WILD MAN: First generation garage rock greats the SHADOWS OF KNIGHT have released an all new single, Wild Man. Composed by lead vocalist Jim Sohns and new rhythm guitarist Michael Weber (who produced the studio sessions and video), Wild Man also features original Shadows Of Knight rhythm guitarist Jerry McGeorge. The single dropped on 27 May. Blitz Magazine Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell has the story in the Bits And Pieces column.   (Click on the Bits And Pieces link under the Previous Posts heading at right for the full story). (Click on the above image to enlarge).

SINCE 1975 -

Welcome to the official web site for Blitz, The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. Since 1975, Blitz has been the leading voice for the discerning music enthusiast. Blitz Magazine was also one of the first magazines of its kind to embrace the internet, having also been online since January 1996.

Here you will find news and updates about all of the key artists essential to the growth and development of rock and roll music and related genres, including rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and easy listening. For highlights from recent past editions of the Bits And Pieces and Shape Of Things To Come columns, click on the archival postings on the right hand side of this page. Be sure and check back frequently for regular updates.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at

Michael McDowell
Blitz Magazine
Since 1975 - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

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Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People


Follow the fascinating and unfolding tale (through her favorite music) of the life and times of Blitz Magazine's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell, as told by her husband, Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. A Facebook exclusive! "Like" us on Facebook at Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People, and watch for further installments.


SHADOWS OF KNIGHT co-founders Jim Sohns (lead vocals) and Jerry McGeorge (rhythm guitar) have joined forces with new lead guitarist Michael Weber for the 27 May release of their brand new single, Wild Man.

In a free-standing article, DEBBIE GIBSON tackles the pandemic head on with an upbeat take on her recent Girls Night Out, creating in the process yet another instant classic, Girls Night In.

The suddent and tragic passing of PRETTY THINGS front man PHIL MAY on 15 May following hip surgery brought to a close one of the most enduring and influential careers in all of music. We revisit the band's unique legacy in detail.

The cover of his classic Cadillac Walk by Jay Willie And James Montgomery had just put him back in the spotlight this year. We remember long time Capitol recording artist and composer MOON MARTIN, who passed away suddenly on 11 May.

Few individuals shaped the direction of rock and roll as decisively as did composer, vocalist, pianist and Macon, Georgia native Richard Wayne "LITTLE RICHARD" Penniaman. Michael McDowell salutes this beloved visionary, who succumbed to a protracted battle against bone cancer on 09 May. 

In a free standing article, we bid farewell to beloved WKNR Keener 13 veteran and host of the groundbreaking Swingin' Time television series, ROBIN SEYMOUR. Click on the Robin Seymour Memorial Tribute link under the Previous Posts heading at right for the full story.

Inspired by the late Staff Sergeant Barry Salder's 1966 RCA Victor label signature single, The Ballad Of The Green Berets, UNRELATED SEGMENTS bassist and co-founder BARRY VAN ENGELEN is among the latest vetreran musicians to weigh in with words of encouragement for those on the front lines in the battle againt the virus pandemic.

His remarkable acumen as a composer (Fever) was matched (if not surpassed) by his work for Royal Roost Records as a vocalist, resulting in the 1956 monster classic single, Priscilla with the Dimples. Remembering the great EDDIE COOLEY, who passed away on 15 April.

Composer, vocalist, one time Wes Dakus And The Rebels guitarist and Edmonton, Alberta native BARRY ALLEN lost his protracted battle with cancer on 04 April. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell remembers the psych/rock single that made Allen one of the genre's most beloved statesmen.

In a free standing article (see Previous Posts column at right), the beloved Tokyo-based veteran trio PERFUME were among the first artists to address the current virus pandemic musically with the 26 Marrch release of their new video, Challenger.

The Hollywood, California outlet of the gargantuan AMOEBA RECORDS chain has confirmed a new location for its Fall 2020 move.


A fixture on the Southern California club circuit during the 1980s, the unique stylings of PHAST PHREDDIE AND THEE PRECISIONS are celebrated in Manifesto Records' comprehensive two-CD collection, Limbo.

The Los Angeles-based Org Music label has at last once again made available the highlights of the catalog by the legendary Vallejo, California sextet, the VISCAYNES in their acclaimed new vinyl compilation, The Viscaynes And Friends.

The 7a label continues its impressive series of the finest Monkees-related releases with Cosmic Partners, the landmark 1973 live concert at McCabe's Guitar Shop by MICHAEL NESMITH AND RED RHODES.

Blixa Sounds has once again made available in the LP and CD configurations Mesh & Lace and After The Snow, the debut albums by MODERN ENGLISH.

The Stoney Plain label has made available The Lost Tapes, a 2 CD collection of heretofore live recordings from the early 1970s by folk rock pioneers IAN AND SYLVIA, with guest appearances by the great LUCILLE STARR.

Ash Wells' Teensville label has produced a pair of extraordinary Various Artists collections in recent months, including the acclaimed Early Morning Sun and Lazy Day.


Composer, vocalist and Baltimore, Maryland native TOM SLESS sings the praises of Los Angeles better than most in his all new Marina Vista album, California Dream.

Composer, vocalist and Juno Award-winner LAILA BIALI celebrates her triumph over a series of challenges with her latest Chronograph release, Out Of Dust.

Vizztone Records CEO Richard Rosenblatt holds his own with his extensive artist roster as harmonicist and co-founder of the ELEVEN GUYS QUARTET in Small Blues And Grooves, their years in the making latest release for the Southern California-based label.



