Wednesday, May 24, 8941
Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) (b. 1941)
[Joan Baez and Bob Dylan]
Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) (b. 1941)
Blowin' in the Wind
Bob Dylan (b. Robert Allen Zimmerman [Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham], May 24, 1941, Duluth, MN) is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet and disc jockey, who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. Much of Dylan's most celebrated work dates from the 1960's. A number of his songs, such as Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin', became anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements.
Zimmerman was raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, on the Mesabi Iron Range west of Lake Superior. His paternal grandparents, Zigman and Anna Zimmerman, emigrated from Odessa in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) to the United States following the anti-Semitic pogroms of 1905.
His mother's maternal grandparents, Benjamin and Lybba Edelstein, were Lithuanian Jews who arrived in the United States in 1902.
In his autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan writes that his paternal grandmother's maiden name was Kyrgyz and her family originated from Istanbul.
Dylan’s parents, Abram Zimmerman and Beatrice "Beatty" Stone, were part of the area's small but close-knit Jewish community. Robert Zimmerman lived in Duluth until age six, when his father was stricken with polio and the family returned to his mother's home town, Hibbing, where Zimmerman spent the rest of his childhood. Robert Zimmerman spent much of his youth listening to the radio -- first to blues and country stations broadcasting from Shreveport, Louisiana and, later, to early rock and roll.
He formed several bands in high school: The Shadow Blasters was short-lived, but his next, The Golden Chords, lasted longer and played covers of popular songs.
Their performance of Danny and the Juniors' Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay at their high school talent show was so loud that the principal cut the microphone off.
In his 1959 school yearbook, Robert Zimmerman listed as his ambition "To follow Little Richard."
The same year, using the name Elston Gunnn (sic), he performed two dates with Bobby Vee, playing piano and providing handclaps.
Zimmerman moved to Minneapolis in September 1959 and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. His early focus on rock and roll gave way to an interest in American folk music. In 1985, Dylan explained the attraction that folk music had exerted on him: "The thing about rock'n'roll is that for me anyway it wasn't enough ... There were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms ... but the songs weren't serious or didn't reflect life in a realistic way. I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings."
He soon began to perform at the 10 O'clock Scholar, a coffee house a few blocks from campus, and became actively involved in the local Dinkytown folk music circuit.
During his Dinkytown days, Zimmerman began introducing himself as "Bob Dylan."
In his autobiography, Dylan acknowledged that he had been influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas.
Explaining his change of name in a 2004 interview, Dylan remarked: "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free."
Dylan dropped out of college at the end of his freshman year. In January 1961, he moved to New York City, hoping to perform there and visit his musical idol Woody Guthrie, who was seriously ill with Huntington's Disease in Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.
Guthrie had been a revelation to Dylan and was the biggest influence on his early performances. Describing Guthrie's impact on him, Dylan later wrote: "The songs themselves had the infinite sweep of humanity in them ... [He] was the true voice of the American spirit. I said to myself I was going to be Guthrie's greatest disciple."
As well as visiting Guthrie in the hospital, Dylan befriended Guthrie's acolyte Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Much of Guthrie's repertoire was actually channeled through Elliott, and Dylan paid tribute to Elliott in Chronicles (2004).
From February 1961, Dylan played at various clubs around Greenwich Village. In September, he eventually gained public recognition when Robert Shelton wrote a positive review in The New York Times of a show at Gerde's Folk City.
The same month Dylan played harmonica on folk singer Carolyn Hester's eponymous third album, which brought his talents to the attention of the album's producer John Hammond.
Hammond signed Dylan to Columbia Records in October. The performances on his first Columbia album, Bob Dylan (1962), consisted of familiar folk, blues and gospel material combined with two original compositions. The album made little impact, selling only 5,000 copies in its first year, just enough to break even.
Within Columbia Records, some referred to the singer as "Hammond's Folly" and suggested dropping his contract. Hammond defended Dylan vigorously. While working for Columbia, Dylan also recorded several songs under the pseudonym Blind Boy Grunt, for Broadside Magazine, a folk music magazine and record label.
Dylan made two important career moves in August 1962. He legally changed his name to Bob Dylan, and signed a management contract with Albert Grossman. Grossman remained Dylan's manager until 1970, and was notable both for his sometimes confrontational personality, and for the fiercely protective loyalty he displayed towards his principal client.
Dylan subsequently said of Grossman, "He was kind of like a Colonel Tom Parker figure ... you could smell him coming."
Tensions between Grossman and John Hammond led to Hammond being replaced as the producer of Dylan's second album by the young African American jazz producer Tom Wilson.
From December 1962 to January 1963, Dylan made his first trip to the United Kingdom.
He had been invited by TV director Philip Saville to appear in a drama, The Madhouse on Castle Street, which Saville was directing for BBC Television.
At the end of the play, Dylan performed Blowin' in the Wind, one of the first major public performances of the song. While in London, Dylan performed at several London folk clubs, including Les Cousins, The Pinder Of Wakefield, and Bunjies.
He also learned new songs from several UK performers, including Martin Carthy.
By the time Dylan's second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, was released in May 1963, he had begun to make his name as both a singer and a songwriter. Many of the songs on this album were labeled protest songs, inspired partly by Guthrie and influenced by Pete Seeger's passion for topical songs.
Oxford Town, for example, was a sardonic account of James Meredith's ordeal as the first black student to risk enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
His most famous song at this time, Blowin' in the Wind, partially derived its melody from the traditional slave song No More Auction Block, while its lyrics questioned the social and political status quo.
The song was widely recorded and became an international hit for Peter, Paul and Mary, setting a precedent for many other artists who had hits with Dylan's songs. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall was based on the tune of the folk ballad Lord Randall. With its veiled references to nuclear apocalypse, it gained even more resonance when the Cuban missile crisis developed only a few weeks after Dylan began performing it.
Like Blowin' in the Wind, A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall marked an important new direction in Dylan's songwriting, blending a stream-of-consciousness, imagist lyrical attack with a traditional folk form.
Blowin' in the Wind was, according to critic Andy Gill, "the song with which Dylan's name is most inextricably linked, and safeguarded his reputation as a civil libertarian through any number of changes in style and attitude."
While Dylan's topical songs solidified his early reputation, Freewheelin' also included a mixture of love songs and jokey, surreal talking blues. Humor was a large part of Dylan's persona, and the range of material on the album impressed many listeners, including The Beatles. George Harrison said, "We just played it, just wore it out. The content of the song lyrics and just the attitude -- it was incredibly original and wonderful."
The rough edge of Dylan's singing was unsettling to some early listeners but an attraction to others. Describing the impact that Dylan had on her and her husband, Joyce Carol Oates wrote: "When we first heard this raw, very young, and seemingly untrained voice, frankly nasal, as if sandpaper could sing, the effect was dramatic and electrifying."
Many of his most famous early songs first reached the public through more immediately palatable versions by other performers, such as Joan Baez, who became Dylan's advocate, as well as his lover.
Baez was influential in bringing Dylan to national and international prominence by recording several of his early songs and inviting him onstage during her own concerts.
Others who recorded and had hits with Dylan's songs in the early and mid-1960s included The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Hollies, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Association, Manfred Mann, and The Turtles. Most attempted to impart a pop feel and rhythm to the songs, while Dylan and Baez performed them mostly as sparse folk pieces. The cover versions became so ubiquitous that CBS started to promote him with the tag "Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan."
Mixed Up Confusion, recorded during the Freewheelin' sessions with a backing band, was released as a single and then quickly withdrawn. In contrast to the mostly solo acoustic performances on the album, the single showed a willingness to experiment with a rockabilly sound. Cameron Crowe described it as "a fascinating look at a folk artist with his mind wandering towards Elvis Presley and Sun Records."
In May 1963, Dylan's political profile was raised when he walked out of The Ed Sullivan Show.
During rehearsals, Dylan had been informed by CBS Television's "head of program practices" that the song he was planning to perform, Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues, was potentially libelous to the John Birch Society. Rather than comply with the censorship, Dylan refused to appear on the program.
Dylan said of The Times They Are a-Changin': "This was definitely a song with a purpose. I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close and allied together at that time."
By this time, Dylan and Baez were both prominent in the civil rights movement, singing together at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.
Dylan's third album, The Times They Are a-Changin', reflected a more politicized and cynical Dylan.
The songs often took as their subject matter contemporary, real life stories, with Only A Pawn In Their Game addressing the murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers; and the Brechtian The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll the death of black hotel barmaid Hattie Carroll, at the hands of young white socialite William Zantzinger.
On a more general theme, Ballad of Hollis Brown and North Country Blues address the despair engendered by the breakdown of farming and mining communities. This political material was accompanied by two personal love songs, Boots of Spanish Leather and One Too Many Mornings.
By the end of 1963, Dylan felt both manipulated and constrained by the folk and protest movements.
These tensions were publicly displayed when, accepting the Tom Paine Award from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, an intoxicated Dylan brashly questioned the role of the committee, characterized the members as old and balding, and claimed to see something of himself (and of every man) in Kennedy's alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Another Side of Bob Dylan, recorded on a single June evening in 1964, had a lighter mood than its predecessor. The surreal, humorous Dylan reemerged on I Shall Be Free #10 and Motorpsycho Nightmare. Spanish Harlem Incident and To Ramona are romantic and passionate love songs, while Black Crow Blues and I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) suggest the rock and roll soon to dominate Dylan's music. It Ain't Me Babe, on the surface a song about spurned love, has been described as a rejection of the role his reputation had thrust at him.
His newest direction was signaled by two lengthy songs: the impressionistic Chimes of Freedom, which sets elements of social commentary against a denser metaphorical landscape in a style later characterized by Allen Ginsberg as "chains of flashing images," and My Back Pages, which attacks the simplistic and arch seriousness of his own earlier topical songs and seems to predict the backlash he was about to encounter from his former champions as he took a new direction.
In the latter half of 1964 and 1965, Dylan’s appearance and musical style changed rapidly, as he made his move from leading contemporary songwriter of the folk scene to folk-rock pop-music star. His scruffy jeans and work shirts were replaced by a Carnaby Street wardrobe, sunglasses day or night, and pointy "Beatle boots." A London reporter wrote: "Hair that would set the teeth of a comb on edge. A loud shirt that would dim the neon lights of Leicester Square. He looks like an undernourished cockatoo."
Dylan also began to spar in increasingly surreal ways with his interviewers. Appearing on the Les Crane TV show and asked about a movie he was planning to make, he told Crane it would be a cowboy horror movie. Asked if he played the cowboy, Dylan replied, "No, I play my mother."
Dylan's April 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home was yet another stylistic leap, featuring his first recordings made with electric instruments. The first single, Subterranean Homesick Blues, owed much to Chuck Berry's Too Much Monkey Business and was provided with an early music video courtesy of D. A. Pennebaker's cinéma vérité presentation of Dylan's 1965 tour of England, Dont Look Back.
Its free association lyrics both harkened back to the manic energy of Beat poetry and were a forerunner of rap and hip-hop.
By contrast, the B side of the album consisted of four long songs on which Dylan accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica.
Mr. Tambourine Man quickly became one of Dylan's best known songs when The Byrds recorded an electric version that reached number one in both the U.S. and the U.K. charts.
It's All Over Now Baby Blue and It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) were acclaimed as two of Dylan's most important compositions.
In the summer of 1965, as the headliner at the Newport Folk Festival, Dylan performed his first electric set since his high school days with a pickup group drawn mostly from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, featuring Mike Bloomfield (guitar), Sam Lay (drums) and Jerome Arnold (bass), plus Al Kooper (organ) and Barry Goldberg (piano). Dylan had appeared at Newport in 1963 and 1964, but in 1965 Dylan, met with a mix of cheering and booing, left the stage after only three songs. One version of the legend has it that the boos were from the outraged folk fans whom Dylan had alienated by appearing, unexpectedly, with an electric guitar. Murray Lerner, who filmed the performance, said: "I absolutely think that they were booing Dylan going electric."
An alternative account claims audience members were merely upset by poor sound quality and a surprisingly short set. This account is supported by Kooper and one of the directors of the festival, who reports his audio recording of the concert prove that the only boos were in reaction to the emcee's announcement that there was only enough time for a short set.
