It was June 9th, 1978. I don’t remember much more than that. Heck, at this point I’m lucky enough to remember what happened last month, let alone every little nuance of something that happened thirty-five years ago. I do remember that I was on the verge of being nine years old that summer, and the reason I most likely was oblivious to what was going on was probably because there were reruns of The Incredible Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard on television that night.
But somewhere 2,500 miles to the west of my home in Easton, Pennsylvania history was being made. June 9th, 1978 was the day when a town of 25,000 strong became a household name. It was the day when boxer (and Easton resident) Larry Holmes beat Ken Norton to become the WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Over the next seven years, whenever Holmes would defend his title, it was a holiday in Easton. Newspaper articles, television, man on the street… you name it. Wherever you went, from the back alleys and corner bars on South Side to center court at the high school gym, everyone was talking about the Easton Assassin and whether or not he would vanquish his next foe and emerge victorious.
But in those days, I wasn’t worried one bit about Larry losing the title. I knew he’d always take care of business in the ring. No, my favorite part of the entire night was listening to his introduction:
“From EASTON, PENNSYLVANIA…… THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD…LARRY HOLMES!!!!“
Hearing that announcement come out of my parent’s 19″ color television was something that made me feel special. I mean let’s face it, you’d always hear big city names like New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles being announced on television, but you’d never hear anyone say “Easton, Pennsylvania”. It was a surreal moment, because they weren’t just talking about Larry Holmes, they were also talking about ME!
After listening to them announce Larry and my hometown over the airwaves, I’d often wonder how many people around the country were tuning in and asking themselves where the hell Easton was. And even more importantly: that if someone like Larry Holmes already hailed from Easton, what other greatness would soon be coming out of there?
Larry Holmes not only gave us “Eastonians” a voice, he gave us hope and inspired us to be the best we could be. To know that we had a man who carried the weight of our small community with him to every fight was the best feeling in the world. I still remember proudly wearing my black “Easton Assassin” t-shirt, and was even lucky enough to go to school with Larry’s daughter, Lisa.
In a world where MMA fighting has become the norm, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how great things once were. But consider this: Larry Holmes held the boxing title from 1978-1985. He won his first 48 professional bouts (coming one shy of tying Rocky Marciano’s record). His victories over Muhammad Ali, Gerry Cooney, Earnie Shavers, Ken Norton, Mike Weaver, Tim Witherspoon and Marvis Frazier simply can’t be ignored.
After losing the title and a rematch to Michael Spinks (and when many people in the sport believed he should have been finished), Holmes made several comeback attempts.
He fought a young Mike Tyson when Tyson was a monster in the ring (and before he had started acquiring a taste for auditory organs). Larry then managed to add even more victories and title shots to his record (including falling short in a split decision to Evander Holyfield), before ultimately retiring for good.
But perhaps the greatest thing that makes Larry a champion to me was the fact that rather than hit the road for greener pastures once success came calling, he decided to stay in Easton and invest much of the money he earned from the ring into his hometown.
Holmes was instrumental in developing restaurants, nightclubs, a training facility and even an office complex in the town he gave credit to each and every time he stepped into the ring. In his honor, the city of Easton fittingly changed the name of Riverside Drive, the main thoroughfare that connects the Pennsylvania and New Jersey borders, to “Larry Holmes Drive”. An apropos gesture, because Larry Holmes connected us.
Some people might be able to boast about having a Hollywood star or a musical genius in their hometown while growing up, but not many can say they have a champion and a legend. I can.
Zakk Wylde has pretty much done and seen it all — and tonight he’ll take the stage at New York City’s Iridium Jazz Club, aka “The Home of Les Paul,” to pay tribute to the legendary guitarist and inventor.
Wylde, known for his incredible six-string skill, work ethic and custom bullseye-painted Gibson Les Paul, was recently invited to perform with the Les Paul Trio at the Iridium tonight, June 10, as a tribute to the late guitarist.
The Iridium celebrates its patron saint (who performed there weekly for more than a decade until his passing in 2009), every Monday night by inviting special guest guitarists to sit in with the trio.
Wylde’s appearance at the Iridium include two additional shows — June 11 and 12 — during which the Black Label Society guitarist will perform acoustic versions of his own material and host a Q&A session and read from his book, Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berzerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination, which recently was released in paperback.
Following his performances, Wylde is scheduled to return home and complete Unblackened, a DVD filmed at the Nokia Theater that also coincide with an accompanying CD. Black Label Society will then begin gearing up for this year’s Gigantour, which features Megadeth, Newsted and other metal greats.
