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Mitch Margo 11/2017

 

November 24, 2017 – Mitch Margo (The Tokens) was born on May 25, 1947 in New York City. He began singing a cappella at age 9 alongside his brother Phil. 

Young Margo learned to play piano in those early days, but over the years established himself as a multi-instrumentalist, also playing guitar, bass, drums and percussion.

Margo was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn when he and his brother joined the Linc-Tones, also featuring Neal Sedaka, Hank Mendress and original member Tokens founder Jay Siegel, who soon renamed themselves the Tokens and recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while Mitch was just 14 years old. Continue reading Mitch Margo 11/2017

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Tommy Keene 11/2017

November 22, 2017 – Tommy Keene was born on June 30, 1958 in Evanston, Illinois and raised and graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland (class of 1976), (which was also the alma mater of fellow musician Nils Lofgren). Keene played drums in one version of Lofgren’s early bands but moved to guitar later when he attended the University of Maryland.

Keene launched his career in the late-‘70s as a guitarist with a series of Washington D.C.-area combos including the Rage and the Razz, before hitting the national scene as a solo act in 1982 with the release of his debut Strange Alliance. He actually first received critical acclaim with his The Razz, who released several local independent singles. Continue reading Tommy Keene 11/2017

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Tom Petty 10/2017

tom petty and the heart breakers front manOctober 2, 2017 – Tom Petty was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville Florida. Growing up in the town that houses the University of Florida, music became the young Petty’s refuge from a domineering, abusive father who despised Tom’s sensitivity and creative tendencies—but would later glom on to his son’s rock-star fame for status. In the summer of 1961, his uncle was working on the set of Presley’s film Follow That Dream in nearby Ocala, and invited Petty to come down and watch the shoot. He instantly became an Elvis Presley fan, and when he returned that Saturday, he was greeted by his friend Keith Harben, and soon traded his Wham-O slingshot for a collection of Elvis 45s.

Continue reading Tom Petty 10/2017

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Holger Czukay 9/2017

September 5, 2017 – Holger Czukay was born on March 24, 1938 in the Free City of Danzig (since 1945 Gdańsk, Poland), from which his family was expelled after World War II. Due to the turmoil of the war, Czukay’s primary education was limited. One pivotal early experience, however, was working, when still a teenager, at a radio repair-shop, where he became fond of the aural qualities of radio broadcasts (anticipating his use of shortwave radio broadcasts as musical elements) and became familiar with the rudiments of electrical repair and engineering.

Czukay studied music under Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1963 to 1966 and then worked for a while as a music teacher. Initially Czukay had little interest in rock music, but this changed, when a student played him the Beatles’ 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”, a 1967 psychedelic rock single with an unusual musical structure and blasts of AM radio noise. This opened his ears to music by rock experimentalists such as The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa. Continue reading Holger Czukay 9/2017

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Goldy McJohn 8/2017

Goldy McJohn - SteppenwolfAugust 1, 2017 – Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf) was born John Raymond Goadsby in Toronto, Canada on May 2, 1945. He was raised by middle class parents in Toronto, Canada. They put him into piano lessons at a young age and with this foundation he became a pioneer in the use of the electronic organ in rock and roll.
“I was classically trained,” said Goldy. He also stated that no one else in rock and roll was doing was he was at the time. “I played on a Lowrey,” he said. And this is part of what he said gave songs such as “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” their unique sound.
“I was up at 4 a.m. daily to practice from the age of seven until…I got stupid,” Goldy said.
While school in general was not his thing, (he was suspended from high school for three months,) he always did exceptionally well in music.
“I got 100 in music, which brought my average up to maybe 14,” Goldy said. His parents could not afford private school that could have catered more to the needs of a student like him. Continue reading Goldy McJohn 8/2017

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Kenny Shields 7/2017

July 21, 2017 – Kenny Shields was born in 1947 in the farming community of Nokomis, Saskatchewan, Canada. His passion for music and entertaining emerged at the age of six when he entered and won an amateur talent show. While continuing his interest in music and singing, upon graduation from secondary school he moved to Saskatoon to attend university but was immediately recruited by the city’s premiere band – Witness Incorporated.

Kenny’s lifelong dream began to take shape as the band built a loyal fan base across the country, scoring with a string of national radio hits including “I’ll Forget Her Tomorrow”, “Jezebel” and “Harlem Lady, all featuring Kenny’s unmistakable vocals. After touring with such legendary artists as Roy Orbison and Cream, tragedy struck in 1970 when Shields was critically injured in an automobile accident that sidetracked him from music for several years. Continue reading Kenny Shields 7/2017

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Noel Neal 6/2017

June 19, 2017 – Noel Neal (James Cotton Band) was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1963. The Neal family from Baton Rouge is known nationwide as a blues family with numerous performers, Kenny probably being the most famous one.

Neal journeyed to Chicago early on where he played with James Cotton for over 30 years, touring and recording for the late Chicago blues star and harmonica virtuoso  James Cotton, who also recently passed on March 16 of this year. He also recorded with his late father, Raful Neal, and his brother, Kenny Neal. Continue reading Noel Neal 6/2017

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Kerry Turman 4/2017

kerry turman, bass for the Temptations April 23, 2017 – Kerry Turman (long time bass player for the Temptations) was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 28, 1957.

Kerry left Detroit, Michigan at the age of 19 to pursue his passion in music and further develop his “chops” in Los Angeles, California. He cut his teeth as part of the killer band that Roy Ayers (King of Neo Soul) put together in the late 1970s.

In the 1970s and 80s he traveled the world playing the bass for many artists, including, Roy Ayers, Evelyn “Champagne” King and legendary drummer Gene Dunlap. Continue reading Kerry Turman 4/2017

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Calep Emphrey 4/2017

calep emphrey, drummer for all three blues kingsApril 25, 2017 – Calep Emphrey (played blues with all 3 Kings) was born on May 1, 1949 in Greenville, Mississippi. He started out playing a whole range of wind instruments such as French horn, saxophone, baritone horn and a lot of other brass instruments in the Coleman High School band while growing up. The high school band director Wynchester Davis had a band called the Green Tops, which went all around the state. He went on to play in a concert band in college at Mississippi Valley State, where he was a music major in 1967-1968.

Professionally, he started off with Little Milton about ’69 in Greenville. (Milton was from the Greenville area and Emphrey used to hang around him a lot.) Milton needed somebody to fill the drummer position and he called Calep, who admitted, “I couldn’t make no money with the French horn.” Continue reading Calep Emphrey 4/2017

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Allan Holdsworth 4/2017

April 15, 2017 – Allan Holdsworth was born on August 6, 1946 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. First a saxophone player, he gravitated to the guitar at the age of 17 and caught on quickly. Entirely self-taught, his protean, virtuosic style became a source of amazement even to his more famous peers. He began working professionally as a musician in his early 20s, inspired by the likes of Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Raney, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass and John Coltrane. Continue reading Allan Holdsworth 4/2017

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Alan Henderson 4/2017

Alan Henderson,bass player for ThemApril 9, 2017 – Alan Henderson (bass for Them) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on November 26, 1944. He caught the music bug during his teenage years and set his sights on becoming a professional musician.

In 1962, he was recruited into the Gamblers, a Belfast-based band  founded by guitarist Billy Harrison. With Ronnie Millings as their drummer and pianist Eric Wrixon coming aboard a little later, the group specialized in hard American-style rock & roll and R&B, with a repertory that included both Elvis Presley and Little Willie John. It was sometime after Wrixon joined that he and Harrison crossed paths with songwriter/singer/sax-player Van Morrison, and not long after that – depending on whose story carries more logic – either Morrison joined the Gamblers or they agreed to become his backing band. Continue reading Alan Henderson 4/2017

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David Peel 4/2017

New York street musicianApril 6, 2017 – David Peel, born David Michael Rosario on August 3, 1942 in New York City. After his fulfilling his national duty in the US military, he became a New York City-based street musician and social activist, who first recorded in the late 1960s with Harold Black, Billy Joe White, George Cori and Larry Adam performing as David Peel and The Lower East Side Band. His raw, acoustic “street rock” with lyrics about marijuana and “bad cops” appealed mostly to hippies and the disenfranchised.

Brooklyn-born Peel had been performing in the blossoming counter-culture that awakened in the early 1960s, since forsaking a potential job on Wall Street in favor of becoming a hippie in the mid-60s, soaking up the vibes in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury before taking his stoner street activist ethos to Washington Square Park. (At this point it should be pointed out that, apart from the more dullard factions, punk was essentially propagated by hippies with shorter hair). Continue reading David Peel 4/2017

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Jim Fuller 3/2017

Surfaris lead guitaristMarch 3, 2017 – Jim Fuller, co-founding member and lead guitarist of the Surfaris, was born on June 27, 1947. In 1962, Bob Berryhill (15), Jim Fuller (15), Pat Connolly (15) and Ron Wilson (17) from Glendora, California formed The Surfaris.

It was the year that the surf music craze was just emerging and “Wipe Out” was written that winter. Saxophonist, Jim Pash, joined the band after “Wipe Out” was recorded.

Initially catapulted by the California surf culture, The Surfaris transcended the local scene into international stardom with their hit song “Wipe Out.” On a cold December night that same year, these four young teenagers wrote Wipe Out in the studio after recording Surfer Joe. With the help of manager Dale Smallin (Wipe Out laugh intro) and recording engineer Paul Buff, The Surfaris recorded the 1963 hit version of Wipe Out and Surfer Joe. Continue reading Jim Fuller 3/2017

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George Michael 12/2016

December 25, 2016 – George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in Finchley, North London, England on June 25, 1963. His father, was a Greek Cypriot restaurateur, who moved to England in the 1950s and his  mother, was a dancer. Michael spent the majority of his childhood in Kingsbury, London, in the home his parents bought soon after his birth.

While he was in his early teens, the family moved to Radlett, Hertfordshire where he attended Bushey Meads School in the neighbouring town of Bushey, and where he also befriended his future Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley. Continue reading George Michael 12/2016

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Pete Burns 10/2016

October 23, 2016 – Pete Burns was born on August 5, 1959 in Port Sunlight, Cheshire, England. His mother was the daughter of a German Jew and had escaped Nazi Germany before the war. She met Burns’s father, Francis Burns, then a soldier, in Vienna, from where they returned together to Liverpool.

Burns described his upbringing as unconventional. His mother was an alcoholic, and attempted suicide several times when Burns was growing up.
As far as parental skills go in the conventional, normal world, she certainly wasn’t a mother, but she’s the best human being that I’ve ever had the privilege of being in the company of, and I know that she had a special plan for me,” he said. “She called me ‘Star Baby’ and she knew that there was something special in me.”

Continue reading Pete Burns 10/2016

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Henry McCullough 6/2016

Henry McCulloughJune 14, 2016 – Henry Campbell Liken McCullough (Wings) was born in Northern Ireland on 21 July 1943. He first came to prominence as a guitar player of talent in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with The Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. In 1964, with three other members of The Skyrockets, he left and formed a new showband fronted by South African born vocalist Gene Chetty, which they named Gene and The Gents.

In 1967 McCullough moved to Belfast where he joined Chris Stewart (bass), Ernie Graham (vocals) and Dave Lutton (drums) to form the psychedelic band The People. Later that year the band moved to London and were signed by Chas Chandler’s management team, who changed the group’s name to Éire Apparent. Under Chandler’s guidance after a single release they toured with groups such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as Eric Burdon and the Animals. Continue reading Henry McCullough 6/2016

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Nick Menza 5/2016

nick-menzaMay 21, 2016 – Nicholas “Nick” Menza was born on July 23, 1964 in Münich, Germany. As the son of jazz musician Don Menza, Nick began playing drums at the age of two, at which age he performed at his first public concert when during the intermission someone sat him down on Jack DeJohnette’s drums and he proceeded to play. His influences stem from being nurtured around the tutelage of such notables as Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd, Nick Ceroli, Jeff Porcaro and Louie Bellson.

Beginning his professional musical career at the age of 18 drumming in the band Rhoads featuring singer Kelle Rhoads, brother of the late Randy Rhoads, Nick released his first record with Rhoads called Into the Future in Europe.

Continue reading Nick Menza 5/2016

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Paul Kantner 1/2016

Paul Kantner during Paul Kantner in Concert at Wetlands - 1992 at Wetlands in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Steve Eichner/WireImage)

January 28, 2016 – Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane founding guitarist) was born on March 17, 1941, in San Francisco, California. Kantner had a half-brother and a half-sister by his father’s first marriage, both much older than he. His father was of German descent, and his mother was of French and German ancestry. His mother died when he was eight years old, and Kantner remembered that he was not allowed to attend her funeral. His father sent him to the circus instead. After his mother’s death, his father, who was a traveling salesman, sent young Kantner to Catholic military boarding school. At age eight or nine, in the school’s library, he read his first science fiction book, finding an escape by immersing himself in science fiction and music from then on. As a teenager he went into total revolt against all forms of authority, and he decided to become a protest folk singer in the manner of his musical hero, Pete Seeger. He attended Saint Mary’s College High School, Santa Clara University and San Jose State College, completing a total of three years of college before he dropped out to enter the music scene.

Continue reading Paul Kantner 1/2016

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Allen Toussaint 11/2015

November 10, 2015 – Allen Toussaint was born January 14, 1938 in New Orleans.

Allen Toussaint has crossed many paths in his illustrious 40 years plus career in music. He has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by, and performed with music giants The Judds, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle, Mac “Dr. John” Rebannac, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, The (original) Meters, Glen Campbell, The Band, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones, Devo, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Eric Gale and the countless others.

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Billy Joe Royal 10/2015

Billy Joe RoyalOctober 3, 2015 – Singer Billy Joe Royal, best known for his pop hit “Down in the Boondocks” and a string of country singles in the 1980s,was born April 3, 1942 in Valdosta, Georgia.
As a young man he performed on the radio program “Georgia Jubilee,” which is where he met artists like Jerry Reed and Joe South. It was fellow Georgian Joe South who penned Mr. Royal’s 1965 breakout single, “Down in the Boondocks,” which peaked at No. 9. Royal would also find success with his follow-up single: another South-penned song, called “I Knew You When.”

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Gary Richrath 9/2015

music-reo-speedwagon-gary-richrathGary Richrath (REO Speedwagon) was born on October 18, 1949.

Gary Richrath provided much of the creative and driving force in the early days of the band, Gary Richrath wrote much of the material for REO Speedwagons first twelve albums. In 1977, Gary Richrath and other members of the band took over their own production, which resulted in the band’s first platinum album. Gary Richrath wrote many of the band’s most memorable songs including “Golden Country” from 1972, “Ridin’ the Storm Out” 1973, “Only the Strong Survive” 1979 and “Take It On the Run” from 1981.

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Ernie Maresca 7/2015

bronx popJuly 8, 2015 – Ernie Maresca was born on August 21st 1938 in the Bronx, New York City.

He began singing and writing in a doo-wop group, the Monterays, later renamed as the Desires, and, after Maresca left, as the Regents, who had a hit with “Barbara Ann”.
In 1957, his demo of his song “No One Knows” came to the attention of Dion DiMucci, who recorded it successfully with the Belmonts on Laurie Records, the record reaching #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart in 1958.

Ernie Maresca was a fairly successful songwriter in the New York doo wop/rock & roll scene in the first half of the 1960s, most known for writing several of Dion’s biggest hits (by himself or in collaboration with Dion): “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer,” “Lovers Who Wander,” “A Lover’s Prayer,” and “Donna the Prima Donna.”

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Ronnie Gilbert 6/2015

ronnie-gilbertJune 6, 2015 – Ruth Alice Ronnie Gilbert (the Weavers) was born on September 7, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York City.

Ronnie Gilbert was no stranger to success or to controversy. Born to working-class Jewish parents in New York City, she refused to participate in her 1940s high-school senior play because she was convinced of the racial injustice of the minstrel show theme.

The family moved to Washington, DC during World War II. This is where she met folklorist Alan Lomax and Woody Guthrie and other folk singers. She performed in the early 1940s with the Priority Ramblers.

In the 1950s, Gilbert melded her joyous contralto with the radical voices of Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman in their celebrated group the Weavers, which brought folk rhythms and social activism to the mainstream, even while being branded as subversives in the hysteria of the McCarthy era and blacklisted.

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Andrew Gold 6/2015

andrew goldJune 3, 2015 – Andrew Maurice Gold was born on August 2, 1951 at Burbank, Los Angeles, into a musical family. His father, Ernest Gold, composed the scores for dozens of Hollywood films, including Exodus (1960) — for which he won an Oscar — Too Much Too Soon (1958) and On The Beach (1959); his mother, the classically-trained soprano Marni Nixon, was best known for supplying the singing voices for film actresses, notably Deborah Kerr in The King And I (1956), Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961), and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964). She also appeared as Sister Sophia in The Sound Of Music (1965).

Andrew was 13 when he started writing pop songs, although he never learned to read music. At Oakwood School in north Hollywood, he introduced himself to the singer Linda Ronstadt when she played a gig there with her group the Stone Poneys . By the early 1970s he had joined her band, and in 1974 played a variety of instruments and made the musical arrangements for Linda Ronstadt’s breakthrough album Heart Like A Wheel, as well as for her next four albums. Among other accomplishments, he played the majority of instruments on “You’re No Good,” Ronstadt’s only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the same on “When Will I Be Loved,” “Heat Wave” and many other classic hits. He was in her band from 1973 until 1977, and then sporadically throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Continue reading Andrew Gold 6/2015

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BB King 5/2015

BB King with Paul ButterfieldMay 14, 2015 – Riley BB King was born on September 16, 1925. Little new can be said about BB King, who passed away in his sleep at age 89 on May 14, 2015 at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was the King of the iconic living bluesmen of all time, the legendary BB King.

A Kennedy Center honoree, a 15-time Grammy winner and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, has a museum bearing his name and landed the number six spot on Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Guitarists.”

He was born in Indianola, Mississippi and acquired the moniker BB King from his Memphis Days when he gained guitar wizardry as Beale Street Blues Boy. Continue reading BB King 5/2015

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Rutger Gunnarsson 5/2015

rutger-gunnarssonMay 8, 2015 – Rutger Gunnarsson was born in Linköping, Sweden on February 12, 1946.

Few bassists have played on records that have sold over 350 million copies: Paul McCartney, a handful of session kingpins like Carol Kaye, and – lesser known, but still brilliant–ABBA’s Rutger Gunnarsson.

He joined the ABBA family in 1972, when he was a classical guitar major at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music. A classmate tipped him off about a bass audition for the pre-ABBA band the Hootenanny Singers. ”Their act included a comedy part where the whole band sang harmony, so they started with that,” Rutger remembers. ”I sang my part right off the sheet-no problem to me – but it apparently impressed them enough to offer me the job on the spot. I didn’t even touch the bass!”

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A.J. Pero 3/2015

AJ PeroMarch 20, 2015 – A. J. Pero was born Anthony Jude Pero (Twisted Sister) on October 14th 1959.  He was initially a jazz drummer, later gravitating to heavier music akin to Rush and Led Zeppelin. He worked as a taxi driver for a time, and joined Cities, a local New York City band.

He joined Twisted Sister in 1981, after seeing them play at a club and being told they were in need of a drummer. After Twisted Sister in 1986, he re-joined Cities. He participated in the Twisted Sisters’ band’s 1997 reunion and continued to perform with them until his death. He was also a member of Ozzy Osbourne cover band No More Tears, well known around Staten Island, New York.

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Lewis Soloff 3/2015

Lew_SoloffMarch 8, 2015 – Lewis Soloff (Blood, Sweat & Tears) was born February 20, 1944 in New York. He was a jazz trumpeter, composer and actor, who studied trumpet at the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School. He worked with Blood, Sweat & Tears from 1968 until 1973. Prior to this, he worked with Machito, Tony Scott, Maynard Ferguson and Tito Puente.

In the 1980s he was a member of Members Only, a jazz ensemble who recorded for Muse Records. Soloff made frequent guest appearances with jazz orchestras all over the world such as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (directed by Wynton Marsalis) and the Magic City Jazz Orchestra (directed by Ray Reach). Soloff was a longtime member of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet and Mingus Big Band.

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Sam Andrew III 2/2015

Sam-AndrewFebruary 12, 2015 – Sam Andrew III was born in Taft, California on December 18, 1941, but having a military father he moved a great deal as a child. His early musical influences were Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard and by the time he was seventeen living in Okinawa, he already had his own band, called the “Cool Notes”, and his own weekly TV show, an Okinawan version of American Bandstand.  He also listened to a great deal of Delta blues. His brother Leland Andrew frequently stated his brother was the “Benny Goodman of Japan”.

