Tag: Eric Clapton

Dec 8: Remembering John Lennon, Dimebag Darrell & Other Fallen Musicians

On December 8th, 1980, Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed outside the entrance of the Dakota apartment, in New York City. His influence and significances don’t require any explanation.

On December 8th, 2004,  Pantera/ Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell was shot on stage during a live performance; a most grisly scene. Dime was one of the most influential metal guitarists of the last thirty years. His significance was even greater during the 1990’s because he continued to play lengthy guitar solos, even when they weren’t in style. He carried the torch for the current generation of shredders.

When I realized that both of these men were murdered on the same day 24 years apart, I felt it was fitting to write a piece on fallen musicians in their honor. I have been planning on writing this for some time, but I didn’t know what I was going to say until I sat down to write.

So many exceptional musicians have died far too young.

Duane Allman lead guitarist for the Allman Brothers (1971), John Bonham drummer for Led Zeppelin (1980), Jeff Buckley (1997), Cliff Burton bassist for Metallica (1987), Kurt Cobain vocalist & guitarist for Nirvana (1994), Jim Croce (1973), Bobby Darin (1973), Jimi Hendrix (1970), Buddy Holly (1959), Robert Johnson (1938), Janis Joplin (1970), Phil Lynott bassist and vocalist for Thin Lizzy (1986), Freddie Mercury vocalist for Queen (1991), Keith Moon drummer for The Who (1978), Jim Morrison vocalist for The Doors (1971), Berry Oakley bassist for the Allman Brothers (1972), Randy Rhodes guitarist of Quiet Riot & Ozzy Osbourne (1982), Stevie Ray Vaughan (1990), Allen Woody bassist for Gov’t Mule & the Allman Brothers, and most of the original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd come to mind, but there are many many more.

Randy Rhodes lived a clean life and died at 25.

These people died young, many of them before they hit the peak of their career. Guys like Duane Allman, Cliff Burton, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, and Randy Rhodes were so ahead of their time. Their innovations still impact music today. Nevertheless, I can’t help but imagine what they would have done with the rest of their lives. The bright side is that they will forever live on through their recordings, and in the hearts and minds of those who have been touched by their music.

The more I think about it, as sad as it is that so many talented musicians died prematurely, it’s amazing how many have lived and continue to live long lives… many in spite of their lifestyles.

I read Eric Clapton’s autobiography when it came out two years ago, and the book read like a combination music history/ twelve step program pitch pamphlet. With all of the shit that Clapton did to his body, the man is still alive and on stage; and he’s not alone.

BB King is well touring well into his 80’s, and Buddy Guy is 73 (going on 50). Greg Allman managed to escape what seemed like certain death. He was a partial influence for the song “That Smell,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd; the chorus was written about him:

Ooh, ooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell?
Ooh, ooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you.

I’m shocked that all of the guys from Aerosmith are alive (although I wish Steven Tyler was in better shape). And all of the longtime members of Pink Floyd have lived long lives (Pianist Richard Wright passed away last year at age 65).

I could go on forever with this. So many more incredible musicians have continued to live, create, and entertain than those who have died.

In honor of Lennon and Dime, I am choosing to focus on those who have survived them.

It’s easy to fixate on tragedy.

Death is a story, life isn’t.

The Beatles: Rock Band Set List is Really Good

For many of you, any Beatles set list was going to be satisfying, but I am not the biggest Beatles fan. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate them for their historical importance, influence, and even a lot of their music, but they have never ranked among my favorites.

That being said, I am a big fan of George Harrison.

So, onto the set list. The complete list of tracks is available at GameSpy.

The high points for me are:

  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Ranks among my favorite songs ever. The song is written by Harrison, but the extensive solo work is Eric Clapton (w00t!). It will be years before I can actually play the solo, but I’ve got the rhythm guitar down.
  • Here Comes the Sun – This song is just incredible.
  • Taxman – Another Harrison classic.
  • Helter Skelter – This song still feels so uncharacteristically edgy and aggressive to me.
  • Something
  • I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
  • Octopus’s Garden – The SCUBA diver in me has a soft spot for this song.

There are a number of other interesting tunes on the list, but those are the ones that excite me at first glance.

The presence of While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Here Comes the Sun really sell me on the game. Who knows, maybe this game will increase my appreciation of the Beatles. It wouldn’t be the first time that a music game has made me see brilliance in music that I had previously ignored (See Dinosaur Jr. & the Killers).

The Beatles: Rock Band is due out on September 9.

Little Wing: One Song So Much Beauty

“What’s your favorite song?”

I never liked that question. Why should I have to pick one?

My answer was always Layla because I am and have always been a big fan of Eric Clapton, and it was an easy answer to give. I mean, you can’t really argue with an answer like Layla, Stairway to Heaven, or Here Comes the Sun, right?

Over the last year or so I have been reflecting on that dumb question… what was my favorite song?

During one of these pointless mental wanderings I realized that the question wasn’t, “What’s your favorite recording,” or “What’s your favorite performance.” If I was looking for a favorite song, it would have to be a song that is performed brilliantly by at least two different artists.

The Classics

Jimi Hendrix

That’s when it hit me. Little Wing, the Hendrix classic off of Axis: Bold as Love (1967).

(The pseudo artistic editor who defiled this video by layering surf over Jimi should suffer an eternity of punishment.)

My only complaint with this song is that there isn’t more of it.

Derek & the Dominos

It was covered by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman when Derek & the Dominos released Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). Sadly Hendrix died before he could hear Clapton & Allman’s reinvention.

(The original studio recording.)

(In March of 2009, Clapton played two nights with the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theatre. I would have traded important body parts to see one of these shows live.)

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan created a new interpretation of the song without vocals on his 1985 album, Soul to Soul.

Tragically, of the four legendary guitarists who recorded the most well known versions of Little Wing, Clapton is the only one who survived.

Legacy

There are literally hundreds of covers of Little Wing. They range from jazz odysseys, to shred metal, and everything in between. Some of the bands that have covered this song will shock you… but regardless of who is performing the song, it is almost always good.

These are some of the more interesting covers I uncovered:

Skid Row

This one stunned me for two reasons. 1 – Skid Row covered Little Wing. 2 – It’s actually pretty good (But is doesn’t really offer up anything original).

Steve Vai

If it absolutely, positively, must be over done… choose Vai.

The Corrs

A magnificent acoustic, Celtic folk rock rendition. That was a mouthful.

Kirk Hammett (Metallica)

This one surprised me… but it also doesn’t do much for me.

Final Thoughts

The best versions of Little Wing leave room for the subtle details. There is a lot going on in this song that I don’t think most people hear. When I listen to it, it immediately makes my mind wander; I feel happy, sad and a sense of wonder all at the same time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tour of Little Wing. I will leave you with one final recording of Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, and saxophonist David Sanborn.

Eric Clapton’s Brush with Techno

Back in 1997, Eric Clapton attempted to release an electronic dance album anonymously (I’m not 100% sure I am classifying that genre correctly as I am treading into territory that I don’t know anything about).

He went by the name x-sample, and partnered with long time collaborator Simon Climie. They called themselves T.D.F., and their album was Retail Therapy.

Clapton TDF xsample

Long-ish story short, it didn’t do well, and the music press in the UK tore the old blues rocker a new one for leaving his musical box. You can read more here.

As much as I love Clapton, I could never get into this album… and I did try. My recommendation is to go to Amazon’s sales page and listen to the 30 second samples for each song. Get a feel for what they sound like, just for the experience, then go listen to some Derek & the Dominos.