Peter Tork (The Monkees) was born Peter Halsten Thorkelson on February 13, 1942 in Washington DC. His father John taught economics at the University of Connecticut. He began studying piano at the age of nine, showing an aptitude for music by learning to play several different instruments, including the banjo, French horn and both acoustic bass and guitars. Tork attended Windham High School in Willimantic, Connecticut, and was a member of the first graduating class at E. O. Smith High School in Storrs, Connecticut. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota but, after flunking out, moved to New York City, where he became part of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village and with his guitar and five-string banjo he began playing small folk clubs. He billed himself as Tork, a nickname handed down by his father, and reportedly played with members of the soon-to-be formed band Lovin’ Spoonful (Summer in the City). While there, he befriended other up-and-coming musicians such as Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills Nash and Young).When Tork “failed to break open the folk circuit,” as he later phrased it, he moved to Long Beach, California in mid-1965. Later that summer, he fielded two calls from his friend Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), who had auditioned with more than 400 others for the Monkees. Stills urged Tork to try out. “They told Steve, ‘Your hair and teeth aren’t photogenic, but do you know anyone who looks like you that can sing?’ And Steve told them about me,” Tork told the Washington Post in 1983.
September 17, 2017 – Laudir de Oliveira was born January 6, 1940 in Rio de Janeiro. de Oliveira started out as a percussionist in Brazil, working with Sergio Mendes and Marcos Valle. He moved to the United States in 1968 and caught the eye of rock musicians and producers. Credited simply as “Laudir”, he also appeared on Joe Cocker’s 1969 debut album, playing on his hit single “Feelin’ Alright”.
In 1973, Chicago invited de Oliveira to play on their album “Chicago VI.” After playing on the albums Chicago VI and Chicago VII as a sideman, de Oliveira officially joined the band in 1975. Continue reading Laudir de Oliveira 9/2017
September 5, 2017 – Holger Czukay was born on March 24, 1938 in the Free City of Danzig (since 1945 Gdańsk, Poland), from which his family was expelled after World War II. Due to the turmoil of the war, Czukay’s primary education was limited. One pivotal early experience, however, was working, when still a teenager, at a radio repair-shop, where he became fond of the aural qualities of radio broadcasts (anticipating his use of shortwave radio broadcasts as musical elements) and became familiar with the rudiments of electrical repair and engineering.
Czukay studied music under Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1963 to 1966 and then worked for a while as a music teacher. Initially Czukay had little interest in rock music, but this changed, when a student played him the Beatles’ 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”, a 1967 psychedelic rock single with an unusual musical structure and blasts of AM radio noise. This opened his ears to music by rock experimentalists such as The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa. Continue reading Holger Czukay 9/2017
September 1, 2017 – Mick Softley was born in 1939 in the countryside of Essex, near Epping Forest.
His mother was of Irish origin (from County Cork) and his father had East Anglian tinker roots, going back to a few generations. Softley first took up trombone in school and became interested in traditional jazz. He was later persuaded to become a singer by one of his school teachers, and this led to him listening to Big Bill Broonzy and promptly changed his attitude to music, to the extent of him buying a mail-order guitar and some tutorial books and teaching himself to play.
By 1959, Mick Softley had left his job and home and spent time traveling around Europe on his motorbike, with a friend, Mick Rippingale. He ended up in Paris, where he came into the company of musicians such as Clive Palmer, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Wizz Jones. Here he improved his guitar skills and spent time busking with friends until his return to England in the early 1960s. Continue reading Mick Softley 9/2017
May 3, 2017 – Casey Jones (Albert Collins/Johnny Winter) was born July 26, 1939 in Nitta Yuma, Mississippi and raised in Greenville. As a kid he played with the Coleman High School band, but claimed he learned more about drumming from Little Milton’s drummer Lonnie Haynes, than from the band director
In 1956 at age 17, his sister Atlean and her husband Otis Luke enticed him with the promise of a drum kit and entry into the musician’s union, if he would move to Chicago to live with them. True to his word, they went to Frank’s Drum Shop on Wabash Ave and from there on Casey Jones played drums in Otis’s band. His first gig with Otis Luke & the Rhythm Bombers in 1956 made him $5. Continue reading Casey Jones 5/2017
November 10, 2015 – Allen Toussaint was born January 14, 1938 in New Orleans.
Allen Toussaint has crossed many paths in his illustrious 40 years plus career in music. He has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by, and performed with music giants The Judds, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle, Mac “Dr. John” Rebannac, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, The (original) Meters, Glen Campbell, The Band, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones, Devo, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Eric Gale and the countless others.