I spoke with Wylde about his Iridium shows and Les Paul. We also discussed his days with Ozzy and Sharon Osborne, two people he still affectionately refers to as “the Boss” and “Mom.”
Check out the rest of my Guitar World interview with Zakk Wylde by Clicking Here
Her solo career has yielded six albums that have topped the Contemporary Jazz charts, along with producing 10 No. 1 radio singles.
But saxophonist Mindi Abair is definitely no stranger when it comes to rock and roll. A product of the public school music program, Abair has shared the stage with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Duran Duran.
But it was Abair’s performance as part of the American Idol band that caught the attention of then-Idol-judge (and Aerosmith frontman) Steven Tyler, and ultimately led the band to add its first sax player in 30 years for last summer’s Global Warming Tour.
On Abair’s latest album, Summer Horns, she’s joined by fellow saxophone greats Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot in covering some of the greatest songs of a generation; including infectious renditions of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” as well as others made famous by the likes of Chicago, Tower of Power and Sly & the Family Stone.
Abair also is busy with her next solo album project and was recently elected president of the LA Chapter of NARAS, the company that oversees the Grammy Awards.
I spoke with Abair about Summer Horns and her time on the Aerosmith tour. We also discussed the importance of keeping music-education opportunities alive in schools.
Read the entire interview by Clicking Here.
For more information on Mindi Abair and Summer Horns, check out her website:
“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
Written and directed by Scott Stewart, Dark Skies begins with an eerie quote from British author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke and goes on to suggest that there is no pending alien invasion. The fact is, they’ve been here among us all along.
Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton play Lacy and Daniel Barrett, a suburban middle-class couple whose peaceful existence is shattered when their family becomes the target of a terrifying, unknown force.
Daniel’s been recently let go from his job as an architect and has been struggling to find work, leaving Lacy (a real-estate agent) as the sole bread-winner trying to sell houses in an already volatile market.
Adding to the stress, son Jesse (Dakota Goyo) is in full pubescent mode; dabbling in watching soft core porn and keeping company with an older malcontent. While youngest son Sam (Kadan Rockett) seems to be content with just trying to rehabilitate an injured lizard.
But it’s not until something begins rearranging items in the Barrett’s kitchen, scaring Sam and setting off the burglar alarm that the family realizes something is wrong. This is followed by rumors of being visited by “The Sandman”, unexplained blackouts, bruises and flocks of birds dive-bombing the family home. Then there’s the discovery of a creepy child drawing which only reinforces the true horror of the unknown.
The question as to whether or not the family is alone is finally answered when the Barrett’s reach out to paranormal expert Edwin Pollard (J.K. Simmons), who himself has been tormented by the same alien beings.
There are quite a few homages to past horror/suspense classics scattered throughout Dark Skies: including kitchen rearrangement (Poltergeist); child communication with the unknown presence (The Shining) and cameras throughout the house (Paranormal Activity). But regardless of paying tribute to old hat, Dark Skies shines on its own by relying more upon the build up of tension and less on the standard “boo” pablum.
It’s the emphasis of the Barrett’s vulnerability that makes the supernatural events they experience all the more real. And as could be the case with any typical 21st century family faced with financial crisis, one has to take into consideration whether or not Clarke’s argument is really valid after all.
Dark Skies is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Special features include feature commentary with writer/director Scott Stewart as well as an alternate ending.
Maxine Petrucci likes to call what she does “evolved music.”
The former Madam X guitarist [and sister of former Vixen drummer Roxy Petrucci] has taken much of what she’s learned from the ’80s and ’90s to a completely different level. It’s a sound and style some may find not suitable for the “commercial” world, but Petrucci says that suits her just fine.
Bassist Billy Sheehan has called Petrucci “a true rarity, a lady who has powerful command of her instrument and her voice.” Rick Derringer cites Petrucci’s guitar playing as “masterful” and has referred to her right-hand picking technique as “the hummingbird effect, so fast, it’s a blur.”
Continuing to forge her own path, Petrucci’s third solo album, Back to the Garden, is an eclectic mix of riff and shred, one that will make even the most jaded critic stand up and take notice. Her new band features Imminent Sonic Destruction members Pat Delon (drums) and Bryan Paxton (bass), plus guitarist Rachel May (Broadzilla).
I spoke with Petrucci about Back to the Garden, her time spent with her sister in Madam X and much more.
GUITAR WORLD: Tell me about Back to the Garden.
