December 27, 2008 – Delaine Alvin “Delaney” Bramlett was born on July 1st, 1939 in Pontotoc Mississippi. Life in his hometown wasn’t for the budding music man and the only way to survive was to pick cotton or join the Armed Services. As a young kid however he was hanging around a studio in town watching everything and did some early demos for another Mississippian, Elvis Presley, as well as played a cardboard box as a drum on a George Jones record.
Delaney joined the Navy for three years and said goodbye to Mississippi. After his release from the Navy with Mississippi in his heart and his feet in Los Angeles he moved his family to be with him, where he has remained ever since.
November 12, 2008 – Mitch Mitchell was born on 9 July 1947 in Ealing, west of London. He started life in show business as a child actor on the TV series “Jennings At School”.
His love for jazz and pop music drove him to become a musician. Mitch’s main influences in music were Max Roach and Elvin Jones, teaching himself on the drums, he mixed jazz and rock styles, which later became known as “fusion”, of which he was a pioneer. In the early days he found work as a session player and worked with groups such as Johnny Harris and the Shades, the Pretty Things and the Riot Squad and in 1965 he began playing with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames.
November 10, 2008–Zenzile Miriam Makeba was born on March 4th 1932 in Johannesburg South Africa. Growing up in the midst of South Africa’s Apartheid policies, Miriam Makeba became amongst many things, a woman of great vision who saw far into the future, and with an uncanny and acute sense of history. With the world in a fast moving switch away from colonialism and despicable policies of segregation and apartheid, Miriam stood in the center of many “controversial” actions. For her actions, she was exiled from South Africa for 30 years, during which time she earned the tributal nickname “Mama Afrika”.
As a singer of South African folk songs about repression, she was the first one to find a global audience. Her 1957 song Pata Pata became a huge success in the USA 10 years later. Continue reading Miriam Makeba 11/2008
November 5, 2008 – Byron Lee was born on June 27, 1935. He was a Jamaican musician and record producer, best known for his work as leader of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. They turned professional in 1956 and went on to become one of Jamaica’s leading ska bands, continuing since and taking in other genres such as calypso, Soca, and Mas.
Byron Lee and the Dragonaires was one of the best known Jamaican bands. Lee played a crucial pioneering role in bringing Jamaican music to the world. Formed in 1956 and playing a big band-ska sound their big break came in the first James Bond film Dr. No, where they appeared as the band in the scene at Pussfeller’s club and played a number of tunes on the soundtrack. They also caused a stir at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
October 19, 2008 – Levi Stubbs was born Levi Stubbles on June 6th 1936. He became lead vocalist with The Four Tops and began his professional singing career with friends Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton to form the Four Aims in 1954. Two years later, the group changed their name to the Four Tops.
The Four Tops were among a number of groups, including The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes, who established the Motown Sound around the world during the 1960s. They were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer, whereas most male/mixed vocal groups of the time were fronted by a tenor.
September 15, 2008 – Rick Wright (Pink Floyd) was born on July 28, 1943 in Hatch End, London. He taught himself to play guitar, trumpet and piano at age 12 after he was recuperating from breaking a leg. His mother helped and encouraged him to play the piano. He took private lessons in musical theory and composition at the Eric Gilder School of Music and became influenced by the traditional jazz revival, learning the trombone and saxophone as well as the piano. Uncertain about his future, he enrolled in 1962 at the Regent Street Polytechnic which was later incorporated into the University of Westminster. There he met fellow musicians Roger Waters and Nick Mason, and all three joined a band formed by classmate Clive Metcalf called Sigma 6.
August 16, 2008 –Ronnie Drew (The Dubliners) was born Joseph Ronald Drews on September 16, 1934 in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland. Ironically, and although he was so intimately associated with being “a Dubliner”, he would somewhat tongue-in-cheek say that “I was born and grew up in Dún Laoghaire, and no true Dubliner would accept that at all!”
Despite his aversion to education, he was considered the most intelligent in his class by schoolfriend and future Irish film censor, Sheamus Smith.