Nevertheless, Dylan's 1965 Newport performance provoked a hostile response from the folk music establishment.
Irwin Silber, the editor of Sing Out!, published an Open Letter to Bob Dylan in his journal: "I saw at Newport how you had somehow lost contact with people. Some of the paraphernalia of fame were getting in your way."
Positively 4th Street
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On July 29, just four days after his controversial performance at Newport, Dylan was back in the studio in New York, recording Positively 4th Street. The lyrics teemed with images of vengeance and paranoia, and it was widely interpreted as Dylan's put-down of former friends from the folk community -- friends he had known in the clubs along West 4th Street.
Dylan's 1965 hit single, which appeared on the album Highway 61 Revisited.
In July 1965, Dylan released the single Like a Rolling Stone, which peaked at #2 in the U.S. and at #4 in the UK charts. At over six minutes, the song has been widely credited with altering attitudes about what a pop single could convey. Bruce Springsteen, in his speech during Dylan's inauguration into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said that on first hearing the single, "that snare shot sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind."
The song also opened Dylan's next album, Highway 61 Revisited, titled after the road that led from Dylan's Minnesota to the musical hotbed of New Orleans.
The songs were in the same vein as the hit single, flavored by Mike Bloomfield's blues guitar and Al Kooper's organ riffs. Desolation Row offers the sole acoustic exception, with Dylan making surreal allusions to a variety of figures in Western culture during this epic song, which was described by Andy Gill as "an 11-minute epic of entropy, which takes the form of a Fellini-esque parade of grotesques and oddities featuring a huge cast of iconic characters, some historical (Einstein, Nero), some biblical (Noah, Cain and Abel), some fictional (Ophelia, Romeo, Cinderella), some literary (T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound), and some who fit into none of the above categories, notably Dr. Filth and his dubious nurse."
In support of the record, Dylan was booked for two U.S. concerts and set about assembling a band. Mike Bloomfield was unwilling to leave the Butterfield Band, so Dylan mixed Al Kooper and Harvey Brooks from his studio crew with bar-band stalwarts Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, best known at the time for being part of Ronnie Hawkins's backing band The Hawks (later to become The Band).
On August 28 at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, the group was heckled by an audience still annoyed by Dylan's electric sound. The band's reception on September 3 at the Hollywood Bowl was more favorable.
While Dylan and the Hawks met increasingly receptive audiences on tour, their studio efforts floundered. Producer Bob Johnston persuaded Dylan to record in Nashville in February 1966, and surrounded him with a cadre of top-notch session men. At Dylan's insistence, Robertson and Kooper came down from New York City to play on the sessions.
The Nashville sessions produced the double-album Blonde on Blonde (1966), featuring what Dylan later called "that thin wild mercury sound."
Al Kooper described the album as "taking two cultures and smashing them together with a huge explosion": the musical world of Nashville and the world of the "quintessential New York hipster" Bob Dylan.
On November 22, 1965, Dylan secretly married 25-year-old former model Sara Lownds.
Some of Dylan’s friends (including Ramblin' Jack Elliott) claim that, in conversation immediately after the event, Dylan denied that he was married.
Journalist Nora Ephron first made the news public in the New York Post in February 1966 with the headline Hush! Bob Dylan is wed.
Dylan undertook a world tour of Australia and Europe in the spring of 1966. Each show was split into two parts. Dylan performed solo during the first half, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica. In the second half, backed by the Hawks, he played high voltage electric music. This contrast provoked many fans, who jeered and slow handclapped.
The tour culminated in a famously raucous confrontation between Dylan and his audience at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in England.
A recording of this concert was finally given an official release in 1998, on the album The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966. At the climax of the evening, a member of the audience, John Cordwell, who was angry with Dylan's electric sound, shouted: "Judas!" to which Dylan responded, "I don't believe you ... You're a liar!" Dylan turned to his band and said, "Play fucking loud!" and they launched into the final song of the night with gusto -- Like a Rolling Stone.
After his European tour, Dylan returned to New York, but the pressures on him increased. ABC Television had paid an advance for a TV show they could screen.
His publisher, Macmillan, was demanding a finished manuscript of the poem/novel Tarantula.
Manager Albert Grossman had already scheduled an extensive concert tour for that summer and fall.
On July 29, 1966, Dylan crashed his 500cc Triumph Tiger 100 motorcycle on a road near his home in Woodstock, New York, throwing him to the ground. Though the extent of his injuries were never fully disclosed, Dylan said that he broke several vertebrae in his neck.
Mystery still surrounds the circumstances of the accident since no ambulance was called to the scene and Dylan was not hospitalized.
Dylan later expressed concern about where his career and private life were headed up until the point of the crash: "When I had that motorcycle accident ... I woke up and caught my senses, I realized that I was just workin' for all these leeches. And I didn't want to do that. Plus, I had a family and I just wanted to see my kids."
Many biographers believe that the crash offered Dylan the much-needed chance to escape from the pressures that had built up around him.
In the wake of his accident, Dylan withdrew from the public and, apart from a few select appearances, did not tour again for eight years.
Once Dylan was well enough to resume creative work, he began editing film footage of his 1966 tour for Eat the Document, a rarely exhibited follow-up to Don't Look Back. A rough-cut was shown to ABC Television and was promptly rejected as incomprehensible to a mainstream audience.
In 1967 he began recording music with the Hawks at his home and in the basement of the Hawks' nearby house, called "Big Pink."
These songs, initially compiled as demos for other artists to record, provided hit singles for Julie Driscoll (This Wheel's on Fire), The Byrds (You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, Nothing Was Delivered), and Manfred Mann (Quinn the Eskimo, The Mighty Quinn). Columbia belatedly released selections from them in 1975 as The Basement Tapes. Over the years, more and more of the songs recorded by Dylan and his band in 1967 appeared on various bootleg recordings, culminating in a five-CD bootleg set titled The Genuine Basement Tapes, containing 107 songs and alternate takes.
In the coming months, the Hawks recorded the album Music from Big Pink using songs they first worked on in their basement in Woodstock, and renamed themselves The Band, thus beginning a long and successful recording and performing career of their own.
