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Rock & Roll Heaven: Keith Moon

Embed from Getty Images

Moon at the drums on stage with The Who in London, England during a March, 1977 concert

 

The legendary rock band known as The Who had originally evolved out of a band known as the Detours, which featured three members who would become well-known to music fans over the coming years and decades

Roger Daltrey was the founder and driving force. Pete Townsend became the lead guitarist. John Entwistle provided the pulse as the bass guitarist.

However, the fourth member of The Who classic lineup was not their original drummer. The first man to provide the percussion back-beat for the band was Doug Sandom.

When the band received an audition with Fontana Records in the early-1960’s, an executive there simply didn’t like Sandom’s drumming. The Who began to audition stand-ins, and during that process met Keith Moon.

Moon was born in northwest London on August 23, 1946 and grew up in Wembley, England. At age 12 he took up playing the bugle, but quickly switched to the drums. He particularly loved the music of The Beach Boys.

In 1961 at just age 14, Moon joined his first band known as the Escorts. Then in 1962, Moon moved on to become drummer for the Beachcombers. These were part-time bands, with most of the members also holding down day jobs to make a living.

It was in April of 1964 that Moon auditioned for The Who, and he won the gig replacing Sandom in the emerging band. With Moon now on board as the new drummer, the classic lineup was set, and The Who began to craft both their sound and on-stage persona over the course of the mid-late 1960’s.

Technically, Moon moved from a four to a five-piece drum kit during 1965. Towards the end of that year he began to endorse Premier Drums and remained loyal to the brand for the rest of his career.

Also, Moon’s girlfriend Kim Kerrigan became pregnant during 1965. The two were married in March 1966, with their daughter Amanda born on July 12. “He had no idea how to be a father,” Kim later said in a 1998 biography from Tony Fletcher. “He was too much of a child himself.

In 1966, Moon began to utilize a setup with two bass drums. He and Ginger Baker, founder of the rock group Cream, would become pioneers in the early use of that type of drum kit setup.

Moon had a problem with alcohol and drugs from his early teen years. Developing a worsening amphetamine addiction contributed to Moon frequently clashing with each of the other band members, including physical altercations.

Entwistle and I used to have fights – it wasn’t very serious, it was more of an emotional spur-of-the moment thing,” said Moon according to Dave Marsh, who wrote a bio of the band in 1989.

With those internal pressures repeatedly erupting during the mid-1960’s, Jeff Beck recruited Moon to play with The Yardbirds, essentially trying to get Moon to quit The Who and begin playing regularly with him. However, despite playing with Beck a couple of times, Moon resisted, and the band played on together.

It is believed that Moon had another major contribution to rock music history during this late-1960’s period. During one of his dalliances with leaving The Who, Moon is said to have floated the idea of forming a super group to include emerging guitarist Jimmy Page.

The idea of that group never panned out, with Moon having said it “went down like a led zeppelin” in front of Page. The guitarist remembered the phrase when forming his own now-legendary band in 1968.

During one of the early performances of The Who, Townsend accidentally broke his guitar and smashed it up on stage out of frustration. The crowd loved the display, and Moon decided to join in by kicking over his entire drum kit. This would become a signature for the band, destroying instruments on stage to the delight of their early fans.

A breakthrough came for The Who in 1966 with their first major American appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. There, the on-stage style of The Who, which included smashing their instruments, clashed with much of the peaceful hippie style of the rest of the festival.

That appearance got The Who a gig as the opening act on a tour of America for popular Brit rockers Herman’s Hermits. Moon bonded with the Hermits, who introduced him to cherry bombs. During the tour, Moon became fond of blowing up hotel room toilets with those cherry bombs.

During the celebration of Moon’s 21st birthday while on tour in Flint, Michigan in 1967, the band caused thousands of dollars in damage to their hotel room at a Holiday Inn. It was a wild time, but Daltrey would later say that this tour helped bring the band closer together.

During that same year of 1967, Moon was among those who contributed backing vocals for his friends, The Beatles, on the “All You Need Is Love” record.

During their next tour of America with Eric Burdon and the Animals, a television appearance was arranged for The Who on ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’. During that performance, Moon bribed a stagehand to plant some explosives in his drum kit.

