Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman dies at 83

It's been a wretched month, and not just because the world's financial problems have cost me and millions of others a lot of money (trust me to have HBOS shares). It's also been a month in which we have seen a number of music greats die. And now we have the death of one of my favourite actors of all time, Paul Newman. He starred in so many great movies that it's hard to know where to start, but for me, The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid rate among the very best. No doubt the tributes will be effusive, but in Newman's case any hyperbole is well deserved.

Now we hear that Little Richard is ill and has cancelled his European tour. Rumour has it that he's had a stroke, but I can find nothing about this on the web, so hopefully his illness is not too serious. Still it's a blow, as his show at the Forum in November may well have been our last chance of seeing a true legend.
PS> Happy 73rd birthday to Jerry Lee on the 29th.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Earl Palmer & Nappy Brown RIP

Another final farewell, this time to the great New Orleans drummer Earl Palmer who has died aged 84. Earl was a central figure in New Orleans R and B, providing the back beat for, among many others, Fats Domino (The Fat Man, I'm Walkin'), Little Richard (Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally), Lloyd Price (Lawdy Miss Clawdy) and Smiley Lewis (I Hear You Knocking) at Cosimo's studio. After moving to LA he backed Ritchie Valens (La Bamba), Eddie Cochran (Something Else) and a host of jazz and blues artists, among them B B King, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles. Later he became part of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and played on numerous TV and film scores. Amazingly, he had little regard for rock and roll. "What was rock and roll to me?" he reportedly said. "I was not interested in Little Richard or Fats Domino." Interested or not, he left a tremendous legacy.

And now it's Nappy Brown that's passed away, aged 79. One of the original R and B stars of the 50s, with hits like Don't be Angry and the original version of (Night Time is the) Right Time, he made a comeback in the 1980s and recorded an album for Blind Pig as recently as last year. Here's a report of his death that I've found There's an excellent obit in today's Indy

Friday, September 19, 2008

Norman and O V

Another soul icon has died, this time Norman Whitfield, who took Motown off into a new more psychedelic direction in the late 60s. After co-writing some of the early Motown classics such as Marvin Gaye's 'Pride and Joy' and the Velvelettes' 'Needle in a Haystack' he took charge of the Temptations and changed their style dramatically, producing hits such as 'Papa was a Rolling Stone', 'Ain't too proud to beg' and 'Cloud Nine'. After leaving Motown in the early 70s he had further success with Rose Royce and 'Car wash' but little was heard from him after that. Whether his Motown legacy was good or bad was debatable as for many, like me, the sound became progressively less Motown-ish but, like Isaac Hayes who also died recently, he changed the face of soul music. Here's Norman's obituary in The Times

Meanwhile, back in Memphis, I hear that Morgan Freeman is opening another Ground Zero Blues Club in the city to add to the Clarksdale establishment. I read on the excellent that there will be a special event on November 15 with the Hi Rhythm Section to dedicate a headstone to O V Wright's grave. The blog also updates the story of Sir Lattimore Brown who is now in ill health and suffered badly as a result of Hurricane Gustav. There's a load of other fascinating staff as well and it's well worth a read.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Orleans comes to London

How does this line up sound? Dr John, Allen Toussaint, Buckwheat Zydeco, BeauSoliel avec Michael Doucet, Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins and The Barbecue Swingers, Marcia Ball, John Mooney and Bluesiana, The Annointed Jackson Sisters, New Birth Brass Band, Big Chief Monk Bordreaux, Apache Hunters and Hardhead Hunters Mardi Gras Indian Tribes, Young Men Olympia Untouchables Social Aid and Pleasure Club, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Rhythm Section.
Sounds like New Orleans Jazzfest doesn't it? Yet amazingly they are all performing at the O2 Arena on October 24 and 25. And what's more this Festival New Orleans is free. According to the O2 website the event is being held to coincide with the New Orleans Saints' NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Wembley. There will be Louisiana food demonstrations, Mardi Gras Indians - even a recreation of Bourbon Street.
Unfortunately I think I may be away while this New Orleans extravanganza is on, but it looks fantastic. With the rock and roll shows taking place at The Forum as well this autumn is suddenly looking rather good.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lovin' Machine

As I scour my local car boot sales looking for collectable vinyl I rarely buy 78s. They are too heavy and far too fragile, plus really good ones are hard to find. So I focus on fifties and sixties 45s and LPs, of which I have many thousands now. But now and again a pile of rock and roll 78s catches my eye and I buy a few. One such that I picked up for 50p last weekend (along with a great Fats Domino 78 that I didn't previously own) was such a great record that it's worth mentioning on the blog. It's Wynonie Harris singing Lovin' Machine, released on the Vogue label in 1952, with Luscious Woman on the b-side. How many would have been sold at the time? And how many survive now I wonder? Listen to the tune of this Youtube clip and you'll see why I'm raving about it. A great track and one of the first genuine rock and roll tracks .
Incidentally my most collectable 78 is also on the Vogue label. It's Muddy Waters singing Walking Blues, with Rollin' Stone Blues on the flipside - the record that inspired Mick Jagger and his mates back in the sixties.
As I write this blog it looks like New Orleans has been spared the worst of Hurricane Gustav. But I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.