December 8, 2004 – Dimebagg Darrell Lance Abbott was born on August 20, 1966 and took up the guitar when he was twelve, with his first being a Hondo Les Paul along with a small amplifier. Upon winning a series of local guitar competitions, most notably held at the Agora Theatre and Ballroom in Dallas, Texas, Abbott was awarded a Dean ML.
At age 15 Abbott formed Pantera in 1981 with his brother Vinnie Paul on drums. The band mainly reflected their early influences in those days with thrash metal acts such as Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica as well as traditional metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Judas Priest.
While the majority of acclaimed hard rock guitarists of the early ’90s focused primarily on songwriting rather than shredding away, there were a few exceptions to the rule, like Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell. Continue reading Dimebag Darrell 12/2004
October 1, 2004 – Bruce Palmer (Buffalo Springfield bassist) was born in Nova Scotia on September 9, 1946. He was raised in Toronto, Canada, where he began playing music at age 10. He played in the Mynah Birds with a young Rick James, who passed away just a few months earlier, which would eventually also include fellow Canadian Neil Young. Mynah Birds auditioned for Motown Records but split when James left the band.
He went on to co-found Buffalo Springfield in April 1966 in Toronto with Young, Stephen Stills, Dewey Martin and Richie Furay. Over just 19 months in 1967 and ’68, the group established itself as a folk/country/rock pioneer, producing the transcendent political anthem “For What It’s Worth”.
Continue reading Bruce Palmer 10/2004
September 15, 2004 – Johnny Ramone was born John William Cummings on October 8, 1948 and died of prostrate cancer at age 55. He was the rhythm guitarist, songwriter for the Ramones, a New York rock band that held Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status.
A rebel in a rebel’s world, Johnny was raised Queens, N.Y., where as a teenager, he played in a band called the Tangerine Puppets with future Ramones drummer Tamás Erdélyi aka Tommy Ramone. Influenced by the likes of the Stooges and MC5, in 1974 he co-founded “The Ramones”, often regarded as the first punk rock group, with Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone. They went on to perform 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. The Ramones were a major influence on the punk rock movement in the US and the UK, though they achieved only minor commercial success. Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania.
Continue reading Johnny Ramone 9/2004
August 31, 2004 – Carl Wayne (the Move/The Hollies) was born Colin David Tooley on August 18th 1943 in Winson Green, Birmingham, England. Carl grew up in the Hodge Hill district of Birmingham. Inspired by the American rock’n’roll of Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, he formed The G-Men in the late 1950s, and joined local band The Vikings, where his powerful baritone and pink stage suit helped make them one of the leading rock groups in the Midlands of their time.
In 1963 they followed in the footsteps of the Beatles and other Liverpool bands, by performing in the clubs of Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Nuremberg etc. On returning to Birmingham, in the wake of the Beatles’ success, record companies were keen to sign similar guitar bands. The Vikings went with Pye Records, but all three singles failed to chart.
Continue reading Carl Wayne 8/2004
August 26, 2004 – Laura Branigan was born on July 3, 1952 in Mount Kisco, New York. Her childhood in Armonk during the ’50s included her years at Byram Hills High School, where she graduated in 1970, and her time at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, which she graduated from in 1972.
Though singing seemed to run in her family—her grandmother had studied opera in Ireland, and both her parents had good voices and led the family in singing at the dinner table—Branigan had no ambitions to pursue a vocalist’s career in her youth. In high school she was extremely shy; she did, however, enjoy singing harmony with friends and performing in her church choir. To help Branigan overcome her shyness, one of her teachers persuaded her to try out for the school musical in her senior year. Branigan did, won the lead in Pajama Game, and discovered her calling. She reminisced for a Seventeen interviewer: “It was amazing. Once I was up there, I felt a tremendous confidence. I realized this was my way of expressing myself—and that was it.”
Continue reading Laura Branigan 8/2004
August 6, 2004 – Rick James was born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr on February 1st 1948 in Buffalo, New York. He was one of eight children. James’ father, an autoworker, left the family when James was ten. His mother was a dancer for Katherine Dunham, and later ran errands for the Mafia to earn a living. James’ mother would take him on her collecting route, and it was in bars where she worked that James got to see performers such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Etta James perform.
When he found himself ordered to Vietnam in 1965, he fled for Toronto, where he made friendships with then-local musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. To avoid being caught by military authorities, James went under the assumed name, “Ricky James Matthews”. That same year, James formed the Mynah Birds, a band that produced a fusion of soul, folk and rock music. The band briefly recorded for the Canadian division of Columbia Records, releasing the single, “Mynah Bird Hop”/”Mynah Bird Song”.
Continue reading Rick James 8/2004
July 13, 2004 – Arthur Kane Jr. (the New York Dolls) was born on February 3, 1949 in New York, the only child of Erna and Harold Kane. Arthur was close to his mother and her aunt, his Aunt Millie, who used to like to listen to Elvis records. The first word that he learned as a young child was “record.” When Arthur was seventeen, his mother died of cancer (leukemia). His father was an abusive alcoholic, and when he quickly remarried, Arthur left home for good.
He graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens. He first played bass in the band Actress along with other original New York Dolls: Johnny Thunders, Rick Rivets and Billy Murcia.
Continue reading Arthur Kane 7/2004
July 6, 2004 – Syreeta Wright was born on August 3, 1946.
Wright was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1946, and started singing at age four. Her father died while serving in the Korean War and Wright and her two sisters, Yvonne and Kim, were raised by their mother Essie and their grandmother. The Wrights moved back and forth from Detroit to South Carolina before finally settling in Detroit just as Wright entered high school.
Money problems kept Wright from pursuing a career in ballet so she focused her attention on a music career joining several singing groups before landing a job as a receptionist for Motown in 1965. Within a year, she became a secretary for Mickey Stevenson, just as Martha Reeves had done before her.
Continue reading Syreeta Wright 7/2004
June 10, 2004 – Ray Charles Robinson was born September 23, 1930 and became an American singer-songwriter, musician and composer sometimes referred to as “The Genius”.
Ray Charles, a Grammy-winning bluesman/crooner who blended gospel and blues in such crowd-pleasers as “What’d I Say” and heartfelt ballads like “Georgia on My Mind” died from liver failure on Thursday, June 10, 2004 at age 73.
Charles died at his Beverly Hills home surrounded by family and friends, said spokesman Jerry Digney.
Charles last public appearance was alongside Clint Eastwood on April 30, when the city of Los Angeles designated the singer’s studios, built 40 years ago in central Los Angeles, as a historic landmark. Continue reading Ray Charles 6/2004
May 15, 2004 – Clint Warwick (The Moody Blues) was born Albert Clinton Eccles in Aston, Birmingham, England on June 25, 1940.
Clint started his music career in the late 1950s when he joined Danny King & The Dukes, and from there helped form the early UK rock band The Moody Blues, and was the original bassist in 1964. The Moody Blues released one album with Clint on bass, “Go Now – The Moody Blues” which reached No.1 in the UK charts.
The album yielded the hit single, “Go Now”, which reached No.1 in the UK and the Top Ten in the U.S. – a cover of a nearly identical American single by R&B singer Bessie Banks, heavily featuring a mournful lead vocal – and earned them a berth in some of the nation’s top performing venues (including the New Musical Express Poll Winners Concert, appearing with some of the top acts of the period); its number ten chart placement in America also earned them a place as a support act for the Beatles on one tour, and the release of a follow-up LP (Magnificent Moodies in England, Go Now in America) on both sides of the Atlantic.
Continue reading Clint Warwick 5/2004
April 6, 2004 – Niki Sullivan (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) was born June 23rd 1937 in South Gate, California. During the summer of 1956, the 19-year-old Sullivan first met Holly, by way of his high school friend Jerry Allison, at a jam session in Lubbock, Texas. Holly was impressed by his guitar-playing talents and offered him the chance to join both of them, as well as Joe B. Mauldin in a band. Sullivan readily accepted the offer, and thus the Crickets were born.
While trying to record “Peggy Sue” after many unsatisfactory takes, Sullivan ended up kneeling next to Holly while he played, and when cued flipped a switch on Holly’s Stratocaster, allowing him to break into the now-famous rhythm guitar solo. He also helped sing on back up and arrange the music to “Not Fade Away” (which he helped write), “I’m Gonna Love You Too”, “That’ll Be the Day” and “Maybe Baby”. It was around this period that he also wrote and produced the single “Look to the Future,” which was recorded by Gary Tollett and The Picks, who often did back-up vocals for the Crickets.
Continue reading Niki Sullivan 4/2004
April 1, 2004 – Paul Atkinson (The Zombies) was born March 19, 1946 in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, and educated at St Albans School. At St Albans, Atkinson met Rod Argent and Hugh Grundy and the three formed a band initially called the Mustangs.
Colin Blunstone and Paul Arnold joined the new band in early 1961, but Arnold left in 1963 and was replaced by Chris White. After the group won a local contest, they recorded a demo as their prize. Argent’s song “She’s Not There” got them a deal with Decca and was a hit in the UK, the European continent and the US.
The group continued to record successfully through the early 1960s, but disbanded in December of 1967, shortly after finishing their final album “Odyssey & Oracle,” reportedly over management disagreements. The album including megahits “Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season”.
Continue reading Paul Atkinson 4/2004
March 26, 2004 – Jan William Berry (Jan and Dean) was born April 3rd 1941 in Los Angeles California. His mother was born in Norway and his dad was the project engineer for Howard Hughes “Spruce Goose”, the largest flying boat ever built, with a wing span of one inch short of 320 feet. He flew on the plane’s only flight with Howard Hughes.
Berry and Dean Ormsby Torrence , both born in Los Angeles, California, met while students at Emerson Junior High School in Westwood, Los Angeles, and both were on the school’s football team. By 1957, they were students in the Vagabond Class of 1958 at the nearby University High School, where again they were on the school’s football team, the Warriors. Berry and Torrence had adjoining lockers, and after football practice, they began harmonizing together in the showers with several other football players, including future actor James Brolin.
