Saturday, August 8, 2020

Renée Geyer (The Renée Geyer Band)

At first Renée Geyer was stage shy and found it difficult to face the audience but persevered and after many hours of hard work overcame her nerves to become a credible soul performer. Renée changed bands until she joined an ambitious jazz fusion group called, Sun. They recorded one album called Sun ’72, but the singer soon parted to join Mother Earth, which was a bluesier outfit and the band started top tour.

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RCA had offered Renée a contract as a solo singer but when it came to recording her first album Renée, the singer was insistent members of Mother Earth would provide the studio backing.

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Brave and loyal as this was, she soon gained a reputation in the business as a difficult artist. Never the less her talent was acknowledged and by the time of her second album, she was working with the cream of Melbourne’s sessions musicians. The title track of her new solo album was James Brown’s, ‘It's A Man's Man's World’ (produced by Tweed Harris). In 1974 it was released and became a chart success.

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She formed her own band called Sanctuary and they toured Australia. Renée felt constrained with RCA because the company refused to release her original material, preferring her cover versions. Mushroom Records were keen to sign an Australian act struck a deal with RCA where they would record her and RCA would release the albums and singles with a Mushroom logo stamped on the label. The next album, arguably considered to be the best example of Australian Soul, was called Ready To Deal. Most of the material was written by Renée and the band. They renamed themselves, The Renée Geyer Band. ‘Heading In The Right Direction’ was released as a single and sold well in Australian and New Zealand to become a hit in 1976.

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The Renée Geyer Band was an outstanding live act and attempts were made to capture this on a live album recorded at Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne. It was called Really Really Love You, and represented a farewell to their Australasian fans because Renée wanted to work in the US.

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In 1977, she went to LA to work on her next solo project with Frank Wilson (Motown Records). The album was Movin' Along and Renee worked in the studio with Ray Parker Jr, members of the Stevie Wonder’s band as well as other notable session musicians. The album gave her biggest success in Australasia but did less well in the States.

(Video Courtesy:daveinprogress3 by Youtube Channel)

Part of the problem was she sounded black but was a white artist. The single “Stares And Whispers” was earmarked to become a major US hit on black music radio but when Rene refused to take the record company’s advice, not to have her face on the record’s cover, radio programmers refused to give it airplay.

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Her stubbornness not to be misrepresented may have adversely affected her commercials success in the US but her action won her much respect from her fellow musicians who kept her going by employing her as a session singer. Renée carried on working between American and Australia and had a major hit in 1981 with the single ‘Say I love you,’ from her So Lucky album.

(Video Courtesy:Renée Geyer - Topic by Youtube Channel)

In 1980 she signed with Mushroom Records and recorded another US album with the Bump Band (Bonnie Raitt’s support group). ‘So lucky’ was produced by Rob Fraboni and contained more gutsy r&b material inter spaced with reggae and salsa.

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In 1983 Renée was back in Australia and recorded another live album which produced a superb version of Dusty Springfield’ ‘Going back, ’ sang as a duet with Glenn Shorrock (Little River Band).

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She eventually decided to settle in LA and joined Easy Pieces with Hamish Stuart and Steve Ferrone, former members of the Average White Band. They recorded one album which met critical acclaim but nothing commercial came from the venture.

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Renée left the band and continued as a session singer working with Sting (We'll Be Together), Toni Childs (Don't Walk Away), Joe Cocker (Unchain my heart), Neil Diamond, Buddy Guy, Julio Iglesias, Jackson Brown, Bonnie Raitt among many others.

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She diversified her career and appeared on Broadway before touring as a session singer with major acts including Joe Cocker and Chaka Khan. In 1993 Paul Kelly asked Renée to sing “Foggy Highway,” and was so knocked out with her rendition he produced her next album, called “Difficult Woman”.

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Paul Kelly and Joe Camilleri (Black Sorrows) went on to produce Renée’s 1999 album, Sweet Life.

(Video Courtesy:Harry Brus by Youtube Channel)

Renee continues to record and perform.

