A beautifully written song that is a fantasy that one can’t help but see in their own imagination as the lyrics lay out each detail of this man’s love and desire for the woman of his dreams. I love the Impressions version, but it is Bryan Hyland’s version that I remember and fell in love with during my teenage years! I’ve added Bryan’s version of this song as well.
Written by lead singer Curtis Mayfield, this song is about a man who is part of a traveling caravan who falls in love with a gypsy they encounter along the way. Mayfield was probably inspired by the Western movies he enjoyed.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the biggest hit featuring castanets, which keep the rhythm and play to the gypsy theme.
This was the first song The Impressions recorded without Jerry Butler, who fronted the group in the ’50s but left for a solo career. Curtis Mayfield kept working with Butler as a guitarist and songwriter, and when Mayfield wrote “Gypsy Woman,” he regrouped The Impressions and recorded the song with them, taking over for Butler as their frontman. The song was a hit and The Impressions soon became regular chart-dwellers, racking up 30 more Hot 100 entries in the ’60s.
According to Curtis Mayfield, it was the group’s manager Eddie Thomas (who named the act, telling them “you gotta make an impression”), that got this song onto the radio. Thomas would personally stop by radio stations and peddle the song. He got some takers in Philadelphia, and when the song got some attention in that market, it took off elsewhere.
This cute poem was written by one of my 9-year-old grandsons and myself. He doesn’t like vegetables and was having a hard time one weekend day eating some broccoli that his dad, which is my son wanted him to eat. After struggling to take a bite of broccoli, he stated, “I don’t like veggies,” that’s when I said to him, “Joshua, why don’t you sit down with grandma after you finish your food and we can write a poem about you not liking veggies.” He agreed and we wrote this poem using many of his own words as to why he doesn’t like veggies. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!
Nyro was born Laura Nigro in the Bronx, the daughter of Louis Nigro, a piano tuner and jazz trumpeter, and Gilda (née Mirsky) Nigro, a bookkeeper. Laura had a younger brother, Jan Nigro, who has become a well-known children’s musician. Laura was of Russian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent, with Italian ancestry from her paternal grandfather.
“I’ve created my own little world, a world of music since I was five years old,” Nyro told Billboard magazine in 1970, adding that music provided, for her, a means of coping with a difficult childhood: “I was never a bright and happy child.” As a child, Nyro taught herself piano, read poetry, and listened to her mother’s records by Leontyne Price, Nina Simone, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, and classical composers such as Debussy and Ravel. She composed her first songs at age eight. With her family, she spent summers in the Catskills, where her father played trumpet at resorts. She credited the Sunday school at the New York Society for Ethical Culture with providing the basis of her education; she also attended Manhattan’s High School of Music & Art.
Nyro was close to her aunt and uncle, artists Theresa Bernstein and William Meyerowitz, who helped support her education and early career.
While in high school, she sang with a group of friends in subway stations and on street corners. She said, “I would go out singing, as a teenager, to a party or out on the street, because there were harmony groups there, and that was one of the joys of my youth. Nyro commented: “I was always interested in the social consciousness of certain songs. My mother and grandfather were progressive thinkers, so I felt at home in the peace movement and the women’s movement, and that has influenced my music.
Louis Nigro’s work brought him into contact with record company executive Artie Mogull and his partner Paul Barry, who auditioned Laura in 1966 and became her first manager. However, Nigro later said he did “not even once” mention Laura to any of his clients, adding “they would have laughed at me if I did.
As a teenager, Laura went by various surnames. She just happened to be using “Nyro” at the time she was discovered, and it stuck.
On July 13, 1966, Laura Nyro recorded “Stoney End” and “Wedding Bell Blues”, as well as an early version of “Time and Love”, as part of More Than A New Discovery at Bell Sounds Studios, 237 West 54th Street, Manhattan. About a month later, she sold “And When I Die” to Peter, Paul, and Mary for $5,000. On September 17, 1966, Laura Nyro and Verve-Folkways released “Wedding Bell Blues”/”Stoney End” as a single. “Wedding Bell Blues” became a minor hit, especially on the west coast. She completed More Than A New Discovery in New York on November 29, 1966, and, starting on January 16, 1967, Laura Nyro made her first extended professional appearance at age 19, performing nightly for about a month at the “hungry i” coffeehouse in San Francisco. In February 1967, Verve Folkways released More Than A New Discovery. On March 4, 1967, Laura Nyro appeared on Clay Cole’s Diskoteck, Episode 7.23, along with Dion and the Belmonts and others, but unfortunately, the recording of that episode is lost. On March 21, 1967, she appeared on TV Show Where the Action Is, Episode 3.140 with videos of “Wedding Bell Blues” (partially extant), “Blowin’ Away” (lost), and “Goodbye Joe” (lost).
On June 17, 1967, Nyro appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival. Although some accounts described her performance as a fiasco that culminated in her being booed off the stage, recordings later made publicly available contradict this version of events.
Soon afterward, David Geffen approached Mogull about taking over as Nyro’s agent. Nyro successfully sued to void her management and recording contracts on the grounds that she had entered into them while still a minor. Geffen became her manager, and the two established a publishing company, Tuna Fish Music, under which the proceeds from her future compositions would be divided equally between them. Geffen also arranged Nyro’s new recording contract with Clive Davis at Columbia Records and purchased the publishing rights to her early compositions. In his memoir Clive: Inside the Record Business, Davis recalled Nyro’s audition for him: She’d invited him to her New York apartment, turned off every light except that of a television set next to her piano, and played him the material that would become Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Around this time, Nyro considered becoming the lead singer for Blood, Sweat & Tears, after the departure of founder Al Kooper, but was dissuaded by Geffen. Blood, Sweat & Tears would go on to have a hit with a cover of Nyro’s “And When I Die”.
The new contract allowed Nyro more artistic freedom and control. In 1968, Columbia released Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, her second album, which received high critical praise for the depth and sophistication of its performance and arrangements, which merged pop structure with inspired imagery, rich vocals, and avant-garde jazz, and is widely considered to be one of her best works. Eli was followed in 1969 by New York Tendaberry, another highly acclaimed work which cemented Nyro’s artistic credibility. “Time and Love” and “Save the Country” emerged as two of her most well-regarded and popular songs in the hands of other artists. During the weekend after Thanksgiving in November 1969, she gave two concerts at Carnegie Hall. Her own recordings sold mostly to a faithful cadre of followers. This prompted Clive Davis, in his memoir, to note that her recordings, as solid as they were, came to resemble demonstrations for other performers.
In 1969 Verve re-issued Nyro’s debut album as The First Songs. The same year Geffen and Nyro sold Tuna Fish Music to CBS for $4.5 million. Under the terms of his partnership with Nyro, Geffen received half of the proceeds of the sale, making them both millionaires.
In 1971, David Geffen worked to establish his own recording label, Asylum Records, in part because of the difficulties he had encountered in trying to secure a recording contract for another of his clients, Jackson Browne (with whom Nyro was in a relationship at the time). Geffen invited Nyro to join the new label and announced that she would be Asylum’s first signing, but shortly before the official signing was due to take place, Geffen discovered that Nyro had changed her mind and re-signed with Columbia instead, without giving him prior notice of her decision. When interviewed about the matter for a 2012 PBS documentary on his life, Geffen, who considered Nyro his best friend, described Nyro’s rejection as the biggest betrayal of his life up until that point, noting that he “cried for days” afterward.
By the end of 1971, Nyro was married to carpenter David Bianchini. She was reportedly uncomfortable with attempts to market her as a celebrity and she announced her retirement from the music business at the age of 24. In 1973 her Verve debut album was reissued as The First Songs by Columbia Records.
Later career –
By 1976, her marriage had ended, and she released an album of new material, Smile. She then embarked on a four-month tour with a full band, which resulted in the 1977 live album Season of Lights.
After the 1978 album Nested, recorded when she was pregnant with her only child, she again took a break from recording, this time until 1984’s Mother’s Spiritual. She began touring with a band in 1988, her first concert appearances in 10 years. The tour was dedicated to the animal rights movement. The shows led to her 1989 release, Laura: Live at the Bottom Line, which included six new compositions.
Her final album of predominantly original material, Walk the Dog and Light the Light (1993), her last album for Columbia, was co-produced by Gary Katz, best known for his work with Steely Dan. The release sparked reappraisal of her place in popular music, and new commercial offers began appearing. She turned down lucrative film-composing offers, although she contributed a rare protest song to the Academy Award-winning documentary Broken Rainbow, about the unjust relocation of the Navajo people.
Nyro performed increasingly in the 1980s and 1990s with female musicians, including her friend Nydia “Liberty” Mata, a drummer, and several others from the lesbian-feminist women’s music subculture, such as members of the band Isis. During this period, Nyro made appearances at such venues as the 1989 Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and the 1989 Newport Folk Festival, of which a CD containing portions of her performance was released. On July 4, 1991, she opened for Bob Dylan at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Among her last performances were at Union Chapel, Islington, London, England in November 1994; The New York Bottom Line Christmas Eve Show in 1994; and at McCabe’s in Los Angeles on February 11 and 12, 1995.
Both The Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman staffs heavily pursued Nyro for a TV appearance during this period, yet she turned them down as well, citing her discomfort with appearing on television (she made only a handful of early TV appearances and one fleeting moment on VH-1 performing the title song from Broken Rainbow on Earth Day in 1990). According to producer Gary Katz, she also turned down a request to be the musical guest on the 1993 season opener of Saturday Night Live. She never released an official video, although there was talk of filming some The Bottom Line appearances in the 1990s.
Personal life –
Nyro was bisexual, though this fact was only known to her closest friends. She had a relationship with singer/songwriter Jackson Browne in late 1970 to early 1971. Browne was Nyro’s opening act at the time.
Nyro married Vietnam War veteran David Bianchini in October 1971 after a whirlwind romance and spent the next three years living with him in a small town in Massachusetts. The marriage ended after three years, during which time she had grown accustomed to rural life, as opposed to the life in the city, where she had recorded her first five records.
After Nyro split from Bianchini in 1975, she suffered the trauma of the death of her mother Gilda to ovarian cancer at the age of 49. She consoled herself largely by recording a new album, enlisting Charlie Calello, with whom she had collaborated on Eli and the Thirteenth Confession.
In 1978, a short-lived relationship with Harindra Singh produced a son, Gil Bianchini (also known as musician Gil-T), who she gave the surname of her ex-husband.
