Friday, March 15, 2013

Stone Temple Pilots

Out of all the so called grunge bands of the 1990s, Stone Temple Pilots owed more to hard rock than the flannel driven sounds of Soundgarden or Nirvana to which I always looked at with more punk rock than grunge.  STP wasn't from the great NW, from southern California and having a charismatic front man in Scott Wieland, who had more in common with Jim Morrison than Kurt Corbain. Wieland can deliver the goods vocal wise but most of the time his band mates wanted to strangle him.  (ask Slash).  I actually enjoyed the two albums that Scott did with the the ex GnR guitarist in Velvet Revolver (Libertard  criminally overlooked and underrated).

In the early 90s, STP competed with Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger and Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam 10 and to a lesser extent Candlebox's first album  but even though Core sounds grunge, part of the reason is that record goes on too long although they had hits with Wicked Garden, Dead And Bloated and Crackerman although I do like the 8 minute closer Where The River Goes but there's also crap like Wet My Bad or Sin to bore me.  The first four albums were produced by Brendan O'Brien, Core being the least whereas No 4 remains their best.  But more about that later.

The second effort Purple shows STP moving away from the hard rock and imitation grunge to a more pop sound although they still rock hard with Unglued, Meatplow and Vasolene although they show a pop side with Interstate Love Song and Pretty Polly. And then you get goofy shit like Army Ants, nuff said.

Tiny Music is their pop rock attempt and sounds more like a hard rock Cheap Trick and they got a few hits with Trippin On A Hole In A Paper Heart and Lady Picture Show but I also enjoy Pop's Love Suicide going into Tumble In The Rough and then Big Bang Baby.  Side 2 kinda falls apart. By then the other guys were getting tired of Scott Wieland's act so they threw him out and got Dave Coutts to sing and they called it Talk Show.  Made one album for Atlantic which recalled more of a popper side of the Beatles but it sold poorly.  Wieland did Twelve Bar Blues

Somehow the Deleo Brothers and Wieland kissed and made up and put out the roaring No. 4 album, my favorite STP album.  It's really a compromise of the previous three albums but they never rocked harder than they did on lead off track Down and even more so on Heaven And Hot Rods. They could tone it down on the ultra cool Sour Girl but the surprise track is the final one Atlanta, to which Wieland channels his inner Jim Morrison into a five minute ballad that should have been heard on radio.

But after that, the albums were as good nor memorable.Shangri La Dee Da sounds as tossed off as the title suggests.  It sounded like a followup to No. 4 but the songs were all that great.  Days In The Week was the hit but in band fighting started up again and they broke up.  Atlantic cherry picked the best known songs for the Thank You best of which included a unremarkable new track All  In The Suit That You Wear and a acoustic version of Plush.  Wieland went back to a solo career, The DeLeo brothers picked up Richard Patrick of Filter for the one off Army Of Anyone album in 2006.

The 2010 Stone Temple Pilots album is very different from the others, it was self produced (with Don Was helping out) and was somewhat an improvement over the lackadaisical Shangri La Dee Da, but this record is their most pop sounding, the hard edges that made No. 4 or Core hard rocking were gone and perhaps gone for good.   But I actually enjoyed their pop moves, it seems to fit in well with the band despite it being a poor selling album.

Perhaps the STP legacy was that they didn't owe their music to grunge but rather was a throwback to the stadium rock of the 1970s which annoyed the hip critics who hated their music.  Nevertheless, Stone Temple Pilots have become the classic rock band of the 1990s now their music is now heard on the classic rock stations and modern rock as well.  With Scott Wieland thrown out of the band for the 40th or 4th time you could make the argument that they are done but somehow I can picture them getting back together again somewhere down the road.  For it has shown that no matter what the DeLeo Brothers and Eric Krentz do, that they can't make it over the hump without the enigma that is Scott Wieland.

As they say this is not over........yet.  And so they regroup by adding Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) and made a five song EP that while passable, Wieland's personality and songwriting is missed.  A couple good songs (Out Of Time, Black Heart) but even for a EP the lesser songs are just that.  Uneven. In November of 2015 Chester Bennington left STP to return back to Linkin Park.  What the guys will do in the future remains to be seen but there's always a chance Wieland will resume back into the lead singer role, pending if both him and the band can tolerate each other.

