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Ryan R. McNutt

[Hip, the]

Canadian rock band. Its work in the late 20th century made its five members national icons and brought them minor cult status in the United States, particularly among Canadian expatriates. The band consists of Gord Downie (vocals), Rob Baker (guitar), Paul Langlois (guitar), Gord Sinclair (bass), and Johnny Fay (drums).

Known to fans as the Hip, the band formed in Kingston, Ontario, in 1983, taking its name from a skit in Michael Nesmith’s movie Elephant Parts. The band’s music consists primarily of straightforward blues-inspired rock with folk influences, elevated to acclaim by the band’s captivating live shows and Downie’s poetic, imaginative lyrics, which often refer to specifically Canadian locales and characters. Their breakthrough album, Up to here (1989), featured several songs which became Canadian radio staples, including “Blow at High Dough” and “New Orleans is Sinking.” The peak of popularity came in the mid-1990s with four best-selling albums and several radio and music video hits, including “Ahead by a Century,” “Courage,” and “Bobcaygeon.” The Hip launched the Another Roadside Attraction touring music festival in ...

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Mark Clague and Dan Archdeacon

Growing out of the Detroit Artists Workshop (founded 1964), Trans-Love Energies (TLE, formally, Trans-Love Energies Unlimited, Inc.) was an anti-establishment commune founded in Detroit in February 1967. Its mission was to “produce, promote, manage, and otherwise represent musical and other artists, in recordings, concerts, tours, media, and related fields of culture and entertainment, including films, books, posters, light and sound environments—all on a cooperative, non-profit basis, for the purpose of educating and informing the general public in terms of contemporary art forms and cultural patterns.”

An umbrella corporation, TLE included a production company, a light show and poster company, the Artists’ Workshop Press (distributor and publisher of underground newspapers, including the Warren-Forest Sun), and many side enterprises that helped fund commune operations. Inspired by rock music’s potential to catalyze social change, TLE managed musical acts including the Up, Iggy and the Stooges, and most notably the MC5. The activist leader John Sinclair (...

Article

Justin A. Williams

American rap group. Formed in Queens, New York City, in 1988, and signed with Jive Records in 1989, A Tribe Called Quest included producer/DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, MC/producer Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis), and MCs Phife (Malik Taylor) and Jarobi (the latter appearing only on the group’s first album). They were part of the Native Tongues, a loose collective of New York City-based groups, including the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul, whose Afrocentric lyrics often recalled the political and social consciousness of 1960s and 1970s America. Yet their eclecticism in both lyrical topics and musical styles almost always included an element of humor, allowing them to engage critically, but playfully, with a variety of themes, ranging from love to the music industry, from date rape to domestic abuse, from religion to the use of the word “nigger.”

A Tribe Called Quest’s first album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm...

Article

Deena Weinstein

Tribute bands ply their trade by faithfully imitating the music of one specific band, rather than writing or recording their own songs. Although the tribute is primarily to their chosen band’s music, tribute band members often adopt the clothing, hairstyles, type of instruments, stage moves, and makeup of the original band. Although tribute bands often salute groups that are no longer together, many tribute bands have formed to play the music of currently active groups. The most commercially successful bands typically inspire tribute bands; certain groups like Kiss, Rush, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin have inspired dozens of tribute bands. Tribute bands may not receive critical respect but they do land gigs that appeal to a ready-made fan base. It is no coincidence that tribute bands tend to name themselves after the original band’s widely known albums or songs.

Musicians in tribute bands are often talented, at times even better than members of the original band, and they rely on their skills to deliver a note-perfect imitation of original recordings. Joining a tribute band gives musicians both lucrative employment (which can move from a part-time hobby to a full-time pursuit) and the chance to indulge their passion in music making, often while they are trying to launch their own originals bands. Fans of tribute bands can experience the music of fallen idols performed live again, while getting the opportunity to interact with fellow fans. Tributes to currently active bands offer an inexpensive way for fans to see their favorite music live and up-close. Considering that long-in-the-tooth but massively popular bands often use backing tracks and other technological enhancers, sometimes feature new members, and play in giant arenas, tribute bands may sound and even look more like the originals in their prime....

