Three Divas, A Sad Guitar, Loneliness & A Superstar

Bootleg Betty
Three Divas, A Sad Guitar, Loneliness & A Superstar
By Mister D
Sept 22, 2019

Three Divas, A Sad Guitar, Loneliness & A Superstar
<strong>three divas a sad guitar loneliness a superstar<strong>

Bonnie Bramlett – Superstar

Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett wrote this song, which is about a woman who falls for a rock star, has a tryst with him, but then in a bout of delusion, awaits his return, apparently falling for it when he said he loved her. Or as I like to call it, Three Divas, A Sad Guitar, Loneliness & A Superstar.

The word “Groupie” entered the lexicon when Russell and Bramlett wrote this song in 1969; Rolling Stone popularized it when they titled the cover story of their February 15, 1969 issue “The Groupies and Other Girls.” Groupies were often romanticized and admired for their style and fashion, but they were also at times denigrated as rock star playthings with a loose grip on reality, which is how they are portrayed in this song.

Bonnie Bramlett – Co-writer of Superstar

Bette Midler – Superstar

A young Bette Midler started performing the song around 1970-1971 in the Continental Baths in New York City, where she had built a rabid fan base. Richard Carpenter saw Bette Midler’s riveting performance when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Her forlorn and smokey vocals captured the essence of the song and all the emotions that come along with it. The sadness, the despair one feels when they find out they’ve been betrayed by someone they love. Anyway, Bette’s version is a killer rendition of a killer song; full props to Arif Mardin for his arrangement, which is frankly sublime.

I remember when I first saw The Rose, when Bette Midler came running out on the stage with that rockin’ outfit and those powderpuff shows (maybe they called them cha cha heels, I don’t know.) and was singing “Midnight In Memphis,” I thought she got that look from Bonnie Bramlett, Bonnie was wild, She was a boozer and on drugs and toured with Janis, with her husband, Delaney, sometimes Eric Clapton would play for them. They also toured with Joe Cocker’s huge ensemble of singers and musicians, like Rita Coolidge, Leon Russell, Delaney, and Bonnie, and too many for me to remember.

Before all that, she became Tina Turner’s only white Ikette and the last one, I believe. I started listening to her when she put out about five solo albums; I loved her because she had this huge gospelly voice and sometimes she’d talk in during her songs just slurring words left and right. She always had great musicians and background singers.

Later, she became a background singer for many big artists in the 70s, and you could always tell it was her. Later she became the highest-paid background singer and vocal arranger in Nashville. I saw her perform a few times in Nashville. Although she had settled down and found Jesus, she still released three more great albums. She had children and her one daughter Bekka, who was gorgeous, thin, and had almost a bigger voice than her mother. I saw her a few times, but my brother saw her differently. lol,

The studios kept trying to make her country on her albums, but it didn’t work. She put out a couple of self-penned albums that weren’t bad, but they didn’t go anywhere. She would have been huge if she had gone to NY and had someone to mold her a little and help her pick out some hit material, but it wasn’t to be. But she became the highest-paid singer in Nashville, just like her mother.

Thanks to YouTube, within the last five years, I saw an old interview where Bette said three names she had studied, one of which was Bonnie Bramlett. And I just knew it! I saw bits of so many female and male rock stars that she had studied, too.

Superstar – The Carpenters

Richard Carpenter heard the song for the first time when Bette Midler performed it on The Tonight Show With The Tonight Show. Richard knew it could be a hit for the Carpenters, so he reworked the song in their style and recorded it, resulting in the most successful version.

A line in the second verse was considered too lyrically risqué then and was changed by Richard Carpenter to fit the duo’s image better. The Carpenters’ version of the lyric, “And I can hardly wait to be with you again,” is “And I can hardly wait to sleep with you again” in the original version.|

Richard Carpenter received a Grammy nomination for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for this song. It was the second of five nominations Carpenter received for his arrangements. He didn’t win any, although this is an impressive accomplishment.

When the Carpenter’s version became a hit, Bette Midler took some shots at Karen Carpenter, often mocking her wholesome image. Karen claimed the jokes didn’t bother her; after her death, Midler apologized in Redbook magazine, saying she often thinks of Karen.

Karen Carpenter – Superstar

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