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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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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.