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Pat DiNizio 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

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Vincent Nguini 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

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Robert Bilbo Walker 11/2017

November 29, 2017 – Robert Bilbo Walker Jr. was born on February 19, 1937, on the Borden Plantation in Clarksdale, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

Walker was named after his father, Robert “Bilbo” Walker Sr., who was also nicknamed “Bilbo” — that’s how Walker Jr. acquired the nickname, which he hates. As he explains in the liner notes to Promised Land, people in his Clarksdale home would distinguish between his father and him by referring to them as Big Bilbo and Little Junior Bilbo. Later, after he began making a name for himself in Delta juke joints, Walker was called Chuck Berry Jr.
Walker was a completely self-taught musician who played piano, guitar, and drums. He got his musical education thanks to his father, who would have “Little Junior Bilbo” playing piano behind a curtain at country juke joints around his native Clarksdale. Continue reading Robert Bilbo Walker 11/2017

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Tommy Keene 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

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Malcolm Young 11/2017

the one behind AC/DCNovember 18, 2017 – Malcolm Young (AC/DC) was born on January 6, 1953 in Glasgow, Scotland, into a rater large musical family. When he was 10 years old, the family decided to move to Australia, after surviving the worst winter on record in Scotland and TV spot that offered assisted travel for families for a different life in Australia. In late June of 1963, 15 members of the family flew to a new life in “Down Under”, including his older brother George and younger brother Angus.

Continue reading Malcolm Young 11/2017

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Fred Cole 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

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Hans Vermeulen – 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

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Scott Putesky 10/2017

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

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George Young 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

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Phil Miller 10/2017

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

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Eamonn Campbell 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

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Skip Haynes 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

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CeDell Davis 9/2017

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

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Mark Selby 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

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Dave Hlubek 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

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Glen Campbell 8/2017

glen campbell, country pop starAugust 8, 2017 – Glen Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in Billstown, a tiny community near Delight in Pike County, Arkansas. He was the seventh son of 12 children. His father was a sharecropper of Scottish ancestry.
He received his first guitar when he was four years old. Learning the instrument from various relatives, especially Uncle Boo, he played consistently throughout his childhood, eventually gravitating toward jazz players like Barney Kessel and Django Reinhardt. While he was learning guitar, he also sang in a local church, where he developed his vocal skills. By the time he was 14, he had begun performing with a number of country bands in the Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico area, including his uncle’s group, the Dick Bills Band. When he was 18, he formed his own country band, the Western Wranglers, and began touring the South with the group. Four years later in 1960, Campbell moved to Los Angeles, California, where he became a session musician. Continue reading Glen Campbell 8/2017

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Michael Johnson 7/2017

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

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Simon Holmes 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

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Ray Phiri 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.

He became a founding member of the Cannibals in the 1970s. When the Cannibals disbanded Ray founded Stimela, Continue reading Ray Phiri 7/2017

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Erik Cartwright 7/2017

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

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Dave Rosser 6/2017

June 27, 2017 – Dave Rosser (Afghan Whigs) was born David Clark Rosser in St.Louis, Missouri on August 3, 1966. Raised in Gadsden, Alabama is where he first learned to play guitar and started what became a lifelong passion. After high school, David attended college and eventually moved to Memphis, where he worked in the family business for a short time. His calling as a career musician was apparent, and it led him to Auburn, Alabama, then finally to New Orleans in 1992.

He adopted New Orleans as his beloved city, and here his career took shape. He spent many years with the band Metal Rose, played throughout the French Quarter, and did studio work with many area musicians. Continue reading Dave Rosser 6/2017

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Jimmy Nalls 6/2017

June 25, 2017 – Jimmy Nalls (Sea Level) was born James Albert Nalls III on May 31, 1951 in Washington DC. In 1970, he moved from the suburbs of his home in Arlington, Virginia, to New York City to play with Australian folk singer Gary Shearston and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. Jimmy Nalls quickly became an in-demand session guitarist at New York’s famed Record Plant studio, and played with several musicians and bands with ties to then up-and-coming Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia, such as  singer/songwriter Alex Taylor’s band while Taylor was a Capricorn Records label mate of the Allmans’.

It was during this period that Nalls first worked with future Allmans keyboardist Chuck Leavell, an association that would prove fruitful for both musicians after the Allmans’ 1976 split. As a result, Nalls moved to Macon in 1976 and joined three musicians who’d just parted ways with the Allman Brothers Band – keyboardist Chuck Leavell, bassist Lamar Williams and drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson. Leavell decided to start a new group after the Allman Brothers Band folded, enlisting Nalls for the band he’d dubbed Sea Level — a play on C. Leavell. Continue reading Jimmy Nalls 6/2017

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Aamir Zaki 6/2017

June 2, 2017 – Aamir Zaki was born on April 8, 1968 in Saudi Arabia from Pakistani parents.

Music was part of his home education with both parents sharing classical, jazz, blues and rock with their children. Aamir became an instant admirer of Rhandy Rhoads, metal guitar virtuoso with Ozzy Osborne.

Playing guitar since the age of 14, he became known for his melodic phrasing, feel, and tone.

The first mainstream musician to recognise Zaki as a teenage prodigy was Alamgir, who got in touch with him to tour India, Dubai, England and the U.S.A. After touring Zaki played on two of Alamgir’s albums. “Keh De Na” and “Albela Rahi” were two hit singles with young Zaki’s guitar sound and image, he played a self built Flying V guitar, inspired by his love for Randy Rhoads.

Post-Alamgir, Aamir Zaki formed three rock groups. “The Barbarians”, “Axe Attack” and “Scratch”. Axe Attack was the only band that made an original album called The Bomb, whose title track was about the Bohri Bazaar bomb blast. It was the first English album recorded in Pakistan and perhaps for that reason, all music companies refused to release it. However, some years later, the rhythm guitarist, Nadeem Ishtiaq took it to Australia where the songs made it to the radio and were well received. Back in Pakistan, the album lay forgotten. Zaki continued with his songwriting and started playing session guitar.

Zaki got married at the age of twenty two and divorced at twenty four. The next year Zaki toured extensively with Vital Signs and Awaz.

He became globally known for his short stint with the band the Vital Signs in 1994, when he toured the globe with the group. He also played with the band on their fourth album before being asked to leave.

He then released his debut solo album Signature in 1995, from which the song Mera Pyaar became a massive hit and Zaki was awarded a gold disc by Soundcraft UK for it. Signature was primarily an instrumental album with two English and one Urdu song. His second CD release Rough Cut was an English album, with a Tabla and six string bass Rhythm section, featuring Hadiqa Kiyani on vocals.

Signature was an independent release, and he put his own money into releasing this high-risk venture. The first CD batch was made in England, and Sonic released Signature in Pakistan. The album was an immediate success, and for the first time in the region, guitar instrumentals made it into the households through FM radio

Zaki had a cult following by this time. He played his original English and Urdu songs live, much before they appeared on the screen. He played at the Karajazz Festival and many a time at Café Blue (Karachi, Pakistan) that marvellous haunt for live music lovers, that witnessed the powerful synergy between Zaki, Gumby, and Khalid Khan, regularly. It was here that his listeners turned up week after week to hear him play. His bass playing shone on these occasions. Zaki played the bass like the guitar and the sounds he elicited from it are unlike anything heard before.

The musician, who made his overdue debut on Coke Studio in 2014, was last seen in action performing at the two-day long I Am Karachi Music Festival. He recently collaborated with Saleem Javed, reworking the singer’s classic Tum Mere Ho.

Widely considered the most influential guitarist in the country’s history, Zaki was known both for his musical genius and volatile temperament. Even so, according to most of his colleagues, he has left a void that is not only difficult, but perhaps even impossible to fill.

“I must say that he was the most talented guitarist I ever came across in Pakistan. Not just as a musician, but even as a person, he was likeable and humble,” fellow Vital Signs alumni and guitarist Asad Ahmed told The Express Tribune.

“He was a great teacher as well, who inspired so many people. He inspired them to just pick up an instrument and play, and when someone like him goes away, it doesn’t really feel good. It’s a loss for the music industry but more than that, for people in general, because he was one of a kind. He is someone who will be missed but celebrated.”

Calling him the most influential guitarist in Pakistan, Fuzon band member Imran Momina, also known as Emu, regretted not having worked with Zaki one last time. “We have been honoured to play with him several times. He was such a great mentor and a great person to hang out with as well, and it’s just sad to hear this news,” he said. “I have one regret because I wanted to work with him one more time on a project and it just couldn’t happen. Sadly, he succumbed to illness and other factors in life.”

Aamir Zaki passed away on June 2, 2017 due to heart failure after a prolonged illness. He was 49.

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Kenny Cordray 5/2017

kenny cordray blues guitarist

May 21, 2017 – Kenny Cordray was born on July 21, 1954 in Dallas Texas and moved to  Houston, Texas in 1966 where he learned to play guitar on British invasion  songs from the Animals and Them (Gloria etc).

In 1968 he went to see a gig of the Children where the guitar player didn’t show up. He sat in and soon signed up.

Subsequently Cordray became the lead guitarist for THE CHILDREN under the ATCO label and later on ODE records produced by Lou Adler. He co-wrote the ZZ-Top hit song “Francine,” which peaked at 69 on the Billboard Hot 100, with Steve Perron for ZZ Top’s album “Rio Grande Mud.” Continue reading Kenny Cordray 5/2017

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Allan Holdsworth 4/2017

April 15, 2017 – Allan Holdsworth was born on August 6, 1946 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. First a saxophone player, he gravitated to the guitar at the age of 17 and caught on quickly. Entirely self-taught, his protean, virtuosic style became a source of amazement even to his more famous peers. He began working professionally as a musician in his early 20s, inspired by the likes of Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Raney, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass and John Coltrane. Continue reading Allan Holdsworth 4/2017

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Bruce Langhorne 4/2017

mr. tambourine man, Bruce LanghorneApril 14, 2017 – Bruce Langhorne was born on May 14, 1938 in Tallahassee, Florida.

At age 4 he moved with his mother to Spanish Harlem, New York. When he was a 12-year old violin prodigy living in Harlem in the fifties, he accidentally blew several of his finger tips off with a cherry bomb that he held onto for too long. In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Bruce looked up at his distraught mom and said, “At least I don’t have to play violin anymore.” In a gang fight, he got involved in a stabbing and left the country for Mexico for 2 years. By age 17 he started to pick the guitar. Continue reading Bruce Langhorne 4/2017

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John “J” Geils 4/2017

J.Geils, guitarist for the J.Geils BandApril 11, 2017 – John Warren “J” Geils was born on February 20, 1946, in New York City and grew up in Morris Plains, New Jersey. His father was an engineer at Bell Labs and a jazz and vintage car fan, two passions little John Geils’s took with him for the rest of his life. For his 10th birthday, his father took him to see Louis Armstrong. For his 13th birthday, he went with his father to see Miles Davis. Drawn to jazz early, he said he did not have the ”chops,” or jazz virtuosity, but discovered that he could play the blues. The chops are something he developed later in life, after the whirlwind years of touring with the J. Geils Band. Continue reading John “J” Geils 4/2017

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Lonnie Brooks 4/2017

chicago blues manApril 1, 2017 – Lonnie Brooks, Chicago bluesman who achieved fame in the late 70s, was born Lee Baker Jr. on December 18, 1933 in Dubuisson, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. He learned to play blues from his banjo-picking grandfather but did not think about a career in music until after he moved to Port Arthur, Texas, in the early 1950s. There he heard live performances by Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, Long John Hunter, Johnny Copeland and others and began to think about making money from music.

He focused on the guitar comparatively late in life, when he was already in his 20s. But he learned fast and a little while later, Award winning Zydeco king Clifton Chenier heard Brooks strumming his guitar on his front porch in Port Arthur and offered him a job in his touring band. Continue reading Lonnie Brooks 4/2017

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Jim Fuller 3/2017

Surfaris lead guitaristMarch 3, 2017 – Jim Fuller, co-founding member and lead guitarist of the Surfaris, was born on June 27, 1947. In 1962, Bob Berryhill (15), Jim Fuller (15), Pat Connolly (15) and Ron Wilson (17) from Glendora, California formed The Surfaris.

It was the year that the surf music craze was just emerging and “Wipe Out” was written that winter. Saxophonist, Jim Pash, joined the band after “Wipe Out” was recorded.

Initially catapulted by the California surf culture, The Surfaris transcended the local scene into international stardom with their hit song “Wipe Out.” On a cold December night that same year, these four young teenagers wrote Wipe Out in the studio after recording Surfer Joe. With the help of manager Dale Smallin (Wipe Out laugh intro) and recording engineer Paul Buff, The Surfaris recorded the 1963 hit version of Wipe Out and Surfer Joe. Continue reading Jim Fuller 3/2017

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Larry Coryell 2/2017

Larry Coryell, godfather of fusionFebruary 19, 2017 – Larry Coryell was born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III on April 2, 1943 in Galveston, Texas. His biological father was a musician of German descent “who chased a lot of women”, but Larry never knew him as he was raised by his mother and stepfather Gene Coryell. His interest in music started when his mother encouraged him to learn the piano at age 4. At age 14 he became more interested in guitar and studied the works of Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, and Johnny Smith. When he was 16 he ran off to join a rock band. The self-labeled “black sheep of the family,” he also “knocked up” his girlfriend. “It was traumatic to me.” Her parents sent the girl away, and she married someone else after giving birth to a daughter. (“I’ve never seen the kid,”) To cope with his emotions, Coryell plunged into practice sessions, copying a Wes Montgomery record until he knew every difficult lick by heart. He still regards that bit of discipline as a “minor catalyst” in his career. Bands he joined in those early days were the Jailers, the Rumblers, the Royals, and the Flames. He also played with the Checkers from nearby Yakima, Washington. He then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington in an attempt to become a journalist. While there he played in a number of popular Northwest bands, including the Dynamics, while living in Seattle. But in 1965 the changing culture of the sixties in the US made him move to the mecca of folk rock and jazz guitar, New York City, where he first attended Mannes School of Music to study classical guitar. Continue reading Larry Coryell 2/2017

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Robert Dahlqvist 2/17

robert dahlqvist, singer/guitarist for the HellacoptersFebruary 1, 2017 – Robert Dahlqvist (The Hellacopters) was born on April 16, 1976 in Uddevalla, Sweden, and got his first guitar at the age of ten and attended music school but quit after a month frustrated over not being allowed to play Kiss songs. Five years later, at age fifteen, his mother got him an electric guitar and he started to focus more seriously on his playing. Dahlqvist soon started playing in bands and worked at a bar where he got to know members of the Swedish rock band The Hellacopters.

After the departure of guitarist Dregen in early 1998, The Hellacopters brought in temporary replacements Chuck Pounder and Mattias Hellberg to tour with them. In 1999, The Hellacopters recorded Grande Rock with the band’s pianist Anders Lindström on rhythm guitar and started to look for a permanent guitarist. When Dahlqvist heard about this he contacted the band and asked for the opportunity for an audition, and after a few jam sessions together Dahlqvist was chosen as the band’s new guitarist. Continue reading Robert Dahlqvist 2/17

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Tom Edwards 1/2017

guitarist for adam antJanuary 25, 2017 – Tom Edwards (Adam’s Ants) was born on February 21, 1975 in Ipswich, England. Little is officially known about his early days, except that he grew up in a normal family and his dad “Bib” had musical talents. From what I could find, Tom must have chosen the path of music rather early on in his life. He grew up in Bildeston and went to Great Cornard Upper School where he fostered a love of music that would go on to become his livelihood.

And reflecting on what I learned via Google, Facebook and several more websites, I learned that Tom was a more than adequate guitar player, who shared his talents easily and with many. His life was music from the occult to straight forward classic rock. He made a living in the performance of music and it took him around the globe with various bands and outfits such as Adam AntRoddy Frame, Fields of the Nephilim, Rebelles, Edwyn Collins, Andrea Corrs, Arno Castens and Spiderbites, as well as his brother Dickon’s band Fosca. Continue reading Tom Edwards 1/2017

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Scotty Moore 6/2016

scotty-mooreJune 28, 2016 – Winfield Scott “Scotty” Moore III, (Elvis Presley) was born on December 27, 1931 near Gadsden, Tennessee. He learned to play the guitar from family and friends at eight years of age. Although underage when he enlisted, Moore served in the United States Navy between 1948 and 1952. Moore’s early background was in jazz and country music. A fan of guitarist Chet Atkins, Moore led a group called the “Starlite Wranglers” before Sam Phillips at Sun Records put him together with then teenage Elvis Presley. The trio was completed with bass player Bill Black, who brought a “rhythmic propulsion” that much pleased Phillips.

In 1954 Moore and Black accompanied Elvis on what would become the first legendary Presley hit, the Sun Studios session cut of “That’s All Right”, a recording regarded as a seminal event in rock and roll history. Continue reading Scotty Moore 6/2016

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Henry McCullough 6/2016

Henry McCulloughJune 14, 2016 – Henry Campbell Liken McCullough (Wings) was born in Northern Ireland on 21 July 1943. He first came to prominence as a guitar player of talent in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with The Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. In 1964, with three other members of The Skyrockets, he left and formed a new showband fronted by South African born vocalist Gene Chetty, which they named Gene and The Gents.

In 1967 McCullough moved to Belfast where he joined Chris Stewart (bass), Ernie Graham (vocals) and Dave Lutton (drums) to form the psychedelic band The People. Later that year the band moved to London and were signed by Chas Chandler’s management team, who changed the group’s name to Éire Apparent. Under Chandler’s guidance after a single release they toured with groups such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as Eric Burdon and the Animals. Continue reading Henry McCullough 6/2016

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Paul Kantner 1/2016

Paul Kantner during Paul Kantner in Concert at Wetlands - 1992 at Wetlands in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Steve Eichner/WireImage)

January 28, 2016 – Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane founding guitarist) was born on March 17, 1941, in San Francisco, California. Kantner had a half-brother and a half-sister by his father’s first marriage, both much older than he. His father was of German descent, and his mother was of French and German ancestry. His mother died when he was eight years old, and Kantner remembered that he was not allowed to attend her funeral. His father sent him to the circus instead. After his mother’s death, his father, who was a traveling salesman, sent young Kantner to Catholic military boarding school. At age eight or nine, in the school’s library, he read his first science fiction book, finding an escape by immersing himself in science fiction and music from then on. As a teenager he went into total revolt against all forms of authority, and he decided to become a protest folk singer in the manner of his musical hero, Pete Seeger. He attended Saint Mary’s College High School, Santa Clara University and San Jose State College, completing a total of three years of college before he dropped out to enter the music scene.

During the summer of 1965, singer Marty Balin saw Kantner perform at the Drinking Gourd, a San Francisco folk club, and invited him to co-found a new band, Jefferson Airplane. When the group needed a lead guitarist, Kantner recommended Jorma Kaukonen, whom he knew from his San Jose days. As rhythm guitarist and one of the band’s singers, Kantner was the only musician to appear on all albums recorded by Jefferson Airplane as well as Jefferson Starship. Kantner’s songwriting often featured whimsical or political lyrics with a science-fiction or fantasy theme, usually set to music that had a hard rock, almost martial sound. Kantner wrote many of the Airplane’s early songs, including the chart hits “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil”, “Watch Her Ride”, “Crown of Creation”, and the controversial “We Can Be Together”; and, with Balin, co-wrote “Today” and “Volunteers”. He also wrote, with David Crosby and Stephen Stills, the song “Wooden Ships”, (one of my absolutely favorite songs ever!) though for contractual reasons he was not credited initially. Continue reading Paul Kantner 1/2016

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Andrew Gold 6/2015

andrew goldJune 3, 2015 – Andrew Maurice Gold was born on August 2, 1951 at Burbank, Los Angeles, into a musical family. His father, Ernest Gold, composed the scores for dozens of Hollywood films, including Exodus (1960) — for which he won an Oscar — Too Much Too Soon (1958) and On The Beach (1959); his mother, the classically-trained soprano Marni Nixon, was best known for supplying the singing voices for film actresses, notably Deborah Kerr in The King And I (1956), Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961), and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964). She also appeared as Sister Sophia in The Sound Of Music (1965).

Andrew was 13 when he started writing pop songs, although he never learned to read music. At Oakwood School in north Hollywood, he introduced himself to the singer Linda Ronstadt when she played a gig there with her group the Stone Poneys . By the early 1970s he had joined her band, and in 1974 played a variety of instruments and made the musical arrangements for Linda Ronstadt’s breakthrough album Heart Like A Wheel, as well as for her next four albums. Among other accomplishments, he played the majority of instruments on “You’re No Good,” Ronstadt’s only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the same on “When Will I Be Loved,” “Heat Wave” and many other classic hits. He was in her band from 1973 until 1977, and then sporadically throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Continue reading Andrew Gold 6/2015

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Dave Ball 4/2015

Dave BallApril 1, 2015 – Dave Ball was born on March 30th 1950 in Birmingham, England. He was the youngest of three sons from a musical Birmingham family. “We were born show-offs and broke into a routine at the slightest excuse,” he said of his adolescence strumming a guitar alongside Pete and Denny. All three brothers played in various groups in Germany before teaming up with the drummer Cozy Powell to back Ace Kefford, formerly of The Move, and then forming Big Bertha in 1969.

Replacing Robin Trower in Procol Harum in 1970, he can be heard on the group’s live album, Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, but left late during the recordings for their 1973 album Grand Hotel, in Sept 1972. “I was getting bored,” he said in an interview. “There were only so many ideas I could put into that style.” Continue reading Dave Ball 4/2015

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Sam Andrew III 2/2015

Sam-AndrewFebruary 12, 2015 – Sam Andrew III was born in Taft, California on December 18, 1941, but having a military father he moved a great deal as a child. His early musical influences were Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard and by the time he was seventeen living in Okinawa, he already had his own band, called the “Cool Notes”, and his own weekly TV show, an Okinawan version of American Bandstand.  He also listened to a great deal of Delta blues. His brother Leland Andrew frequently stated his brother was the “Benny Goodman of Japan”.

He attended the University of San Francisco, and became involved with the San Francisco folk music scene of the early 1960s. However it was not until he returned from over a year in Paris and almost a year in Germany, that he met Peter Albin at 1090 Page Street. After playing together at Albin’s home, Sam suggested they form a band. They found guitarist James Gurley and drummer Chuck Jones, and Big Brother and the Holding Company was formed ready for their first gig, at the Trips Festival in January 1966. Soon after painter and jazz drummer David Getz, replaced Jones. As Big Brother and the Holding Company began to gel, Andrew brought many songs into the band. Continue reading Sam Andrew III 2/2015

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Dick Wagner 7/2014

July 30, 2014 – Dick Wagner was born on December 14th 1942 in Oelwein, Iowa, but grew up in Saginaw, Michigan area and graduated from Waterford Township high school in 1961. His first band, called the Bossmen, was a favourite in the Detroit area and scored radio play with the Wagner-penned composition “Baby Boy”, “You’re the Girl for Me” and others.

