly designed volume focusing on the main discography released between 1973 and 1991.
Each title gets a unique graphic art treatment using a similar font but adding a splash of custom color for each recording.
To give readers context there are added sections. A brief intro to each member of the band comes before the eponymous debut is discussed.
We are also given great background on the key players in the band’s story including producers Roy Thomas Baker, Rheinhold Mack, Sound Engineer Mike Stone, and photographer Mick Rock.
Every song in its proper order are given the entries subhead Genesis and Production. How the song was birthed then what technique was applied in the studio to bring the song to life.
There are many images in both color and b&w that have never been seen. One of my favorites was an image of guitarist Brian May holding a Linn-7 drum machine. This technology is mentioned as the band’s fifth member during the recording of Hot Space.
Highlighted throughout are revelations under the heading, For Queen Addicts. This illustrates just how vast the following has become for the band, especially after the success of the movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Everything about the band’s creative process is shared here. I found out a lot of things I did not know about the group. Since I am a Queen Addict I was quite impressed by this compendium.
The novice will probably be happy with their best-selling “Greatest Hits”. Long-time fans will need this book. Anyone who loves classic rock will also want to get a copy.
The band was not perfect. Refreshingly the book discusses the bad press received in the U.K. from the very start. Some of the biggest mistakes made took years to heal.
The four musicians who created this catalog of songs have become beloved by millions. Two of their famous fans, Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters co-curated a Queen compilation and Michael Jackson worked with Freddie.
This diverse mix of artistic points of view are in my opinion one of the components that make Queen so enduring in the canon of popular music.
For fans of Lady GaGa is the fragrance line EAU DE GAGA. Dangerously, audacious, the fragrance was created with Gaga’s visionary fragrance powerhouse, Haus Laboratories, world renowned for innovatively capturing the pure essence of Gaga. As an androgynous scent, Eau de Gaga represents the future of fragrance appealing to both men and women.
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Lady Gaga Fame Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 1 Ounce $139.99
This latest effort from Australia’s legendary hard rock group is perhaps their best work since 1980’s “Back In Black”.
Decades ago, the loss of singer Bon Scott was thought to be their end. All the years in between AC/DC have proven nobody can ever count them out.
There have been solid outings like “Black Ice” and “Rock or Bust” in recent years.
This time round they once again had a lot to prove to themselves as well as fans. Singer Brian Johnson’s future was in doubt on the last tour which was completed by Guns N Roses vocalist/lyricist Axl Rose when he had hearing issues.
This release is the best news ever for any fan of the group. It brings most of the “Back In Black” line-up back together. On the inner sleeve above the band’s famous logo are the words “This One’s For Mal”. Angus’ dearly departed brother co—founded the group. His nephew Stevie now plays in the line-up.
Indeed all 12 tracks on PWR UP are written by Malcolm and Angus Young. I was blown away by the fact that there was not a single track I did not enjoy. The first single “Shot In The Dark” is third in the sequence on side 1.
Then get ready for a scorcher of a set. Perfecting their dirty blues style for over four decades you hear Malcolm Young’s rhythm work on every song.
Brian Johnson has never been better. Achieving gritty eighties style heavy rock that reminds me of “For Those About To Rock” and “Flick of the Switch”.
Opener “Realize” has understated harmonic thrust to get the adrenaline flowing in your ears. And then in perfect sequence each song stands alone as pure electric AC/DC power.
The album is on black vinyl; Yellow vinyl if ordered from the AC/DC online store; a deluxe CD light box that illuminates their logo and plays a portion of “Shot In The Dark” is also available.
This record will make you feel great during these dark times.
Julien’s Auctions is the world record-breaking auction house to the stars. Collaborating with the famous and the exclusive, Julien’s Auctions produces high profile auctions in the film, music, sports and art markets.
Julien’s Auctions has received international recognition for its unique and innovative auction events, which attract thousands of collectors, investors, fans and enthusiasts from around the world.
Julien’s Auctions specializes in sales of iconic artifacts and notable collections including Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Lady Gaga, Banksy, Cher, Michael Jackson, U2, Barbra Streisand, Les Paul, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Hugh Hefner and many more.
Julien’s Auctions has announced the marquee headliners of ICONS & IDOLS TRILOGY: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, the world-record breaking auction house to the stars’ annual music extravaganza on Tuesday, December 1st and Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020 live in Beverly Hills and online at www.juliensauctions.com.
Nearly 900 items join the previously announced all-star lineup of artifacts and memorabilia owned and used by some of the world’s greatest music artists of all-time including Eddie Van Halen, Kurt Cobain, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Aerosmith and more.
How much would you pay to own a piece of rock n roll history?
A Hammond B-3 organ from the mid-1960s played by Gregg Allman estimated value of $80,000—$100,000; John Denver’s circa 1982 “White Lady” Greven six-string acoustic guitar estimated at $20,000—$40,000.
Here is a list of more highlights:
Handwritten lyrics by Freddie Mercury to an unpublished song with lines such as, “It’s a world of give and take/ a calculated risk reason/ Love inside a prison/ Destiny at stake/ Trapped by your own admission … When you can’t handle the strain/ The tug of war of being in love/ The challenge and the pace human race” (estimate: $15,000 – $20,000);
Jimmy Page’s 1979 burgundy Fender Stratocaster that he played while performing with rock band Public Eye in 1991 (estimate: $30,000 – $50,000);
a single sheet original manuscript of John Lennon’s handwritten poem and lullaby titled “Bernice’s Sheep” that was published in A Spaniard in the Works on June 24th, 1965 (estimate: $30,000 – $50,000);
Michael Jackson’s custom black jacket with rhinestone accents worn to the MTV Video Music Awards in Tokyo on May 27, 2006 where Jackson won the Legend Award that year (estimate: $40,000 – $60,000);
Pete Townsend’s first guitar that he owned and played, a 1936 Radiotone cello guitar (estimate: $10,000 – $15,000);
An original Beatles Ltd merchandising booklet signed inside by John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney and obtained at Palais des Sports in Paris, France, on June 20th, 1965 (estimate: $15,000 – $20,000); Stevie Nicks’ red double row tambourine signed, “Much Love Stevie Nicks,” and her inscriptions of written album titles throughout the tambourine including, Time Space, Street Angel, Bella Donna, and more (estimate: $800-$1,200) (photo right);
A 14K white gold love symbol pendant on a 14K white gold chain, worn by Prince on multiple occasions (estimate: $8,000 – $10,000);
A DX7 Synthesizer stage used and signed by Nine Inch Nails band members during the 1994-1995 Self Destruct Tour (estimate: $4,000 – $6,000); a life-size prosthetic bust of Dave Grohl from the 2006 film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (estimate: $1,500 – $2,500); plus, instruments, memorabilia and ephemera from The Beatles, The Clash, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Whitney Houston and more.
