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Thursday, 20 July 2017

PC Down

During a Windows 10 upgrade my PC crashed. Am unable to access desktop or anything. So not posting until it gets fixed.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mari Trini born 12 July 1947

Mari Trini (12 July 1947 – 6 April 2009), born Maria Trinidad Perez Miravete, was a Spanish pop singer and actress from Caravaca de la Cruz. Her intensity, with a strong undercurrent of melancholy, expressed in an intimate, slightly rasping voice, brought comparisons with Edith Piaf. 

She was born María Trinidad Pérez de Miravete in Murcia, in south-east Spain. Her life and character were marked by chronic kidney disease that confined her to bed from the ages of 7 to 14. Corticoid treatment deformed the left side of her face for life. In a crisis when she was 11, she was administered the last rites. During these years, she read widely, studied music, learnt to play the guitar and developed ambitions to be a singer. Then, when she was 14, the doctor pronounced her condition incurable. "Stubborn, violent, possessive and radically independent," in her own words, she got out of bed, "put on my first pair of heels" and fled her nightmare childhood.  

In Madrid, she sang with her guitar at the American film director Nicholas Ray's nightclub Nicha's in Avenida de América. Impressed, Ray arranged for her to go to London to study dramatic art. Ray's promise of a film part came to nothing and she moved on to Paris in 1963, where she stayed for five years. Here she got to know Jacques Brel and had her first record issued (Bonne Chance).

After her father died in 1967, Mari Trini, as she now styled herself, returned to Spain, set on becoming the Spanish Juliette Greco. It was a rich period for Spanish popular music. Opposition to the Franco dictatorship, spurred on by the shockwaves of the events of May 1968 in Paris, created an audience for protest singers. Songs of personal freedom, like Trini's, took on a political edge. 

In 1968 she cut three singles, but it was in 1970 with her first album, Amores (Loves), that Trini became famous, singing her own songs. Her intonation, phrasing and Parisian-bohemian style (wearing jeans on television, as she did, was considered outrageous) brought French song to Spain in a series of pop ballads, such as the 1972 Yo no soy esa (That's not me). Franco's Spain was so repressive that this song by a woman refusing a subordinate role ("That's not me/I'm not your simple quiet young miss") was heard by a new generation as a call to freedom.

During the 1970s, Trini composed and performed several songs that are now standards, with titles such as Acércate (Come close), Un hombre marchó (One man left) or Una estrella en mi jardín (A star in my garden). Small, she dressed soberly in jeans or trouser suits. She relied on her magnificent voice and complex songs about the difficulties of love. As a lesbian, at a time when it was impossible to come out and have a career, she had to endure endless questions about her lack of boyfriends. She handled this by becoming fiercely protective of her private life. 

In the early 80s, her style became closer to pop, with fuller orchestral backings. By the 1990s, however, she was no longer filling concert halls. In 2001, she made a comeback with the CD Mari Trini con Los Panchos, in which she and the three-man Los Panchos sang their greatest hits with new arrangements.  

Trini made 25 records and was awarded a special diamond disc in 2005 by the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers for reaching sales of 10m. In March 2008, on International Women's Day, the regional government of Murcia gave her the "Struggle for Equality" prize "for portraying through her songs women's needs, problems and inequalities". 

She suffered from ill health in her last years: in 2004 she had a kidney removed. She died at a hospital in Murcia, Spain on April 6th, 2009 at the age of 61 from lung cancer.

(Compiled mainly from Guardian obit by Michael Eaude.)

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Joe Houston born 11 July 1926

Joseph Abraham "Joe" Houston (July 11*, 1926 – December 28, 2015) was an American tenor saxophonist who played jazz and rhythm and blues.

He was born in Bastrop, a suburb of Austin, Texas, and studied trumpet in school, changing to saxophone later. As a teen he began emulating a touring band by buying a red suit with white pants. One night in 1941 a saxophone player did not show for a gig with the band and Houston took his place. Between 1943 and 1946, Houston toured with King Kolax's band through Kansas City and Chicago and throughout the Mid-West. 

