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Music for a royal wedding

April 27th, 2011 10 comments

The alert reader might have noticed that one William von Saxe-Coburg und Gotha is going to marry his blushing bride Catherine on Friday. Perhaps young William is better known by his family”s stage name Windsor, the name of one of the joints his family owns, chosen in order to distance the family from its German provenance during World War I.

This blog likes a good wedding, and in the spirit of the nuptial celebration would like to offer Wilhelm and his Frau a few sincerely selected party tunes for the reception, to be played when the wedding band takes a break from doing Come On Eileen. We mean it, man.

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The Redskins ““ Bring It Down (This Inane Thing) (1985).mp3
“You”ve never had it so good; the favourite phrase of those who”ve always had it better. You never had so much, is the cry of those who”ve always had much more, much more than you and I. Burn brother burn, fight together, this altogether”s an insane thing, insane thing. Bring it down.”

The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Colours (1988).mp3
“I was woken from my misery by the words of Thomas Paine. On my barren soil they fell like the sweetest drops of rain. Red is the colour of the new republic, blue is the colour of the sea, white is the colour of my innocence, not surrender to your mercy.”

Stone Roses – Elizabeth My Dear (1989).mp3
“Tear me apart and boil my bones, I”ll not rest till she’s lost her throne. My aim is true my message is clear: It”s curtains for you, Elizabeth my dear.”

The Housemartins – Flag Day (single version, 1985).mp3
“So you thought you”d like to change the world, decided to stage a jumble sale for the poor, for the poor. It”s a waste of time if you know what they mean, try shaking a box in front of the queen “cause her purse is fat and bursting at the seams. It”s a waste of time if you know what they mean.”

Manic Street Preachers ““ Repeat (1992).mp3
“Repeat after me: Fuck queen and country. Repeat after me: Royal Khymer Rouge. Repeat after me: Imitation demi-gods!”

Moțrhead РGod Save The Queen (2000).mp3
“God save the queen, she ain”t no human being. There is no future in England’s dreaming” etc.

Billy Bragg – Take Down The Union Jack (2002).mp3
“Is this the 19th century that I”m watching on TV? The dear old Queen of England handing out those MBEs. Member of the British Empire; that doesn”t sound too good to me”¦ Take down the Union Jack; it clashes with the sunset.”

The Smiths ““ The Queen Is Dead (1986).mp3
“Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes hemmed in like a boar between arches. Her very Lowness with a head in a sling, I’m truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing.”

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Saved! Vol. 1

April 20th, 2011 6 comments

Easter is coming, so it seems righteous to post the first in a series of great Christian music that, I hope, will lift the spirits of the believer, and make those who don”t believe wish they would, if even for the duration of a song.

This mix comprises gospel, soul, blues, funk and country, stretching from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. Some of the featured artists will be better known in other genres, some of them got their start in gospel music. Among them is Sly Stone, who as Sylvester Stewart was a child member of The Sylvester Four, a band of brothers who in 1952 released their only single. Another child star was Shirley Caesar, whose contribution here was recorded when she was 13 years old. Now in her 70s, she is still performing.

Like the future Sly Stone, soul pioneer Ann Cole also made a start as a member of a family band, under her birthname Cynthia Coleman with The Colemanaires.

Aretha Franklin“s secular career started slowly, with a string of unsatisfactory record in the early “60s before she broke through on Atlantic in the latter half of that decade. Before all that, in 1957 she released an album of sacred songs, Songs Of Faith, on which Yield Not To Temptation appeared.

Before Motown produced The Temptations, The Supremes and The Four Tops there were the optimistically named Gospel Stars. He Lifted Me, released in 1961, was Motown”s first gospel record (Gordy later founded the Divinity subsidiary for religious stuff), and their debut album, even more optimistically titled The Great Gospel Stars, was the label”s first ever album release. Also recorded for Motown, Marvin Gaye“s No Greater Love remained unreleased for 21 years till the 1986 cash-in of Marvin”s leftovers. Most of it was awful, but No Greater Love is just beautiful.

A couple of songs here were released by Sun Records. Alas, not much is known about Brother James Anderson. But The Prisonaires have featured here before, as the original performers of Johnny Ray”s Just Walkin” In The Rain. As their name suggests, The Prisonaires were inmates, recording while they were guests of the Tennessee correctional services (more about them in The Originals Vol. 29).

