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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Barney Kessel born 17 October 1923

Barney Kessel (October 17, 1923 – May 6, 2004) was an American jazz guitarist born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Noted in particular for his knowledge of chords and inversions and chord-based melodies, he was a member of many prominent jazz groups as well as a "first call" guitarist for studio, film, and television recording sessions. Kessel was a member of the group of session musicians informally known as the Wrecking Crew. 

Kessel began his career as a teenager touring with local dance bands. When he was 16, he started playing with the Oklahoma A & M band, "Hal Price & the Varsitonians". The band members lovingly nicknamed him "Fruitcake" because he used to practice up to 16 hours a day. He then moved on to bands such as that led by Chico Marx.
He quickly established himself as a key post-Charlie Christian jazz guitarist. In 1944 he participated in the film Jammin' the Blues, which featured Lester Young, and in 1947 he recorded with Charlie Parker's New Stars on the Relaxin' at Camarillo session for Dial Records. He was rated the No. 1 guitarist in Esquire, Down Beat, and Playboy magazine polls between 1947 and 1960. 

Kessel was known for his innovative work in the guitar trio setting. In the 1950s, he made a series of four albums called The Poll Winners with Ray Brown on bass and Shelly Manne on drums. He was also the guitarist on the album Julie Is Her Name (1955) by Julie London, which includes the standard "Cry Me a River"; this million-selling song features a guitar part from Kessel which illustrates his melodic chordal approach in a minimal jazz group. Also from the 1950s, his three Kessel Plays Standards volumes contain some of his most polished work. 
         Here’s “On a Slow Boat to China“ from above 1954 album.

Kessel was also a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio with Ray Brown for a year, leaving in 1953. The guitar chair was called the hardest gig in show business since Peterson often liked to play at breakneck tempos. Herb Ellis took over from Kessel. Kessel also played with Sonny Rollins in the late 1950s and can be heard on the Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders album on songs like "How High the Moon". 
In 1957, Barney Kessel was introduced to the Kay Musical Instrument Company while playing at a local jazz club in Chicago. He was offered three signature models, the K1700 (Pro), K6700 (Artist) and K8700 (Jazz Special) in the endorsement and each bore his signature etched into the underside of the pickguard. This was also the introduction of the "full kelvinator" headstock. In 1960, Barney left Kay but the production of these guitars continued without his signature. In 2014, the Kay Guitar Company, working closely with Kessel's widow Phillis, secured the licensing rights from the Kessel estate to reissue these three guitars. 

Kessel was a "first call" guitarist at Columbia Pictures during the 1960s, and became one of the most in-demand session guitarists in America, and is considered a key member of the group of first-call session musicians now usually known as The Wrecking Crew. In this capacity he played on hundreds of famous pop recordings, including albums and singles by Phil Spector, The Beach Boys, The Monkees and many others.

He appeared in an acting part playing a jazz guitarist named
"Barney" in one episode of the Perry Mason TV show. He also wrote and arranged the source music, including a jazz version of "Here Comes the Bride", provided by the jazz combo that featured in the story. 

In 1961 The Gibson Guitar Corporation introduced The Barney Kessel model guitar onto the market and continued to make them until 1973. One custom instrument Kessel played was essentially a 12-string guitar neck attached to a mandolin body (similar to Vox's mando guitar), which may have been played on the intro to The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice". 

During the 1970s, Kessel presented his seminar "The Effective Guitarist" in various locations around the world, and performed extensively with Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd as "The Great Guitars".In 1983 at 59 he made his New York nightclub debut as a leader.
Kessel, who had been in poor health after suffering a stroke in 1992, died of a brain tumor at his home in San Diego, California on May 6, 2004 at the age of 80. (Info from Wikipedia)

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Robert Ward born 15 October 1938

Robert Ward (October 15, 1938 – December 25, 2008) was an American blues and soul guitarist. He was known for founding the Ohio Untouchables, the band that later would become the Ohio Players. He played the guitar with a unique tone soaked in vibrato coming from the Magnatone amplifier. 

Born Robert Jeryl Ward  into impoverished circumstances in rural Georgia, Ward had picked up his first guitar at age ten. Singles by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters left their mark on the youth. After a stint in the Army, Ward came home in 1959 and joined his first band, the Brassettes (who also included Roy Lee Johnson, soon to join Piano Red's band and croon "Mister Moonlight"). 