That will never happened.  Scott Wieland was found dead in his tour bus prior before a show in Minnesota December 3, 2015.  He was 48.  Chester Bennington killed himself in 2017.  In November of 2017 Jeffrey Adam Gutt was named new vocalist of STP, Gutt was a X factor contestant and did cover versions of Hallelujah and Pink (Aerosmith, not the female singer BTW).  The 2018 album ushers in a new edition of STP, to which Gutt is a more suitable replacement than Bennington and at times the album shows flashes of brilliance but without Scott Wieland the results are not as memorable so to speak.  Actually it's better than Shangri La Dee Da but I still like the 2010 S/T better than the 2018 S/T.

The Albums

Core (Atlantic 1992) B-
Stone Temple Pilots (Better known as Purple) (Atlantic 1994) B+
Tiny Music Or Songs From The Vatican (Atlantic 1996) A-
No. 4 (Atlantic 1999) A-
Shangri La Dee Da (Atlantic 2001) C+
Thank You (Atlantic 2003) B+
Stone Temple Pilots (Atlantic 2010) B+
Stone Temple Pilots (Rhino 2018) B

STP related:
Talk Show (Atlantic 1998) B
Scott Wieland: 12 Bar Blues (Atlantic 1998) B+
Velvet Revolver: Contraband (RCA 2005) B
Velvet Revolver: Libertard (RCA 2007) B+
Army Of Anyone (Firm/EMI 2006) C+
Scott Wieland: Happy In Galoshes (Softdrive/New West 2008) B
Scott Wieland: The Most Wonderful Time Of Year (Atco 2011) B
Stone Temple Pilots/Chester Bennington High Rise EP (Play Pen/ADA 2013) C+

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Day Country Music Died March 5, 1963

Credit: Peter Cooper The Nashville Tennessean

Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Randy Hughes remembered, 50 years after plane crash

Fifty years ago, on Sunday, March 3, 1963, Lloyd “Cowboy” Copas shouldn’t have been crying.
Things were, after all, going well. Copas, who burst onto the country scene with four consecutive Top 10 hits in the 1940s, wound up on the cover of “Billboard” magazine. After that, he endured an eight-year slide in popularity before storming back in 1960 with a 12-week No. 1 hit called “Alabam,” a song that restored his standing as a major country star.

That Sunday, the 49-year-old Copas was in Kansas City, Kan., with his friends, playing three shows to raise money for the family of a disc jockey named Jack Call, who had died in a car wreck. For $1.50, people could see and hear Copas, Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, George Jones, Billy Walker, Georgie Riddle, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, George McCormick and others as they sang their hits.

It wasn’t self-pity or depression that brought the Cowboy to tears; it was a post-show meeting with a longtime fan, a woman with cancer who told him that she wasn’t long for this earth. Copas introduced the woman to Riddle, and when she walked away, Riddle said, the singing star grew emotional.

“He said to me, ‘Poor thing, she only has six months to live,’ ” Riddle says. “It was ironic. Because Copas had much less time than that.”

Plenty to bury

Fewer than 48 hours later, Copas and fellow “Grand Ole Opry” stars Cline and Hawkins were passengers on a doomed plane piloted by Randy Hughes, who was Cline’s manager, a talented musician and stage performer and the husband of Copas’ daughter, Kathy. Around 7 p.m. on March 5, Hughes’ plane dove into the hard, cold winter woods near Camden, Tenn., 85 miles west of Nashville. The plane’s impact was like an egg hurled to the ground. No survivors. No chance.

That crash marked an unprecedented loss to the country music community. March of 1963 was a month of tragedy and devastation in Nashville. Days after the plane went down, on the same day of a Cline memorial, Jack Anglin of popular duo Johnnie & Jack died in a single-car accident on Due West Avenue in Madison. And later that month, former “Opry” star “Texas” Ruby Fox perished in a trailer fire.

In the half-century following the plane crash, Cline has been the subject of a feature film, a stage play and several biographies, while the lives of Copas, Hawkins and Hughes have been less studied. The focus on Cline has often been at the exclusion of the others, and that has been hurtful to some of those left in tragedy’s wake.

