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Mike Botts 12/2005

220px-Mikebotts-1Dec 9, 2005 – Mike Botts (Bread) was born Michael Gene Botts on Dec 8, 1944 in Oakland, Ca.  while still at college he played with a band called The Travelers Three and worked as a studio musician. He was working with Tony Medley when he met David Gates and became a member of Bread from 1970 to ’74, after which he toured and recorded with Linda Ronstadt for 2 years. He reunited with Bread in ’76 to ’78 for one final album and world tour. His always continued his session and studio career – working, recording and touring with the likes of Karla Bonoff, Andrew Gold, Richard Carpenter and Dan Fogelberg. In 1996, the members of Bread once again reunited for a world tour that ran until the fall of 1997. He also contributed to several soundtracks for films and finally recorded his only solo album, Adults Only, released in 2000.

In Mike’s own words a flashback of his life in music:

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Chris Whitley 11/2005

Chris WhitleyNovember 20, 2005 – Christopher Becker Whitley was born August 31, 1960, in Houston, Texas to a restless, artistic couple: His mother was a sculptress and painter; his father worked as an art director in a series of advertising jobs. As a family, they traveled through the Southwest, with many of the images the young boy absorbed finding their way later into songs. He once described his parents’ music taste as formed “by race radio in the South.” The real deal — Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf — seeped into their son’s soul, eventually leading to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

Chris’s parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and he moved with his mother to a small cabin in Vermont. It was there that he learned to play guitar. Hearing Johnny Winter’s “Dallas” was the seed for what would develop as Chris’s keening instrumental style.

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Roger Ridley 11/2005

rogerinaction3November 16, 2005 – Milton Lee “Roger” Ridley Jr. also known as “Buh-Buh”, “Ajax” and “Big Man” was born April 30th 1948 and called home from labor to reward on November 16, 2005. Roger was a street performer with a voice that could have made millions, but he decided early on that he was in the “JOY” business when it came to sharing his music and thus, just 6 months before his untimely passing, he became the beaming landmark inspiration for Playing For Change, which has turned into a global force for children’s music education and peace.

This video explains why Roger Ridley is a Legend in my book:

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Link Wray 11/2005

Link WaryNovember 5, 2005 – Link Wray (Frederic Lincoln) was born in Dunn, North Carolina on May 2nd, 1929. Link’s family was very poor.  As Link has said, “Elvis came from welfare, I came from below welfare.”  Link’s mom was Shawnee Indian sporting his interest in music when Link was 8.  He was sitting on the porch trying to play guitar when an old black guitar player named HAMBONE walked by and taught him the sound of the blues.  Link has said as soon as HAMBONE started playing bottleneck slide guitar, he was hooked.  He knew what he wanted to do. At age 13, Link’s family moved to Portsmouth, Virginia.

Link’s first band was in the late 40’s with his brothers Vernon and Doug, playing Western Swing. As Link put it, “rock and roll before it was rock and roll.”

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Mike Gibbins 10/2005

˚¸¸˚October 4, 2005 – Mike Gibbins (Badfinger) was born on March 12th 1949. He was the left-handed Welsh drummer who became a member of the Iveys, later renamed Badfinger, after “Badfinger Boogie”, an unused title for a Lennon-McCartney composition.

He helped form The Iveys in 1965 and his powerful playing helped push the Iveys to a new level of proficiency and by the end of the year the group was being booked as an opening act for local appearances by the likes of the Who, the Yardbirds, the Moody Blues, and the Spencer Davis Group and was a popular attraction on the London club scene.

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Gatemouth Brown 9/2005

Clarence Gatemouth BrownSeptember 10, 2005 – Gatemouth Brown was born Clarence Brown on April 18, 1924 in Vinton, Louisiana. He learned to play an impressive array of instruments such as guitar, fiddle, mandolin, viola as well as harmonica and drums. His professional musical career began in 1945, playing drums in San Antonio, Texas. He was nicknamed the “Gatemouth” by a high school instructor who told him of having a “voice like a gate”.

For more than 50 years he performed his unique blend of blues, R&B, country, jazz, and Cajun music being a virtuoso on guitar, violin, harmonica, mandolin, viola, and even drums, Gatemouth has influenced performers as diverse as Albert Collins, Frank Zappa, Lonnie Brooks, Eric Clapton, and Joe Louis Walker.

