Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Willie Nelson born 30 April 1933

Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 29, 1933, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.), is an American songwriter and guitarist who is one of the most popular country music singers of the late 20th century.

Nelson learned to play guitar from his grandfather and at the age of 10 was performing at local dances. He served in the U.S. Air Force before becoming a disc jockey in Texas, Oregon, and California during the 1950s. He also was performing in public and writing songs then.

By 1961 he was based in Nashville, Tennessee, and playing bass in Ray Price’s band. Price was among the first of dozens of country, rhythm-and-blues, and popular singers to achieve hit records with Nelson’s 1960s tunes, which included the standards “Hello Walls,” “Night Life,” “Funny How Time Slips Away,” and, most famously, “Crazy.” By contrast, Nelson achieved only modest success as a singer in that decade.


In the early 1970s Nelson moved back to Texas and, with Waylon Jennings, spearheaded the country music movement known as outlaw music. Beginning with the narrative album Red Headed Stranger (1975), which featured the hit song “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” he became one of the most popular performers in 
country music as a whole. Nelson’s performances featured a unique sound, of which his relaxed behind-the-beat singing style and gut-string guitar were the most distinctive elements. Unusual for a country album, songs by Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, and other mainstream popular songwriters made up his Stardust (1978), which eventually sold more than five million copies in the United States.

Nelson found further crossover success with the album Always on My Mind (1982) and the single “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” (1984), a duet with Julio Iglesias. After making his film acting debut in The Electric Horseman (1979), Nelson appeared in such movies as Honeysuckle Rose 
(1980)—which introduced what would become his signature song, “On the Road Again”—and Red Headed Stranger (1986), a drama based on his album.

In 1990 the Internal Revenue Service, claiming Nelson owed $16.7 million in unpaid taxes, seized his assets. To raise money, he recorded the album The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories (1991), which initially was available only through phone orders but was sold in stores beginning in 1992. Despite that setback, he continued to record at a prolific pace into the 21st century. His subsequent albums included Across the Borderline (1993), the atmospheric Teatro (1998), and the reggae-tinged Countryman (2005).

As Nelson aged into the role of a musical elder statesman, his recordings increasingly focused on traditional songs and covers. Among them were Heroes (2012); Let’s Face the Music and Dance (2013), a collection of standards; To All the Girls… (2013), a series of duets with female singers; and Summertime (2016), a set of George Gershwin songs. In 2014 Nelson issued Band of Brothers, which comprised largely new material, and Willie’s Stash, Vol. 1: December Day, the first in a series of releases from his vast catalogue of recordings. The latter record focused on his collaborations with his sister and pianist, Bobbie. 
He later released two collections of original meditations on 
mortality, God’s Problem Child (2017) and Last Man Standing (2018).

Throughout his career he recorded with dozens of other singers and released album-length collaborations with such musicians as Jennings, Merle Haggard, and jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. He was the recipient of several Grammy Awards.

In addition to his own performance career, Nelson produced annual Fourth of July country music festivals in Texas and elsewhere, and in 1985 he co-founded Farm Aid, which organized festivals to raise money for farmers. Nelson was a well-known and enthusiastic connoisseur of marijuana, and, after a few states legalized the drug’s sale and purchase, he launched (2015) a marijuana supply company, Willie’s Reserve. He penned several memoirs (with coauthors), including Willie: An Autobiography (1988), Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road (2012), and It’s a Long Story: My Life (2015).

Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. He accepted a Kennedy Centre Honour in 1998, and in 2015 he received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

(Source from britannica.com)

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Francine Barker born 28 April 1947

Francine "Peaches" Hurd Barker (April 28, 1947 – August 13, 2005), was the original "Peaches" of the American vocalist duo Peaches and Herb.

Born in Washington, DC, in 1947, Francine Hurd earned the childhood nickname "Peaches" because of her genteel manner. As a schoolgirl she sang in numerous groups before joining the Keynotes as lead vocalist. Later, she formed her own trio, the Darlettes, with Dyanne Stewart and Nancy J. Johnson. Their recording debut, 1965's "Lost", written and produced by Van McCoy, was released on Mira, a subsidiary of the Mirwood label of Los Angeles. Later that year the group landed a contract with Columbia's new Date offshoot, who changed their name to the Sweet Things, issuing "You're My Loving Baby" early in 1966.

