Thursday, 16 June 2016


                                            Back in July

Floyd Dakil born 16 June 1945

Floyd Arthur Dakil (June 16, 1945 – April 24, 2010) was a Texas musician best known for  his often compiled song "Dance Franny Dance". He later went on to play guitar in Louis  Prima's band.

Dakil was born in
Childress County, Texas. He started out as an adolescent wild man, forming his Floyd Dakil Combo with five other high school
sophomores in 1963. In 1964, the combo recorded their first and 
best-known single for the Jetstar label, the regional hit “Dance, 
Franny, Dance,” live in front of a crowd at the Pit Club, where they were the house band. They were clean-cut teens in sharp suits who played savage, crazy and loose dance music that still stands out today as one of the hottest sounds to come out of the happening Dallas-Fort Worth ‘60s garage scene.

"Dance Franny Dance", reached the sixtieth slot on a "top sixty" 
chart compiled by a San Francisco radio station. It was re-issued nationally on the Guyden label. Its inclusion in compilations on Texas rock has become essential. Floyd Dakil went on to record three 45s on the Earth label as the Floyd Dakil Four.

After the Earth 45s, Floyd kept the band together while earning a B.A. from Texas Tech. In 1968 he had a solo 45 “Merry Christmas Baby” / “One Day” on Pompeii. Sometime after that Floyd became 
the guitarist for one of his idols, Louis Prima, and remained for several years until Prima’s ill health curtailed his touring.  Dakil stayed in Las Vegas, where he played the lounges and opened for the likes of Bill Cosby and Phyllis Diller. During July 1972 he married Jolene Nunn. 

In 1975 he released a LP with his own group, Live! in which he runs 
through 42 songs in as many minutes. It’s definitely an odd mix, if you can imagine “Everyday People” segueing to a chorus of 
“Yummy Yummy Yummy” then straight into “Whiskey River”! Also about 1975 Floyd turned down a two LP contract with CBS, feeling that the contract was unfair in charging promotional costs back to the artist.

In the late ’80s he started a band with Larry Randall, and this group’s songs were featured in a 1991movie, Love Hurts with a brief cameo by the group.He was working in real estate, and teaching guitar lessons at the Grapevine Antique Mall in Grapevine, Texas, but occasionally appeared with reunited members of his original band under thename The Pitmen. . In 2009 Floyd was one of the featured acts at the Ponderosa Stomp at SXSW in Austin.

Recently, the economic downturn put a halt at his real estate business and put him in financial troubles. Tragically Floyd committed suicide  24 April 2010, age 64. 
 (Info edited from various sources)

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

David Rose born 15 June 1910


David Rose (June 15, 1910 – August 23, 1990) was a British-born American songwriter, composer, arranger, and orchestra leader and was one of the most popular and distinctive mainstream instrumental pop composers of the '40s,'50s and '60s, He was responsible for two numbers that embody the two moral poles of exotica: "Holiday for Strings" and "The Stripper." 
Recipient of four Emmy awards, David Rose was born in London to Jewish parents and raised in Chicago and he studied at the Chicago College of Music. After starting as an arranger for NBC Radio in Chicago, he moved to Hollywood in 1928 and led the orchestra for the Mutual Broadcasting network. Mutual is supposed to have forced Rose to cut his orchestra back to just a string section to save costs, leading him to focus on writing for strings.  

He was married on October 8, 1938, to the actress Martha Raye. They were divorced on May 19, 1941. He was married for a second time, on July 28, 1941, to the actress and singer Judy Garland. They had no children, though Garland reportedly underwent at least one abortion during the marriage, at the insistence of her mother, her husband, and the studio that employed her, MGM. Garland and Rose divorced in 1944. He had two daughters with his third wife, Betty Bartholomew. His granddaughter is singer-songwriter Samantha James.   

The climax of this period was his 1944 hit, "Holiday for Strings," or as we all know and love it, "that shopping song." "Holiday for Strings" was also later used as the theme song for the Garry Moore and Red Skelton shows.  

