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Do You Remember Bloodrock? Um, Oh Yeah…

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At 45 I have been listening rabidly to rock music for over 35 years – I AM classic rock. If it came out in the late-’60s or ’70s, I pretty much know it, but I have to admit all I remember about Bloodrock are their album covers. Barry Stoller passionately seeks to rectify that:

    “I still have dreams about Bloodrock. It’s always in slow motion and the band is starting to play and I’m in back still trying to put my drumkit together. I’ve concluded there is an absence of resolution and conclusion that is profound and I would be willing to bet that all 6 of us have some form of the same dream” (Rick Cobb, May 7 2003).

    In those dark insecure days following the 9/11 attacks, I remember the moment a crack of light – a little unintended levity – emerged, however briefly. The Clear Channel radio conglomerate published a list of 150 songs ‘best avoided’ by its zillions of affiliates in the immediate wake of 9/11.

    There were some that were apparently considered too ideologically amped (Barry McGuires’ ‘Eve of Destruction’), too flippant (Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’) and, to the outrage of liberals everywhere, simply too hopeful (Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Trouble Water’). As amusing as the list was, I was thunderstruck to note an incredible omission: Bloodrock’s ‘DOA.’

    ‘DOA,’ a heavy metal chronicle of an airplane crash’s bloody aftermath is, after all, the supreme candidate for a ‘forbidden’ 9/11 tune. ‘I remember – we were flying along, and hit something in the air; laying here, looking at the ceiling, someone lays a sheet across my chest…’ And so on – with shrieking sirens – until the vocalist’s last gruesome gasp.

    Whew! How could Clear Channel have omitted ‘DOA’? Just because it’s been forgotten for decades is no excuse. No station has played ‘Eve of Destruction’ since the Johnson administration, so the list was more an aesthetic document than a real guide to censorship (DJ’s haven’t been permitted to play songs on a whim since Reagan took office). Talk about lost fame.

    I’ve always loved underdog bands and in such negative sweepstakes Bloodrock is a major contender. How underdog is Bloodrock? On Grand Funk Railroad’s box anthology, the booklet’s opening photo shows the boys from Flint embarking on yet another stadium-shaking US tour, standing proudly in front of a GFR jet, surrounded by their ‘road crew.’ Whoops – half of the ‘road crew’ shown is their perennial openers, Bloodrock. Ouch.

    Like Grand Funk Railroad (with whom they share an association through being initially produced by the infamous hype-meister Terry Knight), 1999 was the year their long-neglected canon was (finally) reissued. That summer, a fan convention got three of the former members together for a one-off ‘reunion’ set in a small Dallas club. Bad timing, dudes! Unless you happened to live in Belgrade, the final year of the Clinton administration was completely lacking in the vital sturm-ung-drang necessary for the group who gave the world the ultimate death anthem. No, late 2001 would have been much better.

    ….9/11 was big and it demanded a big song. ‘Eve of Destruction,’ ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ even ‘Bridge Over Trouble Water’ were not bad, but not nearly big enough. The forbidden Clear Channel tunes fell woefully short.

    For my money, a Bloodrock reunion singing ‘DOA’ (‘to benefit the survivors of the 9/11 attacks,’ of course) would have been an atomic-sized hit. Tasteless, disrespectful and vaguely subversive? Sure, exactly in the spirit of the song was when it charted #36 on the AM dial (in January 1971) – only 10 times more tasteless, disrespectful and vaguely subversive, all the better to keep up with today’s youth.

    ….Looking at Bloodrock’s particular brand of unpatriotic nihilism, it wouldn’t much matter if they knew or didn’t know what sort of vein they were tapping into with ‘DOA’ (and later releases).

    The cultural manifestation of society is erected by and reflects the material basis supporting society – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it understands why it’s doing so. Reinforcement theory: get a reward for leaning in one direction and, sure enough, another lean in the same direction follows. Bloodrock didn’t create the current, they were merely a fascinating display of the current.

    ‘DOA’ was their only radio hit. They produced a string of great LPs – each selling less than before as the band grew increasingly artistic and ambitious. The free fall was precipitous… commercial oblivion… breakup… bitterness… day jobs…

And that’s just part of Chapter 1 – fascinating.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www,mobiusstreet.blogspot.com Hazy Dave

    Eric, I always thought “DOA” was about a car crash. I have no authority for this, but I always interpreted “we were flying low and hit something in the air” as indicating driving while high or under the influence of something…

  • Eric Olsen

    Dave, your memory is far better than mine, I didn’t even remember the song. I’m not sure where I was.

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    I thought it was “we were flying along.” And how do you “fly low” in a car anyway?

    Bloodrock was one of the first band I ever saw live. Unfortunately, this was the post-D.O.A. outfit, so despite pleas from the crowd, they wouldn’t play their only hit.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    I dug up “DOA” again. In theory, it’s fairly cheesy, but I have to say that it really is a pretty effective record. It does articulate a strong aura of morbid dread.

    Indeed, I’d rate this one song, at least, higher than any one recording of Black Sabbath. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

    For an eight minute plus recording, it actually doesn’t really give any significant details of whatever kind of accident exactly is being described. “We were flying along and hit something in the air.” Sounds like a plane wreck, but it could be something where they’ve driven off a cliff or gotten thrown through a windshield. Hard telling.

  • Eric Olsen

    add sex to the story and you have “Warm Leatherette”

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Exactly how do you add sex to the DOA scenario? Some kind of necrophilic deal?

  • Eric Olsen

    pre-necro

  • http://www.utopia2000.org Barry Stoller

    When I posted chapter 1 on Indymedia, loads of people debated the circumstances of the crash in case – instead of taking me, Bloodrock’s biographer, at my word. Ah, ye of little faith…

    From part 5 of my bio…

    Rick Cobb [Bloodrock drummer/lyricist] noted (in conversation, May 7 2003):”[Bloodrock vocalist Jim] Rutledge swears the song was about a car crash, but 100% of the public thought air crash and 5/6 of the band thought air crash, so air crash it is!”

  • http://www,mobiusstreet.blogspot.com Hazy Dave

    If it was a plane crash, it’d be hitting something on the ground, right? ;-> The lyric sounds like “we were flying-a-low” to me, so perhaps that can be transliterated into grammatical English in a couple ways. So, I took the “flying” part to be metaphorical. (You wouldn’t be HIGH by any chance, would you?) The girlfriend, the ambulance sounds, I always just took it as the sludge rock successor to “Last Kiss”. So, I vote with the vocalist on this one, and if 99% of the public and the band (including the lyricist!)thinks it sounds like a plane crash scenario, that’s cool. Even the best lyrics can often be interpreted in various ways…

    Oh, but this site says:

    Misheard Lyrics:
    We were flying alone and hit something in the air
    Correct Lyrics:
    We were flying low and hit something in the air

    So, maybe there’s 2% of the public that agrees with me… OTOH, incorrect information has been inadvertantly posted to the internet now and then, so maybe the 9 out of 10 sites that refer to “flying along” are right after all.

    Isn’t it great to waste time analyzing disposable pop culture from 30 years ago? Oh well, time to see if I can close all these pop-up windows from lyrics sites without crashing this fine web browser and operating system.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks for the research Dave, you are coolest!

  • garrison

    bloodrock ! wow.. one of the greatest bands of all time. powerful and great rock melodicism.
    as a teenager, i was in a band that did covers by the “underground” bands of the day. bloodrock was one of the groups we did. don’t remember all, but i do remember we did gotta find a way, doa and lucky in the morning.
    i miss groups like this that had a lot of musicality without the pop plague.

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Garrison, I am amazed how many people remember these guys, very interesing.

  • Mark Gatzke

    I was fortunate enough to make it to a small Bloodrock reunion in Dallas, Texas, in May, 1999. Three of the members of Bloodrock showed up. Despite the fact that it was billed as a convention, it ended up being a very pleasant day with about a dozen of us fans, Steve Hill, Nick Taylor, and Ed Grundy spending some up close, personal time together including a nice lunch at a cozy bar and grill across the street from the convention site. It was easily one of the major highlights of my life as I’ve been a huge fan of the band since their first album.

  • Ed

    Wow, now I know who these guys are. They play the full version of DOA here in San Antonio on KZEP 104.5 but have yet to say who they are. My search to find the name of the band brought me here.

  • David E Martin

    I’m surprised anyone ever thought the song was about a plane crash. Remember this was the psychadelic drug era of rock. The singer and his late girlfriend were tripping on LSD and going for a drive. A fun combination if you’re on the Bonneville Salt Flats but otherwise a Darwinian move!
    Thanks for finally identifying this song for me. My only copy was snagged off the air on my trusty cassette player/recorder.

  • Justin Rupert

    Man the song is not about LSD, or any other drug or sex for that matter. The keyboardist was at an airport a plane went to take off and crashed about 200 feet in the air. so they wrote a song about it

  • http://www.gotmedley897654.com Davies Smith ( musicmaker)

    Hello– Bloodrock really bring vary scary thought when a was really young! My big sister
    heard it on the radio, and we both did. Anyway,
    I was really into hard rock music and there was just some thing about it. was so erieeee! He( in the song) looked over(after crashing) and saw his girlfriend dead.. with a distant stare— ( dead with eyes open) I think
    from time to time about that band— no-one talks about them, Im 46– is it because was too
    scary to think about? hmmm. Anyway,
    the CRASH, I think they on a mini-bike. Just how he explans in the song. Bloodrock– they were great musicians to. I am am from Alabama–
    we love and apreciate great southern rock.

  • Terry Blalock

    Davies I do not mean any disrespect but– why would in the name of heavens think they [assume a couple] were riding along on a darn mini-bike??? Then crashing! But you sure can spell good… ha! However, I do love Alabama– my ex-wives cousin lived there. It is beautiful, with natural lovely pine trees, good bowling also. Bloodrock was really cool! I heard Korn was to do a remake of DOA.

  • Justin Rupert

    I still don’t think it’s about a car crash or a bike crash. check out blookrocks website, the keyboard player talks all about the song. Although it does sound like they did crash and proably died….you can think about how you want, just like Pink Floyds The Wall, does pink die in the end or just go nuts….You decide!!!! :)

  • Justin rupert

    Check out this site The last paragraph on page 1

  • Tommie Thompson

    Jan 1971, I was in the 11th grade when I first heard this song. I thought it was creepy, morbid and fasinating. It was always my belief and still is, (having just now listened to the entire 8+ min song 3 times)that it was an air collision. Unless the guy was Evel Knievel, it’s unlikely a car or motorcycle going airbourne and then hitting something in the air. Also,there’s no way to believe that drugs were an issue here and certainly no sex implied or otherwise. I find the most obvious answer is usually the correct answer. As an ex-army chopper pilot, it sounds logical! Even a bird strike (can) bring down an airplane.

    As for the guy dying? The song is pretty clear in the lyrics, that his life is almost over.
    First, the attendant in the ambulance whispers in his ear that there’s no chance for him. Then he describes how as his blood is draining from his body, so too is his life.

  • Eric

    Ever heard the version done by legendary NYC/LA garageniks The Fuzztones? Very good, that, – and they even have it in their live set every now and then I believe.

  • rage_at_the_machine

    I saw Bloodrock and Grand Funk in San Antonio, Texas back in the late 60’s early 70’s. What an incredible show. I had ringing in my ears for three days. When Bloodrock did DOA, they dimmed the arena lights and turned on big emergency lights that spun about the place.

    It’s too bad Bloodrock didn’t get the recognition they deserved but it appears they still have plenty of die-hard fans.

  • Kathy

    What! I always thought they hit a UFO.