Tuesday, February 27, 2018

There's No Other...Barbara Alston and others

As the snow sweeps in from the east and we freeze here in the UK (quite unusual these days), it's time I caught up on a few deaths in recent weeks. These include two guys who were members of the Woodies roots music group, of which I am also a member, and who will be sadly missed.
But first, some music legends who have passed away. Barbara Alston, who has died aged 74, was the first lead singer of the Crystals and took the lead on There's No Other (Like My Baby), Uptown and the controversial He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss). Without asking, Phil Spector handed the group's name to Darlene Love and the Blossoms for He's A Rebel as the real Crystals were touring, and the naturally shy Barbara handed over the role of lead singer to La La Brooks, who still performs today and looks fantastic, for Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me and other later tracks. Barbara left the group in 1965, but her importance in one of the greatest of all girl groups cannot be underestimated.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yddyrxU0HwI
Eddy Amoo, who has died aged 73, grew up in the largely black area of Toxteth, Liverpool 8, a place
I knew well in the seventies before it was largely destroyed by the 1981 riots, and formed the doowop group the Chants. Although they never had a major hit, Pye releases such as I Don't Care, I Could Write A Book and Sweet Was The Wine attracted quite a lot of interest and the band was popular in Liverpool, even having the Beatles back them on occasions. Eddie's brother Chris formed his own band The Real Thing in 1975 and won Opportunity Knocks on TV. Eddy joined the band and they had huge disco hits with You To Me Are Everything and Can't Get By Without You. Later hits such as You'll Never Know What You're Missing, Love's A Wonderful Thing and Can You Feel The Force, were written by the Amoo brothers.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPtYAggDOx8
Another death is that of Martin Willis, a Sun stalwart, who played sax with Billy Lee Riley and Bill Black's Combo. Martin began his career playing with Conway Twitty when he was still known as Harold Jenkins, and toured with him before becoming part of Sam Phillips' Sun stable.
Woodie Cliff White (left) was an award winning soul music journalist whose name can be found on the sleeve notes of any number of Charly compilations, from the Tams to the Showmen, and who was responsible for the ground breaking James Brown Star Time box set, for which he won a Grammy. He wrote for New Musical Express and Black Music, among other titles, and was just about the most knowledgeable soul man I've ever met - and I've met a few. A great loss, aged 72.
And now I hear that one of our American Woodies, Jay McCaddin has died. Jay lived in Mobile, Alabama, and, as a former Navy man, dressed in full naval uniform when he attended the Rhythm Riot a few years ago. I met up with Jay in the States on several occasions, including the 2013 Ponderosa Stomp and at a bar in Oceans Springs a couple of years later. Another great loss. The photo below shows Jay with me outside the Prytania Hotel in New Orleans in 2013.
The Vinyl Word raises its traditional glass to them all, and to crooner Vic Damone, who has also died aged 89.


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