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown started playing fiddle by age 5. At 10, he taught himself an odd guitar picking style he used all his life, dragging his long, bony fingers over the strings.

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Carlo Little 8/2005

Carlo Little of the All StarsAugust 6, 2005 – Carlo Little aka Carl O’Neil Little was born on December 17, 1938 in Shepherd’s Bush, London and raised in Wembley, Middlesex where some of his townpeeps were Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and Charlie Watts. Apparently the town was a breeding ground for famous drummers.

In 1960 after coming out of the service, he met David Sutch and they formed The Savages with amongst others Nicky Hopkins who lived locally. Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages toured the UK and became known for their unique British rock and roll shows. The bulk of the band members, including Little, left in 1962 to join the Cyril Davies All Stars, and recorded a single “Country Line Special”, an instrumental track which influenced Keith Richards and Ray Davies in their guitar playing. He also played a few gigs with the young Rolling Stones and was asked by Brian Jones to join permanently before they hired Charlie Watts as their official drummer in January 1963. In 1998, during the Stones’ European tour, he was invited as an official guest backstage at one of their Paris concerts.

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Little Milton 8/2005

August 4, 2005 – Little Milton was born James Milton Campbell on September 7, 1934, in the small Delta town of Inverness, Mississippi, and grew up in Greenville. (He would later legally drop the “James” after learning of a half-brother with the same name.)

His father Big Milton, a farmer, was a local blues musician, and Milton also grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry radio program. At age 12, he began playing the guitar and saved up money from odd jobs to buy his own instrument from a mail-order catalog.

By 15, he was performing for pay in local clubs and bars, influenced chiefly by T-Bone Walker but also by proto-rock & roll jump blues shouters.

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Les Braid 7/2005

July 31, 2005 – Les Braid (the Swinging Blue Jeans) was born on September 15, 1937 in Liverpool, England. Braid was an accomplished pianist by the time he left his Formby secondary school and began an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. In 1958, he joined a skiffle group on bass, and then gravitated to the Bluegenes, who initially mixed skiffle and traditional jazz. The Bluegenes had big ambitions; they wore uniform jeans and blazers, had cards designed by teenage cartoonist Bill Tidy, and even bought a van to get to gigs.

The group’s origins go back to 1957, when singer/guitarist Ray Ennis decided to form a band. The result was a skiffle sextet called “the Bluegenes” — the latter a misspelling of “blue jeans” that remained unchanged for a couple of years. Surprisingly, Ennis had already played rock & roll, but — in a manner the opposite of many other young musicians of the time — he regarded skiffle as an advancement; equally surprisingly, given their later work, the Bluegenes were heavily jazz influenced, and stayed away from trying to cover songs associated with Elvis Presley and other American rock & rollers, preferring instead to try and emulate the horn and sax parts that they heard on their guitars.

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Long John Baldry 7/2005

July 21, 2005 – Long John Baldry  was born on January 12th 1941 in London*, England. (*Conflicting evidence exists about Baldry’s birthplace. Some say he was born in the village of Haddon. VH1’s profile of Baldry states he was born in the village of East Maddon, while Allmusic.com states he was born in London. The documentary Long John Baldry: In the Shadow of the Blues states that his mother escaped London during The Blitz to give birth in Northampton, making East Haddon his most likely birthplace.)

Long John begun his career playing folk and jazz in the late 50s, he toured with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott before moving into R&B.

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Laurel Aitken 7/2005

July 17, 2005 – Laurel Aitken/Lorenzo Aitken (the Godfather of Ska) was born in Cuba of mixed Cuban and Jamaican descent on April 22nd 1927. His family settled in Jamaica in 1938 and he went on to become Jamaica’s first real recording star.

His first recordings in the late 1950s were mento tunes such as “Nebuchnezer”, “Sweet Chariot” and “Baba Kill Me Goat”. Progressing to a pre-ska shuffle, his 1958 single “Little Sheila”/”Boogie in My Bones” was one of the first records produced by Chris Blackwell, who founded his Island Records label that year, and the first Jamaican popular music record to be released in the UK.

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Dennis D’Ell 7/2005

July 6, 2005 – Dennis D’Ell (the Honeycombs) was born Denis James Dalziel on October 14, 1943 in Whitecapel, London, England. His father was the son of a lorry driver, in Stepney, east London and Dennis trained as a signalman for British Railways. He was also a plumber before joining the Sheratons which became later the Honeycombs.

