Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bigfoot Diaries: The Year in Review 2012


In January of 2012, the inductees for the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced: Tommy Roe, Kephart's Music Center, Endless Summer, Iowa State Fair Teen Town, Mylan Ray, The Chevelles, Night Flight, KFMC Radio - Woody Woodward, Mike Langley, Naomi Senn, Rick Geisler - Big G Enterprises, Nob Hill Ballroom, Shane von Holdt, Rich Casciato, Dewey Leopold, Sandy Manuel, Jim Oatts, Molly Nova, Split Second Band, The Macabras, Dick Cole, The Embers, Rockestra of Sioux City, Bob Yeske, Doris Welle, and KICD Radio.

January 7 Radio Moscow played a show at DG's Taphouse in Ames, Iowa. The show was played despite growing tensions within the band and it escalated to a boiling point during the performance when singer Parker Griggs launched his guitar at Cory Berry as he sat behind the drums. Berry reacted by picking up the Strat and firing it back at Griggs, smashing him in the face. As pandemonium ensued inside the bar Griggs was ushered out and taken to the ER where he took 14 stitches. The entire scene was captured on video which enjoyed heavy airplay on Youtube. It had since been taken down by Griggs, but due to some quick thinking on Berry's part, it was "captured" and re-posted. "I realized it was nowhere to be found so I had to be the one to throw it up again." Said Cory. "I'm just glad the fool can be seen for what he really is." It was the final show for that particular lineup of Radio Moscow: Berry quit the band that night and leaving with him was bassist Zach Anderson. Together they formed Blues Pills, with Swedish musicians Dorian Sorriaux (guitar) and Elin Larsson (vox). Blues Pills found great success touring Europe over the summer.

On January 9, it was announced that Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi had been diagnosed with lymphoma. However, the band stated that they would continue to record their new album.

Iowa City's The Mad Monks celebrated 5 years of playing together with a concert at Gabe's on January 14

On January 16 after spending 16 years with Anvil, bassist Glen Five (real name: Glenn Gyorffy) tells the media that he has quit the band to "broaden (his) horizons". He hasn't been heard from since.

Glen Five of Anvil (Photo by Jim Hackett)

On January 17th, we lost the "Godfather of Rhythm and Blues," Johnny Otis. In 1951 Otis discovered Etta James and co-wrote her first hit, "Roll With Me, Henry." He produced, co-wrote and played drums on the first recording of "Hound Dog" in '53 with  Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and Big Mama Thornton. He was an innovator in the movement of jazz and swing to the early stages of rock and roll, and he wrote and co-wrote many hits that are famous today, including "Every Beat of My Heart" and "Willie and the Hand Jive."  In 1994 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a song writer and a producer. He was 90 years old when he died.

We lost the aforementioned Etta James just three days later on January 20th to a battle with Leukemia. James - Like Johnny Otis - is also credited with having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. Also in 2001 she was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. When she died on January 20th, she was 73.

On January 30, Des Moines own Dangerous Music Incorporated released it's first "official" music video. Caustic Vision was the featured band and the song chosen for the video was "Fake."  It was filmed in segments which switched from a "live" performance in a corn field to a performance that was filmed in Des Moines when the band opened for Mushroomhead. It was yet another level of success for Greg Waldrop and the others involved with Dangerous Music Inc. As of press time the video has received over 2700 hits.


On February 3rd due to conflicts in contract negotiations, Bill Ward threatened to quit Black Sabbath. He followed through with this threat and refused to join the band on the 2012 Lollapalooza tour later in the summer.

Also on February 3 the Bigfoot Diaries published an interview with Sonny Curtis. This rare interview was done in correlation with Buddy Holly's death on the same date in 1959. Curtis was a boyhood friend of Holly's and played guitar in the Crickets. He was also a pallbearer at Holly's funeral.

On February 6, 2012 Country singer Randy Travis was arrested for public intoxication while sitting in his car outside a church in Sanger, Texas. He paid a fine and was placed on a 90-day probation. It would be the first in a series of  run-ins with the law for Travis in 2012, all involving alcohol.

2012 proved to be a rough year for Randy Travis. 

On February 8, Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth, performed what they called a  "friends and family dress rehearsal" at the L.A. Forum in Inglewood, California. The concert featured many VH classics as well as a few new songs from their latest release, "A Different Kind Of Truth", which was officially released in the United States the day before. After the concert the band announced plans for a national tour, which not surprisingly, was halted in May about halfway through the tour schedule. Fatigue from constant recording and touring was given as the official reason for the band's tour hiatus, but the dates that got postponed were eventually cancelled. "A Different Kind of Truth" proved to be commercially successful selling almost 200,000 copies in the first 6 days of it's release in the United States.

Whitney Houston died on February 11. She was found in a Los Angeles hotel room late in the afternoon after she was a no-show for a Grammy Awards pre-party. It was later revealed that she had cocaine in her system, but her official cause of death was listed as heart disease and drowning. This amazingly talented singer was only 48.

On February 12th, Glen Campbell sang "Rhinestone Cowboy" as a goodbye to a national audience at the 2012 Grammy Awards. Having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease 6 months earlier, he then announced  plans for a national farewell tour.

Michael Davis, who played bass for the MC5 died of liver failure on February 17. He joined the band in 1964, replacing Pat Burrows. Singer Rob Tyner and guitarist Wayne Kramer liked Davis' style better than Burrows and Davis played on the MC5's debut album, Kick out the Jams which was released in 1969, and two albums afterward. He left the band in 1972, but was reunited with Kramer a few years later when he did a stint in Lexington, Kentucky's Federal Prison where he was serving time for a drug charge. (Kramer was in for cocaine distribution.)

Michael Davis of the MC5 (RIP) 

On February 29 Davy Jones died of a heart attack. This former Monkee and Brady Bunch star had been riding horses on his farm in Indiantown, Florida when he was overcome with chest pains and difficulty in breathing. He was rushed to Martin Memorial South Hospital in Stuart, Florida, where he was pronounced dead by doctors. He was 66 years old.

