Crossing Borders with Roy Hockley

For a ten-year period from 1958 through 1967, the top nightspot in Bay City, Michigan, was Art Narlock’s Empire Show Bar. The biggest attraction at the club during the 1960’s was a Canadian rock and roll band billed as Roy Hockley and The Chessmen featuring Joie Jaye. Playing six nights per week, the band routinely packed the house at the Show Bar before Narlock’s business began to crumble due to financial difficulties that were rumored to be the result of gambling debts caused by heavy losses at Las Vegas casinos.

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Elvis: In The Beginning...

On July 5, 2014, rock and roll music celebrated its 60th birthday. Why was that date selected as the birth of rock and roll? Most rock music historians would undoubtedly claim that the much-disputed first rock and roll song was recorded well before that date.

The reason is Elvis Presley. It was on that day in July that Presley, along with guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black and Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, recorded “That’s All Right” in Memphis. This event turned out to be the “big bang” of rock and roll and hailed the emergence of the artist who would define this new genre of music like no other.

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Stookey Was A Spartan

Noel Paul Stookey achieved world-wide fame as 'Paul' in Peter, Paul and Mary, the most important and successful folk music trio of the 1960's. During that decade, Peter, Paul and Mary charted 20 singles on Billboard's Hot 100, including 5 Top Ten hits ("If I Had A Hammer", "Puff The Magic Dragon", "Blowin' In The Wind", "Don't Think Twice It's All Right", "I Dig Rock And Roll Music") and the group's sole #1 – 1969's "Leaving On A Jet Plane". In addition, the trio had 11 hit albums, including two that reached # 1; their debut "Peter, Paul & Mary" in 1962 and "In The Wind" in 1963.

Only a minority of the fans of Peter, Paul, and Mary, however, know that Stookey moved to Michigan when he was an adolescent, and that he started his recording career in the state as a member of a high school doo wop vocal group called The Birds Of Paradise. Fewer still realize that he began honing his skills as an entertainer and folksinger while a freshman at Michigan State University, and that his first college sweetheart was a pretty young co-ed from Bay City, Michigan.

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Spending A Night With Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was the first white woman to rise to prominence as a blues singer and also one of the first successful female lead singers in rock. Her brief but meteoric rise to fame ended prematurely at age 27 by a heroin overdose, but her influence is still being felt more than four decades later. Joplin is currently the subject of a highly entertaining and informative musical production titled A Night With Janis Joplin at the venerable Lyceum Theatre located at 149 West 45th Street in New York City.

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Best Albums of 2013: Two Views

Is there anyone out there who still gives CDs as Christmas presents? If you’re thinking of giving one to a person under the age of 21, forget it! For the young, everything is downloaded onto computers, iPhones etc. Buying them a compact disc when they don't use a CD player would be like giving them a butter churn. An iTunes gift card is a much better choice. But if you are thinking of buying music for someone a little older, looking to treat yourself to some fine music, or looking to make a good suggestion to the recipient of an iTunes gift card, read on.

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Rock and Roll Roots: Chuck Berry and Little Richard

Chuck Berry and Little Richard were among the first ten inductees voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  In addition, they have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and several of their recordings have been listed among Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock. Both artists were also very important to me at the beginning of my going-on-sixty-year love affair with rock and roll music.  If you were me and had to select the Top 15 songs for both Chuck Berry and Little Richard, which recordings would you choose?

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Rock and Roll in the Movies Pt. 1: The 50's

It’s been 61 years since rock and roll music made its first appearance in a motion picture; but it was almost an accident that it was included in the soundtrack. The song, which was recorded by a Michigan-born artist, caused a sensation when matched with the images in the film, and its box office success spawned a rash of other rock and roll-related movies by filmmakers anxious to capitalize on this latest trend.

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