Monday, May 22, 2017

Fifty Tons of Shit

In May of 1977 Genesis released a three songs EP called Spot The Pigeon, the last studio release to feature guitarist Steve Hackett. Hackett's "Inside and Out" is the most prog-rock tune on the EP, taking up the entire second side. Classic Genesis.

The first side is made up of two pop songs, a clear sign of where Genesis was heading (the UK #7 /US #23 hit "Follow You Follow Me" was nine months away). The tunes are not concerned with the subjects that drove Peter Gabriel to grab his pen. "Match of the Day" is about hooliganism at a soccer match and "Pigeons" is about...pigeon poop. 

"Pigeons is fun," says Tony Banks in Dave Thompson's Turn It Off Again: Peter Gabriel , Phil Collins and Genesis. "It was really a little experiment to try and do a song around one note really. It's a good little song from that period really. I like it"

The EP was a popular item in its day, climbing to #14 in the U.K. singles chart despite little play by the BBC.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hey Hey Is Artie Home?

They were the New York punkers who supposedly wore neckties so they could tie themselves down for injections.  Legend has it that it was The Heartbreakers who introduced heroin to the U.K. punk scene, but Jayne County --among others--disputes that story. 

Johnny Thunders did NOT introduce junk to the kids of London! Everybody was either on sulphate or junk when I got there and Iggy was a known junky! Also, everyone knew about Lou Reed's junk problem. And they all knew about the junk songs of the Velvet Underground. If anyone in London made junk cool, it was Iggy and Lou Reed, and that is also highly debatable!

Who wrote "Chinese Rocks"? On L.A.M.F, The Heartbreakers debut album, the writing credit went to Richard Hell, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders, and Jerry Nolan ( the latter two former members of The New York Dolls). Years later Hell and Ramone agreed that Dee Dee Ramone wrote most of the song in Debbie Harry's apartment.

The reason I wrote that song was out of spite for Richard Hell, because he told me he was going to write a song better than Lou Reed's "Heroin", so I went home and wrote 'Chinese Rocks'.

The B side, "Born To Lose", is another great song, very much in the New York Dolls tradition. The Heartbreakers burned brightly and flamed out quickly, but what they've left behind is classic stuff.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Reality's So Hard

On May 20, 1977 The Jam released its debut album, the UK Top 20 hit  In The City. As drummer Rick Butler noted in his memoir That's Entertainment, In The City was an attempt to capture the energetic band's live sound.The tight trio only needed eleven days to make the album, one of my favorites of theirs.

Among the most memorable tunes is "Away From the Numbers", the shoulda-been-a single track. Rick Butler again:

Rick Butler again:

"Away From the Numbers" did have something to do with The Who--The Who By Numbers, their album, and their early name, The High Numbers. The song had loads of Who influences in it. I think that song showed us scratching away at that particular heritage. It was all linked to the sixties mod thing. This was the track that we struggled with the most to record, taking a few takes to get it right. I'm not sure we even played it live before we recorded it; we didn't play it much live after either. I mean by the time In The City was up and running we had started working on Modern World as so there were always newer songs that found their way into the set.

The high energy set was infectious, captivating critics across the pond. Among them Robert Christgau who gave the album an A- rating:

Here we find an English hard-rock trio who wear short hair and dark suits, say "fuck" a lot, and sound rather like The Who Sing My Generation, even mentioning James Brown in one song. They also claim a positive social attitude--no police state in the U.K., but no anarchy either. Is this some kind of put-up job, pseudo-punk with respect for the verities? Could be, but it doesn't matter. When they complain that Uncle Jimmy the "red balloon" (or is it "reveloo"?) never walks home at night, they've got his number, but when they accuse him of sleeping between silk sheets they're just blowing someone else's hot air. In the end, they could go either way--or both. In the meantime, though, they blow me out. These boys can put a song together; they're both powerful enough to subsume their sources and fresh enough to keep me coming back for more. 

But the band would make its biggest impact in England where the NME 's Phil McNeill called The Jam "the acceptable face of punk rock" :

The Jam´s commercial potential is enormous. Their music and image and even their infectious teen-orientated ‘rebel’ lyrical pose are sufficiently attractive for them to popularise New Wave to the extent where it becomes meaningless ... 

