Concrete Blonde

Last updated
Concrete Blonde
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Alternative rock
Years active1982–1995, 2001–2004, 2010–2012
Labels I.R.S.
Associated acts Roxy Music, Sparks, Wool
Members Johnette Napolitano
James Mankey
Gabriel Ramirez
Past members Harry Rushakoff
Paul Thompson
Al Bloch

Concrete Blonde were an alternative rock band from Hollywood, California. They were active from 1982 to 1995, from 2001 to 2004, and then reunited in 2010 and split up again in 2012. They were best known for their 1990 album Bloodletting, their top 20 single "Joey", and Johnette Napolitano's distinctive vocal style.

Alternative rock is a style of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. In this instance, the word "alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream rock music. The term's original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either the musical style or simply the independent, DIY ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music. At times, "alternative" has been used as a catch-all description for music from underground rock artists that receives mainstream recognition, or for any music, whether rock or not, that is seen to be descended from punk rock. Although the genre evolved in the late 1970s and 1980s, music anticipating the sound of the genre can be found as early as the 1960s, with bands such as The Velvet Underground.

Joey (Concrete Blonde song) 1990 single by Concrete Blonde

"Joey" is the ninth track from Concrete Blonde's third and most successful album Bloodletting. The song was released in 1990 and was written and sung by Johnette Napolitano. One interpretation is that the song is about a photographer who is in love with alcohol. Napolitano mentioned in her book Rough Mix that the song was written about her relationship with Marc Moreland of the band Wall of Voodoo. The song was written in a cab on the way to a photo studio in Philadelphia; it was the last vocal recorded on the album due to Napolitano's reluctance to record the lyrics, which were hard for her to deal with.

Johnette Napolitano is an American singer, songwriter and bassist best known as the lead vocalist/songwriter and bassist for the alternative rock group Concrete Blonde.



Singer-songwriter/bassist Johnette Napolitano formed the band Dream 6 with guitarist James Mankey in Los Angeles in 1982. The band released a single called "Heart Attack" under the name Dreamers on the 1982 compilation album, The D.I.Y. Album; this was evidently their first recording. [1] As Dream 6, they released an eponymous EP in France on the Happy Hermit label in 1983. When they signed with I.R.S. Records in 1986, label-mate Michael Stipe suggested the name Concrete Blonde, [2] describing the contrast between their hard rock music and introspective lyrics. They were joined by drummer Harry Rushakoff on their eponymous debut album. [3]

Singer-songwriter musician who writes, composes and sings

Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.

Bassist musician who plays a bass instrument

A bassist or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument such as a double bass, bass guitar, keyboard bass or a low brass instrument such as a tuba or sousaphone. Different musical genres tend to be associated with one or more of these instruments. Since the 1960s, the electric bass has been the standard bass instrument for funk, R&B, soul music, rock and roll, reggae, jazz fusion, heavy metal, country and pop music. The double bass is the standard bass instrument for classical music, bluegrass, rockabilly, and most genres of jazz. Low brass instruments such as the tuba or sousaphone are the standard bass instrument in Dixieland and New Orleans-style jazz bands.

James Andrew Mankey is an American rock guitarist, who has been the longtime guitarist in Concrete Blonde and also played with Sparks.

Their first release was 1986's Concrete Blonde , which included "Still in Hollywood". They added a full time bass guitarist, Alan Bloch, for their 1989 release, Free . This allowed Napolitano to focus on her singing without the burden of playing the bass at the same time. This album included the college radio hit "God Is a Bullet". [4]

<i>Concrete Blonde</i> (album) studio album by Concrete Blonde

Concrete Blonde is the acclaimed debut album of American alternative rock band Concrete Blonde.

Free is the second album by alternative rock band Concrete Blonde, featuring the addition of second guitarist Alan Bloch.

Their third album, 1990's Bloodletting , became their most commercially successful. Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson replaced Rushakoff on Bloodletting while Rushakoff was in treatment for drug addiction. [3] The album was certified gold by the RIAA [5] and included their highest charting single, "Joey", which spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Top 100 Chart, peaking at 19. [6]

<i>Bloodletting</i> (Concrete Blonde album) 1990 studio album by Concrete Blonde

Bloodletting is the third studio album by American alternative rock band Concrete Blonde. It was released on May 15, 1990. It marks a shift for the band towards gothic rock.