They had a No.10 hit with “Baby Talk” in 1959.
Continue reading Jan Berry 3/2004
March 4, 2004 – John McGeoch (Siouxsie and the Banshees) was born August 25th 1955 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
He acquired his first guitar when he was 12 and first learned to play guitar playing British blues songs, including the repertoire of Hendrix and Clapton. In 1970 he played in a local band called The Slugband. In 1971 he moved to London with his family, and in 1975 he began to attend Manchester Polytechnic, where he studied art.
McGeoch had a degree in fine art and an ongoing interest in photography, painting and drawing. He provided some of the cover art for his future band The Armoury Show, years later.
He also played with a number of bands of the post-punk era, including Magazine; Visage and Public Image Ltd.
After joining Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1980, McGeoch entered a period of both creative and commercial success.
Continue reading John McGeoch 3/2004
Feb 23, 2004 – Bob “Bobby” Mayo (Peter Frampton) was born on August 25, 1951 in New York City, and grew up in Westchester County. He began studying music at the age of five, focusing on classical piano. During the 1960s, Mayo’s interest in music grew due to the rock explosion. His first band was Ramble and the Descendants, where he played organ and sang. Mayo played with several other local bands and had plans to attend Juilliard School in New York City. His career took a detour when he suffered injuries in a serious car accident at the age of seventeen, but Bob was determined and he was able to move on.
In 1971, Mayo formed Doc Holliday with Frank Carillo, Tom Arlotta, and Bob Liggio. He then joined Rat Race Choir (73-74) one of the Tri-State area’s best bands, playing guitar. He then left RRC, was replaced with Mark Hitt and teamed up with Peter Frampton and joined his touring band. Because of this, he appeared on Peter Frampton’s album Frampton Comes Alive!. It was on this recording that Peter Frampton introduced Mayo with the words “Bob Mayo on the keyboards… Bob Mayo,” which has since become something of a legend among Peter Frampton fans. Mayo also appeared on the Peter Frampton albums I’m in You and Where I Should Be.
Continue reading Bob Mayo 2/2004
February 16, 2004 – Doris Troy was born Doris Elaine Higginsen on January 6, 1937 in the Bronx, New York. She was the daughter of a Barbadian Pentecostal minister but later took her grandmother’s name and grew up as Doris Payne. Her stage name came from Helen of Troy. Her parents disapproved of “subversive” forms of music like rhythm & blues, so she cut her teeth singing in her father’s choir. She was working as an usherette at the Apollo where she was discovered by James Brown. Troy worked with Solomon Burke, The Drifters, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick, before she co-wrote and recorded “Just One Look”, which hit #10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.
“Just One Look” was the only charting US hit for Troy. The song was recorded in 10 minutes on October 1962, with producer Buddy Lucas, as a demo for Atlantic Records. However, after Atlantic Records heard the demo, they decided not to re-record it, but release it as is.
Continue reading Doris Troy 2/2004
February 3, 2004 – Cornelius Bumpus was born on May 7, 1945 in Santa Cruz, California. Bumpus began his career at the age of ten, playing alto saxophone in his school band in Santa Cruz, California. He put his love of music down to his parents’ record collection – it included early Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fats Domino and James Brown. By the time Bumpus was 12, he was already landing gigs, playing at Portuguese dances in central California.
In 1966, he spent six months performing with the Bobby Freeman band, then embarked on a series of ventures as he honed his talent. In 1977, he joined Moby Grape, writing one tune for their Live Grape album. He also recorded two solo albums and toured with his own band.
Continue reading Cornelius Bumpus 2/2004
January 28, 2004 – Mel Pritchard was born in Oldham, Lancashire, England on January 20th 1948.
Mel and lifelong friend Les Holroyd were together at Derker Secondary Modern school where they joined a school band, then went on to form Heart and Soul and Oldham blues-rock band called The Wickeds. The band gained a good reputation playing semi-professional gigs. After adding two members from a rival band, the Keepers, the group emerged as Barclay James Harvest in 1966.
Continue reading Mel Pritchard 1/2004
January 12, 2004 – Randy VanWarmer was born Randall Van Wormer, the third of four boys, in Indian Hills, Colorado on March 30th 1955. His parents were very active in the community church, so Randy was practically born singing standards from the old Baptist hymnbook.
His father, Roger VanWormer, was killed in a car accident when Randy was 12. At 15, three years after the death of his father he moved with his mother to Looe, a small fishing village on the Southwest coast of Cornwall, England. It was here, during England’s long winter days that Randy began writing songs and playing the folk clubs around Cornwall.
While still a teenager, a girlfriend from the United States came to visit England, and spent several months with him. She then returned home and this experience with the girl ultimately became the inspiration for his one hit song.
VanWarmer has said however that the song “Just When I Needed You Most” is really about the weather. “It’s not hard to write a really sad song in the winter in Cornwall,” he was quoted saying. Allegedly, he worked, for a while, in the Fish & Chip Shop close to the Three Pilchards pub on Quay Street in Polperro, Cornwall.
Continue reading Randy VanWarmer 1/2004