The mix ends on a funky note, with The Winston”s instrumental of Jester Hairston”s Amen, the gospel number written specifically for Sydney Poitier”s character in the film Lilies In The Field (one of the few covers recorded by The Impressions). Recorded by The Winstons in 1969 as the b-side of the Grammy-winning Color Him Father, it is said to be perhaps the most sampled record ever, specifically Gregory Coleman”s brief drum solo (at 1:23). Check out the list of some of the records that sampled the Amen break (watch the fascinating video as well).

This compilations, and those that will follow, is titled Saved!, after the track that leads the mix. Try to keep still while playing LaVerne Baker“s thumping song; if you succeed, consult a doctor because you might well be dead.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and cover artwork is included.

TRACKLISTING:
1. LaVern Baker – Saved (1961)
2. The Staple Singers – Don’t Knock (1960)
3. Marie Knight – What Could I Do (1947)
4. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Wonderful (1959)
5. The Sylvester Four (with Sly Stone) – Walking In Jesus Name (1952)
6. Lightnin’ Hopkins, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry – Down By The Riverside (1965)
7. Brother James Anderson – Where Can I Go (1967)
8. Elvis Presley – Run On (1967)
9. The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama – Our Father’s Praying Ground (1970)
10. Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – Turn Your Radio On (1971)
11. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1961)
12. Hank Williams – (I’m Gonna) Sing, Sing, Sing (released in 1956)
13. The Carter Family – Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Bye And Bye) (1935)
14. Karl and Harty – Gospel Cannon Ball (1941)
15. Golden Gate Jubilee Quartett – Golden Gate Gospel Train (1937)
16. Barbeque Bob – When The Saints Go Marching In (1927)
17. Blind Alfred Reed – There’ll Be No Distinction There (1929)
18. Deep River Boys – I’m Tramping (1946)
19. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – This Train (1943)
20. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
21. Shirley Caesar – I’d Rather Serve Jesus (1951)
22. The Colemanaires – Out On The Ocean Sailing (1954)
23. The Prisionaires – Softly And Tenderly (1953)
24. Claude Jeter and the Swan Silverstones – Jesus Remembers (1956)
25. Aretha Franklin – Yield Not To Temptation (1956)
26. The Gospel Stars – He Lifted Me (1961)
27. Marvin Gaye – No Greater Love (1965)
28. Rotary Connection – Amen (1967)
29. The Winstons – Amen Brother (1969)

GET IT! (PW in comments)

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The Originals Vol. 41

April 14th, 2011 6 comments

Following on from the post about rock & roll in A History of Country Vol. 8, here are three originals of rock & roll classics. Incidentally, I might have used in the past images from www.originalsproject.us, which I would have sourced elsewhere. Indeed, the image that accompanies the original for Blueberry Hill, which I found on another site, is from that brilliant site.

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Swing And Sway With Sammy Kaye – Blueberry Hill (1940).mp3
Glenn Miller and his Orchestra – Blueberry Hill (1940).mp3
Gene Autry – Blueberry Hill (1941).mp3
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956).mp3
Vladimir Putin ““ Blueberry Hill (2010).mp3

Blueberry Hill is Fats Domino”s song, but before the rock & roll pioneer got his ivory-tinkling hands on it, it had been a cowboy song, a jazz track (by Gene Krupa, no less) and, in its first recording, a big band number ““ and those just in the year it was written: 1940.

If Blueberry Hill”s melody sounds a vaguely Italian, it”s because its writer, Vincent Rose, was a Sicilian who came to the US at the age of 17. He already was 60 when he wrote song (which also went by the Italian title, Loma de Cerezas), and died in 1944. The lyrics were written by Al Lewis and Larry Stock (the latter also wrote the lyrics for that great Dean Martin song, You”re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You).

It”s not entirely clear who was the first to record the song, but the first to release it, on 31 May 1940, was the Sammy Kaye Orchestra with Tommy Ryan on vocals. It appeared under the unwieldy name Swing And Sway With Sammy Kaye, the band”s tagline. Four days later Krupa”s version was issued. But by then the version that would provide the song”s biggest hit, by Glenn Miller with Ray Eberle on vocals, was already in the can, having been recorded on 13 May. We might remember Eberle as the hapless singer whom Miller fired for arriving late to an engagement, as recounted in the entry for At Last in The Originals Vol. 40.

