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

A brief history of psychedelic rock. Black light posters, trippy music and high fidelity quad speakers. Psychedelic rock as another momentary fad, pretty much dead in the water by mid-1968, the influence of psychedelic rock runs long and deep.

Beginnings: Psychedelic rock originated on the American West coast out of the hippie movement of the mid-to-late 1960s. First taking root in the San Francisco Bay area, psychedelic rock’s popularity quickly spread throughout America and to Europe.

Images of the counterculture of the 1960’s, Woodstock, and big names such as Jimi Hendrix or The Doors are what people first think upon hearing psychedelic rock. In fact, many of the bands we consider to be pillars of classic rock are considered psychedelic rock bands. Even the earliest psych albums are influential to this day, each post 1960’s decade heralding a revival of the genre. Important features are heavy reverb, a large key presence (especially electronic organs), Eastern instruments and musical themes, long instrumental sections, and surreal lyrics that often reference the use of hallucinogenic drugs.

Growing up on albums like Disraeli Gears and The Dark Side of the Moon were integral in the development of my personal music taste and exploring my own definition of music. Maybe this is why we love psychedelia- it reminds us of our parents, our grandparents, or our very first album. Perhaps it reminds you of the first song you heard on the radio.

The year is 1965. A clear youth counterculture has begun to emerge, experimenting in their usage of drugs such as weed, psilocybin, and LSD. A little over a decade has passed since the term “rock and roll” has been coined. The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13thFloor Elevators is released, its liner notes and album art explicitly advocating the use of LSD as a means of freeing the soul and expanding the mind. 13th Floor members Roky Erickson, referred to as the “godfather of psychedelic rock,” and Tommy Hall are credited with coining the term “psychedelic rock”.

Hall’s use of the electric jug in particular is a key element of reproducing the feel of an acid trip in music, emulating a bending of reality and a trance-like state. The lyrics also incite a distant, out-of-body feeling, from lyrics about “liquid distant castles” to “living on monkey island”.

Although moderate in success, the album is arguably one of the most influential in establishing the genre and helped Austin grow as a hub of music in the South. Other notable artists to emerge out of the Texas psychedelic rock scene include Janis Joplin, Red Krayola and Bubble Puppy. At the same time, author Ken Kesey and a group called The Merry Pranksters were touring the San Francisco Bay Area handing out acid (not yet outlawed), accompanied by early performances by The Grateful Dead, and visuals created by oil projections in what would later be known as “The Acid Tests”. As LSD became more influential in youth culture, it became more and more clear across the nation that it would shape the next wave of music.

The following year, The Beach Boys release Pet Sounds, not only hailed as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time, but the defining album in bridging psychedelic rock and pop music.

Another pioneering album in psychedelic rock history, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club.

In response, a British psychedelic rock scene began to grow, more experimental and pop-like in its sound than the heavy American counterpart which paved the way for the birth of metal and prog.

In 1969, psychedelic rock reached the peak of its popularity. This is the year we get the Woodstock Festival, one of the most definitive moments in rock and roll. This is the height of youth counterculture, and within the same year it comes crashing down with many “acid causalities”.

Although a few psychedelia bands remained, throughout the 80’s it mostly served to influence new genres such as the alternative scene, grunge and industrial rock in the 1990’s with such acts as The Flaming Lips, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Sound Garden and Alice in Chains. Although they achieve some popular success, this “neo-psychedelia” is still decidedly underground. It is not until around 2001, with the so-called “revival” of rock and roll and a flourishing and increasingly popular alternative scene that many neo-psychedelia bands form.

As the indie scene began to take on a particularly large role with youth in 2010-onward, so did psychedelia and its influences. Today, we see the development of subgenres like acid house and trance music developing from the once again rising psychedelic rock scene. Whether a lifelong fan or a listener trying to branch out, perhaps it’s time to spin that acid rock vinyl at the bottom of the bin just one more time.

