Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lazy Lester RIP

One of the last of the Excello bluesmen, Lazy Lester, has died at the age of 85. There was a time not so long ago when Lester appeared so frequently both in Louisiana and, occasionally, in the UK that it was said he would turn up for the opening of an envelope. He never disappointed, with his excellent harmonica and guitar playing and his Louisiana drawl which made his asides between numbers indistinct to say the least.  I first came across Lester when I'm A Lover Not A Fighter obtained a UK release on Stateside in 1964.
When I started visiting the US regularly in the late '80s Lester was an ever present at festivals and one off shows. He played the Ponderosa Stomp in 2005 and again in 2011 (pictured above) when he performed alongside fellow swamp bluesman Rudy Richard. Visits to London included shows at the 100 Club in 1989 and 1993, at the Metro in Oxford Street in 2006 and, memorably, a Tales From The Woods show at the Thomas Guy Club in 2012 alongside Little George Sueref. It was an intimate evening - there were only about 20 people in the audience - but, as ever, Lester put on a highly enjoyable show which included not only blues numbers but some country numbers including Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, from his then current album, and Your Cheating Heart. Frustratingly he didn't play I'm A Lover Not A Fighter or Sugar Coated Love, its B side. (Photo below).
Lester played with pretty well all the great Excello blues artists, including Slim Harpo and Lightnin' Slim, when he recorded at J D Miller's studio in Crowley. When he made his comeback in the late 1980s he recorded with Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson and Jimmy Vaughan, among others.
Here's another photo of Lester, this time at Rhythm Riot in 2013.
I haven't covered the death of the Aretha Franklin on The Vinyl Word as, quite rightly, the world's media gave it front page coverage with many tributes coming in from all sides (even Donald Trump apparently). She was, of course, the Queen of Soul and although she made a few crap records along the way, her most successful numbers such as I Never Loved A Man, (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman and I Say A Little Prayer, not to mention her version of Respect, will live forever. Much of her rather derided early recording career at Columbia was pretty good too. Here is a selection of her many LPs.
One other death worthy of mention is that of Eddie Willis, guitarist with Motown's in house studio band The Funk Brothers, who played on dozens of hits by the likes of the Temptations, Supremes, Stevie Wonder and the Marvelettes.
I gather from Tony Rounce that Jeanie Greene, a mainstay of Muscle Shoals backing singers, has also died. She only had one single release in the UK. It's co-written by Eddie Hinton and is a superbly soulful item. She began her recording career with three country singles under the name of Jeanie Johnson. She then recorded a couple of singles for RCA including one written by Dan Penn and future husband Marlin Greene. She went on to record backing tracks including at Chips Moman's American studio and backed various artists including Elvis.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-TkoX5ZFf4

1 Comments:

At 3:01 pm , Blogger Breaking Mad said...

I've seen a couple of other events at other places, but this was my first time in here. It was amazing! Great New York venues, it's smaller than those bigger places but it is still a fair sized venue. Food was great and I think it's recently renovated - it didn't seem old or anything.

 

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