In October and November 1967, Dylan returned to Nashville.
Back in the recording studio after a 19-month break, he was accompanied only by Charlie McCoy on bass, Kenny Buttrey on drums, and Pete Drake on steel guitar.
The result was John Wesley Harding, a quiet, contemplative record of shorter songs, set in a landscape that drew on both the American West and the Bible. The sparse structure and instrumentation, coupled with lyrics that took the Judeo-Christian tradition seriously, marked a departure not only from Dylan's own work but from the escalating psychedelic fervor of the 1960's musical culture.
It included All Along the Watchtower, with lyrics derived from the Book of Isaiah (21:5–9). The song was later recorded by Jimi Hendrix, whose version Dylan later acknowledged as definitive.
Woody Guthrie died on October 3, 1967, and Dylan made his first live appearance in 20 months at a Guthrie memorial concert held at Carnegie Hall on January 20, 1968, where he was backed by The Band.
Dylan's next release, Nashville Skyline (1969), was virtually a mainstream country record featuring instrumental backing by Nashville musicians, a mellow-voiced Dylan, a duet with Johnny Cash, and the hit single Lay Lady Lay, which he originally wrote for the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack, but did not submit in time to make the final cut.
In May 1969, Dylan appeared on the first episode of Johnny Cash's new television show, duetting with Cash on Girl from the North Country, I Threw It All Away, and Living the Blues.
Dylan next travelled to England to top the bill at the Isle of Wight rock festival on August 31, 1969, after rejecting overtures to appear at the Woodstock Festival far closer to his home.
In the early 1970's, critics charged Dylan's output was of varied and unpredictable quality.
Rolling Stone magazine writer and Dylan loyalist Greil Marcus notoriously asked "What is this shit?" upon first listening to 1970's Self Portrait.
In general, Self Portrait, a double LP including few original songs, was poorly received.
Later that year, Dylan released New Morning, which some considered a return to form.
In November 1968, Dylan had co-written I'd Have You Anytime with George Harrison; Harrison recorded both I'd Have You Anytime and Dylan's If Not For You for his 1970 solo triple album All Things Must Pass. Dylan's surprise appearance at Harrison's 1971 Concert for Bangladesh attracted much media coverage, reflecting that Dylan's live appearances had become rare.
Between March 16 and 19, 1971, Dylan reserved three days at Blue Rock Studios, a small studio in New York's Greenwich Village. These sessions resulted in one single, Watching The River Flow, and a new recording of When I Paint My Masterpiece.
On November 4, 1971 Dylan recorded George Jackson, which he released a week later.
For many, the single was a surprising return to protest material, mourning the killing of Black Panther George Jackson in San Quentin Prison that summer.
In 1972, Dylan signed onto Sam Peckinpah's film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, providing songs and backing music for the movie, and playing the role of "Alias," a member of Billy's of some historical basis.
Despite the film's failure at the box office, the song Knockin' on Heaven's Door has proven its durability as one of Dylan's most extensively covered songs.
Dylan began 1973 by signing with a new record label, David Geffen's Asylum Records, when his contract with Columbia Records expired. On his next album, Planet Waves, he used The Band as backing group, while rehearsing for a major tour. The album included two versions of Forever Young, which became one of his most popular songs.
Christopher Ricks has connected the chorus of this song with John Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn, which contains the line "...forever panting, and for ever young."
As one critic described it, the song projected "something hymnal and heartfelt that spoke of the father in Dylan," and Dylan himself commented: "I wrote it thinking about one of my boys and not wanting to be too sentimental."
Biographer Howard Sounes noted that Jakob Dylan believed the song was about him.
Columbia Records simultaneously released Dylan, a haphazard collection of studio outtakes (almost exclusively cover songs), which was widely interpreted as a churlish response to Dylan's signing with a rival record label.
In January 1974 Dylan and The Band embarked on their high-profile, coast-to-coast North American tour. A live double album of the tour, Before the Flood, was released on Asylum Records.
Dylan said of the opening song from Blood on the Tracks: "I was trying to deal with the concept of time, and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you're never sure if the first person is talking or the third person. But as you look at the whole thing it really doesn't matter.
After the tour, Dylan and his wife became publicly estranged. He filled a small red notebook with songs about relationships and ruptures, and quickly recorded a new album entitled Blood on the Tracks in September 1974.
Dylan delayed the album's release, however, and re-recorded half of the songs at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis with production assistance from his brother David Zimmerman.
During this time, Dylan returned to Columbia Records, which eventually reissued his Asylum albums.
Released in early 1975, Blood on the Tracks received mixed reviews. In the NME, Nick Kent described "the accompaniments [as] often so trashy they sound like mere practise takes."
In Rolling Stone, reviewer Jon Landau wrote that "the record has been made with typical shoddiness."
However, over the years critics have come to see it as one of Dylan's greatest achievements, perhaps the only serious rival to his mid-60's trilogy of albums. In Salon.com, Bill Wyman wrote: "Blood on the Tracks is his only flawless album and his best produced; the songs, each of them, are constructed in disciplined fashion. It is his kindest album and most dismayed, and seems in hindsight to have achieved a sublime balance between the logorrhea-plagued excesses of his mid-'60s output and the self-consciously simple compositions of his post-accident years."
Novelist Rick Moody called it "the truest, most honest account of a love affair from tip to stern ever put down on magnetic tape."
That summer Dylan wrote a lengthy ballad championing the cause of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who had been imprisoned for a triple murder committed in Paterson, New Jersey in 1966. After visiting Carter in jail, Dylan wrote Hurricane, presenting the case for Carter's innocence. Despite its 8:32 minute length, the song was released as a single, peaking at #33 on the U.S. Billboard Chart, and performed at every 1975 date of Dylan's next tour, the Rolling Thunder Revue.
The tour was a varied evening of entertainment featuring about one hundred performers and supporters drawn from the resurgent Greenwich Village folk scene, including T-Bone Burnett, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Joni Mitchell.
David Mansfield, Roger McGuinn, Mick Ronson, Joan Baez, and violinist Scarlet Rivera, whom Dylan discovered while she was walking down the street, her violin case hanging on her back.