(Video Courtesy:Ambition Music Group by Youtube Channel)

(Video Courtesy: Harry Brus by Youtube Channel)

Good Read
Geyer R Renée 2000 Confessions of a Difficult Woman: The Renée Geyer story Harper Collins

Worth a listen:
Born under a bad sign (1973)
It’s A Man’s Man’s World (1974)
Turn On The Lights (1975)
Heading in the Right Direction (1976)
Stares And Whispers (1977)
Say I love you (1981)
Going back duet with Glenn Shorrack (1983)
Foggy Highway (1993)
Difficult Woman (1994)
,br> Reviewed 8/08/2020

Friday, August 7, 2020

Kiki Dee

(Kiki Dee Image via Pinterest)

Pauline Matthews was born in 1947, in Little Horton, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. She left school at 16 and worked at Boots in Bradford but in the evenings sang songs by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald with a dance band in Leeds. When a record company scout saw her perform one night he invited her to London to do an audition and she was promptly signed as a solo artist to Fontana Records in 1963. Prolific songwriter and record producer Mitch Murray came up with the name ‘Kiki Dee’ and her first single Early Night was released .

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Later her version of Aretha Franklin’s “Runnin' Out Of Fools" brought her critical acclaim and when she recorded Why Don't I Run Away From You? and On A Magic Carpet Ride these became evergreens on the Northern soul circuit.

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(Video Courtesy: Kerith Louisa Williams-Catton by Youtube Channel)

Kiki soon found herself as a professional session singer very much in demand. She worked with Dusty Springfield, among many others. Despite her obvious talent her solo career failed to launch but she regularly performed other people's hits on BBC radio and TV. Kiki was a very good friend of Dusty Springfield, who introduced her to the US where her powerful and soulful voice soon caught the attention of Tamla Motown in 1969. Kiki Dee became the first British artist to be sign for the record company in 1970. She also found constant work singing backing vocals and toured Australia in 1970 supporting The Bachelors.

(Video Courtesy: Motown19594ever by Youtube Channel)

Despite modest success and a lot of appreciation it was only after she signed with Rocket Records that she became a household name in the UK. Her first major hits came with Amaoureuse (1973) and a year later, I Got The Music In Me (1974).

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In 1975 she fronted the Kiki Dee Band which consisted of Jo Partridge (guitar), Bias Boshell (piano), Phil Curtis (bass) and Roger Pope (drums). In 1981, she was back in the charts with Star which became her best known solo commercial hit.

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Kiki continued as a successful session singer and appeared in musical theatre including Pump Boys and Dinettes and the lead role in the West End musical Blood Brothers.

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In 1976, Elton John and Kiki Dee, released "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" which became their first No. 1 single in the UK for both artist Kiki replaced her friend Dusty Springfield when she became too ill. So popular was the pastiche of the Motown style, they reprised "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" , at the Live Aid Concert and Madison Square Gardens in 1985.

(Video Courtesy: Elton John by Youtube Channel)

In 1993, another duet with Elton John, this time a Cole Porter song "True Love" gave Kiki her last chart entry.

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The singer continues to work and tour with Carmelo Luggeri. She remains, without question one of the best female, white soul singers Britain has ever produced.

(Video Courtesy: carmelo luggeri by Youtube Channel)

Worth a listen:
Kiki Dee
Early Night (1963)
Why don’t I run away from you?
On a Magic Carpet Ride (1968)
I Got The Music In Me (1974)
Amoureuse (1973)
Star (1981)
Angel Eyes (1987)

With Elton John
Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1967)
True Love ( )

Kiki Dee Band
(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am (1975)

Reviewed 7/08/2020

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Status Quo

(Status Quo Image via Pinterest)

The Spectres were a London-based beat group which formed in 1967 with Francis “Mike” Rossi (vocals, lead guitar) and Alan Lancaster (bass) their core members. John Coughlan (drummer) joined the line-up which was complete with Roy Lynes (organ). After a trio of unsuccessful singles the band changed its name to Traffic Jam and concentrated on mod psychedelia but their early efforts were no better.

