Tales of Rock – Badfinger

Badfinger should’ve been a huge success story, but instead became a cautionary tale for the myriad ways the music industry exploits and throws away so many talented but naive artists.

Possibly the most heartbreaking story in rock and roll happens to have happened to one of the best bands in its history.

Badfinger should’ve been a huge success story, but instead became a cautionary tale for the myriad ways the music industry exploits and throws away so many talented but naive artists. After supporting major outfits including The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and the Who, the band — then named the Iveys — was picked up by manager Bill Collins in 1966. It was a move that would help them reach early stardom and contribute heavily to their downfall. Ray Davies of the Kinks recorded three early demos, which Collins managed to get to Apple Records; Badfinger signed with Apple in 1968, making them the first band that wasn’t the Beatles on the label. After a lineup and name change to Badfinger, Paul McCartney penned their first hit, the timeless power pop classic “Come and Get It.” (Written for the soundtrack of The Magic Christian, a loopy, cameo-filled British comedy starring Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers that’s worth watching for the sheer absurdity of it all.) The song became an international hit. The band’s two primary songwriters, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, also wrote “Without You,” a standard since covered by more than 180 artists, including Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and, perhaps most famously, Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey.

George Harrison had them play on his 1970 album All Things Must Pass and featured them as part of his backing band at The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. The point is, Badfinger should’ve been rolling in dough, their names solidified among rock’s most important acts. But taking manager Collins’s advice, the band trusted their money to an American businessman named Stan Polley who absconded with their funds, leaving the band in contractual binds that made it virtually impossible to continue on their own.

Lead singer Ham — by all accounts, an incredibly sensitive, sweet man who believed to the very end in Polley’s honesty despite all indications otherwise — hanged himself shortly thereafter. (Polley, in a move that even most scumbags would be disgusted by, tried to cash in on Ham’s life insurance.) Inconsolable and unable to restart his own career in music, Tom Evans — who reportedly said numerous times over the ensuing years that he wanted to be “where [Pete] is” — also hanged himself eight years later. Badfinger finally got a sliver of the rediscovery they deserve when their 1972 song “Baby Blue” was used in the series finale of Breaking Bad. The nod helped the song’s Spotify streams jump an astounding 9,000 percent in the hours after the show ended, and to sell 5,000 copies of the single on iTunes in a single night.

 

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Tales of Rock – Red Hot Chili Peppers Lose Two Guitarists in a Row to Heroin

You can’t stop rock and roll…

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drug story is uniquely repetitive. It basically goes like this: Their guitarist has an adverse reaction to success, gets addicted to heroin and disappears—they’ve been through this twice. First, in 1988, after releasing their third album, the band’s first to hit the Billboard chart, Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Kiedis and guitarist Hillel Slovak had developed serious drug addictions. Slovak died from this in June 1988 and Kiedis was too gone to attend his funeral. RHCP regrouped, but drummer Jack Irons quit, saying he couldn’t handle the level of tragedy surrounding the band.

The band eventually replaced Irons with Chad Smith and Slovak with guitarist John Frusciante, and went on to record and release the most successful albums of its career; Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The latter album spawned four huge singles and launched the band on the charts, radio, MTV, television appearances and stadium tours. Frusciante wasn’t comfortable with this level of success and said so, and began behaving and even playing erratically. He and Kiedis stopped speaking, and he quit the band while touring Japan in 1993.

The Peppers, meanwhile, moved on; the Spinal Tap-esque nature of the band’s guitar slot continued as it played Lollapalooza with one guitarist, fired him and hired another, fired him and finally recruited Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro to play Woodstock ’94 and record an album. Navarro left the band because, as he later joked to Kurt Loder, “I don’t make funny faces.” Surprisingly, Frusciante, newly and firmly sober, returned for three more albums with the band before departing again. As usual, RHCP got a new guitarist and kept at it.

 

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Tales of Rock – Jim Morrison in Concert

“You’re all a bunch of idiots. What are you gonna do about it?” Then he said: “Let’s see a little skin, let’s get naked.”

Jim Morrison was one of the most charismatic singers in the history of rock music. He was a smart man and had a genius-level I.Q. of 149. Morrison was a great poet and was known for using spoken word poetry passages during his live performances. Jim would sing and then talk with the crowd. He was a social rebel that suffered from severe drug and alcohol abuse.

Morrison had the ability to spark riots and shifted the behavior of a crowd with his intense emotional sound. For this reason, Jim became a target for music censorship and was closely monitored by the U.S. government. He was accompanied by police on stage during many venues.

