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Mitch Margo 11/2017

 

November 24, 2017 – Mitch Margo (The Tokens) was born on May 25, 1947 in New York City. He began singing a cappella at age 9 alongside his brother Phil. 

Young Margo learned to play piano in those early days, but over the years established himself as a multi-instrumentalist, also playing guitar, bass, drums and percussion.

Margo was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn when he and his brother joined the Linc-Tones, also featuring Neal Sedaka, Hank Mendress and original member Tokens founder Jay Siegel, who soon renamed themselves the Tokens and recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while Mitch was just 14 years old. Continue reading Mitch Margo 11/2017

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Hans Vermeulen – 11/2017

November 9, 2017 – Hans Vermeulen (Sandy Coast) was born on September 18, 1947 in Voorburg, the Hague in the Netherlands. He grew up in what was to become the birthplace of Nederpop, which produced bands like Golden earring (Radar Love) and Shocking Blue (Venus), Q 65, Rob Hoeke and many others.

He scored hits like I See Your Face Again , Capital Punishment and my favorite True Love That’s a Wonder with his first group Sandy Coast which he had formed in 1961.

When the first run of late sixties rock and roll ran dry, Sandy Coast disbanded in the early seventies, and did not reform until 1981, with a big comeback hit.
In 1975 Vermeulen founded Rainbow Train, a open door clearing house formation for musicians, in which he sang with his then-wife Dianne Marchal .
In those years he made impact as a much in demand EMI producer for popular Dutch singers like Margriet Eshuijs (Lucifer) and Anita Meyer. For Meyer he wrote in 1976 the number 1 hit The Alternative Way, on which he also sang and for Eshuijs he produced the still today hugely popular “House for Sale” hit. Continue reading Hans Vermeulen – 11/2017

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George Young 10/2017

October 23, 2017 – George Young (with his bandmate and songwriting partner Harry Vanda-right in the picture) – Easybeats was born on November 6, 1946 in Glasgow Schotland. The lower middle class Young family were all musicians, but when the worst winter on record in Schotland arrived in post Christmas into January 1963, the family split as a result of 15 family members taking the opportunity to emigrate to Australia, including almost 16 year old George. Continue reading George Young 10/2017

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Eamonn Campbell 10/2017

October 18, 2017 – Eamonn Campbell was born on November 29, 1946 in Drogheda in County Louth, but later moved to Walkinstown, a suburb of Dublin. He heard Elvis’ That’s All Right for the first time when he was 10; got his first guitar when he was 11 and taught himself how to play it in the next several year. 

He had his first gig at 14 and never really looked back, even though there were early plans to take up accounting. In 1964, he graduated high school with the intention of becoming an accountant. “But his accountant’s brain told him he’d make much more money out of gigging.” So instead he would go on to play for bands such as The Viceroys, The Checkmates and The Delta Boys. He also played locally with the The Bee Vee Five and the Country Gents before joining Dermot O’Brien and the Clubmen and he first met The Dubliners when both acts toured England together in 1967. Over the years that followed he got into production and often sat in with the Dubliners, which had formed in 1962. Continue reading Eamonn Campbell 10/2017

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Ray Phiri 7/2017

July 12, 2017 – Ray Phiri (Paul Simon) was born March 23, 1947 near Nelspruit in the then Eastern Transvaal, now Mpumalanga Province, in South Africa to a Malawian immigrant worker and South African guitarist nicknamed “Just Now” Phiri.  His stepfather, who was from Malawi, played guitar but gave it up after losing three fingers in an accident. Mr. Phiri took that guitar and largely taught himself to play. He moved to Johannesburg in 1967 to work as a musician.

He became a founding member of the Cannibals in the 1970s. When the Cannibals disbanded Ray founded Stimela, Continue reading Ray Phiri 7/2017

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Col. Bruce Hampton 5/2017

May 1, 2018 – Bruce Hampton (born Gustav Valentine Berglund III was born on April 30, 1947 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Hampton first popped onto the music scene in 1967s, fronting the avant garde, Delta blues-influenced Hampton Grease Band in Atlanta Georgia. The band became a staple on the infamous Peachtree Street Strip, which rivaled Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco as a hippie hub. The Grease Band soon became known for its over-the-top performances. A good portion of this came from Hampton himself, who liberally broke rules with boundary-pushing sensibilities years before punk rock and Andy Kaufman. Continue reading Col. Bruce Hampton 5/2017

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Allan Holdsworth 4/2017

April 15, 2017 – Allan Holdsworth was born on August 6, 1946 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. First a saxophone player, he gravitated to the guitar at the age of 17 and caught on quickly. Entirely self-taught, his protean, virtuosic style became a source of amazement even to his more famous peers. He began working professionally as a musician in his early 20s, inspired by the likes of Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Raney, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass and John Coltrane. Continue reading Allan Holdsworth 4/2017

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Robert “P-Nut” Johnson 3/2017

robert p-nut johnson and funkMarch 12, 2017 – Robert “P-Nut” Johnson (Parliament Funkadelic) was born in Baltimore on October 16, 1947.

Prior to joining Bootsy’s Rubber Band and P-Funk, P-Nut played with local bands in the Baltimore area.

P-Nut started on the road with Bootsy’s Rubber Band and in the studio with P-Funk in 1976. Continue reading Robert “P-Nut” Johnson 3/2017

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Lemmy Kilmister 12/2015

lemmy kilmister2015 – “Lemmy” Ian Fraser Kilmister was born on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1945 in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. When Lemmy was three months old, his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain, separated from his mother. His mother and grandmother moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, then to Madeley. When Lemmy was 10, his mother married former footballer George Willis, who already had two older children from a previous marriage, Patricia and Tony, with whom Lemmy did not get along.