When they detonated during performance of the song “My Generation“, the force of the blast blew Moon off his drum riser, singed Townsend’s hair, and damaged studio equipment. A video clip from this performance would later be used as “The Kids Are Alright” documentary opening more than a decade later.

During the late-1960’s the band recorded what would become a signature classic LP, “Tommy“, which would be released in May 1969 as their fourth studio album. That piece of music combined with their improving and evolving stage act to begin gaining not only increased popularity, but also increased respect for the band.

During the summer of 1969, The Who were recruited to play at the now-legendary Woodstock Festival. Due to delays their set did not begin until 5:00 am, and they played the entirety of “Tommy” as part of their contribution.

Just a few weeks later, the band would perform back home at the Isle of Wight Festival, which further cemented their status as one of the biggest and best rock bands of the era.

In August of 1971, The Who released their LP “Who’s Next” on which many felt Moon displayed the best drum playing of his entire career. The album contained hits in “Baba O’Riley“, “Won’t Get Fooled Again“, “Behind Blue Eyes”, and “Bargain“, and is considered one of the greatest rock albums of all-time.

Over the next few years during the early-1970’s, the popularity and influence of The Who only grew as they worked on and released the album “Quadrophenia“, the tour for which would spawn a notorious incident.

On November 20, 1974 at the Cow Palace in California, The Who were more than an hour into their show when, while playing “Won’t Get Fooled Again“, Moon passed out over his drum kit.

Carried off the stage by roadies, the drummer was revived and returned to the stage a short time later. However, during his first song back “Magic Bus“, Moon again passed out. This time he could not be revived.

Townsend would say during a later interview that Moon had consumed large tranquilizers which were actually meant for animals, washing those down with large amounts of brandy.

The band played on as a threesome, and after receiving tremendous applause, Townsend told the audience “I think it should be us applauding you”.  He then surprised the crowd by asking, “Can anybody play the drums? Can anybody play the drums? I mean somebody good!

Sitting just off the stage, 19-year-old Scot Halpin was volunteered by his friend. Legendary concert producer Bill Graham, asked Halpin “Can you do it?” When Halpin said that he could, the young man received the thrill of a lifetime. Having not played in over a year, Halpin took over the drums and played well over the final few songs.

The band took a bit of a break from touring and performing during 1974, doing just a few shows as they turned “Tommy” into a motion picture for which Townsend would receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.

During 1973, his wife Kim had left, taking their daughter Mandy with her, feeling that no one could help Moon with his addictions. She would sue for divorce in 1975, eventually marry Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, and died herself in a car crash in 2006 at just age 57.

As the divorce was filed in 1975, Moon released what would be his lone career solo LP. “Two Sides of the Moon” was not well received by critics or the public. It included covers of songs including The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright“, The Beach Boys “Don’t Worry Baby“, and “In My Life” from The Beatles. Ringo Starr even contributed backing drums.

In late 1975, a tour by the band resulted in The Who setting a record for the largest indoor concert when more than 78,000 attended their show at the Pontiac Silverdome outside of Detroit. This tour during the years 1975 and 1976 is considered by some to have been the greatest series of live performances in the history of the band.

At the conclusion of the U.S. leg of that tour in Miami during August of 1976, a reportedly delirious Moon was treated in Hollywood Memorial Hospital for eight days. The band would eventually move into Canada, and on October 21, 1976 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, The Who gave their final live public performance with the drummer.

Moon held the dream of becoming an actor, and was able to land a number of roles during the 1970’s. He joined Starr by appearing in “200 Motels” in 1971 and “That’ll Be the Day” in 1973, along with “Stardust“, the latter film’s sequel in 1974. In 1978 he appeared with Starr and Alice Cooper in the film “Sextette“, which was also the final film appearance of Mae West.

Three years after their previous studio album, The Who began recording “Who Are You” in January of 1978. Moon’s addictions had caused a tremendous weight gain and his play to deteriorate to the point where the band considered firing him.

