Thursday, 31 October 2013

Julia Lee born 31 October 1902

Julia Lee (October 31, 1902 – December 8, 1958) was an American blues and dirty blues musician. She was known for her husky voice, her straightforward piano style, and the easy, but heartfelt way she sang. In a professional singing career that spanned four decades, Lee built a national reputation as one of the great female blues singers of all time.

Julia Lee was born in Booneville, Missouri, and raised in Kansas City, where she attended Lincoln High School. As a child, she performed with her father’s string trio, as well as at neighborhood house parties and church socials. She began her professional musical career singing and playing the piano in her brother’s band, George E. Lee and His Novelty Singing Orchestra. George Lee’s band formed around 1920, and, among the black musical groups in the Kansas City area, was the biggest rival of

the Bennie Moten Orchestra during that decade. George Lee’s band featured outstanding singers and soloists. It was also the training ground for a many talented young musicians, including, briefly, Charlie Parker.

After her brother’s group disbanded in 1935, Julia Lee stayed in Kansas City and launched an independent career. A major figure in the blues revival that followed World War II, her trademark was double entrendres, or, as she once said, “the songs my mother taught me not to sing.”


She made several hit records in the 1940s. The success of “Come on Over to My House Baby” lead to a recording contract with Capitol Records in 1946 and a string of R&B hits followed, including "Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got" (#3 R&B, 1946), "Snatch and Grab It" (#1 R&B for 12 weeks, 1947, selling over 500,000 copies), "King Size Papa" (#1 R&B for 9 weeks, 1948), "I Didn't Like It The First Time (The Spinach Song)" (#4 R&B, 1949), and "My Man Stands Out".

 The records were credited to 'Julia Lee and Her Boy Friends', her session musicians including Jay McShann, Vic Dickenson, Benny Carter, Red Norvo, Nappy Lamare, and Red Nichols.

 She worked primarily in Kansas City and frequently teamed up with the great drummer Samuel “Baby” Lovett, a veteran of George Lee’s band. In 1949, Lee and Lovett played at the White House at the invitation of President Harry Truman. Her decision to spend most of her career in Kansas City rather than New York or Los Angeles, where R&B really took off, meant that she was far more unfamiliar to the wider public than many less talented singer-pianists of her generation.

Lee was married for a time to Frank Duncan, a star catcher and manager of the Negro National League's Kansas City Monarchs. He, like Julia, was a native of Kansas City.

Although her hits dried up after 1949, she continued as one of the most popular performers in Kansas City until her death in San Diego, California, at the age of 56, from a heart attack. (Info mainly edited from Kansas City & Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Ray Smith born 30 October 1934

Ray Smith (October 30, 1934 – November 29, 1979) was an American rockabilly music pioneer whose biggest hit was “Rockin’ Little Angel”

Ray Eugene Smithwas born in Melber and raised in Paducah, Kentucky. He was taught piano at an early age and performed cowboy songs in school. As a teen he was a moonshine bootlegger with his brother-in-law and also worked for Coca-Cola. Smith was recruited to perform in a talent show while in basic training in Syracuse, NY; after winning first prize for his rendition of Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues," Smith began teaching himself to play the piano, guitar, and harmonica. While stationed in California, he began playing club dates on weekends, and in 1956 he formed his band "The Rock & Roll Boys," even though he admitted later that at first he hated rock and roll and his main influence was not Elvis,
but Faron Young.

Ray Smith & His Rock & Roll Boys formed and began playing gigs in Kentucky and Illinois. He immediately landed his own Television program on Paducah's WPSD-TV, which ran from 1956 to 1959. Charlie Terrell, who managed Onie Wheeler, saw Ray's TV show and was impressed enough to urge Sun Records' Sam Phillips to give Ray a shot. Sam was also impressed by the tape Terrell had given him, and it's said that Ray Smith is the only artist Phillips ever signed without hearing them in person first.

