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.
I’m sorry if we missed anyone special to you this year, but for extended times, both Ronni’s and my computers went toes up themselves, thus we were off the air and some may have slipped by without our noticing them. There were other trying periods for both of us as well.
MONTSERRAT CABALLÉ was a Spanish soprano best known for singing bel canto roles – Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini. She was also known as one of the best interpreter of Verdi’s music. She made her debut in true fairy tale fashion, where she came on to sing the lead role after being an understudy to Marilyn Horne and was showered with accolades.
Montserrat was one of the finest singers of the 20yh century and performed in pretty much all the major opera houses of the world. She was also instrumental in introducing José Carreras to the world. From the Puccini opera Manon Lescaut, Montserrat performs the aria In Quelle Trine Morbide. (She was 85)
RICHARD GILL was an Australian conductor of choral, operatic and orchestral works. He was also a musical educator and a great advocate for musical education for children. (76)
CHARLES NEVILLE was a member of the Neville Brothers, one of the best bands on the planet. He played saxophone in the group and he also had a separate career playing modern jazz. (79)
VINCE MARTIN was a singer, songwriter and guitarist who was popular during the folk music era of the sixties. He often played as a duo with Fred Neil, with whom he also recorded. (81)
DEAN WEBB was the mandolin player for The Dillards, a bluegrass band that expanded the repertoire of the genre by adding electric instruments and playing rock songs as well as traditional fair. (81)
TONY JOE WHITE was a singer/songwriter and guitarist of the first order. He was more a cult figure than someone in the mainstream but he had a few hits over the years. His biggest, Polk Salad Annie, came very early in his career. This song was covered by many, including a fine version by Elvis.
Other songs of his included Rainy Night in Georgia, also covered extensively, and Steamy Windows, a hit for Tina Turner. He kept performing and recording until the end, including a fine blues album released recently. Tony Joe performs High Sheriff of Calhoun Parrish, from early in his career. (75)
HENRY BUTLER was a jazz pianist and also an acclaimed photographer in spite of being blind since early childhood. He was yet another in the long list of great Louisiana pianists. (69)
DENNIS EDWARDS was an R&B and soul singer noted for joining the Temptations after their fine lead singer David Ruffin left. He later had a solo career as well as joining David and Eddie Kendricks, the other notable singer from the group. (74)
RANDY SCRUGGS was a guitarist, songwriter and record producer whose songs have been covered by many country stars. He also played guitar on even more artists’ records. He was the son of renowned blue grass player Earl Scruggs and helped to introduce modern sensibilities into Earl’s sound. (64)
ROY HARGROVE was a jazz trumpeter who incorporated elements of hip hop, soul, funk and gospel into his music. Besides leading his own group he performed with most of the best jazz performers over the years. (49)
HUGH MASEKELA played the trumpet, and similar instruments, as well as singing and composing music. He was born in South Africa and became a vocal critic of the appalling Apartheid regime that ruled the country at the time.
He later studied classical music in London. He was mostly a jazz performer but ventured into pop music from time to time – he played with The Byrds on one of their albums. He sings and plays Alright from his album “No Borders”. (78)
ROBERT MANN was a violinist and the founder of the acclaimed Juilliard Quartet, one the foremost string quartets in the world. He was also a conductor and music teacher. (97)
VIC DAMONE was a crooner much influenced by Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. He had his own radio program and later on a TV show as well. He had a number of hits in the fifties and sixties. (89)
HARRY M MILLER was an Australian music promoter who first brought out Louis Armstrong, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and many others. He also staged the first productions of Hair and the Rocky Horror Show amongst others. (84)
Dominick RANDY SAFUTO was the lead singer for the Doowop group Randy and the Rainbows who had hits with Denise (later covered memorably by Blondie), Little Star and a few other similar songs. (71)
CHARLES AZNAVOUR was a French singer, songwriter and diplomat whose songs spread far and wide, and have been translated into many different languages. During the war he and his family sheltered and rescued many people risking their own lives.
He started performing at a young age and it was when he opened the bill for Edith Piaf at the famous Moulin Rouge that his career began in earnest. His songs have been covered by most of the famous (and less so) performers over the years. From the more than 1,200 songs he wrote I have chosen La Boheme. (94)
BOB DOROUGH was a BeBop singer, songwriter and pianist. He performed with comedians, folk musicians and jazz legends, including adding a rare vocal to a Miles Davis composition. He also had a successful career creating educational songs for kids on maths, history and so on. (94)
NANETTE FABRAY was an actress, singer and dancer who started in Vaudeville and became musical theatre staple. She also appeared in several films. (97)
SONNY PAYNE was the long-time host of the radio program King Biscuit Time that introduced blues music to several generations of listeners. (92)
JIM RODFORD was a bass player for the groups The Kinks and The Zombies. He was also a founding member of Argent. (76)
Marty sings solo lead on the song Comin' Back to Me from their successful and ground breaking album “Surrealistic Pillow”. (76)
EDWIN HAWKINS was a gospel singer who had a surprise hit with his song Oh Happy Day in 1969. His group toured widely and often appeared at music festivals around the world. (74)
TAB HUNTER was an actor and occasional singer, one of whose records my sister owned as a young girl. (86)
THOMAS’S MUSIC SHOP started out selling sheet music and musical instruments in Melbourne. They later added records and CDs. They were the go-to place for classical music. (96)
HARVEY SCHMIDT co-wrote the long running musical “The Fantasticks” (with Tom Jones, not the singer). The pair also created “I Do! I Do!” and other musicals. (88)
NANCY WILSON was a jazz singer who had crossover pop hits, mainly in the sixties, but later on as well. She learned from the best – Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine and others were on the records her father brought home.
