(65), singer-songwriter and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan was born on December 25, 1957, in Pembury, Kent, England, but was raised in Tipperary, Ireland, by his parents, Maurice and Therese MacGowan. Shane's upbringing was rooted in Irish culture and republican politics, and his family played a crucial role in shaping his musical sensibilities.
His formative years were marked by an appreciation for traditional Irish music, a passion that he would later blend seamlessly with punk and rock influences. When the family returned to England, his love of English literature earned him a scholarship to Westminster School in London where he encountered fellow aspiring musicians and began honing his songwriting skills, but from which he would later be expelled for possessing drugs.
Shane's musical journey gained momentum in the late 1970s when - using the name 'Shane O’Hooligan’ - he co-founded the punk band "The Nipple Erectors". However, it was with the formation of "The Pogues" in 1982 that he truly found his musical identity. The Pogues, a Celtic punk band, originally called Pogue Mahone (from the Gaelic phrase “kiss my arse”), fused traditional Irish folk with the raw energy of punk, pioneering a genre that resonated globally.
MacGowan's collaborations within The Pogues were instrumental to the band's success. His songwriting partnership with Jem Finer produced some of the band's most iconic tracks, with Spider Stacy, Cait O'Riordan, and Andrew Ranken were among the notable members of The Pogues who contributed to their distinctive sound.
The band, under MacGowan's leadership, released several critically acclaimed albums, including "Rum, Sodomy & the Lash" (1985) and "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" (1988). while iconic tracks such as "Fairytale of New York," "Dirty Old Town," and "The Irish Rover" solidified MacGowan's reputation both as a masterful songwriter and unique interpreter of other writer's work.
While Shane MacGowan and The Pogues didn't amass a collection of major awards, their influence on the music industry itself was immeasurable, and of course "Fairytale of New York" has consistently been hailed as one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time, and has been covered by more than 100 artists. The song's lyrics, which tell the story of a couple, an Irish immigrant and a woman with dreams of a singing career who end up spending Christmas Eve together in a New York City drunk tank, convey a mix of nostalgia, love, remorse and bitterness, making it a unique and emotionally resonant Christmas song, while on the recording, Shane's collaboration with Kirsty MacColl created a memorable and heartfelt duet. The song's instrumentation, which included traditional Irish instruments like the accordion and tin whistle, gave the production a folk-inspired, ethereal feel, notwitstanding the fact that the entire project had only started life as a consequence of a bet that The Pogues would never be able to produce a Christmas song. However, "Fairytale of New York" also faced fierce controversy due to the inclusion of certain phrases that some listeners found offensive and in a number of territories, the song was edited for radio play to remove or modify these lyrics.
Other critically-acclaimed songs penned by Shane included "A Pair of Brown Eyes", "A Rainy Night in Soho", "Christmas Lullaby", "For the Dancing and the Dreaming", "If I Should Fall from Grace with God", "Sally Maclennane", "Summer in Siam", "The Body of an American", "The Sunnyside of the Street", "Dark Streets of London", "Transmetropolitan", "Streams of Whiskey", "The Broad Majestic Shannon", "White City" and "Lullaby Of London", many of would also be covered by prestigious recording acts.
Shane MacGowan's own life was marked by both triumphs and challenges. His struggles with alcohol (he began drinking at the age of five) and drug addiction were well-documented, impacting his health and occasionally leading to tensions within the band. Similarly his remark in Julien Temple’s documentary "Crock Of Gold" that "I was ashamed I didn’t have the guts to join the IRA", led to controversy in the UK. However, his resilience and commitment to his craft kept him a revered figure in the music world, enabling him to work alongside such names as The Dubliners, Joe Strummer, Nick Cave, Steve Earle, Sinéad O'Connor, Johnny Depp, Imelda May, Paddy Moloney, Albert Hammond Jr, Chrissie Hynde & The Pretenders and Ronnie Drew.
In Dublin, Ireland, on November 30, 2023, of complications brought on by viral encephalitis.
© Jim Liddane
(45), singer-songwriter who represented Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Sara Tavares was born on February 1, 1978 in Lisbon, Portugal, into a musically inclined family whose Cape Verdean heritage played a significant role in shaping her artistic sensibilities. Raised in the vibrant cultural landscape of Lisbon, she was exposed to diverse musical influences from an early age, attending the local Saint Cecilia Academy of Music where she further developed her musical talents.
In 1994, she won the Portuguese talent contest Chuva de Estrelasm singing Whitney Houston's "One Moment In Time", and aged just 16, also came first in the Festival da Canção, a victory which earned her the right to represent Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest. Her song, "Chamar a Música," came 8th in the contest held in Dublin, giving Portugal one of its highest placings ever.
Jn 1996, she released her first album ("Sara Tavares & Shout"), and began collaborating with several musicians, transcending cultural and stylistic boundaries. Notable co-writers included the legendary Cesária Évora, a fellow Cape Verdean artist, with whom she shared a deep connection to their shared heritage. She also performed the European-Portuguese version of "God Help the Outcasts" for the Disney movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame".
Among her notable albums were "Mi Ma Bô" (1999), "Balancê" (2006), "Alive! in Lisboa" (2008), "Xinti" (2009) and "Fitxadu" (2017), each album showcasing her evolution as an artist, blending traditional sounds with contemporary production techniques. Her most popular songs included "Bom Feeling," "One Love," and "Ponto de Luz", compositions which not only highlighted her vocal prowess but also reflected her ability to weave compelling narratives through her music.
In Lisbon, Portugal, on November 19, 2023, of a brain tumour first diagnosed in 2009.
© Jim Liddane
(36), Grammy-nominated songwriter.
Born in June 12, 1987, in Princeton, Missouri, Abe Stoklasi debuted on guitar with his father’s band at the age of six, playing music by Elvis, Merle Haggard, The Beatles and James Taylor. By 2001, his family were living in Eagleville, Tennessee, where in 2005, his co-valedictorian speech for Eagleville High School's graduation class caused the school authorities to shut down the microphone and refuse him his diploma, leading to the intervention of the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which forced the school to rescind its decision.
At Belmont University, he met and worked with songwriters Mike Reid ("Stranger In My House") and Mark D. Sanders ("I Hope You Dance"), and after college, enrolled to study jazz at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music.
A supberb musician (he also played saxophone and steel guitar), he toured with Billy Currington and David Nail as well as opening for Kenny Chesney on his legendary 2011 stadium tour. Two years later in 2013, Abe decided to quit the road to concentrate on songwriting, teaming up with Donovan Woods to pen "Portland, Maine" for Tim McGraw.
By 2016, he was #1 on the Country Airplay chart for his contribution to Chris Lane's "Fix" while he was also involved in the writing of Charles Kelley's Grammy-nominated hit "The Driver", as well songs for Billy Currington ("Give It To Me Straight"), Charlie Worsham ("Call You Up"), Scotty McCreery ("Here and Ready"), Lady A ("Ocean"), and Blake Shelton ("A Girl").
In Nashville, Tennessee, USA, on November 17, 2023, of undisclosed causes, although it is believed he had been recently treated for cancer.
© Jim Liddane
(97), record producer.
Born James Francis Vienneau in Albany, New York on September 18, 1926, to a Canadian father (Alfred), an electrical salesman for GE/Hotpoint, and an Irish-American mother (Mary), who played piano in silent-movie cinemas, Jim was educated in Queens, New York after the family moved there in 1929.
Having served in the US Navy as a radioman during World War 2 (he had to get his parents’ permission to enlist as he was under 18), Jim returned to New York enrolling in Pace College’s evening programs where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business.
He also came to the attention of his uncle Frank Walker, who had co-founded MGM Records in New York, as well as producing the early hits of such legendary acts as Hank Williams and Bessie Smith. Frank introduced him to Arnold Maxin, then president of MGM Records, who took him on initially as a trainee producer.
Jim's first #1 hit was "It's Only Make Believe" by Conway Twitty (1958), and he went on to produce all of Twitty's pop hits, as well a achieving Gold Discs for Connie Francis ("Vacation"), Mark Dinning ("Teen Angel"), Marvin Rainwater ("Whole Lotta Woman") and Sheb Wooley ("The Purple People Eater").
In 1965, MGM moved him to Nashville to head up their new country music division, and he soon produced a number of iconic country hits for acts like Hank Williams Jr ("Cajun Baby," "Pride’s Not Hard to Swallow" and "I’ll Think of Something"), Mel Tillis ("I Ain’t Never," "Sawmill," and "Memory Maker’), Jeannie C. Riley ("Give Myself A Party"), Marie Osmond ("Paper Roses"), Jim Stafford ("Spiders and Snakes") and C.W. McCall ("Convoy").
Between 11965 and 1981, he also scored hits for Jimmy C. Newman, Marvin Rainwater, Floyd Cramer, Bob Gallion, Ben Colder and Tompall & The Glaser Brothers, with Billboard honoured him as its Country Producer Of The Year for 1972, a year in which he signed Eddy Arnold, Billy Walker and Jerry Wallace to the label.
Following the sale of MGM Records to PolyGram, Jim joined Acuff Rose Music where he transformed staff writers Lorrie Morgan, Aaron Tippin and Kenny Chesney into successful recording stars, and continued producing such acts as George Strait, Bob Luman, Charlie Walker, Roy Acuff, Donna Fargo, Wayne Newton and Narvel Felts.
In 1998 at the age of 72, he retired from Acuff Rose, but continued to mentor up-and-coming songwriters over the next decade.
In Nashville, Tennessee, USA, on November 9, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(84), singer-songwriter, music publisher and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Bill Rice was born Wilburn Steven Rice, on April 19, 1939, in Datto, Arkansas. His parents, John and Mary Rice, instilled in him a deep appreciation for music from an early age (his mother played piano and his father sang in the church choir), although Bill himself did not take up the guitar until he was fourteen. Three years later, via a posted-off demo tape, he was signed to the Memphis-based Fernwood Records which had just been formed by Elvis Presley's guitarist Scotty Moore.
Although he had set out to become a country singer, Bill's first taste of fame came via one of his own compositions "Girl Next Door Went A-Walking" which was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1960, and so in 1961 he relocated to Nashville, the epicentre of the country music industry along with his newly-found collaborator and friend, Jerry Foster. Here, they got a publishing contract from Jack Clement and Bill Hall, who had a publishing company in Beaumont, Texas called Jack and Bill Music, for two songs which would go on to be recorded by Moon Mullican.
Over the next twenty years, Rice's collaboration with Jerry Foster was instrumental in defining his songwriting career. Together, they crafted a plethora of hit songs that became classics in the country music canon, including "Back Side of Dallas" (Jeannie C. Riley), "Here Comes The Hurt Again" (Mickey Gilley), "Someone To Give My Love To" (Johnny Paycheck), "The Day the World Stood Still", "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore" and "The Easy Part’s Over" (all three by Charley Pride), "Heaven Everyday" (Mel Tillis), "Lonely Too Long" (Patty Loveless), "I'll Think of Something" (Hank Williams, Jr. and later Mark Chesnutt), "I'm Not That Lonely Yet" (Reba McEntire), "Think About It Darlin" (Jerry Lee Lewis), "When You Say Love" (Bob Luman, later covered by both Lynn Anderson and Sonny & Cher), and "Would You Take Another Chance On Me" (Jerry Lee Lewis).
Other stars who recorded songs penned by Bill included Bobby Bare, Tammy Wynette, John Wesley Ryles, Charlie Rich, Waylon Jennings, Nat Stuckey, Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Mel Tillis, Billie Jo Spears, Lynn Anderson, Tommy Cash, Anne Murray, Reba McEntire, Dottie West, Henson Cargill, Ferlin Husky, Dickey Lee, Johnny Preston, Bill Medley, Melba Montgomery, Hank Locklin, Lester Flatt and Mac Wiseman, Robert Goulet, Janie Fricke, Connie Smith, Frank Ifield, Bobby Bland and Glen Campbell.
In 1969, "Back Side Of Dallas" received a Grammy nomination, and in 1972, he and Jerry foster were famously pictured leaving an ASCAP awards ceremony in Nashville with 10 trophies piled into a golden wheelbarrow. In July of the following year, they returned to pick up eleven awards, while during that same week, eleven of their songs were also appearing on Billboard Magazine's Country Top 40. In all, Bill would go on to score a total of 73 ASCAP Awards, the highest number ever awarded to any one songwriter.
Throughout his songwriting success, Bill continued to record on Capitol, Epic and Polydor as a solo artist, with "Travelin' Minstrel Man", "Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy", "A Girl Like Her Is Hard To Find", "Something To Call Mine", "All The Love We Threw Away" (with Lois Johnson), "Beggars and Choosers", and "'Til A Tear Becomes A Rose". In later years, he set up his own publishing firm, signing such future luminaries as Roger Murrah ("Don't Rock the Jukebox"), Jim McBride ("Chattahoochee") and Rich Alves ("Southern Star").
In Merritt Island, Florida, USA, on October 28, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
Born Mervin James Shiner on February 20, 1921 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Merv began performing with his mother Jennie Newton Shiner as “Mervin Shiner & His Mother” when he was just fifteen years old. The duo played a mixture of country and gospel. and although working mainly on the then sparse East Coast country music circuit, came to the attention of Nashville songwriter Vaughn Horton who organised a contract with Decca Records in 1947.
His first hit came in 1948 with “Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me” which reached the Country Music Top 10. The following year, producer Paul Cohen brought him a new song, "Peter Cottontail", penned by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins. This song was an attempt to create the Easter Bunny equivalent of Johnny Marks' Christmas 1947 hit "Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer", and Merv initially refused to record the tune which he felt was not country enough. However, his subsequent release sold more than a million copies and the song was also recorded by such stars as Gene Autry, Jimmy Wakely, Rosemary Clooney, Roy Rogers and Hank Snow.