Jim Morrison was known for making wild and outrageous remarks during shows. One of the most infamous cases occurred on December 9, 1967, while The Doors performed at the New Haven Arena in Connecticut. During the concert Morrison was arrested by local police and became the first rock star to be taken off stage during a live performance. On the day in question, Morrison was discovered kissing a fan in the shower before the concert. A police officer found the couple and told them to separate, so Morrison responded “Eat it.” The policeman warned Morrison with mace saying “Last chance” to which he replied, “Last chance to eat it.” In response, the officer sprayed Jim Morrison in the face with the mace.

The New Haven concert was delayed for an hour so Jim could recover, but the event made him extremely angry. During The Doors first set Morrison suddenly broke into an obscenity-laced tirade to the audience and explained what had happened backstage. He verbally abused the New Haven police, so they arrested him. After Morrison was taken off stage the crowd began to riot. The violence spilled from the gates of the New Haven Arena into the streets.

Over the next couple years the behavior of Jim Morrison became more erratic and unpredictable. On March 1, 1969, The Doors gave their most controversial performance at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami. During the show Morrison began to preach messages of peace and hate. He taunted the crowd by screaming “You’re all a bunch of idiots. What are you gonna do about it?” Then he said: “Let’s see a little skin, let’s get naked.” In response, people began to take off their clothing, including Morrison. Jim was later convicted of indecent exposure. He turned down a plea bargain from the Miami police who agreed to drop the charges if The Doors performed a free concert.

The Doors gave there last public performance with Jim Morrison at The Warehouse in New Orleans on December 12, 1970. During the show, Morrison experienced a breakdown on stage and slammed the microphone numerous times into the floor until the platform beneath was destroyed. He then sat down on the ground and refused to perform for the remainder of the show. The event caused The Doors to end their live acts, citing their mutual agreement that Morrison was ready to retire from performing.

Morrison joined his then girlfriend Pamela Courson in Paris in March 1971, at an apartment he had rented on the rue Beautreillis (in the 4th arrondissement of Paris on the Right Bank). In letters he described going for long walks through the city, alone. During this time, he shaved his beard and lost some of the weight he had gained in the previous months. He died on July 3, 1971 at age 27. He was found by Courson in a bathtub at his apartment. The official cause of death was listed as heart failure,although no autopsy was performed, as it was not required by French law.

 

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Tales of Rock: Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Frontman, Dies at 52

So sad…

I was going to publish a piece today about Sly Stone ending up living in a van.

But not now.

Wednesday I was home, writing the epilogue of another lost girlfriend, and listening to Soundgarden and the solo work of Chris Cornell. I never do that. I was actually listening to Badmotorfinger, the full album on You Tube, while I wrote my blog. The irony has struck me hard, and I am still trying to understand what is happening. I love the song “You Know My Name” from the James Bond film, Casino Royale. I always think of it as my theme song.

I woke up Thursday to a text from my buddy, Church that Chris had passed. I was shocked and saddened. It comes with a heavy heart that I publish today’s blog.

Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, has died at 52.

The death of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell has been ruled a suicide by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“The Medical Examiner has completed the autopsy on 52-year-old Chris Cornell, the Soundgarden musician who died last night in Detroit. The cause of death has been determined as hanging by suicide. A full autopsy report has not yet been completed. There is no additional information at this time.”

Spokesman Brian Bumbery told the Associated Press that Cornell was found in his hotel room at the MGM Grand Detroit following a tour date at Detroit’s Fox Theatre with the reunited Soundgarden, the band he’d fronted for over 30 years

Dontae Freeman, media relations manager for the Detroit Police Department, later told the newspaper, “He was found in his room with a band around his neck, but (the report) doesn’t say if it was attempted suicide or not.”

Cornell had appeared to be in good spirits Wednesday when he tweeted, “Finally back to Rock City” before the show. However, Freeman noted that the singer’s wife, Vicky Karayiannis, asked a family friend and asked him to check on Cornell after the show later that evening. The friend forced open his hotel room door and found Cornell unresponsive on the bathroom floor.

Bumbery called Cornell’s death “sudden and unexpected” and said his wife and family are in shock. The statement said the family would be working closely with the Wayne County medical examiner to determine the cause and have asked for privacy.

Chris was born in 1964 in Seattle and helped form Soundgarden 20 years later. Sub Pop, then a fledgling record label, released the group’s first single, “Hunted Down,” in 1987, as well as two subsequent EPs. The group’s debut album, “Ultramega OK,” came a year later.

