Ed Gagliardi, original bassist for GRAMMY-nominated rock band Foreigner, died May 11 following a bout with cancer. He was 62. Foreigner's original recording lineup comprised Gagliardi, vocalist Lou Gramm, guitarist Mick Jones, keyboardist Al Greenwood, drummer Dennis Elliott, and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald. The group quickly garnered success with the release of their 1977 self-titled debut album, which featured the Top 10 hits "Feels Like The First Time" (No. 4) and "Cold As Ice" (No. 6) and ultimately attained quintuple-platinum status. Foreigner earned a GRAMMY nomination for the 1977 Best New Artist Of The Year. The group's sophomore album, 1978's Double Vision, spawned the hits "Hot Blooded" (No. 3), "Double Vision" and "Blue Morning, Blue Day" (No. 15). Gagliardi left the group in 1979, replaced by Rick Wills, and subsequently formed the group Spys with whom he released two albums in the early '80s.
March Madness is here, that captivating time of year when 68 teams set out on the Road to the Final Four in their quest for NCAA men's college basketball supremacy. This year's tournament is scheduled to get underway March 17, with brackets to be announced March 13. However, those wishing to take part in some early madness with a side of musical fun can get a head start with ESPN's Herd Rock Band Bracket, a 64-artist field devised by radio host Colin Cowherd to crown the best rock band. Formal ESPN analysis is still pending, but we'll chime in with a few first-round matchups to keep an eye on. Teen spirit and Kurt Cobain will face off against the head games of Mick Jones when Nirvana and Foreigner clash in the West: Seattle Region. It will be all pinball wizardry and anarchy when the Who and the Sex Pistols battle it out in the East: New York Region. Metal will look to bring the heat against '60s psychedelia as Metallica takes on Jefferson Airplane in the Midwest: Cleveland Region. And shred guitar prowess will duel angst-ridden prog rock as Van Halen and Tool duke it out in the Far East: London region. Upset alert: Though arguably a mismatch on paper, can Scott Stapp and the No. 16-seeded upstart Creed deliver a knockout blow to the Fab Four, the No. 1-seeded Beatles, in the Far East: London region? Fill out your brackets here. Rock's March Madness survivor will be crowned later this month.
The man who went against all odds, fronted Genesis and brought us pop gems such as "Sussudio" is calling it a career. Following an onslaught of speculation on the reasons behind his retirement, Phil Collins surfaced this week to clear the air with "breaking news" on his website. "I'm not stopping because of dodgy reviews or bad treatment in the press," said Collins. "I am stopping so I can be a full-time father to my two young sons on a daily basis." Collins did take the press to task for painting him as "a tormented weirdo…who feels very sorry for himself, and is retiring hurt because of the bad press over the years." An eight-time GRAMMY winner, Collins assured that his retirement decision was a no "straitjacket" required proposition.
If you're a musician with an appetite for rock-solid financial planning from someone who has been there, done that, you're in luck. Former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan is launching Meridian Rock, a wealth management firm designed to educate musicians about their finances. While McKagan made a name for himself in GNR and the GRAMMY-winning rock band Velvet Revolver, he now fronts his own project, Loaded, and is fully loaded when it comes to financial credibility. After making millions with Axl, Slash and friends, in the '90s McKagan took basic finance courses at Santa Monica Community College in Southern California, and later earned a degree in finance at Seattle University. What type of clients does he think his firm can help? All are welcome, especially those musicians who may be timid. "If they're anything like me when I was 30, they're too embarrassed to ask," said McKagan. "I didn't know what a stock was [or] what a bond was."
With possibly one too many guys trying to touch her junk, Ke$ha has launched a safe-sex campaign. You may file it under just say no way, but the party animal/cannibal has issued 10,000 Ke$ha condoms with her face on them, which will be fired from a canon into the audience at her live shows (fortunately, there's nothing symbolic about that method of distribution). With Ke$ha condoms and a bottle of jack, we should be ready to go until the police shut us down, down.
