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Lee
Dorman
12/2012

Lee Dorman - Iron ButterflyDecember 21, 2012 – Douglas Lee Dorman was born in St. Louis on September 15, 1942 and moved to San Diego, CA in the mid 1960s.He began playing bass guitar in his teens, he became best known as a member of the psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly in the second part of the 1960s.

The band formed in 1966 in San Diego, California and signed its first record contract with Atco, a division of Atlantic Records, in 1967, according to the band’s Web site and in early 1968, their debut album Heavy was released. They were represented by the William Morris Agency who booked all their live concerts. The original members were Doug Ingle (vocals, organ), Jack Pinney (drums), Greg Willis (bass), and Danny Weis (guitar). They were soon joined by tambourine player and vocalist Darryl DeLoach. DeLoach’s parents’ garage on Luna Avenue served as the site for their almost nightly rehearsals.

Jerry Penrod and Bruce Morse replaced Willis and Pinney after the band relocated to Los Angeles in 1966 and Ron Bushy then came aboard when Morse left due to a critical family tragedy. All but Ingle and Bushy left the band after recording their first album in late 1967; the remaining musicians, faced with the possibility of the record not being released, quickly found replacements in bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Erik Brann (also known as “Erik Braunn” and “Erik Braun”) RIP 2003, and resumed touring and then recording the monster album In-a-Gadda-da-Vida.

In terms of sound, the group took inspiration from a variety of sources outside of the rock arena, such as the bongo playing of Preston Epps and the rhythm and blues music of Booker T and the MGs. Around this time, the band notably ran into Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page, who later stated that he used the group as partial inspiration for the name “Led Zeppelin”. In 1969, Led Zeppelin opened for Iron Butterfly at Fillmore East in New York, a fact Dorman was fond of noting.

A commonly related story says that In-a-Gadda-da-Vida was originally “In the Garden of Eden”, but at one point in the course of rehearsing and recording, singer Doug Ingle got drunk and slurred the words, creating the phonetic mondegreen that stuck as the title. However, the liner notes on ‘the best of’ CD compilation state that drummer Ron Bushy was listening to the track through headphones, and could not clearly distinguish what Ingle said when he asked him for the song’s title. An alternative explanation given in the liner notes of the 1995 re-release of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, is that Ingle was drunk, high, or both, when he first told Bushy the title, and Bushy wrote it down. Bushy then showed Ingle what he had written, and the slurred title stuck.

“In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” stayed on the national sales charts for two years and became a Top 40 radio hit and the album over time sold more than 30 million copies. The track has been featured in a number of films and television shows, including an episode of “The Simpsons.”

Dorman was an intricate part of the success of that song as he played bass in a style as if it was an equal instrument with the others which many considered an early example of moving from psychedelic rock to heavy metal.

When keyboardist Ingle left the band, due to the grueling tour schedules, Dorman founded another band, called Captain Beyond, in the 1970s. Captain Beyond was a rock group formed in Los Angeles in 1972 by ex-members of other prominent groups. Singer Rod Evans had been with Deep Purple; drummer Bobby Caldwell had worked with Johnny Winter; and guitarist Larry Rheinhart and Lee Dorman came from Iron Butterfly after they broke up. This lineup made their self-titled debut album for the Southern rock label Capricorn in 1972, after which Caldwell was replaced by Marty Rodriguez for their second album, Sufficiently Breathless(1973). Captain Beyond became inactive following the departure of Evans, but was reorganized in 1976. Caldwell returned, and drummer Willy Daffern was added as vocalist for Captain Beyond’s third album, Dawn Explosion (1977), recorded for Warner Bros. Dawn Explosion was Captain Beyond’s final effort.

From 1978 on Dorman continued touring with Iron Butterfly, during the many personnel changes, until he got too sick to do so in the early fall of 2012.

The last keyboard/singer of the band, German born Martin Gerschwitz, who had known Lee Dorman for seven years since he joined the band in 2005, said Mr. Dorman did not have any immediate surviving relatives at the time of his death.
He had suffered from heart problems for some time, a fact that ended his performing career in 2012.

Dorman was reportedly on a heart transplant list when he was found dead in his car, reportedly on his was to a doctor’s appointment, outside his home in Laguna Niguel, California, on December 21, 2012. He was 70 years old.

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Huw
Lloyd Langton
12/2012

Huw Lloyd Langdon6 December 2012 – Huw Lloyd-Langton was born Richard Hugh Lloyd-Langton on 6 February 1951 in Harlesden, North London.

He started playing guitar at school, self styled and talented. In the course of those formative years in rock and roll he learned to read and write music and after high school graduation he moved to Germany where he got his first professional gig with a rather popular touring band called WINSTON G, which alternated gigs between Holland and Germany. He toured with them continuously for 6 months. The bass player was Pete Becket who later played with Player and Little Feat.

Back in England in 1969 he joined Hawkwind on their debut album in 1970.  He remained with them for next 2 1/2 years recording their first 2 LP’s, which sell regularly to this day. He left them after an illness in late 1971, and although he occasionally joined them he did not return full time until 1979 when their LP ‘LIVE 79’ went straight into the top 10 UK charts.

The rest of the Seventies showed him in a variety of gigs. A 2-year acoustic stint in vegetarian London restaurant PASTURES. John Butler DIESEL PARK WEST’S singer joined him for 6 months and Eddy Klima, RATTLES singer for another year. He taught guitar at a comprehensive school in Streatham for a year and did numerous sessions, one included writing the music for a cartoon, narrated by Viv Stanshall of the BONZO DOG DOO DA BAND and 6 months with LEO SAYER touring the UK & Europe.

Several band situations including working with John Lingwood MANFRED MANN’S long standing Drummer; AMON DIN with Dave Anderson AMON DUL’S bass player; GALLERY with Rob Rawlinson on Bass from Ian Hunters OVERNIGHT ANGELS; MAGILL with Pete Scott from SAVOY BROWN and he toured Yugoslavia with ALEKZANDER JOHN (known as Alekzander Mezek) who was one of their top rock performers. Another excellent band was the Trinidadian Band BATTI MAMSELLE, whose music had a strong Latin American influence with lead singer LONDON BEAT’S Jimmy Chambers. They appeared in briefly in the film ‘Alfie Darling’ starring Alan price. The Director wanted an all black band but they refused to perform without Huw.

From 1974 to 1978 he joined WIDOMAKER touring the USA and recording 2 LPs, which charted there. Lineup included Steve Ellis- LOVE AFFAIR, Aerial Bender- MOTT THE HOOPLE, Bob Daisley-RAINBOW, Paul Nicholls LINDISFARNE and ‘John Butler ‘, again)!

In 1979 he rejoined HAWKWIND where he remained for the next 10 years. Their LP ‘LIVE 79 went straight in the top 10 UK charts. Everything Hawkwind did between 1979 and 1985 was either in the pop, heavy metal or independent charts. In 1982 Huw formed LLOYD LANGTON GROUP (LLG) to gig between HAWKWIND quiet periods. LLG has 2 singles and 2 LPs in Heavy Metal charts during 80s. During this period he had his own column in GUITARIST magazine for 6 months titled ‘Langton’s Lead Lines’.

Between 1989 and the end of the 90s Huw joined the PRETTY THINGS on one European tour. Toured Italy in ’93 with DR BROWN who had 2 independent hits there. Toured the UK several times with LLG. In the spring of ’95 he toured Sweden with Ray Majors, MOTT THE HOOPLES last guitarist.

September 2000 Huw rejoined Hawkwind for ‘Hawkestra Re-Union’ gig at Brixton Academy. This sell-out show featured 21 past members, including Lemmy. However, the main nucleus on stage throughout was Dave Brock, Alan Davey, Richard chadwick and Huw Lloyd-Langton.

Huw officially rejoined Hawkwind in 2001. They played their first major Tour in the UK since 1977 playing 18-dates nation-wide in November 2001. They kicked-off at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 10th October. Huw contracted ‘Legionnaires Disease’ on this tour and was hospitalized. This left him extremely fragile. Hawkwind toured UK again December 2002 but Huw was unable to complete the last two dates as he suffered ill health on and off over next few years with a variety of broken bones (mainly arms and wrists).

He continued to make guest appearances with Hawkwind and played solo support slots on tour.

In August 2009, Huw played an acoustic set at Hawkwind’s 40th anniversary concert at Porchester Hall, in London.

One of the world’s longest-running bands, Hawkwind have undergone countless changes of personnel and musical styles over the years. Former members and collaborators include Motorhead’s Lemmy, science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, and ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

Huw’s health had been generally poor for a decade and he was quite frail, with several broken bones and minor injuries (rarely letting fans down though – he once played a gig with a broken arm, reworking his solos on the fly so that he could play them in one area of the guitar neck).

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2010 he died at his home on 6 December 2012, aged 61. His final recording with Hawkwind was a re-recording of Master of the Universe for the compilation album Spacehawks.

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Cass
Cassidy
12/2012

ed cassidyDecember 6, 2012 – Edward Claude “Cass” Cassidy was born Harvey, Illinois, a rural area outside Chicago, on May 4, 1923. His family moved to Bakersfield, California in 1931. Cassidy began his career as a professional musician in 1937. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and after his discharge held many jobs before becoming a full-time musician again. At one time in the late 1940s, Cassidy played 282 consecutive one-nighters in 17 states. He worked in show bands, Dixieland, country and western bands, and on film soundtracks, as well as having a brief stint with the San Francisco Opera.

Way back when rock ’n’ roll was countercultural — before the members of the Rolling Stones were anywhere close to 50 years old, much less celebrating their 50th anniversary together — the genre tended to emphasize rather than bridge generational divides.

So when the experimental group Spirit formed in the late 1960s, it was different not just for the way it fused jazz and rock, or the way it mixed psychedelia with a particularly tight backbeat. It was also different because its drummer was the 44-year-old stepfather of its 16-year-old guitarist, Randy California.

By the time Spirit formed in 1967, Mr. Cassidy had already had a notable and diverse musical career. He had played with jazz musicians including Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Cannonball Adderly and had formed a folk-blues group with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder called the Rising Sons.

While Cassidy was performing with other adults, his young stepson, Randy Wolfe, was becoming a fine musician himself. He impressed Jimi Hendrix when they met in a music store in Manhattan, and it was Hendrix who gave Randy the nickname he went by for the rest of his life, Randy California to distinguish him from bass player Randy Texas (Palmer). Hendrix wanted tot take the kid to London, but that was thwarted by Cassidy and soon enough, stepfather and stepson were playing and touring together.

Spirit released more than a dozen albums from 1968 to 1996, but it was the first work that was the most influential and critically praised. Its biggest hit and only Top 40 single, “I Got a Line on You,” was released in 1968; the band was also celebrated for its adventurous 1970 album, “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.” That record included the song “Mr. Skin,” which was the nickname Mr. Cassidy’s fellow band members had given him in honor of his shaved head.

Bob Irwin, the president and owner of Sundazed Records, which has reissued many Spirit albums and also released previously unissued tracks, said the band’s early recording sessions were “kind of like a jazz history lesson” in which Mr. Cassidy nurtured his much younger colleagues.

“Ed always encouraged them to color outside the box, to take chances onstage, to play to the best of and beyond their abilities,” Mr. Irwin said.

Early reviews were usually complimentary, but critics were less positive several years later, after the band’s lineup changed. (Mr. Cassidy and Randy California remained its only constant members.) The critic Robert Palmer, writing in The New York Times in 1976, singled out Mr. Cassidy from what he said was an otherwise unimpressive performance.

“Mr. Cassidy’s drumming is still exceptional — his obligatory long solo at the end of the set was the subtlest, most musical part of the evening,” Mr. Palmer wrote.

Cassidy succumbed to cancer on Dec. 6, 2012 at age 89.

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Michael
Dunford
11/2012

Michael DunfordNovember 20, 2012 – Michael Dunford (Renaissance) was born in 1944 in Surrey, England.

The reclusive and soft-spoken composer, a mainstay in the world of progressive rock, was born, raised and educated in Surrey. His first job was selling clothing in a local shop followed by a stint as an airside driver at Heathrow Airport which enabled him to form a “skiffle” group which lead to his first rock band called Nashville Teens in the early 1960s. Nashville Teens reached #6 on U.K. singles charts with their version of Tobacco Road. On leaving them, he formed several other bands including The Pentad and The Plebes. One night he went to see the original band Renaissance perform locally and ended up joining them in the early 1970s. The original band members were Jim McCarty, Louis Cennamo, John Hawken, Keith Relf and Jane Relf.

Dunford entered the band during a period of transition. Though he wrote (and played guitar on) ‘Mr. Pine’ from 1971’s largely ignored ‘Illusion,’ his influence wasn’t truly felt until Renaissance’s third album, 1972’s ‘Prologue.’ This was the beginning of the band’s classic ’70s period, cementing their trademark brand of epic, symphonic prog. Dunford wrote two tracks on his own and co-wrote two others, though he didn’t actually contribute to the recording. Nonetheless, his writing gave the band focus: The elegant title-track (written by Dunford) is one of Renaissance’s most powerful instrumentals, featuring Haslam’s towering voice, John Tout’s jazzy, Latin-tinged piano, and Jon Camp’s furious bassline.

From that point forward, Dunford (along with writing partner, lyricist Betty Thatcher) was the band’s guiding creative force. He co-wrote all but one track on the band’s 1973 breakthrough, the orchestra-backed ‘Ashes Are Burning,’ making his studio debut and showcasing his signature acoustic guitar playing: subtle, misty, and slightly majestic.

And with each subsequent release, both Dunford and Renaissance grew more powerful. Their masterpiece was delivered in 1975 with ‘Scheherazade and Other Stories,’ their most cinematic and densely layered work, concluding with the 25-minute epic ‘Song of Scheherazade’ (which was also captured–in an arguably more thrilling context — on the 1976 live double-album ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’).

Though Renaissance were a British band, most of their success during this peak period came in the United States: ‘Scheherazade’ landed at No. 48 on the Billboard Album Charts, and their 1977 follow-up, ‘Novella,’ reached the same spot. The band’s biggest success, however, came in their home country with 1978’s ‘A Song for All Seasons,’ which peaked at No. 35 in the UK, thanks in large part to the success of that album’s hit single, ‘Northern Lights,’ which was built on Dunford’s shimmering strums and John Tout’s newly utilized synthesizers.

But these were also dark times. Punk and disco were diminishing the prog-rock’s relevance, leaving bands like Renaissance with a choice: either adapt or face extinction. As a result, Renaissance–under Camp’s guiding presence–went through a radical makeover in the 1980s. They released two albums, 1981’s ‘Camera Camera’ and 1983’s ‘Time-Line,’ both of which sought to blend the band’s artful rock with a more streamlined, synth-heavy approach leaning toward new-wave. After both albums tanked, the band’s remaining core trio (Dunford, Haslam, and Camp) dissolved into their own factions, with Dunford and Haslam seeking to continue the Renaissance name separately. Without each other, the magic wasn’t there.

But Dunford managed to reunite with Haslam, the magical voice behind his band’s best music, for 2001’s ‘Tuscany’ (also featuring Tout on keyboards, along with original drummer, Terence Sullivan), an album that recaptured some of the original Renaissance spirit.

Sadly, both Dunford and his old band are rarely mentioned in the same breath as their prog peers like Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson. Part of the reason is exposure: Even during their mid-to-late ’70s prime, Renaissance were never chart-toppers or stadium sell-outs (though they did manage one UK top-ten single, 1978’s ‘Northern Lights’). And they were never as technically flashy or boldly experimental as those bands: Throughout the group’s quietly excellent lifespan, the Renaissance catalogue is middle-of-the-road, but in a good way — consistently built on Annie Haslam’s soaring, operative, five-octave vocals, Jon Camp’s propulsive and melodic basslines, and Dunford’s tasteful guitar playing and arrangements. They were never prog’s trailblazers or sonic innovators — but they were certainly one of the most consistently great, album-to-album.

