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
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
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 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 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
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 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.
March 8, 2015 – Lewis Soloff (Blood, Sweat & Tears) was born February 20, 1944 in New York. He was a jazz trumpeter, composer and actor, who studied trumpet at the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School. He worked with Blood, Sweat & Tears from 1968 until 1973. Prior to this, he worked with Machito, Tony Scott, Maynard Ferguson and Tito Puente.
In the 1980s he was a member of Members Only, a jazz ensemble who recorded for Muse Records. Soloff made frequent guest appearances with jazz orchestras all over the world such as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (directed by Wynton Marsalis) and the Magic City Jazz Orchestra (directed by Ray Reach). Soloff was a longtime member of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet and Mingus Big Band.
December 3, 2014 – Bobby Keys was the epitome of the rock & roll sax-playing man. Robert Henry Keys was born at Lubbock army airfield in Hurlwood, Texas on December 18th 1943. In 1946 his parents moved to New Mexico for a job, while young Bobby stayed with his grandfather in Texas. He took up the saxophone in High School after being injured while playing baseball and it was the only instrument left unclaimed in the school band. His amazing talent did the rest.
Soon after he met Jerry Allison, a local drummer who was working with Buddy Holly in near by Lubbock. Bobby convinced his grandfather to sign his guardianship to the drummer and he joined Jerry’s band, the Crickets and he was then playing behind Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox and other local rockers. By the age of 15, he was touring with pop singer Bobby Vee on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars, alongside such artists as Little Eva and Major Lance. It was while he was playing with Vee when he first met the Rolling Stones at the San Antonio state fair in Texas.
November 6, 2014 – Rick Rosas (“Rick the Bass Player”) was born in West Los Angeles, Ca. on September 10th 1949. He came up through the ranks of remarkable players as a studio musician and went on to be one of the most sought after session musicians.
In the early 1980s he met Joe Walsh through drummer Joe Vitale and later played on Walsh’s 1985 album, The Confessor.
Rosas also joined Walsh for a short-lived stint in Australia as a member of the Creatures from America, that also featured Waddy Wachtel on guitar and Richard Harvey on drums. He also toured with Dan Fogelberg in 1985. In December 1986, the Walsh band joined Albert Collins and Etta James for the a Jazzvisions taping called “Jump the Blues Away.”
February 14, 2013 – Kevin Peek (Sky) was born Dec 21, 1946 in Adelaide, Australia. He initially played classical percussion in the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music, before teaching himself the guitar.
In 1967 Peek formed a Psychedelic pop, progressive rock group, James Taylor Move but left by May 1968, moving to London. He returned to Adelaide, Australia, to join a newly formed rock band Quatro which, despite a contract from England’s Decca Records, proved artistically unsuccessful.
For a time, following their move to London, he and his fellow Adelaide-born bandmates—guitarist Terry Britten, bassist Alan Tarney, and drummer Trevor Spencer—made their livings as session musicians together, playing with everyone from the New Seekers and Mary Hopkin (Earth Song, Ocean Song) to Cliff Richard, whose regular backing band they became on stage and on record during the 1970s. Peek also worked with Manfred Mann, Lulu, Tom Jones, Jeff Wayne (War of the Worlds), and Shirley Bassey, among others. He also wrote the theme music for the internationally-broadcast “Singapore Girl” television advertisements for Singapore Airlines.
January 19, 2013 – Steve Knight was born on May 12, 1935 in New York to artist parents. From 1938–1950 his family lived in Woodstock, New York. In 1950, his father became a professor at Columbia University and moved the family to New York City. In 1952, Knight graduated from high school and enrolled at Columbia later that year. He stayed at Columbia for most of the 1950s (1952–1959) studying art, music and psychology. He earned a B.S. degree majoring in psychology, and had one year of graduate work in psychology.
From 1959 to 1968, Steve Knight recorded with or was a member of various bands including The Feenjon Group, The Peacemakers, Devil’s Anvil and Wings (obviously not Paul McCartney’s group). In 1969, producer/vocalist/bassist Felix Pappalardiorganized the heavy rock band Mountain. The initial line-up included Leslie West (guitar/vocals) and N.D. Smart (drums).
Even though he became the keyboardist, Knight was really a multi-instrumentalist, mastering both string and wind instruments. Prior to release of Mountain’s debut album, Climbing!, Pappalardi, who had known Knight from prior musical affiliations, added him to the line-up on keyboards. Corky Laing replaced Smart on drums. The band enjoyed a great deal of recording and touring success in the early 1970s including 3 gold albums, but called it quits in 1972. He performed at the infamous Woodstock Festival.
March 13, 2008 – Martin Fierro was born on January 18th 1942.
