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Teena Marie 12/2010

teena marieDec 26, 2010 – Teena Marie was born Mary Christine Brockert on March 5, 1956 in Santa Monica, CA. She was of Belgian, Portuguese, Irish, Italian, and Native American ancestry.

She took to singing naturally, performing Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song by age two. She also developed a fondness for singing Motown songs, and her self-professed “gift from God” would become fine-tuned as the years progressed.

When she was eight years old, her parents began sending Tina on auditions which, among other things, netted her an acting role on The Beverly Hillbillies, credited as Tina Marie Brockert. She also sang at the wedding of Jerry Lewis’ son when she was 10 years old. Reared in a Roman Catholic household, she learned to play the piano under the tutelage of two nuns, and later taught herself the guitar, bass, and congas. She would go on to form a semi-professional R&B band with her younger brother Anthony and their cousin.

In the early 1970s, after the family moved to Venice, Los Angeles, Brockert spent her adolescent years in the historically black Venice enclave of Oakwood, nicknamed “Venice Harlem”. There, she would acquire a strong spiritual influence from neighborhood matriarch Berthalynn Jackson, an African American who would become her godmother.

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Captain Beefheart 12/2010

Captain BeefheartDecember 17, 2010 – Captain Beefheart was born Donald Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941 in Glendale California. To try and describe Don Vliet as Captain Beefheart (his musician alter ego) or Don Van Vliet (his visual artist alter ego) in normal words is almost impossible. As Captain Beefheart he became one of the most influential and most unique performers in rock history. For a more complete impression of this man’s inner workings I recommend a couple of hours on a website that is still maintained about him five years after his passing.

While attending Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster – California Desert, he became close friends with fellow teenager Frank Zappa, bonding through their interest in Chicago blues and R&B; they sporadically competed and collaborated throughout their lives, mostly as friends, sometimes as competitors and sometimes as opponents, like two geniuses on ego-trips. It’s almost uncanny that they were born within a couple of weeks of eachother, met in the desert in their teens and from there became individually two of the most avant garde musical explorers of a generation, often resulting in an exchange of ultimate “weirdness”. Yet it happened and it created 2 rock geniuses that left the music changed in a way, only matched by the Velvet Underground Greenwich Village experience in Manhattan.

Don was noted for his powerful singing voice with its wide range, while he also played the harmonica, saxophone and other wind instruments. His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with free jazz, avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition.

His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians he called The Magic Band, active between 1965 and 1982, with whom he recorded 12 studio albums. The name of the band was an extension of the “Captain Beefheart” persona that Frank Zappa, Vic Mortenson and others helped him create; the idea being that Captain Beefheart was magic, and thus would have a “magic band”. He would simply drink a Pepsi, and the band would appear behind him. The original Magic Band was rhythm and blues guitarist Alex Snouffer, Doug Moon on guitar, Jerry Handley on bass, and Mortenson on drums, the latter soon replaced by Paul (P.G.) Blakely. The Magic Band still tours and has now passed the count of 40 members during the years.

Personnel of the Magic Band for Beefheart’s first album were John “Drumbo” French, Ry Cooder, Snouffer and Handley. For their album ‘Trout Mask Replica’ he locked the Magic Band in a house in Woodland Hills for eight months, continually rehearsing and reworking the songs. Virtually broke, they often had nothing but bread to eat but when they finally got into the studio, they recorded the entire double album in four and a half hours.

Their 1970’s album ‘Lick My Decals Off, Baby’ was an album with “a very coherent structure” in the Magic Band’s “most experimental and visionary stage”, it was Don’s most commercially successful in Britain, spending twenty weeks on the UK Albums Chart and peaking at number 20. In 1982, Vliet became tired of the rock and roll business culture, visibly resented by the hypocritical atmosphere that manages it and by the consumerist mechanisms that regulate it, so he abandoned music and became somewhat reclusive stating (and proving) that he could make far more money with his painting. Beefheart’s actual first exhibition had been at Liverpool’s Bluecoat Gallery during the Magic Band’s 1972 tour of the UK, but his debut exhibition as a full time painter was at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York’s Soho district in 1985.

The last recording sessions, in 1984, never saw the light of day. Captain Beefheart had disappeared forever, like an exotic animal chased back into the jungle by civilization.

Ironically, Don Vliet gave up the Captain Beefheart persona, just as the world started noticing his music. Captain Beefheart’s influence on alternative rock and the new wave of the 80s has been matched only by the Velvet Underground.

It was then that finally the critics had noticed that blues had little to do with Van Vliet’s music. Once recognized, Don Van Vliet became the rock equivalent of Vincent Van Gogh. To claim that Captain Beefheart was a blues man would be like claiming that Van Gogh was an impressionist painter, a taxonomic fact that says nothing about Van Gogh’s art, other than indicating in which section of the museum Van Gogh’s paintings were probably displayed.

After his retirement from music, he was rarely seen in public and he lived near Trinidad, California with his wife Janet “Jan” Van Vliet. Sadly by the early 1990s he had become wheelchair-bound, suffering from multiple sclerosis. One of his last public appearances was in the 1993 short documentary Some Yo Yo Stuff  by Dutch  filmmaker Anton Corbijn; van Vliet is a true Dutch name, so that maybe the reason why he agreed to this.

Don Van Vliet also published a book of poetry and drawings and moved back to his native California desert, where he lived on the proceeds of his paintings until his passed at age 69, on December 17, 2010.

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Jim Clench 11/2010

Jim Clench of April WineNov 3, 2010 – James Patrick “Jim” Clench (61) was born May 1st 1949. The Montreal bassist’s musical career began with a band called the Coven, before he joined April Wine, where he played bass on four albums — 1971’s April Wine, 1972’s On Record, 1973’s Electric Jewels and 1975’s Stand Back.

He also took over lead vocals from Myles Goodwyn on songs such as Weeping Widow and Oowatanite, a song he wrote. His growling voice was a distinctive element for the band.

He left to join another band with Greenway, who eventually joined April Wine as a permanent member after that other group failed to get a recording contract.

Clench then played with Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO), taking over bass from Randy Bachman who went solo and sharing lead vocal duties with Fred Turner in the period after Randy Bachman left the group.

Clench played on 1978’s Street Action and 1979’s Rock N’ Roll Nights with BTO before the group disbanded in 1979.
Shortly afterwards, Clench also appeared as a guest musician on Bryan Adams’s 1980 debut album and then appeared in Loverboy, who made their live debut opening for Kiss at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. on November 19, 1979.

In 1992, Goodwyn reformed April Wine and Clench returned to record four more studio albums, 1993’s Attitude, 1994’s Frigate, 2001’s Back to the Mansion and 2006’s Roughly Speaking.joined the rock band April Wine in 1972, where he also took part in some lead vocals on songs such as “Oowatanite” and “Weeping Widow”. His last album with the band was Stand Back, released just before he left in 1975. In 1977, Jim was asked to join Bachman Turner Overdrive as bassist, he stayed with BTO until its demise in the late 1970s, appearing on the albums Street Action and Rock n’ Roll Nights.

In 1992, April Wine was reformed and Jim recorded four more studio albums since the band reformed: Attitude, Frigate, Back to the Mansion, and Roughly Speaking. Jim died after battling lung cancer on Nov 3, 2010.

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Michael Been 8/2010

the call's frontman Michael BeenAugust 19, 2010 – Michael Kenneth Been (the Call, Aorta, H.P. Lovecraft) was born on April 15, 1950 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He spent his childhood in Oklahoma City. At the age of seven he won a talent contest at a local fair and began performing on local television and radio as “Little Elvis”.”I grew up on rock and roll,” he recalled. “I saw Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show and I was never the same. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. I started playing guitar as soon as I was old enough. When I was a kid, music just seemed to take up so much of my day voluntarily. That’s how I wanted to spend my time.”

In the mid-1960s the Been family moved to Chicago, where he attended high school and the University of Illinois, and experimented with comedy, beating his friend John Belushi to second place in the Illinois state competition. In Chicago, he saw the blues greats Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed, and started a group called Aorta, which was strongly influenced by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and The Band, whose members Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson would later record with The Call.

Between 1969 and 1971 Been was in Lovecraft, a spin-off of the psychedelic group HP Lovecraft, and, after relocating to California in 1972, he joined Fine Wine, which featured two former members of another legendary psychedelic outfit, Moby Grape. However, he really made his mark in 1979 when he started Moving Pictures, soon renamed The Call, with a fellow Oklahoman, drummer Scott Musick, and two Santa Cruz locals, guitarist Tom Ferrier and bassist Greg Freeman. “It all fell together so naturally,” he said. “We played together so effortlessly and trusted each other.”

In 1980 they travelled to the UK to record demos and saw Joy Division and the Gang Of Four. “The British weren’t so concerned with technique and orthodox standards, they just played like their lives depended on it,” Been said. “In fact, everyone thought we were an English band.” In 1982, they signed to Mercury and recorded their eponymous debut in Britain with noted producer Hugh Padgham. Through him, they met Gabriel, who called them “the future of American music.”

The Call made a big impression with their 1983 follow-up, the hard-hitting Modern Romans. Been recalled then: “There was a great deal happening politically – Grenada, the Lebanon – the US government saying the Russians are evil. That kind of thinking inspired me to write the last lines of ‘The Walls Came Down’. The album reflected the times.”

Unfortunately, a dispute between the group, their management and Mercury affected the release of Scene Beyond Dreams in 1984 and left them in limbo until they signed to Elektra two years later. Keyboard-player Jim Goodwin replaced Freeman, while Been switched from guitar to an Ampeg fretless bass, and they made Reconciled at the Power Station studio in New York. Gabriel and Kerr sang background vocals on “Everywhere I Go”, the album’s strong opener, and both that track and “I Still Believe” gained considerable airplay, though they lost momentum with the more introspective Into The Woods in 1987 before moving to the MCA label. The following year, The Call achieved their highest chart placings with the big-sounding Let The Day Begin album, which featured the actor Harry Dean Stanton, whom Been had met while making The Last Temptation of Christ, on harmonica.

