John Lennon was born on October 9th, 1940, in Liverpool, England. His mother sparked his interest in music early on, teaching him how to play the banjo and the piano. At 16 years old, Lennon was inspired by Elvis Presley to form his first band, “The Quarrymen,” with Paul McCartney. They played Skiffle, a music genre that was largely influenced by Blues, Jazz, and American Folk.
“The Quarrymen” turned into “The Silver Beatles,” before the bandmates settled on “The Beatles,” in 1960. Brian Epstein discovered “The Beatles” a year later, hanging on for the ride as they become the most popular band in Britain.
After the disbanding of the group in 1970, Lennon decided to debut a number of solo albums. “Imagine” and “Working Class Hero” are some of his most popular tracks. In 1971, he moved to an apartment in Manhattan, while the Nixon administration tried to have him deported for his anti-war lyrics and comments.
Lennon left the music business for a number years, but returned in 1980 with his new album, “Double Fantasy.” Only three weeks after its release, Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of his apartment. Lennon was only 40.
With 25 number-one singles, and honorable inductions in the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1987) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994), Lennon’s influence on Rock n’ Roll will continue to be admired. – Carl Butch, Simon Spengler, Don Monroe
Paul McCartney- The Rise of the Beatles
In 1957, a prodigy started to form when Paul McCartney met John Lennon at a music festival where Lennon’s band, the Quarrymen, were performing. By 1960, the group finally came together with a fresh name, the Beatles. Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best* joined together where they became regulars in playing at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
In Paul McCartney’s early life, McCartney’s father was a trumpet player and pianist who recommended Paul to take piano lessons, but McCartney stated he would rather learn to play by ear. McCartney’s father gave Paul a nickel-plated trumpet for his 14th birthday which he later sold for a Framus Zenith acoustic guitar. With this guitar McCartney wrote his first song, “I Lost My Little Girl” and composed another tune which would become “When I’m Sixty-Four” on the piano. American rhythm and blues was the influence on Paul McCartney’s song writing. Idols such as Little Richard became the inspiration behind McCartney’s love for music.
Their local fame in Liverpool earned them a chance to perform in Hamburg where they spent the next three years becoming experts at music. While there, Sutcliffe fell in love with local Astrid Kirchherr, an artist and photographer who facilitated in creating the Beatles’ look. Sutcliffe ended up leaving the band to move with Astrid, and McCartney was finally free to take over the bass for the Beatles. McCartney continues to play today and still draws in sold out crowds to his performances.
*The Beatles invited Pete Best to join group on their first Hamburg season of club dates. Ringo Starr eventually replaced Best when the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, dismissed Best under the direction of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison.
The Ups and Downs of the “Quiet Beatle” – George Harrison
Often overshadowed in the public eye by his Beatle bandmates, George Harrison made his presence felt in the legendary quartet through incredible riffs on his guitar and with the power of the pen. His childhood friendship with Paul McCartney combined with an intense passion for the guitar and American Rock and Roll helped set him on the path to stardom at an early age.
George always said his love affair with music began when while walking home one day at the age of 12, he caught a faint echo of “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. In just two years, he had taught himself guitar by tirelessly listening to the sounds of Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly.
When George became a part of John Lennon’s band, The Quarrymen , at the age of 14, he was often belittled for his age. They relentlessly treated him as the baby of the group despite only being nine months younger than Paul.
The babying did not stop there, however, as his song-writing was never truly taken seriously by either John or Paul. When The Beatles began recording albums, George was relegated to having two original tracks per album, if any at all. This began to brew the feelings of resentment towards Paul and John that George would struggle with for most of the rest of his life.
Ironically, two of the Beatles’ most memorable tracks While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Something — the latter of which has been recorded over 150 different times by different artists — were penned by George. To top it off, in a sort of bittersweet ending to his struggle to have creative influence over the group, George wrote I Me Mine, the final song the group ever recorded together.
In the wake of the Beatles’ break-up, his friendship with Paul turned very sour and the two didn’t make-up until shortly before George’s death in 2001. George and John saw very little of each other in the latter half of the ‘70s. There was a falling out when Harrison’s autobiography I Me Mine, released in 1980, mentioned very little of John. The two hadn’t made amends at the time of John’s death later that year.
