Tales of Rock: Insane Stories From Aerosmith’s Drug-Fueled Rise To The Top – Part 2

Tyler Remembers Being Embarrassed After Getting Too High To Perform

Steven Tyler has had several stints in rehab, but his most rampant drug use occurred throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Tyler remembers getting so high while he was performing that he frequently passed out on stage. Tyler told NME:

I can remember one time I fell down and my foot kept going like this [shakes foot wildly] and this guy carried me off and I went “I just drank too much.” I was embarrassed. I literally couldn’t finish the show.

He added, “We just got caught up in it. We were too rich, too young, too dumb. That’s all. I just got caught up in it, I loved it. I went too far with it.”

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Steven Tyler Kept His Drugs In A Drum On Stage

Steven Tyler and the gang already had a roadie whose sole job was to give them continuous bumps of cocaine, but that wasn’t enough for Tyler, who kept his stash in a drum on stage.

“I kept my medicine cabinet on stage, in a 14-inch drum head, the bottom of which contained… one Dixie cup with a straw and blow in it and the other with Coca-Cola and Jack Daniels in it,” he wrote in Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

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The Band Wouldn’t Sleep With Groupies For 10 Days Before Going Home To Their Wives

For Aerosmith, cheating on their wives and girlfriends wasn’t so much a moral dilemma. The only real issue was getting caught. To prevent this, the band had a rule that no one would have sex for 10 days before the end of a tour. This allegedly gave them enough time to refuel their “reserves.”

 

“You didn’t have sex for 10 days at the end of tour, but that was so you’d be sure to go home with a full cup of chowder. If you didn’t, you were definitely suspect,” Tyler told Elle.

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Steven Tyler Fell Off Stage And Had To Be Airlifted To A Hospital

In 2009, a 61-year-old Steven Tyler found himself within inches of death when he fell off a stage during a performance in Rapid City, South Dakota. The singer had been snorting the sleep aid Lunesta when he took a tumble. Tyler was airlifted to a local hospital where he got 20 stitches in the back of his head and discovered that his shoulder was shattered.

 

“I was doing the Tyler shuffle and then I zigged when I should have zagged…AND I slipped, and as I live on the edge… I fell off the edge,” Tyler said in a statement.

 

The singer managed to finish the song like a pro, but the band had to cancel their tour. Tyler, who has a titanium knee from a previous stage accident, was “grateful” that he didn’t break his neck and later admittedto being high during the accident.

ROCKThe Best Aerosmith Albums of All Timesee more Aerosmith lists
Joe Perry Played Guitar On An Unsettling Song By Serge Gainsbourg
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Video: YouTube

Aerosmith aren’t strangers to singing about attraction to family members, but “Janie’s Got a Gun” doesn’t hold a candle to French pop singer Serge Gainsbourg’s song “Lemon Incest,” a duet about interbreeding sung with his young daughter in far-too-intimate tones. When translated into English, the lyrics read “Exquisite outline, delicious child, my flesh and blood/Oh my baby, my soul/incest lemon, lemon incest.” The video featured a shirtless Gainsbourg lying in bed with his daughter. Joe Perry lent his guitar skills to the track.

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Joe Perry Claims Steven Tyler Tried To Get Involved In One Of His Relationships

When Joe Perry was 21 years old, he had an affair with actress Judy Carne, who was 11 years his senior. Judy opened his eyes to a new world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. She had a doctor’s bag that was filled with cocaine, pill bottles, powders and syringes. Most of her drugs were totally legal, prescribed to her by a doctor. She even managed to get a prescription of cocaine.

 

This was all very attractive to Steven Tyler, especially because Carne was generous when it came to sharing her drugs. According to Perry, Tyler not only wanted to get into her stash, but he wanted to have a threesome and repeatedly called Perry hoping to be invited over. During this time, Carne was bed-ridden because of an injury, and Perry wasn’t having it.

 

“I now sensed that Steven wanted to get into her doctor’s bag — and maybe get into something else. I never invited him over,” Perry recalled in his memoir Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith. “Forced to stay off her fee, Judy was naked most of the time and didn’t want company. I had no interest in a threesome and neither did she. We just wanted to be alone.”