Dunford, the guitarist and chief composer behind Renaissance’s sweeping, symphonic progressive rock, passed away on November 20, 2012 after suffering an Instantaneous Cerebral Hemmorage at his Surrey, England home. He is survived not only by his wife, two sons, and sister — but also by some of the most hauntingly beautiful progressive rock albums ever recorded.

Before his death, Dunford was as musically active as he’d been in a decade: He’d just finished the first leg of a well-received tour (with Haslam and a new Renaissance line-up), with a newly recorded follow-up album, ‘Grandine il Vento,’ scheduled for a 2013 release. Ironically, what began as an incredibly exciting year for Renaissance turned into its final chapter. And considering the circumstances, ‘Vento’ should be the band’s swan song.

Though Dunford’s never been one of prog-rock’s most visible icons, he’s a crucial player in the genre’s rich history. He should be remembered that way.

 

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Big Jim Sullivan 10/2012

bigjim92October 2, 2012 – Big Jim Sullivan was born James George Tomkins on February 14, 1941 British guitarist born in Middlesex. In 1959, he met Marty Wilde at The 2i’s Coffee Bar, and was invited to become a member of his backing group, the Wildcats, who were the warm up act on the television series, Oh, Boy!.

The Wildcats backed Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on their tour of Britain in 1960. In the 60s and 70s he also played on hits by Billy Fury, Frank Ifield, Adam Faith, Frankie Vaughan, Helen Shapiro, Freddie and the Dreamers, Cilla Black, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, Georgie Fame, Bobby Darin, Little Richard, The Walker Brothers, Donovan, David Bowie, Engelbert Humperdinck, Benny Hill, The New Seekers, Thunderclap Newman, Love Affair, Long John Baldry, Marmalade, Small Faces, The Tremeloes, Rolf Harris, George Harrison and many more as well as being a member of Tom Jones’ band.

He performed on no less than 55 No.1 hits singles during this life!!!

Continue reading Big Jim Sullivan 10/2012

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Joe
South
9/2012

Joe-South1September 5, 2012 – Joe South, aka Joseph Alfred Souter was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist born in Atlanta, Georgia on February 28, 1940. He started his pop career in July 1958 writing the novelty hit “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor”. In 1959, he wrote 2 songs which were recorded by Gene Vincent: “I Might Have Known” and “Gone Gone Gone”. He began his recording career with the National Recording Corporation, where he was staff guitarist along with other NRC artists Ray Stevens and Jerry Reed.

He was also a prominent sideman, playing guitar on the likes of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools”, Tommy Roe’s “Sheila”, and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album.

His 1969 “Games People Play”, a hit on both sides of the Atlantic was accompanied by a lush string sound, organ, and brass, the production won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Song and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

His compositions have been recorded by many artists, including Billy Joe Royal’s songs “Down in the Boondocks”, “I Knew You When”, “Yo-Yo”, later a hit for the Osmonds, and “Hush” later a hit for Deep Purple and Kula Shaker. Joe’s most commercially successful composition was Lynn Anderson’s 1971 monster hit “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden”, which was a hit in 16 countries and translated into many languages. Anderson won a Grammy Award for her vocals, and Joe won a Grammy Award for writing the song.

Joe was inducted into Georgia Music Hall of Fame. On September 5, 2012 he died from heart failure.

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Scott McKenzie 8/2012

August 18, 2012 – Scott McKenzie was born Philip Wallach Blondheim III in Jacksonville, Florida on January 10, 1939.

His family moved to Asheville, North Carolina, when he was six months old and he grew up in North Carolina and Virginia, where he became friends with the son of one of his mother’s friends, John Phillips. In the mid-1950s, he sang briefly with Tim Rose in a high school group called The Singing Strings, and later with Phillips, Mike Boran, and Bill Cleary when they formed a doo wop band, The Abstracts.

In New York, The Abstracts became The Smoothies and recorded two singles with Decca Records, produced by Milt Gabler. During his time with The Smoothies, Blondheim decided to change his name for business reasons:

“We were working at one of the last great night clubs, The Elmwood Casino in Windsor, Ontario. We were part of a variety show … three acts, dancing girls, and the entire cast took part in elaborate, choreographed stage productions … As you might imagine, after-show parties were common.
“At one of these parties I complained that nobody could understand my real name…and pointed out that this was a definite liability in a profession that benefited from instant name recognition. Everyone started trying to come up with a new name for me. It was comedian Jackie Curtis who said he thought I looked like a Scottie dog. Phillips came up with Laura’s middle name after Jackie’s suggestion. I didn’t like being called “Scottie” so everybody agreed my new name could be Scott McKenzie.”

In 1961 Phillips and McKenzie met Dick Weissman and formed the folk group, The Journeymen, at the height of the folk music craze. They recorded three albums and seven singles for Capitol Records. After The Beatles became popular in 1964, The Journeymen disbanded. McKenzie and Weissman became solo performers, while Phillips formed the group The Mamas & the Papas with Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips and moved to California.

McKenzie originally declined an opportunity to join the group, saying in a 1977 interview, “I was trying to see if I could do something by myself. And I didn’t think I could take that much pressure”. Two years later, he left New York and signed with Lou Adler’s Ode Records.

San Francisco was written with McKenzie in mind. Phillips orchestrated the session, playing the acoustic guitar himself and bringing in bassist Joe Osborn and drummer Hal Blaine, who had played on most of the Mamas and the Papas recordings, plus Gary L. Coleman on bells and chimes, to give the song a happy, springtime feel.
San Francisco, as its parenthetical subtitle suggested, implored listeners to make their way west, flowers strategically placed:”For those who come to San Francisco Summertime will be a love-in there. In the streets of San Francisco Gentle people with flowers in their hair

It was released on 13 May 1967 in the United States and was an instant hit, reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 in the Canadian RPM Magazine charts. It was also a number 1 in the UK and several other countries, selling over seven million copies globally.
Perhaps too ironically, the song was written and recorded by people from Los Angeles.

The song is credited with having added to the mass of youths arriving in the city for what became known as the Summer of Love. Whether San Francisco was equipped to handle such an invasion and its attendant problems was a bone of contention at the time. Many residents, including hippies who’d already been enjoying the city’s freedoms, resented the newcomers as well. Some of the local bands openly scoffed at the song, calling it nave and hokey, not to mention intrusive on their scene.

You know who really hated San Francisco, Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair?
The city officials of San Francisco!
It was apparent by the early months of 1967 that their city was going to be receiving an influx of young people once school let out and the weather warmed up some higher-ups were predicting that thousands of them might besiege the city, jobless, homeless, many of them taking drugs and congregating on the streets without a care in the world.
The migration had already begun in 1965-66, the city’s population swelling with seekers of love and life (many of them runaways escaping boring lives in boring midwest places), drawn to the vibrant, freewheeling culture and physical beauty of the city. In particular they were swarming to the Haight-Ashbury district, adjacent to Golden Gate Park. They’d spend their days lying about in that park and their evenings at one of the city’s newly sprouted rock music ballrooms, where they’d listen and dance to new bands with odd names like Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead.
For the youth, San Francisco was a mecca, a place one could go to be around similarly inclined outcasts from around the country. Living was cheap and no one minded sleeping on the floor of a crash pad in one of the Haight’s trippy Victorian houses with a dozen new friends, toking on joints (or maybe popping a tab of Owsley acid) and passing bottles of cheap wine while the record player blasted out newly released albums like the Beatles’  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow and the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Are You Experienced. In January 1967 they held a Human Be-In to celebrate the very existence of their community.

Nonetheless, San Francisco (Wear Flowers in Your Hair) and its message of communality and gentle vibes struck a chord with a growing segment of the nation (and abroad) for which the phrase flower power was a new rallying cry against the Vietnam War. Many came to San Francisco to have a look, including both George Harrison and Paul McCartney and some even came to stay, like Janis. Most hung out for a little while and then moved on, either back home or, perhaps, to rural communes or other communities built around like-minded folks. Millions who never got near the Golden Gate Bridge simply liked the easy-flowing song enough to make it a quick success.

McKenzie followed the song with “Like An Old Time Movie”, also written and produced by Phillips, which was a minor hit (number 27 in Canada). His first album, The Voice of Scott McKenzie, was followed with an album called Stained Glass Morning. McKenzie also penned the song “Hey! What About Me” that launched the career of Canadian singer Anne Murray in 1968.

Scott ‘dropped out’ in the late 60’s. In 1970 he moved to Joshua Tree, a California desert town near Palm Springs. In 1973 he went to Virginia Beach, VA, where he lived for 10 years.
In 1986, original Papa’s Denny Doherty and John Phillips, with Mackenzie Phillips (John Phillips’ daughter) and Spanky McFarlane (ex Spanky and Our Gang) as female vocalists took a new version of the group onto the nostalgia circuit. Later, when Denny left the group, Scott joined John Phillips as the second Papa. However, when John left due to ill health, Denny returned and Scott took the role vacated by John Phillips.

In 1988 Scott co-wrote the Beach Boys hit Kokomo with John Phillips, Beach Boy Mike Love and the late Terry Melcher, long time producer of the Beach Boys.
Scott spent much of the 1990’s touring with the Mamas and Papas. Eventually, with no original members left, the group disbanded in 1998.

In the 21st Century Scott still performed on occasion. He performed in Germany and in 2003 performed on a PBS Folk special. During March 2005, PBS broadcast a concert called “My Generation — the 60’s Experience.” In the show Scott sings San Francisco and at the end of the program ‘unannounced’ a song called We’ve Been Asking Questions, one of the last songs written by John Phillips before his death in 2001.
In 2009 Scott recorded the Denny Doherty song Gone To Sea Again.

In retirement Scott lived in LA and became a big fan of Facebook where he had many friends in his “Asylum”. Scott was in and out of hospital since 2010 after falling ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease affecting the nervous system. It is thought he may have had a heart attack in early August, 2012. Staff did not want him to leave the hospital, but he wanted to be at home and passed away on 18th August 2012. He was 73.

 

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Lou
Martin
8/2012

piano player with Rory Gallagher bandAugust 16, 2012 – Louis ‘Lou’ Martin was born on August 12, 1949 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

With very musically inclined parents, Martin started learning the piano at the age of six, and joined his first professional band, Killing Floor, in April or May 1968. In 1969 Martin and Stuart McDonald were recruited by 17-year-old Darryl Read who formed a band for Emperor Rosko’s brother (Jeff Pasternak) called Crayon Angels, which Read put together and played drums, while Rosko acted as manager.

Martin later left Killing Floor to play alongside blues guitar virtuoso Rory Gallagher, and is featured on several of Gallagher’s albums, including Blueprint, Tattoo, Irish Tour ’74, Against the Grain, Calling Card, Defender and Fresh Evidence. He also played rhythm guitar on one track, “Race the Breeze” from Blueprint.

After leaving Gallagher’s band, Martin and drummer Rod de’Ath formed Ramrod, after which Martin played with Downliners Sect and Screaming Lord Sutch, and also toured with Chuck Berry and Albert Collins.

Martin played in the Nickey Barclay band in London in the 1980s, alongside Barclay (ex-Fanny) on keyboards, with John Conroy (ex-Sam Mitchell Band) and Dave Ball on lead guitar (ex-Procol Harum). The band played across London on the blues rock circuit during the 1980s at venues such as The White Lion, Putney; The Star and Garter on Lower Richmond Road; The Golden Lion, Fulham and the Cartoon, Croydon.

Killing Floor released an album in 2004 named Zero Tolerance, on which Martin participated.

Lou died after a long period of illness including a battle with cancer and a number of strokes on August 16, 2012.

The following interview with Lou Martin was done by Markus Gygax, publisher of Deuce Quarterly for the issue 46 Feb. 1989 and gives a revealing picture of the life of a sideman in Rock and Roll.

Intro: Apart from Gerry MacAvoy, Lou Martin seems to be the most famous and most popular musician who has ever played in Rory’s band as you can gather from the more or less frequent polls in DEUCE; the letters that I get, as well as what the not-so-great-fans say about Rory’s music. Besides, Lou is the only one – what great news- who, after their split -up, joined the band once more to record an album (see Defender).

On the 20th of May, 1988, the Mick Clarke Band played Chur; it was also their first live performance with Lou Martin. It is true that Lou and Mick both played with the Killing Floor, the Ramrod and on the first two solo albums by Clarke. But they had never played live because they were just about to change the man on the keyboards.

In October 1988, the Mick Clarke band played a rather long Swiss and Austrian tour, which I have organized for them. On this tour, Lou Martin played as support, his only equipment was the piano and his vocals.

While being in Chur for four days with the band, Lou Martin talked about lots and lots of things. Lou was apparently enjoying the tour very much, probably because it was his first solo tour and therefore a special event. Unfortunately, we did not record any of the conversations we had during these days. Therefore I sent a written interview to Lou shortly after the concert, which he gave me back on my visit in London at the end of July 1988.

In my opinion, it is a most interesting interview a of a man who lives mainly for the music (he is also fond of flowers, dogs and cats). He has seen a lot in his life, he has got a quick eye for any kind of music, and it is always interesting to listen to what he tells you. It seems that giving interviews is an everyday routine for Lou, but you will see that he is not used to it at all. So now let’s hear what he has to say. Here is his very first interview for DEUCE;

MG- Lou, let’s start from the beginning. Where and when were you born?
LM- In Belfast, Northern Ireland on the 12th of August, 1949.

MG- As far as the music is concerned, were you influenced by your parents? Did you play any music at home?
LM- Yes, a lot. My father sang mainly operatic music, and my mother played the piano. We listened to the music all day, mainly classical music.

MG- When did you start to play the piano?
LM- At the age of six

MG- Who were the first people you played with?
LM- The first time I formed a band was at school. It was just for fun. Nothing serious. We played rock’n’roll, Shadows songs, rhythm & blues by Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, a few songs by the Animals, and almost everything which was in at that time.

MG- Did you do any kind of job before you started to be a professional?
LM- I intended to train for something, namely music teacher. But I think I was too infatuated with my own music.

MG- How many years have you worked as professional?
LM- This year, exactly 20 years

MG- When did you join Killing Floor?
LM- In April or May 1968. I saw their advertisement in MELODY MAKER and answered it.

MG- How come you didn’t play on the second Killing Floor album, Out of Uranus, but you name is mentioned on the cover just the same?
LM- At that time, I was not permanently in the band, so I played on only one song namely called Call for the Politicians. The producer wanted the keyboard sound far in the background; but he still wanted me to play somewhere.

MG- Who are your musical favourites?
LM- I am interested in many styles. I often listen to classical music, Beethoven, Brahms, Rachromicoff, often jazz, folk, Bob Dylan is one of my favourites, early rock, and of course, the blues.

MG- Who are your favourites on piano?
LM- Jerry Lee Lewis, Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Pete Johnson, Fats Waller, Dave Brubeck, Horace Silver, Ray Charles, Ramsey Lewis James etc.

MG- Do you write some of your songs?
LM- No, I just improvise known melodies and mix them somehow.

MG- Would you like to record an album?
LM- Sure, an album with a healthy mixture of my favourite styles and good musicians would be nice.

MG- Can you give me a list of your favourite LP’s?
LM- Oh, I could give you 200 titles. I will try it anyway, but I just cannot give you a sequence. There are Elvis Presley ( Vol.1 & 2, The Early Years), Carl Perkins, Little Richard (number 1 and 2), Jerry Lee Lewis (practically everything), Howlin’ Wolf (everything), Muddy Waters (everything), Bob Dylan (almost everything), Rolling Stones (almost everything), Chieftains (no.5), Dubliners (Revolution-album), John Fogerty (Rockin’ All over the World), John Mayall, etc.

MG- Now let’s talk about Rory. When did you first see him live?
LM- I saw him for the first time in 1968 at the Marquee Club in London, at that time with the first Taste setup, namely Eric Kitteringham and Norman Damery.

MG- When did you first meet him in person?
LM- It was sometime in 1971.

MG- How did you come to join Rory’s band?
LM- Rod De’ath, who was with the Killing Floor, just like me, substituted for Wilgar Campbell on the drums as everybody knows. Shortly afterwards, Rory asked me whether I would like to join them too.

MG- On the first album, Blueprint, you seem to play also on the guitar. On which songs?
LM- Only on one track, on Race the Breeze. I played the rhythm guitar. By the way, even nowadays, when I am at home, I play the guitar, even more often than I play the piano. Just to relax.

MG- Did you or other musicians in Rory’s band never give any interviews?
LM- We gave one in 1973 for New Musical Express. Gerry, Rod De’Ath and myself were interviewed. It would certainly have been great fun. But that guy was such an idiot. When the interview was published, everything had been misinterpreted. That cured us all. This one here is the second interview in my life, but this time I am convinced that you will publish what I have said.

MG- Otherwise, which were the best moments during the period in Rory’s band?
LM- Over the years, there had been so many marvelous live shows. It is impossible for me to pick out particular concerts because most concerts with Rory were marvelous. The very best memories are those of the gigs at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1976 or ’77 – even Bob Dylan got so enthusiastic over this shows that he came to see Rory in the dressing room after the concert- and all the shows we did during ’72 and ’76 in Belfast and Cork in Ireland.

MG- Are there any bad memories of the Rory era?
LM- If my memory does not fail me, there are hardly any bad memories. Except for some occasional trouble with the instruments there were not any. We were much more constant than other bands and this goes for Rory even nowadays.

MG- Which LP, do you think, is Rory’s best one, choosing from those on which you played? Which one, in your opinion, is his best of those you did not take part in?
LM- Of course I have my favourites -20:20 Vision on Tattoo is really nice. At the Bottom on Against the Grain has always been one of my favourites, then Banker’s Blues on Blueprint; I have still a great respect for the album, Calling Card. On this album, the band sounds incredibly compact. It has got a marvelous sound, fantastic songs. In my opinion, everything is perfect. Besides, I am happy with the version of Seven Days from the Defender album. Anyway, Defender is one of his very best LP’s.

MG: How did the surprising cooperation for the Defender LP come about?
LM: Rory rang me up and told me that he was going to record an acoustic blues track for his new album. He thought that my style would be good for the song. It took us one afternoon to get the track finished.

MG: In which country is Rory most popular?
LM: I am not able to tell you because I really don’t know. But I think his prestige throughout the world guarantees his success in every country.

MG: Did you change your attitude towards the Rory Gallagher Band before you became a permanent member and since you left the band?
LM: I always admired the band and I still do so now. Rory’s set-ups have always been great; he has always had excellent musicians with him.

MG: Before recording Defender, did Rory ever ask you to play on one of his other albums?
LM: No, he did not

MG: How was the situation when the split between Rod de’Ath and you happened?
LM: Very friendly

MG: Are you still in touch with each other?
LM: We meet each other occasionally, but our engagements make it sometimes difficult. The contact is still there, though. I think we are always glad to meet now and then.

MG: Have you ever had any contacts with other musicians of the Taste/Rory?
LM: I met most of them and had a good drink with them. I have never met Norman Damery, Eric Kittering ham and John Wilson.

MG: After the split, have you seen Rory live again?
LM: I am quite ashamed to admit that I never have. Just once I watched a TV show with Ted McKenna on the drums. But I do want to see Rory again, particularly when he plays Mark Feltham.

MG: Did you get any “precious metals’ for Rory’s albums on which you played?
LM: For Tattoo there was a gold disc, a silver disc each for Against the Grain and Irish Tour ’74. I hang them all in the front room if my house.

MG: Are Rory’s Irish tours so fantastic as it is described everywhere?
LM: Absolutely. Ireland is our home country. The enthusiasm and gratitude which we received on our Irish tours is indescribable. It is the most thankful audience in the world. Emotional and excellent concerts. I am sure that this is still the case nowadays when the band plays there.

MG: What do you think of the albums which Rory recorded with black artists such as Albert King and Muddy Waters?
LM: Excellent albums. These people are our roots.

MG: What did you do after the split with Rory?
LM: Rod De’Ath and I formed Ramrod. Then I tried to get solo engagements. Band wise, I did not do anything except a few sessions with Dowliner Sect and Screamin’ Lord Sutch. A few things with Mick Clarke. The Southside Blues band, sessions with Tommy Morrison, tours and concerts with Chuck Berry and Albert Collins.

MG: What are you doing at the moment?
LM: I have a flower shop on my own, which I run during the day. In the evenings, I have a permanent job with a West-end French restaurant where I am the bar pianist. It is near Leicester Square, Central London. Sessions happen occasionally.

MG: How did the co-operation with Chuck Berry come about?
LM: The London Capitol Radio announced that they were looking for two musicians for a Chuck Berry tour. A friend of mine, a musician, told me about it. I got in touch and go the job.

MG: How was the engagement with Albert Collins arranged?
LM: Again, a friend of mine, also a musician, gave me a ring and told me that Collins was looking for a pianist for his two shows in London. I played there and got the job.

MG: What about the Screamin’ Lord Sutch?
LM: We recorded an album, which was arranged by Rod De’Ath. Sutch’s old hits were being re-recorded for an LP which was planned to be put on the German market. Keith Grant (bass) and Terry Gibson (guitar), two old friends of mine, who played with the Dowliner Sect, were also there.

MG: What about the recordings of Gerry McAvoy’s solo album?
LM: All the recordings were organized by Gerry. They were recorded before and after I left the band. Most of the recordings were recorded live in the Bridge House, one of the best clubs at the end of the 70’s. At that time, there were many friends helping each other at concerts or studio sessions.

MG: What about Tommy Morrison? Is he a club performer in England or how would you describe him? I have never heard anything about him….
LM: Tommy is a good friends of Paul Rogers ( ex-Free/ Bad Company/ The Firm). Since Paul and I know each other, he asked me and Rod De’Ath whether we would like to record an LP with Tommy. I do not think Tommy has ever played live.

MG: How big, do you think, is the chance for a successful future for the Mick Clarke Band? Can you imagine a break-through of the band, similar to Vaughan’s, Thorogood’s?
LM: Mick and I have been very close friends for over 20 years. His development as a guitarist is most remarkable. In my opinion, he certainly ranks among the top musicians. His voice and stage performance have improved greatly. So why not?

MG: Is there the possibility of you becoming a permanent member of the band?
LM: I would like to spend as much time as possible with the band. But because of my engagements, it not possible just now. I would like to be more involved. Anyway, I play on the first two of the four albums by Clarke. If I had more time or if there were not so many engagements, I would not have to think twice.

MG: Which musicians did you do jam sessions with? Are there any hard rock bands among them?
LM: It is hard to remember everybody, but there were certainly a few sessions worth being remembered. For example, there was a very fine one in 1975 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Rory was there, Rod De’Ath and Gerry MacAvoy, Louisiana Red came, Harvey Brooks on bass, a West Coast veteran, who played on Mike Bloomfield’s LP’s. Besides, there was the whole brass band of Etta James. During an American tour there was a big encore with the Rory band and the Doobie Brothers. During a break in 1973 in Chicago, I played two days in Otis Rush’s band. At that time I saw lots of interesting people for the first time live, for example, Junior Wells, Phillip Guy, Mighty Joe Young……In 1968, we (killing Floor) played with Freddie King. There were hardly any hard rock musicians, no famous ones for that matter.

MG: Music wise, which moments do you consider the best?
LM: The first time I was live on stage with Freddie King and Rory, the gigs with Otis Rush, the shows with Albert Collins and Chuck Berry, then of course when I met Muddy Waters, the concert with the Mick Clarke Band in Chur was brilliant.

MG: Which was the best period?
LM: When I was with Rory, no doubt. Everybody in the band was improving incredibly fast because we played most nights and everywhere. In any case, I learnt most at that time.

MG: What did you enjoy more, to play live or in the studio? Which live performances did you enjoy most?
LM: I liked every band a lot. We always had a lot of fun on stage. There were so many fine gigs with Rory. And even though they were writing so many negative things about Chuck berry nowadays, I must say that at least every third gig with him was fantastic. As far as the studio is concerned, I usually played with Rory. But other studio recordings , too, were nice. Apart from Rory, it is probably Mick Clarke I like working with most.

MG: Which LP, in your opinion, is the best from those you played on?
LM: Calling Card, because of the way I play and also the whole feeling of the album. I would have liked to have made an LP with Chuck Berry because the group he had at that time was really great. I also like the two albums with Mick Clarke, particularly, Rock Me. It would be nice to get a gold disc for that one.

MG: Now, here is a quite different subject: What do you or other Rory band members think of fanclubs?
LM: No idea. Anyway, I think a good fanclub is important for 90% of the musicians. I do not think that it is smiled at. Probably there are many people who realize only now that there is a Rory fanclub and that the fanzines is really interesting. In any case, I like reading it.

MG: Apart from music, do you have any other hobbies?
LM: I’ll enjoy a good drink…..

MG: Here are a few questions which I am really interested in. Is it something special to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival?
LM: It is one of the most important jazz festivals in Europe. Beautiful setting and scenery.

MG: I would like to know what do you think of my favorite musicians. Here they are: Canned Heat, Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack, Taj Mahal, John Hammond and Tony McPhee’s Groundhogs.
LM: During all the years that I have been in the music scene, I have met musicians, either personally or at least I saw them live. Of course I have also collected their LP’s. My favorite if those you mentioned are John Hammond and Canned Heat. During one of Rory’s concerts in 1974 or 1975 in Canada, there was a session with John Hammond. Later we were joined by Freddie King. I also saw Taj Mahal live. However, I prefer his early works when he played more blues than he does now, Nowadays, Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack, as well as Tony McPhee’s Groundhogs play mainly the clubs in London. In general, their shows are still very good.

MG: Here comes my last question, which might also be quite interesting for our Deuce readers. What would you do if Rory asked you whether you would like to join the band again?
LM: If he really offered me this job, I would probably say yes. We have the same roots and he has certainly influenced me over the years.

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Larry Hoppen 7/2012

July 24, 2012 – Larry Lewis Hoppen (Orleans) was born on January 12, 1951 in Ithaca New York. From a musical family, Larry learned to play keyboards, guitar, bass, melodica and trumpet. His mom took him on her nightclub gigs when he was 10!

After briefly trying Music Ed. at Ithaca College (1967-69), he left to pursue a career as a musical artist and never looked back. Between 1969 and 1971 his Ithaca band Boffalongo made 2 LPs for United Artists Records, including the original recording of “Dancin’ in the Moonlight”, later a hit by friends King Harvest. Soon after Boffalongo disbanded in late 1971, Larry got a call from singer/songwriter (then-future, now-former US Congressman, D-NY, 19) John Hall, inviting him to come to Woodstock, NY to join with the late Wells Kelly and himself to form Orleans, which he did in early 1972. Larry’s younger brother, Lance, joined the band in the fall of that year.

The band initially found its core audience touring the clubs and college circuit of the northeastern United States and it was not until their third album, Let There Be Music, released in March 1975, that the band scored its first Billboard Hot 100 hit with “Let There Be Music”followed by Orleans biggest hits “Still the One“, “Dance With Me” and “Love Takes Time“. It was Larry’s remarkable tenor that clearly defined the success of these hits.

In 1977 Larry joined Jerry Marotta in the backing band for Garland Jeffreys. He and Orleans continued to tour with the likes of Stephen Stills and Chicago. In the early 80s Larry and his brother Lance formed a side group, Mood Ring. After a stint in Nashville, Larry and Orleans returned to Woodstock, and slowly re-established their presence in the Northeast over the next couple of years.

During off times with the band Larry also performed and/or recorded with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Livingston Taylor, Lulu, Graham Parker, Blues Traveler, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Michael Franks, Levon Helm, the late great Michael Brecker, the late great Chet Atkins, the late great Artie Traum, John Sebastian, Bela Fleck, Felix Cavaliere, Edgar Winter, Robbie Dupree, Spencer Davis, Rick Derringer, Mark Farner, John  Ford Coley, Jimi Jamison, John Cafferty and many more.
 
Larry released 3 solo albums: “HandMade” and “Looking for the Light”, the latter being a flagship fundraising vehicle for his 501(c)3 nonprofit Sunshine for HIV Kids, and One of the Lucky Ones.
 
Larry continued to write, tour and record with Orleans until his death on July 24, 2012 from “a perfect storm of life’s pressures” as it states on the band’s website. They were scheduled to perform in a concert sponsored by morning TV’s “Fox & Friends” on Friday July 27th.
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Jon
Lord
7/2012

July 16, 2012 – John Douglas “Jon” Lord ( Deep Purple/Whitesnake)  was born in Leicester, England on June 9th 1941 and retained a strong bond with the city throughout his life. His father was an amateur saxophone musician and encouraged Lord from an early age. There was an old upright piano in the house and Jon showed an early interest in the instrument so his parents enrolled him for formal piano lessons when he was seven. At nine he found another teacher, Frederick All, who gave recitals for the BBC and played the church organ. “He was a marvelous teacher”, says Lord. “He could impart a love of music to his students as well as teaching them to play it. He taught me to enjoy music and to want to play well.” Those influences were a recurring trademark in Jon’s work.

He attended Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys between 1952 and 1958 and then worked as a clerk in a solicitor’s office for two years, but was fired for taking too much time off work.

Lord absorbed the blues sounds that played a key part in his rock career, principally the raw sounds of the great American blues organists Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and “Brother” Jack McDuff (“Rock Candy”), as well as the stage showmanship of Jerry Lee Lewis and performers like Buddy Holly, whom he saw perform at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester in March 1958.

Lord moved to London in 1959–60, intent on an acting career and enrolling at the Central School of Speech and Drama, in London’s Swiss Cottage. Following a celebrated student rebellion he became a founder of Drama Centre London, from where he graduated in 1964. From here on his life became a Who’s Who in the early London years of the British Invasion and beyond.

Small acting parts followed, and Lord continued playing the piano and the organ in nightclubs and as a session musician to earn a living. He started his band career in London in 1960 with the jazz ensemble The Bill Ashton Combo. Ashton became a key figure in jazz education in Britain, creating what later became the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Between 1960 and 1963, Lord and Ashton both moved on to Red Bludd’s Bluesicians (also known as The Don Wilson Quartet), the latter of which featured the singer Arthur “Art” Wood, brother of guitarist Ronnie Wood. Wood had previously sung with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and was a junior figure in the British blues movement.

In this period, Lord altered the spelling of his name from his birth name “John” to “Jon” and his session credits included playing the keyboards in “You Really Got Me”, The Kinks number one hit of 1964, however in a Guitar World interview Ray Davies of The Kinks stated it was actually Arthur Greenslade playing piano on that particular track.

Following the break-up of Redd Bludd’s Bluesicians in late 1963, Wood, Lord, and the drummer Red Dunnage put together a new band, The Art Wood Combo. This also included Derek Griffiths (guitar) and Malcolm Pool (bass guitar). Dunnage left in December 1964 to be replaced by Keef Hartley, who had previously replaced Ringo Starr in Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. This band, later known as “The Artwoods”, focused on the organ as the bluesy, rhythmic core of their sound, in common with the contemporary bands The Spencer Davis Group (Steve Winwood on organ) and The Animals (with Alan Price). They made appearances on the BBC’s Saturday Club radio show and on such TV programs as Ready Steady Go!. It also performed abroad, and it appeared on the first Ready Steady Goes Live, promoting its first single the Lead Belly song “Sweet Mary” — but significant commercial success eluded it. Its only charting single was “I Take What I Want”, which reached number 28 on 8 May 1966.

