Home > In Memoriam > In Memoriam – May 2015

In Memoriam – May 2015

IM0515aThere isn”t much more to say about B.B. King that the obits haven”t covered. Except this: For years King didn”t receive the respect he merited in some quarters because he was seen as having sold out from the blues genre. These purists regarded King as inauthentic, even if the only delta they”d ever seen was an airline. These were the snobs who resented King and players like Muddy Waters for updating the blues, without having any claim to the blues in the first place, and instead played their obscure blues records from the 1930s and celebrated Dylan”s famous (and probably misunderstood) words, “Just don”t play me any of that B.B. King shit”. Thankfully the “authenticity” debate has been lost by the snobs, and everybody can in good conscience and without qualification celebrate the accomplishments of Blues Boy King.

I paid tribute to Brothers Johnson bass player Louis Johnson last week with a collection of songs he played on. But it is right that I do mark his passing at 60 in this post. Thank you, Louis, for playing the basslines I danced to, grooved to and smooched to, from Stomp and Don”t Stop Till You Get Enough and Wanna Be Starting Something, from I Keep Forgetting to Strawberry Letter 21, from One Hundred Ways to Human Nature.

Few people in the 1970s sported a shaven bald head and got away with it. For Telly Savalas is was the gimmick that brought him stardom; Isaac Hayes was to cool for hair anyway, and then there was Hot Chocolate”s Errol Brown, who pulled the bald look off with elegance. Hot Chocolate was an early example of a multi-racial group that enjoyed big mainstream success, at least in Britain and Europe. What is not so well known is that Brown and pals started out on The Beatles” Apple records after adapting Lennon”s Give Peace A Chance in reggae style.

English singer Lynn Ripley, who performed under the moniker Twinkle, caused a big stir briefly in 1964 with her song Terry, in which the eponymous character is a killed in a motorcycle accident. Although there was a whole genre dedicated to death songs in the US, the BBC was scandalised by the song”s supposed bad taste and banned it. The overreaction, of course, helped the sales of a song that wasn”t very good, reaching #4 in November 1964. The also self-penned follow-up single, Golden Lights, was much better, but stalled at #21 (it later was covered by The Smiths). It was Twinkle”s second and last hit; she was just 17. On Terry, Twinkle was backed by Jimmy Page on guitar and Bobby Graham on drums (he, of course, was the subject of The Bobby Graham Collection in April). I suspct they might have played on Golden Lights as well.

IM0515bThe man who brought the anthemic We Shall Overcome to the civil rights movement has followed his close collaborator Pete Seeger into the great peace rally in the sky. Guy Carawan, who has died at 87, was among those who loosely adapted Louise Shropshire”s gospel song If My Jesus Wills to become We Shall Overcome. As song leader of the of the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, an adult education programme for trade union organisers which was engaged in the civil rights movement, Carawan introduced We Shall Overcome first to the unionist and then to the struggle for equal rights.

The key to the success of ABBA”s songs arguably was in their carefully crafted arrangements which framed Agnetha and Annifrid”s vocals (and occasionally Björn”s). One man who appeared on all of these arrangements “” at least those that required the use of the bass guitar “” was Rutger Gunnarsson, who has died at 69. He played on all ABBA”s albums as well as on their tours. From 1977 he arranged for the group (especially strings), and occasionally played percussions and guitar for them. After ABBA he worked in various roles with artists as diverse as Elton John , Adam Ant, Mireille Matthieu and Gwen Stefani, and also worked on stage productions such as Chess, Les Misérables and, of course, Mamma Mia.

He could have been the drummer of Led Zeppelin. At least, Mac Poole was asked by his friend Robert Plant to join the band which he was putting together with Jimmy Page. Poole didn”t take Plant up on the offer since he already had a band (and how many times haven”t we heard that story). Instead Poole found some success with early-“70s prog-rock band Warhorse, future Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman.

Unless you followed the music scene in Detroit closely or have a wide knowledge of jazz, the name Marcus Belgrave might mean little to you. You”ll have heard him blow his trumpet, though (albeit, as is the lot of trumpeters, in concert with others). Most famously, his trumpet was among those who issue that elephant cry in Marvin Gaye”s I Heard It Through The Grapevine. He played on several other Gaye hits; before that he had accompanied Ray Charles, including on his early live album, At Newport. He also played with Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzy Gillespie and John Sinclair. He was a professor of trumpet at Stanford and the Oberlin Conservatory, and tutored many successful jazz musicians.

