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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 deceased. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deceased. Show all posts

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

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.”

Tom Petty reportedly on life support after cardiac arrest - My thoughts are with his family

Tom Petty, the American rocker who fronted one of the country’s longest-running, most successful bands, is fighting for his life, according to reports.
TMZ first reported the news Monday that he was found unconscious in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home Sunday. CBS News later reported his death, which could not be independently confirmed. A representative for Petty did not immediately return The Washington Post’s inquiry.
A CBS Twitter account attributed the report of Petty’s death to the Los Angeles Police Department; the tweet has since been deleted.
“The LAPD has no information about the passing of singer Tom Petty. 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 that Petty was “still clinging to life. A report that the LAPD confirmed the singer’s death is inaccurate.”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had just concluded their 40th anniversary tour, which Petty had said would be the band’s last big, country-spanning tour. The group played shows at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 21, 22 and 25, and earlier on Monday, Petty’s official website posted a recap of the group’s final shows.
“It’s 1:22 a.m., and the last lighting, video and sound cases are getting loaded up and pushed off the stage at the Hollywood Bowl, where Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played three incredible sold-out, hometown shows to close out the band’s 40th Anniversary tour,” reads the blog post. “Fifty-three shows. Twenty-four states. Twelve lighting crew. Eleven truck drivers. Nine in Production. Seven sound guys. Six backline crew. Six months. Five opening acts. Three countries. Three riggers. One legendary band and over one million legendary fans. Thank you to all!”
In August, a series of shows was postponed as Petty recovered from laryngitis.
On Monday, a few hours before TMZ ran with the news, this throwback photo had been posted to Petty’s official Twitter account.

Originally from Florida, Petty rose to fame as the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, whose 1976 self-titled debut featured his unique nasal voice and guitar work. His career, both with the band and as a solo act, spanned decades and included hits such as “Rockin’ Around (With You),” “Breakdown,” “Free Fallin’” and “Last Dance with Mary Jane.”

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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.”

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Gregg Allman has died - My thoughts are with his family

Gregg Allman, one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, has died. He was 69.
The southern rocker's passing was announced on his official website, adding that Allman "passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia" on Saturday.
Allman's death comes after rumors circulated last month that he had entered hospice care. A rep for the rocker told ABC News that the rumors were not true.
Still, Allman had been suffering from ill health in recent years, dealing with a respiratory infection, a hernia, a liver transplant and an irregular heartbeat.
Back in March, he canceled all his 2017 tour dates to support his upcoming album "Southern Blood" due to his health.
Michael Lehman, a close friend of Allman's, said in a statement posted to his website: "I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music. He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard."
"His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans. Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend. We will all miss him," the statement concluded.
Allman is survived by his wife Shannon Allman along with their four children and three grandchildren.
According to his website, "The family will release a statement soon, but for now ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

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.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sharon Jones has passed - Our prayers are with her family

Sharon Jones, the soul and funk singer in Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, has died after long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 60. Her representative Judy Miller Silverman says she died Friday at a Cooperstown hospital surrounded by her band, the Dap-Kings. Silverman says in a statement, “Thank you for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time.”

Jones was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer in 2013.

Her story was told this year in a Barbara Kopple documentary called “Miss Sharon Jones!” The film documents her transformation into cancer patient and back into a full-throated force. 
Jones started her career in the 1970s as a soul singer, but she spent decades in obscurity before her debut album, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, came out in 2002. In 2014, Jones was nominated for her first Grammy, for the album Give the People What They Want. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Leon Russell has passed - Our thoughts and prayers are with his family

The artist, who is best known for the songs "Shine a Light" and "A Song for You", died in Nashville on Sunday.
“His wife said that he passed away in his sleep,” a statement posted on Russell’s website read.
The artist, who performed his gospel-inflenced southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over five decades,  was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2011.

Russell's colourful career saw him lead the famous Joe Cocker's ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ tour, perform with George Harrison and Friends and tour with everyone from Sir Elton John to Willie Nelson, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Edgar Winter and The New Grass Revival. He was a longtime hero of Sir Elton  and collaborated with him on a number of occasions. 
Born in Tulsa in Oklahoma, Russell embarked on his musical career at the age of just 14 in local nightclubs. By the 1950s he had moved to Los Angeles to become a session music, playing the piano on the songs of numerous 1960s musicians. Fast forward to 1970 and he had become a solo recording artist but continued to persist with his other numerous musical roles. His hit Shine a Light was featured on the 1972 Rolling Stones' album Exile on Main St.
He then dipped into relative obscurity for a period before coming back with a vengeance after he recorded The Onion alongside Sir Elton. This boosted his popularity until his last days, with him going on to release a solo album and tour the world.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Guy Clark has passed - My thoughts and Prayers are with his family.

