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Monday, 19 February 2018

Sam Myers born 19 February 1936

Samuel Joseph Myers (February 19, 1936 – July 17, 2006) was an American blues musician and songwriter. He was an accompanist on dozens of recordings by blues artists over five decades. He began his career as a drummer for Elmore James but was most famous as a blues vocalist and blues harp player. For nearly two decades he was the featured vocalist for Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets.

Myers was born in Laurel, Mississippi. He acquired juvenile cataracts at age seven and was left legally blind for the rest of his life, despite corrective surgery. He could make out shapes and shadows, but could not read print at all; he was taught Braille. 
He acquired an interest in music while a schoolboy in Jackson, Mississippi, and became skilled enough at playing the trumpet and drums that he received a nondegree scholarship from the American Conservatory of Music (formerly the American Conservatory School of Music) in Chicago. Myers attended school by day and at night frequented the nightclubs of the South Side.

There he met and was sitting in with Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Hound Dog Taylor, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Elmore James. Myers played drums with Elmore James on a fairly steady basis from 1952 until James's death, in 1963, and is credited on many of James's historic recordings for Chess Records. In 1956, Myers wrote and recorded what was to be his most famous single, "Sleeping in the Ground", a song that has been covered by Blind Faith, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, and many other blues artists.


From the early 1960s until 1986, Myers worked clubs in and around Jackson and across the South in the (formerly) racially segregated string of venues known as the Chitlin' circuit. He also toured the world with Sylvia Embry. From 1979 to 1982, Myers fronted the Mississippi Delta Blues Band and recorded for the TJ label out of Palo Alto, California.
In 1986, Myers met Anson Funderburgh, from Plano, Texas, and joined his band, The Rockets. Myers toured all over the U.S. and the world with The Rockets, enjoying a partnership that endured until the time of his death. Myers and The Rockets collectively won nine W. C. Handy Awards, including three "Band of the Year" awards and the 2004 award for Best Traditional Album of the Year.
In January 2000, Myers was inducted into the Farish Street Walk of Fame in Jackson, Mississippi, an honour he shares with Dorothy Moore and Sonny Boy Williamson II. 

In 2005, Myers was nominated for Traditional Blues Album of the Year for his record, Coming From The Old School. Myers was diagnosed with cancer in February 2005, but he toured as a solo artist, in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, with the Swedish band, Bloosblasters. The following year, the University Press of Mississippi published Myers' autobiography titled Sam Myers: The Blues is My Story. Writer Jeff Horton, whose work has appeared in Blues Revue and Southwest Blues, chronicled Myers' history and delved into his memories of life on the road.

In 2006, just months before Myers died, the Governor of Mississippi presented Myers with the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and was named state Blues Ambassador by the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Sam passed away while at home on July 17, 2006, following his release from the hospital after throat cancer surgery. He was making good progress with his recovery, and his death was totally unexpected. He was laid to rest next to his parents, Ollie and Celeste Myers, near Meridian, Mississippi.             (Edited mainly from Wikipedia)   

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Inge Brandenburg born 18 February 1929

Inge Brandenburg (born February 18, 1929 in Leipzig , died February 23, 1999 in Munich) was a German jazz singer and theatre actress .  She is often referred to as the best German jazz singer of the 1960s.

Inge Brandenburg was born as one of six children in a broken family, in which violence and strife prevailed.  Her father, a communist and in the First World War conscientious objector, was imprisoned in 1939 in the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he later died,. Her mother was called "asocial" in Ravensbrück concentration camp interned and died there in 1945 shortly before the end of the war.  The siblings were separated from each other and housed in various children's homes, which Inge Brandenburg spent the greater part of her youth in homes in Dessau and Bernburg.  

