Saturday, October 16, 2021

Brief history of Instrumental Hits (1952 -1969)



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Prior to the introduction of the singer with the band, dance music was primarily instrumental. Then as microphones improved vocalisation became more popular and when during the war years union action prevented, card carrying musicians from recording the rise of the crooner resulted with the decline of the popular instrumental. Cool School Jazz continued to promote instrumental music but this was considered too complicated for vocals. In the early 50s, Earl Bostic, a jazz saxophonist had two instrumentals hits with Harlem Nocturne and Earl's Rhumboogie.


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In 1952, bluesman, Little Walter had a major hit with Juke and a year later Red Prysock was riding high with Wiggles. Another bluesman to chart with an instrumental was Jimmy Reed with "Roll and Rhumba" (1953).


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The two main factors likely to have contributed to the reintroduction of the instrumental were better amplification and the continued popularity of dance music. Although Rock ‘n’ roll would became more associated with the electric guitar, throughout the fifties other lead instruments featured. Englishman, Eddie Calvert had an international hit with the trumpet called Oh Mein Papa (1954), he repeated his chart success a year later with Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.


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Piano instrumentals were also popular with Liberace in the US and Winifred Atwell in the UK with Lets have ding dong (1955) and Poor People of Paris (1956).


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As the origins of rock’n’roll were in R&B, jump blues, and country boogie many of the early musicians like, Joe Houston (saxophone), and Speedy West (steel guitar) were influential in the style of music that would eventually follow. Bill Doggett had a major instrumental hit in 1956 with “Honky Tonk” which featured Clifford Scott on sax.


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Another saxophonist to have a major hit was Bill Justis. He worked for Sam Phillips at Sun Records where he recorded music for himself as well as arranged the music for Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Charlie Rich. In 1957, he released "Raunchy" which rocketed up the charts. It was common at the time to have cover versions of the originals released at the same time with the better efforts competing for chart position. Ernie Freeman released a cover version of Raunchy which became a respectable hit in US. He later joined the Ernie Fields Orchestra which became the house band for Rendezvous records in 1958.


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In 1959 the Ernie Fields Orchestra had an international hit with an R&B version of Glenn Miller’s In The Mood. In 1962 and with a few lineup changes the Orchestra became B. Bumble and the Stingers and had a couple of great chart success with Bumble Boogie and Nut Rocker.


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Steadily guitar music began to predominate and the Virtues had hit in 1958 with a rock reworking of Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith's country hit "Guitar Boogie" under the title "Guitar Boogie Shuffle". The instrumental became a major hit in the U.S. In the same year guitarist Duane Eddy proved a major influence on rock guitarists. He had a string of guitar hits including: Rebel Rouser (1958), Forty miles of bad road (1959), Shazam (1960), Peter Gunn (1960) and Because they’re young (1960). The added commercial appeal of instrumental music was it could be appreciated by non-English speakers and at that time the overseas record markets were growing.


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One of the early luminaries of the electric guitar was Link Wray who started off playing country in Lucky Wray & the Lazy Pine Wranglers (later known as Palomino Ranch Hands). He lost a lung due to TB and was unable to sing, so began to develop his guitar solos. Link developed the use of feedback with guitar fuzz and distortion and this would eventually become more associated with musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend. However in 1958 Link recorded “Rumble,” which despite being banned from radio stations became a major hit and a milestone for guitar players.


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Meanwhile in the UK novelty acts like Lord Rockingham's XI (there were actually 13 musicians) had a number one hit with 'Hoots Mon' (1958). The Fireballs, featured a distinctive guitarist called George Tomsco, and the group pioneered the guitar/guitar/bass/drums configuration, paving the way for The Ventures, The Shadows, and the surf music scene. The Fireballs had a big hit with Fireball and were one of a few instrumental bands that successfully transitioned into vocal music, going as far as having the biggest hit record Sugar Shack in 1963.


