(You will find Part 1 of Toes Up here.)
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.
MERLE HAGGARD was one of the three or four most important country artists of the last 50 years. He had a huge influence of those who came after him and even on some who preceded him.
He decided to make a career in music when he first heard Johnny Cash play at San Quentin where he was banged up at the time for armed robbery. He turned his life around and country music along with it.
I think he had the finest singing voice in country music. He also wrote many of his songs. It was difficult to come up with one song but I decided on Footlights rather than one of his more famous songs.
The song is about a musician who doesn't always enjoy being onstage the way he used to but doesn't really have a backup plan. Pretty much sums up Merle. (78)
CARLO MASTRANGELO was an original member of Dion and the Belmonts who had many hits in the fifties and early sixties. He and two classmates formed the Belmonts (named after the street where he lived). Dion DiMucci, also from the same area, later joined and one of the great vocal groups of the era was born. (78)
KITTY KALLEN was a successful singer in the forties, during the war, but more especially just after when her songs hit a nerve with the returning troops and their families.
She sang with all the big bands of the period and her career continued through the fifties and on into the sixties. She began performing as a kid on radio and she never stopped singing. From the fifties is a song I remember of hers, Little Things Mean A Lot. (94)
ROBERT STIGWOOD was an Australian entrepreneur who managed the Bee Gees and Cream. He is also responsible for the films Saturday Night Fever and Grease.
He produced the initial versions of the stage musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita giving Andrew Lloyd Webber his initial success (deep sigh). (81)
NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT was an innovative conductor who was a leader in the use of period instruments in playing baroque and classical music. He also conducted many operas as well.
Nik was trained on the cello and later took up the viola da gamba. He played with, and conducted, pretty much all the great orchestras of the world. Here he plays cello on J.S. Bach's Cello Suite No.1 in G, BWV 1007. The Minuet I & II. (86)
PRINCE Nelson was a guitarist, songwriter, singer, performer, record producer and all round strange person. He released a considerable number of albums many of which sold millions of copies. He was one of the most influential musicians of the last 30 years. He wasn't my cup of tea but I'll admit he was a really fine guitar player. (57)
LONNIE MACK was one of the electric guitar masters as well as being a fine blue-eyed soul and country singer. He was an extremely influential guitarist and many who followed paid tribute to him.
He started playing early and was busking on the streets of Aurora, Indiana, before he was a teenager. He began playing professionally when he was 13.
Although generally eschewing big cities, he performed in most of the famous venues and besides his own records, he can be heard on albums of others such as The Doors, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ronnie Hawkins, Albert Collins, Dobie Gray, Arthur Crudup and others.
He can be honored (or blamed) for the development of the rock guitar solo, combining finger picking and power chords. From his fine album "Glad I'm In The Band", this is Let Them Talk. (74)
CHIPS MOMAN was a record producer, guitarist and songwriter who was best known for his work at Stax records. Later, he produced records for Elvis, Bobby Womack, Carla Thomas, Willie Nelson and others.
He wrote songs that were hits for Aretha Franklin, Waylon Jennings, James Carr and B.J. Thomas. He also played guitar on most of those records. (79)
DAVID BOWIE was a singer, songwriter, performer, guitarist, actor, producer and many other things as well. He changed the face of popular music several times.
David was taken into the collective hearts and bosoms of the generation who were too young for Elvis, The Beatles and Bob Dylan and they installed him on their own pedestal. I've always thought his music, good as it was, to be rather calculated and ultimately there was always something cold at the centre of even his greatest work.
To give him his due, he refused a knighthood; other British performers should have followed his lead. This is a song that made the charts a couple of times, Space Oddity. Even people unfamiliar with his music will know this one. (69)
JEAN SHEPARD was a pioneering country music singer and songwriter. She first made the charts (with Ferlin Husky) with A Dear John Letter. They followed that with Forgive Me John where she was trying (unsuccessfully) to get back into John's good books after John's brother gave her the flick.
Jean had many country hits, although fewer than she might have as she didn't follow the country music line and went her own way. She was a fine honky tonk musician when that style was out of favor with the controllers of the genre. (82)
BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO or Stanley Dural to mum and dad, was a zydeco musician who was one of the few of that genre who crossed over to the mainstream charts. This was probably due to his performing English language songs as well as the standard zydeco repertoire.
He played the accordion and was inspired to take up that instrument when he played with the master, Clifton Chenier. Buckwheat played with many musicians over the years, including Eric Clapton, U2, the Boston Pops Orchestra , Willie Nelson, Keith Richards and on and on.
Here he performs the Bob Dylan song, On a Night Like This.
EMILE FORD was a musician and singer from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. Besides singing, he was also a sound engineer and he also invented a system called "Music Minus One" that was the basis for karaoke (deep sigh).
He was responsible for the all-time champion earworm song, What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For? (78)
GLENN YARBROUGH was an internationally successful folk, country and pop singer. He started out performing in clubs in Chicago and later moved to Aspen where he started a club called the Limelite where he formed a group that he named, The Limeliters.