The Ohio Untouchables with Robert Ward (far right): Toledo, 1964

Tired of seeing little monetary reward for opening for the likes of James Brown and Piano Red with the Brassettes, Ward moved to Dayton, Ohio, in 1960. Inspired by hard-bitten FBI man Eliot Ness on TV's The Untouchables, Ward recruited bassist Levoy Fredrick and drummer Cornelius Johnson to form the first edition of the Ohio Untouchables. Ward's trademark vibrato-soaked guitar sound was the direct result of acquiring a Magnatone amplifier at a Dayton music store. Lonnie Mack was so entranced by the watery
sound of Ward's amp that he bought a Magnatone as well; both continued to utilize the same trademark sound. 

Detroit producer Robert West signed the Untouchables to his LuPine logo in 1962. Ward's quirky touch was beautifully exhibited on the hard-bitten "I'm Tired," a chilling doo wop-tinged "Forgive Me Darling," and the exotic "Your Love Is Amazing" for LuPine. In addition, the Untouchables backed Wilson Pickett and the Falcons on their gospel-charged 1962 smash "I Found a Love."

Ward and his band also briefly recorded for Detroit's Thelma Records, waxing the driving blues "Your Love Is Real" and a soul-sending "I'm Gonna Cry a River." Ward left the Untouchables in 1965 (to be replaced by Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner), stopping at Don Davis' Groove City label long enough to cut a super Detroit soul pairing, "Fear No Evil" (the original version) and "My Love Is Strictly Reserved for You," circa 1966-1967. 

During the early '70s, Ward worked as a session guitarist at Motown, playing behind the Temptations and the Undisputed Truth (he was an old pal of Joe Harris, lead singer of the latter group). But when his wife died in 1977, Ward hit the skids. He moved back to Georgia, and served a year in jail at one point (ironically, one of his prison mates was singer Major Lance, whose career was at similarly low ebb). 

In 1990, that auspicious encounter with Hussong started the ball rolling for Ward's return to action. Black Top boss Hammond Scott signed the guitarist and produced the amazing Fear No Evil and a credible 1993 follow-up, Rhythm of the People. The label then issued a third set, Black Bottom, that once again captured Ward's curiously mystical appeal. In the mid-1990s he did limited touring, including a date in Minneapolis with Curtis Obeda and "The Butanes", and several dates in Michigan including Kalamazoo, Three Rivers and Grand Rapids.

Living in tiny Dry Branch, Georgia, with his second wife, Roberta, who contributed background vocals to his encore album, Ward resurfaced in 1997 with Twiggs County Soul Man, followed three years later by New Role Soul. In his last years he faced a series of health problems, including two strokes, which prevented him from performing or recording.

He died at his home in Dry Branch, Georgia, about six miles from Macon, on December 25, 2008.
(Info compiled from Bill Dahl @ All Music & Wikipedia)

This was Robert Ward in the earl y '90s at The Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA, backed by "Little Village"  Ry Cooder on slide, Nick Lowe on bass, Steve Douglas on sax, Tony Johnson on drums for this gig. Clearly the band did not know Robert's music & had no time to rehearse in advance of being on stage with him. But this is great footage for posterity, since there isn't a lot of live Robert Ward on YouTube.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Allan Jones born 14 October 1926

Allan Jones (October 14, 1907 – June 27, 1992) was an American actor and tenor. For many years he was married to actress Irene Hervey; their son is American pop singer Jack Jones. 

Allan Jones was born Theodore Allen Jones in Old Forge, Pennsylvania. A coal miner's son, he worked in the mines until 1926. At that point in time, he received a scholarship from Syracuse University, but chose instead to study music at New York University with Claude Warford and then with Felix Leroux in Paris and Sir Henry Wood in London. 

In an interview in 1973, Jones recalled that his father and grandfather were musically talented: "My father had a beautiful tenor voice. So did my grandfather. ... Grandfather taught violin, voice and piano when he could. My father sang every chance he could get and realized his ambition through me." 

Classically trained in opera, the handsome Jones worked on Broadway a few times, including 1933's Roberta and the short-lived 1934 revival of Bitter Sweet  and in operettas until 1935.  

At that point, Jones was signed by MGM Grand. He is best remembered for his roles in the two Marx Brothers movies "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the Races". On the strength of his appearance in A Night at the Opera, he won the coveted role of Gaylord Ravenal in the 1936 film version of Show Boat (opposite Irene Dunne) over such screen musical favorites as Nelson Eddy and John Boles. It would be Jones's most distinguished screen role in which, under the direction of James Whale, he displayed fine dramatic acting ability, as well as musical talent. 

Jones made a brief appearance in the 1936 Nelson Eddy - Jeanette MacDonald film Rose Marie, singing music from Charles Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, but according to Merchant of Dreams, Charles Higham's biography of Louis B. Mayer, Eddy, who apparently considered Jones a rival and a potential threat, asked that most of Jones's footage in Rose Marie be cut, including his rendition of the great Puccini aria E lucevan le stelle - and MGM agreed to Eddy's demand.

The movie "The Firefly" (1937) produced the song "Donkey Serenade", which became Jones's signature song. Jones' recording of The Donkey Serenade ranks third among all-time sales of single records by RCA Victor. Jones's final film for MGM was Everybody Sing (1938) opposite Judy Garland and Fanny Brice.

In 1940, he moved to Universal for two musicals, both with scores by immortal composers: The Boys from Syracuse, with the stage score (severely cut) by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and One Night in the Tropics, with an original score by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields which produced no hit songs. Following those, he slipped to leads in several B musicals, two at Paramount, then eight at Universal, including a re-teaming with Kitty Carlisle in Larceny with Music (1943). The same year, he briefly returned to A’s by guesting, as himself, in the Olsen and Johnson musical Crazy House, where he again performed "Donkey Serenade."
During the war years, Jones was one of the first entertainers to volunteer to sing for the troops overseas. In 1945, Jones left Hollywood and toured Great Britain for two years. He returned to the stage and toured with several off-Broadway musicals. Over the next twenty years, he worked the nightclub circuit, appeared in summer-stock and off-Broadway productions, and recorded extensively, including several short "songfests", meant to be fillers in the early days of TV.

In the mid 1960s the busy Jones managed to fit a few appearances on television and in movies into his busy theatre

, nightclub, and recording career. In 1971, he took on the role of Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha", a role he would perform off and on for the next eight years. He also was very successful on the lecture circuit.
In 1982, the 75-year-old Jones cut yet another LP, his voice belying his age: as clear and vibrant as singers a third his age. Having overcome a battle with alcoholism Jones became a cabaret and club performer and  came to Britain to tour the club circuit. He had finished a successful tour of Australia a few weeks before his death from lung cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in 1992, aged 84.
(Compiled mainly from a bio by Tom Barrister @ IMDb & info from Wikipedia)

Friday, 13 October 2017

Chris Farlowe born 13 October 1940

Chris Farlowe, born 13 October 1940 in Islington, North London is an English rock, blues and soul singer. He is best known for his hit single "Out of Time", which rose to #1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1966, and his association with Colosseum and the Thunderbirds.
Born John Henry Deighton in Islington, North London, in 1940, he reached his early teens just as the skiffle boom was breaking in England, and was inspired by Lonnie Donegan to enter music. His first band was his own John Henry Skiffle Group, where he played guitar as well as sang, but he gave up playing to concentrate on his voice, as he made the switch to rock & roll. He eventually took the name Chris Farlowe, the surname appropriated from American jazz guitarist Tal Farlow, and was fronting a group called the Thunderbirds, as Chris Farlowe & the Thunderbirds. 

They built their reputation as a live act in England and Germany, and slowly switched from rock & roll to R&B during the early years of the '60s. Their debut single, "Air Travel," released in 1962, failed to chart, but the following year, Chris Farlowe & the Thunderbirds (whose ranks included future star guitarist Albert Lee) were signed to EMI's Columbia imprint, through which they issued a series of five singles thru 1966, all of which got enthusiastic critical receptions while generating poor sales. 

 In 1966, with his EMI contract up, Farlowe was snatched up by Andrew Oldham, who knew a thing or two about white Britons who could sing R&B, having signed the Rolling Stones three years earlier, and put him under contract to his new Immediate Records label. Immediate's history with unestablished artists is mostly a story of talent cultivated for future success, but with Farlowe it was different -- he actually became a star on the label, through the label. His luck began to change early on, as he saw a Top 40 chart placement with his introduction of the Jagger/Richards song "Think," which the Rolling Stones later released as an album track on Aftermath.

That summer, he had the biggest hit of his career with his rendition of the Stones' "Out of Time," in a moody and dramatic version orchestrated by Arthur Greenslade, which reached number one on the British charts. Farlowe had enough credibility as a soul singer by then to be asked to appear on the Ready, Steady, Go broadcast of September 16, 1966, a special program featuring visiting American soul legend Otis Redding -- he'd covered Redding's "Mr. Pitiful" on an Immediate EP, and now Farlowe was on stage with Otis (and Eric Burdon), and got featured in two numbers. 

That was to be his peak year, however. The subsequent single releases on Immediate, including his version of the Stones' "Ride on Baby," failed to match the success of the first two singles, and he last charted for Immediate with "Handbags and Gladrags," written for him by Manfred Mann's Mike d'Abo. The label, always in dire financial straits, tried repackaging his songs several different ways on LP, but after 1967 his recording career was more or less frozen until the label's demise in 1970. After that, Farlowe's story became one of awkward match-ups with certain groups, including the original Colosseum on three albums, and Atomic Rooster (post-Carl Palmer).  

Following a car accident that left him inactive for two years, he made an attempt at re-forming the Thunderbirds in the mid-'70s, and "Out of Time" kept turning up in various reissues, but he saw little new success. Farlowe was rescued from oblivion by his better-known contemporary (and fellow Immediate Records alumnus) Jimmy Page, appearing on the latter's Outrider album in the '80s, which heralded a BBC appearance that brought him back to center stage in the public consciousness for the first time in two decades.  

Farlowe followed this up with new albums and touring with various reconstituted '60s and '70s groups, and although he never saw another hit single, his reputation as a live performer was enough to sustain a career -- nor did the release of his Ready, Steady, Go appearance with Otis Redding on videotape and laser disc exactly hurt his reputation; indeed, that was the first time many Americans appreciated just how serious a following he'd had in England. 

His recent albums, including The Voice, have gotten respectable reviews, and his Immediate Records legacy was finally getting treated properly in the 21st century, as well. Along with Manfred Mann's Mike d'Abo and Paul Jones, Farlowe remains one of those voices from 1960s England that -- with good reason -- hasn't faded and simply won't disappear.

Since 2015 Farlowe has appeared on stage a number of times alongside Van Morrison. (Compiled mainly from a bio by Bruce Eder @ All Music)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Johnny Gregory born 12 October 1924

John Gregory (born John Gregori, 12 October 1924) was a British bandleader, arranger and composer.
John Gregory, known to all his friends as Johnny, was born in High Street Camden Town in London on October 12th 1924. Johnny learned to play the violin when he was seven. He also mastered the finger style guitar which he taught himself and several other instruments. He later mastered the tenor sax also learned clarinet, trumpet, trombone and piano.
He was the son of Frank Gregori, a bandleader at the London restaurant Quaglino’s for ten years. He worked in his father’s band at London’s Normandy Hotel, while he was still in his teens.
By 1942 Johnny was studying with Alfredo Campoli which changed his musical life completely. Johnny had no formal training in arranging, just a natural aptitude. For him arranging was not the fulfilment of his ambition, which was to be an orchestral composer. Because money was in short supply his father couldn't afford the fees to send him to college during the war. To make up for this he used to go to Foyles and browse around the books on orchestration and was able to work the rest out for himself.
He began arranging for the BBC Revue Orchestra which led to Lew Stones Band.  Lew wanted more and from there it just escalated. He subsequently did arrangements for the great Geraldo, Ambrose, Maurice Winnick, Stanley Black, Edmundo Ross, Cyril Stapleton and many others.
During the 1950’s Johnny decided to go freelance. He was beginning to get known by publishers and record companies. In any one week he would be working on arrangements for HMV, Decca, MGM and Pye, Somebody mentioned that Jack Baverstock, Artist and Repertoire Manager of Oriole and Embassy records, was looking for an MD. Jack called Johnny to meet him at Oriole in 1954.
A new label was being launched, Embassy Records, an economy 78rpm product for sale exclusively in Woolworth’s. Johnny, and another musical director called Ken Jones were to provide the arrangements and Baverstock would direct the sessions. Many turned out to be better than the originals, and with a nationwide network of Woolworth stores to distribute them, they sold in their tens of thousands.
Johnny was also working with EMI and Decca at that time and was known around the studios. Johnny also created Nino Rico, a fictitious Latin American Orchestra leader, the precursor of Chaquito. A 10" LP was released on Oriole. In 1956 Johnny began working with the Phillips label staying with them for over 20 years, also at that time he was the BBC Radio Orchestra’s principal guest conductor.
When 101 Strings, the Living Strings, and other easy listening string groups became commercial successes, Philips turned to Gregory, who learned the violin as his first instrument, for help. Gregory's "Cascading Strings" gave their U.S. counterparts a run for the money on the U.K. market, and outsold them by a wide margin in several lucrative international markets such as Japan. He later reprised his talent for strings with the popular (in the U.K., at least) Moods Orchestral series.
As a composer he has written the music for some 27 films, scored over 500 compositions and made over 2000 records which span the broad scope from light music, to Latin American, to Oriental.
He scored several film and TV shows, including Serena (1962), Impact (1963), The Night Caller (1965) and Don't Drink the Water (1974).
In 1976 he received an Ivor Novello Award for "Introduction and Air to a Stained Glass Window" and is generally recognised as one of the best orchestral and string ensemble composer/arrangers. Also during 1976.  Philips closed, and work started to die out for most serious arrangers in the middle eighties. Johnny conducted the LSO at Filmharmonic 85 with John Williams and John Scott, and two Royal Film Performances in Leicester Square, and was presented to the Queen. He did one film in 1989, one in 1991, one in 1994 and the last in 2002. At one time that would be about a month’s work.
The final piece of info I found regarding Johnny is that in 2004 his latest composition was a flute and string concerto. (Info compiled from various sources mainly an article by Bill Gregory for the Robert Farnon Society org.)

Monday, 9 October 2017

Bebo Valdes born 9 October 1918

Dionisio Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro (October 9, 1918 – March 22, 2013), better known as Bebo Valdés, was a Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He was a central figure in the golden age of Cuban music, led two famous big bands, and was one of the "house" arrangers for the Tropicana Club.
Valdés was born in the village of Quivicán, near Havana. He was taught piano by a friend of his mother's and, after the family moved
to Havana in 1935, he studied European classical and traditional Cuban music at the Municipal Conservatory. He began writing arrangements, and was working in clubs and on radio by the age of 20.
In 1943 he was in Wilfredo García Curbelo's pop-oriented group, and then joined the trumpeter Julio Cueva's band, specialising in uptempo adaptations of the traditional son dance form. Valdés worked briefly in Haiti, and from 1948 was a pianist and arranger for the singer Rita Montaner, one of the biggest stars associated with the opulent, mansion-housed Tropicana cabaret club in Havana.
American jazz bands fusing swing, bebop and Cuban percussion influences were growing in popularity in the late 1940s through the influence of the Cuban bandleader Machito, and later through the "cubop" innovations of Dizzy Gillespie with the percussionist Chano Pozo. In 1952, the American producer Norman Granz invited Valdés and his Tropicana partners to record for him. The results were hailed as the first impromptu Afro-Cuban jam session on disc, Valdés originals such as Con Poco Poco and Bebo's Blues accelerated his already fast-rising career as a composer for sessions and film scores.
Influenced by the Orquesta Casino de la Playa (which adapted traditional guitar hooks to jazz-piano parts but retained traditional Cuban percussion), Valdés developed his own approaches to playing and arranging, aided by a piano technique heavily influenced by Fats Waller and Art Tatum. The innovative Valdés was frequently credited with developing the batanga, a fast and intricate new groove that extensive radio exposure in 1952 turned into a dance craze.
                    Here's "El Mansiero" from above 1958 EP 
Valdés also launched his advanced Cuban-bop orchestra Sabor de Cuba, which included Chucho. In 1958, the bandleader's stock was so high he was the arranger for Nat King Cole's album Cole Español and taught the American star to sing in Spanish.
Following the ousting of the Cuban president Fulgencio Batista's regime by Fidel Castro and fellow revolutionaries in 1959, Valdés fell out with the new government. He went to Mexico in 1960, eventually moving on to Europe and joining the traditional Lecuona Cuban Boys band in Spain. His family, including his wife, Pilar, and Chucho, remained in Cuba. On the band's visit to Sweden in 1963, Valdés met Rose Marie Pehrson, with whom he began a second family.
For the next 30 years, he played largely local gigs and sought to enthuse the Swedes about forms of Cuban jazz long since usurped by salsa and its popular descendants. In 1994, Valdés and D'Rivera made the album Bebo Rides Again, and in 1996 Valdés made his US concert debut, aged 78.
On the Grammy-winning El Arte del Sabor (2002), Valdés and D'Rivera collaborated on a repertoire running from Cuban traditionals to Route 66. The following year, he made the Cuban/flamenco crossover album Lágrimas Negras with the singer Diego el Cigala. That also brought a Grammy, and Valdés won two more for Bebo de Cuba in 2006. His eight-part composition Suite Cubana was performed at the Lincoln Centre in New York.

Duets with his pianist son, Chucho, and with the bassist Israel "Cachao" López revealed, the imposing 6ft 7in veteran remained a musician of elegant technical fluency, subtle touch and nimble spontaneity, with a sophisticated awareness of Cuban, American and European musical traditions. They toured together following their Calle 54 reunion, also making the album Juntos Para Siempre (2008). He also wrote the score for an Oscar-nominated animated film, Chico & Rita (2010), loosely based on his life.

Valdés was in the middle of the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, which he had suffered for several years, when he died in Stockholm, Sweden, on March 22, 2013, aged 94. (Info compiled from an article by John Fordham @ The Guardian & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Susan Raye born 8 October 1944

Susan Raye (born October 8, 1944, Eugene, Oregon) is an American country music singer. She enjoyed great popularity during the early and mid-1970s and chalked up seven top 10 and nineteen top 40 country hits, most notably the song "L.A. International Airport", an international crossover pop hit in 1971.
Susan Raye first began singing with a high-school rock group, but after the band called it quits, she auditioned for a local country station. Not only did she begin performing on the radio, she also landed work as a disc jockey, eventually becoming the host of a Portland TV program called Hoedown.
It was at one of Raye's performances at an area nightclub where she met Jack McFadden, Buck Owens' manager. McFadden was so impressed with her vocal talents that he persuaded Owens to fly her to his home in Bakersfield, CA, for an audition. Owens immediately offered Raye a slot on an upcoming tour, and in 1969, she cut her first record, "Maybe If I Close My Eyes (It'll Go Away)." Her next record, a cover of Jackie DeShannon's pop smash "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," was also her first Top 30 hit. At about the same time, she began a nine-year stint as a featured performer on the program Hee Haw.
Raye issued her first solo LP, One Night Stand, in 1970; the single "Willy Jones" became her first Top Ten hit, lending its name to the title of her follow-up album the next year. Also Susan’s first sessions as Buck Owens's duet partner were released in 1970. The albums We're Gonna Get Together and The Great White Horse  were Top 20 hits that year, as were the title tracks to each album and a third single, "Togetherness". The song "The Great White Horse" peaked at No. 8 and was the most successful Owens-Raye duet.
Raye's biggest year as a solo artist came in 1971, when she issued three consecutive Top Ten hits: "L.A. International Airport", "Pitty, Pitty, Patter", and "(I've Got A) Happy Heart". The title track of 1972's My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own also reached the Top Ten.

Although not her biggest country hit, "L.A. International Airport" became Raye's signature song, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Country Chart and a minor hit on the Billboard Pop Top 100, peaking at No. 54. The record was a major international pop hit in several countries, however, enjoying its greatest success in New Zealand where it hit No. 1 for two weeks,
and in Australia where it hit No. 2 and ranked as the No. 5 best-selling pop record of the year, outselling Lynn Anderson's country crossover international smash "Rose Garden (in Australia only). "Airport" did well in the Record World "Non-Rock" chart, while strangely failing to appear in Billboard's comparable "Easy Listening" Top 40.
Susan Raye became the first woman to become a major country artist without recording in Nashville, a feat previously accomplished only by male stars like Owens and Merle Haggard. Raye was nominated for five Academy of Country Musicawards, three times as "Top Female Vocalist". Raye married Owens' drummer Jerry Wiggins in 1972.
After hitting number nine in 1974 with "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Dog Like That" and scoring a success with Owens on a cover of the Mickey & Sylvia classic "Love Is Strange," Raye's hitmaking days were largely over; after issuing the 1976 LP Honey, Toast and Sunshine, she left Owens' tutelage to release a self-titled album in 1977. A year later, she retired in order to raise her six kids and returned to college to receive a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in education school counselling. Being a devoted Christian, she has had a successful career since as a Christian psychologist.
In 1985, she came out of exile to release the album Susan Raye: There and Back, which generated the minor hit single "I Just Can't Take the Leaving Anymore."
Raye returned to LAX on August 6, 2003 during the 75th anniversary year of LAX. She performed the song with a Bakersfield band and backup vocalists for an enthusiastic outdoor crowd from the airport community.
(Compiled from bio’s from Jason Ankeny @ All Music & Wikipedia)