Rose joined MGM after the war and worked for the studio in television, film, and recordings. He orchestrated much of the first few seasons of "Bonanza." He backed a number of MGM's vocalists, including Connie Francis on her hit, "My Happiness," and had several instrumental hits of his own. He cashed in on the calypso craze of 1956-57 with "Calypso Melody," a Top 40 hit. He also released an album of classical pieces done with upbeat rhythm sections, titled "Concert with a Beat."  Rose was a live steam hobbyist, with his own backyard railroad.   

"The Stripper" was composed by Rose and recorded in 1958. It was originally used as the B-side to his single, "Ebb Tide". The choice of the record's B-side was not by Rose, but by an MGM office boy. MGM indicated they wanted to put the record on the market quickly. A B-side was needed and with Rose away, the office boy went through some of Rose's tapes searching for one. "The Stripper" featured especially prominent trombone lines, giving the tune its lascivious signature, and evokes the feel of music used to accompany burlesque striptease artists. The piece features in the films Slap Shot, The Full Monty and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit as well as TV series Little Britain and Scrubs. It was also famously used in a parody by British comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, where they danced to the tune while making breakfast.

He continued to work in television, serving as musical director for the series "Little House on the Prairie" in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He died in Burbank, California of a heart attack at the age of 80 and was buried in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California. (info edited from & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Charlie Feathers born 12 June 1932

Charlie Feathers (June 12, 1932 – August 29, 1998) was an influential American rockabilly and country music performer.

Charles Arthur Feathers was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and recorded a string of popular singles like "Peepin' Eyes," "Defrost Your Heart," "Tongue-Tied Jill," and "Bottle to the Baby" on Sun Records, Meteor and King Records in the 1950s. 

Feathers was known for being a master of shifting emotional and sonic dynamics in his songs. His theatrical, hiccup-styled, energetic, rockabilly vocal style inspired a later generation of rock vocalists, including Lux Interior of The Cramps. 
He studied and recorded several songs with Junior Kimbrough, whom he called "the beginning and end of all music". His childhood influences were reflected in his later music of the 1970s and 1980s, which had an easy-paced, sometimes sinister, country-blues tempo, as opposed to the frenetic fast-paced style favoured by some of his rockabilly colleagues of the 1950s. 

He started out as a session musician at Sun Studios, playing any side instrument he could in the hopes of someday making his own music there. He eventually played on a small label started by Sam Phillips called Flip records which got him enough attention to record a couple singles for Sun Records and Holiday Inn Records. By all accounts the singer was not held in much regard by Phillips, but Feathers often made the audacious claim that he had arranged "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" for Elvis Presley and recorded "Good Rockin' Tonight" months before Presley. He also claimed that his "We're Getting Closer (To Being Apart)" had been intended to be Elvis' sixth single for Sun. He did, however, get his name on one of Elvis' Sun records, "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" when the writer Stan Kesler asked him to record a demo of the song.

He then moved on to Meteor Records and then King Records where he recorded his best-known work. When his King contract ran out he still continued to perform, although Feathers—perhaps typically—thought there was a conspiracy to keep his music from gaining the popularity it deserved.

When the rockabilly revival started up in Europe in the early '70s, Feathers became the first living artist up for deification by collectors. His old 45s suddenly became worth hundreds of dollars, and every interviewer wanted to know why he never really made it big and what his true involvement with Sun consisted of. Feathers embroidered the story with a skewed view of rock & roll history with each retelling, to be sure, but once he picked up his guitar and sang to reinforce his point, the truth came out in his music. Never mind why he didn't make it back in the '50s; he could still deliver the goods now.

In the mid-1980s, he performed at times at new music nightclubs like the Antenna Club in Memphis, Tennessee, sharing the bill with rock-and-roll bands like Tav Falco's Panther Burns, who, as devoted fans of Feathers, had introduced him to their label's president. During this time, rockabilly icon Colonel Robert Morris played drums for Charlie. Charlie said "Robert tore up a brand new set of drums, but the crowd was dancing on the tables". 