Encouraged by his railroad co-workers he entered and won a talent contest in 1963. A number of news articles imply that the talent contest led directly to Denis joining the Honeycombs, however it was a chance conversation between Martin Murray and a mutual friend which led to them hooking up.

Martin Murray and Alan Ward on guitars, John Lantree on bass, and his sister Anne Lantree on drums had a local semi-pro band called the Sheratons. Shortly afterwards the band auditioned with maverick producer Joe Meek, agreed on a management deal with new songwriters Howard and Blaikley, signed to Pye records, and changed their name to The Honeycombs. As Anne’s nickname was “Honey” and she and Murray were hairdressers (that is, combers), they became “the Honeycombs”, as suggested by Louis Benjamin (1922–1994), Pye’s later chairman, a pun on the drummer’s name and her job as a hairdresser’s assistant.

BBC employees and budding songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley recorded some demonstration records of their songs, including “Have I the Right?” with the Honeycombs.

Joe Meek offered to record them but went into a tantrum when they arrived late to meet him due to London traffic. Howard and Blaikley won him round and “Have I the Right?” was recorded in three parts – the backing musicians, the vocals and then the stomping on the stairs. While they were jumping up and down, the cleaning lady called and told them to hurry up.

Conspicuous in “Have I the Right?” is the prominence of the drums, whose effect was enhanced by members of the group stamping their feet on the wooden stairs to the studio. Meek recorded the effect with five microphones he had fixed to the banisters with bicycle clips. For the finishing touch someone beat a tambourine directly onto a microphone. The recording was also somewhat sped up.

Leased to Pye Records, “Have I the Right?” was promoted by the pirate station Radio Caroline and the publicity surrounding a group with a girl drummer was enormous. The sales started slowly, but by the end of July the record started to climb in the UK Singles Chart. Honey Lantree’s status as a female drummer in a top band wasn’t just a visual novelty, she genuinely could play drums. At the end of August the record reached No. 1. “Have I the Right?” was also a big success outside the UK, hitting No. 1 in Australia and Canada, No. 3 in Ireland, No. 5 in the US and No. 2 in the Netherlands. Overall sales of the record reached a million.

The group toured Europe, The Far East, Japan and Australia soon after the song had become a hit. They went on tour to the Far East and Australia, and were not able to promote their later records at home. The tour gained them a long-lasting popularity in Japan, however. Especially for the Japanese market the group produced a live album and a single, “Love in Tokyo”. The group also made a lasting impression in Sweden, where they scored two No. 1 singles.

The Honeycombs had further success with “Is It Because?” and made the album It’s the Honeycombs (1964), but D’Ell was uncomfortable with Meek’s speeded-up trickery and criticized him in an interview with New Musical Express. Meek then recorded the Ray Davies song “Something Better Beginning” at standard speed, admittedly with some distortion, but the record only nudged into the Top Forty. When Meek resorted to his regular activities, the Honeycombs had another Top Twenty hit, with “That’s the Way”, and made the album All Systems Go!

In August 1965 the group released, “That’s the Way”, with Honey Lantree sharing vocals with D’Ell (when on tour, Viv Prince of The Pretty Things took over the drumming). This record became their fourth British hit and reached No. 12. Its successor, “This Year Next Year”, again with Lantree and D’Ell sharing vocals, did not reach the UK chart. The group floundered after Meek’s suicide in 1967. They split up and did not reform until 1994.

D’Ell sang and played harmonica on all but the last single the group recorded. “Who Is Sylvia?” was an adaptation of Franz Schubert’s song “An Sylvia”. “It’s So Hard” was also recorded by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich as “Hard to Love You”.

In April 1966 Denis D’Ell, Alan Ward and Peter Pye left the group. D’Ell became a solo singer, usually of soul songs, and his “Better Use Your Head” (1967) became a 1970s favorite on the Northern Soul circuit.

In the early seventies Denis formed a band with Rod Butler called Zarabanda and also fronted the Don Harvey band.

