• Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose

    doomletloosecoverBlack Sabbath: Doom Let Loose
    Author: Martin Popoff
    Publisher: ECW Press
    Reviewed: July, 2010

    When it comes to music, history, business or all of three, I like background and details - LOTS of details. I love to learn the stories behind songs. As an observer of people and what makes them tick, I especially relish details about what makes artists what they are and what motivates them.

    Martin Popoff’s Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose is one of those books who chronicles – in incredible detail – the history of the iconic heavy metal band, Black Sabbath. Not only is the warts and all telling of the band’s history, it provides great insight into the band’s legendary work.

    Popoff had the extraordinary benefit of having a decade’s worth of one-on-one chats with Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and, of course, Tony Iommi, providing incredible and intimate insights into the band and it’s evolving frames of mind over it’s 37 year history (I know! Hard to believe that they’ve been around that long!).

    Oh, and many of the “post-Ozzy” band line up were interviewed, as well. Folks like Tony Martin, Ian Gillan, Vinny Appice, and the late Ronnie James Dio are among those Martin Popoff chatted with to make this book what it is.

    Sabbath fans will not be at all surprised to learn that classics like War Pigs, Iron Man, and Paranoid were heavily influenced by depression, drinking, drugs and an impending sense of doom. Oh, of course there’s the “dabbling” into the dark realm of the occult.

    As to that last subject, the book provides stories from the guys involving, if true, some downright creepy happenings that you’ll only want to read about in broad daylight. Be warned: If you read those stories at night just before you go to sleep, don’t blame me if you wet the bed. I’m just sayin’ . . .

    The book is chock full of incredible photos – some never having been published before. There are not only photos of the band over the years but also of some very cool memorabilia. One of my personal favorites is of a poster of a concert in Syracuse, New York, where Black Sabbath opened for the group Mountain (page 51). There are shots of old 8-track tapes and all sorts of other treasures.

    Whether you’re a Black Sabbath fan or just have an appreciation for icon figures in classic rock music, you’ll want to add Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose to your personal library.

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  • Glenn Hughes Resonates

    Posted February 2017 

    glennbackcoversingle copyI don’t know what songs kids play air guitar in their rooms these days but “back when I was their age” (did I just say that?!), one of the bands on my air guitar short list was most definitely Deep Purple. Their Made In Japan album was, by far, THE album (if a kid couldn’t play anything else on guitar, they could play the intro to Smoke On The Water) and when their studio album, Burn, came out, Purple fans emptied store shelves of it. 

    The band has had four different line-ups (referred to as Mark I, II, III, or IV) and have reportedly collectively sold over 100 million LPs globally. The bassist in Marks III and IV was Glenn Hughes who, along with other members of Deep Purple, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. 

    While on the subject of the RRHOF, I contacted its CEO, Greg Harris, for some comments about the legendary bassist.

    “An overall thought is what an incredible rock and roll life and what an incredibly warm and open person. It says a lot to be such a great stage presence in rock and roll, through and through and having been so well traveled. He relates to people. I’m very impressed with his friendship and generosity to everybody. If you think about his lineage in the bands he was in before Deep Purple itself and then afterwards, it’s just amazing. So, whether or not you knew the name of the guy playing bass in some of these bands – that unmistakable sound is Glenn Hughes.”

    When I asked Greg if Glenn had been involved with the Hall with regards to contributing any memorabilia, he said, “He has. He’s been, first and foremost, involved with the induction. Then, subsequent to that, he’s actually served as our Hall of Fame ambassador at a few events. He’s such a great spokesperson for the museum. He was generous in providing items for the exhibit. With such a long career and so much movement, he doesn’t have a lot of things left from those early days. But he shared with us a real period piece: a pair of platform shoes that he wore during the Deep Purple era.”

