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Vincent Nguini 12/2017

December 8, 2017 – Vincent Nguini (Guitarist For Paul Simon) was born in Obala, Cameroon, West Africa in July 1952. Music and the understanding of it was the driving force behind his life’s ambitions from very early on.

He traveled around Africa in the early and mid-1970s, learning many regional guitar styles, before relocating to Paris in 1978. In Paris, long a recording center for music from French-speaking Africa, he studied music and did studio work with many African musicians. He joined the band of the Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, who had an international hit in 1972 with “Soul Makossa,” and soon became its musical director.  Continue reading Vincent Nguini 12/2017

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Zé Pedro 11/2017

November 30, 2017 – Zé Pedro (Xutos & Pontapés) was born José Amaro dos Santos Reis on September 14, 1956 in Lisbon Portugal.

Times were difficult as Portugal suffered under a right wing dictatorship and personal freedom was of no consequence. Dictator Salazar is firmly in power and crushes anything that does not fit his agenda without mercy: including the arrival of rock and roll. Using his heavy handed censorship and ubiquitous secret police to quell any type of opposition, life in Portugal was a far cry from today’s laid back holiday atmosphere.

But rock and roll was driving the culture in much of the western world and Portuguese youth were no different. Continue reading Zé Pedro 11/2017

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Wayne Cochran 11/2017

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.

Continue reading Wayne Cochran 11/2017

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Chad Hanks 11/2017

November 12, 2017 – Chad Hanks (American Head Charge) was born in 1971 in Los Angeles, California.

With vocalist friend Cameron Heacock he formed American Head Charge in 1997 after they met in 1995 in rehab in Minneapolis and emerged as major players from the late ’90s nu-metal boom. The success of their 1999 indie debut, Trepanation, caught the ear of mega-producer Rick Rubin (Metallica, Beastie Boys, Chili Peppers), who signed the band to his American Recordings label and got the group out to his allegedly haunted Los Angeles mansion to record 2001’s “The War of Art.” Metal magazines Kerang and Rough Edge each gave the album four-star reviews (out of five), and VH1 picked it as one of the “12 Most Underrated Albums of Nü Metal.” Continue reading Chad Hanks 11/2017

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Fred Cole 11/2017

November 9, 2017 – Fred Cole was born August 28, 1948 in Tacoma, Washington and he moved with his mother to Las Vegas where he attended high school. Here he began his recording career in 1964,  with his band, the Lords, at the Teenbeat Club, releasing a single titled “Ain’t Got No Self-Respect. “His next single, from 1965, was a promo-only called “Poverty Shack” b/w “Rover,” with a band named Deep Soul Cole.

In 1966 Cole’s band The Weeds gained notice in garage rock circles, and their only single, a 60s punk track called It’s Your Time (b/w Little Girl, Teenbeat Club Records), has become a collectors’ favorite. The A-side appeared on one of the Nuggets anthologies. The band was promised an opening slot on a Yardbirds bill at the Fillmore in San Francisco, but on their arrival found that the venue hadn’t heard of them. Continue reading Fred Cole 11/2017

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Whitey Glan 11/2017

November 7, 2017 – Pentti “Whitey” Glan was born on July 8, 1946 in Finland , just after World War II had come to an end and tensions with Russia were high. The family moved to Toronto Canada soon after.

Whitey Glan’s first serious band was the Canadian soul band The Rogues (later called Mandala) which he formed with keyboardist Josef Chirowski and bassist Don Elliot; they had worked together in other teenage bands like Whitey & The Roulettes. Mandala had their first hit single with “Opportunity” with original singer George Oliver, recorded at Chess Records.

In 1966 Glan played several shows with Mandala in Ontario and recorded the first two demo songs of his career (“I Can’t Hold Out No Longer” and “I’ll Make It Up To You”). Roy Kenner had replaced George Oliver. When they played their first shows in the USA they performed at the Whiskey A Go Go. They recorded their only album Soul Crusade in 1968 which produced a hit single (“Loveitis”) but they disbanded in 1969 after several line-up changes and poor album sales. Continue reading Whitey Glan 11/2017

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Scott Putesky 10/2017

October 22, 2017 – Scott Putesky (Marilyn Manson) aka Daisy Berkowitz was born on April 28, 1968  in Los Angeles, California.

After his high school years Putesky moved to Ft.Lauderdale and enrolled in a Graphic Design College. Putesky and Brian Warner (Marilyn Manson) met at a Fort Lauderdale club called The Reunion Room and later at a local after-party in December 1989. The two started creating the concept of Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids poking fun at American media hypocrisy and its obsessions with serial killers and beautiful women. (Marilyn Monroe vs Charles Manson and Daisy Duke vs David Berkowitz)

Putesky, who had at this point developed his own poetry but not yet worked lyrics into his music, began to meet up with Warner and brainstorm character and show/event ideas, after Warner asked for help starting a band as a creative outlet for his poetry writing. Continue reading Scott Putesky 10/2017

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Phil Miller 10/2017

October 18, 2017 – Phil Miller (In Cahoots) was born on January 22, 1949 in Barnet, Hertfordshire, to Mavis (nee Dale), a librarian, and David Miller, a wartime lieutenant colonel in the Royal Marines and later head of commodities at the Stock Exchange. He was educated at Blackfriars boarding school, in Laxton, Northamptonshire, from where he occasionally truanted at night, hitch-hiking to London clubs to hear his musical heroes play, and returning unmissed in time for early-morning mass.

A self-taught guitarist, he formed his first band, Delivery, at 17, and played regularly upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s in London, backing visiting blues legends.

In 1971 he became a vital figure on the “Canterbury scene” when Robert Wyatt, who had just left Soft Machine, recruited Phil to join his new band, Matching Mole. The “scene”, noted for the frequent absence of the electric guitar as a lead instrument, boasted Phil as its undisputed exponent. Continue reading Phil Miller 10/2017

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Gord Downie 10/2017

October 17, 2017 – Gord Downie was born February 6, 1964 in Amherstview, Ontario, and raised in Kingston, Ontario, along with his two brothers Mike and Patrick. He was the son of Lorna (Neal) and Edgar Charles Downie, a traveling salesman. In Kingston, he befriended the musicians who would become The Tragically Hip, while attending the downtown Kingston high school Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute.

Downie formed the Tragically Hip with Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Davis Manning, and Gord Sinclair in 1983. Saxophone player Davis Manning left the band and guitarist Paul Langlois joined in 1986. Originally, the band started off playing cover songs in bars and quickly became famous once MCA Records president Bruce Dickinson saw them performing at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto and offered them a record deal. Continue reading Gord Downie 10/2017

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Alvin DeGuzman 10/2017

October 4, 2017 – Alvin DeGuzman (The Icarus Line) was born in Manila in the Philippines on December 3, 1978.

When he was 4 years old the family moved to the US.He attended Holy Family School in South Pasadena and graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1997. He also attended Cal Poly Pomona. 

Alvin was a talented musician and passionate artist. While in High School he became a founding member of the indie punk rock band The Icarus Line, where he played the guitar both left and right handed, and also played bass and keys. The Icarus Line was the successor to high school friend Joe Cardamone’s first musical effort named “Kanker Sores”. Continue reading Alvin DeGuzman 10/2017

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Skip Haynes 10/2017

October 2, 2017 – Skip Haynes was born Eugene Heitlinger in Franklin Park Illinois in 1946. He graduated East Leyden High School in 1963. When it comes to rock music being the sound track to our boomer generation, there are certain songs that stand out and stay a perennial anthem such as Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco (Wear some flowers in your hair), Steve Goodman’s City of New Orleans and the song Skip Haynes wrote and performed about Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive.

Haynes was born Eugene Heitlinger, but a club manager told him early in his career there wasn’t enough room on the marquee for that. Since his grandfather called him Skippy, he decided to take the name Skip Haynes. Continue reading Skip Haynes 10/2017

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Mark Selby 9/2017

September 18, 2017 – Mark Selby was born in September 2, 1961. Born and raised in Enid, Oklahoma, Selby spent his youth harvesting wheat and playing in bands throughout the Midwest before moving to Hays, Kansas to attend Fort Hays University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music. 

He was musically gifted in three ways: as a songwriter, a singer with a soulful voice and a guitarist with some impressive chops. His future as a blues rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer started in Germany, where he signed as a solo artist to ZYX Records.  Continue reading Mark Selby 9/2017

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Grant Hart 9/2017

Grant Hart of Husker DuSeptember 13, 2017 – Grant Hart (Hüsker Dü) was born in St. Paul, MN on March 18, 1961 and at the age of 10, he inherited his older brother’s drum set and records, after he was killed by a drunk driver. Hart described his family as a “typical American dysfunctional family. Not very abusive, though. Nothing really to complain about.” He soon began playing in a number of makeshift bands throughout high school. Continue reading Grant Hart 9/2017

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Jessi Zazu 9/2017

September 12, 2017 – Jessi Zazu (Those Darlins) was born Jessi Zazu Wariner in Nashville Tennessee in 1989.

When Jessi Zazu was just a little girl, her mother Kathy says, she would wrap her fingers around the neck of a guitar and strain to play. She would not give up. Though she was the tiniest creature in her remarkable family of drawers, painters, players and all-around makers, Jessi knew she was destined to make a sound that was bigger than all of them. F*** the laws of physics. She was going to play that guitar like ringing a bell. The indie rock band that she fronted from 2006 to 2016 called Those Darlins, was hugely popular for its unique style that mixed genres like garage rock and punk with bluegrass and country. Continue reading Jessi Zazu 9/2017

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Rick Stevens 9/2017

rick stevens tower of powerSeptember 5, 2017 – Rick Stevens (Tower of Power) was born Donald Stevenson on February 23, 1941 in Port Arthur, Texas, but didn’t stay there long, as a few years later his parents moved to Reno, Nevada. Rick first sang in public at the tender age of four, when his family set him up on a chair in front of the congregation at their church.

While growing up Rick was greatly influenced by his uncle, singer Ivory Joe Hunter, who was his mother’s younger brother. There was always a great deal of excitement when Uncle Ivory Joe came to visit on breaks from touring around the country with his band. Rick decided early on that he wanted to be a singer, just like his uncle. Ivory Joe was a not only a ground-breaking performer in what at the time was referred to by the record labels as “race music”, he was also a prolific songwriter with hundreds of songs to his credit.

Elvis Presley invited Ivory Joe to Graceland in 1957, and they spent the day singing together, including Ivory Joe’s hit “I Almost Lost My Mind”, among other songs. Hunter commented, “He is very spiritually minded … he showed me every courtesy, and I think he’s one of the greatest”. Elvis recorded five songs written by Ivory Joe: “My Wish Came True” (Top 20), “I Will be True”“It’s Still Here”“I Need You So”, and “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” (Top 20).

Like many musically talented teenagers in the late 1950’s Rick was interested in doo-wop, and he joined a singing group called the “Magnificent Marcels”. In the early 1960’s Rick performed in nightclubs around Reno, where he was known as “Mr. Twister”.

Having moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-60’s Rick continued his singing career, fronting various bands that played in local nightclubs. Rick’s bands included “Rick and the Ravens”, and “The Rick Stevens Four” (or Five, depending on how many people were in the band).

Rick joined “Four of a Kind” in 1966, initially in San Francisco, later moving with the band to Seattle. After a short time, Rick moved back to the Bay Area and joined a band called “Stuff”, in which one of the other members was Willie James Fulton (guitar and vocals). Rick and Willie James left “Stuff” and joined Tower of Power at about the same time as drummer David Garibaldi in 1969 and later replaced Rufus Miller as lead vocalist after Rick sang the diamond hit, “Sparkling in the Sand” on Tower of Power’s first album, EAST BAY GREASE. (The only song on that album that made any impact). The next Tower of Power album to hit the charts was BUMP CITY in 1972, and that record features Rick’s signature song, “You’re Still a Young Man”. The album also includes other hits such as “Down to the Night Club” and “You Got to Funkafize”.

Although he is not credited on the third album, the self-titled record, TOWER OF POWER, Rick initially sang all the lead vocals. He also contributed background vocals, which were retained on the record when it was released. The album features several hits such as, “What is Hip”, “Soul Vaccination”, and “Get Your Feet Back on the Ground”, and of course, “So Very Hard to Go”. Rick’s increasing drug dependency lead to Lenny Williams taking over lead vocals, as Rick left the band in 1973 to pursue other avenues of his musical career. After leaving Tower of Power, Rick joined a Bay Area band called “Brass Horizon”, a popular band with a big horn section.

The Stanford Daily – February 25, 1975

Former Tower Singer Heads Brass Horizon
By JOAN E. HINMAN

SAN FRANCISCO – Quick – name Tower of Power’s two biggest hits. Maybe you said “So Very Hard To Go”, the single off Tower’s third album. But if you’re a deranged purist, you named “Sparkling In The Sand”, from East Bay Grease, and “You’re Still A Young Man”, the monster hit off Bump City in 1971.

It was “You’re Still A Young Man” that established Tower as national stars, removing them from the realm of San Francisco funk forever. The song’s amazing success can be explained in two words — Rick Stevens. Stevens emerged as Tower’s lead singer after the success of “Sparkling In The Sand”, the only song on the band’s first album on which he sang lead…

… the excellent set performed by Stevens and his new band, Brass Horizon, Saturday at Yellow Brick Road marks the return of one of the finest vocalists ever to hit the City. The new band, Brass Horizon, is every bit as tight and biting as the famed Tower brass…

…Stevens proved that his voice can still get down and growl on dance tunes, as well as sweep up to carry the pure melody of “You’re Still A Young Man”. … the fine Rick Stevens stage presence that on past occasions made Winterland feel as homey as a living room was evident Saturday. Smiling and jiving with the “mamas” on the dance floor, Stevens was clearly back in the atmosphere he likes best—putting out get-down, good time music.

Then in 1976 it gets quiet around Rick Stevens for the next 36 years as he is sentenced to life in prison for a triple homicide in a drug deal gone wrong. Addicted to drugs he had shot and killed 3 men in a botched deal.

In 2012 Stevens was released on parole. He then formed Rick Stevens & Love Power, which regularly played in Northern California. He also occasionally sat in with Tower of Power, including an appearance at a January 2017 benefit concert for former band members that were hit by a train in Oakland’s Jack London Square.

Rick Stevens passed away on September 5, 2017 after a short battle with liver cancer.

“Rick Stevens went to heaven today to be with the Lord whom he loved with all his heart. Rick was an extremely soulful singer and entertainer who had an engaging personality and a strong faith which he shared with all he came in contact with,” Tower of Power founder Emilio Castillo wrote on the band’s Facebook page.“We loved him and we’ll miss him. I have faith that I’ll see him in heaven someday and together we’ll worship and glorify God together for eternity. Rick is there right now enjoying it!!!”

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Erik Cartwright 7/2017

July 9, 2017 – Erik Cartwright (FOGHAT) was born on July 10, 1950 in New York City and grew up in Minisink Hills, Pennsylvania. A 1968 graduate of East Stroudsburg High School, he became one of the area’s prominent rock guitarists, alongside his friend G.E. Smith. Erik’s first gig as a professional musician was with the band Dooley in Allentown, PA.

In 1970-1971 he studied at the famous Berklee School of music before His early guitar work is featured on singer Dan Hartman’s It Hurts to Be in Love (1981). His first album as a co-leader was the self-titled debut of Tears (1979), with Nils Lofgren on piano. Right after he had just recorded the Tears album the invitation to join Foghat, and replace original lead guitarist Rod Price, came. Continue reading Erik Cartwright 7/2017

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Melvyn Deacon Jones 7/2017

melvyn deacon jones bluesJuly 6, 2017 – Melvyn “Deacon” Jones was born December 12, 1943 in Richmond Indiana. By the time he was a teenager, Deacon was proficient on trumpet and performed with his brother Harold in the high school band. Harold Jones later became a famed jazz drummer.

After graduating in 1962, Jones was a founding member of Baby Huey and the Babysitters with Johnny Ross and James Ramey. After paying a few dues in the Gary area, Deacon and the band set up shop in Chicago where they played five nights a week for five years, according to USA Today. During that time, Jones managed to further his musical education at the prestigious American Conservatory of Music. Continue reading Melvyn Deacon Jones 7/2017

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Dave Rosser 6/2017

June 27, 2017 – Dave Rosser (Afghan Whigs) was born David Clark Rosser in St.Louis, Missouri on August 3, 1966. Raised in Gadsden, Alabama is where he first learned to play guitar and started what became a lifelong passion. After high school, David attended college and eventually moved to Memphis, where he worked in the family business for a short time. His calling as a career musician was apparent, and it led him to Auburn, Alabama, then finally to New Orleans in 1992.

He adopted New Orleans as his beloved city, and here his career took shape. He spent many years with the band Metal Rose, played throughout the French Quarter, and did studio work with many area musicians. Continue reading Dave Rosser 6/2017

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Sonny Knight 6/2017

June 17, 2017 – Sonny Knight was born in 1948 in Mississippi and around 1955 moved to Minnesota with his grandmother. He grew up in the Rondo suburb of St.Paul where he was exposed to the urban music of the era such as bepop, soul and r&b.

At age 17 in 1965 he recorded his first (and only) 45rpm single as Little Sonny Knight & The Cymbols, titled “Tears On My Pillow” B/W “Rain Dance”. Shortly thereafter, music took a back seat to a three-year stint in the army. A few more years in the Bay Area followed, before he returned to Minnesota in the mid-1970s and joined the now-cult favorite funk group Haze. By the early ‘80s, Haze had broken up and Sonny walked away from music for a full time job as a truck driver.

Continue reading Sonny Knight 6/2017

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Jimmy LaFave 5/2017

Jimmy LaFave - Red Dirt Music

May 21, 2017 – Jimmy LaFave was born July 12, 1955 in Willis Point, Texas where he was also raised. Music was his destiny from very early on, but he started his journey on drums.

Some years later he moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma and played in the school band but at age 15 LaFave switched to guitar and began writing and singing his own songs in a band called The Night Tribe.

After graduating from high school LaFave played music at night while working during the day. He had a job as the manager of a music club called Up Your Alley and during this period recorded the albums Down Under in 1979 and Broken Line in 1981. Continue reading Jimmy LaFave 5/2017

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Robert Miles 5/2017

9 May 2017 – Robert Miles was born Roberto Concina on 3 November 1969 in Fleurier Switzerland to an Italian military family stationed there. He did not return to Italian soil until the age of ten, settling in the town of Fagagna. Raised primarily on the classic American soul sound of the 1970s, Miles began studying piano as a teen, and at 13 began DJ’ing local house parties. By the late ’80s he was regularly spinning hardcore trance sets at Venice area clubs under the name Robert Milani, eventually adopting the name Miles as symbolic of the musical journey awaiting him. In time, he assembled a basic studio system comprising a sampler, mixer, keyboard, and 32-track digital board, accepting production work with the Italian label Metromaxx.
In 1990, he used his savings to establish his own recording studio and a pirate radio station. Continue reading Robert Miles 5/2017

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Casey Jones 5/2017

casey jones, chicago blues first call drummerMay 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

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Toby Smith 4/2017

Toby Smith, Fender Rhodes  keyboard magician with JamiroquaiApril 11, 2017 – Toby Smith (Jamiroquai) was born Toby Grafftey-Smith on October 29, 1970.

Growing up he received classical training on piano and early on developed a keen interest in the “nerdy” side of music. At age 14 he started recording his own tunes on a Tascam and produced his first record at 17, then signed his track “Kleptomaniacs” to London Records. At about the same time his sister took him clubbing in London and he developed an interest in house (dance) music.  Continue reading Toby Smith 4/2017

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David Axelrod 2/17

Composer David Axe AxelrodFebruary 5, 2017 – David Axelrod was born on April 17, 1931 in Los Angeles, California. His father was active in radical labour union politics who died when he was 13 and he was raised in tumultuous LA’s South Central Crenshaw neighborhood, where Axelrod’s future musical direction was influenced by the multicultural environment of the mostly black neighborhood.
 
At the time Axelrod’s parents moved into the area, it was changing from a working-class white district south of downtown Los Angeles into an area of predominantly African American stores, businesses, and homes. Even today, Crenshaw remains one of the most notable African-American communities in Los Angeles, with a cultural scene that includes museums devoted to black history and an active political life strengthened by some of the city’s most ardent black activists. During Axelrod’s youth, the Crenshaw district included the main thoroughfare of African-American cultural life in Los Angeles: Central Avenue–a street filled with music clubs, barber shops, beauty parlors, and other institutions of the African-American community. The fact that Axelrod was white did not prevent him from absorbing many of these influences.

