February 12, 1995 – Philip Kramer (Iron Butterfly) was born on July 12th 1952 in Youngstown, Ohio.
For a short period between 1974 and 1977, he was bassist for Iron Butterfly in their third reincarnation. Even though he was a solid bass thumper, his story on this rock and roll website only appears because his death was a longtime mystery with many stories of paranoia, related to his science career. During and after his music career he studied for and got a night school degree in aerospace engineering, after which he worked on the MX missile guidance system for a contractor of the US Department of Defense.
With the arrival of the Internet and the Worldwide Web he switched fields and studied fractal compression, facial recognition systems, and advanced communications. In 1990 he co-founded Total Multimedia Inc. with Randy Jackson, brother of Michael Jackson, to develop data compression techniques for CD-ROMs.
Dec 23, 1992 – Eddie Hazel was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 10, 1950 but grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey because his mother, Grace Cook, wanted her son to grow up in an environment without the pressures of drugs and crime that she felt pervaded New York City. Hazel occupied himself from a young age by playing a guitar, given to him as a Christmas present by his older brother. Hazel also sang in church. At age 12 he participated in backyard jams, which resulted in Nelson McGee and Hazel forming the Wonders who played around Plainfield in the mid sixties. By early 1967 Hazel’s reputation on guitar had taken him to work with producer George Blackwell in Newark.
In 1967 The Parliaments, a Plainfield-based doo wop band headed by George Clinton, had a hit record with “(I Wanna) Testify“. Clinton recruited a backing band for a tour, hiring Nelson as bassist, who in turn recommended Hazel as guitarist.
December 21, 1992 –Albert King was born Albert Nelson on April 25th 1923 in Indianola, Mississippi, the same town where B.B. King grew up. However, on his Social Security application in 1942, his birthplace was entered as “Aboden, Miss.,” likely based on his pronunciation of Aberdeen. King, who gave his birth date as April 25, 1923, was raised primarily in Arkansas. As a child, he sang with his family’s gospel group at a church where his father played the guitar. When King was eight, his family moved to Forrest City, Arkansas and he would pick cotton on plantations in the area. Around that same time, King bought his first guitar, paying only $1.25. His first inspiration was T-Bone Walker.
November 12, 1992 – Ronnie Bond was born Ronald James Bullis on May 4, 1940, the week before Nazi Germany invaded the Lowlands and brought the war to England. Born in Andover, Hampshire, he was a founding member of the rock band, The Troggs, originally called The Troglodytes.
They had a series of hits in the UK, Europe and the USA including “Wild Thing”, which was written by Chip Taylor (James Wesley Voight) Actor Jon Voight’s brother and Angelina Jolie’s uncle, “Anyway That You Want Me”, “Love Is All Around”, “I can’t control myself” and “With a Girl Like You”.
The Troggs Billboard Hot 100 chart topper “Wild Thing” is ranked #257 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and was an influence on garage rock and punk rock. Many of their hits have also been successful as covers, such as Jimi Hendrix with Wild Thing, Wet Wet Wet and REM with “Love Is All Around”, and Spiritualized with “Anyway That You Want Me”.
Iggy Pop, The Buzzcocks and The Ramones are amongst punk bands who cited the Troggs as an influence. Ronnie also released a solo single “Anything For You” in 1968 and a solo hit single titled “It’s Written On Your Body” which remained in the UK charts for five weeks in 1980.
Ronnie Bond transitioned on Nov 12, 1992 at age 52 under non-disclosed circumstances, but former band bass player Pete Staples had this to say about Ronnie Bond: “Ronnie was a good heavy drummer and had a very good voice, possibly the best in the group. His frustration could be heard by the continued use of the F word. Underneath the drink and the frustration was a very kind bloke.”
August 14, 1992 – Samuel Anthony “Tony” Williams was born on April 5th 1928 in Roselle, New Jersey. His family moved to California in the 1940s.
