Summertime blues? Not for biotech

Summertime blues? Not for biotech

During 1968, the rock group Blue Cheer came out with the hard-driving hit song on AM radio “Summertime Blues” with its memorable refrain: “Ain’t no cure for the summertime blues” followed by an equally memorable guitar riff. This song, of course, is not to confused with the George Gershwin aria from Porgy & Bess of 1935, “Summertime,” which has also been transposed and “covered” by many a rock and folk group.
The summertime blues seems to be the theme song for what’s ailing the U.S. (and world) stock market, U.S. currency, U.S. car industry and U.S. airline industry, not to mention the U.S. real estate market.
The biotech industry and other high-tech industries seem to be impervious from this overall malaise. Product and company acquisitions at premium prices by product- and technology-hungry Big Pharma and Big Device (and even Big Biotech) are fueling the financial coffers of both smaller companies, investors and VCs.
The Midwest has not been immune to any of the above, particularly on the biotech front. Two acquisitions of Midwest companies have taken place in the last few weeks: German healthcare giant Fresenius’ acquisition of APP Pharmaceuticals, based in Illinois, for $3.6 billion (not including debt absorption and additional earnouts), and Roche’s acquisition of RNAi technology company Mirus Bio in Madison, Wisconsin, for $125 million. The Roche acquisition of Mirus was actually pocket change compared to the $44 billion it put on the table earlier in the week to acquire the 44 percent of Genentech that it doesn’t own, yet covets. Roche also announced yet another acquisition in the same time period.
But, all right already, it is summertime, a time for rest and relaxation and of course good music! Speaking of good music, Rolling Stone Magazine, in its June 12th edition, provides one of its notable music lists (and you know by now how I like lists as well as my penchant for rock guitarists): “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs”. I thought it was appropriate to share with you at least some of the top songs.
This list will, undoubtedly, provoke some controversy (there are some songs that I couldn’t figure out how they made the cut), but note that Rolling Stone does ask readers to send them their own lists and they are planning on a future readers’ list.
Leading Greatest Guitar Songs

Guitar Song Musician/Group Year
1. “Johnny B. Goode” Chuck Berry 1958
2. “ Purple Haze” Jimi Hendrix 1967
3. “Crossroads” Cream 1968
4. “You Really Got Me” The Kinks 1964
5. “Brown Sugar” The Rolling Stones 1971
6. “Eruption” Van Halen 1978
7. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” The Beatles 1968
8. “Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelin 1971
9. “Statesboro Blues” The Allman Brothers Band 1971
10. “Smells like Teen Spirit” Nirvana 1991
11. “Whole Lotta Love” Led Zeppelin 1969
12. “Voodoo Child” Jimi Hendrix 1968
13. “Layla” Derek and the Dominos 1970
14. “Born to Run” Bruce Springsteen 1975
15. “My Generation” The Who 1965
16. “Cowgirl in the Sand” Neil Young with Crazy Horse 1969
17. “Black Sabbath” Black Sabbath 1970
18. “Blitzkrieg Bop” The Ramones 1976
19. “Purple Rain” Prince and the Revolution 1984
20. “People Get Ready” The Impressions 1965
21. “Seven Nation Army” The White Stripes 2003
22. “A Hard Day’s Night” The Beatles 1964
23. “Over Under Sideways Down” The Yardbirds 1966
24. “Killing in the Name” Rage Against the Machine 1992
25. “ Can’t You Hear Me Knockin” The Rolling Stones 1971

Source” Rolling Stone Magazine, June 12, 2008
Interestingly, the most prolific period for producing the top 25 songs was the time from1964-1971, which had 16 of the top 25 songs. As I haven’t listed the other 75 songs, there are some key ones that didn’t make the first 25 cut but that are obvious standouts; these include:

  • “Back in Black” – AC/DC (1980) ranked 29th
  • “ Rock Around the Clock – Bill Haley and His Comets (1954) – ranked 30th
  • “That’s All Right” – Elvis (1954) – ranked 37th
  • “Black Magic Woman – Santana (1970) ranked 39th
  • “ Hideaway” – John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers (1966) – ranked 42nd
  • “Little Wing” – Stevie Ray Vaughan (1991) – ranked 54th
  • “White Room” – Cream (1968) ranked 55th
  • “Eight Miles High” – The Byrds (1966) – ranked 56th
  • “ Dark Star” – The Grateful Dead (1969) – ranked 57th
  • “ Soul Man” – Sam and Dave (1967) – ranked 61rst
  • “Born Under a Bad Sign” – Albert King (1967) – ranked 62nd
  • “Free Byrd” – Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973) – ranked 64th
  • “Summertime Blues” – Blue Cheer (1968) – ranked 73rd
  • “LaGrange” – ZZ Top (1973) – ranked 74thF
  • “Willie the Pimp” – Frank Zappa (1969) – ranked 75th
  • “ Stone Crazy” – Buddy Guy (1970) – ranked 78th
  • “Walk – Don’t Run” – The Ventures (1960) – ranked 82nd

Not included are some of the classics that I might have included that didn’t make the cut:

  • “Going Home” – Ten Years After/Albert Lee (1960’s)
  • “ Killing Floor” – Electric Flag (1960’s)
  • “ Mississippi Queen” – Mountain/Leslie West (1960’s)
  • A number of Michael Bloomfield songs in the Paul Butterfield era and Super Session eras

And many others. Rolling Stone’s criteria for the selection?

  • “An irresistible riff; a solo or jam that takes you higher every time you hear it”
  • “…rock’s greatest guitar moments because of what `s inside the notes: hunger, fury, despair and joy, often all of it at once”

As you would expect, the groups with the most entries, perhaps due to their productivity or longevity in the field, were:

  • Rolling Stones with 3 songs
  • The Beatles with 3 songs
  • Jimi Hendrix with 3 songs

The individual guitarist with most representation is Eric Clapton with a presence in John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, the Yardbirds, Cream, and Derek and the Dominos, with a combined 5 song entries (his efforts in Blind Faith and with Stevie Winwood apparently didn’t cut it).
If you are in violent disagreement with the list, I urge you to send in your own list to Rolling Stone.
Meanwhile, enjoy those Summertime Blues! See you soon!

Michael S. Rosen is president of Rosen Bioscience Management, a company that provides CEO services, including financing and business and corporate development to start-up and early-stage life science companies such as Renovar and Immune Cell Therapy. Rosen also is a founder and board member of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization. He can be reached at
This article previously appeared in, and was reprinted with its permission. The article is not meant to be a stock recommendation.
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