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Jeff Hanneman 5/2013

Jeff HannemanMay 2, 2013 – Jeffrey John “Jeff” Hanneman was born on January 31, 1964 in Oakland CA, but grew up further south in Long Beach. He is best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

The story goes that in 1981 he approached Kerry King, when King was auditioning for a southern rock band “Ledger”. After the try-out session, the two guitarists started talking and playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs and decided to form their own band, and Slayer was born.

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Micky Waller 5/2008

micky-wallerMay 6, 2008 – Micky Waller was born in Hammersmith, London on September 6th 1941.

The son of a council clerk of works, Waller was evacuated as a war baby to his Aunt Nora’s home in Belper, Derbyshire. After he returned to his parents’ home in Greenford, Middlesex, his father encouraged his interest in drumming by taking him to see the 1955 film The Benny Goodman Story; Gene Krupa’s big-band drumming virtually hypnotised the teenager. Waller took lessons with Jim Marshall, maker of the world-famous Marshall amplifiers, and later partly credited his unusual style to the fact that as a lefthander he had learned on a righthanded set of drums, which may have been the reason why he was notoriously known for not having a complete kit with him when showing up for gigs or sessions.

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Ray Charles 6/2004

Ray Charles 500June 10, 2004 – Ray Charles Robinson was born September 23, 1930 and became an American singer-songwriter, musician and composer sometimes referred to as “The Genius”.

Ray Charles, a Grammy-winning bluesman/crooner who blended gospel and blues in such crowd-pleasers as “What’d I Say” and heartfelt ballads like “Georgia on My Mind” died from liver failure on Thursday, June 10, 2004 at age 73.

Charles died at his Beverly Hills home surrounded by family and friends, said spokesman Jerry Digney.

Charles last public appearance was alongside Clint Eastwood on April 30, when the city of Los Angeles designated the singer’s studios, built 40 years ago in central Los Angeles, as a historic landmark. Continue reading Ray Charles 6/2004

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Mickey Finn 1/2003

Mickey FinnJanuary 11, 2003 – Mickey Finn (T-Rex) was born Michael Norman Finn on June 3rd 1947 in Thornton Heath, Surrey, England.

Often confused with other musicians by the same name, Michael Norman Finn (apart from T. Rex) only toured as a sideman in the 1960s with Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. After Bolan and T.Rex’s demise, he worked as a session musician for The Blow Monkeys and The Soup Dragons.

When Tyrannosaurus Rex leader Marc Bolan had enough of the excessive lifestyle of his original T-Rex partner Steve Peregrin Took, he invited Mickey Finn as percussionist and sideman to finish Tyrannosaurus Rex’s 4th album in 1969 titled “A Beard of Stars” and later, into the 1970s incarnation of the glam rock group, T-Rex.

The album was released in March ’70 and a commercial success. It was rumored that Bolan had hired Finn for his good looks, and because he admired his motorcycle, rather than for his musical ability. Finn was unable to recreate the complex rhythmical patterns of his predecessor, Steve Peregrin Took, and was effectively hired as much for a visual foil for Bolan as for his percussion. Continue reading Mickey Finn 1/2003

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Gar
Samuelson
7/1999

July 22, 1999 – Gary C. “Gar” Samuelson (Megadeth) was born on February 18th 1958 in Dunkirk, New York. Little is known about his early years other than that he was of Swedish descent and that the family moved from New York to Florida in the early 1980s.

He became best known as the drummer for thrash metal band Megadeth, working in the band from 1984 to 1987. Prior to Megadeth he and Chris Poland played in a jazz fusion band called The New Yorkers, and that before this, both practiced and played together for many years.

After meeting with Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson of Megadeth in 1984, he joined the band, and Poland soon followed, this being what Mustaine refers to as ‘the first real line-up’. Samuelson would go on to serve as the band’s drummer until 1987, appearing on the albums Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good!, and Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, as well as serving through tours, until he was ultimately fired for his drug addiction. Gar’s style was heavily influenced by years of jazz training. This is exemplified in the tracks “These Boots”, “Rattlehead”, and “Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good!”.

Gary and his brother Stew then formed, along with Billy Brehme, Travis Karcher and Andy Freeman, the band Fatal Opera, which released a self-titled album in 1995 and the Eleventh Hour in 1997.  He was considered a very unorthodox drummer among the other thrash metal bands of the 1980s even though he is considered as one of the most influential drummers to thrash metal, having pioneered the incorporation of jazz fusion into the subgenre.

He died of  liver failure on July 22, 1999 at the age of 41.

The success of Megadeth‘s break though single, “Peace Sells“, is often credited to the snarling vocals of Dave Mustaine or the thundering bassline of Dave Ellefson. However, in a new interview, former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland has claimed that drummer Gar Samuelson had more to do with the track’s composition than first thought. As Classic Rock Magazine reported, Poland credits the drummer for turning the song from an 8 minute marathon into the shorter, punchier version that we all know today: “I think originally it was eight minutes long, and Gar said, ‘You know what? This is too good a song to drag it out like this. Let’s shorten the arrangement, cut it down to size and make it a single.’ “Dave said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that.’

I honestly think Dave respected Gar’s opinion on stuff he was the only guy in the band Dave wouldn’t mess with. “He totally respected Gar, and thank God he did, If Gar hadn’t talked Dave into shortening the song…”

 

 

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Kurt Winter 12/1997

Kurt WinterDecember 14, 1997 – Kurt Winter was born Kurt Frank Winter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on April 2, 1946. He attended Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute. Winter commenced the development of his music career with a number of Winnipeg bands, including Gettysbyrg Address (1967, with later Guess Who bass player Bill Wallace), The Fifth (1968, with drummer Vance Masters) and Brother (late 1969, with Wallace and Masters). Brother was regarded as Winnipeg’s first supergroup, playing all original material, the live shows of which were greatly admired by vocalist Burton Cummings.

He was not involved in the writing of “American Woman”, the Guess Who’s international superhit in 1969.

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Rory Gallagher 6/1995

rory-gallagher-stadium-1981-ch-018June 14, 1995 – William Rory Gallagher was an Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal on March 2, 1948 and raised in Cork. His father was employed constructing a hydro electric power plant on the nearby Erne river.

Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste during the late 1960s. He was a very talented guitarist known for his charismatic performances and dedication to his craft. Gallagher’s albums have sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide. Gallagher received a liver transplant in 1995, but died of complications later that year in London, UK at the age of 47. Continue reading Rory Gallagher 6/1995

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Eddie Hazel 12/1992

eddiehazelDec 23, 1992 – Eddie Hazel was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 10, 1950 but grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey because his mother, Grace Cook, wanted her son to grow up in an environment without the pressures of drugs and crime that she felt pervaded New York City. Hazel occupied himself from a young age by playing a guitar, given to him as a Christmas present by his older brother. Hazel also sang in church. At age 12 he participated in backyard jams, which resulted in Nelson McGee and Hazel forming the Wonders who played around Plainfield in the mid sixties. By early 1967 Hazel’s reputation on guitar had taken him to work with producer George Blackwell in Newark.

In 1967  The Parliaments, a Plainfield-based doo wop band headed by George Clinton, had a hit record with “(I Wanna) Testify“. Clinton recruited a backing band for a tour, hiring Nelson as bassist, who in turn recommended Hazel as guitarist.

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Ester
Phillips
8/1984

Esther Phillips amazing R&B/Jazz voiceAugust 7, 1984 – Esther Phillips was born Esther Mae Jones on December 23, 1935. in Galveston Texas. She began singing in church as a young child. When her parents divorced, she split time between her father in Houston and her mother in the Watts area of Los Angeles.

It was while she was living in Los Angeles in 1949 that her sister entered her in a talent show at a nightclub belonging to bluesman Johnny Otis. So impressed was Otis with the 13-year-old that he brought her into the studio for a recording session with Modern Records and added her to his live revue.

Billed as Little Esther, she scored her first success when she was teamed with the vocal quartet the Robins (who later evolved into the Coasters) on the Savoy single “Double Crossin’ Blues.” It was a massive hit, topping the R&B charts in early 1950 and paving the way for a series of successful singles bearing Little Esther’s name: “Mistrustin’ Blues,” “Misery,” “Cupid Boogie,” and “Deceivin’ Blues.”

In 1951, Little Esther moved from Savoy and Johnny Otis to Federal after a dispute over royalties, but despite being the brightest female star in Otis’ revue, she was unable to duplicate her impressive string of hits. Furthermore, she and Otis had a falling out, reportedly over money, which led to her departure from his show; she remained with Federal for a time, then moved to Decca in 1953, again with little success.

In 1954, she returned to Houston to live with her father, having already developed a fondness for the temptations of life on the road; by the late ’50s, her experiments with hard drugs had developed into a definite addiction to heroin. She re-signed with Savoy in 1956, to little avail, and went on to cut sides for Federal and (in 1960) Warwick, which went largely ignored.

Short on money, Little Esther worked in small nightclubs around the South, punctuated by periodic hospital stays in Lexington, KY, stemming from her addiction. In 1962, she was rediscovered while singing at a Houston club by future country star Kenny Rogers, who got her signed to his brother’s Lenox label. Too old to be called Little Esther, she re-christened herself Esther Phillips, choosing her last name from a nearby Phillips gas station.

She recorded a country-soul reading of the soon-to-be standard “Release Me,” which was released as a single late in the year. In the wake of Ray Charles’ groundbreaking country-soul hit “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Release Me” was a smash, topping the R&B charts and hitting the Top Ten on both the pop and country charts. Back in the public eye, Phillips recorded a country-soul album of the same name, but Lenox went bankrupt in 1963.

Thanks to her recent success, Phillips was able to catch on with R&B giant Atlantic, which initially recorded her in a variety of musical settings to see what niche she might fill best. It was eventually decided to play up her more sophisticated side and accordingly, Phillips cut a blues-tinged album of jazz and pop standards; her string-laden remake of the Beatles song “And I Love Him” (naturally, with the gender changed) nearly made the R&B Top Ten in 1965 and the Beatles flew her to the U.K. for her first overseas performances.

Encouraged, Atlantic pushed her into even jazzier territory for her next album, Esther Phillips Sings; however, it didn’t generate much response and was somewhat eclipsed by her soul reading of Percy Sledge’s “When a Woman Loves a Man” (again, with the gender changed), which made the R&B charts.

Nonplussed, Atlantic returned to their former tactic of recording Phillips in as many different styles as possible, but none of the resulting singles really caught on and the label dropped her in late 1967.

With her addiction worsening, Phillips checked into a rehab facility; while undergoing treatment, she cut some sides for Roulette in 1969 and upon her release, she moved to Los Angeles and re-signed with Atlantic. A late-1969 live gig at Freddie Jett’s Pied Piper club produced the album Burnin’, which was acclaimed as one of the best, most cohesive works of Phillips’ career.

Despite that success, Atlantic still wanted her to record pop tunes with less grit and when their next attempts failed to catch on, Phillips was let go a second time. In 1971, she signed with producer Creed Taylor’s Kudu label, a subsidiary of his hugely successful jazz fusion imprint CTI.

Her label debut, From a Whisper to a Scream, was released in 1972 to strong sales and highly positive reviews, particularly for her performance of Gil Scott-Heron’s wrenching heroin-addiction tale “Home Is Where the Hatred Is.”

Phillips recorded several more albums for Kudu over the next few years and enjoyed some of the most prolonged popularity of her career, performing in high-profile venues and numerous international jazz festivals. In 1975, she scored her biggest hit single since “Release Me” with a disco-fied update of Dinah Washington’s “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes” (Top Ten R&B, Top 20 pop), and the accompanying album of the same name became her biggest seller yet.

In 1977, Phillips left Kudu for Mercury, landing a deal that promised her the greatest creative control of her career. She recorded four albums for the label, but none matched the commercial success of her Kudu output and after 1981’s A Good Black Is Hard to Crack, she found herself without a record deal.

Her last R&B chart single was 1983’s “Turn Me Out,” a one-off for the small Winning label; unfortunately, her health soon began to fail, the culmination of her previous years of addiction combined with a more recent flirtation with the bottle. Phillips died in Los Angeles on August 7, 1984, of liver and kidney failure at the age of 48. Her funeral services were conducted by Johnny Otis.

Obviously a victim of the Music Industry’s pathetic lack of managerial direction and understanding of the art, Esther Phillips was twice nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1986 and 1987, but was not inducted. Shame on them.

 

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Alan Freed 1/1965

Alan FreedJanuary 20, 1965 – Alan Freed also known as Moondog, was born on December 15, 1921 in Windber, Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as the “father of rock and roll”, became internationally known for promoting African-American R & B music on the radio in the USA and Europe under the name of Rock and Roll. That is why his inclusion into Rock and Roll Paradise.

In 1933, Freed’s family moved to Salem, Ohio where Freed attended Salem High School, graduating in 1940. While Freed was in high school, he formed a band called the Sultans of Swing in which he played the trombone. Freed’s initial ambition was to be a bandleader; however, an ear infection put an end to this dream.

The Origins of the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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