Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Latest music deaths

As ever. there are some music deaths to report. I only recall seeing one of them perform live and that was rockabilly singer Gene Summers who has died aged 82. Originally from Dallas, Gene recorded several records with his group the Rebels for the newly formed Jan label which went on to be covered by many later rock and roll bands. 'School of Rock and Roll' was later recorded by the Polecats, the Lennerockers, Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys and the Reverend Horton Heat among others, while his biggest hit 'Big Blue Diamonds' was recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Ernest Tubb and Merle Kilgore. Other well known songs included 'Straight Skirt', 'Nervous', 'Gotta Lotta That' and 'Alabama Shake'. After leaving the Rebels Gene formed a new band the Tom Toms. a period which included some of his most successful records in 1963/4 and later in his career he was a regular on the rockabilly circuit at festivals in the US and Europe. The one time I saw him was at Viva Las Vegas in 2017 (pictured above) where his accomplished set included 'Gotta Lotta That', 'Straight Skirt', 'Alabama Shake, 'Fancy Dan' and 'School of Rock and Roll'.
Another recent death is that of reggae great Ewart Beckford, better known as U Roy at the age of 78. A pioneer of toasting, U Roy was born in Kingston and worked on sound systems throughout the sixties before being discovered by John Holt toasting over a Duke Reid track. This led to U Roy, or Hugh Roy as he was also known at times, recording for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label including 'Wake The Town' and 'Wear You To The Ball'. He also recorded a DJ version of the Paragons' 'The Tide Is High' and performed in the UK on a tour organised by Rita and Benny King of R and B Records. His 1975 album 'Dread In a Babylon' was successful, as were others including 'Natty Dread', 'Rasta Ambassador' and 'Jah Son of Africa'. Another recent death is that of folk singer/songwriter Marc Ellington (75) who began his career with the Highwaymen. He moved to the UK to avoid the Vietnam War draft and recorded several solo LPs which are now highly collectable. These include 'Marc Ellington;, 'Rains/Reins of Changes' and 'A Question of Roads' for Philips and B and C. He bought and restored a castle in Scotland and served as deputy lieutenant of Aberdeenshire and a member of the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for Scotland. Other recent deaths include Gene Taylor, aged 68, a boogie woogie pianist who played with Canned Heat, the Blasters and the Fabulous Thunderbirds among others and recorded a solo album in 1986 called 'Handmade'. In later years he lived in Belgium and toured as the Gene Taylor Trio. It's farewell also to jazz composer and keyboardist Chick Corea at the age of 79. Regarded as one of the pioneers of jazz fusion, he played with Herbie Mann and Stan Getz in the 1960s and with Miles Davis on several live albums. He formed Circle with bassist Dave Holland and enjoyed success with 'Return To Forever' in 1972. He went on to record many more albums and picked up numerous Grammy nominations between 1976 and 2020.

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