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Piano Heroes

Piano Heroes


Rock’n’roll is built on the electric guitar...well, mostly...and not really in the fact, the electric guitar as we know it, didn’t have much to do with the birth of rock at all... The earliest rock evolved out of rhythm & blues the early 50s, many of them featured some kind of electric guitars...but the honk and rhythm came from saxophones and pianos which were slowly pounded into matchsticks... The piano contributed bits of jazz, boogie-woogie, barrelhouse, and juke-joint energy...and even through the 1950s, the construct known as the “guitar hero” was largely absent from the world of rock’n’roll—outside of chuck berry, of course...  Instead, the early pioneers were piano heroes...Little Richard...Jerry Lee Lewis...Fats Domino...Ray Charles...Huey “piano” Smith...  But when guitars got louder, started sounding dirtier, and began to wail more powerfully, the number of rock’n’roll piano heroes were outgunned and began to recede into the background...not entirely, though... Again, I’m talking just about pianos...none of this fancy synthesizer stuff... Elton John, Billy Joel, and Carole King have had massive careers based largely on piano songs...the Beatles—especially Paul McCartney—served the cause...Freddie Mercury of Queen wrote much of their greatest songs on piano... There are others...Leon Russell, Mike Garson (who played with Bowie for years), Chuck Liddell (a favourite of the Rolling Stones), Dr. John, Billy Preston, Stevie Wonder, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake and Palmer... But you notice what’s missing from that list?...any piano heroes from the world of alt-rock...does even such a thing exist?...actually, yes...they’re a bit hard to spot, but they’re out—let me show you... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
From 1964 to 1966, The Beatles played only a handful of shows in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Each show was pandemonium but the story of the Beatles in Canada goes far beyond that. From their first visit to Canada in Winnipeg, to the famous Bed-In in Montreal in 1969. Support: Donate: Donate: (Click Donate) E-mail: Twitter: Tiktok: YouTube: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Being a music fan was much different in the era before the traveled slowly often passed through many filters—so many filters, in fact, that a tremendous amount of information was either stripped out or drastically altered by the time it reached us... This was never more true in cases when something awful happened—like, say, someone dying...think back to all the confusion and speculation and conspiracy theories that popped up in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death... Three years later, we encountered something was another suicide—maybe...and for much of the world, this death was treated as a tabloid story because of some speculative and some very lurid details involving the three key elements: sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll.. But for others, especially in Australia, this death was a very big deal and extremely had such an impact that a quarter of century later, fans are still talking about what may (or may not) have happened in a luxury hotel suite in Sydney on November 22, 1997...  This is the story of inxs and the death of Michael Hutchence... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In the old days before the internet, musicians had an aura of mystique about them...we only knew what they wanted us to know or what music writers could ferret was an era of secrets and information that was kept quiet... Now, though, things are different...because of social media and our always-on culture, information is everywhere...artists have never given up as much personal information as they do today...too much information, sometimes...  We don’t want our heroes to be life size...the reason we admire them in the first place is because they seem to operate on a plane higher than us...they’ve got a special talent that affects us not just emotionally but occasionally, spiritually...  What, then, do we make of things when we hear our favourite artist is human and fallible like the rest of us and suffer from health problems?...I’ve seen two reactions...  One is a disbelief that they’re mortal...don’t they have some kind of superpowers that keep them free from sickness and disease?...we might have a hard time accepting that...  The second reaction is that such challenges humanize them... You know: “hey, they’re like the rest of us...I can relate”...perhaps this knowledge intensifies our relationship with that person...  And if the artist is open and honest about their condition, it can be inspiring...maybe even by talking about what they’re facing, they can help other people with the same challenges keep moving forward...this, I think, is the real value in the personal health information they share...  Here is part two of a program featuring musicians who have had to deal with disease... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The human body is a wonderful thing, a marvel of evolution, biology, chemistry, and more than a few bits—like consciousness—we don’t understand...and for the most part, this meat bag of water and chemicals works pretty well... But it’s not perfect...we will continue to age as long as we can’t figure out how to improve the reproduction of telomeres, those little strands of special proteins at the end of our chromosomes...after many, many reproductions, they become ratty and degrade, which has a bad effect on our DNA and leads to the symptoms of aging... We’re susceptible to infections by bacteria and invasions by viruses...and sometimes there are things within our own bodies that turn on us, resulting in cancer and other diseases... However, this is all part of’s still we gotta deal with...and because musicians made of the same stuff as us, we often hear of the health issues that befall this sense, they are just like you and me... What we’re going to do is look at 25 musicians who have health issues, how these challenges have affected their music, and how they’re managing to keep on keeping on, despite the difficulties... There are some stories of bravery and inspiration here—and maybe, just maybe, these stories will help someone...this is part one of musicians battling disease... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the music industry has a reputation of being unkind to has been a struggle from the beginning...and even after decades of work, things have evolved to the point where less than a quarter of the acts on some music charts are women... The actual figure for the billboard hot 100 is around 22%...and it’s been stuck at that level for over a decade... I found a few more stats...if we look at that same decade-long period, women made up only 13% of songwriters...and if we look at female producers and engineers, the number is less than other words, gender parity is a long way off... So yeah, it’s tough out there and it needs to get better...fortunately, there have always been women driven to make it regardless of the obstacles and difficulties in their way...they want to remake the world of music to make it more inclusive and, in some cases, have forced it to bend to their will...this has been true since the dawn of recorded music until today... In fact, what today’s female artists lack in sheer numbers, they make up for in power and’s tally up some of the women who are changing the game in the 21st century... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Once upon a time not that long ago, all music was expected to sound clean and clear. Pure, accurate, right in tune. And lo, it was…fine.  But with the introduction of the electric guitar and the amplifiers that went with them, some intrepid players started experimenting with ways to toughen up that sound. They wanted more power, more growl, more rawness. And over a period of about 20 years, the clean, pure sound of the original electric guitars gave way to something dirty, distorted, filled with harmonics, and various amounts of feedback and noise.  What was once considered undesirable, irritating, excruciating noise is now looked upon as beauty.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Rock Explainer 2

