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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 WeldonJ.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.

Along with a number of other young Tulsa musicians, Cale moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, where he found employment as a studio engineer. While living in Los Angeles he cut a demo single in 1966 (in those days professional demos were actual 45 rpm vinyl singles) with Liberty Records of his composition “After Midnight”. He distributed copies of this single to his Tulsa musician friends living in Los Angeles, many of whom were successfully finding work as session musicians. Although he managed to find a regular spot at the Whisky a Go Go (which is where, according to his own testimony, Elmer Valentine suggested he call himself J.J. Cale to avoid confusion with John Cale of the Velvet Underground he found little success as a recording artist and, not being able to make enough money as a studio engineer, he sold his guitar and returned to Tulsa, where he joined a band with Tulsa musician Don White.

In 1970, it came to his attention that Eric Clapton had recorded a cover of “After Midnight” on his debut album in 1970. As a result of this, it was suggested to Cale that he should take advantage of this publicity and cut a record of his own. His first album, Naturally, established his style, described by Los Angeles Times writer Richard Cromelin as a “unique hybrid of blues, folk and jazz, marked by relaxed grooves and Cale’s fluid guitar and laconic vocals. His early use of drum machines and his unconventional mixes lend a distinctive and timeless quality to his work and set him apart from the pack of Americana roots music purists.”

In his 2003 biography Shakey, Neil Young remarked, “Of all the players I ever heard, it’s gotta be Hendrix and JJ Cale who are the best electric guitar players.” In the 2005 documentary To Tulsa and Back: On Tour with J.J. Cale, Cale’s guitar style is characterized by Eric Clapton as “really, really minimal”, and he states precisely, “it’s all about finesse”.

His biggest U.S. hit single, “Crazy Mama”, peaked at #22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1972. In the 2005 documentary film To Tulsa and Back, Cale recounts the story of being offered the opportunity to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand to promote the song, which would have moved it higher on the charts. Cale declined when told he could not bring his band to the taping and would be required to lip-sync the words. Though he deliberately avoided the limelight (being temperamentally averse to celebrity) his influence as a musical artist has been widely acknowledged by figures such as Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Eric Clapton who described him as “one of the most important artists in the history of rock”. He is considered to be one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, a loose genre drawing on blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz.

Many songs written by Cale have been recorded by other artists, including “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton; “Call Me the Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayer, Johnny Cash and Bobby Bare; “Clyde” by Waylon Jennings and Dr. Hook; “I Got The Same Old Blues” by Captain Beefheart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Freddie King; and “Magnolia” by Beck, Lucinda Williams and Iron and Wine Jose Feliciano and Ben Bridwell.

Cale often acted as his own producer, engineer and session player. His vocals, sometimes whispery, would be buried in the mix. He attributed his unique sound to being a recording mixer and engineer, saying, “Because of all the technology now you can make music yourself and a lot of people are doing that now. I started out doing that a long time ago and I found when I did that I came up with a unique sound.”

In 2008 he, along with Clapton, received a Grammy Award for their album, The Road to Escondido.

J.J. Cale died at the age of 74 in La Jolla, California, on July 26, 2013, after suffering a heart attack.

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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). He was married to Christine. He left between 1986 and 1987 after their 6th album Shout.

Myers was the third and most prominent drummer of the band Devo when he joined in 1976 to replace Jim Mothersbaugh.

Myers was the band’s drummer from 1976 to 1985 during Devo’s heyday. The group was formed in Akron, Ohio, in the early 1970s by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale, and introduced themselves to the world in 1977 by making a frenetic version of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”

Casale told The Associated Press on Wednesday that without Myers, Devo never would have reached the heights it did, calling him the best drummer he has ever played with.

“We were mostly in basements and garages writing songs. It was Alan that brought everything to life,” Casale said. “That was the catalyst where everything clicked.”

He called Myers “the human metronome.”

“People watching him thought we were using a drum machine,” Casale said. “Nobody had ever drummed like that.”

Casale described meeting and playing with Myers for the first time in 1976. After their first session ended, Casale — who had been facing away from Myers — turned around to see the drummer standing on one leg with his eyes closed, practicing the meditative Chinese martial art of Tai Chi.

“I thought, ‘Man, this guy really is Devo. He fits right in,'” Casale said, adding that Tai Chi was one of the drummer’s greatest passions. “Some bands would be doing drugs and drinking. Alan would find quiet places backstage and do a full session of Tai Chi.”

Devo is short for devolution, the idea that man was devolving into its monkey state.

He left between 1986 and 1987 after the recording of the album ‘Shout’. According to the book “We Are Devo,” Myers cited a lack of creative fulfillment as his reason for leaving the group, something he had felt since Devo’s move to Los Angeles in the late ’70s. He was replaced by David Kendrick of Sparks. Among all of Devo’s drummers, he is the one most associated with the band and probably the most popular among Devo fans.

After he left Devo he recorded a demo with Babooshka, a band that was his girlfriend Greta Ionita’s brainchild, using live drums as well as electronic percussion similar to his last two albums with Devo. As of 2005, Myers remained active in the Los Angeles music scene. He had also played drums with the Asian-themed pop band, Jean Paul Yamamoto.

Since its founding, also in 2005, Myers’s band, Skyline Electric, played monthly shows in art galleries and clubs in Los Angeles. The line up at the time of Myers death included his wife, Christine (Sugiyama) Myers, and an assortment of other experimental musicians.

In 2010, Myers began playing in the experimental live ensemble of Swahili Blonde with his daughter, Laena Geronimo (Myers-Ionita).

He died from cancer on June 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Myers’ former bandmate Gerald Casale praised the drummer on Twitter as news of his death spread. The Devo founder called Myers “the most incredible drummer I had the privilege to play with for 10 years. Losing him was like losing an arm.”

In subsequent tweets, Casale wrote, “I begged him not to quit Devo. He could not tolerate being replaced by the Fairlight and autocratic machine music. I agreed . . . Alan, you were the best – a human metronome and then some.”

Drummer Josh Freese, who played in Devo from 1996-2012, has cited Myers as one of his major influences. “An underrated/brilliant drummer,” Freese tweeted. “Such an honor playing his parts w/Devo. Godspeed Human Metronome.”

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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.

Bland’s tormented crying style was still pretty rough around the edges before he entered the Army in late 1952. But his progress upon his 1955 return was remarkable; with saxist Bill Harvey’s band (featuring guitarist Roy Gaines and trumpeter Joe Scott) providing sizzling support, Bland’s assured vocal on the swaggering “It’s My Life Baby” sounds like the work of a new man. By now, Duke was headed by hard-boiled Houston entrepreneur Don Robey, who provided top-flight bands for his artists. Scott soon became Bland’s mentor, patiently teaching him the intricacies of phrasing when singing sophisticated fare (by 1962, Bland was credibly crooning “Blue Moon,” a long way from Beale Street).

Most of Bland’s savage Texas blues sides during the mid- to late ’50s featured the slashing guitar of Clarence Hollimon, notably “I Smell Trouble,” “I Don’t Believe,” “Don’t Want No Woman,” “You Got Me (Where You Want Me),” and the torrid “Loan a Helping Hand” and “Teach Me (How to Love You).” But the insistent guitar riffs guiding Bland’s first national hit, 1957’s driving “Farther Up the Road,” were contributed by Pat Hare, another vicious picker who would eventually die in prison after murdering his girlfriend and a cop. Later, Wayne Bennett took over on guitar, his elegant fretwork prominent on Bland’s Duke waxings throughout much of the ’60s.

Two Steps from the Blues The gospel underpinnings inherent to Bland’s powerhouse delivery were never more apparent than on the 1958 outing “Little Boy Blue,” a vocal tour de force that wrings every ounce of emotion out of the grinding ballad. Scott steered his charge into smoother material as the decade turned: the seminal mixtures of blues, R&B, and primordial soul on “I Pity the Fool,” the Brook Benton-penned “I’ll Take Care of You,” and “Two Steps From the Blues” were tremendously influential to a legion of up-and-coming Southern soulsters. Collected on the 1961 LP Two Steps from the Blues, they produced one of the classic full-lengths of modern blues.
Scott’s blazing brass arrangements upped the excitement ante on Bland’s frantic rockers “Turn on Your Love Light” in 1961 and “Yield Not to Temptation” the next year. But the vocalist was learning his lessons so well that he sounded just as conversant on soulful R&B rhumbas (1963’s “Call on Me”) and polished ballads (“That’s the Way Love Is,” “Share Your Love With Me”) as with an after-hours blues revival of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday Blues” that proved a most unlikely pop hit for him in 1962. With “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do,” “Ain’t Doing Too Bad,” and “Poverty,” Bland rolled through the mid-’60s, his superstar status diminishing not a whit.

In 1973, Robey sold his labels to ABC Records, and Bland was part of the deal. Without Scott and his familiar surroundings to lean on, Bland’s releases grew less consistent artistically, though His California Album in 1973 and Dreamer the next year boasted some nice moments (there was even an album’s worth of country standards). The singer re-teamed with his old pal B.B. King for a couple of mid-’70s albums that broke no new ground but further heightened Bland’s profile, while his solo work for MCA teetered closer and closer to MOR (Bland had often expressed his admiration for ultra-mellow pop singer Perry Como).

Bland began recording for Jackson, Mississippi’s Malaco Records in the mid-’80s. His pipes undeniably reflected the ravages of time, but he endured as a blues superstar of the loftiest order, resurfacing in 1998 with Memphis Monday Morning, and five years later with Blues in Memphis.

Bobby was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described him as “second in stature only to B.B. King as a product of Memphis’s Beale Street blues scene”.

He was 83 when he died in Memphis on June 23, 2013.

 

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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 went to the local school Alderman Davies Church in Wales Primary School and was a member of the Church Choir.
Gary’s first job was as an apprentice painter at BSC.

First he sang in the Vern Davies Band and as a 16 year old, he was a member of a local band called Smokestacks, made up of people from Neath and Port Talbot. After a couple of years, the band broke up and Gary who was the lead vocalist 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, which the prize was a recording contract.

Their first release was Supermarket Full Of Cans, and although it never took the Country by storm, it was widely acclaimed and the band went on to develop a ‘cult’ following from the albums they released, never hitting mainstream success.

In 1971, Gary moved to Wild Turkey which was formed by Glenn Cornick, previously of Jethro Tull. The group released two full length LPs (Battle Hymn (1971) and Turkey (1972) when the call came from Rick Wakeman who needed two singers for his “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” live extravaganza, and that’s how Pickford-Hopkins started to play high-voiced angel to Ashley Holt’s low-toned devil. The album sold  over 14 million copies worldwide. By now, Gary had a huge following for those who loved the husky voice that was associated with soul and blues.

This vocal combination proved so magical that Gary stayed on for the Caped Crusader’s next album, “Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table”, and then moved on away from stardom to play locally.

