Saturday, November 28, 2020

Spine tingling moments - Part three

Back in 2003 I wrote a piece listing 20 'spine tingling moments' - 20 gigs or music experiences that sent a shiver down the spine. The earliest of these was the Sam Cooke/Little Richard show in 1962 and the latest Roscoe Gordon at the Jazz Cafe in 2001. The list was published in the Tales From The Woods magazine at the time and later appeared in the Vinyl Word on January 29 and February 1, 2008. (check 'em out!)

With no live gigs this year my thoughts have turned to choosing 20 spine tinglers that I've experienced since I compiled my original list. Some of these were brilliant at the time, others featured artists who I thought I would never see in my life, while some of the shows were by artists who were at the end of their careers, perhaps past their best but who it was still a privilege to see. So here, again in two parts, are my 'spine tingling moments' over the last 15 or so years.

21. Phil Phillips, Ponderosa Stomp, 2005. This was my first visit to the Stomp, which took place in the old Rock 'n' Bowl that year, and was full of interest and excitement. Link Wray, who died soon afterwards, was incredibly loud, Blowfly was obscene and many others were great, including Scotty Moore, H Bomb Ferguson and Brenton Wood to name but a few. But Phil's act was truly spine tingling. He clearly hadn't performed much in recent years and he sang his big hit 'Sea Of Love' not once but twice. It was somehow magical as he stood stock still and sang his heart out. The audience was mesmerised.

Phil Phillips.

22. Pinetop Perkins, Hopson Plantation, Clarksdale, 2005. Later on in this trip I was in Memphis and rented a car to drive down to the Hopson Plantation, just outside Clarksdale, with Alan Lloyd and Ken Major. The occasion was Pinetop's homecoming: an annual event to mark Pinetop's return to the place where he had been a tractor driver before joining Muddy Waters' band and launching his solo career. There was plenty of blues to be heard, but not by Pinetop himself. He explained that it was a Sunday, and his pa had warned him never to perform on a Sunday. Later we went to Red's juke joint for the first time - the first of many enjoyable visits - and a few years later I stayed in one of the visitor shacks at Hopson's.

Ken Major, me and Pinetop.

23. Allen Toussaint, Jazz Cafe, 2006. I've seen Allen Toussaint many times over the years. Always dapper his piano playing was sublime and of course his song writing was second to none. One of the great memories I have of him was when he guested at Irma Thomas's Lion's Den club in New Orleans in the early nineties, but this show at the Jazz Cafe showed him at his best. He had recently recorded an album with Elvis Costello and was enjoying great success. Relaxed, smooth and always looking very fit, it was a shock when he died suddenly in Madrid whilst on a European tour in 2015.

Allen Toussaint.

24. Ike Turner, Jazz Cafe, 2007. Ike was arrogant, ruthless, probably abusive towards Tina, but he was a true original and a great musician. His recording of  'Rocket 88' is often named as the first true rock and roll record. I saw him a number of times in London, including Ronnie Scott's and Shepherds Bush Empire, where he appeared with Joe Louis Walker. The show at the Jazz Cafe was one of his last as he died later that year, His voice had gone but as a keyboard player and guitarist he was still good and his band was excellent.

Ike Turner.

25. Dion, The Metro, Oxford Street, 2007. I've always been a fan of Dion and his under the radar acoustic show at this small central London venue was quite a surprise. He was promoting his blues album 'Son of Skip James' and showed that he had lost none of his vocal ability. I first saw Dion when he toured with Del Shannon in 1962 and the most recent show I saw was at Viva Las Vegas in 2015. On every occasion he was brilliant but this London show in 2007 was possibly the most memorable of the lot.


26. Betty Harris, Old Point Bar, Algiers, 2008. I had never been to this old fashioned place across the Mississippi in New Orleans before, but it was perfect for this low key show featuring one of the greats of New Orleans soul. 'Cry To Me' and 'Nearer To You were among the numbers that Betty sang to great effect. I was with my late girlfriend Maxine on that trip and we met up there with a group of Aussie DJs, including Pierre Baroni, who I've stayed in touch with ever since (although only meeting in the US). Betty performed at Porretta in 2007, the Stomp in 2008 and the 100 Club in 2017 and was due another visit this year I believe. Hopefully I will see her perform again.

Betty Harris.

