Monday, 31 December 2018

Alvis Wayne born 31 December 1937

Alvis Wayne (December 31, 1937 – July 31, 2013) was an American rockabilly singer.

Although he's not necessarily the most renowned rockabilly artist, Alvis Wayne was an early contributor to the scene. Born in Puduka, TX, on December 31st, 1937, Wayne was part of a large family, and grew up very poor during the infamous Great Depression era. Alvis Wayne’s first love was music.  He discovered country and 
blues via the radio, especially such artists as Jimmie Rodgers, the Mississippi Blue Yodler, Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold, and Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys.

He worked on his aunt’s and uncle’s farm pulling corn to earn the money to buy his first guitar. He was 10 years old. He learned to play rhythm guitar and later drums and bass.  The High School that Alvis attended as a teenager was Sundeen High in Corpus Christi, although a fairly bright student, he had no interest in school whatsoever and he eventually dropped it to go out on the road.

When he was 20, he had joined a group called Tony Wayne & the Rhythm Wranglers, who issued a lone single in 1957. The group split up shortly thereafter, but Wayne continued to play with others leading to his own recording contract with Westport Records. In 1958, Wayne recorded an album's worth of tunes (although no full-length album was ever issued), and one of the tracks, "Don't Mean Maybe Baby," was a hit in South Texas where it held the number one spot for six weeks knocking off a certain Mr. Presley.  He later toured south Texas working five shows with Elvis.  He worked package shows from the Louisiana Hayride with Bob Luman, Johnny Horton, and Slim Whitman.


In 1960 Wayne, then 22, joined the Air Force and spent the next four years training as a mechanic and obtaining his GED (General Education Diploma). Even while serving the country, though, Wayne continued performing when he could. He was stationed at 
Warner Robins air force base, which was about eighteen miles out of Macon, Georgia. While he was there he teamed up with Jimmy Harris and his band for a live, Saturday afternoon broadcast on WCRY radio and also played in Harris’s nightclub on evenings and weekends.

After being discharged from the AF, he worked many jobs including Car Sales, Braniff International and many different construction crafts from carpenter to Superintendent. Although he worked at many professions, his first love was music. Nevertheless, Wayne could see he was heading towards a dead end professionally and his personal life was tumultuous—he was married and divorced three times between the ages of 18 and 22

While stationed in Macon, Georgia he won a talent contest and was offered a contract with Capitol Records.  Unfortunately the Air Force would not let him sign it and after he was discharged no one seemed interested in his music.  He played country music over the next several years and cut a few more records but could never get the momentum he had in the 50’s with Rockabilly music. Over the next few years he devoted himself to raising a family but he always had a band on the side to fulfil his need to entertain.

In September 1994, Perry Williamson of Pink & Black Records issued the artist’s first long playing album. With the help of Ronny Weiser and John Beecher the LP gathered all of the Westport and Rollin’ Rock material.

A cult following began to grow (especially in the U.K.) due to his underappreciated '50s singles and in 1999 he received a call from a producer in England. He was asked if he would be interested in playing a show in England. He said yes and went on to perform shows in England, Sweden, Germany and Finland.  In the United States he performed at Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender, New Orleans, and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Wayne experienced a late-life career resurgence when Rockin’ Ronnie Weiser, founder of Rollin’ Rock Records, tracked him down in Texas. Weiser then produced and released two acclaimed Alvis Wayne albums, 2000’s 
Rockabilly Daddy and 2001’s I’m So Proud of My Rockabilly Roots, that brought the artist some measure of recognition denied him in his younger years.

During 2008 due to complications from being stung by fire ants, he had to have part of his left leg removed (according to his nephew on Myspace). Later when Wayne was diagnosed with liver cancer, emails came from all over the world brightening his last few days.  He passed away July 31, 2013 at the age of 75 at his home in Bacliff, Texas. 

(Edited from Deeproots mag, AllMusic  & Carnes obit)

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Frank Motley born 30 December 1923

Frank Motley, Jr. (December 30, 1923 – May 31, 1998) was an American R&B and jazz musician and bandleader who worked in Canada for much of his career. His main instrument was the trumpet, on which he was known for playing two simultaneously. He also sang, and played trombone.

