Saturday, 31 October 2015

Ethel Waters born 31 October 1896

Ethel Waters (October 31, 1896 – September 1, 1977) was an Oscar-nominated American blues vocalist and actress. She was the second African American to ever be nominated for an Academy Award.  

Ethel Waters was the first black innovator who opened all the theatrical doors hitherto closed to black performers of her day, to attain the towering position she reached as a headliner. She fought hard and long to achieve solo star status in the white world of vaudeville, night clubs, Broadway theater, radio, films and television.  

More than any other black performer of the century, Ethel Waters was a woman of the theatre, and the celebrity she attained in maturity as an actress tended at times to overshadow-at least in memory-the importance of her accomplishments and influence as a singer.  

Her talents defied categorical limits. She was the fountainhead of all that is finest and most distinctive in jazz and popular singing. Widely imitated during the 30's and 40's, one still hears echoes of Ethel Waters in many singers who came after her. Joe Turner, Bing Crosby, Ivie Anderson, Lee Wiley, Mildred Bailey, Connie Boswell, and Ella Fitzgerald have acknowledged their debt to her.  

Her range soared easily from a low, chest tone to a high, clear head voice: on records she sang from a low E to high F, just over two octaves, and on "Memories of You" she hits a spectacular high F sharp. Her diction was clear and impeccable, colouring the lyrics with the proper emotion necessary to express the feelings she wanted to convey.   

Her eighty year life was a turbulent one filled with low valleys and high peaks. In her autobiography, His Eye is on the Sparrow, she frankly detailed the squalor of her sordid childhood and early struggles. Her singing career began with amateur night performances in Philadelphia, then slowly moved in the black theatre circuit, where she was billed as "Sweet Mama Stringbean."  

She began recording in 1921 for the Black Swan label, continuing with that company through 1924. When she introduced "Dinah" at the famous Plantation Club (Broadway and 50th Street) in New York City in 1925, she met with such success that she was signed by Columbia Records, for whom she was to make many of her most famous recordings during the next decade. Her career continued to escalate in such black shows as Africana, The Blackbirds of 1928 (and 1930) and Rhapsody in Black.
In 1929, she made her film debut in the new talking films, singing "Am I Blue?" and "Birmingham Bertha" in On with the Show, remade a few years later as Forty-Second Street.  

In 1933, her sensational rendition of "Stormy Weather" at the Cotton Club made her the talk of the town; when Irving Berlin heard her sing it, she was signed for his As Thousands Cheer, a revue starring Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb. She stopped the show with "Heat Wave" and "Suppertime" and was elevated to co-starring status. At the same time, she became the first Negro to star in a sponsored coast-to-coast radio show, accompanied by the Jimmy Dorsey orchestra. Her Broadway career continued its spectacular ascent with the hit shows At Home Abroad, Mamba 's Daughters, Cabin in the Sky, and Member of the Wedding. Later, she filmed the latter two, appearing also in Gift of Gab, Cairo, Tales of Manhattan, Pinky, and The Sound and the Fury. These films and her numerous recordings remain a legacy for audiences too young to have been or heard this legendary performer at her peak.
Her last years were spent touring with the evangelist Billy Graham, still performing occasionally, until her death on September 2, 1977, in Chatsworth, California.  

Ethel Waters remains a towering figure in the history of jazz and American music.     (info from

The divine Ethel Waters sings her signature song 'Am I Blue'. This is from the 1929 film 'On With The Show'. This film was originally shot in 2 part Technicolor - now sadly lost with only a b&w print surviving. Try and imagine how great this number would have been in colour. Also seen in the cut-away shots is comedienne Louise Fazenda.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Jody Miller born 29 November 1941

Jody Miller (born November 29, 1941) is an American country music singer. Born as Myrna Joy Miller, she was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Oklahoma.
Discovered by actor Dale Robertson, she began her career in the early 1960s as a folk/pop singer, singing in the Los Angeles area and appearing on Tom Paxton's television series. She released her first album on Capitol Records in 1964 and had a modest pop hit that year with "He Walks Like a Man". 

In 1965, she participated in the San Remo Festival as a team companion of Pino Donaggio. Since the Festival was created as a composers' competition, Miller and Donaggio presented differently arranged versions of the entry "Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)". The song came in on # 7 and was only a moderate hit until Dusty Springfield recorded an English version in 1966 which was eventually released as "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me".

Also in 1965, Jody Miller released an answer record to Roger Miller's blockbuster hit "King of the Road", titled "Queen of the House" (which became her signature hit, peaking at number 12 on t
he Billboard Hot 100 and at number 5 on the country singles chart). Miller won the Grammy award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song in 1966.