Julien’s Auctions’ year-end Icons and Idols extravaganza will offer some of the most sought-after music artifacts in the world,” said Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien’s Auctions.
“From the first guitar ever to be offered at auction that was owned and played by Bob Marley to Albert King’s main and most important guitar to a stunning collection of Little Richard’s most iconic wardrobe, this event offers an exciting opportunity for buyers and collectors to own these incredible pieces of music history from the pioneers of rock and roll.”
Photographs by FERNANDO ACEVES BRIAN ARIS PHILIPPE AULIAC ALEC BYRNE KEVIN CUMMINS CHALKIE DAVIES JUSTIN DE VILLENEUVE VERNON DEWHURST GAVIN EVANS GERALD FEARNLEY LYNN GOLDSMITH GREG GORMAN ANDREW KENT MARKUS KLINKO GEOFF MacCORMACK JANET MACOSKA TERRY O’NEILL DENIS O’REGAN NORMAN PARKINSON MICK ROCK JOHN SCARISBRICK STEVE SCHAPIRO BARRY SCHULTZ RAY STEVENSON MASAYOSHI SUKITA Introduction by GEORGE UNDERWOOD
This is the finest collection of photographs you will ever find depicting perhaps the only singular rock icon to rival the visual power of Elvis. From the very start of his career David Bowie wanted to become a star. He did not covet rock stardom. No. He aimed higher. We should all be grateful.
The editors at ACC make clear this is not a complete set. That would encompass thousands of pages.
What we have in our hands with this tome is a representation of fine rock photography from 25 of the most legendary artists in this field.
If there is one common thread running through these pages its the sessions for each studio record being seen without their final texts or titles.
David Bowie represented so many different avenues of creativity it’s impossible to pigeonhole him into any category or frame. Every picture in this book will leave you with an impression that is yours alone to decipher.
For this is the goal of a genuine artitst. To keep you guessing. To keep you wondering. To leave you utterly astonished.
The team that made this book possible attempted a seriously daunting feat. They got a group of the world’s finest photographers to contribute their best work to a singular project.
This work shows the many sides of David Bowie from his debut through his glam starpower to his thin white duke class and the many projects that drove his creativity and genius.
This resulting coffee table prize is a success. If ever there was a time we needed art of this caliber it’s now at the end of 2020.
As you have seen over the summer in this blog, one of my greatest interests and passions has been taking photographs of my beloved New York City. Therefore, it is with enormous pleasure that I introduce my new website evanwarrenphoto.com
The website is made up of approximately 50 of my most favorite photos of NYC, focusing on its architecture, landscape and nature – and also includes a link to this blog that will be updated with each entry. It is a true reflection of my artistic personality.
If any of you want a wall-sized (or other-sized) print of any of these photographs, please contact me directly via my email, and I will be happy to give you an estimate of its cost. But, most of all, this website has been created so you can enjoy these particular shots whenever you’d like to look at them.
At the age of 18 Neal Preston got to photograph Jimi Hendrix. Then awhile later he was lucky enough to get hired by Atlantic records.
You see they had a new sensation called Led Zeppelin that was about to tour. He became their official photographer.
Although the members of Queen loved Hendrix, it was Neal Preston’s association with Zeppelin that impressed them most.
Now almost 35 years after the band’s final gig with Freddie Mercury comes this knockout of a photo book.
If you’re a fan or love rock photography this tome will sit proudly on your coffee table. With limited text Neal Preston presents his best images of Queen.
Beginning with their initial ascent in 1977 on their North American News of the World Tour and each tour thereafter until reaching the penultimate 1986 Magic Tour of Europe, you get views of this band that are quite special.
The images are in black and white as well as color. Capturing the utter pomp of Queen at their best these images are the result of a band in search of perfection every night as they perform before thousands of people.
Queen were the first Western rock group to Tour South America in 1981. The photos from this jaunt make this book a worthy edition to any home library.
A dedicated road crew enabled Neal to show sides of the group fans never see. You see what the band sees when looking out at an arena crowd. You’re on stage!
Although some of these photographs have been seen in books and magazines over the years the layout here is just superior.
At Live Aid Neal Preston was the only photographer on stage! Those pictures have not been seen before except the one of Freddie center stage with his back arched as he reaches for the stars. This image is featured on the Bohemian Rhapsody movie poster and soundtrack album.
In fact the band loved Neal’s work so much that images were used for Tour Program covers and a box set of drummer Roger Taylor’s solo output.
The band pushed Neal to do some of his best work even in some of the hardest conditions. Especially in South America when machine guns were literally the only backstage pass one needed.
As stated at the book’s beginning a rock photographer has stress and fatigue as constant companions. We the viewers are the beneficiaries of his tireless effort.
Full of honest, humble, and heavy duty experience comes a memoir you will never want to put down.
Rob Halford from the “Black” Country of Birmingham, England grew up to be the front man for the heavy metal band Judas Priest.
He relates stories of family life in a post-war landscape. Nothing was ever assured. The only thing Rob knew early on was that he was not like other boys.
This is really the story of how a gay man went from being a scared, lonely, and frustrated boy into an honest, sober, and loving person.
Since this boy was to become a world famous rock star we have the memoir of the year.
Rob goes into great detail of his many misadventures with straight men. He had run-ins with police too.
He describes his identity this way following a painful breakup in the late 1970’s:
“It was five years since I’d been seeing Jason. Apart from the odd snatched, random fumble, I had been alone ever since…not just alone, but forced to suppress my longings, my needs, myself. I had to live a stifling life, or kill the band I loved.
Outside of that bedroom door, I was Rob Halford from Judas Priest, macho talisman and emergent metal god. Inside it, I was Robert John Arthur Halford, a sad, confused late twenties bloke from the Black Country, longing for the forbidden fruit of intimate male company”.
Rob Halford pg.134.
Judas Priest’s first line-up disbanded before Rob showed up to audition. His sister Sue was dating the band’s founder, bassist Ian Hill who is still in the group today. She insisted he try out. Their town, Walsall breeds humble people. Rob was told by Ken Downing that he was in the band.
British Steel became their watershed moment. Named for the filthy foundry plant in their village, recorded in a house once used by The Beatles, owned by Ringo, and used by John and Yoko for their Double Fantasy album, sold millions and spawned the now classic, ‘Living After Midnight’.
