Erivo's role as Aretha Franklin marks the third season of National Geographic's anthology series. Starring with Erivo is Courtney B. Vance as Franklin's father C.L. Franklin, Malcolm Barrett as Franklin's first husband and business partner Ted White, David Cross as music producer Jerry Wexler and T.I. as Franklin's road manager and love interest Ken Cunningham. Patrice Covington and Rebecca Naomi Jones are also starring as Aretha's sisters and background singers Erma and Carolyn Franklin, with Steven Norfleet as Franklin's other brother Cecil, who became her manager after her divorce from White.
Other actors featured in Genius: Aretha include Pauletta Washington as Franklin's paternal grandmother Rachel, Omar J. Dorsey as gospel singer known as the "King of gospel music" James Cleveland, Marque Richardson as saxophonist King Curits, Kimberly Hébert Gregory as America's first Black female booking agent Ruth Bowen and Shaian Jordan in her debut as young Aretha, known then as Little Re.
Genius: Aretha is set to debut this fall.
London, United Kingdom (January 4, 2021)—Noted producer Steve Brown, who guided hits by everyone from Freddie Mercury to The Cult, has died at the age of 65 due to a fall in December.
Brown got his start in the music business thanks to seizing an unexpected opportunity—accidentally meeting Elton John when the superstar pulled into the gas station where teenaged Brown was working at the time. A brief chat with the artist soon led to Brown becoming a drum tech for John, and in time, he moved on to become a tape op.
Working his way up the ladder as a recording engineer for acts like Wizzard, Brown’s first producer credit came from a co-production with Robert “Mutt” Lange of the Boomtown Rats’ 1977 eponymous debut album. Through the turn of the Eighties, however, he mostly stayed in the engineer’s seat, recording albums by Thin Lizzy (Suicide), Graham Parker and the Rumour (Live at Marble Arch), Oingo Boingo (Only A Lad), The Romantics and others, and also recorded various projects for the Sex Pistols, Steve Forbert, Joan Armatrading, Twiggy and others.
Brown increasingly worked as a producer in the Eighties and Nineties, guiding many fledgling U.K. acts to their first hits, such as (to name only a few) ABC with “Tears Are Not Enough;” George Michael, with Wham’s first album, Fantastic; The Cult’s breakthrough collection, Love, highlighted by the Goth rock staple, “She Sells Sanctuary;” The Godfathers’ nihilistic classic “Birth School Work Death;” and The Manic Street Preachers’ debut album, Generation Terrorists, from which five tracks became UK Top-40 hits.
Over the course of his career, Brown also worked with Alison Moyet, The Alarm, Boom Crash Opera, Haysi Fantayzee, Balaam and the Angel, Nuclear Valdez and the Pogues, and additionally remixed a pair of Freddy Mercury tracks for the singer’s posthumous The Great Pretender collection.
In a statement to NME, Brown’s family noted, “Steve’s death came so unexpectedly and at a relatively young age. It was particularly tragic because Steve had many great projects in the pipeline including The Drive Foundation. The Drive Foundation is about promoting mental health, and Steve was the founding member. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Jacky and their two children, Max and Luke. He will be missed by the music industry, friends and family alike.”
Steve Brown • http://www.stevebrown.info
Senseless Things frontman Mark Keds, born Mark Myers, has died at the age of 50. The news was confirmed in a Facebook post by the band's lead guitarist Ben Harding. The statement said, "It is with the heaviest of hearts that we have to tell you that, sadly, Mark - our singer, friend, and main songwriter - is no longer with us. We understand that he passed away at his home during the early hours of this morning. As of yet, the cause of death is unconfirmed.
"It’s no secret that he had struggled on and off with drug abuse and a pretty chaotic lifestyle for a long while, and his health suffered substantially over the years due to this. While this had sometimes created friction within the on-off workings of Senseless Things and his other projects, we choose to remember the friend, the brother, and the talent we’ve lost today."
Senseless Things are an English pop-punk band, formed in 1986 in London. The band released four albums and achieved two UK Top 20 hit singles before splitting up in 1995. Senseless Things reformed in 2017 to play several gigs including Shepherd's Bush Empire, as well as to record and release new material. Keds very briefly became a member of The Wildhearts before forming Jolt, Trip Fontaine, The Lams, Like A Bitch, and, most recently, Deadcuts. He also has a co-writer credit on The Libertines' 2004 #2 hit "Can't Stand Me Now", which took a line from the 1998 Jolt single "Hey! Kitten".
On this day in 1959, Berry Gordy turned $800 and a dream into the legendary, globally renowned Motown Records!
The birthplace of the Motown Sound—Hitsville U.S.A.—is now home to Motown Museum, where visitors from down the street and around the world visit and experience the history behind this iconic company.
Guitarist Henry Robinett's "Jazz Standards, Vol. 2: Then Again" , Released for the First Time January 8, 2021
Guitarist, composer, bandleader, and recording engineer HENRY ROBINETT is releasing JAZZ STANDARDS, VOLUME 2: THEN AGAIN on Nefertiti Records, Robinett’s own label. The album is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2020 release Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then. John Sanders of Jazz Music Archives said, “Henry’s playing is often in a rapid abstract blues bop style, somewhat similar to Joe Pass or Barney Kessel, but he has a personal voice all his own. It takes a lot from an artist to lift these standards up one more time, and Robinett and his quartet come through on every track.”
Robinett recorded both volumes 20 years ago, during a period when he was in between albums and bands. With some rare free time, he decided to bring together a few of the top artists from Northern California, including JOE GILMAN on piano, CHRIS SYMER on bass, and MICHAEL STEPHANS on drums, for an impromptu recording session at The Hangar, a Sacramento studio where he was working as an engineer and producer. Each of the musicians is a leader in his own right, with a long resume of recordings and performances with many of the top names in jazz. With Robinett calling the tunes, this group of swinging improvisers recorded enough music for both albums in just two days.
Known for his modern, eclectic sound that melds World music with electric jazz, the Jazz Standards sessions are a departure for Robinett. “I think the Jazz Standards album was just too different from my other work, which made me hesitant to release it,” says Robinett. “But after listening to it again after so many years, I like it. I think it stands up well and shows another side to my playing.”
