Sunday, 31 March 2013

Lefty Frizzell born 31 March 1928

William Orville 'Lefty' Frizzell (March 31, 1928 – July 19, 1975) was an American country music singer and songwriter of the 1950s and a leading exponent of the Honky Tonk style of country music. His relaxed style of singing was a major influence on later stars Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and

George Jones.

Frizzell was born in Corsicana, Texas, but moved with his family shortly after his birth to El Dorado, Arkansas, where they remained until the early 1940s. Frizzell began playing
the guitar as a very young boy and by age 12, he was appearing regularly on a children's show at a local radio station KELD. The family moved back to Texas when Frizzell was still a teenager, his music career got boosted when he won a talent contest in Dallas.

Lefty was always known as Sonny to his family. He acquired the nickname "Lefty" at age 14 after a schoolyard scrap with another student. In his late teens, he was performing at fairgrounds and other venues, developing a unique, soulful voice. Like his father, he got work in the oilfields, but his growing popularity as a singer soon gave him regular work on the Honky Tonk nightclub

circuit. At age 19, he had a half-hour show on a small Texas radio station, getting a big break when a record producer, Don Law heard him sing. 

Signed to Columbia Records, he immediately had a string of hits that broke into country music's top ten; several of them reached # 1. In 1950, he was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry; the following year he appeared on the prestigious Louisiana Hayride radio program that broadcast from Shreveport, Louisiana and then began touring with country music's biggest star of the era, Hank Williams. A prolific songwriter, Frizzell had four songs in the country top ten at the same time in 1951 — a feat that would not be repeated on any chart until The Beatles one-upped him, on the popular music/pop charts, with five songs in 1964.


By the end of the 1950s, rock and roll was dominating the North American music scene, but although no one would ever mistake Frizzell's music for anything but country, his 1959 hit, "Long Black Veil," gained wide acceptance with a variety of music fans in addition to country, and was the first 

recording of this "standard." A few years later, Frizzell recorded "Saginaw, Michigan," which took the #1 spot on the country music charts. The song earned him a Grammy Award nomination.

In the early 1970s, Frizzell changed record labels and moved to Bakersfield, California, where he recorded several more country music hits and became the first country singer to perform at the Hollywood Bowl. By then, however, his problems with alcoholism were already taking their toll.
Mood swings and outbreaks of irrational anger became a trademark, and his constant failure to meet recording commitments strained his relationship with his recording company.

In 1972, Lefty Frizzell was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and his song "If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time" earned him a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Unfortunately, success and money only added to Frizzell's alcohol addiction, and on July 19, 1975, he suffered a massive stroke and died at age 47. He was buried on "Music Row" at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. In October 1982, Lefty was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Merle Haggard said that Lefty was, the most unique thing that ever happened to country music.
(info edited from Wikipedia)

Here's two great songs  from Lefty in the 1966 film "Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar"

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Frankie Laine born 30 March 1913

Frankie Laine, born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio (Chicago, March 30, 1913 – San Diego, February 6, 2007), was a successful American musician, singer and songwriter whose career spanned 75 years, from his first concerts in 1930 with a marathon dance company to his final performance of "That's My Desire in 2005.

 Often billed as America's Number One Song Stylist, his other nicknames include Mr. Rhythm, Old Leather Lungs, and Old Man Jazz. His hits included "That's My Desire", "That Lucky Old Sun", "Mule Train", "Cry of the Wild Goose", "Jezebel", "High Noon", "I Believe", "Hey Joe!", "The Kid's Last Fight", "Cool Water", "Moonlight Gambler", "Love is a Golden Ring", "Rawhide", and "Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain".

Francesco Paolo LoVecchio was born March 30, 1913, the eldest of eight children of Sicilian immigrants who settled in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago. His father was a
barber whose customers included Al Capone; his maternal grandfather was the victim of a mob hit.

At 18, with the Depression under way and his father out of work, Laine hit the road as a dance marathoner. Altogether he participated in 14 marathons, coming in first on three occasions. He and his partner, Ruthie Smith, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for dancing 145 days straight (although he disputed Guinness, saying he and Smith danced for 146 days). Laine would not hit it big until his mid-30s. In between, he would live the tough life of an undiscovered musician in the Depression. He traveled from city to city, often without
enough money for a hotel or a decent meal. Then he got a break: an audition at WINS radio station, where he got a $5-a-week job singing on a live half-hour show.