Striking out on his own, George would see a variety of highs and lows over the next 30 years. His first solo album, the acclaimed All Things Must Pass, was a triple album of songs he had that were rejected by John and Paul in his time with the Beatles. To help him record the album he had Ringo Starr on drums and Eric Clapton on guitar — even though four years earlier George’s first wife, Pattie Boyd, left him for Clapton, the two remained close friends.
In 1999, George came within inches of death at the hands of a deranged Beatles fan that broke into his home and stabbed George, and his second wife Olivia Arias, nearly forty times. Both were fortunate to survive, however, just two short years later George would finally succumb to his multiple bouts with cancer at the age of 58.
George Harrison’s “quiet” legacy continues on even through today not just by the music he created but also by his generosity in helping his fellow man. He created the charitable concert idea that laid the groundwork for benefit shows such as Live Aid and Farm Aid, as well as raised over $15 Million for UNICEF. In late 2002, all the unfinished and unheard tracks George had been working on or had at the time of his death were turned into one last album by his son Dhani as a final goodbye to a man who shared so much with the world. – Mike Glennon, Jasmine Fitzgerald, Seth Montpelier
Brian Samuel Epstein was an English entrepreneur who managed the Beatles. Epstein had first discovered the Beatles in November 1961 during a lunchtime performance at The Cavern Club. It was at this moment Epstein realized the great potential and skill the group had possessed.
Upon making the discovery Epstein made it his mission to sign the Beatles to a major record company. At first, Epstein was rejected by nearly all major recording companies in London, until he secured a meeting with George Martin. In May 1962, Martin agreed to sign the Beatles, partly because of Epstein’s conviction that the group would become internationally famous.
The Beatles early success has been attributed to Epstein’s management style, and the band trusted him without hesitation. In addition to handling the Beatles business affairs, Epstein often stepped in to mediate personal disputes within the group. The Beatles unquestioning loyalty to Epstein later proved detrimental, as the band rarely read contracts before signing them.
Shortly after the song “Please Please Me” rose to the top of the charts in 1963, Epstein advised the creation of Northern Songs, a publishing company that would control the copyrights of all Lennon–McCartney compositions recorded between 1963 and 1973.
By 1969, Lennon and McCartney had lost control of all publishing rights to ATV Music Publishing. Epstein’s death in 1967 marked the beginning of the group’s dissolution and had a profound effect on each Beatle. In 1997, Paul McCartney said, “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.”
To add to the discovery of the Beatles, Epstein first noticed the Beatles in issues of Mersey Beat and on numerous posters around Liverpool created by his commercial artist associate Tony Booth, before he asked the editor of Mersey Beat Bill Harry who they were. Harry had previously convinced Epstein to sell the magazine at NEMS with the Beatles featured on the front page of its second issue. – Evan Conlin
Pete Best – Almost Famous
On August 16, 1962 Brian Epstein, the Beatles Manager told Pete Best that his two-year stint with the band was over. He would be replaced by Ringo Starr. The Beatles exploded onto the world stage without him. The fame, the notoriety, and the riches would escape him.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison felt that he just didn’t cut it during their first recording session at the Abbey Road Studios. And with that decision, Pete would go down in history as one of Rock’s biggest losers. He missed the brass ring by inches.
Even as a young man he was a little dour, but after being dumped by his bandmates he sunk into depression. He would continue to play, with Tony Sheridan and others, but without much success. He finally took a job as a civil servant for twenty years before forming his own band. The Pete Best Band would perform the early Beatle songs that he played on and other hits of the day.
He continues to be a dark figure with a brooding sensibility, but his payday was finally realized with the release of the Beatles Anthology 1 in 1995, which contains early recordings by the Quarrymen, the Decca audition, and the only official recordings that feature him and Stuart Sutcliffe*. Pete received close to one million pounds in royalties for that one record. – HOBIN
*One more footnote in Beatles history. The band’s original bass player was Stuart Sutcliffe. He died of a brain hemorrhage in April of 1962, leaving Sir Paul to play the bass.
Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, was an English artist known primarily for his skills as a drummer while touring with the Beatles. Even though he cemented his status as a rock legend through the drums, he also sang, wrote songs, and acted. Ringo Starr was a famous musician. He was from Liverpool England. He was in the group called Rory Storm and the hurricanes before he finally joined the Beatles. Ringo Starr was very influential in the rock n roll era. Ringo’s style has combined a solid rhythmic underpinning with tasteful percussive musicality. He is a song-serving drummer. Ringo has long been noticed by musicians for his steady timekeeping, artful fills and uncluttered style. Some people say he is the leading and most musical drummer to influence generations of musicians. Ringo assembled a drum set that, by virtue of the Beatles’ fathomless popularity, became preferred by rock drummers of the Sixties and beyond. Ringo’s affinity for country music would recur in 1970, when he ventured to Nashville to record Beaucoups of Blues. Pedal steel guitar legend Pete Drake produced the album, which featured a cast of Nashville’s finest musicians. Ringo’s embrace of the genre marked one of the earliest instances of a rock icon stepping up to assert that country was cool. Ringo’s first solo album, Sentimental Journey (1970), consisted of orchestrated pop standards from the pre-rock era. Like his subsequent foray into country music, Beaucoups of Blues, Ringo was ahead of the curve. – Bam Reome and James Damon
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones formed in 1962, and they are still playing shows today! The English rock band originally consisted of Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart. The group was inspired by artists such as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard.
In 1964, they spread quickly throughout the US during the British Invasion. The Rolling Stones were viewed as the “bad boys” of rock’n’roll. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” was their first international No.1 hit.
Other hits include “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Gimme Shelter.”
The band’s logo, “Tongue and Lips,” was designed by John Pasche. Jagger wanted something that would resemble the tongue of the Hindu Goddess, Kali, a symbol of sexuality and violence.
The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and ranked fourth on Rolling Stone Magazine list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” – Carl Butch
The Moves of Jagger
In 1960, at a local railway station, a rekindled friendship of Michael Philip Jagger and Keith Richards started a phenomenon that still continues to this day and Michael Philip Jagger will become known as Mick Jagger; the lead singer for the Rolling Stones. With influences from Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed and other blues artists the Rolling Stones started out as a blues band. At the time he joined the band, Stones member Charlie Watts was primarily a jazz drummer. Brian Jones on the other hand had been more into a sophisticated jump blues style of music. Richards and Jagger eventually turned Jones onto artists such as Chuck Berry. With these blends of influences the Rolling Stones turned into a blues rock band.
Mick Jagger has had a tremendous career. In fact, the AllMusic and MSN described Jagger as “one of the most popular and influential front men in the history of rock & roll”. Mick Jagger has been granted the opportunity to collaborate with artists from diverse backgrounds such as Tina Turner, David Bowie, Peter Tosh, Bono and the Jacksons. He has released fifteen solo singles and five solo albums. Outside of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger began branching out into acting. He played an outlaw in the film Ned Kelly (1970) and played a reclusive rock star for In Performance (1970). In 1989, Jagger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2004 the rolling stones into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
As for Mick Jagger’s extracurricular activities, in 1967, Mick Jagger and his girlfriend, singer Marianne Faithfull were arrested during a police raid for drug paraphernalia and illegal substances. The two were tried and convicted based on drug related offenses, however, their sentences were dropped on appeal. Mick Jagger, like many artists and performers, fell to the drug of heroine. Mick Jagger has openly admitted to his drug use and romantic involvements. He is truly the definition of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”
As member of the Rolling Stones, and as a solo artist, Jagger reached 13 number ones on the UK and US singles charts, 32 singles on the Top 10 and 70 singles on the Top 40. Jagger and the Rolling Stones are still drawing in full out crowds to watch the moves of Jagger and the jamming out of the Rolling Stones. – Lovin, Fitzgerald
The legendary guitar player and musician Keith Richards was born on December 18th, 1943 in Dartford, England. Ironically enough Richards was neighbors and went to primary school with, until his family would move, his future bandmate Mick Jagger. The two would eventually run into each other on a train a number of years later to find out that the two of them shared a common interest in that they both shared a passion for Chuck Berry and Muddy Water’s music. Mick Jagger and a mutual friend Dick Taylor, were already part of an amateur band, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, and had asked Richards to join.
Around the age of 15 Richards was given his first guitar. He devoted almost all of his time learning how to play and taught himself how to play songs to the likes of Elvis Presley. Richards, Jagger, and Taylor all shared love for American blues, especially Richards who idolized Chuck Berry.
