Saturday, January 11, 2020

Edd Byrnes, Bobby Comstock and others RIP

The New Year has started much like the old one finished, with several music-related deaths already.
'Ginchiest' of these is that of actor Edd Byrnes, aged 87, who found fame as the comb carrying Kookie in '77 Sunset Strip'. With his cool jive talk and hipster lingo he became a teen idol and, although not much of a singer, he had a hit with Connie Stevens on 'Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb' and had a couple of EPs released in the UK based on a US album. His acting career was impacted by being type cast as Kookie, but he appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies over a long period. He appeared as the Dick Clark style DJ in 'Grease', was the role model for the Fonz and was ranked number five in a TV Guide list of the greatest TV teen idols in 2005.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT9QZBGyXjU
Another death announced this week is that of Bobby Comstock, aged 78, whose recording of Let's Stomp' was something of a late rock and roll classic. After forming a band called The Counts, he had success with a cover of the Patti Page hit 'Tennessee Waltz' in 1959 and the follow up, 'Jambalaya', was also a minor US hit. 'Let's Stomp' followed in 1962, a song which was popular with UK bands of the time and was later covered by The Strangeloves. Later he had success with 'Your Boyfriend's Back', an answer song to the Angels hit, and recorded several singles for the Bell Label after briefly being a member of a band called Zebra.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucMdrHL-HgU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW5MLDinAlM
Bo Winberg (80) was lead guitarist with one of the most influential
instrumental guitar groups of the early sixties, The Spotnicks. The first Swedish band to have international success, they released several singles on the Oriole label in the UK, including 'Hava Nagila' and 'Orange Blossom Special' plus several EPs and LPs recorded on tour in London, Spain and Berlin. Bo was highly regarded as a guitarist and went on to lead versions of the Spotnicks well after the craze for guitar groups had faded.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DhLnuh7TQI
Another to have died, at the age of 75, is Marty Grebb who was a member of US rock band The Buckinghams, who hit with 'Kind Of a Drag' in 1965 (prior to him joining). Later he became a producer and also toured with the Bonnie Raitt band for 25 years.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq1fpN1qWv8
Also Detroit soul singer Lorraine Chandler who had a regional hit with 'What Can I Do' in 1966. She wrote several songs with Jack Ashford and in the mid 1980s had several unissued tracks released in the UK by Ady Croasdell.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYD_VbZSrqI