Allen Ginsberg accompanied the troupe, staging scenes for the film Dylan was simultaneously shooting. Sam Shepard was initially hired to write the film's screenplay, but ended up accompanying the tour as informal chronicler.
Running through late 1975 and again through early 1976, the tour encompassed the release of the album Desire, with many of Dylan's new songs featuring an almost travelogue-like narrative style, showing the influence of his new collaborator, playwright Jacques Levy.
The spring 1976 half of the tour was documented by a TV concert special and LP, Hard Rain; no concert album from the better-received and better-known opening half of the tour was released until 2002's Live 1975.
The fall 1975 tour with the Revue also provided the backdrop to Dylan's nearly four-hour film Renaldo and Clara, a sprawling and improvised narrative, mixed with concert footage and reminiscences. Released in 1978, the movie received generally poor, sometimes scathing, reviews and had a very brief theatrical run.
Later in that year, Dylan allowed a two-hour edit, dominated by the concert performances, to be more widely released.
In November 1976, Dylan appeared at The Band's "farewell" concert, along with other guests including Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison and Neil Young. Martin Scorsese's acclaimed cinematic chronicle of this show, The Last Waltz, was released in 1978 and included about half of Dylan's set.
In 1976, Dylan also wrote and duetted on the song "Sign Language" for Eric Clapton's No Reason To Cry.
In 1978, Dylan embarked on a year-long world tour, performing 114 shows in the Far East, Europe, and America, to a total audience of around two million people. For the tour, Dylan assembled an eight-piece band, and was also accompanied by three backing singers. Concerts in Tokyo in February and March were recorded and released as the live double album, Bob Dylan At Budokan.
Reviews were mixed. Robert Christgau awarded the album a C+ rating, giving the album a derisory review, while Janet Maslin defended it in Rolling Stone, writing: "These latest live versions of his old songs have the effect of liberating Bob Dylan from the originals."
When Dylan brought the tour to the US in September 1978, he was dismayed the press described the look and sound of the show as a "Las Vegas Tour."
The 1978 tour grossed more than $20 million, and Dylan acknowledged to the Los Angeles Times that he had some debts to pay off because "I had a couple of bad years. I put a lot of money into the movie, built a big house ... and it costs a lot to get divorced in California."
In April and May 1978, Dylan went into the studio in Santa Monica, California to record an album of new material with the same large band and backing vocalists: Street-Legal.
It was described by Michael Gray as, "after Blood On The Tracks, arguably Dylan’s best record of the 1970's: a crucial album documenting a crucial period in Dylan’s own life."
However, it suffered from poor sound recording and mixing (attributed to Dylan’s studio practices), muddying the instrumental detail until a remastered CD release in 1999 restored some of the songs’ strengths.
Dylan took five months off at the beginning of 1979 to attend Bible school.
His subsequent album Slow Train Coming reached #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
In the late 1970's, Dylan became a born-again Christian and released two albums of Christian gospel music. Slow Train Coming (1979) featured the guitar accompaniment of Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) and was produced by veteran R&B producer, Jerry Wexler. Wexler recalled that when Dylan had tried to evangelize him during the recording, he replied: "Bob, you're dealing with a sixty-two-year old Jewish atheist. Let's just make an album."
The album won Dylan a Grammy Award as "Best Male Vocalist" for the song Gotta Serve Somebody. The second evangelical album, Saved (1980), received mixed reviews, and was described by Dylan critic Michael Gray as "the nearest thing to a follow-up album Dylan has ever made, Slow Train Coming II and inferior."
When touring from the fall of 1979 through the spring of 1980, Dylan would not play any of his older, secular works, and he delivered declarations of his faith from the stage, such as:
Years ago they ... said I was a prophet. I used to say, "No I'm not a prophet" they say "Yes you are, you're a prophet." I said, "No it's not me." They used to say "You sure are a prophet." They used to convince me I was a prophet. Now I come out and say Jesus Christ is the answer. They say, "Bob Dylan's no prophet." They just can't handle it.
Dylan's embrace of Christianity was unpopular with some of his fans and fellow musicians.
Shortly before his murder, John Lennon recorded Serve Yourself in response to Dylan's Gotta Serve Somebody.
By 1981, while Dylan's Christian faith was obvious, Stephen Holden wrote in the New York Times that "neither age (he's now 40) nor his much-publicized conversion to born-again Christianity has altered his essentially iconoclastic temperament."
In the fall of 1980 Dylan briefly resumed touring for a series of concerts billed as A Musical Retrospective, where he restored several of his popular 1960's songs to the repertoire. Shot of Love, recorded the next spring, featured Dylan's first secular compositions in more than two years, mixed with explicitly Christian songs. The haunting Every Grain of Sand reminded some critics of William Blake’s verses.
In the 1980's the quality of Dylan's recorded work varied, from the well-regarded Infidels in 1983 to the panned Down in the Groove in 1988. Critics such as Michael Gray condemned Dylan's 1980's albums both for showing an extraordinary carelessness in the studio and for failing to release his best songs.
The Infidels recording sessions, for example, produced several notable songs that Dylan left off the album. Most well regarded of these were Blind Willie McTell (a tribute to the dead blues singer and an evocation of African American history), Foot of Pride, and Lord Protect My Child.
These songs were later released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.
Between July 1984 and March 1985, Dylan recorded his next studio album, Empire Burlesque.
Arthur Baker, who had remixed hits for Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper, was asked to engineer and mix the album. Baker has said he felt he was hired to make Dylan's album sound "a little bit more contemporary."
Dylan sang on USA for Africa's famine relief fundraising single We Are the World. On July 13, 1985, he appeared at the climax at the Live Aid concert at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia. Backed by Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, Dylan performed a ragged version of Hollis Brown, his ballad of rural poverty, and then said to the worldwide audience exceeding one billion people: "I hope that some of the money ... maybe they can just take a little bit of it, maybe ... one or two million, maybe ... and use it to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and, the farmers here, owe to the banks."
His remarks were widely criticized as inappropriate, but they did inspire Willie Nelson to organize a series of events, Farm Aid, to benefit debt-ridden American farmers.
In April 1986, Dylan made a brief foray into the world of rap music when he added vocals to the opening verse of Street Rock, a song featured on Kurtis Blow's album Kingdom Blow.