However, the drummer briefly rallied. In May while filming a segment for what would become their “The Kids Are Alright” documentary, which wouldn’t be released until 1979, Moon’s performances were strong. They would also prove to be his last with the band.

That year, Moon moved into a room which he rented from Harry Nilsson. It was the exact room in which ‘Momma Cass’ Elliot had died four years earlier at age 32. Nilsson was reportedly concerned with bad luck in renting Moon that room, but the drummer is said to have told him that “lightning wouldn’t strike the same place twice.”

Attempting to dry out and stay off alcohol, Moon began to take prescriptions for the sedative clomethiazole in order to help the withdrawal symptoms.

The prescribing doctor was not aware of Moon’s drug addiction history, giving him a bottle of 100 pills with instructions to take no more than three pills per day and then only when he felt the urge to drink.

Who Are You” was released in August of 1978. Five days later, Moon celebrated his 32nd birthday. Two weeks after that birthday he would be dead.

On September 6, Moon and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Swedish model Annette Walter-Lax, joined Paul and Linda McCartney at a preview showing of “The Buddy Holly Story“, a biographical film of the late rock star played by Gary Busey in what would prove to be an Oscar-nominated role. The two couples then went to dinner.

On returning to their apartment, Moon asked Walter-Lax to cook him steak and eggs. Tired after their long nigh tout, she refused and Moon replied, “If you don’t like it, you can fuck off!” These would be his last known spoken words.

Checking on him the following afternoon, Walter-Lax found Moon dead. It was later determined that he had consumed 32 of the prescription pills.

Fletcher wrote that a particularly rapid deterioration in Moon’s health had begun during The Who’s lengthy hiatus from 1972 through 1973 in preparation for recording “Quadrophenia“, as a hard-partying lifestyle with no touring and no drum playing took a hard toll on his body.

In addition to self-destruction, Moon had developed the habit of destroying not only drum kits on stage, but hotel rooms and even friends’ homes while off-stage. Fletcher quoted him as follows:

When you’ve got money and you do the kind of things I get up to, people laugh and say that you’re eccentric, which is a polite way of saying you’re fucking mad.”

The Who would ultimately replace Moon with a series of drummers, beginning at first with Kenney Jones of The Faces. Simon Phillips, who would later become the longtime drummer for the band Toto, took over for touring during 1989 after Jones left the band.

In 1996, The Who hired 30-year-old Zac Starkey, son of The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, as their new drummer. He has remained a member of the band ever since.

Clem Burke of Blondie, Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and Neil Peart of Rush are among many drummers who have publicly stated that Moon was an influence on their drum stylings. It is believed that Jim Henson based his Muppet character ‘Animal’ at least partially on Moon.

The Who of the 1960’s and 1970’s have left a sound and a rock legacy that live on to this day. Is Moon now playing the backbeat for some heavenly band? Like the others in this “Rock & Roll Heaven” series, talent was never the question.


NOTE: This is the continuation of my”Rock and Roll Heaven” series of pieces on musical artists whose careers where cut short by their personal demons, the first in nearly two years.

The series now includes features on Keith Moon, Chris Cornell, John Bonham, Ty Longley, Karen Carpenter, Jim Morrison, Michael Hutchence, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin.

It will now continue from time to time into the future. Past articles in the series can be enjoyed by clicking on the below ‘tag’ category, or by visiting the dedicated section under the ‘Entertainment’ category of the website toolbar.

All This Twerking’s Got Me Smirking

In case you were wondering, that’s former ‘tween’ star Miley Cyrus in the picture to the left. A few years ago, you and your kids knew her as the star of the “Hannah Montana” franchise from Disney Channel.

Those days are apparently long gone, at least as far as Miley herself is concerned. Last week in a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards that could perhaps be described as a sad attempt at being raunchy, she decided to come out of her pop queen shell and start twerking in public.

What the heck is “twerking”, you might be asking? Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary Online, ‘twerking’ is “to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.

First introduced in the early-90’s, the word is of dubious origin, but likely a contraction of the words ‘twist’ and ‘jerk’, and was used in that decade in the lyrics of some hip-hop songs.

