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Archive for the ‘Arranger’ Category

RIP, Buddy Greco (January 10, 2017) American Jazz Singer & Pianist

Posted by themusicsover on January 10, 2017

Armando “Buddy” Greco
August 14, 1926 – January 10, 2017

Buddy Greco was a popular jazz and traditional pop singer and pianist who first found fame during the 1960s.  Born in Philadelphia, Greco began learning to play the piano at the age of four.  Within just a few years, he was singing on local radio, and began performing on stage during his teen years. At just 16, Greco was hired by Benny Goodman who took him on the road.  He spent the next four years singing, playing the piano, and arranging music in Goodman’s Orchestra.  Greco signed to Columbia Records during the early ‘6os and went on to release numerous hit singles including “The Lady Is A Tramp,” which alone, sold over 1 million copies.  Throughout his career – which spanned more than 80 years, and up until his death – he recorded over 60 albums, appeared on television countless times, and toured the world over.  Closer to home, Greco was one of Las Vegas’ most popular draws for many years and eventually opened his own club in Palm Springs where you could likely see a celebrity or two before he closed it in 2009 to move to England.  Buddy Greco was 90 years old when he passed away on January 10, 2017.

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Died On This Date (February 22, 2012) Billy Strange / Legendary Session Guitarist & Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on February 22, 2012

Billy Strange
September 29, 1930 – February 22, 2012

Billy Strange was a much-respected guitarist, songwriter, and arranger who made an indelible mark on pop music as one of the top session players in Los Angeles during the 1960s.  And as a songwriter, he was no slouch either.  Born in Long Beach, California, Strange was just 5 years old when he performed on a local radio station – reportedly winning a yodel contest.  Roughly ten years later, he was given his first guitar, and within two years, he was on the road.  During the mid ’60s, Strange found himself as part of a collective of L.A. studio musicians known  as the Wrecking Crew, who would go down in history as the players on some of the most important pop, rock, and country records of the era.  Most famously, Strange played on landmark recordings by the Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), Nat King Cole, Nancy Sinatra, Willie Nelson, and Elvis Presley (whose “A Little Less Conversation” was co-written by Strange.  Others who recorded Strange-penned songs include Chubby Checker, the Champs, Hank Snow, and Glen Campbell.  In the early ’70s, Strange moved to Nashville where he co-owned and ran the Sinatra’s publishing company.   Billy Strange was 81 when he passed away on February 22, 2012.

Thanks to Brett Ortone for the assist.



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Died On This Date (January 26, 2012) Clare Fischer / Legendary Arranger, Composer & Jazz Musician

Posted by themusicsover on January 26, 2012

Clare Fischer
October 22, 1928 – January 26, 2012

Clare Fischer was a pianist, composer and arranger who, besides having his own respectable career as a musician, arranged music for some of pop music’s biggest stars.  Fischer was still a child when he first started making music, and after graduating from college and serving in the Army, he pursued a career in music.  During the late ’50s, he took on his first gig of note as the pianist and arranger for popular vocal quartet, the Hi-Los.  It was his work with the group that helped establish them as a major influence on the likes of the Manhattan Transfer, Brian Wilson, and Quincy Jones.  It was around that time that he also arranged music for jazz greats Cal Tjader, Donald Byrd, and George Shearing among others.  Fischer began recording his own albums in 1962.  His output includes First Time Out, Surging Ahead, and Clare Fischer & Salsa Picante Present 2+2 , for which he won a Grammy.  Throughout his career, he was recognized with 11 Grammy nominations and two wins.   In 1985, Fischer began writing arrangements for Prince.  Albums on which they collaborated include Under A Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge.  Other artists he arranged for include Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Robert Palmer.  On January 26, 2012, Clare Fischer died as a result of a heart attack he suffered some three weeks prior.  He was 83.

Thanks to Ken McCullagh for the assist.

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Clare Fischer

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Died On This Date (January 17, 2012) Johnny Otis / R&B Great; Had Hit With “Willie and the Hand Jive”

Posted by themusicsover on January 17, 2012

Johnny Otis (Born Ioannis Veliotis)
December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012

Referred to as the “Godfather Of Rhythm and Blues,” Johnny Otis was a man of many aspirations and musical talents.  Born and raised in the San Francisco area, Otis went on to become a successful bandleader, producer, songwriter, journalist, talent scout, arranger, disc jockey, vibraphonist, drummer, club owner, merchant, and even politician.  His most popular contribution to popular music came by way of “Willie and the Hand Jive,” which sold over 1.5 million copies, rose to #9 on the pop charts, and has since been recorded by the likes of George Thorogood, Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard, and New Riders of the Purple Sage, to name just a few.  A child of Greek immigrants, Otis actually lived and worked as part of the African-American community while employing mostly black musicians for his bands.  He began making an impact on music during the late ’40s when he opened a nightclub in the Watts section of Los Angeles.  It was there that he made his first discovery, Little Esther Phillips, who went on to have several pop and R&B hits of her own. Other future greats he is credited for discovering and working with during their early years include Big Jay McNeely, Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard, Etta James and  Big Mama Thornton, whose signature song, “Hound Dog,” was produced by Otis.  In 1958,  Otis recorded the self-penned “Willie and the Hand Jive” which quickly became a smash with both black and white audiences and went on to become one of the most iconic songs of the era.  A tireless performer, Otis and his band toured the world well into the 2000s.  During the ’60s, he made an unsuccessful run for the California State Assembly.  Many blamed the loss on the fact that he ran under his virtually unknown birth name.  In 1994, Otis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in later years, he hosted “The Johnny Otis Show” on San Francisco radio station, KPFA.  Due to declining health, he did his last show in August of 2006.   His son, Shuggie Otis, had hits of his own during the ’70s. Johnny Otis was 90 when he passed away in his home on January 17, 2012

Thanks to Paul Bearer for the assist.

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Johnny Otis

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Died On This Date (January 11, 2012) David Whitaker / English Composer & Arranger

Posted by themusicsover on January 11, 2012

David Whitaker
1931 – January 11, 2012

David Whitaker was an English orchestral arranger and composer whose impact left on pop music as well. Over the course of his lengthy career, he worked with the likes of Lee Hazlewood, Simply Red, the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, and Serge Gainsbourg.  David Whitaker passed away on January 11, 2012.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus for the assist.

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