In the early 1980s, Nyro began living with painter Maria Desiderio (1954–1999), a relationship that lasted 17 years, the rest of Nyro’s life.
Nyro was a feminist and openly discussed it on a number of occasions, once saying, “I may bring a certain feminist perspective to my songwriting because that’s how I see life.
In late 1996, Nyro, like her mother, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After the diagnosis, Columbia Records, with Nyro’s involvement, prepared a two-CD retrospective of material from her years at the label. She lived to see the release of Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro in 1997.
She died of ovarian cancer in Danbury, Connecticut, on April 8, 1997, at 49, the same age at which her mother died. Her ashes were scattered beneath a maple tree on the grounds of her house in Danbury.
Posthumous releases –
Nyro’s posthumous releases include Angel In The Dark (2001), which includes her final studio recordings made in 1994 and 1995, and The Loom’s Desire (2002), a set of live recordings with solo piano and harmony singers from The Bottom Line Christmas shows of 1993 and 1994.
Todd Rundgren stated that once he heard her, he “stopped writing songs like The Who and started writing songs like Laura.
Cyndi Lauper acknowledged that her rendition of the song “Walk On By“, on her Grammy Award-nominated 2003 cover album, At Last, was inspired by Nyro.
Elton John and Elvis Costello discussed Nyro’s influence on both of them during the premiere episode of Costello’s interview show Spectacle. When asked by the host if he could name three great performers/songwriters who have largely been ignored, he cited Nyro as one of his choices. Elton John also addressed Nyro’s influence on his 1970 song “Burn Down the Mission“, from Tumbleweed Connection, in particular. “I idolized her,” he concluded. “The soul, the passion, just the out and out audacity of the way her rhythmic and melody changes came was like nothing I’ve heard before.
Bruce Arnold, leader of the pioneering soft rock group Orpheus was a fan of Nyro’s music and like her, worked with legendary studio drummer Bernard Purdie. While recording with Purdie, Arnold mentioned his love of Nyro’s music; the drummer responded with a story about Nyro: At Nyro’s home one night in the late 1970s, Purdie mentioned that he had been the uncredited drummer for Orpheus. Nyro got excited and brought him into a room where she kept her record collection. She pulled out well-worn copies of every Orpheus LP, as well as copies sealed for posterity.
Diane Paulus and Bruce Buschel co-created Eli’s Comin’, a musical revue of the songs of Nyro, which, among others, starred Anika Noni Rose.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the National Ballet of Canada have also included her music in their performances; notably, “Been On A Train” from Christmas and the Beads of Sweat, in which a woman describes watching her lover die from a drug overdose, comprises the second movement of Ailey’s 1971 solo for Judith Jamison, Cry.
On October 2, 2007, three-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn released her new album Serious Playground: The Songs of Laura Nyro. The album, which debuted as a concert to a sold-out house at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series in January 2007, includes several of Nyro’s biggest hits (“Stoned Soul Picnic”, “Stoney End”) as well as some of her lesser-known gems.
In 1992, the English shoegaze/Britpop band Lush released a song about Laura Nyro (“Laura”) on their first full-length album Spooky. Several of the band’s songs (specifically those written by Emma Anderson) have echoed Nyro’s music in their titles – “When I Die”, “Single Girl”. More recently, in 2012, Anderson has referred to Laura Nyro as “wondrous” on her Twitter account.
On her 2006 album Build a Bridge, the operatic/Broadway soprano Audra McDonald included covers of Nyro’s songs “To a Child” and “Tom Cat Goodbye”.
The musical theater composer Stephen Schwartz credits Nyro as a major influence on his work.
Alice Cooper has mentioned on his syndicated radio show that Laura Nyro is one of his favorite songwriters.
And a World to Carry On, an original tribute show celebrating the music and life of Laura Nyro, written by Barry Silber and Carole Coppinger, was first performed in 2008 (2nd performance late August 2015) at Carrollwood Players Theatre in Tampa, Fla.
To Carry On, an original tribute show celebrating the music and life of Laura Nyro, starring Mimi Cohen, is in its second return engagement as of January 19, 2011, at Cherry Lane Theatre in Manhattan.
A biography of Nyro, Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro, written by Michele Kort, was published in 2002 by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press.
Janis Ian, who attended the High School of Music and Art in New York at the same time as Nyro, discussed her friendship with Nyro during the late 1960s in her autobiography, Society’s Child. Ian described her as looking like a “Morticia Addams” caricature with her long, dark hair, and called her a “brilliant songwriter” but “oddly inarticulate” in terms of musical terminology. Ian was a fan of Nyro’s work with producer Charlie Calello and chose him as the producer of her 1969 album Who Really Cares on the basis of his work with Nyro.
Rickie Lee Jones‘s album Pirates and songs such as “We Belong Together” and “Living It Up” are reminiscent of early Laura Nyro’s songs, and Jones acknowledged Nyro’s influence.