Wagner formed his next band, the Frost, with Donny Hartman, Bobby Rigg and Gordy Garris, in the late 1960s and built up a substantial following in the Michigan area. The band featured the dual lead guitars of Wagner and Hartman. The band released three albums during their tenure together on Vanguard Records: 1969’s Frost Music and Rock and Roll Music, plus 1970’s Through the Eyes of Love. Wagner was the principal songwriter, arranger and lead singer of The Frost. Their live appearances brought out large crowds of young fans throughout the region.

In the late 60s he formed his second band The Frost, it was in these days he penned one of the best-known songs “Only Women Bleed”. Continue reading Dick Wagner 7/2014

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winter-624-1405612028July 16, 2014 – Legendary blues musician Johnny Winter died in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 16th, 2014 at age 70. There are plenty of reasons why that’s notable — Winter was one of the first blues rock guitar virtuosos, releasing a string of popular and fiery albums in the late Sixties and early Seventies, becoming an arena-level concert draw in the process — but it’s the barest facts that remain the most inspiring.

Johnny Dawson Winter, who was born on February  23rd, 1944 in little Beaumont, Texas, afflicted with albinism and 20/400 eyesight in one eye and 20/600 in the other, made an iconic life for himself by playing the blues.

What are the odds of that story coming true? What levels of self-belief, resilience and talent did it take to transform those biographical details — one could easily imagine, say, Thomas Pynchon conjuring them for a character (The whitest blues guitarist! Named Johnny Winter!) — into the stuff of a legendary career? A huge break came for him in December of 1968, when fellow blues guitar great Michael Bloomfield invited him to sing and play a song during a Bloomfield and Al Kooper concert at the Fillmore East in New York. Bloomfield introduced him with the words: “This is the baddest motherfucker.”

Winter was that, no doubt, but also a testament to the idea that with a lot of skill and dedication and more than a little luck, music can open any door.

In Mary Lou Sullivan’s entertaining biography, Raisin’ Cain, Winter, whose brother was multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter (of “Frankenstein” fame), explained that, “Growin’ up in school, I really got the bad end of the deal. People teased me and I got in a lot of fights. I was a pretty bluesy kid.” That alienation, he believed, gave him a kinship with the black blues musicians he idolized. “We both,” he explained, “had a problem with our skin being the wrong color.”

He and his younger Edgar – both born with albinism – appeared as a duo on a local children’s show in the mid 50s, singing songs and playing ukulele. By the time Johnny was 15 he had formed a band, Johnny and the Jammers, and released “School Day Blues” on a local Houston record label. Also in these early days he sometimes sat in with Roy Head and the Traits when they performed in the Beaumont area. In 1967, Johnny recorded a single with the Traits, “Tramp” backed with “Parchman Farm” and in 1968, he released his first album The Progressive Blues Experiment.

It’s probably overly romantic to say that one can hear any sort of outsider’s howl in Winter’s playing, which first came to wider attention via a 1968 Rolling Stone article that praised him for some of the most “gutsiest, fluid guitar you ever heard,” but at its best, there’s a beautifully articulated flamboyance to his music. Faster and flashier than his blues god contemporary Eric Clapton, Winter’s musicianship — a hyperactive, high-octane intensity was his great blues innovation — had the electric flair of someone who was determined to take charge of how he was seen by others. It was as if his playing (and his gutsy singing) was a challenge to audiences. Okay, you’re looking at me? Then watch this.

As a concert draw and big-seller, Winter peaked in by the mid-Seventies. (New listeners should start with 1969’s Second Winter; this year’s True To The Blues compilation is comprehensive.) But stepping out of stardom’s spotlight gave him the opportunity to do his most valuable work, as a steward to the music that changed his life. Starting in 1977, Winter produced a trio of swaggering, earthy albums for blues genius Muddy Waters, of which Hard Again is the first and best. Those albums reconnected Waters with his own greatness — Muddy’s prior Seventies albums had been uninspired — and delivered him a late-in-life critical and commercial triumph. After Waters died in 1983, Winter, who by then had already inspired followers like his fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan, settled into a journeyman’s role, releasing albums at a steady pace and touring even more frequently than that. It wasn’t always an easy ride— there were struggles with addiction and duplicitous management — but it was as good, and honorable, as a blues musician can ask for. They wouldn’t be called the blues if everything was rosy.

When he wasn’t on the road, Winter, who, it must be said, cut a striking figure on-stage up through his last gigs, spent his time with his wife at home in rural Connecticut, and was able to bask in the respect of fellow musicians, a testament to the truth that if you give your being to the music you love, the music can turn that being into a remarkable life. His now-posthumous upcoming release, Step Back, is due out in September and features appearances from Clapton, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, Dr. John, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and others. They all knew what Winter meant.

Towards the end of Raisin’ Cain, Winter is asked how he’d liked to be remembered. He answered, simply, “As a good blues player.”

Johnny Winter was much more than that.

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shane gibsonApril 15, 2014 – Shane Paul Gibson was born February 21, 1979 in Houma, Louisiana. He graduated in 2002 from the Berklee College of Music, moving then to Los Angeles, where he first worked as a roadie for Kiss and later on TV spots and music for movies, before becoming the touring lead guitarist for the rock band Korn, after the departure of Brian “Head” Welch in February 2005. He also played the lead guitar for the solo tour of Jonathan Davis from Korn.

He was than hired on and joined forces in a project group called, Mr Creepy. The band was formed by Arthur Gonzales who also brought in (studio musicain) Michael G Clark, award winning bassist/vocalist, Jasmine Cain, and ex-Black Label Society drummer, Mike Froedge.

In 2010 he formed American avant-garde metal supergroup, stOrk along with session drummer Thomas Lang. The band’s self titled debut album, stOrk, was released in January 2011. Their second album, Broken Pieces, was set to be released on April 29, 2014, which turned out to be 2 weeks after his passing.

Shane was also a founding member of the heavy metal/comedy act named SchwarZenatoR along with JP Von Hitchburg and Jonathan Weed. Their self-titled debut album was released on February 23rd 2010. He also played guitar on Godhead singer Jason C. Miller’s solo album Last to Go Home and in 2010, he recorded the single “Free” with band Echoes the Fall.

Gibson sadly died from a blood clotting disorder on April 15, 2014. He was 35 at the time.

Gibson was most recently a member of STORK, the project featuring super drummer Thomas Lang (PAUL GILBERT), lead singer VK Lynne (VITA NOVAEve’s Apple) and bassist Kelly LeMieux (BUCKCHERRYGOLDFINGER).

stORK released the following statement regarding Gibson‘s passing:

“It is with deepest sadness and regret that we must confirm that STORK founding member and lead guitarist Shane Paul Gibson passed away at 5:45 a.m. on April 15th, 2014 in the UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama as a result of complications from a blood clotting disorder. He was 35 years old. 

Shane was one of the best guitar players the world has ever known and his virtuosity was matched only by his wit and generosity of spirit. He will be missed beyond measure.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all those who loved him as much as we did.”

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Franny Beecher24 February, 2014 – Francis “Franny” Beecher was born on September 29, 1921 in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Franny Beecher joined Bill Haley and the Comets in 1954, replacing guitarist Danny Cedrone, who had died. Frank Beecher had already enjoyed fame as the lead guitarist in the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1948-49. He appeared on The Toast of the Town show (which later became The Ed Sullivan Show) on CBS television with the Benny Goodman band in December, 1948. He is featured on two Benny Goodman albums, Modern Benny on Capitol and Benny Goodman at the Hollywood Palladium. Personnel lists generally refer to him as Francis Beecher.

During his time with Bill Haley the Comets Beecher’s guitar solos became legendary combining elements of country music and jazz. He composed the classics “Blue Comet Blues”, “Goofin’ Around” and “Shaky”. He also played with The Kingsmen in 1958, a band made up of members of Bill Haley & His Comets who were moonlighting from their regular work with Haley. This group scored a hit record (#35) on Billboard with the instrumental entitled “Week End”, written by Rudy Pompilli, Franny Beecher, and Billy Williamson. They released a follow-up single on East West Records featuring “The Catwalk” backed with “Conga Rock”.

Although the Comets did the actual recordings, when The Kingsmen went on tour a different set of musicians performed instead of Haley’s people.

The band made at least one appearance on American Bandstand in 1958.

Beecher left the Comets in 1962, but 25 years later in 1987, he participated in a Comets reunion and, though in his late 70s, he continued to perform and record with the band into 2006.

In 2012, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him as a member of the Comets by a special committee, aimed at correcting the previous mistake of not inducting the Comets with Bill Haley.

He died peacefully in his sleep on Feb. 24, 2014 at the age of 92.

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pete-haycock-58October 30, 2013 – Peter John “Pete” Haycock was born on March 4, 1951 in Stafford, England. He attended St.John’s Primary School, then King Edward VI Boys Grammar School and played his first gig at a miners club at the age of 12.

In 1968 at 17, as lead guitarist, vocalist he founded the Climax Chicago Blues Band along with Richard Jones on bass, guitarist-vocalist Derek Holt, keyboardist Arthur Wood, George Newsome on drums and harmonica player- vocalist Colin Cooper. Two years later they changed their name to the Climax Blues Band in 1970.

The band produced more than 15 successful albums in their heyday, before they finally split in 1988. Pete launched a solo career and in 1990, he joined up with former ELO’s Bev Bevan, to form Electric Light Orchestra Part II. The group toured and recorded in the early 1990s, releasing both a live CD and video of their performance with the Moscow Symphony Orchestre.

Also in the 90s Pete began scoring music for films as he was asked by Hans Zimmer to collaborate on several projects, including K2 and Drop Zone among others. Pete formed several of his own bands, continued to record and perform and had been a featured guest with the Siggi Schwarz’ band, performing on the same bill with ZZ Top and Johnny Winter in 2012.

In 2013 he formed of a super-group recording and scheduled for touring as Pete Haycock’s Climax Blues Band featuring Robin George, several tracks of new material had been completed before Pete’s death.

He sadly died from a heart attack on October 30, 2013 at age 62.

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Jan Kuehnemund 10/2013

Vixen performing at The Hard Rock Hell Winter Ball held at Butlins Somerwest World in MineheadOctober 10, 2013 – Janice Lynn “Jan” Kuehnemund (Vixen) was born on November 18th 1961 in St.Paul Minnesota.  She was the original founding member of the all-female American hard rock band Vixen in 1973.

In 1981 she moved the entire band to California to get better exposure. Hailed as “the female Bon Jovi”, the band achieved commercial success during the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of the Los Angeles, California glam metal scene and Kuehnemund was called “the best female guitarist around” back in the day.

She toured with the Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Bon Jovi, as did an appearance in the era’s definitive documentary, Penelope Spheeris’ “The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years.”

Her trademark guitar playing can be heard on their debut album Vixen in 1988, the follow up album Rev It Up in 1990 which was less successful than the debut album and their reunion album Live & Learn released in 2006. Vixen in the original line up performed for the last time with Deep Purple in England before breaking up in 1991.

They reunited after a VH1 effort called Bands Reunited in November 2004 and resulted in the album “Live and Learn”.

Living in Los Angeles beautiful, talented Jan Kuehnemund sadly died while battling cancer on October 10, 2013 at age 51.

This video tells the reunion of the band Vixen in 2004.

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Jeff HannemanMay 2, 2013 – Jeffrey John “Jeff” Hanneman was born on January 31, 1964 in Oakland CA, but grew up further south in Long Beach. He is best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

The story goes that in 1981 he approached Kerry King, when King was auditioning for a southern rock band “Ledger”. After the try-out session, the two guitarists started talking and playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs and decided to form their own band, and Slayer was born.

A journalist once wrote, “The mark of greatness is when everything before you is obsolete and everything after you bears your mark.” This quote was originally used to memorialize iconic comedian Richard Pryor, but the significance of those words shine great enlightenment onto the career and creative accomplishments of late Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman.
Jeff Hanneman was the Beethoven of thrash metal. The guitarist’s unique compositional skills mixed with his atmospheric leads and full-speed-ahead shredding was unlike anything that came before it. Two years after Slayer formed in 1981, the band unleashed their debut album, ‘Show No Mercy,’ which contains Hanneman masterpieces such as ‘Die by the Sword’ and ‘Fight Till Death.’ The guitar work showcased by Hanneman within those pieces combines the technical prowess of Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen while recklessly stomping on the accelerator to attain inhuman velocity. Drooling crowds worldwide had never witnessed any guitarist attack a solo with such a chaotic stranglehold, and Hanneman kept it going for three decades.

Already renowned as underground messiahs, Slayer gifted the world of thrash with their signature album, ‘Reign in Blood,’ in 1986. This is when Jeff Hanneman truly immortalized himself as one of the best thrash composers of all time. The greatest of evils sparked possessive inspiration within Hanneman as the guitarist penned both the music and lyrics for the genre-defining ‘Angel of Death’; a piece exploring the practices of monstrous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Hanneman was the most prolific contributor to ‘Reign in Blood,’ shaping further classics including ‘Postmortem’ and the divine opus ‘Raining Blood.’

Hanneman more than contributed lyrical and musical material to every Slayer album. He was Slayer and wrote the songs “Raining Blood”, “War Ensemble”, “South of Heaven”, “Seasons in the Abyss” and “Angel of Death”.

The unparalleled genius continued to ooze from Hanneman’s every pore as the guitarist spearheaded every original track on Slayer’s essential 1988 album, ‘South of Heaven,’ along with the bulk of its proceeding masterwork, ‘Seasons in the Abyss.’ Hanneman’s last great achievement with Slayer came with the 2009 full-length, ‘World Painted Blood,’ as the musician molded the phenomenal ‘Psychopathy Red’ along with ‘Unit 731′ and the album’s title track.

In 2011, Jeff Hanneman was stricken with a bizarre case of necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating disease which spreads through the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues. Hanneman likely contracted the affliction from a spider bite, and according to the guitarist, was “an hour away from death” by the time he reached medical care.
The final years of Jeff Hanneman’s life were spent recovering from his bout with necrotizing fasciitis while Exodus guitarist and friend Gary Holt filled in for Hanneman during Slayer’s live dates. Fans had been anxiously awaiting Hanneman’s return to the stage, eager to welcome back the shredder after more than two years spent on the sidelines.

Tragically, Slayer fanatics and future converts will never be able to witness such a return, as the legendary guitarist passed away from liver failure on May 2, 2013. The most afflictive aspect of Hanneman’s passing, which continuously and painfully twists the blade now forced into our stomachs, is that fate or destiny or life or nature or God has seemingly given us the wrong ending to a phenomenal story and a phenomenal life. We as human begins, who share a collective consciousness, accept that there is a second date which will unavoidably be etched onto our tombstones.

On some mystery day, all we’ve taken in our lives will be taken back, but despite the unpredictability of death, we all share the desire to go out with guns blazing. What if Jeff Hanneman had been able to play one more show? Would a triumphant return to the stage have dulled the sting of his untimely death? Regardless, we as metalheads hold our memories of Jeff Hanneman with an iron clutch, and the means in which he enriched our lives can never be ripped away.
Jeff died from liver failure at age 49. R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman (Jan. 31, 1964 – May 2, 2013)


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Bob Brozman 4/2013

Guitarist Bob BrozmanApril 23, 2013 – Robert Charles “Bob” Brozman was born to a Jewish family living on Long Island, New York, United States. He began playing the guitar when he was 6.

He performed in a number of styles, including gypsy jazz, calypso, blues, ragtime, Hawaiian music, and Caribbean music. He also collaborated with musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds, from India, Africa, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Réunion. He has been called “an instrumental wizard” and “a walking archive of 20th Century American music”. Brozman maintained a steady schedule throughout the year, touring constantly throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. He recorded numerous albums and has won the Guitar Player Readers’ Poll three times in the categories Best Blues, Best World and Best Slide Guitarist. In 1999, Brozman and Woody Mann founded International Guitar Seminars, which hosts over 120 students annually at sites in California, New York, and Canada. From 2000 to 2005 his collaborations landed in the European Top 10 for World Music five times. Continue reading Bob Brozman 4/2013

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peter_banks2March 7, 2013 – Peter Banks (Yes) was born Peter Brockbanks on July 15th 1947 in Barnet, North London. He learned to play the guitar on an acoustic his dad bought for him and banjo as a sidekick.

Banks started his career in music with The Nighthawks in 1963 and played his first concert at the New Barnet Pop Festival before leaving that band to join The Devil’s Disciples in 1964. The band consisted of Banks on guitar, John Tite on vocals, Ray Alford on bass and Malcolm “Pinnie” Raye on drums. They recorded two songs on an acetate, Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” (a hit for the Stones a little later) and Graham Gouldman’s (10CC) “For Your Love” which would be a hit record for The Yardbirds one year later. These two songs can be found on Banks’ archival album Can I Play You Something.

According to Chris Welch’s book “Close to the edge – The story of Yes”, The Devil’s Disciples used to play The Rolling Stones’ first album in its entirety, just for the sake of it. About a year later, Banks joined The Syndicats, replacing their guitarist Ray Fenwick, who himself had replaced Steve Howe, and himself would later replace Banks in Yes.

He joined the band Syn shortly after it formed in 1965, where he met bassist Chris Squire. They were joined by keyboardist Andrew Pryce Jackman, Steve Nardelli on vocals as well as Gunnar Jökull Hákonarson on drums. They recorded two hit singles “Created By Clive” with flipside “Grounded” and “Flowerman” with flipside “14 Hour Technicolour Dream” both in 1967 before calling it a day a year later.

Andrew Jackman would become an arranger and play piano on Squire’s first solo album Fish Out of Water in 1975 and on his single “Run with the Fox” in 1980, and played on Steve Howe’s Beginnings in 1975 and The Steve Howe Album in 1979, he was also credited for his work on Yes’s Tormato album in 1978.

Squire meanwhile joined friends Clive Bailey (rhythm guitar) and Bob Hagger (drums) in Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, and Banks came to join that band. He briefly left the band, which was subsequently joined by singer Jon Anderson and then drummer Bill Bruford replacing Hagger. During that short period of time, Banks played with the band Neat Change, recording one single, “I Lied to Aunty May” with Chris Squire on tambourine and chorus.

Banks then returned to Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, and with the loss of Clive Bailey and the addition of organist/pianist Tony Kaye, they started to write new music together, adding to a repertoire including two songs already written, “Beyond and Before” by Jon Anderson and Clive Bailey and then “Sweetness” by Anderson, Bailey and Chris Squire.

The members searched for an appropriate name, Jon would suggest Life and Chris would propose World but all would agree on Banks’ proposition ; Yes. All parts agreed that the name was not meant to be permanent, but just a temporary solution. And today, more than 50 years later, the name still remains.

Atlantic Records took notice of the band and, in 1969, got them into a studio to record their first album, Yes. The next year another album was in progress (Time and a Word) but Anderson and Squire decided they wanted an orchestra backing the five musicians. The idea was not well received by Banks, and things got worse when the orchestral arrangements left the guitarist, as well as Tony Kaye, with little to do (strings replaced their parts almost note-for-note). Once the album was released, a tour ensued; Banks was asked to leave the group, playing his last concert with Yes on 18 April 1970 at The Luton College of Technology. He was replaced by Steve Howe.

During Yes’ 1991 Union tour, Tony Kaye invited Peter Banks to play during the encore at 15 May show at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, United States. Banks accepted the invitation and went to the show. According to Classic Artists: Yes, Banks was told by Kaye prior to the show that Steve Howe didn’t want Banks to play at the show. Howe has since denied this in interviews on Notes From The Edge.

In August 1994, Banks was a featured guest at a Yes fan festival called “Yestival”. In 1995, he performed “Astral Traveler” on the Yes tribute album Tales From Yesterday. In 1997, he coordinated the release of a Yes compilation titled Something’s Coming: The BBC Recordings 1969-1970. His liner notes described his early days with the band. Banks was also present at “Yestival” in July 1998. In 2006, he was interviewed for the Yes documentary Classic Artists: Yes. A few music videos featuring him with Yes during their early days can be seen in The Lost Broadcasts DVD released in 2009.

After leaving Yes, and while looking for some other musical projects, Banks supported Blodwyn Pig for a brief period in late 1970, replacing their original guitarist Mick Abrahams. He guested as session musician on an album by Chris Harwood, with other musicians like Dave Lambert of The Strawbs on guitar, Tommy Eyre on keybaords later with Rainbow, ex-King Crimson Ian McDonald on sax and flute as well as ex-Spencer Davis Group Peter York on percussion.

In 1971 Banks formed Flash and sessions began for a first album, with Tony Kaye guesting on keyboards. The record appeared in 1972 (called simply Flash) and had a warm reception. Subsequent to Kaye’s involvement, Banks took the dual role of guitarist and keyboardist. Flash recorded and released its second album (In the Can) in November that same year; and the third (Out of Our Hands) in 1973.

Parallel to that, Banks and Dutch virtuoso guitarist Jan Akkerman became friends and started to play and record together. Banks also played on an album by Roger Ruskin Spear at that time. In 1973, not long after the third and final Flash release, Banks released Two Sides of Peter Banks. Guest musicians included Akkerman, bassist John Wetton, drummer Phil Collins, guitarist Steve Hackett and fellow Flash members Ray Bennett and Mike Hough.

Around the summer of 1973, Banks played with the jazz-rock band called Zox & the Radar Boys, including Phil Collins (drums) and his mate from the Flaming Youth days Ronnie Caryl on guitar, Mike Piggott (violin) and John Howitt (bass).

In 1973, while trying to form a second incarnation of Flash, Banks recruited musicians and fell in love with the singer Sydney Foxx (real name Sidonie Jordan). She soon became his wife. Named as Empire, Banks, Foxx, and various other band members recorded three albums up to 1979. Phil Collins played drums and John Giblin from Brand X played bass on their first album, Mark I.

Banks and Foxx divorced, although Empire remained together as a band for some time after.

The only released works of Banks in the second half of the 1970s were a number of session appearances, on separate albums by Lonnie Donegan and Jakob Magnússon. In 1981, another recording by Empire appeared. In 1983, he played the guitar solo on Lionel Ritchie’s well known ballad Hello, but his work was not credited. Banks made an appearance on Romeo Unchained, a 1986 album by Tonio K. He also worked with Ian Wallace in The Teabags, including Jackie Lomax on vocals and Kim Gardner on bass, the two played before with Tony Kaye’s Badger, David Mansfield on guitar and Mel Collins on sax and flute. No recordings came out of that.

In 1993, Banks released Instinct, a solo album of instrumental tracks with him playing all the parts. Only a keyboard player, Gerald Goff, joined him for his next album, Self Contained (1995). In 1997, Banks was mainly responsible for the release of a double live Yes album, Something’s Coming: The BBC Recordings 1969–1970 (renamed Beyond and Before in the US), a collection of appearances at the BBC during 1969 and 1970, featuring the original line-up in all tracks and with a booklet containing the guitarist’s account of those early days.

Another archival release was Psychosync, a live Flash recording made in 1973 for the King Biscuit Flower Hour and finally released in 1998. Also, between 1995 and 1997 all three Empire albums were released (one per year). Banks also collaborated in 1995’s Tales From Yesterday (a Yes tribute album) performing a version of the song “Astral Traveller” with Robert Berry; appeared on the album Big Beats in 1997; and played on 1999’s Encores, Legends and Paradox, an Emerson, Lake & Palmer tribute album. He contributed to 1999’s Come Together People of Funk by Funky Monkey (including keyboardist Gerard Johnson who helped on a number of Banks’ projects in the 1990s and who also worked with Banks’ old bandmate Chris Squire).

Those collaborations filled the gap in his own recording career, until 1999, when the album Reduction was issued. In 2000, Banks put out a collection of his oldest recordings (many previously unreleased) called Can I Play You Something?. The front sleeve of this last record showed an eight-year-old Banks posing with his first guitar. The track listing includes some early recordings by The Syn, Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, and Yes, including an early rendition of the song “Beyond and Before”.

Following an appearance by Banks and Geoff Downes together at the 1998 edition of Yestival (a Yes fan festival), the pair played some sessions and the possibility of Banks joining Asia was mooted. However, these sessions did not lead anywhere.

Banks appeared in small concerts by new young local bands, including the Yes tribute band Fragile. Recorded appearances by Banks include Jabberwocky (2000) and Hound of the Baskervilles (2002), a pair of albums recorded by Oliver Wakeman (Rick Wakeman’s son) and Clive Nolan. Rick Wakeman also narrated on the Jabberwocky album. Peter Banks also guested further on the Funky Monkey project.

Banks was initially involved in a reunion of The Syn in 2004, but left the band. After early talks in 2004, he was also not included in the current Flash reunion, which made their debut return at the Prog Day Festival 2010 with Flash bassist Ray Bennett taking over on lead guitar.

In late 2004, Banks formed a new improvising band, Harmony in Diversity, with Andrew Booker and Nick Cottam (who had been working together as duo Pulse Engine). They played a short UK tour in March 2006, and released an album called Trying. Booker left the band soon after. He was replaced by David Speight and the band continued to play further dates in the UK and Hungary in 2007. Banks was also planning a related project with keyboardist Gonzalo Carrera.

In Gibson Guitar’s ‘Lifestyle’ e-magazine of 3 February 2009, Banks is listed as one of the “10 Great Prog Rock Guitarists.” According to the article, “Before there was Steve Howe, there was Peter Banks. Artistic differences between Banks and singer Jon Anderson prompted Banks’s departure from Yes in 1970, but in his little-known ’70s band, Flash, Banks used an ES-335 to create several should-have-been prog rock classics.

Peter died from heart failure on March 7, 2013 at age 65.

A personal insight into Peter Banks

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Alvin Lee 68March 6, 2013 – Alvin Lee, born Graham Anthony Barnes on Dec. 19, 1944, was a truly inspired blues rock guitarist-vocalist, whose performance with Ten Years After during Woodstock 1969, catapulted him into superstardom. The song “I’m Going Home” became legendary and his speed earned him the title “The Fastest Guitarist in the West”. A lifelong search for freedom resulted in more than 20 albums of superb blues rock. Ten Years After would ultimately tour the US twenty-eight times in seven years – more than any other UK band.

He was born in Nottingham and attended the Margaret Glen-Bott School in Wollaton. He began playing guitar at the age of 13 and in 1960, Lee along with Leo Lyons formed the core of the band Ten Years After. Influenced by his parents’ collection of jazz and blues records, it was the advent of rock and roll that sparked his interest.

He began to play professionally in 1962, in a band named the Jaybirds, they began that year to perform in the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany. After a couple of name changes by 1966 they had finally decided on the name Ten Years After. The band also secured a residency at the Marquee Club, and an invitation to the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in 1967 led to their first recording contract. The self-titled début album received airplay on San Francisco’s underground music radio.

The band and especially Lee’s performance at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969 was captured on film in the documentary of the event, and his ‘lightning-fast’ playing helped catapult him to stardom. Soon the band was playing arenas and stadiums around the globe. The film brought Lee’s music to a worldwide audience, although he later lamented that he missed the lost freedom and spiritual dedication with his earlier public. Lee was named “the Fastest guitarist in the West”, and considered a precursor to shred-style playing that would develop in the 1980s. en Years After had toured the US 28 times over a seven-year period.

Ten Years After had success, releasing ten albums together, but by 1973, Lee was feeling limited by the band’s style. Moving to Columbia Records had resulted in a radio hit song, “I’d Love To Change the World”, but Lee preferred blues-rock to the pop to which the label steered them.

He left the group after their second Columbia LP. With American Christian rock pioneer Mylon LeFevre, along with guests George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood and Mick Fleetwood, he recorded and released On the Road to Freedom, an acclaimed album that was at the forefront of country rock.

Also in 1973 he sat in on the Jerry Lee Lewis double album The Session…Recorded in London with Great Artists, featuring many other guest stars including Albert Lee, Peter Frampton and Rory Gallagher. A year later, in response to a dare, Lee formed Alvin Lee & Company to play a show at the Rainbow in London and released it as a double live album, In Flight. Various members of the band continued on with Lee for his next two albums, Pump Iron! and Let It Rock. In late 1975, he played guitar for a couple of tracks on Bo Diddley’s The 20th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll all-star album.

He finished out the 1970s with an outfit called “Ten Years Later”, with Tom Compton on drums and Mick Hawksworth on bass, which released two albums, Rocket Fuel (1978) and Ride On (1979), and toured extensively throughout Europe and the United States. He was the quintessential peacenik of his time, interested in spiritualism and playing blues-rock, much in the same manner as his contemporary Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac fame, he walked away from the commerce angle in search of freedom.

Lee’s overall musical output includes more than twenty albums, including 1987’s Detroit Diesel, 1989’s About Time (Ten Years After album), recorded in Memphis with producer Terry Manning, and the back to back 1990s collections of Zoom and Nineteen Ninety-Four (US title I Hear You Rockin’ ). Guest artists on both albums included George Harrison.

In Tennessee, recorded with Scotty Moore and D. J. Fontana, was released in 2004. Lee’s last album, Still on the Road to Freedom, was released in September 2012.

He died on March 6, 2013 in Marbella Spain, while undergoing a routine surgical procedure and the world lost one of the most inspiring yet underrated guitarists in blues-rock. It was later revealed by Lee’s family that he had been hospitalized for a procedure to correct an atrial arrhythmia.


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Big Jim

bigjim92October 2, 2012 – Big Jim Sullivan was born James George Tomkins on February 14, 1941 British guitarist born in Middlesex. In 1959, he met Marty Wilde at The 2i’s Coffee Bar, and was invited to become a member of his backing group, the Wildcats, who were the warm up act on the television series, Oh, Boy!.

The Wildcats backed Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on their tour of Britain in 1960. In the 60s and 70s he also played on hits by Billy Fury, Frank Ifield, Adam Faith, Frankie Vaughan, Helen Shapiro, Freddie and the Dreamers, Cilla Black, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, Georgie Fame, Bobby Darin, Little Richard, The Walker Brothers, Donovan, David Bowie, Engelbert Humperdinck, Benny Hill, The New Seekers, Thunderclap Newman, Love Affair, Long John Baldry, Marmalade, Small Faces, The Tremeloes, Rolf Harris, George Harrison and many more as well as being a member of Tom Jones’ band.

He performed on no less than 55 No.1 hits singles during this time!!!

In 1975, he teamed up with Derek Lawrence, to form the record label, Retreat Records. They produced various artists over a period of about two years. Amongst them were Labi Siffre, Chas & Dave and McGuinness Flint and he produced and arranged Siffre’s “I Got The …” which was sampled by Eminem.

Jim and Lawrence went to the United States during this period, to produce the glam metal band, Angel. In 1978, he became part of the James Last Orchestra for nine years, and also toured with Olivia Newton-John after her success with Grease.

In 1987, he began composing music for films and jingles. Later, he and guitarist Doug Pruden toured as the BJS Duo, and he also played in the Big Jim Sullivan Band with Pete Shaw, Duncan McKenzie and Malcolm Mortimore.

In 2006 he was featured in the Guitar Maestros DVD series with Doug Pruden.

Sadly Jim died from complications of heart disease and diabetes at age 71 on October 2, 2012.

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pete-coseyMay 30, 2012 – Peter Palus “Pete” Cosey was born on October 9th 1943 in Chicago. He was the only child of a musical family. His father and mother wrote for Louis Jordan and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and his father played for Sidney Bechet and Josephine Baker.

In the early years of the 1960s Pete became a key session musician at Chess Records, appearing on recordings by Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, the Rotary Connection, and Etta James, and he worked with the great Phil Cohran in the Artistic Heritage Ensemble.

Pete was also an early member of The Pharaohs and a group with drummer Maurice White and bassist Louis Satterfield that eventually evolved into Earth, Wind & Fire.

Yet he is probably most remembered for his genius work with Miles Davis in the early to mid 70s when Davis broke up the band in 1975. Pete played on the famous bandleader/trumpeter’s heaviest, most electric avantgarde albums, including Agharta, Pangaea, and Get Up With It. His fiercely flanged and distorted guitar work bore more than a few comparisons to Jimi Hendrix.

Afterwards Pete continued to appear on records, including Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock and an album with Japanese saxophonist Akira Sakata. In 2003, he scored a short film, directed by Eli Mavros, Alone Together and in 2004, he appeared in the Godfathers and Sons episode of Martin Scorsese’s documentary series The Blues.

In 2007-08, Pete contributed to 5 tracks on the CD Miles from India, which celebrates the music of Miles Davis: “Ife (Fast)”, “It’s About That Time”, “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down”, “Great Expectations”, and “Ife (Slow)”.

On May 30, 2012, he died at age 68 from complications following surgery.

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Bugs HendersonMarch 8, 2012 – Buddy “Bugs” Henderson was born on October 20th 1943 in Palm Springs, California, but grew up in Tyler, Texas. At age 16 he formed a band called the Sensores and later joined Mouse and the Traps. Living in Dallas-Fort Worth during the early 1970s, he became lead guitarist for the blues/rock band Nitzinger before one-hit pop wonder Bruce Channel recruited him into a band.

He established his own band the Shuffle Kings, and spent his entire working life as musician performing in Fort Worth clubs and all over the world, forging and establishing a large cult following. He released 18 albums, while his guitarplaying style impressed musicians such as Eric Clapton, Freddie King, Johnny Winter, Johnny Hyland and Ted Nugent.

Henderson was hugely popular in Europe and toured the continent often from the 1970s on.

Henderson played with blues legends such as B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan, also with Rhythm and Blues saxophonist Don Wise and rock guitarist Ted Nugent.

He died on March 8, 2012 from complications of liver cancer just four days after a benefit concert in his honor. The performers at the 11-hour “Benefit Bugs” event included Ray Wylie Hubbard, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King, and Mouse & the Traps, the band from early in his career with the hit songs, “A Public Execution” and “Maid of Sugar – Maid of Spice” that featured some of his most famous guitar solos.

He was 68.

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ronnie montroseMarch 3, 2012 – Ronnie Montrose. There are credible sources that claim he was born November 29, 1947 in Denver, Colorado, and others say he was born in San Francisco, California. No confusion is there about his early childhood in Colorado.

In his own words Montrose was born in San Francisco, California. When he was a toddler, his parents moved back to his mother’s home state of Colorado (his father was from Bertrand, Nebraska, and his mother was from Golden, Colorado). He spent most of his younger years in Denver, Colorado until he ran away at about 16 years old to pursue a musical career. He ultimately spent most of his life in the San Francisco Bay area, where he became an influential, highly-rated player whose crunchy riffs, fluid licks and mesmerising solos lit up FM radio during the 1970s.

His father had been a jazz drummer and expected one of his three sons to follow in his footsteps, but the young Ronnie had other ideas. “I picked up a friend’s guitar when I was 17,” he said. “I didn’t find it. It found me … I could see on the fretboard where these notes were and what I was doing with them and how things went together.”

He clearly acknowledged the influence his hi-fi buff father had on his musical tastes. “He always had big band music around, the great singers, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. I was also exposed to Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk. I had melody thrown at me from an early age, and I didn’t realise until later how deeply it had really instilled itself in me. It gave me a sensibility for melody,” he explained when asked about his distinctive tone and lyrical style.

In thrall to the British Invasion which coincided with his discovery of the guitar, he attempted to emulate players like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix and joined a beat group called the Grim Reapers. In 1968 hereturned to San Francisco, the then counter-cultural world capital. He was introduced to the concert promoter Bill Graham when he helped redecorate his office in 1970; Graham and the producer David Rubinson signed Sawbuck, the band Montrose had started with the bassist Bill Church, but such was his prowess on the guitar that they recommended him for session work with Herbie Hancock.

The next year Montrose auditioned for Van Morrison, who had relocated to the Bay Area. He played acoustic and electric guitar as well as mandolin on the seminal Tupelo Honey, setting the album’s mood beautifully with his contribution to “Wild Night”, the opener. Montrose also featured on “Listen To The Lion”, the lengthiest track on the next Morrison album, Saint Dominic’s Preview, but by the time of its release in summer 1972 he had toured with Boz Scaggs for three months and joined the Edgar Winter Group. Only briefly a member of the Edgar Winter Group, he appeared on They Only Come Out At Night, the 1972 album which contained the barnstorming, chart-topping instrumental “Frankenstein” and the equally infectious “Free Ride”, two tracks that have become staples of classic rock stations and the video game Rock Band 3. Montrose’s work with Edgar Winter however gave him the freedom to express himself both musically and on stage. Soon, Montrose had gained some notoriety for being a wild rock guitarist. In the summer of 1973, he decided it was time for him to move on to his own career as a bandleader and left Edgar Winter. He recruited a young, unknown singer named Sammy Hagar, along with drummer Denny Carmassi and bassist Bill Church. The foursome formed the band Montrose and signed a record deal with Warner Bros.

Montrose became a hard-rocking quartet recording two albums that have cast a long shadow over the heavy metal genre. Their self-titled debut in particular inspired Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses, and provided repertoire for Iron Maiden, who covered “Space Station #5”, and Van Halen, who used to play “Rock Candy” and “Make It Last” before they were discovered in 1977. (Heavy metal cognoscenti often argue that Montrose served as the template for the worldwide success of Van Halen, whose first six Warner Brothers albums were overseen by Ted Templeman, the producer of Montrose and its 1974 follow-up Paper Money. When David Lee Roth left Van Halen in 1985 he was replaced by Sammy Hagar, the former Montrose lead singer.)

Ostensibly modeled on the high-energy rock of Led Zeppelin, Montrose looked set for superstardom. In May 1974 the group appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test and delivered a scorching performance of “Bad Motor Scooter”.

The following January they returned to Europe on the Warner Bros Music Show package tour alongside the Doobie Brothers, Little Feat, Graham Central Station, Tower Of Power and Bonaroo. This included a memorable show at the Rainbow Theatre in London, but they felt their label wasn’t totally supportive.

We were like the Warner Brothers token, house, heavy rock band. We’d get to places and play, and people would go nuts, but we didn’t have any indication that that was happening through the record company,” remarked the guitarist, who was also frustrated by what he perceived as Hagar’s limitations as a vocalist. “I did fire him from the Montrose band for some of the same reasons that I left the Edgar Winter Group. He was on to his own thing.”

Vocalist Bob James replaced Hagar, and Montrose released two more albums – Warner Bros. Presents Montrose and Jump On It. The band had also added keyboardist Jim Alcivar to the line-up. However, the latter two albums never matched the success of the first two. Rolling Stone reviewer Andy McKaie described Warner Bros. Presents Montrose as “slick and spiritless” and “utterly pedestrian.” He wrote, “For a band that started with so much promise, this is a sad situation.”

Ronnie Montrose dissolved the Montrose band in 1976 and began experimenting with his own music. In 1978, he emerged with his first solo album, Open Fire, produced by Edgar Winter. The album included a reworking of Gene Pitney’s “Town Without Pity,” which would later change the guitarist’s direction once again. According to Jon Sievert in Guitar Player, “The all-instrumental album disappointed, even angered, hardcore Montrose metal fans.”

In response to criticism about Open Fire’s lack of marketability, Montrose formed another hard rock band called Gamma in the fall of 1979. This time, he recruited singer Davey Pattison, bassist Alan Fitzgerald, drummer Skip Gillette, and keyboardist Jim Alcivar. The group signed a record contract with Elektra records. They released three albums–Gamma 1, Gamma 2, and Gamma 3–over the next three years.

By 1981, Gamma had replaced Jim Alcivar with Mitchell Froom on keyboards. At the Bay Area Music Awards, Montrose and Froom played a critically acclaimed version of “Town Without Pity.” The performance laid the groundwork for Montrose’s next project as a duo with Froom. Gamma disbanded the following year, when Montrose felt the group was falling into the same rut as the Montrose band had.

In 1983, Montrose and Froom played a club tour showcasing their new music, an all-instrumental hard rock style combined with jazz and progressive rock. He also performed a piece written for electric guitar and orchestra with the Berkeley Symphony. The orchestra had previously performed one of Ronnie Montrose’s own songs called “My Little Mystery.” During the same year, he contributed to Paul Kantner’s solo album Planet Earth Rock & Roll Orchestra.

In 1985 he joined Seattle’s Rail (winners of MTV’s first Basement Tapes video competition) for several months. He was looking for a new band and one of Rail’s guitarists, Rick Knotts, had recently left. Billed as ‘Rail featuring Montrose’ or ‘Ronnie & Rail’, they played a set of half Rail favorites and half Montrose songs (“Rock Candy”, “Rock the Nation”, “Matriarch”, and Gamma’s remake of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”). At the end of the tour, there was an amicable split.

Montrose continued to combine different styles of music on his next solo album Territory, released in 1986. One reviewer wrote in Down Beat, “Ronnie Montrose offers a varied menu on Territory. From pop to disco to grinding rock and fusion to New Age, it’s an ambitious undertaking.”

A year later, Ronnie Montrose resurrected the Montrose band name with singer Johnny Edwards, bassis Glenn Letsch, and drummer James Kottak. The new group only released one album on Enigma Records called Mean. By 1988, Ronnie Montrose had returned to his solo career with the album The Speed of Sound. “This all-instrumental effort tends to focus more on his crunching, power side coupled with ethereal lyricism,” wrote Jon Sievert in Guitar Player.

Two years later, Montrose rejoined with singer Davey Pattison for a few songs on his The Diva Station album. Then after another two-year break, Montrose released Mutatis Mutandis on I.R.S. Records. “Ronnie Montrose is back as the thinking blue-collar man’s guitar hero,” Robin Tolleson wrote in his Down Beat review, “playing with authority and – on tracks like “Heavy Agenda” and “Velox” – with a lot of soul.” During the same year, Montrose contributed to guitarist Marc Bonilla’s album EE Ticket.

In 1994, Montrose released Music From Here on Fearless Urge Records. The album featured his future wife, Michele Graybeal, on drums and percussion. He also continued to play on recordings for other artists. In 1995, he performed on four songs for Anti-M’s Positively Negative album.
The following year, Montrose entered another world of music endeavors with a soundtrack for the Sega Genesis video game Mr. Bones. The game featured a wandering blues guitarist, and Montrose contributed all of the background music for the game. “It’s the first time a soundtrack CD is selling one-for-one with the game itself,” Montrose told Gregory Isola in Guitar Player. “Last summer was the first in years that I didn’t have to spend pounding the pavement and playing clubs to pay the rent.”

After recording Mr. Bones, Montrose moved to Southern California. His fiancee, Michele Graybeal (whom he married in November of 1997), had a job working for Warner Bros. Animation, and Montrose decided it was time for a change of location. In early 1997, Montrose regrouped with the original members of the Montrose band–Sammy Hagar, Denny Carmassi, and Bill Church–for the song “Leaving the Warmth of the Womb” on Hagar’s Marching to Mars album.

Montrose recalled his experience with his former bandmates in an interview with John “Wedge” Wardlaw. “It was only after getting together with the four of us in the studio, hanging out and jamming with each other for the first time in about 20 years, that I rediscovered and realized how awesome a trio that was,” said Montrose.

Obviously, if I had cared about making a tremendous amount of money, I would have stuck with the first Montrose album,” Montrose told Jon Sievert in Guitar Player. After decades of staying true to his musical muse, Montrose planned to spend the rest of his career pursuing work on soundtracks, contributing to the work of other artists, and following his own solo style of music in whatever direction it would take him.

The original Montrose lineup also reformed to play as a special guest at several Sammy Hagar concerts in summer 2004 and 2005 and Montrose also performed regularly from 2001 until 2011 with a Montrose lineup featuring Keith St. John on lead vocals and a rotating cast of veteran hard rock players on bass and drums. In 2011, Montrose formed the ‘Ronnie Montrose Band’ with Randy Scoles on vocals, Dan McNay on bass, and Steve Brown on drums, playing music from his entire career, including both Montrose and Gamma songs. This lineup was captured in his final released work, the concert DVD Ronnie Montrose: Live at the Uptown.

During his 2009 tour, Montrose revealed that he had fought prostate cancer for the previous two years but was healthy once again; he continued to tour until his death.

On 3 March 2012, Ronnie Montrose died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death was originally assumed to be the result of his prostate cancer returning. However, the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office released a report which confirmed the guitarist had taken his own life.

The toxicology reported a blood alcohol content of 0.31 percent at the time of death. In early 2012, the deaths of his uncle and of Lola (his beloved bulldog, whose companionship helped him cope with his cancer recovery) apparently worsened what Guitar Player magazine described as “the clinical depression that plagued him since he was a toddler.”

He did session work with a variety of musicians, including Van Morrison (1971–72), Herbie Hancock (1971), Beaver & Krause (1971), Boz Scaggs (1971), Edgar Winter (1972 & 1996), Gary Wright (1975), The Beau Brummels (1975), Dan Hartman (1976), Tony Williams (1978), The Neville Brothers (1987), Marc Bonilla (1991 & 1993), Sammy Hagar (1997), Paul Kantner (1983) and Johnny Winter. The first Montrose album was often cited as “America’s answer to Led Zeppelin” and Ronnie Montrose was often referred to as one of the most influential guitarists in American hard rock.

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Bluesman Hubert SumlinDecember 4, 2011 – Hubert Sumlin was born on November 16, 1931 near Greenwood, Mississippi, and grew up across the river in Hughes, Arkansas, where he took up the guitar as a child; by his teens he was playing for local functions, sometimes with the harmonica player James Cotton. The first time Sumlin saw Howlin’ Wolf in action, as he told Living Blues magazine in 1989, he was too young to get into the club, so he climbed on to some Coca-Cola boxes to peer through a window; the boxes shifted and Sumlin fell into the room, landing on Wolf’s head. After the gig, Wolf drove him home and asked his mother not to punish him. “I followed him ever since,” Sumlin said.

At the time Wolf was working with the guitarists Willie Johnson and Pat Hare, but Sumlin was occasionally permitted to sit in. Then, in 1953, Wolf left the south for Chicago, where he would develop his music on the bustling club scene and in the studios of Chess Records. In spring 1954, he sent for Sumlin to join him, and soon afterwards the 23-year-old guitarist was heard on records such as Evil and Forty-Four, and a couple of years later the sublime Smokestack Lightning, though for a while he played second to more experienced guitarists like Johnson and Jody Williams.