Rock Explainer 2


There’s the La Tomatina festival that happens on the last Wednesday in August in Spain...this is the largest public tomato fight in the world...first of all, why would you do this on a Wednesday?...and second, this seems like an awful waste of food... No one is really sure where this tradition began, either...we think it started in 1945 when there was a brawl in the main square and one of the few weapons available were the tomatoes on carts of the vegetable stands... They do something weird in Denmark, too...if you’re 25 years old and it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re single, your family and friends are supposed to throw cinnamon at one really knows why or when this started...but it is a thing... And how about this...there’s a temple called Sir Saneswar in India...there is a tradition whereby parents who were married at this temple throw their newborn babies from the top of the’s a 50-foot drop...the baby is caught by people holding a big cloth below...I’m sure there are reasons for this, but they all escape me... Let’s segue to this...rock music has been around long enough—three-quarters of a century—that some we’ve developed some weird habits and behaviors, things that we do just because... We engage in this behavior or do these things because everyone else is doing it...and if you were to ask around a reason why, no one would have a good just accept this thing—whatever it is—as part of the culture... But what if you really, really want to know?...what if you just can’t take someone’s word that this is what’s supposed to be done?...that’s where this program comes in...This is another edition of something I call “the rock explainer”... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Humanity has always been set by disasters, whether they’ve been acts of god or something we somehow brought on ourselves...war, disease, earthquakes, famine, floods, volcanic eruptions, fire, plane crashes, industrial accidents, sinking ships, extreme weather... The worst disaster of all time?...probably the influenza epidemic of 1918 to’s possible that up to 100 million died during that three-year period... Then again, world war ii was some estimates, the death toll was 120 million...and the black death of the 14th century was may have claimed up to 200 million lives or about 20% of the population of the planet... Then there the kinds of things that happen when people are supposed to be having fun...on February 14, 2004, the roof of an indoor waterpark in Moscow collapsed, killing 28 people... On December 8, 1863, up to 3,000 people were killed in a fire at a church celebration in Santiago, Chile... Or how about this: sometime around the year 283, a wall at Circus Maximus, the chariot-racing stadium in Rome’s said that 13,000 spectators died...and that happened about 150 years after a previous collapse where there were around 1500 deaths... The universe is gonna do what the universe is gonna can be as careful as humanly possible yet still get caught up in something awful... This applies to the world of rock, has seen its own situations where there has been loss of life...they need to remembered and memorialized to we can minimize the chances of these things ever happen again... This is a list of rock’s greatest disasters... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
This is a program about the hidden audio that lurks in your music collection. You don’t know about it…you didn’t ask for it…you maybe didn’t even want it…but it’s there…and it needs to be exposed… And it’s more than just hidden songs, too…there’s all kinds of weirdness tucked away—if you know where to look…and when I say “weird”, I mean “super weird” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Once upon a time, musical instruments were divided into two groups: those appropriate for women to play and everything else...  That first group was very small...playing the piano was considered feminine...the violin?...yes, providing it was done gently and with ladylike comportment...and then—well, that’s about it... Drums?...forget it...too physical and sweaty...brass instruments were fact, so were all wind instruments, not even the flute...however, the acoustic guitar was wasn’t very loud and produced tones delicate enough to be appropriate for a young lady to play...  