It was a year ago today that this here column blasted into cyberspace with the headline "Ear of Newt: brand new blog will cover classic rock, horror movies, and what have you". In that original entry I vowed to cover all the music and movies that I felt like writing about, totally dependent on my own personal interests and passing whims. I didn't lie. 154 blogs later I can honestly say that it's been a gas relaying my obsessions with '70s-rock, guitar heroes, and scary films.
It hasn't all been fun, of course. In the past 365 days I've had to report on the deaths of metal legend Ronnie James Dio (from stomach cancer) and guitar great Gary Moore (from an apparent heart attack). The legendary Chuck Berry is still kicking at 84, but the rock 'n' roll world held its breath when he collapsed during a January gig in Chicago.
Ear of Newt has also given me the opportunity to recall some of my biggest heroes of yesteryear, including Phil Lynott (on the 25th anniversary of his death) and Stevie Ray Vaughan (20 years after the crash). The release of the awesome documentary Ghost Blues allowed me to reminisce about another primo picker taken before his time, the godlike Rory Gallagher, while the rerelease of Deep Purple's Come Taste the Band rekindled appreciative thoughts of Tommy Bolin, whose ultra-promising career was cut short at the age of 25.
My fondness for horror has resulted in commentary on the torture porn genre and the creation of a handy-dandy horror-movie guide for Halloween. I also got to write about the legacy of seventies nightmare-maker The Exorcist.
Outside of the rock and horror realms I've managed to have a bit of fun with the likes of the King of All Media, Howard Stern, celebrity tattooist Kat Von D, comics Russell Brand and Larry David, and the crazed cast of Jackass. I also squeezed in a swipe at holier-than-thou classical artists with a blog about the world's top 10 musician jokes, which includes the following gem: "What's the difference between a cello and a coffin? The coffin has the corpse inside." That one still cracks me up.
Now it's time to offer up a little something for the faithful Ear of Newt readers who've been following along since April 9, 2010. Knowing that you're all big Thin Lizzy fans, I've devised a contest that can score one lucky winner a copy of the newly released deluxe edition of the band's breakthrough 1976 album, Jailbreak, provided courtesy of Universal Music Canada. As well as remastered versions of Jailbreak's original nine songs it includes four remixes, four tracks from the BBC's John Peel Sessions, an extended version of "Fight or Fall", an early live version of "Cowboy Song" called "Derby Blues", and the previously unreleased track, "Blues Boy".
All you have to do to vie for this fab prize is explain, in 50 words or less, which of the two guitar solos on "Cowboy Song" is the best, the first one by Scott Gorham at 2:26 or the second one by Brian Robertson at 4:20. I've listened to that song hundreds of time over the years and can't for the life of me figure it out.
The contest ends in one week, on April 16, when the lucky winner will be announced. Since Universal Music Canada has also promised to supply me with my own personal copy of Jailbreak: Deluxe Edition, I'm announcing myself as a lucky winner right now. Yup, life is good.
You can follow Steve Newton on Twitter at twitter.com/earofnewt.