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Posts Tagged ‘Robbie Robertson’

Died On This Date (April 11, 2014) Jesse Winchester / Respected Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on April 11, 2014

James “Jesse” Winchester
May 17, 1944 – April 11, 2014

jesse-winchesterJesse Winchester was an American singer-songwriter who made his biggest mark on popular music during the early ’70s.  Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Winchester moved to Montreal in 1967 in order to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War.  It was while in Canada that he launched his career in music thanks to early encouragement and support from the Band’s Robbie Robertson.  Winchester released his debut self-titled album in 1970 and continued to record acclaimed albums on and off over the next 40 years.  Since he couldn’t tour the U.S. as a draft resister during the peak years of his output, Winchester became better known as a songwriter than a live performer and recording artist.  The long list of those who recorded his songs includes Elvis Costello, George Strait, Jimmy Buffet, Joan Baez, the Everly Brothers, and Wynona Judd. In 1976, President Jimmy Carter pardoned many so-called draft dodgers, so Winchester was allowed back into the US.  His first show back on US soil was in April of 1977, a performance that prompted Rolling Stone magazine to declare him “the Greatest Voice of the Decade.”  He permanently relocated back to America in 2002 and continued to record and tour throughout the remainder of his life.  Jesse Winchester died of cancer on April 11, 2014.  He was 69.


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Posted in Folk, Musician, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Died On This Date (April 19, 2012) Levon Helm / Drummer & Co-Lead Singer For The Band

Posted by themusicsover on April 19, 2012

Mark “Levon” Helm
May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012

Levon Helm was a rock musician, singer and songwriter best known for his time spent in the Band, one of Canada’s most celebrated rock bands.   Helm was still a few years shy of his teens when he first took up the guitar.  The drums were soon to follow.  After graduating from high school, he was invited by Ronnie Hawkins to join his back up band, the Hawks.  Hawkins later recruited Canadian musicians, Rick Danko, Robbie RobertsonGarth Hudson and Richard Manuel.  After splitting away from Hawkins in 1963, the group forged on as Levon & The Hawks – touring throughout Canada and the northern U.S. until they got a call from Bob Dylan asking them to support him on the road.   Changing their name to simply the Band by the late ’60s, they secured a deal with Capitol Records and delivered their debut, Music From Big Pink, one of rock music’s true masterpieces.  That was followed by albums like The Band, Stage Fright, and Cahoots which only added more songs to one of rock’s finest catalogs. Helm sang lead on many of the group’s best songs.  On Thanksgiving night of 1976, the Band performed what would be their final show as that unit at San Francisco’s Winterland.  To the surprise of the audience, the Band proved to be the greatest backing band of all times as a cavalcade of the era’s most respected performers showed their own respect by joining them on stage throughout the evening.  That list included Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, and Dylan, each arguably giving the single greatest live performance of their careers.  Fortunately, the evening was captured on film by Martin Scorsese, who released it theatrically as The Last Waltz, often noted popular music’s greatest concert film.  Following the band’s break up, Helm continued on as a solo act and participated in later reincarnations of the Band.  In later years, Helm hosted numerous concerts at his home and studio in Woodstock, NY.  These Midnight Rambles, as they became to be known, played host to a veritable who’s who of roots music.  He later took the show on the road, even releasing one such evening, Ramble at the Ryman, on CD in 2011.  During the late ’90s, Helm learned he had throat cancer.  He eventually recovered enough to hit the Ramble stage and record arguably his two best solo albums of his career, 2007’s Dirt Farmer, and 2009’s Electric Dirt.  They earned him Grammys for Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Americana Album, respectively.  Ramble at the Ryman was named Best Americana Album as well.  During the second week of April, 2012, Helm’s family released a statement that he was in the final days of a battle with cancer.  On April 19, 2012, Levon Helm passed away at the age of 71.

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Dirt Farmer - Levon Helm

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Died On This Date (August 19, 2010) Michael Been / The Call

Posted by themusicsover on August 19, 2010

Michael Been
DOB Unknown – August 19, 2010

Michael Been is best remembered as the founding singer and guitarist for American rock band, the Call.  Formed in 1980, the group released a string of albums throughout the ’80s and ’90s , making them part of New Wave’s first generation which found a friend in early MTV.  The band’s biggest single and video were 1983’s “The Walls Came Down.  Their most successful album was 1986’s Reconciled, which included guests, Robbie Robertson, Peter Gabriel, and Jim Kerr.   In recent years, Been was working with his son, Robert Levon Been as a sound man for his own popular band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  On August 19, 2010, Michael Been suffered a fatal heart attack while backstage at a BRMC concert in Belgium.  He was 60.

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20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Call - The Call

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Died On This Date (August 14, 1988) Roy Buchanan / Electric Blues Great

Posted by themusicsover on August 14, 2010

Roy Buchanan
September 23, 1939 – August 14, 1988

Roy Buchanan was a respected blues guitarist who rose to prominence in the late ’50s thanks in part to his prowess on the Telecaster. Rolling Stone placed him at #57 in their list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.  He got his professional start early, playing with Johnny Otis at just 15.  In the early ’60s, Buchanan began working with Ronnie Hawkins alongside Robbie Robertson who he reportedly tutored on the guitar.  In the early ’80s, Buchanan was the subject of a documentary entitled The Best Unknown Guitarist In The World, an opinion evidently shared by the likes of John Lennon and Eric Clapton.  He was soon offered a record deal with Polydor Records who released his first solo album in 1972.   Except for a four-year break beginning in 1981, Buchanan continued to record and perform until his death in 1988.   Buchanan struggled with substance abuse for many years and on August 14, 1988, he was arrested and placed in a Virginia jail for public drunkenness.  Some hours later, his lifeless body was found hanging by his shirt in his cell.  His death was officially ruled a homicide, but his family and friends have claimed there was evidence to the contrary.   He was 48 at the time of his death.

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Posted in Blues, Musician, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Died On This Date (May 25, 1965) Sonny Boy Williamson II

Posted by themusicsover on May 25, 2010

Sonny Boy Williamson II (Born Rice Miller)
December 5, 1899 or May 11, 1908 – May 25, 1965

There’s likely only one person who could say they played alongside not only Robert Johnson, but also Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Eric Burden, and Robbie Robertson; that person is Sonny Boy Williamson II. Born on a plantation, Williamson worked along with his father as a sharecropper until he decided to head out on his own in the early ’30s with a harmonica along for the ride. He would meet up and play with the likes of Elmore James, Robert Lockwood Jr., and the great Robert Johnson. Besides having tremendous skills on the harmonica, Williamson learned a few tricks to dazzle his audiences, like playing it with no hands or playing it while nestled between his upper lip and nose. I should point out that around this time, there was another harmonica-playing Sonny Boy Williamson gaining popularity throughout the blues world. So to distinguish the two, this one (Rice Miller) was referred to as “Number 2” or “The Second,” even though he claimed to have started using the stage name first. Williamson made his first recordings for Trumpet Records in 1951, but when the label went bankrupt in 1955, his contract became the property of the renowned Chess Records who helped him achieve much greater success. By the ’60s he was being embraced by the new British blues-rock artists as a main influence affording him the opportunity to record with the Animals and the Yardbirds. Williamson recorded some 70 songs during his career, many of which are considered blues staples and have been covered by Aerosmith, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Nick Cave, the New York Dolls, and the Allman Brothers to name but a few. Sadly, as Williamson was gaining a new fame and fortune, he was found dead in his room on May 25, 1965 of an apparent heart attack.

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Posted in Blues, Musician, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »