December 30, 2017 – Lord Luther McDaniels, lead singer of vocal group the 4 Deuces, was born in Panola County, Texas in 1938. He never knew his father, who was killed in an accident soon after Luther was born. Mostly raised by his grandmother, he joined the Mitchell Brothers gospel group when he was about 11 or 12. While Luther had no musical training, he still traveled with the group all over East Texas, appearing in many gospel group “battles.” Around the end of World War 2, his mother remarried and moved to Salinas, California, about a hundred miles south of San Francisco (his new stepfather was stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey, only a few miles away). Luther went to California, decided he didn’t like it, went back to Texas, decided California wasn’t that bad, and returned to California to stay, settling in the fertile Salinas Valley south of the Bay Area, a region often referred to as America’s Salad Bowl. Continue reading Lord Luther McDaniels 12/2017
December 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
November 27, 2017 – Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell (the Young Rascals) was born on the 29th of December 1950 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Popwell started his career in the ’60s. He quickly got work in the jazz and R&B worlds.
As a member of the house band The Macon Rhythm Section (with Johnny Sandlin, Pete Carr, Paul Hornsby and Jim Hawkins) for the Capricorn Records Studio in Macon Georgia, from 1968 he recorded with Doris Duke, Hubert Laws, Deryll Inman, The Atlanta Disco Band, Johnny Jenkins, and Livingston Taylor. Continue reading Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell 11/2017
November 24, 2017 – Mitch Margo (The Tokens) was born on May 25, 1947 in New York City. He began singing a cappella at age 9 alongside his brother Phil.
Young Margo learned to play piano in those early days, but over the years established himself as a multi-instrumentalist, also playing guitar, bass, drums and percussion.
Margo was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn when he and his brother joined the Linc-Tones, also featuring Neal Sedaka, Hank Mendress and original member Tokens founder Jay Siegel, who soon renamed themselves the Tokens and recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while Mitch was just 14 years old. Continue reading Mitch Margo 11/2017
November 19, 2017 – Warren “Pete” Moore (the Miracles) was born on November 19, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan. A childhood friend of Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson, the two met at a musical event given by the Detroit Public School system, where Moore spotted Robinson singing as part of the show. The two became friends and formed a singing group, which eventually became the Miracles. Besides his work in the Miracles, Moore helped Miracles member Smokey Robinson write several hit songs, including The Temptations’ “It’s Growing” and “Since I Lost My Baby”, and two of Marvin Gaye’s biggest hits, the Top 10 million sellers, “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “I’ll Be Doggone”. Continue reading Warren “Pete” Moore 11/2017
November 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.
November 16, 2017 – DikMik (Hawkwind) was born Michael Davies in 1943 in Richmond, England.
In 1969, DikMik Davies and friend Nik Turner signed on as roadies for the group that Dave Brock, a childhood friend of theirs, had formed with guitarist Mick Slattery, bassist John Harrison and drummer Terry Ollis.
It was the time of early psychedelics and electronic music and DikMik’s interest in the burgeoning genre of electronic music had led to him being offered a slot in the psychedelic space rock band Hawkwind, before even their first gig of .
Gatecrashing a local talent night at the All Saints Hall, Notting Hill, they were so disorganised as to not even have a name, opting for “Group X” at the last minute, nor any songs, choosing to play an extended 20-minute jam on The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High.” BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel was in the audience and was impressed enough to tell event organizer, Douglas Smith, to keep an eye on them. Continue reading DikMik 11/2017
November 12, 2017 – Chad Hanks (American Head Charge) was born in 1971 in Los Angeles, California.
With vocalist friend Cameron Heacock he formed American Head Charge in 1997 after they met in 1995 in rehab in Minneapolis and emerged as major players from the late ’90s nu-metal boom. The success of their 1999 indie debut, Trepanation, caught the ear of mega-producer Rick Rubin (Metallica, Beastie Boys, Chili Peppers), who signed the band to his American Recordings label and got the group out to his allegedly haunted Los Angeles mansion to record 2001’s “The War of Art.” Metal magazines Kerang and Rough Edge each gave the album four-star reviews (out of five), and VH1 picked it as one of the “12 Most Underrated Albums of Nü Metal.” Continue reading Chad Hanks 11/2017
November 9, 2017 – Fred Cole was born August 28, 1948 in Tacoma, Washington and he moved with his mother to Las Vegas where he attended high school. Here he began his recording career in 1964, with his band, the Lords, at the Teenbeat Club, releasing a single titled “Ain’t Got No Self-Respect. “His next single, from 1965, was a promo-only called “Poverty Shack” b/w “Rover,” with a band named Deep Soul Cole.
In 1966 Cole’s band The Weeds gained notice in garage rock circles, and their only single, a 60s punk track called It’s Your Time (b/w Little Girl, Teenbeat Club Records), has become a collectors’ favorite. The A-side appeared on one of the Nuggets anthologies. The band was promised an opening slot on a Yardbirds bill at the Fillmore in San Francisco, but on their arrival found that the venue hadn’t heard of them. Continue reading Fred Cole 11/2017
November 9, 2017 – Hans Vermeulen (Sandy Coast) was born on September 18, 1947 in Voorburg, the Hague in the Netherlands. He grew up in what was to become the birthplace of Nederpop, which produced bands like Golden earring (Radar Love) and Shocking Blue (Venus), Q 65, Rob Hoeke and many others.
He scored hits like I See Your Face Again , Capital Punishment and my favorite True Love That’s a Wonder with his first group Sandy Coast which he had formed in 1961.
When the first run of late sixties rock and roll ran dry, Sandy Coast disbanded in the early seventies, and did not reform until 1981, with a big comeback hit. In 1975 Vermeulen founded Rainbow Train, a open door clearing house formation for musicians, in which he sang with his then-wife Dianne Marchal . In those years he made impact as a much in demand EMI producer for popular Dutch singers like Margriet Eshuijs (Lucifer) and Anita Meyer. For Meyer he wrote in 1976 the number 1 hit The Alternative Way, on which he also sang and for Eshuijs he produced the still today hugely popular “House for Sale” hit.Continue reading Hans Vermeulen – 11/2017
November 7, 2017 – Paul Buckmaster born on June 13, 1946 in London England.
At age four, Buckmaster started attending a small private school in London called the London Violoncello School, and continued studying cello under several private teachers until he was ten. In 1957, his mother, a concert pianist took him and his two siblings to Naples, where he auditioned with cello professor Willy La Volpe, to be assessed as eligible for a scholarship. After Paul’s attending classes over a two-month period, La Volpe determined that Paul was eligible for an Italian State scholarship, and for the next four years, he studied there eight months per year. This was a radically formative period, in which he deepened his love for the music of J. S. Bach, studying the unaccompanied cellos suites. It was during this period in Italy that Paul discovered his love for jazz. He then won a scholarship to study the cello at the Royal Academy of Music, from which he graduated with a performance diploma in 1967.Continue reading Paul Buckmaster 11/2017
November 7, 2017 – Pentti “Whitey” Glan was born on July 8, 1946 in Finland , just after World War II had come to an end and tensions with Russia were high. The family moved to Toronto Canada soon after.
Whitey Glan’s first serious band was the Canadian soul band The Rogues (later called Mandala) which he formed with keyboardist Josef Chirowski and bassist Don Elliot; they had worked together in other teenage bands like Whitey & The Roulettes. Mandala had their first hit single with “Opportunity” with original singer George Oliver, recorded at Chess Records.
In 1966 Glan played several shows with Mandala in Ontario and recorded the first two demo songs of his career (“I Can’t Hold Out No Longer” and “I’ll Make It Up To You”). Roy Kenner had replaced George Oliver. When they played their first shows in the USA they performed at the Whiskey A Go Go. They recorded their only album Soul Crusade in 1968 which produced a hit single (“Loveitis”) but they disbanded in 1969 after several line-up changes and poor album sales. Continue reading Whitey Glan 11/2017
October 24, 20017 – Antoine Dominique Fats Domino was born on February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the youngest of eight in a Louisiana Creole family. At age 9, he started to learn piano, taught by his brother-in-law, jazz guitarist Harrison Verrett. By age 14, Domino was performing in New Orleans bars. Continue reading Fats Domino 10/2017
October 23, 2017 – George Young (with his bandmate and songwriting partner Harry Vanda-right in the picture) – Easybeats was born on November 6, 1946 in Glasgow Schotland. The lower middle class Young family were all musicians, but when the worst winter on record in Schotland arrived in post Christmas into January 1963, the family split as a result of 15 family members taking the opportunity to emigrate to Australia, including almost 16 year old George. Continue reading George Young 10/2017
October 21, 2017 – Martin Eric Ain was born Martin Stricker in the USA from Swiss parents on July 18, 1967. His mother was a Catholic religion teacher. She taught the catechism. Ain figured that most probably, the reason for him joining up with the arch rebel — Satan himself! — was because that was the most powerful force to oppose his mother.
I remember that traumatic experience being in a church, and there was this life-sized cross with this tormented human figure nailed, its limbs twisted and turned. I must have been about 5 or 6. That was really bizarre, having all those people around me being solemn in a way, but then, on the other hand, really getting joyous toward the end of that ritual about this person dying. And then going to the front of the church and coming back having devoured part of the body of that person. As a child, you take something like that quite literally, you know? And it was never really explained to me in a way that seemed really logical. I had nightmares. For me, religion didn’t have a redemptive quality. It didn’t help me to have a more positive outlook on life. It was a negative, oppressive kind of thing. Christ was a symbol of utter failure and absolute totalitarian control.
October 8, 2017 – Grady Tate was born on January 14, 1932 in Hayti, Durham, North Carolina. In 1963 he moved to New York City, where he became the drummer in Quincy Jones’s band.
Grady Tate’s drumming helped to define a particular hard bop, soul jazz and organ trio sound during the mid-1960s and beyond. His slick, layered and intense sound is instantly recognizable for its understated style in which he integrates his trademark subtle nuances with sharp, crisp “on top of the beat” timing (in comparison to playing slightly before, or slightly after the beat). The Grady Tate sound can be heard prominently on many of the classic Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery albums recorded on the Verve label in the 1960s. Continue reading Grady Tate 10/2017
October 4, 2017 – Alvin DeGuzman (The Icarus Line) was born in Manila in the Philippines on December 3, 1978.
When he was 4 years old the family moved to the US.He attended Holy Family School in South Pasadena and graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1997. He also attended Cal Poly Pomona.
Alvin was a talented musician and passionate artist. While in High School he became a founding member of the indie punk rock band The Icarus Line, where he played the guitar both left and right handed, and also played bass and keys. The Icarus Line was the successor to high school friend Joe Cardamone’s first musical effort named “Kanker Sores”. Continue reading Alvin DeGuzman 10/2017
October 2, 2017 – Tom Petty was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville Florida. Growing up in the town that houses the University of Florida, music became the young Petty’s refuge from a domineering, abusive father who despised Tom’s sensitivity and creative tendencies—but would later glom on to his son’s rock-star fame for status. Continue reading Tom Petty 10/2017
September 23, 2017 – Charles Bradley was born on November 5, 1948 in Gainesville, Florida Bradley was raised by his maternal grandmother in Gainesville, Florida until the age of eight when his mother, who had abandoned him at eight months of age, took him to live with her in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1962, his sister took him to the Apollo Theater to see James Brown perform. Bradley was so inspired by the performance that he began to practice mimicking Brown’s style of singing and stage mannerisms at home. Continue reading Charles Bradley 9/2017
September 18, 2017 – Mark Selby was born in September 2, 1961. Born and raised in Enid, Oklahoma, Selby spent his youth harvesting wheat and playing in bands throughout the Midwest before moving to Hays, Kansas to attend Fort Hays University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music.
He was musically gifted in three ways: as a songwriter, a singer with a soulful voice and a guitarist with some impressive chops. His future as a blues rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer started in Germany, where he signed as a solo artist to ZYX Records. Continue reading Mark Selby 9/2017
September 17, 2017 – Laudir de Oliveira was born January 6, 1940 in Rio de Janeiro. de Oliveira started out as a percussionist in Brazil, working with Sergio Mendes and Marcos Valle. He moved to the United States in 1968 and caught the eye of rock musicians and producers. Credited simply as “Laudir”, he also appeared on Joe Cocker’s 1969 debut album, playing on his hit single “Feelin’ Alright”.
In 1973, Chicago invited de Oliveira to play on their album “Chicago VI.” After playing on the albums Chicago VI and Chicago VII as a sideman, de Oliveira officially joined the band in 1975. Continue reading Laudir de Oliveira 9/2017
September 13, 2017 – GrantHart (Hüsker Dü) was born in St. Paul, MN on March 18, 1961 and at the age of 10, he inherited his older brother’s drum set and records, after he was killed by a drunk driver. Hart described his family as a “typical American dysfunctional family. Not very abusive, though. Nothing really to complain about.” He soon began playing in a number of makeshift bands throughout high school. Continue reading Grant Hart 9/2017
August 20, 1931 – Frank Capp was born Francis W. Cappuccio on August 20, 1931 in Worcester, Massachusetts. His uncles worked at Walberg and Auge, a percussion accessory manufacturer. One of them brought a pair of drumsticks home when he was four or five years old. He started banging on the furniture with the sticks, and I ultimately became a drummer. At age 14 he worked in the same music manufacturer shop which got him to the next phase of drumming. And when his dad later bought him his first Slingerland kit, he started a high school dance band and drumming became his life.
At age 19 he was recommended by a mutual friend and began playing with Stan Kenton in California starting in 1951 and remained with Kenton for a couple of years.This auspicious beginning was followed by a career as one of the hardest-working studio players in Los Angeles and as a drummer sought after by some of the world’s biggest singing stars and bandleaders—accomplishments that have almost been eclipsed by his success as a musical contractor. Continue reading Frank Capp 9/2017
September 11, 2017 – Virgil Howe was born on September 23, 1975 in London, England, the second son to Yes founding member/ guitarist Steve Howe. He played on several of his father’s projects: he performed on keys, alongside his brother Dylan Howe on drums, for the Steve Howe solo albums The Grand Scheme of Things (1993) and Spectrum (2005). He was in Steve Howe’s Remedy band, who released an album Elements (2003), toured the UK and then released a live DVD. He wrote and performed on a piece on his father’s 2011 release Time. He also plays drums on 11 tracks of Steve Howe’s Anthology 2: Groups and Collaborations that were largely recorded in the 1980s. Under the name The Verge, Virgil Howe produced the Yes Remixes album, released 2003.
Nexus, due November 2017, is a joint album by Virgil & Steve Howe, due on InsideOut. Father Steve described the album: “Most of the credit goes to Virgil on this; it’s Virgil’s bed and melodies but I’ve come in to add a little bit more.” Continue reading Virgil Howe 9/2017
September 5, 2017 – Holger Czukay was born on March 24, 1938 in the Free City of Danzig (since 1945 Gdańsk, Poland), from which his family was expelled after World War II. Due to the turmoil of the war, Czukay’s primary education was limited. One pivotal early experience, however, was working, when still a teenager, at a radio repair-shop, where he became fond of the aural qualities of radio broadcasts (anticipating his use of shortwave radio broadcasts as musical elements) and became familiar with the rudiments of electrical repair and engineering.
Czukay studied music under Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1963 to 1966 and then worked for a while as a music teacher. Initially Czukay had little interest in rock music, but this changed, when a student played him the Beatles’ 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”, a 1967 psychedelic rock single with an unusual musical structure and blasts of AM radio noise. This opened his ears to music by rock experimentalists such as The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa. Continue reading Holger Czukay 9/2017
September 4, 2017 – Earl Lindo was born Earl Wilberforce “Wire” Lindo on January 7, 1953 in Kingston, Jamaica. His nickname “wire” over time became “Wya”.
While attending Excelsior High School in the late sixties, he played bass and classical piano, before he became interested in the jazz sounds of Lee Dorsey and Jimmy Smith. With Barry Biggs, Mikey “Boo” Richards, and Ernest Wilson he then played in the Astronauts. Continue reading Earl Lindo 9/2017
September 3, 2017 – Dave Hlubek was born on August 28, 1951 in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 5 or 6, Hlubek and his family moved to the naval base in Oahu, Hawaii, where he attended Waikiki Elementary School. From there, Hlubek’s father was transferred and the family moved to Sunnyvale, California, then to Mountain View, and finally settling in San Jose. It was the South Bay that Dave called home during the next few years, before moving back to Jacksonville, Florida, around 1965. There he attended and graduated from Forrest High School.
Hlubek, founded the band Molly Hatchet in 1971. Vocalist Danny Joe Brown joined in 1974, along with Steve Holland, guitarist in 1974. Duane Roland, Banner Thomas and Bruce Crump completed the line up in 1976. Continue reading Dave Hlubek 9/2017
September 3, 2017 – Walter Becker (Steely Dan) was born February 20, 1950 in Queens, New York. Becker was raised by his father and grandmother, after his parents separated when he was a young boy and his mother, who was British, moved back to England. They lived in Queens and as of the age of five in Scarsdale, New York. Becker’s father sold paper-cutting machinery for a company which had offices in Manhattan. Continue reading Walter Becker 9/2017
September 1, 2017 – Mick Softley was born in 1939 in the countryside of Essex, near Epping Forest.
His mother was of Irish origin (from County Cork) and his father had East Anglian tinker roots, going back to a few generations. Softley first took up trombone in school and became interested in traditional jazz. He was later persuaded to become a singer by one of his school teachers, and this led to him listening to Big Bill Broonzy and promptly changed his attitude to music, to the extent of him buying a mail-order guitar and some tutorial books and teaching himself to play.
By 1959, Mick Softley had left his job and home and spent time traveling around Europe on his motorbike, with a friend, Mick Rippingale. He ended up in Paris, where he came into the company of musicians such as Clive Palmer, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Wizz Jones. Here he improved his guitar skills and spent time busking with friends until his return to England in the early 1960s. Continue reading Mick Softley 9/2017
September 1, 2017 – Hedley Jones (the Wailers) was born on November 12, 1917 in near Linstead, Jamaica, the son of David and Hettie Jones, and started making music as a child. He made his own cello at the age of 14, as well as a banjo. In 1935 he moved to Kingston, where he heard Marcus Garvey speak, and worked as a tailor, cabinet maker, bus conductor, repairing sewing machines, radios and gramophones. He said: “I was what people called a jack of all trades. I could fix everything.” His main work was as a proofreader, with the Gleaner and Jamaica Times.
He also played banjo in a Hawaiian jazz band, before forming his own Hedley Jones Sextet. Inspired by the recordings of Charlie Christian, but unable to afford an imported guitar, he built himself a solid-bodied electric guitar, and was featured with it on the front page of The Gleaner in September 1940, at about the same time that Les Paul was doing similar pioneering work in the US. Jones continued to build guitars for other Jamaican musicians in the years that followed. Continue reading Hedley Jones 9/2017
August 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
August 1, 2017– Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf) was born John Raymond Goadsby in Toronto, Canada on May 2, 1945. He was raised by middle class parents in Toronto, Canada. They put him into piano lessons at a young age and with this foundation he became a pioneer in the use of the electronic organ in rock and roll. “I was classically trained,” said Goldy. He also stated that no one else in rock and roll was doing was he was at the time. “I played on a Lowrey,” he said. And this is part of what he said gave songs such as “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” their unique sound. “I was up at 4 a.m. daily to practice from the age of seven until…I got stupid,” Goldy said. While school in general was not his thing, (he was suspended from high school for three months,) he always did exceptionally well in music. “I got 100 in music, which brought my average up to maybe 14,” Goldy said. His parents could not afford private school that could have catered more to the needs of a student like him.Continue reading Goldy McJohn 8/2017
July 20, 2017 – Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) was born on 20 March 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona. The son of a police detective who worked with child sex abuse cases, Bennington had a troubled youth. “Growing up, for me, was very scary and very lonely,” he told Metal Hammer magazine in 2014. “I started getting molested when I was about seven or eight,” he said, describing the abuser as an older friend. “I was getting beaten up and being forced to do things I didn’t want to do. It destroyed my self-confidence. Like most people, I was too afraid to say anything. I didn’t want people to think I was gay or that I was lying. It was a horrible experience,” he told the magazine.
His parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and he went to live with his father, whom he described as “not emotionally very stable then”, adding that “there was no-one I could turn to”. Soon after his parents divorced he began abusing marijuana, alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill people and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. He later revealed the abuser’s identity to his father, but chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.
After years of intense drug use as a teenager, he got sober and moved to Los Angeles, where he successfully auditioned to join Linkin Park.
An early line-up of Linkin Park was formed in 1996 and the band’s 2000 debut album, Hybrid Theory, surfed the popular wave of nu-metal, Rolling Stone magazine writes. The album’s canny mix of pop, hip-hop, and melodic alt-rock drove it to sales of more than 11 million copies early on, making it the top-selling rock record of the ’00s. Given the rapid changes to the music industry in the immediate aftermath of Hybrid Theory, it’s plausible to suggest that no rock record will ever come close to achieving those sorts of sales figures ever again. The album single-handedly initiated Bennington into a small (now rapidly shrinking) fraternity of arena-rock vocalists — Bennington was one of the few guys on the planet with the qualifications to front a big-time rock band.
Hybrid Theory eventually sold more than 30 million albums and became one of the top-selling albums since the start of this millennium.
The angst-ridden vocals of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington helped lead the group to global critical acclaim.
The frontman’s brooding charisma – added to the group’s blend of rap, metal and electronic music – spawned a string of chart-topping hits.
Later in the 2000s, as the band’s success took off, he again began using drugs before returning to sobriety, telling Spin Magazine in 2009: “It’s not cool to be an alcoholic.
“It’s not cool to go drink and be a dumbass.
“It’s cool to be a part of recovery.
“Most of my work has been a reflection of what I’ve been going through in one way or another,” he added.
The band has sold 70 million albums worldwide and won two Grammy Awards.
Linkin Park had a string of hits including Faint, Numb, What I’ve done, In The End and Crawling, and collaborated with rapper Jay-Z.
Their latest music video for the song ‘Talking to Myself’ was released on the same day this father of six took his life. Another coincidence of his day of departure: Sound Garden’s Chris Cornell, who took his own life in May, would have turned 53. Bennington and Cornell were close for many years. The two had toured together and joined each other onstage, and Bennington even performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s private Los Angeles funeral at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on May 26. He was also the Godfather to Cornell’s son Christopher.
Upon hearing the horrible news of Cornell’s death, the night before Linkin Park’s Kimmel tribute, Bennington posted a heart-wrenching open letter to Cornell, writing:
“I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with their song ‘Rocky Raccoon’ playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife’s face. She told me my friend has just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept.
“I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that.
“I just watched a video of you singing ‘A Day In The Life’ by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I’d like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. Send me love to your wife and children, friends, and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.”
With All My Love
In addition to working with Linkin Park, he also sang for the Stone Temple Pilots from 2013-2015 replacing Scott Weiland, for his side project Dead by Sunrise, and Kings of Chaos.
Bennington leaves six children from two marriages and an early relationship as he moves on to another life at 41.
For millennials, who were in their teens when Linkin Park’s blockbuster debut Hybrid Theory was released in 2000, Bennington looms as a defining rock star of the era. A singer capable of both piercing bombast and pained sensitivity, Bennington’s nimble tenor initially played off the rapping of Mike Shinoda, but over time his versatility and soulfulness made him the band’s primary frontman. For kids who found solace in Linkin Park’s music, Bennington was the band member they were most likely to connect with.
July 14, 2017 – David Z (Zablidowski) was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1979.
He formed his first band, Legend, as a freshman at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School and attended Brooklyn College.
“I was in music class at FDR and spotted a few kids with long hair and we formed a band,” David Z said, adding that his older brother Pauli joined the band six months later.
They played at city nightclubs and bars, but the band fell apart shortly after high school. Then, the Z brothers approached drummer Joey Cassata to join their band. Z02 was born. David by that time had already joined the early incarnations of TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) as they started performing their Christmas shows. This exposure opened many doors for him. In 2004, the guys, who where in their early and middle 20s, scraped together money to release their first album, and soon were touring with the likes of Kiss, Stone Temple Pilots, Poison and Alice Cooper on the VH1 Rock the Nation tour. Continue reading David Z(ablidowski) 7/2017
July 6, 2017 – Melvyn “Deacon” Jones was born December 12, 1943 in Richmond Indiana. By the time he was a teenager, Deacon was proficient on trumpet and performed with his brother Harold in the high school band. Harold Jones later became a famed jazz drummer.
