Robert writes about rock & pop music, and vinyl record collecting.
Well, here we are at number fourteen in our continuing series about "bird" and "animal" band names in rock 'n' roll history. We leave the water (from our last article) and get back into some more land animals.
When Eddie Rabbitt died of cancer in May of 1998, he left a pop/country legacy that included writing a Top 40 hit for Elvis Presley (Kentucky Rain) as well as scoring a number one Billboard single for himself, 1980's "I Love A Rainy Night."
Listening to basement tapes filled with scraps of lyrics and melodies, Rabbitt heard six seconds of a song fragment he had recorded twelve years earlier. It brought back memories and he sang into his tape recorded "I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night"...and then completed his song, appropriately of the same name. The song went to number one on both the country charts and the Billboard Top 40 (two weeks) and remained on the charts for twenty-eight weeks.
Rabbitt also scored five other number one country/pop hits with crossover songs such as "Every Which Way But Loose," (from the Clint Eastwood Movie), "Suspicious" (1979), "Drivin' My Life Away" (1980 - from the movie "Roadie"), 1981's "Step By Step" and "Someone Could Lose A Heart Tonight."
During the course of his career, he scored 20 number-ones on Billboard's country singles chart. In 1982, he teamed up with Crystal Gale for the #7 crossover hit "You And I." Country music and music in general are in a better place because Eddie Rabbitt chose to lend his song writing expertise to the masses.
Edward Bear was a successful Canadian folk-rock group that was formed by Larry Evoy and Craig Hemming. The Toronto-based band achieved greater success in Canada, and the tune called "Last Song" reached number one in the country and peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 40 in 1972. Formed, originally as the Edward Bear Trio, the quintet took their name from a character in A.A. Milne's book, Winnie-the-Pooh.
The band collected a Juno Award in 1973 (Canada's version of our Grammy Award) for the Outstanding Group Performance category and had other hits including the international hit "You, Me And Mexico" (1970), "Close Your Eyes" (1973) and Canadian hits like "You Can't Deny It," "Fly Across The Sea," "Masquerade" and "Freedom For The Stallion." The group disbanded in the mid 70's, with Evoy pursuing a solo career. Band member Danny Marks remained very popular in Toronto through the 80's doing parodies and impressions in nightclubs.
The group Buffalo Springfield (they "borrowed" the name from a steam roller that was resurfacing a road in Los Angles, California) was formed in 1966 and as the story goes future band members Stephen Stills and Richie Furay were driving down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angles and they spotted a hearse that Stills was sure belonged to Neil Young. As fate would have it, it was in fact Neil Young and with him was Canadian Bruce Palmer. The trio added Dewey Martin on the drums and one of rock's most talented "super groups" was born.
Taking advantage of the bustling folk scene and with brilliantly executed folk-rock, the group secured a Billboard Top Ten hit with the Stephen Stills poignant and topical song, "For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)" which peaked at #7 in 1967, remaining on the charts for eleven weeks.
Although the groups were together for only nineteen months, they managed to release three very engaging albums. Their self-named debut LP featured the previous mentioned single as well as Neil Young's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" and the country-tinged, "Sit Down I Think I Love You."
The band's second release was a sheer masterpiece and included several extraordinary tracks by Young, such as the raw, but powerful "Mr. Soul," "Broken Arrow" and the ballad-like "Expecting To Fly." Theses early Neil Young tunes were a precursor for what was yet to come from this brilliant song writer. Stills chipped in with the spellbinding "Bluebird" and the creative "Rock & Roll Woman," mixing dynamic vocals with clear acoustic guitars and Stills' trademark electric guitar work. Furay contributed a song called "Good Time Boy" which was written for drummer Dewey Martin to sing lead on.
But with their egos and creative energy as strong as their song writing skills, tensions were high within the group, especially between Young and Stills. The third album from the band, ironically called "Last Time Around" was the last LP these creative geniuses would release and showcased a couple of critically acclaimed song's, Young's "On The Way Home" and Richie Furay's melodic ballad "Kind Woman."
In May of 1968, Stills left Buffalo Springfield to join up with David Crosby and Graham Nash to form the group Crosby, Stills & Nash. Young joined the group in 1970 to form the super group, CSN&Y and the band released the legendary album called "Déjà Vu." Young left the band after a double-live album called "Four Way Street" for an incomparable solo career and has reached iconic status in rock and roll. Furay teamed up with fellow musician Jim Messina and formed the country-rock group Poco. Later on, Furay joined J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman to form the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, and Messina teamed with Kenny Loggins in Loggins & Messina. In 1997 the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In a weird twist (well for our series on "birds" and "animals" in rock and roll anyway), Neil Young's back up band was named Crazy Horse and Young released many albums in their on and off professional relationship including the first album to feature the backing band, "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and they still play together to this day.
Look for part fifteen of our ongoing series coming to DigitalDreamDoor.com!
Eddie Rabbit Tidbits:
Eddie Rabbitt always felt it was his responsibility as an entertainer "to be [a] good role model" and was an advocate for many charitable organizations including the Special Olympics, Easter Seals, and the American Council on Transplantation, of which he served as the honorary chairman. He also worked as a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and United Cerebral Palsy.
Rabbitt was a jack-of-all-trades and was employed as a mental hospital attendant in the late 1950s, but like his father, he would fulfill his desire for music by performing at the Six Steps Down club in his home town. He was also temporarily employed as a truck driver, soda jerk and fruit picker while stationed in Nashville. He was ultimately hired as a staff writer for the Hill & Range Publishing Company and received a salary of $37.50 a week.
Rabbitt used innovative techniques to tie Country themes with light rhythm and blues influenced tempos. His songs would often make use of echo, as Rabbitt routinely sang his own background vocals.
Edward Bear Tidbits:
"Last Song" was awarded a gold disc in March 1973 for selling over one million copies by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The band is a favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who feels the band should be regarded as "The Beatles of Canada."
Evoy, who briefly embraced scientology in 1973, went on to a solo career but is currently retired from live performance and running a small recording studio.
Buffalo Springfield Tidbits:
"For What It's Worth" - Stills said in an interview that the name of the song came about when he presented it to the band he said, "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Later they decided that should be its name.
The original version of the song has appeared in several movies, such as Coming Home, Purple Haze, Forrest Gump, Girl, Interrupted, Lord of War, and Tropic Thunder, and the TV shows The West Wing (in the episode "Isaac and Ishmael"), The Wonder Years (in the second episode "Swingers").
Buffalo Springfield was the band's first album, and this song was not originally included on it. After "For What It's Worth" became a hit single, it replaced "Baby Don't Scold Me" on re-issues of the album.