Robinett has led his own band, The Henry Robinett Group, for many years. The band comprises an evolving cast of musicians playing straightahead jazz with elements of Latin and pop. The Henry Robinett Group has released five albums. Their first CD, the eponymous The Henry Robinett Group, received a 4-star review in DownBeat. JazzTimes Magazine said about the group’s 2016 release, I Have Known Mountains, “The dozen pieces that appear here make it plainly clear that Robinett is a man who places a high premium on clarity. His well-thought-out messages, be they focused on tragedy, love, or life's winding road(s), manage to appeal to the ear. If jazz has an accessibility problem, nobody bothered to tell Henry Robinett.”
On JAZZ STANDARDS, VOLUME 2: THEN AGAIN, Robinett’s guitar work is swinging and very accessible.
Rather than focusing on his considerable chops, he approaches a tune not unlike a vocalist, emphasizing the melody while adding colors through his phrasing and harmonic choices.
About Henry Robinett
Henry Robinett is a jazz guitarist, recording artist, composer, bandleader, and teacher. He has been playing guitar since the age of 13. His early musical influences were Jimi Hendrix and Charles Mingus, who was his father’s first cousin. Robinett lived with Mingus for three months at his apartment in New York City, where he also associated with saxophone great Sonny Rollins and rock legend Joni Mitchell.
Robinett has performed around the world with his group The Henry Robinett Quartet. He now resides in Sacramento, where he built his own recording studio and runs his record label, Nefertiti Records, producing his own records and records for other artists, as well. His most recent CD with The Henry Robinett Quartet is I Have Known Mountains, the title inspired by the Langston Hughes poem, “I’ve Known Rivers.” He is also a founding member of The Capital Jazz Project and has played with renowned musicians Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, Chico Freeman, Frank Strozier, Gary Bartz, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Bobby Hutcherson, Benny Green, Geoffrey Keezer, and many others. He taught in Vienna, Austria at the American Institute of Music and was on the faculty of the University of the Pacific and Cosumnes River College.
Henry Robinett, guitar
Joe Gilman, piano
Chris Symer, bass
Michael Stephans, drums
1. Yours Is My Heart Alone (4:40)
2. Like Someone In Love (4:59)
3. I Thought About You (6:45)
4. On The Street Where You Live (5:24)
5. Milestones (original version) (6:01)
6. Body and Soul (5:51)
7. How Am I To Know (4:15)
8. Darn That Dream (5:34)
9. I Love You (6:24)
10. It Could Happen To You (4:39)
11. Monk’s Mood (6:52)
12. San Francisco Holiday (Worry Later) (5:45)
Photo courtesy of Nancy Olewine.
Renowned tuba titan and founder of original Saturday Night Live Band was a musical mainstay in New York’s jazz community for 50+ years
Muse to Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Carla Bley, and inspiration to multiple generations of players, Howard Johnson Tuba Jazz Program Fund established at Penn State to honor the legendary musician.
Howard Johnson, veteran jazz musician, tuba innovator and founding member of the Saturday Night Live band, died at home in New York on Jan. 11, 2021, following a long illness, according to his longtime partner, Nancy Olewine.
An accomplished player, composer, arranger and raconteur, Howard gigged on tuba, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, flugelhorn, electric bass and pennywhistle. For more than 50 years he was an important fixture in multiple scenes, moving fluidly among genres. In addition to working with a litany of NEA jazz masters including Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Evans, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Jack DeJohnette, and Randy Weston, Johnson also played with pop and rock icons such as John Lennon, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Taj Mahal, Levon Helm and scores of others.
Johnson played an important role in forming and shaping the sound of the Saturday Night Live band during the show’s first five years: 1975 to 1980. Donning an Egyptian headdress or nurses’ uniform in some of the most beloved early sketches featuring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, his weekly SNL appearances lent Howard visibility rare for a jazz musician or in-demand sideman. He appeared in Martin Scorsese’s 1978 documentary The Last Waltz, was featured in a Miller Lite beer commercial in 1984, and made a Sesame Street appearance with James Taylor (in the decades since, it wasn’t uncommon for excited kids to point at Howard and shout “Jelly Man Kelly!”).
But Howard initially turned down the SNL gig, telling musical director Howard Shore that having a too-steady job leads to complacency, resulting in bad music. Musicians in that situation “start defending their turf, they start feeling like they have something to lose, and they keep narrowing and narrowing their perspective. I don’t want to get caught up in stuff like that.” In several interviews, Johnson recalled Shore’s reply: “Well, if you feel that way about it, then you’re the man for the job. Get me a bunch of other troublemakers like you and we’ll have a great band.”
Complacency was never a possibility for Johnson. In fact, from his earliest years in New York, the breadth of his capabilities led some critics and audiences to believe there must be more than one Howard Johnson: It was just too hard to imagine that in an often highly compartmentalized music scene that the same guy could be appearing with the avant-gardist Archie Shepp, hard-swinging drummer Buddy Rich, and sitting in with bluesman B.B. King.
In fact, Johnson crossed paths with legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix at a B.B. King gig, as detailed in an April 12, 2017 blog post (hojotuba.com/blog). He and fellow tubist Bob Stewart took their instruments up to Ungano’s [an Upper West Side club] to jam with B.B. King. Just the presence of that much low brass was enough to cause a stir, and right before they went on, Jimi Hendrix arrived with a group of women. The audience was distracted, buzzing and cracking jokes, not knowing what to expect from a couple of tuba players.
Howard and Bob took to the stage, one on either side of B.B., and showed everyone they know their way around the blues. Though there were no mikes, they made themselves heard, with power to spare. Afterward, Jimi sought out Howard to congratulate him, saying, “You brothers just did the god-damnedest shit I ever heard! Ain’t nobody laughin’ now!”
Johnson appeared on hundreds of recordings spanning Gato Barbieri, McCoy Tyner, Muddy Waters, Roswell Rudd, Phoebe Snow, David Sanborn and Freddie Hubbard. He backed vocalists as diverse as Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Yoko Ono and Albert King. Johnson can be heard on many movie soundtracks, especially those of Spike Lee; he spent several years with the NDR Big Band in Hamburg; and released four albums as a leader, including three with his multi-tuba brass choir Gravity.
While he played an arsenal of instruments, there was no doubt the tuba was his greatest love. “A tuba can be thunderous, it can be a rough-and-tumble instrument. People don’t think of it as anything delicate. I never thought there was anything the tuba couldn’t do, and I’ve been pretty satisfied with what I can do with a tuba,” Johnson mused in a 2019 interview for Hot House jazz magazine.