After graduating in 1962, Jones was a founding member of Baby Huey and the Babysitters with Johnny Ross and James Ramey. After paying a few dues in the Gary area, Deacon and the band set up shop in Chicago where they played five nights a week for five years, according to USA Today. During that time, Jones managed to further his musical education at the prestigious American Conservatory of Music.Continue reading Melvyn Deacon Jones 7/2017
June 3o, 2017 – Nic Ritter (Warbringer) was born Nicholas Dieter Ritter on April 13, 1981 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
There is very little published about Nic Ritter beyond the little over 2 years that he played drums for Southern California metal trash band “Warbringer” and another short stint in 2008 with the band Prototype.
July 4, 2017 – John Blackwell was born on September 9, 1973 and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, and started playing drums at age 3. He learned from his father, John Blackwell Sr., a drummer himself, who played with Mary Wells, King Curtis, Joe Simon, J.J. Jackson, The Drifters, The Spinners, and others. Blackwell stated that he experienced synesthesia since he was a child, seeing colors for musical notes, and was identified as having perfect pitch while in high school.
As a teenager, Blackwell played in both his high-school jazz and marching bands. He began playing in jazz clubs at age 13. At 17, he landed his first professional gig backing jazz singer and bandleader Billy Eckstine. After high school, he attended Berklee College of Music and worked steadily in local Boston jazz clubs. He left Berklee in 1995 to play with the funk band Cameo, a gig which lasted for three years.Continue reading John Blackwell 7/2017
June 19, 2017 – Noel Neal (James Cotton Band) was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1963. The Neal family from Baton Rouge is known nationwide as a blues family with numerous performers, Kenny probably being the most famous one.
Neal journeyed to Chicago early on where he played with James Cotton for over 30 years, touring and recording for the late Chicago blues star and harmonica virtuoso James Cotton, who also recently passed on March 16 of this year. He also recorded with his late father, Raful Neal, and his brother, Kenny Neal.Continue reading Noel Neal 6/2017
May 21, 2017 – Jimmy LaFave was born July 12, 1955 in Willis Point, Texas where he was also raised. Music was his destiny from very early on, but he started his journey on drums.
Some years later he moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma and played in the school band but at age 15 LaFave switched to guitar and began writing and singing his own songs in a band called The Night Tribe.
After graduating from high school LaFave played music at night while working during the day. He had a job as the manager of a music club called Up Your Alley and during this period recorded the albums Down Under in 1979 and Broken Line in 1981. Continue reading Jimmy LaFave 5/2017
May 17, 2017 – Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) was born Christopher John Boyle on July 20, 1964 in Seattle, Washington, where he was also raised. He was the fourth of six children. His father, Ed, was a pharmacist; his mother, Karen, was an accountant. Cornell was a loner; he tried to deal with his anxiety around other people through rock music but during his early teenage years, he spiraled into severe depression and almost never left the house. His first favorite band were the Beatles. A noteworthy rumor later was that Cornell spent a two-year period between the ages of nine and eleven solidly listening to the Beatles after finding a large collection of Beatles records abandoned in the basement of a neighbor’s house. Continue reading Chris Cornell 5/2017
May 13, 2017 – Jimmy Copley was born in London on December 29, 1953.
Jimmy started playing drums at the age of 5 years old, accompanying his Mother’s (Nina) Jazz piano at parties. Jimmy turned professional joining the band ‘Spreadeagle’ who had just signed to Charisma Records and performed live, opening for various headlining acts such as ‘Genesis’, ‘Lindisfarne’ and ‘Audience’. Jim recorded the Spreadeagle album ‘The Piece of Paper, produced by Kinks and Who producer: Shel Talmy. Continue reading Jimmy Copley 5/2017
May 11, 2017 – Corki Casey O’Dell was born Vivian J. Ray Casey on May 13, 1936 in Phoenix, Arizona where she grew up as teenage guitarists with the likes of Lee Hazlewood, Sanford Clark and Duane Eddy.
In 1956, she joined then-husband, guitarist Al Casey, playing rhythm guitar on Sanford Clark’s country, pop and R&B hit “The Fool,” which would later be recorded by Elvis Presley, among others. The tune was penned by songwriter-producer Lee Hazelwood, who would use O’Dell on several of the sessions he produced. Continue reading Corki Casey O’Dell 5/2017
9 May 2017 – Robert Miles was born Roberto Concina on 3 November 1969 in Fleurier Switzerland to an Italian military family stationed there. He did not return to Italian soil until the age of ten, settling in the town of Fagagna. Raised primarily on the classic American soul sound of the 1970s, Miles began studying piano as a teen, and at 13 began DJ’ing local house parties. By the late ’80s he was regularly spinning hardcore trance sets at Venice area clubs under the name Robert Milani, eventually adopting the name Miles as symbolic of the musical journey awaiting him. In time, he assembled a basic studio system comprising a sampler, mixer, keyboard, and 32-track digital board, accepting production work with the Italian label Metromaxx. In 1990, he used his savings to establish his own recording studio and a pirate radio station. Continue reading Robert Miles 5/2017
May 5, 2017 – Clive Brooks was born on December 28, 1949 in Bow, East London where he was also raised.
Answering a Melody Maker ad in early 1968, Brooks joined Uriel, a blues-rock group in the style of Hendrix / Cream / blues / psychedelic group original formed by three City of London School pupils Dave Stewart (keyboards), Mont Campbell (bass and lead vocals) and Steve Hillage (guitar and vocals). The band re-grouped later under the name Arzachel and released one album in 1969, after they had already changed musical direction.Continue reading Clive Brooks 5/2017
May 3, 2017 – Casey Jones (Albert Collins/Johnny Winter) was born July 26, 1939 in Nitta Yuma, Mississippi and raised in Greenville. As a kid he played with the Coleman High School band, but claimed he learned more about drumming from Little Milton’s drummer Lonnie Haynes, than from the band director
In 1956 at age 17, his sister Atlean and her husband Otis Luke enticed him with the promise of a drum kit and entry into the musician’s union, if he would move to Chicago to live with them. True to his word, they went to Frank’s Drum Shop on Wabash Ave and from there on Casey Jones played drums in Otis’s band. His first gig with Otis Luke & the Rhythm Bombers in 1956 made him $5.Continue reading Casey Jones 5/2017
April 23, 2017 – Kerry Turman (long time bass player for the Temptations) was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 28, 1957.
Kerry left Detroit, Michigan at the age of 19 to pursue his passion in music and further develop his “chops” in Los Angeles, California. He cut his teeth as part of the killer band that Roy Ayers (King of Neo Soul) put together in the late 1970s.
In the 1970s and 80s he traveled the world playing the bass for many artists, including, Roy Ayers, Evelyn “Champagne” King and legendary drummer Gene Dunlap. Continue reading Kerry Turman 4/2017
April 25, 2017 – Calep Emphrey (played blues with all 3 Kings) was born on May 1, 1949 in Greenville, Mississippi. He started out playing a whole range of wind instruments such as French horn, saxophone, baritone horn and a lot of other brass instruments in the Coleman High School band while growing up. The high school band director Wynchester Davis had a band called the Green Tops, which went all around the state. He went on to play in a concert band in college at Mississippi Valley State, where he was a music major in 1967-1968.
Professionally, he started off with Little Milton about ’69 in Greenville. (Milton was from the Greenville area and Emphrey used to hang around him a lot.) Milton needed somebody to fill the drummer position and he called Calep, who admitted, “I couldn’t make no money with the French horn.” Continue reading Calep Emphrey 4/2017
April 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
April 12, 2017 – Barry “Frosty” Smith (Soulhat/Sweathog) was born Barry Eugene Smith on March 20, 1946 in Bellingham, Washington.
Smith was raised in the California Bay Area, where he proved a tap dancing prodigy. He was a professional tap dancer from age 3 to 12. Obviously rhythm was part of him. He received schooling in classical piano before taking to the drum kit, due to their natural feel. After playing in dive clubs and strip bars in the San Francisco – San José area, he moved to Los Angeles in the early 70s where he got his first big break, as drummer for organist Lee Michaels with whom he toured nationally and internationally. Continue reading Barry “Frosty” Smith 4/2017
April 11, 2017 – Toby Smith (Jamiroquai) was born Toby Grafftey-Smith on October 29, 1970.
Growing up he received classical training on piano and early on developed a keen interest in the “nerdy” side of music. At age 14 he started recording his own tunes on a Tascam and produced his first record at 17, then signed his track “Kleptomaniacs” to London Records. At about the same time his sister took him clubbing in London and he developed an interest in house (dance) music. Continue reading Toby Smith 4/2017
April 10, 2017 – Banner Thomas – bass for Molly Hatchet, was born on September 6, 1954 in Savannah, Georgia.
About his musical ambitions during childhood he said: “There was always some kind of music to listen to in my house when I was a child. Unfortunately, it was all either on the radio or on records. There were no musicians in my family. I still got exposed to a lot of good music, from Nat King Cole and Al Hirt through Elvis and Johnny Horton to Tennessee Ernie Ford. Then the Beatles came along. By the time the sixties were halfway over, I had a guitar and was learning songs by the Monkees and Donovan, the Beatles and the Stones. Then I discovered Hendrix and Cream, and by the time Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath came out, I was hopelessly addicted. By the time I graduated high school, I had already been in a few bands. I was a music major at college for about a year or so, then I dropped out and joined an early version of Molly Hatchet. Who knows where I would be now if I had finished school? Probably not talking to you now.”Continue reading Banner Thomas 4/2017
April 9, 2017 – Alan Henderson (bass for Them) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on November 26, 1944. He caught the music bug during his teenage years and set his sights on becoming a professional musician.
In 1962, he was recruited into the Gamblers, a Belfast-based band founded by guitarist Billy Harrison. With Ronnie Millings as their drummer and pianist Eric Wrixon coming aboard a little later, the group specialized in hard American-style rock & roll and R&B, with a repertory that included both Elvis Presley and Little Willie John. It was sometime after Wrixon joined that he and Harrison crossed paths with songwriter/singer/sax-player Van Morrison, and not long after that – depending on whose story carries more logic – either Morrison joined the Gamblers or they agreed to become his backing band. Continue reading Alan Henderson 4/2017
April 8, 2017 – Keni Richards was born in 1956 in Des Moines, Iowa but spent his high school years Village Park California. As a youth he learned to play the piano and picked up the drums.
Keni Richards on how it all started:
I was working with A&M for a band called The TUBES at the time and had played with Steve Plunkett (Autograph singer) in a band around 1980 called John Doe. We had not been a part of that whole Gazarris, Whisky club thing going on with all the metal bands. We did however, have a gig working on a demo at Record Plant with Andy Johns (Led Zeppelin) and we were really invested in that. I had gotten an invitation from my good friend then and jogging buddy David Lee Roth to go out on the road with him in 1984…..to just go out and party basically and I explained to him that I couldn’t and I had this gig doing a demo and that was it. The next day I go down to The Troubadour club with Dave and he goes hey I got a surprise for you, Edward’s on the phone for you. So I get on the phone with Eddie Van Halen and he’s like “Hey, we need a T-shirt band” and of course I’m like “Well, what’s a T-shirt band” and Eddie Van Halen’s like “It’s a band that goes out on the road with us and people boo you cuz they don’t like you and they go buy one of our t-shirts” (laughs).Continue reading Keni Richards 4/2017
April 6, 2017 – David Peel, born David Michael Rosario on August 3, 1942 in New York City. After his fulfilling his national duty in the US military, he became a New York City-based street musician and social activist, who first recorded in the late 1960s with Harold Black, Billy Joe White, George Cori and Larry Adam performing as David Peel and The Lower East Side Band. His raw, acoustic “street rock” with lyrics about marijuana and “bad cops” appealed mostly to hippies and the disenfranchised.
Brooklyn-born Peel had been performing in the blossoming counter-culture that awakened in the early 1960s, since forsaking a potential job on Wall Street in favor of becoming a hippie in the mid-60s, soaking up the vibes in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury before taking his stoner street activist ethos to Washington Square Park. (At this point it should be pointed out that, apart from the more dullard factions, punk was essentially propagated by hippies with shorter hair).Continue reading David Peel 4/2017
April 5, 2017 – Paul O’Neill (Trans Siberian Orchestra) was born in Flushing, Queens, New York City on February 23, 1956.
The second born child in a household with ten children he was raised in a home filled with art and literature. “Back then, in the 60s, it was OK to be smart and artistic,” he said. “I loved books. I loved music. I loved Broadway — and I had it right down the street, y’know? It really was a special, magical time.” He learned to play guitar and became a rock fan and began playing guitar with a number of rock bands in high school and quickly graduated to folk guitar gigs at downtown clubs. Continue reading Paul O’Neill 4/2017
April 3, 2017 – Brenda Jones was born on December 7, 1954 in Detroit, Michigan. The daughter of Detroit-based gospel singer Mary Frazier Jones, she was raised in a gospel singing family. The Jones Girls Valorie, Brenda and Shirley spent the better part of the 60s and 70s as sought-after backing vocalists, first regionally and then on a national basis, between Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.
