The Hollies kick off 50th Anniversary tour

British Invasion pop legends The Hollies are celebrating their 50th anniversary with an ambitious 41-date tour of their native Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Norway and Germany and the band promises more dates to come, according to its website. Alas, no American dates are as yet on the docket and there's no word whether original member Graham Nash will join the band for any performances.

The sextet led by singer-guitarist Tony Hicks, 67, and drummer Bobby Elliott, 71, who both joined early in 1963 and are considered original members, begin their year-long tour with a gig this Wednesday in Palmersmith, New Zealand. The final date set thus far is Nov. 10 in Milton Keynes, England, northwest of London.

Even though the group's first gig as The Hollies took place in December 1962 at the Oasis Club in Manchester, and they performed at Liverpool's fabled Cavern Club in January 1963, Elliott told Noise 11 that he considers the actual anniversary date to be the month of March 1963 when the band first recorded at Abbey Road.

The Hollies' American Top 40 invasion began in 1965 with Graham Gouldman's "Look Through Any Window" and included Top 10 smashes "Bus Stop," "Stop Stop Stop," and "Carrie Anne." The British Invasion ended, but hits by the band didn't. In 1969, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" reached No. 7 and they were back again with a No. 2 classic, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" in 1972, and one more time two years later, in 1974, with a ballad that went to No. 6, "The Air That I Breathe." The Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Over this past holiday season, Elliott and Hick led an all-star group in a re-recording of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" that benefitted a group of charities associated with the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. (A human crush at a soccer match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield, England, resulted in the deaths of 96 fans and injuries to 766 others.) Other stars participating included Paul McCartney, who sang and played guitar as well as British superstar Robbie Williams, former Clash co-leader Mick Jones, The Spice Girls' Mel C, The Pogues frontman Shane McGowan, former Frankie Goes to Hollywood leader Holly Johnson, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, and McCartney's Liverpool mate, former Gerry and The Pacemakers leader Gerry Marsden. The single was the No. 1 hit of the 2012 British Christmas season.

The song and its official video can be seen and heard on The Hollies website and on YouTube and can be purchased as a download or import CD single on Amazon.

 

The Who to kick off second leg of US tour in SoCal

After taking the holidays off, The Who is kicking off the second leg of its American tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of the band's classic 1973 rock opera, "Quadrophenia." The band is playing the iconic double-album in its entirety. This 17-date leg of the tour begins Monday at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Other dates include Jan. 30 at Staples Center, and Feb. 5 at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. The band is performing a couple gigs at, for them, the rather intimate 4,100-seat Joint at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas on Feb.8 and 10.

 

Barry Gibb to launch solo tour

Barry Gibb, the sole surviving member of The Bee Gees, will play his first full concerts since the death of his younger brother Robin, who died last May of cancer at 62. Gibb, 66, will play five concerts throughout February in Australia, where they lived and first found fame; and one gig in New Zealand on Feb. 23 with Carole King. The brief tour begins Feb. 8 in Sydney.

On Feb. 14, Gibb will attend the unveiling of a statue of The Bee Gees in Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia, where the brothers grew up.

In a recent interview with New Zealand's TV One, Gibb said that his often-contentious relationship with Robin was at a low point prior to his passing. He said he hadn't spoken to Robin for more than a year before flying from his home in Miami to England to be by his bedside in the days before he died.

Of the tour, an excited Gibb said, "It's returning to where we used to play - not music, just as kids. And going back to Australia and seeing the place (Redcliffe) where we first lived when we emigrated there."

On being the last Bee Gee, he said, "Being in the position in life where I suddenly have no brothers is very strange for me because I'm the eldest. All my brothers (Robin and his twin Maurice, who died in 2003 and youngest pop star brother Andy, who died in 1988) were younger than me and it shouldn't be that way."

 

Jagger says Stones won't play Coachella

Despite several clues offered by both The Rolling Stones and the organizers of the Coachella music fest in Indio, the band is will not headline the fest on April 12. Mick Jagger told Britain's NME (New Musical Express), "We're not gonna do Coachella, cuz it's too early. There was a rumor we were gonna do that one, but it's very early, Coachella. It's April or something, isn't it? And we're not gonna be ready to by April. But we're not gonna stop." So far, the band has not set any dates this year.

Speculation ran high that the would indeed headline the SoCal fest because the band temporarily listed the place and date on their own mobile app and the fest's Facebook page shows a photo of a large round stone alone in the field where the annual event takes place.

 

Fleetwood Mac & Billy Joel to headline New Orleans Jazz Fest

Fleetwood Mac and Billy Joel have both been off the road in recent years, but they will each headline the venerable New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest, April 26-May 5. It's Joel's only scheduled concert this year. The Mac is embarking on its first tour since 2009, a 35-concert jaunt of the US and Canada that includes stops on May 25 at the Hollywood Bowl and May 28 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Other veteran acts set in New Orleans include Hall & Oates, Dave Matthews Band, Earth Wind & Fire, B.B. King, Jimmy Cliff, Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, George Benson, Jeffrey Osborne, Patti Smith, Ben Harper with Charlie Musslewhite, The Mavericks, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The Stanley Clarke-George Duke Project, Roy Ayers, The Wayne Shorter Quartet, Taj Mahal, Dianne Reeves, The Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra, The Joshua Redman Quartet, Jerry Douglas, Widespread Panic, The Gipsy Kings, The Del McCoury Band with New Orleans icons The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

In addition, The Black Keys, John Meyer, Maroon 5, Little Big Town, hot young guitarist Gary Clark, Jr., Andrew Bird, Band of Horses, and New Orleans guys Trombone Shorty, Tab Benoit, zydeco scion Rockin' Dopsie, Jr. and Frank Ocean will play.

The legendary Big Easy performers set for the fest are clarinetist Pete Fountain, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Queen Ida, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Meters with Ziggy Modeliste and guest Page McConnell, roots rockers The Iguanas, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Cajun band BeauSoleil with Cajun singer-accordionist Jo-El Sonnier.

In other Fleetwood Mac news, singer Stevie Nicks will pair with hot country act Lady Antebellum in an upcoming episode of CMT's "Crossroads" series that features country acts with veteran rock and pop stars. The airdate hasn't been set. Nicks follows fellow Mac member Lindsay Buckingham, who teamed with Little Big Town on a 2006 episode. Other past teamings were Brooks & Dunn with ZZ Top in 2002, Wynona Judd and Heart ion 2004, Taylor Swift and Def Leppard in 2009, and Faith Hill and The Pretenders in 2011.

 

Justin Hayward's solo album

Justin Hayward, the singing-guitar playing leader of The Moody Blues will release his first solo album in 17 years on Feb. 26, according to a release posted on his website. The 15-track CD, "Spirits in the Western Sky," his first since The View From the Hill" in 1996, was recorded in two very different locales, Nashville and Genoa, Italy.

Hayward co-wrote a song for the album with his friend Kenny Loggins. "He and I were both on the road and staying in the same hotel. We had a great day playing guitar together and we came up with `On the Road To Love.' Kenny plays and sings on the track with me."

The album's orchestrations come courtesy of Oscar-winning composter Anne Dudley ("The Full Monty"), who was a main member of Brit `80s synth-popsters Art of Noise.

 

New Eric Burdon album

Eric Burdon, former singer for British Invasion band The Animals, will release his first solo album in seven years on Tuesday. The 12-song "Til Your River Runs Dry," shows that the 71-year-old blues-rock belter's voice that gave distinction to such `60s classics as "Don't Bring Me Down," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and "Sky Pilot" remains unchanged.

The new CD follows a four-song blues-rock EP he recorded late last year with Cincinnati-based garage band The Greenhornes, some of whom comprised the rhythm section of the Jack White band, The Raconteurs. This activity comes after undergoing back surgery to relieve a problem that bothered him for years.

Burdon, who still tours as Eric Burdon and The Animals, has seven upcoming gigs, including a show on Feb. 2 at the fabled Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, the site of Buddy Holly's, Richie Valens' and The Big Bopper's last performance, and at the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon on April 21.

 

Dave Grohl's supergroup plays Sundance

Foo Fighter's singer-guitarist Dave Grohl directed the documentary, "Sound City," about the Van Nuys recording studio where his former band, Nirvana" recorded their 30-million-selling grunge classic, "Nevermind" in 1991.

To commemorate the screening of the film at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, the 44-year-old assembled an all-star group of singers and musicians, The Sound City Players, who also recorded at Sound City to play a gig at the fest, reports Rolling Stone.

The band consisted of The Foo Fighters, his Nirvana bass-playing bandmate Krist Novoselic and members of Rage Against the Machine, Queen of the Stone Age, Fear leader Lee Ving, and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, Slip Knot lead singer Cory Taylor, and guests Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty and Rick Springfield.

Highlights of the four-hour bash included Ving and Nielsen running through Cheap Trick's "Surrender," Nicks fronting The Mac's "Landslide," Springfield leading on "I've Done Everything for You" and "Jessie's Girl," Fogerty on "Born on the Bayou," "Bad Moon Rising" and a duet with Grohl on "Fortunate Son."

"Sound City's" L.A. premiere is set for Jan. 31 at the historic Cinerama Dome on Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. Immediately after the screen Grohl and his entire Sound City Players contingent will perform its second concert a couple blocks away at the even more famous Hollywood Palladium.

Ritchie Valens' tribute set "A Tribute to Ritchie Valens - The Day The Music Died 54 Years Later" is set for Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet, a venue with a reputation for presenting concerts in Santa Fe Springs, California, near the Orange County line, according to producer-musician Rj Rodriguez.