He released his New Jungle Fever album in 1987 and Honkey Tonk Man in 1988, featuring the lead guitar work of his son, Bubba Feathers. These later albums of original songs penned by Feathers were released on the French label New Rose Records, whose other 1980s releases included albums by cult music heroes like Johnny Thunders, Alex Chilton, Roky Erickson, The Cramps, The Gun Club, and others. 

With health problems plaguing him from his diabetes and a surgically removed lung, Feathers continued on his own irascible course, recording his first album for a major label in 1991 (Elektra's American Masters series) and continuing to perform and record for his wide European fan base. Truly an American music original, Feathers died August 29, 1998, of complications following a stroke; he was 66.    (Info edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Bonnie Lee born 11 June 1931

Bonnie Lee (June 11, 1931 – September 7, 2006) was an American Chicago blues singer, known as "The Sweetheart of the Blues.“ She was a long-time fixture of Chicago's contemporary blues scene as well as one of the last surviving links to its post-war heyday. Many great blues artists have come from the Texas area but, arguably, none so adorable as Ms. Bonnie Lee. With a career that spanned more than fifty years, Lee stirred the mixture of jazz sophistication, deep rooted blues feeling and southern charm to come with a style that's was all her own. 

Born Jessie Lee Frealls on June 11, 1931, in Bunkie, LA, Lee grew up in Beaumont, TX, where she studied piano and sang in her church's choir. Gospel singer Lillian Ginn was sufficiently impressed to extend an invitation to join her on tour, but Lee's mother refused to grant her permission. As a teen Lee nevertheless toured the South as a member of the Famous Georgia Minstrels, befriending blues legends Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Big Mama Thornton along the way. 

She relocated to Chicago in 1958, hitching a ride with a delivery van driver and settling at the West Side apartment of an aunt. After toiling in anonymity as a singer and dancer, in 1960 Lee signed to J. Mayo Williams' Ebony label to cut her debut single, "Sad and Evil Woman," credited at Williams' insistence to Bonnie "Bombshell" Lane, a moniker she reportedly despised. The single fared poorly, and Lee continued touring the Chicago jazz and blues club circuit, developing a potent voice as earthy as it was electrifying.  

Family obligations forced her to retire from music during the middle of the decade, but in 1967 she resurfaced alongside the legendary pianist Sunnyland Slim, a longtime confederate of Muddy Waters. Lee regularly opened for Slim in the years that followed, becoming a legend on the North Side blues circuit via residencies at clubs including Wise Fools, B.L.U.E.S., and Blue Chicago.  

In the late '70s, she also cut a handful of singles for Slim's own Airway label. In 1982, performing with Zora Young and Big Time Sarah as Blues with the Girls, she toured Europe, and they recorded an album in Paris.
In 1992 Lee performed on Magic Slim's album 44 Blues, with John Primer. Lee also enjoyed a decade-long collaboration with renowned bassist Willie Kent, during which time she recorded the 1995 Delmark LP Sweetheart of the Blues as well as the 1998 Wolf Records set I'm Good. In addition, she contributed to myriad compilations, most notably Women of Blue Chicago and Chicago's Finest Blues Ladies.
Health problems nevertheless plagued Lee throughout the latter half of her life, and she died in Chicago, Illinois, on September 7, 2006, at the age of 75. (Info edited from AMG)

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Johnny Ace born 9 June 1929

John Marshall Alexander, Jr. (June 9, 1929 – December 25, 1954), known by the stage name Johnny Ace, was an American rhythm and blues singer. He scored a string of hit singles in the mid-1950s before dying of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Alexander was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of a preacher, and grew up near LeMoyne-Owen College. After serving in the navy during the Korean War, Alexander joined Adolph Duncan's Band as a pianist. He then joined the B. B. King band. Soon King departed for Los Angeles and vocalist Bobby Bland joined the army. Alexander took over vocal duties and renamed the band The Beale Streeters, also taking over King's WDIA radio show. 

