Sunday, 31 January 2016

Bobby Hackett born 31 January 1915

Robert Leo "Bobby" Hackett (January 31, 1915 - June 7, 1976) was a jazz musician who played trumpet, cornet and guitar, and played with the Glenn Miller Orchestra during 1941-42.
Hackett was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Bobby, who was later to become the most important white representative of Dixieland jazz, learned banjo, guitar and violin as a child. He left school at 14 and played from then on with local dance orchestras. He began working professionally in an around the Boston area. Appearing with such artists as Teddy Roy, Pee Wee Russell, Herbie Marsh, Payson Re, and the Harvard Gold Coast Orchestra, he quickly earned a reputation.
In 1936 he was asked to form a Dixieland outfit for Boston's Theatrical Club. The group proved very popular and after their one-year engagement ended the members decided to try their luck in New York. Unable to get a job as a group they eventually split up, and for the next couple of years Hackett worked on and off with various artists, including Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Jack Teagarden, and Eddie Condon.
He made his name as a follower of the legendary cornet player Bix Beiderbecke: Benny Goodman hired him to recreate Bix's famous "I'm Coming Virginia" solo at his (Goodman's) 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.

In 1939 Hackett formed his own big band. Louise Tobin, then the wife of Harry James, was featured vocalist. The group contracted with MCA and made several recordings but financial problems forced it to disband after only six months. Owing MCA almost 
Bobby Hackett with fats Waller

$3000, Hackett decided to take a steady job with Horace Heidt in order to pay off the band's debts. He remained with Heidt through the summer season of 1940.
In 1941 Hackett joined Glenn Miller. Miller and Hackett were close friends, and Miller helped renegotiate Hackett's debt. Hackett also recently had had dental surgery and was unable to play the cornet, so Miller placed him as a guitarist. Hackett eventually took up his horn again and can be heard as the featured soloist on the Miller standard ''String of Pearls.''
When Miller disbanded his orchestra in 1942 to join the Army Air 
Bobby Hackett with Louis Armstrong
Force, Hackett took a studio job at NBC. He also spent a brief time with Katherine Dunham's revue. In 1943 he joined the Casa Loma Orchestra and remained with them for three years. He then took a job with ABC, where he spent the next fifteen years.
From the 1950s up until his death Hackett continued performing and recording. He led several small groups and worked closely with many other top artists, including Goodman, Teagarden, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Maxine Sullivan, and Lee Wiley. In the early 1950s Hackett was the star of Jackie Gleason's memorable ''Music for Lovers Only'' album series.

Bobby Hackett died of a heart attack on the 7th June, 1976 in Chatham, Massachusetts.  (info edited from Wikipedia & Solid!)

Here's a clip of the Bobby Hackett Sextet with Deed I Do!

Bobby Hackett (Trumpet -Cornet) Urbie Green (Trombone) Bob Wilber (Clarinet) Morey Feld (Drums) Dave McKenna (Piano) Nabil Totah (bass)

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Horst Jankowski born 30 January 1936

Horst Jankowski (January 30, 1936 – June 29, 1998) was a classically trained German pianist, most famous for his internationally successful easy listening music.
Horst Jankowski was born in Berlin, Germany on January 30th 1936.  Horst lost his father when he was eight. When heavy bombing raids started on Berlin, Horst and his mother moved away from the city, but because of their joint ambition for him to become a prominent musician they returned to the devastated capital in 1947 to take advantage of the facilities for a music education.  After leaving High School, he attended the Berlin Music Conservatory and was awarded a degree for his skill as a concert pianist.
Horst, who also played tenor saxophone, trumpet and double bass, was leading his own jazz combo at an American club in West Berlin when he impressed Kurt Kohenberger , a talent buyer for the for the Roman Bar in Berlin, who arranged for him to tour Germany and other European countries.  One of the people he met was the famous singer Caterina Valente, who invited him to become her accompanist on a Special Service Assignment through Europe and Africa.
On that tour critics were already hailing Horst as a star of the future and in 1955, at the age of just 19,  a stint as featured pianist with the outstanding German Erwin Lehn Orchestra further contributed to Horst’s growing eminence in continental musical circles.  From 1957 Horst was voted top jazz pianist by German jazz fans and  from 1960  he served as orchestral director for numerous leading European and American artists visiting  Germany. Among them were Ella Fitzgerald , Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Michel Legrand, and Oscar Peterson.
To this list of accomplishments, Horst had a career as a best-selling recording artist, with numerous hits to his credit in Germany and America. At the mere mention of Horst Jankowski’s name, one immediately thinks of his famous hit record “ A Walk in the Black Forest” (Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt). And yet this is only the best known of a vast number of songs recorded by this singularly unique artist.

