Jewish Classic Rock and Oldies Musicians Part 2: US and Canada part 2

Without further ado, here is part 2 of the last post! Hope you enjoy it!

Laura Nyro: Singer-songwriter. She took influences from many different genres such as jazz, r&b, gospel, and the New York City Brill Building pop sound. She was born in The Bronx and taught herself piano. Her family had a good amount of artists in it with her father being a piano tuner and jazz trumpeter and her aunt and uncle being artists. I highly recommend her albumsĀ Eli and the Thirteenth Confession andĀ New York Tendaberry.Ā “Eli’s Coming” was covered by Three Dog Night and The Fifth Dimension covered “Wedding Bell Blues”.

Lenny Kaye: Guitarist who was most famous for working with Patti Smith. A lot of classic rock fans, particularlyĀ fans of garage rock, know theĀ Nuggets compilation. Lenny Kaye produced that compilation. He played a minor songwriting role in Patti SmithĀ Group. HeĀ co-wrote the songs: “Redondo Beach” and “Free Money” off the albumĀ Horses;Ā “Radio Ethiopia” off the album of the same name; “Till Victory,” “Ghost Dance,” and “Rock n Roll N*****” off the albumĀ Easter; and “Hymn” and “Broken Flag” from the albumĀ Wave.

Leonard Cohen: Canadian singer-songwriter from Montreal. Many consider him influential and he has won many awards. Released his first album in 1967. Before becoming a professional musician he went to McGill University. He published his first book of poetry a year after graduating from McGill. In 1967 he went back to New York City to pursue a music career. He was a fan of Warhol Superstar Nico. He wrote “Suzanne” for Judy Collins and recorded his own version on his firstĀ album. He appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. While none of his singles really charted in hisĀ birthplace ofĀ Canada (only Dance Me to the End of Love” charted at #29), “Lover Lover Lover” was #9 in Germany and “Dance Me to the End of Love” and “Take This Waltz” were top 10 hits in Finland.

Leslie West: Born Leslie Weinstein in New York City. He was the lead vocalist and guitarist for Mountain. Mountain performed at Woodstock. Their biggest hit was :Mississippi Queen”. Mountain released their first album,Ā Climbing! in 1970, which featured the hit “Mississippi Queen”. Another well known song by Mountain is “Nantucket Sleighride” which is about a whale dragging a boat after it has been harpooned. The song was dedicated to Owen Coffin who was on a ship that was dragged by a whale. As well as Mountain, Leslie West and bandmate Corky Laing formed West, Bruce, and Laing with none other than Jack Bruce from Cream. They released two studio albums and I recommendĀ Why Dontcha from 1972.

Linda McCartney:Ā Was a photographer, vegetarian/animal rights activist, and keyboard player forĀ Wings (before Wings were formed she played on Ram, which was credited to Paul and Linda McCartney in addition to McCartney). She married Paul McCartney in 1969. She took pictures of many famous rock stars in the 60s and 70s from The Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendrix to Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton. She was the first female photographer to have a photograph she took appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. If you’re new to Wings, I would suggest starting off with one of their best-known albums and one of my personal favourite albums,Ā Band On The Run.

Lou Reed:Ā Member of The Velvet Underground. He had a solo career afterwards that had a couple of hits. He was the primary songwriter, singer, and guitarist for The Velvet Underground. He was born in Brooklyn and before getting into music he was studying journalism and even hosted a radio show. He moved back to New York City in 1964 to work asĀ a songwriter and met future bandmate John Cale who played in a group called The Primitives along with Lou Reed. Lou Reed wrote a song called “The Ostrich” which gave its name to a type of tuning for guitar. Lou Reed knew Sterling Morrison from school and Maureen Tucker later joined the band. They came to Andy Warhol’s attention later on and he designed the famous album cover ofĀ The Velvet Underground and Nico. This is an album that not only looks good, but it sounds good too and it’s worth a listen. Some other songs I recommend are “White Light/White Heat”, “Sweet Jane”, and “Rock and Roll”.

Marilyn Wilson (nĆ©e Rovell): Member of surf rock group The Honeys. Honey is a slang term meaning female surf enthusiast. She was in the band with her sister Diane and her cousin Ginger Blake. She started dating Brian Wilson in 1962, later marrying him. They met at a club where the Beach Boys were performing. Brian Wilson produced their singles, but they never released an album in the 60s. The Honeys also sang backup vocalsĀ for fellow surf rock act Jan and Dean. Marilyn and Brian had two daughters, Carnie and Wendy Wilson who went on to become part of Wilson-Phillips. Some great songs by The Honeys are “He’s A Doll”, “The One You Can’t Have”, and “Shoot The Curl”.