• In 1975 he won a controversial victory in a national talent show.
• In April 1976 he released Home Is Home / Morning Without You
• In the 1980s he was with The Southside Blues Band.
• In 1983 he appeared in an episode of The Time Of Your Life
• In 1994 the MKII version of The Honeycombs reformed for a 30th anniversary gig, and around that time they recorded a cover of “Live And Let Die” for a compilation album Cult Themes from the 70s Volume 2 on Future Legend Records.
• During the nineties and into the new millennium he was with a duo called “The Shuffle Brothers” with Tommy Dunn (who also played with blues band National Gold) and sometimes Andy Robinson Andy Robinson Band who would depp for Tommy.

Andy Robinson, who played with him in later years said “Working with Dennis was a real pleasure and great learning curve. We used to play a pub in Southend on Sea called the “Minerva” on a Sunday, playing sometimes from midday to midnight and I don’t ever think he repeated a song once. His knowledge was enormous as was his talent and sound.
The last time I saw him was at a fundraising gig in Saffron Walden football club, his appearance was heartbreaking, he died soon after.”

On July 6, 2005 he lost his battle with cancer at the age of 61.

What is not so well known is that Denis did not particularly like the music that made him famous. He was critical of Joe Meek’s recording techniques. He said “There was always contention between us and Joe that he never recorded the band the way we sounded. He was fond of speeding us up so that I ended up sounding like Mickey Mouse. He liked to compress everything and put on so much echo ─ we ended up like the Tornados with a singer.”

In an August 1964 NME article, he gives his favourite singers as Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Brook Benton and favourite artists/instrumetalists as Ray Coniff, Floyd Cramer, Chet Atkins, and Bill Black. 

In the summer of 1964 Denis saw a band called ‘Dave Dee and the Bostons’ and liked them. He got them a slot supporting The Honeycombs and showed them to managers Howard and Blaikley who took the band on, changing the name to ‘Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Titch’. The deal between The Honeycombs and Howard and Blaikley required that the Honeycombs got first refusal of all new songs written by the pair. If they turned a song down then it would go to Dave Dee. 

After Martin Murray left The Honeycombs the mantle of band leader naturally fell to D’Ell. Since Denis preferred blues to pop he turned down a lot of songs. In fact The Honeycombs second album only has three Howard and Blaikley numbers on it compared to the first which only had three songs NOT penned by the pair. 
Naturally those songs were offered to Dave Dee. So songs like ‘All I Want’, ‘No Time’, ‘You Make It Move’, 1965; and (among many others) ‘Bend It’ 1966 might have been Honeycombs songs.

Music must have been in Dennis’s blood since not only did he remain in the music business through thick and thin until his untimely death in 2005, but also his brother Laurie still plays bass to this day in various bands, including Medicine Hat.

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Ray Davis 7/2005

ray-davisJuly 5, 2005 – Ray Davis (P-Funk) was born March 29, 1940 in Sumter, South Carolina and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving to Plainfield in 1958, where he resided until 1968.

He was the original bass singer and one of the founding members of The Parliaments, and subsequently the bands Parliament, and Funkadelic, collectively known as P-Funk. His regular nickname while he was with those groups was “Sting Ray” Davis. Aside from George Clinton, he was the only original member of the Parliaments not to leave the Parliament-Funkadelic conglomerate in 1977. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. Continue reading Ray Davis 7/2005

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Shirley Goodman 7/2005

shirley-goodmanJuly 5, 2005 – Shirley Goodman was born on June 19th 1936 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Goodman first developed her piercing vocal style in her Baptist church choir, additionally harmonizing with friends on area street corners. She made her official debut at age nine, appearing in a local amateur revue. When she was 13, Goodman joined with several schoolmates to record the demo “I’m Gone,” produced by Cosimo Matassa — when Matassa played the master for Aladdin Records owner Eddie Messner some months later, the exec pinpointed Goodman’s high-pitched wail and tracked the girl down, offering her a record deal and partnering her with another local teen, Leonard Lee, a longtime family friend whose deep, bluesy voice proved an ideal complement. With Dave Bartholomew installed as producer, Shirley & Lee cut their debut single, “I’m Gone,” opting against traditional harmonies in favor of a contrasting boy-girl duet structure that would prove deeply influential on the development of ska and reggae.

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Luther Vandross 7/2005

luther_vandrossJuly 1, 2005 – Luther Vandross was born on April 20th 1951 in Manhattan, New York to Luther and Mary Ida Vandross. He was the youngest of the four Vandross children.

He attended Taft High School but cut short his formal education at the Western Michigan University to answer his musical calling. He was studying Engineering. After leaving college, Luther worked a series of odd jobs, including a Teacher’s aide at a Junior High School and a customer service rep at S&H Green Stamps.

As a teenager, he worked with the musical theatre workshop, Listen My Brother. The workshop was affiliated with Harlem’s Apollo Theatre.

It was at this workshop he met lifetime friends and colleagues Nat Adderly Jr (who later became his band director), Carlos Alomar, and Robin Clark. Listen My Brother” performed on the very first episode of Sesame Street aired in November 1969.

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Obie Benson 7/2005

the four topsJuly 1, 2005 – Obie Benson (the Four Tops) was born on June 14th 1937 in Detroit, Michigan. The Four Tops were products of Detroit’s North End where Benson attended Northern High School with Lawrence Payton. They met Levi Stubbs and Abdul “Duke” Fakir while singing at a friend’s birthday party in 1954 and decided to form a group called the Four Aims. Roquel Billy Davis, who was Payton’s cousin, was a fifth member of the group for a time and a songwriter for the group. Davis played an instrumental role in the group being signed by Chess Records who were mainly interested in Davis’s songwriting ability. The group changed their name to the Four Tops to avoid confusion with the Ames Brothers and had one single “Kiss Me Baby” released through Chess which failed to chart. The Four Tops left Chess although Davis stayed with the company.

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Pierre Moerlen 5/2005

pierre-moerlenMay 2, 2005 – Pierre Moerlen (Gong) was born on October 23, 1952 in the French Alsace Wine region.  The third of five children, his father Maurice Moerlen was a famous organist (one of his teachers was Maurice Duruflé) and his mother was a music teacher. All five Moerlen children learned music with their parents and all became musicians. Pierre’s younger brother, Benoît Moerlen, is also a percussionist (he worked also with Gong and Oldfield).

In January 1973, Pierre joined Daevid Allen‘s band, Gong, as percussionist, debuting on the Angel’s Egg album.

In June 1973 he was asked by Virgin’s boss Richard Branson to play percussion with Mike Oldfield for the premiere of Tubular Bells.

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John Fred 4/2005

john-fred-and-his-playboy-band-judy-in-disguisewith-glasses-californiaApril 15, 2005 – John Fred Gourrier (John Fred & His Playboy Band) was born on May 8th 1941 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His father, Fred Gourrier, had played professional baseball with the Detroit Tigers organization. In 1956 John formed a band that he called John Fred and the Playboys, a white group that played primarily rhythm and blues music. While still in high school, they cut their first record in late 1958 with Fats Domino’s band. The song was titled Shirley and John Fred and the Playboys saw their song rise as high as number 82 on the national record charts. The group also cut other singles that were not as successful, working at times with Mac Rebennack and with the Jordanaires. John Fred was a 6 foot 5 inch, blue-eyed soul singer who originally formed John Fred And The Playboys in 1956 and attended Southeastern Louisiana University from 1960 to 1963 and spent some time as a college basketball player.

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Johnnie Johnson 4/2005

Johnny JohnsonApril 13, 2005 – Johnnie Johnson (Johnny B Goode) was born July 8th 1924 in Fairmont, West Virginia. He began playing the piano in 1928.
While serving in the US Marine Corps during WW II, he was a member of Bobby Troup’s all serviceman jazz orchestra, The Barracudas. After his return, he moved to Detroit and then Chicago, where he sat in with many notable artists, including Muddy Waters and Little Walter.

He moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1952 and put together a jazz and blues group, The Sir John Trio.  with the drummer Ebby Hardy and the saxophonist Alvin Bennett. The three had a regular engagement at the Cosmopolitan Club, in East St. Louis. On New Year’s Eve 1952, Bennett had a stroke and could not perform. Johnson, searching for a last-minute replacement, called a young man named Chuck Berry, the only musician Johnson knew who, because of his inexperience, would likely not be playing on New Year’s Eve. Although then a limited guitarist, Berry added vocals and showmanship to the group. When Bennett was not able to play after his stroke, Johnson hired Berry as a permanent member of the trio.

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Wally Tax 4/2005

wally taxApril 10, 2005 – Wally Tax (the Outsiders) was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 14 February 1948. His Dutch father and his Russian Romani mother had met in a concentration camp during World War II. He grew up in Amsterdam and learned English at an early age from contacts with American sailors, for whom he acted as a pimp.
In 1959, at age 11, he was one of the founding members of the beat band The Outsiders. The band sang English lyrics, with Tax as the main songwriter; Tax sang and played guitar and harmonica. Even while playing with The Outsiders, Tax recorded a solo album (with a symphonic orchestra), Love-In.