Also on February 29th punk rock royalty made a stop in Des Moines when Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols), Hugh Cornwell (The Stranglers), and Clem Burke (Blondie) played the Gas Lamp.

Hugh Cornwell of the Stranglers and Clemm Burke of Blondie
at the Gas Lamp in Des Moines

On February 29 Branson, Missouri, a city famous for its country music-oriented tourist attractions, sustained damage from the now infamous Leap Day tornado outbreak. Three of Branson’s 50 plus theaters were extensively damaged during the storms (The Americana Theater, the Branson Variety Theater and Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater). The convention center, which is located downtown also endured damage from the storm.


In Early March Des Moines local band DDR! basically pulled the plug on itself. The band never really got off the ground, despite gaining a respectable fan base and playing it's share of shows in Des Moines and on the road. "You see how far a man's drive will take him on the road." Explained the band's vocalist, Hoby Gatson Jr. "DDR! was good for a few weekend getaways. But according to other former members, it was running out if gas when they picked me up. A finished album would have been nice. Oh fuckin' well. Can't live in the past."

March 2 Some in the Bigfoot Diaries crew invaded Iowa City to check out White Mystery at Gabe's. We were granted an interview which went off without a hitch for the most part, despite copious amounts of alcohol being consumed by all involved.

Alex White of White Mystery in Iowa City
(Photo and mixology by CVEckian)

Ronnie Montrose died on March 3 due to self inflicted gunshot wound. While this iconic rocker did not leave a suicide note, he did text his wife Leighsa before his death telling her what he was about to do. She rushed home to where he was and found his lifeless body on the living  room floor. He apparently had been suffering from severe depression and battled bouts of self-worth. In a text to his wife before he pulled the trigger he told her, "I love you beyond measure." He was only 64 years old.

Rudi Protrudi
March 8 Shep published a rare interview with Rudi Protrudi of the Fuzztones. It really doesn't get much cooler than that... and especially the story Rudi tells Dave about how he found Screamin' Jay Hawkins playing in a low-rent rib joint in New York City: "I was walking around the Lower East Side (Greenwich Village, NYC) one night in '84, and saw a black and white xeroxed handbill tacked onto a telephone pole." Protrudi told Shep. "It  was advertising Screamin' Jay playing at a little rib joint up the block. I couldn't believe that he would play a place like that, so I had to go just to see if it was true. He was sitting at a piano, alone, no band, dressed in a suit and tie, and playing old R&B standards. Not even his own stuff. The audience was about 30 yuppies, sitting around eating ribs and drinking beer. They didn't even know who he was, and weren't even paying attention to him. The old guy who ran the place kept coming up to Jay, in mid-song, telling him what to play, what not to play, or to make announcements, like "there's a special on draft beer for the next five minutes," shit like that. Horrible. I approached him during the breaks, and got to know him over the course of his three night stand there. He was obviously down on his luck at the time and I wanted to help him out, so I hooked him up with Midnight Records, the label we were on."

March 15 the Bigfoot Diaries were proud to announce that they have brought artist Robert Patton on board as a editorial cartoonist. We are extremely fortunate to have Mr. Patton with us, and honestly, I still have to pinch myself every time he sends a cartoon to my inbox.

Des Moines party band Superchief kicked off St Patty's Day in style by traveling to Austin, Texas and playing the SXSW Music Festival. On Friday night, March 17 they played the Grackle and on Saturday the 18th, they played the South Austin Brewing Company. Haldor Von Hammer, the band's  eccentric front man, said that playing the Grackle was the highlight."We made some new friends and had a blast the whole time." He said.

Iron Maiden released it's 10th live album: En Vivo! on March 23rd. When most bands don't even release ten albums, Iron Maiden released their tenth LIVE recording. Eddie is proud.

March 24-25 The Maw returned to Skyline Audio Studios to record their new EP, Shark Attack. It's the first recording they've done with drummer Justin Bristow on board, and it's the first time they've worked in the studio since they recorded their previous EP, 1937. Shark Attack remains unreleased at this point.

Earl Scruggs
Earl Scruggs died peacefully on March 28 of natural causes. This Bluegrass legend was 88 years old, and his funeral was held at the Ryman Theater, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry. Scruggs was as big a name as you will find in country music, and his influence is basically anywhere you hear a banjo being played. In 1945, after being hired by Bill Monroe to handle the banjo chores in Monroe's group, The Blue Grass Boys, Earl Scruggs single handedy started a country music revolution. He would become a master of the three finger picking style (which would eventually take on Scrugg's namesake). In 1948 he and Lester Flat would leave the Blue Grass Boys and form The Foggy Mountain Boys, which would later become simply known as Flatt and Scruggs. It was in this band that such classics as "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" were written. At Scruggs' 80th birthday party in 2004, country singing legend Porter Wagoner remarked, “Earl was to the five-string banjo what Babe Ruth was to baseball. He is the best there ever was and the best there ever will be.”


On April 5th Jim Marshall, president and founder of Marshall Amplification died at a hospice in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Known as the Lord of Loud, he was a pioneer in the development of guitar amps. Marshall is referred to as one of the four forefathers of rock music equipment along with Les Paul, Leo Fender and Seth Lover. 89 years old when he died, he was given tributes from such artists as Slash, Dave Mustaine, and Paul McCartney.
Richie Teeter

On April 10 Richie Teeter, former drummer for The Dictators and Twisted Sister passed away. He joined the Dictators in 1976 and played on two albums, 'Manifest Destiny' and 'Blood Brothers' before departing from the group in 1979. He continued to play with the Dictators off and on for several years. He followed Mark Mendoza (also of the Dictators) to play in Twisted Sister briefly during the '80s but never played on any of the band's recordings. Complications stemming from his battle with esophageal cancer was listed as the official cause of his death. He was 61 years old.

