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Ricky Lawson 12/2013

ricky lawsonDecember 23, 2013 – Ricky Lawson was born on November 8, 1954. The Detroit native learned to play drums as a young teenager in Cooley High School. He would borrow his uncle’s drum set and carry it to his house across town via the Detroit bus system. He then played in the high school jazz band, which consisted of only five members, including the band director. Outside of the school jazz band he also played for The Sons of Soul, who performed at the 1969 Michigan State Fair, opening for The Jackson Five along with The Blazer, a band from Cooley High School in Detroit that included La Palabra.

While in high school, he had a talent for such sports as water polo and swimming. His swimming talent eventually earned him a scholarship to college. He only spent one year at college though, being invited to play drums for Stevie Wonder and from there developing into one of the nation’s top studio musicians in the 1980s.

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Bob Allison 11/2013

Bob AllisonNovember 24, 2013 –  Bob Allison was born Bernard Colin Day on February 2nd 1941 in the UK. He became a pop singer and one half of the duo The Allisons, who were marketed as being brothers, using the surname of Allison. Both Bob and John were born in Wiltshire and started harmonizing very early on in life.

The Allisons represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Festival in 1961 with the song “Are You Sure?”. They came second with 24 points and the song spent 16 weeks in the top 40 (six weeks at No. 2 and a further three weeks in the top 4), and became a solid million copy seller.

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Pete Haycock 10/2013

pete-haycock-58October 30, 2013 – Pete Haycock was born on March 4, 1951 in Stafford, England. He attended St.John’s Primary School, then King Edward VI Boys Grammar School and played his first gig at a miners club at the age of 12.

In 1968 at 17, as lead guitarist, vocalist he founded the Climax Chicago Blues Band along with Richard Jones on bass, guitarist-vocalist Derek Holt, keyboardist Arthur Wood, George Newsome on drums and harmonica player- vocalist Colin Cooper. Two years later they changed their name to the Climax Blues Band in 1970. Continue reading Pete Haycock 10/2013

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Lou Reed 10/2013

lou-reed300October 27, 2013 –  Lou Reed was born Lewis Allan Reed into a Jewish family in Brooklyn , New York.

Although he acknowledged that he was Jewish, he always added, “My God is rock’n’roll. It’s an obscure power that can change your life. The most important part of my religion is to play guitar.”
Reed attended Atkinson Elementary School in Freeport on Long Island and went on to Freeport Junior High School, notorious for its gangs. As a teenager, he suffered panic attacks, became socially awkward and “possessed a fragile temperament” but was highly focused on things that he liked – principally music.

Reed resumed his education at Syracuse University in 1960, studying journalism, film directing, and creative writing. He was a platoon leader in ROTC and was later expelled from the program for holding an unloaded gun to his superior’s head. In 1961, he began hosting a late-night radio program on WAER called Excursions On A Wobbly Rail. Named after a song by pianist Cecil Taylor, the program typically featured doo wop, rhythm and blues, and jazz, particularly the free jazz developed in the mid-1950s. Continue reading Lou Reed 10/2013

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Jan Kuehnemund 10/2013

Vixen performing at The Hard Rock Hell Winter Ball held at Butlins Somerwest World in MineheadOctober 10, 2013 – Jan Kuehnemund (Vixen) was born on November 18th 1961 in St.Paul Minnesota.  She was the original founding member of the all-female American hard rock band Vixen in 1973.

In 1981 she moved the entire band to California to get better exposure. Hailed as “the female Bon Jovi”, the band achieved commercial success during the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of the Los Angeles, California glam metal scene and Kuehnemund was called “the best female guitarist around” back in the day.

She toured with the Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Bon Jovi, as did an appearance in the era’s definitive documentary, Penelope Spheeris’ “The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years.

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Allen Lanier 8/2013

Allen Lanier, guitarist for Blue Oyster CultAugust 14, 2013 – Allen Glover Lanier (Blue Öyster Cult) was born on June 25th 1946 on Long Island New York.  In 1967 together with Eric Bloom,  he was a founding member of the band Soft White Underbelly, but after a bad review in 1969 they changed their name to Oaxaca, to the Stalk-Forrest Group, to the Santos Sisters, until the band settled on Blue Öyster Cult in 1971.

They released their debut album Blue Öyster Cult in January 1972. Because of their unique sound and diversity, Blue Öyster Cult has been influential to many modern bands that span many genres and are important pioneers of several different styles of rock music that came to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. Many heavy metal bands have cited them as a major influence, and bands such as Metallica and Iced Earth have covered their songs.

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Donna Hightower 8/2013

soul diva donna hightowerAugust 19, 2013 – Donna Hightower was born on December 28, 1926 in Caruthersville, Missouri to a family of sharecroppers. She listened to singers such as Ella Fitzgerald in her youth, but never planned to have a singing career and by the age of 23 had been married with two children, and divorced.

While working in a diner in Chicago, she was heard singing by Bob Tillman, a reporter with the Chicago Defender newspaper, who then won her a booking as a singer at the Strand Hotel. Initially billed as Little Donna Hightower, she won a recording contract with Decca Records and recorded her first single, “I Ain’t In The Mood”, in 1951.

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Eydie Gormé 8/2013

singer/songwriter eydie gorméAugust 10, 2013 – Eydie Gormé was born Edith Garmezano on August 16, 1928 in Manhattan, New York, the daughter of Nessim and Fortuna, Sephardic Jewish immigrants. Her father, a tailor, was from Sicily and her mother was from Turkey. Gormé was a cousin of singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka.

She graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1946 with Stanley Kubrick in her class. She worked for the United Nations as an interpreter, using her fluency in the Ladino and Spanish languages, while singing in Ken Greenglass’s band during the weekends.