The group adopted an all leather look. They went full in as a metal band. Rob could not believe his mates did not realize he was a gay man.
Well before this time Rob had written a song called ‘Raw Deal’ about a doomed romance on Fire Island! He had never been there but imagined it.
The song ‘Metal Gods’ off British Steel was inspired by Frank the robot on Queen’s News of the World album. Rob Halford’s rock hero was Freddie Mercury. In the polarized homophobic culture of those days all of this remained unknown.
Priest fans will discover so much about their favorite group. Nicknames like K.K. Downing for Ken were used, but they were going to call Rob, ‘The Queen’. That would not have gone down well in my opinion.
A humorous book as well. He describes his arrest for lewdness in America. The cops knew who he was and asked what he was doing. Being famous can be like armour.
Rob Halford would encounter his idol, Freddie Mercury on the Greek island of Mykonos, a prime destination for gay men. They were at a yacht party. He describes a crowded space. His nerves got the better of him despite receiving a wink and wave from Freddie.
After all these years Rob Halford was ready to Confess. In his words it feels great and was just good for his soul. Perhaps it will do the same for his readers.
This memoir is truly inspiring. A kid from Long Island develops (pun intended) a keen interest in photography at the age of 5. His mother has her own darkroom.
After leaving college over and over decides to pursue his real passion—creating images with his camera.
I think he made the right decision. You learn when reading this story how much of life is just being in the right place at the right time.
Over the past 60 years he has chronicled rock’s most significant artists. Beginning at the 1965 Newport folk festival when Bob Dylan plugged in with an electric guitar for the first time to the birth of disco, punk, and new wave, his best stories are collected here.
You will truly feel as if you are with him during all the late nights, problems with deadlines, and hangovers.
Bob Gruen became close friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono; Ike and Tina Turner.
He spent a lot of time showing the world the day to day lives of these extraordinary people. He de-glamorizes the biz. You see the tough times these folks lived through to get their art in the hands of listeners across the globe.
At the drop of a hat Bob Gruen flew to London, Germany, France, Japan or wherever needed to lend support.
In the moment he captured many moments that still resonate today.
Led Zep in front of the Enterprise Starship aircraft; John Lennon in his New York city tee-shirt; The Clash on the observation deck at 30 Rock; Ike and Tina Turner doing just about anything.
Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali. Dali created the first ever hologram of Alice.
This book is the perfect gift for the music fan in your life. He photographed Queen before they were famous. KISS in 1978 on the 14th St subway platform which had phone booths!
A magical journey peopled by lots of fascinating figures including:
Elton John, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Tina Turner, Debbie Harry, The Ramones, Alice Cooper, The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Who, Runaways, and on and on.
Bob Gruen reminds his reader of the authenticity of New York city’s great power to help re-invent those who seek a new life.
Filled with black and white photos and full color of many moments that shaped his long-term success you get a deeply affecting impression of what it truly takes to become a fine artist.
One of my favorite early moments was when he took photos of models. A young college student came to the studio. Years later he found out that would be model became movie actress Karen Allen who appeared in “Animal House” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
Today, Bob Gruen photography is a thriving business. The countless hours of painstaking work along with the warp speed social life required to achieve it are worthwhile.
I strongly recommend you get a copy of this account.
Tim English is a noted authority on musical plagiarism. He has been in the Chicago Tribune and on BBC Radio 2.
His research is expertly presented here as a playlist divided into the four seasons that make up a year.
In this case the year is 1980. The creative rebirth of John Lennon and the tragedy of his death in the same year.
If you think you already know everything about Mr. Lennon you will be gobsmacked when reading this book. You will discover so much about the former Beatle you did not understand.
Why John Lennon stepped out of the music business for five years was the birth of Sean. He took on the new role of house husband. Today we accept this role for men as normal. In the 1970’s this was considered strange.
Mr. English informs his readers of all the music being released during John’s absence.
The tempermant of an artist is fragile. For a while John Lennon was musically set adrift after the sixties. The long shadow of The Beatles had to be accepted by him. He knew his solo work would never compete with that legacy.
We discover why The Beatles became rock’s most influential group. We find John struggling to find his next chapter.
Among the artists that made John want to record again are Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen.
He stayed on top of every musical shift in the seventies. He loved Donna Summer. Blondie were his favorite group. Along with The B-52’s, The Pretenders, and Elvis Costello, new wave caugh his fancy as well.
Artists like John Lennon absorb the culture around them like a sponge. Their taste becomes eclectic. What they want to express musically is an exacting process.
Double Fantasy took several years to create.
This book provides the rest of the missing pieces. It’s a journey music lovers should take. You may find yourself learning how to be a better listener. Your musical taste will be much improved too.
Published by Prestel Verlag, Munich · London · New York, 2020.
Hardcover $45.00 Oct 20, 2020
224 Pages | 9-1/4 x 11
Documenting the birth of a radical era of music, fashion, pop culture, media, and art, Steve Eichner was hired by Club King Peter Gatien to make images of his clubs.
Sex, drugs, and dance music created the perfect cocktail of hedonistic bliss set amid a backdrop of iconic parties that catered to revelers every whim.
On any given night, one could party alongside celebrities, club kids, drag queens, ravers, hip hop heads, models, banjees, body boys, bondage slaves, goths, and the bridge-and-tunnel set at legendary nightclubs like Tunnel, Palladium, Club USA, Roxy, and Limelight.
At a time when people from all walks of life came together at night to celebrate themselves. There was universal respect. No one could see what went on inside these nocturnal spaces…until now!
Steve Eichner was the official photographer of NYC nightlife. There are 200 brilliant images in this book.
Here is a sample of his work:
This collection of vivid good times comes at a point when we could use a reminder of the days when people gathered in mass.
Ordinary people became clubbers. They rubbed shoulders with celebs and danced the night away.
Here, a new group of upstarts of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and economic backgrounds came together on the dance floor in a celebration of PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect).
This book will be a great addition to any coffee table this upcoming holiday season.
The year 2020 will not be fondly remembered for many reasons.
Perhaps the music being released in this fourth quarter can serve as consolation.
Veteran rockers AC/DC; Blue Oyster Cult; Bon Jovi and more recent upstarts Greta Van Fleet; The Struts have new music that may provide uplift and inspiration.
Here are my reviews of these new tunes:
AC/DC’s ‘Shot In The Dark’ from their upcoming album, PWR/UP, reminds you why they have been around for decades.