“Ronnie Drew in his fine suit of blue And a voice like gravel that would cut you in two We thought he was Dublin through and through But he blew in from Dún Laoghaire”
August 10, 2008 – Isaac Hayes Jr. was born on August 20, 1942 in Covington, Tennessee. The child of a sharecropper family, he grew up working on farms in Shelby County, Tennessee, and in Tipton County. At age five Hayes began singing at his local church; he later taught himself to play the piano, the Hammond organ, the flute, and the saxophone.
Hayes dropped out of high school, but his former teachers at Manassas High School in Memphis encouraged him to complete his diploma, which he finally did at age 21. After graduating from high school, Hayes was offered several music scholarships from colleges and universities. He turned down all of them to provide for his immediate family, working at a meat-packing plant in Memphis by day and playing nightclubs and juke joints several evenings a week in Memphis and nearby northern Mississippi. His first professional gigs, in the late 1950s, were as a singer at Curry’s Club in North Memphis, backed by Ben Branch’s houseband.
August 2, 2008 – Erik Darling (the Weavers) was born on September 25, 1933 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Darling actually spent his childhood in Canandaigua, NY, and by the time he was in his early twenties, he was a regular fixture in New York City’s Washington Square folk scene. A superb banjo player and perhaps an even better 12-string guitarist, and possessing a clear, warm, and expressive tenor singing voice, Darling was an expert at bringing out the best in the musicians around him. The Folksay Trio, recording an album in 1951 that included Darling’s arrangement of “Tom Dooley” became a huge hit.
July 20, 2008 – Artie Traum was born on April 13th 1943 in the Bronx where he was raised as well. He became a regular visitor to Greenwich Village clubs in the 1960s, hearing blues, folk music and jazz. Soon he was performing there, too. He made his first recording in 1963 as a member of the True Endeavor Jug Band Early. Traum co-wrote songs for the Brian De Palma debut film Greetings – the first role for Robert De Niro – with Eric Kaz and Bear.
July 3, 2008 – ColinCooper (Climax Blues Band) was born on October 7th, 1939 in Stafford, England.
He grew up in Stafford and began playing the harmonica as a child. Aged 12 he switched to clarinet before mastering guitar, flute and saxophone. His initial influences were American jazz musicians and in 1963 he formed the Climax Jazz Band. He first recorded in 1965 as vocalist for the Hipster Image. Their Decca single Can’t Let Her Go/Make Her Mine was not a 60s hit, yet when Make Her Mine was used to advertise Levi jeans in Japan in 1999, the song became a hit across much of Asia.
July 1, 2008 – Mel Galley (Whitesnake/Trapeze) was born Melvin John Galley on March 8th 1948 in Cannock, Staffordshire, England.
Mel Galley became a leading light of the Midlands rock scene and played with the bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes and the drummer Dave Holland, first as Finders Keepers, then forming the group Trapeze. In 1969, they signed to Threshold, the Moody Blues label, and issued three critically acclaimed albums. Hughes departed to join Deep Purple in 1973. Galley took over lead vocals and the group signed to Warner Brothers and concentrated on the US market, where they developed a substantial following for their robust rock. A high-water mark for Trapeze was a support slot with the Rolling Stones and the Eagles in front of 120,000 people at Dallas Cotton Bowl in July 1975.
June 2, 2008 – Bo Diddley was bornEllas Otha Bates, later becoming Ellas McDaniel on December 30, 1928 in McComb, Mississippi. He was adopted and raised by his mother’s cousin, Gussie McDaniel, whose surname he assumed. In 1934, the McDaniel family moved to the South Side of Chicago, where he dropped the Otha and became Ellas McDaniel.
As he grew into a teenager he became an active member of his local Ebenezer Baptist Church, studying the trombone and the violin, becoming proficient enough for the musical director to invite him to join the orchestra playing violin, in which he performed until the age of 18. Around that age he became more interested in the pulsating, rhythmic music he heard at a local Pentecostal church and took up the guitar. Continue reading Bo Diddley 6/2008
May 11, 2008 – John Rutsey was born in Toronto, Canada on July 23, 1952.