The Call’s anthemic, socially conscious, spiritually influenced music drew critical comparisons to Irish superstars U2, and the admiration of people such as film director Martin Scorsese, who in 1988 cast Been as John the Apostle in “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

“I had the pleasure and honor to spend a fair amount of time with Michael Been while touring America. It really was an honor. Simple Minds may have been the headliners, but there was no doubt that is was us who looked up to our opening act The Call. All of which stood to reason. We may have just topped the Billboard charts, but we all knew it was Michael who was the ‘real deal’ in comparison to ourselves who, at that time, had buckets of chutzpah, well enough to disguise the fact that, by and large we were still well wet behind the ears. By that time, Michael had already lived ‘an artist’s life’ and travelled far and wide, both in body and mind, from the dusty backroads of Oklahoma.
“A preacher and a teacher, Michael was always much more than your usual ‘ten-a-penny’ careerist ’80s rock star. As driven as he was with his beliefs, he was far from sanctimonious and always a hoot to be around. He had a similar soul that one perceives in true American greats such as Robbie Robertson, but he also had the wickedly spirited comedy of John Belushi draped all around him. Both Charlie [Burchill, the Simple Minds guitarist] and myself adored Michael.”

Following 1990’s Red Moon, which had Bono on the gospel-tinged “What’s Happened To You”, The Call disbanded, though they returned with one more studio album in 1997. Been composed and recorded the music for Light Sleeper, the 1992 offbeat drama starring Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon and directed by Paul Schrader, and also collaborated with Rosie Vela and Bruce Cockburn.

In 1994, Been released a solo album, On The Edge Of A Nervous Breakthrough. Vice President Al Gore adopted The Call’s high-blooded “Let the Day Begin” as the theme for his presidential campaign, and Been’s music was used in such films as “The Lost Boys,” “Tango & Cash” and “Light Sleeper.”
Over the last decade, he devoted most of his time and energy to mentoring Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the indie rock trio formed in San Francisco by his son, Robert Levon Been, and Peter Hayes. He engineered and co-produced several of their albums and is listed as sole producer of their most recent recording, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo. He was working as BRMC’s sound engineer when he suffered a heart attack backstage at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium.

Been died from a heart attack suffered while he was at Belgium’s Pukkelpop Festival) on August 19, 2010. He was 60.

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Kenny Edwards 8/2010

kenny edwards with linda ronstadtAugust 18, 2010 – Kenneth Michael ‘Kenny’ Edwards was born on February 10, 1946 in Santa Monica California. He had the good fortune to begin life in the Southern California community of Santa Monica where much musical history would be recorded. Little did he know that he would eventually be in the thick of the most active of all the entertainment media, and more impressively, be an integral part of its growth. All types of music captivated him at an early age, which made him a willing and able student of diverse ethnic sounds, including early American bluegrass, country, folk, and rock. In 1965, Edwards teamed up with Bob Kimmel, a transplant from Tuscon, and formed a folk group which would soon after be embellished by the powerful vocals of Linda Ronstadt, whom Kimmel knew from Arizona. The group called themselves the Stone Ponys and, with the help of their new manager, Herb Cohen, quickly managed to secure a recording contract with Capitol Records, gaining considerable recognition by the American folk-rock mass. Their first album was, by many accounts, considered to be a masterpiece that displayed lush harmonies provided by Edwards and Kimmel, although the record did not spawn a hit. The second attempt, released in 1967, contained the hit song “Different Drum,” which induced Capitol to send the band out on tour. However, just before the tour, the Stone Ponys decided to terminate their relationship, leaving Ronstadt to fulfill the final album commitment on the contract. Edwards would rejoin Ronstadt in 1974 and spend the next five years as a key force behind her successful run.

After leaving the Stone Ponys in 1968, Edwards united with Wendy Waldman, Andrew Gold and Karla Bonoff, each of whom were prolific songwriters, accomplished musicians, and great singers. They had aspirations of launching individual careers, but enjoyed singing together so much that they decided to join forces and become a group. The quartet called themselves Bryndle and would win a recording contract with A&M Records in 1970, but their only album remained in the can, and just the single “Woke Up This Morning” was released. The frustrating end to their dream caused Bryndle to disband, but they would re-form two decades later.

In 1974, Edwards was approached by Ronstadt and she asked him to rejoin her band and help to ignite her floundering career. It turned out to be one of the best moves she ever made because he also brought along Andrew Gold. Edwards, who would play bass, remained the standing foundation in Ronstadt’s band for the next five years, and with Gold, served as the spark that did indeed ignite her career. Edwards stuck with Ronstadt through her glory years, touring extensively and providing invaluable input in the studio which took full advantage of his multi-instrumental prowess, not to mention vocals, collaborative songwriting, and creative production ideas.

By the late ’70s, Edwards grew to become a talented, well-rounded, aspiring record producer whose next step would be commander of his own project. His former bandmate from Bryndle, Karla Bonoff, landed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1977 and she called upon him to produce her. He produced all three albums. The first, titled Karla Bonoff, was the most successful. After Bonoff’s contract expired, Edwards continued to get more and more calls for his services as producer as well as studio musician and vocalist. He put in more than his share of air miles between L.A. and Nashville, but still found enough time to branch out into other areas, taking on the production of feature films, one of which was Vince Gill’s version of “When Will I Be Loved” for the movie Eight Seconds that he co-produced with Andrew Gold.

Other credits include writing and scoring films and teleplays such as Miami Vice, Crime Story, The Street, The Secret Sins of the Father, and others. In the early ’90s, having enjoyed successful careers individually, Edwards, Waldman, Bonoff, and Gold decided to put Bryndle back in action. Their first CD was released on Music Masters/BMG Records. Entering 2001, they continued to write and record new material, and tour throughout the U.S. and Asia. By the end of 2002, Edwards had finished his first solo album.

His session work has seen Edwards work either live or in the studio with acts such as Emmylou Harris, Stevie Nicks, J.D. Souther, Don Henley, Brian Wilson, Warren Zevon, Art Garfunkel, Vince Gill, Mac McAnally, David Lee Murphy, Jennifer Warnes, Danny Kortchmar, Lowell George, as well as a younger generation of artists including Glen Phillips and Natalie D-Napoleon. Edwards released his first, self-titled solo album in 2002. In his later years, he performed as a singer-songwriter, often with Nina Gerber accompanying, and completed the recording and release of a second solo album in 2009.

Edwards’ career had spanned four decades, consumed thousands of studio hours, and countless thousands of air miles, and he has participated in the creation of libraries full of hit songs. His is not a household name except to those in the industry, but he has played an influential part in musical history, especially where it pertains to the development of country-rock music and its boom during the ’70s. With the release of his 2nd solo cd, Resurrection Road” Edwards, who for most of his career was the consummate backup ace, took a more prominent position on stage and had planned to play an important part in the future development of music for some time to come.

Sadly Kenny lost his battle with prostate cancer on August 18, 2010. He was 64.

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Catfish Collins 8/2010

parliament-funkadelics rhythm Catfish CollinsAugust 6, 2010 – Catfish Collins was born Phelps Collins in  1944 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Born into a musical family, Catfish began playing the guitar as a child. When his younger brother Bootsy showed a desire to learn the bass, Catfish stripped the strings from one of his old guitars and put bass strings on it, helping to define Bootsy’s signature funk sound. From then on, the brothers made music together. He received his nickname Catfish from Bootsy, who thought his brother resembled a fish. The nickname appeared to suit the happy-go-lucky guitarist, who always had a broad smile on his face.

By the mid-1960s Catfish began to get work as a session musician at King Records, the pioneering Cincinnati independent label that had a roster of rhythm and blues stars including James Brown. Catfish also introduced his brother to the music of Indiana blues guitarist Lonnie Mack.

The siblings first played together in the Pacemakers, a funk act, in 1968. They quickly acquired a reputation as the most dynamic r&b band in the midwest. In early 1970, when several members of Brown’s band quit in a dispute over money, he immediately hired the Pacemakers, flying them in to perform, without rehearsal, behind him on stage. The jewel in King Record’s crown, James Brown, had taken good note of Catfish’s skills on rhythm guitar. As it was, Catfish’s clean, funky strumming was integral to Brown classics like “Super Bad,” “Get Up,” “Soul Power,” and “Give It Up.”

“It was like playing a big school with James as the teacher, like psychotic bump school, only deeper,” Bootsy told Rolling Stone in 1978.

The youth, verve, wit and spontaneity of Bootsy and Catfish’s playing pushed Brown into recording some of the most remarkable music in his long career. Brown named his new band the JB’s, and they played on such Brown hits as Super Bad, Soul Power, Give It Up Or Turnit a Loose and the awe-inspiring Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine. The music’s driving rhythms, popping bass lines and crisp, choppy guitar became defined as “funk“. Funk proved to be a liberating tool for African American pop, rock, soul and jazz; provided a soundtrack for the Black Power political movement and Blaxploitation films; and created a sonic blueprint for disco and then rap.

By 1971, the freewheeling Collins brothers had tired of Brown’s autocratic leadership and both of them left his band. They formed the House Guests and then joined George Clinton’s psychedelic band(s) Parliament-Funkadelic, immediately contributing to the album “America Eats Its Young. Together, the Collins brothers helped direct Clinton’s visionary project towards a broad audience.

Bootsy would soon become a huge star in the US as leader of Bootsy’s Rubber Band, a side project that grew out of Parliament-Funkadelic. As ever, Catfish was at his side when he joined Bootsy’s Rubber Band four years later. They enjoyed huge popularity. The two brothers, along with Waddy, Joel “Razor Sharp” Johnson, Gary “Muddbone” Cooper and Robert “P-Nut” Johnson and The Horny Horns, played on such US r&b hits as Tear the Roof Off the Sucker, Bootzilla and Aqua Boogie, creating music filled with spontaneity, joy and pumping funk. Catfish would continue to play with his brother and with Parliament-Funkadelic until 1983.