Straight out of high school, she also started singing with various big bands in 1950 such as the Tommy Tucker Orchestra and Don Brown.

She changed her name from Edith to Edie but later changed it to Eydie because people constantly mispronounced Edie as Eddie. Gorme also considered changing her family name; however, her mother protested, “It’s bad enough that you’re in show business. How will the neighbors know if you’re ever a success?”

 

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J.J. Cale 7/2013

JJ CaleJuly 26, 2013 – John Weldon, J.J. Cale was born on December 5, 1938 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was also raised and graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1956.

As well as learning to play the guitar he began studying the principles of sound engineering while still living with his parents in Tulsa, where he built himself a recording studio. After graduation he was drafted into military service, studying at the Air Force Air Training Command in Rantoul, Illinois. Cale recalled, “I didn’t really want to carry a gun and do all that stuff so I joined the Air Force and what I did is I took technical training and that’s kind of where I learned a little bit about electronics.” Cale’s knowledge of mixing and sound recording turned out to play an important role in creating the distinctive sound of his studio albums.

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Alan Myers 6/2013

alan-myersJune 24, 2013 – Alan Myers (Devo) was born in 1955 in Akron, Ohio, USA. He joined the band Devo in 1976, replacing Jim Mothersbaugh. His distinctive style ultimately made him one of the most influential drummers of his generation and his angular playing proved so precise on Devo’s most beloved classics, his beats were frequently mistaken for a drum machine.

He was also an actor, known for Human Highway (1982), We’re All Devo (1983) and Urgh! A Music War (1981). Myers was the third and most prominent drummer of the band when he joined in 1976 to replace Jim Mothersbaugh.

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Bobby Bland 6/2013

BOBBY BLAND June 23, 2013 – Bobby Bland was born Robert Calvin Brooks  in Rosemark, Tennessee on January 27, 1930.

Sometimes called “Lion of the Blues” and “Sinatra of the Blues”, Bobby Bland earned his enduring blues superstar status the hard way: without a guitar, harmonica, or any other instrument to fall back upon. All Bland had to offer was his magnificent voice, a tremendously powerful instrument in his early heyday, injected with charisma and melisma to spare. Just ask his legion of female fans, who deemed him a sex symbol late into his career.

For all his promise, Bland’s musical career ignited slowly. He was a founding member of the Beale Streeters, the fabled Memphis aggregation that also included B.B. King and Johnny Ace. Singles for Chess in 1951 (produced by Sam Phillips) and Modern the next year bombed, but that didn’t stop local DJ David Mattis from cutting Bland on a couple of 1952 singles for his fledgling Duke logo.

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Pickford Hopkins 6/2013

gary-pickford-hopkinsJune 22, 2013 – Gary Pickford-Hopkins was born in 1948 in Abergarwed near Neath Wales. He attended the Alderman Davies Church and was a member of the Church Choir. After graduation Gary’s first job was as an apprentice painter.

His musical career started as frontman for the Vern Davies Band and as a 16 year old, he was a member of a local band called Smokestacks, made up of musicians from Neath and Port Talbot. After a couple of years, the band broke up and Gary joined the popular band The Eyes of Blue.
The band played at clubs and halls throughout South Wales and they went on to win the Melody Maker Battle of the Bands in 1966, of which the first prize was a recording contract.

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Joey Covington 6/2013

joey-covingtonJune 4, 2013 – Joey Covington (Hot Tuna) was born Joseph Edward Michno on June 27, 1945 in East Conemaugh, Pennsylvania. He became a professional drummer as a young teenager, taking gigs in, among other things, polka bands and strip clubs in his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. A colorful character, on his website he listed among his fondest early memories “Getting to New York City on a Greyhound bus with a suitcase, a set of drums, and a hundred dollars in my pocket.

He built a long storied career starting at age 10 as a self-taught drummer/percussionist, along with becoming an award-winning songwriter and ultimately recording on over 22 albums, of which 16 went gold and platinum.

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Piano C Red 6/2013

Piano C RedJune 3, 2013 – Piano C Red was born Cecil Fain in Montevallo, Ala. in 1933.

His mother sang spirituals and his father made moonshine, both endeavors playing a role in his musical career. He told the Chicago Tribune’s Mary Schmich in 2006 that he traded pints of his father’s moonshine for piano lessons from the local boogie-woogie player, Fat Lily.

By age 16 he was playing in Atlanta, Georgia as James Wheeler and later took his stage name from his instrument, the red piano, and the trademark red outfits he wore onstage.

Relocating to Chicago when he was 19 he performed with the likes of Muddy Waters, B.B King, Fats Domino and Buddy Guy, before becoming a cab driver to make the money necessary to pay the bills.

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Georges Moustaki 5/2013

georges-moustakiMay 23, 2013 – Georges Moustaki was born on May 3, 1934 in Alexandria, Egypt as Giuseppe “Yussef” Mustacchi. His parents, Sarah and Nessim Mustacchi, were Francophile, Greek Jews from the island of Corfu, Greece. They moved to Egypt, where their young child first learned French. They owned the Cité du Livre – one of the finest book shops in the Middle East – in the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria where many ethnic communities lived together.

At home, everyone spoke Italian because the aunt categorically refused to speak Greek. In the street, the children spoke Arabic.

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Trevor Bolder 5/2013

trevor-bolderMay 21, 2013 – Trevor Bolder (Uriah Heep) was born on 9 June 1950 in Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, England. His father was a trumpet player and other members of his family were also musicians. He played cornet in the school band and was active in his local R&B scene in the mid 1960s. Inspired by The Beatles, in 1964 he formed his first band with his brother while taking up the bass guitar.

