Here are current stories about Oldies Artists in the News:
Maurice White, drummer, songwriter, producer and founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire, died in his sleep Thursday morning (February 4) at the age of 74. He had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease since 1992. Born in Memphis, he moved to Chicago as a teen and worked as a session drummer at Chess Records, providing rhythm for such artists as the Impressions, Etta James, Muddy Waters and the Dells. He impressed Ramsey Lewis enough that he was asked to replace "Red" Holt in Ramsey's trio in 1966, playing on nine albums. Maurice himself left in 1969 and briefly formed the Salty Peppers before moving to Los Angeles and evolving the Peppers into Earth, Wind & Fire, along with brother Verdine (and later, brother Fred) and vocalist Philip Bailey. The group started slowly with R&B hits (co-written by Maurice) like "Love Is Life" (#43 R&B, #93 Pop - 1971), "Mighty Mighty" (#4 R&B, #29Pop - 1974) and "Devotion" (#23 R&B, #33 Pop - 1974) but broke wide open with 1975's "Shining Star (#1 Pop & R&B). Other hits followed, including "That's The Way Of The World" (#12 Pop, #5 R&B - 1975), "Sing A Song" (#5 Pop, #1 R&B - 1976), "Got To Get You Into My Life" (#9 Pop, #1 R&B - 1978), "September (#8 Pop, #1 R&B - 1979) and "Boogie Wonderland" (#6 Pop, #2 R&B R&B - 1979). Maurice, who retired from touring with the group in 1992, also produced artists like the Emotions, Deniece Williams, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. EWF was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004 and Maurice himself entered the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.
Joe Dowell, the Bloomington, Illinois singer best-remembered for his #1 hit in 1961, "Wooden Heart," died Thursday (February 4) after suffering a heart attack days earlier. He was 76. Born in Bloomington Indiana, he moved to the Illinois town of the same name as a child. He was discovered while performing as a student at the University of Illinois at Champaign and signed to Smash Records in Chicago, where his first session (held in Nashville with Ray Stevens as a session player) included the Elvis Presley tune, "Wooden Heart" from his movie, "G.I Blues" (which Elvis had released in Europe but not America). Despite being snubbed by mighty WLS in Chicago in favor of Gus Backus' version (Gus had sung with the Del-Vikings), the song topped the charts nationwide. "The Bridge Of Love" was less successful, topping out at #50 in 1961, though "Little Red Rented Rowboat" did better at #23 the next year. Denied the chance to record his own compositions, Joe left Smash for Monument Records, then started his own label, Journey-- eventually becoming a gospel singer.
Van Morrison was officially knighted (as "Sir Ivan") by Prince Charles in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace Thursday (February 4). Said Van," "It's amazing, it's very exhilarating, the whole thing. For 53 years I've been in the business-- that's not bad for a blue-eyed soul singer from East Belfast."
Bobby "Crow" Caldwell, organist with Terry Knight & the Pack, has died at his home in Gainesville. The group started when Terry Knight, a Flint, Michigan DJ, heard a local group called the Jazzmasters featuring Bobby. Re-naming them the Pack after the Shangri-Las "Leader Of The Pack", he gave up radio to front the group in 1966. While they "bubbled under" the charts four times, they are still remembered for their re-make of the Ben E. King song, "I (Who Have Nothing)" (#46-1967). More importantly, Grand Funk Railroad was formed by two of the members (but not Bobby), with Terry as their original manager. He should not be confused with the singer who gave is "What You Won't Do For Love" in 1979. Terry Knight & the Pack were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2008.
Despite rumors to the contrary all over the Internet, Joe Rivers, one half of the Bronx singing duo of Johnnie and Joe, is alive and ready to celebrate his 79th birthday next month! This has been confirmed by Joe himself.