He attended the University of San Francisco, and became involved with the San Francisco folk music scene of the early 1960s. However it was not until he returned from over a year in Paris and almost a year in Germany, that he met Peter Albin at 1090 Page Street. After playing together at Albin’s home, Sam suggested they form a band. They found guitarist James Gurley and drummer Chuck Jones, and Big Brother and the Holding Company was formed ready for their first gig, at the Trips Festival in January 1966. Soon after painter and jazz drummer David Getz, replaced Jones. As Big Brother and the Holding Company began to gel, Andrew brought many songs into the band. Continue reading Sam Andrew III 2/2015

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Danny McCulloch 1/2015

Danny MccullochJanuary 29, 2015 – Danny McCulloch (the New Animals) was born July 18, 1945 in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. Not even in his mid teens, he started out with local band The Avro Boys, who became Tony Craven & The Casuals. In 1960, the band linked up with new singer Frankie Reid and Danny remained with the group until October 1962.

During his time with The Casuals, one of the band’s drummers was Mitch Mitchell. Danny next joined Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages, before joining The Plebs. During 1966, he worked briefly with The Carl Douglas Set.

In late 1966, after the breakup of the original incarnation of The Animals, he joined the “New Animals”. They released a series of albums and hit singles, including “San Franciscan Nights“, “Monterey” and “Sky Pilot“. He and Vic Briggs were fired from the band and they started a duo career. In 1969 they released the album Wings of a Man.

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Demis Roussos 1/2015

Demis RoussosJanuary 25, 2015 – Demis Roussos (Aphrodite’s Child) was born as Artemios Ventouris Roussos in Alexandria, Egypt, on June 15, 1946. His family was greek and his father George was a classical guitarist and engineer, while his mother Olga was a singer. As a child, he studied music and joined the Greek Byzantine Church choir. When his parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis, they decided to move to Greece.

As a teenager Demis sang in several local groups, including The Idols, where he met Vangelis. In 1967 he formed rock band Aphrodite’s Child with his friends Vangelis and Loukas Sideras, initially as a singer, but later he also played bass guitar. The band set off for London to break into the international music scene but were turned back at Dover due to visa problems. They retreated to Paris where they decided to stay, signing a record deal there with Philips Records.

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Udo Jürgens 12/2014

Udo JurgensDec 21, 2014 – Udo Jürgens was born Udo Jürgen Bockelmann  on September 30, 1934  in Klagenfurt, Austria. Udo grew up in the family castle Ottmanach in Kärnten with his brothers John (1931) and Manfred (1943). In 1939 he gets a harp (harmonica) as a present and he teaches himself to play national anthems on it. In 1942 he moves up the ladder with an accordeon and six years later he gets his formal music education at the conservatory of Klagenfurt in piano, singing and compositions.

In the 1950 he won a composer contest organized by Austria’s public broadcasting channel ORF with the song “Je t’aime” and he gets his music education on the road with the Udo Bolan band and several other reincarnations. The 50s is a long learning curve and his first record deal comes apart in a big flop and in 1956 he changes his artist name into Udo Jürgens.

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Glenn Cornick 8/2014

Glenn Cornick, bass player for Jethro TullAugust 27, 2014 – Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull) was born on April 23rd 1947 in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England.

He attended Grammar school in that town, before taking up guitar, aged fifteen. Turning to the bass a year later, he left home and the local band scene and fled to the brighter city lights of Blackpool.

Glenn then played with a number of Blackpool-based groups including “The Executives”, a club cover band which played the hotels and clubs on a regular and almost professional basis as in 5 to 6 gigs a week.

Inspite of the financial steadiness with the Executives, he joined the John Evan’s Smash Band in 1966 which enjoyed maybe one gig a week, just before the point when the group was to attempt the brave move to seek full-time work in the south of England as a seven-piece Blues and Soul Band.

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Johnny Winter 7/2014

winter-624-1405612028July 16, 2014 – Legendary blues musician Johnny Winter died in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 16th, 2014 at age 70. There are plenty of reasons why that’s notable — Winter was one of the first blues rock guitar virtuosos, releasing a string of popular and fiery albums in the late Sixties and early Seventies, becoming an arena-level concert draw in the process — but it’s the barest facts that remain the most inspiring.

Johnny Dawson Winter, who was born on February  23rd, 1944 in little Beaumont, Texas, afflicted with albinism and 20/400 eyesight in one eye and 20/600 in the other, made an iconic life for himself by playing the blues.

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Bobby Womack 6/2014

Bobby Womack 70June 27, 2014 – Robert Dwayne Bobby Womack was born on March 4, 1944 into the songwriting and performing Womack family in Cleveland, Ohio’s Fairfax neighborhood.

Since the early 1960s, when he started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos and as Sam Cooke’s backing guitarist, Womack’s career spanned more than 60 years, during which he played in the styles of R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, gospel, and country.

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Randy Coven 5/2014

randycovenMay 20, 2014 – Randy Coven was born on Long Island New York in 1958. His neighborhood must have been a breeding ground for musical talent on guitar, sprouting superstars such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. The ’80s saw the emergence of quite a few technically accomplished hard rock bassists – tops being Billy Sheehan(RIP) and Stu Hamm — as well as several lesser-known (yet just as skilled) players, including Randy Coven. Word has it that another renowned player, bassist Jeff Berlin, lived nearby as well, and offered Coven some pointers early on. Learning bass by playing in local cover bands that specialized in the top hard rock names of the day (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, etc.),

Coven packed up his bags after high school graduation, and enrolled in Boston’s Berklee School of Music. The old adage ‘it’s a small world’ came into play, as it turned out Vai had enrolled in the same school as well.

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Cees Veerman 3/2014

Cees VeermanMarch 15, 2014 – Cees Veerman (the Cats) was born on October 6th 1943 in the Dutch town of Volendam, near Amsterdam. He initially played in the bands Electric Johnny & The Skyriders, Sputniks, Mystic Four and The Blue Cats, prior to becoming one of the founders of The Cats.

From the late 60s to the mid 70s, The Cats of which Cees was frontman and main song writer too, the band saw a large number of successes, including ‘Sure He’s a Cat’ and ‘Lea’ (1968), ‘Why’ (1969), ‘Marian’ (1970), ‘Where Have I Been Wrong’ (1970) and ‘Be My Day’ (1974). Their best-selling single was ‘One Way Wind’ from 1972, which reached No.3 in the Top 40.

The Cats are considered the founders of the Palingsound (Eel Sound), a category that is used to indicate a classic, typical Dutch style in pop music coming from the fishing village Volendam, famous for its wooden shoes.

Continue reading Cees Veerman 3/2014

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Paco de Lucia 2/2014

Paco de LucíaFeb 25, 2014- Paco de Lucia was born Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomes on December 21, 1947 in Algeciras, Southern Spain. He was the youngest of the five children of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sánchez Pecino and Portuguese mother Lúcia Gomes; his brothers include flamenco singer Pepe de Lucía and flamenco guitarist Ramón de Algeciras (deceased).

Playing in the streets as a young boy, there were many Pacos and Pablos in Algeciras, and as he wanted to honor his Portuguese mother Lucia Gomes, he adopted the stage name Paco de Lucía. In 1958, at age 11, Paco made his first public appearance on Radio Algeciras.

His father Antonio received guitar lessons from the hand of a cousin of Melchor de Marchena: Manuel Fernández (aka Titi de Marchena), a guitarist who arrived in Algeciras in the 1920s and established a school there. Antonio introduced Paco to the guitar at a young age and was extremely strict in his upbringing from the age of 5, forcing him to practice up to 12 hours a day, every day, to ensure that he could find success as a professional musician. Continue reading Paco de Lucia 2/2014

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Nossi Noske 2/2014

Bernd_NoskeFeb 18, 2014 – Nossi Noske (Birth Control) was born on August 17, 1946 in West Berlin. At age eight he was already singing in the School choir even though music was in those days competing with soccer. He was a very talented soccer player. He played his first gig with the Black Phantoms in the city of Spandau in 1961, but before he enrolled fully into a career as musician he packed food and drove trucks.

His first Band „The Odd Persons“ played gigs in West Germany which included the famous Starclub in Hamburg. In 1969 he succeeded Hugo Egon Balder, in the Band Birth Control, where he played drums and sang until his death in 2014.

In 1983 the band split for ten years after the death of their guitarist Bruno Frenzel; Nossi reunited the band in 1993. In those years he played with Bands such as HardbeatsMr. Goodtrip and Lilly & the Rockets.

Continue reading Nossi Noske 2/2014

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Pete Haycock 10/2013

pete-haycock-58October 30, 2013 – Pete Haycock was born on March 4, 1951 in Stafford, England. He attended St.John’s Primary School, then King Edward VI Boys Grammar School and played his first gig at a miners club at the age of 12.

In 1968 at 17, as lead guitarist, vocalist he founded the Climax Chicago Blues Band along with Richard Jones on bass, guitarist-vocalist Derek Holt, keyboardist Arthur Wood, George Newsome on drums and harmonica player- vocalist Colin Cooper. Two years later they changed their name to the Climax Blues Band in 1970. Continue reading Pete Haycock 10/2013

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Lou Reed 10/2013

lou-reed300October 27, 2013 –  Lou Reed was born Lewis Allan Reed into a Jewish family in Brooklyn , New York.

Although he acknowledged that he was Jewish, he always added, “My God is rock’n’roll. It’s an obscure power that can change your life. The most important part of my religion is to play guitar.”
Reed attended Atkinson Elementary School in Freeport on Long Island and went on to Freeport Junior High School, notorious for its gangs. As a teenager, he suffered panic attacks, became socially awkward and “possessed a fragile temperament” but was highly focused on things that he liked – principally music.

Reed resumed his education at Syracuse University in 1960, studying journalism, film directing, and creative writing. He was a platoon leader in ROTC and was later expelled from the program for holding an unloaded gun to his superior’s head. In 1961, he began hosting a late-night radio program on WAER called Excursions On A Wobbly Rail. Named after a song by pianist Cecil Taylor, the program typically featured doo wop, rhythm and blues, and jazz, particularly the free jazz developed in the mid-1950s. Continue reading Lou Reed 10/2013

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Phil Ramone 3/2013

phil ramoneMarch 30, 2013 – Philip “Phil” Ramone was born January 5th 1934 in South Africa but grew up in Brooklyn, New York. As a child in South Africa, he was a musical prodigy, beginning to play the violin at age three and performing for Princess Elizabeth at age ten. In the late 1940s he trained as a classical violinist at the Juilliard School, and opened his own recording studio before he was 20. He became a naturalized citizen of the USA on December 14th 1953.

A very talented recording engineer, record producer, violinist and composer, he co-founded A & R Recording, Inc. a recording studio with business partner Jack Arnold in 1958.

His early work in producing and engineering was with jazz artists, working on John Coltrane records and acting as engineer for the landmark Getz/Gilberto album in 1964, for which he won his first Grammy. He transitioned during the 1960s to working with folk-rock, pop-rock, and R&B acts such as Peter, Paul and Mary, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, first primarily as an engineer, and later as a producer. Continue reading Phil Ramone 3/2013

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Daevid
Allen
3/2013

Daevid AllenMarch 13, 2015 – Daevid Allen, was born Christopher David Allen on 13 January 1938 in Melbourne, Australia.

In 1960, inspired by the Beat Generation writers he had discovered while working in a Melbourne bookshop, Allen traveled to Paris, where he stayed at the Beat Hotel, moving into a room recently vacated by Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. While selling the International Herald Tribune around Le Chat Qui Pêche and the Latin Quarter, he met Terry Riley and also gained free access to the jazz clubs in the area.

In 1961 Allen traveled to England and rented a room at Lydden, near Dover, where he soon began to look for work as a musician. He first replied to a newspaper advertisement for a guitar player to join Dover-based group the Rolling Stones (no connection with the later famous band of that name) who had lost singer/guitarist Neil Landon, but did not join them. After meeting up with William S. Burroughs, and inspired by philosophies of Sun Ra, he formed free jazz outfit the Daevid Allen Trio (‘Daevid’ having been adopted as an affectation of David), which included his landlord’s son, 16-year-old Robert Wyatt. They performed at Burroughs’ theatre pieces based on the novel The Ticket That Exploded.

In 1966, together with Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge, they formed the band Soft Machine, the name having come from the Burroughs novel The Soft Machine. Ayers and Wyatt had previously played in Wilde Flowers.
Following a tour of Europe, Allen was refused re-entry to the UK because he had overstayed his visa on a prior visit. He returned to Paris where he formed a relationship with Gilli Smyth, who was teaching at the Sorbonne. With Daevid playing guitar and Gilli reciting poetry, the couple formed Gong. He also took part in the 1968 Paris protests which swept the city. He handed out teddy bears to the police and recited poetry in pidgin French. He admitted that he was scorned by the other protesters for being a beatnik.

Fleeing the police, he made his way to Deià, Mallorca, with his partner Gilli Smyth. It was here that he met the poet Robert Graves. Here also, he recorded Magick Brother (released on BYG Actuel in 1969), the first album under the name Gong. They were joined by flautist Didier Malherbe, whom they claim to have found living in a cave on Robert Graves’ estate.

The band is best known for their Radio Gnome Trilogy, made up of the albums Flying Teapots, Angel’s Egg and You. In 1970 Allen recorded and released his first solo album, Banana Moon which featured Robert Wyatt, among others.

In 1971 Gong released Camembert Electrique and between 1972 and 1974 they formed a somewhat of an anarchist commune in rural France. In 1977 he performed and recorded as Planet Gong. Daevid separated from Gilli in 1979, but they continued to have a professional relationship. In 1980 Daevid lived in America with new partner Maggie Brown and he teamed up with Bill Laswell for the punk-influenced band New York Gong, before returning to Australia with Maggie, taking up residence in Byron Bay. For many years, Daevid was a member of the University of Errors, who released four albums, and performed with the jazz rock band Brainville 3. He also recorded with Spirits Burning and worked with the noise band Big City Orchestra.

In November 2006 a Gong Family Unconvention was held in Amsterdam, which included a reunion of many former Gong members and in November 2007, he held a series of concerts in Brazil, with a branch of Gong, which was called Daevid Allen and Gong Global Family.

In 2013 , Daevid performed solo material and poetry at a special event entitled “Up Close with Daevid Allen”. He also joined The Invisible Opera Company of Tibet (UK) on stage to perform songs including the classic Gong song “Tried So Hard”. Daevid revelled in being the court jester of hippie rock and through his long of music never lost his enthusiasm for the transcendent power of the psychedelic experience. Never attaining the riches and fame of many of his contemporaries, which he deserved, did not concern him.

He once remarked: “Psychedelia for me is a code for that profound spiritual experience where there is a direct link to the gods”.

Daevid performed his final gig in his home town, Byron Bay, just two weeks before his death, back as a beat poet, for one final curtain fall on March 13th, 2015.

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Magic
Slim
2/2013

Magic SlimFebruary 21, 2013 – Magic Slim was born Morris Holt on August 7, 1937 inTorrance near Grenada, Mississippi. The son of sharecroppers, he followed blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf to Chicago, developing his own place in the Chicago blues scene.

He gave up the piano and turned to guitar after losing his right pinky finger in a cotton gin accident at age 13. In 1955 he moved to Chicago with his friend and mentor Magic Sam. The elder, Magic Sam/Samuel Maghett let Morris play bass in his band, and gave him his nickname Magic Slim. He returned to Mississippi to work and got his younger brother Nick interested in playing bass.

By 1965 he was back in Chicago and in 1970 Nick joined him in his group, the Teardrops. Slim’s recording career began in 1966, with the song “Scufflin'”, followed by a number of singles into the mid 1970s.

He became a Chicago blues fixture in his own right, developing a guitar style that blended a distinct vibrato with a slide-guitar-like sound formed with his bare fingers against the strings. Known for playing with picks on both the thumb and index finger of his right hand – a somewhat unusual technique for the blues – the guitarist was recognized as much for his powerful, gruff vocals as his musicianship. With more than 30 albums to his credit, Slim also was known for an encyclopedic mastery of the blues.

He recorded his first album in 1977, Born Under A Bad Sign, this was the first of 36 albums and during the 1980s he won his first W.C. Handy Award.

In 1982, guitarist prodigy John Primer joined the Teardrops and stayed and played for him for 13 years. Releases include Spider in My Stew on Wolf Records, and a 1996 Blind Pig release called Scufflin’, which presented the post-Primer line-up with the new addition of the guitarist and singer Jake DawsonIn 1994 Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Zoo Bar had been booking him for years. He was frequently accompanied by his son Shawn “Lil’ Slim” Holt, an accomplished guitarist and singer.

In 2003 Magic Slim and the Teardrops won the W.C. Handy Award as ‘Blues Band Of The Year’ for the sixth time.

Slim, who was a heavy smoker suffered from emphysema and heart problems, was forced by illness to cut short a tour with his band, the Teardrops, in late January. He was hospitalized in Phoenixville, but transferred later to Philadelphia.

There he died from multiple ailments on 21 February 2013 at the age of 75.

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Tony
Sheridan
2/2013

tony sheridanFeb 16, 2013 – Tony Sheridan was born Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity  was born May 21, 1940 in Norwich, England. To the rest of the world he was best known as the only non-Beatle to appear as lead singer on a Beatles recording which charted as a single, even though the record was labelled as being with “The Beat Brothers”. In Europe he was at times a superstar.

In his early life, Sheridan was influenced by his parents’ interest in classical music, and by age seven, he had learned to play the violin. He eventually came to play guitar, and in 1956, formed his first band. He showed enough talent that he soon found himself playing in London’s “Two I’s” club for some six months straight. In 1958, aged 18, he began appearing on Oh Boy, made by the ITV contractor ABC, playing electric guitar on such early rock classics as “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Glad All Over”, “Mighty Mighty Man” and “Oh Boy!”. He was soon employed backing a number of singers, reportedly including Gene Vincent and Conway Twitty while they were in England. In 1958 Johnny Foster sought to recruit Sheridan as a guitar player in Cliff Richard’s backing band (soon renamed the Shadows), but after failing to find him at the 2i’s Coffee Bar opted for another guitarist who was there, Hank Marvin.

Early in 1960, he performed in a tour of the UK, along with Vincent and Eddie Cochran. On 16 April, Vincent and Cochran rebuffed his request to ride along with them to the next venue, but he thereby escaped the road accident which would leave Cochran dead and Vincent badly injured.

Sheridan played guitar for Cherry Wainer on her recording of “Happy Organ”. Despite these successes, his penchant for being late, showing up without his guitar, etc., soon got him a reputation for having gone a bit “haywire”, and cost him much of his professional standing in England. Providentially, an offer for a gig came from Bruno Koschmider’s “Kaiserkeller” club in Hamburg, Germany for an English group to play there. Sheridan and others (including Colin “Melander” Crawley) joined an ad hoc group promptly dubbed “The Jets” and were put on the ship headed for Hamburg. As fate would have it, legal woes (i.e. lack of proper papers) caused “The Jets” to not last long, but Sheridan (and now-friend Colin “Melander” Crawley) were soon back onstage in Hamburg.

While performing in Hamburg between 1960 and 1963, Sheridan employed various backup bands, most of which were really “pickup bands”, or simply an amalgam of various musicians, rather than a group proper (though almost always including now bassist Colin “Melander” Crawley). However, in 1961, the young Beatles (with their line-up at the time of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best) who had met and admired Sheridan during their first visit to Hamburg in 1960, and who openly worked with him on their second visit, became even closer. The Beatles sometimes backed Sheridan, who, in turn, often joined the Beatles during their own sets backing them on guitar. They even visited Sheridan’s home and had jamming sessions in the back garden.

When German Polydor producer/A&R man Bert Kaempfert saw the pairing on stage, he suggested that Sheridan and the Beatles make some recordings together. Kaempfert viewed Sheridan as the one with “star” potential, and though they signed the Beatles to play on Sheridan’s records their contract with them stipulated that the four Beatles (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Best) were insured to play on a minimum of two songs.
These sessions produced Sheridan’s “My Bonnie” and “The Saints”, and the Beatles’ “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Cry for a Shadow” (formerly titled “Beatle Bop”), plus three other songs. Polydor’s beliefs in Sheridan’s coming stardom were so strong that they buried the two solo Beatle tracks until much later. Both John Lennon and Tony Sheridan swore that there were several other Beatle tracks that were recorded during the two-day session, but they have not resurfaced.

The record was released in America on Decca in 1962 with a black label and also in a pink label for demo play. The record has the distinction of being one of the most expensive collectible 45 rpm with the black label in mint condition selling for $15,000 in 2007 and the pink label selling for $3000. Ringo Starr briefly played in Sheridan’s backing band during very early 1962, before returning to Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Starr was reportedly unhappy with Sheridan performing songs he had not rehearsed with his band (other musicians made the same complaint, as well as about Sheridan’s penchant for fist-fights).

