Earlier this month, sleeping pop giant One Direction notched a rather remarkable chart achievement, despite being on hiatus for over a year: all five members of the mega-selling British group have now earned at least one solo top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Louis Tomlinson was the final member to join the club when “Back to You,” featuring Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals, recently debuted at No. 40 on the chart. Liam Payne and Niall Horan each have current Top 20 hits with “Strip That Down” and “Slow Hands,” respectively, while Harry Styles and Zayn have each entered the Top 10 on their ownm with songs like “Sign of the Times” and “Pillowtalk.”
All five of the 1D lads are doing quite well for themselves, and all five have released new music since the start of 2017… and thus, would be eligible for the 2018 Grammy Awards. However, history’s working against the quintet of burgeoning stolo stars: Over the course of their five albums and six Hot 100 Top 10 hits together, One Direction received exactly zero Grammy nominations.
Photo from Lady Gaga’s “day in the life” takeover on Instagram.
Today, our Instagram story is a day in the life of Lady Gaga (@ladygaga), who is out promoting “Perfect Illusion,” her first new pop song in three years. “This record is about me personally as I bring the woman I was in the past into the woman I’ll be in the future,” the six-time Grammy winner told Fresh 102.7 FM in New York City on Monday, about her much-anticipated fifth album. “This is not me being like, ‘Oh, this is the real me, surprise!’ This is just where I am in my life right now, how I feel right now. I always change. Whenever I make a new record, it always teaches me something.” Tap our profile pic to see more from Gaga. 🎤
By nominating Styles, the Grammys get to anoint a new figure in rock music who is already immensely popular and heralded by critics. What’s the downside here?
A quick note about a major category that has been remained untouched in this dissection: Best New Artist. It is possible that one of the 1D boys (maybe Harry, or Niall) snags a nomination in the Big Four category, but more likely that Grammy voters classify them as not-new due to their earlier stardom within One Direction. […] Styles has the best chance at showing up here, but remains a long shot. More likely he’ll show up in a rock category, cause a bunch of grumpy responses from rock fans and help secure 1D member’s first Grammy nod. Six years after their debut album arrived in the U.S., it’s about time the boys participate in music’s biggest night.
When Red was released in 2012, Taylor Swift was unequivocally America’s sweetheart. At 22, she had achieved massive country-crossover success with the release of her previous two albums, Fearless and Speak Now, which alone had spawned ten Top 40 hits and earned her six Grammys, including one for album of the year for Fearless. Given the commercial and critical acclaim, it was hard to imagine how she’d sustain her momentum. Positioned as a loveable underdog — albeit the kind who gets her heart broken by the likes of John Mayer and Jake Gyllenhaal, and whose award victories get disrupted by Kanye West — Red saw Swift seize the moment and embrace her dark horse status. Fearless may have established her as a capable teenage singer-songwriter, but Red is the album that solidified her confidence, sexuality and identity as a bonafide force to be reckoned with.
Red is, in many ways, a transition album. Sonically, it traverses Swift’s country roots and enters proper pop territory, a sphere she would eventually dominate with her colossal album 1989 two years later. With the help of top-tier collaborators, most notably super-producer Max Martin, Red agily dabbles in dubstep, dance-pop and even Brit-rock. Given the fickle nature of Billboard trends and teenage fans, these aesthetic choices were all legitimate risks, even if they were very much of the zeitgeist. That’s not to say Red completely strays from the country sounds of works past: Songs like “Stay Stay Stay” and “I Almost Do” are very much the sonic bread and butter of Swift’s repertoire. Red just expands the range of sounds she’s capable of embracing.
More importantly, Swift uses this variety of sounds to express her biggest transition of all — the one from adolescence into womanhood. Red represents a turning point in not only Swift’s life and career, but in the lives of the fans who grew up with her. On the precipice of adulthood, Swift conveys all the excitement, confusion and heartache that comes with navigating post-adolescent life. Never before has Swift given a voice to such an array of emotions and circumstances in one set of songs. “22” serves as mission statement of sorts: “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time / It’s miserable and magical.” The misery and magic is represented song and song again, from the wide-eyed, pedal steel optimism of “Begin Again” to the cautionary tale of sudden celebrity on “The Lucky One.”
And along with magic and misery comes sex. Red is where Swift’s pivotal shift from innocence to experience to victimhood is on display. Even if it’s couched in coded terms, Red finds Swift referencing sex from the first-person point-of-view — a major distinction from works past. Sex seems like a natural thing for any 22-year-old to discuss in her art. However, up until this point, Swift’s “aw shucks,” good-girl persona relied on virginal assumptions. While her songs may have offered up insights on relationships, they were often based on puppy dog crushes or invoked fairytale tropes. While not quite naive, her awareness on these earlier records was always based on second-hand knowledge.
Back on Fearless’s “Fifteen,” for example, Swift sang about crying alongside a red-haired girl named Abigail who “gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind.” But on Red, Swift assumes Abigail’s position. On the hit single “I Knew You Were Trouble” she’s flown to “places she’s never known” and becomes a “new notch” in someone’s belt, imbuing her image with a newfound sensuality. Unlike the heartbreak of Speak Now’s “Dear John,” in which she laments being “too young to be messed with,” she now she owns up to her naivete: On the vividly detailed “All Too Well,” she walks home alone, thinking about the “plaid shirt days and nights when you made me your own.” As she mourns the loss of innocence — though still notably placing blame on a callous ex, one who’s “so casually cruel in the name of being honest” — the slow-building ballad spotlights the recognition of her own coming-of-age in plaintive, reflective tones. Here, an artist grows up alongside her audience.