Born in Cheraw, South Carolina, Motley took trumpet lessons when young from Dizzy Gillespie, who was from the same town. He developed a technique of playing two trumpets at the same time, becoming known as "Dual Trumpet" and "Two Horn" Motley. He took a degree in mechanical engineering at South Carolina State College, before joining the military and performing in the Navy Band entertaining troops in the Pacific. After the end of the war he played in nightclubs in New York City before settling in Washington, D.C. and forming his own band in 1949.

He recorded extensively for Lillian Claiborne's DC Records from 1951, and many of his recordings were licensed to other labels including RCA Victor and Specialty. His band, the Motley Crew, included singer and keyboardist Curley Bridges, drummer Thomas E. ‘TNT’ Tribble, and vocalist Elsie "Angel Face" Kenley (1930–1991). From 1952, Motley and his band played mainly in Canada. He married and toured Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal.. The group was so well received that the 

base of operations was shifted to Toronto almost immediately. Nevertheless he also continued to perform and record in the US.

In the fall of 1958 Motley toured with a travelling USO show called "Swinging Along". No tour itinerary has been found, but the show visited military bases in Europe and also Lebanon, where U.S. troops were currently deployed.


Among his many records "Honkin' At Midnight" may very well be Motley's greatest track, but it's far from his only memorable tune. His biggest commercial success came in 1963, when his version of William Bell's song "Any Other Way", which he recorded with vocalist Jackie Shane for Cookin’, a small local label in Boston and then liceneced to the important Sue label. Shane was 
a pioneer of transgender rights, born in a male body but unabashedly living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable. The record met with some success in the United States and with huge success in Canada where it climbed to number 2 on the local Toronto pop chart. The first Motley LP, which was recorded in Montreal — and exclusively released in Canada in 1963, featuring vocals by Jackie Shane, Curly Bridges, Larry Ellis and Frank Motley himself – was a popular release that proved to be a very influential must-have platter for many budding Montreal musicians at the time.

He disbanded the Motley Crew in 1966 and formed a new band in Toronto, the Hitch-Hikers, at first with Shane and then with singer Earle "The Mighty Pope" Heedram. Following a parting of the ways with the group in 1970, Motley continued to gig with various line-ups, most notably as Frank Motley and the Bridge Crossing. During 1985, in declining health and with club work having dried up, Motley returned to the United States to be near his daughters in Durham, Nort Carolina. However he maintained his interest in music and continued to play in local dance bands.

Frank passed away in Durham on May 31, 1998 aged 74.

(Edited from Wikipedia & Bill Munson @ The Blues Encyclopedia)

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Jerry Summers born 29 December 1942

Jerry Summers (born Jerome David Gross) 29 December 1942 is a founder member and lead singer with the Dovells.

The Dovells were a rock vocal group formed in Philadelphia, PA, in 1957, as The Brooktones (taking their name from Overbrook High School, which all its members attended). The original members were lead singer Len Barry, Jerry Summers, Mike Freda, Arnie 
Satin, Jim Mealey and Mark Gordesky. They started to get dates singing at various school functions and every so often at a local record store owned by John Madara, who was also a songwriter (he co-wrote "At the Hop" for Danny and the Juniors). The group recorded a song called "No, No, No", which got some local play, but they remained little known outside the Philadelphia area and soon broke up.

While Summers and Freda formed another group, The Gems, Barry and the others negotiated with other producers and labels, including noted Philly producer Robert P. Marcucci and his Chancellor 
Len Barry, Arnie Silver, Jerry Summers, Mike Freda, Jim Meeley.
Records, which was the label to such rock stars as Frankie Avalon and Fabian. They also added William Skunkwiler and Jerry Sirlin to replace the departed Summers and Freda. In late 1960 they auditioned for Philly's Cameo/Parkway Records, which liked what
it heard and immediately signed them. Lead singer Barry asked Summers and Freda to rejoin the group, and they did. Cameo/Parkway co-owner Bernie Lowe told the group they needed a new name, and he suggested they rename themselves The 
Deauvilles (after a famous hotel in Miami Beach). The members liked the sound of the name but thought it would be too hard to spell, so they changed it to The Dovells.

