Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Want To Buy Pink Floyd's Flying Pig Algie? Too Late

As one of the most iconic images of rock, Algie, the inflatable pig which famously flew over London's Battersea power station for Pink Floyd's Animals album cover, was set to be a star lot at an upcoming auction.

But days after British auctioneers Durrants listed it as part of a catalog of inflatable props its maker was selling, Algie is no longer on offer -- going back to the band instead.

The inflatable, which broke free during the 1976 cover shoot, grounding flights at Heathrow airport, has been withdrawn from sale after props builder Air Artists offered it to Pink Floyd.

"The pig is going back to Pink Floyd. They want it home again," Rob Harries, owner of Air Artists, told Reuters.

Durrants had listed Algie among Air Artists' works, used in music concerts and promotions but now being cleared out, for its Sept. 5-15 sale drawing coverage from numerous media outlets.

"We made a list of all the inflatables that we weren't going to store anymore ... and the auctioneers jumped the gun a bit and started publicizing the most iconic one," Harries said.

"I felt I'd better talk to Pink Floyd, which I duly did and they duly wanted it back, unsurprisingly."

Harries said Algie, which has a "big split" but could be repaired and displayed, would be returned to the group's management company. "There's often lots of talk of a Pink Floyd exhibition maybe this will be a spur for it to happen," he said.

Inflatables still in auction include Herman, the pig's head from Roger Walter's 1990 The Wall concert in Berlin, and Freddie Mercury and Brian May caricatures for Queen's 1986 The Magic Tour. Dominic Parravani of Durrants said the auctioneers had "no idea" how much the items would fetch.

Air Artists, whose work has been used by AC/DC and Rolling Stones, is selling the items as Harries, after some 40 years of inflatable-making, now focuses clay and wax sculpture.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Steve Howe and Steve Hackett's GTR Album To Be Reissued

Esoteric Recordings are proud to announce the official release of a double disc deluxe edition of GTR, the self-titled 1986 album by Steve Hackett and Steve Howe’s band GTR.

GTR was formed in 1985 following guitarist Steve Howe’s departure from Asia. Teaming up with the equally legendary guitarist Steve Hackett, GTR was assembled with the addition of vocalist Max Bacon, bassist Phil Spalding and drummer Jonathan Mover.

The band’s sole album was produced by Geoff Downes and issued in July 1986. It became a Top 20  album in the U.S. and was also in the Top 50 in England. Two singles drawn from the record ("When the Heart Rules the Mind" and "The Hunter") were also hits in the States.

Although a short lived group, GTR also toured to promote the album (with the addition of Matt Clifford on keyboards) performing material from the album, as well as songs such as ‘Roundabout’ and ‘I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe),’ made famous by Yes and Genesis respectively. Although GTR ceased to exist as a band in 1987, the group’s sole album is an important moment in rock music of the 1980s.

This new edition has been newly remastered and includes a bonus 14-track CD of GTR live in Los Angeles in July 1986. There are also three bonus tracks taken from promotional 12-inch singles of "When the Heart Rules the Mind" and "The Hunter," two of which appear on CD for the first time.

This expanded deluxe edition of GTR also includes a booklet that fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Paul McCartney: "I Feared For My Own Life After John Lennon Was Killed'

Paul McCartney has admitted that he feared for his own life after John Lennon was killed.

The former Beatle said he was on "high alert" when Mark Chapman gunned down Lennon outside his New York home in 1980.

But McCartney said his own home in rural south England was still largely unprotected and in a remote woodland location.

He said he was left terrified days after the killing when he spotted several armed men advancing on the property.

McCartney told Uncut:"It was weird because in the days that followed it, I was sitting in the house. We had a little perimeter fence, mainly to keep foxes out, because we had some chickens. I'm aware of security threats, so I'm on high alert and I look out and I see someone with a fucking gun, like a machine gun, an assault rifle - 'Wha?!' He's in full military gear, and then I see there's a whole patrol of them. I'm going, 'Holy shit, what's going on?'."

He added: "I don't know what I did. I think I rang the police. It turned out to be army manoeuvres. (They said) 'Oh, sorry. Are these your woods?' I'd put two and two together and made a thousand. God, I don't know how I lived through it. You think you'd just faint dead on the ground. But they were all there, coming through these woods."

McCartney recently admitted that he felt "frustrated" by the change in public perception of Lennon following his death.

He added: "Post-Beatles George did his record, John did his, I did mine, Ringo did his. We were equal. When John got shot, aside from the pure horror of it, the lingering thing was, OK, well now John's a martyr. A JFK."

"So what happened was, I started to get frustrated because people started to say, 'Well, he was The Beatles'. And me, George and Ringo would go, 'Er, hang on. It's only a year ago we were all equal-ish'."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Walter Trout To Headline Inaugural Urban Blues Festival In Los Angeles

Blues guitarist Walter Trout is set to headline the inaugural Urban Blues Festival in Los Angeles this Saturday, August 29. The event, which benefits Ascencia, will be staged at Raleigh Studios (5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90038), and begins at 11:00 AM.  Joining Trout will be Guitar Shorty, Trout Brothers Band, Arthur Adams, The Americans, The Scorch Sisters, Little Faith, and Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton. 

