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San Antonio’s Spirit of the Radio: Remembering Joe Anthony

October 15th, 2015

It’s the season for conjuring up spirits. And for some reason, I’ve been haunted lately by one spirit in particular….that of a rock legend who’s been gone now for over 23 years. Yet, I can close my eyes…remember his voice…and be instantly transported back in time- every time I listen to one of the legendary rock tunes this pioneering disc jockey brought to South Texas listeners of KISS-FM / KMAC-AM radio back in the day…

Like so many others who grew up in San Antonio- “the Heavy Metal Capital of the world!” on Friday nights, I worshipped at the altar of The Godfather.

Legendary Rock DJ Joe Anthony

 

 

THE ROCK GODFATHER

Joe Anthony was the Godfather of Rock N Roll.

The San Antonio-native radio DJ not only played incredible music, introducing unbelievably talented bands over the airwaves…but he also brought the bands to the masses. He was pivotal in importing overseas bands to America, in some cases for their very first shows in the states. That was certainly the case when I saw Def Leppard for the first time, with original guitarist/founder Pete Willis. And Joe’s influence wasn’t just limited to foreign imports: he did plenty for American rock legends, too, like Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Queensryche, just to name a few.

 

 

One of my earliest concerts was Def Leppard, when their big hit was "Wasted," a song Joe Anthony played relentlessly over SA airwaves. The band happily played it to a huge crowd at Hemisphere Arena in 1980.

One of my earliest concerts was Def Leppard, when their big hit was “Wasted,” a song Joe Anthony played relentlessly over SA airwaves. The band happily played it to a huge crowd at Hemisfair Arena in 1980.

 

 

Another early concert I went to completely blew my mind: Triumph! Bassist Mike Levine became one of my early musical heroes.

TRIUMPH was another early concert I went to that completely blew me away! Bassist Mike Levine became one of my early musical heroes, and the stage show was unlike any other at the time.

 

Canadian rock trio RUSH pose with DJ Joe Anthony, who arranged a special concert for the band at SA's intimate venue, Randy's Rodeo, in 1975.

Canadian rock trio RUSH pose with DJ Joe Anthony, who arranged a special concert for the band at SA’s intimate venue, Randy’s Rodeo, in 1975.

 

From Ted Nugent to Triumph, from RUSH to Def Leppard…with UFO, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, and scores of other groups in between, Joe Anthony is commonly cited in early LP liner notes as a ‘Special Thanks’ key contributor. Just look him up…

 

I was a little rocker, weened on hard rock and heavy metal- all thanks to the Godfather of Rock!

I was a little rocker, weened on hard rock and heavy metal- all thanks to the Godfather of Rock. (note the Rob Halford-inspired spiked belt and leather bracelets!!)

 

Even though I was just a kid during Joe’s pinnacle run, like any hardcore listener I was blown away by his radio shows! And I went to more than 80 concerts back in the day that he had a hand in. That music changed our lives. We would have never heard it…if it weren’t for the Godfather’s careful touch.

Though I never got to actually meet the man in person, I did get to speak to him. I would call in to his Battle of the Bands shows and his special request hours, and hearing that unique, one-of-a-kind radio voice on the other end of the phone was a huge thrill!

It was quite commonplace to hear lots of record scratches in the middle of some of Joe’s favorite tunes that got the most airplay…like “Blinding Light Show/Moonchild” by Triumph, “Victim of Changes” by Judas Priest and “Holiday” by the Scorpions…

Triumph's Just A Game tour brought them to SA in 1979, for one of my very first concerts.

TRIUMPH’s Just A Game tour brought them to SA in 1979, for one of my very first concerts.

Joe was never shy about chiming in right in the middle of a particularly badass tune, either. I recall how pumped up he would get during his shows and sometimes just screech, “Rock N Roll!!!” right in the middle of a song. I remember the first time I heard “Suite Madame Blue” by Styx…of course, it was courtesy of the Godfather- and in the hard-rocking bridge of the song, Joe inserted himself…right on cue. He was quite the spontaneous showman!

Joe Anthony was most at home behind the microphone at 99.5 KISS radio in San Antonio, where he helped turn unknown bands like Triumph into international superstars.