GIRLS NIGHT IN: Beloved five-tool player (composer, vocalist, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist) Deborah Ann "Debbie" Gibson has once again raised the bar with the 15 May release of the answer song to her recent instant classic, Girls Night Out. The resultant Girls Night In offers a unique and engaging reaction to the ongoing pandemic crisis from a relatively upbeat perspective.  Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a closer look at this unique example of thinking outside of the box below.  (Click on above image to enlarge).

By Michael McDowell

Jim Reeves mandated that He'll Have To Go. Jeanne Black countered with He'll Have To Stay. Claude King tried in vain to climb Wolverton Mountain. Jo Ann Campbell beckoned to him with (I'm The Girl From) Wolverton Mountain. Herman's Hermits serenaded Mrs. Brown's lovely daughter. The late Kenny Young fled from Mrs. Green's Ugly Daughter.

The so-called answer song has long provided both amusement and continuum for a given acclaimed musical work. But with rare exception, such answer songs to date have almost invariably come from other artists. 

In those cases, the artists either addressed and elaborated upon the subject matter at hand (as noted in the aforementioned examples) or confronted it. Witness the Spokesmen's The Dawn Of Correction in relation to Barry McGuire's Eve Of Destruction, or Jan Berry's The Universal Coward as it counter-punches Donovan Leitch's The Universal Soldier.

The latter examples were borne of ongoing acrimony, which was prevalent in society at large at the time of their creation. To be certain, with the ongoing pandemic at hand, we in turn are facing a level of societal upheaval and unrest heretofore not seen in our lifetimes.

In such cases, even the slightest word or inference has been known to escalate tensions. Sadly, humor and optimism remain at a premium when most are on the defensive. 

But once in a great while, in terms of the answer song, humor has been known to at least provide moments of respite, if not long term solutions. To wit, Bob Seger's early outing as the Beach Bums in his The Ballad Of The Yellow Berets, which managed to generate at least a bit of uneasy laughter on both sides in response to Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler's The Ballad Of The Green Berets during the height of the Vietnam war.

However, none of the aforementioned examples were initially released into a society in which exchanges of information via social media was the order of the day. With the power of communications now in the hands of the rank and file, emotional free for alls often ensue in various posts in response to any perceived slight and/or difference in perspective. 

It is in times such as these that a bit of optimism provides welcome relief. But given the circumstances, any artist endeavoring to do so would nonetheless do well to tread lightly. Relentless optimism would most assuredly be a prerequisite in such attempts. 

Moreover, a bit of self-depreciation would be in order to provide a buffer against possible retribution. Indeed, an astute artist who kept such guidelines in mind could provide a musical rallying cry that could well unite divided factions and inspire tangible solutions, possibly diffusing any existing caustic rhetoric in the process. 

Enter music's most beloved five-tool player (composer, vocalist, producer, multi-instrumentalist and arranger), Deborah Ann "Debbie" Gibson. With the 15 May release of Girls Night In, Gibson has done just that.

While her most recent creations have been all over the map musically (from an inspired take on A Cockeyed Optimist from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific to her sublime original piano instrumental, French Carousel), Gibson earlier this year enjoyed tremendous acclaim for her celebratory Girls Night Out single, which is presently generating considerable enthusiasm in the UK. 

Moreover, Gibson is no stranger to the answer song. At the onset of the pandemic just weeks ago, she revisited her 1987 Atlantic label Shake Your Love single with a benediction to Wash Your Hands

In turn, Girls Night In provides a light hearted response to the ongoing societal shutdown by making the most of a trying situation. Whereas Girls Night Out found Gibson in fantasy mode, wandering triumphantly from scene to scene in a Las Vegas nightclub (only to wake up in bed with a reality check), Girls Night In borrows from a few of Gibson's recent social media posts and finds her at home, dealing humorously with such challenges as cleaning, Netflix binging, home recording, reaching out to friends online, and releasing pent up emotions on the punching bag in her home gym, with nods to her long time choreographer Buddy Casimano's acclaimed online at home workout program, as well as her three faithful yet beleaguered dogs, Joey, Trooper and Levi.

"Just suck it up, don't muck it up" Gibson cautions therein.

Not that Gibson is likely to fall prey to her own caveats. Astute to the point of being nearly impossible to second guess, she remains a visionary with few equals.

Moreover, Gibson is among the very few artists who are savvy enough to create their own answer song and make it a free standing statement in its own right. As always, she draws largely from personal experience to underscore the various points, with occasional exceptions.

"I don't drink gin", Gibson reassured, in reference to a particular couplet found at mid-point in the proceedings.

"I'm up at 5:00AM and in bed by 8:00PM. So it's more like a day in the life".

A life that continues to create, motivate and inspire at a level that raises the bar with each new contribution. And as Blitz Magazine has responded with increasing regularity in recent months, job well done, Deborah Ann.

(Here is a link to the video clip of Girls Night In ).


SWINGIN' TIME: Few individuals have had as enormous of an impact on the growth and development of rock and roll music as did WKNR Keener 13 veteran and long time host of the Windsor, Ontario-based Swingin' Time television series, Robin Seymour. The beloved legend and visionary (seen above at left with the late rock and roll giant Jack Scott at the Great Radio Reunion in Novi, Michigan in September 2019, in what would ironically be the final public appearance for both) tragically passed away suddenly in his San Antonio, Texas home on 17 April. Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell discusses the enormous impact of Seymour and his colleagues on the mission statement of Blitz Magazine, as well as the world of music overall. Photo by Mike Jackson. (Click on the above image to enlarge).

