Music Lover’s Gift Guide

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There are plenty of gifts for the music lover on your list. Here are just some of the items you might gift this season.

For Rolling Stones Fans this year marks the first holiday season of the new Rolling Stones shop on Carnaby Street, UK. You can order gifts online too!

The Rolling Stones: GHS T-Shirt Bundle 4
40th Anniversary Goats Head Soup Bundle featuring alternative album art Tee in L/ XL for $136.

For Elton John Fans. 100 Piece Puzzle of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Album Art.

For Bob Dylan Fans. Limited edition Moleskine notebooks featuring quotes and images of Mr. D. The price range is $22 to $37. Available at http://www.walmart.com

Moleskine  Bob Dylan Limited Edition Notebook -  Violet
Moleskine  Bob Dylan Limited Edition Notebook -  Violet
See the source image

For AC/DC fans. A Tri—Fold Wallet with chain and key fob.

Tri—fold wallet. $22.99 on Amazon.

For Metallica Fans. The band’s award-winning Blackened brand whiskey now with their new S&M2 Playlist! http://www.blackenedwhiskey.com $51.99 a bottle.

Limited Edition S&M2 Batch 106, featuring
the Metallica & San Francisco Symphony S&M2 playlist.
An award-winning blend of bourbons & ryes, finished in black brandy casks and complete with a collectible BLACKENED X S&M2 box!

Metallica and Nixon Watches. $125.

Nixon Time Teller, Black / Hardwired
Metallica Hard-Wired Edition.

Classic Rock Music: Rock Clothing & Merchandise | Hot Topic

For David Bowie Fans. This long-sleeve is available online at Hot Topic for $30.91.

Alladin Sane Long-Sleeve. $30.91.

For Queen Fans. A selection of 3 Calendars! http://www.Queenonline.com $14.99 Each.

New Queen and Freddie Mercury 2021 Calendars are now available in the Official QueenOnline Store.  The Queen calendar also comes as a Collectors Edition Record Sleeve shaped version with a Greatest Hits 2 album cover. $14.99 each.

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. 

Exclusively available on Amazon. The perfume is $30 per bottle.

Photo by Steven Klein. Eau de Gaga is the second fragrance created by American singer Lady Gaga. The announcement and details of the fragrance were announced on her Haus Laboratories website. The fragrance’s notes include white violet, lime, and leather, and it is marketed as being suitable for both men and women.

Lady Gaga Fame Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 1 Ounce $139.99

Fame Perfume.

Brand: Jitonrad

Julien’s Auctions

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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.”

Connect with Julien’s Auctions at
https://www.facebook.com/JuliensAuctions
or www.twitter.com/JuliensAuctions
or www.instagram.com/juliens_auctions.

World Animal Day

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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. 

World Animal Day 2020 Fundraiser – Sneak Preview

https://www.morrisonhotelgallery.com/collections/uBtQkK/World-Animal-Day-Fundraiser-for-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                       

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)

Stones Open A Store

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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 is a product of the group’s long-term deal with UMG inked in 2018, which encompasses the band’s recorded-music and audio-visual catalogs, archival support, global merchandising and brand management.

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

Backstage Access

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.

Freddie Mercury at Wembley Stadium 1986 by Neal Preston is $800.
Led Zeppelin by Bob Gruen is $400.

Elton John’s Jewels

Coming in November, this new career—spanning set features 60 unreleased tracks!

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.”

The box is available on November 13. Click here for a preview: https://youtu.be/74PNORDK8lo

ELW Photography #8

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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.

SoHo

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.

Riverdale, NY

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…

Thank you for visiting Evan’s Gate!

See you next week as September arrives…

Band of Misfits

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Queen formed in 1971. Their debut album was released in 1973. Several major labels turned them down. For 20 years Queen were: (L)—(R): Roger Taylor, drums/vocals, John Deacon, bass, Freddie Mercury, Lead vocals/piano, and Brian May, Guitar/vocals

The year was 1979. A pre-adolescent boy who was collecting his first records discovered a mail-order music club. Offering 14 LP’s for a penny as their introductory hook was too good to pass up. When the records arrived I opened up the albums with great anticipation.

I was always eclectic in my tastes for music. There was Waylon Jennings, Aerosmith, Jackson 5, and Queen among the selections. The record with the biggest impact was Queen Live Killers, a gatefold 2 LP package with a collage of full color images from their European and North American Tour in support of their Jazz record.

There on full display was Freddie Mercury in tight black PVC pants and jacket (shiny like leather) with his jacket open to reveal a bare chest. Unknown to me at the time was the cabaret style he was doing. This was a new image for him in 1978/9.

All I know is the first time I saw an image of Freddie Mercury was a poster from their ‘Opera’ Tour. His penchant for stripping onstage thrilled me to no end. Onstage in candy stripe shorts and red suspenders with the band’s logo in the center of the poster. My eyes popped out of my head like a cartoon wolf.

Although years later I heard how much the band disliked the mix of the record I felt strongly it was a great representation of their live sound. I loved how they played a medley of hits too.

I was taken aback by how different the songs sounded in a live setting. Nothing like the studio engineered layers of over dubs or multi-tracked vocals.

Except for a brief spell following the release of their bio-picture, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I have never lost interest in them. That brief interlude was caused by too many kids finding them based on their parent’s tastes. Hey, that’s life!

For many years it was hard to find any Queen memorabilia in the states. I know this sounds crazy to the listeners of today. There are websites. Obviously there is the Queen Online Store which always has a great selection of Queen everything.

Back in the 1980s in America after their popularity fell away we had record stores and rock t shirt stores. Freddie Mercury’s most dramatic transformation into gay clone in 1980 was not appreciated by a largely straight audience.

Despite the huge success of The Game in ’80, the band ended their decade long relationship with Elektra records. The label released a Greatest Hits album in 1981. At the time it felt like rock fans were putting Queen out to pasture. Their Elektra years were ending.

‘Another One Bites The Dust’ by bassist John Deacon borrowed heavily from Chic. Becoming the best-selling single in Elektra’s history it topped The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’, which gave the band an idea that funk rock was gaining traction in America.

The fact that Queen were in Munich, Germany enjoying the nightlife a bit too much influenced the next platter a lot. Freddie Mercury without stating it officially was out to anyone with two eyes, especially if you were gay.

What happened next was a mix of bad timing and trends that would exile Queen from the USA until well after Mercury’s death in 1991. In fact when he died I remember a news anchor stating there was bad news for fans of Queens. Queens? That was how out of touch our media were with Mercury’s death.

Rolling Stone magazine was never particularly kind to Queen. Freddie’s Obit was a single page in an issue with Michael Jackson on the cover. He was not an American star. I felt that kept the band’s mystique intact.

‘Hot Space’ was the final record owed to Elektra. The band never conformed to what their label wanted especially when it came to album covers. The label’s demand for a band photo was ignored for years. Greatest Hits has a portrait of the band taken by Lord Snowden. It has become an iconic image. The label got their wish granted by contractual obligation.

Freddie Mercury had a brief friendship with Michael Jackson. Mr. Jackson was a huge Queen fan. He was the impetous for releasing ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ as a single. Queen had a #1 hit with it. The new direction was clear for at least Freddie Mercury and John Deacon.

Freddie and John developed a friendship over the years based upon a mutual love for Motown music. The divide in Queen was clear. Brian loved heavy guitar driven music. Roger was into Punk then New Wave. Swaying him into drum techniques outside of traditional rock was done.

In the early days when they were in college the members of Queen were united in their dreams of rock stardom. As they grew in stature with the the rock audience experimenting with different sounds became a reality. Roger Taylor’s ‘Fun It’ was funky and danceable. This song in particular made me think it was not such a big deal for the band to express more of a funk beat in 1982.

Freddie’s single, ‘Bicycle Race’ actually incorporated rap within the track. Both songs were on Jazz. That title was a huge deal. A band that mixed every musical element in its music now titled a record for a specific genre. However, being the academically minded nerds that they were the name also meant calling the collection by a moniker that had many facets to it. Like the name Queen itself.

Change is inevitable. Every band faces it. Fortunately for Queen they were a big band by the time they grew out of their excessive 1970s persona. They could not be pigeonholed. Freddie Mercury never believed in doing anything by half-measure. He took every idea to its maximum. This attitude created amazing songs and music videos. The latter would compound their loss of popularity in America.

As a gay kid Queen were my idols. I bought every album as they were released starting with the #1 Game record. The video for the song, ‘Play The Game’, revealed a cropped haircut and mustache for the first time. I loved it. American fans hated it.

When ‘Hot Space’ came there was no doubt in the band’s new look and direction. Funk, dance, and disco were now emphasized. Even Brian May’s guitar was absent on some tracks, most notably the single ‘Body Language’ by Freddie Mercury. Pushing sexual boundaries the explicit video got banned by MTV. The sales dropped from the prior ‘Game’ LP and the tour proved to be the last in America with Freddie and John.

Throughout the 1980s I knew it was uncool to love Queen. I could understand why they lost their mojo with America. Homophobia was rampant. Conservatism was in power. New Wave and Heavy Metal dominated. Pop music developed new icons Madonna, Prince, and Duran Duran. Queen were the past, a relic of the 1970s. Despite releasing more records that hit #1 throughout the world, the USA would never allow them back into the Top 10. From Hot Space, ‘Body Language’ was the highest charting single in the US at #11.