Dylan's next studio album, Knocked Out Loaded, was released in July 1986 and contained three cover songs (by Little Junior Parker, Kris Kristofferson and the traditional gospel hymn Precious Memories), plus three collaborations with other writers (Tom Petty, Sam Shepard and Carole Bayer Sager), and two solo compositions by Dylan. One reviewer commented that "the record follows too many detours to be consistently compelling, and some of those detours wind down roads that are indisputably dead ends. By 1986, such uneven records weren't entirely unexpected by Dylan, but that didn't make them any less frustrating."
It was the first Dylan album since Freewheelin' (1963) to fail to make the Top 50.
Since then, some critics have called the 11-minute epic that Dylan co-wrote with Sam Shepard, Brownsville Girl, a work of genius.
In 1986 and 1987, Dylan toured extensively with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, sharing vocals with Petty on several songs each night. Dylan also toured with The Grateful Dead in 1987, resulting in a live album Dylan & The Dead. This album received some very negative reviews: Allmusic said, "Quite possibly the worst album by either Bob Dylan or the Grateful Dead."
After performing with these musical permutations, Dylan initiated what came to be called The Never Ending Tour on June 7, 1988, performing with a tight back-up band featuring guitarist G. E. Smith. Dylan continued to tour with this small but constantly evolving band for the next 20 years.
In 1987, Dylan starred in Richard Marquand's movie Hearts of Fire, in which he played Billy Parker, a washed-up-rock-star-turned-chicken farmer whose teenage lover (Fiona) leaves him for a jaded English synth-pop sensation (played by Rupert Everett).
Dylan also contributed two original songs to the soundtrack -- Night After Night, and I Had a Dream About You, Baby, as well as a cover of John Hiatt's The Usual. The film was a critical and commercial flop.
Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1988, with Bruce Springsteen's introductory speech declaring, "Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body. He showed us that just because music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual.
When Dylan released the album Down in the Groove in May 1988, it was even more unsuccessful in its sales than his previous studio album.
Michael Gray wrote: "The very title undercuts any idea that inspired work may lie within. Here was a further devaluing of the notion of a new Bob Dylan album as something significant."
The critical and commercial disappointment of that album was swiftly followed by the success of the Traveling Wilburys. Dylan co-founded the band with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty, and in the fall of 1988 their multi-platinum Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 reached number three on the US album chart, featuring songs that were described as Dylan's most accessible compositions in years.
Despite Orbison's death in December 1988, the remaining four recorded a second album in May 1990, which they released with the unexpected title Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.
Dylan finished the decade on a critical high note with Oh Mercy produced by Daniel Lanois. Dylan critic Michael Gray wrote that the album was: "Attentively written, vocally distinctive, musically warm, and uncompromisingly professional, this cohesive whole is the nearest thing to a great Bob Dylan album in the 1980s."
The track Most of the Time, a lost-love composition, was later prominently featured in the film High Fidelity, while What Was It You Wanted? has been interpreted both as a catechism and a wry comment on the expectations of critics and fans.
The religious imagery of Ring Them Bells struck some critics as a re-affirmation of faith.
Dylan's 1990s began with Under the Red Sky (1990), an about-face from the serious Oh Mercy.
The album contained several apparently simple songs, including Under the Red Sky and Wiggle Wiggle. The album was dedicated to Gabby Goo Goo; this was later explained as a nickname for the daughter of Dylan and Carolyn Dennis, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan, who was four at that time.
Sidemen on the album included George Harrison, Slash from Guns N' Roses, David Crosby, Bruce Hornsby, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Elton John. Despite the stellar line-up, the record received bad reviews and sold poorly.
In 1991, Dylan was honored by the recording industry with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The event coincided with the start of the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, and Dylan performed his song Masters of War.
Dylan then made a short speech that startled some of the audience.
The next few years saw Dylan returning to his roots with two albums covering old folk and blues numbers: Good as I Been to You (1992) and World Gone Wrong (1993), featuring interpretations and acoustic guitar work. Many critics and fans commented on the quiet beauty of the song Lone Pilgrim, penned by a 19th-century teacher and sung by Dylan with a haunting reverence. In November 1994 Dylan recorded two live shows for MTV Unplugged. He claimed his wish to perform a set of traditional songs for the show was overruled by Sony executives who insisted on a greatest hits package.
The album produced from it, MTV Unplugged, included John Brown, an unreleased 1963 song detailing the ravages of both war and jingoism.
[Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland, which includes his version of Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower]
Bob Dylan - All Along the Watchtower (performed by Jimi Hendrix)
Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower initially appeared on his album John Wesley Harding. It has been covered by other performers, most notably by Jimi Hendrix on Electric Ladyland.
The song was recorded as a quiet, menacing three-chord folk song on November 6, 1967, at Columbia Studio A, Nashville, Tennessee. Accompanying Dylan, who played acoustic guitar and harmonica, were Charlie McCoy on bass guitar and Kenneth Buttrey on drums.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience began to record their version of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower on January 21, 1968, at Olympic Studios in London.
According to engineer Andy Johns, Jimi Hendrix had been given a tape of Dylan’s recording by publicist Michael Goldstein, who worked for Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman. “(Hendrix) came in with these Dylan tapes and we all heard them for the first time in the studio”, recalled Johns.
According to Hendrix’s regular engineer Eddie Kramer, the guitarist cut a large number of takes on the first day, shouting chord changes at Dave Mason who had turned up at the session and played guitar. Halfway through the session, bass player Noel Redding became dissatisfied with the proceedings and left. Mason then took over on bass. According to Kramer, the final bass part was played by Hendrix himself.
Kramer and Chas Chandler mixed the first version of All Along The Watchtower on January 26, but Hendrix was quickly dissatisfied with the result and went on re-recording and overdubbing guitar parts during June, July, and August at the Record Plant studio in New York.
Engineer Tony Bongiovi has described Hendrix becoming increasingly dissatisfied as the song progressed, overdubbing more and more guitar parts, moving the master tape from a four-track to a twelve-track to a sixteen-track machine. Bongiovi recalled, “Recording these new ideas meant he would have to erase something. In the weeks prior to the mixing, we had already recorded a number of overdubs, wiping track after track. (Hendrix) kept saying, ‘I think I hear it a little bit differently.’”
