40 for 40 – A celebration of Boston’s rock history

We’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of the legendary Paradise Rock Club, and its place in Boston’s rock and roll history, by recounting 40 great performances on the Paradise stage from over the past 40 years.

Tune in to 92.5 the River EACH FRIDAY AT 4PM to hear Matt Phipps share the latest episode, with audio just as it sounded back in the day!

FEATURES 31-40 (aired Aug 11 – )

Glenn Frey (1982)

The Eagles just announced that they’ll be doing some additional reunion shows this fall. The group is officially being billed as “Don Henley, Joe Walsh & Timothy B. Schmit, with Vince Gill and Deacon Frey” Deacon Frey of course is the 24 year old son of Glenn Frey. We thought we’d celebrate this and the life of Glenn Frey by going back to October 3rd, 1982 and hear Glenn performing a rare club concert at The Paradise.

It’s a two song medley of some Eagles Classics… from the Paradise stage, here’s Glenn Frey:

John Cougar (1979)

There’s a fantastic book that I would highly recommend reading called The Decibel Diaries – A Journey Through Rock in 50 Concerts, written by Carter Alan. One of the shows highlighted in the book took place on August 18th 1979, when a young John Cougar took the Paradise stage and just tore it up. He was touring with his backing band, friends from Indiana called The Zone. The show was broadcast on WBCN and in his book Carter recalled that The Paradise was only 2 years old and it wasn’t the general admission venue it is now. There were actual chairs and tables on the dance floor, but it didn’t take long for John to get em out of their seats. He summed it up best by saying : “The John Mellencamp who later filled arenas with his tightly arranged shows and spectacular musicianship had his stagecraft completely together, even at this earliest phase. If you were at The Paradise on August 18, 1979, you just knew that nothing was going to hold this guy back.” He would of course go on to sell millions of records, get enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, not to mention his amazing work with Farm Aid. This year’s concert takes place in 2 weeks in Pennsylvania.

Here is John Cougar before the Mellancamp performing “I Need A Lover” from the Paradise stage

Billy Joel (1980)

Last week on 40-for-40 we featured a surprise pop up show done by Aerosmith in 1978. This week we look back on 4 secret shows that Billy Joel did at The Paradise in 1980.

The morning of the first show, WBCN’s Charles Lacquidera went on the air and said, “If you’re a fan of Billy Joel, be in the Boston area between 8:30 and 9;30 this morning….I mean it!” It was Billy’s idea to keep the shows a secret so that only devoted fans would be there for the 4 night stand. Much like Aerosmith, Billy wanted to record tracks for an upcoming live which would eventually be called “Songs From The Attic”. Backstage after the show The Globe’s Steve Morse asked Billy how it felt to play his first club show in 5 years and his response was, “There’s nowhere to run, there’s nowhere to hide, I liked it but it felt so weird. The cool thing was that I can’t play my obscure stuff in a coliseum… and that’s what I wanted to do here.”

The sets were a mix of hits, covers and rarely heard stuff from his early days. The one song from these shows that made it on to his live Songs from The Attic record was “She’s Got A Way” which originally came out back in 1971. The performance of this song was released as a single and it got all the way up to #23 on the Billboard chart. To my knowledge, it’s the only song recorded live at the Paradise that became a top 40 hit. Here’s Billy Joel with “She’s Got A Way” as it was heard in June of 1980 at The Paradise:

The Call (1986)

It was seven years ago tomorrow that we lost Michael Been, lead vocalist of The Call, at the very young age of 60 years old. So, we thought we’d go back to 1986 and hear him and his band from The Paradise Stage. The band was touring in support of their great album, Reconcile, which features the song you’re about to hear, “I Still Believe.” These days, the band still occasionally play out, with Michael’s son, Robert Levon Been handling the lead vocals — and man does he sound like his Dad!

From June 5, 1986, here is Michael Been & The Call, recorded at The Paradise, with “I Still Believe”:

Aerosmith (1978)

On August 9th 1978, the marquee at the Paradise nightclub read: “Appearing tonight, Dr. J. Jones & The Interns.” Boston radio DJs talked about how this was going to be a very “special” show. Word eventually got leaked out that Dr. J. Jones & The Interns were actually… Aerosmith, doing a surprise pop-up show! At this point, Aerosmith was playing large arenas, but they wanted to record some live tracks in smaller venues, and those songs would end up on their Live Bootleg album which came out later that year. Commonwealth Avenue got overrun, both Aerosmith fans and attendees of a disco festival happening down the street. It was so bad that not only was Comm Ave. shut down, but the Green Line B Branch had to close early.

