Mar 01, 2016 03:32PM
By Paul Cotruvo
2016 has not started off kindly to some of my musical heroes and influences. The strange thing is that each passing of these fallen rock legends intertwines with a personal “soundtrack of my life.” Growing up in the early ‘60s, no question, The Beatles and The Stones were all the rage. But I soon fell in love with the San Francisco Sound. One of the pioneers of this sound was Paul Kantner, founder and leader of Jefferson Airplane. With hits like “Somebody to Love,” “Wooden Ships,” and “White Rabbit,” Kantner really helped shape the whole psychedelic sound. His writing usually ventured into more of a science fiction theme. His solo record in 1971 was Blows Against The Empire, a concept album about a bunch of people escaping earth in a hijacked starship, a subject he wrote about for years to come and which led to his starting the Starship band.
Then, around the late ‘60s, I discovered the music of David Bowie. Bowie’s music was very unique and innovative. He also pioneered and changed the visual concept for live stage performances. One of my favorite things about Bowie is that he always reinvented himself, not only with different characters he portrayed, but the music itself. Whether it was rock, funk, blues, or techno, he never stopped evolving. Of course, one of my favorite trivia bits about David Bowie is that his real name is David Jones. He changed it so as not to be confused with Davey Jones from The Monkees.
The early ‘70s found me back to following local Bay Area bands, which led me to Tower of Power. One of the leaders of this band was the one and only Mic Gillette, who played trumpet and trombone. I feel they changed the musical landscape with their tight arrangements of the funkiest tunes around, although it was the ballad “You’re Still a Young Man” which shot them into stardom. Mic played the infamous opening trumpet solo, which still gives me chills all these years later. And I was lucky enough to meet him and hear him play that very lick at the 2014 Blues and Brews Festival in Pleasant Hill.
Also in the early ‘70s, another style of music was becoming extremely popular, the Southern California Country Rock sound. Pioneering this was the legendary Eagles. One of the founding members, Glenn Frey, helped write and sing some of the biggest classic rock songs in history. “Take it Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “Tequila Sunrise” not only changed rock music but led to the modern country sound of today.
Then, in the mid 1970s, I heard the song “Shining Star” and needed to find out the band that crafted this gem. It was none other than Earth, Wind, and Fire, another one of the all-time best R&B bands of our time. The amazing Maurice White not only sang but also co-wrote many of their songs and was truly an inspiration. In addition to being a leader of Earth, Wind, and Fire, he went on to produce and write songs for other artists. One of his songs, “Best of my Love” by The Emotions, won a Grammy in 1977.
It was shocking to hear the passing of these legends, all within days and weeks of each other. Equally strange was that all their music shaped my life. But thank God, their music will live on. They have been and will continue to be a staple on my playlist. I thought I’d share some of my favorite songs (in no particular order):
1) “Wooden Ships” - Jefferson Airplane
2) “Space Oddity” - David Bowie
3) “Fame” - David Bowie
4) “Take it Easy” - The Eagles
5) “Lyin’ Eyes” - The Eagles
6) “Reasons” - Earth, Wind and Fire
7) “September” - Earth Wind and Fire
8) “What is Hip” - Tower of Power
9) “You’re Still a Young Man” - Tower of Power
10) “HaveYou Seen the Stars Tonight” - Paul Kantner
I would love for you to share with me some of your favorite songs or memories from these rock legends. Go to ourcommunityfocus.com and let me know.
Quote of the Month: “I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.” -- David Bowie
Paul’s picks for March:
March 3: Kyle Jester, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
March 5: Jim Caroompas, Roxx on Main, 627 Main St., Martinez, 7pm
March 10: Jeff Campbell, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
March 17: Zoo Station, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 10pm
March 18: The Lost Weekend, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 4:30pm
March 18: Tender Mercies, Wise Girl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9pm
March 19: Billy Schaub, Rocco’s, 2909 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, 8:30pm
March 26: Cut Loose, Wise Girl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd. Pleasant Hill, 9pm
Armando’s: 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, www.armandosmartinez.com
Wise Girl: 1932 Oak Park Blvd. Pleasant Hill, www.dallimontis.com
Dan’s Bar: 1524 Civic Drive Walnut Creek, www.dansbar.com
Jack’s Restaurant: 60 Crescent Dr. Pleasant Hill, www.jacksrestaurants.com
Roxx on Main: 627 Main St. Martinez, www.roxxonmain.com
Rocco’s Pizzeria: 2909 Ygnacio Valley Road Walnut Creek, www.roccospizzeria.com