Todd Rundgren has also acknowledged the strong influence of Nyro’s 1960s music on his own songwriting. While a member of the pop group Nazz, his great admiration for Nyro led him to arrange a meeting with her (which took place shortly after she had recorded the Eli and the Thirteenth Confession LP). Nyro invited Rundgren to become the musical director of her backing group, but his commitments to Nazz obliged him to decline. Rundgren’s debut solo album Runt (1970) includes the strongly Nyro-influenced “Baby Let’s Swing” which was written about her and mentions her by name. Rundgren and Nyro remained friends for much of her professional career and he subsequently assisted her with the recording of her album Mother’s Spiritual.
In 2015, The Christine Spero Group released “Spero Plays Nyro”, the Music of Laura Nyro along with a highly acclaimed live tour. The album features eleven of Nyro’s songs and an original song, “Laura and John” by Christine Spero, a tribute to Laura Nyro and John Coltrane, whom Nyro admired.
A beautifully written song of the 60s. Stoney End is the twelfth studio album by Barbra Streisand. Released in 1971, it was a conscious change in direction for Streisand with a more upbeat contemporary pop/rock sound and was produced by Richard Perry. The album peaked at #10 in the United States, her first to reach the top 10 in five years. The cover photography as taken at Sunrise Mountain, Nevada. Exerpt taken from Wikipedia.com
This was from Streisand’s first album of songs that weren’t from Broadway/film musicals and weren’t standards. On the album, she recorded two songs written by Laura Nyro, including “Stoney End.”
Producer Richard Perry looked at several Laura Nyro songs for Barbra Streisand to sing on her second Pop-Rock album. He selected this song and convinced Streisand to sing it, despite her not being comfortable with the line “I was raised on the good book, Jesus.” It was Streisand’s biggest Hot 100hit until “Evergreen.”
Many of Streisand’s fans were initially bothered by this song because it had more of a rock feel, with heavy bass and drums and her searing vocal. It was Streisand’s biggest Pop/Rock hit until “Evergreen“ in 1976.
Richard Perry produced this album with Phil Ramone as the engineer. Ramone would later produce several Streisand albums.
Nyro recorded this in 1967 on her album “More Than a New Discovery.” In 1968, Peggy Lipton recorded it.
Song Lyrics –
I was born from love And my poor mother worked the mines I was raised on the Good Book Jesus Till I read between the lines Now I don’t believe
I wanna to see the morning Going down the stoney end I never wanted to go Down the stoney end Mama, let me start all over Cradle me, Mama, cradle me again
And I can still remember him With love light in his eyes But the light flickered out and parted
As the sun began to rise Now I don’t believe I want to see the morning Going down the stoney end That I never wanted to go Down the stoney end
Mama, let me start all over Cradle me, Mama, cradle me again (Cradle me, Mama, cradle me again Mama, cradle me again)
Never mind the forecast ‘Cause the sky has lost control ‘Cause the furry and the broken thunders
Come to match my raging soul Now I don’t believe I wanna to see the morning Going down the stoney end
I never wanted to go Down the stoney and Mama, let me start all over Cradle me, Mama, cradle me again (Going down the stoney end I never wanted to go I never wanted to go)
I never wanted to go Mama I never wanted to go
(Going down the stoney end I never wanted to go I never wanted to go)
The music of the 70s & 80s were a huge part of growing up and hanging out with friends or attending sock-hops with class mates for many. Johnny Nash’s music is part of the generation that I grew up listening to and appreciating its cleanliness. Adding Reggae to his music was such a smart move which introduced a different vibe to his music, and quickly caught on here in the United States.
John Lester Nash Jr. (August 19, 1940 – October 6, 2020) was an American singer-songwriter, best known in the United States for his 1972 hit “I Can See Clearly Now” Primarily a reggae and pop singer, he was one of the first non-Jamaican artists to record reggae music in Kingston.
Early life –
Nash was born in Houston, Texas, the son of Eliza (Armstrong) and John Lester Nash. He sang in the choir at Progressive New Hope Baptist Church in South Central Houston as a child. Beginning in 1953, Nash sang covers of R&B hits on Matinee, a local variety show on KPRC-TV from 1956 he sang on Arthur Godfrey‘s radio and television programs for a seven-year period. Nash was married three times and had two children.
Nash sang the theme song to the syndicated animated cartoon series The Mighty Hercules, which ran on various television stations from 1963 to 1966.
In 1964, Nash and manager Danny Sims formed JoDa Records in New York. JoDa released The Cowsills‘ single “All I Really Want to Be Is Me.” Although JoDa filed for bankruptcy after only two years, Nash and Sims moved on to marketing American singers to Jamaica, owing to the low cost of recording in that country.
In 1965, Nash had a top five hit in the USBillboardR&Bchart, the ballad “Let’s Move and Groove Together. That year, he and Sims moved to Jamaica. Their lawyer Newton Willoughby was the father of Jamaican radio host Neville Willoughby. After selling off his old entertainment assets in New York, Sims opened a new music publishing business in Jamaica, Cayman Music. Nash planned to try breaking the local rocksteady sound in the United States. Around 1966 or 1967, Neville Willoughby took Nash to a Rastafarian party where Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers were performing. Members Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and Rita Marley introduced Nash to the local music scene. Nash signed all four to an exclusive publishing contract with Cayman Music for J$50 a week.
