DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

Best Bond Trivia: Celebrating 50 Years of 007

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the cinema’s all-time action star. To celebrate the series we’re taking a closer look at all things Bond. Recently, we selected the five best James Bond movies and now we’re finishing our tribute with a collection of the most amazing Bond trivia we could find.


Nobody wanted him—neither the character’s creator nor film producers. But Scottish actor Sean Connery went on to leave an unforgettable impression as the first Agent 007. 

1. The Birth of “Bond…James Bond.” Created by English author Ian Fleming in 1953, Bond made his first appearance in the novel “Casino Royale.” Before his days as an author, Fleming served in Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division. One day he told a friend: “I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.” Fleming eventually penned 14 James Bond books, all of which were written at Fleming’s Jamaican estate—named “GoldenEye.”

2. There are 24 “James Bond” Films. “Dr. No” (1962); “From Russia With Love” (1963); “Goldfinger” (1964); “Thunderball” (1965); “You Only Live Twice” (1967); “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969); “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971); “Live and Let Die” (1973); “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974); “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977); “Moonraker” (1979); “For Your Eyes Only” (1981); “Octopussy” (1983); “Never Say Never Again” (1983); “A View to a Kill” (1985); “The Living Daylights” (1987); “License to Kill” (1989); “GoldenEye” (1995); “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997); “The World is Not Enough” (1999); “Die Another Day” (2002); “Casino Royale” (2006); “Quantum of Solace” (2008); and “Skyfall” (2012).

3. How he Got his Name. The name “James Bond” belonged to a real person—an American ornithologist and author named James Bond who was a published expert on the subject of birds found in the Caribbean. Fleming wanted a plain, simple name for the agent, who he envisioned as “an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.” The character was based on different intelligence agents Fleming had known during WWII, when he himself was an intelligence agent.

4. The Longest and Shortest James Bond Film. The average length of a Bond movie is approximately 125 minutes, 25 seconds. The shortest film in the series: 2008’s “Quantum of Solace” (106 minutes). The longest James Bond movie: 2006’s “Casino Royale” (144 minutes).

5. The Very First James Bond. Sean Connery was not the first actor to play the secret agent. American actor Barry Nelson portrayed 007 in a television adaptation of “Casino Royale,” back in 1954. Connery was also not the first choice of Bond creator Ian Fleming – who originally envisioned dapper and witty English actor David Niven playing 007. (Fleming said that Bond might have looked like Hoagy Carmichael, a popular American singer.) Connery was not even the first choice of film producers, who originally wanted actor Peter Anthony. When Connery was allowed to meet with producers, he showed up looking unshaven and acting as if he couldn’t care less if he got the role. The attitude he displayed won him the part of a lifetime.

6. The Men Who Would be Bond, Pt. 1. Some of the actors originally considered for the part of James Bond included front-runner Cary Grant, James Mason, Patrick McGoohan and Rex Harrison.


Who’s this guy? Wearing a suit that would make Austin Powers proud, George Lazenby stunned film producers when he announced he would leave the Bond series after only one film…the movie he was still shooting (1969′s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”).

7. Most Successful Bond Film: 1965’s “Thunderball.” When adjusting its revenues for inflation, “Thunderball” has earned slightly more than a billion dollars ($1.04 billion), making it the series box-office champ.

8. Who Played 007? In the James Bond film series, the character has been played by: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

9. The Theme. Written by English composer Monty Norman and arranged by film composer John Barry, the twangy “James Bond Theme” is one of the most universally known pieces of music ever recorded. The signature electric guitar part, laden with echo, was played by studio ace Vic Flick. (His instrument was a Clifford Essex Paragon Cello-Bodied electric guitar, fitted with a DeAmond volume pedal and played through a 15-watt Vox amplifier. That guitar is now on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.)

10. An Evil Monkey Could Have Been Bond’s Nemesis. An early draft of the “Dr. No” script was rejected because the title villain had been written as a monkey (presumably an evil monkey with a scheme to take over the world).

11. Bond Makes Bank. In today’s dollars, the Bond series of films has grossed more than $12 billion worldwide, which makes it the second-highest-grossing film series of all time, right behind the “Harry Potter” series. It has been estimated that a full quarter of the world’s population has seen at least one James Bond film.

12. Most Appearances as James Bond. Roger Moore stayed on the job longer than any other Bond actor—twelve years to be exact. Moore is also tied for the most performances as James Bond. Both he and Sean Connery have each appeared seven times as Agent 007.


The Aston Martin DB5 featured in “Goldfinger” became a celebrity itself. The Corgi miniature model of it became the best-selling toy of 1964.