By 1963 the band was no longer the, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, but were now known as The Rolling Stones. Their success was almost immediate, by the next year they had made the British charts with numerous singles and it wasn’t before long they were global phenomenon. The Rolling Stones, in their own words, are the greatest Rock and Roll band of all time, and the case can certainly be made that they are in the argument. – Ryan Kohutanich and John Sweeney
Charlie Watts- Rolling Stones Drummer
Born June 2, 1942 in Kingsbury, London, England.
Grew up interested in jazz before getting into rhythm and blues.
Got a job in 1960 as a graphic artist. He released a children’s book about Charlie Parker then in 1961 called Ode to a High-Flying Bird.
Played in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, a very important band in the history of blues in London which featured artists like Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, and Eric Clapton. He quit the group as it became popular in order to keep his day job.
Charlie, wanting to keep with his stable jazz projects, initially rejected invitations to the band.
He finally joined the Rolling Stones in 1963.
Besides his music, Watts contributed graphic art to early Rolling Stones records such as the Between the Buttons record sleeve and was responsible for the 1975 tour announcement press conference in New York City.
The band surprised the waiting reporters by driving and playing “Brown Sugar” on the back of a flatbed truck in the middle of Manhattan traffic, a gimmick AC/DC copied later the same year.
He was with the band when they rocketed to stardom with “Satisfaction” in 1965.
Both Mick and Keith have expressed how important Charlie is to the band and how they couldn’t continue without him.
He married Shirley Ann Shepherd in 1964 and had his only child, Serafina, in 1968.
Watts has always lived a quieter life than his bandmates and has notably remained faithful to his wife throughout his entire career.
His marriage almost ended in the eighties when his drug problems reached their peak.
Began a solo project, the 32-piece Charlie Watts Orchestra in the ‘80s.
Since the ‘90s, he has released many jazz albums with the Charlie Watts Quintet.
Although he had by then quit smoking, he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004. He is now in remission.
Currently plays in the A B C & D of Boogie Woogie.
Considered to be high among the greatest musicians in rock and roll.
He has resigned after every tour since 1969, although he has since expressed intention to stay with the band until either Mick or Keith retire.
In 1989, The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In the July 2006 issue of Modern Drummer magazine, Watts was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, joining Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Steve Gadd, Buddy Rich and other highly esteemed and influential drummers from the history of rock and jazz
-Evan Conlin, Seth Montpelier
Ronald “Ronnie” David Wood is a famous English rock musician, singer, songwriter, and artist. He is a living legend in the rock world. Most know him as a guitarist for “The World’s Greatest Rock Band,” The Rolling Stones. Wood was born on June 1, 1947 in Hillingdon, England, the youngest of three boys. From an early age, Wood’s first passion was art. Since the age of about three, he displayed a talent for painting. His brothers, Art and Ted, are also both musicians and artists.
In 1964, at the age of 17, Ron Wood started his professional music career as a guitarist with the R&B band, the Birds. The group was fairly popular in the UK in the 1960s. After the group disbanded, Wood became the bassist for the Jeff Beck Band, where he worked alongside vocalist Rod Stewart. Over the next few years, Wood collaborated with many artists and bands including The Creation, Faces, Eric Clapton, and Rod Stewart. Although mainly a guitarist, Wood also contributed harmonica, vocals, bass to these groups. He additionally wrote songs.
Ron Wood’s initial ties to The Rolling Stones included separate work with Mick Taylor, and his work with Mick Jagger on “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It),” in 1973. Following the departure of Mick Taylor in 1974, The Rolling Stone’s guitarist, Wood was invited to work with the band on their album “Black and Blue,” and toured the U.S. with them in 1975. In early 1976, he was unveiled as an official member of the Rolling Stones.
His role in the Rolling Stones has been playing the slide guitar, adding lap steel and pedal steel guitar. He also exchanged roles on guitar with Richards, and occasionally would play bass guitar. He was a part of many notable albums such as “Tattoo You,” “Bridges to Babylon,” and “A Bigger Bang.” He also produced twelve solo albums, and was also a co-writer for many other songs including “Dance,” “Black Limousine,” “Had it With You” and more.