The Keynotes
At the group's next session, Van McCoy decided to also have Francine cut two duets with Herb Fame, another DC-based singer from his Daedalus Productions stable - Peaches & Herb were born. While the Sweet Things' second Date 45, the Motown-ish "I'm In A World Of Trouble", crept out unnoticed,
Peaches & Herb's revival of the oldie, "Let's Fall In Love", swept into the Top 20, at which point Francine quit the Sweet Things to form a full time duo with Fame. 


They  had a string of successful singles and albums over the next two years such as "Let's Fall in Love", "Close Your Eyes", "For Your Love", and "Love Is Strange". Within two years they had 
notched up a total of ten hits.Despite burgeoning success and a media image as the "Sweethearts of Soul", Barker chose to semi-
retire from the duo after two years because of the rigors of touring. Marlene Mack (aka Marlene Jenkins) replaced Barker on stage, but Barker remained on all of the duo's recordings for Date Records.

During this period, the semi-retired "Peaches" also worked as a solo artist using her married name, Francine Barker. She released three singles in total on the Columbia Records label, including "Angels in the Sky" and "Mister DJ" before marrying in 1970 and retiring from the record biz to raise a family. Herb Fame (born October 1, 1942) has remained a constant as "Herb" since the duo was created in 1966; seven different women have filled the role of "Peaches",

During 1995 Francine suffered from a brain aneurysm and stroke, and for the rest of her life was cared for by her husband and daughter. She died 13 Aug 2005 (aged 58) at Hyattsville, Prince George's County, Maryland.

(Edited from Wikipedia, Soulwalking and mainly from  bio by Mick Patrick@ Spectropop)

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Ruth Price born 27 April 1938

Ruth Price (born Edithea Brinton, April 27, 1938) is an American jazz singer and Artistic Director of the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, California. A talented singer Ruth Price has made relatively few recordings throughout her career.

As a girl in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Edithea Brinton was a
ballet prodigy.  She attended ballet school in 1952, but music called to her; in fact, it chose her.  The musicians around her couldn’t help but be impressed by her feeling for the music, especially when she sang.  With their encouragement she left dance and turned to singing full time, but not before she took the professional name of her dance teacher: Ruth Price. The hip monologist Lord Buckley made her a part of his floating “royal court” by dubbing her Princess Merry Legs.

In 1954, she sang with Charlie Ventura and later worked as a singer and dancer in Philadelphia and New York City. She moved to Hollywood in 1957, recorded a fine album with Shelly Manne (which has been reissued in the Original Jazz Classics series), but did not cut her second album as a leader until 1983 (for ITI).


By 1958, she gained national attention and came to L.A. to tape the weekly ABC TV show “Stars of Jazz,” hosted by Bobby Troup.  On a blind date with a rhythm section, she sang with pianist Victor Feldman, bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Stan Levey--sounding as though she’d been working with them for years.  Her full-throated alto glided over the rhythm, like a Lester Young saxophone line would.  A week later she was singing in Shelly Manne’s band.

As in Philadelphia, Price earned the respect of local musicians.  Her unmannered singing, wash-and-wear hairstyle and dedication to the music made her something more than just a “girl singer.”  She saw herself, and was treated in kind by musicians, as “one of the guys.” She toured with Harry James between 1964 and 1965.  As an actress she is known for Adam-12 (1968), The Swimming Pool (1969) and Banacek (1972).

A jazz poll winner, she is highly respected for her knowledge and performances of those rare gems in American popular song. Her wide expressive qualities do justice to any lyrics that she chooses to interpret,

The late 80’s found Ruth singing at clubs in the L.A. area such as The Vine St. Bar and Grill and Drake’s place in Glendale. A Times reporter characterized her as “the ideal blend of jazz vocalist and cabaret singer”. On 15 November 1987 Ruth married William Madison Thornbury. 

