Thursday, 18 July 2019

Dion DiMucci born 18 July 1939


Dion DiMucci (born Dion Francis DiMucci, 18 July 1939), better known as Dion, is an American singer-songwriter, now widely recognized as one of the top singers of his era, blending the best elements of doo-wop, pop, and R&B styles.

Dion was born to an Italian-American family in the Bronx borough of New York City. As a child, he used to accompany his father, a vaudeville entertainer, on tour, and developed a love of country music – particularly Hank Williams – and the blues and doo-wop stars he heard in local bars and on the radio. His singing abilities were honed on the street corners of Crotona Avenue, where he rounded up other local singers inventing acapella licks, and in local clubs.

In early 1957 he auditioned for Bob and Gene Schwartz, who had just formed Mohawk Records. They recorded him with a vocal group, The Timberlanes, and released a single "The Chosen Few", arranged by Hugo Montenegro, which became a minor regional hit.

Schwartz also signed up Dion's friends, The Belmonts, named after nearby Belmont Avenue. Their breakthrough together came in early 1958, when "I Wonder Why" made # 22 on the national US charts, followed up with "No One Knows" and "Don’t Pity Me" which were also chart hits.

Dion with Buddy Holly

This success won Dion and the Belmonts a place on the "Winter Dance Party" tour with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On 2 February 1959, after playing at Clear Lake, Iowa, Dion decided that he could not afford the $36 cost of a flight to the next venue . The plane crashed, and Holly and the other stars were killed.


                               

In March 1959, Dion and the Belmonts’ next single, "A Teenager In Love", was released, making # 5 in the US pop charts and # 28 in the UK. Their biggest hit, "Where or When", was released in November 1959, and reached #3 on the US charts. However, in early 1960, Dion checked in to hospital for heroin addiction, a
problem he had had since his mid-teens. Further single releases for the group that year were less successful, there were musical and financial differences between Dion and members of the Belmonts, and in October 1960 Dion decided to quit for a solo career.

He moved from doo wop to more R&B/pop-oriented tunes with great success. He handled himself with a suave, cocky ease on hits like "The Wanderer," "Runaround Sue," "Lovers Who Wander," "Ruby Baby," and "Donna the Prima Donna," which cast him as either the jilted, misunderstood youngster or the macho lover, capable of handling anything that came his way (especially on "The Wanderer").

In 1963, Dion moved from Laurie to the larger Columbia label, an association that started promisingly with a couple of big hits right off the bat, "Ruby Baby" and "Donna the Prima Donna." By the mid-'60s, his heroin habit (which he'd developed as a teenager) was getting the best of him, and he did little recording and performing for about five years.

In 1968, Dion had what he would later describe as a powerful religious experience. He kicked heroin and re-emerged as a gentle folk-rocker with a number four hit single, "Abraham, Martin and John." Dion would focus upon mature, contemporary material on his late-'60s and early-'70s albums, which were released to positive 
critical feedback, if only moderate sales. The folk phase didn't last long; in 1972 he reunited with the Belmonts and in the mid-'70s cut a disappointing record with Phil Spector as producer. He recorded and performed fairly often in the years that followed (sometimes singing Christian music), to indifferent commercial results.

Dion continued to be active as the 21st century opened, releasing Déjà Nu in 2000, Under the Influence in 2005, and Bronx in Blue in 2006. His first major-label album since 1989's Yo Frankie, Son of Skip James was released by Verve in 2007, while 2008's Heroes: Giants of Early Guitar Rock saw him tackling 15 songs from the classic rock & roll era. 
Influenced by a conversation with rock critic Dave Marsh about his long and still relevant career, and a dare from his wife Susan to prove it, Dion cut Tank Full of Blues, producing and playing the guitars himself on the recording and writing or co-writing all but one track on the set. Issued on Blue Horizon, it is the final recording in the trilogy that began with Bronx in Blue.
  
Dion signed to Instant Records in 2015 and immediately set to recording a new studio album. Entitled New York Is My Home, its first single and title track -- a duet with Paul Simon -- was pre-released in November digitally and as a striking video. The album was issued in the winter of 2016.   (Edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Sheila Guyse born 14 July 1925


Etta Drucille Guyse, known as Sheila Guyse* (July 14, 1925 – December 28, 2013), was a beautiful multi-talented, popular and well-loved figure on the stage and screen during the 1940s and 1950s. Some critics even felt she was a better actress than Dandridge, some said if Sheila ever decided to go to Hollywood, she would give her a run for her money.

Sheila Guyse was born on July 14, 1925, in Forest, Mississippi. Shemoved with her parents in 1945 to Manhattan, New York City, where she worked at a dime store on 125th Street, across from the Apollo Theatre. Guyse first got her start in show business by performing in amateur shows, as was common among black performers. She made nightclub debut in 1945 at Club Zombie in Detroit.

Sheila had a sultry "girl-next-door" appeal which she showcased in three independent all-Black films (so-called "race films") of the late 1940s: Boy! What a Girl! (1947), Sepia Cinderella (1947, co-starring with Billy Daniels), and Miracle in Harlem (1948), giving impressive performances in all of them. She also appeared in the "Harlem Follies of 1949" and in a 1957 television adaptation of the play The Green Pastures. She was popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and graced many covers of publications such as Jet, Ebony, and Our World. She also was known to grace the cover of a magazine called Hue.

She was not an experienced or trained actress but she was a natural talent. She made her Broadway debut in the stage production Memphis Bound, which opened in 1945. She was selected to play the female lead opposite Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. The show closed after 36 performances. She also appeared in the Broadway stage productions Lost in the Stars and Finian's Rainbow, which were both long-running. Lost in the Stars won a Outer Circle Critics Award. Guyse contributed to cast recordings for these productions. 


          Here’s “You’re Driving me Crazy” from above album.

                              

Her singing voice was as beautiful as she was; divine, sweet, easy on the ears whether singing jazz, pop, or gospel.

Sheila Guyse was married three times. She married and divorced Shelby Irving Miller, and their union produced one daughter, Sheila Crystal Miller. Guyse's most publicized marriage, however, was to her second husband, Kenneth Davis. Guyse and Davis met on the set of Finian's Rainbow, where Davis was a dancer. They married in Philadelphia, but spent the majority of their marriage in the Bronx, NY. In 1954 Ken Davis and Sheila Guyse announced that they would end their marriage.

Shelia Guyse's health played a very important role in her career as a performer and entertainer. She struggled with her heath many times throughout her career which caused her to turn down various roles and even take time away from the entertainment industry. In 1953, she was diagnosed with stomach ulcers a day after she had accepted a role in the Broadway stage production Mile High. She later came back to the entertainment industry in 1958 to record her only studio album, This is Sheila. Although she attempted to make a career comeback she struggled to get back into industry.

As a struggling single mother she met Joseph Jackson, a New York sanitation worker who was so enthralled by her that he would sometimes follow her in his garbage truck. After they married, in 1958, Ms. Guyse stopped performing and became increasingly involved with a Jehovah’s Witness hall in Queens. The couple had two children and remained married until his death in 2012.  Sheila died the following year in Honolulu from complications due to Alzheimer's disease on December 28, 2013, at the age of 88


Legendary Miles Davis said he never understood why Sheila Guyse wasn’t a legend or more known. He considered her as great a singer as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Miles new them all but Sheila was at the top of his list.

(Edited from Wikipedia. IMDB & NY Times). 

*( rhymes with “nice”)

Here’s a clip of Billy Daniels & Sheila Guyse performing "Cinderella" (1947)

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Tom King born 13 July 1942


Thomas R. King (July 13, 1942 – April 23, 2011) was an American songwriter, guitarist, and arranger. He founded the 1960s rock band The Outsiders, and co-wrote the band's biggest hit song, "Time Won't Let Me".

He was 15 years old when he formed his first group, the Starfires, at Shaw High School in Cleveland in 1958. At the time, he was more familiar with classical music than with rock & roll, but he knew what he liked and was proficient enough as a guitarist to lead the quintet he assembled, writing occasional original numbers as well as arranging and producing their sound. He also had his uncle, Patrick Connelly, in his corner -- Connelly owned a local recording outfit called Pama Records and had enough contacts to get the band a radio audition that landed them numerous on-air appearances. The Starfires loved hard R&B and earned a good living playing the local clubs, emulating the sound of James Brown's band and specializing in hot instrumentals with the occasional vocal contribution from King.

By early 1965 the band's membership consisted of King on rhythm guitar, Bill Bruno on lead guitar, Mert Madsen on bass, and Jim Fox (later of James Gang) on drums. Later that year, Fox departed for college and was replaced by Ronnie Harka. The advent of the British Invasion led to a change in public taste and a drying up of some of their work -- at around the same time, King had lost much of his vocal ability in the wake of a tonsillectomy. The group added lead singer Sonny Geraci to the line-up and retooled its sound as more of a lean, horn-based outfit, similar to the Buckinghams.

The group was under contract with Pama Records, which was owned by King's uncle, Patrick Connelly, and in late 1965 that they recorded "Time Won't Let Me" for the label. As they recorded it, the song is a simple, catchy, and danceable tune. Its basic arrangement was augmented by a horn section, applied in an unobtrusive manner as not to not detract from the band's fundamental sound, which on this occasion features a signature riff from a twelve string electric guitar by Al Austin with added sax by Sonny’s brother Mike Geraci.

Sufficiently impressed upon hearing it, Capitol Records signed the band on the strength of the song, and shortly thereafter King changed the band's name from the Starfires to the Outsiders, possibly at the urging of the new label and enjoyed a number five single with their debut, "Time Won't Let Me" (co-authored by King), early in 1966.


                             

The Outsiders promoted their hit single with about a year of nationwide touring, as it stayed on the national charts for 15 weeks (although their music was released in other countries, the band never toured overseas). The band first toured with Paul Revere and the Raiders and then with Chad and Jeremy. Later, the Outsiders were part of a six-week tour of one-night stands headed by Gene
Pitney, which included seven or eight other acts, among them Len Barry, B.J. Thomas and Bobby Goldsboro. Afterwards, the Outsiders joined a four-week tour with several garage rock and psychedelic rock bands

A short-lived but memorable cover of the Isley Brothers' "Respectable" from Album No. 2 reached No. 15 in early September 1966. The Outsiders had performed "Respectable" during their earlier years as the Starfires.
Though none of their subsequent records made the Top Ten, the group enjoyed a three-year run of success that ended with King's departure from the band in the early spring of 1968.

The line-up disintegrated soon after, and in 1970, anticipating the spate of lawsuits over name ownership that would become common in the '90s, King and Geraci each claimed the name the Outsiders. Both ended up in court, where King won the use of the name, forcing Geraci to rechristen the group that he and Walter Nims had formed, from the Outsiders to Climax, which subsequently enjoyed a number three national hit with Nims' song "Precious and Few."

Meanwhile, King turned to production work and management, handling acts such as country vocalist Lisa Butler. By the '90s, with '60s music in vogue again and "Time Won't Let Me" having been established as one of the most popular records of the decade to have come out of Cleveland, he also began fronting a re-formed Outsiders with Walter Nims, which released a live album.

In the late '90s, more than 40 years after entering rock & roll professionally, King had been included in the Cleveland exhibit of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, based in that city. King won a BMI award for “Time Won’t Let me,” the song having been played on the radio over four million times.

King died at a nursing home in Wickliffe, Ohio on April 23, 2011 at the age of 68. He suffered from congestive heart failure. 

(Edited mainly from AllMusic bio by Bruce Eder with help from Wikipedia & waybackattack)

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Danny Flores born 11 July 1929


Danny Flores (born Daniel Flores; July 11, 1929 – September 19, 2006), also known by his stage name Chuck Rio, was an American rock and roll saxophonist. He is best remembered for his self-penned song "Tequila", which he recorded with The Champs, and which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Flores was born in Santa Paula, California and grew up in Long Beach. He was interested in the guitar from an early age, first performing at church and family gatherings. At 14, however, Flores switched to the saxophone, forming his first band, the 3-D Ranch Boys. Emulating the rasping sounds of tenor saxophonist Vido Musso, Flores played a variety of music genres -- jazz, country, pop, and blues—to cater to his hard-going blue-collar clientele. Much to Flores's amusement, he has remarked, during this early stage of his career, he was commonly called the "Mexican Hillbilly". In the early 1950s, Flores recorded vocals for small Pasadena-based record labels, before signing to Modern Records/RPM Records, and releasing his earliest rock and roll material.
 (l - r) Joe Burnas, Dave Burgess, Gene Alden, 
Dale Norris.and Chuck Rio/Daniel Flores 
In 1957, Flores met aspiring songwriter and guitarist Dave Burgess. After briefly performing as Danny and Dave, the duo recruited former members of Flores's group, drummer Gene Alden and guitarist Buddy Bruce, along with bassist Cliff Hills and Vocalist Huelyn Duvall, who were session musicians, to form the Champs. On December 23, 1957, the group recorded three songs for Challenge Records, including Flores's instrumental Tequila.


                             

The song is highlighted by Flores's "dirty sax" arrangements and hollering of "Tequila". However, because of this one spoken phrase by Flores, he was credited as Chuck Rio to avoid conflicts with his other record label, where he was signed as a vocalist. "Tequila" was released as the B-side to the Champs' debut single, but after
listeners requested the song over its A-side "Train to Nowhere", "Tequila" propelled to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1958.

Conflicts between Flores and Burgess over leadership and the band's musical direction led to Flores's departure in June, 1958. A heavy drinker in those days, he signed away his royalty rights in the United States for a pittance – though he always maintained that he had done so unwittingly, he told the Register in 2000. Ultimately did not receive any royalties from the tune, despite its success.

In the Fifties, he also recorded vocal sides for Modern under his real name, Danny Flores, while, in the early Sixties, he cut surf instrumentals for Saturn with the Creshendoes (who were sometimes billed as the Persuaders behind their leader Chuck "Tequila" Rio).

The saxophonist formed the Original Champs, who soon became known as the Originals, but never came close to creating another  "Tequila". By 1963, Rio had moved to the Saturn label, where he cut a series of raucous instrumentals later gathered on the Surfer's Nightmare album.

In 1970 a blood disorder directly linked to his abuse of alcohol landed Flores in hospital. With the support of his new wife Sharee (22 years his junior) he overcame his addiction. In the mid-1970s Danny and Sharee began performing as a duo ; they have appeared in Las Vegas and in prominent clubs all over the country. They and two other musicians also performed as Chuck Rio and the Champs in the 1980s and 1990s.

Although the couple moved to Westminster, they still performed in and around Long Beach, and always played "Tequila," usually several times a night until 2001, when his Parkinson’s disease worsened.  It was not until the early 2000s that he finally received royalties — albeit only for sales in Europe — for Tequila.

Flores died at the age of 77 on September 19, 2006 at Huntington Beach Hospital as a consequence of complications of pneumonia.  (Edited from Wikipedia, Spectropop & The Independent)

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Milt Buckner born 10 July 1915


Milton Brent Buckner (July 10, 1915 – July 27, 1977) was an American jazz pianist and organist, who in the early 1950s popularized the Hammond organ. He pioneered the parallel chords style that influenced Red Garland, George Shearing, Bill Evans, and Oscar Peterson.

Milton Brent Buckner was born in St. Louis, Missouri. His parents encouraged him to learn to play piano, but they both died when he was nine years old. Milt and his younger brother were sent to Detroit where they were adopted by members of the Earl Walton band: trombonist John Tobias, drummer George Robinson (Milt) and reed player Fred Kewley (Ted). Buckner studied piano for three years from the age 10, then at 15 began writing arrangements for the band.

While studying at the Detroit Institute of Arts he performed with Mose Burke & the Dixie Whangdoodles and the Harlem Aristocrats. After drummer and bandleader Don Cox hired him in 1932, Buckner began to develop a uniquely percussive technique employing parallel tonal patterns, later referred to as "block chords," a style now associated with Oscar Peterson and George Shearing. During the '30s Buckner also worked in groups led by Jimmy Raschelle, Lanky Bowman, and Howard Bunts.

His first big break came in 1941 when he became Lionel Hampton's staff arranger and assistant director. His predilection for rocking rhythms and boogie-woogie fit nicely with Hamp's approach to entertainment. Buckner worked with Hampton during the years 1941-1948.

Buckner's earliest recordings survive as a set of piano solos etched into Presto transcription acetates cut In 1945 Buckner made records with Wynonie Harris, including Harris' smash hit, "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop." In 1946 he made the first of a series of recordings with a group variously billed as the Beale Street Boys, the Beale Street Gang, and the Hot Shots. Over the next three years Buckner led a series of dates for the Savoy label. In 1949 he made records with a big band for MGM, 
Hampton & Buckner 1951
sat in on an Eddie Condon Floorshow with drummer Buddy Rich and tap-dancer Baby Laurence on NBC TV, and conducted Teddy Stewart's Orchestra behind Dinah Washington on a date for Mercury records.He then returned to Hampton’s band in 1950.

It was around this time that Buckner first switched from piano to organ. He trundled it out again in Houston TX during the spring of 1952 while backing vocalist Sonny Parker with Gladys Hampton's Blue Boys for Peacock records. Milt recorded for the Scooter, Regent and Brunswick labels, and jammed with saxophonist Charlie Parker in 1953 at the bandbox in New York City. He sat piano for the Imperials (with Willie Dixon playing bass) on a Great Lakes session that took place in Detroit during the spring of 1954.


                         Here's "The Beast" from above EP

                            

Milt Buckner was a Capitol recording artist from April 1955 through July 1957. He taped his first Argo LP in New York in December 1959 with guitarist Kenny Burrell and bassist Joe Benjamin. More Argo sessions came together in Chicago in 1960 and 1961, and he had dealings with the Bethlehem label in
Cincinnati in 1962 and 1963. In March 1966 a performance with 
saxophonist Illinois Jacquet was taped live at Lennie's on the turnpike in West Peabody, MA and subsequently released on the Cadet label.

Like many U.S. jazz musicians who struggled at home and did better abroad, Milt Buckner clearly preferred the cultural and vocational climate in Europe. Over the 11 years that remained in his life, he only returned to North America for brief concert and club bookings -- five times to the U.S. and twice to Canada.

Beginning in 1966 with his first Parisian session in the company of Illinois Jacquet and trumpeter Roy Eldridge, Buckner's discography indicates a more stable working environment involving skilled musicians and appreciative audiences. Milt Buckner's final decade of professional activity is mostly measured in recordings issued on the Black & Blue label, with the exception of a few Prestige, Jazz Odyssey and Riff releases.


Buckner's last studio session took place in Paris on July 4, 1977. Three weeks later, on Wednesday July 27, he collapsed and died after setting up his Hammond organ in preparation for a performance with Illinois Jacquet at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. He was 62 years old.

(Edited from Wikipedia & AllMusic)

Monday, 8 July 2019

Louis Jordan born 8 July 1908


Louis Thomas Jordan (July 8, 1908 – February 4, 1975) was an American musician, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as "The King of the Jukebox", his highest profile came towards the end of the swing era. His pioneering use of jumping shuffle rhythms in a small combo context was copied far and wide during the 1940s.

The son of a musician, Jordan spent time as a youth with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and majored in music later on at Arkansas Baptist College. After moving with his family to Philadelphia in 1932, Jordan hooked up with pianist Clarence Williams. He joined the orchestra of drummer Chick Webb in 1936 and remained there until 1938. Having polished up his singing abilities with Webb's outfit, Jordan was ready to strike out on his own.

The saxophonist's first 78 for Decca in 1938, "Honey in the Bee Ball," billed his combo as the Elks Rendezvous Band (after the Harlem nightspot that he frequently played at). From 1939 on, though, Jordan fronted the Tympany Five, a sturdy little aggregation often expanding over quintet status that featured some well-known musicians over the years: pianists Wild Bill Davis and Bill Doggett, guitarists Carl Hogan and Bill Jennings, bassist Dallas Bartley, and drummer Chris Columbus all passed through the ranks.

From 1942 to 1951, Jordan scored an astonishing 57 R&B chart hits (all on Decca), beginning with the humorous blues "I'm Gonna Leave You on the Outskirts of Town" and finishing with "Weak Minded Blues." In between, he drew up what amounted to an easily followed blueprint for the development of R&B (and for that matter, rock & roll -- the accessibly swinging shuffles of Bill Haley & the Comets were directly descended from Jordan; Haley often pointed to his Decca labelmate as profoundly influencing his approach).


                              

"G.I. Jive," "Caldonia," "Buzz Me," "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie," "Ain't That Just like a Woman," "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens," "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate," "Beans and Cornbread," "Saturday Night Fish Fry," and "Blue Light Boogie" 
-- every one of those classics topped the R&B lists, and there were plenty more that did precisely the same thing. Black audiences coast-to-coast were breathlessly jitterbugging to Jordan's jumping jive (and one suspects, more than a few whites kicked up their heels to those same platters as well).

The saxophonist was particularly popular during World War II. He recorded prolifically for the Armed Forces Radio Service and the V-Disc program. Jordan's massive popularity also translated on to the silver screen -- he filmed a series of wonderful short musicals during the late '40s that were decidedly short on plot but long on visual versions of his hits (Caldonia, Reet Petite & Gone, Look Out Sister, and Beware, along with countless soundies) that give us an 
enlightening peek at just what made him such a beloved entertainer. Jordan also cameoed in a big-budget Hollywood wartime musical, Follow the Boys.

In the 50s, even even though his singles were still eminently solid, they weren't selling like they used and so after an incredible run of more than a decade-and-a-half, Jordan moved over to the Aladdin label. However, the sound was no longer what young R&B fans were searching for at the time. 
However, in 1956 a fine Quincy Jones-arranged date for Mercury deftly updated Jordan's classics for the rock & roll crowd, the whole session benefiting from the lead guitar of Mickey Baker and Sam Taylor's muscular tenor sax.

Ray Charles had long cited Jordan as a primary influence (he lovingly covered Jordan's 'Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying' and 'Early in the Morning'), and paid him back by signing Jordan to the Genius' Tangerine label. Once again, the record buyers ignored his worthwhile 1962-64 offerings, which were by any standards still very fine recordings. Throughout the 60s and early 70s, Jordan worked only sporadically anyway as his health deteriorated and made performing regularly an impossibility.


A heart attack silenced this visionary in 1975, but not before he acted as the bridge between the big-band era and the rise of R&B. His profile continues to rise posthumously, in large part due to the acclaimed musical from Clarke Peters called "Five Guys Named Moe", based on Jordan's bubbly persona and, more importantly, on some of his great songs.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Louis Jordan among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

(Info edited mainly from AllMusic & rhythm and the blues.org.uk)