July 11, 2011 – Robert Frank “Rob” Grill (the Grass Roots) was born on November 30th 1943 in Hollywood, California. Soon after graduation, he began working at American Recording Studios with musician friends Cory Wells and John Kay (who later formed Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf, respectively).
Grill was asked to join The Grass Roots, which grew out of a project originating from Dunhill Records owned by Lou Adler. Writer/producers P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri (The Mamas & the Papas, Tommy Roe, Four Tops and Dusty Springfield) were asked by Dunhill to write songs that would capitalize on the growing interest in the folk-rock movement.
Their song “Where Were You When I Needed You”, recorded as a demo with P.F. Sloan as lead singer was released under the name “The Grass Roots” and started to get airplay in San Francisco Bay area. Dunhill searched for a band to become The Grass Roots. After the first group they chose departed, a Los Angeles band composed of Creed Bratton, Rick Coonce, Warren Entner, and Kenny Fukomoto, was recruited to become The Grass Roots.
When Fukumoto was drafted into the army, Grill was brought in as his replacement. With Grill as lead singer, they recorded another version of “Where Were You When I Needed You” and he became the band’s longest serving member, appearing with them for more than four decades.
Mega-hit producer Steve Barri (The Mamas & the Papas, Tommy Roe, Four Tops and Dusty Springfield) took the band to chart twenty nine singles, thirteen of which went gold, followed by two gold albums and two platinum albums. Grill played with The Grass Roots on sixteen albums, seven of which charted. He took part in thirty-two Grass Roots singles released, twenty-one of which charted. In the new millennium, he released two live albums and one with a symphonic quartet.
Grill went on to produce and manage the band and became owner of The Grass Roots name.
In 1979 Grill launched a solo career and was assisted on his solo album by several members of Fleetwood Mac. Responding to 60s nostalgia, Grill then led The Grass Roots (billed “The Grass Roots Starring Rob Grill”) and toured the United States until his death in 2011. While in the arms of his wife Nancy, Grill died July 11, 2011 in an Orlando, Florida hospital from complications after a stroke and head injuries resulting from a fall several days earlier. He was 67.
Between 1967-1972, the band set a record for being on the Billboard charts for 307 straight weeks and sold over 20 million records worldwide. They also hold the all time attendance record for a one act, at the US concert of 600,000 people on July 4th, 1982 in Washington, DC. Their hit singles include: Let’s Live For Today, I’d Wait A Million Years, Midnight Confessions, Sooner Or Later, Two Divided By Love
April 10, 2005 – Wally Tax (the Outsiders) was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 14 February 1948. His Dutch father and his Russian Romani mother had met in a concentration camp during World War II. He grew up in Amsterdam and learned English at an early age from contacts with American sailors, for whom he acted as a pimp. In 1959, at age 11, he was one of the founding members of the beat band The Outsiders. The band sang English lyrics, with Tax as the main songwriter; Tax sang and played guitar and harmonica. Even while playing with The Outsiders, Tax recorded a solo album (with a symphonic orchestra), Love-In.
January 28, 2005 – Jim Capaldi (Traffic) was born on August 2, 1944 died of stomach cancer in London at age 60. He co-founded the psychedelic rock band Traffic in 1967 with Steve Winwood with whom he co-wrote the majority of the band’s output. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a part of Traffic’s original line-up.
Capaldi was a magnificent drummer, who later also mastered guitar. His songwriter credits include the Eagles’ “Love will keep us alive” and the catchy “This is Reggae Music”. His “Dear Mr. Fantasy” for the Traffic album with the same title established him as one of the greats.
A rock drummer, songwriter and founder member of Traffic, Jim Capaldi’s talents were used by Bob Marley, Eric Clapton and the Eagles and so many more.
September 6, 1994 – Nicky Hopkins was born on February 24, 1944 in Perivale, Middlesex to the NE London. He began playing the piano at age 3. As pianist, organ player Nicky recorded and performed on an amazing amount of noted superstar British and American popular music recordings of the 60s and 70s as a session musician.