In his teens he took the direction followed by many other young males of his generation and switched to the guitar, at which time he formed The Chicago Star Blues Band with his brother. Stints in other Hull-based bands like Jelly Roll and Flesh came later, with Bolder eventually trading in his guitar for an electric bass; meanwhile, food was kept on the table through a series of day jobs that ranged from hairdresser to piano tuner. He first came to local prominence in The Rats, which also featured fellow Hull musician Mick Ronson on lead guitar.

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Marshall Lytle 5/2013

marshall-lytleMay 25, 2013 – Marshall Lytle (Bill Haley & His Comets) was born on September 1st 1933 in Old Fort, North Carolina. He was a guitar player before joining Bill Haley’s country music group, The Saddlemen, in 1951, but was hired to play double bass for the group, so Haley taught Marshall the basics of slap bass playing.

In September 1952, they changed their name to Bill Haley & His Comets. Soon after, he co-wrote with Haley the band’s first national hit, “Crazy Man, Crazy” although he did not receive co-authorship credit for it until 2002.

He played on all of Haley’s recordings between 1951 and the summer of 1955, including “Rock Around the Clock”. In September 1955, he, along with drummer Dick Richards and saxophone player Joey Ambrose, quit The Comets in a salary dispute and formed their own musical group, The Jodimars. They became one of the first rock ‘n’ roll groups to take up residence in Las Vegas.

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Jeff Hanneman 5/2013

Jeff HannemanMay 2, 2013 – Jeffrey John “Jeff” Hanneman was born on January 31, 1964 in Oakland CA, but grew up further south in Long Beach. He is best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

The story goes that in 1981 he approached Kerry King, when King was auditioning for a southern rock band “Ledger”. After the try-out session, the two guitarists started talking and playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs and decided to form their own band, and Slayer was born.

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Ray Manzarek 5/2013

Ray Manzarek-doors May 20May 20, 2013  – Ray Manzarek Jr.  was the architect of The Doors’ intoxicating sound. His evocative keyboard playing fused rock, jazz, blues, classical and an array of other styles into something utterly, dazzlingly new, and his restless artistic explorations continued unabated for the rest of his life.

He was born on February 12, 1939 to Polish immigrants Helena and Raymond Manczarek and grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and was introduced to the piano at the tender age of seven.

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Bob Brozman 4/2013

Guitarist Bob BrozmanApril 23, 2013 – Robert Charles “Bob” Brozman was born to a Jewish family living on Long Island, New York, United States. He began playing the guitar when he was 6.

He performed in a number of styles, including gypsy jazz, calypso, blues, ragtime, Hawaiian music, and Caribbean music. He also collaborated with musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds, from India, Africa, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Réunion. He has been called “an instrumental wizard” and “a walking archive of 20th Century American music”. Brozman maintained a steady schedule throughout the year, touring constantly throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. He recorded numerous albums and has won the Guitar Player Readers’ Poll three times in the categories Best Blues, Best World and Best Slide Guitarist. In 1999, Brozman and Woody Mann founded International Guitar Seminars, which hosts over 120 students annually at sites in California, New York, and Canada. From 2000 to 2005 his collaborations landed in the European Top 10 for World Music five times. Continue reading Bob Brozman 4/2013

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Richie Havens 4/2013

Richie HavensApril 22, 2013 – Richard Pierce Havens (January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013), known as Richie Havens, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. His music encompassed elements of folk, soul, and rhythm and blues. He is best known for his intense and rhythmic guitar style (often in open tunings), soulful covers of pop and folk songs, and his opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock. Richie Havens sang every song he knew when he was called in to open legendary Woodstock Festival in August 1969.

The Brooklyn born 6’6″ tall singer came out of a mixture of folk, blues, gospel and soul that he fine tuned during the sixties in New York’s Greenwich Village. A local celebrity he was originally scheduled as the fifth performer for the festival, but long artist travel delays forced him to play for 3 hours on end. Previously only regionally known, he came upon the world stage when he ran out of tunes and improvised his performance of ‘Freedom’ based on and incorporated into the spiritual ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child‘, made famous by Nina Simone.

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Chrissy Amphlett 4/2013

The Divinyls

April 21, 2013 – Chrissy Amphlett was born on October 25, 1959. She grew up in Geelong, Australia as a singer and dancer and left home as a teenager to travel around England, France and Spain where she was imprisoned for three months for singing on the streets.

In 1976, Amphlett played the role of Linda Lips in the R-rated musical Let My People Come. In 1980 back in Australia, Amphlett met Mark McEntee at a concert at the Sydney Opera House in 1980 and they formed Divinyls with Jeremy Paul (Air Supply).

After several years performing in Sydney, they recorded several songs for the film Monkey Grip, in which Amphlett also acted. Amphlett made her film debut in Monkey Grip (1982) in a supporting role as the temperamental lead singer of a rock band. Monkey Grip’s author, Helen Garner, claimed that the film’s director preferred Amphlett in the role of Jane Clifton as “Clifton was neither good looking enough or a good enough singer to play herself.”

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Scott Miller 4/2013

scott millerApril 15, 2013 – Scott Miller was born on April 4th 1960; he committed suicide April 15, 2013, aged 53.

Miller’s father recorded his son singing the theme from the TV show Have Gun—Will Travel when Scott was four years old. Soon Miller was making up his own songs to sing. By age nine, he was taking folk and classical guitar lessons from a man named Tiny Moore, who had played with Bob Wills.

By 1971, Miller had switched to rock, and he was in his first band just a year later. Throughout his childhood, he had been interested in anything having to do with recording, and when he turned fifteen he finally got the TEAC four-track machine he’d been coveting. Like many others his age, Scott Miller loved the Beatles, the space program, and those shows that counted down to the number one song for the week. He started making his own countdown lists when he was twelve. Continue reading Scott Miller 4/2013

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George Jackson 4/2013

george jacksonApril 14, 2013 – George Jackson was born on March 12th 1945 in Indianola, Mississippi and moved with his family to Greenville at the age of five. He sang southern soul from the 1960s into the 1980s. As a writer, he provided scores of songs for Goldwax and Fame in the 1960s and Hi and Sounds Of Memphis in the 1970s. As a singer, he had a versatile tenor that was influenced by Sam Cooke, and released many records over the years, for a host of different labels, but his recordings never made him a star.

