Very sorry to hear of the death of Danny Rivers
, a mainstay of many Tales From The Woods shows over the last decade. Born in Liverpool in 1942, he grew up in London and was discovered by Larry Parnes and Joe Meek at the age of 18. He toured with Johnny Burnette and many other big names of the day and appeared on the Wham TV show. Danny recorded some good quality rock and roll singles for Top Rank (produced by Dick Rowe), Decca and HMV (produced by Joe Meek) during the early sixties, all of which are now quite collectable. He was asked to perform at the first 2 Is show by Keith Woods and became a regular, appearing at the Rockin' at the 2 Is show in 2007, Rockin' At The TV Hop in 2008, and at smaller shows at the Water Rats in Kings Cross and at pubs in the West End and Ladbroke Grove, among others. Sporting jet black hair, his voice was well suited to Elvis numbers and he was particularly good on Little Sister. In the 2014 Tribute To Joe Meek show however, (see photo above) he varied his repertoire. I wrote at the time: 'Trying different material, with a Joe Meek connection, was Danny Rivers, who usually sticks to Elvis style numbers. This time he began with his jazzy Top Rank debut single Hawk and continued with some early recordings of his, including I'm Waiting For Tomorrow, Can You Hear My Heart, My Baby's Gone Away, We're Gonna Dance and the excellent Movin' On. Great to hear him sing his original numbers which showed what potential he had in his early days and what a good voice he continues to possess.'
Danny was one of the nicest guys around and it's a real shame that he's passed on.
Two more Memphis musicians have also died in the last week or so. William Brown
, who has died aged 69, was a founder member of the Mad Lads who recorded some great tracks for Stax during the late sixties, including Don't Have To Shop Around, I Want Someone, I Want A Girl and Patch My Heart. He went on to become a studio engineer at Stax (he was involved in Isaac Hayes's Shaft), Ardent and Royal Studios in Memphis. I well remember the occasion in 1998 when John Howard and I called into Royal Studios on spec, to be greeted at the door by Willie Mitchell himself. Willie introduced us to William who went out of his way to show us around the studio, playing some recently recorded gospel music. A delightful and very friendly guy. Then who should walk in but Otis Clay, accompanied by Scott Billington, for a recording session. A memorable visit.
Another Memphis musician who has died is Lewis Steinberg
, at the age of 82, who was the original bass player with Booker T and the MGs and played on Green Onions. He played on the first two Booker T LPs, Green Onions and Soul Dressing, and as part of the Stax house band, also played behind various other artists inclusing Otis Redding.
Thanks to Harry Grundy for alerting me to news of the death of Pat Upton
, lead singer of Spiral Staircase, best known for their 1969 US hit I Love You More Today Than Yesterday.
Another important music figure who has died is Gary S Paxton
, 77, who produced two of the best
novelty hits of the early sixties - Alley Oop and Monster Mash. Gary was Flip in Skip and Flip, who had success with It Was I, Fancy Nancy and Cherry Pie. He became an important, if rather weird, producer in LA and was involved with the Association, Paul Revere and the Raiders and Tommy Roe among others. Later he moved into the country field in Bakersfield and then into the gospel field, having become a born again Christian. He was shot by a country singer who he had upset, nearly ending his life, but he survived and continued to produce records.