Retiring from professional singing in the '80s, Ms. Price found herself in possession of a grand piano, and decided to open up the non-profit Jazz Bakery in 1991. Initially featuring artists such as Walter Norris (who opened the club) on a weekend basis, she gradually expanded her bookings to featuring music every night.

She has invested her time in not only bringing top name talent, but lesser known musicians who she feels deserve wider exposure. The theatre atmosphere of the club has created a loyal following of both attentive listeners and dedicated jazz musicians, making the Bakery
one of the premier jazz venues. The JJA's West Coast Jazz Awards parties were held at the Jazz Bakery in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and couldn't have found a better home.

Although the venue lost its home in 2009, it relocated to Culver City in 2011 and continues to “honour legends and push boundaries” by producing concerts at some of the best local venues. It is described as “the most prestigious jazz space in Los Angeles.” Part of the reason for the success of this venue is Price’s own musical knowledge and good taste. She is an excellent jazz singer, instructor, and knows what it takes to create the right environment for music.

In recent years Price has also enjoyed the teaching experience. In addition to teaching at UCLA, she has taught at the renowned Dick Grove School of Music. She feels that her strong points as a vocal teacher are helping the students with diction and helping them to relax and incorporate natural movement while on stage, and most important, introducing them to the vast treasure trove of the “great American songbook.”

(Edited from LA Jazz Scene, schoolofmusic.ucla.edu, Wikipedia &  Jazz Journalists Association)

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Huey Long born 25 April 1904

Huey Long (April 25, 1904 – June 10, 2009) was an American jazz and R&B guitarist and singer who was a member of The Ink Spots. Long's career began in the 1920's as a banjoist before moving to guitar. He became a member of the Ink Spots in the 1940's and participated in spin-off bands in later decades.

He was born in Sealy, Texas (a farm town about 20 miles west of Houston). His brother Sam played ragtime piano, and Huey picked up the chords on his ukulele. He played in clubs around Houston whenever possible, but mostly he shined shoes at the Rice Hotel.

In 1925, Frank Davis and his Louisiana Jazz Band arrived at the hotel without a banjo player. Long realized that this could be his opportunity, except he didn't have a banjo. He obtained one on credit and joined the band for that date and several others. In 1933, Long played guitar with Texas Guinan's Cuban Orchestra for the show A Century Of Progress at the World's Fair in Chicago.

He worked as a session musician, playing with Lil Armstrong, the
divorced wife of Louis Armstrong, on her signature tune, "Just For A Thrill", and Richard M. Jones's Jazz Wizards. Over the next 10 years, he worked with the bands of Fletcher Henderson and Earl "Fatha" Hines and the singers, Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan.

In early 1945, while performing with his beloved D'Angelico guitar and a trio at the Three Deuces Café in Manhattan, he was approached by Bill Kenny, the leader of the Ink Spots. Unlike the Mills Brothers who specialised in vocal harmonies, the Ink Spots featured Kenny's high tenor with a deep-voiced narration and the other members wordlessly vocalising in 
the background. Their signature record, "If I Didn't Care", is a fine example, but in 1945, they had just recorded "I'm Beginning To See The Light" with a guest vocalist, Ella Fitzgerald.

The Ink Spots always had one member who also added chords on an acoustic guitar. In 1943, the original guitarist, Charlie Fuqua, had been drafted into the army and replaced by his childhood friend, Bernie Mackey. When Mackey left in 1945, Kenny needed to find a replacement quickly and recruited Long. To complicate matters, an original member, Deek Gordon had set up a rival band, the Brown Dots.


Long recorded several titles with the Ink Spots including "I'm Gonna Turn Off The Teardrops", "I'll Lose A Friend Tomorrow", "Just For Me", and best of all, the beautiful romantic ballad, "The Sweetest Dream". After just nine months, however, Fuqua, now
discharged, turned up at a show and wanted his job back.

Long played bebop with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and formed his own trio for entertaining troops in Korea and Japan. The doo-wop groups of the 1950s owed a debt to the Ink Spots and they were deservedly, but surprisingly, inducted in the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989.