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(Video Fran Corao by Youtube Channel)

Ricky Harrison (aka Rick Parfitt – rhythm guitar and vocals) formerly with the Highlights, joined the group in 1967, and they changed their name to Status Quo. As well as pursuing their solo career Status Quo did backups for many UK acts including Liverpool’s Tommy Quickly.

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Their debut single "Pictures of Matchstick Men," was written by Francis Rossi and quickly moved up the UK top 20 charts in 1967. The single also sold well in the US.

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The group were now considered ‘bubblegum,’ and followed up with "Black Veils of Melancholy," which attracted no interest whatsoever, but their next single "Ice in the Sun," (written by Marty Wilde), became a top ten hit in 1968.

(Video MusicLover92ish by Youtube Channel)

(Video MusicLover92ish by Youtube Channel)

Sticking with the same successful bubblegum rock formulae the next two releases flopped. Organist, Roy Lynes left the band and the Quo took a new direction into heavier bluesy boogie rock fusion. The single "Down the Dustpipe" again saw the Quo in the charts.

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The album Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon featured the Quo in hard rock mode and although it went almost unnoticed it did landmark the band’s metamorphosis from Mod psychedelia to Rock.

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The Quo were never as heavy as Led Zepplin but did present a popular front to the musical genre. Now kitted in jeans and kickers the Quo embarked upon a series of UK college and festival dates which won them a loyal following with their live performances. In 1972 they appeared at the Reading and Great Western festivals and were outstanding. Vertigo Records signed them and their first single "Paper Plane," another Rossi composition was a top ten hit.

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The album, Piledriver also topped the album charts and their other singles of 1973, Blue eyed lady (Hello) and Caroline were hits. You can hear John Coughlan’s drumming on Rossi’s ‘Caroline.’

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Andy Bown (formerly Herd and Judas Jump) joined the group as their unofficial keyboard player and the hits kept coming with their formulaic uncomplicated, unpretentious and infectious rock music. The band even became Royal favourites and appeared by Royal Appointment on several occasions for Lady Diana. John Coughlan left in 1981 to form his own group, John Coughlan’s Diesel.

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He was replaced by Pete Kircher (former Original Mirrors). Divisions within the band saw Alan Lancaster resettle to Adelaide, Australia, which made it difficult to have the band together. Alan finally left after performing at Live Aid in 1985.

(Video: Live Aid by Youtube Channel)

The separation was acrimonious but Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt carried on with new group members, John ‘Rhino’ Edwards (bass), and Jeff Rich (drums) with Andy Bown, now officially the group’s keyboard player. The new Quo continued their run of hit singles and albums throughout the eighties playing to packed audiences in the UK and Europe. In 1994, the group had a surprise number one hit in the UK with the football anthem "Come on You Reds" which was recorded with the football champions, Manchester United.

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Both Rossi and Parfitt contributed to the classical Quo portfolio with many of their hits written by Francis Rossi in collaboration with Bob Young (harp and roadie) and Bernie Frost; Rick Parfitt wrote with Andy Bown and Lynton. Alan Lancaster also made a major contribution to the group’s writing credits. In 1997 Rick had a quadruple bypass followed by a cancer scare but was able to recover suffice the Quo still perform. Between 1968 and 2004 the group scored 61 chart successes. In December 2016, Rick Parfitt died from sepsis following an infection of a pre-existing shoulder injury. Francis Rossi continued in the music business with several projects and released an album with Hannah Rickard called We Talk Too Much (2019).

(Video Joakim Rognedal by Youtube Channel)

(Video earMUSIC by Youtube Channel)

Worth a listen:
Hello (1973)
Caroline (1973)
Down Down (1974),
Roll Over Lay Down (1975)
Rain (1976)
Wild Side of Life (1976)
Rockin' All Over the World (1977)
Down the dust pipe (1977)
Mean girl (1977)
Again again (1978)
Whatever You Want (1979)
What your proposin’ (1980)
Something about you baby I like (1980)

Worth a Read
Rossi F 2019 I Talk Too Much: My autobiography Little, Brown Book Group Reviewed 5/08/2020

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Shadows At Sixty - BBC4 Programme 01/05/2020

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Wouldn't it be nice Beach Boys documentary

(Video Courtesy:Polish by Youtube Channel)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Potted history of Australian Record Companies

Festival Records was founded in Sydney in 1952. The company was started by a merchant bank called Mainguard, when they purchased a small record pressing company, Microgroove Australia. The artists and repertoire (A&R) manager, Les Welsh (former band leader) pulled off a coop when he managed to acquired the Australian rights to Bill Haley’s "Rock Around The Clock" in 1955 and the song which featured in the movie “Blackboard Jungle,” went on to become the biggest-selling record ever released in Australia up to that time.

