Sunday, December 10, 2017

Otis Redding 50 years on


I have a 'pain in my heart' remembering Otis Redding on the 50th anniversary of his death. When Sam Cooke died in 1964 it was Otis who carried the flame so far as I was concerned, and it was his first UK 45 Pain In My Heart that first made an impact on me. His upbeat songs were great, but his slower ones were even better. Tracks like I've Been Loving You Too Long, My Lover's Prayer, Try A Little Tenderness, The Glory of Love and I've Got Dreams To Remember are achingly beautiful. There was no one quite like Otis, and Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay, despite me having heard it countless times, still has an impact.
I remember, of course, his TV appearances, on Ready Steady Go for example, but I treasure the memory of seeing him in 1967 on the Stax/Volt show at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon. I wrote at the time, in my review for the local paper: 'Suddenly there was Otis, doing his jigging routine on numbers like Mr Pitiful, Satisfaction and Shake. I could hear little because of the noise from the backing group and the crowd. It wasn't until he sang a couple of slow numbers, My Girl and I've Been Loving You Too Long, that I became really enthusiastic. On these, particularly the latter, he was brilliant. If anyone did not know before, they certainly knew then what soul music is all about. The climax of his act was Try A Little Tenderness, which started very slowly but became wilder and wilder.' 
Two years ago I visited Otis's home town of Gray, a few miles from Macon, Georgia. There's a plaque in Gray and a statue in a park in Macon. There's also a small museum in Macon dedicated to his memory. Here are some photos.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Christine, Johnny & the 2017 Death List

Every year at around this time the Vinyl Word includes a list of some of the music related people who have died during the year. As ever, this year's list is a long one and includes two rock and roll originators whose influence is still huge today, namely Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. Today saw the announcement of the deaths of two people who also had a big influence in their way - Christine Keeler and Johnny Hallyday. No doubt there will be more before the year ends.
Christine Keeler, who has died aged 75, was at the centre of the Profumo scandal in 1963 which
grabbed the attention of the nation and led to the resignation of a Cabinet minister and indirectly to the fall of Harold MacMillan's government. As a teenager I was fascinated by Christine and by Mandy Rice-Davies, avidly collecting any photos or news snippets that I could find. Among her lovers was another figure who died this year, Lucky Gordon, a Jamaican jazz musician who went on to work for Chris Blackwell at Island records. Lucky Gordon was attacked outside the Flamingo Club  in Soho by another player in the sordid affair, Johnny Edgecombe, so there are several links to music in this tale. Christine never came to terms with her notoriety and tried many times to put across her side of the affair. She was young when her affair started, just 19, and today she would be considered a victim. Then, however, she was regarded as just a prostitute. RIP Christine.
Johnny Hallyday, 74, was France's answer to Elvis and was the only convincing French rock and
roll singer of the sixties. His cover of Let's Twist Again was a big hit in Europe and he sold over 100 million albums during a lengthy career without ever becoming a big name in the US or UK.
And so, here is the Death List for 2017 (so far). Not surprisingly people who made their names in the fifties, sixties and even the seventies are now reaching the end of their lives. The Vinyl Word raises a glass to them all.
Greg Allman - Allman Brothers Band singer and musician; Tommy Allsupp - rockabilly musician and member of the Crickets; Jimmy Beaumont - lead singer with the Skyliners; Chuck Berry - the father of rock and roll; Big Cynthia - blues singer; Charles Bradley - Daptone soul man; Buddy Britten - UK skiffle and pop singer; Lonnie Brooks - blues guitarist also known as Guitar Junior; Sonny Burgess - Sun rockabilly artist; Glen Campbell - country star; David Cassidy - seventies teen idol; Larry Coryell - jazz guitarist; James Cotton - blues harmonica player; Cedell Davis - blues singer; Ronnie Davis - Jamaican reggae singer and member of the Tennors;  Johnny Daye - Stax recording artist; Fats Domino - New Orleans R and B originator; Jimmy Dotson - Louisiana blues singer; Raye Duval - British drummer; Bobby Freeman - rock and roll/R and B pioneer; J Geils - guitarist and leader of J Geils Band; Jack Good - creator of Oh Boy!, Boy Meets Girls and Shindig; Cuba Gooding Senior - soul singer with the Main Ingredient; Buddy Greco - jazz vocalist; Guitar Gable - swamp pop guitarist; Lucky Gordon; Tony Hall - UK sax player; Johnny HallydayRosie Hamlin - singer with Rosie and the Originals; Linda Hopkins - blues and gospel singer and actress; Richard Ingui - member of the Soul Survivors; Al Jarreau - jazz and R & B singer and musician; Brenda Jones - member of the Jones Girls; Christine Keeler; Robert Knight - soul man famous for Love On A Mountain Top; Willie Joe Ligon - leader of the Mighty Clouds of Joy; Earl Lindo - reggae musician and member of the Wailers; Tex Makins - skiffle player; Larry Marshall - reggae singer; Brian Matthew - influential DJ and TV presenter;  Maurice McAlister - Maurice and Mac and Radiants singer; D L Menard - king of Cajun music; Warren 'Pete' Moore - bass singer in the Miracles; Walter 'Junie' Morrison - Ohio Players member and P-Funk music director; Sylvia Moy - Motown singer and songwriter; Tom Paley - American folk singer; Anita Pallenberg - glamorous muse of the Stones; Frankie Paul - dancehall reggae artist; Tom Petty - singer/songwriter and member of the Travelling Wilburys; Sylvester Potts - member of the Contours; Della Reese - jazz and blues singer; Belton Richard - Cajun accordionist; Peter Sarstedt - British singer and brother of Eden Kane; John Schroeder - musician and record company executive; Bunny Sigler - Philly singer and record producer; Noel (Zoot) Simms - ska and reggae pioneer;  Peter Skellern - English singer/songwriter; Joni Sledge - member of Sister Sledge; Mick Softley - folk singer and guitarist; Clyde Stubblefield - James Brown's drummer; Tommy Tate - soul singer; Bobby Taylor - Motown artist and leader of the Vancouvers; Marvell Thomas - Memphis keyboardist and brother of Carla and Vaneese; Mel Tillis - country star; Thomas Tribble - jazz trumpeter; Robert 'Bilbo' Walker - blues singer/guitarist (pictured in 2013);  Leon Ware - soul songwriter and performer; Curtis Womack - brother of Bobby and member of the Valentinos;