Rodriguez was born Jesus Sixto Diaz-Rodriguez on July 10, 1942. He was the sixth child of Mexican immigrant working-class parents. His mother died when he was three years old. They had joined a large influx of Mexicans who came to the midwest to work in Detroit’s industries. Mexican immigrants at that time faced both intense alienation and marginalization. In most of his later songs, Rodriguez takes a political stance on the difficulties that faced the inner-city poor. His name was pronounced as “Seez-too”.
In 1967, using the name “Rod Riguez” (given by his record label), he released a single, “I’ll Slip Away”, on the small Impact label. He did not record again for three years, until he signed with Sussex Records, an offshoot of Buddah Records. He used his preferred professional name, “Rodriguez”, after that. He recorded two albums with Sussex, Cold Fact in 1970 and Coming from Reality in November 1971. However, due to a criminal lack of marketing by Sussex, both sold few copies in the U.S. and he was dropped by Sussex two weeks before Christmas 1971, and Sussex itself closed in 1975. At the time he was dropped, he was in the process of recording a third album which has never been released.
Rodriguez quit his music career and in 1976 he purchased a derelict Detroit house in a government auction for $50 in which he lived to the end of his life. He worked in demolition and production line work, always earning a low income. He got politically active through his motivation to improve the lives of the city’s working-class inhabitants. He later run unsuccessfully several times for public office: for the Detroit City Council in 1989, for Mayor of Detroit in 1981 and 1993 and for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2000.
Rodriguez says he was past any dreams of rock ‘n’ roll fame by the time he got that call to tour Australia in 1979. “I renovated homes and buildings and residences in Detroit,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what I was doing. I basically went back to work.”
It wasn’t until the start of radio station Double J in Sydney, Australia giving the albums airplay in 1976 and later years, that Rodriguez, without him knowing, started to develop a cult following. The Rodriguez momentum was enough for an Australian promoter to bring Rodriguez to Australia to tour in 1979 and 1981. Both albums had thereafter been licensed by a small independent record company in Australia, Blue Goose Music. They had run out of Sussex produced copies, while Rodriguez’ fame had been rising. They then released a compilation of his two albums called ‘At His Best’ in Australia. Blue Goose stated they paid royalties to Sussex, even though Sussex went down in 1975. It later was suggested that former Sussex owner Clarence Avant had pocketed the payments without paying Rodriguez a penny. Ironically Avant passed away 5 days later than Rodriguez on August 13, 2023. (The lawsuits about the stolen royalties is still ongoing!)
His music was extremely successful and influential in South Africa, where he is believed to have sold more records than Elvis Presley, as well as other countries in southern Africa. Information about him was scarce to none, and it was rumored there that he had died by suicide shortly after releasing his second album. Rodriguez didn’t even know about his success in South Africa until much later.
That became the basis of the ‘Searching for the Sugar Man’ movie.
Rodriguez also toured Australia in 2016, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2007 as well as 1981 and 1979. For the 2013 tour he was backed by The Break, featuring members of Midnight Oil with Violent Femmes Brian Ritchie. Even after all of Rodriguez’s international success after he was discovered in the mid 70s, he never released another studio album.
Rodriguez Took his final leave of absence on August 8, 2023. A genius singer-songwriter learned early in life that it isn’t fair.
Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on January 26, 1955 Edward Lodewijk – Eddie van Halen was the son of Jan van Halen and Eugenia (née van Beers). Jan was a Dutch jazz pianist, clarinetist and saxophonist and Eugenia was born Indonesian from Indonesian and Italian parents in the town of Rangkasbitung on the island of Java in what was then called the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Jan and Eugenie married in August 1950 and re-emigrated on March 4th 1953 on board of the ship “Sibajak” to Holland, where they settled in Amsterdam. Shortly after the birth of Eddie, the family moved to Nijmegen, where they lived at 59 Rozemarijnstraat. On February 22nd 1962 the Van Halen’s moved again, this time by boat across the Atlantic to New York. After which they proceeded on a continent-crossing journey by train to finally settle in California, where they lived in Pasadena at 1881 Las Lunas Street for two decades. It was here that the two Dutch born Indo-Americans started to write music history and the swirling Van Halen story began.
After experiencing mistreatment for their mixed-race relationship in the 1950s, the parents moved the family to the U.S. in 1962. They settled near other family members in Pasadena, California, where Eddie and his brother Alex attended a segregated elementary school. Since the boys did not speak English as a first language, they were considered “minority” students and experienced bullying by white students
Eddie and his older brother, Alex Van Halen, became naturalized U.S. citizens. The brothers learned to play the piano as children starting at the age of six. They commuted weekly between Pasadena and San Pedro to study with an elderly piano teacher, Stasys Kalvaitis.
Even though van Halen was never taught to read music, he learned by watching recitals of Bach or Mozart and improvise. From 1964 through 1967, he won first place in the annual piano competition held at Long Beach City College. His parents wanted the boys to be classical pianists, but van Halen gravitated towards rock music. Consequently, when Alex began playing the guitar, Eddie bought a drum kit for himself; however, after he heard Alex’s performance of the Surfaris’ drum solo in the song “Wipe Out”, he gave Alex the drums and began learning how to play the electric guitar. According to him, as a teen, he would often practice while walking around at home with his guitar strapped on or sitting in his room for hours with the door locked.
Van Halen and his brother Alex formed their first band with three other boys, calling themselves The Broken Combs, performing at lunchtime at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena, when he was in the fourth grade. He would later cite this performance as key to his desire to become a professional musician.
Eddie van Halen described supergroup Cream’s “I’m So Glad” on the album Goodbye as “mind-blowing”. He once claimed that he had learned almost all of Eric Clapton’s solos in the band Cream “note for note… I’ve always said Eric Clapton was my main influence,” he said, “but Jimmy Page is actually more the way I am, in a reckless-abandon kind of way.”
Eddie and his brother Alex formed the band Mammoth in 1972. Two years later, David Lee Roth joined Mammoth as lead singer and Mammoth officially changed its name to Van Halen and became a staple of the Los Angeles music scene, playing at well-known clubs like the Whisky a Go Go.
At a 1976 concert at The Starwood in California, the band opened for UFO. Kiss bassist Gene Simmons saw the performance, and said: “I was waiting backstage by the third song.” He asked the band about their plans, and they said: “There is a yogurt manufacturer that is going to invest in us.” Gene begged them not to go that route and invited them to record some demos at Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village in New York City. Gene then signed them to his company and the band recorded early demos of their songs, including “Runnin’ with the Devil“. Excited about the band, Gene approached Kiss manager Bill Aucoin and Kiss frontman Paul Stanley about them, but they dismissed his desire to sign them to Aucoin’s management fold. Stanley later said he “rejected Van Halen to protect Kiss”, and that they made an effort to make Gene drop the band to “keep Gene in check”. The discouraging words caused Gene to rip up the contract, and he “let them go” after feeling he may have held the band back. The next year, Warner Records offered Van Halen a recording contract.
Van Halen’s major label debut, their self-titled 1978 album, launched the group into super stardom with hits such as “Runnin’ with the Devil”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love”, “Jamie’s Cryin'”. The album also contains Eddie Van Halen’s instrumental “Eruption”, considered one of the best electric guitar solos of all time. The song globally popularized the technique of two-handed tapping, which he had painstakingly perfected after seeing Jimmy Page do it on the song “Heartbreaker”. The technique was first shown by Italian Guitarist-Physician Vittorio Camardese.
The band continued their success with a string a hit albums: Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982) and 1984 (1984). By the early 1980s, Van Halen was one of the most successful rock acts of the time.
In late 1982 Eddie recorded the solo on the Michael Jackson song “Beat It” when Pete Townshend became unavailable and recommended him. Eddie met with Quincy Jones and Jackson. Unsure of what he could add to a pop song, he played along with the song and ended up restructuring it and adding the classic solo.
In a 2012 CNN interview, he said, “I listened to the song, and I immediately go, ‘Can I change some parts?’ I turned to the engineer and I go, ‘OK, from the breakdown, chop in this part, go to this piece, pre-chorus, to the chorus, out.’ Took him maybe 10 minutes to put it together. And I proceeded to improvise two solos over it.” He added, “I was just finishing the second solo when Michael walked in. And you know artists are kind of crazy people. We’re all a little bit strange. I didn’t know how he would react to what I was doing. So I warned him before he listened. I said, ‘Look, I changed the middle section of your song.’ Now in my mind, he’s either going to have his bodyguards kick me out for butchering his song, or he’s going to like it. And so he gave it a listen, and he turned to me and went, ‘Wow, thank you so much for having the passion to not just come in and blaze a solo but to actually care about the song and make it better.” Eddie was so pleased he refused payment for his work.
Ironically, Jackson’s Thriller went to the #1 spot on the charts, pushing Van Halen’s album 1984 to #2. 1984went five-times Platinum a year after its release. Its lead single, “Jump”, became the band’s first and only #1 pop hit and brought them a Grammy nomination. Beat It however became one of the best selling single ever, with more than 11 million copies sold.
In 1985 there was a falling out between David Lee Roth and the Van Halen brothers. Roth left and was replaced by Sammy Hagar. The change did not affect the Band’s popularity, clearly indicating that Eddie had the dominant drawing power of all the players in the Band. In later years Sammy Hagar was replaced by Gary Cherone, and at one point Roth actually returned for a few performances.
Van Halen engaged in several projects outside of the band, including solo work and partnerships with his brother on film soundtracks (such as The Wild Life, Twister, and Sacred Sin) as well as musical collaborations with Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, singer/songwriter Nicolette Larson, Queen guitarist Brian May, Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, ex-Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, and LL Cool J.
In 2004, Van Halen made a comeback and announced another national tour. The tour made stops in many cities. Unfortunately the tour was marred by reported dissension among the players. But the loyalty of Eddie’s, and the Band’s, fans still made it a triumphant tour. The success of the 2004 tour made it likely that another tour would be on the horizon. And in August 2007, the Band’s Fall 2007 tour was announced. It would begin at the end of September, and make about 40 stops. The Band’s original successful lead singer, David Lee Roth, would be back, and Eddie’s son, Wolfgang [Wolfie] Van Halen would play bass.
Van Halen struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse. He began smoking and drinking at the age of 12, and he stated that he eventually needed alcohol to function. He entered rehabilitation in 2007, and later shared in a 2015 interview that he had been sober since 2008. Rock and Roll lifestyle during his rock years probably led to his many illnesses over the years.
Speaking at an event at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2015, Van Halen discussed his life and the American Dream, saying “We arrived here with approximately $50 and a piano, and we didn’t speak the language. Now look where we are. If that’s not the American dream, what is?” Of course this was largely due to his talent and an era in history were his talent and tenacity to learn, was greatly valued.
Van Halen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. His son, Wolfgang Van Halen, continued his father’s legacy when he became Van Halen’s bassist in 2006. During its life, the “Van Halen’s” album sales exceeded 75 million albums. Eleven of their studio albums reached the top 20 of the Bill Board’s music charts. The Band has the most #1 hits on Bill Board’s Main Stream, a record that is recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records. A total of 26 albums, 16 singles, 2 box sets and 5 videos of the Band were produced, marketed and sold.
Eddie Van Halen died from a stroke on October 6, 2020 after a 10 year battle with lung cancer. He was 65. He is survived by his son, his wife Jamie, and his ex-wife, Valerie Bertinelli, all of whom were by his side at the hospital.
Kenny Chesney – “He was a friend and and a hero to anyone who has ever picked up a guitar and had a dream,” Chesney wrote. “Eddie and his brother Alex joined us on stage at one of our stadium shows in Los Angeles and it was one of the highlights of my touring life in all my summers on the road. I will never forget that night and how happy we both were that our musical paths crossed that night on stage. Rest In Peace to the best guitar player that ever lived.”
Valerie Bertinelli, Van Halen’s ex-wife and the mother of his son Wolfgang, shared a moving message to her ex-husband on Twitter. “40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you,” Bertinelli wrote. “You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang. Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin. I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life my love.”
Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler: “Just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, I hear Eddie Van Halen has passed. So shocking,” wrote . “One of the nicest, down to Earth men I have ever met and toured with. A true gent and true genius. RIP. So sad. Thoughts go out to his brother Alex, and his family.”
Styx frontman Tommy Shaw:“I was heartbroken to hear the news of EVH’s passing.” “A genius musician and quite an interesting personality. I first met him when we shared a dressing room with them in Germany for a TV music show there in the ’70s. Van Halen was new and ascending, and I observed him practicing his amazing guitar riffs in a style I’d never seen before. His style influenced a new generation of shredders. It was sad to hear about his health struggles, but always seemed to overcome them. Thank you Eddie for the incredible gifts of your music and live performances. History and music fans will remember and cherish you with the highest esteem.”
Geoffrey Arnold “Jeff” Beck was born on 24 June 1944 in Wallington, South London to Arnold and Ethel Beck. Before Beck discovered guitar, his mother had wanted him to play the piano. But once his parents saw how Beck took to the guitar, they allowed it. They probably thought, ‘If he’s got the guitar, he’s not going out stealing.’ The only friends he had were pretty low-life; most of them were one step away from jail.
Beck said that he first heard an electric guitar when he was six-years-old and heard Les Paul playing “How High the Moon” on the radio. He asked his mother what it was. After she replied it was an electric guitar and was all tricks, he said, “That’s for me”. As a ten-year-old, Beck sang in a church choir and his original musical direction was essential formed by the music his older sister, Annetta, brought home. As a pre-teenager he learned to play on a borrowed guitar and made several attempts to build his own instrument, first by gluing and bolting together cigar boxes for the body and an un-sanded fence post for the neck with model aircraft control lines as strings and frets simply painted on it.
“The guy next door said, ‘I’ll build you a solid body guitar for five pounds’,” he later told Rock Cellar Magazine. “Five pounds, which to me was 500 back then so I went ahead and did it myself. “The first one I built was in 1956, because Elvis was out, and everything that you heard about pop music was guitar. And then I got fascinated. I’m sure the same goes for lots of people.”
Beck’s sister Annetta introduced him to Jimmy Page when both were teenagers. Eventually, Beck bonded with another boy who was a budding guitarist in his neighborhood, Jimmy Page. The two musicians shared a passion for rockabilly music (Beck credited his older sister with buying the records that shaped his taste) and would try to impress each other with their skills. After leaving school, he attended Wimbledon College of Art. Then he was briefly employed as a painter and decorator, a groundsman on a golf course, and a car paint sprayer. In his early years he spent time in bands such as The Nightshift, the Tridents and then the Yardbirds, which he joined in 1965 to replace Eric Clapton.
The legacy of The Yardbirds three iconic guitar heroes Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page is a little bit convoluted, but Page did his best in later years to explain it in a video for Fender taped in connection to his signature Fender Telecaster, which is based on the guitar Jeff had gifted him and he used in the Yardbirds and in the early days of Led Zeppelin.
Page says he and Jeff initially connected due to their mutual interest in the guitar. Electric guitarists were a rare breed in rock and roll’s early days, he noted. “There weren’t many guitarists in the area at that point,” Page recalled. “You’d hear of other guitarists, you’d meet other guitarists, but nobody was in really close proximity to me. There was an art college at Epsom that Jeff Beck’s sister Annetta was attending.”
Somehow Annetta heard about Page and got the idea that she should introduce her brother to the other local guitarist Page. One day, Jeff and Annetta just showed up at Page’s house. “There was a knock on the door, and there was Jeff’s sister, and there was Jeff holding his homemade guitar,” Page recalled. “We just bonded immediately.” Jeff eventually upgraded from his homemade guitar to a 1959 Fender Telecaster. Page came to possess the Tele after scoring Jeff a big break playing for the Yardbirds.
Page says he was a studio musician, working his way up to being a record producer, when he was approached about joining the Yardbirds. But he wasn’t ready to give up working in the studio, and he suspected Clapton was unaware of the conversation, so he recommended Jeff for the job. Jeff got the gig and soon bought himself a new guitar. But rather than keep his Tele as a backup, he gifted it to Page as a thank you. The Yardbirds were one of the U.K.’s biggest blues bands at that point.
Jeff Beck rose to fame as part of the Yardbirds, where he replaced Eric Clapton, before forming the Jeff Beck group with Rod Stewart. His tone, presence and, above all, volume redefined guitar music in the 1960s, and influenced movements like heavy metal, jazz-rock and even punk. Beck earned two spots in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1992 with the Yardbirds and as a solo artist in 2009. During the first induction he vented: “I have done other music after the Yardbirds,and somebody told me I should be proud tonight, but I’m not—because they kicked me out. They did. Fuck them.” Next to him, Jimmy Page, who’d eventually shared lead guitar duties with Beck during his final months with the band, burst out laughing.
Page was tapped to induct Beck into the Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2009. “He’d just keep getting better and better and better,” Page said, recalling the records his friend began cutting after striking out on his own. “And he still had, all the way through. And he leaves us mere mortals, believe me, just wondering.” During that event Beck – said: “I play the way I do because it allows me to come up with the sickest sounds possible.” “That’s the point now, isn’t it? I don’t care about the rules. “In fact, if I don’t break the rules at least 10 times in every song, then I’m not doing my job properly.”
The formidable pair of guitar slingers then reunited on stage at the ceremony, dueling through “Beck’s Bolero,” an epic rock instrumental Page had composed 43 years earlier, to be Beck’s first solo recording.
It is somehow impossible to describe the talent and musician ship of Jeff Beck. Outerwordly maybe, but then I curse myself for not having the vocabulary to do him true justice. I guess it was 1966 or 67 when I first ran into his guitar playing, when my amateur band took on Yardbirds’ songs like Heartful of Soul, For Your Love and especially “Shape of Things”. The last one in particular posed a challenge in the lead as bottlenecks were not yet on sale in our neck of the woods. I decided to use a beer bottle for the slide part, as I had seen Jeff do on TV. By the time he hooked up with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood a couple of years later, for the blues rock album “Truth”, Jeff was already in a different stratosphere.
After the Yardbirds, Beck wielded his firepower to form the Jeff Beck Group, and was improbably joined by two more giants of rock history—singer Rod Stewart and rhythm guitarist Ronnie Wood. Even more volatile than his previous band, the Group lasted all of two albums before imploding on the eve of Woodstock.
Later came Beck, Bogert & Appice, a supergroup he created alongside former Vanilla Fudge bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. The power trio produced one stripped-down record termed “docile” by Rolling Stone before Beck decamped. He cut an all-instrumental solo album, 1975’s Blow by Blow, which quickly went platinum.
Over the course of Beck’s solo career, seven of his 10 albums went gold. He was nominated for 16 Grammy awards, winning eight. In 2014, he was honored with the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. A year later, Rolling Stone gave him the No. 5 spot on its list of 100 greatest guitarists. They had no clue.
He also collaborated with the likes of David Bowie, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, and Jon Bon Jovi.
His solo output slowed down, until the release of 1999’s You Had It Coming, featuring Imogen Heap on vocals, followed in 2003 by an album he simply called Jeff. Around this time, he started incorporating more electronic and hip-hop elements into his music; culminating in his fourth Grammy victory for the tempestuous, shape-shifting instrumental Plan B. He toured extensively in the 2010s, including a joint-headline venture with Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The duo had hoped to record together but those plans fell apart. Instead, Beck ended up befriending actor Johnny Depp, with whom he released a full-length album, 18, in 2022. But the musician’s legacy lies in the balance between the fluidity and aggression of his playing, his technical brilliance equalled only by his love of ear-crunching dissonance. “It’s like he’s saying, ‘I’m Jeff Beck. I’m right here. And you can’t ignore me’,” wrote Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers in an essay for Rolling Stone’s Greatest Guitar Players of All Time, where Beck placed seventh. Of course Rolling Stone played to the popular ear, because really, no one could do what Jeff did on a guitar. Jeff transcended music, much in a way as Michael Jordan and Pelé did theirs. “Even in the Yardbirds, he had a tone that was melodic but in-your-face – bright, urgent and edgy, but sweet at the same time. You could tell he was a serious player, and he was going for it. He was not holding back.” “He’d just keep getting better and better,” Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page once recalled. “And he leaves us, mere mortals”.
Marking Beck’s death, Page tweeted, “The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. Jeff could channel music from the ethereal.”.
Jeff Beck had been sick over the Christmas Holidays and died on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at a hospital near his home in Surrey, England. The cause of death was bacterial meningitis.
• Responding to news of his death, singer Rod Stewart called Beck “the greatest”. Posting a picture of the pair together on Instagram, he wrote: “Jeff Beck was on another planet. He took me and Ronnie Wood to the USA in the late 60s in his band the Jeff Beck Group and we haven’t looked back since. “He was one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond. Jeff, you were the greatest, my man. Thank you for everything. RIP.”
• US rock band Hollywood Vampires, comprising Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Tommy Henriksen, also saluted “the passing of our dear friend and guitar legend”. “Jeff’s incredible musicianship and passion for guitar has been an inspiration to us all,” the band wrote. “He was a true innovator and his legacy will live on through his music. Rest in peace, Jeff.” Eric Clapton simply tweeted: “‘Always and ever’…….. ec”.
• Elsewhere, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page paid tribute to Beck as “the six-stringed warrior” and praised his “apparently limitless” musical imagination which could “channel music from the ethereal”.
• In another rock tribute, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger shared a video of the pair playing together, saying music had lost “one of the greatest guitar players in the world” and “we will all miss him so much”.
• Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne said it had been “such an honor” to know and play with Beck, adding: “I can’t express how saddened I am…”
• And Queen guitarist Brian May said he was lost for words, but called Beck “the absolute pinnacle of guitar playing” and a “damn fine human being”. Then he took the opportunity to record a video praising Beck for making “possibly the most beautiful bit of guitar music ever recorded” with his track “Where Were You.” “If you want to hear his depth of emotion and sound and phrasing and the way he could touch your soul, listen to ‘Where Were You’ off the Guitar Shop album,” The Queen guitarist said in the clip. “Just Google ‘Where Were You Jeff Beck’ and sit down and listen to it for four minutes. It’s unbelievable.” “It’s possibly the most beautiful bit of guitar music ever recorded, probably alongside Jimi Hendrix‘s ‘Little Wing,’” he continued. “So sensitive, so beautiful, so incredibly creative and unlike anything you’ve ever heard anywhere else. Yes, of course he had his influences too, but he brought an amazing voice to rock music which will never, ever be emulated, or equaled.” May ended his video tribute with more praise for his fellow guitarist. “Jeff was completely and utterly unique, and the kind of musician who’s impossible to define,” he said. “And I was absolutely in awe of him.”
• Members of Kiss, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, also expressed their shock. Simmons called the news “heartbreaking”, while Stanley said he had “blazed a trail impossible to follow. Play on now and forever”. Singer Paul Young added in a Twitter post: “He was loved by everyone in the know; the guitarists’ guitarist!”
• “Jeff Beck has the combination of brilliant technique with personality,” the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell wrote when Beck placed Number Five on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. “It’s like he’s saying, ‘I’m Jeff Beck. I’m right here. And you can’t ignore me.’ Even in the Yardbirds, he had a tone that was melodic but in-your-face — bright, urgent, and edgy, but sweet at the same time. You could tell he was a serious player, and he was going for it. He was not holding back.”
On a Personal Note:
Jeff Beck didn’t have a lot of songs that resonated with the masses in the way that other guitar heroes’ songs have. HIs music was too quirky, too outside, and just plain not catchy enough for him to have become as well known among the masses as a guy like Eric Clapton, Eddie van Halen or Jimmy Page.
Jeff Beck didn’t have a song like Cocaine where you just play the first few notes and everybody instantly recognizes it.
Instead he has classics like Freeway Jam. Not as many people will recognize this song as they will Layla or Voodoo Chile, but this is less rock and roll and more jazz fusion.
Yes, that’s Jimmy Page with Jeff Beck. And others! Listen to the part where they play some of The Immigrant Song. Hearing Jeff Beck play part of the vocal melody with all the whammy bar inflections he adds is pretty cool.
Jeff Beck isn’t known like Page and Beck doesn’t have a song like Stairway To Heaven and he doesn’t have a song with the popularity of The Immigrant Song either – at least not a song where Jeff Beck gets top billing. He had People Get Ready with Rod Stewart but wasn’t exactly the most cutting edge guitar playing Beck had to offer.
I saw Jeff Beck open for Stevie Ray Vaughan on SRV’s last tour, just a few months before the helicopter crash that took his life. I loved Stevie Ray Vaughan’s set but Jeff Beck, even for us as guitarists was a little outside for our tastes. That was extreme though. He was really doing some real unusual stuff that night with the vibrato bar, intentionally bending notes out of tune just by micro-tones, and I guess Jeff Beck loved doing that, but while I have a ton of respect for him as a musician, I can understand why there were so many more kids trying to be like Eddie Van Halen than trying to be like Jeff Beck. Of course, if a kid wanted to try to be play like Jeff Beck, the big problem is: Where do you start? What would “playing like Jeff Beck” even call for? The concept is so nebulous! Play outside notes, sure, but which outside notes?
While I obviously didn’t always fully appreciate what he was artistically going for all the time, I’m glad that I got to see Jeff Beck play. He was and is a legend and will always be considered as one the best at what he did. Rest in Peace Jeff.
May 29, 1989 (aged 45) John Cipollina and his twin sister Manuela were born in Berkeley, California, on August 24, 1943. Cipollina attended Tamalpais High School, in Mill Valley, California, as did his brother, Mario(born 1954), and sister, Antonia (born 1952). Their father, Gino, was of Italian ancestry. He was a realtor, and his mother, Evelyn, and godfather, José Iturbi, were concert pianists. John showed great promise as a classical pianist in his youth, but his father gave him a guitar when he was 12 and this quickly became his primary instrument.
Trained as a classical pianist, John Cipollina however didn’t just play the usual pentatonic rock and blues riffs; he meandered about the fretboard, producing a plethora of melodic and evocative notes, inflected with plenty of whammy bar, his signature, particularly during the psychedelic era. Simply stated, nobody played lead guitar like John Cipollina!
One of the forerunners of the San Francisco Bay Area sound in the middle 1960s, Cipollina played lead guitar for the fabulous Quicksilver Messenger Service, until the band went “poppy” in the early 1970s. Man do I remember playing Who do you love and Mona. Epic.
Cipollina had a unique guitar sound, mixing solid state and valve amplifiers as early as 1965. He is considered one of the fathers of the San Francisco sound, a form of psychedelic rock.
I like the rapid punch of solid-state for the bottom, and the rodent-gnawing distortion of the tubes on top.
To create his distinctive guitar sound, Cipollina developed a one-of-a-kind amplifier stack. His Gibson SG guitars had two pickups, one for bass and one for treble. The bass pickup fed into two Standel bass amps on the bottom of the stack, each equipped with two 15-inch speakers. The treble pickups fed two Fender amps: a Fender Twin Reverb and a Fender Dual Showman that drove six Wurlitzer horns.
After leaving Quicksilver in 1971, Cipollina formed the band Copperhead with early Quicksilver member Jim Murray (who was soon to leave for Maui, Hawaii), former Stained Glass member Jim McPherson, drummer David Weber, Gary Phillipet (AKA Gary Phillips (keyboardist), later a member of Bay Area bands Earthquake and The Greg Kihn Band), and Pete Sears. Sears was shortly thereafter replaced by current and longtime Bonnie Raitt bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson who played on the Copperhead LP and stayed with the band for its duration. Copperhead disbanded in mid 1974 after becoming a staple in the SF Bay Area and touring the West Coast, Hawaii (Sunshine Crater Fest on New Years Day of 1973 with Santana), the South (opening dates for Steely Dan) and the Midwest.
In May 1974 Cipollina and Link Wray, whose playing and style had influenced John as a young musician and who he had met through bassist Hutch Hutchinson, performed a series of shows together along the West Coast (with Copperhead rhythm section Hutchinson & Weber and keyboardist David Bloom) culminating at The Whiskey in LA where they performed for four nights (May 15–19) on a bill with Lighthouse (band). Cipollina continued to occasionally perform with Wray for the next couple of years.
In 1975, the Welsh psychedelic band Man toured the United States, towards the end of which, they played two gigs at the San Francisco Winterland (March 21 and 22), which were such a success that promoter Bill Graham paid them a bonus and rebooked them. While waiting for the additional gigs, the band met and rehearsed with John Cipollina, who played with them at Winterland in April 1975. After this, Cipollina agreed to play a UK tour which took place in May 1975, during which their “Roundhouse gig” was recorded.
Rumors that Micky Jones had to overdub Cipollina’s parts, as his guitar was out of tune, before their Maximum Darkness album could be released are exaggerated; only one track, “Bananas”, was to have his track replaced, per Deke Leonard. “Everything … which sounds like Cipollina is Cipollina.”
During the 1980s, Cipollina performed with a number of bands, including Fish & Chips, Thunder and Lightning, the Dinosaurs and Problem Child. He was a founding member of Zero and its rhythm guitarist until his death. Most often these bands played club gigs in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Cipollina was well-known
Cipollina died on May 29, 1989, at age 45. His cause of death was alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a lung disease, which he suffered from most of his life and which is exacerbated by smoking.
Quicksilver Messenger Service fans paid tribute to him the following month in San Francisco at an all-star concert at the Fillmore Auditorium which featured Nicky Hopkins, Pete Sears, David Freiberg, and John’s brother Mario, an original member of Huey Lewis and the News. Cipollina’s one of a kind massive amplifier stack was donated, along with one of his customized Gibson SG guitars, and effects pedals, for display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1995.