In 2003 he returned to a dimmed spotlight with a solo record, “GPH”, and was also involved in the “Journey” 30th anniversary celebration – only to back out again. His pinnacle of commercial success however was with Wakeman’s live album Journey to the Center of the Earth. The album went to the top of the British charts and number 3 in the U.S, followed by ‘The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table’

Gary recorded a number of solo projects during the rest of his career along with returning for a reunion stint with Wild Turkey that produced the albums Stealer of Years (1996) and You and Me in the Jungle (2006) along with a live album.

One of the finest singers of his generation, Gary Pickford-Hopkins never gained the recognition he deserved and he sadly died of jaw cancer on June 22, 2013 at the age of 65.

It’s been a rotten year for losing friends and Gary was one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet. We had so much fun both in the studio and on the road and he and Ashley made a great partnership in the mid-seventies.
I first saw Gary when he was singing for Wild Turkey and ear-marked him then to work alongside Ashley on Journey and he went on to sing on King Arthur as well.
From that time we have now lost David Measham (conductor) , David Hemmings (narrator) and now Gary. Also we have lost Martin Shields from the late seventies English Rock Ensemble.

I wish Gary all the peace that there is to offer him after his long battle with cancer and my heart goes out to his family and friends as indeed it does from all involved with the ERE.
His name will appear as a dedication alongside the two Davids when the official release of the full length studio version of Journey is released later this year.

Rick Wakeman
23th June 2013

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Joey
Covington
6/2013

joey-covingtonJune 4, 2013 – Joseph Edward “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 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, 16 went gold and platinum.

In the early to mid-’60s, he was playing with bands that opened shows for the Rolling Stones, Dave Clark 5, The Shangri-Las, Lee Dorsey, Lou Christie, Chad and Jeremy, Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners, among others, and a stint playing drums backing up Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars featuring acts such as the Supremes.

Covington settled in Los Angeles late 1966 and was quickly discovered and produced by famed producer/songwriter Kim Fowley as a singing drummer. The single released was a cover of The Who’s “Boris The Spider” with “I’ll Do Better Next Time” on the B side (the first song Covington ever wrote). He co-formed several bands in Los Angeles during that period. Tsong with Mickey Rooney Jr., and a yet-to-be-named band with Papa John Creach, Jimmy Greenspoon and Joe Schermie.

Papa John later was brought in by Joey to Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship and went on to a long solo recording career. Jimmy & Joe went on to become members of Three Dog Night.

A member of Jefferson Airplane, Joey at first co-formed Hot Tuna with Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady in late 1968 while Grace Slick was undergoing and recovering from throat node surgery. With Hot Tuna they opened shows for the Airplane. In early 1969 Joey was playing in both Hot Tuna and augmenting, then ultimately replacing Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden.

Covington appeared on their chart topping albums “Volunteers”, “Bark” and “Long Long John Silver”. Covington co-wrote Jefferson Airplane’s 1971 hit single “Pretty As You Feel” that reached number 60 on the charts and the 1976 Jefferson Starship hit single “With Your Love” that reached number 12 on the Billboard 100. He also recorded with members of Jefferson Airplane on their solo projects including Paul Kantner’s 1970 Jefferson Starship album “Blows Against The Empire”, Papa John Creach’s first solo album in 1971, and “Sunfighter” an album by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick released in November of 1971. It was Joey Covington who discovered violinist John Creach, gave him the nickname Papa, and brought him into the Jefferson Airplay family in 1970.

After leaving the Airplane in 1973 Covington released his solo album Fat Fandango and founded the San Francisco Allstars with former members of New Riders of the Purple Sage and other bands. He toured with the Allstars during the 1980s and 1990s. As a session player Covington recorded with Peter Kaukonen, Kim Fowley, Nick Gravenites, Juan Gabriel, Cristian Castro, Jaci Velasquez, and Jay Gordon. In 2006 he composed several songs for the artist Lauren and produced her album “Hideout Is a Crook’s Best Friend”.

The Early Years

Polka Bands and Strippers in Johnstown

Joey Covington was born Joseph Edward Michno on June 27, 1945 in Johnston, Pennsylvania. The third of six children he grew up near Johnston in the very small town of East Conemaugh. His father Louis had been a minor league baseball player projected to play in the majors before he was drafted into World War II. After the war, Louis became a truck driver and married Elizabeth (Betty) Sisco, an aspiring country singer. Joey Michno began playing drums at age 10 teaching himself by listening to the music of jazz percussionists Joe Morello, Cozy Cole, Sandy Nelson, Candido and Preston Epps. During his years at East Conemaugh High School he played tom toms in the marching band, learned rudimental drumming, and became the drum sergeant.

He began performing professionally in 1958 at age 13 playing drums in polka bands at VFW Lodges. As he was underage his mother and father had to chaperon his gigs. Without his parent’s knowledge he played drums in a strip joint called the Airway Club in Johnston, Pa. He beat on his Tom-toms while the strippers did their bump and grinds. At age 15 Joey decided he wanted make a career as a professional drummer.

The Vibra-Sonics

While in high school Covington joined the Johnston surf rock band called the Vibra-Sonics. The Vibra-Sonics were comprised of George Tweedy (lead), Bob Tweedy (rhythm), Bill Sabo (2nd lead, rhythm), Joe Colner (bass) and Joey Michno (drums and vocals). They won several battles of the bands and opened a show for Simon and Garfunkel. The Vibra-Sonics played shows throughout Western Pennsylvania in the early 1960s. In 1963 they lost all of their instruments when the Conneaut Lake Park nightspot that they played at, the Cowshed, burnt to the ground. They recorded a single for Ideal Records. Ideal was a Pittsburgh based label owned by Augie Bernardo that also released singles by the El-Reys, the Stereos, John Harrison & the Hustlers, and the Four Challengers. The Vibra-Sonic’s released the single “Drag Race” / “Thunder Storm” on Ideal Records in 1964. On Drag Race, surf song reminiscent of the garage band classic “Wipeout”, Joey played rapid fire snare. Both songs from the single have been reissued on two surf music compilations.

Graduating from high school at age 18 Michno faced the Vietnam era draft. The Navy offered him a chance to play tympani with a Navy band if he enlisted. But a terrible car accident, one night after a gig, took away that chance. In December of 1964 the Vibro-Sonics were returning from a gig in Latrobe, Pa when one of their cars was struck by another car driven by a drunk driver. Joseph Colner the 16 year old bassist was killed. Joey Michno suffered multiple fractures of his pelvis, right leg, and three toes. The driver of the car that struck the Vibro-Sonics was arrested for involuntary manslaughter, speeding, driving without a permit, and for fleeing the accident. Covington spent three months in a pelvic sling before he went home to his parent’s house to learn to walk again. His recovery took six months.

On the Road to Rock Stardom

In 1965 at age 20, Covington left home for New York City after his father gave him an ultimatum. Louis told Joey “son, if you’re gonna be a rock star, you’ve got a month to take your drums and get out on the road, or, if you’re gonna live at home, you’d better get a job and bring some money into the house.” Joey took on his father’s challenge. He took to the road in search of a professional drumming job. Joey grabbed a hundred bucks, packed up his grey marine Ludwig drum kit and bought a one-way bus ticket to New York City.

In New York Joey went to the Peppermint Lounge to see Joey D of the Starliters who wrote the hit song “Peppermint Twist”. Michno walked up to Joey D, introduced himself, and asked where he could find a gig. Joey D told him to contact his agent Sid Green. The next day Michno called on Mr. Green saying Joey D sent him. Green gave him a card and said I’ll call you if anything comes up. But Joey persisted. He told Green “I can’t go back to Johnstown, my father will make me get another kind of job, and I’m a great drummer, and I’m gonna be a star, and I’m not leaving your office until you find me a gig!.” Joey pulled out his Vibra-Sonics single and had Mr. Green listen to it. Green liked his fast drumming but told Joey to come back in a few years. He offered to buy Joey a ticket back to Johnstown. Joey was about to leave when the night club singer and pianist Danny Apollinar came into see Mr. Green. Appollinar told Sid that two members of his trio just quit and he needed a new drummer and bass player in a hurry for a gig in Fort Lauderdale in two days. Mr. Green said Danny I have a drummer right here who can play anything. Appollinar hired him on the spot for $200 a week plus room and board. Green waved his commission and told Joey to go be a star. After two days of rehearsals Joey Michno went on tour with Appollinar. With that experience he got more calls and went on the road in 1965 playing shows with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars, the Shangri’la’s, Billy Stewart, the Supremes, Donald Jenkins and the Delighters and the Shirelles.

The Fenways

In 1966 Sonny Di’Nunzio, leader of the Pittsburgh band the Fenways, called Joey offering him a steady gig, He remembered Joey from the Vibra-Sonics battle of the bands shows. The Fenways were the hot band in Pittsburgh in 1966. They had several hit singles on Pittsburgh radio including “ Be Careful Little Girl,” (1964), ”Nothing to Offer You” (1964), The Number One Song In The Country” (1964) and “Walk” (1965). They were regulars on Terry Lee’s Channel 11 Come Alive TV dance show and had opened for the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five. Joey joined the Fenways playing with them seven days a week at the Staircase, Mancini’s, and other Pittsburgh area clubs. They opened shows for the Shangri-La’s, Lee Dorsey, Lou Christie, Chad and Jeremy, and the Skyliners. Joey recorded four singles with the Fenways in 1966 that were released on Nick Cenci’s Co&Ce label. The singles were “I’m A Mover” / “Satisfied” and “A Go Go” / “I Move Around”

Go West Young Man

In the spring of 1967 Joey’s musician friend Louie called asking if he’d like to ride out to Los Angeles in his new Mercedes. Seeking a new adventure Joey hit the road again with his drum kit in tow. They cruised down Route 66 making it to Sunset Boulevard in four days. In L.A. Joey Michno changed his professional name to Joey Covington.

Looking for work at the L.A. musician’s union hall, Joey met another Western Pennsylvanian musician violinist John Creach. They put together a band and played a few gigs before Creach found work playing jazz at the Parision Room. Working with producer Kim Fowley Joey record several songs at a solo artist in 1967. He sang, wrote several songs, recorded his own arrangement of the Who’s “Boris the Spider”. Covington formed a band with pianist Jimmy Greenspoon who later became one of the founding members of Three Dog Night. When Greenspoon moved on Covington joined with Mickey Rooney Jr. to found the band Tsong that signed with MGM Records. Covington co-wrote two songs “Let’s Be Friends” and the Brit Pop single “Like We Were Before” that were released on the MGM album “Song” in 1970. During this time Covington dated Art Linkletter’s daughter Dianne.

Flying High with the Jefferson Airplane

In 1968 Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane heard Covington play at an L.A. club and invited him to meet the Airplane at their next Whiskey A Go Go gig. Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady invited Covington to jam with them at RCA Studios in L.A. Covington continued to jam with Jorma and Jack in L.A. The trio of Jorma, Jack and Covington played their first live shows together in L.A. during October 1968. Those appearances led to the formation of Hot Tuna in 1969.

