Wilko Johnson (Dr. Feelgood) was born John Andrew Wilkinson on 12 July 1947 in Canvey Island, Essex, UK. One of his earliest memories was of the 1953 floods, which hit low-lying Canvey badly and caused many deaths. His father, a gas-fitter, was “a stupid and uneducated and violent person”, according to his son, and died when Wilko was a teenager. Canvey became a romantic place in Johnson’s mind, with its lonely views of the Thames estuary overshadowed by the towers and blazing fires of the nearby Shell Haven oil refinery. Johnson and his contemporaries dubbed the area the Thames Delta, in homage to the Mississippi Delta, which spawned the blues musicians they admired. He first began playing the guitar after watching the Shadows on television, then later was inspired by Mick Green, guitarist with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates. Green’s knack for mixing up lead and rhythm guitar parts had a clear influence on Johnson’s technique. Wilko instinctively began to play left-handed, but forced himself to switch to right-handed. When he found that playing right-handed meant he could not hold a plectrum, he perfected a way of flicking his fingernails across the strings, which helped him to play the speedy, slashing rhythms that became his stock-in-trade. Continue reading Wilko Johnson – 11/2022
October 4, 2017 – Alvin DeGuzman (The Icarus Line) was born in Manila in the Philippines on December 3, 1978.
When he was 4 years old the family moved to the US.He attended Holy Family School in South Pasadena and graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1997. He also attended Cal Poly Pomona.
Alvin was a talented musician and passionate artist. While in High School he became a founding member of the indie punk rock band The Icarus Line, where he played the guitar both left and right handed, and also played bass and keys. The Icarus Line was the successor to high school friend Joe Cardamone’s first musical effort named “Kanker Sores”. Continue reading Alvin DeGuzman 10/2017
September 9, 2014 – Robert ‘Throb’ Young (Primal Scream) was born in Glasgow, Scotland on November 19, 1964. Young met Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie when they were both studying at Kings Park Secondary School in Glasgow, and he joined the band in 1984.
Known as Throb to his bandmates and fans, this Scottish rock bassist and guitarist was most commonly known for performing both roles with the Glasgow-formed, Mercury Music Prize winning Primal Scream. A core member throughout their lengthy career, he joined when they were still unknowns in 1984 and departed for health reasons, after a lengthy and successful international career with the group in 2006.
March 15, 2014 – Scott Asheton (Iggy Pop & the Stooges) was born Scott Randolph Asheton on Aug. 16, 1949, in Washington DC. After the death of his father, Ronald, a Marine Corps pilot, his mother, Ann, moved the family to Ann Arbor, Michigan.
He co-formed the Stooges in 1967, originally the Psychedelic Stooges, along with his older brother Ron Asheton, Dave Alexander and Iggy Pop. The Stooges began as kind of amateur avant-gardists — “like jazz gone wild,” Iggy Pop once said. Scott Asheton’s homemade drum set, as his brother recalled it, included a 55-gallon oil drum, timbales and a snare, though no cymbals.
April 21, 2013 –Chrissy Amphlett was born on October 25, 1959. She grew up in Geelong, Australia as a singer and dancer and left home as a teenager to travel around England, France and Spain where she was imprisoned for three months for singing on the streets.
In 1976, Amphlett played the role of Linda Lips in the R-rated musical Let My People Come. In 1980 back in Australia, Amphlett met Mark McEntee at a concert at the Sydney Opera House in 1980 and they formed Divinyls with Jeremy Paul (Air Supply).
After several years performing in Sydney, they recorded several songs for the film Monkey Grip, in which Amphlett also acted. Amphlett made her film debut in Monkey Grip (1982) in a supporting role as the temperamental lead singer of a rock band. Monkey Grip’s author, Helen Garner, claimed that the film’s director preferred Amphlett in the role of Jane Clifton as “Clifton was neither good looking enough or a good enough singer to play herself.”
August 6, 2009 – Willy DeVille was born William Paul Borsey Jr. on August 25th 1950 in Stamford, Connecticut. The son of a carpenter, he grew up in the working-class Belltown district of Stamford.
DeVille said about Stamford, “It was post-industrial. Everybody worked in factories, you know. Not me. I wouldn’t have that. People from Stamford don’t get too far. That’s a place where you die.” DeVille said about his youthful musical tastes, “I still remember listening to groups like the Drifters. It was like magic, there was drama, and it would hypnotise me.”
February 4, 2009 – Lux Interior (The Cramps) was born Erick Lee Purchaser in Stowe, Ohio on October 21st 1946.