Mike Bloomfield and Barry Goldberg of The Electric Flag:Ā Mike Bloomfield was a guitarist and besides founding The Electric Flag with fellow Chicago Barry Goldberg musician he worked with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Al Kooper, and Bob Dylan. Barry Goldberg plays keyboards and is a songwriter. He has collaborated with successful 60s songwriter Gerry Goffin. As a musician he has worked with Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Leonard Cohen, The Ramones, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. A diverse range of musicians.Ā A Long Time Comin’Ā  from 1968 is a great album and takes influences from soul, blues, and rock music. Ritchie Havens and Cass Elliot contributed to this album with Ritchie Havens playing sitar and percussion and Cass doing vocals on “Groovin’ Is Easy”. My favourite tracks on this album are “Killing Floor” – an amazing Howlin’ Wolf cover and “She Should Have Just”. The first Paul Butterfield Blues Band album is a great album to listen to with a lot of blues covers. East-West is also worth checking out. East-WestĀ takes influences from jazz, blues, psychedelic rock, and Indian classical music.

Neil Diamond: One of the msot successful adult contemporary musicians of all time, behind Elton John and Barbra Streisand. One of his biggest influences is Pete Seeger who performed at a summer camp that he attended as a teenager. He went to NYU studying pre-med, but he dropped out in his fourth year to pursue a songwriting career at the Brill Building. One his hobbies when he was young is fencing, which he was very good at. He wrote a few hits for The Monkees: “I’m A Believer” (#1 in late 1966) and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” (#1 Cashbox, #2 Billboard). “Kentucky Woman” was covered by Deep Purple in 1968. UB40 covered “Red Red Wine” in 1983. in Neil Diamond’s biggest hits include “Cherry, Cherry”, “Sweet Caroline”, and “Holly Holly”.

Norman Greenbaum:Ā Born in Massachusetts to an Orthodox Jewish family. Had a one hit wonder with “Spirit In The Sky”, which peaked at #3 in 1970. You’d know this song since it’s been in over 50 moviesĀ and quite a few adverts. John Lennon in an interview mentioned that he really liked the song because it was a good simple rock song. Before that he was in Dr. West’s Medicine Show, who were best known for the song “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago”. “Spirit In The Sky” is one of the best known religious themed songs of the 60s and 70s. It had a Christian theme, but ironically it was written and performed by an observant Jew. He cites western movies as the inspiration for his song. He saw the Spirit In The Sky as more important than the fact that Jesus was mentioned. His website is pretty cool and I really like how the domain name is spiritinthesky.com.

Randy California: Born in LA as Randy Wolfe. You’d know him best as one of the founding members of psychedelic rock band Spirit. He played guitar and did vocals. As well, his stepfather Ed Cassidy was the drummer. The band’s first two albums were their most successful, reaching the top 40 in the album charts. You could say he wrote the beginning of “Stairway to Heaven” because Led Zeppelin ripped off the song “Taurus”. The band’s biggest hit was “I Got a Line on You”Ā from the albumĀ The Family That Plays Together, reaching #25 in 1969. On that same album, there’s a song called “Jewish”, which is in Hebrew and comes from a traditional song, but there’s a psychedelic twist to it. Of Randy California’s guitar playing, his mum said “I always felt Randyā€™s solos sounded like what I remember from temple, I told him that sometimes his guitar sounded like a cantor in synagogue.” You can read a bit about him in this article.

Robbie Robertson:Ā GuitaristĀ of The Band and before that The Canadian Squires and Levon and The Hawks. The Band were one of the best known Canadian bands of the 60s. Born in Toronto to a Mohawk mother and a Jewish father. His father died when he was a child and his mum remarried and he took the last name of his stepfather. The BandĀ toured with Bob Dylan in the 60s. Robbie Robertson was the primary songwriter for The Band and wrote quite a few of their hits such as “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek”. Ā The following singles credited to the Canadian Squires and Levon and The Hawks were written by Robbie Robertson: “Uh-Uh-Uh”/“Leave Me Alone”, “The Stones I Throw (Will Free All Men)”, and “Go Go Liza Jane”. All three of those singles were written by Robbie Robertson.

Robby Krieger: Guitarist and songwriter for The Doors. He was born in Los Angeles. His influences include Elvis, Fats Domino, and The Platters. He joined The Doors in 1965 after Ray Manzarek’s brothers left the band. They worked their way up to playing at the Whisky a Go Go, supporting acts like Irish band Them. The Doors liked covering Them’s hit “Gloria”.Ā He wrote/co-wrote the hits “Break On Through To The Other Side” (credited to The Doors), “Light My Fire”, “People Are Strange” (co-wrtten with Jim Morrison), “Touch Me”, and “Love Her Madly”. The Doors released their self titled debut in 1967 and I highly recommend that album if you’re new to their music. I’d also recommendĀ The Soft Parade. After Jim Morrison’s death, The Doors continued to release albumsĀ Other Voices, Full Circle, andĀ An American Prayer. Robby Krieger played a big role writing songs on these albums and did vocals as well as guitar.

Russell and Ron Mael: Two brothers from Los Angeles who founded the 70s band Sparks. Russell is known for his falsetto voice and Ron is the primary songwriter and keyboard player for the band. Sparks have a versatile sound and you can’t say they fit into one genre of rock. The band hand more success in Europe than in the United States. In fact, at one point they were based in England! The albumĀ Kimono My House was their breakout album and got them a lot of success with the top 10 hits “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of US” and “Amateur Hour”. The band had chart hits through the 70s with songs such as “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth”, “Something For the Girl With Everything”, “The Number One Song in Heaven”, and “Beat the Clock”.