Everywhere else in the world Queen kept selling records and tours. This was painful to me because I knew I missed my only chance to see them in concert with Freddie and John.

Back tracking here. In the 1970s I was a kid. Every Sunday I read the Times’ Arts section. There were ads for Broadway shows, movies, and rock concerts. I noticed that Queen played the Garden practically every year.

Then one fateful day following the debut of ‘Hot Space’ the Arts section had a full page ad for QUEEN Live In Concert with Special Guest Billy Squier at Madison Square Garden! Their faces appeared across the page in the Warhol—inspired, Freddie designed graphics of the album.

This was not the original Times ad but the graphics are the same. Queen played Madison Square Garden in early July for Hot Space. The set list was fantastic. The live album Queen On Fire Live At The Bowl from Milton Keynes, U.K. is my favourite Queen live album—not on vinyl in US yet.

I begged my parents to let me go see them. Nobody would take me. Back in the early 80’s tickets were like $12! Still in that time parents were not keen on their kids’ love of rock music. I have never gotten over the disappointment of missing this tour.

The opener was Billy Squier! I still love his music. Back in 1982 I was mental for both Squier and Queen. In the 1970s, Thin Lizzy, Styx, and Journey opened for Queen.

It proved to be their last here until Paul Rodgers joined them decades later in the naughts.

America ignored A Kind Of Magic and The Miracle. Both albums were enormous sellers around the globe even hitting # 1 in several countries like the UK, Japan, France, New Zealand, Australia, and Netherlands. The Magic Tour of 1986 became a record called Live Magic. The Tour and record followed Live Aid in 1985.

‘Magic’ was also partly the soundtrack for the fantasy film “Highlander”. Like “Flash Gordon” before it loved by Queen fans, loathed by others. The American sitcom “The Goldbergs” actually did an episode that featured Highlander and one of its stars, Clancy Brown who was now a regular on the series.

I never lost my love for music, especially Queen. They were misfits. Remaining so throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The critics never really appreciated them. Only after the death of Freddie Mercury from bronchial pneumonia brought on by HIV/AIDS in November 1991 had the press expressed any love for him. Freddie was a Jimi Hendrix fan. He understood how much an artist’s value increases upon death. He lived life his way. A true rocker.

Being a gay kid in the 70s was amazing and scary. There were so many great looking boys. And the hippie 60’s had a lot of left over guys who sported long-hair. And going shirtless was part of street style. And rock stars were no exception.

Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and every other frontman have appeared shirtless on stage. Then along came South African born Freddie Mercury! He took the image to a completely different level. He performed a striptease!

Loving Queen was difficult. I had my first rock music tee featuring the band from 1977. Wearing it to camp one day I got called a faggot. The group had become stigmatized by straight kids who hated Mercury’s effeminate posturing. The rock press had a field day with his sexual escapades. The worst magazine coverage for any artist I have ever seen was Creem, a rock rag from the 1970s and ’80s.

They did a story on Queen that was not a story. It was just the magazine hating Freddie and Queen. Anti—gay comments filled their coverage. Truly shocking to me.

Queen made their only appearance on American TV live on SNL’s Season Premiere with Host Chevy Chase. He hosted remotely from LA as a joke. Today this would be protocol. Danny DeVito introduced Queen. Performing 2 songs: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” a #1 hit in America and “Under Pressure”. Freddie’s voice was in the low register only. Years later I read he was recovering from a cold when the band appeared on the show. This was not a good time for them.

Back to their transformation from 1970s glam to 1980s pop. Following the commercial failure of Hot Space which still went Gold in America, the band signed to Capitol Records in North America. They even recorded for the first time in Los Angeles. ‘The Works’ album featured all the trademarks of their sound with Brian’s guitar blaring and Roger’s drums more upfront. Then another music video did them more cultural harm.

John Deacon’s ‘I Want To Break Free’ was made into a video that parodied the British soap opera Coronation Street. It featured the band in drag! Not Freddie’s idea. In the USA once again MTV banned them. Momentum killed.

Although the album was a return to form with hard rockers like Brian May’s ‘Hammer To Fall’ the top ten eluded them in America. Roger’s anthem ‘Radio GaGa’ peaked outside the top ten stalling at #16.

I still believe Queen were ignored. Punished for Freddie’s unapologetic gay image. Other British bands from the 1970s did not suffer this fate—Genesis released pop music—Pink Floyd went pop—and The Who also went pop. Rolling Stones released a cover of the song ‘Harlem Shuffle’ which was totally their worst.

Why was Queen singled out? Strong expressions of gay sexuality were taboo in the states. Despite being multi–faceted Queen had only the one face in America. Flamboyant is code for gay. Liberace had the straight audience believing what they wanted to believe. Freddie did not suffer fools.

I went to Giants Stadium to see Pink Floyd, Genesis , The Who, and Rolling Stones on separate tours during the ’80’s. Their music was not very good at the time. It was crazy to me that Queen did not tour here. My theory was that Freddie’s HIV status prevented them from playing here. Sad but true.

In my teenage years I knew many people who were either indifferent to my love of their music or could not get into it. And a lot of the time gay people fit their stereotype with a love for disposable pop or dance tracks. I can tell you the Hot Space CD was on a jukebox in a gay bar.

Hot Space cover designed by Freddie Mercury. Like a Warhol silkscreen.

The Queen album most likely to be on any jukebox was Greatest Hits. Unfortunate since I always thought they had great songs that were never going to be hits. No doubt about the high number of singles/hits in their catalog. Later in this blog post I have listed my all–time favourite Queen songs.

Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, and Twisted Sisted were all influenced by Queen. The lead vocalists of those groups wore even more make-up than Freddie! Yet since they were hard rock/metal Americans accepted them. The make-up bands of the period were largely from America. Paradoxically this is also when the biggest make-up band ever, KISS, took their make-up off!

Unknown at the time that Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) and Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) were in the crowd that saw Queen open for Mott the Hoople at New York’s Uris theater on Broadway, it makes perfect sense.

Until the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley stadium few Americans understood just how much Queen had influenced the heavy bands of the 80’s. The line-up featured England’s Def Leppard, America’s Guns N Roses and Extreme alongside Elton John, George Michael, and David Bowie. Eclectic to the end Queen also invited Freddie’s main influence, Liza Minnelli to the proceedings. He got so much ridicule from the press for loving Liza as well as Hendrix.

I believe today that Queen got into my marrow, my DNA because their image and music were original. Upsetting the status quo was part of their appeal. Decades after his death the film of his life was a blockbuster. He kept the mystique. Proving that no other rock performer could rival him, Queen became paragons of rock music. Today their legacy has grown in leaps and bounds.

Taking them into my heart has kept me alive too. Queen have a few explicit anti—suicide songs. Mercury admitted in his final days that the image he worked so hard to build became somewhat of a monster to his personal life. Becoming less active, meeting a man named Jim Hutton who became his partner until the end was his ultimate goal.

For the first time since reading several biographies about Freddie I understand why ‘Somebody To Love’ was a personal favorite. Love is what we all need to survive. Take a listen to the many tortured love ballads he wrote and performed. His delivery is genuine. That’s also why it touched me so deeply.

I think it’s why I met my beloved husband Brian. I love him more than anything. He has made my life the best possible. Our mutual love of music with great singers has created a bond.

Here for the first time I have compiled my list of personal favourite Queen tracks. B-Sides and rarities are not included here. They are taken from the 15 studio albums released from 1973—1995.