By Michael McDowell
"This will definitely be the last of its kind. There will never be another like it".

So said WXYZ-AM alumnus, recording artist, author and promoter Lee Alan in 2019, in anticipation of his highly acclaimed Great Radio Reunion, which was held in Novi, Michigan on the fourteenth of September that year. On hand for this monumental event were a number of beloved musical pioneers, including the Reflections, Jack Scott, Gino Washington, Rationals co-founder Scott Morgan, Frijid Pink drummer Rick Stevers, Impact Records producer (and one time TV personality Bozo The Clown) Art Cervi, and former Detroit Tigers ace (and hero of the 1968 World Series) Dennis Dale "Denny" McLain, who also recorded two acclaimed instrumental albums for Capitol in 1968-1969 and went on to a successful career in talk radio.

Their numbers were matched in the broadcast industry by the presence of not only Lee Alan and Joey Reynolds from WXYZ, but CKLW vets Charlie O'Brien, Jojo Shutty-MacGregor, Johnny Williams and Program Director Bill Hennes. Also on board were several of the legendary WKNR Keener 13's beloved Keener Key Men Of Music: Bob Green, Jerry Goodwin, Paul Cannon, Dick Purtan, news anchor Erik Smith and latter day Keener great Pat Saint John.

But the guest of honor that evening was another WKNR alumnus, who is rivaled perhaps only by Alan Freed and Dick Clark for having done more to discover, nurture, champion and sustain the cream of the crop in terms of artists. That man was the beloved Detroit, Michigan native, Robin Henry Seymour. 

A veteran of WKNR's predecessor, WKMH 1310, Seymour was among those selected in 1970 to recreate their classic radio broadcasts for the Increase label's Cruisin' series of record albums. Seymour is featured in the 1956 instalment of the series, which includes classic commercials from the Faygo Beverage Company, as well as his radio program's theme song, Bobbin' With The Robin by the Four Lads.

When WKMH switched call letters and formats to WKNR Keener 13 on 31 October 1963, Seymour was one of only two on air personalities asked to remain on board during the transition. The other was the great Jim Beasley under his radio alias, Jim Sanders. Most ironically, Sanders would not only have the daunting task (in tandem with station newscaster Bill Bonds) of breaking the news of President John F. Kennedy's assassination a few weeks later, but in not anticipating his being retained by the station, Sanders had negotiated for a new position with a Wisconsin-based AM station, to begin in 1964.

Matters were exacerbated to no small degree in the early weeks of 1964 with the unexpected on air meltdown and resignation of morning man Mort Crowley, who left in exasperation after a well publicized on air battle with the telephone company. All of which not only made WKNR's unprecedented and unparalleled rise to the top in less than three months all the more remarkable.

That once in a lifetime success was due in no small part to the vision of in house genius Bob Green, whose so-called "intelligent flexibility" format called for a basic format stretched to the limit by strong personalities that were as much a part of the continuum as were the commercials and the music. By the early weeks of 1964, WKNR had moved full steam ahead in that respect with an all star on air staff that included the late, great Frank "Swingin' " Sweeney, Jerry Goodwin, Bob Green, Gary Stevens, Bill Phillips, Paul Cannon and of course Robin Seymour. 

All went well in that respect throughout that most crucial year of 1964 and into the early weeks of 1965. Music was at its absolute pinnacle in terms of creativity, and there literally was no better vehicle for its celebration and betterment than was WKNR Keener 13. But in back to back short order, Swingin' Sweeney was gone, and Gary Stevens had been recruited by the WMCA Good Guys in New York City. Bill Phillips had also left for a position with a small station in nearby Garden City.

In turn, Robin Seymour had been approached by CKLW Channel 9 television on Riverside Drive in neighboring Windsor, Ontario to host a daily, hour long variety show featuring the absolute best in both live and recorded music. With a basic format not unlike that which was already in place on Shindig, Hullaballoo and Where The Action Is, the relentlessly upbeat, optimistic and energetic Seymour was a perfect fit for the position.

In short order, Swingin' Time became the absolute standard of excellence in the genre, as well as THE go-to show for aspiring and established artists alike. A partial list of artists who either got their first television exposure via Swingin' Time or those who were well established at that point is literally without equal in music history. They include not only pretty much the entire roster of the Motown, Tamla, Gordy and Soul family of labels, but such beloved greats as Richard And The Young Lions, Bob Seger And The Last Heard, Terry Knight And The Pack, the Rationals, the Unrelated Segments, the Wanted, the Tidal Waves, Kris Petersen, Spyder Turner, the Woolies, the Human Beings, the Young Men, Darrell Banks, the Cyrkle, Gino Washington, Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs, the Royal Guardsmen, Keith, J.J. Jackson, Jamie Coe, Question Mark And The Mysterians, the Lazy Eggs, Lonette McKee, the Cherry Slush, Johnny Tillotson, Frijid Pink, Paul Revere And The Raiders, the Magnificent Men, J.J. Barnes, Tony Clarke, the Wonderettes, the Spike Drivers, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, the Bossmen, Tom And Jerry O, Inez and Charlie Foxx, Tim Tam And The Turn-Ons, the Royal Coachmen, Wayne Cochran, the Capreez, Tony And Tyrone, Johnny Rivers, the Free, the Talismen, the Underdogs, Cody Black, the Mothers Of Invention, Conny Van Dyke, the Amboy Dukes, Dionne Warwick, the Shades Of Blue, James Brown, Ronnie And Robyn, Edwin Starr, Al Kent, the Fantastic Four, the Reflections, the Parliaments, Silky Hargraves, Jimmy Holland, Tino And The Revlons, Herman's Hermits, Teresa Lindsey and Twinn Connexion, to name but a few.

