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In Memoriam – January 2019

February 7th, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

The year has started with carnage. Interestingly, in several cases, the paths of the Reaper’s victims in January (and previous months) had crossed in the past, in quite strange ways. The Rolling Stones, J.J. Cale, Bob Dylan, Elvis and others come up repeatedly.

The Voice

A singer with a gorgeous voice, great range and immaculate phrasing, James Ingram was among the best of his craft. Alas, some of his material — and some of the songs that made him known — led many to underrate him as a soul great. But listen to his duet performance on really soft songs like Somewhere Out There, the theme of the animated film An American Tail: it’s perfectly judged, with Ingram and Linda Ronstadt generously giving each other space. He did likewise on his other duets, notably the hit with Patti Austin, Baby Come To Me. Ingram’s range is best on display in the lovely One Hundred Ways, one of the two tracks he sung on Quincy Jones’ superb The Dude album in 1980 (the other was the fantastic Just Once). Ingram won a vocal performance Grammy for One Hundred Ways, the first to receive the award without having released an album. He won another Grammy for his duet with Michael McDonald, Yah MO Be There, and was nominated for 12 other performances. Aside from being a gifted singer, Ingram also was a songwriter (among his credits is Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), co-written with Quincy Jones) and, earlier in his career, keyboardist for Ray Charles and, later, on other records, including Shalamar’s A Night To Remember.

The Dragon & Tenille

If your name is Daryl Dragon, why on earth would you change that name to “Captain”? Blame the widely unloved Beach Boy Mike Love for it: when Dragon played keyboards on tour with the band in the early 1970s, Love dubbed him Captain Keyboard. The name stuck, and Dragon took to wearing a captain’s hat. With that image transformation he formed the duo Captain & Tenille with his wife Toni Tenille (they divorced in 2014) which became hugely popular in the 1970s, even playing in the White House for US President Gerald Ford and Queen Elizabeth II — Toni Tenille later remembered that the queen nodded off during their performance. But surely Captain Dragon & Tenille would have been an even better name for the duo.

The Session Giant

Outside the LA-based Wrecking Crew, few session players could boast of a resumé as packed with classic hits as Memphis guitarist Reggie Young. He cut his young teeth touring with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison in the 1950s, and with the Bill Black Combo in the 1960s, having the honour of getting booed every night for being The Beatles’ support act on their US tour. After a brief stint as a session man at Hi Records (for whom he had recorded earlier with the Bill Black Combo) in 1967, he moved over to Chips Moman’s American Studios, where he was part of the session collective known as The Memphis Boys.

Over the years, Young played the guitar on hits such as Elvis’ Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto (and many others), Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and Holy Holly, The Box Tops’ Cry Like A Baby, Dobie Gray’s Drift Away, Billy Joe Royal’s Down In The Boondocks, John Prine’s Angel From Montgomery, B.J. Thomas’ Hooked On A Feeling (creating the unusual sitar sound) and Hey, Won’t You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, Jessi Colter’s I’m Not Lisa, Billy Swan’s I Can Help, Danny O’Keefe’s Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues, King Curtis’ Memphis Soul Stew, Willie Nelson’s Always On My Mind; J.J. Cale’s Cocaine, and the whole Dusty In Memphis album, including Son Of A Preacher Man. He went on to play with a long list of other artists, especially a Who’s Who in country music.

The Innovator

The paths of Reggie Young and influential session guitarist Harold Bradley, who has died at 93, often crossed. Bradley had been a member of the country session players’ collective known as The Nashville A-Team, and as such he backed virtually every big name in country, from Hank Williams and the Carter Family to Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson. Plus Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly et al. Credit-keeping was a bit vague in the day, but it is said that Bradley played on classics such as Patsy Cline’s Crazy, Lefty Frizzell’s Long Black Veil and Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man. He also played for acts like The Monkees, J.J. Cale and Leon Russell. Several times, his paths crossed with the above-mentioned Reggie Young. The brother of the equally legendary Owen Bradley, Harold was also a fierce activist for musicians’ rights.

The Great Backing Singer

Even if you’ve never heard of Clydie King, you’ll have heard her voice on an impressive list of rock classics. King put out a string of records from late 1950s to the early 1970s, but the world of soul needed her powerful voice less than white rock bands did. Famously, she and fellow backing singing legend Merry Clayton — with whom she was in Ray Charles’ backing group The Raelettes in the 1960s — sang, with some disgust, on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s southern rock anthem Sweet Home Alabama, Clayton, who hated the idea of singing anything about Alabama, later recalled: “If you listen to it, we’re all singing through our teeth, like we’re really angry. That’s how we got through the recording.” After the session, King told Clayton: “We did our part and this song will live in infamy, Merry. And we’ll continually get paid.”