In 1990 Woods became a partner in the financial organization of the “Rolling Stones.” He continued to balance his solo work and time with the stones throughout the next decades. In 2005 Woods started his record company, Wooden Records. He also began his own radio show, The Ronnie Wood Show, in April 2010.
Throughout his life he continued to collaborate with many artist and never stopped working. He is one of 18 people to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than once. His first induction was with the Rolling Stones in 1989, and second on April 14, 2012 with the Faces. He is now married to his latest wife, Sally Humphreys, and just had twin girls in May of 2016, making his total number of kids 6. He was diagnosed with lung cancer this year but it is said that he refused chemotherapy because he did not want t o lose his hair, so he had a partial removal of his lung.
Wood’s talent for art has not gone unnoticed. His first real artistic accomplishment came when he won a art competition on a BBC program. His art has been displayed London’s Drury Lane Theatre, and the San Francisco Art Exchange. Additionally, he did the artwork on Eric Clapton’s 1988 Box Set, “Crossroads.” -John Murray and Shannon Kelly
Chuck Leavell certainly wears many hats. His work stretches far beyond a pianist/artist. Leavell is an author, tree farmer, and a long time environmentalist. His talented keyboard playing has paired up with some of the greats, including John Mayer, Eric Clapton, and The Rolling Stones.
Leavell’s love for music began around the age of 13, during a Ray Charles concert. After the show, Leavell knew that he was going to be a musician. He is mostly a self-taught pianist, but he learned some basics from his mother early on.
In the 1970’s, Leavell was a member of the Allman Brothers Band. This was an American rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida. The band’s’ roots consisted of R&B and soul music. Some of their greatest hits include, “Ramblin’ Man,” and “Midnight Rider.”
We can’t mention Chuck Leavell without mentioning the Rolling Stones. Since 1982, Leavell has become “the Sixth Rolling Stone,” playing keyboard, singing backup, and being Musical Director. Leavell continues to tour with the Rolling Stones, while also booking solo concerts and making guest appearances. –Carl Butch & Don Monroe
Bill Wyman – Bass Player
William George Perks Jr. was born on October 24, 1936 in South East London. William, or Bill, was one of five children who lived out a childhood that was “scarred by poverty”. Bill was a member of the Royal Air Force from 1955 to 1957. Bill started playing the piano as a child, but a couple of years after he returned from the Air Force he bought an electric guitar. Noticing how slowly he was progressing as a guitar player, he decided to take up the bass after hearing it at a Barron Knights concert in London. Under the stage name of Bill Wyman, taking the last name from a friend of his that served with him in the Air Force, he started playing in a band called The Cliftons in 1961.
In 1962, Wyman joined the English Rock and Roll band The Rolling Stones as bass guitar player until 1993. Wyman was older than the rest of the band when he succeeded Dick Taylor on bass and in some respects he remained an outsider to the band. He made three side solo albums, all of which were well received by critics but were never hugely successful. In 1995, Wyman began traveling with his own band Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. Wyman is also an accomplished author, having written seven books including an autobiography called Stone Alone. Wyman also enjoys photography and collecting Roman era relics with his metal detectors. – Gabe Hernandez, Simon Spengler
OTHER ESSENTIAL ARTISTS FROM THE 1960s
Stevland Hardaway Morris, better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is perhaps one of the most gifted musicians of our time. Born six weeks premature on May 13, 1950, Wonder lost his vision due to complications following his birth. However, that has not deterred his incredible and lustrous career filled with soulful and R&B hits such as “You Are the Sunshine of my Life,” “Sir Duke,” “Superstition,” and many others. Early on, Wonder self-taught himself the piano, harmonica, and drums. At the age of 11, Wonder was discovered by Ronnie White of the Miracles, a Motown group. After an audition, he was signed by Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, in 1962.
Simply put, Wonder was a child prodigy. One of the most amazing aspects of Wonder’s career is how young he started his professional career, as well as his longevity and contributions to the world of R&B and Rock n’ Roll. In 1962, he teamed up with Motown songwriter Clarence Paul, Wonder releases his debut album The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie later that year followed by Tribute to Uncle Ray. His first major hit “Fingertips, Pt 2,” was released the following year. 1970s were arguably Wonder’s most productive period, but he was and still is a major force within the music world going into and beyond the 1980s. Besides pumping out his own single hits, he additionally collaborated with other influential artists such as Paul McCartney, and The Rolling Stones. Later in his career, Wonder expanded his reach by working on various soundtracks for upcoming films (i.e. “The Secret Life of Plants,” “The Outsiders,” “Jungle Fever,” and “The Women in Red”).