After World War II Houston returned to Texas, and recorded with the pianist Amos Milburn and singer Big Joe Turner. Initially playing alto sax, he switched to tenor in the wake of such "honking" saxophonists as Big Jay McNeely and Paul Williams. Turner got Houston his first recording contract on Freedom Records in 1949. Houston moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and played with Betty Roche and Wynonie Harris. 

Eventually, Houston formed his own band The Rockets, and moved to Los Angeles in 1952 and commenced recording for labels big and small: Modern, RPM, Lucky, Imperial, Dootone, Recorded in Hollywood, Cash, and Money (as well as the considerably better-financed Mercury, where he scored his only national R&B hit, "Worry, Worry, Worry," in 1952). Houston's formula was simple and savagely direct -- he'd honk and wail as hard as he could, from any conceivable position: on his knees, lying on his back, walking the bar, etc.
Another chart hit singles in 1952 was "Hard Time Baby"  which peaked at #10 on Billboard's R&B singles chart. His output for the Bihari Brothers' Crown label (where he was billed as "Wild Man of the Tenor Sax") is positively exhilarating: "All Nite Long," "Blow Joe Blow," and "Joe's Gone" are herculean examples of single-minded sax blasting.

Houston was based in Los Angeles throughout most of his career. He toured and recorded with his band the Defrosterz, started by the bassist Mark St. John, who acted as his bassist and manager almost 20 years, plus the keyboardist Mike Malone. They toured North
America and recorded throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The band was signed to the Shattered Records label. 

Houston's musical career ended after he suffered a stroke in 2006. Joe returned to the stage in July 2008 and performed at The Long Beach lobster Festival. He continued to entertain until 2012 when he had another stroke, from which he did not recover and remained unresponsive until his death on December 28, 2015 in Long Beach, California. 
Although Houston was respected by his peers in the music world, he never reached the popularity he deserved. Critically, some fine words were offered by the dean of American rock critics, Robert Christgau, in his review of a collection of Houston tunes, about which he wrote, “This is how I explain rock and roll saxophone.”
(Compiled from info at Wikipedia, All Music & (*a few sources give birthdate as 12 July)


Monday, 10 July 2017

Eileen Rodgers born 10 July 1930

Eileen Rodgers (July 10, 1930 – July 13, 2003) was an American singer and Broadway performer.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1930, Eileen Rodgers grew up in South Oakland and graduated from Cathedral High School. She began her career as a nightclub performer.  

The liveliness of the Pittsburgh night club scene in the early 1950s is suggested in Dave Goodrich's history of Pittsburgh entertainment, where he records Ms. Rodgers' appearances at the Carnival, Johnny Brown's, V.T.W. Club, Tommy Carlyn's, Pat McBride's and the Vogue Terrace in the period 1950 to 1954, alone. In 1953, she was part of a four-hour Cerebral Palsy telethon from the Nixon Theatre along with Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett.
Soon, Ms. Rodgers took to the road as lead vocalist with the Charley Spivak Orchestra, which led to her being signed by Columbia records, for whom she recorded some 30 singles and one album in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

She had a half-dozen songs make the charts, her most successful single being "Miracle of Love" in 1956, which reached number 18 and 24 respectively, on the Billboard and Cash Box pop charts. 

In New York, she appeared in a musical revue, "Chic," which led to Broadway, where her debut was as Mitzi in "Fiorello!" singing the show-stopper, "Gentleman Jimmy." Her second show was another Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick musical directed by the famed George Abbott, "Tenderloin," about which the fastidious critic, Harold Clurman, said her good looks was one of only two things he could remember. 