Sumlin would serve under Wolf’s flag for more than 20 years, a collaboration interrupted only when he briefly jumped ship to join Muddy Waters, who paid better. (The resulting argument between Wolf and Waters, squaring up to each other like two Mafia bosses contesting their territories, was vividly dramatised in a movie about the Chess blues roster, Cadillac Records.)

“Wolf had a gravelly, hypermasculine voice and Hubert a jagged, unpredictable guitar style,” Wolf’s biographer Mark Hoffman wrote; “the two combined musically like gasoline and a lit match.” Contained within the two and a half minutes of a 45rpm single, these small explosions resonated around the world. Sumlin’s lissome solo, as much rock’n’roll as blues, on the endearingly silly Hidden Charms, and his spiky phrasing and strikingly vocalised tone on more heavyweight early-60s recordings such as Back Door Man, Built for Comfort, Tail Dragger and Goin’ Down Slow, ignited the imagination of trainee blues guitarists both at home and overseas. Spoonful was reworked by Cream, Killing Floor by Jimi Hendrix. “I love Hubert Sumlin,” said Jimmy Page recently. “He always played the right thing at the right time.” His singular playing was often characterized by “wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions”.

Wolf died in 1976, and Sumlin, whom the older man regarded almost as a son – indeed, on the funeral program he was named as such – took the loss very hard. He dropped out of music for a while, but returned to shape a career for himself, at first deliberately moving away from Chicago to Texas, where he left an impression on the Vaughan brothers, Jimmie and Stevie Ray.

Over the next 30-odd years he toured extensively in the US, Europe and Japan and made numerous albums for various blues labels, gradually revealing, and never quite overcoming, the problem that he was at heart an invaluable sideman rather than a natural leader. His conversational singing was seldom strong enough, or his own material striking enough, to grip the listener for the length of an album.

Perhaps aware of this, some producers solicited instrumentals, on acoustic guitar as well as electric, but unplugged he had less to say, though the quiet colloquy of his guitar and John Primer’s on the 1991 album Chicago Blues Session had a charming back-porch serenity. Nonetheless, on Wake Up Call (1998) he seemed to rediscover the verve and unpredictability that had made his work with Wolf so exciting, while the sympathetically produced About Them Shoes (2005) skirted the issue of his coarsening voice by focusing on his guitar, in settings buttressed by admirers including Clapton, Richards and Levon Helm.

Sumlin was nominated for a Grammy four times, most recently in 2010, and was placed 43rd in a 2011 Rolling Stone poll of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He had a lung removed in 2004. His wife Willie “Bea” Reed, whom he married in 1982, died in 1999.

He was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 2008; nominated for four Grammy Awards:- in 1999 for the album Tribute to Howlin’ Wolf with Henry Gray, Calvin Jones, Sam Lay, and Colin Linden, in 2000 for Legends with Pinetop Perkins, in 2006 for his solo project About Them Shoes and he won multiple Blues Music Awards.

Hubert sadly died from  heart failure on Dec 4, 2011 at age 80.

Added memo:

Jagger and Richards from the Rolling Stones – long-time admirers of Sumlin -, insisted on paying all funeral expenses for Sumlin. according to his manager and life partner.  Richards not only featured him on his 2005 album – in recent years, he helped cover the guitarist’s medical expenses. “The Stones – they’re nice people,” Sumlin told the New York Times in 2011. Musicians such as Richards “can run a ring around me as guitar players”, he explained, “but they respect me … They came to [Howlin’] Wolf’s house because, you know, they heard us doing Little Red Rooster.”

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gaye-delormeJune 23, 2011 – Gaye Delorme was born on March 20, 1947 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. He was an entirely self-taught virtuoso guitar player, having picked up the guitar at age fifteen during a stint in juvenile detention. After moving to Edmonton in the late 1960s, he got into trouble with the law, but soon found a way out of problems was the guitar. He formed the short-lived group The Window, referred to by some as Alberta’s answer to Jimi Hendrix. His other projects during those formative years included The Extemely Deep Guys and, during a brief stint in Vancouver, an R&B group called Django (named after his admiration for jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt).

It was his gift on the guitar that made him one of the most talented musicians on the scene, and other artists tapped into those various attributes through the years, whether it was flamenco, classical, country, folk, jazz, blues, or rock. His wide-range of skills often included his uncanny ability to emulate other instruments, such as the sitar and the koto. In fact, Stevie Ray Vaughan once described Delorme as “one of the best,” and “a monster” by Colin James.

A musical chameleon, those early experiences helped him carve out not one or two, but several niches while becoming an underground favorite. He would often also moonlight by sitting in on other performers’ sessions around town. It was during this period that he hooked up with fellow cult guitar hero Lenny Breau. The two would often tour together throughout the country and make stops in the US, amazing everyone who had a ticket. His first return to Edmonton was short, as before long he was playing mostly country in Calgary for a few years.

He spent a great deal of time in the late ’70s and early ’80s living in Los Angeles, collaborating often with Cheech and Chong, including writing their anthemic “Ear Ache My Eye,” a song covered or sampled by over a dozen heavy metal, punk, and hip-hop artists over the years. He also worked on “Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie,” and scored their 1982 film, “Things Are Tough All Over.” Delorme’s natural off-beat sense of humor often played a part in Cheech and Chong’s improvised writing, and that humor translated into a rapport with his concert audiences rivaled by few. But the often-less pleasant side of the Hollywood dream was taking a toll on his health, caught up on the wrong side of the tracks, and his life was beginning to mirror the drugs lifestyle depicted in the films.

He returned to Edmonton in 1987 and to his roots – becoming a mainstay at The Sidetrack Cafe, Blues On Whyte, and elsewhere around the area with his new project, The Trailer Trash Band. At one point at The Sidetrack, he led a 10-piece band complete with horn section. His creativity and live reputation throughout Canada was to the point that in ’86 CBC TV aired an hour-long special, “Gaye Delorme In Concert.”

His albums spanned literally every genre, beginning with his 1990 instrumental debut, BEAUTIFUL GUITAR. Recorded at Randy Bachman’s studio on Salt Spring Island, the record’s theme was obvious and aptly titled, with flamenco and jazz fused with the blues and with a hint of classical, and even reggae. A true ‘world music record,’ the musical exploration was an international journey with tracks like the lead-off “El Mountain,” “Vegas Moon,” “Celtic,” and “Tango For Tina.”

1993’s BORDERLINE was a boogie driven blues gem, heralded by many critics. With the impulsive jivin’ spurred on by the likes of the title track, “Panama Boogie,” and “Honeygirl,” it was considered as one of the best Canadian blues records in years.

A few years after its release, he moved to the west coast, keeping busy doing session and production work, as well as writing his own material. His time on the coast was interesting, if nothing else. On one evening while walking home, he was confronted with someone who thought he wanted his wallet more than he did. Although Delorme proved him wrong, he suffered a broken shoulder, which subsequently meant he couldn’t play guitar for the better part of a year. Some of Vancouver’s finest musicians got together, including Tom Lavin (Powder Blues) and Jerry Doucette, and threw him a benefit concert at the famed Yale Hotel.

BLUE WAVE SESSIONS, released two years later was recorded at Vancouver’s Mushroom Studios, and featured a rousing cover of JJ Cale’s “Downtown LA.” Full of fast paced but controlled guitar work, it also featured Delorme’s generally regarded highly under-rated voice, such as with the stripped down ballad “Hallelujah!” The calypso-flavored south seas adventure of “Sailor Sailor” and jazz infected “Thin Man” were balanced out with the Latin flavors of “Lucy From Lima” and the rockers “Fast Horizon” and “Hoo Doo Trail.”

On June 2, 2000, he was the inaugural Artist to be honored in the Pacific Music Industry Association’s new “Celebrate” Series. He still made his way back through the prairies now and again, and became a regular at The Edmonton Folk Festival, hosting the International Guitar Stage. As well, he came back for Christmas concerts and usually a handful of shows around Alberta at some of his favorite haunts. But with diabetes to contend with and failing sight that had him considered legally blind, his tour schedule diminished.
He finally got around to recording his cult favorite “The Rodeo Song” himself, as the title track to his 2002 return to vinyl.

RODEO SONGS was chalk full of some kick ass versions of both kinds of music – country AND western. With other tracks like “Suck Back Boogie,” “High On The Hog,” and “Mildred The Airhead,” it not only showcased his trademark wit, but also the influence living in a province with grain-fed beef can have on you. “The Rodeo Song” also appeared on one of Dr. Demento’s compilations a few years earlier, as well as in the Stephen King film “Sleepwalkers” in ’92.
In 2003, he released the album simply titled, DELORME, featuring a retooling of “Down So Long” from the BEAUTIFUL GUITAR album, this time complete with vocals by Glenda Rae. “London Town,” “The Cathedral,” and “Lompa Blues” helped continue his tradition of covering as many bases as possible on any given project.
He moved back to the City of Champions in the mid ’00s, and in ’06 a project several years in the making came to fruition, when he was accompanied by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra for his performance of Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concerto d’Aranjuez.” It garnered glowing reviews, and a TV special was supposed to be one of the outcomes of the performance, but never materialized.

Throughout the rest of the decade, he turned his attention to helping new talent develop, acting as a quiet but powerful force behind the
Canadian music scene, in all genres. During his career, Delorme played with dozens of artists, including jazz legend Lenny Breau, Jann Arden, Ian Tyson, Powder Blues, David Foster, Airto Moreira, George Blondheim, Billy Cobham, and Stanley Clarke, among many others.
He was nominated for a Grammy and received the Premier’s Award For Excellence for his lifelong commitment to furthering Alberta talent. His production work included KD Lang’s debut album, A TRULY WESTERN EXPERIENCE, as well as with Jann Arden and others, serving as a mentor and a teacher to all.
From gut-wrenching blues and jazz-influenced improvisations to kickin’ country with a wry sense of humor, from classical to flamenco stylings that would have you put down the headphones thinking he was Latino, his musical range was unmatched, mapping every existing musical territory and helping blaze a few new trails along the journey.

Delorme was a diabetic and had become legally blind from the disease, as of 2008. Delorme died of a heart attack in Calgary, during the early hours of June 24, 2011, while staying at the home of a friend. He was 64. Delorme was to perform at the Calgary Bluesfest Warmup on June 25, 2011, with his longtime sideman, keyboardist Peter Sweetzir.

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Gary Moore 500February 6, 2011 – Gary Moore, who wrote and played “Still Got the Blues for You” and “Parisienne Walkways” into a daily highlight in my music library, passed away on February 6, 2011 at age 58, while on vacation in Spain, reportedly after a night of excessive drinking and partying.

Gary Moore was a guitar talent that only comes around a couple of times in a generation. Jimi, Eric, Gary, Duane and Hughie Thomasson are the five that fill my High Five, as I’m witnessing our generation extend a welcome to those who learned from the great ones and now show their talent to a new generation.

Robert William Gary Moore was born on 4 April 1952 and grew up on Castleview Road opposite Stormont Parliament Buildings, off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast, as one of five children of Bobby, a promoter, and Winnie, a housewife. He left the city as a teenager, because of troubles in his family – his parents parted a year later – just as The Troubles were starting in Northern Ireland.

Moore started performing at a young age, having picked up a battered acoustic guitar at the age of eight. He got his first quality guitar at the age of 14, learning to play the right-handed instrument in the standard way despite being left-handed.

Aiming to become a musician, he moved to Dublin at the age of 16. Moore’s greatest influence in the early days was guitarist Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac who was a mentor to Moore when performing in Dublin. Green’s continued influence on Moore was later repaid as a tribute to Green on his 1995 album Blues for Greeny, an album consisting entirely of Green compositions. On this tribute album, Moore played Green’s 1959 Les Paul Standard guitar which Green had lent to Moore after his departure from Fleetwood Mac and the music scene. Moore ultimately purchased the guitar, at Green’s request, so that “it would have a good home”. Other early musical influences were artists such as Albert King, Elvis Presley, The Shadows, and The Beatles. Later, having seen Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in his home town of Belfast, his own style was developing into a blues-rock sound that would be the dominant form of his career in music.

In Dublin, Moore joined the group Skid Row with Noel Bridgeman and Brendan “Brush” Shiels. It was with this group that he earned a reputation in the music industry, and created his association with Phil Lynott began.

In 1970, Moore moved to England and remained there, apart from two short periods in the United States. In 1973, under the name “The Gary Moore Band”, he released his first solo album, Grinding Stone. “Grinding Stone” was issued in North America on Neil Kempfer-Stocker’s fledgling record label imprint Cosmos and received “Album of the Year” accolades on KTAC-FM/Seattle-Tacoma, Washington, in 1974.

In 1974 he re-joined Lynott, when he first joined Thin Lizzy after the departure of founding member Eric Bell.

From 1975 to August 1978, he was a member of Colosseum II. With the band he also collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the composer’s Variations album in 1978.

In 1977, Moore re-joined Thin Lizzy, first as a temporary replacement for Brian Robertson, and on a permanent basis a year later.

In July 1979, he left the band permanently to focus on his solo career, again with help from Phil Lynott. The combination of Moore’s blues-based guitar and Lynott’s voice produced “Parisienne Walkways“, which reached the Top Ten in the UK Singles Chart in April 1979 and the Thin Lizzy album Black Rose: A Rock Legend which reached number two in the UK album chart. Moore appears in the videos for “Waiting for an Alibi” and “Do Anything You Want To”.

He experimented with many musical genres, including rock, jazz, blues, country, electric blues, hard rock, and heavy metal and throughout his career moved between the genres.

Insiders know that this is probably the reason why he never received the recognition in mainstream America that he deserved and got in Europe and elsewhere. The American music market is strongly pigeonholed per genre, to the point that Radio Stations have very mono-boring formats and audiences are easily confused. I heard Gary play Spanish Flamenco one time and he was as virtuoso in that genre as anything else he did.

In 1987, he performed a guitar solo for a cover of the Beatles’ “Let It Be” which was released under the group-name of Ferry Aid. The record raised substantial funds for the survivors of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. At the same time he recorded and toured with KISS drummer Eric Singer on the Wild Frontier Tour.

In 1990, he played the lead guitar solo on “She’s My Baby” from Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.

After a series of rock records in the 80s, Moore returned to blues music with Still Got the Blues (1990), with contributions from Albert King, Albert Collins, and George Harrison. The album was well received by fans and became certified Gold in the U.S. The title song is probably his most famous song and rapidly turning an evergreen in the blues field.

His 1993 live album BLUES ALIVE is one of the best blues rock live albums ever, yet ironically enough not even listed on Wikipedia’s Discography listing.

Another superb album came from his 1994 cooperation with Cream Alumnis Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker under the name Bruce-Baker-Moore entitled Around The Next Dream.

He stayed with the blues format until 1997 when he returned to the harder rock, but with a softer, more pop and ballad-oriented sound on Dark Days in Paradise followed with another change of direction in 1999, when he decided to experiment with modern dance beats on A Different Beat; this left many fans, as well as the music press, confused.

He also contributed guitar sections to Richard Blackwood’s 2000 album, You’ll Love to Hate This.

With Back to the Blues, Moore returned to his tried and tested blues format in 2001.

In 2002 Gary Moore decided to form a band with ex-Skunk Anansie bassist Cass Lewis and Primal Scream drummer Darrin Mooney called Scars. Their studio album “Scars”, released on September 2nd on Sanctuary Records, includes compositions reminiscent of the sound of guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, in a modern way. Listen to the song Ball and Chain on this album to get a feel of later years Gary Moore. He continued with this blues style on Power of the Blues (2004), Old New Ballads Blues (2006), Close As You Get (2007), and Bad For You Baby (2008), his last studio album.

In January 2005, Moore joined the One World Project, which recorded a song for the 2004 Asian Tsunami relief effort. The group featured Russell Watson, Boy George, Steve Winwood, Barry Gibb, Brian Wilson, Cliff Richard, Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley, and Robin Gibb on vocals (in their order of appearance), and featured a guitar solo by Moore. The song, entitled Grief Never Grows Old, was released in February 2005, reaching No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.

He also took part in a comedy skit entitled “The Easy Guitar Book Sketch” with comedian Rowland Rivron and fellow musicians Mark Knopfler, Lemmy from Motörhead, Mark King from Level 42, and David Gilmour. Hysterically funny.

Other collaborations included a broad range of artists including Trilok Gurtu, Dr. Strangely Strange, Jimmy Nail, Mo Foster, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Jim Capaldi, B.B. King, Vicki Brown, Cozy Powell, Rod Argent, the Beach Boys, Paul Rodgers, Keith Emerson, Roger Daltrey, and Otis Taylor (musician).

Although less productive in the studio, Gary still maintained a hectic touring schedule in the years leading up to his passing at age 58 on February 6, 2011 while on vacation in Spain. Gary’s passing was definitely a shock for me . Thank you for your fine tunes Mr. Moore, you’ve enriched my life greatly.

Here are some honors presented by a few of your contemporaries.

Ozzie Osborne
“I knew Gary Moore for what seemed like forever. We’d run into each other many times over the years and we were always able to pick up right where we left off. I had the honor of recording with Gary on his ‘After The War’ album on the track ‘Led Clones’ which was great fun. To say that his death is a tragic loss doesn’t seem to give it the justice it deserves. We’ve lost a phenomenal musician and a great friend.”

“Rest in peace, Gary.”

“My tears have flowed, sobs racked through me. Gary Moore was a player that gave me so much enthusiasm for playing. His high degree of aggression, unearthly sense of timing, and volcanic passion was rarely matched in tock guitar history. I can’t count how many times I’ve been awed by Gary’s playing, going back over 30 years now. His playing always brought to fore that childlike enthusiasm that first made me pick up guitar. His playing made me feel huge and powerful, and I dreamed of sounding as massive and confident as Gary. For most of my life I referred to him as Scary Gary, because his tone and attack were like a musical Godzilla. Today I call him a much mourned guitar friend, one I deeply regret having never met.”
KISS drummer Eric Singer released the following statement to Classic Rock Revisited regarding the passing of legendary guitarist Gary Moore:

“I had the pleasure to play drums with Gary on his 1987 ‘Wild Frontier’ tour. I joined Gary’s band via Bob Daisley. We had recorded together with BLACK SABBATH on the ‘Eternal Idol’ album. Bob arranged the audition in London in January of 1987. We soon began rehearsals for what would become one of Gary’s most successful tours ever. I remember we would practice everyday at John Henry Studios in London. Bob and Neil Carter lived in Brighton and would have to leave in time to make their train home. Gary and I would sometimes stay on and jam. Just drums and guitar. We would play THIN LIZZY tunes or just jam endlessly as Gary never ran out of ideas when it came to soloing! He would also play those legendary guitars back then. The ‘Peter Green’ 1958 Les Paul and his ‘Pink Salmon’ 1962 Fender Stratocaster. He, of course, did not take those on tour anymore as they had become much too rare and valuable. I have to say the one thing that always stood out to me about Gary was his absolute passion and intensity as a guitarist. This man played every song and note like it was the last time he would ever play it. And therefore demanded and expected the same from his band.

I have to admit he could be a bit tough on drummers. But he only asked for and expected what he himself gave to music. And that was complete commitment every time you played with him. He inspired me to want to play up to his level every night.

I will always thank him for the opportunity he gave me to play with him. He really was a brilliant musician. And I always felt like he helped take me to another level as a drummer and musician. It was an experience and an education I will never forget and take with me everywhere I go.

“God bless you, Gary Moore.”

Watch the incomparable Parisienne Walkways performance below, given in memory of his friend and Thin Lizzie bandmate Phil Lynott on 20 August 2005, on what would have been Phil’s 56th birthday. A statue of Phil Lynott was unveiled in Dublin’s Grafton Street by his mother. There to witness the event were members of Thin Lizzy from throughout the band’s career. Later that evening they joined forces under the leadership of Gary Moore for a concert that paid tribute to Phil Lynott’s memory.
The core band of Moore, Jethro Tull bass player Jonathan Noyce and Thin Lizzy’s one and only drummer Brian Downey were joined by the stellar guitar talents of Brian Robertson, Scott Gorham and Eric Bell for a set of Lizzy and Gary Moore classics.

Kirk Hammett of Metallica fame gave a great eulogy on Gary Moore’s insane talent and playing in Rolling Stone of Feb 9, 2011.

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garry_shiderJune 16, 2010 – Garry Marshall Shider (Parliament-Funkadelic) was born on July 24th 1953 in Plainfield New Jersey. A

Like many funk pioneers of the ’70s, Shider got his start by playing in church. As a teenager, he sang and performed in support of the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Shirley Caesar, and other prominent gospel artists. Years later, singing far-out funk with Parliament, that gospel spirit was still evident in his vocal performances. He was still bringing them to church — only that church was located somewhere in deep innerspace.

Shider met George Clinton in the late ’60s at the famous Plainfield barbershop where the Parliaments, then primarily a soul vocal group, practiced harmonies. Shider’s vocal and instrumental talent impressed Clinton.

By the time he was sixteen, Shider wished to escape the crime and dead-end prospects of Plainfield, so he and his friend Cordell “Boogie” Mosson left for Canada where Shider and Mosson formed a funk/rock band called United Soul, or “U.S.”. George Clinton was living in Toronto at the time and began hearing about United Soul from people in the local music business and took the band under his wing upon learning that Shider was a member.

Clinton produced several tracks by United Soul with input from members of Funkadelic. The songs “I Miss My Baby” and “Baby I Owe You Something Good” were released as a one-off single by Westbound Records in 1971 under the group name U.S. Music with Funkadelic. All the tracks recorded with Clinton in 1971 were released by Westbound in 2009 as the album U.S. Music With Funkadelic. After producing United Soul, Clinton invited Shider and Mosson to join Parliament-Funkadelic.

After playing on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” Eddie Hazel’s masterpiece, Shider joined P-Funk for good in 1972. He contributed guitar and vocals to most P-Funk releases including Bootsy Collins’ solo albums, contributing to albums such as “America Eats Its Young” in 1972, “Cosmic Slop” in 1973 and “One Nation Under a Groove” 1978,

Over the years, Shider became one of Clinton’s most trusted lieutenants, calling the P-Funk army to attention with his vocal on “One Nation Under A Groove,” and sailing bravely into the ether on “Cosmic Slop.” Onstage he cut an outlandish figure, emphasized by his tie-dyed dreadlocks. But he delivered incendiary solos and impressively funky rhythm work on his guitar. With George Clinton, the founder of Parliament and Funkadelic, he wrote some of the groups’ signature songs, including “One Nation Under a Groove” and “Atomic Dog.” He co-wrote some of the band’s biggest hits and, as a guitarist, he could be incredibly patient, repeating the same phrase over and over — until he combusted into a fiery solo or a stinging riff. Guitar Player magazine featured him three times.

Shider was known to millions of fans as “Starchild” or “Diaperman,” the latter because of the loincloth or diaper he often wore onstage.

