Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

In 2005, Black Sabbath was finally inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. They had been overlooked seven times, prompting Ozzy to ask that the band be taken off the list, feeling it was a sham because fans don’t vote for the inductees. The band’s friend and neighbor, Brian May, inducted them. In 2006, the band was also inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tony Iommi was almost unable to take his award home with him because airport security told him that the large sculpture could be used as a weapon.

The band used to rehearse across from a movie theater. They got the idea to make scary music after seeing how much people enjoyed horror movies.

There is a 1964 Boris Karloff movie called Black Sabbath, but according to Tony Iommi, none of the band had seen the movie at the time.

Iommi joined Jethro Tull for two weeks in 1968. He appeared with Tull on The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus special, miming “A Song for Jeffrey.” Iommi didn’t like Jethro Tull’s organization, in which he was treated more like an employee than a bandmate. However, he did learn by observing Tull’s disciplined rehearsal routines, and brought that professional work ethic back to the band with Ozzy, Geezer, and Bill. Shortly after becoming more structured, the band started writing the songs that would later be recorded for Black Sabbath.

After working with Jethro Tull, Iommi bought a flute and occasionally played it live. For the most part, it didn’t work out.

According to music historian William Ruhlmann, they originally called their jazz-blues band Polka Tulk, later renaming themselves Earth, and they played extensively in Europe. In early 1969, they decided to change their name again when they found that they were being mistaken for another group called Earth. Butler had written a song called “Black Sabbath” that took its title from a novel by occult writer Dennis Wheatley called The Devil Rides Out, in which a Satanic ritual called a Black Sabbath is described. The group adopted it as their new name and often played up the demonic angle, even though it was mostly an act. Ozzy once said: “The only black magic Sabbath ever got into was a box of chocolates.”

Butler wrote most of the song lyrics by borrowing phrases from Ozzy’s stream-of-consciousness vocal melodies and fleshing them out. Ozzy did very little writing until he left the band.

One of the candidates to replace Ozzy when he left in 1978 was Michael Bolotin, who would later change his name to Michael Bolton and sing soft rock. They went with Dio instead.

They were one of the first bands to be considered “Heavy Metal.” The phrase was introduced by the 1968 Steppenwolf song “Born To Be Wild.”

Osbourne’s solo work did much better than the Black Sabbath material after he left.

Iommi used to date Lita Ford. Ozzy did a duet with her in 1989 – “Close My Eyes Forever.”

Osbourne and Dio hated each other. One of Ozzy’s tours featured a dwarf who Ozzy would call “Ronnie,” referring to the vertically challenged Ronnie James Dio. Dio in turn refused to appear at any date in which Black Sabbath was slated to open for Ozzy’s act, calling Ozzy a clown.

Their music is rather aggressive, but their worldview is not. Ozzy explained: “Sabbath were a hippie band. We were into peace.”

Prior to the group truly coming together, Iommi worked in an industrial factory. He eventually decided to quit and become a full-time working guitarist. During the last few hours of his last day on the job, his hand became caught in a piece of equipment, severing the tips of his fingers on his right (fretting) hand.

Losing the tips of the fingers on your hand is a debilitating accident for a guitarist, but Iommi found a unique way to soldier on. After battling depression over the accident for quite some time, he was visited by his supervisor from the factory, who brought along some Django Reinhardt records. Reinhardt was a jazz guitarist from the mid-20th century who had a disability – several of his fingers had been fused together in a fire. When Iommi heard Reinhardt play (and after receiving a pep talk from his supervisor) he decided that he could overcome his misfortune. He tried various ways to cover and/or extend his fingertips, to dull the pain he now had when trying to play and to make the tips themselves move more easily over the strings. What he finally came up with was taking a plastic detergent bottle, melting it, shaping it into thimble-like prosthetics, sanding them down, and covering them with leather from several jackets until he found one with the right feel. After taking care to form the new tips to snugly fit his fingers, and experimenting with various bonding agents to secure them, Iommi found that he could play again with minimal pain.

All original members were from Aston, which is a suburb of Birmingham. They all lived in a one-mile radius from each other.

Dio helped popularize the “Rock Hand Symbol” of the two middle fingers and thumb in to the palm of the hand and the pinky and index finger out as a symbol to “Rock On.” He got it from his grandmother because she used it towards what she believed to be evil people.

In their early embryonic days as the Polka Tulk Blues Band, the group also featured a slide guitarist and saxophone player. The rest of the band eventually reformed stealthily without them.

Despite going to the same (violent) school in Birmingham, Ozzy and Iommi never spoke to each other much until several years afterward, when they connected through an ad Ozzy had circulated about needing a band.

Early rejected band names included: “Fred Carno’s Army” (suggested by manager Jim Simpson) and “Jimmy Underpass and the Six-Way Combo” (Ozzy’s suggestion).

Upon writing their first original songs, the band immediately knew they had something good. It was dark and menacing and made extensive use of the tritone, a musical interval of notes that sound particularly tense, almost evil. The band soon grew tired of playing cover tunes, especially because their original material didn’t mesh well with the blues that they’d been playing up until that point.

At one point Tony Iommi played an upside down Gibson SG. Someone saw him doing it and said “I have a [right-handed] friend who plays a left-handed one upside down”! That guy and Tony swapped guitars, and both were happy.

In April 1989, while the band was touring in support of Headless Cross, a gig in Mexico was shut down and crew members were arrested on arrival. The Catholic Church in Mexico had protested the Sabbath show, and the mayor banned the event last-minute.

Vocalist Ronnie James Dio died of metastasized stomach cancer in 2010.

On 11-11-11 the band’s original lineup announced that they were reuniting for a new album and tour in 2012, having already written several new songs. The album, titled 13, emerged in 2013.

Black Sabbath’s debut album in 1970 began with the sound effects of a church bell and thunder. Forty-three years later, in 2013, their final album ended with the same sound of a church bell and thunder.

Geezer Butler got arrested in 2015 for punching a Nazi in a bar. He hit the Nazi in the face after he spewed some antisemitic remarks to Butler.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Growing up, he was called J.R., and when he enlisted in the Air Force it was as John R. He took the name Johnny when he started recording for Sun Records.

Much of his childhood was spent working in his family’s cotton fields. He was a teenager when he started playing guitar and writing songs.

Cash spent a lot of time at prisons, but as an entertainer, not an inmate. He had a few overnight stays in jail on drunk and disorderly charges, but never served time. The closest he came to hard time was in October 1965 when he was arrested upon returning from Mexico when US Customs agents searched his luggage and found hundreds of illegal pills. He was fined $1000 but received a suspended sentence and didn’t go to jail.

In 1968, he married June Carter from the legendary country music Carter Family. Cash credits her for saving his life, as she helped him break his drug habit.