This, of course, was silly...women had been doing amazing things with guitars stretching back to the invention of what became the modern acoustic guitar back in the early 1800s..and we can go back through the stringed instruments in history: the lute, the kithara, the chartar, the tanbur, the oud, the mandolin, the cittern, and so on...women played all of them—although we know almost nothing about them... That’s the way it was for decades...and let’s not even talk about the electric guitar...even as late as the 1980s, there was this sexist attitude that girls just couldn’t play like the boys...they did not know how to rock out with a Les Paul or a strat or whatever... In 2003, Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all know how many women were on that list?...two...two! Today we know that’s crazy...there are plenty of excellent guitars with double-x chromosomes...and thanks to them, people are exploring the history of the guitar heroine, women advanced the cause of the six-string, public preconceptions be damned...   This is a look back at the women who made the guitar sing... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
There was a time in this country when Canadians didn’t really care about Canadian, wait...let’s start over... There was a time in this country when Canadians didn’t like Canadian music and did whatever they could to ignore it and pretend it didn’t exist...yeah, that’s more accurate... There was one exception to this rule: if a Canadian artist received some kind of validation from outside the country—preferably the united states—then suddenly, they were worth paying attention to at home... It was a mix of insecurity and what I believe are Canada’s two unofficial mottos...the first is “why can’t you be happy with what you have?”...the other is “who do you think you are? think you’re better than everyone else?”... That’s harsh, but it’s true...and for years, ambitious, talented Canadian musicians flowed south to seek their fortune in America...Paul Anka...Neil Young...Joni Mitchell... And yes, there were those who remained in Canada—Gordon Lightfoot is one...The Guess Who is another—but they really weren’t fully accepted at home until they had a hit in America...suddenly, the attitude swung 180 degrees?... “them?...oh, yeah they’re one of us!”... This is the way it was for several decades—a frustrating situation for countless musicians... But then things started to warm up a bit in the 1980s...and by the time the 90s arrived, attitudes towards homegrown talent had swung in the other direction...not only were Canadian music fans loving Canadian bands, Canadian music being heard all over the world...wait—let’s try that again, too...Canadian music was in demand all over the world... Some have called this the great Can-Rock revolution of the 1990s...and it changed’s how it all started... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years dealing with musicians, there are artists and then there are’s how I tell them apart...Artists make art, but they also have other interests, pursuits and abilities...Bono is an example of an artist...he’s the front man of U2 but is also involved in politics, activism, tech, and a load of other things...and everything he does is done with an artistic flair and the soul of a performer... Artistes also make art...but it’s all they fact, it’s all they can do...they live to create art and are often not very good at anything fact—to put a fine point on it—they may be hopeless at life in general... That’s not a judgment or a’s just how their brains are wired...they are on this earth with an almost supernatural ability to do nothing but create beauty through art... But this power comes with pitfalls......they might have trouble with day to day tasks like handling money, shopping for groceries, keeping a schedule, or being able to deal with everyday social situations... They may suffer from depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder...they may be on the autism spectrum...and they may be prone to addictions: alcohol, drugs, sex...and if they managed to become well-known for their art, the insane pressure, crazy schedules, hedonistic lifestyle, and living in a bubble of fame can exacerbate things until—well, until things get very, very bad... I’ve met a few such artistes in my life—and in my experience, there is no better example than John Frusciante, who, of course, is best known for his work in the Red Hot Chili Peppers... His life, both in and out of the band—and he’s joined three times and quit twice—has been very long and strange...this is part two of that journey.... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