 Weller´s chording is inspired, he skitters in early Townshend feedback licks with ease, he layers his guitar in a way that should be an object lesson to Wilko Johnson -- he´s just amazing ... his songs capture that entire teen frustration vibe with the melodic grace and dynamic aplomb of early Kinks and Who ... 

 Weller´s got a pretty good voice, a little like Cockney Arthur Lee ... the casual poetic edge works better than sloganeering ... 

 The acceptable face of punk rock indeed. Face it.

And from Melody Maker's Brian Harrigan :

The Jam bear no relation to the mass conception of punk ... part of today´s extensive musical reaction against the dinosaur bands who have dominated rock ... 

 Obvious that they have a great deal in common with The Who ... considerably more than copyists ... have produced tightly composed and performed songs ... 

 The Weller composed songs are anything but an embarrassement, he has a deft touch that places his material on a much higher plateau ... 

 Aggressive choked off vocal and even a reference to James Brown which in itself underlines the commitment to the spirit of the early Sixties ... 

Lay down your prejudices and give them a try -- they´re guaranteed not to disappoint.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Doggie's Dinner

In May of 1977, Stiff Records released its first EP, Nick Lowe's Bowi. As you may know, this was Nick's way of getting a laugh after Bowie released Low (without an E) in January. If Bowie could do that to Lowe, why shouldn't Lowe pay him back?

The third track is one's of Nick's very best. Marie Provost was a real person, a silent film star who died of acute alcohol poisoning at the age of 38. Her body was found two days later thanks to the incessant barking of her dachshund, Maxie. In his popular book, Hollywood Babylon, Kenneth Anger reported that Provost's hungry dog "made mincemeat out of his mistress". But that claime has since been proven false. Still...what a great song!

The rest of the EP is made up of "Born a Woman", first recorded by Sandy Posey in 1966 and written by Martha Sharp. "Shake That Rat" is rollicking instrumental with Lowe crushing it on bass. Finally there's "Endless Sleep", later covered by Leo Kottke.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Don't Call a Doctor

I discovered this beauty on a deep dive through the Opium Hum blog, and only learned recently that The Players Association debut was actually a pretty popular album in its time. It danced its way into the Top 40 Jazz album chart ( thanks to all the flute, sax and trumpet solos) and even made its way into the Top 30 Black albums chart thanks in large part to their disco/jazz take of the Diana Ross #1 smash "Love Hangover". Drummer Chris Hills led the New York City based band. Jazz musicians would swing by to fill in here and there. That's Return to Forever veteran Joe Farrell playing flute on "Love Hangover", which was a popular tune at the discos in 1977.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When Love is the Question

In May of 1977 The Brothers Gibb released a double live album, all recorded on December 20, 1976 at the LA Forum. Here at Last Bee Gees ...Live would sell five million copies worldwide, but would stand as a mere footnote to what was to come.

After mixing the live album, and dubbing in whatever fixes they needed, The Bee Gees and their band recorded a few new songs at the Château d'Hérouville  for a low budget film originally entitled Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night, produced by RSO chief Robert Stigwood. Released in December of 1977, Saturday Night Fever would be a massive hit with a soundtrack selling 15 million units.

I was one of those who received the soundtrack for Christmas. I wanted to explore the Bee Gees back catalog and I think this was the only album I could find. It may not be the most rocking live album ever recorded. In fact it may be the least. But it's enjoyable-- a smart mix of their disco hits, near hits and medleys from their 60s era hits. Let the other guys listen to Double Live Gonzo, I have more fun revisiting this magical evening.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

All Hopped Up And Ready To Go

On May 15, four days before The Ramones European tour landed in Liverpool, the band's "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" had debuted at #35 in the UK pop charts. The Ramones would play 27 of their 148 shows that year in the U.K., racing through nearly thirty songs a night. The band must have been relieved when they finally arrived in a country where English is spoken. 

"It's not like America,"Johnny Ramone told Lisa Robinson who recalls the conversation in There Goes Gravity. "I miss home. We can't find lasagna or ravioli, and I miss milk. All the milk has stuff floating in it."

"The Ramones were like Archie Bunker at the Vatican," said one observer on the tour. 