Sammy Kaye, something of an all-round entertainer, contributed a song to this blog before: Remember Pearl Harbor, which featured in Carson Robison”s”s version on A History Of Country Vol. 4. One may suppose that Sammy had reason to be rather annoyed at the Japanese: he was broadcasting on NBC radio when his programme was interrupted by the news of the bombing of the Hawaiian naval base on 7 December 1941.

In 1941, Blueberry Hill was sung by Gene Autry in the movie The Singing Hill (there are claims that Autry was the first to actually record the song). The song was never really forgotten ““ Louis Armstrong recorded it in 1949 but would have a hit with it only the next decade. But it became a million-seller only in 1956 with Fats Domino”s iconic, souped-up version.

As so often with cover versions that become classics, the idea to record it was an afterthought. When during a session in Los Angeles Domino ran out of songs, he suggested Blueberry Hill. Producer Dave Bartholomew needed to be convinced of the song; in the end his production sold 5 million copies worldwide and provided the template for many covers, including one by Elvis Presley. Domino might have had the great idea to record the song, but he was useless at remembering the correct lyrics. In the end, the engineer spliced together the correctly delivered lyrics from different takes.

In December 2010, Russian tsar Vladimir Putin, fresh from riding horses while exhibiting his toned, gratuitously bared torso and heroically shooting at unarmed whales, performed Blueberry Hill at a charity function in St Petersburg, with a spoken interlude and piano solo. The audience, which included a possibly smiling Goldie Hawn and a self-consciously jiving Kevin Costner, rewarded Mad Vlad”s karaoke with a standing ovation. It is unclear whether they did so in an act of fear or sycophancy. Apparently Putin learnt the song as part of the English studies he required to complete to qualify for an appointment in the KGB, the feared Soviet secret police. On evidence of his diction, we may no longer be surprised at the collapse of the Soviet empire. Putin, to his credit, acknowledged that he can”t sing, so music”s loss was Russian democracy”s dubious gain. For those who somehow can resist the lure of Putin on MP3, here”s the video, with much unrhythmic dancing to accompany the torturous singing (and, before anybody indignantly asks, I can sing the song better than Putin, though his English is probably superior to my Russian).

Also recorded by: Connie Boswell (1940), Russ Morgan And His Orchestra (1940), Kay Kyser and his Orchrstra (1941), Louis Armstrong (1949), Mose Allison (1957), Elvis Presley (1957), Ricky Nelson (1958), Pat Boone (1958), Duane Eddy (1959), Carl Mann (1959), Conway Twitty (1959), Andy Williams (1959), John Barry Orchestra (1960), Bill Black’s Combo (1960), Buster Brown (1960), Brenda Lee (1960), Bill Haley & His Comets (1960), Louis Armstrong All-Stars (1960), Chubby Checker (1961), Skeeter Davis (1961), Billy Vaughn Orchestra (1961), The Ramsey Lewis Trio (1962), The Lettermen (1962), Johnny Hallyday (1962), Bobby Vinton (1963), Hank Crawford and the Marty Paich Orchestra (1963), Cliff Richard and The Shadows (1963), Little Richard (1964), Soul Sisters (1964), Willie Mitchell (1966), San Remo Golden Strings (1966), The Loved Ones (1966), Everly Brothers (1967), Walker Brothers (1967), Caterina Valente (1968), Frank Valdor Sextett (1970), Loretta Lynn (1972), Jerry Lee Lewis (1973), Bert Kaempfert (1973), Ellen McIlwaine (1975), Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock (1977), Eddy Mitchell (as La colline de Blueberry Hill, 1977), Adriano Celentano (1977), The Beach Boys (1976), Jimmy Carl Black (1981), Mud (1982), Jah Wobble (1982), Link Wray (1982), Ricky King (1984), Yellowman (1987), Teresa Brewer & Friends (1991), Carol Sloane & Clark Terry (1997), Bruce Cockburn (1999), Tommy Kenter (2003), Jimmy Clanton (2006), Elton John (2007) a.o.