The tune became a pop hit, reaching #1 on the US easy listening chart, #12 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the UK Singles Chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It has been covered by many artists including Herb Alpert and Peter Nero. The track was featured on the BBC's review of the 1960s music scene, Pop Go The Sixties, broadcast on BBC One and ZDF, on January 1, 1970. The Genius of Jankowski album, released in 1965, was also a million seller.
Jankowski went on to score a string of successful albums, but moved on in the 1970s to concentrate more on jazz, including covers of pop and rock hits. Between 1989 and 1994 Jankowski composed and performed easy listening music for Sonoton, Germany.
Jankowski died of lung cancer in 1998, at the age of 62.
(Info edited from Wikipedia & 

Friday, 29 January 2016

Mark Wynter born 29 January 1943

Mark Wynter (born Terence Sidney Lewis, 29 January 1943) is an English actor and former singer, who had four Top 20 singles in the 1960s. He enjoyed a lengthy career from 1960 to 1968 as a pop singer and teen idol, but developed later into an actor in film, musicals and plays.
Mark Wynter was one of the moderately successful British pop/rock crooners to come up in the wake of Cliff Richard and Billy Fury. Born Terry Lewis in Woking, he was one of a family of six, and distinguished himself as a boy soprano at his church. Upon leaving school, young Terry Lewis started work as a shop assistant. However, he was also an enthusiastic singer and his strikingly good looks helped him make the transition in this sphere from part-time amateur to full professional. By the time he was in his mid-teens, rock & roll was beginning to make itself felt in England. 

In 1959, at the age of 16, he was given his first chance at stardom -- a manager named Ray Mackender discovered Lewis singing with a group in a dance hall, filling in for the group's regular lead singer, and was so impressed that he made it his business to meet and sign the teenager. Acting and singing lessons followed. With his musical career on a proper footing Terry decided to change his name to Mark Lewis in order to lessen the confusion with American comedian Jerry Lewis. His manager suggested Wynter sounded more commercial and the complete name change was later made official by deed poll. By 1960, he was playing top cabaret dates in London, and in August of that year he made his television debut.  

Wynter was signed to Decca Records in 1960 and over the next two years five of his seven singles charted in England, his debut, "Image of a Girl" (a cover of the Safaris' hit) peaking at number 11. By 1961, he had an album out, entitled The Warmth of Winter, and was a top pop attraction. Voted the Most Promising Newcomer of 1961 in New Musical Express, he got a chance to perform in America later that year, including an appearance on American Bandstand as well as a U.S. release of one of his records (which, as with most U.K. teen pop releases, fizzled).  

Wynter's career continued roaring ahead in 1962, and he did an acting turn (of sorts) on film in Just for Fun, a political satire (and a follow-up to the previous year's It's Trad, Dad). Then, in the summer of that year, he suddenly found himself at sea when Decca Records hesitated to renew his contract, following the failure of his single "Angel Talk" to chart. Wynter suddenly jumped to the Pye Records label, where he reached number four with his first release, a cover of "Venus in Blue Jeans." He scored again with a cover of "Go Away Little Girl," reaching number six. He missed the charts with "Aladdin's Lamp" and then got to the Top 30 with "Shy Girl."


By that time, however, Wynter was running up against the early manifestations of the Merseybeat boom spearheaded by the Beatles and a veritable earthquake in British pop music. Singers like Wynter were suddenly out of fashion and no longer selling serious amounts of records. He made a few serious efforts at charting singles, including "Can I Get to Know You Better," a Sloan-Barri composition produced by Andrew Oldham., however it failed to reverse the decline in his sales.

On 8 April 1968 Wynter survived the burning Boeing 707 aircraft, BOAC Flight 712, upon which he had been a passenger. The plane exploded shortly after landing back at Heathrow Airport following a fire in its number 2 engine, killing five people, including stewardess Barbara Jane Harrison, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross.
By the early '70s Wynter had traded in pop stardom for a stage career on London West End. Wynter was still working actively and successfully in theatre throughout the English-speaking world well into the '90s.

His warm, mellifluous speaking voice was heard many times on BBC Radio 2 during the early 1990s when he presented daytime shows as well as documentaries such as "Happy Times", a programme about the American entertainer Danny Kaye, which was nominated for a New York radio award.

