Alto saxophonist Med Flory, founder of the GRAMMY-winning jazz group Supersax, has died. A cause of death has not been disclosed. He was 87. Born in Logansport, Ind., in 1926 to a musician mother, Flory started playing in bands in New York in 1954. Two years later he moved to Los Angeles, becoming part of the West Coast’s cool jazz scene and playing with notables such as Art Pepper. In 1972 he formed the group Supersax with Buddy Clark and they won a GRAMMY for Best Jazz Performance By A Group in 1973 for Supersax Plays Bird. The group went on to release a number of albums through the '90s. Flory's acting career stretched from the '60s to the early '90s, with appearances on dozens of TV shows, including "Dallas" and "The Dukes Of Hazzard," as well as roles in films such as Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor. In 2008 his hometown of Logansport launched the Med Flory Jazz And Blues Festival, an annual festival celebrating Flory's artistic contributions to jazz and featuring performances by local jazz and blues artists.
Two decades ago this summer, the metal community got its own touring festival: Ozzfest.
Ozzy Osbourne, with the help of his wife and manager Sharon, launched the concept in 1996 with just two dates in Phoenix and San Bernardino, Calif. Then, in the summer of 1997, Osbourne and his traveling dark circus traipsed across the country with 14 bands in tow to offer fans the chance to see a full day of the heaviest bands around on two stages.
Of course, Ozzfest went on to more than 10 years of successful tours that showcased more commercially successful bands, and the festival landscape in general would grow to the juggernaut it is today, but there was something special about the early years of Ozzfest.
Arguably the most influential band to any one genre, Black Sabbath are to heavy music what Newton is to physics. The early lineups at Ozzfest read like a lineage of Sabbath's family tree. It's worth remembering that the landscape of mainstream radio changed in the summer of 1999 when Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit started getting airplay alongside Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, opening the door for heavier sounds on radio.
In the years that followed, more accessible Ozzfest bands such as Disturbed, Godsmack, and larger-than-life shock rockers Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie would burst through that door and onto the airwaves.
But just prior to that shift, metal fans in the mid-'90s were used to being ignored by the radio. The chance to see their hero Osbourne, both as a solo act and fronting a reunited Sabbath, shoulder-to-shoulder with anti-radio thrash monsters Slayer and Pantera, flanked by an army of the most brutal young bands on Earth such as Neurosis, Machine Head and Fear Factory was, well, a real f***ing treat.
As we look back on the genesis of Ozzfest and the role it played in the proliferation of heavy music, here are 15 metal albums from 1995 to 1998 that still have our ears ringing.
Fear Factory, Demanufacture (1995)
On their second album, Demanufacture, Fear Factory's sound exploded from its death metal roots into an industrial roar that shook Ozzfest's main stage during their early afternoon sets from 1996 to 1997. The Los Angeles band continued to evolve over the course of their tumultuous career, developing dystopian themes and experimenting with instrumentation, but Demanufacture remained many fans' favorite balance of concept, construction and intensity. Years later, Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell received a GRAMMY nod for his work with Ministry.
Machine Head, The More Things Change … (1997)
Bay Area bashers pinpointed power on The More Things Changed . … Less technical than their debut, Machine Head brought a raw aggression to the Ozzfest main stage in 1997. While only on the tour for one year, their influence in the genre never slowed. A decade later, the band was nominated for a Best Metal Performance GRAMMY for "Aesthetics Of Hate" from 2007's The Blackening.
Coal Chamber, Coal Chamber (1997)
An instant groove-oriented L.A. shock-rock classic, this debut album stuck to the ribs much better than most of the so-called nu metal spawned during this timeframe, largely due to the musical makeup of the band: Miguel "Meegs" Rascón's uber-creative guitar work, Rayna Foss' signature bass grooves and frontman Dez Fafara's unhinged vocals. Coal Chamber were a pillar of Ozzfest's second stage from '96–'98, and their debut album packaged the demented frenzy of their sound accurately.
Vision Of Disorder, Imprint (1998)
Few albums of this or any era are as relentless as Imprint. Produced by rock mainstay Dave Sardy (Incubus, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails) and heavily endorsed by Pantera's Phil Anselmo, who makes an appearance on "By The River," VOD vaulted from Long Island, N.Y., to Ozzfest's second stage in 1997. Imprint is pure, unadulterated aggression, punching out of the speakers like a heavy concentrate of undiluted force that still sounds grating, pained and eviscerating nearly 20 years later.
Neurosis, Through Silver In Blood (1996)
Neurosis found their true, monolithic sound on 1998's Times of Grace, but it was Through Silver In Blood guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till described as "a f***ing railroad through hell," to Rolling Stone in a 30-year retrospective piece. Especially in the mid-'90s, Neurosis were arguably the heaviest band on any bill, both conceptually and sonically. Ozzfest '96 and '97 marked the first times the band braved the sunlight to deliver their crushing, dynamic and brilliant live set.