By 2006, when New York Times critic Nate Chinen declared Howard Johnson “the figure most responsible for the tuba’s current status as a full-fledged jazz voice,” the life’s work of the multi- instrumentalist had been in progress for more than four decades. Johnson burned with the fire of bass-clef innovation since well before 1963, when he took an offhand remark from Eric Dolphy as a call to action to move to New York.
As a teen, Howard had discovered that he could push the tuba’s range to previously unheard heights—more than six octaves—surpassing the trombone on the high end and edging into trumpet territory. In a 2000 interview, Johnson noted that he was motivated to excel by a pecking order among high school band members, with those who took private lessons outranking those who learned at school, and the self-taught—like Howard—at the bottom. When one of the private students asked him how high the tuba could go, “I was very embarrassed that I didn’t know,” he recalled. He began to experiment, noticing some of the highest notes were “very pretty; they sounded like they had kind of a French horn quality. So I added that new octave to my warm-ups.” He was surprised to discover that none of his bandmates could play anywhere near that high. “At that point, I’d probably been playing about six or eight weeks. I was highly motivated. I didn’t want to look like a fool,” Johnson said. “It was at that point that I decided not to let anybody tell me what the limitations were of the tuba or of the music.”
He was never a novelty act who would occasionally blast notes into the stratosphere to excite an audience. Rather, he played melody lines and solos fluidly and fluently, maintaining tonal integrity and feeling. Though there was no existing repertoire in the early 1960s for his then-groundbreaking low-brass range, once in the Big Apple Johnson caught the ear—and piqued the imagination—of Charles Mingus.
The iconic bassist/composer wrote adventurous parts for him in such a high register that “even trombonists wouldn’t welcome seeing those notes on the page,” Johnson recalled in 2017, for the liner notes of Testimony, his last release fronting his multi-tuba band Gravity.
Johnson became the muse of other composers, including Carla Bley and Gil Evans, establishing relationships lasting decades. Howard almost had a second encounter with Hendrix, in a project with the great Gil Evans, who had made plans to record with Hendrix and told Howard Johnson he wanted him in the studio, too. Unfortunately, Jimi didn’t live long enough to make the gig. But Howard eventually got to have his say on one of Jimi’s greatest tunes, “Voodoo Chile,” on Gil Evans’ recordings, and was also known to play a lovely, tender version of “Little Wing” on pennywhistle.
Every post-Johnson tuba player has been challenged by the standard he set. He believed the tuba is capable of a virtually unlimited sonic and emotional range, based on a player’s abilities. By demonstrating his skills, Howard single-handedly moved the instrument out of its traditional place in the rhythm sections of large ensembles into featured roles in small bands. Recognizing his impact on the tuba’s changing role in music, in 2008 the instrument-maker Meinl Weston released the HoJo Gravity Series tuba, designed to the player’s specifications.
He influenced musicians by expanding their ideas of the possibilities of the instrument, and demonstrated enormous generosity of spirit, mentoring tuba players, past, present and future. He influenced jazz (and pop) composers and arrangers by bringing a heretofore ignored instrument to the front line of soloists, and changed jazz overall by altering the direction of how jazz used the bass clef—no more oom-pah-pah, but pure linear bop, swing and rock phrasing that could stand on its own against any other “typical” jazz solo instrument.
At a time when jazz-rock fusion was gaining traction, Johnson opened up the music without diluting the tradition, performing with an unwavering jazz sensibility as a founding member of the Saturday Night Live band. His writing, arranging and playing captured the attention and imagination of such pop culture icons as John Lennon, Paul Simon, Levon Helm and Taj Mahal; Johnson never dumbed it down, never resorted to spoon-feeding anyone “Jazz 101” level music. He has always been “The Real Thing,” as Taj Mahal dubbed the 1971 CD that debuted Johnson’s innovative multi-tuba brass choir, Gravity.
Even as he approached his 75th birthday, Johnson declared that he still had the fire in his belly to solo, to increase awareness of the versatility of often-underutilized horns, and to continue to have his say on the definitive way to play them. After the music master no longer made a practice of hoisting the 20-plus pound instrument to his lips—his last gigs were in 2017—he continued to feel he had much to offer as a mentor and advisor.
There’s a wonderful accessibility to Howard Johnson’s artistry. Whether playing a standard from a Broadway show, taking the lead on Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” with the Gil Evans Orchestra, or evoking early R&B beats on Don Pullen’s “Big Alice” with Gravity, his music could get under your skin and quicken your steps for days to come.
Howard’s talent, determination, and no-limits viewpoint were irreplaceable ingredients in his recipe for artistic fulfillment and professional success, and his music will continue to inspire for years to come.
Howard is survived by his longtime life partner, Nancy Olewine; his daughter, musician Nedra Johnson; and two sisters, Teri Nichols and Connie Armstrong. He was predeceased by his son, David Johnson, a musician and artist, in 2011.
A memorial service will be held in 2021.
In lieu of flowers or other tributes, it was Howard’s wish that to honor his memory and support his legacy as a master of the bass clef, memorial donations be made to benefit:
The Howard Johnson Tuba Jazz Program Fund at Penn State
Memorial donation checks in memory of Howard L. Johnson to benefit the Howard Johnson Tuba Jazz Program Fund can be made payable to The Pennsylvania State University and mailed to:
DONOR AND MEMBER SERVICES
2583 Gateway Drive
Bristol Place One, Suite 130
State College, PA 16801
Donations also can be made via credit card at: raise.psu.edu/CelebratingHowardLJohnson
The endowment will support a residency in Howard’s name, and the music that Howard held so dear.
Bluesman Tomcat Courtney has passed away at the age of 91. Born in 1929, Courtney grew up in Texas, where picking cotton was the family business. As he once told the Reader, “Well, I had my own sack at the age of eight or nine years old. I could carry up to 70, 80 pounds.”
It was in fact his background in gardens that resulted in his obtaining his first guitar. “Man said, ‘Will you come on over and help me pull weeds in my garden? I’m gonna give you this guitar.’ We pulled weeds all day. He tried to show me how to play country-western, but I just hated what he was doin’.”
Later, his pianist father owned a nightclub frequented by players who’d become blues legends. “Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Tampa Red would come out to the farm and perform. Saturday. Sometimes on a Friday night. The people made their own whiskey and stuff out there. They made wine and whiskey [during Prohibition]. But I tell you something: As long as it stayed on that farm, the law didn’t come out there. I didn’t think about it ’til years later, all that shit people were makin’.”