Continue reading David Axelrod 2/17

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John Wetton 1/2017

john wetton,, founder of AsiaJanuary 31, 2017 – John Wetton (ASIA) was born on June 12, 1949 in Willington, Derbyshire, and grew up in the coastal city of Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

He first cut his musical teeth on church music at his family’s piano where he often played the bass parts to help his brother rehearse tunes for services….an experience that led to John’s love of the relationship between top line and bass melodies. It stayed a major feature of his music throughout his career. In his teens, John focused those melodies on the bass guitar and honed his skills by playing and singing with local bands. He also discovered a knack for songwriting with an early bandmate, Richard Palmer-James; a relationship that would continue to flourish through five decades. Continue reading John Wetton 1/2017

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Peter Overend Watts 1/2017

Overend Watts, bass player for Mott the HoopleJanuary 22, 2017 – Peter Overend Watts was born in the Yardley neighborhood of Birmingham, England on 13 May, 1947.

Watts began playing the guitar at the age of 13 and by 1965, he had switched to bass guitar and became a professional musician. Watts attended Ross Grammar School in 1963 and met his lifelong friend Dale Griffin aka Buffin and they played in local bands together such as The Anchors, Wild Dogs Hellhounds and The Silence when they met a rival band The Buddies who had Mick Ralphs and Stan Tippins as members and they collectively formed The Doc Thomas Group. Changes to that line-up occurred in 1968 and keyboard player Verden Allen joined and they changed their name to The Shakedown Sound.

In 1969 they all moved to London and came to the attention of record producer Guy Stevens who auditioned Ian Hunter and appointed him as their lead singer instead of Tippins and Mott The Hoople was formed. Watts was instrumental in getting David Bowie to write a song for the band and initially was offered the song “Suffragette City” which he turned down before David wrote especially for the band their now anthem “All The Young Dudes”. Mott The Hoople quickly built up a fearsome reputation as a dynamic live attraction playing gloriously ragged rock’n’roll and much of the group’s raw energy emanated from the bands propulsive engine room: the thunderous rhythm section of Overend and Dale. Visually the band also stood out and it was hard not to notice Watts in his thigh high platform boots, silver hair with a custom made bass guitar in the shape of a swallow! Continue reading Peter Overend Watts 1/2017

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Maggie Roche 1/2017

maggie roche of the rochesJanuary 21, 2017 – Maggie Roche was born on October 26, 1951 in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Together with her sister Terre, she dropped out of Park Ridge High School to tour as a duo in the late sixties. Maggie wrote most of the songs, with Terre contributing to a few. The sisters got a big real break when Paul Simon  brought them in as backup singers on his 1973 #2 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. In return they got his support and an appearance by the Oakridge Boys, when they recorded their only album as a duo in 1975 titled Seductive Reasoning.

A year later their youngest sister Suzzy completed the Irish singer/songwriting trio The Roches. Maggie was their main songwriter in the beginning as they became increasingly known  for their unusual harmonies, quirky lyrics and comedic stage presence. Continue reading Maggie Roche 1/2017

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Mike Kellie 1/2017

drummer for Spooky ToothJanuary 18, 2017 – Mike Kellie – (Spooky Tooth, the Only Ones) was born on March 24, 1947 in Birmingham, England into a family with no musical background or inclination.. As a child, he showed an early interest in rhythm, practicing on a coal shuttle with hearth brushes to simulate a snare drum. In his teen years, he joined St. Michaels Youth Club band as a drummer. He later played at “The Track” at Tudor Grange Sports Centre in Solihull. On the basis of this work, he was invited by Brian “Monk” Ffinch to play with Wayne and the Beachcombers in Birmingham, which started his career as a professional musician.

In 1966, Kellie played in Birmingham in a band called the Locomotive with Chris Wood of Traffic, and later with the V.I.P.’s (later Art) in Carlisle.

Steve Winwood was ready to leave The Spencer Davis Group and I was in a band in Birmingham called The Locomotive with Chris Wood on tenor sax & flute. Chris, Steve & Jim Capaldi were forming Traffic at that time, around the latter part of 1966. The other band that Chris Blackwell, who managed the Spencer Davis Group, had was the VIP’s from Carlisle. They were a great rhythm and blues band and had come down to make it in London having conquered the North. Their drummer, Walter Johnson, missed his family and went back to Carlisle. Hence, in the office one day Steve suggested someone call me. I had a day job in a wood yard in Olton. I got a phone call from friend Paul Medcalf who said …“Steve wants to know if you’re interested in joining this band…” So I was off, next day, straight from New Street Station, with my drums, to Paddington. Met by VIP’s road manager, the legendary Albert Heaton I was driven to 155, Oxford Street where I met Mike Harrison and Greg Ridley. I met the rest of the band later that evening. The next day I was in Paris playing at Olympia with the VIP’s without any rehearsal!!  We were bottom of the bill, Chris Blackwell had done this deal for the band to open a star studded variety fundraiser in aid of UNICEF. It was held at Paris Olympia & was televised worldwide, similar to the way ‘All You Need Is Love’ was done. The VIP’s had a single out in France on Fontana and we were over to promote it, a Joe Tex song called ‘I Wanna Be Free’. So I had no real rehearsal, just the journey over in the van. We did the TV show after I had phoned my mother from a Post Office in Paris earlier that day and said ‘Mum, look in the Radio Times, I think we’re on a TV thing tonight.’ The record became a big hit in France following that show.

Manager Chris Blackwell found a singer and organist from the New York Tymes band named Gary Wright, added him to the line-up of Art and launched the band Spooky Tooth with Kellie, Greg Ridley, Jimmy Henshaw, Keith Emerson, Luther Grosvenor and vocalist extraordinaire Mike Harrison.*

With Blackwell being more focused on his fledgling Island Records, and in spite of the band’s wide acceptance in America and the European mainland, Spooky Toothe declined quickly in the early 70s and Kellie joined French Elvis Johnny Hallyday‘s band for a summer tour of France in 1974, before forming The Only Ones in 1976 with Peter Perrett, Alan Mair and John Perry.

The Only Ones, possibly best known for the single “Another Girl, Another Planet”, recorded three albums for CBS, although over time, their catalogue has contained many compilations and other releases, which now outnumber their studio albums.

In February 1978, Johnny Thunders moved to London with his family, and began playing with a loose revue dubbed the Living Dead. Kellie became part of this floating line-up (that also included Perrett along with various Sex Pistols including Steve Jones and Paul Cook) and recorded Thunders’ So Alone album together with his signature song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”.

Following the Only Ones’ farewell in 1981 at London’s Lyceum, Kellie moved to the countryside north of Toronto, Canada, where he spent four years away from performing. He used this time to learn the piano and write songs.

Returning to Britain in 1985, Kellie spent several years hill farming in North Wales and Scotland where he became a shepherd. In 1999 Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison, Luther Grosvenor and Greg Ridley under the Spooky Tooth moniker. Together they released the Cross Purpose album.

In 2004, Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison and Gary Wright to play dates in Germany as another new incarnation of Spooky Tooth. The band later released the DVD Nomad Poets with live performances from Worpswede and Hamburg, Germany.

In 2007, the Only Ones reformed, touring the UK, Europe and Japan as well as performing on BBC TV’s Later… with Jools Holland.

In 2010, with the Only Ones undergoing another sabbatical, Kellie began recording his own collection of music which become his first solo album. Entitled Music from The Hidden, the album was produced by Kellie who also played drums, organ, bass and acoustic guitars, percussion and sang lead vocals. There are also contributions from Gordon Jackson (acoustic guitar), Finley Barker and Tony Kelsey (guitars), Steve Winwood (organ, mandolin and bass), Bill Hunt, Levi French and Tony Ariss (pianos), Rob Harrison (bass), Steve Gibbons (backing vocals) and Greg Platt Lake (guitar and vocals). The album was released in 2014.

Kellie was prominent among the musicians featured on the six-CD Jess Roden Anthology, presented by Hidden Masters. He contributed to the 2011 sessions for the Distractions re-union album, The End of the Pier, which was released on Occultation Records in 2012.

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Kellie was besides a member of the rock bands the V.I.P.s, Spooky Tooth and the Only Ones, also a prolific session musician and worked with the Who on the film soundtrack of Tommy, Joe Cocker, Traffic, George Harrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees’s Maurice Gibb, Gary Wright, Johnny Thunders, Luther Grosvenor, Neil Innes, Steve Gibbons, Chris Jagger, Nanette Workman, Sean Tyla, Jim Capaldi, Pat Travers and Andy Fraser.

Mike Kellie died on 18 January 2017 following a short illness at the age of 69.

*For a magnificent account of those early London rock days go to http://www.mikekellie.com/PT_1.htm

Another interesting interview about the early days of British rock is this Interview with Mike Kellie – Spooky Tooth

 

 

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Sylvester Potts 1/2017

sylvester potts of the ContoursJanuary 6, 2017 – Sylvester Potts (the Contours) was born on January 22, 1938 in Detroit and attended North Eastern High, the same school where Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, and Bobby Rogers were educated at.

His love of music and the excitement he got from performing, made him once say he wanted to die on stage. In the fall of 1960, a Detroit group called The Contours (consisting of Joe Billingslea, Billy Gordon, Billy Hoggs, Leroy Fair and Hubert Johnson) auditioned for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. Gordy turned the act down, prompting the group to pay a visit to the home of group member Hubert Johnson’s cousin, R&B star and Gordy associate Jackie Wilson. Wilson in turn got The Contours a second audition with Gordy, at which they sang the same songs they had at the first audition, the same way they claim, but this time were signed to a seven-year contract. Continue reading Sylvester Potts 1/2017

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Greg Lake 12/2016

December 7, 2016 – Gregory Stuart “Greg” Lake was born on 10 November 1947 in Poole, Dorset near Bournemouth, England. Lake was given his first guitar at the age of 12 and took lessons from a local tutor called Don Strike.
first learned to play guitar at age 12. After 12 months of guitar lessons, Lake ended his tuition as he wished to learn songs by The Shadows but his instructor “wouldn’t have any of it.” After he left school, Lake worked as a draughtsman for a short period of time before he joined The Shame, where he is featured on their single “Don’t Go Away Little Girl”, written by Janis Ian. Lake then became a member of The Gods, which he described as “a very poor training college”.

Continue reading Greg Lake 12/2016

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Leonard Cohen 11/2016

leonard-cohen-marianne-ihlenNovember 7, 2016 – Leonard Norman Cohen was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on September 21, 1934 and raised in the English-speaking Westmount area. His father, who had a clothing store passed away when Leonard was 9.

In high school he was involved with the student council and studied music and poetry. He became especially interested in the poetry of Federico García Lorca, after whom he named his daughter (Lorca) with artist/photographer Suzanne Elrod.

Even though poetry and writing were his first interests, he learned to play the guitar as a teenager and formed a country–folk group called The Buckskin Boys. Although he initially played a regular acoustic guitar, he soon switched to playing a classical guitar after meeting a young Spanish flamenco guitar player who taught him “a few chords and some flamenco.” Continue reading Leonard Cohen 11/2016

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David Bowie 1/2016

db-transformation-colour2016 – David Bowie was born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947 in South London, England. Bowie developed an early interest in music although his attempts to succeed as a pop star during much of the 1960s were frustrated. Bowie’s first hit song, “Space Oddity”, reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969.

After a three-year period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, spearheaded by the hit single “Starman” and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie’s impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, “challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture”. The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved to be one facet of a career marked by reinvention, musical innovation and visual presentation. Continue reading David Bowie 1/2016

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Lemmy Kilmister 12/2015

lemmy kilmister2015 – Lemmy Kilmister was born Ian Fraser Kilmister on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1945 in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. When Lemmy was three months old, his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain, separated from his mother. His mother and grandmother moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, then to Madeley. When Lemmy was 10, his mother married former footballer George Willis, who already had two older children from a previous marriage, Patricia and Tony, with whom Lemmy did not get along.

The family moved to a farm in Benllech on Anglesey, with Lemmy later commenting on his time there, that “funnily enough, being the only English kid among 700 Welsh ones didn’t make for the happiest time, but it was interesting from an anthropological point of view.”

Continue reading Lemmy Kilmister 12/2015

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Bruce Rowland 6/2015

bruce-rowlandJune 29, 2015 – Bruce Rowland (Joe Cocker/Fairport Convention) was born at Park Royal, Middlesex on May 22 1941 and spent some of his early professional life as a drum teacher. According to Dave Pegg, the bass guitarist and singer in Fairport Convention, Rowland taught the young Phil Collins how to play the drums.

In 1968, Rowland played on the Wynder K Frog album Out of the Frying Pan and the following year he joined the Grease Band, Joe Cocker’s backing group. It was with Cocker that he was able to reveal his talent for rock drumming.

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James Last 6/2015

James Last & OrchestraJune 9, 2015 – James Last was born Hans Last on April 17, 1929 in Bremen Germany, the third son for Louis and Martha Last, and christened Hans. His father, a post-office worker, was a keen amateur musician, competent on both drums and bandoneon. He learned to play piano as child, and bass as a teenager. He joined Hans-Gunther Oesterreich’s Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra in 1946, when he was 17 years old.

The brothers Last, Robert, Werner and young Hans, enjoyed their game of street football and so father Louis was pleased when all three expressed more than just an passing interest in music.

By the age of nine, young Hans could play “Hanschen Klein”, a German folk song on the piano, but his first music teacher, a lady, claimed at the age of ten he was totally unmusical. A year or so later with tutor number two, a gentleman, things started to happen. At the age of fourteen Hans was off to military school in Frankfurt where he studied brass, piano and tuba.

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Errol Brown 5/2015

Errol BrownMay 6, 2015 – Errol Brown was born on December 11, 1943 in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved with his family, to the UK when he was twelve years old. In the late 60s, Errol and his friend Tony Wilson formed a band which was first called ‘Hot Chocolate Band’ but this was soon shortened to Hot Chocolate by Mickie Most.

Hot Chocolate started their recording career making a reggae version of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”, but Errol was told he needed permission. He was contacted by Apple Records, discovered that Lennon liked his version, and the group was subsequently signed to Apple Records. The link was short-lived as The Beatles were starting to break up, and the Apple connection soon ended. But it was in the disco era of the mid-1970s when Hot Chocolate became a big success.

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Craig Gruber 5/2015

craig-gruberMay 5, 2015 – Craig Gruber was born on June 15, 1951. In the early 1970s he started his bass career with a band called Elf, which released three albums before the key members joined ex-Deep Purple lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in his newly formed band Rainbow in mid-1975.

Gruber played on Rainbow’s first album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Soon after the album was released, Blackmore fired everyone except vocalist Dio. Gruber was then in the early recording sessions on Black Sabbath‘s Heaven and Hell album, co-writing “Die Young,” until Geezer Butler heard Dio, and returned to the band.

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Jack Ely 4/2015

Jack ElyApril 28, 2015 – Jack Ely was born on September 11, 1943 in Portland, Oregon near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Both of his parents were music majors at the University of Oregon, and his father, Ken Ely, was a singer. His father died when he was four years old and his mother subsequently remarried.

Ely began playing piano while still a young child, and was performing recitals all over the Portland area before his seventh birthday. When he was eleven, a piano teacher provided what he termed “jazz improvisation lessons.” The teacher would show Ely a section of a classical composition, and the boy would have to make up 15 similar pieces. He would be required to share each in class and then make up one on the spot.

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Percy Sledge 4/2015

percy_sledgeApril 14, 2015 – Percy Sledge was born in Leighton, Alabama on November 25th 1940. While growing up he would sing in church on Sundays. As a teenager he worked on several farms in the fields before taking a job as an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama.

Through the mid 1960s, he toured the Southeast with the Esquires Combo on weekends, while working at the hospital during the week. A former patient introduced him to record producer Quin Ivy, who signed Percy to a recording contract.

Sledge’s soulful voice was perfect for the series of soul ballads produced by Ivy and Marlin Greene, which rock critic Dave Marsh called “emotional classics for romantics of all ages”.

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Dave Ball 4/2015

Dave BallApril 1, 2015 – Dave Ball was born on March 30th 1950 in Birmingham, England. He was the youngest of three sons from a musical Birmingham family. “We were born show-offs and broke into a routine at the slightest excuse,” he said of his adolescence strumming a guitar alongside Pete and Denny. All three brothers played in various groups in Germany before teaming up with the drummer Cozy Powell to back Ace Kefford, formerly of The Move, and then forming Big Bertha in 1969.

Replacing Robin Trower in Procol Harum in 1970, he can be heard on the group’s live album, Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, but left late during the recordings for their 1973 album Grand Hotel, in Sept 1972. “I was getting bored,” he said in an interview. “There were only so many ideas I could put into that style.” Continue reading Dave Ball 4/2015

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Bruce Crump 3/2015

Bruce CrumpMarch 16, 2015 – Bruce Crump, Jr. (Molly Hatchett) was born on July 17th 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1976 he became a member of southern rock band Molly Hatchet, appearing on their most successful albums: 1978’s ‘Molly Hatchet’, 1979’s double-platinum ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’, 1980’s ‘Beatin’ The Odds’ and 1981’s ‘Take No Prisoners’, and playing on hit singles such as “Flirtin’ With Disaster”, “The Rambler”, “Power Play” and “Satisfied Man”.

Crump was a member of Molly Hatchet from 1976, through the turn of the ’90s – save for a brief absence around 1983. He got into the band, Crump once said, almost by accident as a kid in the Jacksonville, Fla., area.

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Jim McCann 3/2015

Jim McCannMarch 4, 2015 – Jim McCann, Irish guitarist and singer, was born in Dublin on October 26th 1944. He dropped out of University College Dublin where he was studying medicine, when he became interested in folk music during a 1964 summer in Birmingham, UK. He began to perform in folk clubs in the area, and, upon his return to Dublin, he joined a group called the Ludlow Trio in 1965. They had an Irish No.1 hit 1966, with “The Sea Around Us”, but the band broke up the following year.

Jim began a solo career, releasing an album, McCann and making several appearances on several folk programs for Telefis Éireann.

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Jimmy Greenspoon 3/2015

Jimmy GreenspoonMarch 11, 2015 – Jimmy Greenspoon aka Maestro was born on February 7, 1948 in Los Angeles and raised in Beverly Hills. He was taught the piano at aged 7 by his mother, the silent screen star, Mary O’Brien. While a senior at school he formed a surf group The New Dimensions, in 1963, before attending the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to studiy piano. Jimmy worked on the Sunset Strip in the 1960s with the groups Sound of the Seventh Son and The East Side Kids. His bands held residence at The Trip, Stratford on Sunset later The House Of Blues, Brave New World, Bidos Litos, Ciros, and The Whiskey.

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Lesley Sue Gore 2/2015

Lesley GoreFebruary 16, 2015 – Lesley Sue Gore was born Lesley Sue Goldstein on May 2, 1946 in Brooklyn, New York City into a middle-class Jewish family, the daughter of Leo and Ronny Gore.

Her father was the owner of Peter Pan, a children’s swimwear and underwear manufacturer and later became a leading brand licensing agent in the apparel industry. She was raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, a little distance from the George Washington Bridge and was a junior at the Dwight School for Girls in nearby Englewood when “It’s My Party” became a number one hit. The song was eventually nominated for a Grammy Award for rock and roll recording. It sold over one million copies and was certified as a gold record.

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Joe B Mauldin 2/2015

Joe B.MauldinFebruary 7, 2015- Joe B Mauldin (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) was born on July 8th 1940 as Joseph Benson Mauldin, Jr. in Lubbock, Texas. Mauldin began studying stand-up bass in 1954 after borrowing one from his school.

He started his musical journey playing in a local band called The Four Teens with a young Terry Noland in 1955, before joining Buddy Holly’s Crickets in ’57. Their first hit record was “That’ll Be the Day”, released in 1957. The single became No.1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in Billboard magazine, which was followed by hits such as “Peggy Sue”, “Not Fade Away”and “Rave On” .

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Kim Fowley 1/2015

Kim FowleyJanuary 15, 2015 – Kim Fowley was born into an acting family in Los Angeles on July 21st 1939 and attended the University High School at the same time as singers Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Johnston, as well as actors Ryan O’Neal, James Brolin and Sandra Dee. In 1957, he was diagnosed suffering with polio but, and after realize from treatment  became manager and publicist for a local band The Sleepwalkers which included Bruce Johnston, drummer Sandy Nelson and, occasionally, Phil Spector. In his early days he worked in various capacities for both Alan Freed and Berry Gordy. His first record as producer was “Charge” by The Renegades.

