Sunday, 31 August 2014

Jerry Allison born 31 August 1939

Jerry Allison (born Jerry Ivan Allison, August 31, 1939, in Hillsboro, Texas) is an American musician, best known for being the drummer for The Crickets. 
In their early days at the Lubbock Youth Center, Buddy Holly's vocal and guitar were backed only by Allison's drumming, allowing for some of Holly's best guitar work. Over time, Allison's rhythm backup ranged from slapping hands-on-knees or hand-clapping the beat to a modal plainness of cymbal drumming. His snappy cracks at the snare drum gave power to the tough, vengeful songs released under the name The Crickets. Later songs, released under Buddy Holly's own name, were softer in tone and filled with innocence and longing. On these, Allison played only tom-toms in keeping with the vulnerable sound of the vocals. His work on The Crickets recordings gave the records much of their distinctiveness and has influenced subsequent generations of Rock and roll drummers.  
Norman Petty, the manager, often manipulated song-writing credits and Allison, although credited with another recording to which he contributed little, helped to compose the music for some of the famous songs, notably "That'll Be The Day" and "Peggy Sue" (Allison later married Peggy Sue Gerron, the namesake of the latter song). "That'll Be The Day" was originally recorded by Holly before he started working with Petty, so the latter's appearance on the song writing credits for the later version by The Crickets illustrates the point about manipulation of the credits. Allison has referred in several published interviews to his role in composing "Not Fade Away", whose credits show Norman Petty/Charles Hardin - the latter a pseudonym for Buddy Holly.  
Although Allison did not sing on The Crickets records made with Buddy Holly, in 1958 he did release the single "Real Wild Child" — having heard Johnny O'Keefe play the original during The Crickets brief visit to Australia that year — which he recorded under the pseudonym Ivan, with Buddy Holly on guitar and backing vocals. It was a minor chart entry in 1958 and the first studio recording of the song that would become a rock standard. Allison also sang on a few later releases by the Crickets, both singles and album tracks. 
Allison also worked as a session musician. For example, he played on the studio recording of The Everly Brothers' "Till I Kissed You" in 1959.   
After Holly's death in 1959. Allison continued his musical career. He retained control of the band's name, and has toured and recorded with a regularly-changing group as The Crickets - see the reference "been more Crickets than a dog's got fleas" in the band's "Three Piece" track from the 1980s. The most consistent members of this band have been bassist Joe B. Mauldin who was in Buddy Holly's Crickets, and guitarist-singer Sonny Curtis who played with Holly before The Crickets were formed in 1957, and rejoined shortly after Holly's death. Others who have been in and out of the band include Glen D. Hardin, also associated with Elvis Presley's last live band; Albert Lee, also once part of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band; and assorted lead vocalists including Earl Sinks, David Box, Jerry Naylor, and Gordon Payne.
The Crickets line up from 1962. left to right: Sony Curtis, Jerry Allison, Jerry Naylor & Glen D. Hardin. 
The band's last recordings for the Coral label included several singles which were incorporated in the 1960 album In Style with The Crickets. The rock classic "I Fought the Law" written by Sonny Curtis, first appeared here, and tracks from singles released after Holly's death included their version of Holly's "Love's Made a Fool of You", a chart entry for them in the UK in late 1959, and the Allison/Curtis composition "More Than I Can Say" which was later recorded by Leo Sayer and other artists.
Allison switched the band's contract to Liberty Records in 1960, after they had supported The Everly Brothers on a UK tour. He moved his base to Los Angeles, where an old Texas friend Snuff
Garrett was installed as a senior producer at Liberty. Allison, with Sonny Curtis and another former Holly sideman, Tommy Allsup, became effectively members of the core the Liberty house band, working with Bobby Vee, Johnny Burnette and others. In this period they also played as backing musicians on tracks by Eddie Cochran and, according to some reports, Conway Twitty. Both Allison and Sonny Curtis were drafted at different times in this period, limiting any possibility of continuity in the make-up of The Crickets. Sonny Curtis also began to establish a significant solo career as a songwriter and singer/guitarist. 
In the late 1970s, the band toured for a period with Waylon Jennings, another one-time Buddy Holly sideman. In more recent years, The Crickets have put out albums including collaborations with many artists who recognise their influence in early rock 'n' roll. These include Nanci Griffith, with whom they have also toured, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Johnny Rivers, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Vee and many others.  
In 2007, Allison was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, TN as a member of the Crickets.  
In 2012, Allison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Crickets by a special committee, aimed at correcting the mistake of not including the Crickets with Buddy Holly when he was first inducted in 1986.  (Info edited from Wikipedia) 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Glenn Osser born 28 August 1914

