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.
Along with a number of other young Tulsa musicians, Cale moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, where he found employment as a studio engineer. While living in Los Angeles he cut a demo single in 1966 (in those days professional demos were actual 45 rpm vinyl singles) with Liberty Records of his composition “After Midnight”. He distributed copies of this single to his Tulsa musician friends living in Los Angeles, many of whom were successfully finding work as session musicians. Although he managed to find a regular spot at the Whisky a Go Go (which is where, according to his own testimony, Elmer Valentine suggested he call himself J.J. Cale to avoid confusion with John Cale of the Velvet Underground he found little success as a recording artist and, not being able to make enough money as a studio engineer, he sold his guitar and returned to Tulsa, where he joined a band with Tulsa musician Don White.
In 1970, it came to his attention that Eric Clapton had recorded a cover of “After Midnight” on his debut album in 1970. As a result of this, it was suggested to Cale that he should take advantage of this publicity and cut a record of his own. His first album, Naturally, established his style, described by Los Angeles Times writer Richard Cromelin as a “unique hybrid of blues, folk and jazz, marked by relaxed grooves and Cale’s fluid guitar and laconic vocals. His early use of drum machines and his unconventional mixes lend a distinctive and timeless quality to his work and set him apart from the pack of Americana roots music purists.”
In his 2003 biography Shakey, Neil Young remarked, “Of all the players I ever heard, it’s gotta be Hendrix and JJ Cale who are the best electric guitar players.” In the 2005 documentary To Tulsa and Back: On Tour with J.J. Cale, Cale’s guitar style is characterized by Eric Clapton as “really, really minimal”, and he states precisely, “it’s all about finesse”.
His biggest U.S. hit single, “Crazy Mama”, peaked at #22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1972. In the 2005 documentary film To Tulsa and Back, Cale recounts the story of being offered the opportunity to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand to promote the song, which would have moved it higher on the charts. Cale declined when told he could not bring his band to the taping and would be required to lip-sync the words. Though he deliberately avoided the limelight (being temperamentally averse to celebrity) his influence as a musical artist has been widely acknowledged by figures such as Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Eric Clapton who described him as “one of the most important artists in the history of rock”. He is considered to be one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, a loose genre drawing on blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz.
Many songs written by Cale have been recorded by other artists, including “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton; “Call Me the Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayer, Johnny Cash and Bobby Bare; “Clyde” by Waylon Jennings and Dr. Hook; “I Got The Same Old Blues” by Captain Beefheart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Freddie King; and “Magnolia” by Beck, Lucinda Williams and Iron and Wine Jose Feliciano and Ben Bridwell.
Cale often acted as his own producer, engineer and session player. His vocals, sometimes whispery, would be buried in the mix. He attributed his unique sound to being a recording mixer and engineer, saying, “Because of all the technology now you can make music yourself and a lot of people are doing that now. I started out doing that a long time ago and I found when I did that I came up with a unique sound.”
In 2008 he, along with Clapton, received a Grammy Award for their album, The Road to Escondido.
J.J. Cale died at the age of 74 in La Jolla, California, on July 26, 2013, after suffering a heart attack.
June 4, 2013 – Joseph Edward “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 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, 16 went gold and platinum.
In the early to mid-’60s, he was playing with bands that opened shows for the Rolling Stones, Dave Clark 5, The Shangri-Las, Lee Dorsey, Lou Christie, Chad and Jeremy, Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners, among others, and a stint playing drums backing up Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars featuring acts such as the Supremes.
Covington settled in Los Angeles late 1966 and was quickly discovered and produced by famed producer/songwriter Kim Fowley as a singing drummer. The single released was a cover of The Who’s “Boris The Spider” with “I’ll Do Better Next Time” on the B side (the first song Covington ever wrote). He co-formed several bands in Los Angeles during that period. Tsong with Mickey Rooney Jr., and a yet-to-be-named band with Papa John Creach, Jimmy Greenspoon and Joe Schermie.