In the same year Polydor released the album My Bonnie across Germany. The word “Beatles” was judged to sound too similar to the Hamburgisch dialect word “Pidels” (pronounced “peedles”), the plural of a slang term for penis, hence the album was credited to “Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers”. Amusingly, that very unintentional-naughty-pun was the precise thing that so many young German fans had found amusing but enchanting. After the Beatles had gained fame, the album was re-released in the United Kingdom, with the credit altered to “Tony Sheridan and the Beatles”. The Beatles’ Hamburg studio recordings, as well as some live recordings from the same period, have been reissued many times.

In the mid-1960s, Sheridan’s musical style underwent a drastic transformation, away from his rock and roll roots and towards a more blues- and jazz-oriented sound. Though these recordings were praised by some, many fans of his earlier work felt wildly disappointed. This change was presaged by liner notes from his 1964 album Just a Little Bit of Tony Sheridan in which his musical preferences are listed as “jazz and classical” rather than rock. The liner notes also mention his wanting to visit the southern US “to hear at first hand the original negro music and experience the atmosphere that has been instrumental in creating negro jazz and the spiritual, for which he has a great liking.” Polydor continued releasing Sheridan singles through 1966 (though they only ever released two albums by him).

By 1967, Sheridan had become disillusioned with his Beatle-brought fame. As he was more concerned by the Vietnam War and the thought of further Communist aggression, as such Sheridan agreed to perform for the Allied troops. While in Vietnam however, the band that he had assembled was fired upon and one of the members was killed. For his work entertaining the Allies, Sheridan was made an honorary Captain of the United States Army. Due to the repeated shellings encountered there, Sheridan henceforth suffered a great sensitivity to the sounds of any kind of explosions even fireworks.

With his Polydor contract gone Sheridan did what he could to survive. In the early ’70’s he managed to cut a single as a pop duo teamed with Carole Bell, and they toured Europe together with fair success. Following that phase he returned to playing in Germany (usually Hamburg) or London. The mid-1970s, saw him deejaying a West German radio programme of blues music, which was well received. Somehow he then managed to record an entire live album of early rock classics, a number of which had been part of his and the young Beatles early live act but of many which had never gotten recorded.

Fortuitously in 1978 a record producer in America heard Sheridan’s early Polydor recordings (with and without the young Beatles), and was enthralled by Tony’s singing and playing. Immediately Sheridan was offered and wisely accepted the offer to come and record a whole studio album in Los Angeles. Making the entire thing sweeter was the fact that Elvis’ (now out of work) TCB Band was hired to play on the album along with top bassist (and former Hamburg friend) Klaus Voorman. A fine album of rock classics plus a few country tunes resulted but with NO major label release it was doomed to direct TV sales. And thus the possible prospect of a long American career in Las Vegas evaporated.

In 1978, the Star Club was reopened, and Sheridan performed there along with Elvis Presley’s TCB Band.

In 1991, Joe Sunseri, Sheridan biographer and then-manager, completed Nobody’s Child: The Tony Sheridan Story. However, due to a falling-out, the biography remained unpublished. A biography of Sheridan, titled The Teacher, was eventually published in 2013 by Norfolk author Alan Mann, a childhood-friend of Sheridan. This book was essentially an email question and answer interview. While repeated probings by the author DID bring out Sheridan’s one time of two weeks spent in an English jail, aside from that the author unfortunately takes Sheridan’s memory of things at total face value.

On 13 August 2002, Sheridan released Vagabond, a collection largely of his own material, but also including a new cover version of “Skinny Minnie”, a song he had years earlier recorded for his first album.

Tony played guitar and sang for the Argentinian rock musician Charly Garcia. The album was called Influencia and it was released in 2002. In 2015, Colin “Melander” Crawley – Sheridan’s former bassist, published another biography, Tony Sheridan – The One The Beatles Called “The Teacher”.

Of the two published biographies it definitely gives the most insight into Sheridan’s major career of the early ’60’s.

Tony Sheridan died on 16 February 2013 in Hamburg, after undergoing heart surgery. He was 72.

 

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Reg
Presley
2/2013

The TroggsFebruary 4, 2013 – Reginald Maurice Ball was  born on 12 June 1941 became better known by his stage name Reg Presley, 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.

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’.

The Troggs are widely seen as a highly influential band whose sound was an inspiration for garage rock and punk rock. Influential American critic Lester Bangs “called the band the progenitors of punk”, according to NPR. For example, the Troggs influenced artists such as Iggy Pop and the early version of British pop-punk pioneers Buzzcocks featured “I Can’t Control Myself” in their live repertoire. The Ramones are also amongst punk bands who cited the Troggs as an influence. “I Can’t Control Myself” is perhaps the most enduring favorite of critics; it continues to be championed for its originality and lasting influence by radio hosts such as “Little” Steven Van Zandt.
MC5 covered “I Want You” at their live shows and recorded the song for the album Kick Out the Jams, although they renamed it “I Want You Right Now”.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience famously covered “Wild Thing” during their appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, introducing it as the British/American joint “national anthem”, and climaxing with Hendrix burning his guitar.

More recently performing a live version of Wild Thing featuring Queen guitarist, Brian May to open the rockers ‘Wildlife Rocks’ event at Guildford Cathedral in May 2014.

In 1990, the first hit for the band Spiritualized was a cover of “Anyway That You Want Me”. This cover was later used in the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know.

“With a Girl Like You” is featured uncut in a school dance scene from the 1991 Nicole Kidman/Noah Taylor movie, Flirting. It is also featured in Shine, The Good Night and The Boat That Rocked.

In 1991, “Love Is All Around” was covered by R.E.M. during live performances and was released later that year as a B-side on their “Radio Song” single. They also performed an acoustic version of the song on MTV Unplugged.

In 1994, Scottish band Wet Wet Wet’s version of Love Is All Around spent fifteen weeks at number one in the UK after its inclusion in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The authorship royalties enabled Reg Presley’s 1990s research and publication on extraterrestrials and other paranormal phenomena.

The point-and-click adventure game Hopkins FBI features “I Can’t Control Myself” and “Lost Girl”.

A modified version of “Love Is All Around” was featured in the film Love Actually (2003), performed by actor Bill Nighy.

“The Troggs” was the name of the high school gang in the movie Bang Bang, You’re Dead, who persuade the main character to join them in attacking their high school.

“Trogg” is the name of one of Bane’s three henchmen in Dennis O’Neil’s Batman: Knightfall comic arc. The other henchmen are Byrd and Zombie, named after two other popular ’60s rock bands, the Byrds and the Zombies.

An in-studio tape of Reg Presley’s running commentary on a recording session, filled with in-fighting and swearing (known as The Troggs Tapes), was widely circulated in the music underground, and was included in the Archaeology box set, as well as the compilation album, The Rhino Brothers Present the World’s Worst Records. The in-group infighting is believed to be the inspiration for a scene in the comedy film, This is Spinal Tap, where the band members are arguing. Some of this dialogue was sampled by the California punk band The Dwarves on their recording of a cover version of the Troggs song “Strange Movies”.

Such was the influence Reg Presley and the Troggs had on Rock and Roll.

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Lee
Dorman
12/2012

Lee Dorman - Iron ButterflyDecember 21, 2012 – Douglas Lee Dorman was born in St. Louis on September 15, 1942 and moved to San Diego, CA in the mid 1960s.He began playing bass guitar in his teens, he became best known as a member of the psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly in the second part of the 1960s.

The band formed in 1966 in San Diego, California and signed its first record contract with Atco, a division of Atlantic Records, in 1967, according to the band’s Web site and in early 1968, their debut album Heavy was released. They were represented by the William Morris Agency who booked all their live concerts. The original members were Doug Ingle (vocals, organ), Jack Pinney (drums), Greg Willis (bass), and Danny Weis (guitar). They were soon joined by tambourine player and vocalist Darryl DeLoach. DeLoach’s parents’ garage on Luna Avenue served as the site for their almost nightly rehearsals.

Jerry Penrod and Bruce Morse replaced Willis and Pinney after the band relocated to Los Angeles in 1966 and Ron Bushy then came aboard when Morse left due to a critical family tragedy. All but Ingle and Bushy left the band after recording their first album in late 1967; the remaining musicians, faced with the possibility of the record not being released, quickly found replacements in bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Erik Brann (also known as “Erik Braunn” and “Erik Braun”) RIP 2003, and resumed touring and then recording the monster album In-a-Gadda-da-Vida.

In terms of sound, the group took inspiration from a variety of sources outside of the rock arena, such as the bongo playing of Preston Epps and the rhythm and blues music of Booker T and the MGs. Around this time, the band notably ran into Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page, who later stated that he used the group as partial inspiration for the name “Led Zeppelin”. In 1969, Led Zeppelin opened for Iron Butterfly at Fillmore East in New York, a fact Dorman was fond of noting.

A commonly related story says that In-a-Gadda-da-Vida was originally “In the Garden of Eden”, but at one point in the course of rehearsing and recording, singer Doug Ingle got drunk and slurred the words, creating the phonetic mondegreen that stuck as the title. However, the liner notes on ‘the best of’ CD compilation state that drummer Ron Bushy was listening to the track through headphones, and could not clearly distinguish what Ingle said when he asked him for the song’s title. An alternative explanation given in the liner notes of the 1995 re-release of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, is that Ingle was drunk, high, or both, when he first told Bushy the title, and Bushy wrote it down. Bushy then showed Ingle what he had written, and the slurred title stuck.

“In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” stayed on the national sales charts for two years and became a Top 40 radio hit and the album over time sold more than 30 million copies. The track has been featured in a number of films and television shows, including an episode of “The Simpsons.”

Dorman was an intricate part of the success of that song as he played bass in a style as if it was an equal instrument with the others which many considered an early example of moving from psychedelic rock to heavy metal.

When keyboardist Ingle left the band, due to the grueling tour schedules, Dorman founded another band, called Captain Beyond, in the 1970s. Captain Beyond was a rock group formed in Los Angeles in 1972 by ex-members of other prominent groups. Singer Rod Evans had been with Deep Purple; drummer Bobby Caldwell had worked with Johnny Winter; and guitarist Larry Rheinhart and Lee Dorman came from Iron Butterfly after they broke up. This lineup made their self-titled debut album for the Southern rock label Capricorn in 1972, after which Caldwell was replaced by Marty Rodriguez for their second album, Sufficiently Breathless(1973). Captain Beyond became inactive following the departure of Evans, but was reorganized in 1976. Caldwell returned, and drummer Willy Daffern was added as vocalist for Captain Beyond’s third album, Dawn Explosion (1977), recorded for Warner Bros. Dawn Explosion was Captain Beyond’s final effort.

From 1978 on Dorman continued touring with Iron Butterfly, during the many personnel changes, until he got too sick to do so in the early fall of 2012.

The last keyboard/singer of the band, German born Martin Gerschwitz, who had known Lee Dorman for seven years since he joined the band in 2005, said Mr. Dorman did not have any immediate surviving relatives at the time of his death.
He had suffered from heart problems for some time, a fact that ended his performing career in 2012.

Dorman was reportedly on a heart transplant list when he was found dead in his car, reportedly on his was to a doctor’s appointment, outside his home in Laguna Niguel, California, on December 21, 2012. He was 70 years old.

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Big Jim Sullivan 10/2012

bigjim92October 2, 2012 – Big Jim Sullivan was born James George Tomkins on February 14, 1941 British guitarist born in Middlesex. In 1959, he met Marty Wilde at The 2i’s Coffee Bar, and was invited to become a member of his backing group, the Wildcats, who were the warm up act on the television series, Oh, Boy!.

The Wildcats backed Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on their tour of Britain in 1960. In the 60s and 70s he also played on hits by Billy Fury, Frank Ifield, Adam Faith, Frankie Vaughan, Helen Shapiro, Freddie and the Dreamers, Cilla Black, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, Georgie Fame, Bobby Darin, Little Richard, The Walker Brothers, Donovan, David Bowie, Engelbert Humperdinck, Benny Hill, The New Seekers, Thunderclap Newman, Love Affair, Long John Baldry, Marmalade, Small Faces, The Tremeloes, Rolf Harris, George Harrison and many more as well as being a member of Tom Jones’ band.

He performed on no less than 55 No.1 hits singles during this life!!!

Continue reading Big Jim Sullivan 10/2012

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Joe
South
9/2012

Joe-South1September 5, 2012 – Joe South, aka Joseph Alfred Souter was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist born in Atlanta, Georgia on February 28, 1940. He started his pop career in July 1958 writing the novelty hit “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor”. In 1959, he wrote 2 songs which were recorded by Gene Vincent: “I Might Have Known” and “Gone Gone Gone”. He began his recording career with the National Recording Corporation, where he was staff guitarist along with other NRC artists Ray Stevens and Jerry Reed.

He was also a prominent sideman, playing guitar on the likes of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools”, Tommy Roe’s “Sheila”, and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album.

His 1969 “Games People Play”, a hit on both sides of the Atlantic was accompanied by a lush string sound, organ, and brass, the production won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Song and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

His compositions have been recorded by many artists, including Billy Joe Royal’s songs “Down in the Boondocks”, “I Knew You When”, “Yo-Yo”, later a hit for the Osmonds, and “Hush” later a hit for Deep Purple and Kula Shaker. Joe’s most commercially successful composition was Lynn Anderson’s 1971 monster hit “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden”, which was a hit in 16 countries and translated into many languages. Anderson won a Grammy Award for her vocals, and Joe won a Grammy Award for writing the song.

Joe was inducted into Georgia Music Hall of Fame. On September 5, 2012 he died from heart failure.

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Larry Hoppen 7/2012

July 24, 2012 – Larry Lewis Hoppen (Orleans) was born on January 12, 1951 in Ithaca New York. From a musical family, Larry learned to play keyboards, guitar, bass, melodica and trumpet. His mom took him on her nightclub gigs when he was 10!

After briefly trying Music Ed. at Ithaca College (1967-69), he left to pursue a career as a musical artist and never looked back. Between 1969 and 1971 his Ithaca band Boffalongo made 2 LPs for United Artists Records, including the original recording of “Dancin’ in the Moonlight”, later a hit by friends King Harvest. Soon after Boffalongo disbanded in late 1971, Larry got a call from singer/songwriter (then-future, now-former US Congressman, D-NY, 19) John Hall, inviting him to come to Woodstock, NY to join with the late Wells Kelly and himself to form Orleans, which he did in early 1972. Larry’s younger brother, Lance, joined the band in the fall of that year.

The band initially found its core audience touring the clubs and college circuit of the northeastern United States and it was not until their third album, Let There Be Music, released in March 1975, that the band scored its first Billboard Hot 100 hit with “Let There Be Music”followed by Orleans biggest hits “Still the One“, “Dance With Me” and “Love Takes Time“. It was Larry’s remarkable tenor that clearly defined the success of these hits.

In 1977 Larry joined Jerry Marotta in the backing band for Garland Jeffreys. He and Orleans continued to tour with the likes of Stephen Stills and Chicago. In the early 80s Larry and his brother Lance formed a side group, Mood Ring. After a stint in Nashville, Larry and Orleans returned to Woodstock, and slowly re-established their presence in the Northeast over the next couple of years.

During off times with the band Larry also performed and/or recorded with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Livingston Taylor, Lulu, Graham Parker, Blues Traveler, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Michael Franks, Levon Helm, the late great Michael Brecker, the late great Chet Atkins, the late great Artie Traum, John Sebastian, Bela Fleck, Felix Cavaliere, Edgar Winter, Robbie Dupree, Spencer Davis, Rick Derringer, Mark Farner, John  Ford Coley, Jimi Jamison, John Cafferty and many more.
 
Larry released 3 solo albums: “HandMade” and “Looking for the Light”, the latter being a flagship fundraising vehicle for his 501(c)3 nonprofit Sunshine for HIV Kids, and One of the Lucky Ones.
 
Larry continued to write, tour and record with Orleans until his death on July 24, 2012 from “a perfect storm of life’s pressures” as it states on the band’s website. They were scheduled to perform in a concert sponsored by morning TV’s “Fox & Friends” on Friday July 27th.
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Greg
Ham
4/2012

greg-hamApril 19, 2012 – Greg Ham (Men at Work) was born September 27, 1953 in Melbourne where he attended Camberwell Grammar School.

A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, he played saxophone, flute, keyboards, percussion, harmonica and guitar as well as vocals and is best known for playing multiple instruments as a key member in the 1980s band Men at Work.  They are the only Australian artists to have a simultaneous No.1 album and No.1 single in the United States with Business as Usual and “Down Under” respectively. They achieved the same distinction of a simultaneous No.1 album and No.1 single in the UK.

They also won the 1983 Grammy Award for Best New Artist; that same year, Canada awarded them a Juno Award for “International LP of the Year”. As an actor, Greg was a regular cast member on While You’re Down There. Later in life, he taught guitar at Carlton North Primary School in Melbourne.

Even though the circumstances of Greg’s death were initially circumspect, the autopsy confirmed a massive heart attack killed him at the age of 58, some days prior to the day he was found on April 19, 2012.

By some accounts, Ham’s personal demons of drug and alcohol dependency began as far back as Men at Work’s glory year: 1983. It was in that pivotal year that the band was touring nonstop as well as worldwide. The stress by all accounts was horrific, and fights between band mates were all too commonplace.

In regard to the band’s in-fighting, Hay told me in 1997, “The band broke into two sectors: me and Greg on one end and (John) Rees and (Jerry) Speiser on the other, with Ronny (Strykert) struggling to stay in a neutral corner.” One can only imagine what the lack of sleep, breakneck tour schedule and in-fighting must have done to a delicate, sensitive man like Greg Ham.

With his posh, two-story former home studio sold to help ease his financial woes, Ham purchased a rather dismal, smallish home (complete with a multitude of telephone poles and wires encircling it) just a few miles away from his former home. There he sat, in the heart of the business section of downtown Carlton North, Victoria, Australia, alone. Greg Ham found himself-despite his fame and high esteem among Australia’s music community-on very shaky ground.

On April 19, 2012, Greg Ham’s friends became alarmed when Ham’s telephone answering machine went unheeded for days on end. A subsequent inquiry among Ham’s neighbors revealed that no one had seen him for days. Ham’s long-time friend and pharmacist David Nolte went to the house in the afternoon, where he discovered Ham’s body in the front room of Ham’s home. An autopsy revealed that Ham had been dead for days.

Mr. Nolte, who runs a Rathdowne Street pharmacy, had known Ham for 30 years. He told the Australian press that he went to check on Ham after a friend was unable to contact him for some days. By the time that Nolte arrived at Ham’s home, it was already too late; Greg Ham was dead. His lifeless body was found in a sitting position against the wall in the home’s front room. He had suffered a fatal heart attack.

Said Nolte, ”Greg’s friend told me they tried to ring him over a number of days and … it kept going to voicemail and the cats obviously hadn’t been fed.”

In the aftermath of Ham’s sudden demise, an unnamed friend of Ham’s stepped forward with the alarming claim that Ham’s abuse issues were far more serious than what had been previously reported. This “mystery man” alleged that Ham had been heavily using heroin, and that Ham’s abuse of alcohol had intensified after the Kookaburra case. Observed the friend, sadly shaking his head, ”The whole case had undone him.”

Immediately following the death of Greg Ham, furious fans began a barrage of hate mail and threatening phone calls to Larrikin Music Publishing Company and Norman Lurie retired not long after.

Greg Ham’s family and friends held a private funeral for Ham at the Fitzroy Town Hall in Melbourne, on May 2, 2012. Gregory Norman Ham was finally laid to rest at The Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton, Victoria, Australia: Roman Catholic area of plots, Compartment O, Section 3, Row 1 Grave 55.

Said Colin Hay, fondly recalling his band mate (and beloved friend of 40 years) “He was the funniest person I knew. We shared countless, unbelievably memorable times together, from stumbling through Richmond after playing the Cricketers Arms, to helicoptering into New York City to appear on ‘Saturday Night Live’, or flying through dust storms in Arizona, above the Grand Canyon. We played in a band and conquered the world together. I love him very much. He’s here forever. He was a beautiful man!”

I heartily agree, Colin.

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Eddie King 3/2012

eddie-kingMarch 14, 2012 – Eddie King (Blues Guitarist) was born Edward Lewis Davis Milton on April 21st 1938 in Lineville, near Talladega, Alabama. His parents were both musical: his father played the guitar, and his mother was a gospel singer. After his mother died in 1950 he moved to Kentucky with some of his brothers and sisters, and then on to Chicago in 1954 with an uncle. His earliest musical influences were his parents. His dad played guitar and his mom sang. “My dad played country blues just like John Lee Hooker.

