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Happy 60th Birthday…

October 20th, 2010
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In the late 80’s early 90’s, Tom Petty had one of the most successful albums of the period with Full Moon Fever. It’s lead hit, Free Fallin’ is still a staple of rock radio and bar bands.

In the 80’s he had a string of hits that include The Waiting, You Got Lucky, Change of Heart, Don’t Come Around Here No More and So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star. He also had collaborative hits with Stevie Nicks and the Traveling Wilburys.

In the 70’s, he produced a debut album, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, that had Breakdown and American Girl on it.

In the 60’s, as a teenager growing up in Central Florida, he played in a band with Don Felder, who would find success of his own with The Eagles, and write a little ditty known as Hotel California.

If you’ve never seen him live, Tom Petty puts on a superb show: unpolished yet clean, unpractised sounding yet flawless. He runs a string of hits that surprise you to no end, two hours of songs you know and like but didn’t realize it.

None of it matters.

Tom Petty deserves birthday wishes for 1979’s Damn The Torpedoes. It included the songs Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Even the Losers and Don’t Do Me Like That. It is a remarkable rock and roll album, rated as all time #313 on Rolling Stones list of 500 all time greatest albums. I rate it much, much higher.

So happy 60th birthday Tom Petty: I would suggest you have a nice rest, but I suspect you don’t do nothing very well.


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On This Day

September 28th, 2010

On Sept 28, 1960 my family changed irrevocably. It would be almost three years before I was born, another six months or so before I could utter the phrase, “changed irrevocably,” never mind grasp it’s subtle implications. None the less, the family changed in a way that would affect me dramatically: my older brother was born. The first born, he was rambunctious almost from the get go. An active boy, he would later find sports in a big way. In fact, the way I am with music, he is with sports.

A story: When I got Led Zeppelin tickets in 2007 he was the one guy I figured could afford to go. He did, and more than once while we were in England he compared seeing Led Zeppelin to the Super Bowl he had a chance to see a few years earlier. I disagreed, on two points: 1) Football sucks, Led Zeppelin doesn’t. 2) 80,000 people get to go to the super bowl annually; 20,000 people got to see Led Zeppelin once since 1980.

He is, to make a long post somewhat shorter, a sports guy. So it is appropriate that he should share his day with two significant sporting events.

It was his twelfth birthday when Foster Hewitt made the most famous call in Canadian sports in 1972:

Henderson has scored for Canada.

He is aware of the date of that goal, and has mentioned before it was on his birthday. He even has a picture of that moment hanging in his basement.

The second event occurred the day he was born. While he was entering the world in Ireland, across the ocean in the Irish-American stronghold of Boston, Ted Williams was finishing his career. Fourty-two year old Williams played his last game 50 years ago today, hitting a home run in his final at bat in the major leagues.

Williams played 21 years in the major leagues, hit 521 home runs and had a career batting average of .344. A brilliant career, capped off 50 years ago today.

Jim Pagliaroni shakes Ted Williams' hand after his final at-bat in 1960

Jim Pagliaroni shakes Ted Williams' hand after his final at-bat in 1960

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Happy 80th Birthday…

August 25th, 2010

He was the first Bond, the guy who defined the role. Tackling Dr. No, bedding Ursula Andress. That itself is enough to warrant birthday wishes.imgsean-connery5

There’s his “Chicago Way” speech, in The Untouchables:

They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way!

Birthday wishes all around for that one.

However, Sean Connery really gets 80th birthday wishes because if you have something to say that’s not really funny, but you want it to be funny, you can simply say in a Sean Connery accent. Now it’s funny!

So Happy 80th Birthday Sean Connery, because of all the laughs you got me, and all the entertainment you’ve given me.


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Happy 62nd Birthday…

August 20th, 2010

Bob Plant

I have alternatively praised and buried Robert Plant in this site. As the front man for Led Zeppelin, Plant headed the greatest rock band ever (don’t bother, no dissension from this view will be tolerated). As a solo artist, he has had a varied career. After his second solo album he changed gears dramatically, and disastrously. Many friends at the time told him, don’t change, you are almost there again.