When's the last time you took a ride down the western country line on a train? Better yet, when's the last time you took that ride with three indie bands? This April, GRAMMY nominees Mumford & Sons will embark on a six-stop tour with Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show. Titled The Railroad Revival Tour, these three bands will take a ride on a 1,500-foot long train featuring 15 vintage railcars pulled by two locomotives and are set to travel more than 2,000 miles across five states. The tour kicks off April 21 in Oakland, Calif., with stops in San Pedro, Calif., (April 22), Chandler, Ariz., (April 23), Marfa, Texas, (April 24), Austin, Texas, (April 26), and New Orleans (April 27). Could the railcar be the new tour bus? With gas prices these days, we're not sure if that'd be less or more costly.
While Lady Gaga was born this way, up-and-coming artist Maria Aragon was just born…10 years ago. After uploading a video of her cover of Gaga's "Born This Way" to YouTube, Aragon was invited onstage to perform a duet with the Lead Monster herself during a March 3 concert in Toronto. "Maria represents what this song is all about," said Gaga before leading into the song. "It's all about the next generation and the future and no more divisiveness, only unity." Let's hope this is a story that inspires future generations of Little Monsters. Don't be a drag, just be a queen.
Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" is No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Jennifer Lopez's "On The Floor" (featuring Pitbull) is atop the iTunes singles chart.
Any news we've missed? Comment below.
GRAMMY-nominated rock band Foreigner recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's An Evening With series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, founding member Mick Jones and current vocalist Kelly Hansen discussed some of the greatest moments of the band's career and music education. Foreigner also performed an acoustic set featuring hits such as "Hot Blooded," "Juke Box Hero" and the No. 1 hit "I Want To Know What Love Is."
"It started out very simply as just a personal romantic song, and gradually it just accumulated more of a universal feeling,'" said Jones on writing "I Want To Know What Love Is." "Nobody had really ever worked with a gospel choir, so we took a chance. … Before we did the take [the New Jersey Mass Choir] said the Lord's prayer and … I was just like, 'Wow, I don't know what's going to happen here but I think it's going to be good.' And it was. It was an incredible emotional experience. And the song went on to do what it did."
Foreigner was originally formed by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jones in New York in the mid-'70s. The band issued their self-titled debut album in 1977 featuring original vocalist Lou Gramm, with whom Jones co-wrote songs such as "Cold As Ice" and "Long, Long Way From Home." The album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and helped earn Foreigner a GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist. Double Vision was released in 1978 and peaked at No. 3, followed by 1979's Head Games and 1981's 4, the latter of which peaked at No. 1 and earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Agent Provocateur was released in 1985 and earned the band their third GRAMMY nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "I Want To Know What Love Is." The release of Inside Information in 1987 marked one of the last with Gramm, who departed the band in 1989. (Gramm and Jones reunited in the '90s and issued several greatest hits collections as well as a brand-new studio effort, 1995's Mr. Moonlight.)
In 2005 Foreigner added former Hurricane vocalist Kelly Hansen and released 2009's Can't Slow Down, a CD/DVD set featuring remixed recordings of Foreigner hits such as "Double Vision," "Cold As Ice" and "Feels Like The First Time." The album peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard 200. The band's current lineup consists of Hansen and Jones, along with keyboardist Michael Bluestein, saxist Tom Gimbel and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Pilson. Foreigner is currently on a global tour, with dates scheduled through August.
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Great Guitars: Orianthi (March 11), Icons Of The Music Industry: Clive Davis (March 20) and An Evening With Gordon Lightfoot (March 21).
(The GRAMMY Insider keeps you up to date about news on your favorite GRAMMY winners, including new album releases, tour updates, notable TV appearances, interviews, and more.)
Kanye West became a father just in time for Father's Day. The rapper and Kim Kardashian welcomed their first child — a daughter — on June 15, according to People. Despite a hectic travel schedule and a new album due June 18, West was reportedly by Kardashian's side for the delivery. "We're happy, everybody's good and she's beautiful," said Kris Jenner, Kardashian's mother.
Jay-Z will release his new studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, on July 4. Hova made the announcement via a Samsung commercial that played during game five of the NBA Finals on June 16. In the commercial, Jay-Z is seen with producer Rick Rubin, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, and Swizz Beatz. "The album is about, like this duality of how do you navigate your way through this whole thing, through success, through failures, through all this and remain yourself," Jay-Z tells Rubin in the commercial. … Look, on the artwork for the new Justin Timberlake single "Tunnel Vision." It's Justin Timberlake. No, it's a naked woman. No, it's both! Actually, it's JT's face as seen through the silhouette of a presumably unclad female. "Tunnel Vision" is the tenth track from JT's The 20/20 Experience to hit a Billboard music chart. … Buddy Guy will release a new double album, Rhythm & Blues, on July 29 with a little help from his friends, including Aerosmith's Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, Gary Clark Jr., Beth Hart and, Kid Rock, and Keith Urban.
The Huffington Post has created a timeline of important LGBT pop culture moments for LGBT Pride Month. Among them, Elton John's duet with supposed homophobe Eminem on the 43rd GRAMMY Awards. Other notable music moments: Judas Priest's Rob Halford becomes the first metal musician to come out in 1998, hip-hop embraces Frank Ocean when he announced his love for another man in July 2012, and Madonna's call for a gay-rights revolution at the GLADD Awards in March. … Clear Channel Media & Entertainment has finalized a deal with Fleetwood Mac that will involve paying performance royalties to the band for songs featured on their Extended Play EP that are broadcast on its 850 terrestrial radio stations. … Residente (René Pérez Joglar) of Latin GRAMMY-winning duo Calle 13 has announced he'll be writing songs with controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The goal of the songwriting sessions is to write material in support of free speech and against "disinformation and media manipulation," according to Residente's Twitter feed. Fans can follow the pair's progress online.
The 44th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards and Dinner took place June 13 in New York and honored GRAMMY winners Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, along with GRAMMY nominees J.D. Souther, and Lou Gramm and Mick Jones for their contributions to Foreigner; and Tony Hatch and Holly Knight. Berry Gordy was presented with the Pioneer Award and Elton John and Bernie Taupin were the recipients of the Johnny Mercer Award.
Metal kings Black Sabbath are set to secure their first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, according to a Billboard report. First-week sales of the group's new album, 13, are predicted to total more than 120,000 copies. Black Sabbath's best-charting album to date is 1971's Master Of Reality, which reached No. 8.
Cher will perform on the season finale of "The Voice" on June 18. The GRAMMY winner will perform "Woman's World," the first single off her upcoming album of the same name.
While previewing his forthcoming new album, Yeezus, in New York on June 10, Kanye West revealed his beef with YouTube's functionality. "You know how you be on YouTube and it's a bunch of related videos on the side that don't got nothing to do with your s***?" he asked the audience. "I ain't want none of that. I don't want YouTube giving nobody else related suggestions off my s***." … Kings Of Leon have credited the inspiration behind the sound on their forthcoming release, Mechanical Bull, to John Travolta. "I know we watched a lot of Urban Cowboy during the making of this record, so that definitely probably had something to do with it," said drummer Nathan Followill. We'd be interested to see what comes out of a KOL screening of Grease. … Joni Mitchell participated in a rare interview regarding her career during the Luminato Festival's TimesTalks in Toronto on June 16. "My songs don't adhere to one emotion," said Mitchell. "They're more like 'Fiddler On The Roof.'"
What can we learn from an artist's first album? In the case of singer/songwriter Elvis Costello, as it turns out, quite a bit.
He recorded his debut album, My Aim Is True, for a cost of £2,000 in only 24 hours, leveraging his sick days and holidays from his job as a computer operator. On paper, it was not an auspicious start.
My Aim Is True arrived in 1977 while music was in the midst of a punk-rock revolution courtesy of the Clash, Sex Pistols, and Ramones, but Costello borrowed from a different wellspring.
The son of a musician, the Englishman poured more material into his debut than his pigeonholed "new wave" label could hold, and he's spent the next 40 years revealing the seemingly endless depth of influence his music has conjured.
By 2007, My Aim Is True was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in recognition of its standing as one of rock and roll's greatest recordings.