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Paul Hester 3/2005

Paul-HesterMarch 26, 2005 – Paul Hester (Crowded House) was born on January 8th 1959 in Melbourne, Australia. His mother a jazz drummer, encouraged him at an early age to learn the drums. After playing in local bands as a teenager, he formed the band Cheks and in 1982 they moved to Sydney renaming themselves Deckchairs Overboard.

He did a brief spell with Split Enz in 1983, before he along with Neil Finn formed a new band with guitarist Nick Seymour. They were signed by the US label Capitol and moved to LA. At first, they called themselves the Mullanes (Finn’s middle name), but after record company pressure they changed the name to Crowded House. Their first album in 1986 which included the US top-10 hit Don’t Dream It Over, catapulted them into major attraction on the international touring circuit until he left mid-tour in 1994 because of the stress and anxieties related to constant touring.

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Rod Price 3/2005

Rod PriceMarch 22, 2005 – Rod Price (Foghat) was born November 22, 1947. At the age of 21, Price joined the British blues band Black Cat Bones, replacing legendary Free alumni Paul Kossoff, which recorded one album, Barbed Wire Sandwich. The album was released at the end of 1969, when British blues was being supplanted by rock, and though artistically successful it was a commercial failure.

The band dissolved, and Price joined Foghat when the group was first formed in London in 1971. He played on the band’s first ten albums, released from 1972 through to 1980. His signature slide playing ability helped propel the band to being one of the most successful rock groups in the United States during the 1970s. His slide playing was featured distinctly on Foghat songs “Drivin’ Wheel”, “Stone Blue”, and the group’s biggest hit, “Slow Ride“, which was a top 20 hit in 1976. Price’s final performance with Foghat before he left for the first time was at the Philadelphia Spectrum on 16 November 1980. He was replaced by guitarist Erik Cartwright.

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Danny Joe Brown 3/2005

Danny Joe BrownMarch 10, 2005 – Danny Joe Brown (Molly Hatchett) was born on August 24th 1951 in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated from Terry Parker High School in 1969. Shortly after graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed in New York for two years. Once he left the Coast Guard, Brown’s focus turned solely to music and he joined Molly Hatchet in 1974.

He is best known for writing and singing on such songs as “Flirtin’ with Disaster” and “Whiskey Man.” He was also the vocalist on “Dreams I’ll Never See,” a faster-tempoed cover of the Allman Brothers song. The band’s sound was immediately recognizable by Brown’s distinct voice: a deep, raspy, throaty growl.

Brown left Molly Hatchet in 1980 because of chronic diabetes and pancreatic problems, but soon started his own band, The Danny Joe Brown Band, which released a single studio album in 1981.

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Chris Curtis 2/2005

Chris CurtisFebruary 28, 2005 – Chris Curtis (the Searchers) was born August 26, 1941 as Christopher Crummey in Oldham, Lancashire. Curtis moved to Liverpool when he was four and went to primary school where he met Mike Pendergast (Mike Pender).

He taught himself how to play the piano on the family instrument. He passed the 11-plus and went to St Mary’s College, Crosby, where he was taught violin although he wanted to play the double-bass. His father bought him a drum set during his late teens when he left school and he learned these in his spare time, when he was not selling prams at Swift’s Furniture store at Stanley Road, Liverpool. He developed a fascination for American music and particularly liked Fats Domino. He also grew the unusually long hair that would be his trademark in the early years.

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Keith Knudsen 2/2005

Keith KnudsenFebruary 8, 2005- Keith Knudsen (Doobie Brothers) was born in Le Mars, Iowa on February 18th 1948. He began drumming while in high school. After short stints playing in a club band and the Blind Joe Mendlebaum Blues Band, he became the drummer for the organist-vocalist Lee Michaels.

In 1974 he was invited to join The Doobie Brothers, joining the band during the recording of the 1974 platinum album, ‘What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits‘, on which he made his debut. After the Doobies disbanded in ’82, he and fellow Doobie John McFee, who he had also formed a writing partnership with, founded the country rock band Southern Pacific. The group was successful in the country charts but disbanded in the early 1990s. By then the two men had formed a writing partnership and despite not rejoining the group at that time, co-wrote the song Time Is Here And Gone with Doobies’ percussionist Bobby LaKind, featured on the Doobies reunion album Cycles in 1989.

