Death Bands

The recent passing of Ginger Baker, the brilliant drummer for Cream and Blind Faith, made me think that, if there’s a rock ‘n roll afterlife, somebody’s band just had a great addition to its rhythm section.  And that thought, in turn, made me think:  okay, this is morbid and probably insensitive to boot, but if you were to assemble a dream band out of dead rockers, who would be the members?

depositphotos_5334627-stock-photo-rock-n-roll-is-deadThis isn’t a novel concept.  Back in the ’70s the Righteous Brothers recorded a song about dead musicians called Rock and Roll Heaven that had artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bobby Darin, and Jim Croce putting on a big show in the Great Beyond.  (And now that I’ve mentioned the song, those of us old enough to remember it will have a hard time getting it out of our heads.)  But there’s a big difference between putting on a single show featuring disparate artists and assembling a functioning band.  You’ve got to factor in styles, for example.  How would Jim Morrison mesh with, say, Kurt Cobain?

I think I’d go with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Chuck Berry on guitars, with Ginger Baker on drums and John Entwistle of the Who on bass, for a band that could really play some classic, old school early rock ‘n roll.  But you also have to wonder about what kind of interesting music could be produced if you put together combinations like Hendrix, Morrison, and Keith Moon of the Who, or Elvis Presley, Cobain, Glenn Frey, John Bonham, and Clarence Clemons, or Prince, Leon Russell, and David Bowie.  With more and more old rockers passing on with each new year, unfortunately, there’s a lot of choices.

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The Rocket 88s

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Last night it was back to Phoenix’s Rhythm Room to try catch some of its more traditional blues offerings — and we struck gold, because the Rocket 88s were playing.

Of course, any true R&B fan know that Rocket 88, recorded in 1951 by Jackie Brenton and his Delta Cats, is considered by many experts to be the first rock and roll record. Last night the Rocket 88s were true to their illustrious name, playing a kick-ass mixture of early rock and roll and R&B that got many people (myself included) out on the dance floor and boogeying. We knew they were going to be great from the first notes, but they really blew the doors off.

Why would a Columbus, Ohio guy write about a Phoenix band that he’ll (unfortunately) probably never get to see again? Because local music is important and should be supported, whether the locality is Columbus or Phoenix or New Orleans. And if a hard-working band gives you a great evening they deserve a shout-out even if no one reads it. The Rocket 88s were really good and earned the kudos. I bought one of their CDs, too.

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