In 1967, Nash, Arthur Jenkins, and Sims collaborated to create a new label, JAD Records (after their first names Johnny, Arthur, and Danny), and recorded their albums at Federal Records in Kingston. JAD released Nash’s rocksteady single “Hold Me Tight” in 1968; it became a top-five hit in both the U.S. and UK. In 1971, Nash scored another UK hit with his cover of Marley’s “Stir It Up“.
Nash’s 1972 reggae-influenced single “I Can See Clearly Now” sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in November 1972. “I Can See Clearly Now” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 4, 1972, and remained atop the chart for four weeks, spending the same four weeks atop the adult contemporary chart. The I Can See Clearly Now album includes four original Marley compositions published by JAD: “Guava Jelly”, “Comma Comma”, “You Poured Sugar On Me”, and the follow-up hit “Stir It Up”. “There Are More Questions Than Answers” was a third hit single taken from the album.
Nash was also a composer for the Swedish romance film Vill så gärna tro (1971), in which he portrayed Robert. The movie soundtrack, partly instrumental reggae with strings, was co-composed by Bob Marley and arranged by Fred Jordan.
JAD Records ceased to exist in 1971, but it was revived in 1997 by American Marley specialist Roger Steffens and French musician and producer Bruno Blum for the Complete Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967–1972 ten-album series, for which several of the Nash-produced Marley and Tosh tracks were mixed or remixed by Blum for release. In the UK, his biggest hit was with the song “Tears on My Pillow” which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in July 1975 for one week.
After a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” in 1976 and “Let’s Go Dancing” in 1979, for many years Nash seemed to have dropped out of sight. He had a brief resurgence in the mid-1980s with the album Here Again (1986), which was preceded by the minor UK hit, “Rock Me Baby”. Younger audiences were introduced to Nash’s music with the appearance of Jimmy Cliff‘s cover of “I Can See Clearly Now” in Disney’s 1993 hit film Cool Runnings, and Nash’ original version appeared over the opening scene of John Cusack’s 1997 film, Grosse Point Blank. In May 2006, Nash was singing again at SugarHill Recording Studios and at Tierra Studios in his native Houston. Working with SugarHill chief engineer Andy Bradley and Tierra Studios’ Grammy-winning Randy Miller, he began the work of transferring analog tapes of his songs from the 1970s and 1980s to Pro Tools digital format.
Nash has four acting credits in film and television. In 1959, he had the lead role as Spencer Scott in Take a Giant Step, directed by Philip Leacock, one of the first black family films written by a black writer. In 1960 he appeared as “Apple” alongside Dennis Hopper in the crime drama Key Witness. In 1971, he played Robert in the Swedish romance Vill så gärna tro.
Nash died at his home of natural causes in Houston on October 6, 2020, after a period of failing health. He was 80.
The band “Van Halen” was a huge part of my teenage years. I don’t have cool stories of going to any of their concerts as most people do, but I can say with all honesty that they were a huge part of the teen years, not only of mine but many of the people I grew up with. It’s sad to have to say goodbye to Eddie, but I am so happy he is leaving us a huge collection of some of the greatest music of all time. R.I.P., Eddie, and Rock On!
Eddie and his brother Alex formed a band in 1972. Two years later, the band changed its name to “Van Halen” and, at the same time, became a staple of the Los Angeles music scene while playing at well-known clubs like the Whisky a Go-Go. In 1977, Warner Records offered Van Halen a recording contract.
Upon its release, the band’s album Van Halen reached number 19 on the Billboard pop music charts, becoming one of rock’s most commercially successful debuts. It was highly regarded as both heavy metal and hard rock album. By the early 1980s, Van Halen was one of the most successful rock acts of the time. The album 1984 went five-times platinum a year after its release. The lead single “Jump” became the band’s first and only number-one pop hit and garnered them a Grammy nomination.
The band won the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocals for the album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. In 2019, the band ranked 20th on the RIAA list of best-selling artists with 56 million album sales in the United States and more than 80 million worldwide. Additionally, Van Halen charted 13 number-one hits in the history of Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart; meanwhile, VH1 ranked the band seventh on a list of the top 100 hard rock artists of all time and, in 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Individually, Eddie received acclaim for his guitar work in the band.
Eddie’s 1978 instrumental solo “Eruption“, which was voted number 2 in Guitar World‘s readers poll of the “100 Greatest Guitar Solos”, showcased a solo technique called tapping, using both left and right hands on the guitar neck. Although he popularized tapping, he did not invent the tapping technique, which had been used by flamenco guitarists for at least a century, as well as the likes of Western virtuosos like Paganini on both violin and guitar. According to MusicRadar, Steve Hackett – lead guitarist with Genesis in the 1970s – is “widely credited with inventing two-handed tapping” and was an influence on Eddie. When asked about this, Hackett said, “Eddie and I have never spoken about it, but yes, he has credited me with tapping… Eddie is a fine player, of course, and he’s the one who named the technique.”
I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his “Heartbreaker” solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string … pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.
Until it expired in 2005, Eddie held a patent for a flip-out support device that attaches to the rear of the electric guitar. This device enables the user to employ the tapping technique by playing the guitar in a manner similar to the piano with the face of the guitar-oriented upward instead of forward.