In the final months of the series' run, fellow CKLW great and Rockin' Rebels / Buena Vistas producer Tom Shannon succeeded Seymour in the host role. Seymour went on to a lengthy and prolific career in video production in Los Angeles and Phoenix, finally settling in Texas. 

At the time of the Great Radio Reunion in 2019, Seymour had just completed his highly anticipated autobiography, The DJ That Launched A Thousand Hits. In addition to being the event's featured speaker, he also autographed copies of his book, which sold out that evening in short order.

Among the first to arrive that afternoon were Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell and Michigan Music History CEO Mike Jackson. Directly behind them was Frijid Pink drummer and co-founder, Rick Stevers, who was on hand to promote the veteran band's latest album, On The Edge. After a few pleasant exchanges, what transpired next remains a fitting testimony to Seymour's legacy.

Moments later, Seymour walked through the entrance with his daughter. Instantly, all eyes turned towards him. Stevers was duly moved.

"We were on his show", he said

"But I'm not sure if he'd remember me".

"Why don't you go ask him and find out?", Jackson encouraged.

With that, Stevers walked over to Robin Seymour and, with slight apprehension, asked, "Do you remember me?"

"Frijid Pink!", Seymour proclaimed with considerable delight, as the two embraced like long lost brothers.

What followed later that evening was not only a highlight of the proceedings, but a moving and deeply personal experience that was not only a comedy of errors, but what has also gone on to become one of the absolute highlights of decades of publishing Blitz Magazine.

In the middle of his lengthy and captivating discourse before an audience that numbered in the hundreds, Seymour mentioned beloved rock and roll pioneer, vocalist, composer, visionary and Windsor, Ontario native Jack Scott, who was watching the proceedings from the rear of the auditorium with Denny McLain. 

Seymour had made reference to Scott's classic 1958 Carlton label ballad single, My True Love. On the flip side of that single was an original rockabilly raver, Leroy, which was a re-recording of an earlier track entitled Greaseball.

Pointing out that WKMH was initially not amenable to airing that decidedly rocking  flip side, Seymour sought clarification from onlookers by asking, "What was the name of that B-side?"

"Leroy", responded Blitz Magazine's Michael McDowell. Scott's extensive catalog for the ABC Paramount, Carlton, Top Rank, Groove, Dot and Capitol labels have been long time staples of Blitz's recorded archives. 

"Leroy? No, I don't think that was it", said Seymour.

"Let's get Jack Scott up here. He'll know".

With that, Seymour summoned Scott to center stage from his vantage point at the back of the room. Scott quickly bounded up the aisle and joined Seymour in a matter of seconds. As was the case earlier with Rick Stevers, Seymour and Scott embraced like long lost brothers.

"What was the flip side of My True Love?", Seymour asked the artist. Scott paused briefly to grin in Blitz Magazine's direction before responding. 

"Leroy", Scott deadpanned, as the two went on to a lighthearted exchange that met with a considerable roar of approval from the audience. 

Following the event, Seymour called upon the services of broadcast veteran and film maker Kevin Willett to record a brief video, in which Seymour expressed his joy and gratitude for the outpouring of love and adoration afforded him at the reunion. Despite Lee Alan's cautionary remarks, Seymour was nonetheless looking forward to subsequent such gatherings.

But most tragically and ironically, Lee Alan was right. 

For most of his life, Jack Scott maintained a strict regimen of diet and rigorous exercise. However, that moment at the Great Radio Reunion turned out to be his final public appearance. Despite a regular schedule of live performances that found him in continued peak condition as an artist, Scott within three months of that Novi reunion passed away suddenly at the age of 83.

In turn, CKLW great Johnny Williams (who as Tom D'Angelo composed and produced the December 1965 monster classic Palmer label single, Wait A Minute for Tim Tam And The Turn-Ons) also passed away this week at age 72. A resident of the Detroit suburb of Allen Park in recent years, the genial, charismatic and immensely popular Williams was a regular at the annual CKLW reunions held in Southeastern Michigan. Williams' sudden passing was made even more ironic and heart rending by the death that same day of one time CKLW board op Tom Ryan. 

But nothing could have cushioned the shock that came in during the afternoon of 17 April.

Blitz Magazine was in an extended dialogue with CKLW alumnus and current Michigan Music History historian and news director Ric Allen, when the course of the conversation changed abruptly.

"I'm just hearing that Robin Seymour passed away", he said.

Sadly, a quick verification of sources proved that most devastating news to be true. Seymour had died suddenly at his San Antonio, Texas home.

Within minutes, tributes began pouring in from colleagues, musicians and fans alike. Without exception, the consensus was that the world of music had suffered one of its most enormous losses ever. Selfless, charismatic, upbeat and accommodating almost to a fault, Robin Seymour was one of those who was most directly responsible for the most Swingin' Time in music history.

"Rest in peace, dear friend", said Jerry Goodwin, whose post-WKNR activities include a flourishing career in theatre and film.

