Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Mad Lad John Gary Williams RIP

Music deaths have come thick and fast in recent weeks, among them some great artists who I have neglected to mention on The Vinyl Word until today. The latest death is that of John Gary Williams of Stax vocal group The Mad Lads. His was the sweet lead voice of the Memphis group which had success with 'Don't Have To Shop Around', 'I Want Someone' and 'Sugar Sugar'. His career was interrupted by a spell in the US army and he was at one time a member of The Invaders, a group inspired by the Black Panthers. I saw John Gary Williams at Porretta in 2012 (pictured above) when he joined the Bar-Kays on stage. I wrote at the time: 'He came across strongly on 'Fever, 'By the Time I Get A Phoenix , 'Closer To Me', a great version of the Mad Lads song 'Don't Have To Shop Around', finishing off with 'I Believe The Whole Damn World Has Gone Crazy (a solo record from 1973). He's right. It was crazy to limit him to just five numbers, as he was worth a whole lot more.' Another sad loss to soul music.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17UaQ6yV6zI 
Another soul man who passed away recently was Lou Johnson, a singer whose gorgeous voice was perfect for the songs of Bacharach and David. His records included 'If I Never Get To Love You', 'Better Let Him Go', 'Reach Out For Me', the B side of which 'Magic Potion' was a big Northern soul hit. He recorded the first version of '(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me' and  'Message To Martha' and other superb records included 'Please Stop The Wedding' and 'A Time To Love, A Time To Cry'.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st2mVmy30LA
Yet another soul man who has passed is Chuck Barksdale, bass singer for 50 years with The Dells, whose career spanned doowop in the 50s to soul in the 60s and beyond. Aged 84, Chuck joined the El-Rays after leaving school which, with some personnel changes became the Dells and went on to one of the longest and greatest careers in soul history.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX3cOtmyyOc
From the world of rockabilly we recently lost Texas singer Huelyn Duvall, whose 1950's records included 'Teen Queen', 'Little Boy Blue' and 'Boom Boom Baby'. Huelyn visited the UK several times and I caught him at Viva Las Vegas in 2015 (pictured above) where his set included 'It's No Wonder', 'Teen Queen', 'Pucker Paint' and 'Three Months To Kill'.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDbRimaeD5I
Another fifties artist who has died is Preston Epps, who had a 1959 hit with 'Bongo Rock' He
continued the bongo theme with records such as 'Bongos in Pastel', 'Bongo Boogie', 'Bongo Bongo Bongo' and 'Bongola'.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBZJlVeEVeI
Other recent deaths have included Luther Jennings of the Southern Jacksonaires, Scottish singer Jake Black of the Alabama 3, Leon Rausch, lead singer of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and Mike Wilhelm, guitarist and singer with San Francisco band The Charlatans who was later a member of the Flamin' Groovies.
Finally, I must pay tribute to Doris Day who has died aged 97. She was a regular feature of the big movies of my youth, including 'Love Me Or Leave Me', 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (which included her Oscar winning song 'Que Sera Sera'), 'The Tunnel Of Love', and 'Move Over Darling', which featured perhaps her biggest, and best, record. A true great of the movies, and not a bad singer.
RIP to them all.


At 5:02 am , Anonymous Paul Pollmann said...

He was such a sweet soul. I met him at Porretta and he was really the nicest, softspoken guy I met at the festival. May he rest his heart in the hands of God.


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