Immediately after the end of the war she fled to the American zone to Hof , where she was imprisoned for several months as a rambler.  Then she went to Augsburg. There she worked in a bakery, learning to play the piano and first came into contact with jazz in the city's GI clubs.  She successfully applied to a newspaper advertisement of a dance orchestra, which was looking for a singer and tingled after her move to Frankfurt am Main with
that by German nightclubs and dance halls.  
As an autodidact she developed increasingly into an outstanding jazz interpreter and undertook an eight-month tour to Sweden, which was crowned with success (originally planned only four weeks).  Back in Germany, the breakthrough came in 1958 at the German Jazz Festival; the critics also prophesied a great future for her.  She got her first recording contract and sang, appreciated for the dark timbre of her voice and her excellent timing, soon with the first jazz guards.  
At the European Music Festival in Antibes in 1960, she was honoured as the "Best European Jazz Singer".  The collaboration with Hans Koller , Albert Mangelsdorff , Emil Mangelsdorff , Helmut Brandt and the orchestras of Kurt Edelhagen and Erwin Lehn consolidated their reputation as the best West German jazz
singer;  she mainly sang in swing idiom and blues pieces.  Her interpretation of Lover Man allegedly made her "legendary" in 1960: "Undeterred by the overwhelming vocal recordings that were already available at that time, the young German sang her soul with individual phrasing and a soulful, dark voice."  

In the early 1960s, Inge Brandenburg was managed by AFN host Charlie Hickman, who gave her the first television appearances, including Ted Heath (1962).  She toured with the Gunter Hampel Group in 1965 and interpreted Ornette Coleman pieces like Lonely Woman.  In 1968 she went on tour with the trio of Wolfgang Dauner. Record labels released a few recordings with her, but they preferred to record hit-and- miss songs, which she was not prepared to do.  After her futile attempt to force the labels in court, as originally agreed to release jazz recordings with her, she was "burned" in the industry.  Due to her alcohol consumption and bad nature she received only a few commitments, so that she later played mostly theatre. 

In 1976 she sang again at a jazz festival in Würzburg, 1974 and 1976 in the gully in Frankfurt am Main, 1985 in Frankfurt am Main) and Brewhouse in Stuttgart with the Peter Mayer Quartet and Jan Jankeje .  After that, she withdrew completely because of the difficult economic situation in the music market. 

After the end of career Brandenburg slipped into deeper alcohol problems, in addition there were problems with their vocal cords.  In 1990 she underwent surgery.  In the mid-nineties, she tried a comeback - supported by Gerry Hayes and Charly Antolini , with the trios of pianists Walter Lang and Heinz Frommeyer, which, however, failed.

Impoverished, she died in 1999 in Schwabing hospital. Munich, Bavaria, Germany. Her grave is located on the Munich North Cemetery.  (Edited from a German Wikipedia translation)

Friday, 16 February 2018

Jimmy Wakely born 16 February 1914

James Clarence Wakely (February 16, 1914 – September 23, 1982), was an American actor and country Western music vocalist, and one of the last singing cowboys. Wakeley was born in Howard County, Arkansas but his family moved to Rosedale, Oklahoma by 1920. As a teenager, he changed his surname to Wakely, dropping the second "e".  

In 1937 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma he formed The Bell Boys, a country Western singing group named after their Bell Clothing sponsor. The group performed locally, made some recordings, and did frequent radio broadcasts over Oklahoma City's WKY. Johnny Bond, Dick Reinhart, Scotty Harrell and Jack Cheney were members of the Bell Boys and later groups. Over time, Wakely's groups were known as The Jimmy Wakely Trio, Jimmy Wakely and His Saddle Pals, Jimmy Wakely Trio and James Wakely.

 During a tour through Oklahoma, Western movie star Gene Autry invited Wakely to come to California. Autry felt the group might be a good addition to his new Melody Ranch radio show which debuted on CBS in January 1940. The Wakely Trio joined the show in mid-1940. He stayed for a couple of years, then left because of movie commitments and a recording contract with Decca Records that ran from 1941–1942 through 1947. Johnny Bond stayed with the show for most of its run (the show left the air in 1956).

In 1939, Wakely made his screen debut (with the Jimmy Wakely Trio) in a Roy Rogers Western, Saga of Death Valley. In 1941, The Jimmy Wakely trio appeared in Hopalong Cassidy films Twilight on the Trail and Stick to Your Guns, singing songs such as Lonesome Guitar, My Kind of Country, and Twilight on the Trail. In the 1940s, Wakely groups provided songs and musical support for several B-western movies.

Wakely made only one film with Autry, Heart of the Rio Grande, at Republic in 1942. He was sometimes referred to as a low-budget Autry in films. His response was, "Everybody reminds somebody of someone else until they are somebody. And I had rather be compared to Gene Autry than anyone else. Through the grace of God and Gene Autry, I got a career." He appeared in 28 Westerns at Monogram between 1944 and 1949. 

About 1941–1942, Decca gave Wakely a recording contract that ran until 1947. After leaving films, he continued to record, switching to the Capitol label. Though most of his songs were country Western, some crossed over to the pop charts, including collaborations with singer Margaret Whiting and Karen Chandler, and for the Christmas song "Silver Bells”. His duet singles with Margaret Whiting from 1949–51 produced a string of top seven hits, including 1949's number one hit on the US country charts and pop music charts, "Slippin' Around." He had a number one country hit with "One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)", a song originally released by Western singer Eddie Dean.
Like other Western film stars of the era, Wakely had his own comic book series. DC Comics published 18 issues from Sept/Oct 1949–July/Aug 1952, billing him as "HOLLYWOOD'S SENSATIONAL COWBOY STAR!" In addition to Autry's Melody Ranch, Wakely had his own CBS Radio show and co-hosted other programs. He also made several appearances on television variety shows; and in 1961 he was one of five rotating hosts on the NBC-TV program Five Star Jubilee. 
He also had one of the last live network radio programs at the NBC radio studios at the corner of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, California in 1958.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Wakely developed Shasta Records and owned two music publishing companies. He converted part of his California ranch into a recording studio, producing recordings for himself as well as for other country Western performers, including Tex Williams, Merle Travis, Eddie Dean, Tex Ritter and Rex Allen. For his recording work, Wakely has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Vine Street.

Later in life, Wakely performed at the Grand Ole Opry and National Barn Dance. His nightclub act visited Las Vegas, Reno and other venues. He did a Christmas USO Tour with Bob Hope. He made a few recordings on the Coral, Decca/Vocalion and Dot labels. He made appearances at Western film nostalgia conventions and continued personal appearances and stage shows, often with his daughter Linda and son Johnny in the act.

After contracting emphysema, Wakely died of heart failure at Mission Hills, California on September 23, 1982. He and his wife, who died in 1997, are interred next to each other in the Court of Remembrance at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California.

 Wakely was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in 1991.
(Info edited from Wikipedia)

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Henry MacKenzie born 15 February 1923

Henry Mackenzie, (February 15, 1923 - September 2, 2007) was a clarinettist and saxophonist who enjoyed a high-profile career in British jazz and big-band music after first making a reputation in his native Edinburgh. Famed for his extended tenure under bandleader Ted Heath, Henry MacKenzie towers among the premier clarinetists in British jazz. A sophisticated yet fiery player, he also enjoyed a long career as a first-call session player, even contributing to the Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  

Kenny Baker (trumpet), Danny Moss (saxophone) and Henry Mackenzie (clarinet)
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, MacKenzie studied accordion as a child and later played in a local Boys' Brigade band. By his late teens he discovered jazz and turned to clarinet and tenor saxophone, studying under area musician Joe Marsh, an alumnus of the Edinburgh Empire pit orchestra.
After a brief apprenticeship as an auto mechanic, Mackenzie launched his professional music career in the house band at the Princes Street nightspot the Havana Club. Shortly after signing on at Leith's Eldorado Ballroom in 1942, he was called to serve in World War II, and as a member of the Royal Army Service Corps he played in the military band.

On returning to civilian life in 1947, MacKenzie joined bandleader Tommy Sampson, and over the next year toured Britain, Italy, and Germany. Following a brief tenure with Paul Fenoulhet, he was recruited by Heath in September 1949, and remained until Heath's death in late 1969.

               Here's St. Louis Blues  (feat. Henry MacKenzie)
                            from above 1959 album.
Often earning favourable comparison to Duke Ellington's famed clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, MacKenzie was respected by critics and audiences alike for his elegant, exacting performances. In December 1966, he joined fellow clarinettists Robert Burns and Frank Reidy in the studio to record the whimsical "When I'm Sixty-Four," one of the more beloved contributions to the Beatles' epochal Sgt. Pepper. 
After Heath's passing, MacKenzie was a favourite of arrangers including Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, and Billy May, and was a fixture of several Heath Orchestra revivals led by trombonist Don Lusher. In addition, during the 1990s he led his own quintet for the radio program Music While You Work, and performed for TV's Come Dancing. Mackenzie also played with George Chisholm's Gentlemen of Jazz.. After a brief illness, MacKenzie died in Surrey on September 2, 2007.
(Edited mainly from All Music bio by Jason Ankeny)

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Magic Sam born 14 February 1937


Samuel Gene Maghett (February 14, 1937 – December 1, 1969), known as Magic Sam, was an American Chicago blues musician. He was born in Grenada County, Mississippi, United States, and learned to play the blues from listening to records by Muddy Waters and Little Walter. He was known for his distinctive tremolo guitar playing.
Maghett moved to Chicago in 1956, where his guitar playing earned him bookings at blues clubs on the West Side. He recorded singles for Cobra Records from 1957 to 1959, including "All Your Love" and "Easy Baby". They did not reach the record charts but had a profound influence, far beyond Chicago's guitarists and singers. Together with recordings by Otis Rush and Buddy Guy (also Cobra artists), they were a manifesto for a new kind of blues. Around this time Magic Sam worked briefly with Homesick James Williamson.


The stage name Magic Sam was devised by Sam's bass player and childhood friend Mack Thompson at Sam's first recording session for Cobra, as an approximation of "Maghett Sam". The name Sam was using at the time, Good Rocking Sam, was already being used by another artist.
Magic Sam gained a following before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served six months in prison for desertion and received a dishonourable discharge.
In 1963, his single "Feelin' Good (We're Gonna Boogie)" gained national attention. He successfully toured the United States, Britain and Germany. He was signed to Delmark Records for which he recorded West Side Soul and Black Magic.  
His first LP, West Side Soul, did not come out until 1967, ten years after the release of "All Your Love". The wait was well worth it, as it turned out to be an absolutely fantastic blues album, full of energy, highlighted by his high, soulful vocals and his distinctive guitar work. Notable songs included the blues standard "Sweet Home Chicago", a new version of "All Your Love", and the catchy original "That's All I Need", which learned more in the direction of soul than blues. Second guitar throughout the album came from Mighty Joe Young.

He continued performing live and toured with the blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite and Sam Lay. Magic Sam's breakthrough performance was at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969, which won him many bookings in the United States and Europe.
His career was cut short when he suddenly died of a heart attack in December 1969. Only days before, Maghett had agreed to sign with the renowned Stax Records label. He was 32 years old. Magic Sam was buried in the Restvale Cemetery, in Alsip, Illinois. His passing robbed the blues genre of a potentially influential figure.

In February 1970, the Butterfield Blues Band played at a benefit concert for Magic Sam, at Fillmore West in San Francisco. Also on the bill were Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite and Nick Gravenites. 
His guitar style, vocals, and songwriting have inspired and influenced many blues musicians. In the film The Blues Brothers, Jake Blues dedicates the band's performance of "Sweet Home Chicago" to the "late, great Magic Sam".
"Magic Sam had a different guitar sound," said his record producer, Willie Dixon. "Most of the guys were playing the straight 12-bar blues thing, but the harmonies that he carried with the chords was a different thing altogether. This tune "All Your Love", he expressed with such an inspirational feeling with his high voice. You could always tell him, even from his introduction to the music."