27. ? and the Mysterians, Ponderosa Stomp, House of Blues, New Orleans, 2008. Another Stomp and another stellar line up, including Barbara Lynn, William Bell, Ronnie Spector and many others. The highlight though, for me, was Question Mark and the Mysterians, an act I thought I would never get to see live and who appeared so late in the proceedings that many people had gone to bed by then. He and the band were worth staying up for and it was fantastic to hear '96 Tears' performed by the original singer. Question Mark 'dashed around the stage wearing an outrageous orange frilly top' I wrote at the time. A great showman.

Question Mark.

28. Alton Ellis, Jazz Cafe, 2008. The 'king of rock steady' made his final appearance just two months before he died. He looked very smart in a white suit and hat and was fine as he ran through some of back catalogue, but handed over after a while to his son as he left the stage claiming tiredness after a hectic touring schedule. He reappeared for a couple of numbers to great applause but it was clear he wasn't 100 per cent. Great to see him though.

Alton Ellis.

29. Spencer Wiggins, Porretta Soul Festival, 2009. Porretta has never failed to live up to its potential with many appearances by soul singers who I had never seen before. One such was Goldwax recording artists Spencer Wiggins - a singer who I had admired ever since those great Memphis recordings first appeared in the 60s. Spencer's brother Percy, who was also at Porretta, had appeared with the Bo kays at the Stomp the previous year, but it seemed Spencer was only singing gospel these days and seemed unlikely to perform. When he did he showed that his voice was as pure as ever - and his numerous false endings to his classic 'Uptight Good Woman' got the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.

Spencer Wiggins, me and Percy Wiggins.

30. Sharon Jones, Festival Louisianne, Lafayette, 2010. Sharon's exciting stage act made her a must see act when she appeared on the scene with the Dap-Kings in 2002. Her performance at Lafayette was dynamic and energetic and showed that there was much to be enjoyed in the world of retro soul. Later, in 2011, she appeared with fellow Daptone artists Charles Bradley at the Barbican in London, but sadly Sharon died in 2016 and Charles Bradley passed away the following year. So many great artists have passed away including many this year (more of which later).

Sharon Jones.
'Spine tinglers' part four will follow soon.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Johnny Marvel's Blues Groove - 'Live At The Tea Bar'

This year has been a disaster so far as live music is concerned. Since my trip to the Rockin' Race in Spain in February I haven't been to a single gig. And there's nothing on the horizon it seems as the virus shows no sign of going away. It's great, therefore, to get the opportunity to listen to a live LP recording - on vinyl no less -  of Johnny Marvel's Blues Groove recorded live at the Tea Bar in Basingstoke (Johnny Rock Records).

Johnny Marvel, the band's singer and harmonica player, is well known to Woodies and others as John McGarvey and I've spent many happy hours in his company, along with his dad Seamus, at festivals as far afield as Blackpool, New Orleans, Porretta and Detroit. The nine piece band that he leads plays fairly regularly around the Basingstoke area and is immersed in blues, soul and New Orleans funk. Members are Phil 'Houndog' Howe on guitar, Lofty Spires on guitar and backing vocals, Dan Leese on keyboards, Tom Prince on bass, Matt Alexander on drums, Miguel 'All The Way From Venezuela' on percussion and the 'Cream Horns', featuring Andy Kennedy on saxophone and and Colin Berry on trumpet.. Together they make a groovy and powerful sound and the record captures the atmosphere of their show perfectly.

The album is an excellent representation of blues, soul and funk. Kicking off with Willie Dixon's 'I'm Ready' side one continues with a lively version of Leiber and Stoller's 'Love Potion No 9', which merges into 'Evil Ways'. Aretha's 'I Never Loved A Woman' follows and side one ends with an excitingly bluesy version of the Box Tops' 'The Letter'. Clarence Carter's 'Snatching It Back' opens side two, followed by Georgie Fame's 'Somebody Stole My Thunder'. 'The Next Time', a funky original number written by John, follows and the album ends with a glorious New Orleans celebration incorporating 'Hey Pocky Way and 'Iko Iko'. There's some superb keyboard work and great support from the horns is what is an impressive debut album.

