Spencer Davis was born Spencer David Nelson Davies on 17 July 1939 in Swansea. He later changed his name to Davis because he disliked being called “Daveys”. A musical child, he took up the harmonica and accordion and although he passed seven O-levels at Dynevor School, Swansea, he left at 16 and moved to London where he landed a job with HM Customs and Excise. He did not take to it. “We always wrote in red ink,” he remembered, “it was like writing in my own blood. I thought I was writing my life away.” After 18 months he returned to school to study for A-levels, became head boy and in 1960 enrolled at Birmingham University.
By then he was an enthusiastic amateur musician, keen on skiffle, jazz and blues, and an accomplished guitarist, influenced by the rhythm and blues he heard on the radio and on records imported from America. As a student he often performed on stage in the evenings, playing in folk clubs in and around Birmingham. In music circles, Davis was later known as “Professor”.
His early musical influences were skiffle, jazz and blues. Musical artists who influenced Davis include Big Bill Broonzy, Huddy Ledbetter, Buddy Holly, Davey Graham, John Martyn, Alexis Korner and Long John Baldry. By the time he was 16, Davis was hooked on the guitar and the American rhythm and blues music making its way across the Atlantic. With few opportunities to hear R&B in South Wales, Davis attended as many local gigs as practically possible. Continue reading Spencer Davis – 10/2020
Daniel David Kirwan (guitarist for Fleetwood Mac) was born on May 13, 1950 as Daniel David Langran and grew up in Brixton, South London. His parents separated when he was young. His mother, Phyllis Rose Langran then married Aloysious J. Kirwan in 1958 when Danny was eight. Kirwan left school in 1967 with six O-levels and worked for a year as an insurance clerk in Fenchurch Street in the City of London.
His mother was a singer and as a consequence he grew up listening to the music of jazz musicians such as Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, Belgian gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and 1930s–40s groups such as the Ink Spots. He began learning guitar at the relative late age of 15 and quickly became an accomplished self-taught guitarist and musician, influenced by guitarists such as Hank Marvin of the Shadows, Django Reinhardt, Jimi Hendrix, and particularly by Eric Clapton’s playing in the Bluesbreakers. Kirwan was 17 when he came to the attention of the newly formed blues band Fleetwood Mac in London while fronting his first band Boilerhouse, a blues three-piece with Trevor Stevens on bass guitar and Dave Terrey on drums. Boilerhouse played support slots for Fleetwood Mac at London venues such as the Nag’s Head in Battersea and John Gee’s Marquee Club in Wardour Street.
Danny Kirwan was a natural guitarist, much in the same vein as Peter Green, who could make a string sing and a note come alive without any pedal support, just his fingers. Officially the story is that Peter Green in search for a more melodic blues direction for the band, saw Danny as his perfect counterpart and Mick Fleetwood later said: “Danny was a huge force in our early years … Danny’s true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully as a part of the foundation of Fleetwood Mac, that has now endured for over fifty years. Danny was a quantum leap ahead of us creatively … He is the lost component. In many ways, Danny is a forgotten hero.”
Danny Kirwan himself however downplayed his contributions to Fleetwood Mac’s sound and ethos. “I was lucky to have played for the band at all,” Kirwan told the British paper. “I just started off following them around, but I could play the guitar a bit and Mick felt sorry for me and put me in. I did it for about four years, to about 1972, but … I couldn’t handle the lifestyle and the women and the traveling.”
Danny’s guitar playing was very melodic, much in the style of the Incredible Stringband and some California Commune bands like Mad River and Love in the late sixties, which was styled as psychedelic underground. Danny did vibrato bends and pull-offs that were until then hardly ever heard.
Danny had joined the band in 1968, barely 18 years old. He appeared on five of Fleetwood Mac’s albums: 1969’s Then Play On and Blues Jam at Chess; 1970’s Kiln House; 1971’s Future Games; and finally on 1972’s Bare Trees. His compositions clearly made an impact on everyone of those albums. But Danny became the second “victim” of Fleetwood Mac after his buddy Peter Green left the band in 1970. You see in those early days, the members in Fleetwood Mac were hard partying rockers. They had fun and were living the high-life. Peter Green out of a growing mental illness pushed by drug abuse was the first one to leave and young Danny Kirwan had lost his mentor and music partner.
