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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Jeanne Black born 25 October 1937

Jeanne Black (born October 25, 1937) was an American country singer.
Born Gloria Jeanne Black in Pomona, California on October 25, 1937, she and younger sister Janie were discovered by Country singer, bassist/bandleader, record producer, music publisher Cliffie Stone and hired to appear on his weekly TV show Hometown Jamboree on KTLA-TV Pasadena in 1956, where they remained until the show's cancellation in 1959. 
Following this, she sang in Nevada, in Las Vegas and Tahoe and had also married guitarist Billy Strange (who would later make a name for himself by working with everybody from Elvis Presley to the Beach Boys).
In 1960 Black became a contract artist of Capitol Records. She recorded a few sides with her sister as Jeanne & Janie but released her first single on that label "He'll Have to Stay," as an answer song to Jim Reeves' "He'll Have to Go." "He'll Have to Stay" was written by Audrey Allison, Charles Randolph Grean (as Charles Grean) and Joe Allison.

"He'll Have to Stay" eventually appeared on the charts, and climbed until it reached its peak position at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. It also became a top ten country hit at #6, #11 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, making "He'll Have to Stay" a crossover hit. It also charted on the British chart at #41 that same year. It sold over a million copies, guaranteeing it a "gold record" status. 
She charted two more hits in 1960 on the Hot 100.  Her follow-up to "He'll Have to Stay” charted on July 25, 1960 "Lisa" became a #43 hit record, remaining on the Hot 100 for 9 weeks.  On December 26, 1960 she charted “Oh, How I Miss You Tonight."  The single became a #63 hit and became her last Billboard Hot 100 record.
However, "He'll Have to Stay" would also be Jeanne Black's only major hit, as she was unable to duplicate its success. Other following singles -- "Lisa" (#43 pop) and (#63 pop) were only minor hits. Despite the other charting singles, Black was unable to repeat the success of the single, and remains a one-hit wonder. She eventually retired from active recording and performing, but helped with her husband Billy Strange's website. They remained married until his death in 2012.
(Info edited from mainly & Wikipedia)

Friday, 24 October 2014

J.P. Richardson (Big Bopper) born 24 October 1930

Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, Jr. (October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959), called JP or Jape by friends but commonly known as The Big Bopper, was a disc jockey and rock-and-roll novelty act who parlayed a big voice and exuberant personality into a career as an early rock and roll star.
He was born Jiles Perry Richardson in 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas. He grew up in East Texas, not far from the Louisiana border. He was known as J.P. or Jape to his friends. Richardson worked as a disc jockey before entering the military. On his discharge in 1955 he set his sights on being the preeminent disc jockey in East Texas. He worked at KTRM in Beaumont, Texas and at one time set a record for continuous broadcasting, lasting for over 122 hours. 
He became interested in song writing and wrote songs for friends, in addition to doing some recording on his own as the Big Bopper. His hits included Chantilly Lace and Big Bopper's Wedding, both novelty songs released on the Mercury label in 1958. Chantilly Lace went as high as number six on the pop chart.
In early 1959 J.P. Richardson joined some other notable rock-and-roll acts on a tour of the Upper Midwest. One of the other performers, Buddy Holly, was tired of travelling on the group's bus and wanted to have some time to do his laundry after a performance in Clear Lake, Iowa on the night of February 2, 1959. Holly made arrangements for a private pilot, Roger Petersen, to fly Holly, Richardson and another performer on the tour, Ritchie Valens, to the group's next tour stop. They never made it. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff just outside of Clear Lake early on the morning of February 3, killing all four. 
That plane crash became part of the subject matter when another singer/songwriter, Don McLean, wrote and recorded American Pie - Parts I & II in the early 70's. J.P. Richardson was 28 years old at the time of his death. 

Before he died the Big Bopper had seen a young singer, Johnny Preston, perform at the Twilight Club in Port Neches, Texas. He formed an alliance with Preston and the latter recorded a song that Richardson had written for him titled Running Bear. Richardson and country singer George Jones provided backup vocals on the song, which entered the charts some ten months after the Big Bopper's death, making it to the number one chart position in early 1960. 

