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PCR #324. (Vol. 7, No. 23) This edition is for the week of June 5--11, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Musical news, both good and bad. Shall we begin?

Batwoman Returns as a Lesbian  by Nolan B. Canova
Sex, Lies, and Constitutional Amendments  by Lisa Zubek
"The Omen"  by Mike Smith
Gas Prices Impact Movies  by Mark Terry
"The Da Vinci Code"....Manatees Off The Endangered List  by John Lewis
Matthew Has Left The Building....Billy and Vince Have Just Left....Don't Drink and Drive....My Favorite Films -- Part 23: "Grease"  by Mike Smith
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Matt At The WharfThis past Friday night the PCR's own Matthew Drinnenberg took to the stage of the Wharf Pub in Edgartown, Massachusetts and performed 2 hours worth of classic rock and original tunes. When the night was over more then 50 copies of his CD had been snatched up by the enthusiastic crowd. The Martha's Vineyard Times ran a great article (with photo) about Matt's performance that morning. Way to go!

Two musical talents left us this week, one of them something special:
Billy Preston, so often referred to as "the 5th Beatle" thanks to his contributions on such songs as "Get Back" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," died this week at the age of 59. As reported in past issues of the PCR, Preston had battled several illnesses recently and had been in a coma since last November. A musical prodigy, Preston first gained national recognition when, at age 12, he played blues legend W.C. Handy as a child in the film, "St Louis Blues. While traveling in Europe as part of Little Richard's band, Preston met the Beatles in Hamburg, Germany in the early 1960s. He developed a fast friendship with the Fab Four and was invited by George Harrison to sit in on the recording sessions which were captured for the film, "Let It Be." It is Preston that plays the organ solo during "Get Back," a moment forever remembered as the Beatles last "concert," performing on the roof of the Apple building. In fact, when "Get Back" was released as a single, it was credited to "The Beatles with Billy Preston." Preston also worked in the studio with the Rolling Stones and his contributions can be found on several albums, including "Sticky Fingers" and "Black and Blue." In the early 70s Preston found success as a solo artist, winning a Grammy award for "Outa Space." His other hits include "Will It Go Around In Circles" and "Nothing From Nothing." He won a second Grammy in 1973 for his participation on the album of the year, George Harrison's "Concert for Bangladesh." In 1979 he appeared as Sgt Pepper in the ill fated musical film, "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Fittingly, he performed "Get Back" in the film.

Next to drummer for Spinal Tap, no job in music was thought to be as dangerous as keyboard player for the Grateful Dead. That is why it probably wasn't a surprise that Vince Welnick, the last man to hold that position, died last Friday at the age of 51. Welnick was the last musician to join the band before Jerry Garcia died in 1995. He replaced Brent Mydland, who had died in 1990 of a drug overdose. Mydland joined the group after Keith Godchaux left the band, dying in a car accident shortly thereafter. Godchaux got the job when original keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan died in 1973.

Wow, two piano men in Heaven this weekend. You just KNOW the place is going to be swinging!

But if you do, do it in Hawaii. "Lost" actress Michelle Rodriguez was recently sentenced to 60 days in jail due to a drunk driving conviction. However, 4 1/2 hours after she began her sentence she was released. When questioned the DA said that often times non-violent criminals have their sentences reduced because of the over crowding of jails. Good thing she didn't kill anybody, she may have had to cancel that late dinner date.

Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway
Directed by: Randal Kleiser

FIRST SEEN: Austin Cinema, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE LINE: "You can't walk out of a drive in!"
FAVORITE SCENE: the "Greased Lightning" number

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song - "Hopelessly Devoted to You" by John Farrar
  • Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy), Best Actor - Musical/Comedy (Travolta), Best Actress - Musical/Comedy (Newton-John) and two for Best Original Song - "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (John Farrar) and "Grease" (Barry Gibb)

    June 16, 1978 was a banner day for me and my movie geek friends. That day we anticipated the arrival of two films, "Jaws 2" and "Grease." Of course, "Jaws 2" took precedent and we spent that Friday watching all five shows of it. But, to make things even, the next day we hit the theatre and caught five showings of "Grease."

    Coming off the success of "Saturday Night Fever," John Travolta was the hottest thing in Hollywood. Travolta had traveled with the show in the early '70s and had even played Kenickie on Broadway. Apparently he liked the role so much that, after he was hired to play Danny Zucko, he arranged to have Danny sing "Greased Lightning," a song performed by Kenickie on stage. Released as a single, "Greased Lightning" was a hit but nowhere as big as the first song released, the Travolta/Newton-John duet "You're the One That I Want." As the song was released before the film opened, I must admit that for weeks I thought Travolta was singing, "I've got SHOES, they're multiplying!" And I'll also admit right here that myself, Matt, Rick Sousa and others would do the "Greased Lightning" moves when we heard the song on the radio. Sorry guys. I can still remember talking Scott Gilbert into seeing the film by telling him that there was some great animation at the beginning. Of course it sucked but Scott liked the film anyway. I also remember that prior to the film they would run a great film tribute clip featuring Lynryd Skynyrd. The band's plane had crashed the previous October, killing six members.

    As a phenomenon, "Grease" is still the word. In 1983 Paramount released "Grease 2," starring Adrian Zmed and a then unknown Michelle Pfeiffer. Though the film didn't do well I actually like it. The show returned to Broadway in the 1990s and played there for several years. And, of course, it is still performed live all over the country. One of my proudest possessions is a program from the early 70s touring company that had been autographed by the cast. On the back is a signature by the actor playing Doody in the show - 19 year old John Travolta.

    Next week I'll look at the film we DID see on June 16th - JAWS 2.

    Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.