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Eva Cassidy 11/1996

Eva CassidyNovember 2, 1996 – Eva Marie Cassidy was born on February 2, 1963 in Washington DC.
She died at the age of 33 following a three-month battle with bone cancer. She was, for sure, a diamond, no longer in the rough but not yet in the proper setting that would showcase a voice so pure, so strong, so passionate that it should have found a home just about anywhere.

Cassidy didn’t have any concept of target audiences or musical distinctions. She could sing anything — folk, blues, pop, jazz, R&B, gospel — and make it sound like it was the only music that mattered.

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Tupac Shakur 9/1996

tupac-shak-484098September 13, 1996 – Tupac Amaru Shakur or Tupac Shakur was an American rapper and actor with a net worth of US$40 Million mostly earned since he died. He started his career as a roadie, backup dancer and became one of the best-selling music artist in history, who sold over 75 million of his albums worldwide as of 2010. He ranked at number two in the list of The Greatest MCs of All Time and Rolling Stone named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time. He made his debut in the film, “Nothing But Trouble” in 1991. Five years later he was dead.

Shakur was shot several times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Koval Lane on September 7, 1996. He died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds on September 13, 1996. Continue reading Tupac Shakur 9/1996

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Mel
Taylor
8/1996

mel taylor, drummer for the VenturesAugust 10, 1996 – Mel Taylor (the Ventures) was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 24, 1933, the first child of Grace and Lawrence Taylor. His mother”s family was Russian/Eastern European Jewish, and his father”s family was from the Tennessee/North Carolina area, with English, German, Dutch and Cherokee roots.

His early years were spent in Brooklyn but, in the summer of 1939, his father took him back to the family home in Johnson City, TN, for the first of many visits. His father, grandfather and uncles all played guitar or banjo, and Mel became used to music being an integral part of his life. Back in New York, he joined the Police Athletic League and excelled in the 100-yard dash. He also developed a lifelong passion for the Dodgers baseball team.

Mel’s interest in the drums began early, too. His mother remembered him banging on pots and pans with knitting needles, then drumsticks. In school, he joined the drum and bugle corps, and marched in the Macy’s parade. His inspiration came from big bands and especially Gene Krupa, whom he heard on the radio and whose style he began to copy.

In his early teens, Mel moved permanently to Tennessee where he attended high school. After trying out for the football team, he found he preferred marching in the band instead. He joined the Navy at the age of 17 and, after basic training in the Great Lakes region, was posted to Pensacola where he was assigned to a crash crew for the Navy pilots’ training facility.

After leaving the Navy, Mel returned to Tennessee where he started playing music on local radio and TV shows. His younger brother, Larry Taylor (later bass player with Canned Heat), remembers that Mel played rhythm guitar and sang back-up on a rockabilly TV show in Johnson City with Eddie Skelton. He later played drums with Joe Franklin”s group, and even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show — or rather his arm did, as that was all anyone could see of him when the show aired! He also played guitar and sang on his own (very) early morning radio show, as “Mel Taylor and the Twilight Ramblers”.

Mel moved his family, including 4 small children, out to California in 1958. During the day, Mel worked LA Grand Central Market, as a meat cutter – a trade he had learned in Tennessee. By night however, he played drums in clubs around the L.A. area and became quite sought after. Soon he was able to quit his day job, and graduate to session work in the recording studios. His early credits include “The Monster Mash” with Bobby “Boris” Pickett, “The Lonely Bull” with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (for which he was paid $10!), various cuts with Buck Owens, and many more. He also became house drummer at the famous Palomino Club in North Hollywood.

In the late 1950″s and early 1960″s everyone in the music business frequented the Palomino – and often sat in with the house band, so Mel had the opportunity to meet and play with many hit artists. One night in 1962, The Ventures came to the Palomino after doing a TV show in Hollywood, but without their drummer, so Mel obliged and played “Walk Don”t Run” with the group.

Later, The Ventures asked him if he would be interested in joining them, as their original drummer was unable to travel. Shortly thereafter, they called Mel in to do some recording and, a few months later, to go on the road with them. From 1963 on, Mel became known as The Ventures” drummer, recording and performing with them for more than 32 years, traveling all over the US, to Europe and to Japan, where The Ventures” annual tour was considered a major cultural event.

He released a solo album in the late 1960s and formed his own band called Mel Taylor & The Dynamics in the late 1970s

In July 1996, while on tour in Japan with The Ventures, Mel was diagnosed with pneumonia, but subsequently a malignant tumor was found in his lungs. He continued to play until August 1, so that a replacement drummer could be found for the balance of the tour. On August 2, Mel returned to Los Angeles for further testing, but the cancer was so fast-moving that, after less than 10 days at home, he died very suddenly on August 11 at the age of 62.