He met his wife Kristy Wallace, better known as Poison Ivy, a.k.a. Ivy Rorschach, in Sacramento in 1972, when he and a friend picked her up when she was hitchhiking. The two shared a love for surf rock, shamanism, rockabilly, B-movies and other bits of so-called “trash culture.”
Lux Interior’s name came “from an old car commercial”, having previously flirted with the names Vip Vop and Raven Beauty, while his wife’s name change was inspired by “a vision she received in a dream”.
September 15, 2004 – Johnny Ramone was born John William Cummings on October 8, 1948 and died of prostrate cancer at age 55. He was the rhythm guitarist, songwriter for the Ramones, a New York rock band that held Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status.
A rebel in a rebel’s world, Johnny was raised Queens, N.Y., where as a teenager, he played in a band called the Tangerine Puppets with future Ramones drummer Tamás Erdélyi aka Tommy Ramone. Influenced by the likes of the Stooges and MC5, in 1974 he co-founded “The Ramones”, often regarded as the first punk rock group, with Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone. They went on to perform 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. The Ramones were a major influence on the punk rock movement in the US and the UK, though they achieved only minor commercial success. Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania.
December 22, 2002 – Joe Strummer (The Clash)was born John Graham Mellor on August 21, 1952 in Ankara, Turkey. The son of a British diplomat, the family spent much time moving from place to place, and Strummer spent parts of his early childhood in Cairo Egypt, Mexico City, and Bonn Germany.
At the age of 9, Strummer and his older brother David, 10, began boarding at the City of London Freemen’s School in Surrey. Strummer rarely saw his parents during the next seven years.
“At the age of nine I had to say good-bye to them because they went abroad to Africa or something. I went to boarding school and only saw them once a year after that – the Government paid for me to see my parents once a year. I was left on my own, and went to this school where thick rich people sent their thick rich kids. Another perk of my father’s job – it was a job with a lot of perks – all the fees were paid by the Government.”
June 5, 2002 – Dee Dee Ramone (the Ramones) was born Douglas Glenn Colvin on September 18, 1951 in Fort Lee, Virginia. While an infant his family relocated to Berlin, Germany, due to his father’s military service. His father’s military career also required the family to relocate frequently. These frequent moves caused Dee Dee to have a lonely childhood with few real friends. His parents separated during his early teens, and he remained in Berlin until the age of 15, when he, along with his mother and sister Beverley, moved to the Forest Hills section of New York City, in order to escape Dee Dee’s alcoholic father.
Soon after he met John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi and together they formed The Ramones.
April 5, 2002 – Layne Staley (Alice n’ Chains) was born on August 22, 1967 in Kirkland, WA. Staley showed musical talent at an early age, and took up the drums at age 12. Staley approached music through his parents’ collection, listening to Black Sabbath (regarded by him as his first influence) and Deep Purple. But upon joining garage bands and discovering rock music as a teenager Staley switched his interest in drumming to singing.
In 1984, Staley joined a group of Shorewood High students in a band called Sleze, which also featured future members of The Dehumanizers and Second Coming. In 1986, as Sleze morphed into Alice N’ Chains, a band which Staley said “dressed in drag and played speed metal,” they performed around the Seattle area playing Slayer and Armored Saint covers.
April 15, 2001 – Joey Ramone was born Jeffry Ross Hyman on May 19th 1951 in Forest Hills, Queens, New York where he had a dysfunctional upbringing, but in 1974, he co-founded the punk rock band Ramones with friends John Cummings and Douglas Colvin.
All three adopted stage names using “Ramone” as their stage surname. Cummings became Johnny Ramone, and Colvin became Dee Dee Ramone, with Jeffry adopted the name Joey Ramone. The name Ramone stems from the fact that x-Beatle Paul McCartney used to check into hotels under the pseudonym “Paul Ramon” while touring.
Joey initially served as the group’s drummer and Dee Dee was the original vocalist. However, Dee Dee proved to be unsuited for the lead vocals so they switched positions. Even though The Ramones had enormous influence on the punk rock movement in the US, they achieved only minor commercial success, their only certified gold record was the compilation album Ramones Mania. In 1996, after a tour with the Lollapalooza music festival, the band played their final show and then disbanded.
March 27, 2000 – Ian Dury was born in London on May 12th 1942.
At the age of seven, he contracted polio during the 1949 polio epidemic. In 1964 he studied art at the Royal College of Art under British artist Peter Blake, and from 1967 he taught art at various colleges in the south of UK.
Ian formed the band Kilburn & the High Roads in November 1970, he was vocalist and lyricist, co-writing with pianist Russell Hardy. But Ian rose to fame later in the 1970s, during the Punk and New Wave era of rock music, as founder, frontman and lead singer of the British band Ian Dury and the Blockheads, who were amongst the most important groups of the New Wave era in the UK.
April 6, 1998 – Wendy Williams was born on May 28, 1949 in Webster, New York. She studied clarinet at the Community Music School program of the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and later was a clarinetist in her high school’s concert band. At the age of six, she appeared tap-dancing on the Howdy Doody show as a member of the “Peanut Gallery”.
She had her first run-in with the law at the age of 15, when she was arrested for sun bathing nude. Williams attended R. L. Thomas High School in Webster at least partway through the tenth grade, but left school before graduating. Her schoolmates and teachers recalled Williams as a “shy and pretty girl, an average student who played in the junior high band, paid attention to her hair and clothes, and who spoke so softly you had to lean toward her to hear her.
August 30, 1995 – Holmes Sterling Morrison (The Velvet underground) was born in East Meadow, Long Island on August 29th 1942. He had two brothers and three sisters. His parents divorced when he was young and his mother remarried. He first met future Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker during childhood, through her brother Jim, who attended Division Avenue High School in Levittown, New York with Morrison. Originally playing trumpet, Morrison switched to guitar after his trumpet teacher was drafted.
While studying English, he visited his childhood friend Jim Tucker at Syracuse University, he met Lou Reed, a friend of Tucker’s and a fellow English student. Before Reed graduated in 1964, they met again in New York City in 1963. By this time, Reed had met John Cale and was interested in starting a band, so when they encountered Morrison, he was invited to join.
Reed, Cale, Morrison and original percussionist Angus MacLise constituted the original line-up of the Velvet Underground, taking the name from Michael Leigh’s sadomasochistic novel of the same name. Reed sang and played guitar, Morrison played guitar, Cale played viola, bass and keyboards and MacLise was playing bongos, hand drums, tabla, tambourines and the cimbalom, but when the group were offered $75 (US$570 in 2017 dollars) for a gig at Summit High School in Summit, New Jersey, MacLise abruptly quit because he refused to play for a specified time or conform to the notion of when to start and stop playing and also viewed accepting money for art as a sell-out. With no time to audition a replacement drummer, the group turned to Maureen Tucker to replace him, initially for that one show, but she soon became a permanent member and her rhythms would be an integral part of the band’s music, despite the initial objections of Cale.
Morrison primarily played guitar on the band’s first two albums, although when Cale, the band’s nominal bassist, played viola or keyboards in the studio or on stage, Morrison often filled in on bass. Some songs (including “Heroin” and “Sister Ray”) had Reed and Morrison on their usual guitars while Cale played viola and Vox Continental organ respectively, with no bass guitar.
There were at least three songs where Cale played both piano and bass while Reed and Morrison played guitars and these were “I’m Waiting for the Man”, “Femme Fatale” and “White Light/White Heat” and two songs where Cale played both viola and bass with Reed and Morrison on guitars: “Here She Comes Now” and “The Black Angel’s Death Song”, the former of which saw Cale doubling on piano. Although Morrison was a proficient bassist (as exemplified by his performances on “Sunday Morning”, “Venus in Furs”, “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “Lady Godiva’s Operation”), he disliked playing the instrument.
After Cale left the group in 1968, Morrison usually exclusively played guitar; however, photographic evidence indicates that he continued to play bass onstage for certain songs if Doug Yule, Cale’s replacement, was occupied with organ. During the Cale era, there was no established “lead” or “rhythm” guitar hierarchy in the Velvet Underground; both Reed and Morrison traded roles regularly. From the third album on though, Morrison almost always took the role of lead guitarist as Reed concentrated more on his singing and rhythm playing. Additionally, Morrison frequently sang backing vocals and the occasional lead vocal spot (he recited many verses of Reed’s poetry in “The Murder Mystery” and sang one line in “I’m Sticking With You”).
Morrison repeatedly remarked that “Venus in Furs,” from the band’s debut album, was his personal favorite of all of The Velvet Underground’s songs, as he felt that the group had achieved with that one track, to a greater degree than any other, the sound the band had in mind.
– Although Reed was the main writer, there has been some conjecture that both Morrison and Cale made more songwriting contributions than is specified in the credits as Morrison later told Victor Bockris, “Lou really did want to have a whole lot of credit for the songs, so on nearly all of the albums we gave it to him. It kept him happy. He got the rights to all the songs on Loaded, so now he’s credited for being the absolute and singular genius of the Underground, which is not true. There are a lot of songs I should have co-authorship on, and the same holds true for John Cale. The publishing company was called Three Prong because there were three of us involved. I’m the last person to deny Lou’s immense contribution and he’s the best songwriter of the three of us. But he wanted all the credit, he wanted it more than we did, and he got it, to keep the peace.” Nevertheless, Morrison got co-writing credits on “European Son”, “Here She Comes Now”, “The Gift”, “Sister Ray”, “Chelsea Girls”, “Hey Mr. Rain”, “Ride into the Sun”, “Foggy Notion”, “Ferryboat Bill”, “I’m Gonna Move Right In”, “Coney Island Steeplechase” and “Guess I’m Falling in Love” and he also co-wrote the title track with Reed to Nico’s debut solo album.-
In 1970, when the band was back in New York City to play an entire summer’s engagement at Max’s Kansas City, Morrison seized the opportunity to complete his English undergraduate degree at the City College of New York; along with Tucker, he remained in the Velvet Underground as lead guitarist after Reed left the band in acrimonious circumstances in August 1970. About a month after Lou Reed left the band in August 1970, he tried to convince Morrison to start a new band together, but Morrison turned him down, still angry at Reed for various reasons, and not confident that a new band could immediately attain the stature of the one Reed had just left.
Morrison did continue with the Reed-less Velvets for a while, touring and even doing a couple of unreleased recordings with them for Atlantic in late 1970. However, he left in 1971, teaching English at the University of Texas at Austin, and then working as a tugboat captain.In 1971, however, he began graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he would earn a PhD in medieval literature (with a dissertation on the four signed poems of Cynewulf) in 1986. Morrison’s last performance with the band was on August 21, 1971 at Liberty Hall (Houston, Texas). When it was time for the band to return to New York, Morrison packed an empty suitcase and accompanied them to the gate of their departing plane, before finally telling them he was staying in Texas and leaving the band, the last founding member to quit.
Morrison then began to work on Houston tugboats as a deckhand to supplement his income in the mid-70s; when he was forced to relinquish his teaching assistantship some years later, he was licensed as a master mariner and became the captain of a Houston tugboat, a vocation he pursued throughout the 1980s.
After leaving the Velvet Underground, Morrison’s musical career was primarily limited to informal sessions for personal enjoyment, though he played in a few bands around Austin, Texas, most notably the Bizarros. Morrison’s tenure in the capital of Texas made him a well-loved and admired member of the local music community as well as an influential voice. During John Cale’s renaissance in the late 1970s, Morrison occasionally sat in with his former bandmate on stages such as the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin. From the mid-1980s on, however, he occasionally recorded or performed with Reed, Cale, and Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker, who had by then started a solo career. Morrison was part of her touring band for most of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1992, the core Velvet Underground line-up of Reed, Cale, Morrison and Tucker decided to reform for a tour and possible album. Morrison argued that Doug Yule, who had replaced Cale in 1968, should be included to fill out the sound, but Reed and Cale vetoed him. The band extensively toured Europe in 1993, alternatively as headline act or supporting U2. Morrison’s playing held up well, and his performances were generally agreed to be top-notch. But by the end of the tour, relationships had soured again and plans for a US tour and MTV Unplugged album were scrapped. He also collaborated with John Cale on the score for the film “Antarctica” and was a guest on rock recordings like Luna’s “Bewitched.”
The European tour turned out to be the last for the Velvet Underground. Morrison joined Maureen Tucker’s band for a tour in 1994, and later that year was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Early in 1995 he was a featured performer with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, but sadly he passed away on August 30, 1995, one day after his 53rd birthday.
Upon their induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, Reed, Cale and Tucker performed a song entitled “Last Night I Said Goodbye to My Friend,” which was dedicated to Morrison.
December 22, 1985 – Dennes Boon or “D” Boon (Minutemen) was born on April 1, 1958 in San Pedro, California and was best known as the guitarist and vocalist of the American punk rock trio Minutemen. In 1985 he was killed in a traffic crash at the age of 27.
His father, a navy veteran, worked installing radios in Buick cars, and the Boons lived in former World War II barracks that had been converted into public housing. As a teenager, Boon began painting and signed his works “D. Boon”, partly because “D” was his slang for cannabis, partly after Daniel Boone, but mostly because it was similar to E. Bloom, Blue Öyster Cult’s vocalist and guitarist. Continue reading Dennes Boon 12/1985