Nancy’s career began when, upon meeting Cannonball Adderley he suggested she move to New York where her style would be more appreciated. She took his advice and became an almost instant success. Her albums not only topped the jazz charts, but frequently the pop ones as well. She also appeared on all manner of TV shows.
From early in her career, indeed her first hit, is Guess Who I Saw Today. (81)
LORRIE COLLINS, who along with her brother Larry, formed the Collins Kids who were big rockabilly performers in the fifties. (76)
LAZY LESTER (Leslie Johnson) was a blues harmonica and guitar player as well as the writer of many songs that have been covered by just about everyone who plays the blues, as well as rock and country. (85)
BARBARA ALSTON was a founding member and lead singer for the vocal group The Crystals on their early records. She later became a support singer which she preferred due to her excessive shyness. (74)
RAY THOMAS was a singer and flute player and also a founding member of the progressive rock group The Moody Blues. He continued with the group until early this century. (76)
TERRY EVANS was a soul, R&B and blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. He played with many people over the years, notably long stints with Bobby King and Ry Cooder. He also performed with Boz Scaggs, John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Maria Muldaur and many others. He even found time to have a successful solo career.
Terry performs That's The Way Love Turned Out For Me from the album “Blues For Thought”. (90)
DONALD MCGUIRE was a singer with the fifties group The Hilltoppers. They had a couple of hits at the time, the most notable being Marianne. (86)
CONWAY SAVAGE was the long time pianist for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He also released solo albums, and was a member of several Australian groups in the eighties. (58)
RANDY WESTON was a jazz pianist and composer. He was influenced by the best – Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole. He made dozens of records, the last, earlier this year. (92)
GEORGE WALKER was a composer, concert pianist and teacher. His compositions included piano sonatas, symphonies, string quartets and many vocal works. (96)
OTIS RUSH was a blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He played the guitar left handed but strung as a right hander which probably contributed to his distinctive sound much imitated by younger blues and rock guitarists. Like many, he moved to Chicago after hearing Muddy Waters play and made a name for himself playing in the clubs.
From the album “Right Place, Wrong Time” Otis sings and plays Tore Up. (83)
ED KING was a guitarist and songwriter notable for such diverse works as Incense and Peppermints and Sweet Home Alabama. (68)
SPENCER P JONES was a New Zealand born, Australian guitarist who was in several of the leading Australian groups of the last forty years. (61)
DON CHERRY was a singer in the Sinatra mould, who had a number of hits in the fifties. He was also a world ranked golfer. (94)
EDDIE WILLIS was a session guitarist, one of the “Funk Brothers”, who played behind just about every Motown hit. (82)
COLIN BRUMBY was an Australian composer and conductor. He studied in Spain and Britain before returning to Australia to become professor and composer in residence at Brisbane University.
He eventually tired of working in atonal music, and switched to tonal which led to many more commissions and greater acceptance by the public. He wrote operas, concertos for many diverse instruments, two symphonies, chamber works, and notably, a number of operas for children.
Here is the second movement of his Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. (84)
GEOFF EMERICK was a recording engineer at Abbey Road studios who recorded the Beatles’ records from Sergeant Pepper onwards. He also recorded many other groups. (72)
CHAS HODGES was a singer, pianist and guitarist best known for being half of Chas and Dave. (74)
BIG JAY MCNEELY was an R&B saxophone player who helped to define the sound of early rock & roll. His outrageous onstage antics probably helped as well. (91)
ROY CLARK was a country singer and guitarist who is probably best known for his appearances on “Hee Haw”. I prefer to remember him as a superb guitar player. (85)
ARETHA FRANKLIN, considered the “Queen of Soul”, started her musical career singing and playing organ and piano at her father’s church.
Her first foray into recorded music was unsuccessful as the record company didn’t really understand what she was about. When she found a sympathetic company (Atlantic) the sky was the limit. Her first singles shot to the top of the charts as did most of the following ones.
Besides her music, Aretha was a great champion of civil rights and donated millions to help the poor, the indigenous and many other such causes.
Rather than one of her big hits you’ve all heard many times, here is Crazy He Calls Me. (76)