Glen Campbell played at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in Ames on April 15.It was one of many stops on The Goodbye Tour, which showcased the legendary performer's life in song while bringing awareness to the debilitating disease which is eating his brain. Having suffered from memory loss for several years, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January of 2011. Campbell added humor to his repertoire of songs that dated back to the '60s, and most of the humor came at his own expense. "I probably know 100 jokes but I can't remember any of them." he said, jokingly. His guitar playing was superb, and while he did forget the lyrics a couple of times throughout the evening, his voice was spot on.

Glen Campbell in Ames (Photo by the Bigfoot Diaries)
Click to enlarge
On April 18 Dick Clark died of a heart attack following surgery to fix an enlarged prostate. This television icon hosted the longest running variety show, American Bandstand from 1957-1987. This show served a s a stepping stone for many bands, offering them their first exposure to national audiences. These acts included Smokey Robinson, Ike and Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and Simon and Garfunkel, to name a few. He was also a radio show host, a game show host, and celebrated the New Year with millions with his New Year's Rockin' Eve, which was broadcast on television throughout the world. After his death his family declared that there would be no funeral. On April 20th he was cremated and his ashed were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. Motown founder Berry Gordy said this of Dick Clark regarding the recording industry: "Dick was always there for me and Motown, even before there was a Motown. He was an entrepreneur, a visionary and a major force in changing pop culture and ultimately influencing integration."

The great Levon Helm died on April 19 after a long battle with cancer. A young Lavon (as he was christened) first learned to play the guitar at the age of 8, and later picked up the drums. It was after seeing a live performance by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys that it occurred to him that he wanted to become a professional musician. In high school he assembled his first band, The Jungle Bush Beaters. At age 17 he started to play clubs and bars around Helena, Arkansas. About this time he was "discovered" by Rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins, who invited him to play in his band, The Hawks. As a band, they moved to Ontario where they signed with Roulette Records. In the mid '60s Bob Dylan decided that he wanted to form an electric rock band, and asked the Hawks to be his backing band. Helm agreed, but due to the backlash of fans who were disappointed with Dylan's new sound, Helm quit the band and went back to Arkansas to work in the coal mine. He rejoined two years later and the Hawks simplified their name to The Band. They were no longer affiliated with Roulette Records, instead having signed a contract with Capitol. This was an intentional arrangement that allowed the band to make recordings on other labels if they desired, as long as the work was done in support of Dylan. The Band went on to become one of the pinnacles of the Americana genre. 

Levon Helm 
Helm also embarked on a small acting career, playing Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter, and Jack Ridley in The Right Stuff. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions in Cleveland Fellow Band member Robbie Robertson sent "love and prayers" to Helm, speculating that Helm was in declining health. On April 17th, Helm's wife Sandy and daughter Amy revealed that the musician had end-stage cancer. Surrounded by friends and family, Levon Helm died on April 19th at 1:30 PM at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The following day he was buried in the Woodstock Cemetery, within sight distance of the grave of his friend and fellow band member Rick Danko. Levon Helm's legacy will live forever. 

Johnny Reeferseed and the High Rollers played a reunion show at the Hull on April 20. The band had broken up the year before, and there were rumors that it was permanent. With the formation of Stuttrin' Jimmy and the Goosebumps from the previous November, The High Rollers basically became a thing of the past. Johnny Reeferseed himself had formed a new band - The Reeferseed Express - and every indication was that we had seen our last performance by Des Moines' favorite party band. That being said, it should have come as no surprise that they reunited for a show on 4/20. What a show it was. I've said it before and I'll say it again: On any given night, Johnny Reeferseed and the High Rollers are potentially the greatest rock and roll band in the world. They opened with the east side anthem, "Fight Fuck and Drink" and steamrolled through their set like they had never stopped rehearsing. It was truly one of the great shows of the year that brought some of the highest energy this town has seen in a long time.

Johnny Reeferseed and the High Rollers on 4/20. 

April 21 Local metal act September released their debut CD, "The Beginning of the End of All Things Beautiful." Nobody knew at the time just how prophetic that title would actually be. 


On May 4 Adam "MCA" Yauch  of the Beastie Boys died after a three year battle with salivary cancer. His death sent shock waves throughout the music world, as Yauch was a pioneer of a genre that predates rock/crossover/rap. When he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009, he said publicly that his condition was "very treatable." Yauch made some lifestyle changes, including taking on a vegan diet and he underwent radiation therapy along with surgery to remove the cancer from his lymph node. Unfortunately his case worsened despite his careful lifestyle and slowly his health deteriorated to a point where there was no hope for recovery. In his last will and testament he left specific instructions that his music could not be used for advertising purposes.

Local Des Moines metal band Caustic Vision played their last show on May 4th opening for Mushroomhead at Peoples on Court. Details of their break up were really never made public, but singer Mickie Witcraft told me, "I just needed to take a step back from everything and when I did that our bass player quit and did his own thing...Its really hard to keep a band going when not everyone is into it." Caustic Vision was one of the first local bands that the Bigfoot Diaries covered, and their live shows were always entertaining.  They handled business in a professional manner and never let the fame they achieved go to their heads, despite building a very strong following.  "I think me, Nate and Brandon will eventually get Caustic Vision back together for a few shows in the future." Mickie added. "We had a really good thing going, it just sucks that shit played out the way it did."

Bass player Donald "Duck" Dunn  died in his sleep the morning of May 13 after playing a double show in Tokyo with blues/rock guitarist Steve Cropper. Cropper, who had been playing with Dunn since the '60s, immediately posted on his website: 

"Today I lost my best friend, the world has lost the best guy and the best bass player to ever live." 