Psychedelic Lunch


Revered practitioners of the orthodox black metal art, Ofermod, are pleased to announce the recruitment of two new members to their cult. Shadow of Black Altar will be contributing bass, while Black Altar and former Behemoth guitarist Les will be taking up second guitar duties for forthcoming Ofermod live ceremonies. Shadow and Les are the perfect match both musically and spiritually for the Ofermod coven who have strong ties to the magic order of the Dragon Rouge. Be prepared to witness acts of great draconian magic when this new line-up of Ofermod take to the stage!

Watch this space for more news as this great alliance develops…

Visit Black Altar’s demonic domain here
Visit Black Altar on Facebook
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Ofermod recruit Black Altar members to their dark ranks for live rituals!

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series, “Women in History Week,” where wefind out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!

When it comes to discussing influential women in rock history, you absolutely cannot skip over Janis Joplin. In terms of musical style, she adopted more of a psychedelic blues sound herself, but her impact on the genre reaches far beyond her specific sound. Joplin’s expressiveness and sense of self in a time where society still had expectations on how a woman should behave were quite frankly groundbreaking. Janis wasn’t afraid of embracing her sexuality on stage and was also one of the first artists to sport a visible tattoo while in the public eye.

Her career may have been short, but her mark on the music scene inspired countless other performers.

She Didn’t Fit In With Her Peers

Joplin was born on Jan. 19, 1943, in the racially segregated town of Port Arthur, Texas. Her early belief in desegregation set her apart from her high school peers, and they often teased her for being different. As a result, Joplin would frequently skip classes, attending only what she needed in order to graduate. Her proud stance on segregation was linked to her love of blues music, particularly the music of iconic singers Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith.

She Tried To Be Conservative — And Failed

By 1965, Joplin was regularly using amphetamines, and other drugs. She left San Francisco and went home to Texas to try to get her life back on track. She took a break from music and partying and tried hard to lead a more conventional lifestyle — even dressing conservatively and putting her hair in a bun — but it was short-lived.

She Needed A Band To Break Into Music

The lure of the music scene was too much for Joplin to resist, and in 1966 she returned to San Francisco and joined the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. (She was actually due to get married that year but called off the wedding to join the band.) The band’s performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival earned them rave reviews, and their 1968 album, “Cheap Thrills,” was a huge hit.

Ultimately, She Was Better Off Alone

As the frontwoman of the band, Joplin’s powerful vocals and drug- and alcohol-fueled performances (she often drank booze straight from the bottle during gigs) got most of the attention, which eventually led to friction between Joplin and her bandmates. Joplin also felt that the band was holding her back professionally, and she eventually decided to go solo. Her last performance with Big Brother and the Holding Company was in December 1968.

She Loved Painting And Poetry

Joplin was an outspoken rebel, but she also had a sensitive side. Her interests included painting, reading and writing poetry. When she appeared on “The Dick Cavett Show” with actress Raquel Welch, she encouraged Welch to read F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1991, an oil painting by 13-year-old Joplin was found in a supply cabinet at her old church and donated to the Museum of Gulf Coast.

She Once Broke A Bottle Over Jim Morrison’s Head

Joplin and musician Jim Morrison had a love of drinking in common, but Joplin was turned off by Morrison’s obnoxious behavior. At a party held by producer Paul Rothchild, Joplin rejected Morrison’s advances, but he persisted — until Joplin hit him over the head with a bottle of Southern Comfort. According to the biography, “Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison” by James Riordan, despite being knocked out by the blow, Morrison continued to admire Joplin, enthusing, “What a great woman! She’s terrific!”

She Performed With Tina Turner

Joplin was a big fan of Tina Turner. During a 1969 interview on “The Dick Cavett Show,” Cavett asked Joplin who she goes to see when she wants to see a good concert. “Tina Turner. Fantastic singer, fantastic dancer, fantastic show,” she replied. It seemed that the feeling was mutual: On Nov. 27, 1969, Joplin joined Tina on stage at Madison Square Garden for an impromptu duet.

She Never Knew How Successful She Would Be

Joplin’s first solo album, “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!”, released in 1969, wasn’t a big success. In fact, true solo success didn’t come until after her death, with the posthumous album release of “Pearl.” Joplin was still working on “Pearl” when she died, meaning producer Paul Rothchild had to finish the project without her.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series, “Women in History Week,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!

