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Dan McCafferty 11-2022

William Daniel McCafferty (14 October 1946 – 8 November 2022) was born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland where he attended St Margaret’s school. He had no formal musical training, but in 1965 he joined the Shadettes, who dressed in matching yellow suits and played cover versions of Top 30 pop hits in local venues such as the Belleville Hotel and Kinema Ballroom. Every week the band had to add three new songs from the charts to their repertoire, learning them on Sunday afternoon to perform that night.

The Shadettes had been in existence since 1961, and when McCafferty joined, its members included bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet. In 1968 Manny Charlton, who passed away earlier in May of this year (2022), joined as lead guitarist, and in December that year the foursome changed their name to Nazareth, inspired by the Band’s song The Weight and its line about pulling into Nazareth “feelin’ ’bout half past dead”. The reference was to the Pennsylvania town, rather than any Biblical connotation.

With financial backing and management from a local bingo-halls millionaire, Bill Fehilly, the band moved to London in 1970. Their energetic performing schedule brought them a deal with Pegasus Records, which released their debut album, Nazareth, in late 1971. It made little impression, though the band’s seven-minute version of the folk standard Morning Dew allowed McCafferty to demonstrate a vocal range stretching from quiet introspection to heavy-metal howling. The follow-up album Exercises (1972) likewise failed to chart.

The total breakthrough with Hair of the Dog however, which included their eponymous version of Love Hurts kicked off a streak of albums that hit the US charts (including a No 24 placing for Close Enough for Rock’n’Roll and 41 for Malice in Wonderland), though Stateside success coincided with their albums failing to register on the British charts. 

A shorthand description of the musical style of Nazareth would be hard rock, but it Love Hurts was a cover of a slow ballad with its roots in country music, that became the trigger to the band winning international acceptance. Love Hurts had originally been recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1960, but Nazareth preferred the version from the Gram Parsons album Grievous Angel (1974).

“We had always liked Love Hurts as done by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, so we thought we would have a go at that one,” recalled Dan McCafferty. “We recorded it and thought it was great.”

It was hardly a typical Nazareth song, but it was a stunning showcase for McCafferty’s anguished vocal performance. His face framed by a tangle of black curls, he projected the lyrics with the power of a heavy-metal frontman, while managing to keep the heartbreaking melody intact. “I think too many singers are paranoid with their voices – ‘it’s too smoky’, ‘it’s too cold’ or whatever,” he said. “I just don’t worry about it.”

They had only intended to use the track as the B-side to a single, but their US record label A&M instantly grasped its hit potential and released it as an A-side. It reached the US Top 10 and was a hit around the world. Included on the album Hair of the Dog (1975) in the US, though not on the UK release, it propelled the album into the US Top 20 and helped it sell 2 million copies, making it the most successful of Nazareth’s career.

It is however fair to say that in the hands of Roger Glover, Nazareth’s success had been building since their third album, Razamanaz (1973), the first of three discs produced by Roger Glover from Deep Purple, whom Nazareth had supported on tour.

It was an accurate representation of the band’s rugged, blues-based repertoire, with McCafferty’s imposing vocal presence announcing that he had what it took to stand alongside such other illustrious frontmen as Free’s Paul Rodgers or Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant. The album reached No 11 in the UK and even pierced the US Top 200, while Bad Bad Boy and the romping, stomping Broken Down Angel were both UK Top 10 singles.

They were back among the hits with Loud’n’Proud (1973), their fourth album, which reached No 10 in the UK. It also gave them a hit single with their version of Joni Mitchell’s This Flight Tonight, utterly transformed from the original’s acoustic guitar and fluttery vocals by Nazareth’s hard-rock throb, with Dan McCafferty’s sandpapery rasp soaring to operatic heights. Mitchell was amazed and delighted when she heard it. The song was also a major hit in Canada, where Nazareth became an enduringly popular act throughout their career.

The band’s expertise in cover versions gained during their earlier incarnation as the Dunfermline band the Shadettes paid off handsomely as they proceeded to record a boldly eclectic range of other people’s songs alongside their original material. Loud’n’Proud also included versions of Bob Dylan’s Ballad of Hollis Brown and Little Feat’s Teenage Nervous Breakdown, while on Rampant (1974) they unleashed an apocalyptic retread of The Yardbirds’ Shapes of Things.

They took it further on Hair of the Dog (1975), pairing a soulful take on Randy Newman’s Guilty, featuring a Rod Stewart-like performance by McCafferty, with a rowdy update of Nils Lofgren’s Beggars Day. The swashbuckling strut of the album’s title track also became a Nazareth classic, and one which inspired the future Guns N’ Roses frontman, Axl Rose, whose own vocals would bear a McCafferty-like timbre.

Also in 1975 Nazareth reached the UK Top 20 with their version of the underground classic My White Bicycle, originally recorded by Tomorrow. 2XS (1982) was their last album to reach the US Top 200 listing.

The band kept on touring the world for another 3 decades, with several album releases that were mostly bought by the band’s loyal fans. McCafferty kept fronting the band until 2013 when his COPD got the best of him and 90 minutes shows were simply becoming too exhausting. McCafferty features on all Nazareth’s albums up to Rock’n’Roll Telephone (2014), though his COPD meant that he had had to give up live performances in 2013. Also that year, he collapsed on stage at a gig in Cranbrook, British Columbia, because of a burst stomach ulcer.

“I’m sad about it but I just can’t sing a whole set live any more,” he said in 2014. He was replaced as vocalist by Carl Sentance, though was subsequently able to record his third solo album, Last Testament (2019), following on from Dan McCafferty (1975) and Into the Ring (1987).

Dan McCafferty passed away from COPD on November 8, 2022 at the age of 76.

Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” was the highest-charting version of the tune — also famously covered by Cher as the title track of her 1991 album of the same name — and it has become a go-to power ballad in dozens of movies, including Wayne’s World, This is Spinal Tap, Dazed and Confused, Rock Star, Empire Records, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and many more.

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Jerry Lee Lewis – 10/2022

Jerry Lee Lewis was born on Sept. 29, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana, to Elmo Lewis, a carpenter, and Mamie (Herron) Lewis. When he was a boy, he and two of his cousins, the future evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and the future country singer Mickey Gilley (who died this year), liked to sneak into a local dance hall, Haney’s Big House, to hear top blues acts perform.

He showed an aptitude for the piano, and his father borrowed money to buy him one. “The more he practiced, the surer the left hand and wilder the right hand became,” Mr. Tosches wrote in “Hellfire.”

At 14, he was invited to sit in with a band performing at a local Ford dealership, which was celebrating the arrival of the 1950 models. He played “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” — the tune, a hit for Sticks McGhee in 1949, would be a minor pop hit for Mr. Lewis in 1973 — and he took home nearly $15 when someone passed the hat.

He soon became a regular at clubs in Natchez, just across the Mississippi River, and on the radio station KWKH in Shreveport, La. His deeply worried mother, a Pentecostal Christian, enrolled him in the Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas.

“I didn’t graduate,” he told The New York Times in 2006. “I was kind of quit-uated. I was asked to leave for playing ‘My God Is Real’ boogie-woogie style, rock ’n’ roll style. I figured that’s the way it needed to be played.”