From the 1990s and on, Wonder continued to write powerful, romantic, and what I describe as a mixture of funk, gospel, rock, and R&B. Outside of his regular music realm, Wonder has labored tirelessly in activism pursuits, such as contributing to the charity single “We are the World,” to raise money for humanitarian efforts in Africa. He also advocated for the creation of Martin Luther King Day, to celebrate King’s birthday and the Civil Rights Movement, with his hit single “Happy Birthday.”
Overall, Wonder has recorded over 30 top-ten hits, won 25 Grammy Awards, won an Academy Award for Best Song, been induced into both the Rock and Roll and Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of fame, and has captivated us for almost 60 years. In 2014. President Barack Obama awarded Wonder with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 10 of his songs have reached number one on the US Pop charts, as well as 20 songs that reached number one on the US R&B charts. In the end, Stevie Wonder will do down as one of the most successful, cherished, and influential artists of our time. -John Murray
Stevie Wonder’s Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevie_Wonder
Biography on Stevie Wonder: https://www.biography.com/people/stevie-wonder-9536078
Stevie Wonder’s Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/StevieWonderVEVO
Stevie Wonder performing “Superstition” live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vjj6J7gXpY
Stevie Wonder’s music video for “I Just Called to Say I Love You”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwOU3bnuU0k
Stevie Wonder performing “Sir Duke” live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArgHvssVfF8
Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-n3Ydy7ras
Stevie Wonder covering Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” live (Great example of Wonder’s harmonica ability): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zreYeq7KzVo
Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder collaborating on “That’s What Friends Are For”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66Qkf2Jm6pc
Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney performing “Ebony and Ivory”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmALA8miQY8
The Freewheelin’ Life of Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941, the first of two children. He moved to Hibbing at a very young age and remained there for most of his childhood. Teaching himself to play the guitar, he first fell in love with rock and roll, but was soon became enticed with folk.
Influenced by the folk artists of the 1940s, particularly Woody Guthrie, he traveled to Greenwich Village in New York City, where he soon became a favorite. Upon meeting Albert Grossman, he received his first record deal.
By 1963, Dylan was considered the King of the Folk World, with his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan becoming a hit. He was associated professionally and romantically with fellow folk star Joan Baez. He became a prominent voice in the Civil Rights Movement and for others who were struggling, although he did not consider himself to be a political person. His songs would soon take a more personal turn and, with the influence of The Beatles, he soon went electric.
One of Dylan’s most acclaimed albums, Bringing It All Back Home, featured an electric side and an acoustic side. The next, the classic Highway 61 Revisted, had only one acoustic song. When Bob Dylan performed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with an electric band, he was booed off the stage. This set the tone for his chaotic 1966 tour, in which the audience frequently vocalized their disapproval at shows, labeling him as a sellout. The beloved double-album Blonde On Blonde is considered by many to be his greatest record, but it divided many of his fans.
After a mysterious motorcycle accident, Dylan disappeared for a year. He returned with another folk record, John Wesley Harding, which also showed an interest in country Western. Self Portrait was his first critically panned album, but, generally his albums were seen as good, if not wonderful.
The disintegration of his marriage to Sara (nee Lowndes) Dylan in 1975 provided the inspiration for one of his most cherished albums, Blood On The Tracks. The marriage end shortly afterward and Dylan became a born-again Christian. This phase of his career lasted only a few years, but his albums started to lose much of their appeal for the decade.
