Konstantinos Karamitroudis is one of Rock’s hardest working musicians. However, you may not know him by that name. Konstantinos has wisely chosen to operate under the much-easier-to-pronounce stage name of Gus G as he makes his way through the Hard Rock universe. Formerly a member of Ozzy Osbourne’s band and the leader of Greek Power Metal band Firewind, Gus G was inspired to play guitar by listening to the classic live album FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ever since Aerosmith’s debut album was released 45 years ago, Joe Perry has been one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most respected guitarists. While some may have thought of him as Steven Tyler’s trusted sideman in the Hard Rock outfit, Perry was much more than that – he was the architect of Aerosmith’s Blues-based Rock groove. When Perry left Aerosmith for a few years in the early ‘80s, he took that distinct Perry vibe with him.
Palestine, TX-based hard rock band Blacktop Mojo returns with their sophomore album BURN THE SHIPS. This blistering potpourri of power was recorded at Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville, TN, FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, and Audioworx Studios in Palestine, TX. Blacktop Mojo’s blend of Metal, Southern Rock, Hard Rock and Grunge ensures that they will appeal to heavy music lovers across the board.
Music genres come and go (and come back again) but Heavy Metal has never left us. For nearly 50 years, the Metal genre has continued to smash its way through the music industry like the Incredible Hulk smashes through a brick wall. Over the years, it has morphed into many different subgenres but straight-ahead Metal remains the most popular form of heavy music. It all started in 1968 with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. (Led Zeppelin has long been associated with Heavy Metal but, in hindsight, the band was an entity unto itself and shouldn’t be classified as a Metal act.) Now, at the dawn of the genre’s 50th Anniversary, Five Finger Death Punch is one of the most popular Heavy Metal bands in the land. Formed in 2005, the Los Angeles/Las Vegas-based band has certainly made their mark in the music business, building a fan base of dedicated followers that continues to grow a decade after they released their debut album THE WAY OF THE FIST (2007).
When I bring up the name Rex Smith, many people – usually over 40 years of age – instantly remember him as a teen idol, soap actor, balladeer, hard rocker, TV host or stage actor. Oddly enough, they are all absolutely correct! While he may never have achieved ‘household name’ status all over the world, he is still fondly remembered for quite a few things. For the time being, I’m going to set aside his TV, film and stage work (Street Hawk, Grease, Solid Gold, As The World Turns, Pirates Of Penzance, etc) and focus on his Rock/Pop music career in the ‘70s and ‘80s, all of which is included in the six CD box set ROCK AND ROLL DREAM: 1976-1983.
ATTACK OF THE MAD AXEMAN:
An EXCLUSIVE interview
There’s a reason why German guitarist Michael Schenker is considered a music legend. He carved out a successful career as a hard rock pioneer with German rockers Scorpions (1969-’73 and ’78-’79) and British heavy rock band UFO (1973-’78) as well as his own projects The Michael Schenker Group and McAuley-Schenker Group throughout the ‘80s and beyond. His manic playing, songwriting skills and knack for creating extremely memorable riffs has earned him legions of devoted fans all over the world. And let’s face it – Michael Schenker is the only guitarist that has ever made the Gibson Flying V guitar look cool. Many have tried but only Schenker has succeeded. And now, with his latest project Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock, he is proving once again that he still has plenty of fire, skill and energy. Even though he has been a professional musician for nearly fifty years, he has never lost his mojo.
Schenker’s first claim to fame was joining his older brother Rudolph’s band Scorpions in 1969. He and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band at the same time, although at fifteen, Michael was the youngest member of Scorpions by a handful of years. He also just happened to be a unique guitarist and gifted songwriter. He honed his skills with Scorpions for four years before leaving the band and joining British rockers UFO. With UFO, Schenker became an
international sensation, steering the band away from their early Space Rock leanings towards an edgy Hard Rock sound. UFO became a force to be reckoned with, but by the end of 1978, he left the band. And to think he was barely into his twenties at this point. Schenker rejoined Scorpions right after leaving UFO, but soon realized he wanted to focus on his own thing. So he left – again – the following year. The Michael Schenker Group was his next project, although he moved away from the commercial sounds of his previous bands and embraced his experimental side. For the next thirty years, he focused on various other projects including a brief reunion with UFO, the McCauley-Schenker Group and other endeavors. By 2008, he was ready to embrace his illustrious Hard Rock past and formed Temple Of Rock. The band has had several line-up changes over the years but the most recent – and best – features Schenker joined by former Scorpions members Herman “ze German” Rarebell (drums) and Francis Bucholz (bass) plus guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay and powerhouse vocalist Doogie White (Tank/La Paz/Rainbow/etc.). While on tour for their excellent 2015 sophomore studio album, Spirit On A Mission, the band was approached about recording their live show using a new technology called 3D Listening. The results can now be heard with the release of On A Mission: Live In Madrid. On this release, you can practically ‘feel’ the atmosphere of the venue even on the normal stereo mix of this recording. There’s even a version of the release that, with the correct audio equipment, will make it seem as if you are there in the audience enjoying Michael and the boys giving it their all on stage. The material during this scorching performance spans Schenker’s entire career including Scorpions, UFO and, of course, Temple Of Rock.
Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with Michael Schenker as he prepared to embark on a series Michael Schenker Fest shows, which feature appearances from three original vocalists he has worked with over the years – Gary Barden, Robin McAuley and Graham Bonnet…