For a blues musician to change his surname to King to get attention may seem a bit on the ludicrous side, kind of like an actor or actress changing his or her name to Barrymore. But this is just what guitarist Eddie Milton did when he transformed himself into Eddie King, becoming in the process the least well-known of the blues guitar King dynasty; despite his tireless efforts as a sideman with many blues greats, as well as a career as a bandleader during the later part of his life. He was born Edward Lewis Davis Milton in Alabama, eventually gravitating toward the busy blues scene of Chicago’s South and West Side in the late ’50s and ’60s. His earliest musical influences were his parents, including a father who apparently played country blues guitar in the John Lee Hooker style. His mother was also a blues and gospel singer.

As a youngster, he was too young to get into blues clubs, but learned guitar by smushing his face up against the windows, watching the guitarists in action, memorizing the patterns and runs he saw on the fret board, then finally sprinting home to see if he could remember any of it. Milton’s musical peers were players from the second generation of Windy City bluesmen who came up on the sounds of artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. Some of these associates, such as Luther Allison, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, and Freddie King, became fairly big on the international blues scene; while others, such as the wonderful Eddie C. Campbell or Milton, became better known as typical examples of high quality blues artists that were basically laboring in obscurity.

A fairly short fellow, he learned to get around the taller and sometimes somewhat better guitar competition by learning to be a showman. “Little Eddie” was actually his first stage name, obviously leading to confusion with the rhythm & blues artist Little Milton. When he began picking in a style heavily influenced by B.B. King, Little Eddie King became first a nickname only used by friends, but evolved into a stage name as well. Another diminutive bluesman, Little Mac Simmons, gave him his first big break, although the reason for the hiring might have had more to do with not wanting to have any taller sidemen on-stage than his musical ability. Eddie King’s first recordings were with bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon, leading to a second guitar position on several Sonny Boy Williamson II sides in 1960.

The next major period in his career was as lead guitarist with Koko Taylor. He was with this fiery blues singer for more than two decades. In 1969, he and bassist Bob Stroger formed Eddie King & the Kingsmen, a group that worked together off and on for the next 15 years, at first overlapping with the Taylor stint. From the early ’80s onward, he had been based out of Peoria, IL.

Besides his exciting guitar work, King is also known as a superior soul shouter, again in a style modeled after the singing of B.B. King. He presented a mixed bag from blues history, ranging from modern urban blues to the type of country blues he grew up with. He also ventured into the Southern soul genre, and would mix up the material of a given gig based on what the audience is responding best to. Young players such as bassist Jamie Jenkins, drummer Kevin Gray, and Doug Daniels doubling on sax and keyboards were regular members of his combos. As a bandleader, King demonstrated that he may have been a late bloomer as a songwriter, but that in blues it is never too late to come up with good material.”

The Swamp Bees was the name of his own group since the ’90s, and this outfit has swarmed onto stages at blues venues nationally and internationally and his output incorporated Chicago blues, country blues, blues shouter, and soul.

Shy, but with a lots of soulful feeling and no wasted notes, he played a variety of styles from the urban blues of Albert King, to the some county blues, to southern soul, to a more sophisticated B.B. King style and pulled it all together with an approach that quickly earned your respect. He also liked to mix up his songs for the crowd, playing blues, soul and R&B depending on how he was reading the audience at the moment.

Into his 60s, he still was playing with the energy of a young man. His first solo record finally came out when others his age were busy concentrating on collecting their senior citizen’s benefits. The album, The Blues Has Got Me (1987), was issued by the Netherlands-based record label Black Magic and later re-released by Double Trouble. It featured one of his sisters, Mae Bee May, on vocals.

In 1997, King recorded the well-received but obscure Another Cow’s Dead album on a small label co-owned by a belly dancer. This album won a W.C. Handy Award for best comeback album of the year. It was arranged by Lou Marini. His songwriting credits include “Kitty Kat”, described by one music journalist as “hilarious”.

King died in Peoria, Illinois on March 14, 2012, at the age of 73. In October 2012, the Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit organization, placed a headstone on King’s unmarked grave at the Lutheran Cemetery in Peoria.

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Davy Jones 2/2012

davy jonesFebruary 29, 2012 – David “Davy” Jones (The Monkees) was born on December 30th 1945 in Manchester, England and at age 11 began an acting career, appearing on the soap opera ‘Coronation Street’, produced by Granada Television in Manchester, where in 1961 he played Colin Lomax, the grandson of Ena Sharples.

However, after the death of his mother when he was 14, Davy made a career change and became a jockey, training with Basil Foster for awhile. (Jones cared for Foster in his later years, bringing him to the United States and providing him with financial support).

Even though he could have been one of the greats according to insiders, he was soon back in the public entertainment eye, first on stage in London’s West End and then on Broadway, playing the Artful Dodger, in the show Oliver!, which was nominated for a Tony Award. He also had a starring cameo role in a hallmark episode of The Brady Bunch television show and later reprised parody film; Love, American Style; and My Two Dads.

On February 9th 1964, Davy appeared with the Broadway cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show, the same episode on which The Beatles made their first appearance. Jones said of that night, “I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that.” At that time Jones was considered one of the great teen idols.

Following his Ed Sullivan appearance, Jones signed a contract with Ward Sylvester of Screen Gems (then the television division of Columbia Pictures). A pair of American television appearances followed, as Jones received screen time in episodes of Ben Casey and The Farmer’s Daughter.

Jones debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of 14 August 1965, with the single “What Are We Going To Do?” The 19-year-old singer was signed to Colpix Records, a label owned by Columbia. His debut album David Jones, on the same label, followed soon after. In 1967 the album was issued in the UK, in mono only, on the Pye Records label. A collector’s item today.

From 1966 to 1971, Jones was a member of the Monkees, a pop-rock group formed expressly for a television show of the same name. With Screen Gems producing the series, Jones was shortlisted for auditions, as he was the only Monkee who was signed to a deal with the studio, but still had to meet producers Bob Rafelson’s and Bert Schneider’s standards. Jones sang lead vocals on many of the Monkees’ recordings, including “I Wanna Be Free” and “Daydream Believer”.

The NBC television series the Monkees was popular, and remained in syndication. After the group disbanded in 1971, Jones reunited with Micky Dolenz as well as Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart in 1974 as a short-lived group called Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. In the period after disbanding the Monkees he went back to TV and fashion and some half assed efforts in music.

A Monkees television show marathon (“Pleasant Valley Sunday”) broadcast on 23 February 1986 by MTV resulted in a wave of Monkeemania not seen since the group’s heyday. Jones reunited with Dolenz and Peter Tork from 1986 to 1989 to celebrate the band’s renewed success and promote the 20th anniversary of the group. A new top 20 hit, “That Was Then, This Is Now” was released (though Jones did not perform on the song) as well as an album, Pool It!.

Monkees activity ceased until 1996 when Jones reunited with Dolenz, Tork and Michael Nesmith to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band. The group released a new album entitled Justus, the first album since 1967’s Headquarters that featured the band members performing all instrumental duties. It was the last time all four Monkees performed together.

In February 2011, Jones confirmed rumors of another Monkees reunion. “There’s even talk of putting the Monkees back together again in the next year or so for a U.S. and UK tour,” he told Disney’s Backstage Pass newsletter. “You’re always hearing all those great songs on the radio, in commercials, movies, almost everywhere.” The tour (Jones’s last) came to fruition entitled, An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour.

Not much later on February 29, 2012, the leap year day, Davy died from a massive heart attack at age 66.

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Jerry
Leiber
8/2011

songwriting partners leiber and stollerAugust 22, 2011 – Jerome ‘Jerry’ Leiber was born on April 25th 1933 in Baltimore, Maryland, where his parents, Jewish immigrants from Poland, ran a general store. When Jerry was 5, his father died and his mother tried, with little success, to run a small store in one of the city’s worst slums. When he was 12, she took him to Los Angeles. At aged 17, as a senior at Fairfax High, Jerry met his composer-songwriting partner Mike Stoller, a blues fanatic pianist, and they formed the legendary 6 decade plus, writing partnership of Leiber and Stoller.

It was while attending Fairfax High in Los Angeles and working in Norty’s Record Shop that he met Lester Sill, a promoter for Modern Records, and confessed that he wanted to be a songwriter. After Sill urged him to find a pianist who could help him put his ideas onto sheet music he met Mr. Stoller through a friend, and the two began writing together

“Often I would have a start, two or four lines,” Mr. Leiber told Robert Palmer, the author of “Baby, That Was Rock & Roll: The Legendary Leiber and Stoller” (1978). “Mike would sit at the piano and start to jam, just playing, fooling around, and I’d throw out a line. He’d accommodate the line — metrically, rhythmically.”

Within a few years they had written modestly successful songs for several rhythm-and-blues singers: “K.C. Lovin’ ” for Little Willie Littlefield, which under the title “Kansas City” became a No. 1 hit for Wilbert Harrison, years later in 1959.

In 1952, Sill arranged for Mr. Leiber and Mr. Stoller to visit the bandleader Johnny Otis and to listen to several of the rhythm-and-blues acts who worked with him, including Big Mama Thornton, who sang “Ball and Chain” for them. Inspired, the partners went back to Mr. Stoller’s house and wrote “Hound Dog.”

“I yelled, he played,” Mr. Leiber told Josh Alan Friedman, the author of “Tell the Truth Until They Bleed: Coming Clean in the Dirty World of Blues and Rock ’n’ Roll” (2008). “The groove came together and we finished in 12 minutes flat. I work fast. We raced right back to lay the song on Big Mama.”

Together they played a key role in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, writing and composing iconic hits as “Hound Dog” which originally topped the “race” music charts as a rhythm and blues single by Big Mamma Thornton in 1953. The song became an enormous hit for Elvis Presley in 1956 and made Leiber and Stoller the hottest songwriting team in rock ’n’ roll. (All totaled, Presley recorded more than 20 Leiber and Stoller songs.)

In 1953 Leiber and Stoller formed Spark Records, an independent label, with Sill, but without national distribution it failed to score major hits. Atlantic Records, which had bought the Leiber and Stoller song “Ruby Baby” and “Fools Fall in Love” for the Drifters, signed them to an unusual agreement that allowed them to produce for other labels. The golden age of Leiber and Stoller began.

They wrote “Jailhouse Rock,” “Loving You,” “Don’t,” “Treat Me Nice,” “King Creole” and other songs for Presley, despite their loathing for his interpretation of “Hound Dog.”

In the late 1950s, having relocated to New York and taken their place among the constellation of talents associated with the Brill Building, they emerged as perhaps the most potent songwriting team in the genre.

Their hits for the Drifters remain some of the most admired songs in the rock ’n’ roll canon, notably “On Broadway,” written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. “Spanish Harlem,” which Mr. Leiber wrote with Phil Spector, gave Ben E. King his first hit after leaving the Drifters. King’s most famous recording, “Stand By Me,” was a Leiber-Stoller song on which he collaborated.

They wrote a series of hits for the Coasters, including “Charlie Brown,” “Young Blood” with Doc Pomus, “Searchin’,” “Poison Ivy” and “Yakety Yak.”

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a 1954 hit written for the Robins, became the title of a Broadway musical based on the Leiber and Stoller songbook.

In the mid-1960s, Leiber and Stoller started concentratinbg more on production. They founded Red Bird Records, where they turned out hit records by girl groups like the Dixie Cups (“Chapel of Love”) and the Shangri-Las (“Leader of the Pack,” “Walking in the Sand”). They sold the label in 1966 and then worked as independent producers and writers. Peggy Lee, who had recorded their song “I’m a Woman” in 1963, recorded “Is that All There Is?” in 1969, a song that earned her a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy.

Their last major hit production was “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel, taken from the band’s 1972 eponymous debut album, which the duo produced. In 1975, they recorded Mirrors, an album of art songs with Peggy Lee. A remixed and expanded version of the album was released in 2005 as Peggy Lee Sings Leiber and Stoller.

In the late 1970s, A&M Records recruited Leiber and Stoller to write and produce an album for Elkie Brooks; Two Days Away (1977) proved a success in the UK and most of Europe. Their composition “Pearl’s a Singer” (written with Ralph Dino & John Sembello) became a hit for Brooks, and remains her signature tune. In 1978, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris and her pianist-composer husband William Bolcom recorded an album, Other Songs by Leiber and Stoller, featuring a number of the songwriters’ more unusual (and satiric) works, including “Let’s Bring Back World War I”, written specifically for (and dedicated to) Bolcom and Morris; and “Humphrey Bogart”, a tongue-in-cheek song about obsession with the actor. In 1979, Leiber and Stoller produced another album for Brooks: Live and Learn.

In 1982, Steely Dan member Donald Fagen recorded their song, “Ruby Baby”, on his album, The Nightfly. That same year, former Doobie Brothers member Michael McDonald released “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)”, adapted from Leiber and Stoller’s “I Keep Forgettin'”.

In all, Leiber and Stoller wrote or co-wrote more than 200 tunes, producing over 70 chart hits. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985.

In 1987, the partners were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have written some of the most spirited and enduring rock ’n’ roll songs,” the hall said in a statement when they were inducted. “Leiber and Stoller advanced rock ’n’ roll to new heights of wit and musical sophistication.”

In 2009, Simon & Schuster published Hound Dog: The Leiber and Stoller Autobiography, written by Leiber and Stoller with David Ritz.

On August 22, 2011, Leiber died in Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, aged 78, from cardio-pulmonary failure.

Leiber and Stoller dawned on the music scene at a time of stylistic rumblings and movement into new territory of popular music, a time when the authentic American rhythm and blues of the black world was beginning to be embraced by the general music-buying public, a time when the phenomenon of crossover became apparent with the daily programming assistance of legendary disc jockeys like Alan Freed, a Cleveland on-air personality who is said to have coined the phrase, rock and roll.

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Michael
Been
8/2010

the call's frontman Michael BeenAugust 19, 2010 – Michael Kenneth Been (the Call, Aorta, H.P. Lovecraft) was born on April 15, 1950 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He spent his childhood in Oklahoma City. At the age of seven he won a talent contest at a local fair and began performing on local television and radio as “Little Elvis”.”I grew up on rock and roll,” he recalled. “I saw Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show and I was never the same. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. I started playing guitar as soon as I was old enough. When I was a kid, music just seemed to take up so much of my day voluntarily. That’s how I wanted to spend my time.”

In the mid-1960s the Been family moved to Chicago, where he attended high school and the University of Illinois, and experimented with comedy, beating his friend John Belushi to second place in the Illinois state competition. In Chicago, he saw the blues greats Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed, and started a group called Aorta, which was strongly influenced by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and The Band, whose members Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson would later record with The Call.

Between 1969 and 1971 Been was in Lovecraft, a spin-off of the psychedelic group HP Lovecraft, and, after relocating to California in 1972, he joined Fine Wine, which featured two former members of another legendary psychedelic outfit, Moby Grape. However, he really made his mark in 1979 when he started Moving Pictures, soon renamed The Call, with a fellow Oklahoman, drummer Scott Musick, and two Santa Cruz locals, guitarist Tom Ferrier and bassist Greg Freeman. “It all fell together so naturally,” he said. “We played together so effortlessly and trusted each other.”

In 1980 they travelled to the UK to record demos and saw Joy Division and the Gang Of Four. “The British weren’t so concerned with technique and orthodox standards, they just played like their lives depended on it,” Been said. “In fact, everyone thought we were an English band.” In 1982, they signed to Mercury and recorded their eponymous debut in Britain with noted producer Hugh Padgham. Through him, they met Gabriel, who called them “the future of American music.”

The Call made a big impression with their 1983 follow-up, the hard-hitting Modern Romans. Been recalled then: “There was a great deal happening politically – Grenada, the Lebanon – the US government saying the Russians are evil. That kind of thinking inspired me to write the last lines of ‘The Walls Came Down’. The album reflected the times.”

Unfortunately, a dispute between the group, their management and Mercury affected the release of Scene Beyond Dreams in 1984 and left them in limbo until they signed to Elektra two years later. Keyboard-player Jim Goodwin replaced Freeman, while Been switched from guitar to an Ampeg fretless bass, and they made Reconciled at the Power Station studio in New York. Gabriel and Kerr sang background vocals on “Everywhere I Go”, the album’s strong opener, and both that track and “I Still Believe” gained considerable airplay, though they lost momentum with the more introspective Into The Woods in 1987 before moving to the MCA label. The following year, The Call achieved their highest chart placings with the big-sounding Let The Day Begin album, which featured the actor Harry Dean Stanton, whom Been had met while making The Last Temptation of Christ, on harmonica.

The Call’s anthemic, socially conscious, spiritually influenced music drew critical comparisons to Irish superstars U2, and the admiration of people such as film director Martin Scorsese, who in 1988 cast Been as John the Apostle in “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

“I had the pleasure and honor to spend a fair amount of time with Michael Been while touring America. It really was an honor. Simple Minds may have been the headliners, but there was no doubt that is was us who looked up to our opening act The Call. All of which stood to reason. We may have just topped the Billboard charts, but we all knew it was Michael who was the ‘real deal’ in comparison to ourselves who, at that time, had buckets of chutzpah, well enough to disguise the fact that, by and large we were still well wet behind the ears. By that time, Michael had already lived ‘an artist’s life’ and travelled far and wide, both in body and mind, from the dusty backroads of Oklahoma.
“A preacher and a teacher, Michael was always much more than your usual ‘ten-a-penny’ careerist ’80s rock star. As driven as he was with his beliefs, he was far from sanctimonious and always a hoot to be around. He had a similar soul that one perceives in true American greats such as Robbie Robertson, but he also had the wickedly spirited comedy of John Belushi draped all around him. Both Charlie [Burchill, the Simple Minds guitarist] and myself adored Michael.”

Following 1990’s Red Moon, which had Bono on the gospel-tinged “What’s Happened To You”, The Call disbanded, though they returned with one more studio album in 1997. Been composed and recorded the music for Light Sleeper, the 1992 offbeat drama starring Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon and directed by Paul Schrader, and also collaborated with Rosie Vela and Bruce Cockburn.

In 1994, Been released a solo album, On The Edge Of A Nervous Breakthrough. Vice President Al Gore adopted The Call’s high-blooded “Let the Day Begin” as the theme for his presidential campaign, and Been’s music was used in such films as “The Lost Boys,” “Tango & Cash” and “Light Sleeper.”
Over the last decade, he devoted most of his time and energy to mentoring Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the indie rock trio formed in San Francisco by his son, Robert Levon Been, and Peter Hayes. He engineered and co-produced several of their albums and is listed as sole producer of their most recent recording, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo. He was working as BRMC’s sound engineer when he suffered a heart attack backstage at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium.

Been died from a heart attack suffered while he was at Belgium’s Pukkelpop Festival) on August 19, 2010. He was 60.

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Larry Knechtel 8/2009

famous session musician larry knechtelAugust 20, 2009 – Lawrence William Larry Knechtel (Bread, The Wrecking Crew) was born on August 4, 1940 in Bell, California. Larry took piano lessons in his pre-teen years. Naturally gifted with perfect pitch, Larry moved beyond sheet music and started playing by ear. An interest in radio and electronics prompted him to build his own crystal radio, which introduced him to the blues and early rock-n-roll which was being aired by local R&B stations. Excited by what he heard, Larry purchased 45’s of black R&B artists and studied them intently. He also joined an inner-city youth band which included players from several local schools in the central Los Angeles area. This proved to be a fertile experience which introduced him to other good players, some of whom later became noted session musicians, among them saxophonist Jim Horn and guitarist Mike Deasey.

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Ellie Greenwich 8/2009

ellie greenwich picAugust 26, 2009 – Eleanor Louise “Ellie” Greenwich (October 23, 1940 – August 26, 2009) was born in Brooklyn New York into an immigrant family with an amateur music tradition. At age ten she was quite proficient on the accordion which she later replaced for piano when she started writing music and performing. In the sixties she was the driving force of a music partnership that brought rock and roll to the foreground with classic pop songs such as “Chapel of Love,” “River Deep, Mountain High”, “Doo Wah diddy” and “Be My Baby”.

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Danny McBride 7/2009

July 23, 2009 – Danny McBride (Sha Na Na) was born Daniel Hatton on November 20, 1945 in Reading, Massachusetts, where he graduated at Reading Memorial High School in 1963, where he would entertain his childhood friends with puppet shows, and then graduated from Boston University in 1970. After graduating he went into broadcasting, starting as a news reporter on a North Carolina radio station.

McBride and his group, the Cavaliers, had been popular in the early/mid 60’s Boston music scene, but McBride later became widely known as lead guitarist and lead singer for Sha Na Na during their heyday and on their own TV series of the same name.

