Category Archives: Artists



It was about five months ago when I was sitting in a small basement somewhere. I was surrounded by people of all ages and up on stage was an Elvis Presley impersonator. The crazy thing was, every single person in that cramped little basement, even the five and ten-year-old people, were singing along with the great man on stage. This is despite the fact that the real Elvis Presley passed away up to twenty years before these people were even a twinkle in their parent’s eye. This in my opinion of a great example of how a single musician has been able to completely change the landscape of the rock music industry.

As we all know, Elvis Presley is one of the best-selling solo musicians, even today. Perhaps the reason for this is the man had an ability to cover almost every single genre with relative ease. One hit may have been a rock and roll song, another may have been gospel and another may have had blues elements thrown into the mix. As a result of the versatility of his music and voice he was able to pull people in with relative ease, in fact, I am willing to bet that there are very few people out there in the Western World who do not have a favourite ‘Elvis Presley’ song.

Perhaps one of the greatest contributions Elvis Presley made at the time was being credited with the invention of ‘rockabilly’ music, although to be fair he was only a major player in its development. This was a genre that had been around for a while but had yet to hit the mainstream. However, it was in 1954 that he launched a song which really helped to define the genre, and things really exploded from there. Over the next few years, certainly up until he began his movie career and paused a little for a military service, he started to blend various genres into one song. A practice which still exists today but started with Elvis. Perhaps one of the more notable of his songs in this regarded is ‘That’s All Right’ which was a careful blend of boogie, country and blues. Take a listen sometime, you will be surprised.

Sometime after he launched his successful ‘comeback special’, he started to head down a much harder rock approach. Sure, this isn’t anything like what we know has hard rock at this time, but it was certainly something crazy back them. Although later on he started to tone it down to a more ‘pop music’ approach, although to be fair it was nothing like the pop music that we know and love today. Instead back then it was all about the ballads. Take a list to ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ for an excellent example of this.

Now, it is worth noting that despite being credited with the invention of the ‘Rock N’ Roll’ genre, Elvis didn’t. He merely brought it to the public’s attention. Perhaps the man reason for this was the fact he starred in a number of movies around that time, although they were for the most part critically panned. What people need to realize is that the music in the 1950s was completely different from the 1960s. Children around the globe sought to differentiate themselves from their parents, and this came in the form of listening to different music and dressing in different ways. Elvis Presley was who they looked to for influence as they could both see him and hear his music. In my opinion, this was one of the first times in which musical tastes and dress sense actually crossed in such a way. This is obviously a practice which continues to this very day.

Of course, this is just a brief mention of how Elvis Presley contributed to the music of the 1960s and beyond. There are so many more things that you can look into, for example, the fact that he was constantly able to craft his sound to keep up with changing interests in his target audience. It doesn’t matter how you look at it though, this was a gentleman which is still listened to nowadays, still influencing major artists, and still selling a lot of records. The 60’s truly was a fantastic time for music.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

4 Seasons album
4 Seasons album

It’s late December 2012 as I update this page, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are still performing to sold-out shows around the world. Their unique Italian influenced doo-wop sound with Franki’s strong falsetto have a big part in rock history.

Their many honors include induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, and a hit musical “Jersey Boys” based on their careers. As a group, they are amongst the best-selling music groups of all time having sold over 175 million records worldwide.

The powerhouse combination of Franki Valli singing and Bob Gaudio’s writing produced hit after hit and 27 Top 40 singles. Their music was strong enough that they not only survived survive the British Invasion in 1964, but they also had their strongest year ever, matching The Beach Boys as the only white American bands that didn’t get crushed.

The musical “Jersey Boys” musical opened on Broadway in 2005, documenting the rise and eventual break up of the original members of the Four Seasons. It was a hit, won a bunch of awards, and is still touring worldwide.

Their top hits (with year and position) include:

1962: “Sherry”, peaked at #1 on Billboard Hot 100
1962: “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, #1
1963: “Walk Like a Man, #1
1963: “Ain’t That a Shame”, #22
1963: “Candy Girl”, #3/”Marlena”, #36
1964: “Dawn (Go Away)”, #3
1964: “Stay”, #16
1964: “Ronnie”, #6
1964: “Alone”, #28
1964: “Rag Doll”, #1
1964: “Save It for Me”, #10
1964: “Big Man in Town”, #20
1965: “Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)”, #12 (“Bye Bye Baby” on initial release)
1965: “Girl Come Running”, #30
1965: “Let’s Hang On!”, #3
1965: “Don’t Think Twice”, #12
1966: “Working My Way Back to You”, #9
1966: “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’bout Me)”, #13
1966: “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, #9
1966: “Tell It to the Rain”, #10
1967: “Beggin'”, #16
1967: “C’mon Marianne”, #9
1967: “Watch the Flowers Grow”, #30
1968: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, #24
1975: “Who Loves You”, #3
1975: “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”, #1
1994: “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”, #14 (remixed dance version)


4 Seasons album Big Girls Don't Cry
4 Seasons album Big Girls Don’t Cry

Franki Valli’s name (born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio) is permafixed to the Four Seasons, but also had a strong solo career with hits like “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” and “Grease”. He also made several appearances in the HBO series The Sopranos as mobster Rusty Millio.

Bob Gaudio was Franki’s partner in The Four Seasons and wrote many of the band’s songs and went on to writing and producing hit songs and soundtracks for many other big names. He’s a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Four Season’s producer Bob Crewe has also written or produced a host of hit tunes for other artists and is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Chuck Berry

We have all seen Back to the Future right? Remember that classic scene near the end where Marty suddenly bursts into a fantastic rendition of ‘Johnny B Goode’? Despite dancing for a while, the whole room quickly falls quiet and looks stunned at something they had never heard before. Despite this being a movie, this was the exact attitude back in the 1950s. They weren’t ready for the crazy music that Chuck Berry was going to be pumping out, although just a few short years later, he was a pioneer of the ‘Rock’ craze, and the face of music would be changed completely forever. Let’s take a little look at his contribution that he made to the music industry.

Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry

If there ever was a pioneer of Rock Music back in the 1960s, it was Chuck Berry. Whilst in the past, rhythm and blues music was rather toned down, Chuck practically reinvented the genre. Not only did he make the music much more upbeat, but he crafted lyrics that were able to appeal to the younger generation. Gone were the slow rock ballads declaring undying love for somebody, in were songs which talked about culture, cars and life at school, all in a fairly humorous way. It really is easy to see how the great man was able to touch a generation. This is a practice which continues to today.

This isn’t all though. Chuck Berry was one of the first musicians ever to take a guitar beyond a simple instrument. There is no denying that Chuck was a great guitarist, he still appears on lists of some of the greatest guitarists of all time right now, however, up until that point guitar took a back seat in much music. It was there, but you just didn’t really think about it. However, Chuck turned this completely on its head. He started to breath life into the guitar, he started incorporating guitar solos into his music, and showmanship like had never been seen before. Who can honestly forget his ‘duck walk’? All rock music since then has incorporated guitars in this way. No longer is it that uncool instrument that takes a back seat. It is often the driving force behind most modern rock music, and one of the most popular instruments in the world. It all started with Chuck, and almost all music nowadays will use variations of licks that Chuck Berry created. He really was that great at changing the face of the genre.

Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music, and his influence on the genre cannot be overstated. He was known for his energetic performances, catchy guitar riffs, and clever lyrics that often spoke to the experiences of teenagers at the time.

In recognition of his contributions to rock and roll, Chuck Berry was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. The Hall of Fame, which is located in Cleveland, Ohio, was established in 1983 to celebrate and preserve the legacy of rock and roll music.

Berry’s induction into the Hall of Fame was a fitting tribute to a man who had helped shape the course of popular music. He was one of the first musicians to incorporate elements of rhythm and blues, country, and swing into his music, creating a sound that was uniquely his own.

Throughout his career, Chuck Berry had numerous hits, including “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Maybellene.” His music continues to be celebrated today and has influenced countless musicians who followed in his footsteps.

In addition to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Chuck Berry received many other honors during his lifetime, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984. He passed away in 2017, but his music and legacy live on.

More on Chuck Berry:  We’ve posted a transcript of an interview with John Brewer who directed the 1998 film “Chuck Berry” here.

Chubby Checker


Chubby Checker is an American rock icon. He became the father of the Twist with his 1960 hit cover of a Hank Ballard’s tune. “The Twist” never hit it big for Ballard but from September 2008 until August 2013, “The Twist” topped Billboard’s list of the most popular singles in the Hot 100 of all time.

The Twist’s main claim to fame was that it was the first popular modern dance where partners danced apart to the beat. Chubby takes credit for the change and said “Anyplace on the planet, when someone has a song that has a beat, they’re on the floor dancing apart to the beat. And before Chubby Checker, it wasn’t here.”. As if the Twist wasn’t enough, he also pioneered “The Jerk”, “The Hully Gully”, “The Boogaloo” and “The Shake”. And he was part of the power behind “The Fly”, “The Pony”, “The Hucklebuck”, and “The Limbo”.

Chubby Checker Twist Album
Chubby Checker Twist Album


I had a chance to see Chubby in concert in 2014. He’s still going strong at 70 and devotes a section of his performance to how “The Hucklebuck” was written and why he was never able to perform it on stage. The dance involves pelvic movement that was censored in the 60s but acceptable now.

Chubby’s dominance of the pop record scene was so great that he still holds the distinctions of:
-Having five albums in the Top 12 at the same time, a feat that hasn’t been matched to this day.
-Being the only artist to have a song hit #1 twice.
-And being the only artist to have 9 double sided hits.

Born as Ernest Evans in Spring Gulley, South Carolina, his family moved to South Philadelphia. He put together a street-corner harmony group later took piano lessons at Settlement Music School. He clowned around by mimicking some of the big voices of the time, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino.

How Chubby Checker Got His Name

His boss at the meat market where he worked was impressed with his impressions and contacted Dick Clark. It didn’t lead to a show appearance right away, but Dick Clark recorded some of his imitations in 1958 as a novelty Christmas tune that he used as a Christmas greeting. The tune, called “The Class” won him a recording contract and was released to the public. At the recording session, Barbara Clark asked him if he had a nickname to record under. He said that his friends called him “Chubby” and, as he had just been mimicking Fats Domino, Barbara suggested Chubby Checker. He had a new name!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Controversy

Despite all of his hits and dance creations, Chubby has been passed over by The Rock and Roll hall of Fame and he’s not happy about it. I can’t blame him! In the July 28, 2001 issue of Billboard Magazine, he bought a full page ad that he addressed to “the Nobel Prize nominators and the nominators of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, TV, radio, motion pictures, entertainment, entertainers, and the general public at large, world wide.” It rambles a bit but finishes up with “I want my flowers while I’m alive. I can’t smell them when l’m dead. The people that come to see the show have given me everything. However l will not have the music business ignorant of my position in the industry. Dick Clark said, and l quote, “The three most important things that ever happened in the music industry are Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Chubby Checker”. Now l ask you. Where is my more money and my more fame? God bless and have mercy. You know I love you.”

Chubby was in the news again in 2013 when he sued Hewlett-Packer for an app named “The Chubby Checker” that estimated a guy’s penis size based on his shoe size. Someone should have known better, especially in a company as big as HP. The App is gone, Chubby is happy to see it go, and I can imagine that HP is still embarrassed over it.