Hank Ballard & the Midnighters ““ The Twist (1959).mp3
Chubby Checker ““ The Twist (1960).mp3
The Drifters ““ What”cha Gonna Do? (1955).mp3

Dick Clark, the legendary TV presenter who played such a big role in the evolution of rock & roll, believes that The Twist was the genre”s most important song because it was the first rock & roll record that a whole generation could freely admit to liking, from teenagers in tight jeans to jewellery rattling socialites and celebrities ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Truman Capote (even Jackie Kennedy was said to have twisted in the White House). Indeed, so popular was The Twist ““ the song and the dance ““ that Chubby Checker topped the US charts twice with it, for a week in September  1960 and then for two weeks in January 1962, following an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Clark is a protagonist in the story of the song which was written by Hank Ballard, the frontman of the R&B group The Midnighters. Ballard ““ who was born John Henry Kendricks in Detroit but grew up in Alalabama ““ and his band had enjoyed a string of hits with raunchy singles with titles such as Get It and Sexy Ways; they were so bawdy that they were banned from the airwaves. The Twist, recorded on 11 November 1959, was only a b-side to a Henry Glover ballad titled Teardrops On Your Letter, much to Hank”s annoyance. The single reached #4 on the R&B charts, and #87 in the pop charts. The flip side, now so much more famous, also attracted some attention, reaching #16 on the R&B charts (US charts have comprised radio play as well as sales).

When in early 1960 Ballard”s single Finger Poppin” Time was a top 10 hit, the record label, King, gave The Twist a commercial push, resulting in a pop hit that peaked at #26. Dick Clark became interested in featuring The Twist on American Bandstand show, which ran five days a week , apparently after the song received an enthusiastic response from the audience at a Baltimore TV show hosted by one Buddy Dean. In the event, it was performed on The Dick Clark Show on 6 August 1960 (though the first TV performance was on New York”s Clay Cole Show). But it wasn”t Hank Ballard and the Midnighters who performed on the programme.

It is not quite clear whether this was due to Ballard”s unavailability (which would be a vicious, er, twist of fate) or to Ballard”s raunchy reputation. Whatever the case, The Twist was recorded by Chubby Checker in July 1960 and performed by him on Clark”s show

Checker had recorded for Clark before. In fact, the man born Ernest Evans received his stage name from Clark”s wife. He was already nicknamed Chubby, but she gave him the surname by coining a pun on the name Fats Domino, whom Chubby had just impersonated (you get it: Chubby/Fats and Domino/Checkers). Clark chose Checker to sing The Twist because he sounded a bit like Ballard, and the cover sounded much like the original. . Ballard later said that when he first heard Checker”s version on the radio, he thought it was his own record playing (lending credence to the idea that Clark deliberately bypassed the writer and first performer of the song). The Twist and several Twist-themed follow-ups served to typecast Checker as a novelty song merchant.

The word “twist” was an old African-American term for dancing, though the silly moves of the early-“60s dance craze were Checker”s (who had seen young people improvising it to Ballard”s song). The word was used to denote dancing on Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters” 1953 song Let the Boogie Woogie Roll (“and when she did the twist she bopped me to my soul”). McPhatter, considered by many the first real soul singer, was a huge influence on Ballard ““ so much so that Ballard borrowed liberally from The Drifters” 1955 song What”cha Gonna Do? for his song Is Your Love For Real. And it was the song which Ballard proceeded to rework as The Twist.

Ballard, who died in 2003, reportedly was not resentful at being denied success with The Twist. One hopes that he received bountiful royalties from the song.

Also recorded by: Paul Rich (1961), Duane Eddy (1962), Keely Smith (1962), Patti Page (1962), The Miracles (1963), James Brown (1974), Klaus Nomi (1981), The Fat Boys With Chubby Checker (1988), The Radiators (1992), Dan Baird and The Sofa Kings (2001)

Sonny West ““ Rave On (1957).mp3
Buddy Holly ““ Rave On (1958).mp3
M. Ward feat Zooey Deschanel – Rave On (2009).mp3


Sonny West ““ All My Love (Oh Boy) (1957).mp3
Buddy Holly and the Crickets ““ Oh Boy (1957).mp3

Buddy Holly wrote several stone-cold rock & roll classics, but two of his bigger hits were not by his hand. Both, Oh Boy and Rave On were written by rockabilly singer Sonny West with Bill Tilghman. The eagle-eyed reader will have spotted on the record label illustration a third name on the credit: Norman Petty. The rather eccentric Petty was the manager and producer of both West and Holly. He had very little to do with writing either song (though he did impose his unfortunate piano solo on Holly”s version of Rave On), but attached his name to the credits nonetheless.