At the age of 16, Courtney was hired on as a tap dancer and a singer in the Ringling Brothers Circus minstrel show. He’d taught himself to tap dance after seeing Mr. Bojangles (Bill Robinson) perform on the family farm.
After Ringling Brothers, Courtney continued to perform in traveling variety shows. Learning guitar, he fell easily into the laconic, traditional Delta blues groove. As for his nickname Tomcat, “It was some woman in New Mexico that gave me that name,” he says. “And people been callin’ me that ever since.”
He relocated to California in the 1960s, first to Los Angeles and then to San Diego in 1971. Here, he formed the Bluesdusters, who became house regulars at O.B.’s Texas Teahouse, where he played every week from 1972 to 1992.
After his album San Diego Blues Jam was released by Advent Records in 1974, he mainly concentrated on live performances. Later in his career, he sometimes sold cassettes or pressed his own CDs to sell at gigs. Len Rainey & the Midnight Players recorded Courtney’s song “Shake It Up Baby” for their 2000 album I Better Move On.
Signed to Blue Witch Records at the age of 79, his album Downsville Blues was released in May 2008. It includes many of his own compositions, as well as classic covers like Mance Lipscomb’s “Meet Me in the Bottom” and Tampa Red’s “Cryin’ Won’t Help You.”
Downsville Blues was number one on several of the European blues charts in 2009, and his European charting and record sales earned him an invitation to the prestigious 2010 Montreux Jazz Festival. After playing Montreux and touring Europe, Courtney was inducted into the California Blues Hall of Fame.
In 2010, he won Best Blues at the San Diego Music Awards. In early 2013, he landed a residency playing old-school one-man blues concerts at La Gran Tapa every Tuesday. The following year, the San Diego Music Awards gave him a Lifetime Achievement statue.
Even into his 90s, right up until the pandemic lockdown, Courtney was still playing gigs every week.
Featuring bonus track of more than 15 minutes - the first studio recording of the song “Rétrovision”!
It was at the Olympia in June 1980 that the 10th anniversary of Magma was celebrated during three memorable evenings.
This retrospective, bringing together most of the musicians who were part of the group, saw the light of day in the form of 2 albums, one double, Retrospektïw 1/2 the other single, Retrospektïw 3 which was, despite its numbering, published in first. Three titles make up the menu of this Retrospektïw 3: “Retrovision,” a long piece in the continuity of the spirit of the music of the album Attahk, where, on a hellish train, the voices of Stella Vander, Guy Khalifa and Maria Popkiewicz display an astonishing ease, “Hhaï,” in a supercharged version where the Lockwood/Paganotti/Widemann trio performs wonders, and finally “La Dawotsin” where, in a much calmer register, the voice of Christian Vander captivates by its mastery and its depth sensitivity.
A bonus of more than 15 minutes appears on this reissue, it is the first studio recording of the song “Rétrovision,” a pre-production demo for a studio album made in January 1980. Finally, “Rétrovision” will never exist in a studio version.
Recorded as Retrospektïw 3 during the evenings of the Olympia in June 1980, Retrospektïw 1/2 is a fundamental album insofar as it finally presents “Theusz Hamtaahk,” the first movement of the trilogy of the same name, of which we already knew the second movement, “Ẁurdah Ïtah,” as well as the third, “Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh.”
A piece performed on stage since 1974, “Theusz Hamtaahk” waited years before being engraved for eternity, because Christian Vander wanted each note to be beautiful, magical, essential and definitive. It is with the same respect for the music that he also offers us on this double album a magnificent version of “Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh,” a version which allows itself two great moments with the hallucinating improvisations of Bernard Paganotti and Didier Lockwood. Klaus Blasquiz, who did not appear on the Retrospektïw 3 album, provides lead vocals this time.
Without a doubt, Magma has left the legacy of constantly evolving music, which defies all standards and connivance of rock, evolving in a universe of their own creation.
AVAILABLE JANUARY 25, 2021
For more information:
Magma's official website: www.magmamusic.org
Seventh Records: www.seventhrecords.com
Bobby Few (October 21, 1935 – January 6, 2021) was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in the Fairfax neighborhood of the city's East Side. Bobby died aged 85.
He was an American jazz pianist and vocalist. Upon his mother's encouragement, he studied classical piano but later discovered jazz upon listening to his father's Jazz at the Philharmonic records. His father became his first booking agent and soon Few was gigging around the greater Cleveland area with other local musicians including Bill Hardman, Bob Cunningham, Cevera Jefferies, and Frank Wright. He was exposed to Tadd Dameron and Benny Bailey as a youth and knew Albert Ayler, with whom he played in high school.
As a young man, Few also gigged with local tenor legend Tony "Big T" Lovano - Joe Lovano's father. In the late 1950s Few relocated to New York, where he led a trio from 1958 to 1964; there, he met and began working with many world-class musicians, including singer Brook Benton, and saxophonists Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson, and Ayler.
Few played on several of Ayler's albums and also recorded with Alan Silva, Noah Howard, Muhammad Ali, Booker Ervin, and Kali Fasteau. Some of Few's various playing styles were described by Kevin Whitehead: "He can play delicate single-note melodies, roll out lush romantic chords, rap out explicitly Monkish close-interval clanks - though he's a busier pianist than Monk - or roil around in classic freestyle, using a sustain pedal to shape the density of his sound".
In 1969 he moved to France and rapidly integrated the expatriate jazz community, working frequently with Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, Steve Lacy, and Rasul Siddik. From 2001, he toured internationally with American saxophonist Avram Fefer, with whom he recorded four critically acclaimed CDs.
Dearon Thompson (March 10, 1965 – January 7, 2021) was born in Los Angeles, California. Thompson died at the age of 55. According to TMZ, his BROTHER Marshawn believes the star died of a heart attack, though no official cause of death has been revealed. His death comes less than 12 years after he spent six hours in surgery to address a leaking heart valve and enlarged aorta.
Dearon known professionally as Deezer D, was an American actor, rapper, and motivational speaker. He was best known for his role as Nurse Malik McGrath in the American medical television series ER and for his roles in the films CB4 and Fear of a Black Hat. Between the years of 1994 and 2009, he racked up 190 episodes on ER, many of them acting opposite the show's breakout star George Clooney.
Deezer D's album, Delayed, But Not Denied, was available on iTunes and from his website August 8, 2008. Previously, Thompson released Unpredictable (2002) and Living Up in a Down World (1999).
