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Pierre Delanoë 12/2006

Pierre DelanoeDecember 27, 2006 – Pierre Delanoë was born Pierre Charles Marcel Napoléon Leroyer on December 16, 1918 in Paris, France.

After studying and receiving a law degree, Delanoë began worked as a tax collector and then a tax inspector. After World War II he met singer Gilbert Bécaud and started a career as a lyricist. He did sing with Bécaud in clubs in the beginning, but this did not last long.

He has written some of France’s most beloved songs with Bécaud, including “Et maintenant“, translated into English as “What Now My Love“, which was covered by artists including Agnetha Fältskog, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, The Supremes, Sonny & Cher, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, and The Temptations. Another international hit “Je t’appartiens” (“Let It Be Me”) was covered by The Everly Brothers, Tom Jones, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Nina Simone and Nofx. “Crois-moi ça durera” was covered as “You’ll See” by Nat King Cole.

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James Brown 12/2006

James BrownDecember 25, 2006 – James Brown Jr. Nearly stillborn, then revived by an aunt in a country shack in the piney woods outside Barnwell, South Carolina, on May 3, 1933, Brown became somebody who was determined to be Somebody. James Brown rose from extreme poverty to become the ‘The Godfather of Soul‘.

His parents were 16-year-old Susie (1917–2003) and 22-year-old Joseph “Joe” Gardner Brown (1911–1993), extremely poor, living in a small wooden shack.

They later relocated to Augusta, Georgia, when Brown was four or five. Brown’s family first settled at one of his aunts’ brothels and later moved into a house shared with another aunt. Brown’s mother later left the family after a contentious marriage and moved to New York. Brown spent long stretches of time on his own, hanging out in the streets and hustling to get by. Still he managed to stay in school until sixth grade. Continue reading James Brown 12/2006

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Freddie Marsden 12/2006

GerryandThePacemakers2December 9, 2006 – Frederick John Freddie Marsden was born on October 21, 1940 in Liverpool England’s Dingle area. His brother, Gerry, followed two years later. Their father, Fred, was a railway clerk who entertained the neighbours by playing the ukulele. With the vogue for skiffle music in the mid-Fifties, he took the skin off one of his instruments, put it over a tin of Quality Street and said to Freddie, “There’s your first snare drum, son.”

In 1957 the brothers appeared in the show Dublin to Dingle at the Pavilion Theatre in Lodge Lane. Studies meant little to either of them – Freddie left school with one O-level and worked for a candlemaker earning £4 a week, and Gerry’s job was as a delivery boy for the railways. Their parents did not mind and encouraged their musical ambitions. On leaving Francis Xavier grammar school, Freddie bought a full kit from his earnings as a candle maker.

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Mariska Veres 12/2006

Mariska VeresDecember 2, 2006 – Mariska Veres was born on October 1, 1947 in The Hague. Her father was the famous Hungarian Romani violinist Lajos Veres, and her mother, Maria Ender, was born in Germany of French and Russian parents. In the early childhood years Mariska often accompanied her father on the piano along with her elder sister Ilonka.

She began her career as a singer in 1963 with the guitar band Les Mysteres. In 1965 she joined the Bumble Bees, the Blue Fighters, Danny and his Favourites, then General Four in 1966, and the Motowns later in 1966. In 1968 Mariska was invited to join Shocking Blue to replace singer Fred de Wilde who was called into the armed forces.

A reincarnation of The Bumble Bees had performed at a party where Veres’s stunning appearance and powerful vocals attracted the attention of Shocking Blue’s manager and publisher. He talked bandleader van Leeuwen into having Veres replace de Wilde. “She had a very impressive voice, quite different from all the other girl singers,” van Leeuwen recalled: “She was rather like Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane. Once she joined, everything happened very quickly. The first single we did was ” Venus” in 1969. In one year, everything we dreamed about happened. It sold millions around the world and gave other Dutch groups a belief in their own potential.”