    Mr. Harris closed his comments about Glenn by adding, “Not only is Glenn an inductee into the Hall of Fame but he has also become a member of the Hall of Fame family. He truly has been a great ambassador and he and his wife, Gabby, are just terrific individuals.”

    glennbw copyGlenn not only played in the Deep Purple, but he was also part of Trapeze, California Breed, Black Sabbath, and super group, Black Country Communion (with Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham, and Derek Sherinian), along with scores of others over the span of his lengthy career.

    In addition to working with so many great bands and artists, Glenn has also recorded solo projects of his own. It was for his latest CD, Resonate, that I called him up at his home to chat about it.

    We started out by chatting about his induction into the RRHOF and his thoughts about it and the Hall.

    “I’ve been watching the Hall of Fame since it first started out thirty-three years ago. It’s been something I’ve been doing living in America every year. It’s a grand and glorious event, you know. And to finally be inducted with my friends in Deep Purple was a momentous occasion for rock fans, in general, not just people on stage but in general. When you think of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it really is about rock and roll – or it’s supposed to be for the bands you would think of from the seventies: The Who and the Stones and the Beatles and Zeppelin and Sabbath and, now, Purple. Then, of course, a grand splattering of newer artists. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pearl Jam gets in this year (he was correct in that prediction). The door opens for other artists from Seattle and New York and London.  It’s a case of longevity and records sold, fan base and whatever grand scale of things happen.”

    Turning to the subject of his new CD, I asked Hughes why the title, “Resonate”. glennfinalpurple copy

    “Because I wanted to call the album something that meant something to me. It’s not very often that I will call an album after a song. I’ve only done it a couple of times. The album title, for me, is about what it means; about how I’m feeling and the recording and the songs. That word, ‘resonate,’ kept popping up in my head and it spoke to me. So, I was happy to call the album, ‘Resonate’.

    With recording methodology and technology changing radically over the years, I asked Glenn how this album was different for him to make than all of the other albums he has worked on.

    “It’s the first album where I went into my home studio and wrote each song in its entirety – both musically, arrangement wise, and lyrically – and then I’d sing it so that the demo would be completely done before I would turn to the next song. And, then, in the studio recording the album a couple of months later, what I did with my band is I played them one song at a time and we would do the song in its entirety and finish the song and then move to the next song. I had never had it in my head to do that before but it worked really well – to actually complete a song. Therefore, you can move freely to the next one.”

    When asked what led him to work with the group of guys that he did on Resonate, Glenn said:

    “Because they’re guys in my live band and they’re great musicians that I love working with. It’s so important for me to play live with the people I have on the record. Chad (Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) has actually been on five of my solo albums and he’s my best friend. It’s always a pleasure to have him around not only – in my opinion – that he’s the greatest rock drummer but he’s funny, kind, considerate young man. Really amazing.

    To ask an artist what song of theirs is their favorite is much like asking them who their favorite child is. However, I did ask Hughes which song would he point to as a calling card for “Resonate” for people to listen to in order to entice them to purchase it.

    “Oh my god. It’s so difficult because they’re all little movies in their own right. But I think when you hear ‘Heavy,’ I mean, it’s got it all in there, you know? But then, again, people are saying that about ‘Long Time Gone.’ They’re saying that about ‘God of Money.’ They’re saying that about “Let It Shine’ and they’re saying it about ‘Flow.’ There are so many song titles that comes to mind that I’m so engrossed in what the songs are. They’re so meaningful to me and, hopefully, they will translate to everyone.”

    Is there one that is any more personal than the rest?

    “They’re all autobiographical. Every single one is something that happened to me. I say ‘autobiographical.’ These things are about the human condition. Every song I write is about what happened between birth and death and what happens in between and the seven deadly sins that involve faith, fear, hate. It’s all hear. There’s some angst on this album. There’s a moment there where I’m really upset. I left it on tape. I don’t want to erase something that people need to hear. The way that I feel is important so I don’t want to cover up my feelings. I want people to know or feel the real emotional side of who I am.”

