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Archive for the ‘R&B’ Category

RIP, Sharon Jones (November 18, 2016) Soul Great

Posted by themusicsover on November 18, 2016

Sharon Jones
May 4, 1956 – November 18, 2016

Photo by kallerna

Photo by kallerna

Born in North Augusta, South Carolina, but raised in New York City, Sharon Jones was a soul singer whose talent was out-shined only by her performances in front of a crowd.  As a child, Jones often mimicked one of her idols, James Brown, and as an adult, it often appeared she was raising his spirit to join her on stage.  During her early years as a performer, Jones sang in gospel and funk groups and while entering talent contests around New York City.  In 2002, Jones released the inaugural album on the Daptone Records, Dap-Dipping with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, with the label’s house band, the Dap-Kings now in place as her permanent back up. Over the better part the next 14 years, Jones played in front of ecstatic crowds around the world, and released five more albums that many credit as having launched the current soul and funk revival.  In June of 2013, it was announced that she was suffering from bile duct cancer which was later re-diagnosed as stage II pancreatic cancer.  It hardly slowed Jones down however, she released what would become her two final albums, and performed to adoring fans at times, bald from her chemotherapy.  In 2015, the documentary,  Miss Sharon Jones! was released to critical acclaim.  It was at one of the initial screenings, that Jones announced that the cancer had returned.  It ultimately  took her life.  Sharon Jones was 60 when she passed away on November 18, 2016.

 

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RIP, Leon Russell (November 13, 2016) Legendary Musician, Songwriter & Producer

Posted by themusicsover on November 13, 2016

Leon Russell (Born Claude Russell Bridges)
April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016

Photo by Carl Lender

Photo by Carl Lender

Leon Russell was a celebrated musician, singer, songwriter and producer whose early work as a session player alone was enough to rightfully find him a home in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Add to that his credits as a songwriter, and you have one of the most respected artists we have ever known.  Born in Oklahoma, Russell began playing the piano at just four years old.  By high school, he and schoolmate David Gates, of future Bread fame, had a band together. Over the next couple of years Russell needed a fake ID to play the clubs of Tulsa. And then, at just 16 years old, he headed to Los Angeles to take a crack at becoming a session musician. Russell quickly built a solid reputation and became one of the first people called into the studio or on stage to lend his talents.  The list of artists or their producers that mad that call is staggering – it includes the Byrds, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, and the Beach Boys.  And as part of the famed Wrecking Crew of L.A. studio musicians, the list goes on. Russel’s first hit as a songwriter came by way of Joe Cocker‘s 1969 recording of his “Delta Lady.”  As the ’70s dawned, Russell began making his own albums while producing others.  And thanks in part to the success of “Delta Lady,” he became a go-to songwriter for hopeful pop and rock stars.  In 1970, he released his self-titled debut. The album spawned one of his most famous songs, “A Song For You” which has been covered by a diverse list of artists that includes Ray Charles, Zakk Wylde, Andy Williams, Herbie Hancock with Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Willie Nelson, and Amy Winehouse. Russell spent the rest of the ’70s on a seemingly endless recording and touring cycle. He eventually slowed down, but became no less productive and influential.  The next three decades found him working with the likes of New Grass Revival and Bruce Hornsby while releasing several more of his own albums which leaned more bluegrass and country than much of his ’70s output. In 2010, Elton John (who called Russell his biggest influence as a pianist, singer and songwriter) and Bernie Taupin partnered with Russell on The Union, which resulted in a return-to-the-charts for both. The outstanding album, produced by T-Bone Burnett, and credited equally to both John and Taupin, entered the Billboard charts at No. 3, Russell’s highest charting album since 1972 and John’s highest since 1976.  Rolling Stone called it one of the best 30 albums of 2010.  The new-found exposure for Russell found him touring heavily up through the first half of 2016 when a heart attack sidelined him. Not discouraged, plans were being made to hit the road again in 2017.  Unfortunately, while still recovering from the heart attack, Leon Russell died quietly in his sleep on November 14, 2016.  He was 74.

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Died On This Date (April 21, 2016) Prince / Musical Genius

Posted by themusicsover on April 21, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson
June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016

Photo by David Plastik - Click To Order Quality Prints - Discount code: 10OFF

Photo by David Plastik – Click To Order Quality Prints – Discount code: 10OFF

Prince was his given name, and that’s all he needed to become one of the most well-known, influential, innovative and gifted musicians, songwriters, singers, producers, and performers pop music has ever known.  Born and raised in the Minneapolis area, Prince would eventually come to represent what was known as the Minneapolis sound – a marriage of funk, rock, synth pop, new wave, and dance.  He released his first album, For You, in 1978 and what followed was an astonishing run of 39 albums over the course of 35 years.  Some double, and even triple, albums.  But it was 1984’s soundtrack to his film, Purple Rain, that first sent Prince into the stratosphere. It was his first album to top the Billboard album charts and went on to sell a staggering 13 million in the US alone. Purple Rain is often regarded as one of the top five greatest albums ever made – of any genre.  He was far from done though, as he went on to be recognized with 32 Grammy nominations, winning seven throughout his career.  In  all, Prince scored four #1 albums in the US, and an additional 12 landed in the Top 10.  As a performer, there were very few who could match him when it came to captivating his audiences.  That was put on international display when he did the Super Bowl Halftime show in 2007.  As torrential rains hammered the stage like no other time in Super Bowl history, Prince took the storm and made it his stage prop to gloriously add an exclamation point to his final song, “Purple Rain.”  Rumor has it that when the show’s director asked out of concern what they should do to protect him, the band, and the dancers from being electrocuted, Prince replied, “can you make it rain harder?”   Since 2014, Prince released four new albums, and legend has it that he has enough finished material in his vault to keep releases coming for years if not decades to come.  Whether they will ever see the light of day is debatable.  On April 21, 2016, Prince was found unconscious in an elevator within his studio complex, Paisley Park.  Attempts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead on the scene.  He was just 57.  Cause of death was not immediately known, but foul play or suicide were not initially suspected.

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Posted in Funk, Gospel, Musician, Pop, R&B, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Died On This Date (February 4, 2016) Maurice White / Founder of Earth, Wind & Fire

Posted by themusicsover on February 4, 2016

Maurice White
December 19, 1941 – February 4, 2016

Maurice-WhiteMaurice White was the founder and co-lead singer of the highly influential R&B band, Earth, Wind & Fire.  Formed in Chicago in 1969, the band went on to sell over 100 million albums, making them one of the most successful bands of the 20th century.  For over four decades, the group dazzled audiences around the world thanks in part to their dynamic horn section and energetic live shows.  White was born in Memphis, Tennessee and gravitated toward music at an early age along with childhood friend, Booker T Jones.  As a teenager, White moved to Chicago where he found work as a session drummer for the legendary label, Chess Records.  He played on numerous records by the likes of Etta James, Muddy Waters, the Impressions, and Buddy Guy.   In 1966, he joined Ramsey Lewis Trio with whom he recorded nine albums and received his first Grammy for the single, “Hold It Right There.”  Three years later, he formed Earth, Wind & Fire and went on to produce most of the their albums.  In all, the group earned six Grammys along with countless other awards and accolades.  During the ’80s, White was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Due to that, he ultimately retired from touring in 1994, but continued to oversee the band’s business side while producing their records and those by others.   His most notable successes outside of Earth, Wind & Fire were releases by the Emotions and Deniece Williams.   The stunning list of other collaborators includes Barbra Streisand, Weather Report, Neil Diamond, and Minnie Riperton.  Maurice White was 74 when he passed away on February 4, 2016.  Cause of death was not immediately released but likely attributed to his long battle with Parkinson’s.

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Posted in Composer, Disco, Funk, Musician, Pop, Producer, R&B, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Died On This Date (February 4, 2016) Maurice White / Founder of Earth, Wind & Fire

RIP, Natalie Cole (December 31, 2015) R&B Great

Posted by themusicsover on December 31, 2015

Natalie Cole
February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015

Natalie-ColeNatalie Cole was an American R&B singer who, over the course of a career that spanned 6 decades, sold over 30 million albums and earned nine Grammys.  Born into a show business family – her father was Nat King Cole and her mother was Maria Hawkins Cole, a one-time singer for Duke Ellington, Cole followed her parents into show business at a very early age.  When she was just six, she sang on her father’s iconic Christmas album, and within five years, she was performing on stage.  After graduating from college, Cole began singing in clubs and soon caught the ear of a couple of producers who recorded a few tracks and shopped them around.  Capitol Records signed her and released her first album, Inseparable, in 1975.  The album contained her first top 10 single, “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” which resulted in Cole’s first two Grammys, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best New Artist.  The balance of the ’70s were extremely prosperous for Cole as she released several more hit records; performed to sell-out crowds; and made numerous TV appearance including her own two specials.  The early ’80s were less kind to her as record sales dwindled and she battled her own personal demons.  But by 1987, Cole’s career was bouncing back.  Her 1987 dance album, Everlasting, brought her back to the charts with such hit singles as, “Everlasting,” “Jump Start,” “I Live For Your Love,” and her pop crossover version of Bruce Springsteen‘s “Pink Cadillac.”  The hits continued through the early ’90s and beyond, with Cole’s style maturing into that which made her father famous, jazz vocals/traditional pop.  She continued to record and perform to adoring fans over the next two decades, but in December of 2015, it was later revealed, she had to cancel several shows due to ongoing health problems.  On December 31, 2015, Natalie Cole died of congestive heart failure at the age of 65.

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