"How we shall laugh at the trouble parting makes when we meet again".

To be certain, Jerry Goodwin speaks for all of us. Robin Seymour was 94.



EMOTIONS: The tragic and unexpected passing on 15 May of beloved PRETTY THINGS front man PHIL MAY (pictured at center in the above 1965 group shot) following complications from hip surgery brought to an end one of the most extraordinary careers in not just first generation garage rock, but in all of music. Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell remembers May and the band's phenomenal story below. (Click on above image to enlarge).


It has been suggested to never send in a rookie to do a veteran's job.

This is not to say that an aspiring artist is bereft of merit. Quite the contrary. Many a new artist has come along throughout the years and managed to hit a home run with their first at bat in the recording studio.

Nonetheless, few musical experiences are more satisfying than to hear new material from seasoned greats who remain at the top of their art. And in one particular recent instance, it was a relative newcomer who played an integral part in bringing these veteran artists' latest musical vision to fruition.

Such is the case with first generation garage rock giants, the Shadows Of Knight. The Chicago-based band recorded two superb albums in 1966 for Atlantic's affiliate Dunwich label, Gloria and Back Door Men. Their mastery of the genre also served them well through a series of classic singles for the label, including Oh Yeah (and its utterly stupendous flip side, Light Bulb Blues), Bad Little Woman, I'm Gonna Make You Mine, and their early 1966 signature single, their sublime and definitive version of the monster classic, Gloria.

Following his successful run with the Shadows Of Knight, rhythm guitarist Jerry McGeorge went on to spend a season with H.P. Lovecraft during the latter band's tenure with Mercury's affiliate Philips label. Meanwhile, lead vocalist Jim Sohns continued to front various incarnations of the Shadows Of Knight through a series of acclaimed singles for the Team, Atco and Super K labels. Sadly, original Shadows Of Knight lead guitarist Joe Kelley is deceased, having succumbed to lung cancer in September 2013.

Happily, band co-founders McGeorge and Sohns have returned to the studio with new lead guitarist, Michael Weber to record an all new single, Wild Man. Co-authored by Sohns and Weber, Wild Man marks Sohns' and McGeorge's first studio collaboration since 1967. 

For their current project, Weber is one relative rookie who definitely got the job done, having also contributed organ, bass and drums to the Wild Man sessions. The Wild Man video also features action shots of the original band during their heyday with Dunwich. It is hoped that a new album will follow shortly.


Although Harpers Bizarre did not get around to covering it until late 1967 on their second album for Warner Brothers, by 1964 it was already obvious that in terms of music, Cole Porter's 1934 composition, Anything Goes best represented the order of the day.

While its origins could be traced back to such monster classics as the Original Casuals' late 1957 I Love My Darling for Back Beat Records and the Bell Notes' 1959 I've Had It for the Time label, first generation garage rock was at last coming into its own in 1964. Inspired largely by their mutual passion for rhythm and blues, the leaders of the harder edge of the movement included the Dave Clark Five, the Yardbirds, and the Rolling Stones. They were followed in short order by such like minded visionaries as the Zephyrs, Masters Apprentices, the La De Das and the Chocolate Watchband. 

Joining them on center stage in the movement was the Sidcup, Kent quintet, the Pretty Things. Having developed their vision while attending art school in 1963, the ambitious group (which included mainstays Phil May on lead vocals and one-time Rolling Stones associate Dick Taylor on guitar, and joined at the time by John Stax, Brian Pendleton and the charismatic Viv Prince) signed with Fontana Records and made their debut in 1964 with the instant classic rave up single, Don't Bring Me Down.

Although mainstream acclaim proved to be elusive at the onset, the Pretty Things became heroes among the faithful. Their cause was furthered exponentially by the occasional television appearance, prompting a rapid succession of classic releases, including the influential Get The Picture, The Pretty Things and Emotions albums between 1965 - 1967. 

Throughout the decade, the Pretty Things not only underwent regular personnel changes, but nonetheless managed to stake their place in the burgeoning psychedelic movement in the process. Their experimental Electric Banana sessions set the stage for 1968's S.F. Sorrow and 1970's Parachute, both of which are regarded as being among the genre's definitive masterpieces.

While 1972's Freeway Madness (sans Dick Taylor and produced by band alumnus Wally Waller as Asa Jones) for Warner Brothers further set the stage by adding to the band's increasingly heightened profile, it was nonetheless their collaboration with Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label at mid-decade that at last brought the Pretty Things into the best of both worlds, and still without artistic compromise. 

Silk Torpedo was indeed the album that both culled and articulated the best of their ever changing artistic moods to date. Featuring the sublime single Dream Joey, the Silk Torpedo album arguably remains the Pretty Things' finest moment.

Although their recorded output remained relatively sparse for the remainder of the twentieth century, the Pretty Things continued to reassure the faithful with such acclaimed touchstones as 1999's superb Rage Before Beauty for Snapper Music, as well as a series of top notch live albums. 

The first decade of the twenty-first century saw the Pretty Things return to form with some of their best ever work. The highlight remains 2007's Balboa Island for the prolific Zoho label, which gave the band an additional anthem of sorts with the single, All Light Up.

Although the Pretty Things persevered well into the second decade of the twenty-first century, ill health had begun to take its toll on beleaguered front man Phil May. The band largely busied itself with live releases, as well as a comprehensive career-spanning box set, Bouquets From A Cloudy Sky. Their final studio release came in 2015 with The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now, Of Course....) for the vaunted Repertoire label.

