In the '80s, kids' first Ghostbusters dress-up choice was to pretend to be Bill Murray's Peter Venkman, then Slimer, followed by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But eventually, some kid would be saddled with the bespectacled Egon Spengler, such is life for the straight man. Harold Ramis, who played second fiddle to Bill Murray not only in the Ghostbusters movies, but also in Stripes, passed away today and though he will be best remembered as a sidekick, his resume is one that shows him a comedic mind second to none.
Not only did Ramis co-write the afore mentioned Stripes and Ghostbusters movies, he also contributed in one way or another to just about every 1980s comedy worth a damn. He was one of the writers of Animal House, Meatballs, and Back to School. He wrote and directed National Lampoon's Vacation and Groundhog Day, but if you had to pick one slapstick masterpiece that he was involved in that stood above the rest (which for a child of the '80s is like asking an art historian select a favorite portion of the Sistine Chapel) it would have to be his directorial debut, Caddyshack.
Lou Reed was the ego to Iggy Pop's streetwalking cheetah id and Bowie's grandiose glam super ego. His stories were seedy, but he told them like Homer: epic, sentimental, otherworldly but, simultaneously, strangely familiar. To invoke a second Freudianism in only three sentences: Lou kept the uncanny weird enough to remain off-beat, but endowed the queers and proto-hipsters that lived in his lyrics with the humanistic relatability of Top 40 pop.
It's an unfortunate fact, but for many, the name J.J. Cale might just as well belong to John Cale, the ex-Velvet Underground musical provocateur, or J.J. Abrams, the screenwriter and producer, or, well, anyone or no one at all.
Songwriter and musician Cale, who died Friday of a heart attack in La Jolla, California, at age 74, pursued his craft nestled somewhere under the radar. Not that he avoided recognition; he recorded 15 albums in all, beginning with Naturally, his 1972 debut and one of the earliest offerings on Leon Russell's fledgling Shelter Records label. His efforts brought him well up to the present day, culminating in the 2006 song summit with longtime friend and fellow traveler Eric Clapton, the Grammy Award-winning collaboration The Road to Escondido, and, just this year, his contribution to Clapton's current covers album, Old Sock.
In truth, though, it wasn't Cale's recordings that will solidify his lingering legacy. It was the song classics he penned, like "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" as interpreted by Clapton. Or "Call Me the Breeze," a staple of Lynyrd Skynrd's. Or "Ride Me High" and "Travelin' Light," appropriated by Widespread Panic. Or any of his tunes covered by Santana, the Allman Brothers, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash.More »
O'Brien and friend while working in Antarctica, early '90s.
It is not easy to write about a person who has passed away, especially when the one you're writing about is someone you respected and looked up to.
It was with a heavy heart that we reported on the Eat's drummer, Christopher Cottie's, passing back in 2004, and it is with a heavy heart and watery eyes that we report that on Thursday, July 25, Michael O'Brien, the younger of the brothers, has died at home after battling cancer.
It is well-known in South Florida's music circles how big a fan I have been of the Eat since I first heard the band on a mixtape and embarked on a long journey to seek out their recorded work. The Eat, and specifically the brothers O'Brien, basically invented South Florida's raucous punk rock scene -- equal parts roots rock and the underlying aggression that would eventually surface as "hardcore."
That these dichotomies existed succinctly within one band and never fully tilted one way or the other will always be the downright mathematical alignment of the brothers and their bandmates. They were guided by a twisted Irish-Catholic sense of humor that snarled acerbically at communism, the Mariel Boatlift, South Florida's sunny living, animal rights, and an encyclopedic love for sports.More »
Although it was Jim Morrison who hoarded the spotlight and dominated their image, no single musician contributed more to the Door's iconic sound than keyboardist and co-writer Ray Manzarek. Manzarek -- who died in a German clinic yesterday after succumbing to bile duct cancer -- was not only an integral part of the Doors' musical persona, but one of the most influential organists of all time.
To say that Slayer has brought me moments of happiness is an understatement.
From the aggressive thrash to the hepped-up on meth speed metal with hardcore punk underlinings, Slayer's contribution to reducing the suck factor of the 1980s is undeniable. Proud of wearing '70s metal on his sleeve, as well as his punk rock roots, guitarist Jeff Hanneman was essential in influencing hundreds, if not thousands of young heshers to pick up the instrument and rock out.
Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly was found dead in his Atlanta home yesterday. He was thirty-four years old. And while nothing is concrete, at the time of this writing, a drug overdose is suspected as the cause.
But first, a confession.
It is through the sheer power of thought and astral projection that I am responsible for the Mac Daddy's death.More »
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Looking back at a true musical master.
When Ian Hunter, the onetime mainstay of the band Mott the Hoople, famously sang "All of the good ones are taken," he was clearly referring to the diminishing supply of prospective mates that qualify as marrying material. Yet these days, that same phrase could refer to the fact that so many musical icons have been taken from us recently to join that heavenly choir.
The latest of these is Richie Havens, who passed away yesterday at age 72, the victim of a sudden heart attack. Although he retired from performing three years ago, the image of him furiously strumming his guitar and rallying the hordes at Woodstock remains etched forever not only in the minds of those who were there but also in the hearts and souls of the millions who saw the film that followed. Few knew it at the time, but Havens' relentless incantation, which came to be known as "Freedom," was largely improvised after he played all the material he knew following a three-hour set that kept the crowd entertained while buying time for other artists. Based on the traditional folk tune "Motherless Child," his impassioned performance became one of the most memorable moments of that great documentary and, in turn, Haven's signature song.More »