When American westcoast guitarist Bob Welch was brought in to replace Peter Green, Danny entered a vacuum, as band victim #3, slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer was already translating their hard charging life style into a religious obsession. (He was supposed to tour North America with the band in early 1971, but he went missing shortly before Fleetwood Mac was to play a concert in Los Angeles. Spencer supposedly left the hotel he and the group were staying at to get some groceries, but he never returned.)
In 1999 Welch said Kirwan had been “a talented, gifted musician, almost equal to Peter Green in his beautiful guitar playing and faultless string bends,” but commented in a later interview: “Danny wasn’t a very lighthearted person, to say the least. He probably shouldn’t have been drinking as much as he did, even at his young age. He was always very intense about his work, as I was, but he didn’t seem to ever be able to distance himself from it and laugh about it.”
Before a concert on a US tour in August 1972, a backstage argument between a drunken Kirwan and Welch resulted in Kirwan smashing his guitar, trashing the dressing room and refusing to go on stage. Having reportedly smashed his head bloody on a wall, Kirwan watched the band struggle through the set without him, with Welch trying to cover his guitar parts. Welch remembered, “I was extremely pissed off, and the set seemed to drag on forever.” The band fired Kirwan, and the artistic direction of Fleetwood Mac was left in the hands of Welch and Christine McVie. Fleetwood said later that the pressure had become too much for Kirwan, and he had suffered a breakdown.
Danny Kirwin released three albums as a solo artist from 1975 to 1979, during which years he also recorded albums with Otis Spann, Chris Youlden, and Tramp, as well as worked with his former Fleetwood Mac colleagues Jeremy Spencer and Christine McVieon some of their solo projects. As a member of Fleetwood Mac, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, even though he did not come to the induction.
For most of the 1980s and 90s he battled mental illness, alcoholism and homelessness. It emerged that he had been living in basements and shelters, making ends meet through social security and small royalty payments.
In 1993, after Mick Fleetwood made inquiries about his well-being, the London paper The Independent and the U.K.’s Missing Persons Bureau tracked him down in a homeless shelter in London’s West End, where Kirwan had been living for the past four years in reasonable comfort, arranged for by his family.
Danny Kirwan died Friday June 8, 2018 in London at the age of 68, presumably according to his ex-wife from pro-longed pneumonia.
March 17, 2019 – Bernie Tormé (guitarist for Ozzy, Gillan, Dee Snider and others) was born in Dublin on March 18, 1952, where he learned to play guitar. In 1974 he moved to London, joining bassist John McCoy in heavy rockers Scrapyard. After forming the Bernie Tormé Band two years later, he re-joined McCoy as a member of former Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan’s new solo project, playing on four Gillan albums: Mr. Universe, Glory Road, Future Shock and Double Trouble.
In 1981 Tormé left Gillan, and joined Atomic Rooster as a session guitarist. The following year briefly joined Ozzy Osbourne’s band, stepping in for Randy Rhoads in the aftermath of the guitarist’s tragic death. Ozzy Osbourne told Total Guitar that if it wasn’t for Bernie Tormé he “might never have got back on a stage”.
He then formed Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies, and in 1988 joined Desperado, the band formed by Dee Snider after Twisted Sister were disbanded, playing on their only album, Bloodied, but Unbowed.
Tormé later later reunited with ex-Gillan colleague, John McCoy and drummer Robin Guy in GMT, and returned to solo work in 2013, releasing three acclaimed albums;Flowers & Dirt(2014), Blackheart (2015) and the 3CD set Dublin Cowboy. All three were successfully crowd-funded releases.
Tormé released his latest studio album Shadowland in November last year, but his family reported that PledgeMusic – who say they’re working on a solution to address late payments to artists – still owed the guitarist £16,000, which was due to be sent to him in December.
Bernie Tormé passed away peacefully on March 17, 2019 , one day short of his 67th birthday, surrounded by his family. He had been on life support for the previous four weeks at a London hospital following post-flu complications and suffering from virulent pneumonia in both lungs.
Snider tweeted, “Woke up to find out my friend Bernie Tormé has died. He was a guitar god who played with OzzyOsbourne & Ian Gillan. We worked together for 3 years, writing over 100 songs for the ill-fated Desperado. I loved that man & today my heart is broken. RIP Bernie. Your guitar weeps.”
December 30, 2017 – Lord Luther McDaniels, lead singer of vocal group the 4 Deuces, was born in Panola County, Texas in 1938. He never knew his father, who was killed in an accident soon after Luther was born. Mostly raised by his grandmother, he joined the Mitchell Brothers gospel group when he was about 11 or 12. While Luther had no musical training, he still traveled with the group all over East Texas, appearing in many gospel group “battles.” Around the end of World War 2, his mother remarried and moved to Salinas, California, about a hundred miles south of San Francisco (his new stepfather was stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey, only a few miles away). Luther went to California, decided he didn’t like it, went back to Texas, decided California wasn’t that bad, and returned to California to stay, settling in the fertile Salinas Valley south of the Bay Area, a region often referred to as America’s Salad Bowl. Continue reading Lord Luther McDaniels 12/2017
March 16, 2017 – James Cotton was born on July 1, 1935 in Tunica, Mississippi. He was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters who grew up in the cotton fields working beside their mother, Hattie, and their father, Mose. On Sundays Mose was the preacher in the area’s Baptist church. Cotton’s earliest memories include his mother playing chicken and train sounds on her harmonica and for a while he thought those were the only two sounds the little instrument made. His Christmas present one year was a harmonica, it cost 15 cents, and it wasn’t long before he mastered the chicken and the train. King Biscuit Time, a 15-minute radio show, began broadcasting live on KFFA, a station just across the Mississippi River in Helena, Arkansas. The star of the show was the harmonica legend, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller). The young Cotton pressed his little ear to the old radio speaker. He recognized the harmonica sound AND discovered something – the harp did more! Continue reading James Cotton 3/2017
January 20, 2017 – Ronald ‘Bingo’ Mungo was born April 20, 1940 in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania. Just out of high school he joined the doo wop group The Marcels, named after a popular 1950s hairstyle ‘the Marcel wave’.
The group formed in 1959 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and signed to Colpix Records with lead Cornelius Harp, bass Fred Johnson, Gene Bricker, Ron Mundy, and Richard Knauss.
In 1961, the Marcels recorded a new version of the ballad “Blue Moon” that began with the bass singer saying, “bomp-baba-bomp” and “dip-da-dip”. A demo tape sent to Colpix Records landed them at New York’s RCA Studios in February 1961 to record, among other things, a rockin’ doo-wop version of the Rodgers and Hart classic “Blue Moon” with an intro they had been using on their take of The Cadillacs’ “Zoom.” As legend has it, the day he heard it, New York DJ Murray the K played “Blue Moon” 26 times in a four-hour show. In March 1961, the song knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the Billboard chart, becoming the first No. 1 rock ’n’ roll hit out of Pittsburgh. Continue reading Ronald ‘Bingo’ Mundy 1/2017
January 18, 2016 – Glenn Frey was born on Nov. 6, 1948 in Detroit and was raised in nearby Royal Oak. He grew up on both the Motown sounds and harder-edged rock of his hometown. He played in a succession of local bands in the city and first connected with Bob Seger when Frey’s band, the Mushrooms, convinced Seger to write a song for them. Frey can also be heard singing extremely loud backing vocals (particularly on the first chorus) on Seger’s first hit and Frey’s first recorded appearance, 1968’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.”
But it wasn’t long before warmer climes called and Frey followed then-girlfriend Joan Silwin to Los Angeles. Her sister Alexandra was a member of Honey Ltd., a girl group associated with Nancy Sinatra producer Lee Hazelwood, and she introduced Frey to her friend John David Souther.
December 27, 2015 – Stevie Wright (The Easybeats) was born Stephen Carlton Wright on December 20, 1947 in Leeds, England. When he was 9, his family moved to Melbourne, Australia and four years later to Sydney where they lived in Villawood near the Villawood Migrant Hostel. He was lead vocalist for local band, The Outlaws, and by 1964 had formed Chris Langdon & the Langdells, which initially played The Shadows-styled surf music, but converted to beat music under the influence of The Beatles.
January 29, 2015 – Rod McKuen was born on April 29th, 1933 in Oakland, CA. He ran away from home at the age of 11 and drifted along the West Coast, supporting himself as a ranch hand, surveyor, railroad worker, rodeo cowboy, lumberjack, stuntman and radio disk jockey.
He went on to become one of the best-selling poets in the USA during the late 60s and throughout his career. He produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks and classical music. His songs include “Jean”, “Seasons in the Sun”, “The Loner”, and “I Think of You”.
He earned two Academy Award nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his music compositions. In the early 1960s, he moved to France, where he first met the Belgian singer-songwriter and chanson singer Jacques Brel. He was instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter to prominence in the English-speaking world.
January 18, 2015 – Dallas Taylor Jr. was born April 7th 1948 in Denver, Colorado, and grew up mostly in San Antonio and Phoenix. His father, a pilot who had flown in World War II, was later killed performing stunts in an air show. His parents had been divorced years earlier. It was his mother, the former Violet Cantu, who set him on his career path: When he was 10, she took him to see the movie “The Gene Krupa Story,” about the legendary drummer. She died of a heart attack when he was 13.
He dropped out of high school to become a musician and moved to Los Angeles, where he immersed himself in the rock subculture. In the pre-Woodstock 1960s, he played with John Sebastian, and he recorded an album with the short-lived psychedelic band Clear Light one of the better-remembered psychedelic one-shots of the ’60s. Clear Light recorded one album on Elektra before splitting up. Their California psychedelia was very much in the mold of fellow Elektra artists Love, Tim Buckley, and especially the Doors.
Jan. 13, 2014 – Freddie Fingers Lee was born Frederick John Cheesman in Chopwell, Durham, England in 1937. As a child an accident with a dart led to the loss of his right eye. Throughout his life he made light of his disability and refused to let it be a handicap. Though hardly a household name, Lee was a wild and notorious presence on the UK rock and roll scene from the early ’60s up to his death. Born in 1937, he lost his right eye at the age of three after an accident with a stray dart thrown by his father. According to the North Hampton Chronicle, Lee’s daughter remembers her father occasionally dropping his glass eye in people’s drinks while they weren’t looking. “He was the most unconventional dad ever, but I wouldn’t of had it any other way.”
March 16, 2013 – Bobby Smith was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 10, 1936. He became the principal lead singer of the classic Motown group, The Spinners at the group’s inception in 1954.
The group, first called The Domingoes, was formed at Ferndale High School, where Bobby took over from James Edwards who lasted only 2 weeks. The Spinners also known as the Detroit Spinners or the Motown Spinners, had their first hit, with Bobby singing lead, “That’s What Girls Are Made For” in 1961, (which has been inaccurately credited to the group’s mentor and former Moonglows lead singer, the late Harvey Fuqua).
Over the years, the group earned half a dozen Grammy award nominations and around a dozen gold records including “Truly Yours”, “I’ll Always Love You”,in 1965. “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)”. In 1974 they scored their only No.1 hit with “Then Came You”, (sung by Smith, in a collaboration with superstar Dionne Warwick).
Smith sang lead on most of the group’s Motown material during the 1960s, and almost all of the group’s pre-Motown material on Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records label, and also on The Spinners’ biggest Atlantic Records hits. These included “I’ll Be Around”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, “They Just Can’t Stop It the (Games People Play)”. In 1974, they scored their only #1 Pop hit with “Then Came You”
Despite the fact that Bobby Smith led on many of the group’s biggest hits, many have erroneously credited most of the group’s success to only one of its three lead singers, the late Philippé Wynne. (Henry Fambrough also sang lead on many of the Spinners’ songs.) The confusion between Smith and Wynne may be due to the similarities in their voices, and the fact that they frequently shared lead vocals on many of those hits.
In fact Wynne was many times inaccurately credited for songs that Smith actually sang lead on, such as by the group’s label, Atlantic Records, on their Anthology double album collection (an error corrected in the group’s later triple CD set, The Chrome Collection). Throughout a succession of lead singers (Wynne, John Edwards, G. C. Cameron etc.), Smith’s lead voice had always been The Spinners’ mainstay.
With the March 16, 2013 death of Bobby Smith at age 76, from pneumonia and influenza, as well as fellow Spinners members C. P. Spencer in 2004, Billy Henderson in 2007, and bass singer Pervis Jackson in 2008, Henry Fambrough is now the last remaining original member of the group. Fambrough may still be performing with a current day line-up of the Spinners.
January 16, 2013 – Nic Potterwas born on 18 October 1951 in Swindon, England.
He left school at 15, originally to train in carpentry. At 16, he joined a late lineup of The Misunderstood however and recorded on their 1969 LP Golden Glass. At the same time as drummer Guy Evans, he joined Van Der Graaf Generator, when they were on a brief hiatus.
When Van der Graaf decided to reform after the release The Aerosol Grey Machine. When earlier bassist Keith Ellis decided to join Juicy Lucy, Evans recommended that Potter join as his replacement.
He first appeared on the album “The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other”, also playing some electric guitar on a few tracks in addition to his usual bass. He left the band in 1970 during the recording of their next album, ‘H to He, Who Am The Only One’, on which he recorded 3 tracks.
May 20, 2012 – Robin Hugh Gibb (BeeGees) was born on 22 December 1949 in Douglas, Isle of Man, to Hugh and Barbara Gibb. He was the fraternal twin of Maurice Gibb and was the older of the two by 35 minutes. Apart from Maurice, he had one sister, Lesley Evans, and two brothers, Barry and Andy. They lived in utter poverty.
In 1953, the Gibbs watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the television. Their neighbour in Willaston, Isle of Man, Marie Beck who was the friend of his mother and her sister Peggy. Another neighbour, Helen Kenney was living in Douglas Head as Kenney recalls “Barry and the twins used to come into Mrs. Beck’s house and we would mind them, Robin once said to me, ‘We’re going to be rich one day, we’re going to form a band!’ “Little did I realise he meant it”.
His family moved to Manchester where at aged 8, Robin started out performing alongside his brothers as a child act encouraged by their father Hugh, a drummer and band leader. The Gibb brothers formed The Rattlesnakes which consisted of Barry on guitar and vocals, Robin and Maurice on vocals, Paul Frost on drums and Kenny Horrocks on tea-chest bass, and the quintet performed in local theatres in Manchester, their influences at that time such as The Everly Brothers, Cliff Richard and Paul Anka. In May 1958, the Rattlesnakes were disbanded as Frost and Horrocks left, and the name changed to Wee Johnny Hayes and the Blue Cats. In August 1958, the family traveled to Australia on the same ship as Australian musician Red Symons; it is rumored that the brothers began committing petty crimes such as arson, which may have been the reason the family moved to Australia.
While schoolboys in Manchester, Barry, the oldest Gibb brother, and his younger twins Maurice and Robin perfected the art of singing in close harmony. They first performed, aged nine and six, in the toilets of John Lewis, because that was where the best acoustics in town could be found. That shared bond as performers helped them escape from their handto-mouth existence; the family moved house every few weeks at one stage in order to stay ahead of the bailiffs.
Robin explained: “The real world was just too real and we didn’t want to be a part of normal life. We wanted to create a magic world for the three of us. The three of us were like one person, and we were doing what we needed to do: make music. It became an obsession.”
The brothers also developed a taste for truanting and getting into trouble. “Barry and Robin were pilfering right, left and centre from Woolies and getting away with it,” recalled Maurice in an interview before his death in 2003.
“One day, I was walking home and all the billboards in the main street in Chorlton were blazing away, firemen and policemen running around everywhere. That was Robin, the family arsonist. Another time he set the back of a shop on fire.” The family were advised about assisted passage to Australia by the neighbourhood policeman, who seems to have hinted that it was that or legal action. The three boys performed in their pyjamas every night on the deck of the ship which took them away.
Once in Australia, the brothers continued to perform and took the name Bee Gees, an abbreviation of brothers Gibb.
In 1963 their first single, “The Battle of The Blue and The Grey”, made the charts in Sydney and led to an appearance on a local TV station. In 1965 their single “The Spicks and Specks” gave them their first Australian No.1.
Dreaming of more than the Australian market, they returned to the UK in 1966 where they were auditioned by impresario Robert Stigwood, who got them a recording contract with Polydor, here they had their first major hit with “To Love Somebody”, co-written by Robin, followed by hits including “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”, “Massachusetts”, “Words” and “World”. But the lead vocals were credited to Barry, this eventually led to tension and in 1969, Robin left the group…
Once back in the UK in 1967, success came quickly; legendary music impresario Robert Stigwood took them on and they had their first hit in Britain with New York Mining Disaster. Robin was only 17, and fell in love with the first woman he met: Molly Hullis, Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s secretary. They were married within a year, and quickly had two children, Spencer and Melissa.
The BeeGees second single – To Love Somebody, co-written by Robin – became a pop standard and over the years was covered by hundreds of artists. The lead vocals on the record were taken by Barry. This led to considerable tension in the band, with Robin accusing Stigwood of favouring his brother as the lead vocalist. The band hung together for more chart successes, including Massachusetts and Words. But when his song Lamplight was relegated to the B-side of Barry’s First of May in 1969, Robin quit the group.
The pressure of fame was simply too much for vulnerable Robin, and his drug use became uncontrollable. “We used to go to America for a tour and I would stay up all night, collapse and then wake up in hospital suffering from exhaustion. I didn’t know what I was doing.” His parents had him made a ward of court because they were so concerned. He even quit the band – the first of many attempts to walk away from his brothers.
He had one hit single, Saved by the Bell, but was unable to follow it up and decided he was not cut out for a solo career. In 1970 the band reunited and achieved an immediate chart hit in the US with Lonely Days, which they followed up with How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? But it was clear that The Bee Gees’ brand of soulful ballads was no longer in fashion and there was a real danger they would fade into obscurity. Stigwood persuaded the brothers to switch their sound towards disco and their next single, Jive Talkin’, saw them make a chart comeback in both the US and UK.
His marriage was falling apart as the band became more famous, with Robin jetting around the world while Molly stayed at home with the children in Epsom, Surrey. A gulf opened up between the brothers, too. Maurice was a drinker, but Barry and Robin continued to share a taste for amphetamines. Each had their own manager, the arguments were frequent and Robin walked out several times.
At the summit of the band’s incredible success with the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever in 1977, (How Deep is Your Love, Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever, their most successful track), when the Bee Gees were at the height of their reincarnated fame as tight-trousered, bouffant-haired, nutmeg-tanned sex symbols, Molly told him their marriage was over.
“I loved my wife, but I was still very young and still attracted to other people,” he admitted. “I have a high sex drive and I was unfaithful. I’ve had quite a few physical encounters – probably more than 100. Some of them were disappointing. They were mostly a distraction, almost like notches on a belt. I didn’t have sex for love, just for fun.”
The separation was acrimonious, and Robin did not see the children for four years, although he got on better terms later. He recalls being unable to eat while the divorce dragged on. “I felt I was going to die from complete misery,” he said. Robin even ended up in prison in 1983 after the divorce judge found that he had breached an agreement by talking publicly about the marriage. Sentenced to two weeks in jail, he appealed and spent only a couple of hours inside.
Gibb continued writing songs for other artists, co-writing four of the tracks – among them hit song Woman in Love – on Barbra Streisand’s Guilty album with brother Barry. Robin also co-wrote material for Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick and Kenny Rogers.
At a low ebb in 1980, he was introduced to his second wife Dwina. Sharing a birthday and an interest in history, Robin says it was love at first sight, and once contended that he might have known her in a former life. The birth of their son Robin John a year after his divorce from Molly was not publicly revealed until the kid was nearly one.
Early in the marriage, his younger brother Andy sought sanctuary with Robin and Dwina at their Oxfordshire home. He was just 30, and running away from a failed marriage, failing career and the rumored chaotic after-effects of cocaine addiction. He died suddenly at Robin’s home from natural causes of an inflammation of the heart muscle, as it turned out later.
The Bee Gees however continued to record and perform and achieved some chart success, even though Barry had also been suffering from a number of health problems including arthritis, while in the early 1990s Maurice sought treatment for his alcoholism.
In 1997 they released the album Still Waters, which sold more than four million copies, and were presented with a Brit award for outstanding contribution to music.
In January 2003 tragedy struck again with the sudden death of Maurice at the age of 53. Following his death, Robin and Barry disbanded the group. Andy’s death had hit Robin hard, but a harder blow was the death of his twin Maurice, always the peacemaker and the extrovert in the group. Maurice died suddenly after his intestine burst. Robin was so grief-stricken that for months he couldn’t come to terms with his brother’s death. “I can’t accept that he’s dead,” he said later that year. “I just imagine he’s alive somewhere else. Pretend is the right word.”
Robin continued to tour and record and reunited with Barry in Miami in 2006 for a charity concert, prompting rumours of a possible reformation. In 2008 he was at the forefront of the campaign for a permanent memorial in London to the men of Bomber Command.
Two years later he sang the Bee Gees hit I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You with a group of soldiers in support of the Poppy Day appeal.
Also in 2008, Robin performed at the BBC’s Electric Proms, marking the 30th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever topping the UK charts.
But ill health dogged him. In 2010, he cancelled a series of shows due to severe stomach pains and went on to have emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, something his twin brother had died from.
In late 2011 it was announced that Robin had been diagnosed with liver cancer. His gaunt appearance prompted suggestions that he was close to death. However, he went into temporary remission and had been in recovery for several months. “I feel fantastic,” he told BBC Radio 2 in February. “I am very active and my sense of well-being is good.”
His final work was a collaboration with his son, RJ, on The Titanic Requiem, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the naval disaster.
Robin transitioned after contracting pneumonia while bravely battling against liver cancer on May 20, 2012.
From their early incarnation as pop troubadours to their dramatic reinvention as the kings of disco in the mid-1970s, The BeeGees notched up more than 200 million album sales worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Robin Gibb was a talented singer and songwriter whose best work came from his collaboration with his brothers.
“There are songs we wrote in 1968 that people are still singing,” he told one interviewer in 2008. “There’s very few artists with that kind of history.
August 12, 2009 – Les Paul( birth name Lester William Polfus) was born on June 9th 1915 in in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
By at least one account, Paul’s early musical ability wasn’t superb. “Your boy, Lester, will never learn music,” one teacher wrote his mother. But nobody could dissuade him from trying, and as a young boy he taught himself the harmonica, guitar and banjo.
By his teen years, Paul was playing in country bands around the Midwest. He also played live on St. Louis radio stations, calling himself the Rhubarb Red.
Coupled with Paul’s interest in playing instruments was a love for modifying them. At the age of nine he built his first crystal radio. At 10 he built a harmonica holder out of a coat hanger, and then later constructed his own amplified guitar. Continue reading Les Paul 8/2009
April 30, 2007 – Zola Taylor (The Platters) was born in Los Angeles, California on March 17th 1938. She became the only female member of The Platters from 1954 to 1962, when the group produced most of their popular singles such as “My Prayer”, “Twilight Time”, “Harbor Lights”, “To Each His Own”, “If I Didn’t Care” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”.
Zola Taylor was a member of The Platters until 1962, when she was replaced by singer Barbara Randolph.
December 25, 2006 – James Brown Jr. Nearly stillborn, then revived by an aunt in a country shack in the piney woods outside Barnwell, South Carolina, on May 3, 1933, Brown became somebody who was determined to be Somebody. James Brown rose from extreme poverty to become the ‘The Godfather of Soul‘.
His parents were 16-year-old Susie (1917–2003) and 22-year-old Joseph “Joe” Gardner Brown (1911–1993), extremely poor, living in a small wooden shack.
They later relocated to Augusta, Georgia, when Brown was four or five. Brown’s family first settled at one of his aunts’ brothels and later moved into a house shared with another aunt. Brown’s mother later left the family after a contentious marriage and moved to New York. Brown spent long stretches of time on his own, hanging out in the streets and hustling to get by. Still he managed to stay in school until sixth grade. Continue reading James Brown 12/2006
February 8, 2005- Keith Knudsen (Doobie Brothers) was born in Le Mars, Iowa on February 18th 1948. He began drumming while in high school. After short stints playing in a club band and the Blind Joe Mendlebaum Blues Band, he became the drummer for the organist-vocalist Lee Michaels.
In 1974 he was invited to join The Doobie Brothers, joining the band during the recording of the 1974 platinum album, ‘What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits‘, on which he made his debut. After the Doobies disbanded in ’82, he and fellow Doobie John McFee, who he had also formed a writing partnership with, founded the country rock band Southern Pacific. The group was successful in the country charts but disbanded in the early 1990s. By then the two men had formed a writing partnership and despite not rejoining the group at that time, co-wrote the song Time Is Here And Gone with Doobies’ percussionist Bobby LaKind, featured on the Doobies reunion album Cycles in 1989.
November 19, 2003 – Greg Ridley was born October 23, 1947 played bass with Spooky Tooth and Humble Pie. Born in Carlisle in 1947, Greg Ridley joined his first group in the early Sixties. He was Dino in a short-lived outfit called Dino and the Danubes before teaming up with his old schoolfriend Mike Harrison (on vocals and piano) in the Ramrods.
By 1965, the pair had joined the VIP’s, led by the guitarist Luther Grosvenor, and recorded three singles (“Wintertime” for CBS and “I Wanna Be Free” and “Straight Down to the Bottom” on the Island label). “In the early days, I thought if we made the bright lights of London from Carlisle, we’d made it,” Ridley would joke. The VIP’s became Art for a cover of the Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” retitled “What’s That Sound” and the 1967 album Supernatural Fairy Tales.
The following year, the American singer and organist Gary Wright joined the line-up, the band changed its name to Spooky Tooth and released the albums It’s All About a Roundabout and Spooky Two. However, Ridley was unhappy and jumped at the chance to assist Steve Marriott in his new venture alongside Peter Frampton.
March 27, 2002 – Dudley Moore was born on April 19th 1935. As an actor, musician, comedian and composer he first came to prominence as one of the four writer-performers in Beyond the Fringe in the early 1960s and became famous as half of the popular television double-act he formed with Peter Cook.
Dudley was bullied from an early age, and had an unhappy family life; seeking refuge from his problems he became a choirboy at the age of six and took up piano and violin. He rapidly developed into a talented pianist and organist and was playing the pipe organ at church weddings by the age of 14. He attended Dagenham County High School where he received musical tuition from a dedicated teacher, Peter Cork, who became a friend and confidant.
His musical talent won him an organ scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford. He soon became an accomplished jazz pianist and composer. He began working with such leading musicians as John Dankworth and Cleo Laine. In 1960, he left Dankworth’s band to work on Beyond the Fringe. During the 1960s he also formed the “Dudley Moore Trio”. His early recordings included “My Blue Heaven”, “Lysie Does It”, “Poova Nova”, “Take Your Time”, “Indiana”, “Sooz Blooz”, “Bauble, Bangles and Beads”, “Sad One for George” and “Autumn Leaves”.
October 19, 1997 – Glen Edward Buxton was born on November 10, 1947. He became an American guitarist for the original Alice Cooper band. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Buxton number 90 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Alice Cooper band.
Born in Akron, Ohio, Buxton moved to Phoenix, Arizona and in 1964, while attending Cortez High School, made his debut in a rock band called The Earwigs. It was composed of fellow high school students Dennis Dunaway and Vincent Furnier (Alice Cooper). They were popular, and changed their name to The Spiders in 1965 and later to The Nazz in 1967. In 1968, to avoid legal entanglements with the Todd Rundgren-led Nazz, Buxton’s band changed their name to Alice Cooper.
July 12, 1983 – Chris Wood (Traffic) was born June 24th 1944 in Birmingham, England, the son of Stephen, an engineer, and Muriel Gordon, a missionary’s daughter born and raised in China.
He had a sister, Stephanie Angela, 3 years younger than he. Chris showed an interest in music and painting from an early age. His father related, “He stood by the record player changing records since he was this tall“.
Self-taught on flute and saxophone, which he commenced playing at the age of 15, he began to play locally with other Birmingham musicians who would later find international fame in music: Christine Perfect (later Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac fame), Carl Palmer (ELP) , Stan Webb, and Mike Kellie(Spooky Tooth). Wood played with Perfect in 1964 in the band Shades of Blue and with Kellie during 1965-1966 in the band Locomotive.
March 16, 1975 – T-Bone Walker was bornAaron Thibeaux Walker on May 28, 1910 in Linden, Texas. American blues guitarist, pianist and singer/ songwriter.
In the early 1920s, as a teenager learned his craft amongst the street-strolling stringbands of Dallas. Walker’s parents were both musicians. His stepfather, Marco Washington, taught him to play the guitar, ukulele, banjo, violin, mandolin, and piano.
Walker left school at the age of 10, and by 15 he was a professional performer on the blues circuit. Initially, he was Blind Lemon Jefferson’s protégé and would guide him around town for his gigs and by 1929, Walker made his recording debut with Columbia Records billed as Oak Cliff T-Bone, releasing the single “Wichita Falls Blues”/”Trinity River Blues”. Continue reading T-Bone Walker 3/1975
February 7, 1959 – Guitar Slim was born Eddie Jones on December 10, 1926 in Greenwood, Mississippi. His mother died when he was five, and his grandmother raised him, as he spent his teen years in the cotton fields. He spent his free time at the local juke joints and started sitting in as a singer or dancer; he was good enough to be nicknamed “Limber Leg.”
After returning from World War II military service, he started playing clubs around New Orleans, Louisiana. Bandleader Willie D. Warren introduced him to the guitar, and he was particularly influenced by T-Bone Walker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. About 1950 he adopted the stage name ‘Guitar Slim’ and started becoming known for his wild stage act.
March 28, 1958 –WC Handy was born November 16, 1873 in Florence, Alabama.
He became widely known as the “Father of the Blues” and remains among the most influential of songwriters, blues singers, composer, pianist, cornet and trumpet player of the early blues rock scene.
Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a not very well-known regional music style to one of the dominant forces in American music.
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