November 9, 2017 – Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) was born December 26, 1959 in Hollywood, California, but raised in South Central Los Angeles and Venice. He was adopted at a very early age, as talked about in the Faith No More biography book, “The Real Story.” In a 2013 interview, Mosley said “My Parents met at some kind of socialist/communist get-together in the ’50s. They were interracial – my mom was Jewish and my dad was black and Native American. So that was something controversial in itself. My dad had a daughter and my mom had two daughters, and all they were missing was a boy, so they went out and adopted one, and it was me.”
Mosley first met Billy Gould in 1977, going to a The Zeros, Johnny Navotnee and Bags show. He then went on to play keyboards in Billy’s first band, The Animated, in 1979. In 1984 he joined Haircuts That Kill, a post-punk band from the San Francisco area, which lasted up until Mosley’s joining of Faith No More. He joined Faith No More in 1985 replacing, among others, Courtney Love (Hole) who had a brief stint as lead singer. AllMusic states that Mosley’s “out of tune” vocals for Faith No More are “an acquired taste to most.” Continue reading Chuck Mosley 11/2017
October 23, 2016 –Pete Burns was born on August 5, 1959 in Port Sunlight, Cheshire, England. His mother was the daughter of a German Jew and had escaped Nazi Germany before the war. She met Burns’s father, Francis Burns, then a soldier, in Vienna, from where they returned together to Liverpool.
Burns described his upbringing as unconventional. His mother was an alcoholic, and attempted suicide several times when Burns was growing up.
“As far as parental skills go in the conventional, normal world, she certainly wasn’t a mother, but she’s the best human being that I’ve ever had the privilege of being in the company of, and I know that she had a special plan for me,” he said. “She called me ‘Star Baby’ and she knew that there was something special in me.”
April 21, 2016 – Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor, Prince became a superstar between 1978 and 1990 and beyond. He was renowned as an innovator and was widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, and wide vocal range. He was widely regarded as the pioneer of Minneapolis sound. His music integrates a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, soul, hip hop, disco, psychedelia, jazz, and pop.
Prince developed an interest in music at an early age, writing his first song at age seven. After recording songs with his cousin’s band 94 East, 19-year-old Prince recorded several unsuccessful demo tapes before releasing his debut album For You in 1978, under the guidance of manager Owen Husney. His 1979 album Prince went platinum due to the success of the singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. Continue reading Prince 4/2016
February 15, 2016 – Vanity was born Denise Katrina Matthews on January 4, 1959 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Helga Senyk and Levia James Matthews. Her mother was of Polish, German, and Jewish descent and was born in Germany, while her father was of African-American descent and was born in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Growing up in Niagara Falls, God wasn’t her priority. She was more concerned with hiding bruises from her classmates at Princess Margaret elementary school. Routinely beaten by an alcoholic father, Matthews rarely discussed her home life with friends. “She didn’t really like to,” recalls Debbie Rossi, one of Matthews’ best friends at Princess Margaret and later Stamford Collegiate. “And I wasn’t one to force. I just wanted to listen.”
Matthews didn’t confide because she thought every household was like this. Her father, James Levia Matthews, died in 1974 when she was 15 years old. Instead of feeling free, she watched her mother sink deeper into depression and alcoholism.
March 16, 2015 – Bruce Crump, Jr. (Molly Hatchett) was born on July 17th 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1976 he became a member of southern rock band Molly Hatchet, appearing on their most successful albums: 1978’s ‘Molly Hatchet’, 1979’s double-platinum ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’, 1980’s ‘Beatin’ The Odds’ and 1981’s ‘Take No Prisoners’, and playing on hit singles such as “Flirtin’ With Disaster”, “The Rambler”, “Power Play” and “Satisfied Man”.
Crump was a member of Molly Hatchet from 1976, through the turn of the ’90s – save for a brief absence around 1983. He got into the band, Crump once said, almost by accident as a kid in the Jacksonville, Fla., area.
June 10, 2007 – Lynne Randell was born Lynne Randall on 14 December 1949 in Liverpool England where she had started primary school. When five years old however, her family migrated to Australia and settled in the Melbourne suburb of Murrumbeena. She later attended Mordialloc High School. She completed Form Three and won a singing talent quest at a school fete – the prize was a one-week engagement at Lorne on the Victorian surf coast.
