The forgotten Pete Townshend solo hit: 'A Friend Is A Friend'

When you raise kids, you end up watching their shows and movies, which at times, can be monotonous.  However, it also lets you enjoy movies you never would have thought to watch too. At the top of the list of kids movies I've seen over the years is The Iron Giant and today's Lost and Found is about Pete Townshend and the ‘80s origins of The Iron Giant.

By 1989, Pete Townshend had an established solo career away from The Who and decided his next project would be a concept music album adapting the 1968 Ted Hughes book The Iron Man in which Townshend played the part of the boy Hogarth.  For the album The Iron Man: The Musical, Townshend created a video just for the song A Friend Is A Friend that shows his vision of what the Iron Man looked like.


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30 years later, three things you didn't know about 'The Woman in Red'

I know what you're thinking. He's devoting an entire blog item to the 30th anniversary of The Woman in Red? Spearsy has lost his mind. But this movie, which starred Gene Wilder as married man who becomes obsessed with a beautiful model (Kelly LeBrock) wearing a red dress, is more noteworthy that '80s fans might originally think.

For starters, it was one of the first of many films to take a French classic and give it a new Hollywood spin. The movie in question this time? No, not 1935's The Woman in Red, but instead Yves Robert's 1976 film Pardon Mon Affaire.

Here are three more things you probably didn't know about The Woman in Red, which was released Aug. 15, 1984:

1. This was the film debut for Kelly LeBrock, who was at the time - like her character - a model. 5. Her first appearance in the red dress, which blows up as she walks over a grate, is a spoof of 1955's The Seven Year Itch.  Melanie Griffith turned down the role to instead co-star in Body Double.

2. This film was the second of three collaborations between Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder. (Can you name the others? 1982's Hanky Panky and 1986's Haunted Honeymoon.) While promoting this film later in France, the pair quietly married. In addition to starring in the movie, Wilder also directed it.

3. Few people remember that I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder appears on the soundtrack and won the Oscar and Golden Globe for best song. Stevie produced and sang many of the tunes on the soundtrack, including the funky title track.


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Luke Skywalker has a beard in Star Wars Episode VII

If there's a bright center to the shaving universe, Mark Hamill is on the planet that it's farthest from. That's right, Luke Skywalker appears to have a beard for Star Wars Episode 7. Who's scruffy-looking now?

Hamill posted the shot of himself outside the Star Wars set to his official Instagram account, so it must be true, right? Of course, facial hair is sort of a Jedi thing, so no reason to panic. If Chewbacca comes back wearing a Van Dyke, all bets are off.

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Soul Asylum an '80s band? Here's the hit you're forgetting

When you think of Soul Asylum, you mostly think of the ‘90s and Runaway Train, but for me, I grew up on Cartoon in the ‘80s with the band from Minneapolis.

By 1988, Soul Asylum had released their fourth album entitled Hang Time and the band was finally gaining some momentum on the national scene. The lead video for the album was Cartoon, but the song did not hit the charts.  The song features the leaders of the band, Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy, on guitars and sharing vocals.

The video for Cartoon alternates performance footage from the band along with clips from three vintage cartoons. When you see a guy with a crown, that is footage from the 1949 Meet King Joe, which was a cartoon promoting the "American Way" or capitalism. The mischievous clip with the colorized woman suggestively licking the candy cane is from the 1931 black and white In My Merry Oldsmobile.  The last cartoon is from the 1952 educational A is for Atom, which was designed to scare/educate children in the Post World War II Era. All are available to view on Youtube. …

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Oh captain, my captain ... our podcast tribute to Robin Williams in the '80s

Grab some tissues and maybe a glass of something strong. It's time to honor the legacy of Robin Williams with our podcast tribute.

A couple notes I should share here. First, we recorded the podcast before Robin's struggle with Parkinson's was made public, so obviously we were unable to discuss that revelation. Also, during the show, I make a quick and unresearched comment about how Netflix doesn't have many Robin Williams flicks. I was wrong about that. The Fisher King, Jumanji, World's Greatest Dad, Hook, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Popeye and The Birdcage are all streaming on Netflix. Please take time out to enjoy those films in addition to his gems from the '80s.

