Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lost souls: Don Davis and others

Time to catch up on a few deaths that have occurred in the last few weeks.
Don Davis, who has died aged 75, holds an important position in the history of both Motown and Stax. Born in Detroit, he formed his own jazz trio before becoming a session musician playing guitar on some of the seminal soul records on the Ric Tic and Golden World labels, as well as on Barrett's Strong's Money and Mary Wells' Baby Baby Bye Bye for Motown. After joining Stax he enjoyed success by producing Johnny Taylor's Who Making Love and also worked on other Taylor hits including Judy's Got Your Girl And Gone and, after his move to Columbia, Disco Lady. He also worked with the Dramatics at Stax but proved to be a controversial figure by using the United Sound recording studios in Detroit, which he bought, and Muscle Shoals rather than Stax in Memphis. Through his Groovesville production company he recorded the likes of George Clinton, Aretha Franklin, the Dells, Carla Thomas and David Ruffin. He also set up First Independence Bank, the first African American owned bank in Michigan, which took up much of his time in later years.
Another recent death is that of Little Jimmy Scott, who has died aged 88. Jimmy was a jazz vocalist with an unusually high voice and came to attention in the Lionel Hampton band. After his career faded in the late 50s he left music but became a cult artist later in life when some of his previously unreleased or unavailable material was reissued. I remember seeing him at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2007 (see photo) and confess that I didn't find his high pitched warbling to my taste.

Although this is a music blog I can't let the death of Rik Mayall at 56 go unremarked. His character in The Young Ones was of course a Cliff Richard fan and a brilliant character he was too, as were all his comic creations, from Kevin Turvey in A Kick Up The Eighties to the Dangerous Brothers, Flashheart in Blackadder and Tory MP Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman. A great loss.
A final word for some of the others who have passed away over the last coupld of months: singer Lee Dresser (a middle of the road singer beloved by the rockabilly scene), soul man Deon Jackson, American crooner Jerry Vale, Cubie Burke of the Five Stairsteps, Ernie Chataway of Judas Priest, Larry Ramos of the Association and doowop and R & B singer Little Joe Cook. We raise a glass to them all


At 12:09 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Little Jimmy Scott's random appearance in Twin Peaks. He was singing to Dale Cooper and the dancing dwarf in the black lodge!

Hope he's not back there now...!




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