My Favourite Queen songs of all-time

  • My Fairy King by Freddie Mercury on Queen
  • Great King Rat by Freddie Mercury on Queen
  • Liar by Freddie Mercury on Queen
  • Nevermore by Freddie Mercury on II
  • The Fairy—Feller’s Master Stroke by Freddie Mercury on II
  • Ogre Battle by Freddie Mercury on II
  • The March of the Black Queen by Freddie Mercury on II
  • Seven Seas Of Rhye by Freddie Mercury on II
  • Doing Alright by Brian May & Tim Staffell on Queen
  • Lily of the Valley by Freddie Mercury on II
  • Now I’m Here by Brian May on Sheer Heart Attack
  • Brighton Rock by Brian May on Sheer Heart Attack
  • Killer Queen by Freddie Mercury on Sheer Heart Attack
  • Bring Back That Leroy Brown by Freddie Mercury on Sheer Heart Attack
  • Stone Cold Crazy by Mercury, Deacon, Taylor, & May on Sheer Heart Attack
  • Flick of the Wrist by Freddie Mercury on Sheer Heart Attack
  • Misfire by John Deacon on Sheer Heart Attack
  • Bohemian Rhapsody by Freddie Mercury on A Night At The Opera
  • 39 by Brian May on A Night At The Opera
  • The Prophet’s Song by Brian May on A Night At The Opera
  • You’re My Best Friend by John Deacon on A Night At The Opera
  • The Millionaire Waltz by Freddie Mercury on A Day At The Races
  • White Man by Freddie Mercury on A Day At The Races
  • You and I by John Deacon on A Day At The Races
  • We Will Rock You by Brian May on News Of The World
  • We Are The Champions by Freddie Mercury on News Of The World
  • Sheer Heart Attack by Roger Taylor on News Of The World
  • Fight From The Inside by Roger Taylor on News Of The World
  • Spread Your Wings by John Deacon on News Of The World
  • It’s Late by Brian May on News Of The World
  • My Melancholy Blues by Freddie Mercury on News Of The World
  • Jealousy by Freddie Mercury on Jazz
  • In Only Seven Days by John Deacon on Jazz
  • Dead On Time by Brian May on Jazz
  • Dreamer’s Ball by Brian May on Jazz
  • Don’t Stop Me Now by Freddie Mercury on Jazz
  • Dragon Attack by Brian May on The Game
  • Play The Game by Freddie Mercury on The Game
  • Rock It (Prime Jive) by Roger Taylor on The Game
  • Don’t Try Suicide by Freddie Mercury on The Game
  • Another One Bites The Dust by John Deacon on The Game
  • Flash by Brian May on Flash Gordon soundtrack
  • The Hero by Freddie Mercury on Flash Gordon soundtrack
  • Football Fight by Freddie Mercury (Instrumental) on Flash Gordon soundtrack
  • Battle Theme by Brian May (Instrumental) on Flash Gordon soundtrack
  • Staying Power by Freddie Mercury on Hot Space
  • Dancer by Brian May on Hot Space
  • Back Chat by John Deacon on Hot Space
  • Action This Day by Roger Taylor on Hot Space
  • Put Out The Fire by Brian May on Hot Space
  • Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie on Hot Space
  • Las Palabras De Amor (The Words Of Love) by Brian May on Hot Space
  • Machines (or Back To Humans) by Brian May & Roger Taylor on The Works
  • Radio GaGa by Roger Taylor on The Works
  • Keep Passing The Open Windows by Freddie Mercury on The Works
  • I Want To Break Free by John Deacon on The Works
  • Hammer To Fall by Brian May on The Works
  • Is This The World We Created…? by Brian May & Freddie Mercury on The Works
  • Man On The Prowl by Freddie Mercury on The Works
  • One Vision by Queen on A Kind Of Magic
  • A Kind Of Magic by Roger Taylor on A Kind Of Magic
  • One Year Of Love by John Deacon on A Kind Of Magic
  • Pain Is So Close To Pleasure by John Deacon & Freddie Mercury on A Kind Of Magic
  • Friends Wil Be Friends by Freddie Mercury & John Deacon on A Kind Of Magic
  • Don’t Lose Your Head by Roger Taylor on A Kind Of Magic
  • Princes Of The Universe by Freddie Mercury on A Kind Of Magic
  • Breakthru by Queen on The Miracle
  • The Invisible Man by Queen on The Miracle
  • Rain Must Fall by Queen on The Miracle
  • Scandal by Queen on The Miracle
  • Was It All Worth It by Queen on The Miracle
  • Innuendo by Queen on Innuendo
  • I’m Going Slightly Mad by Queen on Innuendo
  • I Can’t Live With You by Queen on Innuendo
  • Ride The Wild Wind by Queen on Innuendo
  • The Show Must Go On by Queen on Innuendo

In 1995 Queen released Made In Heaven which re-worked some of Freddie’s songs from his solo debut Mr. Bad Guy. The record featured Mercury’s final songs. “A Winter’s Tale” was his last composition. The lyrics described Montreaux, Switzerland in his final days. The list of my all-time Queen songs continues below with the band’s posthumous release.

  • Mother Love by Freddie Mercury & Brian May on Made In Heaven —This was the last track he recorded.
  • A Winter’s Tale by Freddie Mercury on Made In Heaven

Queen Retired—Legacy Grew

My least favorite Queen album, Made in Heaven, was followed by years of inactivity. Then in America TV commercials began licensing their hits. LA Gear used We Will Rock You; Diet Coke used I Want To Break Free; Mountain Dew used Bohemian Rhapsody even copying the now iconic promo clip. These are just a few examples.

From 2004—2009 Queen added Paul Rodgers of Bad Company to their line-up. He was one of Freddie’s favorite singers. In the 1960’s he fronted Free. In the 1980’s he fronted The Firm with Led Zep’s Jimmy Page.

Brian May, Paul Rodgers, and Roger Taylor. Queen 2.0

The Queen+Paul Rodgers tours would return Queen to North America for the first time in 20 years! I never missed a show in New York. However, this line-up never played The Garden.

Queen+Paul Rodgers released a studio album, The Cosmos Rocks. There was a live album too.

American Idol, a talent search reality series would enable a meeting that was pure fate. Adam Lambert, an American youth who was also out auditioned by singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Queen are his favorite group. Idol invited Brian May and Roger Taylor to perform with the show’s 3 finalists for its season finale. Adam came in second but in my opinion he really won.

Eventually Queen would announce touring with Adam Lambert fronting the group. It was made explicit that he would never replace Freddie Mercury. For the past decade now known as Queen+Adam Lambert touring the globe again.

Queen 3.0 has become the juggernaut that fans across the globe celebrate. The show has finally gone beyond the original line—up!

And this line-up brought Queen back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since Hot Space! The setlist celebrated the band’s live at the Rainbow concert in support of Sheer Heart Attack. They opened with II’s ‘Procession’ and Sheer Heart Attack’s ‘Now I’m Here’.

Adam Lambert has released new solo records while touring with Queen. He sang ‘Believe’ at the Kennedy Center Honors bringing Cher to tears!

His presence on stage is truly a sight to behold. Bringing back the flamboyance of Mercury without mimicking his moves. Adam’s voice is his own unique stamp. He can sing any Queen tune. He has a new album out now called Velvet.

The shows proved so successful that Queen returned to celebrate their News of the World album next time around. Complete with Frank the Robot in full mascot mode. Opening their shows with ‘We Will Rock You’ like they did in 1977. Brian May performed his solo against a backdrop of stars fitting for an astrophysicist.

Their current tour is centered around the global success of the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” which tells Freddie’s story. Albeit with a completely incorrect timeline of events to create a cohesive cinema narrative.

In Freddie’s brilliant words it has been no bed of roses for Queen. For 20 years, 1971—1991, they reigned with the same line—up of 4 creative songwriters with extremely different personalities. Fans felt proud of their achievements.

Then the untimely death of Mercury from AIDS in November 1991. Queen ended. I always thought they could continue if the right elements fell into place.

Elton John performed with them during a final concert as Queen. Mr. John sang ‘The Show Must Go On”. He encouraged Brian and Roger to find a way. He said of their catalog of hits: ‘it must be like having a Rolls-Royce in the garage that you cannot drive anymore.”

Having them back today means so much to me. I want Queen to go on forever…

In my lifetime I have not played another artists music as often as Queen. They have rescued me many times with their life affirming works.

I have many other favourite music groups: Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Judas Priest, Styx, and Elton John.

The Queen sound is unique and original. Their music is not rock nor disco nor black nor white. It’s Queen music.

The Queen catalog has sold over 300 million records worldwide. They are tied with The Allman Brothers Band at #52 on Rolling Stone’s list of Best Artists.

This image of the Classic Queen Line—Up on the Rolling Stone List of Best Artists.

In England Queen Greatest Hits is the top selling record in British music history. Greatest Hits II is #10.

The Queen studio album catalog seen below does not include The Cosmos Rocks. That album featured Paul Rodgers.

The Queen studio album catalog is seen here. All 15 LP covers. The final album with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon was Made In Heaven released in 1995. It blows my mind how all of their records are now iconic.

Waxing Rhapsodic

Today the world is quite different then the early 1970’s. The band’s legacy has become it’s own cottage industry. The Queen Online website is updated every day. The Online Store has a line of goods that any fan would enjoy.

The Royal Mint in the U.K. has issued Queen coins in sterling; The Royal Mail will issue Queen stamps on July 9th, 2020 featuring 8 album covers including The Game and News Of The World and a set of 4 concert images from their world tours plus a proper band portrait as seen below.

Queen become the third British band to receive this honour following The Beatles and Pink Floyd.

The sterling pound coins feature the band’s instruments and their logo. The piano has three keys shaded to mark the notes in Bohemian Rhapsody. Above you can see all 4 packet designs. A mini poster and full colour images and text about Queen are included. The coins are a singular design with the Queen on the back of each.

Queen have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They were inducted into the songwriters hall of fame and most recently were given a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” became the highest grossing bio picture of all–time. Rami Malek won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury.

The film won a Golden Globe for Best Picture.

On YouTube Queen+Adam Lambert released a new version of their classic “We Are The Champions” called “You Are The Champions” to help raise funds for Covid—19 relief workers via The World Health Organization and U.N.

Drummer and Vocalist Roger Taylor’s daughter appears in the video. She is a nurse!

To see this mobile phone created clip click here: https://youtu.be/7LcLqIHzNkY

This Fall two new books will be published: Neal Preston’s Queen photos from their Tours and The Treasures of Queen.

2021 marks the group’s 50th Anniversary.

Don’t stop them now!

Dear Readers

Thank you for reading my blog! To all my new readers, Welcome!

More Queen band features to come. Next week I will continue my posts featuring my photography.

Stay well! Wear a mask.

Superman is 80

The summer of 1939 was a milestone in American entertainment.

The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind premiered in movie theaters.

Superman made his first appearance in Action Comics.

In the first story told by creators Joe Schuster & Jerry Siegel our hero could not fly! He could jump a building in a single bound and lift cars over his head.

Over the next 7 decades there would be many creative teams assigned to Superman. In recent times DC comics restarted their comics at issue #1. So many changes over time. I will relate what Superman meant to me as a kid and now.