There’d be merit in putting together a mix of tracks Clydie King sang on. It could include any number of Steely Dan songs (such as Kid Charlemagne, Brooklyn, The Fez, The Royal Scam, the whole Aja album), the Rolling Stones’ Tumbling Dice and Shine A Light, Linda Ronstadt’s You’re No Good and Desperado, Neil Diamond’s Cracklin’ Rosie and Beautiful Noise; Elton John’s The Bitch Is Back, Judee Sill’s Jesus Was A Cross Maker, B.W. Stevenson’s My Maria (which featured the recently late Joe Osborn on bass), Chi Coltrane’s Hallelujah, Arlo Guthrie’s City of New Orleans, America’s Woman Tonight, Leo Sayer’s You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Bob Seger’s Still The Same and We Got Tonite, Joe Cocker’s I Can Stand A Little Rain, and Commander Cody’s Cry Baby Cry (which featured on the White Album Recovered mix). And there might even be a first volume of all the famous Phil Spector productions on which King sang backing vocals, for the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, Ben. E. King, The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, Gene Pitney, Righteous Brothers etc. And then there was her work with Bob Dylan, particularly during his Christian period. Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone magazine: “She was my ultimate singing partner. No one ever came close. We were two soulmates.”

The Dylan Favourite

Bob Dylan didn’t just lose his favourite backing singer in January but also one of his favourite guitarists, Steve Ripley, who played with him during the Shot Of Love era — during which Clydie King was a backing vocalists. He also played with others, but more importantly he created guitars for other guitarists, including Steve Lukather, J.J. Cale, John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Jimmy Buffett and Eddie Van Halen. He then moved to Tulsa to take over Leon Russell’s recording studio. In the 1990s he formed the country-rock band The Tractors.

The Great Trumpeter

It really was a bad month for great session musicians. Another victim of the Reaper was trumpeter Steve Madaio, whose credits include Stevie Wonder hits such as Superstition and the Songs In The Key Of Life album, including I Wish and Sir Duke, with its glorious trumpet intro. It was while he was backing Wonder on the singer’s tour supporting the Rolling Stones in 1972 that the Stones poached him for their backing band. Previously Madaio had been a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, with whom he played at Woodstock and (probably) Monterey.

As a session man he trumpeted on records by the likes of John Lennon, Elton John (on his duet with Lennon, Whatever Gets You Thru The Night), Ringo Starr (on Snokeroo, on which Clydie King sang backing vocals, and Goodnight Vienna), Etta James, Syreeta, Carly Simon, Martha Reeves, Melissa Manchester, Anne Murray,  Joe Cocker, Jimmy Cliff, Deniece Williams (including on Free), James Taylor, Earth, Wind & Fire (including on Fantasy and September), Maria Muldaur, Harry Nilsson, Cher, Neil Diamond (on the Beautiful Noise album which also included Clydie King), John Mayall, The Emotions, Boz Scaggs, The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, Bob Dylan (on Street Legal), Cheryl Lynn (on Got To Be Real), Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, BB King, Donna Summer (including Hot Stuff and Bad Girls), Janis Ian (on Fly Too High), Lowell George, Bonnie Raitt, Glen Campbell, Brenda Russell, Rita Coolidge, Pointer Sisters, Randy Newman, Joe Sample, Dennis Edwards, The Allman Brothers Band, J.J. Cale, Madonna (on the Like A Prayer album) and many more. He also played, alongside the recently late Joe Osborn, on the original stage soundtrack of the Rocky Horror Show.

The African Icon

With the death of guitarist and singer-songwriter Oliver Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe has not only lost one of its two most iconic musician, but also a social and cultural icon and activist. He was to Zimbabwe what Hugh Masekela was to South Africa (and in 2016 they collaborated on a track). Mtukudzi was in the forefront of defying cultural apartheid in Rhodesia, and after liberation was an activist for human rights and justice, lately serving as the UNICEF goodwill ambassador for Southern Africa — even as he stood above party politics. His popularity extended beyond Zimbabwe. Mtukudzi was so popular in South Africa that a memorial concert was held in his honour in Johannesburg.

The Movie Composer

One of the great movie score composers has departed with the death of Michel Legrand. Even though he worked mostly in French film, he received several Oscar nominations, taking away the Academy Award for Best Original Song with The Windmills Of Your Mind from The Thomas Crown Affair, and Best Score for Summer of ‘42 (1971) and Yentl (1983). He was nominated for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1965), which produced the also nominated standard I Will Wait For You, whose English lyrics were written by Norman Gimbel, who died in December.