Marty Balin contacted Covington in 1969 asking him to come to San Francisco to audition for Jefferson Airplane. Covington won the audition and moved to San Francisco. During 1969 he played Hot Tuna gigs with Jorma Kaukonen. He also played Jefferson Airplane shows drumming alongside the original drummer Spencer Dryden. Covington made his first appearance as the lone the Airplane drummer on Aug 2 1969 at the Pop Festival in Atlantic City. He missed the chance to play with the Airplane at Woodstock when he broke his leg. Joey made his first recordings with the Jefferson Airplane playing percussion on two tracks of their November 1969 release “Volunteers” that reached number 13 on the Billboard charts in 1970. In December of 1969 Covington performed with the Jefferson Airplane at the infamous Altamont Free Concert. Headlined by the Stones the concert drew 300,000 but was marred by one murder and three accidental deaths.

Spencer Dryden, the Jefferson Airplane’s original drummer, was fired from the band in February 1970 by a unanimous vote of the other members. Burned out by acid and Altamont, Dryden took some time off before he joined the New Riders of the Purple Sage in 1972. The Jefferson Airplane sent out a press release in April of 1970 announcing Joey Covington as their new drummer. He toured the U.S. and Europe with the Airplane in 1970.

Covington invited his friend Papa John Creach to sit in with the Airplane for a concert at Winterland in San Francisco on October 5, 1970. The Airplane members loved Papa John’s playing and made him a permanent member of the Airplane and Hot Tuna. Joey helped Papa John put together his first solo album by selecting the songs, hiring the musicians, playing drum, and writing the Papa John top 40 single “Janitor Drives a Cadillac”.

Blows Against the Empire

In December of 1970 Covington played drums on Paul Kantner’s “Blows Against the Empire” album that was the forerunner of Jefferson Starship. David Crosby. Graham Nash, Grace Slick, Jack Cassidy and several members of the Grateful Dead appeared on the album.

Barking Up the Right Tree

Covington recorded with the Airplane in the summer of 1971 on their album “Bark”. It was the first release on the band’s own label Grunt Records. Covington co-wrote and sang lead vocals on the single “Pretty As You Feel” which was the last Jefferson Airplane song to reach the Billboard 100. Covington also wrote and sang vocals on the whimsical track “Thunk”. He played drums on all eleven of the tracks. Bark was another commercial success reaching number 11 on the Billboard charts.

In 1972 Covington began to work on outside recording projects lessening his role with the Airplane. He recorded the album Black Kangaroo with Jorma Kaukonen’s brother Peter. Covington played on two tracks of the Airplane’s July 1972 album release “Long John Silver”. Joey play live concerts with the Airplane into 1973.

Going Solo

Wanting to work on his own projects Covington left the Airplane in 1973. He released a solo album entitled “Fat Fandango” on Grunt Records in 1973. Joey wrote all of the songs on the album and produced it. The Allmusic Guide reviewer wrote: “Fat Fandango by Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey Covington is a major revelation, a wonderful artifact from the day when record labels allowed certain bands their own imprint and side musicians a chance to fully express their artistry. ….This is a great, lost party album”.

Covington formed the San Francisco All Stars in 1978 with Steve Love of the New Riders of the Purple Sage and Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina. They toured the U.S. but never released any recordings. As who’s who of musicians and movie actors have been members of the All Stars including Slash, Spencer Davis, Rick Danko, Mike Finnegan, Skunk Baxter, Billy Roberts, Spencer Dryden, Paul Shortino, Jimmy Crespo, James Gurley, Brian May, Albert Collins, Joe Shermie, Mike Bloomfield, Fuzzy Knight, Joe Chambers, Bruce Willis, Kiefer Sutherland, Max Gail, Jr., and Gary Busey.

Joey Covington has composed songs recorded by Juan Gabriel, Pandora, Jaci Velasquez, and Cristian Castro and has played drums on records of Nick Gravenites Blue Star and Jay Gorden’s Jaywalking.

In the Pittsburgh Music Hall of Fame

The Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. But the Hall of Fame did not include Joey Covington saying he was not an original member. The Hall ignored the fact that Grace Slick was not an original member. They also ignored the fact the Covington recorded on three of the Airplane’s albums, wrote the Airplane’s last hit single, toured extensively with the band, recorded on solo projects with Paul Kanter and Grace Slick, brought Papa John Creach into the band, and was one of the founders of Hot Tuna. Pittsburgh Music History recognizes the achievements and talent of Joey Covington. From humble beginnings playing VFW polka gigs in Johnston, he took on his father’s challenge to earn a living as a drummer, went on the road and was invited by Marty Balin to become an important contributing member of one of the seminal rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s.

Tragic End

Joey Covington died in a car crash in Palm Springs, Calif.on June 4th 2013 at the age of 67. According to the Desert Sun newspaper, Covington, who was not wearing a seat belt, crashed into a retaining wall at a highway curve. His car flew off the road hitting an elevated highway. Joey’s wife believed that a heart attack or stroke caused him to drive off the road. He died on the scene.

He died at age 67 on June 4, 2013.

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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.

His day job also provided the inspiration for his biggest hit, “Cab Driving Man,” also the title of his CD in 1999.

For many years he played with his Flat Foot Boogie band at both the old and the new Maxwell Street Market in front of the Johnny Dollar catfish stand east of Halsted Street, as well as blues venues all over the Chicago area until a robber’s gunshot left him with paraplegia. He was generous in letting other musicians sit in, according to blues singer Bobby Too Tuff. “If you asked him to sing, he’d let you,” Too Tuff said. “He was the leader of the band — everybody wanted to play with him.

In March 2006, Mr. Fain and a friend had parked at a gas station in South Holland when two men demanded the keys to Mr. Fain’s 1994 Chevy. After Mr. Fain yelled, “Police!” one of the two shot him.

His experiences since then would form the makings of a dozen blues songs, as he got around in a wheelchair and was shuttled from one nursing home to another, with few visitors to brighten the long, lonely days.

There were a few bright spots. When Chicago public relations expert June Rosner found out he had little support from his family, she became more than a friend, visiting him and interceding to get him the best care available.

Not long after the shooting, Simon Garber of Chicago Carriage Cab Co., where Mr. Fain worked, gave him a refurbished taxi to carry his band and its instruments and also provided wheelchair-accessible transportation for Mr. Fain.

“Red was a great cabbie and a very brave man,” Garber said in an email.

A hoped-for comeback never happened, although Mr. Fain did play occasionally, including side-stage performances at the Chicago Blues Festival several years ago. But health problems worsened in the last couple of years, ending his performances.

“He was one of the many really great unknown musicians in Chicago,” said blues piano player and historian Barrelhouse Bonni McKeown.

The 2006 shooting led to continuing health problems and the eventual end of a Chicago career that started when Piano “C” Red came here as a teenager in the early 1950s and began playing music in South Side clubs while earning his living as a taxi driver.

“He was a hardworking guy,” said Lori Lewis of the Windy City Blues Society. “He drove a cab during the day and played music at night.”

He died June 3, 2013 at age 79.

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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 and took 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. In 1970 he received an invitation from Ronson to come to London and join Ronno — a outfit that had been active earlier in the year as The Hype, and which had served as a backing band for vocalist David Bowie. Ronno only managed one single (1971’s Fourth Hour of My Sleep) before poor response prompted Vertigo, the band’s label, to abandon them; not long afterwards, however, Bowie enlisted most of the line-up which would soon be known as the Spiders from Mars (Ronson, Bolder, and drummer Woody Woodmansey) for his fourth album Hunky Dory (1971). Bolder subsequently appeared in D. A. Pennebaker’s 1973 documentary and concert movie Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

He is name-checked as “Weird” (Bowie’s stage nickname for Bolder) in the song “Ziggy Stardust” in the lyrics “Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly, And The Spiders from Mars”. Bolder “never looked comfortable as a glam-rock mannequin, tottering behind Ziggy Stardust in platform boots and a rainbow-hued outfit of latex and glitter”.

Bolder’s bass (and occasional trumpet) work appeared on the studio albums Hunky Dory (1971), The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), Aladdin Sane (1973), and Pin Ups (1973), the Spiders’ swan song with their leader.

When Bowie announced his departure from Live Shows, he then went on to play on Ronson’s 1974 album Slaughter on 10th Avenue which made the British Top Ten.

The bassist continued his affiliation with Ronson for the next year or so, touring as part of his band and performing on the solo album Play Don’t Worry (1975). Bolder then joined forces once again with Woodmansey in a short-lived (and ill-advised) attempt to resurrect the Spiders From Mars name, their 1976 eponymous release being met mostly with indifference from both critics and fans. A more rewarding situation was right around the corner, however, and later in the year Bolder was enlisted to replace bassist John Wetton in Uriah Heep — a band that would remain his primary musical home for most of the years to come.

Bolder’s first recorded participation with Heep materialized as the 1977 album Firefly, and he maintained a strong instrumental and songwriting presence on the subsequent releases Innocent Victim (1977), Fallen Angel (1978) and Conquest (1980); but by 1980 the internal situation in the band had become unmanageable, prompting him (somewhat unwillingly) to make the decision to move on. Work with Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley on his solo album Free Spirit kept him busy for the early part of 1981, after which he once again was chosen to fill a gap created by a departing John Wetton — this time in the art rock outfit Wishbone Ash. This new situation lasted two years, involving a constant schedule of touring and a contribution to the 1982 release Twin Barrels Burning. Then in early 1983 an opportunity to re-join Uriah Heep presented itself, and Bolder was quick to accept; he remained active in their ranks ever since, with a dozen further Heep albums added to his credits.

In 1994 a second resurrection of his partnership with Woody Woodmansey as the Spiders From Mars was undertaken for a Hammersmith Apollo memorial concert for guitarist Mick Ronson, who had succumbed to cancer the previous year. The pair were joined for a set of early 70’s Bowie material — incongruously enough — by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Phil Collen; the four bonded over the material and, after an appearance by the two Spiders at a second Ronson memorial staged in Hull in 1997, eventually formalized their collaboration under the name Cybernauts. A Cybernauts tour of the UK was arranged that same year, with the unit resuming activity in 2001 for a tour of Japan.

In 2012 and early 2013, Bolder worked with Stevie ZeSuicide (Steve Roberts of the band U.K. Subs) as producer on singles “Wild Trash” (co-writer with ZeSuicide), “Lady Rocker” and a cover of “Ziggy Stardust”. Bolder also played on these tracks.

He died in May 2013 at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham from pancreatic cancer. He had undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer earlier that year. He was almost 62.

My playing style did not really come from McCartney although the Beatles were my motivation to go into music. My style came through the blues mainly, through listening to the blues players. I started out from listening to a lot of the old blues players from ’30s and ’40s, listening to a lot of Sonny Boy Williamson, a lot of early blues stuff, copying it. We didn’t have a lot of blues albums in England when we were fourteen and learnt to play, but we liked it [the blues] so much that it was all we ever played. In Hull, we would go out just on Saturday with what money we had from mid-day working or whatever, and we used to buy every blues album we could find. We found all these great songs by all those people.