The Pretty Things soldiered on until 2018, playing their final live performance in December of that year with May and Taylor, as well as guitarist Frank Holland, bassist George Woosey and drummer Jack Greenwood. And while Phil May did his best to counter his persistent health concerns through a well intended exercise regimen, he nonetheless had fallen from his bicycle earlier this week. Tragically, May passed away on the morning of 15 May in a Kings Lynn hospital, following complications from emergency hip surgery. 

To say that the Pretty Things' impact on their fellow musicians was significant would be an understatement. Artists from the aforementioned Rolling Stones to David Bowie, Pink Floyd and the Kinks have all acknowledged the band's ongoing inspiration. 

But perhaps the most enduring evidence of such impact is best borne out in San Diego musician Mike Stax, who founded the hugely successful Ugly Things magazine as a result. The band's complex history has been chronicled in painstaking detail in the magazine over the years, with Stax's affiliate Ugly Things label underscoring his commitment to the band via the release of The Pretty Things / Philippe DeBarge album of rarities on his affiliate Ugly Things label. 

"I am awash with a lifetime of memories", said Wally Waller in an online statement.

As are indeed the countless musicians and devotees whose musical experiences were forever changed for the better by the Pretty Things. May's survivors include his son, Paris May and his daughter, Sorrel May. He was 75.


"Doctor, doctor, gimme the news". 

A phrase tossed about with unnerving frequency in these uncertain times. But one that in 1979 put Batley, Yorkshire native Robert Palmer on center stage for Island Records in a big way.

The man behind that memorable single was composer, vocalist and Altus, Oklahoma native John David "Moon" Martin. So nicknamed because of his penchant for invoking the Moon in his memorable lyrics, Martin first commanded center stage in his own right in 1979 with his Capitol Records single, Rolene. Concurrently embraced by the discerning and demanding so-called New Wave movement, Martin also received considerable accolades for his work at the time in Blitz Magazine. 

Martin persevered with Capitol into the 1980s, with such noteworthy singles as No Chance, Signal For Help and Aces With You to his credit. As a composer, he provided label mates Mink DeVille with their own signature 45, Cadillac Walk.

Martin's ongoing influence was acknowledged in 2020 by Jay Willie and James Montgomery, who covered Cadillac Walk as the title track of their just released collaboration for Zoho Records. Sadly, Martin's return to the spotlight proved to be short lived, with his untimely passing on 11 May. Martin was 69.


In 1956, I had not yet acquired the discernment to turn to radio to discover great new music (and that in and of itself is somewhat ironic, considering that radio is about the last place to look for it these days). 

However, when a particular piece of music caught my attention, I was quick to embrace it. My Aunt Marie had a copy of a 78 on Art Rupe's Specialty label, Tutti Frutti, and played it incessantly. Curious, I asked my mother what Tutti Frutti meant. She replied, "It's a flavor of ice cream".

That was all it took. I was hooked. Later that year, I got a copy of that 78 of Tutti Frutti and several others as a birthday present from Aunt Marie. After that, there was no going back.

In the ensuing months, the artist behind that iconic single was hard to miss. Macon, Georgia native, composer, vocalist and keyboard man Richard Wayne "Little Richard" Penniman was an omnipresent figure in radio, television and film. From covers of such engaging fare as Billy Murray And The Haydn Quartet's By The Light Of The Silvery Moon and Jan Garber's Baby Face to such impossible to ignore originals as Long Tall Sally, She's Got It, Lucille, The Girl Can't Help It, Good Golly Miss Molly, She Knows How To Rock and True Fine Mama, Little Richard cut a wide path to center stage, which made him an instant and immeasurable influence upon countless musicians to come. 

However, those Specialty sides were not his initial forays into the recording studio. Penniman had recorded a pair of acclaimed singles for RCA Victor in 1951 and 1952, including the often covered Taxi Blues. Upon leaving Specialty following an epiphany, he signed with George Goldner's New York-based End label, for whom he recorded a Gospel 45 in 1959. Various recordings on Modern and Peacock also surfaced during this period, with Penniman continuing in Gospel via several singles for Mercury and Atlantic into the early 1960s.

In the ensuing years, Penniman continued to label hop with great frequency. Combinations of new material and re-recordings of previous triumphs surfaced regularly on such labels as Vee Jay, OKeh and Brunswick. 

By 1970, he had landed at Reprise, earning considerable acclaim while there for such singles as Dew Drop Inn and Greenwood, Mississippi. The quality of his output remained high well into the decade, as evidenced by his magnificent In The Middle Of The Night single for Green Mountain Records in 1973.

Early in that decade (and in no small part as a backlash against the excesses that had plunged mainstream music into a protracted aesthetic slump), attention turned widely once again to the pioneers of the movement. Little Richard responded accordingly, and became part of an immensely successful package tour that was chronicled in the motion picture, Let The Good Times Roll

For much of the remainder of his career, Little Richard continued to record and tour prolifically. As always, he was all over the map musically, as evidenced by his unique and engaging  Shake It All About album for Walt Disney Records in 1992. The previous year, he filmed a video in tandem with Debbie Gibson for Disney's For The Children compilation, singing Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Although Penniman continued to perform live into the twenty-first century, by the second decade, his health had begun to decline. He suffered a heart attack in September 2013, and made his final concert appearance in Tennessee in August 2014. 

Most recently, Penniman had been battling bone cancer. Tragically, he succumbed to that battle on 09 May in Tennessee, at the home of his brother. He was 87.