Powerman 5000, Mega!! Kung Fu Radio (1997)
Early comers to Ozzfest '97 had the privilege of catching this quirky comic book metal outfit fronted by Zombie's younger brother, Spider One. PM5K was more than a novelty, and Mega!! Kung Fu Radio journeyed through funk, rap, rock, and psychedelia. The band went on to find more widespread success with soundtrack placements and even chart success, but as a nascent band with the opening main stage slot, they had something to prove about removing boundaries of creativity in heavy music, and they did.
Type O Negative, October Rust (1996)
Ethereal, dark and haunting, October Rust showed what an indie Goth band with a sense of humor is capable of. Massive, sludgy riffs under a canopy of church synths with the late Peter Steele's baritone calmly cutting through the gut, Type O Negative never sounded more at home in their own style than on October Rust. The band might have been too dreary for some Ozzfest goers, but their inclusion in the festival demonstrated the wide breadth that heavy music encompassed by the time they were slotted in on the main stage just before Pantera in 1997.
Earth Crisis, Gomorrah's Season Ends (1996)
Built on the foundation of hardcore edge, metal arrangements and environmentally conscious lyrics, this New York quintet's second album offered a surplus of discordant guitar melodies and ax-ground vocals, all delivered with devastating force. Earth Crisis would outdo themselves in 1998 album with Breed the Killers, but it was the raw edge of Gomorrah's Season Ends that shot them out of a cannon and onto the Ozzfest second stage in '96.
Hatebreed, Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire (1997)
Another east coast hardcore band to make it to the Ozzfest stage, Hatebreed were instrumental in blurring the lines between metal and hardcore punk. In true punk-rock form, Satisfaction … has 14 songs, all of them ballistic, and clocks in at just over 26 minutes. Their debut album put Hatebreed on a path that would lead to a long and influential career, including a GRAMMY nomination for Best Metal Performance for 2004 for their song "Live For This."
Sepultura, Roots (1996)
Roots marked a turning point, not only for Sepultura, but for the controversial shift in metal the album represented to some critics. The dense, claustrophobic rhythms of thrash metal inherited the rhythmic space created by early Sabbath without losing any intensity. But by 1996, the influence of new bands such as Korn, and later, Deftones, found its way into many traditional metal bands' sounds. For Sepultura, a Brazilian band led by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, the difference was the other influences that informed their sound. As a result, Roots blended equal influence from the evolving pulse of metal with their death metal origins and native Brazilian tribal culture.
(HED) p.e., (hed) p.e. (1997)
While most of the rap-rock of this era would be short-lived and formulaic, (HED) p.e.'s self-titled debut was arguably more aggressive and inventive than many of their contemporaries. The Southern California group joined Ozzfest's second stage in '99, eventually helming the main stage for the U.K. run in 2001.
Sevendust, Sevendust (1997)
The Atlanta newcomers joined Ozzfest in '98 on the strength of their self-titled debut that wielded heavy groove riffs underneath frontman Lajon Witherspoon's effortless vocal ability to growl and soar. The fresh brand of heavy Sevendust brought to the table in the late '90s transcended rap-rock stereotypes to give way to a more electronic and melodic sound the band perfected on subsequent albums. Sevendust showed the promise and originality of the band that would go on to be nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance for "Thank You" from 2015's Kill The Flaw.
Downset., Do We Speak A Dead Language? (1996)
Formed in 1986, Downset. put in their share of time on the L.A. metal scene ahead of landing the headlining spot on the second stage of Ozzfest '97. Lyrical positivity and musical experimentation, mixed with a blend of blending hardcore and hip-hop elements, boldly underlined Downset. as a band with something to say. This urgency is especially palpable on Do We Speak A Dead Language?, which marked a high point in the band's career.
Biohazard, Mata Leão (1996)
Brooklyn, N.Y., hardcore pioneers were also nearly 10 years into their career when they landed on the Ozzfest main stage in '96 on the heels of Mata Leão, their fourth album. Biohazard looked and sounded like a no-nonsense hardcore band, but they were also ahead of the curve with infusing hip-hop into a raw, street metal aesthetic that achieved new peaks of grinding musical gears and in-your-face vocals.
Pantera, The Great Southern Trendkill (1996)
Simply put, Pantera were the kings of this scene. The now-legendary quartet took their fitting throne as the penultimate act on the Ozzfest stage before the host himself appeared. By the time … Trendkill was released in 1996, word had gotten out about Pantera's unmatched live show, led by late guitar virtuoso Dimebag Darrell's riff arsenal. Pantera earned four GRAMMY nominations in their career, but perhaps more importantly, they also embodied Ozzfest's underground movement in the early years, proving a band could succeed without support of mainstream radio and only marginal exposure on MTV. For many fans, Pantera was the band that drew them to Ozzfest in the first place in '97 and again in 2000, opening doors for other bands on mainstream's fringe to find an audience.
