Billy Strange , who played guitar for Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra and on the Beach Boys ’ Pet Sounds album, died Wednesday in Nashville at age 81. Strange, a member of the great L.A. session group known as the Wrecking Crew, was perhaps best known for stepping into the spotlight on some of Nancy Sinatra’s biggest hits. He was the arranger on “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” and “Something Stupid,” the singer’s duet with her father, and his tremolo guitar was her sole accompaniment on “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” He also played on countless hit records, for Ricky Nelson, the Everly Brothers and Phil Spector, to name a few. Strange had writing credits on many songs, including Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation” and Chubby Checker’s “Limbo Rock.” He was a member of the Musicians Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. “He added raw insight to every session he sat in on,” songwriter Van Dyke Parks told the Los Angeles Times . … [Read more...] about Billy Strange, Session Guitarist for Elvis, Dead at 81
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Forty-five years ago, on Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Presley was found dead in the bathroom of his palatial Graceland estate in Memphis — officially of cardiac arrest, but the medicine cabinet of prescription drugs in his system surely didn’t help. In the decades since, reviving Presley and his legacy has become a recurring pop-culture ritual. The campaigns have included a jukebox musical, numerous reissues and lavish box sets, an EDM remix, documentaries (most recently 2018’s Elvis Presley: The Searcher ), and biopics (starring Kurt Russell and a pre- Miami Vice Don Johnson). Each time around, the attempts, even those with the best of intentions, didn’t quite do the trick of introducing Presley to a new generation: They were all preaching to the same loyal, and maturing, King choir. So when it was announced in 2019 that proudly over-the-top director Baz Luhrmann ( Moulin Rouge! ) would be next in line to make a dramatic feature out of Presley’s life, the idea of turning Gen Z and … [Read more...] about Elvis Presley Died 45 Years Ago. Has ‘Elvis’ the Movie Finally Revived Him?
Nearly 75 years ago, in January 1944, Billboard magazine published its very first country chart, topped by pop crooner Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters trio’s bubbly version of a song called “Pistol Packin’ Mama.” On Thursday night, at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, that song played on the P.A. system to herald the onstage arrival of Pistol Annies , the irresistibly sassy trio comprised of Miranda Lambert , Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley , who packed the sold-out show with traditional honky-tonk edged in swaggering rock & roll and laced with sweet gospel harmony. The trio’s first full-length show together in nearly seven years delivered 75 fiery minutes of material from all three of their albums, including the forthcoming Interstate Gospel , to the delight of a largely female crowd that was engaged and enthralled from the outset. Kicking off with the deliciously seductive new tune “ Sugar Daddy ,” which led into the fizzy, electric “I Feel a Sin Comin’ … [Read more...] about Pistol Annies Enthrall at Jubilant Ryman Auditorium Show
For the last decade, Salman Rushdie has lived with a price on his head. In 1989, the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death sentence, or fatwa, against Rushdie, claiming that the Indian-born, Muslim-raised author blasphemed Islam in his phantasmagorial novel, The Satanic Verses . Rushdie – whose other acclaimed books include Midnight’s Children and The Moor’s Last Sigh – now takes on a different sacred history, the story of rock & roll, in The Ground Beneath Her Feet (Henry Holt and Co.). It is a sprawling fable, an apocalyptic, late-twentieth-century adaptation of the mythical Greek love story of Orpheus and Eurydice, liberally spiced with allusions to real-life superstars such as John Lennon and Madonna. Echoing Rushdie’s blur of fact and fiction, U2 – who brought the writer onstage, in a gesture of solidarity against the fatwa, during a London concert in 1993 – have recorded a new song, “The Ground Beneath Her Feet,” using lyrics written by Rushdie for the … [Read more...] about Salman Rushdie