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So You Think You Know Rock and Roll

Peter Meltzer

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Harry ("Cats in the Cradle") Chapin died in a car crash at 38. Even though he was a disqualified driver, his widow won $7.2 million from owner of the truck he went under, based on the estimated $12 million he would have earned over next 20 years.

Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town based on a true story of a WW2 GI who'd married the English nurse who'd looked after him in hospital. His injuries recurred, and during one hospital stay he was temprarily paralysed. His wife got fed up and started going out every night. In RL he killed her in a murder-suicide.

The shortest time for the cover of a new release was Jimi Hendrix doing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" three days later. (Unknown to him, the Beatles were in the audience at the show, and were thrilled at his performance)

In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine picked a list of the 100 best Beatles songs. Now there are many groups who could make such a list of their best songs, but the point is that the the bottom 50 of the Beatles list are familiar to everyone, something that no other group could say. For example, number #100, the "worst" song on the list, is "Hello, Goodbye".

The only group that would come close to them are the Stones, but even with a 50 year career to select songs from (v seven for the Beatles), the Stones bottom 50 songs would be unknown to anyone but die-hard fans.

The "Forrest Gump of R n R" - Chris O'Dell - she was there, but is hardly known. She worked for the Beatles (she was on the roof at final concert, she was in studio for the White Album and Abbey Road and sang on Hey Jude), she worked for the Stones (as a PA on 1972 tour and is pictured on the back of Exile On Main Street) and for Eric Clapton, Crosby Stills and Nash, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, John Denver and others.

In 1967 Beatles released Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour. The Stones released Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request. Yet another group sold more albums in 1967 than both the Beatles and Stones combined - the Monkees second album, More of the Monkees.

The Monkees were also the only group to have four number 1 albums in one year - The Monkees (released in 1966 but still #1 in 1967 until replced by) Mor of the Monkees, Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.

The Cowsills were 6 brothers and their mother (although no more than 5 brothers were there at any one time.

Winchester Cathedral was a (surprise) monster hit, so a touring group, The New Vaudeville Band, was hurriedly assembled. None of this band played on the record.

After Dr Hook and the Medicine Show's hit The Cover of the Rolling Stone, the mag did put them on the cover, but as a caricature, not a photo, captioned "What's Their names make The Cover".

Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean sang lead on BB's Barbara Ann.

Strawberry Alarm Clock's hit Incense and Peppermints was sung by a 16 yo vocalist (Greg Munford) who happened to be in the recording studio at the same time. (The song was originally meant to be B side). He never played with the band again.

Chuck Berry had many hits - Maybelline, Roll Over Beethoven, Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Liitle Sixteen, but only one #1 - the novelty song My Ding-s-Ling. (In an episode of The Simpsons a pupil at the school tried to sing the song at school talent quest but got hustled off the stage by Principlal Skinner before he could finish the first line.)

CCR had 6 studio albumsbut 38 compilation albums.

The ultimate one-hit wonder was Zager and Evans, whose In The Year 2525 wa #1 for 6 weeks, but they never again had a song in the top 100. (They are the sole example of this 'achievement')

We're familiar with session musicians such as the Wrecking Crew who provide backing music for singers. And a session vocalist, Tony Burrows, who sang studio versions of songs which, if they charted, a group was assembled. Such as Edison Lighthouse's Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes), White Plains My Baby Loves Lovin' and Brotherhood of Man United We Stand.

The only three Grammys that Elvis won were for his gospel songs.

Velvet Underground sold only 30,000 copies of their first album (officially credited to Andy Warhol as producer even though all he did was pay for the production and nothing else). But hugely influential. Brian Eno said that while only 30,000 people bought the album, every one of those started a band.

Brian Wilson wanted to use a theremin, but couldn't find one. Contacted inventor named Paul Tanner (a trombonist in Glenn Miller Orchestra) and got him to develop a similar device, which was called a Tannerin.

Vincent Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper after his band got famous. But after he split with the band and toures under his new name, he had to pay royalties to other band members each time he used the name. (The other guys formed a band they called Billion Dollar Babies, produce one album which flopped, and disbanded. Some members, such as Dennis Dunaway then rejoined Alice Cooper.)

Steely Dan is named after a giant steam-powered dildo mentioned in William S Burroughs novel Naked Lunch.

Randy Newman wrote only 2 hits: Mama Told Me Not To Come and Short People but was phenomenally successful writing music for movies - he has 20 Academy Award nominations.

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