While perhaps being most famous for playing with Booker T. and the M.G.'s and the Blues Brothers, Dunn was also a sought after session player who recorded with the likes of Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Steely Dan, Isaac Hayes, Levon Helm, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, Rod Stewart, and Bob Dylan. When Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty recorded "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" it was Dunn who played bass on the recording.

Donald "Duck" Dunn 
Dunn first played with Cropper in Booker T. and the M.G.'s in the '60s, and then in the '70s with the Blues Brothers. As a member of the latter, Dunn was once quoted as saying, "We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline!" The Blues Brothers, while short lived were one of the tightest bands to ever play on a stage. Donald "Duck" Dunn was a rock and roll legend who's absence will be noticed. He won a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2007 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Disco legend Donna Summer died three days later on May 17 of lung cancer. As a non-smoker, she attributed her disease to breathing toxic ash in the days following the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001. She was a '70s sex symbol, and her music was a testament to an era as much as it was to the genre of disco. Her album Bad Girls was released in 1979 and it pushed her into super stardom. "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" each reached #1 on the Billboard Charts as singles, and "Dim All the Lights" peaked at #2. The album's concept was based on prostitution, and Summer even dressed like a hooker for the cover photo. Of course this didn't hurt record sales, and Bad Girls, hitting #1 on the Billboard 200, was nominated for record of the year. Summer herself won a Grammy for Female Vocalist of the Year in '79, and was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Her next release, On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volume I and II also reached number one.

Another disco icon, Robin Gibb died on May 20 of liver and kidney failure. Long before the Bee Gees were a success in the United States, they were extremely successful in Australia and the United Kingdom. In the '60s the Brothers Gibb were more of an R&B group, who recorded with the likes of Graham Bonnet (Rainbow), and Mick Taylor  of the Rolling Stones. Commercially the Bee Gees hit the jackpot when they released the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977. They became overnight sensations, sold millions of records, and solidified their place in rock and roll's heritage. Their line of hits is endless and many of the songs that they wrote were made famous by other singers who performed them. "Islands in the Stream" (Kenny Rogers) and "To Love Somebody" (Otis Redding) are a couple of examples. Other musicians who have recorded songs written by the Bee Gees include Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Billy Corgan, Faith No More, Elton John, The Flaming Lips, and Percy Sledge to name a few. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and their citation is emblazoned with "Only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees." After Robin's death the Bee Gees officially retired their name a second time (The first was after brother Maurice died in 2003). Barry Gibb remains the only brother to remain surviving.

On May 24, The Bigfoot Diaries' crew along with Richard Way made the trek to Pryor, Oklahoma to attend the Rocklahoma Festival. It was four days and three nights of rock and roll (including access to the VIP tents) which involved hours and hours of soaking up the Oklahoma sun, networking with bands and music personnel, watching live performances on four stages, and drinking free beer. Highlights differed from the three of us who attended, but in my opinion some of  the best acts included Scattered Hamlet, Trivium, Rob Zombie, Chickenfoot, Baron Von Swagger, Slash, Dagger, and Megadeth. One note of interest was that there was obvious friction within the band members when Queensrÿche  played the main stage on Sunday night. Singer Geoff Tate was involved in a physical altercation with band members while touring in South America several weeks earlier, and their differences were never settled. Tate lashed out to the Rocklahoma audience for being too quiet saying "You guys suck!" Many in the crowd booed and hissed, and it was easy to see that the rest of the band was completely frustrated by Tate's actions. Our own tech guru Cveckian turned to me and said, "I think we just saw Queensrÿche's last show." As far as I know, he was right. Tate was fired from the band just three weeks later.

Rich Way enjoys a taste of Scott's whiskey at Rocklahoma.
(Scott Allan plays guitar for Dagger, a metal band based out of Arizona.)
Arthel "Doc" Watson died on May 29 after complications with colon surgery. This guitarist best known for his flat picking style was a mainstay in the bluegrass, folk and country music world for most of his life. After suffering an eye infection before his first birthday, he became legally blind. It didn't limit his success as a guitarist, however and he went on to win eight grammys in his distinguished career. He played predominantly with his son Merle up until Merle's death in 1985. He went on to found Merlefest, an annual event that takes place every April in Wilkesboro, North Carolina in honor of his son's name. It's a festival that's dedicated to the old time stylings of folk, country and bluegrass music, and is annually attended by 70,000 people. In 2000 Doc was inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he was given an honoree doctorate of music degree by the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Doc Watson
After a fall in his home in late May he was rushed to the hospital in Boone, North Carolina where doctors determined that an underlying medical condition prompted surgery to his colon. He was airlifted to a hospital in Winston-Salem and when he awoke from his operation in critical condition, he never fully recovered. He was 89 years old when he passed away.

On May 29 Aaron Freeman announced that Ween had broken up saying, "It's been a long time, 25 years. It was a good run." This came as a surprise to founding member Mickey Melchiondo, who insisted on his Facebook page that the band was still together and would be as long as he and Aaron were still alive. "(Ween) is a life sentence." He proclaimed. Freeman, who had become an alcoholic and a drug addict retained his position saying that he had to leave Ween to stay sober."All that matters to me is that I’m getting sober." He said. "Becoming an out of control drug addict and alcoholic is my own fault and I take responsibility for it. I HAD to leave the Ween organization." At this point is remains unclear what the future holds for Ween.

The Platters - Herb Reed is at far right.

Herb Reed, the last living original member of the Platters died on June 4 in Boston of heart disease. He was a founding member of the group and was given exclusive rights to the band's name. He was the only member of the group who sang on all of the songs recorded by the group (approximately 400) including such hits as "The Great Pretender," "My Prayer," and "Twilight Time." He toured rigorously throughout his career right up until 2012 when his health diminished to a point where travelling became impossible. He died in a Hospice at the age of 83.