Garry Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd) was born in West Jacksonville Florida on December 4, 1951. Anybody familiar with the area knows, that West Jacksonville was considered the tough part of town where things were different. It’s the area where Lynyrd Skynyrd was born. And now every original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd is dead. A Southern Rock band of musicians that passed before their time. The kind that used “to rape and pillage” across the country, who got drunk, did drugs, got laid… That was Lynyrd Skynyrd or at least that was the band’s reputation.
I know I can’t say “rape and pillage” anymore. But that’s how we described the rock star lifestyle back in the seventies, and Lynyrd Skynyrd were part of the firmament of the seventies, even after the plane crash.
Rossington had a strong childhood interest in baseball and aspired as a child to one day play for the New York Yankees. Rossington recalled that he was a “good ball player” but upon hearing the Rolling Stones in his early teens he became interested in music and ultimately gave up on his baseball aspirations.
It was Rossington’s love of baseball that indirectly led to the formation of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the summer of 1964 when he was not yet 13 years old. He became acquainted with Ronnie Van Zant and Bob Burns while playing on rival Jacksonville baseball teams and the trio decided to jam together one afternoon after Burns was injured by a ball hit by Van Zant. They set up their equipment in the carport of Burns’ parents’ house and played The Rolling Stones’ then-current hit “Time Is on My Side”. Liking what they heard, they immediately decided to form a band. Naming themselves The Noble Five, with the additions of guitarist Allen Collins and bassist Larry Junstrom, they later changed the name of the band to The One Percent before eventually settling on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.
Rossington grew up in a single-parent household and said that early in their relationship, Ronnie van Zant became something of a father figure to him. He credited Van Zant, who was three years his senior, with teaching him and his bandmates how to drive a car, as well as introducing them to “all that stuff you learn when you’re 14, 15, 16”.
According to a New York Times article, Lacy Van Zant, patriarch of the Van Zant family, once went to West Jacksonville’s Robert E. Lee High School to plead Rossington’s case to school administrators after the fatherless Rossington was suspended for having long hair. Lacy Van Zant explained to the assistant principal that Rossington’s father, who died shortly after Rossington was born, had died in the Army and that Rossington’s mother needed the money Rossington made playing in his band. Lacy Van Zant further explained that, like his own sons, they were working men and long hair was part of the job. It is not known if the elder Van Zant’s efforts were successful, but Rossington later dropped out of high school to focus on Lynyrd Skynyrd full-time.
Rossington’s instrument of choice was a 1959 Gibson Les Paul which he had purchased from a woman whose boyfriend had left her and left behind his guitar. He named it “Berniece” in honor of his mother, whom he was extremely close to after the death of his father. Rossington played lead guitar on “Tuesday’s Gone” and the slide guitar for “Free Bird”. Along with Collins, Rossington also provided the guitar work for “Simple Man”. Besides the Les Paul, he used various other Gibson Guitars including Gibson SGs. Gibson later released a Gary Rossington SG/Les Paul in their Custom Shop. For most of his career, he played through Marshall and Peavey amplifiers.
“Free Bird” was not an immediate hit. After all, Skynyrd was on Al Kooper’s Sounds of the South label, distributed by MCA, and you remember Skynyrd’s song about MCA, right? And just a sidenote re Al… He produced the first three LPs, the band’s best work… Better than the iconic Tom Dowd’s stuff thereafter.
So… Skynyrd penetrated the populace kind of slowly with their first album “Pronounced ….. This was not “Led Zeppelin IV,” where “Stairway to Heaven” was immediately added to playlists. In truth, Skynyrd didn’t really break through nationwide or globally until the second album, “Second Helping,” with “Sweet Home Alabama.”
It’s when their tracks started to permeate FM radio…
God, if today’s youngsters lived through the days of AOR in the seventies. EVERYBODY listened, the FM rock station was the heartbeat of America. If you tuned in, you learned everything you needed to survive. And you never missed a show because you were unaware of it, when a band came to town…
So as the decade wore on, and they had the Memorial 500 and other holiday countdowns, number one was always “Stairway to Heaven.” Number two was “Free Bird.” And eventually “Kashmir” was number three. Always, year after year.
You see Lynyrd Skynyrd had three lead guitarists. We’d seen two drummers, but three lead guitarists? It pushed the music over the line, made it special, magical. It was called a Guitar Army…Not Navy or Air Force, but Army, because that’s where most Southern Boys ended up in real life.
In 1976, Rossington and fellow Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins were both involved in separate car accidents in their hometown of Jacksonville. Rossington had just bought a new Ford Torino and hit an oak tree while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. The band was forced to postpone a tour scheduled to begin a few days later, and Rossington was fined US$5,000 for the delay his actions caused to the band’s schedule. The song “That Smell”, written by Van Zant and Collins, was based on the wreck and Rossington’s state of influence from drugs and alcohol that caused it.
“Sweet Home Alabama” was one of those one listen records. Looped you right in. I asked Al Kooper the backstory. Just after the first LP was released, the band called and asked to come up to Hot Lanta to record a new song. That wasn’t released for another year. I asked Al if he knew it was a hit. He said…IT WAS SWEET HOME ALABAMA!
Though in time Rossington fully recovered from the severe injuries sustained in the plane crash, and later played on stage again, with steel rods in his right arm and right leg, he battled serious drug addiction for several years, largely the result of his heavy dependence on pain medication taken during his recovery. Rossington co-founded the Rossington Collins Band with Collins in 1980. The band released two albums, but disbanded in 1982 after the death of Collins’ wife, Kathy.
One important thing you’ve got to know is Ronnie Van Zant was the frontman and the band leader, and not a reluctant one like Gregg Allman. Ronnie had a large personality, he was full of quotes, and he didn’t give a fuck, he’d say whatever he wanted. Point being, the rest of the band stayed relatively faceless. You only knew the rest of the players from the album covers. But the key songwriters were Van Zant, Allen Collins, occasionally Ed King and Gary Rossington. Rossington had his hands all over the hits.
Even though no one could replace Ronnie, the Skynyrd legend could not be kept down. Ultimately, around 1987, the band was reformed with Ronnie’s brother Johnny as lead vocalist, and over time the original players came and went, and then they ultimately passed away. For the next 30 or so years they kept touring with limited interruptions and no…It’s not like Gary Rossington’s death is a shock. He had so many health problems, it seemed inevitable. He suffered a heart attack on October 8, 2015, after which two Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts had to be canceled; he underwent emergency heart surgery in July 2021…and then he finally gave out on March 5, 2023.
Even if every original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd is dead…the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd is still young. Doesn’t sound dated. Sounds as fresh as the seventies, when rock ruled the world, when we thought it could never die.
Skynyrd was not background. It wasn’t the soundtrack to a video game. The band and its music stood alone. That was enough. No brand extensions were necessary. Ronnie Van Zant’s identity, the band’s image was enough. Long after all the perfumes and other chozzerai the “musicians” of today are purveying is gone, they’ll still be playing Skynyrd music.
You see our music wasn’t momentary, it was FOREVER! And a good portion still is.
But you can only really get the hit by listening to the records. And no one else could be Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington. Without them, without either of them, it’s not Skynyrd. A band. Self-contained. Living the life we all wanted to. The dream was to go on the road, at least go backstage, just to touch, to be in the presence of these giants.
So it’s the end of an era, and those of us still here are left with this empty feeling.
Hilton Valentine – The Animals, was born on 21 May 1943 in North Shields, Northumberland, England, and was influenced by the 1950s skiffle craze – a kind of fusion of American folk, country, jazz and blues-. His mother bought him his first guitar in 1956 when he was 13, he taught himself some chords from a book called “Teach Yourself a Thousand Chords“. He continued to develop his musical talent at Tynemouth High School and formed his own skiffle group called the Heppers. They played local gigs and a newspaper described them at the time as, “A young but promising skiffle group”. The Heppers eventually evolved into a rock and roll band, the Wildcats in c. 1959. The Wildcats became a popular band in the Tyneside area, getting a lot of bookings for dance halls, working men’s clubs, church halls etc., and it was during this period that they decided to record a 10″ acetate LP titled Sounds of the Wild Cats.
But then came the Animals! The group was formed in 1963 when Eric Burdon joined the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, which already included the other original members of The Animals. There are different versions of the origin of the name of the band. Some say they were nicknamed that way because of their “animal” attitude on stage and because they were sticky. Others say it was in honor of a friend of Eric Burdon’s who was nicknamed “animal”. They soon began to get noticed and in 1964, they moved to London to play at various well-known clubs in the capital.
Their style drew elements from blues, creating a style of psychedelic rock and hard rock that was unique for its time and influenced many later bands and artists. The Animals’ best-known song is “The House of The Rising Sun”, which reached number one on the popularity charts in both the UK and the United States.
Now the Animals were hobbled by being on MGM Records, which was never cool. We knew that back then, we saw the labels on the 45s, we knew the orange and yellow of Capitol, the red of Columbia…MGM was a lame label, without the infrastructure of its big time competitors. But the Animals were giants.
It was the summer of ’64. The summer of “A Hard Day’s Night.” The British Invasion was in full swing, our minds had expanded to encompass the work of seemingly everything from the U.K., assuming it was good. And the Animals were.
At that point most people had no idea “House of the Rising Sun” was a Dave Van Ronk staple, never mind being on Bob Dylan’s first LP, it was the rock sound that put the Animals’ version over the top. Of course you had Eric Burdon’s vocal, but there is not a boomer alive, that’s how ubiquitous hit songs were back then, who doesn’t know the opening guitar lick to “House of the Rising Sun.” That arpeggio lick was played by Hilton Valentine.
Now the original incarnation of the Animals only lasted until 1966. Sure, their hit-making era was only three years, from ’64-’66, but they’d paid dues before that, beginning in ’62, in Newcastle upon Tyne, an industrial area without the hipness of Liverpool, never mind London. The Animals had a dark name and they were perceived as dark. But they had a slew of hits.
“House of the Rising Sun”, of course was their breakthrough, and went to #1, but “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” which only went to #13 in the U.S., was a bigger song, probably better remembered. Barry Mann and Cynthia Well wrote it, but the Animals made it their own, and it did not have the legacy of a standard, it was fresh, brand new.
As for “It’s My Life”…Eric Burdon was gonna ride that serpent, he was gonna break loose, because..
“It’s my life and I’ll do what I want It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want”
This was the ethos of the sixties, it’s not the ethos of today. Our parents were not fighting us for attention, there was no question of them being our best friends, we were throwing off the chains of society, of expectations, we were gonna forge our own path.
It’s a great song, Burdon delivers it, but never underestimate the importance of Hilton Valentine’s twelve string guitar. And the Animals had other hits, but “Don’t Bring Me Down” is probably my favorite.
“When you complain and criticize I feel I’m nothing in your eyes It makes me feel like giving up Because my best just ain’t good enough”
The hormones had awoken. Puberty was in full swing. What you wanted was too often unattainable. You had crushes. But to them you barely existed, if at all. But to you, they were everything. The only thing you had to soothe yourself was this music.
“Oh, oh no Don’t bring me down”
Now in the case of “Don’t Bring Me Down” one cannot underestimate the importance of Dave Rowberry’s organ, and Eric Burdon sings with nuance, something absent from too much of today’s music, and it’s a great Gerry Goffin/Carole King song, but what truly makes “Don’t Bring Me Down” a hit is Hilton Valentine’s fuzz guitar. It’s a bedrock element of rock history. And you probably had no idea who Hilton Valentine was. He’s that guy!
Valentine left The Animals for a solo career after the original line-up split in 1966. He was very close with Eric Burdon and while there was no touring Hilton lived in the downstairs basement apartment of Eric’s Laurel Canyon home and when Burdon became frontman for War, he took Hilton Valentine with him on tour as their guitar tech. Valentine went on to take part in several reunions and toured with Burdon in 2007. He never left the music. Based in Connecticut with his wife Germaine in recent years, he also released music with his band Skiffledog.
Hilton Valentine died 29 January 2021 at the age of 77.
Our heroes no longer die before their time, they don’t O.D., their bodies give out and they’re gone, and there are so many of them these days that their deaths are less shocking and get less attention, after all, nobody lives forever.
Eric Burdon paid tribute to Valentine on Instagram, writing: “The opening opus of Rising Sun will never sound the same!… You didn’t just play it, you lived it! Heartbroken by the sudden news of Hilton’s passing. “We had great times together, Geordie lad. From the North Shields to the entire world…Rock In Peace.”
Tim Bogert – (Vanilla Fudge) Born John Voorhis Bogert III on Aug. 27, 1944 in New York City, he grew up playing multiple instruments. When Tim was eight years old, he was already riding his bicycle to piano lessons. The piano lessons, however, were soon replaced by Little League. Music was in him, though and at thirteen, Little League was then replaced by a clarinet. Soon thereafter, Tim picked up the saxophone and played in his high school marching band. Time was living in New Jersey by now and he met a friend named Dale. They formed a band called The Belltones with Tim playing sax and made good money playing gigs around New Jersey at high school dances and VFW halls. This band evolved into The Chessmen.
The Chessmen were introduced by WADO disk jockey Allen Fredericks, who helped them get gigs backing up doowop groups such as The Shirelles, The Crest, The Earl, and The Doves. The Chessmen were now playing New York City. With the advent of surf music which didn’t have much sax, Tim Bogert then picked up the electric bass. After Tim left high school, he was in and out of a number of bands in the NYC area. In 1965, he went on a lounge tour of the Eastern Seaboard with Rick Martin and the Showmen, where he met Mark Stein, the keyboardist and vocalist. The two of them hit it off, and they soon left to join with drummer Joey Brennan and guitarist Vince Martell to form their own band, The Pigeons. After recording an album called “While the World was Eating”, they replaced drummer Joe Brennan with Carmine Appice and changed the name of the band to Vanilla Fudge.
“We had just gotten a recording contract from Atlantic Records, and the name Pigeons was taken, so in a couple of hours we had to think of a new name,” Bogert told For Bass Players Only in 2010. “Mark’s cousin’s nickname was ‘Vanilla Fudge’ — no, I don’t know why — and this name was picked and agreed to by everyone. It had nothing to do with blue-eyed soul!”
The band, known for fusing strains of psychedelia and proto-metal, mingled originals with cover songs on their early albums, including heavy takes on the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” and Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” Their 1967 take on the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” served as the soundtrack to the climatic scene of Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The song that took them to the top was a cover of the Supremes, titled “You keep me hanging on. According to Mark Stein, he and Tim were “hanging out” one day in early 1967 when You Keep Me Hanging On by The Supremes came on the radio. They both agreed that the words were very soulful and that the song was too fast. Tim replies that they took the idea to slow it down back to Vince and Carmine. They performed it that night and refined the arrangement over the next few weeks and the rest is history. It was recorded in one take and that’s the version we’ve been listening to for fifty years! The album soared to number 3 on the national charts behind The Beatles and The Supremes. It stayed on the charts for over 200 weeks! The first notes Tim plays in the intro to this symphonic rock piece indicate his incredible speed and his unique ability take you on a “bass trip” while continuously doing what a bass player is supposed to do; holding down the bottom and completing the rhythm section. This was the emerging Tim Bogert style.
Tim recorded five albums with Vanilla Fudge between 1967 and 1969. As Vanilla Fudge matured, so did his style, on both the melodic and rhythmic sides. His “bass trips” became even more imaginative, utilizing more effects and greater speed, yet his rhythmic grooves were just as awesome. These techniques are prevalent on the Some Velvet Morning and Break Song cuts on the Near the Beginning album. Tim and drummer Carmine Appice became undoubtedly the tightest rhythm section in rock.
The quartet released five studio albums during their ’60s run, all of which cracked the top 40 of the Billboard 200: 1967’s gold-selling Vanilla Fudge, 1968’s The Beat Goes On and Renaissance; and 1969’s Near the Beginning and Rock & Roll.
Following the breakup of Vanilla Fudge in March of 1970, Tim went on with Carmine to form Cactus with guitarist Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels), and vocalist Rusty Day(Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes). About the name says Tim, “Carmine and I were lying in the back of a limo on the way home from a gig in Arizona. We were talking about leaving the Fudge. We passed under a sign that read ‘ The Cactus Drive-In’ . It was the easiest band name we ever thought of. “
This high energy rockin’ blues band gave Tim the opportunity to further prove his ability to fill the gaps in what was essentially an instrumental trio, while maintaining his meaty, melodic style. After three studio albums, Jim McCarty left the band and was replaced by an unknown guitarist, Werner Friching, from Germany that they met in New York. Carmine once said that he and Tim had trouble with many guitarists because the two of them were “crazy musicians from New York” and were too high energy. Well, so much the loss for the guitar players! With the addition of keyboardist Duane Hitchings, from the original Buddy Miles Express and a new vocalist, Pete French, from Atomic Rooster, they recorded a fourth album ‘Ot ‘n Sweaty in 1972. This Cactus version, lasted only another seven months before breaking up completely.
The Bogert/Appice rhythm section then teamed up once again. This time with the legendary Jeff Beck. Beck, Bogert, and Appice was the new supergroup. Tim and Carmine had wanted to team up with Beck for a long time. Jeff had called them up to do a session with Stevie Wonder and were asked to join the Jeff Beck Group. They left Cactus and did a national tour with Beck.
Their rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition was an instant hit. Vanilla Fudge harmonies, provided by Tim and Carmine, were evident in Lady. BBA’s live album from Japan, which was coincidentally only released in Japan and is now a collectors item, displayed the intense energy they became known for. Ray Manzerek of The Doors described BBA as “one of the great power trios of all time.”
Ultimately, Tim dissolved his partnership with Beck and moved from New York to Los Angeles.
“I did nothing for six months. Just rode my motorcycle. Then I teamed up with Steve Perry for two years.” Tim met Steve at a rehearsal studio and they put a band together called Pieces.”
After that, Tim went to England to do one session and wound up staying for three and a half years. While there, he joined a band with Chris Stainton called Boxer. They recorded one album and toured England. 1979 found Tim back in California mainly living the life of a freelance musician working local clubs on a casual basis and doing his share of studio dates with the likes of Rod Stewart on his “Foolish Behaviour” album and Bo Diddley on his “20th Anniversary of Rock ‘N’ Roll album.
“After that I went back to Europe to live in Italy for seven months to do session work and tour.” Upon his return to Los Angeles, Tim joined Bobby and the Midnights with Billy Cobham and Bob Weir. That took him on another tour of the U.S. for a year and a half. The following year, Tim toured nationally with Rick Derringer.
Bogert then joined Bobby and the Midnites, a side project formed by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. Though he toured with the group, Bogert left before their debut album was released, joining the U.K. group Boxer in 1977. In 1981, Bogert became a faculty member at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, but continued to record, releasing his second album, “Master’s Brew,” in 1983 and releasing “Mystery” with Vanilla Fudge in 1984.
Over the years, Bogert contributed to multiple projects and tours, including stints with Rick Derringer, Steve Perry, Rod Stewart and others. He also participated in reunions with Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, including the former band’s 2007 record, Out Through the In Door, and the latter group’s 2006 LP, Cactus V.
In 1999, Bogert was recognized by the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame for his contributions to the genre. Bogert continued to tour with various groups until he retired. In August of 2005, Tim was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which left him unable to perform for a couple of years.
In August 2007, the all original Vanilla Fudge reunited again for a concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with Deep Purple, and continued to tour into 2008.
In 2009, resulting problems from the motorcycle accident forced Tim to reluctantly retire from touring. He was still doing session work locally in Simi Valley, California and over the Internet.
According to Bogert’s official biography, he “reluctantly” retired from touring in 2010 due to “resulting problems” from a motorcycle accident. He did, however, continue to do local session work. In 2020, Vanilla Fudge recorded “Stop In The Name Of Love”. At their invitation, Tim rejoined his buddies for this track, which would be his last recording as he was fighting cancer.
After a long battle with cancer Tim Bogert died on January 13, 2021.
“I loved Tim like a brother. He will be missed very much in my life. I will miss calling him, cracking jokes together, talking music, and remembering the great times we had together, and how we created kick-ass music together,” Carmine Appice wrote . “Perhaps the only good thing about knowing someone close to you is suffering a serious illness, is you have an opportunity to tell them that you love them, and why you love them. I did that, a lot. I was touched to hear it said back to me. Nothing was left unsaid between us and I’m grateful for that. I highly recommend it. Rest in peace, my partner. I love you. See you on the other side.”
Dino Danelli – (The Young Rascals) was born July 23, 1944 into an Italian American family in Jersey City, New Jersey. Danelli trained as a jazz drummer in his early years. Barely a teenager he played with Lionel Hampton and (by 1961) was playing R&B in New Orleans. He returned to New York in 1962 with a band called Ronnie Speeks & the Elrods. Later he also worked at times with such legendary performers as Little Willie John.
Dino was a prodigy from the Jersey City-Hoboken area, making the scene in his early teens, learning from the jazz greats like Krupa and Buddy Rich who played regularly at the Metropole, a very adult Club in New York City where the management took a shine to the young star-in-the-making and set him up with a cot in a dressing room years before he made it big. “They had vision, knew something was going to happen for me.” Young Dino held a daytime gig at the Metropole with a rock and roll band, travelled to New Jersey sometimes at night with his drum kit, performed with Lionel Hampton when he was fifteen years of age. “I was watching these people like a sponge, absorbing it all. I was into music, women, the normal rock and roll vibe, watching the jazz players at night, going down to the Village. Agents would call up say ‘I need three guys, four sets, $25 a man.’ I would pick up guys—we all knew the same songs, people weren’t writing a lot back then—we were playing top 40 and R & B obscurities. One of the guitarists was Jimmy James. He went to England and became Jimi Hendrix.” After a while, Dino went to New Orleans, came back to New York, met Felix Cavaliere, joined him for a gig in Las Vegas, returned to New York and with Gene and Eddie, the Young Rascals were born.-
A clearing house for local Italian musicians in northern New Jersey at the time, was the rock group Joey Dee and the Starliters (global hits with ‘Shout’, where Cornish, Cavaliere and Brigati did ‘internships’. Danelli first met Eddie Brigati (a pickup singer on the local R&B circuit) and Felix Cavaliere (a classically trained pianist) in 1963. Later that year, Danelli and Cavaliere traveled to Las Vegas to try their luck with a casino house band the Scotties and backed up singer Sandu Scott and her Scottys. Sandu Scott was a singer who was going to Las Vegas and coming through New York looking for a back-up band. As Dino recalled, “well Vegas is happening, there’s money in it, let’s go. So, we got aboard and went out there. Right at that time, the Beatles had just broke. We heard that and said we’ve got to do what those guys are doing. This is fabulous.”
“Felix and I had met in New York in late ’63 or ’64. We wanted to work with each other, ’cause we’d heard about each other’s playing. Around those days, word traveled really quick about happening musicians. The circle was quite small. So, he had come to see me play and we hit it off.”
They remained in Vegas until February 1964, but then ventured back to New York City where later in 1964, Danelli teamed with Cavaliere, Brigati and a Canadian-born guitarist named Gene Cornish to form the Young Rascals.
They debuted as the Young Rascals at the Choo Choo Club in Garfield, New Jersey. Before Cavaliere and Brigati began composing original music), Danelli and Cavaliere often scouted new repertory that the group could perform. In a 1988 interview, he cited their trips to record stores as yielding such songs as “Mustang Sally” and “Good Lovin’.” Dino Danelli was with the Young Rascals, later changing their name to Rascals for seven years (1965–1972).
In the beginning we were doing covers. At the time, we weren’t writing at all. We had no originals. “I Ain’t Gonna Eat My Heart Out Anymore” was written by Pam Sawyer and Laurie Burton. They were writing for Motava at that point, I think. They were just freelancing and we found that song. We had thought of trying to start to write, but there were so many things going on. We didn’t sit down and go into studios, like we did later on. Myself and Felix used to go into little record shops, that’s where we found “Good Lovin”. We found 2 or 3 other songs in record shops – “Mustang Sally”, “Temptation Out To Get Me”, all strong songs in our show. Then, after “Good Lovin”, we got into the studio and started writing heavily. It all started to happen then.”
The songwriting partnership between Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati began to flourish. Cavaliere wrote the music and themes, and Brigati, the verses with the former’s help. Their second album, Collections, had four Cavaliere/Brigati songs and two Cornish originals in its eleven tracks.
Between 1966 and 1968 the act embraced soul music, reaching the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 with nine singles, including the #1s “Good Lovin'” (1966), “Groovin'” (1967), and “People Got to Be Free” (1968), as well as big radio hits such as the much-covered “How Can I Be Sure?” (#4 1967) and “A Beautiful Morning” (#3 1968), plus another critical favorite “A Girl Like You” (#10 1967), becoming one of the best known examples of the blue-eyed soul genre, along with the Righteous Brothers. The Young Rascals officially became the Rascals with the release of their third long player, the concept album ‘Once Upon A Dream‘ in 1967 which also launched Dino Danelli as a visual artist.
His visual artistic talent came about in a kind of metaphysical fashion. While Dino was ensconced in his apartment creating, quite literally boxes of dreams, Felix and Eddie were writing songs for the album, the Rascals answer to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band stayed popular for another couple of years, especially in Canada, but as their musical direction turned more R&B and Jazz, the music world turned to hard rock and metal. During the years the Rascals sold some 40 million records, accumulating 13 Gold and 2 Platinum albums in the process and an induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
By early 1972 it was all over and along with Cornish, Danelli formed the group Bulldog who produced two albums before disbanding in 1975. Danelli joined the Leslie West Band (West) for a short time along with bassist Busta Jones. Danelli and Cornish then joined the group Fotomaker in 1978 (initially with ex-Raspberries member Wally Bryson). By 1980, Danelli joined Steven Van Zandt as a member of Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul. Van Zandt and Springsteen were early fans of the Young Rascals.
“1980 was actually the beginning with Steven. And we didn’t go out and start working ’till the end of 1981. I’m still with Steven actually. We’ve gone to Europe a lot in the last six years. I’m his art director. I do all his graphic work, his album covers, mostly in Europe, ’cause he doesn’t get released here like he gets released in Europe.”
After performing with Cavaliere and Cornish at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert on 14 May 1988, there was a short-lived Rascals reunion tour later that year without Brigati, apparently because of some disagreements between Brigati and Cavaliere. But all four original members came together to perform at their induction by Steven van Zandt,into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and then once again on 24 April 2010, for the Kristen Ann Carr Fund dinner at the Tribeca Grill in Tribeca, New York City. He reunited once again with his bandmates. The Rascals appeared at the Capital Theater in Port Chester, New York for six shows in December 2012 and for fifteen dates at the Richard Rogers Theatre on Broadway (15 April – 5 May 2013). Their production, entitled ‘Once Upon A Dream’, toured North America (Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago, Detroit, Rochester, and New York City). It was produced by long-time Rascals fans, Steven Van Zandt and his wife Maureen.
Danelli was also a visual artist, based at DinoDanelliArt.com, and designed album covers for The Rascals and Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul.
Dino Danelli, the first real rock drummer, died from congestive heart failure and other heart related disease on December 15, 2022. Danelli’s friend and band archivist Joe Russo shared the news on the drummer’s official Facebook page, sharing an extensive message about his health issues and “primary challenges” of coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.
“To know Dino, you must understand that art was his life,” Russo wrote. “Art, music and film consumed his mind and his heart. He was an insomniac, sometimes staying awake for days, because he was always writing, reading, painting, drawing, watching films. He was beyond private and for someone who many consider one of the greatest drummers of all time, humble to a fault.”
He has been called “one of the great unappreciated rock drummers in history”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with the (Young) Rascals.
The End of an Era
Dino Danelli totally changed rock n’ roll drumming. Before him it was the paradiddle musings on guys like Ron Wilson of The Surfaris or Sandy Nelson. Both great, but mainly driven by the snare heavy prominence of high school marching bands. Dino’s twirling was great but his KICK changed everything. Suddenly the ballsy kick heavy drummers from NJ, the Bronx and Long Island followed in his wake. Guys like Carmine Appice, John Barbata and Tom Scarpinato. If you were at any concerts at the NY State World’s Fair in 1964-65 you saw the change. This time around the Brits followed us with heavy kick players like Bonham, Baker and the vastly underrated B.J. Wilson. Every week it seems we are calling it the “end of an era”, but Dino’s passing truly is one. After Dino came Ginger Baker, the drum solo. But Ginger’s dead too. So many of them are already gone, with more on the way. If you didn’t see them, you never will. Rock and roll is a hard mistress. What seems like forever is really just a few years long. When you’re young you think these bands will last forever. But few do. Except for the superstars, the rest go on to straight jobs, or die prematurely. It’s weird, without education or experience so many end up doing manual labor. They were our heroes, and now…
Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown) was born Kim Maiden Simmonds on Dec. 5, 1947 in Caerphilly, Wales, to Henry Simmonds, an electrician, and Phyllis (Davies) Simmonds, a homemaker. As a child, he was drawn to the early rock ’n’ roll albums owned by his older brother, Harry, who later worked for Bill Haley’s British fan club. “My brother took me to see all the rock ’n’ roll movies,I grew up with all that: Little Richard, Bill Haley and, of course, Elvis.” By age 10 he had moved with his family to London, where his brother took him to jazz record stores that also sold blues albums. The singer and pianist Memphis Slim — one of the sophisticated blues guys that could keep one foot in the jazz world and one foot in the blues world became a favorite. Simmonds bought his first guitar at 13 and began imitating the blues licks on the records he loved. So intent was he on a music career that he never completed high school.
A chance meeting at a record shop in 1965 with the harmonica player John O’Leary led to the formation of what was initially called the Savoy Brown Blues Band. (The first word in the name echoed the name of an important American jazz and R&B label) The group’s initial lineup featured six players, two of them Black — the singer Brice Portius and the drummer Leo Manning — making them one of the few multiracial bands on the British rock scene of the 1960s. Continue reading Kim Simmonds – 12/2022
Wilko Johnson (Dr. Feelgood) was born John Andrew Wilkinson on 12 July 1947 in Canvey Island, Essex, UK. One of his earliest memories was of the 1953 floods, which hit low-lying Canvey badly and caused many deaths. His father, a gas-fitter, was “a stupid and uneducated and violent person”, according to his son, and died when Wilko was a teenager. Canvey became a romantic place in Johnson’s mind, with its lonely views of the Thames estuary overshadowed by the towers and blazing fires of the nearby Shell Haven oil refinery. Johnson and his contemporaries dubbed the area the Thames Delta, in homage to the Mississippi Delta, which spawned the blues musicians they admired. He first began playing the guitar after watching the Shadows on television, then later was inspired by Mick Green, guitarist with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates. Green’s knack for mixing up lead and rhythm guitar parts had a clear influence on Johnson’s technique. Wilko instinctively began to play left-handed, but forced himself to switch to right-handed. When he found that playing right-handed meant he could not hold a plectrum, he perfected a way of flicking his fingernails across the strings, which helped him to play the speedy, slashing rhythms that became his stock-in-trade. Continue reading Wilko Johnson – 11/2022
Jeff LaBar (lead guitarist for Cinderella), born March 18, 1963 in Darby, Pennsylvania, he was of American and Japanese ancestry through his mother, June. He grew up in Upper Darby, , where he received primary education. Jeff had a particularly close relationship with his mother, June, who was his biggest inspiration in life. Young Jeff picked up guitar playing as a teenager, inspired by his older brother Jack, and he joined the local rock band Cinderella, replacing Cinderella’s original guitarist, Michael Schermick in 1985. The band was formed 3 years earlier and developed a following in the region, but with the arrival of LaBar, the band sparked into international stardom, with a string of platinum selling albums.
Jeff’s biggest musical influences though his early career were 1970s British rock bands, such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, while he also enjoyed the psychedelic music of Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Genesis. In later years, he grew a liking to a heavier style of rock, particularly played by Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath.
Cinderella received first major recognition from the Kiss bass guitarist Gene Simmons, who tried to get them a deal with Kiss’ record label PolyGram, which the members of Cinderella ended up declining. However, after watching them perform in 1984, Jon Bon Jovi convinced the Mercury/Polygram Records executive Derek Shulman to sign Cinderella to his label, after extensive negotiations. Cinderella released their debut album, “Night Songs” in August 1986, which became a huge success, launching the band into international stardom. Continue reading Jeff LaBar 7/2021
Spencer Davis was born Spencer David Nelson Davies on 17 July 1939 in Swansea. He later changed his name to Davis because he disliked being called “Daveys”. A musical child, he took up the harmonica and accordion and although he passed seven O-levels at Dynevor School, Swansea, he left at 16 and moved to London where he landed a job with HM Customs and Excise. He did not take to it. “We always wrote in red ink,” he remembered, “it was like writing in my own blood. I thought I was writing my life away.” After 18 months he returned to school to study for A-levels, became head boy and in 1960 enrolled at Birmingham University.
By then he was an enthusiastic amateur musician, keen on skiffle, jazz and blues, and an accomplished guitarist, influenced by the rhythm and blues he heard on the radio and on records imported from America. As a student he often performed on stage in the evenings, playing in folk clubs in and around Birmingham. In music circles, Davis was later known as “Professor”.
His early musical influences were skiffle, jazz and blues. Musical artists who influenced Davis include Big Bill Broonzy, Huddy Ledbetter, Buddy Holly, Davey Graham, John Martyn, Alexis Korner and Long John Baldry. By the time he was 16, Davis was hooked on the guitar and the American rhythm and blues music making its way across the Atlantic. With few opportunities to hear R&B in South Wales, Davis attended as many local gigs as practically possible. Continue reading Spencer Davis – 10/2020
Peter Green – Peter Allen Greenbaum was born into a Jewish family, the youngest of Joe and Ann Greenbaum’s four children, on Oct. 29, 1946, in Bethnal Green, London’s East End. His grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Ukraine. Fascism and anti-Semitism were on the rise in England as well as Germany in the years before WWII — thugs threw bricks and bottles through the windows of Jewish homes in the East End. After the war, Peter’s father officially changed the family name to Green. The gift of a cheap guitar by his older brother Len,who had lost interest in learning how to play, put the 10-year-old Green on a musical path. His other brother, Michael, taught him his first guitar chords and by the age of 11 Green was teaching himself. He began playing professionally by the age of 15, while working for a number of east London shipping companies. He first played bass guitar in a band called Bobby Dennis and the Dominoes, which performed pop chart covers and rock ‘n’ roll standards,including Shadows (Cliff Richards’ backing band at times). He later stated that Hank Marvin, lead guitarist for the Shadowd was one of his guitar heroes and he played the Shadows’ song “Midnight” on the 1996 tribute album Twang.
He went on to join a rhythm and blues outfit, the Muskrats, then a band called the Tridents in which he also played bass. It was right around his 20th birthday when he got his first big exposure break, replacing Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers — initially for just 4 gigs in October 1965, after Clapton abruptly took off for a Greek holiday. Continue reading Peter Green – 7/2020
Christine McVie was born Christine Anne Perfect on July 12, 1943, in the Lake District of England to Cyril Perfect, a classical violinist and college music professor and Beatrice (Reece) Perfect, a psychic. Her father encouraged her to start taking classical piano lessons when she was 11. Her focus changed radically four years later when she came across some sheet music for Fats Domino songs. At that moment “It was goodbye Chopin.” “I started playing the boogie bass. I got hooked on the blues. And the songs I write use that left hand. It’s rooted in the blues.”
Christine Perfect studied sculpture at Birmingham Art College and for a while considered becoming an art teacher. At the same time, she briefly played in a duo and had a personal relationship with Welsh guitarist Spencer Davis, who, along with a teenage Steve Winwood, would later find fame in the Spencer Davis Group. She also helped form a band named Shades of Blue with several future members of Chicken Shack.
After graduating from college in 1966, she moved to London and became a window dresser for a department store. As the sixties started swinging, she started performing with bands, eventually falling in with blues group Chicken Shack. Later, she was asked to join Chicken Shack as keyboardist and sometime singer. She wrote two songs for the band’s debut album, “40 Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed and Ready to Serve.” Even though her style never totally fitted with the group’s more raucous sound, the subtler songs she fronted ended up finding the greatest commercial success. She scored a No. 14 British hit with Chicken Shack on a cover of Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” for which she sang lead and Melody Maker readers voted her best female vocalist in both 1969 and 70. While Chicken Shack supported Fleetwood Mac on tour, Christine Perfect fell in love with Mac’s bassist John McVie and they married in 1968. Christine McVie served in Fleetwood Mac during several incarnations that dated to 1971, but she also had uncredited roles playing keyboards and singing backup as far back as the band’s second album, released in 1968. Continue reading Christine McVie – 11/2022
The famous Grace Slick Salute was giving the middle finger. In 1965 Grace Slick, a 26 year old San Francisco department store model, and her cinematographer husband Jerry had become bored with their conventional marriage. They decided to liven things up a bit. First, they would embrace free love and polyamory (in the common vernacular they became swingers). Second, they would begin experimenting with LSD. Third, after seeing The Jefferson Airplane perform Grace and Jerry decided that the embryonic San Francisco rock scene looked like a whole lot of fun and formed a band.
Grace had been playing piano and organ since childhood. Jerry was a drummer, his brother Darby played guitar and their friend David Miner was a bass player. They formed The Great Society, a band with an eastern modal approach to psychedelic rock. The Great Society was soon sharing the bill with bands like The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and The Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane.
In 1966 Jefferson Airplane’s female vocalist Signe Toly Anderson left the band when her pregnancy made it uncomfortable to tour. Grace Slick was asked to join. She hit the ground running, contributing two songs she had recorded with The Great Society: “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit”. Both songs were hits and Surrealistic Pillow was one of the albums that provided the soundtrack for The Summer of Love (1967).
Grace Slick was now a rockstar. She embraced all of the excesses of a life centered in Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. When it came to sex Grace’s trophies include everyone in Jefferson Airplane except Marty Balin and a roster of 60’s rockstars that includes Jim Morrison. When it came to drugs Grace Slick was not only the acid queen but very few of men could keep up with her drinking. Grace Slick used every 60’s and 70’s drug with the exception of heroin. (The decision to abstain from that drug is what kept her off the drug casualty list.) As a rocker Grace Slick played Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont, the three most important rock festivals of the 1960’s.
Grace Slick’s rap sheet is longer than Keith Richards. Here are a few of the highlights.
Drunk Mouth Arrests “Up against the wall, motherfucker!” More than one cop has been given the finger by Grace Slick.
Most of Grace Slick’s arrests have been misdemeanor drunk and disorderlies. Basically, when Grace gets drunk and sees cops she will start baiting them. It can be at a party, a concert or hotel lobby. She did it several times from the stage. If no microphone is available she will deliver one of her iconic one finger salutes. To say that Grace Slick has a problem with authority would be an understatement She had more balls than most sixties radicals..
Attempted to Dose President Richard Nixon with LSD
In 1970 outside The White House with hippie radical Abbie Hoffman.
In 1970, unbeknownst to the Nixon Administration, The Acid Queen received an invitation to a tea party at The White House. One of the colleges Grace Slick attended was Finch College in New York. Another Finch graduate was Tricia Nixon whose father had recently taken office. Invitations went out to all Finch alumni to a reunion at The White House. Grace decided she could end the Vietnam War by dosing Richard Nixon with acid. She brought 60’s radical hippie Abbie Hoffman as her plus one and enough LSD to spike the tea. The Secret Service recognized Hoffman and denied the couple entry.
Racing In The Streets
Jorma Kaukonen racing a mini-bike. In 1971 he pulled Grace Slick from her burning Aston Martin after she challenged him to a street race.
Jefferson Airplane lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen had a passion for speed. He would race anything from go carts to sports cars. He even spent a winter in Finland learning how to speed skate.
In 1971, after a recording session that went into the wee wee hours, Grace Slick decided to challenge Jorma to a street race on the streets of San Francisco. On Doyle Drive Grace Slick spun out and hit a bridge abutment. The Aston Martin was totaled. Grace walked away with a few scratches and made the recording session the next evening.
The Acid Queen Declares War On Germany
Between 1974 and 1978 Grace Slick, Paul Kantner and Marty Balin had a string of four hit albums as Jefferson Starship. In 1978 they were headlining a festival in Hamburg. Grace Slick was too drunk to perform. The fans rioted and set the band’s equipment on fire. Grace Slick, the erstwhile 60’s radical anti-war activist, declared war on Germany.
The band (including singer Grace Slick) was on tour in Europe to promote the recently released Earth album when a stop in Germany deteriorated into a confusing mess. “She’d always had a thing about Germany,” Jeff Tamarkin wrote in the band bio Got a Revolution! “All things Deutsche brought out the worst in her.”
During the tour of Europe, Slick fell ill. At first, everyone thought her stomach virus was a result of food poisoning. But a doctor diagnosed appendicitis and told Slick she was well enough to perform. A show in Wiesbaden was canceled, but the next night’s concert in Hamburg was still on.
As showtime neared, Slick tore into an alcohol-fueled tantrum, throwing bottles, refusing to get ready for the concert and demanding more booze from room service. By the time the band got onstage, she was in no condition to perform. The show was filmed for the German music program Rockpalast, but never aired – maybe because Slick began taunting the audience, repeatedly asking, “Who won the war?” She also called them Nazis and gave the “Heil Hitler!” salute onstage.
“I’m in Germany and I’m gonna get back at them for Dachau, or some dumb drunken decision,” Slick recalled in Tamarkin’s book. “That’s what that night was about: dumb, drunken decisions. So, they started walking out, but they kept coming back, like: ‘Maybe she’ll do something really hideous and we will have missed it.’ A freak show.”
She stepped in front of the camera and gave the viewers at home a close up of the famous Grace Slick one finger salute. Then she lept from the stage and stuck her middle finger up the nose of some poor concert goer who scored tickets for the front row. The fallout? Marty Balin quit the band and Grace was fired. Grace went to rehab and returned to the band three years later.
Armed Standoff With Police
After a late 1980’s reunion tour with Jefferson Airplane Grace Slick retired from music. She didn’t believe that people over the age of fifty should be performing as rock musicians. She took up painting and lived off her royalties. Retirement, however, did not slow down Grace Slick.
On March 4,1994 Grace Slick started chasing her boyfriend around her house and property with a shotgun, firing it several times. When the Tiburon California Police showed up she stood on her porch and pointed the shotgun at the cops demanding that they leave her property. During a moment’s distraction the cops wrestled the shotgun from her. Grace Slick was arrested and changed with several felonies. A plea bargain allowed her to get away with a fine, probation and a stint in rehab.
Rock’s Ultimate Survivors?
Grace Slick is now in her eighties. She survived several health scares. She lives in Malibu, California and sells paintings. Grace Slick is one of rock’s ultimate survivors and deserves to be included in the same group of badasses as Keith Richards, Ozzy Osborne, Iggy Pop and Lemmy.
Grace Slick with the other two surviving members of Jefferson Airplane, Jack Casady (l) and Jorma Kaukonen(r).
“Hello you fools You got Rembrandts on the mantle and a Rolls in the garage but your old man wouldn’t know a clitoris from a junk bond even if you had the guts to show him your twat in the first place.”Grace Slick speaking to an audience of wealthy patrons at The Whitney Museum of Art.
Two years short of 60 years ago, the invasion of British Pop and Rock music was spearheaded by the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. In a short period of time the thermometer in the American music scene, the Billboard Top 100, changed dramatically Here are the major top British acts considered as game changers.
The Beatles: Beatlemania didn’t happen for nothing. They weren’t an average boyband. Lennon and McCartney were divinely touched, possessing the ability to write pop songs that were pretty and not sappy. Harrison was truly an innovator on the guitar, finding the strange notes to use rather than the obvious ones. He also never overstayed his welcome, with solos short and concise, making every second count. How four men could transform several times between 1962 and 1965 is amazing. Moving from pop classics like “Please Please Me” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to mature songs like “In My Life” and “Nowhere Man” in such little time is evidence enough as to why they resonate so many decades later. The Beatles as a band called it quits in 1969, after which time all four members started solo careers, with Paul McCarthy gaining most success. He is still doing 3 hour sold out shows at age 80 in 2022. Sadly John Lennon was murdered in New York City in December 1980 and George Harrison died of cancer in 2001, while Ringo still tours strong at the age of 82.
The Rolling Stones: Always showing off a hard edge, the Stones kept the blues alive and well in their early days. Pushed by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, Jagger and Richards started writing their own compositions and quickly learned how to make a tune that was rough around the edges without succumbing to cheap shock-value. The Beatles were masters of gorgeous love songs, but the Stones were the masters of fury and blue collar disgust. “Satisfaction,” “The Last Time,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” and “Play With Fire” all show these boys, some of the top musicians of their day, in gleeful rage. Today the Stones are considered the world’s best rock and roll band, as they still fill up stadium venues in 2022, even though drummer Charly Watts is no longer with us. He passed away at age 80 in 2022.
The Kinks: Before singer/songwriter Ray Davies started reflecting on the beauty and futility of English culture, The Kinks were pioneers of hard rock. “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night” was the testament of four wild men.However, it wasn’t long before they began letting Indian influences into their songs, as in “See My Friends.” Their best Invasion period tracks, “A Well-Respected Man,” and “Lola” showed off Ray’s wit, an attack on the upper classes and a preview of the satirical nature of their future songs.
The Who: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle were only in the British Invasion era for its last year (1965), but they stuck out immediately. One didn’t need to see them live to feel their energy. “My Generation” and “I Can’t Explain”, “Substitute”, created the dawn of a new direction in rock (even if The Kinks probably deserve more credit for the sound than they received). “The Kids Are Alright” was clearly influenced by The Beatles, but included that energy that was purely that of The Who. Few bands, to this day, put such vigor into their work. Everyone was pulling their weight. The band’s talent was clear progressive as they managed to change their musical directions when they introduced the rock operas Quadrophenia and Tommy in the late 1960s.
The Zombies: Led by Rod Argent’s glorious keyboard and Colin Blunstone’s pristine vocals, the Zombies still seem an oddity in the British Invasion canon. There weren’t really any other bands that based their songs off of keyboard riffs. “Tell Her No” and “Is This The Dream?” showed off a Motown vibe by a band that was all about capturing a cool atmosphere. Sadly, they were quickly forgotten after the height of the Invasion even though they recorded two lasting evergreens with “She’s Not There” and the incredible “Time of the Season”. When they parted ways Blunstone and Argent found successful careers.
The Yardbirds: Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton were leading this group, one that gave garage rock a perfect start, before they became household names. Working off of the Chicago blues, as the Stones loved, the Yardbirds combined it with a raucous, experimental feel, much because of the prowess and talent of the lead guitar players and the harmonica talent of singer Keith Relf. “Heart Full of Soul,” “Shapes of Things,” and particularly “For Your Love” stood out because they had a raw intensity that no one else was really trying at the time. Relf later founded the prog rock band Renaissance with his sister Jane.
The Animals: Eric Burdon has one of the most soulful voices of all-time and it was the glue that kept the Animals together. They were also one of the most socially conscious acts across the pond. Whether it was their take on “House of the Rising Sun,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” or “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” The Animals spoke for the working class with no apologies. “House of the Rising Sun” became the starter song for every kid wanting to learn to play the guitar, simply because of Hilton Valentine’s repetitive chord progression. Alan Price on keyboards founded the Alan Price Set after the Animals broke up.
Herman’s Hermits: Another band that prided themselves in light pop songs, Peter Noone led Herman’s Hermits. “I’m Henry The Eighth,” “There’s A Kind of Hush,” and “I’m Into Something Good” have staying power because they don’t take themselves too seriously. The hit song “No Milk Today” is a prime example of this. The arrangements are lovely, but their best track is the stripped down “Listen People,” based on a descending chord progression, that is utterly beautiful.
The Hollies: Before Graham Nash teamed with David Crosby and Stephen Stills to form the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash, he took part in a group that became big on covers and light pop songs. The result was one of the most accessible bands of their time. Being able to churn out hits like “Bus Stop”, “I’m Alive” and “Look Out Any Window,” the Hollies would hit their peak just at the end of what is referred to as the British Invasion, but still earned their names among the greats. Other great songs that came from Graham Nash’s pen were: “Carrie Ann”, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother”, and his parting gift to the Hollies “On a Carousel”.
Dave Clark 5: “Glad All Over,” “Bits and Pieces”,“Because,” and “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” are among the best songs of their time because they showed off an ease. Some of the best songs are based on sadness and anger, but there is something appealing about the Dave Clark 5’s ability to create breezy tunes that didn’t carry much weight. They were the second group of the British Invasion to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in the United States (for two weeks in March 1964 following the Beatles’ three weeks the previous month). They would ultimately have 18 appearances on the show. The DC5 were one of the most commercially successful acts of the British Invasion, releasing seventeen top 40 hits in the US between 1964 and 1967.
Manfred Mann: Supported by the sound of double keyboards, Manfred Mann was primarily a blues/jazz based often changing line up of great London musicians that turned into a pop-r&b monster for a few years. They also became the first southern-England-based group to top the US Billboard Hot 100 during the British Invasion with a cover of the Exciter’s “Doo Wah Diddy Diddy”. The track reached the top of the UK, Canadian, and US charts. With the success of “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” the sound of the group’s singles moved away from the jazzy, blues-based music of their early years to a pop hybrid that continued to make hit singles from cover material. They hit No. 3 in the UK with another girl-group cover, “Sha La La” (originally by the Shirelles), which also reached No. 12 in the US and Canada, and followed it with the sentimental “Come Tomorrow” (originally by Marie Knight). Another hit during the British Invasion period was “Pretty Flamingo”. After singer Paul Jones left in 1966 to go back to the blues, he was replaced by Mike d’Abo who managed to take the band to another height in 1968 with the Dylan-penned “Mighty Quin”. The band called it quits in 1969.
The British Invasion years into the US Music scene started the essence of what happened to Rock and Roll in the decades that followed. The essence of the invasion was that British bands took most American blues and R&B sounds and songs and gave them their own innovations, rhythm changes and instrument adjustments.
William Daniel McCafferty (14 October 1946 – 8 November 2022) was born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland where he attended St Margaret’s school. He had no formal musical training, but in 1965 he joined the Shadettes, who dressed in matching yellow suits and played cover versions of Top 30 pop hits in local venues such as the Belleville Hotel and Kinema Ballroom. Every week the band had to add three new songs from the charts to their repertoire, learning them on Sunday afternoon to perform that night.
The Shadettes had been in existence since 1961, and when McCafferty joined, its members included bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet. In 1968 Manny Charlton, who passed away earlier in May of this year (2022), joined as lead guitarist, and in December that year the foursome changed their name to Nazareth, inspired by the Band’s song The Weight and its line about pulling into Nazareth “feelin’ ’bout half past dead”. The reference was to the Pennsylvania town, rather than any Biblical connotation.
Jerry Lee Lewis was born on Sept. 29, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana, to Elmo Lewis, a carpenter, and Mamie (Herron) Lewis. When he was a boy, he and two of his cousins, the future evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and the future country singer Mickey Gilley (who died this year), liked to sneak into a local dance hall, Haney’s Big House, to hear top blues acts perform.
He showed an aptitude for the piano, and his father borrowed money to buy him one. “The more he practiced, the surer the left hand and wilder the right hand became,” Mr. Tosches wrote in “Hellfire.”
At 14, he was invited to sit in with a band performing at a local Ford dealership, which was celebrating the arrival of the 1950 models. He played “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” — the tune, a hit for Sticks McGhee in 1949, would be a minor pop hit for Mr. Lewis in 1973 — and he took home nearly $15 when someone passed the hat.
He soon became a regular at clubs in Natchez, just across the Mississippi River, and on the radio station KWKH in Shreveport, La. His deeply worried mother, a Pentecostal Christian, enrolled him in the Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas.
Judith Durham, born Judith Mavis Cock in Melbourne, Australia (3 July 1943 – 5 August 2022) would for most rock and roll aficionados not belong on a tribute website for rock heroes. But when I learned of her passing last week, I realized that many of her early songs with the Seekers played an important part in my early rock and roll involvement – from learning to play guitar to appreciation for soft melodic rock during the early years of my teenage awareness. Also, Judith had a voice that mastered and actually stood out in almost every category of 60’s modern music. She could sweet voice you into folksy romance, belt it out in jazz rock, make you inconspicuously suffer the blues or lead the pack in a pop song. She could even sing the classics.
Early in life Judith believed her future would be as a pianist. She went on to gain her Associate In Music, Australia (A.Mus.A.) in classical piano as a student of world-renowned concert pianist Professor Ronald Farren-Price at the Melbourne University Conservatorium, with her first professional engagement in the arts playing piano for a ballet school.
Still in her teens, although excelling on piano, little Judy Cock dreamed of fame singing opera or musical comedy and in 1961, aged 18, she was ready to begin classical vocal training. One night, just for fun, she ‘sat in’ with a trad jazz band at a local dance called “Memphis”, and found instant success performing blues, gospels, and jazz standards of the 1920s and 1930s, also developing as a serious ragtime pianist. She began using her mother’s maiden name, and at 19 she made her first record, an EP for W&G “Judy Durham” with Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers.
Meanwhile, by day since leaving school, Judy’s first job was as Secretary to the Pathologist at the Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital, but on taking a new secretarial job at J Walter Thompson Advertising, on her first day she met account executive Athol Guy. Athol played acoustic bass and also sang bass in a trio called The Seekers and invited her that very night to come and join him and the two guitarists Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley, to sing acoustic four-part harmony folk and gospel at a Melbourne coffee lounge “Treble Clef”. Still singing regularly with various jazz bands nearly every other night, she then became a regular every Monday with The Seekers. Adopting her birth name Judith, she recorded an album with The Seekers for W&G, appeared on local TV, then set sail for London in 1964 on “SS Fairsky” for a 10-week stay, singing for their supper on board.
On the advice of Australian entertainer Horrie Dargie, the group sent the album and TV footage ahead to a big theatrical agency, The Grade Organisation, and on their arrival in ‘swinging London’, agent Eddie Jarrett booked them extensively in clubs, TV, and variety theatre. He asked Tom Springfield (Dusty’s brother) to write and produce a single, resulting in the surprise chart-topper “I’ll Never Find Another You” which made The Seekers the first Australian group ever to hit No.1 internationally, made Judith Australia’s very first international pop princess and pin-up girl, and unexpectedly cemented her in the group as a full-time Seeker.
The next few years brought The Seekers worldwide adulation, with tours, more albums, and a succession of huge and lasting hits including “A World Of Our Own”, “The Carnival Is Over” and “Morningtown Ride”, which rivalled all the top groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the No.1 spot. The Seekers’ biggest international seller was “Georgy Girl”, originally written (music by Tom Springfield, words by Jim Dale) and recorded as the title song for the movie starring Lynn Redgrave, James Mason, Charlotte Rampling and Alan Bates. The song was nominated for an Academy Award® and the single made history when the group became the first Australians ever to reach the No.1 spot in the USA.
In 1967, The Seekers set an official all-time record when more than 200,000 people (nearly one tenth of the city’s entire population at that time!) flocked to their performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. Their TV special ‘The Seekers Down Under’ scored the biggest TV audience ever (with a 67 rating), and early in 1968 they were all awarded the nation’s top honour as “Australians Of The Year 1967”.
But 24 year old Judith wanted to spread her wings, and without any notion of the lasting universal grief to be suffered by shocked Seekers fans worldwide, she plucked up courage to give ‘the boys’ six months’ notice. She was to leave the group in July 1968 to return to Australia … possibly to pursue a career as a solo singer in opera or musical theater … and she hoped to find ‘Mr. Right’.
The surprise for Judith was to receive offers as a solo artist, so she asked a London-based freelance musician, Ron Edgeworth, to be her musical director, pianist and arranger and a couple of years later her Mr. Right. In big demand as a London-based freelance musician, Ron had worked with all the big names, and had earlier toured and recorded with the legendary Alexis Korner’s All Stars.
From there on Judith started her solo career, with an occasional Seekers reunion over the years, and also focused on composing and writing music. Her one-woman shows stunned audiences and critics with her unique gift for singing in all styles – from folk to country, jazz to pop, blues to gospel, original songs, ragtime piano and even classical.
An indelible mark was made with Judith’s transition into her now classic mid-70s trad jazz recordings with bands she formed with Ron in San Francisco and London. “The Hottest Band In Town Collection” is now available though Universal. They also released a legendary album of their piano and voice performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1978 (“The Hot Jazz Duo”).
Through the 80s Judith Durham and Ron Edgeworth based themselves on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and for the first time Judith concentrated totally on writing and performing her own compositions, even completing a full scale musical “Gotta Be Rainbows” with book written by eminent playwright Ian Austin. Having experienced her very first songwriting success in 1967 with co-writer David Reilly on The Seekers classic “Colours Of My Life”, by the 80s Judith had developed through the decades as a remarkably talented and prolific composer of both lyrics and music, writing more than 300 works.
After the untimely passing of her husband in 1994, 51 year old Judith, went back into recording albums and touring. In 1996 Judith again toured the UK as a solo artist with the release of “Mona Lisas” (later repackaged as “Always There” in Australia), her Abbey Road album of legendary 60s and 70s covers produced by the late Gus Dudgeon.
To welcome in the new millennium with delighted Seekers fans around the world, she embarked on The Seekers ‘Carnival Of Hits Tour 2000’, and in 2001 Judith celebrated her own remarkable life-long musical journey in her “40th Anniversary” Australian concert tour.
In the same year, as an unexpected treat for loyal Seekers fans, Judith recorded with ‘the boys’ the album “Morningtown Ride To Christmas”, and late in 2002 a double album “Night Of Nights … Live!” was released after The Seekers’ Australian tour, in conjunction with The Seekers’ Australia Post Souvenir Stamp Sheet commemorating 40 years of musical magic from Australia’s first-ever international pop icons.
2003 was one of Judith’s busiest and most artistically satisfying years ever. In March she toured Australia with ‘the boys’ on The Seekers` `Never Say Never Again! Tour` which was received joyfully by fans all over the country – and with barely a month to get ready, she flew to the UK for her massive solo tour. Highlight after highlight followed, leading up to the Magic Date of December 3, 2013, the 50th Birthday of the Seekers.
Judith was thrilled to embark on a whole year of celebration – marking half a century of Seekers music. Judith found herself back in the studio with the group recording and filming two standout tracks for ‘The Golden Jubilee Album: 50 Tracks For 50 Years’. “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” and the visual feast of “In My Life” were destined to be standout moments in ‘The Golden Jubilee Tour’, when The Seekers hit the road in May/June 2013.
