December 18, 2000 – Kirsty MacColl (the Pogues) was born at Mayday Hospital in Croydon (South London) on 10th October 1959. This did not make her Scottish. Or Irish. Or called Kristy. While living in Croydon, Kirsty drove a huge white BMW with fuzzy dice but no power steering. She called it Bob Marley & the Wailers.
Kirsty’s father was the legendary ‘communist’ folk singer Ewan MacColl, but she grew up seeing him only at weekends, being raised by her dancer/choreographer mother.
December 24, 2000 – Nick Massi was born Nicholas Macioci in Newark, New Jersey on September 19, 1927. Bass singer and bass guitarist for the Four Seasons, he had been playing with several bands before joining The Four Lovers in 1958.
After the group evolved into the Four Seasons in 1961, he handled bass vocals and vocal arrangements throughout the band’s glory days, which resulted in international hits such as “Sherry,” “Dawn (Go Away),” and “Rag Doll”. During his tenure, the group made the Billboard Top 40 chart 17 times and toured throughout the United States and overseas, melding doo- wop vocals with a contemporary beat. He remained with the group until 1965, when he grew tired of touring and the first antics that landed some of the band members briefly in jail. He continued his career in music however as he worked as an arranger, vocal coach, and engineer in numerous New Jersey studios, with bands such as the Baby Toys, the Carmels, and the Victorians.
It was Massi’s pop savvy that allowed the Four Seasons to be one of the few American bands, along with the Beach Boys, to weather the British invasion, as they continued to release successful singles after the arrival of The Beatles such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Rag Doll,” which friends said was his favorite.
October 3, 2000 – Benjamin Orr/Benjamin Orzechowski (The Cars) was born September 8, 1947 in Lakewood, Ohio. He learned to play many instruments including the guitar, drums, bass, and keyboards. In his early days he was known as “Bennie Eleven-Letters” and dropped out of High School to play in local bands such as Mixed Emotions and The Grasshoppers as lead singer and guitarist. The latter was the house band on the syndicated TV show Upbeat produced by WEWS-TV in Cleveland.
In 1970 he moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he met Ric Ocasek and formed a musical partnership that would continue to the end of his life. Along with lead guitarist Jas Goodkind, they formed a folk band called Milkwood. The group released one album, “How’s the Weather?” in 1972. By the mid 1970s he was working in a Boston night club band, Cap’n Swing, whose members included future Cars leader Ric Ocasek and guitarist Elliot Easton.
August 26, 2000 – Douglas Allen Woody (Allman Brothers) was born on October 3, 1955 in Nashville, Tennessee. His father, a truck driver, weaned him on the blues, country and rock oldies. Woody picked up both the mandolin and bass guitar at a very young age. Watching Paul McCartney play with the Beatles, he began learning the bass at age 14. Inspired by such bassists as Mountain’s Felix Pappalardi, Cream’s Jack Bruce, and Hot Tuna’s Jack Cassady, Woody began playing in local bands. Not long afterward he first heard the Allman Brothers Band on the radio and became interested in exploratory Southern rock. Allen started as a guitar player, but later on switched to bass.
He majored in music at at Middle Tennessee University. After graduating, he worked at local Guitarshop in Nashville for eight years, where he met Artimus Pyle, ex-drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd , who gave Allen his first big break by giving him a job as bass player for APB.
August 25, 2000 – Bernard Alfred ‘Jack’ Nitzsche was born on April 22, 1937 to German immigrant parents and raised on a farm in Newaygo, Michigan.
He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1955 to attend Westlake College of Music in Hollywood, with ambitions of becoming a jazz saxophonist. He found work copying musical scores, where he was hired by Sonny Bono, with whom he wrote the song “Needles and Pins” for Jackie DeShannon, later covered by the Searchers and many others. His own instrumental composition “The Lonely Surfer” entered Cash Box August 3, 1963, became a minor hit, as did a big-band swing arrangement of Link Wray’s “Rumble”.
When Phil Spector moved to the West Coast, Jack eventually became arranger and conductor for him and orchestrated the ambitious Wall of Sound for the song “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina Turner, “Be My Baby” for the Ronettes, “He’s a Rebel” by the Crystals and many more. He also scored his own recording contract with Reprise Records, which released his instrumental “The Lonely Surfer” in the summer of 1963.
