Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Some figures from the early years of Rock and Roll pass on

Bobby Robinson ~ 94 ~ Record producer and owner of the first black owned rock and roll labels Fire, Red Robin, Enjoy and Fury Records. Produced Elmore James, Big Boy Crudup, Gladys Knight, Buster Brown, Tarheel Slim, Lee Dorsey, The Shirelles unlike many figures from the early years of Rock and R & B such as Barry Gordy, Sam Phillips or the Chess Brothers Robinson kept touch with changing trends and later produced Kool Mo Dee and Grandmaster Flash.

Randy Wood ~ Founder of Dot Records; 1950's & 60's label for rock, pop, jazz and country artists like Roy Head, Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs, Tiny Hill & The Hilltoppers, Jimmy Rodgers, Louis Prima, Pat Boone, The Surfaris, The Chantays, Gary Usher, Mac Wiseman, Nervous Norvus, Roy Clark, Sanford Clark, Mac Curtis, Lonnie Donnegan, Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Kerouac, Count Basie, The Mills Bros, Robin Luke, The Four Lads ~94

Bobby Poe ~ 77 ~ A 1950's rockabilly singer who had a couple of minor hits like "Rock and Roll record girl" and an early version of "The Fool" which are much sought after by collectors. However he had a bigger impact when he discovered a talented black singer and pianist named Big Al Dowling to his band the Poe Kats making them one of the first bi-racial bands. Poe encouraged Dowling's obvious talents even sharing singing duties, a remarkably generous gesture for a band leader. Dowling would go on to a respected solo career with Stax Records. The Poe Kats would then go on to back up Wanda Jackson on some of her early singles. As tastes changed Poe would go on to a successful career as a music publisher and record label scout in Nashville.

Bobby Poe & The PoeCats (with Big Al Dowling) ~ :Rock and Roll record girl";

Jet Harris ~ 71 ~ Bassist with The Shadows. Easily the most important British group in the late 1950's and early 60's both as an instrumental group with numerous hit singles such as "Apache" and as backing band for the equally successful singer Cliff Richard. The Shadows have been cited as a major influence on literally every figure in British rock and roll from the Beatles and Stones to Dr.Feelgood and the Jam and their importance simply can not be over estimated. They would also be a major influence internationally on the surf and instrumental scene through such groups as The Ventures.

The Shadows ~ "Apache";

George Louvin ~ 83 ~ Along with his brother Ira, one half The Louvin Brothers, a popular country singing duo of the 1950's and early 60's. George was the shorter guitar playing one while Ira was taller mandolin playing tenor. One of such singing brother duos such as the Delmore Brothers, Stanley Brothers, Lilly Brothers, Whitstine Brothers and Bailey Brothers who provided a link between the older sounds of bluegrass and the newer more modern honky tonk and rockabilly and would reach it's peak with the Everly Brothers. The Louvins would score several hits into the the 60's ranging from secular and gospel and including the concept album "Satan is real" which is now a valuable collector's item. Changing tastes and the drinking problems of brother Ira and his combative personality led to The Louvin's breakup followed by Ira's death in a car crash in 1965. The quieter George kept a lower profile after that but would still occasionally record and appear at the Opry ell into his 70's.

The Louvin Brothers ~ "I don't believe you've met my baby";

Johnny Preston ~ 77 ~ A country and rockabilly singer who was discovered by J.P. Richardson (AKA The Big Bopper) who wrote and produced the song "Running Bear" which would become a massive hit in 1959, almost surpassing The Bopper's own hit "Chantilly Lace". The Bopper and his friend George Jones also provided the back up war whoops on the single. Unfortunately The Bopper then died in the same plane crash as Buddy Holly and Richie Valens and while Preston would go on to have more hits none would come close to the same success.

Johnny Preston ~ "Billy Boy";

Mack Self ~ 81 ~ 1950's rockabilly singer who recorded for Sun Records without scoring any real hits although is records would later become popular with rockabilly collectors and he had a career after the rockabilly revival in the 1970's. He also recorded a number of country records.

Ferlin Husky ~ 85 ~ A country singer from the 1960's who had a huge crossover hit in the mid 1950's with "The wings of a dove" a rousing gospel ballad with a catchy finger snapping chorus. Husky would score country hits into the 1960's but his rather older straight laced image, sporting conservative string ties and jackets with short hair and pencil mustache were dangerously out of step with the changing tastes of rock and roll and he retreated back to Nashville and the Opry where he continued to perform into his 70's.

Ferlin Husky ~ "The wings of a dove";

Billy Grammer ~ Honky Tonk singer who recorded the original versions of "Detroit City" (by Mel Tillis) and "Gotta travel on" which became a crossover hit in 1959, later covered by Buddy Holly, Boxcar Willie, Kingston Trio, Chet Atkins, Seekers, Skeets MacDonald, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Lennon Sisters among others. ~ 85

Billy Grammer ~ "Gotta travel on";

Jerry Mayo ~ Trumpet player for Freddie and the Bellboys, one of the earliest non rockabilly white rock groups from the 1950's. Had a hit with a version of "Hound dog" and "Giddy up a Ding Dong", appeared in Alan Freed tours and movies. Freddie Bell died in 2008 ~ 76

Freddie Bell and the Bellboys ~ "We're gonna teach you to rock";

Carl Gardner ~ Vocalist w/ The Coasters, the greatest of all R&B vocal groups between the Doo Wop and Motowm eras with hits like "Charlie Brown", "Yakkety Yak", "Poison Ivy", "Along came Jones", "Searchin'", "I'm a hog for you" later covered by the likes of The Hollies, Monkees, Dr. Feelgood, Deja Voodoo, The Sadies, Leon Russell, Bad Company, Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Commander Cody, The Count Bishops and more ~ 83

The Coasters and Del Shannon ~ Searchin';

Gladys Horton ~ 65 ~ Lead singer with the Marvelettes, one of the early Motown girl groups who had a number of hits in the 1960's starting with "Please Mr. Postman" and following it up with a string of others including the much covered "I'll keep on holding on". Unfortunately for them while Horton was a better singer than Diana Ross she lacked Ross' sense of style, not to mention her all consuming ambition and when Motown boss Barry Gordy decided to focus all his efforts on promoting Ross and the Supremes the Marvelettes were pushed aside and faded away eventually breaking up.

The Marvelettes ~ "Don't mess with Bill";

Nicholas Ashford ~ R&B singer and songwiter with his wife Valerie Simpson for Motown in the 1960's to the 1980's with hits for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Marvelettes, Fifth Dimension, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Shirelles, Rufus, Chaka Kahn, Brothers Johnson, Teddy Pendergrass and even Ronnie Milsap as well as scoring hits as a singing duo ~ 70

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell ~ "Ain't no mountain high enough";

Kathy Kirby ~ British 1960's pop singer and blonde sex symbol with hit version of "Secret Love" (real name Kathleen O'Rourke) ~ 72

Kathy Kirby ~ "Secret Love";

John Walker ~ Bassist and singer with 1960's melodramatic pop group The Walker Brothers, who were not actually brothers and none of whom, were actually named Walker. Originally from the Los Angeles rock scene, they moved to London and recorded a series of increasingly melodramatic singles the biggest of which was "The sun ain't gonna shine anymore". B that time John had been largely supplanted as lead singer by the deeper voiced crooner Scott Walker.

The Walker Brothers ~ "The sun ain't gonna shine anymore";

Jerry Ragovoy ~ 80 ~ R&B Songwriter under the name Norman Meade; "Time is on my side" (by the Rolling Stones), "Take another piece of my heart","Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" and "Cry Baby" (all by Janis Joplin)

The Rolling Stones ~ "Time is on my side";

Hume Paton ~ Lead guitar for the underrated 1960's Scottish Mod group The Poets. No big hits but "That's the way it's gonna be" has turned up on many Nuggets comps and in the film "Factory Girl". Drummer Alan Weir died in 2010.

The Poets ~ "That's the way it's gonna be";

Mark Tulin ~ 62 ~ Bassist with the 1960's psychedelic garage band The Electric Prunes whose double shot 1967 hits "I had too much to dream last night" and "Get me to the world on time" became acknowledged classics of the era when they were included in the "Nuggets" collection and covered by Stiv Bators on his solo album. However the Prunes had trouble adjusting to changing tastes in rock like Folk Rock, Prog Rock, Southern Rock, Power Trios and their attempt at an early rock opera with a strange album of classical/rock fusion was a disaster. The band broke up thereafter but a generation later Tulin would get a second career when Prunes fan Billy Corrigan would invite him join a later version of The Smashing Pumpkins.

The Electric Prunes ~ "I Had too much to dream last night";

Robert Rozelle ~ Bassist with the Classic Los Angeles 1960's garage psychedelic garage band Love who had a few classic singles with "My little red book" and "7 and 7 is" and an album considered one of the all time greats in "Forever changes". Unfortunately the usual problems got in the way; drugs, conflicts, mental instability and the refusal of band leader Arthur Lee to tour led to the band's lost momentum and inevitable breakup.

Love ~ "My little red book";

Steve Serrato ~ 65 ~Drummer with Question mark and the Mysterions, the all Hispanic group from Michigan who's hit "96 Tears" became one of the instantly recognized classics of the era, later covered by The Music Machine and The Stranglers among many others.