Television, Movies, Comic Books, and collectibles are the focus of this entry. Just some memories of how this character impacted my life.

In my early childhood television showed reruns of series broadcast in the 1950s and 1960s. There were sitcoms like “I Love Lucy”, “Father Knows Best”, “Dennis The Menace”, and “Bewitched”, sci-fi like “Star Trek” and “Lost In Space”, and then there was a comic book based series—-“The Adventures of Superman”.

I remember watching this series in black and white. George Reeves played Clark Kent/Superman and Noel Neill played Lois Lane. The opening titles were great. A voice over coupled with images described his powers as “faster than a speeding bullet, strength like a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s a bird, no..it’s a plane..no..it’s Superman!

Super TV

Watching all episodes of the series made me want to read the comic magazines from DC. The impact this made on me as a child was greater than the mark made when Jor-El, Son of Krypton, crash lands on the Kent farm in Smallville.

Described as mild mannered Clark Kent, he would report for the Daily Planet newspaper. His change into Superman was Clark dashing into a storage room at the newspaper or using a phone booth. He would loosen his tie and remove his eye glasses to cue the audience.

The narrative importance was lost on me back then but today has great meaning. The creators were Jewish kids from Ohio who used the ultimate immigrant story, Jesus or Moses, as their source material.

Like Moses placed in a basket, the baby Jor-El is placed in a space capsule. He is launched into space to escape the destruction of the planet by their sun. The baby lands on earth. Raised on a farm by the Kents, his secret is kept by them.

When Clark matures he is sent to the big city to begin a mission to “fight for truth, justice, and the American way” as Superman. The costume is made by his surrogate mother. The ‘S’ on the Chevron is a Kryptonian letter meaning hope. The comic books were crucial in discovering all of the details in this narrative.

You can see why these ideas would sail over the head of a child. The adventure was good enough for my imagination. The effects of flying were all done by green screen on TV. Superman flew at steep angles due to this limitation in effects. The sound mix was cool. Right before he flew Superman would take a few running steps then a sound effect would cue us sitting at home. It sounded like a lid being released from a power vacuum.

Super Animation

Through animation Superman became the hero you saw in print.

The Max Fleischer series was captivating. In the 1970s the Saturday morning series, “Superfriends” added Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman to the mix. As a kid I loved the cartoon, but later appreciated the animated series to be quite superior in quality.

Super Movies

In 1978 Warner Brothers brought Superman to the silver screen. Christopher Reeve, a mild mannered star of stage, became a movie star. Margot Kidder was Lois Lane. Gene Hackman played Lex Luthor. Ned Beatty as Otis, the dimwitted sidekick. Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Editor of the Daily Planet. And perhaps the greatest feat of casting at the time—Marlon Brando as Superman’s father.

The movie featured a score by John Williams (Jaws, Close Encounters, E.T., Indiana Jones, and many more classics) that was groundbreaking. His “Superman March” would stay as the theme of the series to come. There were 3 sequel episodes.

In the debut feature the arch villain Lex Luthor plans to blow up the San Andreas fault in Southern California to trigger a devastating earthquake. Lois meets Clark. Lois interviews Superman. The Fortress of Solitude is introduced.

Superman II brought back the entire principal cast. It focused on the three Kryptonian villains sentenced to eternity in the Phantom Zone at the start of the previous film.

Superman saves the Earth from a hydrogen bomb at the Eiffel Tower. He hurls the device into deep space. The ripples of the shock wave caused by detonation shatter the Phantom Zone barrier. Ursa, Non, and General Zod are set free with the same powers as Superman.

Terence Stamp (Billy Budd, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) is imprinted in my memory forever as Zod. Commanding all of humanity to “kneel before Zod” as he takes control of Washington, DC is quite a scene.

Despite Superman III being quite comic with Richard Pryor the story lacks in compelling elements. And Superman IV—The Quest For Peace is just dull. The franchise went dormant after this series. The next feature, “Superman Returns” featured newcomer, Brandon Routh. Then more recently, Henry Cavill starred in “Man Of Steel”.

There were crossover features like “Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League” that failed to catch the public imagination. The future of this character is more certain in the weeklies published. The movies are demanding. In my opinion, the impression made by Christopher Reeve was indelible.

The late Christopher Reeve is my Superman.

In my young adulthood the man of steel returned to the small screen. ABC TV ran “Lois & Clark” Starring Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. Comic book artist John Byrne’s modern retelling of Superman’s origin where Clark is the dominant personality was the series’ inspiration.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 12: LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN – Pilot – 9/12/93, The “Superman” story, focusing primarily on the relationship between Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman/The Man of Steel (Dean Cain), and his fellow reporter Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher), continued in this 1993-97 ABC series. In the two-part pilot, the reporters worked on a story about the space program being hijacked., (Photo by Bob D’Amico/ABC via Getty Images)

John Shea played Lex Luthor as a business tycoon with unethical methods. Lane Smith was Editor Perry White. The role of Jimmy Olsen changed hands from Michael Landes to Justin Whalin after season one. The show would run from September 1993 thru June 1997.

Super Culture

Since his first appearance on a comic book page 80 years ago Superman has become an iconic presence. Thousands of books, magazines, toys, games, trading cards, playing cards, clothing, and any matter of object imprinted with his image/logo are now a billion dollar industry.

Mego toys produced Superman action figures. Ben Cooper provided Halloween costumes. Our imaginations took care of the rest.

Super Books. The panels in a comic book provide more detail than any screenplay. I did not consider the artists when I was a kid. That is a focus you do not get until you are much older.

Curt Swan drew Superman in the 1970s. This portrait of the character became the standard for modern renderings of Superman. The Mego figure was based on this look. The costume in the first 4 films were also this design.

These stories were tales of adventure no movie could ever match. The Fortress of Solitude was my favorite. Although the rendering on film was quite beautiful I prefer the detail of the page.

Thanks for Reading!

To Stream Or Not To Stream

During my childhood the long-playing record or L.P. played back on machines called Victrolas or Phonographs. These platters were the format for pre-recorded music.

You could own records for $5.99 a piece back in those days. The culture was different too. Our parents for the most part grew up in the big band era. Rock n Roll was not music for their generation. Music is directly woven into the fabric of the times in which it is recorded.

When I was a kid rock n roll was in its 3rd decade. The be-bop-a-lula of the 50s gave way to the psychedelic haze of the 60s which gave way to the glam of the 70s. Then the 80s smashed all the genres into niches. Heavy metal, New Wave, Dance, Pop, Jazz, Country, Rap, and many other musical forms energized different groups of listeners.

In the 1970s records were sold in department stores like Sears and Korvettes. Where I lived in The Bronx you could walk down to your local record shop. Broadway Records existed for many years as a provider of LP’s and a provider of concert tickets.

My first record was the soundtrack to the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back. On the RSO label, a double album with a gatefold sleeve that meant it opened up like a book to reveal an inner sleeve that contained a full color souvenir booklet of the movie! This record was $12.99. There were very few double albums for this reason during this era. I will never forget that recording.

Then I discovered Tower Records in Greenwich Village on W.4th Street. There were thousands of records. I only cared about Rock. The radio was the transmitter of music. Every kid had one. In New York City WPLJ 95.5 (which just signed off forever) was our station.

Not realizing at the time that we were not drowning in entertainment choices yet or franchises. Rock n Roll disappeared; Rock Music arrived. Rock radio promoted concerts by giving away tickets with contests. Bands appeared on radio to give interviews with local DJ’s.

I heard The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zep, and Queen for the first time this way. The Disc Jockey (DJ) decided what to play. Every new artist had their respective record labels issue a promotional only single to radio across the country. If the song was received well by listeners it became a hit.

The singles issued on miniature vinyl platters with a giant hole in the center were played at 45 r.p.m. (rotations per minute) and required an adapter to play. They cost $1 per unit. The A side was the potential hit; the B side was another track from the album being promoted.

In the record stores The Billboard Chart Hot 100 songs were displayed in order. This was how music listeners bought songs they liked. If they were really into an artist the album would be bought too.

Much pleasure came from physically going out to purchase music from a variety of chains that developed to meet the demand. Record World, Sam Goody, Disc-O-Mat, Tower, and others were fun stores to experience. The internet killed most of it. Independent record shops are still around. You can search for your local shops online.

The music we collect changes throughout our lives. I loved a multitude of artists all my life. I built a strong foundation as a kid. Although Rock was my focus I was exposed to Classical, Jazz, Opera, Folk, and Broadway show tunes thanks to my parents who had records from the 50s and 60s.

Today streaming services have become popular. At the click of a button and a reasonable monthly price the entire ocean of recordings is available to our ears. More listeners today have headphones than at any other time in history!

I have access to every record published over the last 50 years. My mistakes have led me to a musical epiphany. At first I added hundreds of titles all at once. The novelty overwhelmed me. I could have any album.

Now I only keep about 20 titles at a time. Live with them. Then decide if they are worth having on vinyl. Following 3 listens I decide if the selection will be returned to the ether or placed on a wish list for vinyl.

A subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited is $12.99 a month. A vinyl record now costs $19.95 on the low end to upwards of $35 on the high end. The new records are pressed on heavier 180 gram vinyl.

In the USA after the compact disc became the dominant format the recording industry closed many record pressing plants. Only a few exist today. Many of the vinyl records in American stores today are pressed in Europe.