The trio first tried making their own records for the tiny Fortune label in Detroit during the ’60s with no success. They moved to Hot Wax-Invictus, the company formed by Holland-Dozier-Holland, during the latter part of the decade, but sales of those records weren’t much more encouraging.
It was during this period that session work came to dominate their activities — the Jones Girls were in heavy demand to sing on other artists’ singles. Aretha Frankling, Lou Rawls, Betty Everett, Peabo Bryson and dozens of other charting soul acts. In 1973, they were signed to the Curtom Records subsidiary imprint Gemigo, a label that was originally organized as an outlet for Leroy Hutson’s activities as a producer and arranger. Continue reading Brenda Jones 4/2017
April 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
March 22, 2017 – Sib Hashian – John Thomas “Sib” Hashian, (drummer for Boston) was born August 17, 1949, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Hashian was of Armenian/Italian ancestry and grew up in Boston’s North Shores area, where he collaborated with most of his Boston band members in a variety of bands during his teenage years.
“I started playing with Sib back in Lynn English High School, and he’s one of a few drummers I’ve ever worked with,” Boston lead guitarist Barry Goudreau told the Globe in 1980, explaining why he turned to his Boston bandmates while preparing a solo outing. Continue reading Sib Hashian 3/2017
March 16, 2017 – James Cotton was born on July 1, 1935 in Tunica, Mississippi. He was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters who grew up in the cotton fields working beside their mother, Hattie, and their father, Mose. On Sundays Mose was the preacher in the area’s Baptist church. Cotton’s earliest memories include his mother playing chicken and train sounds on her harmonica and for a while he thought those were the only two sounds the little instrument made. His Christmas present one year was a harmonica, it cost 15 cents, and it wasn’t long before he mastered the chicken and the train. King Biscuit Time, a 15-minute radio show, began broadcasting live on KFFA, a station just across the Mississippi River in Helena, Arkansas. The star of the show was the harmonica legend, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller). The young Cotton pressed his little ear to the old radio speaker. He recognized the harmonica sound AND discovered something – the harp did more! Continue reading James Cotton 3/2017
March 4, 2017 – Valerie Carter was born on February 5, 1953 in Winterhaven, near Orlando, Florida.
Being an “army brat” she moved between many cities in her young years. Her first break in music came while living with her family in Tucson, where she joined a band fronted by Gretchen Ronstadt, sister of Linda Ronstadt.
Next she was off to New York City where she formed the folk band Howdy Moon. They headed to California, released a self-titled album in 1974 and regularly played at the West Hollywood rock club, the Troubadour.
In the early 1970s in Los Angeles, she became known as a songwriter, penning tunes such as Cook With Honey for Judy Collins and Love Needs a Heart for Jackson Browne, who was introduced to her by Lowell George of Little Feat fame.
March 12, 2017 – Joey Alves (Y&T guitarist) was born Joseph Lenny Alves on August 3, 1953 in Oakland California. He grew up just south of Oakland in the small town of San Lorenzo. He was a 1971 graduate of Arroyo High School, after which time he learned to play guitar and played in just one local band before joining up with Yesterday & Today in 1974.
The Oakland area band Y&T (abbreviation for the Beatles album Yesterday and Today, found its roots in a unnamed cover band that started out in 1972. After a couple of rhythm and bass changes in the early years, the band found footing after Joey Alves joined and the band began to write their own songs. The initial powerhouse quartet—featuring Dave Meniketti (lead guitar/lead vocals), Phil Kennemore (bass), Leonard Haze (drums), and Joey Alves (rhythm guitar)—tore through the ’70s and ’80s with their own brand of hard rock. After two ’70s albums on London Records, they shortened their name to Y&T and released eight albums on A&M in the ’80s. Continue reading Joey Alves 3/2017
March 4, 2017 – Tommy Page was born on May 24, 1970 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He began playing the piano at age eight and learned keyboards at age 12, joining his brother in a band. Obviously gifted, he graduated from Highschool at age 15 and found himself in New York attending the Stern School of business at age 16.
To help support himself during his freshman year at Stern (then 16), Page worked as a cloakroom attendant in a popular New York nightclub called Nell’s. The job gave Page a chance to play his demo tape to the house DJ, who then used the demos as part of his club mixes. The unknown sounds were so impressive that soon Page was introduced to Sire Records founder Seymour Stein. Continue reading Tommy Page 3/2017
March 3, 2017 – Lyle Ritz – bassist for The Wrecking Crew and Father of the Jazz Ukulele, was born on January 10, 1930 in Cleveland, Ohio
He studied violin and tuba as a child and while attending college in California, he found a job at the Southern California Music Company in Los Angeles. Working in the “Small Goods Department” meant, he demonstrated and took care of harmonicas, accessories, and the instrument that was to become his love, the ukulele. He was often called upon to demonstrate the ukulele for potential customers as the instrument at the time was experiencing popularity due to its use by radio personality Arthur Godfrey. Ritz discovered that he enjoyed the uke and took it upon himself to learn how to play it properly, not just as a novelty instrument, its usual fate then and now.He purchased a Gibson tenor ukulele for his own use and became a master of the four-stringed uke. Even though the ukulele is still often considered a novelty instrument when in its usual Hawaiian surroundings, Lyle Ritz never felt that way. Continue reading Lyle Ritz 3/2017
February 18, 2017 – Clyde Stubblefield (drummer for James Brown)was born on April 18, 1943 and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rhythm was in his soul. He was a natural who took his sense of rhythms from the streets, the neighborhoods, the factories and the railroad tracks. He later said that if he could hear a rhythm in his head, he could play it.
Stubblefield was already playing drums professionally in his teenage years when he moved to Macon, Georgia to play with Otis Redding, who hailed from there. In Macon, he performed with soul acts and was introduced to James Brown by a local club owner. Soon, in 1965, he was invited to become a permanent member of Brown’s band.
Over the next six years the band had two drummers, Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks who had joined the band two weeks earlier. Starks’ style was influenced by the church music he grew up with in Mobile, Alabama. The two drummers had no formal training. According to Stubblefield, “We just played what we wanted to play (…) We just put down what we felt it should be.” Continue reading Clyde Stubblefield 2/2017
February 17, 2017 – Peter Skellern was born in Bury, Lancashire on March 14, 1947.
He played trombone in a school band and served as organist and choirmaster in a local church before attending the Guildhall School of Music, from which he graduated with honors in 1968. Because “I didn’t want to spend the next 50 years playing Chopin,” he joined the vocal harmony band March Hare which, after changing their name to Harlan County, recorded a country-pop album before disbanding in 1971.
Married with two children, Skellern worked as a hotel porter in Shaftesbury, Dorset, before music struck lucky at the end of 1972 with a self-composed U.K. number three hit, “You’re a Lady.” The record featured the Congregation, who had previously recorded the top ten hit “Softly Whispering I Love You”.
“You’re a Lady” reached number three on the UK Singles Chart and number 50 in the United States Billboard Hot 100 and sold several million copies world wide. Continue reading Peter Skellern 2/2017
February 5, 2017 – David Axelrod was born on April 17, 1931 in Los Angeles, California. His father was active in radical labour union politics who died when he was 13 and he was raised in tumultuous LA’s South Central Crenshaw neighborhood, where Axelrod’s future musical direction was influenced by the multicultural environment of the mostly black neighborhood.
At the time Axelrod’s parents moved into the area, it was changing from a working-class white district south of downtown Los Angeles into an area of predominantly African American stores, businesses, and homes. Even today, Crenshaw remains one of the most notable African-American communities in Los Angeles, with a cultural scene that includes museums devoted to black history and an active political life strengthened by some of the city’s most ardent black activists. During Axelrod’s youth, the Crenshaw district included the main thoroughfare of African-American cultural life in Los Angeles: Central Avenue–a street filled with music clubs, barber shops, beauty parlors, and other institutions of the African-American community. The fact that Axelrod was white did not prevent him from absorbing many of these influences.
February 4, 2017 – Steve Lang, (April Wine) was born Stephen Keith Lang in Montreal, Quebec on March 24, 1949. The band that gave him fame as a musician, was formed in late 1969 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The original members, the three brothers Henman with friend vocalist/guitarist Myles Goodwyn soon moved the band to Montreal to gain more exposure. They scored their first hit with “Fast Train” followed by a self-titled debut album. The next year brought the band’s first Canadian number one single, “You Could Have Been a Lady,” which had been a hit in Europe for the band “Hot Chocolate”.
Brothers David and Ritchie Henman left the band they had founded before the next album, Electric Jewels, could be recorded; they were replaced by Jerry Mercer and Gary Moffet. After April Wine Live (1974) and Stand Back (1975), Steve Lang came in to replace Jim Clench, who left to join Bachman-Turner Overdrive and later Loverboy and in turn had replaced the third Henman brother a couple of years earlier.Continue reading Steve Lang 2/2017
January 31, 2017 – Deke Leonard (Man) was born Roger Leonard on 18 December 1944 in Llanelli, South Wales in the UK, the son of Winston, a dog breeder, and his wife, Ella. He attended Llanelli boys’ grammar school, where he formed his first band, Lucifer and the Corncrackers, with his cousin Meic Rees (vocals), Geoff Griffiths (drums) and Clive “Wes” Reynolds (bass), in 1962, taking his stage name from “Deke” Rivers, the character played by Elvis Presley in his 1957 movie Loving You. Leonard left school to work as a management trainee for a building contractor, where he quickly left to avoid getting fired. He decided to become a full-time musician or as he later confessed: “”serving a life sentence in the music business”.
The Corncrackers ran their own club, the “L” Club, featuring themselves and booking other Welsh musicians such as such as Tommy Scott (Tom Jones) and the Senators. He went on to play with other Welsh bands, the Jets, Smokeless Zone and the Dream., whilst also playing support to acts such as Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and The Hollies at a rival venue. When Rees left they continued as a trio; Keith Hodge then replaced Griffiths, but when Reynolds left to join the South Wales band The Jets, The Corncrackers broke up. Continue reading Deke Leonard 1/2017
January 31, 2017 – John Wetton (ASIA) was born on June 12, 1949 in Willington, Derbyshire, and grew up in the coastal city of Bournemouth, Dorset, England.
He first cut his musical teeth on church music at his family’s piano where he often played the bass parts to help his brother rehearse tunes for services….an experience that led to John’s love of the relationship between top line and bass melodies. It stayed a major feature of his music throughout his career. In his teens, John focused those melodies on the bass guitar and honed his skills by playing and singing with local bands. He also discovered a knack for songwriting with an early bandmate, Richard Palmer-James; a relationship that would continue to flourish through five decades.
John’s early work with a variety of bands (Splinter, Mogul Trash and Family) allowed him to show off his impressive bass talents, but did little to showcase his equally impressive singing and songwriting skills. Frustrated, John began to listen a bit closer to the sales pitch of an old friend, Robert Fripp, who set about to reform King Crimson in 1972. Wetton first came to rock fans’ attention when he joined a revamped King Crimson lineup, sticking with the group over a two-year span that included the records Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black and Red. This Crimson core of Wetton, Fripp, and Bill Bruford is often considered the “classic” line-up, releasing three studio albums, that truly stretched the band to its imaginative limits. But after a blistering show in New York’s Central Park in 1974, the band took what was supposed to be a hiatus, but sadly became permanent.
He then served stints with Roxy Music and Uriah Heep before co-founding U.K. with his engine room buddy Bill Bruford, as comments from fans and even the media proved to John that there could still be some life in the Wetton/Bruford rhythm section of King Crimson. A series of phone calls and meetings proved to be all the momentum needed in getting U.K. off the ground.
The line-up of Wetton, Bruford, Eddie Jobson, and guitar phenomenon Allan Holdsworth delivered a potent mix of jazzy fusion and progressive pop that brought great success, but also division in the band. After one album, Bruford and Holdsworth were out, and drummer Terry Bozzio in. This trio delivered one studio album and one live album before a demise similar to King Crimson….a hiatus that turned permanent.