Miller also scored a second top 40 pop hit that year with "Home of the Brave", a #25 Hot 100 hit that was historically significant for tackling the issue of nonconformity and tolerance. Ahead of its time, its theme prevented it from making any headway on the more conservative country charts of 1965. By the mid 1960s, Miller became a pioneer crossover female vocalist, opening the doors for Linda Ronstadt, Anne Murray, and Olivia Newton-John, and others as a pop singer recording a strong country influence, finding success in both genres.  

Miller's pop success petered out by the late 1960s. Tammy Wynette's record producer, Billy Sherrill, was a fan of Miller's and signed her to Epic Records in 1970 to record specifically for the country market. She had two country hits right off the bat in 1970 with "Look At Mine" nearly making the Top 20 and a Top 20 hit with "If You Think I Love You Now (I Just Started)" in early 1971. She recorded a remake of the '60's pop hit (by the Chiffons), "He's So Fine," and it hit the top 5 on the country chart and #55 on the pop chart that summer. She was nominated for another Grammy award.

Several major country hits followed, many of them remakes of pop/rock classics such as "Baby I'm Yours," "Be My Baby," and "To Know Him is to Love Him". Among the new country songs she had hits with were the top tens "There's a Party Goin' On," "Good News," and "Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home." She also continued to have hits with cover versions of pop hits like "House of the Rising Sun", a hit for The Animals, "Reflections," this is not the hit for Diana Ross and the Supremes, and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", an Aretha Franklin hit. 

Miller's last top 30 country hit was 1977's "When the New Wears Off Our Love" and two years later she made her final chart appearance. She went into semi-retirement in the 1980s, at which time she and her husband owned a ranch in Oklahoma. 

Miller returned in 1987 with the independently released My Country, which consisted entirely of patriotic songs; it caught the attention of President-elect George H.W. Bush, who invited her to perform at his 1988 inaugural ball. Afterward, Miller's now-grown daughter Robin encouraged her to return to country music and the two formed a duo. In 1990, they tried to secure a record contract in Nashville, but were unsuccessful. Miller re-emerged as a gospel singer in the late '90s, with such independently released albums as I'll Praise the Lamb (1997) and Higher (1999).
In 1999, the Country Gospel Music Association inducted Miller into its Hall of Fame, along with Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Andy Griffith, David L. Cook and Lulu Roman.

For a short while Jody and her daughter Robin recorded and toured together.

She continues to perform live and sings her secular hits as well as her gospel material. (Info mainly Wikipedia with a tad of AMG)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Wayne Fontana born 28 October 1945

Wayne Fontana (born Glyn Geoffrey Ellis, 28 October 1945) is an English rock/pop singer, best known for the 1965 hit "Game of Love" with the Mindbenders.

Fontana was born in Manchester, Lancashire, and took his stage name from Elvis Presley's drummer, D.J. Fontana. In 1961 he formed his backing group; the Jets. After reforming and naming the group the Mindbenders in 1963, they secured a recording contract coincidentally, with Fontana Records. He and his group were one of the many talented acts to come out of Manchester during the 1960s 'beat boom'. Wayne was an
accomplished R&B singer and soon gained a useful following of female admirers in the north of England. 

The band had immediate chart success with their first single, but its lowly #46 position and the failure of its follows up were disappointing. However, "Um Um Um Um Um Um Um" peaked at #5 in October during 1964 in the UK charts.  'Game Of Love' was held back from the top spot by 'I'll Never Find Another You' by the Seekers. 

Sadly, by the end of 1965, although the hits had continued, Fontana decided to go solo. This appears not to have done him too much harm because he managed to achieve four more hits without the aid of his former backing musicians.  

He soldiered on alone, using musicians working under the name of the Boys and then the Opposition, notably Frank Renshaw (lead guitar) (born 22 June 1943, Wythenshawe, Manchester); Bernie Burns (drums); Roy "Rossi" Henshall (bass); Rod Gerrard (guitar, ex-Herman's Hermits), and Phil Keane (drums), among others.

Sometimes the band was billed as the Mindbenders, sometimes just as the Wayne Fontana Band. Fontana's most successful solo single release was also his last, "Pamela, Pamela", which reached No 11 in the UK Singles Chart early in 1967.

However, he faded from the scene rapidly after 1968 and although he continued on the club rounds he fell into obscurity for many years. Fortunately, after putting personal problems behind him, he was persuaded out of his retirement during the late 1980s. 