The period from 2001–2011 saw an unexpected music revival sweep through New York City. Spurred on by world-changing events — the attacks on Sept. 11 and the 2008 global financial crisis chief atop the list — and the continuing shift toward a more connected digital world that left many feeling more isolated than ever, this musical resurgence spoke to some of us in ways the previous generation of music could not.
Equal parts earnest, pained and faux-ironically disaffected, the crop of New York rockers that came up during the decade of nothing were a breath of fresh air for music fans who couldn't find a home among the bubblegum feel and plastic sheen of the pop sounds of the preceding years.
Journalist/author Lizzy Goodman has taken the initiative to capture the forgotten energy and wasted 3 a.m. moments of that decade, collecting more than 200 original interviews with the members of the bands that lived at the forefront of the culture war that helped craft their hits.
Her book, Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock And Roll In New York City 2001–2011, compiles interviews and commentary from James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), Julian Casablancas (the Strokes), Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend), among others, with additional perspective from A&R reps and label executives who helped shepherd their careers through these definitive years.
The book comes was released May 23 during a special signing ceremony at Strand Bookstore in NYC with Goodman, Murphy, Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and music journalist/author Rob Sheffield in attendance.
"I am much more accustomed to giving awards to others … I am beyond humbled to be receiving this award today," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow at the outset of his address to the roughly 7,000 attendees present to witness the commencement ceremony for the Berklee College of Music graduating class of 2017. Portnow was in attendance to receive the honorary degree of doctor of music from college president Roger H. Brown for his "enduring contributions to American and International culture."
Along with the approximately 1,000 undergraduates who received their degrees on May 13, Portnow was in good company. Sharing in this year's symbolic doctorate honors with him were 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year Lionel Richie, GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams, acclaimed producer/songwriter Todd Rundgren, and South Korean psychedelic guitarist Shin Joong Hyun.
Each recipient spoke of the deeply personal connections that drew them to a career in music, and all five exhorted the assembled graduates to hold fast to the emotive power of their chosen profession.
"The most important thing you can take advantage of in the world of music is to see yourself … music [means] to me self-exploration more than anything else. I encourage everyone here to be brave in that respect, to be fearless in that respect," encouraged Rundgren. Referencing the previous evening's commencement concert, Richie commented, "I wish Michael Jackson would have been with me to share that moment, because what I saw on your faces was the enthusiasm, the passion, the drive, the love, the dreams."
In the closing remarks of his speech, Portnow offered, "If you follow your dreams and keep an open mind on how to achieve them, anything is possible." He then reminded the young graduates that Berklee is the proud alma mater of 275 GRAMMY and 88 Latin GRAMMY Award recipients, "and more [are] surely to come from some of you folks."
Chris Cornell, best known as the powerful-voiced lead singer for Soundgarden, died following a tour stop in Detroit on May 17. According to multiple news reports, Cornell died by suicide. He was 52 years old.
Along with Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden defined the Seattle alternative rock sound. The Seattle native Cornell formed Soundgarden in the Emerald City in 1984. They released their debut album, Ultramega OK, in 1988, followed by Louder Than Love, in 1989.
In 1991, just as the Seattle scene was enveloping the mainstream, Cornell joined with Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, among others, in Temple Of The Dog. Their self-titled album, which spawned radio staples such as "Hunger Strike" and "Say Hello To Heaven," is heralded as an alt-rock classic.
Soundgarden hit their stride in 1994 with their No. 1 hit album Superunknown. The blockbuster album spawned Soundgarden's first two career GRAMMY wins: Best Hard Rock Performance for "Black Hole Sun" and Best Metal Performance for "Spoonman."
Their follow-up, 1996's Down On The Upside, charted at No. 2 and was certified platinum by the RIAA. Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 but regrouped in 2010. Since then, Cornell has been touring regularly with the band, including tour dates as recent as a stop in Detroit on May 17.
In 2001 Cornell fronted the alt-rock supergroup Audioslave, along with Rage Against The Machine members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk. The group released three albums, including 2003's Audioslave, which earned the group one of their three GRAMMY nominations.
Cornell also released five solo albums, including the Top 20 albums Euphoria Morning (1999), Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), and mostly recently, Higher Truth (2015). Among his 14 GRAMMY nominations, Cornell earned a 1999 solo GRAMMY nomination for the track "Can't Change Me" for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. The multitalented singer/songwriter also penned the GRAMMY-nominated track "You Know My Name" for the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale.
A recovering addict, Cornell was honored with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award in 2007 at the 3rd annual MusiCares MAP Fund event in recognition for his dedication and support of the MusiCares MAP Fund and his devotion to helping other addicts with the recovery process.
"Chris Cornell was one of the influential originators of the 1990s Seattle grunge scene," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Chris' dynamic stage presence and impressive vocal range made him a true rock-and-roll icon. … Chris' extraordinary talent will forever live on and inspire fellow musicians and fans worldwide."