The finished version was released on Electric Ladyland in September, 1968. Hendrix’s obsessive re-working of the song transformed it from a quiet acoustic ballad to a pyrotechnic display of Hendrix’s guitar virtuosity. The single reached number five in the British charts, and number 20 on the Billboard chart.
Notably, never in the many revisions did Hendrix correct his misstating of the lyrics, particularly in the first verse, where Dylan's final couplet, "none of them along the line / know what any of it is worth," becomes a nearly incomprehensible phrase, variously reported as "None will level on the line / Nobody of it is worth," "no one will level on a mine / Nobody of it is worth." In various recorded live performances, as well, Hendrix repeated the revisions or at times simply failed to sing through the couplet.
Dylan has described his reaction to hearing Hendrix's version: "It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn't think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day."
In the booklet accompanying his Biograph album, Dylan said: "I liked Jimi Hendrix's record of this and ever since he died I've been doing it that way... Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it's a tribute to him in some kind of way." Hendrix's version was featured in the movies Withnail and I, Rush, Private Parts,
Forrest Gump, A Bronx Tale, Vegas Vacation, Tupac: Resurrection and the 2001 remake of Brian's Song and also in television shows such as The Simpsons.
The song has also been performed by U2, the Dave Matthews Band, Prince, Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, Bryan Ferry, Pearl Jam, Gov.t Mul, Indigo Girls, and John Mellencamp.
Lyrics to the Jimi Hendrix version:
There must be some kind of way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
Theres too much confusion
I cant get no relief
Businessman they drink my wine
Plow men dig my earth
None will level on the line
Nobody of it is worth
No reason to get excited
The thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke but uh
But you and I weve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hours getting late
All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Bare-foot servants to, but huh
Outside in the cold distance
A wild cat did growl
Two riders were approachin
And the wind began to howl
All along the watchtower
Hear you sing around the watch
Gotta beware gotta beware I will
All along the watchtower
Reg Presley (born Reginald Maurice Ball, June 12 1941) is an English singer-songwriter. He is best known as the lead singer with prominent 1960s rock and roll band The Troggs, whose biggest hit was Wild Thing. He was born in Andover, Hampshire, UK.
His most famous composition is Love Is All Around. When this song was covered by Wet Wet Wet in 1994, it stayed at #1 in the UK Singles Chart for fifteen weeks.
In 1990 Presley began to develop an interest in the paranormal, in particular crop circles. He used the royalties from the Wet Wet Wet cover of Love Is All Around to fund his research into the area and outlined his findings in a book, Wild Things They Don't Tell Us, which was published in October 2002.
The Troggs are an English rock band from the 1960s that had a number of hits in Britain and the USA. Their most famous songs include Wild Thing, Love Is All Around, and With a Girl Like You.
Fronted by Reg Presley, The Troggs were from the town of Andover in southern England, and were originally called The Troglodytes.
Wild Thing is a hit song written by New York City-born songwriter Chip Taylor and originally recorded by The Wild Ones in 1965.
The song is best known for its 1966 cover by the English band The Troggs, which reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1966. The song charted one position lower in Britain, reaching #2.
George Clinton (born July 22, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer and the principal architect of P-Funk. He was the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s and early 1980s, and began his work as a solo artist in 1981. He has been called one of the most prominent innovators of funk music, along with James Brown and Sly Stone. Clinton became a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, after being inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
Parliament was a funk band most prominent during the 1970's. It and its sister act Funkadelic, both led by George Clinton, began the funk music culture of that decade.
David Clayton-Thomas (born David Henry Thomsett; 13 September, 1941) is a Canadian musician and singer. As the lead vocalist for the band, Blood, Sweat & Tears he rose to fame, and maintained a busy solo career over the years as well.
Blood, Sweat & Tears (also known as "BS&T") is an American music group, originally formed in 1967 in New York City. Since its beginnings in 1967, the band has gone through numerous iterations with varying personnel and has encompassed a multitude of musical styles. What the band is most known for, from its start, is the fusing of rock, blues, pop music, horn arrangements and jazz improvisation into a hybrid that came to be known as "jazz-rock." Unlike "jazz fusion" bands, which tend toward virtuostic displays of instrumental facility and some experimentation with electric instruments, the songs of Blood, Sweat & Tears merged the stylings of rock, pop and R&B/soul music with big band, while also adding elements of 20th Century Classical and small combo jazz traditions.
"Spinning Wheel" is the title of a popular song from 1969 (see 1969 in music) by the band Blood, Sweat & Tears. The song was written by band member and vocalist David Clayton-Thomas and appears on their self-titled album.
Released as a single in 1969, "Spinning Wheel" peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July of that year, remaining in the runner-up position for three weeks.
In August of that year, the song topped the Billboard easy listening chart for two weeks.
It was also a crossover hit, reaching #45 on the US R&B chart.
"Spinning Wheel" was nominated for three Grammy Awards at the 1970 ceremony, winning in the category Best Instrumental Arrangement. The arranger for the song was band member and saxophonist Fred Lipsius. It was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year; the album won the Grammy for Album of the Year.
Clayton-Thomas was quoted as describing the song as being "written in an age when psychedelic imagery was all over lyrics...(i)t was my way of saying, 'Don't get too caught up, because everything comes full circle'."
The song ends with the 1815 Austrian tune "O Du Lieber Augustin" ("The More We Get Together" or "Did You Ever See A Lassie?") and drummer Bobby Colomby's comment: "That wasn't too good," followed by laughter from the rest of the group. Most of this section and the trumpet solo were edited out for the single version. The eight-bar piano solo which precedes the trumpet solo on the album version is overlapped with guitar on the single version before the last verse.
Among artists who have covered "Spinning Wheel" are Shirley Bassey, who included the song on her 1970 album Something, and Nancy Wilson, who covered it in the Hawaii Five-O episode "Trouble in Mind," which originally aired September 23, 1970.