Ray recorded some memorable material on Sun, including Charlie Rich's "Break-Up", later recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis and then by Rich himself. But when Jud Phillips split off from Sun to start his own Judd label, Ray went with him, and it was there that he had his breakthrough hit - "Rockin' Little Angel" / "That's All Right", which featured an all-star backing band and production team including Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, Grady Martin, and Bill Justis.


 The record sold well over 3,000,000 copies, and Ray Smith was suddenly a star, appearing on American Bandstand and touring in a snazzy bus with his band, now called the Rockin' Little Angels.

Smith followed his up-tempo hit with a handful of ballads that failed to make a serious impression on the charts, but he continued to perform and record as a journeyman rock & roll and country act, cutting material for Vee-Jay, Warner Brothers, Smash, Tollie, Vix and Cinnamon Records over the next decade-and-a-half. In the '70s, Smith relocated to Canada and continued to perform regularly there, as well as landing frequent dates in Las Vegas. Smith's career came to an abrupt and tragic end on November 29, 1979, when the musician unexpectedly took his own life by putting a gun to his head. Seventeen years later , his hero Faron Young did the same. (info Wikipedia & JSH Rockabilly Hall Of Fame).

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Hadda Brooks born 29 October 1916

Hadda Brooks (October 29*, 1916 - November 21, 2002), was a noted American pianist, vocalist and composer. She was hailed as the “Queen Of The Boogie” and “Empress Of The Torch Blues.” (*other sources October 21)

Ms. Brooks was born Hadda Riah Hopgood in Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. Her father was a law enforcement officer and her mother a physician. At the age of 4, she begged her father for piano lessons and, when told by her prospective teacher that she couldn't begin until her hands were big enough to span an octave, stretched her fingers over the keyboard for a week until she could do it. She remained with that teacher for 20 years, also studying at the Vocational Polytechnic High School, the University of Southern California and Northwestern University.

Hadda got her professional start in Willie Covan's dance studio in Los Angeles, accompanying the likes of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Shirley Temple on the piano.

In 1941, she met her husband Harlem Globetrotter basketball player Shug Morrison who died of pneumonia a year later at the age of 21. She frequented the blues clubs on Central Avenue and met Billie Holiday in a bathroom when Holiday opened the door of Ms. Brooks' stall and offered her a hit on her marijuana cigarette. The two became fast friends. One day when Ms. Brooks was shopping at a downtown music store, fiddling with the store's piano, she so impressed jukebox repairman Jules Bihari that he offered to record her.


She made her first record, "Swingin' the Boogie," in 1945, and it was a hit. Bihari started a label, Modern Records, and Ms. Brooks became his first artist. Encouraged by orchestra leader Charlie Barnet, Ms. Brooks practiced singing "You Won't Let Me Go," and the song became her first vocal recording in 1947. A torch singer was born. On the recommendation of Benny Goodman, Ms.

Brooks turned her attention to film, beating out Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn for a role singing to Humphrey Bogart in "In a Lonely Place."

Throughout her life she appeared on the big screen, most recently in "The Thirteenth Floor" in 1999 and "John John in the Sky" in 2000. Other highlights of her life included singing at Hawaii's official statehood ceremony in 1959 and being asked for a private audience with Pope Pius XII. Ms. Brooks finally conceded to rock-'n'-roll and retired in 1971. Sixteen years later, after being profiled in the book "Whatever Became of . . .?", Ms. Brooks came out of retirement and played a new club in Los Angeles and that led to long runs at the Bel-Air Hotel and San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel. And she was asked to record again.

In 1993, Ms. Brooks was presented with the Prestigious Pioneer Award by Bonnie Raitt on behalf of the Smithsonian-based Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

Ms. Brooks once called San Francisco "a city that's always been good to me" and spent several of her last birthdays performing here.

Hadda Brooks died November 21, 2002 at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, following open-heart surgery at age 86.

Called an "American Treasure" by Bonnie Raitt, Ms. Brooks was an enchanting and sultry torch singer, an original "Jazz Diva", that will be sadly missed by her many admirers worldwide. (info mainly from San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Nov 2002)

Monday, 28 October 2013

Curtis Lee born 28 October 1941

Curtis Lee (born October 28, 1941, Yuma, Arizona, U.S.) is an American singer of the early 1960s, who twice over was one of the beneficiaries of 1961 productions by Phil Spector. These were "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" (U.S. #7) and "Under the Moon of Love" (U.S. #46).

Lee occupies the era of rock & roll in between the death of Buddy Holly and the arrival of the Beatles -- a period usually thought of as "lost years," because, apart from the Beach Boys, few of the artists involved lingered long on the charts or left an obvious legacy into the next era. Neither did Lee, but two of his songs, "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" and "Under the Moon of Love," evoke vivid associations with that innocent, romantic era.

Lee hailed from Arizona, and cut three songs for small labels while he was still in his teens. He was heard by Ray Peterson ("Tell Laura I Love Her"), who'd just started a label of his own, Dunes, and invited to cut a demo if he came to New York. By the time he made it to New York in late 1960, he'd started writing songs in partnership with a friend, Tommy Boyce, who later became one-half of the Boyce & Hart songwriting-producing-singing duo.

Lee's first two singles, "Special Love" and "Pledge of Love," were passionate but otherwise unexceptional performances that understandably failed to chart, but for his third record, Dunes agreed to cut a Lee-Boyce original called "Pretty Little Angel Eyes." Phil Spector, who had previously produced a hit for Peterson ("Corinna, Corinna"), ran the session, and laid the orchestra and, especially, the chorus on very heavily, the latter deliberately working in a late-'50s doo wop style from an R&B vocal group, The Halos. The resulting record made the Top Ten, and became Lee's biggest hit. In the UK, "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" was a minor hit record, peaking at #47 in 1961.


Lee and Boyce next turned in the jaunty "Under the Moon of Love," which used less of a doo wop style, in favor of a thick sax sound and a soaring girl chorus, and made the charts in late 1961. Unfortunately, this was to be Lee's last recording success. Lee never charted another record, and he left the music business. "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" is a fixture on oldies stations, however, with its distinctive sound, and both it and "Under the Moon of Love" are considered prime representatives of Phil Spector's early sound.

Without Spector's guiding hand, Lee's hits dried up. He went into the construction industry with his father in 1969 and built a successful career as a real estate developer. (Info edited from All Music Guide & Wikipedia)  P.S. Sorry about the scant photographs as I could only find one on the internet.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Floyd Cramer born 27 October 1933

Floyd Cramer (October 27, 1933 – December 31, 1997) was an American Hall of Fame pianist who was one of the architects of the "Nashville Sound." He was known for his "slip note" piano style, where an out-of-key note slides into the correct note.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Cramer grew up in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas, teaching himself to play the piano. After finishing high school, he returned to Shreveport, where he worked as a pianist for the Louisiana Hayride radio show.

In 1953, he cut his first single, "Dancin' Diane", backed with "Little Brown Jug", for the local Abbott label. He then toured with an emerging talent who would later figure significantly in his career, Elvis Presley.

Cramer moved to Nashville in 1955 where the use of piano accompanists in country music was growing in popularity. By the next year he was, in his words, "in day and night doing sessions.” Before long, he was one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, playing piano for stars such as Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, The Browns, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, and the Everly Brothers, among others. It was Cramer's piano playing, for instance, on Presley's first national hit, "Heartbreak Hotel". However, Cramer remained strictly a session player, a virtual unknown to anyone outside the music industry.

Cramer had released records under his own name since the early 1950s, and became well known following the release of "Last Date", a 45 rpm single, in 1960. The instrumental piece exhibited a relatively new concept for piano playing known as the "slip note" style. The record went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. This particular track is also used as the closing theme for renowned Australian radio broadcaster Ray Hadley on his number one syndicated show in Sydney on radio station 2GB. Interestingly, the song was kept out of the No. 1 position by Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight".

What most people didn't realize was that they had heard him long before "Last Date", on million sellers as diverse as "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley, "The Three Bells" by The Browns and "I'm Sorry" by Brenda Lee. Floyd played on Elvis' first RCA session on January 10-11, 1956, but the next time Presley (with whom he had toured in 1955) required his services would not be until June, 1958 ("I Need Your Love Tonight", "A Big Hunk o' Love", "I Got Stung", "A Fool Such As I", "Ain't That Loving You Baby"), Elvis' last session before he left for Germany. However, after Presley's return from the US Army, Floyd would become his regular session pianist.


In 1961 Cramer had a hit with "On the Rebound," which went to No. 4;, and No. 1 in the UK chart. ("On the Rebound" was later featured during the opening credits of the 2009 Oscar-nominated film An Education, which was set in England in 1961). That same year Cramer also had a hit with "San Antonio Rose" (number eight).

By the mid-1960s, Cramer had become a respected performer, making numerous albums and touring with guitar maestro Chet Atkins and saxophonist Boots Randolph; he also performed with them as a member of the Million Dollar Band. Apart from backing many RCA artists (Jim Reeves, Don Gibson, Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, Hank Locklin, Janis Martin, etc.), Floyd also played on the Nashville sessions of many others: The Everly Brothers, Brenda Lee, Conway Twitty, Marvin Rainwater, Marty Robbins, many Hickoryartists, well, the list is endless. Like the other members of Nashville's A-team (Hank Garland, Grady Martin, Bob Moore, Boots Randolph, Buddy Harmon, etc.) he knew what to play and what not to play. He could rock as hard as Jerry Lee Lewis if he wanted to (listen to Jimmy Newman's "Carry On" on Dot, for instance), but just as easily could he add almost inaudible embellishments to Jim Reeves' "Four Walls". And if he felt that the arrangement didn't need a piano, he wouldn't play the instrument at all, as on "Big Bad John" by Jimmy Dean, where he hung an iron door-stopper onto a coat hanger and hit it with a hammer to get the now-famous sound effect. With Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer was Nashville's most  prolific musician. Starting in 1959, he has made over 50 albums for RCA Records, virtually all of them produced by Atkins.

Over the years, Cramer continued to balance session work with his own albums. Many of these featured standards or popular hits of the era and from 1965 to 1974 he annually recorded a disc of the year's biggest hits prefaced "Class of . . ." Other long-players included I Remember Hank Williams (1962), Floyd Cramer Plays the Monkees (1967), Sounds of Sunday (1971) and Looking For Mr Goodbar (1978). In 1977 Floyd Cramer and the Keyboard Kick Band was released, on which he played eight different keyboard instruments.

Floyd Cramer died six months after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997 at the age of 64 and was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Tennessee. In 2003 Floyd Cramer was inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2008 Cramer was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, offers the Floyd Cramer Competitive Scholarship.
(info Dik de Heer @ & Wikipedia edit)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Charlie Barnet born 26 October 1913

Charles Daly Barnet (October 26, 1913 – September 4, 1991) was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. His major recordings were "Skyliner", "Cherokee", "The Wrong Idea", "Scotch and Soda", "In a Mizz", and "Southland Shuffle".

Charlie Barnet was born in New York City. His parents divorced when he was two, and he was raised by his mother and her grandparents. His grandfather was Charles Frederick Daly, a vice-president for the New York Central Railroad, banker, and businessman.

Barnet attended various boarding schools, both in the New York and Chicago areas. He learned to play piano and saxophone as a child. He often left school to listen to music and to try to gain work as a musician.

Although he began his recording career in October 1933, Charlie Barnet was at the height of his popularity between 1939 and 1941, a period that began with his hit version of "Cherokee", written by Ray Noble and arranged by Billy May. In 1944, Barnet had another big hit with "Skyliner".

