RIVER SPOTLIGHT

    The River’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash 2017

    The River’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash 2017 was a huge blowout!  If you missed the fun, check out the pics!

    LISTEN: Dennis DeYoung Podcast

    Dennis talks about his time with the band STYX and share his thoughts on rock and the music business. 

    This Day in Rock History

    Music News

    Chester Bennington died by hanging, coroner confirms

    The Los Angeles County coroner confirmed Friday that Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington died by hanging.

    Coroner's office spokesman Ed Winter says the 41-year-old rocker hanged himself from a bedroom door in his home near Los Angeles.

    Bennington was found dead Thursday.

    Winter says a half-empty bottle of alcohol was found in the room, but no drugs were evident. Bennington struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life.

    A suicide note was not found.

    An autopsy has not yet been scheduled.

    Bennington was one of two lead vocalists for Linkin Park, who became one of the most commercially successful acts of the 2000s. They won countless awards, including Grammys, and their hits include "In the End," ''What I've Done" and "Numb."

    'Jersey Boys' nostalgia fades, but the 'Hit Men' play on

    Five years ago, some musicians who had played with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons during his comeback in the 1970s rounded up some of their friends, slicked back what hair they had left and set out on a tour to capitalize on the success of Broadway's "Jersey Boys."

    "It was kind of, 'Let's see if this works. If not, we'll have fun; it'll be great, and we'll try it a couple of times,'" keyboardist Lee Shapiro said this week as the group prepared to play a show at the New Jersey shore.

    Today, the Hit Men are showing no signs of slowing down. They have played hundreds of shows across the country — including at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort — and have gigs booked through next May.

    Along the way, they've overcome the deaths of two group members and the fading of the "Jersey Boys" phenomenon to carve out a niche in the lucrative pop music nostalgia universe. "Jersey Boys" is a jukebox musical chronicling Valli's career.

    The calling card of the Hit Men is their decades of experience and musicianship honed while touring and recording with a who's who of rock's golden era. It's a list that includes Elton John, Carly Simon, Todd Rundgren, Journey, Cheap Trick, Rod Stewart, the Ramones, Lou Reed, Jim Croce and Chicago.

    "It's a type of music that's very popular with our audiences," said David Filner, vice president for musical operations at Artis_Naples, in Naples, Florida, which has booked the Hit Men several times. "They put on a great show, and they have a very interesting story because they've been involved in so many super groups."

    Songs from some of those collaborations form the backbone of the shows, each accompanied with a backstory. Guitarist Jimmy Ryan, for example, recounts how his interest in a female co-worker at a Greenwich Village record store was thwarted because she was dating his boss. But the two kept in touch and when the co-worker, Simon, needed a guitar player for her first album, she reached out, beginning a musical partnership that lasted more than 20 years.

    Shapiro is the group's last direct link to Valli. Drummer Gerry Polci, famous for his vocals on the Four Seasons hit "December 1963 (Oh What A Night), left the group last year. Don Ciccone, also one of the Four Seasons in the '70s, helped form the Hit Men and performed with them until his death last year at age 70.

    The group also lost Larry Gates, a friend of Shapiro's since childhood and a longtime session bassist who backed Carole King and numerous others, to multiple myeloma last December. His replacement, Jeff Ganz, has a lengthy musical resume that includes playing with the late, legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter and disco icons The Village People.

    Drummer Steve Murphy and singer-keyboardist Russell Velasquez knew each other from extensive vocal session work in New York doing commercial jingles and other projects. Velasquez, the band's chief onstage prankster and audience-engager, is also an Emmy-nominated composer and arranger for his work on Sesame Street. Murphy has played behind dozens of major pop and rock acts and, like Velasquez, is a powerhouse vocalist as well.

    "One of the reasons the singing is so good is that none of us ever stopped, and that's a really crucial factor," said Ryan, 70. "If you retire for 30 years and try to start singing again, it's a muscle just like your bicep and it's going to be really hard to get going again, to have that range. Our voices have remained kind of young — we don't sound like we look."

    Valli still tours with his own group. As "Jersey Boys" wound down — it ended an 11-year Broadway run in January — the Hit Men gradually tweaked their set list to reflect the band members' varied associations, though they still perform two Four Seasons medleys and a few individual songs.

    Their next project is to release a new song, "You Can't Fight Love," penned by Ryan.

    How long can this go on?

    "Until it can't," Murphy said.

    "If we win the lottery, we'll just do this more conveniently," Shapiro said. "But we'll still do it."

    ___

    Contact Porter at https://www.twitter.com/DavidPorter_AP

    Kaedy's Conversations

    The Moody Blues are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of “Days of Future Passed” by playing it in its entirety Sunday night at Chastain Park

    Kaedy and The AJC’s Melissa Ruggieri talked with John Lodge about the tour, future plans for the Moodys and John solo, and John’s own brand of wine!

    Listen to the full interview:

    Kaedy and the AJC’s Melissa Ruggieri spoke with singer Michelle Berting Brett of “We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered,” performing a tribute concert at Chastain Saturday July 15.

    The commemorative show not only recreates the sounds of the Carpenters, but also paints an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the most successful recording acts of all time by sharing stories from those who were close to the brother and sister duo.

    The Tedeschi Trucks Band performs at The Fox Theatre Saturday, July 15. Kaedy Kiely is pictured with Derek Trucks in the late 1980’s when Derek played on the concert stage with The Allman Brothers Band for the first time.

    Kaedy and the AJC’s Melissa Ruggieri spoke to Derek recently about his return to The Fox Theatre stage with wife Susan for the first time since the celebration of Col. Bruce Hampton’s 70th birthday there earlier this year where Bruce passed away.

    Kaedy and the AJC’s music reporter Melissa Ruggieri recently spoke to Peter Frampton about his summer tour which hits Verizon Amphitheater July 16th for The River’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash with The Steve Miller Band! Hear him talk about his work on the rock ‘n roll movie classic, Almost Famous, and his friendship with Gregg Allman (who hadn’t passed yet at the time of this interview.)

    Listen to the full interview.

    Kaedy talked to John Oates about his new memoir, Change of Seasons, and his tour with Daryl Hall, and Tears for Fears that comes to the Infinite Energy Center on Sunday, June 11.

    You can meet John Oates at his book signing this Saturday at Taco Cowboy on June 10th!

    Listen to the full interview.

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