Monday, December 23, 2019

Picture review of the year 2019

It's been another good year music-wise and I am featuring here photos of just a few of the very many acts I've had the pleasure of seeing during 2019. I've made three trips to the US, one to Spain and one to Italy, as well as gigs in London and elsewhere in the UK. I've had the pleasure of the company of Dave Carroll. Alan Lloyd. Lee Wilkinson, John Howard. Noah Shaffer and others on these trips. So all in all it's been a vintage year, despite the declining number of original artists still performing. Let's hope 2020 is even half as good.
Ronnie Spector started the year off with a show in London in January. It's become a an annual visit for her - she's been in the UK in the last few days - and long may it last.
In February I went to Torremolinos in Spain for the Rockin' Race, where the acts included the Paladins (pictured), the Blasters, Johnny Knight, Deke Dickerson and Dale Watson among others.
In March I went to see Geno Washington, still doing his thing, in Fleet, Hampshire.
The same month I saw Ural Thomas and the Pain at the 100 Club in London.
April saw the visit of the great Bobby Rush to the UK. Here he is with Mizz Lowe at the Jazz Cafe.
My first US visit of the year began with a trip with John to Viva Las Vegas, where the acts included rockabilly artist Ray Campi, singer Kim Lenz and piano player Linda Gail Lewis with daughter Annie Marie.
John and I moved on to Los Angeles where we caught some great blues at Bell's Blues Workshop and the Pure Pleasure Lounge and also saw Hank Carbo. brother of Chuck and Chick Carbo, at La Lousianne.
In June Dave and I made the annual trip to Blackpool for the 4th annual International Soul Festival, where those appearing were Eddie Holman (pictured), Randy Brown, Brenda Holloway, H B Barnum and Ronnie McNeir.
We rushed back from Blackpool to catch the Tales From The Woods show at the 100 Club with the Raging Cajun, Doug Kershaw, plus Graham Fenton.
A few days later I went with John to the Hammersmith Apollo to see the Stray Cats.
In July I made my annual trip to Porretta for the excellent Soul Festival, along with Dave, Alan and Rod Jolliffe. Among many great acts were Wee Willie Walker, who sadly died a few weeks ago, and Willie West.
A pleasant surprise in August was a series of shows in the tiny Laylow Club in London with Tommy McLain and C C Adcock.
In September I made my way with Dave, Lee and Alan to Nashville for Americana Fest, where the many acts included UK singer Yola, Delbert McClinton and the McCrary Sisters, the last of whom I am pleased to see are on the line up in Porretta in 2020.
After Nashville we toured through Tennessee and Kentucky, ending up at Bristol on the Tennessee/Virginia border for the Roots and Rhythm Festival, where the headliners included Marty Stuart.
October saw UK shows by two former Ikettes - P P Arnold (pictured in Newbury) and Gloria Scott.
Later that month Dave and I were back in the States for a visit to the Detroit A Go Go weekend, which featured numerous Motown acts and artists who recorded for other Detroit labels such as Ric Tic and Golden World. Pictured are Brenda Holloway, the Velvelettes and Spyder Turner. Others included the Marvelettes, the Vandellas, Miracles, Elgins, J J Barnes, Pat Lewis, Kim Weston, G G Cameron, the Contours and Jimmy Scott.
Here's to another great year in 2020. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Death list for 2019