13. Most Memorable Movie Line. Bond’s signature phrase, “Bond…James Bond” has been praised as one of the greatest catch phrases in all of movies. The American Film Institute named it the 22nd greatest quotation in film history and in 2001, British movie fans voted it the best-loved one-liner in cinema history.

14. Biggest Opening for Bond. When “Quantum of Solace” opened in the United Kingdom in 2008, it set the opening-weekend record. It also scored the highest-grossing opening weekend Bond film in the U.S., raking in $67.5 million for the weekend.

15. Rejected Title Song. Country music giant Johnny Cash submitted a potential “Thunderball” theme song to the film’s producers, but it was rejected by the film’s producers.

16. Bond’s Most Famous Ride. Bond’s most famous vehicle was a slate gray Aston Martin DB5 first introduced in “Goldfinger.” The car’s famous accessories included hidden machine guns, a metal plate for deflecting gunfire, revolving license plates (good in all countries), and the piece de resistance, a passenger ejector seat that fired undesirable henchmen out the top of the vehicle.

17. Age of the Actors. The youngest actor to portray James Bond was George Lazenby (age 30), who starred in only one Bond movie, 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” The oldest actor to star as Bond was Roger Moore, who was a ripe old 57 during shooting of 1985’s “A View to a Kill.”

18. Bond’s Favorite Casino Game is called Chemin de Fer, a French version of the card game Baccarat. Agent 007 plays the classy game in “Dr. No,” “Thunderball,” the 1967 version of “Casino Royale,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” “For Your Eyes Only” and “GoldenEye.”


Suave Roger Moore kept the Bond role for a record twelve years. His Bond was as quick with witty banter as he was with a gun.

19. Fleming’s Thoughts on the Big Screen Bond. When Bond author Ian Fleming saw the preview screening for the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” his initial response was “Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

20. Weapons of Choice. The Walther PPN is Bond’s current sidearm. For years, however, he carried the Walther PPK, although he used a Beretta 418 during the first five novels. When Fleming heard from a Bond fan and gun enthusiast, who called the Beretta “a lady’s gun” and that “Bond should instead use a Walther PPK 7.65mm.” At various times Bond has used other weapons, including rifles and other handguns. The most unique gun he ever carried may have been the tricked-out attaché case from “From Russia with Love,” which contained an assault rifle built right into the briefcase…which could also shoot daggers and emit teargas.

21. Casino Royale(s). The film with the greatest number of actors portraying James Bond was (undoubtedly) 1967’s “Casino Royale,” which differs significantly from the 2006 movie with Daniel Craig. The first “Casino Royale” was a broad spy spoof which featured six actors each portraying James Bond, including Woody Allen as “Jimmy Bond.”

22. Balding Bond. Connery was already starting to go bald when he won the part of James Bond. In each of his films as Agent 007, he sported a toupee.

23. The Only Actor Asked Back. British actor Timothy Dalton was originally approached to possibly play James Bond in 1969. Dalton tested for the role, but took himself out of the running, saying he felt he was too young to play the part. George Lazenby would step into the role instead, although Dalton would get his chance again years later in 1987 when he played Bond in “The Living Daylights.”

24. Biggest Bond Explosion. The ending of “Thunderball” shows villain Emilio Largo’s souped-up power yacht (named “The Disco Volante,” or flying saucer) running aground on a Bahamas island and exploding in a gi-normous fireball. To produce a sufficiently powerful explosion, the effects coordinator used an experimental rocket fuel. However, not knowing how much of the fuel to use, he doused the entire yacht with the stuff. The massive resulting explosion actually blew out windows in Nassau—more than 30 miles away.


Timothy Dalton (seen here in “License to Kill”) was first approached to play Bond in 1969. He turned down the role then, but didn’t make the same mistake in 1987.

25. Bond Breaks Character. There has only been one time during the entire history of the James Bond film franchise when the actor portraying the Bond character makes a reference to existing within a film series. This occurs during “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” when George Lazenby quips “This never happened to the other fellow,” making a reference to the freshly departed Sean Connery. The incident has not happened since.

26. Oscar Winning Bond. The first Bond film to win an Academy Award was 1964’s “Goldfinger,” it captured the Oscars for Best Effects and Sound Effects.

27. SPECTRE Defined. While the U.S. was engaged in a Cold War with Russia, Bond doggedly fought against the forces of evil organization SPECTRE. Here’s what SPECTRE stands for: SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

28. Before They Were Famous. The Russian-trained assassin Bond faces in 1963’s “From Russia With Love” was played by Robert Shaw—who played Quint, the salty fisherman in 1974’s mega-hit “Jaws.”