It was the program director at WINS who changed his name from Frank LoVecchio to Frankie Lane. (Laine added the "i" to avoid confusion with another singer with the same last name.) Years more of moving around, working other jobs and testing his talent brought him eventually to Los Angeles, where he hung out at clubs such as Slapsy Maxie's and Billy Berg's. It was at Billy Berg's that he met Duke Ellington, Art Tatum and many other legends. Eventually, Laine did get a chance to record a few songs for Mercury Records. He decided he wanted to do an old song he'd heard years ago, "That's My Desire," but he couldn't remember it well enough to sing it the way it was written, so he improvised. 

"Desire" was the song that proved the breakthrough for Laine, although it took almost a year. First it hit the so-called Harlem pop charts, which recorded sales to black record buyers. During 1947, "Desire" got more and more air play, even in Europe. By fall, Laine got his first royalty payment for the song: $36,000. He was 34. He was to become one of the most popular singers of the late 1940s and 1950s. Only Bing 
Crosby and Frank Sinatra sold more records. Other hits soon followed “Desire” including, Jezebel, Cool, Clear Water and Ghost Riders in the Sky.

Frankie's popularity quickly spread across the Atlantic. He performed in record-breaking engagements at the London Palladium, and had four UK number ones. His stirring rendition of I Believe topped the British charts in 1953, staying there for eighteen weeks in three separate spells, a performance that even The Beatles never matched.

Frankie Laine appeared in several films in the 1950s, including When You're Smiling and Sunny Side of the Street.

He was more successful, however, in singing the theme songs to films such as Rawhide, Blowing Wild and Blazing Saddles in 1974. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Laine worked mainly on the American cabaret circuit, though he also returned to the UK on a couple of occasions. ''I continually try to keep the voice up,'' he explained. ''You know what they say. If you don't use it, you lose it.''

Although Laine continued to tour, he was plagued with health problems and had quadruple bypass heart surgery in 1985. It didn't affect his performance and he still favoured songs with big endings. With the exception of Jazz Spectacular in 1956, Laine never concentrated on albums, but this changed in the 1980s, with albums like Country Laine (1987), which

included a beautiful, whimsical ballad, "She Never Could Dance", and New Directions (1988) among his best.

He kept performing, traveling widely with his wife, actress Nan Grey. After her death in 1993, he stayed closer to his home in San Diego, where the couple had lived since 1968. He was remarried in 1999, to Marcia Ann Kline.

He marked the ascendance of the popular singer over the big bands, and his amazing success set the pattern for the likes of Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley and Tom Jones. In 1996 he was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 27th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame awards ceremony. It was fitting reward for a man who had sold more than 100 million records worldwide. His last record, released shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, was dedicated to New York City's firemen.

In 2007, Laine entered Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego for surgery to repair a broken hip but died of a heart attack just days after the operation. He was 93. (info edited from various sources, mainly 

Here's a video clip taken from one of Frankie's early TV appearences

Friday, 29 March 2013

Eden Kane born 29 March 1942

Eden Kane (born Richard Graham Sarstedt, 29 March 1941, Delhi, India) is an early 1960s British pop singer.

Like Cliff Richard, Pete Best, and Engelbert Humperdinck, Richard Sarstedt was born in India, but returned with his parents to England while he was still a child. Although he formed a skiffle group with his younger brothers Peter and Robin his first recording was sponsored by Cadbury; 'Hot Chocolate Crazy'- an advertising jingle, issued as a single by
Pye Records. This was played almost as often as Horace Batchelor's football pools advertisement on Radio Luxembourg. By this time he had created the name 'Eden Kane' for himself. This was thought more fashionable at the time than Sarstedt. The new name, allegedly inspired by the film 'Citizen Kane', had similar biblical connotations to that of the highly successful Adam Faith.

His natural good looks enabled him to get a part in the 1960 film 'Drinks All Round', but then came the opportunity to record 'Well I Ask You' on Decca. 

The song was written by Les Vandyke and arranged by John Keating. Vandyke had earlier worked on two chart-topping singles for Adam Faith, ("What Do You Want" and "Poor Me"). This proved to be a smash hit and was followed up with two more Vandyke songs, both of which reached the UK top ten.  After "Well I Ask You" made No 1 in June 1961, "Get Lost" reached No 10 in September 1961; "Forget Me Not" achieved No 3 spot in January 1962. Both of these were also written by Les Vandyke. "I Don't Know Why" reached No 7 in May 1962, and finally "Boys Cry" made No 8 in January 1964, but then the string of hits halted despite a return to Vandyke with 'House To Let'.

However, a couple of flops, financial problems, and a change in label to Philips subsidiary Fontana marked a decline similar to that experienced by most of the pre-Beatles UK
stars. Like many of his teen idol peers, Kane sought to stave off chart oblivion by hitching a ride onto the beat boom bandwagon, teaming with a group with real Liverpool pedigree - Fontana labelmates Earl Preston and the TT's. This energetic attempt, originally titled "Do You Love Me" (c/w "Comeback") was reissued with a new title "Like I Love You", to avoid confusion with the UK hit covers by Brian Poole & the Tremeloes and the Dave Clark Five of The Contours' U.S. hit of the same name, and some momentum was lost.

Kane's next release, a UK and Australia Top 10 comeback hit

with "Boys Cry" in 1964, was just a hiccup on the general downward spiral and did little to sustain his career. However, he was arguably the last British solo star to succeed before  the arrival of the Beatles, and his five chart singles all made the Top Ten.

Kane later moved to America and married journalist Charlene Groman (the sister of actress Stefanie Powers), whom he had first met while passing through the United States in the mid 1960s. They have now made their permanent home in Los Angeles. Kane remained active in the entertainment business in the States, as a record producer.

The family was far from finished. His brother, Peter Sarstedt, got to number one himself in 1969, with "Where Do You Go

To (My Lovely)"; whilst the youngest brother Clive, who had earlier recorded under the supervision of Joe Meek as Wes Sands, later used his middle name to call himself Robin Sarstedt and reached the British Top 3 in 1976 with his cover rendition of the old Hoagy Carmichael song, "My Resistance Is Low".

As a footnote, in the mid 1970s all three brothers sang together briefly, but this did not create new chart action for Kane. On 20 June 1973, the brothers made their first joint appearance as a group at Croydon's Fairfield Halls. Eden, Peter and Robin went on to win a joint BASCA Award for composing and songwriting. Eden has recorded for Decca, Fontana, Bell, Monarch, HMV and Festival (the last two being Australian releases).

As of 2006, all three of the Sarstedt brothers are still active in the music industry and Eden has toured the UK several times with the 'Solid Gold Rock and Roll' tours.

Kane was a contract actor on the Star Trek team, and made many appearances in the TV series under his real name Richard Sarstedt.

Currently he has a CD, entitled Y2Kane, available on his website. (Info edited from Wikipedia &

Not much early footage of Eden except a few Scopitone clips. 
Here's Eden Kane performing with an anonymous dreamgirl in the bewitching Scopitone clip of "Someone Wants To Know". 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Thad Jones born 28 March 1923

Thaddeus Joseph Jones (March 28, 1923 – August 21, 1986) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader.

Thad Jones was born in Pontiac, Michigan, to a musical family of ten (an older brother was pianist Hank Jones and a younger brother was drummer Elvin Jones). Thad Jones was a self-taught musician, performing professionally by the age of sixteen. He served in U.S. Army bands during World War II (1943–46).

After Army service including an association with the U.S. Military School of Music and working with area bands in Des Moines and Oklahoma City, Thad became a member of the
Count Basie Orchestra in May 1954. He was featured as a soloist on such well-known tunes as "April in Paris", "Shiny Stockings" and "Corner Pocket". However, his main contribution was his nearly two dozen arrangements and compositions for the Basie Orchestra, including "The Deacon", "H.R.H." (Her Royal Highness, in honor of the band’s command performance in London), "Counter Block", and lesser known gems such as "Speaking of Sounds". His hymn-like ballad "To You" was performed by the Basie band combined with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in their only recording together, and the recording Dance Along With Basie contains nearly an entire album of Jones’ uncredited arrangements of standard tunes. 

 Here is " I'll Remember April" from above album.

Jones left the Basie Orchestra in 1963 to become a freelance arranger and studio player in New York. In 1965, he and drummer Mel Lewis formed The Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra. The group initially began with informal late-night jam sessions among New York's top studio musicians. The group eventually began performing at the Village Vanguard in February 1966, to wide acclaim, and continued with Jones in the lead for twelve years. They won a 1978 Grammy Award for their album Live in Munich. Jones also taught at William Paterson College in New Jersey, which is now the site of the Thad Jones Archive, containing pencil scores and vintage photos as part of the Living Jazz Archives.

Jones' big-band arranging style was unique, especially from the standpoint of featuring dissonant voicings in a tonal context. This required the members of his big band to play correctly in tune, otherwise the dense chords he wrote would not sound correct. Minor 2nds and major 7ths are often featured in his voicings, especially when the entire band plays a long, powerful chord that some would describe as having "bite".

One of the more notable albums he made in this regard is Suite for Pops recorded on the A&M Records Horizon label (now out of print) in the early 1970s. It also featured the intense bebop improvisations of saxophonist Billy Harper
and the high note screech playing of lead trumpet player Jon Faddis.

In 1978, Thad suddenly moved to Copenhagen, Denmark (to the great surprise of his New York band mates), where several other American jazz musicians had gone to live. Upon Thad’s 1978 departure to live in Europe, the band continued as the Mel Lewis Orchestra until Lewis’s death in February 1990, after which they performed as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, still including several Thad Jones alumni, continuing the Monday night Village Vanguard tradition into its fifth decade.

Jones resided in Copenhagen from 1978–1984. He formed a
new big band Eclipse which he recorded a live album with, Eclipse. Several Americans were on the album, pianist Horace Parlan, baritonist Sahib Shihab, trumpeter Tim Hagans and trombonist/vocalist Richard Boone along with trombonists Bjarne Thanning & Ture Larsen, trumpeter Lars Togeby, altoists Ole Thøger & Michael Hove, tenor saxophonist Bent Jædig and Jesper Lundgaard on bass. He further composed for The Danish Radio Big Band and taught jazz at the Royal Danish Conservatory in Copenhagen. He studied composition formally during this period, as well as taking up the valve trombone.

In February 1985, he returned to the U.S. to take the leadership of the Basie Orchestra upon his former leader’s death, fronting the Basie band in numerous tours, and
writing arrangements for recordings and performances with vocalist Caterina Valente and Manhattan Transfer, but had to step down due to ill health. He returned to his home in Copenhagen for the last few months of his life. He died on August 21, 1986, after being hospitalized for months, but his cause of death was not published. In later years his playing ability was overshadowed by his composing and arranging skills. His best known composition is the standard "A Child is Born".

At the time of his death he had a six-year-old child, also named Thad Jones, with his wife Lis Jones, a daughter Thedia and a son Bruce. He is buried in Copenhagen's Vestre Kirkegård Cemetery (Western Churchyard Cemetery).

Thad Jones has a street named after him in southern Copenhagen, "Thad Jones Vej" (eng. Thad Jones Street).
(Info Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Janis Martin born 27 March 1940

Janis Martin (March 27, 1940 – September 3, 2007) was an American rockabilly and country music singer. Janis Martin was one of the few female rock & roll artists to make records, proving to the male-dominated rock & roll industry that women too could sell a large amount of records and score rock & roll hits. This opened doors for other rock & roll

singers to come, like Brenda Lee.

She was born in 1940 in Sutherlin, Virginia. Her mother was a stage mother, and her father and uncle were both musicians, who practised in hopes of gaining a professional career in the music industry. It was not surprising that Janis soon began becoming interested in music also. Before she
was six years old, Martin was already singing and playing the guitar, and credited her influences from the Country Music singers Eddy Arnold and Hank Williams. She was soon a fixture in talent shows and other contests, and won most of them. She soon started appearing on a local radio show WDVA Barndance in Virginia at the young age of 11. When she was in her mid-teens, she started appearing alongside other Country singers, like Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, The Browns and Jim Reeves. Her experience at such a young age brought Martin to performing rock & roll. Martin claimed she was getting tired of singing and performing Country music.

She started singing R&B music. A demo of her version of Will You William was sent to RCA to have the song appraised. When RCA got the song, they were more impressed with the singer and then the song. She was immediately called to come to RCA for a recording session. At only age 15, Martin was signed to her first record company, RCA Records. This was only two months after Elvis Presley signed on with them.


In 1956, Martin released her debut record under RCA, called "Will You Willyum", backed by her own composition, "Drugstore Rock'n Roll". The song, became the biggest hit of her career, and the record sold 750,000 copies. The song was not just a pop/rock & roll hit, but also a Country hit. Most rock & roll artists at the time had their singles become hits on the Country charts as well as the Pop charts. Soon, Martin was performing on America's most well-known shows, like American Bandstand, The Today Show, and the Tonight Show. She also appeared on Country music's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, becoming one of the youngest performers to ever appear there. She was awarded by Billboard Most Promising Female Vocalist that year.

Elvis Presley and RCA records were so impressed with Janis' delivery of a song on stage, she was given the nickname The Female Elvis, which stuck with her the rest of her career.
Presley in fact sent his wishes and a dozen red roses to Janis when she appeared in Miami, Florida, when she appeared at the RCA Records convention down there to be introduced to other RCA officials around the country and the world. She was chosen by her record company to tour as a member of the Jim Reeves show and tour with the Country singer exclusively.

Martin continued recording straight-up rock & roll, as well as Country material, that ended up being successful on both charts, like the songs "My Boy Elvis", "Let's Elope Baby", cover of Roy Orbison's song "Oooby Dooby", and "Love Me to Pieces", along with "Will You Willyum", which was a Top 40 Pop hit. Soon though, RCA Records heard that Martin had been married since she was signed to RCA at age 15. That year, she was soon pregnant. This situation led to RCA dropping Martin in 1958. She was also dropped from the label due to falling record sales. Soon, Janis Martin was off the rock & roll and Country music scene. Martin tried to revive her music career a few years later but was unable to regain the momentum. At the end of the decade, she was pursued by King Records and Decca Records, opting to sign to a Belgian label in 1960 called Palette.

By this time, Martin was on her second marriage (which wouldn't last for too long), and her new husband Parton didn't take her career at all well. With the demands of her husband, she soon dropped out of the music business, not even making public appearances any more. In the 1970s, she started performing again, with her newly-formed band calledThe Variations. In 1975, Edd Bayes of Maryland found Janis working for her local police department and coaxed her to appear in Baltimore and allow her story to appear in Goldmine magazine. She caught on instantly and the fans demanded she return to her roots; she then started touring throughout Europe, where she gained a massive following. Martin's RCA recordings were soon forgotten by her record company.

In 1979, Edd Bayes convinced RCA Victor to release to him the four songs held in their vaults. They were released on Dog Gone Records and introduced her public to songs never heard before. In the 1980s, the Bear Family label gathered Martin's complete record history, with the compilation album The Female Elvis, giving the public a chance to buy a collection of Martin's 50s hits. In 1995, Martin appeared on Rosie Flores's Rockabilly Filly album for HighTone Records. Rosie Flores recorded a new album with Martin six months before her death. These recordings were released as The Blanco Sessions by Cow Island Music on September 18, 2012.

Martin died on September 3, 2007, having earlier been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She also lost her only son Kevin Parton in January 2007. (info edited from Wikipedia)

Here's Janis in concert Palomino Club, North Hollywood 19 February 1994

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Rufus Thomas born 26 March 1917

Rufus Thomas, Jr. (March 27, 1917 – December 15, 2001) was a rhythm and blues, funk and soul  singer and comedian from Memphis, Tennessee, who recorded on Sun Records in the 1950s and on Stax Records in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the father of soul singer Carla Thomas and keyboard player Marvell Thomas. A third child, Vaneese, a former French teacher, has a recording studio in upstate New York and sings for television commercials.

Born a sharecropper's son in the rural community of Cayce, Mississippi, Thomas moved to Memphis with his family at age 2. His mother was “a church woman.” Thomas made his artistic debut at the age of 6 playing a frog in a school
theatrical production. Much later in life, he would impersonate all kinds of animals: screeching cats, funky chickens and penguins, and mournful dogs. By age 10, he was a tap dancer, performing in amateur productions at Memphis' Booker T. Washington High School.

Thomas attended one semester at Tennessee A&I University, but due to economic conditions left to pursue a career as a professional entertainer, joining up in 1936 with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, an all-black revue that toured the South. He then worked for twenty-two years at a textile plant and didn't leave that job until about 1963, around the time of his “Dog” hits.

 He started at WDIA in 1951 (despite biographies placing his
start a year earlier). At WDIA, he hosted an afternoon show called Hoot and Holler. WDIA, featuring an African-American format, was known as "the mother station of the Negroes" and became an important source of blues and R&B music for a generation, its audience consisting of white as well as black listeners. Thomas's mentor was Nat D. Williams, a pioneer black deejay at WDIA as well as Thomas's high school history teacher, columnist for black newspapers, and host of an amateur show at Memphis's Palace Theater. For years Thomas himself took hosting duties for the amateur show and, in that capacity, is credited with the discovery of B.B. King.

He made his professional singing debut at the Elks Club on Beale Street in Memphis, filling in for another singer at the last minute. He made his first 78 rpm record in 1943 for the Star Talent label in Texas, "I'll Be a Good Boy", backed with "I'm So Worried."

He also became a long-standing on-air personality with WDIA, one of the first radio stations in the US to feature an all-black staff. His celebrity was such that in 1953 he
recorded an "answer record" to Big Mama Thornton's hit, "Hound Dog" called "Bear Cat" released on Sun Records. Although the song was the label's first hit, a copyright-infringement suit ensued and nearly bankrupted Sam Phillips' record label. Later, Rufus was one of the African American artists released by Sam Phillips as he oriented his label more toward white audiences and signed the likes of Elvis Presley.

In 1959, he recorded a duet with his daughter Carla Thomas entitled 'Cause I Love You' for the Satellite label, a label that was later to become Stax Records. The prime of Rufus's recording career came in the 1960s and early 1970s, when he was on the roster of Memphis label, Stax, having one of the first hit sides at the historic soul and blues label, "Walking the Dog", (#5 R&B, #10 Pop) in 1963. At Stax, he recorded songs when he had something to record. He was often backed by Booker T. and the MG's or the Bar-Kays.

The early 1970s brought him three major hits, including "(Do The) Push and Pull" in 1970, his only number one R&B hit (#25 Pop). Earlier that year, "Do the Funky Chicken" had reached #5 R&B and #28 Pop. A third dance-oriented release in 1971, "The Breakdown" climbed to #2 R&B and #31 Pop. He had several more less successful hits until Stax closed its doors in the mid-70s.

Late in his career, for years, Rufus performed at the Porretta Soul Festival in Porretta Terme, Italy. The outdoor amphitheater in which he performed has been re-named "Rufus Thomas Park." In 1996, Rufus and William Bell headlined at the Olympics in Atlanta. Highlights of his career included calming an unruly crowd at the Wattstax Festival in 1972 and performing with James Brown's band.

He played an important part in the Stax reunion of 1988, and had a small role in the 1989 Jim Jarmusch film Mystery
Train. Rufus released an album of straight-ahead blues, That Woman is Poison!, with Alligator Records in 1990. Bob Fisher's Sequel Records released a new album from Rufus in 1996.'Blues Thang' celebrated his 79th birthday at the time of release. Rufus held three concerts at the Olympic Games in Atlanta the following year.In 1997, Rufus released an album, "Rufus Live!," with Ecko Records. In 1998, he underwent open-heart surgery at a Memphis hospital.

Thomas was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. His last appearance was in the D.A. Pennebaker-directed documentary Only the Strong Survive in which he co-stars with daughter Carla.

 Rufus Thomas 'the world's oldest teenager' died of heart failure in 2001, at the age of 84, at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis. A street is named in his honor, just off Beale Street in Memphis.
(Info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Johnny Burnette born 25 March 1934

John Joseph "Johnny" Burnette (March 25, 1934–August 14, 1964) was a Rockabilly pioneer. Along with his older brother Dorsey Burnette and a friend named Paul Burlison, Johnny Burnette was a founding member of The Rock and Roll Trio. He was the father of 1980s rockabilly singer Rocky Burnette.

Johnny grew up with his parents and Dorsey Jr. in a public housing project in the Lauderdale Courts area of Memphis. Johnny went initially to the Blessed Sacrament Parochial

School and after graduating from the eighth grade he moved on to the Catholic High School in Memphis where he showed an aptitude for sports. Both he and Dorsey were keen amateur boxers and were to become Golden Gloves Champions.

After leaving high school, Johnny tried his hand at becoming a professional boxer, but after one fight with a sixty dollar purse and a broken nose, he decided to quit the ring. He went to work on the barges traversing the Mississippi River, where Dorsey Burnette also worked. Johnny worked mainly as a deck hand while Dorsey worked as an oiler. Both of the brothers worked separately, but they would take their guitars on board and write songs during their spare time. After work they would go back to Memphis, where they would perform those and other songs
at local bars. It was in memphis that Johnny formed The Rock and Roll Trio.

Allegedly rejected by Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, the group recorded "Go Mule Go" for Von Records in New York and were subsequently signed to Coral Records, where they enjoyed a minor hit with "Tear It Up". After touring with Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent, the trio underwent a change of personnel in November 1956 with the recruitment of drummer Tony Austin. That same month, the trio featured in Alan Freed's movie Rock Rock Rock. During this period, they issued a number of singles, including "Honey Hush", "The Train Kept A-Rollin'", "Lonesome

Train", "Eager Beaver Baby", "Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee" and "If You Want It Enough", but despite the quality of the songs their work was unheralded.

By the autumn of 1957, the trio broke up and the Burnette brothers moved on to enjoy considerable success as songwriters. Writing as a team, they provided Ricky Nelson with the hits "It's Late", "Believe What You Say" and "Just A Little Too Much". After briefly working as a duo, the brothers parted for solo careers.

In the fall of 1958, Johnny obtained a recording contract as a solo artist with Freedom Records, which was an off-shoot of Liberty Records. He had three single releases on this label. In
mid-1959, the Freedom Label was shut down and Johnny moved to the main Liberty Label under the direction of producer Snuff Garrett. Since Liberty had more promotional machinery than Freedom, Johnny’s Liberty singles stood a greater chance of succeeding. Johnny proved an adept interpreter of teen ballads, whose lyrics conjured up innocent dreams of wish fulfilment. Both "Dreamin'" and "You're Sixteen" were transatlantic Top 10 hits, perfectly suited to Burnette's light but expressive vocal. A series of lesser successes followed with "Little Boy Sad", "Big Big World", "Girls" and "God, Country And My Baby".


He had three single released during 1962 with Chancellor Records, but none of these singles were hits. He then briefly joined Dorsey on Reprise Records for one single "Hey Sue"/"It Don’t Take Much" before signing a one year contract with Capitol Records in the summer of 1963 again without much success.

When his Capitol contract ran out, Johnny decided to take charge of his own affairs on his own terms. He formed his own label Sahara and in July 1964 released the single "Fountain of Love"/"What A Summer Day" . When he was informed that the name Sahara had already been taken, he renamed the label Magic Lamp and a different single "Bigger Man"/"Less Than A Heartbeat" was quickly released

Before anyone could gauge the chances of "Bigger Man",
tragedy struck. After dark on August 14, 1964, Johnny’s tiny unlit fishing boat was struck by an unaware cabin cruiser on Clearlake, California. The impact threw him off the boat and he drowned. When he was given the news, a distraught Dorsey Burnette called Paul Burlison, who immediately flew out to comfort him and attend Johnny’s funeral. The two men were to keep in constant touch until Dorsey’s death of a heart attack in 1979. Johnny Burnette was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Among the family he left behind was his son Rocky Burnette, who subsequently achieved recording success in the 70s. (info edited mainly from Wikipedia & NME)