Thursday, January 26, 2017

Three more music deaths

Time to catch up on some more music deaths, including two significant soul men: Marvell Thomas and Tommy Tate.
Keyboard player and arranger Marvell Thomas, son of Rufus Thomas and older brother of Carla and
Vaneese, was a key figure in the development of Stax records. He was only 17 when he first played there and went on to contribute to many great records, including Rufus and Carla's Cause I Love You and William Bell's You Don't Miss Your Water. He co-produced Isaac Hayes' Hot Buttered Soul and played on dozens of records by the likes of Johnnie Taylor, the Staples Singers, Little Milton and Albert King. He also worked at Muscle Shoals on records by artists such as Etta James, Wilson Pickett and Denise Lasalle. Marvell played at the Porretta Soul Festival on several occasions and very much valued the high regard given to Memphis musicians at the festival which contrasted with attitudes by many in Memphis itself.
Tommy Tate never achieved great success but made some excellent southern soul records in a career that stretched from the early sixties until 2002 when he suffered a stroke. He started drumming and singing around Jackson, Mississippi, and made several records during the sixties with Tim Whitsett and the Imperial Show Band, a band that also featured Dorothy Moore. When the band broke up in 1970 he joined Stax and recorded several records for the Ko Ko subsidiary, the most successful of which was School of Life. He also wrote songs for Luther Ingram. He made several albums, including one (pictured), recorded at Malaco, which was released in Europe on the Timeless label. One oddity, revealed by Red Kelly in his A side blog, was a release on Atco by Andy Chapman called Happy Is The
Man, which is actually by Tommy. It seems that he made a demo while working as house drummer with Huey Meaux which was put out by Jerry Wexler as one side of this 45.
Another recent death is that of guitarist Tommy Allsup who famously lost the coin toss and as a result missed the fateful plane
trip that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. He became a session musician in Nashville and also recorded an instrumental LP of Buddy Holly songs, produced by Norman Petty, which was released in the UK on London in 1964.


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