 (Info mainly edited from Wikipedia) 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Wingy Manone born 13 February 1900

Wingy Manone (13 February 1900 – 9 July 1982) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, singer, and bandleader. His major recordings included "Tar Paper Stomp", "Nickel in the Slot", "Downright Disgusted Blues", "There'll Come a Time (Wait and See)", and "Tailgate Ramble". 

Manone was born Joseph Matthews Mannone in New Orleans, Louisiana. He lost an arm in a streetcar accident, which resulted in his nickname of "Wingy". He used prosthesis, handling it so naturally and unnoticeably that his disability was not apparent to the public. Jazz violinist Joe Venuti, who was a notorious practical joker and good friend of Manone, used to send “Wingy” a single cufflink every year on his birthday. 

He played trumpet in riverboats starting when he was 17, was with the Crescent City Jazzers (which later became the Arcadian Serenaders) in Alabama, and made his recording debut with the group in the mid-'20s. He worked in many territory bands throughout the era before recording as a leader in 1927 in New Orleans. By the following year, Manone was in Chicago and soon relocated to New York, touring with theatre companies. 

His hit records included "Tar Paper Stomp" (an original riff composition of 1929 that was later used as the basis for Glenn Miller's "In the Mood"), and a hot 1934 version of a sweet ballad of the time "The Isle of Capri", which was said to have annoyed the songwriters despite the royalties revenue it earned them. 
Manone was an esteemed musician who was frequently recruited for recording sessions. He plays on some early Benny Goodman records, for example, and fronted various pickup groups under pseudonyms like "The Cellar Boys." His style was similar to that of fellow New Orleans trumpeter Louis Prima: hot jazz with trumpet leads, punctuated by good-natured spoken patter in a pleasantly gravelly voice. 

Manone's group, like other bands, often recorded alternate versions of songs during the same sessions; Manone's vocals would be used for the American, Canadian, and British releases, and strictly instrumental versions would be intended for the international, non-English-speaking markets. Thus there is more than one version of many Wingy Manone hits. Among his sidemen on his 1935-1941 recordings were Matty Matlock, Eddie Miller, Bud Freeman, Jack Teagarden, Joe Marsala, George Brunies, Brad Gowans, and Chu Berry.  
Among his better records are "San Antonio Stomp" (1934), "Send Me" (1936), and the novelty hit "The Broken Record" (1936). He and his band did regular recording and radio work through the 1930s, and appeared with Bing Crosby in the movie Rhythm on the River in 1940 and would later appear on many of Crosby's radio shows. 
In 1943 he recorded several tunes as "Wingy Manone and His Cats"; that same year he performed in Soundies movie musicals. One of his Soundies reprised his recent hit "Rhythm on the River." His  autobiography, Trumpet on the Wing, was published in 1948.

From the 1950s he was based mostly in California and Las Vegas, Nevada, although he also toured through the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe to appear at jazz festivals. 

In 1957, he attempted to break the teenage rock & roll market with his version of Party Doll, the Buddy Knox hit. His version on Decca 30211 made #56 on Billboard's Pop chart and it received a UK release on Brunswick 05655. 

Wingy Manone's compositions include "Tar Paper Stomp" (1930), "There'll Come a Time (Wait and See)" with Miff Mole, "Tailgate Ramble" with Johnny Mercer, "Stop the War (The Cats are Killin' Themselves)" (1941) on Bluebird, "Trying to Stop My Crying", "Downright Disgusted Blues" with Bud Freeman, "Swing Out" with Ben Pollack, "Send Me", "Nickel in the Slot" with Irving Mills, "Jumpy Nerves", "Mannone Blues", "Easy Like", "Strange Blues", "Swingin' at the Hickory House", "No Calling Card", "Where's the Waiter", "Walkin' the Streets (Till My Baby Comes Home)", and "Fare Thee Well". 

Wingy stayed active in music and continued to lead and tour with his bands for the rest of his life. He died on July 9, 1982 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. (Info edited from Wikipedia & AMG)
Probably in a recording studio in New York in 1964 we see a performance of Wingy Manone playing one of his favourite tunes "Tailgate Ramble".

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Bobby 'Borris' Pickett born 11 February 1940

Robert George Pickett (February 11, 1938 – April 25, 2007), known by the pen name Bobby "Boris" Pickett, was an American singer, best known for co-writing and performing the 1962 hit novelty song "Monster Mash."

Bobby was fascinated by horror movies as a child. By the time he was nine, he started to imitate Boris Karloff, whom he would see at the movie theatre that his father managed in Somerville, Massachusetts. Following his discharge from the US Army in 1961, he moved to Los Angeles to try his hand at show business. As a member of a vocal group called The Cordials he would do impersonations between songs, often using his impression of Karloff, which was a crowd favourite. 

His friend and fellow band mate, Lenny Capizi suggested that the pair try to take advantage of the novelty song craze that was happening in the early sixties by writing a tune around Bobby's Karloff imitation. It took nearly a year after the suggestion to get around to it, but when they did, the two worked out "The Monster Mash" in about a half an hour.

To record their song they approached producer Gary Paxton, who sang The Hollywood Argyles' 1960 number one hit, "Alley Oop". Pickett and Paxton, along with Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae and Rickie Page recorded the tune in one take, and when the session was done, it was Paxton who came up with the idea of putting "Bobby 'Boris' Pickett And The Cryptkickers" on the record's label. Pickett also added all his own sound effects: the creaky door opening is a nail being pulled from a piece of wood, the boiling cauldron is Pickett blowing bubbles into a cup of water with a straw, and the chains are him moving chains up and down. 

 Gary Paxton took the tape to four major labels, who all turned it down. Not discouraged, he had a thousand copies pressed himself and started delivering them to radio stations across California. Soon, "The Monster Mash" was getting air play and London Records, who had rejected the song earlier, called Paxton to sign a deal. Eight weeks later, on October 20, 1962, the record hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, just in time for Halloween.  

Over the years, the song has been re-released three times and re-entered the Hot 100 on August 29, 1970, peaking at number 91 and again in May of 1972, when it reached number 10. Several attempts were made at other "monster" songs. A Christmas-themed follow-up called "Monster's Holiday" was also issued in 1962 and reached #30 in December of that year. "Blood Bank Blues", "Werewolf Watusi" and "Monster Swim" followed, but all failed to chart. Pickett did manage to reach the Billboard chart again in June, 1963 when "Graduation Day" peaked at #80. In 1975, he recorded a spoof on Star Trek called "Star Drek" with Peter Ferrara. In 1985 he released "Monster Rap", which describes the mad scientist's frustration at being unable to teach his creation how to talk. The problem is solved when the monster learns to rap.  

"The Monster Mash" has been the recipient of three Gold records, selling an estimated 4 million copies since its release, and is one of only three records to ever hit the Billboard Hot 100 on three separate occasions. The song has become a part of American pop culture, so much so, that it has even been played to wake up the astronauts on Halloween Day. The song has been used in several movies, including Sweetheart's Dance and "Halloween III and has been heard on such popular TV shows as The Simpsons, Cheers, Rosanne, Doogie Howser, Happy Days, and Sesame Street. Even Boris Karloff himself sang the song on mid-sixties TV.  

As for Bobby, he remained in demand for Halloween performances and continued to tour at small venues and special events throughout the US. In 1966 he hosted a weekly disc jockey show on KRLA in Los Angeles and later worked as a writer and an actor, appearing in the films It's a Bikini World in 1967, Chrome and Hot Leather in 1971, Deathmaster in 1972 and Lobster Man From Mars in 1989.  

Pickett and television author Sheldon Allman wrote the musical Frankenstein Unbound. In 1995 the co-writers of Disney's Toy Story, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, produced a movie of it, originally entitled Frankenstein Sings, but later released in the US under Monster Mash: The Movie in which Pickett starred. 

In 2005 Pickett published his autobiography called Monster Mash: Half Dead in Hollywood. Bobby performed his final gig in November, 2006 and died of leukemia on April 25th, 2007, at the age of 69.  (Info mainly edited from bio)