Following the media frenzy of their 50th Birthday Party in Melbourne came yet another accolade for The Seekers – the presentation of a 24-carat gold ‘stamp’ by Australia Post as part of their ‘Legends of Australian Music’ series – and the official handover of the portrait of the group to the National Portrait Gallery, painted by Helen Edwards, “The Seekers Reunite 50 Years On”.
The group announced and then sold-out a ‘Golden Jubilee Tour’ of Australia, which was abruptly halted when Judith suffered a brain hemorrhage after the first of four sold-out nights in Melbourne. Six months of hospitalisation and rehabilitation followed – during which time Judith’s commemorative ‘Platinum Album’ was released to mark her 70th birthday – before she was given the green light for the Australian tour to resume. Another sold-out tour of New Zealand followed, before The Seekers toured the United Kingdom, performing 18 sold-out show culminating in two packed houses at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Just prior to the return to Australia, The Seekers were advised that they had individually been awarded the Order of Australia (AO) – one of the highest honours that can be bestowed on Australian citizens. Judith would add yet another honour to her tally by being named Victorian of the Year 2015 the following year.
Also, in 2015, Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical opened to packed house in Melbourne, before moving on to successful seasons in Sydney and Perth. Among the production’s many musical numbers were Judith’s “Mama’s Got the Blues” and “I Remember”, and “Colours of my Life”, which she co-wrote with David Reilly.
Judith undertook a solo ‘farewell’ tour of New Zealand, playing 18 sold-out concerts as her Colours of my Life compilation CD soared to No. 2 on the charts there.
And in 2018, Ambition Entertainment packaged The Seekers’ three record-breaking 60s TV spectacular into one magnificent collector’s edition set, The Seekers: The Legendary Television Specials. Proving again that the music of The Seekers is timeless and much loved, the DVD set reached No. 1 on the ARIA chart!
Another highlight of 2018 is the release of Judith’s first solo studio album in six years. Timed to mark Judith’s 75th birthday, So Much More is a collection of beautiful songs that Judith Durham has composed with some immensely talented writers and musicians from around the world – all lovingly crafted, and superbly sung.
These never-before-released tracks tell of hope and courage, pain and loss, all-consuming devotion, uplifting spirituality, friendship, and a profound love of Australia and its indigenous heritage.
Durham was born with asthma and at age four she caught measles, which left her with a life-long chronic lung disease, bronchiectasis. Durham died from bronchiectasis on 5 August 2022, at age 79. She definitely avoided the “Rock and Roll lifestyle” during her life, without smoking, little to no alcohol, a vegetarian since 1968 and a vegan in later life.
17 May 2022 – Vangelis (Greek film composer and keyboards-synthesizer for Aphrodite’s Child). Vangelis was born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou on March 29, 1943 in the Greek town of Agria. He was a self-taught musician who became a young piano prodigy. Then he moved to Paris and co-founded with Demis Roussos, the popular prog-rock group Aphrodite’s Child. After several global mega hits the band eventually split and Vangelis got a solo record deal with RCA Records, while still collaborating often with Roussos.
In 1981 he composed the score for Chariots of Fire. Its opening theme, with its uplifting inspirational swell and ornate arrangement, was released as a single and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. His efforts earned him a win for best original score at the Academy Awards.
The success led him to other film work. Notably, he composed the soundtrack for the original Blade Runner, as well as Carl Sagan’s PBS documentary series Cosmos. Outside of composing scores, Vangelis was prolific in his solo career, regularly releasing albums up until 2021’s Juno to Jupiter.
While he was most associated with the synthesizer, the instrument was also a source of frustration for him. “I’ve been using synthesizers for so many years, but they’ve never been designed properly. They create a lot of problems.” he told NPR in 2016. “The computers have completely different logic than the human logic.” So for his 2016 record Rosetta, dedicated to the space probe of the same name, he built his own synthesizer.
Vangelis had a lifelong interest in space which was reflected in his music — in its breadth and atmosphere. He believed that there was something inherent in humans to want to discover — whether that meant up in the sky or in a studio. For Vangelis, becoming a musician was never a conscious decision. “It’s very difficult not to make music,” Vangelis told NPR in 1977. “It’s as natural as I eat, as I make love. Music is the same.”
Vangelis, who gave the movie Chariots of Fire its signature synth-driven sound, died on the May 17, 2022 in a hospital in Paris, due to heart failure.. He was 79 years old.
Born in Huntsville, Arkansas on January 10, 1935 Ronnie Hawkins made quite the career for himself in Canada (where he became a permanent resident in 1964). A road warrior, he made his rounds across North America and launched the careers of many musicians, including the Band (who backed him as the Hawks from 1961 to 1964), Roy Buchanan, Pat Travers and others.
Musicianship ran in Hawkins’s family; Hawkins’s father, uncles, and cousins had toured the honky-tonk circuit in Arkansas and Oklahoma in the 1930s and 1940s. His uncle Delmar “Skipper” Hawkins, a road musician, had moved to California about 1940 and joined cowboy singing star Roy Rogers’s band, the Sons of the Pioneers. Hawkins’s cousin Delmar Allen “Dale” Hawkins, the earliest white performer to sing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Regal Theater in Chicago, recorded the rhythm and blues song “Suzie Q” in 1957. Beginning at age eleven, Ronnie Hawkins sang at local fairs and before he was a teenager shared a stage with Hank Williams. He recalled that Williams was too drunk to perform, and his band, the Drifting Cowboys invited members of the audience to get on the stage and sing. Hawkins accepted the invitation and sang some Burl Ives songs he knew.
As a teenager Hawkins ran bootleg liquor from Missouri to the dry counties of Oklahoma in his modified Model A Ford, sometimes making three hundred dollars a day. He claimed in later years that he continued the activity until he was nineteen or twenty, and that it was how he made the money to buy into nightclubs. He had already formed his first band, the Hawks, when he graduated from high school in 1952, following which he studied physical education at the University of Arkansas, where in 1956 he dropped out just a few credits short of graduation.
Hawkins then enlisted in the United States Army, but he was required to serve only six months, having already completed ROTC training. Soon after his arrival at Fort Sill in Oklahoma for Army Basic Combat Training, he was having a drink at the Amvets club when an African American quartet began to play their music. Hearing the first notes so stirred him that he jumped onto the stage and started singing. “It sounded like something between the blues and rockabilly… me being a hayseed and those guys playing a lot funkier.” The experience caused Hawkins to realize what kind of music he really wanted to play, and he joined the four black musicians, who renamed themselves the Blackhawks.
The group had been performing a sort of jazz/blues something like Cab Calloway’s music of the 1940s, and Hawkins sought to introduce contemporary influences to their repertoire. With another new member, blues saxophonist A.C. Reed, they created some of the South’s most dynamic music sounds. “Instead of doing a kind of rockabilly that was closer to country music, I was doing rockabilly that was closer to soul music, which was exactly what I liked.” The band encountered prejudice, as many white people in the American South of the 1950s could not accept an integrated band and considered rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues the devil’s music.
The Blackhawks disbanded when his enlistment ended. Hawkins went back to Fayetteville, and two days later he got a call from Sun Records, who wanted him to front the house session band. By the time he got to Memphis, though, the group had already broken up. Nevertheless, he took advantage of the opportunity to cut two demos, Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and Hank Williams’s “A Mansion on the Hill”, but the recordings attracted no attention. The demo session guitarist, Jimmy Ray “Luke” Paulman, suggested that Hawkins join him at his home in Helena, Arkansas, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta region, a hotbed of blues, rhythm and blues, and country music, an offer which he eagerly accepted.
Immediately upon arriving in Helena, Hawkins and Paulman found Paulman’s brother George (standup bass) and their cousin Willard “Pop” Jones (piano) and formed a band they named The Hawks. Drummer Levon Helm, who had grown up in nearby Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, first played with the group at the Delta Supper Club in early 1957 when George Paulman invited him to sit in with them for their closing set. Helm reminisced years later how Hawkins, accompanied by Luke Paulman, drove his Model A out to the Helm’s cotton farm, arriving in a cloud of dust to talk to Helm’s parents. Helm remembered him as “a big ol’ boy in tight pants, sharp shoes and a pompadour hanging down his forehead.” Helm listened to Hawkins negotiate an agreement with his parents, who insisted that he graduate high school before he could join the Hawks and go to Canada. Helm practiced diligently on a makeshift drum kit to improve his skills, and when he graduated in May, he was good enough to play drum in the band.
Hawkins’s live act included back flips and a “camel walk” that preceded Michael Jackson’s similar moonwalk by three decades. His stage persona gained him the monikers “Rompin’ Ronnie” and “Mr. Dynamo”. Hawkins also owned and operated the Rockwood Club in Fayetteville, where some of rock and roll’s earliest pioneers came to play, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty.
With Helm’s graduation from high school, he joined The Hawks and they went to Canada, where the group met success. On April 13, 1959, they auditioned for Morris Levy, owner of Roulette Records in New York. Only four hours later, they entered the studio and recorded their first record tracks. Their first single, “Forty Days”, was a barely disguised knockoff of Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days” with the song “Mary Lou” by Young Jessie on the B-side; it reached number 26 on the US pop charts, becoming Hawkins’s biggest hit.
After spending nearly three months in Canada, the band returned to the South, with their base in Hawkin’s home town of Fayetteville. The band’s gigs in the southern states were mostly one-nighters or short run performances in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Helm loved to drive, and would drive the band two or three hundred miles to the next show in Hawkin’s old Chevy, which Hawkins eventually replaced with a Cadillac towing a trailer containing their equipment.
Hawkins and the group had begun touring Canada in 1958 as the Ron Hawkins Quartet on the recommendation of Conway Twitty, who told him Canadian audiences wanted to hear rockabilly. Their bassist George Paulman was abusing liquor and pills, so Hawkins left him behind, and they played without a bass on their first tour of Ontario. Their first gig was at the Golden Rail Tavern in Hamilton, Ontario, where, according to booking agent Harold Kudlets, all the bartenders quit when they heard the band’s sound and saw Hawkins’s stunts on stage. In 1959 he performed a number of live shows in the country and signed a five-year contract with Roulette Records. Working out of Toronto, Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks cut the LP Ronnie Hawkins in 1959, and with Fred Carter, Jr. taking Jimmy Ray “Luke” Paulman’s place on lead guitar, they cut another LP, Mr. Dynamo, the next year, both of them recorded on the Roulette label.
He subsequently moved to Canada and in 1964 became a permanent resident. In 2017, he moved from Stoney Lake Manor in Douro-Dummer, where he had resided since 1970, to Peterborough, Ontario. Hawkins was an institution of the Ontario music scene for over 40 years. When he first came to Ontario he played gigs at places like the Grange Tavern in Hamilton, where Conway Twitty got his start, and made it his home base. In Toronto, where the Hawks dominated the local scene, Hawkins opened his own night club, the Hawk’s Nest, on the second floor of the Coq d’or Tavern on Yonge street, playing there for months at a time.
After the move to Canada, The Hawks, with the exception of Hawkins and drummer Levon Helm, dropped out of the band. Their vacancies were filled by Southwest Ontarians Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. Young David Clayton-Thomas, a Canadian and future lead vocalist of the American group Blood, Sweat, and Tears, said he heard the Hawks when he got out of prison in 1962: “We young musicians would sit there by the bar at the Le Coq d’Or and just hang on every note.” This version of the Hawks, wearing mohair suits and razor-cut hair, were the top group among those who played the Le Coq d’Or, a rowdy establishment at the center of the action on the Yonge Street strip in Toronto. They were able to stay out of most of the bar fights that broke out there almost every night.
Along with Helm, they all left Hawkins in 1964 to form a group which came to be named The Band. They went to work for Bob Dylan in 1965, touring with him for a year, and were his backup band on The Basement Tapes. Hawkins continued to perform and record, and did a few tours in Europe.
In December 1969, Hawkins hosted John Lennon and Yoko Ono for a stay at his home in Mississauga, Ontario, during the couple’s campaign to promote world peace. Lennon signed his erotic “Bag One” lithographs during his stay there. Lennon also did a radio promo for a Hawkins single, a version of The Clovers song,”Down in the Alley”. When their visit ended, Lennon and Ono, with Hawkins and his wife Wanda as part of their entourage, took the CNR Rapido train to Montreal, where they engaged in their Bed-in for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Hawkins later rode with them on a train to Ottawa to see then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Lennon also enlisted Hawkins as a peace ambassador, and Hawkins traveled to the border of China and Hong Kong with journalist Ritchie Yorke bearing an anti-war message.
In the early 1970s, Hawkins noticed guitarist Pat Travers performing in Ontario nightclubs and was so impressed by the young musician that he invited him to play in his band. Travers joined the group, but balked when Hawkins told him he wanted him to play “old ’50s and ’60s rockabilly tunes”. Years later, Travers told an interviewer, “… he wanted me to play them exactly the same, same sound, same picking, same everything. For a 19-, 20-year-old kid, that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. But he said, ‘You can do this, son, and you’ll be better than a hundred guitar players, because this is where it all comes from. You need to know this stuff. It’s like fundamental.’ And he was right”. Travers later had a successful recording career and became an influential guitarist in the 1970s hard rock genre.
In 1975, Bob Dylan cast Hawkins to play the role of “Bob Dylan” in the movie, Renaldo and Clara. The following year, he was a featured performer at the Band’s Thanksgiving Day farewell concert at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, which was documented in the 1978 film The Last Waltz. Robbie Robertson said of it in 2020, “If there was anything wrong that night, it was that the cocaine wasn’t very good.” Hawkins sampled some of the powder and told the other performers that there was so much flour and sugar in it that they would be “sneezing biscuits” for three months afterward. Hawkin’s 1984 LP, Making It Again, garnered him a Juno Award as Canada’s best Country Male Vocalist. In addition to his career as a musician, he become an accomplished actor, hosting his own television show Honky Tonk in the early 1980s and appearing in such films as Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate alongside his friend Kris Kristofferson, and in the action/adventure film Snake Eater. His version of the song “Mary Lou” was used in the 1989 slasher film, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II.
On January 10, 1995, Hawkins celebrated his 60th birthday by sponsoring a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto, which was documented on the album Let It Rock. The concert featured performances by Hawkins, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Band and Larry Gowan. Canadian musician Jeff Healey sat in on guitar as well. Hawkins’s band, the Hawks, or permutations of it, backed the performers. All of the musicians performing that night were collectively dubbed “the Rock ‘n’ Roll Orchestra”.
In 2003, Hawkins was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and went into remission, which he attributed to everything from psychic healers to native herbal medicine. His remarkable remission was featured in the 2012 film Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive and Kicking.
Hawkins died in the early morning of May 29, 2022, at the age of 87, after the cancer returned. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Wanda, their two sons, Ronnie Hawkins Jr. and country singer Robin Hawkins, who had served as his guitarist since the 1980s, and daughter Leah Hawkins, an aspiring songwriter who had been his backup singer.
A man with an extraordinary sense of humor, he is considered highly influential in the establishment and evolution of rock music in Canada. Also known as “Rompin’ Ronnie”, “Mr. Dynamo” or “The Hawk”, he was one of the key players in the 1960s rock scene in Toronto. He performed all across North America and recorded more than 25 albums. His hit songs include covers of Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days” (retitled “Forty Days”) and Young Jessie’s “Mary Lou”, a song about a gold digger. Other well-known recordings are a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” (without the question mark), “Hey! Bo Diddley”, and “Susie Q”, which was written by his cousin, rockabilly artist Dale Hawkins. Hawkins was a talent scout and mentor of the musicians he recruited for his band, The Hawks. Roy Buchanan was an early Hawks guitarist on the song “Who Do You Love”. The most successful of his students were those who left to form The Band. Robbie Lane and the Disciples made their name opening for Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks at the Yonge Street bars in Toronto and eventually became his backing band. Others he had recruited later formed Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, Crowbar, Bearfoot, and Skylark. Hawkins was still playing 150 engagements a year in his 60s.
February 19, 2022 – Gary Brooker founding lead singer of the late 1960’s musical sensation Procol Harum was born on May 29, 1945, in London’s Metropolitan Borough of Hackney. His father was a professional musician and Gary followed in his footsteps learning to play piano, cornet and trombone as a child. But his most awesome instrument over the years became his voice.
After high school, he went on to Southend Municipal College to study zoology and botany but dropped out to become a professional musician.In 1962 he founded the Paramounts with his guitarist friend Robin Trower. The band gained respect within the burgeoning 1960s British R&B scene, which yielded the Beatles, the Animals, the Spencer Davis Group, the Rolling Stones, and many others. The Rolling Stones, in particular, were Paramounts fans, giving them guest billing on several shows in the early 1960s.
The group found little success with their studio recordings outside of a 1964 cover of “Poison Ivy” that became a minor hit in England. The Paramounts split in 1966, and while Brooker originally planned to retire from performing to work as a songwriter, he met lyricist Keith Reid and forged such a tight working relationship that the pair started a new group: Procol Harum. Guided by an immense musicality of Brooker, Fisher, Trower and Reid their worldhit “A Whiter Shade of Pale” became one of the anthems of 1967’s Summer of Love. “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” was inspired by Brooker’s love of classical musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.
“About that time, the Jacques Louissier Trio — which had a pianist, bass player and drummer — made an album called Play Bach,” Brooker told Songwriter Universe in 2020. “They were a jazz trio, and they’d start off with a piece of Bach, and they would improvise around it. Louissier had done a fabulous version of what was called ‘Air On a G String’ which was also used in a set of good adverts in Britain. And all those things came together one morning [on ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’] … a bit of Bach and ‘Air On a G String’ going through my head.”
Once he added in Reid’s lyrics, Brooker had a masterpiece on his hands that would reach Number One all over the world and turn Procol Harum in a major band almost overnight. Although the band never managed to land another hit of that magnitude, they maintained a large cult audience and worked steadily throughout the Sixties and Seventies, scoring occasional hits like “Conquistador” and “A Salty Dog.” In 1972, they cut the live album Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra that helped bring the band back into the public eye.
While Procol Harum was often referred to as a progressive rock band, Brooker never felt comfortable with that label. “I’ve always rejected the idea of labeling groups or types of music,” he told Vintage Rock in 2019. “I don’t think Procol has ever fit into a particular pigeonhole, as we call them here, you know, in the filing cabinet. You don’t really know what to put them under. They come under ‘P’ — ‘Progressive?’ ‘Psychedelic?’ — and I say, ‘They come under ‘P’ and ‘P’ is for ‘Procol’.”
A Whiter Shade of Pale was issued as their debut record on 12 May 1967. and became one of the most commercially successful singles in history, having sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. In the years since, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” has become an enduring classic, with more than 1000 known cover versions by other artists, none of them ever matching Brooker’s version. With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics, the music of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was composed by Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher, while the lyrics were written by Keith Reid.
Brooker’s melancholic vocals and emotive, eclectic piano playing were a key part of Procol’s musical mix for the entire course of the band’s career. In the early years Brooker, Hammond organist Matthew Fisher and Trower were the guiding musical forces behind the band, but after disparities in style became too much and Fisher and Trower left, Brooker was the clear leader until the band broke up in 1977. Brooker started a solo career and released the album No More Fear of Flying in 1979.
Gifted with a voice that stood out in a massive crowd, it is interesting to realize that Gary Brooker became essential a journeyman, who occasionally came “home” to his roots. After Procol Harum broke up, Brooker first launched his solo career but then began touring and recording with his longtime buddy Eric Clapton. His work can be heard on Clapton’s 1981 LP Another Ticket. Clapton fired the entire band in 1981, but he and Brooker remained good friends afterwards, and were for many years neighbours in the Surrey Hills. Brooker joined Clapton for several one-off benefit gigs over the years. Brooker sang lead vocal on the Alan Parsons Project song “Limelight”, on their 1985 album, Stereotomy. Brooker sang the lead vocal of the song “No News from the Western Frontier”, a single taken from the album Hi-Tec Heroes by the Dutch performer Ad Visser.
A new version of Procol Harum was assembled in 1991 that recorded and toured up until 2019, though they took a pause in 1997 and 1999 so Brooker could tour with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. He also toured as a member of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings on three of their albums.
On 28 September 1996, as the Gary Brooker Ensemble, he organized a charity concert to raise funds for his local church, St Mary and All Saints, in Surrey. The resulting live CD of the concert, Within Our House, originally released on a fan club CD in a limited run of 1000 units, later became a collectable recording. His guests and supporting artists included Dave Bronze, Michael Bywater, Mark Brzezicki and Robbie McIntosh.
Also in 1996, Brooker appeared in the Alan Parker film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Evita starring Madonna, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas. Playing the part of Juan Atilio Bramuglia, he sang the song “Rainbow Tour” with Peter Polycarpou and Antonio Banderas. Brooker said that his greatest single earning in his career was from his appearance in the film.
On 29 November 2002, he was among musicians and singers participating in the George Harrison tribute concert, Concert for George, at which he sang lead vocals on their version of “Old Brown Shoe”. Brooker contributed to Harrison’s albums All Things Must Pass, Somewhere in England and Gone Troppo.
In April 2005, as the Gary Brooker Ensemble, he played a sell-out charity concert at Guildford Cathedral in aid of the tsunami appeal, playing a mixture of Procol Harum and solo songs and arrangements of classical and spiritual songs. His guests and supporting artists included Andy Fairweather Low and Paul Jones (ex-Manfred Mann).
A new incarnation of Procol Harum, led by Brooker, continued touring the world, celebrating its 40th anniversary in July 2007 with two days of musical revels at St John’s, Smith Square in London.
On 28 October 2009, Brooker was presented with a BASCA in recognition of his unique contribution to music.
In May 2012, Procol Harum were forced to cancel the remainder of their dates in South Africa after Brooker fractured his skull following a fall in his hotel room in Cape Town. The fall came on Brooker’s 67th birthday. The band was part of the British Invasion Tour of South Africa along with the Moody Blues and 10cc. However, they continued touring until 2019, playing their final gig in Switzerland.
Shine on brightly, Gary, you made us quite insane, AND WE LOVED IT! RIP February 19, 2022
December 30, 1942 – Robert Michael Nesmith was the only child of Warren and Bette Nesmith, who divorced when he was four. Bette remarried and relocated to Dallas where, as executive secretary at Texas Bank and Trust, she developed her own typewriter correction fluid. In 1979, a few months before her death, she sold her Liquid Paper Corporation to Gillette for $48m. Her son and heir finally acquired financial freedom. Rewind 20 years to find a teenage Nesmith dabbling in music and drama at school before enlisting in the US Air Force in 1960. Two years later he was honorably discharged at his own request, swapping mechanics for music. Cutting his teeth in touring folk, country and rock’n’roll bands, he moved to Los Angeles.
A publishing and recording deal followed, yielding a handful of underperforming solo singles. Nesmith joined the queue of 437 hopefuls to audition for a part in a new TV show, inspired by The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, about a co-habiting pop band. The producers wanted Nesmith and his hat for their Prefab Four, The Monkees.
Monkeemania ensued but Nesmith was quick to push back against the bubblegum material selected by the show’s musical director Don Kirshner. Nesmith negotiated alongside his bandmates for greater control of their output and image. Their subsequent psychedelic film and soundtrack, Head, was a flop (though later lauded as a cult favourite). Still the piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit, he bought his way out of his contract several years early, forfeiting future royalties.
Robert Michael Nesmith was raised by his mother, Bette, who supported him by working as a secretary. Frustrated creating mistakes on her electric typewriter, she developed a typewriter correction fluid. The invention later became Liquid Paper. Bette Nesmith sold the Liquid Paper Corporation to Gillette in 1979 for $48 million. She died a few months later, at age 56, with Michael inheriting the fortune.
Mike Nesmith, the beanie-hatted quiet man of The Monkees, was an accidental trailblazer from a family of accidental trailblazers. He came late to music-making, only picking up a guitar in his early twenties. Yet in a matter of years he was a (somewhat ambivalent) pop star and TV celebrity, then an unsung country rock pioneer and then the man who invented MTV for the guys who invented MTV. Not bad, and maybe not surprising, for the son of an imprecise typist who created Tipp-Ex to cover her errors. Nesmith never quite made a commercial killing from his almost clairvoyant creativity. While his own songs were hits for the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Run DMC, Frankie Laine and Lynn Anderson, he struggled with fame in a fictional band whose best-loved tunes flowed from the pens of other writers. The Monkees’ TV show ran for two series from 1966-68 but acquired pop immortality through school holiday repeats. The band members – Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Nesmith – played fictionalised versions of themselves. The Monkees struck popular music with hit songs like “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Daydream Believer” and “I’m A Believer.” The group was created for television, starring in their popular TV sitcom and later spin off motion picture “Head.” The Monkees broke up in 1969, after which Nesmith formed his First National Band. He also wrote the song Different Drum, which became a major hit for singer Linda Ronstadt.
Nesmith founded Pacific Arts, a multimedia production and distribution company, in 1974. Pacific Arts pioneered the home video market, but collapsed in a dispute with PBS over licensing rights. A federal jury eventually awarded Nesmith $47m in 1999. After filming a music video for his 1977 single Rio, Nesmith came up with the idea of a TV program consisting entirely of music videos. Nesmith called his idea PopClips, which aired on Nickelodeon in 1980. He later sold the PopClips intellectual property to Time Warner, who used it to develop and launch MTV. Intrigued by the promotional possibilities of the embryonic format, Time Warner bought the rights and used it as a template for MTV.
In 1981, Nesmith won the first Grammy Award for Video of the Year for his hour-long television show, Elephant Parts. He was also an executive producer of the film Repo Man (1984).
Nesmith’s involvement in various Monkees reunions was sporadic, however, he did rejoin his three amigos in 1996, marking the band’s 30th anniversary with the Justus album and accompanying TV special ‘Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees’, before contributing to the 50th anniversary album Good Times! The Monkees continued with occasional reunion tours despite the loss of original members Peter Tork and Davy Jones. Remaining members Nesmith and Micky Dolenz ended a tour just weeks before Nesmith’s death. The final date of the tour was held on November 14, 2021, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Michael Nesmith crossed the rainbow on December 10, 2021
Born on March 30, 1941 in Rocester, Staffordshire, Edge co-founded The Moody Blues in 1964 in Birmingham, England, along with original band members Denny Laine, Clint Warwick, Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas.
His mother worked in silent movies as a pianist whilst his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all worked as musical hall singers.
He first moved into the music industry himself as the manager of the Blue Rhythm Band and whilst he did try his hand at the drums from time to time, he only started playing the instrument professionally when he was forced to step in for the drummer, who had quit the group.
In 1964 he formed the original blues-rock band the Moody Blues with Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Denny Laine, and Clint Warwick who in January 1965 produced the smash cover hit “Go Now”. (Bessie Banks original)
In the years following, Edge’s influence as a poet who happened to be a drummer as well, moved the band towards the prog rock genre, which they defined as no other group, giving direction to later outfits such as Yes, Barclay James Harvest, Electric Light Orchestra and others. Justin Hayward, who joined with John Lodge in 1966, credits Edge as the one who kept it all together for so may years.
“Graeme and his parents were very kind to me when I first joined the group, and for the first two years he and I either lived together or next door to each other,” Mr Hayward said. “We had fun and laughs all the way, as well as making what was probably the best music of our lives.”
“In the late 1960’s we became the group that Graeme always wanted it to be, and he was called upon to be a poet as well as a drummer,” said Hayward; “He delivered that beautifully and brilliantly, while creating an atmosphere and setting that the music would never have achieved without his words. I asked Jeremy Irons to recreate them for our last tours together and it was absolutely magical.”
Edge’s drumming and spoken word poetry was instrumental to the band’s biggest hits in their “classic” era of the ’60s and into the ’70s, including “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” and “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band).”
When The Moody Blues went on hiatus from 1974 to 1977, Edge traveled around the world on his yacht and also recorded two solo albums, “Kick Off Your Muddy Boots” (1975) and “Paradise Ballroom” (1978), inspired by his visit to the Caribbean.
In 1978, the band reunited for the album “Octave,” after which they pivoted from prog-rock to a more synth-pop sound in the earlier ’80s. Around this time, Edge linked with a jazz-combo group formed of various musicians from London’s club scene, called Loud, Confident and Rong. In my opinion, he was one of the most consistently solid British ‘60’s music drummers who continued to perform and record original music right up until late 2017 when The Moody Blues performed a special “Days of Future Passed” concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada , which was recorded at The Sony Centre Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Graeme composed many of the songs and wrote poetry for The Moody Blues albums along with his fellow band mates Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas and Denny Laine and along with Adrian Gurvitz (Baker-Gurvitz Army), Graeme wrote the songs, recorded the music and performed with his own band..”The Graeme Edge Band”.
After suffering a stroke in 2016, Edge retired from touring in 2019. Yet he remained an official member of The Moody Blues until his death, nearly 60 years after its founding.
“When Graeme told me he was retiring I knew that without him it couldn’t be the Moody Blues anymore,” said Hayward in his statement. “And that’s what happened. It’s true to say that he kept the group together throughout all the years, because he loved it.”
In 2018, The Moody Blues was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their last album was released in 2003. They have sold more than 70 million albums to date. Overall, Edge recorded 16 studio albums with The Mood Blues, ending with 2003’s Christmas-themed “December.”
Graeme passed away from metastatic cancer on November 11th, 2021 at the age of 80 at his home in Bradenton Florida. He had been living there for more than 20 years as he called the area, the last hold out of hippiedom.
