Friday, January 28, 2011

Has it really been 25 years??

Holy crap I feel old! Cannot believe that its been 25 years since the Challenger disaster! Those images have been forever burned into my brain from the constant barrage of media coverage at the time. I was in college when I first heard the news and one of my friends came up to me and asked me if I had heard about the Challenger exploding. I thought they were joking and sarcastically said "yeah right"! Sadly, my friend, who was normally a trickster, was not joking this time. It was one of those lifetime events where you always remember where you were at the time when you heard the news, sort of like when my parents and grandparents remembered exactly where they were when they heard President Kennedy was shot or the 9/11 tragedy.

Its a little strange and eerie to see this footage again after all these years.

And of course I'm sure everyone watched President Ronald Reagan that night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

RIP Don Kirshner

Don Kirshner was a song publisher and rock producer who is best known for managing songwriting talent as well as successful pop groups, such as The Monkees and The Archies. He died of heart failure on January 17, 2011, at age 76 in Boca Raton, Florida.

As a producer-promoter, Kirshner was influential in starting off the career of singers and songwriters, including Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Sarah Dash of Labelle, as well as discovering the occasional rock act such as Kansas.

In the fall of 1972, Kirshner was asked by ABC Television to serve as executive producer and "creative consultant" for their new "In Concert" series, which aired every other week in the 11:30 p.m. slot normally showing The Dick Cavett Show. The following September, Kirshner left "In Concert" to produce and host his own syndicated weekly rock-concert program called Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. With its long-form live performances, as compared to rehearsed, often lip-synced performances that were the staple of earlier television shows like Shindig!, it was a new direction for pop music presentation. Many consider it the predecessor to MTV, even though the latter features many lip-synced performances.

The program presented many of the most successful rock bands of the era, but what was consistent week-to-week was Kirshner's deliberately flat delivery as the program host. In its final season Rock Concert was mostly hosted by Kirshner's son and daughter, whose delivery was the same as their father's. I remember Kirshner's wooden presentation style when it was lampooned on Saturday Night Live by Paul Shaffer. It was quite hilarious.

Below is a video from SNL with Paul Shaffer as Don Kirshner. It also features Gilda Radner as Candy Slice...classic SNL!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

He came from Outer Space, to save the Human Race

Looks like an alien, yet sings like a diva - Klaus Nomi was one of the 1980s' most profoundly bizarre characters. He was a cult figure in the New Wave underground scene, a genuine counter tenor who sang pop music like opera and brought opera to club audiences and made them like it. Nomi was known for his bizarrely theatrical live performances, heavy make-up, unusual costumes, and a highly stylized signature hairdo. His songs were equally unusual, ranging from synthesizer-laden interpretations of classical music opera to covers of 1960s pop standards like Chubby Checker's "The Twist" and Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes". He was one of David Bowie's backing singers during a 1979 performance on Saturday Night Live too, with Bowie sporting a Nomi influenced outfit so as not to be outdone by the performer *Oops I stand corrected! Bowie came up with that outfit first and Nomi adopted it for his stage show, making his own version of it!*. I will admit, Nomi wore it better! On the verge of international fame as a singer, he became instead one of the first gay artists to die of AIDS.  It such a shame that he died right before the explosion of MTV because his look and theatrics were made for video!

Even though he is gone, his influence is still apparent even today. Nomi's visual aesthetic has influenced women's fashion designers as Givenchy and Paco Rabanne, as well as men's fashions with designers such as Gareth Pugh and Bruno Pieters for Hugo Boss. In 2009, Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 2009 couture was influenced by Nomi and a recording of the Nomi Song was used in the runway show.

Below are some of Nomi's incredible performances - His voice will blow you away - Nomi was a one-of-a-kind performer:

8-Track Go 8-Track!

This time last year, Pepsi had introduced Pepsi Throwback and had a bunch of funny retro styled ads. My favorite one has to be the one with the Weltron 8-Track player. Too funny!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RIP Gerry Rafferty

In the late 70s, Gerry Rafferty ruled the airwaves.  I can remember groovin' to "Baker Street" and "Right Down the Line".  What I didn't realize was that he also co-wrote the song "Stuck in the Middle" when he was part of the band Stealers Wheel.  Sadly, he had issues with alcoholism and had suffered from liver failure during the last year of his life.  This is for you Gerry!