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Pop songs from real life

Don McLean's American Pie
Don McLean's American Pie

From “The Star Spangled Banner” to “Walk on the Wild Side”, popular music has re-told real-life events, stuff that actually happened.

The tale behind Deep Purple’s 1972 monster-hit “Smoke on the Water” goes like this: Deep Purple were staying at a hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, when across Lake Geneva the casino where Frank Zappa was performing caught fire and burned. A few notes on a napkin, and presto a Top 40 hit is born. Here is Deep Purple from 1973:

In the 90’s Pat Boone made a mis-guided attempt at relevance with a so-called Heavy Metal album called In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. And yes, he did “Smoke on the Water”, although the only heavy metal was the 20 piece horn section. Here is the official music video, that also features Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple:

Lou Reed’s 1972 “Walk on the Wild Side” was highly controversial for talking about transvestites and drug use. But each of the 5 verses tells a story about a real person (Holly, Candy, Joe, Jackie and The Sugar plum Fairy) who made a journey to New York City. Here is a clip of Lou Reed performing the tune in 1974 with a bizarre interview after:


John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.
John Maynard started working in radio in the seventies as a DJ at Seattle’s KJR AM which at the time was the dominant AM station in the Seattle market. After a brief stint as a restaurateur and night club owner, Maynard returned to radio with Robin Erickson, creating the hugely popular “Robin and Maynard Show.” In the more than 20 years under that marquee, Maynard flew with the Blue Angels, piloted the Goodyear Blimp, sang with Donny Osmond and hung out in a Universal Studios bar with Kojak (Telly Savalas).