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BETTY WILLIS DIES...

Thursday, 04 January 2018 19:38 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altUS media sources are reporting the death at age 76 of soul singer BETTY WILLIS. It seems that Ms Willis had fallen on hard times and was living on the streets of Santa Ana, California. It appears that she was sexually assaulted and murdered in a local shopping mall parking area on New Year's Day. A 22 year old man has been charged with her murder.

Betty Willis worked in and around California in the early 60s. She was the "Rachel" in the Brian Wilson mentored group Rachel and the Revolvers (though this has been disputed by some soul anoraks) and she also worked with Phil Spector. Her best known solo recording is possibly 'Take Your Heart' which was released on 1962 on the small Mojo label. The track appeared on the Kent compilation 'Birth Of Soul Volume 4'.

Betty Willis was to eventually leave the music business and she worked for many years at the U.S. Postal Service in Santa Ana California as a mail clerk before retiring and, clearly, since then, falling into financial difficulties.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 January 2018 19:49

 

WILBERT LONGMIRE DIES

Thursday, 04 January 2018 11:18 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                        altIt has been announced that noted jazz guitarist, WILBERT LONGMIRE, renowned for his stylish fretboard work, has passed away at the age of 77.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, Longmire first came to the attention of many R&B and jazz fans in the late 1970s when he recorded for Bob James' short-lived Tappan Zee label. Enthusiastically recommended to James by another guitarist, George Benson, Longmire recorded three LPs for Tappan Zee between 1978 and 1980. 'Sunny Side Up' was his debut, followed by 'Champagne,' and 'With All My Love,' the latter two charting in the US R&B chart.

Longmire was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and learned the violin as a child before gravitating to the guitar. The first band he played in was a Motown-revue style group called The Students. When he was 23, he joined Hammond hero, Hank Marr's combo in the early '60s and later joined the band of another organist, Philly-based Trudy Pitts, playing on two of the latter's LPs for Prestige. In the late '60s, he did sessions with French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and west coast arranger, Gerald Wilson. Longmire released his first album in 1969. It was called 'Revolution' and was helmed by noted pianist and Jazz Crusaders' member, Joe Sample. Longmire didn't record his next album - 'This Side Of Heaven' - until 1976, by which time he was on the indie label, J&M.

After his stint with Tappan Zee, Longmire fell off the radar for many years. In recent years, his albums for Tappan Zee  have been been reissued in the UK and Japan. His work can be heard on a forthcoming Cherry Red compilation, 'The Very Best Of Tappan Zee,' released on February 9th, which features Longmire's 'Black Is The Color,' 'Good Morning,' 'Love's Holiday,' and 'Take Your Time.' 

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Last Updated on Thursday, 04 January 2018 19:50

 

RICK HALL DIES...

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 20:42 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altLegendary record producer RICK HALL died yesterday, Tuesday, January 2nd. He was aged 85 and passed away at his home in Muscle Shoals after returning from a stay in a local nursing home shortly before Christmas.

Born Roe Erister Hall in 1932 in Forest Grove, Tishomingo County, Mississippi, Hall straddled the worlds of soul, pop, gospel and country and worked with some of the most iconic artists in those genres.

As a child he learned to play mandolin and guitar in the established country style and his entry to the music world was as a songwriter in the fifties. He penned country flavoured songs for artists like George Jones, Roy Orbison and Brenda Lee. Hall was to marry his first wife, Faye, in 1955. Tragically she died in a car smash 18 months later; two weeks after that his father died in a tractor accident and a young Hall found solace in drink. However in 1959 he set up his own music publishing company in the town of Florence, Alabama... "Florence Alabama Music Enterprises" ....i.e. FAME.

Then the following year he set up FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, where one of his first recordings was Arthur Alexander's classic 'You Better Move On'. Licensed to Dot records, it was a hit and with the royalties Hall improved his studio facilities. His other major early success was Percy Sledge's 'When a Man Loves a Woman' on which he worked with producer Quinn Ivy. The success of that song encouraged other artists to come down to Muscle Shoals to work with Hall at FAME ; amongst them are Wilson Pickett (pictured with a young Hall, below), James and Bobby Purify, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Etta James, Otis Redding, Candi Staton, Etta James and Arthur Conley.

By the late 60s he had established his own FAME label – an outlet for people like Clarence Carter and Candi Staton (the pair were later to marry). In the 70s Rick worked with a long list of pop artists all eager to have some of the Muscle Shoals magic rub off on them and later he moved more into the country arena.

In 1971 Billboard named Rick Hall producer of the Year and in 1985 he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. In 2014, Hall was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award. Hall published his memoirs in a book titled 'The Man from Muscle Shoals: My Journey from Shame to Fame' in 2015.

The sale of two of his six publishing companies made Hall very wealthy and enabled him to donate a mansion he had built to a charity for children from a background of poverty.... like his own.

Rick Hall is survived by his second wife, Linda, whom he married in 1968, and by three sons, Rick Jr, Mark and Rodney, and five grandchildren.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 January 2018 20:51

 

GOLDEN GRAHAMS...

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 20:40 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altSalford-born GRAHAM GOULDMAN is the latest songwriter to be honoured with a compilation album in Ace Records Writers series. 'Listen People... the Graham Gouldman Songbook 1964-2005' collects together 24 of his best songs performed by artists from across a number of genres.

Best known, perhaps for writing pop smashes for the Hollies, the Yardbirds and Herman's Hermits (all have tracks included) Graham was also one quarter of the hugely successful 10CC and their included track is the jaunty 'The Things We Do For Love'.

The interest for soul collectors here is the inclusion of Dee Dee Sharp's version of 'I'm Not In Love'. A little more strident than the sensitive original, it does offer a fresh perspective. Soul-wise, you also get Larry Williams and Johnny Guitar Watson's reading of the Yardbirds' 'For Your Love'.

Interestingly there's also cuts from Morrissey and McFly. McFly's tune is a 2005 Gouldman song, 'I've Got You'. It closes the album and contrasts nicely with the opener – a 60s beat classic from the Mockingbirds (fronted by Gouldman), 'That's How It's Gonna Stay'.

Graham Gouldman still tours today – both in an incarnation of 10CC and solo. His solo shows are well worth checking out – full of anecdotes and lots of great tunes..... like these here!

'Listen People... the Graham Gouldman Songbook 1964-2005' is out now on Ace Records.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 January 2018 20:53

 

KEVIN MAHOGANY DIES....

Saturday, 30 December 2017 14:45 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

altJazz singer Kevin Mahogany died on December 17th. He was 59. His sister Carmen Julious told KCUR-FM Radio that her brother died last Sunday. Cause of death was not disclosed.

Born in Kansas city in 1958 Mahogany released a dozen or so solo albums and also taught at the University of Miami and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In addition to singing, he played the saxophone and clarinet. The singer was known for his rich baritone and many commentators saw him as the successor to people like Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams. Soul fans in particular revered his 2002 album 'Pride And Joy' – a set of special versions of 11 Motown classics. They included a lovely reading of 'Neither One Of Us'.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 30 December 2017 14:48

 

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