The late Malcolm Young’s rhythm work can be heard throughout the cut.
A variation on the song ‘Giving The Dog A Bone’ from the iconic Back In Black LP, adds to the long line of AC/DC tunes filled to the brim with sexual innuendo.
Three singles and videos are featured. The first track, “That Was Me”, is a defiant statement set in a late 1970’s groove. It reminds the listener of BOC’s past glories. After all this group is known for ‘Burnin’ For You’ and ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper ‘. They deserve to attract many young listeners to their fold.
This song was released right before Covid-19 hit our shores. A straight forward shot of a bottle rocket to shake our routines at a moment when life seemed to stop.
This track encourages people to take risks, forget plans, and live. The past 3 years saw these young lads travel the world on their first big tour. The video shows their self filmed antics in these difficult times. A great way to cheer up!
This title song for the band’s new album is about staying grounded during these uncertain days.
Two sublime voices on a cut that makes you feel better about what life should be. Those smaller moments of kindness provide us with a bounty of smiles and joy.
It also asks kids to stop their seeming obsession with online antics and take time to grow, slowly.
Edward Van Halen died this week from throat cancer.
His journey from Netherlands to Pasadena, California enabled him to prosper in a culture that became the LA heavy metal scene.
The first Van Halen record features real photos of each member during a gig at the famous Whiskey–A–Go–Go on the Sunset strip.
In 1978 Punk and Disco were exploding in popularity.
With its opening power chords the VH album was a fresh audio blast of serious but joyful rock.
Runnin’ with the Devil, the guitar solo Eruption, and the rest would change music forever.
The members of this group were great looking too. Eddie’s brother Alex, Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth would rise to become the model for all the rock music to come flooding into the hearts and minds of young people all over the world.
Now called Hair Metal, the bands that bought Van Halen’s records are legion.
Eddie was an ingenious player. He could not read music but was able to play spot on by watching other musicians.
There were wonderful collaborations with Michael Jackson on the smash hit Beat It and his appearance on Brian May’s first solo effort Starfleet Project.
1984 is one of my favorite albums of all time. Featuring hits Jump, Hot For Teacher, Panama, and I’ll Wait. They were MTV’s most played act that year.
The changes to Sammy Hagar then Gary Cherone of Extreme yielded 8 years in which they released several #1 records including 5150, OU812, and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.
Kiss were the band that VH opened for on their first national tour. Both bands would headline Britain’s Monsters of Rock festival.
Eddie Van Halen’s music still makes me feel great. I believe it’s timeless.
Although I only saw him in concert on their 2007 Tour, he went shirtless and played like the headliner he had always been.
The rockers of the 1980’s made their mark. Many of the bands from that era are still here recording and performing. Do not take them for granted.
Van Halen music is hard, heavy, melodic, harmonious, and the definition of great rock n roll.
I will miss Eddie Van Halen. He was such a huge presence in my life. Happy Trails…
Originally set for release on May 15, 2020 was a completed album with a breadth and depth of songwriting, titled for a challenging and pivotal election year.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Along with all of America, Jon found himself unexpectedly experiencing a world-altering coronavirus pandemic, followed quickly by the staggering events of George Floyd’s death and the ensuing national movement for racial equality.
He knew there was even more to say about 2020. Writing from a home studio, two new songs were born: “American Reckoning” and “Do What You Can” encompass these events and made the album a complete body of work.
Well known for his extensive philanthropic work, Jon spent the initial quarantine days and weeks with his wife Dorothea helping feed those in need at their JBJ Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in Red Bank, NJ.
Later, the couple opened a Food Bank on the East End of Long Island to meet the food demands of the in-need population there.
I had the privilege of meeting Jon Bon Jovi by chance at The Armory Art show in New York city.
I expressed my thanks to him for all of the good works. Also how much I was looking forward to his new album.
Not knowing the tour and album would be postponed made me think about all we as a people are facing together.
Without further ado, 2020 is a musical salve for a genuinely pivotal year. These 10 songs bristle with equal doses of joy and despair.
Addressing the pandemic, mass shootings and racial justice the music remains on a remarkably even keel throughout.
Bon Jovi has crafted a meaningful record that enables its listener to reflect on all that has happened to us while looking forward to the future.
Limitless (Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon, John Shanks)
Do What You Can (Jon Bon Jovi)
American Reckoning (Jon Bon Jovi)
Beautiful Drug (Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon, John Shanks)
Story of Love (Jon Bon Jovi)
Let It Rain (Jon Bon Jovi)
Lower the Flag (Jon Bon Jovi)
Blood in the Water (Jon Bon Jovi)
Brothers in Arms (Jon Bon Jovi)
Unbroken (Jon Bon Jovi)
Tonight iHeart Radio will broadcast a special album launch for 2020. The band will play select songs from the new album plus Bon Jovi classics.
In celebration of World Animal Day on October 4th, 2020, Morrison Hotel Gallery, the world-renowned fine art music photography gallery, will be holding an online fundraiser in support of animal charity, Rational Animal.
Music icons Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry and Pete Townshend are signing prints for this special fundraiser.
In addition to fine art prints featuring these artists are best-selling images of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Neil Young, Billie Holiday and more.
A limited edition of Sound wall art speakers featuring the photography of Henry Diltz will also be included.
Rock Icons with Animals
Rational Animal is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 to create media and projects to increase awareness and help at-risk animals.
Campaigns include public service announcements, animal shelter maps, Animal Guardian Awards and community projects.
Rational Animal campaigns are always family-friendly with a positive focus and many projects include hands-on activities for kids and people of all ages.
Check out our World Animal Day Fine Art Print Fundraiser with Morrison Hotel Gallery. rational-animal.org
MORRISON HOTEL GALLERY Morrison Hotel Gallery is the world’s leading brand for fine art music photography representing over 125 of the greatest music photographers and their archives, providing both open and limited edition prints in archival quality that are signed by the photographers or their estates and come with a certificate of authenticity. morrisonhotelgallery.com
Morrison Hotel Gallery116 Prince Street || New York, NY 10012212.941.8770
Morrison Hotel GallerySunset Marquis1200 Alta Loma Road || West Hollywood, CA 90069310.881.6025
Morrison Hotel GalleryFleetwood’s General Store744 Front Street || Lahaina, Hawaii 96761808.669.6425 (MICK)
The Rolling Stones open their first “flagship” store, “RS No. 9 Carnaby,” at 9 Carnaby Street in London’s Soho district.
