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A.J. Pero 3/2015

AJ PeroMarch 20, 2015 – A. J. Pero was born Anthony Jude Pero (Twisted Sister) on October 14th 1959.  He was initially a jazz drummer, later gravitating to heavier music akin to Rush and Led Zeppelin. He worked as a taxi driver for a time, and joined Cities, a local New York City band.

He joined Twisted Sister in 1981, after seeing them play at a club and being told they were in need of a drummer. After Twisted Sister in 1986, he re-joined Cities. He participated in the Twisted Sisters’ band’s 1997 reunion and continued to perform with them until his death. He was also a member of Ozzy Osbourne cover band No More Tears, well known around Staten Island, New York.

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Randy Coven 5/2014

randycovenMay 20, 2014 – Randy Coven was born on Long Island New York in 1958. His neighborhood must have been a breeding ground for musical talent on guitar, sprouting superstars such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. The ’80s saw the emergence of quite a few technically accomplished hard rock bassists – tops being Billy Sheehan(RIP) and Stu Hamm — as well as several lesser-known (yet just as skilled) players, including Randy Coven. Word has it that another renowned player, bassist Jeff Berlin, lived nearby as well, and offered Coven some pointers early on. Learning bass by playing in local cover bands that specialized in the top hard rock names of the day (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, etc.),

Coven packed up his bags after high school graduation, and enrolled in Boston’s Berklee School of Music. The old adage ‘it’s a small world’ came into play, as it turned out Vai had enrolled in the same school as well.

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John Rutsey 5/2008

john-rutseyMay 11, 2008 – John Rutsey was born in Toronto, Canada on July 23, 1952.

In 1963, Rutsey met Lifeson, while attending St. Paschals School. Rutsey would play hockey with him on the street. Both interested in music, they decided to form a band. The two would be part of the band ‘The Projection’ with Bill Fitzgerald and “Doc” Cooper.

He became a founding member of the Canadian rock band Rush formed in 1968 with guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist Jeff Jones, who would soon be replaced by Geddy Lee.

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Hughie Thomasson 9/2007

Hughie Thomasson 300September 9, 2007 – Hughie Thomasson (The Outlaws) Born Hugh Edward Thomasson Jr., Hughie Thomasson joined a fledgling Tampa-area bar band named the Outlaws in the late ’60s. With David Dix on drums, Thomasson quickly made a name for himself as a no-nonsense guitar master. The group disbanded, but Thomasson reformed the Outlaws in 1972 with guitarist Henry Paul, drummer Monte Yoho and bassist Frank O’Keefe. (Paul later enjoyed a successful country career as a member of BlackHawk) Guitarist Billy Jones joined in 1973, completing the guitar army rock approach.

Known as the Florida Guitar Army for their triple-lead guitar attack, the Outlaws were the first group signed by former Columbia Records head Clive Davis when he formed Arista Records. He flew to Columbus, Ga., in 1974 to see the Outlaws perform with Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Columbus Civic Center and went to the Ramada Inn after the show and made an offer.

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Brad Delp 3/2007

brad_delp500March 9, 2007 – Brad Delp  was born on June 12, 1951. Delp was born in Peabody, Massachusetts on June 12, 1951 to French-Canadian immigrants. He was raised in Danvers, Massachusetts.

In 1969, guitarist Barry Goudreau introduced Delp to Tom Scholz, who was looking for a singer to complete some demo recordings. Eventually Scholz formed the short-lived band Mother’s Milk (1973–74), including Delp and Goudreau. After producing a demo, Epic Records eventually signed the act. Mother’s Milk was renamed Boston, and the self-titled debut album (recorded in 1975, although many tracks had been written years before) was released in August 1976. Delp performed all of the lead and all backing harmony vocals, including all layered vocal overdubs.
Boston’s debut album sold more than 20 million copies, and produced rock standards such as “More Than a Feeling”, “Foreplay/Long Time” and “Peace of Mind”.