Cash is a member of the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, Country Music Hall Of Fame and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

From 1969 to 1971, he hosted The Johnny Cash Showon ABC TV. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Louis Armstrong all appeared as guests.

He died at age 71 due to complications from diabetes.

The 2005 film Walk The Line is about Cash’s life. He was portrayed in the movie by Joaquin Phoenix, who sang as Cash for the stage scenes.

He had his daughter Rosanne with his first wife, Vivian Liberto. Rosanne Cash became a prominent Country singer of her own, and had a crossover hit in 1981 with “Seven Year Ache.”

Barry Gibb from The Bee Gees bought the Tennessee house Cash lived in from 1968 until his death. In 2007, while the home was being renovated for Gibb, it caught fire and burned to the ground.

Cash played many free concerts at prisons throughout his career. His first was at Huntsville State Prison in Texas in 1957. On New Year’s Day 1959 when he played San Quentin prison in San Rafael, California, Merle Haggard, who was serving time for burglary, was in the audience.

A requirement at Johnny Cash shows was an American flag on stage in full view of the audience.

During his time serving in the Air Force, Cash was employed as a code breaker based in Germany, intercepting Morse Code transmissions from Russia. He was the first American to learn of Joseph Stalin’s death when he intercepted a message about the Soviet leader’s demise on March 5, 1953.

Cash starred in the 1974 “Swan Song” episode of Columbo as Tommy Brown, a homicidal country singer trying to evade the clutches of the homicide detective.

A letter that that Johnny Cash wrote to June Carter Cash for her 65th birthday in 1994 was voted the greatest love letter of all time in a 2015 British survey for Valentine’s Day. The Man in Black’s note beat out epistles by Winston Churchill to wife Clementine Churchill and Richard Burton to Liz Taylor among others in the poll.

So what did Johnny Cash write that melted so many hearts? Part of it reads: “We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.”

Cash was one of the first high-profile musical guests on Sesame Street, performing “Nasty Dan” on Season 5. A Cash-like monster named Ronnie Trash later appeared on the show to sing about the environment.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Bob Dylan Week” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

His real name is Robert Zimmerman. Rumor has it he took his name from poet Dylan Thomas, but this has never confirmed this. He did confirm in his autobiography Chronicles, Volume I that he went with “Bob” instead of “Bobby” because he didn’t want to be confused with Bobby Darin, Bobby Rydell or Bobby Vee.

Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota. At an early age he moved to Hibbing, where he grew up. This part of the state was known for its abundant iron mines at the time. It is known by its inhabitants as “The North Country,” hence the song “Girl From The North Country.”

Dylan briefly attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in the early ’60s. During this time, he hung out frequently in an area known as Dinkytown. Dinkytown had a burgeoning folk scene at the time and this is where he first performed as a solo artist (he was in a number of rock ‘n’ roll bands in high school) and first used the name Bob Dylan.

He was secretly married for six years to Carol Dennis, one of his backup singers. They had a daughter together.

He was married to his first wife, Sara, from 1965-1977. In the divorce, she got half the royalties to the songs Dylan wrote while they were married, some of which were about her.

Dylan played six shows with The Grateful Dead in 1987. They released a live album called Dylan And The Dead.

In a classic 1966 French film Masculin-Feminin, the protagonist reads a headline from a French newspaper saying, “Qui etes-vous Bob Dylan?” This means, “Who are you, Bob Dylan?”

He broke several vertebrae in his neck when he crashed his motorcycle in 1966. It kept him from recording for a while and prompted rumors that he was brain damaged or dead.

Dylan would often make biblical allusions in his lyrics. Two examples:

In “Long Time Gone,” the line “I know I ain’t no prophet/And I ain’t no prophet’s son” reflects Amos 7:14 (“I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son”).

In “Let me Die in My Footsteps,” the line “There’s been rumors of war and wars that have been” reflects Matthew 24:6 (“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars”).

He had a cat named Rollin’ Stone.

In 1960, Dylan was paid 50 dollars to play harmonica on a Harry Belafonte album.

He has recorded under several pseudonyms, including Bob Landy, Robert Milkwood Thomas, and Blind Boy Grunt.

Dylan has starred in a few movies, none of which have done well with critics. They include Hearts Of Fire, Pat Garrett And Billy The kid and Renaldo And Clara.

Dylan’s first band was formed in high school and called the Golden Chords. He was the piano player.

Michael Jackson and Dylan performed together at Elizabeth Taylor’s 55th birthday party in 1987.

In the mid-1970s, then-unknown comic Steve Martin opened for Dylan in Tampa, Florida.

He named his 1969 album after outlaw John Wesley Hardin. His last name was misspelled “Harding.”

In 1991, he won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

He was raised Jewish, but became a born-again Christian in the late ’70s.

Dylan and his first wife Sara are the parents of film director Jesse Dylan and musician Jakob Dylan, the lead singer and songwriter of The Wallflowers. Bob Dylan later married his longtime backup singer Carolyn Dennis. Jesse’s wife Susan Traylor and Jakob’s wife Paige Dylan are both actresses.

Dylan: “I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.”

Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary No Way Home made a strong case that Bob Dylan is the most influential songwriter of the 20th Century. Whether one accepts that opinion or not, there’s ample evidence he was among the most prolific. Remarkably, in just three years, Dylan wrote six classic albums of great original songs.

Freewheelin’ was released May 27, 1963; Times They Are A-Changin’ on January 13, 1964; Another Side of Bob Dylan seven months later on August 8 1964; Bringing It All Back Home on March 22 1965; Highway 61 Revisited five months later on August 30, 1965; and Blonde On Blonde eight months later on May 16, 1966. What other famous songwriter has created such a wealth of brilliant songs in such a short period of time?

In 2008, he became the first Rock musician ever awarded a Pulitzer Prize. He was given the special award for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

Dylan recorded the folk song “The House Of The Rising Sun” on his first album, and after The Animals recorded the song in 1964, it had a profound effect on him. Animals lead singer Eric Burdon told us: “Bob Dylan, who was angry at first, turned into a rocker. Dylan went electric in the shadow of The Animals classic ‘House of the Rising Sun.'”

Back in 1965, when a British reporter asked him what his message was, Bob Dylan replied, “Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb.” His famous quote appears in Don’t Look Back, the documentary that covers Bob Dylan’s 1965 concert tour of the United Kingdom. No wonder then that his explicit demand on his concert rider was to have dressing rooms lit with incandescent lighting.

Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. The committee noted he was honored, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan was the first American to win the award since Toni Morrison in 1993.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Bob Dylan Week” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!