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Ironically Les Welsh disliked Rock’n’Roll but he knew the market well enough to know where to invest. He fell out with Festival Records management and was replaced by Ken Taylor (a disc jockey). Ken Taylor also disliked Rock’n’Roll but that did not stop him from singing the three top Rock’n’Roll artists of the 50s to Festival Records : Johnny O'Keefe and the Dee Jays; Col Joye and the Joy Boys; and Dig Richards and the R'Jays. Bill Haley had met Johnny O’Keefe on his Australian tour and the two became good friends. Although Haley had personally recommended Johnny to Festival records, Johnny took matters into his own hands and had a quite word with a friendly journo, telling him, Festival Records had signed the act. The first thing the company knew was when they read it all in the press. Despite healthy sales, parent company Mainguard was in serious financial trouble and in 1957 Festival Records was sold to property magnate L J Hooker. Under Hooker who did like the music, Festival Records produced its first home grown number one hit with (Real) Wild one by Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays (1958).

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The absence of international acts combined with poor management meant Festival Records were again running at a loss, when it was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited in 1961. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass were emerging in the US as a tour de force and their record company signed distribution rights with Festival Records. When "The Lonely Bull" became a worldwide hit, A&M Records were sufficiently impressed with Festival Records they started to supply a stream of top-selling U.S. acts including The Carpenters into Australia. Soon Festival was back on top. Company Chairperson, Alan Hely cultivated distribution deals with local and International record companies which gave Festival exclusive Australian rights to a steady stream of international hit albums and singles. Festival dominated the Australian pop scene of the mid-to-late 1960s, recording and/or distributing some of the most popular Australian acts of the decade, including Normie Rowe, Billy Thorpe, The Bee Gees, Ray Brown & The Whispers, Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays, Jimmy Little, Noelene Batley, Mike Furber, The Dave Miller Set, Johnny Young, Wild Cherries and Jeff St John.

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Meantime the R'Jays had became Festival's house band and although the studio was pretty basic, lacking many facilities including an 'echo chamber' (they used the loo), Pat Aulton the house producer, was responsible for more Australian-made hits than any other record producer of his era despite his primitive surroundings. In 1970, Festival established a new progressive music label called, Infinity Records. The intention was to market the new generation of progressive rock acts which included the "new" Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs and Sydney’s new sensation Sherbet.

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During the 70s and early 80s Festival records formed an alliance with Melbourne based Mushroom Records and together enjoyed continuing success during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

(Mushroon Records Image via Pinterest)

Mushroom Records was formed by Michael Gudinski and Ray Evans in 1972. The company had struggled in its earlier years until their fortunes dramatically turned around when Skyhooks debut album became a best seller in 1975. Good fortune continued when they signed New Zealand’s Split Enz and scored another huge hit with their album, True Colours. During the eighties Mushroom had more international success with The Saints, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Paul Kelley and Jimmy Barnes among many others. When Cold Chisel broke up Jimmy Barnes signed with Mushroom Records and launched his solid career with the album Bodyswerve. The album was immediately successful, entering the Australian charts at Number One. This was the first of a remarkable run of top charting albums for Jimmy Barnes, as each of his first six solo albums all debuted in the Number One position. In 1998 Festival and Mushroom Records merged and the company was renamed Festival Mushroom Records (FMR).

(Video Courtesy:Benjamin Barnes by Youtube Channel)

(Vintage Sheet Music Image via Pinterest)

One of the oldest independent music publishing companies in Australia is J Albert & Son., and in the sixties there was an off shoot of the company called Albert Productions. They set about signing up local musical talent and snapped up the Easybeats.