At this point, John decided to turn his attentions to a solo career and entered the studio to record “Caught in the Crossfire,” an album that, in hindsight, shows a logical bridge from the music of U.K. to the eventual music of Asia. While most Wetton fans are now familiar with “Caught in the Crossfire,” not many people heard it in 1980. E.G. Records failed to give it the necessary promotion; a move EG blamed on John’s advancing age. He was 31 at the time…
Feeling it was time to clean house, John parted ways with his old management, publisher, and record company, and joined forces with Brian Lane, who had just ended a successful run with Yes. John had already started working with Atlantic Records’ A&R man John Kalodner, Kalodner was moving to the newly-formed Geffen Records, and wanted to assemble a group that would unleash a new sound across the musical landscape while preserving the finest elements of progressive rock. He found his dream line-up with Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer drummer, Carl Palmer. Together they formed Asia — a so-called progressive rock supergroup, whose self-titled debut album topped the charts in the U.S. on its way to more than eight million in worldwide copy sales and the title of Billboard magazine’s No. 1 album of 1982.
This “fab four” of progressive pop would rule radio and record sales for a scant year and a half before losing Wetton in an unceremonious shake-up just weeks before MTV’s heavily-promoted Asia in Asia concert broadcast. (Wetton was fired from Asia at the insistence of Geffen Records, ostensibly because of less-than-expected sales of the Alpha (1983) album). Wetton was brought back to Asia in 1985, with Mandy Meyer replacing Steve Howe on lead guitar, to complete Astra (1985). The album showcased a few Wetton/Downes classics such as “Rock and Roll Dream” and “Go,” but the die had been cast, and the record company’s confidence translated into lack of promotion; loss of momentum equalled lost sales and a waning interest and Asia ultimately disbanded following 1985’s little-heard Astra LP.
By the end of the ‘80s however, interest in Asia reignited in Europe. John, who had been collaborating with ex-Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, rejoined Carl Palmer, and eventually Geoff Downes, for a series of ASIA concerts that proved successful, but left John empty. To him, Asia was sounding tired and he was ready for a break. Further enticing him was a solo deal with Virgin Records. So, after wrapping up a South American tour in 1991, John temporarily bid adieu to Asia…at least that’s what he thought. (The word Hiatus was not used this time).
With renewed energy, John moved to California to focus on his solo career and began work on his “Voice Mail” album, the first album to really show off his talents for emotional, autobiographical material. Two songs from the album, “Hold Me Now” and “Battle Lines,” have become classics among Wetton fans. In fact, “Battle Lines” eventually replaced “Voice Mail” as the album’s title when British producer Bob Carruthers selected it as the theme for his film “Chasing the Deer.” To promote the album, John embarked on his first solo tour and later released a live CD called “Akustika.”
Returning to the studio in the mid 90s, John contributed tracks to tribute albums featuring the works of Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Genesis. He furthered the link to Genesis by signing on with Steve Hackett for his “Genesis Revisited” project, which culminated in several highly successful live performances in Japan.
Continued autobiographical songwriting led to 1997’s “Arkangel” album, an emotionally gritty album that would add more staples (“Arkangel,” “Emma”) to John’s live solo performances. 2000’s “Sinister” album, also entitled “Welcome to Heaven,” finished the trilogy of solo offerings. He further promoted these albums with extensive tours of Europe, Japan, and South America.
Despite being left off the tour schedule, American fans had plenty to celebrate in 2002 with the first-ever John Wetton Fan Convention in suburban Allentown, PA. Hundreds filled a local venue to spend a weekend with John, his band, and Geoff Downes, who joined John for a gala Saturday night concert which marked the first time the two had shared a stage in more than ten years.
Fans delighted in a resurgence of the Wetton/Downes team when John returned to the studio to begin work on 2003’s “Rock of Faith.” Two new songs written by John and Geoff (“I’ve Come to Take You Home” and “I Lay Down”) created a buzz among fans hoping for an eventual reunion of the original Asia line-up. That buzz roared in 2005 with the release of “iCon,” an album of original music by Wetton and Downes that the duo followed with a number of live shows. Fans cheered the fact that Wetton sounded as good in person, if not better, than he did during the heyday of Asia.
With Wetton at the top of his game once again, imagine what it would sound like if Downes, Howe, and Palmer all joined in! It indeed happened in early 2006, as the four musicians responsible for Billboard’s Number One Album of 1982 sat down in a London hotel and began the groundwork for a worldwide reunion tour. After a media blitz across the US, the tour kicked off in Rochester, NY in August of 2006. Fans quickly snapped up tickets as more and more dates were added.
Several months into the reunion tour, Asia and its fans were stunned to learn that John Wetton needed emergency heart surgery. During his hospital stay in London, worried fans flooded the switchboard with calls about his progress. Thankfully, John made a remarkably quick recovery and, after a few short weeks of resting at home, Asia returned to the road.
“I accept the fact that I might not be here tomorrow, but having said that, having come through it you feel great,” Wetton said after his heart surgery. “It gave me a completely new outlook on life, that it could all end tonight while I’m asleep, so let’s make the most of today. Let’s make the most of now.”
During this same time, John and Geoff released the second of their iCon albums, “Rubicon.” The historical meaning of the title was not lost on the musicians or their fans, as the songs reflected John and Geoff’s personal and professional decisions to sever restrictive ties of the past and forge a positive new outlook. As Asia set out on a much-anticipated second year of touring, fans demanded more. They wanted to hear what would happen if Wetton, Downes, Howe and Palmer sat down in a studio and created a new album. Fans got their wish as the band retreated to the studios at Liscombe Park and got to work on “Phoenix.” The appropriately titled project was an incredibly balanced one, fully showcasing the writing and playing of each band member. John’s thoughtful reflections on his health crisis and his healthy resurgence colored many of the lyrics on the album.
Asia wrapped up months of touring in the spring of 2008 with a series of shows in Eastern Europe, leaving John and Geoff with time to craft their third iCon album. The Phoenix tour resulted in the Live CD/DVD “Spirit of the Night”. A track from that album, An Extraordinary Life, was also selected as the theme to America’s Got Talent.
The band’s success continued with the recording of the second album of their reunion, Omega. The subsequent World Tour resulted in the release of “Resonance” which captured a live performance in Switzerland.
Wetton returned to his solo career in 2011 to record Raised in Captivity, an album of new compositions with Billy Sherwood. A band was formed to tour the UK and Japan, playing music from the new album and a career spanning back catalogue. Wetton’s other ventures during this period included the reunion of UK with Eddie Jobson and guest appearances for Cleopatra Records.
In 2012, ASIA returned to the studio to record XXX, proving that a reunion can last longer than first time around. The album cover shows the ASIA dragon 30 years later and was supported by another World Tour, taking in America, Europe and Japan.
In 2013, Steve Howe announced he was leaving ASIA and Wetton was instrumental in selecting new guitarist, Sam Coulson, to join the band. The band planned to record a new studio album, Valkyrie, which was released as Gravitas in 2014.
In 2016 Wetton went public with his colon cancer diagnosis, which forced him to pull out of Asia’s scheduled tour dates with Journey so he could undergo chemotherapy, which sadly did not turn out to heal him.
John Wetton, the bassist and singer for Asia, as well as a former member of King Crimson and U.K., died on January 31, 2017 at the age of 67, after a battle with colon cancer.
“With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant,” wrote Asia drummer Carl Palmer in a statement. “John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music. As a musician, he was both brave and innovative, with a voice that took the music of Asia to the top of the charts around the world. His ability to triumph over alcohol abuse made him an inspiration to many who have also fought that battle. For those of us who knew him and worked with him, his valiant struggle against cancer was a further inspiration. I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile.
May you ride easy, my old friend.”
“He will be remembered as one of the world’s finest musical talents, and I for one of many was wholly blessed by his influence,” added Downes in a lengthy post. “It was a massive privilege for me to have worked with this genius so closely on our numerous projects together over the years. His bass playing was revolutionary. His voice was from the gods. His compositions — out of this world. His sense of melody and harmony — unreal. He was literally a ‘special one.'”
In the short term, Wetton is scheduled to be replaced for the Journey tour by Yes veteran Billy Sherwood; over the long term, Downes has signaled a determination to continue Asia in honor of his longtime partner. “It is the end of an era for all of us,” he wrote. “But we will soldier on — the music of John Wetton needs to be heard loud and clear from the rooftops.”
AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AN INTERACTIVE CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE & MUSIC OF JOHN WETTON JUNE 17, 2017 AT THE BERGEN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
ASIA and their fans will pay tribute in a special concert to the late singer / songwriter, John Wetton, who spearheaded the legendary British band. The event is called “An Extraordinary Life” and will be a fully interactive celebration whereby fans can contribute to the remembrances of the acclaimed musician. It will be held on Saturday, June 17th at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ.
John Wetton, who was the lead vocalist, bassist and co-writer with the iconic group, lost his brave fight against cancer on 31st January 2017, just as the band was about to embark on a four month tour as special guests of Journey, recreating the days when both bands were world best sellers.
“An Extraordinary Life”, a reference to one of the band’s most popular songs, will pay tribute to John. Special guest Billy Sherwood of YES is filling in as bassist and vocalist. Also appearing will be current ASIA members Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes, and Sam Coulson. The group will do a full set of ASIA music, as well as some of the best loved songs from the members’ previous super-groups, bands such as King Crimson; YES; The Buggles; and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
In addition to the ASIA performance, the evening will be highlighted with rare video clips of John and the band, historical footage and fan remembrances of John and his music. ASIA fans will be encouraged to send in written or video accounts of their love of the music and the man behind much of it. Still photos of fans with John are also welcomed and will be projected onto the screen. Fans who send media to the band in advance will be balloted to share memories on the evening.
January 28, 2017 – Geoff Nicholls was born on 28 February 1948, in Birmingham, England. He started out as a guitarist in his early teens, and his idols included Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Django Reinhardt. He also became proficient on the piano and organ, but never entirely forsook the guitar, and he became a serious admirer of Jimi Hendrix’s playing from 1966 onward.
Geoff Nicholls played lead guitar in several Birmingham bands such as Colin Storm & the Whirlwinds, The Boll Weevils, The Seed, starting in his teens. In 1968, Nicholls was recruited into the short-lived second lineup of the psychedelic pop band the World of Oz, succeeding David Kubinec on keyboards, as well as adding a second guitar to their sound on some songs. Following their split in the spring of 1969, he joined Johnny Neal & the Starliners, a cabaret-type act that was enjoying a good run of success in live performances, and even had a single out (“Put Your Hand in the Hand”) at the time on Parlophone. The group was busy enough, and made numerous television appearances, even winning a competition on the showcase Opportunity Knocks, but their brand of soft pop/rock wasn’t what Geoff had in mind for his career, nor the music he wanted to be playing. Continue reading Geoff Nicholls 1/2017
January 24, 2017 – Björn Ake Thelin (The Spotnicks) was born on June 27, 1942 in the little village of Stöde about 25 miles west from the Swedish town of Sundsvall. He grew up in Frölunda, but lived with his family in northwestern Skåne for many years.
He joined The Spotnicks in 1961. The band had its great time in the 1960s when they became famous for their great instrumental guitar fire works and stage dressing in the form of space suits.
The group toured around the world and was very popular in countries such as West Germany, Japan, France and Mexico.The band sold in excess of 20 million albums. Quite a feat in those early days of rock and roll.
The Spotnicks originated from a duo, “The Rebels” (1956), formed by Bo Starander (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Björn Thelin (bass guitar). They were joined by lead guitarist Bo Winberg and became “Rock-Teddy and the Blue Caps” in 1957 in Gothenburg. He became Gothenburg’s rock king in 1958, like Rock-Teddy, in a competition in Göteborg’s concert hall with the Blue Caps companion group. In 1958 they added Ove Johansson (drums), changed their name to “The Frazers”, and began playing regularly in local clubs. They signed a recording contract in 1961, and changed their name to “The Spotnicks”, a play on the Russian satellite Sputnik as suggested by their manager, Roland Ferneborg. Starander was later known as Bob Lander.
January 24, 2017 – Claude Hudson “Butch” Trucks was born on May 11, 1947 in Jacksonville, Florida.
A drummer, one of Trucks’ first bands was local Jacksonville band The Vikings, who made one 7-inch record in 1964. Another early band was The 31st of February which formed and broke up in 1968. This group’s lineup eventually included both Duane Allman and Gregg Allman. They recorded a cover of “Morning Dew”, by 1960s folk singer Bonnie Dobson.