While I could never be accused of having been a prude to this point in my life, and can certainly appreciate a beautiful, fit, young woman exploring her sexuality and trying to bring a former kiddie image to a more mature one, something just struck me as being very wrong with that Miley Cyrus performance.

It struck me as desperate, not attractive or sexy in any way. It looked like someone trying way too hard to prove something that simply was not there in the first place. It looked for all the world like someone trying to be something they are not. In the aftermath, Miley has tried to compare herself to Madonna and Britney Spears, a pair of female artists who used their sexuality and provocative performances to gain fame.

Unfortunately for the now 20-year old Miley, her performance paled in comparison to even the 16-year old Britney Spears from “…Baby One More Time” way back in 1999, and was not even in the same conversation as the breakthrough performances of Madonna in her 20’s during the 1980’s. Madonna was a trailblazer, but Miley simply does not have what Britney did a decade ago: the talent to follow that trail.

Miley Cyrus had a chance to be a huge star, had she gone in the opposite direction than she has apparently chosen. Had she left the tough-girl, piercing, hard-edged performances to P!nk, the dance-pop sexiness to Britney, and simply never even compared herself at all to the iconic Madonna, she could have built off her Disney image to a successful career.

I could be wrong, but I think the display of twerking put on by Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s last week is going to have exactly the opposite long term effect than she hoped it would. She is turning off the large audience she had built for years, and not turning on any new fans with this new image. Somebody (daddy Billy Ray?) needs to talk some sense into her quickly.

Beyond Miley, it seems that something needs to change in the music industry in general. I would personally love to see a return to artists being, well, artists rather than stripper wannabes. Do these “singers” have the chops? Can they even actually sing at all? The industry is going to keep selling this junk if we’re going to keep buying it. From now on, for me, it’s ‘No Sale’.

Heaven can’t wait

One of my all-time favorite songs is the beautiful ballad “Heaven Can Wait” recorded by the artist ‘Meatloaf’ from his classic “Bat Out of Hell” album and written by his longtime collaborator Jim Steinman.

The message of the song is that the singer has found such a deep, fulfilling, passionate love in their life here on earth that, despite it’s promise of eternal beauty and peace in God’s presence, as far as they are concerned heaven can wait.

I’m not going to waste any time in bashing the song or it’s lyrics. This is one of the most simple and timeless love songs in modern music. But it does provide an opportunity to take a closer look at one of the most wide-spread mistakes that we as humans make. The mistake is in not understanding and accepting that no matter the beauty or peace provided us by anything or anyone here on earth, it pales in comparison to what is promised in Heaven.

The vast majority of us operate within the framework of our daily lives as if this is it, that this life is the only one that we get, so we need to live it to its fullest. How many times have you heard the phrase “life is short” or “life is meant to be lived” in defense of some course of action that someone is taking.

The truth of the matter is that, while a human lifespan on earth is relatively short, our promised existence in God’s presence in Heaven is eternal. And while we certainly should strive for happiness and peace in our time here on earth, and strive to spread those to others, life is not meant to be lived to the point that we experience every sensation, good or bad, in our human lifetimes.

This goes for Christians as well as those of other faiths, and certainly applies to all those with no faith system in their lives. As Christians we understand that there is much, much more beyond this human life on earth. We understand intellectually that there is a Heaven, and that its gifts and promises are far beyond any love or joy or peace that we could ever hope to attain here on earth.

And yet many Christians still lead their daily lives in ways that, when closely examined, would lead some to question the reality of our faith. The problem with human beings is that, no matter what we might say that we believe, and even what we may internally hope for, we have a difficult time grasping the truth of Heaven, the truth of eternity.

That truth is that not every Christian is going to make it into Heaven. Not every human being is going to spend eternity in God’s presence in His kingdom. Jesus Christ warned human beings not to put all of your energies and efforts into this earthly existence when he said “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

This isn’t to say that our life on earth is not important. It is vitally important, particularly to the ultimate salvation of our souls. While in Heaven we will spend eternity in the ultimate joy and peace of God’s loving presence, here on earth we are living within the kingdom of God. It is up to us to expand that kingdom, and to help provide as many as possible with the opportunity to save their own souls, both through our own words and our own actions.