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April Lawton 11/2006

April LawtonNovember 23, 2006 – April Lawton (Ramatan) was born on July 30th 1948 on Long Island New York. As guitar virtuoso, singer, and composer she came to notice in the early 70s as the lead guitarist of the criminally underrated rock band  Ramatam, which also included former Iron Butterfly guitarist Mike Pinera and the former Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell. With Jimi just dead, she was hailed as the female Jimi Hendrix by many, and her style was a mix of Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Alan Holdsworth. When Pinera and Mitchell left after the self titled debut album, she stayed with Ramatam for “In April Came the Dawning of the Red Suns”, in my opinion one of the most incredibly versatile instrumental albums ever recorded. Continue reading April Lawton 11/2006

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Freddy Fender 10/2006

223_freddy_fender_at_the_sea October 14, 2006Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Huerta on June 4th 1937 was the first and biggest pioneer in Tex Mex music, and one of the most important musicians in Tejano Music History. He is documented as The First American Hispanic and Hispanic Rock & Roll Recording Artist In Anglo Latino Musical History.

He actually made himself a guitar at the age of six and at 10 he was singing on local radio stations and winning talent competitions. Then at 16, he joined the Marines for three years. After his discharge, he started playing Texas honky tonks and dance halls. His big break came with Falcon Records in 1957, when he recorded Spanish versions of Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” and Harry Belafonte’s “Jamaica Farewell.”

The recordings both reached No.1 slots in Mexico and South America. He signed with Imperial Records in 1959, renaming himself “Fender” after the brand of his electric guitar, and “Freddy”, well.. because it sounded good with Fender.

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Bruce Gary 8/2006

Bruce Gary, drummer for the KnackAugust 22, 2006 – Bruce Gary was born on April 7, 1951 in Burbank, California. Bruce had a tormented and horrid childhood as he grew up in the early ’60s in the west San Fernando Valley, not far from Malibu. “The popular music of my peers at that time was a wonderful combination of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums called surf music,” he said in a 2002 interview.

“It made me forget a lot of what was going on at home”. “Somehow it perfectly reflected the carefree times of my youth. I started playing drums when I was six years old. The first proper band I played in was called The Watchmen. I was eleven. We cut our teeth playing music by such artists as The Ventures, The Beach Boys, Dick Dale & The Del-Tones, The Surfaris, The Astronauts, The Wailers, and many more bands of that nature. We enjoyed a healthy dose of playing local parties and youth centers in the Valley.”

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John Locke 8/2006

August 4, 2006 – John Locke (Spirit, Nazareth) was born on September 25, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. His father was a classical violinist and his mother sang operas and was a composer. In 1967 he formed the Red Roosters with guitarist Randy California. Later that year they had changed the name to Spirit Rebellious and signed a record deal for four albums under the jazz/hard rock/progressive rock/psychedelic band Spirit name.

The group’s first album, Spirit, was released in 1968 and “Mechanical World” was released as a single. John appeared on their next eight albums and remained involved with the band during most of his career.

When Randy California went solo, band members Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes formed Jo Jo Gunne, while Ed Cassidy and John briefly led a new Spirit, recording the album Feedback in 1972 with Al and Chris Staehely.

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Arthur Lee 8/2006

arthur lee of love with jimi hendrixAugust 2, 2006 – Arthur Lee (Love) was born Arthur Taylor Porter on March 7, 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee. During his parents’ divorce proceedings in early 1950, Lee and his mother packed their things and took a train to California, while his father was at work.

Lee’s first musical instrument was the accordion, which he took lessons from a teacher. He adapted to reading music and developed a good ear and natural musical intelligence. While he was never formally taught about musical theory and composition, he was able to mimic musicians from records and compose his own songs. Eventually, he persuaded his parents to buy him an organ and harmonica. Graduating from High School, Lee’s musical ambitions found opportunities between his local community and classmates. As opposed to attending a college under a sports scholarship, he strived for a musical career. His plan of forming a band was under the influence of Johnny Echols,(lead guitarist for LOVE, after seeing him perform “Johnny B. Goode” with a five-piece band at a school assembly.

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Sam Myers 7/2006

July 17, 2006 – Sam Myers was born on February 19, 1936 in Laurel, Mississippi. He acquired juvenile cataracts at age seven and was left legally blind for the rest of his life despite corrective surgery. He could make out shapes and shadows, but could not read print at all; he was taught Braille. Myers acquired an interest in music while a schoolboy in Jackson, Mississippi and became skilled enough at playing the trumpet and drums that he received a non-degree scholarship from the American Conservatory of Music (formerly named the American Conservatory School of Music) in Chicago.