    As for tour plans this year and other career items on his radar, Glenn shared:

    “We’re touring next Spring. We will play throughout America in August, coming back in the Spring and we’ll come back again next September. Oh, another album from me that will be recorded late next year. Black Country Communion are making another album in January. Joe Bonamassa is at my home tomorrow. We’re almost done writing that album. Then we go into the studio in January to record that. It’s going to be a very busy year next year for me. I’m very, very busy touring. I like to tour as much as possible. A lot of my friends that are my age have stopped touring or they’re slowing down. But, for some reason, my career seems to be picking up some speed so I’m just going to go with it.”

    Wrapping out up our chat, I asked the legendary bassist how he hoped to be remembered what he hoped his legacy would be.

    “I am a messenger. That’s what my message is. I continue to be a messenger throughout the last few decades about giving love to people and giving music back and making people feel free. I like to think that my music can heal people and help give people comfort. So, at the end of it, then, I was a messenger – I AM a messenger – and I’m a healer. That’s the most important thing to me, is to carry that message.” 

    You can keep up with Glenn atwww.glennhughes.com.

  • Kim Simmonds

    Posted August, 2012


    kimsimmonds 1As the story goes, a thirteen year old Kim Simmonds secretly ordered a guitar through a mail order company.  The guitar had to be assembled, which the young Welsh man immediately did.  He began listing to various rock ‘n roll and blues bands and started imitating their sound on his cheap guitar. 

    That was in 1961.  Four years later, young Kim started a band called Savoy Brown.  One year later, the band was one of the first British blues bands to record.  In the forty-seven years since the band formed, it has enjoyed a roster of musicians that has included three of the four original members of Foghat as well as members of Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, U.F.O., Robert Cray and other great acts.

    Over the years, the band also has had the distinction of jamming with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and opened for such acts as Cream and went on to have bands such as KISS, Jethro Tull and AC/DC open for them.

    Kim Simmonds has single handedly managed to keep Savoy Brown alive and rockin’ to this very day.  he band enjoys quite an active tour schedule as well as Kim hitting off on  his own solo shows.  In fact, Simmonds is part of this summer’s Rock N’ Blues Fest, joining Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, and Mountain’s Leslie West for what promises to be a memorable and historic tour.

    With that tour coming up, I had the privilege of calling Kim at his home in upstate New York to discuss the tour as well as his view of the current state of the blues and the music business.  Immediately gracious, I knew that I was in for a real treat speaking with such an iconic blues man – especially one with such a classy accent!

    With the aforementioned stellar line up for the Rock ‘n’Blues Fest Tour, I asked Simmonds if he had ever worked with any of those gentlemen before.

    “Interesting. Let me think.  Years ago, when Leslie was starting out, I invited him up on stage to jam with Savoy Brown and I think that he remembers that as a pivotal point for him.  That was on Long Island. In the last few years, I guested on one of Leslie’s albums and we’ve done lots of dates together over the years.

    “Rick Derringer, we’ve done dates together – all the artists!  The Winter brothers, we’ve done dates together from the sixties on.  Leslie’s probably the only one that I’ve actually played with, so to speak. But all the artists I’ve done shows with throughout their respective careers so I’m very familiar with them as artists. I’m a fan of music, as well, and follow everybody.”

    As for how each show is going to be staged and staffed, band wise, Kim shared, “We’re going to share Edgar Winter’s band. From what I gather, they’re going to be like the ‘house band’. I’ll go on and do my piece, which will be a selection of Savoy Brown classics and I’m sure that everybody will do a selection of their hits.”

    When I asked if they were going to do their own blues work or blues covers, Simmonds said, “To tell the truth, I find it a little tiresome when I see artists do blues covers that we’re all familiar with – unless you can do them in a fresh way. I enjoy the challenge of a classic blues tune and doing it in a fresh way but there’s so much Savoy Brown material.  The reason that I’m doing it is that I’m hoping, perhaps, to play to people who are not particularly familiar with me.