This is my third solo album, and it’s completely different from anything I’ve done before. I don’t have a label, so I have the luxury of doing what I want to do when I feel like doing it. For Back to the Garden, I wrote all of the songs and did all the guitars, bass and vocals. Pat Deleon wrote and played the drum parts, and Gaetano Di Falco illustrated the album cover
Bonus: Know which famous metal singer once fronted Madam X
before hitting the skids? Then read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Maxine Petrucci – Click Here
Styx’s new DVD/Blu-ray, Styx: Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight — Live, captures the band performing their two classic multi-platinum ’70s albums live in their entirety for the very first time.
The DVD, which was filmed at the historic Orpheum Theater in Memphis, is the ultimate showcase for the albums helped establish Styx as a global phenomenon and defined their sound for a generation of fans.
I spoke with Styx guitarist James “JY” Young about the new project, plus his early days, seeing Jimi Hendrix perform and the future of Styx.
GUITAR WORLD: How did this project get started?
It started as a notion that a promoter who’s close with our manager came up with. He had the idea of us performing the Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight albums live in their entirety in the order in which they originally appeared on the vinyl LPs using the latest in HD technology. For us, it was an experiment and also a way to give our real die-hard fans the chance to hear some songs that we had never played live before, and some others we haven’t played since the late ’70s.
Read my Guitar World interview with Styx’s JY Young by Clicking Here
Greg Howe and I have a few things in common. First, we have a mutual interest in a certain instrument and both cut our teeth playing music in clubs in the Lehigh Valley, PA area. But that’s pretty much where our similarities end. While I remained, Howe went on to score major success with his fretboard prowess; releasing critically acclaimed albums and supporting some of the biggest names in music. Now, Howe finally gets the chance to return to his roots with his new band, Maragold.
Together with bassist Kevin Vecchione, drummer Gianluca Palmieri and powerhouse vocalist Meghan Krauss, Maragold’s debut album is a refreshing change to the monotony that is the current state of music. Bluesy, tasty and soulful are just some of the adjectives that describe an album that’s reminiscent of summer and demands to be turned up.
I spoke with Howe to discuss the new album, working with a female vocalist and his days playing the Lehigh Valley. Howe also lets me in on the real secret to becoming a successful guitarist.
How did you hook up with Meghan?
Meghan was gigging on the east coast in some cover bands and Kevin had heard of her. He was doing some gigs there as well in the Philly area. He went to check her out one night and thought she was great, so he had her come over to his apartment to do some recording. He sent me a picture of her and at the time, I had never even considered having a female in the group. But after he had sent me the recording that was it.
Check out the rest of my Guitar World interview with Greg Howe by Clicking Here.
Guitarist Frank Turner’s preferred method of swaying people to his cause is just getting in front of them and playing. With his upcoming Guitar Center Sessions, he gets the opportunity to showcase for the world. Filmed during his hectic SXSW schedule, the show not only includes performances by Turner and his band but also an in depth interview Turner as well.
Since leaving the band Million Dead and going solo in 2005, Turner has released four acclaimed albums and played more than 1,400 live shows. His recently released fifth album, Tape Deck Heart is one of emotional revelation and change. It’s the kind of album Turner says he’s always wanted to make.
I spoke with Turner about the Guitar Center Sessions as well as his new album and one of his most memorable shows.
GUITAR WORLD: What can you tell me about your Guitar Center Sessions appearance?
It was filmed in the middle of SXSW and the schedule I was on was hectic. There was one day where we played a show in Austin in the afternoon, and then we flew to Denver for a breakfast show and then flew back to Austin for two more gigs. Throughout my career, the way things have gone for me is getting out there and playing, and that’s what we’re doing with this Sessions performance. Getting in front of people so anyone around the world can watch it. There’s also an in-depth interview session we also did which was great.
You can read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Frank Turner by
What’s all the hub bub about these periodical cicadas? Legend has it that once every seventeen years, these little buggers come out from their little hole in the ground, make a bunch of racket to attract a mate and then disappear for another seventeen years or so.
Well, we’re well past their arrival time here in the northeast and so far, I haven’t seen a single one. Curious, I decided to do a little research and find out a little more about them. I got this information from Wikipedia:
Magicicada is the genus of the 17-year periodical cicadas of eastern North America. Although they are sometimes called “locusts”, this is a misnomer as cicadas belong to the taxonomic order Homoptera, while locusts belong to Orthoptera.
Magicicada spend most of their 17-year lives underground feeding on xylem fluids from the roots of deciduous forest trees in the eastern United States. After 17 years, mature cicada nymphs emerge at any given locality, synchronously and in tremendous numbers. After such a prolonged developmental phase, the adults are active for about 4 to 6 weeks The males aggregate into chorus centers and attract females for mating. Within two months of the original emergence, the life cycle is complete, the eggs have been laid and the adult cicadas are gone for another 17 years.