After selling sewing machines door to door for a while, Jerry Lee tried his luck in Nashville, without success. “I remember it very well,” he told Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins, the authors of “Sun Records: The Brief History of the Legendary Record Label” (1980). “I was turned down by every label in town.”

Married at 17 to Dorothy Barton for one year, immediately followed by marriage two at 18 to Jane Mitcham for 4 years, a hardscrabble life on the road ensued. “My father would load that old piano onto the back of his truck, we’d drive somewhere, unload it, I’d give a show, we’d pass the hat, he’d load it back on again, and we’d go home and see what we’d got,” he said.

In desperation, he and his father sold 33 dozen eggs and, with the proceeds, headed for the studios of Sun Records. Initially he planned to sing country music, but the producer Jack Clement urged him to try rock ’n’ roll. The label on his first single billed him as “Jerry Lee Lewis With His Pumping Piano.”

The Sun period was brief but very eventful. He was 21 in November 1956 when he walked into Sun Studio in Memphis and, presenting himself as a country singer who could play a mean piano, “demanding” an audition.

After cutting his first record, Mr. Lewis worked as a studio musician for the label.

Just weeks later, he was in the studio on Dec. 4, 1956, when Elvis Presley dropped by for a friendly visit, sat down at the piano and began singing rhythm-and-blues songs and hymns with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis in an informal session later released as the album “Million Dollar Quartet.” The session inspired a popular musical of the same name, by Floyd Mutrux and Mr. Escott, which opened on Broadway in 2010, ran for a year, and then played Off Broadway for another year.

His timing was impeccable. Sun Records had sold Elvis Presley’s contract to RCA Records a year earlier and badly needed a new star to headline a roster that included Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.

Lewis more than filled the bill. His first record, a juiced-up rendition of the Ray Price hit “Crazy Arms,” was a regional success. With “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” released in April 1957, he gave Sun the breakout hit it was looking for.

Although initially banned by many radio stations for being too suggestive, “Whole Lotta Shakin’” reached a nationwide audience after Lewis on “The Steve Allen Show.” It rose to No. 3 on the pop charts and sold some six million copies worldwide, making it one of the biggest hits of the early rock ’n’ roll era.

With the success of “Whole Lotta Shakin’,” Mr. Lewis’s performance fee rose from $50 to $10,000 in a matter of months. He was invited on “American Bandstand” and appeared in “Jamboree,” a 1957 rock ’n’ roll film that also featured performances by Frankie Avalon, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins and others.

Overnight, Mr. Lewis entered into direct competition with Presley. But as Lewis saw it, there was no contest.“There’s a difference between a phenomenon and a stylist,” he told the record-collector magazine Goldmine in 1981. “I’m a stylist, Elvis was the phenomenon, and don’t you forget it.”

In November 1957, Sun released “Great Balls of Fire,” a high-octane sexual anthem written by Otis Blackwell, whose other songs included the Presley hits “All Shook Up” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”

The song again featured Lewis’s distinctive barrelhouse piano style, with the left hand insistently beating the keys and the right executing rippling glissandos, while he gave a leering swoop to lines like “Kiss me, baby — mmmm, feels good.” The record reached No. 2 on the pop charts, selling more than five million copies in the United States alone.

His scorching performing style suited his material. Lewis, sometimes called by his childhood nickname the Killer, discovered that audiences loved it when he kicked his piano bench aside and attacked the keyboard standing up. Possessed by “the Devil’s music,” as he called it, he writhed and howled, raked the keyboard with his right foot and tossed his wavy blond hair until it looked like a fright wig.

“Nobody had a more creative approach to the music or a more incendiary approach to performing it,” Peter Guralnick, the author of the definitive two-volume Presley biography, said. “He had the ability to put his stamp on every kind of material he recorded.”

But Mr. Lewis fell as quickly as he had risen. In 1958, as his third hit, “Breathless,” rose to No. 2, he embarked on what was meant to be a triumphal tour of Britain. Reporters discovered that the young girl traveling with him, Myra Gale Brown, was his 13-year-old bride — and his cousin — and that Lewis, true to the Rock and Roll lifestyle, had still been married to his second wife when he recited the vows for his third marriage. Asked by reporters if 13 wasn’t a little young to be married, Mr. Lewis’s wife said: “Oh, no, not at all. Age doesn’t matter back home. You can marry at 10 if you can find a husband.”

Culturally quite true, the revelations caused a scandal on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr. Lewis cut his tour short and returned to the United States, where he quickly discovered that his career as a rock star was over. His recording of “High School Confidential,” from the movie of the same name, eventually came out — Sun feared to release it after the scandal broke — and reached No. 21. But his subsequent records failed miserably. Christian hypocrisy was and is still a killer of talent. Come on people, this man was born in Ferriday, Louisiana in 1935; a hole in the wall across from Natchez on the Mississippi River. The same 110°F hell hole on a summer’s day, that gave birth to evangelist Jimmy Lee Swaggart. Remember? Children grow up fast in those places.

But Sun, which Mr. Lewis would leave in 1963, became reluctant to promote him. Many radio stations refused to play his music. Concert dates dried up. Mr. Lewis seemed mystified by the response. “I plumb married the girl, didn’t I?” he said to one reporter.

Reduced to performing in small clubs for a few hundred dollars a night, Mr. Lewis found redemption in country music. At Smash Records, which signed him in 1963, a string of failures led producers to suggest that he return to his roots and record some purely country songs.

It was a natural fit. Both of his biggest rock ’n’ roll hits had topped the country charts, and his soaring, resonant voice, in the vein of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, lent itself equally to up-tempo honky-tonk numbers and cry-in-your beer laments.

His first country release, “Another Place, Another Time,” reached No. 4 on the Billboard country chart in 1968, and he scored Top 10 country hits that year with “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me),” “She Still Comes Around (to Love What’s Left of Me)” and “To Make Love Sweeter for You.”

His second hot streak continued into the 1970s. He would eventually record nearly two dozen Top 10 country singles, ending with “39 and Holding” in 1981, and nearly as many Top 10 country albums. He even managed to creep onto the pop charts in 1972 with a recording of the Kris Kristofferson song “Me and Bobby McGee” and a cover version of the Big Bopper hit “Chantilly Lace.”

Years of heavy drinking and drug abuse began to take their toll, however, and his life for much of the 1970s and ’80s was a sad catalog of family catastrophes, health crises and run-ins with the I.R.S. and the police. His troubled son Jerry Lee Jr. died in a car crash in 1973. In September 1976, while watching television at his wife’s house, Lewis accidentally shot his bass player, Norman Owens, in the chest with a .357 Magnum handgun after announcing, “I’m going to shoot that Coca-Cola bottle over there or my name ain’t Jerry Lee Lewis.” Mr. Owens survived and filed a lawsuit.

Two months later, Mr. Lewis drove his Lincoln Continental into the front gates of Graceland, Presley’s mansion in Memphis, just hours after being arrested and jailed on a drunken-driving charge. A guard later told the police that Mr. Lewis, waving a pistol, had demanded to see Presley and refused to leave.

