Here are current stories about Oldies Artists in the News:
Gary Glitter (whose real name is Paul Gadd) was sentenced to 16 years in prison by a London Judge Friday (February 27) for six sexual offenses committed between 1975 and 1980 with girls between the ages of 12 and 14. He had been found guilty February 5 of one count of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault and one of having sex with a girl under the age of 13.
Willie C. Jackson, the last original member of the Spaniels, died February 18. He was 79. The Gary, Indiana native had been receiving kidney dialysis treatments but performed regularly until a few months ago. The group, formed at Roosevelt High School in Gary in 1952, is best remembered for the classic "Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite" (#5 R&B-1954).
A tree dedicated to the memory of George Harrison will be re-planted Wednesday (February 25) in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. It replaces one ironically destroyed last year by-- beetles. The date was mistakenly chosen to co-incide with the Beatle's 72nd birthday which, according to George's own discovery shortly before he died, is actually Tuesday.
The 20th "season" of "Dancing With The Stars" on ABC-TV was announced Tuesday (February 24). 70 year-old Patti Labelle will join ten other celebrities, including Suzanne Somers, Rumer Willis, Redfoo, Riker Lynch and football player Michael Sam in the competition.
Marlene Judy Barrow-Tate of Motown's Andantes died Monday (February 23) of undisclosed causes at the age of 73. The girls-- including Louvain Demps and Jacqueline Hicks-- formed as children at Detroit's Hartford Avenue Baptist Church. They not only sang backup on many of the label's hits (they, not the other Supremes, were the singers with Diana Ross on "Someday We'll Be Together" and sang on Mary Wells' "My Guy," Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and "Reach Out, I'll Be There" by the Four Tops, just to name a few), they even backed-up non-Motown tunes like Jackie Wilson's "Higher And Higher" and the Dell's re-recording of "Stay In My Corner." The trio was inducted this year into the R&B Hall of Fame. Their biography, "Motown from The Background, The Andantes Biography" by Vickie Wright, was published in 2007.
Protofeminist singer/songwriter Lesley Gore died Monday (February 16) of cancer in a Manhattan, New York hospital. She was 68. Born in Manhattan and raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, Lesley was reportedly discovered in 1963 at the age of 16 while singing at an event at a New York hotel by Mercury Records Music Director Quincy Jones, who signed her to the label and produced her personally. Her first record, "It's My Party" that year, topped the national charts for two weeks (rushed into release to beat a Phil Spector-produced version by the Crystals). In turn it was followed by "Judy's Turn To Cry" (#5-1963), "She's A Fool" (#5-1964) "You Don't Own Me" (#2-1964, "Maybe I Know" (#14-1964), "That's The Way Boys Are" (#12-1964) and "Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows" (#13-1965). She sang the latter in the movie "Ski Party." Lesley also sang "California Nights" (#16-1967) as Catwoman's sidekick, Pussycat, on an episode of ABC-TV's "Batman" (her uncle was a producer of the show). Moving on to Sarah Lawrence College put her career on the back burner, but she wrote the song "Out Here On My Own" with her brother, Michael for the movie "Fame" in 1980. It became a #19 hit for Irene Cara. An acknowledged lesbian, she hosted the PBS series "In the Life" which dealt with LGBT issues in 1992. Lesley was working on a stage musical surrounding her life when she died.
David Cassidy filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday (Febraury 11) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, citing reported assets-- and debts-- of up to $10 million. In a statement, the one-time "Partridge Family" TV star stated the action was, "necessary for practical reasons to reorganize my life as I go through divorce and to restructure my finances."
The Motown songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Friday (February 13). Berry Gordy, Mary Wilson of the Supremes and Stevie Wonder were on hand for the ceremony.
Big Brother & the Holding Company founder and lead guitarist Sam Andrew died Thursday (February 12) after suffering a heart attack several weeks ago. He was 73. With Big Brother he recorded the classic "Piece Of My Heart" (#12) in 1968, but left the group along with Janis Joplin in 1968 to form her Kozmic Blues Band. However, Sam returned the following year and even served as the group's musial director in recent years. He also recorded solo and scored several motion pictures.
A Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco revived a lawsuit Tuesday (February 10) filed by the widow of the ghostwriter of Four Seasons member Tommy DeVito's unpublished biography. The suit, filed against Seasons songwriters Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, contends that the "Jersey Boys" Broadway musical and movie was based on her late husband's book and she should share in the profits. While a lower court ruled against her, the latest ruling sent that decision back for further proceedings.
The 2015 Grammy Awards were handed out Sunday (February 8) in Los Angeles. Congratulations to Glen Campbell, winner of Best Country Song for "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from his Alzheimer's Disease documentary, "I'll Be Me." "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" took home the award for Musical Theatre Album. "20 Feet From Stardom" (with Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and others) was saluted as Best Music Film. And Tony Bennett (with Lady Gaga) won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for "Cheek To Cheek."
Crickets bassist Joe B. Mauldin died Saturday (February 7) of cancer in Nashville at the age of 74. The Lubbock, Texas native played on such tunes as "Maybe Baby" (#17-1958) and "Oh Boy!" (#10-1958) with the Crickets as well as those credited to Buddy Holly like "Peggy Sue" (#3-1957). He also wrote tunes like "Well... All Right" (1958) and "I'm Gonna Love You Too" (1957). After Army service in the mid '60s, Joe became a recording engineer in Los Angeles and Nashville. He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and are also in the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock and the Music City Walk of Fame.
Anita Darian, the uncredited high voiced background singer on the Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (#1-1961) died Sunday, February 1 of complications from intestinal surgery at a hospital in Oceanside, New York. She was 87. Her credits also included singing behind Mickey & Sylvia on their 1957 #11 hit, "Love Is Strange." Primarily though, she sang opera, light opera and musicals in New York City.
Dionne Warwick was discharged Thursday (February 5) from a South Orange, New Jersey hospital after ankle surgery following a January 24 fall in the shower of her home there.
Details are sketchy, but it's been learned that Richard Davis of the Willows quintet, who gave us the original "Church Bells May Ring" (#62-1956), passed away on February 2.
Rock Hall of Fame guitarist James Burton will be the Grand Marshal of this year's Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras parade in Shreveport, Louisiana on February 14th. It's also been learned that James (sideman for Elvis, Ricky Nelson and on songs like Dale Hawkins' "Suzie-Q") was given the Golden Meritorious award of Austria, it's highest civilian award, on December 9 in Vienna for his contributions to music and high character.
Don Covay, leader of Don Covay & the Goodtimers, reportedly passed away Saturday (January 31) at the age of 76. Born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, his family moved to Washington, DC in the '50s where he sang in their gospel group before moving on to secular music with the Rainbows (a group that also included Marvin Gaye and Billy Stewart) in 1955. In 1957, Don joined Little Richard's Revue as a solo artist (while driving Richard's limousine) and in 1960 he formed the Goodtimers. His composition, "Pony Time," reached #60 in 1961, though it was a #1 hit later that year by Chubby Checker. Recording both with and without the Goodtimers, Don had a spotty recording career. His song "Seesaw" (written with Steve Cropper) got to #44 in 1965, but was a top ten hit for Aretha Franklin. Other chart appearances for Don included "The Popeye Waddle" (#75, 1963), "Mercy, Mercy" (#35-1964) and "I Was Checkin' Out She Was Checkin' In" (#29-1973. As a composer, he penned such hits as Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Letter Full Of Tears" (#19-1962), Aretha's "Chain Of Fools" (##2-1967) and "Sookie Sookie" (the B-side of Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride" in 1968). Don also performed with Solomon Burke, Arthur Conley, Ben E. King and Joe Tex as the Soul Clan on "Soul Meeting" (#91) in 1968. Don received a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm And Blues Foundation in 1994.
Poet and recording artist Rod McKuen died Thursday (January 29) at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills at the age of 81. He had been suffering from pneumonia. Born in Oakland, California in 1933, he recorded nine albums of poetry that made the national charts. His only single to chart under his own name, "Oliver Twist," reached #76 in 1962 but his novelty tune, "The Mummy," as "Dor" ("Rod" spelled backwards) of Bob McFadden and Dor, eeked into the top 40 (pun intended) at #39 in 1959. Rod also wrote the English lyrics for "Seasons In The Sun" (#1 in 1974 for Terry Jacks), for "Love's Been Good To Me" (#75 in 1969 for Frank Sinatra) and "Jean" (a #2 song in 1969 for Oliver). The latter earned him an Oscar nomination (and a Golden Globe) for the film, "The Pride Of Miss Jean Brodie." Rod also was nominated for an Academy Award for the animated film, "A Boy Called Charlie Brown."
Sly Stone was awarded $5 million dollars in damages Tuesday (January 27) by a Los Angeles superior court in a breach-of-contract lawsuit against his ex-manager, his ex-attorney and the company they all owned together. Sly says he assigned his royalty rights to the company in 1989 in the hopes of revitalizing his career but never saw his money. An appeal is expected.
Peter Tork of the Monkees received the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts & Humanities award from Orchestra Kentucky Tuesday (January 27). The award is given annually to a person who has made a "significant contribution" to the ats and humanities. Previous winners have included Neil Sedaka, Chuck Barris and Keith Emerson. Peter's composition, Moderato Ma Non Troppo, was premiered by the orchestra the night before.
71 year-old Joni Mitchell is the new "face" of Yves Saint Laurent's Music Project Spring fashion campaign. She was photographed for the campaign at her home in Bel Air, California January 8. Previous models have included Marianne Faithfull and Marilyn Manson.
Songwriter Rose Marie McCoy-- who co-wrote such hits as Elvis' "Trying To Get To You" and "I Beg Of You," Nappy Brown's "Don't Be Angry" and Ike & Tina Turner's "It's Gonna Work Out Fine"-- died at her home in Champaign, Illinois January 20 at the age of 92. The Oneida, Arkansas native (who moved to Teaneck, New Jersey to work in New York's Brill Building) had her biography, "Thought We Were Writing the Blues: But They Called It Rock" by Arlene Corsano, published last year.
Marianne Faithfull has been forced to re-schedule concert dates in February, March and April until Fall as she recovers from scheduled surgery in Paris to alleviate an infection in the prosthesis from a broken hip that she received last year.
73 year-old Bob Dylan is giving away 50,000 copies of his newest album, filled with his versions of Frank Sinatra standards. Physical copies of "Shadows In The Night" will be included in random subscription copies of the February/March issue of "AARP: The Magazine."
Our sympathies to Melissa Manchester, whose mother, Ruth died Wednesday (January 21) at the age of 93.
Dallas Taylor, acclaimed drummer with Crosby, Stills, Nash-- and Young (including a performance at Woodstock), who went on to play with Paul Butterfield and Van Morrison, died Sunday (January 18) in a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 66. Dallas had undergone a liver transplant in 1990. In later years, he worked as a drug interventionist. His autobiography, "Prisoner Of Woodstock," was published in 1994.
A jury in Syracuse, New York Friday (January 16) found Rick Springfield not guilty in a civil case concerning a 2004 concert at the New York State Fair where Rick fell off a chair allegedly knocking a woman unconscious, she said, with his derriere.
Secretary of State John Kerry visited Paris Friday (January 16) to show the U.S.' support to the French people after recent terrorist attacks. And he brought out James Taylor, who was in the country to promote an upcoming tour, to sing "You've Got A Friend." The Obama administration has taken heat in recent days for skipping a solidarity rally with other world leaders last Sunday.
NBC-TV announced plans Friday (January 16) for an 8-hour mini-series centering around the Underground Railroad. The production will also be made into a Broadway musical. Stevie Wonder is the project's executive producer and he may write the score for it, as well.