Those that were lucky to get in were treated to a 2-hour blistering show that wrapped up at about 1:30 AM. And this song ended up on the Live Bootleg album. From a historic night in 1978, here are the legendary bad boys of Boston… Aerosmith, from the Paradise stage, with “Last Child”:

FEATURES 21-30 (aired June 2 – Aug 4)

Paul Carrack & Nick Lowe (1985)

Today’s audio once again comes to us from Sam Kopper, who has been doing live music broadcasts for many years, and continues to do so today with his company Locomotive Media. On Oct 17, 1985, Paul Carrack and Nick Lowe came to Boston and played a show at The Paradise. Paul joined up with Nick a few years earlier, soon after his brief time with the band Squeeze, and appeared on three of Nick’s solo album. This was one of the last shows they would do together, before moving on to other projects. Paul would go on to work with artists like Roger Waters, Elton John, and of course, he had a number of hits as a member of Mike & The Mechanics.

That night at The Paradise, the set list consisted of songs from both Nick’s and Paul’s careers, including this one, a song that Paul recorded with his first band, Ace, that went all the way to #3 here in America. From 1985, here is Paul Carrack & Nick Lowe from the Paradise stage, with “How Long”:

The Cars (1978)

Today’s audio comes to us courtesy of Boston Radio icon Sam Kopper who’s been doin’ live music radio broadcasts for a long time. And he’s still doing it, along with live video shooting and streaming with his company Locomote Media. Sam recorded this show for WBCN on July 1st 1978 when The Cars took The Paradise stage. This was just a few weeks after the release of their debut album, which would go on to spend 139 weeks on the Billboard chart. 39 years later, it’s still regarded as one of the greatest albums to come out of the city of Boston. They were up for induction in to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year but fell just short – Let’s hope that changes next year Hall of Fame voters!

Featuring the late great Ben Orr on lead vocals, here are The Cars from The Paradise in 1978 with “Moving In Stereo”:

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1978)

As we get ready for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ second show at The Garden tonight, we thought we’d go back 39 years to one of Tom’s earliest shows here in Boston. The concert was recorded on July 16, 1978 at the Paradise Rock Club for broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. The band had elevated itself to small theaters by this point, but the Paradise was a Class A showcase room and better set up for a live recording. Touring in support of their second album You’re Gonna Get It!, the band played stuff from that record, their first album, and a chunk of cool ’60s covers like “Route 66” and “Shout!”

One of the highlights was actually the song the band ended their set with at The Garden last night. From 1978, let’s enjoy a young Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers from The Paradise stage, playing “American Girl”:

Saint Paul & The Broken Bones (2014)

Today we go back to the not too distant past and play one from 2014, when St. Paul ∧ The Broken Bones played a sold out River show at The Paradise. Our friends from WGBH radio were there as well filming the show for their Front Row Boston concert series.

From October 21st, 2014, here are St. Paul & The Broken Bones, tearing up the Paradise stage with “Call Me”:

Robin Lane & The Chartbusters (1980)

For 40 years, The Paradise has been the landing spot for some of the biggest artists all around the world. And of course, it’s been home to some of the great local bands that have come up through the ranks. In 1980, The Paradise hosted a show featuring Boston’s own Robin Lane & The Chartbusters. It was a big moment for the group as the concert was broadcast live locally on WBCN. This song was a hit locally thanks to BCN, but it was a year later in August of 1981 when it reached a national audience. It was one of the first videos played, in the first hour of the first day of MTV Music Television.

From The Paradise stage on April 15th 1980, Here’s “When Things Go Wrong” by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters:

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes (1978)

There was something about playing live at The Paradise that brought out the best in musicians. Many performances over the 40 year history of the club were released as either live tracks or full albums entirely. That’s what Jersey’s own Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes did. They played a pre-Christmas Paradise show in 1978 and the show was so fantastic, they put out the album 1978 – Live in Boston. This was Johnny and his band at their peak. Playing tracks from their latest album Hearts of Stone which was co written by Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zant, and some classic covers, like this one.

From December 23rd, 1978, here’s Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes with “Having A Party”…I can’t think of a better way to kick off a long holiday weekend!

Todd Rundgren (1982)

Todd Rundgren hit the road in 1982 and it was a true solo tour in every sense of the word. Todd would take the stage with just his guitars, keyboards, and a ReVox reel-to-reel tape recorder, which featured backing tracks of his best known songs, on which he had played all the instruments. This allowed for a very intimate evening with the audience, and Todd is very funny with his song anecdotes. And financially, being a one man band sure cuts back on the tour expenses. Todd Rundgren fans both in Boston and all over America were able to hear this show as it was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour.