The Platters formed in Los Angeles in 1952 and were initially managed by Federal Records A&R man, Ralph Bass. The original group consisted of Alex Hodge, Cornell Gunter, David Lynch, Joe Jefferson, Gaynel Hodge and Herb Reed, who joined the group after he was discharged from the Army in December 1952. Reed created the group’s name.
In June 1953, Gunter left to join the Flaires and was replaced by tenor Tony Williams, a parking lot attendant, recommended by his sister Linda Hayes, an R&B singer, Williams became the group’s lead vocalist. The group then released two singles with Federal Records, under the management of Bass, but found little success. Bass then asked his friend music entrepreneur and songwriter Buck Ram to coach the group in hope of getting a hit record. Ram made some changes to the lineup, most notably the addition of female vocalist Zola Taylor; later, at Reed’s urging, Hodge was replaced by Paul Robi. Under Ram’s guidance, the Platters recorded eight songs for Federal in the R&B/gospel style, scoring a few minor regional hits on the West Coast, and backed Williams’ sister, Linda Hayes. One song recorded during their Federal tenure, “Only You (And You Alone)”, originally written by Ram for the Ink Spots, was deemed unreleasable by the label, though pirated copies of this early version do exist.
Despite their lack of chart success, the Platters were a profitable touring group, successful enough that the Penguins, coming off their #8 single “Earth Angel”, asked Ram to manage them as well. With the Penguins in hand, Ram was able to parlay Mercury Records’ interest into a 2-for-1 deal. To sign the Penguins, Ram insisted, Mercury also had to take the Platters. Ironically The Penguins would never have a hit for the label.
Convinced by Jean Bennett and Tony Williams that “Only You” had real potential, Ram had the Platters re-record the song during their first session for Mercury. Released in the summer of 1955, it became the group’s first Top Ten hit on the pop charts and topped the R&B charts for seven weeks. The follow-up, “The Great Pretender”, with lyrics written in the washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas by Buck Ram, exceeded the success of their debut and became the Platters’ first national #1 hit. “The Great Pretender” was also the act’s biggest R&B hit, with an 11-week run atop that chart. In 1956, the Platters appeared in the first major motion picture based around rock and roll, Rock Around the Clock, and performed both “Only You” and “The Great Pretender”.
The Platters’ unique vocal style had touched a nerve in the music-buying public, and a string of hit singles followed, including three more national #1 hits and more modest chart successes such as “I’m Sorry” (#11) and “He’s Mine” (#23) in 1957, “Enchanted” (#12) in 1959, and “The Magic Touch” (#4) in 1956.
The Platters soon hit upon the successful formula of updating older standards, such as “My Prayer”, “Twilight Time”, “Harbor Lights”, “To Each His Own”, “If I Didn’t Care”, and Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”. This latter release caused a small controversy after Kern’s widow expressed concern that her late husband’s composition would be turned into a “rock and roll” record. It topped both the American and British charts in a Platters-style arrangement.
The Platters also differed from most other groups of the era in other ways because Ram had the group incorporated in 1956. Each member of the group received a 20% share in the stock, full royalties, and their Social Security was paid. As group members left one by one, Ram and his business partner, Jean Bennett, bought their stock, which they claimed gave them ownership of the “Platters” name. A court later ruled, however, that “FPI was a sham used by Mr. Ram to obtain ownership in the name ‘Platters’, and FPI’s issuance of stock to the group members was ‘illegal and void’ because it violated California corporate securities law.”
Tony Williams and the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in its inaugural year of 1998. The Platters were the first rock and roll group to have a Top Ten album in America. They were also the only act to have three songs included on the American Graffiti soundtrack that fueled an oldies revival already underway in the early to mid-1970s: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, “The Great Pretender”, and “Only You (and You Alone)”.