29. An English Record Holder. “Live and Let Die” drew the biggest British television audience for a film broadcast on TV. The 1973 adventure was seen by 23.5 million viewers, a record that still stands.

30. Best Bond Babe? The first “Bond girl” was Ursula Andress, who played Honey Rider in “Dr. No.” “Entertainment Weekly” ranked her tops among “Bond Babes.” Her iconic white bikini—which helped popularize the swimsuit—sold at a 2001 auction for $61,000. (Halle Berry’s outfit in “Die Another Day” was based on Ursula’s iconic outfit.)


Ian Fleming wrote 14 James Bond novels and created one of the biggest film franchises of all time. Like his most famous character, Fleming enjoyed the finer things while having a definite taste for danger.

31. AFI Hero. In 2005, the American Film Institute hailed James Bond as the third-greatest film hero of all time. “Premiere” magazine listed Bond as the fifth-greatest movie character.

32. First Bond Movie. The films’ producers wanted “Thunderball” to be the first film, but due to a legal wrangle involving the screenplay, “Dr. No” became the first James Bond movie.

33. The Bond Theme Song. The most successful songs from James Bond movies were also big hits on the pop charts. The most popular have been “Goldfinger” (sung by Shirley Bassey), “Live and Let Die” (Paul McCartney & Wings), “Nobody Does it Better” (Carly Simon), “Thunderball” (Tom Jones) and “For Your Eyes Only” (Sheena Easton).

34. The Last Movie President Kennedy Ever Saw. President John F. Kennedy was a big fan of the Bond spy novels, and the movies made from them. In a “Look” magazine interview he included “From Russia With Love” in his list of ten favorite books, and held a private White House screening of “Dr. No.” In fact, Kennedy showed “From Russia With Love” at the White House on November 20, 1963…just days before his assassination in Dallas—making it the last motion picture he ever saw.

35. Bond Sets Records. At one time, “The Guinness Book of World Records” listed “Goldfinger” as the fastest-grossing film of all time. To meet the insane demand for the film, New York City theaters started running the movie around the clock.

36. Saint Roger Moore. During casting for “Dr. No,” Roger Moore had been considered for the part but rejected, partly because he was in the process of signing to star in a new TV detective show. Roger Moore’s “The Saint,” which made him an international star, premiered exactly one day before “Dr. No” opened in theaters.


James Bond No. 5, smooth Pierce Brosnan, came to the role after playing the title role of TV detective “Remington Steele.”

37. Worst Bond Film? Perhaps the least successful film of the series was 1974’s “The Man With the Golden Gun,” a film that failed with audiences and critics alike.

38. Breathtaking Performance. Singer Tom Jones belted out the title song to “Thunderball” with such leather-lunged gusto that he literally fainted while singing the tune’s ending. “I closed my eyes,” Jones later recalled, “And I held the note for so long that when I opened my eyes the room was spinning.”

39. License to Fail. The Bond picture with the weakest box office performance was 1989’s “License to Kill.”

40. Never Say Never. Perhaps the oddest Bond flick is 1983’s “Never Say Never Again,” in which hard-charging Sean Connery returned to the role he made famous in the early sixties. It was strange enough that one year would produce both a Roger Moore Bond film (“Octopussy”) as well as a Sean Connery Bond film, as if the two were competing. There was also the fact that “Never” is almost an exact duplicate of “Thunderball.” The plot is the same and many of the other details are lifted exactly from the earlier classic. To see Connery eighteen years older hustling through the same plot is like a weird funhouse trick.

41. Bring in the Helicopters. Bond movies must have helicopters, as they have done since the second Bond flick, “From Russia With Love.” The only movie of the series that lacked a helicopter sequence was “The Man With the Golden Gun,” which fizzled at the box office.

42. Bond’s Connection to Willie Wonka and Austin Powers. “You Only Live Twice” featured a screenplay by noted writer Roald Dahl, who would be better known for writing “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and creating the character of Willy Wonka. (In the film, villainous mastermind Ernst Blofeld wears the same type of Nehru jacket that Mike Meyers would sport as Dr. Evil in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”)


Daniel Craig returns to movie screens as James Bond in “Skyfall.”

43. Evil Genius. Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane,” “Touch of Evil”) was considered for the title role of “Goldfinger,” but he reportedly wanted too much gold for his performance.

44. Bond Pays for Protection. During the 1972 shooting of “Live and Let Die,” portions of the story had to be filmed in New York’s notoriously dangerous Harlem area. Producers paid protection money to a local gang. As legend tells it, when the cash had been spent, the film crew was “encouraged” to leave the area immediately.