Myers attended school by day and at night frequented the nightclubs of the South Side, Chicago. There he met and was sitting in with Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Hound Dog Taylor, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Elmore James.

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Syd Barrett 7/2006

July 6, 2006 – Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett (Pink Floyd) was born on January 6th 1946 in Cambridge, England.  His parents were Dr. Max and Mrs. Win Barrett). Roger was the fourth of five children, the others being Alan, Don, Ruth and Rosemary. The young Roger was actively encouraged in his music and art by his parents – at the age of seven he won a piano duet competition with his sister – and he was to be successful in poetry contests while at high school.

Max died when Roger was 15 and his diary entry that day consisted of one single line: “Dear Dad died today.” The loss cost him dearly. Three days later he wrote to his girlfriend Libby that “I could write a book about his merits – perhaps I will some time.” Continue reading Syd Barrett 7/2006

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Joe Weaver 7/2006

joe-weaverJuly 5, 2006 – Joe Weaver was born on August 27th 1934 in Detroit, Michigan.

His best known recording was “Baby I Love You So” – 1955, and he was a founding member of both The Blue Note Orchestra and The Motor City Rhythm & Blues Pioneers. Over his lengthy but staggered career, Joe worked with various musicians including The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, John Lee Hooker, Nathaniel Mayer, The Miracles, Martha Reeves, Nolan Strong & The Diablos, Andre Williams, Nancy Wilson, and Stevie Wonder. In addition, he was a session musician in the early days of Motown Records and played in the house band at Fortune Records. He was a key component in the 1950s Detroit R&B scene.

Weaver learned to play the piano from age nine. While at Northwestern High School he teamed up with fellow student Johnnie Bassett to form Joe Weaver and the Blue Notes.

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Johnny Jenkins 6/2006

johnny-jenkinsJune 26, 2006 – Johnny Jenkins was born the son of a day laborer on March 5, 1939 east of Macon, Georgia in a rural area called Swift Creek. On the battery powered radio, he was drawn to hillbilly music and first heard the sounds of blues and classic R&B artists like Bill Doggett, Bullmoose Jackson, and others.

Jenkins built his first guitar out of a cigar box and rubber bands when he was nine, and began playing at a gas station for tips. He played it left-handed and upside down (like Hendrix), and this practice continued after his older sister bought him a real guitar a couple of years later. He left school in seventh grade to take care of his ailing mother and by 16 had turned to music full time.

He started out with a small blues band called the Pinetoppers that played the college circuit and first heard Redding at a talent show at a Macon theater. At one college event with the Pinetoppers, he met Walden, a white student at Macon’s Mercer University who was attracted to black rhythm-and-blues music. Besides working as Mr. Jenkins’s manager, Walden co-founded the legendary Southern rock label Capricorn Records, which produced Jenkins two albums “Ton-Ton Macoute!” and “Blessed Blues.”

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Charles Smith 6/2006

claydes-charles-smithJune 20, 2006 – Claydes “Charles” Smith (Kool & the Gang) was born on September 6, 1948 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was introduced to jazz guitar by his father at age 13, when in 1961, his father bought him a Kay Electric guitar at a pawnshop for $32.

Thomas Smith was so keen for his son to have a career in music that, in 1963, he financed the recording of the first single by Claydes & the Rhythms, the group the boy had formed with his schoolfriends George Brown (drums) and Richard Westfield (keyboards), although the end product – “I Can’t Go On Without You” – only served as a calling card for the embryonic band.

Claydes Smith left Lincoln High School in New Jersey in 1965 and, with Brown and Westfield, eventually joined forces with the Jazziacs, a group comprising the brothers Robert “Kool” Bell (bass) and Ronald Bell (saxophones, flute, keyboards), Robert ‘Spike’ Mickens (trumpet) and Dennis Thomas (alto sax), to become the Soul Town Revue.

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Duane Roland 6/2006

duane-rolandJune 19, 2006 – Duane Roland was born on December 3rd 1953 in Jeffersonville, Indiana and moved to Florida at the age of 7. Music was evident in the Roland home – Duane’s dad was an occasional guitarist, and his mom was a concert pianist. Duane originally played drums in his first band, at high school, before gravitating to the guitar.

On his decision to become a serious musician he said: “I was at the “West Palm Beach Music Festival” and the line up was Johnny Winter, Vanilla Fudge,Janis Joplin, King Krimson and the Rolling Stones. It had rained and I was laying on a piece of  plastic. King Krimson was late so Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin and The Vanilla Fudge got up and jammed and I came straight up off that plastic and said, “That’s what I wanna do! I watched Johnny play and that was it for me.”

Duane originally tried to put a band together with Banner Thomas, and Bruce Crump but it didn’t really work. He made his name in Florida as a guitarist with The Ball Brothers Band. When The Ball Brothers split, Duane filled in for Dave Hlubek with Molly Hatchet when Dave was unable to make a gig. He was in!! The band had originally formed around Jacksonville, Florida in 1971 and taken their name from a 17th century prostitute who allegedly mutilated and decapitated her clients with a hatchet.

Molly Hatchet was formed in 1971 by Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland. Danny Joe Brown joined in 1974, Duane Roland, Banner Thomas, Bruce Crump in 1975. When they finally got their recording contract with Epic they got some help and advice from Ronnie Van Zant, who was originally suppose to produce the album, but was unable to due to the tragic plane crash in ’77. Because of this the band’s debut was not released until late 1978. Fortunately for the band, this late delivery did little to deter their popularity. By the time their second record was released, the band had became enormously popular and stayed that way for many years despite the departure of vocalist/frontman Danny Joe Brown. Brown left the band in 1980 due to health problems stemming from diabetes. Others have stated that the band worked hard on the road, and drank just as hard, which was the reason that Brown had to go. Brown returned to the band in ’83 for a successful tour and the release of “No Guts No Glory”.

Duane began performing with Molly Hatchet fulltime in 1975, and he remained with the band through various personnel changes until he left in 1990. (the only exception being when he quit the band for ONE DAY during a summer tour in 1983!!)

They recorded and released their first album, “Molly Hatchet” in 1978, followed by “Flirtin’ with Disaster” in 1979. They toured behind the album building a larger fan base. He recorded seven albums with the band and is is credited with co-writing some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Bloody Reunion” and “Boogie No More”.  During his stay, he was famous for his ability to nail his lead spots in just one take. He was actually the only member of the classic lineup to appear on all seven albums. The only song he didn’t perform on was “Cheatin’ Woman”. He also co-wrote a great deal of classic Molly Hatchet music. Duane appeared on the 1989 album “Junkyard” by the band of the same name.

At the time he left in 1990, he was the owner of the Molly Hatchet brand. The agreement in the band had always been that the last man standing got the name.

Duane then quit music for almost a decade and ran a company in the field of office machine repairs and later became a call centre supervisor with an Internet company.

Duane was the only Hatchet original to not play in the Dixie Jam Band during Jammin’ for DJB. Riff West (the shows organiser) sites “legal difficulties” as the reason Duane did not perform. He did however, lend his talents by added his guitar tracks in the studio.

In 2002, Duane’s employer was bought out, and unemployment beckoned. He was also suffering problems with his hip, which he had replaced in late 2002. During his recuperation, the news broke that Jimmy Farrar had joined the SRA, and it wasn’t long before Jimmy was trying to bring Duane out again. He was on leave from the the Southern Rock Allstars to recuperate from a hip operation when in November 2004, Riff West confirmed that the rumours of a reunion of sorts were true. Riff, Bruce Crump, Steve Holland, Dave Hlubek, Duane Roland and Jimmy Farrar were rehearsing. Dave Hlubek dropped out of the project in January 2005 however…so the new band were the remaining five and Bruce’s bandmate from Daddy-Oh, guitarist Linne Disse. They named themselves after their classic song…”Gator Country Band” and kicked off their career in style opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd on March 12, 2005 in Orlando, FLA. Gator Country, included many of the founding members of Molly Hatchet

Duane Roland sadly passed away at his home in St. Augustine, Florida on Monday June 19, 2006. He was 53, and his death was apparently from “natural causes”.

