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Posts Tagged ‘Ritchie Valens’

Died On This Date (May 7, 2011) John Walker / Lead Singer of the Walker Brothers

Posted by themusicsover on May 7, 2011

John Walker (Born John Maus)
November 12, 1943 – May 7, 2011

John Walker was a the co-lead singer of the Walker Brothers, a popular California-born “British” rock band during the ’60s.  Ironically, the band moved to England while British bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were taking over America.  As a sort of rock version of the Righteous Brothers, the band became immensely popular in England, with a fan club that once counted more members than even the Beatles’. During the early ’60s, Walker began building a name for himself throughout the hip Hollywood night spots while working with the likes of Phil Spector, the Monkees, and Ritchie Valens in the studio.  Meanwhile, he was forming the Walker Brothers with co-lead singer Scott Walker (born Noel Scott Engel) and drummer Gary Walker (born Gary Leeds) while playing in the house band at Gazzari’s on the Sunset Strip.  The band soon moved to England where they helped fill a void that was created when the popular British bands were trying to conquer America.  Over the course of their run, the Walker Brothers reportedly sold some 20 million records with hits like “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” “My Ship Is Comin’ In,” and “Love Her.”  In recent years, Walker regularly toured the UK as part of nostalgia tours.  In December of 2010, he was diagnosed with liver cancer.  John Walker was 67 when he died of cancer on May 7, 2011.

Thanks to Craig Rosen at number1albums for the assist.

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Died On This Date (March 4, 2011) Johnny Preston / Had Hit With “Running Bear”

Posted by themusicsover on March 4, 2011

Johnny Preston (born Johnny Courville)
August 18, 1939 – March 4, 2011

Johnny Preston was a rock ‘n roll pioneer who is perhaps best remembered for is 1960 #1 hit, “Running Bear.”  Preston was still in his teens when he and his band caught the attention of JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson at a local club.  Richardson was so impressed by the singer, that he gave Preston a tune he had penned to record.  That song was “Dancing Bear,” and when they put it to record, it included Richardson and future country icon, George Jones, on backing vocals.  The record was a huge hit, reaching #1 on both the U.S. and U.K. charts.  Unfortunately, Richardson never saw its success since it was released shortly after he perished in the plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.   Preston released a handful of other charting singles over the next couple of years, but none came close to the success of “Dancing Bear.”  He did however, continue to perform well into the 2000s and was once recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame as a pioneer of the genre.  Johnny Preston died of heart failure on March 4, 2011.  He was 71.

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Johnny Preston

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Died On This Date (July 18, 1966) Bobby Fuller / Rock ‘n Roll Great

Posted by themusicsover on July 18, 2010

Bobby Fuller
October 22, 1942 – July 18, 1966

Pound for pound, Bobby Fuller’s remarkable output could stack up against any of his peers even though it was cut tragically short after just two years. Songs like “I Fought The Law,” “Let Her Dance,” and “Another Sad and Lonely Night” are just a few of his classic rock ‘n roll recordings that have either been covered by major artists or cited as major influences. Growing up, Fuller idolized fellow Texan, Buddy Holly, and at an early age decided he wanted to be a rock ‘n roll singer as well. Starting in the early ’60s, Fuller began to make a name for himself in the El Paso area clubs, and by 1964, he was living in Los Angeles, chasing his dreams. It was while in Los Angeles, he formed the Bobby Fuller Four and convinced legendary producer Bob Keane to sign them to Mustang Records. Keane’s other claim to fame was discovering a young Ritchie Valens. With a sound that was equal parts Buddy Holly, Tex Mex, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Elvis, Little Richard and the Ventures, Fuller began putting out such instant hit records as “Let Her Dance,” “Love’s Made A Fool Of You,” and of course, the great “I Fought the Law.” And then, almost as quickly as it started, it all came to a tragic and mysterious end. In what the incompetent police ruled a “suicide,” Fuller was found with multiple wounds to his body, covered in gasoline, and left for dead in a parked car outside his apartment. The scene, not only unsecured by police, was never dusted for fingerprints. Fuller’s mother claimed that the police told her that he had been dead for two hours, even though she had been with him just 30 minutes prior. And one witness even came forward claiming they saw a police officer discard a gas can into a nearby dumpster. But the case was never solved. Many speculate that the perpetrators fled the scene before they were able to burn the car and body. And adding to the mystery, the LAPD case files remain lost to this day. A 2002 novel entitled The Dead Circus by John Kaye further fuels the fire by including a “fictional” subplot that has Frank Sinatra ordering the hit on Fuller because he did not like him dating his daughter.