The jazz-blues organ style of black R&B organ players in the 1950s and 1960s, using the trademark blues-organ sound of the Hammond organ (B3 and C3 models) and combining it with the Leslie speaker system (the well-known Hammond-Leslie speaker combination), were seminal influences on Lord. Lord also stated later that he was heavily influenced by the organ-based progressive rock played by Vanilla Fudge after seeing that band perform in Great Britain in 1967, and earlier by the personal direction he received from British organ pioneer Graham Bond.

The Artwoods regrouped in 1967 as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre“. This was an attempt to cash in on the 1930s gangster craze set off by the American film Bonnie and Clyde. Hartley left the band in 1967 to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Lord next founded the “Santa Barbera Machine Head”, featuring Art’s brother, Ronnie Wood, writing and recording three powerful keyboard-driven instrumental tracks, giving a preview of the future style of Deep Purple. Soon thereafter, Lord went on to cover for the keyboard player Billy Day in “The Flower Pot Men”, where he met the bass guitarist Nick Simper along with drummer Carlo Little and guitarist Ged Peck. Lord and Simper then toured with this band in 1967 to promote its hit single “Let’s Go To San Francisco”, but the two men never recorded with this band.

In early 1967, through his roommate Chris Curtis of the Searchers, Lord met businessman Tony Edwards who was looking to invest in the music business alongside partners Ron Hire and John Coletta (HEC Enterprises). Session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was called in and he met Lord for the first time, but Chris Curtis’s erratic behaviour led the trio nowhere. Edwards was impressed enough by Jon Lord to ask him to form a band after Curtis faded out. Simper was contacted, and Blackmore was recalled from Hamburg. Although top British player Bobby Woodman was the first choice as drummer, during the auditions for a singer, Rod Evans of “The Maze” came in with his own drummer, Ian Paice. Blackmore, who had been impressed by Paice’s drumming when he met him in 1967, set up an audition for Paice as well. The band was called the “Roundabout” at first and began rehearsals at Deeves Hall in Hertfordshire. By March 1968, this became the “Mark 1” line-up of “Deep Purple”: Lord, Simper, Blackmore, Paice, and Evans. Lord also helped form the band “Boz” with some of its recordings being produced by Derek Lawrence. “Boz” included Boz Burrell (later of King Crimson and Bad Company), Blackmore (guitar), Paice (drums), Chas Hodges (bass).

Lord pushed the Hammond-Leslie sound through Marshall amplification, creating a growling, heavy, mechanical sound which allowed Lord to compete with Blackmore as a soloist, with an organ that sounded as prominent as the lead guitar. Said one reviewer, “many have tried to imitate [Lord’s] style, and all failed.” Said Lord himself, “There’s a way of playing a Hammond that’s different. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that you can play a Hammond with a piano technique. Well, you can, but it sounds like you are playing a Hammond with a piano technique. Really, you have to learn how to play an organ. It’s a legato technique; it’s a technique to achieve legato on a non-legato instrument.”

In early Deep Purple recordings, Lord had appeared to be the leader of the band. Despite the cover songs “Hush” and “Kentucky Woman” becoming hits in North America, Deep Purple never made chart success in the UK until the Concerto for Group and Orchestra album (1970). Lord’s willingness later to play many of the key rhythm parts gave Blackmore the freedom to let loose both live and on record.

On Deep Purple’s second and third albums, Lord began indulging his ambition to fuse rock with classical music. An early example of this is the song “Anthem” from the album The Book of Taliesyn (1968), but a more prominent example is the song “April” from the band’s self-titled third album (1969). The song is recorded in three parts: 1. Lord and Blackmore only, on keyboards and acoustic guitar, respectively; 2. an orchestral arrangement complete with strings; and 3. the full rock band with vocals. Lord’s ambition enhanced his reputation among fellow musicians, but caused tension within the group.

Simper later said, “The reason the music lacked direction was Jon Lord fucked everything up with his classical ideas.” Blackmore agreed to go along with Lord’s experimentation, provided he was given his head on the next band album.

The resulting Concerto For Group and Orchestra (in 1969) was one of rock’s earliest attempts to fuse two distinct musical idioms. Performed live at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969 (with new band members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, Evans and Simper having been fired), it was recorded by the BBC and later released as an album. The Concerto gave Deep Purple its first highly publicised taste of mainstream fame and gave Lord the confidence to believe that his experiment and his compositional skill had a future

Purple began work on Deep Purple in Rock, released by their new label Harvest in 1970 and now recognised as one of hard rock’s key early works. Lord and Blackmore competed to out-dazzle each other, often in classical-style, midsection ‘call and answer’ improvisation (on tracks like “Speed King”), something they employed to great effect live. Ian Gillan said that Lord provided the idea on the main organ riff for “Child in Time” although the riff was also based on It’s a Beautiful Day’s 1969 psychedelic hit song “Bombay Calling”. Lord’s experimental solo on “Hard Lovin’ Man” (complete with police-siren interpolation) from this album was his personal favourite among his Deep Purple studio performances.

Deep Purple released another six studio albums between 1971 (Fireball) and 1975 (Come Taste the Band). Gillan and Glover left in 1973 and Blackmore in 1975, and the band disintegrated in 1976. The highlights of Lord’s Purple work in the period include the 1972 album Machine Head (featuring his rhythmic underpinnings on “Smoke on the Water” and “Space Truckin'”, plus the organ solos on “Highway Star”, “Pictures of Home” and “Lazy”), the sonic bombast of the Made in Japan live album (1972), an extended, effect-laden solo on “Rat Bat Blue” from the Who Do We Think We Are album (1973), and his overall playing on the Burn album from 1974.

Roger Glover would later describe Lord as a true “Zen-archer soloist”, someone whose best keyboard improvisation often came at the first attempt. Lord’s strict reliance on the Hammond C3 organ sound, as opposed to the synthesizer experimentation of his contemporaries, places him firmly in the jazz-blues category as a band musician and far from the progressive-rock sound of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Lord rarely ventured into the synthesizer territory on Purple albums, often limiting his experimentation to the use of the ring modulator with the Hammond, to give live performances on tracks like Space Truckin’ a distinctive ‘spacy’ sound. Instances of his Deep Purple synthesizer use (he became an endorser of the ARP Oyssey) include “‘A’ 200”, the final track from Burn, and “Love Child” on the Come Taste the Band album.

In early 1973 Lord stated: “We’re as valid as anything by Beethoven.”

Lord continued to focus on his classical aspirations alongside his Deep Purple career. The BBC, buoyed by the success of the Concerto, commissioned him to write another piece and the resulting “Gemini Suite” was performed by Deep Purple and the Light Music Society under Malcolm Arnold at the Royal Festival Hall in September 1970, and then in Munich with the Kammerorchester conducted by Eberhard Schoener in January 1972. It then became the basis for Lord’s first solo album, Gemini Suite, released in November 1972, with vocals by Yvonne Elliman and Tony Ashton and with the London Symphony Orchestra backing a band that included Albert Lee on guitar.(Ritchie Blackmore had played the guitar at the first live performance of the Gemini Suite in September 1970, but declined the invitation to appear on the studio version, which led to the involvement of Lee. Other performers were Yvonne Elliman, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Tony Ashton).

In March 1974, Lord and Paice had collaborated with friend Tony Ashton on First of the Big Bands, credited to ‘Ashton & Lord’ and featuring a rich array of session talent, including Carmine Appice, Ian Paice, Peter Frampton and Pink Floyd saxophonist/sessioner, Dick Parry. They performed much of the set live at the London Palladium in September 1974.

This formed the basis of Lord’s first post-Deep Purple project Paice Ashton Lord, which lasted only a year and spawned a single album, Malice in Wonderland in 1977, recorded at Musicland Studios Musicland Studios at the Arabella Hotel in Munich. He created an informal group of friends and collaborators including Ashton, Paice, Bernie Marsden, Boz Burrell and later, Bad Company’s Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and others. Over the same period, Lord guested on albums by Maggie Bell, Nazareth and even folk artist Richard Digance. Eager to pay off a huge tax bill upon his return the UK in the late-1970s (Purple’s excesses included their own tour jet and a home Lord rented in Malibu from actress Ann-Margret and where he wrote the Sarabande album), Lord joined former Deep Purple band member David Coverdale’s new band, Whitesnake in August 1978 (Lord’s job in Whitesnake was largely limited to adding color or, in his own words, a ‘halo’ to round out a blues-rock sound that already accommodated two lead guitarists, Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody.

A number of singles such as “Here I Go Again”, “Wine, Women and Song”, “She’s a Woman” and “Till the Day I Die” entered the UK chart, taking the now 40-something Lord onto Top of the Pops with regularity between 1980 and 1983. He later expressed frustration that he was a poorly paid hired-hand, but fans saw little of this discord and Whitesnake’s commercial success kept him at the forefront of readers’ polls as heavy rock’s foremost keyboard maestro. His dissatisfaction (and Coverdale’s eagerness to revamp the band’s line-up and lower the average age to help crack the US market) smoothed the way for the reformation of Deep Purple Mk II in 1984.

During his tenure in Whitesnake, Lord had the opportunity to record two distinctly different solo albums and was later commissioned by producer Patrick Gamble for Central Television to write the soundtrack for their 1984 TV series, Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, based on the book by Edith Holden, with an orchestra conducted by Alfred Ralston and with a distinctly gentle, pastoral series of themes composed by Lord. Lord became firmly established as a member of UK rock’s “Oxfordshire mansion aristocracy” – with a home, Burntwood Hall, set in 23.5 acres at Goring-on-Thames, complete with its own cricket pitch and a hand-painted Challen baby grand piano, previously owned by Shirley Bassey. He was asked to guest on albums by friends George Harrison (Gone Troppo from 1982) and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour (1984’s About Face), Cozy Powell (Octopus in 1983) and to play on an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, Wind in the Willows. He composed and produced the score for White Fire (1984), which consisted largely of two songs performed by Limelight. In 1985 he made a brief appearance as a member of The Singing Rebel’s band (which also featured Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) in the Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais-scripted film Water (1985) (Handmade Films).

In the 1980s he was also a member of an all-star band called Olympic Rock & Blues Circus fronted by Pete York and featuring a rotating line-up of the likes of Miller Anderson, Tony Ashton, Brian Auger, Zoot Money, Colin Hodgkinson, Chris Farlowe and many others. Olympic Rock & Blues Circus toured primarily in Germany between 1981 and 1989. Some musicians, including Lord, took part in York’s TV musical extravaganza Superdrumming between 1987 and 1989.

Lord’s re-emergence with Deep Purple in 1984 resulted in huge audiences for the reformed Mk II line-up, including 1985s second largest grossing tour in the US and an appearance in front of 80,000 rain-soaked fans headlining Knebworth on 22 June 1985, all to support the Perfect Strangers album. Playing with a rejuvenated Mk. II Purple line-up (including spells at a health farm to get the band including Lord into shape) and being onstage and in the studio with Blackmore, gave Lord the chance to push himself once again. His ‘rubato’ classical opening sequence to the album’s opener, “Knocking at Your Back Door” (complete with F-Minor to G polychordal harmony sequence), gave Lord the chance to do his most powerful work for years, including the song “Perfect Strangers”. Further Deep Purple albums followed, often of varying quality, and by the late-1990s, Lord was clearly keen to explore new avenues for his musical career.

In 1997, he created perhaps his most personal work to date, Pictured Within, released in 1998 with a European tour to support it. Lord’s mother Miriam had died in August 1995 and the album is a deeply affecting piece, inflected at all stages by Lord’s sense of grief. Recorded largely in Lord’s home-away-from-home, the city of Cologne, the album’s themes are Elgarian and alpine in equal measure. Lord signed to Virgin Classics to release it, and perhaps saw it as the first stage in his eventual departure from Purple to embark on a low-key and altogether more gentle solo career. One song from Pictured Within, entitled “Wait A While” was later covered by Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø on her 2003/2004 album My Heart. Lord finally retired from Deep Purple amicably in 2002, preceded by a knee injury that eventually resolved itself without surgery. He said subsequently, “Leaving Deep Purple was just as traumatic as I had always suspected it would be and more so – if you see what I mean”. He even dedicated a song to it on 2004’s solo effort, Beyond the Notes, called “De Profundis”. The album was recorded in Bonn with producer Mario Argandoña between June and July 2004.

Lord slowly built a small, but distinct position and fan base for himself in Europe. He collaborated with former ABBA superstar and family friend, Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad,) on the 2004 track, “The Sun Will Shine Again” (with lyrics by Sam Brown) and performed with her across Europe. He subsequently also performed European concerts to première the 2007-scheduled Boom of the Tingling Strings orchestral piece.

In 2003 he also returned to his beloved R-n-B/blues heritage to record an album of standards in Sydney, with Australia’s Jimmy Barnes, entitled Live in the Basement, by Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men, showing himself to be one of British rock music’s most eclectic and talented instrumentalists. Lord was also happy to support the Sam Buxton Sunflower Jam Healing Trust and in September 2006, performed at a star-studded event to support the charity led by Ian Paice’s wife, Jacky (twin sister of Lord’s wife Vicky). Featured artists on stage with Lord included Paul Weller, Robert Plant, Phil Manzanera, Ian Paice and Bernie Marsden.

In July 2011, Lord performed his final live concert appearance, the Sunflower Jam at the Royal Albert Hall, where he premiered his joint composition with Rick Wakeman. At that point, they had begun informal discussion on recording an album together. Up until 2011, Lord had also been working on material with the recently formed rock supergroup WhoCares, also featuring singer Ian Gillan from Deep Purple, guitarist Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, second guitarist Mikko Lindström from HIM, bassist Jason Newsted formerly from Metallica and drummer Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden, specifically the composition “Out of My Mind,” in addition to new compositions with Steve Balsamo and a Hammond Organ Concerto. Lord subsequently cancelled a performance of his Durham Concerto in Hagen, Germany, for what his website said was a continuation of his medical treatment (the concert, scheduled for 6 July 2012, would have been his return to live performance after treatment).

Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra was effectively recommissioned by him, recorded in Liverpool and at Abbey Road Studios across 2011 and under post-production in 2012 with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra performing, conducted by long-time collaborator, conductor Paul Mann. The recording was at completion at the time of Lord’s death, with Lord having been able to review the final master recordings. The album and DVD were subsequently released in 2012.

In July 2011, Lord was found to be suffering from pancreatic cancer. After treatment in both England and in Israel, he died on 16 July 2012 at the London Clinic after suffering from a pulmonary embolism. He was 71.

• On 11 November 2010, he was inducted as an Honorary Fellow of Stevenson College in Edinburgh, Scotland. On 15 July 2011, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree at De Montfort Hall by the University of Leicester. Lord was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 8 April 2016 as a member of Deep Purple.

• Lars Ulrich, founding member and drummer in Metallica commented, “Ever since my father took me to see them in 1973 in Copenhagen, at the impressionable age of 9, Deep Purple has been the most constant, continuous and inspiring musical presence in my life. They have meant more to me than any other band in existence, and have had an enormous part in shaping who I am. We can all be guilty of lightly throwing adjectives like ‘unique,’ ‘one-of-a-kind’ and ‘pioneering’ around when we want to describe our heroes and the people who’ve moved us, but there are no more fitting words than those right now and there simply was no musician like Jon Lord in the history of hard rock. Nobody. Period. There was nobody that played like him. There was nobody that sounded like him. There was nobody that wrote like him. There was nobody that looked like him. There was nobody more articulate, gentlemanly, warm, or fucking cooler that ever played keyboards or got anywhere near a keyboard. What he did was all his own.”