Abe (Glenn) Osser (August 28, 1914 – April 29, 2014) was an American musician, musical arranger, orchestra leader, and songwriter. His birth name was Abraham (Abe), but much of his work was under the name Glenn; he can be found with references under both names. He also worked under a number of other names: Arthur Meisel, Bob Marvel, Maurice Pierre, and others. 

He was born Abraham Osser in Munising, Michigan, the child of Russian-Jewish immigrants. He studied piano, violin, saxophone and clarinet in high school and went on to study music at the University of Michigan, beginning in music education and switching to music theory. After graduating in 1935 he worked with a college dance band and, on advice from the band leader, moved to New York City, where he met music publisher Charles Warren, who became Osser's mentor. With introductions from Warren, Osser began arranging for Bob Crosby, Vincent Lopez, Al Donahue, Charlie Barnet, Bunny Berigan, and Ben Bernie. (Photo of Glenn with Slam Stewart & Bob Haggart) 

He also began some radio work, hired by NBC to be a staff arranger with a young conductor, Al Roth. He also played sax and clarinet in some orchestras, including Les Brown's Band of Renown, where he became a close friend of Brown's. He also got to work with Benny Goodman on his radio program, and (although he was not officially credited) wrote the arrangement of Martha Tilton's recording of "And the Angels Sing" with the Goodman orchestra. 

During World War II Osser served in the U.S. Maritime Service, stationed on Hoffman Island in New York harbor. After his discharge in 1944 he began to arrange for the Paul Whiteman orchestra. (According to one source, it was Whiteman who, disliking the name "Abe Osser," suggested the name "Glenn." Another source credits the name change to Bud Barry, director of programming at ABC.) Osser rehearsed and conducted Whiteman's orchestra on the NBC Blue Network, which became the ABC Network, and when Whiteman went on ABC television, Osser joined him. Whiteman became music director at ABC and put Osser on as staff, where he served from 1947 to 1969, when staff orchestras were eliminated. During his time at ABC, Osser was the orchestra director for Theater-Five (1964-5), ABC's attempt at reviving theatrical radio.


Osser became an arranger/conductor, first for Mercury Records, where he backed such vocalists as Georgia Gibbs, Vic Damone, Jack Jones, Frankie Laine, John Raitt, Maurice Chevalier and Guy Mitchell. Osser was also recording his own instrumental albums, notably some with Bobby Hackett and Joe Bushkin. Further albums found Osser backing Johnny Mathis, Jerry Vale, Tony Bennett, Robert Goulet and Leslie Uggams. Leaving US Columbia Records and moving to RCA Records, Osser worked with Della Reese and Sam Cooke.
On television he was musical director for the 1949 series Blind Date (also titled Your Big Moment), conductor for the 1953 series The Vaudeville Show, and orchestrator and conductor for the 1957 production of Pinocchio. In 1959 he was the Orchestra leader for the series Music for a Summer Night, which was repeated the following year as Music for a Spring Night. Osser was the conductor and provided the arrangements for the 1963 Sergio Franchi RCA Victor Red Seal album, "Broadway, I Love You!."


Until 1987 he was Music Director and arranger for the Miss America Beauty Pageant on television, with Osser and his wife contributing various original songs including ‘Miss America, You’re Beautiful’ and ‘Look At Her’. He has also written many works for concert bands that are still regularly performed by many high school and college bands in the USA. 

He wrote a number of songs, usually with his wife, Edna contributing the lyrics. Osser died at the age of 99, in Harrison, New York. on April 29, 2014. (Info from Wikipedia)
Here's "Beguine for Band" by Glenn Osser,  performed by the Heart of Texas Concert Band for the Fiesta - Side by Side concert
Mike Olson conducting.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Jerry Rivers born 25 August 1928

Jerry Rivers (August 25, 1928 – October 4, 1996) was an American fiddle player. 
Jerry Rivers was born in Miami, Florida. He played fiddle with the Drifting Cowboys, a band who will be forever associated with their "frontman", the legendary Hank Williams.  
Raised in Nashville, in a house that would later serve as an office for Atlantic Records, Jerry Rivers took up the fiddle as a teenager and was, by the mid-1940s, playing it semi- professionally whilst working during the day as a salesman for an electronic components company. He turned professional, briefly toured with the Short Brothers and then found himself back in Nashville working with Big Jeff Bess, husband of Hattie Louise "Tootsie" Bess, owner of the famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Music City's Lower Broadway. (Photo above right : Cedric Rainwater, Hank, Don Helms,  Jerry Rivers & Sammy Pruitt)
It was whilst working with Bess that Rivers was first approached by Williams. Although Hank had performed with groups from the mid-1930s on, it was only following his successful early appearances on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949 that he began to see the merits of a permanent backing band. (Photo left:
Jerry Rivers, Cedric Rainwater, Hank Williams, Don Helms, Sammy Pruitt)
Rivers cut his first discs with Williams on 9 January 1950, in a session that produced classics like "Long Gone Lonesome Blues", "Why Don't You Love Me?", and "My Son Calls Another Man Daddy". Nicknamed "Burrhead" because of his haircuts, he performed on every major Williams session that followed. Fast becoming one of his best hunting and fishing buddies, Rivers and Williams struck up a friendship, Williams even naming Rivers his personal manager while in the state of Texas.
In 1952, tired of Williams' constant drinking and unreliability, the Drifting Cowboys started backing other big-name artists such as Faron Young and Ray Price. They still played an occasional show with Williams, when he was sober enough, but the closeness of previous years was not renewed.
On New Year's Day, 1953, Rivers was actually scheduled to play in the Canton, Ohio show with Price, while his friend, Helms, was to play with Williams. The weather was so bad, however, that Rivers was forced to turn back when he reached Louisville, Kentucky. He never made it to the show. Neither did Hank Williams. (Above photo: Jerry & Don at right hand side)
Following Williams' death in the early hours of New Year's Day 1953, Rivers and the other Drifting Cowboys had few problems finding work, making valuable contributions to the music of Ray Price and Ferlin Husky, Marty Robbins and, eventually, Hank Williams Jr.
                   Here's "Joys Of Quebec" from above album.
In the early 1960s, Rivers cut a now rare solo album for Starday, Fantastic Fiddlin' and Tall Tales which is now available on compact disc as "Stories and Great Fiddle Music As Played by Jerry Rivers  on which he both explains and demonstrates the evolution of various country fiddle styles, and in 1964 his biography of Williams, From Life To Legend, was published (revised edition 1980).
In 1976, the Drifting Cowboys reformed for a series of radio shows with the country comic Whitey Ford and enjoyed renewed popularity, especially on the Opry stage and in Britain where they performed at the Wembley Festival. Together, they cut a series of albums before largely retiring to enjoy their status as Nashville icons.
In the 1990s, Rivers and Don Helms toured with Jett Williams, Hank Williams' daughter by Bobbie Jett. He also worked as an agent and talent scout for the powerhouse Buddy Lee Attractions.
Rivers was, with steel guitarist Don Helms, bassist Hillous Butram and guitarist Bob McNett part of a quartet whose work with Williams has given them a special place in the affections of country music fans. That they largely stuck with the most troubled and behaviorally erratic figure in the genre's history is a tribute not only to their patience but also to the loyalty they felt towards the man they knew as "Bones".
Rivers died on October 4, 1996, of cancer. (Info edited from Wikipedia)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Alyn Ainsworth born 24 August 1924

Alyn Ainsworth (b.Bolton, Lancashire, on 24 August 1924 - d. London 4 October 1990, age 66) was a highly respected musical director and arranger for records, television and the West End stage. 