The Ramones toured with supporting act, Talking Heads, who had just released the single "Love -> Building On Fire" and loved touring Europe. "Everything is so scenic," remarked David Byrne.

 But, Joey Ramone says, Talking Heads did not go over with the gobbing punk crowd.

"On our second trip over in '77 it was us and Talking Heads...Erics...I don't think The Heads went down too well there - too rowdy a bunch, they wanted to rumble with the Ramones. Talking Heads were too intellectual for that crowd."

One interesting note : In early June at a London show Talking Heads would met future producer Brian Eno, so taken by the band he would write "King's Lead Hat", an anagram for Talking Heads.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Walking on the Beaches

On May 15, 1977 The Stranglers most controversial single ,"Peaches", entered the UK charts at #37. The misogynistic, voyeuristic single would be one of the most notorious hits of the Summer of '77, peaking at #8. Hugh Cornwell is still taking a lot of crap about the tongue in cheek lyrics. It probably didn't help that he told one interviewer "I love putting women on a you can see up their skirts"or that guitarist John Ellis added "We love women's movements...especially underneath us."

Well I got the notion girl that you got some suntan lotion in that bottle of yours 
Spread it all over my peelin' skin, baby 
That feels real good 
All this skirt lappin' up the sun 
 Lap me up 
Why don't you come on and lap me up?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Rocking the Casbah


By May of 1977 The Undertones has become the band to see at The Casbah, in the Irish band's hometown of Derry. By mid-year their set would include future UK Top 40 hit  and John Peel all time favorite song"Teenage Kicks", but an eight song bootlegged set shows the band covering the likes of the Velvet Underground (There She Goes Again) , The Heartbreakers (All By Myself) and The Ramones (Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue). They're not yet he Undertones we would come to know and  love, but Feargal Sharkey has already got the helium voice happening and the O'Neill brothers rock out like mad.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Future of Music

On May 13, 1977 Donna Summer released the strangely uneven concept album I Remember Yesterday. Side One featured a collection of disco songs done in the styles of popular songs from the 1940s -50s and 60s. Never mind all that! The album also included, on its futuristic Side Two, the UK#1/US#6 smash "I Feel Love", a nearly six minute floor filler so out of sight Brian Eno called it "The Future of Music".

David Bowie tells the story:

One day in Berlin ... Eno came running in and said, "I have heard the sound of the future." ... he puts on "I Feel Love," by Donna Summer ... He said, "This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years." Which was more or less right.

Forty years later it still sounds like something from the future, an almost alien take on electronic dance music. Incredibly monotonous and incredibly sophisticated all at the same time, with Summer breathing life into this artificial ear worm.

  Loyal readers know I've only recently rediscovered the joy of the terrific trio Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. back in '77 I wouldn't be caught dead listening to disco. Today I'm a huge fan of the good stuff. There really is good disco out there. And "I Feel Love" is the best of them all.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Gurls Gurls Gurls

Far too many people said "No" to the question posed by Memphis power poppers The Scuffs on the title of their 1977 debut album "Wanna' Meet The Scuffs?". And they missed out. Songwriter Stephen Burns and axeman Dave Branyan team up on some scorchers that take their cues from both Cleveland's Raspberries and the rockers by hometown heroes Big Star. The single "Break the Ice" got some local airplay.

 Village Voice critic Robert Christgau was an early fan, giving the debut an A- and writing 

Only a sucker for rock and roll could love this record, and I am that sucker. A middle-period Beatles extrapolation in the manner of Big Star (another out-of-step Memphis power-pop group on a small, out-of-step Memphis label), it bursts with off harmonies, left hooks, and jolts of random energy. The trouble is, these serve a shamelessly and perhaps permanently post-adolescent vision of life's pain, most of which would appear to involve gurls. To which objection the rockin' formalist in me responds, "I wanna hear `Revenge' again".

In the forty years that have followed, this debut has become a power pop classic. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ridin' High

Steve Miller Band : Jet  Airliner

In May of 1977 Steve Miller Band released its tenth album. Book of Dreams was recorded at the same time as Fly Like an Eagle, and, like its twin,  contains just as many radio friendly hits and synthesizer noodlings .  Naturally it went triple platinum in the United States.

