November 22, 2017 – Tommy Keene was born on June 30, 1958 in Evanston, Illinois and raised and graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland (class of 1976), (which was also the alma mater of fellow musician Nils Lofgren). Keene played drums in one version of Lofgren’s early bands but moved to guitar later when he attended the University of Maryland.
Keene launched his career in the late-‘70s as a guitarist with a series of Washington D.C.-area combos including the Rage and the Razz, before hitting the national scene as a solo act in 1982 with the release of his debut Strange Alliance. He actually first received critical acclaim with his The Razz, who released several local independent singles.Continue reading Tommy Keene 11/2017
April 23, 2017 – Kerry Turman (long time bass player for the Temptations) was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 28, 1957.
Kerry left Detroit, Michigan at the age of 19 to pursue his passion in music and further develop his “chops” in Los Angeles, California. He cut his teeth as part of the killer band that Roy Ayers (King of Neo Soul) put together in the late 1970s.
In the 1970s and 80s he traveled the world playing the bass for many artists, including, Roy Ayers, Evelyn “Champagne” King and legendary drummer Gene Dunlap. Continue reading Kerry Turman 4/2017
June 3, 2015 – Andrew Maurice Gold was born on August 2, 1951 at Burbank, Los Angeles, into a musical family. His father, Ernest Gold, composed the scores for dozens of Hollywood films, including Exodus (1960) — for which he won an Oscar — Too Much Too Soon (1958) and On The Beach (1959); his mother, the classically-trained soprano Marni Nixon, was best known for supplying the singing voices for film actresses, notably Deborah Kerr in The King And I (1956), Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961), and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964). She also appeared as Sister Sophia in The Sound Of Music (1965).
Andrew was 13 when he started writing pop songs, although he never learned to read music. At Oakwood School in north Hollywood, he introduced himself to the singer Linda Ronstadt when she played a gig there with her group the Stone Poneys . By the early 1970s he had joined her band, and in 1974 played a variety of instruments and made the musical arrangements for Linda Ronstadt’s breakthrough album Heart Like A Wheel, as well as for her next four albums. Among other accomplishments, he played the majority of instruments on “You’re No Good,” Ronstadt’s only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the same on “When Will I Be Loved,” “Heat Wave” and many other classic hits. He was in her band from 1973 until 1977, and then sporadically throughout the 1980s and 1990s.Continue reading Andrew Gold 6/2015
May 5, 2015 – Craig Gruber was born on June 15, 1951. In the early 1970s he started his bass career with a band called Elf, which released three albums before the key members joined ex-Deep Purple lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in his newly formed band Rainbow in mid-1975.
Gruber played on Rainbow’s first album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Soon after the album was released, Blackmore fired everyone except vocalist Dio. Gruber was then in the early recording sessions on Black Sabbath‘s Heaven and Hell album, co-writing “Die Young,” until Geezer Butler heard Dio, and returned to the band.
In 1980 he formed Bible Black with former Elf and Rainbow drummer Gary Driscoll. The band produced two albums before Driscoll’s unsolved murder in 1987. Gruber played live with Gary Moore on his supporting tour for his album Victims of the Future, and featured on Moore’s 1984 live album We Want Moore.
Early in 2010 Gruber formed “ED3N”- a metal band in the classic rock genre. The band featured vocalist Jeff Fenholt and guitarist David Shankle, of DSG and formerly Manowar.
On April 18, 2013 it was announced that Gruber had joined the band Raven Lord which was headed up by Csaba Zvekan. Gruber was to replace Jamie Mallender for the bassist’s position. However, Gruber departed the band shortly thereafter and was replaced by Lucio Manca. On November 7, 2013, Gruber announced via Facebook that he became part of a newly formed band founded by Csaba Zvekan called Zvekan.
Near the end of his life, Gruber had been building a line of high-end “soloing” basses, which can be seen at Infinite Metal Werkz. Gruber had also been working on an Elf reunion, even though such a prospect seemed unlikely given the deaths of Driscoll and frontman Ronnie James Dio; both of whom had been members of the band from foundation until dissolution.
He died from prostate cancer on May 5, 2015 at his Florida home.
May 1, 2015 – John Tout was reportedly born in Hackney South London in September of 1944.