Singer-songwriter Ed Bruce, who wrote "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and more classic country hits, has died. According to a press release from his representative, Bruce died in Clarksville, Tenn., on Friday (Jan. 8) from natural causes at the age of 81.
Born on December 29, 1939, in Keiser, Arkansas, Bruce moved to Memphis with his family early in his life, and he considered Tennessee his home state, according to his official biography on his website. He began writing songs in his teens and, and he first began recording on the legendary Memphis-based Sun Records in 1957 while still a senior in high school, releasing a single titled "Rock Boppin' Baby" under the name Edwin Bruce.
He wrote "Save Your Kisses" for pop star Tommy Roe in 1962, and in 1965, Charlie Louvin recorded his song "See the Big Man Cry," which scored a No. 7 hit. Bruce spent the next decade-plus recording for a variety of labels including RCA and Wand/Scepter, but mainstream success continued to elude him as he also began to do voiceover work. He scored his first chart single in 1967 with "Walker's Woods," and also scored small successes with "Everybody Wants to Get to Heaven" and "Song for Jenny" after signing with Monument in 1969.
The 1970s saw Bruce's career fortunes change considerably, with Tanya Tucker and Crystal Gayle recording "The Man That Turned My Mama On" and "Restless," respectively, in 1974, while Bruce himself finally scored a Top 20 hit with "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" in 1976.
Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings recorded "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" as a duet in 1978, taking the song to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and winning a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1979. That track appeared in the Robert Redford and Jane Fonda movie The Electric Horseman, which also featured Nelson in his acting debut. Tanya Tucker also scored a No. 5 hit with Bruce's "Texas (When I Die)" in 1978.
Bruce signed with MCA Records in 1980, where he would score a string of solo successes that included "Diane," "The Last Cowboy Song," "When You Fall In Love (Everything's a Waltz)," "Evil Angel" and "Love's Found You And Me." He reached No. 1 with "You're the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had" in 1982.
He returned to RCA Records in 1984 and reached No. 3 hit with "You Turn Me On Like a Radio" in 1985. Bruce scored his final Top 10 single with "Nights" in 1986 and his last Top 40 single with "Quietly Crazy" in 1987.
Bruce also made a name for himself as an actor, appearing on TV's Bret Maverick alongside Jamer Garner, as well as hosting Truckin' USA and American Sports Cavalcade on The Nashville Network and appearing in made-for-TV movies, including The Chisolms and The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James. He graced the big screen in Fire Down Below with Steven Seagal, among other films.
Bruce received the Arkansas Country Music Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2018. No funeral plans have been announced.
Helaas moeten wij u melden dat, door de ontwikkelingen rondom het covid-19 virus en de bijkomende onzekerheden, Moulin Blues 2021 geen doorgang zal vinden.
Het is een fikse teleurstelling dat we twee opeenvolgende jaren geen Moulin Blues in Ospel kunnen vieren. Echter staat de veiligheid en gezondheid van de bezoekers, vrijwilligers en de samenleving voorop. De huidige situatie biedt in zijn algemeenheid, onvoldoende perspectief om het festival te organiseren.
Wat betekent dit nu concreet?
Er zal in 2021 geen Moulin Blues festival georganiseerd worden. Wij richten onze blik op het jaar 2022.
Voor diegenen die al een ticket hadden voor Moulin Blues 2020 en destijds hebben besloten dit om te zetten naar een ticket voor Moulin Blues 2021, bieden wij twee opties:
Stichting Rhythm & Blues Ospel
Acclaimed Blues/Roots Musician Randy McAllister Offers Up "Paperbag Salvation" on New CD Coming April 23rd
“Roustabout, maverick, spiritual, gritty, amazing, genius, wild, bad-ass, soulful:” these are some of the words used to describe East Texas-born bona fide blue blood, Randy McAllister, who will release his new CD, Paperbag Salvation, April 23rd on Reaction Records.
Now based in Hermosa, South Dakota, McAllister is revered and critically-acclaimed true blues/roots original. An award-winning artist who plays driving drums and a world-class harmonica, he writes incredible songs and sings in a powerfully soul-drenched voice.
Paperbag Salvation showcases all of McAllister’s singing, songwriting and performing skills on ten original songs that also highlight his stellar band: Brandon Hudspeth - guitar on all tracks; Howard Mahan- guitar on track 2; Paul Greenlease- bass; Adam Hagerman- drums; and Heather Newman- background vocals.
McAllister has a knack for keen wordplay in both his songs and their titles, and he shared his thoughts on several of them from the new album. “‘You're Like Mashed Potatoes’ was based on building around that line with the sentiment of how a kid might say how much he loves something. Like a lot of 50s and 60s soul numbers where many songs were sung by kids coming from a kids perspective. ‘Ain't no need to make this complicated, some things are so good they can't be overstated,’ says a line from the song.
“‘Most Irritating Person in the World’ was also originally just based on a line that I thought would be funny to do something with. Then I had a day where someone was asking me questions and then talking over me when I would answer, all the while I was backing up because they were so close they were spitting on me. The more I backed up the closer they got. I also had someone park their car so close to my driver’s side door that I had to get through the passenger side. Seemed like a good day to start writing. ‘I take one step back, you take two steps up, I 'm trying to make some space but you won't let me get enough,’ I sing in that song.
“‘No Conductor’ was originally recorded as an aggressive soul rocker. I eventually decided to frame the lyrics in a ballad form. I like the contrast of lyrics that seem to say something different than the music.
“In ‘Personal Piñata,’ I thought it would be fun to write a song where all the rejection and heartache someone felt while pursuing someone was equal to being a piñata being whacked with a stick. But all the while keeping a positive attitude knowing that if you can keep hanging in there they'll eventually see how good the insides are. ‘Take a few whacks until I crack, spill my insides but I keep coming back.’”
Randy McAllister has been flying in the face of convention his whole career; no smoke, no mirrors, no choreography, no industry machines. Just a much deserved reputation built on hard work, years of developing his craft and bringing his one-of-a kind show to every corner of the map.
Raised in the small Texas town of Novice, McAllister is a sixth generation Texan. Following in his father's footsteps, Randy started on drums at age nine. He discovered the harmonica in his early 20s while stationed in Massachusetts as a member of the USAF, taking cues from blues legend "Earring George" Mayweather, a Boston resident and harmonica master. McAllister moved to Alaska in 1989, where he spent the next three years playing in various bands. By the time he returned to Texas in 1992, he had developed into a strong, talented harp player who was also establishing a reputation as a skilled vocalist and songwriter. In 1997, McAllister signed with JSP Records, releasing three highly acclaimed CDs before going on to issue recordings on Severn Records (with Mike Morgan) and on Reaction Records.
Living Blues Magazine called him, “A first-rate drummer, harmonica player and potently soulful singer whose well-crafted songs reveal a depth of creativity not only in storytelling, social commentary and word play, but in the sophisticated arrangements and blurring stylistic boundaries. With an expressive vocal register falling somewhere between the soulful effervescence of Al Green and the blunt hammer of Johnny Taylor, a shrewd wit and an admirable turn of a phrase, McAllister cements himself as a blues bard archetype.”
Na jaren bassen en backing vocals zingen bij verschillende groepen zoals Barbie Bangkok, Nightwitches, Louie Louie, Crites, ERIIS, … besliste Mirabelle van de Put om uit haar comfort zone te stappen en iets nieuw te proberen ... op zichzelf. Het doel was om een groep op te richten, op te nemen in de studio en op te treden. Maar de pandemie stak er een stokje voor.
In plaats van te wachten tot alles bedaarde, maakte ze gebruik van de opgelegde vrije tijd om een nieuw avontuur aan te gaan. HAZE was geboren. Ze heeft alles zelf, thuis in haar kamer ingespeeld en opgenomen, behalve een aantal perfect aanvullende gitaar partijen die Miguel Moors voor zijn rekening nam. De eerlijkheid en breekbaarheid in de muziek doet denken aan PJ Harvey en Mazzy Star. Rustgevende vocals, gitaren met een hoek af en laidback drum beats zetten de toon voor dit debuut album dat wordt uitgebracht door het Canadese label Off White House Records.
De eerste single “FLU” is een observatie over hoe iedereen op zijn eigen manier omgaat met de pandemie en de gevolgen ervan.
Namid & Sondervan is a collaboration between jazz quartet Namid and live coder Dago Sondervan
Namid & Sondervan. Een jazz-kwartet en een live-coder. Het analoge met het digitale. De saxofoons en effecten van Vincent Brijs, de contrabas van Fré Madou, de altsax van Sara Meyer, de drums van Maarten Moesen en de algorhythm-and-blues van Dago Sondervan. Het gaat allemaal de deeltjesversneller in en dan is het wachten op een botsing van atomen.
'Ohmu' is de eerste single van hun debuutalbum dat klaarligt om uit te komen op Rotkat Records (18 maart 21).
Releaseconcert 18/03 in DeSingel, en zodra het kan ook live bij u in de buurt.
Deze clip is gefilmd door Henry Commerman met als assistent Lothar Legon in art center Hugo Voeten, met dank aan Eveline Heylen. Montage door Laurent Vanderstokken, script en regie door Dago Sondervan en de costumes mochten we zelf kiezen uit de stock van Ann Lauwerys.
Vincent Brijs: alto & baritone saxophone, EWI & effects
Fré Madou: double bass and effects
Sara Meyer: alto & tenor saxophone
Maarten Moesen: drums
Dago Sondervan: live coding/electronica
Neil Young heeft de muziekrechten van zijn songs verkocht aan het investeringsfonds Hipgnosis Songs Fund. De 75-jarige Canadese rocker krijgt 150 miljoen dollar (120 miljoen euro) voor 50 procent van de rechten van 1.180 liedjes. Dat meldt de BBC.
Hipgnosis Songs Fund, dat mensen laat investeren in hitnummers, gaf eerder ongeveer 1,1 miljard euro uit aan rechten op nummers van onder meer Mark Ronson, Chic, Barry Manilow en Blondie.
De topman van het investeringsdfonds, Merck Mercuriadis, is bijzonder verheugd over de samenwerking met Neil Young. "Deze deal verandert Hipgnosis voor altijd. Ik kocht mijn eerste Neil Young-album toen ik zeven jaar oud was. 'Harvest' was mijn metgezel en ik ken elke noot, elk woord, elke pauze en stilte", aldus Mercuriadis, voormalig manager van onder meer Elton John, Iron Maiden en Beyoncé.
Neil Young zag het levenslicht in 1945 en heeft al menig muzikaal vaarwater doorzwommen. Hij bracht ruim 40 studioalbums uit en is bekend van nummers als 'Harvest Moon', 'Heart of Gold' en 'Rockin' in the Free World'.
In december raakte bekend dat Universal Music Publishing Group de volledige muziekcatalogus van singer-songwriter Bob Dylan overgenomen heeft. Volgens vertrouwelingen van Dylan is de catalogus zeker 200 miljoen dollar waard. Het gaat om meer dan 600 nummers, waaronder enkele iconische hits zoals 'Blowin' In The Wind', 'The Times They Are a-Changin' en 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door'.
Valentine’s Day 2021 delivers an unexpected and welcome surprise with the release of “A Romantic’s Guide to King Crimson,” the new 12-track album of reinvented King Crimson material by the husband-and-wife duo Deborah and Pat Mastelotto. The collection, which spans the band’s entire history, revisits classics including “Matte Kudasai,” “Heartbeat,” “Moonchild,” “Elephant Talk,” “Peace,” “Exiles,” and “Sleepless.”
Pat Mastelotto is an American rock drummer and record producer who has worked with King Crimson, Mr. Mister, XTC, The Rembrandts and many others. Pat has served as one of King Crimson’s drummers from 1995 to the present day. This album resulted from Pat’s observations and Deborah’s insights made after she intermittently joined Pat on tour as part of the King Crimson entourage from 2008 onwards.
“It’s always been a joke in the King Crimson camp that there’s never a line for the women’s restrooms during intermissions,” said Deborah. “King Crimson plays loud and it’s often intense and raucous. But it can also be haunting and melodic, with some of the most beautiful lyrics ever. We wanted to help uncover that sweetness and introduce the songs to a different type of audience with ‘A Romantic’s Guide to King Crimson.’”
“The album has amazing contributions from all the musicians involved, especially the TOAPP (Three of a Perfect Pair Music Masters Camp) artists,” said Pat. “We experimented together and since they were already lifelong Crim Heads, they were totally into reconfiguring the classic performances or developing totally new parts. So, get ready. You’ll hear some fantastic detail in their playing.”
The recording features material they chose and arranged together with lead vocals by Deborah, a creative Tour de Force in her own right, and with Pat drumming and producing.
“We compiled King Crimson songs and searched for the romanticism in them, then rearranged them,” said Deborah. “The addition of a girl singer automatically changes the feel of those songs and places them in a different genre. Our idea is to create a way for people, especially women, to appreciate the beauty of King Crimson’s music without the fear and sometimes resistance attached to the word ‘prog’ getting in the way. We slow the songs way down and strip them back to their essential lyrics and melodies.”
“In the Crimson tradition, we approached every song as if it was brand new,” said Pat. “At first, it involved tinkering with 20-plus songs in hotel rooms using iPhone apps to choose what worked best for us. We first focused on the lyrics. The words had to resonate and the arrangements had to develop a prog-meets-pop twist to meet my hopes. We had no desire to duplicate the original arrangements. In fact, just the opposite. I was trying to discover where else they could go to expose sweetness, sort of like the old days of cassettes and giving a loved one a mixtape. It’s a gift to fans and a family of former Crims.“
The Mastelottos started the recordings in 2019 by inviting the Texas TOAPP alumni, including members of the Houston symphony, to record in Pat’s home studio in the Texas Hill Country. After a quick trip to Nagoya for his one and only live gig of 2020, which yielded the live Stick Men album “Owari,” Pat returned and spent months with Deborah during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown finishing the project. The result is an album full of lush nuance and ornamentation designed to put listeners in a meditative and buoyant mood.
“The lockdown resulted in a year of cancelled shows, which gave us time to realize the album,” said Pat. “This grand reboot of humanity made being a couple all the more important, nurturing relationships with people we love, gardening and doing home projects while creating this album together was a beautiful experience.”
“2020 has given us the longest period of consecutive days, weeks and months we’ve ever spent together,” said Deborah. “Our close proximity enabled a continuous dialog and working environment, so we never had to break the creative flow.”
“Working from home meant we could take the listening experience from the studio to the car to the bedroom…to test drive…so to speak,” added Pat.
“Heat up the hot tub, fluff your pillows and head to the softer side of the bed for the pinkest Crimson ever”
1. Two Hands
2. Matte Kudasai
5. Inner Garden
6. One Time (Eyes Wide Open)
8. Book Of Saturday
10. Elephant Talk
TOAPP musicians Appearing on the record:
From other parts of the world:
Kara Day Spurlock
Additional musicians and engineers:
Cover Art: Ana Fuentes
Design: Denis Rodier
Released February 14, 2021
The following is a joint statement from Harvey Mason Jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy; Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming, CBS; and Ben Winston, GRAMMY Awards Executive Producer, Fulwell 73 Productions.
"After thoughtful conversations with health experts, our host and artists scheduled to appear, we are rescheduling the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards® to be broadcast Sunday, March 14, 2021. The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.
We want to thank all of the talented artists, the staff, our vendors and especially this year's nominees for their understanding, patience and willingness to work with us as we navigate these unprecedented times."
DESTIN, FL (5 January 2021): There is something beautiful about artists whose insight into the human condition and world affairs allows them to create works that truly meet the moment, help us transcend our anxieties and capture our hopes for a brighter, kinder and more compassionate world.
Michael J Thomas’ soaring soprano driven power ballad “Only Love” is more than simply the latest infectious single from the saxophonist’s popular EP Stream’n Love. Originally co-written and recorded by vocalist Jordan Smith it is an essential anthem for our time – a heartfelt yet empowering musical message that offers a way forward from the dark times, fears and challenges of 2020 into a brighter day. Thomas’ belief in the lyrics that “Only love can save us now/Keep the world from burning down. . .Only love can look inside the human heart/And see us for who we are…” inspired him to take the extraordinary step of releasing “Only Love” as a dual single that includes both an instrumental version and a vocal version showcasing the multi-talented musician’s equally soulful talents as a singer.
Thomas, who became an instant contemporary urban jazz sensation when his single “Baby Coffee” stayed at #1 on the Billboard National Smooth Jazz Airplay and Smooth Jazz Songs charts in 2017/2018, has been on a momentous roll this past year and a half. “I’ll Never Love Again,” his explosive re-imagining of the Lady Gaga hit from “A Star is Born,” became his second #1 Billboard smash, dominating the smooth jazz airwaves throughout 2019. Thomas’ cleverly titled, silky light funk follow-up single “Sippin’ The Yak” hit #2 on the charts, remained in the Top 5 for nine weeks, and rounded out 2020 on Billboard’s Year-End Smooth Jazz Songs chart at #5.
Like those tracks, “Only Love” was produced by Trammell Starks, Carl Griffin, and Thomas. It features keys, synths, strings, and percussion by Starks (who also did the string arrangements), in addition to Chris Blackwell on guitars, Sam Sims’ on bass, and Louis K Newsom on drums, with backing vocals by Chantae Cann.
“While we originally recorded it before the events of 2020 unfolded, it’s definitely more relevant than ever now, not only because of concerns related to the pandemic but our political climate where so many people are at odds with each other,” Thomas says. “It’s about digging deeper down into our hearts, being kind and having respect for people and letting that be our guiding purpose so that love may prevail. We’re releasing it in time for Valentine’s Day, but as much as I love a good romantic love song, only the true spirit of universal love can save us.”
“You clearly know what you’re doing, and it’s great…congrats on an impressive career.” - Dave Grusin, Legendary GRAMMY® winning Music Producer / Arranger / Musician, ACADEMY AWARD® winner, and the G in GRP Records)
"Michael J Thomas’ six-track EP “Stream’n Love” showcases the saxophonist/songwriter’s prodigious talents, starting with his technical excellence and warm, rounded sax tone, which is interwoven with lush, synth-laden tracks. Thomas’ engaging original melodies ("Sippin The Yak”) and tuneful covers elevate this engaging project. Highly recommended." - Carol Archer, Radio & Records (R&R) Smooth Jazz Editor, 1994-2009
Boston Dynamics’ latest video featuring several of its robots welcoming 2021 in style has gone viral with more than 15 millions views. In a stunning dance video that’s part celebration of an incredible engineering achievement, the MIT sing-off company showed four of its robots performing fully choreographed dance moves to The Contours’ iconic Motown hit ‘Do you love me’.
In the nearly 3-minute video, two humanoid robots of the company named Atlas kicks off the routine with some quirky moves.
But when the company’s most famous robot, Spot the robot dog joins in, it takes the choreography to a whole new level, twirling and bending to imitate breakdance moves, wowing many online.
In the end, another robot named Handle, specially designed to move boxes also joins in, punching in some knockout moves.