Joe Anthony was most at home behind the microphone at 99.5 KISS radio in San Antonio, where he helped turn unknown bands like Triumph into international superstars.

 

The legendary DJ caused many of us to hit the local Sound Warehouse or Davey’s Locker in a hurry to add to our record collections. (I still have the original vinyl from Starz, sampled below…)

In those days there were other radio shows of influence: like ‘Dr. Demento’ and the King Biscuit Flower Hour (which I can still remember staying up for to get the static-y transmission from Houston to hear a QUEEN concert one time.) On TV, the “Midnight Special” with another legendary radio DJ, Wolfman Jack, was key in introducing up and coming new acts as well. But make no mistake: Joe was in a class all by himself. RUSH said it best: he was the Spirit of the radio!

That Spirit has long been gone far too long, was taken far too soon and is deeply missed every single day.

Joseph Anthony Yannuzzi was a good soul, too: he took care of his mother and made his mark on the San Antonio landscape with his famous landmark restaurants like Mr. Pizza and Villa Italia. Some said Joe also had an interest in the Godfathers Pizza chain, and that was how he wound up with the Italian Godfather moniker. As with any legend, there is lore…and folklore. But there is no question he touched countless lives with his tastemaker talent and song-picking genius.

It was a tremendous shock to all his fans when he died from lung cancer on September 12, 1992. He was only 55.

The final resting place in San Antonio for the "Godfather of Rock N Roll."

The final resting place in San Antonio for the “Godfather of Rock N Roll.”

 

GONE…BUT NOT FORGOTTEN…

I know that Joe’s spirit lives on through the music he shared with all of us. Every time I hear a legendary tune from that era it brings a flood of memories back to life. And as a long-time listener who went on to make music myself, I know that his spirit reverberates in my own sound.

I can only hope my music today would somehow make the cut of my rock hero’s impeccable taste meter. In particular, with my songs like “Waiting For A Sign,” “Lost In A Touch,” and “One Last Stand,” I hope that somewhere…….a fist is raised…..and that immortal voice of the airwaves is exclaiming- as only Joe Anthony could- “ROCK ON!”

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For my own October séance, here’s a master playlist of the Godfather himself. These were some of Joe’s favorite tunes, and each one will take you on a Rock N Roll journey like nothing else. This is just about as close as you can get to feeling Joe’s spirit again today.

WARNING: the music you are about to experience is the hardest, dirtiest, coolest, most badass rock on the planet!

No matter what your background, if you do not instantly begin to ROCK OUT upon listening to Starz, see a doctor IMMEDIATELY! You have no pulse!!!

BONUS: For die-hard Joe fans who will remember the last days of Disco, here’s a sweet jam from SWEET, who came to SA in 1979 thanks to much airplay from Joe Anthony…

Michael Lee Releases Another New Track!

May 2nd, 2012

It may be MAYDAY, but Michael Lee isn’t sending out distress signals. Fresh off the heels of his nomination for ‘Best Rock Song’ by Indie Music Channel for “Hold On Till Heaven,” Michael Lee is offering fans another glimpse into his long-awaited forthcoming full-length album, “No More Fairytales.” Today he released the track, “All The Pretty Faces,” a U2-esque tune with plenty of bite and quiet, political “edge.” Fans can stream the track here on the website and other fan-based platforms like Indie Music Channel.

What's behind a pretty face? And how do we know?

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Michael Lee Shares Special Song for A Special Remembrance

March 14th, 2012

Three years ago today….a little 10-year-old boy named Tristan was lost to a fatal asthma attack. Two months later, a group of bands in Houston, TX circulated a flyer about Tristan’s story and a benefit concert they were playing to help his family and raise funds for the Breath of Hope Foundation.

Although I never knew this little boy or even met him, his picture touched me. And I wrote a song for him called “Let Go.” Today, on this somber anniversary for his family, I share Tristan’s song with all of you. And if you’d like to help keep his memory alive, please go to Breath of Hope.org to make a donation.

Michael Lee Releases New Tracks from Upcoming Album

February 9th, 2012

Valentine’s Day is known as a day for lovers, and for music lovers– they will get a special treat this year: a sneak peek at more songs from Michael Lee’s next album, “No More Fairytales.” The song “One Last Stand” from the album is already streaming and was a big hit with fans in the Middle East during the Egyptian uprising last Spring.