Trucks then helped form The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, along with Duane Allman (guitar), Gregg Allman (vocals and organ), Dickey Betts (guitar), Berry Oakley (bass), and fellow drummer Jai Johanny Johanson. Together, the two drummers developed a rhythmic drive that would prove crucial to the band’s success. Trucks laid down a powerful conventional beat while the jazz-influenced Johanson added a second laminate of percussion and ad libitum cymbal flourishes, seamlessly melded into one syncopated sound. Continue reading Butch Trucks 1/2017
January 23, 2017 – Bobby Freeman was born on June 13, 1940 in Alameda County and raised in San Francisco.
By his early teens Bobby was not only literally singing on street corners in the city’s Fillmore District but also spending every hour not in school dancing at the Booker T Washington community centre. He got his first taste of the record business as a tenor with a local vocal group led by Alvin Thomas; the Romancers, who made two singles for Dootsie Williams’ Dootone label in 1955. The group cut a further single for the local Bay Tone label (on which Freeman does not appear) before splintering, while Bobby formed another team, the Vocaleers. Having learned piano from Thomas, Freeman also began to write his own material in the mould of Little Richard and Fats Domino.
Itinerant deejay Jim “Specs”Hawthorne caught the group at a football rally at Mission High School in early 1958 and called for an audition at Sound Recorders. The rest of the Vocaleers weren’t interested, and so it was just Freeman and a bongo-playing pal who showed up at Sound Recorders in San Francisco. “Hawthorne asked, do you have any original songs, and I said yeah,” Bobby recounted to me in 2000. “He said OK, when I do this [points], start doing the material. There were some other songs, ‘Follow The Rainbow’, ‘Responsible’, and then we got into ‘Do You Wanna Dance’. Where the break is, the song was over. But Hawthorne wanted to get his money’s worth with whatever he was being charged, so he told me, do some more. That’s why the song starts up again – it wasn’t designed that way. But now, they call that a hook.”Continue reading Bobby Freeman 1/2017
January 23, 2017 – Marvell Thomas was born in Memphis Tennessee on August 22, 1941. The Thomas family is rooted in music and especially Memphis Soul. Legendary rock and roll pioneer Rufus (Walking the Dog) was his dad. His sisters Carla and Vaneese were much noted, especially Carla (the Queen of Memphis Soul) reached superstardom.
The eldest child of Rufus and Lorene Thomas, Marvell was born in 1941 and grew up in the shadow of Beale Street, where his father performed. “You could call it a second home,” Thomas said in 2011. “It was just three blocks from our house. I was a little kid, 5 years old, running up and down Beale Street all the time, much to my parents’ chagrin when they found out. Of course, I was there a lot legitimately too, when my father was hosting the talent show every Thursday night at the Palace Theatre.”Continue reading Marvell Thomas 1/2017
January 22, 2017 – Peter Overend Watts was born in the Yardley neighborhood of Birmingham, England on 13 May, 1947.
Watts began playing the guitar at the age of 13 and by 1965, he had switched to bass guitar and became a professional musician. Watts attended Ross Grammar School in 1963 and met his lifelong friend Dale Griffin aka Buffin and they played in local bands together such as The Anchors, Wild Dogs Hellhounds and The Silence when they met a rival band The Buddies who had Mick Ralphs and Stan Tippins as members and they collectively formed The Doc Thomas Group. Changes to that line-up occurred in 1968 and keyboard player Verden Allen joined and they changed their name to The Shakedown Sound.
In 1969 they all moved to London and came to the attention of record producer Guy Stevens who auditioned Ian Hunter and appointed him as their lead singer instead of Tippins and Mott The Hoople was formed. Watts was instrumental in getting David Bowie to write a song for the band and initially was offered the song “Suffragette City” which he turned down before David wrote especially for the band their now anthem “All The Young Dudes”. Mott The Hoople quickly built up a fearsome reputation as a dynamic live attraction playing gloriously ragged rock’n’roll and much of the group’s raw energy emanated from the bands propulsive engine room: the thunderous rhythm section of Overend and Dale. Visually the band also stood out and it was hard not to notice Watts in his thigh high platform boots, silver hair with a custom made bass guitar in the shape of a swallow!Continue reading Peter Overend Watts 1/2017
January 21, 2017 – Walter “Junie” Morrison was born sometime in 1954 in Dayton, Ohio. The exact date has not been found as if intentionally hidden by his later alter ego J.S. Theracon, showing up on an infrequent basis during his life, mostly when contractual obligations got in the way of making music.
Morrison sang and played piano as a child in church, soon learning a range of other instruments such as guitar , bass, drums and brasses, making gospel a foundation for his music. He soon became a student school choir director and orchestra conductor at Roosevelt High School in Dayton. In 1970, in his mid-teens, after graduating from high school, he joined the funk band the Ohio Players.
He became their lead singer, trumpeter and keyboardist, and soon their musical director and producer, involved in some of their major hits and the albums Pain, Pleasure, and Ecstasy. He was largely responsible for writing and arranging the band’s 1973 hit single, “Funky Worm“. The band members nicknamed him Junie, he told the Red Bull Music Academy, because they were older. “It took quite a while before they let me forget my age and lack of experience in the ‘ways of the world,’ ” he said.Continue reading Junie Morrison 1/2017
January 21, 2017 – Maggie Roche was born on October 26, 1951 in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Together with her sister Terre, she dropped out of Park Ridge High School to tour as a duo in the late sixties. Maggie wrote most of the songs, with Terre contributing to a few. The sisters got a big real break when Paul Simon brought them in as backup singers on his 1973 #2 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. In return they got his support and an appearance by the Oakridge Boys, when they recorded their only album as a duo in 1975 titled Seductive Reasoning.
A year later their youngest sister Suzzy completed the Irish singer/songwriting trio The Roches. Maggie was their main songwriter in the beginning as they became increasingly known for their unusual harmonies, quirky lyrics and comedic stage presence. Continue reading Maggie Roche 1/2017
January 20, 2017 – Ronald ‘Bingo’ Mungo was born April 20, 1940 in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania. Just out of high school he joined the doo wop group The Marcels, named after a popular 1950s hairstyle ‘the Marcel wave’.
The group formed in 1959 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and signed to Colpix Records with lead Cornelius Harp, bass Fred Johnson, Gene Bricker, Ron Mundy, and Richard Knauss.
In 1961, the Marcels recorded a new version of the ballad “Blue Moon” that began with the bass singer saying, “bomp-baba-bomp” and “dip-da-dip”. A demo tape sent to Colpix Records landed them at New York’s RCA Studios in February 1961 to record, among other things, a rockin’ doo-wop version of the Rodgers and Hart classic “Blue Moon” with an intro they had been using on their take of The Cadillacs’ “Zoom.” As legend has it, the day he heard it, New York DJ Murray the K played “Blue Moon” 26 times in a four-hour show. In March 1961, the song knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the Billboard chart, becoming the first No. 1 rock ’n’ roll hit out of Pittsburgh. Continue reading Ronald ‘Bingo’ Mundy 1/2017
January 18, 2017 – Mike Kellie – (Spooky Tooth, the Only Ones) was born on March 24, 1947 in Birmingham, England into a family with no musical background or inclination.. As a child, he showed an early interest in rhythm, practicing on a coal shuttle with hearth brushes to simulate a snare drum. In his teen years, he joined St. Michaels Youth Club band as a drummer. He later played at “The Track” at Tudor Grange Sports Centre in Solihull. On the basis of this work, he was invited by Brian “Monk” Ffinch to play with Wayne and the Beachcombers in Birmingham, which started his career as a professional musician.
In 1966, Kellie played in Birmingham in a band called the Locomotive with Chris Wood of Traffic, and later with the V.I.P.’s (later Art) in Carlisle.
Steve Winwood was ready to leave The Spencer Davis Group and I was in a band in Birmingham called The Locomotive with Chris Wood on tenor sax & flute. Chris, Steve & Jim Capaldi were forming Traffic at that time, around the latter part of 1966. The other band that Chris Blackwell, who managed the Spencer Davis Group, had was the VIP’s from Carlisle. They were a great rhythm and blues band and had come down to make it in London having conquered the North. Their drummer, Walter Johnson, missed his family and went back to Carlisle. Hence, in the office one day Steve suggested someone call me. I had a day job in a wood yard in Olton. I got a phone call from friend Paul Medcalf who said …“Steve wants to know if you’re interested in joining this band…” So I was off, next day, straight from New Street Station, with my drums, to Paddington. Met by VIP’s road manager, the legendary Albert Heaton I was driven to 155, Oxford Street where I met Mike Harrison and Greg Ridley. I met the rest of the band later that evening. The next day I was in Paris playing at Olympia with the VIP’s without any rehearsal!! We were bottom of the bill, Chris Blackwell had done this deal for the band to open a star studded variety fundraiser in aid of UNICEF. It was held at Paris Olympia & was televised worldwide, similar to the way ‘All You Need Is Love’ was done. The VIP’s had a single out in France on Fontana and we were over to promote it, a Joe Tex song called ‘I Wanna Be Free’. So I had no real rehearsal, just the journey over in the van. We did the TV show after I had phoned my mother from a Post Office in Paris earlier that day and said ‘Mum, look in the Radio Times, I think we’re on a TV thing tonight.’ The record became a big hit in France following that show.
Manager Chris Blackwell found a singer and organist from the New York Tymes band named Gary Wright, added him to the line-up of Art and launched the band Spooky Tooth with Kellie, Greg Ridley, Jimmy Henshaw, Keith Emerson, Luther Grosvenor and vocalist extraordinaire Mike Harrison.*
With Blackwell being more focused on his fledgling Island Records, and in spite of the band’s wide acceptance in America and the European mainland, Spooky Toothe declined quickly in the early 70s and Kellie joined French Elvis Johnny Hallyday‘s band for a summer tour of France in 1974, before forming The Only Ones in 1976 with Peter Perrett, Alan Mair and John Perry.
The Only Ones, possibly best known for the single “Another Girl, Another Planet”, recorded three albums for CBS, although over time, their catalogue has contained many compilations and other releases, which now outnumber their studio albums.
In February 1978, Johnny Thunders moved to London with his family, and began playing with a loose revue dubbed the Living Dead. Kellie became part of this floating line-up (that also included Perrett along with various Sex Pistols including Steve Jones and Paul Cook) and recorded Thunders’ So Alone album together with his signature song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”.
Following the Only Ones’ farewell in 1981 at London’s Lyceum, Kellie moved to the countryside north of Toronto, Canada, where he spent four years away from performing. He used this time to learn the piano and write songs.
Returning to Britain in 1985, Kellie spent several years hill farming in North Wales and Scotland where he became a shepherd. In 1999 Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison, Luther Grosvenor and Greg Ridley under the Spooky Tooth moniker. Together they released the Cross Purpose album.
In 2004, Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison and Gary Wright to play dates in Germany as another new incarnation of Spooky Tooth. The band later released the DVD Nomad Poets with live performances from Worpswede and Hamburg, Germany.
In 2007, the Only Ones reformed, touring the UK, Europe and Japan as well as performing on BBC TV’s Later… with Jools Holland.
In 2010, with the Only Ones undergoing another sabbatical, Kellie began recording his own collection of music which become his first solo album. Entitled Music from The Hidden, the album was produced by Kellie who also played drums, organ, bass and acoustic guitars, percussion and sang lead vocals. There are also contributions from Gordon Jackson (acoustic guitar), Finley Barker and Tony Kelsey (guitars), Steve Winwood (organ, mandolin and bass), Bill Hunt, Levi French and Tony Ariss (pianos), Rob Harrison (bass), Steve Gibbons (backing vocals) and Greg Platt Lake (guitar and vocals). The album was released in 2014.
Kellie was prominent among the musicians featured on the six-CD Jess Roden Anthology, presented by Hidden Masters. He contributed to the 2011 sessions for the Distractions re-union album, The End of the Pier, which was released on Occultation Records in 2012.
In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Kellie was besides a member of the rock bands the V.I.P.s, Spooky Tooth and the Only Ones, also a prolific session musician and worked with the Who on the film soundtrack of Tommy, Joe Cocker, Traffic, George Harrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees’s Maurice Gibb, Gary Wright, Johnny Thunders, Luther Grosvenor, Neil Innes, Steve Gibbons, Chris Jagger, Nanette Workman, Sean Tyla, Jim Capaldi, Pat Travers and Andy Fraser.
Mike Kellie died on 18 January 2017 following a short illness at the age of 69.
January 16, 2017 – Steve Wright (Greg Kihn Band) was born in El Cerrito California in 1950.
Wright had played in a band called Traumatic Experience with El Cerrito residents John Cuniberti and Jimmy Thorsen.