Eddie used custom equipment throughout his career. His original choice of the guitar was a Gibson Les Paul, which he replaced the original P90 pickup on the bridge with a humbucker in order to sound like Eric Clapton. He is most associated with the Frankenstrat, a custom guitar he built from parts. The ash body and maple neck cost $130, while the body was bought for $50 as the wood had a knot in it. The tremolo arm was originally taken from a 1958 Fender Stratocaster and was later replaced with a Floyd Rose arm. The guitar had a single Gibson PAF (patent applied for) bridge pickup from a Gibson ES-335, which he enclosed with paraffin wax to prevent feedback. The Frankenstrat was originally painted black but was recoated with Schwinn red bicycle paint in 1979.
For Van Halen’s 2012 tour, and early 2015 television appearances, he used a Wolfgang USA guitar with a black finish and ebony fretboard. For the 2015 tour, he used a white Wolfgang USA guitar designed by Chip Ellis, featuring a custom kill switch.
Eddie used a variety of pickups including 1970s Mighty Mites, which were made by Seymour Duncan and were copies of DiMarzio Super Distortion pickups. Eddie also used GibsonPAFs, one of which was rewound by Seymour Duncan in 1978.
In an interview with Guitar World in 1985, Eddie stated that his guitar sound style which he called “brown sound” is “…basically a tone, a feeling that I’m always working at … It comes from the person. If the person doesn’t even know what that type of tone I’m talking about is, they can’t really work towards it, can they?” In an interview with Billboard magazine in June 2015, he stated that with the expression “brown sound” he actually tried to describe the sound of his brother Alex’s snare drum, which he thought “…sounds like he’s beating on a log. It’s very organic. So it wasn’t my brown sound. It was Alex’s.”
In 1980, Van Halen met actress Valerie Bertinelli at a Van Halen concert in Shreveport, Louisiana. They married in California a year later and had one son, Wolfgang. In 2005, Bertinelli filed for divorce in Los Angeles after four years of separation. The divorce was finalized in 2007.
The following year, Eddie proposed to his girlfriend, Janie Liszewski, an actress and stuntwoman who was Van Halen’s publicist at the time. The two married in 2009, at his Studio City estate, with his son Wolfgang and ex-wife Bertinelli in attendance.
Health and death
Van Halen struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse. He began smoking and drinking at the age of 12, and he stated that he eventually needed alcohol to function. He entered rehabilitation in 2007 and later shared in an interview that he had been sober since 2008.
Suffering from lingering injuries from past, high-risk, acrobatic stage performances and crashes, Van Halen underwent hip replacement surgery in 1999, after his chronic avascular necrosis, with which he was diagnosed in 1995, became unbearable. He began receiving treatment for tongue cancer in 2000. The subsequent surgery removed roughly a third of his tongue. He was declared cancer-free in 2002. He blamed the tongue cancer on his habit of holding guitar picks in his mouth, stating in 2015: “I used metal picks – they’re brass and copper – which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer. … I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it’s possible.”
In 2012, Van Halen underwent emergency surgery for a severe bout of diverticulitis. Recovery time required due to the surgery led to the postponement of Van Halen tour dates scheduled in Japan. Van Halen was later hospitalized in 2019 after battling throat cancer over the previous five years. He died from the illness on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65.
Helen Maxine Reddy (25 October 1941 – 29 September 2020) was an Australian-American singer, songwriter, author, actress, and activist. Born in Melbourne, Victoria, to a show-business family, Reddy started her career as an entertainer at age four. She sang on radio and television and won a talent contest on the television program, Bandstand in 1966; her prize was a ticket to New York City and a record audition, which was unsuccessful. She pursued her international singing career by moving to Chicago, and subsequently, Los Angeles, where she made her debut singles “One Way Ticket” and “I Believe in Music” in 1968 and 1970, respectively. The B-side of the latter single, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him“, reached number eight on the pop chart of Canadian magazine RPM. She was signed to Capitol Records a year later.
During the 1970s, Reddy enjoyed international success, especially in the United States, where she placed 15 singles on the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. Six made the top 10 and three reached number one, including her signature hit “I Am Woman“. She placed 25 songs on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart; 15 made the top 10 and eight reached number one, six consecutively. In 1974, at the inaugural American Music Awards, she won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist. On television, she was the first Australian to host a one-hour weekly primetime variety show on an American network, along with specials that were seen in more than 40 countries.
Between the 1980s and 1990s, as her single “I Can’t Say Goodbye to You” became her last to chart in the US, Reddy acted in musicals and recorded albums such as Center Stage before retiring from live performance in 2002. She returned to university in Australia, earned a degree, and practiced as a clinical hypnotherapist and motivational speaker. In 2011, after singing “Breezin’ Along with the Breeze” with her half-sister, Toni Lamond, for Lamond’s birthday, Reddy decided to return to live to perform.
Reddy’s song “I Am Woman” played a significant role in popular culture, becoming an anthem for second-wave feminism. She came to be known as a “feminist poster girl” or a “feminist icon”. In 2011, Billboard named her the number-28 adult contemporary artist of all time (number-9 woman). In 2013, the Chicago Tribune dubbed her as the “Queen of ’70s Pop”.