Women’s History Month: Celebrating the Iconic ‘Queen of Soul’

During Women’s History Month we pause to remember and celebrate the achievements of iconic women who positively contributed to shaping the social fabric of America.

One such woman is the spectacular singer, Aretha Franklin. She is still affectionately known as the “Queen of Soul” to her countless millions of fans and others worldwide who span generations of every race, color, gender, age and ethnicity.

Aretha Franklin’s music transcended gender and race.

Life and Legacy

On August 16, 2018, the world lost one of the greatest singers of all time.
Aretha Louise Franklin, the Memphis-born, Detroit-raised singer passed
away at the age of 76.

Franklin had one of the most distinguished voices ever. For more than half a century, her music etched itself into popular culture as readily as the air we breathe and the water we drink.

For many of us, her music was an essential part of our lives.

Her songs nourished our minds, souls, and body. After all, she was indeed the “Queen of Soul!”

Aretha made you move, jump, snap your fingers, move your shoulders, bob
your head, and shuffle your feet. In short, your entire body was invigorated at some level when Ms. Franklin sang.

Earning Respect

In 1967, millions of American women cheered when she powerfully belted
out the words R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Her vocal performance was so dynamic and

“Respect” was originally recorded by Otis Redding.

Redding’s song discussed how a woman should respond to and treat the man in her life.

However, Franklin, with an undeniable maturity and unrestrained confidence, took Redding’s message, went on the offense, and produced a revised version that became both a feminist and civil rights anthem.

Franklin was known for her powerful voice. She was also known as a Diva – VH1 devoted a special in her honor with the 2001 show VH1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin.

In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

She was married to her manager, Ted White, from 1962-1969. Like most of her personal life, Aretha refused to discuss it in the press.

She had a lifelong fear of flying, and after a shaky flight aboard a twin-engine plane in 1984, she has refused to fly. This has limited her touring considerably, and cost her the lead role in a musical biography of Mahalia Jackson.

Aretha was a talented piano player. She played on her 1967 hit “Respect.”

She played a waitress in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. This was during a nadir in her career, between her astounding run of hits in the ’60s and ’70s and her resurgence in the mid-’80s.

In 2008, she was voted Greatest Singer Of All Time by the musicians and journalists selected by Rolling Stone magazine to name their favorite singers of the Rock era. Following Aretha were Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and John Lennon. >>

According to her concert contract, Aretha Franklin liked to receive $25,000 of her performance fee in cash on the night of a concert. The rider for her live shows also stated that the Queen of Soul and her security personnel must be accommodated in hotel rooms below the 5th floor.

Aretha Franklin held the mark for the most Hot 100 entries among women from 1977 until 2017, when Nicki Minaj overtook her total of 73 visits to the chart.

Aretha Franklin’s voice was legally declared one of Michigan’s natural resources in 1985.

Starting in 1988, she sang the theme song to the popular Cosby Show spinoff A Different World for most of its six-season run (it was originally performed by Phoebe Snow and later Boyz II Men). Aretha’s ex-husband Glynn Turman, whom she married in 1978 and divorced in 1984, played math professor Colonel Taylor on the show.

Aretha Franklin went to the same school, Hutchins Junior High, as Lamont Dozier. She was a year younger than the future Motown songwriter; he used to go every Sunday to her father’s church just to watch her perform.

She had four children, all boys. The first came when she was 12 years old; the second when she was 14.

In 1968, a faux Franklin named Vickie Jones started playing shows in Florida as Aretha, keeping up the ruse until Franklin’s people found out and had her arrested. Jones thought she was booked as the opening act for Franklin when she traveled to Florida at the behest of her promoter, who told her she would instead be performing as Franklin. Jones could sing so convincingly that audiences thought she was the real deal. She was found innocent, and her arrest brought her enough notoriety to draw respectable crowds touring under her own name.

Psychedelic Lunch

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

This is part of Tommy, the first “rock opera.” Tommy is about a young man who is deaf, dumb, and blind, but becomes a pinball champion and gains hordes of adoring fans. It was made into a play and continues to run as an off-Broadway production.

Tommy was made into a movie in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson, Ann Margaret, Tina Turner, and Roger Daltrey (who played Tommy). Elton John made an appearance as The Pinball Wizard and performed this song. His version hit UK #7.

Pete Townshend wrote this. It existed mostly in his head while they were recording it, and the other members of The Who had no idea how most of the story would end until they finished it. Townshend was not credited as the only songwriter on the project – John Entwistle wrote “Cousin Kevin” and “Fiddle About,” and Keith Moon got credit for “Tommy’s Holiday Camp.”

This was the last song written for Tommy. Townshend wrote it when he found out influential UK rock critic Nik Cohn was coming to review the project. Townshend knew Cohn was a pinball fanatic, so he put this together to ensure a good review. Cohn gave it a great review, and pinball became a main theme of the rock opera.

The character Tommy played pinball by feeling the vibrations of the machine. Townshend liked how that related to listeners picking up the vibrations of the music to feel the story.The single version was sped up to make it more radio-friendly.

This was the most famous and enduring song from the Tommy project. Along with “See Me, Feel Me,” it is one of 2 songs from the album that The Who played throughout their career.

The Who performed this at Woodstock in 1969. The song was still fairly new, so many in the crowd did not recognize it. The Who were given the early morning slot, so they ended up playing this as the sun came up.

The Who performed the entire album from start to finish on their subsequent tour. Two of the dates were in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

The famous guitar riff was sampled by The Shocking Blue on their 1969 hit “Venus,” which was covered by Bananarama in 1986.

The album got The Who out of a financial mess. After a legal battle with their manager, Shel Talmy, and some bad business deals in England, they were facing bankruptcy if it didn’t sell.

Townshend played a 1968 Gibson SG Special guitar on this song.

Psychedelic Lunch

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

In the early hours of May 25, 1996, 28-year-old singer and guitarist Bradley Nowell called Troy, his wife of exactly one week and mother of his 11 month-old son, Jakob. Earlier that night, Sublime had played at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, about seven hours north of Nowell’s home in Long Beach, California. Although the show went well and everything seemed fine, it would be the last time Troy would ever speak to her husband.

At the time of his lethal heroin overdose, Nowell and his reggae-infused punk band were winding through a five-date promotional run for the upcoming release of their self-titled third album and major label debut, set for release two months later. By all appearances, Nowell had been doing much better in his long battle with heroin addiction, and he had been doing his best to stay clean.

Sublime played their first show on July 4, 1988 at Harbor Peninsula, a small club in Long Beach, California. As legend has it, the performance initiated a small-scale riot, now known as the Peninsula Riot.

Their first record, 40 Oz. to Freedom, was released through a homemade label, Skunk Records, started by Nowell and Sublime manager Miguel. It sold an amazing 5,000 copies before they were signed to MCA and spent over 50 weeks on Billboard’s Alternative New Artist chart.

Their commercial breakthrough didn’t occur until July that year after Nowell’s death when their third, self-titled album was released.

Miguel (a.k.a. Michael Happoldt) played a major role in the band, playing several instruments on their first album and producing their outtakes collection Second-hand Smoke after Nowell died.

Wilson and Gaugh continued in music after Nowell’s death. They formed the Long Beach Dub Allstars, which released their first album in 1999.

Lou Dog was Nowell’s dog, a dalmatian. He was name-checked in several songs, not to mention the backing vocals he contributed. Some consider him the fourth member of the band. Once, he was lost in Costa Rica, but was quickly recovered… in the jungle. Lou Dog died in 2001.

Artists that have been cited as Sublime influences: Black Flag, the Specials, KRS-One, the Circle Jerks, Selector, Run-D.M.C., and NWA. Artists that Sublime toured with: Firehouse, No Doubt, the Ramones, the Melvins and Butthole Surfers.

Gaugh on politics: “We’re pro-choice. We think everyone should have the right to smoke pot or not.”

Nowell’s first band was formed when he was 13 and was called Hogan’s Heroes.

One night, they found a man in a halfway house named Raleigh Theodore Sakers. He began hallucinating and the band pulled out their tape recorder. Some of his ramblings can be heard on their second album, Robbin’ the Hood.

The Long Beach Dub Allstars include Marshall Goodman, who was in charge of samples and turntables for Sublime, and singer Opie Ortiz, who did artwork for Sublime.

Brad’s heroin addiction got so bad he got the tattoos to his elbow and underarm just to hide his track marks.

Bud Gaugh was drunk before one show and decided to go BMX riding. He fell flat on his back and broke two ribs. He finished off the tour and only got minimum medical attention.

Paul Leary, who produced their 1996 self-titled album, is the guitarist in the Butthole Surfers. “He heard our song ‘Date Rape’ on the radio, so we hooked up back then,” Eric Wilson said in an interview “And ever since then, there’s no reason looking for anyone else. He’s such a perfectionist when it comes to producing.”

Leary also produced the 2015 Sublime With Rome album Sirens.

After Bradley wore out his Ibanez, he got a custom-built guitar from a friend to which he gave the affectionate name, “The Brown Guitar.” It was designed especially for him and now is owned by his family in Long Beach, California.

When Nowell was 11 years old, he went to the Virgin Islands with his dad. This was when he was introduced to reggae, which greatly influenced his music.

The last show that Sublime played was at Petaluma, California, which took place on May 24, 1996, about 8-12 hours before Nowell was found dead in his hotel room. This is quite a rare recording, as most websites have been forced to remove links to it. However, there are a lot of fans who still hold these recordings. The show was eventually given the name “Play Nice in the Pit.”

Psychedelic Lunch

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

Paul Simon wrote this about providing comfort to a person in need. It started as a modest gospel hymn but became more dramatic as he put it together. Speaking in the documentary The Making of Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon said, “I have no idea where it came from. It came all of the sudden. It was one of the most shocking moments in my songwriting career. I remember thinking, ‘This is considerably better than I usually write.”

Art Garfunkel sang this alone, although he thought Simon should have sung it. Said Simon, “Many times I’m sorry I didn’t do it.”

Simon often sang it at his solo shows; at the last concert of his 2018 farewell tour, he introduced it by saying, “I’m going to reclaim my lost child.”

At first, Simon thought the opening lyrics were too simple: “When you’re weary, feeling small.When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.” He later realized that it was this simplicity that helped give the song a universal appeal.

Simon wrote this song with just two verses, considering the song “a little hymn.” Garfunkel and producer Roy Halee heard it as more epic, and convinced him to write a third verse, which Paul did in the studio (the “Sail on, Silvergirl part”). This was very unusual for Simon, as he usually took a long time writing his lyrics. Simon’s “little hymn” got a grand production, and after hearing it, Paul thought it was too long, too slow and too orchestral to be a hit. Clive Davis at Columbia Records is the one who heard the commercial appeal of the song, and insisted they market it like crazy and use it as the album title.

This is one of the most-covered songs ever. In the ’70s, so many people sang a version that it became a bit of a joke, the punch line being that most renditions were terrible, as the song is very hard to sing with any competence. Years later, the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Free Bird” reached a similar level of musical ubiquity.

Elvis Presley did a version of this song that helped win over many critics who claimed he was not a great vocalist. It appears on his 1970 album That’s The Way It Is.

Paul Simon said this about the Elvis recording: “It was in his Las Vegas period and done with conventional thinking. He sang it well, but it would have been nice to hear him do it gospel because he did so many gospel albums and was a good white gospel singer. It would have been nice to hear him do it that way, to take it back – as opposed to the big ending; he seemed to end everything with a karate chop and an explosion. So he didn’t really add anything to the song. It’s not nearly as significant as the Aretha Franklin recording. It’s just a pleasure for me that Elvis Presley recorded one of my songs before he died.”

