Sunday, 29 December 2013
ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up In 2013 - Part 1
This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
MANDAWUY YUNUPINGU was an Australian musician and educator who was the singer, songwriter and guitarist for the rock group Yothu Yindi.
He was a Gumatj man, one of group of the Yolngu people from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. He was the first Arnhem Land Aborigine to obtain a university degree and established Aboriginal teaching alongside western methods.
By 1985, his love of music had led him to start Yothu Yindi which fused traditional indigenous music with rock and other popular music. The group toured extensively in Australia, America and Canada.
He has received several honorary doctorates and was named Australian of the year in 1993 (an honor his brother Galarrwuy received in 1978). Here is Yothu Yindi with their most famous song, Treaty. (He was 56 when he died.)
DAMON HARRIS was a soul singer who was a member of the Temptations. He joined the group after Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams left. Damon actually started his musical career in a Temptations tribute band so I guess he knew the songs.
He spent the rest of his musical career coming and going into various incarnations of the group. (62)
It hasn't been a good year for the Temps, RICHARD STREET was another member of the group and he joined around the time that Damon did.
Richard started out singing in a group with Otis Williams that evolved into The Temptations. Initially, he wasn't a "real" member but travelled with them to fill in whenever anyone became "ill". He later left and had a reasonable solo career. (70)
CLAUDE KING was a country singer and songwriter, originally from Louisiana, who had a number of charting songs over the years on both country and pop charts. However, by far his biggest seller was Wolverton Mountain which he wrote with Merle Kilgore, apparently based on one of Merle's uncles.
Claude also appeared in several films and a number of TV series. He kept performing and recording right to the end of his life. (90)
PATTI PAGE, or Clara Fowler to her folks, occasionally didn’t get the respect she deserved. I put it down to that Doggie song - you know the one. It won’t be played in any column I write.
Many of her other songs will, though, indeed, she’s appeared many times already. Patti sold more than 100 million records (and still counting); there are few artists who could make that claim.
I always liked Patti (except for that song) and everything else she recorded I was happy with. She started singing in Tulsa in the forties and was picked up by a local band. That didn’t last long and she went out as a solo artist, and what a successful one she was.
Another of her accomplishments is being the first person to record a Burt Bacharach song. There are a lot of songs I could play, but I’ve gone for Allegheny Moon. (85)
WOLFGANG SAWALLISCH was a German pianist and conductor, noted for his conducting for opera – he was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival and at La Scala as well as elsewhere. He gained considerable fame conducting the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. (89)
PHIL RAMONE was a record producer who worked with pretty much every important artist in popular music. He was not associated with the rock group that shared his surname.
Phil started out as a classical violinist and won a scholarship to Juilliard. He eventually decided that jazz was more to his liking and started playing around town. He took a day job in a recording studio and the rest is history.
A short list of some of the musicians he's produced includes Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Stan Getz, Rod Stewart, Elton John and many others. (79)
JEWEL AKENS was an R&B singer who made his start singing in a church choir. When his family moved to Los Angeles he performed in a DooWop group and occasionally as a duo.
He was a backing singer for several artists, most notably Eddie Cochran. He first came to prominence with the huge hit, The Birds and the Bees. He had several other charting songs after that one, and he later turned to music production. (79)
MINDY MCCREADY described her life as a whirlwind of chaos, and this is reflected in her songs. She was a country singer with a large following outside that genre. She pushed country music to its limits as she did with her own life which she took at age 37.
RAY MANZAREK was the keyboard player and founding member of the rock group The Doors. He seemed to embody the contradictions of rock music as he resembled a tall college professor more than a rock star.
His piano lessons as a boy became tiresome to him until he discovered boogie woogie and he was hooked. He was a movie buff so he went to study film at UCLA where he met Jim Morrison.
They decided to start a band together and The Doors were born. For a few brief years they produced the most interesting music being made in America in spite of Jim's often erratic behavior.
This is Riders on the Storm, an apt title for the group's journey, from their final album together. (74)
COLIN DAVIS was an English conductor best known for his days with the London Symphony Orchestra. He started out playing the clarinet but always wanted to be a conductor. He was also a teacher at various academies and universities. (85)
MARTIN SHARP was an Australian artist who also co-founded Oz magazine, first in Australia and later in London. He also created several record album covers, particularly for Cream, and designed many posters for music events which quickly became collectors' items as well as appearing in many galleries.
Martin wrote some songs with his friend Eric Clapton that Cream recorded. He later befriended, promoted and produced Tiny Tim. (71)
TOMPALL GLASER was a country musician who started out performing with his brothers as Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. They were fine harmony singers and were used by Marty Robbins on his groundbreaking "Gunfighter Ballads" album.
The brothers recorded their own albums to minimal success until 1973 when they called it quits. Tompall then went on to forge a successful solo career. He recorded with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, but he mostly went his own way. The brothers occasionally reformed the group for performances. (79)
SHADOW MORTON was a some-time record producer and a some-time songwriter. He's most noted for writing songs and producing records for The Shangri-Las.