The Rumour That He Died

Two divorces inspired Sanger ‘Whitey’ Shafer to co-write two country chart-toppers in versions by George Strait, Does Forth Worth Ever Cross Your Mind and the superb All My Ex’s Live In Texas. Alas, it no longer is a rumour that Whitey died… Shafer also wrote hits such as Keith Whitley’s posthumously charting I Wonder Do You Think Of Me, as well as That’s the Way Love Goes, which was a hit for Johnny Rodriguez and Merle Haggard. His songs were recorded by other country luminaries, including George Jones, Lefty Frizzell and Moe Bandy.

The Murder Victim

Puerto Rican rapper Kevin Fret had just had his breakthrough hit, Soy Asi, in 2018. As the title of his hit suggests, Fret was different: in a homophobic society, he was openly gay and broke gender conventions. But he was controversial also within the LGBQTI community for claiming that his homosexuality was a “choice”.  He died after being shot eight times while riding his motorcycle in the early morning hours of January 10. By the time of posting, no arrests had been made, nor a motive established.

 

Christine McGuire, member of vocal group McGuire Sisters, on Dec. 28
The McGuire Sisters – Sincerely (1954)

Dean Ford, 72, songwriter and singer of Scottish pop band Marmalade, on Dec. 31
Dean Ford & The Gaylords – That Lonely Feeling (1965)
Marmalade – Reflections Of My Life (1969, on lead vocals and as co-writer)

Shane Bisnett, 31, bassist of metalcore band Ice Nine Kills, on Jan. 1

Pegi Young, 66, singer-songwriter, ex-wife of Neil Young, on Jan. 1
Pegi Young & The Survivors – Feel Just Like a Memory (2014)

Kris Kelmi, 63, Russian rock singer-songwriter, on Jan. 1

Feis Ecktuh, 32, Dutch rapper, shot dead on Jan. 1

‘Captain’ Daryl Dragon, 76, musician, songwriter, half of Captain & Tennille, on Jan. 2
The Dragons – Troll (1964, also as writer)
The Beach Boys – Everyone’s in Love With You (1972, as co-writer and arranger)
Captain & Tenille – Love Will Keep Us Together (1974)

Steve Ripley, 69, musician, producer, guitar inventor, on Jan. 3
Bob Dylan – Shot Of Love (1981, on guitar, also featuring Clydie King)
The Tractors – Baby Likes To Rock It (1994)

Eric Haydock, 75, bassist of The Hollies, on Jan. 5
The Hollies – I’m Alive (1965)

Alvin Fielder, 83, jazz drummer and educator, on Jan. 5

Dan Tshanda, 54, singer and bassist of South African band Splash, on Jan. 5
Splash – Troubled Man (1991)

Clydie King, 75, soul and backing singer, on Jan. 7
Clydie King and The Sweet Things – Only The Guilty Cry (1963)
Clydie King – I Can’t Go On Without Love (1971)
Rolling Stones – Tumbling Dice (1972)
Chi Coltrane – Hallelujah (1973)

Jimmy Hannan, 84, Australian singer and game show host, on Jan. 7

Houari Manar, 38, Algerian raï singer, on Jan. 7

Georges Dimou, 87, Greek Austria-based Schlager singer, on Jan. 8

Joseph Jarman, 81, jazz musician and Buddhist priest, on Jan. 9
Art Ensemble Of Chicago – Peter And Judith (1982)

Kevin Fret, 24, Puerto Rican trap rapper, shot dead on Jan. 10

Larry Cunningham, 67, singer with soul group The Floaters, on Jan. 10
The Floaters – Float On (Long Version) (1977)

Sanger ‘Whitey’ Shafer, 84, country songwriter, on Jan. 12
George Strait – Does Forth Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984, as co-writer)
Whitey Shafer – All My Ex’s Live In Texas (1987, also as co-writer)
Keith Whitley – I Wonder Do You Think Of Me (1989, as writer)

Bonnie Guitar, 95, country singer, musician and producer, on Jan. 13
Bonnie Guitar – Dark Moon (1957)

Willie Murphy, 75, blues musician and producer, on Jan. 13
‘Spider’ John Koerner & Willie Murphy – Magazine Lady (1969)
Bonnie Raitt – Mighty Tight Woman (1971, as producer)

Steve Madaio, 70, session trumpeter, on Jan. 15
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – Walkin’ By Myself (1969)
Stevie Wonder – Superstition (1972)
Ringo Starr – Snookeroo (1974, on trumpet)
Deniece Williams – Free (1977, on trumpet)

Carol Channing, 97, actress and singer, on Jan. 15
Carol Channing – Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend (1949)
Carol Channing – Put On Your Sunday Clothes (1964)

Rita Vidaurri, 94, American singer, on Jan. 16

Chris Wilson, 62, Australian blues musician, on Jan. 16

Lorna Doom, bassist of US punk band Germs, on Jan. 16
Germs – Forming (1977)

Brian Velasco, 41, drummer of Filipino rock band Razorback, suicide on Jan. 16

Reggie Young, 82, legendary session guitarist, on Jan. 17
Bill Black Combo – Smokie-Part 2 (1959, as member)
Herbie Mann – Memphis Underground (1969, on guitar)
John Prine – Sweet Revenge (1973, on guitar)
Elvis Presley – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1974, on guitar)
Merle Haggard – I’ve Seen It Go Away (2010, on guitar)

Tara Simmons, 34, Australian singer-songwriter and musician, on Jan. 17
Tara Simmons – Everybody Loves You (2007)

Debi Martini, bassist of ‘90s punk band Red Aunts, on Jan. 17

Ron Watson, 62, guitarist of Canadian  rock band Helix, on Jan. 17
Helix – Rock You (1984)

Marcelo Yuka, 53, drummer of Brazilian reggae band O Rappa, on Jan. 18

Ted McKenna, 68, drummer of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, on Jan. 18
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Hammer Song (1973)

Edwin Birdsong, 77, funk keyboardist, on Jan. 21
Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Running Away (1977, as co-writer and co-producer)
Edwin Birdsong – Cola Bottle Baby (1979)

Marcel Azzola, 91, French accordionist, on Jan. 21
Jacques Brel – Vesoul (1969)

Mike Ledbetter, 33, blues musician, on Jan. 21

Kaye Ballard, 93, actress and singer, on Jan. 21
Kaye Ballard – In Other Words (1954; original version of Fly Me To The Moon)

Maxine Brown, 87, singer of country group The Browns, on Jan. 21
The Browns – The Three Bells (1959)

Oliver Mtukudzi, 66, Zimbabwean jazz guitarist, singer and activist, on Jan. 23
Oliver Mtukudzi – Wake Up (1999)
Oliver Mtukudzi – Neria (2001)
Hugh Masekela feat. Oliver Mtukudzi – Tapera (2016)

Bruce Corbitt, 56, heavy metal singer with Rigor Mortis, Warbeast, on Jan. 25

Jacqueline Steiner, 94, folk singer-songwriter and activist, on Jan. 25
The Kingston Trio – M.T.A. (1959, as lyricist)

Terry Jennings, 62, country musician and author (son of Waylon), on Jan. 25

Michel Legrand, 86, French film composer, conductor and jazz pianist, on Jan. 26
Noel Harrison -The Windmills Of Your Mind (1968, as composer)
Matt Monro – I Will Wait For You (1969, as composer)

Ingo Bischof, 68, keyboardist of German Krautrock band Kraan, on Jan. 26
Kraan – Wintruper Echo (1982)

Pepe Smith, 71, Filipino rock musician, on Jan. 28

Paul Whaley, 72, drummer of rock bands Oxford Circle, Blue Cheer, on Jan. 28
The Oxford Circle – Troubles (live, 1967)
Blue Cheer – West Coast Child Of Sunshine (1969)

James Ingram, 66, American R&B singer-songwriter, on Jan. 29
James Ingram – One Hundred Ways (1980)
Shalamar – A Night To Remember (1982, on keyboards)
Patti Austin & James Ingram – How Do You Keep The Music Playing (1982)
James Ingram – I Don’t Have The Heart (1989)

Johnny Lion, 77, Dutch singer and actor, on Jan. 31

Harold Bradley, 93, country session guitarist and bassist, on Jan. 31
Hank Williams – Ramblin’ Man (1951, on rhythm, guitar)
Patsy Cline – I Fall To Pieces (1961, on bass)
Elvis Presley – (You’re The) Devil In Disguise (1963, on rhythm guitar)
J.J. Cale – Travelin’ Light (1976, on rhythm guitar)

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  1. Halfwit
    February 8th, 2019 at 20:56 | #1

    +1 for that Clydie King compilation please?! Thanks for another impressive In Memoriam write-up; it’s mind-boggling the effort & dedication you put into this series.

  2. halfhearteddude
    February 8th, 2019 at 22:00 | #2

    The Clydie ship has sailed, I fear. But this Halfhearted dude thanks the Halfwit for his kind words.

  3. Rhodb
    February 9th, 2019 at 22:29 | #3

    Thanks once again for the wonderful In Memoriam series

    Regards

  4. Rhodb
    February 9th, 2019 at 22:48 | #4

    Hi again

    The passing of Chris Wilson will leave a massive hole in Australian music. He was such a great harp player and was always accessible to any one. He had a wonderful feeling for the blues

    Regard

    Rhodb

  5. dogbreath
    February 13th, 2019 at 01:51 | #5

    RIP Dean Ford and Ted McKenna from two great bands I had the pleasure to see back in their 70s heyday. Thanks for putting it all together for us. Cheers!

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