“He had a heart as big as Texas and a talent twice that big,” said singer Jimmy Farrar, who performed with Roland in all three bands. “Not only was he a colleague but he was one of the best friends I ever had and he will be sorely missed.”

Drummer Bruce Crump said Roland was the anchor of Molly Hatchet during the 1980s, a time when the band’s lineup was constantly changing. “During all that time, Duane was the constant,” said Crump. “I can’t imagine playing Molly Hatchet music without Duane Roland. It just wouldn’t be the same.”

“…then the Allman Brothers came along and made the sound heavier and started churning out these 15-minute songs. Next, Lynyrd Skynyrd came along and refined that sound: made it more powerful and crunchier. Then you had Marshall Tucker and Grinderswitch and they added a country flavor to it and then came Molly Hatchet and we were the first to put a metal edge to it. That was the evolution of the things that were taking place then.”
– Dave Hlubek

 

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Freddie Gorman 6/2006

freddie_gormanJune 13, 2006 – Freddie Gorman, born Frederick Cortez Gorman, April 11, 1939 in Detroit, was a musician, singer, songwriter and record producer for Motown.

Gorman developed his bass harmonizing on local street corners, and was still in high school when he made his recorded debut on the Qualitones’ 1955 Josie Records single “Tears of Love”. Two years later Gorman and longtime best friends Brian Holland and Sonny Sanders formed the Fideletones. After issuing “Pretty Girl” on Aladdin Records in 1959, the group splintered and Gorman resumed his day job as a mail carrier. He was a vital unsung component of the Motown label’s formative development as he co-wrote the label’s first #1 pop hit “Please Mr. Postman”, by the Marvelettes. In 1964 the biggest selling group of all time, the Beatles released their version, and in 1975 the Carpenters took it back to #1 again. This was the second time in pop history (after “The Twist” by Chubby Checker) that a song reached #1 in the US twice. In 2006, “Please Mr. Postman” was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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Billy Preston 6/2006

billy-prestonJune 6, 2006 – William EverettBilly” Preston (Beatles/Stones/etc.) was born on September 2, 1946 in Houston, Texas but raised mostly in Los Angeles, California.

When he was three, the family moved to Los Angeles, where Preston began playing piano while sitting on his mother Robbie’s lap. Noted as a child prodigy, Preston was entirely self-taught and never had a music lesson. By the age of ten, Preston was playing organ onstage backing several gospel singers such as Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland and Andraé Crouch. At age eleven, Preston appeared on Nat King Cole’s national TV show singing the Fats Domino hit, “Blueberry Hill” with Cole. Also at eleven, he appeared in the W.C. Handy biopic starring Nat King Cole: St. Louis Blues (1958), playing W.C. Handy at a younger age.

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Johnny Grande 6/2006

johnny-grandeJune 3, 2006 – John A. Johnny Grande (Bill Haley and the Comets) was born on January 14th 1930 in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up in a musical family. His uncle once played in the band of John Philip Sousa, but his father wanted Grande to follow him into the coal hauling business. Grande preferred music, and learned to play the music from “La Traviata” on the accordion.

He played backup for polka and country players like Tex Ritter until he signed a partnership with Bill Haley in the late 1940s to form Bill Haley and His Four Aces of Western Swing. Haley was a great yodeler.

They later called themselves the Saddlemen, before settling on the Comets, which was the name of the band in 1951, when it covered Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88,” considered by many the very first rock and roll song.

The Comets had a more urbane image: They traded in their Stetsons for suits and ties, and Grande played piano on most numbers.

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Vince Welnick 6/2006

vince-welnickJune 2, 2006 – Vince Welnick (The Tubes/Grateful Dead) was born on February 21st 1951 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Welnick started playing keyboards as a teenager. He joined a band, the Beans, which eventually morphed into the Tubes, a San Francisco-based theater rock band popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s and noted for early live performances that combined lewd quasi-pornography with wild satires of media, consumerism and politics.