Altogether this is an exciting first LP by a local band who deserve to be better known. I'm sure that, like the rest of us, they can't want to get back to performing live on a regular basis. And I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Friday, November 06, 2020

More music deaths including Len Barry

Not being a great fan of progressive rock I never paid too much attention to Uriah Heap, although various of their LPs have passed through my hands (and onto Ebay) over the years. I was therefore unaware until reading up on the life of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Ken Hensley, who has died aged 75, that prior to Heap he was a member of two bands whose LPs are now highly collectable - The Gods and Head Machine - examples of which I picked up for next to nothing in charity shops a few years back.
Hensley founded the Gods in 1965 with future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor (another member was Greg Lake). The band recorded two LPs, including 'To Samuel A Son', and several singles before breaking up and a third LP featuring Hensley was later released under the name of 'Orgasm' by Head Machine. All three albums were produced by David Paramor. Hensley briefly joined Cliff Bennett's new band Toefat before joining prog rock band Spice, which changed its name to Uriah Heap in 1970. Hensley was the main songwriter with the band and Uriah Heap had great success in the seventies with albums such as 'Very 'Eavy ...Very 'Umble', 'Salisbury', 'Demons and Wizards' and 'The Magician's Birthday'. After leaving Uriah Heap in 1980 Hensley formed Shotgun and then moved to the US where he joined the hard rock band Blackfoot. Based in St Louis in semi retirement he recorded from time to time with WASP and Cinderella and took part in a Uriah Heap reunion in 2000. He recorded a solo album called 'Running Blind' in 2002 and was subsequently involved in various Uriah Heap related projects.

Another recent death is that of Bishop Rance Allen, (71) whose gospel group based in Ohio made many exciting recordings for Stax. Rance had an extraordinary vocal range which is shown to good effect on tracks such as 'Showdown' and 'I Got To Be Myself'. Rance's group featured in the movie Wattstax in 1972. I never got to see them live but by all accounts the Rance Allen Group's live act was superb.

The recent deaths of Jerry Jeff Walker and Johnny Bush have been something of a body blow for the Texas based 'outlaw' scene. Now a third singer/song writer of the genre has died - Billy Joe Shaver, at the age of 81. His song writing led to an album of his songs being recorded by Waylon Jennings and others such as Elvis and Kris Kristofferson also recorded his material. His own albums, recorded from 1973 onwards, included 'Old Five and Dimers Like Me', 'When I Get My Wings', 'Gypsy Boy' and 'Salt Of The Earth'.
The latest death is that of the great Len Barry, one of the best blue eyed soul singers of the sixties. He was lead singer of the Dovells, whose smash Cameo Parkway hits included 'Bristol Stomp', 'Hully Gully Baby', 'You Can't Sit Down' and 'Bristol Twistin' Annie'. When he went solo with US Decca he had a huge hit with '1-2-3' (a number one hit on my personal top ten) and followed up with another big hit in 'Like A Baby'. Other solo 45s included 'Somewhere', 'It's That Time Of The Year', 'I Struck It Rich' and, after moving to RCA, 'The Moving Finger Writes' - all of them excellent records.
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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Jerry Jeff Walker RIP


There are a couple more deaths to catch up on  - both of them singer songwriters of note.

Jerry Jeff Walker, who has died aged 78, was originally a folk singer based in Greenwich Village and is best known as the writer of 'Mr Bojangles', a song that has been covered many times. He busked around New Orleans and Texas and settled in Austin in the seventies where he was part of the outlaw country scene along with Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings. Albums of self penned songs included 'Mr Bojangles' and 'Bein' Free' and he also recorded songs written by Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Tom Waits and Gary P Nunn, among others. The photo above shows him at the Mean Fiddler in London in 1993.

Johnny Bush, who was 85, was another singer songwriter with his roots in Texas. Known as the 'Country Caruso' he wrote 'Whisky River', a hit both for himself and Willie Nelson. Other country hits included 'Undo The Right', 'Each Time' and 'I'll Be There'. RIP to them both.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Spencer Davis RIP


Sorry to hear of the death of Spencer Davis at the age of 81. He was the frontman of the Spencer Davis Group, one of the most influential British R and B groups of the sixties, and played guitar and harmonica. He took the lead on vocals on occasions but left the majority of the singing to Stevie Winwood, who possessed a far more soulful voice and was only 15 when he joined the band. Other original members were Stevie's brother Muff and drummer Peter York. Spencer came from south Wales but after a spell in London, during which he played in a band with Bill Wyman, he moved to Birmingham where he studied German at the university. While there he dated Christine Perfect and in 1963 he met the Winwoods, who were playing in a jazz band, and formed the group. Many of their early recordings, produced by Island's Chris Blackwell and released on Fontana, were blues and soul covers - not bad ones on the whole - but success came with two songs written by Jackie Edwards in the form of 'Keep On Running' and 'Somebody Help Me'. Other early hits included 'Gimme Some Lovin'' and 'I'm A Man'. Stevie Winwood left in 1967 to join Traffic and was replaced on vocals by Eddie Hardin but the band continued to have success with songs for the film 'Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush' and singles such as 'Time Seller' and 'Mr Second Class'. Various versions of the band continued later from time to time and Davis produced some jazz albums in the late seventies and eighties.