Before landing up with Petty (whose dealings with Holly were not at all happy), the teenage Sonny West had tried to sign with Sun Records in Memphis, but was rejected. Staying with his sister near Holly”s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, West looked around for other opportunities to make it as a musician, and eventually found one with Petty in his remote studios in Clovis. He recorded one song with Petty before he bumped into Bill Tilghman, who proposed collaborating on songs for which he already had some basic lyrics.

When West presented Oh Boy to Petty, the manager declined to have the writer record it for release (a demo was recorded in February 1957, but remained unreleased until 2002, when it appeared on West”s Sweet Rockin’ Rock-Ola Ruby album). Instead, Petty gave the song instead to Buddy Holly and the Crickets, who with some lyrical tweaks cut it between 29 June and 1 July 1957. West reported being a little bitter about it, because he had written the song for himself, not for Holly.

His happiness was not improved by the recording of the other song he wrote with Tilghman. Petty had organised a contract with Atlantic, which would release many great records, but Rave On wasn”t one of them. Petty initially refused to produce what he described as a “hillbilly song”, but eventually it was cut in November 1957 with a backing band from Dallas called The Big Boys, also clients of Petty”s. West didn”t like the result, and the single went nowhere.  However, he approved of the way Holly recorded it, in New York in January 1958.

Sonny West, an inductee into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame, continues to perform and record today. (Read more about West”s memories, and his friendship with the young Waylon Jennings, in his interview with journalist Graham Lees).

Also recorded by: Terry Farlan (1969), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1970), John Smith & The New Sound (1970), Steeleye Span (1971), Fumble (1972), Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen (1973), Showaddywaddy (1975), Mike Berry (1976), Denny Laine (1977), The Real Kids (1977), Delta-Cross Band (1979), Half Japanese (1980), Rick Nelson (1981), Wanda Jackson (1982), John Mellencamp (1988), Red River (1989), Connie Francis (1996), Hank Marvin (1996), Blumentopf (1999), Stompin’ Bird (1999), Marshall Crenshaw (2000), Status Quo (2000), Orange Black (2002), Sue Moreno (2002), P.J. Proby (2003), The Crickets with Phil & Jason Everly (2004), M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel (2009) a.o.

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Friday on my mind

April 7th, 2011 20 comments

Let’s state the obvious first: Rebecca Black’s Friday does not represent a zenith in the annals of popular music. I am even inclined to agree with those who suggest the song is quite awful, especially in its excess of autotuning. It sounds like the theme song for a particularly hyperactive Japanese game show. My remaining days will not be diminished by the absence of Friday on my iPod.

But those people with whom I’m inclined to agree are not the target audience, many of whom dislike the song as well. Black’s target audience has a crush on Justin Bieber. And Black’s target audience likes all manner of scantily-dressed young ladies and their dentally-blinged rapper friends for whom the age-old challenge of inventing euphemisms for the carnal act no longer is a necessity.

Rebecca Black has probably copped more hatred over the past few weeks than Colonel Gadaffy, the Taliban and wife-beating loser Charlie Sheen combined.

Perhaps I’m becoming increasingly priggish as middle-age is forcing its oppressive embrace upon me in much the same manner as a cheek-pinching moustachoid aunt reeking of cheap perfume would, but I rather welcome the innocence of Rebecca Black’s song. Indeed, I would locate her lyrics in the inventory of early ’60s pop, when the Beach Boys had fun fun fun fun fun and possibly contemplated the seating arrangements in their little Deuce Coupé as they cruised fast to go partyin’ partyin’ (yeah).

Black offers innocent relief to the image of a virtually naked Lady Gaga drinking blood as she thrashes about in the fake vagina of a creepy dude with face tattoos. Even if Rebecca’s fellow car passengers seem to be squirming in evident embarrassment, why should she not have fun fun fun fun on Friday. And why should she not make a record and video about it? She is 13 years old, after all. Contrast that with the venerable gentlemen from Green Day, no less in the clutches of moustachoid Aunty Middle-Age than I am, who choose to call their new live album Awesome As Fuck, a title any halfway sentient kid over 14 would reject as lame.

If we want to mock bad lyrics, then there are many far more appropriate targets. You can find seven of them here, and feel free to add more examples in the comments section to this post. And does Rebecca merit scorn for her doctored vocals when the autotuned rapper Drake — an autotuned rapper, for crying out loud! — remains at liberty? Do we really want to point fingers and laugh at the child? What sort of cruel society takes pleasure in making an apparently perfectly nice 13-year-old girl cry, because she likes to have fun?