He also worked on occasion as a recording artist in the 1960s, with Gary S. Paxton, he recorded the novelty song “Alley Oop”, which reached No. 1 on the charts in 1960 and he was credited to the non-existent group The Hollywood Argyles.

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Dozy Ward-Davies 1/2015

DozyJanuary 13, 2015 –  Dozy Ward-Davies was born November 27th 1944 in Enford, Wiltshire, England. In the late 1950s, all of 15 years old, he lead a semi professional local rock band called the Beatnicks, before he becoming the founding member of the band, Dave Dee and the Bostons in 1961. They changed their name to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, when they gained a recording contract with Fontana Records.

They first entered the UK charts in December 1965 with You Make it Move. A string of hits followed including Hold Tight!, Bend It! and Save Me and a UK number one single with the whip-cracking Legend of Xanadu, in 1968.

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Tim Drummond 1/2015

tim drummondJanuary 10, 2015 – Tim Drummond  was born on  April 20, 1940 in Canton Illinois. Journeyman bassist Tim Drummond, who performed with Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Bob Dylan among many more rock legends, passed away January 10th, 2015 the St. Louis County, Missouri coroner’s office confirmed to Rolling Stone. No cause of death was given but investigators revealed there was no trauma.

In his early years Drummond performed and recorded with country and R&B stars in the 1960s in South Carolina, Illinois and, later in the decade, Cincinnati, Ohio. He played rockabilly with Conway Twitty, funk with James Brown and vintage R&B with Hank Ballard before moving to Nashville where he played on sessions with Joe Simon, Fenton Robinson, Jimmy Buffett and Charlie Daniels, among others.

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Popsy Dixon 1/2015

Willy Popsy DixonJanuary 9, 2015 – Willie Popsy Dixon was born Willie Leonard Dixon in Virginia Beach, Virginia on July 26, 1942.

He was reared by an aunt and uncle. When he was 3, they moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. He grew up in a Pentecostal church, which did much to influence his music, and he attended a Pentecostal boarding school in Tennessee.

“He started playing the drums in church when he was 4 years old,” said his daughter, Desiree Berry of Brooklyn. “My grandfather and a deacon in the church showed him how, and he picked up fast.”

Continue reading Popsy Dixon 1/2015

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Joe Cocker 12/2014

cocker 500December 22, 2014 – John Robert Joe Cocker was born in Sheffield, England on May 20, 1944.

When a Joe Cocker song came on the airwaves, you instantly knew it was Joe Cocker. He was known for his rasping voice, after he rose to fame with his cover of the Beatles song With a Little Help from My Friends, which went to No 1 in 1968. Cocker was “without a doubt the greatest rock/soul voice ever to come out of Britain – and remained the same man throughout his life. Hugely talented, a true star, but a kind and humble man who loved to perform. Anyone who ever saw him live will never forget him.”

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Rick Rosas 11/2014

 rick-the-bass-player-rosasNovember 6, 2014 – Rick Rosas  (“Rick the Bass Player”) was born in West Los Angeles, Ca. on September 10th 1949. He came up through the ranks of remarkable players as a studio musician and went on to be one of the most sought after session musicians.

In the early 1980s he met Joe Walsh through drummer Joe Vitale and later played on Walsh’s 1985 album, The Confessor.

Rosas also joined Walsh for a short-lived stint in Australia as a member of the Creatures from America, that also featured Waddy Wachtel on guitar and Richard Harvey on drums. He also toured with Dan Fogelberg in 1985. In December 1986, the Walsh band joined Albert Collins and Etta James for the a Jazzvisions taping called “Jump the Blues Away.”

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Paul Revere 10/2014

Paul RevereOctober 4, 2014 – Paul Revere was born Paul Revere Dick on January 7, 1938 in Harvard, Nebraska, and grew up in Boise, Idaho.

In his early 20s, he owned several burger restaurants in Caldwell, but in 1958 at the age of 20, he also had formed a group called The Downbeats; it was an instrumental band before he recruited singer Mark Lindsay, then changed the name to Paul Revere & The Raiders in 1960.
As their frontman, keyboardist, he became “The madman of rock and roll” for over 56 years.

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Tommy Ramone 7/2014

July 11, 2014 – Tommy Ramone (The Ramones) was born Erdélyi Tamás on January 29, 1949 in Budapest, Hungary. The drummer was the last of the original band member of the Ramones. He was born to Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust by being hidden by neighbours, although many of his relatives were victims of the Nazis.

The family left Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In 1957, he emigrated with his family to the United States. Initially settling in the South Bronx, the family moved up to the middle-class suburb of Forest Hills in Queens, New York, where Tamás grew up. He changed his name to Thomas Erdelyi. While in high school, he and guitarist Johnny Cummings, who later became Johnny Ramone, performed together in a garage band called the Tangerine Puppets.

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Ed Gagliardi 5/2014

ed-gagliardiMay 11, 2014 – Ed Gagliardi was born February 13th 1952 in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1976 Gagliardi became bass player for the half-British, half-American original lineup of Foreigner that also included founder Mick Jones, Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood, Ian McDonald and Dennis Elliott. Originally named Trigger, the band was signed to Atlantic Records at the urging of A&R executive John Kalodner leading to the release of their debut album, Foreigner, in March of 1977. That album established them as a major force with top twenty hits Feels Like the First TimeCold as Ice and Long, Long Way From Home.

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Paul Goddard 4/2014

Paul GoddardApril 29, 2014 – Paul Goddard (ARS) was born on June 3rd 1945.

The southern rock band the Atlanta Rhythm Section was formed in 1971 by musicians who were former members of the Candymen and the Classics IV, which had become the session band for the newly opened Studio One in Doraville, Georgia, near Atlanta in 1970.

After playing on other artists’ recordings, they decided to become a true band in their own right. The original lineup consisted of vocalist Rodney Justo, guitarist Barry Bailey, bassist Paul Goddard, keyboardist Dean Daughtry, and drummer Robert Nix.

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Jesse Winchester 4/2014

Jesse WinchesterApril 11, 2014 – James Ridout “Jesse” Winchester was born in Bossier City, Louisiana on May 17th 1944.  He had 10 years of piano lessons, played organ in church and picked up guitar after hearing rockabilly, blues and gospel on Memphis radio.

During the height of the Vietnam War in 1967 he moved to Canada, where he began his career as a solo artist. After he became a Canadian citizen in 1973, he gained amnesty in the U.S. in 1977, but did not resettle there until 2002.

Winchester was born at Barksdale Army Air Field and raised in northern Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, where he graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1962 as a merit finalist, a National Honor Society member and the salutatorian of his class. He graduated from Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1966. Upon receiving his draft notice the following year, Winchester moved to Montreal, Canada, to avoid military service. “I was so offended by someone’s coming up to me and presuming to tell me who I should kill and what my life was worth,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. “I didn’t see going to a war I didn’t believe was just, or dying for it,“ he said in an interview with No Depression magazine, expressing a viewpoint most intelligent people harbored.

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Joe Lala 3/2014

Joe-LalaMarch 18, 2014Joe Lala  (Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young) was born on November 3rd 1947 in Ybor City and raised in Florida’s Tampa area.

He started out playing the drums in several Florida bands, before forming the band Blues Image. He also occasionally sang lead vocals, most notably on the song “Leaving My Troubles Behind”.

As a drummer and percussionist, he worked with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Manassas, The Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, Joe Walsh, Andy Gibb and many others. He played the trademark congas that drove the Bee Gees’ 1976 US chart-topper You Should Be Dancing, subsequently included on the multi-million selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Lala provided the wide selection of percussive effects on Barbra Streisand’s 1980 worldwide No. 1 album Guilty, and contributed to Whitney Houston’s eponymous 1985 debut album. Throughout his career, Lala accumulated 32 gold records and 28 platinum records.

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Bunny Rugs 2/2014

BunnyRugsFebruary 2, 2014 – Bunny Rugs (Third World) aka Bunny Scott was born William Clarke on February 2nd 1948 in Mandeville, Jamaica and raised in the capital of Kingston. In the mid 60s he joined Charlie Hackett and the Souvenirs, the resident band at the Kitty Club on Maxfield Avenue, before leading the early lineup of Inner Circle in 1969. In 1971 he did a stint in New York where he was a member of the dance band Hugh Hendricks and the Buccaneers and the Bluegrass Experience.

He returned to Jamaica in 1974 and recorded with Lee “Scratch” Perry, initially as a backing singer, then with Leslie Kong’s nephew Ricky Grant as the duo Bunny & Ricky. They released singles such as “Freedom Fighter” and “Bushweed Corntrash”.

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Fergie Frederiksen 1/2014

fergie-frederiksenJanuary 18, 2014 – Dennis Hardy “Fergie” Frederiksen was born May 15th, 1951, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

He started his musical career at the age of 13 and he played clubs and pubs at the age of 15 with a group called the Common People. In 1975, while attending college at Central Michigan, he was asked by his friend Tommy Shaw to replace him as the lead vocalist for the band MSFunk, as Shaw was leaving to join Styx.

The band went on to tour with Styx and Heart, where Dennis began performing his trademark back-flips during live shows to fire up crowds. Frederiksen was with MSFunk for a year before disbanding in 1976. While living in Chicago, he helped form a local progressive rock band called Trillion with keyboardist Patrick Leonard. Trillion’s debut album was released in 1978 and was produced by Gary Lyons (producer of Foreigner’s debut album); all but one of its nine tracks were co-written by Frederiksen. The band went on to tour with Styx and Heart, where Frederiksen began performing his trademark back-flips during live shows to fire up crowds, a gimmick he would continue with later bands. Frederiksen would leave the group after one album, and was replaced by Thom Griffin.

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Jay Traynor 1/2014

Jay and the AmericansJanuary 2, 2014 – John “Jay” Traynor was born on March 30th 1943 in Brooklyn New York. He was a lead vocalist of the Mystics, singing falsetto on “The White Cliffs of Dover” and lead on “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Blue Star”.

The foundation of what would become Jay and the Americans was laid in 1959, when two teenagers named Kenny Vance and Sandy Deane formed a doo-wop style group called “The Harbourlites“. After a couple of failed recordings, Sandy began looking for a stronger lead singer. As fate would have it, John “Jay” Traynor, a stand-in singer with a group called “The Mystics” was looking for another band and since the two groups shared Jim Gribble as manager, the three got together, adding a fourth member, Howie Kane.

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Bob Allison 11/2013

Bob AllisonNovember 24, 2013 –  Bob Allison was born Bernard Colin Day on February 2nd 1941 in the UK. He became a pop singer and one half of the duo The Allisons, who were marketed as being brothers, using the surname of Allison. Both Bob and John were born in Wiltshire and started harmonizing very early on in life.

The Allisons represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Festival in 1961 with the song “Are You Sure?”. They came second with 24 points and the song spent 16 weeks in the top 40 (six weeks at No. 2 and a further three weeks in the top 4), and became a solid million copy seller.

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Jan Kuehnemund 10/2013

Vixen performing at The Hard Rock Hell Winter Ball held at Butlins Somerwest World in MineheadOctober 10, 2013 – Jan Kuehnemund (Vixen) was born on November 18th 1961 in St.Paul Minnesota.  She was the original founding member of the all-female American hard rock band Vixen in 1973.

In 1981 she moved the entire band to California to get better exposure. Hailed as “the female Bon Jovi”, the band achieved commercial success during the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of the Los Angeles, California glam metal scene and Kuehnemund was called “the best female guitarist around” back in the day.

She toured with the Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Bon Jovi, as did an appearance in the era’s definitive documentary, Penelope Spheeris’ “The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years.

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Alan Myers 6/2013

alan-myersJune 24, 2013 – Alan Myers (Devo) was born in 1955 in Akron, Ohio, USA. He joined the band Devo in 1976, replacing Jim Mothersbaugh. His distinctive style ultimately made him one of the most influential drummers of his generation and his angular playing proved so precise on Devo’s most beloved classics, his beats were frequently mistaken for a drum machine.

He was also an actor, known for Human Highway (1982), We’re All Devo (1983) and Urgh! A Music War (1981). Myers was the third and most prominent drummer of the band when he joined in 1976 to replace Jim Mothersbaugh.

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Pickford Hopkins 6/2013

gary-pickford-hopkinsJune 22, 2013 – Gary Pickford-Hopkins was born in 1948 in Abergarwed near Neath Wales. He attended the Alderman Davies Church and was a member of the Church Choir. After graduation Gary’s first job was as an apprentice painter.

His musical career started as frontman for the Vern Davies Band and as a 16 year old, he was a member of a local band called Smokestacks, made up of musicians from Neath and Port Talbot. After a couple of years, the band broke up and Gary joined the popular band The Eyes of Blue.
The band played at clubs and halls throughout South Wales and they went on to win the Melody Maker Battle of the Bands in 1966, of which the first prize was a recording contract.

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Trevor Bolder 5/2013

trevor-bolderMay 21, 2013 – Trevor Bolder (Uriah Heep) was born on 9 June 1950 in Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, England. His father was a trumpet player and other members of his family were also musicians. He played cornet in the school band and was active in his local R&B scene in the mid 1960s. Inspired by The Beatles, in 1964 he formed his first band with his brother while taking up the bass guitar.

In his teens he took the direction followed by many other young males of his generation and switched to the guitar, at which time he formed The Chicago Star Blues Band with his brother. Stints in other Hull-based bands like Jelly Roll and Flesh came later, with Bolder eventually trading in his guitar for an electric bass; meanwhile, food was kept on the table through a series of day jobs that ranged from hairdresser to piano tuner. He first came to local prominence in The Rats, which also featured fellow Hull musician Mick Ronson on lead guitar.

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Ray Manzarek 5/2013

Ray Manzarek-doors May 20May 20, 2013  – Ray Manzarek Jr.  was the architect of The Doors’ intoxicating sound. His evocative keyboard playing fused rock, jazz, blues, classical and an array of other styles into something utterly, dazzlingly new, and his restless artistic explorations continued unabated for the rest of his life.

He was born on February 12, 1939 to Polish immigrants Helena and Raymond Manczarek and grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and was introduced to the piano at the tender age of seven.

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Chrissy Amphlett 4/2013

The Divinyls

April 21, 2013 – Chrissy Amphlett was born on October 25, 1959. She grew up in Geelong, Australia as a singer and dancer and left home as a teenager to travel around England, France and Spain where she was imprisoned for three months for singing on the streets.

In 1976, Amphlett played the role of Linda Lips in the R-rated musical Let My People Come. In 1980 back in Australia, Amphlett met Mark McEntee at a concert at the Sydney Opera House in 1980 and they formed Divinyls with Jeremy Paul (Air Supply).

After several years performing in Sydney, they recorded several songs for the film Monkey Grip, in which Amphlett also acted. Amphlett made her film debut in Monkey Grip (1982) in a supporting role as the temperamental lead singer of a rock band. Monkey Grip’s author, Helen Garner, claimed that the film’s director preferred Amphlett in the role of Jane Clifton as “Clifton was neither good looking enough or a good enough singer to play herself.”

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George Jackson 4/2013

george jacksonApril 14, 2013 – George Jackson was born on March 12th 1945 in Indianola, Mississippi and moved with his family to Greenville at the age of five. He sang southern soul from the 1960s into the 1980s. As a writer, he provided scores of songs for Goldwax and Fame in the 1960s and Hi and Sounds Of Memphis in the 1970s. As a singer, he had a versatile tenor that was influenced by Sam Cooke, and released many records over the years, for a host of different labels, but his recordings never made him a star.

His songwriter relationship with Malaco Records, however saw him pen material for dozens of artists, such as “One Bad Apple” for the Osmonds, “Old Time Rock & Roll” for Bob Seeger and “The Only Way Is Up”, which became a UK No.1 for Yazz and Coldcut, having been written originally for Otis Clay.

Jackson recorded dozens of singles in the 1960s but made his mark as a writer, beginning with FAME Studios. He later was a songwriter for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. When Malaco bought Muscle Shoals Sound, they hired Jackson to write songs.

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Don Blackman 4/2013

Don BlackmanApril 11, 2013 – Don Blackman was born on September 1st 1953 in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

A childhood neighbor was Charles McPherson, and while still a teenager (15) he played in McPherson’s ensemble with Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. At the beginning of the 1970s, he played electric piano with Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Roy Ayers, before becoming a member of Lenny White’s group Twennynine, for whom he penned songs such as “Peanut Butter” and “Morning Sunrise”, key pieces in Jamaica Queens’ ’70s’ jazz-funk explosion.

He released his self-titled debut solo album in 1982 on Arista Records, including the songs “Holding You, Loving You”, “Heart’s Desire” and “Since You’ve Been Away So Long” that became minor hits in Europe.

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Reg Presley 2/2013

The TroggsFebruary 4, 2013 – Reg Presley (The Troggs) was born Reginald Maurice Ball on 12 June 1941, was  the lead singer with the 1960s British rock and roll band The Troggs, whose best known hit was “Wild Thing”, written by actor Jon Voight’s brother Wes (James Wesley) who went by the stage name Chip Taylor.

Presley, whose stage name was given to him in 1965 by the New Musical Express journalist and publicist Keith Altham, was born in Andover, Hampshire He joined the building trade on leaving school and became a bricklayer. He kept at this occupation until “Wild Thing” reached the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart in 1966.

Wild Thing made it to no.2 in England, but reached no.1 in the US as it sold 13 million copies worldwide. Presley then wrote the band’s only UK number one single with the follow-up “With a Girl Like You”. He also wrote the song “Love Is All Around”, which was featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Other hits from their short-lived career (1965-1968) were ‘ I can’t control myself’ and ‘Anyway that you want me’.

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John Wilkinson 1/2013

John-WilkinsonJanuary 11, 2013 – John Wilkinson was born on July 3rd 1945 in Springfield, Missouri.

John was drawn to music very early. At the age of 10, he famously sneaked into Elvis Presley’s dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, telling Elvis, “you can’t play guitar worth a damn.” Elvis was amused and impressed with the kid and predicted they would meet again. They did. After playing in a high school band with his classmates called, “The Coachmen,” John went on to make a name for himself as a folk and country singer and guitar player.

He traveled around the country playing with such groups as , The Goodtime Singers, Greenwood County Singers, and The New Christy Minstrels.

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Sugarfoot Bonner 1/2013

leroy-bonnerJanuary 27, 2013 – Sugarfoot Bonner was born Leroy on March 14th 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Cincinnati, the oldest of 14 children. He ran away from home as a young teenager and played the harmonica on street corners for change.

He joined the The Ohio Untouchables when they regrouped in 1964. Leroy’s rip-it-up guitar work and taste for something funky the band went on to become The Ohio Players, with Leroy as their front man, lead singer and guitarist.

Their first big hit single “Funky Worm”, reached No.1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1973. Other hits followed, including “Who’d She Coo?” and their double No.1 hit songs “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire” in January 1976.

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Huw
Lloyd Langton
12/2012

Huw Lloyd Langdon6 December 2012 – Huw Lloyd-Langton was born Richard Hugh Lloyd-Langton on 6 February 1951 in Harlesden, North London.

He started playing guitar at school, self styled and talented. In the course of those formative years in rock and roll he learned to read and write music and after high school graduation he moved to Germany where he got his first professional gig with a rather popular touring band called WINSTON G, which alternated gigs between Holland and Germany. He toured with them continuously for 6 months. The bass player was Pete Becket who later played with Player and Little Feat.

Back in England in 1969 he joined Hawkwind on their debut album in 1970.  He remained with them for next 2 1/2 years recording their first 2 LP’s, which sell regularly to this day. He left them after an illness in late 1971, and although he occasionally joined them he did not return full time until 1979 when their LP ‘LIVE 79’ went straight into the top 10 UK charts.

The rest of the Seventies showed him in a variety of gigs. A 2-year acoustic stint in vegetarian London restaurant PASTURES. John Butler DIESEL PARK WEST’S singer joined him for 6 months and Eddy Klima, RATTLES singer for another year. He taught guitar at a comprehensive school in Streatham for a year and did numerous sessions, one included writing the music for a cartoon, narrated by Viv Stanshall of the BONZO DOG DOO DA BAND and 6 months with LEO SAYER touring the UK & Europe.