That focus has at times put history in the least fun of funhouse mirrors.

“When that plane went down, Copas was the biggest star onboard,” Cline’s widower, Charlie Dick, told “Opry” announcer, country music historian and WSM air personality Eddie Stubbs five years ago over the WSM airwaves.

“Usually, today, Patsy seems to get top billing,” says Dick in a Tennessean interview today. “But Patsy was a big fan of Copas and Hawk, and they were stars. Everybody on that plane was important to the music business. And all of them were top dogs.”

Copas was a veteran favorite and a deft guitarist. A soaring vocalist, Cline had already scored in the 1960s with hits “I Fall To Pieces,” “Crazy” and “She’s Got You,” and in Hughes, 34, she had a sharp and tenacious manager. Hawkins was a rising, charismatic star on a roll, married to future Country Music Hall of Famer Jean Shepard, and he had just released what would become his first and only No. 1 country hit, “Lonesome 7-7203.”

Tragedy needs no resume, though. Loved ones do not mourn vocal stylists, affable entertainers or industry power players. They mourn mothers, wives, husbands and fathers.
Hawkshaw Hawkins and his wife, Jean Shepard, both Grand Ole Opry singers, proudly show off their baby, Don Robin, in their living room Dec. 13, 1961. Their first baby weight in at 8-pounds, 7-ounces at St. Thomas Hospital and was named after the couple's Opry friends Don Gibson and Marty Robbins. (Photo: Jimmy Ellis/ file / The Tennessean
Hawkshaw Hawkins and his wife, Jean Shepard, both Grand Ole Opry singers, proudly show off their baby, Don Robin, in their living room Dec. 13, 1961. Their first baby weighed in at 8-pounds, 7-ounces at St. Thomas Hospital and was named after the couple's Opry friends Don Gibson and Marty Robbins. (Photo: Jimmy Ellis/ file / The Tennessean
“I remember the morning Hawk left, he bent over the baby’s crib,” says Shepard, who was eight months pregnant when the plane went down and had a 1-year-old son. “He bent over the baby’s crib and said, ‘I want another one just like that.’ ”

Harold Franklin Hawkins Jr. was another one just like that, born April 8, 1963, less than a month after the crash.

In the coming years, Shepard grew exasperated at the extent to which Cline’s death was emphasized and the others were set into the background.

“A lot of people think during this time that I’ve hated Patsy Cline,” Shepard says. “And that’s not the story at all. I resented the way it was presented, like she was the only person on that airplane. ... I lost a husband. I lost as much as Charlie Dick did. He lost a wife.”

Shepard and Dick are old and dear friends, and they understand each other. They’ve spoken about all of this, and they are in agreement.

“The person who lost the most was Kathy,” Shepard says. “She lost her father and her husband. I thought she had a lot more to bury than we did.”

True enough, but they all had plenty to bury.

‘A long day’

Saturday night, March 2, Patsy Cline played three shows in Birmingham with Tex Ritter, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich and Flatt & Scruggs. The next morning, she and Charlie Dick flew to East Nashville’s Cornelia Fort Airpark in Randy Hughes’ little plane. Country music travel in those days usually involved back roads and hassles, and the Comanche was a way to sail far above those things.

“He didn’t know how to fly when he bought it,” says Kathy Hughes. “But Randy had high aspirations. As a manager, if he had a stable of stars he’d use that plane even more.”

Copas and Hawkins played the “Opry” that Saturday night.

Sunday morning, while Cline, Dick and Hughes were in the air, Kathy Hughes prepared fried chicken, and Hawkins and Copas played with Copas’ 11-year-old son, Mike, at Copas’ home. Kathy, her father and Hawkins then took the short ride to Cornelia and met Hughes’ plane. Charlie Dick was heading home — or, as he threatened, down to Tootsie’s to spend the previous night’s earnings on beer.

The Kansas City flight proceeded without incident, other than Cline’s complaints about how cold it was on the plane, and the performers arrived in time for the first of the day’s three shows at 2 p.m. Promoter Hap Peebles, disc jockey Guy Smith and country music artist Billy Walker organized the performances, which were designed to raise money to aid the family of the late disc jockey Call.