The Tubes in the 1980s were a major commercial rock act with substantial MTV success. Videos for rock classics “Talk To Ya Later” and “She’s A Beauty” played in heavy rotation on the MTV network for years in the mid-1980s. While playing in the Tubes, he also played and recorded with Todd Rundgren.

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Freddie Garrity 5/2006

freddie-the-dreamersMay 19, 2006 – Frederick “Freddie” Garrity (Freddie and the Dreamers) was born on November 14, 1936 in Crumpsall, Manchester, England. The son of a miner, Garrity was educated locally. A talented schoolboy footballer, he was also steeped in his city’s popular entertainment tradition. After leaving school in 1956, he signed on for an engineering apprenticeship that would have lasted seven years had his musical talent not begun to emerge. He started to practice his guitar skills on the shopfloor of the Turbine factory, and show them off at staff dances. A fanatical Manchester United fan, he began to get pub gigs. Then, during the first year of his apprenticeship, he won a local talent contest with an Al Jolson impression.

He then worked as a milkman while playing in local skiffle groups: the Red Sox, the John Norman Four and, finally, the Kingfishers, who became Freddie and the Dreamers in 1959. The band itself consisted of Garrity on vocals, Roy Crewsdon, guitar, Derek Quinn, guitar, Pete Birrell, bass and Bernie Dwyer, on drums. In the early years of the band, Garrity’s official birth-date was given as 14 November 1940 to make him appear younger and, therefore, more appealing to the youth market who bought the majority of records sold in the UK.

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Desmond Dekker 5/2006

desmond_dekkerMay 25, 2006 – Desmond Dekker was born Desmond Adolphus Dacres on July 16th 1941 in Saint Andrew Parrish, Kingston, Jamaica. Dekker spent his early formative years in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. From a very young age he would regularly attend the local church with his grandmother and aunt. This early religious upbringing as well as Dekker’s enjoyment of singing hymns led to a lifelong religious commitment. Orphaned in his teens following his mother’s death as a result of illness, he moved to the parish of St. Mary and then later to St. Thomas. While at St. Thomas, Dekker embarked on an apprenticeship as a tailor before returning to Kingston, where he secured employment as a welder.

His workplace singing had drawn the attention of his co-workers, who encouraged him to pursue a career in the music industry. In 1961 he auditioned for Coxsone Dodd (Studio One) and Duke Reid (Treasure Isle), though neither audition was successful. The young unsigned vocalist then successfully auditioned for Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s record label and was awarded his first recording contract. He auditioned before the stable’s biggest hitmaker, Derrick Morgan, who immediately spotted the young man’s potential. However, it was to be two long years before Kong finally took him into the studio, waiting patiently for him to compose a song worthy of recording.

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June Pointer 4/2006

june pointerApril 11, 2006 – June Pointer (the Pointer Sisters) was born on November 30th 1953. Born the youngest of six children to minister parents Reverend Elton and Sarah Pointer, June shared a love of singing with her sisters. In 1969, she and sister Bonnie founded The Pointers – A Pair. The duo sang at numerous clubs, then became a trio later that year when sister Anita quit her job as a secretary to join them. The group officially changed its name to The Pointer Sisters. The trio signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and released a few singles, none of which made a substantial impact on the music charts. In 1972, sister Ruth joined the group, making it a quartet. The sisters then signed with Blue Thumb Records, and their career began to take off.

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Gene Pitney 4/2006

Gene PitneyApril 5, 2006 – Gene Pitney was born February 17, 1940 in Hartford, Connecticut and grew up in Rockville, now part of Vernon, Connecticut. He once recalled how his first solo performance at school degenerated into an embarrassing whimper as Pitney was petrified by the expectant audience. Overcoming his nerves over the next few years, Pitney learned to play the guitar, drums and piano and formed a schoolboy band, Gene & the Genials.

He was nicknamed “the Rockville Rocket”. Pitney was an avid doo wop singer and sang with a group called the Embers. He made records as part of a duo called Jamie and Jane with Ginny Arnell (who in late 1963 had a solo hit, “Dumb Head”), and in 1959 recorded a single as Billy Bryan. By the time he had dropped out of the University of Connecticut, he was performing with Ginny Arnell as the male half of Jamie and Jane, then as singer/songwriter under the name Billy Bryan for Blaze Records and under his own name for Festival Records in 1960.