Then, along came a chap called Jack Bruce – I saw him play with Graham Bond and Ginger Baker, in Hull, before they formed CREAM, and then I saw him play with CREAM, and that was just unbelievable. I wanted to play like Jack Bruce, and I practiced to all his records continuously. He was unique, there was anything like it before him. Before that, the bass players were just standing back playing along with the drums and leaving it for the guitar players and singers, but when he came along, he turned the bass up. For me, it was stunning to watch him play, and he was a great singer as well – it was brilliant, the way he sang, much more than Clapton. I mean, Eric Clapton was no one at the time, with John Mayall and THE YARDBIRDS, and to me, the whole crux of the band [CREAM] was Jack Bruce. Also there was John McVie from FLEETWOOD MAC, who was with John Mayall at the time, a lot of his stuff I liked and I copied a lot of his style. A little bit of McCartney and John Entwistle, but mainly Jack Bruce, he was the big influence – for the feel, he had great feel, amazing! Jack Bruce also played cello, which is a melodic instrument – I played trumpet and I adapted the trumpet stuff to the bass as well, playing melodic parts. And I never wanted to just be a bass player plonking away, I always wanted to have the edge to the sound and be able to play with a melodic feel. It took many years for another great bass player to come along, which was [Jaco] Pastorius, who also played in that style but with a jazz feel. My style’s developed, and that’s the way I play: I play a lot of notes… too many notes sometimes. (Laughs.) I actually found that if I was restricted in a way I play – if somebody said, “You don’t play like that, play like this!” – I don’t think I could do it. It would be difficult for me, because a bass player isn’t just somebody who just sits back there and plonks away, it’s somebody who adds a lot to the music. And if you can add more to the music, it’s exciting, really exciting. If they took that away from me and said to play like a regular bass player, I think I’d be a terrible bass player.

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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.

Lytle’s style of playing, which involved slapping the strings to make a percussive sound, is considered one of the signature sounds of early rock and roll and rockabilly. The athletic Lytle also developed a stage routine, along with Ambrose, that involved doing acrobatic stunts with the bass fiddle, including throwing it in the air and riding it like a horse. This became a signature performance for The Comets that later musicians working for Haley were instructed to emulate.

By 1958 the Jodimars had broken up, though Lytle attempted to continue the group on his own. Lytle continued to work in music off-and-on into the 1960s, but also got involved in other interests, changing his name to Tommy Page and getting into real estate and later opening an interior design business.

In October ’87, 6 years after the death of Bill Haley, Marshall was invited to take part in a reunion of the original 1954-55 Comets that was held in Philadelphia as part of a tribute concert in honor of Dick Clark. Despite the musicians not having seen each other in decades, The Comets quickly found their groove again although Lytle sang the lyrics of “Rock Around the Clock” out-of-order. Their performance was the hit of the show, and over the next couple of years The Comets began touring again, primarily in Europe. The band has recorded several albums for the German label Hydra Records, the UK-based Rockstar Records, and the US label Rollin’ Rock Records.

In the late 1990s he and his friend Warren Farren wrote a topical tune called “Viagra Rock” that The Comets recorded; the song proved to be quite popular on radio stations in Florida.  In 2006 the group took up a long-term residence at the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater in Branson, Missouri, performing more than 150 shows at the venue, with more in 2007. The group also toured Europe in early 2007. He continued working and touring with the Comets until his retirement in 2009.

In 2012 he was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Bill Haley & His Comets

Marshall died while bravely fighting lung cancer on May 25, 2013. He was 79.

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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.

Havens is often praised for his lyrical messages of peace and freedom as well as his fiery vocals and guitar playing. His early exposure to music was singing in doo-wop groups on the streets of Brooklyn at age 16.

The Brookyln-bred Havens moved to the Greenwich Village at the age of 20 to be a part of the thriving artistic scene in the ’60s. He was first recognized at clubs such as Cafe Wha? for his percussive guitar playing and unique voice. Havens toured for 45 years before kidney complications forced him to stop in 2012. In addition to many world tours, Havens has also released 21 studio albums.

Though initially more interested in visual art and spoken word, musical influences including Nina Simone, Fred Neil and Dino Valenti eventually inspired Havens to pick up a guitar. Word of Richie’s talent eventually spread beyond the Greenwich Village, catching the interest of manager Albert Grossman who helped him land a record deal with the Verve label. Havens released his first album, Mixed Bag, in 1967. His second studio release,Something Else Again came out just a year later and hit the Billboard chart.

Havens soon became a popular live act, playing festivals such as the Newport Folk Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Miami Pop Festival and others. His performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival lasted over three hours and proved to be a big turning point for his career. After Woodstock, Havens started his own record label Stormy Forest, delivering six of his own albums on the label between 1970-1974. He was recognized for his original songs as well as popular covers of The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Havens started reaching more mainstream popularity, appearing on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show for back-to-back nights in front of eager audiences. He also dabbled in acting, appearing in the original stage production of The Who’s rock operaTommy in 1972 as well as the 1974 feature film Catch My Soul amongst other roles.

In keeping with his peaceful message, Havens was very active with charity work. In the mid-1970’s, he co-founded an oceanographic children’s museum called the Northwind Undersea Institute. This eventually led to the start of The National Guard, an organization that Richie helped start. The National Guard carried out a mission to help children learn about their effects on the environment. His charity work eventually won him the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in 1991. In 2003, he was given the American Eagle Award by the National Music Council for his role in America’s music heritage.

Havens continued to tour and release albums through the decades. Special appearances include a Madison Square Garden appearance in 1992 for the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary concert and a slot at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. In the jamband world, Havens appeared at festivals such as Mountain Jam and played The Sixth Annual Jammy Awards in 2006. He has also performed with the likes of Assembly of Dust, Groove Armada and The Preservation Jazz Hall Band.

Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame said: “Richie Havens was one of the nicest most generous and pure individuals I have ever met, adding “when I was a young sprite in Greenwich Village, we used to have breakfast together at the diner on 6th Avenue next to The Waverly Theatre. He was very wise in the ways of our calling. He always caught fire every time he played.”

Richie Havens never recovered enough from a kidney operation in 2010 to tour again. He suffered a fatal heart attack on April 22, 2013 at age 72. An insight into the man behind the music was published in July of 1968 in Rolling Stone.

 

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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.

Many people find that the music they listened to during a formative period in their lives has become their music, and they no longer feel the urge to keep up with what’s new, year in and year out. Miller, too, went on to college, got jobs in the non-music world, got married, started a family—but somehow he never stopped finding ways to play, and listen to, and talk about music… He’s had two major bands—Game Theory in the eighties and The Loud Family in the nineties—and he put out more than a dozen albums. Yet Miller once said of his failure to capture major success: “I’m utterly serious about music. I just respect the buying public’s judgment that it’s not what I should do for a living.” So instead he became a rather successful database programmer.

Sometime after the release of the Loud Family and Anton Barbeau album What If It Works? in 2006, Miller began to stay up after putting his daughters to bed to make CDs from the annual lists he’d maintained since his youth. As someone who never hesitates to set the bar a little higher, he conceived of using this CD-making project as a springboard to an even more ambitious idea, one that could connect with a like-minded audience. He approached Sue Trowbridge and Joe Mallon, his longtime friends and supporters through the Loud Family website and 125 Records, to suggest a project to write about each of the last 50 years in popular music… He called the new blog “Music: What Happened?” and published the first list (for 1966) on the website on May 26, 2008. Over the course of the next 16 months, he responded to requests for all 50 years, ranging from 1957 to 2006. The publication of this book draws the 50 blog entries together (plus three bonus years: 2007, 2008, and 2009) in a single, remarkable volume.

A revealing yet veiled observation Miller expressed in a 2011 interview read: “Predictably these days, I write fragments, but never finish whole songs. I’m looking for an opportunity to put out one more album before I’m too decrepit. I got to the point of really dreading self-promotion that doesn’t pay off that much, but the world keeps changing in ways that are mostly tragic for socializing music, but in some ways leave room for my position, which is it’s a waste of time if fewer than around a hundred people like it, but no particular advantage if a million more people than the first hundred like it. Hardly anyone actually gets paid anymore anyway, right?”

On April 15, 2013 Scott Miller committed suicide.

Music fans the world over were stunned and saddened by the news of the death of Scott Miller, the brilliant singer-songwriter who fronted Game Theory, Loud Family and Alternative Learning, better known as ALRN. Miller, a Sacramento-born musician, was considered an influential force in the ’80s- and ’90s-era Davis and San Francisco music scenes.

• Nan Becker, a keyboardist in ALRN and an early incarnation of Game Theory, remembered her late friend with admiration.

“I’ve known Scott since I was 10 years old, and he was my brother’s [drummer Jozef Becker from Game Theory, Loud Family and Thin White Rope] best friend,” she said. “He followed music like some people would follow baseball, which he also did. He had the most incredible mind that I have ever encountered.”

• The bands that Miller started are a testament to not only of his encyclopedic knowledge of music, but his love of literature as well. The Game Theory album Lolita Nationreferences Vladimir Nabokov, and he claimed T.S. Eliot and James Joyce as his two favorite writers.

That affinity made its way into Miller’s music. A Rolling Stone review of Lolita Nation likened it to “Big Star with lyrics written by Thomas Pynchon”—a near-perfect encapsulation of the sound of Game Theory and Loud Family. (To hear Miller’s work, all of Game Theory’s albums are available to stream at www.loudfamily.com/game.html.)

In 2006, Miller took a hiatus from music making after the release of What If It Works?—a collaboration between the Loud Family and Sacramento expat Anton Barbeau—and turned to writing a blog. His posts were wildly entertaining and had a huge following of musicians and fans. There, Miller reflected on the songs he loved and wrote about them in a style that was part confessional journal and part music critic, choosing a handful of songs from a specific year, ranging from 1957 to 2009, and explaining why he loved those songs, pointing out details that only deep listener and a lifelong fan would hear. Soon, he was approached to compile these lists into a book, and in 2010, Music: What Happened? (125 Records, $15) was released to widespread acclaim.

Sacramento writer and musician Jackson Griffith says Miller was as talented a critic as he was a musician. “I think he was fucking brilliant,” said Griffith. “His insights were completely original. He basically wrote what he thought. That’s not always the case,” Griffith added.

“With music critics, a lot of people are always looking over their shoulder to see what someone else is saying. I read one of his pieces—it was about a Kanye West and Jay-Z record—it was quite droll, and it seemed like he was giving props to them, but if you read in between the lines, it was like, ’Whoa!’ I thought it was very well-done.”

Becker, now residing in Wisconsin, said: “I’ve admired Scott’s music since I was about 19 years old, and it still blows me away.”“He was an amazing songwriter, an amazing lyricist. … He had the simplest ideas that could express the profoundest thoughts,” she said. “He was wonderful at being able to string words together in an original way.”

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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, it hired Jackson to write songs.

Jackson had been writing songs by the time he was in his teens. It was Ike Turner who brought him to the New Orleans RNB pioneer Cosimo Matassa’s studio in 1963, where he recorded his first song. “George had hooks coming out of his ears,” said Wolf Stephenson, Malaco’s vice president and chief engineer. “They weren’t all hits, but I never heard him write a bad song. He never really got the recognition that’s normally due a writer of his stature.”