Richardson was survived by his wife and four-year-old daughter. His son, Jay Perry, was born two months later in April 1959. At the time of his death, Richardson had been building a recording studio in his home in Beaumont, Texas, and was also planning to invest in a radio station. He had written 20 new songs he planned to record himself or with other artists.
Jay Perry Richardson took up a musical career and was known professionally as "The Big Bopper, Jr.," and performed around the world. He toured on the "Winter Dance Party" tour with Buddy Holly impersonator John Mueller on some of the stages where his father performed.
In January 2007, Jay requested that his father's body be exhumed to investigate incessant rumours that a gun might have been fired on board the plane and that he might have actually survived the crash and died trying to seek help. Those rumours were finally put to rest after an autopsy by noted forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass determined he suffered massive fractures and likely died immediately in the 1959 plane crash.
After the autopsy, Richardson's body was placed in a new casket made by the same company as the original, then was reburied next to his wife in Beaumont's Forest Lawn Cemetery. Jay then allowed the old casket to be put on display at the Texas Musicians Museum. In December 2008, Jay Richardson announced that he would be placing the old casket up for auction on eBay, giving a share of the proceeds to the Texas Musicians Museum, but downplayed the suggestion in later interviews. 

Jay Perry Richardson died on August 21, 2013 at the age of 54.
(info edited from mainly & Wikipedia) 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Ellie Greenwich born 23 October 1940

Eleanor Louise "Ellie" Greenwich (October 23, 1940 – August 26, 2009) was an American pop music singer, songwriter, and record producer. She was one of the major influences on the 60's rock and roll, a music that continues alive and well today. Her songs, which have sold in the tens of millions, have earned her 25 gold and platinum records.
Eleanor Louise Greenwich was born on October 23, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York. When Ellie Greenwich was 10 years old, her family moved out of New York City to Levittown, New York, a town that would serve as a model for the suburbs that sprang up throughout the United States after World War II. Greenwich's childhood was spent creatively, with her time spent dancing, singing even winning a local newspaper's poetry contest. Though she first learned to play music on the accordion, the budding songwriter quickly taught herself piano and began to compose by the age of 13.
In high school, Greenwich formed a band called The Jivettes with two of her friends and performed at local schools and hospitals. It was then that her mother arranged to have her meet with Archie Bleyer, president of Cadence Records. Bleyer knew raw talent when he saw it, but advised the young Greenwich to "keep writing, but finish school… the music business will always be there." Greenwich did release one single under the pseudonym Ellie Gaye, but it flopped. She returned to studying full-time, graduating from Hoftstra University with high honors and a bachelors degree in English literature. While at school, she met fellow songwriter Jeff Barry at a party; Barry would later become her professional partner as well as her husband.
In 1962, the year she graduated from college, Greenwich spent exactly three and a half weeks as a high school English teacher before giving up teaching to pursue songwriting full time. She found a professional home in the offices of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were part of a group of musical greats called the "Brill Building Writers." The two signed Greenwich to their publishing company, Trio Music, officially launching her career as a hit maker.
Greenwich joined a team of songwriting superstars—Carole King, Gerry Golfin, Neil Sedaka, Phil Spector, Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Howie Greenfield—who would shape the sound of their generation.
But Greenwich and the other female members of this songwriting group were not entirely immune to the pressures of the music industry's old boys club. Traditionally, the only way for a woman to become famous was to sing; Greenwich and her friends King and Weil broke new ground by hitting it big as songwriters. Greenwich eventually specialized in writing hit songs for girl groups, penning some of the most famous female-driven hits of the decade.