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John
Panozzo
7/1996

July 16, 1996 – John Anthony Panozzo (Styx) was born on September 20, 1948 in the Roseland/Pullman neighborhood, on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, with his fraternal twin brother, Chuck (born 90 minutes apart).

At age 7, the twins took musical lessons from their uncle in which John took an interest in drums and percussion. They attended Catholic school and eventually they were part of a three-piece band in which John played drums and Chuck played guitar. They would play weddings at age 12 and were paid $15 apiece.

Then, in 1961, John, Chuck, and their neighbor, Dennis DeYoung, formed a band called The Tradewinds in which John played drums, Chuck played guitar, and Dennis played the accordion and sang. They played local gigs at bars and began gaining popularity as a garage band on the city’s South Side. In 1968, Chuck switched to bass and they added guitarists/vocalists James “J.Y.” Young and John Curulewski, changing their name to TW4. The band signed to Wooden Nickel Records and changed their name to Styx, after the Greek name for the mythological river of the dead.

At first Styx struggled to get recognition outside their native Illinois. In 1975, “Lady”, a ballad culled from their second album, started to pick up nationwide airplay and eventually became a Top Ten US hit three years after its original release.

Suddenly promoted into a bigger league, the outfit signed to A&M Records and replaced Curulewski with the guitarist Tommy Shaw, who became one of their main writers with Young and De Young. The Panozzo brothers acted as a more than capable rhythm section for this hard-working band who didn’t flinch at doing 110 gigs in six months (this punishing schedule would later take its toll).

At the height of their fame in the late Seventies and early Eighties, Styx were prime exponents of the much-maligned power ballad and pomp-rock genres. As such, they have forever been lumped together with acts like Asia, Boston, Foreigner, Journey, Kansas, Reo Speedwagon and Toto whose songs dominated American radio and the Simon Bates Our Tune and Golden Hour slots.

Styx undoubtedly became one of the prototypes and inspirations for the parodic Rob Reiner movie Spinal Tap with their elaborate shows based around concept albums like The Grand Illusion, Cornerstone and Paradise Theater (all platinum records). In 1979, following hit singles such as “Lorelei”, “Mademoiselle”, “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade”, a US survey by Gallup revealed the scary fact that, while punk and new wave were ruling the UK, Styx was the most popular rock band with American teenagers.

At the end of that year, the De Young ballad “Babe” became an American no 1 and a million-seller. Having also conquered Canada, Styx could at last turn their attention to overseas territories. In 1980, “Babe” duly entered the British Top 10 and the group played the Hammersmith Odeon in London.

The band may have over-reached itself with the ambitious Kilroy Was Here, which attempted to blend rock and theatre while dealing with the state of the nation, but their singles (“Mr Roboto” and “Don’t Let It End” in 1983) still secured high placings in the US charts.

However, after the obligatory double live album Caught in the Act, the now feuding components of Styx took an exten-ded break. De Young and Shaw both launched solo careers, the latter eventually joining veteran gonzo- rocker Ted Nugent in the Damn Yankees supergroup.

In 1990, the other four Styx members recruited Glen Burtnik to replace Shaw and hit the comeback trail with their Edge of the Century album. The following year, on a wave of patriotism fuelled by the Gulf War, their “Show Me the Way” single (not the Peter Frampton song of the same title) became an anthem and a US Top 10 hit.

 

Years of excessive drinking began to take a toll on Panozzo’s liver. In the mid-1990s, as Styx was about to embark on its first tour with the classic line-up since 1983, John fell seriously ill and began battling cirrhosis of the liver, eventually dying of gastrointestinal hemorrhaging and cirrhosis on July 16, 1996. He was 47 years old.

The band dedicated their 1996 Return to Paradise tour to him, and Tommy Shaw, who had earlier replaced Curulewski, wrote the song “Dear John” as the band’s final tribute to their drummer and friend.

 

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Chas
Chandler
7/1996

July 17, 1996 – Bryan James “Chas” Chandler (the Animals) was born in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne in Northumberland England on December 18, 1938.

After leaving school, he worked as a turner in the Tyneside shipyards. Having originally learned to play the guitar, he became the bass player with The Alan Price Trio in 1962. After Eric Burdon joined the band, the Alan Price Trio was renamed The Animals and became one of the most successful R&B bands ever.