What a boring description. I’ve always been more into relating something with sociology rather than science. So I suppose that’s why this funny thought occurred to me. Even though I’ve yet to see one of these little creatures, I began to contemplate the possibility of their behavior pattern existing in humans.
Think about it. What if a man lived in his man cave and only ventured out once every seventeen years for a little nook-nook? As long as the bills were paid and the lawn was mowed, I wonder how many married women would mind?
The pattern would probably go something like this:
Dude comes up from downstairs after watching nearly two decades worth of Fast and Furious movies and sports. He starts singing a Justin Bieber tune (an annoying sound similar to the one the bugs produce). Then the woman says, “It’s been seventeen years already? Oh, alright! You’ve got ten minutes. But then you better get your ass back downstairs and not come back until your kid graduates high school.”
It could happen.
A musical prodigy from as early as age three, singer/songwriter Frankie Moreno is a modern-classical genius who’s resume not only includes scoring #1 hits on multiple Billboard music charts, but also serenading industry VIPs like Paul McCartney, performing on the hit ABC show “Dancing With The Stars” and traveling all over the world in search of songwriting inspiration. In between, he still manages to find time to headline his own successful show in Las Vegas to enthusiastic crowds.
For his latest single Angel Town, Moreno discovers a happy medium by mixing the elements of classical, pop and rock genres into one eclectic groove. With an infectious dance beat combined with a tinge of big band sound, “Angel Town” is already a huge success. Moreno is currently working with songwriting powerhouse Diane Warren on new material for an album expected to be released later this year.
I spoke with Frankie about “Angel Town”, his songwriting inspiration and more in this exclusive interview.
Tell me how the song “Angel Town” came to be.
I write a lot with my brothers, Tony and Ricky. We take trips all over the world and bring along our guitars to become inspired and write music together. We were in Vienna, Austria walking around the city and at that time, I had been doing a lot of traveling back and forth to LA from Las Vegas. I began thinking about the way the whole LA scene works; with everyone wanting to be famous and that whole idea of a guy with the big cigar sitting at the bar watching the band play and saying “Hey kid? I can make you a star!” I wound up writing that song in about 30 minutes and we came home and recorded it.
You’re now in the studio with Diane Warren working on new material. What’s it like working with her?
It doesn’t get any better. Diane is an awesome person. She writes the greatest power ballad love songs of all time. Right now, she’s over in London working with Adele. For me to have the opportunity to work with her is amazing.
Tell me how you got on Dancing With The Stars.
The whole cast of the show came and saw my show one night and one of them took a video of me performing “Tangerine Honey”. They sent it over to ABC and three weeks later, I was on the show. Lacey Schwimmer choreographed the entire dance around it.
Let’s discuss your upcoming PBS Special.
We start filming in mid-summer and it will probably be out towards the end of the year. The special will feature our songwriting and traveling around the world just to write music. It begins in Santa Cruz, California where I’m from, then travels the world as we take the songs we write and bring them back to put them on the stage in Vegas.
You also performed for Paul McCartney. How did that come about?
Joshua Bell, a classical violinist asked me to play on his record and we did a version of Eleanor Rigby. After we recorded the song, it became a #1 single and eventually got the attention of Paul, who invited us to play it for him at a private event. It was an amazing experience. Paul McCartney is what every songwriter aspires to be.
Were you always into music?
By the time I was three, I was already playing piano. I was really into Mozart and when I five, I started taking lessons to learn how to read music. Around that same time, the movie “Amadeus” came out as well as “Great Balls of Fire”. I remember wanting to be Mozart, but also wanted to be Jerry Lee Lewis too! [laughs]. So I began thinking of ways to combine being technically good along with the rock and roll fun and doing all of the tricks.
Tell me more about traveling the world to write songs and how you got started.
My brothers and I have been doing it for about five years now. I remember when I first heard about how the Beatles used to go to India, I wanted to see what it was all about. The thing is, we don’t just travel to countries for fun. We like to go to places where musical or artistic events have taken place. Like, sitting where Michelangelo used to paint; or going to Mozart’s house, or sitting on the park bench that Beethoven used to sit on. Maybe not the exact same bench, but in that same spot. You can feel and pick up on the creative energy that’s there.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m shooting for a fall, early winter release of my album and will be putting out a few more singles until then. I recently won headliner of the year in Vegas and really want to start touring the US. The band is awesome and we have such an eclectic group of fans. Word of mouth is really pushing “Angel Town” and in a way, it’s kind of old school. Like the way it was done back in the 50′s. The music business is a fun thing to be a part of. I’m going to leave my little stamp on it and see how far I can take it.
For More on Frankie Moreno, check out his official website by Clicking Here