To Stream or not to stream? I have adapted to every change that has developed during my life. I missed having records. The packaging is part of the experience of having music. Like my first record purchase being so memorable because of its physical contents. Digital cannot provide this satisfaction.

A stream cannot include a poster, liner notes (despite some inclusion of digital notes), images made by professional photographers, and gatefolds, pop-up or die-cut covers. There are inserts in physical copies of records.

However, because of the digital revolution I was able to learn directly from other vinyl collectors how to appreciate the contents of records. I never realized in my youth that vinyl should be kept in poly-lined sleeves. This protects them from dust. Outer jackets should be placed in protective plastic too.

Without album cover art music is dropped sometimes by surprise so artists can make an impression. Nowadays, recording artists spend years developing a new record. The streaming option makes it harder to stand out from the constant availability online.

Every rock group now considered classic has at least 3 or 4 memorable album covers. Some commissioned painters or photographers to create a defining image for their recorded works.

Roger Dean’s Yes album covers, Hipgnosis’ Pink Floyd covers, Mick Rock’s photographic covers for Queen, Blondie, and David Bowie are part of the complete package. Digital obscures these contributions.

The comments people leave online are sometimes really long. Everyone has an opinion. I write here for this reason. I feel that this format is good for expressing opinions.

I used iTunes first when it started. Artwork was not always available for each album. The liner notes were absent. After years of usage I was depressed. Music was no longer the fun it had been when the culture existed for record stores. People would share with each other their love for music.

Streaming allows for constant listening. You do not get up to flip a side or pull a record out of its sleeve. You never learn how to take care of your music except creating back up files.

The cloud is the new data storage system. Thousands upon thousands of files can be filed away in this virtual closet. In my opinion, I do not need this much capacity. Streaming has made me question just how much I can ever listen to in my lifetime.

Physical records last a lifetime. If you clean them before each use or after a hundred plays the quality will not diminish. You are forced to decide on a finite range of ownership. Then perhaps you may enjoy what you have more without constant adding.

Flea markets, record shows, and independent shops sell records cheaply. I found 2 Broadway musical film scores at a flea market for a total of $10. Both recordings were from the 50s and 60s. They still played beautifully.

Princeton Record Exchange is one of the largest on the East Coast. They have thousands of records for $1—$3. I spent $30 for 7 records this past Memorial Day. They also buy used records and collections.

The files in your computer’s cloud take up space too. I do not have the same joy from them. They are not tangible things. Who knows where these files will be in the years to come. My physical records have a place on their shelf beneath my stereo.

Discovery is streaming’s strength as a format. Each Friday new music gets released. Scroll through the selections. There is an option to sample the album or any specific song. You don’t have to download anything.

I have developed a taste for alternative artists because of streaming. Record shops have listening stations too. I think it’s much more convenient to find new music on a streaming platform.

Spotify, Pandora, Apple, and Amazon are popular today. This does not mean records are extinct. The LP is now back in vogue with young people. Their parents grew up on rock. They know classic rock. Sales of vinyl albums are way up now. Streaming is dominant but people are collecting records too.

Go on YouTube and search Vinyl Community (VC). You will find many people posting videos about records they own and those discovered at thrift shops and record stores all over the US.

I learned you do not have to choose streaming over records. I use the streaming to find records of new artists. This process leads to more ideas for my blog. I thought a lot about the pleasures of streaming and its drawbacks too.

The music business learned difficult lessons during our cultural upheavals. As a result there is less of an industry today. People seem to want things fast and cheap now. The loss in experience is hard to measure. Streaming is on the go with you everywhere. Records demand your care, attention, and effort.

I think back to 1984 when I saw those orange foam headphones of the Walkman for the first time. It was on the subway. The beginning of people using music on the go to shut out everything and everyone around them.

Today those wireless ear buds are it. Those using them look like aliens to me. I mostly listen to music at home. Sometimes I will listen on the go. Time management is much harder now.

Advanced technology is great but I feel we must strive for some type of balance. Streaming is here to stay. I feel the rise of physical fitness from the 1980s onward made it possible to sell people on portable devices for music. People use music for workouts. Runners love wireless ear buds too.

Alternative or independently made music is great on vinyl. Finding artists has never been easier to do. One of the best things about streaming is access has expanded around the world.

Because of this global reach more artists new and classic are making music using a wider variety of styles. The new Santana record, Africa Speaks, adds African rhythms to his salsa/jazz/rock combo.

Funny how new inventions make us wonder how we ever lived without them. As a person who remembers life without the internet I can attest to the fact you cannot miss what does not yet exist.

Most of us cannot live without our devices. It’s a creature comfort to know we can still rely on our past methods of playback.

Whatever new technology may lay on the horizon we should keep our love of music alive.

For the love of music keep listening whether you stream, collect vinyl or do both. I recognize it’s just a matter of preference for some. May music always be in the air for everyone. I will do a little bit of both.

More blogs to come!
Thank you for reading.

Batman Turns 80

May 1939 was the debut of The Batman in National Comics.

Bob Kane and Bill Finger introduced the world to their crimefighter 80 years ago. This blog entry are just my thoughts about the character. Caped Crusader, Dark Knight, or World’s Greatest Detective are all fitting monikers used over the years.

38 years on there would be the television debut of the Batman character in a primetime series that would air twice a week. Several episodes would be two parts long featuring a cliff-hanger ending in part 1 and concluded the next night. ABC aired the show for 3 seasons. This was my first memory of Batman. My generation saw the reruns on New York’s local stations WPIX 11 and WNEW 5 during the 1970s.

After school the reruns of Batman were always fun to watch despite not seeing the program in color as intended until the 1980s! We had a black and white set even after the networks were broadcasting in color. As a kid I did not care because the show was great. Several of the episodes were based directly on Batman comics published during the 1940s–1950s.

  • The episodes “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Smack in the Middle” were adaptations of “Remarkable Ruse of the Riddler” from Batman #171 (May 1965), written by Gardner Fox; in it, the Riddler, jealous of the attention Batman is giving the Mole Hill Mob, arranges a trap so Batman will apprehend the gang and give the Riddler the Caped Crusader’s undivided attention.
  • Many events of the episodes “The Joker Is Wild” and “Batman Is Riled” are based on the silver age comic book story “The Joker’s Utility Belt” from Batman #73 (October 1952) by David Vern Reed.
  • The episodes “Instant Freeze” and “Rats Like Cheese” were inspired by “The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero” from Batman #121 (February 1959) by Dave Wood and Sheldon Moldoff.

The series was so popular that a movie was produced for theatrical release. This would air during Superhero Week on ABC-TV’s 4:30 movie in New York. I watched it many times in my childhood.

Adam West’s Batman was funny, living pop art, and corny. For a kid it was perfect. I think the 1966 series is the most enjoyable of all the screen incarnations of the character.

The fight scenes between Batman & Robin and their nemesis plus henchmen were filmed at an oblique angle (aka Dutch) to literally show they were crooked! The animated comic balloons appeared on screen to spell out the sounds like in the comic books—Biff!, Pow!, and Splat!

The Greenway Productions team captured what comic books look like on the page. Never taking itself too seriously was the key to unlocking the imagination of its viewers. A line-up of movie stars all played the villains that to this day are hard to match. The later features on film in the 1990s attempted to place big stars as Batman and as various villains to mixed results.

On the small & big screen.
Top Row: Adam West, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale as Batman.
Bottom Row: Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Oscar Winner, the late Heath Ledger.

When the dynamic duo climbed up building walls there would be a cameo by a star or a fictional character looking out their window. They would have some chit chat that was quite funny. On YouTube their listed as “Window Cameos”.

You never knew who might open their window during a bat climb. Dick Clark meets the dynamic duo!
Edward G. Robinson makes a cameo!

Nelson Riddle provided a jazzy music score to accompany the action in Batman. Unfortunately the attempt to spin-off a Batgirl series failed.

However Green Hornet and Kato did get a full season of episodes. And the only characters billed as guest heroes! Yvonne Craig as Batgirl was the first time on television that a female superhero was featured in an ongoing role. Today, “Supergirl” is a prime-time series.

Created by William Dozier who was also the show’s narrator, Batman aired on ABC at 7:30pm between 1966—1969.
Van Williams as Green Hornet & Bruce Lee as Kato. It ran 1 season; 1966-1967.

I always thought that Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s creation had the best rogues gallery. The Joker (Cesar Romero) , The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and Catwoman (Julie Newmar) were the tops for me.

Many of the villains were taken directly from Batman comic books. There were also original characters featured since many celebrities of that time wanted to appear on the show. Milton Berle (TV’s first star) as Louie The Lilac, Carolyn Jones as Marsha Queen of Diamonds, and Victor Buono as King Tut are just a few of the many colorful villains added to the rogues gallery of Gotham.

37 villains appeared on the show. Click here for a full list: https://batman.fandom.com/wiki/Villains_of_Batman_%281960s_series%29

In 2016, television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Batman as the 82nd greatest American television show of all time.
Mr. Sepinwall is my hiusband’s cousin and the best TV critic in the USA

Because of the series I then followed animated series that featured Batman. Bob Kane created the animated series “Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse” as a comedic series based upon his Batman characters.

The catmobile would roar out of a cave with Courageous Cat pointing his sky writing gun at the sky to reveal the opening title.