The hulking bassist (Chandler stood six-foot-four) was on all of the Animals’ recordings from their first sides in 1963 through late 1966, when the nucleus of the original group disbanded.
Chandler’s bass lines were rarely given critical attention but some, including the opening riff of the group’s 1965 hit “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and “It’s my life” subsequently received praise. Chandler was also the most prominent of the group’s backing vocalists and did occasional songwriting with Burdon. In 1966, despite commercial success, Chandler became disillusioned with the lack of money, recalling that, “We toured non-stop for three years, doing 300 gigs a year and we hardly got a penny.”

However during his final tour with The Animals, Chandler was advised by Keith Richards’ girlfriend, Linda Keith, to go see an up-coming guitarist, Jimmy James, who was playing with the Blue Flames at the Cafe Wha in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Chandler was especially impressed by Jimmy James’s performance of the Tim Rose song “Hey Joe”, offered to be his manager and invited him to London. James asked Chandler if he could introduce him to Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, and his “Yes” clinched the deal. His move across the Atlantic was made possible with the help of Animals manager Michael Jeffery, who suggested that he revert to his actual name Jimi Hendrix, and later suggested naming the band the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In Britain, Chandler recruited bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell as the other members of the Experience.

His enthusiasm fueled Hendrix during the early days. While engineers such as Eddie Kramer, George Chkiantz, and Gary Kellgren were also important to capturing the Experience’s sound in the studio, Chandler was invaluable in helping to select and refine the material. Also he, unlike many producers, had been on the other side of the glass booth; his previous experience in the studio as a member of a top group no doubt helped earn Hendrix’s respect and prepare both of them for the challenge of making the best records possible.

He was also instrumental in introducing Hendrix to Eric Clapton. It was through this introduction that Hendrix was given the opportunity to play with Clapton and Cream on stage. It was Chandler’s idea for Hendrix to set his guitar on fire, which made national news when this idea was used at a concert at the Finsbury Astoria Theatre and subsequently at the Monterey Pop festival. Hendrix’s sound engineer Eddie Kramer later recalled that Chandler was very hands on with the first two Hendrix albums, adding that “he was his mentor and I think it was very necessary.”

Increasingly frustrated at Hendrix’s hectic lifestyle and progressively more time-consuming dallying in the studio, however, Chandler ended his association with the Experience in the middle of the Electric Lady land sessions in 1968, claiming they were self-indulgent. He left management services in the hands of Jeffery in the following year.

Chandler’s role in Hendrix’s career is soften underestimated by biographers, particularly those who insist on viewing Hendrix as a genius manipulated by virtually everyone around him. Chandler risked almost all of his resources to launch Hendrix’s career, funding the “Hey Joe” session before Hendrix had a contract, letting Hendrix live in his flat when the pair arrived in London, and even letting the guitarist use the flat for rehearsal at the outset.

Chandler kick-started Hendrix’s songwriting by insisting that Jimi write the B-side to “Hey Joe,” although Hendrix had written little or no songs previously and wanted to do a cover tune (Chandler also wanted to make sure Hendrix got some publishing royalties). Partially as a result of the books in Chandler’s apartment, particularly the science fiction ones, Hendrix’s lyrics took on a poetic and cosmic influence. Most importantly, Chandler was able, at least at first, to keep the Experience focused and productive in the studio. Had he been able to continue working with the group as he had in 1966 and 1967, there’s reason to believe that Hendrix’s final records, and indeed final years of his life, would have been more coherent and productive as well.

During the two year Hendrix era, Chandler also did a little production for the Soft Machine, another group in the Jeffery/Chandler stable. He produced the A-side of their first single (1967’s “Love Makes Sweet Music”) and co-produced their debut album in 1968 with Tom Wilson; Soft Machine bassist Kevin Ayers went on record with his dissatisfaction with that record’s production, although he targeted Wilson for most of the blame.

But Chandler’s major financial coup would be as producer, and eventually manager, of Slade, the glammy British hard rock group that was perennially on the British charts in the ’70s. Chandler had found the group after forming a production company with rock entrepreneur Robert Stigwood, who allowed Chandler to buy the management rights to the band for 5,000 pounds in 1972.
Chandler then managed and produced Slade for twelve years, during which they achieved six number one chart hits in the UK.

He then went on to manage and produce the English rock band Slade for twelve years. During this time, Chandler bought and ran IBC Studios, which he renamed Portland Recording Studios, after the studio address of 35 Portland Place, London and ran it for four years until he sold it to Don Arden.

In 1977, Chandler played and recorded with The Animals during a brief reunion and he joined them again for a further revival in 1983, at which point he sold his business interests, in order to concentrate on being a musician. During the early 1990s, he helped finance the development of Newcastle Arena, a ten-thousand seat sports and entertainment venue that opened in 1995.

Chandler died while undergoing tests related to an aortic aneurysm at Newcastle General Hospital on 17 July 1996, only days after performing his final solo show. He was 57.

When Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar, Chas Chandler was ready with the lighter fuel. When Slade were desperate for a new image, Chandler dressed the band up as skinheads.

When Chandler quit The Animals and swapped his caftan for a suit, he swiftly became one of the most respected and successful managers and producers of the rock age.

He discovered Jimi Hendrix, but it was his energy and commitment that helped turn a shy young American backing guitarist into a dynamic performer and a rock legend. Their mutual regard was based on trust and friendship. When their partnership eventually broke down, Chandler found it a bitter blow. But just before Hendrix died in September 1970, he called upon his old manager once more for help and guidance. Chas Chandler was a man that anxious artists knew they could trust.

 

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Jonathan
Melvoin
7/1996

July 12, 1996 – Jonathan David Melvoin  (Prince, the Smashing Pumpkins) was born on December 6th 1961 in Los Angeles, California. He was the brother of twins Susannah and Wendy Melvoin of Prince and the Revolution, and son of Wrecking Crew musician Mike Melvoin. He first learned to play drums at the age of five and was described by friends and relatives as a musician who could play anything.

His parents divorced when he was 14, and he moved with his mother from California to New York City and eventually to Conway, N.H.

As keyboard player and drummer; he performed with many punk bands in the ’80s such as The Dickies, and also made musical contributions to many of Susannah and Wendy Melvoin projects, as well as Prince and the Revolution’s album “Around the World in a Day”.

He was also a member of The Family, a Prince side project which produced the original recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U” and made musical contributions to many Wendy & Lisa projects, as well as to Prince and the Revolution’s album Around the World in a Day. He also played drums on Do U Lie? from the 1986 Prince & the Revolution album Parade. At the time of his death he was the (already fired) touring keyboardist for The Smashing Pumpkins during their worldwide tour for the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

In 1994, Melvoin, who worked between gigs as an emergency medical technician, and his wife, Laura, bought a home in Kearsarge, N.H., and prepared for the birth of their son Jacob August in the spring of 1995.

On July 12, 1996 Melvoin died in New York City at age 34 from a potent mixture of alcohol and heroin (specifically a substance known as Red Rum) in Manhattan’s Regency Hotel. Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, present at the scene, tried but failed to revive him. There is much mystery and speculation about what actually took place. Chamberlin was allegedly advised by 9-1-1 operators to put Melvoin’s head in the shower in an attempt to revive him until paramedics arrived.

Melvoin was pronounced dead at the scene. Chamberlin was subsequently fired from the band and criminally charged. According to the band, there had been previous overdoses by both of them. Melvoin had already been fired, but was continuing to tour with The Smashing Pumpkins until the end of the tour leg. Melvoin’s replacement was Dennis Flemion of The Frogs. His last gig with the Pumpkins was at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.

The Smashing Pumpkins were not invited to Melvoin’s funeral. Several songs were inspired by his death, including the Sarah McLachlan song “Angel”, the Wendy & Lisa song “Jonathan” (as Girl Bros.), and Prince’s “The Love We Make” from the album Emancipation.

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Jim Ellison 6/1996

June 20, 1996 – James ‘Jim’ Ellison (Material Issue) was born on April 18, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. As a teenager Jim was inspired by the likes of David Bowie, the Who, and Sweet to seriously take up guitar playing. Then while attending Chicago’s Columbia Art College he formed the powerpop band Material Issue in an effort to form a group that would merge the pop hooks of the Beatles, Cheap Trick and Big Star with a modern rock edge.

He soon got his wish, as he hooked up with fellow students Ted Ansani (bass, vocals) and Mike Zelenko (drums), forming Material Issue in 1986. With the group causing a local buzz from the get-go, Ellison also formed his own independent record label around this time, Big Block Records, which he ran out of his bedroom in Addison, Illinois.  Continue reading Jim Ellison 6/1996

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Johnny Watson 5/1996

johnny-guitar-watsonMay 17, 1996 – Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson was born on February 3rd 1935 in Houston Texas. His father John Sr. was a pianist, and taught his son the instrument. But young Watson was immediately attracted to the sound of the guitar, in particular the electric guitar as played by T-Bone Walker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.

His grandfather, a preacher, was also musical. “My grandfather used to sing while he’d play guitar in church, man,” Watson reflected many years later. When Johnny was 11, his grandfather offered to give him a guitar if, and only if, the boy didn’t play any of the “devil’s music”. Watson agreed, but later said “that was the first thing I did, play the devil’s music”. A musical prodigy, he played with Texas bluesmen Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland.

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