In 2005, he fought off bankruptcy but was arrested after police were called by bailiffs who went to his home in Glossop, Derbyshire. He poured petrol on the bonnet of a baliff's car and set it alight with the bailiff still inside. Fontana was remanded in custody on 25 May 2007. He later appeared at Derby Crown Court dressed as Lady Justice, complete with a sword, scales, crown, cape and dark glasses, and claiming "justice is blind". He dismissed his lawyers. On 10 November 2007 he was sentenced to 11 months for setting fire to the car but was released because he had already served the equivalent of the term, having been held under the Mental Health Act 1983. After his release he settled in Spain. 
In March 2011 Fontana was arrested at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, after failing to appear in court in Wakefield, over an unpaid speeding fine. When the matter was brought to court, it was found that the ticket had never been issued to him and he had returned home to Spain unaware that he had an outstanding ticket. 

It was also determined, at Wakefield
Magistrates' Court that points had been erroneously added to his licence and these were removed by the court. All outstanding fines were paid as well as pending parking fines and this cleared his record. 

Fontana continues to perform, notably in the Solid Silver 60s Shows. (Info mainly Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Don Partridge born 27 October 1944

Donald Eric Partridge (27 October 1941 – 21 September 2010) was an English singer and songwriter, known as the "king of the buskers". He performed from the early 1960s as a busker and one-man band, and achieved unexpected commercial success in the UK in the late 1960s with the songs "Rosie" and "Blue Eyes". 

Don Partridge was born in Bournemouth, England. By his own account, he left home at age 15 and became a burglar, before working at some 45 different jobs. By the early 1960s, inspired by American singer Jesse Fuller, he travelled around Europe as a solo entertainer on street corners, initially simply singing songs with a guitar. However, he found that he gained more attention by performing as a one-man band, playing guitar, kazoo or harmonica, bass drum and cymbal at the same time. 

Playing by that time mainly in London, Partridge performed traditional English and American folk songs as well as his own compositions. In 1964, he and his friend, guitarist Alan Young, were described in the Evening Standard as the first young street musicians to be seen in London since the second world war. He was frequently arrested and fined, but gained a local following and made a TV appearance on the Eamonn Andrews Show. 

Record company executive Don Paul, previously of rock and roll group The Viscounts, then won him a recording contract with Columbia Records. His debut recording of his own song, "Rosie", reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart in March 1968. Following its success, Partridge quit busking for a more orthodox professional singing career. On 5 April 1968, Partridge appeared alongside Amen Corner, Gene Pitney, Status Quo and Simon Dupree and the Big Sound at The Odeon Theatre, Lewisham, London, on the first night as part of a twice nightly UK tour. 

His second hit quickly followed when "Blue Eyes" reached #3 in June 1968, and he was featured on the front cover of the pop weekly Disc. He also released a self-titled LP, which included folk and blues songs by Leadbelly, Bill Broonzy and Oscar Brand along with versions of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" and Robin Williamson's "First Girl I Loved", and several of his own compositions. However, his third single, "Top Man", failed to make the charts. 

Intending a farewell to his street musician friends, he hired the Royal Albert Hall in February 1969 and put on a "Buskers Happening" show before an audience of 3,700, featuring buskers (including Dave Brock, later of Hawkwind), who would all share the profits equally. A concert album, The Buskers, was released in 1969, and Partridge's single "Breakfast On Pluto" reached #26 on the UK charts. He also travelled to the US to promote the Tom Courtenay movie Otley, which featured his song "Homeless Bones". 

Later in 1969, with fellow guitarist Gordon Giltrap, he helped form the group Accolade. This was an acoustic band, who developed a style of folk/jazz fusion. They recorded two albums (the second after Giltrap had left), and one single, before splitting up in 1971.
Partridge returned to busking, and moved to Sweden in the early 1970s where he recorded at least one album, Don Partridge and Friends in 1974. In 1976 he travelled as a busker through Canada, and played at the Montreal Olympic Games. He then returned to England, settling in Seaford, Sussex, in 1990. He continued to busk around the South Coast into his sixties.  

In 2001 he recorded the album The Highwayman, with accompaniment by Herbie Flowers, Nick Pynn and Richard Durrant. The album contained tracks inspired by Partridge's experiences of life on the road, including the autobiographical song "The Night I Met Elton John" and a treatment of Alfred Noyes' verse "The Highwayman".

In 2005, Partridge returned to public attention when his song "Breakfast on Pluto" was included in the soundtrack to the film Breakfast on Pluto. Partridge joined indie pop/trip hop duo Lemon Jelly on tour in the UK the same year. He also made two appearances on the BBC Television comedy music quiz show, Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

Partridge died of a heart attack on 21 September 2010 in the town of Peacehaven in the south-east of England, where he spent most of his later life. (Info Wikipedia)

The 'King of the Buskers' performs his hit single 'Blue Eyes' on Top of the Pops (6th June 1968). The record reached No.3 and was his second and biggest release.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Charlie Landsborough born 26 October 1941

Charlie Landsborough, (born Charles Alexander Landsborough, 26 October 1941) is a British country and folk musician and singer-songwriter. He started singing professionally in the 1970s, although his major success didn't come until 1994 with his song "What Colour is the Wind" and since the hit in 1994 he is now one of the UK's top country acts. He is also popular in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Born in Wrexham, Wales, Landsborough was the youngest of 11 children. Soon after he was born, his mother (Aggie) moved the family back to Birkenhead after the World War II bombing raids. He was reared by the docklands of Birkenhead near the dumps, railway lines, coal wharf and oil factories.

He left school early and worked intermittently as an apprentice telephone engineer, on the railways, and in the flour mills before joining the army. He left after four years, in the early 1960s, and joined a group, The Chicago Sect, in Dortmund, Germany. Returning to England, he married, played in local bands, and worked in a variety of jobs before becoming a teacher at Portland Combined School on Laird Street, Birkenhead.

While working as a teacher, he wrote songs and continued to perform on a semi-professional basis, with limited success. However, in 1994 his song "What Colour is the Wind", which tells the story of a young blind child’s attempts to envision the world, began to be played in Ireland, eventually reaching No. 1 in the Irish charts after a TV appearance on RTE's Kenny Live Show. The song was used as the title track of Landsborough's first album.
Following the album's success in Ireland, Landsborough appeared on several TV shows in the UK. Since then, he has released ten additional albums, including originals, greatest hits and double CDs of previous releases. Overall, sales of his albums have exceeded 700,000 units. He also has had two number ones singles in the Irish pop charts, and several of his albums have topped the British country charts.
One of his most successful releases, Still Can't Say Goodbye was recorded in Nashville in 1999 and resulted in Landsborough winning the BMCA Best Male Vocalist (2000) for the third year in succession, and the Southern Country Award for best album. He has performed at most major concert halls and theatres in the UK, including the London Palladium. He also toured Australia and New Zealand in 2001. 
Charlie’s popularity continues to get stronger year after year; he has a huge fan base in not only the UK, Ireland and Europe but all over the world. In 2011 Charlie’s achievements were recognised when he was inducted into British Country Music Hall of Fame.
Charlie has won just about every award possible in the UK country scene and are too numerous to mention here individually suffice to point out that Charlie has won Best Songwriter, Best Song, Best Male Vocalist, Best Album and International Country Album of the year. He has also received a nomination as Best Global Country Artist in the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville. Many of his albums have topped the country charts as well as getting into the British pop charts. He is a true and immensely talented star having sold well over a million albums.
2014 was the 20th anniversary of the release of Charlie Landsborough's signature tune “What Colour Is The Wind” and to commemorate the event, Charlie released a new studio album called  “Here, There and Everywhere,”featuring the great songwriting talents of Sir Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison. The album title also aligned itself closely to Charlie's faith and belief.
(Info mainly Wikipedia) 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Ester de Abreu born 25 October 1921

Ester de Abreu (October 25, 1921, Lisbon, Portugal - February 24, 1997, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) was  a Portuguese singer. 

The beautiful Abreu Ester was born Ester de Abreu Pereira.  She was one of three siblings: Manuel, Juliet (later to become superstar of the Portuguese Journal of Theatre) and Hermenegilda, the future singer Gilda Valencia. 

She began her career in 1934 singing in radio programs dedicated to children, but this only lasted for two years. It wasn’t until 1940, that she began to sing professionally for the Lisbon National Radio.  In 1946 she won a contest on the same radio, and became part of the "cast" of artists who toured Portugal several times, later she came to visit other countries in Europe and toured the Portuguese colonies in Africa. 
In 1948 she was invited by her sister Juliet Valencia - who have long resided in Rio de Janeiro- to come to Brazil to do a season at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. She signed a contract with the club of the Copacabana Palace and debuted in the musical revue "Dream in Berlengas" Caribé of the Rock.  She also struck a deal with the National Radio for 12 months.  The Rio press called Ester  "the most beautiful Portuguese."  