Her other Broadway shows were the one-performance flop, "Kelly," directed by Herbert Ross, and a stint as standby to Ethel Merman in the 1966 revival of "Annie Get Your Gun." She also starred as Reno Sweeney opposite Hal Linden in a big 1962 off-Broadway revival of "Anything Goes" which later played Las Vegas, where Linden was replaced by Peter Marshall. Its cast album is still in demand. The show won the New York Outer Circle Critics' Award as Best Revival of 1962.
In 1958, Ms. Rodgers became Mrs. Thompson. Even though he was another native Pittsburgher, just a year her junior, who grew up in Oakland and went to Cathedral's brother school, Central Catholic, they first met in New York on a 1957 blind date at Toots Shor's. 

At that point, she had just recorded her Columbia album, "Blue Swing" with Ray Coniff. She did most of the musical TV shows of the day -- "Ed Sullivan," "Dick Clark," "Tonight, "Jimmy Dean" -- as well as a black tie Carnegie Hall tribute to Cole Porter with Vic Damone and the New York Philharmonic. 

Her final professional appearance was with comedian Bob Newhart in 1967 at Chicago's Palmer House. Her husband flew out for the opening with Ethel Merman, a friend since "Annie Get Your Gun." There was a huge flurry of offers to take the act to other cities, but they had just learned Mrs. Thompson was pregnant. Rodgers gave up her career at its height in favour of marriage and motherhood. She never performed again. When her husband retired, the Thompsons moved from Long Island to their former summer home in North Carolina.
Eileen Rodgers Thompson died of lung cancer on July 13, 2003 in Charlotte, North Carolina, three days after her 73rd birthday.  

(Info mainly edited from an article by Christopher Rawson, Post-Gazette Drama Editor)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Joe Liggins born 9 July 1916

Joseph Christopher "Joe" Liggins, Jr. (born Theodro Elliott; July 9, 1916 – July 26, 1987) was an American R&B, jazz and blues pianist and vocalist who led Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers in the 1940s and 1950s. His band appeared often on the Billboard magazine charts. The band's biggest hit was "The Honeydripper", released in 1945. Joe Liggins was the older brother of R&B performer Jimmy Liggins. 

The son of Harriett and Elijah Elliott, he was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and took his stepfather's surname, Liggins, as a child. He apparently dropped the name Theodro and adopted the names Joseph Christopher during the 1930s. The family moved to San Diego in 1932. He studied music and arranging at the local State College. He began playing piano, trumpet and drums with various local bands in 1933. 

By 1939 he was ready to move up to Los Angeles and try his luck. One of his earliest bands there included future saxophone legend Illinois Jacquet. While working with Sammy Franklin's California Rhythm Rascals, Liggins wrote a tune called "The Honeydripper", which would become his signature song. Reluctance on Franklin's part to record "Honeydripper" caused Joe to form his own band, the Honeydrippers, in 1944.  

Joe Liggins' Honeydrippers was formed in the basement of the Los Angeles home of the saxophonist Little Willie Jackson, who co-founded the group and who, at the time of his death in 2001, was the last original surviving member of the Honeydrippers.

The band were packing them in with "The Honeydripper" at the Samba Club in early 1945, when Leon Rene (owner of Exclusive Records) came to check out what all the fuss was about. He arrived early in the evening, but Liggins told him that if he wanted to hear "The Honeydripper", he would have to wait until 11:45, like every night. It was a long song, 15 minutes, and saved for the climax of the show, which had to end at midnight, as there was still a wartime curfew. Leon did wait and was treated to an evening's worth of Joe Liggins songs, which made him even more determined to record the band. "The Honeydripper" was cut down to six minutes, and divided over two sides of Joe's first release on Exclusive. 

It was a giant hit, reportedly selling 2 million copies, and topping the R&B charts for 18 weeks (still a record, jointly with Louis Jordan's "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" from 1946). It also crossed over to the pop charts (# 13), as did the # 2 hit from 1946, "Got A Right To Cry" (# 12 pop). Other Liggins hits on Exclusive included "Left A Good Deal In Mobile" (# 2), "Tanya" (# 3), "Blow Mr. Jackson" (# 3), "Dripper's Blues" (# 9) and "Roll 'Em" (# 9), all between 1945 and 1948. 

The success of "Honeydripper" put Joe on the road and for the next five years he was constantly touring. In 1949, Exclusive Records went bankrupt, due to bootlegging, the inability to adjust to the introduction of the 45 RPM record and other calamities. Art Rupe, the president of Specialty Records, wanted to buy Exclusive's masters of Joe's hits for reissue on Specialty. When he couldn't come to terms with the creditor's committtee, Rupe signed Liggins to Specialty (Joe's younger brother Jimmy was already contracted to the label) and had him rerecord several of his Exclusive tracks. Some say the Specialty remakes of "The Honeydripper" and "I've Got A Right To Cry" are superior to the original versions and the condensed 1950 arrangement of "Honeydripper" is now the better known version.  

In 1950, Joe had two big hits, "Rag Mop" (# 4 R&B) and "Pink Champagne" (# 1 for 13 weeks, the biggest R&B record of 1950). Over the next three years, Joe continued to come up with good songs, good records and solid if unspectacular sellers. But he was unable to adapt to changing times. By 1954 his records sounded tame compared to the popular R&B hits of the day and Rupe dropped him.

Subsequent recordings for Mercury, Aladdin, Vita and Dot went nowhere amidst the rock 'n' roll turmoil. Liggins returned to Mercury in 1962, where he cut an album of his old hits along with some new songs aimed at the twist market, alas to no avail. That was his last major label affiliation. Some scattered sides on obscure labels fill out the Joe Liggins discography. He kept his own Honeydrippers working right up until his death, at age 71, on July 31, 1987. The honey never stopped dripping.
(Info edited mainly from

Here's Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers performing The Honeydripper Los Angeles 1983.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Ray Pillow born 4 July 1937

Ray Pillow (born July 4, 1937) is an American country music singer, best known as a prominent publisher renowned for his rare gift of matching performers with high-quality songs right for their style.  

Pillow was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, and first learned to play the guitar while bedridden as a teen. He graduated from high school in 1954 and then joined the Navy. Following his discharge, Pillow earned a bachelor's degree in business and made his professional and personal singing debut playing with his uncle's band, the Stardusters. Later, he became their leader and remained with the band for several years. 

In 1961, Pillow won second place at the regional National Pet Milk talent contest in Nashville. Though he needed to go back to Lynchburg, he accepted an invitation to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. He soon returned to Nashville and looked up Joe Taylor, the head of promotion with the Martha White Company, who had promised to help Pillow after hearing him perform. Taylor was true to his word and Pillow signed a personal management contract with the company. 

In 1963 he released his first two singles, but didn't really have chart success until 1965, with the Top 50 "Take Your Hands Off My Heart" and his first Top 20 hit, "Thank You Ma'am." In 1966, he had two Top 40 hits and a Top Ten duet with Jean Shepherd, "I'll Take the Dog."

He later joined the Opry, and remained there for over two decades. He continued with a steady stream of hits through 1970, but fell off the charts until 1972 with the minor hits "Since Then" and "She's Doing It to Me Again."Pillow's involvement in the administrative end of the business began the mid-'60s, when he paired up with Taylor in Joe Taylor Artist Management, Shoji Music Publications and Ming Music, Inc. 

In the early '80s, Pillow teamed with Larry McFaden and they began Sycamore. In the late '80s, he began working with the A&R team at Capitol Records and later became an independent record consultant. 

Today, Pillow continues to perform as a member of the Grand Ole Opry and on popular classic country television programs such as Country's Family Reunion, which airs regularly in the United States on RFD-TV network. 

Through his record label, Pillow has released two albums, including Ray Pillow Live and his recent studio effort containing new material, Country Class. Both CDs can be purchased online through Pillow's official website and at his live shows.  (Info edited from All Music & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Gene McFadden born 2 July 1948

Gene McFadden (July 2, 1948 **– January 27, 2006) was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known as one of the key members of the Philadelphia International record label, and was one-half of the successful team of McFadden & Whitehead with John Whitehead. They remain best known for the disco–era smash "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." 

Born in 1946, McFadden grew up in the same impoverished Philadelphia neighbourhood as Whitehead. While in high school, they formed the Epsilons with Whitehead's cousin Ronald Lowry (later a member of Frankie Beverley's Maze) and Allen Beatty, and in 1966, Otis Redding saw the group perform and hired them as his backing vocalists. The Epsilons also with James Brown, Gloria Gaynor, the Intruders, the Jacksons, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Melba Moore, People's Choice, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls and Stevie Wonder and also Arthur Conley on his classic "Sweet Soul Music," but following Redding's tragic death the group's fortunes waned, and after the 1968 Stax single "The Echo" they dissolved.  

McFadden and Whitehead returned to Philadelphia, forming Talk of the Town with James Knight and Lloyd Parks. Two singles, "Little Bit of Your Lovin'" and "Don't Be So Mean," appeared on North Bay in 1971; neither was a hit, and Whitehead went to work in the mailroom of the fledgling Philadelphia International Records. He and McFadden also began writing songs, eventually convincing Philadelphia International bosses Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to listen to their composition "Back Stabbers." Recorded by the O'Jays in 1972, "Back Stabbers" would prove the label's first gold record and a landmark in the evolution of Philly soul.  

As writers and producers, McFadden and Whitehead would go on to score 22 gold records, two platinum albums, and two Grammy nominations over the next six years. In addition to the O'Jays' follow-up smash "For the Love of Money," their hits included Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody" and "Where Are All My Friends," along with Archie Bell & the Drells' "Don't Let Love Get You Down." The duo also revived their Talk of the Town project, releasing the singles "Super Groover (All Night Mover)," "Bumpin' Boogie," and "I Apologize" on the Philadelphia International spinoffs Gamble and TSOP.   

In 1978 they returned to the studio as simply McFadden & Whitehead, recording "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" in one take. Whitehead even made up most of the lyrics on the spot. The single was a global blockbuster, topping the Billboard R&B charts and later becoming a Philadelphia sports anthem, but the duo proved unable to generate a successful follow-up, with "I Heard It in a Love Song" and "I've Been Pushed Aside" barely scraping the charts. 

According to the American Top 40 radio program for the week ended August 4, 1979, Casey Kasem reported that McFadden and Whitehead were in Chicago on May 25, 1979 promoting their music and doing various interviews. Because they agreed to do one more music interview at the last minute, they decided to reschedule their flight to Los Angeles to the next day, May 26. They were originally scheduled to fly on American Airlines Flight 191 on May 25, which crashed shortly after takeoff from O'Hare International Airport killing all 258 passengers plus the crew.

After 1982's Movin' On, McFadden & Whitehead went their separate ways. Whitehead subsequently served a brief prison sentence for tax evasion and issued a solo album, "I Need Money Bad", in 1988. He and McFadden reunited for corporate functions and nostalgia shows in the 1990s. 

On May 11, 2004, Whitehead was murdered on the street outside of his Philadelphia home studio, while standing aside as a young man made repairs on his SUV. There, he was shot once by one of several unknown gunmen, who then fled. The case remains unsolved. Whitehead was 55 years old. This reportedly took an extreme toll on McFadden, who was already battling the liver and lung cancer that claimed his life on January 27, 2006. 

“McFadden & Whitehead were instrumental in creating the sound of Philadelphia,” Gamble & Huff said in a statement following McFadden’s death. “Their talent was indispensable, and their music capabilities were uniquely flexible.” 

(Info mainly from Jason Ankeny @ All Music)  (***some sources give birth date as 23 Jan, 1949 or 2 July. 1949. I have opted for the one mostly used)
Now here's an amazing find…… Great stagecraft of The Epsilons singing The Echo from 1969/69