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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Ray Kennedy born 26 November 1946

Raymond Louis "Ray" Kennedy (November 26, 1946 – February 16, 2014) was an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer, based in Los Angeles. His works span multiple genres including R&B, pop, rock, jazz, fusion, acid rock, country and many others. He co-wrote "Sail On, Sailor", one of The Beach Boys' mid-career hits as well as two hits for The Babys: "Everytime I Think of You" and "Isn't It Time".
Born in Philadelphia, Kennedy began playing saxophone at age nine; he sang in a cappella groups in New Jersey and Philadelphia before becoming a dancing regular on American Bandstand in 1960. Dick Clark eventually offered to pay him to pantomime playing saxophone with groups such as The Platters, The Drifters, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and many more.
In 1965 Kennedy recorded his first single as vocalist with then-unknown Kenny Gamble, "Number 5 Gemini" on Guyden Records. That year Kennedy also auditioned for and received a gig playing tenor sax with Gerry Mulligan, one of the top baritone jazz saxophonists in the world. That led to Kennedy leaving his home in New Jersey, playing various jazz clubs and making his way south.
With drummer Jay David, Kennedy eventually left the tour to play various gigs with Dizzy Gillespie, J. J. Johnson, Buddy Rich and the Gene Krupa Jazz Group, until he decided in 1962 that the lifestyle of a jazz musician was simply not for him.
Kennedy went to Paducah, Kentucky to play a few gigs with Brenda Lee; one-nighters with Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wilson Pickett, and many others followed. Encouraged by friend Otis Redding, Kennedy shifted his focus back to singing and moved to New York in 1963. He was signed by Ahmet Ertegun to Atlantic Records, recording as "Jon and Ray" and touring with Jon Mislan, AKA ( Johnny Angel ). In 1966 he formed another band called "Group Therapy" and recorded two albums before deciding to move to Los Angeles with them in 1968.
Kennedy's first solo album, "Raymond Louis Kennedy", was released in 1970. That year he befriended Dave Mason of Traffic, and toured with him in support of Mason's solo album, "Alone Together," also collaborating on a song "Seasons" that ended up on a future Mason solo album, "Let It Flow." During this period, Kennedy also co-wrote the Beach Boys hit, "Sail On, Sailor".
He was featured on the soundtrack to the Brian DePalma cult film sensation Phantom of the Paradise. Kennedy sang "Life at Last". In the movie, the song was lip-synched by Gerrit Graham as the character Beef, who performed the song as a Frankenstein-type transvestite constructed by the members of The Undead while they themselves, performed "Somebody Super Like You (the Beef Construction song)".

In 1980, Kennedy released a second self-titled solo album, Ray Kennedy. This album featured the minor hit single "Just for the Moment," which would become Kennedy's only Billboard Hot 100 hit under his own name.
In addition to this solo album, Kennedy spent the next several decades writing, recording and touring with and for musicians including Sly and the Family Stone, Brian Wilson, Dave Mason, Jeff Beck, Barry Goldberg, Maurice White, Aerosmith, Michael Schenker, Engelbert Humperdinck, Wayne Newton, Tanya Tucker, Bill Champlin, Willie Nelson, Mick Fleetwood and many others.
Active to the last, Ray was working on a television series and starting a guitar company when he passed away unexpectedly at his home on February 16, 2014 at the age of 67. (Info Wikipedia) 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Biff Collie born 25 November 1926

Biff Collie (b. November 25, 1926 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA - d. February 19, 1992) was an American disc jockey, singer, trumpeter, booker and promoter.
He graduated from Thomas Edison High School (San Antonio, Texas) in 1944. Biff's professional career spanned forty years working such major markets as Houston and San Antonio, Texas and Los Angeles and Long Beach California.
Biff Collie began his radio career at KMAC radio in San Antonio as a teenager. After brief stints at Browning and Alice, Texas, he moved on to KNUZ radio in Houston and later to KPRC. Biff started with KNUZ (1948) working as sports reporter, before moving into a disc jockey role. During that time, Glad Music Company had a record store on 11th Street. KNUZ had regular remote broadcasts from their store. Popular recording artists were frequent visitors to the shop. Hank Williams was one of the many artists to stop by. Biff was conducting a remote broadcast from Glad Music in 1948 when Hank Williams visited the store.
Hank Thompson, Hank Williams and Biff Collie
Biff was the first country disc jockey in Houston, which remains one of the premiere markets for country music radio. While in Houston, he also promoted and booked shows, becoming one of the first to ever book Hank Williams, Sr. and Tennessee Ernie Ford. In 1957, he became manager and emcee for the Philip Morris Country Music Show, which was broadcast nationally on Mutual Broadcasting Radio and CBS Radio. Later he worked mornings on KPRC and hosted a certain up and coming singer from Memphis by the name of Presley at the Grand Prize Jamboree.