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Steven Tyler Never Told His Band He Was Joining ‘American Idol,’ And They Were Furious

Steven Tyler wasn’t in a good place with his bandmates when he started thinking about being a judge on American Idol. The Aerosmith singer had recently undergone surgery after falling from a stage and being taken to a hospital. None of his bandmates visited him during his recovery, which definitely soured the singer. His bandmates weren’t too thrilled either when they found out Tyler had taken the job behind their backs. Joe Perry reported to the Boston Herald that he discovered Tyler’s new gig through the internet “like the rest of the world.”

 

Tyler’s bandmates were furious that the singer became an American Idol judge without telling them, and they consistently threatened to replace the singer in their project of 40 years.

 

“It’s his business, but I don’t want Aerosmith’s name involved with [American Idol]. We have nothing to do with it,” Perry said in an interview. “[Idol] is a reality show designed to get people to watch that station and sell advertising… it’s one step above Ninja Turtles… [You’ve got] four guys that are great together, and if you find the right singer, there’s no reason you can’t go and entertain people,” he added.

 

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Tales of Rock: Insane Stories From Aerosmith’s Drug-Fueled Rise To The Top – Part 1

Just how much did Aerosmith embrace the sex and drugs typically associated with a rock-and-roll lifestyle? Well, if it’s any indication, enigmatic front man Steven Tyler estimates he blew through a whopping $20 million on drugs. Their drug use was so notorious that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were labeled the “Toxic Twins.”

Most of Aerosmith’s stories of debauchery take place long before most people ever heard the now-legendary “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” in the Armageddon soundtrack. The ’70s and ’80s were the band’s most hedonistic years, during which Tyler and Perry would swap women as wantonly as they would swap drugs. They even hired a roadie just to sneak cocaine under their noses during live shows.

Since their height of fame, Tyler appears to have come out on the other side and sticks to a strict 12-step program after numerous stints in rehab. That doesn’t erase the over-indulgent, mind-boggling toxic twins stories of Aerosmith’s past. Here are some of the craziest, most unbelievable shenanigans the band carried out in their nearly 50-year career.

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Tyler Remembers Sharing Women – And STIs – With Perry

Aerosmith, like most rock bands of the ’70s, were known for the sheer amount of groupies they worked their way through during their chart-topping career. Even though there were certainly enough women to go around, sometimes the band members decided to share. This didn’t always go in their favor. In fact, after one group love-making session, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry woke up in the same bed only to find out later that everyone had developed an STD.

 

“I remember one night on the road when Joe and I were sharing a bed with two girls and woke up in the morning with a seafood blue plate special…” Tyler wrote in his memoir Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? “Crabs for everybody!”

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Perry And Tyler Confirmed The Band Had A Roadie Whose Sole Job Was To Give Them Cocaine

The guys from Aerosmith were the kind of rock stars who didn’t wait until after the show to party. Both Joe Perry and Steven Tyler hired a roadie whose sole job was to give them bumps of cocaine during their set.

Joe [Perry] had vials of coke with straws in them at the back of the stage, and when the lights would go out he’d go over there like he was checking something or making a guitar change and [a roadie] would put the straw in his nose; he’d take a hit, then the lights would come on again,”

Tyler wrote in Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? Perry confirmed this fact to NME:

“Yep,” he said when asked if Tyler hired a roadie to give them coke on stage. “We’ve done everything… stuff happens man, and we’ve done it and managed to survive. We’re lucky.

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They Once Got Arrested And Narrowly Evaded Serious Jail Time By Ditching Their Drugs In The Police Station

Aerosmith’s drug habits were so notorious that it’s unsurprising they had a few run-ins with the law. One of the most nerve-wracking was when they got pulled over, arrested, and taken to the police station with drugs in their pockets.

 

Bassist Tom Hamilton recalled the incident. The band was driving around the New Jersey Turnpike in a rented van. Each of them had drugs in their pockets when they were pulled over by the police. After a search, the officer spotted a marijuana seed in the car. He handcuffed the five of them and hauled them off to jail.  They were handcuffed to a railing in their cell so they were a fair distance apart from each other. So how did they get out of it? A little bit of luck and a little quick-thinking.

 

“Brad actually had two bags of pot,” Hamilton told NME.

There was a room right adjacent to where we were handcuffed and there was an empty room, lights were off. Steven said “Gimme the pot, Gimme the pot,” and he just chucked two bags of pot into this room. Then we waited a while. Then a detective or somebody came down, flicked the lights on and said “Okay, time to fingerprint you guys.” So, we all went in one by one to get finger printed and everybody could see where the pot was, but the police didn’t.

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Angry Crew Members Used The Band’s Catering As Toilet Paper

Aerosmith band members were big stars with big personalities. No doubt their wild antics were a lot to handle – especially for the people in charge of making their shows run smoothly. Sometimes, the crew would get really angry and retaliate in the most disgusting of ways, or so Tyler remembers. Apparently, some scorned crew members would regularly wipe their butts with the bologna on Aerosmith’s catering tray and put it back for the band to consume like nothing ever happened.

 

“I found out years later (through a crew member confessional) that when the techs would get pissed off at the band, they’d wipe their ass with the bologna and put back on the deli tray,” Tyler wrote in Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

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California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – My Altamont Moment

We were playing this gig at the Roxy one night. May have been ’83 by then. Girls were never a problem. Anybody who doesn’t believe guitars are chick magnets has obviously never strapped on a guitar before. Anyway, we played all over the state, working pretty steady, staying in all manner of “band housing”. We were at a better-than-average club and doing our normal thing.

This particular night the bar was having a drawing for something, I can’t remember what. We were going to have a longer break than usual after one of our sets so they could use our PA to do the drawing. I went to the bar and was getting a coke. A rather attractive girl asked me if we did a certain song she liked, to which I nodded and replied “next set, I think”. Our drummer was standing there waiting on me, as he wanted to get in a game of pool while we waited for the drawing to get over. We went to the tables and he racked up the game. I was lining up my first shot when I heard “hey, asshole”. I, of course, looked up to see who was calling who an asshole. What I saw was what turned out to be the butt end of a pool cue coming at my face at rather high velocity. It caught me on the bridge of my nose. I’m done. I’m collapsed on the pool table, screaming, blood pouring from my face. The drummer tackled the guy swinging the cue as he was lining up for another whack at me. Then the singer (not a small guy) jumped in. They, with a bouncer, dragged the guy out thru the kitchen and behind the bar where they damn near killed him. Turns out the attractive girl who asked me about the song had an extremely jealous ex-boyfriend who was in the bar and saw her talking to me.

A couple days later, after the swelling went down and my eyes were able to open, she took me to dinner. She was really embarrassed over the whole thing. Just dinner, too. She had another boyfriend already, a cop. Who just happened to be the responding officer that night who ended up arresting ex-boyfriend for assault. Guess there were a few too many witnesses for him to claim self defense.

Rock n’ Roll!

 

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Tales of Rock – 5 Respected Musicians Who Were Actually Terrible People

Some musicians just have a freakish amount of talent. Most of us learn at a young age that we are not those people. The realization probably came as soon as you were old enough to read social cues and you tried showing off your amazing talents to anyone except your pet. (Daisy is a very good dog, but maybe not a very good judge of musical ability.) Those who do have that freakish amount of talent are the singer-songwriters, the people who can play any instrument they pick up, the ones who get lost in the music of their own making whether they’re in the studio or on stage. There’s something almost magical about listening to a true musical genius, and they’ve definitely earned our respect. But it’s easy to forget that behind all that music is a very ordinary person, and sometimes, that ordinary person is a terrible human being.

1. Johnny Cash’s troubles with women

5 Respected musicians who were actually terrible people

There’s a lot of dark stuff in Johnny Cash’s life, but let’s talk about just how horrible he was to women. Vivian Cash’s book I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny was a heartbreaking tell-all detailing how she continued loving her husband even through the drugs and the affair with his more famous second partner, June Carter Cash. It was Vivian who gave him four daughters, raised them, and who stuck with him through the worst of the arrests and the accidental forest fires (via USA Today), but Johnny gave all the credit to June.

Behind closed doors, June Carter didn’t actually have it any easier, in spite of the storybook romance performed in the public eye. Biographer Robert Hilburn (via Esquire) says he was stunned when he found out Cash had cheated on her when she was pregnant with son John Carter. There were more than a few women, but the one that had to hurt the most was June’s own sister, Anita. John Carter has also gone on record talking about his parents’ less-than-perfect marriage, and has said (via Reuters) his mother’s drug addictions and descent into paranoia came from a near-constant fear he was cheating yet again. That fear spread to their son, who grew up well aware that his family could fall apart at any time because his father couldn’t stay faithful.