Fifty years later, it’s difficult to imagine scores of top-drawer country artists giving up many hours of personal time to help a radio personality’s family. These days, Kansas City is an eight-hour drive from Nashville. In 1963, taking back roads that were then the main roads, it was a significantly longer trip. Hughes’ plane made the excursion possible for Cline, Copas and Hawkins.

Cline and Hawkins, in particular, were reluctant to make the trip and eager to return. Cline, 30, was exhausted: She spent much of the past year doing four shows per day at The Mint in Las Vegas, and she wanted to be around her children, 4-year-old Julie and 2-year-old Randy. Hawkins, 41, had a baby at home, and his wife, “Opry” member Shepard, was soon to give birth to their second son. Hawkins was a horseman, and he had a mare ready to foal as well.

Despite those concerns, the performers played three fine shows that day. They were professionals, even when playing a show that didn’t pay anything but expenses, and they brought full focus to their time onstage.
“These artists were part of country music’s golden era, and its greatest generation,” Stubbs asserts. “What they witnessed and were part of professionally took place during a very important part of the development of our industry. It was a special time, when it was more about the music, the family of musicians and entertainers, the closeness that bonded them and the genuine love they had for what they were doing.”

In between shows, Hawkins, Cline, Copas and the others greeted well-wishers. This was not an age when country musicians sought to, or could really afford to, hide in sequestered backstage areas. To their fans, they were not distant idols. More like distant, friendly cousins.

Access was not to be gained, it was a given, and the financial margins were small enough that selling and autographing promotional photos was often the difference between a successful appearance and a middling one. Interactions with fans were crucial, and performing artists were ambassadors for a Nashville that was still in its infancy as a music center and as an international tourist destination.

When those fans visited Nashville and the “Grand Ole Opry” at the Ryman Auditorium, they were likely to find performers drinking and socializing at Tootsie’s.

“Patsy was there a lot,” Riddle says. “You’d be telling jokes, and she’d come up with some dingers, too. She was kind of like one of the guys. Fun-loving. It was always, ‘Hello, hoss, how you doing?’ ”

“Opry” star Billy Walker, who had gathered most of the Kansas City talent, was slated to fly back to Nashville on Hughes’ plane, with Hawkins scheduled to be on a 6 a.m. commercial flight. But Walker received an urgent message Sunday night: His wife’s father had suffered a heart attack in Texas, and he needed to rush back home. Knowing the commercial flight would be faster than the private plane, Hawkins gave Walker his airline ticket and agreed to fly with Hughes, Cline and Copas.

After the third Kansas City show, Riddle and Cline spent a half hour talking at a reception thrown at the Town House motor hotel. The conversation was pleasant, not profound.

“We were talking about how it had been a long day,” Riddle says.

“Get Home-itis”


Tennessean-1A-plane-crashMonday morning, it was clear that another long day was in store. Storms halted all private flights out of Kansas City’s Fairfax Airport. Billy Walker was back in Nashville by 9 a.m., to care for his children while his wife went to Texas, and Hughes, Hawkins, Cline and Copas had to burn a day in Kansas City.

“They got weathered in,” says Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. “I’ve been out with entertainers so many times when everyone gets awfully impatient. You get a case of what I call ‘Get Home-itis.’ It’s ‘Let’s go home.’ ”

Tuesday morning, the weather wasn’t much better and their impatience was heightened. The plane Hughes had purchased for convenience was proving less convenient than a car, and certainly less so than the tour bus that Cline and Dick dreamed of buying. Hughes decided to get back by hopping from small airport to small airport, waiting for storms to clear the area before taking off for the next short haul. They made it as far as Dyersburg, Tenn., northeast of Memphis and just east of Arkansas, and landed around 4:30 p.m.

In Dyersburg, roughly 170 miles from Nashville via nonstop flight, they were met by Evelyn and Bill Braese, the couple who ran the airport. Impressed to be meeting the country stars, the Braeses also were dubious about Hughes’ notion of flying to Nashville. Major storms roared to the east. The Braeses advised Hughes not to fly, and they arranged for motel rooms for the Nashville group.

