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Posts Tagged ‘Willie Nelson’

RIP, Tommy Allsup (January 11, 2017) Rockabilly & Western Swing Great

Posted by themusicsover on January 11, 2017

Tommy Allsup
November 24, 1931 – January 11, 2017

Photo by Eric Shaiman

Tommy Allsup was an influential rockabilly and western swing guitarist, but he was also one of the luckiest people in all of popular music.  While on tour with  Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson in February of 1959 – he was in Holly’s band – Allsup was on the “losing” end of the infamous coin toss that gave his seat up to Valens who was killed with the others when the plane crashed. After Holly’s death, Allsup went to work for Liberty Records where he produced records by Willie Nelson and Tex Williams, among others. Although he was most famous for his playing on Holly’s records, Allsup also recorded with the likes of Bob Wills,  The Ventures, Kenny Rogers, The Everly Brothers, and Roy Orbison.  Tommy Allsup was 85 when he died on January 11, 2017.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus for the assist.

 

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RIP, Leon Russell (November 13, 2016) Legendary Musician, Songwriter & Producer

Posted by themusicsover on November 13, 2016

Leon Russell (Born Claude Russell Bridges)
April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016

Photo by Carl Lender

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

RIP, Leonard Cohen (November 7, 2016) Canadian Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on November 7, 2016

Leonard Cohen
September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016

Photo by Takahiro Kyono

Photo by Takahiro Kyono

Leonard Cohen was a revered Canadian poet, author, and most famously, singer-songwriter.  Over a career that spanned almost 50 years, Cohen provided the dimly-lit smoky-bar soundtrack for people who needed hope, lost faith, felt despair, or longed for love. Initially planning a career as an author and poet, Cohen wanted to reach more people, so he switched gears and found himself singing and performing in New York City at the relatively late age of 33.  He quickly became an unlikely pop star – rugged baritone voice, simple chord structures, and a private, guarded life within a profession that celebrated extroversion. His career might have seemed over when upon the release of his most famous song, 1984’s “Hallelujah,” his label head reportedely told him, “Look, Leonard; we know you’re great, but we don’t know if you’re any good,” before dropping him.  But his songs eventually caught on, and younger generations of singer-songwriters borrowed them to include in their own canons.  “Hallelujah” alone was recorded by over 200 artists, including Bob Dylan, Justin Timberlake, k.d. lang,  John Cale, and most famously, Jeff Buckley.  In all, Cohen’s tunes have been covered by more than 2000. That list includes such greats as Johnny  Cash, Nick Cave, Willie Nelson, R.E.M., and Tori Amos. In 2008, at the age of 74, and facing financial ruin, Cohen embarked on an ambitious (and triumphant!) world tour that would last about three years before his health started to get the better of him. After getting well, he hit the road again doing a seemingly endless series of impassioned shows that ran north of three hours a piece.  That lasted through December of 2013, when he fell ill again.  But Cohen refused to be bound by his health and set out to record what would be the final two albums of his lifetime, 2014’s Popular Problems, and this year’s You Want it Darker, recorded in his home with him in a wheelchair and singing many of the sessions in physical pain.  That album was released just two weeks before his death, and served as a profound self-eulogy in much the same way as David Bowie‘s Lazarus.  It has been reported, thankfully, that exluding his last album, his late-life career revival earned him around $10 million. Leonard Cohen was 82 when he passed away on November 7, 2016.

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Posted in Folk, Musician, Pop, Rock, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

RIP, Guy Clark (May 17, 2016) Revered Texas Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on May 17, 2016

Guy Clark
November 6, 1941 – May 17, 2016

guy-clarkGuy Clark was the true embodiment of a “songwriter’s songwriter.”  Born in Texas, Clark’s name is rarely excluded when conversations turn to the greats from that state. Alongside contemporaries like Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker, Clark laid down the foundation for what is now simply called Texas Music or Texas Country.  His lyrics, served over mostly sparse blues folk instrumentation, tended to come as close to being called literature as songs could get.  As a performer – and most of the time armed with little more than his acoustic guitar or maybe a second and a fiddle, Clark could leave an audience holding its collective breath in anticipation of the next word coming from his mouth – and many times, that was during his talk leading up to the song. He eventually settled in Nashville where he and his wife, Susanna Clark, often welcomed local songwriters into their home where they could work on perfecting their craft in informal workshops.  This open houses often hosted the likes of Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Steve Young.  Clark’s songs have been hits for such country luminaries as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, and Rodney Crowell.  For his own recordings, Clark garnered numerous accolades, including a Best Folk Album Grammy for his 2014 release, My Favorite Picture of You.  On May 17, 2016, Guy Clark died following a courageous battle against cancer.  He was 74.

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RIP, Merle Haggard (April 6, 2016) Country Music Icon

Posted by themusicsover on April 6, 2016

Merle Haggard
April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016

Merle-HaggardMerle Haggard was a country music legend who, along with Buck Owens, created the blueprint for what would become known as the “Bakersfield Sound,” a reaction to the slickly produced pop leaning country records that were coming out of Nashville at the time. Developed in local honky-tonks, the sound was built around the foundation of traditional country, the twang of a Telecaster, and the rough edge of vocals like Haggard’s.  Haggard also came to represent all that became “outlaw country.”  Songs like “Skid Row,” “They’re Tearing the Labor Camps Down,” “Okie From Muskogee,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” and “White Line Fever” found a huge audience with fans who could personally identify with the lyrics.  Over the course of a career that spanned five decades, Haggard scored nearly 40 #1 hit singles, a combined total of 25 ACM and CMA awards, three Grammys, and numerous other accolades.  His most recent album, 2015’s Django & Jimmie, with Willie Nelson, hit #1 on the Country charts and #7 on the Top 200. Not bad for an album that was recorded in just three days.  Merle Haggard passed away on April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday.  Cause of death was not immediately released although he had been battling pneumonia.

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