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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Glen Campbell born 22 April 1936

Glen Travis Campbell (April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017) was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor.

Born Glen Travis Campbell, his father was a sharecropper and Glen was his seventh son, making him the seventh son of a seventh son. He learned to play music on a five-dollar guitar he received from his father, taking lessons from an uncle. His family moved to
Houston when he was an adolescent and from there, he moved to Albuquerque to join his uncle's band, Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys, later forming his own group, the Western Wranglers. 

In 1960, Campbell moved to Los Angeles to become a session musician. That October, he joined the Champs. By January 1961, Campbell had found a daytime job at publishing company American Music, writing songs and recording demos. Because of these demos Campbell soon was in demand as a session musician and became part of a group of studio musicians later known as the Wrecking Crew. Campbell played on recordings by the Beach Boys, Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, the Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Frank Sinatra, Ronnie Dove, Phil Spector and Elvis Presley.
In May 1961, he left the Champs and was subsequently signed by Crest Records, a subsidiary of American Music. His first solo release, "Turn Around, Look at Me", a moderate success, peaked at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. Campbell also formed the Gee Cees with former bandmembers from the Champs, performing at the Crossbow Inn in Van Nuys. The Gee Cees, too, released a single on Crest, the instrumental "Buzz Saw", which did not chart.  

In 1962, Campbell signed with Capitol Records. After minor initial success with "Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry", his first single for the label, and "Kentucky Means Paradise", released by the Green River Boys featuring Glen Campbell, a string of unsuccessful singles and albums followed. By 1963 his playing and singing were heard on 586 recorded songs. He never learned to read music, but besides guitar, he could play the banjo, mandolin and bass. 

From 1964 on, Campbell began to appear on television as a regular on Star Route, a syndicated series hosted by Rod Cameron, ABC's Shindig!, and Hollywood Jamboree. From December 1964 to early March 1965, Campbell was a touring member of the Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson, playing bass guitar and singing falsetto harmonies. 

  He first solo hit was 1967's 'Gentle on My Mind' which was a minor success upon its first release. The song was followed by the bigger hit "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" later in 1967, and "I Wanna Live" and "Wichita Lineman" in 1968, remaining on Billboard's Top 100 charts for 15 weeks. He won four Grammy Awards for "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix". Later that year, he was a television star as well, starring in 'The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour' on CBS, which ran for three years.  

In 1969, he hit the big screen as a co-star in the John Wayne film 'True Grit'. His songs hit the charts regularly, though seldom becoming big hits. He finally had a resurgence in the mid-'70s with 'Rhinestone Cowboy', one of the biggest hits of 1975, and 'Southern Nights', a remake of an Allen Toussaint song. Campbell began having problems with alcoholism and cocaine addiction in the 1970s. Campbell credited his fourth wife Kim with helping him turn his life around. Campbell eventually stopped drinking alcohol and taking drugs in 1987 but relapsed in 2003. 

In all, Campbell recorded nearly 60 albums and appeared in several films. In 1994, he wrote his memoir; 'Rhinestone Cowboy' and he became a regular performer in Branson, Missouri, playing his hits. 

In 2011, he announced he had Alzheimer's Disease and despite the diagnosis, he released an album, 'Ghost on the Canvas' to positive reviews, and followed it with a tour. He earned several awards, including a lifetime honour from the Grammys. Later, he was featured in the documentary, 'Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me'. A song from the movie, 'I'm Not Gonna Miss You', was nominated for an Oscar.

He became a patient at an Alzheimer's long-term care and treatment facility in 2014. Glen died in Nashville, Tennessee on August 8, 2017 at the age of 81 and was buried in the Campbell family cemetery at Billstown, Arkansas.

In April 2017, Campbell's final album, Adiós, was announced, featuring twelve songs from his final 2012–13 sessions. The album was released on June 9, 2017. Adios was named by the UK's Official Charts Company as the best-selling country/Americana album of 2017 in Britain. 

(Compiled and edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia)

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Betty Rhodes born 21 April 1921

Betty Jane Rhodes (April 21, 1921 – December 27, 2011) was an American actress and singer, most active in film during the late 1930s and the World War II era.  

This swinging singer from WWII was born on April 14, 1921 in Rockford, Illionois to non-professionals. A gorgeous, fresh-faced, blue-eyed blonde doll blessed with a natural vocal talent, Betty Jane Rhodes was initially discovered on radio and was recording by age 8. Her promising contralto helped her to earn a contract at age 15 with Paramount and immediately made her debut in _Forgotten Faces (1936)_ initially billing herself as Jane Rhodes.  