Paul Kantner, founder, vocalist and rhythm guitarist with Jefferson Airplane/Starship and its successor, the KBC Band, died Thursday (January 28) after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week of multiple organ failure and septic shock. The San Francisco native was 74. The Airplane formed when Paul and Marty Balin met at a San Francisco nightclub and decided to form a folk/rock group. With the addition of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, drummer Skip Spence (soon replaced by Spencer Dryden) and bass player Jack Casady, they came to the attention of Bill Graham, who managed and promoted the group in his Fillmore club. It was upon the replacement of original lead singer Signe Anderson with Grace Slick that the group took off, charting with "Somebody To Love" (#5-1967") and "White Rabbit" (#8-1967), both of which Grace had written and performed with her previous group, the Great Society. Jefferson Airplane's performances at the Monterey Pop Festival, the infamous Altamont Raceway Festival and at Woodstock solidified their reputation as rock superstars. From 1969 to 1975, Paul and Grace were in a relationship, which resulted in the birth of their daughter China (nee "god"). In 1974, the name of their group was changed to Jefferson Starship and hits continued, like "Miracles" (#3-1975), "Count On Me" (#8-1976) and "Jane" (#14-1980). Paul suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1980, but made a full recovery. The group however, split in 1985, with Grace Slick remaining in the newly-renamed Starship, and Paul, Marty and Jack then forming the KBC Band. KBC had one chart single, "It's Not You, It's Not Me" (#89) in 1986 (while Starship went on to three #1 hits). The Airplane was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
The same day, the Airplane's original lead singer, Signe Anderson died at age 74. She sang on "Jefferson Airplane Takes Off" before she quit to raise her child. Moving to her native Oregon and continued to perform until health problems caught up with her. She can also be heard on the live album, "Jefferson Airplane: Live at The Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66 Signe's Farewell."
Steely Dan's Donald Fagen appeared in a New York courtroom Monday (January 25) and agreed to "an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal" in his misdemeanor assault case involving his wife. If he stays out of trouble for the next year, the charges will likely be dropped. Donald was arrested January 4 after allegedly grabbing and pushing his wife during a domestic dispute. An order of protection remains in effect.
Darlene Love filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal district court Tuesday (January 19) against Google for using her performance of "It's A Marshmallow World" in a holiday TV commercial for their Nexxus Smartphone without her permission. She is claiming damages of over $75,000.
Bette Midler announced Tuesday (January 19) that she will star on Broadway in a new production of "Hello Dolly", which should open April 20, 2017. The 70 year-old Bette will play the title character.
Glenn Frey, guitarist, songwriter and vocalist with the Eagles, died Monday (January 18) a month after his health sidelined the group from receiving Kennedy Center Honors. He was 67. The cause of death was attributed to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia. Born in Detroit, he worked in several local bands and even sang and played on Bob Seger's recording of "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man", which led to his move to Los Angeles. There he worked with J.D. Souther and met Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Don Henley, who eventually were hired as Linda Ronstadt's touring backup band. In 1971, they formed the Eagles and their success rivalled even Linda's, with hit singles like "Take It Easy" (#12-1972), "Lyin' Eyes" (#2-1975)-both with Glenn on lead and five #1 hits-"Best Of My Love" (1975), "One Of These Nights" (1975), "New Kid In Town" (1976)-again with Glenn on lead, "Hotel California" (1977) and "Heartache tonight" (1979). The group broke up in 1980 and Glenn went on to a successful solo career, with recordings like "The One That You Love" (#15-1982), "You Belong To The City" (#2-1985) and "The Heat Is On" (#2-1985). As an actor, he had a recurring role in the NBC-TV series, "Miami Vice" and appeared on the series "Wiseguy" and "South Of Sunset," as well as the movie, "Jerry McGuire". The Eagles reunited in 1994 (the album was humorously entitled "Hell Freezes Over") and continued to tour to record-breaking crowds. They were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001 and their first Greatest Hits album was honored as the Best Selling Album of the Century in 1999.
Mic Gilette, founding member and horn player with Tower of Power on such hits as "You're Still A Young Man"
(#29-1972) and "So Very Hard To Go" (#17-73), died Saturday (January 16) in Concord, California at the age of 64. Mic played with the Oakland-based group from 1966 to 1984, when he quit to spend more time with his family. He played on sessions for artists like Rod Stewart, Santana and the Rolling Stones while fronting his own, self-named band. He also mentored music students in the East Bay area.
Don McLean was arrested early Monday morning (January 18) by police in Camden, Maine and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after an incident involving his wife at their home there. The "American Pie" singer was released after posting $10,000 bail and will be arraigned February 22. A restraining order against Don is in effect.
Clarence Reid, who recorded an answer to the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" entitled, "Nobody But You Babe" (#40-1969) died of liver cancer Sunday (January 17) at a hospice in Florida. He was 76. He worked as a writer and producer for artists like Sam & Dave, Gwen McCrae and Betty Wright and also recorded risque parody songs as "Blowfly."
Gary Loizzo, lead singer and guitarist with Chicago's American Breed, died of cancer Saturday (January 16) at the age of 70. Formed as Gary and the Knight Lites, the group saw some local success in 1963 with "If I'm Lonely Tomorrow" on Kedlen Records and continued recording for three other labels before being discovered by officials of ACTA Records who were snowed-in during Chicago's blizzard of 1967. With a name change to the American Breed, the group scored success that year with "Step Out Of Your Mind" (#24-1967) before hitting with "Bend Me, Shape Me" (#5) early the next year. But the follow-up, "Green Light" (#39-1968) proved to be their only other top 40 tune (though they charted locally with "Ready, Willing And Able" that year as well). Nevertheless, the American Breed were in high demand for commercial jingles, including such products as Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Partridge Weiners and the TV show, "Temperature's Rising." A change to more R&B-flavored records as Ask Rufus (later shortened to Rufus) followed Gary's departure and eventually led to fame for lead singer Chaka Khan. Gary, meanwhile, formed a suburban Chicago recording studio where he engineered (and sometimes produced) the city's top talent, including Styx, REO Spedwagon, Survivor and Dennis DeYoung. He was twice nominated for Grammys for his engineering work.
Dale Griffin, drummer with Mott the Hoople on their 1972 hit, "All The Young Dudes" (#37-US, #3-UK), died on Sunday (January 17). The 67 year-old had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. The glam-rock group, produced by David Bowie, charted twice more in the U.S. and had four more UK top 40 tunes before disbanding in 1976. Dale went on to work as a producer at Radio 1 in Britain, where it's estimated he helmed over 2,000 sessions.
Jerry Dwyer, owner of the plane in which Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper perished in 1959, has died. He passed away at a Mason City, Iowa hospice center at the age of 85. Jerry owned the Dwyer Flying Service that was chartered to fly the three musicians from Mason City to Fargo, North Dakota on February 3 of that year after a performace at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Beechcraft Bonanza crashed a short time after takeoff.
The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences announced Wednesday (January 13) that they will give Lifetime Achievement Grammys this year to Ruth Brown, Linda Ronstadt, Jefferson Airplane, Earth, Wind & Fire and Herbie Hancock. Also set to be honored in a ceremony this Spring separate from the Grammy Awards are Run-DMC and Celia Cruz.
British singer/songwriter/producer/actor David Bowie died of cancer Sunday (January 10) in New York, only two days after his 69th birthday. Born David Jones in South London, he recorded with several groups there before achieving solo success with the British hit, "Space Oddity" in 1969 (a re-issue in the US reached #15 in 1973). David's glam-rock act featured ever-changing personas, including the Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust. These propelled his albums like "The Man Who Sold The World" and "Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders Of Mars" onto the charts (he eventually sold an estimated 140 million albums), but it wasn't until 1975's "Young Americans" (#28) and its follow-up, "Fame" (#1-1975) that David became a consistent hitmaker. Other hit songs included "Golden Years" (#10-1976), "Let's Dance" (#1-1983) and "China Girl;" (#10-1983). But music alone couldn't contain David Bowie. As an actor, he appeared in such films as "The Man Who Fell To Earth," "The Hunger," "The Last Temptation Of Christ" and "Just A Gigolo". He also wrote the music and had a small role in the 1986 film, "Absolute Beginners." He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, received the Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1999, but turned down the CBE medal and a knighthood from the British monarchy. Rolling Stone magazine put him 39th on their list of the "100 Greatest Rock Artists of All Time" in 2004.
