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.”
November 3, 2018 –Glenn Schwartz (the James Gang) was born on March 20, 1940 in Cleveland Ohio. While in Los Angeles on tour with the James Gang in 1967, Schwartz strolled onto the infamous Sunset Strip and stopped next to a small group of people listening to street preacher Arthur Blessitt, according to Stevenson’s book. Some time later he professed conversion to Christianity, saying “I was finally blessed by mercy for I heard the Gospel of Christ.”
Following his conversion, his zealous, new-found faith was not accepted well by the band, his family or his friends. As per Stevenson, Schwartz said: “I had some Christian friends who had some round stickers that read ‘Real Peace Is In Jesus’ and we stuck those all over our clothes … We put some on Janis Joplin but she didn’t like it and took them off. I remember she got pretty upset. Continue reading Glenn Schwartz 11/2018
November 30, 2017 – Zé Pedro (Xutos & Pontapés) was born José Amaro dos Santos Reis on September 14, 1956 in Lisbon Portugal.
Times were difficult as Portugal suffered under a right wing dictatorship and personal freedom was of no consequence. Dictator Salazar is firmly in power and crushes anything that does not fit his agenda without mercy: including the arrival of rock and roll. Using his heavy handed censorship and ubiquitous secret police to quell any type of opposition, life in Portugal was a far cry from today’s laid back holiday atmosphere.
October 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.
September 12, 2017 – Jessi Zazu (Those Darlins) was born Jessi Zazu Wariner in Nashville Tennessee in 1989.
When Jessi Zazu was just a little girl, her mother Kathy says, she would wrap her fingers around the neck of a guitar and strain to play. She would not give up. Though she was the tiniest creature in her remarkable family of drawers, painters, players and all-around makers, Jessi knew she was destined to make a sound that was bigger than all of them. F*** the laws of physics. She was going to play that guitar like ringing a bell. The indie rock band that she fronted from 2006 to 2016 called Those Darlins, was hugely popular for its unique style that mixed genres like garage rock and punk with bluegrass and country. Continue reading Jessi Zazu 9/2017
June 25, 2017 – Jimmy Nalls (Sea Level) was born James Albert Nalls III on May 31, 1951 in Washington DC. In 1970, he moved from the suburbs of his home in Arlington, Virginia, to New York City to play with Australian folk singer Gary Shearston and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. Jimmy Nalls quickly became an in-demand session guitarist at New York’s famed Record Plant studio, and played with several musicians and bands with ties to then up-and-coming Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia, such as singer/songwriter Alex Taylor’s band while Taylor was a Capricorn Records label mate of the Allmans’.
It was during this period that Nalls first worked with future Allmans keyboardist Chuck Leavell, an association that would prove fruitful for both musicians after the Allmans’ 1976 split.
May 13, 2017 – Jimmy Copley was born in London on December 29, 1953.
Jimmy started playing drums at the age of 5 years old, accompanying his Mother’s (Nina) Jazz piano at parties. Jimmy turned professional joining the band ‘Spreadeagle’ who had just signed to Charisma Records and performed live, opening for various headlining acts such as ‘Genesis’, ‘Lindisfarne’ and ‘Audience’. Jim recorded the Spreadeagle album ‘The Piece of Paper, produced by Kinks and Who producer: Shel Talmy. Continue reading Jimmy Copley 5/2017
April 12, 2017 – Barry “Frosty” Smith (Soulhat/Sweathog) was born Barry Eugene Smith on March 20, 1946 in Bellingham, Washington.
Smith was raised in the California Bay Area, where he proved a tap dancing prodigy. He was a professional tap dancer from age 3 to 12. Obviously rhythm was part of him. He received schooling in classical piano before taking to the drum kit, due to their natural feel. After playing in dive clubs and strip bars in the San Francisco – San José area, he moved to Los Angeles in the early 70s where he got his first big break, as drummer for organist Lee Michaels with whom he toured nationally and internationally. Continue reading Barry “Frosty” Smith 4/2017
February 4, 2017 – Steve Lang, (April Wine) was born Stephen Keith Lang in Montreal, Quebec on March 24, 1949. The band that gave him fame as a musician, was formed in late 1969 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The original members, the three brothers Henman with friend vocalist/guitarist Myles Goodwyn soon moved the band to Montreal to gain more exposure. They scored their first hit with “Fast Train” followed by a self-titled debut album. The next year brought the band’s first Canadian number one single, “You Could Have Been a Lady,” which had been a hit in Europe for the band “Hot Chocolate”.
Brothers David and Ritchie Henman left the band they had founded before the next album, Electric Jewels, could be recorded; they were replaced by Jerry Mercer and Gary Moffet. After April Wine Live (1974) and Stand Back (1975), Steve Lang came in to replace Jim Clench, who left to join Bachman-Turner Overdrive and later Loverboy and in turn had replaced the third Henman brother a couple of years earlier.Continue reading Steve Lang 2/2017
January 25, 2017 – Tom Edwards (Adam’s Ants) was born on February 21, 1975 in Ipswich, England. Little is officially known about his early days, except that he grew up in a normal family and his dad “Bib” had musical talents. From what I could find, Tom must have chosen the path of music rather early on in his life. He grew up in Bildeston and went to Great Cornard Upper School where he fostered a love of music that would go on to become his livelihood.
And reflecting on what I learned via Google, Facebook and several more websites, I learned that Tom was a more than adequate guitar player, who shared his talents easily and with many. His life was music from the occult to straight forward classic rock. He made a living in the performance of music and it took him around the globe with various bands and outfits such as Adam Ant, Roddy Frame, Fields of the Nephilim, Rebelles, Edwyn Collins, Andrea Corrs, Arno Castens and Spiderbites, as well as his brother Dickon’s band Fosca. Continue reading Tom Edwards 1/2017
January 23, 2017 – Bobby Freeman was born on June 13, 1940 in Alameda County and raised in San Francisco.
By his early teens Bobby was not only literally singing on street corners in the city’s Fillmore District but also spending every hour not in school dancing at the Booker T Washington community centre. He got his first taste of the record business as a tenor with a local vocal group led by Alvin Thomas; the Romancers, who made two singles for Dootsie Williams’ Dootone label in 1955. The group cut a further single for the local Bay Tone label (on which Freeman does not appear) before splintering, while Bobby formed another team, the Vocaleers. Having learned piano from Thomas, Freeman also began to write his own material in the mould of Little Richard and Fats Domino.
Itinerant deejay Jim “Specs”Hawthorne caught the group at a football rally at Mission High School in early 1958 and called for an audition at Sound Recorders. The rest of the Vocaleers weren’t interested, and so it was just Freeman and a bongo-playing pal who showed up at Sound Recorders in San Francisco. “Hawthorne asked, do you have any original songs, and I said yeah,” Bobby recounted to me in 2000. “He said OK, when I do this [points], start doing the material. There were some other songs, ‘Follow The Rainbow’, ‘Responsible’, and then we got into ‘Do You Wanna Dance’. Where the break is, the song was over. But Hawthorne wanted to get his money’s worth with whatever he was being charged, so he told me, do some more. That’s why the song starts up again – it wasn’t designed that way. But now, they call that a hook.”Continue reading Bobby Freeman 1/2017
January 22, 2017 – Peter Overend Watts was born in the Yardley neighborhood of Birmingham, England on 13 May, 1947.
Watts began playing the guitar at the age of 13 and by 1965, he had switched to bass guitar and became a professional musician. Watts attended Ross Grammar School in 1963 and met his lifelong friend Dale Griffin aka Buffin and they played in local bands together such as The Anchors, Wild Dogs Hellhounds and The Silence when they met a rival band The Buddies who had Mick Ralphs and Stan Tippins as members and they collectively formed The Doc Thomas Group. Changes to that line-up occurred in 1968 and keyboard player Verden Allen joined and they changed their name to The Shakedown Sound.
In 1969 they all moved to London and came to the attention of record producer Guy Stevens who auditioned Ian Hunter and appointed him as their lead singer instead of Tippins and Mott The Hoople was formed. Watts was instrumental in getting David Bowie to write a song for the band and initially was offered the song “Suffragette City” which he turned down before David wrote especially for the band their now anthem “All The Young Dudes”. Mott The Hoople quickly built up a fearsome reputation as a dynamic live attraction playing gloriously ragged rock’n’roll and much of the group’s raw energy emanated from the bands propulsive engine room: the thunderous rhythm section of Overend and Dale. Visually the band also stood out and it was hard not to notice Watts in his thigh high platform boots, silver hair with a custom made bass guitar in the shape of a swallow!Continue reading Peter Overend Watts 1/2017
January 18, 2017 – Mike Kellie – (Spooky Tooth, the Only Ones) was born on March 24, 1947 in Birmingham, England into a family with no musical background or inclination.. As a child, he showed an early interest in rhythm, practicing on a coal shuttle with hearth brushes to simulate a snare drum. In his teen years, he joined St. Michaels Youth Club band as a drummer. He later played at “The Track” at Tudor Grange Sports Centre in Solihull. On the basis of this work, he was invited by Brian “Monk” Ffinch to play with Wayne and the Beachcombers in Birmingham, which started his career as a professional musician.
In 1966, Kellie played in Birmingham in a band called the Locomotive with Chris Wood of Traffic, and later with the V.I.P.’s (later Art) in Carlisle.
Steve Winwood was ready to leave The Spencer Davis Group and I was in a band in Birmingham called The Locomotive with Chris Wood on tenor sax & flute. Chris, Steve & Jim Capaldi were forming Traffic at that time, around the latter part of 1966. The other band that Chris Blackwell, who managed the Spencer Davis Group, had was the VIP’s from Carlisle. They were a great rhythm and blues band and had come down to make it in London having conquered the North. Their drummer, Walter Johnson, missed his family and went back to Carlisle. Hence, in the office one day Steve suggested someone call me. I had a day job in a wood yard in Olton. I got a phone call from friend Paul Medcalf who said …“Steve wants to know if you’re interested in joining this band…” So I was off, next day, straight from New Street Station, with my drums, to Paddington. Met by VIP’s road manager, the legendary Albert Heaton I was driven to 155, Oxford Street where I met Mike Harrison and Greg Ridley. I met the rest of the band later that evening. The next day I was in Paris playing at Olympia with the VIP’s without any rehearsal!! We were bottom of the bill, Chris Blackwell had done this deal for the band to open a star studded variety fundraiser in aid of UNICEF. It was held at Paris Olympia & was televised worldwide, similar to the way ‘All You Need Is Love’ was done. The VIP’s had a single out in France on Fontana and we were over to promote it, a Joe Tex song called ‘I Wanna Be Free’. So I had no real rehearsal, just the journey over in the van. We did the TV show after I had phoned my mother from a Post Office in Paris earlier that day and said ‘Mum, look in the Radio Times, I think we’re on a TV thing tonight.’ The record became a big hit in France following that show.
Manager Chris Blackwell found a singer and organist from the New York Tymes band named Gary Wright, added him to the line-up of Art and launched the band Spooky Tooth with Kellie, Greg Ridley, Jimmy Henshaw, Keith Emerson, Luther Grosvenor and vocalist extraordinaire Mike Harrison.*
With Blackwell being more focused on his fledgling Island Records, and in spite of the band’s wide acceptance in America and the European mainland, Spooky Toothe declined quickly in the early 70s and Kellie joined French Elvis Johnny Hallyday‘s band for a summer tour of France in 1974, before forming The Only Ones in 1976 with Peter Perrett, Alan Mair and John Perry.
The Only Ones, possibly best known for the single “Another Girl, Another Planet”, recorded three albums for CBS, although over time, their catalogue has contained many compilations and other releases, which now outnumber their studio albums.
In February 1978, Johnny Thunders moved to London with his family, and began playing with a loose revue dubbed the Living Dead. Kellie became part of this floating line-up (that also included Perrett along with various Sex Pistols including Steve Jones and Paul Cook) and recorded Thunders’ So Alone album together with his signature song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”.
Following the Only Ones’ farewell in 1981 at London’s Lyceum, Kellie moved to the countryside north of Toronto, Canada, where he spent four years away from performing. He used this time to learn the piano and write songs.
Returning to Britain in 1985, Kellie spent several years hill farming in North Wales and Scotland where he became a shepherd. In 1999 Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison, Luther Grosvenor and Greg Ridley under the Spooky Tooth moniker. Together they released the Cross Purpose album.
In 2004, Kellie reunited with Mike Harrison and Gary Wright to play dates in Germany as another new incarnation of Spooky Tooth. The band later released the DVD Nomad Poets with live performances from Worpswede and Hamburg, Germany.
In 2007, the Only Ones reformed, touring the UK, Europe and Japan as well as performing on BBC TV’s Later… with Jools Holland.
In 2010, with the Only Ones undergoing another sabbatical, Kellie began recording his own collection of music which become his first solo album. Entitled Music from The Hidden, the album was produced by Kellie who also played drums, organ, bass and acoustic guitars, percussion and sang lead vocals. There are also contributions from Gordon Jackson (acoustic guitar), Finley Barker and Tony Kelsey (guitars), Steve Winwood (organ, mandolin and bass), Bill Hunt, Levi French and Tony Ariss (pianos), Rob Harrison (bass), Steve Gibbons (backing vocals) and Greg Platt Lake (guitar and vocals). The album was released in 2014.
Kellie was prominent among the musicians featured on the six-CD Jess Roden Anthology, presented by Hidden Masters. He contributed to the 2011 sessions for the Distractions re-union album, The End of the Pier, which was released on Occultation Records in 2012.
In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Kellie was besides a member of the rock bands the V.I.P.s, Spooky Tooth and the Only Ones, also a prolific session musician and worked with the Who on the film soundtrack of Tommy, Joe Cocker, Traffic, George Harrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees’s Maurice Gibb, Gary Wright, Johnny Thunders, Luther Grosvenor, Neil Innes, Steve Gibbons, Chris Jagger, Nanette Workman, Sean Tyla, Jim Capaldi, Pat Travers and Andy Fraser.
Mike Kellie died on 18 January 2017 following a short illness at the age of 69.
January 16, 2017 – Steve Wright (Greg Kihn Band) was born in El Cerrito California in 1950.
Wright had played in a band called Traumatic Experience with El Cerrito residents John Cuniberti and Jimmy Thorsen.
After changing their name to Hades Blues Works (later, Hades) they expanded into a quartet with Craig Ferreira in 1970
In 1975 Greg Kihn had already signed to Berserkley Records and had a song included on the album Beserkley Chartbusters before entering the studio to record the debut album with a new band consisting of Wright, Robbie Dunbar and Larry Lynch – the Greg Kihn Band.
January 6, 2017 – Johnny Dick. (played with numerous Australian rock bands). Johnny Dick was actually born in June 1943 in Wales in the town of Llanfairfechan, but as stated repeatedly, before he grew old enough to be able to pronounce the town’s name, his parents moved to New Zealand.
Drumming since the age of 12 Johnny Dick has played with the cream of Aussie music. In New Zealand Johnny met Max Merritt. He first came to Australia as a member of Max Merritt’s band. Billy Thorpe saw Johnny performing with Merritt and offered him a gig in The Aztecs, which he took and played drums with Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs for almost 2 years.Continue reading Johnny Dick 1/2017
December 24, 2016 – RickParfitt (Status Quo) was born in Woking, Surrey on 12 October 1948. His father was an insurance salesman “who was a drinker and a gambler” and his mother worked in cake shops. He described his upbringing as “wonderful”, and has described his childhood self as a “typical naughty boy”.
Parfitt first started to learn to play the guitar at the age of 11. He began playing a guitar when he was 11. In 1963 Parfitt was playing guitar and singing in The Feathers, a pub on Goodge Street in Camden, London, when his father was approached by an agent from Sunshine Holiday Camp on Hayling Island, who gave Parfitt a performing job. At the camp Parfitt joined Jean and Gloria Harrison, performing at the time as the double act The Harrison Twins, to form a cabaret trio called The Highlights.
August 20, 2016 – Matt Roberts (Three Doors Down) was born in rural Mississippi in 1978 – Roberts grew up with lead singer Brad Arnold (vocalist/drummer) and bassist Todd Harrell in Escatawpa, Mississippi, where they formed 3 Doors Down in 1994. He became a seasoned guitarist and back-up vocalist for the group,
The founding members of 3 Doors Down were raised in Escatawpa, a cozy town of 8,000 people in rural Mississippi. Although brought up in religious households, the musicians also felt the call of rock & roll at an early age, eventually forming a rock trio in 1994 to play a friend’s backyard party.
2015 – Lemmy Kilmister was born Ian Fraser Kilmister on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1945 in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. When Lemmy was three months old, his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain, separated from his mother. His mother and grandmother moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, then to Madeley. When Lemmy was 10, his mother married former footballer George Willis, who already had two older children from a previous marriage, Patricia and Tony, with whom Lemmy did not get along.
The family moved to a farm in Benllech on Anglesey, with Lemmy later commenting on his time there, that “funnily enough, being the only English kid among 700 Welsh ones didn’t make for the happiest time, but it was interesting from an anthropological point of view.”
Gary 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.
March 11, 2015 – Jimmy Greenspoon aka Maestro was born on February 7, 1948 in Los Angeles and raised in Beverly Hills. He was taught the piano at aged 7 by his mother, the silent screen star, Mary O’Brien. While a senior at school he formed a surf group The New Dimensions, in 1963, before attending the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to studiy piano. Jimmy worked on the Sunset Strip in the 1960s with the groups Sound of the Seventh Son and The East Side Kids. His bands held residence at The Trip, Stratford on Sunset later The House Of Blues, Brave New World, Bidos Litos, Ciros, and The Whiskey.
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.
December 3 – 2014 – Ian Patrick ‘Mac’ McLagan (keyboards for the Small Faces)was born on May 12th 1945 in Hounslow, Middlesex, England.
His first professional group was with the Muleskinners, followed by the Boz People with Boz Burrell. Then in 1965, Manager Don Arden hired him for the sum of £30 a week, to join The Small Faces, (the £30 dropped to £20 after his probation period, like the other members received!).
His debut gig with them was at London’s Lyceum Theatre on November 2nd that same year and he can be heard on all of their hits including “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”, “Itchycoo Park”, “Lazy Sunday”, “All or Nothing”, and “Tin Soldier”.
In 1969, after Steve Marriott left the group and Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined, the band changed its name to Faces. He stayed with the Faces until they split in 1975, after which he worked as a sideman for the Rolling Stones, both in the studio and on tour as well as on various Ronnie Wood projects, including the New Barbarians.
December 3, 2014 – Bobby Keys was the epitome of the rock & roll sax-playing man. Robert Henry Keys was born at Lubbock army airfield in Hurlwood, Texas on December 18th 1943. In 1946 his parents moved to New Mexico for a job, while young Bobby stayed with his grandfather in Texas. He took up the saxophone in High School after being injured while playing baseball and it was the only instrument left unclaimed in the school band. His amazing talent did the rest.
Soon after he met Jerry Allison, a local drummer who was working with Buddy Holly in near by Lubbock. Bobby convinced his grandfather to sign his guardianship to the drummer and he joined Jerry’s band, the Crickets and he was then playing behind Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox and other local rockers. By the age of 15, he was touring with pop singer Bobby Vee on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars, alongside such artists as Little Eva and Major Lance. It was while he was playing with Vee when he first met the Rolling Stones at the San Antonio state fair in Texas.
August 31, 2014 – Jimi Jamison (Survivor) was born in rural Durant, Mississippi, but moved with his mother to Memphis, Tennessee, the day after his birth.
In his teens, he taught himself to play the guitar and piano while honing his vocal abilities. By middle school (Messick Jr. High, Memphis), he was playing in a band called The Debuts, who recorded what became a local hit song (“If I Cry” (1968) on the Scudder label. He also was part of the band D-Beaver, who released one album (Combinations, 1971).
By late 1970, Jamison was fronting the local Memphis band, Target. Jamison and the group released a pair of albums, Target (1976) and Captured (1977), on A&M Records, plus a live concert at the High Cotton school (which marked the beginning of a contract with the record company) and opened concerts for Black Sabbath, Boston, and KISS.
August 1, 2014 – Rod de’Ath was born Roderick Morris Buckenham “Rod” de’Ath on June 18, 1950 in Saundersfoot, Wales. He played drums and piano from very early on in his life and won some drum awards in his teenage years. His last name, although awkwardly spelling “death”, was in reality a hint to his Belgian ancestry where the forefathers had lived in a town called Ath.
He was playing with the band Killing Floor when, at short notice, he was offered the job as a temporary substitute for Rory Gallagher’s drummer Wilgar Campbell for a leg of a European tour (Germany/Austria) in 1972. When Campbell left permanently, de’Ath was asked to join full-time. He stayed with Gallagher, performing on several albums, until 1978 when he and keyboard player Lou Martin left the band. Gallagher’s bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy stated that de’Ath “was the most undrummer-like drummer I ever played with. His technique was so strange that it added a whole new dimension to Rory’s sound.”
I was sharing a house together with Gerry McAvoy at the time and when Wilgar couldn’t play at a few concerts in Bavaria, Germany, I think it was, or Austria, Gerry recommended me to Rory and I replaced Wilgar for a leg of Rory’s European tour Autumn 1972 and I think Rory was quite content with my playing. It was some months later. when early in the morning, I got a phone call from Rory’s agency whether I would join Rory’s band and come over to Cork that day and play there. I was still with Killing Floor at the time and we had just finished our third album and it was a difficult decision, but my wife said that an occasion like this would only come up once in my life, so I agreed. I took a plane to Cork and was picked up there at the airport (by Mrs. Gallagher, who drove him to Rory and the rest of the band). From then on I was with Rory and I have not regretted one moment. I was treated and paid well and toured all over the world, and Rory played a lot of concerts and topped many bills at festivals, and I even was voted in the polls drums section.-
After leaving Gallagher’s band, he joined Ramrod and then he played with the Downliners Sect before moving to New York in the early 1980s. In the mid-1980s, he returned to the UK to produce an album for a band called Road Erect. Around this time, he suffered a serious accident while running to catch a train, which led to the loss of one eye and some brain damage. He was in coma for a while and many thought he had passed away. When he showed up at Rory Gallagher’s Memorial service in 1996, many thought they were seeing a ghost.
What had happened to de’Ath in the mysterious years in between is plainly put together in the following interview with Jakob Mulder on www.roryon.com
Jakob: It’s good to see you. How are you?
Rod: Fine, thanks. I hope you’re okay too
Jakob: I’m glad you could make it and are willing I to do this interview for the fan club magazine. I would have talked with you last November had I been sure it was you, but then again I don’t believe in ghosts and mistook you for someone who looked like you rather than it was you, but I’m sure we now can make up for that moment. I was really surprised to find out you are still among us.
Rod: So were many others present. Some of them were really shaking on their feet when they recognized me or when I walked over to them. It was a very special, emotional day for most of us, I’d say.
Jakob: It sure was! How did you find out about this memorial service being held?
Rod: Well. I read about it in the papers and decided to go.
Jakob: You also heard about Rory’s death?
Rod: I did, but I thought it would be macabre going to Rory’s funeral when everyone believed I was dead. It would be out of place showing up then when Rory was actually being buried. That’s why I decided to wait for a more suitable moment and November 8 was the right moment.
Jakob: You must have amazed many people at the time? Did you speak to Lou, Donal, Mrs. Gallagher and Tom?
Rod: Yes, I met them all and it sure was a strange sensation for them, as well as it was for me.
Jakob: Most fans always refer to the line-up with you and Lou as the best Rory ever had.
Rod: To be honest, so do I.
Jakob: Could you tell me how you teamed up with Rory? Did Rory see you play with Killing Floor (the band Rod & Lou were in before they joined Rory in 1972)?
Rod: I don’t think he had seen us play, he might have heard our music though. I was sharing a house together with Gerry McAvoy at the time and when Wilgar couldn’t play at a few concerts in Bavaria, Germany, I think it was, or Austria, Gerry recommended me to Rory and I replaced Wilgar for a leg of Rory’s European tour Autumn 1972 and I think Rory was quite content with my playing. It was some months later. when early in the morning, I got a phone call from Rory’s agency whether I would join Rory’s band and come over to Cork that day and play there. I was still with Killing Floor at the time and we had just finished our third album and it was a difficult decision, but my wife said that an occasion like this would only come up once in my life, so I agreed. I took a plane to Cork and was picked up there at the airport (by Mrs. Gallagher, who drove him to Rory and the rest of the band). From then on I was with Rory and I have not regretted one moment. I was treated and paid well and toured all over the world, and Rory played a lot of concerts and topped many bills at festivals, and I even was voted in the polls drums section.
Jakob: You played the USA a couple of times with Rory. When do you think the time Rory had the best chance of really breaking through on a large scale?
Rod: In 1973, 1974 I’d say. I think we supported Deep Purple or Fleetwood Mac at the time and it turned out that many people showed up for us, rather than the headline act. People were shouting for songs like Tattoo’d Lady, A Million Miles Away, In Your Town. Although Rory had never released singles at the time, which I always regretted as some of them were really fit for it. I really sensed we would make it big over there. It was all still on a small scale, the 4 of us, Donal driving and setting up the stage and doing the sound with a few local roadies. It was only later during the tour when Tom showed up, because Donal had to do so much at the time, and Rory was not too keen about that idea first, but later on they became best friends.
Jakob: Playing such long tours, I think Rory did the longest tour ever at the time, must have been exhausting considering how long the concerts were?
Rod: Yes, but all the time I just did it, although it surprises me how I was able do it considering the hard life, booze and drugs I used and tried out the time. I nearly was sent back at the customs, because of the drugs I carried with me. I lived a wild life off stage at the time and I remember we were doing a festival in Europe once, it was a whole week-end when Keith Moon of the Who, me and another drummer of a very big band were having a wild party that ran a bit out of hand. I don’t recall where it was, probably in Belgium or France (maybe VARA’s Popgala March 1973. Holland? J.M.). I even once ruined a hotel room after too much booze and drugs, was nearly evicted of the hotel we were staying in, but Donal saved the whole situation by explaining how important it was for me to stay there because we had to finish the tour.
Jakob: Who would have expected that of a seemingly quiet man of a band with a good reputation of character?
Rod: Well, it did not happen all the time, but some of the time, and after having seen a doctor in the States once, who told me how seriously I was damaging my health & organs, I radically changed my life-style.
Jakob: Working with Rory must have been an excellent training, I gather, for he used to give long exhausting and demanding concerts.
Rod: Yes, that’s true, but still I think I had had my training long before that. I’ve been playing instruments from my childhood years on. Piano and drums. I was drumming on any object I could find. I won some awards when I was just a teenager in contests and knew I would become a professional drummer. Rory didn’t train me, but in a way, I trained Brendan O’Neill, who was also in the same house as Gerry & me. I even knew Mark Feltham in those days.
Jakob: Your name is Belgian isn’t it? There’s a small village called Ath in Belgium.
Rod: That’s right. My great –grandparents lived there and the great grandfather even was in the army who fought against Napoleon. It was odd that when we played Belgium, fans would often ask me of my descent.
Jakob: Do you recall any special things that occurred in your years with Rory on the road?
Rod: I remember a tour in the States once that went down very well, good receptions everywhere and, as you might remember, I usually threw my split drumsticks into the crowd. And on this particular night, this happened, say 5 or 6 times. After 3 or 4 encores, we got into the dressing room and Rory was the only one who didn’t seem to be content and was brooding. We tried to cheer him up and told him to listen to the crowd and how very good the concert had been. Then after 5 or 10 minutes he came towards me and asked me whether I was angry or if he had done something wrong. I denied that. He then asked me why I was throwing those sticks at him. They had apparently just missed him by one inch or so. I explained that they had broken and that I was trying to please some fan with it. Then he was relieved and we all laughed loud and long . Rory was a sensitive man.
Jakob: I also remember you went to play in Poland. The first Western band to do so.
Rod: That I remember all too well. We did 3 or 4 concerts in Warsaw and Gdansk, if I am not mistaken. The audience was brilliant. They had not seen and heard anything like us before, were quiet during the shows and applauded immensely after the songs & concerts. After the shows, many of the people came backstage to thank us for our concert. From 18 til ‘what have-you’-olds. That was very moving. The last concert was attended mainly by people from former East Germany, who came to Poland in coaches, hundreds and hundreds of them, because we were not allowed to play over there. Probably the Polish government had made a deal with East German government. That concert was a very emotional event and everyone came backstage, lined up and shook hands with us and had tears in their eyes. Our visit in Poland got into many rock magazines, even in Rolling Stone.
Jakob: For the original Photo-Finish album recorded in 1977 in the US, with producer, Elliot Mazer, money and time was not saved. You played some of these songs during your UK Spring ’78 tour and that sounded promising, but that album was never released. Could you tell me a bit about what that album sounded like?
Rod: I thought it was a very good album, the best we had done together. It was more laid back and with several rhythm patterns, sort of Little Feat-ish. I did not have the impression at the time that Rory disliked it, but he withdrew it and later, Lou and I were out of the band, no hard feelings. but until this very day I have not understood why. It was an absolutely great album.
Jakob: After that you kept on playing with Ramrod and sessions at the Bridgehouse with Gerry & Lou-etc. What did you do afterwards?
Rod: I did some studio work and played in some local pubs & clubs and then moved to the States, where I lived for a number of years. Towards the mid eighties, I went back to the UK for a production with a band called Road Erect. They wanted me to produce it and I knew London, so off we went. It was then when I had a severe accident at which I lost one eye, had severe brain damages and got into a coma. As I had no permanent address in London for my house, and because were in the States, it was very difficult for the doctors & nurses to find out who I was and where I stayed.
It was much later when I regained consciousness and was able to move a bit, that I realized that I was awakening, but in the beginning I did not recognize anyone or anything. Very gradually this changed and when the first relatives were at my bedside, I sensed something familiar, but I could not place them. That only happened later on. As I had stayed a long time unconscious in London, my house in States had remained unoccupied for a very long time with the consequence it was looted & I had to start all over again in London with my wife and daughter. I am still seeing doctors regularly for checks and still have bouts of pain regularly, but have outlived their expectancy of my life span, which I celebrated.
Jakob: You cannot play the drums anymore, I guess?
Rod: No, that’s over, unfortunately. I can look back, however, to a long career as a professional drummer with Rory, Killing Floor.
Jakob: It’ s amazing how much you can recollect now!
Rod: It finally got back and I`d say for 95 %.
Jakob: . So you have lost all your possessions and have nothing which reminds you of your career as a professional drummer?
Rod: No, my mother kept an album with all the articles that had appeared in news and rock papers from say my childhood years until 1980 . She even went with me to see Irish Tour ’74 when this was shown at ABC Cinema in London. Unfortunately, she died and my father burnt everything she had kept for and on me.
Jakob: I’m sorry to hear this
After 1996 it once again went quiet around Rod de’Ath until a brief mention in a 2012 Rory Gallagher interview and then he passed away after a long illness on August 1, 2014 at age 64.
July 30, 2014 –Dick Wagner was born on December 14th 1942 in Oelwein, Iowa, but grew up in Saginaw, Michigan area and graduated from Waterford Township high school in 1961. His first band, called the Bossmen, was a favourite in the Detroit area and scored radio play with the Wagner-penned composition “Baby Boy”, “You’re the Girl for Me” and others.
Wagner formed his next band, the Frost, with Donny Hartman, Bobby Rigg and Gordy Garris, in the late 1960s and built up a substantial following in the Michigan area. The band featured the dual lead guitars of Wagner and Hartman. The band released three albums during their tenure together on Vanguard Records: 1969’s Frost Music and Rock and Roll Music, plus 1970’s Through the Eyes of Love. Wagner was the principal songwriter, arranger and lead singer of The Frost. Their live appearances brought out large crowds of young fans throughout the region.
June 4, 2014 –Doc Neeson (the Angels) was born on January 4, 1947 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
He became best known as the charismatic lead singer for the Australian hard rock band The Angels. His father, Bernard James Neeson, was a British Army soldier, and his mother was Kathleen née Corrigan. Doc was the eldest of six children. They were raised as Catholics although the family lived in a Protestant area of Belfast. He attended boarding school at Terenure College in Dublin.
May 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.
March 18, 2014 – Joe Lala (Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young) was born on November 3rd 1947 in Ybor City and raised in Florida’s Tampa area.
He started out playing the drums in several Florida bands, before forming the band Blues Image. He also occasionally sang lead vocals, most notably on the song “Leaving My Troubles Behind”.
As a drummer and percussionist, he worked with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Manassas, The Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, Joe Walsh, Andy Gibb and many others. He played the trademark congas that drove the Bee Gees’ 1976 US chart-topper You Should Be Dancing, subsequently included on the multi-million selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Lala provided the wide selection of percussive effects on Barbra Streisand’s 1980 worldwide No. 1 album Guilty, and contributed to Whitney Houston’s eponymous 1985 debut album. Throughout his career, Lala accumulated 32 gold records and 28 platinum records.
August 14, 2013 – Allen Glover Lanier (Blue Öyster Cult) was born on June 25th 1946 on Long Island New York. In 1967 together with Eric Bloom, he was a founding member of the band Soft White Underbelly, but after a bad review in 1969 they changed their name to Oaxaca, to the Stalk-Forrest Group, to the Santos Sisters, until the band settled on Blue Öyster Cult in 1971.
They released their debut album Blue Öyster Cult in January 1972. Because of their unique sound and diversity, Blue Öyster Cult has been influential to many modern bands that span many genres and are important pioneers of several different styles of rock music that came to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. Many heavy metal bands have cited them as a major influence, and bands such as Metallica and Iced Earth have covered their songs.
July 26, 2013 – John Weldon,J.J. Cale was born on December 5, 1938 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was also raised and graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1956.
As well as learning to play the guitar he began studying the principles of sound engineering while still living with his parents in Tulsa, where he built himself a recording studio. After graduation he was drafted into military service, studying at the Air Force Air Training Command in Rantoul, Illinois. Cale recalled, “I didn’t really want to carry a gun and do all that stuff so I joined the Air Force and what I did is I took technical training and that’s kind of where I learned a little bit about electronics.” Cale’s knowledge of mixing and sound recording turned out to play an important role in creating the distinctive sound of his studio albums.
June 4, 2013 – Joey Covington(Hot Tuna)was born Joseph Edward Michno on June 27, 1945 in East Conemaugh, Pennsylvania. He became a professional drummer as a young teenager, taking gigs in, among other things, polka bands and strip clubs in his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. A colorful character, on his website he listed among his fondest early memories “Getting to New York City on a Greyhound bus with a suitcase, a set of drums, and a hundred dollars in my pocket.
He built a long storied career starting at age 10 as a self-taught drummer/percussionist, along with becoming an award-winning songwriter and ultimately recording on over 22 albums, of which 16 went gold and platinum.
May 20, 2013 – Ray Manzarek Jr. was the architect of The Doors’ intoxicating sound. His evocative keyboard playing fused rock, jazz, blues, classical and an array of other styles into something utterly, dazzlingly new, and his restless artistic explorations continued unabated for the rest of his life.
He was born on February 12, 1939 to Polish immigrants Helena and Raymond Manczarek and grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and was introduced to the piano at the tender age of seven.
April 15, 2013 – Scott Miller was born on April 4th 1960; he committed suicide April 15, 2013, aged 53.
Miller’s father recorded his son singing the theme from the TV show Have Gun—Will Travel when Scott was four years old. Soon Miller was making up his own songs to sing. By age nine, he was taking folk and classical guitar lessons from a man named Tiny Moore, who had played with Bob Wills.
By 1971, Miller had switched to rock, and he was in his first band just a year later. Throughout his childhood, he had been interested in anything having to do with recording, and when he turned fifteen he finally got the TEAC four-track machine he’d been coveting. Like many others his age, Scott Miller loved the Beatles, the space program, and those shows that counted down to the number one song for the week. He started making his own countdown lists when he was twelve. Continue reading Scott Miller 4/2013
March 12, 2013 – Clive Burr (Iron Maiden drummer) was born in London on March 8th 1957.
Previously a member of Samson, he joined Iron Maiden in ’79. An acquaintance of then-Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton, he played on their first 3 records: Iron Maiden, Killers and their breakthrough release The Number of the Beast, but left the band in 1982 due to Iron Maiden’s tour schedule and his personal health problems. Clive co-wrote one song on The Number of the Beast, “Gangland”, and another song, “Total Eclipse”, that was cut from the album and showed up as the b-side of the “Run to the Hills” single, and later on the Number Of The Beast remastered CD re-release. He also appeared on “The Number of the Beast” and “Run To The Hills” videos.
February 14, 2013 – Kevin Peek (Sky) was born Dec 21, 1946 in Adelaide, Australia. He initially played classical percussion in the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music, before teaching himself the guitar.
In 1967 Peek formed a Psychedelic pop, progressive rock group, James Taylor Move but left by May 1968, moving to London. He returned to Adelaide, Australia, to join a newly formed rock band Quatro which, despite a contract from England’s Decca Records, proved artistically unsuccessful.
For a time, following their move to London, he and his fellow Adelaide-born bandmates—guitarist Terry Britten, bassist Alan Tarney, and drummer Trevor Spencer—made their livings as session musicians together, playing with everyone from the New Seekers and Mary Hopkin (Earth Song, Ocean Song) to Cliff Richard, whose regular backing band they became on stage and on record during the 1970s. Peek also worked with Manfred Mann, Lulu, Tom Jones, Jeff Wayne (War of the Worlds), and Shirley Bassey, among others. He also wrote the theme music for the internationally-broadcast “Singapore Girl” television advertisements for Singapore Airlines.
January 19, 2013 – Steve Knight was born on May 12, 1935 in New York to artist parents. From 1938–1950 his family lived in Woodstock, New York. In 1950, his father became a professor at Columbia University and moved the family to New York City. In 1952, Knight graduated from high school and enrolled at Columbia later that year. He stayed at Columbia for most of the 1950s (1952–1959) studying art, music and psychology. He earned a B.S. degree majoring in psychology, and had one year of graduate work in psychology.
From 1959 to 1968, Steve Knight recorded with or was a member of various bands including The Feenjon Group, The Peacemakers, Devil’s Anvil and Wings (obviously not Paul McCartney’s group). In 1969, producer/vocalist/bassist Felix Pappalardiorganized the heavy rock band Mountain. The initial line-up included Leslie West (guitar/vocals) and N.D. Smart (drums).
Even though he became the keyboardist, Knight was really a multi-instrumentalist, mastering both string and wind instruments. Prior to release of Mountain’s debut album, Climbing!, Pappalardi, who had known Knight from prior musical affiliations, added him to the line-up on keyboards. Corky Laing replaced Smart on drums. The band enjoyed a great deal of recording and touring success in the early 1970s including 3 gold albums, but called it quits in 1972. He performed at the infamous Woodstock Festival.
6 December 2012 – Huw Lloyd-Langton was born Richard Hugh Lloyd-Langton on 6 February 1951 in Harlesden, North London.
He started playing guitar at school, self styled and talented. In the course of those formative years in rock and roll he learned to read and write music and after high school graduation he moved to Germany where he got his first professional gig with a rather popular touring band called WINSTON G, which alternated gigs between Holland and Germany. He toured with them continuously for 6 months. The bass player was Pete Becket who later played with Player and Little Feat.
Back in England in 1969 he joined Hawkwind on their debut album in 1970. He remained with them for next 2 1/2 years recording their first 2 LP’s, which sell regularly to this day. He left them after an illness in late 1971, and although he occasionally joined them he did not return full time until 1979 when their LP ‘LIVE 79’ went straight into the top 10 UK charts.
The rest of the Seventies showed him in a variety of gigs. A 2-year acoustic stint in vegetarian London restaurant PASTURES. John Butler DIESEL PARK WEST’S singer joined him for 6 months and Eddy Klima, RATTLES singer for another year. He taught guitar at a comprehensive school in Streatham for a year and did numerous sessions, one included writing the music for a cartoon, narrated by Viv Stanshall of the BONZO DOG DOO DA BAND and 6 months with LEO SAYER touring the UK & Europe.
Several band situations including working with John Lingwood MANFRED MANN’S long standing Drummer; AMON DIN with Dave Anderson AMON DUL’S bass player; GALLERY with Rob Rawlinson on Bass from Ian Hunters OVERNIGHT ANGELS; MAGILL with Pete Scott from SAVOY BROWN and he toured Yugoslavia with ALEKZANDER JOHN (known as Alekzander Mezek) who was one of their top rock performers. Another excellent band was the Trinidadian Band BATTI MAMSELLE, whose music had a strong Latin American influence with lead singer LONDON BEAT’S Jimmy Chambers. They appeared in briefly in the film ‘Alfie Darling’ starring Alan price. The Director wanted an all black band but they refused to perform without Huw.
From 1974 to 1978 he joined WIDOMAKER touring the USA and recording 2 LPs, which charted there. Lineup included Steve Ellis- LOVE AFFAIR, Aerial Bender- MOTT THE HOOPLE, Bob Daisley-RAINBOW, Paul Nicholls LINDISFARNE and ‘John Butler ‘, again)!
In 1979 he rejoined HAWKWIND where he remained for the next 10 years. Their LP ‘LIVE 79 went straight in the top 10 UK charts. Everything Hawkwind did between 1979 and 1985 was either in the pop, heavy metal or independent charts. In 1982 Huw formed LLOYD LANGTON GROUP (LLG) to gig between HAWKWIND quiet periods. LLG has 2 singles and 2 LPs in Heavy Metal charts during 80s. During this period he had his own column in GUITARIST magazine for 6 months titled ‘Langton’s Lead Lines’.
Between 1989 and the end of the 90s Huw joined the PRETTY THINGS on one European tour. Toured Italy in ’93 with DR BROWN who had 2 independent hits there. Toured the UK several times with LLG. In the spring of ’95 he toured Sweden with Ray Majors, MOTT THE HOOPLES last guitarist.
September 2000 Huw rejoined Hawkwind for ‘Hawkestra Re-Union’ gig at Brixton Academy. This sell-out show featured 21 past members, including Lemmy. However, the main nucleus on stage throughout was Dave Brock, Alan Davey, Richard chadwick and Huw Lloyd-Langton.
Huw officially rejoined Hawkwind in 2001. They played their first major Tour in the UK since 1977 playing 18-dates nation-wide in November 2001. They kicked-off at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 10th October. Huw contracted ‘Legionnaires Disease’ on this tour and was hospitalized. This left him extremely fragile. Hawkwind toured UK again December 2002 but Huw was unable to complete the last two dates as he suffered ill health on and off over next few years with a variety of broken bones (mainly arms and wrists).
He continued to make guest appearances with Hawkwind and played solo support slots on tour.
In August 2009, Huw played an acoustic set at Hawkwind’s 40th anniversary concert at Porchester Hall, in London.
One of the world’s longest-running bands, Hawkwind have undergone countless changes of personnel and musical styles over the years. Former members and collaborators include Motorhead’s Lemmy, science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, and ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker.
Huw’s health had been generally poor for a decade and he was quite frail, with several broken bones and minor injuries (rarely letting fans down though – he once played a gig with a broken arm, reworking his solos on the fly so that he could play them in one area of the guitar neck).
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2010 he died at his home on 6 December 2012, aged 61. His final recording with Hawkwind was a re-recording of Master of the Universe for the compilation album Spacehawks.
October 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!!!
July 16, 2012 – John Douglas “Jon” Lord ( Deep Purple/Whitesnake) was born in Leicester, England on June 9th 1941 and retained a strong bond with the city throughout his life. His father was an amateur saxophone musician and encouraged Lord from an early age. There was an old upright piano in the house and Jon showed an early interest in the instrument so his parents enrolled him for formal piano lessons when he was seven. At nine he found another teacher, Frederick All, who gave recitals for the BBC and played the church organ. “He was a marvelous teacher”, says Lord. “He could impart a love of music to his students as well as teaching them to play it. He taught me to enjoy music and to want to play well.” Those influences were a recurring trademark in Jon’s work.
He attended Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys between 1952 and 1958 and then worked as a clerk in a solicitor’s office for two years, but was fired for taking too much time off work.
Lord absorbed the blues sounds that played a key part in his rock career, principally the raw sounds of the great American blues organists Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and “Brother” Jack McDuff (“Rock Candy”), as well as the stage showmanship of Jerry Lee Lewis and performers like Buddy Holly, whom he saw perform at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester in March 1958.
Lord moved to London in 1959–60, intent on an acting career and enrolling at the Central School of Speech and Drama, in London’s Swiss Cottage. Following a celebrated student rebellion he became a founder of Drama Centre London, from where he graduated in 1964. From here on his life became a Who’s Who in the early London years of the British Invasion and beyond.
Small acting parts followed, and Lord continued playing the piano and the organ in nightclubs and as a session musician to earn a living. He started his band career in London in 1960 with the jazz ensemble The Bill Ashton Combo. Ashton became a key figure in jazz education in Britain, creating what later became the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Between 1960 and 1963, Lord and Ashton both moved on to Red Bludd’s Bluesicians (also known as The Don Wilson Quartet), the latter of which featured the singer Arthur “Art” Wood, brother of guitarist Ronnie Wood. Wood had previously sung with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and was a junior figure in the British blues movement.
In this period, Lord altered the spelling of his name from his birth name “John” to “Jon” and his session credits included playing the keyboards in “You Really Got Me”, The Kinks number one hit of 1964, however in a Guitar World interview Ray Davies of The Kinks stated it was actually Arthur Greenslade playing piano on that particular track.
Following the break-up of Redd Bludd’s Bluesicians in late 1963, Wood, Lord, and the drummer Red Dunnage put together a new band, The Art Wood Combo. This also included Derek Griffiths (guitar) and Malcolm Pool (bass guitar). Dunnage left in December 1964 to be replaced by Keef Hartley, who had previously replaced Ringo Starr in Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. This band, later known as “The Artwoods”, focused on the organ as the bluesy, rhythmic core of their sound, in common with the contemporary bands The Spencer Davis Group (Steve Winwood on organ) and The Animals (with Alan Price). They made appearances on the BBC’s Saturday Club radio show and on such TV programs as Ready Steady Go!. It also performed abroad, and it appeared on the first Ready Steady Goes Live, promoting its first single the Lead Belly song “Sweet Mary” — but significant commercial success eluded it. Its only charting single was “I Take What I Want”, which reached number 28 on 8 May 1966.
The jazz-blues organ style of black R&B organ players in the 1950s and 1960s, using the trademark blues-organ sound of the Hammond organ (B3 and C3 models) and combining it with the Leslie speaker system (the well-known Hammond-Leslie speaker combination), were seminal influences on Lord. Lord also stated later that he was heavily influenced by the organ-based progressive rock played by Vanilla Fudge after seeing that band perform in Great Britain in 1967, and earlier by the personal direction he received from British organ pioneer Graham Bond.
The Artwoods regrouped in 1967 as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre“. This was an attempt to cash in on the 1930s gangster craze set off by the American film Bonnie and Clyde. Hartley left the band in 1967 to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Lord next founded the “Santa Barbera Machine Head”, featuring Art’s brother, Ronnie Wood, writing and recording three powerful keyboard-driven instrumental tracks, giving a preview of the future style of Deep Purple. Soon thereafter, Lord went on to cover for the keyboard player Billy Day in “The Flower Pot Men”, where he met the bass guitarist Nick Simper along with drummer Carlo Little and guitarist Ged Peck. Lord and Simper then toured with this band in 1967 to promote its hit single “Let’s Go To San Francisco”, but the two men never recorded with this band.
In early 1967, through his roommate Chris Curtis of the Searchers, Lord met businessman Tony Edwards who was looking to invest in the music business alongside partners Ron Hire and John Coletta (HEC Enterprises). Session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was called in and he met Lord for the first time, but Chris Curtis’s erratic behaviour led the trio nowhere. Edwards was impressed enough by Jon Lord to ask him to form a band after Curtis faded out. Simper was contacted, and Blackmore was recalled from Hamburg. Although top British player Bobby Woodman was the first choice as drummer, during the auditions for a singer, Rod Evans of “The Maze” came in with his own drummer, Ian Paice. Blackmore, who had been impressed by Paice’s drumming when he met him in 1967, set up an audition for Paice as well. The band was called the “Roundabout” at first and began rehearsals at Deeves Hall in Hertfordshire. By March 1968, this became the “Mark 1” line-up of “Deep Purple”: Lord, Simper, Blackmore, Paice, and Evans. Lord also helped form the band “Boz” with some of its recordings being produced by Derek Lawrence. “Boz” included Boz Burrell (later of King Crimson and Bad Company), Blackmore (guitar), Paice (drums), Chas Hodges (bass).
Lord pushed the Hammond-Leslie sound through Marshall amplification, creating a growling, heavy, mechanical sound which allowed Lord to compete with Blackmore as a soloist, with an organ that sounded as prominent as the lead guitar. Said one reviewer, “many have tried to imitate [Lord’s] style, and all failed.” Said Lord himself, “There’s a way of playing a Hammond that’s different. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that you can play a Hammond with a piano technique. Well, you can, but it sounds like you are playing a Hammond with a piano technique. Really, you have to learn how to play an organ. It’s a legato technique; it’s a technique to achieve legato on a non-legato instrument.”
In early Deep Purple recordings, Lord had appeared to be the leader of the band. Despite the cover songs “Hush” and “Kentucky Woman” becoming hits in North America, Deep Purple never made chart success in the UK until the Concerto for Group and Orchestra album (1970). Lord’s willingness later to play many of the key rhythm parts gave Blackmore the freedom to let loose both live and on record.
On Deep Purple’s second and third albums, Lord began indulging his ambition to fuse rock with classical music. An early example of this is the song “Anthem” from the album The Book of Taliesyn (1968), but a more prominent example is the song “April” from the band’s self-titled third album (1969). The song is recorded in three parts: 1. Lord and Blackmore only, on keyboards and acoustic guitar, respectively; 2. an orchestral arrangement complete with strings; and 3. the full rock band with vocals. Lord’s ambition enhanced his reputation among fellow musicians, but caused tension within the group.
Simper later said, “The reason the music lacked direction was Jon Lord fucked everything up with his classical ideas.” Blackmore agreed to go along with Lord’s experimentation, provided he was given his head on the next band album.
The resulting Concerto For Group and Orchestra (in 1969) was one of rock’s earliest attempts to fuse two distinct musical idioms. Performed live at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969 (with new band members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, Evans and Simper having been fired), it was recorded by the BBC and later released as an album. The Concerto gave Deep Purple its first highly publicised taste of mainstream fame and gave Lord the confidence to believe that his experiment and his compositional skill had a future
Purple began work on Deep Purple in Rock, released by their new label Harvest in 1970 and now recognised as one of hard rock’s key early works. Lord and Blackmore competed to out-dazzle each other, often in classical-style, midsection ‘call and answer’ improvisation (on tracks like “Speed King”), something they employed to great effect live. Ian Gillan said that Lord provided the idea on the main organ riff for “Child in Time” although the riff was also based on It’s a Beautiful Day’s 1969 psychedelic hit song “Bombay Calling”. Lord’s experimental solo on “Hard Lovin’ Man” (complete with police-siren interpolation) from this album was his personal favourite among his Deep Purple studio performances.
Deep Purple released another six studio albums between 1971 (Fireball) and 1975 (Come Taste the Band). Gillan and Glover left in 1973 and Blackmore in 1975, and the band disintegrated in 1976. The highlights of Lord’s Purple work in the period include the 1972 album Machine Head (featuring his rhythmic underpinnings on “Smoke on the Water” and “Space Truckin'”, plus the organ solos on “Highway Star”, “Pictures of Home” and “Lazy”), the sonic bombast of the Made in Japan live album (1972), an extended, effect-laden solo on “Rat Bat Blue” from the Who Do We Think We Are album (1973), and his overall playing on the Burn album from 1974.
Roger Glover would later describe Lord as a true “Zen-archer soloist”, someone whose best keyboard improvisation often came at the first attempt. Lord’s strict reliance on the Hammond C3 organ sound, as opposed to the synthesizer experimentation of his contemporaries, places him firmly in the jazz-blues category as a band musician and far from the progressive-rock sound of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Lord rarely ventured into the synthesizer territory on Purple albums, often limiting his experimentation to the use of the ring modulator with the Hammond, to give live performances on tracks like Space Truckin’ a distinctive ‘spacy’ sound. Instances of his Deep Purple synthesizer use (he became an endorser of the ARP Oyssey) include “‘A’ 200”, the final track from Burn, and “Love Child” on the Come Taste the Band album.
In early 1973 Lord stated: “We’re as valid as anything by Beethoven.”
Lord continued to focus on his classical aspirations alongside his Deep Purple career. The BBC, buoyed by the success of the Concerto, commissioned him to write another piece and the resulting “Gemini Suite” was performed by Deep Purple and the Light Music Society under Malcolm Arnold at the Royal Festival Hall in September 1970, and then in Munich with the Kammerorchester conducted by Eberhard Schoener in January 1972. It then became the basis for Lord’s first solo album, Gemini Suite, released in November 1972, with vocals by Yvonne Elliman and Tony Ashton and with the London Symphony Orchestra backing a band that included Albert Lee on guitar.(Ritchie Blackmore had played the guitar at the first live performance of the Gemini Suite in September 1970, but declined the invitation to appear on the studio version, which led to the involvement of Lee. Other performers were Yvonne Elliman, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Tony Ashton).
In March 1974, Lord and Paice had collaborated with friend Tony Ashton on First of the Big Bands, credited to ‘Ashton & Lord’ and featuring a rich array of session talent, including Carmine Appice, Ian Paice, Peter Frampton and Pink Floyd saxophonist/sessioner, Dick Parry. They performed much of the set live at the London Palladium in September 1974.
This formed the basis of Lord’s first post-Deep Purple project Paice Ashton Lord, which lasted only a year and spawned a single album, Malice in Wonderland in 1977, recorded at Musicland Studios Musicland Studios at the Arabella Hotel in Munich. He created an informal group of friends and collaborators including Ashton, Paice, Bernie Marsden, Boz Burrell and later, Bad Company’s Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and others. Over the same period, Lord guested on albums by Maggie Bell, Nazareth and even folk artist Richard Digance. Eager to pay off a huge tax bill upon his return the UK in the late-1970s (Purple’s excesses included their own tour jet and a home Lord rented in Malibu from actress Ann-Margret and where he wrote the Sarabande album), Lord joined former Deep Purple band member David Coverdale’s new band, Whitesnake in August 1978 (Lord’s job in Whitesnake was largely limited to adding color or, in his own words, a ‘halo’ to round out a blues-rock sound that already accommodated two lead guitarists, Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody.
A number of singles such as “Here I Go Again”, “Wine, Women and Song”, “She’s a Woman” and “Till the Day I Die” entered the UK chart, taking the now 40-something Lord onto Top of the Pops with regularity between 1980 and 1983. He later expressed frustration that he was a poorly paid hired-hand, but fans saw little of this discord and Whitesnake’s commercial success kept him at the forefront of readers’ polls as heavy rock’s foremost keyboard maestro. His dissatisfaction (and Coverdale’s eagerness to revamp the band’s line-up and lower the average age to help crack the US market) smoothed the way for the reformation of Deep Purple Mk II in 1984.
During his tenure in Whitesnake, Lord had the opportunity to record two distinctly different solo albums and was later commissioned by producer Patrick Gamble for Central Television to write the soundtrack for their 1984 TV series, Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, based on the book by Edith Holden, with an orchestra conducted by Alfred Ralston and with a distinctly gentle, pastoral series of themes composed by Lord. Lord became firmly established as a member of UK rock’s “Oxfordshire mansion aristocracy” – with a home, Burntwood Hall, set in 23.5 acres at Goring-on-Thames, complete with its own cricket pitch and a hand-painted Challen baby grand piano, previously owned by Shirley Bassey. He was asked to guest on albums by friends George Harrison (Gone Troppo from 1982) and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour (1984’s About Face), Cozy Powell (Octopus in 1983) and to play on an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, Wind in the Willows. He composed and produced the score for White Fire (1984), which consisted largely of two songs performed by Limelight. In 1985 he made a brief appearance as a member of The Singing Rebel’s band (which also featured Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) in the Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais-scripted film Water (1985) (Handmade Films).
In the 1980s he was also a member of an all-star band called Olympic Rock & Blues Circus fronted by Pete York and featuring a rotating line-up of the likes of Miller Anderson, Tony Ashton, Brian Auger, Zoot Money, Colin Hodgkinson, Chris Farlowe and many others. Olympic Rock & Blues Circus toured primarily in Germany between 1981 and 1989. Some musicians, including Lord, took part in York’s TV musical extravaganza Superdrumming between 1987 and 1989.
Lord’s re-emergence with Deep Purple in 1984 resulted in huge audiences for the reformed Mk II line-up, including 1985s second largest grossing tour in the US and an appearance in front of 80,000 rain-soaked fans headlining Knebworth on 22 June 1985, all to support the Perfect Strangers album. Playing with a rejuvenated Mk. II Purple line-up (including spells at a health farm to get the band including Lord into shape) and being onstage and in the studio with Blackmore, gave Lord the chance to push himself once again. His ‘rubato’ classical opening sequence to the album’s opener, “Knocking at Your Back Door” (complete with F-Minor to G polychordal harmony sequence), gave Lord the chance to do his most powerful work for years, including the song “Perfect Strangers”. Further Deep Purple albums followed, often of varying quality, and by the late-1990s, Lord was clearly keen to explore new avenues for his musical career.
In 1997, he created perhaps his most personal work to date, Pictured Within, released in 1998 with a European tour to support it. Lord’s mother Miriam had died in August 1995 and the album is a deeply affecting piece, inflected at all stages by Lord’s sense of grief. Recorded largely in Lord’s home-away-from-home, the city of Cologne, the album’s themes are Elgarian and alpine in equal measure. Lord signed to Virgin Classics to release it, and perhaps saw it as the first stage in his eventual departure from Purple to embark on a low-key and altogether more gentle solo career. One song from Pictured Within, entitled “Wait A While” was later covered by Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø on her 2003/2004 album My Heart. Lord finally retired from Deep Purple amicably in 2002, preceded by a knee injury that eventually resolved itself without surgery. He said subsequently, “Leaving Deep Purple was just as traumatic as I had always suspected it would be and more so – if you see what I mean”. He even dedicated a song to it on 2004’s solo effort, Beyond the Notes, called “De Profundis”. The album was recorded in Bonn with producer Mario Argandoña between June and July 2004.
Lord slowly built a small, but distinct position and fan base for himself in Europe. He collaborated with former ABBA superstar and family friend, Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad,) on the 2004 track, “The Sun Will Shine Again” (with lyrics by Sam Brown) and performed with her across Europe. He subsequently also performed European concerts to première the 2007-scheduled Boom of the Tingling Strings orchestral piece.
In 2003 he also returned to his beloved R-n-B/blues heritage to record an album of standards in Sydney, with Australia’s Jimmy Barnes, entitled Live in the Basement, by Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men, showing himself to be one of British rock music’s most eclectic and talented instrumentalists. Lord was also happy to support the Sam Buxton Sunflower Jam Healing Trust and in September 2006, performed at a star-studded event to support the charity led by Ian Paice’s wife, Jacky (twin sister of Lord’s wife Vicky). Featured artists on stage with Lord included Paul Weller, Robert Plant, Phil Manzanera, Ian Paice and Bernie Marsden.
In July 2011, Lord performed his final live concert appearance, the Sunflower Jam at the Royal Albert Hall, where he premiered his joint composition with Rick Wakeman. At that point, they had begun informal discussion on recording an album together. Up until 2011, Lord had also been working on material with the recently formed rock supergroup WhoCares, also featuring singer Ian Gillan from Deep Purple, guitarist Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, second guitarist Mikko Lindström from HIM, bassist Jason Newsted formerly from Metallica and drummer Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden, specifically the composition “Out of My Mind,” in addition to new compositions with Steve Balsamo and a Hammond Organ Concerto. Lord subsequently cancelled a performance of his Durham Concerto in Hagen, Germany, for what his website said was a continuation of his medical treatment (the concert, scheduled for 6 July 2012, would have been his return to live performance after treatment).
Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra was effectively recommissioned by him, recorded in Liverpool and at Abbey Road Studios across 2011 and under post-production in 2012 with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra performing, conducted by long-time collaborator, conductor Paul Mann. The recording was at completion at the time of Lord’s death, with Lord having been able to review the final master recordings. The album and DVD were subsequently released in 2012.
In July 2011, Lord was found to be suffering from pancreatic cancer. After treatment in both England and in Israel, he died on 16 July 2012 at the London Clinic after suffering from a pulmonary embolism. He was 71.
• On 11 November 2010, he was inducted as an Honorary Fellow of Stevenson College in Edinburgh, Scotland. On 15 July 2011, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree at De Montfort Hall by the University of Leicester. Lord was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 8 April 2016 as a member of Deep Purple.
• Lars Ulrich, founding member and drummer in Metallica commented, “Ever since my father took me to see them in 1973 in Copenhagen, at the impressionable age of 9, Deep Purple has been the most constant, continuous and inspiring musical presence in my life. They have meant more to me than any other band in existence, and have had an enormous part in shaping who I am. We can all be guilty of lightly throwing adjectives like ‘unique,’ ‘one-of-a-kind’ and ‘pioneering’ around when we want to describe our heroes and the people who’ve moved us, but there are no more fitting words than those right now and there simply was no musician like Jon Lord in the history of hard rock. Nobody. Period. There was nobody that played like him. There was nobody that sounded like him. There was nobody that wrote like him. There was nobody that looked like him. There was nobody more articulate, gentlemanly, warm, or fucking cooler that ever played keyboards or got anywhere near a keyboard. What he did was all his own.”
• Former keyboard player of rock band Yes, Rick Wakeman, who was a friend of Lord’s, said he was “a great fan” and added “We were going to write and record an album before he became ill. His contribution to music and to classic rock was immeasurable and I will miss him terribly.” In mid-2013, Wakeman presented a BBC One East Midlands-produced TV program about Lord and his connection to the town of his birth.
• Singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad (ABBA), who described Jon Lord as her “dearest friend”, paid him tribute at the 2013 edition of Zermatt Unplugged, the annual music festival which both he and she served as patrons. “He was graceful, intelligent, polite, with a strong integrity,” she said. “He had a strong empathy and a great deal of humor for his own and other people’s weaknesses.”
• Keyboardist Keith Emerson said of Lord’s death, “Jon left us now but his music and inspiration will live forever. I am deeply saddened by his departure.” In a later interview in November 2013, he added, “In the early years I remember being quite jealous of Jon Lord – may he rest in peace. In September 1969 I heard he was debuting his “Concerto For Group & Orchestra” at the Royal Albert Hall, with none other than Malcolm Arnold conducting. Wow! I had to go along and see that. Jon and I ribbed each other, we were pretty much pals, but I walked away and thought: ‘Shit, in a couple of weeks’ time I’m going to be recording The Nice’s Five Bridges Suite … not at the Albert Hall but at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon!’ A much more prosaic venue. Later, Jon wanted me to play on his solo album, Gemini Suite, but that was around the time ELP were breaking big and we were touring. He was a lovely guy, a real gentleman.”
• A concert tribute to Lord took place on 4 April 2014 at the Royal Albert Hall. Performers and presenters included Deep Purple, Bruce Dickinson, Alfie Boe, Jeremy Irons, Joe Brown, Glenn Hughes, Miller Anderson and Steve Balsamo.
• In December 2012 the Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, joined the campaign to honor Lord with a blue plaque at his childhood home at 120 Averill Road, where he lived until he was twenty, saying it would be “an important reminder of the city’s contribution to the world of contemporary music.”
• Lord was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple in April 2016
April 5, 2012 – Jim Marshall Even though Jim Marshall was a drummer who made a good income teaching drums to many British rockstars in the early fifties, his being in these pages is based on his importance to Rock as a builder of Rock’s most important amplifiers and speaker boxes.
It was the physical embodiment of rock’s power and majesty — a wall of black, vinyl-clad cabinets, one atop the other, crowned with a rectangular box containing the innovative circuitry that revolutionized the music.
This was the famed Marshall stack, the amplification gear that has dominated rock stages since its introduction in the early 1960s, bestowing on guitarists the ability to achieve unprecedented volume and controlled distortion.
From the Who, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s on through Peter Frampton, Van Halen, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana in succeeding decades, the cursive “Marshall” emblazoned on the speakers has served as an inescapable backdrop signature.
The Marshall stack was so much larger than life that it lent itself to excess as well. The famous amp in the mockumentary “Spinal Tap” with a unique setting of 11 on the dial was a Marshall, and no rock image was more over-the-top than that of KISS’ four members performing in front of some 40 Marshall cabinets.
Of course, they didn’t need that many.
“Hendrix used three 100-watt amps and three stacks,” their inventor Jim Marshall once said. “KISS go a lot further, but most of the cabinets and amps you see on stage are dummies. We once built 80 dummy cabinets for Bon Jovi. They all do it — it’s just backdrop.
“It would be stupid to use more than three 100-watt amps, wherever and whoever you are.”
Marshall died at 88 in an English hospice after suffering from cancer and several severe strokes, his son Terry Marshall told the Associated Press. Musicians, competitors and fans were quick to salute Marshall, who had retained an active role at Marshall Amplification well into his 80s.
Comments on Twitter came from Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx (“R.I.P. Jim Marshall. You were responsible for some of the greatest audio moments in music’s history and 50% of all our hearing loss”), Slash (“The news of Jim Marshall passing is deeply saddening. R & R will never be the same w/out him. But, his amps will live on FOREVER!”) and Megadeth’s David Ellefson (“You made rock n roll what it is for so many of us.”)
“RIP Jim Marshall. Such a huge loss for the music community,” was the sentiment expressed by Fullerton-based Fender Guitars, whose Bassman amplifier served as Marshall’s model when he set about to redefine the technology in 1962.
It was an unlikely undertaking, but Marshall’s life had consistently defied the odds. Born in London on July 29, 1923, he saw his youth interrupted by a case of bone tuberculosis that immobilized him in a hospital from the age of 5 to 13.
When he recovered, he took on menial jobs, began educating himself in engineering, learned to tap dance and became a big band singer and drummer. He worked as a toolmaker for aircraft manufacturers during World War II, but soon music took precedence.
He began giving drum lessons and opened a drum shop in London. One of his students was Mitch Mitchell, who would later introduce him to the leader of his new trio, Hendrix. The shop’s customers included the son of one of Marshall’s big band cohorts, a young rock musician who encouraged Marshall to add guitars and amps to his inventory.
Marshall took Pete Townshend’s advice, and business boomed. When Townshend and friends such as Ritchie Blackmore learned about his technical background, they prodded him to devise an amplifier with more power and rougher tone than the pure, clean-sounding Fenders.
Marshall took on the challenge, working with guitarist-electrician Ken Bran and hiring engineer Dudley Craven away from EMI Records to help him achieve the sound he envisioned. They adapted airplane vacuum tubes into the design, Marshall packed four 12-inch speakers into a tongue-and-groove cabinet whose top half angled slightly upward and they set a 50-watt amplifier on top of it.
They got it right on the sixth prototype, but the rock musicians were becoming intoxicated with the potential of greater volume and soon their urging led to a 100-watt amp powering eight speakers — two of the cabinets in the famed stack formation.
Marshall quickly built his enterprise into a consistently successful firm, adding midrange and low-end lines to the catalog. He twice received the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement and was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2004. He was regularly listed among Britain’s wealthiest individuals.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, the man known as “the father of loud” did suffer some hearing problems. But it’s not what you might think.
“My right ear is not very good at all,” he said in a 2005 interview with the New Zealand Herald. “And I’d always put it down to when I was playing the top cymbal, but it was probably the brass section in the orchestras I was playing in the ’50s. So it happened before I was dealing with rock ‘n’ roll.”
Jim Marshall was almost 89 years old when he died from cardiac arrest on 5 April 2012.
March 12, 2012 – Michael Hossack (drummer for Doobie Brothers) was born in Paterson, New Jersey on October 17th 1946. He started playing drums in the Little Falls Cadets, a Boy Scout drum and bugle corps, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Cadets and Fair Lawn Cadets. He always credited these experiences for teaching and preparing him for playing in a two-drummer group such as the Doobie Brothers.
After graduating high school, he served for four years in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Following his honorable discharge in 1969 he returned to New Jersey, where a close friend talked him into auditioning for a California-based band called Mourning Reign.
They played heavily in upstate New York, before relocating to the San Francisco bay area and signing with a production company that had also signed the newly formed rock band, the Doobie Brothers.
Although Mourning Reign was short-lived, Hossack’s abilities gained considerable exposure and having learned of his availability, was invited to jam with the Doobies in 1971. Little did he know that the “jam session” was an actual audition which took place at Bimbo’s 365 Club. After hearing founding drummer John Hartman and Hossack together, the Doobies decided that having two drummers would beef up the rhythm section and so adopted the “dual drummers” sound pioneered by bands such as the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. Hossack played alongside Hartman on the band’s breakthrough albums Toulouse Street in 1972, The Captain and Me in 1973 and What Were Once Vices are Now Habits in 1974, which spawned the band’s first #1 hit, “Black Water”.
After a grueling ten-month tour in 1973, Hossack left the Doobies. He went on to join Bobby Winkelman’s band Bonaroo (band) which released one album then disbanded shortly afterwards. In 1976, he had a brief stint with a band called DFK (or the Dudek Finnigan Krueger Band), with Les Dudek, Mike Finnigan and Jim Krueger. In 1977, Hossack became a partner in Chateau Recorders studio in North Hollywood.
An avid outdoors man, when he wasn’t in the studio or on tour, he was either riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, hunting or fishing. A family man as well, Mike enjoyed spending as much time as possible raising his two children.
In 1987 former band member Keith Knudsen called Mike and asked if he would participate in a series of benefit concerts for veterans of the Vietnam War. Being a veteran himself, Mike agreed and the Doobie Brothers (after a five-year hiatus) were back together again. Due to the huge success of these concerts, the Doobie Brothers decided to reform with band members Pat Simmons, Tom Johnston, John Hartman, Tiran Porter, Bobby LaKind and Michael Hossack. Not long afterwards, they were offered a recording contract from Capitol Records. Since then, Mike’s unique style can be heard on the albums Cycles, Brotherhood, Rockin’ down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert, Sibling Rivalry, Live at Wolf Trap and World Gone Crazy.
On June 22, 2001, while heading to a show at Caesars Tahoe in Lake Tahoe, Mike suffered multiple fractures from a motorcycle accident on Highway 88 and had to be airlifted to a Sacramento-area hospital where he underwent surgery. After months of healing and grueling physical therapy, Mike was back with the band. He was a permanent fixture until he developed cancer in 2010 and had to take a leave of absence to focus on his health.
On March 2012, Hossack sadly died of cancer at his home in Dubois, Wyoming at the age of 65.
March 3, 2012 – Ronnie Montrose. There are credible sources that claim he was born November 29, 1947 in Denver, Colorado, and others say he was born in San Francisco, California. No confusion is there about his early childhood in Colorado.
In his own words Montrose was born in San Francisco, California. When he was a toddler, his parents moved back to his mother’s home state of Colorado (his father was from Bertrand, Nebraska, and his mother was from Golden, Colorado). He spent most of his younger years in Denver, Colorado until he ran away at about 16 years old to pursue a musical career. He ultimately spent most of his life in the San Francisco Bay area, where he became an influential, highly-rated player whose crunchy riffs, fluid licks and mesmerising solos lit up FM radio during the 1970s.
February 6, 2011 –Gary Moore, who wrote and played “Still Got the Blues for You” and “Parisienne Walkways” into a daily highlight in my musical playlist, passed away on February 6, 2011 at age 58, while on vacation in Spain, reportedly after a night of excessive drinking and partying.
Gary Moore was a guitar talent that only comes around a couple of times in a generation. Jimi, Eric, Gary, Duane and Hughie Thomasson are the five that fill my High Five, as I’m witnessing our generation extending a welcome to those who learned from the great ones, like Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Sheppard and now show their talent to a new generation.
Robert William Gary Moore was born on 4 April 1952 and grew up on Castleview Road opposite Stormont Parliament Buildings, off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast, Northern Ireland as one of five children of Bobby, a promoter, and Winnie, a housewife. He left the city as a teenager, because of troubles in his family – his parents parted a year later – just as The Troubles – political violence, were starting in Northern Ireland.
August 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.
March 4, 2010 – Candido Lolly Vegas (Redbone) was born Lolly Vasquez in Coalinga, California on October 2, 1939. He grew up in Fresno. He and his brother Pat, a singer and bassist, were session musicians who performed together as Pat and Lolly Vegas in the 1960s at Sunset Strip clubs and on the TV variety show “Shindig!”
Patrick and Lolly Vasquez – Vegas were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone and Mexican heritage. but began by performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers, “because their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexican musicians playing surfing music”. First as the Vegas Brothers (Pat and Lolly Vegas), then later as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band, they performed throughout the 1960s.
They formed the Native American band Redbone in 1969, Redbone being a Cajun word for ‘half-breed’. The band, with members of Latino and native American origin, released its self-titled debut album the following year. The band first gained notice with “Maggie” in 1970 and broke international barriers with “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” in 1971.
December 2, 2009 – Eric Woolfson was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 18th March 1945. Eric had an uncle in Glasgow who played the piano masterfully and who inspired Eric to want to become a musician. After a very short spell of piano lessons which were soon abandoned, Eric started playing by himself and became a self-taught pianist who never was able to read music!
In his teens, following a brief but somewhat unsuccessful foray into the profession of Chartered Accountancy where they said he’d be better apprenticed to a circus, Eric went to London via Manchester where he got involved with music business agency, Kennedy Street Enterprises. He joined one of their acts HERMAN’S HERMITS as a guest pianist for a short spell, and had high hopes of becoming a permanent member of one of their other groups, but they wouldn’t guarantee him a retainer and so he decided to carry on further south to London. The musicians Eric left behind in Manchester, shortly afterwards became known as 10CC. Finally arriving in London he hung around Denmark Street a.k.a. ‘Tin Pan Alley’ where he managed to get work as a session pianist and worked with musicians such as Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones who went on to form LED ZEPPELIN and managed to fix a meeting with the Record Producer & Co. Manager of THE ROLLING STONES, Andrew Loog Oldham.
After being kept waiting for over four hours for his meeting, Oldham finally showed up and asked Eric to play something he’d written himself. After playing just one song, Oldham stood up and said ‘You’re a fucking genius’ and immediately offered Eric a publishing deal with Oldham’s newly formed company ‘Immediate Records’.
Oldham placed Eric’s work with a number of well known artists of the day such as MARIANNE FAITHFULL and FRANK IFIELD as well as using Eric as a session pianist on many of his independent productions.
Other songs written by Eric found their way into various record producers’ hands, including MICK JAGGER’s first attempt as a record producer with a singer called CHRIS FARLOWE – although Eric’s song eventually was consigned to the B-side, the single OUT OF TIME went to number one in the UK Charts.
Eric signed other publishing deals with other companies as his repertoire flourished and more and more of his songs found their way to major recording artists, both in Europe and America.
He signed a deal with Southern Music where he joined the ranks of composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Eric remembered Lloyd Webber and Rice’s decision to create stage musicals as a vehicle for their songs, rather than the more difficult route of trying for covers by the big artists of the day. As time went by, Eric realized how well founded their idea was.
Later, Eric was taken on as an independent record producer by several record companies working with artists including DAVE BERRY, THE EQUALS and THE TREMELOES.
Around this time, Eric had the idea to make an album inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. He wrote some of the material which later found its way into the Alan Parsons Project and at that time he recorded some demos with guitarist Rick Westwood of THE TREMELOES. Eric produced the recordings but was not sure that he had the necessary skill to realize such a grandiose project and shelved the idea.
Despite having many of his songs recorded all over Europe, Eric found that earning a living as a songwriter was not easy and so he decided to try his hand at artist management.
His first two clients were a singer CARL DOUGLAS who had just reached the top of the charts with KUNG FU FIGHTING and a record producer called ALAN PARSONS who he had met while on a session at Abbey Road Studios.
Alan had decided to become a producer and with Eric as his manager, he enjoyed a string of successes including consecutive number one hits with PILOT and COCKNEY REBEL. Other notable successes were JOHN MILES and AL STEWART with YEAR OF THE CAT.
At that time, the film business had become a director’s medium with luminaries such as Stanley Kubrick being more influential in the making of a film than the stars who appeared in it. Now having access to Alan’s production and engineering talent, Eric saw an opportunity to mirror this in the record business by combining his own writing talents with Alan’s. His Edgar Allan Poe idea came off the shelf and the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT was born.
The first album entitled TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION, EDGAR ALLAN POEwas released in 1976. It was immediately obvious that there was more to the idea than one album, but as the original record deal was for only the first album, a new deal was done with Arista Records for nine further albums.
Despite there being no live performances and few obvious hit singles the venture was a great success. There were however hit singles (many on which Eric sang lead vocal) including EYE IN THE SKY, TIME and DON’T ANSWER ME, three of which in addition to record sales, have been played on American radio more than 1 million times.
After ten albums Eric wanted to develop in other areas and decided it was time to move into the area of stage musicals. His first attempt, inspired by Sigmund Freud, was entitled FREUDIANA which was premiered in 1990 in Vienna’s historic THEATER AN DER WIEN where Beethoven premiered ‘Fidelio’, his one and only opera. Eric had always been inspired by creative minds and his wife Hazel had been studying psychology and began to leave books on Freud lying around the house. Intrigued by the titles, Woolfson became fascinated by their content and started researching Freud and spent a lot of time in the Freud Museum in London, even lying on the couch on which Freud’s patients recounted their dreams.
The success of this first musical work led to Woolfson’s second musical GAUDI which premiered in 1994 in Aachen, Germany and went on to be staged in Alsdorf (1995) and Cologne (1996) where a 1,700-seat theatre was specially built in the heart of the city to stage the show. Half a million people saw GAUDI in the five years that it ran and every performance received a standing ovation. A german tour of GAUDI was later planned for 2009/2010 and an Asian production planned for 2010.
For his next musical GAMBLER, Eric drew on his experiences of living in Monte Carlo (in the late 70s) which had also been the inspiration for the Alan Parsons Project TURN OF A FRIENDLY CARDalbum. Many of the songs from this album (Eye in the Sky, Turn of a Friendly Card, Snake Eyes, Games People Play and Time) were included in the show. It was premiered in Germany in Monchengladbach in 1996. GAMBLERhas so far had seven productions in Korea, one of which also toured Japan in 2002 and 2005 (the first time a Korean language production had been staged in this way) and it won several Korean Tony Awards.
In 2007 Eric’s musical DANCING SHADOWSpremiered in Asia. This was a unique musical project inspired by a famous Korean play entitled A FOREST FIRE based on the anti-war play Forest Fire by the Korean playwright Cham Bum-Suk. The noted playwright and author Ariel Dorfman wrote the book and Eric wrote the music and lyrics. The production won 5 Korean Tony awards including Best Musical. International production plans for the show are in development.
Eric’s work POE re-visits his original Tales of Mystery and Imagination inspiration, Edgar Allan Poe. It had its world premiere concert showcase at Abbey Road Studios in 2003 and a studio album was released containing 10 songs from the piece ‘POE, More Tales of Mystery and Imagination’.
The latest project that Eric worked on was the result of having gone through the APP archives to find bonus tracks for the 2007/2008 Sony and Universal releases of all 10 Alan Parsons Project albums in remastered expanded edition versions, plus a new Essential APP compilation. Eric discovered a number of songs which hadn’t been included on the original APP albums for a variety of reasons. These were later included, in their unfinished form as bonus tracks on the expanded edition APP albums, and Eric also completed and recorded some of these songs which are included on the ‘Eric Woolfson sings The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was‘ album which was released in January 2009.
Eric died of kidney cancer in the early hours of the 2nd December 2009, aged 64.
August 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.
June 25, 2009 – Sky Sunlight Saxon was born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 1937. Different sources suggest a birth year of 1937, 1945 or 1946. His widow has said that his birthday was August 20, but would not confirm the year because he believed age was irrelevant. However, 1940 census records indicate he was born in Utah in 1937.
March 22, 2009 – Reg Isidore was born on 4 April 1949 in Aruba, Netherlands Antilles. As is quite common in the Caribbean Islands, kids are sent abroad for their formal education, which is how Reg Isidore ended up in London.
Reg’s musical career started with the 1960’s soul scene and included stints with The High Tensions, The Rick ‘ n’ Beckers, Peter Green and the late great Richard Wright (Pink Floyd). In the early days he also played with Peter Bardens (Camel) for many years, then managed by Legendary manager John Schatt, who was building up his worldwide company the Filmpow Group.
As a musician however he was a rock drummer who became best known for his work with the Robin Trower Band. The band, consisting of Robin Trower (guitar), Jimmy Dewar (bass and vocals) and drummer Reg Isidore, formed in December of 1972 and played their first show in Vienna, Austria in February of 1973.
December 27, 2008 – Delaine Alvin “Delaney” Bramlett was born on July 1st, 1939 in Pontotoc Mississippi. Life in his hometown wasn’t for the budding music man and the only way to survive was to pick cotton or join the Armed Services. As a young kid however he was hanging around a studio in town watching everything and did some early demos for another Mississippian, Elvis Presley, as well as played a cardboard box as a drum on a George Jones record.
Delaney joined the Navy for three years and said goodbye to Mississippi. After his release from the Navy with Mississippi in his heart and his feet in Los Angeles he moved his family to be with him, where he has remained ever since.
April 17, 2008 – Danny Federici was born January 23, 1950 grew up in the same neighborhood and became life long friend and over 40 years the keyboardist with Bruce Springsteen in bands Child, Steel Mill and The E Street Band.
Danny started to play accordion when he was seven years old, and was soon playing at parties, clubs and on radio. He attended Hunterdon Central High School in New Jersey, when he, along with Vini Lopez started the band, Child at the end of the ’60s, with Bruce Springsteen their chosen singer, a friendship and working friendship that lasted throughout his life.
April 15, 2008 – Cliff Davies was born in 1949 south of London, England.
After receiving tuition from pipe band drummer Jock Cree, and playing local gigs in the Aldershot area (Home of the British Army to the south of London), in the early 70s, he went on to join the Roy Young Band, then the second incarnation of British jazz-rock band If from 1972 to 1975. He played on four albums by the band and contributed songwriting to many of their songs.
February 28, 2007 – Billy Thorpe (Thorpie and The Aztecs) was born on March 29th 1946 in Manchester England. His parents, Bill and Mabel Thorpe and he emigrated to Australia in 1955, arriving in Melbourne and then settling in Brisbane, Queensland. He performed as a ten-year-old under the pseudonym Little Rock Allen. Six months later, after he was heard singing and playing guitar by a television producer, Thorpe made regular musical appearances on Queensland television.
By the time he was 15, Thorpie had worked in stage shows, variety television, clubs and even vaudeville at Brisbane’s Theatre Royal with George Wallace. He toured regional venues with Reg Lindsay in 1961, and national venues with Johnny O’Keefe and with Col Joye. By 1963, as an experienced singer and musician, he decided to relocate to Sydney, where he joined The Aztecs.
April 11, 2006 – June Pointer (the Pointer Sisters) was born on November 30th 1953. Born the youngest of six children to minister parents Reverend Elton and Sarah Pointer, June shared a love of singing with her sisters. In 1969, she and sister Bonnie founded The Pointers – A Pair. The duo sang at numerous clubs, then became a trio later that year when sister Anita quit her job as a secretary to join them. The group officially changed its name to The Pointer Sisters. The trio signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and released a few singles, none of which made a substantial impact on the music charts. In 1972, sister Ruth joined the group, making it a quartet. The sisters then signed with Blue Thumb Records, and their career began to take off.
March 26, 2005 – Paul Hester (Crowded House) was born on January 8th 1959 in Melbourne, Australia. His mother a jazz drummer, encouraged him at an early age to learn the drums. After playing in local bands as a teenager, he formed the band Cheks and in 1982 they moved to Sydney renaming themselves Deckchairs Overboard.
He did a brief spell with Split Enz in 1983, before he along with Neil Finn formed a new band with guitarist Nick Seymour. They were signed by the US label Capitol and moved to LA. At first, they called themselves the Mullanes (Finn’s middle name), but after record company pressure they changed the name to Crowded House. Their first album in 1986 which included the US top-10 hit Don’t Dream It Over, catapulted them into major attraction on the international touring circuit until he left mid-tour in 1994 because of the stress and anxieties related to constant touring.
February 28, 2005 – Chris Curtis (the Searchers) was born August 26, 1941 as Christopher Crummey in Oldham, Lancashire. Curtis moved to Liverpool when he was four and went to primary school where he met Mike Pendergast (Mike Pender).
He taught himself how to play the piano on the family instrument. He passed the 11-plus and went to St Mary’s College, Crosby, where he was taught violin although he wanted to play the double-bass. His father bought him a drum set during his late teens when he left school and he learned these in his spare time, when he was not selling prams at Swift’s Furniture store at Stanley Road, Liverpool. He developed a fascination for American music and particularly liked Fats Domino. He also grew the unusually long hair that would be his trademark in the early years.
April 1, 2004 – PaulAtkinson (The Zombies) was born March 19, 1946 in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, and educated at St Albans School. At St Albans, Atkinson met Rod Argent and Hugh Grundy and the three formed a band initially called the Mustangs.
Colin Blunstone and Paul Arnold joined the new band in early 1961, but Arnold left in 1963 and was replaced by Chris White. After the group won a local contest, they recorded a demo as their prize. Argent’s song “She’s Not There” got them a deal with Decca and was a hit in the UK, the European continent and the US.
The group continued to record successfully through the early 1960s, but disbanded in December of 1967, shortly after finishing their final album “Odyssey & Oracle,” reportedly over management disagreements. The album including megahits “Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season”.
Feb 23, 2004 – Bob “Bobby” Mayo (Peter Frampton) was born on August 25, 1951 in New York City, and grew up in Westchester County. He began studying music at the age of five, focusing on classical piano. During the 1960s, Mayo’s interest in music grew due to the rock explosion. His first band was Ramble and the Descendants, where he played organ and sang. Mayo played with several other local bands and had plans to attend Juilliard School in New York City. His career took a detour when he suffered injuries in a serious car accident at the age of seventeen, but Bob was determined and he was able to move on.
In 1971, Mayo formed Doc Holliday with Frank Carillo, Tom Arlotta, and Bob Liggio. He then joined Rat Race Choir (73-74) one of the Tri-State area’s best bands, playing guitar. He then left RRC, was replaced with Mark Hitt and teamed up with Peter Frampton and joined his touring band. Because of this, he appeared on Peter Frampton’s album Frampton Comes Alive!. It was on this recording that Peter Frampton introduced Mayo with the words “Bob Mayo on the keyboards… Bob Mayo,” which has since become something of a legend among Peter Frampton fans. Mayo also appeared on the Peter Frampton albums I’m in You and Where I Should Be.
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.
February 23, 2003 – Howie Epstein (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) was born July 21st 1955 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father, Sam, was a top local record producer who worked with various rock and roll and soul groups in the 1950s and ’60s. Howie often visited the music studios, watching his father work and occasionally making recordings under his dad’s watchful eye at a very young age. “I would go into the bars with my father to check out the bands he was thinking of working with,” Epstein recalls, “and a couple of times he let me use groups he was working with as back-up musicians for stuff I’d record.”
August 9, 2002 – Paul Samson was born Paul Sanson on June 4, 1953 in Norwich, England.
In 1976 Paul Samson replaced Bernie Tormé in London-based band Scrapyard, joining bassist John McCoy and drummer Roger Hunt. The band name was changed to McCoy, and they built up a busy gigging schedule, whilst also independently playing various sessions. Eventually, McCoy left to join Atomic Rooster. His replacement was the band’s sound engineer and a close friend of Paul Samson’s, Chris Aylmer. Aylmer suggested a name change to Samson, and recommended a young drummer, Clive Burr, whom he had previously played with in the band Maya. Burr joined, and Samson was born, although for a time Paul Samson used bassist Bill Pickard and drummer Paul Gunn on odd gigs when Aylmer and Burr were honoring previous commitments.
June 27, 2002 – John Entwistle (The Who)was born on 9 October 1944 in Chiswick, a suburb of London, England. During his life he became famous as an English musician, songwriter, singer, film and music producer, who was best known as the original bass guitarist for the English rock band The Who. He was the only member of the band to have formal musical training. His aggressive lead sound influenced many rock bass players as he made himself immortal with the bass solo on their smash hit “My Generation”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Who in 1990.
Entwistle’s instrumental approach used pentatonic lead lines, and a then-unusual treble-rich sound (“full treble, full volume”) created by roundwound RotoSound steel bass strings. He was nicknamed “The Ox” and “Thunderfingers,” the latter because his digits became a blur across the four-string fretboard. In 2011, he was voted the greatest bassist of all time in a Rolling Stone reader’s poll.
Jimmy Dewar (12 October 1942 – 16 May 2002) was a Scottish musician best known as the bassist and vocalist for Robin Trower and Stone the Crows, the latter having its beginnings as the resident band at Burns Howff in Glasgow. He was educated at St. Gerards Senior Secondary School in Glasgow.
There was a strong Scottish music scene in Glasgow in the early 1960s, serving great talents to the burgeoning birth of rock and roll. Alex Harvey, Lulu, Maggie Bell, Frankie Miller, Jimmy Dewar and others. Strangely, Jimmy’s musical career was not to begin with his vocal talents, but as guitar player with Lulu and the Lovers in the early 60’s. Dewar had started out playing in a local band called the ‘Gleneagles’ in the early sixties but his career began with Lulu and the Luvvers in 1963. From there he joined a band called ‘Sock ‘Em JB’ which included the legendary Scottish rock vocalist Frankie Miller.
In 1967 Jimmy joined a band called ‘Power’ with Maggie Bell, which later turned into ‘Stone The Crows’ with Jimmy and Maggie on vocal duty, managed by Peter Grant, who also toured the world with Led Zeppelin.
Maggie Bell took him on board with the legendary “Stone the Crows” and the shy man’s voice was soon exposed on classics like “The touch of your loving hand”. Another young singer had exploded onto the music scene, but the best was yet to come. Living in London with his wife Martha and their young family, he was approached by Frankie Miller. The two Glasgow buddies were having a small refreshment when out of the blue Frankie told Jimmy that “there might be a job going” with some guitar player called Robin Trower, that the music industry insiders were raving about. “What kind of job?” asked Jimmy. Frankie laughed and said, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe playing bass, maybe singing”. Jimmy applied and got both jobs.
Dewars career reached its zenith with Robin Trower, the legendary British rock power trio, especially after the 1974 release of the album Bridge of Sighs, which put Trower in the global limelight as one of rock’s guitar legends, while Jimmy Dewar found recognition as one of the best white soul vocalists on the planet.
Trower had joined Gary Brooker’s band Procol Harum following the global success of their debut single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” in 1967, remaining with them until 1971 and appearing on the group’s first five albums. But the fact that Procol Harum was heavily keyboard focused, made Trower committed to find that right combination of artists that would help inspire him to write and play to his potential as a guitarist. He tried with the band ‘Jude’ with Frankie Miller, ex-Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker and Jimmy Dewars on bass. This wasn’t working for anyone. The outfit did not record and Trower soon split, taking only Jimmy Dewar with him. The rest is history!
Dewar made his mark as an acclaimed blue eyed soul singer, performing in front of sold-out stadiums and concert halls at the crest of the 1970s classic rock era. The Scot had a rich, powerful voice, with a soulful timbre, and has been regarded by critics as one of the most under-rated rock vocalists. His vocal sound was deep, gritty, and resonating, his style shows the influence of Ray Charles and Otis Redding. Like Paul Rodgers and Frankie Miller, his voice evoked a bluesy, soul-inspired sound. For a while The Robin Trower Band became the hottest thing on the planet and introduced “Stadium Rock” to the U.S.A. Frankie was right! The R.T.B. were the first band to sell tickets by the hundreds of thousands. Gold and Platinum albums were thrown at them like frizbees. Amongst James Dewars biggest fans were Frankie Miller, Billy Connolly, Donny Hathaway, Rod Stewart, not forgetting Maggie Bell and Lulu herself.
Dewar recorded his one solo album, “Stumbledown Romancer”, during the 1970s, at the height of his career, but it was not released until two decades later. He collaborated primarily with longtime Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher on the album, with the title track relating a hard-luck story …
…Stumbledown Romancer I never made the grade Never on the dance-floor when the music played Always moving on when I should have stayed…
The famous Scottish screenwriter, Peter McDougall, still talks of his first experience of meeting Jimmy. When having a drink with Frankie, Peter noticed that the man standing next to him was clothed in snakeskin trousers, cowboy boots and not much else. “Who’s that?” Peter asked. Frankie replied “That’s James Dewar”. Peter howled, “ Well, I want to be one of them!”
It says it all. Everyone from Metallica to the Stereophonics were influenced by the voice of the Scotsman. Jimmy’s honeyed voice and effortlessly dead-on phrasing have received – all true – let’s not overlook that Jimmy’s voice was the soundtrack for the moment when countless people fell in love, much the way Elvis or Sinatra once were. Although it might make a few of us blush, I know I’m not the only person to have indelible, crystal-clear memories of making love while wrapped in the warming coccon of “Bluebird” and “For Earth Below” and “About To Begin” and “Little Girl”. And that’s not a nudge-of-the-elbow and a lascivious-wink type of comment but simply the highest praise I know to give an artist.
Jimmy had a stroke in 1987 that left him needing constant care. He died 15 years later on May 16, 2002 of a stroke after years of disability resulting from a rare medical condition, CADASIL, which caused a series of strokes.
Some day – maybe even right this moment – some kid who doesn’t know who the heck “Jimmy Dewar'” is, is going to plunk on a vintage Trower album on a whim, hear that voice riding atop Robin’s licks; vistas are going to open up wide and that kid’s world will never be the same again. This is the blessing inside the sadness – that every time that happens, Jimmy will be alive, strong and healthy.
Widely-regarded as one of the most underrated rock vocalists, the late singer for The Robin Trower Band had a rich, soulful and resonating voice as can be heard on all tracks of the break through album “Bridge of Sighs”. and in my opinion one of the all time best rock albums.
December 18, 2000 – Kirsty MacColl (the Pogues) was born at Mayday Hospital in Croydon (South London) on 10th October 1959. This did not make her Scottish. Or Irish. Or called Kristy. While living in Croydon, Kirsty drove a huge white BMW with fuzzy dice but no power steering. She called it Bob Marley & the Wailers.
Kirsty’s father was the legendary ‘communist’ folk singer Ewan MacColl, but she grew up seeing him only at weekends, being raised by her dancer/choreographer mother.
February 7, 2000 – David Jack “Dave” Peverett aka Lonesome Dave (Foghat) was born April 16, 1943 in Dulwich, South East London.
In the formative pre-Beatles early Sixties, he was the vocalist and lead guitarist of The Nocturnes, which included his brother John Peverett (later to be Rod Stewart’s road manager, before becoming a Baptist pastor in the USA) on drums, and Brixton neighbour Al “Boots” Collins (later to be editor of tourist magazines in the West Indies and Middle East) on tenor sax. The Nocturnes achieved London popularity as a pub and club band and provided backing for other performers at a recording studio in Soho.
Then, after a brief tour with Swiss blues band, Les Questions, Dave joined Savoy Brown as a rhythm guitarist, eventually also taking over as lead singer and adding the nickname Lonesome Dave. After five albums with Savoy Brown, he decided to pursue his own path, along with drummer Roger Earl and taking bassist Tony Stevens with them.
December 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.
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.
August 10, 1996 – Mel Taylor (the Ventures) was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 24, 1933, the first child of Grace and Lawrence Taylor. His mother”s family was Russian/Eastern European Jewish, and his father”s family was from the Tennessee/North Carolina area, with English, German, Dutch and Cherokee roots.
His early years were spent in Brooklyn but, in the summer of 1939, his father took him back to the family home in Johnson City, TN, for the first of many visits. His father, grandfather and uncles all played guitar or banjo, and Mel became used to music being an integral part of his life. Back in New York, he joined the Police Athletic League and excelled in the 100-yard dash. He also developed a lifelong passion for the Dodgers baseball team.
Mel’s interest in the drums began early, too. His mother remembered him banging on pots and pans with knitting needles, then drumsticks. In school, he joined the drum and bugle corps, and marched in the Macy’s parade. His inspiration came from big bands and especially Gene Krupa, whom he heard on the radio and whose style he began to copy.
In his early teens, Mel moved permanently to Tennessee where he attended high school. After trying out for the football team, he found he preferred marching in the band instead. He joined the Navy at the age of 17 and, after basic training in the Great Lakes region, was posted to Pensacola where he was assigned to a crash crew for the Navy pilots’ training facility.
After leaving the Navy, Mel returned to Tennessee where he started playing music on local radio and TV shows. His younger brother, Larry Taylor (later bass player with Canned Heat), remembers that Mel played rhythm guitar and sang back-up on a rockabilly TV show in Johnson City with Eddie Skelton. He later played drums with Joe Franklin”s group, and even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show — or rather his arm did, as that was all anyone could see of him when the show aired! He also played guitar and sang on his own (very) early morning radio show, as “Mel Taylor and the Twilight Ramblers”.
Mel moved his family, including 4 small children, out to California in 1958. During the day, Mel worked LA Grand Central Market, as a meat cutter – a trade he had learned in Tennessee. By night however, he played drums in clubs around the L.A. area and became quite sought after. Soon he was able to quit his day job, and graduate to session work in the recording studios. His early credits include “The Monster Mash” with Bobby “Boris” Pickett, “The Lonely Bull” with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (for which he was paid $10!), various cuts with Buck Owens, and many more. He also became house drummer at the famous Palomino Club in North Hollywood.
In the late 1950″s and early 1960″s everyone in the music business frequented the Palomino – and often sat in with the house band, so Mel had the opportunity to meet and play with many hit artists. One night in 1962, The Ventures came to the Palomino after doing a TV show in Hollywood, but without their drummer, so Mel obliged and played “Walk Don”t Run” with the group.
Later, The Ventures asked him if he would be interested in joining them, as their original drummer was unable to travel. Shortly thereafter, they called Mel in to do some recording and, a few months later, to go on the road with them. From 1963 on, Mel became known as The Ventures” drummer, recording and performing with them for more than 32 years, traveling all over the US, to Europe and to Japan, where The Ventures” annual tour was considered a major cultural event.
He released a solo album in the late 1960s and formed his own band called Mel Taylor & The Dynamics in the late 1970s
In July 1996, while on tour in Japan with The Ventures, Mel was diagnosed with pneumonia, but subsequently a malignant tumor was found in his lungs. He continued to play until August 1, so that a replacement drummer could be found for the balance of the tour. On August 2, Mel returned to Los Angeles for further testing, but the cancer was so fast-moving that, after less than 10 days at home, he died very suddenly on August 11 at the age of 62.
February 12, 1995 – Philip Kramer (Iron Butterfly) was born on July 12th 1952 in Youngstown, Ohio.
For a short period between 1974 and 1977, he was bassist for Iron Butterfly in their third reincarnation. Even though he was a solid bass thumper, his story on this rock and roll website only appears because his death was a longtime mystery with many stories of paranoia, related to his science career. During and after his music career he studied for and got a night school degree in aerospace engineering, after which he worked on the MX missile guidance system for a contractor of the US Department of Defense.
With the arrival of the Internet and the Worldwide Web he switched fields and studied fractal compression, facial recognition systems, and advanced communications. In 1990 he co-founded Total Multimedia Inc. with Randy Jackson, brother of Michael Jackson, to develop data compression techniques for CD-ROMs.
November 4, 1994 – Fred “Sonic” Smith was born on September 13, 1949 in West Virginia, but raised in Detroit.
As a teenager, he lived for music with speed, energy with a rebellious attitude and formed a rock group Smith’s Vibratones, before joining up with his old school pal, Wayne Kramer to form MC5, short for Motor City Five. This influential band released 3 albums before their break up in 1972, Kick Out the Jams in 1969, Back in the USA in 1970, and High Time in 1971. After the band broke up Fred went on to form Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, which released one single, “City Slang”.
December 4, 1993 – Frank Vincent Zappa was born on December 21, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland with an Italian, Sicilian, Greek and Arab ancestry. With his dad employed as chemist/mathematician in the Defense industry, the family often moved to the extent that he attended at least 6 high schools. He began to play drums at the age of 12, and was playing in R&B groups by high school,
Zappa grew up influenced by avant-garde composers such as Varèse, Igor Stravinsky and Anton Webern, as well as R&B and doo-wop groups (particularly local pachuco groups), and modern jazz. His own heterogeneous ethnic background and the diverse social and cultural mix in and around greater Los Angeles in the sixties, were crucial in the forming of Zappa as a practitioner of underground music and of his later distrustful and openly critical attitude towards “mainstream” social, political, religious and musical movements. He frequently lampooned musical fads like psychedelia, rock opera and disco. Television also exerted a strong influence, as demonstrated by quotations from show themes and advertising jingles found in his later works. Continue reading Frank Zappa 12/1993
November 24, 1991 – Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5th 1946 on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa. He spent time in a boarding school in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, where he studied piano and it was not long before this charismatic young man joined his first band, the Hectics. He was of Indian Parsi descent and his early childhood was in India, which gave him the title “Britain’s first Asian rock star.“
After moving to London with his family in the 1960s, Mercury attended the Ealing College of Art where he befriended a number of musicians including future bandmates, drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May. Following graduation, he joined a series of bands and sold second-hand clothes in the Kensington Market in London, as well as had a job at Heathrow Airport. In April 1970, he joined with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor who had previously been in a band called SmileIn 1969, Mercury joined up with a group called Ibex as their lead singer. He played with a few other bands before joining forces with Taylor and May in the early 70s. They met up with bassist John Deacon in 1971, and the quartet—who Mercury dubbed Queen—played their first gig together in June of that year.Continue reading Freddie Mercury 11/1991
April 20, 1991 – Steve Marriott (Small Faces and Humble Pie) was born in London on January 30th 1947. He started singing and performing, by busking at local bus-stops for extra pocket money. His father Bill was an accomplished pub pianist and the life and soul of many an ‘East End’ night. Bill bought Marriott a ukulele and harmonica which Marriott taught himself to play. Marriott showed an early interest in singing and performing, busking at local bus-stops for extra pocket money and winning talent contests during the family’s annual holiday to Jaywick Holiday camp near Clacton-on-Sea.
At the age of 12, he formed his first band with school friends Nigel Chapin and Robin Andrews, called ‘The Wheels’, later the ‘Coronation Kids’.
In 1960, his father Bill spotted an advertisement in a London newspaper for a new Artful Dodger replacement to appear in Lionel Bart’s popular musical Oliver!, based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, at the New Theatre (now called the Noël Coward Theatre) in London’s West End, and without telling his son, applied for him to audition. At the age of thirteen, Marriott auditioned for the role. He sang two songs, “Who’s Sorry Now” by Connie Francis, and “Oh, Boy!” by Buddy Holly. Bart was impressed with Marriott’s vocal abilities and hired him. Marriott stayed with the show for a total of twelve months, playing various boys’ roles during his time there, for which he was paid £8 a week. Marriott was also chosen to provide lead vocals for the Artful Dodger songs “Consider Yourself”, “Be Back Soon,” and “I’d Do Anything,” which appear on the official album to the stage show, released by World Record Club and recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. In 1961 the Marriott family moved from Strone Road to a brand new council flat in Daines Close, Manor Park. Continue reading Steve Marriott 4/1991
September 6, 1990 – Thomas Richard “Tom” Fogerty (November 9, 1941 – ) was born in Berkeley California and became best known as the rhythm guitarist for Creedence Clearwater Revival and is the older brother of John Fogerty the band’s lead singer/songwriter. He was a founding member of the band that sold 30 million albums in the United States alone and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Tom played on all but one of their albums: Creedence Clearwater Revival-1968, Bayou Country-1969, Green River-1969, Willy and the Poor Boys-1969, Cosmo’s Factory-1970, and Pendulum -1970, producing such hits as “Proud Mary”, “Bad Moon Rising”, “Down on the Corner”, “Green River”, “Fortunate Son”, “Travelin’ Band” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain”.
Tom left the CCR in 1971, the year before the band split. During the few years of the life of CCR, Tom sang backing vocals and wrote songs, but only one of his songs (“Walking on the Water”) was recorded. This lack of opportunity, along with festering, long-standing animosity with his brother, led him to leave the band in 1971.
He began a solo career and worked with the likes of Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders, and old band mates Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. Tom’s 1974 solo album Zephyr National was the last to feature the four original band members of CCR. A few of the songs sound much in the Creedence style, particularly the aptly-titled “Joyful Resurrection”. All four members did play on the song, but John recorded his part to the mix separately.
At the October 1980 reception for Tom’s marriage to Tricia Clapper, all four members of CCR reunited and performed for the first time in a decade. They took the stage once more for a final time at a school reunion three years later.
He died on September 6, 1990 from complications from AIDS acquired during blood transfusions needed for a tuberculosis infection.
In just four top years, CCR released 17 Top 40 Chart Hits, including many two-sided hits. Virtually their ENTIRE singles catalog are still played regularly on both Oldies Radio and the Classic Rock Stations: SUZIE Q (#9, 1968), PROUD MARY (#2, 1969), BAD MOON RISING (#2, 1969), GREEN RIVER (#2, 1969), DOWN ON THE CORNER (#3, 1969), FORTUNATE SON (#6, 1969), TRAVELIN’ BAND (#2, 1970), WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN (#2-B, 1970), UP AROUND THE BEND (#2, 1970), LOOKIN’ OUT MY BACK DOOR(#1, 1970) and HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN (#3, 1971) are all radio staples. Lesser known hits, B-Sides and LP cuts like BORN ON THE BAYOU, LODI, COMMOTION, RUN THROUGH THE JUNGLE, SOMEDAY NEVER COMES, SWEET HITCH-HIKER, I PUT A SPELL ON YOU and their version of I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE also continue to receive a fair amount of airplay. In fact, percentage-wise, they may be the most-represented band on the radio when you consider how many songs get played in relationship to their total career output. But CCR wasn’t just a singles band … in that same four year period, they released seven albums worth of new material. GREEN RIVERand COSMO’S FACTORY both went to #1 and were triple and quadruple platinum sellers respectively. Their self-titled debut LP, BAYOU COUNTRY, WILLY AND THE POORBOYS, PENDULUM and MARDI GRAS rounded out the string of hit LPs. In 1969 and 1970, they outsold THE BEATLES. In their four year career, they had seven gold albums (with sales of over 25,000,000) and ten gold singles (with sales of around 12,000,000!)
March 17, 1990 – Ric Grech (Blind Faith) was bornRichard Roman Grechko in Bordeaux, France’s famous wine area on November 1st 1946. He was educated at Corpus Christi RC School, Leicester, after attending Sacred Heart Primary School, where he played violin in the school orchestra.
He originally gained notice in the UK as the bass guitar player for the progressive rock group Family. He joined the band when it was a largely blues-based live act in Leicester known as the Farinas. He became their bassist in 1965, replacing Tim Kirchin. Family released their first single, “Scene Through The Eye of a Lens,” in September 1967 on the Liberty label in the UK, which got the band signed to Reprise Records. The group’s 1968 debut album Music in a Doll’s House was an underground hit that highlighted the songwriting talents of Roger Chapman and John “Charlie” Whitney as well as Chapman’s piercing voice, but Grech also stood out with his rhythmic, thundering bass work on songs such as “Old Songs New Songs” and “See Through Windows,” along with his adeptness on cello and violin.
March 31, 1986 – O’Kelly Isley Jr (Isley Brothers) was born on December 25th 1937. The eldest of the Isley Brothers, Kelly Isley started singing with his brothers at church. When he was 16, he and his three younger brothers (Rudy, Ronnie and Vernon) formed The Isley Brothers and toured the gospel circuit. Following the death of Vernon Isley from a road accident, the brothers decided to try their hand at doo-wop and moved to New York to find a recording deal. Between 1957 and 1959, the Isleys would record for labels such as Teenage and Mark X. In 1959, they signed with RCA Records after a scout spotted the trio’s energetic live performance.
O’Kelly and his brothers co-wrote their first significant hit, “Shout”. While the original version only peaked at the top 50 of the Hot 100, subsequent cover versions helped the song sell over a million copies. Later moving on to other labels including Scepter and Motown, the brothers would have hits with “Twist & Shout” in 1962 and “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)”. In 1959, the Isley family had relocated to Englewood, New Jersey where Kelly stayed with his mother and younger siblings.
In 1969, the brothers left Motown and started their own label, T-Neck Records, where they would write the majority of their recordings, including “It’s Your Thing”. Kelly and his brother Rudy began to take some lead spots on the group’s albums starting with the It’s Our Thing album in 1969. The track, “Black Berries”, from their The Brothers Isley album, was dedicated to Kelly, who Ron would always quote him as saying “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice”. That saying had been originated by Harlem Renaissance novelist Wallace Thurman in the 1929 novel, The Blacker the Berry. After the inclusion of younger brothers Ernie and Marvin and brother-in-law Chris Jasper, Kelly, Rudy and Ron didn’t write as much as they did in the past but in an agreement shared parts of the composition credits as they owned the songs’ publishing.
Kelly Isley during the Isleys’ 1970s heyday was usually photographed wearing a cowboy hat and Western type of clothing. According to his brother Ernie, it was Kelly who discovered a homeless Jimi Hendrix after hearing of Hendrix’s talents as a guitarist and helped him get a job with the brothers’ band and allowed to live in his mother’s house.
In 1985 the brothers released the Masterpiece album. It’s Kelly who sings most of the lead of the Phil Collins ballad, “If Leaving Me Is Easy”, on the album with Ron backing him up. Kelly’s last appearance as member of the Isley Brothers was in 1986 on the song “Good Hands” from the Wildcats soundtrack.
A heavyset man, Kelly contracted cancer and lost weight, which was shown on the group’s album cover of Masterpiece. In March 1986, Kelly suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 48 in his Alpine, New Jersey home
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.
April 5, 1983 – Daniel EarlDanny Rapp was born on May 9th 1941 in Philadelphia, PA. The group was formed in a high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1955, and besides Rapp included, Frank Maffei, Lennie Baker, Dave White Tricker, Joe Terranova, and Bill Carlucci. Originally known as ‘The Juvenairs’ the group choreographed their own dance moves, and often performed at after school gigs and local area shows. They later became known as Danny and the Juniors.
In 1957, the group was discovered by songwriter/producer named John Madara, who had happened to see them while they were were working a record hop. A promoter of Rock ‘n’ Roll music, Madara introduced the band to David White Tricker and a vocal coach named Artie Singer, who also owned the Singular Records Label. After an audition, the band was signed to the label, and soon released their first song, ‘Do The Bop,’ written by Madara and White. The song’s title was later changed to, ‘At The Bop’ .
The song came to the attention of Dick Clark, who suggested they rename it to “At the Hop,” due to the fact that the word ‘Bop’ was by then pretty much out of fashion. The song released in that year, was first cut as a demo with the help of music producer Leon Huff and after 13 takes at the Reco-Art Studios, the copy was sent around to radio DJ’s. The song was released as the group’s first single, and it became a regional hit first, and then a national hit. The song went to #1 for 7 weeks on the music charts and sold over 7,000 copies in their hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The song which was an immediate success would also become there signature song. They were also asked to appear on Dick Clark’s television program, “American Bandstand” as a replacement for ‘Little Anthony & The Imperials.’ Following the success of there single, ‘At The Hop,’ the band then released the Top 20 hit, ‘Rock And Roll Here To Stay,’ and also toured with several bands of Alan Freed‘s traveling Rock ‘n’ Roll shows.
They followed this with two other singles that ended up going into the Top 40 Charts. In 1963 the group switched over to the Swan Record Label, but after the release of a couple more songs including, ‘Twistin’ USA,’ and ‘Dottie,’ the group eventually disbanded a year later. The Juniors released several more records in the 1960s but were not able to produce any more hits. In the 70s they toured the oldies circuit, re-releasing “At the Hop” in 1976
The group’s members continued on in the music business doing their own things, Madara kept producing and finding new talent, while the group’s members joined, founded other bands, or had solo careers.
Rapp’s last performance was in Phoenix, Arizona at the Silver Lining Lounge of The Pointe Tapatio Resort in a month-long engagement which was scheduled to end on Saturday, April 2, 1983. However two performances short of the contract he got into a couple of disputes offstage with a female member of the group that prompted resort security to intervene and confront him. With two more shows yet to complete, Danny took off and headed to a small town more than 160 miles away, where he checked into the Yacht Club Motel in Quartzsite, Arizona, just east of the California border. He was seen on Saturday drinking heavily in the Jigsaw, one of the two bars in town. Sometime over the weekend, he bought a .25-caliber automatic from a private individual.
Rapp’s body was found in his hotel room on Sunday, April 3, 1983, with a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right side of the head. He was a few weeks short of his 42nd birthday.
David White co-wrote “At the Hop” with John Madara and Artie Singer. Originally called “Do the Bop” and written by David and John, the song was renamed and some of its lyrics changed at the recommendation of Dick Clark because the dance known as the Bop was already fading in popularity around the time the song was released. Hops were the new thing. Artie came aboard as a co-writer of the new version, and Dick was given half of the publishing rights for it.
As David recalls in his own words about that song, “We recorded ‘Do the Bop’ with Johnny Madara singing lead vocals and my group, The Juvenaires, backing him up. Artie took it to Johnny’s label, Prep Records, but they turned it down. Artie then took it to Dick Clark, who suggested the title change to ‘At the Hop’. Aritie changed some of the lyrics and became a co-writer,” continuing, “We went back into the recording studio and this time, my group recorded the song with Danny singing lead. Artie took it back to Dick Clark and gave him half the publishing of the song. ‘At the Hop’ was then released on the Singular label, which couldn’t handle the distribution demands. So Artie sold the master to ABC Paramount.” The practice of payola was not illegal at that time, allowing Dick Clark to get away with securing those publishing rights, David explained to me.
February 4, 1982 – Alexander James “Alex” Harvey was born February 5th 1935 in Glasgow, Scotland. By his own account, he worked in a number of jobs, from carpentry to waiting tables at a restaurant to carving tombstones, before finding success in music. He first began performing in skiffle groups in 1954. On Friday, 20 May 1960, at the Town Hall, Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, Alex Harvey and his Big Beat Band opened for Johnny Gentle and His Group, “His Group” being the Beatles (John, Paul, George, Stuart Sutcliffe and Tommy Moore), on this the opening night – and biggest audience – of the Beatles’ seven-date tour of Scotland with Gentle.
His musical roots were in Dixieland jazz and skiffle music, which enjoyed considerable popularity in Britain during the late 1950s. From 1958 until 1965, he was the leader of Alex Harvey’s Big Soul Band, playing blues and rock and roll songs and spending considerable time touring in the United Kingdom and Germany. He also won a competition, that sought “Scotland’s answer to Tommy Steele”. Harvey became strongly identified with British rhythm and blues music, although he was equally able to play rock songs. He briefly tried a solo approach but when that didn’t work out he became a member of the pit band in the London stage production of the musical Hair recording the live LP ‘Hair Rave Up’ in 1966, which contained Harvey originals and other songs not from the stage show. In 1970, Harvey formed Rock Workshop with Ray Russell; their first, self-titled album contained an early version of “Hole in Her Stocking”, later to appear on Framed. Harvey remained with Hair for five years.
Harvey was also instrumental in the formation of the band Stone the Crows by introducing his younger brother, Leslie “Les” Harvey, to singer Maggie Bell. Also in Stone the Crows was bassist James Dewar, later of Robin Trower fame. Les Harvey was electrocuted in a freak stage accident while performing with the band in 1972.
In 1972, Alex formed the Sensational Alex Harvey Band with guitarist Zal Cleminson, bassist Chris Glen, and cousins Ted and Hugh McKenna on drums and keyboards respectively, all previous members of progressive rock act “Tear Gas”. He built a strong reputation as a live performer during the 1970s glam rock era.
The band was renowned for its eclecticism and energetic live performance, Alex for his charismatic persona and daredevil stage antics. The band had hits with “Delilah” in 1975, and “The Boston Tea Party” in 1976. Alex left the band later that year.
Harvey re-joined the group for 1978’s Rock Drill, but they disbanded shortly afterwards.
Alex Harvey was no punk-rocker, having first broken in during Britain’s skiffle rage in the ’50s (as “The Tommy Steele of Scotland”) and then living on the fringes of the British blues scene during the early part of the following decade. Alex Harvey c. 1975 But when he finally found his moment and grabbed on tight for the ride, it was with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band in the early ’70s, a glam-rock outfit contemporary with Slade and Mott the Hoople. As part of his stage act, Harvey brandished a can of spray paint and used it liberally; the set list included covers of songs by the Coasters and Tom Jones, along with something called “There’s No Lights on the Christmas Tree, Mother; They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight” (references to a version of which may be found in the classic rock’n’roll movie from 1956, The Girl Can’t Help It). Where do you put a guy like this, except in the proximity of the New York Dolls? By the time punk- rock had arrived Harvey was past forty and suffering health problems related to drugs and other hazards of the rock-star lifestyle.
On 4 February 1982, a day short of his 47th birthday, Harvey suffered a massive heart attack while waiting to take a Northsea ferry from Zeebrugge, Belgium, back to England after performing a Belgian gig with his new band, the Electric Cowboys. He suffered a fatal second attack in an ambulance on the way to hospital.
January 23, 1978 – Jan Terry Alan Kath was Jimi Hendrix favorite guitar player. Born on January 31, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois, he became best known as the original guitarist, co-lead singer and founding member of the rock band Chicago. He has been praised by the band for his guitar skills and Ray Charles-influenced vocal style.
Growing up in a musical family, Kath took up a variety of instruments in his teens, including the drums and banjo. He acquired a guitar and amplifier when he was in the ninth grade, and his early influences included the Ventures, Dick Dale and Howard Roberts. He later became influenced by George Benson, Mike Bloomfield, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.He played bass in a number of bands in the mid-1960s, before settling on the guitar when forming the group that would become Chicago. Unlike several other Chicago members who received formal music training, Kath was mostly self-taught and enjoyed jamming. In a 1971 interview for Guitar Player, he said he had tried professional lessons but abandoned them, adding “all I wanted to do was play those rock and roll chords”.
His guitar playing was an important component of the group’s sound from the start of their career, and he sang lead on several of the group’s singles. He used a number of different guitars, but eventually became identified with the Fender Telecaster fitted with a humbucker pickup and decorated with numerous stickers.
A true innovator, Kath experimented endlessly with amps, guitars and equipment. While he possessed a rudimentary awareness of musical composition, he mostly just played by ear. Other band members were in awe of his ability to hear something once and play it back. Legend has it that Jimi Hendrix, with whom Chicago toured in the early days, idolized Kath, telling Parazaider, “Your guitar player is better than me”. Listening to Kath’s early recorded soloing on such tunes as “South California Purples”, “Poem ’58”, “Listen” and “25 or 6 to 4”, you’d be hard pressed to say Hendrix was wrong. Chicago’s producer Guercio has said that Kath could have been a monster as a solo artist.
That Kath never received the recognition due him as a guitar hero is old news now, but it irked him during his lifetime. Band-mate James Pankow recalls a tour in England where Kath publicly gave the crowd the finger for comparing him unfavorably to noted greats like Eric Clapton and Page. Listening today, aficionados are amazed at Kath’s picking and, while a bit dependent upon the wah-pedal, his creativity is still dazzling. He was capable of handling all genres, including jazz, country, metal, blues, and flat-out rock.
As a composer, Kath was much more hit than miss. Though Chicago never scored on the charts with a Kath single, the tunes he wrote were generally killer. Some, like “O Thank You, Great Spirit” and “Take It on Uptown” rival anything Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Page ever came up with. And Kath sang rings around them all. Blessed with a soulful, husky voice, Kath belted and whooped his way through such classics as “Make Me Smile” while possessing the ability to go smooth when the need arose (“Wishing You Were Here”, “Colour My World”, “Brand New Love Affair, Part 1”). In his personal life, Kath reportedly sensed that he wouldn’t live long (he died a few days before reaching 32). He has been famously described as down-to-earth and a great guy, but a risk-taker. It’s interesting to note that all Chicago band-mates, from James Pankow to Robert Lamm to Peter Cetera, describe themselves as having been very close to Terry (Lamm has called him his best friend). This indicates that Kath could make himself comfortable with a variety of personalities. Kath was into fast cars, motorcycles and guns. He was also into a variety of drugs, though reports indicate he wasn’t addicted. He loved to eat and fought a constant battle with his waistline (until he seemingly gave up near the end of his life, growing truly fat). He experimented with a wide variety of hairstyles and facial hair throughout his career and had a fondness for wearing professional hockey (NHL and WHL) team jerseys. He was 28 when he married 19-year-old Camelia Kath Ortiz in 1974; they had a daughter, Michelle, in 1976.
Kath’s death on January 23, 1978 is a watershed in rock history, but some confusion remains about what actually happened to him. Contemporaneous newspaper reports indicate that he accidentally shot himself with a 9mm automatic at roadie Don Johnson’s house after a party in front of Camelia. Later interviews with band members such as James Pankow indicate that Kath was alone with Johnson at the kitchen table and no party had taken place. Supposedly, Kath was displaying the gun when Johnson told him to be careful. Kath then is supposed to have put the gun to his head, saying either, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded, see?” or, “What do you think I’m gonna do, shoot myself?” before pulling the trigger. Whatever actually happened, Kath’s death doesn’t seem to have been a suicide, in spite of Pankow’s acknowledgment that Kath had been “bumming” over a fight with Camelia (or Cetera’s assertion that Kath was unhappy in Chicago and would have been the first to leave had he lived).
He died on January 23, 1978 from an accidentally self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 31. The bereavement triggered Chicago to consider disbanding, but they ultimately decided to resume as is signified by their memorial song “Alive Again.” To commemorate his musicianship, they later issued the 1997 album, The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath.
Katz daughter Michelle started a Kickstarter funding to produce a documentary on her father’s life which will be coming out in 2016.
December 4, 1976 – Thomas Richard “Tommy” Bolin was born August 1, 1951 in Sioux City, Iowa from a Swedish father and a Syrian mother.
In his own words:
“I was five or six at the time, I think, and I used to watch this show on TV called Caravan of Stars. I saw Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins. After seeing them perform I knew that was what I wanted to do. I actually started on drums when I was thirteen and played them for two years. Then I went to guitar for a year, played keyboards for a year and a half, and went back to guitar. It was just the right instrument. You’re in direct contact with the music you’re making by having the strings under your fingers. It’s not mechanical like a piano. My first guitar was a used Silvertone, the one that had the amplifier in the case. When I bought it, I had a choice between it or this black Les Paul for 75.00. I took the Silvertone. That was my first mistake.”
March 19, 1976 – Paul Francis Kossoff (Free) was born September 14, 1950 in Hampstead, London. He was gifted with the performance gene from birth. His father, David, was a well-regarded film and television actor who would go on to win Most Promising Newcomer to Film at the 1955 BAFTA award ceremony.
Kossoff took to music early, commencing classical guitar lessons at age 10. “My dad said that if Paul wanted to play guitar, which he did of course, he had to learn to do it properly,” recalled Paul’s brother Simon in an interview with Gibson. “He went to a teacher in Golders Green, in North London, who taught him to read music, but he was partially dyslexic and wasn’t actually reading the music—he was mirroring her and remembering everything. He definitely had an innate talent for guitar.”
As much as Kossoff loved the guitar, the classical lessons grated on him, and he gave them up after a few years. His guitar sabbatical was short lived, however. Kossoff caught a performance by Eric Clapton at a John Mayall gig in 1965, and after seeing what Clapton was doing with the blues, his passion for the guitar was reignited. He resumed lessons, this time with noted session musician Colin Falconer.
Clapton became a looming figure in the young guitarist’s mind, and Kossoff went out of his way to emulate Slowhand. Kossoff’s first electric guitar was a cheap gold knockoff model made by the Italian manufacturer Eko that simply wouldn’t do. Looking to upgrade, Kossoff took a job at the venerable London music shop Selmer’s, where he came face to face with some of the day’s leading players.
While manning the floor one day, he happened to meet a hot new prospect fresh off the plane from America: Jimi Hendrix. “He had an odd look about him and smelled strange,” Kossoff recalled in interview with Steven Rosen for Guitar Player in 1976. “He started playing some chord stuff like in ‘Little Wing,’ and the salesman looked at him and couldn’t believe it. Just seeing him really freaked me out. I just loved him to death. He was my hero.”
Kossoff was eventually able to purchase his first Gibson guitar. “I got myself a Gibson Les Paul Junior, which was the cheapest Gibson around at the time,” he said. “Then I had this obsession about getting a ‘real’ Les Paul after seeing Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton play them.” The real Les Paul he eventually acquired was a black 1954 Custom equipped with dual P-90 pickups, an instrument allegedly owned and played by Clapton himself. The guitar became his prized possession, and he spent hours bent over it, mastering the many blues licks and solos he’d come to love.
In the 1960s, England was up to its eyeballs in white-boy blues bands. This was the golden age of the guitar player, when people like Clapton, Beck, and Page became recognized names the world over. But for every Cream, Yardbirds, or Led Zeppelin, there were scores of other groups working the same circuit, trying their damndest to break through. Free was such a band.
Between Paul Rodgers’ wailing, Simon Kirke’s tremendous backbeat, and the steady bass lines of Andy Fraser, Free had more than enough talent. BUT they had another weapon: Paul Kossoff, a player who brought it all together and elevated their music into the stratosphere.
Kossoff didn’t have the dexterity of Clapton, the finesse of Beck, or the bombast of Page, but he had an innate knowledge of how to do more with less, an instinct to make each note matter musically and emotionally.
He started playing in the mid 1960s, his first professional band was Black Cat Bones with drummer Simon Kirke. The band did many supporting shows for Fleetwood Mac. Paul spent hours jamming with Mac founder Peter Green and discussing blues music. Black Cat Bones also played with touring blues piano player Champion Jack Dupree. Both Paul and Simon played on Dupree’s album When You Feel the Feeling.
Paul and Simon next teamed up with Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser to form Free in 1968 with a debut album Tons Of Sobs, followed by their self-titled album in 1969. Their third album, Fire and Water in 1970, produced the massive hit “All Right Now”, with a tour of UK, Europe and Japan. The band split later that year after a 4th album.
Paul and Simon then teamed up with Texan keyboard player John “Rabbit” Bundrick and Japanese bass player Tetsu Yamauchi to release the 1971 album Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit. Free reformed and released the album Free At Last in 1972. Fraser decided to quit, so Tetsu and Rabbit were drafted in for Free’s 1973 album Heartbreaker after which the group disbanded. Paul then accompanied John Martyn on a 1975 tour before assembling a group called Back Street Crawler releasing two albums: The Band Plays On in 1975 and Second Street in 1976.
Kossof’s guitar playing was also much in demand for session work and he contributed solos on several albums including: Jim Capaldi’s Oh How We Danced (1972), Martha Veléz’s Friends and Angels (1969); Blondel’s Mulgrave Street (1974); Uncle Dog’s Old Hat (1972), Michael Gately’s Gately’s Cafe (1971) and Mike Vernon’s 1971 album Bring It Back Home.
He also played on four demos by Ken Hensley, which were eventually released on the 1994 album entitled From Time To Time and three tracks which appear on the CD-only issue of John Martyn’s Live At Leeds album from 1975. An unreleased guitar solo also surfaced in 2006 on the title track to the album All One by David Elliot who recorded with Paul in the 70s. Paul was ranked 51st in Rolling Stone magazine list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
Sadly, Kossoff died from a drug-related heart attack on March 19, 1976 at age 25 during a flight from L.A. to New York, robbing the world of a unique talent. His memory lives on through his music and through the longtime anti-substance abuse efforts of the Paul Kossoff Foundation.
Live Free, Play Hard
Vocalist Paul Rodgers and Kossoff ran in the same circles and had met many times, but hadn’t yet played together. When they finally did in 1968, it was a transformative experience. “The first official time I met him I was playing in a blues club called the Fickle Pickle in Finsbury Park,” Rodgers told Premier Guitar in a recent interview. “I had a blues band at the time called Brown Sugar. We used to do two 45-minute spots with a break in between. Koss came up for the second set and said, ‘I’d like to come for a jam.’ I said, ‘Have you got a guitar with you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got my Les Paul in the car.’
So he brought his guitar in and we jammed—a really heart-stopping jam. We did ‘Stormy Monday Blues,’ B.B. King, and a couple of other things, and it was like time stood still. It was such an amazing thing that when we came off stage I said to him, ‘Man, we have to form a band.’ The seeds of Free were born right there.”
The members of Free were remarkably young when they formed the group. Kossoff was 17, Rodgers and Kirke were 18, and bassist Andy Fraser was a mere 15. Despite this, each member already had a taste for the road after serving in other bands.
“We used to listen to Albert King and B.B. King—especially B.B. King’s Live at the Regal and Albert King’s Born Under a Bad Sign—and we’d say that the two of us made one of them.” — Free vocalist Paul Rodgers
What bound Free more than anything else—especially Kossoff and Rodgers—was their unconditional love of the blues. “We used to listen to Albert King and B.B. King—especially B.B. King’s Live at the Regal and Albert King’s Born Under a Bad Sign—and we’d say that the two of us made one of them,” Rodgers recalls with a laugh. “The way B.B. or Albert would play and then answer themselves, we kind of picked up on that and consciously tried to emulate that and incorporate it into the music we did.”
Still without a band name, the quartet booked their first show at a modest club in London, where one of the kings of the nascent British Blues scene offered to help them out. “Alexis Korner had a band called Free at Last,” Simon Kirke said in The Beat Goes On and On. “When he saw us at the Nag’s Head in Battersea after our first rehearsal he suggested that, but we kind of whittled it down to Free.”
With a little help from Korner, Free inked a deal with Island Records. Their first album, Ton of Sobs, was in the canwithin six months of the band’s formation. For the sessions, Kossoff brought out a duo of Les Pauls, including a now-fabled late-era sunburst model, which was later stripped and painted black, as well as a black three-pickup custom. Along with the likes of Clapton, Page, and Keith Richards, Kossoff did much to popularize the defunct ’burst line of Les Pauls.
Tons of Sobs was recorded on a modest budget of £800 and was in some respects a recorded version of the band’s live set. “In those days, and particularly for the first album, we didn’t do what became the normal and block out a studio for a month at a time,” Rodgers recalls. “When we went in, we’d drop in, do a couple of tracks, and we’d have some band from South Ealing or somewhere peeping in the door going, ‘Are you guys finished yet?’”
After completing their first album, Free went on the road to try and make a name for themselves. Dwarfed by a column of Marshall stacks—Super Lead heads and 4×12 cabinets with bass speakers installed—Kossoff managed to make up for his diminutive height through sheer volume.
In addition to lead guitar duties, Kossoff was given another important task. “None of the rest of the band members had a driving license,” explains Rodgers. “Paul had started young and he had one, so he got the gig of driving us. He would drive us two or three hundred miles, do a couple of shows, and drive back. I used to sit in the front with him just to keep him awake.”
Not long after Tons of Sobs was released, the band was back in the studio working on its second record, the self-titled Free. This time the group was produced by the president of the label, Chris Blackwell. Things were much tighter, with the main songwriting duo of Rodgers and Fraser imposing a stricter framework.
Like the band’s debut, Free didn’t do much on the charts. Almost immediately after they finished recording, the group resumed its breakneck touring schedule, supporting the supergroup Blind Faith on its only American tour. Kossoff and Clapton became quite close, discussing the finer points of their respective techniques and even trading a couple of guitars. Clapton exchanged a 1959 Gibson Les Paul for Kossoff’s mid-’50s Custom. It was on this tour that Clapton supposedly tried to cop Kossoff’s famed vibrato technique, a tale confirmed by Rodgers. “I wasn’t privy to the actual conversation, but they did talk vibrato, that’s for sure,” he says.
As the ’60s gave way to the ’70s, Free reached a tipping point. They’d recorded two albums, experienced modest success, and performed a truly staggering number of live shows. But the band began to wonder where they would ever actually make it.
Then in June of 1970, Fire and Water hit the shelves with the force of an atomic blast. The record became Free’s breakthrough, led by the single “All Right Now,” which reached No. 2 on the U.K. charts and No. 4 in America. Just two months later, Free played the biggest gig of their career in front of an estimated 600,000 people as part of England’s Isle of Wight Festival.
With greater success came new tensions. Feeling pressure to prove that their success wasn’t a fluke, the band rushed to record its next album, Highway. Compared to Fire and Water, Highway was a commercial disappointment, only reaching No. 41 on the U.K. charts and 190 in America. Meanwhile, Kossoff, depressed by the death of his hero Jimi Hendrix, began self-medicating with Quaaludes.
When Free decided to call it quits in 1971, Kossoff took it harder than anyone. “What I think we lacked was management,” posits Rodgers. “We lacked an older, wiser head to say, ‘Okay you guys, you’re under a lot of stress, you’ve done too many shows, you have this huge success all of a sudden, you need to take a break.’ We didn’t do that of course, and we just kind of exploded apart. We had been together for such a long time, living so close, seeking success, and when we finally reached it, there was so much pressure.”
After the breakup Kossoff collaborated with Free bandmate Kirke, along with Japanese bassist Tetsu Yamauchi and keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick to release Kossoff/ Kirke/Tetsu/Rabbit. By this time Kossoff was in bad shape, as was apparent to all who knew him. “It was such a shame—he seemed to go down so fast,” recalls Rodgers. “I was mortified that the split-up of the band had affected him so deeply. He was almost gone to us at that point, because he was sort of off in this other world. It was such a shame because we all loved him so much, and we immediately dropped everything we were doing to try and put the band back together again so that we could put Koss back together.”
The band managed to record a few albums during its brief resurgence: 1971’s Free Live and the studio efforts Free at Last and Heartbreaker in ’72 and ’73, respectively. Their tours, however, were hampered by Kossoff’s unreliability. The band called it quits for good in 1973.
Rodgers says the group was never able to recover from the turmoil of the earlier dissolution. “Splitting up was big news. It was official, and it was headline news: ‘Free Splits Up.’ All of a sudden, the spell was broken between us, and when we got back together again it just wasn’t the same. It was hard to rekindle what we had prior to all that.”
Kossoff immediately began working on his first solo record, Back Street Crawler, which featured guest appearances by his former Free bandmates as well as Alan White of Yes. The record was widely acclaimed but didn’t live up to the popularity of Free’s music. Kossoff then formed a band named Back Street Crawler and released The Band Plays On in 1975.
As the years wore on, Kossoff’s drug dependency worsened. “The big problem with Koss was he couldn’t say no, and there were always people ready to take advantage,” Back Street Crawler manager Mike Green explained in an interview with Get Ready To Rock. “We were recording the first Back Street Crawler album at Olympic Studios, and every night I had to search everywhere, including the toilets, to make sure nobody had left any little presents for him. But no matter how thoroughly you searched there were times when he would still manage to get out of it. He wasn’t addicted to anything in particular—he would take anything he could get his hands on.”
Back Street Crawler embarked on a headlining tour of the U.K. in 1975, but it was cancelled midway through when Kossoff developed a debilitating stomach ulcer. While getting treatment, Kossoff suffered a massive heart attack. It took the doctors 30 minutes to revive him.
Once out of the hospital, Kossoff went back on the road with his band, which subsequently recorded another album titled 2nd Street in 1976. In his weakened state, Kossoff was no longer able to perform to the level everyone expected, so most of guitar parts were played by session guitarist W.G. “Snuffy” Walden.
All Right Now
Shortly after the release of 2nd Street, Back Street Crawler undertook a U.S. tour, which was again hampered by Kossoff’s condition. A bright spot occurred when Kossoff bumped into his former Free bandmates Kirke and Rodgers, now members of the supergroup Bad Company. “He was in town playing with his group when we were in LA,” remembers Rogers. “We went to visit him and had a big jam. I didn’t realize that he was in such bad shape at that point, because he seemed together. They told me afterwards that he pulled himself together for that night. That was the last time I saw him.”
On March 19, 1976, Kossoff boarded a plane in L.A. bound for New York, but he reach his destination. Midflight, Kossoff experienced a cerebral and pulmonary edema and died at the age of 25. “I was on tour with Bad Company when I heard the news,” says Rodgers. “It was just devastating.” Kossoff was laid to rest at Golders Green Crematorium, his headstone marked with a simple epitaph: “All Right Now.”
Kossoff’s father David set up the Paul Kossoff Foundation to raise awareness about substance abuse. Rodgers purchased one of Kossoff’s ’59 Gibson Les Pauls and later auctioned the instrument, donating the proceeds to the Foundation.
Gibson honored Kossoff in 2012 with a limited run of replicas of his later Free-era/Back Street Crawler Les Paul, debuted at NAMM by blues/rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa. “I inadvertently introduced Arthur Ram [current owner of the Paul Kossoff guitar] and Pat Foley [Head of Gibson Artist Relations] at a gig in Newcastle in 2009,” Bonamassa says. “I was just happy to help get the name Paul Kossoff out there.”
Paul Kossoff wasn’t the flashiest guitar player on the planet, and in the years since his passing, his name has been dwarfed by those of some of his contemporaries. He may not have been the fastest shredder, but he’s certainly among those legendary players who become one with the instrument. “One of the great things about Koss was that he played every note like his life depended on it,” declared Rodgers. “He was so passionate about his playing.” That passion shone through on record as well as onstage. It’s what set Paul Kossoff apart, and is the reason he should never be forgotten.
July 3, 1971 – Jim Morrison was born James Douglas “Jim” Morrison on December 8, 1943 in Melbourne, Florida
Paris, France. July 2, 1971, early evening. Jim Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson went to the cinema to see Pursued, a western starring Robert Mitchum. At another theater, Jim Morrison sat alone, watching a documentary called Death Valley. Across town, at the Rock ’n’ Roll Circus nightclub, Jim Morrison scored some heroin and OD’d in the bathroom. At the same time, Jim Morrison walked the streets of Paris and shot up with some junkies on skid row. Meanwhile, at Orly Airport, Jim Morrison boarded a plane for an unknown destination.