Becoming "Johnny Ace", he signed to Duke Records (originally a Memphis label associated with WDIA) in 1952. Urbane 'heart-ballad' "My Song," his first recording, topped the R&B charts for nine weeks in September. ("My Song" was covered in 1968 by Aretha Franklin, on the flipside of "See Saw".) 

Ace began heavy touring, often with Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton. In the next two years, he had eight hits in a row, including "Cross My Heart," "Please Forgive Me," "The Clock," "Yes, Baby," "Saving My Love for You," and "Never Let Me Go." In December, 1954 he was named the Most Programmed Artist of 1954 after a national DJ poll organized by U.S. trade weekly Cash Box.

Ace's recordings sold very well for those times. Early in 1955, Duke Records announced that the three 1954 Johnny Ace recordings, along with Thornton's "Hound Dog", had sold more than 1,750,000 records.

After touring for a year, Ace had been performing at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas on Christmas Day 1954. During a break between sets, he was playing with a .22 caliber revolver. Members of his band said he did this often, sometimes shooting at roadside signs from their car.

It was widely reported that Ace killed himself playing Russian roulette. Big Mama Thornton's bass player Curtis Tillman, however, who witnessed the event, said, "I will tell you exactly what happened! Johnny Ace had been drinking and he had this little pistol he was waving around the table and someone said ‘Be careful with that thing…’ and he said ‘It’s okay! Gun’s not loaded… see?’ and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face and ‘Bang!’ — sad, sad thing. Big Mama ran out of the dressing room yelling ‘Johnny Ace just killed himself!" 

Thornton said in a written statement (included in the book The Late Great Johnny Ace) that Ace had been playing with the gun, but not playing Russian roulette. According to Thornton, Ace pointed the gun at his girlfriend and another woman who were sitting nearby, but did not fire. He then pointed the gun toward himself, bragging

g that he knew which chamber was loaded. The gun went off, shooting him in the side of the head.  According to Nick Tosches, Ace actually shot himself with a .32 pistol, not a .22, and it happened little more than an hour after he had bought a brand new 1955 Oldsmobile. 

Ace's funeral was on January 9, 1955, at Memphis' Clayborn Temple AME church. It was attended by an estimated 5,000 people. "Pledging My Love" became a posthumous R&B No. 1 hit for ten weeks beginning February 12, 1955. As Billboard bluntly put it, Ace's death "created one of the biggest demands for a record that has occurred since the death of Hank Williams just over two years ago."  His single sides were compiled and released as The Johnny Ace Memorial Album. 

One of the brightest stars of the R & B world was lost much too soon and certainly because of a moment of foolish youthful indiscretion. Johnny Ace had a definite shot at becoming the first great cross over artist of the rock 'n roll years had he lived. His ballad singing style seemed to transcend the social barriers that had existed up to that time, and his in person performances made him a popular and influential star of the time. He was a once in a lifetime performer, and he left us much too soon. (Info mainly Wikipedia)


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Harry Torrani born 8 June 1902

Harry Hopkinson (8 June 1902--4 March 1979) has been credited as one of the world's greatest yodellers. He was billed as the "Yodelling Cowboy from Chesterfield."  

Born Harry Hopkinson at the turn of the century at North Wingfield, Derbyshire, England, in one of the long-since demolished Little Morton Cottages, he went from butcher’s errand boy to become a music-hall superstar who was idolised for his yodelling talents, and during a show business career which spanned half a century made over 25 single records, which today are valuable collectors’ items.

It is said that he was blessed with a voice `sweeter than any nightingales’; a voice recognised for its purity by choirmaster Herbert Butterworth who encouraged Harry to become a boy soprano with the North Wingfield Church Choir. Harry’s Sunday evening solos had the building packed to the seams. After a spell working in the local colliery, he entered show business in a troupe of travelling entertainers.  

Harry moved to the newly opened Williamthorpe Colliery. He loved the ponies but hated the pit work, and after suffering an accident which left him partially buried for some hours, decided that being a miner was not for him - and set his heart on a singing career. 

