Sad rock and roll news, and not related to pandemic.
We could say it’s not related to movies and TV either, but I think there’s a Van Halen soundtrack for some movie coming someday in the future (hint, hint). Maybe it’s not been released yet, but it deserves to be someday (we can dream, anyway!). I know Van Halen did a song for the movie Twister, but I’m talking something like Motley Crue’s The Dirt or Rocketman.
A mighty axeman has fallen: Edward Van Halen will be playing his licks in the afterlife, and I bet those solos will be scorching.
The announcement was made by his son, Wolfgang.
“I can’t believe I’m having to write this,” the statement said, “but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”
Van Halen will always be the party band of the 80s. These guys just knew how to play fun rock and roll. Great band that had a ton of great songs. Consider myself fortunate to have seen them on their tour with Wolf on bass. They rocked Seattle that night.
Eddie is rumored to have recorded a ton of music in his 5150 studio. Would love if they release some of that, perhaps as a soundtrack to a biopic about the band.
Something seemed off when I read this AC/DC article with Angus Young saying, “it’s a little bit late for us to do a ballad.” Out of context, it was, when I read the entire interview, but it made for a good trip down musical memory lane.
They have a history of recording several ballads, some of which are very good, if you haven’t heard them before or don’t remember. This post will detail these unsung hero ballads — AC/DC-style!
Angus says: “People have said we’ve hung around long enough! But some bands fade when they try to adapt to what’s current. We play rock music. It’s a little bit late for us to do a ballad. Rock is what we do best.
There is no arguing that AC/DC does straight up hard rock as good as any band. They are immortal in that regard, but they’ve done several ballads through the years. I mean, you only need to go back in time and listen.
Spotify subscribers, definitely put the original tunes in your AC/DC ballad rotation, but YouTubers can make a playlist of these “ballads” as well:
“Love Song” originally on 1975 debut album, High Voltage (Australian release only), but not available in the version released elsewhere. – Bon Scott, vocals crooning: “Oh Jene!” (spelling from Wikipedia article) Given it’s been 45+ years, but Angus has to remember Bon Scott’s lyrics like: “when I think of you saying goodbye, oh the sky turns a deeper blue, that’s, that’s how I’d feel if I lost you” No idea who Jene is, but she’s the focus of this very much ballad AC/DC song.
2. “She’s Got Balls” from the front side of High Voltage. The rare soundboard version on YouTube of this performance may not sound like a ballad, but it’s one of the more “ballsy” blues ballads from their first album. Love the cooking bass and simple drum intro when Bon Scott comes in with, “she’s got style, that woman!” — what a terrible loss. I like this one better than their hit from Dirty Deeds, “Big Balls.”
3. “Little Lover” is another ballad-rocker song from High Voltage like “She’s Got Balls” I remember first hearing this album and being blown away by Angus and Malcolm trading relatively simple guitar riffs with a great feel and amazing signature tone.
4. “Big Balls” from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976), This is the most festive ballad rock song about balls ever created. “My balls are always bouncing, from the left to the right, it’s my belief that my big balls should be held every night.” LOL, I laughed at these lyrics which are, of course, littered with double entendres.
5. “Ride On” also from Dirty Deeds and in the soundtrack for the movie Maximum Overdrive (top of post). This sure seems like a ballad to me. It’s not as lovey-dovey lyrics-wise as “Love Song” but it’s a slow blues ballad. The type that only AC/DC has done.
7. “Gone Shootin” from Powerage. Ok, this one is not a ballad, per se, but the riff live captured below is played much faster tempo than the album version.
8. “Let Put My Love Into You” from Brian Johnson’s first album, the iconic Back In Black, is another AC/DC-style ballad. A rocker
9. “Two’s Up” from Blow Up Your Video (1988). Another AC/DC rocker that has the hard groove, but feels a little like a ballad when it gets to the melodic chorus. This is pretty much the end of the line for mellow songs on any of their albums.
AC/DC is rumored to be working on another studio album featuring tracks composed by Angus and Malcolm, his brother that died during the Rock or Bust tour. They had already tapped nephew Stevie Young to replace Malcolm on the tour, because he was too sick to tour. Then Brian Johnson had hearing problems and had to leave the tour. Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses stepped in to cover and did a great job. As if this wasn’t enough band drama, long time bassist Cliff Williams retired.
Will there be another AC/DC album? Dee Snider says yes. It probably will not have any ballads, based on Angus’s quotes, and be more in line with the material on their last album, Rock or Bust. We’ll be happy to welcome any new AC/DC music, ballads or not. I mean, who doesn’t like AC/DC?
Despite a lack of interest in making new music from many artists, primarily because the money these days is in touring not selling new albums, I’m always excited to hear when artists do create new music.
Including those who have done famous movie music.