The production was modeled on Phil Spector’s “Old Man River” by The Righteous Brothers. Spector is famous for his “Wall Of Sound” production technique, and when he did “Old Man River,” he kept it mostly piano through most of the song but had it end with a flourish of instruments.

Simon wrote this song on guitar, and it took about two days to come up with the piano part, which was played by Larry Knechtel, who later joined the soft rock group Bread. Simon, Garfunkel, Knechtel and the album’s producer Roy Halee worked together to transform it into a piano piece. Knechtel, who was best known as a bass player, had a background in gospel music and was able to come up with the gospel piano sound they were looking for.

The line “Sail on, silver girl” is often reputed to refer to a needle (meaning the song is about heroin) but it actually refers to Simon’s girlfriend (and later wife) Peggy Harper who found a few gray hairs and was upset. The lyric was meant as a joke – Simon calling her “Silver Girl” because of her hair.

Around the time he wrote this, Simon had been listening to a lot of music by the gospel group The Swan Silvertones, which he says subconsciously influenced his decision to put gospel changes in the song. A Swan Silvertones song called “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep” contains the line “bridge over deep water,” which may have seeped into Simon’s subconscious as well. In 1973, Simon had the group’s singer Claude Jeter sing on his UK hit “Take Me To The Mardi Gras.”

Simon started writing this In 1969 at a summer house that he and Garfunkel rented on Blue Jay Way in Los Angeles (Garfunkel was in Mexico acting in the film Catch 22 at the time). It was the same house where George Harrison wrote The Beatles song “Blue Jay Way.”

The string section was arranged by Ernie Freeman. After listening to Simon’s demo, he made up the arrangements for the musicians, and wrote the song title as “Like A Pitcher of Water.” Simon got a kick out of how Freeman didn’t even bother listening to the words, and made a framed copy of one of the music sheets with Ernie’s title.

Simon played a stark version of this at the 2001 “Tribute To Heroes” benefit telethon for the victims of the terrorist attacks on America. Other performers included Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Mariah Carey. Almost 60 million people watched the show in the US. To put that in perspective, the Super Bowl draws about 80 million viewers.

In 2008 it was reported that Paul Simon sued a musical clock company for using this song without permission. His lawyers claimed that Rhythm Watch Co Ltd and its subsidiary had used its tune on 40,000 clocks, making a profit of around $3.7 million.

Some of the top Los Angeles session players performed on this track: Joe Osborn on bass and Hal Blaine on drums. Blaine’s drums were muted for most of the song, but recorded in an echo chamber for the last part of the song to get the crashing effects. Garfunkel’s vocals were added last.

Before this song was released, Simon & Garfunkel performed it on a six-city tour in 1969 they embarked on with the session musicians who played on the album as their band. Art Garfunkel would introduce it as a new song, and by the end of each performance there would be rapturous applause. Recordings from this tour were eventually released on their Live 1969 album.

This was included on the 2001 Columbia Records benefit CD God Bless America. Proceeds from the disc went to the Twin Towers Fund.

Bridge Over Troubled Water was the last album Simon & Garfunkel released before they split up. It is the biggest selling ever for Columbia Records.

In 2010, the Songwriters Hall of Fame honored this song with its Towering Song Award. At the ceremony, Art Garfunkel said: “Well, here we are, years later, I’m still singing it from town to town, and it’s completely alive and fresh to me. There is nothing dated, or any feeling of the past – I love doing it. Thank the Lord the feeling – the goose bumps – constantly checks in every time I do it.”

Aretha Franklin’s version, a #1 R&B hit, won the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. While most of her hits from the era featured Muscle Shoals musicians, this one brought in a different group of noted session players, including Billy Preston (organ), Chuck Rainey (electric bass), Cornell Dupree (guitar), Ray Lucas (drums) and King Curtis (tenor sax).

Psychedelic Lunch

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

Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as “The Wallflower,” “At Last,” “Tell Mama,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” and “I’d Rather Go Blind” (for which she wrote the lyrics). She faced a number of personal problems, including drug addiction, before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch.