She played Marsha Hunt's kid sister in her second film The Arizona Raiders (1936) in which she sang "My Melancholy Baby". Still a teenager, she played the femme lead in the Universal serial Jungle Jim (1937) opposite Grant Withers's rugged hero. She went on to warble again in such lively film fare as The Life of the Party (1937), Having Wonderful Time (1938), and Oh, Johnny, How You Can Love! (1940)  where she sang the popular title song, a hit in 1917 but an even greater success when revived in the '30s. On radio she had her own musical show in 1939, and the following year she and bandleader David Rose headed the cast of the radio programme California Melodies. 

On screen, she had a song as Tim Holt's sweetheart in Along the Rio Grande (1941), and was one of the singers who performed the title tune of the Rodgers and Hart musical that proved a major disappointment, They Met in Argentina (1941). The Fleet's In
(1941), however, was one of Paramount's biggest hits, with a superior score by Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer. Rhodes got the film off to a fine start with her sparkling rendition of the title song ("Hey there mister, you'd better hide your sister 'cause the fleet's in"), sung to an audience of appreciative, wolf-whistling sailors. 

Having been borrowed frequently by other studios, Paramount paid more attention to her by setting her up with the minor wartime musical Sweater Girl (1942), in which introduced the classic "I Don't Want to Walk Without You". An enormous hit, it was recorded by several stars including Rhodes, but the best-selling version was by Harry James and his orchestra, with Helen Forrest singing the vocal. 

After taking part in the all-star musical Star Spangled Rhythm, featuring Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "On The Swing Shift", Rhodes was given co-star billing with Ann Miller and Johnnie Johnston in Priorities on Parade (1942), in which she and Johnstone sang Styne and Loesser's "You're in Love with Someone Else (But I'm in Love with You)", then she received top billing in Salute for Three (1943) as a radio singer romantically linked with a war hero (MacDonald Carey) for publicity. 


You Can't Ration Love (1944) co-starred her with Johnston in a weak script about college girls rationing dates because of the wartime shortage of eligible males. When her contract expired in 1944, Paramount let her go, but she continued a radio career, performing with Fred Allen, Red Skelton and others, and made recordings for Decca and RCA Victor, including two big sellers, "Rumours Are Flying" in 1946 and "Buttons and Bows" in 1948, her recording of the latter remaining in the hit parade charts for over two months. 

In 1945 she married Willet H Brown, a broadcasting pioneer who co-founded the Mutual Broadcasting System. Rhodes later had her own weekly show on NBC during the 1950s, which aired on Sunday nights. Her appearances, as well as other early television roles, earned her the nickname, "The First Lady of Television." She continued to appear in cabaret until the 1960s. Retired for some time, her husband died in 1993 and left her quite wealthy. 

She and Brown had one child, and Rhodes became stepmother to his three children from a former marriage. Betty Jane Rhodes died on December 27, 2011, at the age of 90. 

(Compiled and edited mainly from Wikipedia & IMdB) 

Friday, 20 April 2018

Tito Puente born 20 April 1923

Ernesto Antonio "Tito" Puente (April 20, 1923 – May 31, 2000) was an American musician, songwriter and record producer. Puente is often credited as "The Musical Pope", "El Rey de los imbales" (The King of the Timbales) and "The King of Latin Music". But he was also skilled at the bateria, congas, claves, piano, saxophone, and clarinet, which allowed him to create a school for every musical genre he entered. 

Tito Puente was born on April 20, 1923, at Harlem Hospital Centre
in the New York borough of Manhattan. His family moved frequently, but he spent the majority of his childhood in the Spanish Harlem area of the city. Puente's father was the foreman at a razorblade factory. 
As a child, he was described as hyperactive, and after neighbours complained of hearing seven-year-old Puente beating on pots and window frames, his mother sent him to 25-cent piano lessons. By the age of 10, he switched to percussion, drawing influence from jazz drummer Gene Krupa. He later created a song-and-dance duo with his sister Anna in the 1930s and intended to become a dancer, but an ankle tendon injury prevented him pursuing dance as a career. When the drummer in Machito's band was drafted to the army, Puente subsequently took his place.  