2. Chuck Berry’s icky past

5 Respected musicians who were actually terrible people

Chuck Berry was a legend who helped shape rock and roll, and when he died in 2017, The New Yorker described him as “a proud and difficult man” who “was also a genius.” He also once punched Keith Richards in the mouth for touching his guitar while they were getting together to organize Berry’s 60th birthday party. That’s the attitude that got him into all kinds of trouble, and Berry even had a name for those incidents: his “naughties.”

It started when, as a teenager, he did three years in a reform school for stealing cars and a bit of armed robbery. Fast-forward to 1962, when Berry was 36 years old. He was tossed in the clink for violating the Mann Act, a law that prohibits taking a woman across state lines with “immoral” intentions. Oh, and the girl was 14. He served 20 months of the three years he was originally sentenced to (via NPR), getting out because they appealed after the judge made racist comments.

Let’s not forget about the 1989 accusations, either. That’s when law enforcement raided his property and found a few weapons, some pot, and videotapes of women in what they thought was the privacy of bathrooms and changing rooms of his properties. The official suit, says Riverfront Times, accused him of filming women in compromising positions for “entertainment and gratification.” Berry’s camp eventually settled, but that seriously tarnishes any legacy.

3. Lead Belly’s penchant for violence

5 Respected musicians who were actually terrible people

Lead Belly died in 1949, and if you don’t remember him, you should at least be glad groups like Creedence Clearwater Revival and artists like Bob Dylan didn’t forget him. Even George Harrison once said, “No Lead Belly, no Beatles.” You know the songs he recorded, too — like “The Midnight Special” and “Goodnight Irene” (via The Telegraph).

Huddie Ledbetter was born in 1888, and he picked up the name Lead Belly in prison. He did several stretches in jail, starting with 30 days on a chain gang in 1915 for getting in a particularly violent fight. Two years later he was arrested again, this time for killing his cousin’s husband and nearly killing another. He was pardoned in 1925 but went back in jail in 1930, this time for stabbing and what Black History Now says was “assault with intent to murder.” It was during this stint he was discovered by a pair of musicologists who were recording songs for the Smithsonian, and Lead Belly recorded hundreds for them. The rest of his life was a combination of performing at venues of all sizes across the country, and more time in jail. There was another stabbing incident in 1939, assault in 1940 … you get the picture. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease only months before he died from it, and he left behind an incredible legacy. And some dead people.

4. Elvis’s underage flings

5 Respected musicians who were actually terrible people

It’s impossible to describe the effect Elvis had on music history, so let’s get right to the dirt. He was 21 when he became ridiculously famous with the success of “Heartbreak Hotel,” and after that, all bets were off when it came to how far he was going to go. Along with the fame and fortune came the admiration of countless women, but according to biographer Joel Williamson (via Broadly), there was a particular type of woman Elvis liked: the really, really young ones.

The right age to be an Elvis girl was 14, and when the 22-year-old megastar went on those early tours he took along a little group of 14-year-olds. Williamson says he was a huge fan of tickling and wrestling, along with everything else short of actual intercourse. Future wife Priscilla was 14 when they met (he was 24), and just what went on behind closed doors is debated. What’s not debated is that he lost interest in her after Lisa Marie was born, and went on to court another 14-year-old named Reeca Smith.

There was a bit of violence in Elvis, too. Years later, he was engaged to a 21-year-old who claimed he once pulled out a gun and put a bullet in the headboard of the bed she was sleeping in, saying it was “an attention getter.” The Guardian says in between those major relationships there were a ton of others, many with underage girls who preferably had tiny, tiny feet.

5. Frank Sinatra’s destructive temper

5 Respected musicians who were actually terrible people

Frank Sinatra was iconic on stage, but there was a lot of shady stuff that happened off-stage. Let’s talk about one part of that: his temper. According to The Telegraph, it was so bad that one of his wives once described him as a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde character, and there’s a whole list of physical altercations he was involved in. First, the ones where someone got seriously hurt.