From 1955 until Williams left the group in 1960, The Platters had four No. 1 hits and 16 gold records, including “My Prayer,” “Harbor Lights,” “Twilight Time,” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” and their biggest seller, “The Great Pretender.”
The group continued to perform without Williams, while he pursued a solo career.
Tony Williams passed away on August 14, 1992 from emphysema and lung cancer. He was 64 and had been earlier that year toured Thailand and other Asian countries, performing with his wife and son.
August 5, 1992 – Jeffrey Thomas “Jeff” Porcaro was born on April 1, 1954. He was not only a founding member of the hugely popular band “Toto”, he was also a highly sought after session drummer, by many regarded as the most in demand studio drummer in rock from the mid-’70s to the early ’90s. He has worked on hundreds of the most successful albums from that era and contributed to thousands of sessions.
At age 17 he became the drummer for Sonny and Cher’s Touring Band at the height of their popularity. He toured with Boz Scaggs and recorded with Steely Dan before he and his brothers, together with Steve Lukather and David Paich formed.
Porcaro was one of the most recorded session musicians in history, working on hundreds of albums and thousands of sessions.Even while with Toto, he was still a highly sought after session musician. He collaborated with many of the biggest names in the music business, including Boz Scaggs, Paul McCartney, Dire Straits, Donald Fagen, Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones, Michael Jackson, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Joe Walsh, Joe Cocker, Stan Getz, Sérgio Mendes, Lee Ritenour, Christopher Cross, James Newton-Howard, Jim Messina, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Eric Carmen, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Larry Carlton, Michael McDonald, Seals & Crofts, and David Gilmour.
Porcaro had contributed drums to four tracks on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, as well as played on the Dangerous album hit “Heal the World”. He also played on 10cc’s …Meanwhile (1992).
He died unexpectedly at home on August 5, 1995.The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office listed the cause of death to be a heart attack from atherosclerosis induced by cocaine use, not from an allergic reaction to the pesticides as presumed immediately after his death and stated by Toto in the band’s official history. The official cause of death reported by the coroner has long been the subject of intense debate, with Porcaro’s family, friends, and Toto bandmates claiming that while he did occasionally use cocaine, he was by no means a heavy drug user nor was he an addict. Most of the people that knew him state that the coroner’s report is wrong, and that he died of a combination of undiagnosed heart disease and organophosphate poisoning caused by the insecticide he was spraying on the day he died.
In a podcast recorded with I’d Hit That in late 2013, Steve Lukather spoke about Jeff Porcaro’s death:
Steve Lukather: I spoke to him the day he passed…he said, ‘yeah, man I’ll see you this weekend and we’ll have a BBQ at the house and we’ll go clean up the yard’…and that’s when he got poison on himself and it turns out he had a bad heart anyway. He had two uncles that died when they were 40 years old from heart disease so it was genetic…this whole drug thing that came out its so insidious, and I hate the fucking fact cause he was never the bad drug guy…he’d be the guy going “what are guys staying up all night, you idiots”…in the early ’80s and late ’70s early ’80s it was crazy man, we’re not gonna deny any of it, but by the time he passed it was never, I don’t know, people just love to roam the dirty laundry as Henley wrote you know…and you read these Wikipedia shit, that’s right there, it’s like does anybody ever do homework on these facts…he just had a genetic predisposition…this whole thing with his arms hurting and all this, he was always, ‘my arms, my muscles’, it wasn’t his muscles, it was the fact that the blood was not getting to the extremities, he had hardening of the arteries at 38 years old.
Interviewer: How long was he complaining of the pain in the arms?
Steve Lukather: Years, it was debilitating to the point where touring became difficult for him.
A memorial concert took place at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on December 14, 1992 with an all-star lineup that included Boz Scaggs, Donald Fagen, Don Henley, Michael McDonald, David Crosby, Eddie Van Halen, and the members of Toto. The proceeds of the concert were used to establish an educational trust fund for Porcaro’s sons.
