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.
Oh my goodness, what a year it's been so far. There have been so many fine musicians, and others associated with the music industry, die so far this year that we decided that we'd feature some of them at the end of the first half of the year so that there won't be an unwieldy column or two at the end where some may be overlooked.
Riley King began his professional career as a disk jockey in Memphis calling himself the Beale Street Blues Boy. That got shorten to Blues Boy and yet again to B.B. KING.
B.B. was of the same generation as other great blues artists such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf but he went further than those, who stuck to the blues. B.B. influenced jazz, rock & roll and even classical musicians.
His single note guitar playing looked back to the jazz style of T-Bone Walker and forward to rock & roll, particularly Michael Bloomfield and Eric Clapton (as well as numerous lesser performers) and modern blues performers like Buddy Guy and Robert Cray.
He was the most important blues musician of the last half century. B.B. performs Five Long Years. (He as 89 years old)
TREVOR WARD-DAVIES was the bass player and harmony singer for the sixties' rock group Dave Dee, Dozey, Beaky, Mick and Tich. He was Dozey.
They had a number of top selling singles in Britain and other places (including Australia). Over the years Dave Dee, Dozey and Tich were always the original musicians but they had several different Beakys and Micks. (70)
TIM DRUMMOND was a session bass player who, over the years, graced the records and concerts of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ry Cooder and James Brown among others. He often teamed up with the great drummer Jim Keltner to produce one fine rhythm section. (74)
ALDO CICCOLINI was a classical pianist who was born in Italy but spent most of his life in France. He started his career with the usual suspects of Liszt, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and so on, but later eschewed the standard concert repertoire and concentrated on then lesser known composers such as Debussy and Satie.
It's because of his championing these that they are now regularly performed. He plays Satie's now famous Gymnopedie No. 1. (89)
DEMIS ROUSSOS was a Greek singer who began his career in the successful group Aphrodite's Child. He later had a career as a solo singer performing middle of the road music (and often dressed in large kaftans). He sold millions of records. (68)
ROD MCKUEN was a poet, disk jockey, song writer and occasional singer. He wrote songs for the Kingston Trio, including one he translated by Jacques Brel called Le Moribond and called it Seasons in the Sun which became a huge hit.
Rod even persuaded Frank Sinatra to record a whole album of his songs and poems. (81)
EDGAR FROESE was the founder and keyboard player of the German electronic music group Tangerine Dream. Besides their own records, which were best sellers but not to my household, he also wrote scores for many films. The Dream were pioneers of new age and ambient music. (70)
LESLEY GORE had a bunch of hits in the early Sixties, most notably It's My Party, Judy's Turn to Cry and You Don't Own Me. Those three songs showed a progression from aggrieved, angst-ridden teenager to defiant self assertion.
Lesley was discovered by Quincy Jones and he signed her to his record company. Besides those hits, she also acted – she was Catwoman's sidekick in the TV version of Batman and appeared on Broadway in several roles.
Lesley was working on a stage version of her life when she died. Here she is with the third of the songs mentioned above. (68)
SAM ANDREW was a founder member, guitarist and songwriter for the rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. The group had a triumphant performance at the Monterey Pop Festival and their subsequent album was hugely successful.
When Janis Joplin left Big Brother, Sam went with her as lead guitarist for her new band. He later studied composition and formed his own band and was music director for some stage shows. (73)
LOUIS JOURDAN was a suave French leading man in many films. His father's career moved the family around to several countries including England where Louis learned English which was invaluable for him in Hollywood as the go-to actor for a debonair Frenchman.
For this music column, he was notable for singing the title song in the musical Gigi and won the hearts of millions of (mostly female) viewers. He was an active member of the French Resistance during the war. (93)
WILLIE C. JACKSON was the last remaining member of The Spaniels, a DooWop group who were responsible for the mega-hit Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite that's been used in many films and TV programs. He founded the group along with several friends from high school. (79)
PERCY SLEDGE hit it big with the very first song he recorded, When a Man Loves a Woman. He couldn't ever top that one, but then, no one else could either.
He was considered the master of the slow soul ballad and no one did those better than he did. In recent years he recorded a couple of very fine albums. Rather than his famous song, I've chosen one that's a particular favorite of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, True Love Travels on a Gravel Road. (74)
FRANK MUSIC COMPANY was the last remaining shop in New York that sold classical sheet music. The changing times means most people who require such get it from the internet. (78)
JIMMY GREENSPOON was a classically trained pianist who found fame as a founder member and keyboard player for the rock group Three Dog Night. He also performed with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and The Beach Boys. (67)
CLARK TERRY was a jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player as well as a composer and educator. He began as a swing player and moved on to bebop, performing along the way with Charlie Barnet, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and Oscar Peterson amongst others.
He also had a hand in starting the careers of such musicians as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves and on and on. Clark performs The Swinging Chemise. (94)
GRAEME GOODALL was an Australian record producer who was a key figure in the development of the Jamaican record industry. He set up a studio and recorded Desmond Dekker, Leslie Kong and The Ethiopians and many more. (82)
BOB MONTGOMERY was a songwriter and musician who went to school with Buddy Holly. Buddy's first band was a duo with Bob and they opened for Elvis in Lubbock, Texas. Elvis tried to get them on other shows but the promoters didn't want them.
Later, Bob wrote Heartbeat for Buddy and Misty Blue for various people but most especially Dorothy Moore. They also wrote songs together, most notably Love's Made a Fool of You, a hit for Buddy and covered by quite a few others.
They had plans to set up a publishing company when Buddy was killed. Later Bob was a successful record producer of mainly, but not exclusively, country performers. (77)
It hasn't been a good year for Buddy Holly's friends. JOE MAULDIN started playing the upright bass after seeing Bill Black backing Elvis. Buddy needed a bass player and he chose Joe.
Joe also co-wrote several of their famous songs with Buddy, including I'm Gonna Love You Too and Well All Right. (74)
DAEVID ALLEN, born here in Melbourne, was a guitarist and poet and hung out with the writer William Burroughs in Paris. Later he went on to form the prog rock group The Soft Machine and also founded the group Gong, who I must admit, are a complete mystery to me. (77)
RONNIE RONALDE was an English siffleur (the A.M. insisted I use that term) and music hall singer. He was a singer, whistler and yodeller extraordinaire.
As a youth, he found he had a talent for imitating bird calls and that people paid money to hear him perform. He joined a choir and eventually record companies discovered him. He toured the world and was hugely popular in the forties and fifties. He kept performing well into his eighties.
Here he performs in his own inimitable way, Mockin' Bird Hill. (91)
BOB BURNS was the drummer and one of the founding members of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was in a car crash – this group really had bad luck when it came to modes of transport. He played on their famous early songs but had left the group before several were killed in a plane crash. (64)
JACKIE TRENT was an English singer but mainly a songwriter, usually with her husband Tony Hatch and together they wrote hits for Petula Clark, Scott Walker and Val Doonican. As a singer, she managed to knock the Beatles off top spot on the charts. (74)
DON COVAY was a soul singer and songwriter who didn't quite make it into the top rank of performers but the songs he wrote and recorded were made into big hits by a wide variety of performers. Steppenwolf, Chubby Checker, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and The Kinks all took Don's songs to the top of the charts.
Don began his musical career in a gospel group but he soon switched to secular music, playing with Little Richard and for a time writing songs in the Brill building. He was headhunted by Atlantic records as a writer and studio musician.
He was also in several groups with other famous musicians. One of his much-covered songs is Mercy Mercy. (76)
CYNTHIA LENNON was John Lennon's first wife and the mother of Julian. John treated them both appallingly. (75)
A.J. PERO was the drummer for the hard rock band Twisted Sister. He also played in the group Adrenaline Mob. Before his foray into rock & roll he began his musical career as a jazz drummer. (55)
STAN FREBERG made comedy records in the fifties that are still funny today. He didn't like rock & roll and would send up the genre on most of his records.
He was also a disk jockey, an actor and he was often used to voice cartoon characters. He and his crew perform Banana Boat Song, made famous by Harry Belafonte. (88)
DALLAS TAYLOR was the drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) in the early days of their performing and recording together. (66)
BRIAN COUZENS founded the record company Chandos that, along with Naxos, showed the big labels what could be done in the classical music field.
They recorded little known composers and works that hadn't seen the light of day and worked with up and coming musicians. The big boys finally had to take note of what was going on. (81)
MARIA RADNER was a German contralto who specialized in the works of Wagner, particularly his Ring Cycle. She also sang Bach's works, especially his cantatas, as well as those of Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Haydn.
She had started to become an international star in opera – Mozart, Verdi and, of course, Wagner - and was to make her Bayreuth Festival debut later this year singing the role of Flosshilde.
Maria, her husband and baby were on the flight that the crazy co-pilot deliberately crashed. Maria sings Es sungen drei Engel from Mahler's Symphony No 3. (34)
ANDY FRASER was a multi-instrumentalist but best known as the bass player for the rock group Free. He wrote most of their songs as well as for others such as Robert Palmer and Chaka Demus & Pliers. (62)
JAMES LAST was not my cup of tea but he sold millions of records so someone liked his music. He made big band arrangements of popular tunes. (86)
BEN E KING's first professional gig was a singer for a group called the Five Crowns, later just The Crowns. They were playing a gig at the Apollo and The Drifters were also on the bill.
The Drifters were going through a lean patch as their lead singer Clyde McPhatter had been drafted and the rest weren't very good. The Drifters' manager heard the Crowns and was so impressed he sacked his group and hired The Crowns on the spot and changed their name to The Drifters.
It was this incarnation that produced all those wonderful songs from the late fifties and early sixties with Ben singing lead. He didn't last long even though he recorded a lot of those songs.
As a solo artist, he was just as good and had many hits - Stand By Me, Don’t Play That Song, I (Who Have Nothing) and many more, especially Spanish Harlem.
Ever modest, Ben has said that he thought his career was accidental and he was really just cheating.
No Ben, you were one of the finest singers of the last century who sang some of the best songs I've ever heard. (76)