Superfriends was a weekly show featured on Saturday mornings in the 1970s. I also began reading the comics. Reading the Batman comics from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970s I saw the evolution of the characters.

Frank Gorshin (Left) and John Astin (Right) as Riddler on “Batman” (1966)
Cory Michael Smith as Riddler with
Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin on “Gotham” (2019)

I found out the series’ first season made most of the episode titles rhyme, “Hi Diddle Riddle, Smack In The Middle” was the premiere. It was a 2 parter that featured Frank Gorshin as The Riddler.

Later, in the 1990s, Warners produced Batman The Animated Series featuring the voice of Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as The Joker. This show captured the noir look of the 1940s Batman.

Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated television series based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. Developed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski and produced by Warner Bros. Animation, it originally aired on Fox Kids from September 5, 1992, to September 15, 1995, with a total of 85 episodes.  For the final fifteen episodes, the series was given the on-screen title The Adventures of Batman & Robin, which was also used for reruns of earlier episodes. The series became the first in the continuity of the shared DC animated universe; spawning further animated TV series, feature films, comic books and video games with most of the same creative talent.

During the 80 years of Batman comic books different creative teams were entrusted with the growing legacy of Batman. When it began there was no Robin. The Batmobile looked different than it does now. Renderings of villains changed as well from era to era. Gadgets were added like the Bat-arang, Bat-rope, and everything else that you can think that fits his crimefighting techniques.

In the printed issues of DC comics Batman was known as The World’s Greatest Detective. Take that Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple! Then I discovered how much better the actual stories could be when produced in serial form week after week. In fact, Batman was the only prime-time show to air twice a week in its first 2 seasons other than the Soap Opera, “Peyton Place”.

The Bat-Copter, Bat-Boat, and Bat-Cycle were added over time. The series featured them when the series’ ratings began to fall in Season 3.

My first encounters with Batman on the page was in the 1970s. Neal Adams was drawing him. I was shocked how dark the stories were compared with the bright TV show. I think there are many interpretations I like but my first sight of it was that splendid TV series. The serialized format of the show evoked the movie serial of Batman appearing in theaters in the 1940s.

Just look for the word Omnibus in the title to find a collection of a specific artist.

Grant Morrison was the most recent series I read in the last few years. I loved this updated version. There was even a run of comics called “Batman Incorporated” in which every nation got their own Batman to fight crime.

Issue #1 of Batman Incorporated.

Over the last 80 years Batman has refelected our deepest fears of a world too chaotic to tame. Every generation has their Batman. For me it is the late Adam West. Then screen actor Michael Keaton starred in the feature film directed by Tim Burton in 1989. Following a sequel, “Batman Returns”, Val Kilmer (“Batman Forever”), George Clooney (“Batman & Robin”), Christian Bale (“Batman Begins”, “The Dark Knight”, and “The Dark Knight Rises”), and Ben Affleck (“Batman vs Superman”, “Justice League”) have played Batman in the movies.

Despite initial worry from fans, Michael Keaton was fine as Batman.
In 23 years time the Batcave went from technicolor to dark.
A Dark Knight of the media age emerged on screen.

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Warner Bros featured the music of Prince, their biggest music star at the time, in the film.
Despite negative critical reaction, the film was a blockbuster.

The look Warner Bros. created with Tim Burton’s dark vision of the world of Batman stood in deep contrast with the TV series. This more serious treatment would be favored in the 1990s and 2000s.

Imagination is a powerful tool that develops in childhood. I had Batman toys in the 1970s. Played out adventures with friends in the park. The reason it’s important to read at least some of the stories on the page is simply because there are thousands to choose from each decade. You can see what each passing era was like for the characters and each creative team that was used to animate the adventures.

Every time Batman celebrates a milestone anniversary the comic book shops have compilations of the best Batman stories from each decade. There have been numerous comic book series devoted to the characters featured in Batman stories. Even Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler and surrogate father had his own series of comics.

The Batman character has appeared in TV, radio and movie serials, feature films, video games and animation. When he debuted in 1939 all of the new forms he would take only happened because audiences have been attracted to the stories. The people that got Batman on the air in 1966 were fans of the character.

Where does he get those wonderful toys?” is a line from the movie “Batman” in 1989, spoken by The Joker, played by Jack Nicholson. This line is probably the most memorable in the script. It evokes the countless number of toys based on the characters in Batman produced over 8 decades. There are Billions of dollars worth of toys every year dedicated to this enduring legend.

Since the 1940s Batman action figures have been produced. Above is pictured an 8 figure tribute.

The past 5 years, “Gotham” has aired on Fox as the latest TV version of Batman. For the first time the Batman character is not shown until the final episode which just aired a few weeks ago.

Focusing on the anarchy of a city wracked by serial crime and a crimefighter named James Gordon. The origins of the classic villains are depicted. Penguin, Riddler, and Selena Kyle (Catwoman) are present during the entire series. The origins of The Joker, Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, and Bane are depicted.

The noir series was so dark I had to watch with the lights off to see it! There was a viewer discretion bumper at the beginning of every episode. The stylized violence was still the most graphic I have ever seen on a network show. The times did indeed change a lot.

Gotham is an American crime drama television series developed by Bruno Heller and based on characters published by DC Comics and appearing in the Batman franchise, primarily those of James Gordon and Bruce WayneDanny Cannon directed the pilot, and he is an executive producer along with Heller. The series stars Ben McKenzie as the young James Gordon. It premiered on Fox on September 22, 2014 and concluded on April 25, 2019.

No matter how the fortunes have changed for this enduring character in recent times there will most certainly be many more adventures written and performed in the next 80 years.

Warner Bros. announced a new feature film, “The Batman”, to premiere in 2021. Robert Pattinson (Twilight) will become the youngest actor to play the Dark Knight.

72 Years of The Batman. (Above) Every Bat symbol drawn to represent the enduring legacy of The World’s Greatest Detective

KISS: Hard Rock’s Fab Four

R-L: Gene Simmons; Bass (The Demon), Peter Criss; Drums (The Catman), Ace Frehley (Guitar) (Spaceman), and Paul Stanley; Lead Vocals, Guitar (Starchild).

KISS are on their Final Tour Ever. Dubbed “End Of The Road”, as of this writing the first leg is done in the U.S. Next week they begin the second leg in Europe.

I have written about their storied career here to voice my appreciation as a listener and fan. Not every detail is included since there are books, articles, and tons of fodder on YouTube for people to consume. The cultural impact of the group was massive. Here now my entry about them.

The streets of New York were filthy in the 197o’s. The Beatles had just broken up. Millions of rock music fans were left feeling the loss of an entire era. The 1960s provided a ton of artists that were critical darlings. The Vietnam war was still grinding forward. What would happen next?

From those filthy streets in a declining city four young men were practicing music who enacted their wildest dreams of becoming part of a band. Stanley Eisen from Queens, Chaim Weiss raised in Tel Aviv then Brooklyn, Paul Frehley of The Bronx, and Peter Crisscoula of Brooklyn found each other by ads placed in the papers.

Each of these young people had experience playing music live. They shared a love of The Beatles. The love generation was about to give way to the more agressive love gun generation. The term heavy metal was not yet applicable. Their music was a new sound. Their names would be changed too. Chaim Weiss became Gene Simmons. Stanley Eisen became Paul Stanley. Paul Frehely used his nickname Ace because these guys just knew you could not have two Pauls in the same group. And Peter shortened his name from Crisscoula to Criss.

The gritty early 70’s was a culture of worn down clubs, high crime, and low rents. This culture fostered artists. Gene and Paul had a band called Wicked Lester. They had created a sound that was edgy and raw. Simple chords like the rock n roll of past times with heavier bass and loud electric guitars. Starting over they put ads in the Village Voice. Guitarist with flash and balls; Drummer willing to do anything to make it.

Peter Criss claimed he would wear a dress if necessary. Ace Frehley came in, plugged into an amp and let it rip without asking for anyone’s permission. He famously wore mismatched sneakers and looked, in Gene’s opinion, like a bum. Both of these guys were hired. They rehearsed tirelessly in a loft space infested with vermin.

One of the reasons I love them was their absolute determination to make something special. They were never handed anything. Everything happened because of the blood, sweat, and tears put into the development of their act.

With songs from Gene and Paul’s Wicked Lester days plus new material along with some covers the newly named, Kiss, would record their self-titled debut album in just 13 days with producer Richie Wise. The band’s make-up would put off their record company so much that Warner Bros dislodged Casablanca from the company!

The name was derived from Peter Criss’s former group, Lips. Paul Stanley by way of word association thought Kiss would work. Their songs were mainly about sex. Short and easy to remember too. Ace Frehley drew the logo all in caps; Paul Stanley later refined it with extra lines to highlight each letter. In Germany to this day the logo appears without the lightning bolts. That double s caused a lot of reaction for obvious reasons. I think they took back the infamy of this symbolism. The logo projected the power of their music and their image. Today, the name is known around the globe.

Kiss’ first record sold 75,000 copies in 1974. 10 songs with a running time of 30 minutes without a hit single. During a year that included, The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock N Roll” and Queen’s “Killer Queen” as well as Eric Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff”, Kiss was a shock to the system. In make-up on the cover in a similar layout to their heroes, The Beatles, this image was received by critics as not a rock group but a circus act.