Puente served in the Navy for three years during World War II after being drafted in 1942. He was discharged with a Presidential Unit Citation for serving in nine battles on the escort carrier USS Santee (CVE-29). The GI Bill allowed him to study music at Juilliard School of Music, where he completed a formal education in conducting, orchestration and theory. In 1969, he received the key to the City of New York from former Mayor John Lindsay. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Congressional Record, and in 1993 he received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian. 

During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds like mambo, son, and cha-cha-chá, to mainstream audiences. Puente was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban. Dance Mania, possibly Puente's most well known album, was released in 1958. 
Among his most famous compositions are mambo "Oye como va" (1963), popularized by Latin rock musician Carlos Santana and later interpreted, among others, by Julio Iglesias, Irakere or Celia Cruz. 
 Later, he moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz. In 1979, Puente won the first of five Grammy Awards for the albums A Tribute to Benny Moré, On Broadway, Mambo Diablo, and Goza Mi Timbal. In 1982, he started reeling off a string of several Latin jazz albums with octets or big bands for Concord Picante that gave him greater exposure and respect in the jazz world than he ever had.

In 1990, Puente was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal. He was also awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland. An indefatigable visitor to the recording studios, Puente recorded his 100th album, The Mambo King, in 1991 amid much ceremony and affection (an all-star Latin music concert at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre in March 1992 commemorated the milestone), and he kept adding more titles to the tally throughout the '90s. 

In early 2000, he appeared in the music documentary Calle 54, wearing an all-white outfit with his band. After a show in Puerto Rico on May 31, 2000, he suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair a heart valve, but complications developed and he died on May 31, 2000. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. 

Tito Puente's name is often mentioned in a television production called La Epoca, a film about the Palladium era in New York, Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, mambo and salsa as dances and music and much more. The film discusses many of Puente's, as well as Arsenio Rodríguez's, contributions, and features interviews with some of the musicians Puente recorded with Alfonso "El Panameno" Joseph.

Puente's son Richard "Richie" Puente was the percussionist in the 1970s funk band Foxy. Puente's youngest son, Tito Puente Jr., has continued his father's legacy by presenting many of the same songs in his performances and recordings, while daughter Audrey Puente is a television meteorologist for WNYW and WWOR-TV in New York City. (Info edited from AllMusic and mainly Wikipedia)

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Dickie Goodman born 19 April 1934

Richard Dorian Goodman (April 19, 1934 – November 6, 1989) known as Dickie Goodman was an American music and record producer born in Brooklyn, New York.  
Although Weird Al Yankovic gets most of the credit for popularizing novelty songs and parodies, the godfather of the genre is unquestionably Dickie Goodman.Born on April 19, 1934 in Hewlett, New York, Richard Dorian “Dickie” Goodman is still considered one of the earliest proponents of sampling in music, which is called the “break-in” record format. It consists of fragments of popular tunes meshed together and infused with dialog in the form of a radio show or an interview. Although Goodman attended New York University, he dropped out of college to pursue singing and songwriting. He later met Bill Buchanan, a struggling music publisher in New York City. 


 Co-written by Bill Buchanan, Goodman issued his debut record in the summer of 1956, “The Flying Saucer Parts 1 & 2.” The song was a breakthrough hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard pop chart in the same year. Despite the success of the record, Goodman was caught in a controversy when different labels sued him for copyright infringement for reworking Orson Welles’ radio show, War of the Worlds. But eventually, the judge favoured Goodman affirming that the record was entirely a new work and that he did not copy another else’s work. 

With Mickey Shorr in 1959, Goodman recorded two singles under the name "Spencer and Spencer," both of which relied much less on sampling and more on sketch comedy. "Russian Bandstand" was a re-imagining of the then-popular TV series American Bandstand set in a totalitarian Soviet Union. "Stagger Lawrence" imposed Lloyd Price's recording of "Stagger Lee" onto a spoof of The Lawrence Welk Show, borrowing heavily from an earlier Welk parody done by Stan Freberg. Neither recording with Shorr would be as popular as the recordings Goodman made with Buchanan. 

Starting in 1961, Goodman released his pieces as a solo artist. He scored three Billboard Hot 100 hits based on the hit TV series The Untouchables: "The Touchables" (#60), "The Touchables In Brooklyn" (#42), and "Santa and the Touchables" (#99). 

In 1962 Goodman spoofed Ben Casey with "Ben Crazy" (#44). In 1966 his spoof of Batman resulted in "Batman & His Grandmother" (#70). During the late 1960s, Goodman recorded a mostly musical album featuring his wife, aptly entitled Dickie Goodman and His Wife Susan. Mr. Goodman sang one track on the record ("Never Play Poker with a Man Named Doc (or Eat at a Place Called Mom's)", paraphrasing Nelson Algren's novel A Walk on the Wild Side), and produced two break-in style pieces, with Susan singing the rest of the songs.  

