We are nearing the end of summer soon, but certainly not today in Arkansas where it’s at a nice crispy 97 degrees and my lawn is brown. Good. I get tired of mowing the lawn twice a week although I like the exercise. So with that comes the start of schools, colleges and universities across the next couple of weeks, and why not have a nice quiz to realign our brain cells for those of us who still have to use them with a brain buster. Winners this time around can wear white after Labor Day, and go to Dairy Queen to celebrate their awesome use of their gray matter. No looking up the answers on other websites this time. I saw a few of you do that last time and the penalties may be severe, such as bathing your cat.
On a more personal note, I took my dear younger sister (by 11 months) to see her best friend their whole lives in Des Moines, Iowa and our little town we grew up in outside Mason City before moving to Arkansas in 1973. My sister through circumstances none of her fault had only been up to Iowa in 1975 one time while still in junior high. Money is very tight for her and her husband, and I was glad to take her and pay the way. We bonded all over again, just the two of us, and being the music bully I am, insisting on having music actually made our trip that much more enjoyable as we played some stuff that we both liked, and I allowed her to bring her Engelbert Humperdinck CD box set, which she and Dad loved when we lived up north, and the memories were very special for her, although beyond admitting Englebert possessed a beautiful voice, his brand of pop was not my cup of tea, although I did listen to it to hear the massive difference between what we consider legendary productions such as George Martin and the Beatles and Jimmy Smith with the Rolling Stones, among many other greats like Roy Thomas Baker of Queen fame.
Engelbert was a vocalist period, so the productions were super thin on everything but his voice, the drums almost indiscernible. I guess it was how it was done for thousands of pop songs that we seldom think about in the rock and roll world, but spending time with my sister reminded me there was indeed another world of music out there selling lots of albums and had its own legions of fans as well. So a lesson in tolerance was certainly in order for me. And she surprised me by liking The Rolling Stones so much she wanted to hear them several times. I’ll have to get some of their best for her. And speaking of The Rolling Stones, I was heartbroken to learn the great Charlie Watts had passed away this week. He was a gentleman drummer and for my money, the best in rock and roll history. He will be sorely missed.
And now for the quiz.
1) Blues guitarists all recognize Muddy Waters (or they better) as King of the blues overall, but who were the Three Kings of blues?
2) Match the real names here with the “star” names we know them better by.
a) Arnold George Dorsey
b) Chaim Witz
c) Rogers Nelson
d) Simon Ritchie
e) Donald Roeser
3) What record label infamously (and stupidly) turned down the opportunity to sign The Beatles?
4) L7 is a well known all girl, or in their grunge era parlance, riot grrrrrls, band who could rock out with the best of them, including a hit album Bricks Are Heavy, but where did their name come from?
5) Stoner band Sleep released an album Dopesmoker that was remarkable for what reason? Bonus question worth upgrading your fries next time you eat out: who plays guitar for Sleep and the incredibly heavy (and great) band High On Fire?
6) Mick Jagger, as told by Keith Richards in his excellent biography Life made a terrible mistake one time by referring to late drummer Charlie Watts in what manner?
7) The trash band (no other description fits these cretins) The Mentors were as infantile and disgusting as a person could possibly get, both in their lyrics and their behavior, with a guitar player called Sickie Wifebeater, and drummer/(gag) singer Eldon Hoke who went by the charming moniker Il Duce. The music was puerile bottom of the barrel pickle drum slime metal, and they actually had some interesting fans. But The Mentors had two claims to fame: one, Il Duce’s unusual breaking on through to the other side by thinking one night while absolutely hammered could outrun a train. He lost. But the other brought national attention. What was this auspicious occasion?
8) Luciano Pavarotti once declared he liked this legendary metal band for what reason?
9) True or false: not one Black Sabbath album features a single note with a guitar string.
10) Who once claimed, and I paraphrase that rock and roll was false and silly, and played for the most part by cretinous goons, but turned around later, covered a great song and praised its composer as one of the best of the 20th century?
Okay, answer time. If you want, add an additional musical I.Q. point to yourself for each correct answer and blame the heat for the ones you missed:
1) The three kings of the blues were Albert, BB, whose initials stood for “Blues Boy”, and Freddie King.
a) Engelbert Humperdinck after a famous composer who wrote among other things a musical version of Hansel and Gretel in the late 1800’s. Dorsey’s manager claimed that using an unusual if borrowed name would make it easier for potential fans, 99.9999999% of them women, easier to remember.
b) Gene Simmons of KISS.
c) Prince. This was too easy, I guess.
d) Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols.
e) Buck Dharma, the incredible lead guitarist, singer and often songwriter of the Blue Oyster Cult.
3) Decca Records turned away the fledgling Beatles. They never recovered the jibes of the music industry although they did continue to be successful.
4) The band used the name “L7” to describe making a square with your thumbs and forefingers that jazz musicians liked to flash when they had to play for somebody they thought were definitely not cool.
5) Sleep released Dopesmoker, originall
6) According to Richards, in his biography Life, which I highly recommend, Jagger, in a bit of an egotistical mood, especially after releasing a solo album, was, with the other Stones, waiting on Charlie Watts to join them, who was running a tad late in a hotel lobby and loudly declared, apparently on the phone to Watts, “where is my drummer??” Wrong thing to say. As Richards pointed out, drummers have very strong hands and arms. A few minutes later Watts emerged from the elevator, dressed immaculately as always, marched over to Jagger, and punched the singer hard in the mouth, sending him down to the floor in a heap. He looked at Jagger and said “Don’t you ever call me your drummer again.” Guess he wouldn’t be anybody’s sideman, and being the greatest rock and roll drummer of all, didn’t have to.
7) The Mentors were brought to national attention, which, in accordance to everything else that turned into a disaster for the Parental Music Resource Committee, aka PMRC, made up of a handful of D.C. politician’s wives with too much time on their hands, helped the band far more than hurt it. This group wanted censorship of albums they found offensive, which, uh, to their chagrin, was in violation of uh, lemme think here – oh yeah! The First Amendment guarantee to freedom of speech! I cannot and will not quote the lyrics then Senator Al Gore, a nice guy forced to take part in this circus act by now divorced wife Tipper read for the Congressional Record. But it was foul. Eventually we started seeing warning labels that had no legal clout and served as magnets to kids wanting some terrible Black Sabbath album who thought the PMRC was a pathetic joke anyway.
8) Pavarotti was famous as a tenor, no doubt, but he may have surprised a few opera and rock fans by declaring the one and only vocalist Rob Halford of Judas Priest as one of rock’s finest singers and enjoyed listening to him. So kudos to Pavarotti for being open minded, and not deciding to do “You Got Another Thing Coming” during the next Metropolitan Opera season.
9) True. After guitarist extraordinaire Tony Iommi decided to do Black Sabbath full time and leave during lunch from his job in a steel mill, his mother told him to return to work and finish the day like a good person. It was then he caught his right hand in a drill press and lost the top two joints of his middle and ring finger. He eventually healed but had to fashion leather tips from an old jacket he still uses for new finger tips, and because of the pain use banjo strings in lieu of guitar because they were much softer. But not any less heavy.
10) Frank Sinatra. He was one of the experts who saw rock and roll as a quick fad that would disappear, not bothering to understand the depths of the roots of the music that assured it wasn’t going anywhere. But when Paul McCartney wrote “Yesterday,” it quickly became one of the most heavily covered songs in history, including one by The Chairman, who announced McCartney as a composing genius and deciding to ride the train.
Thanks for playing!