He now lives in Sussex, and tours the country with an Agatha Christie theatre company. He is married to Emma, and has three children; Barnaby, Josh and Darcey. (Info various mainly AMG)

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Elsie Carlisle born 28 January 1896

Elsie Carlisle (January 28, 1896 – November 1977) was a popular English female singer. 
Originally from Manchester, Elsie became extremely popular during the 1920s and 30s, recording with many of the big dance bands of the time, as well as solo.  

She was singing and dancing at concerts in Manchester when she was six, and at twelve was a box office draw in her first revue. Four years later she was a top-liner in advertisements. Her first appearance on the air was in a variety programme in 1927. It was said that a BBC official heard her speak at a luncheon and asked her to sing before the microphone, and she was booked straight awayElsie Carlisle was beyond a doubt the most popular radio performer in England in the '30s. Proof is even available in the form of her nickname, "Radio Sweetheart Number One." She was a slightly small, unassuming performer who in some ways crystallized the idea of the blonde flapper, an image also utilized by American big band vocalists such as Annette Hanshaw and Ruth Etting.

Comparisons to other singers can be made only on the basis of appearance, however. In terms of singing, Carlisle had her own way with material such as romantic songs and light comedy. Her reputation was complex as well, as she also developed a part of her style devoted to material bordering on the obscene, and also felt hounded by innuendo and gossip concerning her personal life during some stages of her career. 

She was associated with the top bandleaders in the UK, and with some of the classiest song material as well. Carlisle was one of the vocalists with the Ambrose Orchestra, which for more than two decades was considered one of the finest dance bands in the nation. Bandleader Bert Ambrose regarded Carlisle as one of his best singers, and found her one of the most difficult to replace as well.
Decca chose the group as one of its first signings after setting up a British branch, and Carlisle was practically chained to the microphone stand for the prolific recording activity that ensued. She was also associated with bandleaders such as Paul Whiteman and Jack Harris. Harris was a partner of Ambrose, and their orchestras would switch off at the fashionable London club Ciro's during the late '30s. 
In the early '50s, Carlisle's association with bandleader Jack Hylton seemed to be about more than charts and arrangments; they reportedly had an affair, and for years there was speculation that Carlisle had fathered Hylton's child. Gossip mongers later reversed themselves on this hot topic.  

A singer who worked with a broad repertoire, Carlisle was nonetheless associated with certain songs such as the Cole Porter classic "What Is This Thing Called Love?", which she introduced to the public in the first London production of the the musical Wake Up and Dream. She also had a way with comic material, especially in tandem with fellow vocalist Sam Browne; the pair worked together in the Ambrose group, popularizing the ditty "Home James andDon’t Spare the Horses", which originated with a country and western publishing house, and also went on tour on their own. Carlisle recorded "My Handy Man", the Andy Razaf classic blues also chosen for its shock value by other singers such as Ethel Waters. This was not Carlisle's only risqué touch: "Pu-leeze! Mister Hemingway" was entirely banned by the BBC, which normally worshipped the ground Carlisle walked on. 

She recorded very little after the beginning of the Second World War, and retired from the entertainment industry after about 1946. Her business involvements included interests in ballroom dancing venues in south London, a company manufacturing bar accessories, a pub in central London and a Hotel/pub in Berkshire. She lived from 1939 until her death in November 1977 in her house in Mayfair in Central London.        (Info mainly All Music Guide)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Claude Gray born 26 January 1932

Claude Gray (born January 26, 1932  in Henderson, Texas) is an American country music singer-songwriter and guitar picker best known for his 1960 hit "Family Bible," which has been covered by many different artists. Gray's other hit, "I'll Just Have Another Cup Of Coffee," was covered and rearranged by Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley, who retitled the song as "One Cup Of Coffee."  Gray stands 6'5" and because of his height, was given the moniker, "The Tall Texan."
Alongside artists such as Ray Price, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Don Gibson and Chet Atkins, Gray was a purveyor of the Nashville sound, embracing the Countrypolitan movement which paved the way for pop-oriented singers in country music and attracted new audiences to the genre.
Gray started his singing career while attending High School in his hometown of Henderson, Texas. After school, he served in the United States Navy from 1950 to 1954. Upon his return to home, he worked as a salesman for the rest of the decade. He began a recording career in 1959, after working as a radio announcer in Kilgore, Texas, and performing as a disc jockey in Meridian, Mississippi.
Gray was approached by Pappy Daily's D records in 1959, and recorded "I'm Not Supposed," which was released as his first single. The song made the Cashbox country charts. The following year, Gray and two friends purchased the song "Family Bible" from Willie Nelson  for $100. Gray then recorded the song, and released it as a single."  It peaked at No. 10 on the country charts.