Repeat visits to hospitals and rehabilitation centers ensued. Internal bleeding from a tear in his stomach lining almost killed him in 1981. His fourth wife, Jaren Pate, drowned in a friend’s swimming pool in 1982. His fifth wife, Shawn Michelle Stephens, died after taking an overdose of methadone in 1983. In 1985, after doctors removed half his stomach to correct a bleeding ulcer, Mr. Lewis slowly began to settle down. His 6th marriage to Kerrie McCarver ended in divorce in 2004. 

Third wife, Myra Lewis’s book “Great Balls of Fire: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis,” published in 1982, inspired the 1989 film “Great Balls of Fire!,” with Dennis Quaid playing Mr. Lewis. The film and book, as well as Nick Tosches’s biography “Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story,” also published in 1982, contributed to a renewed interest in the singer. (“Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story,” by Rick Bragg, was published in 2014.)

His recordings were repackaged by Rhino Records in “Jerry Lee Lewis: 18 Original Sun Greatest Hits” and “The Jerry Lewis Anthology: All Killer No Filler!,” a compilation of 42 of his rock and country hits. The German company Bear Family reissued virtually every note he ever recorded for Sun and Smash in the boxed sets “Classic Jerry Lee Lewis: The Definitive Edition of His Sun Recordings” and “Jerry Lee Lewis: The Locust Years.

Later in his career, despite his success as a country singer, Lewis sometimes confessed to hankering after the old rock ’n’ roll days. “You know, if I could just find another like ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’,’” he told Mr. Guralnick in a 1971 interview. “Some records just got that certain something. But I ain’t gonna find another. Just like I was born once into this world and I ain’t gonna be born again.”

In 2019 he suffered a serious stroke that left him unable to play the piano. A year later, however, he recorded an album of gospel songs in Nashville and, during the session, found that his right hand had begun moving, allowing him to pound the keys. (That album has yet to be released.)

Before then he had been recording sporadically, often with younger artists eager to work with one of rock ’n’ roll’s founding fathers. On albums like “Last Man Standing” (2006), “Mean Old Man” (2010) and “Rock & Roll Time” (2014), he performed with the likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Page, Neil Young and Kid Rock. Late in his career he often recorded with younger artists eager to work with one of rock ’n’ roll’s founding fathers. The idea that the greatest names in rock should come to him struck him as perfectly natural. “I’m the only one left who’s worth a damn,” he told Goldmine in 1981. “Everyone else is dead or gone. Only the Killer rocks on.”

In 2022 — 36 years after he was one of the first inductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — Jerry Lee Lewis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was too ill to attend the ceremony; Kris Kristofferson accepted his award in his stead and presented it to him at his home.

In a statement the day his induction was announced,  Lewis said, “To be recognized by country music with their highest honor is a humbling experience.” He added, “I am appreciative of all those who have recognized that Jerry Lee Lewis music is country music and to our almighty God for his never-ending redeeming grace.”

Jerry Lee Lewis died on Friday October 28, 2022 at his home in DeSoto County, Miss., south of Memphis. He was 87. He had been in poor health for some time. He is survived by his 7th wife, Judith Coghlan Lewis; his children, Jerry Lee Lewis III, Ronnie Lewis, Phoebe Lewis and Lori Lancaster; his sister, Linda Gail Lewis, who is also a singer and pianist; and many grandchildren.

Jerry Lee Lewis was the hard-driving rockabilly artist whose pounding boogie-woogie piano and bluesy, country-influenced vocals helped define the sound of rock ’n’ roll on hits like “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” and whose incendiary performing style expressed the essence of rock rebellion. 

An interesting anecdote of how rock rebellion had little to do with love and peace is the following “meeting of the minds” when Janis Joplin met Jerry Lee Lewis.

Keep in mind that Janis was no sweet little innocent flower of the 1960s music scene either. The Texas blues rocker could be brash and loud at any given moment… and Jerry Lee Lewis was certainly no angel… his main nickname was after all ‘‘The Killer’. So once the two met it’s no surprise that there was whole lotta shakin’ gonna happen. In 1969 Janis had a thing for the bass player in Lewis’s band so after seeing a show that Jerry Lee was playing on a Texas road in Beaumont, Texas, she went backstage to Lewis’s dressing room, and took her little sister Laura along with her. Well Lewis had a tendency to be hostile towards the visitors, and the meeting did not end well.

Evidently Lee was definitely not welcoming. Janis said hi Jerry Lee, this is my hometown. I wanted to, you know, make you welcome here and Jerry Lee replied back by saying to little sister Laura, “You wouldn’t be bad looking if you weren’t trying to look like your sister.” at which point big sister Janis punched the Rocker! But tat wasn’t the end of it. At that point Lewis hit Joplin right back, saying “If you’re going to act like a man, I’m going to treat you like one!”. Bystanders needed to pull her up and keep the two apart and pull Janis out. It seems it was a very country-rock ‘n’ roll kinda night.

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Judith Durham – 8/2022

Judith Durham, born Judith Mavis Cock in Melbourne, Australia (3 July 1943 – 5 August 2022) would for most rock and roll aficionados not belong on a tribute website for rock heroes. But when I learned of her passing last week, I realized that many of her early songs with the Seekers played an important part in my early rock and roll involvement – from learning to play guitar to appreciation for soft melodic rock during the early years of my teenage awareness. Also, Judith had a voice that mastered and actually stood out in almost every category of 60’s modern music. She could sweet voice you into folksy romance, belt it out in jazz rock, make you inconspicuously suffer the blues or lead the pack in a pop song. She could even sing the classics.

Early in life Judith believed her future would be as a pianist. She went on to gain her Associate In Music, Australia (A.Mus.A.) in classical piano as a student of world-renowned concert pianist Professor Ronald Farren-Price at the Melbourne University Conservatorium, with her first professional engagement in the arts playing piano for a ballet school.

Still in her teens, although excelling on piano, little Judy Cock dreamed of fame singing opera or musical comedy and in 1961, aged 18, she was ready to begin classical vocal training.  One night, just for fun, she ‘sat in’ with a trad jazz band at a local dance called “Memphis”, and found instant success performing blues, gospels, and jazz standards of the 1920s and 1930s, also developing as a serious ragtime pianist. She began using her mother’s maiden name, and at 19 she made her first record, an EP for W&G “Judy Durham” with Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers.

Meanwhile, by day since leaving school, Judy’s first job was as Secretary to the Pathologist at the Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital, but on taking a new secretarial job at J Walter Thompson Advertising, on her first day she met account executive Athol Guy.  Athol played acoustic bass and also sang bass in a trio called The Seekers and invited her that very night to come and join him and the two guitarists Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley, to sing acoustic four-part harmony folk and gospel at a Melbourne coffee lounge “Treble Clef”.  Still singing regularly with various jazz bands nearly every other night, she then became a regular every Monday with The Seekers.  Adopting her birth name Judith, she recorded an album with The Seekers for W&G, appeared on local TV, then set sail for London in 1964 on “SS Fairsky” for a 10-week stay, singing for their supper on board.

