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Posts Tagged ‘Christina Aguilera’

Died On This Date (November 13, 2016) Leon Russell / 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.


What You Should Own

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Died On This Date (January 16, 2012) Jimmy Castor / ’70s Funk Great; Had Hit With “Troglodyte (Cave Man)”

Posted by themusicsover on January 16, 2012

Jimmy Castor
January 23, 1947 – January 16, 2012

Jimmy Castor was one of the greats of funk. Period.  Born in New York City, Castor began his career as a doo wop singer during the mid ’50s.  He made his first record in 1956 – the self-penned “I Promise To Remember.”  The following year, he replaced Frankie Lymon in the Teenagers.   By the mid ’60s, he was playing saxophone on others’ records while making his few of his own that were starting to find an audience on the dance floors of New York City.  His first hit came in 1966 with “Hey Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You.”  In 1972, he formed the Jimmy Castor Bunch who were quickly signed to RCA Records.  Later that year, they released It’s Just Begun, which contained the part novelty, but all funk classic, “Troglodyte (Cave Man).”  The song quickly lit up radio request lines across the US and is now a must-have for  any respectable funk collection.  The song hit #6 on the Billboard pop charts and sold over a million copies within weeks.  It has since become one of the most heavily sampled songs of the era.  The list of those who have borrowed from it include Kool Moe Dee, N.W.A., Neneh Cherry, Lil’ Kim, Ginuwine, the Beastie Boys, Ice Cube, and Christina Aguilera.    Castor followed with other hits like “The Bertha Butt Boogie (Part 1)” and “King Kong (Part 1).”   During the ’80s, Castor made several more records and ran his own record label.  Jimmy Castor was 64 when he passed away in a Nevada hospital on January 16, 2011.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

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Jimmy Castor Bunch

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