Several band situations including working with John Lingwood MANFRED MANN’S long standing Drummer; AMON DIN with Dave Anderson AMON DUL’S bass player; GALLERY with Rob Rawlinson on Bass from Ian Hunters OVERNIGHT ANGELS; MAGILL with Pete Scott from SAVOY BROWN and he toured Yugoslavia with ALEKZANDER JOHN (known as Alekzander Mezek) who was one of their top rock performers. Another excellent band was the Trinidadian Band BATTI MAMSELLE, whose music had a strong Latin American influence with lead singer LONDON BEAT’S Jimmy Chambers. They appeared in briefly in the film ‘Alfie Darling’ starring Alan price. The Director wanted an all black band but they refused to perform without Huw.

From 1974 to 1978 he joined WIDOMAKER touring the USA and recording 2 LPs, which charted there. Lineup included Steve Ellis- LOVE AFFAIR, Aerial Bender- MOTT THE HOOPLE, Bob Daisley-RAINBOW, Paul Nicholls LINDISFARNE and ‘John Butler ‘, again)!

In 1979 he rejoined HAWKWIND where he remained for the next 10 years. Their LP ‘LIVE 79 went straight in the top 10 UK charts. Everything Hawkwind did between 1979 and 1985 was either in the pop, heavy metal or independent charts. In 1982 Huw formed LLOYD LANGTON GROUP (LLG) to gig between HAWKWIND quiet periods. LLG has 2 singles and 2 LPs in Heavy Metal charts during 80s. During this period he had his own column in GUITARIST magazine for 6 months titled ‘Langton’s Lead Lines’.

Between 1989 and the end of the 90s Huw joined the PRETTY THINGS on one European tour. Toured Italy in ’93 with DR BROWN who had 2 independent hits there. Toured the UK several times with LLG. In the spring of ’95 he toured Sweden with Ray Majors, MOTT THE HOOPLES last guitarist.

September 2000 Huw rejoined Hawkwind for ‘Hawkestra Re-Union’ gig at Brixton Academy. This sell-out show featured 21 past members, including Lemmy. However, the main nucleus on stage throughout was Dave Brock, Alan Davey, Richard chadwick and Huw Lloyd-Langton.

Huw officially rejoined Hawkwind in 2001. They played their first major Tour in the UK since 1977 playing 18-dates nation-wide in November 2001. They kicked-off at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 10th October. Huw contracted ‘Legionnaires Disease’ on this tour and was hospitalized. This left him extremely fragile. Hawkwind toured UK again December 2002 but Huw was unable to complete the last two dates as he suffered ill health on and off over next few years with a variety of broken bones (mainly arms and wrists).

He continued to make guest appearances with Hawkwind and played solo support slots on tour.

In August 2009, Huw played an acoustic set at Hawkwind’s 40th anniversary concert at Porchester Hall, in London.

One of the world’s longest-running bands, Hawkwind have undergone countless changes of personnel and musical styles over the years. Former members and collaborators include Motorhead’s Lemmy, science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, and ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

Huw’s health had been generally poor for a decade and he was quite frail, with several broken bones and minor injuries (rarely letting fans down though – he once played a gig with a broken arm, reworking his solos on the fly so that he could play them in one area of the guitar neck).

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2010 he died at his home on 6 December 2012, aged 61. His final recording with Hawkwind was a re-recording of Master of the Universe for the compilation album Spacehawks.

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Cass
Cassidy
12/2012

ed cassidyDecember 6, 2012 – Edward Claude “Cass” Cassidy was born Harvey, Illinois, a rural area outside Chicago, on May 4, 1923. His family moved to Bakersfield, California in 1931. Cassidy began his career as a professional musician in 1937. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and after his discharge held many jobs before becoming a full-time musician again. At one time in the late 1940s, Cassidy played 282 consecutive one-nighters in 17 states. He worked in show bands, Dixieland, country and western bands, and on film soundtracks, as well as having a brief stint with the San Francisco Opera.

Way back when rock ’n’ roll was countercultural — before the members of the Rolling Stones were anywhere close to 50 years old, much less celebrating their 50th anniversary together — the genre tended to emphasize rather than bridge generational divides.

So when the experimental group Spirit formed in the late 1960s, it was different not just for the way it fused jazz and rock, or the way it mixed psychedelia with a particularly tight backbeat. It was also different because its drummer was the 44-year-old stepfather of its 16-year-old guitarist, Randy California.

By the time Spirit formed in 1967, Mr. Cassidy had already had a notable and diverse musical career. He had played with jazz musicians including Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Cannonball Adderly and had formed a folk-blues group with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder called the Rising Sons.

While Cassidy was performing with other adults, his young stepson, Randy Wolfe, was becoming a fine musician himself. He impressed Jimi Hendrix when they met in a music store in Manhattan, and it was Hendrix who gave Randy the nickname he went by for the rest of his life, Randy California to distinguish him from bass player Randy Texas (Palmer). Hendrix wanted tot take the kid to London, but that was thwarted by Cassidy and soon enough, stepfather and stepson were playing and touring together.

Spirit released more than a dozen albums from 1968 to 1996, but it was the first work that was the most influential and critically praised. Its biggest hit and only Top 40 single, “I Got a Line on You,” was released in 1968; the band was also celebrated for its adventurous 1970 album, “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.” That record included the song “Mr. Skin,” which was the nickname Mr. Cassidy’s fellow band members had given him in honor of his shaved head.

Bob Irwin, the president and owner of Sundazed Records, which has reissued many Spirit albums and also released previously unissued tracks, said the band’s early recording sessions were “kind of like a jazz history lesson” in which Mr. Cassidy nurtured his much younger colleagues.

“Ed always encouraged them to color outside the box, to take chances onstage, to play to the best of and beyond their abilities,” Mr. Irwin said.

Early reviews were usually complimentary, but critics were less positive several years later, after the band’s lineup changed. (Mr. Cassidy and Randy California remained its only constant members.) The critic Robert Palmer, writing in The New York Times in 1976, singled out Mr. Cassidy from what he said was an otherwise unimpressive performance.

“Mr. Cassidy’s drumming is still exceptional — his obligatory long solo at the end of the set was the subtlest, most musical part of the evening,” Mr. Palmer wrote.

Cassidy succumbed to cancer on Dec. 6, 2012 at age 89.

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Lou
Martin
8/2012

piano player with Rory Gallagher bandAugust 16, 2012 – Louis ‘Lou’ Martin was born on August 12, 1949 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

With very musically inclined parents, Martin started learning the piano at the age of six, and joined his first professional band, Killing Floor, in April or May 1968. In 1969 Martin and Stuart McDonald were recruited by 17-year-old Darryl Read who formed a band for Emperor Rosko’s brother (Jeff Pasternak) called Crayon Angels, which Read put together and played drums, while Rosko acted as manager.

Martin later left Killing Floor to play alongside blues guitar virtuoso Rory Gallagher, and is featured on several of Gallagher’s albums, including Blueprint, Tattoo, Irish Tour ’74, Against the Grain, Calling Card, Defender and Fresh Evidence. He also played rhythm guitar on one track, “Race the Breeze” from Blueprint.

After leaving Gallagher’s band, Martin and drummer Rod de’Ath formed Ramrod, after which Martin played with Downliners Sect and Screaming Lord Sutch, and also toured with Chuck Berry and Albert Collins.

Martin played in the Nickey Barclay band in London in the 1980s, alongside Barclay (ex-Fanny) on keyboards, with John Conroy (ex-Sam Mitchell Band) and Dave Ball on lead guitar (ex-Procol Harum). The band played across London on the blues rock circuit during the 1980s at venues such as The White Lion, Putney; The Star and Garter on Lower Richmond Road; The Golden Lion, Fulham and the Cartoon, Croydon.

Killing Floor released an album in 2004 named Zero Tolerance, on which Martin participated.

Lou died after a long period of illness including a battle with cancer and a number of strokes on August 16, 2012.

The following interview with Lou Martin was done by Markus Gygax, publisher of Deuce Quarterly for the issue 46 Feb. 1989 and gives a revealing picture of the life of a sideman in Rock and Roll.

Intro: Apart from Gerry MacAvoy, Lou Martin seems to be the most famous and most popular musician who has ever played in Rory’s band as you can gather from the more or less frequent polls in DEUCE; the letters that I get, as well as what the not-so-great-fans say about Rory’s music. Besides, Lou is the only one – what great news- who, after their split -up, joined the band once more to record an album (see Defender).

On the 20th of May, 1988, the Mick Clarke Band played Chur; it was also their first live performance with Lou Martin. It is true that Lou and Mick both played with the Killing Floor, the Ramrod and on the first two solo albums by Clarke. But they had never played live because they were just about to change the man on the keyboards.

In October 1988, the Mick Clarke band played a rather long Swiss and Austrian tour, which I have organized for them. On this tour, Lou Martin played as support, his only equipment was the piano and his vocals.

While being in Chur for four days with the band, Lou Martin talked about lots and lots of things. Lou was apparently enjoying the tour very much, probably because it was his first solo tour and therefore a special event. Unfortunately, we did not record any of the conversations we had during these days. Therefore I sent a written interview to Lou shortly after the concert, which he gave me back on my visit in London at the end of July 1988.

In my opinion, it is a most interesting interview a of a man who lives mainly for the music (he is also fond of flowers, dogs and cats). He has seen a lot in his life, he has got a quick eye for any kind of music, and it is always interesting to listen to what he tells you. It seems that giving interviews is an everyday routine for Lou, but you will see that he is not used to it at all. So now let’s hear what he has to say. Here is his very first interview for DEUCE;

MG- Lou, let’s start from the beginning. Where and when were you born?
LM- In Belfast, Northern Ireland on the 12th of August, 1949.

MG- As far as the music is concerned, were you influenced by your parents? Did you play any music at home?
LM- Yes, a lot. My father sang mainly operatic music, and my mother played the piano. We listened to the music all day, mainly classical music.

MG- When did you start to play the piano?
LM- At the age of six

MG- Who were the first people you played with?
LM- The first time I formed a band was at school. It was just for fun. Nothing serious. We played rock’n’roll, Shadows songs, rhythm & blues by Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, a few songs by the Animals, and almost everything which was in at that time.

MG- Did you do any kind of job before you started to be a professional?
LM- I intended to train for something, namely music teacher. But I think I was too infatuated with my own music.

MG- How many years have you worked as professional?
LM- This year, exactly 20 years

MG- When did you join Killing Floor?
LM- In April or May 1968. I saw their advertisement in MELODY MAKER and answered it.

MG- How come you didn’t play on the second Killing Floor album, Out of Uranus, but you name is mentioned on the cover just the same?
LM- At that time, I was not permanently in the band, so I played on only one song namely called Call for the Politicians. The producer wanted the keyboard sound far in the background; but he still wanted me to play somewhere.

MG- Who are your musical favourites?
LM- I am interested in many styles. I often listen to classical music, Beethoven, Brahms, Rachromicoff, often jazz, folk, Bob Dylan is one of my favourites, early rock, and of course, the blues.

MG- Who are your favourites on piano?
LM- Jerry Lee Lewis, Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Pete Johnson, Fats Waller, Dave Brubeck, Horace Silver, Ray Charles, Ramsey Lewis James etc.

MG- Do you write some of your songs?
LM- No, I just improvise known melodies and mix them somehow.

MG- Would you like to record an album?
LM- Sure, an album with a healthy mixture of my favourite styles and good musicians would be nice.

MG- Can you give me a list of your favourite LP’s?
LM- Oh, I could give you 200 titles. I will try it anyway, but I just cannot give you a sequence. There are Elvis Presley ( Vol.1 & 2, The Early Years), Carl Perkins, Little Richard (number 1 and 2), Jerry Lee Lewis (practically everything), Howlin’ Wolf (everything), Muddy Waters (everything), Bob Dylan (almost everything), Rolling Stones (almost everything), Chieftains (no.5), Dubliners (Revolution-album), John Fogerty (Rockin’ All over the World), John Mayall, etc.

MG- Now let’s talk about Rory. When did you first see him live?
LM- I saw him for the first time in 1968 at the Marquee Club in London, at that time with the first Taste setup, namely Eric Kitteringham and Norman Damery.

MG- When did you first meet him in person?
LM- It was sometime in 1971.

MG- How did you come to join Rory’s band?
LM- Rod De’ath, who was with the Killing Floor, just like me, substituted for Wilgar Campbell on the drums as everybody knows. Shortly afterwards, Rory asked me whether I would like to join them too.

MG- On the first album, Blueprint, you seem to play also on the guitar. On which songs?
LM- Only on one track, on Race the Breeze. I played the rhythm guitar. By the way, even nowadays, when I am at home, I play the guitar, even more often than I play the piano. Just to relax.

MG- Did you or other musicians in Rory’s band never give any interviews?
LM- We gave one in 1973 for New Musical Express. Gerry, Rod De’Ath and myself were interviewed. It would certainly have been great fun. But that guy was such an idiot. When the interview was published, everything had been misinterpreted. That cured us all. This one here is the second interview in my life, but this time I am convinced that you will publish what I have said.

MG- Otherwise, which were the best moments during the period in Rory’s band?
LM- Over the years, there had been so many marvelous live shows. It is impossible for me to pick out particular concerts because most concerts with Rory were marvelous. The very best memories are those of the gigs at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1976 or ’77 – even Bob Dylan got so enthusiastic over this shows that he came to see Rory in the dressing room after the concert- and all the shows we did during ’72 and ’76 in Belfast and Cork in Ireland.

MG- Are there any bad memories of the Rory era?
LM- If my memory does not fail me, there are hardly any bad memories. Except for some occasional trouble with the instruments there were not any. We were much more constant than other bands and this goes for Rory even nowadays.

MG- Which LP, do you think, is Rory’s best one, choosing from those on which you played? Which one, in your opinion, is his best of those you did not take part in?
LM- Of course I have my favourites -20:20 Vision on Tattoo is really nice. At the Bottom on Against the Grain has always been one of my favourites, then Banker’s Blues on Blueprint; I have still a great respect for the album, Calling Card. On this album, the band sounds incredibly compact. It has got a marvelous sound, fantastic songs. In my opinion, everything is perfect. Besides, I am happy with the version of Seven Days from the Defender album. Anyway, Defender is one of his very best LP’s.

MG: How did the surprising cooperation for the Defender LP come about?
LM: Rory rang me up and told me that he was going to record an acoustic blues track for his new album. He thought that my style would be good for the song. It took us one afternoon to get the track finished.

MG: In which country is Rory most popular?
LM: I am not able to tell you because I really don’t know. But I think his prestige throughout the world guarantees his success in every country.

MG: Did you change your attitude towards the Rory Gallagher Band before you became a permanent member and since you left the band?
LM: I always admired the band and I still do so now. Rory’s set-ups have always been great; he has always had excellent musicians with him.

MG: Before recording Defender, did Rory ever ask you to play on one of his other albums?
LM: No, he did not

MG: How was the situation when the split between Rod de’Ath and you happened?
LM: Very friendly

MG: Are you still in touch with each other?
LM: We meet each other occasionally, but our engagements make it sometimes difficult. The contact is still there, though. I think we are always glad to meet now and then.

MG: Have you ever had any contacts with other musicians of the Taste/Rory?
LM: I met most of them and had a good drink with them. I have never met Norman Damery, Eric Kittering ham and John Wilson.

MG: After the split, have you seen Rory live again?
LM: I am quite ashamed to admit that I never have. Just once I watched a TV show with Ted McKenna on the drums. But I do want to see Rory again, particularly when he plays Mark Feltham.

MG: Did you get any “precious metals’ for Rory’s albums on which you played?
LM: For Tattoo there was a gold disc, a silver disc each for Against the Grain and Irish Tour ’74. I hang them all in the front room if my house.

MG: Are Rory’s Irish tours so fantastic as it is described everywhere?
LM: Absolutely. Ireland is our home country. The enthusiasm and gratitude which we received on our Irish tours is indescribable. It is the most thankful audience in the world. Emotional and excellent concerts. I am sure that this is still the case nowadays when the band plays there.

MG: What do you think of the albums which Rory recorded with black artists such as Albert King and Muddy Waters?
LM: Excellent albums. These people are our roots.

MG: What did you do after the split with Rory?
LM: Rod De’Ath and I formed Ramrod. Then I tried to get solo engagements. Band wise, I did not do anything except a few sessions with Dowliner Sect and Screamin’ Lord Sutch. A few things with Mick Clarke. The Southside Blues band, sessions with Tommy Morrison, tours and concerts with Chuck Berry and Albert Collins.

MG: What are you doing at the moment?
LM: I have a flower shop on my own, which I run during the day. In the evenings, I have a permanent job with a West-end French restaurant where I am the bar pianist. It is near Leicester Square, Central London. Sessions happen occasionally.

MG: How did the co-operation with Chuck Berry come about?
LM: The London Capitol Radio announced that they were looking for two musicians for a Chuck Berry tour. A friend of mine, a musician, told me about it. I got in touch and go the job.

MG: How was the engagement with Albert Collins arranged?
LM: Again, a friend of mine, also a musician, gave me a ring and told me that Collins was looking for a pianist for his two shows in London. I played there and got the job.

MG: What about the Screamin’ Lord Sutch?
LM: We recorded an album, which was arranged by Rod De’Ath. Sutch’s old hits were being re-recorded for an LP which was planned to be put on the German market. Keith Grant (bass) and Terry Gibson (guitar), two old friends of mine, who played with the Dowliner Sect, were also there.

MG: What about the recordings of Gerry McAvoy’s solo album?
LM: All the recordings were organized by Gerry. They were recorded before and after I left the band. Most of the recordings were recorded live in the Bridge House, one of the best clubs at the end of the 70’s. At that time, there were many friends helping each other at concerts or studio sessions.

MG: What about Tommy Morrison? Is he a club performer in England or how would you describe him? I have never heard anything about him….
LM: Tommy is a good friends of Paul Rogers ( ex-Free/ Bad Company/ The Firm). Since Paul and I know each other, he asked me and Rod De’Ath whether we would like to record an LP with Tommy. I do not think Tommy has ever played live.

MG: How big, do you think, is the chance for a successful future for the Mick Clarke Band? Can you imagine a break-through of the band, similar to Vaughan’s, Thorogood’s?
LM: Mick and I have been very close friends for over 20 years. His development as a guitarist is most remarkable. In my opinion, he certainly ranks among the top musicians. His voice and stage performance have improved greatly. So why not?

MG: Is there the possibility of you becoming a permanent member of the band?
LM: I would like to spend as much time as possible with the band. But because of my engagements, it not possible just now. I would like to be more involved. Anyway, I play on the first two of the four albums by Clarke. If I had more time or if there were not so many engagements, I would not have to think twice.

MG: Which musicians did you do jam sessions with? Are there any hard rock bands among them?
LM: It is hard to remember everybody, but there were certainly a few sessions worth being remembered. For example, there was a very fine one in 1975 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Rory was there, Rod De’Ath and Gerry MacAvoy, Louisiana Red came, Harvey Brooks on bass, a West Coast veteran, who played on Mike Bloomfield’s LP’s. Besides, there was the whole brass band of Etta James. During an American tour there was a big encore with the Rory band and the Doobie Brothers. During a break in 1973 in Chicago, I played two days in Otis Rush’s band. At that time I saw lots of interesting people for the first time live, for example, Junior Wells, Phillip Guy, Mighty Joe Young……In 1968, we (killing Floor) played with Freddie King. There were hardly any hard rock musicians, no famous ones for that matter.

MG: Music wise, which moments do you consider the best?
LM: The first time I was live on stage with Freddie King and Rory, the gigs with Otis Rush, the shows with Albert Collins and Chuck Berry, then of course when I met Muddy Waters, the concert with the Mick Clarke Band in Chur was brilliant.

MG: Which was the best period?
LM: When I was with Rory, no doubt. Everybody in the band was improving incredibly fast because we played most nights and everywhere. In any case, I learnt most at that time.

MG: What did you enjoy more, to play live or in the studio? Which live performances did you enjoy most?
LM: I liked every band a lot. We always had a lot of fun on stage. There were so many fine gigs with Rory. And even though they were writing so many negative things about Chuck berry nowadays, I must say that at least every third gig with him was fantastic. As far as the studio is concerned, I usually played with Rory. But other studio recordings , too, were nice. Apart from Rory, it is probably Mick Clarke I like working with most.