In 1983, Catfish split from Funkadelic and maintained a low profile from then on. He would tour and record with Bootsy on occasion, but he found session work more lucrative, guesting on Deee-Lite’s 1990 hit Groove Is in The Heart, Freekbass, and H-Bomb and reuniting with old friends to contribute to the soundtrack of Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy Superbad soundtrack.

Catfish lost his fight with cancer on August 6, 2010. He was 66.

“My world will never be the same without him,” said his brother Bootsy Collins in a statement. “Be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fellow I ever met on this planet.”

Bernie Worrell – “He was a hell of a musician. He taught me a lot about rhythms. People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

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Bobby Hebb 8/2010

Booby Hebb wrote SunnyAugust 3, 2010 – Robert Von Bobby Hebb was born on July 26, 1938 in Nshville, Tennessee.

His parents were both blind musicians. Hebb and older brother Harold performed as a song-and-dance team in Nashville beginning when Bobby was three and Harold was nine.

Hebb performed on a TV show hosted by country music record producer Owen Bradley, which earned him a place with Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. Hebb played Spoons and other instruments in Acuff’s band. Harold later became a member of Johnny Bragg and the Marigolds. Bobby Hebb sang backup on Bo Diddley’s “Diddley Daddy”. Hebb played “West-coast-style” trumpet in a United States Navy jazz band, and replaced Mickey Baker in Mickey and Sylvia.

In 1960 he reached the New York Top 50 with a remake of Roy Acuff’s “Night Train To Memphis”.

On November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Bobby Hebb’s brother, Harold, was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and sought comfort in songwriting. Though many claim that the song he wrote after both tragedies was the optimistic “Sunny”, Hebb himself stated otherwise. He immersed himself in the Gerald Wilson album, You Better Believe It!, for comfort.

“All my intentions were just to think of happier times – basically looking for a brighter day – because times were at a low tide. After I wrote it, I thought “Sunny” just might be a different approach to what Johnny Bragg was talking about in “Just Walkin’ in the Rain”.
“Sunny” was recorded in New York City after demos were made with the record producer Jerry Ross. Released as a single in 1966, “Sunny” reached No. 3 on the R&B charts, No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 12 in the United Kingdom. When Hebb toured with The Beatles in 1966 his “Sunny” was, at the time of the tour, ranked higher than any Beatles song then on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[citation needed] BMI rated “Sunny” number 25 in its “Top 100 songs of the century”.

In 1966 Bobby after recording “Sunny”, he toured with The Beatles.

BMI rates “Sunny” number 25 in its Top 100 songs of the century, it sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It is also one of the most covered popular songs, with hundreds of versions released, by the likes of Cher, Boney M, Georgie Fame, Johnny Rivers, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, The Four Seasons, the Four Tops, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and Dusty Springfield.

Hebb also had lesser hits with his “A Satisfied Mind” in 1966 (No. 39 on the Billboard chart and No. 40 on the R&B chart) and “Love Me” in 1967 and wrote many other songs, including Lou Rawls’ 1971 hit “A Natural Man” (co-written with comedian Sandy Baron). Six years prior to “Sunny”, Hebb reached the New York City Top 50 with a remake of Roy Acuff’s “Night Train to Memphis”. In 1972, his single “Love Love Love” reached No. 32 on the UK charts.

In 1976, Hebb released a newly recorded disco version entitled “Sunny ’76”. The single was a minor hit reaching No. 94 on the R&B chart.

After a recording gap of thirty five years he recorded a new album; That’s All I Wanna Know was his first commercial release since Love Games in 1970. It was released in Europe in late 2005 by Tuition, a new pop indie label. New versions of “Sunny” were also issued two duets: one with Astrid North, and one with Pat Appleton. In October 2008 Bobby toured and played in Osaka and Tokyo in Japan.

On August 3, 2010 Bobby lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 72.

Ipanema Films of Germany was involved in a biographical film which included Hebb, his biographer Joseph Tortelli, and Billy Cox.

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Ben Keith Schaeufele 7/2010

July 26, 2010 – Ben Keith Schaeufele was born on March 6th 1937 in Fort Riley, Kansas and later relocated to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

As a member of Nashville’s A-Team in the 50s and 60s, one of his early successes was his steel guitar playing on Patsy Cline’s 1961 hit “I Fall to Pieces” and was a fixture of the Nashville country music community in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keith met Young in 1971 in Nashville, where the rocker was working on what would become his commercial breakthrough album, “Harvest.” Keith came to the recording studio at the invitation of bassist Tim Drummond, whom Young had asked to find a steel player for the sessions. When Keith arrived, “I didn’t know who anyone was, so I asked, ‘Who’s that guy over there?’ ” and was told “That’s Neil Young.”

“I came in and quietly set up my guitar — they had already started playing — and started playing,” Keith recalled in a 2006 interview. “We did five songs that were on the ‘Harvest’ record, just one right after the other, before I even said hello to him.”

This spawned a collaboration that would last nearly 40 years, as Keith went on to play with Young on over a dozen albums and numerous tours. Keith also played the role of Grandpa Green in the Neil Young feature-length movie Greendale, a film accompaniment released on DVD to Young’s 2004 album of the same name.

Working with Young opened many doors for Ben; he became one of the rock world’s premier multi-instrumentalist backing musicians, with recording credits that include Terry Reid, J. J. Cale, Todd Rundgren, Lonnie Mack, The Band, Blue, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Willie Nelson, Paul Butterfield, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, Ian and Sylvia, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Anne Murray and Ringo Starr.

Keith was featured prominently in “Neil Young Trunk Show,” shot in Pennsylvania at a stop on Young’s 2007-2008 concert tour. Young said a key reason he chose to tour with Keith, bassist Rick Rosas and Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina, rather than convening the full, hard-rocking Crazy Horse trio, was that “I can do more variety this way, because Ben plays so many instruments.”

He also served as the producer of Jewel’s  highly successful debut album Pieces of You, and has worked as solo artist. He toured with Crosby Stills Nash & Young on their 2006 Freedom of Speech tour.

Keith died of a blood clot in his lung while at his home on Young’s ranch in Northern California on July 26, 2010 at the age of 73.

Jonathan Demme, who directed Young’s concert films “Neil Young Trunk Show” from earlier this year and 2006’s “Heart of Gold,” said Keith had been staying at Young’s ranch in Northern California, working on new projects with his longtime collaborator.

Demme called Keith “an elegant, beautiful dude, and obviously a genius. He could play every instrument. He was literally the bandleader on any of that stuff… Neil has all the confidence in the world, but with Ben on board, there were no limits. Neil has a fair measure of the greatness of his music, but he knew he was even better when Ben was there.”

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Fred Carter 7/2010

July 17, 2010 – Fred F. Carter Jr. was born on December 31, 1933 in the delta country in Winnsboro, the northeastern part of Louisiana.

(Photo: Fred with his daughter and award winning country star Deanne Carter)

Carter grew up with the heavy musical influences of jazz, country & western, hymns, and blues. His first instrument was the mandolin which he began playing at the age of 3. He later learned to play fiddle as well. While in the Air Force in his late teens, he was the band leader for the USO variety show entertaining troops across Europe. His bunkmate during the tour was the MC and fellow serviceman Larry Hagman who went on to television fame. After leaving the Air Force, Carter attended Centenary Music College on scholarship as a violist despite the fact he could not read music but instead had to memorize all of his orchestral pieces.

After leaving Centenary, Carter began his professional career in the 1950s, his first partner in music was another Franklin Parish native, Allen “Puddler” Harris. He started taking up guitar seriously and got his first taste of fame playing in the house band of the popular Louisiana Hayride radio program, which led to a gig with Roy Orbison during the late ’50s when Orbison was signed to famed Memphis label Sun Records. Carter  became part of his band and moving to Hollywood with Roy. Later, he worked with Orbison in Nashville on the Monument Sessions notably heard on Dream Baby as the opening guitar.

He subsequently worked with Dale Hawkins of “Suzie Q” song fame, and then joined Dale’s cousin Ronnie Hawkins whose group The Hawks later became The Band, (sans Hawkins). He played a key role in the career of Ronnie Hawkins, serving as his lead guitarist from 1959 to 1960 and mentoring his eventual replacement, a young Toronto, Ontario guitarist named Robbie Robertson. During this busy and formative time, Carter also toured and became lifelong friends with Conway Twitty.

Carter’s career as a musician began at the birth of rock’n’roll, and over the next four decades he branched off into songwriting, production and label management.

In the early 1960s, Carter settled into the Nashville session scene. He quickly earned a place as part of Nashville’s famous A Team. His discography for the next 3 decades is extensive and wide ranging: Carter played guitar and mandolin for two of Joan Baez’s albums in the late 1960s. He then worked on Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. Notably, Carter provide numerous memorable guitar performances including five guitar parts for “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel (the iconic opening riff is Carter’s creation), “I’m Just An Old Chunk Of Coal” by John Anderson, “I’ve Always Been Crazy” and “Whistlers and Jugglers” by Waylon Jennings. He also played guitar and bass on the Bob Dylan albums “Self Portrait”, “Nashville Skyline” , “John Wesley Harding” and on the Connie Francis hit single, “The Wedding Cake”. During this time Carter was also a member of the supergroup Levon Helm and the RCO All Stars, composed of Levon Helm, Booker T. Jones, Dr. John, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and the Saturday Night Live horns.

Carter owned Nugget Records in Goodlettsville, TN for many years. Songs such a Jesse Colter’s “I’m Not Lisa” were originally recorded at Nugget. Willie Nelson famously recut his famed Phases and Stages album with Fred at Nugget after Willie expressed dissatisfaction with the first version of the album cut in Muscle Shoals, AL.

Production credits for Carter include Levon Helm’s American Son album on MCA Records, and Bobby Bridger’s “Heal in the Wisdom”. He also helped Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker land their first record deals.

Carter was a member of the band Levon Helm and The RCO All-Stars. This band was composed of Levon Helm, Carter, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, and the NBC Saturday Night Live horns.

Although Carter recorded with top country stars such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson, it could be argued that his biggest contribution was being a crucial member of the group of Nashville session players that enabled artists such as Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Young, Ian & Sylvia and Leonard Cohen to record some of their most memorable music there.