 During this time, he also recorded for Columbia Records and Starday Records. His only charted hit was as Billy Bob Bowman in 1972 on United Artists.
In 1957, he became manager and emcee for the Philip Morris Country Music Show, which were broadcast nationally on Mutual and CBS Radio. The 1960s were spent in Los Angeles where he remained for the decade, gaining huge popularity over KFOX Radio. He was consistently in the top ten radio personalities in Billboard and Music Reporter magazines, and was also named "Best Radio Personality" by the Academy of Country Music, an organization which he served on the Board of Directors and produced the annual awards show in 1967.
He moved to Nashville in 1969 and produced the first syndicated radio show, "Inside Nashville" that ran on stations across the country for many years. Before his death, Biff earned the Ernest Tubb Humanitarian Award for his contributions. Biff is a member of the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame (1978). Collie died from prostate cancer on February 19, 1992 in Brentwood, Tennessee. (Info various but mainly from

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Rosa Henderson born 24 November 1896

Rosa Henderson (November 24, 1896 – April 6, 1968) was an American jazz and classic female blues singer, and vaudeville entertainer who's musical accomplishments have remained relatively obscure.
Born Rosa Deschamps in Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky, she is remembered as one of the greats of the 1920s and 1930s classic blues era. Her career as an entertainer began in 1913 when she joined her uncle's circus troupe.
She married Douglas "Slim" Henderson in 1918 and began travelling with his Mason-Henderson show. Her career as a musical comedian started during the early 1920s, after she moved to New York where she performed on Broadway and eventually in London.
Her nine-year recording career began in 1923. During that time she recorded 92 selections in all including 88 during 1923-1927 and two apiece in 1928 and 1931. She used numerous pseudonyms such as Sally Ritz, Rosa Green, Flora Dale, Sarah Johnson, Bessie Williams, Josephine Thomas, Gladys White and Mamie Harris.
Vocalion, Columbia, Perfect, Emerson, Victor, Brunswick & Paramount were among the labels that captured her voice. Of course, these also account for her lack of a strong identity, although she appeared at major houses and with revues such as the Quintard Miller Company.

She was accompanied by such bands as The Virginians, Fletcher Henderson's Jazz Five, Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, Fletcher Henderson's Club Alabam Orchestra, the Choo Choo Jazzers, the Kansas City Five, the Three Jolly Miners, the Kansas City Four, the Three Hot Eskimos, and the Four Black Diamonds, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Metcalf, Fats Waller, and (on six numbers), James P. Johnson, to name a few.
She sang the chorus on Fletcher Henderson's May 28, 1924, Vocalion recording of "Do That Thing", probably the earliest example of a female singing with a big band.
Although she began to show a marked decline in her recordings after 1926, she continued performing up until 1932 when she took a job in a New York department store where she stayed for many years. She continued to perform benefit concerts up until the 1960s. Rosa died at Bird S. Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island, New York in 1968. (Info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia & AMG)