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Bruce Gary 8/2006

Bruce Gary, drummer for the KnackAugust 22, 2006 – Bruce Gary was born on April 7, 1951 in Burbank, California. Bruce had a tormented and horrid childhood as he grew up in the early ’60s in the west San Fernando Valley, not far from Malibu. “The popular music of my peers at that time was a wonderful combination of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums called surf music,” he said in a 2002 interview.

“It made me forget a lot of what was going on at home”. “Somehow it perfectly reflected the carefree times of my youth. I started playing drums when I was six years old. The first proper band I played in was called The Watchmen. I was eleven. We cut our teeth playing music by such artists as The Ventures, The Beach Boys, Dick Dale & The Del-Tones, The Surfaris, The Astronauts, The Wailers, and many more bands of that nature. We enjoyed a healthy dose of playing local parties and youth centers in the Valley.”

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Vince Welnick 6/2006

vince-welnickJune 2, 2006 – Vince Welnick (The Tubes/Grateful Dead) was born on February 21st 1951 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Welnick started playing keyboards as a teenager. He joined a band, the Beans, which eventually morphed into the Tubes, a San Francisco-based theater rock band popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s and noted for early live performances that combined lewd quasi-pornography with wild satires of media, consumerism and politics.

The Tubes in the 1980s were a major commercial rock act with substantial MTV success. Videos for rock classics “Talk To Ya Later” and “She’s A Beauty” played in heavy rotation on the MTV network for years in the mid-1980s. While playing in the Tubes, he also played and recorded with Todd Rundgren.

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Johnny Ramone 9/2004

Johnny_Ramone_-_Hollywood_Forever_Cemetery_1September 15, 2004 – Johnny Ramone was born John William Cummings on October 8, 1948 and died of prostrate cancer at age 55. He was the rhythm guitarist, songwriter for the Ramones, a New York rock band that held Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status.

A rebel in a rebel’s world, Johnny was raised Queens, N.Y., where as a teenager, he played in a band called the Tangerine Puppets with future Ramones drummer Tamás Erdélyi aka Tommy Ramone. Influenced by the likes of the Stooges and MC5, in 1974 he co-founded “The Ramones”, often regarded as the first punk rock group, with Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone. They went on to perform 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. The Ramones were a major influence on the punk rock movement in the US and the UK, though they achieved only minor commercial success. Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania.

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Arthur Kane 7/2004

July 13, 2004 – Arthur Kane Jr. (the New York Dolls) was born on February 3, 1949 in New York, the only child of Erna and Harold Kane. Arthur was close to his mother and her aunt, his Aunt Millie, who used to like to listen to Elvis records. The first word that he learned as a young child was “record.” When Arthur was seventeen, his mother died of cancer (leukemia). His father was an abusive alcoholic, and when he quickly remarried, Arthur left home for good.

He graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens. He first played bass in the band Actress along with other original New York Dolls: Johnny Thunders, Rick Rivets and Billy Murcia.

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Mickey Finn 1/2003

Mickey FinnJanuary 11, 2003 – Mickey Finn (T-Rex) was born Michael Norman Finn on June 3rd 1947 in Thornton Heath, Surrey, England.

Often confused with other musicians by the same name, Michael Norman Finn (apart from T. Rex) only toured as a sideman in the 1960s with Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. After Bolan and T.Rex’s demise, he worked as a session musician for The Blow Monkeys and The Soup Dragons.

When Tyrannosaurus Rex leader Marc Bolan had enough of the excessive lifestyle of his original T-Rex partner Steve Peregrin Took, he invited Mickey Finn as percussionist and sideman to finish Tyrannosaurus Rex’s 4th album in 1969 titled “A Beard of Stars” and later, into the 1970s incarnation of the glam rock group, T-Rex.

The album was released in March ’70 and a commercial success. It was rumored that Bolan had hired Finn for his good looks, and because he admired his motorcycle, rather than for his musical ability. Finn was unable to recreate the complex rhythmical patterns of his predecessor, Steve Peregrin Took, and was effectively hired as much for a visual foil for Bolan as for his percussion. Continue reading Mickey Finn 1/2003

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Tony Ashton 5/2001

May 28, 2001 – Tony Ashton  was born on March 1, 1946 in Blackburn, Lancashire. When he was a child, his mother sent him to piano lessons. At the age of 13 in 1959, whilst Ashton was a student at St. George’s School, Blackpool, he joined a local group, The College Boys, on rhythm guitar and piano. When Ashton left school at the age of 15 he was already an accomplished pianist. He played in a jazz trio, The Tony Ashton Trio with drummer John Laidlaw and bass player Pete Shelton in 1961 and 1962 at the Picador Club in Blackpool. Although his work began during the Beatles era, his roots lay firmly in soul, jazz and the blues.

After playing with various Blackpool bands, Ashton was invited to join the Liverpool group The Remo Four as organist and vocalist. Tony was invited to join the Liverpool group the Remo Four as organist/vocalist. The group spent some time being the resident band at Hamburg Germany’s legendary Star Club, followed by a US tour accompanying the Beatles. They recorded some singles but their best work came in 1966 when they released their album Smile. Before their break-up in 1968, they backed George Harrison on his album Wonderwall.

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Alexis Korner 1/1984

Alexis KornerJanuary 1, 1984 – Alexis Korner/Alexis Andrew Nicholas Koerner was born in Paris on April 19th, 1928 to an Austrian Jewish father and a Turkish-Greek mother. His early childhood years were spent in France, Switzerland and North Africa and he arrived in London in 1940 at the start of World War II. One memory of his youth was listening to a record by blues jazz pianist Jimmy Yancey during a German air raid. Korner said, “From then on all I wanted to do was play the blues.”

In 1949, he joined Chris Barber’s Jazz Band and in 1952 he became part of the much larger Ken Colyer Jazz Group, which had merged with Barber’s band. Among those whom Korner crossed paths with during this era was Cyril Davies, a guitarist and harmonica player. The two found their interests in American blues completely complementary, and in 1954 they began making the rounds of the jazz clubs as an electric blues duo. They started the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club, where, in addition to their own performances, Korner and Davies brought visiting American bluesmen to listen and play.

Very soon they were attracting blues enthusiasts from all over England. Korner and Davies made their first record in 1957, and in early 1962, they formed Blues Incorporated, a “supergroup” (for its time) consisting of the best players on the early-’60s British blues scene. Korner (guitar, vocals), Davies (harmonica, vocals), Ken Scott (piano), and Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone) formed the core, with a revolving membership featuring Charlie Watts or Graham Burbridge on drums, Spike Heatley or Jack Bruce on bass, and a rotating coterie of guest vocalists including Long John Baldry, Ronnie Jones, and Art Wood (older brother of Ron Wood). Most London jazz clubs were closed to them, so in March of 1962 they opened their own club, which quickly began attracting large crowds of young enthusiasts, among them Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones, all of whom participated at some point with the group’s performances; others included Ian Stewart, Steve Marriott, Paul Jones, and Manfred Mann.

In May of 1962, Blues Incorporated was invited to a regular residency at London’s Marquee Club, where the crowds grew even bigger and more enthusiastic. John Mayall later credited Blues Incorporated with giving him the inspiration to form his own Bluesbreakers group.

Record producers began to take notice, and in June of 1962 producer Jack Good arranged to record a live performance by the band. The resulting record, R&B from the Marquee, the first full-length album ever made by a British blues band, was released in November of 1962. The album consisted of largely of American standards, especially Willie Dixon numbers, rounded out with a few originals.