When harry was still a teenager, he won a local talent contest where his unique voice was recognised by an entertainment agent who signed him up to tour the country with a music-hall troupe. He changed his name and his image; Harry Hopkinson ex-miner and former butcher’s errand boy became Austin Layton, Music Hall Star. 

Dressed in his top hat and tails and looking the picture of elegance with his white gloves and silver-topped cane, the image-makers of the day made the young man with the boyish good looks into the epitome of the 1920’s `Toff’. By the time he was 25 Harry had become the complete showman – and was soon to become an international celebrity following a further change of management and style. For the Music Halls he had been billed as `The Singing Puzzle’ and opened his stage act mysteriously concealed behind a curtain, or sometimes a newspaper, wearing a long wig and a cloak which the audience were allowed brief glimpses of during the performance. The unamplified voice would ring around the theatre, convincing the audience by it’s amazing high-pitched clarity that its owner was female – until the song ended and Harry revealed himself, throwing off the cloak and tossing the wig across the stage to rapturous applause. 

The yodelling part of Hopkinson's act was expanded, and he adopted the more commercial and continental sounding name Harry Torrani. 

Success followed success for `Torrani’. Harry toured the world during the 1930’s, appearing at theatres as far apart as the U.S.A., Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In an era that witnessed a revolution in the medium of entertainment with the advent of the wireless and the new-fangled gramophone records, Harry Torrani became a yodelling legend. 

Hopkinson recorded his first yodelling song on 27 August 1931 for the Regal Zonophone label, Honeymoon Yodel coupled with Happy and Free. His recording career continued until 1942. Some of his songs were Yodel All Day, Yodellers Dream Girl, Honeymoon Yodel, The Australian Yodel, Mammy's Yodel! and Mississippi Yodel!. 

As well being an accomplished performer, he also wrote most of his own material. He appeared in Variety Theatres worldwide and also made wireless broadcasts.  

Hopkinson retired from show business during the late 1940s. In his retirement he worked as a watch repairer, after suffering a stroke he entered a Nursing Home where he remained until his death on 4th March, 1979 at the age of 77.  

Slim Whitman, when asked who in his opinion was the world’s greatest yodeller, answered without hesitation, “Harry Torrani.”  (Info mainly edited from

Thanks to "gruntlesnoot" @You tube for making this clever video.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Jimmie Lunceford born 6 June 1902

James Melvin "Jimmie" Lunceford (June 6, 1902 – July 12, 1947) was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader of the swing era.
Lunceford was born in Fulton, Missouri, but attended school in Denver and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Fisk University. In 1927, while teaching high school in Memphis, Tennessee, he organized a student band, the Chickasaw Syncopators, whose name was changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra when it began touring. The orchestra made its first recording in 1930. After a period of touring, the band accepted a booking at the prestigious Harlem nightclub, The Cotton Club in 1933.

The Cotton Club had already featured Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, who won their first widespread fame from their inventive shows for the Cotton Club's all-white patrons. Lunceford's orchestra, with their tight musicianship and often outrageous humour in their music and lyrics made an ideal band for the club, and Lunceford's reputation began to steadily grow.
The orchestra waxed a few notable songs for Victor, and then started recording regularly for Decca. Their tight ensembles and colourful shows made them a major attraction throughout the remainder of the swing era. Among their many hits were "Rhythm Is Our Business," "Four or Five Times," "Swanee River," "Charmaine," "My Blue Heaven," "Organ Grinder's Swing," "Ain't She Sweet," "For Dancers Only," "'Tain't What You Do, It's the Way That Cha Do It," "Uptown Blues," and "Lunceford Special." The stars of the band included arranger Sy Oliver (on trumpet and vocals), Willie Smith, Trummy Young (who had a hit with "Margie"), and tenor saxophonist Joe Thomas.