August 16, 2000 – Alan Caddy (Johnny Kidd & the Pirates/The Tornadoes) was born on February 2nd 1940 in Chelsea, London.
Alan Caddy’s father was a dance band drummer who also ran his own jazz club. At the Emanuel School in Battersea, the young Caddy was head chorister and leader of the school orchestra. Naturally talented as a treble, he regularly sang at Westminster Cathedral and he studied the violin at the Royal Academy of Music. But he was enthralled by the emergent skiffle and rock’n’roll, and switched to the guitar. He left school at 17 and played guitar in his spare time, moving through several amateur and semi-professional groups in the Battersea area. One of those bands was the Five Nutters, a skiffle outfit that he joined in 1957, who were based in Willesden and played five nights a week at their own club, known as the KKK. They added a new singer that year, one Frederick Heath, who later started billing himself as Johnny Kidd — and in short order, they were Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.
July 28, 2000 – Jerome Smith was born on June 18th 1953 in Miami, Florida.
As a session guitarist for Miami based TK Records, Smith’s suave guitar sound first became noticed to disco fans and musicians, when he played the signature riff on George McRae’s hit song ”Rock Your Baby.’‘
In 1974 he was invited by the production team of Harry Wayne Casey (also known as K. C.) and Richard Finch to join the Sunshine Band, together with Casey, bass player Richard Finch, drummer Robert Johnson and conga player Fermin Goytisolo.
His guitar, which was altered in the studio to sound like a synthesizer, provided the hook for ”Get Down Tonight,” the band’s breakthrough No. 1 hit.
July 14, 2000 – Paul Young (Sad Café/Mike + the Mechanics) was born on 17 June 1947 in the Wythenshawe district of Manchester, England. Paul started out in the music industry when he was just fourteen, forming skiffle band Johnny Dark and the Midnights. Paul eagerly worked his way up the music world, with his first big break coming in 1964, when he was asked to replace the Toggery Five vocalist Bob Smith. The Toggery Five contained more than one future star, with future Jethro Tull members Mick Abrahams and Clive Bunker already within their ranks. Keen to establish themselves, The Toggery Five released their first single: “I’m Gonna Jump” to a controversial reception (it was a song about a guy about to jump into the river, as his girlfriend had just left him). It was duly added to a watch list by the BBC, which thusly stunted it’s success.
A few singles later, the band reshuffled to become Paul Young’s Toggery, a band which enjoyed a solid, if short lived amount of success in the UK gig scene.
March 27, 2000 – Ian Dury was born in London on May 12th 1942.
At the age of seven, he contracted polio during the 1949 polio epidemic. In 1964 he studied art at the Royal College of Art under British artist Peter Blake, and from 1967 he taught art at various colleges in the south of UK.
Ian formed the band Kilburn & the High Roads in November 1970, he was vocalist and lyricist, co-writing with pianist Russell Hardy. But Ian rose to fame later in the 1970s, during the Punk and New Wave era of rock music, as founder, frontman and lead singer of the British band Ian Dury and the Blockheads, who were amongst the most important groups of the New Wave era in the UK.
February 7, 2000 – David Jack “Dave” Peverett aka Lonesome Dave (Foghat) was born April 16, 1943 in Dulwich, South East London.
In the formative pre-Beatles early Sixties, he was the vocalist and lead guitarist of The Nocturnes, which included his brother John Peverett (later to be Rod Stewart’s road manager, before becoming a Baptist pastor in the USA) on drums, and Brixton neighbour Al “Boots” Collins (later to be editor of tourist magazines in the West Indies and Middle East) on tenor sax. The Nocturnes achieved London popularity as a pub and club band and provided backing for other performers at a recording studio in Soho.
Then, after a brief tour with Swiss blues band, Les Questions, Dave joined Savoy Brown as a rhythm guitarist, eventually also taking over as lead singer and adding the nickname Lonesome Dave. After five albums with Savoy Brown, he decided to pursue his own path, along with drummer Roger Earl and taking bassist Tony Stevens with them.
February 12, 2000 – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (I Put a Spell on You) was born July 18th 1929 in Cleveland Ohio. Hawkins studied classical piano as a child and learned guitar in his twenties. His initial goal was to become an opera singer (Hawkins has cited Paul Robeson as his musical idol in interviews), but when his initial ambitions failed he began his career as a conventional blues singer and pianist. Hawkins was also an avid and formidable boxer. In 1949, he was the middleweight boxing champion of Alaska. In 1951, he joined guitarist Tiny Grimes’s band, and was subsequently featured on some of Grimes’s recordings. When Hawkins became a solo performer, he often performed in a stylish wardrobe of leopard skins, red leather and wild hats.
As a singer, songwriter and actor he was famed chiefly for his powerful, operatic vocal delivery, and wildly theatrical performances of songs such as “I Put a Spell on You”. He sometimes used macabre props onstage, making him an early pioneer of shock rock.
February 12, 2000 – William Oliver Swofford was born on February 22, 1945 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He began singing as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the mid 1960s. He was a member of two popular music groups — The Virginians and, later, The Good Earth — and was then known as Bill Swofford.
His clean-cut good looks and soaring tenor voice were the perfect vehicle for the uptempo single entitled “Good Morning Starshine” from the pop/rock musical Hair, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1969, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. a month later. Later that fall, a softer, ballad single entitled “Jean” (the theme from the Oscar-winning film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) bested his previous effort by one, reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. Written by poet Rod McKuen, “Jean” also sold over one million copies, garnering Oliver his second gold disc in as many months. Performing both hits on a number of TV variety shows and specials in the late 1960s, including The Ed Sullivan Show, helped both songs.
February 4, 2000 – Doris Coley (The Shirelles) was born August 2nd 1941 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, but spend her formative and teenage years in Passaic New Jersey, where Doris became a founding member and occasional lead singer of the Shirelles in 1958. The four teenagers, Beverly Lee of Passaic and Shirley Alston Reeves (born Shirley Owens) of Hillside and Addie “Mickie” Harris did not graduate with their class of 1958, but they earned diplomas later.
Instead they went on to release a string of hits including “Baby It’s You” , “Mama Said”, “Foolish Little Girl”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, “Soldier Boy” and “Sha La La”. Doris sang lead on “Dedicated to the One I Love”, “Welcome Home Baby”, “Blue Holiday” and a number of ‘b’ sides and album cuts.
January 20, 2000 – Ray Jones was born October 22nd 1939 in Liverpool, England. In 1963 Brian Epstein signed The Dakotas to be a backing band for Billy J. Kramer. Billy had been friends with John Lennon for some time and John gave the group a demo of a new song, “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, which they perfected whilst working in Hamburg at the Star Club. On returning to Britain, the song was recorded at Abbey Road studios, with producer George Martin. It stormed up the charts and reached No.2 in the spring of 1963.
This was followed by a No.1 hit “Bad to Me” c/w “I Call Your Name”, and was awarded a gold disc, followed by another hit with “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”. In addition to backing Billy J on his hits, the group itself is perhaps best known for their instrumental single called “The Cruel Sea”, which reached No.18 in the UK charts in July 1963.
Ray Jones had joined the band as bassist replacing Ian Fraser and Mike Maxfield joined the band in February 1962 as lead guitarist replacing Bryn Jones after being with a Manchester band called the Coasters. The group first backed Pete MacLaine (February 1962 – January 1963). However, Brian Epstein, who was managing Billy J. Kramer, made the Dakotas an offer to become Kramer’s backing band, which they accepted. Epstein insisted the name was Billy J Kramer with The Dakotas, not “and”. The group and Billy J Kramer then went to Hamburg to perfect their act.
In addition to backing Kramer on his hits, the group itself is perhaps best known for their instrumental single called “The Cruel Sea”, a composition of Maxfield that reached No.18 in the UK charts in July 1963. The track was re-titled “The Cruel Surf” in the U.S., and was subsequently covered by The Ventures.
The band released by “Magic Carpet” by George Martin in September 1963. It was not a hit. Their next single, “Oyeh” (November 1964), was not a chart success either. After a row with Epstein, Ray Jones left the group in July 1964. Robin MacDonald moved to bass to make way for a new lead guitarist, Mick Green from Johnny Kidd and The Pirates.
Ray Jones never went back into professional music and died from an undisclosed cause on January 20, 2000 at age 60.