Carter was a complete guitarist. He was accomplished as both a flat picker and fingerpicker and could play any genre fluently. Carter was widely recognized as being the “earthiest” player in Nashville with an ability to add subtle flavor to any recording. He is known for distinctive fills with both soulful and playful colorations. He also had small roles in several films including The Adventures of Huck Finn starring Elijah Wood.

He died of a stroke on July 17, 2010 in Nashville at the age of 76.

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Harold Cowart 6/2010

harold-cowartJune 27, 2010 – Harold Cowart was born June 12, 1944. Raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Cowart began his music career as a teenager, originally playing with Lenny Capello and the Dots. American bassist and occasional trumpet player born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He began his career in his teens, playing with Lenny Capello and the Dots, before becoming a member of the band John Fred and His Playboys, where he created one of the most memorable bass lines in The Beatle penned “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)“, which topped the US pop charts for two weeks in 1968.

Following his ’60s run with John Fred Gourrier and the Playboy Band, Cowart moved to Miami and recorded and toured with the Bee Gees and their younger brother, Andy Gibb.

During the 1970s he established himself a much sought-after studio musician, much of it at Miami’s Criteria Recording Studio, recording and playing with the Bee Gees and also contributing instrumentally to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream”, Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” (1969), Frankie Valli’s “Grease” (1978), Andy Gibbs’ album “Shadow Dancing” (1978), Jay Ferguson’s “Thunder Island” and the Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb duet “Guilty” (1980).

After subsequent years of obscurity playing Baton Rouge area clubs with Joe Landry and the Southland Band, Cowart joined the house band for the 1986 Cinemax special “Fats & Friends.” David Letterman’s band leader Paul Shaffer led the group (featuring Rolling Stone Ron Wood) as it backed rock ’n’ roll pioneers Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis.

In 1987 he opened his own recording studio named Bluff Roads Studio near his Prairieville home, where he produced a wide range of artists including Louisiana Boys, New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt last album, and rapper Young Bleed.

He died on June 27, 2010 at the age of 66.

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JoJo Billingsley 6/2010

jojo-billingsleyJune 24, 2010 – JoJo Billingsley was born Deborah Jo Billingsley on May 28, 1952 in Memphis Tennessee and raised in Tennessean country communities. She started singing at age three; took dance lessons (tap and jazz) from the time she was three to about age 14. She also was church soloist by the time I was 10 or 12 and deeply involved in the music program at school; choral group, girl’s vocal ensemble, as a soloist coloratura soprano. She received a scholarship to attend the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) but had a difficult time because she never had music theory. When she was 16 she was invited to attend Juliard School but her dad would not let her because it was in New York City.

After her dad passed in 1971 she took up singing as a profession and first joined Oil Can Harry with whom she toured the US and Europe in 1973/74, and then joined Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Honkettes”.

A friend of mine named Bob O’Neal was doing the lights for Skynyrd and Fleetwood Mac; he turned my name into them and Kevin Elson (the sound producer) invited me to come to Nashville to a concert. It was there I met Ronnie Van Zant for the first time and he hired me on the spot. When I entered the room backstage where he was sitting with his bare feet propped up on a table, he took one look at me, tipped his hat back, smiled and said, “she’ll do just fine!” and hired me without ever hearing me sing. Good thing I knew how!

The next 3 years were magic with numerous tours around the world until on October 20, 1977 the airplane crash killed several members of the band and road crew, but Billingsley was the only band member not on the flight.

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Pete Quaife 6/2010

pete-quaifeJune 23, 2010 – Pete Quaife (The Kinks) was born Peter Alexander Greenlaw on December 31, 1943 in Tavistock, Devon, the son of a US Army man and a British girl. Quaife met his fellow guitarists, Ray and Dave Davies, at William Grimshaw secondary modern school in Muswell Hill, north London, where his family had moved. With the Davies brothers he began to rehearse rock’n’roll and rhythm and blues numbers by Buddy Holly, the Ventures and Chuck Berry. According to Dave Davies: “We drew lots to see who would play bass guitar and Pete lost.”

After leaving school Quaife studied commercial art and, with the Davies brothers and drummer Mick Avory, began to perform in public at local youth clubs and other small venues. The band went through several names until, as the Ravens, they backed a well-connected singer called Robert Wace, who was a better businessman than vocalist. With a stockbroker partner, Grenville Collins, Wace booked the Ravens to play at various functions.

At a time when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were beginning to make waves, Wace and Collins decided that the Ravens had star potential and they enlisted the help of pop manager Larry Page to further their career. It was Page’s idea to design a striking image for the group, beginning with an arresting name, the Kinks (“kinky” was a vogue adjective in Swinging London), and including an outrageous stage uniform of hunting outfits and riding crops.

Page placed the group with record producer Shel Talmy and they struck gold with their third single, You Really Got Me. It was written and sung by Ray Davies, but its impact was mostly due to Dave’s fuzz guitar riff, underpinned by Quaife’s bass line, which influenced a generation of budding rock musicians. You Really Got Me reached No. 1 in Britain and No. 7 in the United States, catapulting the young band to the fore of the British scene, and the abrasive guitar distortion on “You Really Got Me” and its follow-up, “All Day and All of the Night” — which Dave Davies made by slicing his amplifier with a razor — helped start a thousand garage bands. and introduced a three-year period in which the Kinks had 11 British top 10 hits and several hits in America, including such classics as Sunny Afternoon, Dead End Street, Autumn Almanac and Waterloo Sunset.

The band continued to score British hits throughout the 1960s, and there were constant national and international tours lined up, yet they had only sporadic success in the United States, where a four-year dispute with the American Federation of Musicians prevented it from touring for most of the late 1960s.

For many years, Peter Quaife was the odd man out in the Kinks’ history — the first of the original bandmembers to leave the lineup in 1969, the band’s .

From the beginning, the Kinks were beset with internal feuds. The Davies brothers exhibited a strong brand of sibling rivalry, but Quaife managed to stand aloof from the band’s disputes and at times was a peacemaker, earning the nickname of “the ambassador” because “I often stepped in to calm things down.” He was however never permitted to engage in songwriting as such, however, and admitted in the same interview that he and Avory often felt like session players at the band’s own recording sessions — moments such as the Kelvin Hall live album were relatively rare, allowing him to step out in front.

Quaife left the band following what was his most substantial contribution to the group, Village Green Preservation Society, the album on which — perhaps because of its extended gestation — he was most able to express himself musically. He and Canadian guitarist Stan Endersby formed Maple Oak with drummer Mick Cook and keyboardman Marty Fisher. In more recent years, Quaife has moved to Canada and also embarked on a writing career, and has had intermittent contact with Ray Davies over the years — he emerged most prominently in interviews connected with the 2004 expanded reissue of Village Green Preservation Society.

In spite of his ability to break up the Davies brothers’ regular brawls, eventually the Kinks’ bickering and frustrations forced him out in 1969. Quaife had left the band for part of 1966 after he was injured in a car accident, but by 1969, after playing on the albums “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” and “Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire),” he quit for good and was replaced by John Dalton.

Quaife sang backing vocals on many of the hits and his trenchant bass riffs held the Kinks’ sound together, especially in concert when they would sometimes drift into lengthy instrumental passages. In the late 1960s, he also made a greater contribution to the group’s recordings as they spent longer periods in the studio, working on the albums Something Else By the Kinks (1967) and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968), adding a bass line borrowed from JS Bach to a track on the latter.

He also took part in rehearsals for the 1969 album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) before leaving the group permanently in 1969. He was replaced, again, by Dalton. Explaining his decision, Quaife said: “We just never played anywhere, so most of the time we just sat around at home collecting our royalty cheques. It was an easy life but not a very fulfilling one.”

In interviews Quaife cited the group’s competitive volatility: one day in 1965, he said, a fistfight broke out among its members in a limousine after Quaife whistled a Beatles melody — for his departure, as well as the control that Ray Davies began to exert on the band.

“At the start I had some freedom with my bass lines,” he said in an interview with the British music magazine Mojo, “but as time went on, Ray treated us all more and more like session men.” He also sang backup on a lot of the records during his tenure, most notably — according to a 1998 interview with Martin Kalin — on “Waterloo Sunset.”

After leaving the Kinks, Quaife played briefly with another band, Mapleoak, (two Canadians and two Brits) but left within a year as the band turned into a drug fest. He moved to Denmark and worked as a graphic artist in Denmark and later Canada and basically turned his back on music. He once joined them drunk on stage for an encore in Toronto and he joined the other band members in 1990 for the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1998 while living in Ontario Canada, he was found to have renal failure and documented his dialysis experiences in cartoons collected in two volumes of books titled “The Lighter Side of Dialysis.”

In 2005, Pete was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame with Kinks, marking the final reunion of the four original band members.

Unlike drummer Mick Avory, who was supplanted by Bobby Graham on virtually all of the earliest recordings (through the first album), Quaife played on the group’s records from the beginning, and his rock-solid bass work contributed immeasurably to the power of their work on-stage, making possible such moments as the marvelous stretching out on the extended jam from The Live Kinks, in which his instrument holds the sound together as the band drifts between its own songs and a unique take on the “Batman” theme.  John Entwhistle, famous bass player for the Who named Pete Quaife his favorite bass player, because he moved the Kinks along.

Pete died of kidney failure on June 22, 2013 at the age of 66.

Despite the Kinks’ success, Quaife was never satisfied with his role in the creative process. “I would have been squished with a size 16 boot I had even suggested they listen to an idea from me,” he said in a 2005 interview. “I felt like a session man most of the time. Ray wanted complete control of everything. He was a control freak.” In June 1966 Quaife broke his leg in a car accident and briefly left the band. “It was a good break for me,” he said in 2005. “The band was fighting all the time and I couldn’t take it.” He rejoined after a few months, but quit for good three yeas later. In a 1998 interview, Quaife pointed to the band’s 1968 disc Village Green Preservation Society as his favorite. “For me, it represents the only real album made by the Kinks,” he said. “It’s the only one where we all contributed something.”

 

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Garry Shider 6/2010

garry_shiderJune 16, 2010 – Garry Marshall Shider (Parliament-Funkadelic) was born on July 24th 1953 in Plainfield New Jersey. A

Like many funk pioneers of the ’70s, Shider got his start by playing in church. As a teenager, he sang and performed in support of the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Shirley Caesar, and other prominent gospel artists. Years later, singing far-out funk with Parliament, that gospel spirit was still evident in his vocal performances. He was still bringing them to church — only that church was located somewhere in deep innerspace.

Shider met George Clinton in the late ’60s at the famous Plainfield barbershop where the Parliaments, then primarily a soul vocal group, practiced harmonies. Shider’s vocal and instrumental talent impressed Clinton.

By the time he was sixteen, Shider wished to escape the crime and dead-end prospects of Plainfield, so he and his friend Cordell “Boogie” Mosson left for Canada where Shider and Mosson formed a funk/rock band called United Soul, or “U.S.”. George Clinton was living in Toronto at the time and began hearing about United Soul from people in the local music business and took the band under his wing upon learning that Shider was a member.

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Crispian St. Peters 6/2010

crispian st. petersJune 8, 2010 – Crispian St. Peters was born Robin Peter Smith on April 5, 1939 in Swanley, Kent, England. He learned guitar and left school in 1954 to become an assistant cinema projectionist. As a young man, he performed in several relatively unknown bands in England. In 1956, he gave his first live performance, as a member of The Hard Travellers. Through the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as undertaking National Service, he was a member of The Country Gentlemen, Beat Formula Three, and Peter & The Wolves.

While a member of Beat Formula Three in 1963, he was heard by David Nicholson, an EMI publicist who became his manager. Nicholson suggested he use a stage name, initially “Crispin Blacke” Crispin Blacke, in keeping with a saturnine image similar to that of Dave Berry, but subsequently changed to C
, and deducted five years from his client’s age for publicity purposes. In 1964, as a member of Peter & The Wolves, St. Peters made his first commercial recording. He was persuaded to turn solo by Nicholson, and was signed to Decca Records in 1965. His first two singles on this record label, “No No No” and “At This Moment”, proved unsuccessful on the charts. He made two television UK appearances in February of that year, featuring in the shows Scene at 6.30 and Ready Steady Go!

In 1966, St. Peters’ career finally yielded a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart, with “You Were on My Mind,” a song written and first recorded in 1964 by the Canadian folk duo, Ian & Sylvia, and a hit in the United States for We Five in 1965. St. Peters’s single eventually hit No. 2 in the UK and was then released in the US on the Philadelphia-based Jamie Records label. It did not chart in the US until after his fourth release, “The Pied Piper,” became known as his superhit signature song. It reached No.4 in the US and No.5 in the UK.

As with most pop phenomena, Crispian St. Peters became the object of massive press attention, and that was where the first of his outlandish self-promoting statements achieved notice – he claimed that he’d written 80 songs that were better than anything John Lennon or Paul McCartney had ever authored, and subsequently described himself as a singer better than Elvis Presley, sexier than Dave Berry (“The Crying Game”), and more exciting than Tom Jones.

Later in 1966, St. Peters’ “The Pied Piper” soared into the Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic, and, with its infectious chorus and beat and flute ornamentation, seemed to captured the glow of the pre-psychedelic era. It proved to be the last of his successes, however, a fact that can only be explained, in part, by the controversy surrounding his statements. There was something bizarre and off-putting seeing his name attributed to statements announcing that the Beatles “are past it.” His sound was also strangely inconsistent, crossing between upbeat folk-rock and brooding ballads — he could sound like an aspiring rival to Tom Jones, but on a number like “Your Love Has Come,” reached for a high register that made him seem more like an aspiring Tiny Tim. His folk-rock inclinations were also undone by numbers like the pre-Beatles British beat-style “Jilly Honey,” complete with ornamentation that sounds like a honking sax (or is it a fuzz bass?). In fairness, he did have the wisdom to record a rocked-up version of Phil Ochs’ “Changes,” but it was still difficult to tell whether St. Peters was trying to be Tom Jones, half of Peter & Gordon, a pop version of Donovan, or a mid-’60s version of Marty Wilde.

Although his next single, a version of Phil Ochs’ song “Changes,” also reached the charts in both the UK and US, it was much less successful. In 1967, St. Peters released his first LP, Follow Me…, which included several of his own songs, as well as the single “Free Spirit”. One of them, “I’ll Give You Love,” was recorded by Marty Kristian in a version produced by St. Peters, and became a big hit in Australia.

By 1968, he’d moved on to country music, but found little success with that repertory. A 1970 release, Simply…Crispian St. Peters, compiled many of his early sides, and he periodically reappeared on the ’60s revival circuit in England.

St. Peters’ album was followed by his first EP, Almost Persuaded, yet by 1970, he was dropped by Decca. Later in 1970, he was signed to Square Records. Under this new record deal, St. Peters released a second LP, Simply, that year, predominantly of country and western songs. Later still they released his first cassette, The Gospel Tape, in 1986, and a second cassette, New Tracks on Old Lines in 1990. His third cassette, Night Sessions, Vol. 1 was released in 1993.

Several CDs also came from this record deal, including Follow Me in 1991, The Anthology in 1996, Night Sessions, Vol. 1 in 1998, The Gospel Tape in 1999, and, finally, Songs From The Attic in 2000. He also performed on various Sixties nostalgia tours, and continued to write and arrange for others until his later ill health.

On 1 January 1995, at the age of 55, he suffered a stroke but continued to write songs thereafter and performed live up to 1999. His music career was severely weakened by this however, and in 2001 he announced his retirement from the music industry. He was hospitalised several times with pneumonia after 2003.

St. Peters died on 8 June 2010 at his home in Swanley, after a long illness, at the age of 71.

 

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Stuart Cable 6/2010

stuart-cableJune 7, 2010 – Stuart Cable was born on May 19 1970. The former Stereophonics drummer grew up in Cwmaman near Aberdare in Wales, UK.
Cable lived on the same street as Stereophonics singer Kelly Jones. The larger than life joker of the band, the pair – alongside childhood friend Richard Jones – began playing in a series of outfits in their early teens, playing classic rock and soul covers.

They began writing and performing music in working men’s clubs together in 1992 as a teenage cover band known as Tragic Love Company. The band later changed their name to The Stereophonics, after the manufacturer of a record player belonging to Stuart Cable’s father.

In May 1996, they were the first artists to be signed to newly formed record label V2, created by Virgin’s Richard Branson.
Upon signing, they dropped “The” from their name and simply became Stereophonics.
Stuart Cable’s distinctive driving drumming style was a feature of their early records, “On tunes such as Not Up To You his drum patterns breathe life into the song and momentum into the show,” enthused The Times, at the time.

The drummer was the man with the big character and the hair to match. It was no surprise then that this extrovert personality embarked on a media career.
In 2002, Cable was given his own TV chat show, Cable TV, by BBC Wales., leading to his departure from the band in September 2003 when he was sacked by Stereophonics. In an acrimonious split it was claimed he was spending too much time on his new media career at the expense of rehearsals and was believed to have said that in his opinion Stereophonics couldn’t get any better.

His media career had blossomed. He had another BBC Wales show Cable Connects in 2005 and had his own radio show on BBC Radio Wales – Cable Rock.
In 2005, Cable co-hosted the Kerrang! Awards, and he also presented two shows on Kerrang! 105.2: the Cable and Caroline Show with Caroline Beavon on Sunday mornings and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years on weekday mornings.

In November 2007, he joined XFM South Wales and hosted weekend shows until the station was sold on May 30, 2008 and got back into music, forming a band Killing For Company. Cable guest drummed for hard rockers Stone Gods in 2008 when the band – formed by ex-Darkness members – sacked their sticksman

In 2009 he was one of 582 drummers who broke the Guinness World Record for the largest group of drummers playing the same beats at the same time. Mike Joyce of The Smiths also took part. In 2009 Cable also published his autobiography Demons & Cocktails: My Life With Stereophonics

In April 2010, Stuart returned to BBC Radio Wales as the presenter of Saturday Night Cable, a show devoted to playing the best rock music, both old and new. He also had been drumming with his new band, Killing for Company, who not only were the first band to play the new Liberty Stadium in Swansea, but in doing so, opened for The Who.

Cable was found dead at his home in Llwydcoed at 5:30 am on 7 June 2010, aged 40. His death came just hours after Stereophonics played in Cardiff. Cable was said to have been presenting on the radio at the same time that Stereophonics were performing. Later that weekend, he began drinking at the local pub, the Welsh Harp Inn, where he left his car, and walked home with friends to continue drinking at his house. On arriving home, he continued drinking and choked to death on his own vomit during his sleep.

 

 

 

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Marvin Isley 6/2010

marvin-isleyJune 6, 2010 – Marvin Isley was born August 18, 1953 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His family moved to a home in Englewood, New Jersey in the summer of 1959. Isley eventually graduated from Englewood’s Dwight Morrow High School in 1972. In 1976, he graduated from C.W. Post College with a degree in music.

Marvin became the youngest member of the soulful Isley Brothers R&B group. The original group formed in 1954 with the three eldest brothers Isley, O’Kelly Jr., Rudolph and Ronald, which recorded several singles, including “Shout,” “This Old Heart of Mine” and the Grammy winning “It’s Your Thing”.

Marvin began playing bass guitar while in high school and by the end of the decade was being tutored and mentored by his elder brothers alongside elder brother Ernie and their friend, Chris Jasper, who was an in-law. By 1973, Marvin’s group had joined the older half of the Isleys as its instrumentalists, when the Isley Brothers group officially expanded to six performers. The fuller group enjoyed massive radio airplay with hits including “That Lady,” “The Heat is On,” “Go For Your Guns”.

In the late-1960s, Marvin formed a trio with older brother Ernie and brother-in-law Chris Jasper.