The Osmonds recorded Jackson’s “One Bad Apple” in 1970, taking it to No 1 in the US. Jackson and Thomas Jones III wrote “Old Time Rock and Roll“, which Bob Seger recorded in 1978. Stephenson said “Old Time Rock and Roll” is truly Jackson’s song, and he has the tapes to prove it, despite Seger’s claims that he altered it. “Bob had pretty much finished his recording at Muscle Shoals and he asked them if they had any other songs he could listen to for the future,” Stephenson recalled.

Besides Seeger, the Osmonds and Ike and Tina Turner, Jackson’s songs were also recorded by James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Clarence Carter. Later he wrote “Down Home Blues” for ZZ Hill, a song which was a keystone for Malaco. The Mississippi label is a storehouse of soul, rhythm and blues and gospel music.

“He had a way of seeing things about life and saying them in a way that a lot of other people could relate to,” said Thomas Couch, Malaco’s chairman.

He died from cancer on April 14, 2013 at age 68.

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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 university years, he also became a vegetarian.

Cheng was seriously injured in an automobile crash in Santa Clara, California, on November 4, 2008. Cheng was traveling with his sister, Mae, when their vehicle flipped three times after hitting another car going 60 mph. Cheng, who was in the passenger seat, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. Mae sustained minor injuries, as she had been wearing her seat belt. She attended to Cheng, holding his head until two off-duty EMTs, who happened to have their medical equipment, rendered aid. They were able to insert a tube into Cheng’s throat to help him breathe until the ambulance arrived, an action that doctors later said helped him survive. In spite of the assessment, the crash left Cheng in a 4 year semi-coma and he died on 13 April 2013 from heart failure at age 42.

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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.

He wrote the composition “Lie to Kick It”, which appeared on Tupac Shakur’s album R U Still Down? (Remember Me), “Dear Summer”, which appeared on Memphis Bleek’s album “534” featuring artist Jay-Z, and “Holding You, Loving You”, which appeared on Master P.’s album I Got The Hook Up. He sang and co-composed “Funky toons” for Skalp on his album “From my head to your feet”.

On television, he scored and wrote music for commercials, TV shows, and movies, appearing on Fox Network’s New York Undercover, producing and writing the theme song for Nickelodeon’s show “Gullah Gullah Island”, as well as producing songs for the MTV Network movie Joe’s Apartment.

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

As a session musician, he appearing on albums by Kurtis Blow, Bernard Wright, Najee, David Sanborn, Lenny White, Roy Ayers, Sting, World Saxophone Quartet, Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” and Wayman Tisdale. He wrote the composition “Live to Kick It”, which appeared on Tupac Shakur’s album R U Still Down? (Remember Me); “Dear Summer” on Memphis Bleek’s album “534” featuring artist Jay-Z, and “Holding You, Loving You” on Master P.’s album “I Got The Hook Up”.

Don died while fighting cancer at age 59 on April 11, 2013.

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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.

Derek rose through the ranks of dance bands to become one of the most sought-after session players in the business. He recorded and worked with a wide range of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Tom Jones, Count Basie, John Dankworth, Stan Tracey, the Ted Heath Orchestra, Benny Goodman, Henry Mancini, Maynard Ferguson, Kiri te Kanawa, the London Symphony Orchestra, Oasis, Robbie Williams, James Last, Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, The Beatles, Elton John, Natalie Cole, Eric Clapton, and Kylie Minogue amongst many others.

Derek became acquainted with Dr Richard Smith – Doctor of Acoustics, at Boosey & Hawkes, where Derek had an association with them with regard to the manufacture of their instruments.

Following this period, Richard and Derek went on to set up their own manufacturing company, Smith-Watkins Instruments, where they initially manufactured and supplied both trumpets and cornets to the specific requirement and need of each individual.

Their association has lasted many years and has resulted in many of the top flight players both in the studio world and also in the Brass Band and Military world using the Smith-Watkins instruments.
Watkins has also played key roles in many film scores, including James Bond, Mission Impossible, The Mummy, Basic Instinct, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, Johnny English, Superman 1 & 2, Bridget Jones Diary and Chicago, where his trumpet solo opens the movie.

In later years Watkins branched out into composition, in collaboration with Colin Sheen and Jamie Talbot, and their work can be heard in the incidental music for the ITV Drama series Midsomer Murders and library music for KPM Music.
Derek was a Visiting Professor for trumpet to the Royal Academy of Music, and presented master class clinics at music colleges around Europe.

He died on March 22, 2013 after a two year battle with cancer.

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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.

In 1966, together with Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge, they formed the band Soft Machine, the name having come from the Burroughs novel The Soft Machine. Ayers and Wyatt had previously played in Wilde Flowers.
Following a tour of Europe, Allen was refused re-entry to the UK because he had overstayed his visa on a prior visit. He returned to Paris where he formed a relationship with Gilli Smyth, who was teaching at the Sorbonne. With Daevid playing guitar and Gilli reciting poetry, the couple formed Gong. He also took part in the 1968 Paris protests which swept the city. He handed out teddy bears to the police and recited poetry in pidgin French. He admitted that he was scorned by the other protesters for being a beatnik.

Fleeing the police, he made his way to Deià, Mallorca, with his partner Gilli Smyth. It was here that he met the poet Robert Graves. Here also, he recorded Magick Brother (released on BYG Actuel in 1969), the first album under the name Gong. They were joined by flautist Didier Malherbe, whom they claim to have found living in a cave on Robert Graves’ estate.

The band is best known for their Radio Gnome Trilogy, made up of the albums Flying Teapots, Angel’s Egg and You. In 1970 Allen recorded and released his first solo album, Banana Moon which featured Robert Wyatt, among others.

In 1971 Gong released Camembert Electrique and between 1972 and 1974 they formed a somewhat of an anarchist commune in rural France. In 1977 he performed and recorded as Planet Gong. Daevid separated from Gilli in 1979, but they continued to have a professional relationship. In 1980 Daevid lived in America with new partner Maggie Brown and he teamed up with Bill Laswell for the punk-influenced band New York Gong, before returning to Australia with Maggie, taking up residence in Byron Bay. For many years, Daevid was a member of the University of Errors, who released four albums, and performed with the jazz rock band Brainville 3. He also recorded with Spirits Burning and worked with the noise band Big City Orchestra.

In November 2006 a Gong Family Unconvention was held in Amsterdam, which included a reunion of many former Gong members and in November 2007, he held a series of concerts in Brazil, with a branch of Gong, which was called Daevid Allen and Gong Global Family.

In 2013 , Daevid performed solo material and poetry at a special event entitled “Up Close with Daevid Allen”. He also joined The Invisible Opera Company of Tibet (UK) on stage to perform songs including the classic Gong song “Tried So Hard”. Daevid revelled in being the court jester of hippie rock and through his long of music never lost his enthusiasm for the transcendent power of the psychedelic experience. Never attaining the riches and fame of many of his contemporaries, which he deserved, did not concern him.

He once remarked: “Psychedelia for me is a code for that profound spiritual experience where there is a direct link to the gods”.

Daevid performed his final gig in his home town, Byron Bay, just two weeks before his death, back as a beat poet, for one final curtain fall on March 13th, 2015.

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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.

After leaving Iron Maiden, he briefly played in the French group Trust, thus switching places with McBrain, and briefly with the American band Alcatrazz. He was featured in the short-lived NWOBHM supergroup Gogmagog which also included ex-Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno and future Maiden guitarist Janick Gers.

He also had a band known as Clive Burr’s Escape. He then joined Dee Snider in his post-Twisted Sister outfit Desperado, and performed with British bands Elixir and Praying Mantis in the 1990s, but did not become a member of either.

Clive died in his sleep, with complications from multiple sclerosis on March 12, 2013 at age 56.

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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.

The group, first called The Domingoes, was formed in 1954 at Ferndale High School, 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. The group earned half a dozen Grammy award nominations and around a dozen gold records including “Truly Yours”, “I’ll Always Love You”, “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”

Smith had been the group’s main lead singer since its inception, having sung lead vocals on The Spinners first hit record in 1961, “That’s What Girls Are Made For” (which has been inaccurately credited to the group’s mentor and former Moonglows lead singer, the late Harvey Fuqua). Smith also sang lead on most of their Motown material during the 1960s, such as the charting singles like “Truly Yours” (1966) and “I’ll Always Love You” (1965); 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” (sung by Smith, in a collaboration with superstar Dionne Warwick).

Despite the fact that 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 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.

Continue reading Alvin Lee 3/2013

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Bobby
Rogers
3/2013

bobby rogersMarch 3, 2013 – Robert Edward “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.

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 members 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, 6 top 20 singles…

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Jewel
Akens
3/2013

Jewel AkensMarch 1, 2013 – Jewel Eugene 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.

Akens toured regularly since 1965 and included a tribute to his mentor, Sam Cooke, in most of his shows. He also fronted a group billing itself as The Coasters, though it featured no actual original members of the group. Akens considered his cover versions of “Little Bitty Pretty One” by Thurston Harris and “You Better Move On” by Arthur Alexander to be his best work. He toured with The Monkees in the late 1960s and continued in the music business until the middle of the 1970s.

“No doubt you’re already singing the chorus,” wrote the Vancouver Province in 2002 when it featured ‘the Birds and the Bees’ on a top-10 list of one-hit wonders. None of Akens’ later singles enjoyed the success of “The Birds and the Bees,” but he went on to tour with the Monkees in the 1970s and performed into his 70s.

On March 1, 2013, Akens died from complications of back surgery, aged 79.

 

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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 takes 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 only one minor hit, 1966’s “Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)”, to its name. They also had a big hit in 1965 called “Say You” which the Temptations included on one of their albums.

Street knew the Temptations and Otis Williams, in particular, having worked for Motown in quality control and through his vocal work with the Distants and the Monitors. By the late-1960s, Street was being called upon to travel with The Temptations and sing Paul Williams’ parts from off-stage, while Paul Williams, who suffered from both alcoholism and sickle-cell disease, danced and lip-synched onstage. Street officially replaced Paul Williams in mid-1971, after both Williams and Eddie Kendricks left the group.

A number of the Temptations’ best-selling hits feature Street’s lead vocals, including “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)” (1971), “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (1972), “Masterpiece” (1973), and was featured solo on “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” (1973) as well as the album cuts “The First Time I Saw Your Face” and “Firefly” from the All Directions (1972) and A Song for You albums (1975), respectively. Street and Damon Harris traded leads on “1990”s tune “Heavenly.” He and old Distants bandmates Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin endured a number of lineup changes over the two decades Street was a Temptation, during which time Dennis Edwards, Ricky Owens, Damon Harris, Glenn Leonard, Louis Price, Ron Tyson, and Ali-Ollie Woodson all served as members of the group at various times

Richard died of a pulmonary embolism at age 70 on February 27, 2013.