    “If you come to a Savoy Brown show and see me play, I’ll take a lot of chances because I’m playing to an audience that know who I am.  If I go out on a limb, they understand that. But, in an audience like this, I’m hoping to play to some fresh faces but they’re not ready to be taking out on that limb. So, I’ll just try to pitch it right down the middle, I guess.

    “I’ll do some improvisation, there’s no doubt about that. But, I’ll often play acoustic stuff, for instance, in a Savoy Brown show. I’ll improvise with an acoustic.  That can be challenging, even for my fans. I just think that this kind of tour, where I have a limited amount of time and exposure, I better make sure that I play songs that are readily identifiable with me.”

    I couldn’t chat with one of the statesmen of the blues without asking his learned opinion about the state of the blues today from his vantage point.

    “It’s very important when you play, period – whether you’re playing blues or any kind of music – that the music is the most important thing and that the audience is the most important thing. If you put yourself as the most important thing, then you’re not doing the music any service – especially with blues. It’s a very small genre. It’s the music that’s the important thing. On top of that, you’ve got to try to break through and have hits with what you’re doing.

    “One thing Savoy Brown did in the sixties – and I think it was very important and I think that I can speak like this even though it’s not acknowledged in the mainstream – I know for certain that Savoy Brown had a huge impact on people with blues because we had hits. People said, ‘What is this song?’ Perhaps we covered a Muddy Waters song. Who is McKinley Morganfield?  Lots and lots of people have said that, through Savoy Brown, they discovered McKinley Morganfield was Muddy Waters. When we came over here, all we were interested in doing was saying, ‘Hey! There’s such a guy as B.B. King playing!’  In the sixties that wasn’t common knowledge. The music we were playing was certainly more important than us. And, then,  we had hits playing the music. They weren’t number one hits, of course, but they were hits. Suddenly, people were hearing on FM radio these songs that were really, essentially, blues songs. There was blues guitar and blues vocals.

    “One thing we’re lacking today is, a) people having a tendency to be more focused on themselves and not enough on the music and, also, we are not getting breakthrough artists having hits – getting into the charts. And that was the case through the fifties.  Jimmy Reed would have R&B hits.  The artists would have hits.  Some of them would cross over into the pop charts.

    “I’m hoping that we would have some younger artists who are able to do this – to focus on the music, put themselves aside, and try to develop songs that will really grow the music. The only way to broaden out is for artist – and I would presume up and coming artists – and I don’t me to commercialize or sell out or anything like that – I mean really focus in and really get things so that your appeal is broad. Nowadays, I think it’s quite obvious that people aren’t having hits with blues songs so, therefore, the music is not broadening. And, throughout the years there’s been people who were playing blues and were having hits. The last that I can think of off the top of my head – and I wouldn’t say that they were a solid blues band – but Blues Traveler had some hits there. You had this harmonica driven band and it was rootsy and so forth.

    “So, what I’d like to see is some of the younger blues artists break through.  I think we need that and I’m really crossing my fingers that some of them will cross over and reinvigorate the music.  It doesn’t matter how good of a guitar player you are; it doesn’t how good of a singer you are; can you put it into a musical form?  Can you put it into a song that will resonate with people? Guitar playing doesn’t necessarily resonate with a lot of people. It does but it only resonates if it’s within the context of music that resonates with them.”

    Then, putting a nice bow on his view about the blues, Simmonds concluded, “There’s no doubt about it, it’s a genre that will never go out of fashion. I still love to hear blues guitar, blues singing. It’s soulful where a lot of music isn’t soulful. And I think it’s an antidote to music that gets too syrupy and sugary. So the blues definitely has a place. But it’s very important that we all realize that it’s the music and not ourselves and that we all realize that we’ve got to try further the music and that it’s not necessarily about furthering ourselves.”

    With a career that spans seven decades, I asked the blues icon what saw as the biggest changes, positive and negative, in the music business.