So let’s go back to February 12th 1982 and hear Todd Rundgren solo on the Paradise stage with “I Saw The Light”:

Eagle Eye Cherry (1998)

For this week’s feature, we go back to 1998, when Eagle Eye Cherry took the Paradise stage. This song was an absolute smash in his native Sweden and throughout the rest of Europe, and with B.U. back in session, a large number of international students could be seen mouthing all the words. The legendary WBCN broadcasted the show and this song later turned up on one of their Naked compilation CD’s.

From August 31, 1998 here is Eagle Eye Cherry with “Save Tonight”:

R.E.M. (1983)

July 13th 1983, when R.E.M. performed a headlining show at The Paradise, was special for many reasons. First of all, the opening band was an up-and-coming group from Minnesota called The Replacements. And R.E.M.’s performance was broadcast live on a number of stations around the country. After the original broadcast, the show was buried in an archive and not heard for may years. But recently it was unearthed and a couple of the songs from that night were included as bonus tracks on The IRS Vintage Years edition of R.E.M’s album Murmer.

From that historic night in 1983, from The Paradise stage, here’s R.E.M. with “Pretty Persuasion”:

The Strumbellas (2016)

Today we feature a band from Canada, in fact one of the biggest new bands to come out of that country, The Strumbellas, who hit the Paradise stage late last year. The show was filmed by the good people at WGBH Radio for their Front Row Boston Concert Series. The River was the first station to play The Strumbellas in Boston, and for a brand new band hearing your song on the radio is a pretty cool thing. Here them talk about that in the clip below.

From this past October at the Paradise, here’s The Strumbellas and “Spirits”:

FEATURES 11-20 (aired Mar 24 – May 26)

The Pixies (2017)

This past weekend was a homecoming weekend for the Pixies, with three shows in the Boston area. On Sunday night, they played the Paradise, to celebrate the venues 40th anniversary. The River broadcast the show live, and what a great time it was! Our own Bill Abbott said he’d never seen the Paradise so crowded and so electric. It was a real Boston rock & roll moment—an instant classic.

From this past Sunday night at the Paradise, here are the Pixies, with “Monkey Gone to Heaven”:

Greg Kihn Band (1985)

Greg Kihn began his career in his hometown of Baltimore,working in the singer/songwriter mold, but switched to straightforward rock & roll when he moved to San Francisco in 1972. And when the 80’s hit, Greg and his band started having hits. His 2 biggest being “Jeopardy” and this song, which was originally released back in 1981. Greg has said that the guy in this song is both sad about his recent breakup and the fact that they don’t write good breakup songs anymore.

From the Paradise stage in 1985, here is the Greg Kihn Band with “The Break Up Song”:

Pretenders (1980)

Today on Forty for Forty we go back to 1980, when the legendary Pretenders took the Paradise stage. This was the original lineup of The Pretenders at their peak, thank goodness somebody was rolling tape. Sadly within a 3 year span after this performance, both original members James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndon would both die from drug related causes.

Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers would keep The Pretenders going and 30 years later they are still recording new music and playing live, most recently on tour with Stevie Nicks!

From March 23rd 1980, here are The Pretenders from The Paradise in all their glory. Chrissie Hynde, take it away:

Letters to Cleo (2016)

This 40-for-40 performance took place this past November, when the Boston band Letters to Cleo hit the Paradise stage. The Boston group, formed back in 1990 by Kay Hanley and guitarist Greg Mckenna, Letters to Cleo became one of the defining local bands of that decade. Last year, the band reunited to record a new EP and play some shows. November’s Paradise show was filmed by our friends at WGBH radio for their Front Row Boston concert series (and we appreciate them letting us play it!). Backstage at The Paradise the band talked about gettin’ back together.

Let’s here the song that broke them nationwide. From Nov 19, 2016, here is Boston’s own Letters to Cleo from The Paradise with “Here And Now”:

Split Enz (1980)

Being a huge Neil Finn fan, I’m psyched to say that we’ll be featuring his first band Split Enz on today’s 40-for-40. This show took place at The Paradise on October 11th, 1980. At that point, Split Enz had achieved some success in America. But that next August, MTV launched and a number of Split Enz videos were put into heavy rotation, including “One Step Ahead”, “History Never Repeats” and the song we’re about to play right now.

From the Paradise stage in 1980, Here is a very young Neil & Tim Finn – it’s Split Enz with “I Got You”.