Helen Maxine Reddy was born into a well-known Australian show-business family in Melbourne to actress, singer, and dancer Stella Campbell (née Lamond) and Maxwell David “Max” Reddy (born 1914 in Melbourne, Victoria), a writer, producer, and actor. Her mother performed at the Majestic Theatre in Sydney and was best known as a regular cast member on the television programs Homicide (1964), Country Town (1971), and Bellbird (1967). During Reddy’s childhood, she was educated at Tintern Grammar. Her half-sister Toni Lamond and her nephew Tony Sheldon are actor-singers.
At age four, Reddy joined her parents on the Australian vaudeville circuit, singing and dancing; she recalled: “It was instilled in me: ‘You will be a star’. So between the ages of 12 and 17, I got rebellious and decided this was not for me. I was going to be a housewife and mother.” At age 12, due to her parents’ constant touring nationwide and their arguing, Reddy went to live with her paternal aunt, Helen “Nell” Reddy, “… who was her role model,” and as her aunt, “she gave her niece stability, a sense of morality, and strength” for her future career as a singer who motivated women. The younger Helen’s teenaged rebellion in favor of domesticity manifested as marriage to Kenneth Claude Weate, a considerably older musician and family friend; divorce ensued, and to support herself as a single mother to daughter Traci, she resumed her performing career, concentrating on singing, since health problems precluded dancing (she had a kidney removed at 17). She sang on radio and television, eventually winning a talent contest on the Australian pop music TV show Bandstand, the prize ostensibly being a trip to New York City to cut a single for Mercury Records. After arriving in New York in 1966, she was informed by Mercury that her prize was only the chance to “audition” for the label and that Mercury considered the Bandstand footage to constitute her audition, which was deemed unsuccessful. Despite having only US$200 (equivalent to $1,576 in 2019) and a return ticket to Australia, she decided to remain in the United States with 3-year-old Traci and pursue a singing career.
Reddy recalled her 1966 appearance at the Three Rivers Inn in Syracuse, New York – “there were like twelve people in the audience” – as typical of her early U.S. performing career. Her lack of a work permit made it difficult to obtain singing jobs, and she was forced to make trips to Canada, which did not require work permits for citizens of Commonwealth countries. In 1968, Martin St James, an Australian stage hypnotist she had met in New York City, threw Reddy a party with an admission price of US$5 (equivalent to $36.76 in 2019) to enable Reddy – then down to her last US$12 (equivalent to $88.23 in 2019) – to pay her rent. On this occasion, Reddy met her future manager and husband, Jeff Wald, a 22-year-old secretary at the William Morris Agency, who crashed the party. Reddy told People in 1975, “[Wald] didn’t pay the five dollars, but it was love at first sight.”
Wald recalled that Reddy and he married three days after meeting, and along with daughter Traci, the couple took up residence at the Hotel Albert in Greenwich Village. Reddy later stated that she married Wald “out of desperation over her right to work and live in the United States.” According to New York Magazine, Wald was fired from William Morris soon after having met Reddy, and “Helen supported them for six months doing $35-a-night hospital and charity benefits. They were so broke that they snuck out of a hotel room carrying their clothes in paper bags.” Reddy recalled: “When we did eat, it was spaghetti, and we spent what little money we had on cockroach spray.” They left New York City for Chicago and Wald landed a job as talent coordinator at Mister Kelly’s. While in Chicago, Reddy gained a reputation singing in local lounges, including Mister Kelly’s, and in 1968, she landed a deal with Fontana Records, a division of major label Chicago-based Mercury Records. Her first single, “One Way Ticket“, on Fontana was not an American hit, but it did give Reddy her first appearance on any chart, as it peaked at number 83 in her native Australia.
“I Am Woman” era and stardom
Within a year, Wald relocated Reddy and Traci to Los Angeles, where he was hired at Capitol Records, the label under which Reddy was to attain stardom; however, Wald was hired and fired the same day. At the same time, in 1969, Reddy enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles to study parapsychology and philosophy part-time.
Reddy became frustrated as Wald found success managing such acts such as Deep Purple and Tiny Tim without making any evident effort to promote her; after 18 months of career inactivity, Reddy gave Wald an ultimatum: “he [must] either revitalize her career or get out… Jeff threw himself into his new career as Mr. Helen Reddy. Five months of phone calls to Capitol Records executive Artie Mogull finally paid off; Mogull agreed to let Helen cut one single if Jeff promised not to call for a month. She did “I Believe in Music” penned by Mac Davis backed with “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Jesus Christ Superstar. The A-side fell flat, but then some Canadian DJs flipped the record over and it became a hit – number 13 in June 1971 – and Helen Reddy was on her way.”
Reddy’s stardom was solidified when her single “I Am Woman” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1972. The song was co-written by Reddy with Ray Burton; Reddy attributed the impetus for writing “I Am Woman” and her early awareness of the women’s movement to expatriate Australian rock critic and pioneer feminist Lillian Roxon. Reddy is quoted in Fred Bronson‘s The Billboard Book of Number One Hits as having said that she was looking for songs to record which reflected the positive self-image she had gained from joining the women’s movement, but could not find any, so “I realized that the song I was looking for didn’t exist, and I was going to have to write it myself.” “I Am Woman” was recorded and released in May 1972, but barely dented the charts in its initial release. However, female listeners soon adopted the song as an anthem and began requesting it from their local radio stations in droves, resulting in its September chart re-entry and eventual number-one peak. “I Am Woman” earned Reddy a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. At the awards ceremony, Reddy concluded her acceptance speech by famously thanking God “because She makes everything possible”. The success of “I Am Woman” made Reddy the first Australian singer to top the U.S. charts.