And if I’m sitting with my taxonomy flowchart, this is where I write the name “John Frusciante,” the occasional guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers... And I use the word “occasional” deliberately because he’s been in and out of the band a number of times over the last 30 I write this, he’s “in”—but who knows for how long... And I’m classifying him as periplaneta americana because despite everything he’s been through, he’s still alive...I mean, he’s live a hard life...drugs, various health problems both of the physical and mental variety—even dabbling in the occult...yet through it all, he’s been able to help the Chili Peppers create the best music of their career... This is the long, strange trip of John Frusciante... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The most powerful and strangest lump of organic material in the known universe is sitting inside your skull...the human brain weighs about three pounds—call it about 1400 grams if you’re feeling metric—and contains about 10 billion neurons...a piece the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and over a billion synapses... At the same time, it uses only about 10 watts to function...that’s ten times better than your laptop...and one brain (we think) is equivalent to at least 100,000 laptops when it comes to computing power...  Even then, it can do things no computer can do, no matter how big...that thing in your head could have a storage capacity of perhaps up to 2.5 petabytes, although no one knows for sure fact, the capacity of the brain might be unlimited...not bad for something that’s 60% fat... There is no obvious biological reason for it, but our brains seem to be hardwired for music...there are special areas of the brain devoted just to deal with music... Maybe this is a result of our ancient ancestors trying to imitate could be related to language...maybe it has something to do with storytelling...details are sometimes easier to remember if they’re put to music...or maybe music developed along with religious rituals and chants... Because the way music is wired into the brain, it’s a very useful tool when it comes to figuring out how that 10-watt lump of fat in our skulls work...and sometimes we learn things that are completely unexpected and almost always totally wonderful... Let me show are some mind-blowing facts about music, the brain, and the body... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Have you ever heard of a woman named Rosalind Franklin?...probably not, but you can draw a line from today’s covid vaccines all the way back to her in the 1950s...she conducted some serious research into the makeup of rna molecules... Rosalind also did some groundbreaking research into the structure of DNA molecules...without her, Jim Watson and Francis Crick may not have discovered how DNA was constructed...they’d go on to win the Nobel prize in 1962...was Rosalind ever given the credit she deserved? What about grace hopper?...ring any bells?...back in the 1940s, lieutenant Grace Hopper invented some computer programming techniques used by the army during World War II…this was the basis of Cobol, the compute language still used by business, finance, and administrative software today... Let’s try Susan’s the one who came up with the trash can icon and the command key on mac computers...she was integral to making the mac operating system as user-friendly as possible... Okay, here’s a name you may know: Hedy Lamar...famous actress from old Hollywood in the 30s and 40s and one-time date of Howard Hughes, right?...but she also worked with a guy named George Antheil to come up with a radio “frequency hopping” technology that made today’s Wi-Fi, cellular phones, Bluetooth, and gps communications fact, some call Hedy Lamar “the mother of Wi-Fi”...but does she get the appropriate credit for that?...nope... Those are just a few unsung heroines of technology...their work changed the world...and there are so many more in other fields, too...back in the late 1800s, Nellie Bly became the first investigative female journalist...effa Manley was the first woman to own a sports team...that was back in the 1930s...Beulah Henry was nicknamed “Lady Edison” because she was such a prolific inventor... And while we all know about Joan of Arc, what about Matilda of Tuscany?...she had a 40-year military career who successfully led troops against the Holy Roman Emperor again and again almost a thousand years ago...these are just a few unsung heroines from history... There are similar stories from the world of music: women who changed so much but have been given so little credit...let’s see if we can’t do a little bit to fix that... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