He wrote their most famous hits, Remember (Walking in the Sand) and Leader of the Pack. He later produced Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. I suppose someone had to. (72)
ALVIN LEE was an English sixties' guitar hero mentioned in the same sentences as Eric, Jimi, Jeff, Jimmy and Pete. Born Graham Barnes, he changed his name as the sixties dawned. His father was a jazz guitarist and his mother played the ukulele, however young Graham took up the clarinet. That is, until rock & roll hit the world.
He was taken by his father's jazz music and he liked to use jazz idioms in rock & roll. He formed the group Ten Years After who had the great fortune to be invited to the Woodstock festival and their appearance, especially Alvin's turn as the "the fastest guitarist in the west" made them one of the biggest groups at the time.
He later had a solo career occasionally interrupted by reunions of the band. Here is Ten Years After with Alvin's incredible fingers playing the Woody Herman composition, Woodchopper's Ball. (68)
GEORGE JACKSON was a soul, rhythm & blues and rock songwriter and singer. He started writing in his teens and a chance meeting with Tina Turner got him a recording date. The record wasn't successful but he kept up the songwriting, producing hits for Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Candi Staton, Bobby Bland and others. (68)
PAT HALCOX was the trumpeter for Chris Barber's Jazz Band. He was with Chris from 1954 to 2008, an amazing length of time. He left the band as he said he'd got tired of touring, as the group was one of the hardest working in music. He also played some session work including a couple of Elton John's records. (82)
J.J. CALE was one of the most influential guitarists in rock & roll. He wasn't very well known to the general public but the musicians certainly knew him. His tunes were covered by the likes of Eric Clapton (who made an album with him), Santana, The Allman Brothers, Johnny Cash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Band, Chet Atkins, Freddie King, Maria Muldaur and many more.
John Cale couldn't use his real name when he started performing professionally as there was already another famous musician with that name. Initially he was unsuccessful and was about to give up the music biz when Eric Clapton recorded After Midnight which became a huge selling record.
His music was really closer to jazz, with a bit of blues thrown in, than rock & roll. He was asked if it bothered him that, although well known by other musicians, many people didn't know his name. He replied that it didn't, "What's really nice is when you get a cheque in the mail."
Here is that song, probably his most famous, After Midnight. (74)
AMAR BOSE founded the audio company that bears his surname. He was responsible for some of the finest home and professional audio equipment around. His early speaker designs were revolutionary and he produced speakers that were better than any that had gone before.
He donated the majority of his company to MIT's education and research facilities. (83)
TONY SHERIDAN was a British singer and guitarist whose early records were backed by the then unknown group, The Beatles. Tony started his musical career as a violinist and singer in Gilbert and Sullivan productions. He switched to guitar when rock & roll reared its head.
In the fifties, he gigged around London in various bands and eventually wound up in Hamburg playing the clubs there. That is where he met the fabs. He became quite successful in Germany but he was always dogged by his link to The Beatles and didn't become as successful as he probably deserved. (72)
JOHN AMIS was a British broadcaster, classical music critic and musical administrator. From the fifties until his death he was a regular contributor to the BBC's musical output. For 20 years he was a member of the terrific panel show, My Music, which is where I first discovered him. (91)
RICHIE HAVENS was an American singer/songwriter and guitarist. He was born in Brooklyn, and his father moved the family to Montana (whence he came). There Richie and his brother joined a Wild West show (until they reached New York where he stayed).
He settled in Greenwich Village just as the musical ferment of the early sixties was happening. He soon gained a reputation for his singing and his singular guitar-playing style and made several records.
On the basis of this he was included in the Woodstock festival where he opened proceedings (allegedly because he was the only performer present who wasn't stoned out of his gourd). Richie sings Follow from his fine "Mixed Bag" album. (72)
KENNY BALL was an English trumpet player who, along with Chris Barber, was instrumental in reviving trad jazz in that country and around the world. His band had a huge hit with Midnight in Moscow and many of their other records made the charts.
His style of music took a bit of a downturn when The Beatles hit it big. Actually, several members of the fabs said they were huge fans of Kenny's music. (82)
CLAUDE NOBS was the co-founder and long time director of the famed Montreux Jazz Festival. One of his policies was to bring in great rock and blues bands as well as jazz musicians. He became close personal friends of many of the musicians who performed there.
Early in his career he signed The Beatles to appear on Swiss TV but the directors vetoed his selection as they believed they weren’t famous enough. (76)
PETER BANKS was an English guitarist who came to fame in the group Yes. He was fired from the group after a couple of years because he liked to perform extended jazz style solos upsetting the others in the group.
He joined Blodwyn Pig for a short time and later formed his own band, Flash. That was followed by Empire that he created with his wife of the time. He was also a successful session musician. (65)
SYBIL MICHELOW was a South African contralto who originally went to London to study piano. She later switched to singing was a great interpreter of Elgar and Handel. She also performed much 20th century music, particularly Tippett, Bliss and Merrick.