“Badmotorfinger,” released in 1991, benefited from the swell of attention that was beginning to surround the Seattle scene, where Soundgarden, along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, were playing a high-octane, high-angst brand of rock ’n’ roll. Soundgarden’s musical journeys tended toward the knotty and dark, plunging into off-kilter meters and punctuated by Mr. Cornell’s voice, which could quickly shift from a soulful howl to a gritty growl.

Three of Soundgarden’s studio albums have been certified platinum, including “Superunknown,” from 1994, which featured “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell on Black Days,” “Spoonman” and “My Wave.”

The group — which includes the guitarist Kim Thayil, the bassist Ben Shepherd and the drummer Matt Cameron — disbanded in 1997, but it reunited in 2010 and performed regularly since then. In a review of a 2011 concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, The New York Times chief pop critic Jon Pareles called Soundgarden “one reunited band that can pick up right where it left off.” In 2012, it released “King Animal,” its first album in 16 years, which Mr. Pareles said “sounds like four musicians live in a room, making music that clenches and unclenches like a fist.”

The group played at the Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday night, and it had been scheduled to perform in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday at the Rock on the Range festival.

Chris appeared to be active on social media in the hours before his death. A post on his Twitter account on Wednesday announced that the group had arrived in Detroit, and a clip of the group’s 2012 release “By Crooked Steps” was posted to his official Facebook page hours before his death.

Chris had admitted in interviews to struggling with drug use throughout his life. In a 1994 Rolling Stone article, he described himself as a “daily drug user at 13,” who had quit by the time he turned 14.

After Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, Mr. Cornell returned to heavy drug use, he told The Guardian in a 2009 interview, describing himself as a “pioneer” in the abuse of the opiate OxyContin, and saying that he had gone to rehab.

Chris released five solo albums during and after his time with Soundgarden, starting with the 1999 LP “Euphoria Morning.” His 2007 album “Carry On” featured an acoustic cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that served as the inspiration for a well-received version of the song on “American Idol.” He contributed the song “Seasons” to the soundtrack of “Singles,” Cameron Crowe’s love letter to the Seattle music scene, and performed alongside other members of Soundgarden in the film.

In 2001, after Rage Against the Machine’s lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, left the group, Mr. Cornell and members of the band formed Audioslave. The group released three albums before announcing its split in 2007.

In November 2016, Chris hit the road for the first time with another supergroup of sorts, Temple of the Dog, which features a blend of members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The group was formed a quarter-century ago as a tribute to Andrew Wood, the lead singer of the Seattle bands Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, who died in March 1990 of a heroin overdose.

Speaking to The New York Times, Chris said the group had decided to finally bring its songs to life to honor Mr. Wood. “I thought, well, this is one thing that I can do to remind myself and maybe other people of who this guy is and was and keep his story and in a way his life with us,” he said.

Incidentally, in a final footnote, I just learned that Chris was taking Antivan for depression. Two of the side effects of that drug can be “More Depression” and “Suicidal Thoughts.”

And in a final grim note, the final song of the show he played in Detroit that night. The final song Chris would ever play, was Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying.”

Thanks to everyone for following phicklephilly right up to my 100th blog post. It just sucks that it had to be about this. The Cornell family are in our thoughts and prayers.

 

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Tales of Rock – Scott Weiland Buys Heroin While Dressed as a Pimp

While on probation, he moved into a hotel room next to Courtney Love, and claims the two began doing drugs together.

Stone Temple Pilots might have been initially seen as a contrived grunge act by critics, but their frontman, Scott Weiland, sure matched Seattle’s finest in drug consumption. (To me they always seemed like Alice in Chains-Lite)

Scott began using heroin with singer Gibby Haynes while STP was on tour with the Butthole Surfers in 1994. The following year he was arrested while buying crack cocaine.

While on probation, he moved into a hotel room next to Courtney Love, and claims the two began doing drugs together. In 1998, he was arrested buying heroin, reportedly while dressed as a pimp. In 2003, he got in a car crash while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but charges were dismissed after he successfully completed rehab. Thereafter, Weiland transitioned to DUIs with arrests in ’07 and ’08, the latter incident involving jail time.

During all this, he was in and out of STP, launched a solo career and, in 2003, joined Velvet Revolver, a supergroup comprised of himself and three former members of Guns N’ Roses, definitely great guys to hang around while trying to kick a drug habit. In 2011, he cut a Christmas album—go figure.

