Inside CSNY's Groundbreaking 1974 Tour

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Photos by Joel Bernstein/Rhino Records
CSNY (actually in order, Stills, Crosby, Young and Nash) onstage during the 1974 tour.
"We knew it was something special," Graham Nash says on the phone from New York City. "No one had done a tour like that, in that many big venues. But I felt we were up to the task. We could all play and sing, and there were four of us. With four intense egos!"

Today, massive football stadium tours by rock's major acts are taken for granted. But many years ago, 40 to be precise, it hadn't even been attempted. While the Beatles and Stones had done the massive gigs as one-offs, it was a reunited Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young who took the plunge first.

Their fabled 1974 tour encompassed 31 shows in 24 cities in three countries from July through September, with the group presenting nearly 80 songs played in various personnel combinations -- a quarter of which hadn't even been released at that point but would find their way onto later group, solo, and duo records.


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Graham Nash Can't Stop, Won't Stop

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Photo by Chris Kissnger/Jensen Communications
Crosby, Stills, and Nash (actually Stills, Nash, and Crosby) ply their trademark three-part harmony at a recent show.
Now that his production work on the four-years-in-the-making massive CSNY 1974 box set is over and fans have in their hands what they've dreamed about for years, 72-year-old Graham Nash can just lie back and take it easy, right? Not a chance.

"I'm busier now than I've ever been in my life, ever," he says. And his daybook planner backs up the claim. Currently on tour with longtime partners David Crosby and Stephen Stills, he is also doing publicity for the paperback version of his autobiography, Wild Tales, writing new music, recording a CSN covers album, showing his painting and photography work in galleries all over the world while making new art, and even sculpting.

And maybe changing a diaper or two.


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The Top 40 Charting Hard-Rock Songs: Part 2

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Somewhere, we hope Casey Kasem is smiling.
Welcome back to the show! We're counting down the Top 40 hard rock songs of all time, according to Billboard (sort of...). I'll take a moment to recap Nos. 40-31.

40. "Don't Tell Me You Love Me," Night Ranger
39. "Cumbersome," Seven Mary Three
38. "Trampled Underfoot," Led Zeppelin
37. "Back In Black," AC/DC
36. "Sweet Emotion," Aerosmith
35. "One," Metallica
34. "Black And Blue," Van Halen
33. "Live And Let Die," Guns 'N Roses
32. "Everybody Wants You," Billy Squier
31. "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)," by Quiet Riot

If you're in the dark as to what's going on, please refer to Tuesday's first half of the show for the qualifications and my self-imposed limitations during the selection process and breakdown of my results.

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The Top 40 Charting Hard-Rock Songs: Part 1

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Sam Howzit via Flickr
Coming at at No. 40 on our countdown, it's the boys from the San Francisco Bay Area, Night Ranger.
Numbers. The applications to which they are used in various fields can yield results ranging from the trivial to the catastrophic if not interpreted properly. If you are involved with numbers at NASA or the military, lives could hang in the balance if something is miscalculated or misrepresented.

The misuse of numbers in the music industry isn't going to cost anyone his or her life. While music has been one of my biggest passions, I do have another guilty obsession: I'm also a baseball junkie, and if there's one field where trivial calculations influence decisions based on overinflated misinterpretations it's baseball. A perfect example of this is the 'W,' the pitcher's win: a pitcher can throw a terrible game and still get the win, and a pitcher can have an excellent game and still get a loss. For those who don't follow the sport, how a pitcher gets the win is not the point here, but the relevance is. Many around baseball (unfairly) still regard that 'W' as what determines a pitcher's worth during a season.

For those not in the know, the music industry had a number that, just like the 'W,' it relied on it for more than 50 years called the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now, why is this one misleading as opposed to the other Billboard charts? Well, those charts tend to put the participants on an even field. There are charts exclusively for genres, such as country and Christian, and even the Top Albums chart tends to be mostly fair because it's open to all albums being sold.


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Chuck Negron: The Oldies Circuit's Sober Companion

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Photo courtesy of Stafford Centre
Chuck Negron
A little over a year ago, former Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron stood onstage at the Stafford Centre at the finale of the "Happy Together" tour stop, belting out numbers while shoulder to shoulder with The Turtles, Gary Lewis, Gary Puckett and former Paul Revere and the Raiders vocalist Mark Lindsay.

Nearly three hours long, the show was an all-killer-no-filler time travel through well-known radio and chart hits of the '60s and '70s. Negron proffered signature hits like "Joy to the World," "One," "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song," and "Celebrate" to the gray-haired audience whose years melted away from their faces as they sang familiar choruses.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the "Happy Together" tour returns to the Stafford Centre tonight with Negron, the Turtles, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and new additions Mitch Ryder the Detroit Wheels and former Grand Funk Railroad singer/guitarist Mark Farner.


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The Five Most Repellent Things Ted Nugent Has Ever Done

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Photo by Jim Bricker
The Nuge at House of Blues, 2013

If your favorite gun store was out of ammo this morning, it's because Ted Nugent is back in town. The Motor City Madman rumbles into House of Blues tonight, and he's sure to bring the requisite shitload of guitar solos and flaming arrows with him.

And hey, that's great -- at least it was, 40 years ago. "Stranglehold" is great, sure, but "Cat Scratch Fever" was pretty stupid from the get-go, and if he's had a hit since that one, it hasn't cracked the rotation over at 107.5 The Eagle yet.

Then again, who cares? Over the last decade or so, old Ted has become far better known for the outrageous noises coming out of his mouth than for the slightly louder outrageous sounds blasting out of his amplifiers. The transplanted Texan has made his views on Democrats, immigrants, minorities and the 2nd Amendment painfully clear many times over, to the point that his right-wing blowhard act is getting as tired as his music. He's become so predictable that it's getting hard to work up much distaste for his antics, let alone outrage.

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Lowrider Band Drummer Harold Brown: "Houston Has a Special Soul"

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lowriderband.com
The core of the Lowrider Band: Harold Brown, Lee Oskar, B.B. Dickerson, and Howard Scott.
Last summer, the Miller Outdoor Theatre presented a multi-racial '70s band who performed such recognizable FM radio classics as "Spill the Wine," "Why Can't We Be Friends?" "The Cisco Kid," "All Day Music," and -- of course -- "Low Rider."

This summer, Miller presents another multi-racial '70s band who will perform all those same hits. But with a different name, though this group has four times as many members who actually played on those records.

Confused? Welcome to the 2014 strange saga of two groups: War and the Lowrider Band.


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Yes: Venerable Prog-Rock Icons Are the Opposite of Fragile

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The 2014 version of Yes: Chris Squire (bass), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Steve Howe (guitar), and Jon Davison (vocals).
In his 40-plus years of sitting on the drum stool for classic-rock legends Yes, Alan White has thumped skins in locations all over the world and under all kinds of conditions. But it was a show on the high seas a couple of years back, part of the prog-rock-themed "Cruise to the Edge" that bordered on the absurd.

"The weather was rough, and it was the roughest when we played our set. And the stage was at the front of the boat, which was the roughest place to be!" White laughs today.

"We were playing and hit some bad turbulence, and Chris [Squire, bassist] went to sing in the mike and missed it by a foot. Steve [Howe, guitar] had his steel guitar sliding all over its track, and I was aiming at cymbals just hoping I hit them! And at the end of the show when we went to take a bow together, we hit another wave and all stumbled to the side!"


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RIP Dick Wagner: Nightmarishly Good Rock Guitarist Was 71

Note: Dick Wagner, a guitarist who played with everyone from Lou Reed to Hall & Oates but most famously with Alice Cooper's '70s band (he co-wrote "Welcome to My Nightmare" with Cooper, among other shock-rock hits), passed away Wednesday morning at age 71, according to ultimateclassicrock.com. As tribute, Rocks Off would like to re-run the interview our Bob Ruggiero did with Wagner shortly after the publication of his 2012 memoir, Not Only Women Bleed: Vignettes From the Heart of a Rock Musician.

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Rocks Off: First I have to ask, how is your health?
Dick Wagner:
Well, it's very good. I made a very strong comeback and am getting ready to tour in the spring and summertime. I barely picked up a guitar for five years. And I'm going to Italy in a few days to produce a band. So I feel good and I'm being active.


You started your career at a time when there really were regional music scenes, and bands -- like the Bossmen and the Frost -- could be hugely successful with hit singles and radio play in one area and then maybe spread. Do you think we miss something by not really having that anymore?
Oh, absolutely. Everyone looks to radio, and to build a local scene, you had to have local radio support and you could gather up a fan base. It was exciting. With the Bossmen, we got so tight with the guys at the radio stations that we'd go in and make up skits right there in the studio with the DJs.

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How Paul McCartney Spread His Wings In the '70s

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Uncut Magazine
Wings at their peak - the mid '70s lineup: Jimmy McColluch (guitar), Joe English (drums), Linda McCartney (keyboards), Paul McCartney (vocals/bass), and Denny Laine (guitar/vocals)
Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s
By Tom Doyle
Ballantine, 288 pp., $27

While mighty expanses of forests have sacrificed themselves to create all the pages written about Paul McCartney's time as a Beatle, the ensuing post-breakup decade has killed far fewer trees. The 1970s found McCartney both trying to both build on his musical reputation as a Fab and distance himself from the already-looming legend, as both the leader of the ever-shifting lineup of Wings and a solo artist.

Now author Tom Doyle has added a valuable entry into the Beatles Bookshelf with this effort. Fascinating because, as he says, two words summed up Paul in the '70s: struggle and escape. That's illustrated with the book's core sources: several lengthy firsthand interviews Doyle and subject have had over the years for various music publications, plus new talks with band members and associates and research.

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