• Former keyboard player of rock band Yes, Rick Wakeman, who was a friend of Lord’s, said he was “a great fan” and added “We were going to write and record an album before he became ill. His contribution to music and to classic rock was immeasurable and I will miss him terribly.” In mid-2013, Wakeman presented a BBC One East Midlands-produced TV program about Lord and his connection to the town of his birth.

• Singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad (ABBA), who described Jon Lord as her “dearest friend”, paid him tribute at the 2013 edition of Zermatt Unplugged, the annual music festival which both he and she served as patrons. “He was graceful, intelligent, polite, with a strong integrity,” she said. “He had a strong empathy and a great deal of humor for his own and other people’s weaknesses.”

• Keyboardist Keith Emerson said of Lord’s death, “Jon left us now but his music and inspiration will live forever. I am deeply saddened by his departure.” In a later interview in November 2013, he added, “In the early years I remember being quite jealous of Jon Lord – may he rest in peace. In September 1969 I heard he was debuting his “Concerto For Group & Orchestra” at the Royal Albert Hall, with none other than Malcolm Arnold conducting. Wow! I had to go along and see that. Jon and I ribbed each other, we were pretty much pals, but I walked away and thought: ‘Shit, in a couple of weeks’ time I’m going to be recording The Nice’s Five Bridges Suite … not at the Albert Hall but at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon!’ A much more prosaic venue. Later, Jon wanted me to play on his solo album, Gemini Suite, but that was around the time ELP were breaking big and we were touring. He was a lovely guy, a real gentleman.”

• A concert tribute to Lord took place on 4 April 2014 at the Royal Albert Hall. Performers and presenters included Deep Purple, Bruce Dickinson, Alfie Boe, Jeremy Irons, Joe Brown, Glenn Hughes, Miller Anderson and Steve Balsamo.

• In December 2012 the Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, joined the campaign to honor Lord with a blue plaque at his childhood home at 120 Averill Road, where he lived until he was twenty, saying it would be “an important reminder of the city’s contribution to the world of contemporary music.”

• Lord was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple in April 2016

 

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Bob Babbitt 7/2012

July 16, 2012 – Bob Babbitt (Funk Brothers) was born Robert Kreinar on November 26, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in the Mt. Washington and Beltzhoover neighborhoods and graduated from South Hills High School. His parents had immigrated to America from Hungary and his dad found work as bricklayer. Bob earliest music influences were his parent’s gypsy music and classical music. Both of his parents sang in gypsy bands and their gypsy music was constantly heard on the family radio and record player.

Bob learned the upright bass in elementary school and played in his elementary school orchestra. He took private classical bass lessons for two years from a female bass player who was the main bass player at the Pennsylvania College for Woman. Bob then studied for three years with the principle bassist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Anthony Bianco. During his three high school years from 1953 to 1955 Bob played classical upright bass in the Pittsburgh Symphony Jr. which featured the top Pittsburgh area high school musicians. Bob sites his early influences as Pittsburgh bassist Ray Brown and Charles Mingus.

Bob was frequently asked to sit in with Hungarian gypsy groups at Hungarians clubs that he went to with his family. His first paying job as musician was with a gypsy band.

As a teen Bob turned to rhythm-and-blues playing influenced by Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk” and Red Prysock’s “Hand Clappin'”. He spent a lot of time playing along to listening to R&B songs played on Pittsburgh radio by Porky Chedwick and Mary Dee and others. At age 15 Bob began performing in Pittsburgh area nightclubs. He began by sitting in with a group led by a black sax player in a club and began working weekends with them. He switched from upright bass to a louder and easier to transport electric bass guitar at age 17. He bought a ’60 Jazz Bass and used the 1-2-4 classical fingering system until he learned to use his 3rd finger.

Bob’s father died when he was a high school senior. His family moved from Mount Washington to the Glen Hazel projects. The University of Pittsburgh offered him a music scholarship but he turned it down. Instead he took a job to help support his mother. But it was hard to find a good paying job without a skill and he did not want to work in the steel mills. His uncle in Michigan urged him to move, saying he could earn much more money in Detroit. Bob hopped a Greyhound bus to Motown in late 1957 or early 1958.

Detroit had a lively club scene, a growing recording business, and an up and coming new R&B sound. Bob worked construction during the day and played the clubs at night. In Detroit Bob picked up the nick name Bobo that morphed into Babo, Bobbitt, and finally into “Babbitt”. People he met for the first time thought it was his real name. With all of his musicians friends calling him “Babbittt”, he took it as his stage name.

He heard a band called the Royaltones rehearsing in a Detroit club one day and introduced himself. He brought in his upright bass to play with them. They hired Bob to record with them on 24 songs released between 1961 and 1964. Led by the saxophone of George Katsakis the Royaltones played instrumental rock n roll. Eight of the Royaltones’ songs hit the Billboard charts including their 1961 top ten hit “Flamingo Express.” Bob became a member of the Royaltones in 1962. Singer Del Shannon hired the Royaltones as his band and toured and recorded with them through 1964. Bob played on Del Shannon’s 1962 hit “Little Town Flirt.” After the Royaltones broke up in 1964 Babbitt became a studio musician.

As his reputation in Detroit grew Babbitt found steady work in 1966 as a session bass player at Golden World Studio, United Sound, Terashirma, and every other consequential studio in the Detroit area except Motown. He worked seven to eight recording sessions every week. During this time he recorded the signature bass line on the Capitols hit single “Cool Jerk”. He also played on the classic R&B tunes “I Just Wanna Testify” by the Parliaments and “Love Makes the World Go Round” by Dion Jackson. Babbitt played on his first Motown recording in 1967. After touring with Steve Wonder, Wonder brought Babbitt to Motown to record with him on ‘We Can Work It Out’ and the classic ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ .

At Golden World Studio Bobbit worked with several of Motown’s moonlighting session players including keyboardists Joe Hunter and Johnny Griffith, guitarist Eddie Willis, drummer Benny Benjamin, and Rock Hall of Fame bassist James Jamerson († August 2, 1983)). As Motown’s popularity grew more musicians were needed to work recording sessions. When bassist James Jamerson became unreliable due to alcoholism Babbitt was brought in as a replacement. As he proved himself, Babbitt was accepted into the inner circle of the Funk Brothers. Babbitt worked steadily at Motown from 1967 through 1972 and was under contract to Motown from 1970 to1972.

The contract prevented him from becoming a member of Jeff Beck’s band. Prevented from working for other studios and bands Babbitt tried to supplement his income working as a professional wrestler for six months. In 1972 Babbitt recorded with Marvin Gaye on one of Motown’s biggest selling records the classic “What’s Goin’ On.” In interviews Babbitt said they the arranger Dave Van dePitte let him write his own base lines on the songs “‘Mercy Mercy Me’ and ‘Inner City Blues’.

Motown’s Detroit Hitsville Studio closed in 1972 when Barry Gordon moved Motown to Los Angeles. The Funk Brothers learned they were out of work when they read a note on the locked doors of the studio. In 1973 Babbit went in the opposite direction and ended up in New York where he began working with producer Arif Mardin. In this new city he worked on recordings for Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, Gloria Gaynor, Robert Palmer, and Alice Cooper. Babbitt and former Motown drummer Andrew Smith became one of the hottest rhythm sections in New York. They were sought out to record with Stephanie Mills, Jim Croce, and Bonnie Raitt to Engelbert Humperdink and Frank Sinatra.

Philadelphia International Records also sought the services of Bobbitt and Andrew Smith. Working with producer Thorn Bell they recorded the Spinners classics “Then Came You,” “Games People Play,” and “Rubber Band Man.” By the late 1970’s Bob Babbitt was working constantly with many artists in many different styles. He recorded 3 complete albums in three weeks working with the Spinners in L.A., Alice Cooper in Toronto and Frank Sinatra in New York. Babbitt became a jazz player in the early ’80s touring and recording with flutist Herbie Mann and fellow Pittsburgher saxophonist Stanley Turrentine.

When studio work in New York slowed down Bob moved in June of 1986 to the next hot recording center Nashville. Music City became his home for the next 26 years. During this period Babbitt worked recording sessions with Shania Twain, Carlene Carter, Tracy Nelson, Vanessa Williams, Elton John, Robert Palmer, Lee Atwater, Jimmy McGriff, Bobby Rydell and others. In between recording dates he toured with Brenda Lee, Robert Palmer, Joan Baez and others.

Bob and the Funk Brother came to national attention in 2002 with the release of the film “Standing In The Shadows”. The film showed that the Funk Brothers and Bob Babbitt were the heart and soul of the Motown sound. The film was based on Allan Slutsky’s Funk Brothers book. The film highlighted that the Funk Brothers “played on more number-one hits than The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys Combined”.

The brothers toured the country with special guest Joan Osborne on lead vocals. They performed at the 2004 Grammy Awards where they received the Lifetime Achievement Award. With recognition of the contributions of the Funk Brothers Bob received more offers for recording sessions and gigs. Phil Collins flew him to London to record the “Going Back” album in 2010.

Babbitt was honored in Pittsburgh on July 23, 2008 where he received a Lifetime Achievement award from Duquense University. The City of Pittsburgh declared July 23 Bob Babbitt Day and the mayor presented Bob with the official proclamation. To celebrate the occasion he performed in concert with B.E. Taylor, Jeff Jimerson, Hermie Granati, guitarist Jimmy Bruno and other Pittsburgh musicians. Babbitt was honored again on October 31, 2009 when he performed in concert at the August Wilson Center’s “A Pittsburgh Tribute to Motown Records’ 50th Anniversary.” With his classical and gypsy music roots that he learned in Pittsburgh along with his great talent and creativity, he made music history.

In early 2011 Babbitt was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He passed away in Nashville at age 74 on July 16, 2012.
One of the most versatile and most recorded bassists in music history

Bob Babbitt was one of the greatest and most recorded bass players in the history of popular music. Over 100 million copies of records that feature Bob’s bass have been sold. He performed on over 200 top 40 hits earning 25 gold records and several platinum awards. Babbitt laid down a melodic rhythmic groove that gave soul to hundreds of all time classic pop records. Bob was a versatile bassist whose work ranged from R&B, rock, jazz, pop, country, and folk. In the R&B genre Babbitt recorded and performed with The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Lou Rawls, Gladys Knight, Diane Ross, Ashford & Simpson, The Spinners, Phyllis Hyman, Mary Wells, the O’Jays, Sister Sledge, and Major Harris. He rocked with Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Robert Palmer, Alice Cooper, Peter Frampton, Joe Cocker, Nils Lofgren, Steven Bishop, the Euclid Beach Band, and Yoko Ono. In Jazz and blues Babbitt worked with Dextor Gordon, Herbie Mann, Stanley Turrentine, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Taj Mahal, John Mayall, and Bonnie Raitt. Bob performed on the country and folk recordings of Shania Twain, Carlene Carter, Louise Mandrell,Tracy Nelson, Joan Baez, and Tom Rush. Babbitt was at the top of the pops working with Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warrick , Engelbert Humperdinc, Laura Nyro, Brenda Lee, Frankie Vallie, Del Shannon, Jim Croce, and Barry Manilow.

In Detroit during the 1960s Bob Babbitt played on dozens of hits recorded in the Motown and Golden World Studios as a member of the legendary Funk Brothers studio band. His signature sound is heard on the Capitols’ “Cool Jerk,” Smokey Robinson’s “The Tears of a Clown” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours”, Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train To Georgia”, Diana Ross’ “Touch Me In The Morning”, and War” by Edwin Starr. Babbitt is featured on Motown biggest selling album Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” album. As part of the Philadelphia soul scene in the 1970s Babbitt played on the Spinners hits “Then Came You” and “Rubberband Man”. Working in New York he was heard on Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye”. Robert Palmer’s “Every Kind Of People”, and Barry Manilow’s “Ready To Take A Chance”.

Bob Babbitt was well known for decades among musicians but was little known to popular music fans. The Funk Brothers were often un-credited on Motown recordings. The Funk Brothers were bassist James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt, guitarists Robert White and Joe Messina, keyboardists Joe Hunter and Earl Van Dyke, and drummers Benny Benjamin, Richard Allen and Uriel Jones. Bob Babbitt and his fellow Funk Brothers gained national recognition for their outstanding contribution in the Grammy winning film about the Funk Brothers, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”. Bob Babbitt toured with the surviving members of Funk Brothers and Joanne Osborne.

Among Bass players Bob’ 90 second solo on the Denis Coffey single “Scopio” is a standard. It is a difficult solo that bassists strive to learn to prove their mastery of the bass.

Bob Babbitt and the Funk Brothers were inducted into the Nashville-based Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007. The Music City Walk of Fame honored Bob Babbitt with a star in June of 2012. He is the only session instrumentalist to be honored by the Walk of Fame. Bob Babbitt as a member of the Funk Brothers was was given a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2004.

“Bob was a teddy bear of a guy and he was an extraordinary musician — a player’s player.” – former Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum

“It’s probably safe to say that every minute of every day, 365 days a year, Bob Babbitt’s bass is pumping out of some radio station somewhere.” Rick Suchow – Bass Guitar Magazine (Jan, 2010)

“Bob Babbitt changed the world with four strings and a groove,” -bass player Dave Pomeroy, president of the Nashville Musicians Association, inducting Babbitt into the Walk of Fame

With 25 Gold and Platinum records under his belt he is famous for his work as a member of Motown Records’ studio band, the Funk Brothers, from 1967-72, as well as his tenure as part of MFSB for Philadelphia International Records afterwards.

Also in 1968-1970, with Mike Campbell, Ray Monette and Andrew Smith he formed the band Scorpion. His most notable bass performances include “War”, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, “The Tears of a Clown”, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”, “Inner City Blues””Band Of Gold” (by Freda Payne), “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)”, “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”  

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Dennis
St.John
6/2012

dennis-st-johnJune 5, 2012 – Dennis St. John (Neil Diamond’s drummer and musical director) was born on November 9, 1941 in Beatrice, Nebraska, to Jeanne and Colonel Ralph St. John.

In 1947 my mother and I were amongst the first American military dependant families to live in Germany. The German prisoners of war at my father’s depot had a great Dixieland band. Every Friday I got to sit and listen to this band in the warehouse, before they had to report back to the stockade. It was my first experience with live music and has stayed with me ever since. When we returned from Germany in 1950, we moved to Chicago, and that’s where I heard my first Fender electric bass, which helped nudge me closer to music. After a couple more moves, and high-school bands in Olympia, Washington and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I graduated in 1959. I immediately put on my Princeton t-shirt, and took my fake ID to the world famous Somers Point, New Jersey traffic circle, home of Bayshores, Tony Mart’s, and Steele’s Bar. I’d spend day after day, night after night listening to the legendary Jimmy Cavallo & the House Rockers. That’s when I decided I’d like to be a drummer.

He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

A gifted percussionist, he began his career in music after forming a band in college (St.John and the Cardinals) part of which became the root for the Atlanta Rhythm Section. After college he relocated to Los Angeles, where he went on to play on over fifty gold and platinum albums with top artists of the sixties and seventies.

His name may not be instantly recognizable, but during the height of his career in the sixties and seventies, Dennis toured and recorded with several top artists, drumming on sixteen top-10 records and over fifty Gold and Platinum albums. If you’ve ever heard the Bellamy Brothers’ “Let Your Love Flow” or “Spooky” or “Spiders & Snakes” or Linda Ronstadt’s “Desperado” or Neil Diamond’s “Forever In Blue Jeans” or “America”, then you’ve heard just a small sampling of the hundreds of recordings featuring his playing.

Dennis crossed paths with an impressive number of artists such as James Brown, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, Roy Orbison, Ronnie Milsap, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace, Little Richard, Rufus Thomas, Tommy Roe, The Standells, Otis Redding, and Paul Revere and the Raiders. But he’s best known as Neil Diamond’s drummer and musical director from 1971-81. Several herniated discs forced him to quit active touring in the early 1980s and he formed a talent development company, guiding many future performers to stardom in the years after.