His songwriter relationship with Malaco Records, however saw him pen material for dozens of artists, such as “One Bad Apple” for the Osmonds, “Old Time Rock & Roll” for Bob Seeger and “The Only Way Is Up”, which became a UK No.1 for Yazz and Coldcut, having been written originally for Otis Clay.

Jackson recorded dozens of singles in the 1960s but made his mark as a writer, beginning with FAME Studios. He later was a songwriter for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. When Malaco bought Muscle Shoals Sound, they hired Jackson to write songs.

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Chi Cheng 4/2013

chi chengApril 13, 2013 – Chi Cheng was born on July 15th 1970 in Davis, California, to Jeanne and Yin Yan Cheng. His father, a prominent Stockton cardiologist, was a Chinese immigrant. Cheng graduated from Tokay High School and attended California State University in Sacramento, enrolling in 1989. He worked on campus, wrote poetry, and played as the original full time bassist of the alternative metal band Deftones from Sacramento, founded in 1988.

Deftones released seven albums, with three Platinum: Adrenaline, Around the Fur, and White Pony and one Gold certification for Deftones.

Their many hit singles include “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”, “Change (In the House of Flies)”, “Minerva” and “Hole in the Earth”. Chi was also the author of a collection of poetry titled The Bamboo Parachute released in 2000 as a spoken word album. Cheng gave proceeds from the CD to various charities and to buy musical instruments for kids in the Sacramento area. He was a practicing Buddhist and maintained an interest in Taoism and Shamanism. In addition to his conversion to Buddhism during his college years, he also became a vegetarian.

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Don Blackman 4/2013

Don BlackmanApril 11, 2013 – Don Blackman was born on September 1st 1953 in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

A childhood neighbor was Charles McPherson, and while still a teenager (15) he played in McPherson’s ensemble with Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. At the beginning of the 1970s, he played electric piano with Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Roy Ayers, before becoming a member of Lenny White’s group Twennynine, for whom he penned songs such as “Peanut Butter” and “Morning Sunrise”, key pieces in Jamaica Queens’ ’70s’ jazz-funk explosion.

He released his self-titled debut solo album in 1982 on Arista Records, including the songs “Holding You, Loving You”, “Heart’s Desire” and “Since You’ve Been Away So Long” that became minor hits in Europe.

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Phil Ramone 3/2013

phil ramoneMarch 30, 2013 – Philip “Phil” Ramone was born January 5th 1934 in South Africa but grew up in Brooklyn, New York. As a child in South Africa, he was a musical prodigy, beginning to play the violin at age three and performing for Princess Elizabeth at age ten. In the late 1940s he trained as a classical violinist at the Juilliard School, and opened his own recording studio before he was 20. He became a naturalized citizen of the USA on December 14th 1953.

A very talented recording engineer, record producer, violinist and composer, he co-founded A & R Recording, Inc. a recording studio with business partner Jack Arnold in 1958.

His early work in producing and engineering was with jazz artists, working on John Coltrane records and acting as engineer for the landmark Getz/Gilberto album in 1964, for which he won his first Grammy. He transitioned during the 1960s to working with folk-rock, pop-rock, and R&B acts such as Peter, Paul and Mary, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, first primarily as an engineer, and later as a producer. Continue reading Phil Ramone 3/2013

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Derek Watkins 3/2013

Derek WatkinsMarch 22, 2013 – Derek Watkins (Session musician) was born in Reading, Berkshire, England on March 2nd 1945. His horn is heard on the Beatles’ classics ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’, and Dizzy Gillespie called him “Mr Lead”.

The Watkins’ family was certainly a musical family, Derek’s great-grandfather, William Watkins was a brass player in Wales with the Salvation Army band, whilst Derek’s grandfather George taught brass at Reading University, and became a founder member and conductor of the Spring Gardens Brass Band in Reading, England, until succeeded by Derek’s father, Ted.
Derek was initially taught to play the cornet by his father at the age of 4, and went on to play that instrument in the brass band, winning several musical awards. He also played with his father’s dance band until he turned a professional trumpet player at the age of 17.

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Daevid Allen 3/2013

Daevid AllenMarch 13, 2015 – Daevid Allen, was born Christopher David Allen on 13 January 1938 in Melbourne, Australia.

In 1960, inspired by the Beat Generation writers he had discovered while working in a Melbourne bookshop, Allen traveled to Paris, where he stayed at the Beat Hotel, moving into a room recently vacated by Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. While selling the International Herald Tribune around Le Chat Qui Pêche and the Latin Quarter, he met Terry Riley and also gained free access to the jazz clubs in the area.

In 1961 Allen traveled to England and rented a room at Lydden, near Dover, where he soon began to look for work as a musician. He first replied to a newspaper advertisement for a guitar player to join Dover-based group the Rolling Stones (no connection with the later famous band of that name) who had lost singer/guitarist Neil Landon, but did not join them. After meeting up with William S. Burroughs, and inspired by philosophies of Sun Ra, he formed free jazz outfit the Daevid Allen Trio (‘Daevid’ having been adopted as an affectation of David), which included his landlord’s son, 16-year-old Robert Wyatt. They performed at Burroughs’ theatre pieces based on the novel The Ticket That Exploded.

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Clive Burr 3/2013

Clive BurrMarch 12, 2013 – Clive Burr (Iron Maiden drummer) was born in London on March 8th 1957.

Previously a member of Samson, he joined Iron Maiden in ’79. An acquaintance of then-Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton, he played on their first 3 records: Iron Maiden, Killers and their breakthrough release The Number of the Beast, but left the band in 1982 due to Iron Maiden’s tour schedule and his personal health problems. Clive co-wrote one song on The Number of the Beast, “Gangland”, and another song, “Total Eclipse”, that was cut from the album and showed up as the b-side of the “Run to the Hills” single, and later on the Number Of The Beast remastered CD re-release. He also appeared on “The Number of the Beast” and “Run To The Hills” videos.

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Bobby Smith 3/2013

Bobby SmithMarch 16, 2013 – Bobby Smith was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 10, 1936. He became the principal lead singer of the classic Motown group, The Spinners at the group’s inception in 1954.

The group, first called The Domingoes, was formed at Ferndale High School, where Bobby took over from James Edwards who lasted only 2 weeks. The Spinners also known as the Detroit Spinners or the Motown Spinners, had their first hit, with Bobby singing lead, “That’s What Girls Are Made For” in 1961, (which has been inaccurately credited to the group’s mentor and former Moonglows lead singer, the late Harvey Fuqua).

Over the years, the group earned half a dozen Grammy award nominations and around a dozen gold records including “Truly Yours”, “I’ll Always Love You”,in 1965. “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)”. In 1974 they scored their only No.1 hit with “Then Came You”, (sung by Smith, in a collaboration with superstar Dionne Warwick).

Smith sang lead on most of the group’s Motown material during the 1960s, and almost all of the group’s pre-Motown material on Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records label, and also on The Spinners’ biggest Atlantic Records hits. These included “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)”. In 1974, they scored their only #1 Pop hit with “Then Came You”

Despite the fact that Bobby Smith led on many of the group’s biggest hits, many have erroneously credited most of the group’s success to only one of its three lead singers, the late Philippé Wynne. (Henry Fambrough also sang lead on many of the Spinners’ songs.) The confusion between Smith and Wynne may be due to the similarities in their voices, and the fact that they frequently shared lead vocals on many of those hits.

In fact Wynne was many times inaccurately credited for songs that Smith actually sang lead on, such as by the group’s label, Atlantic Records, on their Anthology double album collection (an error corrected in the group’s later triple CD set, The Chrome Collection). Throughout a succession of lead singers (Wynne, John Edwards, G. C. Cameron etc.), Smith’s lead voice had always been The Spinners’ mainstay.

With the March 16, 2013 death of Bobby Smith at age 76, from pneumonia and influenza, as well as fellow Spinners members C. P. Spencer in 2004, Billy Henderson in 2007, and bass singer Pervis Jackson in 2008, Henry Fambrough is now the last remaining original member of the group. Fambrough may still be performing with a current day line-up of the Spinners.

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Peter Banks 3/2013

peter_banks2March 7, 2013 – Peter Banks (Yes) was born Peter Brockbanks on July 15th 1947 in Barnet, North London. He learned to play the guitar on an acoustic his dad bought for him and banjo as a sidekick.

Banks started his career in music with The Nighthawks in 1963 and played his first concert at the New Barnet Pop Festival before leaving that band to join The Devil’s Disciples in 1964. The band consisted of Banks on guitar, John Tite on vocals, Ray Alford on bass and Malcolm “Pinnie” Raye on drums. They recorded two songs on an acetate, Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” (a hit for the Stones a little later) and Graham Gouldman’s (10CC) “For Your Love” which would be a hit record for The Yardbirds one year later. These two songs can be found on Banks’ archival album Can I Play You Something. Continue reading Peter Banks 3/2013

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Alvin Lee 3/2013

Alvin Lee 68March 6, 2013 – Alvin Lee,(Ten Years After) born Graham Anthony Barnes on Dec. 19, 1944, was a truly inspired blues rock guitarist-vocalist, whose performance with Ten Years After during Woodstock 1969, catapulted him into superstardom. The song “I’m Going Home” became legendary and his speed earned him the title “The Fastest Guitarist in the West”. A lifelong search for freedom resulted in more than 20 albums of superb blues rock. Ten Years After would ultimately tour the US twenty-eight times in seven years – more than any other UK band.

He was born in Nottingham and attended the Margaret Glen-Bott School in Wollaton. He began playing guitar at the age of 13 and in 1960, Lee along with Leo Lyons formed the core of the band Ten Years After. Influenced by his parents’ collection of jazz and blues records, it was the advent of rock and roll that sparked his interest.

He began to play professionally in 1962, in a band named the Jaybirds, they began that year to perform in the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany. After a couple of name changes by 1966 they had finally decided on the name Ten Years After.

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Bobby Rogers 3/2013

bobby rogersMarch 3, 2013 – Bobby Rogers (The Miracles) was born on February 19, 1940, on the same day and in the same hospital as his future singing partner Smokey Robinson. While not in the original version of the Miracles that formed in 1955 (then known as the Five Chimes), he joined a year later when another member dropped out.

The group auditioned for Brunswick Records, including label songwriter Barry Gordy, but were rejected. Gordy however soon followed up with them and, in 1958, recorded their first single, Got a Job. The record, released on End, didn’t chart but, at Robinson’s urging, Gordy decided to start his own label, Tamla Records. The Miracles first few singles for Tamla were licensed out to other labels and failed to score. It was in 1960 when the group released Shop Around/Who’s Lovin’ You, that their career took off. The song topped the R&B singles chart for eight weeks and made it to number 2 on the Hot 100.

Two years later, they scored again with You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me (1962/#1 R&B/#8 Pop) that started a long string of hits that would span into the early-70’s, including Mickey’s Monkey, Ooo Baby Baby, The Tracks of My Tears, Going to a Go-Go, I Second That Emotion, Baby Baby Don’t Cry and their only number 1 pop hit, Tears of a Clown.

