He lived and died consumed with the Doors music and history
Manzarek loved to talk about The Doors -- and why shouldn't he? He co-founded the group with Morrison, his keyboard work is the signature sound of their biggest hits -- "Riders on the Storm," "Break On Through," "Hello, I Love You," "Love Her Madly" and of course "Light My Fire."
But his detractors -- including fellow bandmate John Densmore -- felt he at times crossed the line from proud to explotative, especially when he went out with Robby Krieger touring as The Doors or The Doors of the 21st Century.
Funny -- no one had a problem when The Doors released two Morrison-less albums after his death or endlessly repackaged the catalog with live albums, remasters, 5.1 mixes, outtakes, alternate mixes, studio dialog etc. But fights ensued when Manzarek was in favor of licensing Doors music for a commercial. Yeah, that was a crime once upon a time. But that was a long, long time ago.
Granted, Densmore has had his say, with a 2002 essay in The Nation where he takes Manzarek to task for greed (apparently a recurring theme in his new book as well).
And no one but the band members and people around them are privy to the details. But back in the '90s I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time talking with Manzarek as some Doors reissues and other projects were on the table. He gave me his home phone number and we chatted a fair amount about his history. Rather than brag about himself, he constantly invoked what a genius he felt Morrison was -- a poet, a performer, and a tragic loss to the world on all levels.
As much as Densmore feels he's protecting Morrison's heritage by turning down commercial offers, Manzarek felt the opposite -- that getting the music to as many ears as possible was the best tribute, especially young ears (it was an Apple computer commercial offer that sparked the 2002 rift between the two).
So Manzarek talked about The Doors. And talked and talked and talked. Anyone who has ever interviewed him or just been in his general vicinity knew that he loved to talk about what The Doors had done and what their music had meant to fans.
Myself, I can see both sides of the argument. That doesn't make Manzarek the evil opportunist fans make him out to be.
During those chats back in the day I knew a middle-school student who was doing an essay on the historical impact of music in the '60s. So I asked Manzarek -- hey, would you do an interview with an 8th-grader for an essay that will be read to her history class? The thought of his words going to 25 teenagers in a classroom somewhere thrilled him. He immediately said yes and had me pass on his phone number.
The essay got an A. Manzarek got to find a new audience to hear his thoughts. And I'll bet more than a couple of kids in that class are Doors fans to this day.
Rest in peace, Ray. You did your best.
Chester Bennington joins Stone Temple Pilots - for the moment
But most of the time trying to replace your lead singer is the kiss of death for a band. Alice in Chains was disbanded for years before finally getting a fill-in for Layne Staley. Sublime and The Doors both famously feuded with the families of the late Brad Nowell and Jim Morrison over the rights to continue using the band names after those singers died.
And now the story with Stone Temple Pilots gets weirder and weirder. They fired lead singer/constant news story Scott Wieland in March without even telling him; he found out through the media, and at first denied the reports until he found out that, yes, he had been sacked.
STP turned up at KROQ's annual Weenie Roast concert this past weekend with a new frontman in tow -- Linkin Park's Chester Bennington. The band has apparently taken a page from David Bowie and Daft Punk, keeping everything a secret until they sprung it on the crowd. They've even recorded a new song, "Out of Time," that they're making available as a free download or you can stream it below.
It looks to be a temporary thing as Linkin Park takes much of the year off; the band has only one show planned for L.A. on Aug. 3, noting that it will be their sole performance of 2013. And Bennington does a pretty fair version of Weiland. Check the performance below before it gets yanked from YouTube again.
Singer airlifted to hospital to treat head injury
Yesterday, pop singer George Michael was airlifted to a hospital after he was involved in a car crash. According to the BBC, the 49-year-old singer suffered a head injury, though his spokesperson insists he's doing "fine" and only suffered "superficial cuts."
Details on the crash remain unclear, but Michael's rep, Connie Filippello, stated that he was a passenger in a Range Rover that crashed on the M1 motorway near St Albans, Hertfordshire, England. "No third party was involved. We have no further comment at this time," she said. No arrests have been made following the crash, though police are still investigating what happened.
This marks another in a long line of driving-related incidents for the former Wham! singer. In 2010, he was sentenced to eight weeks in jail after driving his Range Rover into a Snappy Snaps photo store while stoned, which also resulted in a five-year driving ban. The year before that, he was detained on suspicion of driving under the influence after he crashed into the back of a truck. In 2006, police found Michaelslumped over the wheel of his parked Mercedes, and he pled guilty to driving under the influence of drugs the following year.
