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Steve Wright 1/2017

January 16, 2017 – Steve Wright (Greg Kihn Band) was born in El Cerrito California in 1950.

Wright had played in a band called Traumatic Experience with El Cerrito residents John Cuniberti and Jimmy Thorsen.
After changing their name to Hades Blues Works (later, Hades) they expanded into a quartet with Craig Ferreira in 1970

In 1975 Greg Kihn had already signed to Berserkley Records and had a song included on the album Beserkley Chartbusters before entering the studio to record the debut album with a new band consisting of Wright, Robbie Dunbar and Larry Lynch – the Greg Kihn Band.

What followed was 20 years of recording and touring with several monster hits composed by Steve Wright and Greg Kihn.  Continue reading Steve Wright 1/2017

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Pete Quaife 6/2010

pete-quaifeJune 23, 2010 – Pete Quaife (The Kinks) was born Peter Alexander Greenlaw on December 31, 1943 in Tavistock, Devon, the son of a US Army man and a British girl. Quaife met his fellow guitarists, Ray and Dave Davies, at William Grimshaw secondary modern school in Muswell Hill, north London, where his family had moved. With the Davies brothers he began to rehearse rock’n’roll and rhythm and blues numbers by Buddy Holly, the Ventures and Chuck Berry. According to Dave Davies: “We drew lots to see who would play bass guitar and Pete lost.”

After leaving school Quaife studied commercial art and, with the Davies brothers and drummer Mick Avory, began to perform in public at local youth clubs and other small venues. The band went through several names until, as the Ravens, they backed a well-connected singer called Robert Wace, who was a better businessman than vocalist. With a stockbroker partner, Grenville Collins, Wace booked the Ravens to play at various functions.

At a time when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were beginning to make waves, Wace and Collins decided that the Ravens had star potential and they enlisted the help of pop manager Larry Page to further their career. It was Page’s idea to design a striking image for the group, beginning with an arresting name, the Kinks (“kinky” was a vogue adjective in Swinging London), and including an outrageous stage uniform of hunting outfits and riding crops.

Page placed the group with record producer Shel Talmy and they struck gold with their third single, You Really Got Me. It was written and sung by Ray Davies, but its impact was mostly due to Dave’s fuzz guitar riff, underpinned by Quaife’s bass line, which influenced a generation of budding rock musicians. You Really Got Me reached No. 1 in Britain and No. 7 in the United States, catapulting the young band to the fore of the British scene, and the abrasive guitar distortion on “You Really Got Me” and its follow-up, “All Day and All of the Night” — which Dave Davies made by slicing his amplifier with a razor — helped start a thousand garage bands. and introduced a three-year period in which the Kinks had 11 British top 10 hits and several hits in America, including such classics as Sunny Afternoon, Dead End Street, Autumn Almanac and Waterloo Sunset.

The band continued to score British hits throughout the 1960s, and there were constant national and international tours lined up, yet they had only sporadic success in the United States, where a four-year dispute with the American Federation of Musicians prevented it from touring for most of the late 1960s.

For many years, Peter Quaife was the odd man out in the Kinks’ history — the first of the original bandmembers to leave the lineup in 1969, the band’s .

From the beginning, the Kinks were beset with internal feuds. The Davies brothers exhibited a strong brand of sibling rivalry, but Quaife managed to stand aloof from the band’s disputes and at times was a peacemaker, earning the nickname of “the ambassador” because “I often stepped in to calm things down.” He was however never permitted to engage in songwriting as such, however, and admitted in the same interview that he and Avory often felt like session players at the band’s own recording sessions — moments such as the Kelvin Hall live album were relatively rare, allowing him to step out in front.

Quaife left the band following what was his most substantial contribution to the group, Village Green Preservation Society, the album on which — perhaps because of its extended gestation — he was most able to express himself musically. He and Canadian guitarist Stan Endersby formed Maple Oak with drummer Mick Cook and keyboardman Marty Fisher. In more recent years, Quaife has moved to Canada and also embarked on a writing career, and has had intermittent contact with Ray Davies over the years — he emerged most prominently in interviews connected with the 2004 expanded reissue of Village Green Preservation Society.

In spite of his ability to break up the Davies brothers’ regular brawls, eventually the Kinks’ bickering and frustrations forced him out in 1969. Quaife had left the band for part of 1966 after he was injured in a car accident, but by 1969, after playing on the albums “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” and “Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire),” he quit for good and was replaced by John Dalton.

Quaife sang backing vocals on many of the hits and his trenchant bass riffs held the Kinks’ sound together, especially in concert when they would sometimes drift into lengthy instrumental passages. In the late 1960s, he also made a greater contribution to the group’s recordings as they spent longer periods in the studio, working on the albums Something Else By the Kinks (1967) and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968), adding a bass line borrowed from JS Bach to a track on the latter.

He also took part in rehearsals for the 1969 album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) before leaving the group permanently in 1969. He was replaced, again, by Dalton. Explaining his decision, Quaife said: “We just never played anywhere, so most of the time we just sat around at home collecting our royalty cheques. It was an easy life but not a very fulfilling one.”