At the start of the 60s he started out as the pianist with Screaming Lord Sutch’s Savages, after which he joined The Cyril Davies R&B All Stars. Due to suffering from Crohn’s disease he mainly focused on studio work in London. He worked extensively for leading UK independent producers Shel Talmy and Mickie Most and performed on albums and singles by The Kinks, The Move, Cyril Davies, Jon Mark, The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Donovan, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Art Garfunkel, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Carly Simon, McGuinness Flint, Bill Wyman, Harry Nilsson, Peter Frampton, the Easybeats, David Bowie, Dusty Springfield and Cat Stevens and many, many others.
Between 1965 and 1968 hardly a week went by without a record release featuring Nicky on keyboards.
In 1967, after turning down an offer from Led Zeppelin, he joined The Jeff Beck Group, formed by former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, with vocalist Rod Stewart, bassist Ronnie Wood and drummer Micky Waller, playing on their influential LPs Truth and Beck-Ola.
After two years of gruelling schedules he settled in the warm climate of Southern California where helped define the “San Francisco sound”, playing on albums by Jefferson Airplane, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Steve Miller Band. He briefly joined Quicksilver Messenger Service and performed with Jefferson Airplane at the Woodstock Festival. In 1968 he played piano with the Swedish psychedelic group Tages on the single “Halcyon Days”, produced in Abbey Road Studio.
Nicky joined the Rolling Stones live line-up on the 1971 Good-Bye Britain tour, as well as their 1972 North American Tour and the early ’73 Winter Tour of Australia and New Zealand. He recorded a few solo albums but remained one of the most important rock ‘n’ roll session musicians of his time.
Nicky sadly died on September 6, 1994 at age 50 in Nashville, Tennessee, of complications from intestinal surgery necessitated by his ailment.
With a discography that runs from Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Zappa, few others can boast such a wide range of credits and a presence on so many important records. As Nils Lofgren said, ‘Nicky wrote the book on rock’n’roll piano’.
April 29, 1993 – Mick Ronson was born May 26, 1946 in in Kingston upon Hull, England. As a child he was trained classically to play piano, recorder, violin, and (later) the harmonium. He initially wanted to be a cellist, but moved to guitar upon discovering the music of Duane Eddy, whose sound on the bass notes of his guitar sounded to Ronson similar to that of the cello.
He moved to London in 1965, after having outplayed the local bands.
After several attempts through the ’60s of making it in London, he got his break in early 1970, when he joined David Bowie’s new backing band called The Hype. The Hype played their first gig at The Roundhouse on 22 February 1970.
December 21, 1988 –Paul Avron Jeffreys was born on February 13, 1952. Paul grew up above his parents dry cleaning shop in East Ham, London.
On bass, he was a starting member of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and played on the first two Cockney Rebel albums titled, “The Human Menagerie” and “The Psychomodo”. Continue reading Paul Jeffreys 12/1988
17 April 1983 – Felix Pappalardi (MOUNTAIN) was born December 30th 1939 in the Bronx, New York City. After High School he moved to Michigan where he studied classical music at the University of Michigan. After graduating he moved back to New York but could not find a job as a conductor and soon fell into the folk scene of Greenwich Village. During the 1960s as a music producer he helped to further the careers of musicans from Tim Hardin, The Youngbloods, Joan Baez, to Richard and Mimi Farina.
In 1964 he joined Max Morath’s Original Rag Quartet (ORQ)in their premier engagement at New York’s Village Vanguard with several other famous musicians. Along with Felix on guitarrón (Mexican acoustic bass) were pianist/singer Morath, who revived classic ragtime played in the Scott Joplin manner, Barry Kornfeld, a well-known NYC studio folk and jazz guitarist, and Jim Tyler, a famous Baroque and Renaissance lutenist playing four string banjo and mandolin. The ORQ then toured the college and concert circuit during the following year, and opened four engagements with the Dinah Shore show in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
As a producer, Pappalardi became perhaps best known for his work with British psychedelic blues-rock power trio Cream, beginning with their second album, Disraeli Gears. Pappalardi has been referred to in various interviews with the members of Cream as “the fourth member of the band” as he generally had a role in arranging their music. He contributed instrumentation for his imaginative studio arrangements and he and his wife, Gail, wrote the Cream hit “Strange Brew” with Eric Clapton.