At the same time, each of the members of the Miracles were also writing songs that were recorded by other members of the Motown roster, including The Way You Do the Things You Do which Rogers and Robinson wrote and was a the first hit for the Temptations.

In 1972, Smokey Robinson left the group and was replaced by Billy Griffin as the lead singer. For many groups, the loss of their most visible member would mean the end, but not the Miracles, who struck out with their new line-up and recasting their sound to the 70’s. In 1974, they hit the R&B top ten with Do It Baby (#4 R&B/#13 Pop) and, a year later, topped the pop charts with Love Machine (Part 1) (1975/#1 Pop/ #5 R&B).

When the group disbanded in the late 1970s, Rogers started an interior design business. But even after their hitmaking days, the Miracles continued to tour and occasionally record with Rogers and Ronnie White as the consistent members. The original lineup reconvened for the Motown 25 television special and, in 1993, a 35th anniversary compilation album once again reignited interest in the group.

In late 2006, Bobby re-united with original Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore for the group’s first-ever extended interview on the Motown DVD release, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: The Definitive Performances.

Rogers continued to perform throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe with members Dave Finley, Tee Turner, and Mark Scott in the current incarnation of The Miracles, which made him, as of 2009, the longest-serving original Miracles member. On March 20, 2009, Bobby was in Hollywood to be honored along with the other surviving original members of the Miracles (Smokey Robinson, Claudette Robinson and Pete Moore) as they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also on hand were Gloria White, the wife of original Miracles member Ronnie White who is deceased (White is responsible for discovering Motown artist Stevie Wonder), and Bill Griffin was in attendance. He replaced Smokey Robinson when he left the group in the early 1970s.

Rogers’ cousin, Claudette Rogers, was also a member of the Miracles, and later married Smokey Robinson. Bobby Rogers stayed with the group, through every lineup, from 1956 through 2011 when he was forced to leave because of poor health and the Miracles disbanded for good.

Bobby Rogers died on March 3, 2013, at the age of 73, due to complications of diabetes. Nine days later, on March 12, 2013 on their website, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame paid tribute to Bobby with the article, “Remembering Bobby Rogers of The Miracles”.

His final honor had come with the Rock Hall induction in 2012 with fellow member Claudette Rogers-Robinson

Over his 56 years with the Miracles, Bobby has been on all their hit singles including their 1960 single “Shop Around”, which was Motown’s first number one hit on the R&B singles chart, and was also Motown’s first million selling hit single. Other hit singles include “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”, “My Girl Has Gone”, “I Second That Emotion”, “Mickey’s Monkey”, “Going to a Go-Go”, “Ooo Baby Baby”, “Tracks of My Tears”, “Baby Baby Don’t Cry”, and “Tears of a Clown”. Referred to as Motown’s “soul supergroup”, the Miracles recorded 26 Top 40 hits and 6 top 20 singles.

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Jewel Akens 3/2013

Jewel AkensMarch 1, 2013 – Jewel Akens was born September 12, 1933 in Houston, Texas, the seventh of nine children in a working-class family. He became interested in music early in life, singing for the church choir as a child. In 1950, Akens moved with his family from Texas to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Fremont High School. There, he met his future wife, Eddie Mae, whom he married in 1952.

Akens began his career in the late 1950s, working with Eddie Daniels and guitar legend Eddie Cochran, and later recorded singles with the Four Dots doo-wop group.

In 1965, he was singing with an ensemble called the Turnarounds when record producer Herb Newman brought them “The Birds and the Bees,” written by his teenage son. The rest of the group disliked the tune, but Akens decided to record it solo. It became an instant hit, rising to the No. 3 spot on the Billboard pop chart in 1965.

“Let me tell you ’bout the birds and the bees, and the flowers and the trees,” went the catchy tune, which was later covered by Dean Martin and others.

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Richard Street 2/2013

richard streetFebruary 27, 2013 – Richard Street (The Temptations) was born on October 5, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan.

Born and raised  in Motown, he was the first member of the Temptations to actually be a native of the city which served as Motown’s namesake and hometown; all of the previous members were born and at least partially raised in the southern United States. He was a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993.

Street was the lead singer of an early Temptations predecessor, Otis Williams & the Distants, and took the spotlight on their local hit “Come On”. The Distants also included future Temptations Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Elbridge “Al” Bryant, who left The Distants and their record deal with Johnnie Mae Matthews’ Northern Records to form The Elgins (later The Temptations) with Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. After their departure, Matthews had Street briefly lead a new Distants group in the early 1960s.

During the mid-1960s, Street performed with a Motown act called The Monitors, who had a hit in 1965 titled “Say You” which the Temptations included on one of their albums, and a minor hit with 1966’s “Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)”.

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Dan Toler 2/2013

dantolerFeb 25, 2013- Dan Toler (Allman Brothers Band) aka “Dangerous Dan Toler” was born in Connersville, Indiana on September 23, 1948.

Toler first entered the extended Allman Brothers Band family as a member of Dickey Betts’ Great Southern in the late 1970s. Toler played guitar in the group during one of The Allman Brothers band’s hiatuses in the late ’70s and appears on the classic Betts albums Dickey Betts & Great Southern and Atlanta’s Burning Down.

When The Allman Brothers Band reformed in 1979, Betts brought Toler into the fold, reinstating the band’s trademark twin guitar approach for the first time since Duane Allman’s death in 1971. Toler appeared on The Allman Brothers Band’s Enlightened Rogues(1979), Reach for the Sky (1980) and Brothers of the Road (1981) before the group split for a second time in 1982. His brother Frankie Toler later joined the band in the ‘80s after founding drummer Jaimoe disgracefully was dismissed from the group.