On the advice of Australian entertainer Horrie Dargie, the group sent the album and TV footage ahead to a big theatrical agency, The Grade Organisation, and on their arrival in ‘swinging London’, agent Eddie Jarrett booked them extensively in clubs, TV, and variety theatre.  He asked Tom Springfield (Dusty’s brother) to write and produce a single, resulting in the surprise chart-topper “I’ll Never Find Another You” which made The Seekers the first Australian group ever to hit No.1 internationally, made Judith Australia’s very first international pop princess and pin-up girl, and unexpectedly cemented her in the group as a full-time Seeker.

The next few years brought The Seekers worldwide adulation, with tours, more albums, and a succession of huge and lasting hits including “A World Of Our Own”, “The Carnival Is Over” and “Morningtown Ride”, which rivalled all the top groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the No.1 spot.  The Seekers’ biggest international seller was “Georgy Girl”, originally written (music by Tom Springfield, words by Jim Dale) and recorded as the title song for the movie starring Lynn Redgrave, James Mason, Charlotte Rampling and Alan Bates.  The song was nominated for an Academy Award® and the single made history when the group became the first Australians ever to reach the No.1 spot in the USA.

In 1967, The Seekers set an official all-time record when more than 200,000 people (nearly one tenth of the city’s entire population at that time!) flocked to their performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.  Their TV special ‘The Seekers Down Under’ scored the biggest TV audience ever (with a 67 rating), and early in 1968 they were all awarded the nation’s top honour as “Australians Of The Year 1967”.

But 24 year old Judith wanted to spread her wings, and without any notion of the lasting universal grief to be suffered by shocked Seekers fans worldwide, she plucked up courage to give ‘the boys’ six months’ notice.  She was to leave the group in July 1968 to return to Australia … possibly to pursue a career as a solo singer in opera or musical theater … and she hoped to find ‘Mr. Right’.

The surprise for Judith was to receive offers as a solo artist, so she asked a London-based freelance musician, Ron Edgeworth, to be her musical director, pianist and arranger and a couple of years later her Mr. Right.  In big demand as a London-based freelance musician, Ron had worked with all the big names, and had earlier toured and recorded with the legendary Alexis Korner’s All Stars.

From there on Judith started her solo career, with an occasional Seekers reunion over the years, and also focused on composing and writing music. Her one-woman shows stunned audiences and critics with her unique gift for singing in all styles – from folk to country, jazz to pop, blues to gospel, original songs, ragtime piano and even classical.

An indelible mark was made with Judith’s transition into her now classic mid-70s trad jazz recordings with bands she formed with Ron in San Francisco and London.  “The Hottest Band In Town Collection” is now available though Universal.  They also released a legendary album of their piano and voice performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1978 (“The Hot Jazz Duo”).

Through the 80s Judith Durham and Ron Edgeworth based themselves on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and for the first time Judith concentrated totally on writing and performing her own compositions, even completing a full scale musical “Gotta Be Rainbows” with book written by eminent playwright Ian Austin.  Having experienced her very first songwriting success in 1967 with co-writer David Reilly on The Seekers classic “Colours Of My Life”, by the 80s Judith had developed through the decades as a remarkably talented and prolific composer of both lyrics and music, writing more than 300 works.

After the untimely passing of her husband in 1994,  51 year old Judith, went back into recording albums and touring. In 1996 Judith again toured the UK as a solo artist with the release of “Mona Lisas” (later repackaged as “Always There” in Australia), her Abbey Road album of legendary 60s and 70s covers produced by the late Gus Dudgeon.

To welcome in the new millennium with delighted Seekers fans around the world, she embarked on The Seekers ‘Carnival Of Hits Tour 2000’, and in 2001 Judith celebrated her own remarkable life-long musical journey in her “40th Anniversary” Australian concert tour.

In the same year, as an unexpected treat for loyal Seekers fans, Judith recorded with ‘the boys’ the album “Morningtown Ride To Christmas”, and late in 2002 a double album “Night Of Nights … Live!” was released after The Seekers’ Australian tour, in conjunction with The Seekers’ Australia Post Souvenir Stamp Sheet commemorating 40 years of musical magic from Australia’s first-ever international pop icons.

2003 was one of Judith’s busiest and most artistically satisfying years ever. In March she toured Australia with ‘the boys’ on The Seekers` `Never Say Never Again! Tour` which was received joyfully by fans all over the country – and with barely a month to get ready, she flew to the UK for her massive solo tour. Highlight after highlight followed, leading up to the Magic Date of December 3, 2013, the 50th Birthday of the Seekers.

Judith was thrilled to embark on a whole year of celebration – marking half a century of Seekers music. Judith found herself back in the studio with the group recording and filming two standout tracks for ‘The Golden Jubilee Album: 50 Tracks For 50 Years’.  “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” and the visual feast of “In My Life” were destined to be standout moments in ‘The Golden Jubilee Tour’, when The Seekers hit the road in May/June 2013.

Following the media frenzy of their 50th Birthday Party in Melbourne came yet another accolade for The Seekers – the presentation of a 24-carat gold ‘stamp’ by Australia Post as part of their ‘Legends of Australian Music’ series – and the official handover of the portrait of the group to the National Portrait Gallery, painted by Helen Edwards, “The Seekers Reunite 50 Years On”.

The group announced and then sold-out a ‘Golden Jubilee Tour’ of Australia, which was abruptly halted when Judith suffered a brain hemorrhage after the first of four sold-out nights in Melbourne.  Six months of hospitalisation and rehabilitation followed – during which time Judith’s commemorative ‘Platinum Album’ was released to mark her 70th birthday – before she was given the green light for the Australian tour to resume. Another sold-out tour of New Zealand followed, before The Seekers toured the United Kingdom, performing 18 sold-out show culminating in two packed houses at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Just prior to the return to Australia, The Seekers were advised that they had individually been awarded the Order of Australia (AO) – one of the highest honours that can be bestowed on Australian citizens.  Judith would add yet another honour to her tally by being named Victorian of the Year 2015 the following year.

Also, in 2015, Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical opened to packed house in Melbourne, before moving on to successful seasons in Sydney and Perth.  Among the production’s many musical numbers were Judith’s “Mama’s Got the Blues” and “I Remember”, and “Colours of my Life”, which she co-wrote with David Reilly.

Judith undertook a solo ‘farewell’ tour of New Zealand, playing 18 sold-out concerts as her Colours of my Life compilation CD soared to No. 2 on the charts there.

And in 2018, Ambition Entertainment packaged The Seekers’ three record-breaking 60s TV spectacular into one magnificent collector’s edition set, The Seekers: The Legendary Television Specials.  Proving again that the music of The Seekers is timeless and much loved, the DVD set reached No. 1 on the ARIA chart!

Another highlight of 2018 is the release of Judith’s first solo studio album in six years.  Timed to mark Judith’s 75th birthday, So Much More is a collection of beautiful songs that Judith Durham has composed with some immensely talented writers and musicians from around the world – all lovingly crafted, and superbly sung.

These never-before-released tracks tell of hope and courage, pain and loss, all-consuming devotion, uplifting spirituality, friendship, and a profound love of Australia and its indigenous heritage.

Durham was born with asthma and at age four she caught measles, which left her with a life-long chronic lung disease, bronchiectasis. Durham died from bronchiectasis on 5 August 2022, at age 79. She definitely avoided the “Rock and Roll lifestyle” during her life, without smoking, little to no alcohol, a vegetarian since 1968 and a vegan in later life.