John Tout, keyboardist of British prog-rock group Renaissance, on May 1
John Lennon ““ Crippled Inside (1971, on piano)
Renaissance – Closer Than Yesterday (1978)

Guy Carawan, 87, folk singer, musicologist and activist, on May 2
Guy Carawan – We Shall Overcome (live)

Craig Gruber, 63, bassist with Rainbow, Bible Black, Raven Lord, on May 5
Ritchie Blackmore”s Rainbow – Man On The Silver Mountain (1975)

Errol Brown, 71, singer of Hot Chocolate, on May 6
Hot Chocolate Band – Give Peace A Chance (1969)
Hot Chocolate – Brother Louie (1973)
Hot Chocolate – No Doubt About It (1980)

Jerome Cooper, 68, free jazz drummer and percussionist, on May 6

Rutger Gunnarsson, 69, bassist for ABBA, on May 8
Harpo – Rock & Roll Clown (1976, on bass)
Abba – The Name Of The Game (1977, on bass)
Abba – Dancing Queen (live) (released 1986, on bass)

Johnny Gimble, 88, country fiddler, on May 9
Marty Robbins – I”ll Go On Alone (1952, on fiddle)
Johnny Gimble – Fiddlin” Around (1980)

Bobby Jameson, 70, rock singer and songwriter, on May 10
Bobby Jameson ““ Vietnam (1966)

Lucy Fabery, 84, Puerto Rican jazz singer, on May 11

B.B. King, 89, blues legend, on May 14
B.B. King – Miss Martha King (1949)
B.B.King – Save A Seat For Me (1959)
B.B. King – Ghetto Woman (1970)
B.B. King – My Guitar Sings The Blues (1985)

Ortheia Barnes, 70, American R&B and jazz singer, on May 15
Ortheia Barnes – I”ve Never Loved Nobody (Like I Love You) (1967)

Flora MacNeil, 86, Scottish Gaelic singer, on May 16

Chinx, 31, rapper, shot dead on May 17

Elbert West, 47, country singer-songwriter, on May 18
Tracy Lawrence – Sticks And Stones (1991, as co-writer)

Bruce Lundvall, 79, former head of Blue Note, Elektra and Manhattan labels, on May 19

Bob Belden, 58, jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger, producer, on May 20
Bob Belden ““ The Black Daliah (2006)

Louis Johnson, 60, legendary bassist, on May 21
Brothers Johnson – I”ll Be Good To You (1976)
Brothers Johnson – Strawberrry Letter (1977)
Stanley Clarke & Louis Johnson – We Supply (1980)
Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin” Something (1983)

Mac Poole, 69, British drummer (Warhorse), on May 21
Warhorse – No Chance (1970)

Darius Minwalla, 39, drummer of The Posies, on May 21
The Posies – Second Time Around (2005)

Twinkle, 66, British singer-songwriter, on May 21
Twinkle – Golden Lights (1965)

Liv Marit Wedvik, 45, Norwegian country singer, drowned on May 23

Marcus Belgrave, 78, jazz trumpeter, on May 24
Ray Charles – What”d I Say (Parts 1 & 2) (1959, on trumpet)
Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1968, on trumpet)

Rocky Frisco, 77, American pianist (J.J. Cale Band), on May 26
J.J. Cale – One Step (2004, on keyboard)

Art Thieme, 73, folk musician, on May 26

Mel Waiters, 58, soul singer, on May 28
Mel Waiters – How Can I Get Next To You? (2001)

Christer Jansson, 51, drummer of Swedish pop band Roxette, announced on May 28

Johnny Keating, 87, British musician, on May 28
Johnny Keating & his Orchestra – Theme from Z-Cars (1962)

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(PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    June 4th, 2015 at 07:10 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Duke
    June 4th, 2015 at 10:27 | #2

    Been following you and combing your site for a few years now. Just GREAT stuff.

    Three things I’d like to suggest:

    1) Best under-the-radar Dylan covers. i.e., not Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower,” or the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Might be broken into eras for multiple cds. I saw this as a jumping off point (http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2009/04/50-best-bob-dylan-covers-of-all-time.html)

    2) How about rendering 320k mp3s? 128k is pretty crappy. And to counter the obvious response (not necessarily what you would respond): people who follow Any Major Dude are already big time music collectors and are not using you and your site to build their libraries illegitimately. I, for example, just find it convenient to d/l and drop that folder into iTunes and then create a playlist.

    3) Any thought to creating playlists for GooglePlayMusic (my choice of paid service) or Spotify in conjunction with the mp3 download option?

    Thanks for everything!

    Duke

  3. halfhearteddude
    June 4th, 2015 at 13:00 | #3

    Thanks for the feedback, Duke. I’m already storing away Dylan covers for a possible future set of compiations.

    Spotify doesn’t operate where I am, so that one’s not an option.

    The bitrate thing is one of those old questions to which there is no final answer. I don’t always convert stuff down, though sometimes I do so for the expedient of file size. And then there is the argument that if one wants to have the music in best quality, one should buy the CD. I don’t make that my guide, except in the rare cases of newly released musuc, but it’s a fair argument, I think.

  4. dogbreath
    June 5th, 2015 at 12:13 | #4

    Many thanks for another fine compilation which as usual includes a few artists who remind me, for one reason or another, of my younger days. I was lucky enough to see Hot Chocolate perform several times in their 70s heyday & Errol Brown was always the epitome of cool & what a fabulous voice! I will enjoy sampling this mix & thanks for the memories.

  5. Rhod
    June 5th, 2015 at 23:26 | #5

    Thanks Amd a great compilation once again. B.B.King will be greatly missed.

    Regards

    Rhod

  6. June 14th, 2015 at 20:39 | #6

    Thanks for sharing this mix. Looking forward to having a listen.

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