It might seem like a minor shift in perspective, but to the millions of young fans who grew up identifying with a Swift’s innocence, the change is downright revelatory. It proves anyone is capable of falling victim to the trauma of a break-up beyond the letdown of a high school crush, even the purest of celebrities. While the narrative of victimhood would eventually subsume her persona, on Red it showcases Swift at her most vulnerable and mature. As she so elegantly states on the album’s opening track “State of Grace,” “love is a ruthless game, unless you play it good and right.” Given her recent high-profile feuds and controversies, Red showcases a version of Swift we may never hear from again.
Theo James and Christina Aguilera join Ewan McGregor in the sci-fi romance “Zoe”
Drake Doremus’ next film, Zoe, is rounding out the cast, adding Christina Aguilera, Rashida Jones, Theo James and Miranda Otto. Matthew Gray Gubler also joins in a supporting role.
Ewan McGregor and Lea Seydoux are starring in the sci-fi romance from the director of Equals and Like Crazy.
IM Global is financing the film alongside China’s HLCG Entertainment.
Scott Free’s Kevin Walsh and Michael Pruss are producing along with
Doremus and Robert George. Ridley Scott is executive producing, and
additional executive producers are IM Global’s CEO Stuart Ford and
president of production Greg Shapiro along with HLCG’s Li Li, Michelle
Tong Zhou and Lawrence Bender. IM Global is also handling international
sales, with UTA representing domestic rights. Principal photography starts in Montreal on May 8. Written by Rich Greenberg (The Beauty Inside), the story
follows two colleagues (played by McGregor and Seydoux) at a
revolutionary research lab who design technology to improve and perfect
romantic relationships. As their work progresses, their discoveries
become more profound than they could ever have imagined. Aguilera has won six Grammys, has served as a coach on the TV series The Voice, and appeared in the film Burlesque opposite Cher, Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming. She also had a role on the TV series Nashville. She is repped by CAA. James was recently seen on the London stage in Sex With Strangers and on the big screen in Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture. His other film credits include the Divergent series starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, Franny opposite Richard Gere and Dakota Fanning and War on Everyone with Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena. He will next be seen in the political thriller Backstabbing for Beginners opposite Ben Kingsley. He’s repped by WME and Markham, Froggatt and Irwin. Jones’ film credits include David Fincher’s The Social Network, I Love You Man starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, and Celeste and Jesse Forever, which
she co-wrote with Will McCormack, executive produced and starred in
alongside Andy Samberg. She can be seen on the third season of TBS’s Angie Tribeca, created by Nancy and Steve Carell, and she co-created and executive produced the Netflix original documentary series Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, which premiered in April. She’s repped by UTA.
Otto can be seen on Fox’s 24: Legacy and recently starred on the fifth season of Showtime’s hit series Homeland. Her film credits include Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film franchise and War of the Worlds starring Tom Cruise, and she will next be seen in Annabelle: Creation, which will be released by Warner Brothers in August. She’s repped by Gersh, Management 360, and Shanahan Management.
Gubler is currently on the TV series Criminal Minds, and his film credits include 500 Days of Summer, Life After Beth, starring Aubrey Plaza and Dane DeHaan, and Band of Robbers, starring Kyle Gallner and Adam Nee. Gubler is repped by CAA.
Lynda Carter was a musician before she started winning beauty pageants, and before she played Wonder Woman on TV. She’s been in other superhero shows as well, both live action and cartoons (She’s even playing the POTUS in the Supergirl live action series), tours with a grammy-winning band, had a #6 album on Billboard’s jazz charts, and more.
She wrote all the songs she sings as Magnolia specifically to fit in with the Fallout world (and let me remind you again–number six record and grammy-winning band) and sings them in character.
You get the idea; basically, she’s got a shitload of geek cred and music cred.
Yet we’ve got fuckboys who think the only reason she’s in Fallout 4 (and half of the Elder Scrolls games) is that her husband was tossing her a bone.
Trust me; she doesn’t need to ask for favors to get extra exposure. Hell, if I were a bigwig at a gaming company and my wife was a lifelong musician and superhero actor with a hit jazz album under her belt, I would BEG her to be in my game.
Verdine White has been a member of Earth, Wind & Fire since 1970, and has worked as a bassist and songwriter for the popular R&B group. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Verdine White grew up to be a talented bass player. When he was still a teenager, Maurice White (his older brother) invited him to join Earth, Wind & Fire. Verdine was part of the band as it skyrocketed to success in the 1970s, and also helped the group reclaim its popularity in the 1990s and 2000s. He has won six Grammy Awards and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1970, Maurice, the founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, invited Verdine to join him in Los Angeles, California, and become a member of the group. Verdine stayed in the band as its membership was reconfigured a couple of years later, welcoming newcomers like singer Philip Bailey, guitarist Al McKay and keyboardist Larry Dunn.
Between 1973 and 1983, Earth, Wind & Fire became an immense, chart-topping success. The band melded pop, R&B and other musical influences on a succession of gold and platinum albums, and also received six Grammy Awards. Their concerts were known for impressive feats of showmanship, including Verdine being lifted into the air while he continued to play bass.