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Lost and found: The Alarm's would-be hit 'Rain in the Summertime'

While parts of the country are currently suffering from drought, the weather has always been a topical conversation and in the ‘80s, The Alarm made it into a great song with Rain In The Summertime.

Hailing from North Wales, The Alarm found success on the alternative scene in the states in the ‘80s and are best remembered for songs like 68 Guns, Sold Me Down The River and Rain In The Summertime. Rain In The Summertime was oddly released as a single in the winter of 1987 and made it as far as No. 71 on the US Pop Charts. The beautiful video captures The Alarm in their tamer days and less angry and political than some of the earlier efforts.

Besides touring with The Alarm, joining Big Country and trying to achieve world peace, lead singer Mike Peters is currently enlisting help to break the record for the world's longest song (currently 90 minutes and 10 seconds) to raise money for the "Love Hope Strength" charity that raises money for curing cancer. 

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Duran Duran concert film to be directed by David Lynch

Duran Duran's last tour will live again for just one night -- Sept. 10 -- as  Duran Duran: Unstaged plays U.S. theaters. The movie, showing the band’s concert at the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles, will show in more than 300 locations, according to Duran Duran's official website.

But the big news: It will be directed by David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet). That's something not to miss. Click here to watch the trailer. And click here for ticket information.

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Robin Williams had Parkinson's, widow says

New development in the tragic suicide of Robin Williams: It turns out the comedian had the early stages of Parkinson's Disease, his widow has told the media.

In a statement Thursday, Susan Schneider said: "Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid."

"Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles."

"Robin's sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly."

"It is our hope in the wake of Robin's tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid."

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Lost and found: Autograph and how they landed as Van Halen's opening act

In a recent SIT80's, there was an excellent reader mailbag story in which the podcast listener (the mysterious Todd) found out his uncle was a jogging partner of Dan Akyroyd in the ‘80s. While "Jogging in the ‘80s" probably is never going to make its own podcast, we do have one more ‘80s jogging story to relay with the band Autograph.

Autograph drummer Keni Richards struck a casual friendship with David Lee Roth back in the early ‘80s and when DLR needed to get into shape for the upcoming "1984" tour he needed a jogging partner and asked Richards if he jogged. Richards, of course, lied and said he was a jogger and so the two started running five or six miles a day through the Hollywood hills and a great friendship was forged. DLR invited Richards to come on tour as a friend, but he said he couldn't since he had some sessions lined up with his new band - Autograph. DLR pushed for Autograph to open for Van Halen and after hearing their band tape, Eddie and they boys agreed to let Autograph open up many dates on the 1984 tour and they played their first concert together in front of 22,000 in Jacksonville. …

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The sadly forgotten solo hit from David Crosby in the '80s

Yesterday we covered Crosby, Stills and Nash singing but technically without David Crosby. Today we get Crosby in on the Lost and Found action with his album rock hit Drive My Car.

While I grew up watching ESPN's Sports Center in the ‘80s, I hardly ever view it now. However, in a motel room a few weeks ago, I caught a Sports Center story on how the Indianapolis Colt's Reggie Wayne always makes a grand entrance into training camp and this year his vehicle of choice was an Indy race car. The shocking part was when Sports Center anchor Neil Everett started singing the chorus to Drive My Car at the end of the segment - which made me so ‘80s-proud.

Drive My Car was an AOR hit and reached No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock Charts in 1989.  For those expecting to hear folk harmonies usually associated with Crosby, you may be surprised to hear with a pounding rocker with the slide guitar exploits of David Lindley.  

As detailed yesterday, Crosby is on tour with CSN and has become a trivia footnote as the sperm donor for the two children of musician Melissa Etheridge and director Julie Cypher.

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8 amazing scenes from the '80s to best remember Robin Williams

One day later and I still can't get over the fact that Robin Williams isn't among us anymore. His work, however, is. And yet, I'm still conflicted. Do we celebrate his funniest roles? His saddest ones? The roles that defy categorization?

For now, just for today, I'm sharing my personal list of my seven favorite Robin Williams moments from '80s films.

