November 21, 2017 – Wayne Cochran (The CC Riders) was born Talvin Wayne Cochran near Macon, Georgia, and grew up in roughly the same environs his idol James Brown and friend Otis Redding had, be it on the other side of the tracks.
After getting his start with various rock’n’roll outfits, in 1959 Cochran cut his first disc and the next five years would witness a succession of releases, most of which only made regional noise at best. One item however, would ultimately become Cochran’s greatest success, though in someone else’s hands. His lightly morbid but undeniably catchy original ‘Last Kiss’ hit the top of the charts in the summer of 1964 in a faithful treatment by Texans J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers. This classic “death disc” has since been covered by many, not least Pearl Jam, so at least the healthy royalties from whose versions, would come as an unforeseen blessing for Cochran in later years.
January 31, 2015 – Don Covay was born Donald Randolph in Orangeburg, South Carolina on March 24, 1938. Covay was the son of a Baptist preacher who died when his son was eight. The family soon after relocated to Washington, D.C., where he and his siblings formed a gospel group dubbed the Cherry Keys; while in middle school, however, some of Covay’s classmates convinced him to make the leap to secular music, and in 1953 he joined the Rainbows, a local doo wop group that previously enjoyed a national smash with “Mary Lee.”
By the time Covay joined the Rainbows the original lineup had long since splintered, and his recorded debut with the group, 1956’s “Shirley,” was not a hit. He stuck around for one more single, “Minnie,” before exiting; contrary to legend, this iteration of the Rainbows did not include either a young Marvin Gaye or Billy Stewart, although both fledgling singers did occasionally fill in for absent personnel during live performances.
August 4, 2007 – Barton Lee Hazlewood (These Boots Are Made for Walkin’) was born on July 9, 1929 in Mannford, Oklahoma. The son of an oil man, he spent most of his youth living between Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Louisiana. He grew up listening to pop and bluegrass music. He spent his teenage years in Port Neches, Texas, where he was exposed to a rich Gulf Coast music tradition. He studied for a medical degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
July 17, 2005 – Laurel Aitken/Lorenzo Aitken (the Godfather of Ska) was born in Cuba of mixed Cuban and Jamaican descent on April 22nd 1927. His family settled in Jamaica in 1938 and he went on to become Jamaica’s first real recording star.
His first recordings in the late 1950s were mento tunes such as “Nebuchnezer”, “Sweet Chariot” and “Baba Kill Me Goat”. Progressing to a pre-ska shuffle, his 1958 single “Little Sheila”/”Boogie in My Bones” was one of the first records produced by Chris Blackwell, who founded his Island Records label that year, and the first Jamaican popular music record to be released in the UK.