Besides singing, she also composed and scored music for Bertolt Brecht's plays amongst others. (87)
GEORGE JONES was a country singer with a voice that was as good as just about any around in that field. The life he led gave his songs an aura of authenticity – multiple arrests, divorces, lawsuits, drug busts, car crashes, alcoholism and bankruptcies were all in the mix.
Fortunately, he got himself together when he married his fourth wife Nancy Sepulvado. I'd need a very thick book indeed to tell you his complete history, I'm sure there are several being produced.
I'll let you hear his most famous song, one that he didn’t like at all. He refused to record it for quite some time but eventually weakened. He later admitted that the song revived his flagging career. That song is He Stopped Loving Her Today. (81)
T-MODEL FORD, born James Ford, was a blues singer who taught himself to play guitar when he was 58. He recorded a number of albums in recent years and he always played longer than anyone else at his gigs. His music was rough and ready but very compelling. (about 90)
CECIL WOMACK and his wife Linda recorded some great soul music in the eighties under the name Womack and Womack. He was also a songwriter of some note and had his songs recorded by Debbie Harry, Hall & Oates, Bette Midler and Boz Scaggs amongst many others.
He was born into a musical family – one of his brothers is the great soul singer Bobby Womack. The Womack family saga reads like a soap opera. Sam Cooke noticed them and signed them to his record company.
After Sam was shot Bobby married Barbara, Sam's widow, rather sooner than you'd expect. Cecil married the singer Mary Wells, had three kids and they were divorced in rather quick time. Mary then had another with Curtis, Cecil's older brother.
Then Cecil married Linda Cooke, Sam's daughter. She's the Linda mentioned above. Somehow or other some great music was produced. (65)
BILL PUTT was the bass player for the hugely influential Australian blues/rock band Spectrum. This band also performed more commercial work under the name The Indelible Murtceps. After the demise of Spectrum, several members of that band, including Bill, formed the equally influential group Ariel. (66)
CORNELIUS HARP was the lead singer for the DooWop group The Marcels. That's him in the middle with the guitar. They had a world wide hit with their rocked up version of the old standard, Blue Moon in the early sixties.
They had success with similar treatment of other such songs, most notably Summertime and Heartaches. The Marcels were one of the first integrated DooWop groups, and here they are with Heartaches. (In his 70s)
JOHN WHITWORTH was a counter-tenor who was very popular in the 40s and 50s. He started performing at King's College Cambridge, and later joined the choir of Westminster Abbey. He made numerous recordings of Renaissance and Baroque music. (91)
REG PRESLEY or Reginald Ball to his mum and dad, was an English singer/songwriter best known to the rest of the world as the lead singer of the band The Troggs. They had only a couple of hits but one of them was the hugely successful song, Wild Thing.
The band was very influential and many later groups like The Ramones and The Stooges have cited them as such. Reg had several strokes recently and finally succumbed to lung cancer. (71)
CEDAR WALTON was a jazz pianist and composer. His mother taught him classical piano and he later had formal training in this area. He went to New York where he played in groups led by Art Blakey, John Coltrane and others. He later formed his own group, but it was as a composer he was most renowned. (79)
JÁNOS STARKER was an American cello player who was born in Hungary. He was a child prodigy on the instrument and made his first performance when he was six. He started playing professionally at the age of 14.
Many of his family were murdered by the Nazis but he managed to survive. He left Hungary, initially for Switzerland, later to Paris and eventually emigrated to the United States.
He was the principal cellist for several symphony orchestras finally taking that role with the Chicago Symphony. He later settled in Indiana where he held the post of Professor of Music at Indiana University.
He recorded all the famous works for cello, especially the Bach Cello Suites which he managed to record five times. Let's hear some of it. This is the first movement of the Cello Suite No 1 in G Major. (88)
GORDON STOKER was the lead singer of The Jordonaires who backed Elvis on many of his early hits. He was the last remaining member of the group. They also backed Ricky Nelson, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and others. As well, they performed as a stand-alone group. (88)
ALLEN LANIER was the keyboard player, guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Blue Oyster Cult of which he was a founding member. (67)
BOBBIE SMITH was co-lead singer for the soul group the Detroit Spinners (or just The Spinners). The group formed in 1954 and has been performing to the present day. Bobbie was one of the original members. (76)
MARVIN JUNIOR was the lead baritone singer in The Dells. The group started out as a standard DooWop group and evolved into a fine soul ensemble. His lead vocals along with Johnny Carter's falsetto voice defined the sound of The Dells.
The group met when they were at school. After singing around town and in Chicago they got a recording date with Chess records. They had a few minor hits before they hit it big with Oh What a Night. The group continued performing and recording well into this century.
Here is my favorite of their songs, O-O I Love You. (77)
Alas, there are more Toes Up tomorrow.