Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fontella and Marva pass on

Another end of year, and yet more music deaths.
Fontella Bass had one of the biggest soul hits of the 60s with Rescue Me, released on Chess in 1965. Fontella, who was 72, was born in St Louis and grew up singing gospel before moving into secular music and joining Little Milton and his bandleader Oliver Sain.
After some unsuccessful records recorded with Ike Turner, Fontella moved to Chicago and joined Chess, where she recorded a huge hit with Bobby McClure - Don't Mess Up A Good Thing. Shortly afterwards she sold a million with Rescue Me and also enjoyed success with the follow up Recovery. Other Chess releases included I Can't Rest and Safe And Sound. An LP called The New Look followed, with covers of soul hits including Gee Whiz, Our Day Will Come, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling and Since I Fell For You.
As was common at the time, she was cheated out of royalties and moved to Paris where she recorded two albums with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. She moved into gospel and I remember seeing her at the Barbican with her brother David Peaston (who also died this year) a few years ago (1998). Rescue Me became the theme of an American Express ad in 1990 and Fontella sued for unauthorised use of the song. Fontella Bass was one of the great soul singers of the sixties and yet another of 2012's major music losses.
Marva Whitney, who has died aged 68, was from Kansas City and also started out singing gospel before singing with a local group and touring with Bobby Bland and Little Richard before joining James Brown as featured singer. She recorded several singles for King including Unwind Yourself, which has been sampled a number of times over the last few years. She recorded three LPs, one of which It's My Thing, was released in the UK on Polydor in 1969. She later recorded for the T-Neck and Forte labels. She suffered a stroke while performing on stage in Australia in 2009.
A final word, too, for Gerry Anderson, who created many sixties  kids' series including Four Feather Falls, Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Joe 90 and, of course, Thunderbirds.
Also the Amercian actor Jack Klugman, probably best known for his role in the TV adaptation of The Odd Couple.


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