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I Fought the Law - The Best of Bobby Fuller Four - Bobby Fuller Four

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Died On This Date (February 13, 2002) Waylon Jennings / Country Music Icon

Posted by themusicsover on February 13, 2010

Waylon Jennings
June 15, 1937 – February 13, 2002

waylon-jenningsWaylon Jennings was a hugely influential country singer, songwriter and musician who was one of the pioneers of the genre’s “outlaw” movement of the ’70s.  Jennings learned to play the guitar and formed his own band before he even hit his teen years.  One of Jennings’ first jobs in music was as a disc jockey at a local Texas radio station.  It was there that he met an up-and-coming rockabilly singer named Buddy Holly.  Before long, Jennings was playing bass in Holly’s band.  On February 3, 1959, Jennings career path suffered a tragic setback when Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Ritchie Valens all perished in a plane crash while they were on tour of the Midwest.  The accident, which has been memorialized as “the day the music died,” almost claimed Jennings’ life as well.  At the last minute Jennings gave up his seat to Richardson who hadn’t been feeling well.  As the musicians were boarding the plane, Holly quipped to Jennings, “I hope your ‘ol bus freezes up.”  Jennings’ retort, “Well, I hope your ‘ol plane crashes” haunted him for the rest of his life.   Jennings took a hiatus from performing and moved to Arizona where he went back to DJ’ing.  By the mid ’60s, he was making music again.     As he began building a following, Jennings met resistance from the Nashville music community for in part, not using the usual session players for his records.  Jennings was adamant that he would only use his traveling band in the studio.  And the rock edge to his music fell outside what was perceived as the “Nashville Sound,” a more slick country-pop.  This “outlaw” movement began to take hold as fellow country men like Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson who preferred to hang on to country’s honky tonk roots.   Over the course of his career, Jennings released a series of top-selling and influential country records.  That list includes Honky Tonk Heroes, Waylon Live, Are You Ready For The Country Lonesome, On’ry and Mean, Good Hearted Woman, and Dreaming My Dreams.  His collaborations with the likes of Nelson, Jessi Colter, the Highwaymen and the Outlaws were critically and commercially acclaimed as well.  Jennings stayed active through the ’90s even as his health began to fail due to diabetes.  On February 13, 2002, the disease claimed Waylon Jennings’ life.  He was 64.

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Honky Tonk Heroes - Waylon Jennings

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Died On This Date (February 3, 1959) Buddy Holly / Rock ‘n Roll Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on February 3, 2010

Buddy Holly (Born Charles Holley)
September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959

Buddy Holly was a gifted singer-songwriter who, even though his career lasted just a year and a half, was arguably the most important figure in the birth of rock ‘n roll.  Holly was more of a traditional country artist before being inspired by Elvis Presley and Bill Haley to add elements of rockabilly into his music in 1955.  The following year, he was signed by Decca Records and formed his back-up band, the Crickets.  Over the next eighteen months, Holly released one hit single after another.  They included “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be the Day,” and “Oh Boy.”  These songs became a direct influence on the likes of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones.  Just as Holly’s career was beginning to take off, tragedy struck.  February 3, 1959…it’s been called “the day the music died.”  While on a U.S. mid west tour called the Winter Dance Party, Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Ritchie Valens were on a small Beechcraft airplane en route from Mason City, IA to Moorhead, MN.  The winter weather was taking its toll on the traveling musicians.  Waylon Jennings had originally been slated to fly ahead, but gave up his seat to Richardson at the last minute.  Shortly after take off, the plane carrying rock ‘n roll’s brightest new stars crashed into an empty field killing everyone on board.  Initial reports blamed pilot error on Roger Peterson, but future examinations vindicated him, putting the blame squarely on the bad weather conditions.  Buddy Holly was 22 at the time of his death.

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The Buddy Holly Collection - Buddy Holly

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