By 1971, Marvin began performing bass guitar on The Isley Brothers’ album, Givin’ It Back. Within two years, he became an official member of the group. In addition to playing bass, he also provided percussion and also wrote or co-wrote some of the group’s hits including “Fight the Power”, “The Pride” and “Between the Sheets”. Breaking away from the Isleys in 1984, he, Ernie and Chris formed the trio, Isley-Jasper-Isley, who had a hit in 1985 with “Caravan of Love”.

The group broke up in 1988 after Ernie Isley signed a solo recording deal. Three years later, Marvin and Ernie reunited with Ron Isley to reform the Isley Brothers. Marvin remained a member until complications from his longtime battle with diabetes forced him into retirement in 1997. Having been diagnosed with diabetes in his early 20s, Isley’s condition worsened to the point where he had to have both legs amputated. Isley was inducted as a member of the Isley Brothers to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

He died from complications with diabetes on June 6, 2010 at age 56.

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Ronnie James Dio 5/2010

ronnie-james-dioMay 16, 2010 – Ronnie James Dio was born Ronald James Padavona  on July 10th 1942 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Dio listened to a great deal of opera while growing up, and was influenced vocally by American tenor Mario Lanza. His first and only formal musical training began at age 5 learning to play the trumpet.

During high school, Dio played in the school band and was one of the youngest members selected to play in the school’s official Dance Band. It was also during high school that Dio formed his first rock-n-roll group, the Vegas Kings (the name would soon change to Ronnie and the Rumblers, and then Ronnie and the Red Caps). Though Dio began his rock-n-roll career on trumpet, he quickly added bass guitar to his skillset once he assumed singing duties for the group.

Ronnie James Dio’s main interests were music and romantic fantasy literature, such as the works of Sir Walter Scott and the Arthurian legend. He always liked science fiction literature, spaceships, aliens and the like, as well as sports – that is probably because his father played softball for some local team when Ronnie was a child and the whole family went to watch the games.

“I’ve been a musician for as long as I can remember, but I never fancied myself a singer when I was young.” Having always wanted to be a performer, Ronnie’s main interest was sport. “…Though my first idea of performing was to play sports – A Sort of unrealistic goal for a guy who topped out at 5 foot 4 inches and 130 pounds.”

“I began playing the trumpet when I was 5 years old. It was baseball I really wanted to play, so I asked my dad if he’d buy me a bat. He said “No. You need a musical education” When he got me a trumpet, I said, “You can’t hit a ball with this thing!” I didn’t know why I had it. The next day I started music lessons – four hours of practice every day until I was seventeen.”

Ronnie himself credits his voice to that trumpet, he says that without the breathing exercises with trumpet he wouldn’t have his voice.

Explanations vary for how he adopted the stage name “Dio”. One story is that Dio was a reference to mafia member Johnny Dio. Another has it that Padavona’s grandmother said he had a gift from God and should be called “Dio”. (“God” in Italian.) Whatever the inspiration, Padavona first used it on a recording in 1960, when he added it to the band’s second release on Seneca. Soon after that the band modified their name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. The Prophets lineup lasted for several years, touring throughout the New York region and playing college fraternity parties

In late 1967 Ronnie Dio and the Prophets transformed into a new band called The Electric Elves and added a keyboard player. Following recovery from a deadly car accident in February 1968 (which killed guitarist Nick Pantas and put Dio and other band members in the hospital briefly), the group shortened its name to The Elves and used that name until mid 1972 when it released its first proper album under the name Elf. Over the next few years, the group went on to become a regular opening act for Deep Purple. Elf recorded three albums until the members’ involvement recording the first Rainbow album in early 1975 resulted in Elf disbanding.

Dio’s vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in the mid-1970s, who was planning on leaving them due to creative differences over the band’s new direction. Blackmore invited Dio along with Gary Driscoll to record two songs in Tampa, Florida on December 12, 1974.

Blackmore stated in 1983, “I left Deep Purple because I’d met up with Ronnie Dio, and he was so easy to work with. He was originally just going to do one track of a solo LP, but we ended up doing the whole LP in three weeks, which I was very excited about.” Being satisfied with the results, Blackmore decided to recruit more of Elf’s musicians and form his own band, initially known as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. They released the self-titled debut album Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in early 1975. After that, Dio recorded two more studio albums (Rising and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll) and two live albums (“Live in Munich 1977”) and (Live in Germany 1976) with Blackmore. During his tenure with Rainbow, Dio and Blackmore were the only constant members. Dio is credited on those albums for all lyrical authorship as well as collaboration with Blackmore on musical arrangement. Dio and Blackmore split, with Blackmore taking the band in a more commercial direction, with Graham Bonnet on vocals and the album “Down to Earth”.

Dio left Rainbow in 1979 and soon joined Black Sabbath, replacing the fired Ozzy Osbourne. Dio met Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi by chance at The Rainbow on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1979. Both men were in similar situations, as Dio was seeking a new project and Iommi required a vocalist. Dio said of the encounter, “It must have been fate, because we connected so instantly.” The pair kept in touch via telephone until Dio arrived at Iommi’s Los Angeles house for a relaxed, getting-to-know-you jam session. On that first day the duo wrote the song, “Children of the Sea”, which would appear on the Heaven and Hell album, the first the band recorded with Dio as vocalist in 1980.

Three albums later Dio left that band in 1982 and formed the group Dio, but he had a brief reunion with Black Sabbath under the name Heaven & Hell a decade later. Dio continued to perform until his illness manifested itself.

His last public appearance was in April 2010 at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards when he accepted a vocalist of the year award for his work on the Heaven and Hell album. Dio appeared frail, but he was able to speak when accepting his award.

Widely hailed as one of the most powerful singers in heavy metal, he died on May 16, 2010 from stomach cancer. He was 67.

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Paul ‘The Pig’ Gray 5/2010

paul-gray-the-pigMay 24, 2010 – Paul Dedrick Gray aka The Pig (Slipknot) was born on April 8, 1972 in Los Angeles. While still a kid his family relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, where he performed in bands such as Anal Blast, Vexx, Body Pit, The Have Nots and Inveigh Catharsis.

A left-handed bass player, he became best known as the bassist and a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning metal band Slipknot.

Besides Slipknot, Paul filled in as bassist for Unida during their 2003 tour, appeared on Drop Dead, Gorgeous’ Worse Than a Fairy Tale, toured briefly with Reggie and the Full Effect and appeared on the Roadrunner United project, performing bass on “The Enemy” and “Baptized in the Redemption” from the project’s album The All-Star Sessions.

An award was named after Paul titled “Paul Gray: Best Bassist of the Year”, as a tribute to Paul. Slipknot presented the award to Nikki Sixx, of Sixx A.M. and Mötley Crüe.

Paul was found dead in his hotelroom at the TownePlace Suites Hotel in Johnston, Iowa of an overdose of morphine, and an autopsy had also shown signs of “significant heart disease”. He was 38.

In September 2012, his physician Daniel Baldi was charged with involuntary manslaughter relating to his death, as well as the deaths of at least seven others. He was accused of continually writing high-dose prescription narcotics to Paul, despite his being a known drug addict from December 27th 2005 until his death.

The eight remaining members of the group — all appearing unmasked — spoke at length about their friend and bandmate, recalling a man who went above and beyond the call of duty for both Slipknot and their fanatic fanbase.

“He was everything that was wonderful about this band and about this group of people,” frontman Corey Taylor said. “The only way I can sum up Paul Gray is ‘love.’ Everything he did, he did for everyone around him whether he knew you or not … and that’s what he’s left behind for us: absolute love. I will miss him with every fiber of my heart, as will everybody at this table and everyone who knew him. He was the best of us.”

“It’s very important that everybody on the outside of us understands that Paul Gray was the essence of the band Slipknot. … Paul was there from the very, very beginning, and none of us would be on the path that we’re on now in life or have the sorts of life that we have without him,” percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan added. “Paul loved the fans. He was kind of the person in the band that really wanted everybody in the band to always get along and just concentrate on the band. He was a really great friend and a really great person. He’s going to be sadly missed, and the world is going to be a different place without him.”

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Marva Wright 3/2010

Marva-WrightMarch 23, 2010 – Marva Wright was born March 20th 1948 in New Orleans Louisiana. Marva sang blues all her life, starting as a child at home and in church, but she didn’t start her professional career as a blues singer until 1987, almost 40 years old, when she began singing on Bourbon Street and became the powerhouse of New Orleans’ blues and gospel scene. Even then, she only began singing as a way to support her family with a second job.

Early in 1989 during a live set at Tipitina’s in New Orleans, Wright made her first recording, Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean and made her debut on national television in 1991, when her hometown was the setting for a special that revolved around the Super Bowl where she met CBS news anchorman Ed Bradley, who thought at that time that she only sang Gospel.

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Lolly Vegas 3/2010

Lolly VegasMarch 4, 2010 – Candido Lolly Vegas (Redbone) was born Lolly Vasquez in Coalinga, California on October 2, 1939. He grew up in Fresno. He and his brother Pat, a singer and bassist, were session musicians who performed together as Pat and Lolly Vegas in the 1960s at Sunset Strip clubs and on the TV variety show “Shindig!”

Patrick and Lolly Vasquez – Vegas were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage. but began by performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers, “because their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexican musicians playing surfing music”. First as the Vegas Brothers (Pat and Lolly Vegas), then later as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band, they performed throughout the 1960s.

They formed the Native American band Redbone in 1969, Redbone being a Cajun word for ‘half-breed’. The band, with members of Latino and native American origin, released its self-titled debut album the following year. The band first gained notice with “Maggie” in 1970 and broke international barriers with “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” in 1971.

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Ron Banks 3/2010

Ron BanksMarch 4, 2010 – Ron Banks (The Dramatics) was born in Redford, Michigan on May 10, 1951.

Ron was a singer with the soul music vocal group, The Dramatics from the 1960s until his death. The Dramatics originally known as the Dynamics, changed their name around 1967, when they had their first minor hit single, “All Because of You”.

They did not break through however until their single, “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get,” broke into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No.9, this was their first million selling disc and was awarded gold disc status by the R.I.A.A. in December 1971.

