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.
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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 August 21, 2013
August 12, 1918 – August 21, 2013
Sid Bernstein was a concert promoter who was largely responsible for the onset of the British Invasion by setting up the first US concerts by England’s biggest rock bands at the time. In 1964, Bernstein felt the excitement building for the Beatles so he contacted their manager Brian Epstein, and convinced him to let him promote two shows at Carnegie Hall after their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The demand for tickets was so huge, that he arranged their legendary Shea Stadium concert the following year. By doing so, he became the first promoter to ever set up a rock concert in a sports stadium. Bernstein went on to organize the first five Rolling Stones shows in America. He also brought fellow British Invasion groups, Herman’s Hermits, the Moody Blues, and the Kinks over for their first US shows. The list of others Bernstein organized early major early concerts for include Judy Garland, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and James Brown who once credited Bernstein for being the only significant promoter to work with Black acts during the ’60s. Sid Bernstein was 95 when he passed away on August 21, 2013.
Posted in Promoter | Tagged: Brian Epstein, Ed Sullivan, Frank Sinatra, Herman's Hermits, James Brown, Judy Garland, Ray Charles, Sid Bernstein, The Beatles, The Kinks, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, Tony Bennett | 3 Comments »
Posted by themusicsover on July 4, 2013
October 17, 1960 – July 4, 2013
Bernie Nolan was an Irish actress and singer who fronted the popular all-sister pop group, the Nolans. Formed initially the Singing Nolans in 1963, the act was made up of the entire Nolan family, including mom and dad and two brothers. The group had moderate success throughout the UK before the sisters split off as the Nolan Sisters (and eventually the Nolans) in 1974. After receiving their break on Cliff Richards‘ television show, the group began making regular appearances on several UK programs. In 1975, they landed the opening slot on Frank Sinatra‘s European tour which was followed by a support gig for Englebert Humperdinck. The Nolans went on to release a series of disco hits including “I’m in the Mood for Dancing,” Gotta Pull Myself Together,” and “Attention To Me.” In all, they sold millions of albums including 9 million, in Japan where they found tremendous success. In the early ’90s, Bernie left the group to concentrate on her acting career. She built a respectable resume over the next two decades before returning to music in 2004 when she released a charity single, “Macushla” which reached #38 on the UK charts. She followed that a year later with her first solo album, All By Myself. In 2010, reports began to surface that Bernie was suffering from breast cancer. Later that year, she announced that she was cancer free, but by October of 2012, the cancer had returned. Bernie Nolan ultimately died of the cancer on July 4, 2013. She was 52.
Thanks to Kim Shepard for the assist.
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Posted in Disco, Pop, Singer | Tagged: Bernie Nolan, Cliff Richards, Englebert Humperdinck, Frank Sinatra, The Nolan Sisters, The Nolans, The Singing Nolans | 1 Comment »
Posted by themusicsover on June 23, 2013
Bobby “Blue” Bland
January 27, 1930 – June 23, 2013
Known as the “Lion of the Blues” as well as the “Frank Sinatra of the Blues,” Bobby “Blue” Bland was an influential singer who successfully blurred the lines between soul, Gospel, and R&B, and by doing so, found himself years later resting at #44 of Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Born at the southeastern most tip of Tennessee, Bland eventually moved with his mother to Memphis where he began singing with local Gospel groups. He soon started hanging out in the storied Beale Street clubs where he joined up with a loose group of local aspiring singers and musicians sometimes referred to as the Beale Streeters who counted B.B. King and Johnny Ace as members. After an early ’50s stint in the U.S. Army, Bland returned to Memphis and began making records in 1954. The early ones received little notice, but in the late ’50s and early ’60s, his records like “Farther Up The Road,” “Little Boy Blue,” and “I Pity The Fool” started showing up on the R&B charts. By the late ’60s, he had no fewer than 23 Top Ten R&B hits and was later listed at #13 on a list of the best-selling R&B artists of all time. In all, Bland released nearly 30 albums, his most recent being 2003’s Blues At Midnight. Over the course of his career, Bland recorded or performed with B.B. King, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Van Morrison, Junior Parker, and many more. In 1981, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and in 1992, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bobby “Blue” Bland was 83 when he passed away on June 23, 2013.
What You Should Own
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Posted in Blues, R&B, Singer | Tagged: Bobby Blue Bland, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Ace, Junior Parker, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Van Morrison | 3 Comments »
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 »