If the doomsayers are correct, something monumental–something transformative–is going to happen on December 21, 2012...this is the day the b’ak’tun cycle ends... The Mayan long count calendar runs out...after 5,125 years, it comes to an end date...what will happen next is up for debate... It could be the end of the world...Earth may collide with Nibiru, its long-hidden nemesis planet...some say a black hole may swallow us up...a catastrophic shift in the polar magnetic fields... Others believe we will achieve some kind of spiritual enlightenment, which will usher humankind into a new era of peace... Or maybe nothing will happen...okay, so maybe we’ll get another bad John Cusack movie on the subject...that’s not good and the prospect is admittedly frightening–but it’s just a movie... History has shown that humans are really, really bad at predicting the apocalypse with any degree of certainty... I, however, have another theory...I believe that there may be a fundamental shift on planet earth around the time of December 21, 2012...and it has to do with rock music... No, no–stay with me on this...I’m not crazy...or at least, I might not be...I hope not... This is the fifteenth and final chapter of a series I call “the complete history of alt-rock”... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
To fans of any kind of rock, may 18, 1999, seemed like the end of the world...the Backstreet Boys released their new cd called Millennium...on that first day, it sold more than 500,000 the end of the week, it had sold 1,134,000, a new all-time sales record... And those are just the u.s. Numbers...add in the rest of the world and the total was much higher... And it was only going to get twice as bad...just 308 days later, ‘N sync–another blood boy band–set an even scarier the end of its first week in the stores, their No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million copies... And just 56 days after that, Britney Spears sold half a million copies of Oops!...I Did It Again on day one and 1,319,193 in its first seven days.... When the dust cleared at the end of 2000, it was clear that vacuous pop music had taken over the universe...these CDs weren’t just selling by the tens of millions....they were selling by the hundreds of millions... In second place was rap and hip-hop, thanks to people like Eminem, Nelly and Dr. Dre...the biggest selling rock records of the year were from Sreed, Santana and a Beatles r compilation that featured songs that were more than 35 years old... The prognosis wasn’t good...if rock–all rock–wasn’t dead, it was at least very, very ill...and unless somebody did something, it looked like it was all over... This is chapter 14 of the complete history of alt-rock... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
If you were around in the early 90s, you probably remember it as a time of awesome new seemed that every single day, there was a cool new band, a great new sound, a scene you didn’t know about... Grunge was king with nirvana and Soundgarden and pearl day and offspring had brought punk back...Manchester led into Britpop with Oasis and the Stone Roses Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Tool, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, all these bands and more grabbed everyone’s metal was dead!....classic rock?  Over!....Lollapalooza was the coolest event of the year... The alternative nation had triumphed! more bad, boring, mainstream pop and rock!... Well, hang on...rock music has always run in a series of cycles that can be traced back to the 1950s...we’ll get into that later, but all I need to say is “what goes up must come down”...and the alt-rock party came down...hard...and it hurt... This is chapter 13 of the complete history of alt-rock... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
It is almost impossible for anyone from a lightweight boy band to transition to serious, respected artist…it can be done—we can look at Justin Timberlake and, um…well, we can look at Justin Timberlake…. And as tough as that is, it’s even more difficult to move from being pigeonholed as a novelty act to one that carries gravitas and serious artistic merit…yet that’s what the beastie boys managed to do… No one took them seriously for the first eight years of their career…they were spoiled, snotty frat boys writing goofy songs and making funny videos… “Licensed to Ill” was a parody of hip hop…a good one, but a still a parody…let’s not forget that “Rolling Stone” described the album as “three idiots make a masterpiece”… But then something changed…The Beastie Boys grew up…they grew as artists…they grew as businessmen…they grew as humans… They took risks…they experimented…they branched out…they sought to make a difference—not just in music but in the world…and by the time it all came to an end with the death of Adam Yauch in the spring of 2012, The Beastie Boys had cemented a reputation as one the most important bands of not one but at least two generations… This is remembering The Beastie Boys, part 2. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (62)

