Sunday, May 21, 2017

Stax singer Johnny Daye and others RIP

It's high time that I caught up on some of the music people who have died over the last few weeks. The most recent is blue eyed soul singer Johnny Daye, who must rank as one of the unluckiest of Stax artists. Originally from Pittsburgh, he possessed a fantastic voice, as can be heard on the deep soul of Stay Baby Stay, his second and final single for Stax. He was discovered singing in a doowop
group the Itals by Joe Rock who brought him to the local Blue Star label where he recorded I'll Keep On Loving You. After a further 45 for Cameo Parkway and two for Johnny Nash's Jomada label, he opened for Otis Redding at a show in Pittsburgh when Wilson Pickett cancelled. Otis was so impressed that he took him to Memphis where he signed with Stax and recorded What'll I Do For Satisfaction (later recorded by Janet Jackson), produced by Steve Cropper. Still only 17, he looked certain to become a star, but Otis died leaving him without his main supporter. He went on to record Stay Baby Stay, a song he co-wrote with Rock and Steve Cropper, but the death of Martin Luther King in 1968 changed things in Memphis and he decided to leave. He recorded some more material in California for Steve Cropper and Leon Russell, but it went unreleased and that was the end of Johnny's brief career and he went back to normal life.
Among others who have passed away in recent weeks is blues guitarist and singer Lonnie Brooks. He began his recording career under the name of Guitar Jr for Eddie Shuler's Gold Band label where his records included The Crawl, Family Rules and I Got It Made. Moving to Chicago he changed his stage name to Lonnie Brooks and backed other blues artists as well as recording for several labels including Chess and Mercury. In 1969 he reverted to his previous name to record an LP for Wayne Shuler, Eddie's son, called Broke an' Hungry. His greatest success came in the late seventies and eighties when he recorded seven albums for Alligator and toured extensively. I remember seeing him at Jazzfest on several occasions and at the Town and Country 2 in London in 1991 and he always put on an excellent show. He continued to tour in the 1990's and made an album called Roadhouse Blues in 1996. He also appeared in the movie Blues Brothers 2000.
A belated farewell too to Rosie Hamlin of Rosie and the Originals who died last month. The group's
sole hit Angel Baby is one of my - and John Lennon's - favourite singles of 1961. She recorded sporadically after that, the group having broken up, but Angel Baby was their masterpiece. I've often wondered if the excellent B side, Give Me Love, with its rather slurred male vocals, had anything to do with Rosie. In any event the songwriting credits were initially stolen from her by the Highland label, which led to a long battle over royalties.
It's goodbye also to Cuba Gooding Senior, who took over as lead singer of the Main Ingredient when former lead singer Donald McPherson died, and sang lead on Everybody Plays The Fool and Just Don't Want To Be Lonely, among others. He later recorded as a solo singer for Motown.


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