Their first record was to be a cover of a 1957 ballad by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers called "Out in the Cold Again", but during production a Cameo promotions man came into the studio and told the producers about a new dance that kids at a dance hall in Bristol--a suburb of Philadelphia--were doing, called "The Stomp". He brought along a copy of a record cut by some students called "Every Day of the Week" and played it for 
them. The producers liked it, stopped the session, went home that night and the next day came back with a song called "The Bristol Stomp" ("Out in the Cold Again" became that record's "B" side). The song, released in late 1961, eventually got to #2 on the Billboard charts and later went to #1 on the CashBox and R&B charts. The group's follow-up songs, all dance tunes, made it to the charts, although not as successful as "Bristol Stomp".


In January 1963 they released their second true smash, the driving "You Can't Sit Down", hitting the top 5 on both pop and R&B charts. The follow-up to that song, "Betty in Bermudas", however, only made it to #50. Not long after afterwards the band heard a tape of a song by an unknown English band that had been leased to a 
small US label, Swan Records (co-owned by Philadelphia personality Dick Clark). They liked the song and recorded it, but Cameo Records kept putting off its release and nothing ever came of it. The unknown English group, as it turns out, was The Beatles and the song was "She Loves You". The Dovells' version of it remains unreleased.

The group toured with some of the biggest acts of the day, including Fabian, Jackie Wilson and Chubby Checker, and worked as backup singers for several of Cameo's recording stars (they're the vocal group on Checker's "Let's Twist Again"). Eventually, however, the pressures of touring and tensions within the group resulted in Barry leaving in December of 1963.

Barry signed with Decca Records and in 1965 released his biggest solo hit, "1-2-3", which hit #2 on the Billboard charts. His two follow-up songs made it to the Top 40, but were not as successful as his first one. The group continued as a trio and recorded with 
varying degrees of success (they appeared in a low-budget rock film, Don't Knock the Twist (1962)), and in 1974  recorded a cover of "Dancin' in the Street," which had been a huge hit for Martha and the Vandellas ten years before in 1964, but their version -- for the Event label -- barely charted at number 105. They continued to perform until Satin gave notice that he, too, would be leaving the group. Stevens and Summers decided to continue, having band members filling in on vocals and developing a Dean Martin/Jerry 
Jerrry Summers  & Mark Stevens
Lewis-styled stage act to go with their million-selling hits. This approach enabled them to work for another 16 weeks a year in Las Vegas.

In 1991, Len Barry rejoined for two reunion performances. Summer and Stevens continue to perform nationally and internationally and have performed for former president Bill Clinton twice at inaugural balls. Summers also produces corporate events and runs an advertising agency when not performing with the Dovells.

(Edited from IMDb  mini bio)

Friday, 28 December 2018

Earl Hines born 28 December 1903

Earl Kenneth Hines, universally known as Earl "Fatha" Hines (December 28, 1903 – April 22, 1983), was an American jazz pianist and bandleader. He was one of the most influential figures in the development of jazz piano and, according to one major source, is "one of a small number of pianists whose playing shaped the history of jazz

Once called "the first modern jazz pianist," Earl Hines differed from the stride pianists of the 1920s by breaking up the stride rhythms with unusual accents from his left hand. While his right hand often played octaves so as to ring clearly over ensembles, Hines had the trickiest left hand in the business, often suspending time recklessly but without ever losing the beat.

One of the all-time great pianists, Hines was a major influence on Teddy Wilson, Jess Stacy, Joe Sullivan, Nat King Cole, and even to an extent on Art Tatum. He was also an underrated composer responsible for "Rosetta," "My Monday Date," and "You Can Depend on Me," among others.

