|Behind The Music
By STEPHEN McGUIRE
Whether it served as a musical launching pad or the place the stars
called home, Queens has played a pivotal role for some of the biggest names in popular
The following is a look at some music
legends whose careers were shaped right here in the Big Apples biggest borough.
These innovators of
1980s thrash heavy metal formed in Queens in 1981. The bands first gig was in
the basement of St. Johns Episcopal Church on Sanford Avenue.
In the early 1990s the Flushing
rockers joined forces with rappers Public Enemy to record "Bring the Noise." The
song has influenced the ever growing trend in some of todays most popular songs
the fusion of the two music genres.
Greeted by over 3,000
screaming fans, Queens laid out the welcome mat on February 7th ,1964 for the Beatles as
they arrived at Kennedy Airport it was the first time the four lads from Liverpool
set foot on American soil as a band.
Their historic appearance on the Ed
Sullivan Show two days later brought Beatlemania to living rooms across the country.
In August of 1964 the "fab four,"
played two sold out shows at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and the following year, The
Beatles American Tour began with a show at Shea Stadium on August 15th.
The Shea show marked the biggest show of
their career and up until that point was the largest drawing and grossing rock and roll
concert ever with 56,000 screaming fans in attendance.
The master of lounge love
songs was raised on Talbot Street in Forest Hills and graduated from Forest Hills High
School in 1946.
The singer in the doo wop
band Sha Na Na which gained a loyal fan base following appearances at the 1969
Woodstock festival and the big screen adaptation of "Grease" graduated
from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village.
The man with the smooth
voice made his singing debut in 1949 and rose to stardom in the 1950s while living
in Elmhurst. From 1956 to 1962 his music was hardly absent from the album charts.
Belafonte was at the forefront of the
1950s "calypso craze" and while hits like "Day-O," an adaptation
of the "Banana Boat Song," made him a music star, they also made money for
songwriter Irving Burgie, a Hollis resident who wrote the lyrics and music to 35 Belafonte
The composer of "God
Bless America" and "White Christmas" once called Bayside home.
"Carry Me Back to Old
Virginny" was written by this African-American composer who was born in Flushing in
1854.The Bland housing development which currently stands at the intersection of College
Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue is named after him.
The "Godfather of
Soul" was surely feeling good when he lived in St. Albans on Linden Boulevard.
BOOGIE NIGHTS: Before serving the borough as the home of the
Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, Flushing Town Hall was a nightspot caught in the
heat of the 1970s disco inferno.
Soon to be rocks next
big thing, expect to see this punk-pop trio from Flushing at the top of the charts in the
Arguably the most
influential American pop musician of the 1960s, the man who reinvented what it meant
to be a singer/songwriter and changed the face of rock music forever once lived near
Reeves Avenue and 150th Street in the shadow of Flushings Queens College.
Dylan drew inspiration from another Queens
folkie, Woody Guthrie.
The former frontman of
Janes Addiction and creator of the early 1990s Lolapalooza festivals hails
These Wayne, New Jersey
rockers named their 1999
release "Utopia Parkway,"
after the Queens thoroughfare
with the same name.
Half of the legendary duo of
Simon and Garfunkel, he was born in Queens in 1941. Simon and Garfunkel first met in grade
school and both members of the famous folk rock duo graduated from Forest Hills High
School and attended Queens College. The duo immortalized their home borough, not in the
lyrics, but in the title of the "59th Street Bridge Song" a reference to
the Queensborough Bridge but Simon and Garfunkel split up in 1971.
In 1990 the Forest Hills folkies were
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The "original folk
music hero" who transformed his tunes into a "vehicle for social protest and
observation" lived in Howard Beach.
During the "Great Depression,"
the singer/songwriter hitchhiked and rode the rails across the country.
From his travels came the inspiration to
write "This Land Is Your Land."
He died at Creedmoor Hospital in 1967.
The famed opera and Broadway
composer had a home in Whitestone.
The theater rock foursome that took the
world by storm in the 1970s played their first gig at the Coventry Club on Queens
Boulevard in 1973.
Lead singer/guitarist Paul Stanley (b. Paul
Eisen) grew up in Flushing and Bass player Gene Simmons (b. Chiam Whitz) practiced his
licks in Jackson Heights.
Legend has it that the band, originally
called "Wicked Lester," came up with the name Kiss while riding in a car on
Some say that the band named themselves
Kiss a shortened version of Kissena Boulevard after a favorite hang out spot
on a Flushing Street.
If domination of the rock world followed by
a marketing campaign that included comic books, dolls and even lunch boxes didnt
work out for the now equally famous and infamous Queens rockers, both may have had second
careers to fall back on.
Paul Stanley could have decided to work at
the furniture store his father once owned on Queens Boulevard and before spitting fire and
fake blood, lizard tongued Gene Simmons was a New York City elementary school teacher.
Girls just want to have fun
and thats exactly what this girl from Ozone Park did when she won the 1985 Grammy
Award for Best New Artist.
Ozone Parks Cyndi Lauper and mom were just having fun
when they celebrated the Grammy winners birthday at Yuraku Japanese Restaurant in
Lauper holds an honorary high school
diploma from Richmond Hill High School and her sister, who once ran for mayor of Phoenix,
Arizona, is currently an acupuncturist in Glendale.
The wild -haired vocalist scored big hits
in the 1980s with "Time After Time," "She Bop" and "Girls
The singer and actress, born
Ethel Zimmerman, was a native of Astoria and worked on films at the movie studios there.
This Queens native pounded
the skins on her drum kit for Hole during the Courtney Love-fronted grunge bands
Before getting her start in
on the Manhattan night club circuit and rising to "pop diva" status, the
"Material Girl" lived in Corona and perfected her singing and stage skills at a
Forest Hills dance club.
Before recording their first
album and becoming heavy metal icons the original line-up of this band lived together in a
modest apartment near Archer Avenue.
If youve heard the
one-hit wonder "Cars" by Gary Neuman then youve heard a Moog.
The unique and hauntingly futuristic sounds
of the Moog synthesizer were made popular by several 1980s disco and new wave music
hits. Robert Moog, the inventor of the namesake synthesizer piano, lived in Flushing and
attended Queens College.
The Ramones in Forest Hills circa 1974.
Hey Ho Lets Go! The
leather-clad foursome, whose speedy guitar driven songs gave birth to "punk
rock," formed in Forest Hills in 1974 and the original members attended Forest Hills
In their early days, the band would lug
their equipment in plastic shopping bags aboard the subway to commute to the lower
Manhattan night club CBGBs. It was there where their blistering and furious
20-minute musical sets sometimes culminating with band members destroying their
guitars earned them their first record contract.
The band immortalized their native borough
in the songs "Were a Happy Family" and "Rockaway Beach."
Half of the famous folk duo
Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon
attended P.S. 164 in Flushing and graduated from Forest Hills High School in the late
1950s. After parting ways with musical partner and Forest Hills High classmate Art
Garfunkel in 1971, Simon went on to have a lucrative solo career. Simon captured the
spirit of his home borough in the lyrics of "Me and Julio Down By The
Schoolyard," which gives a nod to Corona.
Paul in his 1963 Queens College
This guitarist for the
legendary rock band the Eagles once lived in Fresh Meadows.
IN THEIR SHEA DAY:
Over the years Shea Stadium has played host to
concerts featuring rocks finest including the Beatles in the 1960s and the
Who, the Police and the Rolling Stones in the 1980s.