At virtually the same time that Blues Incorporated’s debut was going into stores, Cyril Davies left the group over Korner’s decision to add horns to their sound. Korner soldiered on, but the explosion of British rock in 1963, and the wave of blues-based rock bands that followed, including the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Yardbirds undercut any chance he had for commercial success. His more studied brand of blues was left stranded in a commercial backwater — there were still regular gigs and recordings, but no chart hits, and not much recognition. While his one-time acolytes the Rolling Stones and Cream made the front pages of music magazines all over the world, Korner was relegated to the blues pages of England’s music papers, and, though not yet 40, to the role of “elder statesman.”

For a time, Korner hosted Five O’Clock Club, a children’s television show that introduced a whole new generation of British youth to American blues and jazz. He also wrote about blues for the music papers, and was a detractor of the flashy, psychedelic, and commercialized blues-rock of the late ’60s, which he resented for its focus on extended solos and its fixation on Chicago blues. He continued recording as well, cutting a never-completed album with future Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant in early 1968.

Korner’s performing career in England was limited, but he could always play to large audiences in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, and there were always new Korner records coming out. It was while touring Scandinavia that he first hooked up with vocalist Peter Thorup, who became Korner’s collaborator over the next several years in the band New Church. After his dismissal from the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones considered joining New Church; Korner, however, rejected the idea, because he didn’t want his new band to be caught up in any controversy.

In 1972, he became peripherally involved in the breakup of another band, inheriting the services of Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, and Ian Wallace when they quit King Crimson. It was during the ’70s that Korner had his only major hit, as leader (with Peter Thorup) of the 25-member big-band ensemble CCS. Their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” charted in England, and led to a tour and television appearances.

In response, Korner released Bootleg Him, a retrospective compiled from tapes in his personal collection, including recordings with Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts. Korner played on the “supersession” album B.B. King in London, and cut his own, similar album, Get Off My Cloud, with Keith Richards, Peter Frampton, Nicky Hopkins, and members of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band. When Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones in 1975, Korner was mentioned as a possible replacement, but the spot eventually went to Ron Wood.

In 1978, for Korner’s 50th birthday, an all-star concert was held featuring Eric Clapton, Paul Jones, Chris Farlowe, and Zoot Money, which was later released as a video. In 1981, Korner formed the last and greatest “supergroup” of his career, Rocket 88, featuring himself on guitar, Jack Bruce on upright bass, Ian Stewart on piano, and Charlie Watts on drums, backed by trombonists and saxmen, and one or two additional keyboard players. They toured Europe and recorded several gigs, the highlights of which were included on a self-titled album released by Atlantic Records.

In contrast to the many blues-rock fusion records with which Korner had been associated, Rocket 88 mixed blues with boogie-woogie jazz, the group’s repertory consisting largely of songs written by W. C. Handy and Pete Johnson. After a well-received appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival in the early ’80s, there were rumors afterward that he intended to become more active musically, but his health was in decline by this time. A chain smoker all of his life, Korner, sometimes referred to as, “The Founding Father of British Blues”, died of lung cancer on January 1, 1984

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Bill Haley 2/1981

bill-haleyFebruary 9, 1981 – Bill Haley was born on July 6th 1925. He was born in Highland Park, Michigan, but because of the Great Depression on the Detroit area, his father moved the family to Boothwyn, Pennsylvania. For six years Bill was a musical director of Radio Station WPWA in Chester, Pennsylvania, leading his own band The Saddlemen all through this period and in 1951 they made their first recordings. They renamed themselves Bill Haley with Haley’s Comets on Labour Day 1952.

Bill Haley and his Comets were there before Presley, Holly and Berry, playing rock & roll before it even had a name, and is credited by many for being the first popularizing this form of music in the early 1950s. Their hit song “Rock Around the Clock” went around the world for many decades. Continue reading Bill Haley 2/1981

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Woody Guthrie 10/1967

Woody GuthrieOctober 1, 1967 – Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie was born on July 14 1912. American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes 100s of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar.

His best-known song is “This Land Is Your Land”, which is regularly sung in American schools. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton have acknowledged their debt to Woody as an influence. Continue reading Woody Guthrie 10/1967