The new store, created in partnership with Bravado, Universal Music Group’s merchandise and brand management company, features all of the hallmarks of the iconic band and includes exclusive new fashion label “RS No. 9 Carnaby.”
The store will also introduce “Stones Red,” the official color from Pantone established from the first use of the band’s iconic logo. A collection celebrating the Rolling Stones official Pantone color along with exclusive limited-edition vinyl will also launch with the store.
The Rolling Stones said in a statement, “Soho has always encapsulated Rock ‘n’ Roll so Carnaby Street was the perfect spot for our own store.
We are confident this exciting project that our friends at Bravado have created will be an unrivaled experience for everyone to come to London and enjoy.”
Jointly curated by the Rolling Stones and Bravado, the shop follows the brand colors of red and black and the glass floor features lyrics, while the fitting rooms are adorned with album artwork.
The 1973 LP Goats Head Soup is now a deluxe box set featuring rarities, outtakes and alternative mixes from the sessions, a new stereo mix of the original album, a complete show from the accompanying tour and three previously unreleased tracks from the period.
One of the new songs, “Criss Cross,” dropped Thursday with a new video. (It was originally known to fans as “Criss Cross Man” from various bootlegs.) The other new tracks are “All the Rage” and “Scarlet,” which features guitar work by Jimmy Page.
The collections include fashion and accessories, along with a special glassware developed with Baccarat engraved with the Rolling Stones tongue logo, as well as chairs and scarves from The Soloist, and raincoats and hats from premium Swedish raincoat brand Stutterheim.
This new addition to Carnaby Street in London’s Soho District has been open since September 9th, 2020. The location was at the heart of swinging 1960’s Britain for which the band played a big part.
The Rolling Stones said in a statement, “Soho has always encapsulated Rock ‘n’ Roll so Carnaby Street was the perfect spot for our own store. We are confident this exciting project that our friends at Bravado have created will be an unrivaled experience for everyone to come to London and enjoy.”
Jointly curated by the Rolling Stones and Bravado, the shop follows the brand colors of red and black and the glass floor features lyrics.
Mat Vlasic, CEO, Bravado said: “With this innovative partnership, the Rolling Stones add yet another cultural touchpoint to their rich legacy.
RS No. 9 Carnaby is the result of years of planning and decades of building one of the world’s most recognized brands.
It creates a destination where fans can connect and immerse themselves in the music, style and spirit of one of the world’s most iconic and beloved bands.”
Morrison Hotel Art Gallery Grants
Drawing from the archives of Pattie Boyd, Henry Diltz, Lynn Goldsmith, Neal Preston, Ken Regan, Ethan Russell, Timothy White, and other photographers granted utterly intimate access to the green rooms and sidelines where music legends are truly made, Morrison Hotel Gallery presents its latest online exhibition, Backstage Pass.
From the trans-Atlantic breakthrough of Beatlemania to the off-stage antics of rock royalty, this online exhibition of 40+ fine art images offers fans an all-access (and socially distant) glimpse behind the curtain and some of the most legendary nights in music history starting Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
Just who are these mere mortals-turned-gods when the roar of the crowd dies away?
In many moments captured, the backstage behavior lives up to the sex, drugs, and rock and roll legend.
Jack Daniels flows freely in the Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin dressing rooms, while KISS romps in a wild backstage “orgy” at the Capitol Theatre.
Meanwhile, Keith Richards is ever-present – clutching a whiskey bottle with his signature cool as Tina Turner and David Bowie embrace and sip together from a bottle of champagne.
For better or worse, rock & roll has soundtracked a shifting American culture since its mid-twentieth century genesis.
With powerhouse hits and primally-charged world tours, rockstars may be the stuff of fear, fascination and die-hard fandoms.
Elton John’s Jewels
The entire set was hand—picked by the singer and he will release the massive 8-CD Jewel Box collection on Nov. 13 , packed with rarities from 1965-1971, deep cuts and obscure B-sides.
The 148-song set, will chronicle his early stages collaborating with lyricist Bernie Taupin, and comes with a hardcover book as well as extensive notes and track-by-track commentary by John for the two Deep Cuts discs.
It will be available in three different vinyl versions (4LP, 3LP, 2LP) as well as on digital download and streaming services, with all audio remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Grammy-winning mastering engineer Sean Magee.
The previously unreleased 1969 song “Sing Me No Sad Song,” the first taste of the collection, was released on Thursday (Sept. 17) and it provides a fascinating glimpse into John’s musical evolution. The rollicking track features lyrical precursors of both 1984’s “Sad Songs (Say So Much) and the 1976 hit “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”
“To delve back through every period of my career in such detail for Jewel Box has been an absolute pleasure. Hearing these long lost tracks again, I find it hard to comprehend just how prolific Bernie and I were during the early days,” John says in a statement.
“The songs just poured out of us, and the band were just unbelievable in the studio. I always want to push forward with everything I do and look to the future, but having time during lockdown to take stock and pull these moments from my memory from each era has been a joy.
As a devout record collector myself, this project has really excited me, and I couldn’t be happier with the level of craft involved in such a carefully curated, lovingly constructed boxset. I’m sure my fans will enjoy it as much as I have.”
The format of the discs is described as follows:
Discs 1 & 2: Deep Cuts – A selection of personal favorites, curated by Elton. The box set book includes a track-by-track commentary by Elton.
Discs 3, 4, and 5: Rarities 1965 -1971 – Elton’s much sought-after 1960s and early 1970s demos and music that cemented the foundations of the iconic Elton John/Bernie Taupin writing partnership. The compelling, previously unreleased, missing piece in his illustrious career. Daryl Easlea narrates this fascinating story with contributions from those who were there at the time. These discs encompass 65 songs, all but a few of which have been stored in the vaults for more than 50 years.
Most of these demos were recorded during sessions before Elton was signed to a recording contract or released his first album. Also included are the first song ever written by Elton and his debut appearance on a record (both “Come Back Baby” – 1965), Elton and Bernie’s first composition (“Scarecrow” – 1967), and newly unearthed piano/vocal demos of some of Elton’s most acclaimed songs from his early albums. The packaging appropriately contains rare archival artwork and select original lyric sheets.
Discs 6 & 7: B-Sides 1976-2005 – Non-LP tracks and flipsides, never before compiled together. Thirty-six gems that are now given another chance to sparkle – 17 previously only available on vinyl, resulting in all of Elton’s studio B-sides now being offered digitally for the first time in his career.
Disc 8: And This Is Me . . . – To coincide with the release of the updated paperback edition of Me, the final collection celebrates the songs mentioned by name by Elton in his acclaimed autobiography, closing Jewel Box with the 2020 Academy Award-winning duet with Taron Egerton, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.”
