Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Klaus Nomi The Man from Another Planet

Klaus Nomi

I remember seeing a video of Klaus Nomi back in the day when Urgh! A Music War came out. It was a bit too disco for my tastes back then, but now I can't get enough of this myserious man. Who was Klaus Nomi? I'm late to the Nomi party, but it's still worth taking the time to recognize the man "from another planet."

I can trace one of his first shows to 1978, when he performed for the New Wave Vaudeville show in New York. Many people in the audience thought that he was not really singing, as it was just too amazing to believe. As far as I can tell, one of the first solid interviews of Klaus Nomi took place in 1979. The Soho News reported that he was "A creature of any state, sex, or sensibility you choose."
Klaus Nomi in New York
He had landed in New York seven years prior to that interview, and in 1976 he took time out for vocal lessons. It would only be fitting that Nomi would need to work with a professional in order to get his vocal stylings in order. The person he chose to teach him the finer points of opera also happened to be a "drag diva." Did Klaus pick up more than vocal lessons from his teacher? He claims that Maria Callas was one of his biggest influences. Perhaps Nomi mixed drag and his love of opera in order to create the image that brought him fame. Once he hit the stage, his personality was split between opera, and performance art.

One of the high points of Klaus Nomi's career was when he sang back up for David Bowie. On that night, the world got a glimpse of what many in the New York new wave scene had been used to seeing for some for at least a year prior. From there, Nomi would go on to record cover songs like The Twist, and You Don't Know Me. He was called a "countertenor," but some folks dispute that, simply stating that he sang falsetto. One thing is certain, when he had the right song to sing, he would amaze even the most hardcore punk and new wave fans.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper Headline Summerfest 2012

Iron Maiden Alice Cooper Summerfest

With the announcement of Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper at Summerfest, I had to take a dive into the history books. Both of these bands have been around for a very long time. Do they compliment each other on this bill? Yes they do. Will each band get serious stage time, or will Iron Maiden keep Alice Cooper from putting on a full show? I'm getting ahead of myself, so I'll just have to wait until July 4, when both bands hit the Marcus Amphitheater stage. For now, my Summerfest tickets will have to sit in a drawer.

Iron Maiden is now 37 years young. You know what they say, thirty-seven is the new twenty-seven. Actually, they don't say that, and there is a huge difference between those two ages. Iron Maiden is probably one of the best known Metal bands in history. Their album sales are nearing the 90 million mark, and they have performed an average of 54 shows per year since they started. Those are some serious numbers. "What are their hits?" you say. My reply would be their soulful number titled The Number of the Beast. They penned that happy tune back in 1982. Their last serious hit song came in 1988, but nobody likes an aged band's current material so it just doesn't matter if they haven't kept up with the times. Bring on the oldies! (I'm kidding, they actually have some great newer material.)

As for Alice Cooper, I would have to mark their starting point at the time when the band moved to L.A. and dropped the name Nazz. That happened in 1968. Lead singer, Vince Furnier took a look around at all the "rock-gods" of that time, and thought that a rock "villain" would be more successful. He was right. I was just four years old when the band started, so by the time that I was old enough to know better, Alice Cooper had been going strong for nearly eight years. Yes, Mr. Furnier is a great golfer, and he owns a restaurant. He's apolitical, and I like that. When he got sober, his music still kicked butt. I like that even more. Alice Cooper made it into to the Rock and Roll hall of fame just last year. They deserve that honor for their style and theatrics alone. It's even better to know that "School's Out" will live on forever. As for Iron Maiden, they are recognized as one of the most famous metal bands in the world.