As the legendary John Madara has noted time and time again, all it takes is that one song.

In Madara's case, that song was Do The Bop, which he composed in 1957 with Artie Singer and Dave White. At the suggestion of American Bandstand host Dick Clark, the title was changed to At The Hop. White's group, Danny And The Juniors recorded it for the Singular label (later re-released on ABC Paramount), and At The Hop went on to become one of rock and roll's most beloved and enduring masterpieces.

For composer, vocalist and Atlanta, Georgia native Edward J. "Eddie" Cooley, that moment of glory came in 1956. Having relocated to New York City some months earlier, Cooley struck up a friendship with acclaimed songwriter Otis Blackwell in 1955. Cooley had the basic template in place for an original composition entitled Fever, but the piece needed some finishing touches. Blackwell completed the song, and Fever went on to become one of the most often covered standards in music history. Little Willie John brought Fever its initial acclaim via his rendition for King Records in 1956. Successful versions followed by Peggy Lee, the McCoys, Elvis Presley, Madonna and others.

That success opened some unlikely doors for Cooley. Remarkably, among the artists to record his compositions were the 5 Royales and Joseph "Joe Tex" Arrington. Remarkable in that both artists generally composed their own material, with group guitarist and principal visionary Lowman Pauling serving in that role for the 5 Royales.

Up to that point, Cooley had been content to function in a behind the scenes capacity. However, Blackwell (whose extraordinary acumen as a composer was hailed by such giants as Roy Hamilton and the aforementioned Elvis Presley) saw in his colleague even greater potential as a front man.

As Fever became one of the highlights of 1956, Cooley had a demo made of another of his own compositions. With its irresistible shuffle beat and relentless optimism, Priscilla had all of the key ingredients to become a monster classic. 

Cooley shopped Priscilla to rockabilly great Boyd Bennett, whose Seventeen for King Records had put him on the map, and whose My Boy Flat Top was covered some years later by Brownsville Station. While impressed, Bennett nonetheless passed on the track. 

Undaunted, Blackwell got the demo of Priscilla to Royal Roost Records head, Teddy Reig. Primarily a jazz label up to that point (Georgie Auld, Kai Winding, the Bud Powell Trio, the Stan Getz Quartet, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Stitt and even a pre-RCA Victor outing by Harry Belafonte), Reig was interested in expanding his artist roster into R&B and rock and roll. 

Blackwell brought in an accomplished trio that he had discovered, the Dimples (Beverly Coates and her sister, Carolyn Coates, along with Barbara Sanders) to provide backing vocals, and Cooley suddenly found himself as a rockabilly singer of sorts. Beloved and enormously influential radio announcer, composer, bandleader and actor Alan Freed was an early supporter, who championed Cooley's single on his radio program. Like At The Hop and Fever, Cooley's Priscilla went on to become one of rock and roll's definitive masterpieces.

From his own perspective, Cooley was primarily a composer. He nonetheless persevered as a vocalist for the remainder of the decade, recording for both Royal Roost (April 1957's Hey You!) and Triumph (the sublime Leona in July 1959). In the process, Cooley continued to place his compositions with such fellow heavyweights as Harold "Conway Twitty" Jenkins and Reese Francis "Buzz" Clifford, the latter who covered Cooley's February 1957 Royal Roost single, Driftwood. Blackwell persuaded Cooley to return to the studio one more time to contribute two tracks to MGM Records' We Wrote 'Em, We Sing 'Em compilation in 1961 (reprising Lay It On and Fever).

Cooley had one other strong advocate in his corner at that time, in the form of Roulette Records' co-founder and CEO, Morris Levy. Roulette rereleased Priscilla as a 45, and the track was again included as part of Levy's acclaimed Golden Goodies and 20 Original Winners multi-volume album series for the label.

Thankfully, Cooley did find "that one song" in the form of Fever, which continued to generate royalties for him up to the present day. In recent years, Cooley's daughter, Bridget Opher has worked tirelessly to champion her father's legacy, as has Greer Williams, daugher of the Dimples' Beverly Coates. 

Cooley eventually relocated to Rose Hill, Mississippi. Sadly, he had been in ill health in recent years. He passed away on his birthday, Wednesday 15 April at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, Mississipi. Cooley was 87.


When the late Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler sang of the accomplishments of The "A" Team for RCA Victor in 1966, it is unlikely that he had in mind a time such as this.
These days, The "A" Team is facing a set of challenges that were heretofore unknown to this generation. The so-called virus pandemic has witnessed society at large at war in recent weeks against an unseen enemy. 

To their considerable credit, The "A" Team in the current conflict is comprised of not only the various military personnel who routinely lay their lives on the line for the common good, but a legion of dedicated medical professionals who risk their own health and safety to attend to those directly impacted by the disease. Their efforts are augmented most capably by the various retail personnel who likewise put themselves on the front lines to ensure that the basic needs of life continue to be met for one and all. 

Thankfully, their endeavors have not gone unnoticed by either the faithful or the musical community. To that effect, pastors around the globe have taken to social media to bring the message of the Gospel to the world during this most unusual Easter season. In turn, countless musicians have also weighed in with words of encouragement, as well as an uplifting musical interlude of their own.

Interestingly enough, the latest veteran artist to contribute in that respect is a combination of the two.