In 1963, Rutsey met Lifeson, while attending St. Paschals School. Rutsey would play hockey with him on the street. Both interested in music, they decided to form a band. The two would be part of the band ‘The Projection’ with Bill Fitzgerald and “Doc” Cooper.
He became a founding member of the Canadian rock band Rush formed in 1968 with guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist Jeff Jones, who would soon be replaced by Geddy Lee.
May 6, 2008 – Micky Waller was born in Hammersmith, London on September 6th 1941.
The son of a council clerk of works, Waller was evacuated as a war baby to his Aunt Nora’s home in Belper, Derbyshire. After he returned to his parents’ home in Greenford, Middlesex, his father encouraged his interest in drumming by taking him to see the 1955 film The Benny Goodman Story; Gene Krupa’s big-band drumming virtually hypnotised the teenager. Waller took lessons with Jim Marshall, maker of the world-famous Marshall amplifiers, and later partly credited his unusual style to the fact that as a lefthander he had learned on a righthanded set of drums, which may have been the reason why he was notoriously known for not having a complete kit with him when showing up for gigs or sessions.
April 17, 2008 – Danny Federici was born January 23, 1950 grew up in the same neighborhood and became life long friend and over 40 years the keyboardist with Bruce Springsteen in bands Child, Steel Mill and The E Street Band.
Danny started to play accordion when he was seven years old, and was soon playing at parties, clubs and on radio. He attended Hunterdon Central High School in New Jersey, when he, along with Vini Lopez started the band, Child at the end of the ’60s, with Bruce Springsteen their chosen singer, a friendship and working friendship that lasted throughout his life.
April 15, 2008 – Sean Costello. Born in Philadelphia on April 16, 1979, Sean was a beautiful and precocious baby who walked, talked and read at an incredibly early age. His interest in music was evident as early as the age of 2, and after he moved to Atlanta at age 9, he began playing guitar. While his early influences were hard rock bands, he soon discovered the blues after picking up a Howlin’ Wolf tape in a bargain bin at a local record store. Sean never looked back. Soon local Atlanta bluesman Felix Reyes took Sean under his wing, and the rest is history.
April 15, 2008 – Brian “Blinky”Davison (The Nice) was born on May 25, 1942 in Leicester, England, where his mother had been evacuated from London during the Blitz.
His early interest in drumming was encouraged by his Uncle George, a jazz drummer who gave him his first kit. Brian also received help from his older brother Terry, who played him records by Max Roach. Brian played in a youth club skiffle group before leaving school to work as a delivery-van driver for the London Evening Standard. He carried on drumming in his spare time and joined his friend Terry Goldberg in his group The Rocker Shakes. In the late fifties and early sixties he played drums in various Skiffle groups in and around the youth clubs and pubs in North-west London, especially around Baker Street.
April 15, 2008 – Cliff Davies was born in 1949 south of London, England.
After receiving tuition from pipe band drummer Jock Cree, and playing local gigs in the Aldershot area (Home of the British Army to the south of London), in the early 70s, he went on to join the Roy Young Band, then the second incarnation of British jazz-rock band If from 1972 to 1975. He played on four albums by the band and contributed songwriting to many of their songs.
March 21, 2008 – Klaus Dinger (Kraftwerk) was born on March 24th 1946 in Scherfede and brought up in Düsseldorf. Influenced by UK rock acts such as The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, he formed a band in 1966 called The No. Other members were friends Norbert Körfer, Lutz Bellman and Jo Maassen.
March 10, 2008 – Chuck Day (Mamas & Papas) was born on August 6th 1942 in Chicago, Illinois.
At age 15 in 1957, he recorded the single “Pony Tail Partner” under the name Bing Day at Federal Records. He recorded several singles over the next ten years as ‘Bing Day’ and, also, ‘Ford Hopkins’, before moving to L.A. in 1965. He worked with the likes of the Johnny River band on the tracks “Here We GoGo Again” and “Rivers Rocks the Folk”.
Chuck wrote the distinctive riff in “Secret Agent Man”. He next joined the Mamas and Papas as their bass guitarist and was second guitarist on “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin’.
Day was the father of Mama Cass Elliott’s daughter, Owen, but Elliott, who died of a heart attack in 1974, never identified him as the father. He was stunned when his daughter, then 21, sought him out. They met for the first time in Fairfax.
Day was a musical prodigy who recorded the teeny-bopper tune “Pony Tail Partner” on a regional record label in 1957, when he was 15.
Two years later, he came tantalizingly close to the big time, recording a jazz-oriented single, “Mama’s Place,” for Mercury Records, a major label. It broke into Billboard’s Top 100 at No. 98, but fell off the chart the next week. He never got that close to stardom again.
“I’m very often frustrated that people make it who don’t have as much talent as I do,” he said in 1983, when he was tending bar and playing a couple of nights a week. “But I reconciled myself to that a long time ago.”
After moving to Fairfax in 1969, he played on Shel Siverstein’s “Freaker’s Ball,” the soundtrack for the movie “Fritz the Cat” and other projects in the ’70s and ’80s.
An imposing bear of a man, Mr. Day played guitar left-handed and sang in a bluesy baritone. He almost always played sitting down, commanding the stage from a stool.
For 15 years, he hosted the Blue Monday Jam at the 19 Broadway saloon in Fairfax, providing the limelight for countless Marin musicians who were influenced by him.
“He was the soul of the music scene in Fairfax,” said 19 Broadway co-owner Garry Graham, a close friend. “He had a lot of musical disciples. He meant a lot to a lot of guys. This is a great loss for our town.”
Tim Bush, who played bass in Chuck Day’s band, the Burning Sensations, called him “the best musician I’ve ever played with in my life. He had the most soulful voice.”
As a bandleader, Bush added, “He could be the sweetest guy on the planet or a tough SOB.” In 1997, the band recorded a CD, “Desperate Measures.”
In an Independent Journal interview, Charles “Chuck” Day conceded that he smoked and drank too much. Last summer, he was too ill to attend a tribute day at the Fairfax Festival. It included a concert in his honor featuring his many musician friends and proteges, who billed themselves as “Chuck’s Chilluns.”
“The whole town turned out for it,” said Mike McShea, who helped organize the show. “It was the biggest crowd ever.”
While renowned for his musicianship, he also was remarkably astute and highly intelligent. “He was a brilliant conversationalist,” Graham said. “People should know how smart he was.”
Chuck also recorded with The Young Gyants, Shel Silverstein and in 2006 with Steve Wolf.
Chuck Day died after a long illness on March 10, 2008 at the age of 65.
March 16, 2008 – Ola Brunkert (Swedish session drummer for Abba) was born in Örebro, Sweden on 15 September 1946. He began his musical career as a jazz drummer. His first professional job was with the Slim’s Blues Gang, before joining the pop group Science Poption in the mid ’60s. He then formed the jazz-rock combo Opus III with the guitarist Janne Schaffer and by 1970 had become one of the most sought after session drummers in Stockholm. His first session with Abba was on their first single, “People Need Love,” in 1972.
He was not among the four members of ABBA whose faces adorned the album covers — Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad—but was a key supporting musician for the group as it achieved stardom. Brunkert played on the group’s first single “People Need Love”, their Eurovision hit “Waterloo”, and consistently on a great many of their recordings throughout the 1970s. ABBA promised that ‘one day we’re gonna let you hear him sing’ in the liner notes for the album Arrival in 1976. His last recording session with the group was in October 1981, recording their hit single “One of Us”.
March 13, 2008 – Martin Fierro was born on January 18th 1942.
Unlike the famous, but epically somber poem by Argentinian poet José Henriquez published in two parts, El Gaucho Martín Fierro(1872) and La Vuelta de Martín Fierro (1879 Martin Fierro was a magnificent and funny Session saxophone player in the San Francisco Bay Area who was also known as “the Meester” to his many loving fans.
March 2, 2008 –Jeff Healey was one of the finest, most underrated, blues rock guitarists/vocalist of his generation. Due to cancer his eyes were surgically removed when he was one year old, which was probably a major reason for starting to play guitar at age 3 in a very unconventional way- flat on his lap. That way he could use 4 fingers plus his thumb to create amazing solos. Even though he broke into the public limelight as a result of being the “house band” in Patrick Swayze’s 1989 movie Roadhouse, it really was Stevie Ray Vaughn and fellow blues guitarist Albert Collins, who discovered Healey in a spontaneous Toronto Canada jam session.