Jeffrey Danilko

Love the shows, but way too many ads over the last year. Especially with the same ad read 3 times in a row

Jul 30th

Adam Winters

Love this show, Its hard to find quality, informative, music analysis and this show does it effectively. Its short, but its all substance, and never feels like your time is wasted. Dont know if its polite to ask - but if i may, and if deemed in the best interest of the show of course, ive been fascinated by Kate Bush, Romeo Void, Device (Holly Knight/Paul Engemann/ Gene Black), Mr Mister, solo Belinda Carslile/Jane Wiedin, Falco... Sure theres wiki, but they dont do it like the show does it. Appreciate your show.

May 13th

Genevieve Cleopatra est un site spécialisé dans la fourniture de sonneries 2022 pour téléphones. Ici, vous pouvez télécharger une liste de sonneries gratuites: Sonneries Samsung, Sonneries iPhone, Sonneries musicales, Sonneries SMS, Sonneries POP.

Feb 26th


Ad reads seem a little strange on this one, but excellent as always. I could not care less about The Tragically Hip yet here I am listening to this whole episode and loving it. Alan is the best!

Aug 25th

Phil Elliott

Did he say No Effect!?

Jun 10th

DJ Dar

As a retired on air personality, and club dj, I cant express my appreciation enough.for this pod......Thankyou

May 27th

Brady Prenzlow

iugd54sgggllllft yfftDrrr tu1gr1w51sdfft5rdfsrfr

May 1st

gary fowler

no mention of Toots Hibbert. wow.

Apr 18th

Jacqueline M

I've been waiting on an episode like this for a long, long time. Thank you :)

Feb 23rd

M Morr

this was so amazing. thank for the work that went into this. I really enjoyed thi podcasts. may even listen a second time.

Nov 1st

Stanley Pon

Great Podcast

Sep 5th

blue boot

great pod sir. love the alt rock history

Apr 9th


I love this podcast! This one was filled with random fun facts!

Feb 27th

Adam Greenwold

interesting show, I enjoy these 'join the dots' shows. We could do with another punk revival, music is a bit soft at the moment. Even listening to The Edge Alternate music station music seems to have lost it's edge, or I'm listening in the wpmg places so feel free to suggest of to new music with a bit more bite. Bad Religion's latest offering Age of Unreason is good, but what about new bands?

Feb 26th
Reply (1)

Michael George

Joe Satriani is metal??? bwahahahaha

Dec 29th

Bruce Taylor

this is awesome, I have learnt so much thank you

Nov 21st

Keith Dowling

Absolutely love this podcast. Thank you Mr. Cross.

Nov 18th

Mathew Gehlsen

Could you do a part on the life of Joe Bonmassa? He has worked and collaborated with great musicians. Love the podcast. Running out of stuff to listen to😃

Oct 12th

Glen Culbert

You've done so many genres.... What about Oi ???

Aug 25th


05:42 Wood died in 1990.

Aug 16th
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