This week features a day trip to Long Island. The itinerary was an indoor flea market, an outlet mall, and the town of Port Jefferson.
The outlets had great bargains including a windbreaker for Fall and a bundle of books at a discount.
Port Jefferson offered Red Shirt Comics and seafood at PJ’s Lobster House where we dined indoors for only the second time since March!
As of this writing indoor dining will return to Manhattan on September 30th.
2020 is the Centennial of the Vote for Women in America. New York dedicated its first statue of real women’s rights pioneers on Literary Walk.
Also marking the 200th Anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, this new monument is long overdue.
Central Park Wonders
I took a nature walk through the ramble recently. This is an area of the park with interconnected paths that twist through scenic woods. Bird watching here is fantastic.
A young Jazz Saxophonist played. A group of guys enjoyed a game of beach volleyball. And the police keep guard over a statue of Christopher Columbus.
The Conservancy takes great care of Central Park. Maintaining the lawns, trees, benches, and the rest every day.
This Summer has been hot and sunny most of the time. My husband and I are staying put in New York for now. These days I love my city. Have you looked at the weather across the country lately?
The Conservatory Garden
Located at E. 105th Street & 5th Avenue across from The Museum of the City of New York, this garden is a treasure with flowers, romantic paths and fountains placed well. A quiet zone perfect for escape from the chaos outside.
19 years after the attacks on U.S. soil of 3 American planes used as missiles destroying the Twin Towers, damaging The Pentagon, and crashing in Pennsylvania killing over 3,000 people, Corona Virus has killed over 200,000 Americans.
We will all pause to remember 9/11. But never forget that then & now we had a President not duly elected by the people.
Dear Readers, September arrives with plenty to share. New images of my neighborhood shows the hard work being done to keep life as normal as possible. Labor Day weekend begins….
This park sits atop the FDR Drive on the far Eastside of Manhattan. As seen above the Esplanade over looks the East River. Views of Roosevelt Island, Triborough Bridge re-named the RFK, and Hells gate freight bridge can be enjoyed here.
In the collages we see all kinds of activity. A girl flies a kite. A young Dad walks home with his friend and kid. A woman confined to a automated chair enjoys jazz music. A yoga class takes place. Two men workout on the Great Lawn. A Doorman washes down the walk. A man finishes up his run checking his phone.
I have many more images to share of Central Park. The gallery below features them.
A natural ecosystem that is great for walks. One of the nation’s top bird watching spots.
The many paths feature charming views of forest. A great way to escape for a while.
As our city continues to re-open I am hoping the awful numbers of March do not return. If Summer 2020 proved one thing to me it’s that we are all together. No matter what happens New Yorkers will continue to support each other.
My Dear Readers, thanks for stopping by Evan’s Gate! Until next week…
A couple of weekends ago my husband and I were transported out of the city for the first time this year!
My super amazing sister-in-law and brother whisked us away to their home upstate.
You see my beloved Brian’s birthday is coming up this week so this was a celebration.
August 21, 2020
Upstate NY is bucolic with mountains, rolling hills, and picturesque farms.
Set within this menagerie is a home full of love and wonder.
My sister-in-law gets organic produce delivered and grows vegetables on her deck.
She whipped up salads full of flavor within minutes. Our niece made a surprise pop-in with a friend too.
Dear readers, we are all in good health with no reason to fear being exposed to Covid. We are moving on.
Following our lunch we were taken on a scenic drive around rural towns leading to our destination of Rhinebeck, NY which is home to the State fair. This event was cancelled this year.
Our first set of images were taken in this charming village. The community has restrictions in place. Indoor dining returned everywhere North of the city! We were able to celebrate my husband’s birthday inside a restaurant!
On our way back to the city we visited Cold Spring. This town has interesting shops with antiques, records, and sweets.
Social distancing rules are in place.
There were walking patterns too. On our visit the town of Cold Spring was not crowded.
Cold Spring was lovely. Signs of hope were everywhere.
Scenic Cold Spring, NY
Seeing family again fills you with love.
A return to downtown for the first time this year! A very warm sticky day. Lots of great people watching.
In green tee and shorts is my hubby. Another Birthday brunch with a friend.
Open Streets is a city program that closes off certain blocks to traffic for cleaner outdoor dining.
The above gallery at the top you can glimpse a selfie I took in a men’s store.
Gotta Have Park!
Although it’s late August there are still hot days ahead. The park provides great moments from sweet dogs to cool people.
My hubby and I saw my parents for the first time this year!
Johnson Avenue is an open street for eateries. At W.235th and Riverdale Avenue.
There are teeny cars and tricycles provided free of charge for families with toddlers.
Summer always goes by the quickest. Warm to hot days; far less clothes; being. The crisis is not over. We have a long way to go yet. Let us all hope the days ahead are healthier.
For this week I will leave you dear readers with a gallery of lovable poochies! After all these are the dog days…
Without Buck Rogers there would be no Flash Gordon. First appearing in 1928, the character of Anthony “Buck” Rogers was the first to feature space exploration! As it paralleled the latest advances in technology of the early twentieth century, the space hero would take to alien worlds to defend Earth from certain peril.
The strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929.
Later adaptations included radio in 1932, a film serial, a television series (in which his first name was changed from “Anthony” to “William”), and other formats.
Buck Rogers was the inspiration for other comic strips:
The adventures of Buck Rogers in comic strips, movies, radio and television became an important part of American popular culture. It was on January 22, 1930, that Buck Rogers first ventured into space aboard a rocket ship in his fifth newspaper comic story Tiger Men From Mars.
The Buck Rogers strip was popular enough to inspire other newspaper syndicates to launch their own science fiction strips. The most famous of these imitators was Flash Gordon (King Features Syndicate, 1934-2003).
I did not discover this about these 2 serials until I created this entry for Evan’s Gate!
In the 1980’s NBC-TV premiered “Buck Rogers In The 25th Century” based upon the feature film of the same name that appeared in theaters. Starring Gil Gerard as Buck and Co-starring in the series were Erin Gray as crack Starfighter pilot Colonel Wilma Deering, and Tim O’Connor as Dr. Elias Huer, head of Earth Defense Directorate, and a former starpilot himself.
Buck Rogers will getits own entry in this blog at a future date. You just cannot celebrate a Flash Gordon Anniversary without providing this necessary background.
The television series lasted two seasons. The actors strike of 1980 disrupted production. When it returned the show was revamped with new characters and format. The 1980-81 Season was to be its last.