Through the 1970s, they appeared on Soul Train and continued to have hits, including the No.1 R&B hits, “In the Rain”, “Toast to the Fool”, “Me and Mrs. Jones”, “I’m Going By The Stars In Your Eyes” and “Be My Girl”.

Banks left the group in 1983 to start a solo career which failed as he rejoined the Dramatics.

Ron with The Dramatics also were guests on the Snoop Doggy Dogg song, “Doggy Dogg World”. The song appeared on Snoop’s 1993 debut album, Doggystyle. “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” appeared in the 2005 documentary Sunday Driver, as well as the movies, Wattstax and Darktown Strutters, and the 2007 Petey Greene biopic, Talk To Me. The Dramatics were also interviewed at (but have yet to be inducted into) the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on February of 2012 .

He died of a heart attack on March 4, 2010 at age 59.

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Lesley Duncan 3/2010

lesley_duncanMarch 12, 2010 – Lesley Duncan was born in Stockton-on-Tees in England on August 12th 1943.

She left school while only 14 years old. At 19, while working in a London coffee bar, she and her brother were placed on weekly retainers by a music publisher. Within a year Duncan had signed her first recording contract, with EMI, and appeared in the film What a Crazy World.

Her songs were often about life and its problems, “Everything Changes” and “Sing Children Sing”.

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Alex Chilton 3/2010

220px-Big_Star_at_Hyde_Park_2_croppedMarch 17, 2010 – William Alexander “Alex” Chilton was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 28, 1950 . He became best known for his work with pop-music bands the Box Tops and Big Star. In 1966, while at Memphis’ Central High School, Alex was invited to join a local band The Devilles as their lead singer, after learning of the popularity of his vocal performance at a talent show; this band was later renamed Box Tops.

He was 16 years old when he and the Boxtops had their No.1 international hit “The Letter”. In 1971 Alex along with Chris Bell, Jody Stephens and Andy Hummel formed the rock band Big Star. They released two albums “No.1 Record” and “Radio City” before breaking up in 1974.

He continued as a solo artist and in 1979 he co-founded, played guitar with, and produced some albums for Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, which began as an offbeat rock-and-roll group deconstructing blues, country, and rockabilly music.

From the late-1980s through the 1990s with bassist Ron Easley and eventually drummer Richard Dworkin, he gained a reputation for his eclectic taste in cover versions, guitar work, and laconic stage presence. After which he performed live yearly, with sporadic solo, Box Tops and Big Star shows in theatres and at festivals around the world.

He died sadly of a suspected heart attack on March 17, 2010 at the age of 59.

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Micky Jones 3/2010

Micky JonesMarch 10, 2010 – Micky Jones  (Man) was born on June 7th 1946. In 1960, whilst still at school, Micky formed his first band The Rebels, before he formed his first professional band The Bystanders in 1962 which over the years developed into the legendary Welsh pychedelic, progressive rock, blues and country-rock band “Man”, officially formed in 1968 as a reincarnation of Welsh rock harmony group “The Bystanders from Merthyr Tydfil”.

They say that in order to understand the Welsh, you first must gain a sense of Wales. Unfortunately there are almost as many different colorful facets to the principality as there are people: in the south alone blue mountains rise from green valleys to hug the clouds, silver light drifts across granite castles, white cottages pepper the landscape and grey seas nibble at the coastline. What the tourist guides often fail to mention however is that this is also a landscape scarred black by the ravages of coal mining and tainted red by the rusting hulk of iron foundries. Where Ireland often gives the impression of having moved directly from the eighteenth century into the twenty-first without an industrial age in between, South Wales today still wears a curtain of steel. It’s an increasingly thin curtain in this post-industrial age, but the signs are all around nonetheless.

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T-Bone Wolk 2/2010

T-bone wolkFebruary 28, 2010 – Tom ‘T-Bone’ Wolk (Hall & Oates) was born on December 24, 1951 in Yonkers, N.Y. and was a state accordion champion by age 12.

Seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, however, led him to bass and guitar—the former influenced by James Jamerson and Paul McCartney. Although he studied art at Cooper Union, most of his youth was spent playing in bar bands, where he first met guitarist G.E. Smith (who gave him the nickname T-Bone—for blues guitarist T-Bone Walker—after Wolk played his bass behind his head during a solo). He attended Roosevelt High School.

By the time he auditioned for and joined Hall & Oates in 1981, Wolk had cracked the studio and jingle scene on the recommendation of Will Lee, and had played on rap’s first gold record, Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks.” As Hall & Oates racked up such Wolk-driven hits as “Maneater,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” “Out of Touch,” “One on One,” and “Family Man,” T-Bone also headed the Saturday Night Live house band, from 1986-1992 with his Hall & Oates bandmate G.E. Smith.

Wolk was a multi-instrumentalist and worked with Daryl Hall, Carly Simon, Jellyfish, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Shawn Colvin and Billy Joel over the course of his career. Downtime from Hall & Oates led to tours with Carly Simon and Billy Joel, and endless studio sessions highlighted by four albums with Elvis Costello and one with Costello and Burt Bacharach.

Wolk died on February 28, 2010, in Pawling, New York from a heart attack at age 58 years.

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Doug Fieger 2/2010

doug fiegerFebruary 14, 2010 – Doug Fieger (The Knack) was born on August 20th 1952 and raised in Oak Park, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit, and attended Oak Park High School. While still at school he sang lead and played bass in the group Sky, eventually recording two albums in 1970 and 1971. Doug also played bass guitar in the German progressive rock band Triumvirat for a short period in 1974. After which he founded the New Wave rock quartet The Knack based in Los Angeles that rose to fame with their first single, “My Sharona”, an international No.1 hit.

With a six-week run at No. 1, “My Sharona” was the inescapable hit of the summer of 1979, and it became a staple of high school dance parties for years to come. Built on a simple riff that was as perky as it was sexy, the song, by Mr. Fieger and the band’s lead guitarist, Berton Averre, celebrated teenage lust in unabashed terms. “When you gonna give it to me?” Mr. Fieger sang in the impatient whine that was his hallmark.

The song, written about a 17-year-old high school student who had caught the eye of the 26-year-old Mr. Fieger, displaced Chic’s disco anthem “Good Times” on Billboard’s singles chart and came to symbolize the commercial arrival of new wave, the poppier, snazzier-dressed cousin of punk rock. (That girl, Sharona Alperin, became a high-end real estate agent in Los Angeles.) With a carefully executed marketing plan, the members of the Knack seemed to position themselves as a new Beatles, adopting a uniform of white shirts and skinny black ties, even recreating a group pose from the film “A Hard Day’s Night” for the back cover of their debut album, “Get the Knack”. “My Sharona,” Fieger once said, had been written in 15 minutes. Billboard listed it as the No. 1 song of 1979.

The follow-up hit was “Good Girls Don’t” which stopped one notch short of the Top 10 – peaking at No.11, and Get The Knack spent five straight weeks at No.1 and eventually sold 3 million copies in the United States – 6 million globally. In addition to performing, Doug also produced the Rubber City Rebels debut album for Capitol Records and another album for the Los Angeles-based band, Mystery Pop

He died on 14 February 2010 from lung cancer on Feb. 14, 2010 at the age of 57.

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Dale Hawkins 2/2010

Dale HawkinsFebruary 13, 2010 – Delmar Allen “Dale” Hawkins was born on August 22, 1936. He was often called the architect of swamp rock boogie. Fellow rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins was his cousin.

In 1957, Hawkins was playing at Shreveport, Louisiana clubs, and although his music was influenced by the new rock and roll style of Elvis Presley and the guitar sounds of Scotty Moore, Hawkins blended that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists for his recording of his swamp-rock classic, “Susie Q.” Fellow Louisiana guitarist and future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Burton provided the signature riff and solo. The song was chosen as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of the song on their 1968 debut album helped launch their career and today it is probably the best-known version.

In 1958 Hawkins recorded a single of Willie Dixon’s “My Babe” at the Chess Records studio in Chicago, featuring Telecaster guitarist Roy Buchanan. He went on to a long and successful career, recording more songs for Chess. In 1998, Ace Records issued a compilation album, Dale Hawkins, Rock ‘n’ Roll Tornado, which contained a collection of his early works and previously unreleased material. Other recordings include the cult classic “L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas” and a 1999 release, “Wildcat Tamer,” of all-new recordings that garnered Hawkins a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. However, his career was not limited to recording or performing. He hosted a teen dance party, The Dale Hawkins Show, on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia.

He then became a record producer, and found success with The Uniques’ “Not Too Long Ago,” the Five Americans’ “Western Union,” Jon & Robin’s “Do It Again – A Little Bit Slower.” He served as executive vice president of Abnak Records; Vice President, Southwest Division, Bell Records (here he produced Bruce Channel, Ronnie Self, James Bell, the Festivals, the Dolls, and the Gentrys); and A&R director, RCA West Coast Rock Division, working with Michael Nesmith and Harry Nilsson. In the 1990s, he produced “Goin Back to Mississippi” by R. L. Burnside’s slide guitarist, Kenny Brown.

Hawkins’ pioneering contributions have been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

In 2005, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and began chemotherapy while continuing to perform in the US and abroad. In October 2007, The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame honored him for his contributions to Louisiana music by inducting him into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame. At the same time, he released his latest recording, “Back Down to Louisiana,” inspired by a trip to his childhood home. It was recognized by the UK’s music magazine, Mojo, as #10 in the Americana category in their 2007 Best of issue, while “L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas” was awarded #8 in the reissue category.

Hawkins died on February 13, 2010, from colon cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was

 

 

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Kate McGarrigle 1/2010

kate mcgarrigleJanuary 18, 2010 – Kate McGarrigle was born on February 6th 1946 in Montreal, but grew up in the Laurentian Mountains village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Quebec.

The McGarrigle sisters, Kate, Anna and Jane, grew up in musical family, where they learned songs from their French-Canadian mother Gaby, and piano from their father Frank and nuns in the village. Later they picked up the guitar, banjo and accordion, and in the early 1960s, with a couple of friends, formed a coffeehouse folk group, the Mountain City Four.