Earl Hines played trumpet briefly as a youth before switching to piano. His first major job was accompanying vocalist Lois Deppe, and he made his first recordings with Deppe and his orchestra in 1922. The following year, Hines moved to Chicago where he worked with Sammy Stewart and Erskine Tate's Vendome Theatre Orchestra. He started teaming up with Louis Armstrong in 1926, and the two masterful musicians consistently inspired each other. Hines worked briefly in Armstrong's big band (formerly headed by Carroll Dickerson), and they unsuccessfully tried to manage their own club.

Earl Hines & His Orchestra
1928 was one of Hines' most significant years. He recorded his first ten piano solos, including versions of "A Monday Date," "Blues in Thirds," and "57 Varieties." Hines worked much of the year with Jimmy Noone's Apex Club Orchestra, and their recordings are also considered classic. Hines cut brilliant (and futuristic) sides with Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, resulting in such timeless gems as "West End Blues," "Fireworks," "Basin Street Blues," and their remarkable trumpet-piano duet "Weather Bird." And on his birthday on December 28, Hines debuted with his big 
band at Chicago's Grand Terrace.

A brilliant ensemble player as well as soloist, Earl Hines would lead big bands for the next 20 years. Among the key players in his band through the 1930s would be trumpeter/vocalist Walter Fuller, Ray Nance on trumpet and violin (prior to joining Duke Ellington), trombonist Trummy Young, tenor saxophonist Budd Johnson, Omer Simeon and Darnell Howard on reeds, and arranger Jimmy Mundy.


In 1940, Billy Eckstine became the band's popular singer, and in 1943 (unfortunately during the musicians' recording strike), Hines welcomed such modernists as Charlie Parker (on tenor), trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, and singer Sarah Vaughan in what was the first bebop orchestra. By the time the strike ended, Eckstine, Parker, Gillespie, and Vaughan were gone, but tenor Wardell Gray was still around to star with the group during 1945-1946.

Earl Hines (piano) and Louis Armstrong (trumpet) at a 1948 jam session in Rome. They're joined by Jack Teagarden (trombone) and a host of local artists.

In 1948, the economic situation forced Hines to break up his 
orchestra. He joined the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, but three years of playing second fiddle to his old friend were difficult to take. 
After leaving Armstrong in 1951, Hines moved to Los Angeles and later San Francisco, heading a Dixieland band. Although his style was much more modern, Hines kept the group working throughout the 1950s, at times featuring Muggsy Spanier, Jimmy Archey, and Darnell Howard.

Hines did record on a few occasions, but was largely forgotten in the jazz world by the early '60s. Then, in 1964, jazz writer Stanley Dance arranged for him to play three concerts at New York's Little Theatre, both solo and in a quartet with Budd Johnson. The New 
York critics were amazed by Hines' continuing creativity and vitality, and he had a major comeback that lasted through the rest of his career. During his years as an elder statesman of jazz, Hines’s dazzling technique remained as strong as ever, and his performance at the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival revealed his continued openness to new ideas.

Hines travelled the world with his quartet, recorded dozens of albums, and remained famous and renowned up until his death. Throughout his career, Earl Hines endeavoured to improve his already impeccable piano-playing ability. In the later years of his life, he suffered from heart problems and arthritis. Hines played his last show in San Francisco. One week later, Earl Hines died in Oakland, California on April 22, 1983, from a heart attack at the age of 79.

(Edited mainly from Scott Yanow @ AllMusic with added input from Wikipedia & Jazz At The Library )

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Anna Russell born 27 December 1911

Anna Russell (born Anna Claudia Russell-Brown; 27 December 1911 – 18 October 2006) was an English–Canadian singer and comedian. She gave many concerts in which she sang and played comic musical sketches on the piano. Among her best-known works are her concert performances and famous recordings of The Ring of the Nibelungs (An Analysis) – a humorous 22-minute synopsis of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen – and (on the same album) her parody How to Write Your Own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera.

Russell was born in London, England, though her long association with Canada meant that her birthplace was sometimes given as London, Ontario. Her father, Claud Russell Brown, was an enthusiastic pianist; her Canadian mother, Beatrice, had a difficult relationship with her only child, referring to her as "Toad". But the family soon noted Anna's musical abilities. Taken to the premiere of William Walton's Façade in 1923, she was entranced by Edith Sitwell's nonsense lyrics, and started to compose and write songs herself.