Following this success, Merv found himself being introduced onto the Grand Ole Opry stage by no less than Hank Williams and by 1953, was a regular on the World’s Original Jamboree out of Wheeling, West Virginia, then second only to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry in longevity, working alongside such country luminaries as Connie Smith, Dottie West, Faron Young, Kitty Wells, Lefty Frizzell, “Little” Jimmy Dickens, Merle Kilgore, Minnie Pearl and Webb Pierce.
By the mid-sixties, he was recording for MGM Records, charting with "Big Brother" and "Too Hard To Say I’m Sorry", both co-written and produced by Jack Clement.
In 1969, Merv opened Ly-Rann Publishing in Nashville, co-writing Jan Howard’s 1969 hit “We Had All the Good Things Going” along with songs recorded by Billie Jo Spears, Dolly Parton and Charley Pride. In 1970, he was appointed to head up the Nashville office of Certron Records, which released his version of the Crosby, Stills & Nash pop hit “Teach Your Children” while he also oversaw the careers of label signings Johnny Paycheck, Bobby Helms and Don Williams & Pozo Seco.
Merv officially retired in 2004 at the age of 83. but continued as a member of the Nashville branch of the Musicians Union, becoming its oldest-ever working member in 2021, at the age of 100.
In Tampa, Florida, USA, on October 23rd 2023, of heart failure.
© Jim Liddane
(74), songwriter, musician and singer.
Born on January 26, 1953, in New York City, into a family with a rich musical heritage, Gregg Sutton's love for music was greatly influenced by his his parents, both accomplished musicians themselves, who recognised his talent at an early age and encouraged him to pursue a musical career.
While attending Great Neck North High School, he became friendly with Andy Kaufman, and would later act as his musical director until the comedian's death in 1985. After leaving school, Gregg enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, during which time, he worked to understand the various musical genres while also becoming proficient in playing multiple instruments including the guitar and bass.
After completing his education, Gregg moved to California, and toured with the band KGB, featuring Carmine Appice and Barry Goldberg, before going on to found The Pets who were quickly signed by Arista's Clive Davis. Gregg also developed a career as a touring and session musician, a career which would span several decades and eventually establish him as a highly respected figure in the music industry.
Throughout his life, Sutton collaborated with quite literally hundreds of fellow musicians. One of his most notable collaborations was with The Rolling Stones, for whom he contributed both as a songwriter and musician. His work on their 1986 album, "Dirty Work," left an indelible mark on the band's sound and added to that album's success.
Sutton's talents however extended beyond his work with The Rolling Stones. He collaborated with a diverse range of artists, including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Carole King, Carla Thomas and Joe Cocker to name just a few, while he also released his own material on such labels as Geffen, Arista, A&M, EMI and Columbia.
His ability to adapt and thrive in various musical environments showcased his versatility and creativity while his own songs were recorded by a diverse range of singers including Joe Bonamassa, Eric Burdon, Sam Brown, Joe Cocker, Matraca Berg, Charles & Eddie, Billy Ray Cyrus, John Farnham, Andy Griffith, The Human League, Tom Jones, Lone Justice, Chris LeDoux, Maria McKee, John McVie, Nelson, The Nighthawks, Percy Sledge, Heather Small, Ray Stevens, Curtis, Andrew Strong, Chris Thompson, and Edgar Winter.
In Los Angeles, California, USA, on October 22, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(72), singer-songwriter and leader of The Dwight Twilley Band.
Dwight Twilley, born Dwight Arthur Twilley, on June 6, 1951, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, hailed from a family deeply rooted in the heart of America. His father, Vernon Tilley, a carpenter by trade, and his mother, Madeline, a homemaker who dedicated herself to caring for the family, instilled in him a love for classic rock and roll, while his older brother who played guitar, introduced him to the sounds of the early rockabilly pioneers, sparking a lifelong passion for both the guitar and that particular musical genre.
Dwight's early years were spent in the vibrant city of Tulsa, and following his graduation from Nathan Hale High School where he had founded his first band, The Escorts, he met Phil Seymour in 1967, and together they formed Oister (late to become The Dwight Twilley Band) in the early 1970s soon after Dwight's stint at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. This collaboration yielded their eponymous debut album, "Sincerely" (1976), which stands as one of the cornerstones of the power pop genre. The album featured the hit single "I'm On Fire," which reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Twilley's partnership with Phil Seymour continued with the release of their second album, "Twilley Don't Mind" (1977), which included the infectious hit "Looking For The Magic." This song found renewed fame when it was featured in the 2011 movie "You're Next," introducing a new generation to Twilley's music.
Aside from "Sincerely" and "Twilley Don't Mind," Dwight Twilley released several other important albums throughout his career. Among these, "Scuba Divers" (1982) and "Wild Dogs" (1986) are most notable for their contributions to the rock genre and while they may not have reached the same commercial success as his early work, they showcased his evolution as a musician and songwriter.
Dwight’s repertoire boasted several memorable songs that left a lasting impact. In addition to "I'm on Fire" and "Looking For The Magic," he is remembered for "Girls" (1976). a catchy and energetic track from his debut album "Sincerely", "Why You Wanna Break My Heart" (1977), the hit single from "Twilley Don't Mind" showcasing Twilley's knack for crafting melodic pop-rock tunes and "Trying to Find My Baby" (1982). from the album "Scuba Divers", a song which exemplified his ability to blend rock sensibilities with melodic hooks.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, on October 18, 2023, following a car crash caused by a stroke.
© Jim Liddane
(84), singer-songwriter and minsiter of religion.
Rudy Isley was born Rudolph Bernard Isley on April 1, 1939, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in a musical family comprising six brothers. The family household was filled with gospel and R&B music, which served as the catalyst for the formation of the group The Isley Brothers which launched in the 1950s, starting out as a gospel ensemble, but soon transitioned to secular music.
Ronald, with his distinctive tenor voice, became the main singer of the unit although he frequently shared this role with Rudy, and their unique blend of R&B, doo-wop, and rock 'n' roll quickly set them apart in the music industry.
The group released a string of hit songs and albums earning them a dedicated fan base. Their iconic tracks included "Shout", "Twist and Shout", "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)", "It's Your Thing", "Fight the Power", "Livin' In The Life", "Summer Breeze", "Harvest For The World", "It's A Disco Night (Rock Don't Stop)" and "That Lady" among many others.
Their silky vocals and songwriting skills (Rudy's songs went on to be covered by such acts as Aaliyah, Natalie Cole, Mica Paris, Whitney Houston, George Michael, Vanessa Williams, Milli Vanilli, The Jackson 5, The 4 Tops. The Supremes, Dion, Lulu, Cliff Richard, Tom Petty, Aretha Franklin and The Beatles), helped shape the R&B and soul genres.
What also set the Isley Brothers apart was their remarkable longevity and adaptability. They continued to produce successful music throughout the decades, navigating the changing musical landscape with ease.
However, in 1986, Rudy’s eldest brother Kelly died of a heart attack in his sleep and after recording the albums "Smooth Sailin'" and "Spend the Night", Rudy himself left the group in 1989 to become a Baptist minister.
Throughout his career, Rudy faced several personal challenges, including numerous legal issues (he was convicted of tax fraud in 2005) and health concerns, and apart from attending various award ceremonies, rarely appeared with the group in later years.
In Olympia Fields, Illinois, USA, on October 11, 2023, following a heart attack.
© Jim Liddane
Shinji Tanimura was born Tanimura Shinji on April 11, 1948, in Niigata City, Japan. His upbringing in Niigata and later in Tokyo played a significant role in shaping his musical aspirations and Tanimura's early exposure to the arts and his fascination with the Beatles during his teenage years kindled his passion for music. He attended Tokyo's prestigious Keio University, where he pursued a degree in economics while continuing to nurture his musical talents.
During the early 1970s, he was part of the folk music movement in Japan and frequently performed with the influential group The Folk Crusaders. This collaboration exposed him to the burgeoning folk music scene and allowed him to develop a distinctive style marked by heartfelt lyrics and melodic harmonies, but his greatest success came with the formation of his own three-man folk group, Alice.
Tanimura's friendship with fellow musician and songwriter Yosui Inoue led to the hit single "Winter's Tale" ("Fuyu no Tabi") in 1972. This song remains a classic in Japanese pop music, capturing the essence of the era's folk-inspired sound.
Tanimura released a plethora of albums and singles that achieved commercial success and critical acclaim. Some of his most successful record releases included "Subaru" (1974), his debut album which was well-received and established his presence in the Japanese music scene, "Altair In Starlight" (1978), the album which marked a turning point in Tanimura's career as he explored different musical genres and incorporated a more rock-oriented sound and "Debut 10th Anniversary Live - Live - Break in Break Out" (1984), a live album celebrating Tanimura's first decade in the music industry, featuring his most iconic songs.
As a songwriter. some of his most enduring and beloved songs included "Subaru" (1974), the titular track of his debut album, known for its soothing melody and poetic lyrics, "Kuchibue" (1975), a song that resonated with audiences for its emotional depth and simplicity. and "Ikiru" (1979), which capptured the essence of self-reflection and existential contemplation.
Tanimura was a proponent of close relations between Japan and China and held several concerts in Beijing where he was highly regarded while he also taught as a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
In Tokyo, Japan, on October 8, 2023, following a long battle with acute enteritis.
© Jim Liddane
(78), singer, songwriter and producer.
Born Richard Wolff, on July 8, 1945, in Pretoria, South Africa, he was educated at Pretoria Boys' High School, where he joined The Dyno-Mites, a Shadows-type lineup, as bass player. Having left school and by now a multi-instrumentalist, he formed Ricky & The Martinets which became three-time winners of the Springbok Battle Of The Beats, and released one album which however failed to chart.
In September 1966, the band, now re-named Kalimba, travelled to London and from there to Germany where they played American military bases, before returning to the UK to back American soul singer J J Jackson on his 1968 UK tour.
After this tour, Ricky was invited to join The Flower Pot Men who had just scored a worldwide hit with the John Carter and Ken Lewis produced "Let's Go To San Francisco", who were now working with the production team of Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. As lead vocalist, he recorded four tracks with the band - "Today I Killed A Man I Didn't Know", "You've Got Your Troubles", "Show Me Your Hand", and "My Baby Loves Lovin" but when their follow-ups to "San Francisco" failed to chart, no further singles were issued and Ricky's contributions were shelved.
At this point, Ricky was considering returning to South Africa when Decca A & R head Dick Rowe (who had earlier signed The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Moody Blues, Zombies, Tom Jones, Small Faces, Marmalade, Animals, Cat Stevens, Procol Harum, Kathy Kirby, and Gilbert O Sullivan, but is better - if incorrectly - remembered for having turned down The Beatles), listened again to the recordings and decided to release "My Baby Loves Lovin" as a single, but under the name White Plains. The song was a massive success, and over the next four years, two albums and thirteen singles were released, including "I've Got You On My Mind", "Lovin' You Baby", "Julie Do Ya Love Me", "Every Little Move She Makes", "Show Me Your Hand" (written by Ricky and also covered by Hungarian hit act Bergendy) and "When You Are A King".
In 1972, Ricky left White Plains to form a new band Crucible, but an album recorded by the group was never released and in 1974, he returned to South Africa where he joined Free Ride, later forming City Limits which released a number of hit singles including "Miracle", "When You Gonna Love Me" and "Shouldn't Fall In Love". After City Limits broke up in 1982, Ricky retired from touring to become a successful music producer, engineer and songwriter, working with such acts as Pat Shange, Majita, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Midnight Exoress, MarcAlex, Freeway, Dennis & The Whizz Kids, The Rockets, Margino and Umanji.
His own song, "Goodbye Nelson Mandela", became a radio hit in South Africa in 2013.
In Krugersdorp, South Africa, on October 1, 2023, of septicemia.
© Jim Liddane
(90), actor, musician and songwriter.
David McCallum was born on September 19, 1933 in Lennoxtown, Scotland into a family of professional classical musicians. His father moved the family to London in 1936 when he was appointed leader of the London Philharmonic Orchestra but sent the children back to Scotland when World War 2 broke out in 1939.
Returning to the capital six years later, David, who had become a talented multi-instrumentalist, won a scholarship to University College School with the intention of embarking on a career in music. However, he was also offered a number of part-time acting roles with the BBC Radio Repertory Company, and obtained his Actor's Equity card at the tender age of 13.
Having left school in 1954, he completed his national service, after which he returned to BBC Radio, which promptly published a James Dean-style publicity shot of him, leading to his recruitment as a potential movie star by the Rank Organisation.
His first credited role was in "Robbery Under Arms" (1957), followed by "A Night to Remember" and "Violent Playground" (both 1958), "The Long And The Short And The Tall" (1961), "Freud: The Secret Passion" (directed by John Huston) and Peter Ustinov's "Billy Budd" (both 1962). and "The Great Escape" (alongside Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, and Gordon Jackson), which was released in 1963.
In 1964, he was picked to play the part of the mysterious, enigmatic llya Kuryakin in the television series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." alongside Robert Vaughn. The show was a spy-fi series that followed the adventures of two secret agents, Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (played by McCallum), who worked for an international espionage agency called U.N.C.L.E. The series ran until 1968 and soon gained a cult following. It also turned McCallum into an international idol, leading to major roles in such movies as "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and various television series including “Colditz”, "Sapphire & Steel," "The Invisible Man," and "NCIS," where he played the character Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, a role which he reprised on a yearly basis until his 85th birthday. In all, he appeared in more than sixty movies, and two hundred television dramas in a career spanning 75 years.