As is customary at this time of year. The Vinyl Word salutes those musicians who have died during the year. It's a lengthy list which may well get longer still by the end of the month. In fact, Kenny Lynch, the first singer to cover a Beatles song ('Misery'), has now passed on. So too has the Human Juke Box, rockabilly singer Sleepy LaBeef who died on Boxing Day (pictured below), who I saw several times. Also Maurice Newton of the Fidelities, who I saw at the Long Island Doowop weekend in 2016. Norman Tanega, who recorded 'Walking My Cat Named Dog', died on December 29. And now, on December 30, yet another: Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and the Rutles. Thanks for the music and the enjoyment over the years. RIP to them all.
Billy Adams - Kentucky rockabilly singer; Ginger Baker - Cream drummer and extrovert; Chuck
Pat Brown
Barksdale
- member of the Dells; Paul Barrere - Little Feat guitarist; Dave Bartholomew - New Orleans band leader, songwriter and trumpet player (aged 100); Pedro Bell - artist who designed Funkadelic album covers; Jake Black - member of the Alabama 3; Hal Blaine - drummer with the Wrecking Crew; Harold Bradley - Nashville based guitarist and producer; Asa Brebner - member of the Modern Lovers; Glen Brown - Jamaican reggae singer and producer; Maxine Brown - member of country group The Browns; Pat Brown - Jackson-based soul/blues singer; Irving  Burgie - American composer of Caribbean music; Jerry Carrigan - Nashville drummer; Jimmy Cavallo - early R & B saxman and singer; George Chambers - member of the Chambers Brothers; Leah Chase - New Orleans chef and owner of Dooky Chase restaurant; Jay Chevalier - Louisiana rockabilly singer and 'Official State Troubadour'; Earl Thomas Conley - country singer/songwriter; Herb Cox - lead singer of the Cleftones; Larry Cunningham - member of the Floaters; Dick Dale - 'King of the Surf Guitar'; Doris Day - Hollywood actress and successful singer; Daryl Dragon - 'Captain' of Captain and Tennille; Gary Duncan - guitarist with Quicksilver Messenger Service; Huelyn Duvall - Texas rockabilly singer; Ethel Ennis - American jazz singer; Preston Epps - hit making bongo player; Roky Erickson - leader of 13th Floor Elevators; Peter Fonda - Hollywood actor star of 'Easy Rider'; Dean Ford - singer with Marmalade; Willie Ford - member of the Dramatics; Fred Foster - record producer and founder of Monument Records; Robert Freeman - photographer for Beatles album covers; Donnie Fritts - songwriter and Kris Kristofferson sideman; Ian Gibbons - former Kinks keyboardist; Joao Gilberto - Brazilian bossa nova singer and guitarist; Chuck Glaser - member of country group the Glaser Brothers; Tony Glover - blues harmonica player; Rudy Grayzell - rockabilly singer; Bonnie Guitar - fifties country/pop singer and co-founder of Dolton Record; Kent 'Boogaloo' Harris - R and B songwriter and producer; 
Kent Harris
Eric Haydock - bassist with the Hollies; Al Hazan - pianist on B Bumble's 'Nut Rocker'; Mark Hollis - lead singer with Talk Talk; Robert Hunter - Grateful Dead singer/songwriter; Johnny Hutchinson - drummer with the Big Three; James Ingram - soul singer and songwriter; Neil Innes - Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Rutles member; Linda Jansen - original lead singer of the Angels; Luther Jennings - member of the Southern Jacksonaires gospel group; Jimmy Johnson - session guitarist at Muscle Shoals; Lou Johnson - soul singer of Bacharach/David songs; Larry Junstrom - Lynryd Skynyrd bassist; Pat Kelly - Jamaican rocksteady and reggae singer; Clydie King - soul singer and background singer with Bob Dylan and others; Sleepy LaBeef - rockabilly singer known as the Human Juke Box; Jerry Lawson - lead singer of the Persuasions; Michel Legrand - French composer and pianist; Margaret Lewis - Shreveport based country and rockabilly singer; Roy Loney - founder member of the Flamin' Groovies; Kenny Lynch - British songwriter and pop singer of the sixties; Barrie Masters - frontman of Eddie & the Hot Rods; Eddie Money - American singer/songwriter; Jackie Moore - 'Precious' soul singer; Jerry Naylor - Crickets lead singer post Buddy Holly; Art Neville - New Orleans R and B legend; Maurice Newton - singer with the doowop group the Fidelities; Ric Ocasek - lead singer of the Cars; Andre Previn - pianist, composer and conductor; Ranking Roger (Roger Charlery) member of The Beat two tone band; Leon Rausch - singer with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys; Paul Raymond - keyboardist with Plastic Penny and Chicken Shack; Mac Rebennack (Dr John) - New Orleans musician and R and B singer/songwriter; Leon Redbone - jazz and blues singer/songwriter; Les Reed - English songwriter and musician;  Dick Richards - drummer with Bill Haley's Comets; Ray Santos - Latin musician and arranger; Harvey Scales - R and B and soul singer; 
Harvey Scales
Jack Scott - Canadian/American rockabilly and country singer; Jackie Shane - transgender R and B and soul singer; Papa Don Shroeder - DJ and soul record producer; Paul 'Lil Buck' Sinegal - Louisiana blues and zydeco musician; Jah Stitch - reggae toaster and DJ; Norma Tanega - sixties folk singer;  Eddie Taylor Jr - Chicago bluesman; Larry Taylor - Canned Heat bass player; Joe Terry - member of Danny and the Juniors; Peter Tork - keyboardist and bass player with the Monkees; Nick Tosches - music journalist and biographer of Jerry Lee Lewis; Scott Walker - Walker Brothers member and solo singer; Wee Willie Walker - Goldwax soul singer and Porretta favourite; Beverly 'Guitar' Watkins - blues guitarist who played the Rhythm Riot; David White- singer and songwriter with Danny and the Juniors; Andre Williams - American R and B musician; John Gary Williams - soul singer with the Mad Lads; Paul Williams - singer with Zoot Money and Juicy Lucy; Allee Willis - songwriter of funk and movies; Larry Willis - jazz pianist and composer; Mac Wiseman - bluegrass singer and guitarist; Reggie Young - lead guitarist with the Memphis Boys backing group (pictured below).

Reggie Young
Image may contain: one or more people and hat
Sleepy LaBeef

Maurice Newton of the Fidelities.