Roxy Music English art rock band formed in 1971

Roxy Music is an English rock band formed in 1970 by Bryan Ferry, who became the band's lead vocalist and chief songwriter, and bassist Graham Simpson. Alongside Ferry, the other longtime members were Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy Mackay and Paul Thompson. Other members included Brian Eno, Eddie Jobson, and John Gustafson (bass). Although the band took a break from group activities in 1976 and again in 1983, they reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and toured together intermittently between that time and their break-up in 2011. Ferry frequently enlisted members of Roxy Music as session musicians for his solo releases.

Paul Thompson (musician) English drummer, born 1951

Paul Thompson is an English drummer, who is best known as drummer for the rock band Roxy Music. He was also the drummer for the Oi! band, Angelic Upstarts and the American alternative rock band Concrete Blonde. He is a member of Andy Mackay's project with the Metaphors and joined the reformed Lindisfarne in 2013.

1992's Walking in London saw the return of original drummer Rushakoff (due to Thompson's immigration problems); 1993's Mexican Moon included the Bloodletting lineup with Thompson back on drums. Neither album was received well commercially or critically, and Napolitano broke up the band in 1993. [4]

<i>Walking in London</i> (album) 1992 studio album by Concrete Blonde

Walking in London is the fourth studio album from alternative rock band Concrete Blonde. It features the song "...Long Time Ago" which played over the ending credits of The Shield's series finale.

Mexican Moon is the fifth full-length album from alternative rock band Concrete Blonde.

The band reunited in 1997, with Napolitano and Mankey teaming up with the band Los Illegals for the album Concrete Blonde y Los Illegals . The vocals were primarily in Spanish. During live shows, the band changed the refrain for "Still in Hollywood" to "Still in the Barrio", and featured covers of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing". [7]

Los Illegals is an American Chicano punk band from Los Angeles.

<i>Concrete Blonde y Los Illegals</i> album by Concrete Blonde

An album produced as a joint effort between Johnette Napolitano and James Mankey, previously founding members of alternative rock band Concrete Blonde, and L.A. pachucho punk band Los Illegals. It contains a blend of hard rock and Latin music.

Led Zeppelin English rock band

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. Along with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the band's heavy, guitar-driven sound has led them to be cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal. Their style drew from a wide variety of influences, including blues, psychedelia, and folk music.

The band reunited again in 2001, releasing the album Group Therapy in 2002. The album was recorded in 10 days and included Rushakoff once again on drums. Rushakoff was eventually kicked out of the band for failing to show up for shows. After initially being replaced on tour by lighting tech Mike Devitt, he was eventually replaced on a long-term basis by Gabriel Ramirez. [3] Mojave was released in 2004.

On June 5, 2006, Napolitano announced that the band had officially retired. From the Concrete Blonde website, there was the following open message: "Thanks to everyone who heard and believed in the music. Music lives on. Keep listening. Keep believing, keep dreaming. Like a ripple, the music moves and travels and finds you. Drive to the music, Make love to the music, cry to the music. That's why we made it. Long after we're gone the music will still be there. Thanks to everyone who helped us bring the music to you & thanks to every face and every heart in every audience all over the world." [8]

Concrete Blonde have been featured in multiple feature films and TV shows. Films include The Party Animal (1985; the band's name was Dream 6 at the time, the song used was 'Rain'), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (two songs) in 1986, The Hidden (three songs) in 1987, Pump Up the Volume in 1990, Point Break in 1991, and Losing Isaiah in 1995. TV shows include Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1991, Beavis and Butthead in 1993, Daria in 1998, The Sopranos in 2002 and HBO series Camping in 2018. The song most used in soundtracks has been "Bloodletting" (five times). [9] On November 25, 2008, "Long Time Ago" was used during the final credits during the series finale of The Shield . Originally the song was supposed to play over the final scene, but show creator Shawn Ryan decided instead for the last sequence to be silent, prompting the song to be played over the final credits and series highlights. [10]

On July 13, 2010, Shout! Factory released a remastered 20th anniversary edition of Bloodletting. [4] It features six bonus tracks: "I Want You", "Little Wing", the French extended version of "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)", and live versions of "Roses Grow", "The Sky Is A Poisonous Garden", and "Tomorrow, Wendy". [11] An error in the packaging of the re-release uses early non-album period photos featuring original drummer Harry Rushakoff, who had been replaced the night before the first studio session for "Bloodletting" by Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson. The band followed the release with the "20 Years of Bloodletting: The Vampires Rise" tour through the rest of that year. [12]

In 2012, the band released the single "Rosalie" with the B-side "I Know the Ghost". In December 2012, the band engaged in a small tour of nine cities, mostly on the east coast of the U.S. [13]