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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 23rd 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 also joined the band in the ‘80s after founding drummer Jaimoe was dismissed from the group.

“There was basically a re-audition, but I don’t recall any other guitar players being there for it,” Toler told Relix of the band’s late ‘70s reunion. “The band is kind of political in the respect of hiring guys. Dickey was in control of who was going to play guitar, Gregg [Allman] was in control of piano and the drummers were in control of who was going to be the bass player.”

Throughout the ‘80s, the Toler brothers toured and recorded with Gregg Allman’s solo bands. They appear on his comeback albums I’m No Angel (1986) and Just Before The Bullets Fly (1988). The Tolers also share some writing credits and appear in the MTV video staple “I’m No Angel.”

Dan Toler participated in a few Allman Brothers Band reunions in the mid-’80s. His final Allman Brothers Band show was the band’s one-off appearance at the Crackdown Against Crack concert at Madison Square Garden in 1986. When The Allman brothers Band reformed in 1989, Warren Haynes replaced Toler. 

Toler worked on a variety of projects in the ’90s, including a fusion outfit and the Townsend Toler Band with his brother and John Townsend. He also performed as part of The Renegades of Southern Rock super group. Dangerous Dan joined Great Southern in 2002 and remained with Betts until 2008.

“His style has changed,” Betts told Jambands.com in 2002. “He kind of had some secret years there. He was kind of below radar for a while but obviously he had been working on his playing all the while. He has really developed to where he is really more compatible with me now than in the days when we were together. When we were together with Great Southern back in the ’70s and ’80s and in The Allman Brothers, we played a lot the same. Now we don’t play so much the same. He has really developed kind of what I would call a Western Swing style. It’s got a lot of chord movements. It’s not New York jazz it’s got more of a Western influence. We are having a lot of fun and we fit like a glove.”

His brother Frankie Toler passed away in 2011 after a prolonged illness that included two liver transplants. After Dan Toler was diagnosed with “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” many of his longtime friends participated in a variety of benefits. Those notable friends included Allman Brothers Band guitarists Haynes and Betts.

In the 90s he created the Townsend Toler Band and later joined The Renegades of Southern Rock. In 2009 Dan teamed up again with John Townsend to form the Toler/Townsend Band and released their self-titled album in that year.

In the couple of  years prior to his death, Toler performed with the Toler Tucci Band featuring Dan Toler, Doc Tucci, Verceal, Jake Hansen, Harry DeBusk, Michael Tucci and Chaz Trippy. They released their final album. Doc’s Hideaway this past August.

Dan had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease when he died on 25 February 2013 at age 64

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Magic
Slim
2/2013

Magic SlimFebruary 21, 2013 – Magic Slim was born Morris Holt on August 7, 1937 inTorrance near Grenada, Mississippi. The son of sharecroppers, he followed blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf to Chicago, 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. He 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 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 into the mid 1970s.

He became a Chicago blues fixture in his own right, developing a guitar style that blended a distinct vibrato with a slide-guitar-like sound formed with his bare fingers against the strings. Known for playing with picks on both the thumb and index finger of his right hand – a somewhat unusual technique for the blues – the guitarist was recognized as much for his powerful, gruff vocals as his musicianship. With more than 30 albums to his credit, Slim also was known for an encyclopedic mastery of the blues.

He recorded his first album in 1977, Born Under A Bad Sign, this was the first of 36 albums and during the 1980s he won his first W.C. Handy Award.

In 1982, guitarist prodigy John Primer joined the Teardrops and stayed and played for him for 13 years. Releases include Spider in My Stew on Wolf Records, and a 1996 Blind Pig release called Scufflin’, which presented the post-Primer line-up with the new addition of the guitarist and singer Jake DawsonIn 1994 Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Zoo Bar had been booking him for years. He was frequently accompanied by his son Shawn “Lil’ Slim” Holt, an accomplished guitarist and singer.

In 2003 Magic Slim and the Teardrops won the W.C. Handy Award as ‘Blues Band Of The Year’ for the sixth time.

Slim, who was a heavy smoker suffered from emphysema and heart problems, was forced by illness to cut short a tour with his band, the Teardrops, in late January. He was hospitalized in Phoenixville, but transferred later to Philadelphia.

There he died from multiple ailments on 21 February 2013 at the age of 75.

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Kevin
Ayers
2/2013

Kevin AyersFeb 18, 2013- Kevin Ayers (Soft Machine) was born August 16, 1944 in Herne Bay, Kent, the son of the 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 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.

The Wilde Flowers later morphed into Soft Machine with the addition of keyboardist Mike Ratledge and guitarist Daevid Allen; Kevin switched to bass. The band often shared stages with Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd. British rock journalist Nick Kent once wrote: “Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett were the two most important people in British pop music. Everything that came after came from them.”

Soft Machine released their debut single ‘Love Makes Sweet Music’ / ‘Feelin’ Reelin’, Squeelin’ in February 1967, making it one of the first recordings from the new British psychedelic movement… In 1968, the group toured the US in support of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a brush with rock stardom and relentless gigging that left the laid-back Ayers weary and disillusioned. He sold his Fender bass guitar to Hendrix’s sideman Noel Redding, and fled to Ibiza with fellow Soft Machine maverick Daevid Allen. There he wrote the songs that would make up Joy of a Toy. It set the tone for much of what was to follow: Ayers’s sonorous voice enunciating songs that ran the gamut from wilfully weird to oddly catchy, the whole not quite transcending the sum of the many varied and musically adventurous parts.

A founding member of Soft Machine, Ayers became a key figure in the birth of British pastoral psychedelia, and then went on to enjoy cult status as a singer-songwriter in the late 1960s and early 70s.

He recorded four critically well-received albums for the British progressive rock label Harvest, the third of which, Whatevershebringswesing (1972), featured musical contributions from Robert Wyatt and Mike Oldfield and the orchestral arrangements of David Bedford. It included the dramatically melancholy Song from the Bottom of a Well and the catchy, more-roll-than-rock swagger of Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes, which became, if not quite a hit, a signature song of sorts in his subsequent live shows.

In his 2008 memoir, Changeling, Mike Oldfield recalled the anarchic atmosphere of the recording sessions at Abbey Road studio, where, on a day that no other musician bothered to turn up, he more or less cut the backing track for Champagne Cowboy Blues single-handedly. “Eventually, Kevin rolled in. I said, ‘I’ve done it, I’ve done a track!’ He was a bit put out, I think, that I had taken over his studio time … He did keep it as a backing track: he put some different words to it and it was put on the album.”

Ayers signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island label. The resulting album, The Confessions of Dr Dream and Other Stories (1974), was more focused by his standards, and marked the beginning of a creative partnership with guitarist Ollie Halsall. The following year, Ayers’s appearance at the Rainbow Theatre in London alongside John Cale, Brian Eno and Nico was recorded for a subsequent live album entitled June 1, 1974.

In the late 1970s, as punk took hold in Britain, Ayers seemed to disappear from view, dogged by addiction and what often seemed like a general lack of interest in his own career. He made the lacklustre Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain (1983) with a group of musicians he befriended in Spain, and the well-received Falling Up (1988) in Madrid.

For a while, he lived a reclusive life in the south of France, before being tempted back to the studio for an album, The Unfairground (2007), featuring contributions from a new generation of musician-fans that included members of Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

“I think you have to have a bit missing upstairs,” he once said, “or just be hungry for fame and money, to play the industry game. I’m not very good at it.” That, of course, was part of his charm. He was a true bohemian and a fitfully brilliant musical drifter.

Kevin Ayers’s debut solo album, Joy of a Toy, released in 1969, concluded with a song called All This Crazy Gift of Time. “All my blond and twilight dreams,” sang Ayers in his signature, slightly wayward baritone, “all those strangled future schemes, all those glasses drained of wine …” In retrospect, it sounds like a statement of intent, though intent is perhaps too strong a word to apply to Ayers, whose singular songwriting talent was matched by a sometimes startling lack of ambition. “I lost it years ago; a long, long time ago,” he told one interviewer in 2007, referring to his lack of ego and self-belief. “But, in a way, I don’t think I’ve ever had it.”

Kevin died peacefully in his sleep at his home in the village of Montolieu, France on Feb 18, 2013 at the age of 68.

After his death, a piece of paper was found by his bedside. On it was written a note, or perhaps an idea for a song: “You can’t shine if you don’t burn.” He did both in his inimitable – and never less than charming – way.

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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.

Early in 1960, he performed in a tour of the UK, along with Vincent and Eddie Cochran. On 16 April, Vincent and Cochran rebuffed his request to ride along with them to the next venue, but he thereby escaped the road accident which would leave Cochran dead and Vincent badly injured.

Sheridan played guitar for Cherry Wainer on her recording of “Happy Organ”. Despite these successes, his penchant for being late, showing up without his guitar, etc., soon got him a reputation for having gone a bit “haywire”, and cost him much of his professional standing in England. Providentially, an offer for a gig came from Bruno Koschmider’s “Kaiserkeller” club in Hamburg, Germany for an English group to play there. Sheridan and others (including Colin “Melander” Crawley) joined an ad hoc group promptly dubbed “The Jets” and were put on the ship headed for Hamburg. As fate would have it, legal woes (i.e. lack of proper papers) caused “The Jets” to not last long, but Sheridan (and now-friend Colin “Melander” Crawley) were soon back onstage in Hamburg.

While performing in Hamburg between 1960 and 1963, Sheridan employed various backup bands, most of which were really “pickup bands”, or simply an amalgam of various musicians, rather than a group proper (though almost always including now bassist Colin “Melander” Crawley). However, in 1961, the young Beatles (with their line-up at the time of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best) who had met and admired Sheridan during their first visit to Hamburg in 1960, and who openly worked with him on their second visit, became even closer. The Beatles sometimes backed Sheridan, who, in turn, often joined the Beatles during their own sets backing them on guitar. They even visited Sheridan’s home and had jamming sessions in the back garden.

When German Polydor producer/A&R man Bert Kaempfert saw the pairing on stage, he suggested that Sheridan and the Beatles make some recordings together. Kaempfert viewed Sheridan as the one with “star” potential, and though they signed the Beatles to play on Sheridan’s records their contract with them stipulated that the four Beatles (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Best) were insured to play on a minimum of two songs.
These sessions produced Sheridan’s “My Bonnie” and “The Saints”, and the Beatles’ “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Cry for a Shadow” (formerly titled “Beatle Bop”), plus three other songs. Polydor’s beliefs in Sheridan’s coming stardom were so strong that they buried the two solo Beatle tracks until much later. Both John Lennon and Tony Sheridan swore that there were several other Beatle tracks that were recorded during the two-day session, but they have not resurfaced.

The record was released in America on Decca in 1962 with a black label and also in a pink label for demo play. The record has the distinction of being one of the most expensive collectible 45 rpm with the black label in mint condition selling for $15,000 in 2007 and the pink label selling for $3000. Ringo Starr briefly played in Sheridan’s backing band during very early 1962, before returning to Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Starr was reportedly unhappy with Sheridan performing songs he had not rehearsed with his band (other musicians made the same complaint, as well as about Sheridan’s penchant for fist-fights).