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Vangelis 5/22

17 May 2022  – Vangelis (Greek film composer and keyboards-synthesizer for Aphrodite’s Child). Vangelis was born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou on March 29, 1943 in the Greek town of Agria. He was a self-taught musician who became a young piano prodigy. Then he moved to Paris and co-founded with Demis Roussos, the popular prog-rock group Aphrodite’s Child. After several mega hits the band eventually split and Vangelis got a solo record deal with RCA Records, while still collaborating often with Roussos.

In 1981 he composed the score for Chariots of Fire. Its opening theme, with its uplifting inspirational swell and ornate arrangement, was released as a single and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. His efforts earned him a win for best original score at the Academy Awards.

The success led him to other film work. Notably, he composed the soundtrack for the original Blade Runner, as well as Carl Sagan’s PBS documentary series Cosmos. Outside of composing scores, Vangelis was prolific in his solo career, regularly releasing albums up until 2021’s Juno to Jupiter.

While he was most associated with the synthesizer, the instrument was also a source of frustration for him. “I’ve been using synthesizers for so many years, but they’ve never been designed properly. They create a lot of problems.” he told NPR in 2016. “The computers have completely different logic than the human logic.” So for his 2016 record Rosetta, dedicated to the space probe of the same name, he built his own synthesizer.

Vangelis had a lifelong interest in space which was reflected in his music — in its breadth and atmosphere. He believed that there was something inherent in humans to want to discover — whether that meant up in the sky or in a studio. For Vangelis, becoming a musician was never a conscious decision. “It’s very difficult not to make music,” Vangelis told NPR in 1977. “It’s as natural as I eat, as I make love. Music is the same.”

Vangelis, who gave the movie Chariots of Fire its signature synth-driven sound, has died. He was 79 years old. According to his assistant Lefteris Zermas, Vangelis died on the May 17 in a hospital in Paris, due to heart failure.

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Ronnie Hawkins 5/22

Born in Huntsville, Arkansas  on January 10, 1935 Ronnie Hawkins made quite the career for himself in Canada (where he became a permanent resident in 1964). A road warrior, he made his rounds across North America and launched the careers of many musicians, including the Band (who backed him as the Hawks from 1961 to 1964), Roy Buchanan, Pat Travers and others.

Musicianship ran in Hawkins’s family; Hawkins’s father, uncles, and cousins had toured the honky-tonk circuit in Arkansas and Oklahoma in the 1930s and 1940s. His uncle Delmar “Skipper” Hawkins, a road musician, had moved to California about 1940 and joined cowboy singing star Roy Rogers’s band, the Sons of the Pioneers. Hawkins’s cousin Delmar Allen “Dale” Hawkins, the earliest white performer to sing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Regal Theater in Chicago, recorded the rhythm and blues song “Suzie Q” in 1957. Beginning at age eleven, Ronnie Hawkins sang at local fairs and before he was a teenager shared a stage with Hank Williams. He recalled that Williams was too drunk to perform, and his band, the Drifting Cowboys invited members of the audience to get on the stage and sing. Hawkins accepted the invitation and sang some Burl Ives songs he knew.

As a teenager Hawkins ran bootleg liquor from Missouri to the dry counties of Oklahoma in his modified Model A Ford, sometimes making three hundred dollars a day. He claimed in later years that he continued the activity until he was nineteen or twenty, and that it was how he made the money to buy into nightclubs. He had already formed his first band, the Hawks, when he graduated from high school in 1952, following which he studied physical education at the University of Arkansas, where in 1956 he dropped out just a few credits short of graduation.

Hawkins then enlisted in the United States Army, but he was required to serve only six months, having already completed ROTC training. Soon after his arrival at Fort Sill in Oklahoma for Army Basic Combat Training, he was having a drink at the Amvets club when an African American quartet began to play their music. Hearing the first notes so stirred him that he jumped onto the stage and started singing. “It sounded like something between the blues and rockabilly… me being a hayseed and those guys playing a lot funkier.” The experience caused Hawkins to realize what kind of music he really wanted to play, and he joined the four black musicians, who renamed themselves the Blackhawks.

The group had been performing a sort of jazz/blues something like Cab Calloway’s music of the 1940s, and Hawkins sought to introduce contemporary influences to their repertoire. With another new member, blues saxophonist A.C. Reed, they created some of the South’s most dynamic music sounds. “Instead of doing a kind of rockabilly that was closer to country music, I was doing rockabilly that was closer to soul music, which was exactly what I liked.” The band encountered prejudice, as many white people in the American South of the 1950s could not accept an integrated band and considered rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues the devil’s music.

The Blackhawks disbanded when his enlistment ended. Hawkins went back to Fayetteville, and two days later he got a call from Sun Records, who wanted him to front the house session band. By the time he got to Memphis, though, the group had already broken up. Nevertheless, he took advantage of the opportunity to cut two demos, Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and Hank Williams’s “A Mansion on the Hill”, but the recordings attracted no attention. The demo session guitarist, Jimmy Ray “Luke” Paulman, suggested that Hawkins join him at his home in Helena, Arkansas, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta region, a hotbed of blues, rhythm and blues, and country music, an offer which he eagerly accepted.

Immediately upon arriving in Helena, Hawkins and Paulman found Paulman’s brother George (standup bass) and their cousin Willard “Pop” Jones (piano) and formed a band they named The Hawks. Drummer Levon Helm, who had grown up in nearby Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, first played with the group at the Delta Supper Club in early 1957 when George Paulman invited him to sit in with them for their closing set. Helm reminisced years later how Hawkins, accompanied by Luke Paulman, drove his Model A out to the Helm’s cotton farm, arriving in a cloud of dust to talk to Helm’s parents. Helm remembered him as “a big ol’ boy in tight pants, sharp shoes and a pompadour hanging down his forehead.” Helm listened to Hawkins negotiate an agreement with his parents, who insisted that he graduate high school before he could join the Hawks and go to Canada. Helm practiced diligently on a makeshift drum kit to improve his skills, and when he graduated in May, he was good enough to play drum in the band.

Hawkins’s live act included back flips and a “camel walk” that preceded Michael Jackson’s similar moonwalk by three decades. His stage persona gained him the monikers “Rompin’ Ronnie” and “Mr. Dynamo”. Hawkins also owned and operated the Rockwood Club in Fayetteville, where some of rock and roll’s earliest pioneers came to play, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty.

With Helm’s graduation from high school, he joined The Hawks and they went to Canada, where the group met success. On April 13, 1959, they auditioned for Morris Levy, owner of Roulette Records in New York. Only four hours later, they entered the studio and recorded their first record tracks. Their first single, “Forty Days”, was a barely disguised knockoff of Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days” with the song “Mary Lou” by Young Jessie on the B-side; it reached number 26 on the US pop charts, becoming Hawkins’s biggest hit.

After spending nearly three months in Canada, the band returned to the South, with their base in Hawkin’s home town of Fayetteville. The band’s gigs in the southern states were mostly one-nighters or short run performances in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Helm loved to drive, and would drive the band two or three hundred miles to the next show in Hawkin’s old Chevy, which Hawkins eventually replaced with a Cadillac towing a trailer containing their equipment.