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Johnny Jackson 3/2006

Johnny JacksonMarch 1, 2006 – Johnny Jackson was born March 3, 1951 in Gary, Indiana was noted for being the drummer for The Jackson 5 from their early Gary, Indiana days in 1967 when he replaced original drummer Milford Hite, until the end of their famed career at Motown in 1975.

The label presented Johnny as the cousin of Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael, but contrary to popular belief, Johnny Jackson was not related to the Jackson family of entertainers.

Jackson grew up a few blocks from the Jackson family and had made a name for himself as a drumming prodigy before he started high school, said Gordon Keith, who has sued Jackson family members over the rights to their early recordings made for his Steeltown Records.

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Farka Touré 3/2006

Ali Farka ToureMarch 7, 2006 – Farka Touré  was born Ali Ibrahim Touré in 1939 in the village of Kanau, on the banks of the Niger River in the cercle of Gourma Rharous in the northwestern Malian region of Tombouctou.

His family moved to the nearby village of Niafunké when he was still an infant. He was the tenth son of his mother but the only one to survive past infancy. “The name I was given was Ali Ibrahim, but it’s a custom in Africa to give a child a strange nickname if you have had other children who have died”, Touré was quoted as saying in a biography on his Record Label, World Circuit Records. His nickname, “Farka”, chosen by his parents, means “donkey”, an animal admired for its tenacity and stubbornness: “Let me make one thing clear. I’m the donkey that nobody climbs on!” He was descended from the ancient military force known as the Arma, and was ethnically tied to the Songrai (Songhai) and Peul peoples of northern Mali.

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Lynden David Hall 2/2006

Lynden David HallFebruary 14, 2006 – Lynden David Hall was born May 7 1974. Brought up in Earlsfield, south London, as a 16-year-old Hall went, in its inaugural year, to the BRIT School for Performing Arts in Croydon, a music-industry college known for turning out such entertainers as Katie Melua. He was one of its more credible graduates. A couple of years after leaving, he was signed to Cooltempo Records by the veteran producer and DJ Trevor Nelson, who heard in the 21-year-old singer echoes of Al Green and D’Angelo – with a London accent and attitude. A precocious songwriter and performer, he had already nailed down a spiritual, intuitive style devoid of macho cliché.

For a time in the late 1990s, Lynden David Hall was British soul music’s boy most likely to.

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Wilson Pickett 1/2006

Wilson-Pickett-2January 19, 2006 – Wilson Pickett was born March 18th 1941 in Prattville, Alabama and sang in Baptist church choirs in his young years. He was the fourth of 11 children and called his mother “the baddest woman in my book,” telling historian Gerri Hirshey: “I get scared of her now. She used to hit me with anything, skillets, stove wood — (one time I ran away) and cried for a week. Stayed in the woods, me and my little dog.” Pickett eventually left to live with his father in Detroit in 1955.

Pickett’s forceful, passionate style of singing was developed in the church and on the streets of Detroit under the influence of recording stars such as Little Richard, whom he referred to as “the architect of rock and roll”.

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Lou Rawls 1/2006

Lou RawlsJanuary 6, 2006 – Louis Allen “Lou” Rawls was born on December 1st 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. He was raised by his grandmother in the Ida B. Wells projects on the city’s South Side and began singing in the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church choir at the age of seven. He later sang with local groups through which he met future music stars Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield. Even though it is sometimes falsely reported as though Lou was a high school classmate of Sam Cooke – Cooke was nearly three years older than Rawls, they sang together in the Teenage Kings of Harmony, a ’50s gospel group.

After graduating from Chicago’s Dunbar Vocational High School, he sang briefly with Cooke in the Teenage Kings of Harmony, a local gospel group, and then with the Holy Wonders. In 1951, Rawls replaced Cooke in the Highway QC’s after Cooke departed to join The Soul Stirrers in Los Angeles. Rawls was soon recruited by the Chosen Gospel Singers and moved to Los Angeles, where he subsequently joined the Pilgrim Travelers.

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