But one thing Plant has never done is stand still. I disagree with many of his musical choices, dislike his choice not to tour with a reformed Led Zeppelin, and think his voice is almost certainly not what it once was (hence, his refusal to tour with Zeppelin). But he has always done what he wants, always made music with integrity, and for that alone he deserves praise.

But most of all, Robert Plant gets annual birthday wishes for Dec 10, 2007. The night. And as usual, for his birthday I wish him a wonderful year with much travelling and surrounded by old friends.


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Happy 35th Birthday…

July 9th, 2010

Jack White is a multi-instrumental musician who founded the White Stripes with then wife (whom he now calls his sister) Meg White.

tintype_whiteHe is, admittedly, eccentric with possibly, maybe a touch of the genius.

It’s not, however, for his music that At Home in Hespeler celebrates Jack White today. It’s for a moment in time, caught on film.

In the fabulous guitarist documentary, It Might Get Loud, Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge get together. Early in the movie Jack White is talking, saying he thinks special effects are a cheat, a lazy approach to guitar playing. Meanwhile, they are showing The Edge’s special effects being brought onto the soundstage ahead of the guitarists summit – on a forklift truck.

Too funny.

So Happy 35th Birthday Jack White, for the finest example of how not to respect your elders I’ve ever seen.


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Happy 50th Birthday…

May 10th, 2010

Boy, that Bono sure can be an annoying guy. Certainly I have criticized him on these pages before. I don’t like some rich celebrity coming into my town and telling my government how they should spend my hard earned money. Hey, Bono,yea you talking to Paul Martin, shut up and sing! bono-american-flag

I also don’t like rich celebrities constantly telling governments they need to spend more, and more… and MORE, yet then they arrange their affairs to pay the least they can. If you think governments job is to spend lots of money, the least you can do, the bare minimum, is give your fair share. I know you have a legal right to organize your corporation to minimize your tax load, but when you start with all  the talking you take on a moral responsibility to give the maximum you can.

That said, I like Bono. He is, at least, sincere in his beliefs. Bono sings about his political beliefs, puts his politics in his songs. He, in other words, puts his money where his mouth is. I don’t have to always like it, but I respect it. Want to use your celebrity to advance a cause, then use your sell-able talent to advance the cause and I can reject it or not as I please. Bono, virtually alone amongst rock stars, does this.

Frankly, I love his sense of melody. U2 is not my favourite band, not by any stretch. The Edge – which isn’t really a name – is just an alright guitar player in my books. The rhythm section is good, but a tight bass and drum combo hardly makes for great rock, although great rock is impossible without it. What sets U2 apart is Bono’s sense of melody. Songs like Mysterious Ways, Angel of Harlem and Sweetest Thing display an almost playful melodic sensibility. The boy can sing, and he can sing with some style.

But the reason I wish Bono – real name Paul David Hewson – a happy 50th birthday is the following story, as told by Dave Thompson in I Hate New Music:

Bono stands upon the stage, his eyes sharp, his voice steady. Behind him, his bandmates slow the music to a rhythmic throb.  “Every time I clap my hands,” Bono says slowly, “another person dies of hunger.”

He starts to clap. One. Two. Three. The silence in the hall is absolute. Four. Five. Six. The audience scarcely dares breathe. Seven. Eight. Nine. Every time he claps his hands, another person dies of hunger.

And then a voice rings out from the back of the room: “Well you better stop fucking clapping then.”

So happy birthday Paul Hewson, aka Bono, because even if that story is untrue, it’s a great one. And it wouldn’t be possible to believably tell without you.


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Happy 65th Birthday…

May 6th, 2010

I could give a hundred reasons to offer happy birthday to Bob Seger: Night Moves; Rock and Roll Never Forgets; Katmandu; Beautiful Loser and so on ad naseum. I could even mention some newer material, Lock and Load perhaps, that holds up against what anyone is doing these days.

How about happy birthday for paying homage to Chuck Berry faithfully for 40 years, expanding the audience of Berry by untold amounts, while maintaining your own originality.