He described the most memorable event of his career as the 10 days of recording Hot August Night in 1972 (at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles) saying “it was by far the most energetic, creative, and satisfying gig I’ve ever played.”

This link to a Classic Drummer Interview with Dennis gives a great insight into Rock and Roll in the early days.

Dennis died from complications of esophageal cancer on June 5, 2012 at the age of 70.

Taking to Twitter to pay his respects, Neil Diamond wrote, “Lost my old friend Dennis St. John. His drumming graces my recordings from Hot August Night to The Jazz Singer – I’ll miss him big time.”

Entry on his obituary: “I knew Dennis. He used to come to the bar I worked at for many years when he came to visit his mother. My husband always referred to him as the guy with the pony tail. He was a true gentleman and always took time to talk to me even though I was just a bartender there. I often introduced him to people, but they always seemed to fail to understand what impact he had in the music business. I have not worked for around 4 years and was so sad to hear that he had lost his battle with cancer. He always took such good care of his mother and felt bad if he didn’t feel she was being taken care of correctly. Everyone was so happy to see him when he visited. There just aren’t enough words to do this man justice.”

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Bob
Welch
6/2012

bob-welchJune 7, 2012 – Bob Welch (Fleetwood Mac) was born on July 31, 1945 in Los Angeles, California, into a show business family. His father was the successful Hollywood movie producer Robert Welch, best known for his work with Bob Hope. Neighbors were Yul Brunner and Jonathan Winters. As a youngster, he learned clarinet, switching to guitar in his early teens and developed an interest in jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music.

After graduation from high school, the younger Welch moved to Paris for a while, but returned to Los Angeles shortly after. After dropping out of university he joined the Los Angeles-based interracial vocal group The Seven Souls as a guitarist in 1964. When the band broke up in 1969 Bob moved to Paris and started a trio and became friends with future CBS correspondent Ed Bradley.

In 1971 while living there, he received a phone call from Mick Fleetwood asking him to come to London. Fleetwood met him at the airport, Welch told the Nashville Tennessean in 2003. “He was driving a yellow VW. He was 6-6 and weighed about 120 pounds. He was a strange-looking human being.”Welch was invited to join Fleetwood Mac, and along with fellow newcomer Christine McVie, Bob helped to steer the band away from Peter Greene/Jeremy Spencer’s blues roots into a more melodic direction.

During the time he spend with Fleetwood Mac they released their album Future Games in 1971, Bare Trees in 1972, this album included Welch’s song Sentimental Lady, Mystery To Me in 1973 (included Bob’s son Hypnotized), also that year the band released Penguin and Bob’s final album with Fleetwood Mac Heroes are Hard To Find in 1974.

Things became problematic between Bob and other guitarist Danny Kirwan, due to the latter’s alcohol abuse. Kirwan left the band in August 1974 after he refused to go on stage at a concert after an argument with Welch and Mick Fleetwood fired him. Welch then left the band in December 1974, after a brief affair with Christine McVie, much to the dislike of bass player John McVie and was replaced  by Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham.

Welch left the band amid the chaos of the McVie divorce, just prior to mainstream success with the 1975 album “Fleetwood Mac” and then “Rumors,” Fleetwood Mac’s acclaimed 1977 superhit album.

The following year he created Paris, the Hard Rock band with Todd Rundgren, Thom Mooney, Hunt Sales and bassist Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull). Paris released their first album “Paris” and “Big Towne, 2061” in 1976, the band split up the following year, after which Welch then embarked on his solo career.

He scored a massive hit with “Ebony Eyes” in 1977. The album from which it was culled, “French Kiss,” featured a number of former Fleetwood Mac members, as well as a rendition of “Sentimental Lady,” a song originally recorded with Mac but reworked by Welch.

French Kiss his first solo album was released in September 1977, Three Hearts in 1979, The Other One that same year followed by Man Overboard in 1980 and Bob Welch in 1981. The albums contained several singles successes including “Hot Love, Cold World”, “Ebony Eyes”,  and “Precious Love”. His next album Eye Contact was released in 1983 the same year he became addicted to heroin.

Bob then met his wife Wendy Armistead Welch at Johnny Depp’s club the Viper Room, when it still was called Central. They got married in 1985, moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1990, and had no children.
Wendy Welch was given credit by her husband, in his own words he said:

The time frame between 1984-1998 was a story for me of pulling out of major depression, drug addiction and extreme negativity, which I was able to do, thanks to a. the LA Sheriff’s Dept (busted), b. Cedars Sinai hospital (in a coma 2 weeks), and, especially, c. a lovely lady named Wendy Armistead, who helped me stop beating my head against a brick wall ! During this time Wendy helped me to get back into reading music again, to want to do a band again, (the Touch, Ave. M), and to regain my musical and personal identity, which had gotten pretty trashed.

In 1999,  after three years  clean of drugs he released Bob Welch Looks At Bop. Between 2003 and 2004 he released His Fleetwood Mac Years & Beyond I and II, and Live at Roxy in 2004.

After having spinal surgery and been told he would not get better, Bob pulled the trigger on himself in his Nashville home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest on June 7, 2012. He was 66.

Wendy found her husband with wound shot to the chest at their home around noon. Media later quoted Wendy talking about the spinal surgery Bob had, the doctor telling him he would not get better and adding that he did not want her to have to take care of an invalid. He left a suicide note, but its content were not  revealed.

Fleetwood Mac and its former and some current members were inducted in  the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, however Bob was not.

“My era was the bridge era,” Welch told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1998, after he was excluded from the Fleetwood Mac line-up inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “It was a transition. But it was an important period in the history of the band. Mick Fleetwood dedicated a whole chapter of his biography to my era of the band and credited me with ‘saving Fleetwood Mac.’ Now they want to write me out of the history of the group.”

• Mick Fleetwood, who hired Welch in 1971 after the departure of Peter Green, said Welch was a key part of the band’s evolution. “He was a huge part of our history which sometimes gets forgotten. Mostly his legacy would be his songwriting abilities that he brought to Fleetwood Mac, which will survive all of us,” said Fleetwood. “If you look into our musical history, you’ll see a huge period that was completely ensconced in Bob’s work.”

 although Stevie Nicks and Welch weren’t in Fleetwood Mac at the same time, she released a statement expressing her admiration and regrets: “The death of Bob Welch is devastating …. I had many great times with him after Lindsey and I joined Fleetwood Mac. He was an amazing guitar player — he was funny, sweet — and he was smart — I am so very sorry for his family and for the family of Fleetwood Mac — so, so sad …”

• David Adelstein, who served as Welch’s keyboard player from 1977 through 1982 said: “For me, they were very exciting times back then. We were the opening act for Dave Mason back around February 12, 1978, our first show at Rocklyn College, NY. A short time later, Bob was leading us up the stairs to what was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen, Cal-Jam II. We opened the show with a 10:00 AM call! That was a rush — 250,000 people in the crowd at the old Ontario Motor Speedway. During that tour, Bob opened shows for not only Dave Mason, but for Jefferson Starship, Heart, Beach Boys, Styx, Allman Bros. and of course [Fleetwood] Mac (a great billing — the best of both worlds)”When it came to the follow up album, Bob and his producer, John Carter, gave me my first opportunity to play on that album. When it came around to the third album, Bob gave myself and guitarist Todd Sharp the opportunity to include an original song on the album. This launched my songwriting career. All in all, I have awesome memories from my time playing with Welch, sharing dinners at some wonderful restaurants (he appreciated great food), along with his love of music and that included all kinds of music! The circle of friends here in the LA area … are already missing him much.”

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Robin
Gibb
5/2012

robin-gibbMay 20, 2012 – Robin Hugh Gibb (BeeGees) was born on 22 December 1949 in Douglas, Isle of Man, to Hugh and Barbara Gibb. He was the fraternal twin of Maurice Gibb and was the older of the two by 35 minutes. Apart from Maurice, he had one sister, Lesley Evans, and two brothers, Barry and Andy. They lived in utter poverty.

In 1953, the Gibbs watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the television. Their neighbour in Willaston, Isle of Man, Marie Beck who was the friend of his mother and her sister Peggy. Another neighbour, Helen Kenney was living in Douglas Head as Kenney recalls “Barry and the twins used to come into Mrs. Beck’s house and we would mind them, Robin once said to me, ‘We’re going to be rich one day, we’re going to form a band!’ “Little did I realise he meant it”.

His family moved to Manchester where at aged 8, Robin started out performing alongside his brothers as a child act encouraged by their father Hugh, a drummer and band leader. The Gibb brothers formed The Rattlesnakes which consisted of Barry on guitar and vocals, Robin and Maurice on vocals, Paul Frost on drums and Kenny Horrocks on tea-chest bass, and the quintet performed in local theatres in Manchester, their influences at that time such as The Everly Brothers, Cliff Richard and Paul Anka. In May 1958, the Rattlesnakes were disbanded as Frost and Horrocks left, and the name changed to Wee Johnny Hayes and the Blue Cats. In August 1958, the family traveled to Australia on the same ship as Australian musician Red Symons; it is rumored that the brothers began committing petty crimes such as arson, which may have been the reason the family moved to Australia.

While schoolboys in Manchester, Barry, the oldest Gibb brother, and his younger twins Maurice and Robin perfected the art of singing in close harmony. They first performed, aged nine and six, in the toilets of John Lewis, because that was where the best acoustics in town could be found. That shared bond as performers helped them escape from their handto-mouth existence; the family moved house every few weeks at one stage in order to stay ahead of the bailiffs.

Robin explained: “The real world was just too real and we didn’t want to be a part of normal life. We wanted to create a magic world for the three of us. The three of us were like one person, and we were doing what we needed to do: make music. It became an obsession.”

The brothers also developed a taste for truanting and getting into trouble. “Barry and Robin were pilfering right, left and centre from Woolies and getting away with it,” recalled Maurice in an interview before his death in 2003.

“One day, I was walking home and all the billboards in the main street in Chorlton were blazing away, firemen and policemen running around everywhere. That was Robin, the family arsonist. Another time he set the back of a shop on fire.” The family were advised about assisted passage to Australia by the neighbourhood policeman, who seems to have hinted that it was that or legal action. The three boys performed in their pyjamas every night on the deck of the ship which took them away.

Once in Australia, the brothers continued to perform and took the name Bee Gees, an abbreviation of brothers Gibb.

In 1963 their first single, “The Battle of The Blue and The Grey”, made the charts in Sydney and led to an appearance on a local TV station. In 1965 their single “The Spicks and Specks” gave them their first Australian No.1.

Dreaming of more than the Australian market, they returned to the UK in 1966 where they were auditioned by impresario Robert Stigwood, who got them a recording contract with Polydor, here they had their first major hit with “To Love Somebody”, co-written by Robin, followed by hits including “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”, “Massachusetts”, “Words” and “World”. But the lead vocals were credited to Barry, this eventually led to tension and in 1969, Robin left the group…

Once back in the UK in 1967, success came quickly; legendary music impresario Robert Stigwood took them on and they had their first hit in Britain with New York Mining Disaster. Robin was only 17, and fell in love with the first woman he met: Molly Hullis, Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s secretary. They were married within a year, and quickly had two children, Spencer and Melissa.

The BeeGees second single – To Love Somebody, co-written by Robin – became a pop standard and over the years was covered by hundreds of artists. The lead vocals on the record were taken by Barry. This led to considerable tension in the band, with Robin accusing Stigwood of favouring his brother as the lead vocalist.  The band hung together for more chart successes, including Massachusetts and Words. But when his song Lamplight was relegated to the B-side of Barry’s First of May in 1969, Robin quit the group.

The pressure of fame was simply too much for vulnerable Robin, and his drug use became uncontrollable. “We used to go to America for a tour and I would stay up all night, collapse and then wake up in hospital suffering from exhaustion. I didn’t know what I was doing.” His parents had him made a ward of court because they were so concerned. He even quit the band – the first of many attempts to walk away from his brothers.

He had one hit single, Saved by the Bell, but was unable to follow it up and decided he was not cut out for a solo career. In 1970 the band reunited and achieved an immediate chart hit in the US with Lonely Days, which they followed up with How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? But it was clear that The Bee Gees’ brand of soulful ballads was no longer in fashion and there was a real danger they would fade into obscurity. Stigwood persuaded the brothers to switch their sound towards disco and their next single, Jive Talkin’, saw them make a chart comeback in both the US and UK.

His marriage was falling apart as the band became more famous, with Robin jetting around the world while Molly stayed at home with the children in Epsom, Surrey. A gulf opened up between the brothers, too. Maurice was a drinker, but Barry and Robin continued to share a taste for amphetamines. Each had their own manager, the arguments were frequent and Robin walked out several times.

At the summit of the band’s incredible success with the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever in 1977, (How Deep is Your Love, Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever, their most successful track), when the Bee Gees were at the height of their reincarnated fame as tight-trousered, bouffant-haired, nutmeg-tanned sex symbols, Molly told him their marriage was over.

“I loved my wife, but I was still very young and still attracted to other people,” he admitted. “I have a high sex drive and I was unfaithful. I’ve had quite a few physical encounters – probably more than 100. Some of them were disappointing. They were mostly a distraction, almost like notches on a belt. I didn’t have sex for love, just for fun.”

The separation was acrimonious, and Robin did not see the children for four years, although he got on better terms later. He recalls being unable to eat while the divorce dragged on. “I felt I was going to die from complete misery,” he said. Robin even ended up in prison in 1983 after the divorce judge found that he had breached an agreement by talking publicly about the marriage. Sentenced to two weeks in jail, he appealed and spent only a couple of hours inside.

Gibb continued writing songs for other artists, co-writing four of the tracks – among them hit song Woman in Love – on Barbra Streisand’s Guilty album with brother Barry. Robin also co-wrote material for Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick and Kenny Rogers.

At a low ebb in 1980, he was introduced to his second wife Dwina. Sharing a birthday and an interest in history, Robin says it was love at first sight, and once contended that he might have known her in a former life. The birth of their son Robin John a year after his divorce from Molly was not publicly revealed until the kid was nearly one.

Early in the marriage, his younger brother Andy sought sanctuary with Robin and Dwina at their Oxfordshire home. He was just 30, and running away from a failed marriage, failing career and the rumored chaotic after-effects of cocaine addiction. He died suddenly at Robin’s home from natural causes of an inflammation of the heart muscle, as it turned out later.

The Bee Gees however continued to record and perform and achieved some chart success, even though Barry had also been suffering from a number of health problems including arthritis, while in the early 1990s Maurice sought treatment for his alcoholism.

In 1997 they released the album Still Waters, which sold more than four million copies, and were presented with a Brit award for outstanding contribution to music.

In January 2003 tragedy struck again with the sudden death of Maurice at the age of 53. Following his death, Robin and Barry disbanded the group. Andy’s death had hit Robin hard, but a harder blow was the death of his twin Maurice, always the peacemaker and the extrovert in the group. Maurice died suddenly after his intestine burst. Robin was so grief-stricken that for months he couldn’t come to terms with his brother’s death. “I can’t accept that he’s dead,” he said later that year. “I just imagine he’s alive somewhere else. Pretend is the right word.”

Robin continued to tour and record and reunited with Barry in Miami in 2006 for a charity concert, prompting rumours of a possible reformation. In 2008 he was at the forefront of the campaign for a permanent memorial in London to the men of Bomber Command.
Two years later he sang the Bee Gees hit I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You with a group of soldiers in support of the Poppy Day appeal.
Also in 2008, Robin performed at the BBC’s Electric Proms, marking the 30th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever topping the UK charts.
But ill health dogged him. In 2010, he cancelled a series of shows due to severe stomach pains and went on to have emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, something his twin brother had died from.