The family moved to a farm in Benllech on Anglesey, with Lemmy later commenting on his time there, that “funnily enough, being the only English kid among 700 Welsh ones didn’t make for the happiest time, but it was interesting from an anthropological point of view.” He attended Sir Thomas Jones’ School in Amlwich, where he was nicknamed Lemmy. It was later suggested by some that the name originated from the phrase “lemmy [lend me] a quid till Friday” because of his alleged habit of borrowing money from people to play slot machines, although Lemmy himself claimed that he didn’t know the origin of the name. He soon started to show an interest in rock and roll music, girls and horses.

By the time he left school his family had moved to Conwy, still in northern Wales. There he worked at menial jobs including one in the local Hotpoint electric appliance factory, while also playing guitar for local bands, such as the Sundowners, and spending time at a horse-riding school.

Lemmy saw the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club when he was 16, and then learned to play along on guitar to their first album Please Please Me. He also admired the sarcastic attitude of the group, particularly that of John Lennon.

At the age of 17 he met a holidaying girl called Cathy. He followed her to Stockport, where she eventually had his son Sean, who was put up for adoption. In the 2010 documentary film Lemmy, Lemmy mentions having a son whose mother has only recently “found him” and “hadn’t got the heart to tell him who his father was”, indicating the boy – perhaps Sean – was given up for adoption.

He spread his wings with a band called The Rockin’ Vickers, who released three singles and rocked the Manchester music scene while dressed in clerical gear. Lemmy moved to London in search of fame and fortune, where he had a stint as a roadie with Jimi Hendrix and the Nice and briefly played in progressive rock band Opal Butterfly.

In 1972 he was recruited as bassist for the space-rock band Hawkwind, despite having played only rhythm guitar before. He sang lead on their hit “Silver Machine“. “It sounded like Captain Kirk reading Blowing in the Wind,” Lemmy later recalled. “They tried everybody singing it except me. Then, as a last shot they said, ‘Try Lemmy.’ And I did it in one take or two.”

Lemmy’s tenure with Hawkwind ended abruptly when he was busted for drug possession on a tour of Canada in 1975.
He later claimed that his dismissal was due to ‘pharmaceutical differences’, his preference for amphetamines being in stark contrast to the rest of Hawkwind’s love of more hallucinogenic substances. After his departure from Hawkwind he founded Motörhead as lead singer, bassist, songwriter and frontman. Despite the falling-out, Lemmy had fond memories of his time with the band. “In Hawkwind I became a good bass player,” he told Classic Rock magazine in 2012. “It was where I learned I was good at something.”

Lemmy decided to form his own band, “so that no-one can fire me again“, and adopted the name Bastard, until it was gently pointed out that he would be unlikely to get a gig on Top of the Pops. Instead he changed it to Motorhead, US slang for someone who takes speed and also the title of the last song he had penned for Hawkwind.

From early on he was clear about exactly which musical direction the band would take.
Very basic music – loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speed-freak rock n roll. It will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die”.

The beginnings of the band were not auspicious. Lemmy claimed they were so badly off they had to steal equipment and they practiced in a disused furniture warehouse. They recorded some tracks for the United Artists label but the company thought they were so bad they refused to release them.

In the first of what would be a series of personnel changes, Lemmy fired drummer Lucas Fox and replaced him with Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. He later replaced guitarist Larry Wallis with “Fast” Eddie Clarke, completing what many fans consider to be the definitive Motorhead line up.

By 1977 the band were so disillusioned they agreed to split and put on a farewell show at The Marquee in London.
It became a turning point when a record producer at the gig offered them enough studio time to record a single.
Instead the band laid down 13 tracks that formed their first album, entitled Motorhead, which reached No 43 in the UK charts. It’s probably the only rock album with the word “parallelogram” in the lyrics.
Lemmy’s guttural vocals appealed to the fans and the punk influences in their blistering music tapped into the fast-changing music scene in the UK. Indeed Motorhead collaborated with punk outfit The Damned on a few occasions.

It marked the start of the band’s most successful period, which peaked with the release of their fourth album, Ace of Spades, in 1980. The thunderous title track became the band’s definitive anthem and appearances on Top of the Pops helped it stay in the UK charts for 12 weeks. During the following three decades the band released no fewer than 17 further albums.

Lemmy stuck with the music formula of fast, driving rock that he’d adopted at the band’s inception.
Despite a horde of imitators he also rejected any notion that Motorhead were a metal band, insisting that what they played was pure rock and roll.

Lemmy never made any secret of his drug and alcohol intake, which, while prodigious over the years, never seemed to sap his appetite for recording and playing. In 2005 he was invited to address the Welsh assembly on the perils of drug-taking, and took the opportunity to call for the legalization of heroin to remove the drug dealer from society.

In the same year Motorhead picked up a Grammy for their cover of Metallica’s Whiplash.
“It’s about bloody time,” was Lemmy’s response. “Nobody deserves it more, although I’m too modest to say it.”

Aside from his musical skills, Lemmy was well known for his hard living lifestyle and regular consumption of alcohol and amphetamines. Lemmy was also noted for his collection of Nazi memorabilia and use of Nazi symbolism, although he stated that he did not support Nazi ideals.
One of the band’s last performances was a storming set at Glastonbury.

On a 1988 tour of Finland, Lemmy was asked by one journalist why he had kept going for so long.
“We’re still here,” he replied, “because we should have died a long time ago but we didn’t.”

Lemmy died from cancer on December 28, 2015 at the age of 70.

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Jim McCann 3/2015

Jim McCannMarch 4, 2015 – Jim McCann, Irish guitarist and singer, was born in Dublin on October 26th 1944. He dropped out of University College Dublin where he was studying medicine, when he became interested in folk music during a 1964 summer in Birmingham, UK. He began to perform in folk clubs in the area, and, upon his return to Dublin, he joined a group called the Ludlow Trio in 1965. They had an Irish No.1 hit 1966, with “The Sea Around Us”, but the band broke up the following year.

Jim began a solo career, releasing an album, McCann and making several appearances on several folk programs for Telefis Éireann.