While most were taken by surprise, they couldn’t deny robots dancing talent was slightly eerie, however, lauded the efforts of the engineers to make this possible.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk too shared the video online saying, “This is not CGI”. Later posted another screenshot from the video adding: “Snake-head dog had my undivided attention until winder-head ostrich came gliding through all nonchalant”.
Jazz bassist Eugene Wright has died, aged 97.
The American bassist was the last surviving member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, with whom he played with from 1958 until 1968.
With the Brubeck Quartet, he recorded jazz classics such as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo à la Turk".
Wright played under bandleaders Count Basie and Erroll Garner and performed with jazz greats Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of bassist Eugene Wright yesterday at the age of 97," the Brubeck Estate posted on Instagram. "He remained a good friend and honorary Uncle to the Brubeck family to the end."
Elton John heeft zijn akkoord gegeven voor een Netflix-documentaire over zijn leven. 'The Pillars of Hercules' zal vooral de carrière van de Britse zanger in de jaren 70 belichten, meldt de tabloid The Sun.
De documentaire wordt geproduceerd door Davey Johnstone, een gitarist die de "Rocketman" lange tijd op zijn wereldtournees heeft vergezeld. "Davey heeft de zegen gekregen van Elton en zijn man David Furnish", klinkt het bij een bron die The Sun kon spreken.
In de documentaire zullen verschillende backstagebeelden te zien zijn die nooit eerder vertoond zijn, bijvoorbeeld van een ontmoeting tussen Elton John en Beatles-zanger John Lennon.
Het is nog niet bekend wanneer de documentaire op Netflix te zien is. In 2019 verscheen er een biografische film over de Britse zanger. 'Rocketman' bracht wereldwijd ongeveer 159 miljoen euro op.
Liam Reilly (January 29, 1955 – January 1, 2021) was born in Dundalk, Ireland. At 65 Reilly died "suddenly and peacefully" at his home.
He was an Irish singer/songwriter and a member of the group Bagatelle, formed in 1978 by drummer Walter (Wally) McConville along with bass player Ken Doyle and guitarist John O’Brien. In 1980 while recording the band's debut album, Reilly had received an offer from Gus Dudgeon (Elton John's producer, who has since died) to begin a solo career in return for leaving the other band members to their own devices.
However, Reilly refused and insisted on sticking by the other members as they had done the same for him until that point. After leaving the group in the mid-1980s he moved to Savannah, Georgia, and began a solo career. In this time he recorded an album called Savannah Serenade which featured much of Reilly's keyboards and vocals. In 1988 he was a finalist in the Irish heats of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Lifeline".
Reilly came back to arrive second in the event in 1990 with "Somewhere in Europe". He performed this at the Eurovision Song Contest 1990 staged in Zagreb and was placed joint second out of the 22 entries. As a composer, Reilly returned to Eurovision in Rome in 1991 where his song "Could It Be That I'm In Love", performed by Kim Jackson, was placed equal tenth.
Geoff Stephens, a songwriter whose compositions were turned into hits by both British and American artists in the 1960s and ’70s, died on Dec. 24. Neither the cause nor place of death have yet been reported. Stephens was 86.
Among the many Stephens songs that graced the charts—most co-written with other songwriters—were Tom Jones’ “Daughter of Darkness,” Herman’s Hermits’ “There’s a Kind of Hush,” “Sorry Suzanne” by the Hollies, Mary Hopkin’s “Knock, Knock Who’s There?” and “My World Fell Down” by Sagittarius.
Stephens’ song “The Crying Game,” written without a collaborator, became a U.K. hit for Dave Berry and was later used as the theme song for the same-titled film and covered by Boy George.
Another Stephens hit was ‘Winchester Cathedral’ which he wrote solo and recorded with a group of his own creation, the New Vaudeville Band. Their recording reached #1 in the U.S. and won the 1967 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording. It was also covered by Frank Sinatra and others. The New Vaudeville Band followed “Winchester Cathedral” with “Peek A Boo,” “Finchley Central” and “Green Street Green,” but none repeated the success of the debut.
In 1965, Stephens, along with Peter Eden, discovered Scottish folk singer Donovan; Stephens then co-produced the 19-year-old’s debut album, What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid.
Geoffrey Stephens was born on Oct. 1, 1934, in New Southgate, North London, England. He began his career writing songs for musical theater works, then moved into pop music in the early ’60s. His first top 10 U.K. hit was “Tell Me When.” co-written with Les Reed, recorded by the Applejacks.
Stephens was constantly in demand during the ’60s, preferring to collaborate with other writers, among them John Carter, Roger Greenaway and Mitch Murray. With Carter, Stephens wrote “Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James” for Manfred Mann. “There’s a Kind of Hush,” originally penned with Reed for the New Vaudeville Band (and later covered by the Carpenters), became a #4 hit for Herman’s Hermits in the U.S. Stephens also co-wrote “Smile a Little Smile for Me,” a 1969 top 5 hit for the Flying Machine.
Other artists who cut Stephens’ songs included Cliff Richard, Scott Walker, Hot Chocolate, Lulu, Connie Francis, the Drifters, Gene Pitney, the Ivy League, Bobby Darin, David Soul, the New Seekers and Crystal Gayle (“It’s Like We Never Said Goodbye”). With Peter Callander, Stephens wrote “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast,” which became Wayne Newton’s only top 5 hit in the U.S. Elvis Presley also recorded and released three of Stephens’ songs: “This Is Our Dance,” “The Heart of Rome” and “Sylvia.”
Following his string of pop hits, Stephens returned to composing for the theater, including a West End production of Bonnie & Clyde.
Ex-Children Of Bodom singer and guitarist Alexi Laiho has died following “long term health issues” at the age of 41.
According to his label, Naplam, the Finnish musician passed away at home in Heklsinki last week. Although no cause of death was specified, the 41-year-old had reportedly been suffering from what were described as “long term health issues”.
Laiho founded Children Of Bodom in 1993, and led them until they split up at the end of 2019. In 2020, he formed a new band, Bodom After Midnight.
"We are crushed by the sudden passing of our dear friend and band member. Words cannot describe this shock and the profound sadness that we feel", said his Bodom After Midnight bandmates Daniel Freyberg, Mitja Toivonen and Waltteri Väyrynen.
Laiho’s wife, Kelli Laiho-Wright, said: "Alexi was the most loving and magnificent husband and father. Our hearts are eternally broken.”