Edge, who has married and divorced twice, is survived by his wife, as well as his daughter, Samantha Edge; his son, Matthew; and five grandchildren.
Several fans, musicians and musical institutions paid tribute in the wake of Edge’s passing.
“Graeme was one of the great characters of the music business and there will never be his like again,” Hayward concluded. “My sincerest condolences to his family.”
“Edge’s mystical poetry on the Moodies records created flights of fantasy and otherworldly journeys for generations of fans,” the The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame posted on their official Facebook page with a video of Edge’s speech at The Moody Blues’ induction ceremony.
Rod Argent of The Zombies, The Moody Blues’ rock contemporaries, also shared a statement on the “very sad” news. “Way back in the mid sixties we were invited to a couple of the legendary Moody Blues parties in Roehampton – where the original band had a house – and we particularly remembered how much Graeme, along with the rest of the band, was just so welcoming and hospitable,” he reminisced. “That quality was something Graeme never lost.”
Kiss frontman Paul Stanley tweeted “RIP Graeme Edge” and shared a memory of an “EPIC” performance he attended in 1970. “Sounded just like their recordings. NOBODY could touch them at what they created and to this day you know them as soon as you hear them.”
Bassist John Lodge posted a statement of his own on the band’s official website. “To me he was the White Eagle of the North with his beautiful poetry,” he wrote. “His friendship, his love of life and his ‘unique’ style of drumming that was the engine room of the Moody Blues. … I will miss you Graeme.”
I was fortunate enough as a young kid, to see the original Moody Blues perform Go Now live in the studio in 1965 and was totally blown away. Seven years later I witnessed their genre metamorphosis with an unbelievable concert at Hammersmith-Odeon in London where they performed their perennial hits Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band, Tuesday Afternoon, Nights in White Satin, The Story in your Eyes and all the rest. And even though in my deepest heart I am a blues-rocker, I have always kept a soft spot for the Moody Blues, Supertramp and several of the progressive rock and underground formations.
Drummer Charlie Watts, who has died at 80, provided the foundation which underpinned the music of the Rolling Stones for 58 years.
A jazz aficionado, Watts vied with Bill Wyman for the title of least charismatic member of the band; he eschewed the limelight and rarely gave interviews. And he famously described life with the Stones as five years of playing, 20 years of hanging around.
Charles Robert Watts was born on 2 June 1941 at the University College Hospital in London and raised in Kingsbury, now part of the London Borough of Brent.
He came from a working-class background. His father was a lorry driver and Watts was brought up in a pre-fabricated house to which the family had moved after German bombs destroyed hundreds of houses in the area.
A childhood friend once described how Watts had an early interest in jazz and recalled listening to 78s in Charlie’s bedroom by artists such as Jelly Roll Morton and Charlie Parker.He first played with the Jo Jones Seven on the North London pub circuit
At school he developed an interest in and a talent for art and he went on to study at Harrow Art School before finding a job as a graphic designer with a local advertising agency.
But his love of music continued to be the dominating force in his life. His parents bought him a drum kit when he was 13 and he played along to his collection of jazz records.
He began drumming in local clubs and pubs and, in 1961 was heard by Alexis Korner who offered him a job in his band, Blues Incorporated, an outfit that became a vital part of the development of British rock music.
Also playing with Blues Incorporated was a guitarist named Brian Jones who introduced Watts to the fledgling Rolling Stones whose original drummer, Tony Chapman, had quit the band. The result of that meeting according to Watts was “four decades of seeing Mick’s bum running around in front of me.”
Watt’s skill and experience was invaluable. Together with Bill Wyman he provided a counterpoint to the guitars of Richards and Jones and the preening performance of Mick Jagger.
Early Stone’s concerts often descended into mayhem as eager female fans climbed onto the stage to embrace their heroes. Watts often found himself trying to maintain a beat with a couple of girls hanging on to his arms
As well as his musical ability, his graphic design experience also proved useful. He came up with the sleeve for the 1967 album, Between the Buttons, and helped create the stage sets which became an increasingly important feature of the band’s tours.
Watts also came up with the idea of promoting their 1975 tour of the US by having the band play Brown Sugar on the back of a lorry as it drove down the street in Manhattan. He had remembered New Orleans jazz bands using the same technique and it was later copied by other groups including AC/DC and U2.
His lifestyle while on the road was in direct contrast to that of other band members. He famously rejected the charms of the hordes of groupies that dogged the band on all their tours, remaining faithful to his wife Shirley, who he had married in 1964.
However in the mid-1980s, during what he put down to a mid-life crisis, Watts went off the rails with drink and drugs, leading to heroin addiction.
“It got so bad,” he later quipped, ” that even Keith Richards, bless him, told me to get it together.”
At the same time his wife was battling her own alcoholism. and his daughter, Seraphina, had became something of a “wild child” and was expelled from the prestigious Millfield public school for smoking cannabis.
Getty ImagesHe maintained his love of jazz with The Charlie Watts Orchestra
Watts’s relations with Mick Jagger, too, had reached an all-time low.
On one famous occasion, in an Amsterdam hotel in 1984, a drunken Mick Jagger reportedly woke Watts up by bellowing down the phone “Where’s my drummer?”
Watts responded by going round to the singer’s room, hitting him with a left hook, saying “Don’t ever call me ‘your drummer’ again, you’re my f***ing singer.”
The crisis lasted two years and it was Shirley, above all, who helped him get through it.
Estimated to have been worth £80 million, as a result of the enduring popularity of the Stones, Charlie Watts lived with his wife on a farm in Devon where they bred Arabian horses.
He also became something of an expert on antique silver and collected everything from American Civil War memorabilia to old classic cars. The last was curious since he didn’t drive.
Between his regular Stones tours, Charlie Watts indulged his love of jazz. Though he always enjoyed drumming with a rock band and loved his work with the Stones, jazz gave him, as he put it, “more freedom to move around”.
Back in art college, he’d completed an illustrated biography of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, entitled Ode To A High Flying Bird.
In 1990, he used the book as the basis for a musical tribute to the man they called the Bird on an album by the Charlie Watts Quintet. It featured several of his jazz musician friends, including saxophonist Pete King.
Watts played and recorded with various incarnations of big bands. At one gig, at Ronnie Scott’s, he had a 25-piece on stage including three drummers.
Always well turned out – he had featured in several lists of best dressed men – Watts kept his feet firmly on the ground throughout his career with one of the world’s most enduring bands.
The Rolling Stones became a by-word for rock and roll excess, but for Watts, playing with the Stones did not become the ego trip that drove Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Said Charlie about his outlook on life, “I’m not really a rockstar,” he explained, pointing out how he only truly cared about making music.
“I don’t have all the trappings of that. I’ve never been interested in doing interviews or being seen,” Charlie continued, jokingly adding, “Having said that, I do have four vintage cars and can’t drive the bloody things.”
Rest In Peace Charlie. Heaven admits another legend
June 8, 2020 – Bonnie Pointer, a Founding member of The Pointer Sisters, was born July 11, 1950 as Patricia Eva Pointer in Oakland California. All six siblings including the four sisters grew up in Oakland, Calif., where their parents, Elton and Sarah (Salis) Pointer, were pastor and minister and where the sisters honed their vocal skills at the West Oakland Church of God.
Bonnie and June, the two youngest sisters, began performing in 1969 under the name The Pointers — A Pair. Anita Pointer later said she quit her job as a legal secretary after seeing Bonnie and June onstage in San Francisco. “I saw them at the Fillmore West, and I lost my mind,” she said, adding that Bonnie was “the catalyst” in starting their musical career.
Renamed the Pointer Sisters, the three began working as backup singers. Mingling with the San Francisco-area rock scene, they sang with acts like Boz Scaggs, Grace Slick and the gender-bending pioneer Sylvester, and they were briefly signed to Atlantic Records. Their singles for that label failed to chart, although one 1972 B-side, “Send Him Back,” has over time come to be considered a minor funk classic. Continue reading Bonnie Pointer 6/20
May 11, 2020 – John David “Moon” Martin was born on October 31, 1945 (some report 1950 but not true) in Altus, Oklahoma.
If you go to Moon’s Wikipedia page, it says he was born in 1950. But if you read some of the obits, he was born in 1945. Which makes complete sense. If for no other reason than his hair was prematurely gray nearly instantly. And there’s no way he could have played with Hendrix and Joplin if he was only 20, they died in 1970. But Martin did.
His first band, The Disciples, later renamed Southwind, formed in Norman while he was a student at the University of Oklahoma and then relocated to Los Angeles where they attained some success and even toured with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix before calling it quits in 1972. After a brief stint playing with Linda Rondstadt, John focused on session work and songwriting, penning the hit track “Cadillac Walk” which was recorded by Mink DeVille on his debut album.
And then came “Bad Case of Loving You.”
By this time we’d already moved on to the second album, “Escape From Domination,” “Rolene” was heard on KROQ, back when that was a free form station, before the ROQ of the 80s, before the death of rock and the decimation of the station this year. But at this point, Moon Martin was not famous for the Robert Palmer cover, but the Willy DeVille covers.
By 1978 he was recording under the moniker “Moon” Martin due to his multiple song lyrics referring to the moon. He began his solo career with his Victim of Romance EP that included his most successful song “Bad Case of Loving You.” Robert Palmer – Singer would later cover the song, making it a Top 20 hit a year later. Moon’s first solo album, Shots From a Cold Nightmare, remains a Power Pop classic.
Moon Martin sold his soul to rock and roll. He followed the music to the very last note. He died with his guitar strap on, coming out of the studio after a full day’s work on a new album. It wasn’t a fling, something Moon did before law school. He had no desire to work at the bank. (Although let’s not forget Harry Nilsson was a teller!) It was all music, all the time.
It is said they he had lived comfortably off his song royalties, until the day he died. A true exception i rock-n-roll.
He was 74 years old, and he had become a little frail over the last few years…He went to sleep in a big easy chair in his living room with a book in his hand, a blanket in his lap, and a little glass of Coke on the nightstand next to him. He left this world as peacefully as anybody could ever hope to
Little Richard did not invent rock ’n’ roll. Other musicians had already been mining a similar vein by the time he recorded his first hit, “Tutti Frutti” — a raucous song about sex, its lyrics cleaned up but its meaning hard to miss — in a New Orleans recording studio in September 1955. Chuck Berry and Fats Domino had reached the pop Top 10, Bo Diddley had topped the rhythm-and-blues charts, and Elvis Presley had been making records for a year.
But Little Richard, delving deeply into the wellsprings of gospel music and the blues, pounding the piano furiously and screaming as if for his very life, raised the energy level several notches and created something not quite like any music that had been heard before — something new, thrilling and more than a little dangerous. As the rock historian Richie Unterberger put it, “He was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock ’n’ roll.”
Art Rupe of Specialty Records, the label for which he recorded his biggest hits, called Little Richard “dynamic, completely uninhibited, unpredictable, wild.”
“Tutti Frutti” rocketed up the charts and was quickly followed by “Long Tall Sally” and other records now acknowledged as classics. His live performances were electrifying.
“He’d just burst onto the stage from anywhere, and you wouldn’t be able to hear anything but the roar of the audience,” the record producer and arranger H.B. Barnum, who played saxophone with Little Richard early in his career, recalled in “The Life and Times of Little Richard” (1984), an authorized biography by Charles White. “He’d be on the stage, he’d be off the stage, he’d be jumping and yelling, screaming, whipping the audience on.”
An Immeasurable Influence
Rock ’n’ roll was an unabashedly macho music in its early days, but Little Richard, who had performed in drag as a teenager, presented a very different picture onstage: gaudily dressed, his hair piled six inches high, his face aglow with cinematic makeup. He was fond of saying in later years that if Elvis was the king of rock ’n’ roll, he was the queen. Offstage, he characterized himself variously as gay, bisexual and “omnisexual.”
His influence as a performer was immeasurable. It could be seen and heard in the flamboyant showmanship of James Brown, who idolized him (and used some of his musicians when Little Richard began a long hiatus from performing in 1957), and of Prince, whose ambisexual image owed a major debt to his.
Presley recorded his songs. The Beatles adopted his trademark sound, an octave-leaping exultation: “Woooo!” (Paul McCartney said that the first song he ever sang in public was “Long Tall Sally,” which he later recorded with the Beatles.) Bob Dylan wrote in his high school yearbook that his ambition was “to join Little Richard.”
Little Richard’s impact was social as well.
“I’ve always thought that rock ’n’ roll brought the races together,” Mr. White quoted him as saying. “Especially being from the South, where you see the barriers, having all these people who we thought hated us showing all this love.”
Mr. Barnum told Mr. White that “they still had the audiences segregated” at concerts in the South in those days, but that when Little Richard performed, “most times, before the end of the night, they would all be mixed together.”
If uniting black and white audiences was a point of pride for Little Richard, it was a cause of concern for others, especially in the South. The White Citizens Council of North Alabama issued a denunciation of rock ’n’ roll largely because it brought “people of both races together.” And with many radio stations under pressure to keep black music off the air, Pat Boone’s cleaned-up, toned-down version of “Tutti Frutti” was a bigger hit than Little Richard’s original. (He also had a hit with “Long Tall Sally.”)
Still, it seemed that nothing could stop Little Richard’s drive to the top — until he stopped it himself.
He was at the height of his fame when he left the United States in late September 1957 to begin a tour in Australia. As he told the story, he was exhausted, under intense pressure from the Internal Revenue Service and furious at the low royalty rate he was receiving from Specialty. Without anyone to advise him, he had signed a contract that gave him half a cent for every record he sold. “Tutti Frutti” had sold half a million copies but had netted him only $25,000.
One night in early October, before 40,000 fans at an outdoor arena in Sydney, he had an epiphany.
“That night Russia sent off that very first Sputnik,” he told Mr. White, referring to the first satellite sent into space. “It looked as though the big ball of fire came directly over the stadium about two or three hundred feet above our heads. It shook my mind. It really shook my mind. I got up from the piano and said, ‘This is it. I am through. I am leaving show business to go back to God.’”
He had one last Top 10 hit: “Good Golly Miss Molly,” recorded in 1956 but not released until early 1958. By then, he had left rock ’n’ roll behind.
He became a traveling evangelist. He entered Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in Huntsville, Ala., a Seventh-day Adventist school, to study for the ministry. He cut his hair, got married and began recording gospel music.
For the rest of his life, he would be torn between the gravity of the pulpit and the pull of the stage.
“Although I sing rock ’n’ roll, God still loves me,” he said in 2009. “I’m a rock ’n’ roll singer, but I’m still a Christian.”
He was lured back to the stage in 1962, and over the next two years he played to wild acclaim in England, Germany and France. Among his opening acts were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, then at the start of their careers.
He went on to tour relentlessly in the United States, with a band that at one time included Jimi Hendrix on guitar. By the end of the 1960s, sold-out performances in Las Vegas and triumphant appearances at rock festivals in Atlantic City and Toronto were sending a clear message: Little Richard was back to stay. But he wasn’t.
‘I Lost My Reasoning’
By his own account, alcohol and cocaine began to sap his soul (“I lost my reasoning,” he would later say), and in 1977, he once again turned from rock ’n’ roll to God. He became a Bible salesman, began recording religious songs again and, for the second time, disappeared from the spotlight.
He did not stay away forever. The publication of his biography in 1984 signaled his return to the public eye, and he began performing again.
By now, he was as much a personality as a musician. In 1986 he played a prominent role as a record producer in Paul Mazursky’s hit movie “Down and Out in Beverly Hills.” On television, he appeared on talk, variety, comedy and awards shows. He officiated at celebrity weddings and preached at celebrity funerals.
He could still raise the roof in concert. In December 1992, he stole the show at a rock ’n’ roll revival concert at Wembley Arena in London. “I’m 60 years old today,” he told the audience, “and I still look remarkable.”
He continued to look remarkable — with the help of wigs and thick pancake makeup — as he toured intermittently into the 21st century. But age eventually took its toll.
By 2007, he was walking onstage with the aid of two canes. In 2012, he abruptly ended a performance at the Howard Theater in Washington, telling the crowd, “I can’t hardly breathe.” A year later, he told Rolling Stone magazine that he was retiring.
“I am done, in a sense,” he said. “I don’t feel like doing anything right now.”
Richard Wayne Penniman was born in Macon, Ga., on Dec. 5, 1932, the third of 12 children born to Charles and Leva Mae (Stewart) Penniman. His father was a brick mason who sold moonshine on the side. An uncle, a cousin and a grandfather were preachers, and as a boy he attended Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist and Holiness churches and aspired to be a singing evangelist. An early influence was the gospel singer and guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one of the first performers to combine a religious message with the urgency of R&B.
By the time he was in his teens, Richard’s ambition had taken a detour. He left home and began performing with traveling medicine and minstrel shows, part of a 19th-century tradition that was dying out. By 1948, billed as Little Richard — the name was a reference to his youth and not his physical stature — he was a cross-dressing performer with a minstrel troupe called Sugarfoot Sam From Alabam, which had been touring for decades.
In 1951, while singing alongside strippers, comics and drag queens on the Decataur Street strip in Atlanta, he recorded his first songs. The records were generic R&B, with no distinct style, and attracted almost no attention.
Around this time, he met two performers whose look and sound would have a profound impact on his own: Billy Wright and S.Q. Reeder, who performed and recorded as Esquerita. They were both accomplished pianists, flashy dressers, flamboyant entertainers and as openly gay as it was possible to be in the South in the 1950s.
Little Richard acknowledged his debt to Esquerita, who he said gave him some piano-playing tips, and Mr. Wright, whom he once called “the most fantastic entertainer I had ever seen.” But however much he borrowed from either man, the music and persona that emerged were his own.
His break came in 1955, when Mr. Rupe signed him to Specialty and arranged for him to record with local musicians in New Orleans. During a break at that session, he began singing a raucous but obscene song that Mr. Rupe thought had the potential to capture the nascent teenage record-buying audience. Mr. Rupe enlisted a New Orleans songwriter, Dorothy LaBostrie, to clean up the lyrics; the song became “Tutti Frutti”; and a rock ’n’ roll star was born.
By the time he stopped performing, Little Richard was in both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (he was inducted in the Hall’s first year) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the recipient of lifetime achievement awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. “Tutti Frutti” was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2010.
If Little Richard ever doubted that he deserved all the honors he received, he never admitted it. “A lot of people call me the architect of rock ’n’ roll,” he once said. “I don’t call myself that, but I believe it’s true.”
October 26, 2019 – Paul Barrere was born on July 3, 1948, the son of Hollywood actors Paul Bryar and Claudia Bryar. He joined celebrated cult band Little Feat in 1973, before the band recorded their third full-length LP, the gold-certified ‘Dixie Chicken’. For the recording of its fourth album, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now (1974), he wrote the title track. As Barrere stayed with the group, he took, along with keyboard player Bill Payne, an increasing role in singing, playing, and writing, as bandleader/founder Lowell Georgeslowly retreated. When the group fragmented following George’s death in 1979, Paul led the group Chicken Legs.
Barrere then did sessions and recorded solo in the 1980s until the re-formation of Little Feat in 1988.
Barrere contracted Hepatitis C in 1994, but had managed to keep it under control, after he took a brief leave of absence. In 2015, he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Earlier this month, Barrere announced he was taking a medical leave of absence, but planned to be back on stage this upcoming January 2020, for the band’s headlining performance at Jamaica’s Ramble on the Island.
In a statement the members of Little feat announced:
It is with great sorrow that Little Feat must announce the passing of our brother guitarist, Paul Barrere, this morning at UCLA Hospital. We ask for your kindest thoughts and best wishes to go out especially to his widow Pam and children Gabriel, Genevieve, and Gillian, and to all the fans who were his extended family.
Paul auditioned for Little Feat as a bassist when it was first being put together—in his words, “as a bassist I make an excellent guitarist”—and three years later joined the band in his proper role on guitar. Forty-seven years later, he was forced to miss the current tour, which will end tomorrow, due to side effects from his ongoing treatment for liver disease.
He promised to follow his doctor’s orders, get back in shape, and rock on the beach at the band’s annual gathering in Jamaica in January 2020. “Until then,” he wrote, “keep your sailin’ shoes close by…if I have my way, you’re going to need them!”
As the song he sang so many times put it, he was always “Willin’,” but it was not meant to be. Paul, sail on to the next place in your journey with our abiding love for a life always dedicated to the muse and the music. We are grateful for the time we have shared.
Yours in music,
Little Feat: Bill Payne, Sam Clayton, Fred Tackett, Kenny Gradney, and Gabe Ford.
Little Feat released 16 studio albums over a span of 41 years, the last being ‘Rooster Rag’, in 2012. Barrere released three solo albums: ‘On My Own Two Feet’ (1983), ‘Real Lies’ (1984) and ‘If the Phone Don’t Ring’ (1986).
He also worked with Robert Palmer, Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Jack Bruce, Carly Simon and Nicolette Larson. That is his guitar work on Nicolette’s cover of Neil Young’s ‘Lotta Love’.
Barrere was a swing man as a guitarist who played a wide variety of styles of music including blues, rock, jazz, and cajun music and was proficient as a slide guitarist. Barrere also recorded and toured as an acoustic duo with fellow Little Feat member Fred Tackett. Barrere played several concerts with Phil Lesh and Friends in October 1999 and from March to June 2000. He also toured with Bob Dylan, and had most recently been writing and recording with Roger Cole.
Paul wrote Little Feat’s ‘Feats Don’t Fail Me Now’, ‘All That You Dream’, ‘Time Loves A Hero’ and ‘Down On The Farm’. He joined the band for their third album ‘Dixie Chicken’ was had been a member ever since.
Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere passed away at the age of 71 on October 26, 2019
July 22, 2019 – Art Neville was born on 17 December 1937 the oldest son in the famous New Orleans blues/funk family that created the Neville Bothers. Art was born in New Orleans to Arthur Neville and his wife, Amelia (nee Landry). His father was a station porter fond of singing tunes by Nat King Cole and the Texan bluesman Charles Brown. His mother was part of a dance act with her brother, George “Big Chief Jolly” Landry.
The oldest of four brothers, his interest in playing keyboards was triggered at the age of three, when his grandmother took him to a New Orleans church where he spotted the organ. “I turned the little switch and hit one of the low keys,” he recalled. “It scared the daylights out of me, but that was the first keyboard I played.” He later began playing the piano and performing with his brothers, and in high school joined (and subsequently led) his first band, the Hawketts. He was the lead singer on their version of Mardi Gras Mambo, a regional hit in 1954. It became a regular fixture at New Orleans’s annual Mardi Gras celebrations. In 1958 he joined the US Navy, emerging in 1962 to continue his musical career. He formed Art Neville and the Neville Sounds, which included Aaron and Cyril before they quit to form their own group. Now a four-piece completed by guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bass player George Porter Jr and drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, they played regularly at New Orleans clubs, backing artists such as the Pointer Sisters and Lee Dorsey.
The Meters Era
In 1965 he was a founder not only of the Meters, whose music in the late 1960s and early 70s helped to define the genre of New Orleans funk, but of the Neville Brothers, who were masters of various soul, blues and gospel styles and were distinguished by their intricate vocal harmonies. The Meters provided the musical backup for innumerable soul and funk artists, including on big-selling classics such as Lee Dorsey’s Working in the Coal Mine (1966) and Labelle’s Lady Marmalade (1974). But they also had hits in their own right, notably in 1969 with Cissy Strut (1969) and Look-Ka Py Py.
The Meters refined the loping, syncopated rhythm called the “second line” which became emblematic of New Orleans funk. Prime examples included the group’s hits Cissy Strut, Look-Ka Py Py, Chicken Strut (1970) and Hey Pocky A-Way (1974). Cissy Strut, which reached No 23 on the mainstream Billboard chart, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011. The Meters made countless recordings as the house band for the songwriter and producer Allen Toussaint, with highlights including Working in the Coal Mine, which reached No 8 in the UK and the US, Dr John’s album In the Right Place (1973), and Labelle’s US chart-topper Lady Marmalade, a song about a prostitute in the French quarter of New Orleans with the famous line “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” In 1974 the Meters backed Robert Palmer on his album Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, and in 1975 Paul McCartney invited them aboard the Queen Mary ocean liner in Long Beach, California, to play at the launch party of the Wings album Venus and Mars. Also present was Mick Jagger, who invited the Meters to support the Rolling Stones on their tours of the US and Europe in 1975-76. The group now included Cyril, who joined for their album Fire on the Bayou (1975).
Forming the Neville Brothers
Art and Cyril quit the Meters in 1977 and formed the Neville Brothers with Aaron and Charles. The brothers had already gathered the previous year to back their uncle George Landry on the album The Wild Tchoupitoulas. At first the Neville Brothers were slow to gain recognition. Art recalled how when they used to play at Tipitina’s in New Orleans “you could have blown it up and not hurt anyone but the Neville Brothers”. Though Keith Richards hailed their 1981 album Fiyo on the Bayou as the finest of the year, sales were poor. They failed to release another studio album until Uptown (1987), a conscious effort to find a more mainstream sound (with Richards and Carlos Santana guesting) that prompted accusations of a sellout.
Outside the Neville Brothers Art began playing concerts with his former Meters bandmates, following a reunion at the 1989 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival. They subsequently formed a new version of the band called the Funky Meters, and Art continued to perform with both outfits. A change of fortune came with Yellow Moon, sympathetically produced by Daniel Lanois, which successfully moulded the group’s collective skills into a coherent whole. In that year the group won a Grammy for best pop instrumental performance for the Yellow Moon track Healing Chant, while the album also contained several landmark tracks including the title song, a version of Dylan’s With God on Our Side, and Sister Rosa, their ode to the civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.
Art won another Grammy in 1996 with various artists for best rock instrumental performance for SRV Shuffle, a tribute to the guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Their musical groove influenced artists as varied as Little Feat, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Public Enemy and the Grateful Dead. Art Neville, who was nicknamed Poppa Funk, toured as part of the Neville Brothers and the Meters with major artists, including the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and Tina Turner, and were traditionally the closing act on the final Sunday night of New Orleans’s annual Jazz & Heritage festival.
The Neville Brothers disbanded in 2012, but reunited for a farewell concert in New Orleans in 2015. Three years after Art announced his retirement after more than six decades in the music business.
Art Neville crossed the rainbow to rock and roll paradise on July 22, 2019 at the age of 81.
Daniel David Kirwan (guitarist for Fleetwood Mac) was born on May 13, 1950 as Daniel David Langran and grew up in Brixton, South London. His parents separated when he was young. His mother, Phyllis Rose Langran then married Aloysious J. Kirwan in 1958 when Danny was eight. Kirwan left school in 1967 with six O-levels and worked for a year as an insurance clerk in Fenchurch Street in the City of London.
His mother was a singer and as a consequence he grew up listening to the music of jazz musicians such as Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, Belgian gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and 1930s–40s groups such as the Ink Spots. He began learning guitar at the relative late age of 15 and quickly became an accomplished self-taught guitarist and musician, influenced by guitarists such as Hank Marvin of the Shadows, Django Reinhardt, Jimi Hendrix, and particularly by Eric Clapton’s playing in the Bluesbreakers. Kirwan was 17 when he came to the attention of the newly formed blues band Fleetwood Mac in London while fronting his first band Boilerhouse, a blues three-piece with Trevor Stevens on bass guitar and Dave Terrey on drums. Boilerhouse played support slots for Fleetwood Mac at London venues such as the Nag’s Head in Battersea and John Gee’s Marquee Club in Wardour Street.
Danny Kirwan was a natural guitarist, much in the same vein as Peter Green, who could make a string sing and a note come alive without any pedal support, just his fingers. Officially the story is that Peter Green in search for a more melodic blues direction for the band, saw Danny as his perfect counterpart and Mick Fleetwood later said: “Danny was a huge force in our early years … Danny’s true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully as a part of the foundation of Fleetwood Mac, that has now endured for over fifty years. Danny was a quantum leap ahead of us creatively … He is the lost component. In many ways, Danny is a forgotten hero.”
Danny Kirwan himself however downplayed his contributions to Fleetwood Mac’s sound and ethos. “I was lucky to have played for the band at all,” Kirwan told the British paper. “I just started off following them around, but I could play the guitar a bit and Mick felt sorry for me and put me in. I did it for about four years, to about 1972, but … I couldn’t handle the lifestyle and the women and the traveling.”
Danny’s guitar playing was very melodic, much in the style of the Incredible Stringband and some California Commune bands like Mad River and Love in the late sixties, which was styled as psychedelic underground. Danny did vibrato bends and pull-offs that were until then hardly ever heard.
Danny had joined the band in 1968, barely 18 years old. He appeared on five of Fleetwood Mac’s albums: 1969’s Then Play On and Blues Jam at Chess; 1970’s Kiln House; 1971’s Future Games; and finally on 1972’s Bare Trees. His compositions clearly made an impact on everyone of those albums. But Danny became the second “victim” of Fleetwood Mac after his buddy Peter Green left the band in 1970. You see in those early days, the members in Fleetwood Mac were hard partying rockers. They had fun and were living the high-life. Peter Green out of a growing mental illness pushed by drug abuse was the first one to leave and young Danny Kirwan had lost his mentor and music partner.
When American westcoast guitarist Bob Welch was brought in to replace Peter Green, Danny entered a vacuum, as band victim #3, slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer was already translating their hard charging life style into a religious obsession. (He was supposed to tour North America with the band in early 1971, but he went missing shortly before Fleetwood Mac was to play a concert in Los Angeles. Spencer supposedly left the hotel he and the group were staying at to get some groceries, but he never returned.)