Amongst other pursuits, he spent the next few years involving himself in theatrical productions (starting with Maureen Potter’s “Gaels of Laughter” in 1968), and he toured throughout Ireland and Britain. He released a second album, McCanned, made a television special called Reflections of Jim McCann, and then hosted a series called The McCann Man. It was on The McCann Man that he met fellow folk artist, Luke Kelly of The Dubliners. During this appearance, Kelly did his only televised performance of the Phil Coulter song “Scorn Not His Simplicity”, a song that he chose to perform sparingly out of respect to the subject matter (Coulter’s intellectually disabled son).

McCann subsequently performed alongside Kelly in the original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1973, in the role of Peter. In April 1974 Kelly asked McCann to join The Dubliners temporarily, to replace Ciarán Bourke during a period of illness. However, he became a permanent member soon afterwards, when Ronnie Drew left the group to pursue a solo career. McCann remained with The Dubliners until the end of 1979, during which he toured incessantly, as well as recorded several albums with the group.

Jim released 7 solo albums including From Tara to Here which went gold.

He rejoined the Dubliners in 2002 for their 40th anniversary album, but during the subsequent tour was diagnosed with throat cancer. Although treatment for the illness was successful, the damage to his voice left him unable to sing. However, he still collaborated with the Dubliners by taking the photographs for them, appearing as a compere in their concerts, and sometimes playing the guitar. During the Dubliners’ last concert in December 2012, he performed with them as a guitarist.

McCann’s death from throat cancer was announced by his family on 5 March 2015. He was 70.

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Edgar Froese 1/2015

Edgar FroeseJan 20, 2015 – Edgar Willmar Froese was born in Tilsit, East Prussia, on D-Day 6 June 1944 during the Second World War. Members of his family, including his father, had been killed by the Nazis and his mother and surviving family settled in West Berlin after the war.

He took piano lessons from the age of 12, and started playing guitar at 15. After showing an early aptitude for art, Froese enrolled at the Academy of the Arts in West Berlin to study painting and sculpture. In 1965, he formed a band called The Ones, who played psychedelic rock, and some rock and R&B standards.

While playing in Spain, The Ones were invited to perform at Salvador Dalí’s villa in Cadaqués. Froese’s encounter with Dalí was highly influential, inspiring him to pursue more experimental directions with his music. The Ones disbanded in 1967, having released only one single (“Lady Greengrass” / “Love of Mine”).

He is best known for founding the electronic music group Tangerine Dream. Although his solo and group recordings prior to 2003 name him as “Edgar Froese”, his solo albums from 2003 onward bear the artist name “Edgar W. Froese”.

After returning to Berlin, Froese began recruiting musicians for the Berlin-based band Tangerine Dream, a prolific solo artist, and one of the most influential pioneers of electronic music. That term, however, was one that Froese rejected. “We don’t like what we do to be called ‘electronic music’,” he insisted. “We are people making music, not machines. We are writing songs and compositions and then translate them with synthesizers … but also other instruments.” Initially, the group found themselves trying to emulate the superstars of Anglo-American rock music, such as Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix, before it dawned on Froese that they needed to find a way to express their own background and experiences. “The Germans have no roots in rock music,” he said. “We didn’t have the attitude for rock’n’roll, the blues and so on.”

This philosophy would enable Tangerine Dream to encompass various kinds of classical, avant-garde and minimalist influences within their music as well as heavy rock and ambient atmospheres, and it set Froese and Tangerine Dream apart from other “Krautrock” bands such as Neu! or Kraftwerk, whose so-called “motorik” beats emphasized machine-like repetition. Froese’s versatility and artistic inquisitiveness drove Tangerine Dream to create more than 100 studio albums; his catalogue of more than 20 solo albums included Macula Transfer (1976), Stuntman (1979), Kamikaze 1989) and the four-volume series Ambient Highway (2003).

Froese’s composition “Stuntman” has been used as the opening theme music for “Mabat Sheni” (“Second Look”), an investigative news program from Channel One television in Israel, since the 1980s.

In his personal life Edgar Froese declared himself to be vegetarian, teetotaler, and a non-smoker; he also did not take drugs. Froese was married to artist and photographer Monique Froese from 1974 until her death in 2000. Their son Jerome Froese was a member of Tangerine Dream from 1990 through 2006. Edgar Froese remarried to artist and musician Bianca Acquaye.

he band’s live performances became increasingly rare in recent years, though they played selected European dates in 2007 to mark the group’s 40th anniversary, including one at the Astoria in central London. Their show at the Royal Albert Hall on 1 April 2010 was billed as the Zeitgeist concert, and was captured on a three-CD live album. The Electric Mandarine Tour 2012 took the band to Europe and North America, and they performed in Melbourne, Australia, in November that year.

Froese died suddenly in Vienna on 20 January 2015 from a pulmonary embolism and was posthumously awarded the Schallwelle Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2015.

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Dozy Ward-Davies 1/2015

DozyJanuary 13, 2015 –  Trevor ‘Dozy’ Ward-Davies was born November 27th 1944 in Enford, Wiltshire, England. In the late 1950s, all of 15 years old, he lead a semi professional local rock band called the Beatnicks, before he becoming the founding member of the band, Dave Dee and the Bostons in 1961. They changed their name to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, when they gained a recording contract with Fontana Records.

They first entered the UK charts in December 1965 with You Make it Move. A string of hits followed including Hold Tight!, Bend It! and Save Me and a UK number one single with the whip-cracking Legend of Xanadu, in 1968.

Two of their albums charted – their eponymous debut, in 1966, followed a year later by If Music Be the Food of Love… Then Prepare for Indigestion.

Between 1965 and 1969, the group spent more weeks in the UK Singles Chart (141) than the Beatles (139) and made a few tours to Australia and New Zealand. They scored a No.1 hit in the UK in 1968 with “The Legend of Xanadu”. Their other Top 10 UK hits included “Bend It!”, “Hideaway”, “Hold Tight!”, “Save Me”, “Touch Me, Touch Me”, “Okay!”, “Zabadak!” and “Last Night in Soho”.