Another recent death is that Brian 'Licorish' Locking, who was bass player with Marty Wilde's Wildcats, which became the Krewkats. He became a member of the Shadows in 1962 and appeared in Cliff Richard's film 'Summer Holiday'. The photo shows him (right) playing as part of the Checkmates at a Tales From The Woods show in 2008.

Two other UK musicians have also passed on. Gordon Haskell was a member of the Fleur De Lys before joining his friend Robert Fripp at King Crimson. A vocalist and guitarist he also recorded several collectable solo albums, including 'Sailin' My Boat', 'It Is and It Isn't' and the unissued 'Serve at Room Temperature'. 

Another who has died is Dave Munden, who was the original drummer with Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. He was the lead singer on a version  of Jeff Christie's 'Yellow River' but this was shelved and the backing was used for Christie's vocal on the hit version.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Farewell to Johnny Nash, Rev John Wilkins and others

There has been a further rash of music deaths in the last few days. One of the latest is Johnny Nash at the age of 80. Best known for his melodic reggae songs of the late sixties and early seventies, his career started well before that. He first performed in 1953 and his first record. 'A Teenager Sings The Blues' was released on ABC Paramount in 1957. He was marketed as a Johnny Mathis styled singer and had ten singles released in the UK on HMV between 1957 and 1960, including the theme from 'Take A Giant Step', a film in which he appeared as an actor. Johnny moved towards R and B, recording for labels such as Chess and Argo, and set up his own JoDa label with his manager Danny Sims, which released the first single by the Cowsills. In 1965 he moved to Jamaica where he met up with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer and in 1967 set up his JAD label, recording at Federal in Kingston. His breakthrough reggae hit 'Hold Me Tight' was recorded there and was a hit in the UK, as were follow ups such as 'You Got Soul' and 'Cupid'. These were released in the UK on Major Minor, as was an album with Kim Weston, produced by Mickey Stevenson. The height of his career came in the early seventies with huge hits such as 'Stir It Up', 'I Can See Clearly Now', There Are More Questions Thank Answers' and 'Tears On My Pillow'.

Another death is that of Rev John Wilkins, aged 76, whose success came late in life when his appearances with his three daughters made a big impact in the American South. The son of Memphis blues man Robert Wilkins, he succumbed to COVID 19. I first saw him in New Orleans in 2014, a year before his first album 'You Can't Hurry God', was released and I wrote at the time: 'The most exciting act of the last few days was a superbly soulful gospel show at DBA in Frenchmen Street starring the Rev John Wilkins. Supported by his three daughters, each of them good singers in their own right, and a band that included Scott Bomar on bass and an energetic keyboard player, this was soul of the highest quality. Wilkins has a voice that brings to mind greats such as O V Wright and he can ring the changes from upbeat gospel tunes like Jesus Will Fix It and Wade In The Water to slow soul drenched numbers like You Can't Hurry God. He is a first rate guitarist and his daughters provided the perfect foil both with their call and response contributions and their harmonies and enthusiasm.  After a 90 minute set they took a break before Wilkins returned with an acoustic version of A Closer Walk before ending with the band and backing singers on Will The Circle Be Unbroken and I'm Going Home On The Morning Train. Truly moving stuff, even if, like me, you aren't a believer.' The photo above shows him at the New Orleans Blues and Barbecue festival in 2018.

Another death which has attracted much attention is that of rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, aged 65. I was not a fan of his band's hard rock approach but he was much admired as a guitarist and his band sold millions of records from the late seventies onwards.

Less well known was Scottish singer Jackie Dennis, who has died aged 77. He attained brief fame in the late fifties with hits such as 'La Dee Dah' and a cover of 'The Purple People Eater' and even appeared on the Perry Como show in the US where he was introduced as 'Britain's Ricky Nelson'. He often appeared wearing a kilt which earned him the moniker 'the kilt with a lilt'. 