In late 2011 it was announced that Robin had been diagnosed with liver cancer. His gaunt appearance prompted suggestions that he was close to death. However, he went into temporary remission and had been in recovery for several months. “I feel fantastic,” he told BBC Radio 2 in February. “I am very active and my sense of well-being is good.”
His final work was a collaboration with his son, RJ, on The Titanic Requiem, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the naval disaster.

Robin transitioned after contracting pneumonia while bravely battling against liver cancer on May 20, 2012.

From their early incarnation as pop troubadours to their dramatic reinvention as the kings of disco in the mid-1970s, The BeeGees notched up more than 200 million album sales worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Robin Gibb was a talented singer and songwriter whose best work came from his collaboration with his brothers.

“There are songs we wrote in 1968 that people are still singing,” he told one interviewer in 2008. “There’s very few artists with that kind of history.

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Donna Summer 5/2012

donna-summerMay 17, 2012 – Donna Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on December 31, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts. Summer was one of seven children. She was raised in the Boston neighborhood of Mission Hill. Her father was a butcher and her mother was a schoolteacher.

She began singing at a young age in the church. Summer’s performance debut occurred at church when she was eight years old, replacing a vocalist who failed to show up. In her early teens, she formed several musical groups imitating Motown girl groups such as The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. She attended Boston’s Jeremiah E. Burke High School where she performed in school musicals and was considered popular.

In 1967, just weeks before graduation, Donna left for New York where she joined the psychedelic blues rock band Crow as lead singer. It was a move influenced by Janis Joplin’s life story that she dropped out of school, she later stated. After they were passed on by a record label that was only interested in the band’s lead singer, the band broke up and Summer stayed in New York to audition for a role in the counterculture musical, Hair. She landed the part of Sheila and agreed to take the role in the Munich production of the show, moving to Munich, Germany after getting her parents’ reluctant but not needed approval. Continue reading Donna Summer 5/2012

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Pete Cosey 5/2012

pete-coseyMay 30, 2012 – Peter Palus “Pete” Cosey was born on October 9th 1943 in Chicago. He was the only child of a musical family. His father and mother wrote for Louis Jordan and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and his father played for Sidney Bechet and Josephine Baker.

In the early years of the 1960s Pete became a key session musician at Chess Records, appearing on recordings by Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, the Rotary Connection, and Etta James, and he worked with the great Phil Cohran in the Artistic Heritage Ensemble.

Pete was also an early member of The Pharaohs and a group with drummer Maurice White and bassist Louis Satterfield that eventually evolved into Earth, Wind & Fire.

Continue reading Pete Cosey 5/2012

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Adam
Yauch
5/2012

adam-yauchMay 4, 2012 – Adam Yauch aka MCA (Beastie Boys) was born in Brooklyn New York on August 5th 1964.  While in high school, he taught himself to play the bass guitar and formed the Beastie Boys with John Berry, Michael Diamond and Kate Schellenbach.

They played their first show, then still a hardcore punk band on his 17th birthday. At age 22, he and the Beastie Boys, had turned into a hip hop trio and were touring with Madonna in 1985. A year later they released their debut album Licensed to Ill, which was followed by 7 other albums, the last being their 2011 album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.

Under the pseudonym “Nathanial Hörnblowér“, Adam directed many of the Beastie Boys’ music videos and in 2002, he built a recording studio in New York City called Oscilloscope Laboratories. He also began an independent film distributing company called Oscilloscope Pictures. Yauch directed the 2006 Beastie Boys concert film, Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!, although in the DVD extras for the film, the title character in “A Day in the Life of Nathanial Hörnblowér” is played by David Cross.

He also directed the 2008 film Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot about eight high school basketball prospects at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic at Rucker Park in Harlem, New York City. Yauch produced Build a Nation, the comeback album from hardcore/punk band Bad Brains. In addition, Oscilloscope Laboratories also distributed Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy (2008) and Oren Moverman’s The Messenger (2009).

2009 was the year that he was diagnosed with a lymph node cancer.

By 2010 The Beastie Boys had sold 40 million records worldwide and in 2011, Yauch received the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters from Bard College, the college he attended for two years. The award was “given in recognition of a significant contribution to the American artistic or literary heritage.”.

In April 2012, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yauch was inducted in absentia due to his illness. His bandmates paid tribute to Yauch; a letter from Yauch was read to the crowd.

As a Buddhist, he was involved in the Tibetan independence movement and organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts in the mid 1990s.

Adam died battling cancer on May 4, 2012. He was 47.

“There is a lot of misconception in all layers of society about what actually brings happiness. We’re caught up in all these promoted ideas that having a lot of money or having somebody beautiful to have sex with or owning some cool objects -a cool car, a cool stereo – a Gibson Les Paul 1957 – a cool house in a cool neighborhood or whatever……… is going to make us happy. All that actually does not bring us happiness. Compassion, empathy, altruism, sharing brings happiness. Those are values that make us smile when practiced.” 

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Levon Helm 4/2012

Levon-HelmApril 19, 2012 – Mark Lavon “Levon” Helm  was born on May 26, 1940 in Elaine, Arkansas. Helm grew up in Turkey Scratch, a hamlet west of Helena, Arkansas. His parents, Nell and Diamond Helm, cotton farmers and also great lovers of music, encouraged their children to play and sing. Young Lavon (as he was christened) began playing the guitar at the age of eight and also played drums during his formative years. He saw Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys at the age of six and decided then to become a musician.

Arkansas in the 1940s and 50s stood at the confluence of a variety of musical styles—blues, country and R&B—that later became known as rock and roll. Helm was influenced by all these styles, which he heard on the Grand Ole Opry on radio station WSM and R&B on radio station WLAC out of Nashville, Tennessee. He also saw traveling shows such as F.S. Walcott’s Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels that featured top African-American artists of the time. Continue reading Levon Helm 4/2012

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Greg
Ham
4/2012

greg-hamApril 19, 2012 – Greg Ham (Men at Work) was born September 27, 1953 in Melbourne where he attended Camberwell Grammar School.

A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, he played saxophone, flute, keyboards, percussion, harmonica and guitar as well as vocals and is best known for playing multiple instruments as a key member in the 1980s band Men at Work.  They are the only Australian artists to have a simultaneous No.1 album and No.1 single in the United States with Business as Usual and “Down Under” respectively. They achieved the same distinction of a simultaneous No.1 album and No.1 single in the UK.

They also won the 1983 Grammy Award for Best New Artist; that same year, Canada awarded them a Juno Award for “International LP of the Year”. As an actor, Greg was a regular cast member on While You’re Down There. Later in life, he taught guitar at Carlton North Primary School in Melbourne.

Even though the circumstances of Greg’s death were initially circumspect, the autopsy confirmed a massive heart attack killed him at the age of 58, some days prior to the day he was found on April 19, 2012.

By some accounts, Ham’s personal demons of drug and alcohol dependency began as far back as Men at Work’s glory year: 1983. It was in that pivotal year that the band was touring nonstop as well as worldwide. The stress by all accounts was horrific, and fights between band mates were all too commonplace.

In regard to the band’s in-fighting, Hay told me in 1997, “The band broke into two sectors: me and Greg on one end and (John) Rees and (Jerry) Speiser on the other, with Ronny (Strykert) struggling to stay in a neutral corner.” One can only imagine what the lack of sleep, breakneck tour schedule and in-fighting must have done to a delicate, sensitive man like Greg Ham.

With his posh, two-story former home studio sold to help ease his financial woes, Ham purchased a rather dismal, smallish home (complete with a multitude of telephone poles and wires encircling it) just a few miles away from his former home. There he sat, in the heart of the business section of downtown Carlton North, Victoria, Australia, alone. Greg Ham found himself-despite his fame and high esteem among Australia’s music community-on very shaky ground.

On April 19, 2012, Greg Ham’s friends became alarmed when Ham’s telephone answering machine went unheeded for days on end. A subsequent inquiry among Ham’s neighbors revealed that no one had seen him for days. Ham’s long-time friend and pharmacist David Nolte went to the house in the afternoon, where he discovered Ham’s body in the front room of Ham’s home. An autopsy revealed that Ham had been dead for days.

Mr. Nolte, who runs a Rathdowne Street pharmacy, had known Ham for 30 years. He told the Australian press that he went to check on Ham after a friend was unable to contact him for some days. By the time that Nolte arrived at Ham’s home, it was already too late; Greg Ham was dead. His lifeless body was found in a sitting position against the wall in the home’s front room. He had suffered a fatal heart attack.

Said Nolte, ”Greg’s friend told me they tried to ring him over a number of days and … it kept going to voicemail and the cats obviously hadn’t been fed.”

In the aftermath of Ham’s sudden demise, an unnamed friend of Ham’s stepped forward with the alarming claim that Ham’s abuse issues were far more serious than what had been previously reported. This “mystery man” alleged that Ham had been heavily using heroin, and that Ham’s abuse of alcohol had intensified after the Kookaburra case. Observed the friend, sadly shaking his head, ”The whole case had undone him.”

Immediately following the death of Greg Ham, furious fans began a barrage of hate mail and threatening phone calls to Larrikin Music Publishing Company and Norman Lurie retired not long after.

Greg Ham’s family and friends held a private funeral for Ham at the Fitzroy Town Hall in Melbourne, on May 2, 2012. Gregory Norman Ham was finally laid to rest at The Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton, Victoria, Australia: Roman Catholic area of plots, Compartment O, Section 3, Row 1 Grave 55.

Said Colin Hay, fondly recalling his band mate (and beloved friend of 40 years) “He was the funniest person I knew. We shared countless, unbelievably memorable times together, from stumbling through Richmond after playing the Cricketers Arms, to helicoptering into New York City to appear on ‘Saturday Night Live’, or flying through dust storms in Arizona, above the Grand Canyon. We played in a band and conquered the world together. I love him very much. He’s here forever. He was a beautiful man!”

I heartily agree, Colin.

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Jim Marshall 4/2012

Jim Marshall AmpsApril 5, 2012 – Jim Marshall  Even though Jim Marshall was a drummer who made a good income teaching drums to many British rockstars in the early fifties, his being in these pages is based on his importance to Rock as a builder of Rock’s most important amplifiers and speaker boxes.

It was the physical embodiment of rock’s power and majesty — a wall of black, vinyl-clad cabinets, one atop the other, crowned with a rectangular box containing the innovative circuitry that revolutionized the music.

This was the famed Marshall stack, the amplification gear that has dominated rock stages since its introduction in the early 1960s, bestowing on guitarists the ability to achieve unprecedented volume and controlled distortion.

From the Who, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s on through Peter Frampton, Van Halen, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana in succeeding decades, the cursive “Marshall” emblazoned on the speakers has served as an inescapable backdrop signature.

The Marshall stack was so much larger than life that it lent itself to excess as well. The famous amp in the mockumentary “Spinal Tap” with a unique setting of 11 on the dial was a Marshall, and no rock image was more over-the-top than that of KISS’ four members performing in front of some 40 Marshall cabinets.

Of course, they didn’t need that many.

“Hendrix used three 100-watt amps and three stacks,” their inventor Jim Marshall once said. “KISS go a lot further, but most of the cabinets and amps you see on stage are dummies. We once built 80 dummy cabinets for Bon Jovi. They all do it — it’s just backdrop.

“It would be stupid to use more than three 100-watt amps, wherever and whoever you are.”

Marshall died at 88 in an English hospice after suffering from cancer and several severe strokes, his son Terry Marshall told the Associated Press. Musicians, competitors and fans were quick to salute Marshall, who had retained an active role at Marshall Amplification well into his 80s.

Comments on Twitter came from Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx (“R.I.P. Jim Marshall. You were responsible for some of the greatest audio moments in music’s history and 50% of all our hearing loss”), Slash (“The news of Jim Marshall passing is deeply saddening. R & R will never be the same w/out him. But, his amps will live on FOREVER!”) and Megadeth’s David Ellefson (“You made rock n roll what it is for so many of us.”)

“RIP Jim Marshall. Such a huge loss for the music community,” was the sentiment expressed by Fullerton-based Fender Guitars, whose Bassman amplifier served as Marshall’s model when he set about to redefine the technology in 1962.

It was an unlikely undertaking, but Marshall’s life had consistently defied the odds. Born in London on July 29, 1923, he saw his youth interrupted by a case of bone tuberculosis that immobilized him in a hospital from the age of 5 to 13.

When he recovered, he took on menial jobs, began educating himself in engineering, learned to tap dance and became a big band singer and drummer. He worked as a toolmaker for aircraft manufacturers during World War II, but soon music took precedence.

He began giving drum lessons and opened a drum shop in London. One of his students was Mitch Mitchell, who would later introduce him to the leader of his new trio, Hendrix. The shop’s customers included the son of one of Marshall’s big band cohorts, a young rock musician who encouraged Marshall to add guitars and amps to his inventory.

Marshall took Pete Townshend’s advice, and business boomed. When Townshend and friends such as Ritchie Blackmore learned about his technical background, they prodded him to devise an amplifier with more power and rougher tone than the pure, clean-sounding Fenders.

Marshall took on the challenge, working with guitarist-electrician Ken Bran and hiring engineer Dudley Craven away from EMI Records to help him achieve the sound he envisioned. They adapted airplane vacuum tubes into the design, Marshall packed four 12-inch speakers into a tongue-and-groove cabinet whose top half angled slightly upward and they set a 50-watt amplifier on top of it.

They got it right on the sixth prototype, but the rock musicians were becoming intoxicated with the potential of greater volume and soon their urging led to a 100-watt amp powering eight speakers — two of the cabinets in the famed stack formation.

Marshall quickly built his enterprise into a consistently successful firm, adding midrange and low-end lines to the catalog. He twice received the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement and was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2004. He was regularly listed among Britain’s wealthiest individuals.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the man known as “the father of loud” did suffer some hearing problems. But it’s not what you might think.

“My right ear is not very good at all,” he said in a 2005 interview with the New Zealand Herald. “And I’d always put it down to when I was playing the top cymbal, but it was probably the brass section in the orchestras I was playing in the ’50s. So it happened before I was dealing with rock ‘n’ roll.”

Jim Marshall was almost 89 years old when he died from cardiac arrest on 5 April 2012.

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Bugs Henderson 3/2012

Bugs HendersonMarch 8, 2012 – Buddy “Bugs” Henderson was born on October 20th 1943 in Palm Springs, California, but grew up in Tyler, Texas. At age 16 he formed a band called the Sensores and later joined Mouse and the Traps. Living in Dallas-Fort Worth during the early 1970s, he became lead guitarist for the blues/rock band Nitzinger before one-hit pop wonder Bruce Channel recruited him into a band.

He established his own band the Shuffle Kings, and spent his entire working life as musician performing from Fort Worth clubs and all over the world, forging and establishing a large cult following. He released 18 albums, while his guitarplaying style impressed musicians such as Eric Clapton, Freddie King, Johnny Winter, Johnny Hyland and Ted Nugent.

Henderson was hugely popular in Europe and toured the continent often from the 1970s on. Continue reading Bugs Henderson 3/2012

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Eddie King 3/2012

eddie-kingMarch 14, 2012 – Eddie King (Blues Guitarist) was born Edward Lewis Davis Milton on April 21st 1938 in Lineville, near Talladega, Alabama. His parents were both musical: his father played the guitar, and his mother was a gospel singer. After his mother died in 1950 he moved to Kentucky with some of his brothers and sisters, and then on to Chicago in 1954 with an uncle. His earliest musical influences were his parents. His dad played guitar and his mom sang. “My dad played country blues just like John Lee Hooker.