It is interesting to me that the first single, the US Top 10 hit "Jet Airliner", isn't an original Steve Miller song but a cover of a four year old tune by keyboardist Ben Sidran's buddy, Paul Pena. Royalties from the single were sometimes Pena's only source of income for the rest of his life.

Rolling Stone's Frank Rose wrote this positive review of Book of Dreams:

There are so many nice things you could say about the new Steve Miller album. You could say, for instance, that it sounds great turned way up loud, with its full-tilt rhythms propelling you into some kind of bright crystal space. You could talk about how open the sound is, how porous and rich, and how sunny and downright friendly Miller's voice sounds. You could rap endlessly about the skillful use of modern recording technique to achieve exciting textural effects. But the important thing to say, and it ought to be done straightaway, is how dazzlingly appropriate this music would be if it were coupled with some videotape of West Coast hang gliders used for a Pepsi commercial. 

 To those who have been dismayed by the progress of the Beach Boys' more or less grotesque attempts at a creative comeback, the recent commercial success of such journeymen survivors as Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac and Steve Miller is a heartening sign. It means that laid-back rock and no-thought lyrics can still be had in something other than the dude-ranch space-out of such L.A. hustlers as Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles. What is at stake is the future of open-highway rock. The success of Frampton, Mac and Miller -- especially Mac and Miller -- means the genre is not being abandoned to the cosmic cowpokes

This is important for variety's sake, and also because the cowpokes' vision of life as some sort of sun-drenched avocado sandwich seems essentially wrong. With the Beach Boys unsteady on their lurch toward reality, it's up to people like Miller to attempt the mindlessly breezy music the whole world wants and not even Paul McCartney can deliver every time. But this is tricky business; you can't just retread the old Beach Boys stuff. They preached fun to a generation that was opening up; Miller has to preach fun to a generation that's closing in.

 Miller has a strong nesting instinct. His idea of fun is apparently a combination of rural isolation and independence and happy domesticity. As the title of an album that's mostly filled with songs about love, his Book of Dreams is not much different from a hope chest. In "Swingtown," he coos, "Come on and dance/Let's make some romance." In "Jet Airliner" and "My Own Space" (neither of them his own compositions, it's true) he sings about the need for a home and the pain of leaving it. Then there's "True Fine Love," in which he really alters his pitch: "So come on pretty baby," he sings this time, "we're going to raise a family."

This pretty well sums up what Miller has to say. Most of his energies have apparently gone into the sound, and with good results. At its best, Miller's music has always been rich, clipped and characterized by a powerful forward momentum not unlike Fleetwood Mac's. At its worst -- when he was hampered by a schizoid image, a revolving-door band and the all-too-apparent absence of any purpose to his work -- it was sloppy, aimless and dull. But Miller began to pull himself out of his slump with The Joker in 1973, and thereafter he took steps to ensure that things went right. 

 Although his first nine albums had been crowded into a six-year span, he took his time recording a followup. When he finally released Fly Like an Eagle 13 months ago, it went crazy in the record stores -- Top Ten for months, almost triple platinum, three Top Ten singles. The record was so big that Book of Dreams, which tentatively had been scheduled for release as early as last December, had to be kept on hold for months. Now it's shipped gold; a repeat success appears inevitable

This is logical. Fly Like an Eagle and Book of Dreams are essentially twin albums, mostly recorded during the three-year period that followed The Joker. Fly Like an Eagle is maybe a little stronger -- several of the songs on Book of Dreams were written by current or former Steve Miller Band members -- but even that is debatable. There's the same steady self-assurance here, the same easy confidence that made Fly Like an Eagle so easy to enjoy. Miller obviously knows exactly what he's doing. Every production decision -- as usual, he's produced himself -- was made to maximize the dramatic impact of the deep, easy roll that powers most of these songs. The producer's touch is light and sure; it brightens the sound and stretches its spatial dimensions. Miller's voice, open and adolescent as ever, comes through fresh and bouncy. All this gives songs like "Swingtown" and "True Fine Love" and "Jet Airliner" the kind of simple-minded but irresistible appeal that's so essential to Miller's style. 