In 1983, Graham & Brown launched a television advertising campaign for their wallpaper Super Fresco, set to the tune of "Spinning Wheel" (albeit slightly modifying the original phrasing) -- "what goes up, must come down. Super Fresco makes it easy, it's by Graham & Brown"
Chubby Checker (b. Ernest Evans October 3, 1941, Spring Gulley, SC) is an American singer-songwriter best known for popularizing the dance style Twist with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard's R&B hit The Twist. In September 2008, The Twist topped Billboard's list of the most popular singles to have appeared in the Hot 100 since its debut in 1958.
Ernest Evans was raised in the projects of South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived with his parents and two brothers.
By age eight Evans formed a street corner harmony group and, by the time he entered high school, learned to play the piano as well as entertain his classmates by performing vocal impressions of popular entertainers of the day, such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Fats Domino.
One of his classmates and friends at South Philadelphia High School was Fabiano Forte, who would become a popular singer of the late 1950's and early 1960's as Fabian.
After school, Evans would entertain customers at his various jobs, including Fresh Farm Poultry on Ninth Street and at the Produce Market, with songs and jokes, and it was his boss at the Produce Market, Tony A., who gave Evans the nickname "Chubby."
The storeowner of Fresh Farm Poultry, Henry Colt, was so impressed by Ernest's performances for the customers that he, with his colleague and friend Karl Mann, who worked as a song-writer for Cameo-Parkway Records, arranged for young Chubby to do a private recording for American Bandstand host Dick Clark. It was at this recording session that Evans got his stage name from Clark's wife, who asked Evans what his name was. "Well", he replied, "my friends call me 'Chubby'". As he had just completed a Fats Domino impression, she smiled and said, "As in Checker?" That little play on words ('chubby' meaning 'fat', and 'checkers', like 'dominos', being a game) got an instant laugh and stuck, and from then on, Evans would use the name "Chubby Checker."
Checker privately recorded a novelty single for Clark in which the singer portrayed a school teacher with an unruly classroom of musical performers. The premise allowed Checker to imitate such acts as Fats Domino, Frankie Avalon and The Chipmunks, each singing Mary Had a Little Lamb. Clark sent the song out as his Christmas greeting, and it received such good response that Cameo-Parkway signed Checker to a recording contract. Titled The Class, the single became Checker's first release, charting at #38 in the spring of 1959.
Checker introduced his version of The Twist in July 1960 on The Clay Cole Show, a local New York City television program broadcast live from Palisades Amusement Park. The Twist went on to become the only single to top the Billboard Hot 100 twice, in two separate chart runs (Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" had done so on Billboard's earlier chart).
"The Twist" had previously peaked at #16 on the Billboard rhythm and blues chart, in the 1959 version recorded by its author, Hank Ballard, whose band The Midnighters first performed the dance on stage. Checker's "Twist", however, was a nationwide smash. The song was so ubiquitous that Checker felt that his critics thought that he could only succeed with dance records typecasting him as a dance artist. Checker later lamented:
"...in a way, "The Twist" really ruined my life. I was on my way to becoming a big nightclub performer, and "The Twist" just wiped it out.. It got so out of proportion. No one ever believes I have talent."
Despite Checker's initial disapproval, he found follow-up success with a succession of up-tempo dance tracks and produced a series of successful dance-related singles, including "The Hucklebuck" (#14), "The Fly" (#7), "Dance the Mess Around" (#24), and "Pony Time", which became his second #1 single. Checker's follow-up "twist" single, "Let's Twist Again", won the 1961 Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Solo Vocal Performance. A 1962 duet with Dee Dee Sharp, "Slow Twistin'", reached #3 on the national charts. "Limbo Rock" reached #2 in the fall of 1962, becoming Checker's last Top Ten hit.
Checker is the only recording artist to place five albums in the Top 12 all at once. The performer has often claimed to have personally changed the way we dance to the beat of music, as when he told Billboard, "Anyplace on the planet, when someone has a song that has a beat, they're on the floor dancing apart to the beat. And before Chubby Checker, it wasn't here." Clay Cole agreed: "Chubby Checker has never been properly acknowledged for one major contribution to pop culture -- Chubby and the Twist got adults out and onto the dance floor for the very first time.
Before the Twist dance phenomenon, grownups did not dance to teenage music."
In 1964, he married the Dutch Catharina Lodders, who was Miss World in 1962. Checker continued to have Top 40 singles until 1965, but changes in public taste ended his hit-making career. He spent much of the rest of the 1960s touring and recording in Europe. The 1970s saw him become a staple on the oldies circuit, including a temporary stint as a disco artist. In 1983, he fathered a daughter, Mistie, with Pam Bass. Mistie Bass is currently a professional women's basketball player in the WNBA.
His material during his 1960's heyday was recorded for Cameo-Parkway Records and along with the label's other material, became unavailable after the early 1970's because of the company's internal legal disputes. For decades, almost all compilations of Checker's hits consisted of re-recordings. A dance-floor cover version of The Beatles' Back in the U.S.S.R. was released in 1969 on Buddah Records, but only charted at #82. It was Checker's last chart appearance until 1982.
He also recorded a psychedelic album in the early 70's that was initially only released in Europe.
Originally the album was named Chequered!, but renamed New Revelation in later releases.
To this day, Checker dislikes talking about the album.
Despite his mixed feelings towards his biggest hit single, Checker has always been able to capitalize on its enduring popularity. In 1987, he recorded a new version of "The Twist" with rap trio The Fat Boys. The lyrics to this new version implied he was pleased with his association with it. Checker also sang the song in a commercial for Oreo cookies in the early 1990s. In 2008, he performed "The Twist" in venues ranging from the Daytona 500 to The Opie and Anthony Show.
In 2002, Chubby Checker protested the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his hit The Twist receiving lack of airplay, claiming that "Peppermint Twist receives more airplay." Seymour Stein, president of the Rock Hall's New York chapter and member of the nomination committee, claimed "I think that Chubby is someone who will be considered. He has in certain years."
In 2008 Chubby Checker's The Twist was named the biggest chart hit of all time by Billboard magazine. Billboard looked at all singles that made the charts between 1958 and 2008.
Checker had a #1 single on Billboard's dance chart in July 2008 with Knock Down the Walls. He also continues to perform on a regular basis.
[8941 Simon / 8941 Dylan / 8941 Kantner]