After Parliament-Funkadelic dissolved in the early 1980s, Shider continued his association with Mr. Clinton and served at times as musical director of the P-Funk All-Stars, a successor band. He also performed with other P-Funk members in the movies “PCU” and “The Night Before,” playing songs he helped write; appeared on records like the Black Crowes’ “Three Snakes and One Charm”; and had his earlier work sampled on hit CDs by rap performers like Dr. Dre, OutKast and Digital Underground. His work with the funk groups Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

He has been featured in Who’s Who in Music and appeared on a compilation album by Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman band, and also on rock group The Black Crowes’ 1996 album Three Snakes and One Charm. Shider has also appeared on Saturday Night Live several times, the Late Show with David Letterman, The Arsenio Hall Show, New York Undercover, The Tonight Show, and others. He appeared in the films PCU and The Night Before; both of which included songs he wrote and performed. He has also had songs featured in the film Bad Boys, with Sean Penn.

Shider released a solo single in 1988 entitled “Beautiful”. The attempt to reconcile P-Funk’s distinct sound with that of late-80s synthpop yielded no chart success. He released two full albums in 2002, Diaper Man, The Second Coming[3] and Diaperman Goes Starchild.

After having been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in March 2010, he performed during a final tour in April of that year, but sadly passed away of complications from brain and lung cancer on June 16, 2010. He was 56.

Once asked why a grown man wore a diaper: Shider said, “God loves babies and fools. I’m both.”

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Lolly VegasMarch 4, 2010 – Candido Lolly Vegas (Redbone) was born Lolly Vasquez in Coalinga, California on October 2, 1939. He grew up in Fresno. He and his brother Pat, a singer and bassist, were session musicians who performed together as Pat and Lolly Vegas in the 1960s at Sunset Strip clubs and on the TV variety show “Shindig!”Patrick and Lolly Vasquez – Vegas were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage. but began by performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers, “because their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexican musicians playing surfing music”. First as the Vegas Brothers (Pat and Lolly Vegas), then later as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band, they performed throughout the 1960s.

They formed the Native American band Redbone in 1969, Redbone being a Cajun word for ‘half-breed’. The band, with members of Latino and native American origin, released its self-titled debut album the following year. The band first gained notice with “Maggie” in 1970 and broke international barriers with “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” in 1971.

“Come and Get Your Love” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1974. In concert, Redbone often dressed in traditional Native American attire, and some of the group’s songs, including “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee,” emphasizing the members’ Indian background. Lolly and Pat also were prolific songwriters whose “Niki Hoeky” was covered by Aretha Franklin, Bobbie Gentry and P.J. Proby.

In the 60s, Lolly was an in-demand studio musician in Hollywood, playing alongside Leon Russell, Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, and all the top players of the day.  Lolly played on many hit records and was frequently hired by great producers such as Phil Spector and Lou Adler for stars such as  Tina Turner, Sonny & Cher, James Brown, Little Richard, Elvis, and other legendary names.

His guitar playing on Redbone recordings is innovative, funky, and unique.  Lolly was one of the first to play his guitar through a Leslie Speakerbox and his use of the electric sitar on Redbone’s mega hit “Come and Get Your Love” was brilliant.  He inspired and influenced many guitar players over the years.

In 1973, Redbone released the politically oriented “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee”, recalling the massacre of Lakota Sioux Indians by the Seventh Cavalry in 1890. The song ends with the subtly altered sentence “We were all wounded ‘by’ Wounded Knee”. It charted in several European countries and reached the #1 position in The Netherlands but did not chart in the U.S.(really???), where it was initially withheld from release due to lyrical controversy and then banned by several radio stations due to its confrontation of a sore subject.

In 1995 Lolly suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to  play guitar anymore. He died after a brave battle with lung cancer at age on March 4, 2010 at age 70.

Redbone is known and accredited in the NY Smithsonian as the first Native American rock/cajun group to have a #1 single internationally and in the United States.

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Micky JonesMarch 10, 2010 – Micky Jones  (Man) was born on June 7th 1946. In 1960, whilst still at school, Micky formed his first band The Rebels, before he formed his first professional band The Bystanders in 1962 which over the years developed into the legendary Welsh pychedelic, progressive rock, blues and country-rock band “Man”, officially formed in 1968 as a reincarnation of Welsh rock harmony group ‘’The Bystanders’’from Merthyr Tydfil.

They say that in order to understand the Welsh, you first must gain a sense of Wales. Unfortunately there are almost as many different colourful facets to the principality as there are people: in the south alone blue mountains rise from green valleys to hug the clouds, silver light drifts across granite castles, white cottages pepper the landscape and grey seas nibble at the coastline. What the tourist guides often fail to mention however is that this is also a landscape scarred black by the ravages of coal mining and tainted red by the rusting hulk of iron foundries. Where Ireland often gives the impression of having moved directly from the eighteenth century into the twenty-first without an industrial age in between, South Wales today still wears a curtain of steel. It’s an increasingly thin curtain in this post-industrial age, but the signs are all around nonetheless.

In the mid-1960s though the coal mines, oil refineries and steel mills were still ablaze. One way for young men on leaving school to avoid immediate conscription into industry was to grow their hair and join a rock and roll band, and there was already a vibrant scene emerging: Love Sculpture and Amen Corner out of Cardiff, the Eyes of Blue from Neath, the Jets and the Iveys (later to become Badfinger) from Swansea – and from the sleepy South Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil, a group called the Bystanders.

As with so much at that time, the Beatles had a lot to answer for in terms of the Bystanders’ musical style, and indeed their dress sense, which ran to matching mohair suits with blue knitted ties. Guitarist Micky Jones, an apprentice hairdresser by trade, was given the “cooler sounding” stage name of Mike Steel, and keyboard player Clive John bizarrely reverted to his real name, Clive Morgan. In 1966 they signed to Pye Records (home of the Kinks and the Searchers), incorporated Beach Boys and Four Seasons songs into their stage act, and headed out onto the cabaret circuit.

By 1967 the shock-waves from the explosion of psychedelia in America finally reached South Wales. The ace up the sleeve of the Bystanders, which set them apart from their rivals, was their guitarist. Having been well schooled in rock and roll, Micky Jones was now ready, able and willing to listen to, and be influenced by, more experimental guitar players such as the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and Quicksilver’s John Cipollina. Although venues like the Camarthen Bay Power Station Recreation Club were a million miles away, culturally speaking, from Marin County or Big Sur, The Bystanders accordingly varied their live set to take in covers of such songs as the Byrds’ ‘Eight Miles High’ and Moby Grape’s ‘Hey Grandma’. They began writing their own material (Jones and John’s ‘Cave of Clear Light’ – “one of the few songs of the period I can still listen to without wincing”, according to Clive John – reveals fashionable middle-eastern influences) and, in November 1968, they shuffled their line-up, brought in second guitarist Roger “Deke” Leonard and changed their name to Man. Progressive rock was becoming the dominant force. I was ten years old at the time.

It’s funny how a profound an effect an unexpected and at the time seemingly insignificant incident can have. I was stood at a bus-stop not so long ago next to a beautiful girl who had a smile like the wires strung between two pylons; wide, curving and powerful enough to melt your shoes into the ground if you dared get too close. All too soon she was gone, who knows to where: but in my head at least we went there together, on the top deck of a bus with the breeze ruffling her blonde hair, her breathtakingly attractive eyes gazing into mine and the noise of the engine carrying her golden voice away like leaves on a swollen river. I was reminded of an earlier event which had quite literally changed my life forever.

I was 10 years old, and the blonde on the bus this time attended the same school as me. She announced to anyone who’d listen that her uncle was in a pop group called Man, who quite frankly I had never heard of. Then again, given that we lived in a remote rural location I sadly lacked exposure to anything approaching culture during my formative years. Even by 1968 psychedelia had yet to reach Somerset: the first Glastonbury festival was still some two years away, taking place in September 1970 on the fields of Pilton Farm, organised by dairy farmer Michael Eavis.

From filing away in the Rolodex of my mind the name of the girl’s uncle (who, it subsequently transpired, was Man’s original bassist and former Bystander Ray Williams. Sadly, he passed away in 1993), and of course the name of his band, it was but a short chronological step for me to the age of thirteen, moving to the city and meeting a guy who actually owned a record by them. The fact that I’d even heard of Man immediately made me a member of what seemed at the time like some kind of secret society. It was a society I knew I desperately wanted to be a member of, though. From the very first moment the needle landed on ‘C’mon’, the opening track of their then new (1972) album ‘Be Good To Yourself Once a Day’, I realised my life would never be the same again. In short, I fell hopelessly in love; and the fact that the band was obscure and unattainable only added to their lustre for me.

I worked backwards and scored copies of every other LP I could find by Man. From reading interviews with them in music papers and magazines I discovered that they in turn had been influenced by a band called Quicksilver Messenger Service. I bought their records and immediately fell in love all over again. Man toured with a band called Help Yourself.  I bought their records and immediately fell in love all over again. I was a fickle teenager when it came to affairs of the heart. I bought United Artists Records’ ‘All Good Clean Fun’ double LP compilation because it featured songs by both Man and Help Yourself and through that discovered other fine underground bands like Cochise and Hawkwind, Can and Amon Duul II, which opened a whole load of new doors of perception and in turn led me to German music.  In short, I owed my entire early musical education to the Man band. Through them I discovered west-coast American psychedelia and down-home English country rock, and indirectly I discovered folk-rock and kraut-rock. Most of all though, through Micky Jones’ guitar playing I discovered an abiding admiration for improvisation.

When Man had emerged, phoenix-like, out of the Bystanders in 1968, swapping increasingly psychedelic harmony pop for full-on progressive rock, they quickly discovered that their future lay overseas. Faced with playing to an average audience of 20 people in England or 200 in Germany, they began a campaign of saturation-gigging over there. As keyboard player Clive John explained: “There was a tremendous feeling of musical freedom. You could easily get away with playing a flower pot on stage in Germany in those days. We were listening to people like Stockhausen at the time. The band was spaced out, but the music was really interesting.” Deke Leonard: “In Britain we were expected to play for two hours – but Germany expected five hour sets, so we stretched what we had.” The key to all this extended jamming was of course improvisation – and in Micky Jones they had a master of the craft.

Deke Leonard, again, speaking recently: “Micky’s the best improvisational guitarist in the world. I’ve played with him for 30 years now and once he goes into an improvisation I’ve never heard him play the same thing twice. It would be so musical, so structured and beautifully laid out, that you’d think he’d worked it all out – but we’ve shared rooms and nobody ever took their guitars into their hotel room. It just all came pouring out of him.”

The Man band were always at their zenith in the live setting, therefore their studio albums aren’t always representative of what they could achieve: the self-titled LP for United Artists in 1970 for instance suffered through having to condense their everlasting jams from lengthy shows in Germany down into fifteen or twenty minutes. Thereafter they gave up trying to capture their live sound in the studio and instead concentrated on the job in hand, with one honourable exception: the aforementioned 1972 album ‘Be Good To Yourself At Least Once a Day’, during the recording of which tensions within the group were allegedly running high following a line-up shuffle. Deke Leonard had temporarily left to pursue a solo career, the new guys in the band had brought a backlog of songs with them that they were keen to try out, but they met with considerable resistance from Micky Jones, who preferred the group to improvise new material. Clive John suggested a pragmatic new approach: “Let’s just forget we’re supposed to be making a record and have an electric blow”. The result was a four-song set with a strong instrumental bias which gave Micky Jones’ guitar work and songwriting style completely free reign. It remains arguably Man’s finest moment and included two songs, ‘C’mon’ and ‘Bananas’, which according to Deke Leonard, “Will still be in the set when we play that final celestial set in paradise… we’ll probably open with ‘C’mon’.”

In 1974 Man travelled to America. Initially supporting United Artists label mates Hawkwind, the tour proved to be eventful to say the least, with tornados and live telephone link-ups to LSD guru Timothy Leary amongst their adventures. The band worked themselves slowly across to San Francisco where Bill Graham, at the time one of America’s foremost rock entrepreneurs, took to Man every bit as warmly as he had all the bands he had promoted in the 60s – bands who had in turn served as influences for Man in their early days. At the Winterland John Cipollina, Quicksilver Messenger Service’s mercurial guitarist, jammed with them on stage; it seemed a marriage made in heaven, Cipollina’s unmistakeable vibrato style working so well within the Man context, with Micky Jones’ fluid lines bouncing off the razor-sharp shards of Cippolina’s chops while Deke Leonard churned away with his wah-wah. In fact when a series of live dates in the UK culminated in a live album named ‘Maximum Darkness’, recorded in May 1975 at the Roundhouse, John Cipollina’s guitar parts on Man’s anthemic ‘Bananas’ had to be overdubbed – ironically enough by Micky Jones. “Everything on ‘Maximum Darkness’ which sounds like Cipollina is Cipollina”, according to Deke Leonard, “Except for ‘Bananas’ during which he insisted on playing a pre-war Hawaiian guitar, with pre-war strings, with a kitchen knife. It was an appalling racket.”

Man called it a day in the mid-seventies, culminating in three dates -appropriately enough at the Roundhouse again – during December 1976. They had released fourteen albums and had been through nearly as many line-ups, the one constant member being Micky Jones. “During the last year we had found little to agree upon”, opined singer/guitarist Deke Leonard, “but the one thing we were all sure of is that we would never, ever be one of those bands who re-formed in a futile attempt to recapture past glories and maybe earn a buck or two along the way.”

They re-formed on All Fool’s Day, 1983. By that time my own life had moved on and I never again followed the band with quite the same interest; the love affair was far from over – in fact, I’d claim Man’s performance at the Terrastock 3 festival in London during August 1999 to be one of the single most captivating, emotionally moving and powerful live shows I’ve ever experienced – but, if pressed I’d have to admit that I stopped working quite so hard at our relationship after Man broke up in 1976. I’m quite sure the Man band felt the same way about me too, had they actually known who I was.

Micky Jones formed a tight little three-piece rock band named Manipulator after leaving the band. They played a mixture of Man material, such as ‘Kerosene’ and ‘Breaking Up Once Again’, in amongst new songs and covers, including Buzzy Linhart’s ‘Talk About a Morning’. I saw them several times and they never failed to deliver the goods; compact, raunchy and powerful, they were the very antithesis of the jamming juggernaut which was the Man band and yet still a great vehicle for Jones’ fluid guitar work. It was at one of Manipulator’s gigs, at the Half Moon in Herne Hill in October 1980, that I met another person who was to change the entire course of my life: Nigel Cross.

Nigel had recently  launched a new fanzine called ‘A Bucketfull of Brains’, and was there to interview Micky Jones for the upcoming third issue. Deke Leonard had been featured in issue 1 (along with American acts Television and Michael Hurley), and a mutual acquaintance had recommended my name as a possible expert on the subject of the Man band. Nigel phoned me to ask if I’d like to sit in on the Deke Leonard interview. I would like to! Very, very much indeed, thankyou!

“It’s taking place here in London on Friday.”

“Great! Oh, wait – shit, I have a job interview that same afternoon…”

“OK, well maybe next time then…”

Having idolised the Man band from afar for the majority of my formative years I never thought there’d be a first time let alone a second one, so it was fairly easy to shrug that one off. Then the ’phone rang again.

“It’s Nigel again. Sorry… I was wondering if I did the interview with Deke, if perhaps you’d be able to transcribe it for me?”

“What, you mean write it up?” I said, proud of myself for having slipped so quickly into the easy argot of the professional Music Critic. “Of course.”

I tried to hide the bitter disappointment from my voice at not having been able to attend in person and settled back to await the arrival of the cassette tape, which sure enough turned up a few days later.

I don’t honestly remember a great deal now about what actually passed between Nigel and Deke during the interview. There was an incident when Deke Leonard disappeared off to the lavatory, still talking. A distant tinkling noise. More words. The sound of a flush, followed by Deke’s soft Welsh voice slowly growing louder as he drew closer to the microphone again. I faithfully wrote down every word, every tinkle. It was my first ever assignment as a music journalist, and I was completely hooked. I knew that someday I wanted to publish a fanzine, just like Nigel Cross.

I mailed the piece off more in hope than expectation, never really expecting to hear from Nigel again, and received by return of post a rather surprising offer to write more: as much as I possibly could, in fact. Maybe I’d like to write some reviews? And could we meet up at the Manipulator gig in Herne Hill a few weeks hence?

We did meet, and Nigel reassured me that I could not only write, but that I could write well. Ha. That was one in the eye for my former school-teachers. I became a regular contributor to ‘Bucketfull of Brains’. Over the years since I have met, spoke to or corresponded with just about every musical hero I’d ever had, and made a thousand more. I ended up running my own magazine, and – I’m more proud of this than anything else, I think – engaged the services of Nigel Cross and, on one famous occasion, even Deke Leonard as contributors.


This isn’t about me though: it’s about Micky Jones. Either directly or indirectly I owe to him almost everything I’ve achieved. Micky Jones isn’t the greatest guitarist in the world. He’d be the first to admit that. He’s not even my favourite guitarist in the world: I’d probably have to hand that accolade to Michio Kurihara of Ghost. Or maybe Randy California of Spirit. Or Nick Saloman of the Bevis Frond. Truth be told, there’s been a few actually. But whenever Micky played his instrument really spoke to me, and on those rare occasions he’s given the opportunity to cut loose and improvise, there’s nobody who can touch him.

In 2002 Micky was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He left the Man band temporarily to receive treatment for his illness. At the time it was understood to be benign, and it was hoped that following appropriate surgery he would make a full recovery and return to the stage. He returned briefly in 2004, but in 2005 required further treatment, and despite constant efforts has suffered a steady decline thereafter.

Micky Jones finally passed away peacefully on 10th March 2010. He was just 63 years old. We’ve lost a wonderful guitarist – one of the world’s finest – but much more than that, we’ve lost a friend, an inspiration to many and a hero to a few (myself included). Rest in peace, Micky.

John Burtenshaw is currently writing a book about the life of the amazing but sadly sometimes over-looked musician Micky Jones.

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mick greenJanuary 11, 2010 Michael Robert “Mick” Green was born on 22 February 1944 in Matlock Derbyshire, England but grew up in Wimbledon, south-west London, in the same block of flats as Johnny Spence and Frank Farley. The three would eventually form a band that would play together for almost 50 years. Green met Farley in rather maverick circumstances; he fell out of a tree and landed on him. His first meeting with Spence was more conventional – Green turned up at Spence’s door holding a guitar and said: “I hear you know the opening bit to Cumberland Gap. Can you teach me?” The result was one of the most original guitarists Britain has ever produced.

The trio formed the Wayfaring Strangers in 1956, a skiffle band. Entering a competition at the Tottenham Royal Ballroom, the youngsters came second to a band called the Quarrymen, who later achieved success as the Beatles.

Green’s first steady gig, however, was as a member of the Red Caps, backing group for Cuddly Dudley. That band also included Johnny Patto, Johnny Spence and Frank Farley, all of whom defected to become The Pirates the backing band for pre Beatle-era rocker Johnny Kidd. In 1962 Green replaced Joe Moretti as lead guitar player for the Pirates.

It was a song called “I’ll Never Get Over You,” which rose to number four, that established Green, his searing lead guitar being one of the most aggressive sounds heard on record in England during this period. Though it would take a few years for anyone to find it out, the song became practically an anthem for a generation of garage rock and punk enthusiasts.

As a member of the Pirates, Mick Green became one of a tiny handful of young guitar heroes of the pre-Beatles era in English rock & roll. Generating a loud, slashing sound from his Fender Telecaster Deluxe that combined the lead and rhythm guitar parts in one, Green’s playing ran completely counter to the more open two-guitar sound that dominated English rock & roll. Among those who picked up on the lean, muscular sound Green created was Tony Hicks, future member of the Hollies.

Ironically, even though session guitarist Joe Moretti (subbing for Alan Caddy) and not Green, had played on the original “Shakin’ All Over,” Green, as the most visible guitarist in the Pirates’ history, became permanently associated with that song, and vice versa.
Although he wasn’t widely recognized in the press at the time, or by the world outside of the music community, Green was as influential a musician during this period as any of England’s early rock guitar heroes, including Hank Marvin of the Shadows, Joe Brown, and Big Jim Sullivan. Moreover, he exerted as much or more impact on rock & roll in England from 1962 onward as George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, or Jimmy Page would later be credited with.

Johnny Kidd & the Pirates were popular among other musicians and made a living playing clubs and smaller concert venues, but they were unable to sustain their recording success past the early ’60s. From 1963 onward, with money being thrust in ever-larger amounts into the hands of the Beatles and other Liverpool acts, the Pirates began falling behind the wave of new acts, unable to rate better than support act status at major venues (though the early Who also played in support of them).

This was an instance of the parts being bigger than the whole and by 1964, Green’s reputation had outstripped that of the Pirates. He was lured away from the band by an offer to join the Dakotas, who were then placing records very high on the charts and playing around the world as the backing band for Billy J. Kramer, but needed more muscle in their live sound.

Green shored up that band, which, with his arrival, became one of the few groups of the period to boast a double lead guitar lineup. He made them one of the most respected backing groups in England, although the only hit Green ever played on was the distinctly pop-oriented “Trains and Boats and Planes.” He was later joined in the Dakotas by ex-Pirate/Red Cap Frank Farley on drums, and the two worked together up through 1967, when the Dakotas broke up.

(Kidd re-formed the Pirates and was attempting a comeback that ended with his death in a car crash in 1966, though the newer Pirates kept playing together until 1967). Green hooked up for a short time with Cliff Bennett before he and Farley became part of Engelbert Humperdinck‘s backing band, spending seven years in that well-remunerated but musically low-visibility position, playing Las Vegas and related venues. Green later played in the group Shanghai, which included John “Speedy” Keen in the lineup, which lasted for two years. During the mid-’70s, however, the admiration that Green evoked within the music community began to emerge in the press. Wilko Johnson of Dr. Feelgood, in particular, was highly outspoken in his praise for Green.

Additionally, several histories of the Who, appearing at a time when the latter band was at the peak of its popularity, credited Johnny Kidd & the Pirates and particularly Mick Green with their role in shaping the group’s sound. It was only a short jump for the English music press to draw the connection to Green as one of the progenitors of the then-burgeoning punk sound.

During this same period, Spence and Farley had begun playing together again and a one-off Pirates reunion gig was arranged. That 1976 gig proved so successful that it resulted in a recording contract and a semi-permanent reunion. the Pirates became a going concern as a performing band and even managed to release albums, cut live and in the studio, that were distributed internationally. Green cut a striking figure on guitar during the second Pirates incarnation, a heavy athlete’s build topped by an intense yet clear-eyed expression, coaxing explosive solos out of his instrument. The Pirates trio became a cult band with a wide reputation , their sound during the 1970s and beyond embraced punk, rockabilly, blues, and classic rock & roll.

In more recent years, Green had been recognized as one of British rock & roll’s elder statesmen, but remained a busy working musician playing with figures as different as Paul McCartney and Peter Green in the 1980s and 1990s. The McCartney gigs, in particular, on the so-called “Russian album” and several of the former Beatle’s subsequent rock & roll ventures, gave Green more mass exposure than at any time in his career and introduced his name to at least a portion of the Beatles’ following. Along with reissues of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ early-’60s work and the Pirates’ latter-day recordings, and his music with the Dakotas, the McCartney rock & roll sides comprise Green’s most visible music.