In 1975, he scored another big hit with the song “Mr. Jaws” which peaked at #4 on the Billboard pop charts. By making a parody of the movie Jaws, it became a million-selling record, and was given with a gold disc. 

Goodman released another single “Kong,” which parodied the 1976 King Kong film remake.  It also happened to be his final chart record, reaching #48 on the US pop chart. After  "Kong," Goodman appeared to fall off the face of the earth, as he never managed to score another charting single. Throughout his career, all in all he had 17 hits which five of them made to the Top 40. 

On November 6, 1989 at a relative’s home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Goodman died of a self-inflicted gunshot. He was 55 years old.  

Goodman's son, Jon Goodman, runs his father's estate, as his songs continue to be included on comedy compilations (especially via the Rhino label), while a biography, The King of Novelty, was issued as well. Goodman's influence continues to be felt, especially in the work of Yankovic and even radio personality Howard Stern, who has created quite a few parodies over the years patterned directly after Goodman's style

 (Compiled and edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia and

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Chuck Higgins born 17 April 1924

Charles Williams Higgins (April 17, 1924 – September 14, 1999) was an American saxophonist. Higgins, who was noted for mixing elements of Latin Jazz with Blues, recorded in Los Angeles during the mid-fifties, notably for the Specialty, Combo and Doo-Tone labels. 

Saxophonist / bandleader Chuck Higgins was born in Gary, Indiana.  His first choice of instrument was the trumpet, which he took up at the age of ten and at which he became considerably more proficient than he ever did at playing the tenor saxophone. 

In 1940, the Higgins family moved to Los Angeles, where Chuck attended the L.A. Music Conservatory. He hooked up with a quartet of musicians that included Frank Dunn on piano and sax player Johnny Parker. When Parker quit this band, Higgins took on the sax blasting duties himself and became the leader of the band, soon to be called the Mellotones. Chuck's composition "Pachuko Hop" became his first record, on Jake Porter's fledgling Combo label in 1952. It is the definitive Higgins instrumental and his biggest seller, but due to Combo's poor distribution, sales were limited to the West Coast and insufficient to dent the national charts.

Many of Higgins' s recordings feature a vocal by varying members of his combo. This was also the case with the flip of "Pachuko Hop", which is a classic of early rock 'n' roll in itself. "Motorhead Baby" features the vocals of 17-year old John Jacob Watson Jr, who was still pounding the piano before taking up the instrument that would make Johnny "Guitar" Watson a household name. After switching from piano to guitar in 1953, Watson left the Mellotones, giving Frank Dunn the chance to rejoin the band. Of the eight singles that were released on Combo in 1952-53, the most interesting were those featuring a vocal : "Motor Head Baby" and "Just Won't Treat Me Right" by John Watson, "Big Fat Mama" and "Real Gone Hound Dog" by Daddy Cleanhead (Chuck's older brother Fred Higgins).  

In 1953, the combo switched to Aladdin, where they had three singles released (3215, 3224, 3283), and then, in 1954, to Art Rupe's Specialty label. Fourteen titles were recorded during three sessions (most of them with vocals by Daddy Cleanhead), eight of which were originally issued, on four singles (532, 533, 539, 541). Art Rupe was a perfectionist and replaced some of Higgins' band
members in the studio by up-and-coming session pros such as H.B. Barnum and Jimmy Nolen. 

In 1955-56, the Higgins combo recorded for Dootsie Williams's Dootone label. The second Dootone single, "Wetback Hop", became the subject of controversy because of the use of the derogatory term for Mexicans in the title. It was an attempt to associate the listener with the earlier success of "Pachuko Hop", which refers to Mexican zoot suiters of the 1940s. After a few sessions for various small labels in 1956, Higgins returned to Combo in 1957 with a mixed-race band that included future Canned Heat member Henry Vestine. "Long Long Time" (Combo 144, 1957) is a fine bluesy recording, featuring Frank Dunn on vocals. There were no Higgins releases until 1962, the year in which he reunited with Jake Porter for the opportunist "Pachuko Hop Twist" (Combo 170). 