Studio albums

Compilation and live albums

Non-album tracks


YearSinglePeak chart positionsAlbum
U.S. Hot 100
U.S. Mod Rock
U.S. Main Rock

1986"True"4291Concrete Blonde
"Still In Hollywood"
"Dance Along The Edge"
1989"God Is a Bullet"1549146Free
"Happy Birthday"8182
"Scene Of A Perfect Crime"
1990"Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"Bloodletting
"Everybody Knows"20 Pump Up the Volume OST
1991"Tomorrow Wendy"66Bloodletting
1992"Walking In London"Walking in London
"Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man"23128
1993"Heal It Up"168667Mexican Moon
"Mexican Moon"
2002"Take Me Home"Group Therapy
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Related Research Articles

<i>Recipe for Hate</i> 1993 studio album by Bad Religion

Recipe for Hate is Bad Religion's seventh studio album, released on June 4, 1993. This was their last album on Epitaph Records for nine years and the band had switched to Atlantic Records, who re-released the album several months after its release.

Marc Moreland was an American rock musician. He was the former guitarist for new wave band Wall of Voodoo, punk band The Skulls, and rock bands Pretty and Twisted and Department of Crooks. He also released a solo album under the name Marc Moreland Mess.

Andy Prieboy is an American musician, songwriter, and author. He was lead singer of the band Wall of Voodoo from 1983 to 1988. He went on to record solo albums, musicals and write a novel. He was born in Los Angeles and raised in East Chicago, Indiana.

Harry Rushakoff is a former drummer for the band Concrete Blonde.

Holly Beth Vincent is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer.

<i>All Shook Down</i> 1990 studio album by The Replacements

All Shook Down is the seventh and final studio album by the American rock band The Replacements, released on September 25, 1990 by Sire Records.

Still in Hollywood is a collection of unreleased material, bonus tracks from singles, live tracks and cover songs from alternative rock band Concrete Blonde.

<i>...Upon My Wicked Son</i> album by Andy Prieboy

...Upon My Wicked Son is the first solo album by Andy Prieboy, released in 1990. The album cover is "Fallen Angel" by David Sandlin.

Will Crewdson British musician

Will Crewdson is a London-based guitarist/writer/producer best known for his work with the UK band Rachel Stamp, US singer Johnette Napolitano and Adam Ant.

Bruce "Ravens" Moreland is an American rock musician and songwriter. He has worked with such bands as Wall of Voodoo, The Weirdos, Nervous Gender, and Concrete Blonde among others. As of 2011, his current project is known as Ravens Moreland.


  1. auction entry on The D.I.Y. Album Retrieved 21 Feb 2013.
  2. Amy Linden (September 1990). Concrete Blonde's Ambition – Concrete Blond leaves a little blood on the tracks. Spin . p. 56. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  3. 1 2 3 Gina Vivinetto (14 April 2002). "Among the ghosts and demons". St. Petersburg Times.
  4. 1 2 3 "Concrete Blonde". AllMusic . Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  5. "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - October 10, 1991: Concrete Blonde certified albums". Recording Industry Association of America . Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  6. "Artist/Concrete Blonde". Billboard . Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  7. "Concrete Blonde y Los Illegals Rock L. A." MTV. 8 May 1987.
  8. Mike Gee (6 September 2010). "Concrete Blonde - Still Bloodletting". The Brag. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013.
  9. "Concrete Blonde Soundtracks". IMDB . Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  10. Maureen Ryan (25 November 2008). "'The Shield's' last episode: 'Family Meeting'". Chicago Tribune.
  11. Andrew Gilstrap (30 July 2010). "Concrete Blonde: Bloodletting (20th Anniversary Edition)". PopMatters.
  12. Whitney Matheson (11 June 2010). "Concrete Blonde kick off a 'Bloodletting' anniversary tour". USA Today.
  13. Cait Brennan. "Rosalie". Popshifter . Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  15. "Concrete Blonde - US Hot 100". Retrieved 2014-07-24.
  16. "Concrete Blonde - US Alternative Songs". Retrieved 2014-07-24.
  17. "Concrete Blonde - US Mainstreem Rock Songs". Retrieved 2014-07-24.
  18. Australian chart peaks:
  19. "Concrete Blonde - Belgian Chart". Retrieved 2014-07-24.
  20. "Library and Archives Canada - RPM". Government of Canada. 1 Feb 2016.
  21. "Dutch chart - Concrete Blonde". 24 July 2014.

Further reading