December 18, 2014 – Lawrence Joel – Larry Henley was born on June 30, 1937 in Arp, Texas. He grew up in Odessa, Texas. Little is known about his early years other than that he had originally planned on an acting career before becoming a singer and songwriter. He met the Mathis brothers Dean and Mark when he auditioned for their band the Newbeats in 1962 in Shreveport Louisiana, singing in a distinctive falsetto that would bring them their first and only global hit song “Bread and Butter” in 1964 when it charted in the top 20 of Billboard magazine, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard charts and selling over a million copies. Subsequently they toured Australia and New Zealand with Roy Orbison, Ray Columbus and the Invaders and the Rolling Stones on the “Big Beat ’65” tour. There were some lesser known hits such as “Run Baby Run”, but the group never reached the Bread and Butter popularity again.
March 13, 2015 – Daevid Allen, was born Christopher David Allen on 13 January 1938 in Melbourne, Australia.
In 1960, inspired by the Beat Generation writers he had discovered while working in a Melbourne bookshop, Allen traveled to Paris, where he stayed at the Beat Hotel, moving into a room recently vacated by Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. While selling the International Herald Tribune around Le Chat Qui Pêche and the Latin Quarter, he met Terry Riley and also gained free access to the jazz clubs in the area.
In 1961 Allen traveled to England and rented a room at Lydden, near Dover, where he soon began to look for work as a musician. He first replied to a newspaper advertisement for a guitar player to join Dover-based group the Rolling Stones (no connection with the later famous band of that name) who had lost singer/guitarist Neil Landon, but did not join them. After meeting up with William S. Burroughs, and inspired by philosophies of Sun Ra, he formed free jazz outfit the Daevid Allen Trio (‘Daevid’ having been adopted as an affectation of David), which included his landlord’s son, 16-year-old Robert Wyatt. They performed at Burroughs’ theatre pieces based on the novel The Ticket That Exploded.
January 19, 2013 – Steve Knight was born on May 12, 1935 in New York to artist parents. From 1938–1950 his family lived in Woodstock, New York. In 1950, his father became a professor at Columbia University and moved the family to New York City. In 1952, Knight graduated from high school and enrolled at Columbia later that year. He stayed at Columbia for most of the 1950s (1952–1959) studying art, music and psychology. He earned a B.S. degree majoring in psychology, and had one year of graduate work in psychology.
From 1959 to 1968, Steve Knight recorded with or was a member of various bands including The Feenjon Group, The Peacemakers, Devil’s Anvil and Wings (obviously not Paul McCartney’s group). In 1969, producer/vocalist/bassist Felix Pappalardi organized the heavy rock band Mountain. The initial line-up included Leslie West (guitar/vocals) and N.D. Smart (drums).
Even though he became the keyboardist, Knight was really a multi-instrumentalist, mastering both string and wind instruments. Prior to release of Mountain’s debut album, Climbing!, Pappalardi, who had known Knight from prior musical affiliations, added him to the line-up on keyboards. Corky Laing replaced Smart on drums. The band enjoyed a great deal of recording and touring success in the early 1970s including 3 gold albums, but called it quits in 1972. He performed at the infamous Woodstock Festival.
April 22, 2003 – Felice Bryant was born Matilda Genevieve Scaduto on August 7, 1925. One half of the wife and husband country/pop music songwriting team who were also at the forefront of the evolution of pop music.
With her husband, Boudleaux, the two wrote numerous Everly Brothers’ hits including the autobiographical “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “Bye Bye Love”. Their prolific and quality compositions would produce hit records for many stars from a variety of musical genres including Tony Bennett, Bob Moore, Simon and Garfunkel, Sonny James, Eddy Arnold, Charley Pride, Nazareth, Jim Reeves, Leo Sayer, Sarah Vaughan, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, the Grateful Dead, Elvis Costello, Count Basie, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan among many others. They formed one of the most potent songwriting teams in country pop history.
June 30, 2001 – Chester Burton “Chet” Atkins was born on June 20th 1924 in Luttrell, Tennessee, near Clinch Mountain. Even though by many considered instrumental in bringing Country music mainstream with the Nashville Sound, Chet’s guitar virtuosity (he also played the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and ukulele) was recognized with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which makes him eligible in this website’s line-up.
His parents divorced when he was six, after which he was raised by his mother. He was the youngest of three boys and a girl. He started out on the ukulele, later moving on to the fiddle, but traded his brother Lowell an old pistol and some chores for a guitar when he was nine. He stated in his 1974 autobiography, “We were so poor and everybody around us was so poor that it was the forties before anyone even knew there had been a depression.” Continue reading Chet Atkins 6/2001