On the first record, “Deuce” by Gene Simmons opened their shows. The lyrics were quite purile by any standard. Raw rock music. At a point in time when singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell were peaking, the culture at large was revolted by Kiss.

“Strutter” by Paul Stanley was about streetwalkers. “Cold Gin” by Ace Frehley was about liquor saving a relationship. These tracks set the stage for concert tours. The next 2 records, “Hotter Than Hell” and “Dressed To Kill” did not set the world on fire either. But the Stanley/Simmons rock anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite” did break the top ten and placed Kiss in the limelight they had been pursuing for years. Then KISS became rock’s next big thing.

At every live show they are introduced with the following:

Alright ________ (fill in the city/town they are playing), You wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world…KISS!!!

From then on they were known to their peers in this manner. Quite a feat for an act many had written off as pure novelty just a few years earlier. I think they were probably the first real hard rock group to make it. Alice Cooper had a make-up image too. By the time KISS hit it big, Alice was solo. His act was so different Frank Zappa took an interest. Like Alice, they were inspired by horror movies and comic books. The four guys came up with unique designs. Then came a youthquake across America.

Alive! was the band’s first live concert album recorded on the Dressed To Kill tour in Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, Davenport, Iowa and Wildwood, New Jersey. Including the best tracks from the first 3 albums this record did set the world on fire.

Kiss became the top selling rock band in America. Revulsing parents only added to their popularity amoung teenagers of the time. They thought it was the end of Western civilization but it was the beginning of hard rock music. Sure, Black Sabbath brought metal before it had a name and Alice Cooper took shock rock to a new level, but Kiss developed as a hard rock quartet. Even Alice recognized how unique their image had become in comparison to his own. Both artists would continue for the next 30 years.

Producer Bob Ezrin then took Kiss’ superstardom to new heights recording the album “Destroyer”. The songs “Detroit Rock City” and “King of the Nightime World” showed their skills as songwriters and musicians. The record sounds contemporary to this day. “Beth” was the soft side of the group, a ballad, that became their biggest hit. It provided the inspiration for future acts like Motley Crue and Poison to record what came to be known as power ballads in the 1980s glam metal era.

After proving their metal the band offered their new army an array of goodies. Many of their records had extras inside like posters, merchandise order booklets, temporary tattoos, and stickers. This provided more fuel for those who saw them as a passing fad.

Manager Bill Aucoin recognized how much cultural capital the band had earned with their make-up and costumes. He insisted they license their image. And then came the flood of goodies. Mego toys produced dolls, Thermos made lunchboxes, and there were transistor radios, a toy guitar, a phonograph player, and even a colorforms set. I never had any of these items during their heyday. I would indulge later on during the 1990s. Ads were place on television for the toys and concerts. The increasing cost of their shows was covered not only by ticket sales but merchandise. Fans were mostly pleased to openly display their support.

Throughout the 1970s KISS would appear on daytime shows like Mike Douglas and primetime specials like The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. I saw these programs as a kid. I was spellbound by their sound and image.

Their live show included explosions, flashpots, and a sign above the stage that flashed their logo in blinding lights. A new era had arrived. This music that became hard rock was then known as glam or glitter rock. I never got to see and hear them live until after this period.

The band took pride in selecting up and coming bands they felt their fans would like including Rush, Van Halen, and Cheap Trick. These artists are still among my favorite groups.

Gene and Paul’s vision was a band they never saw onstage but wanted to see themselves. A heavy metal version of The Beatles was their intention. I think they delivered despite not being critical darlings or chart toppers.

They never stopped facing adversity. Gene and Paul developed a relationship with their fans. They listened to producers in studio that wanted them to work using different methods to refine the music. However much success they earned the toughest period was their transition from the 1970s to the 1980s.

In an effort to keep the band together KISS released 4 solo albums all at once in 1978. Each album had that member’s face on the cover along with the KISS logo and their name. Each member dedicated their album to the other three guys in the group. A poster came with each album. When all 4 posters were pieced together it formed a full- color mural of the group as superheros. The 4 records shipped platinum. Only the guitarist and singer Ace Frehley would score a top 40 hit with “New York Groove”.

The puzzle posters formed one image of the band when put together.

However, each record expressed that member’s individual musical style. Personal beliefs also played a part. On Gene’s album, for example, he ends with a cover of “When You Wish Upon A Star”. The song was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio. It became a Jazz standard and an icon of The Disney Company.

Paul Stanley produced 9 original tracks. The only member without a cover.
Ace Frehley recently performed this album in its entirety for the first time. The LP features a cover of British glam group Hello, New York Groove. This was the best selling single of the solo lps.
Gene Simmons (1978) had the best chart showing for his record.

The 4 Solo Albums drove a wedge between the members of the group.

Instead of unifying them, they were driven farther apart.

Featuring mostly songs written for Peter’s previous band Lips.
The Catman had the poorest showing of the four.

The band’s prog effort was a flop.

“Music From The Elder” then saw them try to create a ‘serious’ prog rock concept album. There was going to be a movie Starring Chris Makepeace (“My Bodyguard” and “Meatballs”). The story took place in a medieval setting. A boy who sets out to destroy a dark knight. In so doing he becomes a champion. A complete departure from the rock basics it became the most derided effort among fans to this day. The film was never made either.

So they went back into the studio to record what would become their 10th record, “Creatures of the Night”, their last for Casablanca. The label’s head, Neil Bogart died of cancer. The band would dedicate this album to him. After all he was one of the first people to really believe in them.

The “Creatures” album was also the final record in make-up until “Psycho Circus” in 1998. The lackluster performance of their previous 2 efforts had people speculating they would disband. Fans reacted positively to the ballad “I Still Love You”, the anthem “I Love It Loud” also a video on the new cable network MTV. Their tours took a big dip at this time. New drummer Eric Carr in Fox make-up and lead guitarist Vinnie Vincent in Ankh make-up drove old fans away. Peter and Ace faced substance abuse issues that cost them their place in the group.

There were half empty arenas. The times were changing. New wave music was rising. There were new groups who benefitted from MTV. Like KISS before them some of the new artists were accused of being all image too.

But they survived these lows because newer fans like myself wanted to hear and see them. Our parent’s disapproval only pushed us furthur in our support. Kiss did not need to have a #1 hit. Each tour was unique. The records had to remain heavy. Even their album “Dynasty” with its disco number “I Was Made For Lovin You” was a hit worldwide. This success led to the lighter “Unmasked” lp. “Shandi”, a ballad that seemed to be a follow-up to “Beth”, was a big hit in Australia.

My first encounter with them was their 1978 release “Rock N Roll Over”. A tight set of hard rock tracks that I still love today. To this day I will listen to albums from the 70s like “Destroyer”, “Love Gun”, and “Alive!”. Their 1980s output was my entry into their world. Arenas filled with my peers who just wanted to rock out. By the time the first 10 years were over Kiss had never stopped having to prove themselves.

I listened to every counter argument leveled at Kiss: they had no talent, their name stood for Knights in Satan’s Service, they were Nazis, they were gay, they were clowns and were only in it for a buck. Oh, yes, their only popular because of the image.

Then Kiss did something no one had ever expected them to do . On MTV in 1983 the band appeared for the first time without the make-up. I did not see this press conference. I discovered this new Kiss when I went to my local record shop.

“Lick It Up”, their 11th studio album, featured Vincent on lead guitars. He co-wrote the album with the exception of two songs written by Gene Simmons. This proved to be a promising start to a new era of Kiss. Their years on Casablanca were over; Mercury was the new label.

The cover was literally a clean slate. A white background with a full color image of the band . I remember how confused I felt when I first laid my eyes on it. No Ace; No Peter. The logo was just a bold outline, small, in the upper left corner. The only other tell-tale sign that it was Kiss was Gene sticking out his tounge! This was a tough period for them.

Ironically, the MTV launch in late summer 1981, helped Kiss reinvent themselves. The music videos for “Lick It Up” and “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” received heavy airplay. I embraced the new music. I would not see them live until the late 80s.

Although Gene and Paul are not that fond of their post 1977 output their sound influenced the 80s hard rock scene. Cheap Trick’s anthem “Surrender” even mentions the band by name. Motley Crue, Poison, Van Halen, Skid Row, Ratt, Bon Jovi, and many others performed what became known as Glam Metal. Their shows emulated Kiss with big pyrotechnic spectacles.

I finally saw them for the first time on their “Asylum” tour. Vinnie Vincent was long gone. Bruce Kulick was now their lead guitarist. I was studying communications in college at the time. I came across the attributes that define strong groups. The ability to change members was an attribute that stood out for me. Kiss kept going through changes and survived. Some of the records they released would be more appreciated as the years passed.

I would see them several times on various tours. Kiss did World Tours. During the 80’s their make-up related merchandise vanished as well. Only at shows could you get a program and a shirt. Their albums continued to sell too. The only image of The Demon was on the body of Gene’s custom bass. There were always fans who showed up at concerts in full Kiss make-up too.

Kiss released “Animalize” in 1984, “Asylum” in 1985, “Crazy Nights” in 1987, and “Hot In The Shade” in 1989. There was a tour for each. And music videos were produced for MTV. This enabled them to stay around until their resurgence in the mid-1990s. You can look up information about the videos and chart positions. The biggest commercial hit they had since “Beth” was another ballad. “Forever” written by Michael Bolton and Paul Stanley peaked on Billboard at #8. The video reached #1 on Dial MTV thanks to fans. The last 2 records of the decade found Kiss using keyboards, synths, and drum machines. Then came the 1990s.