What Miller gained during his three-year absence from the music scene was the security to drop his masks. Fly Like an Eagle was the first album on which he did not hide behind the kind of persona he ridiculed and apparently laid to rest with The Joker. What's emerged instead is the image of a "real" Steve Miller -- a jocular outdoorsman who's thinking about giving up his Ferrari (according to People) for a tractor. The real Steve Miller just wants to settle down and raise kids and live in bucolic splendor and have it seem as much fun as hang gliding. So do millions of his peers. It's nice they're getting together.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Buddy You Have a Problem

On May 10, 1977 The Damned recorded their second Peel session, performing " Sick Of Being Sick" "Stretcher Case Baby" ( both to be released as a new single in July but with only 5,000 copies issued), plus two numbers from their debut LP, "Fan Club " and "Feel the Pain". Is that Dave Vanian who responds to Peel's band introduction with "Thank you very much John, you old sod. And I'd like to say to each and everyone that bought our last LP and made us stinking rich so we can earn 12 pounds a week instead of 11"?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

M Stands For Me

In 1977 Amanda Lear released her debut album I Am A Photograph, featuring the European disco hits "Blood and Honey" and "Tomorrow" (#1 in Italy) as well as the self-penned kitsch classic "Alphabet." Inspired by the Prelude in C by J.S. Bach, Lear reveals in her talkative singing style that, for her, D stands for "Dirty Old Man", F is "Full Frontal and Friends", and that Y is "a question I keep asking."

Best known to my readers as the cover girl on Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure, Amanda Lear has kept both her birth date and birth gender a mystery. She was Salvador Dali's muse and closest confidant, and the married Bowie's girlfriend circa Diamond Dogs and Pin Ups. You can see her in Bowie's "Sorrow " video.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Red Hot Holly Days

On May 6, 1977 Wings member Denny Laine released Holly Days, an album recorded with Paul and Linda McCartney on Paul's four track recorder in the highlands of Scotland. McCartney, who had just purchased the Buddy Holly catalog, recorded all the instruments himself during the Summer of 1976. Then Denny and Linda added a few licks with Denny doing lead vocals. The sound is lo-fi. The mood is giddy. Fans of Ram will almost surely enjoy this hard to find release.

For former Tuff Darts frontman Robert Gordon the appeal of 50's rock lay not so much in the music of Buddy Holly as the tunes of Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran. When a producer hooked him up with another one of his heroes, guitarist Link "Rumble" Wray, the result was this ten song set of modern takes on the rockabilly sound. The pair would follow this up with outstanding set in 1978, but it would be another musical act, The Stray Cats, who would hit paydirt with this sound. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Visions of Swastikas

On May 6, 1977 Iggy Pop released "China Girl", the second single from his first David Bowie produced album of 1977, The Idiot. Idiotic may have been exactly how Iggy felt after confessing his feelings for Kuelan Nguyen, partner of French actor-singer Jacques Higelin, who was also recording at Château d'Hérouville at the time. As he spilled his heart, she reportedly stopped him with a "Shhhh".

Most people still believe the song is about heroin. 

Nile Rodgers, who produced Bowie's single said "I figured China Girl was about doing drugs ... because China is China White which is heroin, girl is cocaine. I thought it was a song about speedballing. I thought, in the drug community in New York, coke is girl, and heroin is boy. So then I proceeded to do this arrangement which was ultra pop. Because I thought that, being David Bowie, he would appreciate the irony of doing something so pop about something so taboo. And what was really cool was that he said 'I love that!'.

Iggy's version is so much darker that it's kind of a shame you can still hear Bowie's version even when this is playing in your earbuds.  By the way, this was the second single from 1977 that Bowie covered on Let's Dance. The other is Metro's "Criminal World".

Friday, May 5, 2017

Take Funk to Heaven in '77

On May 5, 1977 Parliament released the double live album, Live:P-Funk Earth Tour, recorded at the Oakland Coliseum and Los Angeles Forum and  made up mostly of songs from the band's last two studio albums, Mothership Connection and The Clones of Dr Funkenstein.

To a newbie's ears, seventy minutes of unevenly recorded live material from any band might seem like too much to take. This album contains a pair of new studio cuts as well, including a future P-Funk anthem "This Is The Way We Funk With You", sung by powerhouse soulman Glen Goins.

 Back in the day, record buyers would get an iron-on t-shirt transfer featuring the motto "Take Funk to Heaven in '77".