Rather than disappearing in the 1960's, the reverse happened and it seemed that everybody who had been in the Ink Spots was fronting his own group, usually called a variant of the New Ink Spots or, if 
they thought they could get away with it, the Ink Spots. Long fronted one of these tribute acts and then taught music in New York during the 70’s. In later years, as arthritis stiffened his fingers, Long taught himself to play the piano.

He returned to Houston in 1996 and helped his daughter, Anita, establish an Ink Spots Museum, which opened across the road from his home. It magnified Long's tenure with the group, but never mind, right up to his death; customers had the opportunity to meet a real Ink Spot. He would tell them, "God's been good to me."

Huey Long died in Houston, Texas at the age of 105 on June 10, 2009.

(Edited from Wikipedia and mainly obit by Spencer Leigh @ The Independent)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Dick Rivers born 24 April 1945

Dick Rivers (born Hervé Forneri, 24 April 1945 – 24 April 2019) was a French singer and actor who began performing in the early 1960s. He was an important figure in introducing rock and roll music in France. He is known for being an admirer of Elvis Presley, who highly influenced both his singing and looks. His stage name 
came from the character Deke Rivers that Presley played in his second film, Loving You (1957). During his fifty-five year career, he recorded 33 studio albums and 3 live albums.

Rivers was born in Nice, France, and started his music career in 1961 as the lead singer of the band Les Chats Sauvages, cutting his first record on his fifteenth birthday. In 1961, the British music magazine, NME, reported that a Rivers concert with his group Les Chats Sauvages at the Palais des Sports de Paris, whilst headlining with Vince Taylor, had turned into a full-scale riot. Rivers left Les Chats Sauvages in 1962 to pursue a solo career.

His first album, Baby John, was released in November 1962. From then on it was a long list of albums and fruitful collaborations that punctuated his repertoire. An avid admirer of Gene Vincent and Elvis Presley , Dick Rivers with Johnny Hallyday and Eddy Mitchell popularized rock 'n' roll in France . Dick recorded French adaption’s of Beatles standards but one of his biggest hits of 1963 is without doubt “Tu n’es plus la” a French adaptation of Blue Bayou by Roy Orbison. 


In November 1964, Dick shared the bill with the Beach Boys at the Olympia in Paris, during a Musicorama . The following year, the singer released the French version of the Moody Blues hit, Go now which reached the first place in the hit-parade of Hello friends , the famous TV show.

Dick Rivers was the only French artist to be invited by John Lennon and Paul McCartney to appear on their show "The Music of Lennon & McCartney" for Granada TV in Manchester on December 17, 1965. In 1967, he received a gold record for “Viens me faire oublie” which reached No. 1 in Canada.

While he had already some 5 million records sold to his credit Dick Rivers left for the United States in 1967, and recorded an album with rhythm and blues musicians. The “Dick Rivers story” was recorded in the Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama and remains one of the best albums of that era. In 1969, he met his idol Elvis Presley after a concert in Las Vegas for a chat.

In the 1970s, he co-directed some albums with Alain Bashung including “The Rock Machine” “Rockin’ Along.”  “The River's Country Side”and“Rock & Roll Star.”. The year 1982 marked the reunion with his ex-acolytes of the Wild Cats with the album, Wild Cats.

On several occasions, Dick Rivers has tried to break his image of a rocker by animating a musical program for several years between 1982 and 1992 on Radio Monte Carlo. In the early 90s, he realized his American dream and recorded in Austin, Texas, a tribute album to Buddy Holly, rock pioneer, Holly days in Austin (1991).

In the cinema, he acted under the direction of Jean-Pierre Mocky, in The candid Madame Duff (1999) and The Furet (2003) . In 2004, he went on stage for Jean Genet's play Les paravents, played at the Théâtre national de Chaillot.

In 2006, the new generation of French songs appeared on his album soberly titled Dick Rivers, on which Benjamin Biolay, Matthieu Chedid, or Mickey 3D collaborated. In 2011, he celebrated his 50-year career with the release of an album and a confession book, Mister D , and then toured all over France.