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Tyrone Davis 2/2005

Tyrone DavisFebruary 10, 2005 – Tyrone Davis was born Tyrone Fettson on May 4th 1928 near Greenville, Mississippi. He moved with his father to Saginaw, Michigan, before moving to Chicago in 1959.

His early records for small record labels in the city, billed as “Tyrone the Wonder Boy”, failed to register until successful Chicago record producer Carl Davis signed him in 1968 to a new label, Dakar Records that he was starting as part of a distribution deal with Atlantic. He suggested that he change his name and he borrowed Carl’s last name Tyrone Davis.

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Eric Griffiths 1/2005

eric-griffithsJanuary 29, 2005 – Eric Griffiths  was born on October 31, 1940.  Griffith, John Lennon, Pete Shotton and Rod Davis, were all at Quarry Bank High School together and shared an interest in American music. Eric and John attended some guitar lessons but found it too slow to learn and dropped the lessons when Lennon’s mother taught them to play easier banjo chords.

Lennon formed The Quarry Men with Eric, Shotton and Davis. Paul McCartney joined The Quarry Men as lead guitarist but the band decided that neither McCartney nor Eric were suitable as lead guitarist. When George Harrison joined the band they suggested that Eric buy an electric bass and an amplifier but he could not afford this and he was not invited to McCartney’s house for the next rehearsal and when Eric phoned them during the practice session, John told him he was sacked.

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Jim Capaldi 1/2005

up-dear_mr_fantasyJanuary 28, 2005 – Jim Capaldi (Traffic) was born on August 2, 1944 died of stomach cancer in London at age 60. He co-founded the psychedelic rock band Traffic in 1967 with Steve Winwood with whom he co-wrote the majority of the band’s output. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a part of Traffic’s original line-up.

Capaldi was a magnificent drummer, who later also mastered guitar. His songwriter credits include the Eagles’ “Love will keep us alive” and the catchy “This is Reggae Music”. His “Dear Mr. Fantasy” for the Traffic album with the same title established him as one of the greats.

A rock drummer, songwriter and founder member of Traffic, Jim Capaldi’s talents were used by Bob Marley, Eric Clapton and the Eagles and so many more.

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Jimmy Griffin 1/2005

jimmy griffinJanuary 11, 2005 – James Arthur Jimmy Griffin  (Bread) was born on August 10, 1943 in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. His musical training began when his parents signed him up for accordion lessons. He attended Kingsbury High School in Memphis and Dorsey and Johnny Burnette were his across the street neighbors in the same housing project that was home to Elvis Presley from 1948 until 1954. After the Burnette brothers moved to Los Angeles, California to further their music careers, Griffin went to visit them and managed to secure a recording contract with Reprise Records.

“Dorsey played the upright bass and steel guitar, as well as acoustic guitar. Johnny played acoustic guitar and together they were fabulous songwriters and singers. Their harmonies were always real tight and I enjoyed singing with them, even at that age. Johnny Burnette had a big hit called Dreamin and then Dorsey had a hit called The Tall Oak Tree. “Dreamin was produced by Snuff Garrett, who also produced artists like Bobby Vee, Timi Yuro and others, and eventually myself.”

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Spencer Dryden 1/2005

Spencer Dryden with Grace SlickJanuary 11, 2005 – Spencer Dryden was born in New York City on April 7, 1938. His father, a British actor and director, was a half-brother of Charlie Chaplin but Dryden carefully concealed his relationship to his celebrious uncle, preferring his talents to stand on their own merits, rather than on any potentially nepotistic influences of his uncle Charlie’s name.

His parents divorced in 1943, but Spencer fondly recalled playing at his famous uncle’s Hollywood studio as a child. In the late 40s Spencer became friends with jazz fan Lloyd Miller also born in 1938 and living down the street on Royal Boulevard in Rossmoyne in Glendale. Miller said they should start a band and encouraged Spence to play drums. Since Spence didn’t have a drum set, Miller fashioned Dryden’s first drum by thumb tacking an old inner tube over a wooden barrel with no ends. Miller would pump his player piano, play cornet or clarinet and Spence would bang out beats on the drum.

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