The band carried on performing after Dave Dee left in the 1970s, (he died in 2009) under the acronym DBMT. Dozy was bass player of the band for 54 years until his death. It all started off with Dozy before it ever got to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich,” said Ian Amey (Tich).

In 2008, 40 years after Xanadu reached the top of the charts, the band was honored with a blue plaque at Salisbury city hall. He sadly died from cancer on 13 January 2015 at the age of 70.

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Bobby
Keyes
12/2014

bobby keys-1971December 3, 2014 – Bobby Keys was the epitome of the rock & roll sax-playing man. Robert Henry Keys was born at Lubbock army airfield in Hurlwood, Texas on December 18th 1943.  In 1946 his parents moved to New Mexico for a job, while young Bobby stayed with his grandfather in Texas. He took up the saxophone in High School after being injured while playing baseball and it was the only instrument left unclaimed in the school band. His amazing talent did the rest.

Soon after he met Jerry Allison, a local drummer who was working with Buddy Holly in near by Lubbock. Bobby convinced his grandfather to sign his guardianship to the drummer and he joined Jerry’s band, the Crickets and he was then playing behind Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox and other local rockers. By the age of 15, he was touring with pop singer Bobby Vee on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars, alongside such artists as Little Eva and Major Lance. It was while he was playing with Vee when he first met the Rolling Stones at the San Antonio state fair in Texas.

In the late 60s Bobby joined Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour and appears in the subsequent concert film and toured with Delaney & Bonnie in a band that also included Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

He and Keith Richards, who shares the same birthday hit it off immediately, even though their musical collaboration did not solidify until the Stones’ Let It Bleed album when he was summoned to play a solo on Live With Me. He and trumpeter Jim Price also featured on the hit single Honky Tonk Women. In December 1969 he recorded and provided the driving sax in his famous solo on Brown Sugar, and the extended solo on Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, both on the Stones’ 1971 album Sticky Fingers.

He played on Clapton’s first solo album and Harrison’s solo debut, All Things Must Pass and worked steadily with the Stones until his lifestyle got the better of him during their 1973 European tour. Keith Richards remembers: “I remember on our ’73 European tour saying, “Come on Bobby, we’re getting on the plane.” He said, “Damn it Keith, I’m staying here.” He’s got the French whore, a tub full of champagne. “Well Bobs, it might be difficult getting you back in.” And it took me 10 years to get the guy back in the band.

It was a blow for Jagger since Bobby was even best man on his jet set wedding to Nicaraguan Bianca Perez.

He returned to them for 1982’s European shows and was fully restored with the Stones for the Steel Wheels campaign in 1989, an association which this time lasted until his death. As well as his work with the Stones, in 1972 Bobby recorded the instrumental solo album, Bobby Keys, which featured George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton.

He became part of Lennon’s entourage along with Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon during Lennon’s “lost weekend” separation from Yoko and played on Lennon’s albums ‘Some Time in New York City’, ‘Walls and Bridges’, which generated the US chart-topper “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” and the album ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Additionally, he took part in the last known recording session between Paul McCartney and Lennon, ‘A Toot and a Snore’ in ’74.

In the 60s and 70s he also recorded with the likes of Elvis Presley, Dion, Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker, Humble Pie, the Faces, Carly Simon, Nilsson, Marvin Gaye, Lynyrd Skynyrd and B.B. King to mention a few. In 1979 Bobby was part of Ronnie Wood’s band The New Barbarians, which toured the US and he supported Led Zeppelin at the Knebworth festival. Bobby also appeared with Richards’s band X-Pensive Winos on their intermittent appearances in the 80s and 90s. In the late 1980s, Bobby became the musical director for Ronnie Wood’s Miami club, Woody’s On the Beach. The first week the club opened, he booked Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Crickets. More recently he had played regularly with Sheryl Crow and had been fronting his own band, the Suffering Bastards, comprising former members of bands such as the Black Crowes and the Georgia Satellites.

In 2012 he published his autobiography, Every Night’s a Saturday Night. On June 29th 2013 he played with the Rolling Stones at their Glastonbury Festival debut, but 2014 marked Bobby’s last performance with the Stones at the Roskilde festival in Denmark in July, as part of the 14 On Fire tour. Sadly Bobby had to drop out of the tour’s Australia and New Zealand dates for health reasons. A touring, hard living musician from the mid-late 50s until his death, Bobby Keys, the saxophonist on 100s of albums for many rock’n’roll greats including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Lennon has sadly died at his home in Franklin, Tennessee, from cirrhosis of the liver on Dec. 3, 2014; He was 70 years old. Bobby is survived by his wife Holly, son Jesse and daughter Amber.

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Johnny Winter 7/2014

winter-624-1405612028July 16, 2014 – Legendary blues musician Johnny Winter died in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 16th, 2014 at age 70. There are plenty of reasons why that’s notable — Winter was one of the first blues rock guitar virtuosos, releasing a string of popular and fiery albums in the late Sixties and early Seventies, becoming an arena-level concert draw in the process — but it’s the barest facts that remain the most inspiring.

Johnny Dawson Winter, who was born on February  23rd, 1944 in little Beaumont, Texas, afflicted with albinism and 20/400 eyesight in one eye and 20/600 in the other, made an iconic life for himself by playing the blues.

Continue reading Johnny Winter 7/2014

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Bobby
Womack
6/2014

Bobby Womack 70June 27, 2014 – Robert Dwayne Bobby Womack was born on March 4, 1944 into the songwriting and performing Womack family in Cleveland, Ohio’s Fairfax neighborhood.

Since the early 1960s, when he started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos and as Sam Cooke’s backing guitarist, Womack’s career spanned more than 60 years, during which he played in the styles of R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, gospel, and country.