Question Mark & The Mysterions ~ "96 Tears";

Rob Grill and Rick Coonce ~ Singer (Grill) and Drummer w/ 1960's garage band The Grass Roots who did the classic hit "Let's live for today". There were a few minor followups as well. Grill died in July at 67, Coonce died months earlier.

The Grass Roots ~ "Let's live for today";

Pinetop Perkins ~ Blues pianist and one of the last of the great Chicago bluesmen of the classic postwar era. Besides recording solo for Chess and Cobra Records he also played with the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonnyboy Williamson and BB King. He was still active at the time of his death and in fact in 2010 he became the oldest person to win a Grammy award.

Muddy Waters with Pinetop Perkins ~ Long distance phone call;

Eddie Kirkland ~ 88 ~ Blues and R & B guitarist who started out playing with Otis Redding and John Lee Hooker before going on a solo career and playing with Foghat which would not slow down until he died this year at the age of 88 on the road while on his way home from yet another gig. Known as the "Gypsy of the Blues" for his non stop touring.

Eddie Kirkland with Foghat;

Cato Walker ~ 61 ~ Saxophonist with Lou Rawls, The Bar-Kays and B.B. King. Later ran the record label, Strick 9.

Lloyd Knibb ~ Drummer with The Skatalites, widely noted as the founders of Jamaican Ska in the 1960's ~ 80

The Skatalites ~ "Ringo";

Don Kirshner ~ 75 ~ Although not a musician The Man With the Golden Ear was a Songwriter, Producer and promoter who wrote jingles for and with Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond and Connie Francis and Co-founded the Aldon music publishing company. In gthe 60's he branched out into television where he created The Monkees and after being fired in a dispute with his Frankenstein monster he then came up with the Archies. In the 70's he produced and hosted TV's, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.

Huey P. Meaux ~ AKA "The Crazy Cajun", 1960's Louisiana record producer for Freddy Fender (Til the last teardrop falls"), The Sir Douglass Quintet (She's about a mover", Gene Summers ~ 82

David Honeyboy Edwards ~ Last of the old delta blues singers from the 1930's. Played with Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Otis Spann, Walter Shakey Horton, also recorded two albums with the original Peter Green version of Fleetwood Mac through the folk blues revival of the 1960's until this year. He was just in town last year in fact. ~ 96

Honeyboy Edwards ~ "Lay my burden down";

Charles Kaman ~ Inventor who founded Ovation Instruments that became the Ovation Guitar Company which introduced one of the first production solid body electric guitars. He later founded Kaman Aircraft Company ~ 92

DeLois Barrett Campbell ~ American gospel singer w/The Barrett Sisters starting in the 1930's but did not start recording until the 1960's. Did versions of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful", "I'll Fly Away" and sang with Roberta Martin on "I Hear God", later appeared in the documentary "Say Amen somebody ~ 85

The Barrett Sisters (w/Roberta Marin on piano) ~ "From out of nowhere";

Gene McDaniels ~ American 1960's R&B singer and songwriter w/hits "Tower of Strength", "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" by himself and "Feel Like Makin' Love" by Roberta Flack ~ 76

Jean Dinning ~ 86 ~ Singer with 1950's pop vocal group The Dinning Sisters, a typical Andrews Sisters type pre-rock and roll schmaltz group. Her biggest hit however would come when she co-wrote her younger brother Mark Dinning's, hit "Teen Angel" a classic example of early rock and roll schmaltz and a massive hit. The song's ultra morbid theme about a guy dragging his love from a fiery car wreck was one of a trend that would include the likes of "The leader of the pack" and "DOA" from Bloodrock..

Dinning Sisters ~ "Clancy";

Mark Dinning ~ "Teen Angel";

Carl Bunch ~ Drummer with Buddy Holly & The Cricketts and later for Hank Williams jr and Roy Orbison ~ 71

John Pickett ~ Singer with vocal group The Picks who sang backups with Buddy Holly on most of his hits like "Oh Boy" ~ 77

Terry Clements ~ Drummer w/ Gordon Lightfoot on many of his hits including "The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" ~ 64

Loy Clingman ~ Arizona Rockabilly Singer later ran VIV Records ~ 88

Suze Rotolo ~ 67 ~ 1960's political activist and author, girlfriend of Bob Dylan, became famous as the cover model on "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" walking arm in arm with Dylan. Later became a writer

A few country music pickers from the 50's and earlier;

Buddy Charleton ~ Bassist and pedal steel player w/ Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn ~ 82

Buddy Jones ~ Drummer w/Patsy Cline, Faron Young, Leon Young, Red Sovine ~ 83

Buster Magness ~ Steel guitar player w/ western swing band of Johnny Lee Wills ~ 87

