November 21, 2017 – David Cassidy (The Partridge Family) was born on April 12, 1950 in New York, New York with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was singer/actor Jack Cassidy and his mother actress Evelyn Ward.
As his parents were frequently touring on the road, he spent his early years being raised by his maternal grandparents in a middle-class neighborhood in West Orange, New Jersey. In 1956, he found out from neighbors’ children that his parents had been divorced for over two years and had not told him. David’s parents had decided because he was at such a young age, it would be better for his emotional stability to not discuss it at that time. They were gone often with theater productions and home life remained the same. Many years later, after his father’s death, he found out that his father was bi-sexual with many homosexual encounters.Continue reading David Cassidy 11/2017
September 3, 2017 – Walter Becker (Steely Dan) was born February 20, 1950 in Queens, New York. Becker was raised by his father and grandmother, after his parents separated when he was a young boy and his mother, who was British, moved back to England. They lived in Queens and as of the age of five in Scarsdale, New York. Becker’s father sold paper-cutting machinery for a company which had offices in Manhattan.
He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan in the class of 1967. After starting out on saxophone, he switched to guitar and received instruction in blues technique from neighbor Randy Wolfe, better known as Randy California of the psychedelic westcoast sensation “Spirit”, a nickname he got from Jimi Hendrix while playing with him in New York in the mid sixties.
May 5, 2017 – Clive Brooks was born on December 28, 1949 in Bow, East London where he was also raised.
Answering a Melody Maker ad in early 1968, Brooks joined Uriel, a blues-rock group in the style of Hendrix / Cream / blues / psychedelic group original formed by three City of London School pupils Dave Stewart (keyboards), Mont Campbell (bass and lead vocals) and Steve Hillage (guitar and vocals). The band re-grouped later under the name Arzachel and released one album in 1969, after they had already changed musical direction.Continue reading Clive Brooks 5/2017
April 25, 2017 – Calep Emphrey (played blues with all 3 Kings) was born on May 1, 1949 in Greenville, Mississippi. He started out playing a whole range of wind instruments such as French horn, saxophone, baritone horn and a lot of other brass instruments in the Coleman High School band while growing up. The high school band director Wynchester Davis had a band called the Green Tops, which went all around the state. He went on to play in a concert band in college at Mississippi Valley State, where he was a music major in 1967-1968.
Professionally, he started off with Little Milton about ’69 in Greenville. (Milton was from the Greenville area and Emphrey used to hang around him a lot.) Milton needed somebody to fill the drummer position and he called Calep, who admitted, “I couldn’t make no money with the French horn.” Continue reading Calep Emphrey 4/2017
March 22, 2017 – Sib Hashian – John Thomas “Sib” Hashian, (drummer for Boston) was born August 17, 1949, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Hashian was of Armenian/Italian ancestry and grew up in Boston’s North Shores area, where he collaborated with most of his Boston band members in a variety of bands during his teenage years.
“I started playing with Sib back in Lynn English High School, and he’s one of a few drummers I’ve ever worked with,” Boston lead guitarist Barry Goudreau told the Globe in 1980, explaining why he turned to his Boston bandmates while preparing a solo outing. Continue reading Sib Hashian 3/2017
February 4, 2017 – Steve Lang, (April Wine) was born Stephen Keith Lang in Montreal, Quebec on March 24, 1949. The band that gave him fame as a musician, was formed in late 1969 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The original members, the three brothers Henman with friend vocalist/guitarist Myles Goodwyn soon moved the band to Montreal to gain more exposure. They scored their first hit with “Fast Train” followed by a self-titled debut album. The next year brought the band’s first Canadian number one single, “You Could Have Been a Lady,” which had been a hit in Europe for the band “Hot Chocolate”.
Brothers David and Ritchie Henman left the band they had founded before the next album, Electric Jewels, could be recorded; they were replaced by Jerry Mercer and Gary Moffet. After April Wine Live (1974) and Stand Back (1975), Steve Lang came in to replace Jim Clench, who left to join Bachman-Turner Overdrive and later Loverboy and in turn had replaced the third Henman brother a couple of years earlier.Continue reading Steve Lang 2/2017
January 31, 2017 – John Wetton (ASIA) was born on June 12, 1949 in Willington, Derbyshire, and grew up in the coastal city of Bournemouth, Dorset, England.
He first cut his musical teeth on church music at his family’s piano where he often played the bass parts to help his brother rehearse tunes for services….an experience that led to John’s love of the relationship between top line and bass melodies. It stayed a major feature of his music throughout his career. In his teens, John focused those melodies on the bass guitar and honed his skills by playing and singing with local bands. He also discovered a knack for songwriting with an early bandmate, Richard Palmer-James; a relationship that would continue to flourish through five decades.Continue reading John Wetton 1/2017
27 June 2015 – Christopher Russell Edward ‘Chris’ Squire was born March 4, 1948 in the Kingsbury area of London. was an English musician, singer and songwriter. He was best known as the bassist and founding member of the progressive rock band Yes. He was the only member to appear on each of their 21 studio albums, released from 1969 to 2014.
Squire took an early interest in church music and sang in the local church and school choirs. After he took up the bass guitar at age sixteen, his earliest gigs were in 1964 for The Selfs, which later evolved into The Syn. In 1968, Squire formed Yes with singer Jon Anderson; he would remain the band’s sole bassist for the next 47 years.
March 11, 2015 – Jimmy Greenspoon aka Maestro was born on February 7, 1948 in Los Angeles and raised in Beverly Hills. He was taught the piano at aged 7 by his mother, the silent screen star, Mary O’Brien. While a senior at school he formed a surf group The New Dimensions, in 1963, before attending the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to studiy piano. Jimmy worked on the Sunset Strip in the 1960s with the groups Sound of the Seventh Son and The East Side Kids. His bands held residence at The Trip, Stratford on Sunset later The House Of Blues, Brave New World, Bidos Litos, Ciros, and The Whiskey.
August 27, 2014 – GlennCornick (Jethro Tull) was born on April 23rd 1947 in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England.
He attended Grammar school in that town, before taking up guitar, aged fifteen. Turning to the bass a year later, he left home and the local band scene and fled to the brighter city lights of Blackpool.
Glenn then played with a number of Blackpool-based groups including “The Executives”, a club cover band which played the hotels and clubs on a regular and almost professional basis as in 5 to 6 gigs a week.
Inspite of the financial steadiness with the Executives, he joined the John Evan’s Smash Band in 1966 which enjoyed maybe one gig a week, just before the point when the group was to attempt the brave move to seek full-time work in the south of England as a seven-piece Blues and Soul Band.
June 4, 2014 –Doc Neeson (the Angels) was born on January 4, 1947 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
He became best known as the charismatic lead singer for the Australian hard rock band The Angels. His father, Bernard James Neeson, was a British Army soldier, and his mother was Kathleen née Corrigan. Doc was the eldest of six children. They were raised as Catholics although the family lived in a Protestant area of Belfast. He attended boarding school at Terenure College in Dublin.
Feb 25, 2014- Paco de Lucia was born Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomes on December 21, 1947 in Algeciras, Southern Spain. He was the youngest of the five children of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sánchez Pecino and Portuguese mother Lúcia Gomes; his brothers include flamenco singer Pepe de Lucía and flamenco guitarist Ramón de Algeciras (deceased).
Playing in the streets as a young boy, there were many Pacos and Pablos in Algeciras, and as he wanted to honor his Portuguese mother Lucia Gomes, he adopted the stage name Paco de Lucía. In 1958, at age 11, Paco made his first public appearance on Radio Algeciras.
His father Antonio received guitar lessons from the hand of a cousin of Melchor de Marchena: Manuel Fernández (aka Titi de Marchena), a guitarist who arrived in Algeciras in the 1920s and established a school there. Antonio introduced Paco to the guitar at a young age and was extremely strict in his upbringing from the age of 5, forcing him to practice up to 12 hours a day, every day, to ensure that he could find success as a professional musician. Continue reading Paco de Lucia 2/2014
Feb 18, 2014 – Nossi Noske (Birth Control) was born on August 17, 1946 in West Berlin. At age eight he was already singing in the School choir even though music was in those days competing with soccer. He was a very talented soccer player. He played his first gig with the Black Phantoms in the city of Spandau in 1961, but before he enrolled fully into a career as musician he packed food and drove trucks.
His first Band „The Odd Persons“ played gigs in West Germany which included the famous Starclub in Hamburg. In 1969 he succeeded Hugo Egon Balder, in the Band Birth Control, where he played drums and sang until his death in 2014.
In 1983 the band split for ten years after the death of their guitarist Bruno Frenzel; Nossi reunited the band in 1993. In those years he played with Bands such as Hardbeats, Mr. Goodtrip and Lilly & the Rockets.
August 14, 2013 – Allen Glover Lanier (Blue Öyster Cult) was born on June 25th 1946 on Long Island New York. In 1967 together with Eric Bloom, he was a founding member of the band Soft White Underbelly, but after a bad review in 1969 they changed their name to Oaxaca, to the Stalk-Forrest Group, to the Santos Sisters, until the band settled on Blue Öyster Cult in 1971.
They released their debut album Blue Öyster Cult in January 1972. Because of their unique sound and diversity, Blue Öyster Cult has been influential to many modern bands that span many genres and are important pioneers of several different styles of rock music that came to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. Many heavy metal bands have cited them as a major influence, and bands such as Metallica and Iced Earth have covered their songs.
June 4, 2013 – Joseph Edward “Joey” Covington(Hot Tuna)was born Joseph Edward Michno on June 27, 1945 in East Conemaugh, Pennsylvania. He became a professional drummer as a young teenager, taking gigs in, among other things, polka bands and strip clubs in his hometown Johnstown, Pennsylvania. A colorful character, on his website he listed among his fondest early memories “Getting to New York City on a Greyhound bus with a suitcase, a set of drums, and a hundred dollars in my pocket.”
He built a long storied career starting at age 10 as a self-taught drummer/percussionist, along with becoming an award-winning songwriter and ultimately recording on over 22 albums, 16 went gold and platinum.
In the early to mid-’60s, he was playing with bands that opened shows for the Rolling Stones, Dave Clark 5, The Shangri-Las, Lee Dorsey, Lou Christie, Chad and Jeremy, Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners, among others, and a stint playing drums backing up Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars featuring acts such as the Supremes.
Covington settled in Los Angeles late 1966 and was quickly discovered and produced by famed producer/songwriter Kim Fowley as a singing drummer. The single released was a cover of The Who’s “Boris The Spider” with “I’ll Do Better Next Time” on the B side (the first song Covington ever wrote). He co-formed several bands in Los Angeles during that period. Tsong with Mickey Rooney Jr., and a yet-to-be-named band with Papa John Creach, Jimmy Greenspoon and Joe Schermie.
Papa John later was brought in by Joey to Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship and went on to a long solo recording career. Jimmy & Joe went on to become members of Three Dog Night.
A member of Jefferson Airplane, Joey at first co-formed Hot Tuna with Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady in late 1968 while Grace Slick was undergoing and recovering from throat node surgery. With Hot Tuna they opened shows for the Airplane. In early 1969 Joey was playing in both Hot Tuna and augmenting, then ultimately replacing Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden.
Covington appeared on their chart topping albums “Volunteers”, “Bark” and “Long Long John Silver”. Covington co-wrote Jefferson Airplane’s 1971 hit single “Pretty As You Feel” that reached number 60 on the charts and the 1976 Jefferson Starship hit single “With Your Love” that reached number 12 on the Billboard 100. He also recorded with members of Jefferson Airplane on their solo projects including Paul Kantner’s 1970 Jefferson Starship album “Blows Against The Empire”, Papa John Creach’s first solo album in 1971, and “Sunfighter” an album by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick released in November of 1971. It was Joey Covington who discovered violinist John Creach, gave him the nickname Papa, and brought him into the Jefferson Airplay family in 1970.
After leaving the Airplane in 1973 Covington released his solo album Fat Fandango and founded the San Francisco Allstars with former members of New Riders of the Purple Sage and other bands. He toured with the Allstars during the 1980s and 1990s. As a session player Covington recorded with Peter Kaukonen, Kim Fowley, Nick Gravenites, Juan Gabriel, Cristian Castro, Jaci Velasquez, and Jay Gordon. In 2006 he composed several songs for the artist Lauren and produced her album “Hideout Is a Crook’s Best Friend”.
The Early Years
Polka Bands and Strippers in Johnstown
Joey Covington was born Joseph Edward Michno on June 27, 1945 in Johnston, Pennsylvania. The third of six children he grew up near Johnston in the very small town of East Conemaugh. His father Louis had been a minor league baseball player projected to play in the majors before he was drafted into World War II. After the war, Louis became a truck driver and married Elizabeth (Betty) Sisco, an aspiring country singer. Joey Michno began playing drums at age 10 teaching himself by listening to the music of jazz percussionists Joe Morello, Cozy Cole, Sandy Nelson, Candido and Preston Epps. During his years at East Conemaugh High School he played tom toms in the marching band, learned rudimental drumming, and became the drum sergeant.
He began performing professionally in 1958 at age 13 playing drums in polka bands at VFW Lodges. As he was underage his mother and father had to chaperon his gigs. Without his parent’s knowledge he played drums in a strip joint called the Airway Club in Johnston, Pa. He beat on his Tom-toms while the strippers did their bump and grinds. At age 15 Joey decided he wanted make a career as a professional drummer.
While in high school Covington joined the Johnston surf rock band called the Vibra-Sonics. The Vibra-Sonics were comprised of George Tweedy (lead), Bob Tweedy (rhythm), Bill Sabo (2nd lead, rhythm), Joe Colner (bass) and Joey Michno (drums and vocals). They won several battles of the bands and opened a show for Simon and Garfunkel. The Vibra-Sonics played shows throughout Western Pennsylvania in the early 1960s. In 1963 they lost all of their instruments when the Conneaut Lake Park nightspot that they played at, the Cowshed, burnt to the ground. They recorded a single for Ideal Records. Ideal was a Pittsburgh based label owned by Augie Bernardo that also released singles by the El-Reys, the Stereos, John Harrison & the Hustlers, and the Four Challengers. The Vibra-Sonic’s released the single “Drag Race” / “Thunder Storm” on Ideal Records in 1964. On Drag Race, surf song reminiscent of the garage band classic “Wipeout”, Joey played rapid fire snare. Both songs from the single have been reissued on two surf music compilations.
Graduating from high school at age 18 Michno faced the Vietnam era draft. The Navy offered him a chance to play tympani with a Navy band if he enlisted. But a terrible car accident, one night after a gig, took away that chance. In December of 1964 the Vibro-Sonics were returning from a gig in Latrobe, Pa when one of their cars was struck by another car driven by a drunk driver. Joseph Colner the 16 year old bassist was killed. Joey Michno suffered multiple fractures of his pelvis, right leg, and three toes. The driver of the car that struck the Vibro-Sonics was arrested for involuntary manslaughter, speeding, driving without a permit, and for fleeing the accident. Covington spent three months in a pelvic sling before he went home to his parent’s house to learn to walk again. His recovery took six months.
On the Road to Rock Stardom
In 1965 at age 20, Covington left home for New York City after his father gave him an ultimatum. Louis told Joey “son, if you’re gonna be a rock star, you’ve got a month to take your drums and get out on the road, or, if you’re gonna live at home, you’d better get a job and bring some money into the house.” Joey took on his father’s challenge. He took to the road in search of a professional drumming job. Joey grabbed a hundred bucks, packed up his grey marine Ludwig drum kit and bought a one-way bus ticket to New York City.
In New York Joey went to the Peppermint Lounge to see Joey D of the Starliters who wrote the hit song “Peppermint Twist”. Michno walked up to Joey D, introduced himself, and asked where he could find a gig. Joey D told him to contact his agent Sid Green. The next day Michno called on Mr. Green saying Joey D sent him. Green gave him a card and said I’ll call you if anything comes up. But Joey persisted. He told Green “I can’t go back to Johnstown, my father will make me get another kind of job, and I’m a great drummer, and I’m gonna be a star, and I’m not leaving your office until you find me a gig!.” Joey pulled out his Vibra-Sonics single and had Mr. Green listen to it. Green liked his fast drumming but told Joey to come back in a few years. He offered to buy Joey a ticket back to Johnstown. Joey was about to leave when the night club singer and pianist Danny Apollinar came into see Mr. Green. Appollinar told Sid that two members of his trio just quit and he needed a new drummer and bass player in a hurry for a gig in Fort Lauderdale in two days. Mr. Green said Danny I have a drummer right here who can play anything. Appollinar hired him on the spot for $200 a week plus room and board. Green waved his commission and told Joey to go be a star. After two days of rehearsals Joey Michno went on tour with Appollinar. With that experience he got more calls and went on the road in 1965 playing shows with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars, the Shangri’la’s, Billy Stewart, the Supremes, Donald Jenkins and the Delighters and the Shirelles.
In 1966 Sonny Di’Nunzio, leader of the Pittsburgh band the Fenways, called Joey offering him a steady gig, He remembered Joey from the Vibra-Sonics battle of the bands shows. The Fenways were the hot band in Pittsburgh in 1966. They had several hit singles on Pittsburgh radio including “ Be Careful Little Girl,” (1964), ”Nothing to Offer You” (1964), The Number One Song In The Country” (1964) and “Walk” (1965). They were regulars on Terry Lee’s Channel 11 Come Alive TV dance show and had opened for the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five. Joey joined the Fenways playing with them seven days a week at the Staircase, Mancini’s, and other Pittsburgh area clubs. They opened shows for the Shangri-La’s, Lee Dorsey, Lou Christie, Chad and Jeremy, and the Skyliners. Joey recorded four singles with the Fenways in 1966 that were released on Nick Cenci’s Co&Ce label. The singles were “I’m A Mover” / “Satisfied” and “A Go Go” / “I Move Around”
Go West Young Man
In the spring of 1967 Joey’s musician friend Louie called asking if he’d like to ride out to Los Angeles in his new Mercedes. Seeking a new adventure Joey hit the road again with his drum kit in tow. They cruised down Route 66 making it to Sunset Boulevard in four days. In L.A. Joey Michno changed his professional name to Joey Covington.
Looking for work at the L.A. musician’s union hall, Joey met another Western Pennsylvanian musician violinist John Creach. They put together a band and played a few gigs before Creach found work playing jazz at the Parision Room. Working with producer Kim Fowley Joey record several songs at a solo artist in 1967. He sang, wrote several songs, recorded his own arrangement of the Who’s “Boris the Spider”. Covington formed a band with pianist Jimmy Greenspoon who later became one of the founding members of Three Dog Night. When Greenspoon moved on Covington joined with Mickey Rooney Jr. to found the band Tsong that signed with MGM Records. Covington co-wrote two songs “Let’s Be Friends” and the Brit Pop single “Like We Were Before” that were released on the MGM album “Song” in 1970. During this time Covington dated Art Linkletter’s daughter Dianne.
Flying High with the Jefferson Airplane
In 1968 Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane heard Covington play at an L.A. club and invited him to meet the Airplane at their next Whiskey A Go Go gig. Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady invited Covington to jam with them at RCA Studios in L.A. Covington continued to jam with Jorma and Jack in L.A. The trio of Jorma, Jack and Covington played their first live shows together in L.A. during October 1968. Those appearances led to the formation of Hot Tuna in 1969.
Marty Balin contacted Covington in 1969 asking him to come to San Francisco to audition for Jefferson Airplane. Covington won the audition and moved to San Francisco. During 1969 he played Hot Tuna gigs with Jorma Kaukonen. He also played Jefferson Airplane shows drumming alongside the original drummer Spencer Dryden. Covington made his first appearance as the lone the Airplane drummer on Aug 2 1969 at the Pop Festival in Atlantic City. He missed the chance to play with the Airplane at Woodstock when he broke his leg. Joey made his first recordings with the Jefferson Airplane playing percussion on two tracks of their November 1969 release “Volunteers” that reached number 13 on the Billboard charts in 1970. In December of 1969 Covington performed with the Jefferson Airplane at the infamous Altamont Free Concert. Headlined by the Stones the concert drew 300,000 but was marred by one murder and three accidental deaths.
Spencer Dryden, the Jefferson Airplane’s original drummer, was fired from the band in February 1970 by a unanimous vote of the other members. Burned out by acid and Altamont, Dryden took some time off before he joined the New Riders of the Purple Sage in 1972. The Jefferson Airplane sent out a press release in April of 1970 announcing Joey Covington as their new drummer. He toured the U.S. and Europe with the Airplane in 1970.
Covington invited his friend Papa John Creach to sit in with the Airplane for a concert at Winterland in San Francisco on October 5, 1970. The Airplane members loved Papa John’s playing and made him a permanent member of the Airplane and Hot Tuna. Joey helped Papa John put together his first solo album by selecting the songs, hiring the musicians, playing drum, and writing the Papa John top 40 single “Janitor Drives a Cadillac”.
Blows Against the Empire
In December of 1970 Covington played drums on Paul Kantner’s “Blows Against the Empire” album that was the forerunner of Jefferson Starship. David Crosby. Graham Nash, Grace Slick, Jack Cassidy and several members of the Grateful Dead appeared on the album.
Barking Up the Right Tree
Covington recorded with the Airplane in the summer of 1971 on their album “Bark”. It was the first release on the band’s own label Grunt Records. Covington co-wrote and sang lead vocals on the single “Pretty As You Feel” which was the last Jefferson Airplane song to reach the Billboard 100. Covington also wrote and sang vocals on the whimsical track “Thunk”. He played drums on all eleven of the tracks. Bark was another commercial success reaching number 11 on the Billboard charts.
In 1972 Covington began to work on outside recording projects lessening his role with the Airplane. He recorded the album Black Kangaroo with Jorma Kaukonen’s brother Peter. Covington played on two tracks of the Airplane’s July 1972 album release “Long John Silver”. Joey play live concerts with the Airplane into 1973.
Wanting to work on his own projects Covington left the Airplane in 1973. He released a solo album entitled “Fat Fandango” on Grunt Records in 1973. Joey wrote all of the songs on the album and produced it. The Allmusic Guide reviewer wrote: “Fat Fandango by Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey Covington is a major revelation, a wonderful artifact from the day when record labels allowed certain bands their own imprint and side musicians a chance to fully express their artistry. ….This is a great, lost party album”.
Covington formed the San Francisco All Stars in 1978 with Steve Love of the New Riders of the Purple Sage and Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina. They toured the U.S. but never released any recordings. As who’s who of musicians and movie actors have been members of the All Stars including Slash, Spencer Davis, Rick Danko, Mike Finnegan, Skunk Baxter, Billy Roberts, Spencer Dryden, Paul Shortino, Jimmy Crespo, James Gurley, Brian May, Albert Collins, Joe Shermie, Mike Bloomfield, Fuzzy Knight, Joe Chambers, Bruce Willis, Kiefer Sutherland, Max Gail, Jr., and Gary Busey.
Joey Covington has composed songs recorded by Juan Gabriel, Pandora, Jaci Velasquez, and Cristian Castro and has played drums on records of Nick Gravenites Blue Star and Jay Gorden’s Jaywalking.
In the Pittsburgh Music Hall of Fame
The Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. But the Hall of Fame did not include Joey Covington saying he was not an original member. The Hall ignored the fact that Grace Slick was not an original member. They also ignored the fact the Covington recorded on three of the Airplane’s albums, wrote the Airplane’s last hit single, toured extensively with the band, recorded on solo projects with Paul Kanter and Grace Slick, brought Papa John Creach into the band, and was one of the founders of Hot Tuna. Pittsburgh Music History recognizes the achievements and talent of Joey Covington. From humble beginnings playing VFW polka gigs in Johnston, he took on his father’s challenge to earn a living as a drummer, went on the road and was invited by Marty Balin to become an important contributing member of one of the seminal rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s.
Joey Covington died in a car crash in Palm Springs, Calif.on June 4th 2013 at the age of 67. According to the Desert Sun newspaper, Covington, who was not wearing a seat belt, crashed into a retaining wall at a highway curve. His car flew off the road hitting an elevated highway. Joey’s wife believed that a heart attack or stroke caused him to drive off the road. He died on the scene.
January 11, 2013 – John Wilkinson was born on July 3rd 1945 in Springfield, Missouri.
John was drawn to music very early. At the age of 10, he famously sneaked into Elvis Presley’s dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, telling Elvis, “you can’t play guitar worth a damn.” Elvis was amused and impressed with this kid and predicted they would meet again. They did. After playing in a high school band with his classmates called, “The Coachmen,” John went on to make a name for himself as a folk and country singer and guitar player.
He traveled around the country playing with such groups as , The Goodtime Singers, Greenwood County Singers, and The New Christy Minstrels.
John and Elvis met again in 1968, when the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll saw John on a TV show in Los Angeles and called to invite John to join his band. John played over 1,200 shows as Elvis’ rhythm guitar player, right up until The King’s death in 1977.
After that he played less music, and made a living in retail and airline services management. He married his wife, Terry, in 1983. A serious stroke in 1989 left him unable to play the guitar. Nevertheless, for several years after that, he traveled the U.S. and Europe, appearing with the old TCB band and others, singing and paying tribute to Elvis. He was proud of the fact that he never turned down a request for an autograph.
Everyone in the TCB band was family. “Besides my own father, he was probably the most kind and compassionate and considerate and generous man I’ve ever met in my life,” Wilkinson said of Presley, still wearing the gold TCB emblem the King put around his neck in 1969.
Even after suffering a stroke in 1989 that left him unable to play the guitar, Wilkinson continued singing with fellow musicians, including the old TCB Band (the acronym stood for Taking Care of Business), and also made a living in retail and airline services management.
Despite his amazing musicianship -“He was honestly one of the best acoustic guitar players I’d ever heard,”- admitted one of his band mates, he enjoyed the incredible places he got to visit, and his entertaining stories of meeting famous people, the most remarkable thing about John was his kindness.
It didn’t matter if he was meeting adoring fans, joking with Chuck Berry about keeping his B-string in tune, or if he was talking to a neighbor about her dog, people were people to him. Folks were folks. John would look you square in the eye and accept you, just as you were. There was nothing phony about him. Ellison recalled, adding that Wilkinson kept in touch with many of the performers from the folk music era in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
John died fighting a long battle with cancer on Jan 11, 2013 at age 67.
February 11, 2009 – Estelle Bennet (The Ronettes), born in New York City on July 22, 1941, became along with her sister Ronnie Spector and cousin Nedra Talley the Rosettes. The Ronettes first began performing as the Darling Sisters and later worked as dancers at New York’s Peppermint Lounge, the epicentre of the 60s dance craze, the Twist. They first signed with Colpix, before being signed by Phil Spector.
Their recording of “Be My Baby” reached hit No. 2 on Billboard in 1963 and was followed by a string of hits including “Walkin’ in the Rain” and “Baby I Love You”. Their rendition of “Sleigh Ride” that appeared on Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You” album. Their last Philles single was “I Can Hear Music” in 1966. After the Ronettes break-up, she recorded a single for Laurie Records, “The Year 2000/The Naked Boy”. She then quit the music business and had rarely been seen since.
January 9, 2009 – Dave Dee was born David John Harman on December 17th 1943 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. One day in 1946 he arrived home from kindergarten to find a man in a kilt talking to his mother. It was his father, whom he had never seen, and who had just returned from the war as a soldier in the Black Watch.
As a boy, he boarded at the Adcroft School of Building, formerly the Hammersmith School of Arts and Crafts which had been evacuated during the war from London to a former army camp at Trowbridge. Having been warned off the building trade by his father, David dabbled in plumbing but also became interested in music, initially the sort that accompanies Morris dancing. At 13 he played in a skiffle group and later sang in a Salvation Army choir, an experience he claimed cost him his virginity with a teenage comrade “dressed in the full uniform, including stockings and suspenders – the whole works”.
June 26, 2006 – Johnny Jenkins was born the son of a day laborer on March 5, 1939 east of Macon, Georgia in a rural area called Swift Creek. On the battery powered radio, he was drawn to hillbilly music and first heard the sounds of blues and classic R&B artists like Bill Doggett, Bullmoose Jackson, and others.
Jenkins built his first guitar out of a cigar box and rubber bands when he was nine, and began playing at a gas station for tips. He played it left-handed and upside down (like Hendrix), and this practice continued after his older sister bought him a real guitar a couple of years later. He left school in seventh grade to take care of his ailing mother and by 16 had turned to music full time.
He started out with a small blues band called the Pinetoppers that played the college circuit and first heard Redding at a talent show at a Macon theater. At one college event with the Pinetoppers, he met Walden, a white student at Macon’s Mercer University who was attracted to black rhythm-and-blues music. Besides working as Mr. Jenkins’s manager, Walden co-founded the legendary Southern rock label Capricorn Records, which produced Jenkins two albums “Ton-Ton Macoute!” and “Blessed Blues.”
June 13, 2006 – Freddie Gorman, born Frederick Cortez Gorman, April 11, 1939 in Detroit, was a musician, singer, songwriter and record producer for Motown.
Gorman developed his bass harmonizing on local street corners, and was still in high school when he made his recorded debut on the Qualitones’ 1955 Josie Records single “Tears of Love”. Two years later Gorman and longtime best friends Brian Holland and Sonny Sanders formed the Fideletones. After issuing “Pretty Girl” on Aladdin Records in 1959, the group splintered and Gorman resumed his day job as a mail carrier. He was a vital unsung component of the Motown label’s formative development as he co-wrote the label’s first #1 pop hit “Please Mr. Postman”, by the Marvelettes. In 1964 the biggest selling group of all time, the Beatles released their version, and in 1975 the Carpenters took it back to #1 again. This was the second time in pop history (after “The Twist” by Chubby Checker) that a song reached #1 in the US twice. In 2006, “Please Mr. Postman” was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
February 16, 2004 – Doris Troywas born Doris Elaine Higginsen on January 6, 1937 in the Bronx, New York. She was the daughter of a Barbadian Pentecostal minister but later took her grandmother’s name and grew up as Doris Payne. Her stage name came from Helen of Troy. Her parents disapproved of “subversive” forms of music like rhythm & blues, so she cut her teeth singing in her father’s choir. She was working as an usherette at the Apollo where she was discovered by James Brown. Troy worked with Solomon Burke, The Drifters, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick, before she co-wrote and recorded “Just One Look”, which hit #10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.
“Just One Look” was the only charting US hit for Troy. The song was recorded in 10 minutes on October 1962, with producer Buddy Lucas, as a demo for Atlantic Records. However, after Atlantic Records heard the demo, they decided not to re-record it, but release it as is.
November 10, 1997 – Tommy Tedesco (session guitarist) was born on July 3rd 1930 in Niagara Falls. It took him almost 30 years to make his way to the West Coast, but once there he became one of the most sought after studio musicians between the 1960s and the 1980s. Although Tedesco was primarily a guitar player, he also played the mandolin, ukulele, and the sitar as well as 28 other stringed instruments (though he played all of them in guitar tuning!).
Guitar magazine described him as the most recorded guitarist in history, having played on thousands of recordings, including the Beach Boys, Everly Brothers, The Association, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, Cher, and Nancy and Frank Sinatra. He recorded with most of the top acts in the Los Angeles arena. TV themes include Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Green Acres, M*A*S*H, Batman, and Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special. Continue reading Tommy Tedesco 11/1997
March 10, 1997 – LaVern Baker was born Delores LaVern Baker on November 11, 1929 in Chicago. She began singing gospel as a child, but she was familiar with more secular styles, as well. Her aunt, Merline Baker, was better known as Memphis Minnie, a blues singer and guitarist. LaVern was blessed with a powerful voice, which she put to use as a teenager singing in nightclubs under the stage name Little Miss Sharecropper. She wore a straw hat and a dress made of patches.