Papa John later was brought in by Joey to Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship and went on to a long solo recording career. Jimmy & Joe went on to become members of Three Dog Night.
A member of Jefferson Airplane, Joey at first co-formed Hot Tuna with Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady in late 1968 while Grace Slick was undergoing and recovering from throat node surgery. With Hot Tuna they opened shows for the Airplane. In early 1969 Joey was playing in both Hot Tuna and augmenting, then ultimately replacing Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden.
Covington appeared on their chart topping albums “Volunteers”, “Bark” and “Long Long John Silver”. Covington co-wrote Jefferson Airplane’s 1971 hit single “Pretty As You Feel” that reached number 60 on the charts and the 1976 Jefferson Starship hit single “With Your Love” that reached number 12 on the Billboard 100. He also recorded with members of Jefferson Airplane on their solo projects including Paul Kantner’s 1970 Jefferson Starship album “Blows Against The Empire”, Papa John Creach’s first solo album in 1971, and “Sunfighter” an album by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick released in November of 1971. It was Joey Covington who discovered violinist John Creach, gave him the nickname Papa, and brought him into the Jefferson Airplay family in 1970.
After leaving the Airplane in 1973 Covington released his solo album Fat Fandango and founded the San Francisco Allstars with former members of New Riders of the Purple Sage and other bands. He toured with the Allstars during the 1980s and 1990s. As a session player Covington recorded with Peter Kaukonen, Kim Fowley, Nick Gravenites, Juan Gabriel, Cristian Castro, Jaci Velasquez, and Jay Gordon. In 2006 he composed several songs for the artist Lauren and produced her album “Hideout Is a Crook’s Best Friend”.
The Early Years
Polka Bands and Strippers in Johnstown
Joey Covington was born Joseph Edward Michno on June 27, 1945 in Johnston, Pennsylvania. The third of six children he grew up near Johnston in the very small town of East Conemaugh. His father Louis had been a minor league baseball player projected to play in the majors before he was drafted into World War II. After the war, Louis became a truck driver and married Elizabeth (Betty) Sisco, an aspiring country singer. Joey Michno began playing drums at age 10 teaching himself by listening to the music of jazz percussionists Joe Morello, Cozy Cole, Sandy Nelson, Candido and Preston Epps. During his years at East Conemaugh High School he played tom toms in the marching band, learned rudimental drumming, and became the drum sergeant.
He began performing professionally in 1958 at age 13 playing drums in polka bands at VFW Lodges. As he was underage his mother and father had to chaperon his gigs. Without his parent’s knowledge he played drums in a strip joint called the Airway Club in Johnston, Pa. He beat on his Tom-toms while the strippers did their bump and grinds. At age 15 Joey decided he wanted make a career as a professional drummer.
While in high school Covington joined the Johnston surf rock band called the Vibra-Sonics. The Vibra-Sonics were comprised of George Tweedy (lead), Bob Tweedy (rhythm), Bill Sabo (2nd lead, rhythm), Joe Colner (bass) and Joey Michno (drums and vocals). They won several battles of the bands and opened a show for Simon and Garfunkel. The Vibra-Sonics played shows throughout Western Pennsylvania in the early 1960s. In 1963 they lost all of their instruments when the Conneaut Lake Park nightspot that they played at, the Cowshed, burnt to the ground. They recorded a single for Ideal Records. Ideal was a Pittsburgh based label owned by Augie Bernardo that also released singles by the El-Reys, the Stereos, John Harrison & the Hustlers, and the Four Challengers. The Vibra-Sonic’s released the single “Drag Race” / “Thunder Storm” on Ideal Records in 1964. On Drag Race, surf song reminiscent of the garage band classic “Wipeout”, Joey played rapid fire snare. Both songs from the single have been reissued on two surf music compilations.
