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Posts Tagged ‘John Hammond’

Died On This Date (January 27, 2014) Pete Seeger / American Folk Singer and Activist

Posted by themusicsover on January 27, 2014

Pete Seeger
May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014

pete-seegerPete Seeger is regarded by many as the single most important figure of the American folk music revival of the late ’50s/early ’60s.  Just as important to many, he used his talent and popularity to shine a light on social injustice, poverty, environmental issues, anti-war movements, and more.  Born into a highly academic  and musical family in New York City, Seeger was exposed to music at a very young age.  Educated primarily in boarding schools, he was very well-educated and somewhat withdrawn until he found his spotlight while entertaining classmates with a ukulele he picked up on his own.  By the late ’30s, he switched over to the banjo, the instrument he would help popularize three decades later.  As the years went on, Seeger went from small festival folky to cultural hero thanks in part to his songs that would become the soundtrack to the ’60s Civil Rights Movement and beyond.  Tunes like “If I Had A Hammer” written with Weavers band mate, Lee Hays), “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” have become folk standards as well as part of the fabric that is American music.  They, and many others, have been recorded by a who’s who of pop, rock and folk singers throughout the past half century.  To name just a few of his honors, Seeger has received the National Medal Of Arts, the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a George Peabody Medal, and multiple Grammys, including one for Best Children’s Album in 2010.  To list those who could rightfully say “if it wasn’t for Pete Seeger…” would take days, but two in particular were Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. It was Seeger who urged Columbia’s John Hammond to produce Dylan’s first album.  Springsteen meanwhile would devote much of his career paying tribute to Seeger, including naming his 2010 album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, which ironically, included no songs penned by Seeger, but whose influence can be heard throughout.  With an astonishing career that spanned 75 years, Seeger remained active up until his final days, including a September 2013 performance at Farm Aid at the age of 94.  Pete Seeger was nearly three months shy of his 95th birthday when he passed away on January 27, 2014.

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Died On This Date (September 20, 2011) Frank Driggs / Record Producer & Jazz Historian

Posted by themusicsover on September 20, 2011

Frank Driggs
1930 – September 20, 2011

Frank Driggs was a jazz lover who became one of the genre’s most respected historians and collectors.  Because of his reputation, producer legend, John Hammond hired him during the late ’50s to help him put packages together for Columbia Records.  While at the label, Driggs worked on releases by the likes of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and the most celebrated, Robert Johnson’s Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings which won Driggs a Grammy in 1991.  He also produced records for Bluebird, Okeh, and MCA, to name a few.  Meanwhile, Driggs was gathering jazz photos, hand bills, ticket stubs and such for his own personal collection which, by the mid 2000s, swelled to over 100,000 images.   After retiring in 1977,  Driggs continued to earn a living by providing photographs for books and documentaries, the highest profile being perhaps Ken Burns’ Jazz series of 2001.  Frank Driggs passed away of natural causes on September 20, 2011.  He was 81.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus for the assist.



Posted in Jazz, Producer | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Died On This Date (August 27, 1990) Stevie Ray Vaughan

Posted by themusicsover on August 27, 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan
October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990

Photo by David Plastik – Click To Order Quality Prints – Discount code: 10OFF

Stevie Ray Vaughan was a Texas rock and blues artist who exploded on to the scene thanks, in part to a firey performance at the July 17, 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival whose audience included  David Bowie and Jackson Browne.  After meeting backstage, Bowie hired Vaughan to play guitar on Lets Dance which became his best selling album, and Browne offered his recording studio at no charge for him to record his demos.  Not long after, a tape of Vaughan’s Montreux set found its way to legendary scout, John Hammond Sr. who got him a deal with Columbia Records.   Quickly building a reputation as one of the greatest electric guitar slingers popular music has ever known, Vaughan’s albums became bestsellers and his concert performances became stuff of legend.  Unfortunately, his long-time drug addictions were also catching up with him, both creatively and physically.  In September of 1986, Vaughan collapsed while on tour in Germany.  After checking himself into rehab, he was clean and sober by the end of the year.  Over the next few years, Vaughan won a Grammy, headlined the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and performed and George Bush Sr.’s inauguration party.  While on tour with Eric Clapton in August of 1990, Vaughan opted to take a helicopter in order to avoid local traffic after his Alpine Valley (Troy, WI) show.  Due to multiple factors including heavy fog, the pilot crashed the helicopter into a nearby hillside shortly after takeoff, killing Vaughan, the pilot and three of Clapton’s associates on impact.  Stevie Ray Vaughan was 35 at the time of his death.

