Monday, March 14, 2016

Catching up on music deaths

Time to catch up on a few musicians who have died in the last couple of weeks, methinks. There have been a couple which have been high profile, attracting widespread media coverage, and also quite a few that have slipped under the radar somewhat.
Sir George Martin, the Fifth Beatle as he is known, deserves enormous credit for helping to transform the Beatles from being a good but unexceptional R and B covers band into the global phenomenom they became. His creative arrangements and production input was instrumental in
producing some of the most memorable music of the sixties and arguably the Beatles would not have become the most successful band of the century without him. Of course, his career at EMI, and in particular Parlophone, included many other acts, including comedy such as Peter Sellers and Bernard Cribbins (not to mention some who are best forgotten like Terry Scott and Bruce Forsyth), trad jazz with the Temperance Seven and pop with Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas and Gerry and the Pacemakers (again, not to mention Rolf Harris, Charlie Drake and Cilla Black among others). Later he set up a studio in Montserrat bringing much needed revenue to the island until the studio was destroyed by the volcanic eruption. George was 90.
Also attracting much media coverage was the apparent suicide of Keith Emerson, keyboard player with The Nice in the sixties and later part of prog rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The Nice were formed to back fellow Immediate artist P P Arnold and made some fairly decent records. However, although Emerson is widely recognised as a great keyboardist, in all honesty I found ELP's music pretentious, overblown and tedious in the extreme.
Of the less well reported deaths, an interesting one is that of Tommy 'Weepin' and Cryin' Brown, a blues man  who has died at the age of 84. He first recorded in 1950 and had a number one R and B hit in 1952 with Weepin' and Cryin' as vocalist with the Griffin Brothers. He recorded a rock and roll number Rock Away My Blues in New Orleans and a vocal version of Bill Doggett's Honky Tonk. In the sixties he turned to comedy with I Ain't Lyin' but then faded from the scene before re-emerging at music festivals in the early 2000s, including the Blues Estafette (pictured) and Rhythm Riot, and at Shakedown Blues in Castor. He was active in the Atlanta blues scene until recently.
Another death is that of jazz and blues singer Ernestine Anderson at the age of 86. She recorded over 30 albums during a lengthy career which included many appearances at jazz festivals in the US and Europe. Originally from Houston she had spells with the bands of Johnny Otis and Lionel Hampton before settling in New York. Her Sue single Keep An Eye On Love is quite a collectable item.
The Vinyl Word also raises a glass to Lennie Baker, singer and sax player with Danny and the Juniors and later Sha Na Na. He also sang lead on Blue Moon in the movie Grease.
Also to Gogi Grant, who had a hit in 1955 with Suddenly There's a Valley and a number one the following year with The Wayward Wind. She was 91.


At 6:59 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick Waterman just posted this:
"Bob Johnston died yesterday. Maybe an unknown name to you but he was a staff producer at Columbia Records and worked his magic with Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Simon & Garfunkel. He was a wonderful story teller and it didn't matter much if they were true or not.
Simon & Garfunkel recorded their first album to mediocre sales. So Simon went to England where he worked as a solo folk singer and Garkunkel went to graduate school.
Johnston took the master tapes (remember tapes?) and worked on "The Sounds of Silence" and then Columbia released it as a single. It took a while for it to gain momentum but it hit the charts and really took off. So Bob had to track Simon down in England to tell him to get his ass back to the US because he had a hit record to promote."


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