Porcaro’s tombstone is inscribed with the following epitaph, comprised by lyrics from Kingdom of Desire track “Wings of Time”: “Our love doesn’t end here; it lives forever, on the Wings of Time.”
July 26, 1992 – MaryWells was born in Detroit on May 13, 1943. When she was three years old, she contracted spinal meningitis and had to remain in bed for two years. Wells also suffered from tuberculosis as a young woman. Her family was poor, and at the age of 12 she began to help her mother with housecleaning work. “Daywork they called it,” Wells was quoted as saying in Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music. “And it was damn cold on hallway linoleum. Misery is Detroit linoleum in January–with a half-froze bucket of Spic-and-Span.”
June 27, 1992 – Stefanie Sargent (7 Year Bitch) was born in Seattle, Washington on June 1, 1968. Raised in Seattle (she graduated the Summit K-12 Alternative School at age 16).
She then worked various jobs – making pizza in particular – traveled up and down the West Coast and played music. She became a familiar figure in the Seattle music scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, after and became well recognized as the original guitarist for 7 Year Bitch.
She first played with Selene Vigil-Wilk (vocals), Valerie Agnew (drums) and Lisa Orth (guitar) in the band Barbie’s Dream Car. When their bassist left for Europe they recruited Elizabeth Davis, and changed the name of the band to 7 Year Bitch. Lisa Orth was no longer in the band at this point, and Stefanie became the sole guitarist for 7 Year Bitch. Their first concert was a benefit at the OK hotel with the Gits, DC Beggars and several other bands.
May 29, 1992 – Ollie Halsall was born Peter John Halsall on March 14th 1949 in Southport, England.
Halsall started out playing drums and the vibraphone (an instrument on which he became extraordinarily proficient) before taking up the guitar in 1967. By 1970, as a member of the cult-favorite band, Patto, he had evolved into one of the world’s most sensational players. That he never got that recognition can only be explained by the fact that the world had a number of top players already in the marketing line up and there was only so much promotional effort made available by the record companies.
Other guitar gods that didn’t make the Super Stardom Line Up of those early days- but should have- were in my opinion Jan Akkerman from the Dutch prog band Focus, Eddie Hazel with Parliament-Funkadelic who died 7 months after Ollie, Chicago’s Terry Kath, Jimi Hendrix favorite guitar player at the time, and April Lawton from Ramatam.
May 1, 1992 – Sharon Redd was born October 19, 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia
Her parents were Gene Redd and Katherine Redd. Gene Redd was a producer and musical director at King Records, and her stepfather performed with Benny Goodman’s orchestra. Her brother Gene Redd Jr. was a songwriter and producer for Kool & the Gang and BMP. Her sister Pennye Ford is also a singer with two albums to her credit and known for her work as the main singer for Snap!
April 20, 1992 – Johnny Ned Shines was born April 26th 1915 in Frayser, Tennessee and grew up in Memphis from the age of six. Part of a musical family, he learned guitar from his mother, and as a youth he played for tips on the streets and local “jukes” of Memphis with several friends, inspired by the likes of Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and the young Howlin’ Wolf. In 1932, he moved to Hughes, AR, to work as a sharecropper, keeping up his musical activities on the side; in 1935, he decided to try and make it as a professional musician.
Shines had first met Robert Johnson in Memphis in 1934 when he was 19, and he began accompanying Johnson, who was 23, on his wanderings around the Southern juke-joint circuit, playing wherever they could find gigs; the two made their way as far north as Windsor, Ontario, where they appeared on a radio program. After around three years on the road together – which made Shines one of Johnson’s most intimate associates, – the two split up in Arkansas in 1937, and never saw each other again before Johnson’s death in 1938.
In his early days, Shines was one of the top slide guitarists in Delta blues, with his own distinctive, energized style; one that may have echoed Johnson’s spirit and influence, but was never a mere imitation.