Fun fact: Larry “Buster” Crabbe” made a cameo appearance on the Buck Rogers TV series!
Serial Start For Flash Gordon
Serial adventures were a staple of the American cinema from the 1930’s through the 1950’s. Each week a chapter would appear in theaters. The ending was usually a cliffhanger. Our hero would be caught in some sort of death spiral that left viewers wondering how they would manage their escape.
These serialized adventures were provided as an added attraction at theaters. They did a lot with small budgets.
Based upon various comic strip characters of the day, those serials produced one character in particular that has stayed around for over 70 years—Flash Gordon. A comic strip created by Alex Raymond in the 1930’s influenced the adventures of Batman, Superman, Captain Kirk, and Luke Skywalker.
I saw the original movie serials on Channel Thirteen, a Public Television station here in New York during the 1970’s. The re-runs coincided with the release of Star Wars in 1977.
Later on I discovered that Star Wars creator George Lucas was a fan of Flash Gordon. He inquired about the rights with King Features but found out the expense was beyond his means. Movie fans got a space fantasy filled with characters inspired by Flash Gordon.
I had been enthralled by science fiction and fantasy since the re-runs of Star Trek. Then Flash Gordon appeared and then Star Wars. I could not see the direct lineage of these series until much later.
Summer of 1977 marked movie history being made. George Lucas’ Star Wars changed the popular culture. Becoming at the time the highest grossing movie of all time, its success would lead to the first Star Trek movie in 1979 and Alien in that same year! In fact Alien won the Visual Effects Oscar over Star Trek. And of course launched another franchise.
Then came a big budget European feature film of Flash Gordon announced in the pages of American fan magazine, Starlog. Italian Producer Dino DeLaurentis with Director Mike Hodges created a unique vision of the comic book hero.
The Italian film legend Federico Fellini turned down an offer to direct Flash Gordon.
Putting together an all-star European cast with two unknown Americans as Flash and Dale was an unusual contrast not unlike Star Wars. There were many European stars wearing masks in both pictures.
For example British TV/Film actor and Bodybuilder David Prowse wore the Darth Vader costume for Star Wars; British TV star Peter Wyngarde (Department S, Jason King) wore a mask as General Klytus in Flash Gordon. Mr. Wyngarde’s voice is heard while Mr. Prowse gets dubbed by James Earl Jones.
But I digress. Back to our main focus. The cast of Flash Gordon—
Max Von Sydow (“The Seventh Seal”, “The Exorcist”) was Emperor Ming The Merciless; Timothy Dalton (James bond) was Prince Barin; Brian Blessed (Black Adder) was Vultan; Ornella Muti was Aura; Mariangela Melato was Kala; Peter Wyngarde (Jason King) was Klytus; Richard O’ Brien (Rocky Horror) was Fico; Topol was Dr. Hans Zarkov; Melody Anderson was Dale Arden; Sam J. Jones (“10”) was Flash Gordon.
Coming Of Age
As a gay kid in the 1980’s there were a lot of stimulating images in film. What I mean is that there were lots of films featuring shirtless guys on their posters. “Beastmaster” is a good example.
“Flash Gordon” was a singular phenomena. There are no sequels. At the time it cost $70 million which would probably be over $200 million today.
At the time of release the picture had a PG rating. There are scenes with graphic violence and sexual connotations but nonetheless there was no PG–13 back then in 1980. The blood shown on screen was blue and green.
I loved this film for its tremendous effort to capture the spirit of the original serial. Now seen in rich color of every shade and hue. The skies of Mongo were a awash in red, blue and orange.
It was important for the film to keep to the universe Alex Raymond created in the 1930s. The only update was making Flash a football player for the NY Jets, Dr. Zarkov was a NASA scientist, and Dale is now a travel agent.
As a kid I was ignorant of this paradigm. It’s important to note the exoticism worked both ways in the film. Princess Aura seduces the blonde/ blue-eyed Flash Gordon as her object of exotic desire.
This was strong stuff for a pre-teen gay kid! Then you had Sam J. Jones shirtless in the execution and resurrection scenes, wearing nothing but a pair of PVC briefs!
A ton of art was created for the film and some of it just for promotional purposes. Unknown to me at the time how many posters exist is incredible. Released globally there were images used in various countries to target specific audiences based on region.
Lobby Poster Art
All I knew then was the poster for American release was brilliant. Then I found a small copy of the art in a full page ad in Playbill magazine. I cut it out and put it on my wall. The name AMSEL was signed on Ming’s cloak.
The film’s Tagline, all in caps, PATHETIC EARTHLINGS…WHO CAN SAVE YOU NOW?
Who was underlined to stress that Flash is the hero.
The lightning bolt logo with planet Mongo at its center was an American market image. The font with its Red/Yellow/Orange coloring was brilliant. In Europe as well as in the opening titles the name is stylized in the mode Alex Raymond had used. You see it in the Italian promo posters we saw earlier in this entry.
Also note how Ming is so large like Darth Vader was for the Star Wars posters with Flash and Dale in a similar pose like Luke and Leia!
Instead of a fleet of X-Wing fighters you get a fleet of Hawkmen swooping down in an almost 3-D effect with Vultan’s cloud kingdom seen in the background on the right side of the frame.
All of his works are signed AMSEL with floating periods on either side of his name.
Richard Amsel was a prolific artist who attended the oldest school of Art in Philadelphia. After graduating he went on to create the poster art for films like “The Sting” and “Chinatown”. Following “Flash Gordon” he designed the art for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”!
He also designed album covers including Bette Midler’s Divine Ms. M.
He had an association with TV Guide for 13 years producing over 40 covers. A portrait he did of Lily Tomlin hangs in The Smithsonian. His final movie poster was for “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”.
The collage seen below is just a small sample of Amsel’s TV Guide covers. His first was an image of Lucille Ball upon her retirement from TV and show business.
I put up two of my favourites: All In The Family, Alice, and Richard Chamberlain in Shogun, a mini-series that aired for a week on NBC.
Notice the placement of the cast of Alice and All In The Family is similar to his placement of characters in his film poster work for Flash Gordon.
Richard Amsel died of AIDS in 1985 at the age of 37. I mourn him today. I had no idea he was one of the many awful casualties of that pandemic. His work is amazing.
Critical Reaction To Flash Gordon
The film found appreciation with some film critics, such as The New Yorker ‘s Pauline Kael. Kael described Flash Gordon as having “some of the knowing, pleasurable giddiness of the fast-moving Bonds…The director, Mike Hodges, gets right into comic-strip sensibility and pacing“.