With the coming of Jesus Christ two mellenia ago, God’s earthly kingdom was realized in fullness. From that point on, men have had the perfect opportunity to reach that ultimate goal of Heaven. A road map was laid out for us by the Lord when he said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Notice that he didn’t say that everyone who thinks they are a ‘good guy’, or who goes to church regularly, or who donates a lot to charity comes to the Father

Whatever our church, whatever our prayers, whatever our actions, we will not reach Heaven without belief in Jesus Christ as our personal savior. It is not enough to be a good person. It is not enough to go to church every Sunday. It is not enough to say a prayer when times are tough. We need to sincerely believe in the very fabric of our being in the truth of Christ’s divinity, and his role as our redeemer.

Many have said over the years “if it’s not good enough that I live my life the best that I can, that I’m a good person, that I treat others well, then I don’t want to be a part of that religion.” Fine, that’s your choice. But the reality is that this is not about ‘religion’ or some institutionalized faith system. And the important point is not to defend the goodness of your character, but to save your immortal soul.

There are many who don’t believe. Some don’t believe in anything, others don’t believe in Jesus Christ beyond that he may have indeed been a historical figure, a great preacher perhaps. For those people we must continue to pray that they will open their hearts and seek the truth.

One thing that I believe whole-heartedly in regards to non-believers. If they spend some time in exploring the issue, they will be inspired to truth by the Holy Spirit. Again to quote Christ: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

God created this world and mankind for reasons and purposes known only to Him. But some things are known to us. There is a great deal of magnificence here on earth. He created us in His image and likeness, and placed us in this world of beauty and wonder. It is up to us to live our lives within this world in preparation for the next.

And yet we must always remember too that not everyone is going to make it to that beauty and majesty of eternity with God in Heaven. Jesus taught us that “the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” There are many who will experience beauty and peace and love in this life, but will then spend eternity in the hollowness, despair, and desolation of separation from God because they turned away from Him during their time on earth.

Love between human beings is one of the most beautiful things we can experience. It reflects that very love between God and man which lies at the heart of our very existence. But human, earthly love is just a taste, a small sample of what awaits in Heaven. While none of us wants to rush into Heaven, we should never think that anything here on earth can compare to what lies ahead for true believers.

Don’t live your life as if Heaven can wait, as if you have plenty of time to decide on matters of faith. There is nothing here on earth that is more important. As vital as your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings, your home, your career, your charitable endeavors, your church experiences may be, they pale in comparison to the importance of your relationship with God.

If you disbelieve, you can seek, learn, and accept truth. If you have fallen, you can get up. If you have sinned, you can seek forgiveness. If you have made mistakes you can make ammends. But you don’t have forever. You may have decades. You may have years. You may have months or weeks or days. You may only have this moment. Heaven can’t wait, and neither can you.

NOTE: This is the continuation of the ‘Sunday Sermon’ series, all entries of which can be viewed by clicking on to that below label. 

Rock & Roll Heaven?

 

If there’s a rock-n-roll heaven, you know they got a hell of a band” are the famous lyrics from a song that was itself called “Rock and Roll Heaven” released as a comeback reunion hit by the 60’s duo The Righteous Brothers.

In 1974, the song rose to #3 on the U.S. charts, talking in its lyrics about the untimely deaths of a number of rock, soul, and pop music stars.

The song perfectly leads into a special series that I will be doing here at the blog next week called ‘Rock and Roll Heaven‘.

Each day from Monday through Saturday, barring some incredibly major world news event, I will do a mini-bio on some of the legendary rock stars over the years who have died young. I will explore how they died, how they lived, their contributions to music, their home lives, etc.

For diehard fans of particular stars, it may be old ground. But for many, it will be a nostalgic trip back in time, and not just to the psychedelic 60’s and turbulent 70’s, but also to the 80’s and 90’s and beyond. And hopefully for everyone, I will mix in enough lessons to be learned from those lives.

There will be good, bad, and ugly, and there will be criticism of legends. The following is the schedule: Janis Joplin (Monday), Jimi Hendrix (Tuesday), Kurt Cobain (Wednesday), Michael Hutchence (Thursday), Jim Morrison (Friday) – and then there will be a wrap-up piece.