45. Bond Babies. The James Bond series spawned an endless number of imitators. For the coolest TV version, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” the show’s producers sought and received guidance from Ian Fleming himself. The Bond creator even named one of the show’s characters, dreaming up one of the all-time great spy names: Napoleon Solo.

46. James Bond’s Favorite Bond. Although somewhat ignored over the years, “From Russia With Love” is seeing its reputation grow among critics and fans. And this is reportedly the favorite Bond movie among Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig.

47. The Men Who Would Be Bond, Pt. 2. Actors later considered as candidates to play Bond included Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The role was actually offered to Clint Eastwood, who respectfully declined, saying he thought the part should be played by a British actor.

48. Bond Almost Dies. Sean Connery narrowly avoided disaster during “Thunderball” when he agreed to enter a swimming pool filled with Golden Grotto sharks. Although he was given a clear plexiglass shield of sorts, the device malfunctioned, leaving Connery face to face with sharks. Connery, an expert swimmer beat a hasty retreat away from the sharks.

49. Big Bald Blofeld. The character of SPECTRE overlord Blofeld was first played by actor Donald Pleasance, who would later be identified with another successful film franchise, as the psychiatrist in the “Halloween” series of slasher movies. In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Blofeld was played by Telly Savalas, better known as TV’s favorite bald detective, “Kojack.”

50. Coming Attractions. It has been confirmed that a 24th James Bond film will be made. There is some speculation that it could be helmed by “Dark Knight” and “Inception” director Christopher Nolan.

His Name Means Excitement
James Bond endures as a movie mainstay because he always delivers screen excitement. For anyone interested in learning movie making and special effects, Bond movies are text-book examples of how big action movies were meant to be made. Coming up later this summer: James Bond returns in “Skyfall.”

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THE ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Greatest Music Videos of All Time

Using music and video together as a medium to tell a story can be a very powerful tool for communicating a message. Today filmmakers and musicians add Hollywood visual effects and other fancy tricks to make music videos have impact, but the pioneers of the format used their imaginations to push music videos to all new heights:

Artist: Bob Dylan
Song: “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965/1967)

Bob Dylan, the Voice of His Generation, trying not to look bored in the groundbreaking music video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” (The bearded guy to the left is poet Allen Ginsberg, author of the Beat classic “Howl.”)

How It Changed Music Videos: It was the first modern music video built around an artistic concept. The primitive black-and-white film was made to promote the song – the video was initially created for the 1967 D.A. Pennebaker documentary “Don’t Look Back,” which shadowed Dylan as he toured England during 1965.

It’s a pretty simple idea really, but one that has struck a chord with several generations of rock audiences. A guy stands in an alley holding a stack of cue cards. The audio from a rambunctious folk rock song starts to blast, each line of which is a non-stop barrage of hipster verbiage (example: “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine/I’m on the pavement thinking about the government”).

As the video progresses, the guy in it, rock poet Bob Dylan, drops each cue card after its corresponding piece of lyric has been sung in the audio. Dylan does not sing or perform the song. In fact, he shows no particular emotion, except mild irritation and boredom. When he runs out of cue cards, he just walks out of the camera frame, leaving puzzled audiences to try and figure out what it all meant.

Artist: Michael Jackson
Song: “Thriller” (1984)

With Quincy Jones-produced rhythms and Michael Jackson as a zombie, “Thriller” proved to be a genuine media event.

How It Changed Music Videos: By 1984, MTV had taken over control of the music industry; at this point, a new album or single had to have a top-notch video. Michael Jackson took the challenge and ran with it, making this first single song video epic from what would become the decade’s biggest album.

Jackson brought on film director John Landis to oversee the project. Landis was already a Hollywood power-player, having directed “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Trading Places,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “An American Werewolf in London” before tackling “Thriller.” For the video he was given a half-million dollar budget.

Jackson made multiple music videos to promote several tracks, but the “Thriller” music video was more than just a regular video, adding eight minutes of additional narrative to the song’s six-minute length. Thematically, “Thriller” was a G-rated creep show with a disco beat and which featured a vocal cameo by Hollywood horror legend Vincent Price.

The video was so popular that MTV was eventually airing the 14-minute video twice per hour. Jackson was hailed as a creative genius for his own remarkable dancing, as well as arranging the zombie choreography.

The video helped propel sales of the “Thriller” album to 110 million units worldwide, making it the best-selling album of all time. Never again would either Jackson or the music video be so big.

Artist: Nirvana
Song: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)

Grunge started here…with deliberately low production standards.

How It Changed Music Videos: As the 80s progressed, video production techniques improved. Inspired by the massive success of “Thriller,” the trend toward lavishly produced videos continued. But not every musical act wanted to create an ultra-slick music video. Enter Seattle’s Nirvana in the early 90s, with a Punk-like desire to avoid seeming to be “corporate.”

So when the first Grunge band of note got ready to produce a music video for the breakout hit from its powerhouse album Nevermind, it had definite ideas about what it wanted. For its director, the band selected first-timer Samuel Bayer…specifically because he didn’t have much experience. Kurt Cobain (accurately) assumed Bayer would be technically inept and the resulting footage would have a raw, undisciplined quality.

The song became a major Alternative anthem and the music video a smashing success. Nirvana won numerous MTV Music Awards in 1992 and the Guinness Book of Records considers the video the most played music video on MTV Europe. In 2001, VH1 named it the fourth-greatest music video of all time.

Artist: Beastie Boys
Song: “Sabotage” (1994)

“Sabotage,” a loud and abrasive triumph of threat-screaming rage, was paired with the hilarious visual concept of the opening credits of a (fake) 70s police show.

How It Changed Music Videos: Part cop-show homage, part rock/rap blaster, the Beastie Boys’ greatest video was 100 percent pure fun.

The Beastie Boys were always highly creative when it came to making music videos. But the group’s signature music-video moment was directed by genius director Spike Jonze, who took a one-chord shouter from the “Ill Communication” album and turned it into music-video gold.

An instant classic upon release, the “Sabotage” music video was nominated in five different categories at the 1994 MTV Music Awards, yet took home no awards. However, fifteen years later, when the new category of “Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)” was introduced, the very first recipient was “Sabotage.”

Artist: Johnny Cash
Song: “Hurt” (2003)

“Hurt” is a song about reaching conclusions and sifting through all of what has come before.

How It Changed Music Videos: Plenty of “serious” music videos have attempted to make a statement, but none more powerful than this stark goodbye from the Man in Black. Nobody expected the most powerful music video of its year to feature the great Johnny Cash, then working in his sixth decade as a recording artist. But then, nobody had expected Cash to make one of the biggest musical comebacks of all time during the 90s, suddenly becoming wildly popular with fans young enough to be his grandchildren.

For the music video, director Mark Romanek used extensive footage and photographs from throughout Cash’s life, which were contrasted with footage of the 71-year-old man. Cash was weak and facing a range of health problems at the time.

The combination of music and visual images made the “Hurt” video one of the most powerful music-video experiences ever. The video received the 2004 Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video and was listed as CMT’s top video for 2003 as well as the Number One greatest country music video for the following year.

In July 2011 New Music Express named it the best video of all time. Sadly, Cash himself didn’t get to see the video’s massive success; the Man in Black passed away seven months after the video was produced.

Make Your Own Landmark Videos
Music videos represent a perfect intersection between two wonderful art forms – but bringing the two together requires talent to create a quality video. It takes training, too, and learning how to make a music video is the perfect place to start. If you want to learn music & video production you need hands-on training in digital audio, music and beat production, and filmmaking skills, too. Once you have a good grasp of those things, you can take your idea and turn it into an award-winning and groundbreaking music video.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Music Production,Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Music Legends: The Beastie Boys

It seems like only yesterday that the music world first turned on to three dudes from New York City. But ever since they exploded onto the scene, the Beastie Boys have defied all expectations.


Elder statesmen of Hip Hop: the men called Beastie.  From left: Mike D (Michael Diamond), King Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) and MCA (Adam Yauch). 

Has it been 25 years already? Originally considered a novelty act, the Beastie Boys have endured and grown musically. Now the men known as MCA (aka Adam Yauch), Mike D (Michael Diamond) and King Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) are respected elder statesmen of the Hip Hop movement. Recently inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Boys have accumulated total sales exceeding 20 million albums and have carved out a lasting musical legacy.

At the beginning, they were just three white guys trying to make rap music – and have fun. The band originally had two other members and the Beastie Boys played primarily Punk Rock, or some variation of it. But they were in New York right at the time when Rap started taking off and they eventually channeled their inner MCs.

In celebration of their recent Hall of Fame triumph, we thought we’d sift through a quarter-century of Beastie madness and salute a handful of their top tracks:

Track: “Cooky Puss”
Album: Some Old Bulls*&% (1983)
Why You Should Listen: In the beginning, there was the turntable. And it was funny. At least it was how the Beasties used it in their ’83 breakthrough single, “Cooky Puss,” a series of prank phone calls overlaid on a Hip Hop beat and mixed with plenty of turntable scratching.