Like a number of his acting contemporaries possessed of good looks and a reasonable vocal ability such as James Darren, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Crawford, Richard Chamberlain, Fess Parker, George Maharis et al, McCallum was offered a recording contract by Capitol Records, but insisted on releasing purely instrumental albums, including "A Part Of Me" (Capitol Records, 1966). "A Bit More Of Me" (Capitol Records, 1967), "Music - It's Happening Now!" (Capitol Records, 1967) and "McCallum" (Capitol Records, 1968). These were produced, arranged and performed by McCallum himself who played a variety of instruments on the LPs.
The albums offered versions of contemporary hits alongside a number of his own compositions including "The Edge", which would later feature on the soundtracks of "Grand Theft Auto IV" and the 2017 movie "Baby Driver". "The Edge" was also sampled by Dr. Dre for his 2001 track "The Next Episode".
A single "Communication" charted in 1966, while he also played guitar and sang his own song "Trouble" alongside Nancy Sinatra in "The Take Me To Your Leader Affair" movie.
In New York City, USA, on September 25, 2023, of heart failure.
© Jim Liddane
(83), singer-songwriter and member of The Association.
Terry Kirkman was born on December 12, 1939, in Salina, Kansas, USA. His roots can be traced back to a family deeply embedded in the heartland of America and growing up in Salina, he was exposed to the rhythms of everyday life in a small Midwestern town. The Kirkman family had a rich tradition of music that spanned generations. Terry's father, Robert, played the trumpet, while his mother, Berniece was both an excellent singer and pianist.
Terry's early education took place in the local schools of Salina, where he showed an aptitude for music. He started playing the piano and a number of brass instruments at a young age, guided by his parents’ expertise and it was during these years that he began to develop his a passion for songwriting.
Kirkman's initial forays into the music business came when the family moved to Chino, California, just 35 miles outside Los Angeles. Los Angeles was a hub for aspiring musicians and songwriters, and it provided Kirkman, who had just graduated from Chaffey College with a degree in music, with opportunities to network and collaborate with fellow artists. He quickly immersed himself in the vibrant music scene of the era, where folk music, rock 'n' roll, and the burgeoning counterculture were on the rise.
During this time he played with Frank Zappa (prior to Zappa founding the Mothers of Invention), and following a chance meeting with Tennessee musician Jules Alexander who was serving with the US Navy in Hawaii, he formed The Inner Tubes, a folk-rock band which at one time numbered both Cass Elliott and David Crosby amongst its members.
The Inner Tubes morphed into The Men, a somewhat unwieldy unit (at one stage, the band boasted fifteen members!), which in turn led in 1965 to The Association, a unit which offered a unique sound, characterised by tight vocal harmonies and a folk-rock sensibility, blending elements of pop, rock, and folk music.
Signed to Valiant, the band's breakthrough came in 1966 with the release of their debut album, "And Then... Along Comes The Association," which included the hit single "Along Comes Mary”. This song became a Top 10 hit and introduced The Association to a wider audience. It was followed by another successful single, "Cherish" which Kirkman penned, and which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming one of the group's signature songs even though only Kirkman and Alexander had actually performed on the recording.
"Cherish" became the second biggest-selling record of 1966, and in 2001, BMI announced that the tune had also become the 22nd most played song of the 20th Century. "Cherish" was a hit again in 1972 for David Cassidy and other recordings include versions by Dizzy Gillespie, The Lettermen, Nina Simone, Ed Ames, Petula Clark, Rita Wilson, The Four Tops, Carla Thomas, Jodeci, Barry Manilow, Pat Metheny, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, and Glee.
The Association were nominated for six Grammy Awards, including three for “Cherish” and subsequent albums, including "Renaissance" (1966) and "Insight Out" (1967), continued to produce hit singles, such as "Windy" and "Never My Love." As the 1960s progressed and musical tastes changed, The Association adapted their sound to incorporate more diverse influences, including elements of psychedelic rock and orchestration. Their music continued to evolve with albums like "Birthday" (1968) and "The Association" (1969).
Over the years, the band experienced several line-up changes and faced various challenges, including shifting musical trends and the tragic loss of founding member Brian Cole in 1972 following a heroin overdose. These events impacted their commercial success, but they continued to tour and record, although Kirkman himself had left the band in 1972, returning only when they reformed in 1979 following a 1978 break-up.
Over the next number of years, Kirkman continued to appear with the Association, but in 1984, announced his retirement from music to become an addictions counsellor, enabling him to help found and subsequently to act as clinical director of the Musicians Assistance Program — nowadays known as MusiCares.
In Montclair, California, USA, on September 23, 2023, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
© Jim Liddane
(79), songwriter and singer with The Marvelettes.
Katherine Anderson was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 16, 1944. Her mother was a nurse's aide, while her father was a cement worker who moved the family to Inkster, Michigan, where Katherine attended Inkster High School. Here she met Georgia Dobbins, Gladys Horton, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart and Wanda Young who had started a school vocal group called the Casinyets (standing for "can't sing yet"!) later re-named The Marvels.
Having come fourth in a Glee Club talent contest in 1961, they travelled to Detroit to audition for Motown Records. Following the test session, Barry Gordy told them to return with an original tune, and so Georgia Dobbins enlisted the help of a musician friend William Garrett who had already penned a half-finished song titled "Please Mr Postman". Although she had never written a song before, Georgia finished the tune, rehearsed it with the other members, and returned to Detroit. Gordy liked it, but assigned two staffers Brian Holland & Robert Bateman to polish it for the final recording.
When the record was finally released in August 1961 under the name The Marvelettes (and with future superstar Marvin Gaye on drums), it became Motown's first-ever Number 1 and only the label's second million-seller.
Over the next ten years, the group scored no fewer than 26 singles on the American Hot 100, including such inconic tracks as "Playboy", "Beechwood 4-5789", "Locking Up My Heart", "Don't Mess With Bill", "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game", "My Baby Must Be A Magician" and "When You're Young And In Love" which was surprisingly their only hit in the UK.
However, Gordy's increasing obsession with The Supremes led to the Marvelettes' discontent with a label which they felt was now failing to promote them properly, and by the time they finally broke up in 1970, Katherine Anderson was one of the last remaining original members. Lawsuits ensued with the some of the band alleging that Motown had failed to pay them royalties, and although Anderson worked briefly as a staff writer for Motown, she too eventually retired from showbiz to marry and raise a family in Inkster, frequently acting as a mentor to several Michigan vocal groups.
She returned to the limelight to be honoured at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Awards ceremony in 1995, at the Marvelettes' induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, the Motown 50th Anniversary Awards Ceremony in 2009, and the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame Induction in 2013.
In Dearborn, Michigan, USA, on September 19, 2023, of heart failure.
© Jim Liddane
(92), singer-songwriter and political commentator.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 14th, 1931 into a musical family which included cousin, Jerry Gray, a band arranger for Artie Shaw but who had also penned several hits for Glenn Miller including “String of Pearls” and “Pennsylvania 6-500.” Encouraged by Jerry's success, Frank wrote his first song at the age of ten, before joining his brothers Pete and Art in 1948 to form The Lane Brothers, a close harmony group, initially performing in night clubs and hotels in the Boston area.
Over the next few years, the unit worked sporadically as each of the brothers found themselves called up for military service, but finally in 1956, following an appearance on the Milton Berle Show, they were signed to RCA Records. Here they recorded a cover version of the Terry Gilkyson hit “(All Day, All Night) Marianne" which made the US Top 50.
Their follow-ups failed to chart however, and so in 1958, fearful of losing their RCA contract, they dramatically changed style and became a rockabilly act, releasing John D Loudermilk's compposition "Boppin' In A Sack" which is nowadays regarded as a rockabilly classic. It gained a lot of airplay, leading to tours with Chuck Berry, Bobby Darin, The Everly Brothers, Connie Francis and Frankie Avalon, but failed to sell in sufficient quantities, and in 1959, RCA dropped them from its roster. By 1960, the group were reduced to performing on cruise ships, and touring US military bases in Europe and Asia, eventually retiring as a unit in 1970.
Frank meanwhile, decided to try for a solo career both as a singer and a producer. Subsequent output included an album of Irish songs featuring US House of Representatives Speaker Tip O'Neill, and a 36-track album of self-penned songs titled "The Singing Rosary" which became a staple in Catholic households and churches across America. He also hosted “County Line” on BECON television, dispensing political commentary while penning, recording and performing campaign songs for a number of politicians including the TV evangelist and Republican presidential hopeful Pat Robertson, and Democrat Bob Graham who went on to become Governor of Florida.
In Tamarac, Florida, USA, on September20, 2023, from colon cancer.
© Jim Liddane
(87), singer-songwriter and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Roger Whittaker was born on March 22, 1936, in Nairobi, Kenya, into a family with a diverse cultural background and strong ties to the UK. His parents Edward and Vi Whittaker came from Staffordshire in England where they had owned and operated a grocery shop. They moved to Kenya in the 1929 following a traffic accident which left Edward severely injured. He was subsequently advised to live in a hot, dry climate to recover from his injuries, and in Kenya, worked first with Servicestores in Nairobi before starting his own grocery shop in the suburb of Westlands, while Vi (who was of South African ancestry), took up teaching.
Growing up in the heart of Africa, Roger was exposed to a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions. He spent his formative years close to the vibrant city of Nairobi, surrounded by the natural beauty and wildlife that would later find its way into his music. The rhythms of African drums and the harmonies of indigenous songs were part of the soundtrack of his childhood.
Roger's family valued education, and he attended the Prince of Wales School in Nairobi, where he received a solid academic foundation. However, his early fascination with music was undeniable. His father taught him guitar, while Viola, played a pivotal role in nurturing Roger's musical abilities. She was an accomplished pianist and passed on her love for music to her son.
As his interest in music continued to blossom, he began to experiment with various instruments and develop his singing voice. The melodies of folk songs, popular tunes, and the sounds of the African bush all contributed to shaping his unique musical style. It was during these formative years that Roger Whittaker's love for storytelling through songwriting began to take root.
His first public performances were in Nairobi during his school years, singing in local clubs and at social events, gaining experience and confidence as a performer.
In 1954, just after leaving the Prince of Wales School, he as called up for national service and spent two years in the British colonial administration's Kenya Regiment which was fighting against the native KLFA (the Kenya Land & Freedom Army). Following demobilisation, he moved to South Africa, to study medicine at the University of Cape Town. Half-way through his studies however, he quit medicine to train as a teacher, and in 1959, at the age of 23, moved to the United Kingdom to study zoology, biochemistry and marine biology at University College of North Wales. Here he earned a Bachelor of Science degree while singing in folk clubs on weekends, quickly building up a large following on the burgeoning folk scene.
Roger Whittaker's first break came in the 1962 when he signed a recording contract with Fontana Records under the name "Rog Whittaker", but his early releases were not successful. In 1966 however, he switched from Fontana to EMI's Columbia Records, and released his debut album, "Roger Whittaker Sings" which included a mix of folk and contemporary songs. The album received positive reviews but sparse sales, although in 1968, he did score a European hit with his song "Mexican Whistler", a tune which highlighted his whistling ability, and which was particularly successful in Ireland where it featured as the theme tune for an Irish language detective series.
His career suddenly took off in 1969 with the release of "Durham Town" which unexpectedly hit the UK Top 10 and "I Don't Believe In If Anymore" which became an international hit in 1970.
As Whittaker's popularity grew, he embarked on a series of overseas tours and quickly gained recognition in countries outside the UK, particularly in Germany, which adopted him as its "favourite Englishman". His multicultural background and ability to sing in multiple languages further broadened his international appeal.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to release singles that seemed to resonate with a global audience, if not always with his record label. The song "The Last Farewell" from his 1971 album "New World In The Morning" for example, was not released as a single by EMI until 1975, but with over 11 million copies sold globally, it became both his biggest success and for many fans, his defining song. It also marked him out as an exceptional songwriter, garnering more than sixty cover versions (including one by Elvis Presley), becoming one of the just fifty-two singles in the history of recorded music to have achieved more than ten million sales. In 1986, his version of "The Skye Boat Song", a folk tune composed in 1782 by William Ross, became the oldest song ever to become a Top 10 hit in the UK.
At the peak of his career, tragedy struck in 1989, when Roger's father was murdered and his mother tortured following a break-in at their house in Nairobi, but after a period during which he neither toured nor recorded, Roger returned to work in 1991. Some time later, he quit England to live in Galway in Ireland, converting an old convent into a substantial residence equipped with its own recording studio, gym and outhouses as well as a two bedroom guest apartment.
In 2012, he announced his retirement from performing and - with his wife Natalie suffering from arthritis exacerbated by a damp Irish climate - the couple left Ireland to live in France.
Over a career which spanned fifty years, Roger Whittaker earned several Ivor Novello Awards, as well 250 silver, gold and platinum discs for album sales exceeding 50 million copies. In 2003, he was also awarded honorary Kenyan citizenship in recognition of his cultural contributions and his love for Africa, where he had spent his formative years.
In Toulouse, France, on September 12, 2023, of complications brought on by an acute but unspecified illness.
© Jim Liddane
(92), songwriter and actor.
Born Francesco Migliacci on 28 October 1930 in Mantua, Italy, his father, Marshal of the Guardia di Finanza, moved the family to Florence in 1934. Although his parents wanted him to become an accountant, Franco entered a competition for young actors which won him a three-day trip to Rome, and a small part in a movie directed by actor Nino Taranto.
Within a year of that success, he had moved permanently to the Italian capital, to embark on an acting career which would include parts in such Italian movies as "Viale Della Speranza", directed by Dino Risi, "Carica Eroica", directed by Francesco De Robertis, "Amori di Mezzo Secolo", directed by Pietro Germi, “Noi Siamo le Colonne”, directed by Luigi Filippo D'Amico and “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”, directed by Piero Tellini, the last of which was based on the song of the same name, a collaboration between Migliacci and an Italian composer Domenico Modugno who had met during the filming of "Carica Eroica".
“Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”, better known as "Volare," won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1958 going on to be placed third in the Eurovision Song Contest that same year. When the song was subsequently released on record by Domenico Modugno, it topped the US charts becoming the only Eurovision song to ever win a Grammy and indeed one of the few to reach the American Hot 100. Later versions by Bobby Rydell and Dean Martin under the title "Volare" and with English lyrics by Mitchell Parrish, cemented its success as possibly the most-covered Eurovision song of all time. Sales of all versions exceed twenty million and it remains one of the most recognised Italian songs. Everybody from David Bowie, Barry White and Ann-Margret to Al Martino and Ray Conniff has covered the song, and by 2023, there were more than 200 cover versions.
One reason frequently given as to why "Volare" did relatively poorly in the Eurovision was that a breakdown in transmission at the start of the programme meant that not all of the juries heard it when it was first performed. However, this is offset by the fact that it was performed again at the end of the show, thus giving some juries a chance to hear the tune for a second time.
In 2005, at a ceremony to honour the most outstanding songs in the history of the Eurovision, "Volare" came second, just behind ABBA's "Waterloo". During his speech accepting the prize, ABBA member Benny Andersson admitted that he himself had voted for "Volare".
Franco Migliacci's songwriting talent extended far beyond “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”. He penned lyrics for numerous other hits, including "Dio, Come Ti Amo" (1966) and "La Lontananza" (1963), both performed by Domenico Modugno, as well as the theme tunes for cartoons such as "Daltanious", "Heidi", "The New Adventures of Lupine III" and "Mazinger". He also collaborated with other renowned Italian artists like Adriano Celentano and Ornella Vanon while.subsequent movie appearances included roles in "The American" (2010), "Money Talks" and "The Pink Panther".
In Rome, Italy, on September 15, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
Charlie Robison was born on September 1, 1964 in Houston, Texas, but grew up in Bandera where the Robison family had owned a ranch for eight generations. Here he developed a love for music and began playing guitar and writing songs with his brother Bruce at a young age.
He quickly gained acceptance in the Texas country music scene during the 1990s, becoming part of the Texas Country and Americana Music movement, which emphasised a blend of country, rock, and folk elements.
He released his debut album, "Bandera," in 1996 on Viero, but it failed to chart. In 1998, having moved to Lucky Dog Records, Robison released his second album, "Life Of The Party," which featured songs like "Sunset Boulevard", "Loving County" and the hit single "My Hometown." This song received significant airplay and helped establish him as a important figure in the Texas country scene.
In 1999, he married Emily Strayer, a member of the country music band the Dixie Chicks, and they had three children together before their divorce nine years later.
His 2001 album, "Step Right Up," included the popular track "El Cerrito Place," which gained widespread acclaim and has been covered by other artists. Some of his other notable songs include "New Year's Day," "Beautiful Day," "I Want You Bad" and "Photograph."
In 2018, Charlie Robison officially announced his retirement from music due to health issues. He had been battling complications from throat surgery that affected his ability to perform. However, in 2022, he made a comeback with a successful tour, and was working on a new album at the time of his death.
In San Antonio, Texas, USA, on September 10, 2023, of cardiac arrest
© Jim Liddane
(93), bassist and composer.
Richard Davis was born on April 15, 1930, into a musical family in Chicago, Illinois, and took up the double bass at an early age. He received his formal education in music at Chicago's DuSable High School, where he was mentored by renowned musician and educator Walter Dyett.
Davis started his professional career by playing with various local jazz musicians in Chicago and quickly gained a reputation for his technical prowess and innovative playing style. In the late 1950s, he moved to New York City, which was the epicentre of the jazz world where he quickly became part of the vibrant jazz scene, collaborating with many legendary artists.
One of Davis's defining characteristics as a bassist was his incredible versatility. He played in a wide range of jazz styles, including bebop, avant-garde, free jazz, and fusion and his ability to adapt to different musical contexts and genres made him a sought-after session and live musician.
During his career, Davis worked with numerous jazz giants, including Sarah Vaughan, Eric Dolphy, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Ahmad Jamal, John Coltrane, and many others. His innovative and empathetic approach to the bass made him a valuable addition to any ensemble.
However, he was not confined to jazz. "Astral Weeks" for example, is considered one of the most influential albums in the history of rock and folk music, renowned for its unique blend of folk, jazz, and soul influences. The album featured a group of talented musicians, including Van Morrison on vocals and guitar, Jay Berliner on guitar, Connie Kay on drums, and Warren Smith Jr. on percussion. The bassist for most of this album was Richard Davis. Davis's contribution to "Astral Weeks" was crucial in shaping the album's distinctive sound. His innovative and improvisational approach to the double bass added a jazz-inspired element to the folk-rock compositions. Davis's bass lines provided a fluid and expressive foundation for Morrison's soulful and poetic lyrics.
While Richard Davis played a significant role in the recording of "Astral Weeks," he was not always credited on the album cover due to contractual issues. In some versions of the album credits, the bassist is listed as "unknown" or not mentioned at all. Nonetheless, Davis's work on "Astral Weeks" is celebrated by music enthusiasts and critics alike, and it remains a testament to his exceptional talent and his ability to bring a unique musical sensibility to a wide range of genres.
Other collaborations included his work with Laura Nyro on "Smile" and Bruce Springsteen on "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." and "Born to Run", but he also performed classical music with such conductors as Igor Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein.
In addition to his performing career, Davis was a dedicated educator. He served as a professor of music at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for several decades, where he influenced countless young musicians. He also conducted numerous clinics and workshops worldwide and was an influential advocate for diversity and inclusion in the world of jazz music, working hard to promote the inclusion of more African American musicians in orchestras and music education programs.
Davis received numerous awards and honours throughout his career, including the Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kennedy Center's Living Jazz Legend Award. He also had an extensive discography as a bandleader and as a sideman, some of his notable albums including "Muses for Richard Davis," "The Philosophy of the Spiritual," and "Fancy Free."
In Madison, Wisconsin, USA, on September 6, 2023, from cancer.
© Jim Liddane
(83), singer-songwriter and actor.
Joe Fagin was born in Liverpool in 1940, and joined local band The Strangers as lead vocalist in 1960. They made numerous appearances at Cavern Club, Liverpool during the Merseybeat era, often appearing on the same bill as The Beatles. The band however, failed to capitalise on the Mersey boom, and Joe moved to London, where he found work as a recording studio and theatrical stage vocalist.
He scored his biggest success however, as the singer of the theme song for "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet", the 1983 TV comedy series about seven building workers who quit the UK to find jobs in Germany. The subsequent recording of "Breakin' Away" (which opened the series and was penned by written by David Mackay and Ian La Frenais) and "That's Livin' Alright" (the closing theme penned by Jimmy Lawless), became a double-sided hit, reaching the top of the charts in the UK in 1984. Twenty years later, a re-written version of "That's Livin' Alright" titled "That's England Alright" became the unofficial anthem for English fans who had followed their team to Germany for the 2006 World Cup.
During the 70s, he was a member of Brown's Home Brew (with Joe Brown), and Robb And Dean Douglas (he playing the part of Dean). Fagin also worked as musical director for Jim Davidson, including his famous 1983 post-Falklands War tour of the territory, and in 1985, was a member of The Crowd, alongside Anne Nolan, Bernie Winters, Brendan Shine, Bruce Forsyth, Colin Blunstone, Dave Lee Travis, David Shilling, Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart, Frank Allen, Gary Holton, Gary Hughes, Gerard Kenny and Gerry Marsden, whose charity recording of "You'll Never Walk Alone" raised funds following the Bradford FC Stadium fire.
In 1986, he released "Get it Right" and "Back With the Boys Again", the two top-and-tail theme songs for the second series of "Auf Wiedersehen Pet", both of which make the UK Top 50. In 1992, Fagin scored again, this time with the Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer sitcom "As Time Goes By" where he sang the theme song of the same name, which had been penned by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham and which was a hit in 1964 for Marianne Faithfull.
An in-demand actor on account of his versatility, he frequently worked both in television and in the theatre. He apeared for example in the Bob Hoskins movie "The Long Good Friday" and the David Suchet comedy "Blott On The Landscape", while his theatre performances included the hit adaptation of the childrens classic "Wind In the Willows", the contemporary opera "Paris", and (as a country singer), the Barbara Taylor Bradford mystery "To Be the Best".
In London, UK, on September 5, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(80), singer-songwriter and musician.
Gary Wright was born on April 26, 1943, in Cresskill, New Jersey, USA, going on to attend Tenafly High School in Tenafly, New Jersey. At the age of seven, he made his TV debut on the show "Captain Video and His Video Rangers", and at the age of 11, was offered the part of Casario in the Broadway production of the musical "Fanny".
Wright learned to play piano as a child, and while at high school, sang and played with a number of bands, releasing his first single "Working After School" under the name Gary & Billy on 20th Century Fox Records in 1960 at the age of 17.
Although he expressed interest in a career in music, his parents suggested that he study to become a doctor at the College of William & Mary in Virginia while continuing to perform with local bands. Having qualified, he travelled to West Germany in 1966 to study at the Free University of Berlin, and also started performing with several local bands.
He soon abandoned all thoughts of a medical career when he moved from Berlin to London at the suggestion of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, to join what would become Spooky Tooth. That band released several albums during the late '60s and early '70s, becoming known for their psychedelic and progressive rock sound, but were not commercially successful.
In January 1970, Wright left to sign with A & M records as a solo vocalist. That same year, he worked with George Harrison on several musical projects. One of the most notable collaborations between the two was Wright's keyboard and synthesizer contributions to George Harrison's 1970 triple album, "All Things Must Pass." This album, which included iconic songs like "My Sweet Lord" and "What Is Life," marked Harrison's first solo release after The Beatles disbanded, and it received critical acclaim.
Wright's contributions to "All Things Must Pass" added depth and texture to the album's sound, especially on tracks like "Beware of Darkness" and "Isn't It a Pity." His keyboard work, including the use of the Moog synthesizer, helped shape the album's distinctive sound.
Additionally, Gary Wright and George Harrison maintained a friendship and musical collaboration over the years. They also co-wrote a song titled "To Discover Yourself," which was released on Wright's 1971 album "Footprint."
Wright went on to play piano on Harry Nilsson's 1972 hit "Without You" and was heavily involved in the "London Sessions" with Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1976, he released "Dream Weaver" which reached #2 in the UK, followed by "Love Is Alive" (also #2), and subsequent hits such as "Made to Love You", "Phantom Writer", "Touch and Gone", and his final chart entry in 1979, "Really Wanna Know You".
From the 1980s onwards, he continued to release albums which explored various musical styles, including rock, pop, and electronic. His music, which incorporated elements of rock, pop, and progressive rock, with a focus on synthesizers and keyboards, gamed him a loyal following although commercial success eluded him. However, his music featured in numerous films and television shows, and his work had a lasting impact on the music industry. While he never became as widely recognised as some other musicians, his contributions to the world of rock and pop music were significant, particularly for his pioneering use of synthesizers and electronic elements in his music.
In Palos Verdes Estates, California, USA, on September 4. 2023, from complications of Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia.
© Jim Liddane
(76), singer-songwriter and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
James William Buffett was born on December 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA. He was raised in Mobile, Alabama, where he attended Mobile's Catholic McGill Institute For Boys, although he moved as a young boy to live in Fairhope. Buffett grew up in a musical family with strong links to the sea. His grandfather was a sailor and a shipbuilder, while his mother, Mary Lorraine, was a talented piano player and singer, and Buffett's early exposure to the Gulf Coast's culture, sailing, and beach lifestyle would greatly influence his later work.
After leaving high school, he first attended Auburn University in Alabama, and then the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where he studied history, graduating in 1969. It was only during his college years that he began playing music in public and formed his first band "The Now Generation."
After college, Buffett who had only taken up guitar during his student days, decided to move to Nashville having been offered a journalism job with the music biz trade paper Billboard. In 1970, he released his debut album, "Down to Earth," on the Andy Williams-owned Barnaby Records, but this received little attention. Without a recording contract, he continued to perform in various venues but it was the death in an air-crash of his friend Jim Croce in 1973 that led to Croce's label ABC/Dunhill Records offering Buffett a chance to record again. These sessions produced his second album, "A White Sport Coat And A Pink Crustacean", a release which marked a turning point in Buffett's career. It included the song "Why Don't We Get Drunk (And Screw)," which became a cult hit and is still a favourite among his fans.
In 1978 he released "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" which featured Buffett's most iconic song, "Margaritaville". The song itself reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and its success propelled him to national fame. Other important albums included "Son of a Son of a Sailor" (1978), "Coconut Telegraph" (1981) and "License to Chill" (2004), while "Equal Strain On All Parts" was due for release around the time of his death. In all, he released 60 albums and 67 singles. Several of his biggest singles hits were performances alongside other stars, such as "Hey, Good Lookin'" (with Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and George Strait which won him one of his two Grammy nominations), "Trip Around the Sun" (with Martina McBride), and the #1 multi-million-selling hits "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" with Alan Jackson, and "Knee Deep" with the Zac Brown Band
In the years following the release of "Margaritaville", Buffett began to attract a devoted fan base, known as "Parrot Heads" who would dress in Hawaiian shirts, leis, and pirate attire while enjoying the carefree tropical vibe. He also became known for his extensive (and intensive) touring. His live albums, such as "You Had to Be There" (1978) and "Feeding Frenzy" (1990), captured the energy and enthusiasm of his concerts, further cementing his reputation as a live performer who notably attracted audiences which spanned the generations. His final tour, titled "The Second Wind Tour" was scheduled to take place in 2023,
Outside of music, Buffett diversified into various business ventures. He opened the first Margaritaville Café in Key West, Florida in 1987 which went on to become a successful restaurant chain. He quickly capitalised on this success by expanding the brand to include other restaurants, merchandise, clothing, footwear, a line of alcoholic beverages and even a stage musical "Escape to Margaritaville" which debuted in 2017. This production featured many of his popular songs and played on Broadway and in various cities across the USA. In 2010, he introduced the Margaritaville Retirement Communities, designed to provide a relaxed, tropical-inspired lifestyle for retirees.
Buffett was also an accomplished author, penning several best-sellers, including novels and children's books. His notable works included "Tales from Margaritaville", "A Pirate Looks at Fifty" and "Where Is Joe Merchant?" all of which went to Number 1 on the The New York Times Best Seller list making him one of only a handful of authors to score #1 books in both the fiction and non-fiction genres. His most recent best-seller was "Swine Not?" which was published in 2008.
Over the years, Jimmy became heavily involved in a number of charitable activities, including environmental and marine conservation efforts. He established the "Singing for Change" charitable foundation to support organisations working on issues like poverty, children's health, and education.
In addition to his musical and literary activities, he also appeared in more than thirty movies, including "Rancho Deluxe" in 1975, "Cobb", "Bridge to Havana", "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson", "Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton", "Jurassic World", "Billionaire Boys Club" and "The Beach Bum". In 2020, he played himself in the movie theatre-released documentary "Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President". He also made more than 150 television appearances between 1978 (“Saturday Night Live”) and the police series "Blue Bloods" in 2022.
Buffett's music was often described as "gulf and western," a fusion of country, rock, and Caribbean influences and he became celebrated for his laid-back, beachy lifestyle and songs that transported listeners to tropical paradises. Although his music (once described by him as “drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll”) became synonymous with relaxation, escapism, and good times, his impact extended far beyond music, influencing the way people approached leisure, alongside the concept of a carefree, beachside lifestyle. Indeed by the time of his death, although his estimated wealth was put at more than $1 billion making him one of the richest entertainers of all time, probably less than a quarter of that had come directly from his musical activities.
In Sag Harbor, New York, USA, on the September 1, 2023, of lymphoma.
© Jim Liddane
(77), singer-songwriter and member of Reform.
Willy Browne was born in 1948 in Limerick City, Ireland, and began playing guitar in his early teens with The Lizards, alongside his older brothers John and Joe (a fourth brother Tony would go on to become a prominent local historian). He gained experience with a succession of Limerick-based bands including The Empire, The Berwyn, and The Colours before setting up Reform in 1968, with drummer Don O'Connor, guitarist Joe Mulcahy and bassist Noel Casey (who would leave in 1970).
Within three years, Reform had emerged as one of Ireland's leading dance-hall attractions boasting a driving instrumental sound coupled with tight and frequently complex vocal harmonies. Under impresario Oliver Barry (who also managed The Freshmen and The Wolfetones and would later found Century Radio), they were offered a five-year recording contract by the CBS London-based subsidiary Youngblood Records, with Billy Brown of The Freshmen producing their early recordings.
The first release "I'm Gonna Get You" hit the Irish charts in 1973, followed by "One For The Boys" (produced by Miki Dallon), both tracks being composed by the band. In 1978, they hit #3 with "You Gotta Get Up", which also came second in that year's Eurovision prequel, The National Song Contest. Other singles followed, including "Keep Music Live", "Gotta' Get You Into My LIfe", "Tail Of The Dog", "Show Of Hands" (all on CBS), "Million Dollar Man" (on Little Black Records) and "The Buddy Holly Medley", while they also released the well-reviewed album "One For All" (also on CBS).
By now, music critics were rating the band on a par with Thin Lizzy and Horslips, but in 1984, at the height of their popularity, Reform split, with each of the remaining members going their own ways musically.
Willy continued to perform live, on occasion with his brothers, and re-emerged as a highly-regarded fixture on the Limerick music scene over the next several decades with the Willy Brown Band.
In Limerick City, Ireland, on the August 26, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(72). guitarist, songwriter, and record producer.
Bernie Marsden was born on May 7, 1951, in Buckingham, England. He developed a keen interest in music and guitar at a young age and began playing in local bands during his teenage years. By by the late 1960s, he was an active participant in the British blues and rock scene.
In the early 1970s, Marsden joined the band Skinny Cat, which eventually transformed into a more blues-oriented group called UFO. However, his breakthrough came when he joined Wild Turkey, fronted by former Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick. This experience helped him gain exposure as he developed his skills as a guitarist.
Marsden's most prominent musical association however was with the rock band Whitesnake. He joined the band in 1978 and became a crucial member during its early years. Marsden's bluesy and soulful guitar playing complemented David Coverdale's vocals, contributing to Whitesnake's signature sound.
During his time with Whitesnake, Marsden co-wrote some of the band's most iconic songs, including "Here I Go Again", "Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues", "She's A Woman", "Lovehunter", "Trouble", "Child Of Babylon", "Rough And Ready", and "Fool For Your Loving." These tracks became massive hits, solidifying Whitesnake's place in rock history and Marsden's contributions to the band's success during this era cannot be overstated.
He left Whitesnake in 1982 but continued to pursue his musical career, releasing several solo albums, showcasing his blues and rock influences. His solo work demonstrated his versatility as a guitarist and songwriter, but he also worked with other musicians and bands, including Gary Moore, Cozy Powell, and Alaska. In his later years, he continued to tour, perform, and engage with fans around the world although he focused as well on his passion for collecting and restoring vintage guitars.
Marsden's legacy is deeply intertwined with the history of rock music, particularly in the context of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement. His contributions to Whitesnake, both in terms of songwriting and guitar work, played a significant role in shaping the band's identity and its impact on the rock genre.
In London, UK, on August 24, 2023, of bacterial meningitis.
© Jim Liddane
(83), songwriter, singer, record producer, member of The Strangeloves, and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Bob Feldman was born on July 14, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York, where he attended Abraham Lincoln High School alongside such future stars as Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka and Neil Diamond.
In 1957, he and a neighbour Jerry Goldstein, auditioned as dancers for Alan Freed's television show "The Big Beat", and persuaded Freed to allow them to write the theme music for the WNEW-TV production. Following this, the pair started writing songs together, working with such local acts as Bobbi & The Beaus, Ezra & The Iveys, and The Kittens. In 1961, they adopted the name Bob and Jerry and released "We Put The Bomp", a tongue-in-cheek response to Barry Mann's Top Ten hit "Who Put The Bomp?". However their career really took off when they partnered with songwriter Richard Gottehrer to form the songwriting and production team FGG Productions.
The trio also decided to set themselves up as a three-piece rock act - The Strangeloves - and quickly found success with catchy, energetic pop songs, such as "I Want Candy," released in 1965, and which became a chart-topping single. The song's infectious melody and simple yet effective lyrics contributed to its enduring popularity, and it has been covered by numerous artists over the years.
The Strangeloves real gimmick however was their claim to actually be Australian sheep farming brothers (Giles, Miles and Niles Strange!), who had adopted the "Strangeloves" persona to enter the music scene. This fabricated narrative added an element of intrigue to their image and helped them stand out in a crowded musical landscape.
In addition to their success as The Strangeloves (whose hits included follow-ups "Cara-Lin", and "Night Time"), Feldman, Goldstein, and Gottehrer turned out to be prolific songwriters and producers, working with various artists across different genres, co-writing songs that were recorded by The Angels, The McCoys, and Manfred Mann, among others.
The Strangeloves soon faded, but Feldman continued to collaborate with Goldstein and Gottehrer, producing further hits like "My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels (which the trio had penned and which stayed at #1 in the USA fpr three weeks) and "Hang On Sloopy" by The McCoys, while they also wrote such songs as "Sorrow" (initially a hit for The McCoys but later covered by David Bowie).
In the 1990's, Feldman and Goldstein moved to Los Angeles, where they recorded under the name Rome & Paris and opened a new production firm, working with such legacy acts as Link Wray and The Belmonts. In 2001, Feldman went to live for a period in Nashville where he continued to be involved in music publishing and songwriting, penning "And Then", the debut hit for country music star Dusty Drake. In 2019, he wrote a well-received book "Simply Put! Thoughts And Feelings From The Heart".
In Los Angeles, California, USA, on August 23, 2023, from complications of an acute respiratory infection.
© Jim Liddane
(80), singer-songwriter and Eurovision Song Contest winner.
Salvatore "Toto" Cutugno was born on July 7, 1943, in Fosdinovo, Italy. His career started in the 1960s when he joined various bands as a drummer, the most successful of which was Albatros which performed across Italy, and scored a number of hit singles.
While still with Albatros, he took up songwriting for other artists, including Joe Dassin ("L'été indien", "Et si tu n'existais pas", and "Le Jardin du Luxembourg"), Dalida ("Monday Tuesday... Laissez moi danser"), Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Ornella Vanoni, Domenico Modugno, Claude François, Gigliola Cinquetti, Gérard Lenorman, Michel Sardou, Hervé Vilard and Paul Mauriat.
Emerging from Albatros as a solo singer in 1976, Cutugno released a series of albums and singles which achieved chart-topping status in Italy and other European countries. Some of his best-known songs such as "L'Italiano," "Solo Noi," "Serena," and "Serenata", were performed by him for the first time at the prestigious annual Sanremo Song Festival, where he featured in no fewer than 13 finals, earning him a Lifetime Career award from the festival in 2005.
Cotugno's international breakthrough however came in 1990 when at the age of 46, he won the Eurovision Song Contest representing Italy with "Insieme 1992" which he also wrote, making him the oldest singer ever to have won the Eurovision. This victory marked a turning point in his career, propelling him to international recognition and success particularly in the United States which he toured several times, Germany, Russia, Spain, Roumania, and Turkey. .
His music often touched upon themes of love, identity, and cultural pride. "L'Italiano", which summarises some of Italy's most popular social traits, hit #1 in Italy, but actually ended up selling more copies to Italian expatriates worldwide than it did in Italy itself.
Apart from his Eurovision victory, Toto Cutugno received several awards and accolades throughout his career and continued to perform live concerts and tours well into his seventies, maintaining a dedicated fan base, and solidifying his status as one of Italy's most respected and beloved musical figures.
In Milan, Italy, on August 22, 2023, of prostrate cancer.
© Jim Liddane
(82), singer-songwriter and one half of the hit duo Paul & Paula.
Ray Hildebrand was born on December 21, 1940, in Joshua, Texas, moving to Brownsville, Texas in 1960 to attend Howard Payne University. It was during his time there that he met singer Jill Jackson and they began singing together as Ray & Jill. In 1962, they appeared on radio KEAN to raise funds for The American Cancer Society, performing a song called "Hey Paula" which had been written by Ray Hildebrand, at the suggestion of a college friend Russell Berry, whose fiancée was named Paula.
The song came to the attention of Shelby Singleton who signed the duo to Phillips Records on condition that they changed their names to Paul and Paula. The romantic ballad became an instant hit, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963, selling more than two million copies.
The duo's follow-up singles, penned by Paul, including "Young Lovers" (which reached #6 in the USA), "First Day Back At School", "First Quarrel", "Something Old, Something New" and "We'll Never Break Up for Good" all charted and achieved moderate sales but they couldn't match the popularity of their debut hit, and despite their initial success, Paul & Paula's career began to decline.
Notwithstanding label publicity, the duo were not romantically involved, and in 1965, they parted ways, with Ray returning to college to complete his studies and Jill moving to California to pursue her music career, although they re-united from time to time, recording several singles, and appearing on oldies tours. Their last appearance together was in 2020.
In the years after Paul & Paula, Ray Hildebrand went on to become a minister pf religion, focussing on spreading the Christian faith and sharing his experiences with audiences. In 1970, he scored a hit with "Anybody Here Wanna Live Forever?" before joining with fellow-Christian performer Ray Land to form Land & Hildebrand, which recorded several albums and toured extensively.
In Kansas City, Kansas, USA, on the August 18, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(77), musician, songwriter, arranger, and record producer.
Born Robert Randolph Ellsworth on February 2, 1946, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bobby Eli grew up in a musically inclined family. He began playing the guitar at an early age and quickly developed his skills, influenced by several different musical genres.
He quickly came to the public's notice through his association with the R&B group The Delfonics, where he contributed greatly to their distinctive sound. His guitar work and arranging talents helped shape the group's hits, including "La-La (Means I Love You)" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)."
He soon established himself as a sought-after session guitarist and producer in the Philadelphia music scene. He also collaborated with several renowned producers and artists, including Thom Bell, Gamble and Huff, and Leon Huff, contributing to the "Philly Soul" sound that gained prominence during that era.
He was a founding member of MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother), a studio band associated with Philadelphia International Records. MFSB played a significant role in shaping the sound of the Philadelphia soul and disco scenes during the 1970s and became synonymous with the disco movement, playing a major role in shaping the dance music culture of that era. MFSB's music was also prominently featured at the iconic Studio 54 nightclub in New York City.
In a career spanning almost sixty years, he worked as a musician or producer alongside such acts as Atlantic Starr, B.B. King, Billy Paul, Chris Brown, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie, Deniece Williams, Elton John, Engelbert Humperdinck, George Clinton, Hall & Oates, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Isaac Hayes, Jay-Z, Patti LaBelle, Phyllis Hyman, Regina Belle, Rose Royce, Shaggy, Sister Sledge, Teddy Pendergrass, The Dells, The Jacksons, The Sapphires, The Spinners, The Stylistics, The Temptations, The Trammps, The Whispers, William "Poogie" Hart and Wilson Pickett..
He also penned several million-selling songs including "Love Won't Let Me Wait" for Major Harris and "Zoom" for Fat Larry's Band.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, on August 17. 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(88), co-founder of A&M Records, songwriter, and member of The Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Jerry Moss was born on May 8, 1935, in the Bronx, New York and developed an early interest in music, particularly jazz, becoming involved in the local music scene during his teenage years. Having served in the US Army, Moss began his music industry career promoting "16 Candles" by the Crests for a friend who owned Co-Ed Records, before moving to California in 1960 where he was befriended by trumpet player Herb Alpert.
In 1962, Jerry and Alpert, co-founded A&M Record, the name "A&M" being derived from their initials Alpert & Moss.
The label initially started as an independent operation from Alpert's garage, mainly with the intention of releasing Alpert's own recordings. Moss handled the business and financial aspects of the company, while Alpert focused on music production.
A&M Records achieved rapid success under Moss's leadership. The label's first major hit was Alpert's single "The Lonely Bull" in 1962 but A&M Records went on to play a crucial role in shaping the music landscape of the 1960s and beyond. The label signed and worked with a diverse range of artists from various genres, including The Carpenters, Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, Janet Jackson, Peter Frampton, and more.
In 1966, A&M Records achieved a significant milestone with the release of "Whipped Cream & Other Delights" by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. The album became a massive hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard charts and becoming a cultural phenomenon.
Under Moss's leadership, A&M Records developed and maintained a reputation for artist-friendly policies and a focus on creativity. The label's "Artist First" approach contributed to its success and ability to attract and retain talented performers.
In the 1970s, A&M Records expanded its reach by establishing offices and subsidiaries around the world. This global presence further solidified the label's influence and reach within the music industry. Moss played a significant role in fostering relationships with international artists, producers, and industry professionals, which contributed to A&M Records' continued success.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, the label's roster included artists like Sting, Sheryl Crow, The Police, Bryan Adams, OMD, Soundgarden, and more. However, in 1999, A&M Records was acquired by Universal Music Group for $500 million, marking the end of its independent era.
In semi-retirement, Jerry Moss was able to enjoy the numerous awards and honours gained throughout his career, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as a Grammy Trustees Award, and he continued to be involved in massive philanthropic efforts related to music education and healthcare.
In Los Angeles, California, USA, on the August 16, 2023, of undiscloseed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(80), musician, songwriter, film composer, producer, actor and and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Robbie Robertson, was born Jaime Royal Robertson on July 5, 1943, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and grew up in the city's diverse musical environment. He was of Mohawk and Cayuga First Nations descent on his mother's side and Jewish heritage on his father's side.
He learned to play guitar at a young age and was heavily influenced by rock and roll, R&B, and country music. In the late 1950s, Robertson joined Ronnie Hawkins' backing band, The Hawks, as their lead guitarist. This band would eventually become known as The Band. In the early 1960s, they backed Bob Dylan during his controversial transition to electric music, which led to a series of iconic recordings and live performances.
The Band released their debut album, "Music from Big Pink," in 1968, which was a critical and commercial success. The album showcased Robertson's songwriting prowess, with tracks like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" becoming enduring classics. The Band's unique blend of rock, folk, country, and Americana influences set them apart from their contemporaries.
Over the years, The Band released several more albums, including "The Band" (1969), "Stage Fright" (1970), and "Cahoots" (1971). They were known for their tight harmonies and organic, rootsy sound. However, internal tensions and external pressures led to their eventual dissolution as a touring band in 1976, documented in the influential concert film "The Last Waltz."
After The Band's breakup, Robbie Robertson embarked on a solo career. His self-titled debut album was released in 1987, featuring collaborations with renowned artists like U2 and Peter Gabriel. His subsequent albums, including "Storyville" (1991) and "Contact from the Underworld of Redboy" (1998), explored a diverse range of musical styles and themes.
Aside from his solo work, Robertson was involved in film scoring and production, composing music for films like "Raging Bull," "The Color of Money," and "The Departed." He also produced albums for other artists and continued to collaborate with musicians across genres.
In addition to his musical accomplishments, Robertson also wrote an autobiography titled "Testimony," where he reflected on his life, career, and the cultural shifts he witnessed in the music industry.
In Los Angeles, California, USA, on August 9, 2023, of prostrate cancer.
© Jim Liddane
(58), songwriter and DJ.
DJ Casper was born Willie Perry Jr., on May 31, 1965, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He began his musical career in Chicago's local club scene during the 1970s where he gained experience as a DJ, learning to read and interact with crowds.
In 1998, DJ Casper came up with the concept for "Cha Cha Slide." The song was inspired by the "Casper Slide Part 1" dance, which was a local Chicago dance that Casper used to perform at his gigs. He decided to turn the dance into a track with clear instructions for each step, making it easy for people to follow along, and released "Cha Cha Slide" in 2000. The song's catchy beats, simple instructions, and infectious dance moves quickly gained popularity. It was initially played at local events and clubs in the Chicago area and reached Number 1 on the UK charts. Four years later, he hit the charts again with "Oops Up Side Your Head", a remake of the the Gap Band's 1979 hit.
Thanks to word-of-mouth and the growing power of the internet, "Cha Cha Slide" became a viral sensation. It gained massive popularity in the early 2000s, spreading across the United States and eventually reaching international audiences. The song's popularity led to the rise of a new dance craze, with people of all ages participating in the synchronised line dance at various events. The song's instructions, like "Slide to the left," "Slide to the right," and other moves, made it easy for anyone to join in.
While "Cha Cha Slide" was undoubtedly DJ Casper's most famous work, he also created other dance tracks and remixes, and although none of them achieved the same level of success, "Cha Cha Slide" left a lasting impact on popular culture. It still remains a staple at parties, weddings, school and dance events, with the song's popularity also leading to various adaptations and remixes over the years.
In Chicago, Illinois, USA, pn August 7, 2023, of kidney and liver cancer
© Jim Liddane
(86), composer, conductor, and music arranger.
Carl Davis, who was born on October 28, 1936, in New York City, showed an early interest in music and began playing the piano at a young age, studying composition and conducting at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he received his formal musical education. Later, he pursued further studies at the Paris Conservatoire, honing his skills and gaining exposure to diverse musical styles and techniques.
In the early 1960s, Davis began to make a name for himself in the London music scene. He worked as an arranger and conductor for various artists and orchestras, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra (now the BBC Philharmonic). These experiences helped establish his reputation as a skilled conductor and music arranger.
One of his most significant contributions to the world of music was his work in composing film and television scores. He became associated with the celebrated filmmaker, Kevin Brownlow, and collaborated on numerous projects that sought to restore and preserve silent films. Their collaboration on "Napoleon" (1927), directed by Abel Gance, was particularly notable. Davis composed a new score for the film, performed by a full orchestra, which received critical acclaim.
Over the years, Davis worked on various film and television scores, blending classical elements with contemporary themes. Some of his notable works include the music for the television series "Pride and Prejudice", "The Naked Civil Servant", "The Kiss of Death", "Langrishe, Go Down", "Prince Regent", "Private Schulz", "Oppenheimer", "Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years", "The Hound of the Baskervilles", "The Far Pavilions", "The Day the Universe Changed", "The Pickwick Papers", "Hotel du Lac", "Ashenden", "Anne Frank Remembered", "Seesaw", "Coming Home", "Upstairs Downstairs" and "Brexicuted".
He also scored several films, including "The French Lieutenant's Woman", "The Bofors Gun", "The Only Way", "I, Monster", "Up Pompeii", "Up The Chastity Belt", "Rentadick", "What Became of Jack and Jill?", "Catholics", "Man Friday", "The Sailor's Return", "Champions", "King David", "The Girl In A Swing", "Scandal", "The Rainbow", "Frankenstein Unbound", "The Trial", "Widows' Peak", "The Great Gatsby", "Mothers & Daughters" and "The Understudy".
Apart from film and television, Carl Davis was involved in composing music for theatre and ballet productions. He collaborated with renowned choreographer Matthew Bourne, creating original scores for ballets like "The Nutcracker" and "Sleeping Beauty." His theatrical contributions showcased his versatility as a composer, incorporating various musical styles to enhance the visual storytelling.
Davis was also a respected conductor in the world of classical music and conducted major orchestras worldwide. His repertoire encompassed a broad range of classical works, as well as his own compositions, which included "The Liverpool Oratorio", a collaboration with Paul McCartney on an eight-movement choral work.
In a career spanning six decades, Carl Davis received numerous awards and honours for his work, including the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement awarded to him in 2012.
In Oxford, UK, on August 3, 2023, following a brain haemorrhage.
© Jim Liddane
(89), BAFTA-winning composer.
Jim Mavin Parker was born on July 4, 1934, in Sutton Coldfield, England and started his career as an oboist in a British Army band based in West Germany, before attending the Guildhall School of Music, graduating as a silver medallist.
He later joined the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before becoming a member of the Barrow Poets, which recorded six albums and worked with Stevie Smith, known for penning the poem "Not Waving But Drowning".
He then went on to compose music for numerous films and television shows, showcasing his versatility and ability to create emotionally resonant scores that enhanced the visual storytelling. Some of his notable works in this field include "Foyle's War", a detective drama television series set during and shortly after the Second World War and created by Midsomer Murders screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz, "Midsomer Murders", whose hauntingly beautiful theme became iconic and significantly contributed to the show's popularity, "House of Cards", the original British version of of the political thriller series based on the novel by Michael Dobbs, and "The Choir", which followed choirmaster Gareth Malone as he worked with various choirs, transforming the lives of the participants through music.
Other notable contributions include his work on "The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders", "The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling", "Ground Force", "Soldier", "Mapp and Lucia", "The House of Elliott", "Changing Rooms" and "A Rather English Marriage".
Outside of his film and television achievements, he penned numerous concert works, including orchestral, choral, and chamber music pieces and was also involved in teaching and education, leading workshops, masterclasses, and educational initiatives to inspire and educate young musicians and composers.
In London, UK, on July 28, 2023, of heart failure.
© Jim Liddane
(77), singer, songwriter, guitarist, founding member of The Eagles and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Randy Meisner was born on March 8, 1946, on a farm in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, USA. He developed an interest in music after seeing Elvis Presley perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, taking up both guitar and bass guitar. In 1966, having played with several local bands, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he performed and recorded with the Soul Survivors (later renamed The Poor), but his first notable venture in the music industry came when he became a founding member of the band Poco in 1968. Poco was one of the pioneering bands of the country rock genre and gained a dedicated following. Randy played bass and provided backing vocals for the band but left in 1969 after recording two albums with them and joined Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band.
In 1971, Randy joined another iconic band in the making, the Eagles. Alongside Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Bernie Leadon, Meisner was an integral part of the early Eagles sound, playing bass guitar and contributing lead and backing vocals to the group.
The Eagles achieved massive success and became one of the most influential bands of the 1970s. Their 1972 debut album, "Eagles," included hits like "Take It Easy" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling," which showcased Meisner's vocal talent and bass skills. The band's 1975 album "One Of These Nights" featured Meisner singing lead on the hit song "Take It To The Limit", which he had co-written with Don Henley and Glenn Frey. He also co-wrote and performed on "Try And Love Again," "Is It True?", "Take The Devil,", "Tryin'" and "Certain Kind Of Fool".
Despite their success, tensions and conflicts arose within the band over time. Randy, who was widely regarded as a kind, sensitive and generous soul who shunned the limelight, found himself unable to cope with the constant tensions within the band, and after the release of the album "Hotel California", decided to quit the Eagles. His departure in September 1977 was said to be partly due to both the toll of extensive touring and family reasons.
After leaving, Randy pursued a solo career. In 1978, he released his self-titled debut album, which received modest success but his solo career never achieved the same level of fame as his time with the Eagles.
In the years that followed, Randy faced a number of personal challenges, including struggles with alcoholism and mental health issues. These difficulties contributed to a relatively low profile in the music industry during the 1980s and beyond, although he continued to tour and record sporadically.
In his later years, Randy largely kept a private life and was rarely in the public eye, focussing on his mental health and general well-being.
In Los Angeles, California, USA, on July 26, 2023, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
© Jim Liddane
(56), singer and songwriter and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor was born on December 8, 1966, in Glenageary, County Dublin, Ireland. She was the third of five children in her family. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised by her mother, Marie, who was a devout Catholic. Sinéad's difficult childhood was marked by abuse and neglect, and she sought solace in music from an early age.
Sinéad's love for music and singing emerged during her teenage years. At 15, she dropped out of school and pursued a career in music. In the early 1980s, she joined the Irish band In Tua Nua as a backing vocalist and later contributed vocals to their album "Vaudeville".
In 1987, Sinéad released her debut solo album, "The Lion and the Cobra." The album's unique blend of folk, rock, and Celtic influences received critical acclaim and helped establish her as a powerful and distinctive voice in the music industry. The single "Mandinka" garnered attention and marked the beginning of her successful solo career.
Sinéad's second album, "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," was released in 1990 and became a massive commercial success. The album included her iconic cover of Prince's song "Nothing Compares 2 U," which catapulted her to international fame. The song's haunting music video, featuring Sinéad's tearful face, became an iconic image of the early 1990s.
Her beautiful voice and controversial views occasionally masked an outstanding songwriting talent, most evident in such songs as "Mandinka" (one of the highlights from her debut album "The Lion and the Cobra" and inspired by the miniseries "Roots", based on the book by Alex Haley), "The Emperor's New Clothes" (a compelling reflection on fame and identity, and the problems of being an unmarried mother in an Irish Catholic family), "Black Boys On Mopeds" (which addressed social issues and racism in London), "Last Day Of Our Acquaintance" (touching on the theme of a failing relationship), "Fire On Babylon" (which delved into her troubled relationship with her mother), "This Is A Rebel Song" (a testament to her activism) and "The Healing Room" (from her album "Faith and Courage").
Throughout her career, Sinéad O'Connor was known for being outspoken and unafraid to tackle controversial issues. In 1992, she sparked a major controversy by ripping up a photograph of Pope John Paul II during a live performance on "Saturday Night Live" in protest of the Catholic Church's handling of child abuse scandals. The incident caused significant backlash and affected her career for some time.
In the following years, Sinéad continued to release albums that showcased her evolving musical style and introspective lyrics. Some of her notable albums include "Am I Not Your Girl?" (1992), "Universal Mother" (1994), "Faith and Courage" (2000), and "How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?" (2012).
Alongside her professional success, Sinéad O'Connor faced personal struggles. She openly talked about her battles with mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. These challenges often impacted her public image and relationships.
Sinéad was also known for her activism and advocacy on various social and political issues, including women's rights and the fight against child abuse. Her music often reflected her passionate beliefs and desire for social justice.
In 2018, Sinéad announced her conversion to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada' Davitt. She expressed that her faith brought her peace and stability in her personal life.
Sinéad O'Connor's powerful voice, emotive performances, and fearlessness in addressing contentious topics left a lasting impact on the music industry. Her influence can be seen in subsequent generations of female artists who continue to push boundaries and use their platforms to advocate for change.
Three-time Grammy Award Nominee.
In London, UK, on July 26, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
Raymond Froggatt was born on 13th November 1941 in in Bordesley Green, Birmingham, UK, and started his career with local band The Bucaneers (later to become Monopoly) in 1963. Two years later, the outfit was re-named the Raymond Froggatt Band, whose members at one stage included Louis Clark who would go on to find fame in later years with ELO and as a solo performer with his "Hooked On Classics" series of albums.
In 1967, the band signed with Polydor Records, and although they failed to achieve chart success in the UK, toured widely in both the UK and Europe, with Froggatt becoming the only UK artist ever to have played the Albert Hall, the London Palladium and the Birmingham Symphony Hall. In 1968, he scored a Top 3 success in the Netherlands with his own composition "Callow-La-Vita", which became a worldwide hit for the Dave Clark 5 that same year under the title "The Red Balloon". The following year, another of his songs "Big Ship", was Top Ten hit for Cliff Richard while Russell Morris scored an Australian hit with "Rachel" in 1970.
The original Raymond Froggatt Band broke up in the early 1970s following a dispute with manager Don Arden who was pushing them to move to the USA. Raymond went to live in Telford, Shropshire, emerging two years later as a leading UK country music performer under the guidance of country impresario Mervyn Conn. Over the next four decades, he released more than forty albums including several recorded in Nashville utilising such star musicians as The Jordanaries and Hargus “Pig” Robbins. In addition, a number of his songs were covered by such acts as Leapy Lee, Tina Turner, Daniel O'Donnell, and Gladys Knight.
In Shrewsbury, UK, on July 23, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(89), singer, songwriter and record producer.
Vince Hill, who was born Vincent Hill on April 16, 1934 in Holbrooks, Coventry, England, started his career singing in local pubs and talent competitions. Responding to an advertisement in Melody Maker, he joined The Band of the Royal Corps Of Signals as a vocalist, enabling him to tour the world while simultaneously completing his national service.
After leaving the army, he joined Teddy Foster's Band, based in London and at the beginning of the 1960s, became a member of the UK vocal group, The Raindrops, alongside Jackie Lee, Len Beadle and Johnny Worth.
In 1962, he emerged as a solo vocalist on Piccadilly Records, but initially, struggled to achieve a breakthrough. However, in 1965, he moved pver to EMI and scored with "Take Me To Your Heart Again" as well as a cover of the Édith Piaf hit "La Vie En Rose". In 1967, he achieved his biggest success with the song "Edelweiss" from the musical "Sound Of Music" which reached the Number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.
Vince's vocal style was often compared to that of Matt Monro, another popular British singer known for his romantic ballads, but Hill was also a songwriter whose songs - many composed with his musical director Ernie Dunstall - included hits for Lee Grant and Robert Goulet, along with "I'm Gonna Make It" sung by Joe Cuddy, which won the 1973 Castlebar Song Contest.
Though Vince Hill's chart success declined in the late 1970s, he remained active in the music industry, making frequent appearances on television, hosting such shows as "They Sold A Million" and "The Musical Time Machine", as well as his own prime-time television show in Canada "Vince Hill At The Club" which also aired in the USA. During this period, he also toured regularly, appearing at the London Palladium, the Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Talk Of The Town.
In 1990, he played Ivor Novello in the stage play "My Dearest Ivor", before going on to play the part of the Cowardly Lion in an adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "The Wizard Of Oz". He also wrote the stage musical "Zodiac".
In, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, UK, on July 22, 2023, following a stroke.
© Jim Liddane
(76), actress, singer, songwriter and model.
Jane Birkin was born on December 14, 1946, in London, England. Her acting career began in the mid-1960s with small roles in films like "Wonderwall". However, her breakthrough came when she starred in the iconic film "Blow-Up," directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. The movie's success brought her international recognition and established her as a sex symbol.
In the late 1960s, Birkin moved to France and collaborated with French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. They became a well-known and controversial couple and had a significant impact on each other's careers. Birkin and Gainsbourg recorded the duet "Je t'Aime... Moi Non Plus" in 1969, which became a massive hit but also sparked controversy due to its explicit content.
As a singer, Jane released numerous albums and continued to perform both solo and in collaborations throughout her career, working with various artists and musicians, such as Jacques Brel, and Bryan Ferry.
She was also a fashion icon - the iconic Hermès Birkin bag was also named after her. The story is that she inspired the design while seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas, the Hermès chief executive, on a flight in the early 1980s, she mentioned that she had trouble finding a good leather weekend bag.
In Paris, France, on July 16, 2023, suddenly, but while being treated from leukaemia.
© Jim Liddane
(77), musician, songwriter, record producer and radio host.
Although widely acclaimed in Canada, Bob Segarini was actually born in Stockton, California, USA, on the 28th August 1945. He began his music career in the mid 1960s, becoming a member of such LA groups as The Ratz, Family Tree (which released several singles and an album on RCA) and Roxy, which finally morphed into The Wackers, a band which produced several albums, achieving a degree of popularity on the West Coast.
After leaving The Wackers, Segarini briefly formed The Dudes, following which he embarked on a solo career, releasing his debut solo album, "Gotta Have Pop," in 1978. This album received critical acclaim but did not achieve significant commercial success.
Segarini by now, was also collaborating regularly with a number of artists and bands, as well as producing records for other acts, while with Randy Bishop, he co-wrote and recorded two songs for the hit movie "Vanishing Point".
He went on to work with acts such as Nilsson, Cheap Trick, The Ramones, Elkie Brooks and Todd Rundgren, among others while releasing a number of critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful solo albums, including "Gotta Have Pop", "On The Radio", "Goodbye LA", and "Vox Populi", although two singles taken from those albums did chart in Canada.
In 1984, he became involved in broadcasting, working as a radio host and program director initially at CHUM FM in Toronto, followed by stints at Classic Rock station CILQ and Sirius Satellite Radio, where he also started to pen an influential weekly magazine column titled "Don't Believe A Word I Say", named after the 1978 single which had introduced him to Canadian audiences.
In Toronto, Canada, pm July 10, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(89), pianist, composer and conductor.
Peter Nero was born Bernard Nierow, on May 22, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in a musical household - his father was a professional violinist and his mother played the piano - and they both recognised his talent at a young age, encouraging him to pursue a career in music.
At the age of seven, Nero began studying classical piano at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and by the time he was a teenager, was already appearing in concert and performing on radio.
During these years, Nero began to develop an interest in jazz. Inspired by the performances of jazz pianists such as Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson. he started incorporating jazz elements into his playing style, combining his classical training with improvisation and swing rhythms.
He attended Brooklyn College from which he graduated in 1956 with a degree – not in music - but psychology, joking that whereas he didn't need to study any more music, his parents had insisted that he have something to fall back on in case the music failed.
In 1957, he won the National Piano Playing Auditions, which led to his first major break in the music industry. He signed a recording contract with RCA Victor who recommended a change of name from Nierow to Nero, and released his debut album, "Introducing Peter Nero" in 1958. The album received critical acclaim and established Nero as a rising star on the music scene.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Nero continued to release successful albums, showcasing his versatile piano playing across various genres. He gained a reputation for his dynamic and energetic performances, captivating audiences with his technical skill and showmanship, frequently playing piano with his right hand, while conducting the orchestra with his left.
In addition to his solo career, Nero collaborated with several prominent orchestras and conducted performances around the world. In 1979, he became the conductor and artistic director of the Philly Pops Orchestra in Philadelphia, a position he held for over three decades, working with the cream of the music industry, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Andy Williams, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Mathis, Rod Stewart and Elton John.
Although best-known as a performer, Peter Nero was also a notable composer. His work includes the score for the 1963 Jane Fonda film "Sunday In New York" with Nero even making an appearance in the movie.
He also composed music for television, including the theme song for the soap opera "Another World" and the main title theme for the game show "The Price Is Right" during the 1970s.
Two-time Grammy Award Winner.
In Eustis, Florida, USA, on July 6, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(90), radio personality who played a major part in the growth of rock & roll, and songwriter.
Dick Biondi was born Richard Salvatore Biondi on September 13, 1932, in Endicott, New York. He grew up in a working-class Italian-American family and developed a passion for music at a young age.
His interest in radio began during his teenage years and he particularly admired those personalities who captivated audiences with an engaging on-air presence. Meanwhile, he was seeking experience working at small radio stations in his hometown where he learned the technical aspects of radio production and developed what would become an unique on-air persona.
He started his broadcasting career in 1950 - not as a DJ but as a sports-caster at WINR Binghamton New York and later WCBA Corning, moving on to KVOB Bastrop Louisiana and KSYL Alexandria Louisiana (where he made the switch from sports to music) , WHOT Youngstown Ohio, and WKBW and WEBR Buffalo New York.
In 1960, he moved to WLS Chicago, which could then be heard "from the Atlantic to the Pacific" and where he became the first American DJ to play a Beatles record ("Please, Please Me") in the USA. Three years later, he was signed by the legendary rock and roll station KRLA in Los Angeles, and in the 1970s, by WNMB North Myrtle Beach SC, where he remained for ten years, launching his own nationally-syndicated oldies show, before returning to what he often described as his first love, the city of Chicago and WJMK in 1984.
He remained with WJMK for 21 years, leaving only when the station changed format, ending up at former rival WLS-FM where he hosted the top-rated late-evening show until he retired in 2017 due to illness at the age of 85.
Dick Biondi was one of the first DJs to play records by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fabian, Paul Anka, Little Richard, Gene Vincent and many of the early rock & roll stars, and accordingly was able to call on them for record hop appearances and on-air endorsements. His screaming delivery coupled with his on and off the air antics brought him huge popularity but as he also admitted, led him being fired on numerous occasions, once for describing a station manager's car on-air and recommending that his listeners should throw a brick at it - which several promptly did.
In the now-legendary album series "Cruising", he represented the year 1960, with a re-creation of one of his shows from WKBW, Buffalo.
National Radio Hall of Fame Inductee.
In Chicago, Illinois, USA, on June 26, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(48), singer, songwriter and actress.
Born Ferren Lee-Kelly on January 17, 1975, in Hong Kong, but raised in San Francisco, California, following her father's death, Coco Lee began her music career in the early 1990s, releasing her debut album, "Love From Now On," in 1994.
She gained massive popularity in Asia with her Mandarin and Cantonese songs, but later transitioned to singing in English as well. Some of her best known hits include "A Love Before Time" from the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" which she performed at the 2001 Academy Awards, “Before I Fall In Love” from the "Runaway Bride" soundtrack and "Do You Want My Love.".
She released 18 studio albums in different languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, and English and collaborated with various artists from around the world, winning several major awards. She also performed at such events, as the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Apart from her music career, Coco Lee also ventured into acting appearing in such movies as "The Wesley's Mysterious File" and "Master Of Zen", while voicing the female warrior Mulan in the Mandarin-language version of Disney’s “Mulan".
In Hong Kong, China, on June 26, 2023, by suicide.
© Jim Liddane
(85), singer, songwriter and dancer.
Anita Wood was born on January 27, 1938, in Bells, Tennessee, and began her career while still at school, singing on local television shows and making live concert appearances during the 1950s.
She met Elvis Presley in1957 when he appeared on the Memphis TV show “Top 10 Dance Party” which she was then hosting, and the couple embarked on a relationship that would last for five years. Wood became a significant part of Presley's life at a crucial period of his career, providing support and companionship to him during the time when he was serving in the army.
Wood's own movie ambitions (she was already signed to Paramount Pictures), and her musical career were however put on hold during her relationship with Elvis. She did make a number of well-received records for ABC-Paramount, Sun Records and Santo, including "Crying In The Chapel" (later recorded by Elvis), "I'm Coming Home", "I'll Wait Forever" (which she penned), "Dream Baby" (also recorded by Roy Orbison), and "I Can't Show How I Feel,". She also frequently performed live on such national television programs as "The Ed Sullivan Show" and the "Andy Williams Show", but to a great extent, any ambitions she had were overshadowed by her involvement with Presley although she would score a Top 10 hit when she vocalised (uncredited) with Andy Williams on his 1959 recording of "Hawaiian Wedding Song".
The relationship between her and Elvis ended abruptly in 1962 when she discovered that Presley, who had met fourteen year old Priscilla Beaulieu two years earlier while doing his military service in Germany, was still corresponding regularly with the teenager. Anita went on to marry NFL football star Johnny Brewer in 1965, and retired from show business the following year, becoming a teacher in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a post she held up until her husband's death in 2011.
In Jackson, Mississippi, USA, on June 29, 2023, of pneumonia.
© Jim Liddane
(89), actor. producer, author and singer-songwriter.