(Video Courtesy:Beat-Club by Youtube Channel)

The group had phenomenal success in Australia but alas only fleeting interest internationally. Not of course before making important contacts and learning more about the pop business. Albert Productions encouraged Harry Vanda and George Young back to Oz and meantime signed a new act from Melbourne called John Paul Young.

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The former Easybeats set to writing material for him. Pasadena was a massive hit and John Paul Young temporarily suspended leaving the business. Vanda and Young became producers and worked with other Australian acts including a new and up and coming rock outfit, The band members included George’s two younger’s who went onto modest success as ACDC The groups cd sales are estimated at 120 million worldwide.

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Albert Productions continued to promote Australian talent with acts like Stevie Wright, Ted Mulry, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Flash And The Pan and Choirboys. Albert Productions eventually signed a deal with Festival Mushroom Records which ensured the back catalogue of these acts could be digitised and once again heard. In October 2005 Festival Mushroom Records was sold and as of 2006, it has become one of the record labels operated by the Warner Music Group (WEA International Inc.).

(Video Courtesy:David Poole by Youtube Channel)

Worth a listen:
Bill Haley and the Comets
Rock around the clock (1956)

Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays
(Real) Wild One (1958)

Col Joye and Joy Boys
Oh yeah , uh huh (1959)

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
The Lonely Bull (1962)

Jimmie Little
Sweet Mama

Easy beats
Friday on my mind (1966)

Normie Rowe
Shakin' All Over (1967)

Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs
Most people I know (1972)

You’ve got the gun (1972)

John Paul Young
Pasadena (1972)

All our friends are getting married (1975)

Split Enz
I Got You (1975)

Ted Mulry Gang
Jump in my car (1976)

Reviewed 2/08/20

Friday, July 31, 2020

Roy Buchanan (1939 – 1988)

Roy Buchanan Image via Pinterest)

Leroy Buchanan was born in Ozark, Arkansas in 1939. His father was a sharecropper in Arkansas and a farm labourer in Pixley California, where Roy grew up. Some authorities suggest his father was a Pentecostal preacher and his first musical memories were of racially mixed revival meetings he attended with his mother, Minnie. Growing up he drew upon many disparate influences from gospel to the blues. As a child he listened to late-night R&B radio shows that he became smitten by the blues. He could play the guitar by the age of seven and his parents sent him to Mrs. Pressure, the local lap steel guitar teacher, when he was nine. In later life, Roy Buchanan often imitated its effect and bent strings to the required pitch, rather than starting on the desired note. By 15 years of age he left home to become an itinerant musician working with Johnny Otis's rhythm and blues revue in LA before travelling across the US as a professional guitarist.

( Video Courtesy: Roy Buchanan - Topic Published by Youtube Channel)

( Video Courtesy: Music Legends Book Published by Youtube Channel)

In 1958, he made his recording debut at Chicago's Chess Records, accompanying Dale Hawkins on Fender Telecaster guitar. Roy led his own rock band, the Heartbeats, and they became Dale (“Suzy Q”) Hawkins backing band on tour for the next two years. In 1960, he left Dale Hawkins, moved to Canada and played sideman for Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. He left soon after to return to the US.

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( Video Courtesy: Ronnie Hawkins - TopicPublished by Youtube Channel)

In 1963, the Hawkes split from Ronnie Hawkins over personal differences, they toured and recorded as Levon and the Hawks and the Canadian Squires, before Bob Dylan hired them for his U.S. tour in 1965.

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Roy Buchanan released "Mule Train Stomp" in 1961 and followed it up by with ‘Potato Peeler” with Bobby Gregg (The Hawks) on drums. Neither single made much impression commercially, although they met with some critical acclaim. For a short time Roy joined the British Walkers (1964-68) as lead guitarist with Bobbie Howard (song writer and lead vocals), Junior Gill (bass) and Mike Kennedy (drums). The group were named after popular shoe brand and chosen as a thinly veiled attempt to capture the commercial success of the English Invasion. Bobby 'Poe Kat’ Poe and his business partner Mitch Corday managed the group until they split.