Etta had a very tumultuous childhood as she was brought up by foster parents who ill-treated her. By the age of 5, she was known as a gospel prodigy, gaining fame by singing in her church choir and on the radio. At 12, she moved north to San Francisco, formed a trio and was soon working for band leader Johnny Otis. Four years later, she recorded, Roll with Me Henry, with the Otis band. After signing with Chicago’s Chess Records her career began to soar. She continued to work with Chess throughout the 1960s and early ’70s. Sadly, heroin addiction affected both her personal and professional life. With suggestive stage antics and a sassy attitude, she continued to perform and record well into the 1990s. She possessed the vocal range of a contralto and was initially marketed as R&B and doo-wop singer but broke through as a traditional pop-styled singer, covering jazz and pop music standards. Always soulful, her extraordinary voice was showcased to great effect in singles such as, At Last, Dance With Me Henry and I’d Rather go Blind. As she entered her 70s, Etta James began struggling with health issues and eventually succumbed to Leukemia.

James is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

Psychedelic Lunch

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

HOPKINS, SAM [LIGHTNIN’] (1911–1982).Sam (Lightnin’) Hopkins, blues singer and guitarist, was born in Centerville, Texas, on March 15, probably in 1911. Though some sources give his year of birth as 1912, his Social Security application listed the year as 1911. He was the son of Abe and Frances (Sims) Hopkins. After his father died in 1915, the family (Sam, his mother and five brothers and sisters) moved to Leona. At age eight he made his first instrument, a cigar-box guitar with chicken-wire strings. By ten he was playing music with his cousin, Texas Alexander, and Blind Lemon Jefferson , who encouraged him to continue. Hopkins also played with his brothers, blues musicians John Henry and Joel.

By the mid-1920s Sam had started jumping trains, shooting dice, and playing the blues anywhere he could. Apparently he married Elamer Lacey sometime in the 1920s, and they had several children, but by the mid-1930s Lacey, frustrated by his wandering lifestyle, took the children and left Hopkins. He served time at the Houston County Prison Farm in the mid-1930s, and after his release he returned to the blues-club circuit. In 1946 he had his big break and first studio session—in Los Angeles for Aladdin Recordings. On the record was a piano player named Wilson (Thunder) Smith; by chance he combined well with Sam to give him his nickname, Lightnin’. The album has been described as “downbeat solo blues” characteristic of Hopkins’s style. Aladdin was so impressed with Hopkins that the company invited him back for a second session in 1947. He eventually made forty-three recordings for the label.

Over his career Hopkins recorded for nearly twenty different labels, including Gold Star Records in Houston. On occasion he would record for one label while under contract to another. In 1950 he settled in Houston, but he continued to tour the country periodically. Though he recorded prolifically between 1946 and 1954, his records for the most part were not big outside the Black community. It was not until 1959, when Hopkins began working with legendary producer Sam Charters, that his music began to reach a mainstream White audience. Hopkins switched to an acoustic guitar and became a hit in the folk-blues revival of the 1960s.

Psychedelic Lunch

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

Jazz Legend John Coltrane

Few dispute that John Coltrane was the greatest jazz saxophonist that the world has seen. He was known for his lush tone and masterful control of the upper register. His incredible coordination allowed him to play the tones of chords in such rapid succession that they were referred to as “Coltrane’s sheets of sound.” Coltrane was innovative in his use of improvisation and arrhythmic music. There was no doubt that his childhood in High Point allowed his creative spirit to thrive.

John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, on September 23, 1926. His family moved to High Point when he was only 3 months old. Coltrane spent the first 17 years of his life in High Point at 118 Underhill Street. While at William Penn High School, he began playing the saxophone.

Coltrane moved to Philadelphia in 1943, where he studied music and made his professional debut. He moved from band to band, appearing with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic, and Thelonious Monk.

Although he gained recognition while playing with Miles Davis from 1955 to 1960, Coltrane quickly developed a devoted following when he formed his own quartet in 1960. Named “Jazzman of the Year” in 1965 by local and international critics, John Coltrane was just reaching his prime when he died July 17, 1967, at age 40, in Huntington, New York.

Psychedelic Lunch