He got a piano on his 8th birthday and studied music for the next 8 years. He was mostly into classical Russian composers. By age 18 he joined his first band, got entangled with the Rupert’s People line up and replaced John Hawken on the keys for Renaissance between 1970 and 1980 and again from 1999 to 2002. When he joined the band, in 1970, Renaissance had undergone a complete overhaul from its beginnings as a project founded by Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, and by the end of 1970, no original members remained.
When Tout joined, Renaissance was looking for a mix sound of classical with popular and manager Miles Copeland, who later joined the Police on drums, heard potential in the group’s new sound, and shepherded them through a revamped (but still constantly shifting) lineup that led to a series of increasingly successful albums throughout the ’70s.
“I just played what came naturally, really,” Tout later said of the way his distinctive playing enhanced Renaissance’s classically inspired sound. “It didn’t seem as though it was different to me. I just liked classical music, and the idea of Renaissance originally was to feature so-called classical music and that appealed to me, which is why I joined in the first place. … It was something I enjoyed, playing classical music. It’s funny, really, because I like soul music and I was playing soul music for a long time. I suppose the opportunity to do something a bit different came and I took it and carried on.”
Tout left the band in 1980, later explaining that at the time, he was subconsciously “blocking off everything to do with music” because of grief over his sister’s passing. “I thought the music had to die as well,” he recalled. “I just shut myself away. I didn’t do anything at all. … For 10 years, I didn’t do anything at all.”
I didn’t play for for ten years because my sister died and I had a bit of a block against playing. She was a piano player too and we used to play together. I was in therapy for three years. That was seven years after my sister died and I suddenly realised something was wrong because I was just staying in bed and I didn’t want to get up and do anything. A friend of mine recommended a psychologist to me. I went to see him and a lot of things came out then. Basically what I was doing was blocking off everything to do with music; because my sister had died I thought the music had to die as well so I just shut myself away. I didn’t do anything at all. So for ten years I didn’t do anything at all. I started playing again when some very good friends of mine who live in Worthing bought a piano. I went down there and her husband said, “Give us a tune.” I’d taken some music down to try this piano out for them as they wanted to know if it was any good or not. They encouraged me to start playing again so that’s when I realised I could actually take back all the stuff that I’d buried.
Renaissance folded in 1987, but reunited in 1998 with a lineup that boasted a quartet of returning alumni that included Tout, and although he left the following year, he remained part of the band’s circle, joining members sporadically in the studio and onstage. He’d planned to work on a new project with former Renaissance bassist Jon Camp, but declining health, including a heart attack he suffered in 2009, forced him to scale back on his activities.
He also was part of Renaissance drummer Terry Sullivan’s band Renaissant which released one album in 2005. Prior to joining Renaissance he was briefly a member of Wishbone Ash.
Tout, whose age was 70 died of lung failure on May 1, 2015 while he was in the care of doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
March 15, 2015 – Michael Joseph Porcaro (Toto) was born in Los Angeles on May 29, 1955 and was the middle brother of Jeff Porcaro and Steve Porcaro. Their father was jazz drummer-percussionist Joe Porcaro.
Porcaro worked as a session bass player before replacing Toto original bass player David Hungate in 1982 shortly after the band completed recording the award-winning Toto IV album. Porcaro played cello on a track for the album and subsequently appeared in the band’s videos and performed as a full band member on the world tour in support of the album.
Toto was originally formed in 1977 by a group of successful studio musicians including brothers Jeff, a drummer, and Steve, who played keyboards. Jeff died in 1992.
Toto sold more than 40 million records in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Its album “Toto IV” won the 1982 Grammy for album of the year, and its song “Rosanna,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart, was record of the year. The band also collectively won the producer of the year Grammy. As bassist, Porcaro appeared on such albums as Isolation (1984), Fahrenheit (1986), Mindfields (1998) and Through the Looking Glass (2002).
Along with Toto, Porcaro played numerous sessions in Los Angeles, and toured with Michael Franks on his first tour. He then toured with Seals and Crofts, Larry Carlton, and Boz Scaggs. He appears in the video for the song “JoJo” by Scaggs.
Porcaro stopped performing with Toto in 2007, suffering from a growing numbness in his fingers that made it increasingly difficult for him to play. He was replaced by Leland Sklar for the remainder of the tour and Toto disbanded in 2008, but reunited in 2010 in support of Mike Porcaro’s financial needs in the advance stage of ALS.