It’s difficult to decide which is more amusing—the goofy sounds of a Steve Martin comedy album being slowed down and stretched on the turntable or the comical rudeness the Beasties display when phoning a local Carvel Ice Cream shop. At first, the Carvel worker mistakenly assumes that the caller wants to order a Cooky Puss ice cream cake. Instead, the Beasties act as if the cake were a real person. “Yo, I said I’m calling you, babeee!” Mike D tells the unlucky worker. “Yo man, Cooky Puss there? I want to speak to Cooky Puss!” (The Carvel worker then hangs up, prompting a hilariously unprintable response from Mike D.)


The early Beastie Boys yukking it up, not long after emerging from the New York club scene with “Cooky Puss.”

Now collected on 1994’s Some Old Bulls*&%, “Cooky Puss” first appeared on an EP with three other songs. As fate would have it, a British Airways TV commercial used a piece of one of the other numbers (“Beastie Revolution”). In what may have been the first lawsuit based on illegal sampling of music, the Beasties successfully sued the airline for $40,000. That sum provided the seed money for the Beastie Boys to rent an apartment in New York’s Chinatown district, where they dug in and worked on mastering the rhythms of Rap and the nuances of Hip Hop. Meanwhile, the group released a series of 12-inch singles which stoked their following within the New York club scene. The Beastie Boys were on their way. And within just a couple of years, they would be world famous.


The inspiration for the Beasties’ first success: Carvel’s “Cooky Puss” ice cream cake.

Track: “Fight for Your Right” (To Party!!!)
Album: Licensed to Ill (1986)
Why You Should Listen: The cover illustration shows the back half of a sleek Beastie Boys jet; the back-cover illustration shows the front half—with the plane crashed right into the side of a mountain. Such humor pervades Licensed to Ill, the first Beastie Boys album and the very first Rap album to shoot to the Number One slot on the Billboard charts (where it remained for five weeks). Furthermore, the album got positive acclaim, even from publications like Rolling Stone, which titled its review, “Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece.”

What made Licensed worthy of becoming the best selling Rap album of the 1980s? For starters, it was brilliantly assembled by Rick Rubin, who is now acknowledged as one of the music industry’s greatest producers. It was also successful in part because people didn’t quite know what to make of it. (Was it a serious Rap album? Was it a novelty comedy record? And why was there Heavy Metal guitar and drums on some numbers?) Furthermore, there was a racial aspect that surrounded the Beastie’s success. At the time, there really were no commercially successful white rappers, although Licensed would inspire legions of white kids to pick up a mic and get their MC on. (One of them was a 14-year-old from Detroit named Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem.)


When Licensed to Ill exploded with sales of 5 million albums, the Beastie Boys became a headlining act.

Aside from great production and an intriguing mix that seems to change its sound with each track, Licensed had attitude—massive, unyielding tons of attitude. And nowhere was that ‘tude louder and prouder than in the classic rock ‘n’ roll anthem, “Fight for Your Right.” Promoted through a hilarious MTV video, “Fight for Your Right” is about a teenager’s defiance of social restrictions and parental authority.

Upon its release the song was already being compared to great previous statements of teenage angst such as Kiss’s “Rock and Roll All Night,” Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” and Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.” Before Licensed, the Beasties had already toured with big acts like Madonna, Run DMC and LL Cool J. After Licensed sold 5 million copies, the Beasties returned to the road as headliners.

In the scandalous tour that followed, there were lawsuits and arrests. At one unhinged 1987 performance in Liverpool, England (the Beatles’ home town), the crowd went completely nuts and a riot ensued…only 10 minutes into the show. The Beastie Boys were now officially a phenomenon.

Track: “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”
Album: Paul’s Boutique (1989)
Why You Should Listen: The term sophomore slump is used in the music business to illustrate what happens to many recording artists who are lucky enough to strike gold with their first album. What do they then do for a follow-up? Few understood this dilemma better than the Beastie Boys. Sure, the group had made a big splash with Licensed to Ill, but was there anything else they could do? The answer would come with 1989’s Paul’s Boutique, one of the strongest and strangest albums that any branch of popular music has ever produced.

Tired of their label (DefJam) and unsure of their next move, the Beasties relocated to Los Angeles in 1988 and hooked up with the Dust Brothers production team. Together they spent 16 months crafting Paul’s Boutique. Now considered one of the touchstones of Rap (as well as a production masterpiece in the same league as The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Paul’s Boutique was initially considered a failure, largely because it only rose to Number 14 on the Billboard album charts.