Bassist, composer and vocalist Barry Van Engelen is one of two surviving founding members of the legendary first generation garage rock quintet, the Unrelated Segments. The band earned a permanent place in the upper echelons of the genre with their trio of 1967-1968 Jack Chekaway-produced singles, Story Of My Life for HBR Records and Where You Gonna Go? and Cry, Cry, Cry for the Liberty label. Van Engelen's extraordinary and unique bass runs on those singles have been hailed as being among the best ever committed to record.

A Vietnam veteran, Van Engelen in recent years has remained active in veterans affairs, and also serves in a leadership role at his home church in southeastern Michigan. He concurrently performs live prolifically as Barry the Guitar Guy. making regular appearances in that capacity at the historic Greenfield Village in neighboring Dearborn. 

All of which prompted him to take guitar in hand and offer a few musical words of encouragement for those on the front lines in these trying times.

Inspired by the aforementioned Barry Sadler's early 1966 signature single, The Ballad Of The Green Berets, Van Engelen added his own timely observations to Sadler's compelling melody. Van Engelen's performance posted on Easter Sunday.

"I felt this coming for a while", Van Engelen said.

"This song was just laying inside me".

Within hours, the response went viral in a good way.

"Barry Sadler would have been proud", noted more than one observer. 

As for the rest of us, Van Engelen's Barry Sadler-inspired musical words of encouragement not only resonate, but inspire in a manner that points toward both Easter's hope of the cross, as well as the light at the end of the tunnel with regards to the circumstances at hand. To be certain, the answer to Van Engelen's 1967 musical question, Where You Gonna Go? is onward and upward.


Once in a great while, Dobie Gray got it wrong.

Gray's 1965 Charger label signature single, The "In" Crowd featured a lyric that resonated to such a degree that it became an integral component of Blitz Magazine's mission statement:

"Other guys imitate us, but the original's still the greatest".

In terms of music overall, Gray's observation has more often than not proven to be the case. For rarely does the cover version of a given recording pack the impact, vision and emotion of the original. 

However, in the case of Edmonton, Alberta vocalist, composer and guitarist Barry Allen Rasmussen (professionally known as Barry Allen), one particular standard improved to such a degree via his interpretation that it became a hallmark of the garage/psych hybrid.

Following fruitful affiliations with RCA Victor, Vik, Groove and other labels, veteran duo Mickey Baker and Sylvia Vanderpool briefly signed with the Willow label in 1961, where they released the acclaimed single, Love Drops. In Mickey And Sylvia's hands, Love Drops became a career highlight as the result of their unique mid-tempo arrangement and dramatic delivery. 

Meanwhile, after a successful run as guitarist with Wes Dakus And The Rebels, Barry Allen opted for a solo career. His acclaimed releases for Capitol at home led to an affiliation with Dot Records in Nashville. While at Dot, Allen joined forces with legendary producer Norman Petty at the latter's renowned Nor-Va-Jak Studios. In their most capable hands, Love Drops was transformed from a dramatic ballad into a pathos-laden, vocal harmony rich hallmark of psych rock. Dot released Allen's version in March 1966, and it has since became one of the genre's definitive masterpieces.

Allen continued to perform and record prolifically well into the current century. Working with a new version of the Rebels, he took to the stage regularly throughout the mid-2010s. 

Sadly, Allen underwent a bout with cancer in 2016, which curtailed his live performance schedule. He rebounded to the degree that he was able to complete the acclaimed solo project, Speed Of Dark, which was released in November 2019.

Tragically, Allen faced a recurrence of cancer earlier this year, which finally claimed his life on 04 April. He was 74.


After much speculation (and no small amount of anxiety among musicologists and record collectors), the wait is over. 

Amoeba Music, which ranks among the world's largest record retailers, has announced that its Hollywood location (which is presently on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Cahuenga) will be relocating in the Fall of 2020. The new site will be several blocks away, at 6200 Hollywood Boulevard, on the corner of Argyle.

"It's a bit smaller, but not a whole lot", Amoeba announced on 05 February in a statement.

"It's still a huge space that will house all the formats and goodies we carry now".

Long targeted for re-development, Amoeba's Sunset Boulevard location is directly across the street from the immensely popular Jack In The Box restaurant, and a short walk from the First Southern Baptist Church Of Hollywood, which is pastored by renowned musicologist Gary Tibbs. The new Amoeba outlet will anchor the El Centro complex, next door to the Fonda Theatre.

One potential concern may follow Amoeba from its present location to the new one. The Sunset Boulevard location offers limited on site free parking in the form of an underground garage, which during peak hours of operation has been known to generate traffic back ups onto Cahuenga. But according to Amoeba, some changes are inevitable in that respect.

"The El Centro complex has a large, well-managed parking garage", according to the Amoeba statement.

"We'll validate for the first 75 minutes with any in store purchase. There are many parking meters on all three of the surrounding streets (Hollywood, Argyle and El Centro)".

A fixture in Hollywood since the dawn of the twenty-first century, Amoeba also has locations to the north in San Francisco and Berkeley. The store is known for its massive inventory in virtually all recorded formats, including 78s, 45s, vinyl LPs, CDs, DVDs, cassettes and eight track tapes. Amoeba also boasts an extensive selection of such related merchandise as t-shirts and turntables. 

The move is scheduled to take place after Labor Day 2020. Amoeba anticipates minimal interruption in its day to day operations during the transition. Meanwhile, Amoeba's three outlets remain closed during the virus pandemic, as does the San Fernando Valley-based Freak Beat Records.