In 1999 Welch said Kirwan had been “a talented, gifted musician, almost equal to Peter Green in his beautiful guitar playing and faultless string bends,” but commented in a later interview: “Danny wasn’t a very lighthearted person, to say the least. He probably shouldn’t have been drinking as much as he did, even at his young age. He was always very intense about his work, as I was, but he didn’t seem to ever be able to distance himself from it and laugh about it.”
Before a concert on a US tour in August 1972, a backstage argument between a drunken Kirwan and Welch resulted in Kirwan smashing his guitar, trashing the dressing room and refusing to go on stage. Having reportedly smashed his head bloody on a wall, Kirwan watched the band struggle through the set without him, with Welch trying to cover his guitar parts. Welch remembered, “I was extremely pissed off, and the set seemed to drag on forever.” The band fired Kirwan, and the artistic direction of Fleetwood Mac was left in the hands of Welch and Christine McVie. Fleetwood said later that the pressure had become too much for Kirwan, and he had suffered a breakdown.
Danny Kirwin released three albums as a solo artist from 1975 to 1979, during which years he also recorded albums with Otis Spann, Chris Youlden, and Tramp, as well as worked with his former Fleetwood Mac colleagues Jeremy Spencer and Christine McVieon some of their solo projects. As a member of Fleetwood Mac, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, even though he did not come to the induction.
For most of the 1980s and 90s he battled mental illness, alcoholism and homelessness. It emerged that he had been living in basements and shelters, making ends meet through social security and small royalty payments.
In 1993, after Mick Fleetwood made inquiries about his well-being, the London paper The Independent and the U.K.’s Missing Persons Bureau tracked him down in a homeless shelter in London’s West End, where Kirwan had been living for the past four years in reasonable comfort, arranged for by his family.
Danny Kirwan died Friday June 8, 2018 in London at the age of 68, presumably according to his ex-wife from pro-longed pneumonia.
June 6, 2019 – Dr. John was born Malcolm John Rebennack in New Orleans on November 20, 1941, and early on got the nickname “Mac.”
When he was about 13 years old, Rebennack met blues pianist Professor Longhair (Roy Byrd) and soon began performing with him. At age 16, Rebennack quit high school to focus on playing music. He performed with several local New Orleans bands including Mac Rebennack and the Skyliners, Frankie Ford and the Thunderbirds, and Jerry Byrne and the Loafers. He had a regional hit with a Bo Diddley-influenced instrumental called “Storm Warning” on Rex Records in 1959.
Rebennack became involved in illegal activities in New Orleans in the early sixties, using and selling narcotics and running a brothel. He was arrested on drug charges and sentenced to two years in a federal prison at Fort Worth, Texas. When his sentence ended in 1965, he moved to Los Angeles, adopted the stage name of Dr. John, and collaborated with other New Orleans transplants. He became a “Wrecking Crew” session piano player appearing on works for a variety of artists including Sonny & Cher, Canned Heat on their albums Living the Blues (1968) and Future Blues (1970), and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention on Freak Out! (1966).
Dr. John solo recordings include his debut LP, Gris-Gris (1968), Babylon (1969), Remedies (1970) and The Sun, Moon, and Herbs (1971) and Gumbo (1972). His 1973 release, In the Right Place, produced by Allen Toussaint, included his Top Ten hit “Right Place, Wrong Time.”
For the next three decades, Mac, as friends called him, collaborated with about everyone in rock and blues. Jagger and Richards, Springsteen, John Fogerty, Doc Pomus, Jason Isbell, Irma Thomas and so many more.
In the Movies, Dr. John appears in the Band’s opus, The Last Waltz and the sequel Blues Brothers 2000. Dr. John appears as himself in the second season of NCIS: New Orleans, playing his hit “Right Place, Wrong Time”.
He was the inspiration for Jim Henson’s Muppet character, Dr. Teeth and won 6 Grammy Awards and became a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Dr. John, legendary New Orleans musician, died from a heart attack on June 6, 2019 at age 77.
March 17, 2019 – Bernie Tormé (guitarist for Ozzy, Gillan, Dee Snider and others) was born in Dublin on March 18, 1952, where he learned to play guitar. In 1974 he moved to London, joining bassist John McCoy in heavy rockers Scrapyard. After forming the Bernie Tormé Band two years later, he re-joined McCoy as a member of former Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan’s new solo project, playing on four Gillan albums: Mr. Universe, Glory Road, Future Shock and Double Trouble.
In 1981 Tormé left Gillan, and joined Atomic Rooster as a session guitarist. The following year briefly joined Ozzy Osbourne’s band, stepping in for Randy Rhoads in the aftermath of the guitarist’s tragic death. Ozzy Osbourne told Total Guitar that if it wasn’t for Bernie Tormé he “might never have got back on a stage”.
He then formed Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies, and in 1988 joined Desperado, the band formed by Dee Snider after Twisted Sister were disbanded, playing on their only album, Bloodied, but Unbowed.
Tormé later later reunited with ex-Gillan colleague, John McCoy and drummer Robin Guy in GMT, and returned to solo work in 2013, releasing three acclaimed albums;Flowers & Dirt(2014), Blackheart (2015) and the 3CD set Dublin Cowboy. All three were successfully crowd-funded releases.
Tormé released his latest studio album Shadowland in November last year, but his family reported that PledgeMusic – who say they’re working on a solution to address late payments to artists – still owed the guitarist £16,000, which was due to be sent to him in December.
Bernie Tormé passed away peacefully on March 17, 2019 , one day short of his 67th birthday, surrounded by his family. He had been on life support for the previous four weeks at a London hospital following post-flu complications and suffering from virulent pneumonia in both lungs.
Snider tweeted, “Woke up to find out my friend Bernie Tormé has died. He was a guitar god who played with OzzyOsbourne & Ian Gillan. We worked together for 3 years, writing over 100 songs for the ill-fated Desperado. I loved that man & today my heart is broken. RIP Bernie. Your guitar weeps.”
March 22, 2019 – Scott Walker (the Walker Brothers) was born January 9, 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, despite the fact that he was perceived as British. One of the more enigmatic figures in rock history, Scott Walker was known as Scotty Engel when he cut obscure flop records in the late ’50s and early ’60s in the teen idol vein.
He initially found work in Los Angeles as a bass player, but rose to fame in the United Kingdom, after he hooked up with John Maus and Gary Leeds to form the Walker Brothers. They weren’t named Walker, they weren’t brothers, and they weren’t English, but they nevertheless became a part of the British Invasion after moving to the U.K. in 1965. They enjoyed a couple of years of massive success there (and a couple of hits in the U.S.) The Walker Brothers was a well-groomed trio famous for their British Invasion renditions of Brill Building pop. With the help of Scott Walker’s booming baritone, the act topped the British charts with covers of “Make It Easy On Yourself” (1965) and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” (1966), but in the US, the trio never achieved the superstardom that they enjoyed overseas. As their full-throated lead singer and principal songwriter, Walker was the dominant artistic force in the group, who split in 1967.
While remaining virtually unknown in his homeland, Walker launched a hugely successful solo career in Britain with a unique blend of orchestrated, almost MOR arrangements with idiosyncratic and morose lyrics. At the height of psychedelia, Walker openly looked to crooners like Sinatra, Jack Jones, and Tony Bennett for inspiration, and to Jacques Brel for much of his material. None of those balladeers, however, would have sung about the oddball subjects — prostitutes, transvestites, suicidal brooders, plagues, and Joseph Stalin — that populated Walker’s songs. His first four albums hit the Top Ten in the U.K. — his second, in fact, reached number one in 1968, in the midst of the hippie era. By the time of 1969’s Scott 4, the singer was writing all of his material. Although this was perhaps his finest album, it was a commercial disappointment, and unfortunately discouraged him from relying entirely upon his own material on subsequent releases.
The ’70s were a frustrating period for Walker, pocked with increasingly sporadic releases and a largely unsuccessful reunion with his “brothers” in the middle of the decade. His work on the Walkers’ final album in 1978 prompted admiration from David Bowie and Brian Eno. After a long period of hibernation, he emerged in 1984 with an album, Climate of Hunter, that drew critical raves for a minimalist, trance-like ambience that showed him keeping abreast of cutting-edge ’80s rock trends.
It would 11 more years before Walker completed his metamorphosis from pop crooner to avant-garde godfather. That would come on 1995’s Tilt, a shocking post-apocalyptic work of art that matched dark, enigmatic songwriting and dissonant orchestral production. Tying it all together was Walker’s inimitable voice, which he pushed to awkward, operatic heights. Tilt was a harrowing listen, but its uncompromising singularity attracted experimental music fans of all types.
Again, it would be 11 years before Walker would release new music, but this time the lag was to no one’s surprise. He had developed a reputation as a perfectionist who operated on his own schedule. When 2006’s The Drift was released on 4AD, Walker again sent shockwaves through the avant-garde community. While Tilt was, in part, adored for its misdirection, The Drift was celebrated for its execution. As the second part of Walker’s late-career trilogy, it took his ornate orchestration to new depths; every second of its nearly 70-minute runtime felt intentional and intricate.
During the next several years, he contributed to soundtracks (To Have and to Hold, The World Is Not Enough, Pola X) and assisted with recordings by Ute Lemper and Pulp. He didn’t release another album until 2006. That year, Walker also contributed the track “Darkness” to Plague Songs for the Margate Exodus project, curated by the British arts organization Artangel. The concept centered around the retelling of the ten plagues of Egypt as recorded in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. In early 2007, the documentary film Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, premiered. Later that year, Walker released the limited-edition EP And Who Shall Go to the Ball? And What Shall Go to the Ball? Commissioned as a work for ballet by the Candoco Dance Company, it was comprised of a single piece of instrumental music, 24 minutes in length, performed by the London Sinfonietta and cellist Philip Sheppard.
In November of 2008, the musical theater work Drifting and Tilting: The Songs of Scott Walker was staged at London’s Barbican over three evenings. It was comprised of songs from Tilt and The Drift. Walker did not perform, but directed the work from conception to execution including staging, lighting, and orchestra. The vocals were performed by various singers, including Damon Albarn, Dot Allison, and Jarvis Cocker. In 2009, the album Music Inspired by Scott Walker: 30 Century Man appeared, featuring songs inspired by the film sung by Laurie Anderson and other female Walker devotees. Also in 2009, Walker dueted with British singer Natasha Khan on her Bat for Lashes album Two Suns. In 2012, he released Bish Bosch. He regarded it as the third and final part of the trilogy that began with Tilt and continued on The Drift andthen surprised many fans with Soused, a collaboration with doom-metal droners Sunn O))), in 2014. The last recording released during his lifetime was the 2018 score to the Brady Corbet-directed film Vox Lux.
Scott Walker died from cancer at age 76 on March 22, 2019. He influenced everyone from Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) to Thom Yorke (Radiohead), and even newer artists like Bat for Lashes.
March 16, 2019 – Dick Dale was born Richard Monsour in Boston on May 4, 1937 1937; his father was Lebanese, his mother Polish. As a child, he was exposed to folk music from both cultures, which had an impact on his sense of melody and the ways string instruments could be picked. He also heard lots of big band swing, and found his first musical hero in drummer Gene Krupa, who later wound up influencing a percussive approach to guitar so intense that Dale regularly broke the heaviest-gauge strings available and ground his picks down to nothing several times in the same song.
He taught himself to play country songs on the ukulele, and soon graduated to guitar, where he was also self-taught. His father encouraged him and offered career guidance, and in 1954, the family moved to Southern California. At the suggestion of a country DJ, Monsour adopted the stage name Dick Dale, and he began performing in local talent shows, where his budding interest in rockabilly made him a popular act. He recorded a demo song, “Ooh-Whee Marie,” for the local Del-Fi label, which was later released as a single on his father’s new Deltone imprint and distributed locally. During the late ’50s, Dale also became an avid surfer, and soon set about finding ways to mimic the surging sounds and feelings of the sport and the ocean on his guitar. He quickly developed a highly distinctive instrumental sound and found an enthusiastic, ready-made audience in his surfer friends. Dale began playing regular gigs at the Rendezvous Ballroom, a once-defunct concert venue near Newport Beach, with his backing band the Del-Tones; as word spread and gigs at other local halls followed, Dale became a wildly popular attraction, drawing thousands of fans to every performance. In September 1961, Deltone released Dale’s single “Let’s Go Trippin’,” which is generally acknowledged to be the very first recorded surf instrumental.
In the space of a few short years, the Boston-born, Southern California transplant had merged the laid-back, sun-blasted lifestyle of the surf scene with a blistering rhythm of rockabilly and early rock-and-roll. As the mad scientist behind what was dubbed surf rock, Dale was, in the words of a 1963 Life magazine profile, a thumping teenage idol who is part evangelist, part Pied Piper and all success. The music Dale and his band the Del-Tones made poured out of radios, sound-tracked popular beach movies starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and lit inspirational fires in other musicians like the Beach Boys. Fans crowned him The King of the Surf Guitar. Dick Dale wasn’t nicknamed “King of the Surf Guitar” for nothing: he pretty much invented the style single-handedly, and no matter who copied or expanded upon his blueprint, he remained the fieriest, most technically gifted musician the genre ever produced. Dale’s pioneering use of Middle Eastern and Eastern European melodies (learned organically through his familial heritage) was among the first in any genre of American popular music, and predated the teaching of such “exotic” scales in guitar-shredder academies by two decades. The breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique was unrivaled until it entered the repertoires of metal virtuosos like Eddie Van Halen, and his wild showmanship made an enormous impression on the young Jimi Hendrix. But those aren’t the only reasons Dale was once called the father of heavy metal. Working closely with the Fender company, Dale continually pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing the thick, clearly defined tones he heard in his head, at the previously undreamed-of volumes he demanded. He also pioneered the use of portable reverb effects, creating a signature sonic texture for surf instrumentals. And, if all that weren’t enough, Dale managed to redefine his instrument while essentially playing it upside-down and backwards — he switched sides in order to play left-handed, but without re-stringing it (as Hendrix later did). “I once made a million dollars a year with my career,” Dale reminisced to the Los Angeles Times magazine in 2001. “I made $10,000 for three minutes work on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1963.”
Dale’s signature guitar style was the result of a happy accident. Most guitars are strung for a right-handed player. Dale, a lefty, originally picked up the guitar upside down so he could play naturally without restringing the instrument, leaving the thicker strings on the bottom of the fret board. “Nobody told me I was holding it wrong,” Dale explained to the Orange County Register in 2009. “I just taught myself to play it like that. It was hard at first.”
“Let’s Go Trippin'” was a huge local hit, and even charted nationally. Dale released a few more local singles, including “Jungle Fever,” “Miserlou,” and “Surf Beat,” and in 1962 issued his (and surf music’s) first album, the groundbreaking Surfer’s Choice, on Deltone. Surfer’s Choice sold like hotcakes around Southern California, which earned Dale a contract with Capitol Records and national distribution for the album. Dale was featured in Life magazine in 1963, which led to appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and the Frankie/Annette film Beach Party. Surf music became a national fad, with groups like the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean offering a vocal variant to complement the wave of instrumental groups, all of which were indebted in some way to Dale, who released the follow-up LP King of the Surf Guitar and went on to issue three more albums on Capitol through 1965. But the British Invasion began to steal much of surf’s thunder, and soon Dale was dropped by Capitol in 1965. He remained a wildly popular local act, but in that same year he was diagnosed with rectal cancer, which forced him to temporarily retire from music.
Doctors told the guitarist that without aggressive surgery, he could be dead in a matter of months. He survived, but the cancer bout whittled Dale from 158 pounds to 98 pounds, and also drained his bank account of his pop star proceeds. He moved to Hawaii and stayed away from music for a number of years. He beat the disease, however, and soon began pursuing other interests: owning and caring for a variety of endangered animals, studying martial arts, designing his parents’ dream house, and learning to pilot planes. In 1979, a puncture wound suffered while surfing off Newport Beach led to a pollution-related infection that nearly cost him his leg; Dick Dale soon added environmental activist to his resume. In addition to all of that, he performed occasionally around Southern California throughout the ’70s and ’80s. In 1986, Dale attempted to mount a comeback. He first recorded a benefit single for the UC-Irvine Medical Center’s burn unit (which had helped him recuperate from potentially serious injuries), and the following year appeared in the beach movie Back to the Beach. The soundtrack featured a duet between Dale and Stevie Ray Vaughan on, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental. In 1991, Dale did a guest spot on an album by the San Francisco-based Psychefunkapus, and a successful Bay Area gig got him signed with Hightone Records.
The album Tribal Thunder was released in 1993, but Dale’s comeback didn’t get into full swing until “Miserlou” was chosen as the opening theme to Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster 1994 film ‘Pulp Fiction’. “Miserlou” became synonymous with Pulp Fiction’s ultra-hip sense of style, and was soon licensed in countless commercials (as were several other Daletracks). As a result, Tribal Thunder and its 1994 follow-up, Unknown Territory, attracted lots of attention, earning positive reviews and surprisingly strong sales. In 1996, he supported the Beggars Banquet album Calling Up Spirits by joining the normally punk- and ska-oriented Warped Tour. Adding his wife and young drum-playing son to his band, Dale refocused on touring over the next few years. He finally returned with a new CD in 2001,’ Spacial Disorientation’, issued on the small Sin-Drome label. Dale stepped away from his recording career after that release, but he continued to play out frequently, even as he struggled with myriad health problems, including diabetes, rectal cancer, and heart and kidney disease. Dale still had a busy schedule of concert dates on his schedule when he died on March 16, 2019, at the age of 81.
Tributes have begun popping up online, with many celebrating his distinctive sound. But the musician’s life story was also a constant struggle against health problems — and to pay medical bills. After his first cancer diagnosis in 1965, Dale continued to battle the disease. Up until the end of his life, Dale was explicit that he toured to fund his treatment.
“I can’t stop touring because I will die. Physically and literally, I will die,” he told the Pittsburgh City Paper in 2015. “Sure, I’d love to stay home and build ships in a bottle and spend time with my wife in Hawaii, but I have to perform to save my life.”
Peter Tork (The Monkees) was born Peter Halsten Thorkelson on February 13, 1942 in Washington DC. His father John taught economics at the University of Connecticut. He began studying piano at the age of nine, showing an aptitude for music by learning to play several different instruments, including the banjo, French horn and both acoustic bass and guitars. Tork attended Windham High School in Willimantic, Connecticut, and was a member of the first graduating class at E. O. Smith High School in Storrs, Connecticut. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota but, after flunking out, moved to New York City, where he became part of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village and with his guitar and five-string banjo he began playing small folk clubs. He billed himself as Tork, a nickname handed down by his father, and reportedly played with members of the soon-to-be formed band Lovin’ Spoonful (Summer in the City). While there, he befriended other up-and-coming musicians such as Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills Nash and Young).When Tork “failed to break open the folk circuit,” as he later phrased it, he moved to Long Beach, California in mid-1965. Later that summer, he fielded two calls from his friend Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), who had auditioned with more than 400 others for the Monkees. Stills urged Tork to try out. “They told Steve, ‘Your hair and teeth aren’t photogenic, but do you know anyone who looks like you that can sing?’ And Steve told them about me,” Tork told the Washington Post in 1983.
November 3, 2018 –Glenn Schwartz (the James Gang) was born on March 20, 1940 in Cleveland Ohio. While in Los Angeles on tour with the James Gang in 1967, Schwartz strolled onto the infamous Sunset Strip and stopped next to a small group of people listening to street preacher Arthur Blessitt, according to Stevenson’s book. Some time later he professed conversion to Christianity, saying “I was finally blessed by mercy for I heard the Gospel of Christ.”
Following his conversion, his zealous, new-found faith was not accepted well by the band, his family or his friends. As per Stevenson, Schwartz said: “I had some Christian friends who had some round stickers that read ‘Real Peace Is In Jesus’ and we stuck those all over our clothes … We put some on Janis Joplin but she didn’t like it and took them off. I remember she got pretty upset. Continue reading Glenn Schwartz 11/2018
Tony Joe White – October 24, 2018 was born on July 23, 1943, in Oak Grove, Louisiana as the youngest of seven children who grew up on a cotton farm. He first began performing music at school dances, and after graduating from high school he performed in night clubs in Texas and Louisiana.
As a singer-songwriter and guitarist, he became best known for his 1969 hit “Polk Salad Annie” and for “Rainy Night in Georgia”, which he wrote but was first made popular by Brook Benton in 1970. He also wrote “Steamy Windows” and “Undercover Agent for the Blues”, both hits for Tina Turner in 1989; those two songs came by way of Turner’s producer at the time, Mark Knopfler, who was a friend of White. “Polk Salad Annie” was also recorded by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.
In 1967, White signed with Monument Records, which operated from a recording studio in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tennessee, and produced a variety of sounds, including rock and roll, country and western, and rhythm and blues. Billy Swan was his producer.
Over the next three years, White released four singles with no commercial success in the U.S., although “Soul Francisco” was a hit in France. “Polk Salad Annie” had been released for nine months and written off as a failure by his record label, when it finally entered the U.S. charts in July 1969. It climbed to the Top Ten by early August, and eventually reached No. 8, becoming White’s biggest hit.
White’s first album, 1969’s Black and White, was recorded with Muscle Shoals/Nashville musicians David Briggs, Norbert Putnam, and Jerry Carrigan, and featured “Willie and Laura Mae Jones” and “Polk Salad Annie”, along with a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman”. “Willie and Laura Mae Jones” was covered by Dusty Springfield and released as a single, later added to reissues of her 1969 album Dusty in Memphis.
Three more singles quickly followed, all minor hits, and White toured with Steppenwolf, Anne Murray, Sly & the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival and other major rock acts of the 1970s, playing in France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and England.
In 1973, White appeared in the film Catch My Soul, a rock-opera adaption of Shakespeare’s Othello. White played and sang four and composed seven songs for the musical.
In late September 1973, White was recruited by record producer Huey Meaux to sit in on the legendary Memphis sessions that became Jerry Lee Lewis’s landmark Southern Roots album.By all accounts, these sessions were a three-day, around-the-clock party, which not only reunited the original MGs (Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr. of Booker T. and the MGs fame) for the first time in three years, but also featured Carl Perkins, Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere & the Raiders), and Wayne Jackson plus The Memphis Horns.
From 1976 to 1983, White released three more albums, each on a different label. Trying to combine his own swamp-rock sound with the popular disco music at the time, the results were not met with success and White gave up his career as a singer and concentrated on writing songs. During this time frame, he collaborated with American expat Joe Dassin on his only English-language album, Home Made Ice Cream, and its French-language counterpart Blue Country.
In 1989, White produced one non-single track on Tina Turner’s Foreign Affair album, the rest of the album was produced by Dan Hartman. Playing a variety of instruments on the album, he also wrote four songs, including the title song and the hit single “Steamy Windows”. As a result of this he became managed by Roger Davies, who was Turner’s manager at the time, and he obtained a new contract with Polydor.
The resulting album, 1991’s Closer to the Truth, was a commercial successand put White back in the spotlight. He released two more albums for Polydor; The Path of a Decent Groove and Lake Placid Blues which was co-produced by Roger Davies.
In the 1990s, White toured Germany and France with Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton, and in 1992 he played the Montreux Festival.
In 1996, Tina Turner released the song “On Silent Wings” written by White.
In 2000, Hip-O Records released One Hot July in the U.S., giving White his first new major-label domestic release in 17 years. The critically acclaimed The Beginningappeared on Swamp Records in 2001, followed by Heroines, featuring several duets with female vocalists including Jessi Colter, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Michelle White, on Sanctuary in 2004, and a live Austin City Limits concert, Live from Austin, TX, on New West Records in 2006. In 2004, White was the featured guest artist in an episode of the Legends Rock TV Show and Concert Series, produced by Megabien Entertainment.
In 2007, White released another live recording, Take Home the Swamp, as well as the compilation Introduction to Tony Joe White. Elkie Brooks recorded one of White’s songs, “Out of The Rain”, on her 2005 Electric Lady album. On July 14, 2006, in Magny-Cours, France, White performed as a warm-up act for Roger Waters’ The Dark Side of the Moon concert. White’s album, entitled Uncovered, was released in September 2006 and featured collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald, Eric Clapton, and J.J. Cale.
The song “Elements and Things” from the 1969 album …Continued features prominently during the horse-racing scenes in the 2012 HBO television series “Luck”.
In 2013, White signed to Yep Roc Records and released Hoodoo.Mother Jones called the album “Steamy, Irresistible” and No Depression noted Tony Joe White is “the real king of the swamp.” He also made his Live…with Jools Holland debut in London, playing songs from Hoodoo.
On October 15, 2014, White appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman alongside the Foo Fighters to perform “Polk Salad Annie”. Pointing to White, Letterman told his TV audience, “Holy cow! … If I was this guy, you could all kiss my ass. And I mean that.”
In May 2016, Tony Joe White released Rain Crow on Yep Roc Records. The lead track “Hoochie Woman” was co-written with his wife, Leann. The track “Conjure Child” is a follow up to an earlier song, “Conjure Woman.
The album Bad Mouthin’ was released in September 2018 again on Yep Roc Records. The album contains six self-penned songs and five blues standards written by, amongst others, Charley Patton and John Lee Hooker. On the album White also performs a cover of the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel”. White plays acoustic and electric guitar on the album which was produced by his son Jody White and has a signature Tony Joe White laid back sound.
White died of a heart attack on October 24, 2018, at the age of 75
Ed King, ( Lynyrd Skynyrd/Strawberry Alarm Clock) – September 14, 1949 – August 22, 2018 was born in Glendale California and a guitar prodigy from early on in his life. Not even 18 years old, he became a founding member of the Los Angeles band Strawberry Alarm Clock, remembered for their 1967 #1 single “Incense and Peppermints.”
King met members of the future Lynyrd Skynyrd when they were opening for Strawberry Alarm Clock in early 1968. When Strawberry Alarm Clock disbanded, he became an official member of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1972, replacing Leon Wilkeson on bass when Leon had left the band briefly. When Wilkeson rejoined the band King switched to lead guitar turning Skynyrd into the “guitar army” band, famous for its guitar fireworks.
He helped write “Sweet Home Alabama” in 1974; the song became one of Skynyrd’s strongest hits and a staple of rock guitarists everywhere. It is King’s voice heard counting off 1-2-3 at the beginning of “Sweet Home Alabama.” Other songs that King wrote or co-wrote include “Poison Whiskey”, “Saturday Night Special”, “Whiskey Rock-a-Roller” and “Workin’ For MCA”. He appeared on the band’s first three albums, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, Second Helping, and Nuthin’ Fancy.
Ed King quit Lynyrd Skynyrd pretty much at the peak of their fame, mainly because he finally got fed up with Ronnie Van Zant’s mercurial ways.
Skynyrd had three guitarists — at that point, King and founding members Gary Rossington and Allen Collins — but King was an outsider from the start. All of the other band members had grown up in the same part of Jacksonville, Florida, while King wasn’t even a Southerner, but a native of Glendale, California. He was marvelously talented — that riff in “Sweet Home Alabama”? That was King’s creation — and he was valued for his abilities as both a musician and a songwriter, but he was never really “one of the gang”.
Of writing the song with bandmate Ronnie Van Zant, King claimed, “we wrote that song in half an hour, but it took us about a half a day to put it together. The song came real quick. I started off with that riff and Ronnie was sitting on the edge of the couch, making this signal to me to just keep rolling it over and over.”
In an interview shortly before his death from cancer in 2018, King pointed to the below photo as being illustrative of his place in the band — all by himself to the left, with the other guys all standing side by side:
In March of 1975, during a show in Ann Arbor, Michigan, King snapped two guitar strings while playing “Free Bird”, throwing off his performance. According to King, his guitar tech had not been around to change his strings because he had been thrown in jail, along with Van Zant, following an altercation with police.
Ronnie didn’t care why King’s strings broke; all he knew was that Ed had fucked up. He unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse on King, including such colorful pronouncements as “you don’t amount to a pimple on Allen’s ass”.
Following the incident, King said he returned to his hotel room, thinking “what the hell am I doing here?”, packed his belongings, and left without a word, leaving his bandmates to wake up the next morning to find out he was gone (and Rossington and Collins to scramble to rearrange the songs to make up for King’s absence).
About the decision to leave the band, King said “well, I was out of my mind for quitting. But it was the best thing I ever did. It just got a little too nutty for me. So, in the middle of the night, I just walked out. It had been a bad night the night before. I had gotten fed up with frankly all the violence. I had good reason to leave.”
King was ultimately replaced by Steve Gaines in 1976; Gaines would die in the 1977 plane crash that also killed his sister Cassie and Van Zant. King said he visited the cemetery after the crash to pay his respects, and it was then that he discovered that he and Steve had been born on exactly the same day: September 14, 1949. He felt he had dodged a huge bullet by quitting when he did.
King would later reconcile with the other band members, and rejoined them when they reformed Skynyrd in 1987, but had to leave the band due to to congestive heart failure problems in 1996. He had a heart transplant surgery in 2011. Both he and Gaines were among the band members inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
He died, presumably from cancer at his Nashville home on August 22, 2018.
Founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd Gary Rossington released a message on Twitter: ” I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened. Ed was our brother, and a great Songwriter and Guitar player. I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock & Roll Heaven.”
Preston Shannon was born October 23, 1947 in Olive Branch, Miss., Shannon moved to Memphis at the age of 8. While his family was steeped in the culture and music of the Pentecostal church, it was blues and R&B that fired Shannon’s imagination.
Shannon first gained notice in the 1980s as a member of local group Amnesty while still working as a hardware salesman. His big break came after being discovered by soul singer Shirley Brown. Shannon’s distinctive vocals, often described as “a cross between Bobby Womack and Otis Redding” and supple guitar playing, set him on the path professionally.
In the early-’90s, Shannon stepped out on his own, launching a long run as one of the featured acts on Beale Street. Over the next three decades, Shannon would cut a familiar figure in the clubs on Beale, serving as a kind of musical ambassador to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who would visit each year. His efforts would earn Shannon the nickname “The King of Beale Street.”
In the ’90s, Shannon also began his solo recording career. Signing with indie label Rounder Records in 1994, he released his critically acclaimed debut, “Break the Ice,” featuring contributions from the Memphis Horns.
In 1993, his own Preston Shannon Band played at the Long Beach Blues Festival in Long Beach, California. After being spotted leading his own band in Memphis’ Beale Street clubs, he signed to Rounder Records subsidiary, Bullseye Blues, and released his debut solo effort, Break the Ice in 1994.
After this followed the Willie Mitchell produced efforts, Midnight in Memphis (1996) and All in Time (1999). However, with no immediate follow-up available, Preston lost momentum.Shannon’s next effort, 1996’s “Midnight in Memphis,” was produced by Hi Records legend Willie Mitchell, who would prove a frequent collaborator. The pair reunited for Shannon’s 1999’s record “All in Time.” Shannon would release a number of lauded albums over the years, including his 2014 tribute to Chicago bluesman Elmore James, titled “Dust My Broom.”
Among the songs he wrote are “Beale Street Boogaloo” and “Midnight in Memphis“.He was born in Olive Branch, Mississippi and relocated with his family to nearby Memphis, Tennessee at the age of eight.
After moving to Title Tunes, he released Be with Me Tonight (2006).
Shannon played at Memphis in May in both 2008 and 2011. In February 2012, Shannon appeared on season two of The Voice, singing “In the Midnight Hour”.
He was a regular performer at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis. Shannon’s most recent album release was Dust My Broom (2014).
Preston died of cancer on January 22, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 70.
January 15, 2018 – Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries) was born Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan on September 6, 1971 brought up in Ballybricken, a town in County Limerick, Ireland. She was the daughter of Terence and Eileen O’Riordan and the youngest of seven children. She attended Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ school in Limerick.
In 1990 O’Riordan auditioned for and won the role of lead singer for a band called the Cranberry Saw Us (later changed to the Cranberries). The band became a sensation as it released five albums: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993), No Need to Argue (1994), To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999) and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001) and a greatest-hits compilation entitled Stars: The Best of 1992–2002 (2002), before they went on hiatus in 2003.
In 2004, she appeared with the Italian artist Zucchero on the album Zu & Co., with the song “Pure Love”. The album also featured other artists such as Sting, Sheryl Crow, Luciano Pavarotti, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Macy Gray and Eric Clapton. The same year she worked with composer Angelo Badalamenti on the Evilenko soundtrack, providing vocals on several tracks, including “Angels Go to Heaven”, the movie theme.
In 2005, she appeared on the Jam & Spoon’s album Tripomatic Fairytales 3003 as a guest vocalist on the track “Mirror Lover”. O’Riordan also made a cameo appearance in the Adam Sandler comedy Click, released on 23 June 2006, as a wedding singer performing an alternate version of The Cranberries’ song “Linger”, set to strings. Her first single, “Ordinary Day”, was produced by BRIT Awards winner, Youth, whose previous credits include The Verve, Embrace, Primal Scream, U2 and Paul McCartney. O’Riordan made an appearance live on The Late Late Show on 20 April 2007.
Are You Listening? , her first solo album was released in Ireland in 4 May 2007, in Europe on 7 May, and in North America on 15 May. “Ordinary Day” was its first single, released in late April. The video for “Ordinary Day” was shot in Prague. In August “When We Were Young” was released as the second single from the album.
On 19 November 2007, she cancelled the remainder of her European Tour (Lille, Paris, Luxembourg, Warsaw and Prague) due to illness. In December she performed in a few small American clubs, including Des Moines, Nashville, and a well-received free show in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 2008, O’Riordan won an EBBA Award. Every year the European Border Breakers Awards recognise the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.
Dolores O’Riordan was known for her lilting mezzo-soprano voice, her emphasized use of yodeling and for her strong Limerick accent. In January 2009, the University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin) invited The Cranberries to reunite for a concert celebrating O’Riordan’s appointment as an honorary member of the Society, which led the band members to consider reuniting for a tour and a recording session. On 25 August 2009, while promoting her solo album No Baggage in New York City on 101.9 RXP radio, O’Riordan announced the reunion of the Cranberries for a world tour. The tour began in North America in mid-November, followed by South America in mid-January 2010 and Europe in March 2010. Also touring with the original members of The Cranberries was Denny DeMarchi, who played the keyboard for O’Riordan’s solo albums.
The band played songs from O’Riordan’s solo albums, many of the Cranberries’ classics, as well as new songs the band had been working on. On 9 June 2010 The Cranberries performed at the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Thomond Park in Limerick. This was the first time the band had performed in their native city in over 15 years.
She appeared as a judge on RTÉ’s The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season. Dolores O’Riordan began recording new material with JETLAG, a collaboration between Andy Rourke of The Smiths and Ole Koretsky, in April 2014. They then formed a trio under the name D.A.R.K. Their first album, Science Agrees, was released in September 2016.
On 26 May 2016, the band announced that they planned to start a tour in Europe. The first show was held on 3 June.
On the Personal Note:
On 18 July 1994, O’Riordan married Don Burton, the former tour manager of Duran Duran. The couple had three children. In 1998, the couple bought a 61-hectare (150-acre) stud farm, called Riversfield Stud, located in Kilmallock, County Limerick, selling it in 2004. They then moved to Howth, County Dublin, and spent summers in a log cabin in Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada. In 2009, the family moved full-time to Buckhorn.
In August 2013, she returned to live in Ireland. She and Burton split up in 2014 after 20 years together, and subsequently divorced. She was raised as a Roman Catholic. Her mother was a devout Catholic who chose her daughter’s name in reference to the Lady of the Seven Dolours. Dolores admired Pope John Paul II, whom she met twice, in 2001 and 2002. She performed at the invitation of Pope Francis in 2013 at the Vatican’s annual Christmas concert.
In November 2014, O’Riordan was arrested and charged in connection with air rage on an Aer Lingus flight from New York to Shannon. During the flight she grew verbally and physically abusive with the crew. When police were arresting her after landing, she resisted, reminding them her taxes paid their wages and shouting “I’m the Queen of Limerick! I’m an icon!”, headbutting one Garda officer and spitting at another. Later she told the media that she had been stressed from living in New York hotels following the end of her 20-year marriage. The judge hearing her case agreed to dismiss all charges if she apologised in writing to those she injured and contributed €6,000 to the court poor box.
In May 2017, she publicly discussed her bipolar disorder, which she said had been diagnosed two years earlier. That same month, the Cranberries cited her back problems as the reason for cancelling the second part of the group’s European tour. In late 2017, O’Riordan said she was recovering and performed at a private event.
On 15 January 2018, at the age of 46, while in London for a recording session, Dolores O’Riordan died unexpectedly at the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel in Mayfair. The cause of death was accidental drowning in a bathtub, following sedation by alcohol intoxication.
Eddie Shaw was born on March 20, 1937 in Stringtown, Mississippi. In his teenage years, Shaw played tenor saxophone with local blues musicians, such as Little Milton and Willie Love. At the age of 14, he played in a jam session in Greenville, Mississippi, with Ike Turner’s band. At a gig in Itta Bena, Mississippi, when the then 20-year-old Shaw performed, Muddy Waters invited him to join his Chicago-based band.
In Waters’s band, Shaw divided the tenor saxophone position with A.C. Reed. In 1972 he joined Howlin’ Wolf, leading his band, the Wolf Gang, and writing half the songs on The Back Door Wolf (1973). After the singer’s death in 1976 he took over the band and its residency at the 1815 Club, renamed Eddie’s Place. Shaw led the band on Living Chicago Blues Vol. 1 and Have Blues – Will Travel (1980) and recorded albums with different backing for Isabel Records, Rooster Blues, and Wolf Records.
Shaw’s own recording career started in the late 1970s, with an appearance on the Alligator Records anthology Living Chicago Blues (1978) and his own LPs for Evidence and Rooster Blues, and more recent discs for Rooster Blues (In the Land of the Crossroads) and Wolf (Home Alone).
Shaw’s many contributions to the blues included arranging tracks for The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions (which featured Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr and others) and performing with blues notables, including Hound Dog Taylor, Freddie King, Otis Rush and Magic Sam (on his Black Magic album).
In 2013 and 2014, Shaw won the Blues Music Award in the category Instrumentalist – Horn. May 3 is Eddie Shaw Day in Chicago, by proclamation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Shaw died on January 29, 2018, at the age of 80.
One of his sons, Eddie “Vaan” Shaw Jr. (born November 6, 1955), joined the Wolf Gang and played on some of his father’s recordings. A disciple of Wolf’s protégé Hubert Sumlin who passed away on December 4, 2011, he has recorded two albums of his own – Morning Rain and The Trail of Tears.
Another son, Stan Shaw (born 1952), is a character actor based in Hollywood, California. (this made him father at the age of 15!)
January 4, 2018 – Ray Thomas (the Moody Blues) was born on December 29, 1941 in Stourport-on-Severn, England, of Welsh descent.
In the 1960s Thomas joined the Birmingham Youth Choir then began singing with various Birmingham blues and soul groups including The Saints and Sinners and The Ramblers. Taking up the harmonica he started a band, El Riot and the Rebels, with bass guitarist John Lodge. After a couple of years their friend Mike Pinder joined as keyboardist. El Riot and the Rebels once opened for The Beatles in Tenbury Wells; Thomas and Pinder were later in a band called Krew Cats, formed in 1963, who played in Hamburg and other places in northern Germany.Thomas and Pinder then recruited guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick to form a new, blues-based band, The Moody Blues. Signed to Decca Records, their first album, The Magnificent Moodies, yielded a No. 1 UK hit (No. 10 in the US) with “Go Now”. Thomas sang lead vocals on George and Ira Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from the musical Porgy and Bess.
When Warwick left the band (followed by Laine a few months later) he was briefly replaced by Rod Clark. Thomas then suggested his and Pinder’s old bandmate John Lodge as a permanent replacement and also recruited Justin Hayward to replace Laine. Hayward had actually given his demo tape to Eric Burden and the Animals, and Burden passed the tape on to the Moodies, as he had already hired a guitarist. With this line-up the band released seven successful albums between 1967 and 1972 and became known for their pioneering orchestral sound.
Although they initially tried to continue singing R&B covers and novelty tunes, they were confronted over this by an audience member, and with their finances deteriorating they made a conscious decision to focus only on their own original material.
Following the lead of Pinder, Hayward, and Lodge, Thomas also started writing songs. The first he contributed to the group’s repertoire were “Another Morning” and “Twilight Time” on the album Days of Future Passed. His flute had featured on three songs on the debut album—”Something You Got”, “I’ve Got a Dream”, and “Let Me Go”—as well as the single “From the Bottom of My Heart”, but it would become an integral part of the band’s music, even as Pinder started to use the Mellotron keyboard. Thomas has stated that a number of his compositions on the band’s earlier albums were made in a studio broom closet, with Thomas writing songs on a glockenspiel. Hayward has spoken of Thomas’s learning transcendental meditation in 1967, along with other members of the group.
Thomas and Pinder both acted as the band’s onstage emcees, as heard on the live album Caught Live + 5 and seen in the Live at the Isle of Wight Festival DVD. Thomas started to become a more prolific writer for the group, penning songs such as “Legend of a Mind”—an ode to LSD guru and friend of the band, Timothy Leary, and a popular live favorite—and “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume” for In Search of the Lost Chord, “Dear Diary” and “Lazy Day” for On the Threshold of a Dream as well as co-writing “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” with Hayward.
The Moody Blues formed their own record label Threshold Records, distributed by Decca in the UK and London in the US, and their first album on the Threshold imprint was To Our Children’s Children’s Children, a concept album about eternal life. Thomas wrote and sang “Floating” and “Eternity Road”.
When the band began to realize that their method of heavy overdubbing in the studio made most of the songs very difficult to reproduce in concert, they decided to use a more stripped-down sound on their next album A Question of Balance, to be able to play as many songs live as possible. It was their second UK No. 1 album. Thomas wrote and sang “And the Tide Rushes In”, reportedly written after having a fight with his wife, and was credited with co-writing the album’s final track “The Balance” with Edge, while Pinder recited the story.
The Moodies went back to their symphonic sound and heavy overdubbing with Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, their third UK No. 1 album, and Thomas wrote and sang “Our Guessing Game” and “Nice to Be Here”, also singing a co-lead vocal with Pinder, Hayward and Lodge on Edge’s “After You Came”. All five members wrote “Procession”.
The final album of the ‘core seven’ was Seventh Sojourn, their first album to reach No. 1 in the USA. By this time, Pinder had replaced his mellotron with the chamberlin, which produced orchestral sounds more realistically and easily than the mellotron. Thomas wrote and sang “For My Lady”.
Thomas released the albums From Mighty Oaks (1975) and Hopes Wishes and Dreams (1976) after the band temporarily broke up in 1974. During this period he earned his nickname ‘The Flute’. Within the band he was also known as ‘Tomo’ (pronounced tOm-O). The band reformed in 1977 for Octave, which was released in 1978. Thomas provided the songs “Under Moonshine” and “I’m Your Man”, and the group continued to release albums throughout the 1980s, with Thomas’s “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” and “Painted Smile” being featured on the album Long Distance Voyager. The former song has often been regarded as a theme song for the band itself as a whole and for Thomas in particular, and it again features his use of the harmonica. After contributing “Sorry” and “I Am” (both on the 1983 album The Present), Thomas temporarily stopped writing new songs for the band, for reasons unknown. He took featured lead vocal on Graeme Edge‘s song “Going Nowhere” (on The Present).
During the group’s synth-pop era, Thomas’s role in the recording studio began increasingly to diminish, partially due to the band’s synth-pop music being unsuitable for his flute and partially because he was also unwell during this period, meaning that his involvement in recording sessions was further limited. Despite contributing backing vocals on The Other Side of Life and Sur la Mer, he took no lead vocal role and it is unclear how much, if any, instrumentation he recorded for these two albums; but in any case, none of his instrumentation or vocals ended up on Sur la Mer. Although he is included in the childhood photos depicted on the album’s inner sleeve and is given an overall ‘group credit’, significantly (unlike the others) he is then not given an actual performing band credit at all. Patrick Moraz, who had replaced Pinder as the band’s keyboardist, objected to Thomas’s exclusion from the album and pushed for the band to return to the deeper sound that they had achieved with Pinder. It is possible that during the sessions for The Other Side of Life Thomas contributed tambourine, harmonica or saxophone, but it is unknown how many, if any, instrumental contributions of his ended up on the released version of the album, and at this point he was largely relegated to the role of a backup singer.
On The Moody Blues’ 1991 release Keys of the Kingdom, Thomas played a substantial role in the studio for the first time since 1983, writing “Celtic Sonant” and co-writing “Never Blame the Rainbows for the Rain” with Justin Hayward. He contributed his first ambient flute piece in eight years; however, his health declined and his last album with the group was Strange Times to which he contributed his final compositions for the group. He also provided a co-lead vocal with Hayward and Lodge on their song “Sooner or Later (Walking On Air)”.
Thomas permanently retired at the end of 2002. In a 2014 interview with Pollstar.com, drummer Graeme Edge stated that Thomas had retired due to illness. The Moody Blues – consisting only of Hayward, Lodge and Edge (Edge being the only remaining original member) plus four long-serving touring band members, including Gordon Marshall on percussion and Norda Mullen who took over Thomas’ flute parts – have released one studio album, December, since his departure from the band.
In July 2009 it became known that Thomas had written at least two of his songs– “Adam and I” and “My Little Lovely”– for his son and his grandson Robert, respectively. It was also revealed that he had married again, to his longtime girlfriend Lee Lightle, in a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Cross in Mwnt, Wales, on 9 July 2009.
Thomas released his two solo albums, remastered, in a boxset on 24 September 2010. The set includes, with the two albums, a remastered quad version of “From Mighty Oaks”, a new song “The Trouble With Memories”, a previously unseen promo video of “High Above My Head” and an interview conducted by fellow Moody Blues founder Mike Pinder. The boxset was released through Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red Records.
In October 2014, Thomas posted this statement on his website:”After the tragic death of Alvin Stardust and the brave response to Prostate Awareness by his widow, Julie, in following up on what Alvin had intended to say about the disease, I have decided to help in some small way. I was diagnosed in September 2013 with prostate cancer. My cancer was in-operable but I have a fantastic doctor who immediately started me on a new treatment that has had 90% success rate. The cancer is being held in remission but I’ll be receiving this treatment for the rest of my life. I have four close friends who have all endured some kind of surgery or treatment for this cancer and all are doing well. While I don’t like to talk publicly about my health problems, after Alvin’s death, I decided it was time I spoke out. A cancer diagnosis can shake your world and your family’s but if caught in time it can be cured or held in remission. I urge all males to get tested NOW. Don’t put it off by thinking it won’t happen to me. It needs to be caught early. It’s only a blood test – a few minutes out your day to save yourself from this disease. Love and God Bless, Ray.”
Thomas died on 4 January 2018 of prostate cancer, at his home in Surrey, at the age of 76.
Although he most commonly played flute, Thomas was a multi-instrumentalist, who also played piccolo, oboe, harmonica, saxophone, and, on the album In Search of the Lost Chord, the French horn. He frequently played tambourine and also shook maracas during the group’s R&B phase. The 1972 video for “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” features Thomas playing the baritone saxophone, although Mike Pinder says on his website that this was just for effect in the video and that Thomas did not play saxophone on the recording.
December 30, 2017 – Lord Luther McDaniels, lead singer of vocal group the 4 Deuces, was born in Panola County, Texas in 1938. He never knew his father, who was killed in an accident soon after Luther was born. Mostly raised by his grandmother, he joined the Mitchell Brothers gospel group when he was about 11 or 12. While Luther had no musical training, he still traveled with the group all over East Texas, appearing in many gospel group “battles.” Around the end of World War 2, his mother remarried and moved to Salinas, California, about a hundred miles south of San Francisco (his new stepfather was stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey, only a few miles away). Luther went to California, decided he didn’t like it, went back to Texas, decided California wasn’t that bad, and returned to California to stay, settling in the fertile Salinas Valley south of the Bay Area, a region often referred to as America’s Salad Bowl. Continue reading Lord Luther McDaniels 12/2017
December 13, 2017 – Warrel Dane (Sanctuary/Nevermore) was born on March 7, 1961 as Warrel G. Baker in Seattle, Washington.
Warell, who first came to fame as the high-pitched singer of Serpent’s Knight, was famed for his vocal range and had originally trained for five years as an opera singer and utilized a very broad vocal range, spanning from notes as low as the G♯ below low C, or G♯1, to notes as high as the B♭ below soprano C, or B♭5. While his high head voice style vocals were much more prominent in the older Sanctuary albums, there were instances where he utilized it in Nevermore as well. Later in his career, Dane became more notable for his distinctively deep, dramatic voice. He cited Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Jefferson Airplane, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Doors as his musical influences and Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson as his main vocal inspirations. Continue reading Warrel Dane 12/2017
December 12, 2017 – Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens) was born October 12, 1955 in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, where he actually lived his entire life. As a youngster, he was inspired by the pop music emanating from his transistor radio in the ‘60s and the hit tunes being written by his musical idols Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and The Beau Brummels among others.
He began playing music with several local bands in the early 1970s, but got serious around 1975 when he joined three classmates from nearby Cateret High School – guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros and drummer Dennis Diken and formed the Smithereens. That lineup would remain in place for nearly 25 years. Continue reading Pat DiNizio 12/2017
December 8, 2017 – Vincent Nguini (Guitarist For Paul Simon) was born in Obala, Cameroon, West Africa in July 1952. Music and the understanding of it was the driving force behind his life’s ambitions from very early on.
He traveled around Africa in the early and mid-1970s, learning many regional guitar styles, before relocating to Paris in 1978. In Paris, long a recording center for music from French-speaking Africa, he studied music and did studio work with many African musicians. He joined the band of the Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, who had an international hit in 1972 with “Soul Makossa,” and soon became its musical director. Continue reading Vincent Nguini 12/2017
December 5, 2017 – Johnny Halliday was born Jean-Philippe Léo Smet on June 15, 1943 in Paris. His father was Belgian and his mother French. took his stage name from A cousin-in-law from Oklahoma, USA who performed as Lee Halliday called Smet “Johnny” and became a father figure, introducing him to American music. And the name Johnny Halliday was born. Continue reading Johnny Halliday 12/2017
November 30, 2017 – Zé Pedro (Xutos & Pontapés) was born José Amaro dos Santos Reis on September 14, 1956 in Lisbon Portugal.
Times were difficult as Portugal suffered under a right wing dictatorship and personal freedom was of no consequence. Dictator Salazar is firmly in power and crushes anything that does not fit his agenda without mercy: including the arrival of rock and roll. Using his heavy handed censorship and ubiquitous secret police to quell any type of opposition, life in Portugal was a far cry from today’s laid back holiday atmosphere.
November 27, 2017 – Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell (the Young Rascals) was born on the 29th of December 1950 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Popwell started his career in the ’60s. He quickly got work in the jazz and R&B worlds.
As a member of the house band The Macon Rhythm Section (with Johnny Sandlin, Pete Carr, Paul Hornsby and Jim Hawkins) for the Capricorn Records Studio in Macon Georgia, from 1968 he recorded with Doris Duke, Hubert Laws, Deryll Inman, The Atlanta Disco Band, Johnny Jenkins, and Livingston Taylor. Continue reading Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell 11/2017
November 24, 2017 – Mitch Margo (The Tokens) was born on May 25, 1947 in New York City. He began singing a cappella at age 9 alongside his brother Phil.
Young Margo learned to play piano in those early days, but over the years established himself as a multi-instrumentalist, also playing guitar, bass, drums and percussion.
Margo was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn when he and his brother joined the Linc-Tones, also featuring Neal Sedaka, Hank Mendress and original member Tokens founder Jay Siegel, who soon renamed themselves the Tokens and recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while Mitch was just 14 years old. Continue reading Mitch Margo 11/2017
November 22, 2017 – Tommy Keene was born on June 30, 1958 in Evanston, Illinois and raised and graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland (class of 1976), (which was also the alma mater of fellow musician Nils Lofgren). Keene played drums in one version of Lofgren’s early bands but moved to guitar later when he attended the University of Maryland.
Keene launched his career in the late-‘70s as a guitarist with a series of Washington D.C.-area combos including the Rage and the Razz, before hitting the national scene as a solo act in 1982 with the release of his debut Strange Alliance. He actually first received critical acclaim with his The Razz, who released several local independent singles.Continue reading Tommy Keene 11/2017
November 21, 2017 – David Cassidy (The Partridge Family) was born on April 12, 1950 in New York, New York with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was singer/actor Jack Cassidy and his mother actress Evelyn Ward.
As his parents were frequently touring on the road, he spent his early years being raised by his maternal grandparents in a middle-class neighborhood in West Orange, New Jersey. In 1956, he found out from neighbors’ children that his parents had been divorced for over two years and had not told him. David’s parents had decided because he was at such a young age, it would be better for his emotional stability to not discuss it at that time. They were gone often with theater productions and home life remained the same. Many years later, after his father’s death, he found out that his father was bi-sexual with many homosexual encounters.Continue reading David Cassidy 11/2017
November 21, 2017 – Wayne Cochran (The CC Riders) was born Talvin Wayne Cochran near Macon, Georgia, and grew up in roughly the same environs his idol James Brown and friend Otis Redding had, be it on the other side of the tracks.
After getting his start with various rock’n’roll outfits, in 1959 Cochran cut his first disc and the next five years would witness a succession of releases, most of which only made regional noise at best. One item however, would ultimately become Cochran’s greatest success, though in someone else’s hands. His lightly morbid but undeniably catchy original ‘Last Kiss’ hit the top of the charts in the summer of 1964 in a faithful treatment by Texans J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers. This classic “death disc” has since been covered by many, not least Pearl Jam, so at least the healthy royalties from whose versions, would come as an unforeseen blessing for Cochran in later years.
November 19, 2017 – Warren “Pete” Moore (the Miracles) was born on November 19, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan. A childhood friend of Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson, the two met at a musical event given by the Detroit Public School system, where Moore spotted Robinson singing as part of the show. The two became friends and formed a singing group, which eventually became the Miracles. Besides his work in the Miracles, Moore helped Miracles member Smokey Robinson write several hit songs, including The Temptations’ “It’s Growing” and “Since I Lost My Baby”, and two of Marvin Gaye’s biggest hits, the Top 10 million sellers, “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “I’ll Be Doggone”. Continue reading Warren “Pete” Moore 11/2017
November 16, 2017 – DikMik (Hawkwind) was born Michael Davies in 1943 in Richmond, England.
In 1969, DikMik Davies and friend Nik Turner signed on as roadies for the group that Dave Brock, a childhood friend of theirs, had formed with guitarist Mick Slattery, bassist John Harrison and drummer Terry Ollis.
It was the time of early psychedelics and electronic music and DikMik’s interest in the burgeoning genre of electronic music had led to him being offered a slot in the psychedelic space rock band Hawkwind, before even their first gig of .
Gatecrashing a local talent night at the All Saints Hall, Notting Hill, they were so disorganised as to not even have a name, opting for “Group X” at the last minute, nor any songs, choosing to play an extended 20-minute jam on The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High.” BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel was in the audience and was impressed enough to tell event organizer, Douglas Smith, to keep an eye on them. Continue reading DikMik 11/2017
November 12, 2017 – Chad Hanks (American Head Charge) was born in 1971 in Los Angeles, California.
With vocalist friend Cameron Heacock he formed American Head Charge in 1997 after they met in 1995 in rehab in Minneapolis and emerged as major players from the late ’90s nu-metal boom. The success of their 1999 indie debut, Trepanation, caught the ear of mega-producer Rick Rubin (Metallica, Beastie Boys, Chili Peppers), who signed the band to his American Recordings label and got the group out to his allegedly haunted Los Angeles mansion to record 2001’s “The War of Art.” Metal magazines Kerang and Rough Edge each gave the album four-star reviews (out of five), and VH1 picked it as one of the “12 Most Underrated Albums of Nü Metal.” Continue reading Chad Hanks 11/2017
November 9, 2017 – Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) was born December 26, 1959 in Hollywood, California, but raised in South Central Los Angeles and Venice. He was adopted at a very early age, as talked about in the Faith No More biography book, “The Real Story.” In a 2013 interview, Mosley said “My Parents met at some kind of socialist/communist get-together in the ’50s. They were interracial – my mom was Jewish and my dad was black and Native American. So that was something controversial in itself. My dad had a daughter and my mom had two daughters, and all they were missing was a boy, so they went out and adopted one, and it was me.”
Mosley first met Billy Gould in 1977, going to a The Zeros, Johnny Navotnee and Bags show. He then went on to play keyboards in Billy’s first band, The Animated, in 1979. In 1984 he joined Haircuts That Kill, a post-punk band from the San Francisco area, which lasted up until Mosley’s joining of Faith No More. He joined Faith No More in 1985 replacing, among others, Courtney Love (Hole) who had a brief stint as lead singer. AllMusic states that Mosley’s “out of tune” vocals for Faith No More are “an acquired taste to most.” Continue reading Chuck Mosley 11/2017
November 9, 2017 – Fred Cole was born August 28, 1948 in Tacoma, Washington and he moved with his mother to Las Vegas where he attended high school. Here he began his recording career in 1964, with his band, the Lords, at the Teenbeat Club, releasing a single titled “Ain’t Got No Self-Respect. “His next single, from 1965, was a promo-only called “Poverty Shack” b/w “Rover,” with a band named Deep Soul Cole.
In 1966 Cole’s band The Weeds gained notice in garage rock circles, and their only single, a 60s punk track called It’s Your Time (b/w Little Girl, Teenbeat Club Records), has become a collectors’ favorite. The A-side appeared on one of the Nuggets anthologies. The band was promised an opening slot on a Yardbirds bill at the Fillmore in San Francisco, but on their arrival found that the venue hadn’t heard of them. Continue reading Fred Cole 11/2017
November 9, 2017 – Hans Vermeulen (Sandy Coast) was born on September 18, 1947 in Voorburg, the Hague in the Netherlands. He grew up in what was to become the birthplace of Nederpop, which produced bands like Golden earring (Radar Love) and Shocking Blue (Venus), Q 65, Rob Hoeke and many others.
He scored hits like I See Your Face Again , Capital Punishment and my favorite True Love That’s a Wonder with his first group Sandy Coast which he had formed in 1961.