The Portuguese star was surrounded by very good luck, she remained in the cast of the National until the mid-1960s, with great success.  She became the most famous Portuguese singer in Brazil.  Eventually she became a naturalized Brazilian. 
She travelled throughout the country in artistic excursions.  In 1950 she debuted in recording albums in Continental fado song "I do not know" (António Mestre) and fado "Orchard of life" (Rene Bittencourt / Antonio Mestre). 

However, his biggest success was the fado-song "Coimbra" (Raul Ferrao / José Gallardo), this recording hit sales records in 1952. In 1954 she released her first LP by RCA Victor.
It was during 1952 there was a private party hosted by President Getulio Vargas in Catete Palace in Rio. Ester and other colleagues of the National Radio were invited to make a short presentation.  That night, Vargas presented it to the mayor of the Federal District, the Dulcídio colonel of the Holy Spirit Cardoso, widowed and decided to marry again.  And thus was born a romance between both, which received strong media reports, but the new marriage did not take place.  In 1956 they had already separated.   

In addition to fado, Ester recorded baiões, samba-song and Brazilian music. She also participated in the films: "Take it easy" (1956), "Pirates of This World" (1957), "How to avoid separation" (1973) and "The Adventures of a Portuguese detective" (1976). 

By the end of the 60’s she moved away from artistic activities, it was the end of the "Golden Age of Radio".  Ester continued singing to audiences of clubs and Luso-Brazilian companies.  And she devoted much of his time to social work, participating in charity shows. She always lived in the company of her daughter Maria Manuela, lawyer, sculptor and painter, in a large apartment at Praia de Botafogo in Rio.  

In 1995, the Portuguese star became very ill. She died in Rio de Janeiro February 24, 1997 

 (Info edited from Thais Matarazzo @

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Richard Brooks born 24 October 1940


The Brook Brothers were an English pop duo composed of Ricky Brook (born Richard Alan Brooks, 24 October 1940, Southampton, Hampshire) and Geoff Brook (born Geoffrey Owen Brooks, 12 April 1943, Southampton, Hampshire).  

Born in Southampton, and later living in Winchester, the two brothers, who deliberately cultivated nearly identical appearances on stage despite the nearly three years' difference in their ages, began performing skiffle together in 1956, amid the boom for that uniquely British amalgam of folk, blues, jazz, and rock & roll. After winning a talent competition, they chose to turn professional and developed a sound very similar to that of the Everly Brothers, who were just emerging as stars at the time -- they were also probably influenced to some extent by the Kalin Twins (themselves similar to the Everly Brothers) and their single "When." 

In 1960, they were signed to the Top Rank label and attracted attention with their cover of the Brothers Four hit "Greenfields," which became an Italian hit. Their subsequent singles included the Everly Brothers-related pairing "Please Help Me I'm Falling" b/w "When Will I Be Loved?" which failed to chart.

In 1961, the Brook Brothers jumped to Pye Records and were assigned to producer Tony Hatch, and their second single for the label, "Warpaint," (written by Howard Greenfield and Barry Mann) became a British Top 20 hit. Despite their reputation for producing cover versions, some of their 'B' sides were written by themselves. They subsequently recorded a self-titled LP (containing their covers of "Hello Mary Lou" and "The Trolley Song," among other rock & roll and non-rock & roll standards), and toured with Cliff Richard and Bobby Rydell, thus enhancing their status and exposure in England, though, like virtually every other British act of the era, they never made an impact in America.  

The Brook Brothers enjoyed lesser hits with "Ain't Gonna Wash for a Week," "He's Old Enough to Know Better," "Welcome Home Baby," and "Trouble Is My Middle Name." The duo managed a lively appearance in Richard Lester's debut feature film, the scintillating jukebox movie It's Trad, Dad (also known as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm), miming in an elaborately shot and edited performance of the song "Double Trouble." They also entered A Song For Europe for the Eurovision Song Contest 1962, but did not advance in the contest. 

By that time, in mid-1963, the beat boom out of Liverpool, spearheaded by the Beatles, was dominating the charts and the Brook Brothers seemed more suited to the cabaret circuit. They'd disappeared from view by 1965, leaving behind some fond memories for home-grown British audiences. At the end of the '90s, Castle Music put together a double-CD compilation of the Brook Brothers' complete Pye label recordings, including outtakes and rarities.

Update-  No more information regarding Richard Brooks who moved to the USA or Canada, but Terry did move to Canada and as of 2010 was still singing.   (Info mainly edited from AMG)