In 1947, he started to switch from swing music to bebop. During his swing period his band included Buddy DeFranco, Roy Eldridge, Neal Hefti, Lena Horne, Barney Kessel, Dodo Marmorosa, Oscar Pettiford, and Art House, while later versions of the band included Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, and Clark Terry. Trumpeter Billy May was an arranger in the Charlie Barnet Orchestra before joining Glenn Miller in 1940.

He was one of the first bandleaders to integrate his band; the year is variously given as 1935 or 1937. He was also a champion of racial equality, hiring many black singers and musicians at a time when other bands were segregated. His use of African-American performers kept his orchestra out of several hotels and ballrooms and was also probably the reason why he was never picked for any big commercial radio series.

He was an outspoken admirer of Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Ellington recorded the Charlie Barnet composition "In a Mizz". In
1939, Basie lent Barnet his charts after Barnet's had been destroyed in a fire at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. Throughout his career he was an opponent of syrupy arrangements. In the song "The Wrong Idea", he lampooned the "sweet" Big Band sound of the era. Barnet's was a notorious party band where drinking and vandalism were not uncommon. While Glenn Miller enforced strict standards of dress and deportment, Barnet was more interested in having fun, according to his autobiography The Swinging Years.

In 1949 he retired, apparently because he had lost interest in music. He settled on the West Coast, occasionally leading a sextet or septet. Financially set, he never worried about making a living, dabbling in music publishing and the restaurant business in his retirement.  He occasionally returned from retirement for brief tours but never returned to music full-time.

In September 1964, Barnet arranged a private party for his musical hero, Duke Ellington and orchestra to play at Palm Springs' San Jacinto country club. At the door, a small sign painted by Barnet said: "Any complaints about loud music or requests for excessive use of mutes will be grounds for instant expulsion (to a table in the parking lot). Any requests for folk music, twist, watusi, or rock and roll will result in instant execution by golf balls at 20 paces." Barnet did not play at the gathering.

Barnet was married eleven times and in his 1984 autobiography says, "I went through several more marital fiascos, but they were mostly Mexican marriages and quickly annulled, because they weren't legal in the first place." His final marriage to Betty was for 33 years. He had one son, Charles D. Barnet, Jr, from an earlier marriage. During retirement, Barnet resided at homes in Palm Springs and San Diego, California. He kept a 46-foot boat in San Diego.

Barnet died from complications of Alzheimer's disease and pneumonia at San Diego's Hillside hospital, September 4, 1991. (info mainly Wikipedia)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Eddie Lang born 25 October 1902

Eddie Lang (October 25, 1902 – March 26, 1933) was an American jazz guitarist, considered by many to be the finest of his era, and to be the greatest rhythm player of all time. He played a Gibson L-4 and L-5 guitar, providing great influence for many guitarists, including Django Reinhardt.

Lang was born Salvatore Massaro, the son of an Italian-American instrument maker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied violin for 11 years, but switched to the guitar. He loved classical music, Italian folk songs, and this thing called jazz. He worked during his James Campbell High School Orchestra days on various local club dates and later legendary recordings with his boyhood (and neighborhood) buddy, jazz great, Joe Venuti, who many credit today with virtually creating the jazz violin. Lang was playing professionally by about 1918, playing violin, banjo, and guitar. He worked with various bands in the USA's north-east, worked in London (late 1924 to early 1925), then settled in New York City.

Venuti said, they were playing in the Knickerbocker Hotel in Atlantic City in 1923 where "we used to play a lot of mazurkas and polkas, but just for fun, started to play them in 4/4 rhythm. Then, we’d start to slip in some improvised passages...we'd just sit there and knock each other out." They wrote a whole new chapter in jazz history.



Lang led and/or co-led with Venuti some 20 sessions on various labels. under names such as Joe Venuti's Blue Four that became the standard of small group jazz. He played with the bands of Venuti, Adrian Rollini, Roger Wolfe Kahn and Jean Goldkette in addition to doing a large amount of freelance radio and recording work. Leonard Feather wrote in The Encyclopedia of Jazz that they, "achieved a unique style, a tonal finesse and jazz chamber-music quality hitherto unknown in jazz." Eddie, a superb ensemble player, could hold a session together and yet take stunning solos that made jazz history. He worked with pop, swing, blues and straight jazz groups. He was scooped up along with Bix Beiderbecke and Venuti by Paul Whiteman, who never really claimed to be a jazz great, but who clearly knew who was, and can be seen and heard in the movie The King of Jazz.

Lang was also much sought after by pop singers of the day such as Russ Columbo, Cliff Edwards , Ruth Etting and many others because, as one critic noted, he made them sound better. He also worked with blues icons Bessie Smith and Victoria Spivey under his pseudonym of Blind Willie Dunn.

Bing Crosby, one of the few white singers who sang great jazz vocals loved Lang's playing so much he brought him to Hollywood to work with him in films. They appeared together in the film The
Big Broadcast in 1932. It was reportedly Crosby who suggested to Lang that he get an operation for his laryngitis. The poorly performed operation causing the loss of too much blood killed Lang. It left Crosby, and many in the jazz world devastated at his early demise.

Lang's pupil, Marty Grosz, said, "Lang was the first, he had to think the whole thing out for himself." Barney Kessel, said , "Eddie,first elevated the jazz guitar and made it artistic." Crosby reportedly searched vainly for another comparable accompanist but that there were none. As one writer noted, "There was only one Eddie Lang."
(info mainly from

 In this precious fragment, jazz guitar pioneer Eddie Lang and partner Joe Venuti chase out a 'Wild Cat'.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Johnny Carroll born 23 October 1937

Johnny Carroll (23 October 1937 – 13 January 1995) was one of the wildest 1950s rockabilly stars. Hailing from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, he made a string of great singles in the '50s for Decca, Phillips International (a Sun Records label) and several Texas labels.

John Lewis Carroll was born on October 23, 1937 in Cleburne, Texas. He was raised with Country music and at 9 years old bought himself his first guitar. When he was 10 his mother had taught him enough to appear on radio station KCLE in Cleburne on Saturday mornings. During his second year in high school at the age of 15 Johnny formed his first band The Moonlighters. They had their own Saturday morning show on radio station KCLE in Cleburne.

In 1955 Johnny, together with his high school friends Bill Hennen (piano) and Billy Bunton (bass), won first prize in a talent contest. Jay Salem, a guitar player from Burleson, Texas, won second prize at the same contest. Johnny asked him if he would like to join the band to which he agreed. It wasn't too long before they were opening the show for Ferlin Husky at Fort Worth's Northside Colosseum. Their appearance did impress Jack "Tiger" Goldman, the owner of The Top Ten Recording Studio in Dallas, Texas. He became their first manager and the band cut several demos in his studio.

Jack Goldman arranged a deal with Decca in Nashville, were eagerly looking for a reply to RCA's Elvis Presley. Decca was only interested to sign Johnny Carroll to a recording contract, not his band. That's why musicians such as Grady Martin - guitar, Owen Bradley - piano and Harold Bradley – rhythm guitar, appear on his Decca recordings of which "Rock 'n' Roll Ruby" became the biggest seller. To promote his protege Tiger persuaded Sonny Freidman to shoot a quickie rock & roll movie "Rock Baby Rock It" in Dallas in 1957.

Decca dropped their contract with Johnny but fortunately he landed a contract with Sun records. Four songs were recorded of which Sam Phillips released "That's The Way I Love" b/w "l'll Wait" on his new founded Phillips Int. label. In 1958 Johnny got himself a new manager, Ed Mc Lemore. It was at the same time that Gene Vincent settled in Dallas and he too was signed with the McLemore agency. It was the start of a close friendship between the two singers. They both used some of the same musicians such as Howard Reed, Bill Hennen, Royce McAffe and Grady Owen. This group was collectively known as The Spinners, and they backed Johnny on some sides he cut at Seller's Recording Studio, Dallas, Texas.

Johnny Carroll, now tired of the hard life on the road retired in 1959 but made a sort of come back in 1960 with two songs, Trudy" b/w "Run Come See”. This record saw the end of Johnny's recording career until the 1970's. Johnny then made a living as a fixer for Brian Sellers hiring and arranging bands for Sellers string of clubs.

In 1977 Carroll came to the famous "Rollin' Rock" studios in Van Nuys, California to record the album Texabilly. It was a marathon 27 hour recording session over two days. including some unrleased gems.

On January 13, 1995, Carroll passed away due to liver failure, but his classic early recordings were honored a year later in the form of the 33-track compilation Rock Baby Rock It: 1955-1960 (info AMG & rockabilly

Monday, 21 October 2013

Celia Cruz born 21 October 1924

Celia Cruz (born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, 21 October 1929 - 16 July 2003) was a Havana, Cuba born salsa  singer, and was one of the most successful Salsa performers of the 20th century, with twenty-three gold albums to her name. She was renowned internationally as the "Queen of Salsa" as well as "La Guarachera de Cuba". She spent most of her career living in New Jersey, and working in the United States and several Latin American countries.

Born one of 14 Children in the small village of Barrio Santra Suarez, Havana, Cruz was drawn to music at an early age. She would sing for tourist and also sing for her younger brothers and sisters. Cruz sang at many school productions and many neighborhood gatherings. Taken to cabarets and nightclubs by an aunt, she was introduced to the world of music. With the encouragement of a cousin, Cruz began to enter and win many local talent shows. Although her father wanted her to become a teacher, the music kept calling to her.

Her first break came in 1950 when she joined the band La Sonora Matancera. Cruz remained with the group for 15 years, touring throughout the world. She married the band's trumpet player Pedro Knight on July 14, 1962. With Fidel Castro taking control of Cuba in 1960, Cruz and Knight refused to return to Cuba and became citizens of the United States and settled in New York. Knight became Cruz's Manager in 1965, a position he held till the mid 1990s when he began to devote his attention to serving as her musical director and conductor of her band.

Here is "Rock and Roll" from above LP. Recorded in 1956

Leaving La Sonora Matancera band in 1965, Cruz went on to pursue her solo career with a band formed for her by Tito Puente. Although she released eight albums, the collaboration failed to achieve commercial success. Cruz and Puente resumed their partnership with a special appearance at the Grammy award ceremonies in 1987. Signed by Vaya the sister label of Fania, Cruz recorded with Oscar D'Leon, Cheo Feliciano and Hector Rodriguez in the mid 1960s. Cruz's first success after leaving La Sonora Matancera was in 1974 when she recorded a duo record with Johnny Pacheco which was called simply "Celia and Johnny." In 1992 she made her movie debut in "Mambo Kings." She also appeared in The Perez Family and she sang a duet version of "Loco De Amor" in the movie "Something Wild" in 1998.

Celia Cruz reinvented herself at every opportunity, always gaining new and younger fans. She understood the power of music beyond the traditional Cuban rhythms she started performing in the 1940's. By the end of the 1990's she was doing hip-hop, and one of her greatest hits "La negra tiene tumbao" became an anthem to new generations. She also recorded a rendition of Gloria Gaynors "I will survive".  

Celia was honoured many times during her long career. She earned five Grammy Awards, many Gold Records and countless other honours and Lifetime Achievement Awards. She received three honorary doctorates, from Yale, Florida & Miami Universities. She was a White House guest of five presidents.

In early 2003, she had surgery to correct knee problems that she had for a few years, and she intended to continue working indefinitely. Celia died on July 16, 2003, in New Jersey, at the age of 74, after battling brain cancer for several months. She was survived by her husband Pedro Knight, who died February 3, 2007. After her death in New Jersey, her body was taken to Miami for cremation. More than 200,000 of her South Florida fans paid their final respects. Her body was returned to New Jersey where tens of thousands of fans paid tribute to her at the funeral home. A memorial service was held for her in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York.
Celia Cobo of Billboard Magazine once said "Cruz is indisputably the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music." (Info edited from many sources)