After splitting up with Johnson, Shines continued to play around the South for a few years, and in 1941 decided to make his way north in hopes of finding work in Canada, and from there catching a boat to Africa. Instead, when he stopped in Chicago, his cousin immediately offered him a job in construction, and Shines wound up staying. He started making the rounds of the local blues club scene, and in 1946 he made his first-ever recordings; four tracks for Columbia that the label declined to release. In 1950, he resurfaced on Chess, cutting sides that were rarely released (and, when they were, often appeared under the name “Shoe Shine Johnny”). Meanwhile, Shines was finding work supporting other artists at live shows and recording sessions.
From 1952-1953, he laid down some storming sides for the JOB label, which constitute some of his finest work ever (some featured Big Walter Horton on harmonica). They went underappreciated commercially, however, and Shines returned to his supporting roles. In 1958, fed up with the musicians’ union over a financial dispute, Shines quit the music business, pawned all of his equipment, and made his living solely with the construction job he’d kept all the while.
Shines did, however, stay plugged into the local blues scene by working as a photographer at live events, selling photos to patrons as souvenirs. Eventually, he was sought out by blues historians, and talked into recording for Vanguard’s now-classic Chicago/The Blues/Today! series; his appearance on the third volume in 1966 rejuvenated his career.
Shines next cut sessions for Testament (1966’s Master of the Modern Blues, Vol. 1, a couple with Big Walter Horton, and more) and Blue Horizon (1968’s Last Night’s Dream), which effectively introduced him to much of the listening public. The reception was much greater this time around, and Shines hit the road, first with Horton and Willie Dixon as the Chicago All-Stars, then leading his own band. In the meantime, his daughter died unexpectedly, leaving Shines to raise his grandchildren; concerned about bringing them up in an urban environment, he moved the whole family down to Tuscaloosa, AL.
He was vastly under-recorded during his prime years, even quitting the music business for a time, but when rediscovered in the late ’60s, he recorded and toured steadily for quite some time. During the early ’70s, Shines recorded for Biograph and Advent, among others, and enjoyed one of his most acclaimed releases with 1975’s more Delta-styled Too Wet to Plow (for Tomato). He also taught guitar locally in Tuscaloosa in between touring engagements. Despite his own generally high-quality work, Shines was a fascinating figure to many white blues fans simply because of the mythology surrounding Robert Johnson, and he was interviewed repeatedly about his experiences with Johnson to the exclusion of discussing his own music and contemporary career; which understandably frustrated him after a while. However, that didn’t stop him from rediscovering his roots in acoustic Delta blues, or including many of Johnson’s classic songs in his own repertoire; in fact, during the late ’70s, Shines toured and recorded often with Robert Jr. Lockwood, a teaming that owed much to Johnson’s legacy if ever there was one. Unfortunately, in 1980, Shines suffered a stroke that greatly affected his guitar playing, which would never return to its former glories, his voice however remained a powerfully emotive instrument, and helped by some of his students, he continued to tour America and Europe.
In the early ’90s, Shines appeared in the documentary film Searching for Robert Johnson, and he also cut one last album with Snooky Pryor, 1991’s Back to the Country, which won a Handy Award. Shines’ health was failing, however, and he passed away on April 20, 1992, in a Tuscaloosa hospital.
He may have been best known as a traveling companion of Robert Johnson, but his own contributions to the blues have often been unfairly shortchanged, simply because Johnson’s cross roads legend casts such a long shadow.
He died from heart complications on April 20, 1992 at the age of 76.
January 14, 1992 – Jerry Nolan was born May 7th 1946 in Brooklyn New York. Nolan joined The New York Dolls in the autumn of 1972 to replace Billy Murcia, who had died of asphyxiation in a failed attempt to revive him from a drug overdose while on tour in England, early in the band’s career. The Dolls got a record deal with Mercury Records in 1973. Nolan also was a childhood friend of Peter Criss (KISS’ original drummer) who auditioned for The New York Dolls at the same time. He previously played with Wayne (Jayne) County’s “Queen Elizabeth”, Billy Squier’s “Kicks” and was the only male member of Suzi Quatro’s Detroit-based band Cradle. Jerry was drumming for the power trio “Shaker”, a New York band that frequently opened for the Dolls, when he was recruited to replace Billy. Nolan played on the Dolls’ first two albums (New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon).