Chuck temporarily retired from performing and became a music teacher at various L.A. high schools. For the last 20 years of his life he was a professor of music at UCLA, a job which he combined with a 1970s comeback as a honking saxblaster. In that decade, he had two LP releases (and one single, "Too Smart") on Ronnie Weiser's Rollin' Rock label. The second of these (1979) was called: "Chuck Higgins Is A PHD", PHD here standing for "Pretty Heavy Dude". 

 In August 1983, Higgins was part of Ace's "1950s R&B Jamboree", in the company of LA contemporaries Young Jessie, Willie Egan and fellow honker Big Jay McNeely. This was a great success and Higgins was finally discovered by European R&B fans, as his Combo recordings were released on an Ace LP. A collection of his early rare singles, Yak A Dak, was released on the Swedish Saxophonograph label in 1990. 

He died of lung cancer in 1999, leaving behind an estimable body of work, even though he never scored a national hit.  (Info taken mainly from BlackCat Rockabilly Europe)

Monday, 16 April 2018

Spike Milligan born 16 April 1918

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan KBE (16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002) was a British-Irish comedian, writer, poet, playwright and actor. 

One of two comic geniuses nicknamed "Spike" whose work was wildly successful in several mediums -- the other, of course, was Spike Jones -- Spike Milligan was also not the only brilliant comedian to suffer from mental instability. Others included the
Americans W.C. Fields and Jonathan Winters, but in all three cases these problems caused only temporary interruptions in the flow of madcap hilarity. 

To many listeners, Milligan is best known as part of the triumvirate that headed up the Goons, starring on The Goon Show over the British Broadcasting Corporation for nearly a decade beginning in 1952. He was also a wonderful writer, responsible for a string of books that may seem at first superficial but are quite deep, influencing such later British creative spirits such as Billy Childish and Peter Blegvad. In terms of material to slap on the record or CD player, all of the Milligan writings were recorded by the artist himself as audio books, while the complete history of the Goons on radio has been released more than once in a confusing series of reissues.  

Milligan was born in India to a father who was an Irish captain in the British army. Milligan lived in India until he was 15, an experience that later came in quite handy when he and Goons co-star Peter Sellers began the tradition of duelling Bengali accents. That Milligan more than held his own in the company of Sellers is an obvious tribute to the former man's comic gifts. The third main Goon was Sir Harry Secombe, a great musical and comic talent who is sometimes mistakenly called the group's straight man; but make no mistake about it, there was nothing straight at all about The Goon Show.

When his family moved back to England, Milligan's proclivity for entertaining came to the surface, beginning with an interest in jazz that he never lost, eventually even contributing liner notes to a Stan Getz album. Milligan spent much of his youth playing trumpet in various jazz bands. He joined the British Army at the outbreak of the Second World War, serving in the Royal Artillery through the North African and Italian campaigns, where he wound up hospitalized for shell shock.

Following the war, he joined the Goons at a time when the British nation was collectively wondering whether it would ever be able to laugh again. The show became a huge success, but created enormous pressures for Milligan, who was writing the lion's, or the loon's, share of the scripts as well as doing the enormous weekly work of editing in sound effects.

In 1953, these deadlines were blamed for a mental breakdown that resulted in his hospitalization. He was diagnosed with manic depression and became a patron of the Manic Depressive Fellowship. Looking back over his career in television, films, novels, memoirs, and poetry, it can hardly be said that the disease caused him much of a handicap. 

He was the favourite comic of Prince Charles despite the fact that upon accepting the British Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement he referred to the prince as a "grovelling little bastard" on live television. Milligan is often referred to as the godfather of alternative comedy, his activities with and without the Goons paving the way for just about any kind of anarchic comedy, from Monty Python's Flying Circus to South Park.  

Following the end of The Goon Show, he went on to write and star in the television sketch series entitled Q. Several characters from The Goon Show also appeared in a film he made with Sellers, The Muckinese Battlehorn. In his later years, a more serious side emerged as Milligan became a vocal supporter of environmental issues and vegetarianism. 

He seemed to mellow in later years, but there was always a hint of the dangerous spark that had brought him to the brink of despair so many times and lit beacons of laughter to cleanse us all. In 2000, to a clutch of awards was added an honorary knighthood. It was honorary because - and earlier the cause of considerable furore - his father's Irish background meant that he was denied automatic British citizenship and thus the official title.

Milligan died from kidney failure, at the age of 83, on 27 February 2002, at his home in Rye, Sussex.

 (Mainly compiled from an AllMusic bio by Eugene Chadbourne)