Although John Carpenter will be mostly remembered as the horror director for Halloween (1978) and The Thing and other cinematic cult gems like Escape From New York, his musical work should also be highlighted. Recently, I shared a post on a Carpenter-like theme inspired mashup (see: Halloween meets Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train cover)
Carpenter is still writing and composing music. Two new tracks, “Skeleton” and “Unclean Spirit” are not part of any movie, just Carpenter and his son Cody freewheel burning.
John Carpenter is releasing a new album in the fall and has dropped two new tracks today. The horror icon has a 12-inch vinyl single containing the two tracks as well. Many variants of it are being released, and are available for preorder right now. These are a collaboration with his Halloween 2018 co-composers, his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies, who seem to have reignited Carpenter’s passion for music these last couple years. He is pumping out great stuff,
After watching this movie, I’ve been listening to more Skynyrd. Throughout this critique, I’ve picked out songs that would have fit in with the movie — but with only one exception — don’t exist. It’s my way of saying, the music is what should have made it into this movie. It would be something like Elton John’s biopic Rocket Man not having the title song.
That’s my fundamental criticism of the movie: the missing Skynyrd music. The elephant in the room. The rest of the movie, lower budget aside, is done pretty well.
Only one Skynyrd song is actually in this movie, and that’s “Call Me The Breeze.”
Rock and roll drummers, unless you’re John “Bonzo” Bonham of Zeppelin, Keith Moon of The Who, Tommy Lee / Motley Crue, Neil Peart of Rush and others, we typically don’t get to know skin bashers very well. It’s always the lead vocalists or guitarists that get the majority of the limelight. The timekeepers are very important to the overall band, but they are so often obscured behind their kits.
I’d heard of Artimus Pyle before, he’s the second drummer for the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Don’t ask me how many other drummers they’ve had, but they only had two with Ronnie Van Zant. Bob Burns played on Skynyrd’s first two albums where the bulk of their hits (like almost their entire first album were hits). Why did Burns leave the band? According to Wikipedia, he suffered a mental breakdown after a European tour. Burns is deceased, after a car crash in 2015.
From here, it’s spoiler territory.
… you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …
So, this film is Artimus Pyle’s account of what happened. How he joined the band (very briefly), followed by what happened during and after the plane crash.
The crash happened on Thursday, October 20, 1971. Ironically, Skynyrd has two famous songs with days of the week in the title: “Tuesdays Gone” from their debut album and “Saturday Nigh Special” — which are exactly one day apart between the day of the crash.
It would have been cool if the movie opened the movie with “Tuesday’s Gone” and then at some point before the end of the movie — but not the ending — played “Saturday Night Special” The first song would have fit the title sequence and Artimus Pyle’s initial story because Bob Burns, the original Skynyrd drummer left the band (no idea if that was on a Tuesday, but wouldn’t that be really coincidental?).
Pyle’s present day band was on the label Cleopatra, which put him in connection with the film’s director, Jared Cohn.
There has been a multi-year legal battle between current members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and family members of the deceased over Artimus Pyle telling his story of what happened. Some allege that Pyle was a coward and ran away, while Pyle was a Marine and his account is that he went to seek help.
On the opening of the movie, Pyle explains his frustration that they couldn’t have a bigger budget and Gary Rossington and Judy Van Zant, the lead vocalist’s widow, tried to block the movie from ever being released. They blocked any Skynyrd songs from being included in the movie except for “Call Me The Breeze” which wasn’t originally a Skynyrd song.
In an interview with Street Survivors director, Cohn explains if he believes Pyle’s account of the crash.
I took everything else into consideration and I put pieces of that to fill out the story, when I was creating the world. But in terms of how things went down when that plane started to crash, it’s Artimus’ point of view. I sat with him, he was crying, thought it was emotional and there were tears; it’s impossible not to believe him, so I 100% believe everything that he said.
Pyle’s first album with Skynyrd was Nuthin’ Fancy in 1975. The biggest hit song from that album was “Saturday Night Special” — I think it would have been better to place this song toward the end of the movie, but in this post, I’m putting it here.
The movie highlights the album “Street Survivors” Pyle worked on with the band, but again, none of the music is licensed, but it would have been cool if they played during all the naked breasts, drinking and drugs, the song “That Smell”
The song “Simple Man” would make a good song to include after Pyle was established joining the band. The song makes me think of Pyle, even though he wasn’t in the band at the time of the debut album.
It seemed like a lot of the people in the band, maybe save for Ronnie Van Zant just cared about playing great rock and roll and were simple in that regard, but the music they played wasn’t very simple. A three guitarist attack was being formed in the mid 70s that one can only dream what would happen had they been able to continue.
During the plane crash would have been too much to play any music, but the song before the danger is detected happens, perhaps on the radio they could work in “What’s Your Name”
After the crash, the stock music they used is good as it is. That’s the only place I didn’t want to hear any Skynyrd music. Somewhere before the end, working in, “Sweet Home Alabama” seems like a necessity.