In those years Green also played with, amongst others, Bryan Ferry, Van Morrison, Robert Plant and Lemmy and the Upsetters. In 1990, Green played guitar with Lemmy and the Upsetters on their “Blue Suede Shoes” / “Paradise” single. The A-side was originally recorded for a charity album, and Green wrote the B-side with Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister for this occasional Upsetters project. With the Pirates he continued to gig well into the 2000s. His other notable gigs included playing guitar for Van Morrison on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival in 2005, and with David Gilmour and Paul McCartney at the latter’s return to the Cavern Club in support of his Run Devil Run album in 1999.

In his little spare time left he taught guitar privately, as well as at various local schools.

From 1999 to 2008, Green performed regularly with the Van Morrison band. He played guitar on 1999’s Back on Top and he appeared on his other studio albums up until he was on five of the tracks on Van Morrison’s 2008 album, Keep It Simple.

In 2007 he did a six track mini-album “Cutthroat and dangerous” in Finland with a Finnish rock’n’roll trio Doctor’s Order.

In February 2004 while on stage with Bryan Ferry in Auckland, New Zealand, he suffered a cardiac arrest. His life was saved by two doctors in the crowd and following his return to England and recovery he went back to playing. When he suffered kidney problems in February 2009 it became clear that this was partly connected to his earlier heart problem.

Bryan Ferry, who remembers him as “a brilliant guitarist with his roots firmly based in the traditions of American rock’n’roll. He had enormous talent and was a man of great humour, sharp wit and generosity of spirit.” According to McCartney, “Mick was one of the original rock heroes. He was a classic rock guitarist with a simple but fabulous style and sound.”

Green saw music as his life force, continuing to play – against doctors’ orders – long after suffering a heart attack while on stage with Ferry in 2005.

Mick Green was 65 years 11 months 9 days old when his heart gave out on 11 January 2010

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12/ 2009

james gurley2009 – James Martin Gurley was born on December 22, 1939 in Detroit Michigan, the son of a stunt-car driver, and attended the city’s Cooley high school. His father would sometimes enlist his son’s ­support, strapping him to the bonnet of a car and driving through walls of fire. Gurley had his first encounter with a guitar at the age of 16 when an uncle brought one to his home, but initially he showed no interest. He took up the instrument seriously three years later, at age 19, initially teaching himself the rudiments by listening to recordings of the bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins. In 1962 he moved with his wife Nancy and son to the Bay area in San Francisco.

Gurley was drawn to San Francisco’s aura of artistic free-thinking, and was playing the acoustic guitar in a coffee house in 1965 when he was spotted by a local music promoter, Chet Helms. Helms introduced Gurley to the other members of what became Big Brother & the Holding Company, namely the bassist Peter Albin, drummer David Getz and second guitarist Sam Andrew.

The band were never known for their songwriting prowess, instead developing spacey, open-ended improvisations that could be inspired or merely self-indulgent. It was Helms, in his role as their first manager, who proposed adding Texas-born singer Janis Joplin to the lineup in 1966. This was not greeted with unanimous enthusiasm, and originally Joplin was merely a featured vocalist sharing the microphone with other band members, but it rapidly dawned on everyone that the force and emotional depth of her singing made her special. Besides: a few weeks after Janis Joplin joined the band, Gurley began having an affair with her.

Once Gurley and Joplin became involved, he moved out of the apartment he shared with his wife and moved in with Joplin. According to Joplin, that arrangement ended the day James’ wife Nancy Gurley came barging through the front door of Joplin’s apartment. “What an embarrassing situation,” Joplin told her friend Jim Langdon later. “His old lady comes marching into my bedroom with the kid and the dog and confronts us.” Gurley continued his affair with Joplin for a while, but eventually returned to Nancy, who forgave both him and Joplin, with whom she had a close friendship. In 1966, the members of Big Brother, along with their wives and children, all moved into a single house in Lagunitas, California.

The combination with Janis made Big Brother a major success of the 1967 Monterey Pop festival, and Gurley’s intense, ­overdriven guitar was an audible trademark of their sound. His use of fingerpicks instead of the more common flat pick was a notable aspect of his playing style. The group’s performance of Ball and Chain was a highlight of DA Pennebaker’s film documentary of the event, though ironically they were filmed on a night when they performed a shortened version which omitted ­Gurley’s solo.

Big Brother’s eponymous first LP appeared on the small Mainstream label, to which they had signed when desperately in need of cash, but help arrived in the form of an intimidating new manager, Albert Grossman, who also handled Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. He briskly extricated them from Mainstream and arranged a new deal with Columbia, which released Cheap Thrills in 1968. This was the only Big Brother album for Columbia featuring Joplin. It remains one of the musical nuggets of its era, capturing Joplin at full blast, backed by Big Brother’s tumultuous, albeit less than slick, sound. Gurley later claimed of Joplin that “We transformed her. We put her on steroids – blues on steroids.”

The album topped the Billboard charts in 1968, and made the band stars, but their triumph was short-lived, since by the end of the year, Joplin had decided to go solo. “There were some bitter feelings,” Gurley commented later. “Some people haven’t gotten over it yet.” He believed Joplin had been urged to leave Big Brother by the Columbia boss Clive Davis, who wanted her to use more technically proficient studio musicians. Joplin’s departure knocked the band sideways, with some members touring with Country Joe & the Fish. before reconvening to record a new Big Brother album, Be a Brother (1970). However, Gurley had moved to bass for the recordings, while David Schallock came in on guitar. This lineup lasted until 1972 before disintegrating. During this period Gurley spent two years fighting murder charges, when his wife Nancy was found dead from a heroin overdose. He was sentenced to probation.

In 1981, Gurley started a New Wave band, Red Robin and The Worms. James Gurley played bass with Robin Reed on vocals, Mitch McKendry “aka” Mitch Master on lead guitar, Jerome Jim Holt on Sax, and Gurley’s son Hongo Gurley (from first wife Nancy) on drums. He recorded with New Age drummer Muruga Booker and was actively involved in writing and recording solo work.

The original band members re-formed in 1987. Gurley remained on board until 1996, then left because he opposed plans to hire a new female vocalist, ostensibly an idea born after Big Brother’s playing at the induction ceremony for Joplin at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, although he regretted that the band members were not inducted themselves. The band continued with a rotating cast of singers, while guitarists including Ben Nieves and Chad Quist occupied Gurley’s vacant slot at different times.

In 2000 Gurley released a solo album, Pipe Dreams, which included For Nancy (Elegy), a song about his first wife.

In 2007 the Cheap Thrills album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, but Gurley’s unhappiness about the past surfaced in an interview with Rolling Stone, where he complained that he and Big Brother had never been given enough credit for their musical arrangements and studio work. However, a kinder verdict was delivered by Guitar Player magazine, which dubbed Gurley the father of psychedelic guitar. Country Joe & the Fish’s guitarist, Barry Melton, claimed: “James Gurley was the first man in space! He’s the Yuri Gagarin of psychedelic guitar.”

Gurley died on December 20, 2009 from a heart attack at his home in Palm Desert, California, just two days before his 70th birthday.

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Bob BogleJune 14, 2009 – Bob Bogle was born on 
Jan 16, 1934 near Wagoner, Oklahoma. After leaving school at 15 he worked as a bricklayer in California. In 1958, while working on different construction sites he met up with fellow mason worker Don Wilson in Seattle, the two formed a band called The Versatones. The duo played small clubs, beer bars, and private parties throughout the Pacific Northwest. They recruited bassist Nokie Edwards, Skip Moore on drums and changed their name to the Ventures.

Bob was a self-taught guitar player, whose use of the tremolo arm was particularly notable and his playing in their 1960 cover of “Walk, Don’t Run” influenced a generation of guitarists including John Fogerty, Steve Miller, Joe Walsh and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The band enjoyed their greatest popularity and success in the US and Japan in the 1960s, but they have continued to perform and record up to 2009 recording in all 38 albums. With over 110 million albums sold worldwide, the group remains the best selling instrumental rock group of all time.

During their chart career they are reputed to have outsold The Beatles in Japan, where they enjoyed a loyal following.

The Ventures’ 1960s chart success made its way to the UK, scoring top 10 hits with Walk, Don’t Run and Perfidia. Bob along with The Ventures was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10th 2008 .
He had been suffering fromnon-Hodgkin lymphoma and was unable to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony.

He died at the age of 75 on June 14, 2009.

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Mel BrowenMarch 20, 2009 – Mel Brown was born in Jackson Mississippi on October 7th 1939; he started guitar in his early teens while battling meningitis, studying the music of idols like B. B. King and T-Bone Walker. In 1960, he toured with The Olympics, followed by a two years with Etta James.

By 1963, tired of life on the road, Mel returns to L.A. where he once again rejoins Johnny Otis. This time in the house band at the hot spot Club Sands. Here Mel gets a chance to back artists such as Pee Wee Crayton, Johnny Guitar Watson, Billy Preston and Sam Cooke. At this juncture of his career Mel begins to work steadily in the highly competitive L.A. studio scene appearing on sessions with everyone from Bobby Darin to Doris Day, Bill Cosby to Jerry Lewis. Meanwhile back in the blues world, after impressing T-Bone Walker with his playing one night at the Sands Club, Walker invited Mel to appear on an album , “Funky Town”, that he was preparing to record for the ABC/Impulse label. Also impressed with Mel’s guitar work on the T-Bone sessions, producer Bob Thiele summoned Mel back to the studio a week later to record his debut “Chicken Fat”.

The LP is a flavorsome mix of blues, jazz and funk instrumentals with special guest Herb Ellis along for the ride.

 Now signed to a major label in ABC/Impulse/Bluesway, Mel churns out a series of albums which are today highly prized collectibles. “The Wizard”, “I’d Rather Suck My Thumb”,” Blues For We”, “Mel Brown’s Fifth”, and “Big Foot Country Gal”, as well as the best of collection “Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlins”, all showcased Mel’s superb guitar work with an occasional vocal outing. The “Fifth” LP also featured an appearance by Mel’s father on 747 Blues. Later in 1971, Mick Jagger asked Mel to introduce him to Bobby Blue Bland. Bland responded by asking Mel to join his band. Mel takes him up on the offer and works on and off with Bland through 1981. In addition to his own albums Mel , during this time, also appears on recordings by John Lee Hooker, Lightning Hopkins, Roy Brown, Earl Hooker, Charles Brown and B.B.King.

In 1976 , seeking a break from the road, Mel moves to Nashville, where he is soon much in demand as a session player. He becomes part of the newly burgeoning “Outlaw” movement transforming Country music at the time, when he joins Tompall Glaser and his Outlaw Band and appears on their MGM LP.In the years to follow, he backed artists from Buddy Guy to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Clifton Chenier and Stevie Ray Vaughn. In 1986, Brown accepted Albert Collins’ offer to join his band the Icebreakers, recording Cold Snap before returning to Antone’s. In 1989, he resumed his solo career with “If It’s All Night, It’s All Right”.

While booked into The Pop-The-Gator Club in Kitchener, Ontario four days before Christmas 1989, Mel decides to stay and explore life in Canada. “I like being where I’m not suppose to be” chuckles Mel. The Canadian blues community welcomes him with open arms.

1991 – 1997 – Mel perfects his golf game and builds up a circuit of club gigs in southern Ontario with his ace band “The Homewreckers” featuring John Lee on Keyboards, Miss Angel on vocals, Al Richardson bass and Jim Boudreau drums. He was nominated for a Canadian Juno Award in both 2001 and 2002 and on April 3 2008 Mel performed on stage with Buddy Guy in Kitchener Ontario mesmerizing the crowd. Buddy Guy left the stage for Mel to finish the show to a Standing Ovation.

On March 20, 2009 died while fighting emphysema as a result of smoking all his life. He was 69.

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July 20, 2008 – Artie Traum was born on April 13th 1943 in the Bronx where he was raised as well.  He became a regular visitor to Greenwich Village clubs in the 1960s, hearing blues, folk music and jazz. Soon he was performing there, too. He made his first recording in 1963 as a member of the True Endeavor Jug Band Early.  Traum co-wrote songs for the Brian De Palma debut film Greetings – the first role for Robert De Niro – with Eric Kaz and Bear.

In 1969 Artie followed brother Happy to Woodstock, and they began working as a duo. That year the Traums performed at the Newport Folk Festival on stage with James Taylor, Kris Kristoferson and Joni Mitchell, and released their first studio album. Managed by Albert Grossman, whose other clients included Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary, the Traums toured worldwide Their self-titled debut album, Happy & Artie Traum was cited by the New York Times as “one of the best records in any field of pop music.” The Traums were managed by Albert Grossman (manager of The Band, Dylan, Janis Joplin, etc.).

In November 1971, both Artie and Happy Traum (together with Bob Dylan, David Amram, and others) participated in an extended Record Plant (NYC) session backing up Allen Ginsberg in various songs and chants. Ginsberg wrote the liner notes for the duo’s “Hard Times in the Country” LP.

During the 70’s and 80’s, Artie Traum produced The Woodstock Mountains Revue featuring himself, his brother Happy, Roly Salley Pat Alger, John Sebastian, Arlen Roth, Maria Muldaur, Rory Block, Eric Andersen, Paul Butterfield and Paul Siebel. In the mid-1980s Traum teamed up with singer/songwriter Pat Alger (Thunder Rolls, Unanswered Prayers). The duo recorded the album From The Heart. Traum released his first solo album, Life on Earth, in 1977 on Rounder Records.

Traum’s 1994 release – the jazz project Letters From Joubee – captured #1 on the Smooth Jazz Radio Charts (Gavin AA chart). In 1999 his Meetings With Remarkable Friends – which included tracks featuring Traum playing with The Band, Bela Fleck, Jay Ungar, and other notables – received the Best Acoustic Instrumental Album award from the NAV.

His work appeared on more than 35 albums. He produced and recorded with The Band, Warren Bernhardt, Pat Alger, Tony Levin, John Sebastian, Richie Havens, Maria Muldaur, Eric Anderson, Paul Butterfield, Paul Siebel, Rory Block, James Taylor, Pete Seeger, David Grisman, Livingston Taylor, Michael Franks and Happy Traum, among others. He toured in Japan, Europe and the USA

In 2003, Traum released a singer/songwriter project, South of Lafayette, which was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. In 2007 Traum released the album Thief of Time.

In later years, Traum enjoyed a small side career as a documentary filmmaker. In 2002, his film Deep Water: Building the Catskill Water System (co-produced and co-directed with Tobe Carey and Robbie Dupree) was featured at the Woodstock Film Festival. Two years later, in 2004, Traum co-produced Hudson River Journeys: A Celebration of America’s First River for WMHT Public Television. The latter film featured artist Len Tantillo and folksinger Pete Seeger.

Traum also wrote numerous guitar instruction books, and hosted many video productions for his brother Happy’s Homespun Tapes. Traum lived with his wife Beverly in Bearsville, New York, just outside Woodstock. At the time of his death, Traum had been at work on a memoir.

Traum died of liver cancer on July 20, 2008 at Bearsville, near Woodstock, New York, aged 65.

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Blues phenomenon Sean CostelloApril 15, 2008 – Sean Costello. Born in Philadelphia on April 16, 1979, Sean was a beautiful and precocious baby who walked, talked and read at an incredibly early age. His interest in music was evident as early as the age of 2, and after he moved to Atlanta at age 9, he began playing guitar. While his early influences were hard rock bands, he soon discovered the blues after picking up a Howlin’ Wolf tape in a bargain bin at a local record store. Sean never looked back. Soon local Atlanta bluesman Felix Reyes took Sean under his wing, and the rest is history.

At age 14, Sean won the prestigious Memphis Blues Society’s New Talent Award. The prize included studio time during which he recorded his debut album, Call The Cops, which was acclaimed by Real Blues Magazine as “an explosive debut.” While in Memphis, Sean met fellow blues guitarist Susan Tedeschi with whom he later toured as lead guitarist, going on to record incredible lead guitar tracks on her gold album Just Won’t Burn.

After leaving this tour in 2000, Sean put together his own band, and his next album Cuttin’ In was released in early 2000. This album garnered Sean a W.C. Handy Award nomination for Best New Artist Debut and earned him a Gold Record before his 21st birthday. As Philip Van Vleck commented in All Music Guide, “Costello the guitarist has snatched the key to the blues kingdom. His playing is shockingly deep for a 20-year-old. And his vocal work is nearly a match for his guitar chops; given time, that too will become very real. Of all the young blues lions out there brandishing their electric guitars, Costello is the one who’s got his head and heart into the deep blues.”

Released in 2002, his third album Moanin’ for Molasses featured a more mature and confidently soulful sound. With this album, Sean was featured in a Blues Revue cover story where he was lauded as “the top contender to be the next blues star – and soon.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called his guitar playing “masterful” and of “remarkable maturity,” and compared him to guitar legends B. B. King, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

2005 saw the release of Sean Costello, his self-titled album on which he explored soul, funk, and hard rock, covering songs by musical greats such as Johnny Taylor, Al Green, and Bob Dylan with a result that was uniquely his own. Two tracks on the album feature the great Levon Helm, one of Sean’s musical heroes, as well as Levon’s daughter Amy Helm and her group Ollabelle. Sean penned seven original songs for this album including the phenomenal ‘No Half Steppin’, a dynamic track which offers insight into Sean’s efforts to overcome his personal struggles.

Sean’s accomplishments in his short life were prodigious; he was successful, handsome and well-liked. Why, then, did he die of an accidental overdose? He died from an overdose of drugs including prescribed anti-anxiety medication

The most obvious answer is his struggle with Bipolar Disorder, which fueled his battle with alcohol and drugs. Sean endeavored until the end of his life to overcome the demons of panic attacks, sleep deprivation and depression that plagued him, the cause of which remained undiagnosed and unrecognized until close to his death on April 15, 2008.

Blues guitar virtuoso Tinsley Ellis called him a triple threat, pointing at his virtuoso guitar playing, his masterful singing and his amazing songwriting. As a guitarist he was astounding, but for Sean Costello it was never about showing off monstrous chops or stroking his ego. His playing always fit the song; he would work the tone and phrasing, sometimes with an economy of notes that let the empty spaces hang achingly for what seemed like hours. When he did take off on the occasional blazing run, he was the ultimate tightrope walker, flirting fearlessly beyond pentatonic danger before bringing it all back home with the unlikeliest of phrases that was still, somehow, perfect.

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Jeff HealeyMarch 2, 2008 – Norman Jeffrey “Jeff” Healy was one of the finest, most underrated, blues rock guitarists/vocalist of his generation. Due to cancer his eyes were surgically removed when he was one year old, which was probably a major reason for starting to play guitar at age 3 in a very unconventional way- flat on his lap. That way he could use 4 fingers plus his thumb to create amazing solos. Even though he broke into the public limelight as a result of being the “house band” in Patrick Swayze’s 1989 movie Roadhouse, it really was Stevie Ray Vaughn and fellow blues guitarist Albert Collins, who discovered Healey in a spontaneous Toronto Canada jam session.

Born in Toronto, Ontario on March 25, 1966, Healey was raised in the city’s west end. He began playing guitar when he was three. When he was 15, Jeff Healey formed the band Blue Direction, a four-piece which primarily played bar-band cover tunes and featured bassist Jeremy Littler, drummer Graydon Chapman, and a schoolmate, Rob Quail on second guitar. This band played various local clubs in Toronto, including the Colonial Tavern.

Using his massive vintage 78 rpm gramophone record collection, Healey began hosting a popular jazz and blues show on radio station CIUT-FM.

In that capacity, he was introduced to two local musicians, bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen, with whom he then formed a trio, The Jeff Healey Band. This band made their first public appearance at the Birds Nest, located upstairs at Chicago’s Diner on Queen Street West in Toronto. They made a deep impression and received a write-up in Toronto’s NOW magazine, and soon were playing almost nightly in local clubs, such as Grossman’s Tavern and the famed blues club Albert’s Hall (where he was discovered by guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins).

After being signed to Arista Records in 1988, the band released the album See the Light, featuring the hit single “Angel Eyes” and the song “Hideaway”, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. While the band was recording See the Light, they were also filming (and recording for the soundtrack of) the Patrick Swayze film Road House. Healey had numerous acting scenes in the movie with Swayze, as his band was the house cover band for the bar featured in the movie. In 1990, the band won the Juno Award for Canadian Entertainer of the Year. The albums Hell to Pay and Feel This gave Healey 10 charting singles in Canada between 1990 and 1994, including a cover of The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps which featured George Harrison and Jeff Lynne on backing vocals and acoustic guitar.

Around the turn of the century, Healy started embracing his first love, JAZZ and often exchanged guitar for trumpet, especially during live performances.
On March 2, 2008, Healey died of cancer in his home town of Toronto. He was 41 years old. His death came a month before the release of Mess of Blues, which was his first rock/blues album in eight years.

After years of efforts by fans, friends and family, Jeff Healey was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame on Saturday October 18th, 2014, as a recipient of the Cineplex Legends Award.

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Bobby FerraraJanuary 15, 2008 – Bobby Ferrara was born Robert Patrick Ferrara on July 22nd 1965 Bobby Ferrara in Queens Village, Long Island, New York.

He was 6 years old when he started playing guitar and never received formal lessons. His major influences were Eddie van Halen and Kiss’s Ace Frehley and he practiced them 4 to 5 hours every day. He was a quiet introvert kid who loved his music and waited out his life for the right women.
But those qualities made him an extraordinary shredder. His jaw-dropping solo flurries, wah-drenched fusillades and high-energy freakout got him New York’s Hot Licks guitar contest twice, and made him a world class guitarist.

Before moving to California in the seventies he also wrote a bimonthly guitar technique/effects column called “The Clinic” for New Jersey’s only heavy metal magazine, “Ironworx”.

He has been described by the world’s top guitar shredders as .. melting metal with burning speedchaotic melodic maniacjaw-dropping – faster than the flight of the bumble bee at double speed, then faster ~ a metal burner and the praise go on.

Bobby was all this, and much more. Shredders are usually sloppy but his playing was the cleanest I have ever heard at such high speeds while losing absolutely nothing. Also his shredding contained far more melody than his worldly counterparts, but he was more than this too. His composing was fresh, clever, and as passionate as his playing, his haunting guitar work cried in his rock ballads, using as much compassionate control and projection in his slow work as he did in his high speed shredding. Bobby Ferrara was a true guitar virtuoso.

When asked during one of the rare interviews with him about his secrets on the guitar he said: “No secrets at all, it takes drive and a passion , I think too many kids today don’t have good role models to look up to. Picking up a guitar for 5 minutes and chatting on the computer won’t do the trick… if you put the time in , your rewards are great”.

Bobby Ferrara sadly died in his sleep at his home after suffering a fatal heart attack. Bobby was far more than a fast guitarist and inspirational composer, he was a loving husband to his still newlywed wife Angel, and a clean living young man with such a kind and generous personality to all he met.