My good friend Ian provided what I think is the most perceptive observation to the Rebecca-scorning, saying that he would be “heartbroken” if his teenage daughters were “subject to an international hate and laughter campaign just because they made a song about how much they love Friday night”. Indeed.

And while we formulate our responses of empathy to the next person who mocks Rebecca Black, here’s a tribute to the days of the week, even those Rebecca fails to mention, in the Any Major Week mix. As always, it should fit on a standard CD-R.

TRACKLISTING
1. Marvin Sease – Friday (2001)
2. Dee Dee Warwick – Another Lonely Saturday (Baby I’m Yours) (1965)
3. Chaka Khan – Any Old Sunday (1981)
4. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Monday Monday (2006)
5. Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (1971)
6. Simon & Garfunkel – Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964)
7. Harry Nilsson – (Thursday) Here’s Why I Did Not Go To Work Today (1976)
8. Steely Dan – Black Friday (1975)
9. Nick Drake – Saturday Sun (1970)
10. Velvet Underground – Sunday Morning (1967)
11. John Prine – Long Monday (2005)
12. Chairmen Of The Board – Everyday’s Tuesday (1970)
13. Ronnie Dyson – A Wednesday In Your Garden (1973)
14. Matt Costa – Sweet Thursday (2006)
15. The Pale Fountains – Beyond Fridays Field (1984)
16. Josh Woodward – Saturday (2006)
17. Laura Nyro & Labelle – I Met Him On A Sunday (1971)
18. Fats Domino – Blue Monday (1956)
19. Yazoo – Tuesday (1982)
20. Lisa Loeb – Waiting For Wednesday (1995)
21. The Futureheads – Thursday (2006)
22. Jens Lekman – Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo (2007)
23. Walker Brothers – Saturday’s Child (1966)

GET IT

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In Memoriam – March 2011

April 4th, 2011 7 comments

The Grim Reaper must be in need of a holiday after his brutally busy month.In fact, we’re still finding his victims from last month. For example, the 20 February death of doo wop singer Willie Davis was announced only last week.

Among this month’s dead are Carl Bunch, a drummer who toured with Buddy Holly & the Crickets in early 1959. He was in hospital due to frostbite sustained on the unheated tourbus which Buddy, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper tried to rescape by taking the flight that killed them.

Austrian disco-rocker Kurt Hauenstein’ Supermax featured in the Stepping Back series just a few days after his death (which at that point had passed me by; a reader alerted me to it). And with death of St Clair Lee, both male voices of The Hues Corporation are now silent. Another disco voice now gone is Loleatta Holloway, whose Love Sensation was copiously sampled from for Black Box’s 1989 hit Ride On Time ““ including her vocals (“performed” in the video by a slim, young thing). Holloway had more than that in her repertoire, as the slow-burning soul track in this mix, a b-side from 1971, shows.

Country music lost steel guitar maestro and composer Ralph Mooney (whose Crazy Arms was one of the great hits of the 1950s), composers Joe Taylor and Todd Cerney, Opry member Mel McDaniel, bluegrass musician and songwriter Harley Allen and, above all, Ferlin Husky, who with Buck Owen and Jean Shepard pioneered the Bakersfield sound that produced the likes of Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons.

Nate Dogg’s singing-rap style was, in my view, underappreciated. To my chagrin, in his Summer Night On Hammer Hill, Jens Lekman excluded Nate’s contribution to the ’90s hip hop classic Regulate altogether, mentioning only Warren G.

Of all deaths this month (and probably most others), that of London reggae man Smiley Culture is the most bizarre: he reportedly stabbed himself in the heart during a raid by the police, who suspected him of dealing in cocaine. In that light, his humorous 1984 hit Police Officer, about being searched for ganja in his Lancia, is almost spooky.

As always, songs listed below the entries are collated in one downloadable file.