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Teddy Pendergrass 1/2010

Teddy PendergrassJanuary 13, 2010 –  Teddy Pendergrass was born March 26th 1950 in Kingstree, South Carolina. When he was still very young, his father left the family; Jesse Pendergrass was murdered when Teddy was 12. Pendergrass grew up in Philadelphia and sang often at church. He dreamed of being a pastor and got his wish when, at 10, he was ordained a minister (according to author Robert Ewell Greene). Pendergrass also took up drums during this time and was a junior deacon of his church. He attended Thomas Edison High School for Boys in North Philadelphia (now closed). He sang with the Edison Mastersingers. He dropped out in the eleventh grade to enter the music business, recording his first song “Angel With Muddy Feet”.

Pendergrass played drums for several local Philadelphia bands, eventually becoming the drummer of The Cadillacs. In 1970, the singer was spotted by the Blue Notes’ founder, Harold Melvin (1939–1997), who convinced Pendergrass to play drums in the group. When, during a performance, Pendergrass began singing along, Melvin, impressed by his vocals, made him the lead singer. Before Pendergrass joined the group, the Blue Notes had struggled to find success. That all changed when they landed a recording deal with Philadelphia International Records in 1971, thus beginning Pendergrass’s successful collaboration with label founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

In 1972, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes released their first single, a slow, solemn ballad entitled “I Miss You”. The song was originally written for the Dells, but the group passed on it. Noting how Pendergrass sounded like Dells lead singer Marvin Junior, Kenny Gamble decided to build the song with Pendergrass, then only 21 at the time of the recording. Pendergrass sings much of the song in a raspy baritone wail that would become his trademark. The song also featured Blue Notes member Lloyd Parks singing falsetto in the background and spotlighted Harold Melvin adding in a rap near the end of the song as Pendergrass kept singing, feigning tears. The song, one of Gamble and Huff’s most creative productions, became a major rhythm and blues hit and put the Blue Notes on the map.

The group’s follow-up single, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” brought the group to the mainstream with the song reaching the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 while also reaching number-one on the soul singles chart. Like “I Miss You” before it, the song was originally intended for a different artist, fellow Philadelphian native Patti LaBelle and her group Labelle but the group could not record it due to scheduling conflicts. Pendergrass and LaBelle developed a close friendship that would last until Pendergrass’ death.

The group rode to international fame with several more releases over the years including “The Love I Lost”, a song that predated the upcoming disco music scene, the ballad “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon”, and socially conscious singles “Wake Up Everybody” and “Bad Luck,” the latter song about the Watergate scandal. One of the group’s important singles was their original version of the Philly soul classic “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, which turned into a disco smash when Motown artist Thelma Houston released her version in 1976. By 1975, Pendergrass and Harold Melvin were at odds, mainly over monetary issues and personality conflicts. Despite the fact that Pendergrass sang most of the group’s songs, Melvin was controlling the group’s finances. At one point, Pendergrass wanted the group to be renamed “Teddy Pendergrass and the Blue Notes” because fans kept mistaking him for Melvin. Pendergrass left the group in 1975 and the Blue Notes struggled with his replacements. They eventually left Philadelphia International and toiled in relative obscurity, until Melvin’s death in 1997. As of 2014, a version of the group still tours the old school circuit, performing as Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes.

Embarking on a solo career Pendergrass enjoyed a string of hit singles and albums throughout the 1970s, including The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me, Close the Door, Love T.K.O and Turn Off The Lights. Between 1977 and 1981, Pendergrass landed four consecutive platinum albums, which was a then-record setting number for a rhythm and blues artist.

Pendergrass’ popularity became massive at the end of 1977. With sold-out audiences packing his shows, his manager soon noticed that a huge number of his audience consisted of women of all races. They devised a plan for Pendergrass’ next tour to play to just female audiences, starting a trend that continues today called “women only concerts.” With four platinum albums and two gold albums, Pendergrass was on his way to being what the media called “the black Elvis“, not only in terms of his crossover popularity but also due to him buying a mansion akin to Elvis’ Graceland, located just outside his hometown of Philadelphia. By early 1982, Pendergrass was the leading R&B male artist of his day, usurping competition including closest rivals Marvin Gaye and Barry White. In 1980, the Isley Brothers released “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)” to compete with Pendergrass’ “Turn Off the Lights”, which sensed Pendergrass’ influence on the quiet storm format of black music.

Tragically, on March 18, 1982, a car crash with his Rolls Royce Silver Shadow left Teddy paralyzed from the chest down. He kept recording but filed to chart at first, eventually signing a deal and completing physical therapy, he released Love Language in 1984. The album included the pop ballad “Hold Me”, featuring a then-still unknown Whitney Houston.

He performed on 13 July ’85, at the historic Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, and continued to record throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Five times Grammy Award nominee, Teddy retired in 2006, but he did briefly return to performing to take part in the 2007, Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope & Possibilities, an awards ceremony that marked the 25th anniversary of his accident, raised money for his charity, The Teddy Pendergrass Alliance.

On June 5, 2009, Pendergrass underwent successful surgery for colon cancer and returned home to recover. A few weeks later he returned to the hospital with respiratory issues. After seven months, he died of respiratory failure on January 13, 2010, at age 59

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Bobby Charles 1/2010

Bobby CharlesJanuary 14, 2010 Bobby Charles was born Robert Charles Guidry on February 21, 1938 in Abbeville, Louisiana. As a kid grew up listening to Cajun music and the country and western music of Hank Williams. At the age of 15, he heard a performance by Fats Domino, an event that “changed my life forever,” he recalled.

Charles helped to pioneer the south Louisiana musical genre known as swamp pop. His compositions include the hits See You Later, Alligator, which he initially recorded himself as “Later Alligator”, but which is best known from the cover version by Bill Haley & His Comets which sold more than 1 million records, and “Walking to New Orleans“, written for Fats Domino.

He led a local group, the Cardinals, for whom he wrote a song called Hey Alligator at the age of 14. The song was inspired by an incident at a roadside diner, when his parting shot to a friend – “See you later, alligator” – inspired another customer to respond with: “In a while, crocodile.”

The popularity of the song led a local record-store owner to recommend Guidry to Leonard Chess of the Chicago-based Chess Records label. After Bobby had sung it over the phone, Chess signed him up. He travelled to New Orleans to record the song and several others under the name Bobby Charles. On his first visit to Chicago, he shocked the label’s owners, who had been expecting to meet a young black singer and had arranged a promotional tour of the “chitlin’ circuit” of African-American venues.

(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do” was an early 1960s song that Charles composed, which Clarence “Frogman” Henry had a major hit with, and which was on the soundtrack of the 1994 film Forrest Gump. His composition “Why Are People Like That?” was on the soundtrack of the 1998 film Home Fries.

Although Charles performed alongside big names such as Little Richard, the Platters and Chuck Berry on tours in the late 1950s, his own records for Chess, Imperial and Jewel did not sell that well. Nevertheless, he enjoyed songwriting royalties from hit versions of songs he had co-written, such as Walking to New Orleans, recorded by Fats Domino in 1960, and But I Do, recorded by Clarence “Frogman” Henry in 1961.

Charles’s laidback, drawling vocal style was also a formative influence on a style of music made by white and black Louisiana teenagers that came to be called swamp pop – primarily slow, rolling two-chord ballads drawing from all the musical traditions of south Louisiana, such as country, soul and Cajun.

Charles was invited to play with the Band at their November 26, 1976, farewell concert, The Last Waltz, at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. In the concert, Charles played “Down South in New Orleans”, with the help of Dr. John and the Band. That song was recorded and released as part of the triple-LP The Last Waltz box set. The performance was also captured on film by director Martin Scorsese, but did not appear in the final, released theatrical version. Charles did, however, appear briefly in a segment of the released film—in the concert’s final song, “I Shall Be Released“. In that segment, his image is largely blocked from view during the performance. That song, sung by Bob Dylan and pianist Richard Manuel, featured backup vocals from the entire ensemble, including Charles.

He co-wrote the song “Small Town Talk” with Rick Danko of the Band. “Promises, Promises (The Truth Will Set You Free)” was co-written with Willie Nelson.

Charles continued to compose and record (he was based out of Woodstock, New York, for a time) and in the 1990s he recorded a duet of “Walking to New Orleans” with Domino.

His songs continued to attract other singers. Joe Cocker recorded The Jealous Kind (in 1976), as did Ray Charles and Etta James. Kris Kristofferson was among several singers to record the wistful Tennessee Blues. Charles returned to the studio rarely in later years, recording Wish You Were Here Right Now (1995) and Secrets of the Heart (1998). The 2004 double CD Last Train to Memphis was a retrospective of his compositions, with guest appearances by Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Fats Domino. In 2008, his friend and collaborator Dr John co-produced the album Homemade Songs.

Charles lived for some years in quiet seclusion at Holly Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. After his house was destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005, he returned to Abbeville. His contribution to the music of his home state was recognised when he was inducted into the Louisiana music hall of fame in 2007. He had been in poor health recently with diabetes and was in remission from kidney cancer. He died on January 14, 2010 at age 71.

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Mick Green 1/2010

mick greenJanuary 11, 2010 Michael Robert “Mick” Green (the Pirates) was born on 22 February 1944 in Matlock Derbyshire, England but grew up in Wimbledon, south-west London, in the same block of flats as Johnny Spence and Frank Farley.

The three would eventually form a band that would play together for almost 50 years. Green met Farley in rather maverick circumstances; he fell out of a tree and landed on him. His first meeting with Spence was more conventional – Green turned up at Spence’s door holding a guitar and said: “I hear you know the opening bit to Cumberland Gap. Can you teach me?” The result was one of the most original guitarists Britain has ever produced.

The trio formed the Wayfaring Strangers in 1956, a skiffle band. Entering a competition at the Tottenham Royal Ballroom, the youngsters came second to a band called the Quarrymen, who later achieved success as the Beatles.

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