She also stated the movie was “Like a fairy tale set in a discotheque in the clouds.”
On their syndicated TV program Siskel and Ebert were giving films a Yes or No at that time before their now iconic thumbs up or down.
Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune did not care for it. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it a borderline Yes vote citing the fun comic book nature of the movie.
In homage to the serial chapters of the 1930’s the film version was produced in strong primary colors and utilized Chroma Key effects.
Chroma key compositing, or chroma keying, is a visual-effects and post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on colour hues (chroma range). The technique has been used in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture, and video game industries.
All of the space craft were done this way. Flash Gordon riding a Hawkman rocket cycle was also accomplished with this method as seen below. War Rocket Ajax, Vultan’s Cloud City and Flash with the Hawkmen approaching Mingo City are all Chroma Key images.
The lavishly produced feature included giant set pieces adapted directly from the pages of Alex Raymond’s work partly as homage and because the formula worked!
I love the film as much as Rocky Horror loyalists. I can quote dialogue from any scene. This section brings us to my favourite parts of the film. A bit tricky because I really do enjoy all of it. Here goes…
In The Court Of Ming The Merciless at the point in which are trio from Earth first encounter all the ‘breeds’ of Mongo. This set is enormous. Ming’s throne looks like the inspiration for the Iron Throne on a certain HBO series.
Each ‘breed’ of Mongo gets introduced. Gathering in Court to present their tributes to the Emperor we see rivalries between Hawkmen and Treemen as the two groups argue over who stole their tribute!
The image seen above is a fish-eye view of the court. Unknown to me as a kid but later appreciated as a film student that Flash Gordon utilized the Todd–AO camera system. At the time of filming in 1979 this was the state of the art widescreen format. Everything about the film is grand scale for a timeless adventure.
The Palace of Prince Vultan and his Hawkmen.
Initiation on Arboria where Prince Barin rules his treemen there is a rite of passage that all youth must experience. Within a warren of hollow tree stumps lives a beast in which the initiate must reach all the way in full arms length. If you choose the wrong path the beast will bite injecting the victim with deadly venom. The result is pain so awful the victim begs for death. Barin forces Flash to take this test in order to live.
Above in this gallery a view of Arboria against the colorful skies of Mongo, at the left bottom a birds eye view of Flash and Barin as they begin their duel, and on the right the beast that resides within the stump.
Lorenzo Semple Jr.
The dialogue in Flash Gordon was purposefully done in a tone of high corn. Movie fans always call it camp.
Having written King Kong for Dino DeLaurentiis, Lorenzo Semple Jr. was then asked to write the Flash Gordon script.
The Batman TV series of 1966 was also written by him. The camp humour of that show was revived in Flash Gordon.
To this day every fan of this movie can quote dialogue. The language is comic book affectation in my opinion.
Lines like, “We only have 14 hours to save the Earth” could only make sense in an over the top fantasy.
Original Soundtrack Music By QUEEN
Flash Gordon is the ninth studio album and first soundtrack album by the British rock band Queen, released on 8 December 1980 by EMI Records in the UK and in February 1981 by Elektra Records in the US. It was one of two film soundtracks that they produced along with Highlander. It is the soundtrack to the science fiction film Flash Gordon and features lyrics on only two tracks.
Following the success Queen had with Flash Gordon two other notable rock groups contributed to movie soundtrack albums: Toto’s music was featured in “Dune” and AC/DC’s music was heard in “Maximum Overdrive”.
This was unusual at the time. Rock groups were not generally commissioned to score films.
I walked out of the cinema with the Queen music in my head. Following a trip to a furniture store I went to a local record shop to pick up the album. Dropping the needle onto this record was such a joyful moment for me.
Then to find they had included the dialogue from the film throughout the record was such a bonus. And the package for this record was so different from all of Queen’s previous efforts. It included an insert with a full colour image of Ming on one side and the lyrics for Flash and The Hero plus album credits on the other in red and yellow.
Seen above are the inner sleeve of the soundtrack featuring images of Queen on on side and the international cast on the other with a die cut in the center that lines up with the custom label featuring the logo.
For whatever reason the American version of this record did not have the die cut hole. The center was left intact so you lost the custom label peaking out effect.
Years later DJ Vanguard released a special re-mix of the single Flash.
On what turned out to be Queen’s final American Tour with Freddie & John in the Summer of 1982 Flash opened their shows followed by a performance of The Hero at the top of their setlist.
Flash Gordon Memorabilia
From the original 1930’s film serials to the 1980 feature to today the Flash Gordon franchise has produced a large array of collectibles.
In the 1930’s there were tin wind–up toys of spaceships from Flash Gordon and miniature figures in tins.
In the decades that followed numerous Sunday comic strips were published weekly. Comic Books, Toys, Figures, Posters, Trading Cards, Candy, Mugs, T-Shirts, Keychains, Magnets, and on and on and on.
Above are images of collectibles relating to the Flash Gordon franchise. On the Top Left are Flash and Ming figures with fold out Vultan’s Cloud Palace backdrop from Biff!Bang!Pow!
On the Top Right an early Pop-Up Book.
On the bottom Left a Lionman figure from Mattel based upon the Filmation animated series in 1979 on NBC.
Middle Right is a Viewmaster pack with 21 stereoscopic images also from the cartoon. And the bottom Right is a volume collecting Sunday comic strips of Flash Gordon now published by Titan books. There are 4 volumes in this series.
Flash Gordon books and magazines have been published over the past 70 years. In this gallery seen above notice the Mad Magazine clone Crazy with its parody of the movie!
The 1980 movie spawned several comic book adaptations, a novelization, poster books, and recently a graphic novel from Dynamite press called Zeitgeist.
Both DC & Marvel have published Flash Gordon comics at some point.
Archie Meets Flash Gordon in New Crossover One-Shot. Archie Comics has announced a new crossover one-shot with Flash Gordon, that was to hit comic shops back in June of this year.
Pulp Fiction is a term used to describe a huge amount of creative writing available to the American public in the early nineteen-hundreds. Termed “pulp magazines” because of the low quality paper used between the covers, these publications proliferated in the nineteen-thirties and nineteen-forties and beyond.
Flash Gordon was the subject of several pulp series sold in drugstores and book shops. The gallery seen below features some of the covers published. There were even Flash Gordon Flip-books! There the small sized books that you flipped pages fast to create the illusion of motion! Checker books’ collections of Alex Raymond strips in full color featured The Ice Worlds of Mongo.