December 8, 2017 – Vincent Nguini (Guitarist For Paul Simon) was born in Obala, Cameroon, West Africa in July 1952. Music and the understanding of it was the driving force behind his life’s ambitions from very early on.
He traveled around Africa in the early and mid-1970s, learning many regional guitar styles, before relocating to Paris in 1978. In Paris, long a recording center for music from French-speaking Africa, he studied music and did studio work with many African musicians. He joined the band of the Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, who had an international hit in 1972 with “Soul Makossa,” and soon became its musical director. Continue reading Vincent Nguini 12/2017
January 21, 2017 – Maggie Roche was born on October 26, 1951 in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Together with her sister Terre, she dropped out of Park Ridge High School to tour as a duo in the late sixties. Maggie wrote most of the songs, with Terre contributing to a few. The sisters got a big real break when Paul Simon brought them in as backup singers on his 1973 #2 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. In return they got his support and an appearance by the Oakridge Boys, when they recorded their only album as a duo in 1975 titled Seductive Reasoning.
A year later their youngest sister Suzzy completed the Irish singer/songwriting trio The Roches. Maggie was their main songwriter in the beginning as they became increasingly known for their unusual harmonies, quirky lyrics and comedic stage presence. Continue reading Maggie Roche 1/2017
Gary Richrath (REO Speedwagon) was born on October 18, 1949.
Gary Richrath provided much of the creative and driving force in the early days of the band, Gary Richrath wrote much of the material for REO Speedwagons first twelve albums. In 1977, Gary Richrath and other members of the band took over their own production, which resulted in the band’s first platinum album. Gary Richrath wrote many of the band’s most memorable songs including “Golden Country” from 1972, “Ridin’ the Storm Out” 1973, “Only the Strong Survive” 1979 and “Take It On the Run” from 1981.
April 1, 2015 – Dave Ball was born on March 30th 1950 in Birmingham, England. He was the youngest of three sons from a musical Birmingham family. “We were born show-offs and broke into a routine at the slightest excuse,” he said of his adolescence strumming a guitar alongside Pete and Denny. All three brothers played in various groups in Germany before teaming up with the drummer Cozy Powell to back Ace Kefford, formerly of The Move, and then forming Big Bertha in 1969.
Replacing Robin Trower in Procol Harum in 1970, he can be heard on the group’s live album, Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, but left late during the recordings for their 1973 album Grand Hotel, in Sept 1972. “I was getting bored,” he said in an interview. “There were only so many ideas I could put into that style.” Continue reading Dave Ball 4/2015
November 6, 2014 – Rick Rosas (“Rick the Bass Player”) was born in West Los Angeles, Ca. on September 10th 1949. He came up through the ranks of remarkable players as a studio musician and went on to be one of the most sought after session musicians.
In the early 1980s he met Joe Walsh through drummer Joe Vitale and later played on Walsh’s 1985 album, The Confessor.
Rosas also joined Walsh for a short-lived stint in Australia as a member of the Creatures from America, that also featured Waddy Wachtel on guitar and Richard Harvey on drums. He also toured with Dan Fogelberg in 1985. In December 1986, the Walsh band joined Albert Collins and Etta James for the a Jazzvisions taping called “Jump the Blues Away.”
February 2, 2014 – Bunny Rugs (Third World) aka Bunny Scott was born William Clarke on February 2nd 1948 in Mandeville, Jamaica and raised in the capital of Kingston. In the mid 60s he joined Charlie Hackett and the Souvenirs, the resident band at the Kitty Club on Maxfield Avenue, before leading the early lineup of Inner Circle in 1969. In 1971 he did a stint in New York where he was a member of the dance band Hugh Hendricks and the Buccaneers and the Bluegrass Experience.
He returned to Jamaica in 1974 and recorded with Lee “Scratch” Perry, initially as a backing singer, then with Leslie Kong’s nephew Ricky Grant as the duo Bunny & Ricky. They released singles such as “Freedom Fighter” and “Bushweed Corntrash”.
June 22, 2013 – Gary Pickford-Hopkins was born in 1948 in Abergarwed near Neath Wales. He attended the Alderman Davies Church and was a member of the Church Choir. After graduation Gary’s first job was as an apprentice painter.
His musical career started as frontman for the Vern Davies Band and as a 16 year old, he was a member of a local band called Smokestacks, made up of musicians from Neath and Port Talbot. After a couple of years, the band broke up and Gary joined the popular band The Eyes of Blue. The band played at clubs and halls throughout South Wales and they went on to win the Melody Maker Battle of the Bands in 1966, of which the first prize was a recording contract.
March 7, 2013 – Peter Banks (Yes) was born Peter Brockbanks on July 15th 1947 in Barnet, North London. He learned to play the guitar on an acoustic his dad bought for him and banjo as a sidekick.
Banks started his career in music with The Nighthawks in 1963 and played his first concert at the New Barnet Pop Festival before leaving that band to join The Devil’s Disciples in 1964. The band consisted of Banks on guitar, John Tite on vocals, Ray Alford on bass and Malcolm “Pinnie” Raye on drums. They recorded two songs on an acetate, Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” (a hit for the Stones a little later) and Graham Gouldman’s (10CC) “For Your Love” which would be a hit record for The Yardbirds one year later. These two songs can be found on Banks’ archival album Can I Play You Something. Continue reading Peter Banks 3/2013
February 1, 2013 – Cecil Womack aka Zekuumba Zekkariyas was born on September 25th 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his brothers Bobby, Harry, Friendly and Curtis, began as a gospel group appearing on the gospel circuit in the mid 50s where they were seen by Sam Cooke of the Soul Stirrers. As Cooke’s protégés they changed their name to The Valentinos and in 1961 began to sing and record for secular audiences, producing hits such as “It’s All Over Now” and “Lookin’ for a Love”.
Cooke’s death at a L.A. motel in December 1964, had dramatic consequences for the Womack Brothers as SAR folded and Bobby Womack, who was now married to Sam Cooke’s widow, Barbara, left the group for a solo career. The Valentinos briefly disbanded before regrouping as a quartet in 1966, signing with Chess Records where they recorded the Northern Soul hit, “Sweeter than the Day Before”, written by Cecil Womack and Mary Wells. However, the group got dropped from Chess in 1968 after only two singles and Cecil Womack who had married former Motown artiste Mary Wells decided to leave the Valentinos.
March 12, 2012 – Michael Hossack (drummer for Doobie Brothers) was born in Paterson, New Jersey on October 17th 1946. He started playing drums in the Little Falls Cadets, a Boy Scout drum and bugle corps, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Cadets and Fair Lawn Cadets. He always credited these experiences for teaching and preparing him for playing in a two-drummer group such as the Doobie Brothers.
After graduating high school, he served for four years in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Following his honorable discharge in 1969 he returned to New Jersey, where a close friend talked him into auditioning for a California-based band called Mourning Reign.
They played heavily in upstate New York, before relocating to the San Francisco bay area and signing with a production company that had also signed the newly formed rock band, the Doobie Brothers.
Although Mourning Reign was short-lived, Hossack’s abilities gained considerable exposure and having learned of his availability, was invited to jam with the Doobies in 1971. Little did he know that the “jam session” was an actual audition which took place at Bimbo’s 365 Club. After hearing founding drummer John Hartman and Hossack together, the Doobies decided that having two drummers would beef up the rhythm section and so adopted the “dual drummers” sound pioneered by bands such as the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. Hossack played alongside Hartman on the band’s breakthrough albums Toulouse Street in 1972, The Captain and Me in 1973 and What Were Once Vices are Now Habits in 1974, which spawned the band’s first #1 hit, “Black Water”.
After a grueling ten-month tour in 1973, Hossack left the Doobies. He went on to join Bobby Winkelman’s band Bonaroo (band) which released one album then disbanded shortly afterwards. In 1976, he had a brief stint with a band called DFK (or the Dudek Finnigan Krueger Band), with Les Dudek, Mike Finnigan and Jim Krueger. In 1977, Hossack became a partner in Chateau Recorders studio in North Hollywood.
An avid outdoors man, when he wasn’t in the studio or on tour, he was either riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, hunting or fishing. A family man as well, Mike enjoyed spending as much time as possible raising his two children.
In 1987 former band member Keith Knudsen called Mike and asked if he would participate in a series of benefit concerts for veterans of the Vietnam War. Being a veteran himself, Mike agreed and the Doobie Brothers (after a five-year hiatus) were back together again. Due to the huge success of these concerts, the Doobie Brothers decided to reform with band members Pat Simmons, Tom Johnston, John Hartman, Tiran Porter, Bobby LaKind and Michael Hossack. Not long afterwards, they were offered a recording contract from Capitol Records. Since then, Mike’s unique style can be heard on the albums Cycles, Brotherhood, Rockin’ down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert, Sibling Rivalry, Live at Wolf Trap and World Gone Crazy.
On June 22, 2001, while heading to a show at Caesars Tahoe in Lake Tahoe, Mike suffered multiple fractures from a motorcycle accident on Highway 88 and had to be airlifted to a Sacramento-area hospital where he underwent surgery. After months of healing and grueling physical therapy, Mike was back with the band. He was a permanent fixture until he developed cancer in 2010 and had to take a leave of absence to focus on his health.
On March 2012, Hossack sadly died of cancer at his home in Dubois, Wyoming at the age of 65.
January 26, 2011 – Gladys Horton was born in Born in Gainesville, Florida on May 30, 1945, according to her son Vaughn Thornton, even though there is some dispute on the correct date being May 30, 1944.
By the time she was nine months old, her son said, she was an orphan and consigned to foster care, growing up mostly in different towns in Michigan. Her full name was Gladys Catherine Horton. She was married once and divorced, and had three sons. Besides Mr. Thornton, one other son, Sammy Coleman, survives her, along with two grandchildren.
She was raised in the western Detroit suburb of Inkster by foster parents. By the time of her high school years at Inkster High School on Middlebelt Road, Gladys had taken a strong interest in singing, joining the high school glee club.
In 1960 Horton formed a group with her former highschool glee club members Georgeanna Tillman, Katherine Anderson and Juanita Coward. The origin of the Marvelettes is variously recounted in music encyclopedias and other sources, and they usually describe Ms. Horton as a co-founder of the group. But in an interview Ms. Schaffner, one of the original Marvelettes, gave her full credit: “We only started singing together because Gladys asked us,” she recalled. “Usually we’d go to Georgeanna’s house and play canasta.”
January 11, 2010 – Michael Robert “Mick” Green (the Pirates) was born on 22 February 1944 in Matlock Derbyshire, England but grew up in Wimbledon, south-west London, in the same block of flats as Johnny Spence and Frank Farley.
The three would eventually form a band that would play together for almost 50 years. Green met Farley in rather maverick circumstances; he fell out of a tree and landed on him. His first meeting with Spence was more conventional – Green turned up at Spence’s door holding a guitar and said: “I hear you know the opening bit to Cumberland Gap. Can you teach me?” The result was one of the most original guitarists Britain has ever produced.
The trio formed the Wayfaring Strangers in 1956, a skiffle band. Entering a competition at the Tottenham Royal Ballroom, the youngsters came second to a band called the Quarrymen, who later achieved success as the Beatles.
September 15, 2008 – Rick Wright (Pink Floyd) was born on July 28, 1943 in Hatch End, London. He taught himself to play guitar, trumpet and piano at age 12 after he was recuperating from breaking a leg. His mother helped and encouraged him to play the piano. He took private lessons in musical theory and composition at the Eric Gilder School of Music and became influenced by the traditional jazz revival, learning the trombone and saxophone as well as the piano. Uncertain about his future, he enrolled in 1962 at the Regent Street Polytechnic which was later incorporated into the University of Westminster. There he met fellow musicians Roger Waters and Nick Mason, and all three joined a band formed by classmate Clive Metcalf called Sigma 6.
August 10, 2008 – Isaac Hayes Jr. was born on August 20, 1942 in Covington, Tennessee. The child of a sharecropper family, he grew up working on farms in Shelby County, Tennessee, and in Tipton County. At age five Hayes began singing at his local church; he later taught himself to play the piano, the Hammond organ, the flute, and the saxophone.
Hayes dropped out of high school, but his former teachers at Manassas High School in Memphis encouraged him to complete his diploma, which he finally did at age 21. After graduating from high school, Hayes was offered several music scholarships from colleges and universities. He turned down all of them to provide for his immediate family, working at a meat-packing plant in Memphis by day and playing nightclubs and juke joints several evenings a week in Memphis and nearby northern Mississippi. His first professional gigs, in the late 1950s, were as a singer at Curry’s Club in North Memphis, backed by Ben Branch’s houseband.
July 20, 2008 – Artie Traum was born on April 13th 1943 in the Bronx where he was raised as well. He became a regular visitor to Greenwich Village clubs in the 1960s, hearing blues, folk music and jazz. Soon he was performing there, too. He made his first recording in 1963 as a member of the True Endeavor Jug Band Early. Traum co-wrote songs for the Brian De Palma debut film Greetings – the first role for Robert De Niro – with Eric Kaz and Bear.
April 15, 2008 – Brian “Blinky”Davison (The Nice) was born on May 25, 1942 in Leicester, England, where his mother had been evacuated from London during the Blitz.
His early interest in drumming was encouraged by his Uncle George, a jazz drummer who gave him his first kit. Brian also received help from his older brother Terry, who played him records by Max Roach. Brian played in a youth club skiffle group before leaving school to work as a delivery-van driver for the London Evening Standard. He carried on drumming in his spare time and joined his friend Terry Goldberg in his group The Rocker Shakes. In the late fifties and early sixties he played drums in various Skiffle groups in and around the youth clubs and pubs in North-west London, especially around Baker Street.
March 10, 2008 – Chuck Day (Mamas & Papas) was born on August 6th 1942 in Chicago, Illinois.
At age 15 in 1957, he recorded the single “Pony Tail Partner” under the name Bing Day at Federal Records. He recorded several singles over the next ten years as ‘Bing Day’ and, also, ‘Ford Hopkins’, before moving to L.A. in 1965. He worked with the likes of the Johnny River band on the tracks “Here We GoGo Again” and “Rivers Rocks the Folk”.
Chuck wrote the distinctive riff in “Secret Agent Man”. He next joined the Mamas and Papas as their bass guitarist and was second guitarist on “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin’.
Day was the father of Mama Cass Elliott’s daughter, Owen, but Elliott, who died of a heart attack in 1974, never identified him as the father. He was stunned when his daughter, then 21, sought him out. They met for the first time in Fairfax.
Day was a musical prodigy who recorded the teeny-bopper tune “Pony Tail Partner” on a regional record label in 1957, when he was 15.
Two years later, he came tantalizingly close to the big time, recording a jazz-oriented single, “Mama’s Place,” for Mercury Records, a major label. It broke into Billboard’s Top 100 at No. 98, but fell off the chart the next week. He never got that close to stardom again.
“I’m very often frustrated that people make it who don’t have as much talent as I do,” he said in 1983, when he was tending bar and playing a couple of nights a week. “But I reconciled myself to that a long time ago.”
After moving to Fairfax in 1969, he played on Shel Siverstein’s “Freaker’s Ball,” the soundtrack for the movie “Fritz the Cat” and other projects in the ’70s and ’80s.
An imposing bear of a man, Mr. Day played guitar left-handed and sang in a bluesy baritone. He almost always played sitting down, commanding the stage from a stool.
For 15 years, he hosted the Blue Monday Jam at the 19 Broadway saloon in Fairfax, providing the limelight for countless Marin musicians who were influenced by him.
“He was the soul of the music scene in Fairfax,” said 19 Broadway co-owner Garry Graham, a close friend. “He had a lot of musical disciples. He meant a lot to a lot of guys. This is a great loss for our town.”
Tim Bush, who played bass in Chuck Day’s band, the Burning Sensations, called him “the best musician I’ve ever played with in my life. He had the most soulful voice.”
As a bandleader, Bush added, “He could be the sweetest guy on the planet or a tough SOB.” In 1997, the band recorded a CD, “Desperate Measures.”
In an Independent Journal interview, Charles “Chuck” Day conceded that he smoked and drank too much. Last summer, he was too ill to attend a tribute day at the Fairfax Festival. It included a concert in his honor featuring his many musician friends and proteges, who billed themselves as “Chuck’s Chilluns.”
“The whole town turned out for it,” said Mike McShea, who helped organize the show. “It was the biggest crowd ever.”
While renowned for his musicianship, he also was remarkably astute and highly intelligent. “He was a brilliant conversationalist,” Graham said. “People should know how smart he was.”
Chuck also recorded with The Young Gyants, Shel Silverstein and in 2006 with Steve Wolf.
Chuck Day died after a long illness on March 10, 2008 at the age of 65.
May 19, 2006 – Frederick “Freddie” Garrity (Freddie and the Dreamers) was born on November 14, 1936 in Crumpsall, Manchester, England. The son of a miner, Garrity was educated locally. A talented schoolboy footballer, he was also steeped in his city’s popular entertainment tradition. After leaving school in 1956, he signed on for an engineering apprenticeship that would have lasted seven years had his musical talent not begun to emerge. He started to practice his guitar skills on the shopfloor of the Turbine factory, and show them off at staff dances. A fanatical Manchester United fan, he began to get pub gigs. Then, during the first year of his apprenticeship, he won a local talent contest with an Al Jolson impression.
He then worked as a milkman while playing in local skiffle groups: the Red Sox, the John Norman Four and, finally, the Kingfishers, who became Freddie and the Dreamers in 1959. The band itself consisted of Garrity on vocals, Roy Crewsdon, guitar, Derek Quinn, guitar, Pete Birrell, bass and Bernie Dwyer, on drums. In the early years of the band, Garrity’s official birth-date was given as 14 November 1940 to make him appear younger and, therefore, more appealing to the youth market who bought the majority of records sold in the UK.
April 5, 2006 – Gene Pitney was born February 17, 1940 in Hartford, Connecticut and grew up in Rockville, now part of Vernon, Connecticut. He once recalled how his first solo performance at school degenerated into an embarrassing whimper as Pitney was petrified by the expectant audience. Overcoming his nerves over the next few years, Pitney learned to play the guitar, drums and piano and formed a schoolboy band, Gene & the Genials.
He was nicknamed “the Rockville Rocket”. Pitney was an avid doo wop singer and sang with a group called the Embers. He made records as part of a duo called Jamie and Jane with Ginny Arnell (who in late 1963 had a solo hit, “Dumb Head”), and in 1959 recorded a single as Billy Bryan. By the time he had dropped out of the University of Connecticut, he was performing with Ginny Arnell as the male half of Jamie and Jane, then as singer/songwriter under the name Billy Bryan for Blaze Records and under his own name for Festival Records in 1960.
July 5, 2005 – Ray Davis (P-Funk) was born March 29, 1940 in Sumter, South Carolina and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving to Plainfield in 1958, where he resided until 1968.
He was the original bass singer and one of the founding members of The Parliaments, and subsequently the bands Parliament, and Funkadelic, collectively known as P-Funk. His regular nickname while he was with those groups was “Sting Ray” Davis. Aside from George Clinton, he was the only original member of the Parliaments not to leave the Parliament-Funkadelic conglomerate in 1977. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. Continue reading Ray Davis 7/2005
January 29, 2005 – Eric Griffiths was born on October 31, 1940. Griffith, John Lennon, Pete Shotton and Rod Davis, were all at Quarry Bank High School together and shared an interest in American music. Eric and John attended some guitar lessons but found it too slow to learn and dropped the lessons when Lennon’s mother taught them to play easier banjo chords.
Lennon formed The Quarry Men with Eric, Shotton and Davis. Paul McCartney joined The Quarry Men as lead guitarist but the band decided that neither McCartney nor Eric were suitable as lead guitarist. When George Harrison joined the band they suggested that Eric buy an electric bass and an amplifier but he could not afford this and he was not invited to McCartney’s house for the next rehearsal and when Eric phoned them during the practice session, John told him he was sacked.
August 18, 2003 –Anthony PaulTony Jackson (the Searchers) was born in Dingle, Liverpool on July 16th 1938. After leaving high school he went to Walton Technical College to train as an electrician. Jackson was inspired by the skiffle sound of Lonnie Donegan, and then by Buddy Holly and other U.S. rock and rollers. He founded the skiffle group the Martinis.
Nicknamed Black Jake, he joined the guitar duo the Searchers, which had been formed by John McNally and Mike Pender in 1959. The band soon expanded further to a quartet with the addition of the drummer Chris Curtis. Jackson built and learned to play a customized bass guitar. Learning his new job on the four-stringed instrument proved too difficult to permit him to continue singing lead so he made way for a new singer, Johnny Sandon, in 1960. They played in Liverpool’s nightclubs and the beer bars of Hamburg, Germany. Brian Epstein considered signing them but he lost interest after seeing a drunken Jackson fall off the stage at the Cavern Club. Sandon moved on in February 1962 and the band were signed by Pye Records in mid-1963 when the Beatles’ success created demand for Liverpudlian acts.
March 18, 2001 – John Phillips (Mamas and Papas) was born on August 30th 1935 in Parris Island, South Carolina. His father, Claude Andrew Phillips, was a retired United States Marine Corps officer who won an Oklahoma bar from another Marine in a poker game on the way home from France after World War I. His mother, Edna Gertrude (née Gaines), who had English and Cherokee ancestry, met his father in Oklahoma. According to his autobiography, Papa John, Phillips’ father was a heavy drinker who suffered from poor health.
Phillips grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, where he was inspired by Marlon Brando to be “street tough.” From 1942 to 1946, he attended Linton Hall Military School in Bristow, Virginia; according to his autobiography, he “hated the place,” citing “inspections,” and “beatings,” and recalls that “nuns used to watch us take showers.” He formed a group of teenage boys, who also sang doo-wop songs. He played basketball at George Washington High School, now George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, where he graduated in 1953, and gained an appointment to the Naval Academy. However, he resigned during his first (plebe) year. Phillips then attended Hampden–Sydney College, a liberal arts college for men in Hampden Sydney, Virginia, but dropped out in 1959.
January 10, 1976 – Howlin’ Wolf wasborn Chester Arthur Burnett on June 10, 1910 in White Station, Mississippi, near West Point. He was named Chester Arthur Burnett, after Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States. His physique garnered him the nicknames of Big Foot Chester and Bull Cow as a young man: he was 6 feet 3 inches (191 cm) tall and often weighed close to 275 pounds (125 kg). He explained the origin of the name Howlin’ Wolf: “I got that from my grandfather”, who would often tell him stories about the wolves in that part of the country and warn him that if he misbehaved then the “howling wolves would get him”. Burnett once claimed to have been given his nickname by his idol Jimmie Rodgers. Continue reading Howlin’ Wolf 1/1976