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RockNotes: Sammy Hagar vs. Les Paul

1. Thursday's Velvet Revolver show at the Riviera is sold out. Why? Maybe it's because no less an expert than Sammy Hagar says they're "the best rock 'n' roll band left on the planet." That kind of endorsement I'm sure sent the fans a'running to their nearest Ticketmaster outlet. It assumes there were only a finite number of rock 'n' roll bands to begin with. Perhaps Sammy thinks they stopped making them after Scott Weiland's Stone Temple Pilots broke up. Now Weiland's got fellow hard rock dinosaurs Slash and Duff with him in Velvet Revolver, so everybody else who believes there hasn't been any good rock since Axl jumped the shark can rejoice this week. Oh, and keep in mind Sammy also endorsed the Bush-Cheney campaign. I guess that means they're the best ol' leaders left on the planet.

2. The controller for the new video game Rock Band will be shaped like a Fender Stratocaster. Players will score game-winning points by smashing it to bits just as they finish up the "Stairway to Heaven" solo. Then they pay about $500 for a new one in order to start the next game. The makers say Rock Band allows you "deeply interact" with the music. Really? Can't you also do that by, say, turning up the stereo really loud, wiggling your hands and jumping around like an idiot - for free?

3. Meanwhile, the man who invented a real guitar, Les Paul, is playing a gig this week in his hometown, Waukesha, Wis. They're honoring him up there on the occasion of the release of a documentary about the man, Chasing Sound: Les Paul at 90. Here's the description of the film provided by its producers:

"The legendary Les Paul, father of the solid-body electric guitar, inventor of overdubbing and multi-track recording, king of the '50s pop charts, rock 'n' roll pioneer, tells his own rags-to-riches story in a performance-documentary by filmmakers John Paulson and James Arnts - with a wall-to-wall soundtrack of the greatest hits from 'Hold That Tiger' to 'My Generation.'

"An artful blend of interviews, vintage film and television clips, recordings, radio show excerpts, still photographs, advertising art, personal memorabilia and a rich variety of location B-roll illustrate Mr. Paul's narrative and examine his accomplishments in the distinctive in-depth style of American Masters.

"Les Paul has been 'chasing the perfect sound' since his boyhood in Waukesha, Wisconsin, when he punched new chords into his mother's piano roll and turned his bedsprings into a radio antenna which would pull in the raucous jazz broadcasts from Chicago and the lonesome harmonica from the Grand Old Opry.

"Irascible, egotistical, indefatigable, an inveterate tinkerer and practical joker, he's the last of that self-educated, brilliantly innovative generation of musicians and media pioneers who revolutionized popular music and re-invented the global culture."

Wow. A bedspring antenna powerful enough to pull in WGN back in the '20s. Now that's an accomplishment that has to be right up there with that whole solid-body thing.

Comments? Contact Don Jacobson at don@beachwoodreporter.com.

*

1. From Scott Buckner:
I was reading today's BR Music article - did Les Paul really invent the solid-body guitar? The Smithsonian may want to disagree. Check out the Rickenbacker Electro Hawaiian (the Frying Pan) from 1931, made out of a solid piece of wood. So would this then be considered the first commercially-produced solid-body electric guitar?

The R&R Hall of Fame says Les didn't build his first guitar until 1941; the Gibson Les Paul didn't come out until 1952.

No big deal - just sayin'.



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Posted on May 9, 2007


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