His mother played the organ for the church choir, and their father was a steelworker, part-time minister, musician who played the guitar and also sang gospel. His father would advise his sons to not touch his guitar while he was away. One night, eight-year-old Bobby, who was often playing it, broke a guitar string. After Friendly replaced the string with a shoelace, he let Bobby play the guitar for him. According to Bobby, Friendly was stunned by his son’s talents as well as the talents of his other sons. Soon afterwards, he bought Bobby his own guitar.

Sam Cooke, the lead singer of The Soul Stirrers, first saw the Womack Brothers performing in the mid-1950s. He became their mentor and helped them go on tour. They went on national tours with The Staple Singers. Even though Curtis Womack often sang lead, Bobby Womack was allowed to sing alongside him showcasing his gruff baritone vocals in contrast to his older brother’s smoother tenor. During performances, Bobby would sometimes imitate the role of a preacher, which later became his nickname. At just 16, Bobby dropped out of high school.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Cooke formed SAR Records and signed the quintet to the label in 1961, where they released a handful of gospel singles. Then, Cooke changed their name to The Valentinos, relocated them to Los Angeles and convinced them to transition from gospel music to secular soul- and pop-influenced sound. Cooke produced and arranged the group’s first hit single, “Lookin’ for a Love”, which was a pop version of the gospel song, “Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray”, they had recorded earlier. The song became an R&B hit and helped land the group an opening spot for James Brown’s tour. The group’s next hit came in 1964 with the country-tinged “It’s All Over Now”, co-composed by Bobby. Their version was rising on the charts when The Rolling Stones covered it. Actually nine days after hearing the song for the first time during a radio interview, Mick and the Boys quickly interrupted their US tour for a recording session at Chess Studio in Chicago; that’s how eager they were to add this song to their historic repertoire climbing to the top of Rock and Roll.

Womack was also a member of Cooke’s band, touring and recording with him from 1961. The Valentinos’ career was left shaky after Sam Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel. Devastated by the news, the brothers disbanded and SAR Records folded. Womack continued to work as a session musician. Between 1965 and 1968 he toured and recorded with Ray Charles.

Bobby Womack was closely related to Sam Cooke’s life and music, so much that 3 months after Cooke got killed in a mysterious Motel altercation in Los Angeles, Womack married his wife Barbara and his brother Cecil later married Cooke’s daughter Linda.

Womack became a prolific songwriter who further wrote  New Birth’s “I Can Understand It”. As a singer he is most notable for the hits “Lookin’ For a Love”, “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha”, “Woman’s Gotta Have It”, “Harry Hippie”, “Across 110th Street”, and his 1980s hits “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” and “I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much”.

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s other artists would regularly record his songs. They included Ella Washington and Baby Washington who recorded ‘I Can’t Afford To Lose Him’ in 1968, Jerry Butler who released ‘Yes My Goodness Yes’ in 1968, Margie Joseph who issued ‘What You Gonna Do’ and Roosevelt Grier who had an R&B success with ‘People Make The World’. One of his most famous songs ‘Trust Me’ was recorded by Janis Joplin and later by Winfield Parker amongst others. The 1960s and 1970’s were especially profitable years for Womack’s songwriting, either solo efforts or in partnership with the likes of Darryl Carter and Jim Ford. Whilst working as a session musician with Wilson Pickett he regularly contributed songs included the original version of ‘I’m In Love’, later covered by Aretha Franklin. Another Atlantic Records artist Percy Sledge issued ‘Baby Help Me’ in 1967. The J. Geils Band covered “Lookin’ For A Love”, released on several albums, including the live gem “Blow Your Face Out”.

In the following decade Millie Jackson with ‘Put Something Down On It’ , Kokomo and New Birth with ‘I Can Understand It’, Ronnie Wood with ‘I Got A Feeling’ and George Benson with the instrumental ‘Breezin’ recorded versions of Womack songs. Lou Donaldson, the American jazz saxophonist reinterpreted ‘You’re Welcome To Stop On By’ in 1974. The British singer Rod Stewart used the distinctive string arrangement from ‘Put Something Down On It’ for his massive hit ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’. Other significant artists to record Bobby Womack songs include: Georgie Fame and Kelly Rowland with ‘Daylight’, O V Wright’s cover of ‘That’s The Way I Feel About You’ and reggae acts Dennis Alcapone who issued a distinctive version of ‘Harry Hippy’ entitled ‘Sorry Harry’ and Triston Palma who issued ‘Love Has Finally Come At Last’ in 1984.

Jodeci’s K-Ci Hailey, a notable admirer of Womack’s work, covered “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” in 1994. Hailey again covered Womack in 2006 with his rendition of “A Woman’s Gotta Have It”. The song is referenced in Mariah Carey’s song “We Belong Together”, a number one hit in June 2005. Carey sings “I can’t sleep at night / When you are on my mind / Bobby Womack’s on the radio / Singing to me: ‘If you think you’re lonely now.'” In 2007, R&B singer Jaheim interpolated the song as “Lonely” on his album “The Making of a Man”. Neo Soul Singer, Calvin Richardson also covered many of Womack’s tunes. “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha” was covered by the late R&B musician Gerald Levert and fellow singer Mary J. Blige on Levert’s 1998 album Love & Consequences.

Film director Quentin Tarantino used “Across 110th Street” (which, in a different version, had been the title song of the 1972 movie) in the opening and closing sequences of his 1997 film Jackie Brown. His work has been used in several other popular films, including Meet the Parents (2000), Ali (2001) and American Gangster (2007). A 2003 Saab commercial used Womack’s interpretation of “California Dreamin'”. In 2005, “Across 110th Street” appeared in the hit Activision video game True Crime: New York City.

On the 1994 release 1-800-NEW-FUNK, Nona Gaye covered “Woman’s Gotta Have It”, produced by Prince and backed by his band, New Power Generation.