Article

Susan Fast

(Wister )

(b Clarksdale, MI, Nov 5, 1931; d San Marcos, CA, Dec 12, 2007). American songwriter, guitarist, pianist, bandleader, talent scout, and record producer. He began playing piano as a boy in Clarksdale, forming the Kings of Rhythm while still in school. His musical education consisted of listening to music and playing with blues musicians such as B.B. King. Turner is often credited with writing and recording the first rock and roll record (according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), “Rocket 88,” although the track was released under the name of Jackie Brenston (a member of Turner’s band who sang and played sax on the record). Recorded in 1951 at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios in Memphis, this uptempo R&B song provided a template for the rock and roll emerging later in the decade. The modified 12-bar blues form, boogie woogie bass line, percussive piano, guitar distortion, and rowdy sax solo became standard features of songs by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others....

Article

Nancy Riley

American alternative country music group. A band from Belleville, Illinois, Uncle Tupelo came to symbolize an indie music movement that merged punk, rock, and country at a time when country and rock music were becoming increasingly homogenous and slickly produced. Their debut album, No Depression (Rockville, 1990), was titled after and contained a cover of a Carter Family song. The term “No Depression” became a reference term for similar bands, and the name of an online discussion group, which spawned the movement’s print publication of the same name.

Uncle Tupelo began as a punk band called the Primitives in a blue-collar suburb of St. Louis in the early 1980s, featuring Jay Farrar (b Belleville, IL, 26 Dec 1966) and Jeff Tweedy (b Belleville, IL, 25 Aug 1967) playing guitars and singing, and drummer Mike Heidorn (b Belleville, IL, 1967). In 1987, the trio became Uncle Tupelo and began performing original songs written by Farrar and Tweedy that fused elements of rock, punk, and country with lyrical themes about Middle America and the working class. The band signed a record deal with indie label Rockville Records and released their debut album in ...

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Article

Mark Gardner

Record company and label. The company was established in New York in 1958 as a subsidiary of the film company of the same name. It quickly assembled a remarkably comprehensive catalogue that contained a wide variety of mainstream and modern jazz. Among its most notable recordings were the excellent album Money Jungle by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach, and the only recording made jointly by John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor. In addition the company released albums by Art Blakey, Roy Ayers, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Bill Potts, Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Thad Jones, Mose Allison, Ruby Braff, Gerry Mulligan, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Betty Carter, Dave Lambert, Rex Stewart, Oliver Nelson, Benny Golson, Herb Pomeroy, Booker Little, Milt Jackson, Howard McGhee, Bud Freeman, Teddy Charles, Kenny Dorham, Zoot Sims, and Billy Strayhorn. This extensive repertory was produced by Tom Wilson, Jack Lewis, Alan Douglas, and George Wein. Around ...

Article

Andrew Flory

(Ronzoni )

(b New York, NY, April 20, 1951; d Edison, NJ, July 1, 2005). American rhythm-and-blues and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer. He was one of the most instantly recognizable African American male vocalists of the 1980s, often performing in a virtuosic style that was at once melismatic, improvisational, and precise. He began his career as a behind-the-scenes songwriter and vocalist, singing on commercial jingles, writing and collaborating on songs for other recording artists, and performing live and recorded background vocals. As backing vocalist he appeared widely, including on David Bowie’s “Young Americans” (1975), Chic’s C’est Chic (1978), Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (1979), and Roberta Flack’s Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway (1980). Vandross signed to Atlantic’s Cotillion label in the mid-1970s and released two unsuccessful albums with a self-titled group call Luther. He also worked as a vocalist with the disco-oriented band Change on several singles released during the early 1980s....

Article

Jonas Westover

[Mattern, David ]

(b Lancaster, PA, Aug 24, 1949). American dj, remixer, and producer. He began his career in music as a producer in the mid-1980s after a period working in the fashion industry. Immersed in the night life in New York, he was fascinated by the work of DJs and decided to try his hand, and he eventually secured a place at Club Bassline. Working alongside Shep Pettibone, he landed numerous high-profile opportunities to remix the music of such pop stars as Madonna and Janet Jackson. Vasquez then co-established his own club, the Sound Factory, which brought him wider exposure and more offers to remix music from major labels. The club closed in 1995, and Vasquez went to other venues, the most notable being the Twilo, where he spun records in a custom-designed booth. Throughout the 1990s he released several albums of remixes, including The Future Sound of New York...

Article

Ray Pratt

The Vietnam War period can be dated from the establishment of the US Military Assistance Command in 1963 to the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces in 1975. References to the war and reflections on its meaning in popular music began to reach a wide listenership by 1965. Because millions of Americans were drafted to serve in the US military during the war period, its impact on individuals of military age, their social peers, friends, and families was almost as widespread as that of World War II.

From Johnny Wright’s “Hello, Vietnam” (1965) to Barry Sadler’s “Ballad of the Green Berets” (1966) to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A” (1984), the meaning of the Vietnam War has been contested in American popular music and the larger political culture. Analysis of the ways diverse and divergent publics listened to, heard, or attempted to make meaning from (or through) music of the era depends significantly on perspective and historical context. Empirical study indicates that most listeners do not correctly decipher lyrics; instead, meanings are made by the ...

Article

Jonas Westover

Disco group. Founded in 1977 by French producer/composer Jacques Morali and his partner Henri Belolo, it included original members Victor Willis, Felipe Rose, Randy Jones, Glenn Hughes, David Hodo, and Alex Briley, who were recruited to embody characters that could be found in New York’s Greenwich Village. The group’s image became a key part of its success, as the six members donned costumes of various “macho” men, including (but not limited to) policeman, cowboy, construction worker, Native American, soldier, and leatherman. The main members sang and danced, while music was provided by their backup band, Gypsy Lane. Although the group was not overt at first about targeting a gay male audience, they capitalized on such appeal at the height of the disco era. Physical prowess was accentuated in the costumes the group members wore, and their songs frequently addressed gay topics, sometimes in a slightly veiled or ironic manner. Their style of disco dance music brought the group a string of hits in the 1970s and early 1980s. Their first came with “San Francisco (You Got Me),” which the group sang while appearing on ...

Article

Lukas Pearse

Post-punk, folk-punk band. Formed in 1980 in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the trio featured Gordon Gano (b 1963; guitar, voice), Brian Ritchie (b 1960; bass guitar), and Victor De Lorenzo (b 1954; percussion). Guy Hoffmann replaced De Lorenzo from 1993 to 2002. The group broke up in 2009.

Inspired by punk rock, the Violent Femmes incorporated elements of folk, jazz, bluegrass, country, and rockabilly music into their minimal and frequently acoustic sound. Brian Ritchie often played acoustic bass guitar in a highly aggressive style that borrowed from both rockabilly upright acoustic bass and punk electric guitar, foreshadowing the “unplugged” style that 1990s rock bands would sometimes adopt. Both percussionists usually played only snare drum, tambourine, and crash cymbal. Gano’s songs, delivered with his distinctive nasal vocal delivery, frequently addressed themes of teenage alienation and desperation, marked by sexual frustration, drug use, and implicit violence. They also depicted innocence and naiveté, with later songs becoming increasingly spiritual and nostalgic. In performance, the band often included an ad hoc horn section, the Horns of Dilemma, including saxophonist Steve Mackay of the Stooges and local musical acquaintances or audience members, functioning as an improvised wall-of-sound background rather than as a traditional horn section....

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Charles Garrett

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Micah Hayes

A collective of hip-hop artists based in the Los Angeles area. Consisting of 2Mex, LMNO, zen r.el.z.m. aka “Lord Zen,” Dannu, Key Kool, and DJ Rhettmatic, the Visionaries have made their mark on the LA underground hip-hop scene by avoiding the West Coast “gangsta” rap style, focusing instead on more political and spiritually uplifting elements in their lyrics and music.

The group began when LMNO and Key Kool, then represented by Ice T’s management group Rhyme Syndicate, met DJ Rhettmatic, Dannu, zen r.el.s.m, and 2Mex in various hip- hop clubs in the Los Angeles area. Together they recorded their first song, “Visionaries (Stop Actin’ Scary)” (1995), and have remained committed to recording and touring as the Visionaries.

The Visionaries rose to prominence in 1997 with their album Galleries and have released three subsequent albums on Up Above Records: Sophomore Jinx (2001), Pangaea (2004), and ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(bc 1965). American record executive. She graduated from high school at 15 and the following year worked as a roadie for Johnnie Thunders and the Ramones. She moved in 1974 to New York City, where she worked as a sound designer for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, including On The Waterfront...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe and Travis D. Stimeling

(Wayne )

(b West Plains, MO, Aug 12, 1927; d Nashville, TN, Oct 27, 2007). American country music singer, songwriter, and record producer. As a boy, he learned country songs of the 1920s from his mother and occasionally pretended to host the Grand Ole Opry. A performance on a local radio show in 1950 led to regular appearances on KWTO, a powerful station in nearby Springfield, and this in turn led to a regular job on Red Foley’s national Ozark Jubilee television show. He signed a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1952 and had early success with “Company’s Comin’” and “Satisfied Mind.” Gospel songs such as “What would you do?” became part of his repertory, and their success encouraged his penchant for including recitation in songs. During the 1960s, thirty-one of Wagoner’s recordings reached the charts, and, by the end of the decade, he produced his own television show, ...

Article

Gareth Dylan Smith

(b Kalamazoo, MI, April 23, 1952). American drummer, producer, and composer. The drum major in his high school marching band, he majored in music for three semesters at Western Michigan University, and then joined a soul band from Fresno, California. After witnessing the Mahavishnu Orchestra in concert, he sought to learn from that band’s leader and guitarist, john McLaughlin. At 21 years of age, following lessons from McLaughlin, he played on Apocalypse as a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, replacing Billy Cobham. Propelled by the advice of his (and McLaughlin’s) guru Sri Chinmoy (who gave him the name “Narada,” meaning “supreme musician”) to “compete with himself,” Walden has maintained a highly successful and versatile career as a drummer and a producer, known equally for his work in each of these roles. He also contributed as a composer, vocalist, and percussionist to the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s 1976 album Inner Worlds...

Article

Patrick Huber

(b Fly Summit, NY, Oct 24, 1889; d Little Neck, Queens, NY, Oct 15, 1963). American record producer and executive. He joined the Columbia Graphophone Company (later the Columbia Phonograph Company) in 1919 as secretary to the president of the firm and then learned the record manufacturing process. He left the company briefly to promote concerts for the Central Concert Company of Detroit, but returned in 1921 as Columbia’s A&R man in charge of the emerging race catalog and, shortly thereafter, also the hillbilly catalog. Like Ralph S. Peer, his counterpart at OKeh and later Victor, Walker was a pioneer of talent-scouting and field-recording expeditions in the American South; beginning in 1925, he arranged dozens of field-recording sessions, using portable recording equipment in southern cities including Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Memphis, and Johnson City, Tennessee. Walker supervised the recordings of many of Columbia’s blues and hillbilly stars of the 1920s, including Bessie Smith (whom he also managed), Clara Smith, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, and the Allen Brothers. Under Walker’s leadership, Columbia became the nation’s leading record label for blues and hillbilly music during the 1920s, and he eventually became a vice president of the company....

Article

(b Orlinda, TN, Feb 16, 1924). American music administrator. She was the guiding hand behind the Country music association (CMA) for its first three decades, contributing significantly to the genre’s tremendous growth in the 1960s and 1970s. Born in the Black Patch tobacco-producing region of north-central Tennessee, she went to Nashville during World War II to work in the Vultee Aircraft plant and attend college. She held a number of administrative and public relations positions before accepting a job at the newly formed CMA in 1958, although she was not particularly familiar with country music and often joked about her lack of musical inclination. Walker-Meador became the organization’s sole employee in 1959, when its executive director Harry Stone was released owing to lack of funds. She soon became the public face of the CMA, single-handedly administering a complex public relations campaign that included organizing the annual banquet that would become the televised CMA Awards, coordinating a national series of benefit concerts, producing a monthly newsletter (...