The music known as "yacht rock" wasn't always thought of as such -- a subgenre of the slickest '70s soft-rock, it wasn't awarded its true place in the pop-culture pantheon until a filmmaker noticed just how chummy the Los Angeles scene in the late Seventies, how much these guys wanted to prove they had soul, and how well their music worked when you were a yuppie having a mellow get-together on your party boat. Read all about the past and recent history of "Yacht Rock" in this appreciation.
R&B began the year 1964 as a dead entity, at least as far as Billboard magazine was concerned: having considered the African-American cultural wars won, at least on the pop chart, they discontinued the "Rhythm and Blues" chart entirely, a move which lasted approximately eleven months, until someone pointed out that there was a raw, gospel-based and blues-born new entity black listeners were enjoying, one which had little to do with the latest dance crazes, girl group romances -- or, for that matter, "rock and roll." Here are the best of 1964's R&B classics.
The latest news for rock and roll, soul, pop and R&B artists of the '50s, '60s, and '70s, compiled here by your Oldies Expert at About.com.
Rufus Thomas was a showbiz vet at 30, a highly influential disc jockey at 40, and a Memphis soul man at 50 -- the "World's Oldest Teenager," responsible for a string of fun dance craze hits that led America to impersonate several different animals during funk's heyday. And the man behind "Walking the Dog" and "Do the Funky Chicken" -- and father of Carla, another Stax soulster -- hadn't even demonstrated all his talents yet. Learn all about the life, music and career of Rufus Thomas in my latest profile.
It's been used over 800 times in hip-hop, dance, pop, and rock history, making "Funky Drummer" the most sampled track in all of music history. But even James Brown knew he had something special when he led his band through a jam in late 1969, and when technology changed the way hip-hop was created, one two-bar snippet of a forgotten single suddenly became the most important thing the Godfather of Soul was ever associated with. For a while, anyway. Chart the rise and fall of "Funky Drummer" in this appreciation.
Tony Orlando and Dawn were the safe alternative to the often strange and angry entertainment of post-hippie America, guiding audiences through Vietnam and Watergate with a sound equal parts bubblegum, vaudeville, and blue-eyed soul. Not only were they one of the first ethnically diverse hit groups, they were also one of the most visible, thanks to their weekly variety and comedy show. And yet success would backfire on Orlando, leading him, in the face of tragedy, to wonder just what his decades of success had all been about. Read all about the life and career of Tony Orlando and Dawn in my latest artist profile.
As American culture seemingly imploded during its most tumultuous modern decade, rock and roll came right along with it; what had been a mere reaction to drunks and children and aliens soon descended into near-madness, not coincidentally helped along by advances in the recording studio and the New Permissiveness that didn't know a line until it was crossed. Yet like rock itself, there remained a impish childishness at its core -- which is why the monsters, ghosts, apes and birds are all here on this list as well. Here are the greatest novelty hits of the 1960s.
It was the song that validated Brian Wilson's artistic vision once and for all, a "pocket symphony" with a hefty price tag that still managed to strike a chord within the strict confines of pop radio. But while everyone that came in contact with "Good Vibrations" recognized its genius, the smash soon led its creator to take his process even further, alienating him from the band, halting their creative flow, and nearly destroying him in the process. Read all about the history and creation of "Good Vibrations" here.
When rock and roll was still in its infancy, dominated by the dynamic of puppy love, Gerry Goffin was the lyricist who helped bring teen romance into the modern era, penning lyrics to "Brill Building" hits that dealt with issues of dominance, gender roles, materialism, and sexual power. He helped create the girl-group genre almost overnight, and along with his main musical conspirator Carole King, the two wrote so many influential hits that the Beatles wanted to be them behind the pen. Read all about the legacy of the late Gerry Goffin -- and hear his contributions to music -- in this appreciation.
The year 1963 was the year R&B music died, albeit briefly -- Billboard magazine, realizing that white kids had been dancing to rhythmic blues-based music for nearly a decade already, killed what had once been the "race records" chart on November 30. It was less than a year, however, before they realized that another brand of black music had stepped in to take its place. And besides the black/white dynamic, the charts were also gonna have to start dealing with some different cities... and a different gender. Here are the greatest R&B hits of 1963,.