“I talked to Randy in Dyersburg,” says Kathy Hughes. “He asked me how the weather was in Nashville. I said it had been horrible all day, but I looked out the window and said, ‘It has stopped raining, and it looks like I can see the sun trying to set.’ He said, ‘Do me a favor and call Cornelia Fort and tell them to turn the lights on. We’re going to make it in probably an hour.’ ”

‘Something to look forward to’

Kathy Copas Hughes called Shepard and Dick to tell them when the troupe would finally be arriving. And Shepard gave her baby son a bath in the kitchen sink.

“It was beginning to get dusky dark,” Shepard says. “And the most horrible feeling come over me that had ever come over me in my life. I just stood there a couple of minutes and kind of froze. I thought I was going into labor. ... That’s about the time the plane crash happened.”

The aftermath was chaotic and horrific. Pieces of the plane were strewn about the Camden forest: a wing in an oak tree, the engine divoted six feet into the ground. There was a kindness to the impact’s violence: No one on board felt a thing. They did not suffer. They were among friends.

WSM radio informed listeners, including family members, that a plane carrying “Opry” regulars Cline, Copas, Hawkins and Hughes was missing. The plane was discovered around daybreak. Singing, songwriting genius Roger Miller had been with Dick late into the night, and he drove to try and find the site while Dick stayed at home with his children. Miller got there in the morning and screamed at the scavengers who were already sifting through the woods, collecting ghastly souvenirs in the hours before authorities secured the scene, around 1 p.m. on March 6.

Cline’s remains went first to her home for a wake, and she is buried in her hometown of Winchester, Va.
Hughes’, Copas’ and Hawkins’ bodies are buried at Forest Lawn cemetery, and their preparations were made at Phillips Robinson Funeral Home on Gallatin Road. By Wednesday evening, the victims’ loved ones welcomed mourners.

“When I was in mourning about their deaths, the first thought in my mind was, ‘Kiddo, you’re not with your people anymore,’ ” says Kathy Copas Hughes. “My husband and my father ... it was a shocking thing. It numbs you for a while. But country music people, we kind of cling to each other. We all take sorrow according to our background and what we believe. If you don’t have anything to hang onto, it has to be the most horrible thing in the world. I believe I had divine help.”

Help came from many places.

Hughes and Ferlin Husky had started a publishing company, and Husky insisted that Kathy Copas Hughes, who had no publishing experience, retain half the company. That insistence meant she kept half the proceeds from country and gospel smash “On The Wings Of A Dove,” and she used that money to put herself and her two sons through college.

Marty Robbins wrote a song about Shepard’s situation called “Two Little Boys,” and he gave writer’s credit to Don Robin Hawkins and Harold Hawkins, Hawkshaw and Shepard’s sons, the second of whom was born April 8, 1963.

At Cline’s memorial service on Thursday, March 7, Bill Anderson sat in a pew at Phillips Robinson, just in front of Kitty Wells and Johnnie Wright. Wells was the “Queen of Country Music,” despondent over the death of a potential successor. Wright, her husband, was half of groundbreaking duo Johnnie & Jack, along with his step-brother Jack Anglin.

“Getting up to leave, I spoke to Johnnie for a quick minute,” Anderson says. “A few minutes later, I saw Johnnie was walking on the little porch outside the funeral home, just bawling like a baby. Someone said they’d just told him that Jack was in an automobile wreck and they think he’s dead.”

Word spread immediately. Anglin was as much a part of the close-knit community as were the crash victims. Now, five were gone.

“If they’d lived, Copas would be 99, Jack Anglin 96, Hawkshaw 91, Randy 84 and Patsy 80,” says Stubbs. “We can only imagine what they’d be like if they were with us. As it was, they left us in the prime of their lives. Career-wise, they were all in a good place. The records were happening and show dates were on the books. They’d each had success and faced their share of tough times. But the present was good, and the future was something to look forward to.”

That future went dark, in deep, cruel woods and at a sharp and deadly bend on Due West Avenue.

Their music remains, unscratched and unsullied, at once timeless and young.

The lives of those lost, March 5 and 7, 1963

Patsy Cline
Patsy-Cline promo
Patsy Cline

In March 1963, Patsy Cline was a rising star in country music, with a powerful and nuanced voice capable of delivering up-tempo country numbers, pop-leaning ballads and almost anything else she decided to perform. After her death, Cline became an iconic figure. Among the most influential vocalists in country music history, her records are studied and emulated. Duplication, though, has proved a tougher trick.