On February 26, 2010, it was announced via official press release that Mike Porcaro was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and that former band members of Toto, including Steve Porcaro, would reform and do a short tour through Europe in support of him in the summer of 2010. The regrouped Toto continued to tour and perform for Mike’s benefit during 2011. Nathan East was the guest bass player for the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 tours.
He was inducted alongside the band into the Musician’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
In September 2012, it was reported in Classic Rock magazine that he was doing as well as could be expected with his disease, but he was in a wheelchair as the disease was progressing.
In an interview with the website Something Else! in 2012, Toto keyboardist David Paich spoke about Porcaro’s condition at the time. “He’s been going downhill for the last three years here, because it’s a very slow, degenerative process. But, again, Mike mentally is fantastic and if you talk to him, his spirits are up and he’s great and like the old Mike Porcaro, except that he’s disabled, he’s in a wheelchair and can’t move; can’t walk and can’t play which is a heartbreaking drag.”
Mike Porcaro was 59 years 9 months 14 days old when he died of the disease on 15 March 2015.
January 1, 2015 – Jeff Golub was born April 15th 1955 in Copley, Ohio. Golub started playing guitar, like so many, by emulating 1960s blues rock guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. Then, following up on the artists that these musicians cited as their inspiration, he delved deeper into the blues listening to Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, plus B.B., Albert, and Freddie King. He was in his teens when he first heard a Wes Montgomery record which set him on a whole new course of musical direction, which led him to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In a musical journey that spans more than three decades and encompasses a diverse assortment of projects from across the jazz, blues and rock spectrum, the visionary guitarist maintained the same honesty, enthusiasm and creativity that first won him his reputation as one of his era’s most skillful and original musicians. Whether it was his own inventive yet effortlessly accessible recordings or his collaborations with a dizzying array of artists, Golub’s work was consistently distinguished by the versatility and imagination that he brought to everything he did.
While in Boston he played in The James Montgomery Band. From Boston, he moved to New York in 1980 where his first major gig was with Billy Squier after which he appeared on seven of his albums and completed 3 world tours with Billy. His work with Squier helped to earn Golub a reputation that led to him working on stage and/or in the studio with such artists as Tina Turner, Peter Wolf, John Waite, Vanessa Williams, Gato Barbieri and Bill Evans.
He than became a member of Rod Stewart’s backing band, with whom he played from 1988 until 1995 performing on four albums and five world tours, as well as recording the live DVD, One Night Only, at the Royal Albert Hall.
At this same time he released his first of 15 solo albums, Unspoken Words for Gaia Records in 1988. He really embraced his role as band leader and instrumentalist with the release of his second album Avenue Blue in 1994. Jeff had also been a member Dave Koz & The Kozmos, the house band of The Emeril Lagasse Show. His last several albums were with British Rock/Jazz icon Brian Auger (one of my favorite combinations was Brian Auger and the Trinity with Julie Driscoll).
Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, was a crucial early influence upon Golub’s musical consciousness.
In June 2011, Golub became blind due to collapse of the optic nerve. Rather than allowing this devastating setback to divert him from his musical course, he simply picked up the pieces and got back to work.
“Fortunately, I’m in one of the few professions where I can get by without my sight,” Golub states, adding, “It’s made me a better artist. It’s opened up my ears, and I hear things more acutely now. It’s put me more in touch with my feelings and with my public. My audience has been incredibly supportive.”
The title of his 14th album Train Keeps A Rolling nods both to the influence of Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and to an incident in September 2012, when Golub fell on the tracks of a New York subway and was dragged by a train before being rescued by bystanders. Amazingly, he walked away from the potentially fatal accident with only minor injuries.
Two years later in October 2014, he was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (aggressive brain deterioration disease) from which he died a little over two months later.
Jeff was 59 years 8 months 17 days old when he died on 1 January 2015.
“There’s only two kinds of music,” he once said. “The kind that’s from the heart and the kind that’s not.”
December 23, 2013 – Ricky Lawson was born on November 8, 1954. The Detroit native learned to play drums as a young teenager in Cooley High School. He would borrow his uncle’s drum set and carry it to his house across town via the Detroit bus system. He then played in the high school jazz band, which consisted of only five members, including the band director. Outside of the school jazz band he also played for The Sons of Soul, who performed at the 1969 Michigan State Fair, opening for The Jackson Five along with The Blazer, a band from Cooley High School in Detroit that included La Palabra.
While in high school, he had a talent for such sports as water polo and swimming. His swimming talent eventually earned him a scholarship to college. He only spent one year at college though, being invited to play drums for Stevie Wonder and from there developing into one of the nation’s top studio musicians in the 1980s. Early on, Ricky developed expertise in jazz, country and western, pop, R&B, funk and Latin rhythms – a versatility that allows him to play with anyone he wants to. He has earned his jobs and professional reputation by always being well prepared for his gigs. Some of the biggest Number 1 and multi-platinum singles and albums have featured Ricky’s impressive talents, including Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love”, James Ingrams’ “I Don’t Have The Heart” and Lionel Richie’s “Dancing On The Ceiling”.
A co-founder of the group The Yellowjackets in 1977. Known originally as the Robben Ford Group, the Yellowjackets consisted of Robben Ford, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip and Ricky Lawson, all top-notch L.A. session musicians. Ricky received a Grammy in 1986 for co-writing the hit song “And You Know That” on the album Shades, which he co-produced. He also co-authored the Pointer Sisters’ hit “Uh-Uh” and co-produced the album Seriously Slammin and the Fattburger hit “Good News”.
In the ’80s and ’90s, he played drums for Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. He played on Whitney’s famous hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Lawson has a one note “solo” in the song, where he hits the snare drum before Whitney’s dramatic vocal finale. He says that this is his favorite solo of his career.
Throughout his career he worked extensively as a session musician, collaborating with the likes of Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, Phil Collins, Babyface, Toto, Al Jarreau, Whitney Houston, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Bette Middler, Russell Ferrante, George Benson, Lionel Richie, Toto and George Duke, among others.
He was the musical director of Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour in 1988.
Ricky was the featured drummer on Steely Dan’s Grammy winning Best Album “Two Against Nature”, Lionel Richie’s release “Renaissance”, the soundtrack to the blockbuster film “Brothers” and the score for the epic “Anna and The King” starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat.
He also appeared on Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature tour DVD, Two Against Nature: Steely Dan’s Plush TV Jazz-Rock Party and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds “MTV Unplugged DVD 1997”.
In 2001, Lawson released the solo album Ricky Lawson and Friends, on which he performed, arranged, produced, and wrote all of the songs in collaboration with leading artists Gerald Albright, Phil Collins, George Duke, Sheila E., Nathan East, Donald Fagen, Jon Herington, Robben Ford, James Ingram, Boney James, Al Jarreau, Kirk Whalum, Vesta Williams, and others. The album is a blend of R&B, pop, and jazz.
In 2008, Lawson put together a classic Christmas CD, Christmas with Friends, with special guests Ron Reinhardt and Philppe Saisse on acoustic piano, Rick Braun on trumpet, Richard Elliot, Michael Paulo, and Steve Alaniz on sax, Paul Brown, Adam Hawley and Ian Keene on guitar, Lenny Castro on percussion, Roberto Vally and Sekou Bunch on bass.
In one of his final studio recordings, Lawson appears on 8 of 13 tracks of well-known bassist and Fourplay founding member Nathan East’s March 2014-released album, Nathan East. The album dedication In memory of Ricky Lawson appears as the final statement in the liner notes.
Sadly Lawson became disoriented while performing at the Spaghettini jazz club on December 13, 2013 in Seal Beach, California. It was diagnosed that a brain aneurysm on December 13 had been the cause. He died on December 23, 2013, aged 59, when he was removed from life support after ten days.
April 23, 2013 – Robert Charles “Bob” Brozman was born to a Jewish family living on Long Island, New York, United States. He began playing the guitar when he was 6.
He performed in a number of styles, including gypsy jazz, calypso, blues, ragtime, Hawaiian music, and Caribbean music. He also collaborated with musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds, from India, Africa, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Réunion. He has been called “an instrumental wizard” and “a walking archive of 20th Century American music”. Brozman maintained a steady schedule throughout the year, touring constantly throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. He recorded numerous albums and has won the Guitar Player Readers’ Poll three times in the categories Best Blues, Best World and Best Slide Guitarist. In 1999, Brozman and Woody Mann founded International Guitar Seminars, which hosts over 120 students annually at sites in California, New York, and Canada. From 2000 to 2005 his collaborations landed in the European Top 10 for World Music five times.Continue reading Bob Brozman 4/2013
April 11, 2013 – Don Blackman was born on September 1st 1953 in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
A childhood neighbor was Charles McPherson, and while still a teenager (15) he played in McPherson’s ensemble with Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. At the beginning of the 1970s, he played electric piano with Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Roy Ayers, before becoming a member of Lenny White’s group Twennynine, for whom he penned songs such as “Peanut Butter” and “Morning Sunrise”, key pieces in Jamaica Queens’ ’70s’ jazz-funk explosion.
He released his self-titled debut solo album in 1982 on Arista Records, including the songs “Holding You, Loving You”, “Heart’s Desire” and “Since You’ve Been Away So Long” that became minor hits in Europe.
He wrote the composition “Lie to Kick It”, which appeared on Tupac Shakur’s album R U Still Down? (Remember Me), “Dear Summer”, which appeared on Memphis Bleek’s album “534” featuring artist Jay-Z, and “Holding You, Loving You”, which appeared on Master P.’s album I Got The Hook Up. He sang and co-composed “Funky toons” for Skalp on his album “From my head to your feet”.
On television, he scored and wrote music for commercials, TV shows, and movies, appearing on Fox Network’s New York Undercover, producing and writing the theme song for Nickelodeon’s show “Gullah Gullah Island”, as well as producing songs for the MTV Network movie Joe’s Apartment.
He released his self-titled debut solo album in 1982 which including his songs “Holding You, Loving You”, “Heart’s Desire” and “Since You’ve Been Away So Long” that became hits in Europe.
As a session musician, he appearing on albums by Kurtis Blow, Bernard Wright, Najee, David Sanborn, Lenny White, Roy Ayers, Sting, World Saxophone Quartet, Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” and Wayman Tisdale. He wrote the composition “Live to Kick It”, which appeared on Tupac Shakur’s album R U Still Down? (Remember Me); “Dear Summer” on Memphis Bleek’s album “534” featuring artist Jay-Z, and “Holding You, Loving You” on Master P.’s album “I Got The Hook Up”.
Don died while fighting cancer at age 59 on April 11, 2013.
July 6, 2006 – Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett (Pink Floyd) was born on January 6th 1946 in Cambridge, England. His parents were Dr. Max and Mrs. Win Barrett). Roger was the fourth of five children, the others being Alan, Don, Ruth and Rosemary. The young Roger was actively encouraged in his music and art by his parents – at the age of seven he won a piano duet competition with his sister – and he was to be successful in poetry contests while at high school.
Max died when Roger was 15 and his diary entry that day consisted of one single line: “Dear Dad died today.” The loss cost him dearly. Three days later he wrote to his girlfriend Libby that “I could write a book about his merits – perhaps I will some time.” Continue reading Syd Barrett 7/2006
April 10, 2003 – Little Eva Narcissus Boyd was born on June 29th 1943 in Belhaven, North Carolina, and moved to the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York at a young age. She worked as a maid and earned extra money as a babysitter for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
It is often claimed that Goffin and King were amused by Boyd’s particular dancing style, so they wrote “The Loco-Motion” for her and had her record it as a demo (the record was intended for Dee Dee Sharp).
However, as King said in an interview with NPR and in her “One to One” concert video, they knew she could sing when they met her, and it would be just a matter of time before they would have her record songs they wrote, the most successful being “The Loco-Motion”.
July 21, 2002 – Angus Boyd “Gus” Dudgeon was born on September 30th 1942 in Surrey, England, the bucolic county just south of London where he would return to live in the 1970s.
His career began when he worked as a teaboy (now more commonly known as a ‘gofer’) at Olympic Studios — one of the premiere recording facilities in London. Within a short time, Gus advanced to a position of sound engineer and moved on to Decca Records’ studios at West Hampstead. There he got to work on sessions with artists signed to the record label, or hoping to be. His role on these dates would be to lay cable, plug things into things, and position microphones…all in support of the session producer. It was this training that Gus would use as a basis for his approach to production in the years to come.
March 2, 1999 – Dusty Springfield was bornMary O’Brien on April 16th 1939 in West Hampstead, North London, England. She was given the nickname “Dusty” for playing football with boys in the street, and was described as a tomboy. Springfield was raised in a music-loving family. Her father would tap out rhythms on the back of her hand and encourage her to guess the musical piece. She listened to a wide range of music, including George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Glenn Miller. A fan of American jazz and the vocalists Peggy Lee and Jo Stafford, she wished to sound like them. At the age of twelve, she made a recording of herself performing the Irving Berlin song “When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam” at a local record shop in Ealing. Continue reading Dusty Springfield 3/1999