The title track ‘No More Fairytales’ will be available for streaming beginning on Tuesday, February 14th. Since 2012 is predicted to be the end of the world, “No More Fairytales” will be the perfect Valentine for Michael Lee fans. And in the upcoming months, more tracks will follow…leading up to the new album release, or of course the End of the World, whichever comes first.

Michael Lee Band Celebrates Cyber Week with Special CD Offer!

November 29th, 2011

Michael Lee celebrates the one-year anniversary of his EP “Hold On Till Heaven” with a special Cyber Week offer from CD Baby! Just click on the link below:

Michael Lee: Hold on Till Heaven

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/michaellee2

Or if you prefer to order from iTunes, you can go here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hold-on-till-heaven-ep/id405100980

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/find-me/id413812396?i=413812397

Enjoy & have a Rockin Cyber week!!

Michael Lee SPINs FREE Download for the Sake of Pop (chips, that is!)

September 3rd, 2011

Here’s a special way to get my single, “Hold On Till Heaven.” Just go to PopChips Official Facebook page, “like” their page, then on the “Pop Up Live” app… you’ll find Michael Lee Band under Los Angeles. You can download our song for Free, which counts as a “vote” for our band to win a special event with SPIN magazine! Just click on the banner link below, and you’re there:

Michael%20Lee%20Band

We’re stoked to be part of this special promotion honoring the top bands in five major US cities, which means we’re in the Top 50 for Los Angeles! (or as Lenny Kravitz would say, “Rock Star City Life!”)  Yeah, baby! So we need your support!!

We have two weeks to get as many votes (free downloads of our song) as possible. All downloading (voting) ends at 1pm EST on Monday, September 12th. So… ROCK THE VOTE!  you don’t even need to go to the polls…just log onto Facebook & make it happen. And watch us ROCK Hollywood!

You can only 'Vote' once, but you can download our song for Free as much as you like during the promotion.

After ‘Stealing Time,’ Get “Swept Away” with Michael Lee

July 15th, 2011

I have a gift for you! It’s my second summer release…an alt-pop single called “Swept Away.” And it couldn’t come at a better time. The world needs some extra love right now…and this fresh, upbeat love song delivers. Vocalist Anthony Edge and I first unveiled this tune at SXSW in Austin back in March, and now we’re giving it to you. If you’re a fan of Indie bands like Foster The People, Ra Ra Riot, and even Psychedelic Furs you will love this one! We hope you do…and please share it with all your friends and family, too.

Swept Away sample by MichaelLeeBand

Start ‘Stealing Time’ with Michael Lee!

May 6th, 2011
 

  

Today Michael Lee Band released “Stealing Time,” a new single exclusively for fans only!

   

   

That’s right…this new pop gem is for our fans’ ears only & we think you’ll dig it during your upcoming summer getaways and adventures. The song was recorded earlier this year with Michael Lee and Steve Bundrick handling their usual duties but this time featuring some new contributions:  Fellow ‘Lost Boy’ bandmate Andrew Richardson added some keys and backing vocal parts while Iowa Music Hall of Fame Bassist Mike Riley handled the bass work. 

 

'Lost Boy' Andrew Richardson

 

While this song is a lot lighter than most of our previous ones, it’s one of two summer releases meant to ‘hit the spot’ for your Michael Lee fix. But hardcore rock fans fear not…when you hear the future tracks on our debut LP “No More Fairytales” you will have your appetites more than satisfied. And we think you’ll agree…it will be worth the wait!   

Enjoy this one…go make some summer memories to it…and please share with all your friends. And most of all, thank you for being the best fans in the world! (all over the world!)   

The Band in the studio back in March...from L: Mike Riley, Michael Lee, Andrew Richardson, Steve Bundrick, and additional vocalist Anthony Edge.

  

DON’T MISS MICHAEL LEE BAND IN AUSTIN DURING SXSW!

March 13th, 2011

Michael Lee Releases Single

January 18th, 2011

NOW AVAILABLE! Go to iTunes or Amazon to check it out iTunes link:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/find-me/id413812396?i=413812397