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Live Beatles

Even The Beatles said there would never be a live album because they couldn't play well among the 17-thousand screaming fans and abysmal stage monitors. Eventually the band learned to play both their instruments and the fans, knowing the slightest smile or rocking head could set off waves of shrieks throughout the crowds. Thanks to a clean up job by producer George Martin, Capitol Records finally believed it has something worth releasing and on May 4, 1977 The Beatles Live at The Hollywood Bowl hit record shops. One side is from The Beatles 1964 show. The other from the '65 show.

Interesting to note that by 1976 The Beatles no longer had any say in what could or could not be released by the record label. So in 1976 we got Rock n Roll Music ( featuring the hit "Got To Get You Into My Life"), this live album and a compilation called Love Songs, both in 1977.

 Robert Christgau ranked the album #12 on his list of 1977 favorites:

A tribute not only to the Beatles (which figured) but to George Martin and Capitol (which didn't necessarily figure at all). The sound rings clearly and powerfully through the shrieking: the segues are brisk and the punch-ins imperceptible; and the songs capture our heroes at their highest. Furthermore, though the musicianship is raw, the arrangements are tighter (faster, actually) than on record

The album has been remastered and re-released this year to coincide with the release of the Ron Howard documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

More interesting from a historic perspective is the other live Beatles album, a double record set containing 26 tracks, 13 of which had never appeared before on a Beatles record. They were recorded by a Lancashire butcher named Ted "Kingsize" Taylor who had played with The Dominos,  at The Star Club in Hamburg around the same time The Beatles played. 

The Fab 4--with Pete Best still on drums-- knew about the recording and okayed it that night. Brian Epstein later offered Taylor twenty pounds for the tapes. Listening to the muddy, mono recordings, you can hear the Beatles energetically playing "Lend Me Your Comb", Your Feet's Too Big" and several Chuck Berry covers. It's the Fab Four at their rawest.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Singing Draft Dodger

In May of 1977, singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester ( "Biloxi", "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz", "Sham a Long Dong Ding") performed his first US concert tour since moving to Canada in 1967 to avoid the draft. On January 21, 1977, President Carter granted amnesty to Vietnam War draft dodgers. Discovered in 1970 by The Band's Robbie Robertson, Winchester, whose ancestors include Robert E Lee and one of the founders of Memphis, had just released his fifth album for Bearsville and was hoping he could sell some copies by touring.

Rolling Stone 's Frank Rose caught up with Winchester who was a bit uneasy with the whole "singing draft dodger" label:

To be coming back and making money at it, which hopefully I'll be doing --that's a little hard to reconcile. I'm not particularly proud of it. It doesn't seem fair to turn your back on your country and then come back when the coast is clear and make money. There doesn't seem to be anything really wrong with it, but there doesn't seem to be anything right with it either.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I'm Your Superman

On May 2, 1977 Christopher Reeve put on the Superman costume for a make up and wardrobe test. Reeve had already started gaining more than 40 pounds, most of it muscle, bulking up to 235 pounds on his 6-4 frame. Here's how the day went:

"Superman" was the name of a track from the 1977 debut album 10 Mistakes by Dutch art rockers Gruppo Sportivo. In this single song you get new-wave kitsch not unlike the Japanese band The Plastics,  surf drums,  Del Shannon's "Runaway" keyboard lines, and some Deaf School style call and response. Way ahead of their time but probably too "fun" to ever be taken seriously. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Ballad of Ralph Lee Lowery

In 1977 Billboard Magazine reported that the rock ban Kiss was being blamed for the death of Ralph Lee Lowery of Bloomington, Indiana. On February 22, 1977 Lowery reportedly suffered a heart attack after inhaling butane fumes. He had a reputation for copying the stage antics of the fire breathing bass player Gene Simmons. On a ride home, after reportedly sniffing butane throughout the evening, Lowery went into convulsions in a friend's car. A spokesman for the coroner's office said butane can act as anesthetic and can cut off the supply of oxygen if it reaches the lungs. Kiss often cautioned its fans not to try their stunt.
Kiss has three albums in the Billboard 200 chart in the week Lowery died: o Rock and Roll Over,  Alive! and Destroyer.