The network also announced Friday that it will develop a series of TV movies around Dolly Parton's songs and life, with her as a producer. The network's entertainment chairman was the executive producer of the Broadway adaptation of Dolly's "9 to 5" song and movie.
Producer, writer and performer Kim Fowley died in Los Angeles Thursday (January 15) of bladder cancer at the age of 75. He is credited with writing B.Bumble & the Stingers' "Nutrocker" (based on a Tchaikovsky piece), publishing "Diamonds And Pearls' by the Paradons, promoting Skip & Flip's "Cherry Pie" and producing such acts as the Hollywood Argyles, Murmaids, Paul Revere, Seeds, Gene Vincent, Helen Reddy and Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids. His greatest achievement would be creating, managing and producing the all-girl Runaways. His autobiography, "Lord Of Garbage" (first of three planned books,) was published in 2012.
Trevor Ward-Davies, founding member, bass guitarist and the "Dozy" in Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, died in a London hospital Tuesday (January 13) following what was described as a "short illness." He was 70. Though the Willshire group had two million-sellers in Britain, eight songs in the top ten and reached #1 with "The Legend of Xanadu," their only American chart appearance was "Zabadak" (#52-1968).
Curtis Lee, best remembered for his early Phil Spector production of "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" (#7) in 1961, died Thursday (January 8) of cancer while visiting doctors in San Diego. The Yuma, Arizona native was 75. Groomed to be a teen idol after Elvis went into the Army (he had previously recorded three singles while still in his teens in Arizona as well as two more in Hollywood), Curtis was signed by Ray Peterson's Dunes Records in New York in 1960. However, his early recordings-- including the bubbling-under "Pledge Of Love" (#110-1961)-- made no one forget the King. Dunes pulled out all the stops for Curtis on "Angel Eyes" though, getting Tommy Boyce to write it (based on a title suggestion by Curtis), Phil to produce it (Spector had also produced Ray's version of "Corrina Corrina") and pairing him with the Halos ("Nag") for the catchy background. Phil also produced the follow-up, "Under The Moon Of Love" (#46-1961) but without him, Curtis was back to bubbling-under on "Just Another Fool" (#110-1962) and soon he and Dunes parted company, leaving him as just another one-hit wonder. In later years, he became a home builder in Yuma.
Ray Gipson, first tenor with the G-Clefs died Sunday (January 4), following what was described as a "lengthy illness" at his home in Danvers, Massachusetts. He was 77. Born in Georgia, his family moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he hooked up with the four Scott brothers-- Teddy, Chris, Timmy and Arnold. Together, the quintet charted with "I Understand" (#9-1961) and "Ka-Ding-Dong" (#24-1956 with Ray on lead). Ray later led his own Ray Gipson band for many years.
Jo Jo Benson, who charted four times with Peggy Scott, died December 23 of apparently natural causes. His body was discovered in a motel room in Columbus, Georgia. The Phenix City, Georgia native was 77 and been suffering from uncontrolled diabetes. Jo Jo and Peggy met when they booked separate recording sessions in 1968 in the same studio in Jackson, Mississippi. A songwriter came in with a tune he said would be perfect for them as a duo. One take later, the duo had recorded "Lover's Holiday" (#31), which was soon to be followed up by "Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries" (#27-1968) and "Soulshake" (#37-1969). The two split up in 1971 and Jo Jo went on to sing backup for other artists as well as own several nightclubs in the Chattahoochee Valley, including one called Lover's Holiday. He was seriously injured when masked gunmen robbed a high-stakes Phenix City poker game in 1979, but survived.
David Cassidy has won a three-year legal battle with Sony Pictures who, he says, used his image in licensing products from the "Partridge Family" TV show without compensation. However, an arbitrator awarded him only $157,964.84, not the over $1 million he asked for. He filed a request with the court to confirm the decision, but tack on arbitration fees and interest, which would amount to over $90,000 more.
It's been learned that Albeth Paris (Grass), alto singer and oldest member of the Paris Sisters, died December 5. The San Francisco native was most likely in her upper '70s. Most recently she had been handling Publicity for the Coachella Valley, California Repertory Theatre Company. Initially an "Andrews Sisters" clone, Albeth and her sisters Priscilla and Sherrell were the youngest group signed by Decca Records when they were inked to a contract in 1954. Despite singing with Gary Crosby and Frank Sinatra, they achieved little success. That is, until the girls came to the attention of producer Phil Spector, who signed them to Gregmark Records in 1961. Phil's production of their first single, "Be My Boy," was a modest hit (#56-1961) but their second record, "I Love How You Love Me" (#5-1961), not only was a big hit for the girls but established Phil's credentials as a producer. The patented "Wall of Sound" included eight over-dubbed violins. Yet the followup, "He Knows I Love Him Too Much," only reached #34 the next year and Phil began concentrating on other "girl groups" like the Ronettes and Crystals. The sisters appeared twice more in the lower reaches of the charts before disappearing completely in 1964. The group appeared in the British film, "It's Trad Dad" ("Ring A Ding Rhythm" in the U.S.) in 1962.
Country singer "Little" Jimmy Dickens, best-known for "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," died Friday (January 2) in a Nashville area hospital at the age of 94. He had suffered a stroke on Christmas Day. A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1948, the 4'11" Jimmy appeared 19 times on the country charts and performed in Nashville five days before his stroke.
Henry Strzelecki, Nashville session bass player and composer of the Murry Kellum hit, "Long Tall Texan," died Tuesday (December 30) of injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident while he was walking December 23. The Birmingham, Alabama native was 75 and played on over 500 top ten Country hits.
England's Queen Elizabeth II announced her annual New Year honours Tuesday (December 30-- honours are also given out for her "birthday" in June). Among those on the list is producer/singer Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon), who will receive the Commander of the Order of the British Empire medal for "services to the British music industry." Other big names include actor John Hurt, who will be knighted, actresses Kristen Scott Thomas and Joan Collins and '60s fashion designer Mary Quant, who will be made "Dames" and actress Emily Watson, who will receive the Officer of the Order of the British Empire, as will James Corden, new host of the Late Late Show on CBS-TV.
The Pop Music Hall of fame in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania announced its third class of inductees Tuesday (December 23). Congratulations to Linda Ronstadt (top vote-getter), Paul McCartney, Ricky Nelson, Chubby Checker, Glen Campbell, the Four Seasons, the Everly Brothers, Paul Anka, The Eagles, Tom Jones, the Righteous Brothers, Johnny Tillotson and Andy Williams. Les Paul & Mary Ford will also be inducted as influences on pop music.
John Robert "Joe" Cocker died Monday (December 22) of lung cancer at his Colorado home at the age of 70. Born in Sheffield, England, he formed a skiffle group there at the age of 16 and one year later began performing in British pubs- eventually opening for the Rolling Stones. By 1964 he earned a brief contract as a solo artist with Decca Records to little success. He continued on though, and in 1968 recorded a #1 tune in England with his version of the Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends" (#68- US). Joe was asked to perform at Woodstock and afterwards, "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" from his second album earned him his first American hit (#30-1970). Joe's "Mad Dogs And Englishmen" tour yielded a live album and a #7 single- a cover of the Box Tops' "The Letter" in 1970. Other hits included "Cry Me A River" (#11-1970), "Feeling Alright" (#33-1972) and the Billy Preston composition, "You Are So Beautiful" (#5) in 1975. His biggest American hit was a duet with Jennifer Warnes, "Up Where We Belong", from the movie "An Officer And A Gentleman" (#1-1982), which the two performed at the Academy Awards. Joe is remembered by many from John Belushi's imitations on television's "Saturday Night Live" and the two famously performed together on the show in 1976.
Darlene Love will sing the national anthem Sunday (December 28) before the National Football League game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Elton John formally married his partner, David Furnish, in a ceremony at their London estate Sunday (December 21). The two were joined in a civil ceremony nine years ago.
Stevie Wonder and his girlfriend Tomeeka welcomed their second child (his ninth overall), daughter Nia, on December 17. The 64 year-old Stevie chose the name because it means "purpose," one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
George Harrison and the Bee Gees are among those who will receive Lifetime Achievement Grammy awards February 7, a day before the actual Grammys are handed out. For George and Robin & Maurice Gibb, the award will be posthumous. Also scheduled to be honored are bluesman Buddy Guy, jazz artist Wayne Shorter, country duo the Louvin Brothers, composer Pierre Boulez and Tejano music accordionist Flaco. The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences also announced that Trustees Awards, to non-performers, will go to composers Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and producer Richard Perry. On February 6, Bob Dylan will be honored as the Academy's MusiCares Person of the Year by its charitable arm.
Larry Henley, falsetto lead singer with the Newbeats on their hits "Bread And Butter" (#2-1964), "Run, Baby, Run" (#12-1965) and "Everything's Alright" (#16-1964), died Thursday (December 18) in Nashville. The Arp, Texas native was 77 and had been suffering from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases. Larry joined with Dean & Mark (Mathis) who had a hit with their version of "Tell Him No" (42) in 1959 to form the trio, which charted ten times themselves. Larry later became a well-respected songwriter, best known for Bette Midler's hit, "Wind Beneath My Wings" (#1-1989). He also co-wrote Tanya Tucker's crossover country hit, "Lizzie And The Rainman," (#37 Pop, #1 Country) from 1975. Larry was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Library of Congress announced 25 more additions to its National Film Registry Wednesday (December 17), bringing to 650 the number of films so honored. Among this year's honorees are "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which re-introduced the Beatles' "Twist And Shout" to moviegoers, "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory," whose theme, "The Candy Man," was a hit for Sammy Davis, Jr. and "Rio Bravo", co-starring Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin and John Wayne.
Forbes magazine has come out with its list of the highest paid musicians for the year (actually June-to-June) and the Eagles come in at #3 with $100 million. Bruce Springsteen is #5 with $81 million, Paul McCartney #8 at $71 million, the Rolling Stones come in at #19 with $47 million, followed by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd at $46 million and Elton John #21 with $45 million. For the record, Dr. Dre tops the list at $620 million, mainly from the sale of his Beats company to Apple. #2 is Beyonce with a paltry $115 million.
Bill Withers and Lou Reed are among the 2015 inductees into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, announced Tuesday (December 16), along with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joan Jett. The "5" Royales will be enshrined as an early influence and Ringo Starr (already in the Hall as a Beatle) is being honored for musical excellence. Enshinement will take place April 8 in Cleveland.
In addition, the Hall has added 15 singles and 12 albums to raise the number of recordings honored to 987. The list includes "Big Girls Don't Cry" from the Four Seasons, Bobby Fuller's "I Fought The Law," "Rescue Me" from Fontella Bass, "Sixty Minute Man" by the Dominoes, "Tell It Like It Is" from Aaron Neville, Alice Cooper's "School's Out" and "Dancing Queen" by ABBA.
Mildred "Millie" Kirkham, the original high soprano backup singer on Elvis Presley studio recordings and in concert, died Sunday (December 14) after suffering a stroke in her Nashville home earlier in the week. She was 91. Kathy Westmoreland replaced her onstage in 1970, but Millie can be seen in the documentary "Elvis: That's The Way It Is." Millie's voice can be heard on such Elvis tunes as "Blue Christmas," "Don't," "The Wonder Of You," and "Surrender" and she also sang on hits like "Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison and "I'm Sorry" from Brenda Lee. While some dispute it, it is most-likely Millie who continues singing her part flawlessly while Elvis beaks up in the infamous laughing concert version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" from 1969.
Details are sketchy, but it's been learned that Raoul Cita, arranger, writer, director, pianist and baritone/bass singer with the Harptones of "Sunday Kind Of Love" and "Life Is But A Dream" fame, has died of cancer. Raoul wrote "Life Is But A Dream' and the group's only pop chart tune, "What Will I Tell My Heart" (#96-1961). Formed in Harlem, the Harptones were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2009.