In 1995, Dylan developed life-threatening pericarditis, but made a quick recovery. During this time, he began to record the songs that would be on 1997’s Time Out Of Mind, his most acclaimed album since Blood On The Tracks. This commenced a late career renaissance for Dylan, with the release of acclaimed albums Love & Theft, Modern Times, Together Through Life, and Tempest. He has also been on The Never-Ending Tour since 1986. Over the last through years, he has released cover albums of the big band standards of his childhood and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 2016. –Seth Montpelier
The Doors is an American rock band that debuted in 1965 behind enigmatic frontman Jim Morrison and bandmates Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore. Objectively, the group was commercially successful during their run of the 60’s and early 70’s, with 7 out of 8 albums debuting in the Top 10 of the Billboards and going at least Platinum. The Door’s are one of the best selling artists of all time, are consistently ranked in “greatest artists” lists, and exist in the Rock N’ Roll hall of fame. Morrison was known for his legal troubles and problematic and rebellious attitude towards public officials, and this attitude coupled with the band’s unique psychedelic sound elevated the band to the forefront of counterculture. Morrison himself passed away at 27, and because of the lack of autopsy, his death is of unknown circumstances. Morrison had stopped touring at the behest of his band mates following mental breakdowns and fits on stage, and was relaxing in Paris. Bandmates continued on following Morrison’s death, but The Doors was buried with Morrison, constricting the actual run of the doors to 65’-71’, but not dampening the legacy that followed. To this day, The Doors are heavily sampled, listened to via streams and album sales, and influence pop culture through Morrison and the band’s one of kind image. -Ryan Bouchard
The Emperors of Soul
The “classic five” became the definitive vocal male group of the 60’s. The group consisted of David Ruffin, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, and Eddie Kendricks. The Temptations have been distinguished for their ability to move into pop and rock soul, and their ability to appeal to a wide audience range. The group is known for their outstanding hits, and continues to top the charts for the past forty years. The Tempts trademarked their own choreography, and vocal harmonies.
Throughout the Temptation’s career, the group received 13 gold and 6 platinum albums. The group reached a new level of success when Smokey Robinson emerged with their biggest hit “My Girl” in 1965, and when they recruited David Ruffin to replace Bryant. Between 1964 and 1975, the group’s songs took off and became Top 40 singles. Some of these include “Get Ready”, and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”.
Towards the late sixties, the Tempts produced songs such as “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Please Return Your Love to Me”. Yet during this time one of the group members, Ruffin left the group in pursuit for a solo career. It is reported that after failing to show up for a concert, the other four members of the group fired him.
In 1971, Kendricks also quit to start a solo career on the West Coast with Motown and Paul Williams left the group due to personal issues of battling his alcoholism. Williams was discovered slumped in his parked car, dead, presumably from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Temptations are one of the most important soul groups to date. It is merely impossible to discuss the development of soul music since the early sixties without looking at the attributions the Temptations had on the genre. In the sixties, they redefined what a soul group meant, the fashion, the choreography and their five-group harmony. Many R&B artists and soul groups since 1965 look to the Tempts for inspirations and most acknowledge it.
- Jasmine Fitzgerald
Let’s get Kinky- The Kinks
Although not as known as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, the kinks were still one of the most influential band from the British Invasion. Similar to most rock bands, the Kinks started out as an rhythm and blues band. In 1963 band member Ray Davis attended an art school when he joined his brother Dave’s band named the Ravens. Ray ended up taking over the group and renamed the band to the Kinks. He ended up retaining bassist Pete Quaife and recruiting Mick Avory in to play the drums.
The Kinks first single was a cover of the Little Richard song “Long Tall Sally”. Bobby Graham, a acquaintance of the band, was employed to play drums on the recording. He would often substitute for Avory in the studio and played several of the bands singles including hits such as, “You Really Got Me”, “All Day and All of the Night” and “Tired of Waiting for You”. In February of 1964, “Long Tall Sally” was released and it failed to chart, as well as their second single, “You Still Want Me.” The band’s third single, “You Really Got Me,” made a much bigger impact and featured a vicious solo from Dave Davies. “You Really Got Me” within a month, reached number one; released on Reprise in the U.S., the single climbed into the Top Ten.