Friday, December 13, 2019

Jack Scott RIP

In a year which, as ever, has seen the deaths of many greats, the final month has seen the death of one of my favourite singers: Jack Scott, at the age of 83. His deep and resonant voice was equally effective on rockabilly numbers and ballads, soulful numbers, country and gospel songs His first double sided hit of 1958 coupled the rocker 'Leroy' with the ballad 'My True Love' and later hits such as ballads like 'What In the World's Come Over You', 'With Your Love', 'Burning Bridges' and 'Goodbye Baby', rockabilly numbers like 'Geraldine' and 'The Way I Walk' and gospel numbers such as 'Save My Soul' demonstrated his versatility. Born in Windsor, Ontario, he spent much of his life in nearby Detroit and in the last 20 years or more has been a regular at music festivals all over the world. I first saw him at Hemsby in 2000 and later caught his act at Rhythm Riot, Viva Las Vegas and the Long Island Doowop Weekend (pictured above). Here's what I wrote when he appeared at the Rhythm Riot in 2015:
'Day two's big name was the ever reliable Jack Scott, whose moody demeanour belies a wry sense of humour. Looking a good deal younger than his 79 years and wearing a black leather jacket, he began with the rocking 'Leroy' and moved on through 'What Am I Living For', 'One Of These Days', 'Ubangi Stomp', 'Save My Soul', 'Baby Goodbye' and 'Geraldine', all delivered to perfection with fine backing from the Rhythm Riot house band. Next came 'Foggy Mountain Dew', with some speeded up yodelling towards the end, and a couple more originals in the form of 'Patsy' and 'Baby Baby'. Jack has recently recorded his first studio album for over 40 years, 'Way To Survive', and he featured a couple of numbers from that - 'Tennessee Saturday Night' and 'Hillbilly Fever'. Other numbers included 'Strange Desire', 'Flaky John', 'The Way I Walk' and 'I Found A Woman', and for an encore he returned to 'Leroy', only this time using its original lyric of 'Greaseball'. This was a great set by a singer who is as good and fresh today as he ever was - moody and magnificent.'
Most of Jack's hits were self penned , but the lyrics were not always imaginative. I remember at the Doowop show he told a story about how in a radio interview he had been asked what the lyrics of 'Geraldine' were. His deadpan spoken response was a classic of repetition.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2MXvhA8kY8
I have many records by Jack, but I found one LP by him on my recent trip to Nashville ('What Am I Living For') which I didn't previously own, which includes some of his earliest songs, recorded for ABC Paramount, before he moved on to enjoy 19 hits with Carlton and, later Top Rank. Jack Scott was under rated, but definitely one of the very best singers of the rock and roll era. RIP Jack.


Sunday, December 08, 2019

Four rock and roll greats pass on

Four major rock and roll names of the fifties and early sixties have died in recent days.
Herb Cox is the latest to have died, at the age of 80. Lead singer of the Cleftones since 1955, Herb was a regular at the Long Island Doowop weekend in recent years and I also saw him at Viva Las Vegas in 2015 (pictured above) when he memorably appeared alongside Eugene Pitt and Bobby Lewis, both of whom have also since died. The Cleftones began as New York high school group the Sivertones but changed their name when they recorded 'Gee' for George Goldner in 1955. Other doowop classics included 'This Little Girl of Mine', 'You Baby You' and 'Can't We Be Sweethearts' whilst a second generation of the group, still featuring Herb on lead, had hits with 'Heart and Soul' and 'For Sentimental Reasons'.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5w8Dr45Sls
Another fifties rock and roll act who I saw at Viva Las Vegas was rockabilly pioneer Rudy 'Tutti' Grayzell, who has died aged 86. Originally from Texas where he sang with a country group he recorded rockabilly hits including 'Let's Get Wild' and 'Duck Tail'  and toured with Elvis. The photo above shows him appearing at Viva Las Vegas in 2018.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GejtyaTt31o
The third rock and roll pioneer to have passed on is Jimmy Cavallo, aged 92, a sax player who played R and B in the Carolinas as far back as the late 1940s. He became famous when he and his band the House Rockers appeared with Alan Freed in the movie 'Rock Rock Rock', playing the title song. They were the first white band to play the Harlem Apollo and appeared in a second movie 'Go Johnny Go'. He continued to play his home town Syracuse in New York for many years and in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and also appeared at the Rhythm Riot in the UK in 2002.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmHBFv53K5k
Yet another rock and roll artist to have died in recent days is Jerry Naylor, 80, who was lead vocalist of the Crickets in the early 60s. Originally a DJ and engineer with a country radio station in Texas which was linked with one in Buddy Holly's home town of Lubbock, he was invited to become lead singer of the Crickets by Jerry Allison and went on to sing lead on many of the band's wonderful Liberty hits of the era, including 'Don't Ever Change' and 'My Little Girl'.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w10t8kOtiA
Away from music, the last few weeks have seen the deaths of Australian broadcaster and writer Clive James, member of the 'Beyond The Fringe' review Jonathan Miller and TV chef Gary Rhodes at the age of just 59. As ever, the winter is taking its toll and The Vinyl Word raises a glass to them all. May they Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wee Willie Walker RIP

