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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Dead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dead. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Jeff Beck has died ... my thoughts and prayers are with his family.


I almost can't believe that I am writing this but I guess each of us ends up there at some point. I have likely seen Jeff Beck more times in concert than any other band, local or international. 

Beck, who has been considered likely the greatest "rock" guitar player of all time died in his home yesterday from Bacterial meningitis. I'm totally dumbfounded. He just came through town a month or so ago. The average rock listener would think that Jeff has a good ear and picked up a lot of things like the talk box from Peter Frampton (the opposite) or tapping from Eddie Van Halen (again opposite) because Beck never wanted to be a star. He liked to tinker. He had abstract thoughts that he would try out. Others would say that's cool and make a career of his little ideas. This is a guy who never wanted fame or fortune. Just wanted enough money to toy with his hotrods and play a few riffs...and to have fun. 

Goodbye Mr Beck

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dr John has passed - Our prayers are with his family and friends

 DR John, the flamboyant New Orleans singer-pianist whose hoodoo-drenched music made him the summarizing figure of the grand Crescent City R&B/rock ‘n’ roll tradition, died Thursday of a heart attack at age 77.

“Towards the break of day June 6, iconic music legend Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., known as Dr. John, passed away of a heart attack,” a statement on his social media pages said. “The family thanks all whom shared his unique musical journey & requests privacy at this time. Memorial arrangements will be announced in due course.”
Rebennack had already tallied more than a decade of experience as a session musician in his hometown and Los Angeles when he rose to solo fame in the late ‘60s after concocting his voodoo-influenced, patois-laced persona of “the Night Tripper.”
In their history of postwar New Orleans music “Up From the Cradle of Jazz,” Jason Berry, Jonathan Foose and Tad Jones wrote richly of the artist they called “a true original
The writers described him exclamatorily: “Dr. John! – sunglasses and radiant colors, feathers and plumes, bones and beads around his neck, the crusty blues voice rich in dialect cadences, and then the man himself in motion: scattering glitter to the crowds, pumping the keyboard, a human carnival to behold.”
After flashing his fantastical character on a quartet of early albums that garnered him an enthusiastic underground following, Dr. John settled in to become New Orleans’ great latter-day exponent of bayou funk and jazz, playing in a style that reconciled the diverse streams of the city’s music.
His early ‘70s work was distinguished by a collection of historic New Orleans favorites, “Gumbo,” and a pair of albums with famed New Orleans producer-arranger-songwriter Allen Toussaint and funk quartet the Meters – the first of which, “In the Right Place,” spawned a top-10 hit.
He memorably branched into traditional pop with his 1989 album “Sentimental Journey”; the album spawned the first of his six Grammy Awards, for “Makin’ Whoopee,” a duet with Ricki Lee Jones.
Dr. John would delve deeper into jazz terrain later in his peripatetic career with Bluesiana Triangle, a collaboration with saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman and drummer Art Blakey, and homages to Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. But the earthy R&B of his hometown served as his main stylistic and emotional propellant.
In 2008, his Grammy-winning collection “City That Care Forgot” dwelled movingly on the havoc wreaked on his city by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
As an in-demand sideman, he recorded with Levon Helm, Gregg Allman, Van Morrison, Harry Connick, Jr., Ringo Starr and B.B. King, among others.  He released “Triumvirate,” a “super session” date with guitarists Mike Bloomfield and John Hammond, Jr., in 1973.
His turns on the big screen ranged from a memorable performance in Martin Scorsese’s documentary about the Band’s farewell performance “The Last Waltz” (1978) to an appearance as a member of the fictional “Louisiana Gator Boys” in “Blues Brothers 2000” (1998). He guested regularly on the New Orleans-set HBO dramatic series “Treme” in 2010-13.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
He was born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, Jr., in New Orleans on Nov. 21, 1940, and raised in the city’s Third Ward. He grew up in a musical environment, and began playing the family piano early. He acquired a guitar as an adolescent, and it became his principal instrument during his early professional career.
Fats Domino’s guitarist Walter “Papoose” Nelson became an inspiration and mentor. In his early teens, and his father introduced him to Cosimo Matassa, whose studio J&M Music spawned major R&B hits by Domino and other local R&B stars.
By the time he dropped out of Jesuit High School in the 11th grade, he had already acquired a taste for heroin and the chops to work as a session guitarist at J&M, where he played his first date behind singer Paul Gayten.
During this period, he got to know some of the city’s most influential keyboardists, including Professor Longhair and the eccentric virtuoso James Booker (who taught him to play organ and later joined Dr. John’s touring band).
He recorded steadily, appearing on local hits by Jerry Byrne (“Lights Out”) and Roland Stone (“Down the Road,” aka “Junko Partner”) and as a leader (including the 1959 instrumental “Storm Warning”). He also worked as an A&R man and sideman for Johnny Vincent’s Ace Records.
On Christmas Eve 1961 on a tour stop in Jacksonville, Fla., Rebennack and pianist Ronnie Barron got involved in a scuffle with a motel owner, and the guitarist was shot in his fretting hand, nearly severing the ring finger on his fretting hand. During a slow recovery, he moved first to bass, and later to keyboards.
The studio scene in New Orleans was beginning to dry up in the early ‘60s when Rebennack was busted for heroin possession, drawing a two-year sentence in federal prison in Texas.
On his release from jail in 1965, he headed to Los Angeles, where a group of New Orleans expatriates that included producer-arranger Harold Battiste had set up shop as studio musicians. He worked with, among others, Canned Heat, the Mothers of Invention and Sonny & Cher.
In L.A., Rebennack moved to fulfill a lingering musical concept grounded in New Orleans history that he had originally developed for the reluctant Ronnie Barron.
In his 1994 autobiography “Under a Hoodoo Moon,” he wrote, “In the 1840s and 1850s, one New Orleans root doctor was preeminent in the city for the awe in which he was held by the poor and the fear and notoriety he inspired among the rich. Known variously as John Montaigne, Bayou John, and most often Dr. John, he was a figure larger than life.”
Using studio time left over from a Sonny & Cher session, Rebennack and Battiste cut an album of hazy, incantatory songs steeped in Crescent City voodoo imagery. Issued by Atlantic Records’ Atco subsidiary as “Gris-Gris,” the collection failed to chart, but it inaugurated several years of extroverted live shows that established Dr. John as a unique under-the-radar performer.
Three more similarly styled albums – “Babylon” (1969), “Remedies” (1970) and “The Sun Moon and Herbs” (1971) – deepened the Dr. John image; the latter album, recorded in London, included guest appearances by Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger.
However, he turned away from his original swampy style for an album he described in the notes as “More Gumbo, Less Gris Gris.” Co-produced by Battiste and Jerry Wexler, “Gumbo” (1972) was devoted to covers of New Orleans roots music by Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith, Sugarboy Crawford and others; its good-time Mardi Gras atmosphere lifted it to No. 112 on the charts.
His first set with Toussaint and the Meters became his biggest commercial success: “In the Right Place” (No. 24, 1973) included the No. 9 single “Right Place Wrong Time.” While the follow-up LP “Desitively Bonnaroo” (1974) failed to duplicate its predecessor’s popularity, its title inspired the name of the popular Bonaroo Festival.
A schism with Atlantic – possibly prompted by Wexler’s daughter Anita’s introduction to heroin by Dr. John – led to a period of label-jumping by the musician.
In 1989, he landed at Warner Bros. Records with “In a Sentimental Mood,” a well-received set of standards elegantly produced by Tommy LiPuma that included the Grammy-winning duet with Jones. That year, he finally kicked his more than three-decade addiction to heroin. Another Grammy winner, the self-descriptive “Goin’ Back to New Orleans,” followed in 1992.
He abided as an “eminence gris-gris” for the remainder of his career. He settled in for a long stay at Blue Note Records in the new millennium; his five-album sojourn for the imprint was inaugurated the Ellington tribute “Duke Elegant” in 2000. (His homage to trumpeter Armstrong, “Ske-Dat-De-Dat,” was released by Concord in 2014.
The intensely felt “City That Care Forgot” was succeeded by the atypical “Locked Down” for Nonesuch Records in 2012; the album, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and eschewing pianistics for a tough hard rock-based sound, also collected a Grammy as best blues album.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Blues Legend Jody Williams: February 3, 1935 -- December 1, 2018


photo by Dan Machnik

Famed Chicago blues guitarist/vocalist and Blues Hall Of Fame member Jody Williams, who recorded with legends including Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Spann and his childhood friend Bo Diddley, as well as under his own name, died of cancer at the Munster Med Inn in Munster, Indiana on December 1, 2018. He lived in nearby St. John, Indiana. He was 83.

One of the last and most accomplished practitioners of the golden 1950s era of Chicago blues, Williams was well-known for his instantly recognizable stinging guitar tone, a keen vibrato and a sensibility that straddled the turf between gutbucket blues, sophisticated jazzy West Coast stylings and even vintage rockabilly, along with solid vocals and thoughtful songwriting. His often-replicated guitar parts were crucial to some of the most iconic songs of the genre, including on Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love and I’m Bad, Howlin’ Wolf’s Evil and Forty Four, Billy Boy Arnold’s I Wish You Would and I Ain’t Got You, and Sonny Boy Williamson’s Don’t Start Me Talking.

Joseph Leon (Jody) Williams was born in Mobile, Alabama on February 3, 1935 and moved to Chicago around age five. After he began exploring music on harmonica and jaw harp, he met Ellas McDaniel (the future Bo Diddley) at a talent show. Bo taught him an open guitar tuning and they began working the streets together in 1951. Williams began playing clubs at age 17 and went on to record under his own name (including his influential instrumental anthem Lucky Lou). Williams was the first Chicago blues guitarist to master B.B. King’s stringbending-based approach and influenced the young modernists of the day such as Otis Rush and Buddy Guy. He served for years as the house guitarist at Chess Records and backed a varied list of artists including Jimmy Witherspoon, Floyd Dixon, Dale Hawkins and Bobby Charles. He played on Buddy Morrow’s big band version of Rib Joint, and dueled with B.B. King on an Otis Spann 45 for the Checker label. He also played on multiple rock ‘n’ roll package tours. In 1958 he was called to the army, serving his tour of duty in Germany. Returning to Chicago, Williams studied computers and engineering. He left the music business in the 1960s.

Williams returned to public performance in 2000. Focusing on being a band leader and songwriter, Williams recorded two very well-received CDs of predominantly original material, 2002’s Return Of A Legend and 2004's You Left Me In the Dark, both for Evidence Records. Living Blues said, "Williams is a modern-day standard bearer for a still-vital style that continues to impress, exhilarate and inspire fifty years after he first helped create it." The success of the CDs led him to play festivals all over the country in addition to dates overseas. He was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in Memphis in 2013 and into the Chicago Blues Hall Of Fame in 2015.

Williams is survived by his wife Jeanne Hadenfelt, his daughters Marilyn Murphy and Sissy Williams, sons Anthony and Jason Williams, grandchildren Justin, Noel, Joseph, Joshua, River and Ethan Williams and Gerold Murphy, and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Sunday, December 9
Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, IL

2:00PM - Wake

3:00PM - Service

Friday, June 1, 2018

Eddy Clearwater has passed - My thoughts are with his family and friends


Grammy-nominated Chicago blues legend Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater died of heart failure on Friday, June 1, in his hometown of Skokie, Illinois. He was 83.

Born Edward Harrington on January 10, 1935 in Macon, Mississippi, Clearwater (as he came to be known) was internationally lauded for his blues-rocking guitar playing, his original songs and his flamboyant showmanship. He was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2016, and also won two Blues Music Awards including Contemporary Male Blues Artist Of The Year in 2001.

