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Published: Sunday, 3/9/2008

From Bootsy Collins to Chrissie Hynde, a new book celebrate's Ohio's music contributions

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Welcome to the history of Ohio rock and roll, starring Alan Freed, Rick Derringer,

Tiny Bradshaw, Bull Moose Jackson, Robert Quine, Screamin Jay Hakwins, Little Jimmy Scott, Joe Walsh, the Michael Stanley Band, Devo, the Pretenders, the Isley Brothers, Nine Inch Nails ...

Detroit has the Motown sound.

Philadelphia has Philly soul.

The Mississippi Delta birthed the blues.

Memphis is the home of down and dirty Stax/Volt soul.

New York will forever be identified with punk rock.

California rings out with the sunny noise made by chiming guitars and Beach Boys harmonies.

Seattle s got grunge.

And Ohio? What does Ohio sound like?

Is it Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders melding pop with punk and sounding like something truly new?

Is it all the strange, edgy bands that popped up around Cleveland in the mid- 70s: Devo, the Dead Boys, Pere Ubu? Or maybe it s the southern Ohio alt-rock scene defined by Guided by Voices, The Breeders, and the Afghan Whigs?

Those all seem so limiting.

Perhaps it s the old-school funk of the Ohio Players, Bootsy Collins, Roger Troutman and Zapp? Maybe, but did you even know those guys were from Ohio?

What about garage rockers like the McCoys, the James Gang, and the Raspberries? Or neosoulsters like Macy Gray and John Legend ...

Stop!

The Ohio sound as laid out by journalist and rock historian Nick Talevski in his new book Hang On Sloopy: The History of Rock & Roll in Ohio (Guardian Express Media,

247 pages, $19.99) is just too diverse and sprawling to encompass any one sound.

It s all kinds of rock, blues, funk, soul, pop, and everything else mixed together in a spicy musical gumbo.

. . . The Cramps, Mushroomhead, Chimaira, Eric Carmen and the Raspberries,

Pere Ubu, The Dead Boys, Filter, Marilyn Manson, Relient K, Rocket from the Tombs, Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires, The Godz, O.A.R., Royal Crescent Mob, Teresa Brewer, The Necros, The Soledad Brothers, The Bears, the psychodots, Tom Scholz, Guided By Voices, Johnny and the Hurricanes ...

It s all Ohio rock, which in this case is defined liberally by Talevski.

But his decision to categorize androgynous shock rocker Marilyn Manson under the same musical umbrella as Toledo s wholesome 50s-era pop star Teresa Brewer is not without precedent.

He said the late record impresario Ahmet Ertegun, who founded Atlantic Records, helped set the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame s definition of rock as popular music

in general.

Talevski lays out the state s rock history, beginning with the tale of how The McCoys garage-rock tune Hang on Sloopy came to be Ohio State University s anthem.

It s a fascinating tale, chock-full of trivia about the original Sloopy (yes, there actually was a woman named Sloopy, who was a cabaret singer in New Orleans) and how

the song came be adopted by the OSU marching band.

He covers dozens of bands, solo artists, musical figures like the pioneering radio legend Alan Freed, and key moments in the state s rock music history, ranging from some of Freed s legendary Cleveland concerts to the Who show in Cincinnati when 11 people were killed in a stampede that essentially ended general admission seating for large shows.

Talevski, an Akron-area native who has written several other music-related books, said he started working on a book on just northeast Ohio rock, but he quickly expanded his scope.

My original motivation for writing the book was simple curiosity. I m fascinated by Ohio history and had a desire to determine which musicians hailed from the Buckeye State, he said. The only other book examining the history of music in Ohio devotes only a few pages to rock and roll.

... Gary Louris, The Breeders, Guided By Voices, Hawthorne Heights, Ohio Players, Slave, Roger Troutman and Zapp, Bootsy Collins, Afghan Whigs, Over the Rhine, Ass Ponys, Pure Prairie League, The Isley Brothers, Midnight Star, L.A. Reid, Sanctus Real, Gerald Lavert, Ruby and the Romantics, James and Phillip Ingram, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Doris Day ...

The vast stylistic range of the various artists reflects the state s diversity, from bustling urban cities to rural areas and small towns, Talevski said. There are explanations for why certain pockets of the state seem to produce specific music, he said.

For example, the relative proximity to Detroit and the Motown label helped fuel a thriving northeast Ohio old-school scene. And the presence of a Cleveland radio station WZAK-FM cemented the area s devotion to people like Gerald Lavert, the O Jays, and even Macy Gray, he believes.

There has been an R&B radio powerhouse for the past 39 years where they play nothing but traditional rhythm and blues and they pretty much ignored hip-hop.

Matt Donahue, a long-time Ohio resident and a pop culture professor at Bowling Green State University, said the state s wide array of rock and pop music genres may also be reflective of its demographics. Ohio is generally considered prototypical middle America, he said.

Sometimes they talk about television shows and they want people with an Ohio accent because it represents something identifiable to all people, and maybe that applies to the music coming out of Ohio, he said.

Because there isn t one sound you have people working in different genres and their sound becomes identifiable with that genre.

... Bobby Womack, Edwin Star, Macy Gray, Tracy Chapman, the Dazz Band, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Bow Wow, Phil Ochs, Richie Furay, Brewer and Shipley, Gene Cotton, Jim Brickman, Marc Cohn, Blessid Union of Souls, Marti Jones, Maureen McGovern, David Allan Coe, Earl Thomas Conley, the Soledad Brothers ...

The danger in a book like Talevski s is that he leaves someone out, which he said is a definite worry. (For the record, not all the bands in the book are listed in this story.) He s already working on a second edition where he ll add some bands that were omitted, and he s always curious to know what he might have missed.

It s always a huge problem trying to find out who s on the cusp, who s emerging, he said. I m always concerned I left somebody out.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has long included an Ohio exhibit, but Donahue said the state often doesn t get the credit it deserves for providing fertile ground for a vibrant music scene.

He said the book should be a welcome addition into the pop culture scholarship of the state.

Sadly, it s sort of overlooked and somewhat unknown. [This] helps to bring people to awareness about some of this stuff. I think generally most people are sadly unaware of the contributions that Ohio has made.

Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.



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