When the first run of late sixties rock and roll ran dry, Sandy Coast disbanded in the early seventies, and did not reform until 1981, with a big comeback hit. In 1975 Vermeulen founded Rainbow Train, a open door clearing house formation for musicians, in which he sang with his then-wife Dianne Marchal . In those years he made impact as a much in demand EMI producer for popular Dutch singers like Margriet Eshuijs (Lucifer) and Anita Meyer. For Meyer he wrote in 1976 the number 1 hit The Alternative Way, on which he also sang and for Eshuijs he produced the still today hugely popular “House for Sale” hit.Continue reading Hans Vermeulen – 11/2017
November 7, 2017 – Paul Buckmaster born on June 13, 1946 in London England.
At age four, Buckmaster started attending a small private school in London called the London Violoncello School, and continued studying cello under several private teachers until he was ten. In 1957, his mother, a concert pianist took him and his two siblings to Naples, where he auditioned with cello professor Willy La Volpe, to be assessed as eligible for a scholarship. After Paul’s attending classes over a two-month period, La Volpe determined that Paul was eligible for an Italian State scholarship, and for the next four years, he studied there eight months per year. This was a radically formative period, in which he deepened his love for the music of J. S. Bach, studying the unaccompanied cellos suites. It was during this period in Italy that Paul discovered his love for jazz. He then won a scholarship to study the cello at the Royal Academy of Music, from which he graduated with a performance diploma in 1967.Continue reading Paul Buckmaster 11/2017
November 7, 2017 – Pentti “Whitey” Glan was born on July 8, 1946 in Finland , just after World War II had come to an end and tensions with Russia were high. The family moved to Toronto Canada soon after.
Whitey Glan’s first serious band was the Canadian soul band The Rogues (later called Mandala) which he formed with keyboardist Josef Chirowski and bassist Don Elliot; they had worked together in other teenage bands like Whitey & The Roulettes. Mandala had their first hit single with “Opportunity” with original singer George Oliver, recorded at Chess Records.
In 1966 Glan played several shows with Mandala in Ontario and recorded the first two demo songs of his career (“I Can’t Hold Out No Longer” and “I’ll Make It Up To You”). Roy Kenner had replaced George Oliver. When they played their first shows in the USA they performed at the Whiskey A Go Go. They recorded their only album Soul Crusade in 1968 which produced a hit single (“Loveitis”) but they disbanded in 1969 after several line-up changes and poor album sales. Continue reading Whitey Glan 11/2017
October 22, 2017 – Scott Putesky (Marilyn Manson) aka Daisy Berkowitz was born on April 28, 1968 in Los Angeles, California.
After his high school years Putesky moved to Ft.Lauderdale and enrolled in a Graphic Design College. Putesky and Brian Warner (Marilyn Manson) met at a Fort Lauderdale club called The Reunion Room and later at a local after-party in December 1989. The two started creating the concept of Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids poking fun at American media hypocrisy and its obsessions with serial killers and beautiful women. (Marilyn Monroe vs Charles Manson and Daisy Duke vs David Berkowitz)
Putesky, who had at this point developed his own poetry but not yet worked lyrics into his music, began to meet up with Warner and brainstorm character and show/event ideas, after Warner asked for help starting a band as a creative outlet for his poetry writing. Continue reading Scott Putesky 10/2017
October 23, 2017 – George Young (with his bandmate and songwriting partner Harry Vanda-right in the picture) – Easybeats was born on November 6, 1946 in Glasgow Schotland. The lower middle class Young family were all musicians, but when the worst winter on record in Schotland arrived in post Christmas into January 1963, the family split as a result of 15 family members taking the opportunity to emigrate to Australia, including almost 16 year old George. Continue reading George Young 10/2017
October 21, 2017 – Martin Eric Ain was born Martin Stricker in the USA from Swiss parents on July 18, 1967. His mother was a Catholic religion teacher. She taught the catechism. Ain figured that most probably, the reason for him joining up with the arch rebel — Satan himself! — was because that was the most powerful force to oppose his mother.
I remember that traumatic experience being in a church, and there was this life-sized cross with this tormented human figure nailed, its limbs twisted and turned. I must have been about 5 or 6. That was really bizarre, having all those people around me being solemn in a way, but then, on the other hand, really getting joyous toward the end of that ritual about this person dying. And then going to the front of the church and coming back having devoured part of the body of that person. As a child, you take something like that quite literally, you know? And it was never really explained to me in a way that seemed really logical. I had nightmares. For me, religion didn’t have a redemptive quality. It didn’t help me to have a more positive outlook on life. It was a negative, oppressive kind of thing. Christ was a symbol of utter failure and absolute totalitarian control.
October 18, 2017 – Phil Miller (In Cahoots) was born on January 22, 1949 in Barnet, Hertfordshire, to Mavis (nee Dale), a librarian, and David Miller, a wartime lieutenant colonel in the Royal Marines and later head of commodities at the Stock Exchange. He was educated at Blackfriars boarding school, in Laxton, Northamptonshire, from where he occasionally truanted at night, hitch-hiking to London clubs to hear his musical heroes play, and returning unmissed in time for early-morning mass.
A self-taught guitarist, he formed his first band, Delivery, at 17, and played regularly upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s in London, backing visiting blues legends.
In 1971 he became a vital figure on the “Canterbury scene” when Robert Wyatt, who had just left Soft Machine, recruited Phil to join his new band, Matching Mole. The “scene”, noted for the frequent absence of the electric guitar as a lead instrument, boasted Phil as its undisputed exponent. Continue reading Phil Miller 10/2017
October 18, 2017 – Eamonn Campbell was born on November 29, 1946 in Drogheda in County Louth, but later moved to Walkinstown, a suburb of Dublin. He heard Elvis’ That’s All Right for the first time when he was 10; got his first guitar when he was 11 and taught himself how to play it in the next several year.
He had his first gig at 14 and never really looked back, even though there were early plans to take up accounting. In 1964, he graduated high school with the intention of becoming an accountant. “But his accountant’s brain told him he’d make much more money out of gigging.” So instead he would go on to play for bands such as The Viceroys, The Checkmates and The Delta Boys. He also played locally with the The Bee Vee Five and the Country Gents before joining Dermot O’Brien and the Clubmen and he first met The Dubliners when both acts toured England together in 1967. Over the years that followed he got into production and often sat in with the Dubliners, which had formed in 1962. Continue reading Eamonn Campbell 10/2017
October 17, 2017 – Gord Downie was born February 6, 1964 in Amherstview, Ontario, and raised in Kingston, Ontario, along with his two brothers Mike and Patrick. He was the son of Lorna (Neal) and Edgar Charles Downie, a traveling salesman. In Kingston, he befriended the musicians who would become The Tragically Hip, while attending the downtown Kingston high school Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
Downie formed the Tragically Hip with Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Davis Manning, and Gord Sinclair in 1983. Saxophone player Davis Manning left the band and guitarist Paul Langlois joined in 1986. Originally, the band started off playing cover songs in bars and quickly became famous once MCA Records president Bruce Dickinson saw them performing at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto and offered them a record deal. Continue reading Gord Downie 10/2017
October 7, 2017 – Jimmy Beaumont (The Skyliners) was born on October 21, 1940 in the Knoxville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. While in his teens he formed the bebop group the Crescents. Joe Rock, a promo man working with Beaumont’s group, one day jotted down the lyrics to a song as he sat in his car at a series of stoplights, lamenting that his girlfriend was leaving for flight attendant school on the West Coast.
Rock took the lyrics to Jimmy Beaumont, who wrote a melody just as quickly as Rock wrote the words to a magical, tearful ballad that soon topped the Cashbox R&B chart and went to No. 3 on the Billboard R&B chart: the title …..“Since I Don’t Have You.”
“I had been listening to all the doo-wop groups from that period — The Platters, The Moonglows. I guess just from listening the melody just came out of me,” Beaumont told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette years later.
Thirteen labels rejected the song as a demo, but the record was released in late December 1958. In short order it went to No. 1 in Pittsburgh, prompting an invitation to “American Bandstand.” Continue reading Jimmy Beaumont 10/2017
October 4, 2017 – Alvin DeGuzman (The Icarus Line) was born in Manila in the Philippines on December 3, 1978.
When he was 4 years old the family moved to the US.He attended Holy Family School in South Pasadena and graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1997. He also attended Cal Poly Pomona.
Alvin was a talented musician and passionate artist. While in High School he became a founding member of the indie punk rock band The Icarus Line, where he played the guitar both left and right handed, and also played bass and keys. The Icarus Line was the successor to high school friend Joe Cardamone’s first musical effort named “Kanker Sores”. Continue reading Alvin DeGuzman 10/2017
October 2, 2017 – Skip Haynes was born Eugene Heitlinger in Franklin Park Illinois in 1946. He graduated East Leyden High School in 1963. When it comes to rock music being the sound track to our boomer generation, there are certain songs that stand out and stay a perennial anthem such as Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco (Wear some flowers in your hair), Steve Goodman’s City of New Orleans and the song Skip Haynes wrote and performed about Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive.
Haynes was born Eugene Heitlinger, but a club manager told him early in his career there wasn’t enough room on the marquee for that. Since his grandfather called him Skippy, he decided to take the name Skip Haynes. Continue reading Skip Haynes 10/2017
October 2, 2017 – Tom Petty was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville Florida. Growing up in the town that houses the University of Florida, music became the young Petty’s refuge from a domineering, abusive father who despised Tom’s sensitivity and creative tendencies—but would later glom on to his son’s rock-star fame for status. In the summer of 1961, his uncle was working on the set of Presley’s film Follow That Dream in nearby Ocala, and invited Petty to come down and watch the shoot. He instantly became an Elvis Presley fan, and when he returned that Saturday, he was greeted by his friend Keith Harben, and soon traded his Wham-O slingshot for a collection of Elvis 45s.
September 27, 2017 – CeDell Davis was born June 9, 1927 in Helena, Arkansas, where his family worked on the local E.M. Hood plantation. He enjoyed music from a young age, playing harmonica and guitar with his childhood friends.
When he was 10, he contracted severe polio which left him little control over his left hand and restricted use of his right. He had been playing guitar prior to his polio and decided to continue in spite of his handicap, which led to his development of the “knife” method. Davis played guitar using a table knife in his fretting hand in a manner similar to slide guitar. Like Sister Rosetta Tharpe before him or Joni Mitchell after, he developed his own logic when it came to tuning the guitar, a style that Robert Palmer wrote, “resulted in a welter of metal-stress harmonic transients and a singular tonal plasticity.” Continue reading CeDell Davis 9/2017
September 23, 2017 – Charles Bradley was born on November 5, 1948 in Gainesville, Florida Bradley was raised by his maternal grandmother in Gainesville, Florida until the age of eight when his mother, who had abandoned him at eight months of age, took him to live with her in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1962, his sister took him to the Apollo Theater to see James Brown perform. Bradley was so inspired by the performance that he began to practice mimicking Brown’s style of singing and stage mannerisms at home. Continue reading Charles Bradley 9/2017
September 18, 2017 – Mark Selby was born in September 2, 1961. Born and raised in Enid, Oklahoma, Selby spent his youth harvesting wheat and playing in bands throughout the Midwest before moving to Hays, Kansas to attend Fort Hays University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music.
He was musically gifted in three ways: as a songwriter, a singer with a soulful voice and a guitarist with some impressive chops. His future as a blues rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer started in Germany, where he signed as a solo artist to ZYX Records. Continue reading Mark Selby 9/2017
September 17, 2017 – Laudir de Oliveira was born January 6, 1940 in Rio de Janeiro. de Oliveira started out as a percussionist in Brazil, working with Sergio Mendes and Marcos Valle. He moved to the United States in 1968 and caught the eye of rock musicians and producers. Credited simply as “Laudir”, he also appeared on Joe Cocker’s 1969 debut album, playing on his hit single “Feelin’ Alright”.
In 1973, Chicago invited de Oliveira to play on their album “Chicago VI.” After playing on the albums Chicago VI and Chicago VII as a sideman, de Oliveira officially joined the band in 1975. Continue reading Laudir de Oliveira 9/2017
September 13, 2017 – GrantHart (Hüsker Dü) was born in St. Paul, MN on March 18, 1961 and at the age of 10, he inherited his older brother’s drum set and records, after he was killed by a drunk driver. Hart described his family as a “typical American dysfunctional family. Not very abusive, though. Nothing really to complain about.” He soon began playing in a number of makeshift bands throughout high school. Continue reading Grant Hart 9/2017
September 11, 2017 – Virgil Howe was born on September 23, 1975 in London, England, the second son to Yes founding member/ guitarist Steve Howe. He played on several of his father’s projects: he performed on keys, alongside his brother Dylan Howe on drums, for the Steve Howe solo albums The Grand Scheme of Things (1993) and Spectrum (2005). He was in Steve Howe’s Remedy band, who released an album Elements (2003), toured the UK and then released a live DVD. He wrote and performed on a piece on his father’s 2011 release Time. He also plays drums on 11 tracks of Steve Howe’s Anthology 2: Groups and Collaborations that were largely recorded in the 1980s. Under the name The Verge, Virgil Howe produced the Yes Remixes album, released 2003.
Nexus, due November 2017, is a joint album by Virgil & Steve Howe, due on InsideOut. Father Steve described the album: “Most of the credit goes to Virgil on this; it’s Virgil’s bed and melodies but I’ve come in to add a little bit more.” Continue reading Virgil Howe 9/2017
September 5, 2017 – Rick Stevens (Tower of Power) was born Donald Stevenson on February 23, 1941 in Port Arthur, Texas, but didn’t stay there long, as a few years later his parents moved to Reno, Nevada. Rick first sang in public at the tender age of four, when his family set him up on a chair in front of the congregation at their church.
While growing up Rick was greatly influenced by his uncle, singer Ivory Joe Hunter, who was his mother’s younger brother. There was always a great deal of excitement when Uncle Ivory Joe came to visit on breaks from touring around the country with his band. Rick decided early on that he wanted to be a singer, just like his uncle. Ivory Joe was a not only a ground-breaking performer in what at the time was referred to by the record labels as “race music”, he was also a prolific songwriter with hundreds of songs to his credit.
Elvis Presley invited Ivory Joe to Graceland in 1957, and they spent the day singing together, including Ivory Joe’s hit “I Almost Lost My Mind”, among other songs. Hunter commented, “He is very spiritually minded … he showed me every courtesy, and I think he’s one of the greatest”. Elvis recorded five songs written by Ivory Joe: “My Wish Came True” (Top 20), “I Will be True”, “It’s Still Here”, “I Need You So”, and “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” (Top 20).
Like many musically talented teenagers in the late 1950’s Rick was interested in doo-wop, and he joined a singing group called the “Magnificent Marcels”. In the early 1960’s Rick performed in nightclubs around Reno, where he was known as “Mr. Twister”.
Having moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-60’s Rick continued his singing career, fronting various bands that played in local nightclubs. Rick’s bands included “Rick and the Ravens”, and “The Rick Stevens Four” (or Five, depending on how many people were in the band).
Rick joined “Four of a Kind” in 1966, initially in San Francisco, later moving with the band to Seattle. After a short time, Rick moved back to the Bay Area and joined a band called “Stuff”, in which one of the other members was Willie James Fulton (guitar and vocals). Rick and Willie James left “Stuff” and joined Tower of Power at about the same time as drummer David Garibaldi in 1969 and later replaced Rufus Miller as lead vocalist after Rick sang the diamond hit, “Sparkling in the Sand” on Tower of Power’s first album, EAST BAY GREASE. (The only song on that album that made any impact). The next Tower of Power album to hit the charts was BUMP CITY in 1972, and that record features Rick’s signature song, “You’re Still a Young Man”. The album also includes other hits such as “Down to the Night Club” and “You Got to Funkafize”.
Although he is not credited on the third album, the self-titled record, TOWER OF POWER, Rick initially sang all the lead vocals. He also contributed background vocals, which were retained on the record when it was released. The album features several hits such as, “What is Hip”, “Soul Vaccination”, and “Get Your Feet Back on the Ground”, and of course, “So Very Hard to Go”. Rick’s increasing drug dependency lead to Lenny Williams taking over lead vocals, as Rick left the band in 1973 to pursue other avenues of his musical career. After leaving Tower of Power, Rick joined a Bay Area band called “Brass Horizon”, a popular band with a big horn section.
The Stanford Daily – February 25, 1975
Former Tower Singer Heads Brass Horizon By JOAN E. HINMAN
SAN FRANCISCO – Quick – name Tower of Power’s two biggest hits. Maybe you said “So Very Hard To Go”, the single off Tower’s third album. But if you’re a deranged purist, you named “Sparkling In The Sand”, from East Bay Grease, and “You’re Still A Young Man”, the monster hit off Bump City in 1971.
It was “You’re Still A Young Man” that established Tower as national stars, removing them from the realm of San Francisco funk forever. The song’s amazing success can be explained in two words — Rick Stevens. Stevens emerged as Tower’s lead singer after the success of “Sparkling In The Sand”, the only song on the band’s first album on which he sang lead…
… the excellent set performed by Stevens and his new band, Brass Horizon, Saturday at Yellow Brick Road marks the return of one of the finest vocalists ever to hit the City. The new band, Brass Horizon, is every bit as tight and biting as the famed Tower brass…
…Stevens proved that his voice can still get down and growl on dance tunes, as well as sweep up to carry the pure melody of “You’re Still A Young Man”. … the fine Rick Stevens stage presence that on past occasions made Winterland feel as homey as a living room was evident Saturday. Smiling and jiving with the “mamas” on the dance floor, Stevens was clearly back in the atmosphere he likes best—putting out get-down, good time music.
Then in 1976 it gets quiet around Rick Stevens for the next 36 years as he is sentenced to life in prison for a triple homicide in a drug deal gone wrong. Addicted to drugs he had shot and killed 3 men in a botched deal.
In 2012 Stevens was released on parole. He then formed Rick Stevens & Love Power, which regularly played in Northern California. He also occasionally sat in with Tower of Power, including an appearance at a January 2017 benefit concert for former band members that were hit by a train in Oakland’s Jack London Square.
Rick Stevens passed away on September 5, 2017 after a short battle with liver cancer.
“Rick Stevens went to heaven today to be with the Lord whom he loved with all his heart. Rick was an extremely soulful singer and entertainer who had an engaging personality and a strong faith which he shared with all he came in contact with,” Tower of Power founder Emilio Castillo wrote on the band’s Facebook page.“We loved him and we’ll miss him. I have faith that I’ll see him in heaven someday and together we’ll worship and glorify God together for eternity. Rick is there right now enjoying it!!!”
September 5, 2017 – Holger Czukay was born on March 24, 1938 in the Free City of Danzig (since 1945 Gdańsk, Poland), from which his family was expelled after World War II. Due to the turmoil of the war, Czukay’s primary education was limited. One pivotal early experience, however, was working, when still a teenager, at a radio repair-shop, where he became fond of the aural qualities of radio broadcasts (anticipating his use of shortwave radio broadcasts as musical elements) and became familiar with the rudiments of electrical repair and engineering.
Czukay studied music under Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1963 to 1966 and then worked for a while as a music teacher. Initially Czukay had little interest in rock music, but this changed, when a student played him the Beatles’ 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”, a 1967 psychedelic rock single with an unusual musical structure and blasts of AM radio noise. This opened his ears to music by rock experimentalists such as The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa. Continue reading Holger Czukay 9/2017
September 4, 2017 – Earl Lindo was born Earl Wilberforce “Wire” Lindo on January 7, 1953 in Kingston, Jamaica. His nickname “wire” over time became “Wya”.
While attending Excelsior High School in the late sixties, he played bass and classical piano, before he became interested in the jazz sounds of Lee Dorsey and Jimmy Smith. With Barry Biggs, Mikey “Boo” Richards, and Ernest Wilson he then played in the Astronauts. Continue reading Earl Lindo 9/2017
September 3, 2017 – Dave Hlubek was born on August 28, 1951 in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 5 or 6, Hlubek and his family moved to the naval base in Oahu, Hawaii, where he attended Waikiki Elementary School. From there, Hlubek’s father was transferred and the family moved to Sunnyvale, California, then to Mountain View, and finally settling in San Jose. It was the South Bay that Dave called home during the next few years, before moving back to Jacksonville, Florida, around 1965. There he attended and graduated from Forrest High School.
Hlubek, founded the band Molly Hatchet in 1971. Vocalist Danny Joe Brown joined in 1974, along with Steve Holland, guitarist in 1974. Duane Roland, Banner Thomas and Bruce Crump completed the line up in 1976. Continue reading Dave Hlubek 9/2017
September 3, 2017 – Walter Becker (Steely Dan) was born February 20, 1950 in Queens, New York. Becker was raised by his father and grandmother, after his parents separated when he was a young boy and his mother, who was British, moved back to England. They lived in Queens and as of the age of five in Scarsdale, New York. Becker’s father sold paper-cutting machinery for a company which had offices in Manhattan.
He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan in the class of 1967. After starting out on saxophone, he switched to guitar and received instruction in blues technique from neighbor Randy Wolfe, better known as Randy California of the psychedelic westcoast sensation “Spirit”, a nickname he got from Jimi Hendrix while playing with him in New York in the mid sixties.
September 1, 2017 – Mick Softley was born in 1939 in the countryside of Essex, near Epping Forest.
His mother was of Irish origin (from County Cork) and his father had East Anglian tinker roots, going back to a few generations. Softley first took up trombone in school and became interested in traditional jazz. He was later persuaded to become a singer by one of his school teachers, and this led to him listening to Big Bill Broonzy and promptly changed his attitude to music, to the extent of him buying a mail-order guitar and some tutorial books and teaching himself to play.
By 1959, Mick Softley had left his job and home and spent time traveling around Europe on his motorbike, with a friend, Mick Rippingale. He ended up in Paris, where he came into the company of musicians such as Clive Palmer, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Wizz Jones. Here he improved his guitar skills and spent time busking with friends until his return to England in the early 1960s. Continue reading Mick Softley 9/2017
September 1, 2017 – Hedley Jones (the Wailers) was born on November 12, 1917 in near Linstead, Jamaica, the son of David and Hettie Jones, and started making music as a child. He made his own cello at the age of 14, as well as a banjo. In 1935 he moved to Kingston, where he heard Marcus Garvey speak, and worked as a tailor, cabinet maker, bus conductor, repairing sewing machines, radios and gramophones. He said: “I was what people called a jack of all trades. I could fix everything.” His main work was as a proofreader, with the Gleaner and Jamaica Times.
He also played banjo in a Hawaiian jazz band, before forming his own Hedley Jones Sextet. Inspired by the recordings of Charlie Christian, but unable to afford an imported guitar, he built himself a solid-bodied electric guitar, and was featured with it on the front page of The Gleaner in September 1940, at about the same time that Les Paul was doing similar pioneering work in the US. Jones continued to build guitars for other Jamaican musicians in the years that followed. Continue reading Hedley Jones 9/2017
August 28, 2017 – Sonny Burgess was born Albert Austin Burgess on May 28, 1929 on a farm near Newport, Arkansas to Albert and Esta Burgess. He graduated from Newport High School in 1948.
Burgess, Kern Kennedy, Johnny Ray Hubbard, and Gerald Jackson formed a boogie-woogie band they called the Rocky Road Ramblers and played boogie woogie music in dance halls and bars around Newport.
In 1954, following a stint in the US Army (1951–53), Burgess re-formed the band, calling them the Moonlighters after the Silver Moon Club in Newport, where they performed regularly. After advice from record producer Sam Phillips, the group expanded to form the Pacers. Continue reading Sonny Burgess 8/2017
August 24, 2017 – Jamaican Ska Authentic Winston Samuels (McInnis), a living legend in Jamaican Music, was born in Kingston, Jamaica to proud parents Winston D. McInnis and Mavis Davis-McInnis in 1944. From the time he was born he loved to sing. As a matter of fact his mother, Mavis would have Sunday family discussions followed by songs of worship. There was such harmony in the household that it drew other tenants who loved to listen to him. Continue reading Winston Samuels 8/2017
August 1, 2017– Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf) was born John Raymond Goadsby in Toronto, Canada on May 2, 1945. He was raised by middle class parents in Toronto, Canada. They put him into piano lessons at a young age and with this foundation he became a pioneer in the use of the electronic organ in rock and roll. “I was classically trained,” said Goldy. He also stated that no one else in rock and roll was doing was he was at the time. “I played on a Lowrey,” he said. And this is part of what he said gave songs such as “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” their unique sound. “I was up at 4 a.m. daily to practice from the age of seven until…I got stupid,” Goldy said. While school in general was not his thing, (he was suspended from high school for three months,) he always did exceptionally well in music. “I got 100 in music, which brought my average up to maybe 14,” Goldy said. His parents could not afford private school that could have catered more to the needs of a student like him.Continue reading Goldy McJohn 8/2017
July 25, 2017 – Michael Johnson was born on August 8, 1944 in the small town of Alamosa, Colorado and grew up in Denver. He started playing the guitar at 13. In 1963, he began attending Colorado State University to study music but his college career was truncated when he won an international talent contest two years later. First prize included a deal with Epic Records. Epic released the song “Hills”, written and sung by Johnson, as a single. Johnson began extensive touring of clubs and colleges, finding a receptive audience everywhere he went.
Wishing to hone his instrumental skills, he set off for Barcelona, Spain in 1966, to the Liceu Conservatory, studying with the eminent classical guitarists, Graciano Tarragó and Renata Tarragó. Upon his return to the States in late 1967, he joined Randy Sparks in a group called the New Society and did a tour of the Orient.Continue reading Michael Johnson 7/2017
July 21, 2017 – Kenny Shields was born in 1947 in the farming community of Nokomis, Saskatchewan, Canada. His passion for music and entertaining emerged at the age of six when he entered and won an amateur talent show. While continuing his interest in music and singing, upon graduation from secondary school he moved to Saskatoon to attend university but was immediately recruited by the city’s premiere band – Witness Incorporated.
Kenny’s lifelong dream began to take shape as the band built a loyal fan base across the country, scoring with a string of national radio hits including “I’ll Forget Her Tomorrow”, “Jezebel” and “Harlem Lady, all featuring Kenny’s unmistakable vocals. After touring with such legendary artists as Roy Orbison and Cream, tragedy struck in 1970 when Shields was critically injured in an automobile accident that sidetracked him from music for several years. Continue reading Kenny Shields 7/2017
July 14, 2017 – David Z (Zablidowski) was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1979.
He formed his first band, Legend, as a freshman at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School and attended Brooklyn College.
“I was in music class at FDR and spotted a few kids with long hair and we formed a band,” David Z said, adding that his older brother Pauli joined the band six months later.
They played at city nightclubs and bars, but the band fell apart shortly after high school. Then, the Z brothers approached drummer Joey Cassata to join their band. Z02 was born. David by that time had already joined the early incarnations of TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) as they started performing their Christmas shows. This exposure opened many doors for him. In 2004, the guys, who where in their early and middle 20s, scraped together money to release their first album, and soon were touring with the likes of Kiss, Stone Temple Pilots, Poison and Alice Cooper on the VH1 Rock the Nation tour. Continue reading David Z(ablidowski) 7/2017
July 13, 2017 – Simon Holmes (The Hummingbirds) was born on March 28, 1963 in the southern beachside suburb of Melbourne, Australia. The family lived in Bentleigh, before shifting to Turramurra in 1967, before going overseas for three years, in upstate New York, where Holmes started school at Myers Corner. The family then moved to Geneva, Switzerland. He spent part of his childhood in Canberra, attending the AME School: an alternative education institution and then Hawker College. Holmes moved to Sydney in the early 1980s. He started studying anthropology and archaeology at the University of Sydney, but left after two years. Continue reading Simon Holmes 7/2017
July 12, 2017 – Ray Phiri (Paul Simon) was born March 23, 1947 near Nelspruit in the then Eastern Transvaal, now Mpumalanga Province, in South Africa to a Malawian immigrant worker and South African guitarist nicknamed “Just Now” Phiri. His stepfather, who was from Malawi, played guitar but gave it up after losing three fingers in an accident. Mr. Phiri took that guitar and largely taught himself to play. He moved to Johannesburg in 1967 to work as a musician.
July 9, 2017 – Erik Cartwright (FOGHAT) was born on July 10, 1950 in New York City and grew up in Minisink Hills, Pennsylvania. A 1968 graduate of East Stroudsburg High School, he became one of the area’s prominent rock guitarists, alongside his friend G.E. Smith. Erik’s first gig as a professional musician was with the band Dooley in Allentown, PA.
In 1970-1971 he studied at the famous Berklee School of music before His early guitar work is featured on singer Dan Hartman’s It Hurts to Be in Love (1981). His first album as a co-leader was the self-titled debut of Tears (1979), with Nils Lofgren on piano. Right after he had just recorded the Tears album the invitation to join Foghat, and replace original lead guitarist Rod Price, came. Continue reading Erik Cartwright 7/2017
July 6, 2017 – Melvyn “Deacon” Jones was born December 12, 1943 in Richmond Indiana. By the time he was a teenager, Deacon was proficient on trumpet and performed with his brother Harold in the high school band. Harold Jones later became a famed jazz drummer.
After graduating in 1962, Jones was a founding member of Baby Huey and the Babysitters with Johnny Ross and James Ramey. After paying a few dues in the Gary area, Deacon and the band set up shop in Chicago where they played five nights a week for five years, according to USA Today. During that time, Jones managed to further his musical education at the prestigious American Conservatory of Music.Continue reading Melvyn Deacon Jones 7/2017