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Pierre Delanoë 12/2006

Pierre DelanoeDecember 27, 2006 – Pierre Delanoë was born Pierre Charles Marcel Napoléon Leroyer on December 16, 1918 in Paris, France.

After studying and receiving a law degree, Delanoë began worked as a tax collector and then a tax inspector. After World War II he met singer Gilbert Bécaud and started a career as a lyricist. He did sing with Bécaud in clubs in the beginning, but this did not last long.

He has written some of France’s most beloved songs with Bécaud, including “Et maintenant“, translated into English as “What Now My Love“, which was covered by artists including Agnetha Fältskog, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, The Supremes, Sonny & Cher, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, and The Temptations. Another international hit “Je t’appartiens” (“Let It Be Me”) was covered by The Everly Brothers, Tom Jones, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Nina Simone and Nofx. “Crois-moi ça durera” was covered as “You’ll See” by Nat King Cole.

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Shirley Goodman 7/2005

shirley-goodmanJuly 5, 2005 – Shirley Goodman was born on June 19th 1936 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Goodman first developed her piercing vocal style in her Baptist church choir, additionally harmonizing with friends on area street corners. She made her official debut at age nine, appearing in a local amateur revue. When she was 13, Goodman joined with several schoolmates to record the demo “I’m Gone,” produced by Cosimo Matassa — when Matassa played the master for Aladdin Records owner Eddie Messner some months later, the exec pinpointed Goodman’s high-pitched wail and tracked the girl down, offering her a record deal and partnering her with another local teen, Leonard Lee, a longtime family friend whose deep, bluesy voice proved an ideal complement. With Dave Bartholomew installed as producer, Shirley & Lee cut their debut single, “I’m Gone,” opting against traditional harmonies in favor of a contrasting boy-girl duet structure that would prove deeply influential on the development of ska and reggae.

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Rick James 8/2004

King of Funk Rick JamesAugust 6, 2004 – Rick James was born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr on February 1st 1948 in Buffalo, New York. He was one of eight children. James’ father, an autoworker, left the family when James was ten. His mother was a dancer for Katherine Dunham, and later ran errands for the Mafia to earn a living. James’ mother would take him on her collecting route, and it was in bars where she worked that James got to see performers such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Etta James perform.

When he found himself ordered to Vietnam in 1965, he fled for Toronto, where he made friendships with then-local musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. To avoid being caught by military authorities, James went under the assumed name, “Ricky James Matthews”. That same year, James formed the Mynah Birds, a band that produced a fusion of soul, folk and rock music. The band briefly recorded for the Canadian division of Columbia Records, releasing the single, “Mynah Bird Hop”/”Mynah Bird Song”.

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Erik Brann 7/2003

July 25, 2003 – Erik Brann or Braunn was born Rick Davis on August 11th 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts. At 6 while being a resident in Boston, Massachusetts, Erik was accepted as a child into the prodigy program  for violin at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. By age 7 he was performing in concerts as violinist. In his early teens he moved to guitar and California with his parents. Starting on the guitar in 1963 Erik studied with local L.A. legends Milt Norman and Duke Miller. The latter noted that every time he gave the precocious Braunn a lesson, Erik would come back with a song he had written around the lesson. Not one to interfere with a budding George Gershwin, Miller encouraged the habit. While in high school, Erik also studied acting from the now renown Robert Carelli and won several awards for Elizabethan Comedy, Shakespeare, and a First Place Award for his lead role in “Dino” at the USC Dramatic Acting Festival. This was followed by another first place in the Elizabethan Comedy “A Shoemakers Holiday” at UCLA.

He recorded an album with his first band “The Paper Fortress” at the age of fourteen before he joined Iron Butterfly’s second line up at the age of sixteen. He was the last of over forty guitarists to audition and was accepted on the spot.

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Maurice Gibb 1/2003

Maurice GibbJanuary 12, 2003 – Maurice Ernest Gibb (the BeeGees) was born in Douglas, Isle of Man on 22 December 1949, as the fraternal twin of Robin Gibb, and was the younger of the two by 35 minutes. At that time, he had one sister, Lesley, and one other older brother, Barry.

In January 1955, the Gibbs moved back to Manchester, England. Around 1955, Gibb and his brothers were heard harmonizing by their parents. Also in 1955, he started his music career when he joined the skiffle/rock and roll group the Rattlesnakes with his brothers and two friends, Paul Frost and Kenny Horrocks, who were their neighbours. The group’s first major appearance was on 28 December 1957 when they performed at a local Gaumont cinema where children were invited to sing between films. They had planned to sing along to a 78 rpm record which Lesley had just been given as a Christmas present, but on the way Gibb and his brother Robin dropped and broke it, so they sang live. The audience were pleased by their singing, which reportedly may have been the song “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers.

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John Lee Hooker 6/2001

John Lee Hooker 500June 21, 2001 – John Lee Hooker was born on August 22, 1912, in Tutwiler or Clarksdale, Mississippi. The Hooker children were home-schooled. Since they were only permitted to listen to religious songs, the spirituals sung in church were their earliest exposure to music. In 1921, his parents separated. The next year, his mother married William Moore, a blues singer who provided Hooker with his first introduction to the guitar (and whom he would later credit for his distinctive playing style).

Moore was his first significant blues influence. He was a local blues guitarist, who learned in Shreveport, Louisiana, to play a droning, one-chord blues that was strikingly different from the Delta blues of the time. Continue reading John Lee Hooker 6/2001

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Jack Nitzsche 8/2000

composer/songwriter jack nitzscheAugust 25, 2000 – Bernard Alfred ‘Jack’ Nitzsche was born on April 22, 1937 to German immigrant parents and raised on a farm in Newaygo, Michigan.

He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1955 to attend Westlake College of Music in Hollywood, with ambitions of becoming a jazz saxophonist. He found work copying musical scores, where he was hired by Sonny Bono, with whom he wrote the song “Needles and Pins” for Jackie DeShannon, later covered by the Searchers and many others. His own instrumental composition “The Lonely Surfer” entered Cash Box August 3, 1963, became a minor hit, as did a big-band swing arrangement of Link Wray’s “Rumble”.

When Phil Spector moved to the West Coast, Jack eventually became arranger and conductor for him and orchestrated the ambitious Wall of Sound for the song “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina Turner, “Be My Baby” for the Ronettes, “He’s a Rebel” by the Crystals and many more. He also scored his own recording contract with Reprise Records, which released his instrumental “The Lonely Surfer” in the summer of 1963.

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Frank Sinatra 5/1998

Frank SINATRAMay 14, 1998 – Frank Sinatra  was born on December 12, 1915

American singer and actor; arguably the most important popular music figure of the 20th century, his only real rival for the title being Elvis Presley. He began his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, he became a successful solo artist in the early to mid-40s, being the idol of the “bobby soxers.”

His professional career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1954 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his performance in From Here to Eternity. He signed with Capitol Records and released several critically lauded albums, In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice ‘n’ Easy. Continue reading Frank Sinatra 5/1998

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Johnny Watson 5/1996

johnny-guitar-watsonMay 17, 1996 – Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson was born on February 3rd 1935 in Houston Texas. His father John Sr. was a pianist, and taught his son the instrument. But young Watson was immediately attracted to the sound of the guitar, in particular the electric guitar as played by T-Bone Walker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.

His grandfather, a preacher, was also musical. “My grandfather used to sing while he’d play guitar in church, man,” Watson reflected many years later. When Johnny was 11, his grandfather offered to give him a guitar if, and only if, the boy didn’t play any of the “devil’s music”. Watson agreed, but later said “that was the first thing I did, play the devil’s music”. A musical prodigy, he played with Texas bluesmen Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland.

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Jerry Garcia 8/1995

Jerry Garcia300August 9, 1995 – Jerry Garcia was the frontman/guitarist for the most famous psychedelic jamband in the history of Rock and Roll: the Grateful Dead.

Jerome John Garcia is born on August 1, 1942 in San Francisco, CA to Jose Ramon “Joe” Garcia and Ruth Marie “Bobbie” Garcia, joining older brother Clifford “Tiff” Ramon. “My father played woodwinds, clarinet mainly. He was a jazz musician.”

In 1947 a wood chopping accident with his older brother at the Garcia family cabin causes Jerry to lose much of the middle finger on his right hand at the age of five. That winter, Jerry’s father drowns while on a fishing trip.

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Bennie
Benjamin
5/1989

Bennie_BenjaminMay 2, 1989 – Claude A. “Bennie” Benjamin was born on November 4th 1907 in Christiansted on the island of St.Croix in the Danish Virgin Islands, which became US territory 10 years later. At the age of twenty, he moved to New York City. There, he studied the banjo and guitar with Hy Smith. He then performed in vaudeville and with various orchestras, until, in 1941, he started composing songs.

In 1946, Benjamin teamed with George David Weiss a partnership that would produce jewels like “Rumors Are Flying”, “Surrender”, “Confess”, “I Don’t See Me In Your Eyes Anymore”, “Can Anyone Explain? (No, No, No)”, “Echoes”, “I’ll Never Be Free”, “To Think You’ve Chosen Me”, “I Ran All the Way Home”, “Jet”, “Wheel of Fortune”, “Cross Over the Bridge” and “How Important Can It Be”.

In the late 1950’s and 60’s, he worked with Sol Marcus on “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “I Am Blessed”, “Of This I’m Sure”, “Our Love (Will See Us Through)”, “How Can I?”, “Fabulous Character” and “Lonely Man”. Misunderstood became a megahit for the Animals as well as Nina Simone.

Other songs include “Anyone (Could Fall In Love With You)”, “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire”, “Confess”, “Strictly Instrumental”, “I Am Blessed”, “Of This I’m Sure” and “Don’t Take All Night”.

In 1968, Benjamin finally formed his own publishing company, Bennie Benjamin Music. In addition to his enormous catalog, Benjamin also collaborated on music and theme songs for movies including Fun and Fancy Free and Melody Time.

Bennie was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.

He died on May 2, 1989 at the age of 81.

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Mark
Dinning
3/1986

mark dinningMarch 22, 1986 – Mark Max Edward Dinning was born on August 17th 1933 in Manchester, Oklahoma, the youngest of nine children, but grew up on a farm outside of Nashville, Tennessee. In 1960, he recorded “Teen Angel” that was written by his sister Jean and her husband Red Surrey.

The lyrics told of the death of a teenage love that radio stations in the United Kingdom deemed too morbid to be aired, but it went to No.1 on the Billboard Charts in the U.S. Despite lack of airplay in the UK, the song reached No.37 on the UK Singles Chart and sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

Dinning had an alcohol addiction, which restricted his performances, and caused promoters to stop booking him as he faded from public view. Although Dinning never duplicated the success of “Teen Angel”, he had three minor hit records in the ensuing years.

He died of a heart attack on March 22, 1986 at age 52.

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Big Mama Thornton 7/1984

July 25, 1984 – Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was born on December 11, 1926 in Ariton, Alabama. She was introduced to music in a Baptist church, where her father was a minister and her mother a singer. She and her six siblings began to sing at early ages. Her mother died young, and Willie Mae left school and got a job washing and cleaning spittoons in a local tavern. In 1940 she left home and, with the help of Diamond Teeth Mary, joined Sammy Greens Hot Harlem Revue and was soon billed as the “New Bessie Smith”. Her musical education started in the church but continued through her observation of the rhythm-and-blues singers Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, whom she deeply admired.

Thornton’s career began to take off when she moved to Houston in 1948. “A new kind of popular blues was coming out of the clubs in Texas and Los Angeles, full of brass horns, jumpy rhythms, and wisecracking lyrics.” Continue reading Big Mama Thornton 7/1984

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Z.Z.
Hill
4/1984

zz hillApril 27, 1984 – Z. Z. Hill was born Arzell Hill in Naples, Texas on September 30th 1935.

He began his singing career in the late 1950s as part of a gospel group called The Spiritual Five. In 1964, he moved to California and recorded “You Were Wrong” on his brother’s M.H. record label. In 1971, he recorded the hits “Faithful & True” and “Chokin’ Kind” in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. One of ZZ’s biggest selling hits came while signed to Columbia, “Love Is So Good When You’re Stealing It,” which spent 18 weeks on the Billboard R&B chart in the summer of 1977. His 1982 album, ‘Down Home’, stayed on the Billboard soul album chart for nearly two years. The track “Down Home Blues” has been called the best-known blues song of the 1980s. This track plus his songs “Taxi”, “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In”, and “Open House” have become R&B/Southern soul standards.

Hill managed to resuscitate both his own semi-flagging career and the entire genre at large when he signed on at Jackson, MS-based Malaco Records in 1980 and began growling his way through some of the most uncompromising blues to be unleashed on black radio stations in many a moon. His impressive 1982 Malaco album Down Home Blues remained on Billboard’s soul album charts for nearly two years, an extraordinary run for such a blatantly bluesy LP. His songs “Down Home Blues” and “Somebody Else Is Steppin’ In” have graduated into the ranks of legitimate blues standards (and few of those have come along over the last couple of decades). Arzell Hill started out singing gospel with a quintet called the Spiritual Five, but the output of B.B. King, Bobby Bland, and especially Sam Cooke made a more indelible mark on his approach. He began gigging around Dallas, fashioning his distinctive initials after those of B.B. King. When his older brother Matt Hill (a budding record producer with his own label, M.H.) invited Z.Z. to go west to Southern California, the young singer did.

His debut single on M.H., the gutsy shuffle “You Were Wrong” (recorded in an L.A. garage studio), showed up on the pop chart for a week in 1964. With such a relatively successful showing his first time out, Hill’s fine subsequent singles for the Bihari Brothers’ Kent logo should have been even bigger. But “I Need Someone (To Love Me),” “Happiness Is All I Need,” and a raft of other deserving Kent 45s (many produced and arranged by Maxwell Davis) went nowhere commercially for the singer. Excellent singles for Atlantic, Mankind, and Hill (another imprint operated by brother Matt, who served as Z.Z.’s producer for much of his career) preceded a 1972 hookup with United Artists that resulted in three albums and six R&B chart singles over the next couple of years. From there, Z.Z. moved on to Columbia, where his 1977 single “Love Is So Good When You’re Stealing It” became his biggest-selling hit of all. But Hill’s vocal grit was never more effective than on his blues-soaked Malaco output.

From 1980 until 1984, when he died suddenly of a heart attack, Z.Z. bravely led a personal back-to-the-blues campaign that doubtless helped to fuel the subsequent contemporary blues boom. It’s a shame he couldn’t stick around to see it blossom.

While touring in February 1984, Hill was involved in a car accident. Although he continued to perform, he died two months later on April 28, 1984 at the age of 48, from a heart attack arising from a blood clot formed after the accident. He was 48.

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Joe
Dassin
8/1980

megastar Joe DassinAugust 20, 1980 – Joseph Ira “Joe” Dassin was born on November 5, 1938 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a violinist Beatrice, called Bea, who works with the best classical musicians such as Pablo Casals, and father, Jules Dassin, who after a short stage career, becomes Alfred Hitchcock’s associate director and a film director at last. In 1940 his father, seduced by the seventh art, decides to move to Los Angeles. The mysterious Los Angeles of the MGM studios and the Pacific Coast beaches. In this American city, where East meets West, Joe lives a happy teenager’s life till the day when…the world turns upside down. Along with the end of the World War II and Yalta agreements the world has to put up with the consequences of the “Cold War”.

East and West face each other: the USA against USSR, capitalism against socialism. Joseph McCarthy, a Republican senator from Wisconsin opens and leads his witch-hunt against people suspected of sympathizing with communism. Jules Dassin, who has already won some fame, is also under suspicion. Soon, he is accused of “Moscow-liking”. This means the end of sweet Hollywood life and exile for the Dassin family.By the end of 1949 a transatlantic liner leaves the New York harbor heading for Europe. Joe is watching his native land disappear in the morning mist and the liner’s smoke. From this time on, he won’t call any country home.

Joe discovers the Old Europe at the age of 12. This is 1950 and the old continent is under total re-construction. The Marshall Plan and ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) make front-page stories. While Jules and Bea are settling in Paris, Joe is sent to a boarding school of a famous Col-lege Rosey in Switzerland. The establishment is chic and very expensive. In spite of the exile the money doesn’t seem to be a big problem to the Dassins. There Joe makes acquaintance with Karim Aga Khan and the rich European heirs.

Meanwhile, the educational establishments follow one another. 1951: Joe is in Italy. 1953: he at-tends the International School in Geneva. In 1954 this latter sends him to Grenoble to pass his “baccalaureat” exam and get a bachelor’s degree, for this kind of diploma doesn’t exist in Switzer-land. By this time Joe is 16 and he is a very handsome guy with a winsome look in his eyes. He speaks three languages fluently and gets a good (excellent) mark for his “bac” exam.

In 1955, Joe’s parents get divorced. The film-maker continues his career with a new companion, the Greek actress Melina Mercouri, while the violinist prefers, from this time on, to keep in the back-ground. Joe takes the failure of his parents’ family life close to heart and decides to return to his hearth and home of America. So, he comes back to the USA where, at that time, the standards of the university education were second to none. As Joe gets enrolled in the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Elvis Presley starts his crusade for Rock’n’Roll. Joe doesn’t seem to be really im-pressed by this musical style. Being an earnest and diligent student, Dassin Jr. is far from black shirts, people indulging in pointless rebellion and the American Graffiti “live”. At first he tries to study medical science but experimenting with animals and dissection is more than he can endure, so Joe focuses on Anthropology and Russian language studies. Very concerned to speak fluently many languages, Dassin lives with his two French-speaking buddies, a French, Alain Guiraud and a Swiss, soon-to-be dean of one of the faculties of Geneva University. Quite often Alain and Joe make some changes in their usual time-table… Armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar, while America gets “electrified”, having neither leather jackets nor pomaded haircuts a la mode, the two friends sing in duet, standing on the double ladder so that the audience can see them better. Their repertoire includes neither Elvis Presley nor Eddie Cochran but Brassens. In the atmosphere of gen-eral affectation the French-singing duet assure their Folk “a la francaise” some kind of a promotion and is the first ever to export the poetry of Brassens to the American campuses. These recitals bring them some bottom dollars but it has more of a money spinning side-line than a regular job and Joe has to work. No problem. In an America of “affluent society” of J.K.Galbraith all young Americans make different “student jobs”. During six years of studies Joe takes turns working as a sociologist, a delivery man, a truck driver… Meanwhile, our A student finds some spare time to write a story – “Wade In Water” – which received the second national award. A painful omen: he is declared unfit for military service because of cardiac problems.

While Joe is studying hard at the University, his father gains authority throughout the world and becomes the Great Jules Dassin. In 1958, he asks Joe to record some themes for his next movie – “La Loi” (The Law) starring Gina Lollobrigida and featuring a marvelous tarantella. Dassin Jr. re-leases an EP at Versailles label in 1959. Then, in 1960, comes “Never On Sunday” (Jamais le di-manche) with its astonishing sound track and, especially, the song “Les Enfants du Piree” (The Children Of Piree) performed by Melina Mercouri. Joe graduates from the University and gets Doc-tor’s degree in Anthropology while the 60s take full speed. The Rock’n’Roll has already conquered America and is on the way to charming the Old Europe.

Diploma in the pocket, Joe has to decide his own future. And this is not an easy thing to do for a man who is an artist like his parents but not a daydreamer. Somehow he guesses that his future is on the other side of the Atlantic, in the good old Europe of his adolescent years. $300 in the pocket, Joe boards a ship which takes him to Italy. He travels first class: in the hold of a cargo. It is 1962 and Joe is 24. As he still does not feel like finding himself a regular job, his father hires him as an asso-ciate director of “Topkapi”, Jules’ second great movie. The world media are delighted to show the father and his son on the same set, and unveil Joe’s unshaven oriental face. Easy come easy go, and Joe spends his fee on a little Triumph. Just after that he starts to perform at the Radio Luxembourg and becomes a journalist for Playboy, while the French ye-ye is in its prime.

December 13, 1963 radically changes Joe’s private life. At one of the many parties organized by Eddy Barclay he meets a girl. The pretext of this “party” is the French release of Stanley Cramer’s movie “This Crazy, Crazy, Crazy World”. Surrounded by the imposing architectural beauty of the Pavillon d’Armenonville, Joe is equally impressed by girl’s charm and personality. Her name is Maryse. None of them suspects their ten-years long romance that will follow. A few days after the Pavillon party, Joe invites Maryse Massiera for a week-end to Moulin de Poincy, some 40 km from Paris. His aim is clear – to seduce her by all possible means. In the intimacy of the room with burn-ing fireplace he sings her “Freight Train”, accompanying himself on a guitar. He knows very well that the combination of his vocal cords and those of his guitar is irresistible. His devilishly tender plan works out perfectly and she falls into his arms… After this week-end out of time, the two lov-ers live up in the clouds till the end of the year.