"You know we are all struggling in this life,  trying to do well, " Trout says. "Some people have it better than others. This is a great cause for the folks who have slipped through the cracks and are homeless in our society. I have been there myself in the past a couple of times. It’s a great cause. All the money that is raised will go to the Ascencia Foundation. I hope you will come out, listen to the music, have a great day with us, and you can know in your heart that this is for a great cause – you will be doing something good.”

On October 23rd, Trout's next studio album titled Battle Scars will be released. With bristling energy, unflagging virtuosity and lyrics that cut to the core of human hope and willpower, Trout says the title chronicles his horrific battle with liver failure. The songs capture the international guitar hero on a new high — playing and singing at the peak of his abilities, infusing even his darkest numbers with creative joy that sweeps like a beacon.

"I’m thrilled about this album, about my life and about my music,” says Trout, who returned to the stage in June at the prestigious Lead Belly Festival in London’s Royal Albert Hall. “I feel that I’m reborn as a songwriter, a singer, a guitarist and a human being. I have a new chance at being the best musician and the best man that I can be. And I’m incredibly happy and grateful.”

Contrast that to early 2014, when Trout was lying in a hospital bed without the strength to move or speak, unable to recognize his own children, as he observed  his body waste away. But on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014, Trout underwent liver transplant surgery and the slow process of healing began.
“At first I wasn’t  strong enough to play a single note on the guitar, but as I regained my strength,  the music came back to me," Trout recalls. "Now when I pick up the guitar, it is liberating, joyful, and limitless. I feel like I’m 17 again.”

Trout is now moving triumphantly forward in his 50th year as a guitarist. He is in the midst of a global tour with his band: keyboardist Sammy Avila, drummer Michael Leasure, and new bassist Johnny Griparic, who joined in time to record Battle Scars in Los Angeles’ Kingsize Soundlabs with Trout’s longtime producer Eric Corne.

“I don’t take this lightly,” Trout declares. “Marie says that all of the people who donated to our fundraiser for my medical expenses” — which generated more than $240,000 – “bought stock in me and my liver. When I play for them now, I have a responsibility to give back and offer the very best that I have.”

More information about the Urban Blues Festival can be found at www.UrbanBluesFest.com.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Beatles' First Recording Contract Up For Auction

The Beatles' first recording contract was signed in Hamburg, Germany, where the band honed its craft playing gigs in the city's boisterous nightclub district.

The 1961 recording session produced the single "My Bonnie." It was released on the Polydor label in Germany only and never hit the top charts. But the tune led directly to the Beatles' discovery back home, a contract with EMI the following year and their first hit, "Love Me Do."

Heritage Auctions will auction the six-page contract in New York on Sept. 19 for an estimated $150,000. It's the centerpiece of a Beatles collection spanning the band's entire career. It's being sold by the estate of Uwe Blaschke, a German graphic designer and noted Beatles historian who died in 2010.

"Not many people know that the Beatles started their careers in Germany," said Beatles expert Ulf Kruger. "The Beatles had their longest stint in a club in Hamburg at the Top Ten Club. They played there three months in a row, every night. The style they invented in Liverpool, they cultivated in Hamburg."

"Without this contract all of the pieces wouldn't have fallen into place," added Dean Harmeyer, Heritage's consignment director for music memorabilia, who said the band was "a ramshackle, amateur band" when they first went to Germany. "They were probably a C class in the pantheon of Liverpool bands."

But their stints in Hamburg between 1960 and 1962 changed that.

"It really is where they honed their musical skills to become the Beatles," he said. "They set about learning new material, they worked on their instrumental abilities."

But it was "crazy luck" that got them to Hamburg, he said.

Their booking agent fortuitously ran into a club owner looking for rock 'n' roll bands to perform in his Hamburg nightclub. The Beatles were not the agent's first choice and wound up going only after other bands declined.

When the Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and original drummer Pete Best — were later hired to be the backup band for British singer/guitarist Tony Sheridan at the Top Ten Club, German record producer Bert Kaempfert signed them and Sheridan to record a rock 'n' roll version of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."

"My Bonnie" netted the Beatles about $80. It was credited to "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Boys" because Kaempfert felt the name "Beatles" would not cut it with Germans.

"The Beatles didn't care what they were signing as long as it was for a recording contract," said Kruger.

The only copies that made it out of Germany initially were the ones sent to the Beatles back home in Liverpool, England. After a local club disc jockey got his hands on one and started playing it, music fans began asking for it. That got the attention of Liverpool record shop owner Brian Epstein, who decided to hear them perform at the Cavern Club.

"He immediately sees their potential. He tells them 'I want to manage you and I'll make you successful'" — and he did, going on to secure them a record contract with EMI, Harmeyer said.

"Every great collector wants their collection to be illuminative of the subject, and Blaschke's collection does this so well largely because it also covers the German period," he said. "It covers everything else. He's got stuff from Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road'and the later things ... but he's got this great trove of things that are specific to Hamburg.

That's really where the story started ... it's where they really become the Beatles."

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Other highlights and their pre-sale estimates include:

— A 1962 autographed copy of "Love Me Do," the first single recorded with Ringo. $10,000.

— A 1960 postcard Ringo sent to his grandmother from Hamburg. $4,000.

— A Swiss restaurant menu card signed by the Beatles while they were filming "HELP" in 1965. $12,000.

— A set of four psychedelic posters by Richard Avedon commissioned by the German magazine Stern in 1966. Estimate: $5,000.

The auction comes on the 55th anniversary of the Beatles' first trip to Hamburg and 50 years after the Fab Four's record-breaking performance at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York.