In 1961, "I'll Just Have a Cup of Coffee (Then I'll Go)," was released, which peaked at No. 4, and was followed by the biggest hit of Gray's career, the No. 3 "My Ears Should Burn (When Fools Are Talked About)," which was penned by Roger Miller. Gray's final top ten hit came in 1967 with "I Never Had the One I Wanted," which was also his final charted song upon re-release in 1979.
In the late 1970s, Gray co-wrote with Walt Breeland, a controversial song entitled "The Ballad of Jimmy Hoffa." Gray's record label at the time (Mercury Records) refused to allow him to record the song, but he eventually recorded it for Ol' Podner Records, who subsequently released it directly to the Teamsters. He moved to Million Records and had a minor hit, "Woman Ease My Mind," in 1973. He appeared on the charts only sporadically after that, scoring a hit in 1986 with his version of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."
Today, Gray continues to tour with The Claude Gray Road show, performing shows throughout North America and in parts of Europe, where classic country music remains popular. Recently, Gray has appeared in Branson and is also a performer on the RFD-TV cable television Network.
Claude's recording career includes working with the Mercury, Columbia, and Decca record labels. He did a total of sixteen albums, 53 singles of which 18 reached the Billboard Top 20 on the national country charts. He's done personal appearances in a number of European countries and 49 of the 50 United States. (Info mainly Wikipedia)

Monday, 25 January 2016

Roy Black born 25 January 1943

Roy Black (January 25, 1943 – October 9, 1991) was a German schlager singer and actor, who appeared in several musical comedies and starred in the 1989 TV series, Ein Schloß am Wörthersee.
Born Gerhard Höllerich in Bobingen, Bavarian Swabia, Germany, Black attended the gymnasium in Augsburg and, aged 20, founded the rock and roll band Roy Black and His Cannons. His stage name derived from his black hair and his idol, Roy Orbison.
Roy Black and His Cannons achieved some local fame and were offered a recording contract with Polydor Records. However, his record producer Hans Bertram decided on a solo career for Black, and a switch to romantic songs for his protégé, a decision which soon led to nationwide fame.

In 1966, his single "Ganz in Weiß"—a romantic song about marrying in white—sold in excess of one million copies by the end of 1967. His 1969 song "Dein schönstes Geschenk", sold one million copies by May 1970, having spent nine weeks at number one in the German chart.
From 1967, Black also took on roles in several musical comedy films, for example in the 1969 movie Hilfe, ich liebe Zwillinge (Help, I Love Twins) opposite Uschi Glas.
Being Germany's most popular singer in the late 1960s and early 1970s with hits such as "Das Mädchen Carina" (1969) or "Schön ist es auf der Welt zu sein" (1971 with Anita Hegerland), his career struggles due to low record sales and personal problems.
In 1974, Black announced his engagement to model Silke Vagts (1945–2002), and the couple got married in Munich the same year. In 1976 their son Torsten was born. They divorced in 1985.
In the last years of his life, he had a surprising comeback as singer and leading actor of the hit TV show Ein Schloß am Wörthersee (1990).
Six years later, Black died of heart failure, in Heldenstein near Mühldorf am Inn, which was assumed to be a result of his addiction to alcohol and pharmaceuticals. Rumour has it, according to the German BILD-Zeitung and other news sources, that he committed suicide. He died one month after his long-time companion Carmen Böhning gave birth to their daughter Nathalie (14 September 1991).
In 1999, 8 years after Roy Black's death, the composer Christian Bruhn has discovered the unreleased song "Der Wanderpriester". Along with 10 other unreleased songs it was put on a new album. "Der Wanderpriester" that was 2 weeks in the Top 100 of the German-international Charts.

(Info mainly edited from Wikipedia & IMDB)

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Johnny Russell born 23 January 1940

John Bright "Johnny" Russell (January 23, 1940 – July 3, 2001) was an American country singer, songwriter, and comedian. His songs have been recorded by Burl Ives, Jim Reeves, Jerry Garcia, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt. This hefty Nashville songwriter weighed in at 25 stone, and was fond of remarking that he carried ‘a lot of weight in this town.’
Born in Moorhead, Mississippi, he moved with his family at age 11 to Fresno, California.Inspired by country stars of the 1940s and 50s - such as Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb - he began entering talent contests, performing in clubs and writing songs while still in high school, graduating in 1958. He had his first song published that year, In a Mansion Stands My Love, which was recorded by Jim Reeves as the "B" side of his 1960 hit He'll Have to Go.
In 1963, Buck Owens recorded "Act Naturally," co-written by Voni Morrison, which went to No. 1 and was recorded by The Beatles two years later. Ringo Starr sang the vocals, and he and Owens later recorded a duet of the song in 1989.
Over the next few years, Russell worked in California and Nashville, writing songs for the Wilburn Brothers' publishing company, Sure-Fire. In 1971, Chet Atkins, who had produced the Reeves recording, signed him to an RCA contract.