But really, it’s about this: in September 1975 Seger recorded 2 shows at Cobo Hall in Detroit, his hometown. He played a song from his previous album, Turn the Page. The song, about life on the road, meant something more on this night and Seger closed his eyes and nailed it like a carpenter at a barn raising. At the 3:35 mark in the recording the band is just about to drop out for the vocals, and Alto Reed’s saxophone comes in with the songs signature lick. It’s not a magic moment, nothing that average. It’s one of the top 5 three-seconds in all of rock and roll.

It is for that moment, and many others, that Bob Seger gets his At Home and Hespeler 65th birthday wishes.

Happy 65th Birthday Bob Seger, we look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Birthday Wishes, Bob Seger, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin'

Happy 60th Birthday…

April 22nd, 2010
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Peter Frampton is much maligned as an artist. He played with Steve Marriott in Humble Pie, before beginning a solo career in 1971. Considered by many to be the king of soft rock, example A for all that is wrong with music and the guy who ruined rock and roll by selling so many damn records, the truth is Frampton is a very good guitar player and an excellent performer. But more than anything else, Peter Frampton brought the talk box to millions of people who otherwise never would have heard one.

So happy 60th birthday, for Show Me the Way and the rest of Frampton Comes Alive!


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Happy 65th Birthday…

March 30th, 2010

Eric Clapton is the original Yardbird guitarist, the first of three to pass through that legendary band and onward to bigger and better.

clapton-2Cream was the original power trio, the model for so many others, including bands like Led Zeppelin who took the musical trio and added a vocal. Clapton was the first guy who brought the Les Paul guitar out of obscurity, plugged it into a Marshall Amp and transformed the look and sound of rock music.

As an musician Clapton has a hand in such works as After Midnight, Sunshine of your Love, Badge, Crossroads, Lay Down Sally, For Your Love, My Fathers Eyes, White Room, I Shot the Sheriff and Wonderful Tonight to scratch the surface.

It is for none of the above that At Home in Hespeler celebrates “Slowhand” Eric Clapton’s 65th today. We Celebrate Eric Clapton because of Layla, one of the most magnificent, deeply felt songs in rock’n’roll. A true work of genius, and a pretty good career in and of itself. So happy birthday Eric Clapton, and no, all your love was not in vain.

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Happy 70th Birthday…

March 10th, 2010

Chuck Norris doesn’t sweat. However, his perspiration is the fountain of youth so Chuck Norris doesn’t actually have birthdays. Furthermore, Chuck Norris could drop kick time and sent it spinning backwards to whenever he wants, so aging isn’t really an issue with Chuck Norris anyway. And if he cried, his tears would cure cancer, so illness isn’t a big issue with Chuck Norris.

That said, here at At Home in Hespeler we are celebrating today anyway, because of all the great Chuck Norris jokes, and because of his inspired, Oscar deserving performance in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story – the only Chuck Norris movie I think I’ve ever seen.

Happy 70 anniversary of the day Chuck Norris was born.

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Happy 64th Birthday…

January 3rd, 2010
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John Paul Jones.

For the first time in what must be twenty years, I got a new record for Christmas. Pristine, in the package, never before played, the music was also new. What is old is new again.them-crooked-vultures

Last year at this time, I wished for John Paul Jones “may your year be filled, and thus ours, with music.” It was, but not in the way I was expecting. Them Crooked Vultures took the rock world heavily in 2009, combining front line talent from three different areas of hard rock. The result was fantastic, receiving best release of the year in some year end reviews. John Paul Jones had done it again, and my Them Crooked Vultures LP was the highlight of Christmas morning.

Happy Birthday John Paul Jones, and may your year be spent making music with friends, old or new.

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Happy 60th Birthday…

September 23rd, 2009

Bruce Springsteen could get the AHIH Birthday nod because of 35 years of quality rock ‘n’ roll and leave it at that. I could offer best wishes on his 60th for turning the Fender Telecaster into a rock ‘n’ roll instrument, synonymous in rock ‘n’ roll circles with Bruce Springsteen much like Jimmy Page and his Les Paul.bruce_springsteen_3

On the other hand, in 1974 Bruce Springsteen set out to record the greatest rock album ever, and almost succeeded (arguably did) with the release of Born to Run. Three years later he released his most artistically complete work, Darkness on the Edge of Town, leaving possibly the two best songs (Fire and Because The Night, the former become a hit for The Pointer Sisters; the latter for Patti Smith) on the cutting room floor. He also wrote one of those songs that may never go away, Blinded By The Light, made what it is by Manfred Mann. Surely that’s enough for birthday wishes on his 60th.