He died from a fatal heart attack in his sleep on January 15, 2008 at the age of 42.

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Ike TurnerDecember 12, 2007 – Ike Wister Turner  was born on November 5th, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. By the time he was 8 years old he was working at the local Clarksdale radio station, WROX, as an elevator boy, soon he was helping the visiting musicians and doing all sorts around the radio stations. He met many musicians Robert Nighthawk, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Walter and his idol Pinetop Perkins helped teach the young Ike to play boogie-woogie on the piano.

In the late 1940s Ike, playing guitar, helped form a group with sax player Jackie Brenston, ‘The Kings of Rhythm’, and in 1951, they recorded a song penned by Ike, what historians are still debating as “the first rock and roll record” with “Rocket 88”, listed on the charts as Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. The song was one of the first examples of guitar distortion, which happened by accident, Ike had dropped his amplifier before the recording.

He soon became known for his hard-hitting guitar style. In the 1950s he also became a recording scout and A&R man for independent record companies including Sun Records, he helped many of his radio friends get signed.

 Life changed when in 1959 a young girl grabbed a microphone during a Kings of Rhythm gig at one of St. Louis’ nightspots and sung a BB King song. Ike was so impressed with Miss Anna Mae Bullock that he asked her to join the band. A year later in 1960, he changed Anna’s name to Tina Turner and the name of the band to the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.

For the next 16 years Ike and Tina Turner were one the most powerful and explosive duos in the history of rock n roll, with hits such as “River Deep, Mountain High”, “Nutbush City Limits”, “I Want To Take You Higher” and “Proud Mary”. Initially a flop in the US, especially River Deep Mountain High made is way around the world as a Phil Spector, Wall of Sound production. Until the mid 70s they toured the world with superstar success. But then Tina left Ike in 1976 after allegations of domestic violence.

Ike struggled through the 80’s releasing only two albums and found himself facing drug and weapons charges. Alongside,Tina, he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, but could not attend as he was jailed at the time. But 1993 sees him back on the road with The Kings of Rhythm, as well as recording again, which he continued till his death.

In 2001, Ike released the Grammy-nominated Here & Now album; in 2004 he was awarded with an “Heroes Award” from the Memphis charter of NARAS, and in 2005, he appeared on the Gorillaz’ album, Demon Days, playing piano on the track, “Every Planet We Reach Is Dead”. He played live with the band on the band’s world tour to that particular song.

In 2007, Ike won his first solo Grammy in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for the album, Risin’ With the Blues. A collaboration between Ike and the rock band, The Black Keys, by Gorillaz’ producer Danger Mouse, was posthumously released in 2008.

It is said that Ike was married 14 times, although he has only been known to have married four times publicly, but then in a radio interview in 2007 Ike claimed he and Tina Turner were never actually married. In 54 years of pure rocking and rolling with his temper tantrums, drug abuse, prison, the car crashes, gambling, singing to royalty, winning awards, topping the world charts, this powerful singer, awesome guitarist and colorful character who has helped so many musicians along on his journey will be sadly missed by many.

Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, singer, guitarist, bandleader, talent scout, record producer, Ike Turner “The Grandaddy of Rock n Roll” sadly died of a cocaine overdose on Dec 12, 2007 at the age of 76 at his home in San Marcos, near San Diego, California.

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Hughie Thomasson 300September 9, 2007 – Hughie Thomasson. One of the pre-eminent Southern rock guitarists/songwriters, Outlaws’ Hughie Thomasson went out to dinner with his wife Mary on Sunday, went home, got comfortable in his favorite chair to watch football and then passed away from a heart attack during a nap. He was 55 and lived in Brooksville, Fla., near Tampa.

Born Hugh Edward Thomasson Jr., Hughie Thomasson joined a fledgling Tampa-area bar band named the Outlaws in the late ’60s. With David Dix on drums, Thomasson quickly made a name for himself as a no-nonsense guitar master. The group disbanded, but Thomasson reformed the Outlaws in 1972 with guitarist Henry Paul, drummer Monte Yoho and bassist Frank O’Keefe. (Paul later enjoyed a successful country career as a member of BlackHawk.) Guitarist Billy Jones joined in 1973, completing the guitar army rock approach.

Known as the Florida Guitar Army for their triple-lead guitar attack, the Outlaws were the first group signed by former Columbia Records head Clive Davis when he formed Arista Records. He flew to Columbus, Ga., in 1974 to see the Outlaws perform with Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Columbus Civic Center and went to the Ramada Inn after the show and made an offer.

Their 1975 debut album, The Outlaws, quickly sold gold, and they were signed as the opening act on the Doobie Brothers’ Stampede tour. The band went on to record 13 albums in all, with such hits as “Green Grass and High Tides” and “Hurry Sundown,” both of which Thomasson wrote. His signature Fender Stratocaster guitar sound and vocals came to define the group.

The Outlaws disbanded in the mid-’90s when Thomasson joined Lynyrd Skynyrd. He added his distinctive guitar sound to Skynyrd’s robust lineup and co-wrote many of the band’s later songs. In 2005, Thomasson left Skynyrd and reformed the Outlaws with drummers Yoho and Dix, bassist Randy Threet and guitarist Chris Anderson.

They toured extensively in 2007 and performed with the Charlie Daniels Band, the Marshall Tucker Band and Dickey Betts and also played a festival in Amsterdam with Aerosmith. The Outlaws’ last concert took place Saturday (Sept. 8) at a casino in Nevada, and they had 15 concert dates scheduled through mid-December of this year. A final, completed album, tentatively titled Once an Outlaw, which Thomasson produced, has not yet been scheduled for release. Thomasson had also planned to re-release his solo album, So Low, under the new title, Lone Outlaw.

RIP Hughie, you blew me away from the first time I heard Green Grass and High Tides. Go show them how it’s down up there in the Blue Yonder.

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Kelly Johnson 7/2007

July 15, 2007 – Bernadette Jean “Kelly” Johnson (Girlschool)  who was born on June 20 1958 and educated at Edmonton County School, Enfield,North London was the epitome of a rock chick. She started playing piano after her father when five years old and switched to guitar at twelve. and played bass and piano in various schoolbands.

Johnston first discovered music while a pupil at Edmonton County School in North London. Already writing and playing her own material, in the mid-1970s, Johnson fell in with her future band-mates – bassist Enid Williams and guitarist Kim McAuliffe, who, along with Deirdre Cartright and Kathy Valentine, had formed the prototype for Girlschool, Painted Lady. Touring the local pub circuit, lead guitarists came and went until Johnson joined in 1978. With Denise Dufort taking over on drums at the same time, this was the classic, most enduring Girlschool line-up, surviving until 1982.

Strutting out of the late 1970s New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Girlschool may have been considered a novelty act by some sexist elements. The name change to Girlschool was a smart move, because, while undoubtedly taking advantage of their gender in an arena where only American band The Runaways, featuring Joan Jett, were ploughing a similar furrow, Girlschool attracted record company interest from the off. They recorded their debut single, Take It All Away, in December 1978. It was released by the tiny City records in 1979. This gained Girlschool attention, and they were signed up as tour support to Motorhead, the fast-rocking trio founded by former Hawkwind bassist, Lemmy. Girlschool quickly became the headliners’ label-mates at Bronze Records.

After two singles, Girl school’s first chart entry for Bronze, Race With The Devil, peaked at number 49 in 1980, and their debut album, Demolition, released the same year, reached number 28. It was a record, shared with Motorhead, however, that would see the band hit the big time. An inspired wheeze by Bronze boss Gerry Bron, The St Valentine’s Day massacre EP, released in 1981, saw each band cover two of the other’s songs. Such homages are commonplace today, though then the novelty of fame by association paid off handsomely, wth the record entering the UK singles chart at number five, and resulting in major features on the band in the music press.

The 1981 Hit And Run album reached a similar peak, while the title track, released as a single, made it to number 32, and a follow up, C’mon Let’s Go, reached number 42. This resulted in sell-out shows at Hammersmith Odeon, tours with Black Sabbath, Rush and Uriah Heep, and a headline slot at the Reading Festival.

By 1982, however, the NWOBHM bubble had burst, and Girlschool’s popularity waned, with the single Don’t Call It Love album only scraping in at 58, though the band’s third album, Screaming Blue Murder, reached a respectable 27 in 1982, and the band toured America, sharing bills alongside Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, The Scorpions and Blue Oyster Cult. After a hiatus caused by in-band friction, Girlschool returned with new bassist Gil Weston replacing Williams, though by the time a fourth album, Play Dirty, produced by Slade’s Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, was released in 1983, interest in the band had waned, and the album struggled to reach number 66.

Johnson left Girlschool in 1984. While the band released three more albums in the 1980s and continued touring and recording in various line-ups, including a period under the name She Devils, with Toyah Wilcox joining as lead vocalist, Johnson moved to Los Angeles, where she lived with Runaways bassist Vicki Blue.

Though Johnson stayed in America for 10 years, attempts to pursue a solo career were unsuccessful, as was a proposal to form a new group with original Painted Lady member, Kathy Valentine, who’d found fame with another all-female band, The Go-Gos, with Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin. Moving away from music for awhile, Johnson learned sign language, and worked with the deaf.

As guitarist she held her own musically in a rock world dominated by machismo. She provided both a strong visual focus for the band with her tall figure and blonde hair and an excellent musical contribution with her trenchant guitar playing. Rock guitarist Jeff Beck was quoted as saying he “couldn’t believe it was a girl playing”, a remark described by the DJ John Peel as the most sexist comment he had ever heard. Conversely, Lemmy of Motörhead declared about Kelly Johnson that “the nights that she was really on, she was as good as Jeff Beck”.

The pull of rock’n’roll was too strong to keep Johnson away from her guitar for long, and in 1993 she returned to the UK to resume her role as lead guitarist of a Girlschool made up of three-quarters of the classic line-up. Johnson toured with the band for seven years, appearing on a live album, while her final recordings appeared on 2001’s 21st anniversary release, Not That Innocent. Johnson had left touring with the band the previous year after diagnosis of spine cancer that would end the career of one distinctive rock goddess on July 15, 2007 at age 49.

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Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete KleinowJanuary 6, 2007 – “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow  was born on August 20th 1934 in South Bend, Indiana. He became intrigued by the steel guitar, particularly the Hawaiian stylings of Jerry Byrd, and he took up the instrument when he was 17. He worked repairing roads, but he would play in club bands at night. One band decided that everyone should have nicknames and, for Kleinow, “Sneaky” stuck.

In 1960, he moved to Los Angeles and wrote jingles, and worked as a special effects artist and stop motion animator for movies and television, including the Gumby and Davey and Goliath series. He did special effects for the film The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) and the cult TV show The Outer Limits.

His first date as a session musician was on the Ventures‘ “Blue Star” in 1965. He played in clubs around Los Angeles and sat in with Bakersfield Sound-oriented combos and early country-rock aggregations playing the pedal steel guitar. This is where he became acquainted with Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons of The Byrds, helping the group to replicate their newly country-oriented sound onstage with banjoist Doug Dillard and, early in 1968, Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons told him of their plans to relaunch the rock band the Byrds in a country music setting. Kleinow played a few exploratory shows with them, but the Byrds’ leader, Roger McGuinn, would not agree to a permanent position for a pedal steel guitarist and the band, at best a shaky alliance, fell apart. McGuinn found new members, while Hillman and Parsons formed a new band to encompass country, rock, gospel and soul, the Flying Burrito Brothers. McGuinn said subsequently: “They wanted to fire me and get Sneaky Pete in my place.”

In essence, they did this by getting the Flying Burrito Brothers together. After leaving the Byrds, in 1968, Parsons and Hillman invited Pete to join their new band, the Flying Burrito Brothers. He left behind his career in visual effects and spent the next thirteen years as a professional musician. He became an in demand session player for an eclectic range of artists. Parsons encouraged the band to wear outlandish rhinestone suits from Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors and the cover of their first album, The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969), is iconic. The band is shown with some very attractive girls, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Male fans looked at the cover and wanted to be there.

The Flying Burrito Brothers opened for the Rolling Stones at Altamont in December 1969 and can be seen in the concert film Gimme Shelter. Keith Richards asked Kleinow to add a steel guitar to their recording of “Wild Horses”; and Parsons obtained permission for the Flying Burrito Brothers to record the song as well. Kleinow played on two more albums by the group, Burrito De Luxe (1970) and The Flying Burrito Brothers (1971).

He did session work with Joe Cocker (Joe Cocker, 1969) and Delaney and Bonnie (To Bonnie from Delaney, 1970) and was to work on Little Feat albums including Sailin’ Shoes (1972); he also added steel guitar to records by Frank Zappa (Waka/Jawaka, 1972), the Bee Gees (Life in a Tin Can, 1973), John Lennon (Mind Games, 1973) and Fleetwood Mac (Heroes are Hard to Find, 1974).

In 1972 Sneaky teamed up with Laramy Smith in the super group ARIZONA. He also added steel guitar to records by Frank Zappa, the Bee Gees, John Lennon, Linda Ronstadt and Fleetwood Mac.

In 1974 Pete was part of a new band, Cold Steel, and then a reconstituted Flying Burrito Brothers. His first solo album, Sneaky Pete, was released in 1978 and The Legend and the Legacy followed in 1994. He had also returned to special effects and created the dinosaurs for the comic film Caveman (1981), starring Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach.

In 1983, his work on the television miniseries The Winds of War was recognized with an Emmy Award for Special Visual Effects.Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Pete created special effects for movies such as The Empire Strikes Back, Gremlins, The Right Stuff, The Terminator, and Terminator 2, while continuing to work sporadically as a professional musician.

In 2000, Kleinow formed a group called Burrito Deluxe with ex the Band multi instrumentalist Garth Hudson, the name of a 1970 Flying Burrito Brothers album. The group recorded three albums, Georgia Peach, The Whole Enchilada and 2007’s Disciples Of The Truth, which feature his last studio recordings. Pete’s last performance was at a 2005 Gram Parsons tribute concert in Waycross, Georgia, the home town of Gram Parsons.

He died of complications of Alzheimer’s  at age 72 on January 6, 2007 in Petaluma, California.

Only a handful of steel guitarists have made their influence felt beyond country music and Sneaky Pete Kleinow was among the ranking one’s of them. He is noted for his work with the Flying Burrito Brothers but scores of country-rock records featured his playing. More often than not, the steel guitar is used for melancholy, reflective songs, but Kleinow saw its possibilities as a rock instrument and would ensure that it was strongly amplified. As a result, he was described as “the Jimi Hendrix of the steel guitar”.

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April Lawton 11/2006

April LawtonNov 23, 2006 – April Lawton was born on July 30th 1948 on Long Island New York. As guitar virtuoso, singer, and composer she came to notice in the early 70s as the lead guitarist of the criminally underrated rock band  Ramatam, which also included former Iron Butterfly guitarist Mike Pinera and the former Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell. With Jimi just dead she was hailed as the female Jimi Hendrix by many, and her style was a mix of Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Alan Holdsworth. Even after Pinera and Mitchell left after the self titled debut album, she stayed with Ramatam for “In April Came the Dawning of the Red Suns”, in my opinion one of the most incredibly versatile instrumental albums ever recorded.

But April left after this second album, to follow her solo project called the April Lawton Band, which dissolved in the late 1970s. Some much less talented male guitar players with the help of a jealous so-called fellow female guitar player friend spread the rumor that April was transgender, since no good looking woman could ever play the guitar like she could, n’est-ce pas?  Even though others like Mike Pinera and swore this to be a lie, these flaming fuckers actually may have been a major reason why she never allowed for an interview and kind of “disappeared” from the music scene after the 70s were over. The other reason was that she was also a worldclass visual artist.April_with_Jimmy_Page

Her painting and graphic designs, were amazing and as a worldclass freehand artist she got published in Magazines like Science Digest. Yet from a very obscure piece of fusion she wrote in those years titled “Breathless” one can easily deduct that playing guitar must have stayed a major part of here life in the 80s. Listen to this obscure recording of a tune she wrote and then produced together with New York guitarist Rishard Lampese (REESHO) in his home grown studio in the early nineties. The tune is called “Breathless” and April plays the second lead starting about 2 min. 10 sec. in. It’s some of the most advanced guitar playing I have ever heard.

Her personal life stayed very private until her death on Thanksgiving 2006, although during the 1990s she recorded demos for a future album, but the material remains unreleased. Some excerpts were available at the April Lawton tribute website but are now unplugged. If anything, April Lawton opened the doors for female superstars on guitar, such as Orianthi, Nori Bucci, Jess Greenberg, Giulia Gualtieri, Alexandra Maiolo and others. She sadly died from heart failure at her home in New York on Nov 23, 2006 at age 58.

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johnny-jenkinsJune 26, 2006 – Johnny Jenkins was born the son of a day laborer on March 5, 1939 east of Macon, Georgia in a rural area called Swift Creek. On the battery powered radio, he was drawn to hillbilly music and first heard the sounds of blues and classic R&B artists like Bill Doggett, Bullmoose Jackson, and others.

Jenkins built his first guitar out of a cigar box and rubber bands when he was nine, and began playing at a gas station for tips. He played it left-handed and upside down (like Hendrix), and this practice continued after his older sister bought him a real guitar a couple of years later. He left school in seventh grade to take care of his ailing mother and by 16 had turned to music full time.

He started out with a small blues band called the Pinetoppers that played the college circuit and first heard Redding at a talent show at a Macon theater. At one college event with the Pinetoppers, he met Walden, a white student at Macon’s Mercer University who was attracted to black rhythm-and-blues music. Besides working as Mr. Jenkins’s manager, Walden co-founded the legendary Southern rock label Capricorn Records, which produced Jenkins two albums “Ton-Ton Macoute!” and “Blessed Blues.”

Jenkins was a self-taught guitarist, a fixture on the Macon scene known for his Chuck Berry-like walks and behind-the-head guitar picking. His dealings with Otis Redding he described as follows:

“I heard Otis at the Douglass, and the group behind him just wasn’t making it,” Mr. Jenkins told pop music biographer Peter Guralnick. “So I went up to him and said, ‘Do you mind if I play behind you?’ Cause he didn’t know me. . . . Well, he sounded great with me playing behind him.”

Redding received a lot of airplay for the 1960 single “Shout Bamalama,” on which he was backed by the Pinetoppers. But in the early years he largely remained the band’s gofer, and when the Pinetoppers were asked in 1962 to record for Memphis’s Stax records. As Johnny did not have a driver’s license, the young Otis Redding drove the group to Tennessee. 

The session was reportedly a disorganized disaster, with several musicians leaving early. Redding asked whether he could use the remaining 40 minutes studio time to sing.  Among his selections was “These Arms of Mine,” a ballad on which Jenkins played guitar and Steve Cropper played piano. “These Arms of Mine” became Redding’s breakthrough, selling 800,000 copies, and in the end he alone won a recording contract. Redding went on to have hits with “Respect,” “Try a Little Tenderness” and “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” before a fatal plane crash in 1967.

Jenkins had declined to join Redding’s band, citing a fear of flying, but there may have been other reasons for his refusal. As he told one interviewer, “People always want me to make him sound like a good guy, and, see, I know better. . . . Redding was a bully. He was hell to get along with.”

Back in Macon, Mr. Jenkins retained a loyal following and some noted admirers, including guitarist Jimi Hendrix, who played lefty like Jenkins and had relatives in the area. The two performed together occasionally in the late 1960s. in 1969, Jenkins and Hendrix teamed up to play together at The Scene, a club owned by Steve Paul in New York.

In 1970 Jenkins had an acclaimed solo album, “Ton-Ton Macoute!”, which featured guitarist Duane Allman and other members of the early Allman Brothers band. Among the songs singled out by critics was his rendition of Dr. John’s “I Walk on Guilded Splinters,‘ which has been sampled by numerous artists from Beck to Oasis.

But feeling cheated financially and disillusioned by many in the music business, Jenkins did not release another solo album until “Blessed Blues” (1996), made at the urging of old friend and Southern rock producer Phil Walden. On the recording, he worked with keyboardist Chuck Leavell and several Swampers sidemen from Muscle Shoals studios.

Critic Philip Martin wrote in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of Mr. Jenkins, “This reemergence shows him as a sturdy country bluesman with excellent taste and a remarkable electric touch.”

Two further albums followed; ‘Handle With Care’ and ‘All in Good Time’

He died from a stroke at age 67 on June 26, 2006.

Jenkins was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

The Jimi Hendrix Factor:

According to Eddie Kirkland, Jimi Hendrix had an initiation in the South. In the early ’50s Kirkland played guitar for John Lee Hooker, and he remembers meeting Hendrix in ’56. “I didn’t see Jimi in the sixties,” insists Kirkland. “I met him when he was thirteen years old, nothin’ but a kid, a youngster, you understand? See, he had kin people in Macon, Georgia, some people there up on Fort Hill. He came down there in the summer, down to a place called Sawyer’s Lake. On Sunday kids could come in. At the time that I met Jimi, he was trying to learn how to play the bass.”

“As a very young boy,” Jimi concurred, “I started my musical career playin’ drums and bass.”

We had bought one of those Sears Roebuck guitars,” remembers Eddie, “and he started playing that. Then I had to go away, I left there, but there was another guitarist there named Johnny Jenkins.”

Jenkins was older than Jimi. He later teamed up with Otis Redding and become Macon’s flashiest player. Percy Welch was another well known Macon musician who met Hendrix. “Jimi was hanging around Johnny Jenkins, mostly learning from Johnny,” observed Percy. “Both of them were left handed guitar players. At that time, Johnny Jenkins was a better player than Jimi, ’cause Jimi was just starting out, he couldn’t play well. I remember he had a little ol’ green and white guitar. He was the quiet type, didn’t have a whole lot to say. Every now and then I’d see him with Eddie around Cooper Hall down on broadway.”

Malarkey,” says Al Hendrix, Jimi’s dad, “not when he was thirteen.”

Could Jimi have travelled to Georgia without Al’s knowledge?
Jimi once explained, “My brother and I used to go to different homes, because dad and mother used to break up all the time. I ran away a couple of times because I was so miserable. When my dad found out I’d gone he went pretty mad with worry. He hit me on the face and I ran away.” Jimi’s parents, Al and Lucille, were divorced in 1951. The boys stayed with Al. “Dad was never home,” said Leon. “Me and Jimi were like Gypsies, going from auntie to neighbor.” In 1956 Leon was eight and staying with a foster family. Did Jimi run away with Lucille for a private road trip to the South, maybe with a man Al didn’t like?