    “I think the most negative is the technology that has – while it’s very, very good and makes our life better as musicians, it also can be counter-productive. I would take guitar effects away from every blues guitar player. I don’t understand why a blues guitar or a jazz guitar player or a roots guitar player – and I talk about guitar players because I’m a guitar player – why do you need effects? It’s all about transposing your feelings through an instrument. Blues is a very, very direct, plain, simple music. The more you complicate it and the more you let technology take over – and believe me, I’m talking as someone who has made all the mistakes! – it’s a dead end.  I think a lot of blues and roots artists are in it for that reason.

    “I’ve seen a lot of them who are terrific musicians but will be playing with too many effects and letting that get into the way. It destroys your personality. It’s like that in all genres. Like in movies, we all know the movies we watch ten years later and somehow it’s all terribly dated. It has too many effects that pertain to that particular period. The great thing about blues, it had no effects!  You can play a Howlin’ Wolf song now, it sounds AMAZING! Amazing!  It’s like, wow! And it’s because it had no effects – and don’t forget that there were effects around in the past – and they had none of those effects.

    “So, one of the failings is the way that technology has dominated the music scene. I don’t know how you deal with that. Can you take a little bit of it and leave the rest? One would like to think so, but it’s such beguiling, technological world we live in. We see everybody with a telephone and all the modern conveniences. That’s seeped into music. And that’s fine for certain kinds of music but I wouldn’t think that it would be appropriate for blues and roots music.

    “What’s the ‘ups’ of the music business?  The ups are that the world really hasn’t changed at all.  People still pick up a guitar, pick up an amp, go into a garage with three other people and start making a band. That hasn’t changed since Presley came around. So that’s the good thing. People are still doing exactly the same with the same instruments and the same equipment that people did fifty years ago.”

    And what would Kim do to fix the music business if he were made the music czar?

    With just the slightest of hesitation, Kim replied, “I would take foot pedals away from every guitar player!  I’d ban them! Of course, there’d be little speakeasy’s with the technology in them!”

    What haven’t you done or accomplished yet that you would still like to do?  You’ve jammed with some of the biggest names in music history. Is there anyone who you haven’t jammed with who you wish to?

    “Yeah, I think that I’ve so satisfied myself in the fact that I’ve met my heroes. I’ve played with my heroes. I missed the opportunity to play with some of them. I think if you asked me who I would like to jam with, there are some people have now passed away. I wish I had taken the opportunity when I had it to introduce myself. Perhaps I was too shy or intimidated and I let an opportunity go by.  Sometimes, you don’t really understand who’s really important to you until you get older.  Sometimes YOU think you’re the most important thing and as you get older you realize that you’re far from being the most important thing.

    “The most important thing are the people who’ve influenced you and, sometimes, you bury those.  Sometimes, you don’t want to admit, perhaps, that somebody was a big influence on you because you think that it’s not cool to say that. But the older you get, you go, ‘Man! This person was so important to me. I had the opportunity and I didn’t take it!’

    “So, there are some regrets like that.  One of my regrets is with the guitar player, Billy Butler, who played with Bill Doggett and was a huge influence on me. I have a story where I jammed with Charles Brown in New York City and I borrowed the guitar player’s guitar and played with Charles Brown and had a good time. I came off stage and sat the guitar down and looked over and the guitar player looked like he might not have been in the best of moods.  Normally, I would go up and say, ‘Thank you for letting me use your guitar.’

    “Well, I felt a bit intimidated so I didn’t.  Of course, it was Billy Butler and it was my opportunity there to say hi and converse with who I think is one of the greatest guitar players ever.  I didn’t. So, there’s a regret there.

    After you’ve stepped off the tour bus of life for the final time and walked up to that great stage in the sky, how do you want to be remembered and what do you hope your legacy will be?

    “Well, I think I would simply like to be remembered as one of the architects of the British blues movement of the sixties. Hopefully, I’d like to think that I was one of the finest exponents of it.  But, you know, that’s for others to decide.  But, simply that, really. I’d like to be remembered for the contributions I’ve made to British blues and the blues scene from the British standpoint. And the band!  More than me, I’ve used the band to try and create the music that is really special to people.”