Hawkins and the group had begun touring Canada in 1958 as the Ron Hawkins Quartet on the recommendation of Conway Twitty, who told him Canadian audiences wanted to hear rockabilly. Their bassist George Paulman was abusing liquor and pills, so Hawkins left him behind, and they played without a bass on their first tour of Ontario. Their first gig was at the Golden Rail Tavern in Hamilton, Ontario, where, according to booking agent Harold Kudlets, all the bartenders quit when they heard the band’s sound and saw Hawkins’s stunts on stage. In 1959 he performed a number of live shows in the country and signed a five-year contract with Roulette Records. Working out of Toronto, Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks cut the LP Ronnie Hawkins in 1959, and with Fred Carter, Jr. taking Jimmy Ray “Luke” Paulman’s place on lead guitar, they cut another LP, Mr. Dynamo, the next year, both of them recorded on the Roulette label.

He subsequently moved to Canada and in 1964 became a permanent resident. In 2017, he moved from Stoney Lake Manor in Douro-Dummer, where he had resided since 1970, to Peterborough, Ontario. Hawkins was an institution of the Ontario music scene for over 40 years. When he first came to Ontario he played gigs at places like the Grange Tavern in Hamilton, where Conway Twitty got his start, and made it his home base. In Toronto, where the Hawks dominated the local scene, Hawkins opened his own night club, the Hawk’s Nest, on the second floor of the Coq d’or Tavern on Yonge street, playing there for months at a time.

After the move to Canada, The Hawks, with the exception of Hawkins and drummer Levon Helm, dropped out of the band. Their vacancies were filled by Southwest Ontarians Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. Young David Clayton-Thomas, a Canadian and future lead vocalist of the American group Blood, Sweat, and Tears, said he heard the Hawks when he got out of prison in 1962: “We young musicians would sit there by the bar at the Le Coq d’Or and just hang on every note.” This version of the Hawks, wearing mohair suits and razor-cut hair, were the top group among those who played the Le Coq d’Or, a rowdy establishment at the center of the action on the Yonge Street strip in Toronto. They were able to stay out of most of the bar fights that broke out there almost every night.

Along with Helm, they all left Hawkins in 1964 to form a group which came to be named The Band. They went to work for Bob Dylan in 1965, touring with him for a year, and were his backup band on The Basement Tapes. Hawkins continued to perform and record, and did a few tours in Europe.

In December 1969, Hawkins hosted John Lennon and Yoko Ono for a stay at his home in Mississauga, Ontario, during the couple’s campaign to promote world peace. Lennon signed his erotic “Bag One” lithographs during his stay there. Lennon also did a radio promo for a Hawkins single, a version of The Clovers song,”Down in the Alley”. When their visit ended, Lennon and Ono, with Hawkins and his wife Wanda as part of their entourage, took the CNR Rapido train to Montreal, where they engaged in their Bed-in for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Hawkins later rode with them on a train to Ottawa to see then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Lennon also enlisted Hawkins as a peace ambassador, and Hawkins traveled to the border of China and Hong Kong with journalist Ritchie Yorke bearing an anti-war message.

In the early 1970s, Hawkins noticed guitarist Pat Travers performing in Ontario nightclubs and was so impressed by the young musician that he invited him to play in his band. Travers joined the group, but balked when Hawkins told him he wanted him to play “old ’50s and ’60s rockabilly tunes”. Years later, Travers told an interviewer, “… he wanted me to play them exactly the same, same sound, same picking, same everything. For a 19-, 20-year-old kid, that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. But he said, ‘You can do this, son, and you’ll be better than a hundred guitar players, because this is where it all comes from. You need to know this stuff. It’s like fundamental.’ And he was right”. Travers later had a successful recording career and became an influential guitarist in the 1970s hard rock genre.

In 1975, Bob Dylan cast Hawkins to play the role of “Bob Dylan” in the movie, Renaldo and Clara. The following year, he was a featured performer at the Band’s Thanksgiving Day farewell concert at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, which was documented in the 1978 film The Last Waltz. Robbie Robertson said of it in 2020, “If there was anything wrong that night, it was that the cocaine wasn’t very good.” Hawkins sampled some of the powder and told the other performers that there was so much flour and sugar in it that they would be “sneezing biscuits” for three months afterward. Hawkin’s 1984 LP, Making It Again, garnered him a Juno Award as Canada’s best Country Male Vocalist. In addition to his career as a musician, he become an accomplished actor, hosting his own television show Honky Tonk in the early 1980s and appearing in such films as Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate alongside his friend Kris Kristofferson, and in the action/adventure film Snake Eater. His version of the song “Mary Lou” was used in the 1989 slasher film, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II.

On January 10, 1995, Hawkins celebrated his 60th birthday by sponsoring a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto, which was documented on the album Let It Rock. The concert featured performances by Hawkins, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Band and Larry Gowan. Canadian musician Jeff Healey sat in on guitar as well. Hawkins’s band, the Hawks, or permutations of it, backed the performers. All of the musicians performing that night were collectively dubbed “the Rock ‘n’ Roll Orchestra”.

In 2003, Hawkins was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and went into remission, which he attributed to everything from psychic healers to native herbal medicine. His remarkable remission was featured in the 2012 film Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive and Kicking.

Hawkins died in the early morning of May 29, 2022, at the age of 87, after the cancer returned. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Wanda, their two sons, Ronnie Hawkins Jr. and country singer Robin Hawkins, who had served as his guitarist since the 1980s, and daughter Leah Hawkins, an aspiring songwriter who had been his backup singer.

A man with an extraordinary sense of humor, he is considered highly influential in the establishment and evolution of rock music in Canada. Also known as “Rompin’ Ronnie”, “Mr. Dynamo” or “The Hawk”, he was one of the key players in the 1960s rock scene in Toronto. He performed all across North America and recorded more than 25 albums. His hit songs include covers of Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days” (retitled “Forty Days”) and Young Jessie’s “Mary Lou”, a song about a gold digger. Other well-known recordings are a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” (without the question mark), “Hey! Bo Diddley”, and “Susie Q”, which was written by his cousin, rockabilly artist Dale Hawkins.
Hawkins was a talent scout and mentor of the musicians he recruited for his band, The Hawks. Roy Buchanan was an early Hawks guitarist on the song “Who Do You Love”. The most successful of his students were those who left to form The Band. Robbie Lane and the Disciples made their name opening for Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks at the Yonge Street bars in Toronto and eventually became his backing band. Others he had recruited later formed Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, Crowbar, Bearfoot, and Skylark.
Hawkins was still playing 150 engagements a year in his 60s.

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Gary Brooker 2/22

February 19, 2022 – Gary Brooker founding lead singer of the late 1960’s musical sensation Procol Harum was born on May 29, 1945, in London’s Metropolitan Borough of Hackney. His father was a professional musician and Gary followed in his footsteps learning to play piano, cornet and trombone as a child. But his most awesome instrument over the years became his voice.