The Lone Bellow (2013)

Today we go back to 2013 when our good friends The Lone Bellow took the stage. A band who’s song “Bleeding Out” was pretty much the song of the year here in 2013. On November 20th, The River presented The Lone Bellow in a sold out show at The Paradise. And our friends from WGBH radio filmed the show for their “Front Row Boston Concert Series”. You can actually watch the whole concert on their You Tube page and we thank them for letting us play the audio. Backstage at The Paradise, Kanene from the band talks here about their amazing 3 part harmony.

From Nov 20, 2013, here is The Lone Bellow and “Bleeding Out”:

Lenny Kravitz (1990)

This past Friday at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, Lenny Kravitz paid tribute to Prince by performing 2 of his hits “When Doves Cry” and “The Cross”. So in turn, we thought we’d honor Lenny by featuring a track from his show at The Paradise on March 28, 1990.

Lenny was touring in support of his debut album and the show that night was broadcast live on the legendary WBCN. Lenny apparently liked this performance so much, that he put it on the deluxe edition of the album “Let Love Rule”. And here it is from 1990, Lenny Kravitz live at The Paradise with “Let Love Rule”:

Hall & Oates (1979)

Today’s Forty for Forty not only celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Paradise Rock Club, but also today we celebrate the 69th birthday of John Oates….one half of the legendary duo Hall & Oates. Back on December 7th 1979, Hall & Oates performed their last club show (to date) in Boston at The Paradise.

This was sort of the period between their initial hits and then the next batch of hits during the MTV era that rocketed them to superstardom. Just 7 months after this show, they would release the album Voices (the first record they produced on their own) which would spend a whopping 100 weeks on the Billboard album chart.

This track features co lead vocals from the birthday boy John Oates, it’s “She’s Gone”, from the Paradise stage in 1979:

The Fools (1980)

We go back to the winter of 1980 for today’s Forty For Forty. It’s only fitting with tomorrow being April Fools Day, that we play a track.. from The Fools, the legendary Boston party band. It was in 1980 that the band released their debut album “Sold Out”. Their initial success led them to being tapped as the opening band on Van Halen’s “Fair Warning” tour in 1981. The Fools are still going strong and tomorrow night you can catch them playing their annual April Fool’s Day Show at Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury. So let’s go back to Feb 7, 1980 and hear the Fools from the Paradise stage with “It’s A Night For Beautiful Girls”:

Elvis Costello (1996)

Today’s Forty for Forty took place on May 2oth 1996, when Elvis Costello and his keybordist Steve Nieve did a stripped down acoustic show at The Paradise.

The concert was special for a couple of reasons. First of all Elvis thought the performance was so good, that he released it later that year on a CD called Live at The Paradise Boston 1996. You can still find it out there if you do some digging. And it’s also special for me because, I was in the audience for that show. And during this next song when the crowd sings back the line “oh why’s that”, I swear I can hear myself…kinda.

So here we go from 21 years ago, it’s Elvis Costello live from The Paradise stage and “The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes”:

FEATURES 1-10 (aired Jan 13 – Mar 17)

Joan Jett (1981)

We are featuring a true rock & roll classic on today’s 40 for 40. A performance from The Paradise on May 15th 1981 featuring Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. After spending 4 years with her former band The Runaways, Joan went solo and formed the Blackhearts. Less than a year after this show at the Paradise, “I love Rock & Roll” would become one of the biggest hits of 1982, spending seven weeks at the top of the billboard chart.

It was just announced last week that Joan Jett & The Blackhearts will play the TD Garden this summer opening up for the band Boston.

So before this even became the anthem that we know and love, here’s Joan Jett & The Blackhearts from The Paradise stage in 1981 with “I Love Rock & Roll”. Get your lighters up, this is 40-for-40 on 92.5 the River:

Ryan Montbleau (2015)

For the past few weeks here on forty for forty we’ve been going way back to bring you classic Paradise performances from The Police, Xtc, and even Glenn Frey. This week it’s just a short trip back to April 16, 2015 and one of two sold-out shows at the Paradise featuring local singer songwriter Ryan Montbleau. The show was filmed by our friends at WGBH radio for their Front Row Boston concert series. Here Ryan talks about these shows and the history he’s had at The Paradise.

One of the tunes featured during Ryan’s set was the song “75 & Sunny” which has become his trademark song:

The Police (1979)

This past November, Sting released his first rock album in 13 years. And to get back to his gritty roots, he’s embarked on a club tour around America. On March 8th he’ll be in Boston playing a show at The House of Blues.
So to celebrate this, we thought we’d go way back and hear something from when Sting and The Police first hit the clubs, a show they did at The paradise on April 9th 1979.