Just heard of another death - that of Jamaican record producer Bunny 'Striker' Lee. Bunny was the man behind some of the greatest reggae records of the last sixties and seventies by the likes of John Holt ('Stick By Me'), Max Romeo ('Wet Dream'), Eric Donaldson (Cherry Oh Baby'), Slim Smith, Derrick Morgan, Delroy Wilson, Johnny Clarke, among many others.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Tommy DeVito RIP + others

It seems as though all The Vinyl Word ever does is report on music deaths these days. Sadly, the lack of live gigs and the impossibility of music trips to the States or Europe has made this somewhat inevitable. As ever, there is no shortage of deaths to report, with more taking place almost every day.

One that I missed recently was that of Tommy DeVito, an original member as vocalist and guitarist with the Four Seasons, a group who came closer than anyone to achieving vocal group perfection in the sixties. Tommy, who was 92, teamed up with Frankie Valli in 1954 and recorded as the Four Lovers before teaming up with Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi to eventually become the 4 Seasons, named after a bowling alley in Union, New Jersey. Their first single 'Bermuda' was unsuccessful but the next one, 'Sherry', was a huge hit and led to a decade of success on Veejay and then Philips, with such hits as 'Big Girls Don't Cry', 'Walk Like A Man', 'Dawn (Go Away)', 'Working My Way Back To You'...the list is endless as the photo of some of my Seasons LPs shows. DeVito left the group in 1970 citing the constant travelling and sold his rights to the 4 Seasons material to Valli and Gaudio.

Another recent death is that of W S 'Fluke' Holland, (aged 85), a drummer who played with Carl Perkins at Sun and toured as part of Johnny Cash's band for many years. My photo above shows him at Viva Las Vegas in 2018 where he played in part of the Sun reunion. 

Today's news reveals two more deaths. One is Mac Davis, a country music singer and songwriter who wrote a number of hits for Elvis, including 'In The Ghetto' and 'A Little Less Conversation'. As a solo artist he had great success with 'Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me' and also with 'Stop  And Smell The Roses' and 'Rock and Roll (I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life)'. He was also a successful TV show host and actor.

Helen Reddy, who has died aged 78, was one of Australia's most successful singers, who made her name in the US, incitially with 'One Way Ticket' and 'I Believe In Music' (penned by Mac Davis) and then with the feminist anthem 'I Am Woman'. She sold millions of records in the seventies and enjoyed US number ones with 'Delta Dawn' and 'Angie Baby'.  As her chart career declined she moved to stage musicals and the one woman show 'Shirley Valentine'. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Roy Head and others RIP

The death of Roy Head at the age of 79 has come as a shock. He was a dynamic performer. a real wild man whenever he appeared on a stage and a great showman. He was a blue eyed soul singer, but also successful in the fields of rockabilly and country. Born in Three Rivers, Texas, he formed his band, the Traits, while still at school and recorded for the San Antonio based TNT and Renner labels. Later he signed with Scepter but the big breakthrough came in 1965 when he met up with Huey Meaux and recorded 'Treat Her Right' in Houston, which was released on Back Beat. It was a smash hit (and a number one in my personal top ten) and sold heavily at a time when British acts dominated in the US. Follow ups, including 'Just A Little Bit' and 'Apple Of My Eye' were also successful and 'Same People', recorded for Dunhill, also sold well. He moved into the country field in the seventies and eighties and had success with 'The Most Wanted Woman In Town', 'Bridge For Crawling Back', 'The Door I Used To Close' and 'Come To Me' among others.

I first saw Roy live in 1995 when he replaced Freddy Fender in Doug Sahm's Last Texas Blues Band at a show at Tipitina's. He was a regular performer at the Ponderosa Stomp and his high octane act and wildly over the top performances were always one of the highlights. The photos above and below show Roy at a Stomp related show at the Ace Hotel in New Orleans in 2016.

Roy at the Stomp in 2017.

Roy with Doug Sahm's Last Texas Blues Band in 1995.
Roy at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2005.