After much internal fighting and a short stint under the helm of future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, Nolan left the Dolls together with Johnny Thunders in the spring of 1975. The two then placed a call to bassist Richard Hell, formerly of the Neon Boys and Television, to form The Heartbreakers. Soon, Walter Lure was brought into the fold and Hell was replaced by Billy Rath.
In 1976, The Heartbreakers were invited to tour with the Sex Pistols on their infamous “Anarchy in the U.K.” tour which also included support from The Clash and The Damned. Soon after the tour, The Heartbreakers took up permanent residence in London and played many shows throughout 1976–1977. Nolan quit the band soon after they released their only studio album, L.A.M.F. in October 1977 because he felt the album was poorly mixed. Nolan still continued to play with The Heartbreakers, but as a “hired drummer” until the end of 1977.
In early 1978, Nolan joined The Idols led by Steve Dior and Barry Jones. The Idols with ex-Chelsea bassist Simon Vitesse recorded four demos in London for Track Records and then toured America later in the year with Arthur Kane on bass. The Idols also released a single including “You” b/w “The Girl That I Love” in 1978 on Ork Records. Nolan also filled in on drums for Sid Vicious’ ill-fated New York City solo performances in September 1978 along with Arthur Kane and Steve Dior also backing up Vicious. Mick Jones from The Clash also joined Vicious’ backing band filling in on guitar on the last live date. The live recordings from these shows can be found on Sid Sings.
The Idols continued to play shows up and down the east coast but broke up in 1979, the last line up consisting of Jerry Nolan, Steve Dior, Barry Jones, Arthur Kane, and Walter Lure. Nolan later joined back up with Steve Dior and Barry Jones in their next band, The London Cowboys in the early 80’s which also included Glen Matlock from The Sex Pistols. Jerry didn’t play drums on The London Cowboys two albums Animal Pleasure (1982) and Tall in the Saddle (1984), but he did play drums on their live album On Stage (1986).
While touring with Johnny Thunders in 1982, Nolan met Charlotte (Lotten) Nedeby, whom he soon married. Nolan took up residence in Sweden, off and on, through the 1980s. In Sweden playing drums and singing lead vocals he recorded a solo single with the Teneriffa Cowboys of an unreleased Heartbreakers’ song, “Take A Chance With Me” and a new song, “Pretty Baby” released in 1982 on Tandan Records. Other songs recorded with the Teneriffa Cowboys throughout 1982–1983 include Chuck Berry’s “Havana Moon” which was released on “Sword – The Best in Scandinavian Rock” album in 1985 on Sword/Tandan Records and “Countdown Love” which was released on a posthumous split single with Johnny Thunders in 1997 on Sucksex Records. The other co-singer and guitarist of Teneriffa Cowboys, Michael Thimren (who also occasionally played with Johnny Thunders from 1983–1988) contributed the songs “Lickin’ My Boots” and “Notorious Liar” along with other unreleased songs from the 1982–1983 period. Also in 1983, Nolan recorded a single with the Swedish band Pilsner playing drums and singing lead vocals on “I Refuse (To Live in the U.S.A.)” and “Sleep With You”. He was also a member of the short-lived Ugly Americans with fellow ex-Doll Sylvain Sylvain. Johnny Thunders also moved to Sweden with his girlfriend, Susanne, and their collaboration continued periodically, until Thunders’ death in 1991.