So sad to hear of the death of Memphis soul man Wee Willie Walker, one of the last of the great sixties soul men, who recorded for Goldwax and was one of the stars of the Porretta Soul Festival in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. With his big smile, warm personality, jaunty hat and wonderfully soulful voice there were few, if any, singers at Porretta to match him and he will be badly missed. Fortunately he had just finished an album with Anthony Paule before his sudden death so his recorded legacy goes on, but his death is a real blow to all soul lovers.
Here are a few photos from his appearances at Porretta. The first two are from 2015.
He did several duets with Terrie Odabi. Here's one from 2017.
This is from 2018.

This is Willie with Terrie in 2017.
Here he is with Marc Engel and Noah Shaffer.
This one is from 2018.
Here's Willie with Curtis Delgado in 2019.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Recent music deaths

It's been a long time since I caught up with significant music deaths but, as ever, there have been plenty.
The latest is Papa Don Shroeder, aged 77, a Pensacola based DJ and record producer who did as much as anyone in promoting southern soul artists in the 1960s. He introduced Mighty Sam McClain to the world, producing such records as 'Sweet Dreams', 'Fannie Mae' and 'Papa True Love'. His 'Mighty Soul' LP from 1969 is a classic, Not only that but he produced James and Bobby Purify's 'I'm Your Puppet' and 'Shake A Tailfeather' and was the man behind Oscar Toney Jr's wonderful soul sides. Later he produced Carl Carlton's version of 'Everlasting Love'. For a more detailed tribute to Papa Don read Red Kelly's excellent post.   https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=red%20kelly&epa=SEARCH_BOX
Another major soul figure who has died is Jackie Moore whose 1970 hit 'Precious Precious' is superb. She had success throughout the seventies with soul and disco recordings, the most successful being 'Sweet Charlie Babe' and 'This Time Baby'.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIaIRRcKkfU
The music death that has attracted the most attention in recent weeks is that of Ginger Baker, the maverick drummer who was one third of Cream. He was a member of Blues Incorporated and the Graham Bond Organisation and after Cream broke up was a member of Blind Faith and his own Ginger Baker's Air Force. He had a great interest in African music and recorded with Nigerian Fela Kuti. He was also noted for his self destructive lifestyle.
It's Rhythm Riot time again (not that I will be there since they stopped booking original US acts) and one of the stars of recent years was Beverly 'Guitar' Watkins. She made a big impression in 2013 with her aggressive guitar style learned over several decades with the likes of Piano Red, B B King and Ray Charles.
Other music deaths over the last couple of months have included Robert Hunter of Grateful Dead, Ric Osacek of The Cars, singer Eddie Money, Barrie Masters of Eddie and the Hot Rods, Larry Junstrom of Lynyrd Skynyrd and reggae artist Glen Brown. The Vinyl Word raises a glass to them all.