Mick Jagger's ex-wife (though the marriage was annulled after 20 years together), model/actress Jerri Hall, has announced her engagement to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. She is 59. He is 84. They have been dating for four months.
Troy Shondell (born Gary Wayne Schelton) died Thursday (January 7) in a nursing home in Picayune, Mississippi. He was 76. The cause of death was complications of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he attended Valparaiso University in Valaparaiso, Indiana and was signed to Mercury/Smash Records in nearby Chicago. Recording as "Gary Shelton," he had a regional hit with "Kissin' At The Drive In" in 1958. Another Chicago hit that year was "The Trance" on the Regis label. His father's death in 1960 forced him to put his music career on hold temporarily, but the following year he changed his name to Troy Shondell and recorded "This Time" (written by Waylon Jennings and Chips Moman), which got to #6 nationally and sold a reported 3 million copies. Recorded during an April 1st snowstorm in Batavia, Illinois, it was initially released on tiny Goldcrest Records, before moving over to Liberty Records. Unfortunately, it was Troy's only top 75 record. Relocating to Nashville, he continued to work as a writer, producer and publishing agent.
Songwriter Bud Rehak, who co-wrote the Diane Renay hits, "Navy Blue" and "Kiss Me Sailor", died Sunday (January 10) from complications of Parkinson's Disease. He was believed to be 86. Bud (born Andrew Rachek) wrote with and managed Eddie Rambeau (though neither had a hand in writing Eddie's hit, "Concrete And Clay"). The two also co-wrote "The Push And Kick" by Mark Valentino.
Kitty Kallen, best known for her 1954 hit, "Little Things Mean A Lot" (#1 for 9 weeks), died Thursday (January 7) at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The Philadelphia native was 94. Born Katie Kallen in 1921, she started singing on the "Horn & Hardart's Children's Hour" on Philadelphia radio. That led to her own show and by the time she was 15, a spot singing with Jan Savitt's big band. She later sang with Artie Shaw, Jack Teagarden, Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey before striking out on her own. From 1955 to 1959, Kitty lost her voice-- though only onstage and was confined to just recording. She charted 14 times solo between 1949 and 1963, including "The Chapel In The Moonlight" (#4-1954), "Aba Daba Honeymoon" with Richard Hayes (#9-1951) and "My Coloring Book" (#18-1963) before retiring in the mid-'60s. Kitty received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and was selected for the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009. She appeared on Broadway in the original production of "Finian's Rainbow" in 1947.
Nicholas Caldwell, one of the founders of the R&B group, the Whispers, died Tuesday (January 5) of congestive heart failure at his home in San Francisco at the age of 71. All told, the Los Angeles-based group charted 21 times from 1970 to 1990. Their biggest hit was "Rock Steady (#7) in 1987. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2011.
Manager and record executive Robert Stigwood died Monday (January 4). The Adelaide, South Australia native was 81. Born in 1934, he was 20 years old when he moved to England, eventually forming the theatrical agency, Robert Stigwood Associates Ltd. Initially working with producer Joe Meek, he branched out into other British acts, including booking agent for the Who and Cream. He made his name, however, as manager for the Bees Gees beginning in 1967 (eventually they recorded for his RSO Records) and soon worked in theatre (staging the London versions of "Hair," "Oh Calcutta," "Evita" and "Pippin") and film (producing "Jesus Christ, Superstar," "Tommy," "Saturday Night Fever" and Grease").