In interviews Quaife cited the group’s competitive volatility: one day in 1965, he said, a fistfight broke out among its members in a limousine after Quaife whistled a Beatles melody — for his departure, as well as the control that Ray Davies began to exert on the band.

“At the start I had some freedom with my bass lines,” he said in an interview with the British music magazine Mojo, “but as time went on, Ray treated us all more and more like session men.” He also sang backup on a lot of the records during his tenure, most notably — according to a 1998 interview with Martin Kalin — on “Waterloo Sunset.”

After leaving the Kinks, Quaife played briefly with another band, Mapleoak, (two Canadians and two Brits) but left within a year as the band turned into a drug fest. He moved to Denmark and worked as a graphic artist in Denmark and later Canada and basically turned his back on music. He once joined them drunk on stage for an encore in Toronto and he joined the other band members in 1990 for the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1998 while living in Ontario Canada, he was found to have renal failure and documented his dialysis experiences in cartoons collected in two volumes of books titled “The Lighter Side of Dialysis.”

In 2005, Pete was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame with Kinks, marking the final reunion of the four original band members.

Unlike drummer Mick Avory, who was supplanted by Bobby Graham on virtually all of the earliest recordings (through the first album), Quaife played on the group’s records from the beginning, and his rock-solid bass work contributed immeasurably to the power of their work on-stage, making possible such moments as the marvelous stretching out on the extended jam from The Live Kinks, in which his instrument holds the sound together as the band drifts between its own songs and a unique take on the “Batman” theme.  John Entwhistle, famous bass player for the Who named Pete Quaife his favorite bass player, because he moved the Kinks along.

Pete died of kidney failure on June 22, 2013 at the age of 66.

Despite the Kinks’ success, Quaife was never satisfied with his role in the creative process. “I would have been squished with a size 16 boot I had even suggested they listen to an idea from me,” he said in a 2005 interview. “I felt like a session man most of the time. Ray wanted complete control of everything. He was a control freak.” In June 1966 Quaife broke his leg in a car accident and briefly left the band. “It was a good break for me,” he said in 2005. “The band was fighting all the time and I couldn’t take it.” He rejoined after a few months, but quit for good three yeas later. In a 1998 interview, Quaife pointed to the band’s 1968 disc Village Green Preservation Society as his favorite. “For me, it represents the only real album made by the Kinks,” he said. “It’s the only one where we all contributed something.”


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Randy Jo Hobbs 8/1993

August 4, 1993 – Randy Jo Hobbs was born on March 22nd 1948 in Winchester, Indiana.

Already fronting his own band the Coachmen at age 17, he soon joined brothers Rick (later known as Rick Derringer and Randy Zehringer, a Union City Indiana garage band called The McCoys (originally Rick and the Raiders) from 1965 to 1969 during which time their hit “Hang On Sloopy” became a global hit. The song sold some 6 million copies and was the McCoys entry in the big league, opening up for giant acts of the era like the Rolling Stones. When the song’s popularity ran out of steam, they became the house band for a popular New York hotspot called Steve Paul’s The Scene where they were introduced to Texas guitar God in the making Johnny Winter.  Lacking more hits the band soon turned into backing guitar phenomenon Johnny Winter in the seventies.

As a band the McCoys called it quits in 1973 and Hobbs stayed a while longer with Johnny Winter but later played in brother Edgar Winter’s White Trash from until around 1976. White Trash was comprised of Southern musicians, one of which was another guitar giant, Ronnie Montrose. This led to Randy playing with a later version of Montrose,  on the ‘Jump on It’ album, released in 1976.

Earlier Randy had played bass with Jimi Hendrix on some 1968 live sessions which were later released unofficially as Woke Up This Morning and Found Myself Dead in 1980 and New York Sessions in 1998, and officially as Bleeding Heart in 1994. At this time he unfortunately developed a huge heroin dependency that ultimately would cause his demise in 1993

In 1978 he also played bass on Rick Derringer’s album with Dick Glass, “Glass Derringer”.

Drug abuse took a toll on Randy Hobbs, and ultimately consumed his career as a musician.  A front man can stumble out onto the stage and sleepwalk through the set, but an out-of-control side player is done for.  Randy Hobbs was fired from Johnny Winter’s band and returned to Randolph County where he lived out his life.

Randy Jo Hobbs was found dead in a Dayton hotel room on August 5, 1993 – Rick Derringer’s birthday. The cause was heart failure. He was 45.

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James Jamerson 8/1983

August 2, 1983 – James Lee Jamerson  was born on January 29th 1936 in Edisto Island, near Charleston, South Carolina. In 1954 he moved with his mother to Detroit where he learned to play the double bass at Northwestern High School, and he soon began playing in Detroit area blues and jazz clubs.

Jamerson continued performing in Detroit clubs after graduating high school, and his increasingly solid reputation started providing him opportunities for sessions at various local recording studios. Starting in 1959, he found steady work at Berry Gordy’s Hitsville U.S.A. studio, home of the Motown record label. He played bass on Marv Johnson single “Come to Me”(1959), John Lee Hooker album ” Burnin’ “(1962) and The Reflections “(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet”(1964).

