Heart at Stafford Centre, 10/22/2014

Photos by Jason Wolter
Stafford Centre
October 22, 2014

The tone of this review has already changed between Wednesday evening's Heart concert and today's news of Walters owner Pam Robinson's passing; in my case it was a matter of a simple drive into the office. It would have been a great show coming or going, but now it seems more important than ever to underline the achievements of strong women in music.

Although a lot has changed since the mid-'70s, the music industry is still dominated by men, locally, nationally and internationally. But if it's less dominated by men now than it was back then -- and it most certainly is -- it's because of the contributions of people like Robinson and Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson.

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When the U.S. Caught Beatlemania, Larry Kane Was There

Larry Kane
Larry Kane (center) with Paul McCartney and John Lennon aboard the Beatles' airplane on the 1964 U.S. tour.
Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 Tour That Changed the World
By Larry Kane
Backbeat Books, 272 pp. (w/CD), $24.99

"What's your problem, man? Why are you dressed like a fag-ass?"

It was an inauspicious and unexpected question/accusation directed at Larry Kane, a fresh-faced 21-year-old radio news reporter from Miami. It was also the shocked journalist's first encounter with John Lennon, a member of the new pop group from England called the Beatles. Kane had been assigned to travel with them, covering the band's first U.S. tour.

The fact that Lennon was just taking the mickey out of the conservatively-dressed Kane at a reception, he got later. And as the only U.S. journalist to tour with the group on both their 1964 and 1965 jaunts, he saw and heard incidents and events that don't appear in any other tome on the Fab Four.

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The Eagles at Toyota Center, 10/14/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
The Eagles
Toyota Center
October 14, 2014

At this point in their career -- which, as singer/guitarist Glenn Frey noted, has lasted 43 years -- any Eagles concert is essentially bulletproof. The have the catalogue, they have the still-firing lineup, and they have an insane level of audience goodwill.

And, as singer/drummer Don Henley also noted, they're "still here." The band's appeal has outlasted a murderer's row of other genres and shifts in popular taste that for a time found them and their brand of country-rock passe or "over." "When's the last time you saw a disco band?" the native of Linden, Texas quipped.

So it was with this resume that Musical Professors Frey and Henley led a rapt, capacity Toyota Center crowd Tuesday through a repeat course of the "History of the Eagles" tour, based on the band's documentary DVD of the same name.

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Dream Weaver Gary Wright Was Best Friends With a Beatle

Rob Shanahan/Tarcher Books
Gary Wright, Your Friendly Neighborhood Dream Weaver
There aren't many more concrete instances of one singer being so clearly connected to one song in the classic rock canon than Gary Wright with "Dream Weaver." The 1976 single, recorded with all synthesizers, reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart, has been a constant presence on radio and in movies (from Wayne's World to Toy Story 3), and is easily Wright's best-known number.

In fact, "The Dream Weaver" has also become a nom de plume for Wright, the URL of his official Web site, and the title of his upcoming autobiography, Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation, and My Friendship with George Harrison (Tarcher, 256 pp., $26.95). But the song, about God and inspired by Wright's intense devotion to Hindu religion and teachings, almost never made it on the album that would eventually bear the same name.

"It was the last song I put on the record, and I thought it was a nice little thing, but didn't put any credence in it," Wright says today. "I didn't think it would be [a hit]. But it took on a life of its own. And I feel very blessed and fortunate that I was able to have written a song that reached that kind of status."

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Joe Perry Walks His Way in New Memoir

copyright Ross Haflin/Simon & Schuster
Joe Perry tells his life story - before and after the grey streak - in "ROCKS."
While they may not be blood brothers, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, singer and guitarist for Aerosmith, respectively, might as well be for the relationship they've had for more than 45 years.

It's a love/hate story that Perry details extensively, along with his own life, in his new autobiography written with David Ritz, ROCKS: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith (432 pp., $27.99, Simon & Schuster). And, if you've been following the saga of the "Toxic Twins" today, the future of one of America's greatest hard-rock bands is still in flux.

At the time that we recently spoke with Perry, just days before publication, neither Tyler nor any other band member had seen a copy of the book.