7. POPEYE: I Yam What I Yam. A clunker of a movie. But this earworm stands out.

6. CLUB PARADISE: Robin Williams and Peter O'Toole together. The comedy gods have been kind to us.

5. GOOD MORNING VIETNAM: The first broadcast. It's O-six-hundred, what does the "O" stand for? Oh my god, it's early.

4. THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP: The Magic Gloves scene. I think this moment takes on added meaning with his passing.

3. MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON: The Pursuit of Happiness scene. People don't give this movie enough credit. I will watch it start to finish every time. But this scene really is something else.

2. THE BEST OF TIMES: The catch. The redemption. The scene that has me in tears every single time.

1. DEAD POETS SOCIETY: The Yawp! So many scenes to pick from Dead Poets Society, but this might be the first great scene of the movie.


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The boating anthem 'Southern Cross' is actually about ... boating

On my summer vacation, I visited the beautiful Great Lakes in the North where sitting by the peaceful shores and watching the boats sail by always remind me of Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Crosby, Still and Nash were already rock legends when they released their Daylight Again album in 1982 with the single Southern Cross making it to No. 16 on the charts. While the video features David Crosby, his drug and legal problems prevented him from singing on the recording of Southern Cross. With Stephen Stills singing lead, Graham Nash was joined on background vocals by Timothy B. Schmit (Eagles) and Art Garkfunkel.

The Southern Cross is a constellation that sailors have been using since the 15th century to traverse the South Pacific. The song lyrics were penned by Stills detailing a boat trip he took after getting divorced and charts out a path from California to the South Pacific known as the "Coconut Milk Run" that sails from the Southern Islands in Polynesia to Papeete and the Marquesas Islands by Tahiti and ending up in Avalon, California - all of which are name-dropped in the lyrics of Southern Cross. …

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Robin Williams dead at age 63 from apparent suicide

To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

Robin Williams died today. And part of us all died along with him.

Mr. Williams was just 63 years old. Early media reports vary, with some calling his death a suicide. His publicist has issued this statement: " “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."

According to Entertainment Weekly, the Marin County Coronor’s office suspects the death to be "suicide due to asphyxia." Mr. Williams lived in the North San Francisco bay area. …

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30 years of Buckaroo Banzai, the Hong Kong Cavaliers and John Bigboote

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension turns 30 years old this week, but I have to admit: I'm not sure I ever really "got" this film. Released Aug. 10, 1984, Buckaroo Banzai was the tale of a multi-talented physicist/surgeon/test pilot/rock musician named -- you guessed it -- Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, played by Peter Weller. It crossed just about every genre of film known to mere Earthlings at the time, and that's probably what tripped me up. I didn't know whether to laugh or cringe at times.

Buckaroo's band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, was pretty awful. The acting on just about everyone's part was just plain odd. (I do still love John Lithgow as the villianous Dr. Emilio Lizardo aka Lord John Whorfin.) And even though it co-stars Jeff Goldblum, who by universal design must appear in any sci-fi flick worth watching, I still shake my head at the whole thing. (Okay, so maybe I do enjoy Christopher Lloyd as John Bigboote. Well, I just like to say "John Bigboote.") …

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The Art of Noise with Max Headroom: 'Paranomia' and the hijacking of Chicago TV

One of the favorite quirky songs of the ‘80s is The Art of Noise's Paranomia and one of my favorite unsolved mysteries of the ‘80s is the Max Headroom Chicago signal intrusion so let's combine both for today's Lost and Found entry to double your pleasure.

The Art of Noise are fondly remembered by most ‘80s fans for their revolutionary video for Close to the Edit and their hits Peter Gunn and Kiss with Tom Jones. "Paranomia" teamed up the experimental English techno group with the pop culture phenomenon Max Headroom to produce a Top 40 hit that reached No. 34 in 1986. 

The video for Paranomia captures the herky-jerky movements of Max Headroom, voiced by Matt Frewer, and the song provides some great laughs, especially when Max weighs in on poetry while discussing his Paranomia, which is a combination of paranoia and insomnia. The Art of Noise broke up in 1990, but reunited for one album in 1998, before finally calling it a day. …

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