Just in case you were wondering, I thought I’d clue you in. Bring you UP to date and all that.
UP is a big fan of Sirius/XM radio. Specifically, 60s on Six, Classic Vinyl, and Classic Rewind. I listen to it all the time in the car, and it brings back memories.
Johnny Carson said while introducing Genya Ravan one night, that the top three female voices in early Rock and Roll were Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Genya Ravan.
Very few people know who Genya Ravan is, and that’s a shame. And, he left one out.
Ronnie Spector – Born Veronica Yvette Bennett in 1943, she started singing early. Her family encouraged it. She was part of the Ronnetts, a multiracial group, which was very rare for the 1960s. She said in her autobiography, “I never knew if I was black or white.” Her mother was African-American and Cherokee and her father was Irish. She married crazy man Phil Spector who is famous for his Wall of Sound music, and his recent murder conviction. You know, “the gun just went off” and all that.
She’s most famous for “Be MyBaby” which we all danced to at sock hops at Germantown and Valley View. She’s been covered by everyone from Bette Midler to John Lennon and Linda Ronstadt. And produced by every one from Phil Spector to Genya Ravan.
Click here to hear Be My Baby.
Speaking of Genya Ravan, she’s one of the greatest voices in rock and roll. I’m often amazed that so many people have never heard of her. Born Genyusha Zelkowitz in 1940 in Lodz, Poland, Genya’s family came to the US when she was an early teen. She was a member of the first successful all-girl band, Goldie and the Gingerbreads. By that time, her mother had changed her name to Goldie. Her real career started in the Lollipop Lounge in NY in 1962. She joined a band called the Escorts, and moved on from there. She has her own website, an autobiography, several recordings with Ten Wheel Drive, and hosts two Radio Shows on you guessed it, Sirius/XM – the Underground Garage channel.
Her song, The Whipping Post, a cover of an Allman Brothers hit, is a wonder. Check it out, here. It was during her “real name” phase, identiy crisis and all that. And Stay With Me, which was recorded with Ten Wheel Drive has been covered by Bette Midler and just about every one else.
Then there’s Grace Slick. Born on Beggar’s Night, 1930 to a well-to-do upper middle class family in Illinois. She is a a direct descendant of passengers of the Mayflower. Her father was promoted and transferred a lot, and they wound UP in Southern California where Grace attended a private all girls high school. She went to Finch College and the University of Miami in Florida. Truly a wild child and 1960’s ICON, she claims she never did drugs, and says her addiction was Dom Perignon Champagne. She said, and I quote, “talk about a drug problem!”.
Her music and her career are legendary. First with the Great Society, then Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship, she’s recorded 30 albums, including four solo products.
White Rabbit is what most of us know her for. Yes, it’s a drug song, and yes, it’s strange, but it was the 60s. Sorry about the crappy recording, and please ignore the Smothers Brothers, it was their show.
And of course, the list would not be complete with out the one, the only, the best, the top of the line, Janis Joplin.
Janis Lyn Joplin, died way too soon. It was her fault, and she deprived us of a muscial legacy that could have been much deeper than what it was. I was, and remain, crazy about her.
Born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1943 to an engineer for Texaco and registrar at a business college, Janis was an emotionally needy child. Her mother said, She was unhappy and unsatisfied without getting a lot of attention. The normal rapport wasn’t adequate.” I identified with that early.
She was an outcast, Other kids at high school would routinely taunt her and call her names like “pig,” “freak” or “creep. She was rebellious, cultivated an outre personality, and wore “crazy clothes” and a bee-hive hair-do. Didn’t everyone back then?
Her voice was noticed by the acid rock group Big Brother and The Holding Company with whom she recoreded several albums. The attention Janis got overshadowed the band, resentments grew, and she announced in 1968 that she was leaving. She started her short-lived solo career by forming Kozmic Blues Band. Her drug and alcohol abuse escalated and the Kozmic Blues got the blues and quit.
Janis actually got “clean” for a while in Rio. She’d met a man, they were in love, and things looked UP. Once back in the states her drug abuse and addiction to alcohol came back, he couldn’t take it, and they split UP. She started singing again, formed Full Tilt Boogie Band and recorded her most famous album, though not her best, Pearl.
Her drugs of choice were Heroin and Southern Comfort. She drank it from the bottle while on stage and their sales skyrocketed. Her addictions finally caught UP with her, she died of an overdose and complications from alcohol sometime the night of Saturday October 3rd or Sunday AM October 4th. It was a total waste of life. I miss what she could have been.
Who’s your favorite Rock and Roll Woman?