After separating for four years—during which time Verdine worked as a producer and directed videos—Earth, Wind & Fire got back together in 1987. Maurice’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease made him withdraw from touring in the 1990s. However, Verdine stayed on the road with Bailey and percussionist Ralph Johnson. Earth, Wind & Fire also played at the White House for both the Clinton and Obama administrations. Verdine and his fellow band members have received numerous accolades for their work with Earth, Wind & Fire, such as receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1995) and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2000). As a songwriter who contributed to many popular Earth, Wind & Fire songs, including “Fantasy,” “Serpentine Fire” and “That’s The Way of The World,” Verdine also joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010
On this day in music history: May 29, 1984 - “Private Dancer”, the fifth solo album by Tina Turner is released. Produced by Terry Britten, Carter, Rupert Hine, Martyn Ware and Greg Walsh, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios, CBS Studios, Mayfair Studios, Wessex Studios, Good Earth Studios in London and The Farmyard Studios in Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, UK from September 1983, March 1984. By the 80’s, Tina Turner is still in the process of rebuilding her career after divorcing her former husband Ike Turner in 1976. With the help of her new manager Roger Davies, Turner is signed by Capitol Records. Before she can make a record for the label, Tina is nearly dropped by Capitol when new management comes in. Fate intervenes when David Bowie (newly signed to Capitol’s parent label EMI at the time) is having dinner with label executives in New York City. As dinner concludes, Bowie tells them “I’m off to see my favorite singer, Tina Turner”. The execs go with Bowie to see Turner perform at The Ritz, and witness Tina’s electrifying live performance. Not only do they reverse their decision to drop her, they put her in the studio immediately to record. For her first release, Tina works with Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh of Heaven 17 on a cover of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together” (#3 R&B, #26 Pop, #1 Club Play). After the success of that single, Capitol Records requests a full album from Turner as quickly as possible to capitalize on it. The bulk of the albums tracks are recorded and mixed in just seven days in England, with A&R man John “Carter” Carter supervising and gathering material. The album features support from a number of high profile musicians including Jeff Beck, Wilton Felder, Joe Sample, Dire Straits, and The Fixx. “Dancer” spins off five hit singles including “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (#1 Pop, #2 R&B), “Better Be Good To Me” (#5 Pop, #6 R&B), and the title track (#3 R&B, #7 Pop). “Private Dancer” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, and peaking at number three on the Top 200. “Dancer” is nominated for six Grammy Awards (winning four) including Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year in 1985. Subsequent US reissues of the album replace the original cover LP and cassette photo with the inner sleeve image (used on international issues and the US CD as the front cover) with Turner sitting in a chair with a black cat at her feet. The album is remastered and reissued for its thirtieth anniversary in 2015 as a two disc deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original ten song album (US LP and cassette contained nine tracks), with the second disc featuring fifteen bonus tracks including B-sides, 12" mixes and live recordings. “Private Dancer” is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
This cover story by Jonathan Gold first appeared as in the December 1996 issue of Details, photographed by Albert Watson.
On a soundstage done up to resemble a demented interrogation chamber, Chris Cornell is shackled to a perforated metal dentist’s chair of a sort you imagine Trent Reznor has stored in his garage somewhere. Frances Farmer-grade Velcro restraints bind his wrists to a dull gunmetal crossbar that projects from the chair’s back; his temples sprout shiny plastic things that are supposed to be electrodes, but which more closely resemble bubble-packed Drixoral tablets with wires coming out of them. His baggy sharkskin suit is puckered with exertion and sweat.
On Stage 2 of L.A.’s Occidental Studios, the new Soundgarden video is being filmed. Jerry Casale, who used to play bass in Devo but specializes now in directing apocalyptic videos for guitar bands, gestures toward a P.A., who begins to wrap a thick leather strap around Cornell’s forehead, immobilizing the singer in a position halfway between Malcolm McDowell’s posture of repentance in Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange and Cornell’s own patented Jesus Christ pose.
The video is for Soundgarden’s Beatles-tinged agony epic, “Blow Up the Outside World,” and Casale intends to blow up as much of it as possible on this soundstage. Beavis and Butt-head are going to like this one.
“Is it too warm for you in here?” a gofer asks Cornell. “Would you like a drink of water? Can I get you some cookies to munch on while they set up the shot?”
“Is there going to be a grip nearby?” Cornell cracks, avoiding her eyes to the extent that it is possible for him to do anything at all in three hundred pounds of bondage gear. “I mean, in case I need somebody to scratch my nose.”
The P.A. cinches the strap tight across Cornell’s scalp. He shudders with pain.
“When I give the signal, could you twitch a little?” asks Casale. “To make it look as if you’re really being shocked.”
Cornell strains to flip Casale the finger, but the restraints on his wrists limit his gesture to a mile spasm.
“Hmmmmm,” Casale says. “Perfect.”
If you were Chris Cornell, you would have two Grammys, six albums (seven, if you count Temple of the Dog), and three Pomeranians. Posters of your bare chest would be on the walls of teenagers all over the world. You would spend your mornings wake-surfing near your cabin on Puget Sound; your afternoons snowboarding in the Cascades. Your last album would have sold over five million copies in the United States; your current one, the splendid if art-damaged heavy-rock opus Down on the Upside, would already have sold two million in six months. With Aerosmith imploding, Pearl Jam threatened by willful obscurity, and Metallica slumping into boogie-band senescence, you would be the lead singer and principal songwriter of what is poised to be the Greatest Hard Rock Band in the World.