Despite the Kinks’ musical growth, the Kinks chart performance eventually began to decline. Peter Quaife ultimately grew tired of the lack of success from the band, and he left the band being replaced by John Dalton. – Lovin
Diana Ross and the Supremes
Diana Ross and the Supremes, consisting of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard were the number one female group of the sixties, and a top five group when male acts are also considered. They had twelve #1 pop singles, numerous gold recordings, sold-out concerts, and regular television appearances and are still known today as one of the most influential groups of all time, and a key part of the Motown sound. They met while they all lived in Detroit’s Brewster housing project and began singing together, albeit in a quartet throughout high school. Their first gig they were booked as “The Primettes” to perform alongside the Primes, whose members later developed into the Temptations. In 1961 they were finally signed after a few failed auditions by Berry Gordy, and while he always groomed his acts, paid special attention to the Supremes. They went on to release timeless hits such as Stop! In The Name of Love, “Back In My Arms Again”, and “I Hear a Symphony”. -James Damon
Formed in 1969, The Who is a English rock band that proved to be essential to forming the genre of rock and roll as we know it. Some of their most notable contributions include the development of the Marshall Stack, use of synthesizer, and the creation of Rock Opera. Their beginning goes back to when they were a band called the Detours, gaining momentum by using Auto-Destructive Art (the destruction of guitars and drums during live performances) and aligning themselves with the “mod movement” which was popular in english youth culture at the time. After the change in name to The Who, the band released their first single “I Can’t Explain” and made the Top 10 in the UK, then in 1967 had a US Top 10 hit “I Can See for Miles.” Their fourth album was a Rock Opera and included the well known song “Pinball Wizard.” The Who was able to remain a respected band with a great reputation after touring the US heavily and playing notable festivals such as Woodstock. One of their rock operas, “Tommy,” was reproduced as a film version in 1975. The release of “We Won’t be Fooled Again” was followed by the untimely death of Keith Moon, who was eventually replaced with Kenney Jones. The band continued to tour until their retirement, however they still get together occasionally to perform. -Donald Monroe
Creedence Clearwater Revival
CCR are an American rock band from the 1960’s and early 70’s. Lead guitarist/vocalist: John Fogerty, rhythm guitarist: Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area during the time of progressive and psychedelic rock, CCR’s style was unexpectedly Southern and Blues rock. The band could also be heard including politically conscious lyrics. CCR topped the charts for four years until they disbanded in 1972 concerning disagreements over artistic style. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Creedence Clearwater Revival became the band’s official name in 1968. Rejected names included Muddy Rabbit, Gossamer Wump, and Creedence Nuball and the Ruby. Three albums all released in 1969 were one success after another; Bayou Country reached Platinum. Songs “Proud Mary,” and “Born On The Bayou”, went to number 2 on BillBoard. After that album Green River went gold, and Willy and the Poor Boys sent two singles to the top of the charts: “Down on the Corner” and “Fortunate Son.” Creedence also played at the famous Atlanta Pop and Woodstock festivals in the same year. On November 16th, 1969, CCR played the The Ed Sullivan Show. CCR put out seven consecutive gold albums. -Simon Spengler
James Brown – The Godfather of Soul
James Brown was born in South Carolina on May 3rd, 1933. He was born out in a country shack, and had to be revived by his aunt because he was nearly a stillborn. James Brown almost lost right out of the gate, and because of that he was determined to be somebody. Brown had a rough childhood. Growing up very poor during the Great Depression, James had to work many different jobs, pretty much any job he could find. His parents split when he was young and he was raised by his aunt, the owner of a brothel, out in Georgia. As a poor, black child growing up in the south things weren’t easy for Brown. Religion was a large part of his childhood, and gospel was a large influence in his music life.Being involved with the church choir really helped Brown evolve into the powerful, soulful artist we all know.
As a teenager, James Brown was arrested for stealing a car and spent 3 years in prison. It was in prison where Brown’s career was set in motion. He created a prison choir and that is how he met Bobby Byrd, an R&B artist who played a large part in starting Brown’s career. In 1955, Byrd asked Brown to turn his R&B group The Gospel Starlighters, who later changed there name to the Famous Flames. Brown quickly became the star of the group, displaying his incredible passion and soul. The group went on tour with some legends such as BB King and Ray Charles. Brown went on multiple tours and performed countless amounts of times.
James Brown used his fame and talents to bring light on a serious issue. He was a true social activist and wrote songs on civil rights. He wrote “Don’t Be A Dropout” as a push to advance the attention for the black community to focus on education. He also recorded “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud”, which instantly became an anthem and is still empowering the black community today.
James Brown died on December 25th, 2006 at the age of 73. He will always be a large part of music, as one of the most influential artists of all time, he changed the sound of all music after him and will always be deeply engraved in the heart of music. – Gabe Hernandez