“She was a hell of a singer,” says her husband, Charlie Dick, a biased and entirely correct source.

Mandy Barnett, who has often played the starring role in stage productions of “Always: Patsy Cline,” says, “She probably had to scrap quite a bit to get by. A lot of people that come from upbringings like that end up being people that have the biggest hearts. That’s one thing that comes across when she sings: how much emotion and passion she had as a person.”

Hawkshaw Hawkins
Hawkshaw Hawkins
Hawkshaw Hawkins

Harold “Hawkshaw” Hawkins came to country music notoriety as a member of the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, W.Va. His uncommon height (some of the most humorous “Grand Ole Opry” photographs involve horseplay between the gangly Hawkins and the aptly named Little Jimmy Dickens) added to his charismatic stage presence.

“His personality just pulled everybody in,” fan Linda Goode says, while wife Jean Shepard comments, “He was the first professional entertainer I’d been around for any length of time. One of the best entertainers in the business.”

Hawkins’ entertaining went beyond music. He carried a Wild West show on the road with him, complete with two horses, a family of Native Americans and a bullwhip.

“I had to hold his targets for him,” Shepard says. “He like to cut my nose off one night.”

When the plane went down, Hawkins had just released “Lonesome 7-7203,” which would become his first and only No. 1 country record.

Cowboy Copas
Cowboy Copas
Cowboy Copas

The eldest passenger on Randy Hughes’ doomed plane, Lloyd “Cowboy” Copas was 49 on March 5, 1963. He was an affable and engaging performer, skilled enough as a guitarist to work as a sideman for Pee Wee King and compelling enough to score solo hits including “Filipino Baby,” “Tennessee Waltz” and “ ‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered.” Copas hit a dry spell in his career from 1952 until 1960, when his “Alabam” (a song that featured his daughter, Kathy, on tambourine) became a No. 1 country hit and re-established Copas as a prime force in Nashville music.

Copas seamlessly integrated his life as a performer and his life as a husband and father.

“Daddy was Daddy, onstage or at home,” Kathy says. “As I grew older, I realized not everyone had a singing troubadour for a father.”

Randy Hughes
Randy Hughes
Randy Hughes

A more-than-capable musician and entertainer, Randy Hughes decided he would make his greatest country music mark guiding others’ careers as a manager. He was both enterprising and fearless: As a driver, he was sometimes called “The Hundred Mile an Hour Man,” and he had no inhibitions about learning to fly the small plane he bought to attract clients and make traveling to shows less grueling.

“He was a giving guy,” says his widow, Kathy Hughes. “He was also a young man on his way up. Whatever he was going to do next was going to be bigger and better, which is why he had the plane.”

Hughes and Copas often joked with one another, and that side of their relationship ramped up when Randy asked for Copas’ daughter’s hand in marriage.

“When I told my dad that Randy was going to come over and talk to him about us getting married, Daddy said, ‘When’s he coming?’ ” Kathy says. “I said, ‘He’ll be here on Saturday after a show at WSM.’ Daddy said, ‘OK, I’ll be right here.’ When Randy drove up and came in, Dad was sitting in the den with his shotgun across his lap.”

Jack Anglin

Half of country duo Johnnie & Jack, Jack Anglin was a versatile singer and musician. Between 1951 and 1962, Johnnie & Jack notched 15 consecutive Top 20 country singles, including the propulsive “Poison Love” and the chart-topping “(Oh Baby Mine) I Get So Lonely,” also a hit for the Statler Brothers in the 1980s.

“His tenor singing was admired by many in the business, including Earl Scruggs and Curly Seckler,” says Country DJ Hall of Famer Eddie Stubbs. “Listen to Kitty Wells’ monster hit of ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ and you’ll hear Jack’s rhythm and bluegrass style guitar runs all through that piece. Johnnie was quick to admit that Jack’s vocal and musical ability were much superior to his. Jack did not have the interest or skills in the business end that Johnnie did, so their efforts complemented each other in making the act successful.”