They had a number of hits and Glenn went solo and had some more, including The Honey Wind Blows. (86)
PETER MAXWELL DAVIES was an English classical composer and conductor. He started out writing avant-garde music but later turned his hand to music that people actually liked listening to. He conducted orchestras in Britain, America, Germany and elsewhere. (81)
SONNY JAMES was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, fiddle player and record producer. He had a multi-million selling song in the fifties, that he wrote himself, called Young Love. It was covered by several others at the time.
He was also a bit of an actor appearing with such as Jayne Mansfield, Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney and others. Like Johnny Cash, he recorded a rather successful live album from a prison, Tennessee State Prison in his case. He also wrote music for several films. Sonny performs his biggest hit. (87)
PHIL CHESS, along with his brother Leonard, founded Chess Records, the foremost label for recording blues. Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Robert Lockwood Jr are only a few of the great musicians associated with the label.
Not just blues - Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Etta James all began their careers there as well. (95)
BOBBY VEE's career began when he and his band were hastily substituted for Buddy Holly after Buddy's death in the aircraft accident. Soon after they had a regional hit which brought him to the notice of big record companies.
After that he had dozens of Top 100 hits. The hits dried up after the sixties but he kept touring and recording. One of the hits he had, written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, both members of The Crickets (Buddy's band, who weren't on the fateful tour), was More Than I Can Say. (73)
Like a lot of singers, SHARON JONES started singing in a choir at her church. She later made a living as a wedding singer. It took her some time to become a real singer, as it were, but when she did, she and her band The Dap-Kings became one of the most exciting acts around.
They recorded a number of albums and toured constantly (quite often to Australia where she was immensely popular). Alas, pancreatic cancer took her far too soon. (60)
HERB HARDESTY was a New Orleans saxophone player who recorded and toured with Fats Domino for nearly 60 years. He also played on other New Orleans artists' records. He played jazz and was a member of several big bands - Duke Ellington and Count Basie most notably. Besides that he played behind Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John and Tom Waits. (91)
LEON RUSSELL was the super-star who never was. I saw him in San Francisco in 1970 and expected a meteoric rise in his career. I was wrong. However, he was a fine musician; he played piano and guitar with equal facility, and probably other instruments as well.
While still a teenager he became a session musician for the "Wrecking Crew", the group who played on all of Phil Spector's hits as well as others such as the Beach Boys. He also wrote many songs with which you'd be familiar. This is Leon with one of his songs that B.B. King covered so well, Hummingbird. (74)
PAUL BLEY was a Canadian jazz pianist who one of the notable players in free jazz. (83)
GOGI GRANT had a big hit with The Wayward Wind, and also recorded soundtrack records. (91)
DALE GRIFFIN was a drummer for Mott The Hoople and a record producer. (67)
JOE RIVERS was the "Joe" in the fifties' pop duo Johnnie & Joe. (79)
MADELEINE LEBEAU was a French actress notable for her appearance in the film "Casablanca" leading the crowd in the nightclub singing La Marseillaise. (92)
ROB WASSERMAN was a classically trained violinist and double bass player who turned to jazz and pop. (64)
FRANK SINATRA JR continued in the style of music made famous by his father. (72)
PRINCE BUSTER was a Jamaican musician who was one of the principle developers of ska and rock steady music. (78)
BILLY PAUL was a soul and R & B singer who is most famous for the song Me and Mrs. Jones, and was an outspoken champion of civil rights. (81)
OSCAR BRAND was a Canadian folk singer and had a long running radio program in New York that went for 70 years. (96)
DANIELA DESSÌ was an Italian operatic soprano who performed in all the expected roles. (59)
JIMMY LEVINE was session musician (keyboards) for soul and R & B records. (62)
RICHARD HAMLETT was lead singer for the gospel group The Fairfield Four who modernized the music they recorded. (84)
GIB GUILBEAU was a Cajun, country and rock musician who was a sometime member of The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Swampwater. (78)
CLIFFORD CURRY was a soul singer who had several hits in the sixties and seventies. (79)
KAY STARR was a fifties' pop singer who crossed many genres of music, best known for the song Rock & Roll Waltz. (94)
RAY COLUMBUS was New Zealand's first rock star. He was a singer, band leader and songwriter who had considerable success in his home country as well as Australia and elsewhere. (74)
JIM LOWE was a singer, songwriter and radio host most noted (by me) for the original version of Green Door. (93)
JOE LIGON was the founder and lead singer for the gospel group The Mighty Clouds of Joy. (80)
RALPH JOHNSON was the lead singer for The Impressions after Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield left the group. (67)
ELLIOTT SCHWARTZ was a classical music composer and music professor. (80)
GEORGE MICHAEL began his career as half of the pop duo Wham and later went on to have a very successful solo career as a singer and an advocate for gay rights. (53)
RICK PARFITT was the guitarist, singer and songwriter for the rock group Status Quo who had many hits in the seventies (68)