The album contained a couple of moderately successful singles (“Hey Ladies” and “Shake Your Rump”), but nothing like its predecessor. And few listeners knew what to make of it, considering that its densely layered sound was like nothing else that existed anywhere in commercial music. And it was a song cycle that contained few (if any) breaks between the tracks, which made it even more difficult to follow along and know which song you were listening to at any point.


One of the most iconic images in Rap music: the cover shot of 1989′s masterpiece, Paul’s Boutique. As you can see, it was a real clothing store in Brooklyn. (The album even contained a brief radio spot for the boutique.)

A wonderland of cultural references, Paul’s Boutique seemed to draw inspiration and samples from everywhere…Rap songs, Rock music, TV shows, movies, whatever…and contained samples from more than one hundred songs (most of which were cleared for use by their copyright holders, to the tune of approximately $250,000). And because it’s the odd Rap album indeed that includes a sample from Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” Paul’s Boutique remains a piece of music that requires numerous repeat listenings in order to untangle all the lyrics and pop references.

Its odd sonic touches remain endearing, such as the brief hillbilly hayride that opens Side 2 (“5-Piece Chicken Dinner”) and the starting seconds of “3-Minute Rule,” when we clearly hear the unmistakable back-and-forth clip-clop of a ping-pong match.

The album closes with “B-Boy Bouillabaise,” a conjoined 12-minute suite of 9 mini-songs which itself contains 24 individual samples. Among the album’s tracks, this may be the best overview of Paul’s Boutique. Like the album, it’s crammed with pop references and showcases the band’s intense creativity and artistic ambition. Before Paul’s Boutique, many considered the Beastie Boys a fluke. Afterward, most critics were in awe of a musical group that could capture a sound this wild and dense. The Beastie Boys were now artists…and Paul’s Boutique would eventually be understood as the group’s magnum opus.

Track: “So What’cha Want”
Album: Check Your Head (1992)
Why You Should Listen: It’s important to remember that the Beasties started out as a Punk/Thrash band before sliding into Rap and Hip Hop. After Paul’s Boutique stiffed, the group was looking for a new direction—so it went backwards. For their next album the band members returned to their roots and started playing their own instruments again…with Mike D pummeling the drums, MCA mastering the bass and Ad-Rock attacking the lead guitar (as he had done in an earlier band named “The Young and the Useless”). Is there a Grunge influence to Check Your Head? Quite possibly, given that this same period saw the meteoric rise of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. And the playing has a rough edge that was common to Grunge.


By the time the Beasties recorded Check Your Head, the group was playing its own instruments, as it had when just starting out.

Of course, it’s still a Beastie Boys album and that means plenty of Rap along with lots of Rock. The album’s biggest and best single, “So What’cha Want,” seems more like a traditional bragging Rap, wherein the Rapper calls out the weakness of other MCs. Mighty MCA wastes no time putting all chumps in their place: “Well, I’m as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce/You’ve got the rhyme and reason but no cause/So if you’re hot to trot, you think you’re slicker than grease/I got news for you crews, you’ll be sucking like a leech.”

Track: “Sabotage”
Album: Ill Communication (1994)
Why You Should Listen: Check Your Head provided the rough blueprint for the Beasties’ next album. Like its predecessor, Ill Communication was part Rap and part Rock, along with a few novelty bits and a couple of instrumentals. And although Check Your Head had broken into the Top Ten, by the time Ill Communication dropped in 1994, the group had amassed a sizeable following—enough for the new album to enter the Billboard Hot 200 chart at Number One. And when ticket sales began for the following year’s tour, few were surprised to find that tickets sold out within only a few minutes.


The action-packed music video for “Sabotage” replicated the opening of a 1970s cop show.

While Ill Communication was well-executed with numerous memorable songs (e.g., “Sure Shot,” “Heart Attack Man”), the album’s stand-out track was a three-minute howl of rage called “Sabotage.” Built around a savage one-chord guitar riff invented in the 70s by Rock wild man Ted Nugent, “Sabotage” is Hard Rock with a Rap lyric. By this point, the Beastie Boys had become so free with their allusions that they weren’t afraid to mention a once-famous Jazz drummer who was known as much for his explosive temper as his skill (“But make no mistake and switch up my channel/I’m Buddy Rich when I fly off the handle”). Of course, few members of the Beasties’ audience would have had any idea who Buddy Rich was…but that’s part of the point with the Beastie Boys. They don’t pander to their audience and never really have.