From January 6, 1964, feeling determined the young couple starts to make plans. By the end of the month the idea of engagement, or even wedding, is in the air. Joe and Maryse settle in Saint-Cloud, at Bea’s place. The solution is temporary but the two lovers don’t put such difficult questions. Joe writes stories for the magazines and this let him get by for a moment. And even invite Maryse for a few days of skiing to Zermatt, Switzerland, in February. On their coming back, the couple becomes aware of reality and has to solve the apartment question. They accumulate their money and spend the spring of 1964 looking for a new lodging. Like all Americans, Joe is fond of St.Germain-des-Pres. He chooses Boulevard Raspail. The house is situated in front of the American center but a lit-tle three-room is far from Joe’s dreams… Whatever, this is his first apartment shared with a beloved woman. Inspired by his new role of a “family man”, Joe spends half a summer repairing their love nest. Determined to become a real head of family, he redoubles his efforts. In order to get some more money, he dubs American movies and writes articles for Playboy and The New Yorker. He even plays a part in Trefle Rouge (The Hop-clover) and Lady L. Between the two movies Joe gets a job of a stage manager for Clive Donner in What’s New Pussycat? His guitar is still his passion, his evening pleasure. Maryse shares with him these precious moments of musical emotion. Apparently, Joe is not going to bring his hobby into profit but nobody suspects what the future keeps in store…

Maryse has a friend, her former classmate, Catherine Regnier. While in boarding school, the two girls always shared their joys and sorrows. In this same 1964 a US record company which has recently established its subsidiary in France engaged Catherine as a secretary. Its rather shabby-looking office is situated on 42, rue Paradis, in the Xth district. The Columbia Broadcasting System more known as CBS distributes the discs of such American artists as Barbara Streisand. Catherine often speaks about songs and records, and Maryse has an idea. Joe’s 26th birthday is on November 5 and she is going to offer him a disc. As a gift. With the help from Catherine, who knows a man charged with transferring the sound from magnetic tape on vynil surface, Maryse intends to release a one-copy “supple”, so that she can easily listen to the voice of her beloved man singing “Freight Train”…

They make an appointment with the CBS staff. One October day, the precious magnetic tape in her hand, Maryse penetrates into the CBS office, which is nothing but an old apartment on the last – fourth – floor of a house with leaking roof. One of the brightest ever careers of French showbiz is decided in a room where every little rain makes appear a whole army of basins. Maryse meets Cath-erine, who promises to record the disc by the beginning of November. As soon as Maryse leaves, the little staff of CBS France, more used to listen to the American products than to young French-speaking singers, grabs the tape from the shelf in order to have a little fun in the end of a boring working day. But soon the fun gives place to deep reflection. The singer’s voice is deep and pleas-ant, and his phenomenal sense of rhythm is evident. Will it sell? And what if CBS France will es-tablish its own record catalog instead of trying to sell the American stars? The gift record is made and Catherine is charged with persuading Joe to meet the CBS France team. As it has to be a (good) surprise for him, Joe still knows nothing about it. But this birthday “surprise” sets him in a bad hu-mor. Especially when he finds out that the tape fell into hands of a record company which would truly like to meet him for some business reasons. Needless to say that Catherine’s proposition to see the CBS staff about his possible career of a singer is firmly refused. Joe will never become a singer. But it has to be something more than that to discourage Catherine who believes in Joe’s talent. She repeats her assault five times, ten times and… finally manages to convince him. Not too much, in-deed, just a little record, kind of a trial balloon… Two months of a siege gain the upper hand over the young rebel and a few days before Christmas the fortress surrenders. Joe puts his John Hancock on what is the very first contract with a French singer in the long history of the CBS record com-pany.

On December 26 , Joe is in the CBS recording studio. Oswald d’Andrea conducts the orchestra. They record four tunes for a glossy jacketed EP. There are inevitable adaptations and two originals written by Jean-Michel Rivat and Frank Thomas. The two young talented songwriters side Joe in the beginning of his legendary career. But, to tell the truth, the EP is a slapdash piece of work and Joe has difficulty believing in his “lucky star”.

And he is quite right. The 1000 copies of the disc are barely selling. Radio stations which played a crucial role in disc promotions at that time, showed very little enthusiasm, and it in no way encouraged the CBS to action. Monique Le Marcis from the Radio Luxembourg and Lucien Leibovitz from the Europe Un are the only DJs to include Joe’s songs to their play lists. Almost at once they felt this great potential that Joe seemed to have. The spirits are especially low in March and April. But Joe who was reluctant to start career of a singer some months ago, now little by little gets sucked into the game. He refuses to accept the flop and seeks recognition as a performer. So, he decides to get everything started over again with the CBS. From May 7 till 14, Joe returns to the recording studio with the same Oswald d’Andrea. Three recording sessions bring four songs – all cover versions – for the second EP (Extended Play). Having been published in June, the disc is released in 2000 copies. These latter are launched to the market as the promo record is sent to the radio stations in July. But nothing happens, the summer hit belongs to the others. Two successive failures push Joe to fully concentrate on his future career. He runs from publisher to publisher looking for cover versions for his third try which has to be good. By the end of the summer he gets “his” hit, “Shame And Scandal In The Family”, an all-American success, the French version of which he proposes to create. The CBS director has his doubts… Too late! Sacha Distel who has just signed a contract with Pathe-Marconi is in need of musical material and records the song. The Surfs, who are also looking for the second blow with the Festival Recording Company, do the same… As a result, both are a huge success and Joe, enraged, threatens to change the recording company. Joe’s results are poor, but the CBS France does not achieve what was expected from it by the CBS-USA, either. So, the New York direction decides to appoint a new chief of the French subsidiary. Jacques Souplet, chosen to fill the vacancy, used to work for Barclay. His first decision spells death to the existence of the office on rue Paradis. The organisation, which will later on become one of the biggest French recording labels, settles in a mansion in district XVI, 3, rue Freycinet. Joe decides to watch how this new team that promised him to take care of his career is getting on. The new recording session is scheduled for October 21 and 22. Joe knows that it will be either sink or swim. Either the disc is a success or a failure – in any case something has to be done. On his third EP Joe rounded up the best cover versions he had ever expected to get. At those times the publishers kept their best tunes for the stars such as Johnny and Cloclo. Joe and other newcomers had to be contented with what was left. Rivat writes French lyrics for two Cuban songs popular in English-speaking countries at that time. Soon after the recording sessions, from November 5 till 9, they release 4000 copies of the EP followed, by 1300 promos on November 19. And, thank God, the radio stations give it a warm welcome. About 25000 copies are sold. Even if Nana Mouskouri and Les Compagnons de la Chanson who also work under the CBS trademark have better sales figures with their versions of “Guantanamera”, the success of the other tune – “Bip-Bip” – belongs solely to Joe. It doesn’t even matter that Joe is more often heard on the radio than in the music stores. So, a gigantic step has just been made: Joe’s name has become known. Jacques Souplet fills out the CBS stable, signs new contracts and doesn’t have any spare time to take care of Dassin. But he realizes that this latter needs a good producer, someone who could “manage” him, give him advice. And Jacques seems to have an idea… There is a genius of a producer who has recently freed himself from a contract. Even more, it looks as if he were Joe’s kindred spirit. Like Joe, he is fond of jazz, he studied law and he knows America and the Americans quite well. As for his professional skills, he had released the first French discs of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, he had worked for Pathe with Aznavour and had launched in France the Capitol trademark before he became the artistic director of Hallyday and Gainsbourg at Philips. After all, he was the first ever independent producer at Philips and “made” Sheila with Claude Carrere. From September 13 his contract with the latter expired and he is free. It would be a shame to waste such a chance. Souplet knows that Jacques Plait is a man of situation. The only thing left is to persuade him to take charge of the process. Two Jacques meet and agree on a possibility of an independent production at CBS for Plait. Everything is all right but one thing… Plait has to find common ground with Dassin. A “business lunch” is fixed for the end of the year. Being a professional Plait is really worried to meet one more “father’s son”. Dassin fears the worst and cannot imagine being managed by anyone. On December 31, during the historical lunch with cheese and coffee the decision is made. Not without some natural rebuking movements from each contracting party. Anyway, Plait explains, Dassin listens, Souplet freely enjoys the process. The common ground is found. And the history is being made. After lunch, Jacques Plait, coming back to Sceaux, drops Joe at his place on Boulevard Raspail.

They seal the contract with a handshake and a smile. And there will be no other.

1966

Joe seems to get himself into another fix – Maryse drags him into marriage. The ceremony is scheduled for January 18 and will take place in the courthouse of the XIV district. But even if Joe accepts to set it up, he does not wish to see any friends or relatives at his wedding. The collapse of his parents’ marriage is still fresh in his mind. The passage to the courthouse is barred even for Catherine Regnier. Grumpy and touchy this same morning, on his way to the courthouse Joe runs into his friend and “parolier” (lyrics writer) Jean-Michel Rivat. This latter asks his pal where he is going. When Joe announces the news, Rivat cannot believe his ears and decides to join him. In the most intimate of atmospheres Joe says good-bye to his bachelor’s life. Then follows the wedding party in a Russian restaurant where Joe ends dead drunk under the table. Joe Dassin is married. Soon Jacques Plait shows up. Now it is necessary to select good songs, to write cover versions, to find the musicians and a studio… For the time of the studios integrated in the record companies and the musicians-employees is over. Joe starts to work with the man whom he soon baptizes Jacquot. The following process means a lot of work and very little sleep. After some weeks of searching the tandem is positively seduced by four Anglo-Saxon tunes one of which – “You Were On My Mind” – is American. The cover versions are made by Rivat who writes French lyrics for “Comme la lune”, as well as by the best French paroliers. One of them – Andre Salvet – adapts “The Cheater” which becomes, on Joe’s request, “Le tricheur”. But great music and good lyrics are not enough, Jacques Plait knows that nothing should be let slide. Claude Francois and Richard Anthony work in London, so Joe Dassin also must go to London for recording sessions, says Jacques to himself not really believing in this audacious thought. To tell the truth, Joe hasn’t shown his potential yet. Plait contacts Souplet who gives a go to the idea. Undoubtedly, the CBS protege enjoys his company’s confidence…

But the problems are far from being over. Jacques Plait has to find an orchestra conductor acting simultaneously as an arranger. Plait is offered three names and three telephone numbers. He makes calls – the first man is absent, the second one answers – it is Johnny Arthey – and the third one will never know what opportunity he missed. One cold winter day of 1966 Joe and Jacques take plane to London and call on Arthey who works for Feldman Music publishing company, 64, Dean Street in Soho. Very fast Jacques and Joe realize that they have to deal with a typical English eccentric. They present him the tunes to be rearranged. Dealing done, Arthey grasps what sound they want for the disc. And from now on he becomes the first and the only Joe’s studio arranger. For good. This gray day in the beginning of March Joe is feverish. In the Lansdowne Recording Studio in London Arthey’s musicians do the record in the key appropriate to his low baritone. Some days later in Paris Joe records vocal parties in an ancient disused movie theater – the Davout Studio – one of the first French independent studios. These March days “You Were On My Mind” becomes “Ca m’avance a quoi?”, the headliner of the fourth disc. Souplet acts promptly and releases the disc in April. The vinyl is released as EP and as a 45 single. During the same 1966 Joe starts to work for Radio Luxembourg performing the “Western Story” series. By the way the trio Rivat-Plait-Dassin enjoys cutting capers. They invent a certain Edouard who sings “Les hallucinations” teasing especially Antoine with his “Elucubrations”. Edouard, with his questionable “a la protest song” appearance is the same old chap Rivat disguised in a longhaired wig and Bible-prophet beard. The star takes the abuse into the court, wins and the EP has to be withdrawn. The second Edouard’s single goes into sales, then the third one, but the biggest ever hoax of French show business is quickly forgotten. On the other hand, this summer turns out to be successful for Joe. “Ca m’avance a quoi?” goes well on the radio and by September there are talks about the first album. Meanwhile, the market is awaiting a new disc. This time it will be a single with two songs, the kind that is used for jukeboxes. A great novelty for the French music market, indeed. From the very beginning of the vinyl disc business in France the recording companies released only the four-songs EPs as it was more profitable. Feeling the weakness of the market Souplet decides to launch a “commercialized” single like in English-speaking countries. First of all he wraps the disc in a cardboard full-color jacket. This will become the beginning of the Gemini series. Joe Dassin was one of the very first CBS’ French-singing performers who had tested this know-how. And it worked out. Three years later the rest of the recording companies followed the CBS example. On October 12 and 20, Joe records two songs in Davout – the second version of “Guantanamera” and a traditional American tune “Katy Cruel”. This single has to let Joe’s team work till the Christmas holidays when the album release is planned. But all of a sudden the French musicians go on strike. Plait decides to take refuge in a British studio. All for nothing, the perfidious Albion has already given up to the strike movement. There is only one solution left – to do the record in New York. Jacquot doesn’t dare to believe what Joe merely dreams about. But Souplet gives it a green light and on October 27, a plane takes off from Orly to New York. Two men (and their wives, Maryse and Colette) armed with a huge arsenal of songs are on board. The recording sessions take place in the studio on 30th Street with Stanley Tonkel as a sound director. Seven tunes are recorded on October 31 and November 3 and 4. After the sessions Joe takes an opportunity to show “his” country to his friends: Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, Broadway… and the most impressive of all monuments – the CBS Building on 52nd Street. They come back late – Joe and Maryse to Bea’s place, Jacques and Colette to Waldorf Astoria. But the small team has yet another important task – take pictures of “Joe in New York” for the album jacket and especially for the media who will certainly enjoy the image of a handsome American in Paris who records his songs in his home town. Don Hunstein takes dozens of imprints. One of them – the one where Joe is leaning on somebody’s Harley Davidson is taken in front of the Time Life Building. This “Joe’s Harley” will appear on the front side of the album jacket and will become a dream of an entire generation. The last glance cast at the Kennedy Airport and the plane takes off for Paris. The CBS decides to release the fifth EP along with the first LP (Long Play). The first appears on November 17, and the latter on 18. The success is almost immediate. “Excuse Me Lady” is a Christmas hit and the sales figures begin to rise.

1967

In January, Andre Salvet and Bernard Chevry create the MIDEM. The professionals who believe in this project are few. But Plait who knows Salvet and owes him a lot decides to support the idea. He shows up at the presentation together with Joe, Maryse and Colette. The little company settles on a yacht anchored in a marvelous old port of Cannes. The journalists swarm at this first rendezvous of the world show business but there are very few real stars and Joe is a favorite target of the press. What can be better than to wrench an interview out of Jules Dassin’s own son in the world capital of cinema? But Joe realizes that this game is far too risky for him. At this time he prefers to avoid being mentioned in the newspapers and limits his performance to the presentation of the first MIDEM awards. But anyway, even if he does not sing, a handsome guy conducting the show with such ease – and in two languages, no problem! – is noticed in the media almost at once. Next morning, from an “upcoming star” Joe turns into the Star. “Excuse Me Lady” goes well enough but one has to think about the next hit. Plait does nothing but turn in mind the idea of a song which will let them go much further.

One morning on the yacht Dassin gets ready to slink to the shore, his guitar in his hand. Plait, extremely surprised, wonders what is happening. Dassin explains that he wants Henri Salvador to listen to a tune composed by Joe himself, Jean-Michel (Rivat) and Frank (Thomas). Joe says, this is not “his” kind of song. Curious Plait wants to be the first to listen to the new creation. Joe does not consider it to be wise. The two men confront. Minutes are passing. Plait wins and Dassin sings leaning on the guard railing: “Tagada tagada, voila les Dalton, tagada tagada ‘y a plus personne…” Jacques is pale as a sheet. Joe still does not understand. But the fury in Jacques’ eyes provokes one of his outbursts of anger: “Never in my life! I refuse to sing it! This song is not for me…” Plait who has already grabbed his hit does not intend to let it go so easily: “I forbid you to give it to Salvador!” And so on and so forth. Finally Joe surrenders, he will record the “cowboy song”. For the first and the last time, according to the contract. There is only one obstacle left: the touring, which is one of the main components of promotion. Joe meets an impresario Charley Marouani but doubts the outcome. His stage experience is short and not very pleasant. The terrible failure of his concert in Brussels in 1966 caused by unprofessional performing of the local orchestra is still fresh in his memory. To cut it short, Joe is terribly afraid of any public performances. Charley Marouani makes him change his mind and proposes him to participate in the first part of the Adamo concert. That’s a deal. On March 9, the tour debuts in Vire. Very fast Joe wins recognition of both public and the tour manager Georges Olivier who raises his fee. Between two galas, in April, Joe and Jacques are again in London where they record four songs for the sixth EP.

Some days later they are back in Davout studio for vocals recording. But “Les Dalton” turns out a real impediment. As an English singer fails to pronounce the sheriff’s part from “Les Dalton” intro, Jacques Plait grabs the mike to show him an example. One, two, twenty times. The tape recorder reels are turning, Plait is reciting, the Englishman is stammering. The situation becomes ridiculous. Jacquot delivers his speech such fervor that Joe and the sound director, dead of laughter, decide to keep this version. Jacques cannot even imagine that the innumerous TV broadcasts and a single Dassin’s scopitone session are waiting for him. Meanwhile, Joe wants to place “Viens voir le loup” on the side A of the new disc. But Jacques refuses to surrender. The saga of Lucky Luke’s four sward enemies of is a huge hit and must be on the side A. Lyrics of one of the two other songs on this EP belong to Claude Lemesle. Joe met him during a concert of young talents at the American Cultural Center situated in front of his house on Boulevard Raspail. It was a nice summer evening and Joe went to the Center looking for a banjo player. He did not find his banjo player but a female singer, Michele Cherdel who later on would become Vava from “Big Bazar”. At the same time he found a co-author and a friend. Joe just looked down at Lemesle from his short-sighted 1m 86 and said with shy kindness: “I really liked your songs, mister. Would you and your friends like to have a drink at my place? I live nearby…”

After Rivat and Thomas, Lemesle was the third parolier who joined the Dassin adventure. For good. On May 3, “Les Dalton” is released on the side A in a jacket without any side indications. The disc is a summer success. It will be the last Dassin’s EP and his last “comic” song, either. Joe’s creations of a kind that followed will be performed by his friend Carlos. After such a result Joe’s team is in high spirits. Plait is totally obsessed by the idea of finding “strong” songs that would consolidate the success. He has already acted the same way with Sheila. On the contrary, Joe, relaxed, takes his time. He writes France Gall’s “Bebe requin” which smashes the other song from the disc written by Serge Gainsbourg, having spelled the end for the collaboration between Serge and France. Joe is a popular crooner but he wants to record serious songs, too. In order to equalize the Daltons’ attack, in the fall of 1967 he records a Bobby Gentry blues, “Ode To Billy Joe”, which becomes “Marie-Jeanne”. Rivat carefully translates the song from English. More corresponding to the previous hit and written as usual by Rivat, “Tout bebe a besoin d’une maman” is represented on the side B. And even if the side A tune is an obvious commercial risk, it is good for the singer’s image. In the beginning of October Arthey conducts the orchestra during recording sessions in London. Joe records vocals in Davout. It takes him two weeks and results in 200 versions for “Marie-Jeanne”… with the first chosen for the disc. The latter is released on October 17, for the second time with a drawing on the jacket. The radio stations favor the side B over the side A. Joe begins to realize that he is probably too handsome and too young for singing some tunes. He understands it but will never accept the fact. At the same time Joe records the rest of the songs for the second LP (called now “album”) – two new tunes with lyrics written by Claude Lemesle and four American originals. This is a smashing novelty on the French market. The LP is released in November just before the holidays.

1968

Joe’s success confirms day by day but he has to “transform” his daring attempt, to become a number one conqueror of hit-parades. During a trip to Italy with Jacques Plait where Joe promotes five of his songs, he also listens to “potential” tunes. This American who has never looked for cover versions anywhere but USA would probably find something in the country of mandolins. Joe and Jacques come back home with a suitcase of records. By February 19, “l’equipe a Jojo” reunites in London. Their aim is recording a megahit. In the De Lane Lee Music recording studio on 129, Kingsway the atmosphere is electrified. Four songs are recorded. One of them is a cover version of a tune found in Italy, another – “La bande a Bonnot” – an original with Rivat’s lyrics. A few days later, during the vocals recording sessions the excitement reaches its peak. Plait has a presentiment of something really incredible. On March 4, two singles, with two songs on each, appear on the market almost simultaneously.