Greenwich and Barry also recorded singles and an album under the name The Raindrops, with Greenwich providing all the female vocals through overdubbing, and Barry singing backgrounds in a bass voice. In addition to "What A Guy" (actually a demo, with Greenwich on piano and Barry on drums, sold to Jubilee Records and released as the first Raindrops single) and the U.S. Top 20 hit "The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget," the couple wrote and recorded "Hanky Panky", which later became a hit for Tommy James and the Shondells in 1966 and, in 1964, "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", was taken to the No. 1 spot on the charts, in both the UK and the US, by Manfred Mann.
( Above is the 1963 press photo of The Raindrops featuring Jeff, Ellie and her sister Laura.)
Greenwich and Barry collaborated with legendary producer Phil Spector on hits such as "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "And Then He Kissed Me" for The Crystals and "Be My Baby" for The Ronettes.
(This is a rare shot from a 1964 BMI dinner. L-R Artie Ripp, Phil Spector, Ellie & Jerry Leiber. Back: Jeff Barry, Paul Case & Ed Silvers) 
In 1964, Leiber and Stoller left the Brill Building to form Red Bird Records, taking Greenwich and Barry along as fellow songwriters. The combined talent and drive of Leiber, Stoller, Greenwich, Barry and producer George "Shadow" Morton virtually defined the dominant girl-group sound of the era. In the mid-1960s, Greenwich wrote much of her greatest material, records such as "River Deep, Mountain High" for Tina Turner and a remake of "Chapel of Love" for The Dixie Cups (originally performed by the Ronettes). It was also during this time that Greenwich penned her most famous song, "Leader of the Pack," which she and Barry co-wrote for The Shangri-Las. To this day, it remains her most enduring hit.
In 1965, Barry and Greenwich recorded their own song, "Our Love Can Still Be Saved," which won decent airplay. But the song's title said it all: Their marriage was on the rocks and by the end of the year, the couple divorced. They continued to work together for several years after the breakup, but by the end of the decade their songwriting partnership had dissolved like their marriage had done earlier. Greenwich struck out on her own.
The late 1960s and '70s were a time of creative and artistic expansion for Greenwich, as she furthered her career as a producer at a time when female producers were scarce. She wrote Clio Award-winning jingles for television commercials and theme songs for shows like The Hardy Boys (1977-79), even while singing in demo sessions and arranging vocals for artists such as Dusty Springfield, Ella Fitzgerald, Leslie Gore, Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra. Greenwich also discovered Neil Diamond during these sessions and produced his early hits like "Cherry Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman."
In 1971, following the enormous success of fellow Brill Building alumna King's Tapestry, which went on to become one of the highest-selling albums of all time, Greenwich began feeling pressure to follow with her own record. In 1973, Greenwich released Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung, but her heart wasn't really in it. The album performed reasonably well in Europe but not as well in the United States. Greenwich was so scared to sing live on stage, in fact, that she lip-synched during the tour.
In the early 1980s, Greenwich happened to stop by a New York club called the Bottom Line one night to see her friends Ellen Foley, a songwriter, and Nona Hendryx, an R&B singer, perform. This led to an auspicious meeting with the club's owner, leading to plans for an off-Broadway show, Leader of the Pack, based on her life and music. The production opened at The Bottom Line in 1984. After moving to Broadway in 1985, the show enjoyed an impressive run, garnering a Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album, a Tony nomination for Best Musical and a New York Music Award for Best Broadway Musical.
Six years later, in 1991, Greenwich and Barry were jointly inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. Through the 1990s and into the 21st century, Greenwich continued to explore new creative avenues: writing a sitcom, drafting an original Broadway musical, writing the song "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home," which became a holiday fixture on Late Night With David Letterman. In 2004, Greenwich and Barry learned that six of their songs made the list of Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Best Songs. Her songs have been covered by myriad artists, including Mariah Carey, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Elton John, Death Cab for Cutie, Melissa Etheridge and Meatloaf. 