In the same year Polydor released the album My Bonnie across Germany. The word “Beatles” was judged to sound too similar to the Hamburgisch dialect word “Pidels” (pronounced “peedles”), the plural of a slang term for penis, hence the album was credited to “Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers”. Amusingly, that very unintentional-naughty-pun was the precise thing that so many young German fans had found amusing but enchanting. After the Beatles had gained fame, the album was re-released in the United Kingdom, with the credit altered to “Tony Sheridan and the Beatles”. The Beatles’ Hamburg studio recordings, as well as some live recordings from the same period, have been reissued many times.

In the mid-1960s, Sheridan’s musical style underwent a drastic transformation, away from his rock and roll roots and towards a more blues- and jazz-oriented sound. Though these recordings were praised by some, many fans of his earlier work felt wildly disappointed. This change was presaged by liner notes from his 1964 album Just a Little Bit of Tony Sheridan in which his musical preferences are listed as “jazz and classical” rather than rock. The liner notes also mention his wanting to visit the southern US “to hear at first hand the original negro music and experience the atmosphere that has been instrumental in creating negro jazz and the spiritual, for which he has a great liking.” Polydor continued releasing Sheridan singles through 1966 (though they only ever released two albums by him).

By 1967, Sheridan had become disillusioned with his Beatle-brought fame. As he was more concerned by the Vietnam War and the thought of further Communist aggression, as such Sheridan agreed to perform for the Allied troops. While in Vietnam however, the band that he had assembled was fired upon and one of the members was killed. For his work entertaining the Allies, Sheridan was made an honorary Captain of the United States Army. Due to the repeated shellings encountered there, Sheridan henceforth suffered a great sensitivity to the sounds of any kind of explosions even fireworks.

With his Polydor contract gone Sheridan did what he could to survive. In the early ’70’s he managed to cut a single as a pop duo teamed with Carole Bell, and they toured Europe together with fair success. Following that phase he returned to playing in Germany (usually Hamburg) or London. The mid-1970s, saw him deejaying a West German radio programme of blues music, which was well received. Somehow he then managed to record an entire live album of early rock classics, a number of which had been part of his and the young Beatles early live act but of many which had never gotten recorded.

Fortuitously in 1978 a record producer in America heard Sheridan’s early Polydor recordings (with and without the young Beatles), and was enthralled by Tony’s singing and playing. Immediately Sheridan was offered and wisely accepted the offer to come and record a whole studio album in Los Angeles. Making the entire thing sweeter was the fact that Elvis’ (now out of work) TCB Band was hired to play on the album along with top bassist (and former Hamburg friend) Klaus Voorman. A fine album of rock classics plus a few country tunes resulted but with NO major label release it was doomed to direct TV sales. And thus the possible prospect of a long American career in Las Vegas evaporated.

In 1978, the Star Club was reopened, and Sheridan performed there along with Elvis Presley’s TCB Band.

In 1991, Joe Sunseri, Sheridan biographer and then-manager, completed Nobody’s Child: The Tony Sheridan Story. However, due to a falling-out, the biography remained unpublished. A biography of Sheridan, titled The Teacher, was eventually published in 2013 by Norfolk author Alan Mann, a childhood-friend of Sheridan. This book was essentially an email question and answer interview. While repeated probings by the author DID bring out Sheridan’s one time of two weeks spent in an English jail, aside from that the author unfortunately takes Sheridan’s memory of things at total face value.

On 13 August 2002, Sheridan released Vagabond, a collection largely of his own material, but also including a new cover version of “Skinny Minnie”, a song he had years earlier recorded for his first album.

Tony played guitar and sang for the Argentinian rock musician Charly Garcia. The album was called Influencia and it was released in 2002. In 2015, Colin “Melander” Crawley – Sheridan’s former bassist, published another biography, Tony Sheridan – The One The Beatles Called “The Teacher”.

Of the two published biographies it definitely gives the most insight into Sheridan’s major career of the early ’60’s.

Tony Sheridan died on 16 February 2013 in Hamburg, after undergoing heart surgery. He was 72.

 

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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 wrote the music for the internationally broadcast “Singapore Girl” television advertisements for Singapore Airlines.

In 1979, he joined the classical/progressive rock quintet Sky. In association with classical guitarist John Williams, keyboardist Francis Monkman, bassist Herbie Flowers, and drummer Tristan Fry, Peek played on seven studio albums with the band, before departing in 1985. Peek recorded three albums—Guitar Junction, Awakening, and Life & Other Games— but achieved greater prominence through his work with Sky and his session work with Olivia Newton-John, Kiki Dee, Sally Oldfield, the Alan Parsons Project, and the London Symphony Orchestra (in association with Francis Monkman on their Symphonic Rock: British Invasion releases). He also played on various soundtracks, including Monkman’s music for The Long Good Friday.

 

He also wrote the theme music for the internationally-broadcast “Singapore Girl” television advertisements for Singapore Airlines. “Even by the late 80s Sky was still a very well-known band and I think a lot of people jumped on that bandwagon because they wanted to be close to Kevin.”

However, by 1994 Peek had landed himself in jail, serving three years for an elaborate factoring fraud scheme, run out of that same studio.

 

And again following a failed business venture and bankruptcy, in 2010 he was prosecuted in Perth, Western Australia on two counts of making a false statement to deceive or defraud. A full trial was originally scheduled for 2011, later adjourned until 2012 and ultimately never took place as Peek died of melanoma in a Perth hospice on 11 February 2013, aged 66 years.

He was again up on fraud charges at the time of his death, more than 200 of them, regarding his relationship with an import-export business. Prosecutors were poised to argue the business had been a classic multi-million dollar ponzi scheme.

In life, internationally-revered guitarist Kevin Peek was a difficult man to put in a box. With rafts of financial impropriety hanging over the larger-than-life character over the past two decades, at one time landing him in jail, Peek also became a difficult man to track down.

In death, the enigmatic former guitarist for the progressive 70s British rock group Sky, remains as elusive as ever.
After his passing, tributes had started to filter through social media as whispers of the beloved Australian musician’s demise spread through Perth’s tight-knit recording studio community.

It was like working for Benny Hill.

“Kevin was always a very mysterious character,” said Soundbyte Studios director Julian Douglas-Smith who worked as a sound engineer for Peek from the late 80s to the early 90s. Adelaide-born Peek had returned to Australia after a successful career on the British rock scene and taken up part ownership over the West Perth studio.

His stories were littered with names like Elton John, Keith Richards, Tom Jones and Cliff Richard.
Any situation could be reduced to a witty one-liner when Peek was around.
“It was like working for Benny Hill,” Douglas-Smith said. “It was just bizarre.
“You could never have a serious conversation with him – he was always laughing.”
It was the 80s and Peek was a legitimate international rock star, people would have done anything to be close to him.

“He was larger than life,” Douglas-Smith said. “He was a true eccentric and an incredibly talented musician.”
“I think a lot of people were enamored by him and taken in by the fact that he was a rock star.”

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Rick
Huxley
2/2013

Rick HuxleyFebruary 11, 2013 – Rick Huxley  (Dave Clark Five). Rick Huxley 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.

Huxley was originally a guitarist, and it was in that capacity, at age 16, that he answered an advertisement for a spot in a band being formed by drummer Dave Clark in the spring of 1958. The early version of the group also included lead guitarist Mick Ryan and saxman Jim Spencer. By the end of 1959, they’d become favorites on the Mecca Ballroom circuit, especially at the Tottenham Royal, where they acquired a fiercely loyal fan base and started to get noticed by the music press, mostly for their instrumental covers of American R&B standards, interspersed with occasional vocal numbers. By the start of the 1960s, the group’s lineup had shifted, with Mike Smith on keyboards and lead vocals; Lenny Davidson on lead guitar and vocals; Denis Payton on saxophone, harmonica, guitar, and vocals; and Huxley shifting over to bass, vocals, and some acoustic guitar when needed. The group was still struggling to break through to a wider public.

The group’s early efforts for the Ember and Pye labels came to little, but a move to a stronger label in 1963, in the form of EMI’s Columbia Records imprint, helped considerably, and in late 1963 they finally had what they needed in the form of a Dave Clark/Mike Smith original called “Glad All Over,” which reached the number one spot on the charts directly behind “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Those early sides, even going back to their efforts for the Pye label, revealed a unique formula to their recordings that could not have been pursued without Clark’s contractual control over their recordings as producer — unlike most of the pop/rock bands of the period, who would turn down their volume in the studio and try to tone down their stage act, usually at the strong suggestion of a producer out to make the tamest record possible, the Dave Clark Five cut their songs at full volume, and had a larger-than-life sound on their records. The results showed in the playback, at home, and on the radio, where the DC5’s records were instantly identifiable and elicited raves from young teenagers eager for their next good dose of Brit-beat excitement — they were still second to the Beatles, but their sound was almost as beloved by listeners and program directors alike.

This was all to the good where Huxley’s bass was concerned — as much as McCartney on the Beatles’ work (whose own sound was a full-out press in the studio), Bill Wyman on the Stones’ sides, and John Entwistle on the Who’s music, Huxley’s instrument can be heard thumping away and romping all over the group’s early hit sides and album cuts as well, and was especially exposed on the instrumentals that constituted a significant part of the band’s output. On some of the records, such as “Catch Us If You Can,” in the section where the full band comes in after the first verse, his instrument is a surging, powerful core to the band’s sound, holding the rhythm section together while carrying a counter-melody, almost in the manner of John Entwistle, and is heard vividly even in those full-out musical surroundings.

The fact that the records were done in this way made them an especially honest account of the Dave Clark Five’s sound, without any of the softening or embellishments that accompanied most other pop/rock acts of the period on their recordings. They’re also the only direct evidence of the group’s true sound, as the DC5 were almost never heard with live sound in their television or film appearances — every video clip of the band, even when the instruments are plugged in and microphones are in place, appear to be mimed to the records. The group’s success was also something of a family affair for the bassist, as Huxley’s wife handled the fan club for a time as well, until its membership became too big for anyone but a professional to operate.

Huxley and the other members remained with the band until 1970. By that time, the band was far from its mid-’60s prominence on the charts, though it had still scored hits internationally as late as 1969, with its nine-song “Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll” medley. The band’s heyday was 1964-1966, a period in which it racked up 14 consecutive Top Ten hits in the United States and released more than a half-dozen LPs (as opposed to only two albums in England). With the turn of the decade, it seemed the time to call it quits, and that’s what they agreed to do.

After the group disbanded in 1970, he had a career in property as well as continuing to be involved in the music business. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2008 as part of the Dave Clark Five, also in attendance were Lenny Davidson and Dave Clark.

According to his own account in 1998, Huxley went to work for Vox, the musical instrument maker, for two years, and then became partners in Music Equipment Ltd. for the next 14 years. As the turn of the millennium approached, he was working in electrical wholesaling. He still reportedly appreciated the group’s music, and seemed as much as anyone to be delighted with the enduring popularity, as well as the belated critical respect, accorded the Dave Clark Five. Rick Huxley was a heavy smoker, however, and struggled with emphysema for years; he died on February 11, 2013 at the age of 72.