Though derided by critics early in his career, Weiland’s onstage persona was known as being flamboyant and chaotic; he was also known for constantly changing his appearance and vocal style, his use of a megaphone in concert for vocal effect, as well as his battles with substance abuse. Now widely viewed as a talented and versatile vocalist, Weiland has been ranked in the Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists by Hit Parader.

In 2012, shortly before his departure from Stone Temple Pilots, Weiland formed Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, receiving mixed reviews: some critics and fans noted Weiland’s apparently failing health and dwindling energy. While touring for his 2015 album, Blaster, Weiland died of a drug overdose on his tour bus in Minnesota at the age of 48. Upon his death, many critics and peers offered re-evaluation of Weiland’s life and career, including David Fricke of Rolling Stone and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, the latter calling Weiland one of three “voices of the generation” alongside Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley.

 

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Tales of Rock – Kickstart My Heart

Nikki just can’t kill himself enough times!

One of the most notorious party animals of the 1980s was Mötley Crüe’s bassist Nikki Sixx. In 1981, Sixx founded Mötley Crüe with drummer Tommy Lee. To date Mötley Crüe has sold over 80 million records. In the 1980s, the band gained a reputation for drugs, loud music, sex, and wild parties. The group was known for backstage antics, groupies, outrageous clothing, extreme high-heeled boots, and heavily applied make-up. All the members of Mötley Crüe suffered from alcoholism and long addictions to drugs, but Sixx was the only one that abused heroin. Nikki Sixx has estimated that he overdosed on heroin “about half a dozen times.”

In 1986, Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin at a drug dealer’s house in London. The dealer reportedly tried to beat the life back into Sixx with a bat, but was unsuccessful so he dumped the body in a nearby dumpster. Sixx eventually woke up in the trash. The event was the inspiration behind the lyric “Valentine’s in London, found me in the trash” from the Mötley Crüe song Dancing on Glass.
In 1987, Mötley Crüe was part of the Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction Tour. During the tour, Guns N’ Roses was the opening act for a number of poplar bands including Mötley Crüe. On the night of December 23, 1987, Nikki Sixx was doing heroin in guitarist Slash’s hotel room when he suffered a drug overdose. Slash was not in the room at the time, but his girlfriend called the authorities. When the paramedics arrived Sixx was hardly breathing.

During the ride to the hospital Sixx stopped breathing and was declared dead for two minutes. The paramedics continued to apply care to Sixx until he was eventually revived. Nikki claims to have had an out-of-body experience during the event. When he woke up in the hospital, Sixx ripped the tubes out of his nose and escaped into the parking lot. He hitched a ride to his house wearing just a pair of leather pants. He then continued to shoot up heroin and was found sleeping with the syringe still in his arm. Soon after the story made international news Mötley Crüe entered rehab. In 1989, the band released the hit single Kickstart My Heart, which was inspired by the infamous overdose.

 

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Tales of Rock – Courtney Love is Crazy

Did she kill her husband?

I have a difficult time including Courtney Love in the presence of these rock stars, but I don’t have a problem calling her crazy. Courtney Love is a musician that gained notoriety in the late 1980s with her band Hole. She was married to Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain until he passed away in 1994. Love is known for extreme and erratic behavior. She has been implemented by a private investigator named Tom Grant in the possible murder of Cobain.

In the weeks prior to Kurt Cobain’s suicide Love hired Tom Grant to find her husband. After Kurt was discovered dead, Green said that he found strange activity on Cobain’s credit card. He believed that Kurt’s suicide note was actually a note written that was announcing his desire to end his marriage to Courtney Love. Green also cited Cobain’s unusual bloodstream heroin levels and the fact that no fingerprints were found on the trigger of the shotgun he used to kill himself as clues of foul play.

In 2009, the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, Frances Bean Cobain was granted a restraining order against her mother who was harassing her. Frances claimed that Courtney was a violent drug addict and compulsive hoarder. She was freighted for her safety and hoped to have her mother removed from her life.

In April of 2012, Courtney Love took to Twitter and provided a rant of crazy remarks. She attacked her daughter and Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana bandmate. Love implied that Grohl had intended to have a sexual relationship with Frances and called him “sexually obsessed” with Kurt Cobain. She even voiced her opinion about the upcoming U.S. presidential election and attacked Mitt Romney with some unprovoked and strange accusations.

Courtney threatened to shoot and kill Grohl on two separate occasions. The rant was unprovoked and completely false. Frances is currently engaged to a man named Isaiah Silva. After the comments, Frances responded and said that the social networking website should ban her mother. Grohl said: “Unfortunately Courtney is on another hateful Twitter rant. These new accusations are upsetting, offensive, and absolutely untrue.”

 

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