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Magic Slim 2/2013

Magic SlimFebruary 21, 2013 – Magic Slim was born Morris Holt on August 7, 1937 in Torrance near Grenada, Mississippi. The son of sharecroppers, he followed blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf to Chicago, claiming and developing his own place in the Chicago blues scene.

He gave up the piano and turned to guitar after losing his right pinky finger in a cotton gin accident at age 13. In 1955 he moved to Chicago with his friend and mentor Magic Sam. The elder, Magic Sam/Samuel Maghett let Morris play bass in his band, and gave him his nickname Magic Slim.

However, he soon returned to Mississippi to work and got his younger brother Nick interested in playing bass.

By 1965 he was back in Chicago and in 1970 brother Nick joined him in his group, the Teardrops. Slim’s recording career began in 1966, with the song “Scufflin'”, followed by a number of singles leading into the mid 1970s.

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Kevin Ayers 2/2013

Kevin AyersFebruary 18, 2013- Kevin Ayers (Soft Machine) was born August 16, 1944 in Herne Bay, Kent, the son of journalist, poet and BBC producer Rowan Ayers, who later originated the BBC2 rock music program The Old Grey Whistle Test.

After his parents divorced and his mother married a civil servant, Ayers spent most of his childhood in Malaysia, where, he would later admit, he discovered a fondness for the slow and easy life.

At age 12, he returned to Britain and settled in Canterbury. There, he became a fledgling musician and founder of the “Canterbury sound”, an often whimsical English take on American psychedelia that merged jazz, folk, pop and nascent progressive rock. As psychedelic rock songwriter, guitarist and bassist, he was quickly drafted into the Wilde Flowers, a band that featured Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper.

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Tony Sheridan 2/2013

tony sheridanFeb 16, 2013 – Tony Sheridan was born Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity  was born May 21, 1940 in Norwich, England. To the rest of the world he was best known as the only non-Beatle to appear as lead singer on a Beatles recording which charted as a single, even though the record was labelled as being with “The Beat Brothers”. In Europe he was at times a superstar.

In his early life, Sheridan was influenced by his parents’ interest in classical music, and by age seven, he had learned to play the violin. He eventually came to play guitar, and in 1956, formed his first band. He showed enough talent that he soon found himself playing in London’s “Two I’s” club for some six months straight. In 1958, aged 18, he began appearing on Oh Boy, made by the ITV contractor ABC, playing electric guitar on such early rock classics as “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Glad All Over”, “Mighty Mighty Man” and “Oh Boy!”. He was soon employed backing a number of singers, reportedly including Gene Vincent and Conway Twitty while they were in England. In 1958 Johnny Foster sought to recruit Sheridan as a guitar player in Cliff Richard’s backing band (soon renamed the Shadows), but after failing to find him at the 2i’s Coffee Bar opted for another guitarist who was there, Hank Marvin.

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Kevin Peek 2/2013

Kevin PeekFebruary 14, 2013 – Kevin Peek (Sky) was born Dec 21, 1946 in Adelaide, Australia. He initially played classical percussion in the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music, before teaching himself the guitar.

In 1967 Peek formed a Psychedelic pop, progressive rock group, James Taylor Move but left by May 1968, moving to London. He returned to Adelaide, Australia, to join a newly formed rock band Quatro which, despite a contract from England’s Decca Records, proved artistically unsuccessful.

For a time, following their move to London, he and his fellow Adelaide-born bandmates—guitarist Terry Britten, bassist Alan Tarney, and drummer Trevor Spencer—made their livings as session musicians together, playing with everyone from the New Seekers and Mary Hopkin (Earth Song, Ocean Song) to Cliff Richard, whose regular backing band they became on stage and on record during the 1970s. Peek also worked with Manfred Mann, Lulu, Tom Jones, Jeff Wayne (War of the Worlds), and Shirley Bassey, among others. He also wrote the theme music for the internationally-broadcast “Singapore Girl” television advertisements for Singapore Airlines.

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Rick Huxley 2/2013

Rick HuxleyFebruary 11, 2013 – Rick Huxley  (Dave Clark Five) was born on August 5th 1940 in Dartford, Kent, England. He joined the Dave Clark Five in 1958 and played on all of the band’s hits including “Glad All Over” and “Bits and Pieces”.

For a time in the mid-’60s, in the middle of the British Invasion, Rick Huxley was one of the two or three best-known bass players in all of rock & roll, his name recognition lagging only a little behind that of Paul McCartney, and probably much wider than that of the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, the Hollies’ Eric Haydock, the Who’s John Entwistle, or the Kinks’ Peter Quaife. As part of the Dave Clark Five, and its longest-serving member after Clark, Huxley was also a veteran musician with six years under his belt before the group broke internationally.

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Reg Presley 2/2013

The TroggsFebruary 4, 2013 – Reg Presley (The Troggs) was born Reginald Maurice Ball on 12 June 1941, was  the lead singer with the 1960s British rock and roll band The Troggs, whose best known hit was “Wild Thing”, written by actor Jon Voight’s brother Wes (James Wesley) who went by the stage name Chip Taylor.

Presley, whose stage name was given to him in 1965 by the New Musical Express journalist and publicist Keith Altham, was born in Andover, Hampshire He joined the building trade on leaving school and became a bricklayer. He kept at this occupation until “Wild Thing” reached the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart in 1966.

Wild Thing made it to no.2 in England, but reached no.1 in the US as it sold 13 million copies worldwide. Presley then wrote the band’s only UK number one single with the follow-up “With a Girl Like You”. He also wrote the song “Love Is All Around”, which was featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Other hits from their short-lived career (1965-1968) were ‘ I can’t control myself’ and ‘Anyway that you want me’.

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Cecil Womack 2/2013

Cecil WomackFebruary 1, 2013 – Cecil Womack aka Zekuumba Zekkariyas was born on September 25th 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his brothers Bobby, Harry, Friendly and Curtis, began as a gospel group appearing on the gospel circuit in the mid 50s where they were seen by Sam Cooke of the Soul Stirrers. As Cooke’s protégés they changed their name to The Valentinos and in 1961 began to sing and record for secular audiences, producing hits such as “It’s All Over Now” and “Lookin’ for a Love”.

Cooke’s death at a L.A. motel in December 1964, had dramatic consequences for the Womack Brothers as SAR folded and Bobby Womack, who was now married to Sam Cooke’s widow, Barbara, left the group for a solo career. The Valentinos briefly disbanded before regrouping as a quartet in 1966, signing with Chess Records where they recorded the Northern Soul hit, “Sweeter than the Day Before”, written by Cecil Womack and Mary Wells. However, the group got dropped from Chess in 1968 after only two singles and Cecil Womack who had married former Motown artiste Mary Wells decided to leave the Valentinos.

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Steve Knight 1/2013

Steve Knight 1January 19, 2013 – Steve Knight was born on May 12, 1935 in New York to artist parents. From 1938–1950 his family lived in Woodstock, New York. In 1950, his father became a professor at Columbia University and moved the family to New York City. In 1952, Knight graduated from high school and enrolled at Columbia later that year. He stayed at Columbia for most of the 1950s (1952–1959) studying art, music and psychology. He earned a B.S. degree majoring in psychology, and had one year of graduate work in psychology.

From 1959 to 1968, Steve Knight recorded with or was a member of various bands including  The Feenjon Group, The Peacemakers, Devil’s Anvil and Wings (obviously not Paul McCartney’s group). In 1969, producer/vocalist/bassist Felix Pappalardi organized the heavy rock band Mountain. The initial line-up included Leslie West (guitar/vocals) and N.D. Smart (drums).

Even though he became the keyboardist, Knight was really a multi-instrumentalist, mastering both string and wind instruments. Prior to release of Mountain’s debut album, Climbing!, Pappalardi, who had known Knight from prior musical affiliations, added him to the line-up on keyboards. Corky Laing replaced Smart on drums. The band enjoyed a great deal of recording and touring success in the early 1970s including 3 gold albums, but called it quits in 1972. He performed at the infamous Woodstock Festival.

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Nic Potter 1/ 2013

Nic Potter (1)January 16, 2013 – Nic Potter was born on 18 October 1951 in Swindon, England.

He left school at 15, originally to train in carpentry. At 16, he joined a late lineup of The Misunderstood however and recorded on their 1969 LP Golden Glass.  At the same time as drummer Guy Evans, he joined Van Der Graaf Generator, when they were on a brief hiatus.

When Van der Graaf decided to reform after the release The Aerosol Grey Machine. When earlier bassist Keith Ellis decided to join Juicy Lucy, Evans recommended that Potter join as his replacement.

He first appeared on the album “The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other”, also playing some electric guitar on a few tracks in addition to his usual bass. He left the band in 1970 during the recording of their next album, ‘H to He, Who Am The Only One’, on which he recorded 3 tracks.

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John Wilkinson 1/2013

John-WilkinsonJanuary 11, 2013 – John Wilkinson was born on July 3rd 1945 in Springfield, Missouri.

John was drawn to music very early. At the age of 10, he famously sneaked into Elvis Presley’s dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, telling Elvis, “you can’t play guitar worth a damn.” Elvis was amused and impressed with the kid and predicted they would meet again. They did. After playing in a high school band with his classmates called, “The Coachmen,” John went on to make a name for himself as a folk and country singer and guitar player.

He traveled around the country playing with such groups as , The Goodtime Singers, Greenwood County Singers, and The New Christy Minstrels.

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Sugarfoot Bonner 1/2013

leroy-bonnerJanuary 27, 2013 – Sugarfoot Bonner was born Leroy on March 14th 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Cincinnati, the oldest of 14 children. He ran away from home as a young teenager and played the harmonica on street corners for change.

He joined the The Ohio Untouchables when they regrouped in 1964. Leroy’s rip-it-up guitar work and taste for something funky the band went on to become The Ohio Players, with Leroy as their front man, lead singer and guitarist.

Their first big hit single “Funky Worm”, reached No.1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1973. Other hits followed, including “Who’d She Coo?” and their double No.1 hit songs “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire” in January 1976.

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Patti Page 1/2013

January 1, 2013 – Patti Page was born Clara Ann Fowler on November 8, 1927 in Claremore, Oklahoma (although some sources give Muskogee ) into a large and poor family. Her father worked on the MKT railroad, while her mother and older sisters picked cotton. As she related on television many years later, the family went without electricity, and therefore she could not read after dark. She was raised in Foraker, Hardy, Muskogee and Avant, Oklahoma, before attending Daniel Webster High School in Tulsa, from which she graduated in 1945.

Clara Ann Fowler started off her career as a songstress with Al Clauser and his Oklahoma Outlaws at KTUL. Fowler became a featured singer on a 15-minute radio program on radio station KTUL, Tulsa, Oklahoma, at age 18. The program was sponsored by the “Page Milk Company.” On the air, Fowler was dubbed “Patti Page,” after the Page Milk Company. In 1946, Jack Rael, a saxophone player and band manager, came to Tulsa to do a one-night show. Rael heard Page on the radio and liked her voice. Rael asked her to join the band he managed, the “Jimmy Joy Band.” Rael would later become Page’s personal manager, after leaving the band.

Page toured with the “Jimmy Joy Band” throughout the country in the mid-1940s. The band eventually ended up in Chicago, Illinois, in 1947. In Chicago, Page sang with a small group led by popular orchestra leader, Benny Goodman. This helped Page gain her first recording contract with Mercury Records the same year. She became Mercury’s “girl singer”.

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