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 February 4, 2016
December 19, 1941 – February 4, 2016
Maurice 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.
What You Should Own
Click to find at amazon.com
Posted in Composer, Disco, Funk, Musician, Pop, Producer, R&B, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: Barbra Streisand, Booker T. Jones, Buddy Guy, Deniece Williams, Earth, Etta James, Maurice White, Minnie Riperton, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond, Ramsey Lewis Trio, The Emotions, The Impressions, Weather Report, Wind | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on March 30, 2013
January 5, 1941 – March 30, 2013
Phil Ramone was a successful record producer who, over a career that spanned some five decades, was awarded 15 Grammys, one Emmy, and countless other accolades. A child prodigy born in South Africa, Ramone, was playing the violin at age three, and performing for Queen Elizabeth II before he hit his teens. During the ’40s, he moved to the United States where he attended The Julliard School before becoming a U.S. citizen in 1953. In 1959, Ramone opened his own studio, A & R Recording and quickly built a name for himself due to his use of the latest technologies. Artists he went to produce landmark albums with include Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Chicago and Barbra Streisand. And albums he produced for Ray Charles, Billy Joel, and Paul Simon each went on to earn Album Of The Year awards at the Grammys. Ramone also recorded Marilyn Monroe‘s notorious rendition of “Happy Birthday To You” to President John F. Kennedy. He was also considered one of the industry’s top innovators. In 1982, his digitally recorded version of Billy Joel’s 52nd Street became the first album to be released on compact disc in Japan. He was also largely responsible for Surround Sound for movies. Phil Ramone was 72 when he passed away on March 30, 2013. Cause of death was not immediately released.
Thanks to Paul Bearer for the assist.
Posted in Musician, Producer | Tagged: Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Chicago, Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Simon, Phil Ramone, Queen Elizabeth II, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Rod Stewart | 1 Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on August 6, 2012
June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012
Marvin Hamlisch was a New York City born composer who is one of just two people (the other being Richard Rodgers) to have won an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer Prize. His total count was four Emmys, three Oscars, one Tony, four Grammys, one Pulitzer Prize, plus two Golden Globes. A child prodigy, Hamlisch was just seven when he was accepted to Julliard’s pre-college division. Years later, his first job was as Barbra Streisand’s rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl. His movie score credits include The Way We Were, The Sting, Ordinary People, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Sophie’s Choice. For Broadway, he composed the award-winning score for A Chorus Line among others. A songwriter as well, Hamlisch wrote hits for Lesley Gore and Carly Simon. Marvin Hamlisch was 68 when, on August 6, 2012, he died following a brief illness. Cause of death was not immediately released.
What You Should Own
Click to find at amazon.com
Posted in Composer, Easy Listening, Musician, Songwriter | Tagged: Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Lesley Gore, Marvin Hamlisch, Richard Rodgers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on February 23, 2012
May 10, 1937 – February 23, 2012
Mike Melvoin was a much-respected jazz pianist whose talent can be heard on countless records by some of the biggest names in music. Since 1961, Melvoin graced recordings by such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Tom Waits, Peggy Lee, Michael Jackson, and Charlie Haden. As one of L.A.’s leading session players, it was Melvoin who got the call to play on such landmark recordings as the Jackson 5’s “ABC,” the Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations,” Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable,” Barbra Streisand’s “Evergreen,” and John Lennon’s “Stand By Me.” He released several albums of his own as well, on such respected labels as Verve, Dot, and Liberty. Melvoin also found time to raise his own family of respected musicians – Wendy Melvoin of Wendy & Lisa, Jonathan Melvoin of Smashing Pumpkins fame, and Susannah Melvoin. Mike Melvoin was 74 when he died of cancer on February 23, 2012.
Thanks Craig Rosen at Number 1 Albums for the assist.
Posted in Jazz, Musician | Tagged: Barbra Streisand, Charlie Haden, Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, jonathan melvoin, Michael Jackson, Mike Melvoin, Natalie Cole, Peggy Lee, Smashing Pumpkins, Susannah Melvoin, the Beach Boys, The Jackson 5, Tom Waits, Wendy & Lisa, Wendy Melvoin | Leave a Comment »