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Posts Tagged ‘Beach Boys’

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 (February 5, 2013) Paul Tanner / Glenn Miller Orchestra; Played On “Good Vibrations”

Posted by themusicsover on February 5, 2013

Paul Tanner
October 15, 1917 – February 5, 2013

paul-tannerUntil his passing, Paul Tanner was the last surviving member of the original Glenn Miller Orchestra.  Born into a musical family, Tanner was already touring the country by his late teens.  During one of those gigs, Tanner was approached by Miller who asked him to join his band.  He played trombone for Miller from 1938 to 1942.  After Miller went off to play in the Army Air Force Band, Tanner went on to do session work in Los Angeles, and teach music for 23 years at UCLA.  He also performed with the ABC Orchestra for 16 years, sharing the stage with Andre Previn and Leonard Bernstein to name just two.  During the ’50s, Tanner developed an spacey-sounding instrument called an electro-theremin and by doing so, became a pioneer of electronic music as we know it today.  With his electro-theremin, Tanner can be heard on music played during the  My Favorite Martian television series as well as other programs and films.  He also played the instrument on the Beach Boys‘ “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” “Wild Honey,” and most notably, “Good Vibrations.”  Paul Tanner was 95 when he passed away on February 5, 2013.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus at Bob Dylan Examiner for the assist



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Died On This Date (April 8, 2011) Roger Nichols / Producer & Engineer

Posted by themusicsover on April 8, 2011

Roger Nichols
September 22, 1944 – April 8, 2011

Roger Nichols was a respected producer and recording engineer who over the course of his career, accumulated seven Grammys.  Most closely associated with Steely Dan, Nichols also worked with the likes of John Denver, the Beach Boys, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, and Diana Ross, to name just a few.  Raised in Southern California, Nichols went to high school with Zappa with whom he made his earliest tapes.  After graduating from college where he studied nuclear physics, Nichols first found work has a nuclear operator at the San Onofre nuclear power plant north of San Diego.  But in the mid ’60s he moved back over to music and opened his own recording studio.  In 1970, he went to work for ABC Dunhill Records where he met Walter Becker and Donald Fagen who were hired writers for the label.  Within a year, Nichols was behind the board for the birth of Becker’s and Fagen’s group, Steely Dan.  He would go on to engineer such landmark albums as their Pretzel Logic, Aja, Countdown To Ecstasy, and Gaucho.  He earned Grammys for his work on Aja, Gaucho, Two Against Nature, FM, and John Denver’s All Aboard!.  Roger Nichols was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May of 2010, and died from it on April 8, 2011.  He was 66.

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Died On This Date (March 14, 2011) Todd Cerney / Celebrated Rock & Country Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on March 14, 2011

Todd Cerney
DOB Unknown – March 14, 2011

Todd Cerney was a brilliant songwriter, musician, and producer who was based in Nashville, Tennessee.  Born in Detroit, Cerney moved to Nashville during the ’70s to further his career.  His songs have been recorded by George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Jon Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Cheap Trick to name a few.  His hits include the Grammy-nominated “I’ll Be Loving You” (Restless Heart) and the country chart topping “Good Morning Beautiful” (Steve Holy).  As an in-demand session player,  Cerney has performed live or recorded with a list of superstars that includes the Dixie Chicks, the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys, and Jackson Browne.  In November of 2010, Todd Cerney suffered a brain seizure and subsequently learned he had stage four melanoma cancer.  On March 14, 2011, Cerney died as a result of the cancer.



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Died On This Date (August 2, 2009) Billy Lee Riley / Rockabilly Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on August 2, 2010

Billy Lee Riley
October 5, 1933 – August 2, 2009

Billy LeeBorn to poverty in Arkansas, Billy Lee Riley moved to Memphis after a stint in the army during the ’50s.  Having learned to play the guitar from the local black farm workers, Riley set out to make a name for himself in music.  He was soon recording for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios.  During his Memphis years, Riley released such hit records as “Flying Saucers Rock and Roll,” and “Red Hot.”  In the early ’60s, Riley moved to Los Angeles where he played on records by the likes of the Beach Boys, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.  He retired from music during the ’70s but returned during the ’90s, releasing the Grammy-nominated Hot Damn! in 1997.  Billy Lee Riley died of colon cancer on August 2, 2009.  He was 75.

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The Very Best of Billy Lee Riley: Red Hot! - Billy Lee Riley

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