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Guy Clark has died.
Clark died Tuesday at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, according to his manager, Keith Case. He was 74 and had been in poor health, although Case didn't give an official cause of death.
A native of Monahans, Texas, Clark was known for such hits as "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train," and his songs were covered by Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and many others. In 2014, his "My Favorite Picture of You" won a Grammy for best folk album.
Clark also was a mentor for such future stars as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell.

We've not left much room for the making of things that matter in this modern world. For the careful, private passion of handwork and contemplative creation. Instead of art we've embraced certain obsolescence, offshore manufacturing, factory farming, and digital truths that arrive with the half-life of a firefly. Packaging.
And yet the tradition somehow endures: homegrown tomatoes, locally brewed beer, hand-knit sweaters. Bits of jewelry. And a few careful songs which still seek to tell private and public truths. At least so long as Guy Clark and his loose-knit confederation of ornery musicians keep writing and recording them.
Which makes My Favorite Picture of You, Clark's first album of new material in four years, a rare and treasured work, a custom creation much like the guitars he fashions on a simple workbench downstairs. It is also, arguably, the most emotional album of his much-decorated career. Consider the lingering memories of its title track, the banked fury of "El Coyote," and an incautious number titled "The High Price of Inspiration." And, alas, "The Death of Sis Draper," a fictional character about whom Clark and Shawn Camp have been writing for nearly a decade.
Not that he would admit any intentional coherence. "I don't do theme records," says Clark with a dry chuckle. "It's just the best ten songs I've got, that's the way I record."
No matter his long tenure at the edge of Music Row, Guy Clark is inescapably from Texas. A resolute, elegant man, regardless the simplicity of his clothes, nor the wear of his 71 years. The elder statesman of a clutch of gritty, gutty songwriters which includes the late Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith. And, of course, the late Susanna Clark, who died June 27, 2012. It is her picture which adorns her husband's new record, the lasting image of his creative partner who so long ago insisted he quit his day job, go ahead and write songs. And then did the same.
"That was always my favorite picture of Susanna, probably 30 years old," he says, with dignity and time buffing the hurt from his voice, only tenderness left behind. "Me and Townes are in that house, just drunk on our asses, jerks. And she'd had enough, she walked out that front door. I think it was John Lomax who snapped that picture. I had it pinned on my wall, and Gordon [Sampson] came over. We were writing and he had a list of lines and titles and all that shit that most people carry around. I was going through it and I hit on this line that said, 'My favorite picture of you.' I turned in my chair and it was right there in front of me. The lyrics just poured out because all it boiled down to was describing the picture. We might have written it in one day."
One day, not twenty minutes.

This is not work that he has to do, not at an age when most men are safely retired, except that he does. He's written enough songs — "Desperados Waiting for a Train," "L.A. Freeway," "The Randall Knife" — to leave a legacy and pay the bills, if that's what mattered.
"It's what I enjoy," he says. "It gets harder, all the time. It doesn't fall out of the sky, you know. But I have joy doing the work, I enjoy the creative process. I write and build guitars in the same space, and I find that one is right brain and one is left brain, and they kind of feed off of one another. But, I don't know. It's just a way to while away the time until you die."
An artist, not an auteur. In some circles Nashville's penchant for co-writing has a bad name. For Clark it is an essential tool. "I just write 'em one song at a time," he says. "Whoever comes through the door with a better idea than I've got."
Formidable talents come through Guy Clark's door these days, and have for years. Shawn Camp, of course, and his long-time guitarist Verlon Thompson. Chris Stapleton, The SteelDrivers' original songwriter and vocalist, whose wife, Morgane sings much of the harmony on this record. Gordy Sampson, from Halifax. Noel McKay from Bandera, Texas. Ray Stephenson, Jedd Hughes, Rodney Crowell.
"Oh, I don't consider it mentoring," Clark says. "If they're good enough to sit in a room with me and write…they don't need mentoring, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not trying to mentor anyone. I just enjoy the process of co-writing simply because of the give and take, especially with bright people who are good at what they do."
Clark does not write angry. He writes carefully, shaving off the unnecessary bits until the story's told. And yet, at the center of My Favorite Picture of You are two striking topical songs. Angry songs. "Well…I think about that stuff," is all he offers.
"Heroes" was suggested by press coverage of the suicide epidemic afflicting soldiers returning from the Middle East. "They can't live with what they did and what they saw," Clark says, an edge to his voice for the first time. "Where's Woody Guthrie?"
Guthrie comes to the foreground of "El Coyote," a song about a crooked smuggler of people over the Mexican border. "'El Coyote' was about a situation that really happened," says Clark. "Something spooked the driver, and he just pulled over to the side of the road, left 18 workers in the Texas sun, and walked off. Locked them in, and they all died. I just thought it was something that needed to be addressed. And Noel speaks really good Spanish, been around that all his life, too. So I presented him the idea of writing that song, and he was very helpful."
Add into the mix a cover of Lyle Lovett's "The Waltzing Fool," the song Clark made Tony Brown listen to back when, and the result is a formidable collection of songs.
A testament to the poetry of carefully wrought songs, and a powerful pleasure.

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