Rock and roll pioneer Chan Romero will be a featured performer. Romero wrote and recorded the first hit version of "Hippy Hippy Shake" in 1959. Romero's single was a modest hit here, but hit No. 3 in Australia. In the summer of 1963, British Invasion band The Swinging Blue Jeans took the song into the Top 5 in the U.K. and to No. 21 here. The Brit band's fellow Liverpool pals, The Beatles, made it a concert staple with a screaming lead vocal by Paul McCartney. A live Beatles take can be heard on their "Live at the BBC" double album. "Romero's song was also covered by the likes of The Monkees' Davy Jones, The Georgia Satellites and English glam rockers Mud, who saw it reach No. 8 on the U.K. singles chart.

Other performers include former Cannibal and The Headhunters ("Land of 1000 Dances") member Robert Zapata; El Chicano singer Gilbert Stokes; drummer-percussionist Bobby Figueroa, who was a touring member of The Beach Boys from 1973-1988; Mark Guerrero of `60s East L.A. surf band Mark & The Escorts and a later member of Native American band Redbone ("Come and Get Your Love"); and Valens' cousin, singer Ernie Valens.

 

 

Tom Morello on E Street

Former Rage Against the Machine guitar wizard Tom Morello, who also performs and records as protest-song folkie The Nightwatchman, will become a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, at least temporarily.

Morello will fill in for guitarist and actor "Little" Steven Van Zandt when Springsteen and his band tour Australia, playing nine concerts between March 14-31. Van Zandt is the star of the Netflix TV series "Lilyhammer," about a New York City mobster who testifies against a gangster pal so he hides out in the small Norwegian city that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics and tries to begin a new life. Filming the series second season will interfere with the tour so Van Zandt is out and Morello is in. However, Springsteen's lifelong sidekick will be back when the Boss and his band tour the UK and Europe beginning on April 29 in the real Norwegian town of Fornebu.

 

 

New Releases

Among the recently released albums, digital reissues and deluxe box sets are the live 2-CD, "12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief" with, among others, The Who, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Billy Joel; a compilation from Joel, "She's Got a Way: Love Songs"; "Transition," from Toto guitarist Steve Lukather; and a 2-CD, "At the End of Cole Ave - 1st Night" from The Velvet Underground; "The Very Best of The Pogues"; and a bunch of remastered import Eddie Money CDs.

"Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter," is the first studio album in 17 years from the colorful London New Wave dandy; "La Costa Perdida," the eighth studio album since 1985 from Redlands alt rockers Camper Van Beethoven and its first in eight years; "Honky Tonk Man: Buck Sings Country Classics" from Buck Owens; and two bargain reissues ($4.99 on Amazon) of 12-track "Gold Vaults of Hits" and "2nd Vault of Golden Hits" from The Four Seasons.

"True North," the 16th studio album in 31 years from venerable LA punks Bad Religion; "My True Story," sees New Orleans icon Aaron Neville covering the songs that helped mold him, including Clyde McPhatter and The Drifter's 1953 hit "Money Honey," and Leiber & Stoller's "Ruby Baby" that was a hit for The Drifters in 1956 and then Dion in 1963, and the 1958 Little Anthony & The Imperials" smash "Tears on My Pillow."

Box sets include a four-CD package, "Beginnings," from Blackmore's Night, led by former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and his singing spouse Candace Night.

 

Now Playing

Classic acts from the `50s, `60s and `70s continue to perform. Here's what one of them is doing.

 

William "Smokey" Robinson is one of the most important singer-songwriter-producers in the history of pop music. As the frontman of The Miracles (and later Smokey Robinson and The Miracles) with the falsetto with the heavy vibrato he recorded dozens of pop and R&B hits beginning with "Shop Around" in 1960 and continuing with classics like "The Tracks of My Tears," "Going to a Go-Go," "Ooh Baby Baby," "I Second That Emotion" and "The Tears of a Clown," but he was chief songwriter and producer of the songs as well.

He also wrote or co-wrote other Motown standards, including Mary Wells' "My Guy," The Temptations' "My Girl" and "Get Ready," The Marvelettes' "Don't Mess With Bill," Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" and "I'll Be Doggone," The Four Tops' "Still Water" and The Contours' "First I look at the Purse."

After leaving The Miracles in 1972, he scored big with hits like his song, "Being with You" in 1981 and "Just to See Her" in 1987. His most recent album, "Time Flies When You're Having Fun," made it to No. 10 on the R&B chart in 2009.

At age 72, Robinson is still going strong. He and Stevie Wonder headlined both of President Obama's official Inauguration Balls and he also performed at the Martin Luther King celebration at the Kennedy Center. He's got 19 concerts on his docket through 2013 so far, including on May25 at Buffalo Bill's Hotel and Casino in Jean, Nevada near the California state line and on Nov. 9 at the Eastside Cannery in Las Vegas.

Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. Like, recommend or share the column on Facebook. Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.