September 27, 2017 – CeDell Davis was born June 9, 1927 in Helena, Arkansas, where his family worked on the local E.M. Hood plantation. He enjoyed music from a young age, playing harmonica and guitar with his childhood friends.
When he was 10, he contracted severe polio which left him little control over his left hand and restricted use of his right. He had been playing guitar prior to his polio and decided to continue in spite of his handicap, which led to his development of the “knife” method. Davis played guitar using a table knife in his fretting hand in a manner similar to slide guitar. Like Sister Rosetta Tharpe before him or Joni Mitchell after, he developed his own logic when it came to tuning the guitar, a style that Robert Palmer wrote, “resulted in a welter of metal-stress harmonic transients and a singular tonal plasticity.” Continue reading CeDell Davis 9/2017
March 18, 2017 – Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis Missouri. Chuck was the fourth child in a family of six. He grew up in the north St. Louis neighborhood known as The Ville, an area where many middle-class people lived at the time. His father, Henry, was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church; his mother, Martha, was a certified public school principal. His upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age. He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still a student at Sumner High School.
In 1944, while still a student at Sumner High School, he was arrested for armed robbery after robbing three shops in Kansas City, Missouri, and then stealing a car at gunpoint with some friends. Continue reading Chuck Berry 3/2017
March 8, 2016 – George Martin (the Fifth Beatle) A trained musician, George Martin worked in the BBC’s classical department before moving to EMI and its subsidiary, Parlophone, producing jazz and classical as well as comedy records for Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Peter Ustinov. He was the genius producer behind a wave of hit British acts in the 1960s, including Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black, but it was his work with four other Liverpudlians that understandably overshadowed them all.
The Beatles auditioned for Martin on 6 June 1962, in studio three at the Abbey Road studios. Ron Richards and his engineer Norman Smith recorded four songs, which Martin (who was not present during the recording) listened to at the end of the session. The verdict was not promising, however, as Richards complained about Pete Best’s drumming, and Martin thought their original songs were simply not good enough. Martin asked the individual Beatles if there was anything they personally did not like, to which George Harrison replied, “Well, there’s your tie, for a start.” That was the turning point, according to Smith, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney joined in with jokes and comic wordplay, that made Martin think that he should sign them to a contract for their wit alone.
Continue reading George Martin 3/2016