Science Fiction author Ray Bradbury died on June 5 in Los Angeles at the age of 91. He is a cult hero to science fiction and literature buffs alike, and his books are highly regarded as some of the most prolific ever written. President Obama made a statement after his death, saying, "For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury's death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends." In terms of literature, Ray Bradbury is one of the giants.

On June 5th Neil Young released a new album with Crazy Horse,
Their first collaboration together since 2003. 

Also on June 5th, Neil Young and Crazy Horse released Americana, the first record they put out as a unit since 2003's Greendale. The unconventional album features songs from America's heritage, such as "Oh Susannah," "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and "This Land is Your Land." In an interview with American Songwriter, Neil Young said, "Every one of these songs  has verses that have been ignored. And those are the key verses, those are the things that make these songs live. They’re a little heavy for kindergartner to be singing. The originals are much darker, there’s more protest in them — the other verses in "This Land is Your Land" are very timely, or in "Clementine," the verses are so dark. Almost every one has to do with people getting killed, with life-or-death struggles. You don’t hear much about that; they’ve been made into something much more light. So I moved them away from that gentler interpretation. With new melodies and arrangements, we could use the folk process to invoke the original meanings for this generation."

Bob Welch

On June 7 former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (His death came only 6 months after the death of Fleetwood Mac band mate Bob Weston.) He also enjoyed a successful solo career, having penned such hits as "Ebony Eyes" and "Sentimental Lady." His tenure with Fleetwood Mac ended with controversy, as he was left out of the Hall of Fame proceedings when the band was inducted in 1998. Welch believed that it had to do with a lawsuit he filed in 1994, in which he sued Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, band attorney Michael Shapiro and Warner Bros. Records for breach of contract related to underpayment of royalties. He felt he was being snubbed by the Hall of Fame committee at Fleetwood's request, despite settling the lawsuit in 1996. Being snubbed was a difficult reality for Welch to accept. Despite playing on five albums with the band, his name wasn't included on the Hall of Fame roster. "Mick Fleetwood dedicated a whole chapter of his biography to my era of the band and credited me with 'saving Fleetwood Mac.'" He told a Cleveland newspaper. "Now they want to write me out of the history of the group. It hurts." 

Three months prior to his death, he suffered a spinal injury that doctors said would not heal. After writing a nine page love letter to his wife Wendy explaining that he wouldn't want her to have to deal with his constant misery and be forced to take care of an invalid, he shot himself in the chest, killing himself instantly. He was 66 years old.

Rush released Clockwork Angels on June 12, their first album in 5 years. It debuted at #1 on the Canadian Charts and hit #2 in the United States.

On June 17th, a Father's Day celebration turned tragic when local musician Kelly Starrett died in a boating accident on the Des Moines River. Mr. Starrett had recently become a grandfather and was a friend of many in the local music scene.

On June 20, Queensrÿche announced that they had fired singer Geoff Tate, and were replacing him with Crimson Glory vocalist Todd La Torre. Soon after, Tate and his wife Susan (who served as the band's manager) filed a lawsuit in a Washington state court stating that he was wrongfully terminated from the group. They also filed a preliminary injunction against the band in an attempt to prevent either side from using the band's name until the lawsuit became settled. However, this was over-ruled by the judge who proclaimed that both parties could use the name Queensrÿche during this period.

Singer Geoff Tate was fired by Queensryche,
and in retaliation, formed Queensryche. 

On June 23 The Bigfoot Diaries interviewed the Steep Canyon Rangers in their tour bus as it sat parked outside the Des Moines Civic Center. That night the 2735 seat capacity theater was sold out as they took the stage accompanied by banjo virtuoso and comedian Steve Martin. It was truly an amazing night of music and comedy.

On June 27 Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe was arrested by Czech Police for manslaughter in Prague, Czech Republic. It was in reference to an incident that had happened in 2010 when a fan had climbed up onto the stage and Blythe allegedly threw him off. The fan, Daniel Nosek, hit his head during the fall and received massive brain trauma. He slipped into a coma from which he never recovered and died a few weeks later. Blythe and his band maintained his innocence, and didn't realize that a Czech swat team would be waiting for him at the airport when they landed in Prague to play a concert there on June 28 of this year. (That concert was subsequently cancelled.) The band's publicists maintains that Blythe has been wrongfully accused. Though he posted bail, he was ordered to remain in jail because the judge deemed him a "flight risk." He was incarcerated longer than expected (he wouldn't be released until August 3) and  Lamb of God's tour with Dethklok and Gojira was cancelled.


On July 13, the Bigfoot Diaries recorded it's 100,000th hit, in only our third year of existence. While I do not have the technological devices to determine exactly where that hit came from, I would like to say that all of us here appreciate your "patronage" (ALL of you) and look forward to growing even bigger in 2013. Seriously... From the bottom of our enlarged hearts, THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH.

Lord of the keys: The great Jon Lord

On July 16 we lost one of rock and roll's greatest keyboardists in Jon Lord. He died in London of a blocked artery to his lung. This incredible musician most notably played for Deep Purple but also played with Whitesnake and alongside Ian Paice and Tony Ashton in Paice, Ashton & Lord. He was a session musician in the early '60s and played the keys on The Kinks' 1964 recording of "You Really Got Me." Regarded by many to be the best in the business, Jon Lord co-founded Deep Purple with Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice in 1967 where his keyboard style can be heard on such Purple classics as "Space Truckin" "Lazy" and "Anyone's Daughter." In a tribute to his legacy the British newspaper National Turk stated, "Every kid who gets a guitar quickly learns to bat out the guitar riffs of "Smoke on the Water". But listeners should be just as aware of the fat, satisfying chords of Jon Lord’s organ, a force which gave Blackmore’s iconic chords their ideal answer."