Maybe I’d say happy birthday because he performed two of the three best concerts I have ever seen, first in 1984, just before he was to achieve superstardom. Dancing in the Dark was on the radio, Courtney Cox dancing on MTV, her first flirtation with fame. The second time was almost 30 years later, in 2003. Performing from a new album, the 50-something Springsteen stepped up for 2 1/2 hours. If a reformed Led Zeppelin hadn’t upended the “best concert I’ve ever seen” listing in 2007, I could say with absolute confidence they would have been the two best shows I have ever seen.

Someone else, I might offer wishes because he wrote the following lines:

brucespringsteenIf dreams came true aww wouldn’t that be nice…

I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul…

The street’s on fire in a real death waltz
Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy
Man, the poets down here don’t write nothin’ at all,
They just stand back and let it all be…

I got Mary pregnant and man that was all she wrote.
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat.
We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest…

We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school…

But it’s a sad man my friend who’s livin’ in his own skin
And can’t stand the company…

On another day I might suggest the guitar solo in Prove it All Night is worthy o, the bass line in Fire, the passionately strained vocals on Born to Run suggest the recipient was worthy.

Truth is, I can’t narrow down Bruce Springsteen’s contributions to one lick, one line, one song, one album. His career has produced a body of work that can only be called significant, much of it among the best in rock’n’roll.

So Happy 60th Birthday Bruce Springsteen, because of the years of wonder you have given me, and because even after all these years, rock ‘n’ roll still seems important to you.

Birthday Wishes, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin', Springsteen is still Boss

Happy 60th Birthday…

September 14th, 2009

Ed King is the third guitarist in the legendary three guitar attack of Lynyrd Skynyrd.edking Joining the band as bassist after Skynyrd opened for King’s own band, Strawberry Alarm Clock, King had moved to guitar by the time Skynyrd’s first album hit the shelves.

His guitar prowess notwithstanding, King was also a significant songwriter with credits including the legendary Sweet Home Alabama and an uncredited assist on Strawberry Alarm Clock’s big hit, Incense and Peppermint.

All that pales, however, to Kings one true contribution to rock and roll: he’s the guy who gives the four beat count-in on Sweet Home Alabama: possibly the most recognizable count-in since I Saw Her Standing There.

Happy 60th Birthday Ed King, hope your enjoying your retirement.

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Happy Birthday…

July 28th, 2009
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Lori Loughlin is no thespian of great note. Her one claim to fame,lori-loughlin000x0432x649 John Stamos wife Rebecca on Full House, places her as a pretty face on the diabetics nightmare of 1980’s television. But Lori Loughlin is not just a pretty face, she may be the prettiest face to emanate from the strange glowing box in my living room.

Here at At Home in Hespeler, I celebrate the beauty of the female, and Lori Loughlin is at the apex of that list.

Happy 45th birthday Lori Loughlin; still gorgeous after all these years.

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Happy 60th Birthday…

July 17th, 2009

Geezer Butler

I am not now, nor have I ever been a Black Sabbath fan. Normally I would follow that with a but…, but his work on Neon Knights, Fairies Wear Boots, War Pigs,geezer_butler Iron Man or any of many, many well known and loved songs of my generation. I might mention his innovative use of the wah-wah pedal in N.I.B., perhaps a first for bass guitarists. Or that he’s the guy who wrote much of the lyrics for Black Sabbath, the man who put the words in Ozzy Osbourne’s mouth. All true, all worthy of note, all mean nothing to me.

But, when a guy named Geezer turns 60, something must be said.

So Happy Birthday Geezer Butler, not for all the joy you’ve brought to my life, but for all the joy you’ve brought others, and because you have one of the coolest names in rock and roll

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