Graduating from high school at age 18 Michno faced the Vietnam era draft. The Navy offered him a chance to play tympani with a Navy band if he enlisted. But a terrible car accident, one night after a gig, took away that chance. In December of 1964 the Vibro-Sonics were returning from a gig in Latrobe, Pa when one of their cars was struck by another car driven by a drunk driver. Joseph Colner the 16 year old bassist was killed. Joey Michno suffered multiple fractures of his pelvis, right leg, and three toes. The driver of the car that struck the Vibro-Sonics was arrested for involuntary manslaughter, speeding, driving without a permit, and for fleeing the accident. Covington spent three months in a pelvic sling before he went home to his parent’s house to learn to walk again. His recovery took six months.
On the Road to Rock Stardom
In 1965 at age 20, Covington left home for New York City after his father gave him an ultimatum. Louis told Joey “son, if you’re gonna be a rock star, you’ve got a month to take your drums and get out on the road, or, if you’re gonna live at home, you’d better get a job and bring some money into the house.” Joey took on his father’s challenge. He took to the road in search of a professional drumming job. Joey grabbed a hundred bucks, packed up his grey marine Ludwig drum kit and bought a one-way bus ticket to New York City.
In New York Joey went to the Peppermint Lounge to see Joey D of the Starliters who wrote the hit song “Peppermint Twist”. Michno walked up to Joey D, introduced himself, and asked where he could find a gig. Joey D told him to contact his agent Sid Green. The next day Michno called on Mr. Green saying Joey D sent him. Green gave him a card and said I’ll call you if anything comes up. But Joey persisted. He told Green “I can’t go back to Johnstown, my father will make me get another kind of job, and I’m a great drummer, and I’m gonna be a star, and I’m not leaving your office until you find me a gig!.” Joey pulled out his Vibra-Sonics single and had Mr. Green listen to it. Green liked his fast drumming but told Joey to come back in a few years. He offered to buy Joey a ticket back to Johnstown. Joey was about to leave when the night club singer and pianist Danny Apollinar came into see Mr. Green. Appollinar told Sid that two members of his trio just quit and he needed a new drummer and bass player in a hurry for a gig in Fort Lauderdale in two days. Mr. Green said Danny I have a drummer right here who can play anything. Appollinar hired him on the spot for $200 a week plus room and board. Green waved his commission and told Joey to go be a star. After two days of rehearsals Joey Michno went on tour with Appollinar. With that experience he got more calls and went on the road in 1965 playing shows with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars, the Shangri’la’s, Billy Stewart, the Supremes, Donald Jenkins and the Delighters and the Shirelles.
In 1966 Sonny Di’Nunzio, leader of the Pittsburgh band the Fenways, called Joey offering him a steady gig, He remembered Joey from the Vibra-Sonics battle of the bands shows. The Fenways were the hot band in Pittsburgh in 1966. They had several hit singles on Pittsburgh radio including “ Be Careful Little Girl,” (1964), ”Nothing to Offer You” (1964), The Number One Song In The Country” (1964) and “Walk” (1965). They were regulars on Terry Lee’s Channel 11 Come Alive TV dance show and had opened for the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five. Joey joined the Fenways playing with them seven days a week at the Staircase, Mancini’s, and other Pittsburgh area clubs. They opened shows for the Shangri-La’s, Lee Dorsey, Lou Christie, Chad and Jeremy, and the Skyliners. Joey recorded four singles with the Fenways in 1966 that were released on Nick Cenci’s Co&Ce label. The singles were “I’m A Mover” / “Satisfied” and “A Go Go” / “I Move Around”
Go West Young Man
In the spring of 1967 Joey’s musician friend Louie called asking if he’d like to ride out to Los Angeles in his new Mercedes. Seeking a new adventure Joey hit the road again with his drum kit in tow. They cruised down Route 66 making it to Sunset Boulevard in four days. In L.A. Joey Michno changed his professional name to Joey Covington.
Looking for work at the L.A. musician’s union hall, Joey met another Western Pennsylvanian musician violinist John Creach. They put together a band and played a few gigs before Creach found work playing jazz at the Parision Room. Working with producer Kim Fowley Joey record several songs at a solo artist in 1967. He sang, wrote several songs, recorded his own arrangement of the Who’s “Boris the Spider”. Covington formed a band with pianist Jimmy Greenspoon who later became one of the founding members of Three Dog Night. When Greenspoon moved on Covington joined with Mickey Rooney Jr. to found the band Tsong that signed with MGM Records. Covington co-wrote two songs “Let’s Be Friends” and the Brit Pop single “Like We Were Before” that were released on the MGM album “Song” in 1970. During this time Covington dated Art Linkletter’s daughter Dianne.
Flying High with the Jefferson Airplane
In 1968 Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane heard Covington play at an L.A. club and invited him to meet the Airplane at their next Whiskey A Go Go gig. Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady invited Covington to jam with them at RCA Studios in L.A. Covington continued to jam with Jorma and Jack in L.A. The trio of Jorma, Jack and Covington played their first live shows together in L.A. during October 1968. Those appearances led to the formation of Hot Tuna in 1969.
Marty Balin contacted Covington in 1969 asking him to come to San Francisco to audition for Jefferson Airplane. Covington won the audition and moved to San Francisco. During 1969 he played Hot Tuna gigs with Jorma Kaukonen. He also played Jefferson Airplane shows drumming alongside the original drummer Spencer Dryden. Covington made his first appearance as the lone the Airplane drummer on Aug 2 1969 at the Pop Festival in Atlantic City. He missed the chance to play with the Airplane at Woodstock when he broke his leg. Joey made his first recordings with the Jefferson Airplane playing percussion on two tracks of their November 1969 release “Volunteers” that reached number 13 on the Billboard charts in 1970. In December of 1969 Covington performed with the Jefferson Airplane at the infamous Altamont Free Concert. Headlined by the Stones the concert drew 300,000 but was marred by one murder and three accidental deaths.
Spencer Dryden, the Jefferson Airplane’s original drummer, was fired from the band in February 1970 by a unanimous vote of the other members. Burned out by acid and Altamont, Dryden took some time off before he joined the New Riders of the Purple Sage in 1972. The Jefferson Airplane sent out a press release in April of 1970 announcing Joey Covington as their new drummer. He toured the U.S. and Europe with the Airplane in 1970.
Covington invited his friend Papa John Creach to sit in with the Airplane for a concert at Winterland in San Francisco on October 5, 1970. The Airplane members loved Papa John’s playing and made him a permanent member of the Airplane and Hot Tuna. Joey helped Papa John put together his first solo album by selecting the songs, hiring the musicians, playing drum, and writing the Papa John top 40 single “Janitor Drives a Cadillac”.
Blows Against the Empire
In December of 1970 Covington played drums on Paul Kantner’s “Blows Against the Empire” album that was the forerunner of Jefferson Starship. David Crosby. Graham Nash, Grace Slick, Jack Cassidy and several members of the Grateful Dead appeared on the album.
Barking Up the Right Tree
Covington recorded with the Airplane in the summer of 1971 on their album “Bark”. It was the first release on the band’s own label Grunt Records. Covington co-wrote and sang lead vocals on the single “Pretty As You Feel” which was the last Jefferson Airplane song to reach the Billboard 100. Covington also wrote and sang vocals on the whimsical track “Thunk”. He played drums on all eleven of the tracks. Bark was another commercial success reaching number 11 on the Billboard charts.
In 1972 Covington began to work on outside recording projects lessening his role with the Airplane. He recorded the album Black Kangaroo with Jorma Kaukonen’s brother Peter. Covington played on two tracks of the Airplane’s July 1972 album release “Long John Silver”. Joey play live concerts with the Airplane into 1973.
Wanting to work on his own projects Covington left the Airplane in 1973. He released a solo album entitled “Fat Fandango” on Grunt Records in 1973. Joey wrote all of the songs on the album and produced it. The Allmusic Guide reviewer wrote: “Fat Fandango by Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey Covington is a major revelation, a wonderful artifact from the day when record labels allowed certain bands their own imprint and side musicians a chance to fully express their artistry. ….This is a great, lost party album”.