Of course the movie and end credits should have had “Free Bird” — here, again a live performance playing alongside all the people involved, living and dead from this band could have rolled in the credits.
It seems Artimus Pyle wanted a movie with this music to be included, but licensing just wasn’t going to happen with the movie being under constant legal barrage. We’ll have to settle for this accompanying blog post to put the music where it belongs in the story.
Reviews by Others
This film doesn’t have a lot of reviews out there, probably because it’s VOD and more narrow-focused, but I’ve seen a couple Street Survivors: The True Story of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash reviews to share.
The Ballad of Curis Loew: “There is no doubt Skynyrd fans will be divided on the merits of this movie. The families of those that perished in the plane crash will, I am certain, consider it an intrusion on their grief. It will touch many raw nerves. For me, as the titles rolled at the end, the abiding emotion that I am left with is one of profound sadness. At times, especially the band’s final moments, I wanted to stop watching. Heart breaking.”
World Film Geek: “…despite the low budget, this is actually a pretty decent indie biopic that starts with Pyle, played with excellence by newcomer Ian Shultis, auditioning for the band and his eventual bond with the late Van Zant, played by Taylor Clift. One thing is for sure, yes, there is Lynyrd Skynyrd in the film, but the focus is without a doubt more on Pyle and his bonding with Van Zant”
In my reading list, haven’t see any reviews that weren’t recommended as of this writing. It’s possible there will be more reviews when it leaves VOD and hits one or more streaming services.
Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.
Other films about Lynyrd Skynyrd
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I went into a Skynyrd sidetrack mode watching and reviewing movies about the band. Here are some other related reviews:
Check out the box art. A+ to the designer behind that.
This is one of the most famous music-related plane crashes in history. It’s up there with Buddy Holly and Ozzy’s plane crash that took the life of Randy Rhoads and others.
Artimus Pyle is one of the few survivors of the fateful plane crash that killed several members of the famous southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In 1977, a plane carrying Southern rock legends LYNYRD SKYNYRD mysteriously runs out of gas mid-air en route to a concert, crashing into a dangerous Louisiana swamp while killing several of the band members, crew and both pilots. STREET SURVIVORS: The True Story of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash tells the story thru one of the survivors, drummer Artimus Pyle, who not only survived the fatal crash (that claimed the life of the band’s founder and front man Ronnie Van Zant amongst others), but who also bravely pulled the remaining survivors out of the plane wreckage before staggering towards the nearest farmhouse in rural Louisiana to seek help.
Since 2018, there has been a resurgence of music movies: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen), Elton John in Rocketman, Judy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Garland), Yesterday ⭐️⭐️½ (celebrating the iconic music of The Beatles), Blinded By The Light ⭐️½ (fictional story inspired by music of Bruce Springsteen), and more…
For quite some time there has been speculation that legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s health has not been well. He had part of his tongue removed while battling cancer 20 years ago and it seemed like he had the disease in remission.
The band reunited with singer David Lee Roth and used Eddie’s son Wolfgang on bass instead of Michael Anthony and did an arena tour, then released a new album “A Different Kind of Truth” and then another tour and since then … nothing.
Our sources say … Eddie has flown to Germany for 5 years to get radiation treatment, and for the most part it’s worked to keep the disease in check.
David Lee Roth recently had made it sound like Van Halen as we know it is done, and instead working on a Las Vegas residency with his own band. Meanwhile, what’s happening with Eddie? Nobody is talking.
And out comes this news from gossip mongering site TMZ that their “sources” indicate that Eddie Van Halen’s throat cancer has returned and/or never completely went out of remission. Eddie is rumored to be taking plane trips out of the country to get radiation treatments over the past five years.
And then there is video of what appears like medical equipment in the background of a Facebook post leading to even more rumor and speculation. Meanwhile, the Van Halen camp has release no official news. They have always been quiet and only speak to the media when they want to say something.
This is the kind of drama that is either incredibly personally invasive to speak about or, when you’re a band as big as Van Halen, fodder for a movie.
Even without Eddie’s cancer, the Van Halen rock and roll story deserves to be told in a moderate budget film. Why do they have to end the band like Motley Crue did before we can get some kind of music biopic about them?
Here we talk movies, not the rock band rumor mill, BUT the reason this is here is to cover a band that would/will someday make a great movie. Van Halen has all the drama of a script along the lines of Motley Crue, The Dirt that came out on Netflix this year.
Obviously, I hope the rumors are false and/or greatly exaggerated. I grew up with Van Halen and it saddens me to think anybody dying of cancer, including guitar god Eddie. Too many great musicians and bands that were popular during my lifetime are either on their last tour (literally), already gone, or close to hanging it up due to old age and/or health.
Someday we’re going to get a Van Halen movie.
I rewatched on Amazon Prime Video, Van Halen: The Early Years ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – It’s a good start for those who want to learn more about the history of the band. No idea what is going on for certain right now, but hopefully Eddie is OK and the boys will be rocking again soon.