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In the years between the rock & roll explosion and the Beatles, instrumental performers were responsible for some of the most exciting and macho music. Other guitarists like Santo & Johnny (Sleep Walk, 1959) and Lonnie Mack made their mark but so too did drummers, Sandy Nelson (Let there be drums, 1961), Preston Epps (Bongo Rock, 1960), and Cozy Cole; organists, Dave "Baby" Cortez (The Happy Organ, 1959); saxophone-driven combos Johnny & the Hurricanes (Crossfire and Red River Rock, 1959) and The Champs' Tequila; and even bass players like Bill Black (Don’t be cruel, 1960).


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The UK saw a revival of piano rag with Russ Conway and Side Saddle (1959), and a continuation with comedic instrumentals typified by The Piltdown Men and Brontasaurus Stomp (1960).


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By 1960, The Ventures perfected the guitar group sound and had hit after hit with tracks like Walk don’t run. Their precise reverberated guitar work was a major influence on others including the Shadows Apache (1960) in the UK: and the Atlantics in Australia Bombora (1963).


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Dick Dale gained a loyal following for his quick playing of Middle Eastern influenced music using exotic scales. He used a Fender Telecaster guitar and developed a distinctive reverb-heavy sound which would become the surf sound. Let's Go Trippin'/Del-Tone Rock (1961) was a double A side hit for Dick and others soon followed i.e. The Surfaris' Wipe Out (1963) and the Chantays' Pipeline (1963). The close harmonies of Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys would later develop the unique vocal surf sound of the sixties.


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A resurgence in Moldy Fig music (traditional New Orleans jazz) in the UK saw Bad Penny Blues by Humphrey Lyttelton become the first British jazz record to get into the UK Top Twenty in 1956. Kenny Ball also had a jazz inspired Midnight in Moscow (1961) and Acker Bilk topped the charts with his clarinet inspired Stranger on the shore (1962).


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Perhaps the most famous cross over jazz pop success of the period was Dave Bruebeck’s Take Five in 1959.


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Producer Joe Meek in the UK worked with The Tornados (known as the Tornadoes in the US) and had an international hit with Telstar (1962). This single featured both electric organ and electric bass, the same sound would two decade later become an inspiration for all electronic musicians.


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Arguable the most seminal development in instrumental rock came from Lonnie Mack's version of Chuck Berry's Memphis, which was a hit in 1963. The showcase of virtuoso guitar used both the blues scale and distortion which would inspire many of the developing blues-rock guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.


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Prior to the soul era, Boots Randolph had a massive hit with Yakety Sax (1963); and in the UK, Sounds Incorporated (one of Brian Epstein’s groups) proved popular with their version of the William Tell Overture (1964).


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Following the British Invasion instrumental hits came mostly from the R&B world with notably artists like Booker T. & the MG's, the Mar-Keys and Bar-Keys all producing excellent works. The most popular and influential instrumental soul combo of the 60s was Booker T. & the MG's who were the resident studio band for Stax/Volt label.


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Instrumentals became less popular among pop musicians simply because the musical genre received less radio play as preference was given to the new sound of pop groups. The Shadows continued to make instrumental hits and the Stones would very occasionally slip an instrumental track onto an album. The Nice (later to become ELP) had a hit with America which feature the electric organ in 1968 but the last great instrumental from the 60s came from Fleetwood Mac in 1969. Peter Green, guitar virtuoso wrote the guitar-based instrumental Albatros (1969) which became a worldwide success.


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Reviewed 17/10/2021

Friday, October 15, 2021

Jack Jackson (1906-1978)



( Jack Jackson Image via Wikipedia)


Jack Jackson was born in Horsley, Derbyshire in 1906 and the son of a brass bandsman and conductor. He started playing cornet when he was 11 years old then later when he attended the Royal Academy of Music he was taught to play the trumpet by John Solomon. When he was 16 he was playing violin and cello in a local dance band and aged 19 he was spotted by Bert Ralton and joined his Havana Band. The orchestra were incredibly popular in the US, UK and Australia and travelled extensively including an ill fated tour of South Africa in 1926 and 1927. Ralton died in an accidental shooting and although the band continued Jack left soon after their return to the UK.