A few of Roy's many albums.
Sadly there have also been other music deaths, including Terry Clemson, formerly of the Downliners Sect. Terry appeared at a Tales From The Woods show in 2016 and made a great impression. I wrote at the time: 'Sadly one of the artists booked to appear on the show, Danny Rivers, was too ill to perform, but his replacement Terry Clemson, once a member of the Downliners Sect, was an excellent replacement. A great guitarist, the place really rocked to a selection of numbers made famous by Chuck Berry (Roll Over Beethoven, Carol, Route 66 and The Promised Land), Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Ricky Nelson and Conway Twitty. This was all familiar material, with no Sect numbers on show, but exciting, with two excellent guitarists on stage and a driving beat throughout. The crowd loved it.'  After his time with the Sect Terry was a member of the Houseshakers, who backed Gene Vincent on his European tours, and the Hellraisers.
Another who has died is Pamela Hutchinson, aged just 61, a member of the Emotions, whose biggest hit was 'Best Of My Love'. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

More music deaths

There are a few more music deaths to report sadly.

Barry St John, who has died aged 77, was born Eliza Thomson in Glasgow and was a leading background singer in the seventies. Prior to that she had several solo records and touched the lower reaches of the top 50 in 1965 with 'Come Away Melinda'. The B side 'Gotta Brand New Man', which closely resembled James Brown's 'Papa's Got A Brand new Bag', later became popular on the Northern soul scene. Other singles included covers of the Jarmels' 'A Little Bit of Soap' and the Newbeats'  'Bread and Butter'. Her backup work included Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of the Moon' and records by Bryan Ferry and Elton John among others and continued into the nineties.

Songwriter Rudy Clark, who has died aged 85, discovered James Ray and wrote his hits in his all too brief career, including 'If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody' and 'Got My Mind Set On You'. Other classic songs composed by Rudy included 'It's In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)' for Betty Everett (later covered by Cher), 'Good Lovin' for the Olympics and the Young Rascals and 'Everybody Plays The Fool' for the Main Ingredient (later covered by Aaron Neville).

Another death is that of Brill Building songwriter Al Kasha (83), whose writing credits included Aretha Franklin's 'Operation Heartbreak', I'm A Fire' for Donna Summer, Bobby Darin's 'Irresistible You' and several songs for Jackie Wilson including 'I'm Coming On Back To You' and 'My Empty Arms'. Together with Joel Hirschhorn he won Oscars for 'The Morning After' from The Poseidon Adventure and 'We May Never Live Like This Again'  from The Towering Inferno.

The latest death I hear of is that of Roy Hammond, better known as Roy C, whose 'Shotgun Wedding' was a major UK hit on two occasions, and which was issued on Island with two different B sides. Roy, who was 81, started his career in a vocal group called the Genies, and had his big hit after a spell in the air force. He went on to record for several labels, including Mercury, which released two albums 'Sex and Soul' and 'More Sex and More Soul'. He was outspoken politically and his 1973 record with the Honeydrippers, 'Impeach The President' has been much sampled. He also released records on his own labels, including Alaga and Three Gems. Sadly, I never saw Roy perform live. May he, and the others, Rest In Peace.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Farewell to Toots


Very sad to hear of the death, from COVID 19, of reggae great Toots Hibbert. He was 77. Toots was one of the true greats of Jamaican music and was quite superb on every occasion that I was lucky enough to see him and the Maytals perform. The Maytals began recording ska in the early sixties with the likes of Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Byron Lee and Lesley Kong. He served 18 months in prison in 1966 for possession of marijuana which was the inspiration for one of his best known songs '54-46 Was My Number', released in 1968. He was one of the first artists to use the word 'reggae' with 'Do The Reggay' and other classic tracks included 'Bam Bam', 'Pressure Drop' , 'Pomps and Pride' and 'Monkey Man'. Toots had an incredibly soulful voice and he was invited to Memphis by Jim Dickinson where he recorded 'Toots in Memphis' with the likes of Eddie Hinton, Teenie Hodges and Andrew Love. His covers of soul numbers such as 'I've Got Dreams To Remember', 'Love and Happiness' and 'Precious Precious' were excellent. The 1978 LP 'Reggae Got Soul' was further proof of his soul greatness. Other albums included 'Never Grow Old' and 'Life Could Be A Dream' from the sixties, 'Slatyam Stoot', 'Funky Kingston', 'From The Roots' and 'Pass The Pipe'.

I've dug out my Toots and the Maytals LPs and 45s  and will spend the rest of today playing them in memory of a true reggae superstar. RIP Toots.

And now I hear of the death of Edna Wright, sister of Darlene Love, who was a background singer on many recordings, a member of the Blossoms and a member of Honey Cone, who recorded some great soul for Hot Wax in the early seventies, She also recorded as a solo artist. She appeared at the Porretta Soul Festival in 2001, the Bologna edition, as a member of the Sweet Inspirations (centre of photo below).