( Video Courtesy: Anderson Schmitt Published by Youtube Channel)

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Roy would sometimes absent himself from live gigs until it was discovered he was hiding himself in a closet. Sadly, the gifted musician was struggling with depression and addiction and eventually left the group. He continued to play sideman and established himself as a guitar virtuoso in Washington, D.C., area, where he became a much sought after session guitarist. In 1967, he heard and saw the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and although he recognised his own trademark sounds, felt no need to match them other than pay tribute to Henrix by performing and recording his version of some of his material.

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After Brian Jones (1942 - 1969) parted company with the Rolling Stones due to musical differences and subsequently died, Roy Buchanan was a serious contender to replace him. However, at the time Buchanan was himself, battling addiction and wanted to pursue his own musical roots. He respectfully declined the offer and forever after was known as "the man who turned the Stones down". His action won him even more fans. He generally shunned the spotlight, and now a father of six, he left the music industry to became a barber. However, while enrolled in the hairdresser school, he saw a man walking down the street with a '53 Tele guitar, and Roy quickly traded his Gibson Les Paul for 'Nancy".

( Video Courtesy: JimiHendrixFeyenoord Published by Youtube Channel)

At the beginning of the 70s, Roy Buchanan formed a group called The Snake Stretchers with Dick Heintze (keyboards), Michael "Pokey" Walls (drums & vocals), Chuck Tilley (vocals & rhythm guitar), Pete Vanahen (bass), and Danny Getten, banjo, dobra, and steel guitar. The group featured in a 90 minute, PBS television documentary, called Introducing Roy Buchanan (NET Division), to showcase Buchanan’s incredible talent and mastery across the genres as he performed with country-and-western stars Merle Haggard and Roy Nichols, jazz artist, Mundell Lowe, and the Johnny Otis blues band. The documentary brought him public acclaim, and a record deal with Polydor Records.

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In the 70s, Roy Buchanan was also a member of a local band in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area called The Danny Denver Band and played with them for many years. He made few records at this time and most fans heard him either live or on bootleg recordings.

( Video Courtesy: Roy Buchanan - TopicPublished by Youtube Channel)

When Polydor refused to release a self-produced and home recorded album by The Snake Stretchers, Roy distributed it privately on his own BIOYA label. The initials stood for B(low) I(t) O(ut) Y(our) A(ss), which at the time, summed up exactly his opinion of the record company. The album sold at selected "underground" stores, head shops, and his live gigs.

( Video Courtesy: rock&pops good music Ⅱ Published by Youtube Channel)

Throughout the 70s, Roy Buchanan released several solo albums on Polydor (5), then in 1975 changed labels to Atlantic Records (3). In 1977, he appeared on the PBS music program Austin City Limits . His record companies tried to encourage him to become more mainstream, and by the early 80s , Buchanan had become disillusioned with the pressure and stopped recording until he could record his own music his own way.

( Video Courtesy: n3ph3shPublished by Youtube Channel)

In 1985, Alligator Records coaxed Buchanan back into the studio with total artistic freedom in the studio. He released three albums: When a Guitar Plays the Blues (1985) , Dancing on the Edge (1986), and Hot Wires (1987). Once again his career was in an upswing when tragedy struck.

( Video Courtesy: Mario MartinezPublished by Youtube Channel)

( Video Courtesy: XbardeXPublished by Youtube Channel)

After Roy Buchanan was picked up by police in Fairfax, VA, for public intoxication after a domestic dispute in 1988, the musician was found shortly after hanged in the holding cell. The cause of death was officially recorded as suicide, but this was later disputed by Buchanan's friends and family. Serious bruises to his head were never explained and some believe he had taken a beating, pre-mortem. Roy Buchanan never achieved (nor sought) stardom, but he is still considered a highly influential guitar player. His lyrical leads and use of harmonics influenced many great guitar players including Robbie Robertson (The Band), Jeff Beck, Gary Moore, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), John Martyn, Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) , and Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top).

( Video Courtesy: Bill Kearns Published by Youtube Channel)

( Video Courtesy: buzz834 Published by Youtube Channel)