The Beats Go On…
This past summer, the Beastie Boys returned with the long-anticipated Hot Sauce Committee Part Two album. Despite a cancer scare that had temporarily sidelined Adam Yauch, the group came back strong with another wily mix of sounds that leans more toward the group’s Hip Hop heritage (as did 1998’s Hello Nasty). And through tracks such as “Too Many Rappers (Not Enough MCs),” “Here’s a Little Something For Ya,” and “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win,” the group proved conclusively that despite more than 25 years as a performing and recording unit, the world hasn’t heard the last from the Beastie Boys. Not too bad a legacy for three punks from New York.


From bratty punks to respected studio masters, the Beastie Boys have defied time and expectations.

Making Beats Like the Beasties
The Beastie Boys have long been able to come up with fresh and complex beats, and use those rhythm tracks in interesting ways. Today music production is an elemental part of all forms of mass communication and is used in everything from TV commercials to the latest chart-topping album. If you’re still wanting to learn how to make your own beats and take you rightful place among the next generation of musicians and music producers, why not start now? Music production is a multi-million dollar industry, and music production summer camps like the one sponsored by The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus can get you on your way.

The Music Legends series pays tributes to influential artists, music personalities and styles of music. If you have an artist or type of music you’d like us to showcase, let us know via the comments.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Music Legends: Remembering Earl Scruggs

He didn’t invent modern Bluegrass, but he was one of a handful of artists who shaped it into a thriving musical genre, and he remained one of its most popular musicians, performing well into his senior years. And at one time, banjo player Earl Scruggs (who died recently at age 88) shared top billing in one of the most popular musical acts going: Flatt and Scruggs.


With his signature three-finger banjo-picking style, Earl Scruggs helped pave the way for today’s Bluegrass explosion.

The Boys From Foggy Mountain
Easygoing by nature, guitarist/singer Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs found a natural and easy sound together. They typically wore matching dark suits topped with white Stetson cowboy hats. Scruggs’ banjo technique utilized a three-finger picking style that became the standard in modern banjo playing. Beyond that, Flatt and Scruggs became without a doubt the most popular Bluegrass band of its time.

Flatt and Scruggs first came together as part of the influential Bluegrass band called The Foggy Mountain Boys, after serving an apprenticeship with the great Bill Monroe (the Big Daddy of all Bluegrass music) in the late 1940s. The Foggy Mountain Boys would prove to be an enduring musical tradition, lasting more than 20 years and recording numerous Bluegrass classics. By 1955, the pair were selected to join the Grand Ole Opry. In 1985, Flatt and Scruggs were tapped for membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame.


A song so good it won the Grammy - twice. Flatt and Scruggs picked up a 1969 Grammy for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” one of the best known Bluegrass songs of all time. In 2002, Earl Scruggs (shown standing) won another Grammy for a new recording of the classic instrumental.

The Hits
In addition to countless other classics, Flatt and Scruggs were best known for two indisputable Bluegrass standards. The first was a rip-snorting 1949 instrumental called “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,“ which won two Grammy awards and was later showcased in the hit movie “Bonnie and Clyde.” The second classic was called “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,“ although it’s usually known as the theme song from the sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” which was a television fixture throughout the 1960s. In January 1963, the song topped the Country charts. The pair, which was already performing music on its own syndicated music TV show by this point, made several cameo appearances on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”


Flatt and Scruggs not only wrote and played the famous theme song for “The Beverly Hillbillies,” but also appeared on the sitcom as themselves, wearing their traditional suits ‘n’ Stetsons.

The pair’s first Grammy award came in 1969 for Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” More than three decades later, in 2002, Scruggs released an album called “Earl Scruggs and Friends” that featured guest appearances by some of the biggest names in music…including Elton John, Sting, Johnny Cash, Vince Gill and comedian Steve Martin (who plays a killer banjo—no joke). Scruggs won his second Grammy for the 2001 version of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on that album.

Inspiring Today’s Musicians
Bluegrass has undergone an explosion in recent decades, broadening from its purely traditional original sound to incorporate new instruments and fresh types of songs. It remains, however, a technically challenging art form that demands serious musicianship in its playing and expert production behind the mixing board.


On the road again: Flatt and Scruggs and the rest of the Foggy Mountain Boys on tour during the 1950s.

If you want to learn how to become a music producer, you can, but it’s a little more complicated than just downloading Garage Band. For example, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus sponsors a music camp at Stanford University.  Instead of spending your summer by the pool why not get a head start at developing a career in the music industry…and preparing to become tomorrow’s musical star?

The Music Legends Series pays tributes to influential artists and styles of music. If you have an artist or type of music you’d like us to showcase, let us know via the comments. 

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT – or – SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS: 

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments