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In Memoriam – February 2013

The Grim Reaper wreaked mayhem in the short month of February. He took some beloved musicians from us “” people such as Cecil Womack and Donald Byrd “” and at least one who entertained us with his eccentricities. It”s worth it finding the recording of the Troggs members in argument; on the notorious “Troggs Tape”, Reg Presley (picture 1), whose rendition of Wild Thing was punk a decade before it was invented, is acting with the decorum we might associate with the genre he presaged.

With his brothers, Cecil Womack (2) was a member of The Valentinos in the 1960s. The group was discovered by Sam Cooke. In 1977 Cecil married Sam”s daughter Linda (after Cooke”s death, brother Bobby had married Sam”s widow, but that didn”t last long enough to create hilarious fun and games at family reunions). With Linda, Cecil formed the great soul duo Womack & Womack. He also wrote for other acts, including The O”Jays, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, George Benson and his first wife, Mary Wells. The featured version of Love T.K.O., a hit for Pendergrass, is the original.

Two members of The Temptations died this month within just over a week from one another: Richard Street (3), a member from 1971-93, and Damon Harris (4) (1971-75, returning later). Both appeared on Papa Was A Rolling Stone. Harris did the remarkable falsetto, Street was a tenor. Street”s other great contribution to pop music was to coach a Detroit trio of girls who would soon come to be known as The Supremes. From the two essential Temptations line-ups, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin, Richard Street and Damon Harris are now dead. Only Otis Williams and Dennis Edwards are still alive.

It is always sad to hear of the last surviving member of anything big passing. So it is with Paul Tanner (5), a name few would have remembered. He outlived all former members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, in which he was the trombonist from 1938-42. Tanner also co-developed the electrotheremin, which was played by Tanner on Beach Boys songs like I Just Wasn”t Made for These Times, Wild Honey and Good Vibration (it”s that high-pitched sound in the chorus and in the fade out).

Diehard soul fans will recognise the name Darlene McCrea (6), member of The Cookies. That band is also rather forgotten; still they recorded the original of The Beatles” Chains and the first (unreleased) version of On Broadway. They also did backing vocals on hits such Little Eva”s The Locomotion and later morphed into The Raelettes, Ray Charles backing singers. Darlene was also the older sister of one-time Cookie Earl-Jean.

Soul fans will also mourn the death of Cleotha ‘Cleedi’ Staples (7), the oldest of Pops” daughters in The Staple Singers. Cleotha never really got lead vocal duties “” that was Mavis” job “” but what would the Staple Singers have been without the backing vocals?

Beatles fans will be saddened to learn of the death of Tony Sheridan (8), a British singer with whom The Beatles, still with Pete Best , recorded a Bert Kaempfert-produced album, going by the name The Beat Brothers, because the names Beatles sounded too much like a northern German slang word for urinating. That LP featured the first Beatles composition (Cry For A Shadow, credited to Harrison/Lennon) and the single which led Brian Epstein to the group, My Bonnie.

Two artists died of suicide in February: Italian techno musician Mo-Do, who was particularly popular in Germany, and country star Mindy McCready (9). For McCready, this was the final of several suicide attempts over the years. She was dogged by controversy, some of her own making, and evidently had mental health issues which she did not address because she feared the effect of the stigma attached to them. It is shocking that such fears should still persist, and McCready”s life stands an indictment of a society that continues to fail to eradicate the prejudice attached to mental health. McCready shot herself on the very spot on her porch on which her boyfriend (and father of her youngest child) had killed himself a month earlier. Spare a thought (or, if you are inclined to, a prayer) for her children, and especially for the poor kid who lost both of his parents to suicide.

Ken Hodges, 76, singer and bassist with Spanky & Our Gang a.o., on January 29
Spanky and Our Gang – Like to Get To Know You (1968)

Cecil Womack, 65, soul singer and songwriter, on February 1
The Valentinos ““ Lookin” For A Love (1962)
Womack & Womack – Baby I”m Scared Of You Baby (1984)
David Oliver – Love T.K.O.  (1980, as songwriter)

Reg Presley, 71, singer of The Troggs, on February 4
The Troggs – With A Girl Like You (1966)

Darlene “˜Ethel” McCrea, member of R&B band The Cookies and The Raelettes, on February 4
The Cookies ““ Don”t Say Nothin” Bad (About My Baby) (1963)
Darlene McCrea – My Heart’s Not In It (1964)

Donald Byrd, 80, jazz trumpeter, founder of jazz-funk band The Blackbyrds, on February 4
George Wallington & Donald Byrd Quintette ““ Snakes (1955)
Donald Byrd – House Of The Rising Sun (1965)
The Blackbyrds – Gut Level (1974)

Pat Halcox, 82, British jazz trumpeter and singer, on February 4

Paul Tanner, 95, trombonist and last surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, on February 5
Glenn Miller and his Orchestra – King Porter Stomp (1938)
Beach Boys  – Wild Honey (1967, on electrotheremin)

Mo-Do, 46, Italian techno musician, of suicide on February 6

Jon Cook, 40, bassist of “90s hardcore band Crain, on February 9

Rick Huxley, 72, bassist of The Dave Clark Five, on February 11
Dave Clark Five – Catch Us If You Can (1965)

Kevin Peek, 66, Australian guitarist and member of Sky, on February 11
Sky ““Toccata (1980)

Trevor Grills, 54, singer of British sea shanty group Fisherman”s Friends, on February 11

Ben Todd, 24, punk musician with D.Watusi and record label founder, on September 12

George “˜Shadow” Morton, 72, songwriter and record producer (The Shangri-Las, Vanilla Fudge, Janis Ian, Iron Butterfly), on February 14
The Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack (1963, as songwriter and producer)
Janis Ian – Society’s Child Baby I’ve Been Thinking (1967, as producer)

Tim Dog, 46, rapper, on February 14

Mark Kamins, 57, DJ who discovered Madonna, on February 14
Madonna – Everybody (1982, as producer)

Goldie Harvey, 29, Nigerian R&B and pop singer, on February 14

Dennis Palmer, 55, synthesizer player and visual artist, co- founder of Shaking Ray Levis, on February 15

Francisco Fellove, 89, Cuban soul singer and songwriter, on February 15

Tony Sheridan, 72, English singer, early collaborator with The Beatles, on February 16
Tony Sheridan with The Beat Brothers ““ The Saints (1962)

Lanier Greig, 64, organist and original member of ZZ Top, on February 16
ZZ Top – Salt Lick (1969)

Stanley Knight, 63, guitarist with southern rock band Black Oak Arkansas, on February 16
Black Oak Arkansas – Back Door Man (1975)

Mindy McCready, 37, country singer, suicide on February 17
Mindy McCready ““ I”m Still Here (2008)

Mike Westhues, 64, US-born, Finnish-based singer-songwriter and guitarist, on February 17

Shmulik Kraus, 77, Israeli actor and pop singer, on February 17

Damon Harris, 62, first tenor/falsetto singer with The Temptations (1971-75), on February 18
The Temptations – Love Woke Me Up This Morning (1972)

Kevin Ayers, 68, English psychedelic rock musician (Soft Machine), on February 18
Soft Machine – Joy Of A Toy (1968)
Kevin Ayers feat Syd Barrett – Religious Experience (Singing A Song In The Morning) (1970)

Cleotha Staples, 77, member of The Staples Singers, on February 21
The Staple Singers ““ Don”t Knock (1960)
The Staple Singers – Brand New Day (1970)

Magic Slim, 75, blues singer and guitarist, on February 21
Magic Slim & The Teardrops – Crazy Woman (1998)

Kenny Clutch, 27, rapper, assassinated on February 21

Norma Zenteno, 60, Latin/jazz/rock singer and guitarist, on February 21

Diane Lampert, 89, songwriter for Brenda Lee, Red Foley a.o., on February 22
Brenda Lee – Break It To Me Gently (1961)

Virgil Johnson, 77, leader of doo-wop band The Velvets, on February 24
The Velvets – Tonight (Could Be The Night) (1961)

“˜Dangerous” Dan Toler, 64, guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band and Gregg Allman Band, on February 25
The Allman Brothers Band – Crazy Love (1979)

Richard Street, 70, singer with The Temptations (1971-93), on February 27
The Temptations – Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are) (1972)

Daniel Darc, 53, singer of French new wave group Taxi Girl, on February 28
Taxi Girl РCherchez le gar̤on (1980)

GET IT or HERE (PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    March 4th, 2013 at 07:32 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. JohnnyDiego
    March 4th, 2013 at 13:55 | #2

    It seems that there may be a slight problem with the listing in the playlist.
    “Catch Us If You Can” by The Dave Clark Five is listed twice in the playlist. One at 1:57 minutes is clearly The Dave Clark Five, the other listed at 5:08 minutes is a soft piano jazz with a little vocal background accompaniment. I can’t quite seem to place it and looking at the playlist posted on the blog I see that both Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers’ “The Saints” and Donald Byrd’s “House Of The Rising Sun” don’t seem to appear in the music playlist. I can’t believe this mystery song is Tony Sheridan and it doesn’t quite sound like Donald Byrd. Can you help?

    Again, thank you for your outstanding blog. I get email notifications of new posts and look forward to each one.

  3. halfhearteddude
    March 4th, 2013 at 21:47 | #3

    Oh dear, there was a little ID3-tagging snafu. The 5-minute track tagged Dave Clark Five (number 9), is Byrd’s version of “House Of The Rising Sun” (from the LP ‘Up With Donald Byrd’, released 1964m, track 3). The Dave Clark Five’s “Catch Us If You Can” is #13.

    Tony Sheridan & The Beatles/Beat Brothers track (#18) is inaccurately tagged “The Beatles – When The Saints Go Marching In”. It should be, as the filename has it, “Tony Sheridan with The Beat Brothers – The Saints”. The year and album ciover are correct.

  4. Rhod
    March 6th, 2013 at 11:23 | #4

    Thanks Amd

    Another great compilation, appreciate the effort.



  5. Jimmy
    March 9th, 2013 at 01:34 | #5

    I regularly read music blogs (including yours, weekly) and yet failed to come across the Troggs Tapes until you mentioned them here. Any person who was that gifted with articulate speech should have been immortal.

    As usual, you have rendered a fine tribute to departed. It is a public service. Thank you.

  6. Andy
    March 14th, 2013 at 22:16 | #6

    How soon we forget.

    “Tony Sheridan (8), a British singer with whom The Beatles, still with George Best”

    Poor Pete Best, everybody’s always puttin’ him down. I suppose George could’ve been in the band; he seems old enough. And he’d probably do a fair job on the bass drum, what with his fast footwork and all. He would have been a decent partner for John during the ‘Lost Weekend’ as well. But no, he was never in the band.

  7. halfhearteddude
    March 15th, 2013 at 12:02 | #7

    Ooops. Great way of offering a correction, Andy, thanks. I better edit the text…

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