He punched a reporter in 1948, eventually settling the assault and battery charges filed against him. He was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel when he threw a phone at a random businessman who was also there, and cracked the man’s skull. He nearly killed his then-wife Ava Gardner by throwing a champagne bottle at her so hard it cracked the bathroom sink.

Sinatra destroyed an insane amount of stuff, too, usually in fits of rage. He took a knife to a Norman Rockwell painting and shredded it, threw a malfunctioning TV out a window at Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, and smashed a car radio when The Doors’ “Light My Fire” came on. GQ says some of the stuff that met an untimely end under his boot was pretty priceless, too, like the Ming vase he destroyed at a Hong Kong hotel after someone missed a lighting cue. That’s what happens when you get too used to having things your way.

 

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Tales of Rock – Right Said Fred Turned Out … Kind Of Awesome?

Thanks to any movie or TV show that has ever had a makeover scene, Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” will never die.

Even Taylor Swift sampled it. That song alone could have kept sibling duo Fred and Richard Fairbrass in fishnet shirts for decades to come, but they weren’t done. The host of the BBC’s Gaytime TV (yep) in the ’90s, Richard has long been a prominent member of the UK LGBT scene, but something happened in 2007 that convinced him he needed to become a political powerhouse. Shortly after announcing his intention to run for mayor of London, he set out for Moscow to attend a gay rights march, where he was brutally assaulted by counter-protesters. Far from being discouraged, Fairbrass went right home and marched some more.

Right Said Fred reached the height of political disco (which they almost certainly invented) when it was reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had downloaded some of their songs from iTunes. They responded with a full-on diss track against Assad, brazenly singing that he was “too awful for this earth,” and a war criminal who should be tried for his offenses.

It turned out the one thing they weren’t too sexy for was justice.

 

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Tales of Rock – Rod Stewart was a Teen Dad

Like Charlie Sheen, ’70s rock legend Rod Stewart had a reputation for being quite the ladies man. So, it’s not surprising that he also became a dad in his late teens. According to The Daily Mail, Stewart got his girlfriend of one year, Susannah Boffey, pregnant with their daughter, Sarah Streeter, when they were both 18-years-old in 1963. Stewart, who had yet to find success in his singing career, wanted to give the child up for adoption. Boffey initially refused, and tried to raise baby Sarah on her own, but found it too difficult, and after several months, eventually agreed to the suggestion.

After many years, and several awkward encounters during the ’80s when her true identity was discovered, Streeter and Stewart started piecing their relationship back together around 2010, after the death of Streeter’s adoptive mother. Streeter remained estranged from her birth mother for “20 years,” telling The Mail they “don’t get on.”

“The relationship broke down somewhat because she was a bit awkward and had a big chip on her shoulder which I can’t blame her [for]. But in the last couple of years we’ve become somewhat close,” Stewart told Piers Morgan of his once-estranged daughter in 2011 (via The Daily Mail.) “It’s all water under the bridge now. It’s nerve-racking, too, but just as much so for him as it is for me,” Streeter told The Mail.

Stewart went on to impregnate four other women with seven other children (pictured above), of whom he now says, “It’s the best, proudest feeling to look at your kids.” Well, we sure hope so, Rod, you busy boy, you.

 

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Tales of Rock – In Search Of The Forgotten Heroes Of 70s Rock

Oh, I love this so much!

We all know about the 70s. The Beatles quit, glam came along — T.RexBowie, Slade; in the background, Floyd, Zeppelin and Sabbath sold squillions of records as 70s rock icons. Yes, ELP, Mike Oldfield and Genesis did prog for educated chaps. Then disco: ELO, ABBA and Queencompeted with it, then joined it. Punk rebelled, then came post-punk and Joy Division, plus 2-Tone. There was other stuff, like Bob Marley and Eagles. And we wore platform-heeled hot pants. Cool. Perhaps.

But are the 2010s only about Adele and Ed Sheeran? Beneath their mass appeal lies hundreds of other acts making great music. It was the same for 70s rock coulda-beens: brilliant bands rocked audiences of thousands, made fantastic albums, then faded. Fondly remembered by a troupe of diehards, these acts are almost ignored by the rock’n’roll historians — though many deserved to be lauded like their celebrated contemporaries. Here are but a few: remember them with love, or discover them afresh.

It wasn’t enough for Focus to boast a brilliant guitarist in Jan Akkerman; they had a wily way with a tune and succeeded with an unfashionable form of rock: instrumentals. Focus were The Netherlands’ leading 70s rock band. Formed in 1969, they won attention through early single ‘House Of The King’. The theme for four UK TV series(!), the unwary might have mistaken it for a Jethro Tull ditty thanks to the flute of Thijs Van Leer, though his group were very different. Their second album, 1971’s II, was Focus’ breakthrough, delivering an international hit in the fierce ‘Hocus Pocus’. Their third album delivered the elegant descending melody of ‘Sylvia’, winning further fans worldwide, with Akkerman drawing admiration. The guitarist left in 1976 but returned several times; Focus are still on the road.

 

Akkerman wasn’t alone: the 70s adored a guitar hero. Robin Trower, formerly of Procol Harum, was seen by some listeners as the heir to Jimi Hendrix. Trower formed his own power trio in 1973, teasing weeping and wailing from his Stratocaster over a series of fine records, and riding high in the album chart with Bridge Of Sighs in ’74 and For Earth Below in ’75 — chiefly in the US, rather than his native UK. Another notable guitar band were Wishbone Ash, though they went one further, with the double lead axes and vocals of Andy Powell and Ted Turner mesmerising fans. Pilgrimage (1971) and Argus (1972) were 70s rock classics, mixing melody, blues and a mythological element. Their ‘Blowin’ Free’ was banned from some guitar shops which grew sick of budding strummers playing its intro. Among them was Steve Harris, heartbeat of Iron Maiden, for whom the Ash was a major influence.

The second-division 70s rock bands were not remotely generic. Behind the sleeve artwork of famed designer Roger Dean, Osibisa played Afro-rock that mixed Ghanaian highlife, searing rock and Caribbean grooves; ignore their biggest hit, ‘Sunshine Day’, and check out their eponymous debut LP and its ’74 follow-up, Woyaya: both made loon pants rave. The Strawbs blended folk (Sandy Denny was an early member, as was Rick Wakeman) with rock, glam and social comment, hitting with ‘Part Of The Union’ and ‘Lay Down’ in 1972. The band were too diverse for its own good, though Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios (1970) and Grave New World (’72) were widely played and respected. And spare a thought for the Illinois singer-songwriter Emitt Rhodes, a multi-tracking one-man-band given the tag of “the new Paul McCartney”. Gulp. His second, self-titled, album is so full of beautiful, melodic tunes, tending to the baroque, that it’s baffling that it only made №29 in the US in 1970. Talent? You bet.

 

The harmonious progressive rock of California quartet Ambrosia illuminated the second half of the 70s. Their imaginative eponymous debut (1975) adapted a Kurt Vonnegut poem for the single ‘Nice, Nice, Very Nice’, while ‘Holdin’ On To Yesterday’, an orchestrated beauty with the sort of beat now regarded as a downtempo groove, was a big US hit. The following year, Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled sent FM DJs quietly wild; further fame came when the group cut ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ for the Beatles/war documentary oddity All This And World War II. Scoring warm soul-styled hits in the 80s, these alluring soft rockers are still touring.

The wonderful Atlanta Rhythm Section faced one drawback: their acronym was ARS. But they made it. No prizes for guessing where they’re from. They delivered five albums between 1972–76, with little fuss and low sales figures: that changed in 1977 when ‘So Into You’, a cool, steady-chugging chunk of soulful Southern rock, went Top 10 in the US, bringing their A Rock And Roll Alternative with it. The next year they scored again with ‘Imaginary Lover’ and the strolling ‘I’m Not Going To Let It Bother Me Tonight’, both from the platinum-selling Champagne Jam. Further hits came courtesy of ‘Do It Or Die’ and a revival of ‘Spooky’ — two members of the band had been in Classics IV, who’d first hit with the in ’67. ARS were a class act.

Want something that blends with them? Try ‘Jackie Blue’ (1974), the biggest hit by Missouri’s Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Mixing AOR with country-influenced sounds (check out the boogie of ‘If You Want To Get To Heaven’) and a sense of the absurd (their third LP was called The Car Over The Lake Album, and the sleeve showed just that), they were a reliably fine time on vinyl between 1973–80.