An accident on the hockey field at St Felix school, Southwold, resulted in a fractured nose and cheekbone, which "had to be reconditioned from the inside, and it ruined my acoustics". At the Royal College she studied composition with Ralph Vaughan 
Williams. Another of her teachers was Arthur Benjamin, but it was the principal, Sir Hugh Allen, who suggested she would be better off auditioning at the London Palladium.

Although she made some appearances as a concert singer in the 1930s, it was a disastrous experience as an understudy in a touring production of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana that first showed Russell what could be made of operatic parody. As the tragic heroine, she was supposed to be cast to the floor by the diminutive tenor; not anticipating her to be so heavy, he fell himself, bringing down part of the scenery, and causing such merriment that the performance came to a halt.

At the start of the second world war, she went to her mother's family in Canada, and after one false start in the chorus of a musical comedy, found her first celebrity on a radio programme entitled Round the Marble Arch. As a comic folksinger, she launched such songs as Don Bonzo Alfonzo the Matador (with castanets) and I'd be a Red-Hot Mama if I hadn't got these Varicose Veins. Christmas Box concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra were followed after the war by a New York debut at the Carnegie Recital Hall and a one-woman show at the Vanderbilt theatre.

During these early touring seasons, Russell launched some of her most famous skits: How to Write your own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera, For Loud Singers with no Brains (introducing the aria, Ah, Lover, from the mythical operetta The Prince of Philadelphia), For Singers with Tremendous Artistry but no Voice (with a German lied, Schlumpf, and a French chanson, Je n'ai pas la plume de ma tante).

Her greatest triumph, though, came with her lecture on Wagner's Ring cycle. This included such celebrated moments as her description of Wotan and Erda: "Weiche, Wotan, Weiche, which means be careful, Wotan. She then bears him eight daughters." Once Siegfried has met Gutrune in Götterdämmerung, Russell reminded her listeners, "She's the only woman that Siegfried's ever come across who isn't his aunt."

When challenged by Wagnerites who felt she was ridiculing sacred art, she replied: "I merely tell the story as accurately as possible and play the bits of music exactly as written. I can't help it if the story is absurd." The doyen of Wagner critics, Ernest Newman, complimented her accuracy, and Birgit Nilsson, the foremost Brünnhilde of the time, recommended her 
students to listen to Russell in order to lose their inhibitions. Russell received the Canadian Women's Press Club Award in 1956 as the best Canadian comedy writer of the year.

Later parodies included a folksong, I Gave my Love a Cherry Without a Pit, in which she accompanied herself on an Irish harp. When the instrument was unexpectedly confiscated at US customs, she went on stage and mimed it, thereafter including this as part of the act. In Wind Instruments I have Known, she claimed to have learned to play the the bagpipes - "a most unsanitary instrument" - from the Encyclopedia Brittanica.


Here’s “For Singers With Tremendous Artistry But No Voice: Schlumph; Ja N'ai Pas La Plume De Ma Tante” from above EP.

Not everyone was enchanted. The American composer Ned Rorem, for example, bracketed Russell with Liberace as a "musical grotesque". None the less, she toured the world, always returning to Canada. She announced her retirement in 1986, but as late as 1998 
made a guest appearance at the Ford Centre, Toronto. By then she had moved to Unionville, where a street was named after her. Her books include The Power of Being a Positive Stinker (1955), The Anna Russell Songbook (1960), and I'm Not Making This Up, You Know (1985), the last her Wagner catch-phrase.

Both her marriages ended in divorce. Her happiest association was with Deirdre Prussak, a fan who became her secretary and a "sort of adopted daughter" and who cared for her in her final years. They were friends for 51 years. In her last years she moved to Australia where she lived in Batemans Bay, New South Wales, until her death from natural causes on October 18 2006 (aged 94).