On July 28, John Fallon (formerly of the Steppes) and Rich Coffee (formerly of the Gizmos) played their first gig with Atomic Cossack in Las Vegas with Cromm Fallon (Acton Town) and Chris Glaser. This Mod flavored band is a delightful taste of the psychedelic '60s, incorporating the likeness of the "Get Smart" television soundtracks to that of the early James Bond movies. On their Facebook page they describe their sound as, "Hip, loud, blasting Rickenbacker flashes...deep droning melodic freakout fun...with class!" Though they haven't embarked on a  tour of the midwest yet, we can only hope they will in 2013.

Atomic Cossack  L-R: Chris Glaser, John Fallon, Cromm Fallon, Rich Coffee

July 31: After meeting with a Rastafarian priest in Jamaica, Snoop Dogg officially changed his name to Snoop Lion. Yep... Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


On August 3 Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe was released from a Czech prison after being incarcerated for 5 weeks. It seems that his legal woes are far from over.

Songwriting legend Kris Kristofferson played the Hoyt Sherman Theater in Des Moines on August 3rd. Equipped only with his acoustic guitar and a handful of harmonicas, he played songs from his entire career in two one-hour sets.While he did occasionally have quaint missteps; once even with the right  choice of harmonica ("Oops that's the wrong key," he said), other times he came across as brilliant.

Kris Kristofferson at the Hoyt Sherman Theater
(Photo by Sarah Cartwright)

On August 5th, Anthrax's song "Got The Time" became the first heavy metal song to be played on the planet Mars. The song was one of several songs on NASA's wake-up playlist for the Mars Rover, Curiosity, that touched down on the Red Planet on that date.

The Briar Patch in Bevington started hosting shows again on August 24 after taking a hiatus in 2011. The weekend went off without a hitch, despite owner Bob Rice working frantically right up to show time to make sure the final preparations were made. In true Briar Patch fashion, it rained Saturday night despite falling on the heels of one of the biggest droughts Iowa has suffered through in years. The acts were as follows:

Friday August 24:

The Dark Royals

The High Roller Express
Dave Zollo and the Body Electric

Saturday August 25

Public Property

Mighty Shady
Aquamarine Dream Machine
Cirrus Minor
The High Crest performed between sets.

(This event marked drummer Richard Way's final gig with ADM. He left the band to pursue other musical interests.)

Aquamarine Dream Machine plays the Briar Patch as fans rejoice.

On August 7, 2012, police in Grayson County, Texas responded to a call that a man was lying naked in the road. When they arrived, they found singer Randy Travis naked and smelling of alcohol. Police say that Travis crashed his car in a construction zone, and that when they attempted to apprehend him, Travis resisted and threatened the lives of the officers. The country music star was subsequently arrested for driving while intoxicated and retaliation against law enforcement officials. Earlier in the same evening, just prior to the DUI arrest, Travis allegedly walked into a Tiger Mart convenience store naked, demanded cigarettes from the clerk, who in turn called the police. According to the cashier, Travis didn't have money to pay for the cigarettes and left the store empty handed. After his arrest, he was able to post bail in the amount of $21,500.

On August 11 Greg Waldrop of Dangerous Music Inc. kicked off a new project, his Beyond the Stage series. The first band to be featured on this great project was Des Moines' own bubblegum punk rockers, North of Grand. DMI has been a fixture in the local scene for several years now, capturing photographs and video of local  bands, often propelling them to a larger, more diverse audience. It seems a natural progression that Greg started Beyond the Stage. In it, he documents a more intimate portrayal of the bands he is featuring, with exclusive live footage and a unique sit-down session where the band actually interviews itself. It reveals a side of the band one might not get from attending a live show. Des Moines' scene is extremely lucky to have this project, and kudos to Greg for launching it. It's an absolute honor to have been asked to be a part of it.

On August 12 Mr. Clean is introduced as the newest writer for the Bigfoot Diaries. His intimate, vast knowledge of music is an asset to the staff, and he brings  a rare element to the reviews he writes. His knowledge of '80s style hair bands is unmatched by anybody else I know, and as a musician himself he is able to tap into the genre with a perspective not common with other writers. He is also up to date with what's happening currently, so this even broadens his perspective. He is honest and sincere in his articles, and breaks down each review he writes with clarity. While he's only submitted a couple of articles in 2012, we look forward to what he produces in 2013.

Mr. Clean
On August 13 Andy Shernoff released his Don't Fade Away ep. Like everything else this alchemist touches, it's sonic gold. 

Also on August 13 the Bigfoot Diaries published an extremely rare interview with the Russell Quan, drummer for the Mummies. Hailing from San Mateo, California The Mummies are the inventors and promoters of a genre they call budget rock, "which rejects professionalism and star status in favor of a simplified do-it-yourself aesthetic." They, along with The Phantom Surfers created San Mateo's bustling garage-punk scene. The Mummies and are known for their legendary stage performances and slaptick attitudes, and they dress in tattered rags to resemble a mummy-like appearance. Their "tour bus" is a 1965 Pontiac ambulance, ghoulishly spray painted with the words THE MUMMIES on it. The legendary Billy Childish once declared that The Mummies were the only garage group he really loved.

When the Mummies play a gig, they show up in style. 
Randy Travis' fall from grace continued on August 24. Police in Plano, Texas cited him for simple assault after responding to an early morning call stating that two men were fighting outside a church. Both were given medical attention following the incident, with one witness stating that Travis appeared to be "extremely intoxicated".

The next day on August 25, a pickup truck registered to Travis was found wrecked and abandoned in a field in nearby Frisco, Texas.


On September 1, Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell joined The National and President Barack Obama at Living History Farms in Des Moines for a campaign rally in front of 10,000 people.  After a few speeches, Chris Cornell took the stage with a set that mixed Audioslave and Temple of the Dog songs with a number of apt covers, including "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding" and "Imagine."