MG: Which LP, in your opinion, is the best from those you played on?
LM: Calling Card, because of the way I play and also the whole feeling of the album. I would have liked to have made an LP with Chuck Berry because the group he had at that time was really great. I also like the two albums with Mick Clarke, particularly, Rock Me. It would be nice to get a gold disc for that one.

MG: Now, here is a quite different subject: What do you or other Rory band members think of fanclubs?
LM: No idea. Anyway, I think a good fanclub is important for 90% of the musicians. I do not think that it is smiled at. Probably there are many people who realize only now that there is a Rory fanclub and that the fanzines is really interesting. In any case, I like reading it.

MG: Apart from music, do you have any other hobbies?
LM: I’ll enjoy a good drink…..

MG: Here are a few questions which I am really interested in. Is it something special to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival?
LM: It is one of the most important jazz festivals in Europe. Beautiful setting and scenery.

MG: I would like to know what do you think of my favorite musicians. Here they are: Canned Heat, Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack, Taj Mahal, John Hammond and Tony McPhee’s Groundhogs.
LM: During all the years that I have been in the music scene, I have met musicians, either personally or at least I saw them live. Of course I have also collected their LP’s. My favorite if those you mentioned are John Hammond and Canned Heat. During one of Rory’s concerts in 1974 or 1975 in Canada, there was a session with John Hammond. Later we were joined by Freddie King. I also saw Taj Mahal live. However, I prefer his early works when he played more blues than he does now, Nowadays, Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack, as well as Tony McPhee’s Groundhogs play mainly the clubs in London. In general, their shows are still very good.

MG: Here comes my last question, which might also be quite interesting for our Deuce readers. What would you do if Rory asked you whether you would like to join the band again?
LM: If he really offered me this job, I would probably say yes. We have the same roots and he has certainly influenced me over the years.

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Jon
Lord
7/2012

July 16, 2012 – John Douglas “Jon” Lord ( Deep Purple/Whitesnake)  was born in Leicester, England on June 9th 1941 and retained a strong bond with the city throughout his life. His father was an amateur saxophone musician and encouraged Lord from an early age. There was an old upright piano in the house and Jon showed an early interest in the instrument so his parents enrolled him for formal piano lessons when he was seven. At nine he found another teacher, Frederick All, who gave recitals for the BBC and played the church organ. “He was a marvelous teacher”, says Lord. “He could impart a love of music to his students as well as teaching them to play it. He taught me to enjoy music and to want to play well.” Those influences were a recurring trademark in Jon’s work.

He attended Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys between 1952 and 1958 and then worked as a clerk in a solicitor’s office for two years, but was fired for taking too much time off work.

Lord absorbed the blues sounds that played a key part in his rock career, principally the raw sounds of the great American blues organists Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and “Brother” Jack McDuff (“Rock Candy”), as well as the stage showmanship of Jerry Lee Lewis and performers like Buddy Holly, whom he saw perform at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester in March 1958.

Lord moved to London in 1959–60, intent on an acting career and enrolling at the Central School of Speech and Drama, in London’s Swiss Cottage. Following a celebrated student rebellion he became a founder of Drama Centre London, from where he graduated in 1964. From here on his life became a Who’s Who in the early London years of the British Invasion and beyond.

Small acting parts followed, and Lord continued playing the piano and the organ in nightclubs and as a session musician to earn a living. He started his band career in London in 1960 with the jazz ensemble The Bill Ashton Combo. Ashton became a key figure in jazz education in Britain, creating what later became the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Between 1960 and 1963, Lord and Ashton both moved on to Red Bludd’s Bluesicians (also known as The Don Wilson Quartet), the latter of which featured the singer Arthur “Art” Wood, brother of guitarist Ronnie Wood. Wood had previously sung with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and was a junior figure in the British blues movement.

In this period, Lord altered the spelling of his name from his birth name “John” to “Jon” and his session credits included playing the keyboards in “You Really Got Me”, The Kinks number one hit of 1964, however in a Guitar World interview Ray Davies of The Kinks stated it was actually Arthur Greenslade playing piano on that particular track.

Following the break-up of Redd Bludd’s Bluesicians in late 1963, Wood, Lord, and the drummer Red Dunnage put together a new band, The Art Wood Combo. This also included Derek Griffiths (guitar) and Malcolm Pool (bass guitar). Dunnage left in December 1964 to be replaced by Keef Hartley, who had previously replaced Ringo Starr in Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. This band, later known as “The Artwoods”, focused on the organ as the bluesy, rhythmic core of their sound, in common with the contemporary bands The Spencer Davis Group (Steve Winwood on organ) and The Animals (with Alan Price). They made appearances on the BBC’s Saturday Club radio show and on such TV programs as Ready Steady Go!. It also performed abroad, and it appeared on the first Ready Steady Goes Live, promoting its first single the Lead Belly song “Sweet Mary” — but significant commercial success eluded it. Its only charting single was “I Take What I Want”, which reached number 28 on 8 May 1966.

The jazz-blues organ style of black R&B organ players in the 1950s and 1960s, using the trademark blues-organ sound of the Hammond organ (B3 and C3 models) and combining it with the Leslie speaker system (the well-known Hammond-Leslie speaker combination), were seminal influences on Lord. Lord also stated later that he was heavily influenced by the organ-based progressive rock played by Vanilla Fudge after seeing that band perform in Great Britain in 1967, and earlier by the personal direction he received from British organ pioneer Graham Bond.

The Artwoods regrouped in 1967 as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre“. This was an attempt to cash in on the 1930s gangster craze set off by the American film Bonnie and Clyde. Hartley left the band in 1967 to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Lord next founded the “Santa Barbera Machine Head”, featuring Art’s brother, Ronnie Wood, writing and recording three powerful keyboard-driven instrumental tracks, giving a preview of the future style of Deep Purple. Soon thereafter, Lord went on to cover for the keyboard player Billy Day in “The Flower Pot Men”, where he met the bass guitarist Nick Simper along with drummer Carlo Little and guitarist Ged Peck. Lord and Simper then toured with this band in 1967 to promote its hit single “Let’s Go To San Francisco”, but the two men never recorded with this band.

In early 1967, through his roommate Chris Curtis of the Searchers, Lord met businessman Tony Edwards who was looking to invest in the music business alongside partners Ron Hire and John Coletta (HEC Enterprises). Session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was called in and he met Lord for the first time, but Chris Curtis’s erratic behaviour led the trio nowhere. Edwards was impressed enough by Jon Lord to ask him to form a band after Curtis faded out. Simper was contacted, and Blackmore was recalled from Hamburg. Although top British player Bobby Woodman was the first choice as drummer, during the auditions for a singer, Rod Evans of “The Maze” came in with his own drummer, Ian Paice. Blackmore, who had been impressed by Paice’s drumming when he met him in 1967, set up an audition for Paice as well. The band was called the “Roundabout” at first and began rehearsals at Deeves Hall in Hertfordshire. By March 1968, this became the “Mark 1” line-up of “Deep Purple”: Lord, Simper, Blackmore, Paice, and Evans. Lord also helped form the band “Boz” with some of its recordings being produced by Derek Lawrence. “Boz” included Boz Burrell (later of King Crimson and Bad Company), Blackmore (guitar), Paice (drums), Chas Hodges (bass).

Lord pushed the Hammond-Leslie sound through Marshall amplification, creating a growling, heavy, mechanical sound which allowed Lord to compete with Blackmore as a soloist, with an organ that sounded as prominent as the lead guitar. Said one reviewer, “many have tried to imitate [Lord’s] style, and all failed.” Said Lord himself, “There’s a way of playing a Hammond that’s different. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that you can play a Hammond with a piano technique. Well, you can, but it sounds like you are playing a Hammond with a piano technique. Really, you have to learn how to play an organ. It’s a legato technique; it’s a technique to achieve legato on a non-legato instrument.”

In early Deep Purple recordings, Lord had appeared to be the leader of the band. Despite the cover songs “Hush” and “Kentucky Woman” becoming hits in North America, Deep Purple never made chart success in the UK until the Concerto for Group and Orchestra album (1970). Lord’s willingness later to play many of the key rhythm parts gave Blackmore the freedom to let loose both live and on record.

On Deep Purple’s second and third albums, Lord began indulging his ambition to fuse rock with classical music. An early example of this is the song “Anthem” from the album The Book of Taliesyn (1968), but a more prominent example is the song “April” from the band’s self-titled third album (1969). The song is recorded in three parts: 1. Lord and Blackmore only, on keyboards and acoustic guitar, respectively; 2. an orchestral arrangement complete with strings; and 3. the full rock band with vocals. Lord’s ambition enhanced his reputation among fellow musicians, but caused tension within the group.

Simper later said, “The reason the music lacked direction was Jon Lord fucked everything up with his classical ideas.” Blackmore agreed to go along with Lord’s experimentation, provided he was given his head on the next band album.

The resulting Concerto For Group and Orchestra (in 1969) was one of rock’s earliest attempts to fuse two distinct musical idioms. Performed live at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969 (with new band members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, Evans and Simper having been fired), it was recorded by the BBC and later released as an album. The Concerto gave Deep Purple its first highly publicised taste of mainstream fame and gave Lord the confidence to believe that his experiment and his compositional skill had a future

Purple began work on Deep Purple in Rock, released by their new label Harvest in 1970 and now recognised as one of hard rock’s key early works. Lord and Blackmore competed to out-dazzle each other, often in classical-style, midsection ‘call and answer’ improvisation (on tracks like “Speed King”), something they employed to great effect live. Ian Gillan said that Lord provided the idea on the main organ riff for “Child in Time” although the riff was also based on It’s a Beautiful Day’s 1969 psychedelic hit song “Bombay Calling”. Lord’s experimental solo on “Hard Lovin’ Man” (complete with police-siren interpolation) from this album was his personal favourite among his Deep Purple studio performances.

Deep Purple released another six studio albums between 1971 (Fireball) and 1975 (Come Taste the Band). Gillan and Glover left in 1973 and Blackmore in 1975, and the band disintegrated in 1976. The highlights of Lord’s Purple work in the period include the 1972 album Machine Head (featuring his rhythmic underpinnings on “Smoke on the Water” and “Space Truckin'”, plus the organ solos on “Highway Star”, “Pictures of Home” and “Lazy”), the sonic bombast of the Made in Japan live album (1972), an extended, effect-laden solo on “Rat Bat Blue” from the Who Do We Think We Are album (1973), and his overall playing on the Burn album from 1974.

Roger Glover would later describe Lord as a true “Zen-archer soloist”, someone whose best keyboard improvisation often came at the first attempt. Lord’s strict reliance on the Hammond C3 organ sound, as opposed to the synthesizer experimentation of his contemporaries, places him firmly in the jazz-blues category as a band musician and far from the progressive-rock sound of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Lord rarely ventured into the synthesizer territory on Purple albums, often limiting his experimentation to the use of the ring modulator with the Hammond, to give live performances on tracks like Space Truckin’ a distinctive ‘spacy’ sound. Instances of his Deep Purple synthesizer use (he became an endorser of the ARP Oyssey) include “‘A’ 200”, the final track from Burn, and “Love Child” on the Come Taste the Band album.

In early 1973 Lord stated: “We’re as valid as anything by Beethoven.”

Lord continued to focus on his classical aspirations alongside his Deep Purple career. The BBC, buoyed by the success of the Concerto, commissioned him to write another piece and the resulting “Gemini Suite” was performed by Deep Purple and the Light Music Society under Malcolm Arnold at the Royal Festival Hall in September 1970, and then in Munich with the Kammerorchester conducted by Eberhard Schoener in January 1972. It then became the basis for Lord’s first solo album, Gemini Suite, released in November 1972, with vocals by Yvonne Elliman and Tony Ashton and with the London Symphony Orchestra backing a band that included Albert Lee on guitar.(Ritchie Blackmore had played the guitar at the first live performance of the Gemini Suite in September 1970, but declined the invitation to appear on the studio version, which led to the involvement of Lee. Other performers were Yvonne Elliman, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Tony Ashton).

In March 1974, Lord and Paice had collaborated with friend Tony Ashton on First of the Big Bands, credited to ‘Ashton & Lord’ and featuring a rich array of session talent, including Carmine Appice, Ian Paice, Peter Frampton and Pink Floyd saxophonist/sessioner, Dick Parry. They performed much of the set live at the London Palladium in September 1974.

This formed the basis of Lord’s first post-Deep Purple project Paice Ashton Lord, which lasted only a year and spawned a single album, Malice in Wonderland in 1977, recorded at Musicland Studios Musicland Studios at the Arabella Hotel in Munich. He created an informal group of friends and collaborators including Ashton, Paice, Bernie Marsden, Boz Burrell and later, Bad Company’s Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and others. Over the same period, Lord guested on albums by Maggie Bell, Nazareth and even folk artist Richard Digance. Eager to pay off a huge tax bill upon his return the UK in the late-1970s (Purple’s excesses included their own tour jet and a home Lord rented in Malibu from actress Ann-Margret and where he wrote the Sarabande album), Lord joined former Deep Purple band member David Coverdale’s new band, Whitesnake in August 1978 (Lord’s job in Whitesnake was largely limited to adding color or, in his own words, a ‘halo’ to round out a blues-rock sound that already accommodated two lead guitarists, Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody.

A number of singles such as “Here I Go Again”, “Wine, Women and Song”, “She’s a Woman” and “Till the Day I Die” entered the UK chart, taking the now 40-something Lord onto Top of the Pops with regularity between 1980 and 1983. He later expressed frustration that he was a poorly paid hired-hand, but fans saw little of this discord and Whitesnake’s commercial success kept him at the forefront of readers’ polls as heavy rock’s foremost keyboard maestro. His dissatisfaction (and Coverdale’s eagerness to revamp the band’s line-up and lower the average age to help crack the US market) smoothed the way for the reformation of Deep Purple Mk II in 1984.

During his tenure in Whitesnake, Lord had the opportunity to record two distinctly different solo albums and was later commissioned by producer Patrick Gamble for Central Television to write the soundtrack for their 1984 TV series, Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, based on the book by Edith Holden, with an orchestra conducted by Alfred Ralston and with a distinctly gentle, pastoral series of themes composed by Lord. Lord became firmly established as a member of UK rock’s “Oxfordshire mansion aristocracy” – with a home, Burntwood Hall, set in 23.5 acres at Goring-on-Thames, complete with its own cricket pitch and a hand-painted Challen baby grand piano, previously owned by Shirley Bassey. He was asked to guest on albums by friends George Harrison (Gone Troppo from 1982) and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour (1984’s About Face), Cozy Powell (Octopus in 1983) and to play on an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, Wind in the Willows. He composed and produced the score for White Fire (1984), which consisted largely of two songs performed by Limelight. In 1985 he made a brief appearance as a member of The Singing Rebel’s band (which also featured Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) in the Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais-scripted film Water (1985) (Handmade Films).

In the 1980s he was also a member of an all-star band called Olympic Rock & Blues Circus fronted by Pete York and featuring a rotating line-up of the likes of Miller Anderson, Tony Ashton, Brian Auger, Zoot Money, Colin Hodgkinson, Chris Farlowe and many others. Olympic Rock & Blues Circus toured primarily in Germany between 1981 and 1989. Some musicians, including Lord, took part in York’s TV musical extravaganza Superdrumming between 1987 and 1989.

Lord’s re-emergence with Deep Purple in 1984 resulted in huge audiences for the reformed Mk II line-up, including 1985s second largest grossing tour in the US and an appearance in front of 80,000 rain-soaked fans headlining Knebworth on 22 June 1985, all to support the Perfect Strangers album. Playing with a rejuvenated Mk. II Purple line-up (including spells at a health farm to get the band including Lord into shape) and being onstage and in the studio with Blackmore, gave Lord the chance to push himself once again. His ‘rubato’ classical opening sequence to the album’s opener, “Knocking at Your Back Door” (complete with F-Minor to G polychordal harmony sequence), gave Lord the chance to do his most powerful work for years, including the song “Perfect Strangers”. Further Deep Purple albums followed, often of varying quality, and by the late-1990s, Lord was clearly keen to explore new avenues for his musical career.

In 1997, he created perhaps his most personal work to date, Pictured Within, released in 1998 with a European tour to support it. Lord’s mother Miriam had died in August 1995 and the album is a deeply affecting piece, inflected at all stages by Lord’s sense of grief. Recorded largely in Lord’s home-away-from-home, the city of Cologne, the album’s themes are Elgarian and alpine in equal measure. Lord signed to Virgin Classics to release it, and perhaps saw it as the first stage in his eventual departure from Purple to embark on a low-key and altogether more gentle solo career. One song from Pictured Within, entitled “Wait A While” was later covered by Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø on her 2003/2004 album My Heart. Lord finally retired from Deep Purple amicably in 2002, preceded by a knee injury that eventually resolved itself without surgery. He said subsequently, “Leaving Deep Purple was just as traumatic as I had always suspected it would be and more so – if you see what I mean”. He even dedicated a song to it on 2004’s solo effort, Beyond the Notes, called “De Profundis”. The album was recorded in Bonn with producer Mario Argandoña between June and July 2004.

Lord slowly built a small, but distinct position and fan base for himself in Europe. He collaborated with former ABBA superstar and family friend, Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad,) on the 2004 track, “The Sun Will Shine Again” (with lyrics by Sam Brown) and performed with her across Europe. He subsequently also performed European concerts to première the 2007-scheduled Boom of the Tingling Strings orchestral piece.

In 2003 he also returned to his beloved R-n-B/blues heritage to record an album of standards in Sydney, with Australia’s Jimmy Barnes, entitled Live in the Basement, by Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men, showing himself to be one of British rock music’s most eclectic and talented instrumentalists. Lord was also happy to support the Sam Buxton Sunflower Jam Healing Trust and in September 2006, performed at a star-studded event to support the charity led by Ian Paice’s wife, Jacky (twin sister of Lord’s wife Vicky). Featured artists on stage with Lord included Paul Weller, Robert Plant, Phil Manzanera, Ian Paice and Bernie Marsden.

In July 2011, Lord performed his final live concert appearance, the Sunflower Jam at the Royal Albert Hall, where he premiered his joint composition with Rick Wakeman. At that point, they had begun informal discussion on recording an album together. Up until 2011, Lord had also been working on material with the recently formed rock supergroup WhoCares, also featuring singer Ian Gillan from Deep Purple, guitarist Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, second guitarist Mikko Lindström from HIM, bassist Jason Newsted formerly from Metallica and drummer Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden, specifically the composition “Out of My Mind,” in addition to new compositions with Steve Balsamo and a Hammond Organ Concerto. Lord subsequently cancelled a performance of his Durham Concerto in Hagen, Germany, for what his website said was a continuation of his medical treatment (the concert, scheduled for 6 July 2012, would have been his return to live performance after treatment).

Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra was effectively recommissioned by him, recorded in Liverpool and at Abbey Road Studios across 2011 and under post-production in 2012 with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra performing, conducted by long-time collaborator, conductor Paul Mann. The recording was at completion at the time of Lord’s death, with Lord having been able to review the final master recordings. The album and DVD were subsequently released in 2012.

In July 2011, Lord was found to be suffering from pancreatic cancer. After treatment in both England and in Israel, he died on 16 July 2012 at the London Clinic after suffering from a pulmonary embolism. He was 71.

• On 11 November 2010, he was inducted as an Honorary Fellow of Stevenson College in Edinburgh, Scotland. On 15 July 2011, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree at De Montfort Hall by the University of Leicester. Lord was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 8 April 2016 as a member of Deep Purple.

• Lars Ulrich, founding member and drummer in Metallica commented, “Ever since my father took me to see them in 1973 in Copenhagen, at the impressionable age of 9, Deep Purple has been the most constant, continuous and inspiring musical presence in my life. They have meant more to me than any other band in existence, and have had an enormous part in shaping who I am. We can all be guilty of lightly throwing adjectives like ‘unique,’ ‘one-of-a-kind’ and ‘pioneering’ around when we want to describe our heroes and the people who’ve moved us, but there are no more fitting words than those right now and there simply was no musician like Jon Lord in the history of hard rock. Nobody. Period. There was nobody that played like him. There was nobody that sounded like him. There was nobody that wrote like him. There was nobody that looked like him. There was nobody more articulate, gentlemanly, warm, or fucking cooler that ever played keyboards or got anywhere near a keyboard. What he did was all his own.”

• Former keyboard player of rock band Yes, Rick Wakeman, who was a friend of Lord’s, said he was “a great fan” and added “We were going to write and record an album before he became ill. His contribution to music and to classic rock was immeasurable and I will miss him terribly.” In mid-2013, Wakeman presented a BBC One East Midlands-produced TV program about Lord and his connection to the town of his birth.

• Singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad (ABBA), who described Jon Lord as her “dearest friend”, paid him tribute at the 2013 edition of Zermatt Unplugged, the annual music festival which both he and she served as patrons. “He was graceful, intelligent, polite, with a strong integrity,” she said. “He had a strong empathy and a great deal of humor for his own and other people’s weaknesses.”

• Keyboardist Keith Emerson said of Lord’s death, “Jon left us now but his music and inspiration will live forever. I am deeply saddened by his departure.” In a later interview in November 2013, he added, “In the early years I remember being quite jealous of Jon Lord – may he rest in peace. In September 1969 I heard he was debuting his “Concerto For Group & Orchestra” at the Royal Albert Hall, with none other than Malcolm Arnold conducting. Wow! I had to go along and see that. Jon and I ribbed each other, we were pretty much pals, but I walked away and thought: ‘Shit, in a couple of weeks’ time I’m going to be recording The Nice’s Five Bridges Suite … not at the Albert Hall but at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon!’ A much more prosaic venue. Later, Jon wanted me to play on his solo album, Gemini Suite, but that was around the time ELP were breaking big and we were touring. He was a lovely guy, a real gentleman.”

• A concert tribute to Lord took place on 4 April 2014 at the Royal Albert Hall. Performers and presenters included Deep Purple, Bruce Dickinson, Alfie Boe, Jeremy Irons, Joe Brown, Glenn Hughes, Miller Anderson and Steve Balsamo.

• In December 2012 the Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, joined the campaign to honor Lord with a blue plaque at his childhood home at 120 Averill Road, where he lived until he was twenty, saying it would be “an important reminder of the city’s contribution to the world of contemporary music.”

• Lord was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple in April 2016

 

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Bob Babbitt 7/2012

July 16, 2012 – Bob Babbitt (Funk Brothers) was born Robert Kreinar on November 26, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in the Mt. Washington and Beltzhoover neighborhoods and graduated from South Hills High School. His parents had immigrated to America from Hungary and his dad found work as bricklayer. Bob earliest music influences were his parent’s gypsy music and classical music. Both of his parents sang in gypsy bands and their gypsy music was constantly heard on the family radio and record player.

Bob learned the upright bass in elementary school and played in his elementary school orchestra. He took private classical bass lessons for two years from a female bass player who was the main bass player at the Pennsylvania College for Woman. Bob then studied for three years with the principle bassist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Anthony Bianco. During his three high school years from 1953 to 1955 Bob played classical upright bass in the Pittsburgh Symphony Jr. which featured the top Pittsburgh area high school musicians. Bob sites his early influences as Pittsburgh bassist Ray Brown and Charles Mingus.

Bob was frequently asked to sit in with Hungarian gypsy groups at Hungarians clubs that he went to with his family. His first paying job as musician was with a gypsy band.

As a teen Bob turned to rhythm-and-blues playing influenced by Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk” and Red Prysock’s “Hand Clappin'”. He spent a lot of time playing along to listening to R&B songs played on Pittsburgh radio by Porky Chedwick and Mary Dee and others. At age 15 Bob began performing in Pittsburgh area nightclubs. He began by sitting in with a group led by a black sax player in a club and began working weekends with them. He switched from upright bass to a louder and easier to transport electric bass guitar at age 17. He bought a ’60 Jazz Bass and used the 1-2-4 classical fingering system until he learned to use his 3rd finger.

Bob’s father died when he was a high school senior. His family moved from Mount Washington to the Glen Hazel projects. The University of Pittsburgh offered him a music scholarship but he turned it down. Instead he took a job to help support his mother. But it was hard to find a good paying job without a skill and he did not want to work in the steel mills. His uncle in Michigan urged him to move, saying he could earn much more money in Detroit. Bob hopped a Greyhound bus to Motown in late 1957 or early 1958.

Detroit had a lively club scene, a growing recording business, and an up and coming new R&B sound. Bob worked construction during the day and played the clubs at night. In Detroit Bob picked up the nick name Bobo that morphed into Babo, Bobbitt, and finally into “Babbitt”. People he met for the first time thought it was his real name. With all of his musicians friends calling him “Babbittt”, he took it as his stage name.

He heard a band called the Royaltones rehearsing in a Detroit club one day and introduced himself. He brought in his upright bass to play with them. They hired Bob to record with them on 24 songs released between 1961 and 1964. Led by the saxophone of George Katsakis the Royaltones played instrumental rock n roll. Eight of the Royaltones’ songs hit the Billboard charts including their 1961 top ten hit “Flamingo Express.” Bob became a member of the Royaltones in 1962. Singer Del Shannon hired the Royaltones as his band and toured and recorded with them through 1964. Bob played on Del Shannon’s 1962 hit “Little Town Flirt.” After the Royaltones broke up in 1964 Babbitt became a studio musician.

As his reputation in Detroit grew Babbitt found steady work in 1966 as a session bass player at Golden World Studio, United Sound, Terashirma, and every other consequential studio in the Detroit area except Motown. He worked seven to eight recording sessions every week. During this time he recorded the signature bass line on the Capitols hit single “Cool Jerk”. He also played on the classic R&B tunes “I Just Wanna Testify” by the Parliaments and “Love Makes the World Go Round” by Dion Jackson. Babbitt played on his first Motown recording in 1967. After touring with Steve Wonder, Wonder brought Babbitt to Motown to record with him on ‘We Can Work It Out’ and the classic ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ .

At Golden World Studio Bobbit worked with several of Motown’s moonlighting session players including keyboardists Joe Hunter and Johnny Griffith, guitarist Eddie Willis, drummer Benny Benjamin, and Rock Hall of Fame bassist James Jamerson († August 2, 1983)). As Motown’s popularity grew more musicians were needed to work recording sessions. When bassist James Jamerson became unreliable due to alcoholism Babbitt was brought in as a replacement. As he proved himself, Babbitt was accepted into the inner circle of the Funk Brothers. Babbitt worked steadily at Motown from 1967 through 1972 and was under contract to Motown from 1970 to1972.

The contract prevented him from becoming a member of Jeff Beck’s band. Prevented from working for other studios and bands Babbitt tried to supplement his income working as a professional wrestler for six months. In 1972 Babbitt recorded with Marvin Gaye on one of Motown’s biggest selling records the classic “What’s Goin’ On.” In interviews Babbitt said they the arranger Dave Van dePitte let him write his own base lines on the songs “‘Mercy Mercy Me’ and ‘Inner City Blues’.

Motown’s Detroit Hitsville Studio closed in 1972 when Barry Gordon moved Motown to Los Angeles. The Funk Brothers learned they were out of work when they read a note on the locked doors of the studio. In 1973 Babbit went in the opposite direction and ended up in New York where he began working with producer Arif Mardin. In this new city he worked on recordings for Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, Gloria Gaynor, Robert Palmer, and Alice Cooper. Babbitt and former Motown drummer Andrew Smith became one of the hottest rhythm sections in New York. They were sought out to record with Stephanie Mills, Jim Croce, and Bonnie Raitt to Engelbert Humperdink and Frank Sinatra.

Philadelphia International Records also sought the services of Bobbitt and Andrew Smith. Working with producer Thorn Bell they recorded the Spinners classics “Then Came You,” “Games People Play,” and “Rubber Band Man.” By the late 1970’s Bob Babbitt was working constantly with many artists in many different styles. He recorded 3 complete albums in three weeks working with the Spinners in L.A., Alice Cooper in Toronto and Frank Sinatra in New York. Babbitt became a jazz player in the early ’80s touring and recording with flutist Herbie Mann and fellow Pittsburgher saxophonist Stanley Turrentine.

When studio work in New York slowed down Bob moved in June of 1986 to the next hot recording center Nashville. Music City became his home for the next 26 years. During this period Babbitt worked recording sessions with Shania Twain, Carlene Carter, Tracy Nelson, Vanessa Williams, Elton John, Robert Palmer, Lee Atwater, Jimmy McGriff, Bobby Rydell and others. In between recording dates he toured with Brenda Lee, Robert Palmer, Joan Baez and others.

Bob and the Funk Brother came to national attention in 2002 with the release of the film “Standing In The Shadows”. The film showed that the Funk Brothers and Bob Babbitt were the heart and soul of the Motown sound. The film was based on Allan Slutsky’s Funk Brothers book. The film highlighted that the Funk Brothers “played on more number-one hits than The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys Combined”.

The brothers toured the country with special guest Joan Osborne on lead vocals. They performed at the 2004 Grammy Awards where they received the Lifetime Achievement Award. With recognition of the contributions of the Funk Brothers Bob received more offers for recording sessions and gigs. Phil Collins flew him to London to record the “Going Back” album in 2010.

Babbitt was honored in Pittsburgh on July 23, 2008 where he received a Lifetime Achievement award from Duquense University. The City of Pittsburgh declared July 23 Bob Babbitt Day and the mayor presented Bob with the official proclamation. To celebrate the occasion he performed in concert with B.E. Taylor, Jeff Jimerson, Hermie Granati, guitarist Jimmy Bruno and other Pittsburgh musicians. Babbitt was honored again on October 31, 2009 when he performed in concert at the August Wilson Center’s “A Pittsburgh Tribute to Motown Records’ 50th Anniversary.” With his classical and gypsy music roots that he learned in Pittsburgh along with his great talent and creativity, he made music history.

In early 2011 Babbitt was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He passed away in Nashville at age 74 on July 16, 2012.
One of the most versatile and most recorded bassists in music history

Bob Babbitt was one of the greatest and most recorded bass players in the history of popular music. Over 100 million copies of records that feature Bob’s bass have been sold. He performed on over 200 top 40 hits earning 25 gold records and several platinum awards. Babbitt laid down a melodic rhythmic groove that gave soul to hundreds of all time classic pop records. Bob was a versatile bassist whose work ranged from R&B, rock, jazz, pop, country, and folk. In the R&B genre Babbitt recorded and performed with The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Lou Rawls, Gladys Knight, Diane Ross, Ashford & Simpson, The Spinners, Phyllis Hyman, Mary Wells, the O’Jays, Sister Sledge, and Major Harris. He rocked with Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Robert Palmer, Alice Cooper, Peter Frampton, Joe Cocker, Nils Lofgren, Steven Bishop, the Euclid Beach Band, and Yoko Ono. In Jazz and blues Babbitt worked with Dextor Gordon, Herbie Mann, Stanley Turrentine, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Taj Mahal, John Mayall, and Bonnie Raitt. Bob performed on the country and folk recordings of Shania Twain, Carlene Carter, Louise Mandrell,Tracy Nelson, Joan Baez, and Tom Rush. Babbitt was at the top of the pops working with Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warrick , Engelbert Humperdinc, Laura Nyro, Brenda Lee, Frankie Vallie, Del Shannon, Jim Croce, and Barry Manilow.

In Detroit during the 1960s Bob Babbitt played on dozens of hits recorded in the Motown and Golden World Studios as a member of the legendary Funk Brothers studio band. His signature sound is heard on the Capitols’ “Cool Jerk,” Smokey Robinson’s “The Tears of a Clown” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours”, Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train To Georgia”, Diana Ross’ “Touch Me In The Morning”, and War” by Edwin Starr. Babbitt is featured on Motown biggest selling album Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” album. As part of the Philadelphia soul scene in the 1970s Babbitt played on the Spinners hits “Then Came You” and “Rubberband Man”. Working in New York he was heard on Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye”. Robert Palmer’s “Every Kind Of People”, and Barry Manilow’s “Ready To Take A Chance”.

Bob Babbitt was well known for decades among musicians but was little known to popular music fans. The Funk Brothers were often un-credited on Motown recordings. The Funk Brothers were bassist James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt, guitarists Robert White and Joe Messina, keyboardists Joe Hunter and Earl Van Dyke, and drummers Benny Benjamin, Richard Allen and Uriel Jones. Bob Babbitt and his fellow Funk Brothers gained national recognition for their outstanding contribution in the Grammy winning film about the Funk Brothers, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”. Bob Babbitt toured with the surviving members of Funk Brothers and Joanne Osborne.

Among Bass players Bob’ 90 second solo on the Denis Coffey single “Scopio” is a standard. It is a difficult solo that bassists strive to learn to prove their mastery of the bass.

Bob Babbitt and the Funk Brothers were inducted into the Nashville-based Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007. The Music City Walk of Fame honored Bob Babbitt with a star in June of 2012. He is the only session instrumentalist to be honored by the Walk of Fame. Bob Babbitt as a member of the Funk Brothers was was given a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2004.

“Bob was a teddy bear of a guy and he was an extraordinary musician — a player’s player.” – former Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum

“It’s probably safe to say that every minute of every day, 365 days a year, Bob Babbitt’s bass is pumping out of some radio station somewhere.” Rick Suchow – Bass Guitar Magazine (Jan, 2010)

“Bob Babbitt changed the world with four strings and a groove,” -bass player Dave Pomeroy, president of the Nashville Musicians Association, inducting Babbitt into the Walk of Fame

With 25 Gold and Platinum records under his belt he is famous for his work as a member of Motown Records’ studio band, the Funk Brothers, from 1967-72, as well as his tenure as part of MFSB for Philadelphia International Records afterwards.

Also in 1968-1970, with Mike Campbell, Ray Monette and Andrew Smith he formed the band Scorpion. His most notable bass performances include “War”, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, “The Tears of a Clown”, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”, “Inner City Blues””Band Of Gold” (by Freda Payne), “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)”, “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”  

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Dennis
St.John
6/2012

dennis-st-johnJune 5, 2012 – Dennis St. John (Neil Diamond’s drummer and musical director) was born on November 9, 1941 in Beatrice, Nebraska, to Jeanne and Colonel Ralph St. John.

In 1947 my mother and I were amongst the first American military dependant families to live in Germany. The German prisoners of war at my father’s depot had a great Dixieland band. Every Friday I got to sit and listen to this band in the warehouse, before they had to report back to the stockade. It was my first experience with live music and has stayed with me ever since. When we returned from Germany in 1950, we moved to Chicago, and that’s where I heard my first Fender electric bass, which helped nudge me closer to music. After a couple more moves, and high-school bands in Olympia, Washington and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I graduated in 1959. I immediately put on my Princeton t-shirt, and took my fake ID to the world famous Somers Point, New Jersey traffic circle, home of Bayshores, Tony Mart’s, and Steele’s Bar. I’d spend day after day, night after night listening to the legendary Jimmy Cavallo & the House Rockers. That’s when I decided I’d like to be a drummer.

He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

A gifted percussionist, he began his career in music after forming a band in college (St.John and the Cardinals) part of which became the root for the Atlanta Rhythm Section. After college he relocated to Los Angeles, where he went on to play on over fifty gold and platinum albums with top artists of the sixties and seventies.

His name may not be instantly recognizable, but during the height of his career in the sixties and seventies, Dennis toured and recorded with several top artists, drumming on sixteen top-10 records and over fifty Gold and Platinum albums. If you’ve ever heard the Bellamy Brothers’ “Let Your Love Flow” or “Spooky” or “Spiders & Snakes” or Linda Ronstadt’s “Desperado” or Neil Diamond’s “Forever In Blue Jeans” or “America”, then you’ve heard just a small sampling of the hundreds of recordings featuring his playing.

Dennis crossed paths with an impressive number of artists such as James Brown, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, Roy Orbison, Ronnie Milsap, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace, Little Richard, Rufus Thomas, Tommy Roe, The Standells, Otis Redding, and Paul Revere and the Raiders. But he’s best known as Neil Diamond’s drummer and musical director from 1971-81. Several herniated discs forced him to quit active touring in the early 1980s and he formed a talent development company, guiding many future performers to stardom in the years after.

He described the most memorable event of his career as the 10 days of recording Hot August Night in 1972 (at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles) saying “it was by far the most energetic, creative, and satisfying gig I’ve ever played.”

This link to a Classic Drummer Interview with Dennis gives a great insight into Rock and Roll in the early days.

Dennis died from complications of esophageal cancer on June 5, 2012 at the age of 70.

Taking to Twitter to pay his respects, Neil Diamond wrote, “Lost my old friend Dennis St. John. His drumming graces my recordings from Hot August Night to The Jazz Singer – I’ll miss him big time.”

Entry on his obituary: “I knew Dennis. He used to come to the bar I worked at for many years when he came to visit his mother. My husband always referred to him as the guy with the pony tail. He was a true gentleman and always took time to talk to me even though I was just a bartender there. I often introduced him to people, but they always seemed to fail to understand what impact he had in the music business. I have not worked for around 4 years and was so sad to hear that he had lost his battle with cancer. He always took such good care of his mother and felt bad if he didn’t feel she was being taken care of correctly. Everyone was so happy to see him when he visited. There just aren’t enough words to do this man justice.”

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Donna Summer 5/2012

donna-summerMay 17, 2012 – Donna Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on December 31, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts. Summer was one of seven children. She was raised in the Boston neighborhood of Mission Hill. Her father was a butcher and her mother was a schoolteacher.

She began singing at a young age in the church. Summer’s performance debut occurred at church when she was eight years old, replacing a vocalist who failed to show up. In her early teens, she formed several musical groups imitating Motown girl groups such as The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. She attended Boston’s Jeremiah E. Burke High School where she performed in school musicals and was considered popular.

In 1967, just weeks before graduation, Donna left for New York where she joined the psychedelic blues rock band Crow as lead singer. It was a move influenced by Janis Joplin’s life story that she dropped out of school, she later stated. After they were passed on by a record label that was only interested in the band’s lead singer, the band broke up and Summer stayed in New York to audition for a role in the counterculture musical, Hair. She landed the part of Sheila and agreed to take the role in the Munich production of the show, moving to Munich, Germany after getting her parents’ reluctant but not needed approval. Continue reading Donna Summer 5/2012

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Adam
Yauch
5/2012

adam-yauchMay 4, 2012 – Adam Yauch aka MCA (Beastie Boys) was born in Brooklyn New York on August 5th 1964.  While in high school, he taught himself to play the bass guitar and formed the Beastie Boys with John Berry, Michael Diamond and Kate Schellenbach.

They played their first show, then still a hardcore punk band on his 17th birthday. At age 22, he and the Beastie Boys, had turned into a hip hop trio and were touring with Madonna in 1985. A year later they released their debut album Licensed to Ill, which was followed by 7 other albums, the last being their 2011 album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.

Under the pseudonym “Nathanial Hörnblowér“, Adam directed many of the Beastie Boys’ music videos and in 2002, he built a recording studio in New York City called Oscilloscope Laboratories. He also began an independent film distributing company called Oscilloscope Pictures. Yauch directed the 2006 Beastie Boys concert film, Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!, although in the DVD extras for the film, the title character in “A Day in the Life of Nathanial Hörnblowér” is played by David Cross.

He also directed the 2008 film Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot about eight high school basketball prospects at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic at Rucker Park in Harlem, New York City. Yauch produced Build a Nation, the comeback album from hardcore/punk band Bad Brains. In addition, Oscilloscope Laboratories also distributed Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy (2008) and Oren Moverman’s The Messenger (2009).

2009 was the year that he was diagnosed with a lymph node cancer.

By 2010 The Beastie Boys had sold 40 million records worldwide and in 2011, Yauch received the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters from Bard College, the college he attended for two years. The award was “given in recognition of a significant contribution to the American artistic or literary heritage.”.

In April 2012, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yauch was inducted in absentia due to his illness. His bandmates paid tribute to Yauch; a letter from Yauch was read to the crowd.

As a Buddhist, he was involved in the Tibetan independence movement and organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts in the mid 1990s.

Adam died battling cancer on May 4, 2012. He was 47.

“There is a lot of misconception in all layers of society about what actually brings happiness. We’re caught up in all these promoted ideas that having a lot of money or having somebody beautiful to have sex with or owning some cool objects -a cool car, a cool stereo – a Gibson Les Paul 1957 – a cool house in a cool neighborhood or whatever……… is going to make us happy. All that actually does not bring us happiness. Compassion, empathy, altruism, sharing brings happiness. Those are values that make us smile when practiced.” 

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Levon Helm 4/2012

Levon-HelmApril 19, 2012 – Mark Lavon “Levon” Helm  was born on May 26, 1940 in Elaine, Arkansas. Helm grew up in Turkey Scratch, a hamlet west of Helena, Arkansas. His parents, Nell and Diamond Helm, cotton farmers and also great lovers of music, encouraged their children to play and sing. Young Lavon (as he was christened) began playing the guitar at the age of eight and also played drums during his formative years. He saw Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys at the age of six and decided then to become a musician.