January 13, 2007 –Michael Leonard Brecker was born on March 29th 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Michael Brecker was exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, an amateur jazz pianist. Among the generation of jazz musicians that saw rock music not as the enemy but as a viable musical option, Brecker began studying clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone in school, eventually settling on the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After only a year at Indiana University, Michael Brecker moved to New York City in 1970 where he carved out a niche for himself as a dynamic and exciting jazz soloist.
He first made his mark at age 21 as a member of the jazz/rock band Dreams – a band that included his older brother Randy, trombonist Barry Rogers, drummer Billy Cobham, Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn. Dreams was short-lived, lasting only a year, but influential (Miles Davis was seen at some gigs prior to his recording “Jack Johnson”).
June 20, 2006 – Claydes “Charles” Smith (Kool & the Gang) was born on September 6, 1948 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was introduced to jazz guitar by his father at age 13, when in 1961, his father bought him a Kay Electric guitar at a pawnshop for $32.
Thomas Smith was so keen for his son to have a career in music that, in 1963, he financed the recording of the first single by Claydes & the Rhythms, the group the boy had formed with his schoolfriends George Brown (drums) and Richard Westfield (keyboards), although the end product – “I Can’t Go On Without You” – only served as a calling card for the embryonic band.
Claydes Smith left Lincoln High School in New Jersey in 1965 and, with Brown and Westfield, eventually joined forces with the Jazziacs, a group comprising the brothers Robert “Kool” Bell (bass) and Ronald Bell (saxophones, flute, keyboards), Robert ‘Spike’ Mickens (trumpet) and Dennis Thomas (alto sax), to become the Soul Town Revue.
November 16, 2005 – Milton Lee “Roger” Ridley Jr. also known as “Buh-Buh”, “Ajax” and “Big Man” was born April 30th 1948 and called home from labor to reward on November 16, 2005. Roger was a street performer with a voice that could have made millions, but he decided early on that he was in the “JOY” business when it came to sharing his music and thus, just 6 months before his untimely passing, he became the beaming landmark inspiration for Playing For Change, which has turned into a global force for children’s music education and peace.
This video explains why Roger Ridley is a Legend in my book:
April 10, 2005 – Wally Tax (the Outsiders) was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 14 February 1948. His Dutch father and his Russian Romani mother had met in a concentration camp during World War II. He grew up in Amsterdam and learned English at an early age from contacts with American sailors, for whom he acted as a pimp.
In 1959, at age 11, he was one of the founding members of the beat band The Outsiders. The band sang English lyrics, with Tax as the main songwriter; Tax sang and played guitar and harmonica. Even while playing with The Outsiders, Tax recorded a solo album (with a symphonic orchestra), Love-In.
November 17, 2003 – Arthur Conley was born on January 4, 1946 in McIntosh County, Georgia and grew up in Atlanta. He first recorded as a 13 year old in 1959 as the lead singer of Arthur & the Corvets. With this group, he released three singles in 1963 and 1964, “Poor Girl”, “I Believe”, and “Flossie Mae”.
In 1964, he moved to a new label and released “I’m a Lonely Stranger”. When Otis Redding heard this, he asked Conley to record a new version, which was released on Redding’s own fledgling label Jotis Records, as only its second release. That was in 1967. Together they rewrote the Sam Cooke song “Yeah Man” into “Sweet Soul Music”, which, at Redding’s insistence, was released on the Atco-distributed label Fame Records, and was recorded at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It proved to be a massive hit, as it shot to the number two spot on both the pop and R&B charts in the USA and Western Europe, earning Conley the number eleven male artist ranking for 1967. The song paid homage to other soul singers like Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett and James Brown.
May 11, 2003 – Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience) was born in Folkestone, England on December 25, 1945.
At age 9, he played violin at school and then mandolin and guitar. His first public appearances were at the Hythe Youth Club then at Harvey Grammar School where he was a student. His first local band was The Strangers with John “Andy” Andrews.
He played in several other local bands, mainly as lead guitarist, before turning professional at 17, and touring clubs in Scotland and Germany with Neil Landon and the Burnettes formed in late 1962 and The Loving Kind formed in November 1965. In 1966 he was selected by manager Chas Chandler as the bassist for Jimi Hendrix’s band and he left in 1969. He was featured on three seminal albums with Hendrix, ‘Are You Experienced?‘, ‘Axis: Bold as Love’ and ‘Electric Ladyland’.