Edward "Sonny" Bivins, founder and baritone (sometimes tenor) singer with the Manhattans, died Wednesday (December 3) in his sleep at his home at the age of 78. Then, Winfred "Blue" Lovett, bass singer (sometimes lead) of the group died Tuesday (December 9) at the age of 74. Born in Macon, Georgia, Sonny's family moved to Jersey City, New Jersey where he started the group following service in the National Guard and Air Force along with Jersey native Blue, George "Smitty" Smith, Kenneth "Wally" Kelly and Richard "Ricky" Taylor-- who had all graduated from two local high schools (Sonny and Blue had gone to Lincoln High there). An earlier version of the group had recorded for Asnes Records in 1961 as the Dorsets (mis-spelled from Dulcets), but it was winning the Apollo Theatre talent contest in 1964 that earned the Manhattans (named after the cocktail) a contract with Carnival Records and their first chart record, "I Wanna Be (Your Everything)" (#68 Pop, #12 R&B, written by Blue) a year later. It was the first of 25 Pop and 45 R&B chart tunes. Though the Manhattans achieved steady, if unspectacular success in the '60s on Carnival and King subsidiary DeLuxe Records, it was their move to Columbia Records in 1972 (with Gerald Alston replacing Smitty who had died two years earlier) that eventually launched them as shining stars, including hits like "Shining Star" (#5 Pop, #4 R&B - 1980), "Kiss And Say Goodbye" (#1 Pop and R&B - 1976, written by Blue) and "There's No Me Without You" (#43 Pop, #3 R&B - 1973). Sonny was honored with the key to the city of Atlanta in 1999.
Grammy Award nominations were announced Friday (December 4). Congratulations to Glen Campbell, nominated for Best Country Song for "I'm Not Gonna Miss You." Others nominated include Gregg Allman, Tom Petty, Steve Martin, Gloria Gaynor, the film "Twenty Feet From Stardom," the soundtrack to the movie "Get On Up: The James Brown Story" and the soundtrack to the Broadway musical "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." Winners will be announced February 8.
Bob Montgomery, who sang in a duo with Buddy Holly for awhile before Buddy went solo, died Thursday (December 4) at the age of 77. He had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Besides some of Buddy's songs, including "Love's Made A Fool Of You," Bob also wrote the standard "Misty Blue" (#3 in 1976 for Dorothy Moore). The Lampasas, Texas native also performed solo on Brunswick Records and in a duo with his first wife, Carol on Warner Brothers. He later became a successful country producer (many of Bobby Goldsboro's hits, including "Honey") and publisher ("Behind Closed Doors" and "Wind Beneath My Wings") and was once head of United Artists' country division. His son, Kevin was an artist with A&M Records. Bob was a pall bearer at Buddy's funeral in 1959.
Bobby Keys, who played saxophone with the Rolling Stones ("Brown Sugar"), Dion ("The Wanderer"), John Lennon ("Whatever Gets You Through The Night"), Joe Cocker ("Cry Me A River"), George Harrison ("What Is Life") and many others, died of cirrhosis of the liver Tuesday (December 2) at his Franklin, Tennessee home at the age of 70. As a teen the Slaton, Texas native toured with such artists as Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox and Bobby Vee. Bobby's autobiography, "Every Night's a Saturday Night," was published in 2012.
On Wednesday (December 3), Ian McLagan, keyboardist and member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame with (Small) Faces, died in an Austin, Texas hospital following a stroke suffered two days earlier. He was 69. Ian had also worked extensively with the Rolling Stones and fronted his own band in recent years. He authored his own life story, "All the Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock & Roll History," in 2000.
Al Byron, who co-wrote the tune "Roses Are Red (My Love)" with Paul Evans, died Saturday (November 29) . The tune was a number-one hit for Bobby Vinton in 1962. Al also wrote the lyrics for Paul's "Happy-Go-Lucky-Me" (#10-1960)and Elvis Presley's "Something Blue."