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He went freelance for a time before joining Bert Ambrose to play swing. Jack was a fine soloist and occasionally would sing "scat." He made several recordings before joining Jack Hylton's band.


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In 1929 he was considered hot property and joined the Howard Jacobs band and stayed for two years before teaming up with Jack Payne at the BBC. Jack Jackson enjoyed his time and assisted with many comedy aspects of the bands performance.


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After a quarrel with Jack Payne in 1933, he left to form his own orchestra. The new line up consisted of Poggy Pogson, Chappie D'Amato, Stanley Andrews among others and they were able to secure residency at the Dorchester Hotel. and became a firm favourite. The Jack Jackson Orchestra made a number of recordings, some of which featured blues legend, Alberta Hunter. Despite her background many of the works were straight pop for the time. Following the orchestras stay at the Dorchester, the group toured theatres, ballrooms and hotels until disbanding in 1947.


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During the war years Jack had worked between the Ministry of Information where he drew cartoons and as a band booker at Foster's Agency. After the War he formed a new outfit and played at Churchill's opposite Edmundo Ross. Keen to further his career he gave up bandwork and tried acting before accepting a job to compere the BBC’s big-band series called "Band Parade". Jack fitted in well and was given his own late-night record show called "Record Roundabout" in 1948.This was one of the few gramophone-only shows on the Light Program (BBC) and Jack started to introduce comic effects and comedy lines.The show consisted entirely of new releases with a mix of pop, ballads, trad jazz and popular instrumentals. Amost the John Peel of his time, the show drew a big audience and Jack became a very popular figure in radio. Jack Jackson developed a most unique microphone style which included punctuating records with comedy clips, and using quick cutting of pre-recorded tapes to humorous effect. This was to be a major influence on younger DJs including: Kenny Everett and Noel Edmonds. Record Roundabout ran from 1948 to 1954.


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In 1955 left radio and joined the newly established ITV to compere a program from the Embassy Club in London’s Bond Street with a mixture of interviews with stars, music and news from the world of show business. The format did not suit Jackson and he was quickly replaced with Ron Randell and the program retitled 'On The Town.'


( Jack Jackson Show Image via Petula Clark)


The Jack Jackson Show was rescheduled to Sunday afternoons with a focus on recording stars. It proved so popular the feature was rescheduled back to a late evening slot where it became a firm fixture as 'Record Time.' From behind a desk, a light hearted Jackson presented a fast-moving combination of music and comedy, chatting to guests including both up-and-coming as established comedians and comic actors. The dialogue was frequently interupted by the now signature comedic interjections. Years before Rowan and Martin's Laugh in (1968-1973) the magic format was hypnotic. Jackson could use his home studio to take comedic effects from records and mix them with records. The shows were built like a variety bill mixing comedy with fast and slow numbers and when he featuring younger singers from the emerging UK skiffle and rock and roll genres the program attracted a wider audience until he came to the end of its run in 1959.


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Jack Jackson appeared in several films including Stars in Your Eyes (1956); a cameo in Disc Jockey Jamboree (1957); and in 1960 the musical comedy 'Climb Up the Wall'.


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By 1959 he was back on the radio, both BBC and on Luxembourg (208) where he presented the Decca sponsored show Record Round-up (later with Colgate-Palmolive sponsorship) as well as The Juke Box Show and Hit Parade.


(Jack Jackson Show Image via Television Heavan)


In 1962, Jack Jackson relocated to Tenerife where he built an elaborate recording studio and pre-recorded his radio shows before flying them to London for broadcasting. He played records one after another with no pauses inbetween. He discpensed with 'intros' and back announcements sometimes giving the title and artist mid-way through the song. The show ran until June 1969, by now on Radio 1. A final series aired on Radio 2 in late 1971 but he came back for some bank holiday one-offs in 1975 and 1976.


