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Born on this day: December 30, 1928 - Rhythm & Blues legend Bo Diddley (born Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, MS). Happy Birthday to Bo on what would have been his 85th Birthday.
Born on this day: December 30, 1939 - R&B vocalist Kim Weston (born Agatha Natalie Weston in Detroit, MI). Happy 74th Birthday to this Motown legend!
Born on this day: December 30, 1942 - Songwriter, musician, producer, music video pioneer, and former MonkeeMichael Nesmith (born Robert Michael Nesmith in Houston, TX). Happy 71st Birthday, Nez!
Born on this day: December 30, 1945 - Former Monkees vocalist Davy Jones (born David Thomas Jones in Manchester, UK). Happy Birthday to this pop music icon on what would have been his 68th Birthday. We miss you, Davy!
It was hard to believe I was watching Patti Smith live at Amoeba today. She seems like the kind of artist who doesn't exist in real life, yet here she was sounding every bit as amazing as on her landmark first album, Horses, while launching into suicide story "Redondo Beach" at the beginning of her set. She danced and smiled her way through "April Fool," the gleeful first single from Banga, her excellent most recent album, released earlier this year. "You're so quiet ... it must be the hallowed ground of the record store," she teased the audience before launching into "Fuju-san." She introduced Banga's "This is the Girl" as being about Amy Winehouse, adding a darker shade to a beautifully rendered song about the girl "who yearned to be heard."
While her bandmates played acoustically, you could really hear Smith and how gracefully her voice has matured, sounding natural and unstrained on the newer material and projecting the wisdom of years onto her classics. She strapped on a guitar for a snarly rendition of "Banga" — but not before asking why AMC dropped The Killing. "I'll be back at 2 in the morning, we'll talk about really serious stuff," she quipped on the night of the Vice Presidential debate.
In honor of Women's History Month I have gone back and dug up some of my all time favorite female rockers from the seventies via the series of music videos above & below. An obviously subjective list; it is based on both quality of artist and availability of corresponding YouTube video clips on said artist. Including both all female bands and female fronted bands these videos are culled from sometime in the decade of the '70's and range from hard rock to punk rock. Topping this list of artists/videos is the pitch perfect Runawaystimeless hit "Cherry Bomb" from a show during a 1977 tour of Japan.
Others included below are the late great Poly Styrene with X-Ray Spex performing "On Bondage! Up Yours!" (from 1977 Punk In London documentary), Patti Smith and band doing a spine-tingling version of "Gloria" live in Germany in 1979, American born, British rocker Suzi Quatro's 1973 hit "48 Crash," and the early 70's killer American female rock quartet Fanny (who I saw Job O Brother also highlighted in a recent Amoeblog) doing two songs on the UK TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test. The other female rockers spotlighted below are Penelope Houston with the Avengerslive in SF in 1978 care of Target Video,Siouxsie (Sioux) and the Bansheesin 1978 doing "Hong Kong Garden," andThe Slits from their 1979 debut album Cutand their song "Typical Girls" - featuring the late great Ari Up (Ariane Forster) who died of cancer two years ago.
X-Ray Spex feat Poly Styrene "Oh Bondage Up Yours" (1977)
Patti Smith's National Book Award-winning Just Kids is the best book I've read in a long time, and maybe the best I've ever read about the creative process.
It's the story of her development as an artist during her childhood and througout her 20s via her complex relationship with best friend and artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It's an incredibly moving, intricately written autobiography and is ripe with detail when it comes to their poverty stricken existance that was lit up only by art and by friendships with some of NYC's most colorful characters in the late 60s/early 70s, like Candy Darling, Harry Smith and Janis Joplin, to name but a few. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! In our current era of irony and faux posing, where Manhattan's exceedingly high rents have obliterated any hope for real artistic daring, it was refreshing and inspiring to read about two consummate artists taking on the city who truly lived for their work and for creation itself.