(Edited mainly from article in The Guardian by Patrick O'Connor with a sprinkling of Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Bashful Brother Oswald born 26 December 1911

Beecher Ray Kirby (December 26, 1911–October 17, 2002), better known as Bashful Brother Oswald, was an American country musician who popularized the use of the resonator guitar and Dobro. He played with Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Beecher Ray Kirby was born in rural Sevier County, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains. His father, G. W. Kirby, was an Appalachian folk musician who played fiddle and banjo. As a child, Kirby learned to play guitar and banjo and sang gospel music. By his teens, he was playing for square dances. In the late 1920s, Kirby followed the path of many people from the Appalachian region and moved to the northern United States to find work. He went to Flint, Michigan and worked on the Buick assembly line. He lost his job, though, in the economic downturn of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Kirby then returned to music, playing at informal square dance parties held in the homes of other transplanted southerners. It was at one such party that Kirby met a Hawaiian guitarist named Rudy Waikiki. With the music of Hawaii, played by Sol Hoʻopiʻi and other performers, gaining in popularity; Kirby bought his first resonator guitar, an early National model, and joined in the trend, playing in bars, cafes and beer gardens. He visited the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, playing in clubs and gaining a following. Some of the clubs he played in were owned by Al Capone.

In a bid to find more steady work, Kirby moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1934. Taking the stage name Pete Kirby, he played resonator guitar with local bands, among them Roy Acuff's Crazy Tennesseans, later to become the Smoky Mountain Boys. Acuff joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1938, and Kirby joined the Opry with Acuff's band on New Year's Day 1939. 

Pete Kirby (Oswald) and Rachel Veach (Sister Rachel).
It was with the Acuff band that Kirby became introduced as Bashful Brother Oswald, with Kirby posing as the brother of the band's banjoist, Rachel Veach ("Queen of the Hills"), so that it would appear to audiences that the unmarried Veach was being chaperoned by a family member. To fit his new persona, Kirby created the clownish Oswald character, wearing a floppy, wide-brimmed hat, tattered bib overalls, oversized work shoes and adopting a braying laugh.

Featured on the nationwide broadcasts of the Opry, Oswald created a sensation playing his resonator guitar on such songs as "Old Age Pension Check". The instrument, developed in the late 1920s, was still relatively new. Oswald and the Acuff band were featured in a Hollywood film, Grand Ole Opry for Republic Pictures, which gave the instrument even greater exposure. "People couldn't understand how I played it and what it was, and they'd always want to come around and look at it."

In addition to his guitar and banjo playing, Oswald was a vocalist, and his tenor voice can be heard on Acuff's hit songs, "Precious Jewel" and "Wreck on the Highway". Oswald began his career as a solo artist and session musician in the 1960s.


He released his self-titled debut album in 1962 on Starday Records. He joined the Rounder Records label in the 1970s, releasing around a half dozen albums over the years until his last recording, Carry Me Back, in 1999.

His session work included working with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on Will the Circle Be Unbroken, an album that paid tribute to the old-time, traditional country musicians of Nashville, Tennessee, Roy Acuff, Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, Doc Watson and others. Bill Monroe declined to participate. Solo tracks by Kirby on Circle include "The End of the World" and his own composition, "Sailin' to Hawaii". Oswald was also present for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's follow-up album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two in 1989, singing backing vocals on the title track.

Oswald was the sole member of the 1939 Smoky Mountain Boys that still accompanied Acuff at the time of Acuff's death in 1992. With former Smoky Mountain Boys band-mate Charlie Collins, Oswald formed the musical comedy duo "Os and Charlie", which was a fixture at the Opryland theme park and on the Grand Ole Opry.

He participated in 1994's The Great Dobro Sessions album, featured alongside such other resonator guitarists as Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas, Josh Graves, Rob Ickes, Tut Taylor and Gene Wooten. Gibson Guitar Corporation, owner of the Dobro brand of resonator guitars, created a "Brother Oswald" signature series Dobro in 1995. The model has since been retired.

Oswald died on October 17, 2002, at his home in Madison, Tennessee, at the age of 90. (Edited from Wikipedia)