( Jack Jackson Image viaNostalgia Central )


He returned to London in 1973 but by this time he was seriously ill with a bronchial complaint. He made a remarkable recovery and continued with a new " Jack Jackson Show" radio program in 1975 until 1977 when illness forced him to retire.



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Jack Jackson passed away in 1978 just short of his 72nd birthday.

Worth a listen
Jack Jackson: Rhythm and Radio Fun Remembered BBC Radio 4 2011 Sounds

Reviewed 16/10/2021

Radio Luxembourg This Is How It All Began Pt 1



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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Marion Ryan (1931 - 1999) and Paul (1948 - 1992) and Barry Ryan (1948 – 2021)



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Marion Ryan was born in Middlesbrough, Cleveland, UK in 1931. As a professional singer she worked with the Ray Ellington orchestra which spring boarded her recording career. She had a good singing voice and was capable of a wide range of styles. Her glamorous good looks earned her the title “the Marilyn Monroe of popular song," but despite her popularity her recording career was mediocre. She did have one UK Top Five hit with 'Love me forever' (1958).


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Marion moved into television where she appeared as the resident singer in Granada's 'Spot that tune’ (1957-1963). Her outgoing personality won the viewers heart and she even had modest success on US TV.


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In 1963 she appeared with Tommy Steele in the film It's All Happening (The Dream Maker). The single Maximum Plus was never released because at 4'15" it was considered too long.


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Marion re-married American show business millionaire, Harold Davison and when public tastes changed she quietly retired from show business. Marion Ryan passed away aged 68 in 1999.


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She had identical twin sons, Paul and Barry (born 1948) from her previous marriage. The boys took their mother's name and started singing professionally, aged 15. Signed to Decca they were carefully groomed to look like Mods, dressed by top designers with their staged photographs seen in all the pop papers. Under the watchful eye of Les Reed the duo scored a hat trick of minor hits between 1965-66. Their best sellers were "Don't Bring Me Your Heartaches" (#13 in 1965, "I Love Her" (#17 hit in 1966) and "Have Pity on the Boy" (#18 in 1966). Paul and Barry Ryan represented the beginning of Bubblegum Pop in the UK and were deliberately groomed for stardom.


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At the peak of their fame Paul found he could not cope with the stress of being a pop star. The young man decided to stop performing and concentrate on song writing, Brother Barry pursued his solo career, changed record company to MGM Records and had a massive hit with Eloise (written by Paul) in 1968.


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The follow up single "Love Is Love" was another Paul Ryan composition but failed to sell well in the UK. Sales in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands were healthy and gave Paul and Barry their second million seller.


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Barry released several other singles in the UK but he was never able to match the success of Eloise. Ironically his records sold well in Germany despite him never appearing live outside the UK. As music trends changed and sales dropped Barry retired from performing in the early 70s. He did make a comeback in the late 1990s and appeared on the retro circuit.


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Away from singing Barry maintained a successful career as a fashion photographer including a portfolio commemorating his late brother Paul.

( Paul and Barry Ryan Image via National Portrait Gallery )


Until his death in 1992, Paul Ryan continued to write songs for other artists including Frank Sinatra (I Will Drink The Wine and Sunrise in the Morning). In 1986 The Damned reprised Eloise which became a Top Three hit in the UK.


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Sadly Barry Ryan passed away in 2021, at the age of 72.