If it goes well, and folks want to see a few more, I will consider it as an ongoing feature into the future. So stay tuned here each day next week to find out whether they have a hell of a rock band in heaven, or whether simply these burned-out stars went straight to hell.

NOTE: all entries in this series into the future can be viewed by simply clicking on the ‘Rock and Roll Heaven’ Tag at the bottom of each article in the series

The gypsy that remains

Embed from Getty Images

Stevie on tour with Fleetwood Mac in 1978, when a 16-year-old me was first falling for her

 

It’s been a bit ‘heavy’ here at the blog lately, so I thought that I would lighten things up a bit as we ease out of July, and as I ease into my summer vacation.

Last night I had finished up watching the Cubs-Brewers on ESPN and was getting ready to go to bed, and decided to do one last flick through the program listings.

There on WHYY’s local public broadcast ‘Arts’ channel was listed the program Soundstage, which features concert performances, and here they were offering a concert by one of the true loves of my lifetime, Stephanie Lynn ‘Stevie’ Nicks.

I hadn’t watched Stevie perform in some time, and the program information said that this concert was filmed this year, in 2008, and so I was curious to see just how she looked and sounded today.

I wasn’t disappointed. Stevie is still a beautiful woman, and her voice still rings true with that same raspy, story-teller quality that has made her a rock icon.

Well, this kept me up for another hour watching the concert, but it was well worth it. Listening and watching her perform songs like ‘Rhiannon‘, ‘Gold Dust Woman’, ‘Edge of Seventeen’, ‘Landslide‘, and more took me back to thinking about various times in my life. Especially remembering those times that I first heard her and the opportunities that I had to actually see her perform live and in-person.

Much as the rest of the music fans of the world, I first fell in love with Stevie Nicks around the years 1975 and 1976, when I was just 14 years old.

The band Fleetwood Mac, my all-time favorite rock band now, had released their self-titled album and Stevie’s voice began to fill the airwaves with the song “Rhiannon“. This song about a Welsh witch captivated radio audiences, formed an enduring image of Stevie in the public consciousness, and with the overall high-caliber of music being performed by the band they became a top act in the arena-rock era.

Fleetwood Mac had been a top blues-rock band for years prior to 1975, but they had a number of personnel changes and were looking to reinvigorate themselves. Drummer Mick Fleetwood was looking for something new to add to the group, which at that time included bassist John McVie (the band is named after Fleetwood and McVie) and McVie’s keyboard-playing vocalist wife Christine.

Fleetwood came upon a young guitarist named Lindsey Buckingham, who was making music in California with his girlfriend, Stevie Nicks. The pair had released an album in 1973 titled ‘Buckingham Nicks’ which didn’t fair well commercially, but which contained a number of California-style pop sounds that were easy on the ears.

Fleetwood was an astute judge of talent, as Buckingham would prove to be one of the greatest guitarists in the history of rock music. But Fleetwood only wanted him, and Lindsey wouldn’t come without Stevie along as a package deal. Fleetwood agreed, the two joined the band and began recording in late 1974, and the rest is rock-n-roll history.

There is so much of a soap opera quality to the Fleetwood Mac story over the rest of the 1970’s and into the 1980’s that I could never capture it all here. Suffice it to say that if you enjoy reading the histories of musicians and bands, and want to look it up and read about it, you won’t be disappointed.

Fleetwood Mac followed up that first 1975 release as a newly reconstituted band with the album ‘Rumours’ in February 1977, and my favorite band became the world’s favorites. ‘Rumours’ spent 31 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts, and sold over 19 million copies to make it, at the time, the top-selling album of all-time.

The album was highlighted by a #1 song, Stevie’s ‘Dreams‘, and also featured what is still today my all-time favorite song in ‘The Chain’, which is a rock and roll classic signature song. It features the band’s tight vocal harmonies from Christine McVie, Lindsey, and Stevie, as well as the cohesion of its legendary McVie/Fleetwood rhythm section, as well as soaring guitar work by Buckingham.

