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Chuck Berry, rock and roll guitar pioneer, dies
Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient who influenced generations of musicians dead at age 90
Chuck Berry, a legendary figure in American popular music, died March 18 at age 90. Berry was found unresponsive at his home in St. Charles County, Mo., by police responding to a medical emergency.
A guitarist who influenced artists as disparate as the Beatles, David Bowie, Keith Richards, John Mayer, and Emmylou Harris, Berry was a veritable pioneer of rock and roll. His distinct guitar style — loosely known as the Chuck Berry style — fused elements of blues, boogie-woogie and R&B. Spanning lightning lead lines and infectious rhythms, Berry formed a template of guitar playing that generations of guitarists emulated. He was also known for his songwriting, distinctive singing voice and flamboyant showmanship onstage.
Comprising studio albums, compilations and live recordings, Berry's discography spans nearly 60 years. His debut album, 1957's After School Session, was released via Chess Records, a renowned label home to other notable guitarists such as Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy. According to Berry's official website, Chuck, his first new studio album in nearly four decades, is scheduled for release in 2017.
A variety of artists covered or reworked Berry's recordings, providing a testament to his impact. The Beatles covered "Roll Over Beethoven" on their second British studio album, 1963's With The Beatles. The Beach Boys' 1963 classic "Surfin' USA" incorporated the melody of Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen." Released on the B-side of his 1973 single "Drive-In Saturday," Bowie reinterpreted Berry's "Around And Around." The Rolling Stones covered multiple Berry tunes, including their debut single, "Come On." Jimi Hendrix, Buck Owens and Judas Priest were among the artists to cover "Johnny B. Goode."
Widely considered Berry's most popular hit, "Johnny B. Goode" formed the basis of one of the most iconic scenes from 1985's Back To The Future. (Though Michael J. Fox's character, Marty McFly, energetically plays the guitar in the film, the parts were recorded by studio guitarist Tim May.) In 1977 the song was featured on NASA's "Golden Record" collection, a compilation of songs and other media included with the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
Berry, who ranked No. 7 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time list, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy in 1984. Three of his classic recordings have been inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame: "Maybellene" (inducted 1988), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1990) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1999).
"Chuck Berry was arguably the founding father of rock and roll," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Not just because he was one of its greatest songwriters and established some of the electric guitar's earliest and most memorable riffs, but also because he was one of music's most palpably exciting entertainers and biggest personalities."
Universal language: Why humans need music
Learn why music is truly a common language that is key to human development and evolution
There's no doubt music finds a way into nearly every moment of our daily lives, whether it's marking milestones such as a first dance at a wedding, the soundtrack to our favorite movie or singing in the shower for fun. In fact, it's hard to imagine times when we are more than an ear-length away from hearing another song.
But why does music mean so much to us? A powerful form of communication that transcends all barriers — music is our common language, but why?
A composer and educator with a lifelong fascination for music, Adam Ockelford has traced our connection with music back to infants and caregivers. Infants are unable to follow words, but they are developmentally primed to trace patterns in sound, such as through the songs a caretaker sings to them. Therefore, understanding music is intuitive for humans, even at a very young age, and it encourages healthy development.
In addition, there may be another evolutionary purpose for music. Music provides a sense of sameness between humans — if you can copy the sounds someone else makes, you must be an ally. This synergy plays a role in human survival because it evokes empathy and understanding, a lesson we still learn from music in today's culture.
"Music is central to the notion of what it is to be human, and spans cultures, continents and centuries," writes Ockelford. "My music, your music, our music can bind us together as families, as tribes and as societies in a way that nothing else can."
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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.
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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes
GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program
On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.
Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.
"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."
The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.
"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."
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Mixcloud Signs Warner Music For Subscriptions Remix
There is more to the Mixcloud difference than just electronic dance music, and now the listening service has signed its first major label deal
Among the 1 million curators who have helped build British-based listening service Mixcloud into a destination visited by 17 million listeners each month are GRAMMY winners Erykah Badu, David Byrne, and Tiësto. Limited to streaming-only since its founding in 2008, Mixcloud announced a direct licensing agreement with Warner Music Group this morning, opening the door to offering downloads and new kinds of subscriptions.
Perhaps the standout statistic that describes the Mixcloud difference is that the average length of its user-uploaded programs is 45 minutes. Within the service's general emphasis on DJing, EDM and remix culture, the tendency to drill down and explore narrower listening topics in depth distinguishes the service from competitors such as Spotify or SoundCloud.
Warner Music Group Executive VP for Business Development & Chief Digital Officer Ole Obermann said, "Mixcloud's success is driven by the curiosity and passion of its community, as they engage with new music and rediscover timeless older songs."
Being able to listen to downloads offline seems a natural follow-up to direct licensing deals, but the service hints there's more in store. Mixcloud still hopes to sign indies and the other majors, as its fans have speculated. And with its own proprietary Content ID in place and established relationships with royalty collecting societies, the company has the tech infrastructure to explore new monetization strategies, paying artists and curators in new ways. Launching a new business model for its upcoming approach to paid content and subscriptions is a remix many are anticipating. Not knowing what to expect is part of the excitement.