Legendary songwriter will receive Gershwin Prize
Though the Obama administration continues to struggle with crisis after crisis, one thing they seem to do pretty well is honoring worthy musicians. Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David have all performed at the White House concert series since the President took office in 2008. And now, according to a stor in today's Hollywood Reporter, Carole King will be honored with the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at a White House concert next Wednesday, May 22. According to the announcement, she will perform in the East Room, alongside James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, and others, after being praised both for her astonishing accomplishments as a songwriter and recording artist, and for her long-time commitment to Democratic activism by President Obama.The event will be streamed live beginning at 3pm Pacific at www.whitehouse.gov/live. She is the first female artist to be given the Gershwin Prize.
The night before, King will be honored at an invitation-only ceremony and concert at the Library of Congress’ Coolidge Auditorium featuring performances by King, her daughter Louise Goffin, Patti Austin, Colbie Caillat, Michael Feinstein, Siedah Garrett, Shelby Lynne, Gian Marco and Arturo Sandoval.
Mini-commercial for "Magnetic" goes up to give the fans a taste
Rock anthems? Check. Wistful ballads? Present and accounted for. Must be the new Goo Goo Dolls album.
The Goo Goo Dolls return June 11 with their latest work, "Magnetic." And in this time of trying to figure out how to get heard, they've actually gone and put together nearly four minutes of excerpts from the new songs to give fans a taste without giving the whole store away ala David Bowie or Daft Punk.
Of course, it's not like Johnny Rzeznik and crew have kept everything under wraps. The single "Rebel Beat" is out there since January, with the official video going up last month.
They're doing a few dates but the touring schedule really heats up in late June, when they begin a trek across the country and back with Matchbox Twenty (after Rzeznik takes a bit of time off to get married).
After a layoff, she's back strong and sure
So when she returned with "Highway, Ghosts, Hearts and Home" last year and her latest, "Driving Toward the Sun," she knew everything was different. And she was ready for it. For the latest album she teamed up with her neighbor and friend, Ryan Ulyate, a producer/engineer who has Tom Petty, George Harrison, the Traveling Wilburys, Electric Light Orchestra and other credits under his belt. They recorded in his high-tech home studio but the approach was strictly old-school: Eight tight, fully realized songs that told an adult tale of heartache and redemption, from the stirring title cut to sad, resigned songs such as "U-Haul in the Driveway." Critical acclaim quickly followed, with No Depression quickly naming it one of the best albums of the year so far.
"I wanted an album that sounded like me and my sound and my past without sounding dated. It's honest in sound and it could be from any era," James said.
And rather than worry about technology marching on, James embraced it. She did old-school radio promotion with NPR and legendary California station KPIG, as well as Spotify, Emusic, iTunes, Amazon and plain old touring and getting the word out. James and Ulyate took a few minutes to talk about the collaboration and where she goes from here.
Twitter-phobic singer/felon launches app
Breezy held his first "broadcast" Wednesday (May 15) in a sienna-tinted shot of him in front of his piano, welcoming everyone.
Along with the backstage access you'd expect from the new site, fans can do things like check out his closet, see him play b-ball in a mall, go on a roller coaster ride with him and even watch him light up. The site, which also has a mobile app version, collects photos, status updates and videos that CB posts straight to his followers, pushing his authenticity.
"Now all you guys can see me at all times of the day, keep up with what I'm doing... really," Brown said in the 13-second clip. "I appreciate you guys, man. I love you."
The app trailer claims the "channel" will give users more entry to the star's life than his Facebook, Twitter or Instagram — and given Brown's track record with Instagram and Twitter, he might need a social-media upgrade anyway.
A best-of compilation on the long lost show is set for release
Good question, as the show was on for just a couple of years starting in 1980. And the name tells you everything: It aired on Fridays and yes, it was a shameless rip-off of "Saturday Night Live."
The only way it surpassed SNL was in its more-adventurous musical bookings. And you're finally going to get to see them (other than on YouTube) when Shout Factory releases "The Best of Fridays" in August, including plenty of musical performances. Sure, the show wasn't totally groundbreaking with its musical bookings (the Kenny Loggins episode proves that). But it embraced new wave in a way that SNL never did, booking The Clash, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Graham Parker and the Rumour, The Cars, Devo and more.
Other musical performances due on the disc include Dire Straits, the Bus Boys, KISS, former Eagle Randy Meisner and the Silverados, Kim Carnes, Stray Cats, Pat Benatar and more (yes, it's quite the odd time capsule).
No word on exactly what performances will be released -- as with SNL, each artist got two songs per episode - but here are a few of the better ones from the era.