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Reviewed 12/10/2021

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Kenny Everett (1944 – 1995)



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Maurice James Christopher Cole was born in Seaforth, Merseyside in 1944. His schooling was pretty strict attending several Catholic schools where Maurice was a spirited youth always finding himself in trouble with school authorities. He was accused of breaking into the sacristy and drinking the communion wine and was subsequently suspended. Young Maurice took a series of jobs after leaving school but his heart lay elsewhere. Keen to pursue a show biz career Maurice made and sent a demo tape to the BBC in 1962. They were sufficiently impressed with it to give him an interview then offer him a job as a presenter on the Light Program , (the fore-runner to BBC Radio 2). However Maurice declined their offer and joined the pirate radio station, Radio London in 1964.


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Now called Kenny Everitt (named after a childhood hero) he and Dave Cash teamed up to present the Kenny & Cash Show which proved a great success. Kenny’s offbeat humour and likable personality quickly gained him attention but he was a bit of a loose cannon and would make outspoken comment on the thing he truly believed in. Kenny met the Beatles and previewed the new Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band while still at Radio London. The group and he hit is off and became good friends so when they went to the US, Kenny covered the tour for the private station.


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In 1965 this brought him into conflict with the station sponsors and Kenny was sacked. This would not be for the last time and he was back in front of the mic six months later. In 1966 Radio Luxembourg gave him his own show which was incredibly popular for both comment and choice of music.


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Kenny produced The Beatles Fan Club Christmas record in 1968 and 1969.


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He moved to Radio 1 and further developed his presentation style which now featured zany voices, surreal characters, multi-tracked jingles and trailers. He enjoyed working with sound and sound recording and became an expert with the new stereo/multi-track recording systems which he put to good use with his funny voices and radio jingles. Kenny was back on top presenting peek the time Saturday show from 10 am to 12 noon.


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In 1970 the controversial presenter was in trouble again with outspoken comment and was fired by Auntie. Then two years later he was back again this time with a pre recorded show which he did from home. The tapes were vetted and the show went to air on a Sunday afternoon. In 1973 Kenny Everett joined Capitol Radio, London and he and Dave Cash co-presented the breakfast show. Using reel to reel recording he created many comedy characters, some of which would be recreated later in his TV programs.


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In 1978 Thames Television offered him a new program which eventually became The Kenny Everett Video Show (then The Kenny Everett Video Cassette). Kenny used his characters and sketches (written by Ray Cameron, Barry Cryer and Dick Vosburgh) which were interspersed with pop music either performed by the artists , or as backing tracks to dance routines by dance troupe, Hot Gossip.


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In an age prior to video the show was very popular and stars from tv and pop, queued up to make cameo appearances. The series ran for four seasons and achieved high ratings for Thames but Kenny fell out with the management and left in 1981 to start up a similar show with the BBC. It too enjoyed high ratings but the format was now rather passé albeit it ran until 1988. Kenny did return to the BBC radio (Radio 2) in 1981 but after telling a rude joke about the then, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher his contract was not renewed. Undaunted he went back to Capitol where he continued until failing health forced him to retire in 1993. Kenny was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1989 and died from an Aids-related illness two years later. Much of Cuddly Ken’s success was his ability to play excellent music combined with his natural talent to entertain. Certainly influenced in his early career by the masterful Jack Jackson his style was unique due to his command of reel to reel recording. Many have subsequently tried to copy Kenny Everett’s mikemanship including Noel Edmonds and Steve Wright but no one has ever surpassed his on air brilliance. Kenny Everett was to on air broadcasting what Joe Meek and Sir George Martin were to recorded music.



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Further Reading
Hogg J & Sellers R (2014) Hello, Darlings!: The Authorized Biography of Kenny Everett Bantam Press

Reviewed 10/10/2021

Friday, October 8, 2021

Dr Lonnie Smith (1942 – 2021)



( Lonnie Smith Image via Live for live music )


Born in Lackawanna, New York, in 1942. He was raised by his mother and stepfather, and a family had a vocal group and radio program. As a child he was schooled in gospel, classical, and jazz music by his mother. Lonnie started to play the Hammond organ as a teenager. Whilst playing church organ he also loved the music of Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett, and Jimmy Smith.


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(Video Courtesy: Jimmy Smith - Topic by Youtube Channel)


Lonnie Smith was keen to become a professional musician but unsure what instrument to play until a local music-shop owner, Art Kubera gave him a Hammond B-3 organ. He soon mastered the keyboards and within a year was backing local groups. In 1965, he moved to New York City and met guitarist and singer George Benson, the two became friends and formed the George Benson Quartet with Ronnie Cuber (baritone saxophone), Bennie Green (trombone), Lonnie Smith (organ) and Jimmy Lovelace (drums). They signed fot Columbia and in 1966, the album, 'It’s Uptown' was released followed by The George Benson Cookbook (1967).


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Lonnie Smith released his debut album Finger Lickin’ Good for Columbia in 1966. The album featured George Benson (guitar), King Curtis (tenor saxophone) , Ronnie Cubet ( baritone sax) Blue Mitchell (trumpet) and Jimmy Lovelace on drums.


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In 1967, Smith met Lou Donaldson, who put him in contact with Blue Note Records then asked the quartet to record an album called Alligator Bogaloo. The album featured Lou Donaldson (alto sax) Melvine Lastie (cornet) George Benson (guitar), Lonnie Smith (organ) and drummer, Leo Morris (aka Idris Muhammad) .


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Determined to pursue a solo career he became a band leader and signed to Blue Note in 1968. Lonnie Smith recorded five albums between 1968-1070 for the label. These were: Think! (1968), Turning Point (1969), Move Your Hand (1970), Drives (1970), and Live at Club Mozambique (1970).


(Video Courtesy: Lonnie Smith - Topicby Youtube Channel)



(Video Courtesy: Lonnie Smith - Topic by Youtube Channel)


Lonnie Smith and a crew of sidemen toured extensively the northern states on North America during the 1970s playing smaller venues. He also adopted the stage title “Dr Lonnie Smith ." after fellow musicians credited him as the man to "doctor up" their music. Happy to differentiate himself from other musicians, Lonnie Smith was often seen weating different hats until finally he donned a turban in a theatrical gesture to his spiritual views on music. He performed at several prominent jazz festivals appearig with many jazz luminaries including Grover Washington Jr., Ron Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Donaldson, Ron Holloway, and Santana. He also played with musicians outside of jazz, such as Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Etta James.


( Dr Lonnie Smith Image via twitter )


When he left Blue Note, he made one album Mama Wailer which wa released on the Kudu label in 1971. Then after Dr Lonnie Smith took a break from recording.


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Lonnie Smith took a break from recording for four years then came back in 1975 with a series of four new albums contained a more free flowing Smith highlighting elements of Latin jazz, pop, soul and disco. Afro–desia (1975) and Keep on loving (1976) were released on the Groove Merchant label and the former produced by Sonny Lester Dr Lonnie Smith plays Fender Rhodes piano on the latter and provides vocal for the title track. .


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(Video Courtesy: Lonnie Smith - Topic by Youtube Channel)


He released the next two albums on Lester Radio Corporation ( LCR) label i.e. Funk Reaction followed by Gotcha. The former is still in the jazz funk and soul mode whereas the latter more dance orientated to fit the flavour of the time.


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(Video Courtesy: aquarianrealm by Youtube Channel)


Between 1979 and 2013 Dr Lonnie Smith made 15 albums released on several labels including his own Pilgrimage (2012-2013). The work featured mainly Smith on Hammond B3 organ but also playing piano in some pressings. During this time he worked with a variety of well-known artists includingbriefly with Marvin Gaye and Etta James, and in the studio with drummer Alvin Queen and guitarist Jimmy Pounder among many others. His recorded material ranged from soul-jazz and funky pop to groovy boogaloo. Within the body of work are several tributes to other luminaries including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix and Beck Hansen among others.


