Posted by themusicsover on November 13, 2016
Leon Russell (Born Claude Russell Bridges)
April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016
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.
What You Should Own
Click to find at amazon.com
Posted in Country, Musician, Producer, R&B, Record Label, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: Amy Winehouse, Andy Williams, B.B. King, Barbra Streisand, Beach Boys, Bernie Taupin, Bob Dylan, Bread, Christina Aguilera, David Gates, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Ray Charles, Rolling Stones, T-Bone Burnett, the byrds, Willie Nelson, Wrecking Crew, Zakk Wylde | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on December 18, 2011
March 15, 1944 – December 18, 2011
Ralph MacDonald was an in-demand percussionist and hit songwriter who could count two of the biggest R&B songs of the ’70s as his own. Growing up in a musical family in Harlem, New York, MacDonald first picked up the steelpan as a youngster. By the time he was 17, he had already played his first big gig at a local Harry Belafonte show. He continued on with Belafonte for the next ten years until parting ways in 1971. MacDonald soon became one of contemporary music’s most in-demand session players, performing on countless R&B, jazz and disco records. The list of those he recorded with includes George Benson, Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffett, Carole King, Average White Band, the Brothers Johnson, Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, and David Bowie. MacDonald also released several albums under his own name. His song, “Calypso Breakdown” can be heard on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. As a songwriter, MacDonald scored to massive c0-writing hits; “Where Is The Love,” the 1971 hit for Roberta Flack, and “Just The Two Of Us,” the Grammy-winning hit for Bill Withers in 1981. Ralph MacDonald was 67 when he died of lung cancer on December 8, 2011.
Thanks to Paul Bearer for the assist.
Posted in Jazz, Musician, R&B, Songwriter | Tagged: Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, Average White Band, Bill Withers, Carole King, David Bowie, George Benson, Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, Ralph MacDonald, Roberta Flack, The Brothers Johnson | 1 Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on August 22, 2011
May 4, 1942 – August 22, 2001
Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson
Nick Ashford was a respected songwriter, singer and producer, who with his wife Valerie Simpson made up one of popular music’s most successful hit-making teams. The pair got their start as songwriters during the mid ’60s when they penned such R&B staples as the 5th Dimension’s “California Soul,” Aretha Franklin’s “Cry Like A Baby,” and Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” They quickly caught the eye of Motown’s Berry Gordy who hired them on to write songs for and produce many of the label’s acts. For Motown, Ashford and Simpson wrote such hits as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing,” and “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” to name just a few. Beyond Motown, the list of artists who scored hits with their songs includes Teddy Pendergrass, Chaka Khan, and the Brothers Johnson. As performers, Ashford and Simpson were a formidable force as well. They began making records together during the mid ’60s, but it was the late ’70s and early ’80s that saw their biggest hits like “Solid,” “Street Corner, and “Don’t Cost You Nothin’.” In 1992, Whitney Houston had a huge hit with their “I’m Every Woman” from The Bodyguard soundtrack. The song had originally been recorded by Chaka Khan. 1985 saw Ashford and Simpson become one of Live-Aid’s most memorable if not emotional moments when the brought Teddy Pendergrass on stage for his first public performance since an automobile accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. Their performance of “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” that day struck a chord with viewers from the Philadelphia crowd to those watching on TV from around the world. The pair continued to perform and produce together and separately for many years to come while their songs continued to find new audiences, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” which was prominently sampled for Amy Winehouse’s single, “Tears Dry On Their Own.” Nick Ashford passed away on August 22, 2011 following a courageous battle with throat cancer. He was 70.
Thanks to Ken McCullagh at New Releases Now for the assist.
What You Should Own
Click to find at amazon.com
Posted in Musician, R&B, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, Berry Gordy, Chaka Khan, Nick Ashford, Ray Charles, Teddy Pendergrass, The 5th Dimension, The Brothers Johnson, Valerie Simpson | 1 Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on July 23, 2011
September 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011
Member of the 27 Club
Amy Winehouse was an English singer-songwriter who burst on to the scene in 2006 and quickly built a legion of fans for her soulful and sultry songs that offered a mix of R&B, Jazz, Rock, Pop, and Soul. During a relatively short and troubled life in front of the masses, Winehouse opened the door for such white neo-soul divas as Duffy and Adele. Born in north London, Winehouse quickly took a shine to music and soon found herself being scolded by her teachers for constantly breaking out into a song during classes. By 13, she had her first guitar, and within a year she was writing her own songs. Shortly after that she was signed by Simon Fuller’s 19 Management. Fuller of course, is of American Idol fame. In October of 2003, Winehouse released her debut album, Frank, likely in a nod to one of her idols, Frank Sinatra. The album was critically acclaimed and did well across the U.K., but it wasn’t until the release of 2006’s Back To Black and its instantly iconic first single, “Rehab,” that Winehouse’s popularity skyrocketed around the globe. The album entered the U.S. charts at #7, and was the biggest selling album of the year in the U.K. Back To Black and Winehouse won several Grammys that year, including Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist. The album also sat in the Top 10 of most credible year-end best-of lists of 2006. But the spotlight was harsh on Winehouse who was dealing with her own internal demons. She admitted to struggling with eating disorders, depression and self harm, while abuse of illegal drugs contributing to a life that seemed to be quickly spiraling out of control. There were also a handful of legal issues – drug related and otherwise, along with health problems that were keeping Winehouse’s often sadly frightening images in the media, no thanks to paparazzi who were documenting her fall from greatness. On July 23, 2011, Amy Winehouse was found to be not breathing in her bed by her security guard who immediately called paramedics who were not able to revive her. Cause of death was attributed to alcohol poisoning. Like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and so many great 27 Clubbers before her, Winehouse was 27 when she passed away.
What You Should Own
Click to find at amazon.com
Posted in Musician, Pop, R&B, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: Adele, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Frank Sinatra, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Simon Fuller | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on March 22, 2010
DOB Unknown – March 22, 2008
Jason Rae was saxophone player and the husband of Corinne Bailey Rae. He played in a funk band called the Haggis Horns who released their debut album Hot Damn! in September 2007, and who have played with Bailey and Amy Winehouse. Rae met Bailey while he was working at a Leeds club and she was a college student. On March 22, 2008, Rae was found dead of an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol. He was 31.
Thanks to Craig Rosen at Number 1 Albums for the assist.
Posted in Funk, Musician | Tagged: Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Haggis Horns, Jason Rae | Leave a Comment »