There he became a member of a core of studio musicians who informally called themselves The Funk Brothers. This small, close-knit group of musicians performed on the vast majority of Motown recordings during most of the 1960s. Jamerson’s earliest Motown sessions were performed on double bass, but in the early 1960s he switched to playing an electric Fender Precision Bass for the most part.

The Funk Brothers

Like Jamerson, most of the other Funk Brothers were jazz musicians who had been recruited by Gordy. For many years, they maintained a typical schedule of recording during the day at Motown’s small garage “Studio A” (which they nicknamed “the Snakepit”), then playing gigs in the jazz clubs at night. They also occasionally toured the U.S. with Motown artists. For most of their career, however, the Funk Brothers went uncredited on Motown singles and albums, and their pay was considerably less than the main artists or the label received.

Eventually, Jamerson was put on retainer with Motown for one thousand dollars a week, which afforded him and his ever-expanding family a comfortable lifestyle.
Jamerson’s discography at Motown reads as a catalog of soul hits of the 1960s and 1970s.

His work includes Motown hits such as, among hundreds of others, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes, “My Girl” by The Temptations, “Shotgun” by Jr. Walker & the All Stars, “For Once in My Life,” “I Was Made To Love Her” by Stevie Wonder, “Going to a Go-Go” by The Miracles, “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight and the Pips, and later by Marvin Gaye, and most of the album What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “Bernadette” by the Four Tops. According to fellow Funk Brothers in the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Gaye was desperate to have Jamerson play on “What’s Going On,” and went to several bars to find the bassist. When he did, he brought Jamerson to the studio, who then played the classic line while lying flat on his back. He is reported to have played on some 95% of Motown recordings between 1962 and 1968. He eventually performed on nearly 30 No. 1 pop hits—surpassing the record commonly attributed to The Beatles. On the R&B charts, nearly 70 of his performances went to the top.

Post Motown

Shortly after Motown moved their headquarters to Los Angeles, California in 1972, Jamerson moved there himself and found occasional studio work, but his relationship with Motown officially ended in 1973. He went on to perform on such 1970s hits as “Neither One Of Us” by Gladys Night & The Pips (1973), “Boogie Down” (Eddie Kendricks, 1974), “Boogie Fever” (The Sylvers, 1976), “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)” (Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., 1976), and “Heaven Must Have Sent You” (Bonnie Pointer, 1979). He also played on Robert Palmer’s 1975 solo album Pressure Drop, Dennis Cofey “Instant Coffey” (1974), “Wah Wah Watson”‘s Elementary album (1976),[14] Rhythm Heritage (1976), Al Wilson (1977), Eloise Laws (1977), Smokey Robinson (1978), Ben E. King (1978), Hubert Laws (1979), Tavares (1980), Joe Sample & David T. Walker (1981), and Bloodstone (1982).

But as other musicians went on to use high-tech amps, round-wound strings, and simpler, more repetitive bass lines incorporating new techniques like thumb slapping, Jamerson’s style fell out of favor with local producers and he found himself reluctant to try new things. By the 1980s he was unable to get any serious gigs working as a session musician.

Long troubled by alcoholism, Jamerson died of complications stemming from cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure and pneumonia on August 2, 1983, in Los Angeles at the age of 47.

Finally Recognition

• James Jamerson (as is the case with the other Funk Brothers) received little formal recognition for his lifetime contributions. It was not until 1971, when he was acknowledged as “the incomparable James Jamerson” on the sleeve of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, that his name even showed up on a major Motown release.

• Jamerson was the subject of a 1989 book by Allan Slutsky (aka “Dr. Licks”) titled Standing in the Shadows of Motown. The book includes a biography of Jamerson, a few dozen transcriptions of his bass lines, and two CDs in which 26 internationally known professional bassists (such as Pino Palladino, John Entwistle, Will Lee, Chuck Rainey, and Geddy Lee) speak about Jamerson and play those transcriptions. Jamerson’s story was also featured in the subsequent 2002 documentary film of the same title.

• In 1999, Jamerson was awarded a bust at the Hollywood Guitar Center’s Rock Walk.

• In 2000, Jamerson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, part of the first-ever group of “sidemen” to be so honored.

• In 2003, there was a two-day celebration entitled “Returned To The Source” which was hosted by The Charleston Jazz Initiative and Avery Research Center of The College of Charleston.

• In 2004, the Funk Brothers were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

• In 2007, Jamerson along with the other Funk Brothers was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Memphis, Tennessee.

• In 2008, James Jamerson was awarded the Gullah/GeeChee Anointed Spirit Award.

• In 2009, Jamerson was inducted into the Fender Hall of Fame. Among the speakers was fellow legendary Motown session bassist and friend, Bob Babbitt.

• In 2009, Jamerson received a Resolution from the SC House of Representatives.

• In 2012, Jamerson received the Hartke, Zune, Samson 2012 International Bassist Award.

• In 2013, he along with the Funk Brothers received their Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

• In 2014, Jamerson received a State Resolution from the South Carolina Senate.