After high school, he went on to Southend Municipal College to study zoology and botany but dropped out to become a professional musician.In 1962 he founded the Paramounts with his guitarist friend Robin Trower. The band gained respect within the burgeoning 1960s British R&B scene, which yielded the Beatles, the Animals, the Spencer Davis Group, the Rolling Stones, and many others. The Rolling Stones, in particular, were Paramounts fans, giving them guest billing on several shows in the early 1960s.

The group found little success with their studio recordings outside of a 1964 cover of “Poison Ivy” that became a minor hit in England. The Paramounts split in 1966, and while Brooker originally planned to retire from performing to work as a songwriter, he met lyricist Keith Reid and forged such a tight working relationship that the pair started a new group: Procol Harum. Guided by an immense musicality of Brooker, Fisher, Trower and Reid their worldhit “A Whiter Shade of Pale” became one of the anthems of 1967’s Summer of Love. “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” was inspired by Brooker’s love of classical musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. 

“About that time, the Jacques Louissier Trio — which had a pianist, bass player and drummer — made an album called Play Bach,” Brooker told Songwriter Universe in 2020. “They were a jazz trio, and they’d start off with a piece of Bach, and they would improvise around it. Louissier had done a fabulous version of what was called ‘Air On a G String’ which was also used in a set of good adverts in Britain. And all those things came together one morning [on ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’] … a bit of Bach and ‘Air On a G String’ going through my head.”

Once he added in Reid’s lyrics, Brooker had a masterpiece on his hands that would reach Number One all over the world and turn Procol Harum in a major band almost overnight. Although the band never managed to land another hit of that magnitude, they maintained a large cult audience and worked steadily throughout the Sixties and Seventies, scoring occasional hits like “Conquistador” and “A Salty Dog.” In 1972, they cut the live album Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra that helped bring the band back into the public eye.

While Procol Harum was often referred to as a progressive rock band, Brooker never felt comfortable with that label. “I’ve always rejected the idea of labeling groups or types of music,” he told Vintage Rock in 2019. “I don’t think Procol has ever fit into a particular pigeonhole, as we call them here, you know, in the filing cabinet. You don’t really know what to put them under. They come under ‘P’ — ‘Progressive?’ ‘Psychedelic?’ — and I say, ‘They come under ‘P’ and ‘P’ is for ‘Procol’.”

A Whiter Shade of Pale was issued as their debut record on 12 May 1967. and became one of the most commercially successful singles in history, having sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. In the years since, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” has become an enduring classic, with more than 1000 known cover versions by other artists, none of them ever matching Brooker’s version. With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics, the music of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was composed by Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher, while the lyrics were written by Keith Reid.

Brooker’s melancholic vocals and emotive, eclectic piano playing were a key part of Procol’s musical mix for the entire course of the band’s career. In the early years Brooker, Hammond organist Matthew Fisher and Trower were the guiding musical forces behind the band, but after disparities in style became too much and Fisher and Trower left, Brooker was the clear leader until the band broke up in 1977. Brooker started a solo career and released the album No More Fear of Flying in 1979.

Gifted with a voice that stood out in a massive crowd, it is interesting to realize that Gary Brooker became essential a journeyman, who occasionally came “home” to his roots.  After Procol Harum broke up, Brooker first launched his solo career but then began touring and recording with his longtime buddy Eric Clapton. His work can be heard on Clapton’s 1981 LP Another Ticket. Clapton fired the entire band in 1981, but he and Brooker remained good friends afterwards, and were for many years neighbours in the Surrey Hills. Brooker joined Clapton for several one-off benefit gigs over the years. Brooker sang lead vocal on the Alan Parsons Project song “Limelight”, on their 1985 album, Stereotomy. Brooker sang the lead vocal of the song “No News from the Western Frontier”, a single taken from the album Hi-Tec Heroes by the Dutch performer Ad Visser.

A new version of Procol Harum was assembled in 1991 that recorded and toured up until 2019, though they took a pause in 1997 and 1999 so Brooker could tour with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. He also toured as a member of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings on three of their albums.

On 28 September 1996, as the Gary Brooker Ensemble, he organized a charity concert to raise funds for his local church, St Mary and All Saints, in Surrey. The resulting live CD of the concert, Within Our House, originally released on a fan club CD in a limited run of 1000 units, later became a collectable recording. His guests and supporting artists included Dave Bronze, Michael Bywater, Mark Brzezicki and Robbie McIntosh.

Also in 1996, Brooker appeared in the Alan Parker film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Evita starring Madonna, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas. Playing the part of Juan Atilio Bramuglia, he sang the song “Rainbow Tour” with Peter Polycarpou and Antonio Banderas. Brooker said that his greatest single earning in his career was from his appearance in the film.

On 29 November 2002, he was among musicians and singers participating in the George Harrison tribute concert, Concert for George, at which he sang lead vocals on their version of “Old Brown Shoe”. Brooker contributed to Harrison’s albums All Things Must Pass, Somewhere in England and Gone Troppo.

In April 2005, as the Gary Brooker Ensemble, he played a sell-out charity concert at Guildford Cathedral in aid of the tsunami appeal, playing a mixture of Procol Harum and solo songs and arrangements of classical and spiritual songs. His guests and supporting artists included Andy Fairweather Low and Paul Jones (ex-Manfred Mann).

A new incarnation of Procol Harum, led by Brooker, continued touring the world, celebrating its 40th anniversary in July 2007 with two days of musical revels at St John’s, Smith Square in London.

On 28 October 2009, Brooker was presented with a BASCA in recognition of his unique contribution to music.

In May 2012, Procol Harum were forced to cancel the remainder of their dates in South Africa after Brooker fractured his skull following a fall in his hotel room in Cape Town. The fall came on Brooker’s 67th birthday. The band was part of the British Invasion Tour of South Africa along with the Moody Blues and 10cc. However, they continued touring until 2019, playing their final gig in Switzerland.

Shine on brightly, Gary, you made us quite insane, AND WE LOVED IT! RIP February 19, 2022


Buddy Holly
Bar Reunion in Rock and Roll Paradise
Robert Johnson - Sold his Soul at Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS
The Day the Music Died - RIP Buddy Holly @ Ritchie Valens
Jimi Hendrix Memorial near Seattle, WA
Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise in Paris
Duane Allman - Allman Brothers Band
Elvis - Gravesite at Graceland in Memphis
John Lennon Wall In Prague, Czech Republic
Bob Marley - One Love; made reggae music a world music
Freddie Mercury - Superstar Showman/Singer/Songwriter
Prince - Brilliantly Extravagant
Chuck Berry - Rollover Beethoven really started the Rock and Roll Era
Stevie Ray Vaughan - His every note became a lightning strike
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Bar Reunion in Rock and Roll Paradise
Robert Johnson - Sold his Soul at Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS
The Day the Music Died - RIP Buddy Holly @ Ritchie Valens
Jimi Hendrix Memorial near Seattle, WA
Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise in Paris
Duane Allman - Allman Brothers Band
Elvis - Gravesite at Graceland in Memphis
John Lennon Wall In Prague, Czech Republic
Bob Marley - One Love; made reggae music a world music
Freddie Mercury - Superstar Showman/Singer/Songwriter
Prince - Brilliantly Extravagant
Chuck Berry - Rollover Beethoven really started the Rock and Roll Era
Stevie Ray Vaughan - His every note became a lightning strike
previous arrow
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My generation lived through a special time, that may never be repeated again. Much like the Renaissance gave birth to cultural art icons like Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael,  in one short era, never to be recreated,  the era of Rock and Roll,  created a musical highlight in time so intense that it moved global cultural directions.