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Couldn't Stand the Weather (Legacy Edition) - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Own A Piece Of Rock ‘N Roll History

Photo by David Plastik – Click To Order Quality Prints – Discount code: 10OFF

Photo by David Plastik – Click To Order Quality Prints – Discount code: 10OFF



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Died On This Date (July 17, 1959) Billie Holiday / Jazz Icon

Posted by themusicsover on July 17, 2010

Billie Holiday (Born Eleanora Fagan)
April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959

Billie Holiday was one of the of the most influential singers popular music has ever known, but sadly, she was also one of its most tragic figures. After a childhood that included the abandonment of a father, tremendous poverty, Catholic reform school, at least one rape, and time served for prostitution, Holiday began singing in local clubs for tips in order to survive. It was reportedly at one of these clubs in 1933, that she was discovered by ace talent scout, John Hammond. This lead to Holiday’s recording debut on two Benny Goodman sides later that year.  From there, Holiday was soon signed to Brunswick Records and was singing for the likes of Artie Shaw and Count Basie.   Within a decade she was being regarded as one of the most important voices in jazz.   Even though she was well on her way to fame and fortune, Holiday couldn’t shake her painful past.  In 1947 she was arrested for drug possession and served nearly a year in prison where she claims she didn’t sing one note of music.  Holiday made a triumphant return to stage less than two weeks after she was released.  It was Carnegie Hall, and by all accounts, her set was staggering.  She would again be arrested for drug possession less than a year later.   By the early 50s, Holiday was having trouble landing gigs due to her record and seemingly continued down the road of drug and alcohol abuse.  Unfortunately, her only support system seemed to be a string of abusive men she connected with through most of her adult life.  While close to death in hospital in May of 1959, the local police kept a guard at her door, raided her room and arrested her for drug possession while she lay dying.  Two weeks later, Billie Holiday was dead of cirrhosis of the liver.  She had less than $1000 to her name.

What You Should Own

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Lady Day - The Best of Billie Holiday - Billie Holiday

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Died On This Date (July 10, 1987) John Hammond / Legendary Talent Scout & Producer

Posted by themusicsover on July 10, 2010

John H. Hammond
December 15, 1910 – July 10, 1987

Photo by Frank Driggs

Photo by Frank Driggs

John Hammond was one of the most influential men in the music business during the 20th century.  Whether as a producer or talent scout, Hammond was instrumental in the success of many of the names in music.  That list includes Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pete Seeger, Aretha Franklin, and Count Basie.  Hammond began his career in the early ’30s, mostly working with jazz artists, primarily helping African American musicians like Lionel Hampton and Charlie Christian land gigs in previously all-white bands.  In 1938, Hammond put together the first of the groundbreaking From Spirituals To Swing concerts that included the biggest names in jazz, blues and gospel.  Taking place at Carnegie Hall, it was reportedly the first significant concert by a racially mixed group of performers in front of a racially mixed audience.  The albums documenting the shows are now considered American music classics and a box set was released in 1999 thanks in part to Morgana Kennedy at Vanguard Records. In the early ’60s, Hammond was hired by Columbia Records where he signed Springsteen, Dylan, Seeger, Aretha and many others.  John Hammond passed away after a stroke at the age of 76.

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