Monday, 23 November 2015

Ruth Etting born 23 November 1896

Ruth Etting (November 23, 1896 – September 24, 1978) was an American singing star of the 1930s, who had over sixty hit recordings. Her signature tunes were "Shine On Harvest Moon", "Ten Cents a Dance" and "Love Me or Leave Me", and her other popular recordings included "Button Up Your Overcoat", "Mean to Me", "Exactly like you", and "Shaking the Blues Away".
Born in David City, Nebraska, she left home at age seventeen to attend the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Her work as a costume designer helped her to get a job as a chorus girl at the Marigold Gardens, a famous "Windy City" nightclub.   She became a featured vocalist at the nightclub and married gangster Martin "Moe the Gimp" Snyder on July 12, 1922. He managed her career, booking radio appearances, and eventually had her signed to an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records.
It was in Chicago that Ruth discovered a new lower pitched singing voice that she was unaware of while growing up in David City. In time, she was given solo opportunities which developed into her being billed as "Chicago's Sweetheart" and as a headliner in the Marigold Gardens, the Rainbo Gardens, and the Terrace room of the Hotel Morrison. Performances on Chicago radio stations led to a test recording for Columbia. Her first record paired the songs "Let's Talk about My Sweetie" and "Nothing Else to Do," and was released in March of 1926.
In 1927 Ruth went to New York to star on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 singing Irving Berlin's "Shaking the Blues Away." In rapid succession she appeared in Whoopee (1928) singing "Love me or Leave me," in 9:15 Revue (1929) singing "Get Happy," in Simple Simon (1929) singing "Ten Cents a Dance," and in Ziegfeld's final production, The Follies of 1931, singing "Shine on Harvest Moon."

Ruth knew all the popular stars of the day: Al Jolson, Will Rogers, Helen Morgan, Sophie Tucker, Billie Burke, Joan Blondell, Humphrey Bogart, Fred and Adele Astaire, Jack Benny, George and Gracie Burns, Ed Wynn, and Eddie Cantor, to name just a few.
In Hollywood she made a long series of movie shorts between 1929 and 1936, and three feature movies in 1933 and 1934. Ruth made frequent appearances in the thriving new medium, radio, and established herself on the CBS Chesterfield hour, Music that Satisfies. In February 1933 a poll of 127 radio reviewers named Ruth as the leading singer of popular songs. Ruth sang with such performers as Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, and Jane Froman. In 1936, She appeared in London in Ray Henderson's Transatlantic Rhythm.
Etting divorced Moe Snyder on November 30, 1937. She fell in love with her pianist, Myrl Alderman, but in 1938 he was shot and injured by her ex-husband. Snyder was convicted of attempted murder, but released on appeal after one year in jail. Etting married Alderman in December 1938.
The scandal of the sensational trial in Los Angeles effectively ended her career. Ruth made an attempt to renew her career in 1947 when she was 50 years old.  She was booked on Rudy Vallee's radio show and then performed at the prestigious Copacabana in New York City.  This new career effort was unsuccessful, and Ruth, who wanted to be remembered when her voice was at its best, retired permanently to Colorado Springs with Myrl Alderman and lived there until her death in 1978. 

Ruth will be remembered as the small-town Nebraska girl whose simple and straightforward vocal stylings made an enormous impact on music of her day. Her life was the basis for the 1955 film Love Me or Leave Me, which starred Doris Day and James Cagney. (info Wikipedia & University Of Nebraska’s Ruth Etting Display)
Ruth Etting sings "If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)" from 1930.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Hoagy Carmichael born 22 November 1899

Howard Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael (November 22, 1899 – December 27, 1981) was an American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. He is best known for composing the music for "Stardust", "Georgia on My Mind", "The Nearness of You", and "Heart and Soul", four of the most-recorded American songs of all time.
American composer and author Alec Wilder wrote of Carmichael in American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900–1950 that he was the "most talented, inventive, sophisticated and jazz-oriented" of the hundreds of writers composing pop songs in the first half of the 20th century.
Hoagland Howard Carmichael, better known as Hoagy Carmichael, was born on November 22, 1899, in Bloomington, Indiana. He was raised in humble circumstances, supported by an electrician father, and by the income his mother earned from playing the piano at silent movie showings and local dances. Growing up, Carmichael was exposed to music not only through his mother, but by listening to jazz artists in the African-American neighbourhood of Bucktown.
A move to Indianapolis in 1916 led Carmichael to an African-American pianist named Reginald DuValle, who became a mentor and an instructor in jazz. Carmichael worked to develop his own jazz skills, leading a jazz group while at Indiana University. During his time in college, he also hired a band that featured cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, who became a good friend.
Carmichael wrote his first song for Beiderbecke; originally called "Free Wheeling," it was recorded as "Riverboat Shuffle." Carmichael turned away from music to enrol in Indiana University's law school, graduating in 1926. However, upon hearing a recording of another of his songs, "Washboard Blues," Carmichael gave up on practicing law to pursue a career in music.
 By 1929, Carmichael was writing songs in New York City. That same year, Mitchell Parrish penned lyrics for a song that Carmichael had composed earlier, "Stardust," which became a hit in 1930. Today the song has been recorded more than 1,500 times—including by Louis Armstrong in 1931—and is a beloved standard.