His recording of his song Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer was his only top 10 hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in October 1973. The song was nominated later that year for a Grammy Award. Russell is also known for hits such as The Baptism of Jesse Taylor, Catfish John, and Hello, I Love You.
Leon Russell (no relation) was known for being the first one   record He Stopped Loving Her Today, in some surveys named as the greatest country song of all time and the biggest hit for George Jones in 1980, but his label refused to release it. Years later, George Strait topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with Russell's song Let's Fall to Pieces Together.
As a songwriter, Russell also wrote "Making Plans," which was recorded by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on their "Trio" album in 1987, and the No. 1 hit "Let's Fall to Pieces Together," recorded in 1984 by George Strait.
Russell joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1985, and over the years became the regular closing act of the popular radio show.

In 1987, Russell hosted his first annual concert in Moorhead, MS at the MS Delta Community College Coliseum. These went on for 13 years, his final on April 29, 2000. A jolly, 275-pound man who wore a trademark black captain's hat, Russell often joked about his weight. "Can everybody see me all right?" was his traditional opening remark on stage. A mild stroke put Russell out of action for some time, but he returned to the road until dialysis treatments slowed him down once more. He returned to recording in 2000 with the charming Actin’ Naturally.
Russell, in a 1988 interview with The Associated Press, said he was proud of his success with "Act Naturally." "I sit in a ballpark with 40,000 other people and I think, 'Of all the people here, I'm probably the only guy who wrote a Beatles' record.'"
By 2001, Russell's health had been in a state of decline (for years, he had used his obesity as a running joke on the Grand Ole Opry), and in April 2001, both of his legs were amputated because of diabetes. Russell died July 3, 2001 peacefully at a Nashville hospital at the age of 61, from diabetes-related complications.
Garth Brookes, who performed with Russell during his last public appearance at the Opry House during March 2001, spoke about the prolific singer/songwriter: "Because of Johnny's modesty, hardly any of us realizes his unbelievable talent and the contribution he made to music. Even in his last days, when everyone was stopping by to try and cheer him up, it was he who was making everyone else laugh. He was a truly unselfish, sweet man  (info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia and CMT)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Freddy Breck born 21 January 1942

Freddy Breck (Gerhard Brecker; 21 January 1942,Sonneberg, Thuringia – 17 December 2008, Rottach-Egern, Upper Bavaria) was a German schlager singer, composer, record producer, and news presenter.
He grew up in Hagen, and studied to be a machinist, then studied singing under Heinz Gietz. He sang schlager songs which were based on well-known classical melodies. His first success was "Überall auf der Welt", based on Va, pensiero from Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco. This he recorded in English as "We Believe In Tomorrow" and released it as a single in late 1972 - it topped the South African Charts in early 1973. The title brought Breck the first gold record.  It was followed by numerous other successes, the best known are his 1973 hits “Bianca” and “Rote Rosen (Red Rose).”

Breck records appeared in Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Scandinavia, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Benelux and the United Kingdom.  “We believe in
Tomorrow”, the English version of Around the world was in the South African Charts for 25 weeks in 1973.

In 1974 Breck released a single in the UK “So in Love with You”, which reached number 44 on the charts.  He also had great success in the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.  In Germany in 1977 he had his last hit in the charts which was followed by only isolated success in the airplay charts. In 1978, he issued an English language disc.
In the 1980s, he devoted himself more to composing.  He wrote, among other things for the original Naabtal Duo, the Kastelruther Spatzen and Nina & Mike.  He also worked as a news presenter for various stations.
He founded his own record label, Sun Day Records, with his wife Astrid in 1998, and in 1999 they released music as a duo, Astrid & Freddy Breck.

Freddy Breck received during his lifetime 35 Golden and 5 platinum records, Golden Lion, Golden Camera Awards, Golden Barrel organs, Hermann-Löns-medal, 2x Salzburger Stier in Gold and the Euro Star in Gold.
 Gerhard Breker aka Freddy Breck died in December 2008 of lung cancer at his home on the Tegernsee and was buried in the new church graveyard in Rottach-Egern. (Info edited from mainly Wikipedia & and translated items.)