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Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band at The Woodlands, 10/10/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
October 10, 2014

Ever wonder what Todd Rundgren would sound like playing guitar for Santana? Or Gregg Rolie offering Hammond B-3 organ flourishes for Toto? Or Ringo Starr pounding drums for...Mr. Mister?

Probably not. But in the musical sampler platter that is the continuing saga of Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, those unlikely pairings happened. Much to the delight and often surprise of a crowd who knew the songs -- if not necessarily the men who originally sang or played them. Oh, and there's a freakin' Beatle onstage to boot as well.

Since 1989 and through 13 incarnations, Starr -- wisely knowing that an all-Ringo show might be a bit much -- has hit the road with a rotating roster of '60s, '70s, and '80s rockers. They play both as a unit backing Ringo, and then step forward to regale the audience with their own hits.

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Five of the Many, Many Times Mötley Crüe Should Have Retired Already

This is them.
To hear Motley Crue tell it, Saturday night will be the last time they perform for a Houston crowd together. The glam-metal archetypes, storied rock and roll survivors all, say that this is it for them. The Final Tour. They even made a big show of signing a contract pledging never again to perform as Motley Crue. So clearly, they're serious here, guys.

But does anyone believe it? How can you? If Motley Crue has proven anything since they crawled out of some Sunset Strip gutter in the '80s, it's that they're impossible to kill. Pretty safe to assume that, like their heroes Aerosmith, KISS and Ozzy, the Crue will break up and make up (in makeup) until they're all dead. After all, if drugs, divorce, rehab and prison can't rid us of Motley Crue, a legal document-cum-press conference doesn't stand much chance, now does it?

Because let's face it, it doesn't take a lot of brainpower to come up with instances where Motley Crue clearly should have called it a day, yet clung desperately to those leather pants. Here are just a few of the most memorable times they forged on against all sanity.

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Randy Bachman Is Forever Takin' Care of Business

Photo by Mike Hough
Randy Bachman today
In his career as a co-vocalist/guitarist/songwriter for not one but two pretty successful classic-rock bands, the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Randy Bachman has sold tens of millions of records, sold out concerts and hit the top of the charts.

But, according to his son, singer/songwriter Tal Bachman (who had a hit of his own in 1999 with "She's So High"), dad didn't really make it in the music biz until he became animated in a 2000 episode of The Simpsons. It's where Homer loudly requests the band play "Takin' Care of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet"...and continues to bellow for the tunes after the band has obliged.

"A lot of other musicians had been on the show," Bachman recalls today. "Matt Groening went to college near Seattle, and that was the town where B.T.O. first broke, so he was a fan.

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Jethro Tull Was a Great Band Before Aqualung

The cover of Jethro Tull's 1969 album Stand Up
The classic-rock world lost another of its members last month with the passing of Jethro Tull's original bass player, Glen Cornick. They, alongside Deep Purple and Judas Priest, are one of what I consider the last three bands unjustly omitted from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For those familiar with early Tull images, Cornick was the animated member. He could be found on album covers and press photos with his glasses, long black hair and usually sporting a headband or a stylish derby. Known as a partier, he was asked to leave shortly before the recording of 1971's Aqualung album -- not necessarily as a result of his behavior, but because those ways didn't fit the with the other members' more subdued personalities.

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John Sebastian & Lightnin' Hopkins: The Odd Couple

Photos courtesy of JohnBSebastian.com (unless indicated)
John Sebastian today
"Houston had a special message for me as a young musician, and it came directly through Lightnin' Hopkins," John Sebastian says from his home in New York.

But the former front man of the '60s band the Lovin' Spoonful and solo artist didn't just get the Houston vibe through the music of the storied and legendary bluesman. He got it up close and personal with the man. Real personal. Like sharing-a-bathroom personal.

"Lightnin' would stay with me in New York when he came to play at the Village Gate or some other places in Midtown," Sebastian laughts. "And it was hilarious, my relationship was completely obsequious. It became all about getting Lightnin' to the gig, carrying his guitar, and getting him his pint!"

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