Home > In Memoriam > In Memoriam – June 2016

In Memoriam – June 2016

IM1606_1The year 2016 continued to be a bastard in June. But instead of killing off superstars, June took from us some important names.

Imagine what it was like for audiences in mid-1956 to be confronted with the explosion of loud energy that was Elvis’ Hound Dog. Louder and more aggressive than most Rock & Roll hits that came before, to ears used to Perry Como and Bing Crosby it must have sounded positively dystopian. Playing the guitar on Hound Dog, and all those 1950s Elvis hits, was Scotty Moore, who has died at 84. In fact, Elvis’ early Sun records were credited to “Elvis Presley, Scotty & Bill” (Bill being bassist Bill Black, who died in 1965). As such, Moore was instrumental, as it were, in introducing power chords and guitar solos to this new musical form. Rock & Roll Elvis left the building when he went to the army, but Moore continued to play on some Elvis records in the 1960s — including Good Luck Charm, Devil In Disguise, Surrender and Bossa Nova Baby — and appeared on the 1968 Comeback Special.

Moore was not the only artist with an Elvis connection to die in June. Only time prevented me from putting together a special collection of songs written or produced by the great Chips Moman, who has died at 79. His crowning moment might have been the resurrection of Elvis as a serious singer, having produced the sessions that yielded the glorious Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto at Memphis’ American Sound Studio, which Moman founded with Don Crews. The studio produced many classics produced by Moman, including Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, BJ Thomas’ Hooked On A Feeling, Merilee Rush’s Angel Of The Morning, and Dusty Springfield’s Dusty In Memphis album. Before he started the studio, Moman worked at Stax, producing hits such as Carla Thomas’ Gee Whiz. Moman was a fine songwriter, too, co-writing hits such as Aretha Franklin’s Do Right Woman Do Right Man, James Carr’s The Dark End Of The Street, BJ Thomas’ (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, and Waylon Jennings’ Luckenbach, Texas (which featured on Any American Road Trip 2). On top of all that, Moman was also a session guitarist, playing with acts such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Johnny Cash and Guy Clark (who died last month).

Just over a week after Moman passed, Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns died. The Memphis Horns were led by Jackson on trumpet and Andrew Love (who died in 2012) on tenor sax. They produced some signature sounds in music, perhaps most famously the intro to Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness. Where there is brass on Stax records, you’d hear The Memphis Horns. Later Jackson and Love decamped to Stax-alumnus Chips Moman’s  American Sound Studio where they played on those career-reviving Elvis records. Later they played at Hi Records, giving Al Green some horn (oh, behave!), including on Let’s Stay Together. They played with King Curtis on his fantastic Live At The Filmore album. They also backed non-soul acts like James Taylor, Tony Joe White, Doobie Brothers, José Feliciano, Jerry Reed, BB King, John Prine, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Billy Joel, Robert Cray Band, Peter Gabriel and many others. Jackson is getting a bunch of tribute tracks here, but you can also hear him on Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved A Man and Elvis’ Kentucky Rain, both of which listed in tribute to Moman.

At the next karaoke when somebody does an impression of The Commitments’ version of Mustang Sally, spare a thought for Sir Mack Rice, who wrote and first recorded the song, later a hit for Wilson Picket. Rice had another minor hit with Coal Man, but his success resided in writing for others, especially on the Stax label. The biggest hit of these was Respect Yourself for the Staple Singers.IM1606_2There are few artists left who made their mark in the 1940s and have continued to perform into this decade. With the death at 89 of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, we have lost one of those. The importance of Ralph Stanley in bluegrass cannot be overstated. Over seven decades in music, Stanley was known to be a fine man and a willing mentor to many who would become stars in bluegrass and country music. With his brother Carter, the banjo virtuoso was half of the Stanley Brothers and co-leader of The Clinch Mountain Boys. Starting in 1946 they were among the very first acts to play the bluegrass music of the genre’s pioneer, Bill Monroe (who initially resented the Stanleys and his erstwhile collaborators Flatt & Scruggs for “stealing” his music). Carter died in 1966, but Ralph continued on his own, releasing records — many of them gospel — right up to the last one in 2015. In 2002 Stanley won a Grammy for his vocal performance on the old Appalachian song O Death, which featured on the acclaimed O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack.

The legendary Bernie Worrell of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective changed funk with his keyboard grooves, especially once he became only the second person in the world to be given a Moog synthesizer by its inventor, Bob Moog. Armed with his Moog, Worrell had a lasting influenced on dance music, hip hop and new wave through songs like1977’s Flash Light. Worrell also arranged the horn sections for Parliament-Funkadelic. He appeared on the albums released by the outgrowths from the collective, such as Bootsy Collins, and played with Talking Heads during their Stop Making Sense period, as well as with acts like Lou Rawls, The Spinners, Stephanie Mills and Gil Scott-Heron.