Chris Cornell plays at Living History Farms in support of Barack Obama

Also on September 1, Geoff Tate announced his own Queensrÿche lineup featuring Rudy Sarzo, Bobby Blotzer, Glen Drover (who has since left the band), Kelly Gray and Randy Gane. Now there are two bands using Queensrÿche as it's name, the original, with Todd La Torre on vocals, and Geoff Tate's version. Tate has announced that on April 6, 2013 his version of the band will begin a new tour dubbing it the "Operation: Mindcrime Anniversary Tour."

Bob Dylan released Tempest on September 10, his first release since 2009. 

Also on September 10th, the Bigfoot Diaries introduced it's newest contributor, Samantha Lee Thomas, formerly of Des Moines, now living in South Korea. She is a former intern of Keith Jones who directed the Punk in Africa documentary, and therefore has been given a unique view of the South African punk movement. She has conducted several interviews with heavyweights in that scene, including Michael Flek of Wild Youth, George Bacon of Hog Hoggity Hog, Deon Maas, who also directed the documentary and Keith Jones of course. We are excited to have Samantha on board and look forward to what she produces in 2013.

Samantha Lee Thomas

September 14 North of Grand released their fifth CD, Farewell to Rockets with a concert at the Gas Lamp. It is their first CD under the Brolester label, and it's been a constant in my rotation since I got a copy.

On September 29, the Foo Fighters performed at the Global Citizens' Festival in Central Park in New York City. During the performance Dave Grohl hinted that the Foo Fighters might be taking  a hiatus. Grohl said, "We don't know when we're gonna be able to do this again."

September 29 Heatbox, D. Bess, Floodplane played the Briar Patch. It marked the ending of the season and the beginning of a new era for Central Iowa's coolest little music adventure spot. Much love and respect to my friend Bob Rice for making this place happen.


On October 2, 2012, Dave Grohl confirmed via their website that Foo Fighters would indeed be taking a break.

On October 6, the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame announced it's 2012 inductees. The musicians include Bob Pace, Scott Cochran, BillyLee Janey, Gary Gibson, and Jim DeKoster.

Hall of Famer Scott Cochran (photo by Rebecca Swanger)

October 18 brought Bruce Springsteen to Ames along with President Obama for a campaign stop mini-concert. He played five songs: No SurrenderThe Promised LandForwardThe River, and Thunder Road.

American songwriter Bill Dees died on October 24 in a nursing home in Mountain Home, Arkansas. He was most famous for his collaboration with the late great Roy Orbison, for whom he wrote many songs. Most notably he wrote "Oh Pretty Woman" and "It's Over" and the entire soundtrack to the motion picture The Fastest Guitar Alive. He also wrote songs that were performed by Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Skeeter Davis and Glen Campbell. He is said to have died of natural causes.

On October 30 Neil Young and Crazy Horse released Psychedelic Pill. It was the first time the band had collaborated together since 2003's release of Greendale.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's Psychedelic Pill


November 1 Aquamarine Dream Machine played on KCWI's TV program, Good Morning with Lou and Heather. It was the first time that they played in front of an audience with new drummer Nik Charikov. Three days later on November 4 they absolutely tore the roof off of el Bait Shop in downtown Des Moines. Bass player Justin Kurtz told me, "We have been making some great song writing progress. We have three pretty "out of the box" new songs complete and three others that we are still mapping out. We are pretty stoked!"

On November 3 Greg Waldrop of Dangerous Music Inc. met with The Maw at the House of Bricks to record his 2nd installment of his Beyond the Stage series. Once again he allowed the Bigfoot Diaries to help out. The product is finished except for the audio which is still being edited. Look for it in early 2013. 

The Maw being interviewed by Greg Waldrop
(The Maw, from l-r: Justin Bristow, Forrest Lonefight, Erik Brown, and Joe Antlelman)

Bruce Springsteen once again came to central Iowa in support of President Obama, but this time in Des Moines on November 5th, the day before the national election. During this "stop" he only played four songs:   No SurrenderThe Promised LandForward, and Land of Hope and Dreams.

Nest of Snakes played their first gig, to a full house at the Hull Avenue Tap on November 10th. It was guitarist Jason Boten's first live appearance since he left Superchief the year before. This band is going places. 

September's Lucas Brighton
(photo by Greg Waldrop)
On November 11 Lucas Brighton posts on his Facebook page that he has quit September. He later explained the details of the break-up to the Bigfoot Diaries, which we printed. It became an instant "hit" among Des Moines musicians who hailed it for it's brutal honesty. It was virtually a guide of how not to conduct your band's business, as it laid out in great detail the problems and the mistakes associated with the band's short tenure as one of Des Moines most prominent metal bands. Apparently it got too personal for one member of the band, and I was sent emails from this band member instructing me to take it down. At first I stalled, but then at the request of Lucas who told me that he was being attacked for it, I relented. While Lucas has thanked me sincerely for pulling it, I still wonder if I have done the right thing, as all the response I received to the article was positive. The only negativity I heard came from that one member of the band, who apparently felt that September's business should remain private.

November 16 Guitarist Ricc Terranova played his final gig with Superchief. November has been a rough month historically for these rock and roll juggernauts, as it was almost exactly a year earlier that bassist Jason Boten left the band to explore other options (see November 10). According to singer Haldor Von Hammer, this won't slow the band down. "We are never going to be able to replace a talent and friend like Ricc, but we will become something different with the addition forthcoming." He said. "We look forward to bigger and brighter things in 2013, including the apocalypse." Terranona is now playing guitar with the Steve E. George Band. 

On November 21 The Bigfoot Diaries published an interview with Des Moines musician Rich Cantrell. Cantrell was hand picked by local movie maker Thor Moreno to create the musical scores for his movies, most recently of which was a film called Murder Incorporated. Murder Incorporated comes on the heels of another film Cantrell wrote the score for called Iowa. (It debuted in December at the Varsity Theater.) Rich Cantrell is yet another example of the musical diversity that makes this local music scene so incredible.