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Reg
Presley
2/2013

The TroggsFebruary 4, 2013 – Reginald Maurice Ball was  born on 12 June 1941 became better known by his stage name Reg Presley, 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.

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’.

The Troggs are widely seen as a highly influential band whose sound was an inspiration for garage rock and punk rock. Influential American critic Lester Bangs “called the band the progenitors of punk”, according to NPR. For example, the Troggs influenced artists such as Iggy Pop and the early version of British pop-punk pioneers Buzzcocks featured “I Can’t Control Myself” in their live repertoire. The Ramones are also amongst punk bands who cited the Troggs as an influence. “I Can’t Control Myself” is perhaps the most enduring favorite of critics; it continues to be championed for its originality and lasting influence by radio hosts such as “Little” Steven Van Zandt.
MC5 covered “I Want You” at their live shows and recorded the song for the album Kick Out the Jams, although they renamed it “I Want You Right Now”.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience famously covered “Wild Thing” during their appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, introducing it as the British/American joint “national anthem”, and climaxing with Hendrix burning his guitar.

More recently performing a live version of Wild Thing featuring Queen guitarist, Brian May to open the rockers ‘Wildlife Rocks’ event at Guildford Cathedral in May 2014.

In 1990, the first hit for the band Spiritualized was a cover of “Anyway That You Want Me”. This cover was later used in the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know.

“With a Girl Like You” is featured uncut in a school dance scene from the 1991 Nicole Kidman/Noah Taylor movie, Flirting. It is also featured in Shine, The Good Night and The Boat That Rocked.

In 1991, “Love Is All Around” was covered by R.E.M. during live performances and was released later that year as a B-side on their “Radio Song” single. They also performed an acoustic version of the song on MTV Unplugged.

In 1994, Scottish band Wet Wet Wet’s version of Love Is All Around spent fifteen weeks at number one in the UK after its inclusion in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The authorship royalties enabled Reg Presley’s 1990s research and publication on extraterrestrials and other paranormal phenomena.

The point-and-click adventure game Hopkins FBI features “I Can’t Control Myself” and “Lost Girl”.

A modified version of “Love Is All Around” was featured in the film Love Actually (2003), performed by actor Bill Nighy.

“The Troggs” was the name of the high school gang in the movie Bang Bang, You’re Dead, who persuade the main character to join them in attacking their high school.

“Trogg” is the name of one of Bane’s three henchmen in Dennis O’Neil’s Batman: Knightfall comic arc. The other henchmen are Byrd and Zombie, named after two other popular ’60s rock bands, the Byrds and the Zombies.

An in-studio tape of Reg Presley’s running commentary on a recording session, filled with in-fighting and swearing (known as The Troggs Tapes), was widely circulated in the music underground, and was included in the Archaeology box set, as well as the compilation album, The Rhino Brothers Present the World’s Worst Records. The in-group infighting is believed to be the inspiration for a scene in the comedy film, This is Spinal Tap, where the band members are arguing. Some of this dialogue was sampled by the California punk band The Dwarves on their recording of a cover version of the Troggs song “Strange Movies”.

Such was the influence Reg Presley and the Troggs had on Rock and Roll.

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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.

The remaining trio of Harry, Curtis and Friendly Jr. signed with Jubilee Records where they recorded the Cecil-composed “Two Lovers History” and “Tired Of Being Nobody” before being dropped in 1970. Later in the 60s, Cecil concerntrated more on song writing and production. He provided his then wife, Mary Wells, with several chart successes including “The Doctor” released on Jubille Records.

His later songwriting credits include “Love TKO” a major hit for Teddy Pendergrass, “I Just Want To Satisfy You” for The O’Jays, “Love Symphony” for Patti LaBelle, and “New Day” for George Benson.

After Cecil divorced Mary Wells in 1977, he went on to marry Sam Cooke’s daughter Linda and they formed Womack and Womack.

In 1983, Cecil and Linda, began performing and recording together as Womack & Womack, and released a successful album, Love Wars on Elektra Records. The title track from the album was a no.14 hit in the UK, and the song “Baby I’m Scared Of You” was a minor hit on the Billboard R&B chart in the US. In 1988, their single “Teardrops”, taken from their fourth album Conscience, became a major international hit reportedly selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. It reached no.3 in the UK, and no.1 in the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, though it did not chart in the US.

After traveling to Nigeria, they discovered ancestral ties to the Zekkariyas tribe, and Cecil adopted the name Zekkariyas. In 1993 they released their final album with a major label, Transformed To The House Of Zekkariyas. They continued to write for other artists, including Ruby Turner and Randy Crawford, and released their final album, Circular Motion, in 2007.

Zekuumba Zekkariyas spent his final years traveling the world with his wife and 7 children, and using his time to explore his African heritage, spirituality and knowledge of the continent as well as making music. He died of unknown causes in South Africa on February 1, 2013, at age 65.

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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, 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.

After Mountain he performed regularly with the Red Onion Jazz band and his love of jazz and middle eastern rhythms lead him to join the musical group, Taksim, a Middle-Eastern heavily improvisational jazz group that played in complicated and odd-meter time signatures that boggle the Western mind. He stayed with Taksim for over twenty years after which Knight then returned to traditional jazz and worked in specialty engineering (as a door engineer), and as a songwriter, author and part-time musician.

In the mid-1990s, Knight left New York City and returned to Woodstock. In November 1999, he was elected to a seat on the Woodstock Town Board. He was re-elected to a second term in 2003. In 2007 Knight chose not to seek a third four-year term, instead choosing to focus on his personal life including several music projects.

Knight died January 19, 2013 in New York of complications from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 77.

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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, who had joined from Van der Graaf Generator, then on a brief hiatus.

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

When Van der Graaf Generator decided to reform after a brief hiatus, Nic replaced their earlier bassist Keith Ellis. 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.

He then joined Rare Bird, with whom he recorded two LPs in 1972 & 73. Though no longer a member of Van Der Graaf, he continued to play on Hammill’s solo recordings, 14 in all between 1971-94. In 1977, after Hugh Banton and David Jackson had left Van der Graaf Generator, Potter was asked to re-join. He plays on both The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome (1977) and the double live-album Vital (1978).

However, he was still uncomfortable with the dynamic of the band as he had been previously, stating “sometimes it felt like a cloud coming down – a very ominous feeling.” He was particularly concerned at a gig in Annecy, France where he claimed someone was trying to perform an exorcism of the band’s music while on stage, and had to be helped back to the dressing room, feeling very shaken.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s Potter continued to record – he released nine solo albums – and do session work with Hammill and others, including Jeff Beck and Chuck Berry. On tour with Peter Hammill, including being the bassist for the K-Group (from 1981–1985), and with the Tigers (in 1980) and Duncan Browne (in 1984).

In 1995 Potter produced and played the bass on the posthumous album Songs of Love and War by Duncan Browne. In 2008 Potter published the live album Live in Italy, together with many musicians like David Jackson and Tony Pagliuca (L’Orme).

All Potter’s solo albums were published and remastered in 2009.

During the last two years of his life, Potter suffered from Pick’s disease, a dementia like illness. In January 2013, Potter was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. He died there in the later hours of 16 January, 2013.

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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 this 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.

John and Elvis met again in 1968, when the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll saw John on a TV show in Los Angeles and called to invite John to join his band. John played over 1,200 shows as Elvis’ rhythm guitar player, right up until The King’s death in 1977.

After that he played less music, and made a living in retail and airline services management. He married his wife, Terry, in 1983. A serious stroke in 1989 left him unable to play the guitar. Nevertheless, for several years after that, he traveled the U.S. and Europe, appearing with the old TCB band and others, singing and paying tribute to Elvis. He was proud of the fact that he never turned down a request for an autograph.

Everyone in the TCB band was family. “Besides my own father, he was probably the most kind and compassionate and considerate and generous man I’ve ever met in my life,” Wilkinson said of Presley, still wearing the gold TCB emblem the King put around his neck in 1969.

Even after suffering a stroke in 1989 that left him unable to play the guitar, Wilkinson continued singing with fellow musicians, including the old TCB Band (the acronym stood for Taking Care of Business), and also made a living in retail and airline services management.

Despite his amazing musicianship -“He was honestly one of the best acoustic guitar players I’d ever heard,”- admitted one of his band mates, he enjoyed the incredible places he got to visit, and his entertaining stories of meeting famous people, the most remarkable thing about John was his kindness.

It didn’t matter if he was meeting adoring fans, joking with Chuck Berry about keeping his B-string in tune, or if he was talking to a neighbor about her dog, people were people to him. Folks were folks. John would look you square in the eye and accept you, just as you were. There was nothing phony about him. Ellison recalled, adding that Wilkinson kept in touch with many of the performers from the folk music era in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

John died fighting a long battle with cancer on Jan 11, 2013 at age 67.

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Sugarfoot
Bonner
1/2013

leroy-bonnerJanuary 27, 2013 – Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner was born 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, which with Leroy’s rip-it-up guitar work and taste for something funky 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 include “Who’d She Coo?” and their double No.1 hit songs “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire” in January 1976.

The Ohio Players had seven Top 40 hits in the 1970s and helped define a funk movement that included Parliament Funkadelic and Kool & the Gang. The band’s success stemmed substantially from Bonner’s playfully commanding lead vocals and gusto.

Humble yet charismatic, soft spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics, and music has influenced countless other artists, songs, and trends. The band’s lineup changed over the years, but its instrumentation and sound remained basically the same: a solid, driving groove provided by guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, punctuated by staccato blasts from a horn section. Vocals were a secondary consideration. “We were players,” Bonner told The Dayton Daily News in an interview in 2003. “We weren’t trying to be lead singers.” The core members of the band did not originally sing, he explained, but “we got so tired of having singers leave us that we decided we’d just do the singing ourselves.”

“I used to play with my back to the audience in the old days,” he added. “I didn’t want to see them because they were distracting. Then the first time I turned around and opened my mouth, we had a hit record with Skin Tight. That’s amazing to me.”

After their break up Sugarfoot, assisted by Roger Troutman and his Zapp brethren, went solo in 1985 with Sugar Kiss – the same year Zapp released The New Zapp IV U (featuring “Computer Love”), while Shirley Murdock was on the verge of scoring with the Troutman-produced “As We Lay.”

From 1973 to 1976 the Ohio Players had seven singles in the Billboard Top 40. Both “Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster” reached No. 1. Although the band’s heyday was four decades ago, its sound has been kept alive by others. “Love Rollercoaster” gained new fans through a 1996 cover version by Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Funky Worm” has been sampled by many hip-hop artists.

With a career spanning 56 years, he had remained active in recent years with a spinoff band called Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players. Bonner passed barely short of his 70th birthday, fighting cancer on January 27, 2013.

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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”.

Continue reading Patti Page 1/2013