Doc Williams ~ 1930's and 40's Old time country singer who scored hits in the 1940's with Chickie Williams, founder of Wheeling Records ~ 94

Hazel Dickens ~ 1960's folk and bluegrass singer/guitarist/bassist with Alice Gerrard (nee Foster). Recorded for Folkways Records as one of the first female duos. Union activist and IWW supporter who later appeared in pro-union films like "Harlan County USA" and "Matewan" ~ 75

Hazel Dickens ~ (bio pic);

A few Doo Wop singers;

Grady Chapman ~ 81 ~ Singer with 1950's Doo Wop group The Robins who would later evolve into The Coasters albeit without Chapman.

Carl Rainge ~ 74 ~ Singer with The Spaniels who's classic "Goodnight sweetheart goodnight" would later be used as a closing theme by Sha Na Na on their 1970's TV show.

The Spaniels ~ "Good night Sweetheart";

Bobby Phillips ~ Singer with Doo Wop group The Cadillacs who's classic hit was "Speedo"

The Cadillacs ~ "Speedo";

Monte Owens ~ Singer with Doo Wop groups The Mello Moods and The Solitaires

The Mello Moods ~ "Tonight tonight";

Oscar Lawson ~ Singer with Texas Chicano Doo Wop group The Royal Jesters, known for their smooth sound. Their hit "Lonely Guy" was later covered by Big Sandy on his Doo Wop album ~ 74

The Royal Jesters ~ "Love me";

A few jazzbos and avant garde figures from the 50's, 60's and earlier;

Bob Flanigan ~ American singer and bassist/trombonist with 1950's pre-rock pop and jazz vocal group The Four Freshmen with numerous hits like in the mid 1950's and highly influential on later white doo-wop groups like The Crewcuts, The Diamonds and the Four Seasons as well as Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys and the Byrds. Unlike most other vocal groups the Freshmen were also excellent musicians. ~ 84

Ross Barbour ~ Singer with The Four Freshmen ~ 82

The Four Freshmen ~ "Ain't seen nothing like you";

Margaret Whiting ~ Big Band jazz and pop singer from the 1940's and 50's both solo and with her sister Barbara with hits like "One for my baby", "Ain't we got fun", "It might as well be spring". As rock and roll took over she became co-host of a TV sitcom with her sister.

Margaret Whiting ~ "It's just the gypsy in my soul";

Joe Morello ~ Jazz drummer w/Dave Brubeck, Stan Kenton, Art Pepper, Hank Garland ~ 82

Allen Smith ~ Big Band jazz trumpet player w/The Hellcats Navy Band in World War 2, also later with Benny Goodman, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. ~ 85

Frank Foster ~ American jazz saxophonist and flautist with Count Basie ~ 82

Jiri Traxer ~ Czech/Canadian jazz pianist and composers from the 1930's on, considered one of the founders of jazz and swing in eastern Europe. Stayed in Czechoslovakia during the war but fled to the west in 1951 and moved to Canada. ~ 99

Jiri Traxler ~ Various piano pieces;

Sir George Shearing ~ The great blind British jazz pianist and band leader who had a number of hit albums in the UK and USA from the 1950's on. Ranging from solo work to quintets and as a duo, also recorded with Steffane Grapelli and Mel Torme. Retired in 2004 after a fall in his home, Knighted in 2007 ~ 91

Eric Delaney ~ British jazz drummer w/ Sir George Shearing ~ 87

Sir George Shearing ~ "Move";

Conrad Schnitzler ~ Keyboard player with highly influential German electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream starting in 1969. Later w/Kluster, Eruption, Berlin Express ~ 74

Tangerine Dream ~ "Cyclone";

Milton Babbit ~ 96 ~ While not normally thought of as a rock and roll figure Babbitt was trail blazer in the development of the Moog. Milton Babbit was a avant garde composer of piano and electronic works starting in the late 1940's. His piano works were considered so advanced and difficult that it would take over 40 years before they would be recognized and awarded. However it is his electronic work that would have the most impact as he was one of the designers of the original Moog Synthesizer and among the first to treat it as a serious instrument, composing works for it. At the time the Moog was a massive computer that took up an entire room and required a bewildering array of vacuum tubes, patch cords, tape reels and punch cards, but twenty years later the Moog would be discovered by progressive rock groups like Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Yes and even the Monkees. Much later smaller and more compact and practical synths would evolve.

Milton Babbit ~ "Occasional variations";

Reinhold Marxhausen ~ American sound artist and sculpter inventor, teacher, author and painter from the 1960's on ~ 89

Reinhold Marxhausen ~ "Throne Dome" sound sculpture ;

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