Robyn Hitchcock, former frontman of British psych-pop band the Soft Boys and purveyor of his own rich, brilliant, and deeply weird universe of solo songs, turned 60 this March 3. And while Hitchcock was celebrated in London, his friend Colin Meloy, leader of the Decemberists, thought American audiences should get a chance to fete the man as well. So Meloy put together ¡Viva Hitchcock!, a birthday concert tomorrow, Thursday, May 2, at the Fillmore, featuring Rhett Miller (of Old 97's), Amanda Palmer, Lemony Snicket, Meloy, and, of course, Hitchcock himself. Prior to the show, we spoke with Meloy about how Hitchcock influenced Meloy's music, why they chose to do the Hitchcock show in San Francisco, and what to expect at the Fillmore Thursday night.
On this day in 1943, Sylvester Stewart was born in Benton, TX. He was later raised in Vallejo, introduced the Bay Area to soul songs on San Mateo-based radio station KSOL, and helped to put San Francisco on the international music map with his groundbreaking interracial funk group Sly & The Family Stone, which spawned Top 5 hits and millions in record sales for now classic songs like "Dance to the Music," "Hot Fun in the Summertime," and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)."
Happy Birthday, Sly! Wherever you may be.
Today, November 12, is the birthday of one Neil Young, gifted songwriter, whiny singer, killer guitar player, and longtime Bay Area resident. In celebration of the man's 67th, we rounded up some of the best tributes to him available in the wilds of YouTube. Featuring solo pianos, another titan of songwriting, and some moody almost-electronica, here are five great covers to celebrate Neil Young's birthday.
Tupac Shakur would have turned 41 this June 16, and the occasion will be commemorated with two birthday celebrations in San Francisco featuring a number of his former colleagues and friends.
Shakur was part of L.A.'s Death Row Records when he was killed, which helped cement his image of being a part of that notoriously gangster crew. But the time Shakur spent in the Bay Area in his late teens and early twenties were crucial to his development as a thinker, political activist, poet, and musician. They often get rushed over or overlooked altogether in the larger narrative about him.
Metallica, the biggest heavy metal band in the world, turns 30 this December. How old does that make you feel? Considering we were young enough when ...And Justice for All came out to be truly frightened by the "One" video (like, call our mom at work scared), it makes us feel pretty old.
But while getting old generally sucks, that may be different for Metallica. Or at least for the members of its fanclub, who will be privy to a special run of shows at the lovely and intimate Fillmore to celebrate the anniversary.
That's right, you heard us: Metallica is playing the Fillmore.
Yesterday was the 60th Birthday of one Jonathan Richman, protopunk pioneer, genius songwriter, all-around nice guy, and San Francisco resident. In honor of the occasion, we asked another local songwriter -- Sonny Smith of Sonny & the Sunsets -- to comment on the glory, influence, and kidlike humor of Richman. Or just to say a few words about the Massachusetts native, "Roadrunner" singer, and major influence. (One listen to Sonny & the Sunsets' delightfully chilled-out new album, Hit After Hit, and the flavors of Richman are clear.)
Smith is on tour in Norway right now, so it took him a little while to get back to us. Turns out it was worth it: Smith, via e-mail, tells us the story of the first time he heard Jonathan Richman.
We're all fortunate to share an existence with Jonathan Richman, the songwriter/savant/funny guy best known for that song about being in love with Massachusetts and being in love with rock 'n' roll and being in the car with the radio on.
"Roadrunner," it's called. (But he has a bunch of other great songs, too.)
So this Richman guy, who was born in New England but is now a San Francisco-based treasure, turns 60 years old today. And since we love him, and since he's really good at birthdays, we thought we'd return the favor by wishing him a happy one.