Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Bobby Howes born 4 August 1895

Bobby Howes (4 August 1895 – 27 April 1972) was a British entertainer who was a leading musical comedy performer in London's West End theatres in the 1930s and 1940s. 

He was born in Battersea, Surrey, as Charles Robert William Howes. His parents were Robert William Howes and Rose Marie Butler. Howes was apprenticed to be an electrical engineer before realising his ambition to go on to the stage. While in his teens he performed at music halls and with concert parties, before spending three years in the Army during World War I where he soldiered on the Western Front. He was invalided out after suffering a German mustard gas attack. 

After the war he had difficulty getting work, but he made his West End debut in 1923 in The Little Revue Starts At 9, and from then on, for the next 25 years, his inimitable comic style allied to an appealing way of putting over a song and dance, ensured that he stayed at the top in the British musical theatre in the 1930s and 1940s. 

In the 1930s, he was with Van Phillips' Four Bright Sparks whose vocalists included Billy Milton and Ray Starita. Four Bright Sparks recorded at least 60 sides. 


Among the shows and revues he appeared in were The Second Little Revue (1924), The Punch Bowl, The Blue Kitten, Vaudeville Vanities, The Blue Train, The Yellow Mask, Mr. Cinders - the first of three in which he starred with Binnie Hale (‘I’m A One-Man

Girl and "Ev'ry Little Moment"), Sons O’ Guns, Song Of The Drum, For The Love Of Mike (‘Who Do You Love?’ and ‘Got A Date With An Angel’), Tell Her The Truth, He Wanted Adventure, Yes Madame?, Please, Teacher, Big Business, Hide And Seek (‘She’s My Lovely’), Bobby Get Your Gun, All Clear, Shephard’s Pie, Lady Behave, Let’s Face It!, Here Come The Boys, Four, Five, Six!, and Roundabout.

In 1953 he starred with his daughter, Sally Ann Howes (b. 20 July 1930, London, England) in Paint Your Wagon. He continued on the stage, including Broadway, and in films. One of his most acclaimed roles was as the eponymous lead in Finian's Rainbow when it was revived on Broadway in 1960. By the end of the decade he had retired. 

He was married to Patricia Malone and had two children Sally Ann Howes and Peter Howes. He died on 27 April 1972 in London, England. 

(Edited from Wikipedia & AllMusic)

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

James Tyler born 3 August 1940

James Tyler (August 3, 1940 – November 23, 2010) was a 20th-century American lutenist, banjoist, guitarist, composer, musicologist and author, who helped pioneer an early music revival. As a dynamic soloist and ensemble musician, he performed extensively in chamber music series and festivals throughout the world. He made more than 60 recordings, including two popular versions of Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Mandolins and Strings, with the English Concert under Trevor Pinnock and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Neville Marriner. 

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Jim started to study the mandolin, tenor banjo and the classic five-string banjo in 1954 with Walter Kaye Bauer, who gave him a first-class grounding in technique and musicianship. Jim found that the techniques he acquired on the circa-1900 gut-strung banjo were almost akin to those for the renaissance lute and baroque guitar – much more so than the Segovia-style classical guitar technique that many of his contemporaries were using on the lute. 

A recital by the lute virtuoso Joseph Iadone led to Jim falling in love in his late teens with the instrument's "luscious" sound and extraordinarily rich repertoire. Iadone, a member of the early music ensemble New York Pro Musica and teacher at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, accepted him as a private student. 

In 1963 Jim joined the Pro Musica, and made his recording debut. That year he also performed with the Consort Players and Basil Rathbone in An Elizabethan Evening at the White House before the Kennedy family and their guest, the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. With Max Morath and the Original Rag Quartet, he toured the US, recording and playing the tenor and five-string banjo on such vintage television shows as the Bell Telephone Hour and The Dinah Shore Show. 

                             Here's "Piva" from above L.P.


In 1968 Jim left the US to work in Munich with Thomas Binkley, director of the Studio der Frühen Musik. By the start of the following year, he was in London, having realised it was the true centre of early music activity. He appeared as a lutenist in the 1971 film, Mary Queen of Scots. He also composed music for BBC television productions of Shakespeare plays, including The Good Old Days. 

He married Joyce Geller, a former screenwriter, in 1975, and she subsequently took over the management of his career. In 1977, he founded the "London Early Music Group," an early music ensemble which lasted until 1990. While on tour, Jim visited libraries to study original books and manuscripts for his numerous publications on early instruments, their repertories and performing practices. 

For Oxford University Press he wrote The Guitar and Its Music: From the Renaissance to the Classical Era (with Paul Sparks, 2002); The Early Mandolin (with Sparks, 1989); and his first book, The Early Guitar: A History and a Handbook (1980), as well as numerous articles in the various New Grove dictionaries and the journal Early Music. 

From 1986 until his retirement in 2006, Jim was professor of music and director of the master's and doctoral degree programs in early music performance that he founded at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Tyler provided "very gentle leadership, always had a jolly smile on his face and was always positive," one of his USC students said in tribute. 

James Tyler died at age 70 on November 23, 2010, after a short illness 

(Edited from an obit by Nina Treadwell @ The Guardian & Wikipedia)

Monday, 2 August 2021

André Gagnon born 2 August 1936

André Gagnon OC OQ (2 August 1936 – 3 December 2020) was a Canadian pianist, composer, conductor, arranger, and actor. During a career spanning 40 years, he embraced many styles from baroque, to classical and disco. 

Born in Saint-Pacome-de-Kamouraska, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River he was the youngest of nineteen children. Gagnon composed from the age of six. He took theory lessons with Léon Destroismaisons in Ste. Anne-de-la-Pocatière from 1952-53 and studied at the Conservatoire de musique à Montréal with Germaine Malépart (piano), Clermont Pépin (composition), and Gilberte Martin (solfège) from 1957 to 1961. At the same time, he developed an interest in popular music. In 1961, he received a premier prix harmony from the CMM. That same year, on a grant from the Quebec government, he studied in Paris with Yvonne Loriod and took courses in accompanying and conducting.

On his return to Canada in 1962, Gagnon became the accompanist for Claude Léveillée. He was music director, arranger and pianist for most of Léveillée's recordings until 1969. During this period he also composed music for many Canadian TV shows.  He also accompanied Jacques Blanchet, Pierre Calvé, Renée Claude, Claude Gauthier, Pauline Julien, Pierre Létourneau, and Monique Leyrac, among others. He also arranged several songs for Leyrac. In 1967, he was the soloist in a Mozart concert conducted by Raymond Dessaints at Place des Arts (PDA). 

In 1969, André Gagnon gave up accompanying to devote himself to a career as soloist, composer, and arranger. He recorded Mes Quatre Saisons in the style of Vivaldi, based on themes drawn from the songs of Jean-Pierre Ferland, Félix Leclerc, Claude Léveillée and Gilles Vigneault. Gagnon was among the artists chosen to represent Canada at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan. That same year, he toured Quebec with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra. In 1972, he gave a concert of his works at the PDA with the McGill Chamber Orchestra. He performed in France in 1975 and 1976 and Mexico in 1976. His name appeared on many hit charts. 


His album Neiges, featuring the catchy disco tune Wow, became a huge hit, winning the 1977 Juno Award for bestselling Canadian album of the year and spending weeks on the Billboard list of top-selling LPs. 

In 1978, he presented a show at Massey Hall in Toronto and at the PDA. Subsequently he toured Quebec and other provinces and 10 US cities (1979). In the spring of 1981, Gagnon participated in a series of concerts with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In the next few years, he performed in Venezuela, Mexico, Rumania and Greece. In 1983, he recorded Impressions with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London, and performed Mozart’s Concerto No. 22 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit. He joined Claude Léveillée at the PDA in a show of their classic hits. 

Claude Leveillee & Andre Gagnon 1985

In 1986, after touring Australia, Gagnon performed at the Spectrum in Montreal. He then took part in a symphonic concert at Ontario Place in Toronto, followed by concerts in Ottawa and Quebec City. In 1989, he played in Tokyo with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under Kazuyoshi Akiyama. Gagnon developed a large following in Japan over the next 15 years. He recorded and re-released many albums for the Japanese market under the RCA Victor label. He first toured that country in 1991, returning seven times between 1996 and 2003. 

He recorded his Noël album with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in 1992. He collaborated again with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1994, recording Romantique. January 1992, Gagnon composed the music for the film The Pianist. In 1999, the album Juliette Pomerleau was released. In 2011, the album Les chemins ombragés was certified a gold album having sold 40,000 copies. 

Gagnon was honoured and awarded many times. In 1978, Gagnon was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He received the Félix award for instrumental album of the year 12 times between 1978 and 2017. Gagnon won a Juno Award for Neiges, the best-selling record in Canada in 1977, and two more for Le Saint-Laurent, in 1978, and Romantique, in 1997, as instrumental artist of the year. He received a Gemini award for original score for Des dames de coeur in 1988. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He was made an Officier of the Ordre National du Québec in 2018. 

Mr. Gagnon’s later years were marked by health problems. In the early 2000s, he was struck with a case of Dupuytren’s contracture, a genetic disease that causes the fingers to become permanently bent toward the palm in a claw-like position. With his right hand struck by the disease, he stopped performing and giving concerts for several years, only resuming with a concert tour in 2010 after successful hand surgery. 

The symptoms of Lewy body dementia appeared around 2015 but worsened each following year, leaving him incapable of communicating with friends and loved ones as the dementia took hold. Gagnon died on 3 December 2020, in Quebec at the age of 84 years old. 

(Edited mainly from The Canadian Encyclopedia and The Globe & Mail)

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Pat Thomas born 31 July 1938

Pat Thomas (31 July 1938 – 24 March 1992) was an American jazz singer from Chicago who had a hit with "Desafinado". Surprisingly she is virtually forgotten even as part of the scene of which she was, all too briefly, a major talent. 

Born in Chicago 31 July 1938, her real name was Patricia Thomas. The seventh of eight children, her talent is inherited from her parents, both of whom sang in church choirs. Pat’s sister Mildred was a singer, and her brother Earl Teddy played drums with Dakota Staton and Carmen McRae. Pat attended Dunbar Vocational in Chicago where she had decided to become a dress designer. She summered as a Red Cross swimming instructor, and her athletic ability spread to baseball and basketball as well. But dress designing and sports have gone a-glimmering. Pat’s a singer. 

Pat Thomas began her career in Chicago, where she was born and raised. She won a TV Talent Show for amateur’s turning professional. By this time she was the hometown singer, most sought after by local groups and by visiting musicians. She raised a few eyebrows when she sang with Norman Simmons’ highly successful “Experimental Jazz Band.” When she moved to New York, she made friendship with singer Ernestine Anderson who helped to get connections. Pat Thomas sang with Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Persip, Gigi Gryce and Art Blakey in venues like the Metropole, Birdland, the Basie's Bar and Small's. 


She was the most sought-after female singer by local and visiting musicians, who valued her way of handling lyrics. Pat could be classified as a pop-jazz vocalist. She had directness and clarity mixed with a subtle reading of a song, a warm vocal sound, impeccable intonation, and an unaffectedly sincere feel for the blues.

She recorded an album in the fall of 1960 for the Strand label titled “Jazz Patterns” with a band that included Booker Little, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Roland Alexander, tenor sax & flute; Teddy Charles, vibes; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Reggie Workman, bass; Charlie Persip, drums. 

She was just 24 when she recorded the first English-language version of the bossa nova hit, Desafinado, for Verve in 1962; released as a debut single with One Note Samba it won her a Grammy nomination. Transferred to MGM for release, it was part of  Desafinado, the album she made that year with some notable musicians, including Bud Shank, Laurindo Almeida, Mel Lewis and arranger Lalo Schifrin, plus orchestra. 

It sold well and led to a second album, Moody’s Mood, in 1963, with orchestras arranged by Claus Ogerman and several others. Featuring Johnny Hodges and Hank Jones in some tracks it showed her range was much greater than her ready mastery of the Brazilian idiom and confirmed the further qualities of an artist hailed as “a good singer on her way to becoming a great one”. 

Somehow, that never materialized for all that is known of her is written during her brief burst of recognition during the early sixties.  

In October 1964, "Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face", backed with "The Long Long Night", was released on Verve. "Home in the Meadow", backed with "Where There's Love There's Hope", was released in 1967, also on Verve.

She died in her Los Angeles home, unheralded, on 24th March 1992.   (Edited from Fresh Sound Records & Discogs)

Friday, 30 July 2021

Marc Bolan born 30 September 1947

Marc Bolan (30 September 1947* – 16 September 1977) was an English singer-songwriter, guitarist and poet. He is best known as the founder, front man, lead singer & guitarist for T. Rex, but also a successful solo artist. His music, as well as his highly original sense of style and extraordinary stage presence, helped create the glam rock era which made him one of the most recognizable stars in British rock music. 

Marc Bolan was born Mark Feld in Hackney London. Following stints as a male model, playing in a school band with Helen Shapiro and being a Mod about town he started to make serious efforts to be a star. Marc's debut single "The Wizard" was released, on Decca Records in the U.K, in 1965 and followed up with, "The Third Degree" &"Hippy Gumbo . 

As sales were not good his then manager Simon Napier-Bell, arranged for him to join the group John's Children in early 1967. Later in 1967 Marc and percussionist Steve Peregine Took formed an acoustic duo called Tyrannosaurus Rex. They made three albums, then following an acrimonious American tour, split up. Steve Took died tragically in 1980 after choking on a cherry stone. Marc brought in Mickey Finn as a replacement for the new album Beard of Stars (1970). This album also returned Marc to his electric roots. 

In 1970 Marc shortened the group name to T. Rex. The change worked as later that year they achieved a no 2 U.K. hit with "Ride a White Swan," the first of ten straight Top Ten hits, and the album "T. Rex" was well received. The group was enlarged to include bass player Steve Currie and drummer Bill Legend. 

T. Rex were now a full-fledged electric band, and scored number one hits in 1971 with "Hot Love" and "Get It On." Renamed "Bang a Gong” the song became T. Rex's only notable U.S. hit, making the Top Ten in 1972. The album "Electric Warrior" (1971) was released and is still thought by many to be T.Rex's finest hour. It topped the U.K. charts and "Jeepster" was lifted from it as a single by the record company, apparently against Marc's wishes. 


"Telegram Sam" (1972) became T. Rex's third U.K. number one. This was followed by a fourth, "Metal Guru". "The Slider" album, became a Top five hit in July 1972. T. Rex's seventh straight Top Ten single, "Children of the Revolution," became the first single to break the run of number 1's, peaking at 2. "Solid Gold Easy Action" in December also made number 2. 

March 1973 saw the release of "20th Century Boy," the ninth T. Rex Top Ten single and possibly now the most famous today, due to it's use in a "Levi", advert featuring a young Brad Pitt, in 1991."Tanx" the album, featuring Marc sitting on a small tank in a suggestive way, also went top 10 In June 1973, "The Groover" famous for the intro shout of T-R-E-X! became the groups's tenth and final Top Ten single. 

Elton John, Marc Bolan & Rod Stewart 

Marc tried using his own name on records, issuing the non-charting "Blackjack" single+  credited to "Big Carrot", also issuing "Teenage Dream" as Marc Bolan and T.Rex, finally going back to the "T.Rex brand" even though the original group was fragmenting, Bill Legend having already left. The album "Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow" (1974) can really be seen as the start of Marc Bolan's decline. Around this time Marc also parted company with his wife June, following an affair with T.Rex backing singer Gloria Jones. Long time producer Tony Visconti also left. Marc would now produce on his own. The singles "Teenage Dream" and "Truck On (Tyke) both missed the top 10, more proof of the slip taking place. 

Marc's increasing use of drink and drugs had made him noticeably overweight That coupled with his desire to crack America only dimmed his star more in the U.K. A constantly changing line up for T.Rex also left fans wondering what was going on. A change of style hinted on "Zinc Alloy" became fact on the next album, "Bolan's Zip Gun" (1975). Around this time Mickey Finn also departed T.Rex. On 26 September 1975 Marc and Gloria had a child and called him "Rolan" 

This new responsibility had a positive effect on Marc and he started to cut back on his excesses, although the drink was still a problem. Marc left the UK for tax reasons in early 1976 spending the year between Monaco and the USA. A new television show called "Supersonic" appeared in the UK, it's host Mike Mansfield was to become a leading light in returning Marc Bolan to the public stage. This coupled with Marc's interviewing slot on the "Today" show propelled Marc back as a 'face'. The album "Futuristic Dragon" was released in 1976. 

The arrival of Punk had obliterated most of Marc's fellow chart acts from the early seventies, with the notable exception of David Bowie. Ironically Marc's last televised performance was with David Bowie in the final "Marc” show recorded just days before Marc's death. It was shown posthumously in tribute.

For much of his life Marc Bolan had always said he would not live to make 30 years old. In the early hours of 16 September 1977 a purple Mini 1275 GT driven by Gloria Jones left the road and hit a tree in Barnes, London. In the passenger seat was 29 year old Marc Bolan. He was killed instantly, two weeks short of his 30th birthday.  (Edited from

(*some sources list his birth date as July 30, 1947, or September 30, 1948)

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Charlie Christian born 29 July 1916

Charles Henry Christian (July 29, 1916 – March 2, 1942) was an American swing and jazz guitarist. 

It can be said without exaggeration that virtually every jazz guitarist that emerged during 1940-65 sounded like a relative of Charlie Christian. The first important electric guitarist, Christian played his instrument with the fluidity, confidence, and swing of a saxophonist. Although technically a swing stylist, his musical vocabulary was studied and emulated by the bop players, and when one listens to players ranging from Tiny Grimes, Barney Kessel, and Herb Ellis, to Wes Montgomery and George Benson, the dominant influence of Christian is obvious. 

Charlie Christian's time in the spotlight was terribly brief. Born in Bonham, Texas, to Clarence and Willie Christian, Charlie Christian moved with the family to Oklahoma City in 1918. He followed the musical tradition of his older brothers and father and learned to play the trumpet before he was ten. By age twelve he switched to the guitar, making his own crude instrument from cigar boxes in manual training class, as novelist and family friend Ralph Ellison recalled. 

Christian attended Douglass High School in Oklahoma City and learned his music on Deep Deuce, or Northeast Second Street, an incubator for many of the nation's jazz greats. In the 1930s he played string bass with Alphonso Trent's band. Then in 1937 he discovered the instrument with which he would be forever associated—the electric guitar. Taught by Eddie Durham, of the Count Basie band, and Jim Daddy Walker, of the Jap Allen group, Christian took his lessons to a higher level, changing the electric guitar from a rhythm instrument to an important solo presence in the orchestra. His distinctive stylistic innovations had an undeniable influence on generations of jazz and popular music guitarists. 

For all his talent and technique, Christian might have remained a regional sensation if not for jazz producer John Hammond. Hammond was impressed by Charlie's playing, and he arranged for him to audition for one most successful jazz musicians in the world: bandleader and clarinetist Benny Goodman. 

On August 10, 1939, Goodman met Christian at a recording studio in Los Angeles. Goodman thought meeting Charlie was a waste of time, and the entire audition lasted only a few minutes. Charlie's association with the legendary Goodman might have ended there, but Hammond was a persistent man. He arranged for Charlie to sit in with Goodman's band that night, and Charlie's guitar playing held the audience spellbound for over 40 minutes. Goodman was impressed, and hired Christian to play with his newly formed sextet. 


By February 1940 Christian dominated the jazz and swing guitar polls and was elected to the Metronome All Stars. In the spring of 1940 Goodman let most of his entourage go in reorganization. He retained Christian, and in the fall of that year Goodman led a sextet with Christian, Count Basie, Duke Ellington trumpeter Cootie Williams, former Artie Shaw tenor saxophonist Georgie Auld and later drummer Dave Tough. 

This all-star band dominated the jazz polls in 1941, including another election to the Metronome All Stars for Christian. Johnny Guarnieri, who replaced Henderson in the first sextet, filled the piano chair in Basie's absence. As well as playing guitar for Benny Goodman, Charlie participated in after hours jam sessions with other musicians in places such as Mintons and Monroes in New York City. 

While touring the Midwest in the summer of 1941, he began showing severe signs of tuberculosis, a malady blamed on years spent in an Oklahoma City slum apartment house. 

He entered the Seaview Sanatarium at Staten Island, New York, and he died there on March 2, 1942, at the age of twenty-five. 

He was buried in an unmarked grave in Bonham, Texas. A Texas State Historical Commission Marker and headstone were placed in Gates Hill Cemetery in 1994. The location of the historical marker and headstone was disputed, and in March 2013, Fannin County, Texas, recognized that the marker was in the wrong spot and that Christian is buried under a concrete slab. 

In 1966, 24 years after his death, Christian was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1989 the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame created its first seven inductions, which included Christian. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence in 1990. 

All of the guitarist's recordings (including guest spots and radio broadcasts) are currently available on CD.    (Edited mainly from AllMusic,  &, Wikipedia)

Sadly, there is no film available of Charlie Christian playing live, so included is a slide show.