At the age of 68, Greenwich died of a heart attack on August 26, 2009 at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, where she had been admitted a few days earlier for treatment of pneumonia. She left an astounding legacy of hit songs that are nearly ubiquitous in American culture. (Info edited mainly from

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Manfred Mann born 21 October 1940

Manfred Mann (born Manfred Sepse Lubowitz, 21 October 1940, Johannesburg, Transvaal, Union of South Africa) is a keyboard player best known as a founding member and namesake of Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann Chapter Three and Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
Lubowitz studied music at the University of the Witwatersrand, and worked as a jazz pianist at a number of clubs in Johannesburg. Between 1959 and 1961 he and his childhood friend Saul Ozynski recorded two albums as the Vikings – South Africa's first rock and roll band.
Strongly opposed to the apartheid system in his native South Africa, Lubowitz moved to the United Kingdom in 1961 and began to write for "Jazz News" under the pseudonym Manfred Manne (after jazz drummer Shelly Manne), which was soon shortened to Manfred Mann. The next year he met drummer and keyboard player Mike Hugg at Clacton Butlins Holiday Camp and together they formed a large blues-jazz band called the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers and with Paul Jones on vocals and harmonica and Mike Vickers on alto and clarinet and Dave Richmond on bass, dropped jazz for R&B.
They changed their name to Manfred Mann at the suggestion of the label's record producer, John Burgess after the group signed with His Master's Voice in March 1963. An immediate success on the rapidly expanding R&B club circuit, they made their first single, “Why Should We Not?” in July, 1963.   Their third release “5-4-3-2-1”, in January1964, coincided with Richmond’s replacement by Tom McGuinness; its gimmicky pop qualities made it the theme tune of British television’s Ready Steady Go! And a big hit. Thereafter Manfred Mann’s A-Sides – e.g. “Do Wah Diddy”, “Pretty Flamingo” stuck to a strong pop formula and from 1964 to 1969 they had a succession of hit records.
After various personnel changes the group split in 1969 and Mann immediately formed another outfit with Mike Hugg, Manfred Mann Chapter Three, an experimental jazz rock band. They disbanded after two albums, but Mann formed a new outfit in 1971, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which still record and perform to this day. Their well-known hits include the No. 1 "Blinded by the Light", "Runner", which peaked at No. 22 and "Davy's On The Road Again".
Mann has also released solo projects under "Manfred Mann's Plain Music" and "Manfred Mann '06."
Manfred Mann used various keyboard instruments through his career, but he is especially famous for his solo performance on Minimoog synthesizer. His keyboard parts are often improvised, inspired by jazz.
Nowadays Manfred is still gigging with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and have dates coming up in Europe. He divides his time between London and Helsingborg, Sweden, where his partner, Jeannette, lives. His new album Lone Arranger, has just been released in the U.K.. (Info various mainly Wikipedia)

Manfred Mann performing Mighty Quinn on the Dutch music television series Moef Ga-Ga in 1968. Introduced by host Willem van Kooten (aka Joost den Draaier). Manfred Mann, Mike d'Abo, Mike Hugg, Tom McGuinness, Klaus Voorman.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Wanda Jackson born 20 October 1937