For 40 years it guided our sense of values, what was waste, what was cool and what was not. The electric guitar was cool. Rock and Roll was driven by the advance of the electric guitar. It demanded attention, even if only because of the volume and reach. It guided the best educated, revolutionary generation in history into adult hood.

But when our generation and our rock and roll heroes became corporate brands,  too overly self important and self indulgent, Rock lost its driving cultural influence and handed it over to new genres like Rap, Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music (EDM).

By the 1990s, as one generation handed the musical torch to a new generation, rock had been bent and bullied into new music genres, promoted by different music distribution platforms and rapidly advancing entertainment technology outlets, and we kind of turned away from rock as if it were a youthful indiscretion.

And then, as history usually goes, we turned old enough to remember the power of rock in our younger years and we created niche markets for rock to live in, at least for the remainder of our years. As we are entering the third decade of the 21st century, I am noticing that a lot of young females guitarists across the globe are picking up the rock and roll torch, aided by online marketing resources such as youTube, Patreon and Vimeo video channels. It gives me hope for the future of rock and roll. But for now it’s still a derivative of what we did fifty years ago. Give it time and they will make it their own and select new directions for rock and roll.

This website serves most as a tribute to our rock and roll heroes, and a little bit as a reminder to all of us baby boomers and rock music lovers, who picked up a guitar or kicked a drum in our formative years, and gained an understanding of how music transformed us and was our global language.

Johan Ramakers

I started this website sometime in 2013 as a legacy site to pay tribute to the many wonderful musicians, singer frontmen and songwriters that paved the soundtrack of my life with their music. As an amateur rocker, who did not only listen to the music, but also played in many coverbands, duos and trios over the decades since rock and roll exploded into our lives, I realized later on in life, as I’m reluctantly entering the supposedly quiet years, that rock music between the mid 1950s and the 1990s, drove our entire culture. More than ever before in history was a global generation defined by music, as Rock and Roll and Rock/Pop became the soundtrack of our lives. It changed and over time defined politics, commerce, industry, transportation, communication, social interaction and education. And for while there the world was a better place. We called it the Garden.



• Christine McVie – Singer/Songwriter/Keyboards for Fleetwood Mac – (July 12, 1943 – November 30, 2022) • Possibly cancer •

Irene Cara – Singer Flashdance (March 18, 1959 – November 25, 2022) -unknown cause of death •

• Wilko Johnson – Dr. Feelgood guitarist (12 July 1947 – 21 November 2022)- cancer related •

Keith Levene – guitarist/founder of the Clash – (18 July 1957 – 11 November 2022) • Liver Cancer •

Garry Roberts – guitarist for the Boomtown Rats (16 June 1950 – 9 November 2022) • unknown •

• Jerry Lee Lewis (87) Early rock and roll pioneer and member of the Million Dollar quartet (Sept. 29, 1935 – October 28, 2022 • old age –

• Dan McCafferty (76) Vocalist/Frontman for Nazareth  (14 October 1946 – 8 November 2022)• (COPD)-

• John Till – guitarist for Janis Joplin (December 24, 1945 – September 4, 2022) •

• Bill Pitman (102) early r&r guitar virtuoso and member of the Wrecking Crew (February 12, 1920 – August 11, 2022) • fall –

• Olivia Newton John (73) Pop Disco sensation (26 September 1948 – 8 August 2022) cancer •

• David Muse (73) Multi-instrumentalist, played with Firefall / The Marshall Tucker Band (27 July 1949 – 6 August 2022)

• Judith Durham (79) Lead singer with folk group The Seekers (3 July 1943 – 5 August 2022) – Lung disease •

• Manny Charlton (80) Guitarist with rock band Nazareth (25 July 1941 – 5 July 2022) –

• Brett Tuggle (70) Keyboardist for Dave Lee Roth / Fleetwood Mac (23 September 1951 – 19 June 2022)

• Jim Seals (80) Singer / guitarist with soft rock duo Seals And Crofts (17 October 1941 – 6 June 2022)

• Alec John Such (70) Bass player with Bon Jovi (1983 to 1994) (14 November 1951 – 5 June 2022)

• Ronnie Hawkins (87) rock and roll singer pioneer (10 January 1935 – 29 May 2022)

• Steve Broughton (72) Drummer with the Edgar Broughton Band, worked with Roy Harper / Mike Old (20 May 1950 – 29 May 2022)

• Alan White (72) Drummer with Yes, former member of The Plastic Ono Band (14 June 1949 – 26 May 2022)

• Andy Fletcher (60) Keyboard player and founding member of Depeche Mode (8 July 1961 – 26 May 2022)

• Vangelis (79) Keyboardist-composer for Aphrodite’s Child (29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022)

• Rick Price (77) Bassist with The Move / Wizzard (10 June 1944 – 17 May 2022)

• Ricky Gardiner (73) Guitarist with David Bowie / Iggy Pop (31 August 1948 – 13 May 2022)

• Ric Parnell (70) Drummer with rock band Atomic Rooster (13 August 1951 – 1 May 2022)

• Andrew Woolfolk (71) Saxophonist, member of Earth, Wind & Fire (11 October 1950 – 25 April 2022)

• Guitar Shorty (87) Blues guitarist / singer (8 September 1934 – 20 April 2022)

• Jerry Doucette (70) Canadian guitarist, singer, songwriter (9 September 1951 – 18 April 2022)

• Bobby Rydell (79) Rock and Roll pioneer singer (26 April 1942 – 5 April 2022) •

• Taylor Hawkins (50) Drummer with Foo Fighters – Overdose – (17 February 1972 – 25 March 2022)•

• Bert Ruiter (75) Monster bassist for Dutch Prog Rock band Focus (26 November 1946 – 24 March 2022)

• Barry Bailey (73) Guitarist for Atlanta Rhythm Section (12 June 1948 – 12 March 2022)

• Gary BrookerLead singer for Procol Harum (May 29, 1945 – February 19, 2022) – cancer –

• Ian McDonald (75) Saxophonist/keyboardist for King Crimson/Foreigner (25 June 1946 – 9 February 2022)

• Donny Gerard (75) Lead singer with Skylark (19 March 1946 – 3 February 2022)

• Willie Leacox (74) Drummer with America (1973 – 2014) (31 March 1947 – 2 February 2022)

• Don Wilson (88) Guitar player with instrumental rock pioneers The Ventures (10 February 1933 – 22 January 2022)

• Meat Loafborn Marvin Lee Aday (September 27, 1947 – January 20, 2022) – unspecified –

• Dick Halligan (78) Keyboard player / composer, founding member of jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears (29 August 1943 – 18 January 2022)

• Ronnie Spector – lead singer for the Ronettes  (10 August 1943 – 12 January 2022) – cancer –

• Calvin Simon (79) Singer with Parliament Funkadelic (22 May 1942 – 6 January 2022)

For all the heroes we lost in rock’s history, dating back to the early origins in the late 1930, all the way to the present day, click HERE