 

Staying in the south, Wet Willie were named after a schoolyard prank but were no joke. From Alabama, they boasted five or six core members, plus backing singers The Williettes, who included British solo star Elkie Brooks for a while. Their biggest hit was the laconic, steady-rollin’ ‘Keep On Smilin’’ in 1974, title track to their fourth album. For the full blast of their grittily funky rock, however, try the previous year’s superb live set, Drippin’ Wet. And let’s also recall Manassas, who cut two fine albums in 1972–73. And they would be fine, since they were the vision of a bona fide superstar, Steven Stills, and featured Chris Hillman of The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers amid an array of truly great players. The group’s self-titled debut offered four sides of glorious rootsy country-rock — and whatever else took their fancy. Everyone involved thought the band was amazing, so why weren’t they bigger? Perhaps because fans wanted Crosby, Stills & Nash, instead.

At the opposite end of the fame spectrum, British 70s rock band Brinsley Schwarz, named after their guitarist, were famously over-hyped when flown to NYC to open at the Fillmore East in front of a gaggle of music hacks, but settled into a low-key country-rock and roots vibe that was a cornerstone of London pub-rock. Building a loyal, if small, following, they toured constantly, supported the likes of Wings and Dave Edmunds, but disbanded unheralded in 1975, leaving us half a dozen albums such as the country-inclined Nervous On The Road. Most members went on to success, notably bassist and songwriter Nick Lowe, who produced The Damned and Elvis Costello, was part of Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile, and wrote Dr Feelgood’s biggest hit, ‘Milk And Alcohol’. Another downbeat hero, Scottish guitarist Miller Anderson, breathed blues-fuelled fire into records by Keef Hartley Band, Savoy Brown, Ian Hunter, Jon Lord and many more. His sole solo set of the 70s, Bright City, on Decca’s progressive Deram imprint, was ambitious, thoughtful and had a theme concerning 70s urban life, with brilliant orchestral arrangements. It sold… not at all. A dirty rotten shame, as Anderson’s under-exposed vocal talent deserved exposure.

 

Prog stars Camel, led by guitarist/flautist Andy Latimer and featuring keyboardist Peter Bardens, cut Camel for MCA in ’72, featuring the climactic gem ‘Never Let Go’. Swapping to Deram, Mirage found a following in the US, and 1975’s instrumental suite, The Snow Goose, became a surprise runaway success, despite a dispute with Paul Gallico, the author of the kids’ book of the same name, involving an unseemly mix-up about whether the band were related to the cigarette brand (they weren’t). The following year’s Moonmadness was another hit amid various line-up changes, and the group kept charting until 1984.

Another act who had to earn it, baby, were prog stalwarts Barclay James Harvest, a quartet who got through five albums without pestering the Top 40, finally scoring with Live, a double set that reflected a fanbase built on hard graft. LPs such as Everyone Is Everyone ElseOctoberonand Time Honoured Ghosts are classics of their type, with great songs such as ‘Mocking Bird’ and the wry ‘Poor Man’s Moody Blues’ undeservedly little heard today. Then there’s Gentle Giant, who grew (and grew) from the psychedelic-era act Simon Dupree & The Big Sound (and late-60s curiosity The Moles) into one of the most reliable progressive bands of the 70s. While they barely hit in their native UK, a decade of albums on Vertigo label and Chrysalis won a strong following in the US, with Free Hand going Top 50, and the likes of Octopusand The Power And The Glory proving fascinating those with ears to hear.

 

Finally, two more British 70s rock bands who, sadly, barely registered: Spring, a highly melodious five-piece whose charming self-titled 1971 album is mostly recognised for copious use of the Mellotron (without sounding remotely like The Moody Blues). What ought to be more noted, however, are the heartfelt and distinctive vocals of Pat Moran, who went on to produce Iggy Pop, among many others. And should you think T2 is just a movie, you haven’t heard It’ll All Work Out In Boomland, a legendary progressive album that should have made stars of the trio that recorded it. If you want to know where Neil Young and Bowie meet, hear T2’s singer-drummer Peter Dunton, and you’ll also enjoy the tough guitar stylings of Keith Cross. Despite BBC sessions and an 80s reunion, fame proved elusive for the group. 70s rock fans didn’t know how lucky they were.

This has been one of my favorite Tales of Rock to write. These are glorious songs from my past that were nearly forgotten, but I resurrect them here for you to witness!

Enjoy!

 

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