Arkansas in the 1940s and 50s stood at the confluence of a variety of musical styles—blues, country and R&B—that later became known as rock and roll. Helm was influenced by all these styles, which he heard on the Grand Ole Opry on radio station WSM and R&B on radio station WLAC out of Nashville, Tennessee. He also saw traveling shows such as F.S. Walcott’s Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels that featured top African-American artists of the time. Continue reading Levon Helm 4/2012

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Bugs Henderson 3/2012

Bugs HendersonMarch 8, 2012 – Buddy “Bugs” Henderson was born on October 20th 1943 in Palm Springs, California, but grew up in Tyler, Texas. At age 16 he formed a band called the Sensores and later joined Mouse and the Traps. Living in Dallas-Fort Worth during the early 1970s, he became lead guitarist for the blues/rock band Nitzinger before one-hit pop wonder Bruce Channel recruited him into a band.

He established his own band the Shuffle Kings, and spent his entire working life as musician performing from Fort Worth clubs and all over the world, forging and establishing a large cult following. He released 18 albums, while his guitarplaying style impressed musicians such as Eric Clapton, Freddie King, Johnny Winter, Johnny Hyland and Ted Nugent.

Henderson was hugely popular in Europe and toured the continent often from the 1970s on. Continue reading Bugs Henderson 3/2012

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Michael Hossack 3/2012

michael-hossackMarch 12, 2012 – Michael Hossack (drummer for Doobie Brothers) was born in Paterson, New Jersey on October 17th 1946. He started playing drums in the Little Falls Cadets, a Boy Scout drum and bugle corps, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Cadets and Fair Lawn Cadets. He always credited these experiences for teaching and preparing him for playing in a two-drummer group such as the Doobie Brothers.

After graduating high school, he served for four years in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Following his honorable discharge in 1969 he returned to New Jersey, where a close friend talked him into auditioning for a California-based band called Mourning Reign.

They played heavily in upstate New York, before relocating to the San Francisco bay area and signing with a production company that had also signed the newly formed rock band, the Doobie Brothers.

Although Mourning Reign was short-lived, Hossack’s abilities gained considerable exposure and having learned of his availability, was invited to jam with the Doobies in 1971. Little did he know that the “jam session” was an actual audition which took place at Bimbo’s 365 Club. After hearing founding drummer John Hartman and Hossack together, the Doobies decided that having two drummers would beef up the rhythm section and so adopted the “dual drummers” sound pioneered by bands such as the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. Hossack played alongside Hartman on the band’s breakthrough albums Toulouse Street in 1972, The Captain and Me in 1973 and What Were Once Vices are Now Habits in 1974, which spawned the band’s first #1 hit, “Black Water”.

After a grueling ten-month tour in 1973, Hossack left the Doobies. He went on to join Bobby Winkelman’s band Bonaroo (band) which released one album then disbanded shortly afterwards. In 1976, he had a brief stint with a band called DFK (or the Dudek Finnigan Krueger Band), with Les Dudek, Mike Finnigan and Jim Krueger. In 1977, Hossack became a partner in Chateau Recorders studio in North Hollywood.

An avid outdoors man, when he wasn’t in the studio or on tour, he was either riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, hunting or fishing. A family man as well, Mike enjoyed spending as much time as possible raising his two children.

In 1987 former band member Keith Knudsen called Mike and asked if he would participate in a series of benefit concerts for veterans of the Vietnam War. Being a veteran himself, Mike agreed and the Doobie Brothers (after a five-year hiatus) were back together again. Due to the huge success of these concerts, the Doobie Brothers decided to reform with band members Pat Simmons, Tom Johnston, John Hartman, Tiran Porter, Bobby LaKind and Michael Hossack. Not long afterwards, they were offered a recording contract from Capitol Records. Since then, Mike’s unique style can be heard on the albums Cycles, Brotherhood, Rockin’ down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert, Sibling Rivalry, Live at Wolf Trap and World Gone Crazy.

On June 22, 2001, while heading to a show at Caesars Tahoe in Lake Tahoe, Mike suffered multiple fractures from a motorcycle accident on Highway 88 and had to be airlifted to a Sacramento-area hospital where he underwent surgery. After months of healing and grueling physical therapy, Mike was back with the band. He was a permanent fixture until he developed cancer in 2010 and had to take a leave of absence to focus on his health.

On March 2012, Hossack sadly died of cancer at his home in Dubois, Wyoming at the age of 65.

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Nick
Ashford
8/2011

nick ashford of ashford and simpsonAugust 22, 2011 – Nickolas ‘Nick’ Ashford (70) was born on May 4th 1941 in Fairfield, South Carolina. Ashford’s father, Calvin, was a construction worker and Nick got his musical start at Willow Run Baptist Church, singing and writing songs for the gospel choir. He briefly attended Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, before heading to New York, where he tried but failed to find success as a dancer. In 1963, while homeless, Ashford went to White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem, where he met Simpson, a 17-year-old recent high school graduate, born in the Bronx, who was studying music. They began writing songs together, selling the first bunch for $64.

After having recorded unsuccessfully as a duo, they joined aspiring solo artist and former member of the Ikettes, Joshie Jo Armstead, at the Scepter/Wand label where their compositions were recorded by Ronnie Milsap-“Never Had It So Good”, Maxine Brown-“One Step At A Time”, as well as the Shirelles and Chuck Jackson.

Their first major success occurred when they and writing partner Jo Armstead came up with “Let’s Go Get Stoned” for Ray Charles. The bluesy, gospel-tinged song became a huge hit for Charles, and Ashford and Simpson soon came to the attention of Motown Records and began penning hits for the label’s artists.

They started out writing soulful, romantic works for the duo of Gaye and Terrell that would become instant classics, like “Your Precious Love,” “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Ross later recorded “Ain’t No Mountain” with a new arrangement that had sweeping pop grandeur and made it her signature song.

That same year Ashford & Simpson joined Motown, where their best-known songs included “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “You’re All I Need To Get By”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”, and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”.

Ross may have been Ashford & Simpson’s greatest muse: They had some of their biggest songs with her and helped give her career-defining hits that would distinguish her solo career apart from the Supremes. Among the songs Ross made hits were “Reach Out and Touch,” “The Boss,” “My House,” and “Missing You,” a tribute to the late Gaye and others.

Among the other artists who had hits with their songs were Gladys Knight and the Pips (Didn’t You Know You’d Have to Cry Sometime) and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (Who’s Gonna Take the Blame).

Over nearly five decades, Ashford and his wife Valerie Simpson wrote songs together also had success writing for themselves, with perhaps the biggest known hit being the 1980s hit Solid As A Rock.

The duo got married in 1974 and carefully nurtured both the personal and professional aspects of their relationship. “A long time ago I accepted that this would be an all-consuming relationship,” Simpson said in a 1981 interview with The Times. “To keep it going we’ve worked out ways to get along so we don’t drive each other crazy.…

“We don’t hold things in,” she said. “We can’t stay mad and get any work done. Other couples can stay mad at each other for days because they don’t have to work together. We don’t have that luxury, and it’s been good for us that we don’t.”

Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire said: “They had magic, and that’s what creates those wonderful hits, that magic. Without those songs, those artists wouldn’t have been able to go to the next level.”

The duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. Ashford and Simpson were also recipients of The Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 1999, and ASCAP’s highest honor, the Founder’s Award, which they received on March 18, 1996. They also received a songwriting credit on Amy Winehouse’s song Tears Dry on Their Own, which contains a sample from Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

In later years, the pair continued to perform mostly as the owners of the New York City restaurant Sugar Bar, where many top names and emerging talents would put on showcases.

Nick died fighting throat cancer on August 22, 2011. He was 70.

When I heard the news Nick Ashford passed this week the first person I thought of was Valerie. I hope she is getting the support she needs from her friends and family. Ashford and Simpson were a great writing team that penned gems for the late Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terell, Diana Ross, Ray Charles; I can go on and on. What made me admired them the most was that their love was something that fairy tales were made of. Black marriages have gone to the form of extinction, and now we just have the cases of an overabundance of just baby mothers and fathers. Ashford and Simpson was the symbol on what love stands for. I’m sure their marriage had their ups and downs, but they did not give up, they continued to make it work which resulted in over 36 years of unity. Therefore, the old-school song of the week is “Solid (As A Rock). If you did not believe in soul mates, then you are sadly mistaken. They were the quintessential of soul mates, and I truly believe everyone has one. Valerie hang in there and rest in peace Nick. – Ms. Scripter

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Jet
Harris
3/2011

Jet HarrisMarch 18, 2011 – Jet Harris (The Shadows) was born Terence Harris on July 6, 1939 in Kingsbury, North West London, England, the only son of  Bill and Winifred Harris.  The young Terence Harris was  nicknamed ‘Jet’ by his school friends because of his abilities of being one of the fastest runners in the school.  Jet left school at the age of fifteen and started working with his dad as an apprentice welder, making milk churns.

The very first record that he took notice of was Winifred Atwell’s ‘Left Hand Boogie’ in 1952.  He was fascinated by the ‘bass’ sound on Winifred’s left hand.  Jet was the first man in the UK to play the electric bass guitar.  News spread of Jet’s  outstanding ability with the bass guitar, which soon led him to playing with various groups between 1956 – 1958, including ‘Tony Crombie’s Rockets’, ‘Terry Dene’s Aces’, ‘The Vipers Skiffle Group’, ‘The Most Brothers’ and also Wee Willie Harris’.  In between gig’s Jet used to frequent the now famous home of British Rock ‘n’ Roll, the 2i’s Coffee Bar in Old Compton Street, Soho.  Apart from playing, he also served cola and rum babas to customers.  With regard to Jet’s musical talents, he is self taught, his family couldn’t afford formal music lessons.

During the year of 1958, Jet was introduced to a young Cliff Richard, and was duly invited to join Cliff’s backing group ‘The Drifters’, but due to an injunction by the American group of the same name, they had to choose a different name.  History was made at the The Six Bells pub near Ruislip, when Jet, Hank Marvin and  Bruce Welch began discussing new names for the band.  It was Jet who came up with the name ‘The Shadows’.

The first hit record that Jet played bass on was ‘High Class Baby’ which reached number seven in the charts in 1958.  ‘Apache’ of course was the start of an era.  Jet played on many Shadows records ‘Man of Mystery’, The Stranger’, ‘Midnight’, ’36, 24, 36′, ‘The Savage’, ‘Guitar Tango’ ‘Nivram’, ‘Peace Pipe’ and FBI to name but a few.  He also helped write a few of the hits. The last recording Jet did with ‘The Shadows’ was ‘Wonderful Land’ in 1962.  Jet left the band in the same year and had two hit singles in his own right ‘Besame Mucho’ and the main title theme from the film ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’.

In 1963 Jet teamed up with former Shadow bandmate Tony Meehan and had an immediate hit with a tune written by Jerry Lordan called ‘Diamonds’ which was number one for six weeks, later followed by two more top twenty hits, ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ and ‘Applejack’.  Late in 1963, Jet was involved in a very serious car crash which nearly ended his career. He had very serious head injuries and was extremely lucky to have survived.

During the late 70’s, Jet played with various groups, and released ‘Inside Jet Harris’, which was made in Gloucester prison.  Apart from Jet, the only other person to have recorded a live performance in a prison was ‘Johnny Cash’.  Jet then turned professional photographer and gave up the music business.

The 80’s found Jet back on the music scene again, touring Holland, Norway and Sweden.

In 1989, Jet released the ‘Anniversary Album’.  In 1996, Jet joined’ The Local Hero’s as their guest, and went on to play with them in France, Germany, Holland and Norway.  Jet also played on the ‘Local Hero’s CD ‘One of our Shadows is Missing’.  In 1998 ‘Fender’ guitars presented Jet with a lifetime achievement award, and also sponsored Jet with his amplification.  Burns guitars also presented Jet with a ‘Legend’ lead guitar, a six string bass called the ‘Jet Six’ and a four string bass.  Rotosound were Jet’s official string sponsors.  1999 saw the release of Jet’s CD ‘The Phoenix Rises’.  In 2002, Jet released a new CD called ‘Diamonds are Trumps’, with famous session drummer ‘Bobby Graham’.  This was released by ‘Solent Records’ under a new record deal.  After this, Jet toured with artists including ‘The Rapiers’, ‘The Bobby Graham Rock Experience’ ‘Mike Berry and the Outlaws’ ‘The Bruvvers’ and ‘Clem Cattini’ and the Tornados.

At the end of 2005, Jet teamed up with producer and world renowned trumpet player, Nigel Hopkins, to work on a brand new album.  In December 2007, Jet released what was to become his last album, entitled ‘Jet Harris – The Journey’.

In 2009 Jet was diagnosed with cancer and throughout the second half of the year he underwent many medical tests and received chemotherapy treatment.  In 2010 Jet was awarded the MBE for services to music.  2010 also saw Jet once again touring with Marty Wilde and the Wildcats on the very successful ‘Born To Rock ‘n’ Roll’ tour.  Jet continued to perform in the UK and abroad until five weeks before his death.  Determined to keep playing, his final performance was on 5 February 2011 at Ferneham Hall, Fareham in the UK.

He died on March 18, 2011 at the age of 71

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Kenny
Edwards
8/2010

kenny edwards with linda ronstadtAugust 18, 2010 – Kenneth Michael ‘Kenny’ Edwards was born on February 10, 1946 in Santa Monica California. He had the good fortune to begin life in the Southern California community of Santa Monica where much musical history would be recorded. Little did he know that he would eventually be in the thick of the most active of all the entertainment media, and more impressively, be an integral part of its growth. All types of music captivated him at an early age, which made him a willing and able student of diverse ethnic sounds, including early American bluegrass, country, folk, and rock. In 1965, Edwards teamed up with Bob Kimmel, a transplant from Tuscon, and formed a folk group which would soon after be embellished by the powerful vocals of Linda Ronstadt, whom Kimmel knew from Arizona. The group called themselves the Stone Ponys and, with the help of their new manager, Herb Cohen, quickly managed to secure a recording contract with Capitol Records, gaining considerable recognition by the American folk-rock mass. Their first album was, by many accounts, considered to be a masterpiece that displayed lush harmonies provided by Edwards and Kimmel, although the record did not spawn a hit. The second attempt, released in 1967, contained the hit song “Different Drum,” which induced Capitol to send the band out on tour. However, just before the tour, the Stone Ponys decided to terminate their relationship, leaving Ronstadt to fulfill the final album commitment on the contract. Edwards would rejoin Ronstadt in 1974 and spend the next five years as a key force behind her successful run.

After leaving the Stone Ponys in 1968, Edwards united with Wendy Waldman, Andrew Gold and Karla Bonoff, each of whom were prolific songwriters, accomplished musicians, and great singers. They had aspirations of launching individual careers, but enjoyed singing together so much that they decided to join forces and become a group. The quartet called themselves Bryndle and would win a recording contract with A&M Records in 1970, but their only album remained in the can, and just the single “Woke Up This Morning” was released. The frustrating end to their dream caused Bryndle to disband, but they would re-form two decades later.

In 1974, Edwards was approached by Ronstadt and she asked him to rejoin her band and help to ignite her floundering career. It turned out to be one of the best moves she ever made because he also brought along Andrew Gold. Edwards, who would play bass, remained the standing foundation in Ronstadt’s band for the next five years, and with Gold, served as the spark that did indeed ignite her career. Edwards stuck with Ronstadt through her glory years, touring extensively and providing invaluable input in the studio which took full advantage of his multi-instrumental prowess, not to mention vocals, collaborative songwriting, and creative production ideas.

By the late ’70s, Edwards grew to become a talented, well-rounded, aspiring record producer whose next step would be commander of his own project. His former bandmate from Bryndle, Karla Bonoff, landed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1977 and she called upon him to produce her. He produced all three albums. The first, titled Karla Bonoff, was the most successful. After Bonoff’s contract expired, Edwards continued to get more and more calls for his services as producer as well as studio musician and vocalist. He put in more than his share of air miles between L.A. and Nashville, but still found enough time to branch out into other areas, taking on the production of feature films, one of which was Vince Gill’s version of “When Will I Be Loved” for the movie Eight Seconds that he co-produced with Andrew Gold.

Other credits include writing and scoring films and teleplays such as Miami Vice, Crime Story, The Street, The Secret Sins of the Father, and others. In the early ’90s, having enjoyed successful careers individually, Edwards, Waldman, Bonoff, and Gold decided to put Bryndle back in action. Their first CD was released on Music Masters/BMG Records. Entering 2001, they continued to write and record new material, and tour throughout the U.S. and Asia. By the end of 2002, Edwards had finished his first solo album.

His session work has seen Edwards work either live or in the studio with acts such as Emmylou Harris, Stevie Nicks, J.D. Souther, Don Henley, Brian Wilson, Warren Zevon, Art Garfunkel, Vince Gill, Mac McAnally, David Lee Murphy, Jennifer Warnes, Danny Kortchmar, Lowell George, as well as a younger generation of artists including Glen Phillips and Natalie D-Napoleon. Edwards released his first, self-titled solo album in 2002. In his later years, he performed as a singer-songwriter, often with Nina Gerber accompanying, and completed the recording and release of a second solo album in 2009.

Edwards’ career had spanned four decades, consumed thousands of studio hours, and countless thousands of air miles, and he has participated in the creation of libraries full of hit songs. His is not a household name except to those in the industry, but he has played an influential part in musical history, especially where it pertains to the development of country-rock music and its boom during the ’70s. With the release of his 2nd solo cd, Resurrection Road” Edwards, who for most of his career was the consummate backup ace, took a more prominent position on stage and had planned to play an important part in the future development of music for some time to come.

Sadly Kenny lost his battle with prostate cancer on August 18, 2010. He was 64.

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Catfish
Collins
8/2010

parliament-funkadelics rhythm Catfish CollinsAugust 6, 2010 – Catfish Collins was born Phelps Collins in  1944 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Born into a musical family, Catfish began playing the guitar as a child. When his younger brother Bootsy showed a desire to learn the bass, Catfish stripped the strings from one of his old guitars and put bass strings on it, helping to define Bootsy’s signature funk sound. From then on, the brothers made music together. He received his nickname Catfish from Bootsy, who thought his brother resembled a fish. The nickname appeared to suit the happy-go-lucky guitarist, who always had a broad smile on his face.

By the mid-1960s Catfish began to get work as a session musician at King Records, the pioneering Cincinnati independent label that had a roster of rhythm and blues stars including James Brown. Catfish also introduced his brother to the music of Indiana blues guitarist Lonnie Mack.

The siblings first played together in the Pacemakers, a funk act, in 1968. They quickly acquired a reputation as the most dynamic r&b band in the midwest. In early 1970, when several members of Brown’s band quit in a dispute over money, he immediately hired the Pacemakers, flying them in to perform, without rehearsal, behind him on stage. The jewel in King Record’s crown, James Brown, had taken good note of Catfish’s skills on rhythm guitar. As it was, Catfish’s clean, funky strumming was integral to Brown classics like “Super Bad,” “Get Up,” “Soul Power,” and “Give It Up.”

“It was like playing a big school with James as the teacher, like psychotic bump school, only deeper,” Bootsy told Rolling Stone in 1978.

The youth, verve, wit and spontaneity of Bootsy and Catfish’s playing pushed Brown into recording some of the most remarkable music in his long career. Brown named his new band the JB’s, and they played on such Brown hits as Super Bad, Soul Power, Give It Up Or Turnit a Loose and the awe-inspiring Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine. The music’s driving rhythms, popping bass lines and crisp, choppy guitar became defined as “funk“. Funk proved to be a liberating tool for African American pop, rock, soul and jazz; provided a soundtrack for the Black Power political movement and Blaxploitation films; and created a sonic blueprint for disco and then rap.

By 1971, the freewheeling Collins brothers had tired of Brown’s autocratic leadership and both of them left his band. They formed the House Guests and then joined George Clinton’s psychedelic band(s) Parliament-Funkadelic, immediately contributing to the album “America Eats Its Young. Together, the Collins brothers helped direct Clinton’s visionary project towards a broad audience.