For a blues musician to change his surname to King to get attention may seem a bit on the ludicrous side, kind of like an actor or actress changing his or her name to Barrymore. But this is just what guitarist Eddie Milton did when he transformed himself into Eddie King, becoming in the process the least well-known of the blues guitar King dynasty; despite his tireless efforts as a sideman with many blues greats, as well as a career as a bandleader during the later part of his life. He was born Edward Lewis Davis Milton in Alabama, eventually gravitating toward the busy blues scene of Chicago’s South and West Side in the late ’50s and ’60s. His earliest musical influences were his parents, including a father who apparently played country blues guitar in the John Lee Hooker style. His mother was also a blues and gospel singer.

As a youngster, he was too young to get into blues clubs, but learned guitar by smushing his face up against the windows, watching the guitarists in action, memorizing the patterns and runs he saw on the fret board, then finally sprinting home to see if he could remember any of it. Milton’s musical peers were players from the second generation of Windy City bluesmen who came up on the sounds of artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. Some of these associates, such as Luther Allison, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, and Freddie King, became fairly big on the international blues scene; while others, such as the wonderful Eddie C. Campbell or Milton, became better known as typical examples of high quality blues artists that were basically laboring in obscurity.

A fairly short fellow, he learned to get around the taller and sometimes somewhat better guitar competition by learning to be a showman. “Little Eddie” was actually his first stage name, obviously leading to confusion with the rhythm & blues artist Little Milton. When he began picking in a style heavily influenced by B.B. King, Little Eddie King became first a nickname only used by friends, but evolved into a stage name as well. Another diminutive bluesman, Little Mac Simmons, gave him his first big break, although the reason for the hiring might have had more to do with not wanting to have any taller sidemen on-stage than his musical ability. Eddie King’s first recordings were with bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon, leading to a second guitar position on several Sonny Boy Williamson II sides in 1960.

The next major period in his career was as lead guitarist with Koko Taylor. He was with this fiery blues singer for more than two decades. In 1969, he and bassist Bob Stroger formed Eddie King & the Kingsmen, a group that worked together off and on for the next 15 years, at first overlapping with the Taylor stint. From the early ’80s onward, he had been based out of Peoria, IL.

Besides his exciting guitar work, King is also known as a superior soul shouter, again in a style modeled after the singing of B.B. King. He presented a mixed bag from blues history, ranging from modern urban blues to the type of country blues he grew up with. He also ventured into the Southern soul genre, and would mix up the material of a given gig based on what the audience is responding best to. Young players such as bassist Jamie Jenkins, drummer Kevin Gray, and Doug Daniels doubling on sax and keyboards were regular members of his combos. As a bandleader, King demonstrated that he may have been a late bloomer as a songwriter, but that in blues it is never too late to come up with good material.”

The Swamp Bees was the name of his own group since the ’90s, and this outfit has swarmed onto stages at blues venues nationally and internationally and his output incorporated Chicago blues, country blues, blues shouter, and soul.

Shy, but with a lots of soulful feeling and no wasted notes, he played a variety of styles from the urban blues of Albert King, to the some county blues, to southern soul, to a more sophisticated B.B. King style and pulled it all together with an approach that quickly earned your respect. He also liked to mix up his songs for the crowd, playing blues, soul and R&B depending on how he was reading the audience at the moment.

Into his 60s, he still was playing with the energy of a young man. His first solo record finally came out when others his age were busy concentrating on collecting their senior citizen’s benefits. The album, The Blues Has Got Me (1987), was issued by the Netherlands-based record label Black Magic and later re-released by Double Trouble. It featured one of his sisters, Mae Bee May, on vocals.

In 1997, King recorded the well-received but obscure Another Cow’s Dead album on a small label co-owned by a belly dancer. This album won a W.C. Handy Award for best comeback album of the year. It was arranged by Lou Marini. His songwriting credits include “Kitty Kat”, described by one music journalist as “hilarious”.

King died in Peoria, Illinois on March 14, 2012, at the age of 73. In October 2012, the Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit organization, placed a headstone on King’s unmarked grave at the Lutheran Cemetery in Peoria.

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Michael Hossack 3/2012

michael-hossackMarch 12, 2012 – Michael Hossack (drummer for Doobie Brothers) was born in Paterson, New Jersey on October 17th 1946. He started playing drums in the Little Falls Cadets, a Boy Scout drum and bugle corps, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Cadets and Fair Lawn Cadets. He always credited these experiences for teaching and preparing him for playing in a two-drummer group such as the Doobie Brothers.

After graduating high school, he served for four years in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Following his honorable discharge in 1969 he returned to New Jersey, where a close friend talked him into auditioning for a California-based band called Mourning Reign.

They played heavily in upstate New York, before relocating to the San Francisco bay area and signing with a production company that had also signed the newly formed rock band, the Doobie Brothers.

Although Mourning Reign was short-lived, Hossack’s abilities gained considerable exposure and having learned of his availability, was invited to jam with the Doobies in 1971. Little did he know that the “jam session” was an actual audition which took place at Bimbo’s 365 Club. After hearing founding drummer John Hartman and Hossack together, the Doobies decided that having two drummers would beef up the rhythm section and so adopted the “dual drummers” sound pioneered by bands such as the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. Hossack played alongside Hartman on the band’s breakthrough albums Toulouse Street in 1972, The Captain and Me in 1973 and What Were Once Vices are Now Habits in 1974, which spawned the band’s first #1 hit, “Black Water”.

After a grueling ten-month tour in 1973, Hossack left the Doobies. He went on to join Bobby Winkelman’s band Bonaroo (band) which released one album then disbanded shortly afterwards. In 1976, he had a brief stint with a band called DFK (or the Dudek Finnigan Krueger Band), with Les Dudek, Mike Finnigan and Jim Krueger. In 1977, Hossack became a partner in Chateau Recorders studio in North Hollywood.

An avid outdoors man, when he wasn’t in the studio or on tour, he was either riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, hunting or fishing. A family man as well, Mike enjoyed spending as much time as possible raising his two children.

In 1987 former band member Keith Knudsen called Mike and asked if he would participate in a series of benefit concerts for veterans of the Vietnam War. Being a veteran himself, Mike agreed and the Doobie Brothers (after a five-year hiatus) were back together again. Due to the huge success of these concerts, the Doobie Brothers decided to reform with band members Pat Simmons, Tom Johnston, John Hartman, Tiran Porter, Bobby LaKind and Michael Hossack. Not long afterwards, they were offered a recording contract from Capitol Records. Since then, Mike’s unique style can be heard on the albums Cycles, Brotherhood, Rockin’ down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert, Sibling Rivalry, Live at Wolf Trap and World Gone Crazy.

On June 22, 2001, while heading to a show at Caesars Tahoe in Lake Tahoe, Mike suffered multiple fractures from a motorcycle accident on Highway 88 and had to be airlifted to a Sacramento-area hospital where he underwent surgery. After months of healing and grueling physical therapy, Mike was back with the band. He was a permanent fixture until he developed cancer in 2010 and had to take a leave of absence to focus on his health.

On March 2012, Hossack sadly died of cancer at his home in Dubois, Wyoming at the age of 65.

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Jimmy Ellis 3/2012

Jimmy-Ellis-The-Trammps-400x276March 8, 2012 – Jimmy Ellis (The Trammps) was born on November 15th 1937.

The history of the Trammps grew from the 1960s group the Volcanos, who later became the Moods. With a number of line-up changes by the early 1970s, the band membership included gospel-influenced lead singer Jimmy Ellis, drummer and bass singer Earl Young, with brothers Stanley and Harold ‘Doc’ Wade. Members of the Philadelphia recording band MFSB played with the group on records and on tour in the 70s with singer Robert Upchurch joining later. The group was produced by the Philadelphia team of Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Young, all MFSB mainstays who played on the recording sessions and contributed songs.

Already in his thirties success came as the lead singer with the Philadelphia disco band, The Trammps. The band’s first major success was with their 1972 cover version of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart”. The first disco track they released was “Love Epidemic” in 1973. They are best known for their Grammy winning song, “Disco Inferno”, immortalized in the film Saturday Night Fever, released in 1976 becoming a UK pop hit and US R&B hit, then re-released in 1978 becoming a US pop hit.

Other major hits included “Hold Back the Night”-75 and “That’s Where the Happy People Go”-76. In late 1977, they released “The Night the Lights Went Out” to commemorate the electrical blackout in New York on July 13th 1977 .

Music journalist Ron Wynn noted “the Trammps’ prowess can’t be measured by chart popularity; Ellis’ booming, joyous vocals brilliantly championed the celebratory fervor and atmosphere that made disco both loved and hated among music fans.”

He died from Alzheimer complications on March 8, 2012 at age 74.

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Ronnie Montrose 3/2012

ronnie montroseMarch 3, 2012 – Ronnie Montrose. There are credible sources that claim he was born November 29, 1947 in Denver, Colorado, and others say he was born in San Francisco, California. No confusion is there about his early childhood in Colorado.

In his own words Montrose was born in San Francisco, California. When he was a toddler, his parents moved back to his mother’s home state of Colorado (his father was from Bertrand, Nebraska, and his mother was from Golden, Colorado). He spent most of his younger years in Denver, Colorado until he ran away at about 16 years old to pursue a musical career. He ultimately spent most of his life in the San Francisco Bay area, where he became an influential, highly-rated player whose crunchy riffs, fluid licks and mesmerising solos lit up FM radio during the 1970s.

Continue reading Ronnie Montrose 3/2012

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Davy Jones 2/2012

davy jonesFebruary 29, 2012 – David “Davy” Jones (The Monkees) was born on December 30th 1945 in Manchester, England and at age 11 began an acting career, appearing on the soap opera ‘Coronation Street’, produced by Granada Television in Manchester, where in 1961 he played Colin Lomax, the grandson of Ena Sharples.

However, after the death of his mother when he was 14, Davy made a career change and became a jockey, training with Basil Foster for awhile. (Jones cared for Foster in his later years, bringing him to the United States and providing him with financial support).

Even though he could have been one of the greats according to insiders, he was soon back in the public entertainment eye, first on stage in London’s West End and then on Broadway, playing the Artful Dodger, in the show Oliver!, which was nominated for a Tony Award. He also had a starring cameo role in a hallmark episode of The Brady Bunch television show and later reprised parody film; Love, American Style; and My Two Dads.

On February 9th 1964, Davy appeared with the Broadway cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show, the same episode on which The Beatles made their first appearance. Jones said of that night, “I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that.” At that time Jones was considered one of the great teen idols.

Following his Ed Sullivan appearance, Jones signed a contract with Ward Sylvester of Screen Gems (then the television division of Columbia Pictures). A pair of American television appearances followed, as Jones received screen time in episodes of Ben Casey and The Farmer’s Daughter.

Jones debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of 14 August 1965, with the single “What Are We Going To Do?” The 19-year-old singer was signed to Colpix Records, a label owned by Columbia. His debut album David Jones, on the same label, followed soon after. In 1967 the album was issued in the UK, in mono only, on the Pye Records label. A collector’s item today.

From 1966 to 1971, Jones was a member of the Monkees, a pop-rock group formed expressly for a television show of the same name. With Screen Gems producing the series, Jones was shortlisted for auditions, as he was the only Monkee who was signed to a deal with the studio, but still had to meet producers Bob Rafelson’s and Bert Schneider’s standards. Jones sang lead vocals on many of the Monkees’ recordings, including “I Wanna Be Free” and “Daydream Believer”.

The NBC television series the Monkees was popular, and remained in syndication. After the group disbanded in 1971, Jones reunited with Micky Dolenz as well as Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart in 1974 as a short-lived group called Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. In the period after disbanding the Monkees he went back to TV and fashion and some half assed efforts in music.

A Monkees television show marathon (“Pleasant Valley Sunday”) broadcast on 23 February 1986 by MTV resulted in a wave of Monkeemania not seen since the group’s heyday. Jones reunited with Dolenz and Peter Tork from 1986 to 1989 to celebrate the band’s renewed success and promote the 20th anniversary of the group. A new top 20 hit, “That Was Then, This Is Now” was released (though Jones did not perform on the song) as well as an album, Pool It!.

Monkees activity ceased until 1996 when Jones reunited with Dolenz, Tork and Michael Nesmith to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band. The group released a new album entitled Justus, the first album since 1967’s Headquarters that featured the band members performing all instrumental duties. It was the last time all four Monkees performed together.

In February 2011, Jones confirmed rumors of another Monkees reunion. “There’s even talk of putting the Monkees back together again in the next year or so for a U.S. and UK tour,” he told Disney’s Backstage Pass newsletter. “You’re always hearing all those great songs on the radio, in commercials, movies, almost everywhere.” The tour (Jones’s last) came to fruition entitled, An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour.

Not much later on February 29, 2012, the leap year day, Davy died from a massive heart attack at age 66.

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Whitney Houston 2/2012

Whitney HoustonFebruary 11, 2012 – Whitney Houston was born in Newark, New Jersey on August 9, 1963. Much has been publicized about her childhood and music influences including prominent gospel and soul singers in her family, such as her mother Cissy Houston, cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick and her godmother Aretha Franklin. She began singing with New Jersey church’s junior gospel choir at age 11. She spent some of her early teenage years touring nightclubs with her mother Ciss, and she would occasionally get on stage and perform with Cissy. In 1977, aged 14, she became a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band’s single “Life’s a Party”.

Personal Note: I moved to the US in 1980 and was living in Bloomfield, New Jersey, while my then girlfriend and later 2nd wife was working for TV 47, which aired from the downtown Newark Theatre building, where I first heard Whitney Houston in February 1981. She was a mezzo-soprano with incredible voice flexibility, later commonly referred to as “The Voice” in reference to her exceptional vocal talent.

Few pop singers have been gifted with a voice as glorious as Whitney Houston’s, and even fewer have treated their talent with the frustrating indifference she did toward the end of her life. She sold more records and received more awards than almost any other female pop star of the 20th century, but spent most of her last years mired in a drug addiction that sapped her will to sing and left her in a shambolic state. Continue reading Whitney Houston 2/2012

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Etta James 1/2012

etta jamesJanuary 20, 2012 – Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25th 1938 in Los Angeles, California, but due to her 14 year old mother Dorothy Hawkins, being often absent, Etta lived with a series of caregivers, most notably ‘Sarge’ and ‘Mama’ Lu. Her father was long gone, and young James Etta never knew for sure who he was, although she recalled her mother telling her that he was the celebrated pool player Rudolf Wanderone, better known as Minnesota Fats.

She sang at the church from the age of 5 and at home was beaten and forced by Sarge to sing in the early hours at drunken poker games. She began singing at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles at 5 and turned to secular music as a teenager, forming a vocal group with two friends. In 1950 after Mama Lu died, Etta’s real mother took her to the Fillmore, in San Francisco.

Within a couple of years, Etta inspired by doo-wop, formed a girl group, called the Creolettes. Johnny Otis took the group under his wing, helping them sign to Modern Records and changing their name to the Peaches and gave Etta her stage name, reversing Jamesetta into Etta James. Continue reading Etta James 1/2012

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Rhino Reinhardt 1/2012

larry-rhino-reinhardtJanuary 2, 2012 – Rhino Reinhardt was born in Bradenton, Florida on July 7th 1948. In his early music career in the 60s he played with local outfits like The Thunderbeats and Bittersweet between Sarasota and Bradenton.

In those early days “El Rhino” was also a member of two Georgia bands… The Load (1967-69) with bassist Richard Price and drummer Ramone Sotolongo, performing mostly original, psychedelic blues-rock. When the the band landed a house gig in Gainesville, at a club called Dubs, Reinhardt evolved into joining The Second Coming (1969-70) with Duane Allman, Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley and Reese Wynans, who eventually went on to form The Allman Brothers Band, with Wynans joining Stevie Ray Vaughan. Continue reading Rhino Reinhardt 1/2012