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In Memoriam – February 2012

March 1st, 2012 3 comments

The month opened with a headline death, followed by another towards the middle of the month, and ended with a third headline departure: I wrote about Don Cornelius and Whitney Houston; Davy Jones of The Monkees is honoured here with two tracks: his I Want To Be Free from The Monkees” debut album, and the Italian version of the Theme From The Monkees.

We rarely feature band managers, but Jon McIntire merits an exception. The Grateful Dead manager initiated the band”s cult by putting a notice into the sleeve of the band”s 1971 Skull and Roses album. It said: “Dead Freaks Unite! Who are you? Where are you? How are you? Send us your name and address and we”ll keep you informed.” The proto-Facebook Group scheme obviously worked. McIntire also managed country-rock band New Riders of the Purple Sage.

You may not know his name, but Billy Strange was responsible for some of the finest moments in pop music. A songwriter, guitarist and arranger, he played guitar on several Beach Boys songs, including on the Pet Sounds album, and arranged many of Nancy Sinatra”s songs, including her creepy duet with Frank Sr. He played the guitar on her Bang Bang, and the horns at the end of These Boots Are Made For Walking were his ideas (and I have a great post about that song lined up).

Mike Melvoin”s name might not be well-known either, at least outside jazz circles, but his piano work will have been heard by everybody who reads this blog: it features on the Jackson 5″s ABC, on the Beach Boys” Good Vibrations and on tracks on Pet Sounds (that album again!), on Natalie Cole”s duet with her father, Unforgettable, subtly in the background on Streisand”s Evergreen, on John Lennon”s cover of Stand By Me, on Helen Reddy”s I Am Woman, on Frank Sinatra”s That”s Life, and on We Are The World… On top of that, he sired musicians Wendy Melvoin (of Wendy & Lisa), the late Jonathan Melvoin (Smashing Pumpkins) and Susannah Melvoin.

And talking of departed family members, soul singer David Peaston was 1960s soul singer Fontella Bass” brother.


Don Cornelius, 75, host and producer of Soul Train, suicide on February 1
MFSB – TSOP (1974)

Mike Kelley, 57, artist and member of punk band Destroy All Monsters, suicide on February 1

David Peaston, 54, soul singer, on February 1
David Peaston – When I Remember (1991)

Phil Brown, 58, bassist for UK power pop band The Records, on February 2

Wando, 66, Brazilian composer and singer,on February 8
Wando РMo̤a (1976)

Luis Alberto Spinetta, 62, musician and one of the “Fathers of Argentine Rock”, on February 8

Jimmy Sabater Sr, 75, Puerto Rica-born Latin music singer and tambales player, on February 8
Jimmy Sabater – Bomba carambomba

Joe Moretti, 73, British session guitarist (It”s Not Unusual, Brand New Cadillac), on February 9
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates – Shakin” All Over (1960, as lead guitarist)

Whitney Houston, 48, soul and pop singer, on February 11
Whitney Houston – Star-Spangled Banner
Georgia Mass Choir & Whitney Houston – I Go To The Rock (1996)

Russell Arms, 92, singer and actor, on February 13
Russell Arms – Cinco Robles (Five Oaks) (1957)

Jodie Christian, 80, bebop and free jazz pianist, on February 13

Dory Previn, 86, singer-songwriter and lyricist (Valley of the Dolls, Last Tango in Paris), on February 14
Dionne Warwick – Valley Of The Dolls (1968, as lyricist)
The Sandpipers – Come Saturday Morning (1970, as lyricist)

Betty Barnes (Vivian Jeanette Worden), rockabilly singer, on February 14

Clive Shakespeare, 62, guitarist of Australian pop group Sherbet and record producer, on February 15
Sherbet – Summer Love (1975)

Luke Brandon, 87, country singer, guitarist and producer (for Bobby Bare a.o.), on February 15

Jon McIntire, 70, manager of the Grateful Dead, on February 16
The Grateful Dead – Mama Tried (Live, 1976)

Michael Davis, 68, bassist and singer of MC5, Destroy All Monsters a.o., on February 17
MC5 – It”s A Man”s Man”s Man”s World (1970)