So here is a 27 year old Sting and The Police from The Paradise in 1979 and “Can’t Stand Losing You”

XTC (1980)

Today’s 40 for 40 features a band that was together for 34 years, but many of us never got a chance to see live. XTC – they played just a handful of shows in Boston in a a very small window of time, the first being on January 29th 1980 at The Paradise.

Just 2 years later, as they approached the peak of their popularity in the UK, lead singer Andy Partridge suffered a mental breakdown while onstage in Paris. The cause, a debilitating case of stage fright. That would be the last time XTC would ever perform a live concert. They would go on to have a successful recording career, in fact their biggest hits in the US would come later. Songs like “Dear God” and “The Mayor of Simpleton”.

So for those of us who never got a chance to see em, let’s go back in time to 1980, here is XTC live from The Paradise with “Making Plans for Nigel”:

Glenn Frey (1982)

Today we feature a music legend who left us way too soon, Glenn Frey. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since his death at the age of 67.

In 1982, not long after the break up of the Eagles, Glen embarked on his first solo tour. After years of playing stadiums, he did a club tour and played The Paradise on Oct 3rd. Along with performing material from his debut solo album “No Fun Aloud”, he also did some Eagles classics.

So let’s go back to 1982, here’s Glenn Frey live at the Paradise:

Blondie (1978)

Today’s 40-for-40 concert lookback took place in 1978, when the band Blondie took the Paradise stage. Three years earlier, the band became regular performers at Max’s Kansas City and the legendary CBGB’s where they played alongside other New York City punk legends like The Ramones, Television & The Talking Heads. They were touring in support of their new album parallel lines. An album that would go on to sell over 20 million copies world wide and spawn several hit singles. In fact just 2 months after this show, “Heart of Glass” would go all the way to #1.

So let’s go back to November 4th, 1978 here is Blondie live from The Paradise and “One Way Or Another”:

Hozier (2014)

Today’s 40-for-40 centers around a concert that took place at The Paradise on Halloween night back in 2014. A sold out show featuring Hozier in his first major concert in Boston. But even before Hozier’s show that night, he played a special pre show sound mini concert for 50 lucky River listeners. The River’s own Dana Marshall was there, and she share’s her recollections in today’s feature, as well as a clip from her pre-set chat.

Here’s a bluesy haunting version of Take Me To The Church, from that Halloween night 2014, it’s Hozier live from The Paradise stage:

The Pixies (2005)

Today’s 40-for-40 features one of the most important and influential bands to come out of the city of Boston – The Pixies! A band who in their heyday didn’t really play a ton of Boston area shows. The only time I ever saw them live was when they opened up for U2 at the Providence Civic Center on the Trompe Le Monde tour. Well after breaking up in 1993, the band reunited and played a show in 2005 at The Paradise. And if you haven’t heard the big news, the band is going back to play the Paradise on May 21, 2017!

So Let’s go back to that Paradise show on August 8th, 2005, and play you the song that kicked off the night. This is 40-for-40 on 92.5 the River — Black Francis, take it away:

R.E.M. (1983)

So who’s your favorite band. Well for me it is and always will be R.E.M. And on July 13th 1983, just three months after the release of their breakthrough debut album, Murmur, R.E.M. played a headlining show at The Paradise in Boston. The set list featured tracks from Murmur and their Chronic Town EP…even an encore cover of “California Dreamin” by The Mamas and The Papas. There was so much buzz about this Athens georgia group that the show was broadcast live on a number of different stations around the country….and the tapes have survived. By the way opening up the concert that night was a young band from Minnesota called The Replacements.

From July 13th, 1983 here is R.E.M. recorded live at The Paradise, playing “Radio Free Europe”:

U2 (1980)

On today’s 40for40, we’re going back to Dec. 13, 1980 when a bunch of scruffy Irish rockers showed up to play the Paradise for the first time. The lead singer thought they were a terrible club band. But Don Law booked them anyway. That band was U2. There were about 150 people in the audience when they went on. Globe columnist Kevin Cullen said it best. “That night has become the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of Game 6 of the ’75 World Series. The same 2 million people who claim they saw Carlton Fisk’s walk-off home run also claim they were at U2’s first gig at the Paradise.”

This concert began U2’s strong connection with the city of Boston, a “home away from home”. And this just in … the band will celebrate the 30th anniversary of “The Joshua Tree” by performing the whole album at Gillette Stadium this June.

Here’s a live version of “I Will Follow” from U2’s first album “Boy” as it might have sounded on December 13th, 1980 at the Paradise Rock Club: