Blue Oyster Cult’s “Transmaniacon MC” an apt soundtrack for the mayhem of Altamont

By Steve Newton The infamous concert at Altamont Speedway in northern California, which took place December 6, 1969, is often viewed as “the anti-Woodstock”, its violence signalling the end of the peace-and-love era. A YouTube video that blends footage of the event from the 1970 Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter with the 1972 Blue Oyster Cult song … Continue reading Blue Oyster Cult’s “Transmaniacon MC” an apt soundtrack for the mayhem of Altamont

Backstage with Scott Gorham (and Gary Moore) on Thin Lizzy’s Bad Reputation Tour in 1978

By Steve Newton See that Thin Lizzy mirror pin I’m holding? That’s not just any old Thin Lizzy mirror pin. That’s the one Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham gave me backstage at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum on October 12, 1978. That was an unforgettable moment for me. Lemme tell ya about it. At the time I … Continue reading Backstage with Scott Gorham (and Gary Moore) on Thin Lizzy’s Bad Reputation Tour in 1978

Laid-back legend J.J. Cale tells me “there’s no hurry”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 1990 By Steve Newton Eric Clapton has a lot of admirers, most of them appreciative of the fine music the British guitarist has delivered over the years. But J.J. Cale has another reason for feeling indebted to Clapton, and you spell it with a dollar sign. If Clapton … Continue reading Laid-back legend J.J. Cale tells me “there’s no hurry”

The Newt’s 300 Best Rock Albums of the 1970s

By Steve Newton You had to be there. Abraxas: Santana (“Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”, “Oye Coma Va”, “Samba Pa Ti”) 1970 A Day at the Races: Queen (“Tie Your Mother Down”, “Somebody to Love”, “Long Away”) 1976 Aerosmith: Aerosmith (“Make It”, “Dream On”, “Mama Kin”) 1973 After the Gold Rush: Neil Young (“Tell Me Why”, “Southern Man”, “When You … Continue reading The Newt’s 300 Best Rock Albums of the 1970s

B.B. King says that Eric Clapton was like his girlfriend on Riding With the King

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 31, 2002 By Steve Newton Trying to reach blues legend B.B. King at his Arkansas hotel takes some doing. Even when you have the phone number of the hotel, the room he’s in, and a predetermined time to call, you can’t argue with a busy signal. After … Continue reading B.B. King says that Eric Clapton was like his girlfriend on Riding With the King

Robert Plant calls Shemekia Copeland, 23, “the next Tina Turner”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 26, 2002 By Steve Newton There are a number of things that can boost an up-and-coming recording artist’s career; one of the most effective might be having Robert Plant call you “the next Tina Turner”. Blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland, 23, had no complaints when the shaggy-maned former Zepman … Continue reading Robert Plant calls Shemekia Copeland, 23, “the next Tina Turner”

Sue Foley teams with Colin Linden to kick ass on Where the Action Is

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 29, 2002 By Steve Newton Ottawa-based blueswoman Sue Foley recorded her Juno Award–winning 2000 CD, the Colin Linden–produced Love Comin’ Down, in Kingston, Ontario, but travelled down to New Orleans to mix it. On her new album, Where the Action Is, she went full-on with the southern treatment, … Continue reading Sue Foley teams with Colin Linden to kick ass on Where the Action Is

Black Crowes influenced by where music came from and where it could go

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 30, 2001 By Steve Newton The Black Crowes are one of the most popular retro-minded bands around, so when they hooked up with guitar legend Jimmy Page last year to tour the U.S. and record a live album, it was like a dream come true for many classic-rock … Continue reading Black Crowes influenced by where music came from and where it could go

The North Mississippi Allstars debut with that crazy hill-country sound

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 3, 2000 By Steve Newton When North Mississippi Allstars guitarist-vocalist Luther Dickinson calls the Straight from the band’s tour bus in Chicago, he’s all apologetic about missing a scheduled phone interview the day before. Seems that Luther, his drummer brother Cody, and bassist Chris Chew had performed on … Continue reading The North Mississippi Allstars debut with that crazy hill-country sound

Bass god Billy Sheehan pooh-poohs Mr. Big’s supergroup status

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 8, 1989 By Steve Newton Seeing a destined-to-be-huge band in a small venue can make for one of the most memorable nights in any rock fan’s existence. Kiss at the Commodore, Jeff Healey at the Yale, Living Colour at the Town Pump, Metallica at the New York Theatre–those … Continue reading Bass god Billy Sheehan pooh-poohs Mr. Big’s supergroup status

David Lee Roth says he doesn’t regret leaving Van Halen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 8, 1994 By Steve Newton With all the frenzied media attention and intense public speculation surrounding the O.J. Simpson case, it’s hard to keep a fair handle on the whole sordid affair. Even such trusted news sources as A Current Affair and the National Enquirer have gotten caught up in the circus. … Continue reading David Lee Roth says he doesn’t regret leaving Van Halen

When Aerosmith broke up with Bruce Fairbairn and hit the musical skids

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 16, 1997 By Steve Newton Sony Music had a lot at stake earlier this year when Aerosmith released Nine Lives, its first album for the label. The company had coughed up a reported US$30 million to sign the ageing band, far from chump change in anyone’s books. Then … Continue reading When Aerosmith broke up with Bruce Fairbairn and hit the musical skids

Molson Canadian screws the Newt over with a Blind Date from hell

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 4, 1997 I was really expecting something special from the latest entry in Molson Breweries’ series of exclusive promotional concerts, in which contest winners get to see a big-name rock band play a club, unaware of which group they’ll see until the show starts. Vancouver’s first Blind Date, … Continue reading Molson Canadian screws the Newt over with a Blind Date from hell

Rickey Medlocke on reuniting with Skynyrd, the plane crash, and the rebel flag

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 21, 1997 By Steve Newton October 20, 1977, is a day branded by sadness for southern-rock fans. That’s when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s rented plane, short on fuel, crashed into a Mississippi swamp en route to a gig at Louisiana University. Vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines died … Continue reading Rickey Medlocke on reuniting with Skynyrd, the plane crash, and the rebel flag

Def Leppard plays Morocco, England, and Canada in the same day, but Vancouver goes mild

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 26, 1995 The big buzz for local rock fans this week circulated around the October 23 appearance at the Commodore of British chart-toppers Def Leppard. In order to get back in the public eye and help promote its upcoming greatest hits package, Vault, the never-say-die quintet—which has dealt … Continue reading Def Leppard plays Morocco, England, and Canada in the same day, but Vancouver goes mild

Ian Moore’s social commentary stings like his Strat on Modernday Folklore

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 28, 1995 On the cover of Ian Moore’s 1993 self-titled debut, he is pictured hugging his worn Stratocaster, perched on a beat-up Fender amp, a drum kit and large speaker cabinet looming in the background. That simple shot of the longhaired, cowboy-booted dude set the impression of Moore … Continue reading Ian Moore’s social commentary stings like his Strat on Modernday Folklore

Colin James took some funky pills for his new Bad Habits

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 31, 1995 Some guys have it tough, and then there’s Colin James. When it came time to record his fourth album, the local blues-rocker didn’t hole up in any ice-encased northern studio. James ended up down in the Bahamas, poor guy. But it wasn’t like he went there … Continue reading Colin James took some funky pills for his new Bad Habits

Warren Haynes on the Allman Brothers reunion, Dickey Betts’ signature sound, and Where It All Begins

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 27, 1994 By Steve Newton Word on the street is that the Allman Brothers Band is playing some of the finest, most intense gigs of its illustrious career. And according to people who have seen the group recently, it’s not just the best-known members—Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman—who … Continue reading Warren Haynes on the Allman Brothers reunion, Dickey Betts’ signature sound, and Where It All Begins

Gilby Clarke plays Pawnshop Guitars, says “everything’s cool” in GN’R

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 27, 1994 By Steve Newton With a volatile dude like Axl Rose at the helm, it’s no wonder Guns N’ Roses breeds fast-flying rumours about everything from the singer’s supposed spousal abuse to how long he brushes his teeth. Then of course there’s the intriguing question of who’s gonna … Continue reading Gilby Clarke plays Pawnshop Guitars, says “everything’s cool” in GN’R

Nena of “99 Luftballoons” fame says she tries her best

Thirty years ago today–on May 18, 1984–24-year-old Nena Kerner called me from Berlin to promote her band Nena, which was flying high at the time on the strength of the anti-nuclear protest song “99 Luftballoons”. The song was such a hit that soon after they released an English version, “99 Red Balloons”, as well. I … Continue reading Nena of “99 Luftballoons” fame says she tries her best

Down Under slide-guitarist Dave Hole sports an over-the-top style

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 18, 1993 By Steve Newton As a musically inclined teenager living in Perth, Australia, during the 1960s, Dave Hole didn’t get the opportunity to hear much music by the great American bluesmen of the time. One fateful day, however, a member of his teenaged cover band got his … Continue reading Down Under slide-guitarist Dave Hole sports an over-the-top style

That time I pissed George Thorogood right off. “Is that funny?”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 19, 1993 By Steve Newton George Thorogood’s latest single, “Get a Haircut”, doesn’t sound like a song you would travel 10,000 miles to discover in an Australian pub. It’s a typical 12-bar blues, with unsophisticated, anti-establishment lyrics most songwriters could come up with in their sleep. Thorogood couldn’t … Continue reading That time I pissed George Thorogood right off. “Is that funny?”

Issues with Bob Rock and Sharon Osbourne leave the Quireboys Bitter Sweet & Twisted

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 27, 1993 After Bob Rock hit the big time by producing Motley Crue’s No. 1 album, Dr. Feelgood—and then accomplished the incredible feat of making former thrash-masters Metallica a mainstream rock-radio fave—it seemed the Vancouver producer could do no wrong. And although Rock’s reputation as a producer with … Continue reading Issues with Bob Rock and Sharon Osbourne leave the Quireboys Bitter Sweet & Twisted

Robben Ford wanted to be a guitar player when he heard Mike Bloomfield

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 22, 1993 By Steve Newton In 1973 the Doobie Brothers recorded a tune called “Ukiah”, about a place in Northern California with “green trees and timberlands; people workin’ with their hands”. Judging by the lyrics, it was a pretty nice place to be. And for Ukiah-raised guitar great … Continue reading Robben Ford wanted to be a guitar player when he heard Mike Bloomfield

Keith Richards’ other great band kicks out all the jams in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 21, 1993 By Steve Newton The Rolling Stones have owned the Granville Mall of late. A couple of months back Ronnie Wood played the Commodore; now Keith Richards has ripped things up a few doors down at the Orpheum. Maybe Mick Jagger will continue the trend and drop … Continue reading Keith Richards’ other great band kicks out all the jams in Vancouver

Now that he’s in Guns N’ Roses Dizzy Reed can buy drinks for all his freennz

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 13, 1992 By Steve Newton Some hard-rock bands like to boast about not using keyboards; they take pride in sticking with the trusty old guitar-bass-drums ideal. Guns N’ Roses might have been such a band in its early days, but when it came time to record its ground-breaking … Continue reading Now that he’s in Guns N’ Roses Dizzy Reed can buy drinks for all his freennz

Dickey Betts figures the Allman Brothers transcend generations

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 23, 1992 By Steve Newton Every long-time Allman Brothers fan has a favourite tune by the influential Southern rock band. Some folks tend towards the bluesy slide-guitar riff of “One Way Out”, some go hog-wild when they hear the cascading guitar intro to the band’s biggest hit, “Ramblin’ … Continue reading Dickey Betts figures the Allman Brothers transcend generations