Wanda Lavonne Jackson (born October 20, 1937) is an American singer and guitarist who had success in the mid-1950s and 60s as one of the first popular female rockabilly singers and a pioneering rock and roll artist. She is known to many as the First Lady (or Queen) of Rockabilly.
Wanda Jean Jackson was born in Maud, Oklahoma, a small town about fifty miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Her father Tom played piano in bar bands and worked whatever odd jobs he could find during the Depression. In 1941 he loaded up the family and headed for California and a better way of life. The family settled in Bakersfield. Wanda first learned to sing in a church gospel choir. Her father bought her her first guitar, gave her lessons, and encouraged her to play piano as well. In addition, he took her to see such acts as Tex Williams, Spade Cooley, and Bob Wills, which left a lasting impression on her young mind. Tom moved the family back to Oklahoma City when Wanda was 12 years old.
While attending high school in 1952, Wanda won a talent show at a local radio station. Her prize was a daily fifteen-minute radio program on KLPR. The program, soon upped to 30 minutes, lasted throughout Jackson's high school years. Hank Thompson, the country music star who lived in Oklahoma City, happened to hear her on the radio one day and invited her to audition for his band, the Brazos Valley Boys. She was soon singing with Thompson and his band on weekends.  Jackson recorded several songs with the Brazos Valley Boys, including 1954's "You Can't Have My Love," a duet with Thompson's bandleader, Billy Gray. The song, on the Decca label, became a national hit (#8 Country), and Jackson's career was off and running. Wanting to sign with Capitol, Thompson's label, Wanda was turned down as being too young. So she signed with Decca instead though still being in high school. She recorded another fourteen songs for Decca during the next two years, most of them country love songs.
Jackson first toured in 1955 and 1956, a few months after graduating from high school, with the "Ozark Jubilee," a country tour through the south. The tour featured many well-known musicians, including a young Elvis Presley, who had not yet become a national sensation. The two hit it off almost immediately. Jackson says it was Presley, along with her father, who encouraged her to sing rockabilly.
In 1956, Jackson finally signed with Capitol. Her first recording session for Capitol took place in Los Angeles in June 1956. She recorded "I Gotta Know" (#20 Country), which starts out with a slow fiddle waltz but abruptly cuts loose into some very hot rock & roll, with Wanda hiccoughing and shrieking like a rockabilly pro. Each time the song shifts back to the country waltz, Wanda whines, "If our love's the real thing, where's my wedding ring?"
               Here's "Slippin' and Slidin' from above album.
Her recording career bounced back and forth between country and rockabilly; she did this by often putting one song in each style on either side of a single. Jackson cut the rockabilly hit "Fujiyama Mama" in 1958, which became a major success in Japan. Her version of "Let's Have a Party," which Elvis had cut earlier, was a U.S. Top 40 pop hit for her in 1960, after which she began calling her band the Party Timers. A year later, she was back in the country Top Ten with "Right or Wrong" and "In the Middle of a Heartache." In 1966, she hit the U.S. Top 20 with "The Box It Came In" and "Tears Will Be the Chaser for the Wine." Jackson's popularity continued through the end of the decade.
Jackson toured regularly, was twice nominated for a Grammy, and was a big attraction in Las Vegas from the mid-'50s into the '70s. She married IBM programmer Wendell Goodman in 1961, and instead of quitting the business -- as many women singers had done at the time -- Goodman gave up his job in order to manage his wife's career. He also packaged Jackson's syndicated TV show, Music Village.
 In 1971, Jackson and her husband discovered Christianity, which she says saved their marriage. She released one gospel album on Capitol in 1972, Praise the Lord, before shifting to the Myrrh label for three more gospel albums. In 1977, she switched again, this time to Word Records, and released another two.

In the early 1980s, Jackson was invited to Europe to play rockabilly and country festivals and to record. She's since been back numerous times. More recently, American country artists Pam Tillis, Jann Browne, and Rosie Flores have acknowledged Jackson as a major influence. In 1995, Flores released a rockabilly album, Rockabilly Filly, and invited Jackson, her long-time idol, to sing two duets on it with her. 

Jackson embarked on a major U.S. tour with Flores later that year. It was her first secular tour in this country since the '70s, not to mention her first time back in a nightclub atmosphere. In 2009 she returned to her roots once again with I Remember Elvis, a tribute to her old friend and touring partner.
Jackson appeared on the BBC's Hootenanny at the end of 2010, performing her version of "Let's Have a Party" and a cover of the Amy Winehouse song "You Know I'm No Good" with Jools Holland and his orchestra. The following year, after Winehouse's death, she took part in an Amy Winehouse tribute performance with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the VH1 Divas Live 2011.
Wanda released her thirty-first studio album Unfinished Business (2012) on Sugar Hill Records. The album goes back to her rockabilly and country roots and was produced by Americana singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle. As of the 2000s she lives in Oklahoma City. (Info mainly