After changing their name to Hades Blues Works (later, Hades) they expanded into a quartet with Craig Ferreira in 1970
In 1975 Greg Kihn had already signed to Berserkley Records and had a song included on the album Beserkley Chartbusters before entering the studio to record the debut album with a new band consisting of Wright, Robbie Dunbar and Larry Lynch – the Greg Kihn Band.
January 11, 2017 – Tommy Douglas Allsop (Buddy Holly)was born on November 24, 1931 near Owasso Oklahoma.
His musical career started right after highschool in Claremore, Oklahoma in 1949 with the “Oklahoma Swingbillies.” In 1950 he went to work with fiddle player Art Davis in Miami, Oklahoma; from there to the Cowboy Inn in Wichita, Kansas with singer, fiddle player Jimmy Hall. In 1952 and 1953, he moved back to Tulsa, Oklahoma to join the “Johnnie Lee Wills Band.” From 1953 to 1958, he had his own band, “The Southernaires” in Lawton, Oklahoma with homebase being the Southern Club.
In 1958, Tommy’s career would take a different direction. On a trip to Clovis, New Mexico to record at Norman Petty’s famous studio, he met the late Buddy Holly. In April, he started playing lead guitar with Holly and the Crickets. He continued playing with Buddy until the fatal plane crash that took Buddy’s life, along with the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. It was Allsup who flipped a coin with Ritchie Valens for a seat on the ill-fated plane.
After Holly’s death, Allsup moved to California to join Liberty Records as A & R Director of all Country and Western product to begin producing the great Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. His association with Wills lasted through Wills’ “For The Last Time” LP, recorded on December 2-3, 1973, in Dallas, Texas, where Bob Wills recorded his first records in 1935. Allsup used some of the original Texas Playboys on the last recording (McAulliff, Shamblin, Dacus, Strickland). Bob Wills directed the sessions from his wheel chair.
While at Liberty, Tommy would produce Tex Williams, Willie Nelson, Joe Carson, Warren Smith, Billy Mize, and Cliff Crofford. While there, he worked with great artists such as Walter Brennan, Bobby Vee, Johnny Burnette, Julie London, and Vickie Carr, who sang harmony with Bob Wills on the LP “Bob Wills Sings and Plays.” After leaving California, Allsup moved to Nashville to head up Metromedia Records in 1968. In 1972, he met Ray Benson and Asleep At The Wheel and produced their first LP for United Artist Records. Later he produced 4 LPs for Capitol Records with the group.
Tommy Allsup had been a big supporter of Western Swing music over the years. He had produced 5 LPs with the great Hank Thompson and his Brazos Valley Boys, 2 LPs with the Original Texas Playboys, and 2 LPs with the great Western Swing vocalist Leon Rausch. Tommy produced Swing LPs with Jody Nix, Curley Chalker, Mack Sanders, Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson, Tex Williams, and Billy Mize.
Tommy, who had few regrets, once said: “I never really wanted to be a big star, I figured I’d leave that to someone else.” In 1979, he started a club, “Tommy’s Heads Up Saloon”, in Fort Worth, Texas. The club was named for Allsup’s coin toss with Valens 20 years beforehand.
The last surviving member of Buddy Holly’s “touring” Crickets for the 1959 Winter Dance Party, Tommy Allsup died on January 11, 2017, at 85 years old in a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, after complications from hernia surgery.
January 8, 2017 – Peter Eardley Sarstedt was born on Dec 10, 1941 in Delhi, India where his parents Albert and Coral Sarstedt, worked in the British civil service as India was still a British possession in 1942.
The following year, his parents moved the family to Kurseong near Darjeeling, in the shadow of Mt. Everest, where Albert took over the management of a tea plantation. Peter Sarstedt was one of six children and, like his siblings, was educated at boarding schools favored by the British living in India for much of his childhood. From the time he was five years old, the family relocated to Calcutta, and later — amid the turmoil and uncertainty following independence in 1947 — the family finally moved to England in 1954. Albert Sarstedt had passed away during the extended preparation for the relocation, and it was a truly new existence that they began in South London that year. Continue reading Peter Sarstedt 1/2017
January 6, 2017 – Johnny Dick. (played with numerous Australian rock bands). Johnny Dick was actually born in June 1943 in Wales in the town of Llanfairfechan, but as stated repeatedly, before he grew old enough to be able to pronounce the town’s name, his parents moved to New Zealand.
Drumming since the age of 12 Johnny Dick has played with the cream of Aussie music. In New Zealand Johnny met Max Merritt. He first came to Australia as a member of Max Merritt’s band. Billy Thorpe saw Johnny performing with Merritt and offered him a gig in The Aztecs, which he took and played drums with Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs for almost 2 years.Continue reading Johnny Dick 1/2017
January 6, 2017 – Sylvester Potts (the Contours) was born on January 22, 1938 in Detroit and attended North Eastern High, the same school where Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, and Bobby Rogers were educated at.
His love of music and the excitement he got from performing, made him once say he wanted to die on stage. In the fall of 1960, a Detroit group called The Contours (consisting of Joe Billingslea, Billy Gordon, Billy Hoggs, Leroy Fair and Hubert Johnson) auditioned for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. Gordy turned the act down, prompting the group to pay a visit to the home of group member Hubert Johnson’s cousin, R&B star and Gordy associate Jackie Wilson. Wilson in turn got The Contours a second audition with Gordy, at which they sang the same songs they had at the first audition, the same way they claim, but this time were signed to a seven-year contract.Continue reading Sylvester Potts 1/2017
December 25, 2016 – George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in Finchley, North London, England on June 25, 1963. His father, was a Greek Cypriot restaurateur, who moved to England in the 1950s and his mother, was a dancer. Michael spent the majority of his childhood in Kingsbury, London, in the home his parents bought soon after his birth.
While he was in his early teens, the family moved to Radlett, Hertfordshire where he attended Bushey Meads School in the neighbouring town of Bushey, and where he also befriended his future Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley. Continue reading George Michael 12/2016
December 24, 2016 – Rick Richard John Parfitt (Status Quo) was born in Woking, Surrey on 12 October 1948. His father was an insurance salesman “who was a drinker and a gambler” and his mother worked in cake shops. He described his upbringing as “wonderful”, and has described his childhood self as a “typical naughty boy”.
Parfitt first started to learn to play the guitar at the age of 11. He began playing a guitar when he was 11. In 1963 Parfitt was playing guitar and singing in The Feathers, a pub on Goodge Street in Camden, London, when his father was approached by an agent from Sunshine Holiday Camp on Hayling Island, who gave Parfitt a performing job. At the camp Parfitt joined Jean and Gloria Harrison, performing at the time as the double act The Harrison Twins, to form a cabaret trio called The Highlights.
Following the season, the Harrison Twins’ manager Joe Cohen—who had been one of the Keystone Cops—arranged for The Highlights to perform at Butlins in Minehead. It was at Butlins that Parfitt met future Status Quo partner Francis Rossi, who was playing with Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan in a band called The Spectres (soon to be renamed Traffic Jam) — a forerunner to Status Quo. After Parfitt became friends with the band, their manager Pat Barlow invited him to join the group as they needed another singer and, on leaving school at 15, got a job performing at Sunshine Holiday Camp in Hayling Island, Hampshire, earning £5 a week. Much of his new income went to his father however, who was a committed drinker and gambler.
“He was forever getting in trouble and coming to me crying,” Parfitt later recalled. “I probably ended up giving him a couple of thousand quid in total. Back then, that was a lot of money.”
His partnership with Francis Rossi became the core of Status Quo, one of Britain’s most enduring bands.
Their brand of boogie-woogie rock survived changes in musical fashion and made them one of the best-loved live acts of their generation.
In 1967, Traffic Jam changed their name to The Status Quo (they soon dropped the definite article and later still would often be known simply as ‘Quo’), beginning Parfitt’s almost 50-year career in the band. Early successes came with the Rossi-penned hit “Pictures of Matchstick Men“, which embraced the psychedelic movement of the time and went to number seven in the UK charts.
Their follow up, Black Veils of Melancholy, failed to chart but they did get to number eight with Ice in the Sun, written by Marty Wilde. The single became the group’s only Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100.
But the band became disillusioned with the direction they were taking and abandoned their flowery clothes, embraced denim and T-shirts and settled down to a more traditional style of rock.
Parfitt co-wrote two of the tracks on their breakthrough album, Piledriver, released on the Vertigo label in 1972.
In an interview in 2014, Parfitt said of the record. “You know what? I love every track on that album! I think All The Reasons is just such a beautiful song. I wrote that about my wife at the time.” Piledriver reached number 5 and spent a total of 37 weeks on the UK Albums Chart.
The album became the template for subsequent releases, with Parfitt receiving a number of writing credits.
Whatever You Want, co-written by Parfitt and Andy Bown, became one of the band’s biggest hits and a staple of their increasingly popular live shows.
The band’s more popular songs during the early 70s include “Paper Plane” (1972), “Caroline” (1973), “Down Down” (1975), “Rain” (1976), “Rockin’ All Over the World” (1977) and “Whatever You Want” (1979). “Down Down” topped the UK Singles Chart in January 1975, becoming their only UK number one single. In 1976, they signed a pioneering sponsorship deal with Levi’s.
The 1976 hit “Mystery Song“, co-written with Bob Young, was composed after Rossi had laced Parfitt’s tea with amphetamine sulphate during the sessions for the Blue for You album. Rossi later said: “He was playing the riff when we left the studio, and he was still playing it when we came back the next day!”
By the late seventies the rock musical landscape was changing, from prog to punk, and into the ’80s with the New Romantics. Inside the tent, Status Quo continued to play their 12-bar blues style maintaining an ever loyal fan base.
The band set off on a farewell tour in 1984 but decided to carry on after Bob Geldof persuaded them to open the Live Aid concert the following year. “God, I’m so pleased we did it now. Quo opening Live Aid, it was meant to be.”
Quo continued to be highly successful in Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand throughout the 1980s and 90s, and were the opening act for 1985’s Live Aid, and they continue to be successful in the present day. By February 2015 they had sold over 118 million records worldwide. With his flowing blonde locks, denim gear and Fender Telecaster, Rick Parfitt was one of rock’s most recognizable guitarists. As well as driving the Quo sound on stage, Parfitt penned and co-wrote many of the band’s biggest hits.
They also embraced the hedonistic rock lifestyle with gusto. Parfitt admitted spending £1,000 a week on cocaine and another £500 on vodka. His addictions, coupled with the tragic drowning of their two-year-old daughter, Heidi, led to the breakdown of his first marriage to Marietta Broker.
“It’s not buying the drugs that is the most expensive thing,” he later said. “It’s the divorce which taking drugs eventually leads to.”
He later married Patty Beedon, who had been his childhood sweetheart. The couple divorced and reunited again, before finally going their separate ways. It was an acrimonious separation, with Patty later describing him as “a selfish child who never grew up”.
Parfitt’s experience of paying millions in divorce settlements made him vow never to marry again, but he tied the knot again in 2006 with Lyndsay Whitburn, a fitness instructor.
Other band members came and went over the years but Parfitt remained, with Rossi, the definitive face of Status Quo. While Rossi officially remained the band’s frontman, the musical partners were hard to separate on stage. In contrast to the rows that are part of many rock bands, the two remained good friends throughout the decades. When Status Quo had embarked on what they hinted would be their final tour, Parfitt offered an explanation for the longevity of veteran rock bands. “Why do you think all these bands like the Stones and Deep Purple stay on the road? We’re having fun and I love being up there on stage. Once the lights go down and the crowds roar, something magical happens. All your aches and pains go.”
He added: “It would be weird to just stop because I would have nothing to do.”
He had a throat cancer scare in December 2005. He suffered a second heart attack in December 2011 and underwent surgery on the following day.
In 2010, Parfitt and Ross were awarded the OBE ( Officers of the Order of the British Empire) for services to music, posing together with their gongs after the investiture ceremony.
By this time Parfitt had suffered a number of health problems including undergoing quadruple heart by-pass surgery in 1997. He made a full recovery and was performing with the band within a matter of months.
Doctors warned the musician that he would have to leave behind his rock lifestyle, although he admitted at the time that he still enjoyed “the odd pint”.
In 2013 and 2014, Parfitt and Rossi reunited temporarily with original Quo bandmates Lancaster and Coghlan for a series of reunion concerts on what would be called the “Frantic Four” tour. On 1 August 2014, while on the European tour leg, Parfitt was hospitalized in Pula, Croatia, forcing the cancellation of six shows on the tour. He had suffered another heart attack while on his tour bus after performing a concert in Austria, and had a stent inserted. He later told the Daily Mail he was pleased to have suffered another heart attack as it had forced him to stop smoking and drinking after 50 years.
