Here are current stories about Oldies Artists in the News:
Norman Greenbaum of "Spirit In The Sky" (#3-1970) fame was critically injured in a car crash Saturday afternoon (March 28) west of Santa Rosa, California. The 72 year-old was a passenger in a car that turned in front of an oncoming motorcycle. The cyclist was killed in the accident. The cyclist's passenger was also hospitalized in critical condition. The driver of the car was not seriously hurt. Alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the accident. Norman also wrote and performed "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago" as part of Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band in 1966 (#52).
Don Robertson, whose instrumental tune "The Happy Whistler," reached #6 on the charts in 1956 and who wrote dozens of other hit songs (14 recorded by Elvis Presley alone), died March 16 near Santa Monica, California. He was 92. Born in Beijing, China, he was raised in Chicago, where he dropped out of the University of Chicago to become musical arranger at WGN Radio there. After serving in World War II he moved to Los Angeles, where he married one of the singing Dinning Sisters. As a composer, he wrote such classics as "I Really Don't Want To Know" (a hit for Les Paul & Mary Ford, Eddy Arnold, Elvis and Tommy Edwards), "Ringo" (#1-1964 for Lorne Greene), "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" (#8-1960 for Hank Locklin), "I Love You More And More Every Day" (#9-1964 for Al Martino) and "Anything That's Part Of You" (a #31 tune for Elvis in 1962). He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.
The Library of Congress released its annual list of 25 more treasures added to the National Recording Registry (bringing to 425 the number of culturally-significant ones to be preserved) Wednesday (March 25). Included among this year's selections are "Sixteen Tons" from "Tennessee" Ernie Ford, "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King, the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," the first albums by Joan Baez and the Doors, Sly & the Family Stone's "Stand" album and Steve Martin's "A Wild And Crazy Guy" album.
Jørgen Ingmann, the Danish guitarist who gave us the instrumental classic, "Apache" (#2-1961), died Saturday (March 21) at the age of 89. Born Jørgen Ingmann Pedersen in Copenhagen in 1925, he won the Eurovision song competition for Denmark with his wife Grethe with the song "Dansevise" in 1963. His only other American chart tune was "Anna" (#54), another instrumental, in 1961.
The Broadway show, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" will be adapted into a film, it was announced Sunday (March 22). Tom Hanks will produce and Sony pictures will distribute the film.
David Crosby, one-time member of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, struck a jogger on a highway near Santa Ynez, California Sunday (March 22). David was doing the legal 55 MPH at the time but admitted being blinded by the sun. Police say neither drugs nor alcohol appear to have played a part in the accident. The jogger was airlifted to a nearby hospital but his injuries are not considered life-threatening.
British singer/songwriter Jackie Trent, who along with Tony Hatch wrote such tunes as "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love" (#9-1966) "Don't Sleep In The Subway" (#5-1967) and "Color My World" (#16-1967) for Petula Clark, died after what was termed a "long illness" Saturday (March 21) in a hospital in Minorca, Spain, where she lived. She was 76. As a singer, her only American appearance was "If You Love Me, Really Love Me" (#106-1964) but she reached #1 on the UK charts with "Where Are You Now (My Love)," used in the British TV series "It's Dark Outside" in 1965. Born Yvonne Burgess in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, England in 1940, she started as a child star. Signed by Pye Records, she began collaborating with one it's producers, Tony Hatch, both in-and-out-of the recording studio. Their affair led to the dissolutions of both marriages and their own nuptials in 1967 (they were divorced in 2002). They are best remembered in Australia for writing the theme for the television program "Neighbours."
Michael Brown (nee Michael Lookofsky), keyboardist with the Left Banke and Stories, died Thursday (March 19) of unknown causes. He was 65. Michael's father, a session violinist, owned a recording studio in New York and produced, published and managed the baroque-oriented Left Banke when they formed in 1965. Michael wrote their two hits-- "Walk Away Renee" (#5-1966) and "Pretty Ballerina" (#15-1967), but when he recorded another-- "Ivy Ivy" (#119-1967) using studio musicians, the resulting friction caused the group to disband (though they later reformed without Michael and without any more hits). He went on to play with Montage before joining Stories, having been introduced to Ian Lloyd by their fathers. He stayed with the group for their first album and first three singles, including "I'm Coming Home" (#42-1972) and "Brother Louie" (#1-1973-- which initially was missing from the album). After forming the unsuccessful group, the Beckies in 1976, he eventually gave up music.
The second Pittsburgh Rock 'n' Roll Legends Awards will be given to Lou Christie, Donnie Iris (a member of the Jaggerz and Wild Cherry before his solo success) and the late DJ Porky Chedwick April 23 at the Hard Rock in the steel city. The awards benefit the city's Cancer Caring Center.
Andy Fraser, bassist with Free on "All Right Now" (#4-1970) and "Stealer" (#49-1971) died Monday (March 16) at his home in Temeculah, California. The London-born musician was 62 and had been diagnosed with AIDS and Kaposi's Sarcoma cancer, though no cause of death was given. A classically trained pianist, he switched to guitar at 13 and at 15 worked briefly with John Mayall's Blues Breakers, which led to a job as bassist with Free, where he co-wrote and co-produced both of the group's chart hits. After Free split up he worked in a variety of other British groups, including his own Andy Fraser Band, which released two albums. Besides "All Right Now" and "Stealer", he wrote "Every Kinda People," (#16) a 1978 hit for Robert Palmer that was re-recorded as a soft hit again in 1992.