Other well-known numbers that Carmichael worked on early in his career include "Rockin' Chair," "Georgia on My Mind," "Up the Lazy River" and "Lazybones." On "Lazybones," he worked with lyricist Johnny Mercer, who would become a friend and frequent collaborator. In addition to having other musicians interpret his songs, Carmichael also performed his own popular versions.
In 1936, Carmichael moved to California. The songs he wrote for various films include "Heart and Soul," "The Nearness of You" and "Two Sleepy People." In 1952, he and Mercer won an Academy Award for their song "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," from the movie Here Comes the Groom, starring Bing Crosby. Carmichael also made onscreen appearances in films such as To Have and Have Not (1944) The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and The Las Vegas Story (1952).


As the 1950s progressed, Carmichael continued to write and perform, but did not reach the same level of song writing success. Having written one autobiography earlier in his career, The Stardust Road (1946), he updated his memoirs with Sometimes I Wonder (1965). Carmichael took a break from adult songs to publish a collection of children's tunes, Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop (1971).
Carmichael was selected to join the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971. Divorced from his first wife—Ruth Meinardi, with whom he had two children—in 1955, he married Wanda McKay in 1977. His many popular songs gave him a steady income, so Carmichael was able to relax and play golf as he grew older. He passed away at the age of 82 on December 27, 1981, in Rancho Mirage, California.
(Info mainly from

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Coleman Hawkins born 21 November 1904

Coleman Randolph Hawkins (November 21, 1904–May 19, 1969), nicknamed "Hawk" and sometimes "Bean", was the first great tenor soloist in jazz history, Hawkins was, along with Lester Young, one of the two most influential saxophonists of the swing era. His huge, breathy sound, and his brilliant command of harmony ensured a perfect match of emotion and technique in his playing.
Coleman Hawkins was born on November 21, 1904, in St. Joseph, Missouri. His mother, an organist, taught him piano when he was 5; at 7, he studied cello; and for his 9th birthday he received a tenor saxophone. By the age of 12 he was performing professionally at school dances; he attended high school in Chicago, then studied harmony and composition for two years at Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas.
His first regular job, in 1921, was with singer Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds, and he made his first recording with them in 1922. Based in Kansas City, the band played the major Midwestern and eastern cities, including New York, where in 1923 he guest recorded with the famous Fletcher Henderson Band. A year later he officially joined Henderson's band and remained with it until 1934.
From 1934 to 1939 Hawkins lived in Europe. He was guest soloist with the celebrated Jack Hylton Band in England, free-lanced on the Continent, and participated in a number of all-star recording sessions, the most famous of which was a 1937 get-together with the legendary Belgian gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and the great American trumpeter-alto saxophonist Benny Carter.

In 1939 he recorded a seminal jazz solo on the pop standard "Body and Soul", a landmark recording of the Swing Era. It is unique in that virtually the entire recording is improvised, with only in the first 4 bars is the melody stated in a recognizable fashion. It is considered by many to be the next evolutionary step in jazz recording from where Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues" in 1928 left off.

After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a big band he led a combo at Kelly's Stables on Manhattan's famed 52nd Street with Thelonious Monk, Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis, and Max Roach as sidemen. He was leader on the first ever bebop recording session with Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach in 1943. Later he toured with Howard McGhee and recorded with J. J. Johnson and Fats Navarro. He also toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic. In 1948 Hawkins recorded Picasso, an influential piece for unaccompanied saxophone. After 1948 Hawkins divided his time between New York and Europe, making numerous freelance recordings. In 1950, and again in 1954, he was part of Illinois Jacquet's tour of American service bases. He continued to lead recording groups with such new talented players as Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, J. J. Johnson, and Milt Jackson.
By 1950 the innovations of younger bop musicians had made Hawkins' style seem outdated. In the early 1950s he made a more complete transition to be-bop, working with Roy Eldridge throughout most of the decade. By the late 1950s he was in demand once again, playing numerous jazz festivals and recording with such artists as Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington. In the 1960s he appeared regularly at the Village Vanguard in Manhattan and recorded with Duke Ellington.
By the late 1960s Hawkins' chronic alcoholism had resulted in a deterioration of his health. He collapsed in 1967 while playing in Toronto and again a few months later at a JATP concert. In 1968, on a European tour with the Oscar Peterson Quartet, ill health forced the cancellation of the Denmark leg of the tour. Despite failing health, he continued to work regularly until a few weeks before his death.

He appeared on a Chicago television show with Roy Eldridge early in 1969, and his last concert appearance was on April 20, 1969, at Chicago's North Park Hotel. He died of bronchial pneumonia, complicated by a diseased liver, at New York's Wickersham Hospital on May 19, 1969.
(info edited from Wikipedia &

Ruth Laredo born 20 November 1937


Ruth Laredo (November 20, 1937 – May 25, 2005) was an American classical pianist. She became known in the 1970s in particular for her premiere recordings of the 10 sonatas of Scriabin and the complete solo piano works of Rachmaninoff, for her Ravel recordings and in the last 16½ years before her death for her series in the Metropolitan Museum of Art “Concerts with Commentary”. She was often referred to as “America's First Lady of the Piano”.

She was born Ruth Meckler on November 20 1937 in Detroit. As a two-year-old she was able to pick out God Bless America on a piano belonging to her mother, Miriam. At the age of eight she was taken to hear Vladimir Horowitz, and vowed then to become a professional pianist.

Although considered a prodigy, she went through normal schooling and had a local teacher in Detroit, Mischa Kottler, from Russia, whose greatest words of praise were: "Not too bad, Ruthie."
Her early concerts were given for the Music Club of Metropolitan Detroit. She later studied with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Her New York concerto debut was at Carnegie Hall with Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra in 1962.
Between 1974 and 1979 Laredo recorded all Rachmaninov's solo piano music for Columbia, the first pianist to do so. Earlier she had had recorded all of Scriabin's solo output for the little-known Connoisseur label. It was this, she said, that caused people to sit up and take notice of her. "Scriabin put me on the map," she recalled.
Her life took a more scholarly turn in 1981 when she was asked to prepare a new edition of Rachmaninov's solo piano music for Peter's Edition.

             Here's Chopins Minute Waltz from above album

On stage Ruth Laredo preferred to wear simple chiffons and silks, avoiding long sleeves or heavy beading, rather than those with elaborate flourishes. She adored high-heeled shoes that sparkle, and was often the subject of fashion articles in the American press.
She jogged daily, accompanied by the sound of Phil Collins and Genesis, and was the owner of a bracelet of peacock-blue enamel on gold with seed pearls centred in a floral design that had once belonged to Clara Schumann. It had been given to Ruth Laredo by the mother of a man to whom she was once engaged.
In the last three or four years Ruth Laredo had taken to crossover music, playing alongside jazz artists such as Marian McPartland and Dick Hyman, the three of them sometimes playing a set each, and sometimes sitting at two or three keyboards together. She appears briefly in the Woody Allen film Small Time Crooks (2000), performing at the concert attended by Hugh Grant and Tracey Ullman.
Ruth was the first pianist to perform at the Lincoln Center in New York after the tragic events of September 11 2001. The concert had originally been billed as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of her debut recital at Alice Tully Hall, but inevitably - two days after the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre - the event took on an entirely different meaning.

Outside, on the Lincoln Center plaza, an informal group gathered around the fountain for a patriotic rendition of America the Beautiful. Inside, Ruth Laredo introduced her performance to a nervous audience. "Great music gives us spiritual sustenance and gives us hope. It is in that spirit that I play tonight," she announced before sitting down to play a concert packed with emotional intensity. 
Ruth Laredo died in New York on May 25, 2005, three weeks after her last concert, which had been at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1960 she married the violinist Jamie Laredo, with whom she made some of her early recordings. They were divorced in 1976. Ruth Laredo is survived by her daughter, Jennifer, who is married to the British cellist Paul Watkins. (Info mainly from the