I saw Kiss twice on their Hot In The Shade Tour. Opening act Slaughter were the latest in a long line of popular groups to get their first national audience at the arena level thanks to Kiss. The show featured a Sphinx whose mouth opens up to reveal the band. Laser lights were also featured effects. The set included songs from the 1970s era too! The rumors of them appearing in make up again were fueled by the music video for the song “Rise To It” which shows Gene and Paul in make-up for a brief moment at the end of the clip.

During their Madison Sq Garden show I caught a Gene Simmons guitar pick and Eric Carr’s drumsticks! I was 6th row center on the floor. The shows were great.

The early 1990s were cruel to hard rock groups and their fans. The labels that had signed Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Warrant, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Kiss were starting to move in a new direction. The new decade brought the groups Nirvana and Pearl Jam; Soundgarden and Faith No More. Glam metal died. The new sound became known as Grunge.

Then in 1991 Kiss’ longtime drummer Eric Carr died from heart cancer. His death happened on the same day as Freddie Mercury of Queen! Kiss were again at a transformative point in their career. Another Eric would become the next member of Kiss. And producer Bob Ezrin would work with them again for the first time since the failure of “The Elder” album.

1992’s “Revenge” became the band’s most succesful since 1979’s “Dynasty”. And had the most music videos of any Kiss release. After years of pop infused hard rock the group returned to their more primal 70s sound. Before the arena dates the group performed in a New York City club for a sold out standing-room only crowd. No make-up; No pyro. Just 2 solid hours of their hits. This was one of the best concerts I have ever seen!

Then the group took another unexpected turn by accepting an invitation to record a special for the MTV series Unplugged. This would prove to be the most pivotal event in the band’s storied career.

In 1995 at Sony Studios in New York City the members of Kiss would perform their songs on acoustic guitars. During the show they spoke about the development of the songs too. Then came the surprise. Ace and Peter came out to perform with them for the first time since the end of the 70s dynasty. The stage was set for their official reunion!

Even a reunion of the original band had its adverse results. Although overlooked by many older fans, the unmasked line-up featuring Bruce Kulick on lead guitar was reaching a creative peak with Revenge in 1992 then came an album that got lost.

Following their Revenge World Tour the group returned to the studio. The band once again took another departure from their hard rock sound with “Carnival Of Souls”. I loved this record. The biggest price paid for the reunion was the loss of this album as a tour.

The final studio album of the unmasked era which lasted 13 years.

When the reunion happened they shelved this record. Fans started to get a hold of bootleg versions of this album. The band released it with the title, “Carnival Of Souls: The Final Sessions”. This was Bruce Kulick’s final appearance as a member of KISS. He got his first lead vocal performance on the last track of the set, “I Walk Alone”. Eric Singer, the drummer would not return to the band until 2006.

The following year became their biggest. The Alive Worldwide Tour of 1996 featured the original line-up in make-up with a production inspired by their set for the Love Gun Tour in 1977. Nearly 20 years had passed but when they put the greasepaint on they were young again. And the KISS Army made this tour the most successful of that year.

I went to a group of shows during the tour. The Madison Square Garden concerts were spectacular. For the first time I saw and heard what made KISS so special upon arriving in the turmoil of the 1970s. The songs they brought back into their set included “King Of The Nightime World” and “C’mon and Love Me”. The crowd was the most electric I have ever witnessed. All of the old fans came back to see them too.

This period was a time where the band could feel good about themselves. Even critical reaction was favorable. The waters would get rough again but the group was resilient and nothing would stop them. “Psycho Circus” would be the first make-up album since “Dynasty” to feature Peter And Ace. “Into The Void” is the only track they played on fully. The problems of the old days were returning to bite them again in 1998.

The songs were a love letter to their devotees. During the recording sessions the old problems resurfaced. Other musicians aided the effort to get the album finished. They released a video for the title track in 3-D. The tour would be billed as the first ever done in 3-D too. Then came a hevy period of touring all the places they had not been to for awhile including Europe and Australia. Gene and Paul would invest in ventures outside the rock world like their restaurant Rock N Brews. Arena football, a mini-golf in Vegas, and extending the KISS brand to an array of products that would bring them into their penultimate era.

In 2003 the group toured for the final time with its classic original line-up. A lot of fans misunderstood the farewell tour headline. They were laying to rest this reunion era. The band would not record again until 2009’s Sonic Boom. The next line-up would be their last. The make-up would never come off again. Fans got what they wanted in 1996; Gene and Paul got what they wanted the rest of the way.

Music is a business. I feel strongly that to stay around you need to develop a fan base with pretty consistent albums. KISS built a strong foundation during the 1970s. With the help of session musicians, managers like Bill Aucoin who nurtured their image, and the songwriting skills of the members themselves, they have survived in this business for alomost 50 years.

Without releasing another record there were a lot of concerts. The band reached New Zealand and Chile for the first time. It was also their most extensive tour of Europe. Their Sonic Boom was literally heard around the globe. Since 1998’s Psycho Circus they went 11 years without recording. “Sonic Boom” was the first with Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer returned as drummer. Both had lead vocals on the record. And they wore the trademark make-up of Ace and Peter.

In 2012 KISS released their 20th album, “Monster”. This has now been realised as their final release. It reached #2 on Billboard, their highest chart position ever. The set spelled it out one last time what Kiss were all about. “Hell Or Hallelujah”, “Freak”, “Wall Of Sound”, and “All For The Love Of Rock N Roll” are amoung my favorite songs.

Gene Simmons has become a business guy not ashamed to hawk products he believes in. Paul Stanley has been exhibiting his paintings. Their partnership has lasted 45 years and counting. The final tour is expected to run for the next 3 years.

All I know about them has led me to think there are more surprises to come. I have been fortunate enough to have met most of the members of KISS. I was present aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid when they announced the reunion tour. I have attended 12 concerts.

In August I will see my 13th and final Kiss show. In the end I have many great memories. And there are 20 studio albums and 4 Alive! albums to enjoy whenever I need a jolt of their energy.

Here are my favorite KISS albums and songs:

100,000 Years (Simmons/Stanley)………….KISS (1974)

Rock N Roll All Nite (Simmons/Stanley)….Dressed To Kill (1975)

God Of Thunder (Stanley)……………………….Destroyer (1976)

Sweet Pain (Simmons)…………………………….Destroyer (1976)

Beth (Criss, Penridge, Ezrin)…………………..Destroyer (1976) Lead Vocals by Peter Criss

Shock Me (Frehley)…………………………………..Love Gun (1977) Lead Vocals by Ace Frehley

Hooligan (Criss, Penridge)………………………..Love Gun (1977) Lead Vocals by Peter Criss

Love Gun (Stanley)…………………………………..Love Gun (1977)

I Was Made For Lovin’ You (Stanley, Vini Poncia, Desmond Child)….Dynasty (1979)

Magic Touch (Stanley)………………………………Dynasty (1979)

Talk To Me (Frehley)………………………………..Unmasked (1980)

Two Sides Of The Coin (Frehley)………………..Unmasked (1980)

Only You (Simmons)…………………Music from The Elder (1981) Vocals by Simmons & Stanley

I (Simmons, Ezrin)……………………Music from The Elder (1981)

Rock N Roll Hell (Simmons, Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance)…..Creatures Of The Night (1982)

Lick It Up (Stanley, Vincent)……………………..Lick It Up (1983)

Heaven’s On Fire (Stanley, Child)………………Animalize (1984)

King Of The Mountain (Stanley, Kulick, Child)…..Asylum (1985)

Tears Are Falling (Stanley)……………………………….Asylum (1985)

Unholy (Simmons, Vincent)……………………………..Revenge (1992)

Heart Of Chrome (Stanley, Vincent, Ezrin)…………Revenge (1992)

I Walk Alone (Simmons, Kulick)……………………….Carnival of Souls (1997)

Childhood’s End (Simmons, Thayer, Kulick)……….Carnival of Souls (1997)

We Are One (Simmons)……………………………………..Psycho Circus (1998)

You Wanted The Best (Simmons, Stanley, Criss, Frehley)….Psycho Circus (1998)

Russian Roulette (Simmons/Stanley)………………………………Sonic Boom (2009)

Stand (Stanley/Simmons)………………………………………………Sonic Boom (2009)

Wall Of Sound (Simmons, Thayer, Stanley)………………………Monster (2012)

All For The Love Of Rock N Roll (Stanley)………………………..Monster (2012) Lead Vocals by Eric Singer

KISS Catalog. In 2015 the band’s albums were remastered on vinyl for the first time since 1985. They included all of the original inserts and extras. Kissteria, a vinyl box set was also issued for a high end price of $3,000.00.

KISS
L-R: Tommy Thayer (Guitar), Gene Simmons (Bass), Paul Stanley (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Eric Singer (Drums).
This is the final line-up of the band which has been together since 2006.
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Below L-R:
KISS (1974) First studio effort features “Strutter”, “Cold Gin”, “Firehouse”, “Deuce”and “Black Diamond”.
These songs remained concert favorites throughout their career. The middle image is the reunited group in 1996.
And “Monster” as of this blog entry, the final studio effort.

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best. The Hottest band in the world….KISS!