Willie Davis, 78, tenor of doo wop group The Cadets (also recording as The Jacks, on February 20
The Cadets – Stranded In The Jungle (1956)

Jean Dinning, 86, member of The Dinnings and writer of Mark Dinning’s Teen Angel, on February 22
Dinning Sisters – Beg Your Pardon (1948)

William “Beau Dollar” Bowman, 69, funk singer & drummer, on February 22
Beau Dollar and the Coins – Soul Serenade (1966)

Rick Coonce, 64, drummer of The Grass Roots, on February 25
The Grass Roots – Let’s Live For Today (1967)

Johnny Preston, 71, pop singer, on March 4
Johnny Preston – Running Bear (1960)

Herman Ernest, 59, session drummer for Dr John, Lee Dorsey, Neville Brothers, Labelle (a.o), on March 6
Labelle – Lady Marmalade (1974, as drummer)

St. Clair Lee, 66, singer with soul group Hues Corporation, on March 8
The Hues Corporation – I Caught Your Act (1977)

Mike Starr, 44, bassist of Alice in Chains, body found on March 8
Alice In Chains – Man In The Box (1990)

Eddie Snyder, 92, lyricist (Strangers In The Night, Spanish Eyes), on March 10
Al Martino – Spanish Eyes (1965)

Hugh Martin, 96, film composer, on March 11
Vanessa Williams – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (2004, as composer)

Jack Hardy, 63, influential folk singer-songwriter, on March 11

Rita Guerrero, 46, singer of Mexican rock group Santa Sabina, on March 11
Santa Sabina – Invitacion (2003)

Joe Morello, 82, drummer of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, on March 12
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Kathy’s Waltz (1959)

Nilla Pizzi, 91, Italian singer once banned from radio by Mussolini, on March 12
Nilla Pizzi – Amado mio (1947)

Ritchie Pickett, 56, New Zealand country singer, on March 13

Big Jack Johnson, 70, blues singer and guitarist, on March 14
Big Jack Johnson & The Cornlickers – Too Many Drivers (2009)

Ronnie Hammond, 60, singer of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, on March 14
Atlanta Rhythm Section – So Into You (1976)

Todd Cerney, 57, country musician, songwriter and producer,on March 14
Steve Holy – Good Morning Beautiful (2002, as composer)

Nate Dogg, 41, Hip hop legend, on March 15
Nate Dogg feat Warren G – Nobody Does It Better (1998)

Smiley Culture, 48, British reggae singer and DJ, on March 15
Smiley Culture – Police Officer (1984)

Melvin Sparks, 64, jazz and soul guitarist, on March 15
Melvin Sparks – Get Ya Some (1975)

Armen Halburian, 77, drummer with Herbie Mann”s Family of Mann, on March 16  (no pic available)
Herbie Mann – Hi-Jack (1975)

Ferlin Husky, 85, country singer, on March 17
Ferlin Husky – Giddy Up Go (1971)

Jet Harris, 71, guitarist with The Shadows, on March 18
The Shadows – Apache (1960)

Kurt Hauenstein, 62, leader of Austrian disco band Supermax, on March 20
Supermax – It Ain’t Easy (1979)

Johnny Pearson, 85, British composer, arranger and pianist, on March 20
Sounds Orchestral – Cast Your Fate To The Wind (1965, as pianist)

Ralph Mooney, 82, country musician and composer and steel guityar maestro, on March 20
Ray Price – Crazy Arms (1956, as composer)
Buck Owens – Under Your Spell Again (1959, on steel guitar)

Loleatta Holloway, 64, disco and soul singer, on March 21
Loleatta Holloway – Rainbow ’71 (1971)
Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation (1980)

Pinetop Perkins, 97, blues pianist, on March 21
Joe Willie ‘Pinetop’ Perkins & Marcia Ball – Carmel Blue (2004)

Zoogz Rift, 57, musician, artist and wrestler, on March 22

Frankie Sparcello, bassist of thrash metal band Exhorder, on March 22.

Syd Kitchen, 59, South African alternative singer, on March 22
Syd Kitchen – Where The Children Play (1999)

Ken Arcipowski, 66, founder member of doo wop band Randy & the Rainbows, on March 23
Randy and the Rainbows – Denise (1963)

Joe Taylor, 89, country musician and composer, on March 24
Leroy Van Dyke – The Auctioneer (1957, as composer)

Derek Parrott, 63, American folk musician, on March 25

Carl Bunch, 71, tour drummer of Buddy Holly & the Crickets, on March 26.

Lula Côrtes, 61, Brazilian psychedelic-rock musician, on March 26
Lula C̫rtes РDesengano (1981)

Harley Allen, 55, country singer and songwriter, on March 30
Dan Tyminski & Harley Allen & Pat Enright – I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (2000)
Alan Jackson – Everything I Love (1996, as songwriter)

Mel McDaniel, 68, country singer, on March 31
Mel McDaniel – The Big Time (1982)

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