December 13, 2002 – Zalman Zal Yanovsky (The Lovin’ Spoonful) was born on December 19, 1944 near Toronto, Canada. His father was a political cartoonist. Mostly self-taught, he began his musical career playing folk music coffee houses in Toronto. He lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a short time before returning to Canada. He then teamed with fellow Canadian Denny Doherty in the Halifax Three and both later joined Cass Elliot in the Mugwumps, a group made famous by Doherty’s and Cass’s later group the Mamas and the Papas in the song “Creeque Alley” which referred to an alley way in Charlotte Amalie on St.Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
In the Greenwich Village folk rock scene he was known as one of the early rock n roll performers to wear a cowboy hat, and fringed “Davy Crockett” style clothing, setting the trend followed by such 1960s performers as Sonny Bono, Johnny Rivers and David Crosby.
It was at this time he met John Sebastian and they formed the Lovin’ Spoonful with Steve Boone and Joe Butler, taking their name from a line in Mississippi John Hurt’s Coffee Blues. The band became an immediate smash with their first single, “Do You Believe in Magic?” a Top Ten hit in 1965, which led off a remarkable string of hits that established the Lovin’ Spoonful as one of the few American bands that could challenge the chart dominance of the Beatles and their British Invasion contemporaries.
June 27, 2002 – John Entwistle (The Who)was born on 9 October 1944 in Chiswick, a suburb of London, England. During his life he became famous as an English musician, songwriter, singer, film and music producer, who was best known as the original bass guitarist for the English rock band The Who. He was the only member of the band to have formal musical training. His aggressive lead sound influenced many rock bass players as he made himself immortal with the bass solo on their smash hit “My Generation”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Who in 1990.
Entwistle’s instrumental approach used pentatonic lead lines, and a then-unusual treble-rich sound (“full treble, full volume”) created by roundwound RotoSound steel bass strings. He was nicknamed “The Ox” and “Thunderfingers,” the latter because his digits became a blur across the four-string fretboard. In 2011, he was voted the greatest bassist of all time in a Rolling Stone reader’s poll.
March 21, 2002 – Speedy Keen was born John David Percy Keen on March 29th 1945. Speedy became vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist and drummer for Thunderclap Newman, a band The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend created in 1969, to play and record songs written by ‘Speedy’, who had been The Who’s roadie and chauffeur for Peter.
Originally Peter Townsend, with whom Keen shared a flat, played bass for the band under the pseudonym Bijou Drains. Speedy wrote The Who’s “Armenia City in the Sky”, the only song The Who ever performed that was specifically written for the group by a non-member.
Speedy’s mega hit number one song “Something In The Air” , which he also sang, appeared on the soundtracks of the films The Magic Christian (1969), The Strawberry Statement (1970) Kingpin (1996), Almost Famous (2000), The Dish (2000) and The Girl Next Door (2004). He also released 2 solo albums (Previous Convictions) and went on to be record producer for the British band The Heartbreakers and Motörhead. “I Promise You” from the second album was used in the American TV series, The Big C.
January 22, 2002 – Peter Bardens was born in Westminster, London on 19 June 1945 just weeks after World War II came to an end. The name of Peter Bardens is best known from the success of Camel, the progressive rock group he led in the early 1970s.
The keyboard player’s greatest influence on the British music scene, however, took place in the previous decade, when he was a formative member of London’s art school R&B scene and a figure of irrepressible spirit and energy. The son of Dennis Bardens, a writer of mystery novels and biographies, he was born in London in 1945, was brought up in the then Bohemian district of Notting Hill and attended the local Byam Shaw art school, where he studied Fine Art.
Fired by the burgeoning blues movement in west London, Bardens recruited an apprentice drummer called Mick Fleetwood whom he had heard rehearsing in the garage of a house three doors away from where he lived. With the intention of joining a group, Fleetwood had moved to London in 1964 to stay with his sister: “There was a knock on the door. ‘I’ve been hearing you play: would you like a gig?‘ He literally kickstarted me into the music business.”
May 16, 2001 – Brian Pendleton (The Pretty Things) was born on 13th April 1944 in Wolverhampton, to Raymond and Kathleen Pendleton (nee Brownsword); Raymond and Kathleen had married early in 1942. Brian was born in Wolverhampton Road in the Heath Town district of the city, at an address that no longer exists. When he was still a baby the Pendletons moved to Dartford in Kent and his younger sister was born in 1950.
The teenage Brian attended Dartford Grammar School. He was in the year below future Pretty Thing Dick Taylor and superstar-to-be Mick Jagger. Although Brian and Dick would recognize each other at a later date (Dick certainly remembered Brian from school) it seems that as they were in different years they didn’t speak much, it is a playground truth that those pupils in the years below were not generally considered worthy of attention and this is doubtless still the case today! English schools divide their pupils into groups called ‘houses’ which are usually named after a person of local historic significance and represented by a color. Brian was a member of the house called Daeth, possibly in honor of a local (Dartford) family; it’s color was yellow. Peter Pike was in the same year as Brian and recalls that he was a reserved character but could from time to time be funny and lively.
March 27, 2000 – Ian Dury was born in London on May 12th 1942.
At the age of seven, he contracted polio during the 1949 polio epidemic. In 1964 he studied art at the Royal College of Art under British artist Peter Blake, and from 1967 he taught art at various colleges in the south of UK.
Ian formed the band Kilburn & the High Roads in November 1970, he was vocalist and lyricist, co-writing with pianist Russell Hardy. But Ian rose to fame later in the 1970s, during the Punk and New Wave era of rock music, as founder, frontman and lead singer of the British band Ian Dury and the Blockheads, who were amongst the most important groups of the New Wave era in the UK.
August 12, 1997 – Luther Allison (blues great) was born on August 17, 1939 in Widener, Arkansas. He was the 14th of 15 children, the son of cotton farmers. His parents moved to Chicago when he was in his early teens, but he had a solid awareness of blues before he left Arkansas, as he played organ in the church and learned to sing gospel in Widener as well. Allison recalled that his earliest awareness of blues came via the family radio in Arkansas, which his dad would play at night. Allison recalls listening to both the Grand Ole Opry and B.B. King on the King Biscuit Show on Memphis’ WDIA. Although he was a talented baseball player and had begun to learn the shoemaking trade in Chicago after high school, it wasn’t long before Allison began to focus more of his attention on playing blues guitar. Allison had been hanging out in blues clubs all through high school, and with his brother’s encouragement, he honed his string-bending skills and powerful, soul-filled vocal technique.
July 25, 1984 – Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was born on December 11, 1926 in Ariton, Alabama. She was introduced to music in a Baptist church, where her father was a minister and her mother a singer. She and her six siblings began to sing at early ages. Her mother died young, and Willie Mae left school and got a job washing and cleaning spittoons in a local tavern. In 1940 she left home and, with the help of Diamond Teeth Mary, joined Sammy Greens Hot Harlem Revue and was soon billed as the “New Bessie Smith”. Her musical education started in the church but continued through her observation of the rhythm-and-blues singers Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, whom she deeply admired.
Thornton’s career began to take off when she moved to Houston in 1948. “A new kind of popular blues was coming out of the clubs in Texas and Los Angeles, full of brass horns, jumpy rhythms, and wisecracking lyrics.” Continue reading Big Mama Thornton 7/1984
May 25, 1965 – Sonny Boy Williamson ll was born Aleck (Alex) Ford aka Alex “Rice” Miller – (his stepfather’s name) on the Sara Jones Plantation near Glendora, in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. He claimed his birth date was December 5, 1899 although one researcher, David Evans, music professor at Memphis University, claims to have found census record evidence that he was born around 1912 while his gravestone has his birthdate as March 11th 1908. Another confusion is created by the fact that he went under the name Sonny Boy Williamson II, to distinguish from the fact that there is a “real” Sonny Boy Williamson, also a famous blues singer/harpist, whose last name was actually Williamson.
He lived and worked with his sharecropper stepfather, Jim Miller, whose last name he soon adopted, and mother, Millie Ford, until the early 1930s. Beginning in the 1930s, he traveled around Mississippi and Arkansas and encountered Big Joe Williams, Elmore James and Robert Lockwood, Jr., also known as Robert Junior Lockwood, who would play guitar on his later Checker Records sides. Continue reading Sonny Boy Williamson 2 5/1965