And sometimes—for days, maybe weeks on end—you would be afraid to leave your house.
It’s not that Cornell has been necessarily wounded by fame or anything—he’s not pulling a Billy Corgan. It’s just that he’s much more comfortable at home with his guitar than he is out in the world. He rarely enters the Seattle scene: When I mention Linda’s, the bar that used to function as the Elaine’s of Seattle rockdom, he has trouble placing the name. On the infrequent occasions he does go out to dinner, it is often as the plus-one of his wife of six years, Susan Silver, who manages Soundgarden as well as Crackerbox, Sweetwater, Sponge, and Alice in Chains. (He has been with Silver, who was his first real girlfriend, since 1984; they occasionally seem like separate parts of the same superorganism.) Random Cornell sightings in the Northwest are almost as rare as sightings of Bigfoot.
You’ll never read about Cornell in a gossip column. Until now, he’s never agreed to be the subject of a major magazine feature by himself, has never had his adolescent traumas limned by the teen magazines or been psychoanalyzed by the slicks. Though he’s probably granted more than a thousand interviews, his prejudices, neuroses, his views on music are less known than those of less accomplished guys—Scott Weiland or Layne Staley, say, or even Eddie Vedder, who technically doesn’t do interviews at all.
This low media profile is partially due to the fact that Cornell has always wanted Soundgarden to be seen as a band, and partially because guitarist Kim Thayil is so garrulous and opinionated that it’s easy to let him do the press work. (When I was supposed to interview Cornell for Doug Pray’s Seattle-scene documentary Hype! a couple of years ago, he slipped out of the building while the camera crew was still setting up its lights, so that Kim and the drummer Matt Cameron ended up being the only band members talking about Soundgarden in the film.) But it’s also because Chris is so obviously less himself when he’s talking than he is when he’s shut in some room of his own devising, a thousand miles wide. Although in person he’s rarely less than charming, to strangers Cornell can be so shy, so scant of words, that he can seem practically autistic.
I have never seen him smile more broadly than the moment he was told that an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics described happiness as a psychiatric disorder.
Cigarettes help. So do a couple of cranberry and vodkas on the terrace of his hotel room late at night, high above the Sunset Strip, and a view that stretches for miles.
“I’m lucky I get to go out and sing,” Chris says, fumbling for a cigarette lighter, “because when I’m at home, I don’t talk to anyone; I don’t go out socially. My one outlet is that I get to stand in front of five thousand people and sing ‘Outshined.’ When I’m alone between tours, writing songs, I might not speak a word to another human being for a week or two or three.”
Chris gives up on the cigarette lighter and begins toying with the leaves on a ficus.
“People just don’t realize how much fun it is to be depressed,” he says with a grin—this from the man whose moods may have had as much historical impact on the gloominess of Northwest rock as the surfeit of negative ions in the air.
Chris Cornell on the December 1996 cover of Details.
Once, Chris Cornell was a fairly normal kid in a working class Seattle neighborhood, with decent grades in Catholic school, the usual number of friends, five brothers and sisters, piano lessons, then a drum set. The year his parents split up, the year he turned fifteen, Chris dropped out of school and went to work—”already a blue-collar laborer,” as he puts it—as a cook in one of Seattle’s most famous fish restaurants.
Sometimes he would perform experiments on his coworkers: surreptitiously turning off the radio, fading it out between Bad Company songs, timing how long it took for the other cooks to become agitated. Or, when he noticed that all his colleagues were eating breakfast at the end of the restaurant, he would sit alone at the other. Then he would wait to see how long it would take for them—one by one, day by day—to drift over to his side, at which point he would switch ends again. And once, when he was the head line cook, Chris stopped talking altogether. For two months. It drove his coworkers to distraction. That one almost got him fired.
Chris liked that job. It almost didn’t depend on people skills. And he had his music. “A lot of the people in bands looked at me as a whippersnapper greenhorn for working in a restaurant,” he says, “but these same guys couldn’t afford a pack of smokes. They lived like transients in stairwells and garages, and to make money they’d play Billy Idol songs in some new-wave bar for twenty-five bucks a night.”
In 1984, when he was twenty, music became pretty much a full-time job. By then, he’d hooked up with a bass player named Hiro Yamamoto, who introduced him to guitarist Kim Thayil. The three hit it off pretty well, wrote fifteen songs together in a couple of weeks, songs not unlike a couple of the ones that current bass player Ben Shepherd wrote for Down on the Upside. Chris played drums and sang.
One day, Soundgarden were learning a new song Hiro had written, sort of an angry song with a lot of screaming in it. Chris started to scream the chorus piercingly high, the way Hiro had shown him, but something funny happened. Instead of his voice breaking up, he hit the note. Over the next few weeks, Chris explored the upper register he hadn’t known he had—a superb natural instrument, with a power, an expressive, open-throated grace at the top of its range: the pipes of Robert Plant, maybe, or even Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It was like waking up and discovering not only that the old fiddle you had been using to play “Turkey in the Straw” was a Stradivarius, but that you knew how to play Brahms. Chris gave up drums soon after that.
The first time I saw Chris Cornell onstage was about ten years ago at a dingy East Hollywood punk-rock dive called the Anticlub. The twenty-five or forty kids watching him were probably there to see an L.A. punk band like Saccharine Trust or somebody. Soundgarden weren’t particularly loud, but seemed huge somehow—mountain-sized. The crowd clumped around the perimeter of what was usually the slam pit. They didn’t dance. They didn’t sway. They just stared at Chris as if he were a train wreck, not some shirtless guy singing about the flower, the snake, and the wheel.
The next time I ran into him, backstage at another Hollywood club a couple of years later, amber light seemed to ooze from his face and bare shoulders as he squeezed by in the dark hall, and a dozen conversations stopped short until he found the door to a dressing room and slipped inside.
“What was that?” I asked a friend who had done some of the band’s early promotion.
“That was just Chris,” I was told. “Sometimes he affects people that way.”
“Chris is especially sexual onstage,” Thayil once told me, trying to explain Cornell’s dark-star charisma, “but after the show he’s unavailable. He doesn’t belong to you.”
“Every time I know we have to go out on tour, there’s about three or four weeks where I’m terrified—where I start thinking: That’s not me. I’m not Freddie Mercury. Then I go out onstage and it’s like diving into the cold Puget Sound after spending five weeks in Hawaii—there’s a shock to the system, but the fear goes away.” CHRIS CORNELL
Jimi Hendrix had his mojo. Chris Cornell has his hair. It used to be the best in rock—a thick, healthy, jet-black mass that seemed to begin somewhere in the middle of his forehead and cascade for half a mile over his face and nearly to the floor when he lunged forward with his microphone stand, whipping back over his bare shoulders when he straightened up again. Its kinetic energy, as captured in stop motion by Sub Pop’s house photographer Charles Peterson, was for a long time practically the trademark of the new Seattle rock, a wave of purest motion that announced the scene’s distance from the bulging-eyed, bald-guy conventions of traditional punk rock before you’d so much as heard a note.
Like Soundgarden’s heavy, riff-laden tuneage, the hair was a wink at the testosterone-soaked conventions of ‘70s rock—simultaneously mocking heavy metal while being more or less heavy metal itself. Like Soundgarden’s music, the hair, at least on Chris, seemed young and powerful and somehow angelic, and just kind of totally rocked.
The photo of Chris, or rather of Chris and his hair, ended up on the cover of Soundgarden’s Screaming Life EP, which was the first important relic both of Sub Pop and what became known as the Seattle sound. Chris and his hair were part of the package Sub Pop used to sell Seattle to the world—the sizzle that sold the steak.
“The rest of the band,” Cornell says, “thought it was silly of the press to concentrate on the beefcake when I was writing songs, singing, and playing guitar for the band. Even now, some people will stick a paragraph about my hair in the body of a review.”
Cornell flicks his head, which is now crowned with a black, curly, thickety sort of buzz cut that looks a little bit like Marcel-processed African-American hair. “A certain scenario kept repeating itself. The people from the magazines would take two or three shots of the band. They’d start to pack up. And then they’d sort of take me off into a corner by myself. After about the thirtieth time that a photographer asked me to take my shirt off, I started to get the picture.”
Then, in ‘93, when the whole world began to smell like teen spirit, Chris went bald.
“Susan was really busy with one of her bands,” Chris says, “and there was about a month where I never left the house. I didn’t go out in public; I didn’t talk to anyone on the phone—I went a little psycho. If I hadn’t been alone so long, I would not have gone as far as I actually went. But one day, I went from wondering what I would look like with a shaved head to ‘That’s pretty cool.’ Then I put my hair in a big envelope and mailed it off to my wife.
“The funny thing was, I did this really silly, personal thing for no reason, and then all of a sudden it was on MTV News and in Newsweek, and I still hadn’t left the house. I thought it was strange, because I don’t know how anyone found out about my hair, and I don’t know why they cared.”
It’s Cornell’s second night in L.A. He’s been trussed up all day for the video, and now he’s agreed to try on clothes for his impending tour, so we’re at the house of Henry Duarte, a leather designer who has dressed, among many others, Aerosmith, Page and Plant, and Tori Amos. Duarte lives in a spooky old Spanish house above Sunset Plaza, and tonight the air is thick with incense; the living room is littered with Gothic armchairs, Indonesian dolls and screens. The tabletops drip swatches of buttery leathers and rich silks; the armchairs groan under their load of skinny suits and Jim Morrison pants and jackets, designed to telegraph a slice of bare chest out to the forty-seventh row of the balcony.
Proto-grunge diva Natasha and bandmate Alain from Eleven wander in, Natasha in the kind of tight plaid suit Pat Buckley might have worn to La Côte Basque in 1964. Alain sits down and whips through the gigue of a Bach lute suite on a classical guitar. Duarte’s angelic two-year-old drifts down the stairs followed by his mother, and together they regard a toy dump truck with the Zen-like detachment of the old guy on the Nissan commercials. Susan Silver and Jim Guerinot, who between them probably manage a third of the bands on modern-rock playlists nationwide, sip mineral water. I feel as if I’m at the crossroads of all things rock.
And in the middle of the living room, oblivious to the tumult around him, Chris drops his pants again and again, flying in and out of his trousers and shirts, calculating the jut of his hips and the thrust of his legs, feeling the weight of the fabric, luxuriating in the cool smoothness of leather against his bare chest, imagining five thousand people listening to “Outshined,” tuned to him, his voice, his clothes. I look at him and think that this is someone who is almost biomechanically engineered to be a rock star.
It is 2:30 A.M., room service has yet to arrive, and Chris is back on the hotel balcony, still worrying the ficus. The day after next, he’ll be in London, filming MTV specials, dodging the nosy questions of dozens of journalists who still want to know what he thinks about Kurt Cobain.
“Every time I know we have to go out on tour, there’s about three or four weeks where I’m terrified—where I start thinking: That’s not me. I’m not Freddie Mercury. Then I go out onstage and it’s like diving into the cold Puget Sound after spending five weeks in Hawaii—there’s a shock to the system, but the fear goes away. You get used to it, which is pretty cool, because if I stopped performing, I could just disappear and end up being some weird chattering man that walks the streets in rags, staring only at the pavement.
“Reclusivity can become self-perpetuating,” he goes on. “At first you rationalize that going to a club where people recognize you is a bad idea; then going to a neighborhood bar becomes a bad idea, too. Going to the grocery store becomes a bad idea. Answering the phone becomes a bad idea. Then every time the dog barks, you think the National Guard is on your roof ready to drill holes in the shingles and shoot at you. So I have to deal with the outside world on sort of a maintenance level—go out to a bar every so often and just be around people.”
If you were a therapist, you might describe Chris’s behavior as severely antisocial. Then again, Axl Rose pushes pianos out of windows. A proper rock star is supposed to rub against societal niceties—supposed to do whatever it takes to make your parents uncomfortable. In 1961, it was enough that the Beatles had longish hair. In 1969, it was Jim Morrison whipping his dick out onstage; in 1977, Johnny Rotten hawking mucus into the audience. In these days of Oprah and Bill Clinton wanting to feel your pain, emphatic unreachable unhappiness may be the most hostile and provocative response to the mainstream. And who better than Chris Cornell to be the spokesmodel for the post-Ritalin, pre-Prozac generation, who just don’t want to talk about it.
“Is intimacy an issue in your marriage?” I ask, immediately feeling that it is none of my business.
Chris stares hard into the West Hollywood night, picking up the skittering, silent light of an ambulance far below on the plain, following the arc of a helicopter headed downtown.
“Susan gives me a huge amount of room to be that recluse,” he says, “and also the incentive to not be. It’s worth a lot to see her be excited about being around someone who’s not afraid of his shadow. It’s good for her. She digs it. But we’re becoming more alike. When she comes home to me from a day at the office, where she’s talking to people from all over the world about all sorts of important things … well, I probably haven’t answered the phone in seventy-two hours. She knows that when she comes home she’s going to get privacy, because I’m not like ‘These are my South American friends and … honey, have you ever really listened to that first Van Halen album?’ She’s the best roommate I’ve ever had.”
At that moment Susan comes out to tell Chris the room service has arrived. Her hand lies on his wrist as if it had been there always.
“People are sort of perplexed,” Chris says, “as to how this could possibly work in this grunge-music, super-druggy era where everybody is so emotionally screwed up. Not only is Soundgarden not OD’ing on heroin, but the singer’s wife manages the band, there’s no weird Yoko Ono trip, and she’s not trying to make us dress up like lions and unicorns.”
Silver shrugs. “We really get along,” she says. “I’m sorry—I know it would be a better story if I were more like Courtney Love, but that’s not what I do.”
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a person as private as Cornell doesn’t want to talk about songs he writes. Part of his refusal makes sense—what part of “get on the snake” is it that you don’t understand?
The other part is predictable self-defense. “When you write your own lyrics,” Chris says, “you tend to be overanalytical. One second everything you do is brilliant, and the next, everything is garbage, and I want to be able to express personal things without being made to feel stupid.
“One of the first times I remember writing something personal was on tour. I was feeling really freaky and down, and I looked in the mirror and I was wearing a red T-shirt and some baggy tennis shorts. I remember thinking that as bummed as I felt, I looked like some beach kid. And then I came up with that line—’I’m looking California / And feeling Minnesota,’ from the song ‘Outshined’—and as soon as I wrote it down, I thought it was the dumbest thing. But after the record came out and we went on tour, everybody would be screaming along with that particular line when it came up in the song. The was a shock. How could anyone know that that was one of the most personally specific things I had ever written? It was just a tiny line. But somehow, maybe because it was personal, it just pushed that button.”
An hour before Soundgarden is supposed to fly to London for the beginning of a six-month tour, Chris Cornell is standing on a mussel-encrusted rock at the end of a jetty protruding into Santa Monica Bay. The air is alive with the stink of rotting kelp, and Chris is staring manfully at the skyscrapers of downtown Santa Monica in the distance. He seems like the only man in the world.
About five or six feet away, a photographer, makeup artist, stylist, and a couple of photo assistants are working furiously to make him look even more craggy, brooding, and alone than he already does. The camera crew maneuver around a couple of Mexican dudes surf-casting for croaker, struggling to keep the expensive photo equipment above the surging tide. A woman, incongruously shod in platform heels, almost loses her balance between the biting sand flies and the slippery rocks; an assistant shoos spectators from the jetty.
Breakers, two to three feet high, churn around Chris’s ankles, crush his black boots with salt water, drench his form-fitting trousers, dampen his coat with spray. It must be slippery where he’s standing. But he barely moves, doing his part for the perfect shot—the one of the reluctant rock star, the guy who doesn’t need your or anyone’s attention, the guy who’s never tried to be famous, or ever really wanted to pose for a picture. The guy who just wants to be by himself. Cut off on one side by the image makers, on the other by the vastness of the sea, for the first time this week Chris seems free, alone, alive.
Ten Greatest R&B Bands of All-Time From About Entainment
1. Earth, Wind & Fire
Founded by Maurice White (who passed away February 3, 2016 at the age of 74) in Chicago in 1969, Earth, Wind & Fire is one of the greatest bands in music history. The group has sold over 100 million albums, including three triple platinum and two double platinum albums. Known as “The Elements of the Universe,” EW&F combines elements of African music, Latin music, R&B, jazz, and rock into a unique sound featuring the dynamic lead voice of Philip Bailey. Recording for over 40 years, the group has won six Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, four American Music Awards, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Earth, Wind & Fire’s concerts are legendary. In the 1970s and 1980s, the group featured amazing illusions, including bass player Verdine White performing while being levitated above the stage, and the members appearing and vanishing in transparent cylinders as if they were traveling through space via the Star Trek transporter beam. Earth, Wind & Fire has recorded numerous classics over five decades, including “After The Love Has Gone (1979), "Shining Star” (1975), and “That’s The Way of the World” (1975).
2. The Isley Brothers
Recording for over 50 years, The Isley Brothers began as a vocal trio in the 1950s in Cincinnati, Ohio with Ronald Isley as lead singer performing with brothers Rudolph and O'Kelly Isley. The group expanded to six members in 1973 with their 3 + 3 album. Younger brothers Ernie lsley (guitar) and Marvin Isley (bass) joined the group along with Rudolph’s brother-in-law, Chris Jasper (keyboards).
The Isley Brothers have released four double platinum, six platinum, and four gold albums. Seven of their singles have reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart. Two of their songs, “Shout,” and Twist and Shout.“ were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Isleys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. They have also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a BET Lifetime Achievement Award.
George Clinton is the legendary leader of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic which record separately and perform together in concert. Parliament began in the 1960s in New Jersey as a doo-wop vocal group called The Parliaments, and Funkadelic served as their band. The Parliaments eventually evolved into a mainstream funk group under the name Parliament, and Funkadelic assumed its own identity as a psychedelic soul group inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Sly & The Family Stone. Known collectively as Parliament-Funkadelic, P-Funk became the most outrageous African-American band of the 1970s and 80s, famous for landing the "Mothership” on stage during 4 hour marathon concerts. Mastermind Clinton is a genius lyricist who is idolized in the hip-hop world, and his talented musicians, especially keyboardist Bernie Worrell, bassist Bootsy Collins (from James Brown’s band), and guitarists Michael Hampton, Eddie Hazel, and Gary Shider are worshipped by rock fans.
Parliament-Funkadelic hit number one five times on the Billboard R&B singles chart, including “Flash Light” (1978), “One Nation Under A Groove” (1978), and “(Not Just) Knee Deep” (1979). P-Funk was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
4. Kool & The Gang
Formed in 1964 in Jersey City, New Jersey, Kool & The Gang has been performing for over 50 years. Led by bass player Robert “Kool” Bell, the group began as a jazz instrumental band before transitioning into R&B and funk. Kool & The Gang has sold over 70 million records, including five platinum, three gold, and one double platinum album (Emergency in 1984). Its eight number one singles include “Celebration” (1980), “Ladies’ Night” (1979), “and "Joanna” (1983). Their honors include five American Music Awards, a Soul Train Legend Award, and a Grammy for Album of the Year for Saturday Night Fever (which included their song, “Open Sesame”).
5. Sly & the Family Stone
Formed in 1967 in San Francisco by Sylvester Stewart, Sly & The Family Stone was one of the most influential bands of the 1960s and 70s. They were the leaders of the “psychedelic soul” movement, combining R&B and rock into their own unique sound. The Family Stone were trailblazers with their integrated, multi-gender lineup. Their unforgettable performance at the historic Woodstock Festival in 1969 elevated their stature to one of the most revered acts in the world.
The group released three platinum albums, including the five times platinum Greatest Hits in 1970. They also recorded four number one singles including “Everyday People” (1968), “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (1969), and “Family Affair” (1971). The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
6. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
The group Maze featuring Frankie Beverly began as Raw Soul in Philadelphia in 1970. After moving to the San Francisco Bay area, they were discovered by Marvin Gaye who renamed the band, Maze. Beginning with their 1977 self-titled debut release, all of their eight studio albums have been certified gold, plus their 1981 Live In New Orleans album. Maze has two number one singles, “Back In Stride” in 1985, and “Can’t Get Over You” in 1989. Their signature song, “Before I Let Go,” only reached number 13 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1981, however, it is one of the greatest live party jams of all-time. Now in its fifth decade, Maze continues to be one of the top touring attractions in R&B, and is a favorite of the annual
7. The Commodores
Formed in 1968 on the campus of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, The Commodores were one of the most successful R&B acts in he mid 1970s and early 1980s. Prior to releasing their first album Machine Gun on Motown Records in 1974, the band toured in 1971 as the opening act for The Jackson Five. With Lionel Richie as lead vocalist, the group recorded four number one albums, and six number one singles, including “Three Times Lady” (1978), “Easy” (1977), and “Still” (1979). After Richie left for a solo career, The Commodores won their first Grammy Award in 1986: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for “Nightshift.”
8. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan recorded four gold and two platinum albums, including four number one albums, in the 1970s. The band hit the top of the Billboard R&B singles chart five times, including “Sweet Thing” (1975), “Do You Love What You Feel,” (1979) and “Ain’t Nobody” (1983) which won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Their first hit single, “Tell Me Something Good,” composed by Stevie Wonder, also won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Khan left the group for a solo career in 1978, however she reunited with the band for the 1983 album, Stompin’ at the Savoy – Live.
In 1974, Larry Blackmon formed the group New York City Players which became one of the greatest funk bands known as Cameo. From 1979-1988, the group recorded eight gold and one platinum albums. It also reached number one on the Billboard R&B singles chart four times, including two consecutive chart topping songs in 1987, “Word Up!” and “Candy.” In 1987 and 1988, Cameo won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group, and two Soul Train Music Awards: Best R&B/Soul Single - Group, Band or Duo (“Word Up!”), and Best R&B/Soul Album - Group, Band or Duo (Word Up!)
10. The Ohio Players
The Ohio Players dominated the mid 1970s with four consecutive number one albums on the Billboard R&B chart (including three platinum) Skin Tight (1974), Fire (1974), Honey (1975), and Contradiction (1976). The band also recorded five chart topping singles, including “Funky Worm” (1973), “Sweet Sticky Thing” (1975), “Love Rollercoaster” (1975). In addition to their distinctive, funkified sound, The Ohio Players were famous for the most erotic album covers
On this day in music history: August 30, 1986 - “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings, it is the first chart topping single for the British born singer and musician. Following the lukewarm response to his previous album “Talking Back To The Night” in 1982, Winwood takes a lengthy hiatus from the music business to regroup, and begin work on his next album. When Winwood begins working on the “Back In The High Life” album with producer Russ Titelman, he suggests bringing in Chaka Khan to contribute vocals to the track after hearing Winwood’s demo for “Higher Love”. Chaka’s fellow Rufus band mate, drummer John Robinson also plays on the song, adding live drums and the electrifying intro percussion and breakdown to the pre-programmed drum machine rhythm. Clocking in at nearly six minutes on the album, the song is edited down to a more radio friendly 4:08. Released as the first single from “Back In The High Life” in early June of 1986, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #77 on June 14, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The success of the “Back In The High Life” album and “Higher Love” earns a total of six Grammy nominations, including Album Of The Year. Winwood wins two Grammy Awards for the single, including Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Record Of The Year in 1987.
August 31, 1987: Michael Jackson released his seventh studio album, BAD.
Shortly after it’s release Bad started its six-week run on top the US album chart in that small time it managed to achieve five No. 1 singles.
The singles that reached the top were “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man in the Mirror” and “Dirty Diana.” No other artist had been able to beat that level of success until Katy Perry matched his record in 2010 with her album Teenage Dream.
Michael Jackson was nominated for six Grammy Awards after the release of Bad, “Album of the Year”, “Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male” and “Best R&B Vocal Performance – Male” as well as “Record of the Year” for “Man in the Mirror” that following year. In the end Bad won Grammy’s for “Best Engineered Recording” and “Best Music Video Short Form” for “Leave Me Alone” in 1990.
(Leave Me Alone wasn’t included in the original release of BAD, but was later released on the CD version then LP.)
And during all this time BAD World tour ended up breaking world records.
One for a record-setting revenue of over $124 million made during the tour.
The other for most successful concert series which sold out seven nights at Wembley Stadium in London in1988 with a total of 504,000 fans attending the shows.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Bad nine time platinum for having shipped nine million copies in the United States alone. Internationally, Bad was commercially successful. In the United Kingdom the album sold 500,000 copies in its first five days of release, and as of 2008 is certified 13× platinum, for sales of 3.9 million, making it Michael’s second biggest-selling album in the United Kingdom.
Happy 28th Birthday BAD…..~
Thank you to all the amazing people who worked on the album, (Thanks to wikipedia for the long list!)
Writer, composer, vocal arrangement, co-producer, solo and background vocals: Michael Jackson
On this day in music history: August 25, 1992 - “Unplugged”, the sixteenth album by Eric Clapton is released. Produced by Russ Titelman, it is recorded at Bray Studios in Windsor, UK on January 16, 1992. Issued as the audio counterpart of his MTV Unplugged special, it features the veteran rock guitarist performing an entirely acoustic set in front of a small audience. The band features such long time stalwarts such as guitarist Andy Fairweather-Low and percussionist Ray Cooper, as well as bassist Nathan East, keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and drummer Steve Ferrone. The performance has special significance as it is the one of first live performances by Clapton following the death of his four year old son Conor the previous year. Both the television special and album is a huge critical and commercial success, winning Clapton three of the six Grammy Awards he receives in 1993, including one for Album Of The Year. The 1939 000-42 Martin acoustic guitar that Clapton plays throughout most of the television special is sold at auction in 2004 for $791,500, with the funds going to raise money for his Crossroads Centre in Antigua. Originally issued on vinyl as an import only in 1992, the album is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram double LP set in 2011. The contents of the album are spread over four sides for dramatically improved fidelity over the original single vinyl pressing. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its original release, “Unplugged” is remastered and reissued as a two CD + DVD Deluxe Edition in October of 2013. The first disc contains the original fourteen song album, with disc two featuring previously unreleased outtakes from the show. The DVD contains the video of the program, plus rehearsal footage as an added bonus. “Unplugged” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, receiving a Diamond Certification.