Ask anybody who has worked with him, and they’ll tell you that ex-Wings and Spooky Tooth guitarist Henry McCullough was the loveliest of men. He backed Joe Cocker at Woodstock as a member of The Grease Band and played on Spooky Tooth’s 1970 The Last Puff album before joining Paul McCartney’s Wings in 1971, playing on hits such as My Love (that guitar solo is his), Hi Hi Hi, and Live and Let Die. In between he dabbled with Pink Floyd: at the end of Money on The Dark Side Of The Moon, you can hear him speak the words, “I don’t know; I was really drunk at the time”, a reference to a confrontation he had had the night before with his wife. In 2012 McCullough suffered a severe heart attack, leading Ireland’s RTE broadcaster and the BBC to announce his death. The rumours of his demise were greatly exaggerated, but death caught up with the guitarist on June 14.

The Fairport Convention defined British folk, and the group’s guiding member Dave Swarbrick defined fiddle-playing in British folk. Swarbrick introduced the electronic fiddle to the isles’ folk scene, and was much sought-after as a session musician by rock acts. Swarbrick was declared dead (yes, another case of that) by the Daily Telegraph in 1999 — a time before Twitter false alarms and hoaxes — when he was hospitalised with a serious chest infection. Swarbrick’s response: “It’s not the first time I’ve died in Coventry.” The false alarm prompted a fundraising effort which culminated in the musician receiving a double lung transplant in 2004. Which leads me to ask you: have you registered as an organ donor? And if you haven’t, why not?IM1606_3In the same month that Swarbrick left, another important figure in the British folk scene died. Karl Dallas was a Christian socialist (he was named after Marx and, by way of middle name, Engels) and peace campaigner. In the run-up to the illicit invasion of Iraq, Dallas got the better of the lying wear-monger Tony Blair in a televised debate. He was also a journalist who passionately advocated for folk acts such as the Fairground Convention and Steeleye Span, especially during his long association with the Melody Maker.  As a songwriter himself, he had much empathy with those whose music he was writing about. Initially he gave Bob Dylan a very bad review but later became a fan. Arlo Guthrie reportedly wrote parts of Alice’s Restaurant as a guest of Dallas’ in London. Dallas’ best-known songs are The Family Of Man, written in 1955, and Derek Bentley, about a teenager executed for killing a policeman.

Manchester lost a local music legend in promoter Alan Wise who was instrumental in the launch of the Factory club which became the record label of that name, home to Joy Division and New Order, among other acts. He was also a key figure in the city’s Hacienda club, which was famous in the 1980s well beyond Manchester. Three months ago Wise’s 22-year-old daughter died of suicide after health authorities failed to provide the counselling for 18 months. Wise was loudly outspoken about this failure at the time; his criticism found an echo in his obituaries.

Few singers’ career path takes them from the stage to the benches of the judiciary and back, but so it was with Dutch songstress Corry Brokken, one of the Netherlands’ biggest stars in the 1950s and’60s. Brokken won the second-ever Eurovision Song Contest in 1957 with Net Als Toen (Just as it once was). She had unsuccessfully represented the Netherlands the year before, and tried to defend her title the year after her win. She came last, thus holding the distinction of being the only Eurovision contestant to finish top and bottom. She presented the Eurovision in 1976, the year England’s Brotherhood of Men won. Just after that she retired from the music industry and, at the age of 44, began studying law. In the 1980s she became an attorney and then a judge. She made a music comeback in the 1990s.

The Memphis Horns have fallen silent. After the death of Andrew Love (left), Wayne Jackson left us this month to join the great horn section in the sky.

The Memphis Horns have fallen silent. After the death of Andrew Love (left), Wayne Jackson left us this month to join the great horn section in the sky.

Corry Brokken, 83, Dutch singer, Eurovision Song Contest 1957 winner, on May 30
Corry Brokken – Net Als Toen (1957)

Alan Wise, 63, British music promoter and manager on June 1

Häns’che Weiss, 65, German jazz guitarist and composer, on June 2

Dave Swarbrick, 75, fiddler with British folk band Fairport Convention, on June 3
Fairport Convention – Walk Awhile (1970, also as co-writer)
Dave Swarbrick – Queen’s Jig/Dick’s Maggot (1978)

Muhammad Ali, 74, American boxer and occasional singer, on June 3
Cassius Clay – Stand By Me (1964)
(More Ali-related music)

Bobby Curtola, 73, Canadian pop singer, on June 4
Bobby Curtola – Fortune Teller (1962)

Brian Rading, 69, bassist of Canadian rock group Five Man Electrical Band, on June 8
Five Man Electrical Band – Half Past Midnight (1966)

Habib, 63, Iranian singer-songwriter, on June 10

Christina Grimmie, 22, singer-songwriter, contestant on the The Voice (US), murdered on June 11

Kim Venable, 72, drummer of pop band The Classics IV, on June 12
The Classics IV – Where Did All The Good Times Go (1970)

Chips Moman, 79, songwriter, producer, engineer, guitarist, on June 13
Carla Thomas – Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes) (1960, as producer)
James Carr – Dark End Of The Street (1967, as co-writer)
Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) (1967, on guitar)
Elvis Presley – Kentucky Rain (1970, as producer)
Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (1982, as producer & engineer & on guitar)

Randy Jones, 72, jazz drummer, on June 23

Henry McCullough, 72, Northern Irish guitarist with Spooky Tooth, Wings, on June 14
Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends (Live at Woodstock) (1969, on guitar)
Wings – My Love (1973, on guitar)
Henry McCullough – Lord Knows (1975)

OJB Jezreel, 49, Nigerian singer and producer, on June 14

Jerome Teasley, 67, soul drummer (Motown), on June 16
Jr Walker & The All Stars – What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) (1969, on drums)

‘Sir’ Charles Thompson, 98, jazz pianist, on June 16
Leo Parker’s Quintette – New Look Swing (1948, on piano)

Tenor Fly, British raga singer, rapper and freestyler, on June 17

Attrell Cordes, 46, singer with soul band P.M. Dawn, on June 17
PM Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss (1991)

Alejandro Jano Fuentes, 45, American-Mexican singer, murdered on August 18

Bob Williamson, 67, English musician and comedian, on June 19

Chayito Valdez, 71, Mexican-American folk singer and actress, on June 20

Wayne Jackson, 74, legendary trumpeter (The Memphis Horns), on June 21
Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (1965, on trumpet)
Dusty Springfield – Son Of A Preacher Man (1969, on trumpet)
Al Green – Let’s Stay Together (1972, on trumpet)
Doobie Brothers – Takin’ It To The Streets (1976, on trumpet)
Memphis Horns – Memphis Nights (1977)

Freddy Powers, 84, country singer and songwriter, on June 21
George Jones – I Always Get Lucky With You (1983)
Merle Haggard – The Road To My Heart (2010, as writer)

Karl Dallas, 85, folk songwriter, writer and peace campaigner, on June 21
Colin Wilkie & Shirley Hart – The Family Of Man (1972, as writer)

Steve French, 56, singer with gospel band Kingdom Heirs Quartet, on June 22

Jim Boyd, 60, singer-songwriter, on June 22
Jim Boyd – Father And Farther (1998)

Leo Brennan, 90, Irish musician (father of Enya and Clannad members), on June 22

Ralph Stanley, 89, bluegrass legend, on June 23
Stanley Brothers – Let Me Be Your Friend (1948)
Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys – Memory Of Your Smile (1959)
Ralph Stanley – O Death (2000)
Ralph Stanley – John The Revelator (2011)

Shelley Moore, 84, jazz singer, on June 23
Shelley Moore – The Thrill Is Gone (1962)

Bernie Worrell, 72, keyboard player with Parliament-Funkadelic, on June 24
Parliament – Flashlight (1977)
Bernie Worrell – Woo Together (1978)
Talking Heads – Girlfriend Is Better (1984)

Lor Scoota, 23, rapper, shot dead on June 24

Mike Pedicin, 98, American jazz bandleader, on June 26
Mike Pedicin Quintet – The Large Large House (1956)

Mack Rice, 82, soul songwriter and singer, on June 27
Sir Mack Rice – Mustang Sally (1965)
Staples Singers – Respect Yourself (1972, as co-writer)

Scotty Moore, 84, pioneering Rock & Roll guitarist, on June 28
Elvis Presley – Too Much (1956)
Roy Orbison – Crying (1962, on guitar)
Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Keith Richards & The Band – Deuce & A Quarter (1997)

Rob Wasserman, 64, Upright bass player, on June 29

Don Friedman, 81, jazz pianist, on June 30
Don Friedman Trio – So In Love (1962)

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  1. dogbreath
    July 7th, 2016 at 10:57 | #1

    Not for the first time I take comfort in the knowledge that the talents of those musicians who’ve passed away will live on thanks to blogs like yours, their recordings and our memories of live performances. The loss of Swarbrick, McCullough and the great Scotty Moore have particular resonance for me. Thanks for the fine compilation.

  2. Rhod
    July 8th, 2016 at 22:53 | #2

    Thanks Amd

    Always appreciate the effort in putting this series together

    Regards

    Rhod

  3. Anders Franzén
    July 9th, 2016 at 09:53 | #3

    R.I.P.

  4. Don
    July 9th, 2016 at 23:43 | #4

    Just found your site through a link from another blog…you have some incredible comps here. Thanks so much for the work you put into it all!

  5. halfhearteddude
    July 12th, 2016 at 08:03 | #5

    Thanks. Stick around for more to come.

  6. Petrina Foley
    July 28th, 2016 at 15:53 | #6

    Amazing blog you have here featuring classic talent.
    Thank you!

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