Enrique Sierra, 54, member of Spanish 1980s rock band Radio Futura, on February 17

Joe Thompson, 93, African-American old-time music and bluegrass fiddler, on February 20

Billy Strange, 81, songwriter (Limbo Rock), guitarist (for Beach Boys a.o.)and music arranger, on February 22
Nancy Sinatra – Bang Bang (1966, as guitarist and arranger)
Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (1968, as co-writer)

Christopher Reimer, 26, guitarist of Canadian art rock band Women, on February 21

Mike Melvoin, 74, pianist and composer, session man for Szabo Gabor, Tom Waits a.o, on February 22
Mike Melvoin & Plastic Cow – One Man, One Volt
Barbra Streisand – Evergreen (1977, as pianist)

Koji Kita, 63, member of Japanese pop band Four Leaves, on February 22

Pery Ribeiro, 74, Brazilian bossa nova and jazz singer, on February 24

Louisiana Red, 79, blues musician, on February 25
Louisiana Red – Valerie (2005)

Red Holloway, 84, jazz saxophonist (with John Mayall, Brother Jack McDuff, Etta James), on February 25
Jack McDuff – A Real Goodun” (1965, as saxophonist)

Dee Cernile, 46, guitarist with Canadian rock band Sven Gali, on February 25

Ray Lamere (Sugar Ray), 82,Big Band leader, singer and double bass player, on February 25

Hazy Osterwald, 90, Swiss big band leader, on February 26
Hazy Osterwald Sextett – The Call

Davy Jones, 66, actor and member of The Monkees, on February 29
The Monkees – I Wanna Be Free (1966)
The Monkees – Tema Dei Monkees (ca 1966)

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American Road Trip Vol. 9

July 27th, 2009 4 comments

Last time on our US road trip, we left Pittsburgh. From there, one might travel in any direction to reach places of interest to our purposes. I do think it is time we come to the capital.

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Washington, D.C.

chocolate_cityI note Marion Berry, the four-term mayor of Washington DC was arrested again this month, this time for stalking a girlfriend. No matter what Berry”s accomplishments as a mayor and councillor, how on earth does that man still enjoy the credibility to be re-elected? How does the electorate of Washington arrive at the conclusion that a crackhead with the powers of judgment of a lemming is best qualified to govern their affairs? This is a man who delivers pearls of wisdom like, “The laws in this city are clearly racist. All laws are racist. The law of gravity is racist” or “The brave men who died in Vietnam, more than 100% of which were black, were the ultimate sacrifice”? It”s like the great American public electing a former drug abuser with no brains to the presidency. Which, of course, could never happen (and, yes, I can hear you whisper the name Zuma). Chris Rock perhaps nailed it when he said about Barry”s re-election as mayor after i his crack conviction: “How did that happen? Smoked crack, got his job back! What was the other guy on heroin?”
Parliament – Chocolate City.mp3
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Baltimore, Maryland.mp3

Well, I sold my pick-up truckGP to take my woman where she used to be. We left our friends and Marion Barry back there in Washington. And I bought those one way tickets she had often begged me for, and they took us to the streets of Baltimore. Well, her heart was filled with gladness when she saw those city lights. She said: “The prettiest place on earth is Baltimore at night.” But I soon learned she loved those bright lights more than she loved me. Now I”m a going back on that same train that brought me here before while my baby walks the streets of Baltimore. On second thought, fuck it, let”s go to Philadelphia.
Gram Parsons – Streets Of Baltimore.mp3
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

tsopTo people who grew up in the “90s, Philadelphia may be a movie about AIDS discrimination starring two insufferably smug, overrated actors. Or the hometown of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. To me, it evokes the sunny sounds of “70s soul. The Philly sound. The O”Jays. The Three Degrees. The Delfonics. Billy Paul. Jean Carn. Blue Magic. Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. The Intruders. The Trammps. Lou Rawls singing Lady Love. SalSoul and Gamble & Huff”s PIR.
M.F.S.B. – T.S.O.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia).mp3
Dexys Midnight Runners – T.S.O.P.mp3

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Previously on American Road Trip