He was educated at Canon Slade Grammar School on a scholarship but never completed his education there because at the age of 14 his talent as a singer was recognised by Herman Darewski who signed him up to tour with his dance band. When his voice broke
he learnt to play the guitar and played in local dance bands whilst working as hat salesman then for Bolton Parks Department and later as a golf pro. He then joined Oscar Rabin's orchestra where he both played with the band and did musical arrangements, they also broadcast on the radio. He also worked with Geraldo but turned down an offer from Val Parnell to conduct the London Palladium Orchestra and chose in 1951 to join the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra, the BBC's then in-house big band, as its arranger-conductor.
Ainsworth achieved a huge degree of success with the BBC NDO whose reputation as one of the top bands in the UK was in no small amount due to his hard work and high standards. In 1956 he announced during Sunday Night at the London Palladium his engagement to Teddie Beverley of the Beverley Sisters. They could not marry immediately and in 1957 he announced that the engagement was cancelled. 

He resigned from the BBC in 1960 and went freelance. He was signed up by Granada TV to replace Peter Knight as presenter of Spot the Tune",  He also worked with many visiting Americans, including Johnny Mathis, Neil Sedaka, and Barry Manilow. Ainsworth also collaborated with the Beverley Sisters on their recording of ‘Triplets’. His own records included a rare excursion into rock ‘n’ roll with ‘18th Century Rock’, credited to ‘Alyn Ainsworth with The Rock-A-Fellas’, and the more typically smooth Themes And Dreams and True Love.  

Couldn't find "18th Century Rock" but I did find the flip side entitled "Hells Bells" from 1959.
 Also came across this 1962 recording of "Diamonds Are a Girl's best Friend" on the wonderful Lord of The Boot Sale blog.
In 1965 he conducted the orchestra at the Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium for the third time. He conducted in the Eurovision Song Contest five times, 1975, 1976, 1977 for Belgium, 1978 and 1990. He was the musical director for the BBC's anniversary programme Fifty Years Of Music broadcast in 1972. In 1978 He provided the music for the LWT show Lena and Bonnie and in 1979 Alyn Ainsworth and His Orchestra provided the music for the BBC show Lena Zavaroni and Music along with Alan Roper He provided the Musical Arrangements for the show.
The ultimate professional, Ainsworth would often conduct the first house of one West End show, and the second house of another, after rehearsing for television during the day. He was capable of producing his best work under extreme pressure, while also motivating others, and was the man on whom producers could rely for the big occasion. (Info edited from Wikipedia & AllMusic). 
Here's a clip of Alyn Ainsworth and the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra in 1959, presenting a 'Make Way For Music' show from the Playhouse, Manchester. The announcer is Roger Moffat. The scene is intercut with footage of the BBC at lunchtime, including Judith Chalmers & David Coleman.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Malvina Reynolds born 23 August 1900

Malvina Reynolds (August 23, 1900 – March 17, 1978) was an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, best known for her song writing, particularly the song, "Little Boxes." 
Malvina Milder was born in San Francisco to David and Abagail Milder, Jewish and socialist immigrants, who opposed involvement in World War I. 
She married William ("Bud") Reynolds, a carpenter and labour organizer, in 1934. They had one child, Nancy Reynolds Schimmel (a songwriter and performer in her own right), in 1935. She had earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and later earned a doctorate there, finishing her dissertation in 1938. She could not find a job teaching at the college level. She became a social worker and a columnist for the People's World and, when World War II started, an assembly-line worker at a bomb factory. When her father died, she and her husband took over her parents' naval tailor shop in Long Beach, California.  
Though she played violin in a dance band in her twenties, she began her song writing career late in life. She was in her late 40s when she met Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger, and other folk singers and songwriters. She returned to Berkeley, and to the University, where she took music theory classes in the early fifties.
She went on to write several popular songs, including "Little Boxes," "What Have They Done to the Rain," recorded by The Searchers and Joan Baez (about nuclear fallout), "It Isn't Nice" (a civil rights anthem), "Turn Around" (about children growing up, later sung by Harry Belafonte), and "There's a Bottom Below" (about depression). Reynolds was also a noted composer of children's songs, including "Magic Penny" and "Morningtown Ride," a top five UK single (December 66) recorded by The Seekers. She wrote songs for Women for Peace, the Nestle Boycott, the sit-ins in San Francisco on auto row and at the Sheraton-Palace, the fight against putting a freeway through Golden Gate Park and other causes. 
Here’s “The Albatross” released 1969. Accompanying Malvina is Bill Lee on bass and  Eric Weissberg on Lead Guitar.

Four collections of her music are available on compact disc. The Smithsonian Folkways label released Another County Heard From (Folkways 02524) and Ear to the Ground (Smithsonian Folkways 40124), and the Omni Recording Corporation in Australia issued Malvina Reynolds (Omni 112) and "Malvina Reynolds Sings the Truth" (Omni 114). 
She toured Scandinavia, England and Japan. A film biography, Love It Like a Fool, was made a few years before she died in 1978. Reynolds' most famous song, "Little Boxes" (made famous by Pete Seeger), has enjoyed renewed popularity by being featured in Showtime's TV series Weeds.    
"Little Boxes" was inspired visually by the houses of Daly City, California. Nancy Reynolds Schimmel, daughter of Malvina Reynolds, explained:    
 "My mother and father were driving South from San Francisco through Daly City when my mom got the idea for the song. She asked my dad to take the wheel, and she wrote it on the way to the gathering in La Honda where she was going to sing for the Friends Committee on Legislation. When Time Magazine wanted a photo of her pointing to the very place, she couldn't find those houses because so many more had been built around them that the hillsides were totally covered."
In her later years, Malvina Reynolds contributed songs and material to PBS's Sesame Street, on which she made occasional appearances as a character called "Kate." (Info edited from Wikipedia & Sisterschoice)
Here's Malvina with Pete Seeger and Ramblin' Jack Elliot

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Savannah Churchill born 21 August 1919

Savannah Churchill (August 21, 1919*, Colfax, Louisiana – April 19, 1974, Brooklyn, New York) was a successful American singer of pop, jazz, and blues music in the 1940s and 1950s. (*some sources state 1920). 
 Savannah Valentine was born in August of 1920 in southern Louisiana. At a young age her family moved to Brooklyn, New York. During her formative years she was a prized member of her church choir. While still a teenager she married David Churchill and soon had children, and did not harbor any desire to pursue a career in music. That soon changed because of a personal tragedy when her husband was killed in an automobile accident. 
 Now faced with raising two young children, music seemed to be her salvation. In the early nineteen forties she became the featured vocalist with the orchestra of Benny Carter with whom she made her first recordings on the Capitol label,including her first hit "Hurry, Hurry". 