Covington formed the San Francisco All Stars in 1978 with Steve Love of the New Riders of the Purple Sage and Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina. They toured the U.S. but never released any recordings. As who’s who of musicians and movie actors have been members of the All Stars including Slash, Spencer Davis, Rick Danko, Mike Finnegan, Skunk Baxter, Billy Roberts, Spencer Dryden, Paul Shortino, Jimmy Crespo, James Gurley, Brian May, Albert Collins, Joe Shermie, Mike Bloomfield, Fuzzy Knight, Joe Chambers, Bruce Willis, Kiefer Sutherland, Max Gail, Jr., and Gary Busey.
Joey Covington has composed songs recorded by Juan Gabriel, Pandora, Jaci Velasquez, and Cristian Castro and has played drums on records of Nick Gravenites Blue Star and Jay Gorden’s Jaywalking.
In the Pittsburgh Music Hall of Fame
The Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. But the Hall of Fame did not include Joey Covington saying he was not an original member. The Hall ignored the fact that Grace Slick was not an original member. They also ignored the fact the Covington recorded on three of the Airplane’s albums, wrote the Airplane’s last hit single, toured extensively with the band, recorded on solo projects with Paul Kanter and Grace Slick, brought Papa John Creach into the band, and was one of the founders of Hot Tuna. Pittsburgh Music History recognizes the achievements and talent of Joey Covington. From humble beginnings playing VFW polka gigs in Johnston, he took on his father’s challenge to earn a living as a drummer, went on the road and was invited by Marty Balin to become an important contributing member of one of the seminal rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s.
Joey Covington died in a car crash in Palm Springs, Calif.on June 4th 2013 at the age of 67. According to the Desert Sun newspaper, Covington, who was not wearing a seat belt, crashed into a retaining wall at a highway curve. His car flew off the road hitting an elevated highway. Joey’s wife believed that a heart attack or stroke caused him to drive off the road. He died on the scene.
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.
Many people find that the music they listened to during a formative period in their lives has become their music, and they no longer feel the urge to keep up with what’s new, year in and year out. Miller, too, went on to college, got jobs in the non-music world, got married, started a family—but somehow he never stopped finding ways to play, and listen to, and talk about music… He’s had two major bands—Game Theory in the eighties and The Loud Family in the nineties—and he put out more than a dozen albums. Yet Miller once said of his failure to capture major success: “I’m utterly serious about music. I just respect the buying public’s judgment that it’s not what I should do for a living.” So instead he became a rather successful database programmer.
Sometime after the release of the Loud Family and Anton Barbeau album What If It Works? in 2006, Miller began to stay up after putting his daughters to bed to make CDs from the annual lists he’d maintained since his youth. As someone who never hesitates to set the bar a little higher, he conceived of using this CD-making project as a springboard to an even more ambitious idea, one that could connect with a like-minded audience. He approached Sue Trowbridge and Joe Mallon, his longtime friends and supporters through the Loud Family website and 125 Records, to suggest a project to write about each of the last 50 years in popular music… He called the new blog “Music: What Happened?” and published the first list (for 1966) on the website on May 26, 2008. Over the course of the next 16 months, he responded to requests for all 50 years, ranging from 1957 to 2006. The publication of this book draws the 50 blog entries together (plus three bonus years: 2007, 2008, and 2009) in a single, remarkable volume.
A revealing yet veiled observation Miller expressed in a 2011 interview read: “Predictably these days, I write fragments, but never finish whole songs. I’m looking for an opportunity to put out one more album before I’m too decrepit. I got to the point of really dreading self-promotion that doesn’t pay off that much, but the world keeps changing in ways that are mostly tragic for socializing music, but in some ways leave room for my position, which is it’s a waste of time if fewer than around a hundred people like it, but no particular advantage if a million more people than the first hundred like it. Hardly anyone actually gets paid anymore anyway, right?”
On April 15, 2013 Scott Miller committed suicide.
Music fans the world over were stunned and saddened by the news of the death of Scott Miller, the brilliant singer-songwriter who fronted Game Theory, Loud Family and Alternative Learning, better known as ALRN. Miller, a Sacramento-born musician, was considered an influential force in the ’80s- and ’90s-era Davis and San Francisco music scenes.
• Nan Becker, a keyboardist in ALRN and an early incarnation of Game Theory, remembered her late friend with admiration.
“I’ve known Scott since I was 10 years old, and he was my brother’s [drummer Jozef Becker from Game Theory, Loud Family and Thin White Rope] best friend,” she said. “He followed music like some people would follow baseball, which he also did. He had the most incredible mind that I have ever encountered.”
• The bands that Miller started are a testament to not only of his encyclopedic knowledge of music, but his love of literature as well. The Game Theory album Lolita Nationreferences Vladimir Nabokov, and he claimed T.S. Eliot and James Joyce as his two favorite writers.
That affinity made its way into Miller’s music. A Rolling Stone review of Lolita Nation likened it to “Big Star with lyrics written by Thomas Pynchon”—a near-perfect encapsulation of the sound of Game Theory and Loud Family. (To hear Miller’s work, all of Game Theory’s albums are available to stream at www.loudfamily.com/game.html.)
In 2006, Miller took a hiatus from music making after the release of What If It Works?—a collaboration between the Loud Family and Sacramento expat Anton Barbeau—and turned to writing a blog. His posts were wildly entertaining and had a huge following of musicians and fans. There, Miller reflected on the songs he loved and wrote about them in a style that was part confessional journal and part music critic, choosing a handful of songs from a specific year, ranging from 1957 to 2009, and explaining why he loved those songs, pointing out details that only deep listener and a lifelong fan would hear. Soon, he was approached to compile these lists into a book, and in 2010, Music: What Happened? (125 Records, $15) was released to widespread acclaim.
Sacramento writer and musician Jackson Griffith says Miller was as talented a critic as he was a musician. “I think he was fucking brilliant,” said Griffith. “His insights were completely original. He basically wrote what he thought. That’s not always the case,” Griffith added.
“With music critics, a lot of people are always looking over their shoulder to see what someone else is saying. I read one of his pieces—it was about a Kanye West and Jay-Z record—it was quite droll, and it seemed like he was giving props to them, but if you read in between the lines, it was like, ’Whoa!’ I thought it was very well-done.”
Becker, now residing in Wisconsin, said: “I’ve admired Scott’s music since I was about 19 years old, and it still blows me away.”“He was an amazing songwriter, an amazing lyricist. … He had the simplest ideas that could express the profoundest thoughts,” she said. “He was wonderful at being able to string words together in an original way.”
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.
After leaving Iron Maiden, he briefly played in the French group Trust, thus switching places with McBrain, and briefly with the American band Alcatrazz. He was featured in the short-lived NWOBHM supergroup Gogmagog which also included ex-Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno and future Maiden guitarist Janick Gers.
He also had a band known as Clive Burr’s Escape. He then joined Dee Snider in his post-Twisted Sister outfit Desperado, and performed with British bands Elixir and Praying Mantis in the 1990s, but did not become a member of either.
Clive died in his sleep, with complications from multiple sclerosis on March 12, 2013 at age 56.
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, 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 Pappalardi organized 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.
After Mountain he performed regularly with the Red Onion Jazz band and his love of jazz and middle eastern rhythms lead him to join the musical group, Taksim, a Middle-Eastern heavily improvisational jazz group that played in complicated and odd-meter time signatures that boggle the Western mind. He stayed with Taksim for over twenty years after which Knight then returned to traditional jazz and worked in specialty engineering (as a door engineer), and as a songwriter, author and part-time musician.
In the mid-1990s, Knight left New York City and returned to Woodstock. In November 1999, he was elected to a seat on the Woodstock Town Board. He was re-elected to a second term in 2003. In 2007 Knight chose not to seek a third four-year term, instead choosing to focus on his personal life including several music projects.
Knight died January 19, 2013 in New York of complications from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 77.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.