Folk-rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan signed his first recording contract in 1961, and he emerged as one of the most original and influential voices in American popular music. Dylan has continued to tour and release new studio albums, including Together Through Life(2009), Tempest (2012), Shadows in the Night(2015) and Fallen Angels (2016). The legendary singer-songwriter has received Grammy, Academy and Golden Globe awards, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In 1960, Dylan dropped out of college and moved to New York, where his idol, the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, was hospitalized with a rare hereditary disease of the nervous system. He visited with Guthrie regularly in his hospital room; became a regular in the folk clubs and coffeehouses of Greenwich Village; met a host of other musicians; and began writing songs at an astonishing pace, including “Song to Woody,” a tribute to his ailing hero.

In the fall of 1961, after one of his performances received a rave review in The New York Times, he signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, at which point he legally changed his surname to Dylan. Released early in 1962, Bob Dylan contained only two original songs, but showcased Dylan’s gravel-voiced singing style in a number of traditional folk songs and covers of blues songs.

The 1963 release of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan marked Dylan’s emergence as one of the most original and poetic voices in the history of American popular music. The album included two of the most memorable 1960s folk songs, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (which later became a huge hit for the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary) and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” His next album, The Times They Are A-Changin’, firmly established Dylan as the definitive songwriter of the ’60s protest movement, a reputation that only increased after he became involved with one of the movement’s established icons, Joan Baez, in 1963.

While his romantic relationship with Baez lasted only two years, it benefited both performers immensely in terms of their music careers—Dylan wrote some of Baez’s best-known material, and Baez introduced him to thousands of fans through her concerts. By 1964 Dylan was playing 200 concerts annually, but had become tired of his role as “the” folk singer-songwriter of the protest movement. Another Side of Bob Dylan, recorded in 1964, was a much more personal, introspective collection of songs, far less politically charged than Dylan’s previous efforts.

Reinventing His Image

In 1965, Dylan scandalized many of his folkie fans by recording the half-acoustic, half-electric album Bringing It All Back Home, backed by a nine-piece band. On July 25, 1965, he was famously booed at the Newport Folk Festival when he performed electrically for the first time. The albums that followed, Highway 61 Revisited (1965) — which included the seminal rock song “Like a Rolling Stone” — and the two-record set Blonde on Blonde (1966) represented Dylan at his most innovative. With his unmistakable voice and unforgettable lyrics, Dylan brought the worlds of music and literature together as no one else had.

Over the course of the next three decades, Dylan continued to reinvent himself. Following a near-fatal motorcycle accident in July 1966, Dylan spent almost a year recovering in seclusion. His next two albums, John Wesley Harding (1967)—including “All Along the Watchtower,” later recorded by guitar great Jimi Hendrix—and the unabashedly country-ish Nashville Skyline (1969) were far more mellow than his earlier works. Critics blasted the two-record set Self-Portrait (1970) and Tarantula, a long-awaited collection of writings Dylan published in 1971. In 1973, Dylan appeared in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, a feature film directed by Sam Peckinpah. He also wrote the film’s soundtrack, which became a hit and included the now-classic song, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

In 1974, Dylan began his first full-scale tour since his accident, embarking on a sold-out nationwide tour with his longtime backup band, the Band. An album he recorded with the Band, Planet Waves, became his first No. 1 album ever. He followed these successes with the celebrated 1975 album Blood on the Tracks and Desire (1976), each of which hit No. 1 as well. Desire included the song “Hurricane,” written by Dylan about the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, then serving life in prison after what many felt was an wrongful conviction of triple homicide in 1967. Dylan was one of many prominent public figures who helped popularize Carter’s cause, leading to a retrial in 1976, when he was again convicted.

After a painful split with his wife, Sara Lowndes — the song “Sara” on Desire was Dylan’s plaintive but unsuccessful attempt to win Lowndes back — Dylan again reinvented himself, declaring in 1979 that he was a born-again Christian. The evangelical Slow Train Coming was a commercial hit, and won Dylan his first Grammy Award. The tour and albums that followed were less successful, however, and Dylan’s religious leanings soon became less overt in his music. In 1982, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

Rock Star Status

Beginning in the 1980s, Dylan began touring full time, sometimes with fellow legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Grateful Dead. Notable albums during this period included Infidels (1983); the five-disc retrospective Biograph (1985); Knocked Out Loaded (1986); and Oh Mercy (1989), which became his best-received album in years. He recorded two albums with the all-star band the Traveling Wilburys, also featuring George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. In 1994, Dylan returned to his folk roots, winning the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for World Gone Wrong.

In 1989, when Dylan was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Bruce Springsteen spoke at the ceremony, declaring that “Bob freed the mind the way Elvis freed the body. … He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording artist could achieve and changed the face of rock and roll forever.” In 1997, Dylan became the first rock star ever to receive Kennedy Center Honors, considered the nation’s highest award for artistic excellence.

Dylan’s 1997 album Time Out of Mindreestablished this one-time folk icon as one of rock’s preeminent wise men, winning three Grammy Awards. He continued his vigorous touring schedule, including a memorable performance in 1997 for Pope John Paul II in which he played “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and a 1999 tour with Paul Simon. In 2000, he recorded the single “Things Have Changed” for the soundtrack of the film Wonder Boys, starring Michael Douglas. The song won Dylan a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Dylan then took time out from his music to tell the story of his life. The singer released Chronicles: Volume One, the first in a three-book memoir series, in the fall of 2004. Dylan gave his first full interview in 20 years for a documentary released in 2005. Entitled No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, the film was directed by Martin Scorsese.

Psychedelic Week

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Bob Dylan Week” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Bob Dylan: The Stories Behind Some Of His Greatest Songs

‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door'(1973)

‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door'(1973) What does it mean?: Written for the film Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid and said to be inspired by the relationship between the two lead characters (“Mama put my guns in the ground/ I can’t shoot them anymore”). Dylan made a cameo in the film.

‘Highway 61 Revisited'(1965)

‘Highway 61 Revisited'(1965) What does it mean?: Dylan said it was inspired by Robert Johnson, the legendary blues singer who was said to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49.


‘It Ain’t Me, Babe'(1964)

‘It Ain’t Me, Babe'(1964) What does it mean?: Speculation has been rife that this was simply about a one sided relationship or about his terse connection to the folk movement. Most agree that Dylan’s talking about the fact that at the time he reluctantly took the mantle of a figurehead for his generation (“It ain’t me you’re looking for”).

‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ (1966)

‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ (1966)What does it mean?: Said to be about his wife at the time Sara Lownds. On the song ‘Sara’ recorded much later Dylan sings: “Staying up for nights in the Chelsea Hotel, writing ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ for you”.

‘Joey’ (1976)

‘Joey’ (1976) What does it mean?: The song was about notorious mobster Joey Gallo. It was criticized at the time for its romantic take on the more violent elements of the gangster’s life.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Bob Dylan Week” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Bob Dylan: The Stories Behind Some Of His Greatest Songs

‘Subterranean Home Sick Blues'(1965)

‘Subterranean Home Sick Blues'(1965): Dylan took part of the title from the Jack Kerouac novella The Subterraneans, whose characters were loosely based around Beat writers Burroughs and Ginsberg.

‘Mr. Tambourine Man'(1965)

‘Mr. Tambourine Man'(1965) What does it mean?: ‘Tambourine Man’ was 60s slang for a drugs dealer and Dylan is said to have written it on a hash-fuelled road trip.


‘Rainy Day Women No. 12 And 35′(1966)

‘Rainy Day Women No. 12 And 35′(1966)What does it mean?: Famous for the line “Everybody must get stoned” and, according to Dylan geeks, if you multiply 12 by 35 you get 420 – a number associated with pot culture. Far out, dude.

‘Tangled Up In Blue'(1975)

‘Tangled Up In Blue'(1975) What does it mean?: Said to be influenced by Cubism (Dylan was taking art classes at this time), this song tackles the end of Dylan’s marriage to his wife Sara, but only by way of looking back at his own life (from his Minnesota upbringing to his coffee house days in New York) in a semi-mythical way.

‘I Want You'(1966)

‘I Want You'(1966) What does it mean?: Dylan had a terse friendship with The Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and the track was said to be about Dylan’s feelings for Jones’ then girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. Others believe it was inspired by Edie Sedgwick.

Psychedelic Lunch

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They’re named after a dildo from the William Burroughs novel Naked Lunch. Donald Fagen recalled to Mojo magazine: “We had to come up with a name in a hurry and Walter and I were both Burroughs fans, though he was not known at the time. It was an in-joke- who’s going to know what Steely Dan was? And we figured that, like most of our bands in the past, it would fall apart after three months, so we didn’t think much about it.”

“The name had less to do with sex than a rebel spirit, a beat consciousness that we grew up with.”

When they were all attending Bard College in the late ’60s, Chevy Chase was a drummer in one of Fagen and Becker’s early bands, Bad Rock Group.

Becker and Fagen met while they were students at Bard College in upstate New York. You can hear references to these times in their song “My Old School.”

They were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001, 4 years after they were eligible.

In 1981, they stopped recording. They got back together in 2000 and released Two Against Nature, which won the Grammy for Album Of The Year.

In 2001, they received honorary degrees from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where their music is a large part of the curriculum.

The name of their first album came from their dismay with Los Angeles. Becker once said to Fagen, “You can’t buy a thrill in California.”

Donald Fagen grew up in South Brunswick, NJ – he hated it there. In his time it was all soy bean and potato fields and there was nothing to do. Now it’s very developed and there’s still nothing to do.

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, who played guitar on many of their records, is a self-taught expert on mobile missile defense systems. He wrote a paper on the topic in the early 1990s which caught the eye of conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He has subsequently testified before Congress and is a consultant to the Pentagon.

Jeff Porcaro was a drummer for Steely Dan, and later left to form Toto. Michael McDonald was a keyboard player and did background vocals, and later he and Skunk Baxter joined the Doobie Brothers. Mark Knopfler, from Dire Straights, plays guitar on “Time Out Of Mind.” Legendary sax player Wayne Shorter even played with them.

Steely Dan released seven studio (non compilation) albums from 1972-1980. Over 100 session musicians contributed to their songs.

Other than Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, the duo that is Steely Dan, the only musician who played on all seven albums was the late Victor Feldman. Feldman was a British Jazz legend who actually played with the Glenn Miller Orchestra when he was 13 years old.

They entered the corporate music world in the Brill Building, where they briefly became members of Jay and The Americans and recorded some songs that group member Kenny Vance produced. Kenny told us: “They were just two guys that had a band that were steeped in jazz and Duke Ellington. Becker always had a book with him, and, you know, drugs were around. They were different. But then as time went by, at some point I discovered the depth that was contained there, and I always believed that they were going to be huge.”

Unlike most songwriting duos, Fagen and Becker worked together on the music and lyrics at the same time.

In 2017, Becker was diagnosed with esophageal cancer during a routine checkup. He fought it with intense chemotherapy, but the cancer proved very aggressive, and four months later it killed him. Only his closest friends and family knew of his condition.

Fagen got to spend one last day with Becker in September 2017 before he passed away. “When I heard he was really ill,” he says, “I was on the road in, I think, Salina, Kansas, and I flew back. I had a day off and he was in his apartment in New York. And I was really glad that I went. I could see he was really struggling. When I put a chair next to the bed, he grabbed my hand. It was something he had never done ever before. And we had a great talk and, you know, he was listening to hard bop – his wife had put on Dexter Gordon records. He was very weak but he was still very funny. I’m really glad I had those hours.”

Psychedelic Lunch

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Opeth is a Swedish progressive metal band from Stockholm, formed in 1990. Though the group has been through several personnel changes, singer, guitarist, and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt has remained Opeth’s driving force throughout the years. Opeth has consistently incorporated progressive, folk, blues, classical and jazz influences into their usually lengthy compositions, as well as strong influences from black metal and death metal, especially in their early works. Many songs include acoustic guitar passages and strong dynamic shifts, as well as both death growls and clean vocals. Opeth rarely made live appearances supporting their first four albums; but since conducting their first world tour after the 2001 release of Blackwater Park, they have led several major world tours.

Opeth has released ten studio albums, three live DVDs, three live albums (two that are in conjunction with DVDs), and two boxsets. The band released its debut album Orchid in 1995. Although their eighth studio album, Ghost Reveries, was quite popular in the United States, Opeth did not experience major American commercial success until the 2008 release of their ninth studio album, Watershed, which peaked at number twenty-three on the Billboard 200, and topped the Finnish albums chart in its first week of release. Opeth has sold over 1.5 million albums and DVDs worldwide, including 300,000 collective Soundscans of their albums Blackwater Park, Damnation and Deliverance in the United States.

Opeth was formed as a death metal band in the autumn of 1990 in Stockholm, Sweden by vocalist David Isberg. Isberg asked former Eruption band member Mikael Åkerfeldt (just 16 years old at the time) to join Opeth as a bassist. When Åkerfeldt showed up to practice the day after Isberg invited him, it became clear that Isberg had not told the band members, including the band’s current bassist, that Åkerfeldt would be joining. An ensuing argument led to all members but Isberg and Åkerfeldt leaving to form a new project. The band name was derived from the word “Opet,” taken from the Wilbur Smith novel The Sunbird. In this novel, Opet is the name of a fictional Phoenician city in South Africa whose name is translated as “City of the Moon”.

Isberg and Åkerfeldt recruited drummer Anders Nordin, bassist Nick Döring, and guitarist Andreas Dimeo. Unsatisfied with Opeth’s slow progress, Döring and Dimeo left the band after their first performance, and were replaced by guitarist Kim Pettersson and bassist Johan DeFarfalla. After the next show, DeFarfalla left Opeth to spend time with his girlfriend in Germany, and was initially replaced by Mattias Ander, before Åkerfeldt’s friend Peter Lindgren took on the role of bassist. Rhythm guitarist Kim Pettersson left following the band’s next performance, and Lindgren switched to guitar, with the role of bassist falling to Stefan Guteklint. The following year, David Isberg left the band citing “creative differences”.

Following Isberg’s departure, Åkerfeldt took over vocal duties and he, Lindgren, and Nordin spent the next year writing and rehearsing new material. The group began to rely less on the blast beats and aggression typical of death metal, and incorporated acoustic guitars and guitar harmonies into their music; developing the core sound of Opeth. Bassist Guteklint was dismissed by the band after they signed their first record deal with Candlelight Records in 1994. Opeth initially employed former member DeFarfalla as a session bassist for their demo recordings, and he went on to join on a full-time basis following the release of Opeth’s debut album, “Orchid”, in 1995.

OrchidMorningrise, and My Arms, Your Hearse (1994–1998)

Opeth recorded its debut album, Orchid, with producer Dan Swanö in April 1994. Because of distribution problems with the newly formed Candlelight Records, the album was not released until May 15, 1995, and only in Europe. Orchid tested the boundaries of traditional death metal, featuring acoustic guitars, piano, and clean vocals. Allmusic called Orchid “brilliant,” “startlingly unique,” and “a far-beyond-epic prog/death monstrosity exuding equal parts beauty and brutality.”

After a few live shows in the United Kingdom, Opeth returned to the studio in March 1996 to begin work on a second album, again produced by Dan Swanö. The album was named Morningrise, and was released in Europe on June 24, 1996. With only five songs, but lasting 66 minutes; it features Opeth’s longest song, the twenty-minute “Black Rose Immortal”. Morningrisewas a huge success, with Allmusic giving the album four stars. Opeth toured the UK in support of Morningrise, followed by a 26-date Scandinavian tour with Cradle of Filth. While on tour, Opeth attracted the attention of Century Media Records, who signed the band and released the first two albums in the United States in 1997.

After the tour, Åkerfeldt and Lindgren dismissed DeFarfalla for personal reasons, without the consent of Nordin. When Åkerfeldt informed Nordin, who was on a vacation in Brazil, Nordin left the band and remained in Brazil for personal reasons. Former Amon Amarth drummer Martín López responded to a newspaper ad placed by Åkerfeldt and joined Opeth in 1997. López made his debut with Opeth playing on a cover version of Iron Maiden’s “Remember Tomorrow”, which was included on the album A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden.

With a larger recording budget from Century Media, Opeth began work on its third album, with noted Swedish producer Fredrik Nordström, at Studio Fredman in August 1997. The band added bassist Martín Méndez shortly before recording, but due to time constraints Åkerfeldt played bass on the album. was released to critical acclaim on August 18, 1998. As Opeth’s first international release, the album exposed the band to a wider global audience. My Arms, Your Hearsemarked the beginning of a shift in the band’s sound.

Still Life and Blackwater Park (1999–2001)

In 1999, the ownership of Candlelight Records changed hands, with owner and friend of the band Lee Barrett leaving the company. Opeth signed with UK label Peaceville Records in Europe, which was distributed by Music for Nations. Opeth reserved time at Studio Fredman to begin work on its next album, but recording was postponed while the studio was relocated. Due to time constraints, the band was able to rehearse only twice before entering the studio. Delays with the album’s artwork pushed the release back an additional month and Still Life was released on October 18, 1999. Due to problems with the band’s new distribution network, the album was not released in the United States until February 2001. Still Life was the first album recorded with Méndez, and also the first Opeth album to bear any kind of caption on the front cover upon its initial release, including the band’s logo. Allmusic called Still Life a “formidable splicing of harsh, often jagged guitar riffs with graceful melodies.” As explained by Åkerfeldt, Still Life is a concept album: “The main character is kind of banished from his hometown because he hasn’t got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants there. The album pretty much starts off when he is returning after several years to hook up with his old ‘babe.’ The big bosses of the town know that he’s back… A lot of bad things start happening.”

Following a few live dates in Europe, Opeth returned to Studio Fredman to begin work on its next album, with Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson producing. The band sought to recreate the recording experience of Still Life, and again entered the studio with minimal rehearsals, and no lyrics written. “This time it was tough,” Åkerfeldt said, “I feel pleasantly blown away by the immense result, though. It was indeed worth the effort.” Wilson also pushed the band to expand its sound, incorporating new sounds and production techniques. “Steve guided us into the realms of ‘strange’ noises for guitars and voice,” Åkerfeldt said.

Opeth released its fifth studio album, Blackwater Park, on February 21, 2001. Allmusic called Blackwater Park “astounding, a work of breathtaking creative breadth,” noting that the album “keeps with Opeth’s tradition by transcending the limits of death/black metal and repeatedly shattering the foundations of conventional songwriting.” In support of Blackwater Park, Opeth embarked on its first world tour, headlined Europe for the first time, and made an appearance at the 2001 Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, playing to a crowd of 60,000.

Deliverance and Damnation (2002–2004)

Opeth returned home after touring in support of Blackwater Park, and began writing for the next album. At first, Åkerfeldt had trouble putting together new material: “I wanted to write something heavier than we’d ever done, still I had all these great mellow parts and arrangements which I didn’t want to go to waste.” Jonas Renkse of Katatonia, a long-time friend of Åkerfeldt, suggested writing music for two separate albums—one heavy and one soft.

Excited at the prospect, Åkerfeldt agreed without consulting his band mates or record label. While his band mates liked the idea of recording two separate albums, Åkerfeldt had to convince the label: “I had to lie somewhat… saying that we could do this recording very soon, it won’t cost more than a regular single album.” With most of the material written, the band rehearsed just once before entering Nacksving Studios in 2002, and again with producer Steven Wilson in Studio Fredman. Under pressure to complete both albums simultaneously, Åkerfeldt said the recording process was “the toughest test of our history.” After recording basic tracks, the band moved production to England to first mix the heavy album, Deliverance, with Andy Sneap at Backstage Studios. “Deliverance was so poorly recorded, without any organisation whatsoever,” Åkerfeldt claimed, that Sneap “is credited as a ‘saviour’ in the sleeve, as he surely saved much of the recording.”

Deliverance was released on November 4, 2002, and debuted at number 19 on the US Top Independent Albums chart, marking the band’s first US chart appearance. Allmusic stated, “Deliverance is altogether more subtle than any of its predecessors, approaching listeners with haunting nuances and masterful dynamics rather than overwhelming them with sheer mass and complexity.”

Opeth performed a one-off concert in Stockholm, then returned to the UK to finish recording vocals for the second of the two albums, Damnation, at Steven Wilson’s No Man’s Land Studios. Although Åkerfeldt believed the band could not finish both albums, Opeth completed Deliverance and Damnation in just seven weeks of studio time, which was the same amount spent on Blackwater Park alone. Damnation was released on April 14, 2003, and garnered the band its first appearance on the US Billboard 200 at number 192. The album also won the 2003 Swedish Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.

The band embarked on its biggest tour yet, playing nearly 200 shows in 2003 and 2004. Opeth performed three special shows in Europe with two song lists each—one acoustic set and one heavy set. The band recorded its first DVD, Lamentations (Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire 2003), at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, England. The DVD features a two-hour performance, including the entire Damnationalbum, several songs from Deliverance and Blackwater Park, and a one-hour documentary about the recording of Deliverance and Damnation. Lamentations was certified Gold in Canada.

Opeth was scheduled to perform in Jordan without a crew due to the fear of terrorist attacks in the Middle East. Opeth’s tour manager distributed 6,000 tickets for the concert, but before the band left for Jordan, drummer Lopez called Åkerfeldt stating he was having an anxiety attack and could not perform, forcing the band to cancel the show. In early 2004, Lopez was sent home from Canada after more anxiety attacks on tour. Opeth decided against cancelling the remainder of the tour with Lopez’s drum technician filling in for two concerts. Lopez promised that he would return to the tour as soon as he could, but two shows later Opeth asked Strapping Young Lad drummer Gene Hoglan to fill in. Lopez returned to Opeth for the Seattle show on the final leg of the Deliverance and Damnation tour. Per Wiberg also joined the band on tour to perform keyboards, after more than a year on tour.

Ghost Reveries

Opeth returned home in 2004 to start writing new material for its eighth album, and by the end of the year, they had finished writing it. Opeth’s European label, Music for Nations, closed its doors in 2005, and after negotiations with various labels, the band signed with Roadrunner Records. Åkerfeldt said the primary reason for signing with Roadrunner was the label’s wide distribution, ensuring the album would be available at larger-chain retailers. When news leaked that the band was signed to Roadrunner, who predominantly worked with trend-oriented rock and metal, some fans accused the band of selling out. “To be honest,” Åkerfeldt said, “that’s such an insult after 15 years as a band and 8 records. I can’t believe we haven’t earned each and every Opeth fan’s credibility after all these years. I mean, our songs are 10 minutes long!” The band rehearsed for three weeks before entering the studio, the first time the band rehearsed since the 1998 album, My Arms, Your Hearse. During rehearsal, keyboardist Wiberg joined Opeth as a full-time member. Opeth recorded at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden, from March 18 to June 1, 2005, and released the resulting Ghost Reveries on August 30, 2005, to critical acclaim and commercial success. The album debuted at number 64 in the US, and number nine in Sweden, higher than any previous Opeth release. Keith Bergman of Blabbermouth.net gave the album ten out of ten, one of only 21 albums to achieve a perfect rating from the site. Rod Smith of Decibelmagazine called Ghost Reveries “achingly beautiful, sometimes unabashedly brutal, often a combination of both.”

On May 12, 2006, Martin Lopez announced that he had officially parted ways with Opeth due to health problems, and was replaced by Martin Axenrot. Opeth toured on the main stage of Gigantour in 2006, alongside Megadeth. Ghost Reveries was re-released on October 31, 2006, with a bonus cover song (Deep Purple’s “Soldier of Fortune”) and a DVD featuring a 5.1 surround sound mix of the album (along with a documentary on the making of the record). A recording of Opeth’s live performance at the Camden Roundhouse, in London, on November 9, 2006, was released as the double live album The Roundhouse Tapes.

On May 17, 2007, Peter Lindgren announced he would be leaving Opeth after 16 years. “The decision has been the toughest I’ve ever made but it is the right one to make at this point in my life,” Lindgren said. “I feel that I simply have lost some of the enthusiasm and inspiration needed to participate in a band that has grown from a few guys playing the music we love to a worldwide industry.” Ex-Arch Enemy guitarist Fredrik Åkesson replaced Lindgren, as Åkerfeldt explained:

“Fredrik was the only name that popped up thinking about a replacement for Peter. In my opinion he’s one of the top three guitar players out of Sweden. We all get along great as we’ve known each other for maybe four years and he already has the experience to take on the circus-like lifestyle we lead as members of Opeth.”

Opeth performed nearly 200 concerts in support of Ghost Reveries

Watershed and In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (2008–2010)

Main articles: Watershed and In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall

Opeth entered Fascination Street Studios in November 2007 to record their ninth studio album, with Åkerfeldt producing. By January 2008, Opeth had recorded 13-songs, including three cover songs. The finished album, Watershed, features seven tracks, with cover songs used as bonus tracks on different versions of the album. Watershed was released on June 3, 2008. Åkerfeldt described the songs on the album as “a bit more energetic”. Opeth toured in support of Watershed, including headlining the UK Defenders of the Faith tour with Arch Enemy, an appearance at Wacken Open Air, and the Progressive Nation tour with headliner Dream Theater. Watershed was Opeth’s highest-charting album to date, debuting at number 23 on the US Billboard 200. Watershed debuted on the Australian ARIA album charts at number seven and at number one on Finland’s official album chart.

Opeth went on a worldwide tour in support of the album. However, gigs in Spain and Portugal were cancelled due to the Burning Live Festival being cancelled, and four concerts from June 26 to June 29 had to be cancelled due to Mikael Åkerfeldt having chicken pox. Two of the festivals Opeth were supposed to play at were Hovefestivalen and Metaltown in Sweden. Their replacement for both the absences was Satyricon. From September to October, Opeth toured North America again backed by High on Fire, Baroness, and Nachtmystium. They returned to tour Europe for the rest of the year with Cynic and The Ocean.

Opeth wrote and recorded the new track, “The Throat of Winter”, which appeared on the digital EP soundtrack of the video game, God of War III. Åkerfeldt described the song as “odd” and “not very metal.”

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Opeth performed a six-show, worldwide tour called Evolution XX: An Opeth Anthology, from March 30 through April 9, 2010. Blackwater Park was performed in its entirety, along with several songs never before performed. Åkerfeldt stated, “I can’t believe it, but, fuck, we’re celebrating 20 years. I’ve been in this band ever since I was 16. It’s insane.” A special edition of Blackwater Park was released on the March 29, 2010, to coincide with the tour.

The Evolution XX concert of April 5, 2010, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England was filmed for a DVD/live album package titled In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The set was released on September 21, 2010, in 2-DVD and 2-DVD/3-CD configurations. For the DVD the concert was split into two sets. The first set consists of the entire Blackwater Park album, while the second set contains one song from every album excluding Blackwater Park, in chronological order representing the twenty years of “evolution” in their music.

Heritage (2011–2013)

Åkerfeldt stated in September 2010 that he was writing for a new Opeth album. The band announced on their website that they would start recording their tenth album on January 31, 2011, at the Atlantis/Metronome studios in Stockholm, once again with Jens Bogren (engineering) and Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree as co-producer.

In April 2011, shortly after mixing was complete on the new album, Opeth announced that Per Wiberg was relieved of his duties in the band. In the press statement, Mikael Åkerfeldt explained the decision, saying, “Mendez, Axe and Fredrik and I came to the decision that we should find a replacement for Per right after the recordings of the new album, and this came as no surprise to Per. He had, in turn, been thinking about leaving, so you could say it was a mutual decision. There’s no bad blood, just a relationship that came to an end, and that’s that.”

Opeth’s tenth album, Heritage, was released on September 14, 2011, to generally favorable reviews. The recording marked a departure from the musical style of the band’s past albums, being only their second album not to feature death growls (the other being Damnation).

Opeth went on their 2011/2012 Heritage Tour through North America and Europe with their new keyboardist, Joakim Svalberg. They played alongside Katatonia in September and October, and with Pain of Salvation in November. The tour continued into 2012 with appearances in Turkey, India, Japan, Greece, Israel, Latin America and Sweden. On February 5, 2012 they played for the first time in Bangalore as part of the second edition of Summerstorm festival. Opeth joined Mastodon for a co-headlining North American tour in April and May 2012, supported by Ghost. Opeth and Mastodon each headlined at specific concerts. Von Hertzen Brothers served as support on Opeth’s Scandinavian tour dates. On the remaining tour dates, support came from Anathema. In December 2012, Roadrunner uploaded a video to YouTube showing the Opeth logo and the text “Spring 2013”. The video’s description states that “Something’s coming…”. Opeth embarked on an Australian tour in March 2013, and continued to play more shows in the coming months. With a total of over 200 shows in support of the album, the touring for it concluded at Melloboat 2013.

Pale Communion (2013–present)

Main article: Pale Communion

In August 2012, Åkerfeldt revealed that he had begun writing new material for what would be the eleventh Opeth album. Åkerfeldt stated that one song sounds like the band Goblin, which is also the working title for the song. An interview in June 2013 revealed that Åkerfeldt already had three songs composed and ready. Åkerfeldt stated about the album, “We’ve been looking at [tracking the next album at] Rockfield Studios in Wales where Queen recorded ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, but we haven’t made a decision yet, but it will be an expensive album. There’s a lot going on, lots of string arrangements that we haven’t had in the past.” When asked if it will it be heavier or softer than Heritage, Åkerfeldt said, “Maybe a little bit heavier, not death metal heavy, but hard rock/heavy metal heavy. There’s also lots of progressive elements and acoustic guitars, but also more sinister-sounding riffs.” Åkerfeldt also produced the new album which will include string instrumentation, something that Åkerfeldt became interested in doing when working on the album Storm Corrosion. On March 20, 2014, Opeth announced that the new album was complete. The Guardianreviewed it positively, calling it “strange, intricate prog-metal genius” somewhat flawed by Åkerfeldt’s indulgent vocal stylings.

On April 7, 2014, Roadrunner Records announced that the title for Opeth’s eleventh album is Pale Communion. Pale Communion was released on August 26, 2014. The first single, “Cusp of Eternity”, was released on June 3, 2014.

Musical style and influence

Influences

As Opeth’s primary songwriter and lyricist, vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt heads the direction of Opeth’s sound. He was influenced at a young age by heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Slayer, Death, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Celtic Frost, King Diamond, Camel, Morbid Angel, and most importantly Judas Priest. Åkerfeldt considers Sad Wings of Destiny the best metal album of all time, and notes that there was a time when he only listened to Judas Priest. Åkerfeldt sings “Here Come the Tears” by Judas Priest before most Opeth concerts while warming up.

Genre and sound

Åkerfeldt later discovered progressive rock and folk music, both of which had a profound impact on the sound of the band. Opeth’s distinct sound mixes death metal with progressive rock. In his review of Opeth’s 2001 album Blackwater Park, Allmusic’s Eduardo Rivadavia wrote, “Tracks start and finish in seemingly arbitrary fashion, usually traversing ample musical terrain, including acoustic guitar and solo piano passages, ambient soundscapes, stoner rock grooves, and Eastern-tinged melodies—any of which are subject to savage punctuations of death metal fury at any given moment.” Åkerfeldt commented on the diversity of Opeth’s music:

“I don’t see the point of playing in a band and going just one way when you can do everything. It would be impossible for us to play just death metal; that is our roots, but we are now a mishmash of everything, and not purists to any form of music. It’s impossible for us to do that, and quite frankly I would think of it as boring to be in a band that plays just metal music. We’re not afraid to experiment, or to be caught with our pants down, so to speak. That’s what keeps us going.”

Vocals

Vocally, Åkerfeldt shifts between traditional death metal vocals for heavy sections, and clean, sometimes whispered vocals over mellow passages. While his death growls were dominant on early releases, later efforts incorporate more clean vocals, with both Damnation and Heritage featuring only clean singing. Rivadavia noted that “Åkerfeldt’s vocals run the gamut from bowel-churning grunts to melodies of chilling beauty—depending on each movement section’s mood.”

Members

Current members

  • Mikael Åkerfeldt – guitars , lead vocals
  • Martín Méndez – bass guitar
  • Martin “Axe” Axenrot – drums, percussion
  • Fredrik Åkesson – guitars, backing vocals
  • Joakim Svalberg – keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals, percussion

Former members

  • Nick Döring – bass
  • Anders Nordin – drums
  • David Isberg – vocals
  • Johan DeFarfalla – bass
  • Peter Lindgren – bass , guitars
  • Andreas Dimeo – guitars
  • Kim Pettersson – guitars
  • Stefan Guteklint – bass
  • Mattias Ander – bass
  • Martin Lopez – drums
  • Per Wiberg – keyboards

Past live musicians

  • Gene Hoglan – drums (2004-2005)

Discography

Studio albums

  • Orchid (1995)
  • Morningrise (1996)
  • My Arms, Your Hearse (1998)
  • Still Life (1999)
  • Blackwater Park (2001)
  • Deliverance (2002)
  • Damnation (2003)
  • Ghost Reveries (2005)
  • Watershed (2008)
  • Heritage (2011)
  • Pale Communion (2014)
  • Sorceress (2016)
  • In Cauda Venenum (2019)

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

  • Gillan sang in a production of Jesus Christ Superstarbefore joining the band. His powerful vocals set the standard for the role.
  • During his time apart from Deep Purple, Gillan formed the predictably titled Ian Gillan Band, which released six albums between 1978 and 1982. He was also in Black Sabbath for a short time (not with Ozzy).
  • Glover has done session and production work for Judas Priest, Nazareth, Spencer Davis, Gillan, and Rainbow. Rainbow is the group Blackmore formed when he left Deep Purple.
  • After leaving Deep Purple, Coverdale went on to stardom in the ’80s hair band Whitesnake.
  • Blackmore rejected comparisons to groups like Black Sabbath. “We don’t just shower the songs with heavy chords and leave it at that,” he said.
  • Their highest-charting album in America was Machine Head in 1972, thanks to “Smoke on the Water.” It only reached #7, but had staying power, selling over two million copies and putting the band in the same sales league with The Who and Led Zeppelin.
  • Guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani has played guitar for the band on tour.
  • Turner started his music career in a Deep Purple cover band. After Gillan’s second departure, he got a chance at the real thing. He had also been a singer for Rainbow.
  • Gillan was in many bands before joining Deep Purple. They include: Wainright’s Gentlemen, The Moonshiners, and the Hickies.
  • Lord was in a band with Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood called The Santa Barbara Machine Head. Lord also was a member of the Artwoods. The lead singer of that group was Ron Wood’s brother, Art Wood.
  • One of Blackmore’s previous bands was called the Roman Empire, which performed wearing gladiator outfits.
  • Deep Purple was originally signed to the Tetragrammaton label, a US-based company owned by comedian Bill Cosby.
  • They adopted the Deep Purple name following a brief Scandinavian tour, immediately after which the quintet began recording their debut album, whose sound was heavily influenced by the US band Vanilla Fudge.
  • Bolin replaced Ritchie Blackmore, who left the band in 1975. Tommy died a year later on December 4, 1976 of a drug overdose at age 25.
  • They held the Guinness Book of World Records title of the Worlds Loudest Band (117 dB) in the 1975-76 edition.
  • Deep Purple has undergone various lineup changes labeled in “Marks.” Mark II was the most successful featuring Ian Gillan as singer, Richie Blackmore as guitarist, Roger Glover on bass, Ian Paice on drums, and Jon Lord on keyboards. Ian Paice is the only original member who was with every variation of the group.
  • The back cover for the Made In Japan album was a photo from a September 30, 1972 gig at the Brixton Sundown (now the Brixton O2 Academy). If you look closely, you may spot the future Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen in the crowd.
  • Original singer Evans used the Deep Purple name to play West Coast bars in the early 1980s.
  • The first album recorded after Gillan and Glover joined was recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; it was a live album called Concerto for Group and Orchestra, with music composed by Jon Lord. Blackmore wasn’t a fan. “I don’t like rock musicians playing with classical orchestras,” he told Cameron Crowe. “I thought it was stupid when we were doing it.”
  • Deep Purple finally made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 – 23 years after they were first eligible. Only the first three lineups were inducted, leaving out Bolin, Turner and Morse. Blackmore skipped the ceremony because he and the current lineup couldn’t come to terms on the performance.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

  • He was born in Detroit. His father was a bandleader and musician who worked in an auto plant to support his wife and two children. He was the younger of two sons, and got less attention from his father.
  • When he was 10, his father abandoned the family completely, leaving for California in search of success that he never achieved. The family moved to a one-room apartment. The burden of supporting the family fell more heavily on the older son. Bob stayed up late listening to a faraway radio station. On a transistor radio and an earplug, he heard James Brown, Garnett Mimms, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and others.
  • He liked James Brown more than the Beatles. His favorite album was James Brown Live at the Apollo, Volume 1.
  • He was a good student in high school and could run a 5:05 mile, at least until he discovered rock and roll. He began staying out all night with his friends, cars circled in a farmer’s field, listening to music on the car radios.
  • In 11th grade, he had a band and was playing bars three nights a week. The applause at the junior prom changed his life.
  • In 1996 he played for nearly a million fans across the country. By 1968, he had five Top 10 singles in the Detroit market. He was unheard of outside Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and a few other Midwest markets, but in Detroit his records outsold The Beatles.
  • He was on the verge of breaking the national charts in 1967 when the record company promoting his single went bankrupt.
  • Motown was the first major label to offer him a contract.
  • His work ethic became a local legend. He played 260 dates in 1975.
  • He scored his first hit with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” which made #17 US in 1969, but he didn’t make the Top 40 again until 1977, with “Night Moves.” He had a lot of regional success in the interim, with songs like “Beautiful Loser” and “Lookin’ Back.”
  • In the early ’70s, he and his band drove 25 hours to Florida, played three straight nights, and then drove 25 hours back, because they couldn’t afford motel rooms. He considered himself more a driver than a singer at the time.
  • In June 1976, he played in front of 50 people in a Chicago bar. Three days later, he played in front of 76,000 devoted fans in the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit.
  • He wrote about characters like Lucy Blue, Chicago Green, Already Eddie and other characters long before Springsteen created Crazy Janey and her mission man.
  • His songs, he thinks, reflect a certain morality: “What happens when you do it wrong and when you do it right.”
  • The characters in many of his songs don’t find the satisfaction or fulfillment that they thought their dreams would hold. They end up “stuck in heaven,” listening to the sound of something far away – a bird on the wing, the sound of thunder. They think back on the promise of younger years, surprised at the passage of time. Only occasionally do they find renewal. More often, they try to make some moment last; they watch it slipping past. The light fades from the screen. They wake up alone. Next time, perhaps, they’ll get it right.
  • He was greatly influenced by early advice from Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, who said, “Do your best, ’cause it’s only gonna last two or three years.” Seger thought his music career would be over by 30, at which point he would motorcycle across Europe and get a real job.
  • He’s a perfectionist who spends months in the studio fixing problems no one else can hear. He’s a Taurus, which means “You can’t move him with a crane.”
  • He admires Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell.
  • He believes his rock and roll savagery was tempered for many years by the need to produce mainstream records.
  • He has sold nearly 50 million albums, including 10 consecutive million-selling albums between 1975 and 1995.
  • His music didn’t appear on streaming services like Spotify until 2017. Any revenue he lost from holding out was likely more than compensated for by huge catalog sales – his Greatest Hits album sold 5 million copies in America from 2002-2017.

Psychedelic Lunch