During the spring of 1997, R&B singer Rome covered the original song from his self-titled debut album.

In 2008, Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child recorded her own version of his R&B hit “Daylight” with Travis McCoy of the Gym Class Heroes, which became a hit in the UK Singles Chart, where it was previously released as a single by Womack in 1976.

In 2009, Calvin Richardson was chosen to record a tribute album to Womack to coincide with Womack’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Grammy-nominated album was entitled Facts of Life: The Soul of Bobby Womack. It reached No. 30 on the US R&B chart.

Bobby Womack, singer/songwriter and guitarist, who was a session musician for Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Dusty Springfield and Wilson Pickett, to name just a few left a rich musical legacy spanning seven decades and 28 studio albums.

He passed on June 7, 2014 and although the exact cause of the 70-year-old’s death was not announced, he had suffered from cancer and Alzheimer’s and had battled drug addiction. Womack’s life was blighted by drugs, and he slipped off the radar for years at a time. Despite this – and pneumonia, diabetes, two forms of cancer and the early stages of Alzheimer’s – Womack outlived most of the artists he was associated with, including Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. He said towards the end of his career: “Maybe if I wasn’t high, my life might not have lasted so long.”

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Cees
Veerman
3/2014

Cees VeermanMarch 15, 2014 – Cees Veerman (the Cats) was born on October 6th 1943 in the Dutch town of Volendam, near Amsterdam. He initially played in the bands Electric Johnny & The Skyriders, Sputniks, Mystic Four and The Blue Cats, prior to becoming one of the founders The Cats.

From the late 60s to the mid 70s, The Cats of which Cees was frontman and main song writer too, the band saw a large number of successes, including Sure He’s a Cat and Lea (1968), Why (1969), Marian (1970), Where Have I Been Wrong (1970) and Be My Day (1974). Their best-selling single was One Way Wind from 1972, which reached No.3 in the Top 40.

The Cats are considered the founders of the Palingsound (Eel Sound), a category that is used to indicate a classic, typical Dutch style in pop music coming from the fishing village Volendam.

In 1976 Cees released a solo album called “Another Side Of Me”, which spawned the hit single “Sailor, Sail On (Dreamer, Dream On)”.

The Cats disbanded in 1979. On March 23rd 2006, The Cats were made Members of the Order of Orange-Nassau,the same year they made a reunion to record a single for inclusion on a Best Of-album which went gold. Cees performed also with the Cats Aglow Band as support act of Willy De Ville’s Amsterdam Carré show on July 7th 2000.

Cees Veerman died on March 15, 2014 at age 70 in Yogjakarta, Indonesia.

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Jay
Traynor
1/2014

Jay and the AmericansJanuary 2, 2014 – John “Jay” Traynor was born on March 30th 1943 in Brooklyn New York. He was a lead vocalist of the Mystics, singing falsetto on “The White Cliffs of Dover” and lead on “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Blue Star”.

The foundation of what would become Jay and the Americans was laid in 1959, when two teenagers named Kenny Vance and Sandy Deane formed a doo-wop style group called “The Harbourlites“. After a couple of failed recordings, Sandy began looking for a stronger lead singer. As fate would have it, John “Jay” Traynor, a stand-in singer with a group called “The Mystics” was looking for another band and since the two groups shared Jim Gribble as manager, the three got together, adding a fourth member, Howie Kane.

The four were teamed up with songwriters Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber, who had a great track record with The Drifters, The Coasters, and Ben E. King. United Artists had just finished the movie version of West Side Story and offered the boys heavy promotion if they recorded a song from the soundtrack called “Tonight”. Under the name “Jay and the Americans”, Tonight sold 50,000 copies, but was far overshadowed by an instrumental version by Ferrante and Teicher.

He sang lead on their first hit, “She Cried,” which reached #5 in 1962 and was followed up by the LP, She Cried. In 1964 he went solo when additional hits failed to materialize. releasing “I Rise, I Fall” followed by “Up & Over”, which became a big hit with the UK “Northern Soul” underground dance clubs and also worked at an upstate New York TV station, and behind-the-scenes in the music industry.

After Traynor left Jay and the Americans, he was replaced by David Black, who adopted the name Jay Black. The group went on to score mega hits like “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “Cara Mia” and “This Magic Moment.”

In the late 1960s he worked for Woodstock Ventures, the company that put on the “Woodstock” festival, during which time he picked up behind the scenes working with such 1970s acts as Mountain, West, Bruce & Laing, The Who, Ten Years After, Yes, and gospel singer Mylon LeFevre.

In 1977, Traynor moved to Albany, New York, near his roots in Greenville and worked at WNYT-TV as a studio camera operator. He then performed with cover bands (George and “Friends”), jazz trios, and finally as the singer with the Joey Thomas Big Band, where his love for Frank Sinatra’s music began. The Big Band put out a few CDs with Traynor, including Live On WAMC & The Sinatra Show.

In 2006, Traynor received a call from Jay Siegel, and he toured with Jay Siegel’s Tokens, best known for their hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” for the remainder of his life. He also sang sing with the Joey Thomas Big Band and recorded a few CDs including Live On WAMC & The Sinatra Show.

Jay died after a two year fight with liver cancer on Jan 2, 2014 at the age of 70.

“He was a pro…he was very versatile in his vocal style, from rock and roll to Frank Sinatra,” Siegel told ABC News Radio. “His demeanor and his look were a perfect fit for my group…he just did a great job onstage and more than that, he did a great job offstage.  He was a true gentleman, a very humble guy and I considered him like my brother.  He was a great talent and a good friend.”  

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Richard
Street
2/2013

richard streetFebruary 27, 2013 – Richard Street (The Temptations) was born on October 5, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan.

Born and raised  in Motown, he was the first member of the Temptations to actually be a native of the city which served as Motown’s namesake and hometown; all of the previous members were born and at least partially raised in the southern United States. He was a member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1993.