With that in mind, and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the classic album's original U.K. release, here are five moments on My Aim Is True — and select tracks left from its cutting-room floor — that set the tone for Costello's prolific career.
The first 14 seconds of pleasure in "Welcome To The Working Week"
In the first line of the first song of his first album, Costello came out swinging with a crafty musical and irreverent lyrical phrase that landed a stiff punch: "Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired/And you can have anyone that you have ever desired."
The dreamlike reverie album opening paints a crude picture of fame and privilege before jolting it all back into the blue-collar worker's harsh reality.
Just 14 seconds into "Welcome To The Working Week," Costello demonstrates the genius and snarl he's capable of: a gorgeous key-borrowing modulation (tossing in a "II major" chord for those theory types keeping score at home) under a sly, taboo lyrical reference turned into a snarl of "why, why, why, why."
Costello would incorporate these devices in many of his greatest songs throughout his career, from the delicately intricate "Almost Blue" to the venomous "20% Amnesia" and everywhere in between.
A dark take on tenderness in "Alison"
The lone ballad on an album known for its wound-up velocity, "Alison" has somewhat ironically become My Aim Is True's most enduring song.
In both construction and execution, "Alison" is as unsettling as it is graceful. The song provided a glimpse of Costello's harmonic touch, lucid vocal delivery and artistic range that teased a bevy of beautiful ballads to come, including "Shipbuilding, "Favourite Hour" and "I Want To Vanish," each with its own searing streak of darkness.
While "Alison" never charted for Costello, it did for Linda Ronstadt, who recorded a trifecta of Costello songs for her 1980 album, Mad Love, including "Girls Talk," "Party Girl" and "Talking In The Dark." Over the years, he's would also be covered by Aimee Mann, Johnny Cash, Fiona Apple, and his wife, Diana Krall, to name a few.
Calling Mr. Oswald on "Less Than Zero"
At 22 years old, Costello demonstrated a sharp social consciousness. "Less Than Zero" took on a former British fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, who had re-emerged in British media to try and clear his name. According to Costello, "The song was more of a slandering fantasy than a reasoned argument."
But the track's passion and anger were very real. "Less Than Zero" itself became a pawn in a different sort of protest match when Costello lashed out against the imposed constraints of corporate controlled broadcasting, stopping a performance of the song mid-verse on live TV in favor of a blistering version of another statement song, "Radio Radio." The stunt resulted in a ban from "Saturday Night Live," the show where the whole fiasco went down.
Sinister imagery and the genius of Steve Nieve on "Watching The Detectives"
Although not included in the original album release in the U.K., "Watching The Detectives" was added to the U.S. release of My Aim Is True. Producer Nick Lowe, an influential artist/songwriter in his own right, went with a different rhythm section for "… Detectives," calling upon the aptly named young classical keyboardist, Steve Nieve.
The signature organ parts and eerie sounds Nieve added to the song were tip of the iceberg to the dressing he lavished on subsequent Costello numbers such as "Shot With His Own Gun" and the mad and moody masterpiece, "I Want You."
In his GRAMMY-nominated 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Costello attributed the inspiration for "… Detectives" to a cinematic influence: the noir films based on Raymond Chandler stories, especially 1944's Double Indemnity.
"The shorthand of cinematic directions in 'Watching The Detectives' lyrics came pretty easily after memorizing all those films," Costello explains.
The country song that didn't make the album, but surfaced later
One of only three outtakes from the My Aim Is True sessions, "Stranger In the House" never had a chance at making the cut. According to the Costello-penned liner notes for the album's 1993 Rykodisc re-release, "The inclusion of a 'country song' was thought to be commercial suicide in 1977."
But the echoes of "Stranger …" refused to fade. Costello's country hero, George Jones, recorded a cover in 1979, on which Costello guested. Costello's version of the song appeared later on a 1980 B-sides collection, Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers.
Costello's knack for collaboration and genre dexterity have served him well throughout his career, as he recorded full albums with a variety of musicians and styles, including classically trained mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, R&B legend Allen Toussaint and songwriting mastermind Burt Bacharach. (Not to mention the fabled co-writing he did with Paul McCartney).