In 1945 she signed with Manor Records, and that year "Daddy Daddy" reached # 3 on the R&B chart. Two years later she had her only R&B # 1 with "I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You)", which topped the charts for eight weeks. The record was billed as being with vocal group The Sentimentalists, who soon renamed themselves The Four Tunes. Subsequent recordings with The Four Tunes, including "Time Out For Tears" (# 10 R&B, # 24 pop) and "I Want To Cry", both in 1948, were also successful. 
 Billed as "Sex-Sational", she performed to much acclaim, and appeared in the movies Miracle in Harlem (1948) and Souls of Sin (1949). She toured widely with backing vocal group The Striders, including a visit to the London Palladium in 1951 and Hawaii in 1954. From 1949 she recorded with Regal, RCA Victor and Decca Records. "Shake A Hand" was her last chart entry in the spring of 1953. In 1956 she was one of the first artists signed to the Argo label, set up as a subsidiary to Chess Records. Sadly her time in the limelight was coming to an end. The fickle market had moved on, sentimental ballads were going out of fashion and male vocal groups were busy establishing themselves as headline acts in their own right.
 Tragedy struck later in 1956 when a drunk in the audience at the Midwood Club, Brooklyn fell out of a balcony directly on top of her, breaking her pelvis and causing long-term debilitating injuries from which she would never fully recover. She was still able to record, and in 1961 managed a session for Jamie Records, for which she recorded her debut album "Time Out For Tears" featuring remakes of her 1940's hits and covers of other r&b numbers, but, although the voice was still intact, the arrangements were uninspired and lacked the sensuous nature of her best work.
Savannah smoked cigarettes for many years as did most people during her heyday and later she developed cancer of her esophogus, which permanently ended any possibilities of singing. The operations for treating the cancer meant she was in and out of the hospital many times over the years. However, later she fell down the stairs and broke her hip, which landed her back into the hopital where she developed pneumonia and died in 1974, at the age of 53.(Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & Audrey Churchill)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Norman Brooks born 19 August 1928

Norman Brooks (August 19, 1928 – September 14, 2006) was a Canadian singer, best known for his ability to sound like Al Jolson.

Singer, songwriter, pianist, actor, born Montreal of Lebanese parents, 19 Aug 1928, died there 14 Sep 2006. Possessing a voice naturally similar to that of Al Jolson, Brooks began his career in his late teens, singing in the Jolson style in Montreal nightclubs, often in duet with his sister Annie (who as Anne Brooks later sang in Canadian and US nightclubs).  

During his career he has returned frequently to Jolson routines, but he also has sung in a more personal style. By the early 1950s he had moved from clubs to theatres - eg, the Seville in Montreal and the Casino Theatre in Toronto. He made two 78s for Canadian Victor at this time.

In 1953 he went to New York where he appeared in nightclubs and recorded some sides for Zodiac, a label established expressly for Brooks. His records "Hello Sunshine" and "YouShouldn’t Have Kissed Me the First Time” were national hits in 1953. His song "A Sky-Blue Shirt and a Rainbow Tie" reached No. 17 in the UK Singles Chart in November 1954.

He was a popular nightclub and TV performer in the USA during the 1950s and 1960s. Billed as The Voice That Lives Again, Brooks was also the first Quebec-born entertainer to play Las Vegas, selling out the Copa Room at The Sands Hotel and Casino for 44 weeks in 1959 - 60.  He also performed frequently in Canadian nightclubs and on CBC TV, and was host for CTV's 'Musical Showcase' in 1966. He appeared in 1975 on Broadway in The Magic of Jolson and subsequently sang and played piano in New York nightclubs and continued to tour. He performed in 1979 at PDA.  

Brooks' other recordings include singles for Zodiac and for RCA's 'X' label, LPs of Jolson material for Spin-O-Rama, Coronet, Diplomat, and Sutton, and LPs of pop songs - some his own - for Verve, Sure, Promenade and Venus (see Kinkle's Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz for details). He sung under the name of Charlie Everett for the Viking Record label. Brooks played Jolson in the The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956) and had dramatic roles in The Block (1963) and Ocean's Eleven (1965). 

In the 1970s and 1980s, when the Jolson style of entertainment fell out of style, Brooks became another forgotten relic of a bygone era. Lung problems forced him to pretty much retire. A heavy smoker, Brooks was 78 when he died of emphysema at the Jean Talon Hospital on Sept. 14.

Not only was another voice of Jolson silenced then, but Norman Brooks was a great talent all his own... 

(Info edited mainly from the Canadian, & Wikipedia)