Mike Porcaro, bassist with Toto after their "Toto IV" album in 1982 died from ALS Sunday (March 15). He was 59. His brothers Steve and the late Jeff Porcaro were original members in the group. Mike retired from the group because of his disease in 2007. He played on such singles as "Stranger In Town" (#30-1984) and "I'll Be Over You" (#11-1986).
Ringo Starr postponed concerts Thursday (March 12) in Santa Ynez, California and Friday in San Francisco because of his unspecified illness. The tour resumed for its last two dates on Saturday. The postponed concerts should be made up this fall.
Jimmy Sacca, lead singer with the Hilltoppers, died March 7 at a Lexington, Kentucky hospital. The Lockport, New York native was 85. A football player at Western Kentucky University (nicknamed the Hilltoppers), Jimmy joined with two other students there as well as pianist Billy Vaughn (who would later leave to solo fame) to form the group in 1952. A local DJ got them a recording contract with Dot Records and the group responded with nine top ten tunes from 1952 to 1957, including "Marianne" (#3-1957), "Only You" (#8-1955) and "P.S. I Love You" (#4-1953), despite his being drafted into the Army for two years starting in 1953. After their chart success faded, Jimmy went to work for his label as a record distributor and as a talent agent while continuing to sing from time to time in various incarnations of his old group. The Hilltoppers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of fame in 2005 and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Jimmy was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame and given their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Jimmy Greenspoon, keyboardist with Three Dog Night, lost his battle to brain cancer Wednesday (March 11) at his home in Montgomery County, Maryland. He was 67. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Beverly Hills, Jimmy attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and played in several groups on Sunset Strip before hooking up with Danny Hutton and helping to form the 7-member group. He played on eleven top ten records, including the #1 hits "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" in 1970, "Joy To The World" (1971) and "Black & White" (1972) before the group disbanded in 1976. They re-formed in 1981 but Jimmy was forced into drug rehab four years later. His autobiography chronicling his downfall, "One Is The Loneliest Number," was published in 1991. He was given a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 2000.
An 8-member jury in Los Angeles Tuesday (March 10) voted unanimously that singer Robin Thicke, rapper T.I. and producer Pharrell Williams copied the late Marvin Gaye's tune "Got To Give It Up" in composing Robin's hit, "Blurred Lines." The jury awarded $7.3 million to Marvin's family. A spokesman for Pherrell said, "We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter."
Randall Miller, director of the ill-fated Gregg Allman biographical movie, "Midnight Rider," pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass in a Georgia courtroom Monday (March 9) in connection with the death of an assistant camera operator who was struck by a train during filming of the movie over a year ago. Miller will spend up to two years in prison, was fined $20,000 and will be on probation for eight years. The plea was designed to save his wife and business partner from prosecution. The executive producer of the film, Jay Sedrish, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and received probation. A fourth defendant has cooperated with authorities and is expected to receive a plea deal, as well.
Trumpeter Lew Soloff, member of Blood, Sweat & Tears from 1968 to 1973, died Sunday (March 8) after suffering a heart attack at the age of 71. The Brooklyn-born musician played on five BS&T albums, including such hits as "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (#2-1969), "Spinning Wheel" (#2-1969) and "And When I Die" (#2-1969).
Brian Carman, rhythm guitarist with the Chantays ("Chantay's" on some labels) and co-writer of their instrumental hit, "Pipeline," died Sunday (March 1) at his home in Santa Ana, California. He was 69. He had been suffering from Crohn's Disease and an ulcerated colon. The surf classic (originally called "Liberty's Whip" after Lee Marvin's character in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" but renamed after the curl of a surfer's wave) reached #4 in 1963. While it only "bubbled under" at #106 nationally when re-released in 1966, it was a major hit again in cities like Chicago. As British music replaced surf tunes, the band changed names to the Ill Winds and Leaping Frogs before returning as the Chantays to play the oldies circuit. Brian continued to play until health problems forced his retirement two years ago. The street in front of their alma mater, Santa Ana High School, was even named "Chantays Way" They were inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk in 1996.
Cheap Trick and former drummer Bun E Carlos have apparently settled their legal differences. Bun E left the group in 2010 but filed a lawsuit in 2013 against them, claiming he was not being paid his promised shares of royalties. Frontman Robin Zander now says that "Bun E's a member of the band, but he's not touring and he's not recording. We've had our differences but we're all settled up now. Hopefully we can forget about that era. The decisions that Cheap Trick makes, Bun E is part of."
Documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, whose works included the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" movie surrounding their infamous 1969 Altamont, California concert, died Thursday (March 5) at his Manhattan home at the age of 88. Albert and his late brother, David also filmed the 1964 documentary, "What Happening! The Beatles In The U.S.A."
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission approved 22 new historical markers Thursday (March 5), including one at the site of the now-defunct Sigma Sound studios in Philadelphia, where tunes like "When Will I See You Again," "Disco Inferno" and "Macho Man" were recorded. The state has over 2,300 such markers.
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.