Ruthann Friedman: Songwriter and folk singer from the 60s. As well as writing songs, she does poetry. Born in New York, but moved to CaliforniaĀ when she was a kid. Her biggest success was her song “Windy” being covered by The Association, which was a chart topper in summer 1967 and it was one of The Association’s biggest hits. Wes Montgomery did a very good cover of this song in the 60s and that is also worth checking out. Ruthann’s version is a bit different, with more of an acoustic/folk with a bit of a psychedelic sound. One of the themes of the 60s for sure. Her music is worth checking out if you’re a fan of Joni Mitchell.

Simon and Garfunkel: Singing duo from the 60s made up of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. They were from New York City and were very iconic and important to the 60s counterculture. They were from a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood called Forest Hills and they were close friends from school. They first got a record deal when they were 15 and released their first single, “Hey Schoolgirl” in 1957 under the name Tom & Jerry. As Simon & Garfunkel they released their first album in 1964,Ā Wednesday Morning, 3 AM. 1965 and 1966 were big years for the duo with the singles “The Sound of Silence” going #1 in America in 1965 and “Homeward Bound” peaking at #5 in America in 1966. Their best known album isĀ Bookends, released in 1968. this album featured the hits “America”, ‘Mrs Robinson”, and “A Hazy Shade of Winter”. They split up in 1970 and that year “Bridge Over Troubled Water” went number one in the US and UK.

The Strangeloves:Ā A 60s group made up of members Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer. They wrote songs that became bubblegum pop hits such as “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels. They were the same songwriting team that wrote the song “I Want Candy”, which was notably covered by Bow Wow Wow in the 80s. This songĀ used the Bo Diddley Beat. The Strangeloves themselves had a fabricated backstory for marketing, claiming to be three Australian brothers. The Strangeloves also produced the song “Hang On Sloopy” for The McCoys. That song went to #1 in the US in 1965.

Suicide: Both members, Alan Vega (born Boruch Bermowitz) and Martin Rev, of this duo were Jewish. They were pioneers in punk and electronic music. After all, they were the first band to describe themselves as a punk band. They used the term “punk” on a concert poster in 1970, years before punk took off. Martin Rev played keyboard, synthesiser, and used drum machines and Alan Vega did the vocals. If you like Neu!, The Modern Lovers, and Television, you’ll love Suicide. Songs I likedĀ from their self titled debut from 1977 are “Rocket USA”, “Cheree”, and “Johnny”.

Sylvain Sylvain:Ā GuitaristĀ of The New York Dolls. He was born in Egypt, but his family left when he was young. He was an original member of the band. Before joining the band, heĀ ran a clothing company with Billy Murcia, who would later on join the New York Dolls as well. He co-wrote the single “Trash.” The song was not a hit at the time, but it is considered very influential because of its mix of protopunk and glam rock.

Tiny Tim: Born Herbert Khaury in New York City to a Jewish mother and a Lebanese Catholic father. He was well known for his versions of the songs “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and “Livin’ In The Sunlight, Lovin’ In The Moonlight” (you’ll know this one if you’re a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants). He played ukulele and his voice was very distinctive because of his singing in a falsetto. He released his first album in 1968 calledĀ God Bless Tiny Tim, which includes the two famous songs listed above as well as other songs like a cover of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe”. He appeared in many shows in the 60s such asĀ Rowan and Martin‘s Laugh-In,Ā The Jackie Gleason Show, andĀ The Ed Sullivan Show.

Tony Levin:Ā Born in Boston in 1946. He has a background in classical music, playing double bass and tuba as a secondary school student. Before he worked with progressive rock bands he played jazz music, working with Gap Mangione (Chuck Mangione’s older brother) on the album Diana In The Autumn Wind. In the late 70s, Tony Levin met Peter Gabriel and became part of his band, playing on his studio albums from 1977- 1986.Ā Levin joined King Crimson in the early 80s and played on albums such asĀ Discipline,Ā Beat, andĀ The Great Deceiver.Ā 

Zal Yanovsky: Born in Toronto and was best known for being a member of The Lovin’ Spoonful, playing guitar and doing vocals. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s biggest hits were “Do You Beleive In Magic”, “Daydream”, and “Summer in the City”. He started The Lovin’ Spoonful in 1964 with John Sebastian, but before that he played with musicians Denny Doherty (fellow Canadian who later on joined The Mamas and The Papas) and Cass Elliot. who would later go on to become famous as Mama Cass. In The Lovin Spoonful he played guitar and did vocals. He played on the albums: Do You Believe In Magic, Daydream, the soundtrack of What’s Up Tiger Lily, and Hums of The Lovin’ Spoonful.Ā He cowrote the songs: “Night Owl Blues”, “It’s Not Time Now”, “Big Noise From Speonk”, and “Coconut Grove”. He sang lead vocals on “Voodoo In My Basement” off of the album Hums of The Lovin’ Spoonful.Ā Later on he owned and operated restaurants.

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