Rich Cantrell creating music in his studio

On November 23rd, Stuttrin' Jimmy and the Goosebumps got some state-wide attention when Jimmy's story (his struggles with drugs and alcoholism and his subsequent recovery) was featured on Channel 13's newscast. Live footage was aired from a performance he and his band had recently gave at the el Bait Shop. It was a blistering night of music as I recall, and one of the greatest rock and roll shows that I have seen this year. I'm looking forward to what he and his band mates produce in 2013.

Stuttrin' Jimmy (Photo by Bryan Farland)

On November 27 Rage Against the Machine released a special 20th anniversary box set to commemorate the group's debut album. The full box set contains never-before-released concert material, including the band's 2010 Finsbury Park show and footage from early in their career, as well as a digitally-remastered version of the album, b-sides and the original demo tape (on disc for the first time). The band released 3-disc and single-disc versions.

Also on November 27 The Bigfoot Diaries announced plans to do a monthly webcast beginning in January 2013. The announcement was made on our Facebook page. Our first show will air on Sunday, January 27th at 7:00 CST. Andy Shernoff of the Dictators has agreed to call in and give our inaugural show a proper salute. This show will be the pilot of what hopefully is a long run of continuity. It will feature members of the Bigfoot Diaries crew, live music, creative vignettes, moments of awkward silence, and other forms of creative talent from central Iowa and throughout the world.

Poster created by Jason Boten
(Click to enlarge)


On December 2 Led Zeppelin and Buddy Guy were honored at this year's induction of the Kennedy Center Honors awardsThe awards are given to commemorate those in the performing arts who have made a significant impact on the American culture. The awards ceremony has received criticism in the past for being too pompous and for snubbing Latinos and Hispanics. Said Frank Rich, columnist for the New York Times: "In a country that honors culture so rarely, this annual presentation of lifetime achievement awards is by default a big deal. It's the only national event celebrating the performing arts as distinct from show business. Yet it has fallen so far in esteem even within the arts community that A-list performers are more likely to show up on the Honors' various committee lists than on stage or even in the audience at the gala." Personally, I'm all about Buddy Guy getting the attention and respect he deserves for his amazing career, from any source.

Blues legend Buddy Guy 

December 4 Lamb of God played at the Val Air Ballroom in Des Moines. Tickets were 45 dollars and I know a few folks who went and many who said that price was too high. Those international legal fees must be pretty expensive.

December 6: Huw Lloyd-Langton, guitarist of Hawkwind and The Meads of Asphodel, died from cancer. He was a part of Hawkwind from nearly the beginning, joining the band in 1969, less than a year after it's formation. Hawkwind was primarily a psychedelic band then, but over the years has taken on several different incarnations. Lloyd-Langton lost a two year battle with cancer. He was 61.

Huw Lloyd-Langton
December 11 Ravi Shankar died at 92. As a master of the Sitar, his influence carried far beyond the reaches of his native India. During the '50s and '60s he recorded most of his albums at World Pacific Records at the bequest of his friend Richard Bock, who was the founder of the studio. It was there that Shankar's music was heard by the Byrds, who were recording at the same time. They incorporated some of Shankar's elements into their own music, and eventually introduced Shankar to George Harrison who immediately became obsessed with the sound of which the sitar created. He bought his own sitar and used it on the recording of "Norwegian Wood." This led to Indian music becoming widely popular among other musicians of the era and to the Raga Rock trend that became so popular in the mid '60s.  Other Beatles songs that were heavily influenced by Shankar were "Within You Without You" and "Tomorrow Never Knows." In the mid '70s Shankar distanced himself from the hippie movement and continued on his mastery of Indian instruments. He died of breathing difficulties in San Diego California.

December 13 Willie Ackerman died. He was an American drummer who played with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George  Jones, Willie Nelson, Louis Armstrong and the Monkees. He played drums on the 1959 recording of Marty Robbins' hit "El Paso." He was 73.

December 21 ended an era for one of the great blues bands that hail from Des Moines. Matt Woods and the Thunderbolts played their final show at the Elk's Lodge in Grinnell, Iowa. They went out in style, playing with  Chicago legends Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials. It marked the final show for Michael Swanger, the drummer for the group, and the last gig with the trio for Scott Cochran, who just a couple of months earlier was voted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. It won't be long until each of these guys are, assuming that all things happen as they should.

Matt Woods (middle) and the Thunderbolts
Michael Swanger (left) and Scott Cochran (right)

Also on December 21 the song "Gangnam Style" by South Korean singer PSY became the fist video to receive 1 billion hits on Youtube. Well played Mayans... Well played.

On December 24th Ray Collins died. He was a member of Frank Zappa's band, the Mothers of Invention, having joined in 1964. He was the primary vocalist on the band's early records, including Freak Out, Cruising with Ruben and the Jets, and Absolutley Free. He continued to be a part of the Mothers throughout the '60 up until the mid '70s. He died in his home in Claremont, California. He was 76 years old.

Ray Collins (right) and Frank Zappa

Fontella Bass, the R&B singer who is best known for her 1965 hit "Rescue Me" died of heart complications on December 26th. "Rescue Me" was the first single on the Chess Records label to sell 1 million copies since Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" a decade earlier. Having suffered a heart attack in early December, Ms. Bass died in a St Louis hospice at the age of 72. 

The next day, on December 27 Lloyd Charmers died of a heart attack while driving in London. Charmers, born in Trenchtown Jamaica was perhaps most famous for creating Reggae and Ska throughout the early '70s, but he was also an accomplished record producer. He was briefly a member of The Messengers, a supergroup that also featured B.B. Seaton, Ken Boothe, and Busty Brown. He was 74.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great blogwork! Donna Summer's look on the BAD GIRLS cover is actually pretty tame (must be the hat.) Saw Kris K. at Hoyt Sherman, great concert, had us in his hands. What got to me most tho were all the R & B legends passing away - they must have planned it.