February 28, 2008- Michael George ‘Mike’ Smith (the Dave Clark Five) was born on December 6, 1943 in in Edmonton, North London. His parents found he had a natural ability as a pianist that surfaced as early as age five. Smith started lessons in classical piano, and at age 13 passed the entrance exams at Trinity Music College in London.
He met Dave Clark first when they were both members on the same football team for the St. George Boys Club. At age 17, Dave asked him to join his band; his debut recording with the band was “I Knew It All the Time”/”That’s What I Said” in 1963. The band had 19 UK Top 40 hits, including ‘Bits and Pieces‘ and the No.1 single ‘Glad All Over’. They had US hits with ‘Because’, ‘I Like it Like That’ and ‘Glad All Over’, and set a record among British acts after appearing on the Ed Sullivan show 13 times.
February, 26, 2008 – George Allen ”Buddy” Miles, Jr. (Band of Gypsies) was born on September 5, 1947 in Omaha, Nebraska. Buddy’s father played upright bass for the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, and Dexter Gordon and by age 12, Miles Jr. had joined Miles Sr. in his touring band, The Bebops. In 1964, at the age of 16, Miles met Jimi Hendrix at a show in Montreal, Canada, where both were performing as sidemen for other artists.
“He was playing in the Isley Brothers band and I was with Ruby & The Romantics,” Miles remembered, adding: “He had his hair in a pony-tail with long sideburns. Even though he was shy, I could tell this guy was different. He looked rather strange, because everybody was wearing uniforms and he was eating his guitar, doing flip-flops and wearing chains.”Continue reading Buddy Miles 2/2008
January 15, 2008 –Bobby Ferrara was born Robert Patrick Ferrara on July 22nd 1965 Bobby Ferrara in Queens Village, Long Island, New York.
He was in sixth grade when he started playing guitar and never received formal lessons. His major influences were Eddie van Halen and Kiss’s Ace Frehley and he practiced them 4 to 5 hours every day. He was a quiet introvert kid who loved his music and waited out his life for the right woman. But those qualities made him an extraordinary shredder. His jaw-dropping solo flurries, wah-drenched fusillades and high-energy freakout got him New York’s Hot Licks guitar contest twice, and made him a world class guitarist.
January 10, 2008 – Rod Allen (The Fortunes)was born Rodney Bainbridge on March 31, 1944 in Leicester, England where his parents were shopkeepers. His interest in popular music was fired by skiffle, in particular by the voice and guitar of Lonnie Donegan, whose fan club he joined at the age of 12.
When he was 14, the family moved to the Sparkbrook district of Birmingham and Rod attended Moseley grammar school. After graduation he worked for the Co-operative Insurance Society for 18 months, before he became a full-time musician. He had formed an acoustic guitar group, the Clifftones, with friends Glen Dale and Barry Pritchard. In 1963 they went electric, with Rod mastering the bass guitar; they added a drummer and keyboards player. They were managed by the flamboyant concert promoter Reg Calvert, who prevailed upon them to accompany a singer Calvert had renamed “Robbie Hood”. The Clifftones inevitably became the Merry Men, dressed in jerkins and green tights.
January 19, 2008 –John Coburn Stewartwas born September 5th 1939in San Diego, California, Stewart was the son of horse trainer John S. Stewart and spent his childhood and adolescence in southern California, living mostly in the cities of Pasadena and Claremont.
He graduated in 1957 from High School, which at the time was a coeducational school. He demonstrated an early talent for music, learning the guitar and banjo. He composed his first song, “Shrunken Head Boogie,” when he was ten years old. In an interview in Michael Oberman’s Music makers column (The Washington, DC Star Newspaper) on Oct. 30, 1971, Stewart said, “I bought a ukelele when I was in Pasadena. I would listen to Sons of the Pioneers records. Tex Ritter really turned me on to music. ‘I Love My Rooster’ was Top Ten as far as I was concerned.”