Three decades after her Grammy, Reddy discussed the song’s iconic status: “I think it came along at the right time. I’d gotten involved in the women’s movement, and there were a lot of songs on the radio about being weak and being dainty and all those sorts of things. All the women in my family, they were strong women. They worked. They lived through the Depression and a world war, and they were just strong women. I certainly didn’t see myself as being dainty,” she said.
Reddy was also instrumental in supporting the career of friend Olivia Newton-John, encouraging her to emigrate from England to the United States in the early 1970s, giving her professional opportunities that did not exist in the United Kingdom. At a party at Reddy’s house after a chance meeting with Allan Carr, a film producer, Newton-John won the starring role in the hit film version of the musical Grease.
Career eclipse –
Reddy was most successful on the Easy Listening chart, scoring eight number-one hits there over a three-year span, from “Delta Dawn” in 1973 to “I Can’t Hear You No More” in 1976. However, the latter track evidenced a sharp drop in popularity for Reddy, with a number-29 peak on the Billboard Hot 100. Reddy’s 1977 remake of Cilla Black‘s 1964 hit “You’re My World” indicated comeback potential, with a number-18 peak, but this track – co-produced by Kim Fowley – would prove to be Reddy’s last top-40 hit. Its source album, Ear Candy, Reddy’s 10th album, became her first album to not attain at least gold status since her second full-length release, 1972’s Helen Reddy.
Of Reddy’s eight subsequent single releases on Capitol, five reached the Easy Listening top 50 – including “Candle on the Water“, from the 1977 Disney film Pete’s Dragon (which starred Reddy). Only three ranked on the Billboard Hot 100: “The Happy Girls” (number 57) – the follow-up to “You’re My World”, and besides “I Am Woman”, Reddy’s only chart item that she co-wrote – and the disco tracks “Ready or Not” (number 73) and “Make Love to Me” (number 60), the latter a cover of an Australian hit by Kelly Marie, which gave Reddy alone R&B chart ranking at number 59. Reddy also made it to number 98 on the Country chart with “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler”, the B-side to “The Happy Girls”.
Without the impetus of any major hits, Reddy’s four Capitol album releases subsequent to Ear Candy failed to chart. In 1981, Reddy said: “I signed [with Capitol] ten years ago…And when you are with a company so long you tend to be taken for granted. For the last three years, I didn’t feel I was getting support from them.”
May 1981 had the release of Play Me Out, Reddy’s debut album for MCA Records, which Reddy said had “made me a deal we [Reddy and Wald] couldn’t refuse”; “we shopped around and felt the most enthusiasm at MCA.” Reddy’s new label affiliation, though, would result in only one minor success; her remake of Becky Hobbs‘s 1979 country hit “I Can’t Say Goodbye to You” returned her for the last time to the Billboard Hot 100 at number 88; it also returned Reddy to the charts in the UK and Ireland (her sole previous hit in both was “Angie Baby”). Reddy’s 14 November 1981 Top of the Pops performance brought “I Can’t Say Goodbye to You” into the UK top 50; the track would rise there no higher than number 43, but in Ireland reached number 16, giving Reddy her final high placing on a major national chart. MCA released one further Reddy album: Imagination, in 1983; it would prove to be Reddy’s final release as a career recording artist.
The unsuccessful Imagination was released just after the finalization of Reddy’s divorce from Wald, whose alleged subsequent interference in her career Reddy blamed for the decline of her career profile in the mid-1980s: “Several of my performing contracts were canceled, and one promoter told me he couldn’t book me in case a certain someone ‘came after him with a shotgun’.” Reddy states that she was effectively being blacklisted from her established performance areas, which led to her pursuing a career in theatre, where Wald had no significant influence.
In 1990, Reddy issued Feel So Young on her own label – an album that includes remakes of Reddy’s repertoire favorites. Meanwhile, her one recording in the interim had been the 1987 dance maxi-single “Mysterious Kind”, on which Reddy had vocally supported Jessica Williams. The 1997 release of Center Stage was an album of show tunes that Reddy recorded for Varèse Sarabande; the track “Surrender” – originating in Sunset Boulevard – was remixed for release as a dance maxi-single. Reddy’s final album was the 2000 seasonal release The Best Christmas Ever. In April 2015, Reddy released a cover of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” for the album Keep Calm and Salute The Beatles on the Purple Pyramid label.
Despite her late 1970s decline on the music charts, Reddy still had sufficient star power in 1979 to host The Helen Reddy Special, broadcast that May on ABC-TV, of which Jeff Wald was the producer. In September 1981, Reddy announced she would be shooting the pilot for her own TV sitcom, in which she would play a single mother working as a lounge singer in Lake Tahoe, but this project was abandoned. Reddy was an occasional television guest star as an actress, appearing on the television programs The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Jeffersons (as herself), Diagnosis: Murder, and BeastMaster.
In 2007, Reddy had a voice cameo as herself in the Family Guy television show’s Star Wars parody, “Blue Harvest“. In 2010, she guest-starred on Family Guy again singing the opening theme song for the show’s fictional Channel 5 News telecast.
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