In 1968 he produced a band named, ‘The Vagrants’ who recorded on the Atlantic Record Label, and which featured a young guitarist named Leslie West. In 1969 along with West, Corky Laing, Mark Clarke, Steve Knight, David Perry, and N.D. Smart II, he founded the hard charging blues-rock group, ‘Mountain.‘ The group was formed in Long Island, New York, and disbanded in 1972. They got back together in 1974, but disbanded again in 1975. One of there first big gigs was playing at the Woodstock Music Festival in Saugerties, New York, in August 1969. There songs include, “My Lady” “Don’t Look Around” “The Great Train Robbery” “Travelin” “In The Dark” “The Animal Trainer And The Toad” “Mississippi Queen” “For Yasgur’s Farm” “Boys In The Band” “Laird” “Silver Paper” “King’s Corale I” “One Last Cold Kiss” “Crossroader” and “Dream Sequence: Guitar Solo/Roll Over.
As a musician, Pappalardi is widely recognized as a bassist, vocalist, and founding member of the American hard rock band/heavy metal forerunner Mountain, a band born out of his working with future bandmate Leslie West’s soul-inspired rock and roll band The Vagrants, and producing West’s 1969 Mountain solo album. The band’s original incarnation actively recorded and toured between 1969 and 1971. Felix produced the band’s albums, and co-wrote, and arranged a number of the band’s songs with his wife Gail Collins and Leslie West.
The band’s signature song, “Mississippi Queen” is still heard regularly on classic rock radio stations. They also had a hit with the song “Nantucket Sleighride” written by Pappalardi and Collins.
Felix generally played Gibson basses live and on Mountain’s recordings. He is most often shown with an EB-1 but there are photographs of him playing an EB-0 live. He was known for playing a Gibson EB-1 violin bass through a set of Sunn amplifiers that, he claimed, once belonged to Jimi Hendrix.
Pappalardi was forced to retire because of partial deafness, ostensibly from his high-volume shows with Mountain. He continued producing throughout the 1970s and released a solo album and recorded with Japanese hard rock outfit Kazuo Takeda’s band The Creation (old name Blues Creation).
On April 17, 1983, Felix Pappalardi was shot once in the neck in their fifth-floor East Side Manhattan apartment. He was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife Gail was charged with second degree murder. Collins Pappalardi claimed that the killing was an accident. She was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter, but found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. On April 30, 1985, she was released on parole and disappeared to Mexico.
Felix Pappalardi was 43 when he died on April 17, 1983.
On December 6, 2013, Collins was found dead by her landlord in the Mexican village of Ajijic, Jalisco, a resort town with many American expatriate residents. She had been undergoing cancer treatments there. She was cremated with her three cats.
The Pappalardi’s became known for their non-musical proclivities, which included the usual chemical experiments as well as an open marriage. However her jealousy of one particular mistress reportedly led to the argument that ended in his death, although Collins maintained that she’d shot Pappalardi accidentally while taking a firearms training session. The fact that it happened at 6:00AM didn’t dissuade jurors from handing in a surprising verdict, convicting her of criminally negligent homicide rather than murder.
The judge in the case seemed annoyed by the verdict, making a point of reminding jurors, “She called her attorney instead of calling for help — she was concerned with her own well-being,” and giving her the maximum sentence under the law. Paroled in 1985 after serving half of her four-year sentence, Collins disappeared from sight, but judging from the quotes given by her acquaintances to the New York Daily News, she remained just as provocative a personality after exiting the spotlight.
“She was one of the most brilliant people I have ever known, but she was also an opinionated jackass. She just needed to be the star,” said one woman described as Collins’ friend. Added her neighbor, “She left instructions for her cats to be euthanized so their ashes could be mixed with hers. Who does that?”