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Fred Cole 11/2017

November 9, 2017 – Fred Cole was born August 28, 1948 in Tacoma, Washington and he moved with his mother to Las Vegas where he attended high school. Here he began his recording career in 1964,  with his band, the Lords, at the Teenbeat Club, releasing a single titled “Ain’t Got No Self-Respect. “His next single, from 1965, was a promo-only called “Poverty Shack” b/w “Rover,” with a band named Deep Soul Cole.

In 1966 Cole’s band The Weeds gained notice in garage rock circles, and their only single, a 60s punk track called It’s Your Time (b/w Little Girl, Teenbeat Club Records), has become a collectors’ favorite. The A-side appeared on one of the Nuggets anthologies. The band was promised an opening slot on a Yardbirds bill at the Fillmore in San Francisco, but on their arrival found that the venue hadn’t heard of them. Continue reading Fred Cole 11/2017

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Kenny Shields 7/2017

July 21, 2017 – Kenny Shields was born in 1947 in the farming community of Nokomis, Saskatchewan, Canada. His passion for music and entertaining emerged at the age of six when he entered and won an amateur talent show. While continuing his interest in music and singing, upon graduation from secondary school he moved to Saskatoon to attend university but was immediately recruited by the city’s premiere band – Witness Incorporated.

Kenny’s lifelong dream began to take shape as the band built a loyal fan base across the country, scoring with a string of national radio hits including “I’ll Forget Her Tomorrow”, “Jezebel” and “Harlem Lady, all featuring Kenny’s unmistakable vocals. After touring with such legendary artists as Roy Orbison and Cream, tragedy struck in 1970 when Shields was critically injured in an automobile accident that sidetracked him from music for several years. Continue reading Kenny Shields 7/2017

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Sonny Knight 6/2017

June 17, 2017 – Sonny Knight was born in 1948 in Mississippi and around 1955 moved to Minnesota with his grandmother. He grew up in the Rondo suburb of St.Paul where he was exposed to the urban music of the era such as bepop, soul and r&b.

At age 17 in 1965 he recorded his first (and only) 45rpm single as Little Sonny Knight & The Cymbols, titled “Tears On My Pillow” B/W “Rain Dance”. Shortly thereafter, music took a back seat to a three-year stint in the army. A few more years in the Bay Area followed, before he returned to Minnesota in the mid-1970s and joined the now-cult favorite funk group Haze. By the early ‘80s, Haze had broken up and Sonny walked away from music for a full time job as a truck driver.

Continue reading Sonny Knight 6/2017

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Gregg Allman 5/2017

gregg allman passes from liver cancerMay 27, 2017 – Gregory LeNoir “Gregg” Allman was born December 8th, 1947 in Nashville, TN, a little more than a year after his older brother Duane. In 1949, his dad offered a hitchhiker a ride home and was subsequently shot and killed. After that tragedy his mother Geraldine moved to Nashville with her two sons, and she never remarried. Lacking money to support her two sons, she enrolled in college to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). State laws at the time required students to live on-campus and as a consequence, Gregg and his older brother Duane were sent to Castle Heights Military Academy in nearby Lebanon. A young Gregg interpreted these actions as evidence of his mother’s dislike for him, though he later came to understand the reality: “She was actually sacrificing everything she possibly could—she was working around the clock, getting by just by a hair, so as to not send us to an orphanage, which would have been a living hell.” Continue reading Gregg Allman 5/2017

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Jim Fuller 3/2017

Surfaris lead guitaristMarch 3, 2017 – Jim Fuller, co-founding member and lead guitarist of the Surfaris, was born on June 27, 1947. In 1962, Bob Berryhill (15), Jim Fuller (15), Pat Connolly (15) and Ron Wilson (17) from Glendora, California formed The Surfaris.

It was the year that the surf music craze was just emerging and “Wipe Out” was written that winter. Saxophonist, Jim Pash, joined the band after “Wipe Out” was recorded.

Initially catapulted by the California surf culture, The Surfaris transcended the local scene into international stardom with their hit song “Wipe Out.” On a cold December night that same year, these four young teenagers wrote Wipe Out in the studio after recording Surfer Joe. With the help of manager Dale Smallin (Wipe Out laugh intro) and recording engineer Paul Buff, The Surfaris recorded the 1963 hit version of Wipe Out and Surfer Joe. Continue reading Jim Fuller 3/2017

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Peter Skellern 2/2017

British pop star Peter SkellernFebruary 17, 2017 – Peter Skellern was born in Bury, Lancashire on March 14, 1947.

He played trombone in a school band and served as organist and choirmaster in a local church before attending the Guildhall School of Music, from which he graduated with honors in 1968. Because “I didn’t want to spend the next 50 years playing Chopin,” he joined the vocal harmony band March Hare which, after changing their name to Harlan County, recorded a country-pop album before disbanding in 1971.

Married with two children, Skellern worked as a hotel porter in Shaftesbury, Dorset, before music struck lucky at the end of 1972 with a self-composed U.K. number three hit, “You’re a Lady.” The record featured the Congregation, who had previously recorded the top ten hit “Softly Whispering I Love You”.

“You’re a Lady” reached number three on the UK Singles Chart and number 50 in the United States Billboard Hot 100 and sold several million copies world wide.  Continue reading Peter Skellern 2/2017

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Sonny Geraci 2/2017

Sonny Geraci, vocalist for the Outsiders and ClimxFebruary 5, 2017 – Sonny Geraci (Outsiders and Climax) was born Emmett Peter Geraci on November 22, 1947 in Cleveland Ohio. Sonny was a street kid, growing up in Cleveland to the music of Motown, the British invasion and all the music that came before.

Still in high school he joined a group called The Starfires. Actually his older brother Mike played sax for a number of groups in the greater Cleveland are and when the Starfires needed a new singer, as theirs was called up for military draft, Mike suggested his brother Sonny. After he joined the group, he pushed the rest of the band to record and change the drummer and change the guitar player and finally change the name to The Outsiders and started to record songs. It was a good move.
The first single “Time Won’t Let Me” was almost an afterthought as they were planning to cut a Beatles song, but instead opted to record an original.

Continue reading Sonny Geraci 2/2017

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Butch Trucks 1/2017

Butch Trucks, drummer for the Allman Brothers BandJanuary 24, 2017 – Claude Hudson “Butch” Trucks was born on May 11, 1947 in Jacksonville, Florida.

A drummer, one of Trucks’ first bands was local Jacksonville band The Vikings, who made one 7-inch record in 1964. Another early band was The 31st of February which formed and broke up in 1968. This group’s lineup eventually included both Duane Allman and Gregg Allman. They recorded a cover of “Morning Dew”, by 1960s folk singer Bonnie Dobson.

Trucks then helped form The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, along with Duane Allman (guitar), Gregg Allman (vocals and organ), Dickey Betts (guitar), Berry Oakley (bass), and fellow drummer Jai Johanny Johanson.
Together, the two drummers developed a rhythmic drive that would prove crucial to the band’s success. Trucks laid down a powerful conventional beat while the jazz-influenced Johanson added a second laminate of percussion and ad libitum cymbal flourishes, seamlessly melded into one syncopated sound. Continue reading Butch Trucks 1/2017

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Peter Overend Watts 1/2017

Overend Watts, bass player for Mott the HoopleJanuary 22, 2017 – Peter Overend Watts was born in the Yardley neighborhood of Birmingham, England on 13 May, 1947.

Watts began playing the guitar at the age of 13 and by 1965, he had switched to bass guitar and became a professional musician. Watts attended Ross Grammar School in 1963 and met his lifelong friend Dale Griffin aka Buffin and they played in local bands together such as The Anchors, Wild Dogs Hellhounds and The Silence when they met a rival band The Buddies who had Mick Ralphs and Stan Tippins as members and they collectively formed The Doc Thomas Group. Changes to that line-up occurred in 1968 and keyboard player Verden Allen joined and they changed their name to The Shakedown Sound.

In 1969 they all moved to London and came to the attention of record producer Guy Stevens who auditioned Ian Hunter and appointed him as their lead singer instead of Tippins and Mott The Hoople was formed. Watts was instrumental in getting David Bowie to write a song for the band and initially was offered the song “Suffragette City” which he turned down before David wrote especially for the band their now anthem “All The Young Dudes”. Mott The Hoople quickly built up a fearsome reputation as a dynamic live attraction playing gloriously ragged rock’n’roll and much of the group’s raw energy emanated from the bands propulsive engine room: the thunderous rhythm section of Overend and Dale. Visually the band also stood out and it was hard not to notice Watts in his thigh high platform boots, silver hair with a custom made bass guitar in the shape of a swallow! Continue reading Peter Overend Watts 1/2017

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Mike Kellie 1/2017

drummer for Spooky ToothJanuary 18, 2017 – Mike Kellie – (Spooky Tooth, the Only Ones) was born on March 24, 1947 in Birmingham, England into a family with no musical background or inclination.. As a child, he showed an early interest in rhythm, practicing on a coal shuttle with hearth brushes to simulate a snare drum. In his teen years, he joined St. Michaels Youth Club band as a drummer. He later played at “The Track” at Tudor Grange Sports Centre in Solihull. On the basis of this work, he was invited by Brian “Monk” Ffinch to play with Wayne and the Beachcombers in Birmingham, which started his career as a professional musician.

In 1966, Kellie played in Birmingham in a band called the Locomotive with Chris Wood of Traffic, and later with the V.I.P.’s (later Art) in Carlisle.

Steve Winwood was ready to leave The Spencer Davis Group and I was in a band in Birmingham called The Locomotive with Chris Wood on tenor sax & flute. Chris, Steve & Jim Capaldi were forming Traffic at that time, around the latter part of 1966. The other band that Chris Blackwell, who managed the Spencer Davis Group, had was the VIP’s from Carlisle. They were a great rhythm and blues band and had come down to make it in London having conquered the North. Their drummer, Walter Johnson, missed his family and went back to Carlisle. Hence, in the office one day Steve suggested someone call me. I had a day job in a wood yard in Olton. I got a phone call from friend Paul Medcalf who said …“Steve wants to know if you’re interested in joining this band…” So I was off, next day, straight from New Street Station, with my drums, to Paddington. Met by VIP’s road manager, the legendary Albert Heaton I was driven to 155, Oxford Street where I met Mike Harrison and Greg Ridley. I met the rest of the band later that evening. The next day I was in Paris playing at Olympia with the VIP’s without any rehearsal!!  We were bottom of the bill, Chris Blackwell had done this deal for the band to open a star studded variety fundraiser in aid of UNICEF. It was held at Paris Olympia & was televised worldwide, similar to the way ‘All You Need Is Love’ was done. The VIP’s had a single out in France on Fontana and we were over to promote it, a Joe Tex song called ‘I Wanna Be Free’. So I had no real rehearsal, just the journey over in the van. We did the TV show after I had phoned my mother from a Post Office in Paris earlier that day and said ‘Mum, look in the Radio Times, I think we’re on a TV thing tonight.’ The record became a big hit in France following that show.

Manager Chris Blackwell found a singer and organist from the New York Tymes band named Gary Wright, added him to the line-up of Art and launched the band Spooky Tooth with Kellie, Greg Ridley, Jimmy Henshaw, Keith Emerson, Luther Grosvenor and vocalist extraordinaire Mike Harrison.*

With Blackwell being more focused on his fledgling Island Records, and in spite of the band’s wide acceptance in America and the European mainland, Spooky Toothe declined quickly in the early 70s and Kellie joined French Elvis Johnny Hallyday‘s band for a summer tour of France in 1974, before forming The Only Ones in 1976 with Peter Perrett, Alan Mair and John Perry.

The Only Ones, possibly best known for the single “Another Girl, Another Planet”, recorded three albums for CBS, although over time, their catalogue has contained many compilations and other releases, which now outnumber their studio albums.

In February 1978, Johnny Thunders moved to London with his family, and began playing with a loose revue dubbed the Living Dead. Kellie became part of this floating line-up (that also included Perrett along with various Sex Pistols including Steve Jones and Paul Cook) and recorded Thunders’ So Alone album together with his signature song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”.

Following the Only Ones’ farewell in 1981 at London’s Lyceum, Kellie moved to the countryside north of Toronto, Canada, where he spent four years away from performing. He used this time to learn the piano and write songs.

Returning to Britain in 1985, Kellie spent several years hill farming in North Wales and Scotland where he became a shepherd. In 1999 Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison, Luther Grosvenor and Greg Ridley under the Spooky Tooth moniker. Together they released the Cross Purpose album.

In 2004, Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison and Gary Wright to play dates in Germany as another new incarnation of Spooky Tooth. The band later released the DVD Nomad Poets with live performances from Worpswede and Hamburg, Germany.

In 2007, the Only Ones reformed, touring the UK, Europe and Japan as well as performing on BBC TV’s Later… with Jools Holland.

In 2010, with the Only Ones undergoing another sabbatical, Kellie began recording his own collection of music which become his first solo album. Entitled Music from The Hidden, the album was produced by Kellie who also played drums, organ, bass and acoustic guitars, percussion and sang lead vocals. There are also contributions from Gordon Jackson (acoustic guitar), Finley Barker and Tony Kelsey (guitars), Steve Winwood (organ, mandolin and bass), Bill Hunt, Levi French and Tony Ariss (pianos), Rob Harrison (bass), Steve Gibbons (backing vocals) and Greg Platt Lake (guitar and vocals). The album was released in 2014.

Kellie was prominent among the musicians featured on the six-CD Jess Roden Anthology, presented by Hidden Masters. He contributed to the 2011 sessions for the Distractions re-union album, The End of the Pier, which was released on Occultation Records in 2012.

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Kellie was besides a member of the rock bands the V.I.P.s, Spooky Tooth and the Only Ones, also a prolific session musician and worked with the Who on the film soundtrack of Tommy, Joe Cocker, Traffic, George Harrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees’s Maurice Gibb, Gary Wright, Johnny Thunders, Luther Grosvenor, Neil Innes, Steve Gibbons, Chris Jagger, Nanette Workman, Sean Tyla, Jim Capaldi, Pat Travers and Andy Fraser.

Mike Kellie died on 18 January 2017 following a short illness at the age of 69.

*For a magnificent account of those early London rock days go to http://www.mikekellie.com/PT_1.htm

Another interesting interview about the early days of British rock is this Interview with Mike Kellie – Spooky Tooth

 

 

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Greg Lake 12/2016

December 7, 2016 – Gregory Stuart “Greg” Lake was born on 10 November 1947 in Poole, Dorset near Bournemouth, England. Lake was given his first guitar at the age of 12 and took lessons from a local tutor called Don Strike.
first learned to play guitar at age 12. After 12 months of guitar lessons, Lake ended his tuition as he wished to learn songs by The Shadows but his instructor “wouldn’t have any of it.” After he left school, Lake worked as a draughtsman for a short period of time before he joined The Shame, where he is featured on their single “Don’t Go Away Little Girl”, written by Janis Ian. Lake then became a member of The Gods, which he described as “a very poor training college”.

Continue reading Greg Lake 12/2016

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Glenn Frey 1/2016

glenn FreyJanuary 18, 2016 – Glenn Frey was born on Nov. 6, 1948 in Detroit and was raised in nearby Royal Oak. He grew up on both the Motown sounds and harder-edged rock of his hometown. He played in a succession of local bands in the city and first connected with Bob Seger when Frey’s band, the Mushrooms, convinced Seger to write a song for them. Frey can also be heard singing extremely loud backing vocals (particularly on the first chorus) on Seger’s first hit and Frey’s first recorded appearance, 1968’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.”

But it wasn’t long before warmer climes called and Frey followed then-girlfriend Joan Silwin to Los Angeles. Her sister Alexandra was a member of Honey Ltd., a girl group associated with Nancy Sinatra producer Lee Hazelwood, and she introduced Frey to her friend John David Souther.

Continue reading Glenn Frey 1/2016

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David Bowie 1/2016

db-transformation-colour2016 – David Bowie was born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947 in South London, England. Bowie developed an early interest in music although his attempts to succeed as a pop star during much of the 1960s were frustrated. Bowie’s first hit song, “Space Oddity”, reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969.

After a three-year period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, spearheaded by the hit single “Starman” and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie’s impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, “challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture”. The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved to be one facet of a career marked by reinvention, musical innovation and visual presentation. Continue reading David Bowie 1/2016

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Rutger Gunnarsson 5/2015

rutger-gunnarssonMay 8, 2015 – Rutger Gunnarsson was born in Linköping, Sweden on February 12, 1946.

Few bassists have played on records that have sold over 350 million copies: Paul McCartney, a handful of session kingpins like Carol Kaye, and – lesser known, but still brilliant–ABBA’s Rutger Gunnarsson.

He joined the ABBA family in 1972, when he was a classical guitar major at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music. A classmate tipped him off about a bass audition for the pre-ABBA band the Hootenanny Singers. ”Their act included a comedy part where the whole band sang harmony, so they started with that,” Rutger remembers. ”I sang my part right off the sheet-no problem to me – but it apparently impressed them enough to offer me the job on the spot. I didn’t even touch the bass!”

Continue reading Rutger Gunnarsson 5/2015

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Danny McCulloch 1/2015

Danny MccullochJanuary 29, 2015 – Danny McCulloch (the New Animals) was born July 18, 1945 in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. Not even in his mid teens, he started out with local band The Avro Boys, who became Tony Craven & The Casuals. In 1960, the band linked up with new singer Frankie Reid and Danny remained with the group until October 1962.

During his time with The Casuals, one of the band’s drummers was Mitch Mitchell. Danny next joined Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages, before joining The Plebs. During 1966, he worked briefly with The Carl Douglas Set.

In late 1966, after the breakup of the original incarnation of The Animals, he joined the “New Animals”. They released a series of albums and hit singles, including “San Franciscan Nights“, “Monterey” and “Sky Pilot“. He and Vic Briggs were fired from the band and they started a duo career. In 1969 they released the album Wings of a Man.

Continue reading Danny McCulloch 1/2015

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Mac McLagan 12/2014

Ian Mac MCLaganDecember 3 – 2014 – Ian Patrick ‘Mac’ McLagan (keyboards for the Small Faces)was born on May 12th 1945 in Hounslow, Middlesex, England.

His first professional group was with the Muleskinners, followed by the Boz People with Boz Burrell. Then in 1965, Manager Don Arden hired him for the sum of £30 a week, to join The Small Faces, (the £30 dropped to £20 after his probation period, like the other members received!).

His debut gig with them was at London’s Lyceum Theatre on November 2nd that same year and he can be heard on all of their hits including “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”, “Itchycoo Park”, “Lazy Sunday”, “All or Nothing”, and “Tin Soldier”.

In 1969, after Steve Marriott left the group and Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined, the band changed its name to Faces. He stayed with the Faces until they split in 1975, after which he worked as a sideman for the Rolling Stones, both in the studio and on tour as well as on various Ronnie Wood projects, including the New Barbarians.

Continue reading Mac McLagan 12/2014

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Jesse Winchester 4/2014

Jesse WinchesterApril 11, 2014 – James Ridout “Jesse” Winchester was born in Bossier City, Louisiana on May 17th 1944.  He had 10 years of piano lessons, played organ in church and picked up guitar after hearing rockabilly, blues and gospel on Memphis radio.

During the height of the Vietnam War in 1967 he moved to Canada, where he began his career as a solo artist. After he became a Canadian citizen in 1973, he gained amnesty in the U.S. in 1977, but did not resettle there until 2002.

Winchester was born at Barksdale Army Air Field and raised in northern Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, where he graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1962 as a merit finalist, a National Honor Society member and the salutatorian of his class. He graduated from Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1966. Upon receiving his draft notice the following year, Winchester moved to Montreal, Canada, to avoid military service. “I was so offended by someone’s coming up to me and presuming to tell me who I should kill and what my life was worth,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. “I didn’t see going to a war I didn’t believe was just, or dying for it,“ he said in an interview with No Depression magazine, expressing a viewpoint most intelligent people harbored.

Continue reading Jesse Winchester 4/2014

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Sugarfoot Bonner 1/2013

leroy-bonnerJanuary 27, 2013 – Sugarfoot Bonner was born Leroy on March 14th 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Cincinnati, the oldest of 14 children. He ran away from home as a young teenager and played the harmonica on street corners for change.

He joined the The Ohio Untouchables when they regrouped in 1964. Leroy’s rip-it-up guitar work and taste for something funky the band went on to become The Ohio Players, with Leroy as their front man, lead singer and guitarist.

Their first big hit single “Funky Worm”, reached No.1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1973. Other hits followed, including “Who’d She Coo?” and their double No.1 hit songs “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire” in January 1976.

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James Gurley 12/2009

james gurley2009 – James Gurley was born on December 22, 1939 in Detroit Michigan, the son of a stunt-car driver, and attended the city’s Cooley high school. His father would sometimes enlist his son’s ­support, strapping him to the bonnet of a car and driving through walls of fire. Gurley had his first encounter with a guitar at the age of 16 when an uncle brought one to his home, but initially he showed no interest. He took up the instrument seriously three years later, at age 19, initially teaching himself the rudiments by listening to recordings of the bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins. In 1962 he moved with his wife Nancy and son to the Bay area in San Francisco.

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Larry Knechtel 8/2009

famous session musician larry knechtelAugust 20, 2009 – Lawrence William Larry Knechtel (Bread, The Wrecking Crew) was born on August 4, 1940 in Bell, California. Larry took piano lessons in his pre-teen years. Naturally gifted with perfect pitch, Larry moved beyond sheet music and started playing by ear. An interest in radio and electronics prompted him to build his own crystal radio, which introduced him to the blues and early rock-n-roll which was being aired by local R&B stations. Excited by what he heard, Larry purchased 45’s of black R&B artists and studied them intently. He also joined an inner-city youth band which included players from several local schools in the central Los Angeles area. This proved to be a fertile experience which introduced him to other good players, some of whom later became noted session musicians, among them saxophonist Jim Horn and guitarist Mike Deasey.

Continue reading Larry Knechtel 8/2009

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Kenny Rankin 6/2009

kenny-rankinJune 7, 2009 – Kenny Rankin was born in Los Angeles on February 10, 1940 but raised in the Washington Heights area of Brooklyn, New York.

He was introduced to music by his mother, who sang at home and for friends. Early in his career he worked as a singer-songwriter, while a well-regarded guitarist, he played in Bob Dylan’s backup band on the influential 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home.”

Continue reading Kenny Rankin 6/2009

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Mel Brown 3/2009

Mel BrowenMarch 20, 2009 – Mel Brown was born in Jackson, Mississippi on October 7th 1939; he started guitar in his early teens while battling meningitis, studying the music of idols like B. B. King and T-Bone Walker. In 1960, he toured with The Olympics, followed by a two years stint with Etta James.

By 1963, tired of life on the road, Mel returns to L.A. where he once again rejoins Johnny Otis. This time in the house band at the hot spot Club Sands. Here Mel gets a chance to back artists such as Pee Wee Crayton, Johnny Guitar Watson, Billy Preston and Sam Cooke. At this juncture of his career Mel begins to work steadily in the highly competitive L.A. studio scene appearing on sessions with everyone from Bobby Darin to Doris Day, Bill Cosby to Jerry Lewis. Meanwhile back in the blues world, after impressing T-Bone Walker with his playing one night at the Sands Club, Walker invited Mel to appear on an album , “Funky Town”, that he was preparing to record for the ABC/Impulse label.

Continue reading Mel Brown 3/2009

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Delaney Bramlett 12/2008

Delaney Bramlett December 27, 2008 – Delaine Alvin “Delaney” Bramlett  was born on July 1st, 1939 in Pontotoc Mississippi. Life in his hometown wasn’t for the budding music man and the only way to survive was to pick cotton or join the Armed Services. As a young kid however he was hanging around a studio in town watching everything and did some early demos for another Mississippian, Elvis Presley, as well as played a cardboard box as a drum on a George Jones record.

Delaney joined the Navy for three years and said goodbye to Mississippi. After his release from the Navy with Mississippi in his heart and his feet in Los Angeles he moved his family to be with him, where he has remained ever since.

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Colin Cooper 7/2008

colin-cooperJuly 3, 2008 – Colin Cooper (Climax Blues Band) was born on October 7th, 1939 in Stafford, England.

He grew up in Stafford and began playing the harmonica as a child. Aged 12 he switched to clarinet before mastering guitar, flute and saxophone. His initial influences were American jazz musicians and in 1963 he formed the Climax Jazz Band. He first recorded in 1965 as vocalist for the Hipster Image. Their Decca single Can’t Let Her Go/Make Her Mine was not a 60s hit, yet when Make Her Mine was used to advertise Levi jeans in Japan in 1999, the song became a hit across much of Asia.

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Zola Taylor 4/2007

Zola TaylorApril 30, 2007 – Zola Taylor (The Platters) was born in Los Angeles, California on March 17th 1938. She became the only female member of The Platters from 1954 to 1962, when the group produced most of their popular singles such as “My Prayer”, “Twilight Time”, “Harbor Lights”, “To Each His Own”, “If I Didn’t Care” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”.

Zola Taylor was a member of The Platters until 1962, when she was replaced by singer Barbara Randolph.

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Luther Ingram 3/2007

Luther IngramMarch 19, 2007 – Luther Ingram was born in Jackson, Tennessee on November 30, 1937. Starting out with his brothers as The Gardenias in Alton, Ill., Ingram went on to a solo career with Koko Records, which was distributed by the famous Stax label.

 His early interest in music led to him making his first record in 1965 at the age of 28. His first three recordings failed to chart but that changed when he signed for KoKo Records in the late 1960s, and his first hit “My Honey And Me” peaked at #55 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 14 February 1970. Many of his songs appeared in the pop and R&B charts, even though Koko was only a small label, owned by his manager and record producer, Johnny Baylor. Koko and Baylor were closely associated with the Memphis based Stax Records label during the height of its commercial success.

Continue reading Luther Ingram 3/2007

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Freddy Fender 10/2006

223_freddy_fender_at_the_sea October 14, 2006Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Huerta on June 4th 1937 was the first and biggest pioneer in Tex Mex music, and one of the most important musicians in Tejano Music History. He is documented as The First American Hispanic and Hispanic Rock & Roll Recording Artist In Anglo Latino Musical History.

He actually made himself a guitar at the age of six and at 10 he was singing on local radio stations and winning talent competitions. Then at 16, he joined the Marines for three years. After his discharge, he started playing Texas honky tonks and dance halls. His big break came with Falcon Records in 1957, when he recorded Spanish versions of Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” and Harry Belafonte’s “Jamaica Farewell.”

The recordings both reached No.1 slots in Mexico and South America. He signed with Imperial Records in 1959, renaming himself “Fender” after the brand of his electric guitar, and “Freddy”, well.. because it sounded good with Fender.

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Sam Myers 7/2006

July 17, 2006 – Sam Myers was born on February 19, 1936 in Laurel, Mississippi. He acquired juvenile cataracts at age seven and was left legally blind for the rest of his life despite corrective surgery. He could make out shapes and shadows, but could not read print at all; he was taught Braille. Myers acquired an interest in music while a schoolboy in Jackson, Mississippi and became skilled enough at playing the trumpet and drums that he received a non-degree scholarship from the American Conservatory of Music (formerly named the American Conservatory School of Music) in Chicago.

Myers attended school by day and at night frequented the nightclubs of the South Side, Chicago. There he met and was sitting in with Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Hound Dog Taylor, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Elmore James.

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Shirley Goodman 7/2005

shirley-goodmanJuly 5, 2005 – Shirley Goodman was born on June 19th 1936 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Goodman first developed her piercing vocal style in her Baptist church choir, additionally harmonizing with friends on area street corners. She made her official debut at age nine, appearing in a local amateur revue. When she was 13, Goodman joined with several schoolmates to record the demo “I’m Gone,” produced by Cosimo Matassa — when Matassa played the master for Aladdin Records owner Eddie Messner some months later, the exec pinpointed Goodman’s high-pitched wail and tracked the girl down, offering her a record deal and partnering her with another local teen, Leonard Lee, a longtime family friend whose deep, bluesy voice proved an ideal complement. With Dave Bartholomew installed as producer, Shirley & Lee cut their debut single, “I’m Gone,” opting against traditional harmonies in favor of a contrasting boy-girl duet structure that would prove deeply influential on the development of ska and reggae.

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Obie Benson 7/2005

the four topsJuly 1, 2005 – Obie Benson (the Four Tops) was born on June 14th 1937 in Detroit, Michigan. The Four Tops were products of Detroit’s North End where Benson attended Northern High School with Lawrence Payton. They met Levi Stubbs and Abdul “Duke” Fakir while singing at a friend’s birthday party in 1954 and decided to form a group called the Four Aims. Roquel Billy Davis, who was Payton’s cousin, was a fifth member of the group for a time and a songwriter for the group. Davis played an instrumental role in the group being signed by Chess Records who were mainly interested in Davis’s songwriting ability. The group changed their name to the Four Tops to avoid confusion with the Ames Brothers and had one single “Kiss Me Baby” released through Chess which failed to chart. The Four Tops left Chess although Davis stayed with the company.

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Skip Battin 7/2003

July 6, 2003 – Skip Battin (the Byrds) was born February 18th 1934 in Gallipolis, Ohio.

His early musical career began in 1956 when he collaborated with Gary Paxton, whom he had met while attending college in Tucson, Arizona and they formed the Pledges, the same duo later successfully recording as Skip & Flip, enjoying some success with “It Was I”, and their cover of “Cherry Pie” (both of which reached number 11). After a few years out of the music industry, he led the short-lived folk-rock group Evergreen Blueshoes, starting in 1967. Their one album appeared on the Amos label.

As a journeyman musician, Battin is probably best known for his position as bass guitarist and songwriter with the Byrds from 1970 to 1973. He was—by eight years—the oldest member of the Byrds, with whom he recorded three albums and toured extensively. Many of his songwriting contributions were co-written with longtime collaborator and famous producer/songwriter Kim Fowley.

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Earl King 4/2003

earl kingApril 17, 2003 – Earl King as Earl Silas Johnson IV was born February 7th 1934. His father, a local piano player, died when King was still a baby, and he was brought up by his mother. With his mother, he started going to church at an early age. In his youth he sang gospel music, but took the advice of a friend to switch to blues to make a better living.
He became a self taught New Orleans Blues guitar virtuoso and songwriter as he was the composer of well known standards such as “Come On” (covered by Jimi Hendrix), and Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief”. He started to play guitar at 15. Soon he started entering talent contests at local clubs. It was at one of those clubs where he met his idol Guitar Slim. Earl started imitating Slim, his presence gave a big impact on his musical directions.

In 1954, when Slim was injured in an automobile accident, Earl was deputized to continue Slim’s band tour, representing himself as Slim. After succeeding in this role, he became a regular at the Dew Drop Inn.

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Otis Blackwell 5/2002

otis-blackwellMay 6, 2002 – Otis Blackwell  was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 16, 1931, he learnt the piano as a child and listened on the radio to rhythm and blues (then known as “race” music) and to country music in films starring such singing cowboys as Gene Autry and Tex Ritter. They were the two elements that were eventually to combine in the early 1950s to create the mainstream hybrid that became rock’n’roll.

On leaving school in the late 1940s, he worked first as a floor-sweeper at a New York theatre and then as a clothes-presser in a laundry. In 1952 he won a local talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and secured a recording contract with Joe Davis’s Jay-Dee label. It was at Davis’s suggestion that he began writing his own songs. “I was thrown into it,” he later said.

His first release was his own composition “Daddy Rolling Stone”. It failed to reach the charts but later became a big hit in Jamaica where it was recorded by Derek Martin, and was also covered by The Who in their early “mod” period.

Blackwell made further recordings for RCA Records and the Groove label, which were among the earliest examples of the emerging rock’n’roll style. Yet, with all the time he was developing his songwriting, on Christmas Eve 1955, he sold the demos of six songs he had written for $25 each. They included “Don’t Be Cruel”, which featured him singing over an accompaniment of piano and a cardboard box for a drum.

Over time he realized his first love was songwriting and by that same year had settled into the groove that he would ride for decades as he became one of the greatest R&B songwriters of all time, whose work significantly influenced rock ‘n’ roll. Yet his first big hit as a writer came not with “Don’t Be Cruel” but with the sultry and atmospheric “Fever”. Originally an R&B hit in 1956 for Little Willie John, it became a huge global pop hit for Peggy Lee (who had passed just two months earlier) and has since been covered several hundred times by other artists.

His vocal style was said to have had a strong influence on the young Elvis Presley. He is however remembered best, not as a performer, but as a one-man song-writing factory, who helped to shape 1950s rock’n’roll and whose most memorable compositions included Don’t Be Cruel, All Shook Up, Fever and Great Balls of Fire.

His association with Presley began around the same time, when the singer covered “Don’t Be Cruel”. Originally released as the B-side of Hound Dog, the song had topped the American charts in its own right by September 1956. It simultaneously headed both the R&B and Country charts. Next, Presley recorded Blackwell’s “Paralysed”, which fared less well, although it later reached No 8 in the British charts.

But by April 1957 a version of “All Shook Up”, originally recorded by the little-known David Hill, had not only restored Presley to the top of the charts, but also become the biggest selling single of the year.

The song was written after Blackwell’s publisher, “Goldie” Goldhawk, had shaken up a bottle of Pepsi and said to him: “You can write about anything. Now write about this!”

Blackwell provided Presley with further hit songs, including “Return to Sender” and “One Broken Heart for Sale”. But “All Shook Up” and “Don’t Be Cruel” have remained in the record books as the two songs which stayed at No.1 for longer than any of Presley’s other hits.

There has been considerable speculation over the relationship between Blackwell and Presley, who never met. “We had a great thing going and I just wanted to leave it alone,” Blackwell said in an interview in 1989. Their two names often appeared together on records as co-writers, but in truth Presley’s role as a writer was negligible. It was common practice at the time to sell part or all of the rights of a song and Presley’s astute manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was well aware of the value of the publishing royalties. It has also been said that Presley borrowed many of his vocal mannerisms from Blackwell. Certainly it was the singer’s method at the time to copy wholesale the writer’s demo of a song, arrangement and all. As Presley used Blackwell’s demos to learn the songs, the debt was probably considerable.

A prolific writer, who sometimes used the white-sounding pseudonym John Davenport, Blackwell copyrighted more than a thousand compositions in his career. Among them was Jerry Lee Lewis’s signature tune “Great Balls of Fire”, as well as further hits for Lewis in “Breathless” and “Let’s Talk About Us”. There were more 1950s rock’n’roll hits with “Hey Little Girl” and “Just Keep It Up” by the now almost-forgotten Dee Clark, and Cliff Richard recorded his “Nine Times out of Ten”. Jimmy Jones had a hit in 1960 with Blackwell’s “Handy Man”, which was revived by James Taylor in the 1970s, and Neil Diamond, Billy Joel and Tanya Tucker also recorded his songs. So, too, did Ray Charles and Otis Redding, although Blackwell was disappointed that few black artists ever had hits with his compositions.

He continued writing and performing and enjoyed some success in 1976 with the comeback album “These Are My Songs!” on the Inner City label. He also recorded the tribute The No.1 King of Rock’n’Roll on his own Fever label when Presley died in 1977. In 1991 he was inducted into the National Academy of Popular Music’s Songwriters Hall of Fame. Three years later, Chrissie Hynde, Graham Parker and Deborah Harry were among those contributing cover versions of his songs to the album “Brace Yourself: A Tribute to the Songs of Otis Blackwell”.

Otis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986 and in 1991 into the National Academy of Popular Music’s Songwriters Hall of Fame.

His crowning moment came in the late 1980s when the Black Rock Coalition, an organization of black rock musicians, led by Vernon Reid, the lead guitarist of the band, Living Colour, held a tribute for him at the Prospect Park Bandshell in his native Brooklyn.

Although there were many other generous acknowledgements to his role and influence down the years, his style essentially belonged to an earlier era and he was never to repeat the scale of success he had enjoyed in rock’n’roll’s first decade.

Otis Blackwell died from a heart attack in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 6, 2002 at age 69.

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Albert King 12/1992

Albert KingDecember 21, 1992 – Albert King was born Albert Nelson on April 25th 1923 in Indianola, Mississippi, the same town where B.B. King grew up. However, on his Social Security application in 1942, his birthplace was entered as “Aboden, Miss.,” likely based on his pronunciation of Aberdeen. King, who gave his birth date as April 25, 1923, was raised primarily in Arkansas. As a child, he sang with his family’s gospel group at a church where his father played the guitar. When King was eight, his family moved to Forrest City, Arkansas and he would pick cotton on plantations in the area. Around that same time, King bought his first guitar, paying only $1.25. His first inspiration was T-Bone Walker.

King began working as a professional musician when he joined a group called In the Groove Boys in Osceola, Arkansas, in the late Forties. Continue reading Albert King 12/1992

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Louis Armstrong 7/1971

July 6, 1971 – Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong  was officially born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana, eleven months later than he claimed.

Armstrong often stated that he was born on July 4, 1900, a date that has been noted in many biographies. Although he died in 1971, it was not until the mid-1980s that his true birth date of August 4, 1901 was discovered by researcher Tad Jones through the examination of baptismal records.
Armstrong was born into a poor family in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was the grandson of slaves. He spent his youth in poverty, in a rough neighborhood known as “the Battlefield”, which was part of the Storyville legal prostitution district. His father, William Armstrong (1881–1933), abandoned the family when Louis was an infant and took up with another woman. His mother, Mary “Mayann” Albert (1886–1927), then left Louis and his younger sister, Beatrice Armstrong Collins (1903–1987), in the care of his grandmother, Josephine Armstrong, and at times, his Uncle Isaac. At five, he moved back to live with his mother, her relatives and a parade of “step-fathers”. Continue reading Louis Armstrong 7/1971