In May 2014, his album, Rivers, was released. Unfortunately, his planned tour in 2015 was cancelled due to Dick suffering a traumatic injury from a bad fall on a staircase. In 2017 he recorded “Africa” with Julien Dore.. In 2018, Dick Rivers participated in the "Age of Tender" tour, with other stars of the '60s and' 70s.

He died of cancer on April 24, 2019, the day he turned 74.

(Edited from various French translations mainly from Wikipedia & Gala magazine)

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Shirley Temple Black born 23 April 1928

Shirley Temple Black, nee Shirley “Jane” Temple (born April 23, 1928, Santa Monica, California, U.S.—died February 10, 2014, Woodside, California), was an American actress and public official She was an internationally popular child star of the 1930s, best known for sentimental musicals. For much of the decade, she was one of Hollywood’s greatest box-office attractions.

Encouraged to perform by her mother, Temple began taking dance lessons at age three and was soon appearing in Baby Burlesks, a series of one-reel comedies in which children were cast in adult roles. In 1934 she gained recognition in her first major feature film, the musical Stand Up and Cheer!, and later that year she had her first starring role, in Little Miss Marker, a family comedy based on a short story by Damon Runyon. Her other credits from 1934 included Change of Heart; Now I’ll Tell, which starred Spencer Tracy as a gambler; and Now and Forever, a romantic drama featuring Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard.


However, it was arguably Bright Eyes (1934) that propelled her to stardom. The musical was specifically made for Temple—who was cast as an orphan, which became a frequent role—and in it she sang one of her most popular songs,“On the Good Ship Lollipop.” Many claimed that Bright Eyes saved Fox Film Corporation from bankruptcy. 

By the end of 1934 Temple was one of Hollywood’s top stars, and the following year she received a special Academy Award as “the outstanding personality of 1934.” Temple’s popularity was partly seen as a response to the Great Depression. With her spirited singing and dancing and her dimples and blond ringlets, Temple and her optimistic films provided a welcome escape from difficult times.

Temple became Hollywood’s top box-office attraction in 1935, and
she held that honour through 1938. During that time she starred in such hits as The Little Colonel (1935), the first of several musicals featuring dancer Bill Robinson; Curly Top (1935); John Ford’s Wee Willie Winkie (1937); Heidi (1937), based on the children’s book by Johanna Spyri; and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938). Her overwhelming popularity resulted in the creation of a doll made in her likeness and a non-alcoholic beverage named for her. By the end of the 1930s, however, Temple’s popularity had begun to wane, and after The Blue Bird (1940) failed to attract a large audience, her contract with 20th Century-Fox was dropped.

Ronald Reagan and Shirley Temple in "That Hagen Girl"
In 1945, at the age of 17, she married John Agar, who launched an acting career of his own while Temple appeared in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, and That Hagen Girl (1947), with Ronald Reagan. In 1949 Temple made her last feature film, A Kiss for Corliss. She later made a brief return to entertainment with a popular television show, Shirley Temple’s Storybook, in 1957–59 and the less successful Shirley Temple Show in 1960.

After her marriage to Agar ended in 1949, Temple married (1950) businessman Charles A. Black. As Shirley Temple Black, she became active in civic affairs and Republican politics. In 1967 she ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. From 1969 to 1970 she was a delegate to the UN General Assembly. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972, Black was one of the first celebrities to go public about having the illness. She then served as U.S. ambassador to Ghana (1974–76), chief of protocol for Pres. Gerald Ford (1976–77), and member of the U.S. Delegation on African Refugee Problems in 1981. From 1989 to 1992 she served as ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Black remained active in international affairs, serving on the board of directors of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, among other organizations.

In recognition of her acting career and public service, the Screen Actors Guild presented Black with a life achievement award in 2005. Her autobiographies include My Young Life (1945) and Child Star (1988).

Temple died at age 85 on February 10, 2014, at her home in Woodside, California. The cause of death, according to her death certificate released on March 3, 2014, was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).Temple was a lifelong smoker but avoided displaying her habit in public because she did not want to set a bad example for her fans.

(Edited from Wikipedia but mainly britannica.com)

Monday, 22 April 2019

Bull Moose Jackson born 22 April 1919

Benjamin Clarence "Bull Moose" Jackson (April 22, 1919 – July 31, 1989) was an American blues and rhythm-and-blues singer and saxophonist, who was most successful in the late 1940s. He is considered a performer of dirty blues because of the suggestive  nature of some of his songs, such as "I Want a Bowlegged Woman" and "Big Ten Inch Record".

Jackson was born Benjamin Joseph Jackson in Cleveland, Ohio. He played violin as a child but quickly became drawn to the saxophone and started his first band, the Harlem Hotshots, while he was still in high school. In 1943, he was recruited as a saxophonist by the bandleader Lucky Millinder, and the musicians in Millinder's band gave him the nickname "Bull Moose" for his appearance. He began singing when he was required to stand in for Wynonie Harris at a show in Texas.

Millinder encouraged Jackson to sign a solo contract with Syd Nathan of King Records to play rhythm and blues. The first recording in his own right was "I Know Who Threw the Whiskey", in 1946, an answer song to Millinder's "Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well". The following year, his recording of "I Love You, Yes I Do" reputedly became the first R&B single to sell a million copies, holding the number 1 spot on the R&B chart for three weeks and crossing over to the pop chart, where it reached number 24.


He formed his own group, the Buffalo Bearcats, and over the next five years recorded in a wide variety of musical styles, including both romantic crooning and bawdy jump blues. His big hits in 1948 included the double-sided hit "All My Love Belongs to You" / "I Want a Bowlegged Woman", and his biggest R&B chart hit, "I
Can't Go on Without You", which stayed at number 1 on the R&B chart for eight weeks. He also made an appearance in the 1948 film Boarding House Blues, with Millinder.

In 1949, Jackson covered "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me", a song that been successful for Wayne Raney and also for several country-and-western performers. Jackson toured throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s. Around 1951, his band included the bebop composer and arranger Tadd Dameron on piano and Benny Golson, another jazz musician, on saxophone.

Some of Jackson's later risqué material, including "Big Ten Inch Record" and "Nosey Joe" (written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller), caused a sensation during live performances but were too suggestive for the radio, and few of the records were sold. However, his band faithfully played "Big Ten Inch Record" at every show.

Jackson kept recording for King Records until 1954 and had a total of 34 singles issued on Queen/King between 1945 and 1955. Credit on the label usually went to “Bull Moose Jackson And His Buffalo Bearcats”, a slimmed-down version of the Lucky Millinder orchestra. The rock n roll years were not good to Bullmoose and he had very few releases between 1955 and 1960. In 1960-61 he 

recorded for Morty Craft’s Warwick label and its 7 Arts subsidiary. A re-recording of “I Love You Yes I Do” (1961) returned him to the charts for the last time..

Jackson was virtually out of the music business by 1962 although he occasionally still performed at private parties. He later managed food service at Howard University in Washington, D.C. In a strange twist of fate, the ageing Jackson was lured back on stage after a Pittsburgh rock band named The Flashcats, scored a local hit with “Nosey Joe” in 1983.

The concerts with the Flashcats made him something of a cult figure around Pittsburgh. A new single, “Get Off the Table, Mabel (The Two Dollars Is For the Beer)” got an enthusiastic reception and was followed by an album with the Flashcats, “Moosemania!”. The 1980s proved to be the most successful decade of Jackson’s career. He played Carnegie Hall in 1985, toured Europe as a special guest of The Johnny Otis Show, and thrilled stateside audiences from coast to coast.

In 1987, though, Bull Moose got sick. Stricken with cancer, he performed his final show in Pittsburgh on April 23, 1988. An old girlfriend, who had read about Jackson’s fame, came to care for him during the last days of his life.

Bull Moose Jackson died July 31, 1989, in Cleveland

(Mainly edited from Wikipedia & Black Cat Rockabily)