Sunday, January 31, 2021

Grady Gaines and Hilton Valentine RIP

There are a couple more music deaths to report I'm afraid. R and B saxman Grady Gaines has died aged 86. Originally from Houston, Grady played in Little Richard's band the Upsetters as its leader in the 1950s and played on such rock and roll classics as 'Keep A Knockin' and 'Ooh My Soul'. The Upsetters continued when Little Richard gave up rock and roll and backed artists such as Dee Clark, Jackie Wilson , Little Willie John and James Brown. He also played in Sam Cooke's backing band for several years. Grady continued playing when the Upsetters broke up, playing with Millie Jackson and Curtis Mayfield and reformed his band as the Texas Upsetters in 1985, recording the albums 'Full Gain' and 'Horn Of Plenty' for Black Top. I saw Grady in 1992 at the Black Top Records show at Tipitina's in New Orleans when he backed Carol Fran, Clarence Holliman and the Upsetters' regular vocalist Big Robert Smith. After much searching, I found a photo of him taken at the gig with Clarence Holliman. Record shown below is a Black Top compilation featuring Grady. Grady's brother is blues man Roy Gaines.
Another death is that of Hilton Valentine, aged 77, guitarist with the Animals, who were probably the most authentic of the British R and B bands of the sixties. Hilton came from North Shields on Tyneside and it is his guitar riff that makes the intro to 'House Of The Rising Sun' so memorable. Hilton played with skiffle group the Wildcats before being invited to join the Animals by Chas Chandler. After the group broke up in 1966 Hilton moved to the US and recorded a solo album which was not successful. Later he returned to his skiffle roots with his Skiffledog project. Reunions with the Animals included the underrated 1977 album 'Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted', which is shown below with the Animals' first LP.

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