Natalie Cole, daughter of the late Nat "King" Cole who charted five times in the top ten on her own, died in a Los Angeles hospital Thursday (December 31) of congestive heart failure-- a complication of hepatitis C and a previous kidney transplant due to drug use. She was 65. Born Stephanie Maria Cole (soon changed to Natalie Maria) in Los Angeles in 1950, she was only 15 when her father died of lung cancer. Her mother had sung with Duke Ellington's orchestra. She started performing while still in college but struggled to get out from under her father's shadow. It was singer Chuck Jackson and producer Marvin Yancy (whom she later married) who saw her performing in Chicago in 1975 and recorded her first album, "Inseparable," with her, eventually getting her signed to Capitol Records-- her father's old label. The result was "This Will Be," a #6 single that year. The next year she won Grammys for "Best New Artist" and "Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Female"-- the first of nine she would eventually win. In 1977 she reached the top ten again with "I've Got Love On My Mind" (#5) and the following year with "Our Love" (#10). Other hits included "Pink Cadillac" (#5-1988) and "Miss You Like Crazy" (#7-1989). She is also remembered for "Unforgettable" (#14)-- a "duet" with her late father in 1991. Her autobiography, "Angel On My Shoulder" was published in 2000, detailing her recovery from addiction and was turned into a made-for TV movie. She has appeared several times on TV herself, notably in "Grey's Anatomy" and "Touched By An Angel". She was also married at times to Rufus drummer Andre Fischer and gospel singer Andrae Crouch. She is survived by a 38 year-old son.
Bill Cosby was arraigned Wednesday (December 30) in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting a former employee of Temple University in 2004. He did not enter a plea but did surrender his passport and was released on one million dollars bail. A preliminary hearing is set for January 14. More than 50 women have made similar allegations against Bill, who denies them all.
America's Pop Music Hall of Fame announced its latest group of inductees Tuesday (December 29). Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand, the Temptations, the Association, Dion, the Grass Roots, the Lettermen, Paul Revere & the Raiders and Three Dog Night will join "legends" Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers in the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based organization's Hall.
Steven "Little Stevie" Wright, lead singer of the Easybeats of "Friday On My Mind" (#16-1967 US) fame, died Sunday (December 27) in a hospital in New South Wales, Australia. The Leeds, England native was 68. Stevie and his family migrated to Australia when he was nine and in mid-1964 he helped form the Easybeats in Sydney. Besides "Friday On My Mind" (co-written by Stevie), the group had five other top five records in Australia. When they disbanded in 1969, Stevie fronted two self-named bands and achieved another Australian #1 single with "Evie" in 1974. He also appeared in the Australian stage production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." His authorized biography, "Hard Road: The Life and Times of Stevie Wright," was published in 2004 and documented his struggles with drugs, including heroin. The Easybeats were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame in 2005. "Friday On My Mind" was voted "Best Australian Song Of All Time" by the Australian Performing Rights Association in 2001.
William Guest, cousin of Gladys Knight and member of her backup group, the Pips, died Thursday (December 24) of congestive heart failure in Detroit. He was 74. He sang with the group throughout their career from 1953 to 1989, when they stopped singing with Gladys. He then formed a production company and ran Crew Records. His autobiography, "Midnight Train From Georgia: A Pips Journey" was published in 2013. Gladys Knight and the Pips were inducted intothe Rock 'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Producer Thomas "Snuff" Garrett died Thursday (December 17) in Arizona at the age of 76. Born in Dallas, he worked as a disk jockey in Lubbock (where he was friends with Buddy Holly) and Wichita Falls, Texas before moving to Hollywood and becoming a producer with Liberty Records. Over the years he produced such hits (for Liberty and independently) as "Take Good Care Of My Baby" for Bobby Vee, "This Diamond Ring" from Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Johnny Burnette's "You're 16," "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" from Vicki Lawrence, Gene McDaniels' "A Hundred Pounds Of Clay" and "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," "Half Breed" and "Dark Lady" for Cher. He also appeared six times on the album charts with instrumental collections as the "50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett". He later founded Snuff Garrett Records and Viva Records before retiring in 1983.
Luigi Creatore, who with his cousin Hugo Peretti produced hits for Sam Cooke, Perry Como, the Stylistics, "Little" Peggy March, the Isley Brothers and Jimmie Rodgers, died of pneumonia Sunday (December 13) in Boca Raton, Florida at the age of 93. The two also co-wrote Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love" and were co-owners at one time of Roulette Records before founding Avco Records.
Condolences to Bobby Curtola, whose wife Karyn died Tuesday (December 15) in a head-on car crash in Nova Scotia.
Mary Kath, who recorded as Bonnie Lou and reached #14 in 1955 with her version of "Daddy-O", died Tuesday (December 8) in a Cincinnati nursing home. The Towanda, Illinois native was 91. She charted twice with the country hits "Seven Lonely Days" (#7-1953) and "Tennessee Wig Walk" (#6-1953). Bonnie Lou also appeared on radio in Cincinnati and Kansas City.
Nominations for the 2016 Grammy Awards were announced Monday (December 7). Oldies artists nominated include Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan and Barry Manilow for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (Bob also was nominated for Best Historical Album); James Taylor for Best Pop Vocal Album; Paul McCartney (as part of a large group) for Best Rap Song; Mavis Staples for Best American Roots Performance; Don Henley for Best American Roots Song; Janis Ian and Patti Smith for Best Spoken Word Album and Glen Campbell for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album.
Merle Haggard was hospitalized in California Wednesday (December 2) with pneumonia. He cancelled dates in four cities but hopes to continue touring next week.
Wally Roker, bass singer and manager of the Heartbeats passed away early Wednesday (December 2) at the age of 78. Formed in Jamaica, Queens in New York, they were originally known as the Hearts but changed to the longer name because of a conflict with another group. After four releases on Network and Hull Records, the group jumped to Rama with their fifth- the classic "A Thousand Miles Away" (#53-1957). The follow-up, "Everybody's Somebody's Fool," reached #78 later that year, but by 1960, the group disbanded and Wally moved to the West Coast to work in the business end of the recording industry- most notably as a promotion man for Capitol Records. Wally owned at least five record labels and produced the original version of Tyrone Davis' "Turn Back The Hands Of Time." He later served as the Director of Music Marketing for the Doo Wop Hall of Fame in Los Angeles (who inducted the Heartbeats in 2012).
Shirley Gunter, leader of the seminal doo wop girl group, Shirley Gunter and the Queens, died in Las Vegas Monday (December 1) at the age of 82. The group took "Oop Shoop" to #8 on the R&B charts in 1954, but it was the Crew Cuts who had the pop hit. By 1956, the legally-blind Shirley began a short-lived solo career before joining up with her brother Cornell (one-time member of the Platters and future member of the Coasters) in the Flairs. Though they recorded some fine tunes (such as "Ipsy Opsie Ooh" with Shirley on lead), none of them charted. Shirley soon gave up the music business to get married and raise a family but not before paving the way for female lead singers to come.
Ronnie Bright, best known as being "Mr. Bass Man" on the Johnny Cymbal 1963 hit (#16), passed away on Thanksgiving (November 26) at the age of 77. The New York native sang in the Valentines, the Cadillacs and the Coasters and was a backup singer on Barry Mann's "Who Put The Bomp" (#7-1961) and Jackie Wilson's "Baby Workout" (#5-1963), as well.
Get Well wishes go out to Gerry Granahan, who suffered a heart attack Thanksgiving Week. He is reportedly resting in Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.
According to his daughter, Debby, Pat Boone had knee replacement surgery on November 19. He had partial replaement surgery done in 2007.
Cynthia Robinson, vocalist and horn player with Sly and the Family Stone, died of cancer Monday (November 23) at the age of 69. The Sacramento, California native also played in Graham Central Station and was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame along with the Family Stone in 1993. The group charted ten times in the top 40, including the number-one hits, "Everyday People" (1969), "Thank You Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin" (1970) and "Family Affair" (1971). You may recall in their song "Dance To The Music" (#8-1968), Sly introduces the band, including, "... Cynthia on the throne... Cynthia and Jerry got a message that's sayin' All the squares, go home!"
Kenny Rogers will be honored with the Country Music Television Artists of a Lifetime award at their annual ceremonies December 2 in Nashville.
Carly Simon revealed to People magazine in an interview released Wednesday (November 18) that the second verse of "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. "I have confirmed that the second verse is Warren. Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!" But Carly says the rest of the song is about two other men who she won't reveal "[a]t least until they know it's them"
Songwriter P.F. Sloan (born Philip Gary Schlein) died Sunday (November 15), shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 70. A meeting with Elvis Presley in Hollywood at the age of 13 caused him to become a musician, but after initially trying his hand at recording, he found success as a composer, usually with Steve Barri. His hits included "Eve Of Destruction" (#1 in 1965 for Barry McGuire), "A Must To Avoid" (#8-1966 by Herman's Hermits), the Turtles' "You Baby" (#20-1966) and "Secret Agent Man" (a #3 hit for Johnny Rivers in 1966). His autobiography, "What's Exactly The Matter With Me," was published last year.
It's been learned that composer Winfield Scott died October 26 at the age of 95. Winfield co-wrote "Return To Sender" and "One Broken Heart For Sale" (both with Otis Blackwell) as well as LaVern Baker's hit, "Tweedlee Dee," Connie Francis' "Many Tears Ago" and Bill Haley's "Burn That Candle."
Influential New Orleans composer, producer, arranger and artist Allen Toussaint died Monday (November 9) while on tour in Spain. He was 77. Allen wrote such classics as "Mother-In-Law" (#1-1961 for Ernie K-Doe-- he also produced the recording), "Southern Nights" (#1-1977 as recorded by Glen Campbell), "Working In The Coal Mine" (#8-1966 by Lee Dorsey), "Java" (#4-1964 by Al Hirt) and "Whipped Cream" (#68 in 1965 for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass but better known from its use on TV's "The Dating Game"). He produced artists like B.J. Thomas, Dr. John, the Meters and even "Lady Marmalade" from Labelle (#1-1975). He worked with Paul McCartney on Wings' "Venus And Mars" album in 1975. Allen was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Andy White, the Scottish session drummer hired by producer George Martin to play on the first Beatles single, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You," passed away Monday (November 9) in New Jersey at the age of 85. George hired Andy to play drums because he was unsure as to Ringo Starr's ability. Andy's version of "Love Me Do" made the American pressing of the single (where Ringo can be heard on tambourine), but Ringo's take was used early on in the UK. Andy went on to play for many other sessions, including Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual," Lulu's version of "Shout" and recordings by Engelbert Humperdinck, Dusty Springfield, Herman's Hermits and Petula Clark.
Martin Beard, bassist with San Francisco's Sopwith Camel on their #26 hit, "Hello Hello" in 1967, died Tuesday (November 10) at the age of 68. The British-born Martin later became an electronics technician in Silicon Valley.
Police showed up at a private charity event in Beverly Hills Saturday night (November 7) complaining that guest performer and former Kiss guitarist Gene Simmons was making too much noise. Police shut down his act but a DJ took over providing music as celebs contributed to the "Children Matter" function.
Johnny Mathis' Hollywood Hills mansion was destroyed by fire Monday night (November 2). While some memorabilia was saved by firefighters, Johnny said there was "nothing left" of the home he had owned for 56 years. Johnny had been in Cleveland in concert at the time of the fire, which is believed to have started in an aquarium room. Said Johnny, "I'm OK, nobody got hurt - that's always important. We can always replace things."
Billy Joel sang the national anthem before game three of the World Series between the Mets and Kansas City in New York on Friday (October 30). The Mets use "Piano Man" during the 7th inning of their home games. New York won the game, but lost the Series.
Forbes Magazine has come out with its annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities and Michael Jackson is again #1. The gloved-one earned over $115 million in the last year, easily outpacing Elvis Presley with $55 million. "Peanuts" creator Charles Schultz is third with $40 millio, followed by Bob Marley at $21 million. Elizabeth Taylor rounds out the top five at $20 million. Others in the top 15 include John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Joan Rivers.
Andy Kim was announced Monday (October 26) as the 2016 inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Andy will be honored in ceremonies May 5 in Toronto.