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Posts Tagged ‘Little Richard’

Died On This Date (November 1, 2013) Bobby Parker / American Blues Guitar Legend

Posted by themusicsover on November 1, 2013

Bobby Parker
August 31, 1937 – November 1, 2013

bobby-parkerBobby Parker was an American blues rock guitarist, singer and songwriter who counted no less than Led Zeppelin and the Beatles as his disciples.  His biggest hit, 1961’s “Watch Your Step,” was covered by Santana, Manfred Mann and the Spencer Davis Group, while its primary lick was borrowed by the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers, Deep Purple and countless more. John Lennon called “Watch Your Step” one of his favorite records of all time.  Born in Louisiana but raised in Los Angeles, California, Parker picked up the guitar at a young age.  During his early professional years, he played for the likes of Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and the Everly Brothers.  He later toured with Check Berry and Little Richard among others. He settled in Washington, DC during the ’60s and continued to record and perform over the next four decades.  Bobby Parker was 76 when he passed away on November 1, 2013.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus at Bob Dylan Examiner for the assist.

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Died On This Date (August 12, 2012) Willa Ward / Gospel Music Icon

Posted by themusicsover on August 24, 2012

Willa Ward
December 13, 1920 – August 12, 2012

Willa Ward was a singer who was part of one of the most influential gospel groups of all time, the Ward Singers.  Formed in the early ’40s, the group, which initially included Ward’s mother, Gertrude Ward and sister, Clara Ward, became the world’s first, and at the time, biggest crossover spiritual groups.  The Ward Singers released over 80 records during what is considered the golden age of gospel, the mid ’40s to late ’50s.  Songs like “How I Got Over You” (one of Gospel’s first million sellers) and “Surely God Is Able,” and lively concerts helped them pack arenas and large theaters around the United States.  They are said to have directly influenced Aretha Franklin and Little Richard.  In the late ’50s, Ward left the group to sing pop music.  Over the course of her career, she sang back up for the likes of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Patti LaBelle, and Chubby Checker.  Willa Ward was 91 when she passed away on August 12, 2012.

Thanks to Henk de Bruin for the assist.



Posted in Gospel, Singer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Died On This Date (January 20, 2012) Etta James / American Singer

Posted by themusicsover on January 20, 2012

Etta James (Born Jamesetta Hawkins)
January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012

Etta James was an American singer whose songbook included forays into jazz, blues, soul, gospel and rock ‘n roll.  Born in Los Angeles, California, James had what many would consider a rough childhood and spent many years in the charge of caregivers.  Singing from a young age, James was just 14 when she caught the ear of music impresario, Johnny Otis.  Otis helped her land her first recording contract with Modern Records and before she knew it, she and her group, the Peaches were touring with Little Richard.  In 1960, now signed to Chess, James released her debut album, At Last!, which included the smash hit single of the same name.   The album, which also included hits like “A Sunday Kind Of Love” and “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” peaked at #68 on the album charts but is nonetheless considered one of the great albums of the era.  She went on to have several more hits over the next two decades.  After parting ways with Chess in 1978, James struggled with personal issues before launching a well-received come-back during the late ’80s.  Over the course of her career, James was awarded six Grammys, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an NAACP Image Award, and permanent homes in the Rock and Roll, Grammy, Blues, and Rockabilly Halls of Fame.  Rolling Stone magazine ranks her at #22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and #62 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists.   In 2010, Etta James was diagnosed with leukemia and ultimately died of the disease on January 20, 2012.  She was 73.

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Died On This Date (April 9, 2011) Randy Wood / Founder Of Dot Records & Ranwood Records

Posted by themusicsover on April 9, 2011

Randy Wood
March 30, 1917 – April 9, 2011

Randy Wood was a successful music industry executive who is perhaps best remembered for being the man behind Dot Records.  Wood had just returned home after serving in World War II when he opened an appliance store in Gallatin, TN.  When he started music – mostly pop and classical albums – young customers began coming in, but asking for the rhythm & blues records they heard on a powerful station from faraway Nashville, Tennessee.  Wood quickly realized there was a need for a mail-order record business, and 78RPM was born.   By sponsoring a show on that Nashville station, WLAC-AM, spots for Randy’s Record Shop’s mail-order services could be heard clear across the United States and beyond.   With the income he was realizing from orders, Wood soon launched Dot Records out of the store.   The label quickly turned a profit as Wood figured out that white performers singing watered-down R&B songs was a recipe for success.   His artists like Pat Boone were turning songs by Little Richard and Fats Domino into pop hits while helping to further popularize the R&B singers as well.  Others he signed to Dot included Lawrence Welk, Tab Hunter, Debbie Reynolds, and the Mills Brothers.  The label was one of the most successful independent record companies of its time.  In 1968, Wood partnered with Welk to launch Ranwood Records in order to release records by artists mostly associated with the Lawrence Welk Show.  Welk purchased the label from Wood in 1979.  Randy Wood passed away on April 9, 2011.  He was 94.



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Posted in Radio, Record Label | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Died On This Date (March 13, 2011) Melvin Sparks / Respected Soul-Jazz Guitarist

Posted by themusicsover on March 13, 2011

Melvin Sparks
March 22, 1946 – March 13, 2011

Melvin Sparks was a brilliant electric guitarist who made a name for himself on countless jazz and soul-jazz recordings as a session player and a band leader.  Born into a musical family, Sparks picked up the guitar at just eleven years old.  By the time he was in high school, he was playing behind Hank Ballard, and within a few years, he was in a touring band called the Upsetters who backed Little Richard, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Jackie Wilson.  He went on to become a session player for Blue Note and Prestige, playing on records by the likes of Lou Donaldson, Jimmy McGriff, and Hank Crawford.  In the 90s, he played with Soulive and Galactic during the acid jazz revival.  Melvin Sparks was 64 when he passed away on March 13, 2011.  It has been reported that diabetes and high blood pressure was to blame.

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