Nolan outlived his long-time friend by only a few months. During that period he was working on a recording project with singer/songwriter/guitar Greg Allen and bassist Chicago Vin Earnshaw. In late 1991, while Nolan was being treated for bacterial meningitis and bacterial pneumonia at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, he suffered a stroke and went into a coma from which he never recovered. He spent his final weeks on a life support system and died on January 14, 1992 at age 45.
January 15, 1992 –Dee Murray (Elton John band) was born in Gillingham, Kent, England on 3 April 1946. Before joining Elton John as his touring sidemen, Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson were members of the Spencer Davis Group in 1969. In Murray’s musician bio in the program book for 1982’s “Jump Up!” tour, Murray recalled when he first took up the bass guitar during his high school years: “Someone put this heavy thing over my shoulder and said, ‘Here, you play this!'”
Murray quickly established a solid reputation on the instrument. In the Classic Albums documentary on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, producer Gus Dudgeon lauded Murray’s musical ability, and said he hadn’t heard a bassist quite as good as him.
Murray and Olsson joined John as his road sidemen in 1970, and first appeared on disc with John on “Amoreena” from the 1970 album Tumbleweed Connection, though they were first featured on the live album 17-11-70. While they were John’s constant touring band mates, his record company only allowed them to play on just one track per studio album. As of Honky Château in 1972, however, John exerted some of his skyrocketing popularity at the time, and convinced his record company to allow Murray and Olsson to also become full-time recording members of his band. Along with fellow new recruit Davey Johnstone on guitar, Murray and Olsson played on John’s hit albums, including the milestone album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, singles, and world tours for several years.
In 1975, after recording Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Murray and Olsson were released from the band because John wanted to achieve a different sound. He said at the time “The band always rattled along. I want it to chug”.
Murray and Olsson continued working together as session musicians in Los Angeles. They played on Rick Springfield‘s first United States album, Wait for Night (1976). In 1977, Murray briefly joined Procol Harum on a North America tour promoting their last 1970s album, Something Magic, although he never recorded with the group.
Between 1978 and 1979, Murray worked as part of Alice Cooper’s backing band. According to music site AllMusic.com, Murray played on Cooper’s hit album “From the Inside,” and joined Olsson backing the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir on his solo album “Heaven Help the Fool” in 1978.
Other artists he worked with during the 1970s and early 1980s include Yvonne Elliman (her Night Flight album contained the hit single “If I Can’t Have You,” composed by the Bee Gees), Shaun Cassidy, Allan Clarke, Bernie Taupin, Kiki Dee, Stefanie Gaines, Barbi Benton and Jimmy Webb.
Murray and Olsson returned to tour and play sessions with John, starting with “21 at 33” in 1980. He and Olsson backed John during his landmark concert in New York City’s Central Park before more than 400,000 fans on the Great Lawn on 13 September 1980, and appeared on The Fox in 1981. Murray went on to contribute all the bass tracks on Jump Up! in 1982, and joined Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone for the Jump Up! Tour, followed by albums and tours for Too Low for Zero (1983) and Breaking Hearts (1984). The group then disbanded, reuniting once more to record backing vocals on Reg Strikes Back in 1988.
In the 1980s, Murray played on numerous Nashville sessions for artists such as Michael Brown, Lewis Storey, Beth Nielsen Chapman and John Prine, amongst others.
He was a talented musician whose gift for melody, placement, and an understated, yet profound technique, plus his standout work as a backing vocalist, puts him in an elite class among rock bassists. He died after a long brave battle with skin cancer from a stroke at age45 years on 15 January 1992.
January 29, 1992 – Willie Dixon was born July 1st 1915 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. His mother Daisy often rhymed the things she said, a habit her son imitated. At the age of seven, young Dixon became an admirer of a band that featured pianist Little Brother Montgomery. He sang his first song at Springfield Baptist Church at the age of four. Dixon was first introduced to blues when he served time on prison farms in Mississippi as an early teenager.
He later learned how to sing harmony from local carpenter Leo Phelps. Dixon sang bass in Phelps’ group The Jubilee Singers, a local gospel quartet that regularly appeared on the Vicksburg radio station WQBC. Dixon began adapting poems he was writing as songs, and even sold some tunes to local music groups. By the time he was a teenager, Dixon was writing songs and selling copies to the local bands. With his bass voice, Dixon later joined a group organized by Phelps, the Union Jubilee Singers, who appeared on local radio. Continue reading Willie Dixon 1/1992
January 21, 1992 – William Thomas Dupree best known asChampion Jack Dupree was arguably born on July 4, 10, or 23, in the years 1908, 1909, or 1910. What is not argued is however that New Orleans was the place he was born. His father was from the Belgian Congo, his mother was part Black and Cherokee.
He was orphaned at the age of 2 and sent to the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, also the alma mater of Louis Armstrong, where he taught himself piano and later apprenticed with Tuts Washington and Willie Hall, whom he called his ‘father’ and from whom he learned “Junker’s Blues”.
He was also “spy boy” for the Yellow Pochahantas tribe of Mardi Gras Indians and soon began playing in barrelhouses and other drinking establishments.
His life of traveling took him to Chicago, where he worked with Georgia Tom, and to Indianapolis, where he met Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr. In Detroit he met Joe Louis, who encouraged him to become a boxer. So he fought in 107 bouts, winning Golden Gloves and other championships and picking up the nickname ‘Champion Jack’, which he used the rest of his life.
He returned to Chicago at aged 30 and joined a circle of recording artists, including Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red, who introduced him to the record producer Lester Melrose, who claimed composer credit and publishing on many of Jack’s songs. Dupree’s career was interrupted by military service in World War II. He was a cook in the United States Navy and spent two years as a Japanese prisoner of war.
After the war his biggest commercial success became “Walkin’ the Blues”, which he recorded as a duet with Teddy McRae. This led to several national tours, and eventually to a European tour.
He was accompanied on guitar by Larry Dale, on his best known album, ”Blues from the Gutter” in 1959 whose playing inspired Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones. He was also noted as a raconteur and transformed many of his stories into songs. “Big Leg Emma’s” takes its place in the roots of rap music as the rhymed tale of a police raid on a barrelhouse.
Dupree’s playing was almost all straight blues and boogie-woogie. He was not a sophisticated musician or singer, but he had a wry and clever way with words: “Mama, move your false teeth, papa wanna scratch your gums.” He sometimes sang as if he had a cleft palate and even recorded under the name Harelip Jack Dupree. This was an artistic conceit, as Dupree had excellent, clear articulation, particularly for a blues singer. Dupree would occasionally indulge in a vocalese style of sung word play, similar to Slim Gaillard’s “Vout”, as in his “Mr. Dupree Blues” included on The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions album.
He sang about life, jail, drinking and drug addiction; although he himself was a light drinker and did not use other drugs. His “Junker’s Blues” was also transmogrified by Fats Domino into his first hit, “The Fat Man”. Dupree’s songs included not only gloomy topics, such as “TB Blues” and “Angola Blues” (about Angola Prison, the infamous Louisiana prison farm), but also cheerful subjects like the “Dupree Shake Dance”: “Come on, mama, on your hands and knees, do that shake dance as you please”.
Dupree moved to Europe in 1960, first settling in Switzerland and then Denmark, England, Sweden and, finally, Germany. During the 1970s and 1980s he lived at Ovenden in Halifax, England and a piano used by Dupree was later re-discovered at Calderdale College in Halifax.
Dupree continued to record in Europe with Kenn Lending Band, Louisiana Red and Axel Zwingenberger and made many live appearances, all the while still working as a cook specializing in New Orleans cuisine. In later years he recorded with John Mayall, Mick Taylor, Eric Clapton and The Band.He returned to the United States from time to time and appeared at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
He died in Hanover, Germany of cancer on January 21, 1992 at age 82.
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