I walk on up to your rebel roadside/the one that rambles on for a million miles/I walk down this road searchin’ for your love and my soul too/when I find you I ain’t gonna let go. I remember the first time I saw you/the tears in your eyes looked like they were trying to say/oh little boy you know I could love you/but first I must make my getaway/two strange men fightin’ to the death over me today/I’ll try to meet ya by the old highway. – “Gypsy Eyes” – Jimi

Lucille’s sister, Dolores Hall, confirms that Lucille spoke to her about the Georgia trip, but fear of Al’s wrath would prevent Jimi from ever disclosing the details to anyone. Paul Caruso knew Jimi well in 1966 and observed, “He was very well raised by his father, a very obedient son. It was his nature to get things done by being obedient, compliant.” Both Jimi and Al have said that Jimi got into guitar at the age of thirteen. That’s the age of the boy Eddie Kirkland met at Sawyer’s Lake, the boy from Fort Hill who was transformed:
Well, the night I was born, the moon turned a fire red/my poor mother cried out the Gypsy was right, and I seen her fell down right dead/Well mountain lions found me there and set me on an eagle’s wing/he took me past the outskirts of infinity/and when he brought me back he gave me Venus witch’s ring/and he said fly on, fly on, ’cause I’m a Voodoo Chile…
– Jimi

A Macon initiation. The rite of passage ritual. Death of the mothered boychild, rebirth as Voodoo Chile bluesman. A shaman is born. As was his habit, Jimi cloaked what he couldn’t say with a metaphor, in the form of a dream, a dream about Lucille going on a far away trip, “She was saying, ‘I won’t be seeing you too much any more, so I’ll see ya,’ and I said, ‘Yeah? Where’re you going?’, and then about two years after that, she died…I always will remember that one, I never did forget, there’s some dreams you never forget.”

“Two years after” that 1956 trip to Macon, Lucille died.

I might as well go back over yonder,
way back over yonder where my mother comes from…
“Red House” – Jimi

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duane-rolandJune 19, 2006 – Duane Roland was born on December 3rd 1953 in Jeffersonville, Indiana and moved to Florida at the age of 7. Music was evident in the Roland home – Duane’s dad was an occasional guitarist, and his mom was a concert pianist. Duane originally played drums in his first band, at high school, before gravitating to the guitar.

On his decision to become a serious musician he said: “I was at the “West Palm Beach Music Festival” and the line up was Johnny Winter, Vanilla Fudge,Janis Joplin, King Krimson and the Rolling Stones. It had rained and I was laying on a piece of  plastic. King Krimson was late so Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin and The Vanilla Fudge got up and jammed and I came straight up off that plastic and said, “That’s what I wanna do! I watched Johnny play and that was it for me.”

Duane originally tried to put a band together with Banner Thomas, and Bruce Crump but it didn’t really work. He made his name in Florida as a guitarist with The Ball Brothers Band. When The Ball Brothers split, Duane filled in for Dave Hlubek with Molly Hatchet when Dave was unable to make a gig. He was in!! The band had originally formed around Jacksonville, Florida in 1971 and taken their name from a 17th century prostitute who allegedly mutilated and decapitated her clients with a hatchet.

Molly Hatchet was formed in 1971 by Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland. Danny Joe Brown joined in 1974, Duane Roland, Banner Thomas, Bruce Crump in 1975. When they finally got their recording contract with Epic they got some help and advice from Ronnie Van Zant, who was originally suppose to produce the album, but was unable to due to the tragic plane crash in ’77. Because of this the band’s debut was not released until late 1978. Fortunately for the band, this late delivery did little to deter their popularity. By the time their second record was released, the band had became enormously popular and stayed that way for many years despite the departure of vocalist/frontman Danny Joe Brown. Brown left the band in 1980 due to health problems stemming from diabetes. Others have stated that the band worked hard on the road, and drank just as hard, which was the reason that Brown had to go. Brown returned to the band in ’83 for a successful tour and the release of “No Guts No Glory”.

Duane began performing with Molly Hatchet fulltime in 1975, and he remained with the band through various personnel changes until he left in 1990. (the only exception being when he quit the band for ONE DAY during a summer tour in 1983!!)

They recorded and released their first album, “Molly Hatchet” in 1978, followed by “Flirtin’ with Disaster” in 1979. They toured behind the album building a larger fan base. He recorded seven albums with the band and is is credited with co-writing some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Bloody Reunion” and “Boogie No More”.  During his stay, he was famous for his ability to nail his lead spots in just one take. He was actually the only member of the classic lineup to appear on all seven albums. The only song he didn’t perform on was “Cheatin’ Woman”. He also co-wrote a great deal of classic Molly Hatchet music. Duane appeared on the 1989 album “Junkyard” by the band of the same name.

At the time he left in 1990, he was the owner of the Molly Hatchet brand. The agreement in the band had always been that the last man standing got the name.

Duane then quit music for almost a decade and ran a company in the field of office machine repairs and later became a call centre supervisor with an Internet company.

Duane was the only Hatchet original to not play in the Dixie Jam Band during Jammin’ for DJB. Riff West (the shows organiser) sites “legal difficulties” as the reason Duane did not perform. He did however, lend his talents by added his guitar tracks in the studio.

In 2002, Duane’s employer was bought out, and unemployment beckoned. He was also suffering problems with his hip, which he had replaced in late 2002. During his recuperation, the news broke that Jimmy Farrar had joined the SRA, and it wasn’t long before Jimmy was trying to bring Duane out again. He was on leave from the the Southern Rock Allstars to recuperate from a hip operation when in November 2004, Riff West confirmed that the rumours of a reunion of sorts were true. Riff, Bruce Crump, Steve Holland, Dave Hlubek, Duane Roland and Jimmy Farrar were rehearsing. Dave Hlubek dropped out of the project in January 2005 however…so the new band were the remaining five and Bruce’s bandmate from Daddy-Oh, guitarist Linne Disse. They named themselves after their classic song…”Gator Country Band” and kicked off their career in style opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd on March 12, 2005 in Orlando, FLA. Gator Country, included many of the founding members of Molly Hatchet

Duane Roland sadly passed away at his home in St. Augustine, Florida on Monday June 19, 2006. He was 53, and his death was apparently from “natural causes”.

“He had a heart as big as Texas and a talent twice that big,” said singer Jimmy Farrar, who performed with Roland in all three bands. “Not only was he a colleague but he was one of the best friends I ever had and he will be sorely missed.”

Drummer Bruce Crump said Roland was the anchor of Molly Hatchet during the 1980s, a time when the band’s lineup was constantly changing. “During all that time, Duane was the constant,” said Crump. “I can’t imagine playing Molly Hatchet music without Duane Roland. It just wouldn’t be the same.”

“…then the Allman Brothers came along and made the sound heavier and started churning out these 15-minute songs. Next, Lynyrd Skynyrd came along and refined that sound: made it more powerful and crunchier. Then you had Marshall Tucker and Grinderswitch and they added a country flavor to it and then came Molly Hatchet and we were the first to put a metal edge to it. That was the evolution of the things that were taking place then.”
– Dave Hlubek


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Ali Farka ToureMarch 7, 2006 – Ali Ibrahim “Farka” Touré  was born in 1939 in the village of Kanau, on the banks of the Niger River in the cercle of Gourma Rharous in the northwestern Malian region of Tombouctou. His family moved to the nearby village of Niafunké when he was still an infant. He was the tenth son of his mother but the only one to survive past infancy. “The name I was given was Ali Ibrahim, but it’s a custom in Africa to give a child a strange nickname if you have had other children who have died”, Touré was quoted as saying in a biography on his Record Label, World Circuit Records. His nickname, “Farka”, chosen by his parents, means “donkey”, an animal admired for its tenacity and stubbornness: “Let me make one thing clear. I’m the donkey that nobody climbs on!” He was descended from the ancient military force known as the Arma, and was ethnically tied to the Songrai (Songhai) and Peul peoples of northern Mali.

As the first African bluesman to achieve widespread popularity on his home continent, Touré was often known as “the African John Lee Hooker”. Musically, the many superpositions of guitars and rhythms in his music were similar to John Lee Hooker’s hypnotic blues style. He usually sang in one of several African languages, mostly Songhay, Fulfulde, Tamasheq or Bambara as on his breakthrough album, Ali Farka Touré, which established his reputation in the world music community. 1994’s Talking Timbuktu, a collaboration with Ry Cooder, sold promisingly well in Western markets, but was followed by a hiatus from releases in America and Europe. He reappeared in 1999 with the release of Niafunké, a more traditional album focusing on African rhythms and beats. Touré was the mentor and uncle of popular Malian musician Afel Bocoum.

Some of Ali Farka Touré’s songs and tunes have been used in different programmes, films and documentaries. For instance, his guitar riff on the song “Diaraby”, from the album Talking Timbuktu, was selected for the Geo-quiz segment of The World PRI-BBC program, and was retained by popular demand when put to a vote of the listeners. This song is likewise used in 1998 as a soundtrack for the film L’Assedio (Besieged) by the Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci. His songs Cinquante six, Goye Kur and Hawa Dolo from the album The Source are also used as a soundtrack in the French film Fin août, début septembre (“Late August, Early September”) directed in 1998 by Olivier Assayas.

In 2002 he appeared with Black American blues and reggae performer Corey Harris, on an album called Mississippi to Mali (Rounder Records). Toure and Harris also appeared together in Martin Scorcese’s 2003 documentary film Feel Like Going Home, which traced the roots of blues back to its genesis in West Africa. The film was narrated by Harris and features Ali’s performances on guitar and njarka.

In 2004 Touré became mayor of Niafunké and spent his own money grading the roads, putting in sewer canals and fuelling a generator that provided the impoverished town with electricity.

In September 2005, he released the album In the Heart of the Moon, a collaboration with Toumani Diabaté, for which he received a second Grammy award. His last album, Savane, was posthumously released in July 2006. It was received with wide acclaim by professionals and fans alike and has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category “Best Contemporary World Music Album”. The panel of experts from the World Music Chart Europe (WMCE), a chart voted by the leading World Music specialists around Europe, chose Savane as their Album of the Year 2006, with the album topping the chart for three consecutive months (September to November 2006). The album has also been listed as No. 1 in the influential Metacritic’s “Best Albums of 2006” poll, and No. 5 in its all-time best reviewed albums. Ali Farka Touré has also recently been nominated for the BBC Radio 3 awards 2007.

On March 7, 2006, the Ministry of Culture of Mali announced his death at age 66 in Bamako from bone cancer, which he had been battling for some time. His record label, World Circuit, said that he recorded several tracks with his son, Vieux Farka Touré, for Vieux’s debut album which was released in late 2006.

He was one of the African continent’s most internationally renowned musicians and he was ranked number 76 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. His music is widely regarded as representing a point of intersection of traditional Malian music and its North American cousin, the blues. The belief that the latter is historically derived from the former is reflected in Martin Scorsese’s often quoted characterization of Touré’s tradition as constituting “the DNA of the blues”. Touré was ranked number 76 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. He sang in several African languages, mostly Songhay, Fulfulde, Tamasheq or Bambara as on his breakthrough 1988 album, Ali Farka Touré, which established his reputation in the world music community.

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Chris WhitleyNovember 20, 2005 – Christopher Becker Whitley was born Aug. 31, 1960, in Houston, to a restless, artistic couple: His mother was a sculptress and painter; his father worked as an art director in a series of advertising jobs. As a family, they traveled through the Southwest, with many of the images the young boy absorbed finding their way later into songs. He once described his parents’ music taste as formed “by race radio in the South.” The real deal — Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf — seeped into their son’s soul, eventually leading to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

Chris’s parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and he moved with his mother to a small cabin in Vermont. It was there that he learned to play guitar. Hearing Johnny Winter’s “Dallas” was the seed for what would develop as Chris’s keening instrumental style. Inspired by the naked, crying sound of the acoustic dobro in “Dallas,” Chris bought a National steel dobro and taught himself how to play the blues with a bottleneck slide. He quit high school not long after, moving to New York City.

In Manhattan, Chris worked odd jobs and played on street corners in the West Village. Then, the owner of a travel agency who had long loved his playing offered Chris a free ticket to Belgium. During his sojourn there, he scored some minor success by playing dance music in a group called Oh No Rodeo (with Hélène and Alan Gevaert), even covering Prince tunes. The European experience was seminal in many ways, including his developing an abiding taste for Kraftwerk and other Euro-avatars. Belgium is also where his daughter was born.

Back in New York, Chris Whitley was working in a picture-frame factory when a photographer friend invited him along for an outdoor shoot. It was in a park that Chris was introduced to Daniel Lanois, producer of such top acts as U2 and Peter Gabriel. Lanois was a fellow guitarist, and his eclectic tastes mirrored Chris’s own. Lanois helped Chris get his initial deal with Columbia to record his debut in the producer’s New Orleans studio with Malcolm Burn (a Lanois protÈgÈ, who went on to work with Emmylou Harris and the Neville Brothers).

One of the all-time classic debuts, Living With the Law mines romance and regret, beauty and brooding in a vein of archetypal Americana. Cinematically produced, the album features fine detail players from the Lanois circle, but the focus rests firmly on Whitley’s fallen-angel falsetto and his rustic virtuosity on National steel. “I Forget You Every Day” and the title song are aching dust-bowl ballads. “Make the Dirt Stick” whines and moans like a forlorn train whistle through the dark woods. “Big Sky Country” is a yearning plea for wider horizons, borne along by the virtual call-and-response of gospel harmonies.

Regarding his state-of-affairs when writing these initial songs, Chris once said: “The songs on Living With the Law were fatalistic, hopeless. My marriage was breaking up. I was working in a factory in my late 20s. But desperation can be a good impetus for writing songs.” Those songs struck a chord. Rolling Stone magazine praised Chris as “a visionary. . . a bona-fide poet.” Another admirer described Chris’s songs as “haunting, like a Robert Frank photograph.” Director Ridley Scott chose a song from the album, “Kick the Stones,” for the “Thelma and Louise” soundtrack.

A long lull kept Chris from capitalizing completely on the success of his debut. Moreover, the four-year gap between Living With the Law and his sophomore disc sounds more like 40, as he sought to break free of any business-as-usual restrictions. With a psychosexual caterwaul redolent of power trios from Cream to Nirvana, Din of Ecstasy won Chris new hard-rock fans — even as its mix of existential pain and poetic noise put off some listeners more attuned to the bucolic beauties of “Big Sky Country.” The album’s brazen masterstroke was to drag urban blues screaming into the late 20th century, conflating the spirits of Elmore James and Kurt Cobain with such riveting standouts as “Narcotic Prayer.”

Chris’s Sony swansong, Terra Incognita, saw his sound continuing to combust at the crossroads of Hendrixian drama and Delta soul. The album’s ghostly psalm “Cool Wooden Crosses” would become a staple of his solo shows. Chris’s departure from Sony could’ve been a defeat, but it ended up the best sort of medicine, as he stepped up to the indie challenge. The little New York label Messenger ended up selling more copies of his next album, 1998’s Dirt Floor, than Sony had of Terra Incognita.

The folk-blues songs of Dirt Floor were recorded in a single day at his father’s Vermont barn-cum-bike shop with producer Craig Street (known for his work with Cassandra Wilson, for whom Whitley provided studio guitar). Such sepia-toned songs as the title lament and “Scrapyard Lullaby” were powered by just the time-honored tools of voice, guitar, banjo and rhythmic boot. Recorded the next year in Chicago, Live at Martyrs’ documents a great night of solo Whitley, including his sharp-edged cover of Kraftwerk’s “The Model.”

Around the same period, Chris also covered “I Can’t Stand Myself” for a James Brown tribute disc, setting off sparks against a beat-box. But he painted a fully evocative picture of his influences with the 2000 all-covers set Perfect Day. Teamed with the earthy, empathetic rhythm duo from groove-jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood, Chris not only beautifully reanimated songs by Muddy Waters (“She’s Alright”), Robert Johnson (“Stones in My Pathway”) and Bob Dylan (“Fourth Time Around”); he also cut to the poetic heart of the Doors’ “Crystal Ship” and Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” in a way that rivals the originals.

Rocket House, a 2001 release on ATO, was perhaps the most ambitious of Chris’s career. Tony Mangurian’s production opened new sonic vistas, from the buzzing electro-rock of the opener “To Joy (Revolution of the Innocents)” to the aching dreamscape of the closing “Something Shines.” A Sony Legacy compilation, Long Way Around: An Anthology 1991-2001, not only traces Chris’s Columbia years; it includes the lyrical Rocket House single “Say Goodbye” and highlights from Dirt Floor, as well as previously unreleased demos and alternative mixes.

In recent years, Chris had found romance and inspiration in Dresden, Germany. These days yielded some of his best work, with the albums Hotel Vast Horizon and War Crime Blues, as well as Weed (a set of solo remakes of early songs) and his only film score (for the German film Pigs Will Fly). In particular, War Crime Blues is a solo electric masterpiece of sympathy and antipathy by turns; such emotionally acute song suites are notably few and far between in the post-Iraq invasion era. The heartbroken title track, the raging desert storm of “God Left Town” and the Clash cover “The Call Up” serve as both salt and salve for collective wounds.

Chris recorded Soft Dangerous Shores last year with a supple German rhythm duo, bassist Heiko Schramm and drummer Matthias Macht. The album mixed deep-blues feel and rich jazz harmonies with erotic rhythm beds and electronic ambience. The idiom was the “universal blues,” where the spirits of Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and Kraftwerk bond. “The blues sound different in different places,” Chris said just prior to the disc’s release. “But on a lonely, rainy night — whether you’re in New Orleans or New York or Dresden — they feel the same.”

Like most bluesmen of any era, Chris had his share of hellhounds on his trail. He chased a lot of them down in song and on stage; other times, demons got the best of him. But whether up or down in his career, Chris’s sweet, generous nature and pure sensibility earned him lifelong friends and, as he put it, “guardian angels.”

Although fully aware of his capabilities as a musician, Chris was a humble man, always cognizant of the standards set by his peers and predecessors. To sit with him backstage at a club or at a street-side café in the West Village, it was soon apparent that he considered each admirer and well-wisher who came up, known or new, something of a gift.

Chris recorded an a cappella rendition of the pop/jazz standard “Nature Boy” as the haunted close to War Crime Blues. The words may not be his, but his voice reveals wisdom hard-won over his time here: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn/Is just to love and be loved in return.”

A man of rare poetic honesty, Chris maintained a resolute musical integrity throughout his career. His 12 albums, ranging from raw-boned folk-rock to lush electro-blues, had the thread of intense emotion and constant invention running through them.

He sadly died from lung cancer in Houston where he was born on Nov 20, 2005 at age 45.

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Link WaryNovember 5, 2005 – Frederick Lincoln ‘Link’ Wray was born in Dunn, North Carolina on May 2nd, 1929. Link’s family was very poor.  As Link has said, “Elvis came from welfare, I came from below welfare.”  Link’s mom was Shawnee Indian and his interest in music began when Link was 8.  He was sitting in the porch trying to play guitar when an old black guitar player named HAMBONE walked by and taught him the sound of the blues.  Link has said when HAMBONE started playing bottleneck slide guitar, he was hooked.  He knew what he wanted to do.  At age 13, Link’s family moved to Portsmouth Virginia.

Link’s first band was in the late 40’s with his brothers Vernon and Doug, playing Western Swing. As Link put it, “rock and roll before it was rock and roll.”  Vernon (“Lucky”) Wray was the lead singer.  This band also included Wray’s good friend (and later Ray Man) Brantley “Shorty” Horton, as well as Dixie Neal (some articles spell his name Neale).  The band became popular in town, backing many Country and Western artists of the day who came through town playing the various fairs and daily AM radio shows. The band was known by Lucky Wray and the Lazy Pine Wranglers, and later – Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands. Band names seemed to change according to the venues they played.

Link’s music career was interrupted when he was called up to serve two years in the US Army during the Korean War. During this time, he contracted tuberculosis, which was not discovered until a couple years later. This illness cost him a lung.  Link has often said at this time he was in the “death house” and if it were not for his Guardian Angel, he would have been dead.

In 1955, the Wray’s moved to the Washington DC.  Longtime country and western artists, they fast became influenced with the Big Beat. Link, hampered a bit in singing by his one lung, became the anchor of the band through his heavy guitar work.  With Doug’s heavy drumming, they were on to something new.  They were regulars among the DC club circuit, playing such clubs as Strick’s, Ray’s Bar and Grill, Benny’s Rocket Room and the Ozark Club.

Like many DC artists of the day, Link and his brothers were taken under the wing of Milt Grant, DC’s version of Dick Clark.  Milt hosted the weekly “MILT GRANT SHOW”, a record hop shown on WTTG, Channel 5 in DC. Around this time, Vernon had a singing career of his own under the stage name Ray Vernon. He also began a recording studio in DC, and his involvement in performing with the Ray Men took a back seat to production work and artist management.  The band now consisted of Link, his brother Doug on drums, and Shorty Horton on bass.  The Ray Men became the house band on the Milt Grant Show, backing many national rock and roll artists of the day.

It was at a Milt Grant Record Hop in Fredericksburg Virginia when the most famous instrumental in rock and roll was first heard.
The legend goes that the Ray Men were backing up The Diamonds for one of Grant’s Record Hops, at the Fredericksburg Arena, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Link has said, when the band was onstage, Grant asked them to play a stroll.  (“The Stroll” was one of The Diamonds’ hits.)  Link said, “I don’t know no stroll,” but Doug started playing a stroll beat on the drums. According to Link, he said it was then that his “Jesus God” zapped “Rumble” into his head. The crowd went wild and the band played the instrumental four times that night.
How’d The Diamonds do that night?  Didn’t matter.  The kids went crazy over the new song Link and the boys just played.

Link became noted for pioneering a new sound for electric guitars, as heard in this hit ’58 instrumental “Rumble”, which pioneered an overdriven distorted electric guitar sound. He is also credited for having invented the power chord, the major sound of any modern rock guitarist.

Realizing that they were on to something, Vernon had the Ray Men attempt to put the song down on tape.  They originally named it ODDBALL.  But, in the studio, Link just couldn’t get that “dirty sound” he’d gotten onstage when Vernon mic’s the amps. So, he took a pencil and punched holes in his amps’ tweeters. The Fuzztone was born!

Grant took the demo to Archie Bleyer of Cadence Records.  He hated it.
His teenage daughter on the other hand, loved it. Bleyer renamed the song RUMBLE, as his daughter said it reminded her of West Side Story.  It was banned in several cities on the East Coast such as New York and Boston, as it was deemed to “suggestive.”  (pretty amazing for a song with NO words!)  It sold 4 million copies.

Link and the Ray Men recorded many other instrumental hits, including “Rawhide” in 1959 and “Jack the Ripper” (which was released on Link and Vernon’s own RUMBLE RECORDS  in 1961 and then nationally on Swan in 1963).  These recordings led to more appearances on TV with Dick Clark.  Other classics such as Ace of Spades, Run Chicken Run, and others were released, but none were as commercially successful as Rumble.

In the early 60’s Link still played regularly in Washington DC at Vinnie’s, the 1023 Club in Southeast and many others.  He was also touring heavily during this time up and down the East Coast, and playing the Ivy League Colleges.

Link frequented several Southern Maryland roadhouses such as the Wigwam, 301 Restaurant and the Stardust in Waldorf. Slot machines were legal in Southern Maryland at that time (there were more there than in Vegas at the time!), making the Ray Men very much in-demand at these places.  One interesting gig included backing Southern Maryland rockabilly Vince Maloy at a wedding reception at the Brandywine Firehouse in Brandywine, Maryland.

In the mid-