Spanish Stroll – Mink DeVille – 1977

September 27, 2012

The shortness of this blog post in no way reflects the talent of the man; Willy DeVille and his band, Mink DeVille produced some fine music including the 1977 hit, Spanish Stroll.

one man band

Mink DeVille was really a fronting band for the music of Willy DeVille (aka Billy Borsay). Formed in San Francisco in 1974, the original members played on the first two albums only. Following those, Willy hired various musicians to record and tour.

punk is born

Willy and his band moved to New York in the mid-70s. Because they went on to become one of the original house bands at CBGB, the New York nightclub where punk rock music was born, they are often associated with punk and referred to as a punk band. They weren’t really – far more soul and R ‘n’ B than punk; and very good at it.

the name

There’s an urban legend that tells about Willy’s choice of his band name – Mink DeVille. The story goes that a reporter enquired as to why he chose the name. He answered that he always thought the ultimate in cool would be a mink-lined Cadillac Coup de Ville.

Apparently the story’s not true – but there is no doubt, Willy was cool!

willy rip

Willy died of pancreatic cancer in New York on August 6, 2009. He was 58 years old

spanish stroll fax

  • Spanish Stroll was taken from the 1977 album Cabretta.
  • The album Cabretta was produced by legendary producer Jack Nitzsche – who said Willy was the best singer he’d ever worked with.
  • Spanish Stroll was a top 20 hit in the UK.
  • Spanish Stroll lyrics.

spanish stroll – mink deVille – 1977 – video

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The Ballroom Blitz – The Sweet – 1973

September 20, 2012

The Sweet’s 1973 hit Ballroom Blitz is, by some, considered the best Glam Rock song ever.

name dropping

So, there I am, just yesterday, interviewing Shane for a newspaper article. Now, many of you won’t know who Shane is but down this part of the world he was THE man in late 60s and early 70s rock ‘n’ roll. Scoring a number of hits, he earned a gold record for St Paul, a song about Paul McCartney.

Anyway, turns out Shane, who’s still rockin’ strong, is a 70s music encyclopaedia. We talked about everyone. He told me about touring with The Bee Gees (who he said were wonderful people and musicians), he told me about losing his gold record (never seen again), and then we began talking about Glam Rock. And we talked about who is THE Glam Rock band.

Of Course, I opted for Marc Bolan but Shane insists it was The Sweet (sometimes just called, Sweet). I bit my tongue but, maybe Shane is correct because, on the way home, I heard The Ballroom Blitz on the radio – could it be the Glam Rock gods were speaking to me?

the sweet

Originally known as The Sweetshop, Sweet formed in the UK in 1968. Having started life as a bubblegum band, they morphed to harder rock and, by the 70s, they’d bought platform shoes, sparkly shirts and teamed up with prolific songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.

They went on to have 13 top 20 UK hits including;

  • Block Buster! – 1973 – #1
  • Ballroom Blitz – 1973 – #2
  • Hell Raiser – 1973 – #2
  • Teenage Rampage – 1974 – #2
  • Fox on the Run – 1975 – #2
  • Their last top 10 hit was Love is Like Oxygen in 1978.

In 1979 lead singer, Brian Connolly, left to pursue a solo career. The band continued as a threesome for a short while but disbanded in 1981.

but you can’t keep a good sweet down

Since then two members of The Sweet have died. Brian Connolly, according to my new mate, Shane, lived a tragic life due to chronic alcoholism which killed him in 1997. Drummer Mick Tucker died of leukaemia, in 2002.

Today the two remaining members tour in different versions of the band. Andy Scott’s band is based in the UK, while Steve Priest’s is based in the USA.

the ballroom blitz fax

  • The Ballroom Blitz (sometimes called Ballroom Blitz) was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.
  • Ballroom Blitz was released in 1973 – it never appeared on an album in the UK – nor did their #1 single, Blockbuster!
  • Ballroom Blitz hit #1 in Australia and entered the UK chart at #2 where it peaked.
  • In the USA and Canada, Ballroom Blitz was included on the USA/Canadian version of Desolation Boulevard. It hit #1 in Canada and #5 in the US.
  • Inspiration for Ballroom Blitz came from a performance the band gave in Kilmarnock, Scotland where they were driven offstage by a barrage of bottles.
  • Artists to have covered the song include: The Les Humphries Singers (1975), The Damned (1979), Beastie Boys (a sample on Hey Ladies), and My Chemical Romance (they mimic the “sound-off” introduction to the song).
  • In 2000, Ballroom Blitz was used in a French movie called, La Vie Ne Me Fait Pas Peur. It’s about a group of girls who don’t speak English – the only words they know are “Ballroom Blitz.”
  • Quentin Tarantino considered using this song in the ear scene in his movie Reservoir Dogs but chose Stealers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You.
  • Ballroom Blitz lyrics.

the ballroom blitz – the sweet – 1973 – video

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Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo – Rick Derringer – 1973

September 13, 2012

He’s recorded with some of the biggest acts around but the 1973 hit Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo remains Rick Derringer’s only solo Top 40 hit.

he gets around does that rick

Rick Derringer, or Richard Zehringer as his parents named him, has played with some of the big names in rock.

It all began with his band, The McCoys. That’s right, he and his brother Randy were in the band whose big hit was Hang On Sloopy! In 1966 they were the support band for The Rolling Stones’ US tour.

In the 1970s Rick recorded and toured with both Johnny Winter and his brother Edgar Winter. He recorded extensively with Steely Dan. It’s his slide guitar you can here on songs like, Show Biz Kids, and Chain Lightning.

He also appeared on Alice Cooper‘s 1971 album Killer, opened for Led Zeppelin on their last American tour and played guitar on several Todd Rundgren albums.


Through all this time Rick has been haunted by his one and only US hit – Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo. For all he’s done in the world of rock, this song continues to define his career.

rock and roll, hoochie koo fax

  • Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo was written by Rick Derringer and first recorded by Johnny Winter with Rick in the background.
  • Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo was recorded by Rick as a solo version in 1973. It peaked at #23 on the US singles chart.
  • Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo is from Rick’s debut album All American Boy. He has recorded several live versions over the years.
  • Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo has been covered by Van Halen, Suzi Quatro and a number of lesser known bands.
  • Rick solo version of Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo has appeared in several films including: The Spirit of ’76, Rush, Dazed and Confused and What A Girl Wants (2003).
  • Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo lyrics.

rock and roll, hoochie koo – 1973 – rick derringer – video

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Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd – 1974

September 6, 2012

Once described as the most requested song of all time, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1974 release Freebird is truly a rock ‘n’ roll icon.

a band from way back

Lynyrd Skynyrd could easily be the unluckiest rock band of all time. They formed way back in 1964 and played various clubs and bars for years before being jettisoned to fame on the release of the 1973 album, Pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd. It featured the songs, I Ain’t the One, Gimme Three Steps, Simple Man, Tuesday’s Gone and, the fabulous, Freebird which cemented the band as one of the best live bands in the world.

the unluckiest band in rock ‘n’ roll?

In 1976, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington both had serious car accidents over the same weekend. Then, on October 20th 1977, three band members were killed in an aeroplane crash. They were less than one month away from fulfilling a dream Ronnie Van Zant had held for many years – headlining at Madison Square Gardens.

Then, in 1980, Allen Collins’s wife Kathy died of a hemorrhage during a miscarriage. Six years later, Allen crashed his car while driving drunk in Jacksonville. His girlfriend was killed and he was left permanently paralysed from the chest down.

During this time the band reformed and continued to perform in various forms. Allen used to be wheeled onto stage to chat to the audience about what had happened to him. He died of pneumonia January 23rd 1990.

On July 27th 2001, Leon Wilkeson, the band’s bassist since 1972, was found dead in his hotel room. The cause was emphysema and chronic liver disease. Then, on September 9, 2007, Hughie Thomasson died in his sleep of a heart attack.

On January 28th 2009, keyboardist Billy Powell died leaving Gary Rossington as the only remaining pre-crash member of the band.


The band has won numerous awards but, on March 13th 2006, received the ultimate accolade. After being nominated seven times, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The induction included only those members at the time of the plane crash.

Lynyrd Skynyrd continues to perform today though Gary Rossington is the only original member (obviously). Ronnie’s brother Johnny is the lead vocalist.

skynyrd trivia

Lynyrd Skynyrd were discovered by Al Kooper, one time leader of Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

freebird fax

  • Freebird, or Free Bird as it’s sometimes spelled, was released as a single on November 23rd 1974. It was from the 1973 album, Pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd .
  • Freebird has been included on a number of subsequent albums including the fabulous 1976 live album One More From the Road.
  • music reviewer Lorry Fleming calls Freebird;

the most-requested song in the history of rock music.

  • In early 1975 Freebird became Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second Top 40 hit in the US, peaking at #19. The live version later peaked at #38.
  • Freebird was listed at #3 on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.
  • Even today, Freebird is used as the finale for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s live performances
  • Freebird is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and is at #193 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2009 it was named the 26th best hard rock song of all time by VH1.
  • Following the plane crash in 1977 all of the songs played by surviving members were performed as instrumentals. When FreeBird was played a solitary microphone with a single spotlight would be at centre stage while the band played the instrumental version. This tradition lasted until 1989 when Johnny Van Zant sang the song for the first time.
  • Johnny Van Zant said of Freebird,

For years Skynyrd has always closed the show with that song and the song has different meanings for different people. This kid was telling me that they used it for their graduation song and not too long ago somebody told me that they used it at a funeral. And really it’s a love song, its one of the few that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ever had. It’s about a guy and a girl. Of course at the end it was dedicated to Duane Allman from the band Allman Brothers because it goes into the guitar part. If you can get through that one you’ve had a good night at a Skynyrd show.

freebird – lynyrd skynyrd – 1974 – video

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Hal David – 1921 – 2012

September 2, 2012

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Hal David, the renowned pop music lyricist whose prolific collaboration with composer Burt Bacharach produced a wealth of enduringly memorable hits in the 1960s and early ’70s, including “Walk On By,” “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 91.

Harold Lane “Hal” David (May 25, 1921 – September 1, 2012) was best known for his collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach. He began writing lyrics in the 1940s. Then, in 1957, he met Burt Bacharach with whom he wrote some of the best known songs of the 60s and 70s.

Their songs included:

  • Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,
  • This Guy’s in Love with You,
  • I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,
  • Do You Know the Way to San Jose,
  • Walk On By,
  • What the World Needs Now Is Love,
  • I Say a Little Prayer,
  • (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me, and
  • Anyone Who Had a Heart.

They also wrote the theme songs for a number of movies including:

  • What’s New Pussycat?
  • Alfie,
  • The Look of Love,
  • Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (which won a Grammy Award),
  • (They Long to Be) Close to You, and
  • Walk On By

In 1972 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. David and Hal are members of the Grammy Hall of Fame.