Bootsy would soon become a huge star in the US as leader of Bootsy’s Rubber Band, a side project that grew out of Parliament-Funkadelic. As ever, Catfish was at his side when he joined Bootsy’s Rubber Band four years later. They enjoyed huge popularity. The two brothers, along with Waddy, Joel “Razor Sharp” Johnson, Gary “Muddbone” Cooper and Robert “P-Nut” Johnson and The Horny Horns, played on such US r&b hits as Tear the Roof Off the Sucker, Bootzilla and Aqua Boogie, creating music filled with spontaneity, joy and pumping funk. Catfish would continue to play with his brother and with Parliament-Funkadelic until 1983.

In 1983, Catfish split from Funkadelic and maintained a low profile from then on. He would tour and record with Bootsy on occasion, but he found session work more lucrative, guesting on Deee-Lite’s 1990 hit Groove Is in The Heart, Freekbass, and H-Bomb and reuniting with old friends to contribute to the soundtrack of Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy Superbad soundtrack.

Catfish lost his fight with cancer on August 6, 2010. He was 66.

“My world will never be the same without him,” said his brother Bootsy Collins in a statement. “Be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fellow I ever met on this planet.”

Bernie Worrell – “He was a hell of a musician. He taught me a lot about rhythms. People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

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Bobby
Hebb
8/2010

Booby Hebb wrote SunnyAugust 3, 2010 – Robert Von Bobby Hebb was born on July 26, 1938 in Nshville, Tennessee.

His parents were both blind musicians. Hebb and older brother Harold performed as a song-and-dance team in Nashville beginning when Bobby was three and Harold was nine.

Hebb performed on a TV show hosted by country music record producer Owen Bradley, which earned him a place with Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. Hebb played Spoons and other instruments in Acuff’s band. Harold later became a member of Johnny Bragg and the Marigolds. Bobby Hebb sang backup on Bo Diddley’s “Diddley Daddy”. Hebb played “West-coast-style” trumpet in a United States Navy jazz band, and replaced Mickey Baker in Mickey and Sylvia.

In 1960 he reached the New York Top 50 with a remake of Roy Acuff’s “Night Train To Memphis”.

On November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Bobby Hebb’s brother, Harold, was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and sought comfort in songwriting. Though many claim that the song he wrote after both tragedies was the optimistic “Sunny”, Hebb himself stated otherwise. He immersed himself in the Gerald Wilson album, You Better Believe It!, for comfort.

“All my intentions were just to think of happier times – basically looking for a brighter day – because times were at a low tide. After I wrote it, I thought “Sunny” just might be a different approach to what Johnny Bragg was talking about in “Just Walkin’ in the Rain”.
“Sunny” was recorded in New York City after demos were made with the record producer Jerry Ross. Released as a single in 1966, “Sunny” reached No. 3 on the R&B charts, No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 12 in the United Kingdom. When Hebb toured with The Beatles in 1966 his “Sunny” was, at the time of the tour, ranked higher than any Beatles song then on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[citation needed] BMI rated “Sunny” number 25 in its “Top 100 songs of the century”.

In 1966 Bobby after recording “Sunny”, he toured with The Beatles.

BMI rates “Sunny” number 25 in its Top 100 songs of the century, it sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It is also one of the most covered popular songs, with hundreds of versions released, by the likes of Cher, Boney M, Georgie Fame, Johnny Rivers, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, The Four Seasons, the Four Tops, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and Dusty Springfield.

Hebb also had lesser hits with his “A Satisfied Mind” in 1966 (No. 39 on the Billboard chart and No. 40 on the R&B chart) and “Love Me” in 1967 and wrote many other songs, including Lou Rawls’ 1971 hit “A Natural Man” (co-written with comedian Sandy Baron). Six years prior to “Sunny”, Hebb reached the New York City Top 50 with a remake of Roy Acuff’s “Night Train to Memphis”. In 1972, his single “Love Love Love” reached No. 32 on the UK charts.

In 1976, Hebb released a newly recorded disco version entitled “Sunny ’76”. The single was a minor hit reaching No. 94 on the R&B chart.

After a recording gap of thirty five years he recorded a new album; That’s All I Wanna Know was his first commercial release since Love Games in 1970. It was released in Europe in late 2005 by Tuition, a new pop indie label. New versions of “Sunny” were also issued two duets: one with Astrid North, and one with Pat Appleton. In October 2008 Bobby toured and played in Osaka and Tokyo in Japan.

On August 3, 2010 Bobby lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 72.

Ipanema Films of Germany was involved in a biographical film which included Hebb, his biographer Joseph Tortelli, and Billy Cox.

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JoJo Billingsley 6/2010

jojo-billingsleyJune 24, 2010 – JoJo Billingsley was born Deborah Jo Billingsley on May 28, 1952 in Memphis Tennessee and raised in Tennessean country communities. She started singing at age three; took dance lessons (tap and jazz) from the time she was three to about age 14. She also was church soloist by the time I was 10 or 12 and deeply involved in the music program at school; choral group, girl’s vocal ensemble, as a soloist coloratura soprano. She received a scholarship to attend the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) but had a difficult time because she never had music theory. When she was 16 she was invited to attend Juliard School but her dad would not let her because it was in New York City.

After her dad passed in 1971 she took up singing as a profession and first joined Oil Can Harry with whom she toured the US and Europe in 1973/74, and then joined Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Honkettes”.

A friend of mine named Bob O’Neal was doing the lights for Skynyrd and Fleetwood Mac; he turned my name into them and Kevin Elson (the sound producer) invited me to come to Nashville to a concert. It was there I met Ronnie Van Zant for the first time and he hired me on the spot. When I entered the room backstage where he was sitting with his bare feet propped up on a table, he took one look at me, tipped his hat back, smiled and said, “she’ll do just fine!” and hired me without ever hearing me sing. Good thing I knew how!

The next 3 years were magic with numerous tours around the world until on October 20, 1977 the airplane crash killed several members of the band and road crew, but Billingsley was the only band member not on the flight.

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Garry Shider 6/2010

garry_shiderJune 16, 2010 – Garry Marshall Shider (Parliament-Funkadelic) was born on July 24th 1953 in Plainfield New Jersey. A

Like many funk pioneers of the ’70s, Shider got his start by playing in church. As a teenager, he sang and performed in support of the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Shirley Caesar, and other prominent gospel artists. Years later, singing far-out funk with Parliament, that gospel spirit was still evident in his vocal performances. He was still bringing them to church — only that church was located somewhere in deep innerspace.

Shider met George Clinton in the late ’60s at the famous Plainfield barbershop where the Parliaments, then primarily a soul vocal group, practiced harmonies. Shider’s vocal and instrumental talent impressed Clinton.

By the time he was sixteen, Shider wished to escape the crime and dead-end prospects of Plainfield, so he and his friend Cordell “Boogie” Mosson left for Canada where Shider and Mosson formed a funk/rock band called United Soul, or “U.S.”. George Clinton was living in Toronto at the time and began hearing about United Soul from people in the local music business and took the band under his wing upon learning that Shider was a member.

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Lolly Vegas 3/2010

Lolly VegasMarch 4, 2010 – Candido Lolly Vegas (Redbone) was born Lolly Vasquez in Coalinga, California on October 2, 1939. He grew up in Fresno. He and his brother Pat, a singer and bassist, were session musicians who performed together as Pat and Lolly Vegas in the 1960s at Sunset Strip clubs and on the TV variety show “Shindig!”

Patrick and Lolly Vasquez – Vegas were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage. but began by performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers, “because their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexican musicians playing surfing music”. First as the Vegas Brothers (Pat and Lolly Vegas), then later as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band, they performed throughout the 1960s.

They formed the Native American band Redbone in 1969, Redbone being a Cajun word for ‘half-breed’. The band, with members of Latino and native American origin, released its self-titled debut album the following year. The band first gained notice with “Maggie” in 1970 and broke international barriers with “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” in 1971.

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Kate McGarrigle 1/2010

kate mcgarrigleJanuary 18, 2010 – Kate McGarrigle was born on February 6th 1946 in Montreal, but grew up in the Laurentian Mountains village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Quebec.

The McGarrigle sisters, Kate, Anna and Jane, grew up in musical family, where they learned songs from their French-Canadian mother Gaby, and piano from their father Frank and nuns in the village. Later they picked up the guitar, banjo and accordion, and in the early 1960s, with a couple of friends, formed a coffeehouse folk group, the Mountain City Four.

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Ramses Shaffy 12/2009

Ramses ShaffyDecember 1, 2009 – Ramses Shaffy was born in Paris on August 29th 1933  in the suburb Neuilly-sur-Seine. His father was an Egyptian diplomat and his mother was a Polish-Russian countess. He grew up with his mother in Cannes. When she was infected with tuberculosis, Shaffy was sent to an aunt in Utrecht in the Netherlands and eventually ended up in a foster family in the city of Leiden.

He did not finish high school, but he was accepted at the Amsterdam school of theatre arts in 1952. In 1955, he made his debut with the Nederlandse Comedie. He went to Rome’s Civitavecchia in 1960 aspiring to be a film actor, but was unsuccessful in the endeavor.

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Eric Woolfson 12/2009

eric-woolfsonDecember 2, 2009 – Eric Woolfson was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 18th March 1945. Eric had an uncle in Glasgow who played the piano masterfully and who inspired Eric to want to become a musician. After a very short spell of piano lessons which were soon abandoned, Eric started playing by himself and became a self-taught pianist who never was able to read music!

In his teens, following a brief but somewhat unsuccessful foray into the profession of Chartered Accountancy where they said he’d be better apprenticed to a circus, Eric went to London via Manchester where he got involved with music business agency, Kennedy Street Enterprises. He joined one of their acts HERMAN’S HERMITS as a guest pianist for a short spell, and had high hopes of becoming a permanent member of one of their other groups, but they wouldn’t guarantee him a retainer and so he decided to carry on further south to London. The musicians Eric left behind in Manchester, shortly afterwards became known as 10CC. Finally arriving in London he hung around Denmark Street a.k.a. ‘Tin Pan Alley’ where he managed to get work as a session pianist and worked with musicians such as Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones who went on to form LED ZEPPELIN and managed to fix a meeting with the Record Producer & Co. Manager of THE ROLLING STONES, Andrew Loog Oldham.

After being kept waiting for over four hours for his meeting, Oldham finally showed up and asked Eric to play something he’d written himself. After playing just one song, Oldham stood up and said ‘You’re a fucking genius’ and immediately offered Eric a publishing deal with Oldham’s newly formed company ‘Immediate Records’.

Oldham placed Eric’s work with a number of well known artists of the day such as MARIANNE FAITHFULL and FRANK IFIELD as well as using Eric as a session pianist on many of his independent productions.

Other songs written by Eric found their way into various record producers’ hands, including MICK JAGGER’s first attempt as a record producer with a singer called CHRIS FARLOWE – although Eric’s song eventually was consigned to the B-side, the single OUT OF TIME went to number one in the UK Charts.

Eric signed other publishing deals with other companies as his repertoire flourished and more and more of his songs found their way to major recording artists, both in Europe and America.

He signed a deal with Southern Music where he joined the ranks of composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Eric remembered Lloyd Webber and Rice’s decision to create stage musicals as a vehicle for their songs, rather than the more difficult route of trying for covers by the big artists of the day. As time went by, Eric realized how well founded their idea was.

Later, Eric was taken on as an independent record producer by several record companies working with artists including DAVE BERRY, THE EQUALS and THE TREMELOES.

Around this time, Eric had the idea to make an album inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. He wrote some of the material which later found its way into the Alan Parsons Project and at that time he recorded some demos with guitarist Rick Westwood of THE TREMELOES. Eric produced the recordings but was not sure that he had the necessary skill to realize such a grandiose project and shelved the idea.

Despite having many of his songs recorded all over Europe, Eric found that earning a living as a songwriter was not easy and so he decided to try his hand at artist management.

His first two clients were a singer CARL DOUGLAS who had just reached the top of the charts with KUNG FU FIGHTING and a record producer called ALAN PARSONS who he had met while on a session at Abbey Road Studios.

Alan had decided to become a producer and with Eric as his manager, he enjoyed a string of successes including consecutive number one hits with PILOT and COCKNEY REBEL. Other notable successes were JOHN MILES and AL STEWART with YEAR OF THE CAT.

At that time, the film business had become a director’s medium with luminaries such as Stanley Kubrick being more influential in the making of a film than the stars who appeared in it. Now having access to Alan’s production and engineering talent, Eric saw an opportunity to mirror this in the record business by combining his own writing talents with Alan’s. His Edgar Allan Poe idea came off the shelf and the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT was born.

The first album entitled TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION, EDGAR ALLAN POE was released in 1976. It was immediately obvious that there was more to the idea than one album, but as the original record deal was for only the first album, a new deal was done with Arista Records for nine further albums.

Despite there being no live performances and few obvious hit singles the venture was a great success. There were however hit singles (many on which Eric sang lead vocal) including EYE IN THE SKY, TIME and DON’T ANSWER ME, three of which in addition to record sales, have been played on American radio more than 1 million times.

After ten albums Eric wanted to develop in other areas and decided it was time to move into the area of stage musicals. His first attempt, inspired by Sigmund Freud, was entitled FREUDIANA which was premiered in 1990 in Vienna’s historic THEATER AN DER WIEN where Beethoven premiered ‘Fidelio’, his one and only opera. Eric had always been inspired by creative minds and his wife Hazel had been studying psychology and began to leave books on Freud lying around the house. Intrigued by the titles, Woolfson became fascinated by their content and started researching Freud and spent a lot of time in the Freud Museum in London, even lying on the couch on which Freud’s patients recounted their dreams.

The success of this first musical work led to Woolfson’s second musical GAUDI which premiered in 1994 in Aachen, Germany and went on to be staged in Alsdorf (1995) and Cologne (1996) where a 1,700-seat theatre was specially built in the heart of the city to stage the show. Half a million people saw GAUDI in the five years that it ran and every performance received a standing ovation. A german tour of GAUDI was later planned for 2009/2010 and an Asian production planned for 2010.

For his next musical GAMBLER, Eric drew on his experiences of living in Monte Carlo (in the late 70s) which had also been the inspiration for the Alan Parsons Project TURN OF A FRIENDLY CARD album. Many of the songs from this album (Eye in the Sky, Turn of a Friendly Card, Snake Eyes, Games People Play and Time) were included in the show. It was premiered in Germany in Monchengladbach in 1996. GAMBLER has so far had seven productions in Korea, one of which also toured Japan in 2002 and 2005 (the first time a Korean language production had been staged in this way) and it won several Korean Tony Awards.

In 2007 Eric’s musical DANCING SHADOWS premiered in Asia. This was a unique musical project inspired by a famous Korean play entitled A FOREST FIRE based on the anti-war play Forest Fire by the Korean playwright Cham Bum-Suk. The noted playwright and author Ariel Dorfman wrote the book and Eric wrote the music and lyrics. The production won 5 Korean Tony awards including Best Musical. International production plans for the show are in development.

Eric’s work POE re-visits his original Tales of Mystery and Imagination inspiration, Edgar Allan Poe. It had its world premiere concert showcase at Abbey Road Studios in 2003 and a studio album was released containing 10 songs from the piece ‘POE, More Tales of Mystery and Imagination’.

The latest project that Eric worked on was the result of having gone through the APP archives to find bonus tracks for the 2007/2008 Sony and Universal releases of all 10 Alan Parsons Project albums in remastered expanded edition versions, plus a new Essential APP compilation. Eric discovered a number of songs which hadn’t been included on the original APP albums for a variety of reasons. These were later included, in their unfinished form as bonus tracks on the expanded edition APP albums, and Eric also completed and recorded some of these songs which are included on the ‘Eric Woolfson sings The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was‘ album which was released in January 2009.

Eric died of kidney cancer in the early hours of the 2nd December 2009, aged 64.

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Tim Hart 12/2009

Tim HartDecember 24, 2009 – Tim Hart (Steeleye Span) was born  January 9, 1948 in Lincoln, grew up in St.Albans Hertfordshire, where several young British music careers started in the sixties. His father was a vicar. At St Albans school, he was a member of the Rattfinks, a pop band that never rivalled the school’s best-known alumni, the hit-making Zombies. He worked, briefly, as a bookbinder, blacksmith, cost clerk, civil servant and hospital washer-up, while diversifying his musical interests and singing at St Albans folk music club. He met Maddy Prior there in 1965 and, by January 1966, they were singing together professionally.

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Willy DeVille 8/2009

romantic punk rocker Willy DevilleAugust 6, 2009 – Willy DeVille was born William Paul Borsey Jr. on  August 25th 1950 in Stamford, Connecticut. The son of a carpenter, he grew up in the working-class Belltown district of Stamford.

DeVille said about Stamford, “It was post-industrial. Everybody worked in factories, you know. Not me. I wouldn’t have that. People from Stamford don’t get too far. That’s a place where you die.” DeVille said about his youthful musical tastes, “I still remember listening to groups like the Drifters. It was like magic, there was drama, and it would hypnotise me.

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Billy Lee Riley 8/2009

billy lee riley -rockabilly starAugust 2, 2009 – Billy Lee Riley was born on October 5, 1933 in Pocahontas, Arkansas, and taught to play guitar by black farm workers.

After a four year stint he first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1955 before joining Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. His first hit was “Flyin’ Saucers Rock and Roll” / “I Want You Baby” in early 1957 after which he recorded “Red Hot” /”Pearly Lee” released in September 1957 both backed by Jerry Lee Lewis on piano.

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Marmaduke 7/2009

John “Marmaduke” Dawson

July 21, 2009 – Marmaduke aka John Collins Dawson IV was born on June 16th 1945 in Detroit. The son of a Los Altos Hills, California filmmaker, he took guitar lessons from Mimi Fariña, Joan Baez’s sister, before attending the Millbrook School near Millbrook, New York. While at Millbrook, he took courses in music theory & history and sang in the glee club.
After stints at Foothill College and Occidental College, Dawson’s musical career began in the mid-1960s folk and psychedelic rock music scene in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He soon became part of the of Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, a jug band that included Jerry Garcia and several other future members of the Grateful Dead. It is here where he also met fellow guitarist David Nelson.

John “Marmaduke” Dawson had original tunes in his pocket and a guitar in his hands in 1969 when a buddy just learning to play pedal steel guitar often joined his weekly gig at the Underground, a San Francisco Bay Area hofbrau house. The friend was Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, and those sessions set the stage for the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a group they considered “the original psychedelic cowboy band.”

John decided that it was his life’s mission to combine the psychedelia of the San Francisco rock with his beloved electric country music and by 1969, he had written a number of country rock songs, so with Jerry Garcia the two began playing coffeehouse concerts together while the Grateful Dead was off the road.

By the summer of ’69 John and Jerry decided to form a full band, David Nelson was recruited from Big Brother to play electric lead guitar, Robert Hunter on electric bass and Grateful Dead Mickey Hart on drums. This was the original line-up of the band which became known as the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

In 1970 and 1971, the New Riders and the Grateful Dead performed many concerts together. John also appeared as a guest musician on three Grateful Dead albums — Aoxomoxoa, Workingman’s Dead, and American Beauty and he co-wrote the Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”.

Buddy Cage replaced Jerry Garcia as the New Riders’ pedal steel player, John and David Nelson led a gradually evolving lineup of musicians in the New Riders of the Purple Sage, playing their psychedelic influenced brand of country rock and releasing a number of studio and live albums.

In 1982, David Nelson and Buddy Cage left the band. John Dawson and the New Riders carried on without them, taking on more of a bluegrass influence with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Rusty Gauthier to the group. John continued to tour with the band and released the occasional album, until their eventual retirement in 1997 when John relocated to Mexico to become an English teacher and made several guest appearances at the revival of the New Riders concerts in the mid 2000s onwards.

He died in Mexico from stomach cancer on July 21, 2009. He was 64.

• Rob Bleetstein, archivist for the New Riders, wrote in an e-mail, “Dawson’s songwriting brought an incredible vision of classic Americana to light with songs like ‘Glendale Train’ and ‘Last Lonely Eagle.’ “

• With that material and such other “wonderful” Dawson songs as “Garden of Eden” and “Henry,” the band “simply had to become a reality,” claimed Dennis McNally, a Grateful Dead publicist.

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Drake Levin 7/2009

drake-levinJuly 4, 2009 – Drake Levin was born Drake Maxwell Levinchefski on August 17th 1946 in Chicago, Illinois. Many sources cite his birth name as Levinshefski, but his brother Jeff said the family’s version, Levinchevski, was shortened to Levin many years before his birth. When he was 13, his family moved to Boise, Idaho. As a young man he played in a band called the Surfers, along with a bassist, Phil Volk, who would later join the Raiders.

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