(Video Courtesy: Lonnie Smith - Topic Published by Youtube Channel)



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(Video Courtesy: Dr. Lonnie Smith - Topic Published by Youtube Channel)


Dr Lonnie Smith re-joined the Blue Note label in 2015 and released Evolution (2016) featuring special guests: Robert Glasper and Joe Lovano, The album was a showcase of funky jazz with a huge sound, driven by two drummers, and funky horns. Breathe, his next album was produced by Don Was, and recorded during his 75th birthday run at the Jazz Standard in NYC in 2017. In the same week he recorded All In My Mind (a triple album) including collaborations with Iggy Pop on vocals. Which was released in 2018.


(Video Courtesy: Dr. Lonnie Smith - Topic Published by Youtube Channel)



(Video Courtesy: Dr. Lonnie Smith - Topic Published by Youtube Channel)


The legendary keyboard player died in 2021 age of 79.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Barry St John ( 1943 – 2020)



(Barry St John Image via Discogs)


Elizabeth Thompson was born in the Gallowgate, Glasgow in 1943. She enjoyed singing from a young age and as a teenager joined the Ian Campbell & The Midnighters. Later she became vocalist and backup singer with Bobby Patrick Big 6 in 1961, before moving to London with the band in 1962. Bobby Patrick Big 6 were invited to tour American bases in Germany before taking up residence at the club, Hamburg where she took the stage name Barry St John. Despite the band making several pressings none contain the soulful voice of Barry St John


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Barry St. John' management encouraged her to leave the band and pursue a solo career in England. In 1964, she recorded her first single for Decca a cover of The Jarmels, ‘A little bit of soap’ and the’ B side’ was a cover of The Shirelle's 'Thing of the Past'. Both highlighed perfectly her soulful vocal stylings. Her follow up single, was a version of the Newbeats’ ‘Bread and butter’ made the German top 40 in 1964.


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In 1965, she had a minor UK hit with Chris Andew’s ‘Mind how you go’, but the follow up ‘Hey boy’ produced by Andrew Loog Oldham , failed to attract attention and Decca released her from contract.


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Barry moved to Columbia Records, and in 1965 she released an protest song, "Come Away Melinda", produced by Mickie Most and Mike Hurst. Although atypical of her work, the song came the closest to providing Barry with a UK hit and spent one week at number 47 in the UK charts. The B-side, ‘Gotta brand new man’, was more in her style and later became much in demand on the northern soul dance scene.


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After the more soulful, ‘Everything I touch turns to tears,’ (1966) failed to sell well she was released from her contract. The song has subsequently became popular with northern soul.


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In 1967, she joined The Krew, as lead vocalist and this brought her back to work with former The Bobby Patrick Big Six member, Archie Legget.


(The Krew Image via The Strange Brew )


The band made an album entiltled, ‘According To St. John, ‘ produced by Mike Pasternak, (aka Emperor Rosko), it was released on Major Minor label in 1968 and produced a couple of singles with little commercial interest.


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Barry St John was a very popular session singer and worked with Alexis Korner, Long John Baldry, and Duster Bennett in the late 1960s. Between 1972 and 1973 she was a member the Les Humphries Singers and later featured on backup in Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and Roger Glover's rock opera The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast (1974). She also sang backupon Andy Fairweather Low's, La Booga Rooga (1975).


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She worked in the studio with Bryan Ferry, and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel whilst carrying on with her solo career releasing several singles including 'My man,' (1974) and 'I won’t be a party' (1975).



In 1978, while touring with Johnny Hallyday, she met Greg MacGregor, a saxophonist, whom she later married in 1989. Barry St John continued her busy schedule into the early 1990s having worked with many pop luminaries including Elton John and Jorge Ben Jor.


(Video Courtesy: Ronnie Friend Published by Youtube Channel)


Barry St John left the muic industry to work as a legal assistant for law firms in south-east London. In 2007, following the removal of a kidney, she had a minor stroke and retired. Barry St John passed away in 2020.

Reviewed 07/10/2021