I finally got to see Fleetwood Mac in concert at the Spectrum here in Philly in the fall of 1982. They were touring for the multi-platinum release ‘Mirage‘ at that time. I also then got to see Stevie perform solo at the Spectrum in 1983.

The Fleetwood Mac concert was one of the best that I have ever seen in my life, obviously colored by my love for Stevie and the band. They were still tight, looked and sounded great, and were at the top of their games individually and as a group.

The solo concert was less of a thrill in the end, as it marked a period in Stevie’s life when she was going through problems relating to drug abuse. She didn’t sound good and didn’t look the same. The songs were there, but the musician was different than the one I had been in love with all those years, and it was almost a sad situation.

Stevie continued to have issues over the next ten years with drugs and weight gain. Though she still recorded and performed both solo and with the band the performances were uneven, sometimes brilliant but often a shadow of her former rock queen self, and she became more reclusive.

In 1993, Bill Clinton was elected as President of the United States, and had used Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘Don’t Stop’ from ‘Rumours‘ as his campaign theme song. He invited the band to play at his inaugural celebration, and this led to a revitalization for them after a few years of inactivity as a group.

I frankly thought that I had seen the last of them. Music was changing, as ‘grunge’ or ‘garage’ bands were becoming the rage. A 1970’s act like Fleetwood Mac seemed left in the past. But the Clinton inauguration reminded their numerous fans of just how good they were, and they set out on a reunion tour.

The band once again established themselves for the rest of the 90’s as relevant. Stevie was right out there in front, looking and sounding as good as ever as the band released and toured for ‘The Dance’ in 1997 and 1998, and they were going strong as those 1990’s came to an end.

In 2003, this time minus Christine McVie who had retired, Fleetwood Mac issued the album ‘Say You Will’, and were rewarded by winning a prestigious American Music Award, beating out such contemporary hit acts as 3 Doors Down and Matchbox 20 for the honor.

Today, there are rumors that the band will record again in fall 2008, this time with Stevie’s good friend Sheryl Crow joining to take over the Chris McVie role, and that they will tour in 2009.

Stevie’s mystical image is stoked by romantic and ethereal lyrics, raspy and passionate singing, graceful movement, and possessed performances. She wears billowing chiffon skirts, top hats, shawls, layers of lace, and high-heeled leather boots. She retains her big brown eyes, and that still-long, gorgeous blond hair.

The woman has been sending chills up and down my spine for over three decades now, and when I saw her on that ‘Soundstage‘ performance last night those chills were there again. My wife Debbie is absolutely the love of my life, but I can say without hesitation that Stevie Nicks has a piece of my heart and soul, and that will never change.

Her story is much longer and more detailed than I have been able to capture here. It is filled with success, drama, romance, intrigue and, as with any person in the public eye for decades, a strong-willed desire to adapt, overcome, and move stronger into the future.

Her songs endure as radio classics. These include duo turns with Kenny Loggins on ‘Whenever I Call You Friend’, John Stewart on ‘Gold‘, Tom Petty on ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’, and Don Henley on ‘Leather and Lace’.

Her Mac work will never be forgotten, the songs already mentioned here as well as ‘Gypsy‘, ‘Sisters of the Moon’, Sara’, ‘No Questions Asked’, ‘Seven Wonders’, and ‘Silver Springs’ among them.

Her solo work will remain legendary with the songs already listed and those such as ‘Bella Donna’, ‘Stand Back’, ‘If Anyone Falls’, ‘Nightbird‘, ‘The Highwayman’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and many more.

Stevie turned 60 years old back in May of this year, but you would never know it to look at her on stage now. To me, she was beautiful and sounded great at 26, and she is beautiful and sounds great still at 60.

You can still catch the Soundstage performance on PBS’ Arts channel, here in the local Philly area. It is being repeated today at 4pm and 10:30pm, and then again at various times over the weekend and into early August. It features Stevie doing a few of her big solo hits, Fleetwood Mac songs, and even a couple of outstanding duets with Vanessa Carlton. It is well worth a leisurely hour of your time.

If you have never had the pleasure, explore the music of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. My bet is that you will fall in love with the ‘gypsy that remains’, just like I have.