Sunday, 12 July 2020

John Patton born 12 July 1935


John Patton (July 12, 1935 – March 19, 2002) was an American jazz, blues and R&B pianist and organist, often known by his nickname, Big John Patton.

John Patton, born in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 12, 1935, His mother was a church pianist who taught him how to play fundamentals. When he was about 13 years old, in 1948, he began to teach himself. He was inspired by the music he heard in his 
hometown, but he wanted to play beyond the Kansas City jazz scene. After high school, he headed East and found professional work. In 1954 in Washington, D.C., he found out that R&B star Lloyd Price was playing at the Howard Theater, and that Price had just fired his pianist and needed a new player. Patton played a few bars from the introduction to "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy". He was given the job.

It was a relationship that would last until 1959. "I learned everything with Lloyd," Patton said. "I was his 'straw boss' and the leader and he dumped all this on me and that was an experience that I got a chance to deal with." He recruited top players for Lloyd, including drummer Ben Dixon. Dixon, another self-taught player, 
encouraged John to check out the Hammond B-3 organ when
they played in clubs that had one. "Some of the clubs that we would play in would have an organ off to the side and every time I would have a chance to get with that organ, man, it was just fascinating to me...especially the bass line."

A man called "Butts" first showed Patton how to set up the organ and find the right registrations. When he moved to New York in late 1959, and began playing gigs around town, Herman Green, a friend who played with Lionel Hampton's band, took him to a Hammond in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and helped him learn how to play it. Patton was fascinated with the differences in the nuance of the sound that an electric organ could produce. He developed the
nickname "Big John", not because of his size, but because of a song.

Patton set up his own Hammond organ trio in 1959.Blue Note artist Ike Quebec became his mentor, introducing him into Blue Note and to one of the most important relationships in his career, with guitarist Grant Green. He worked as a sideman for Lou Donaldson for three and a half years, until 1964. "He says 'Play the Blues," Patton recalled. "You don't mess with Lou 'cause Lou knows how to play the Be Bop and Blues and Rhythm and Blues ... I am very fortunate that I got a chance to spend that much time with him and I can't thank him enough."


                               

During the 1960s in New York and on the road, Patton became one of the most recognizable figures in jazz, and was a driving force of the sound of electric organ. He recorded for the Blue Note label with artists such as Harold Alexander and George
Coleman on LPs under his name as leader such as Understanding (1968) and Accent on the Blues (1969). He was a sideman for George Braith, Don Wilkerson and Lou Donaldson. Patton worked as a sideman for other labels as well. On one Limelight recording "Hold On, I'm Coming," with Art Blakey, he appears under the pseudonym Malcom Bass.

It was in the organ trio of guitarist Grant Green with drummer Ben Dixon in the soul-jazz fusion genre, that he did some of his best work. He also worked with Johnny Griffin, Harold Vick and Clifford Jordan, and some of the early experimentalists, including many who worked with SunRa Records during its heyday: 
Grant Green & John Patton
trombonist Grachan Moncur III, guitarist James Blood Ulmer, and saxophonists John Gilmore and Marshall Allen.

Patton's style on the Hammond B-3 has been resistant to imitation because of its space and economy. Some have called it minimalist, but Patton claimed that he emulated the sounds of his favorite trumpet and reed players. "I love trumpet, I love trombone, I love reeds...I love it all...Musicians like Fred Jackson, Richard Williams, Grant Green, Ben Dixon and Johnny Griffin...I can go on and on ...This is where I got my concept."

The acid jazz movement in the 1980s caused a resurgence in interest in Patton's music in the UK. Blue Note released many sessions that had not previously been released, including Blue John with Grant Green and George Braith (listed as Braithwaite on the LP). Blue Note later released two forward-looking albums Boogaloo and Memphis to New York Spirit. Patton made several trips to England where he was embraced by the acid jazz community.

Patton continued recording until the late 1990s. In these later years he developed a loyal following in both Japan and Europe, both of which he toured in addition to his dates in the United States. Several dates were recorded by collectors.

Patton died from complications arising from diabetes, in Montclair, New Jersey, on March 19, 2002. He was overshadowed by organists who for one reason or another enjoyed greater popularity, and still underestimated by many jazz critics and historians (Edited from Wikipedia)

Saturday, 11 July 2020

John Holt born 11 July 1947


John Holt CD (11 July 1947 – 19 October 2014) was one of Jamaica’s best-loved singers. Though chiefly known for romantic ballads and reggae renditions of pop and soul tunes, Holt was also an exceptionally talented singer-songwriter.

John Kenneth Holt was born in Kingston on July 11 1947. His vocal talent was nurtured by his mother, who encouraged him to sing at weddings and parties from the age of seven . Later, at Calabar High School, his friends coaxed the reluctant youngster into performing at school concerts. At the age of 16, Holt entered a talent contest at the nearby Majestic Theatre, winning first prize with a rendition of Solomon Burke’s Just Out of Reach. As a regular in the contests, he formed a rivalry with Jimmy Cliff and other young hopefuls, taking first prize on 29 occasions.

As word of Holt’s talent spread, the aspiring producer Leslie Kong brokered a deal with the singer’s mother to record him for an upfront payment of £30. His debut single, recorded with the 
leading show band the Vagabonds, featured the original compositions Forever I’ll Stay and I Cried a Tear, the latter co-written with Winston Samuels. Holt then left school to concentrate on music full-time.

In 1964 he formed a short-lived duo with Alton Ellis. He was then invited to join the Paragons vocal quartet by Tyrone Evans, as a replacement for Leroy Stamp, reaching the group just in time to contribute to their Studio One recording Love At Last, which stayed at the No 1 chart position for five weeks. After Bob Andy left the group, the Paragons remained a vocal trio, with Holt as lead singer and chief songwriter. The group reached Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle stable just as the slower-paced rock-steady style became the rage in Jamaica, and hits such as Happy Go Lucky Girl, On the Beach, Only a Smile, Wear You to the Ball and The Tide Is High made them one of the defining reggae acts of the era.

Holt returned to solo work in 1968 (though he also continued with the Paragons until 1970), scoring an instant hit with the sensuous Tonight for Duke Reid. He began working for rising producers such as Rupie Edwards and Keith Hudson, but a more significant partnership was brokered with Bunny Lee in 1969, yielding the broken-hearted Sometimes and It’s a Jam in the Street.  After cutting the A Love I Can Feel album for Studio One, My Heart Is Gone and Strange Things were exquisite singles for producer Phil Pratt. Another breakthrough came with his successful cover of Shep and the Limelights’ doo-wop classic Stick By Me, recorded for Bunny Lee in 1972.


                              

Greater international exposure came after the English producer Tony Ashfield began orchestrating Holt’s material, helping to break him into mainstream markets in Britain with the albums The Further You Look and 1000 Volts of Holt. Holt’s cover of 
Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through the Night spent 11 weeks in the British pop charts in late 1974, peaking at No 6, and his orchestrated cut of Mr Bojangles was also popular. By contrast, the following year Holt’s rousing smash Up Park Camp, a song about a detention camp for gunmen in Kingston, proved he was still in touch with his Jamaican audience.

After the 2000 and 3000 Volts of Holt releases, and the tastefully orchestrated Time Is the Master set for Harry Mudie, during the late 1970s Holt released several extended-play showcase albums, including Holt Goes Disco, though none fared particularly well.

Then, at the start of the 1980s, as Holt began sporting dreadlocks and proclaiming a Rastafarian identity, Blondie’s hit cover of The Tide Is High sparked renewed interest, leading to a series of hit recordings for Henry “Junjo” Lawes with the Roots Radics band : first came the hard-hitting ballad Ghetto Queen, followed by the sensual love song Sweetie Come Brush Me, and then the massive Police In Helicopter, which described the potential acts of civil unrest that would greet a crackdown on Jamaica’s clandestine marijuana industry. Wild Fire, the duet Holt then cut with fellow star Dennis Brown for producer Tad Dawkins, was equally popular.

Though his output slowed during the late 1980's, Holt remained in constant demand for live performance work, whether with a standard backing band, or the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2004 he was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) by the Jamaican government for his contribution to Jamaican music.


Having been taken ill at the One Love Festival on 16 August, Holt died on 19 October 2014 in the Wellington Hospital in London. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer in June 2014. His funeral took place on 17 November at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston, and featured performances by U-Roy, The Silvertones, Tinga Stewart, Boris Gardiner, George Nooks, Luciano, Carlene Davis, Ken Boothe, and members of Holt's family, backed by Lloyd Parks and the We the People Band. He was buried at Dovecot Memorial Park.

(Edited from the Telegraph & Guardian)

Friday, 10 July 2020

Marcel Azzola born 10 July 1929


Marcel Azzola (10 July 1927 – 21 January 2019) was a French accordionist, credited with using his rare technical mastery of one of France’s most emblematic instruments to adapt it to the world of jazz.

Marcel Azzola was born in Paris in 1927 to Italian parents: his father, Giuseppe (a builder, 1896–1978) and his mother, Angelina (1901–2002) both came from Bergamo. Marcel had two elder and two younger sisters. His parents had moved to France in 1922.

His father had conducted a mandoline orchestra in Italy, and Marcel, like two of his sisters, learned to play the violin. He abandoned the instrument after a year. In 1936, he began playing accordion, after he became familiar with the accordion orchestra of Pantin. Six months later, he started lessons with Paul Saive, who had been the music teacher of Jo Privat. Soon after, Azzola started taking lessons from Attilio Bonhommi instead. He accompanied Bonhommi during jazz concerts, first as a percussionist, and later as an accordionist.
At 11 years old and having just finished his primary education, Azzola became a professional accordionist. At first he played with the Aveugles de Pantin, but soon he switched to the "Orchestre de l'Amicale Accordéoniste de l'Humanité", a politically leftist orchestra. In 1939 he won first prize in the junior category at the Concours de Suresnes. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Azzolas moved with Bonhommi to Draillant in the French Alps. Only his father Giuseppe remained in Pantin. After a year the family returned to Paris, and Azzola started taking lessons with Médard Ferrero. At the same time, he worked as an in-house accordionist in many bars in Paris.

In 1943, he left Ferrero and studied under Jacques Mendel, until Mendel, who was Jewish, fled Paris in an unsuccessful attempt to hide from the Nazis. Azzola also became friends with Geo Daly, then still an accordionist but later primarily a vibraphone player. Daly introduced him to contemporary American jazz; most of Azzola's education up that point had cantered on classical music and French musette and chanson.

After the liberation in 1944, Azzola continued to work in multiple bars and for organisations including the American headquarters of the Red Cross in France. He taught himself to play the bandoneon. In 1946, he travelled through Germany for six months to play for American soldiers.

His classical culture, his ability to decipher, made him from the late 1940s a highly sought after studio accordionist. In 1949, he participated in the recording of Sous le Ciel de Paris by Edith Piaf. Then in the 1950’s he recorded his first songs for Barclay Records and started collaborating with some of the greatest names of the French chanson, including, Barbara, Yves Montand, Boris Vian, Gilbert Bécaud and Juliette Gréco. He also played with European jazz musicians Stéphane Grappelli and Toots Thielemans. He played on some soundtracks and his music can be heard in multiple Jacques Tati movies including Mon Oncle.  


                 Here's "Petit Eideweiss" from above 1956 EP

                               

He accompanied Jacques Brel on his last three albums. During the recording of Vesoul, the latter overheard and amazed by the solo improvisation that Marcel Azzola does then sends him his cult apostrophe "Chauffe Marcel, chauffe!". The expression, launched in full recording of the song, has entered everyday language. He also record a hundred of film scores.

The accordion and its variants, he often pointed out, were honoured more in Argentina than anywhere else in the world. But he fought his corner in France, and it paid off. As a professor for 20 years at the national music school in Orsay, he campaigned mightily for accordion to be included as a course at the Paris Conservatoire. He had the delight not only of achieving that, in 2002, but of sitting on the jury that chose the first prof d’accordéon.

If anyone felt that was not quite right and proper, he had only to show them his collection. He possessed dozens of accordions, many rich and rare. Most came from Parisian antique shops, some were presents.He displayed them in brass-framed glass cabinets, and online he gave virtual tours. All the latent nobility of the instrument was on display there: its ancient lineage, from Laotian and Chinese metal-reed pipes, and its aristocratic birth in the early 19th century, as an instrument for fashionable drawing rooms.

He was made a Commander (the highest rank) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. This high-class musician was also a charming man, praised for his kindness and modesty. "He always had respect for people," says Philippe Krümm.

Azzola had suffered for a very long time from Dupuytren's disease in the right hand. As the ailment worsened, his activity reduced considerably in recent years. He spent most of his time in the manor house of Villennes-sur-Seine which he shared with Lina Bossatti, talented pianist and violinist, where he died in January 2019 at the age of 91.   (Edited from Wikipedia, The Economist  & Lexpress.fr)

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Lee Hazlewood born 9 July 1929


Lee Hazlewood (July 9, 1929 – August 4, 2007), was an American country and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer, most widely known for his work with guitarist Duane Eddy during the late fifties and singer Nancy Sinatra in the sixties.

Barton Lee Hazlewood was born in Mannford, Oklahoma; his father was a wildcat oil driller and dance promoter. In 1942 the family moved to Port Neches, Texas. After Huntsville high school, Hazlewood enrolled at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to study medicine, but was soon conscripted. Having married his high-school sweetheart, Naomi Shackleford, he served in Japan as armed services radio DJ and saw combat during the Korean war.

After he was demobilised in 1953, he and Naomi shifted to Los Angeles, where he studied broadcasting and landed a DJ job in the small town of Coolidge, Arizona. In 1955 he moved to KRUX radio in Phoenix, where he championed Elvis Presley. Certain he could do as well as the music he was playing, Hazlewood began writing songs and set up his own label, Viv. Then came The Fool. It was Hazlewood's innovative recording techniques that turned the single (when licensed by Dot Records) into a hit.

Failure to repeat that success found Hazlewood returning to Los Angeles, where he hooked up with entrepreneur Lester Sill. Hazlewood produced guitar tracks for teenager Duane Eddy, imaginatively employing reverb to create a potent sound, and he licensed these to Jamie Records. Eddy's second single, Rebel Rouser (1958), was a US and British hit, and the guitarist went on to enjoy a further 14 US and 25 British hits.


                              

The young Phil Spector was impressed by Hazlewood's sound, and spent time with him in his Phoenix studio studying how he used reverb and other effects to create hits. Spector's early productions appeared on the Trey label owned by Hazlewood and Sill.

Dismayed by the Beatles' success and the "British invasion" of the US charts, Hazlewood announced his retirement in 1964. Yet the following year Reprise Records managed to convince him to reconsider, with the prospect of producing Dino, Desi & Billy - three Hollywood 13-year olds. Having produced two hits for the trio and given Dean Martin (Dino's father) a hit with his composition Houston, Hazlewood was then asked to produce Frank Sinatra's daughter Nancy. She had been recording for four years with no success; Hazlewood told her to sing in a lower register and they immediately scored a minor US hit with So Long, Babe.

Later that year Hazlewood wrote These Boots Are Made for Walking. The result established Nancy as one of pop's hottest mid-60s singers, with Hazlewood producing all her recordings and writing many of the hits. In 1967 Hazlewood produced Somethin' Stupid, a Nancy-Frank duet which topped the US and British charts. Hazlewood often shared duets with Nancy - Some Velvet Morning was one of the tracks on their 1968 album Nancy & Lee - and in 1971 they scored a British number two with Did You Ever? Hazlewood scored and acted in several films and also licensed his songs for film and TV soundtracks.

In 1967 Hazlewood signed The International Submarine Band to his LHI label. While their sole album Safe At Home was not a hit, their leader, Gram Parsons, would soon be championed as the pioneer of "country-rock". More recently, that title has been bestowed on Hazlewood, who released his first solo album, Trouble Is a Lonesome Town, in 1963, thus introducing a gothic mix of pop and country that has since proven very influential. Alongside his pop productions, Hazlewood released wilfully eccentric solo albums; all were commercial failures, and his 1973 album Poet, Fool Or Bum received a one-word review in the NME - "bum".

Having settled in Sweden in 1970, Hazlewood released, on average, two albums a year until retiring from the music industry in 1978. Resurfacing in 1993 with the duet album Gypsies and Indians (with Anna Hanski), he then relocated to the US, toured with Nancy Sinatra and was surprised to find himself a cult figure: his albums were reissued by Sonic Youth and Tindersticks, and he was championed by Jarvis Cocker. In 1999 he headlined at London's Royal Festival Hall, returning in 2002, when he was backed by a band of leading British experimental rock musicians. In 1999 he released Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! and Me..., his first album of new material in 20 years.

Of his cult status, Hazlewood remarked, "Thank God for kids that love obscure things! I never thought anyone would pay attention to those records, and it's a good feeling. It makes me feel like I really did get to do what I wanted to do."

Diagnosed with cancer, Hazlewood gave away his gold and platinum discs to friends outside the music industry and worked on Cake Or Death, released to acclaim in December 2006. He died of renal cancer in Henderson, Nevada, on August 4, 2007.  (Edited mainly from Garth Cartwright @ The Guardian)

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Gertrude Niesen born 8 July 1911


Gertrude Niesen* (July 8, 1911 – March 27, 1975) was an American torch singer, actress, comedian, and songwriter who achieved popular success in musicals and films in the 1930s and 1940s.

Niesen was born aboard ship as her Swedish father and Russian mother returned from a vacation in Europe. As a child, she hoped for a career on stage and began performing in vaudeville and went into radio, the movies, the stage and nightclubs, becoming a noted comedian as well as a sultry voiced torch singer.  Miss Niesen was trained for an operatic career, but switched to popular singing, her voice changing from a soprano to a lush contralto that suited the songs popular at the peak of her career.

Credited as Gertrude Nissen, she recorded with Roger Wolfe  
Kahn and His Orchestra and Artie Shaw in a Vitaphone short film, Yacht Party (1932). She also sang and recorded with the Leo Reisman Orchestra for a time.  On old-time radio, Niesen was the featured singer on The Ex-Lax Big Show (1933-1934) on CBS  and host of The Show Shop (1942), on NBC-Blue. She recorded for Victor, Columbia, and Brunswick in the 1930s, and in 1933 was the first to record the song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach.


                               

One of the jobs that brought her to national attention was a weekly showcase in support of Rudy Vallee on a national network show. This lasted for more than three years. She appeared in the Broadway musical Calling All Stars in 1934 and in the Ziegfeld 
Follies of 1936. The original Cast Included: Fanny Brice (her final Broadway appearance), Bob Hope, Gertrude Niesen, Josephine Baker, Hugh O'Connell, Harriet Hector, Eve Arden, Judy Canova, Cherry & June Preisser, Nicholas Brothers, John Hoysradt & Stan Kavanaugh. It was choreographer George Balanchine's Broadway debut. Music was  by Vernon Duke with Ira Gershwin providing the lyrics

During 1936 there was a taxi shortage in Chigago. Here’s a quote from the local rag, “Gertrude Niesen, Hollywood star, found her own solution to the taxi problem in Chicago recently. 
Miss Niesen who races midgets on the West Coast used one to commute between her hotel and the night club where she was appearing Her publicity man can probably explain how she drives in traffic without licence plates…….” Her Broadway credits also include Follow the Girls (1944) and Take a Chance. 

In Oct. 1938, she recorded the song "La Conga" with Ernesto Lecuona's Cuban Boys in London, England.  She also began to appear regularly in movies, including Top of the Town (1937), Start Cheering (1938), and A Night at Earl Carroll's (1940), in which she sang a song that she co-wrote, "I Want to Make with the Happy Times".

She made headlines of another sort in 1941, when she became the owner of Rosecliff, an elaborate Newport villa that had been built for Mr. and Mrs. Hermann Oelrichs. The villa, said to be worth $2.5‐million, was acquired for $17,000 by Miss Niesen's mother at auction. Niesen told a local newspaper that she enjoyed the 22 bedrooms and 22 baths.

Gertrude outside her estate in 1941
At the time, there was considerable interest in how the dowagers of Newport would receive their new neighbour. The Niesens inspected the white marble, 50‐room villa, and then, before Newport could make up its mind, the family sold the structure for what was said to be a good profit.

Her other films included Rookies on Parade (1941), This Is the Army (1943), He's My Guy (1943), and The Babe Ruth Story (1948). Perhaps her most important role was that of the burlesque queen in “Follow the Girls,” which also starred Jackie Gleason in 1944. In the show she sang "I Want to Get Married", which became one of her better-known songs. The show ran for more than 800 performances in New. York before it took to the road. It was also the high point of Niesen's career.  In 1946, she appeared on the Philco Radio program starring Bing Crosby. She also appeared on other radio shows including 'Duffy's Tavern'. ("Hello, Duffy's Tavern, Archie the manager speaking, Duffy ain't here.")

She recorded for Decca Records throughout the 1940s. Among her hit recordings were "Where Are You", and "Legalize My Name", with music by Harold Arlen and  lyrics by Johnny Mercer. In 1950, Miss Niesen appeared in the West Coast version of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” playing the Lorelei Lee role originated by Carol Charming. She also released a self-titled LP for the label in 1951. She also appeared on many radio shows and on TV in the early 1950s but was pretty much out of the business within a few years.

In 1943, Niesen married Chicago nightclub owner Al Greenfield. The couple divorced but remarried in 1954, remaining married until Niesen’s death. She died in Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Hollywood, California in 1975, aged 63, after a long illness.


*There are other spellings of the artist's name, and you may find her mentioned as Gertrude Niessen, Neissen, Neesen or Nielsen.    (Edited from Wikipedia, Confetta @ jazzagemusic, the New York Times & Google books)

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Tiny Grimes born 7 July 1916


Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes (July 7, 1916 – March 4, 1989) was an American jazz and R&B guitarist. He was a member of the Art Tatum Trio from 1943 to 1944, was a backing musician on recording sessions, and later led his own bands, including a recording session with Charlie Parker. He is notable for playing the electric tenor guitar, a four-stringed instrument.

Born in Newport News, Virginia, he taught himself to play piano, and by 1935 was featured in amateur shows around the Washington DC area. Drawn to the excitement of the Harlem music scene and the opportunity to perform professionally, he moved to New York City in 1937 where he played piano in a  joint called the Rhythm Club. In 1938 he gigged with a group called 'The Four Dots', and began going by 'Tiny', a nickname he acquired as a child growing up in Newport News.

It was during this time in New York City when he taught himself to play the guitar. He purchased a banged-up four-string guitar at a Harlem pawn shop for the sum of five dollars. Later asked why he decided to play four-string rather than the usual six, he replied, "'Cause I couldn't afford the other two strings!" He quickly became adept at playing the guitar, drawing inspiration from the immortal Charlie Christian and a local guitarist named 'Snags' Allen.

In 1940 he joined a popular harmony group called 'The Cats and The Fiddle', replacing Herbie Miles on the 'fiddle'. His first recording session was on January 20, 1941, sitting in on eight tunes for RCA's Bluebird label. The group went back into the studio in October of 1941.

Tiny left the 'Cats' in 1942 and headed west to the burgeoning music scene in California. He joined up with bassist 'Slam' Stewart of 'Slim and Slam' following 'Slim' Gaillard's abrupt departure for the U.S. Army. Shortly thereafter Tiny and Slam found themselves jamming regularly with prodigal pianist Art Tatum. Soon this gifted trio was headlining in New York City to rave revues and fanatical audiences on 57th Street. This infamous jazz trio was not able to cut any wax until 1944 because of the American Federation of Musicians Recording ban of 1942-1943. When the ban was lifted they recorded under the name 'The Art Tatum Trio' for the Brunswick Label. They also recorded for a small outfit called Comet Records, whose discs are considered collectable.

After leaving Tatum, Grimes recorded with his own groups in New York and with a long list of leading musicians, including vocalist Billie Holiday. He made four recordings with his own group, augmented with Charlie Parker: "Tiny's Tempo", "Red Cross", "Romance Without Finance", and "I'll Always Love You Just the Same", the latter two featuring Grimes' singing.


                                

Signed to fledgling Atlantic Records in 1947 Grimes charted his own idiosyncratic course, largely forsaking jazz for rock ‘n’ roll, albeit a highly refined technically proficient version of rock. The next fall he scored Atlantic’s first official hit “Loch Lomond” and put together an eclectic band of musicians he dubbed The Rockin’ 
Highlanders, who appeared in kilts and which would at various points include such luminaries as sax star Red Prysock and pianist/singer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. In addition to his own work he may (or may not – details are sketchy at times) have appeared on many other notable tracks by artists through the years which further shaped the rock sound.

With Paul Williams, he co-headlined the first Moondog Coronation Ball, promoted by Alan Freed in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 21, 1952, often claimed as the first rock and roll concert. In 1953 he may have played on the Crows one-hit wonder, "Gee", that has been called the first original rock and roll record by an R&B group.
Grimes and his band toured all through the 1950s.

Grimes continued to lead his own groups into the later 1970s and he recorded on Prestige Records in a series of strong blues-based performances with Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Pepper Adams, Roy Eldridge and other noted players including, in 1977, Earl Hines. Although maintaining a fairly low profile, he stayed pretty much in the New York club scene and was active up until his death, playing in an unchanged swing/bop transitional style and recording as a leader for such labels as Prestige/Swingville, Black & Blue, Muse, and Sonet

Grimes died in March 1989 in New York City from meningitis at the age of 72.

(Edited from Wikipedia, IMDb, Spontaneous Lunacy & interservicesnetwork)