Clearwater was equally comfortable playing the deepest, most intense blues or his own brand of rocking, good-time party music – a style he called “rock-a-blues,” mixing blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel. Between his slashing guitar work and his room-filling vocals, Clearwater was among the very finest practitioners of the West Side style of Chicago blues. DownBeat called him “a forceful six-stringer...He lays down gritty West Side shuffles and belly-grinding slow blues that highlight his raw chops, soulful vocals, and earthy, humorous lyrics." Blues Revue said he played “joyous rave-ups. He testifies with stunning soul fervor and powerful guitar. He is one of the blues’ finest songwriters.”

Clearwater's musical talent became clear early on. From his Mississippi birthplace, He and his family moved to Birmingham, AL in 1948 when he was 13. With music from blues to gospel to country & western surrounding him from an early age, Clearwater taught himself to play guitar (left-handed and upside down), and began performing with various gospel groups, including the legendary Five Blind Boys of Alabama. After moving to Chicago in 1950, he stayed with an uncle and took a job as a dishwasher, saving as much as he could from his $37 a week salary. His first music jobs were with gospel groups playing in local churches. Through his uncle’s contacts, Clearwater met many of Chicago’s blues stars. He fell deeper under the spell of the blues, and befriended Magic Sam, who would become one of Clearwater’s closest friends and teachers.

By 1953, as Guitar Eddy, he was making a strong name for himself, working the South and West Side bars regularly. After hearing Chuck Berry in 1957, Clearwater added a rock and roll element to his already searing blues style, creating a unique signature sound. He recorded his first single, Hill Billy Blues, for his uncle’s Atomic H label in 1958 under the name Clear Waters (his manager at the time, drummer Jump Jackson, came up with the name as a play on Muddy Waters). The name Clear Waters morphed into Eddy Clearwater. He worked the Chicago club circuit steadily throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s. He found huge success in the 1970s among the city's college crowd, who responded to his individual brand of blues, his rock and roll spirit and his high energy stage show.

Clearwater's first full-length LP, 1980’s The Chief, was the initial release on Chicago’s Rooster Blues label, launching him onto the national and international blues scene. Over the decades he recorded over 15 solo albums and never stopped touring, with fans from Chicago to Japan to Poland. His 2003 album on Bullseye Blues, Rock ‘N’ Roll City, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. He released West Side Strut on Alligator in 2008 to both international popular and critical acclaim. His most recent CD was the self-released Soul Funky in 2014.

Clearwater is survived by his wife, Renee Greenman Harrington Clearwater, children Heather Greenman, Alyssa Jacquelyn, David Knopf, Randy Greenman, Jason Harrington and Edgar Harrington and grandchildren Gabriella Knopf and Graham Knopf.

Services will be held on Tuesday, June 5 at 11:00am at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 8851 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tom Petty has passed - My thoughts are with his family

Tom Petty, the American rocker who fronted one of the country’s longest-running, most successful bands, is dead at 66, according to his longtime manager.
Petty had suffered cardiac arrest at his Malibu home early Monday morning “and was taken to UCLA Medical center but could not be revived,” Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, said in a statement on behalf of the musician’s family. “He died peacefully at 8:40pm PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
The news came hours after TMZ first reported that Petty was found unconscious in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home. CBS News later reported his death, but the outlet walked back that report as the Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement that it had no information on Petty’s passing. “Initial information was inadvertantly [sic] provided to some media sources,” the police department posted on Twitter. “However, the LAPD has no investigative role in this matter. We apologize for any inconvenience in this reporting.” TMZ followed up with a post around 1:30 p.m. PST that Petty was “still clinging to life. A report that the LAPD confirmed the singer’s death is inaccurate.”

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Steely Dan founder and guitarist, Walter Becker, has passed. My thoughts are with his family.

Walter Becker, the guitarist and bassist for the popular rock band Steely Dan, died Sunday. He was 67.
News of Becker's death was confirmed by a tribute post on his official website, though no cause of death was given.
Becker was forced to bow out of two Steely Dan performances earlier this month after undergoing an unidentified "procedure," according to bandmate Donald Fagen.
Fagen released a heartfelt statement on the passing of his longtime collaborator, praising Becker's skills as a musician and his killer sense of humor.

"Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967," Fagen wrote. "Walter had a very rough childhood — I'll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of a creative mimicry, reading people's hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art."
He added, "I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band."
The Queens-bred Becker and Fagen launched their musical legacy together in the early '70s.

After working as songwriters penning tunes for artists like Barbra Streisand, they formed Steely Dan — named after a strap-on dildo mentioned in the William S. Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch" — and in 1972, released their debut album, "Can't Buy a Thrill."
Throughout the decade, they rose to fame with hits like "Reelin' in the Years," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (though Fegan once said he and Becker weren't very fond of the track) and "Dirty Work," which would go on to become classic rock staples thanks to their jazzy tunes and clever lyrics, often steeped in black humor and irony.
Looking back on the band’s success throughout the ‘70s, Becker said in 1993 that the music Steely Dan churned out over the years ultimately helped set him up for life

“I would say that basically I’m still resting on those laurels quite comfortably,” he said. “It opens doors. When I meet people and players for the first time, they’re already on my side. It’s been just a very good and very positive influence on people I meet and work with.”
Disputes over personal and legal troubles caused the band to part ways in 1981 after seven albums together, but Steely Dan ultimately rejoined forces in 1993 and have spent the last two decades touring.
“In truth, our original bit was put together very quickly, and it got kind of frantic in the first couple of years of touring and making records. I guess we figured we’d be deceased at an early date, so we figured we’d cool it for a few decades,” Fagen told Rolling Stone in 2013 of Steely Dan’s bumpy road.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 after a career spanning nearly four decades, nine Grammy nominations and three wins, all three of which came in 2000 for the album "Two Against Nature."
Becker enjoyed a brief solo career as well, releasing “11 Tracks of Whack” in 1994 during a stint living in Hawaii as an avocado rancher, and his final album, “Circus Money,” in 2008.
During press tours for his debut solo album, Becker explained that he was enjoying his time out of the spotlight and embracing the role of family man.
“The perfect day for me is waking up and having a cup of tea with my kids before I drive them to school, then I go into the studio and try and write some music for three or four hours and give up about noon,” he told Jazziz in 1993.
But he remained a vocal fan of his time spent on-stage with Fagen, which helps explain the band’s longevity and their passion for touring.
“It’s just such a good band and magic stuff happens all the time, and there’s stuff that happens when you’re playing together where you get into a kind of group mind that’s very thrilling,” Becker said in 2008 of touring with Steely Dan. “I’m sure that other people experience the same kind of thing in all sorts of other realms, but for me, it happens when I’m playing with other people.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

J Geils has passed - My thoughts are with his family

John Warren Geils Jr., the founding guitarist behind the ’70s and ’80s rock powerhouse J. Geils Band, died at his longtime home in Massachusetts on Tuesday. He was 71.
Donald Palma Jr., the chief of police in Groton, Mass., confirmed Geils’ death on Tuesday night, saying in a press release that an early investigation suggested Geils died of “natural causes” and that “foul play is not suspected at this time.”
Geils founded his eponymous band in 1967, when he attended the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. The band -- with singer Peter Wolf -- was known for its deft, bluesy guitar work. After touring with the Byrds and the Allman Brothers, the band achieved its breakout success in the ’70s and early ’80s with the release of hit singles like “Must of Got Lost,” “Give It to Me” and “Love Stinks.”
“We were a rock, blues, R&B, rootsy band until we developed our own sound," Wolf told The Times in 1994. "[I]t's always cool to rediscover the masters like Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson. I still feel like a student-pilgrim."

But in 1982, its album “Freeze-Frame” was an even bigger smash on the strength of the hit single “Centerfold.” That track spent six weeks atop the pop charts in the U.S., with “Freeze-Frame” atop the album charts for four weeks. The band would go on to land 10 top-40 singles in its career.
The group recorded 11 studio albums before breaking up in 1985. Though it occasionally reunited, Geils broke with the band when it toured under his name without him. The group was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Lonnie Brooks has passed - My thoughts are with his family

Grammy-nominated Chicago blues icon Lonnie Brooks, whose music Rolling Stone called, "witty, soulful and ferociously energetic...simply astonishing guitar work," died on Saturday, April 1, 2017 in Chicago, according to his son, Ronnie Baker Brooks. He was 83. Guitar Player described him as “ a fire-and-brimstone preacher, testifying the blues from the bottom of his soul.”

With his "booming, gritty vocals and fierce six-string firepower” (Chicago Tribune), Brooks created an instantly recognizable signature sound. It combined Chicago blues, rock ‘n’ roll, Memphis soul, swampy Louisiana grooves and country twang into a style that his fellow musicians called "voodoo blues." He was inducted into the Port Arthur Historical Society Hall Of Fame in 2001 and the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2010. On June 12, 2012 Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared Lonnie Brooks Day in Chicago.

Lonnie Brooks was born Lee Baker, Jr. on December 18, 1933. Over the course of his 60-year career, he recorded 11 full albums and dozens of 45s for a number of labels. His career began in Port Arthur, Texas in the mid-1950s. Recording under the name Guitar Junior, he scored a string of regional hits, including Family Rules and The Crawl for the Goldband label.

The success of his singles led to numerous southern tours and a busy performance schedule that included dancehalls, juke joints and roadhouses across Texas and Louisiana. In 1959, Lonnie befriended the great Sam Cooke, who suggested his move to Chicago. Once settled, he changed his name to Lonnie Brooks (Chicago already had a Guitar Junior) and became infatuated with the sound of deep Chicago blues. He soon landed a job as a sideman with blues hitmaker Jimmy Reed, with whom he toured and recorded. Brooks cut a handful of singles throughout the 1960s, as well as appearing on a number of Chicago blues and R&B recording sessions. He played nightly in the bars on the South and West sides of Chicago and in Gary and East Chicago, Indiana. In 1969, Capitol Records released Brooks’ first album, Broke an’ Hungry, under his old stage name, Guitar Junior.

In 1978, Brooks recorded four songs for Alligator Records' Grammy-nominated Living Chicago Blues anthology. This led to a full contract with the label. His Alligator debut, Bayou Lightning, was released in 1979. The album, along with Brooks' roof-raising live performances, brought him to the attention of Rolling Stone, which ran a six-page feature on the legendary musician. The album won the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque Award from the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival. While appearing in Montreux, Lonnie befriended country star Roy Clark. Clark was so impressed with Lonnie that he arranged an appearance for Lonnie on the popular country music television show Hee Haw.

Constant touring in the U.S. and abroad kept Brooks in the public eye. His scorching 1980 live performance of Sweet Home Chicago on the Blues Deluxe album (resulting in Brooks' second Grammy nomination) is now considered the quintessential version of the song. A 1982 trip to Germany resulted in an hour-long Lonnie Brooks special shown on German television. BBC radio broadcast an hour-long live performance across all of Great Britain in 1987. Brooks spent the summer of 1993 on a national concert tour with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Junior Wells and Eric Johnson. In 1995 Eric Clapton honored Brooks by inviting the bluesman on stage for an unforgettable impromptu jam at Chicago's Buddy Guy’s Legends club. In 1998 alone, he appeared in the film Blues Brothers 2000, performed on The Late Show With David Letterman and co-authored (along with his son Wayne Baker Brooks and music scribe Cub Koda) the book Blues For Dummies.

His final two releases, 1996's Roadhouse Rules and 1999's Lone Star Shootout (recorded with fellow Gulf Coast blues veterans Long John Hunter and Phillip Walker), showed Brooks at his very best -- an electrifying guitarist with full-throated vocals, clever original songs, and a dedication to having fun. His recording of It's Your World from Roadhouse Rules was featured in an episode of HBO's The Sopranos. In 2008, Brooks appeared in the film The Express -- The Ernie Davis Story. Lonnie also appeared in two award-winning Heineken beer commercials.

Among Brooks' proudest accomplishments was the success of his talented guitar-playing sons, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Wayne Baker Brooks. Lonnie always encouraged and mentored the boys as they were growing up. Ronnie even toured with his dad while still a teenager. Both Wayne and Ronnie lead their own bands and have released critically acclaimed recordings. In 2011 and 2012, Lonnie, Ronnie and Wayne toured as The Brooks Family Dynasty, showcasing three world-class blues guitarists -- a father and his sons -- standing shoulder to shoulder, delivering thunderous performances. Lonnie's last recording appearance was as a guest on Ronnie's latest album, Times Have Changed.

Lonnie Brooks' larger-than-life personality and abundance of pure talent made him beloved worldwide, leading The Chicago Tribune to declare his music "a joyful paean to the power of the blues." 

Brooks is survived by sisters Erma, Geraldine, Jerryline, Carol, Patricia (preceded him in death), brothers Herman, Cliff, Joe, MC (all preceded him in death), Ahal and Willie, Shirley, mother of his son Lee Baker III and daughter Linda Baker Williams (preceded him in death), Jeannine, mother of his sons Ronnie Baker Brooks, Wayne Baker Brooks, Russell Baker, Robert Lauderdale and daughters Denise Baker Parker, Jackie Graham and Gina Baker Landers, with a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.

The family would like to thank all of his worldwide fans for their love, support and loyalty over his 60 year long career.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry has died. Our prayers are with his family

Rock 'n' roll icon and musical master Chuck Berry died Saturday at his home west of St. Louis, Missouri, authorities confirmed. He was 90.
The guitarist and musican defined the art form's joy and rebellion in such classics as "Johnny B. Goode," ''Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Roll Over Beethoven" in a career that spanned 7 decades and earned him countless accolades.
Emergency personnel summoned to Berry's residence by his caretaker about 12:40 p.m. found him unresponsive, police in Missouri's St. Charles County said in a statement. Attempts to revive Berry failed, and he was pronounced shortly before 1:30 p.m., police said.
A police spokeswoman, Val Joyner, said she had no additional details about the death of Berry, calling him  "really a legend."
Berry's core repertoire was some three dozen songs, his influence incalculable, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to virtually any group from garage band to arena act that called itself rock 'n roll. While Elvis Presley gave rock its libidinous, hip-shaking image, Berry was the auteur, setting the template for a new sound and way of life. Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.
"He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the '50s when people were singing, "Oh, baby, I love you so,'" John Lennon once observed.
Berry, in his late 20s before his first major hit, crafted lyrics that spoke to the teenagers of the day and remained fresh decades later. "Sweet Little Sixteen" captured rock 'n' roll fandom, an early and innocent ode to the young girls later known as "groupies." ''School Day" told of the sing-song trials of the classroom ("American history and practical math; you're studying hard, hoping to pass...") and the liberation of rock 'n' roll once the day's final bell rang.

"Roll Over Beethoven" was an anthem to rock's history-making power, while "Rock and Roll Music" was a guidebook for all bands that followed ("It's got a back beat, you can't lose it"). "Back in the U.S.A." was a black man's straight-faced tribute to his country at a time there was no guarantee Berry would be served at the drive-ins and corner cafes he was celebrating.
"Everything I wrote about wasn't about me, but about the people listening," he once said.

"Johnny B. Goode," the tale of a guitar-playing country boy whose mother tells him he'll be a star, was Berry's signature song, the archetypal narrative for would-be rockers and among the most ecstatic recordings in the music's history. Berry can hardly contain himself as the words hurry out ("Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans/Way back up in the woods among the evergreens") and the downpour of guitar, drums and keyboards amplifies every call of "Go, Johnny Go!"

The song was inspired in part by Johnnie Johnson, the boogie-woogie piano master who collaborated on many Berry hits, but the story could have easily been Berry's, Presley's or countless others'. Commercial calculation made the song universal: Berry had meant to call Johnny a "colored boy," but changed "colored" to "country," enabling not only radio play, but musicians of any color to imagine themselves as stars.

"Chances are you have talent," Berry later wrote of the song. "But will the name and the light come to you? No! You have to go!"
Johnny B. Goode could have only been a guitarist. The guitar was rock 'n' roll's signature instrument and Berry's clarion sound, a melting pot of country flash and rhythm 'n blues drive, turned on at least a generation of musicians, among them the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, who once acknowledged he had "lifted every lick" from his hero; the Beatles' George Harrison; Bruce Springsteen; and the Who's Pete Townshend.
When NASA launched the unmanned Voyager I in 1977, an album was stored on the craft that would explain music on Earth to extraterrestrials. The one rock song included was "Johnny B. Goode."
Charles Edward Anderson Berry was born in St. Louis on Oct. 18, 1926. As a child he practiced a bent-leg stride that enabled him to slip under tables, a prelude to the duck walk of his adult years. His mother, like Johnny B. Goode's, told him he would make it, and make it big.

A fan of blues, swing and boogie woogie, Berry studied the very mechanics of music and how it was transmitted. As a teenager, he loved to take radios apart and put them back together. Using a Nick Manoloff guitar chord book, he learned how to play the hits of the time. He was fascinated by chord progressions and rhythms, discovering that many songs borrowed heavily from the Gershwins' "I Got Rhythm."

He began his musical career at age 15 when he went on stage at a high school review to do his own version of Jay McShann's "Confessin' the Blues." Berry would never forget the ovation he received.
"Long did the encouragement of that performance assist me in programming my songs and even their delivery while performing," he wrote in his autobiography. "I added and deleted according to the audiences' response to different gestures, and chose songs to build an act that would constantly stimulate my audience."
Meanwhile, his troubles with the law began, in 1944, when a joy riding trip to Kansas City turned into a crime spree involving armed robberies and car theft. Berry served three years of a 10-year sentence at a reformatory.

A year after his October 1947 release, Berry met and married Themetta Suggs, who stayed by his side despite some of his well-publicized indiscretions. Berry then started sitting in with local bands. By 1950, he had graduated to a six-string electric guitar and was making his own crude recordings on a reel to reel machine.
On New Year's Eve 1952 at The Cosmopolitan club in East St. Louis, Illinois, Johnson called Berry to fill in for an ailing saxophonist in his Sir John Trio.
"He gave me a break" and his first commercial gig, for $4, Berry later recalled. "I was excited. My best turned into a mess. I stole the group from Johnnie."

Influenced by bandleader Louis Jourdan, blues guitarist T-Bone Walker and jazz man Charlie Christian, but also hip to country music, novelty songs and the emerging teen audiences of the post-World War II era, Berry signed with Chicago's Chess Records in 1955. "Maybellene" reworked the country song "Ida Red" and rose into the top 10 of the national pop charts, a rare achievement for a black artist at that time. According to Berry, label owner Leonard Chess was taken by the novelty of a "hillbilly song sung by a black man," an inversion of Presley's covers of blues songs.
Several hits followed, including "Roll Over Beethoven," ''School Day" and "Sweet Little Sixteen." Among his other songs: "Too Much Monkey Business," ''Nadine," ''No Particular Place To Go," ''Almost Grown" and the racy novelty number "My Ding-A-Ling," which topped the charts in 1972.
Berry also appeared in a dozen movies, doing his distinctive bent-legged "duck-walk" in several teen exploitation flicks of the '50s. Richards organized the well-received 1987 documentary "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll," a concert at St. Louis' Fox Theatre to celebrate Berry's 60th birthday. It featured Eric Clapton, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, who recalled being told by his own mother that Berry, not he, was the true king of rock 'n' roll.

Country, pop and rock artists have recorded Berry songs, including the Beatles ("Roll Over Beethoven"), Emmylou Harris ("You Never Can Tell"), Buck Owens ("Johnny B. Goode") and AC/DC ("School Days"). The Rolling Stones' first single was a cover of Berry's "Come On" and they went on to perform and record "Around and Around," ''Let it Rock" and others. Berry riffs pop up in countless songs, from the Stones' ravenous "Brown Sugar" to the Eagles' mellow country-rock ballad "Peaceful Easy Feeling."
Some stars covered him too well. The Beach Boys borrowed the melody of "Sweet Little Sixteen" for their surf anthem "Surfin' U.S.A." without initially crediting Berry. The Beatles' "Come Together," written by John Lennon, was close enough to Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" to inspire a lawsuit by music publisher Morris Levy. In an out of court settlement, Lennon agreed to record "You Can't Catch Me" for his 1975 "Rock n' Roll" album.

Berry himself was accused of theft. In 2000, Johnson sued Berry over royalties and credit he believed he was due for the songs they composed together over more than 20 years of collaboration. The lawsuit was dismissed two years later, but Richards was among those who believed Johnson had been cheated, writing in his memoir "Life" that Johnson set up the arrangements for Berry and was so essential to the music that many of Berry's songs were recorded in keys more suited for the piano.

Openly money-minded, Berry was an entrepreneur with a St. Louis nightclub and, in a small town west of there, property he dubbed Berry Park, which included a home, guitar-shaped swimming pool, restaurant, cottages and concert venue. He declined to have a regular band and instead used local musicians, willing to work cheap. Springsteen was among those who had an early gig backing Berry.
Burned by an industry that demanded a share of his songwriting credits, Berry was deeply suspicious of even his admirers, as anybody could tell from watching him give Richards the business in "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll." For the movie's concerts, he confounded Richards by playing songs in different keys and tempos than they had been in rehearsal. Richards would recall turning to his fellow musicians and shrugging, "Wing it, boys."

His career nearly ended decades earlier, when he was indicted for violating the Mann Act, which barred transportation of a minor across state lines for "immoral purposes." An all-white jury found him guilty in 1960, but the charges were vacated after the judge made racist comments. A trial in 1961 led to his serving 1 1/2 years of a three-year term. Berry continued to record after getting out, and his legacy was duly honored by the Beatles and the Stones, but his hit-making days were essentially over.
"Down from stardom/then I fell/to this lowly prison cell," Berry wrote as his jail time began.
Tax charges came in 1979, and another three-year prison sentence, all but 120 days of which was suspended. Some former female employees later sued him for allegedly videotaping them in the bathroom of his restaurant. The cases were settled in 1994, after Berry paid $1.3 million.
"Every 15 years, in fact, it seems I make a big mistake," Berry acknowledged in his memoir.

Still, echoing the lyrics of "Back in the U.S.A.," he said: "There's no other place I would rather live, including Africa, than America. I believe in the system."
Berry announced on his 90th birthday in late 2016 that he would soon be releasing his first new album in 38 years. The album “Chuck” is set to contain new songs performed by Berry’s longtime backing group, including his kids Charles Berry, Jr. and Ingrid Berry. Its release date had not yet been announced at the time of his death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

James Cotton has passed - My thoughts are with his family

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — James Cotton, a Grammy Award-winning blues harmonica master whose full-throated sound backed such blues legends as Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Howlin' Wolf, has died at age 81.
A statement from Alligator Records, Cotton's label, says he died Thursday of pneumonia at St. David's Medical Center in Austin.
The Mississippi Delta native performed professionally since age 9. Cotton backed Muddy Waters in his landmark album "At Newport" on Chess Records.

After going solo in the 1960s, Cotton released almost 30 albums, including his 1996 Grammy Award-winning Verve album, "Deep In The Blues." His most recent album, "Cotton Mouth Man" for Alligator Records in 2013, was nominated for a Grammy.

James Henry Cotton (July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017) was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, who performed and recorded with many of the great blues artists of his time and with his own band. He played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing.
Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin' Wolf's band in the early 1950s. He made his first recordings in Memphis for Sun Records, under the direction of Sam Phillips. In 1955, he was recruited by Muddy Waters to come to Chicago and join his band. Cotton became Waters's bandleader and stayed with the group until 1965. In 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with Waters's band. He eventually left Waters to form his own full-time touring group. His first full album, on Verve Records, was produced by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and vocalist and songwriter Nick Gravenites, who later were members of the band Electric Flag.
In the 1970s, Cotton played harmonica on Waters's Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Guitar Virtuoso Larry Coryell has passed - My thoughts and prayers are with his family

NEW YORK – Legendary guitarist Larry Coryell died on Sunday, February 19 in New York City. Coryell, 73, passed away in his sleep at his hotel from natural causes. He’d performed his last two shows on Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18, at the Iridium in New York City.
As one of the pioneers of jazz-rock -- perhaps the pioneer in the ears of some (he’s known to many as the Godfather of Fusion) -- Larry Coryell deserves a special place in the history books. He brought what amounted to a nearly alien sensibility to jazz electric guitar playing in the 1960s, a hard-edged, cutting tone, phrasing and note-bending that owed as much to blues, rock and even country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences.
Yet as a true eclectic, armed with a brilliant technique, he was comfortable in almost every style, covering almost every base from the most decibel-heavy, distortion-laden electric work to the most delicate, soothing, intricate lines on acoustic guitar.
Born in Galveston, Texas on April 2, 1943 Coryell grew up in the Seattle, Washington area where his mother introduced him to the piano at the age of 4. He switched to guitar and played rock music while in his teens. He didn't consider himself good enough to pursue a music career and studied journalism at The University of Washington while simultaneously taking private guitar lessons.
By 1965 he had relocated to New York City and began taking classical guitar lessons which would figure prominently in the later stages of his career. Although citing Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry as early influences he also took cues from jazzmen such as John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery. He was also inspired by the popular music of the day by The Beatles, The Byrds and Bob Dylan and worked diligently to meld both rock and jazz stylings into his technique. This was reflected on his debut recording performance on drummer Chico Hamilton's album The Dealer where he sounded like Chuck Berry at times with his almost distorted "fat" tone.
In 1966 he formed a psychedelic band called The Free Spirits on which he also sang vocals, played the sitar and did most of the composing. Although conceptually the band's music conformed to the psychedelic formula with titles like "Bad News Cat" and" I'm Gonna Be Free" it foreshadowed jazz-rock fusion with more complex soloing by Coryell and sax/flute player Jim Pepper.
However, it wasn't until three years later after apprenticing on albums by vibraphonist Gary Burton and flutist Herbie Mann and gigging with the likes of Jack Bruce and others that Coryell established his multifarious musical voice, releasing two solo albums (Lady Coryell and Coryell) which mixed jazz, classical and rock ingredients.
In late 1969 he recorded Spaces, the album for which he is most noted. It was a guitar blow-out which also included John McLaughlin who was also sitting on the fence between rock and jazz at the time and the cogitative result formed what many aficionados consider to be the embryo from which the fusion jazz movement of the 1970s emerged. It contained insane tempos and fiery guitar exchanges which were often beyond category not to mention some innovating acoustic bass work by Miroslav Vitous and power drumming by Billy Cobham, both of whom were to make contributions to jazz-rock throughout the 70s.
His career as a significant guitar force in the era of late 60s and early 70s music continued to take flight in a time when guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana and many other iconic names also blossomed. His varied musical expression took him on a diverse journey, and though he did not receive the level of commercial fame some of his guitarist contemporaries enjoyed, he was still able to make his timeless mark in music through his highly acclaimed solo work (he released well over 60 solo albums), his performances with powerhouse fusion band The Eleventh House and numerous collaborations with a host of jazz greats including of Miles Davis, Gary Burton, Alphonse Mouzon, Ron Carter, Chet Baker and many other noteworthy artists of all styles.
Larry still toured the world right up until his passing and had planned an extensive 2017 summer tour with a reformed The Eleventh House.
His most recent releases are Barefoot Man: Sanpaku, released on October 14, 2016 on Cleopatra Records and an upcoming Eleventh House release, entitled Seven Secrets, which will be released on the Savoy Jazz label on June 2.
His final original works included operas based on Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Anna Karenina and James Joyce's Ulysses.
He is survived by his wife, Tracey, his daughter Annie, his sons Murali and Julian, and his daughter Allegra, as well as six grandchildren.
A memorial service is being planned Friday February 24th at the S.G.I-USA Buddhist center at 7 east 15th St. at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Allman Brothers drummer ButchTrucks shot himself - My prayers are with his friends and family

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks killed himself in front of his wife, police reports released Wednesday show.
The 69-year-old Trucks shot himself in the head Jan. 27 at his home, the West Palm Beach police reports show.

'My husband just shot himself! My husband just shot himself!,' the wife of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks screams into the phone seconds after what sounds like a gunshot. has obtained from police the audio of the 911 call that Melinda Trucks, the legendary drummer's wife of more than 25 years, placed January. 24 when the rocker took his own life in his waterfront condo in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The heavily edited recording -- police stripped all identifying words from the original -- starts with a loud noise believed to be the moment Trucks pulled the trigger on the pistol he held to his head as Melinda lets out blood-curdling screams.
'Allo, allo, my husband just shot himself,' Melinda yells into the phone. 'My husband just shot himself.'
'What did he shoot himself with,' the 911 operator asks.
'A pistol,' Melinda replies as the voice of a man sounds off in the background. According to the original police report, Trucks' singer son Vaylor may have been at the scene.
'Is he breathing still, though,' the operator asks.
'No, no,' Melinda replies. 'He shot himself in the head.
'I can't look at him,' Melinda says. 'What do I do? Call the hospital? .... Oh, I can't touch him!'
'No ma'am, you don't have to call the hospital ... You don't have to touch him ... Paramedics and the police are on the way,' the operator responds. 'Just stay outside.'
The transcript of the frantic call made to West Palm Beach Police also provides the awful details of the drummer's death at home in the downtown waterfront Villa Del Lago complex.
A woman caller who is unidentified on the transcript but described as 'hysterical' dialed 911 at 6:02 p.m., the transcript shows. 

The transcript of the frantic call made to West Palm Beach Police about 6:00 p.m. also  provides the awful details of the drummer's death at home in the downtown waterfront Villa Del Lago complex.
A woman caller who is unidentified on the transcript but described as 'hysterical' dialed 911 at 6:02 p.m., the transcript shows. 
The police dispatcher reported the woman saying her 'husband just shot himself' with a pistol.
The caller used Trucks' real first name, Claude, when she identified the victim.
As several squad cars rolled toward the apartment building, the caller continued talking to the dispatcher although she was so distraught she couldn't speak in complete sentences.
Trucks suffered a gun shot wound to the head, the caller said. At that point, the caller wasn't sure Trucks was still breathing.
The dispatcher then radioed the officers that Trucks' wife, painter Melinda, and a son were waiting for police in the hallway outside the condo. Trucks had two adult children, a daughter and a son, Atlanta-based musician Vaylor Trucks.
The dispatcher noted Melinda witnessed Trucks pulling the trigger.
Although he was breathing when police arrived, the man considered by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 10 drummers in rock history expired seconds later as the dispatcher concluded the call by noting a 'Signal 7,' police code for a dead person.
Police refused to comment but put out a statement confirming that Trucks died in his condo, and investigators did not suspect foul play despite the fact the incident officially still is under investigation.

The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy Wednesday, but the results won't be known for weeks.
Kathleen Salata, a manager at Villa Del Lago, said Melinda was spotted by residents Wednesday but was 'completely distraught.'
Several residents walking their dogs said they had no clue that the shooting occurred in their building and didn't realize that a legendary rocker lived on the fifth floor.
Todd Brodginski, Trucks' publicist, didn't return repeated calls asking whether the musician appeared depressed as of late.
Palm Beach County court records, meanwhile, show Trucks appeared to be wrestling with financials problems as of late.
In 2011, Trucks had to sell his prized home in Palm Beach for $2 million when it was possibly worth twice as much to pay off a $800,000 mortgage that a bank was trying to foreclose on.
In 2014, Trucks and his wife spent $500,000 on the condo where he shot himself.
And he was hounded by the IRS, according to federal records.

A consummate Floridian, Trucks was born in the Jacksonville area and by age 8 played drums with local bands.
He was playing a gig in Daytona in the late 60s when he was approached by Gregg and Duane Allman. Together, they formed The Allman Brothers Band, which became one of the 70s most popular concert bands.
Trucks moved to the Palm Beach area in the early 1990s. He and Melinda had become stalwarts on the local charity circuit and often made appearances at high-profile dinners to benefit non-profit groups.
He was one of the Allman Brother's Bands two drummers. Through the years, the band broke up and reunited three times and Trucks was there for every reunion. 
During their most recent stretch, from 1999 to 2014, Trucks' own nephew Derek was brought into the band to play guitar.  
After the band's most recent break-up two years ago, Trucks started a new group called Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band. Trucks played his last show on January 6, and the group was scheduled for more shows this spring.
Trucks had been very open about his demons, including the drug and alcohol problem he developed in his early years in the band. 
Trucks told the Palm Beach Post that by 1974, the first thing he did in the morning was drink a beer or wine. He got into cocaine as a way to prolong the night. 
When the band first broke up in 1974, he says he tried to quit both by moving his family to Tallahassee and going back to school to finish college.  
While he was able to kick hard alcohol and drugs, he kept drinking wine.
After his kids left the house, Trucks and his wife moved to Palm Beach where his alcohol demons came back to bite him. 

'I promised myself no more than three glasses and I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it,' he said.  
In October 2001, he quit alcohol completely, without going to rehab of Alcoholics Anonymous. 
'You have to make the commitment deep down inside that this is enough. That you care more for the people around you than the booze. My message is 'life can get better,'' he said
Just this year, Rolling Stone named Trucks and bandmate Jai Johanny 'Jaimoe' Johanson among the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time.   

Trucks was one of two original drummers, along with Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson, who helped formed the rhythms and the drive for The Allman Brothers. Formed in 1969 and led by Duane and Gregg Allman, the group helped define the Southern rock sound that incorporated blues, rock, country and jazz.
Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Trucks joined with the Allman siblings to form the band, including guitarist Dickey Betts and bassist Berry Oakley. They moved to Macon, Georgia, to cut their first record with Capricorn Records.
The two drummers melded their individual styles, with Trucks considered to be the straightforward, driving train rhythm player, while Johanson added his R&B and jazz drumming influences.
The band's 1971 live album, "At Fillmore East," became their seminal breakthrough album, featuring a fusion of jazz, blues and rock. It featured songs like "You Don't Love Me" and a 22-minute version of "Whipping Post."
Trucks also helped encourage a family lineage of musicians. One nephew, Derek Trucks, is the frontman of the Tedeschi Trucks Band and also joined The Allman Brothers band in 1999 as a guitarist. Another nephew, Duane Trucks, is the drummer for Widespread Panic.
Trucks was most recently touring with his band, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train.

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