By 2014 he was living a relaxed life in Spain. “I haven’t smoked a joint for 27 years and I haven’t done any cocaine for 10 years. I just do normal stuff – the kids keep me busy and I go shopping with the missus.”
In April 2015, along with his wife Lyndsay and Julian Hall, Parfitt set up “Status Homes”, a real estate company based in Marbella, Spain.
On June 14, 2016, however, after playing with the band in Antalya, Turkey, he had another heart attack and was hospitalized. His management described his condition as serious. Parfitt was clinically dead for several minutes, resulting in mild cognitive impairments. The band announced that their ongoing tour would continue with Freddie Edwards, son of bassist John “Rhino” Edwards, as a temporary replacement. On 22 June it was announced that Parfitt had been flown home to the UK and was described as “comfortable” in hospital in London, where he was undergoing more tests. He had a defibrillator fitted into his chest.In September it was announced that he would not be well enough to tour in the autumn and he did not intend to tour with the band in future.
Parfitt died on December 24, 2016 in Marbella, Spain from septicaemia, after being admitted the previous day, following complications to a shoulder injury. He was 64.
In 1973, Parfitt married his first wife, Marietta Boeker, and in 1974 they had their first son, Richard, better known as sports car racer and musician Rick Parfitt Jr. The couple also had a daughter, Heidi, who drowned in the family pool at the age of 2.
This tragedy, combined with Parfitt’s cocaine habit, led to the couple divorcing, and Parfitt going on to marry his second wife and former girlfriend, Patty Beedon, in 1988. They had a son, Harry, in 1989. They divorced when Parfitt had an affair with Boeker, before reuniting in 2000.
Parfitt and Beedon split up again when he secretly became engaged to fitness instructor Lyndsay Whitburn, whom he married in 2006. The couple remained married for the remainder of Parfitt’s life, and had twins Tommy and Lily in 2008, although by the time of Parfitt’s death, the couple were apparently separated.
In July of 2017, Whitburn claimed that Parfitt’s death was mostly the result of medical negligence.
December 7, 2016 – Gregory Stuart “Greg” Lake was born on 10 November 1947 in Poole, Dorset near Bournemouth, England. Lake was given his first guitar at the age of 12 and took lessons from a local tutor called Don Strike.
first learned to play guitar at age 12. After 12 months of guitar lessons, Lake ended his tuition as he wished to learn songs by The Shadows but his instructor “wouldn’t have any of it.” After he left school, Lake worked as a draughtsman for a short period of time before he joined The Shame, where he is featured on their single “Don’t Go Away Little Girl”, written by Janis Ian. Lake then became a member of The Gods, which he described as “a very poor training college”.
In the 1960s, Lake formed a close friendship with guitarist Robert Fripp, who was also from Dorset and had shared the same guitar teacher. When Fripp formed King Crimson in 1969, he chose Lake to be the singer and bassist. Lake had been a regular guitarist for 11 years and this change marked Lake’s first time playing the instrument.
“I am both a bass guitarist and guitarist,” Greg explains. “A lot of the really good bass players also play guitar. McCartney and Sting for example both play guitar and I certainly grew up on it. But, because King Crimson didn’t need two guitarists, I took over playing the bass.”
In taking on the instrument, he also pioneered a new way of playing it. “I derived a great deal of enjoyment playing bass partly – I think – because I played it in a different way from most people at the time. The style I developed was a more percussive and more sustained approach, which almost certainly came from all my years on guitar. I was frustrated by the normal dull sound of bass guitars at the time and was searching for a more expressive sound. I discovered the key was to use the wire wound bass strings, which have far more sustain, rather like the low end of a Steinway Grand Piano. I think I was the first bass player to really use them in this way.” However, it was the acoustic guitar that provided the setting for the ballads ELP and Lake became famous for. Lake wrote and sang: “C’est La Vie,” “From the Beginning,” “Still…You Turn Me On,” “Watching Over You,” and “Lucky Man.” One of the most famous Christmas songs ever was penned by Greg Lake. “I Believe in Father Christmas” has been covered by artists ranging from classical to rock, among them Irish rockers U2, actress and singer Sarah Brightman, and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. Greg has performed it with Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson frequently as a fundraiser. Greg Lake composed ballads, he says, so he could play the guitar with ELP and still contribute the electric bass that paired so well with Emerson’s fiery keyboards and Palmer’s explosive drums.
Though Peter Sinfield was the band’s lyricist, Lake had some involvement in the lyrics for their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King. After their contracted producer Tony Clarke walked away from the project, Lake produced the album. Released in October 1969, the album an immediate commercial and critical success, as Lake recalled: “There was this huge wave of response. The audiences were really into us because we were an underground thing – the critics loved us because we offered something fresh”. He won worldwide acclaim as lead vocalist, bass guitarist and producer.
The album featured such songs as 21st Century Schizoid Man. The album set a standard for progressive rock and received a glowing, well-publicized testimonial from The Who’s Pete Townshend, who called it “an uncanny masterpiece”.
King Crimson supported In the Court of the Crimson King with a tour of the UK and the US, with some of the shows featuring prog-rock band The Nice as the opening act. During the US leg, Lake struck up a friendship with Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson and the two shared similar musical interests and talked about forming a new group.
When King Crimson returned to the UK in early 1970, Lake agreed to sing on the band’s second album, In the Wake of Poseidon, and appear on the music television show Top of the Pops with them, performing the song “Cat Food”.
After returning from the USA tour, founding member Mike Giles quit, but Lake stuck around long enough to sing on their second album, In the Wake of Poseidon, which was criticized for treading old ground, but refused to work with the band on the promotional tours.
He was approached by Keith Emerson to be the bass player and singer for his new band. Introduced to Atomic Rooster and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown drummer Carl Palmer, by Robert Stigwood, very soon thereafter they formed Emerson Lake and Palmer and made their live debut at the Guildhall in Plymouth in 1970 before giving a career-making performance at the Isle of Wight Festival. That special concert propelled them on their path to become one of the world’s first “super groups.”
The 1971 debut album, Emerson Lake and Palmer went platinum and underscored their Super Group status. It was produced by Lake and featured a song Greg had written while still in school: “Lucky Man.” “Lucky Man,” performed on acoustic guitar, would become an iconic song for the band and a popular classic on radio. The song has become synonymous with Greg Lake and the title was chosen as the title for Greg Lake’s 2012 autobiography.
Unusually, the band combined heavy rock riffs with a classical influence and created a unique live theatrical performance which stretched the imagination and enthralled audiences. In the next several years they scored hit albums with Pictures at an Exhibition (a full rock-ified version of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s famous 1874 piano suite), Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery – many of them produced by Lake himself. They were commercially successful in the UK with five albums charting in the Top 10, while Lake contributed acoustic and electric guitar work to Emerson Lake & Palmer, and his voice had a wider and more diverse range than anything The Nice had recorded.
Tarkus, released in 1971, featured an opening track inspired by the fictional Tarkus character – a half-tank, half-armadillo creature that would appear on stage at gigs – that lasted more than 20 minutes. Emerson and Lake conflicted between Emerson’s interest in complex, classically-influenced music and Lake’s more straightforward rock tastes. During the making of Tarkus, Lake initially rejected the title track, but was persuaded to record it following a band meeting with management, which ended in the addition of an original Lake tune, “Battlefield”, into the suite.
In 1975, while still a member of ELP, Lake achieved solo chart success when his single, “I Believe in Father Christmas”, reached number two on the UK Singles Chart. It has become a Yuletide perennial.
The band went on to enjoy chart success in 1977 with their version of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.
ELP’s ambitious light shows and on-stage theatrics were the epitome of ’70s rock excess, and several punk acts cited ELP as one of the bands they were reacting against.
But the band sold more than 48 million records, and Lake continued to be an influential and popular touring musician even after the band wound down in the late 1970s and split in 1979, following the unsuccessful album Love Beach. The group reformed for a number of years in the mid-1990s before permanently disbanding, bar a one-off gig in 2010.
Lake briefly joined Asia in 1983, replacing fellow King Crimson alumnus John Wetton, along with Palmer, members of Yes and King Crimson—before joining with Emerson to form the slightly poppier ELP reboot Emerson, Lake and Powell (Cozy Powell on drums) in the late 80s, featuring the Hot 100 hit “Touch and Go.”
He also formed partnerships on stage, and off, in performances, writing, recording, and productions with musicians whose brilliance matches his own. Solo tours and recordings have been extremely successful as he continues to recreate hits, add to his vast repertoire and raise the bar for others in the industry. His collaborations are many and impressive: Sheila E; Ringo Starr (joining Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band to great acclaim and with great enjoyment); Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant; The Who’s Roger Daltrey (which led to a guest recording on a hit Who single); Procol Harum’s Gary Booker, and Gary Moore. Greg has joined his friend Ian Anderson onstage with Jethro Tull and performed with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Greg also completed a successful and critically acclaimed tour in 2010. That tour was the foundation for the unique and inventive format which relies on audience participation. It preceded the reunion performance of Emerson Lake and Palmer as the headliners of the first and much celebrated and awarded High Voltage Festival.
2012 sees a reimagining and expansion of his intimate, interactive musical event format with his autobiographical tour, Songs of a Lifetime, full of drama, pathos, and humor. That show was inspired by the writing of Greg Lake’s greatly anticipated autobiography, Lucky Man. Available in both audio (read by the author) and hard cover formats, the book is not a recording of the show; it is completely different.
Greg Lake was a formidable producer in his own right. He was one of the driving forces behind the now legendary Manticore Records, which he says, was built “with the noble ideal of helping other progressive artists, music we thought worth supporting, that weren’t getting help from the majors.”
Lake’s inventive production shaped the best selling ELP albums and his solo work.
In 2005, Lake toured Germany and the United Kingdom with his “Greg Lake Band” which included David Arch, Florian Opahle, Trevor Barry on bass, and Brett Morgan. Lake performed “Karn Evil 9” with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at several shows. He was a special guest on the album Night Castle (2009).
In July 2010, Lake joined Emerson and Palmer for what was to be the final live concert by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, at the High Voltage rock festival, in Victoria Park, London. The entire concert was later released as the double-CD live album, High Voltage, and subsequently on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Most recently Greg worked with arranger, composer and keyboard artist David Arch (whose vast credentials include scoring and playing now-classic movies including three Harry Potter films, Star Wars, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Notting Hill).
On 9 January 2016, he was awarded an honorary degree in music and lyrics composition by Conservatorio Nicolini in Piacenza, Italy, the first degree awarded by the conservatory.
Greg Lake passed on after a long and troubled fight with cancer on December 7, 2016. He was 69 years old.
“The greatest music is made for love, not for money,” Lake is quoted as saying on his official website. “The early ELP albums were pioneering because there is no standing still; time is always moving forward.” Greg says “There is a common thread throughout all the music. The forms may be different, but each one to some degree draws upon inspiration from the past. I am as proud to have been as influenced by people like Elvis and Little Richard as I am by composers like Copeland and Prokofiev and I’m honored when other musicians regard me as one of their inspirations.
“I love acoustic guitars. They’re delicate and light and yet at the same time are unbelievably powerful. They are really a strange instrument from that point of view, but there is something very special about them,” he explains. “You just have to look at some of the truly great songs written on acoustic guitar – “Scarborough Fair,” “Forever Young,” “Yesterday” – truly iconic songs that all came from a small piece of wood with thin steel strings tied to each end.” The acoustics worked perfectly with Lake’s “golden” voice, which Record Collector magazine calls “extraordinary, altering comfortably between angelic and magisterial.” Lake’s remarkable voice also powered ELP’s more electric pieces such as Karn Evil #9, one of the world’s most beloved songs. The opening line “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends…” is an international favourite, globally used as a television theme. To date Emerson Lake and Palmer has sold over 48 million records. Lake produced Tarkus, Pictures at an Exhibition, Trilogy, Brain Salad Surgery, Works Vol. 1 and 2, and two different live albums. All went platinum and featured a series of hit singles , most written and all sung by Greg, who credits their success to his constant search for perfection and his heart.
“The greatest music is made for love, not for money. The early ELP albums were pioneering because there is no standing still; time is always moving forward.” It wasn’t just the albums, it was the performances. The band filled arenas and stadiums in record breaking numbers. They toured the world with an enormous assembly of technicians, musicians and artists to realize their spellbinding shows.