Unlike the famous, but epically somber poem by Argentinian poet José Henriquez published in two parts, El Gaucho Martín Fierro(1872) and La Vuelta de Martín Fierro (1879 Martin Fierro was a magnificent and funny Session saxophone player in the San Francisco Bay Area who was also known as “the Meester” to his many loving fans.
January 19, 2008 –John Coburn Stewartwas born September 5th 1939in San Diego, California, Stewart was the son of horse trainer John S. Stewart and spent his childhood and adolescence in southern California, living mostly in the cities of Pasadena and Claremont.
He graduated in 1957 from High School, which at the time was a coeducational school. He demonstrated an early talent for music, learning the guitar and banjo. He composed his first song, “Shrunken Head Boogie,” when he was ten years old. In an interview in Michael Oberman’s Music makers column (The Washington, DC Star Newspaper) on Oct. 30, 1971, Stewart said, “I bought a ukelele when I was in Pasadena. I would listen to Sons of the Pioneers records. Tex Ritter really turned me on to music. ‘I Love My Rooster’ was Top Ten as far as I was concerned.”
July 3, 2007 – Boots Randolph was born Homer Louis Randolph III was born on June 3, 1927 in Paducah, Kentucky, where he grew up in the rural community of Cadiz.
When Boots Randolph was “tootin’ his horn”, he did more than just play the saxophone. More than just pop out music notes. And that’s why his saxophone sounded like it could sing…could talk…could almost speak to deaf ears! His ability was awesome. His versatile style still has no equal. He brought audiences to their feet ever since the early sixties, when his signature song– “Yakety Sax” — first hit the airwaves. It took off like gangbusters and turned the young musician into a celebrity, probably before some of his friends in the hills of Kentucky could even spell it!
January 13, 2007 –Michael Leonard Brecker was born on March 29th 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Michael Brecker was exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University, Michael Brecker moved to New York City in 1970 where he carved out a niche for himself as a dynamic and exciting jazz soloist.
He first made his mark at age 21 as a member of the jazz/rock band Dreams – a band that included his older brother Randy, trombonist Barry Rogers, drummer Billy Cobham, Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn. Dreams was short-lived, lasting only a year, but influential (Miles Davis was seen at some gigs prior to his recording “Jack Johnson”).
January 6, 2007 – Sneaky Pete Kleinow was born on August 20th 1934 inSouth Bend, Indiana. He became intrigued by the steel guitar, particularly the Hawaiian stylings of Jerry Byrd, and he took up the instrument when he was 17. He worked repairing roads, but he would play in club bands at night. One band decided that everyone should have nicknames and, for Kleinow, “Sneaky” stuck.
In 1960, he moved to Los Angeles and wrote jingles, and worked as a special effects artist and stop motion animator for movies and television, including the Gumby and Davey and Goliath series. He did special effects for the film The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) and the cult TV show The Outer Limits.
His first date as a session musician was on the Ventures‘ “Blue Star” in 1965. He played in clubs around Los Angeles and sat in with Bakersfield Sound-oriented combos and early country-rock aggregations playing the pedal steel guitar. This is where he became acquainted with Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons of The Byrds, helping the group to replicate their newly country-oriented sound onstage with banjoist Doug Dillard and, early in 1968, Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons told him of their plans to relaunch the rock band the Byrds in a country music setting.
July 5, 2006 – Joe Weaver was born on August 27th 1934 in Detroit, Michigan.
His best known recording was “Baby I Love You So” – 1955, and he was a founding member of both The Blue Note Orchestra and The Motor City Rhythm & Blues Pioneers. Over his lengthy but staggered career, Joe worked with various musicians including The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, John Lee Hooker, Nathaniel Mayer, The Miracles, Martha Reeves, Nolan Strong & The Diablos, Andre Williams, Nancy Wilson, and Stevie Wonder. In addition, he was a session musician in the early days of Motown Records and played in the house band at Fortune Records. He was a key component in the 1950s Detroit R&B scene.
Weaver learned to play the piano from age nine. While at Northwestern High School he teamed up with fellow student Johnnie Bassett to form Joe Weaver and the Blue Notes.
November 10, 1997 – Tommy Tedesco (session guitarist) was born on July 3rd 1930 in Niagara Falls. It took him almost 30 years to make his way to the West Coast, but once there he became one of the most sought after studio musicians between the 1960s and the 1980s. Although Tedesco was primarily a guitar player, he also played the mandolin, ukulele, and the sitar as well as 28 other stringed instruments (though he played all of them in guitar tuning!).
Guitar magazine described him as the most recorded guitarist in history, having played on thousands of recordings, including the Beach Boys, Everly Brothers, The Association, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, Cher, and Nancy and Frank Sinatra. He recorded with most of the top acts in the Los Angeles arena. TV themes include Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Green Acres, M*A*S*H, Batman, and Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special. Continue reading Tommy Tedesco 11/1997