Country Legend Ray Price Dead At 87

Ray_PriceRay Price, star of the 1950s honky tonk music boom, has passed away from pancreatic cancer, a family spokesperson has confirmed.

As one of country music’s early stars, Price helped transition the genre from hillbilly and cowboy music to the more danceable honky tonk variety, and set the stage for the rockabilly and outlaw country waves to come in the ’60s and ’70s. His band, the Cherokee Cowboys, included (at one time or another) future stars Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Buddy Emmons, and Johnny Paycheck. Price had a number of hit singles in the ’50s and through the ’60s (when he transitioned to the more commercial “Nashville sound”), and was the first artist to have a hit with “Release Me” (later a worldwide smash for Engelbert Humperdinck).

Price continued to tour and perform until his illness in 2012, releasing Last of the Breed, with Nelson and Merle Haggard, in 2007.

Enjoy some classic honky tonk and bid farewell to Ray Price.

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Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Celebrate the Weed Laws with Rock's Top 10 Stoners

Sure, there was some kind of election or something last week”at least we think that’s what we heard coming out of the mouths of the TV pundits. Honestly, we kind of stopped paying attention after a while, at least until the news broke about a truly earth-shattering political breakthrough. While the rest of the world was focused on whichever one of those guys with the suits and ties walked away with the prize, we were captivated by a revolutionary piece of legislation that proved to be election night’s biggest surprise: the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Washington and Colorado. While this monumental move has been the dream of stoners all over America for decades, it must be assumed that the passing of what we like to call The Bong Bill will be most widely celebrated in the realm of rock ‘n’ roll. To commemorate the dawning of a new era for uncontrolled substances, let’s look back at some of rock’s most notorious stoners, who are sure to be holding their lighters aloft in honor of these epochal developments.

Black Sabbath

Just for starters, one of their earliest albums introduced the much-covered metal marijuana anthem Sweet Leaf. But beyond that musical love letter to THC, Ozzy Osbourne is one of rock’s most titanic tokers, to the point that he ultimately changed his stance on legalization in recognition of the damage drugs had done to his neurological system. Granted, we’re talking about a lot more than merely pot in Ozzy’s case, but nevertheless, Sabbath are still stoner-rock (more…)

Metal Monday: How To Close A Career The Isis Way

Perhaps one of the touchiest subjects in all of music is the decision of when an artist or band should call it quits and throw in the towel“especially if they’re one of your favorites or an incredibly revered act. Some artists, such as Ella Fitzgerald or Willie Nelson, have the capacity to be great late into their lives; others perhaps not so much (at the risk of offending someone, I’ll let you think of your own here). In some instances, such as the case with Isis, they decide to call it a day before many fans were really ready or it seemed sensible to do so. Many people, including myself, were shocked and a bit saddened by the news that Isis decided to break with a fantastically crafted goodbye letter to everyone via their blog. But this wasn’t actually the end of Isis, not completely anyway.

Not long after their May 18th announcement, Isis announced the dates of their farewell tour, released information about the series of live EPs that would come a year later, and alluded to other plans that would would be announced in the future. Not too long ago now these plans came to fruition when Isis revealed the details for their upcoming collection, Temporal, which will be released on November 6th. This is a collection of rarities, unreleased remixes and each of the band’s music videos“not just a “best of” release.

Sound and Vision: Why Is the World So Obsessed with Lionel Richie Right Now?

Life is full of surprises, and sometimes, so is pop music. In recent weeks, it’s recovered its long-dormant ability to shock, or at least catch us off guard with the unlikely hit, or the unexpected comeback.

Several months ago, I never dreamed I would ever ask the question that is the title of this article. It had been more than twenty-five years since Lionel Richie’s commercial heyday, and on the charts, he had been succeeded by younger romantic leads in pop and R&B many times over (Babyface, Usher, Ne-Yo, among others).

Then came one of those surprise developments seldom seen in pop anymore: On Billboard magazine’s Top 200 album chart for the week following the March 26 release of Tuskegee, Richie’s first studio album since 2009’s Just Go (which didn’t make the US Top 20 and failed to go gold), he debuted at No. 2 with first-week sales of 199,000 copies, right behind Madonna’s latest, MDNA.


Exclusive Q and A: Darryl Worley Gears up for 'One Time Around'

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsDarryl Worley fans are in for a red-hot summer.

Worley’s first album in two years, One Time Around, is slated for June release, the same month he’ll host the three-day BamaJam music extravaganza, and that’s just for starters.

The man behind more than twenty charted hit singles including A Good Day to Run, I Miss My Friend, Have you Forgotten and more took some time from his busy schedule to talk to OurStage about his latest single, his new album and more.

OS: We’ve missed you! Where have you been?

DW: I took a little time off. I have still been touring but I put the whole routine of grinding out one album after another on hold for a while. I have a little four-year-old daughter and I needed to eliminate something from my busy schedule to be a better dad. We toured pretty heavily last year and had a good year, but we’ve been off the radio for almost two years now. I got back in the mood to work on music. I made my own record on my own dime. I had no problem putting a deal together…with complete funding from outside sources.

We have a real determined team of people together that are excited to make this thing work and we’re having a blast working it. Watching it start to grow is a hoot. It’s your baby and people out there are very receptive.


Farewell Chris Ethridge, Musician and Songwriter

Online sources are confirming the loss today of yet another great artist, Chris Ethridge, songwriter, pianist, and bassist with Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, and more. Ethridge is said to have been battling pancreatic cancer.

Flying Burrito Brothers (Chris Ethridge, top right)

In addition to working together during and after their time as members of the enormously influential Flying Burrito Brothers, Ethridge and Parsons also co-wrote the classics Hot Burrito #1 (I’m Your Toy) and She, both of which have been covered over the years by artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Nora Jones, The Pretenders, The Black Crowes, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Ethridge also performed as a session musician with many legendary artists and was reportedly an active member of the Sacramento CA music community. He was 65 years old.

“@willienelson: WN&F are sad to hear of the passing of Family member & friend Chris Ethridge he was a talented musician & we were honored to call him Family”

“@BookerTJones: We knew it was coming – just thankful for his smiling face/loping bass – RIP Chris Ethridge – love to Necia, Karen, Miss Eleanor, John, Zach”


Exclusive Q and A: Lukas Nelson Talks "Wasted"

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsDismiss Lukas Nelson at your own peril.

Sure, he’s the son of Willie Nelson. And yes, he arguably inherited a huge dose of his dad’s voice and talent. But Lukas Nelson is no imitator. He’s proven so by carving his own musical path that started in earnest when he left college, against the wishes of his parents. When they cut him off financially, he raised cash around Venice Beach, California while living in his car or sleeping on friends’ sofas.

Fast forward to today when Nelson and his band Promise of the Real are ready to release their next album Wasted, on April 3, which Nelson wrote last year when he was on the Willie Nelson Country Throwdown Tour.  A lot has changed for Nelson since he penned the songs on the album. Not only has he and his band developed a solid and rapidly growing fan following, but Nelson is sober and engaged in all aspects of music.

He took time out recently to chat with us about his fans, his music and what he hopes listeners realize about this next album.

OS: People always debate if your music is country or rock. What do you think of that discussion?

LN: It’s fine. I think that, at the risk of sounding cliché, putting labels on things takes away from the kind of infinite nature of them. [That’s especially true of] music because it can be interpreted in so many different ways. A lot of times a song that seems very simple can be looked at in many different ways. But basically how people [classify] my music doesn’t affect me at all. That’s the bottom lineI go out and do what I want to do and play what I feel I was meant to play. And I want people to listen, to hear it. However they [define] it is their choice.

OS: The songs on your new album Wasted were all written when you were, literally, wasted. How did you manage to write them when you were in that state?

LN: After everyone was asleep, I’d still be full of energy. I’d go sit in the back of the bus and just write. I’d write what had happened or what was happening then.

OS: Are you the kind of writer who keeps a notebook or jots down different lines or phrases you hear?

LN: I’ve never been much of a record keeper of any sort. I’ve tried to keep journals and things like that and I can’t. I live too much in the moment. I don’t take pictures too often either just for the same reason. If I’m writing down what happened, I’m missing what’s happening now. I just write what I feel. Shoot, it’s not a big process.

OS: You make songwriting sound so simple and we all know it’s not!

LN: (laughing). Well, it’s just the way I was raised, around it all the time. It just comes really naturally.


Stick It To The Man: 'Occupy This Album'

The Occupy Wall Street movement brought back retrospective memories of America’s willingness to protest The Man, and inspired a killer new album! Since 1969, these kinds of movements have always seemed to attract the most premier musicians and artists willing to exercise their rights. Now a global phenomena, it’s about time Occupy Wall Street put out an album to nail it’s legacy into the coffin of history”if it ever becomes history…

Before the forced removal of the movement from Zucccotti Park, Occupy sites were found in over 951 cities and eighty-three countries around the globe. In addition, it raised hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of support and made the presidential candidates at least act like they recognize and sympathize with the 99%. Jason Samuel, a musician and active participant, is working to release Occupy This Album. Due this winter, the album’s goal to benefit the cause by raising between $1 and $2 million. Despite last week’s upset, the money raised will help the movement originally based in Zuccotti Park, as well as the non-profit, Alliance for Global Justice.

Occupy This Album is expected to contain a mixture of live and studio recordings. According to Samuel, the album’s initial release will be digital. Unfortunately for you old-school rebels, the physical CD release date remains unknown. But, with such a talented line up, waiting for the CD version seems crazy”so be impulsive and just grab the digital version. Now, let’s check out who is on the album meant to fight income inequality. Trust me, it’s big.

Occupy This Album‘s Artist Roster:

  • Crosby & Nash
  • Yoko Ono
  • Debbie Harry
  • Devo
  • Willie Nelson
  • Jackson Browne
  • Tom Morello
  • Michael Moore
  • Thievery Corporation
  • Immortal Technique
  • Joan Baez, James McMurtry and Steve Earle
  • Mogwai
  • Warren Haynes
  • DJ Logic
  • Ladytron
  • Lucinda Williams
  • The Guthrie Family
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Toots and the Maytals
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Rain Phoenix
  • Our Lady Peace
  • Aeroplane Pageant
  • Chroma
  • Cosmonaut
  • Global Block
  • Harry Hayward
  • Jay Samel
  • Jennie Arnau
  • Joel Rafael
  • Lloyd Cole
  • Matt Pless
  • Mike + Ruthy
  • Mike Rimbaud
  • My Pet Dragon
  • Mystic Bowie
  • Stephan Said
  • Tao Seeger
  • Taj Weekes
  • Thee Oh Sees
  • Julie B. Bonnie
  • Ace Reporter
  • Black Dragon
  • Joseph Arthur
  • Loudon Wainwright III
  • Danger Field
  • Richard Barone
  • Ronny Elliot
  • Los Cintron
  • The Middle Eight
  • Dylan Chambers
  • Alex Emanuel
  • Junkyard Empire

Drugs, Music And The Media Hype Machine

Substance abuse has been a consistent theme within the world of music, and the media hype that surrounds the artists who get involved with drugs is constant. Bashed hotel rooms, cancelled tours, multiple arrests… the list of tabloid headlines stemming from the topic is limitless. Now, there are very unique relationships between drugs and media in different genres, in the way that artists approach illegal substances and in the coverage that major newspapers and blogs choose to give these incidents. Some try to stay away from the public eye as much as possible, others can’t help but stumble into the limelight. But how does this relationship actually work?

Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll

Not only does the media constantly cover the antics of rock stars, but the musicians themselves seem to go out of their way to remind us of their ridiculous lifestyles. From Iggy Pop‘s bloody paintings to Michael Todd’s arrest after holding up a pharmacy, the self-destructive lifestyle has been well-documented throughout the history of rock music. Many have even written anthems about their preferred method of addiction. Unfortunately, this widespread abuse has led to the untimely passing of many artists who still had many years of creative output ahead of them (see the 27 Club). It comes to no surprise to us that rock music and drugs go hand-in-hand in the press: it’s almost a required vice to be considered a true rock star.


Arrested Development: How Artists Are Affected By Jail Time

There isn’t anything particularly surprising about a musician being arrested on drug charges”after all, artists raging from Willie Nelson to Sly Stone have seen the inside of a courtroom in 2011 following drug-related incidents. What is surprising is the arrest of Coheed and Cambria‘s bassist Michael Todd, who held up an Attelboro, Mass. pharmacy last week and walked away with six bottles of Oxycodone.

Here’s the bad news: serving a prison sentence can sometimes effectively end your career. Just take a look at Mystikal. In 2003 the New Orleans-based rapper was at the peak of his career”Tarantula had been nominated for a best rap album GRAMMY, and he appeared on hits like Ludacris‘ “Move Bitch” and Lil John and the East Side Boyz‘s “I Don’t Give a Fuck.” But that same year he was also indicted on charges of sexual battery and extortion, and sentenced to six years in prison. He was released in January 2010, but no one seems too keen to feature him now.

Luckily for Todd, it isn’t always as bad as all that. After all, aren’t these kinds of antics par for the course for rock stars? Jim Morrison’s legendary status was solidified by separate arrests for attempting to incite a riot (1962) and indecent exposure (1969). And Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ careers certainly didn’t suffer following their 1972 arrests for assault and obstruction of justice. (Of course, those charges were later dropped.) More recently, Lil Wayne served an eight-month prison sentence after being convicted of a gun charge that, if anything, only served to increase his popularity. He stayed in touch with fans through the Web site Weezy Thanx You, and the hashtag #FreeWeezy was a constant reminder on Twitter of his plight. The rapper even phoned in his verse on Drake‘s “Light Up” from prison.

Of course, Todd probably won’t be able to submit his bass parts via prison telephone, so what does all of this mean for him and the rest of Coheed? It’s hard to say, but with two previous convictions for drug possession and operating under the influence he’s been in similar situations before. And while Todd’s future may be uncertain, collectively Coheed and Cambria should be just fine. Wes Styles will be taking over bass duties for the remainder of the group’s tour, and this won’t be the first time they’ve played without Todd”he left in 2006 to complete rehab for a heroin addiction. Coheed explained the situation with a statement on their Web site: “We are surprised, to say the least, and will address the situation with Michael after the tour. For now, we just want to have a great time out here and finish with some killer shows.