Street was the lead singer of an early Temptations predecessor, Otis Williams & the Distants, and takes the spotlight on their local hit “Come On”. The Distants also included future Temptations Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Elbridge “Al” Bryant, who left The Distants and their record deal with Johnnie Mae Matthews’ Northern Records to form The Elgins (later The Temptations) with Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. After their departure, Matthews had Street briefly lead a new Distants group in the early 1960s.

During the mid-1960s, Street performed with a Motown act called The Monitors, who had only one minor hit, 1966’s “Greetings (This is Uncle Sam)”, to its name. They also had a big hit in 1965 called “Say You” which the Temptations included on one of their albums.

Street knew the Temptations and Otis Williams, in particular, having worked for Motown in quality control and through his vocal work with the Distants and the Monitors. By the late-1960s, Street was being called upon to travel with The Temptations and sing Paul Williams’ parts from off-stage, while Paul Williams, who suffered from both alcoholism and sickle-cell disease, danced and lip-synched onstage. Street officially replaced Paul Williams in mid-1971, after both Williams and Eddie Kendricks left the group.

A number of the Temptations’ best-selling hits feature Street’s lead vocals, including “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)” (1971), “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (1972), “Masterpiece” (1973), and was featured solo on “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” (1973) as well as the album cuts “The First Time I Saw Your Face” and “Firefly” from the All Directions (1972) and A Song for You albums (1975), respectively. Street and Damon Harris traded leads on “1990”s tune “Heavenly.” He and old Distants bandmates Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin endured a number of lineup changes over the two decades Street was a Temptation, during which time Dennis Edwards, Ricky Owens, Damon Harris, Glenn Leonard, Louis Price, Ron Tyson, and Ali-Ollie Woodson all served as members of the group at various times

Richard died of a pulmonary embolism at age 70 on February 27, 2013.

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Lee
Dorman
12/2012

Lee Dorman - Iron ButterflyDecember 21, 2012 – Douglas Lee Dorman was born in St. Louis on September 15, 1942 and moved to San Diego, CA in the mid 1960s.He began playing bass guitar in his teens, he became best known as a member of the psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly in the second part of the 1960s.

The band formed in 1966 in San Diego, California and signed its first record contract with Atco, a division of Atlantic Records, in 1967, according to the band’s Web site and in early 1968, their debut album Heavy was released. They were represented by the William Morris Agency who booked all their live concerts. The original members were Doug Ingle (vocals, organ), Jack Pinney (drums), Greg Willis (bass), and Danny Weis (guitar). They were soon joined by tambourine player and vocalist Darryl DeLoach. DeLoach’s parents’ garage on Luna Avenue served as the site for their almost nightly rehearsals.

Jerry Penrod and Bruce Morse replaced Willis and Pinney after the band relocated to Los Angeles in 1966 and Ron Bushy then came aboard when Morse left due to a critical family tragedy. All but Ingle and Bushy left the band after recording their first album in late 1967; the remaining musicians, faced with the possibility of the record not being released, quickly found replacements in bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Erik Brann (also known as “Erik Braunn” and “Erik Braun”) RIP 2003, and resumed touring and then recording the monster album In-a-Gadda-da-Vida.

In terms of sound, the group took inspiration from a variety of sources outside of the rock arena, such as the bongo playing of Preston Epps and the rhythm and blues music of Booker T and the MGs. Around this time, the band notably ran into Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page, who later stated that he used the group as partial inspiration for the name “Led Zeppelin”. In 1969, Led Zeppelin opened for Iron Butterfly at Fillmore East in New York, a fact Dorman was fond of noting.

A commonly related story says that In-a-Gadda-da-Vida was originally “In the Garden of Eden”, but at one point in the course of rehearsing and recording, singer Doug Ingle got drunk and slurred the words, creating the phonetic mondegreen that stuck as the title. However, the liner notes on ‘the best of’ CD compilation state that drummer Ron Bushy was listening to the track through headphones, and could not clearly distinguish what Ingle said when he asked him for the song’s title. An alternative explanation given in the liner notes of the 1995 re-release of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, is that Ingle was drunk, high, or both, when he first told Bushy the title, and Bushy wrote it down. Bushy then showed Ingle what he had written, and the slurred title stuck.

“In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” stayed on the national sales charts for two years and became a Top 40 radio hit and the album over time sold more than 30 million copies. The track has been featured in a number of films and television shows, including an episode of “The Simpsons.”

Dorman was an intricate part of the success of that song as he played bass in a style as if it was an equal instrument with the others which many considered an early example of moving from psychedelic rock to heavy metal.

When keyboardist Ingle left the band, due to the grueling tour schedules, Dorman founded another band, called Captain Beyond, in the 1970s. Captain Beyond was a rock group formed in Los Angeles in 1972 by ex-members of other prominent groups. Singer Rod Evans had been with Deep Purple; drummer Bobby Caldwell had worked with Johnny Winter; and guitarist Larry Rheinhart and Lee Dorman came from Iron Butterfly after they broke up. This lineup made their self-titled debut album for the Southern rock label Capricorn in 1972, after which Caldwell was replaced by Marty Rodriguez for their second album, Sufficiently Breathless(1973). Captain Beyond became inactive following the departure of Evans, but was reorganized in 1976. Caldwell returned, and drummer Willy Daffern was added as vocalist for Captain Beyond’s third album, Dawn Explosion (1977), recorded for Warner Bros. Dawn Explosion was Captain Beyond’s final effort.

From 1978 on Dorman continued touring with Iron Butterfly, during the many personnel changes, until he got too sick to do so in the early fall of 2012.

The last keyboard/singer of the band, German born Martin Gerschwitz, who had known Lee Dorman for seven years since he joined the band in 2005, said Mr. Dorman did not have any immediate surviving relatives at the time of his death.
He had suffered from heart problems for some time, a fact that ended his performing career in 2012.

Dorman was reportedly on a heart transplant list when he was found dead in his car, reportedly on his was to a doctor’s appointment, outside his home in Laguna Niguel, California, on December 21, 2012. He was 70 years old.

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Dennis
St.John
6/2012

dennis-st-johnJune 5, 2012 – Dennis St. John (Neil Diamond’s drummer and musical director) was born on November 9, 1941 in Beatrice, Nebraska, to Jeanne and Colonel Ralph St. John.

In 1947 my mother and I were amongst the first American military dependant families to live in Germany. The German prisoners of war at my father’s depot had a great Dixieland band. Every Friday I got to sit and listen to this band in the warehouse, before they had to report back to the stockade. It was my first experience with live music and has stayed with me ever since. When we returned from Germany in 1950, we moved to Chicago, and that’s where I heard my first Fender electric bass, which helped nudge me closer to music. After a couple more moves, and high-school bands in Olympia, Washington and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I graduated in 1959. I immediately put on my Princeton t-shirt, and took my fake ID to the world famous Somers Point, New Jersey traffic circle, home of Bayshores, Tony Mart’s, and Steele’s Bar. I’d spend day after day, night after night listening to the legendary Jimmy Cavallo & the House Rockers. That’s when I decided I’d like to be a drummer.

He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

A gifted percussionist, he began his career in music after forming a band in college (St.John and the Cardinals) part of which became the root for the Atlanta Rhythm Section. After college he relocated to Los Angeles, where he went on to play on over fifty gold and platinum albums with top artists of the sixties and seventies.

His name may not be instantly recognizable, but during the height of his career in the sixties and seventies, Dennis toured and recorded with several top artists, drumming on sixteen top-10 records and over fifty Gold and Platinum albums. If you’ve ever heard the Bellamy Brothers’ “Let Your Love Flow” or “Spooky” or “Spiders & Snakes” or Linda Ronstadt’s “Desperado” or Neil Diamond’s “Forever In Blue Jeans” or “America”, then you’ve heard just a small sampling of the hundreds of recordings featuring his playing.

Dennis crossed paths with an impressive number of artists such as James Brown, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, Roy Orbison, Ronnie Milsap, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace, Little Richard, Rufus Thomas, Tommy Roe, The Standells, Otis Redding, and Paul Revere and the Raiders. But he’s best known as Neil Diamond’s drummer and musical director from 1971-81. Several herniated discs forced him to quit active touring in the early 1980s and he formed a talent development company, guiding many future performers to stardom in the years after.

He described the most memorable event of his career as the 10 days of recording Hot August Night in 1972 (at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles) saying “it was by far the most energetic, creative, and satisfying gig I’ve ever played.”

This link to a Classic Drummer Interview with Dennis gives a great insight into Rock and Roll in the early days.

Dennis died from complications of esophageal cancer on June 5, 2012 at the age of 70.

Taking to Twitter to pay his respects, Neil Diamond wrote, “Lost my old friend Dennis St. John. His drumming graces my recordings from Hot August Night to The Jazz Singer – I’ll miss him big time.”

Entry on his obituary: “I knew Dennis. He used to come to the bar I worked at for many years when he came to visit his mother. My husband always referred to him as the guy with the pony tail. He was a true gentleman and always took time to talk to me even though I was just a bartender there. I often introduced him to people, but they always seemed to fail to understand what impact he had in the music business. I have not worked for around 4 years and was so sad to hear that he had lost his battle with cancer. He always took such good care of his mother and felt bad if he didn’t feel she was being taken care of correctly. Everyone was so happy to see him when he visited. There just aren’t enough words to do this man justice.”

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Lolly Vegas 3/2010

Lolly VegasMarch 4, 2010 – Candido Lolly Vegas (Redbone) was born Lolly Vasquez in Coalinga, California on October 2, 1939. He grew up in Fresno. He and his brother Pat, a singer and bassist, were session musicians who performed together as Pat and Lolly Vegas in the 1960s at Sunset Strip clubs and on the TV variety show “Shindig!”

Patrick and Lolly Vasquez – Vegas were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage. but began by performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers, “because their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexican musicians playing surfing music”. First as the Vegas Brothers (Pat and Lolly Vegas), then later as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band, they performed throughout the 1960s.

They formed the Native American band Redbone in 1969, Redbone being a Cajun word for ‘half-breed’. The band, with members of Latino and native American origin, released its self-titled debut album the following year. The band first gained notice with “Maggie” in 1970 and broke international barriers with “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” in 1971.

Continue reading Lolly Vegas 3/2010

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Nina Simone 4/2003

Nina SimoneApril 21, 2003 – Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933 in South Carolina. The sixth child of a preacher mom, she wanted to become a concert pianist. She began playing piano at age three.

Her concert debut, a classical recital, was given when she was 12. Simone later said that during this performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. She said that she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front, and that the incident strongly contributed to her later involvement in the civil rights movement. Continue reading Nina Simone 4/2003

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Screaming Jay Hawkins 2/2000

Sreaming Jay HawkinsFebruary 12, 2000 – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (I Put a Spell on You) was born July 18th 1929 in Cleveland Ohio. Hawkins studied classical piano as a child and learned guitar in his twenties. His initial goal was to become an opera singer (Hawkins has cited Paul Robeson as his musical idol in interviews), but when his initial ambitions failed he began his career as a conventional blues singer and pianist.
Hawkins was also an avid and formidable boxer. In 1949, he was the middleweight boxing champion of Alaska. In 1951, he joined guitarist Tiny Grimes’s band, and was subsequently featured on some of Grimes’s recordings. When Hawkins became a solo performer, he often performed in a stylish wardrobe of leopard skins, red leather and wild hats.

As a singer, songwriter and actor he was famed chiefly for his powerful, operatic vocal delivery, and wildly theatrical performances of songs such as “I Put a Spell on You”. He sometimes used macabre props onstage, making him an early pioneer of shock rock.

Continue reading Screaming Jay Hawkins 2/2000