The rebellion grows in France. General de Gaulle is trembling. Unlike the catcalled ye-ye singers who have to go to exile, Joe becomes a “revolution” hero. Whole France whistles on the hill, a little bouquet of wild roses in hand. Spring and summer come and Joe’s songs are broadcast by all radio stations. The only problem of these revolutionary times is the music stores replenishment. Joe makes the most of a situation recording his two first songs in Italian on April 29. These tunes appear on the peninsular market in June. He also extend his contract with the CBS on June 26 and starts a promotional tour in Italy two days later, on June 29. As both of the ORTF channels are occupied by the students taking part in a demonstration, the French music takes its refuge on the RAI. While in Italy Joe gets acquainted with Carlos and Sylvie Vartan whom he met on a ship. Carlos will become one of his best friends. This friendship will strengthen in the course of a report from Tunisia made for a popular magazine Salut Les Copains, known as SLC. By September the CBS gets a new press attache, Robert Toutan. From now on this latter will watch over Joe’s image. In November Jacquot and Joe go to London to record sound and come back to Davout Studio for vocals. They record four songs, three of them are hits. Like two previous discs the two new singles are a double-shot. They are released at the same time in November. “Ma bonne etoile” is an Italian original rewritten by Delanoe. “Le temps des ?ufs au plat” lyrics belong to Ricky Dassin and Claude Lemesle. On the other side is represented “Le petit pain au chocolat”, another Italian song adapted by the same Delanoe. The disc industry is undergoing a serious crisis and the CBS does not release the disc for the holidays. But on November 10, Joe sings “Ma bonne etoile” in the “Tele-Dimanche” TV program and France capitulates. The end of the year is explosive. In bakeries throughout France the chocolate rolls are in great demand. Along with Pagnol’s famous movie, Joe’s song makes the bakers’ profits increase dramatically. Some of them even change the inscriptions on their signboards to “Chocolate Roll’s”, making obvious that Joe is much more than just another singer. From now on he is a social phenomenon. The CBS is unable to meet the demands of the record shops and an English-speaking group, the Tremeloes, makes English versions of Joe’s “Italian” songs. On November 26, Joe and Jacques, excited to the point, fly to Montreal via New York. Three days later they start a week of interviews in Quebec: Montreal, Trois Rivieres, Quebec, then Ottawa in the English-speaking part of Canada. They receive a hearty welcome everywhere. The promotion is fantastic. Everything is all right except for the increasing demands from the music stores.

The Orly runway and the windows of big supermarkets are decorated with neon lights. Christmas is coming. Joe is back. Together with Maryse they celebrate Nativity in their new five-rooms apartment on rue D’Assas and dream of a child.

1969

The third album is not ready yet. In February CBS releases a single with two previous hits, “Bip-Bip” and “Les Dalton”. At that time, the comics’ increasing popularity gives a tremendous boost to the story of four outlaw brothers. Meanwhile, Joe goes to London for recording sessions. From this time on, he has London and Heathrow at his fingertips. Six new titles are “stored away”, two of which are obvious hits. “Les Champs-Elysees” is a cover version of Smacka Fitzgibbons’ “Water-loo Road” and “Le chemin de papa” is written by Dassin in tandem with Delanoe. There is also a reprise of “Me que, Me que”, a funny song created by Becaud and Aznavour, and two more tunes by Joe and Ricky. The work being finished, Joe returns to Paris – straight in the whirl of TV and ra-dio interviews, not to mention the growing number of concert engagements.

On April 1, he collapses. Heart attack as a result of viral pericarditis. Joe is bedridden for one month but in the period between May and June, getting barely better, he releases the album and the only single containing “Les Champs-Elysees” and “Le Chemin de papa”, let alone a little promo record. More than ever, the public loves what Plait likes. The album becomes a smash hit as, on June 16, Joe makes up his mind to get his French driver’s license. At the same time he is invited to the “Salves d’or” – a TV program starring Henri Salvador. Joe has already got used to the set and doesn’t count down to his own performance. Anyway, this is the first time when, following Jacque-line Salvador’s advice, he tries the white suit which, since then, will become his official “trade-mark” attire on stage. This same time Joe’s contract with Jean-Michel Rivat and Frank Thomas, his two accredited co-authors, expires but neither part intends to resume it…

In Port de Salut Joe meets Boby Lapointe, makes friends with him, and they go on a tour. At the dinner table Boby introduces him to Georges Brassens. The dinner is pure magic. There Joe finds “his” world – far from show and business. He will always be thankful to Lapointe for this encoun-ter. After Boby’s death, in order to save his heritage for the future generations, Joe considers it his most important duty to request the Philips company to re-release all Lapointe’s records. Dassin’s fame spreads like wildfire. The whole France is singing “Les Champs-Elysees”, while in July Joe goes skiing to Tignes. This short vacation is followed by the tour, which main goal is preparing his first Olympia, scheduled for the fall. Meanwhile, CBS wastes no time releasing the double compila-tion album, Dassin’s first but certainly not the last… Joe’s popularity seems to cross all the borders – “Les Champs-Elysees” enter the Dutch hit parade and acquire 11th position in 7 weeks, which is a very good score. This is the first time when Joe is rated in the Netherlands. On October 1 and 15 he records the English version of “Les Champs-Elysees”, followed by the German one. This latter is re-recorded in the Davout studios on October 29, along with “Le Chemin de Papa” in German.

From this time on, Joe will always be ranked here, there and everywhere in the world. As Johnny Hallyday dreams in vain of starting an international career, Joe, willy-nilly, wins love and recogni-tion of the audience throughout the world. He even becomes No.1 in the Moscow hit parade, leav-ing the Beatles behind. And this happens long before Joe’s songs are heard on the Tian an Men square, sung by the Chinese students face to the tanks during the terrible spring of 1989… The first Olympia is a triumph. On October 22, just after the premiere, the dinner at Maxim’s takes place. But the dearest gift arrives on October 25. This is a letter of congratulations from Brassens.

With Olympia behind and Parisian press tamed, Joe carefully starts the German market penetration, with two songs recorded in the language of Goethe as a secret weapon. On November 27, in Hano-ver, he takes part in Peter Froehlich’s “Studio B”. At the same time in France CBS releases a single with the English version of “Les Champs-Elysees”. Unobtainable. December comes and Jacques Plait hesitates. The single and the album are selling so good that it seems as though there is no need to release another title. Anyway, the new song has to be as strong as the previous ones. After all, “C’est la vie, Lily” and “Billy le Bordelais” are chosen to carry the responsibility. The single has no side B but two As. Bull’s eye! Almost immediately the disc scores a success. The brave dipso re-ceives a fantastic welcome in Saint-Emilion and the members of the non-alcoholic league content themselves with the story of Lily’s life. For the second year running Joe does not release the album for the holidays. What is it, lack of time or some smart commercial move? It is true that Joe is ex-hausted and he sure has to restore his heart. He decides to go on honeymoon he and Maryse missed two years before. After some time spent in New-York, where the couple takes part in a very strange performance “O! Calcutta”, they head for the Caribbean Islands and stay at Barbados till January 15. Swimming and sunbathing are on top of their agenda.

1970

Meanwhile, Germany catches sight of the handsome multilingual cowboy. For the first time, on January 3, Joe is rated in the German hit parade with “Die Champs-Elysees”. He stays there for 4 weeks and moves up into 31st position. Plait can hardly believe his ears. Joe is back and after a gala in Palais d’hiver of Lyon, once again he has to cross the Rhine. On January 21 and 22, armed with four songs, he comes to Wiesbaden for the famous TV program “Star-Parade”. On January 28 he is already in Davout, for a re-recording session. “Les Champs-Elysees” along with “C’est la vie, Lily” turn into “canzoni italiani”. The French tour is scheduled for February and March. Besides Joe takes part in the Grand Prix of the Academy of Charles Cros ceremony where he receives the best album award for “Les Champs-Elysees”. The summer disc recording sessions approach. The so-called “summer hit” is the invention of the 70s and usually means intense broadcasting by the beach radio stations during July and August, including the important September sales. Sessions in London and Davout being finished, Joe presents “L’Amerique” and “Cecilia” – the two cover versions adapted by Delanoe. The story of “L’Amerique” is rather funny. Plait, always worried about Joe’s reaction on some songs, makes him listen the original version of “L’Amerique”, telling (on purpose) that he is going to give this song to Johnny Hallyday. He sure hits the mark. Dassin rises to the bait, menacing to shake the hell out of CBS in general and Jacques personally if he doesn’t get “his” song. For the third season running, the summer hit belongs to Joe. Waiting for the single to come onto the market in May, Joe performs some concerts and, on April 28, goes to Italy for TV shows in Naples and Milan. He sings the Italian versions of his two tunes in “El Caroselo” and “Cette Voci” TV programs. At the same time, Dassin writes a song for Gigliola Cinquetti, a female singer from the Plait stable. “Le bateau-mouche” is released by CBS. The summer comes with its usual round of concerts and a few unforgettable recording sessions. During one of them, on July 16, the Japanese versions of “Les Champs-Elysees” and “Mon village du bout du monde” are recorded. Again some concerts, and, on October 16, Joe records the Italian versions of “L’Amerique” and “Cecilia”. Though Jean-Marie Perier keeps photographing Dassin from time to time, his accredited photogra-pher is Bernard Leloup. On October 27 this latter takes Joe some 50 km from Paris to an old mush-room growers’ hut where his friends keep Leloup’s extremely photogenic cheetah called Loulou. There, standing on the tracks of a little deserted railroad, Loulou on a lead, Joe makes one of his cult photo sessions. Like Harley-Davidson four years before in New-York, Loulou will accompany Joe on the numerous disc jackets and posters. On November 9 Joe goes to Berlin for the third time. Meantime in London, waiting for him to come back, Arthey prepares the arrangements for a new album. One day Claude Lemesle brings Joe two fresh-written songs: “Les filles que l’on aime” and “L’equipe a Jojo”. Lemesle has written both music and lyrics but Joe rejects them, saying bluntly: “Claude, why is that you want me to take the music I’m able to write myself?” In August Lemesle comes to Jacques Plait’s beautiful house in St.Cezaire sur Siagne. In answer to Jacques’ question about any new musical material, Claude shows him his two songs held in reserve. Being a man of devotion, Jacquot gets excited in no time: “I’ve been looking for a hit comparable in quality with “L’Amerique” for two months and it seems to me that I have found it now!” Claude is naturally not so optimistic: “Jacques, you know, there is only one little problem… I’ve already let Joe listen to them and he turned everything down.” “He is absolutely crazy,” shouts Jacquot, “but don’t worry, I’ll fix it up!” After some weeks of withstanding the attack, Joe finally surrenders and takes both Lemesle’s songs. But he utterly changes their melodies and lyrics. The result is well known: “Les filles que l’on aime” becomes “La fleur aux dents” and “L’equipe a Jojo” keeps only its title un-changed. Really, Joe is not an easy-going kind of guy! Working with him means a tremendous lot of minor and major alterations, modifications, corrections and revisions. Though nice and kind-hearted in private life, Joe is a workaholic and a true pain in the neck for his team, so Delanoe and Lemesle call him “charming nerd”.

The album having just been released, the sales figures grow dramatically. 10 days slip by and Joe gets his Golden Disc. Incredible. The radio stations are broadcasting the two promo records re-ceived not so long ago… CBS does its best to take the opportunity and the work is in full swing. For the first time Joe goes on a tour to Africa. The deal with a local promoter Gerard Sayaret is ar-ranged by Charley Marouani. Sayaret arranges a 21-day concert tour of ten countries. With Pierre Lumbroso as road manager, Joe takes his team of eight musicians and leaves France on December 1. The passages are short, the climate is oppressive: Morocco (Casablanca and Rabat), Senegal (two nights in Dakar), Ivory Coast (Abidjan), Togo (Lome), Dahomey (Cotonou), Cameroon (Yaounde), Central African Republic, Zaire (two nights in Kinshasa), Gabon (Libreville), again Cameroon (Douala), Chad (Fort Lamy)… Somewhere up in the North the young French are reviewing their Geography course, following Joe in his trip through the heart of darkness. Joe is back to Paris and has barely time to celebrate Christmas – Germany is waiting for him. On December 29 and 30 he goes to Berlin to sing in German and, thus, to consolidate his position of an international star.

1971

On January 4, while the single “La fleur aux dents” goes on sale, Joe is awarded with 6 golden discs. He cannot believe his eyes. On January 6 Dassin and Plait go to the United States where Joe runs across his father and Melina Mercouri. During a business lunch with the CBS International ex-ecutive director Sol Rabinovitz Joe meets an impresario Paul Rosen who has to represent Dassin in America. But something is wrong and the deal is broken. On January 26 and 27 Joe is again in Da-vout, singing in German. The session is of great importance – four titles are recorded. It is “La fleur aux dents”, “Melanie”, “Le cadeau de papa” and one original German version. Extremely tired, Joe goes skiing to Courchevel. This winter vacation is, in fact, his only vacation, for all summer is reserved for touring. In April Joe is again in Germany, promoting his songs in Munich, Bavaria. This country is no secret for him any more. The single with “L’equipe a Jojo” is released in June but Joe decides to record another four “summer titles” written by Jojo’s gang. Both singles are released in July but even if “Fais la bise a ta maman” is a success, it is not a summer hit. In Novem-ber Joe goes to London for a new album. He has written most of the songs, one title belongs to a tandem Michel Mallory/Alice Donna and arranged in Paris by Alfredo de Robertis. The album con-tains very few potential hits, the producer is reluctant to release it but the singer objects and persists in launching the disc. There is a little tension between the two but, fortunately, the foreign market brings good results. On November 15, “Das sind zwei linke shuh'”, a German original, hits the 21st position of RFA hit parade and stays there for 12 weeks. This funny song is Joe’s greatest German success. Impeccable white pants, silver belt and open shirt – Joe’s character of “American lover” is admired by both Berlin and Munich. After Bundesrepublick comes Tunisia. A few days of fun and joy in Djerba are spent with Carlos and Bernard Leloup. Joe also makes it up with Jacques, inviting the Plaits to a trip to Morocco on December 9. All four of them go to the sacred place of Mamounia.

1972

The album is released in January but it doesn’t contain any hits and CBS re-releases the single with the previous summer success. For the first time the thing seems to slip. Joe decides to play a waiting game with the French market and, on April 17 and 20 in Davout, he records an album for Germany: “Fais la bise a ta maman”, “La ligne de vie”, “Bye-bye Louis”, “A la sante d’hier”, “La mal-aimee du courrier du c?ur”, “Allez roulez”, “L’equipe a Jojo”, “Adieu mes amis”, “Elle etait oh!”, “Le chanteur des rues”, “Sylvie” and two originals – a dozen of tunes sung in German is a record! Not to mention “Taka takata”, released in May. The latter is an absolute success in France and Plait breathes with relief. Maryse insists on a new tour. This time Joe goes to the islands and other terri-tories at the back of beyond. According to the tour timetable, the Reunion, Madagascar and Djibouti are to be visited in June. Then Joe flies to New Caledonia and Tahiti via Paris. But not everything goes as smoothly as it has to… Antananarivo airport is closed because of disorders and a violent cyclone flattens Noumea during Joe’s stay in New Caledonia. Now, siding Joe and his road man-ager Pierre Lumbroso, eight musicians and three back-vocalists ride in the Dassin’s gang, not to mention Bernard Leloup who is accredited to take photos for Salut les Copains and Maryse, ready to follow her husband everywhere, even if she has to be packed in his suitcase. After the concerts Joe and Maryse have a twelve days vacation on the island of Tahaa, in a coconut forest – an abso-lute dream. Joe is so absorbed by the beauty of the island that he buys twenty hectares of its terri-tory including one kilometer of the fine sand beach. He knows that from this time on it will become his favorite vacation site. In June Joe goes to the USA, to his sweet home California. On June 24 he meets with Jeff Barry from A&M Records and makes three songs in English for the American mar-ket, including his famous “Vaya-Na-Cumana”. The usual summer tour follows, tiring, sure, but full of gastronomic surprises. Every small town has its own delicious cuisine and Joe doesn’t intend to miss any tasty opportunity. Though he recorded a mighty lot of songs in German, it is “Taka takata” that enters the German hit parade on September 4 to occupy the 50th position. Halloween is spent in Deauville, at Pierre Delanoe’s place, where Joe discovers the pleasures of golf. He is fascinated by this noble game and, from this time on, he takes his golf clubs everywhere he goes, to Paris, to Valbonne, to Morocco, to Tahiti… Two years later Joe participates in the Trophee Lancome competition and his partner is Arnold Palmer himself. November comes with its ritual of recording sessions in London and Davout. Plait controls the process and little by little the new album begins to take shape. But this time Arthey has something up his sleeve – a brand-new device called synthe-sizer. The trio decides to take advantage of the contraption and decorates the Dassin trademark sound with some synthesized parts. The album contains 12 titles, two of which are hits – “La com-plainte de l’heure de pointe” (A velo dans Paris) and “Le moustique”, both cover versions. Joe pre-fers “The City of New Orleans”, written by Steve Goodman, arranged by Arlo Guthrie and adapted by Claude Lemesle with the participation of Ricky Dassin, but Plait keeps in mind the failure of the previous album and reduces costs. Nevertheless, the Goodman/Guthrie creation will become “Salut les amoureux”… The release of the album is planned for December and CBS decides to re-release “La Bande a Bonnot”. The first single, containing “La complainte de l’heure de pointe”, appears at the height of the Christmas shopping season. France celebrates the New Year’s Eve pushing the pedals of the bikes in time to Joe’s song…

1973

The year begins well. Joe is on vacation in Courchevel. As usual, two singles are released simulta-neously. The first one – “Le moustique” – is a raving success and “Salut les amoureux” becomes an all-time classic. The spring is coming and Germany calls Joe again. On March 21 he offers these cycling fans the German version of “A velo dans Paris”, recorded in Davout. When Joe has to go on his usual summer tour, Maryse is pregnant. This is the most beautiful thing that might happen to the couple after ten years of family life. Joe is over the moon, so happy that he decides to move to the country. He buys a plot for a country house in a suburb west of Paris. Besides, in order to see to the construction process and to give the future mother some fresh air, important for the child, he leaves D’Assas Street and rents a house near the golf course of Saint-Nom-la-Breteche. The house of hap-piness is to be built in the forest, in Feucherolles. The first petrol crisis doesn’t seem to make an im-pact on the construction progress but the swindlers of all kind have already located the couple and the house costs them a whole fortune. In May Joe goes to London but this time he leaves old Lans-downe for Audio International Studios. Again in association with Arthey and Plait, he records two titles with the lyrics written by Delanoe and Lemesle. One of them, “La chanson des cigales”, has to be the sequel of “Le moustique” but it won’t work. Before Joe would be disappointed at the fact but now, when he is about to become father, he just doesn’t pay so much attention to this insignificant failure. In July Maryse takes a vacation in Deauville, while Joe goes to Tahiti. No doubt, he is to-tally subjugated by this paradise on earth. His aim is to begin the construction of the fares (little bungalows) on his plot of land. In August he has to return to France and go on a tour without any hit of support. And, as troubles never come singly, the worst thing that may happen to the future father befalls on him.

Maryse gives birth to a premature newborn, Joshua, who dies five days later. From this time on nothing is like it was before. Joe sinks in the deepest depression. His friend Carlos tries to give him some support. Together they go on a tour where Carlos sings Joe’s tunes. The ones Joe cannot sing himself. This is the way “Une journee de Monsieur Chose” is created. At the same time, though CBS puts on the market the double compilation, Joe has to prepare the new album. He is completely absorbed in his work, because this is the only thing that lets him forget… He takes Bernard Leloup to Las Vegas, Nevada and to Arizona, to the canyon country, where they take a few photographs in the canyons. The new album, recorded in November in Lansdowne and Davout, is released in De-cember. It contains 13 new titles and very few potential hits, except for “Fais-moi de l’electricite”, written by Joe’s gang. There are also two good tunes written by Daniel Vangarde and Alice Dona.

1974

The single from the album is released in January. There is no side A or B, both songs, “Quand on a seize ans” and “A chacun sa chanson”, are represented as equal. But both titles fail and, by the end of January, CBS hastens to put on sale another single with “Les plus belles annees de ma vie” and “Fais-moi de l’electricite”. The result is barely better. Joe has to find his second wind, for sure. Anyway, he is as inspired as ever when he writes for others. This way Carlos gets such hits as “Se-nor Meteo” and “Le bougalou du loup-garou”, written by Joe in collaboration with Claude Bolling. And what is more, Joe sings in duo with Dolto, Jr. “Cresus et Romeo” is recorded not long before February 19, Joe’s next performance in Olympia. A very strange one, indeed. The Claude Gagnasso orchestra of 17 musicians, ten dancers and five back-vocalists are invited to record a “live” album. Joe practices his lasso tricks and sings, in addition to his own titles, a medley of American hits of the forties. Ambience a la Andrew Sisters is guaranteed. Having done with this, he goes to the Kluger Studio, to Brussels, where three songs in German have to be recorded – “Quand on a seize ans”, “La derniere page” and “A chacun sa chanson”. But Bundes Republik seems to go on strike and the songs almost fail. Joe has promised himself to go to Tahiti once a year and this time he de-cides to make his trip in May. The Dassins ask their friends, the restaurant owners from Aix-en-Provence, Gu and Renee Galasso, to join them. The little company is fond of funny jokes and the journey is excellent. After this short vacation Joe goes to London. He needs a summer hit. Two ti-tles are recorded, one of which is “C’est du melo”, but the single passes unnoticed. Plait is furious. He must find the new titles! On a summer tour Joe entertains the audience with his golden oldies. The nostalgic atmosphere of the concerts drives him mad. Even the fact of moving to his beautiful new house in Feucherolles doesn’t appease him. One of the most successful French singers has a tedious time – his family life is broken and his career is as monotonous as ever… Plait refuses to say uncle and redoubles his efforts but Joe doesn’t believe him anymore. Why so, he is not a Number One! But one needs something more to cut the ground from under the famous Jacques Plait, the best French producer of the time. A whole gang is enabled to work on the new album. In November, in Lansdowne, Plait and Arthey decide to hire another sound engineer. John Mackswith joins the team at the right time. The album is released promptly in the end of November, for Plait wants to make it with the New Year sales. And high time it is. Two songs from the album – “Si tu t’appelles melan-colie” and “Vade retro” – literally smash the hit parades. At a moment’s notice the single is released. There is no more reason to save money on the new titles. Plait takes chances, gambles on Lady Luck, and breaks the bank. Joe worked his way up to the top.

1975

Somewhere in the dark the disco is rumbling but Joe Dassin, invited to the MIDEM, is hardly aware of its existence. Meanwhile, Plait considers re-positioning Dassin. It is March and everything must be done to consolidate the success of the last single. He is on the look-out for “the” song, “the” summer hit. The spring passes by quickly. There is no more time to lose. And the miracle happens. During one of the listening sessions in the CBS office in the beginning of May, Joe’s producer hears musical production “made in Italy”, which is to be distributed in France. One of the songs – “Africa” – belongs to the group Albatros, and is written by a certain Toto Cutugno and Vito Pal-lavicini, known in France as author of some Italian cover versions. It is sung in English. Plait goes for it and makes Dassin listen to the song. Joe is completely stunned. He makes it over and over, while Plait is busy lending Lansdowne studio, buying tickets to London and giving Delanoe and Lemesle an extra bother about the lyrics. The destination is clear – Roissy, Heathrow, Lansdowne, Heathrow, Roissy. In a few days Joe is back in France for the voice recording sessions. On May 24, he walks into the studio CBE which belongs to Bernard Estardy. This latter is a famous sound engi-neer, one of the biggest names in showbiz. He knows best of all how to “catch” the voice of the greatest French chansonniers. A perfect melody, refined arrangements, spoken intro recorded by pure chance and a strong title found by Delanoe are the indispensable ingredients of “L’ete indien”. Plait is enthusiastic – he has a presentiment of a great hit. But the hardest thing is yet to come – broadcasting, promotion, TV sessions… On May 27 the fire is set to the outskirts. The disc itself is released on June 6, the anniversary of the American troops landings in Normandy. A good omen. Plait is willing to kill three birds with one stone: on June 24 and 25, as usual in CBE studio, Dassin records German and Italian versions of “L’ete indien”. Spanish and English versions follow. The latter is recorded in the Studio 92 on September 3. After ten years of singing career, Joe is holding in his hands something more than just another “summer hit”. “L’ete indien” proves to be his biggest success. And not only in the country of de Gaulle and Giscard. On August 2 the song enters the Dutch hit parade and stays there for five weeks to acquire the 22nd position. The German version enters the Deutsche hit parade on September 22 to reach the 28th place in fourteen weeks. It vies with the French version which penetrates the German market only on October 20 and in two weeks arrives at the 47th position. But this is nothing in comparison with Spain and South America, where Joe becomes a cult figure. After all, the disc will be released in twenty-five countries to achieve un-precedented success as against the original English-Italian version. In September, visibly revived, CBS releases a double compilation along with the “Golden Album”. Joe, also full of energy, signs with the tandem Cutugno-Pallavicini, who produces hit after hit. The album is prepared in London with Arthey and tweaked at CBE with Estardy. Needless to say, it is literally stuffed with hits: “Et si tu n’existais pas”, “Il faut naitre a Monaco”, “Ca va pas changer le monde”, “Salut”… The disc is released for Christmas holidays, supported by a little promo record. It is a smash success in France, as well as the forty-five with “Ca va pas changer le monde” and “Il faut naitre a Monaco”, released promptly in January. Thus comes the much expected renaissance.

1976

In March, CBS releases a new single with “Salut” and “Et si tu n’existais pas” and the success doesn’t make anyone waiting. For everybody to understand: this “Salut” is not “Au revoir”. Abroad Joe operates trouble-free. On April 10, “Ca va pas changer le monde” strikes the Dutch hit parade to stay there for five weeks and finally get the 23rd place. CBS informs that Dassin has sold – unbe-lievable! – 20 millions of discs during his career. In the beginning of summer he joins the CBE team to record “Il etait une fois nous deux”, which is released in June and becomes promptly classed as the summer hit. On July 6, the Spanish versions of “Et si tu n’existais pas” and “Ca va pas changer le monde” are released. Thanks to all this, Joe’s next tour with the Martin Circus is second to none. In September, CBS puts on the market a new double compilation, smartly baptized “Grands succes volume 3”. The beginning of the school year turns out to be the best time for this kind of produc-tion. As a break in the routine of recording sessions, Joe enters the CBE studios to start work on his new album in October. Sixty musicians and eighty back-vocalists under the direction of Arthey are summoned to perform a miracle called “Le Jardin du Luxembourg”, a 12-minutes title, composed by the same Italian duo, Vito Pallavicini and Toto Cutugno. Because of its length, “Le Jardin du Luxembourg” will first be rejected by the radio stations and Plait will be forced to release a promo single with explications. Along with “Le Jardin du Luxembourg”, “A toi” and “Le cafe des trois colombes” will also be remixed.

1977

Despite this hitch, first the album, and then the single with “A toi” and “Le cafe des trois colombes” have been triumphing since January. Plait seems to work wonders – with the disco music flourish-ing, he managed to find a new team “slow” for Dassin and it does work! In March and April, as usual at CBE, Joe records two new tunes for the upcoming summer. Both titles are written by the awesome Italians but the single with “Et l’amour s’en va”, released in May, is drowned out by the disco music… Still a big friend of Carlos, Joe writes some nice songs for this performer, the ones he thinks he couldn’t sing himself, like “Le big bisou”. Meanwhile, the CBS stable gets reinforced with a new female singer. Jeane Manson is American and, thus, has a lot in common with Joe. They make friends. At the same time Joe and his wife Maryse make a decision to get divorced. No of-fences, no quarrels – they just wish to live separately and on May 5 settle the matter out of court. Some days later, “Vendredi 13” goes to the Martinique with Joe and Johnny Hallyday on board. On June 7, Joe records Spanish versions of “A toi” and “Le Jardin du Luxembourg” – Spain and South America are delirious. In September CBS releases next two compilations and in December, though the Disco is the king, Joe persists in producing fine slows. Only one song from his new album be-comes a hit and it is “Dans les yeux d”Emilie”, promptly released in a single format. The rest of the album “Les femmes de ma vie” is a moving tribute to all those women who mattered to Joe, espe-cially his sisters and his new companion, pretty Christine.

1978

The LP is released in January. Two songs from it, “La premiere femme de ma vie” and “J’ai craque” are written by Alain Goraguer, the ex-accomplice of Serge Gainsbourg, who has just joined Jojo’s team. Alain also assists Dassin in writing “Le petit ballon”. On January 14, Joe marries Christine Delvaux. The ceremony takes place in Cotignac with Serge Lama and Jeane Manson as invitees. Tout va pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes… On March 4, “Dans les yeux d’Emilie” rushes into the Dutch hit. In June, Joe and his mother-in-law, Melina Mercouri, record a duo in Greek, “Ochi den prepi na sinandithoume”, intended to be the part of “Cri des femmes” soundtrack. Later this song will also be released as a promo single. Just before, in April, Joe rear-ranged “No Woman, No Cry”, a reggae tune, written by Bob Marley and rehashed by “Boney M”. Delanoe and Lemesle transformed it into “Si tu penses a moi”, leading Joe – for the first and the last time – to the slippery ground of disco-reggae. Christine is pregnant and the summer passes by in looking after the expectant mother. Meanwhile, CBS wastes no precious time: the 3rd volume of The Greatest Hits compilation and a three discs set are released. On September 14, eight months exactly after his wedding, Joe’s first son, Jonathan, is born in the American Hospital in Neuilly. Needless to say, Joe is the happiest man in the world. He comes up with an idea to record two ver-sions, French and Italian, of “Little Italy”, a musical comedy created by Pallavicini and Guarnieri. Marcella Bella is invited as a female vocalist. The result is designed for the French and Italian tele-visions. But the beautiful project, carefully planned by Gilbert and Maritie Carpentier, will never be brought out. After these recording sessions Dassin goes on a tour to Canada. In October and No-vember Joe returns to CBE for next album, but this time he seems to be a bit less enthusiastic about his work. His family life is of much greater importance! Nevertheless, he records two songs in Eng-lish, “La beaute du diable” and “Darlin'” of The Poacher. As a single for his new album, “15 ans deja”, Joe chooses “Darlin'”. The reason is clear: France gets completely crazy about English. Sheila, Juvet, Cerrone, Karen Cheryl, all the bonzes of the French showbiz consider their duty to record tunes in English. Thus, Joe the American has every prospect of success. But his production in native language is almost a failure. CBS has to react quickly, and the single with “La vie se chante, la vie se pleure” appears in January. This song, written as usual by Delanoe and Lemesle, is certainly the only one to be remembered, though for this album Plait invited some nicest songwrit-ers of the moment, such as Alice Dona, Toto Cutugno, Didier Barbelivien and William Sheller.

1979

The New Year holidays pass in a split second. The times are a-changing. Johnny Hallyday and some other old timers are pushed aside by a squad of newcomers named Cabrel, Duteil and Bala-voine… Joe feels that if he wants to stay where he actually is, he has to redouble his efforts. Jacques Plait is as fastidious as ever – even if “Darlin'” is rated in the German hit parade and climbs to the 49th place in two weeks, Joe has to be on the alert. On February 14 he records the Spanish versions of “La vie se chante, la vie se pleure” and “Si tu penses a moi”. From this time on, Joe works more for the Latin America than for Iberian peninsula and Marie-France Briere teaches him the particu-larities of South American Spanish, especially pronunciation in its Argentinean variant. While waiting for Joe to produce at least one title for the upcoming summer, in the beginning of April CBS releases another single, extracted from the album, “Cote banjo, cote violon”. His private life gets complicated and takes him more and more time. Nonetheless, in May, as always at CBE, he records a hit of Italian origin, “Le dernier slow”. The disc is released in a single format, but also as a maxi (promo and commercial), which is unusual for Joe. This slow will make dance all the lovers in the night clubs throughout France and push Julio Iglesias down from his pedestal. For four years Joe has been triumphing in South America and he is still on top. In all countries where his discs are selling he takes part in radio and TV programs, let alone the concerts. On August 10, 1979, Joe flies to Chili. After a short landing in Argentina his plane heads for Santiago, but is forced to return to Buenos Aires because of thick fog. When Joe finally arrives to the Chilean capital, he is deeply touched by the sight of excited crowds, singing his songs by heart, even in French. On the local television, Chanel 13, he sings “A ti” and every Chilean muchacha feels concerned. Our “Latino lover against his will” seems to have cast a spell over this part of the world! On August 14 he comes back to Argentina to set fire to the pampas with his songs… Plait cannot believe his own eyes – the slow “made in France” easily enthralls the kingdom of tango. On August 16, feeling revived and highly enthusiastic, Joe arrives to Los Angeles to record his next album. Arranged by Mike Utley, “Blue Country” is supposed to be the album of his renewal. While the musicians are busy with re-cording tunes of Jim Croce, Eric Clapton and Tony Joe White, Joe goes to Tahiti for a vacation. On coming back, he dubs in his voice in English and French in Devonshire Sound Studio. To Joe’s delight, his idol, Tony Joe White, comes to play the guitar and harmonica during the recording ses-sions. One song from the new album, “Le marche aux puces”, written by Dassin and Lemesle, will be adapted by Tony under the title “The Guitar Don’t Lie”. Joe is filled with pride. In autumn, while the English album is released in Canada under the title “Home Made Ice Cream”, Christine is pregnant for the second time. But Joe, feeling exhausted by her endless jealousy, sues his wife for a divorce and decides to see in the new year with his son Jonathan.

1980

“Blue Country”, the album of maturity, is released in France on January 11, without any single pre-ceding. The media are enthused, even if Joe’s regular fans are a bit perplexed. Being on a visit to Montreal, where he takes his back vocalists, Joe re-records four titles from his last album. From this time on he will record and sing only in English. After the release of the promo single, on February 18 Joe comes to CBE to remake a song from “Home Made Ice Cream”, followed soon, on February 25 and 26, by another three titles from the same album. On March 11, CBS risks to release a single with “Faut pas faire de la peine a John”, a cover version of Elvis Presley’s tune. As for Joe’s private life, his wife Christine gives birth to their second child, Julien. Joe should be the happiest man in the world, but…

On March 31 and April 1, Dassin joins Bernard Estardy in the studio on the rue Championnet, where they remake five English versions of songs from Joe’s last album. At the same time, on April 1 and 2, another three titles in English from this same album will be remixed in the latest fashion. So, now Joe is almost ready to release in France his “American” album. He takes this disc very much to heart. The summer is coming and CBS decides to issue “The Guitar Don’t Lie” in a single and a maxi format, but puts off the release of the album. Joe is waiting for the public verdict on his creation. His state of health, and especially his heart, cause him a lot of problems. He wasn’t careful enough and let himself too much abuse of all kinds. In July, suffering already from a stomach ulcer, Joe falls victim to a heart attack and is taken to the American Hospital in Neuilly. On July 26, Jacques Plait comes to see him before his departure to Tahiti. They’re meeting up in Papeete from where they are supposed to go visit Joe’s land he purchased some 120 miles south of Tahiti. Another heart attack strikes Joe in Los Angeles, landing point between Paris and Papeete. His state of health allows him neither smoking nor drinking, but feeling depressed, Joe pays it no attention. On his arrival to Tahiti with Claude Lemesle, his mother Bea and his two children, Joe tries to forget his personal problems. But there is no escaping fate. It is from this garden of Eden that Joe takes a one-way ticket to Paradise.

In the restaurant “Chez Michel et Eliane”, on August 20, at noon local time, Joe collapses, victim of his fifth heart attack. The one ambulance of the hospital was busy and arrived too late. He was 41.

When AFP announces the news in France, all the radio stations dash to broadcast Joe’s songs. So that they can take him to his “village at the back of beyond”. While the media tries to puzzle out the Dassin case, the public, still in the torpidity of summer vacation, snatches at Joe’s discs. In September, a great number of compilations are released, including the three discs set, conceived as a tribute to American from Paris. This is the way the things will con-tinue… Because Joe Dassin is not just “another singer”. Like Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens or Claude Francois, he is a social phenomenon. Once and for all.

In the period between 1981 and 1985, Joe is still in great demand, especially in 1982, when CBS releases a single with “A mon fils”, a piece from formerly unpublished “Little Italy”. In 1983, “A toi” and “L’ete indien” are reissued, let alone the re-editions and compilations of all kind that follow one after another.

Between 1986 and 1990 the first CD changes the situation on the market. Will Joe Dassin be forgot-ten? No way! The fist laser compilation, “Une heure avec… Joe Dassin” is followed by the book about Joe, published by Jacques Plait and Joe’s first wife, Maryse Massiera. All the albums are gradually reissued in the new format including the quasi-complete collection of songs in French and the video, produced in collaboration with INA. “L’ete indien” appears once again as a single, but this time it is accompanied by a megamix. The first TV advertising campaign on Joe, “Un ami revient”, is launched by Arsenic.

From 1990 till 1995, Dassin, along with Cabrel and Goldman, makes the best CD sales of Sony-France. He is so unavoidable that his discs are released even by France Loisirs. After the first CD single with “Les Champs-Elysees” and “A toi” is issued, Jacques Plait is on the point of jumping for joy. The matter is that French rocker number 1, Johnny Hallyday, records “The Guitar Don’t Lie”, turned into “La guitare fait mal” with the new French lyrics by Etienne Roda-Gil. Thus, “Le marche aux puces”, rearranged and “updated” proves, if there’s any need to do it again, that Joe was really ten years ahead of his time.

In 1993, another big campaign on Dassin, but this time with Platine, results in a compilation crowned with a double Golden Disc. And, finally, a brand-new L’equipe a Jojo including Les Innocents, Jean-Louis Murat, Les Objets, Jerome Soligny and Louise Feron, Dominique Daclan, Bill Pritchard, Autour de Lucie, Mr Kuriakin, Oui Oui, Pascal Comelade, Les William Pears, Droles de Beaux Gars, Marie Audigier, Katerine, Chelsea, Daniel Darc and Bertrand Burgalat, records a double album to pay tribute to the singer, whose songs still help us to live.

Joe Dassin had citizenship in both the USA and France. He was a talented polyglot, recording songs in German, Russian, Spanish, Italian and Greek, as well as French and English.

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Elvis Presley 8/1977

elvisAugust 16, 1977 – Elvis Aaron Presley, more commonly known as “The King of Rock and Roll,”  is arguably the single most important figure in the global spreading of American 20th century popular music. Besides pop and rock ‘n roll, he brought the blues, black music and gospel to the world. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935, he made his first public performance on October 3rd 1945, in a singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, dressed as a cowboy. Elvis had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone and sang Red Foley’s “Old Shep.” He came in fifth, winning $5 and a free ticket to all the Fair rides.

He began his career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, an uptempo fusion of country and R&B with a strong back beat. Continue reading Elvis Presley 8/1977

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Mama Cass 7/1974

July 29, 1974 – Mama Cass aka Cass Elliot was born Ellen Naomi Cohen on September 19th 1941 in Baltimore, Maryland. She grew up in the Washington D.C. environs and in her senior year of high school, she performed in a summer stock production of “The Boyfriend” at the Owings Mills Playhouse where she played the French nurse who sings “It’s Nicer, Much Nicer in Nice.” After this experience, even though her family anticipated her to seek a college education in pursuit of a career, Cass forged ahead in the world of performance.

“Elliot adopted the name “Cass” in high school, possibly borrowing it from actress Peggy Cass, as Denny Doherty tells it. She assumed the surname Elliot some time later, in memory of a friend who had died. Elliot attended George Washington High School, along with Jim Morrison of The Doors.
While still attending George Washington High School, Elliot became interested in acting and was cast in a school production of the play The Boy Friend. She left high school shortly before graduation and moved to New York City to further her acting career (as recounted in the lyrics to “Creeque Alley, a nightclub in Charlotte Amalie-St.Thomas Virgin Islands waterfront alley“).

Continue reading Mama Cass 7/1974

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Louis Armstrong 7/1971

July 6, 1971 – Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong  was officially born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana, eleven months later than he claimed.

Armstrong often stated that he was born on July 4, 1900, a date that has been noted in many biographies. Although he died in 1971, it was not until the mid-1980s that his true birth date of August 4, 1901 was discovered by researcher Tad Jones through the examination of baptismal records.
Armstrong was born into a poor family in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was the grandson of slaves. He spent his youth in poverty, in a rough neighborhood known as “the Battlefield”, which was part of the Storyville legal prostitution district. His father, William Armstrong (1881–1933), abandoned the family when Louis was an infant and took up with another woman. His mother, Mary “Mayann” Albert (1886–1927), then left Louis and his younger sister, Beatrice Armstrong Collins (1903–1987), in the care of his grandmother, Josephine Armstrong, and at times, his Uncle Isaac. At five, he moved back to live with his mother, her relatives and a parade of “step-fathers”. Continue reading Louis Armstrong 7/1971