Lunceford's stage shows often included costumes, skits, and obvious jabs at mainstream white jazz bands, such as Paul Whiteman's and Guy Lombardo's. Despite the band's comic veneer, Lunceford always maintained professionalism in the music befitting a former teacher; this professionalism paid off and during the apex of swing in the 1930s, the Orchestra was considered the equal of Duke Ellington's, Earl Hines' or Count Basie's.
As well as recording for the Decca label the band later signed with the Columbia subsidiary Vocalion in 1938. They toured Europe extensively in 1937, but had to cancel a second tour in 1939 because of the outbreak of World War II. In 1939, it was a major blow when Tommy Dorsey lured Sy Oliver away (although trumpeters Gerald Wilson and Snooky Young were important new additions). Unfortunately, Lunceford underpaid most of his sidemen, not thinking to reward them for their loyalty in the lean years. Columbia dropped Lunceford in 1940 because of flagging sales so he returned to the Decca label. The orchestra appeared in the 1941 movie Blues in the Night.
In 1942 Willie Smith was one of several key players who left for better-paying jobs elsewhere, and the orchestra gradually declined. Jimmie Lunceford was still a popular bandleader in 1947 when he suddenly collapsed and died from cardiac arrest.

Rumours have
persisted that he was poisoned by a racist restaurant owner who was very reluctant about feeding his band. After Lunceford's death, pianist/arranger Ed Wilcox and Joe Thomas tried to keep the orchestra together, but in 1949 the band permanently broke up.
 (info edited from Wikipedia & AMG)

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Kurt Edelhagen born 5 June 1920

Kurt Edelhagen (5 June 1920 – 8 February 1982) was a major European big band leader throughout the 1950s. 

Edelhagen was born on June 5, 1920 in Herne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany as Kurt Ludwig Edelhagen. He was trained as a clarinetist and pianist in Essen, Germany, discovered Jazz during the Second World War, and after the war, along with his long-time associate, drummer Bobby Schmidt, formed a big band that originally played in the clubs of the occupying Allied Armed Forces and subsequently performed before German audiences.  

Edelhagen patterned his music after the big bands of Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie and, the man who was to become his idol, Stan Kenton. "Stan Kenton," said Joachim Ernst Berendt [the leading German authority on Jazz], "at that time was the last word in big band jazz and Kurt Edelhagen appeared to us from the beginning as the German response to the American challenge posed by Kenton." 

Edelhagen was a natural bandleader and his band did radio recordings for the American Forces Network (AFN) in Frankfurt/Main in 1948  He also headed ensembles for the radio station in Frankfurt, in Nuremberg (1949-1952) and most notably the orchestra of Sudwestfunk (1952-1957). 

It seems that Edelhagen’s big break came in March 1954 when he took his band on the weekly television series "Jazz Time Baden-Baden" which was produced and hosted by Joachim-Ernst Berendt. His appearance of the series made ​​the band known far beyond the southwest of Germany. Edelhagen performed along with numerous stars of the international jazz scene including Lionel Hampton, Mary Lou Williams and Chet Baker, among many others. Looking for a singer for his big band Edelhagen discovered Caterina Valente who joined his orchestra in 1953. Together they recorded her first album that same year.

Kurt with Elvis & Bill Haley, Frankfurt 1958
In 1957 Popular singer Tony Sandler recorded several songs, such as "Ik weet wat je vraagt", with his orchestra for the Polydor label. Below is one of my favourites from the band recorded in 1956.

In 1957 he joined Westdeustcher Rundfunk in Cologne which in time included such players as trumpeters Dusko Goykovich and Jimmy Deuchar, altoist Derek Humble, and trombonist Jiggs Whigham. He headed that band until it broke up in 1973 and remained semi-active up until near his death. Kurt Edelhagen recorded fairly often in Germany during 1949-1972 although few of his records (other than one put out by Golden Era) have been made available in the U.S. His Radio Orchestra played at the opening ceremony of the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Edelhagen died February 8, 1982 (age 61) in Cologne, Germany.

(Info edited from Wikipedia, Jazz Profiles  & AMG)