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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Abbe Lane born 14 December 1932

Abbe Lane (born Abigail Francine Lassman; December 14, 1932) is an American singer and actress.
Dubbed "the swingingest sexpot in show business" in a 1963 magazine profile, va-va-voom pop singer Abbe Lane remains best remembered for her marriage to bandleader Xavier Cugat, whose influence extended across the series of Latin jazz-inspired LPs she recorded for RCA.
Born Abigail Francine Lassman in Brooklyn, NY, on December 14, 1932, Lane made her radio debut at age four, and by 16 was appearing on Broadway in George Abbot's Barefoot Boy with Cheek. In 1949, she signed on with bandleader Vincent Lopez's television showcase, where she later met Cugat. Not only did Cugat hire Lane away from Lopez, but he made her his wife in 1952 -- with him she emerged as a star, translating her palpable sexuality to become a nightclub sensation as well as a fixture on television variety shows.
Lane made her Hollywood debut in renowned director Budd Boetticher's 1953 Western Wings of the Hawk, followed a year later by Ride Clear of Diablo. In 1955 she and Cugat toured Italy, where she co-starred in the film Lo Scapolo, but her attempts to promote the project were nevertheless complicated when Italian television network RAI called her "too sexy" to appear on air. Similarly, CBS television network censors objected to her planned wardrobe for an appearance on The Jackie Gleason Show, and she was instructed to wear something less revealing. She appeared on the shows of Red Skelton, Dean Martin and Jack Benny without attracting controversy, however.
When the live Xavier Cugat Show premiered in 1957, Lane was front and centre, and a year later she co-starred opposite Tony Randall in the Broadway musical Oh, Captain! However, her existing recording contract with RCA Victor restricted her from appearing on the original cast album.
Lane was nevertheless a regular presence in record stores throughout 1958, issuing her debut effort, Be Mine Tonight, a collaboration with mambo giant Tito Puente, as well as The Lady in Red, which paired the singer with arranger Sid Ramin.
 Cugat also contributed to 1959's Where There's a Man, Lane's final RCA date. During this period she also regularly travelled back and forth to Italy, where her husband was involved in film and television production, and appeared in a series of low-budget features including Totò, Eva e il Pennello Proibito and Il Mio Amico Jekyll.
Lane signed to Mercury in 1961, releasing a self-titled LP backed by Cugat. Her final full-length, The Many Sides of Abbe Lane, followed in 1964, the same year the couple divorced.
Lane remained in the public eye throughout the 1960s, guest-starring on prime-time series as Naked City, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Brady Bunch, Hart to Hart and Vega$.
 She also appeared on syndicated television variety programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show, The Jack Paar Program, The Mike Douglas Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Joey Bishop Show, The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson from the 1950s into the 1970s, but her career flagged throughout the decade to follow, and in 1983 she made her final big-screen appearance in Twilight Zone: The Movie.
In 1992 Lane unexpectedly resurfaced with But Where Is Love?, an autobiographical novel about a Broadway ingénue who falls in love with a Latin bandleader.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6381 Hollywood Boulevard for her contribution to television.
(Info compiled and edited from All Music & Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Sonny Fisher born 13 December 1930

Therman "Sonny" Fisher (Nov 13, 1930 – Oct 8, 2005) was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist born in Chandler (Texas). Nicknamed the "Wild Man from Texas", Fisher cut a distinctive figure with his jaw-length sideburns and raven pompadour.
Born Therman Fisher on a farm in Chandler, Texas, he was nicknamed "Sonny". His date of birth is usually given as November 13, 1931. He was actually born in 1930, but his mother didn't record his birth until a year after. His father sang cowboy songs and accompanied himself on guitar; when the young Sonny heard country music on the radio, he vowed to become a musician. Subsequently, he taught himself to sing and play guitar.
Sonny shifted with his family to California and Washington state as a youth, but returned to Texas, settling in Houston, where he put together a country music band. The band played Houston nightclubs and Sonny began paying attention to the new rhythm and blues music that youth, both black and white, were beginning to celebrate. Adding the exceptionally gifted guitarist Joey Long to the band enabled Sonny to start playing a potent mix of country and blues: in a couple of year’s time this would become known internationally as rockabilly.
In 1954 Sonny went to see Elvis Presley's initial Houston performances. Duly impressed, he believed his rockabilly sound could succeed. While playing the Cosy Corner nightclub in Houston, Fisher was spotted by the club's owner, Jack Starnes, who also happened to be one of the owners of Starday Records. Starday was a country music label, but Starnes, aware of Presley's success, wanted a share of the action, so signed Fisher.
His first recording session took place in early January 1955 with "Rockin' Daddy," in early 1955. Though earning little notice outside the local market, the record remains a classic example of rockabilly at its most primal, galvanized by Fisher's impassioned vocal and Long's ferocious guitar soloing. "Sneaky Pete" followed in the spring, and while it too failed commercially another single, Hey Mama, was released, and Fisher's popularity in Texas continued to grow.
Elvis, impressed in turn by Sonny's act, borrowed Sonny's drummer to augment his band while playing at the Cosy Corner. Fisher and the Rocking Boys closed out the year with "Rockin' and a-Rollin'" and in mid-1956 resurfaced with the blistering "Pink and Black." When all four singles netted Fisher a royalty check amounting to only 126 dollars, he refused to renew his Starday deal, instead co-founding Columbus Records with Newsome.
Fisher produced sides for singer/guitarist Eddie Eddings and saxophonist Hub Sutter, but never recorded for Columbus himself, eventually selling his share of the company to Newsome. After the Rocking Boys split, he led his own R&B group for a time before returning to country, working the Houston nightclub circuit until 1965, when he retired to mount his own flooring business,up his own record label and publishing company proved impossible for Fisher, and his band soon fell apart. unaware that his Starday 45s were now considered by connoisseurs as classic primal rockabilly.
In 1979 Fisher was brought out of retirement from working at a saw mill and after a successful French tour in October 1981, he returned to Texas and turned down subsequent requests to return to Europe. Between 1981 and 1983, Fisher played shows with Eddie Fontaine, Gene Summers, Billy Hancock and Jack Scott, and was in fine voice. Indeed, he had retained his black sideburns and quiff and all the swagger of his Fifties appearances.

He made a trip to Spain in 1993, appearing in concerts and recording an album backed by Los Solitarios and veteran rockabilly Sleepy La Beef, but then vanished from public view again. Various concert promoters tried to reach him but all to no avail. In fact, Fisher had become so evasive that many people assumed he had died quite a few years earlier than his actual death date of October 8, 2005. He died of cancer in his hometown of Texas.
(info compiled mainly from & All Music)

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Guitar Slim born 10 December 1926

Eddie Lee Jones (December 10, 1926 – February 7, 1959), better known as Guitar Slim, was a New Orleans blues guitarist in the 1940s and 1950s, best known for the million-selling song "The Things That I Used to Do", produced by Johnny Vincent for Specialty Records. It is listed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.Slim had a major impact on rock and roll and experimented with distorted overtones on the electric guitar a full decade before Jimi Hendrix.
Jones was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. His mother died when he was five, and he was raised by his grandmother. In his teen years he worked in cotton fields and spent his free time at juke joints, where he started sitting in as a singer or dancer; he was good enough as a dancer that he was nicknamed "Limber Leg".
After returning from military service during World War II, he started playing in clubs around New Orleans, Louisiana. Bandleader Willie D. Warren introduced him to the guitar. He was particularly influenced by T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. About 1950 he adopted the stage name Guitar Slim and became known for his wild stage act.
He wore bright-coloured suits and dyed his hair to match them. He had an assistant who followed him around the audience with up to 350 feet of cord between his guitar and his amplifier, and occasionally rode on his assistant's shoulders or even took his guitar outside the club, bringing traffic to a stop. His sound was just as unusual—he played his guitar with distortion more than a decade before rock guitarists did, and his gospel-influenced vocals were easily identifiable.

His first recording session was in 1951. He had a minor rhythm and blues hit in 1952 with "Feelin' Sad", which Ray Charles covered. His biggest success was "The Things That I Used to Do" (1954), produced by the young Ray Charles and released by Art Rupe's Specialty Records. The song spent weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B chart and sold over a million copies, soon becoming a blues standard. It also contributed to the development of soul music. 
The guitar wizard switched over to Atlantic Records in 1956. Gradually, his waxings became tamer, though "It Hurts to Love Someone" and "If I Should Lose You" summoned up the old fire. He recorded for several labels, including Imperial, Bullet, Specialty, and Atco.
His  last session was in New York, 1958, where he produced his final and prophetically titled two-sider "When There's No Way Out" and "If I Had My Life to Live Over." A year later, Slim was dead.
Slim's lifestyle was as wild as his guitar work. Life in the fast lane took its inevitable toll over the years. His career having faded, Jones became an alcoholic. While he was on an East Coast tour of one-nighters, his breathing had become increasingly difficult. Ignoring doctors’ orders, he continued drinking his daily ration of a pint of gin and a fifth of black port wine.
Earlier that week, Slim went to his bandleader, Lloyd Lambert, claiming to be too sick to play. "My time is up," he said. Slim knew he was done for. He started a gig in Rochester, but couldn't finish the first song. In Newark the following night, he collapsed after finishing the show. The band drove in to New York City and got him a doctor in Harlem. They drove around the corner, checked into the Cecil Hotel, and Slim died from pneumonia on the doctor’s table before they could return to retrieve him and get him to the hospital. He was 32 years old.
Eddie Jones was buried with his Goldtop Les Paul in the Cajun country southwest of New Orleans, in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He's buried next to his friend and final manager, Hosea Hill.
Buddy Guy, Albert Collins and Frank Zappa were influenced by Guitar Slim. So was Jimi Hendrix, who recorded a version of "The Things That I Used to Do", with Steve Stills playing bass guitar, in 1969. Stevie Ray Vaughan also recorded a cover version of the song.

One of Jones's sons bills himself as Guitar Slim, Jr. around the New Orleans circuit. His repertoire includes many of his father's songs. Other musicians have used the nickname Guitar Slim. The North Carolina blues guitarist James Stephens had several releases under this billing. Joe Richardson, often billed as "Tender Slim", released records credited to Tender Guitar Slim and Fender Guitar Slim. Edgar Moore, also of North Carolina, used the name as a soul musician. (Compiled and edited from Bill Dahl @ All Music, Wikepedia &

Saturday, 9 December 2017

David Houston born 9 December 1935

Charles David Houston (December 9, 1935 – November 30, 1993) was an American country music singer. His peak in popularity came between the mid-1960s through the early 1970s. 

Houston was born in Bossier City in north-western Louisiana on December 9, 1935. He was a descendant of Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. His godfather was 1920s pop singer Gene Austin, no relation to Stephen F. Austin, another founder of Texas. Like Austin, Houston lived briefly as a youth in a house at the intersection of Marshall and Goodwill streets in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in north-western Louisiana.  

He became a regular on The Louisiana Hayride as a teenager. Apparently his soaring tenor voice wasn't totally appreciated; he found trouble getting work in the music business, and ended up as an insurance underwriter. But record producer Billy Sherrill brought Houston into the fold when Epic Records was still a young label (the early '60s), and Houston brought the company its first real hit with "Mountain of Love." 

In 1963, he rose to national stardom with the song, which was different from the tune made famous by composer Harold Dorman, Johnny Rivers, and Charley Pride, rose to number two on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart. Another song, "Livin' in a House Full of Love" (1965) did just as well.
In 1966, Houston recorded his breakthrough secular smash, "Almost Persuaded." This song, which is unrelated to the Philip Paul Bliss hymn of the same title, is the tale of a married man managing to resist a temptress he meets in a tavern. Houston's recording of it quickly rocketed to number one that August, eventually spending nine weeks atop Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart. He was awarded 2 Grammy Awards for Best Country & Western Recording and Best Country & Western Performance, Male in 1967 for "Almost Persuaded". 

"Almost Persuaded" began a string of top five Houston singles through 1973, including six more number ones: "With One Exception" and "You Mean the World to Me" (1967); "Have a Little Faith" and "Already It's Heaven" (1968); "Baby, Baby (I Know You're a Lady)" (1970); and 1967's "My Elusive Dreams" duet with Tammy Wynette. A member of The Grand Ole Opry since 1971, he racked up 28 hit records over a decade, including duets with Barbara Mandrell.

Houston's last Top 10 country hit came in 1974 with "Can't You Feel It", though he continued making records until 1989. 

Houston made his last appearance on the Grand Ole Opry on November 6, 1993; later in the month he suffered a ruptured brain aneurism and remained in a coma for five days until his death on November30, 1993 in Bossier City, one week before his 58th birthday. He had been residing in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner. He is interred in the Rose-Neath Funeral Home Cemetery in Bossier City. (Info compiled and edited from All Music & Wikipedia)

Friday, 8 December 2017

Jerry Butler born 8 December 1939

Jerry Butler, Jr. (born December 8, 1939) is an American soul singer and songwriter. He is also noted as being the original lead singer of the famed R&B vocal group the Impressions, as well as a 1991 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. His career spans four decades; he recorded more than 50 albums and his voice is one of the most distinguished voices in all of music. As soulful as ever, yet smooth as ice, his nickname "the Ice Man" epitomizes his demeanour -- and sound. In spite of his status as a true music icon, he remains humble. 
Butler was born in Sunflower, Mississippi. At. the age of three he moved to Cjicago and grew up in an area which is now known as the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects.

Butler acquired his initial music lessons as a young boy while a member of the church choir in Chicago. Curtis Mayfield, who was three years younger, was also a member of the same choir. The two befriended each other and began a collaboration that would have an everlasting impact on music. The twosome joined up with brothers 

Top: J. Butler, S. Gooden, A. Brooks; bottom: R. Brooks, C. Mayfield
Arthur and Richard Brooks and Sam Gooden to form the R&B group the Roosters. In fact, the Brooks brothers, Gooden, and a female had migrated to Chicago from Tennessee, and were called the Roosters & a Chick. But when Butler and Mayfield joined them, the group became simply the Roosters. 

In 1957, the quintet's name was changed to Jerry Butler & the Impressions. Butler scored his first hit with the Impressions in 1958 with the timeless ballad "For Your Precious Love." (He'd written the lyrics to the song when he was just 16.) 

That same year Butler and the Impressions cordially split, and Butler began his solo career. He released his first single, "Lost," on the Abner label. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard R&B charts.  

Jumping over to Vee-Jay in late 1960 where his career blossomed, Butler had his first hit as a solo artist with "He Will Break Your Heart." The single popped to the top of the charts at number one and stayed there for seven consecutive weeks. In 1961, Butler bounced back with two Top Ten singles: "Find Another Girl" and "I'm a Telling You."  

In 1967, he signed with Mercury and teamed up with the production duo of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. His work with these two master producers and songwriters resulted in some classic recordings, including the outstanding album The Ice Man Cometh. The album featured one superb track after another, including two number-one singles ("Hey, Western Union Man," "Only the Strong Survive") and two Top Ten singles ("Never Give You Up," "Are You Happy"). Always known for being a crooner, "Hey, Western Union Man" revealed to many that Butler was more than capable of singing up-tempo songs. 

In 1971, Gamble and Huff formed their own label and subsequently Butler formed a creative workshop to help provide material for his forthcoming albums. Material that did not make his albums, he marketed to other artists. In the spring of 1971, Butler hit the Top Ten with the number-eight single "If It's Real What I Feel," which was written by Chuck Jackson (the younger brother of Rev. Jesse Jackson). Butler continued his hit-making tradition with "Ain't Understanding Mellow," a classic soul-ballad duet with Brenda Lee Eager that peaked at number three on the Billboard R&B charts. Butler scored a number-six single with Eager with a remake of the Carpenters' "(They Long to Be) Close to You" and a solo hit with a remake of the O'Jays' "One Night Affair," which was also his last song to crack the Top Ten. 

Never one to categorize singers because he believes that a singer is a singer -- not based on genre, but on a person's mere ability to sing -- Butler himself covered several styles of music during his lengthy music career. He had many highs in his career; ranging from sharing the spotlight with such greats as Aretha Franklin to being the chairman of the board for the Rhythm and Blues Foundation (a non-profit organization).  

Butler also became a force in another field: politics. In the mid-'80s, he was a significant campaign supporter of Chicago's first black mayor Harold Washington. A short time later, Butler himself became the Cook County (IL) Commissioner and by the late '90s he was a Chicago City Alderman.

When the great Jerry Butler is not lobbying for his constituents, he can be found on-stage giving one of his spine-chilling performances with Ice Man-cool delivery. (Info compiled and mainly edited from All Music & Wikipedia)

Monday, 4 December 2017

Ernie Carson born 4 December 1937

Everett “Ernie” Carson III (December 4, 1937 – January 9, 2012) was an American Dixieland jazz revival cornetist, pianist, and singer who became a legendary Icon of Traditional Jazz who was known Worldwide for his trademark tone and improvisation. 

Born in Portland, a hotbed for traditional jazz in the 40's and 50's- he began playing trumpet while in grammar school and was working in theatre bands by the time he was a junior in high school and got his start in Monte Ballou's legendary Castle Jazz Band during 1954-1956.  

After a stint in the USMC First Division Band he settled in Los Angeles, where he worked with Ray Bauduc, Dave Weirbach and Ben Pollock. He later (ca. 1960) settled in San Francisco and joined Turk Murphy's band; he made his first recording, Live at Earthquake McGoon's (RCA Victor), in 1961. 

Carson was in New Orleans in 1964 when he made a fine recording for Sonny Faggart of Pearl Records with the St Peter Street Strutters, a pickup group including Bob Greene.  

Carson later settled in Atlanta, where he was involved in the operation of Ruby Red's Warehouse, a popular banjo emporium. He played in the band for many years, doubling on piano and was also an exuberant and humorous singer. He appeared in countless settings (including with singer Pat Yankee) and  led several of his own groups from the 1970s, including the Capital City Jazz Band (since 1972) and his own Castle Jazz Band (starting in 1992). He was George Buck's favourite cornetist (after Wild Bill Davison passed away), and he spent a lot time in the Audiophile Studio.
Ernie Carson was in and out of New Orleans during the 80s and 90s and became a prolific GHB/Jazzology artist. For a long time it seemed there was a new Carson CD every year featuring great hot cornet playing and all sorts of hitherto-forgotten tunes. 

After more than twenty years of playing based in Atlanta  he returned to Portland about 1995 and worked a little, but there wasn't much going on at that time. He suffered smoke inhalation in an apartment fire which limited his cornet playing for a year or more.

He was always promising to get back in the business with a new band, but it was not to be.  He died in 2012 in Portland, Oregon. He was considered one of the top classic jazz cornetists and there are few to take his place.

(Compiled and edited from, Wikipedia & All Music) 
Here’s a clip from the mid seventies showing Ernie Carson and his Quartet in a performance of Cakewalkin' Babies Back Home in Altanta. Next to Ernie on cornet we see Herman Foretich clarinet, Michael Milton "Peanuts" Fitch banjo and Hal "Shorty" Johnson tuba.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Sandy Nelson born 1 December 1938

Sander L. Nelson (born December 1, 1938) is an American drummer. Nelson, one of the best-known rock drummers of the early 1960s, had several solo instrumental Top 40 hits and was a session drummer on many other well-known hits, and released over 30 albums. He lives in Boulder City, Nevada, and continues to experiment with music on keyboards and piano. 

His first recording, with a band called the Renegades (Richard Podolor, Bruce Johnston, and Nick Venet), was "Geronimo", written by Venet, produced by Kim Fowley, and released on the Original Sound Records label. Although it flopped on the national charts, it charted in some of the Mid West markets. The song, along with "Charge", is part of the soundtrack of 1959 film Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow released by American International Pictures. 

Nelson attended high school with Jan Berry, Dean Torrence (who became Jan and Dean), and Kim Fowley. After gaining respect as a session drummer, he played on such songs as "To Know Him Is To Love Him" (Phil Spector's Teddy Bears, 1958), "Alley-Oop" (The Hollywood Argyles, 1960), and "A Thousand Stars" (Kathy Young and the Innocents, 1960).
His song "Teen Beat", on Original Sound Records, rose to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1959. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Subsequently, he signed with the Imperial record label, and pounded out two more Top 40 hits, "Let There Be Drums", which went to number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Drums Are My Beat". In December 1961, the British music magazine, NME, reported that "Let There Be Drums" had gone Top 10 in both the United Kingdom and United States. All three were instrumentals (a feat rarely repeated). Guitar playing on these hits was by co-writer Richard Podolor, later a songwriter and record producer.
Near the end of 1963, Nelson was in a motorcycle accident. The injuries necessitated amputation of his right foot and part of that leg. Nonetheless, Nelson continued to record into the early 1970s, releasing two or three albums a year, consisting of cover versions of popular hits plus a few original compositions.

In September 2008, Nelson and a few friends, recording as Sandy Nelson and the Sin City Termites, released a new record of original compositions, Nelsonized, on the independent Spinout label. Other band members included Eddie Angel (guitarist for Los Straitjackets), Remi Gits, and Billy Favata of Torturing Elvis. (Info Wikipedia)