Born on March 26, 1934 in New York City, Alan Arkin started his artistic journey as a folk singer and musician in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Although he had studied acting amd hoped to become a movie star, he instead found himself an integral part of the burgeoning folk scene in Greenwich Village during the folk music boom. Alan played guitar and sang, often performing humorous and satirical songs and quickly became known for his clever and witty songwriting style, as well as his engaging stage presence.
In 1956, he formed a folk group called The Tarriers along with Bob Carey and Erik Darling. The Tarriers achieved early success, particularly with their 1956 hit single "Cindy, Oh Cindy", while their "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" co-written by Alan, which reached the top of the charts and was covered by Harry Belafonte the following year, established the group as a major folk act.
Alan’s musical talents also extended to playing other instruments such as the banjo and harmonica, collaborating with notable musicians of the time, including Pete Seeger and The Weavers. In 1958, he left the Tarriers to concentrate on acting, but also founded a children's folk group The Baby Sitters, which toured widely and recorded several albums, remaining with them until 1966 when he finally made his movie breakthrough in the anarchic comedy "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming".
Other movie successes followed, including "Wait Until Dark" (1967), "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" (1968), "Popi" (1969), "Catch-22" (1970), "The In-Laws" (1979), "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992), "Grosse Pointe Blank" (1997), "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing" (2001), "Sunshine Cleaning" (2007), "Get Smart" (2008), and "Argo" (2012). He also won the Academy Award For Best Supporting Actor for his performance in "Little Miss Sunshine".
He once said that his early musical career had helped him gain visibility in the entertainment industry paving the way for his transition into acting and while his focus ultimately shifted towards theatre and movies, he occasionally incorporated music into his acting roles. In the 1968 film "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" for example, Alan portrayed a deaf-mute character who communicates through playing the piano, his musical background adding authenticity to the role.
Academy Award Winner.
Four-time Oscar Award Nominee.
In San Marcos, California, USA, on June 29, 2023, of heart failure.
© Jim Liddane
(93), bluegrass and country music performer and composer, known as "Mr. Mandolin".
Jesse McReynolds, born on July 9, 1929, grew up outside Coburn, Virginia, and began playing the mandolin at a young age. His grandfather was fiddler Charlie McReynolds, who was a member of The Bull Mountain Moonshiners, his father Claude, was also a fiddler, while his mother Savannah played guitar, banjo and harmonica.
In the 1940s, he and his brother Jim formed a musical partnership under the name Jim & Jesse, and started performing together. During their early years, the duo were the resident band on 14 radio stations in 10 different states, and were eventually signed by Capitol Records in 1952 and brought to Nashville to record.
They quickly gained popularity with their unique blend of traditional bluegrass and country music, often featuring tight harmonies and Jesse's innovative mandolin techniques. Jesse McReynolds was also credited with developing a distinctive mandolin playing style called the "crosspicking" technique, a technique which involves using a flatpick to play rapid-fire, cascading notes across the strings, creating a rolling effect. It became one of his trademark techniques and influenced many subsequent mandolin players in the bluegrass genre.
For Capitol and later Starday, Jim & Jesse recorded more than fifty albums along with 85 singles, earning them a dedicated fan base (they had the longest-running fan club in country music), and critical acclaim, which went way beyond their country base, and included awards for their tribute albums to such rock institutions as Chuck Berry and The Grateful Dead. Indeed in 1969, Jesse was invited to play mandolin on The Doors rock LP "The Soft Parade".
They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1964, and scored a number of chart hits, including "Cotton Mill Man" (1964), "Better Times A-Comin’" (1965), "Diesel On My Tail." (1966), "Ballad Of Thunder Road" (1967), "Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman" (1968), "Yonder Comes A Freight Train" (1968), "Golden Rocket" (1970) and a version of Elizabeth Cotton’s folk classic "Freight Train" in 1971. They continued performing and recording together until Jim's passing in 2002.
After his brother's death, which marked the end of the 55-year run of the most enduring brother duo in country music, Jesse McReynolds carried on, remaining with the Grand Ole Opry, becoming its longest-serving member following the death of veteran Jan Howard in 2020, while releasing several solo albums showcasing his mandolin prowess, including a surprising tribute album of the songs of The Grateful Dead.
In recognition of his contributions to music, Jesse received numerous awards, including the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honour in the traditional arts bestowed by the United States government.
In Gallatin, Tennessee. USA, on June 23, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(99), Grammy Award winning lyricist and songwriter, and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Born on April 30, 1924, in Chicago, Illinois. from an early age Sheldon Harnick showed an unusual passion for musical theatre, immersing himself in a wide range of musical styles by frequently attending performances in Chicago's vibrant theatre scene.
While at Carl Schurz High School in Chicago, he also participated in the school's musical productions and gained experience as a performer. Going on to study music at Northwestern University, he played in several bands, and having graduated from Northwestern, served in the United States Army during World War II. During his military service, he entertained fellow soldiers by writing and performing in shows.
Following the war, he returned to Chicago and to his love of theatre, writing songs for musical revues and cabaret acts. In 1951, he moved to New York City, where he found greater opportunities to collaborate with other emerging names in the theatre scene.
It was in New York that he met composer Jerry Bock in 1952. The two immediately clicked and began a partnership that would prove to be highly successful. They shared a mutual passion for storytelling through music and it was during this time that he honed his unique ability to craft lyrics that were both intelligent and emotionally resonant.
Their breakthrough came with their fifth musical "Fiorello!" in 1959, based on the life of New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. The show was a critical and commercial success, winning them both the Tony Award for Best Musical and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Following the success of "Fiorello!," Harnick and Bock collaborated on other notable musicals, including "She Loves Me" (1963), "Fiddler On The Roof" (1964), and "The Apple Tree" (1966). "Fiddler On The Roof" remains one of their most beloved works and has become a classic of musical theatre, with Harnick's lyrics capturing the emotional depth and cultural richness of the story.
Sheldon's lyrics were known for their clever wordplay, wit, and ability to convey complex emotions. He had a keen sense of storytelling through song and tackled a wide number of themes and genres throughout his career, from romantic comedy to historical drama. His collaborations with Bock produced numerous memorable songs, including "Sunrise, Sunset," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker.", and although he eschewed the “pop” world, several of his songs were chart hits, recorded by such diverse acts as The Kingston Trio, Zero Mostel, Eartha Kitt, Anthony Newley. Bobby Darin. The Beautiful South, Kevin Spacey, Ronnie Hilton, Rolf Harris, Frankie Vaughan, Roger Whittaker, Eydie Gorme, The Four Tops, and Susan Maugham.
In addition to his work with Bock, Sheldon collaborated with several other composers and writers. He worked for example with Richard Rodgers on the musical "Rex" (1976) and with Joe Raposo on the musical "A Wonderful Life" (2005) and also wrote lyrics for film and television, including the theme song for the popular animated TV series "Captain Kangaroo." In total, he penned 27 staged musicals in a career that spanned 75 years.
Grammy Award Winner.
Three-time Tony Award Winner, including the 2016 Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre Award.
Pulitzer Prize For Drama Winner.
In Manhattan, New York City, USA, on June 23, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(86), ragtime pianist, composer, actor, and author.
Max Morath was born in 1926, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, into a musical family, and started playing piano at the age of three. He later studied music at Colorado College, where he focused on classical piano.
While a student however, Max discovered ragtime music and became captivated by its unique style and syncopated rhythms. He began by exploring the works of composers like Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and Eubie Blake, and soon developed a deep passion for the genre.
In the late 1940s, he started playing piano in small clubs and venues. Although ragtime itself was being viewed as a dying genre, his lively and entertaining performances garnered attention, and he quickly gained a reputation as a talented entertainer.
His national breakthrough came in 1959 when he starred in the Broadway musical "The Ragtime Years," which brought both the music, and indeed his own talents, into the public eye. This show was followed by a sequence of similar productions, including "Living The Ragtime Life", "The Ragtime Man", "Ragtime Revisited", "Ragtime" and "Again", while his "Max Morath At The Turn Of The Century" production toured the USA for four years, playing to full houses across the country.
He played a significant role in the ragtime revival of the 1970s, (itself brought about in no small part by the success of the movie "The Sting"), performing in various venues, including theatres and concert halls, showcasing the music of the great ragtime composers. His renditions of classic pieces alongside his own compositions, helped to reignite interest in the genre.
He also made numerous appearances on television, including "The Tonight Show", "The Bell Telephone Hour", "Kraft Music Hall" and "The Dick Cavett Show," introducing audiences to ragtime music. In addition, he released several albums on Vanguard, Epic, Solo Art and RCA, including "The World of Scott Joplin", "Jonah Man", "Ragtime Women", "The Great American Piano Bench" and "Oh, Play That Thing!". These recordings along with his live appearances, received critical acclaim and further contributed to the resurgence of ragtime's popularity.
Apart from his performances, Max became known for his extensive knowledge of ragtime history and culture. He authored several books, including "The Complete Guide to Ragtime Piano", "The NPR Curious Listener's Guide To Popular Standards" and "Living A Ragtime Life," sharing insights and anecdotes about the genre. His writings on the subject contributed significantly to the understanding, appreciation and preservation of ragtime music, leading to Max being dubbed “a one-man ragtime army".
However, he also explored other musical styles, including early American popular music (he was a fan of both Irving Berlin and the Gershwins), and vaudeville, earning numerous awards and honours for his contributions to both ragtime and American music, including the Glenn Jenks Lifetime Achievement Award.
In Duluth, Minnesota, USA, on June 19, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
Born Billy Schatz in Russellville, Alabama, USA, Lee Clayton grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Encouraged by his father, Lee took up guitar at the age of eight, and soon became proficient also on harmonica and steel guitar, performing with a number of country bands while still attending Oak Ridge High.
Lee worked at various jobs before being accepted by the US Air Force as a trainee pilot, and having been honourably discharged from the USAF in 1968, moved to Nashville with the intention of becoming a songwriter. Lee's first success was when he penned "Ladies Love Outlaws" for Waylon Jennings in 1973 which led to him signing for MCA Records in 1974, and releasing "Lee Clayton", which was critically acclaimed, but failed to chart.
He went on to release seven further albums, mainly on Capitol and Provogue, while penning such songs as "Lone Wolf" (Jerry Jeff Walker), and "If You Could Touch Her At All" (Willie Nelson), achieving his biggest success in 1990 with "Silver Stallion", a Hot 100 and Country Top 40 hit for The Highwaymen, the outlaw country supergroup comprising Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
In White House, Tennessee, USA, on June 12, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(62), singer-songwriter with Aslan and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Born in Finglas, Dublin, Ireland, Christy Dignam was enrolled in the Bel Canto House School Of Singing, operated by Frank Merriman.
In 1979, he formed Meelah XVIII, which morphed into Aslan, featuring Joe Jewell, Billy McGuinness, and Alan Downey.
Their first album "Feel No Shame", reached #1 in Ireland, but before their second album could be released, Aslan split in 1988, with Christy going on to found Dignam & Goff alongside guitarist Conor Goff. Although the duo released a number of recordings, and even scored a 1987 Irish hit with "America", they dissolved when Christy rejoined Aslan in 1993.
A revitalised Aslan now started on a run of hits including "This Is", "Please Don't Stop", "Loving Me Lately", "Crazy World", "Where's The Sun", "Pretty Thing", "This Is '98", "Fall On Me", "Here Comes The Sun", "Too Late For Hallelujah", "Different Man" and "Feel No Shame".
Their gold albums included "Goodbye Charlie Moonhead", "Here Comes Lucy Jones", "For Some Strange Reason" and "Feel No Shame 30th Anniversary", while "Shame About Lucy Moonhead - The Best of Aslan", "The Platinum Collection", "Made in Dublin - Live at Vicar Street" and "Waiting For This Madness To End" all achieved triple-platinum status.
The band also toured extensively both in Ireland an abroad, while also selling out venues in Australia and the Netherlands.
In addition to his work with Aslan, Christy Dignam also released a solo album "The Man Who Stayed Alive", and collaborated with a number of international stars, including Coolio and Imelda May.
In Dublin, Ireland, on June 13, 2023, of complications brought on by amyloidosis.
© Jim Liddane
(71), songwriter and member of The Nerves.
Born in San Francisco in 1952, Jack Lee founded The Nerves in 1974 alongside fellow songwriters Peter Case on guitar and Paul Collins on drums, before moving the band to Los Angeles three years later. Although they did manage both an American and European tour, The Nerves only released one EP which however contained Lee's song "Hanging On The Telephone", before breaking up soon after.
Jack continued to perform and write, finding success when "Hanging On The Telephone" became an international hit for Blondie in 1978, Lee reputedly only learning that it was going to be released just as a technician was arriving to cut off his phone!
Other successes followed, including, "Come Back And Stay", a worldwide hit in 1983 for Paul Young, and "You Are My Lover", recorded by Suzi Quatro for her hit album “Suzi… And Other Four Letter Words”. In addition, Paul Young included two other songs by Lee on his debut platinum album "No Parlez".
In Santa Monica, California, USA, on May 26, 2023, from colon cancer.
© Jim Liddane
(79), guitarist, songwriter and leader of The Groundhogs.
Born in in 1944 in Humberston, Lincolnshire, UK, at the age of eighteen Tony McPhee joined The Groundhogs, a blues band which would back such American touring acts as Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Champion Jack Dupree and John Lee Hooker throughout the sixties.
This band evolved into a recording unit, and released their first album "Scratchin' The Surface" (produced by a very young Mike Batt) in 1968. This was followed by a series of albums "Blues Obituary" (1969), "Thank Christ for the Bomb" (1970), "Split" (1971) and "Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs" (1972), the latter three all reaching the UK Top 10.
Tony released his first solo album "Two Sides of Tony (T.S.) McPhee" in 1973, and turned extensively for the next forty years, sometimes with the Groundhogs (whose line-up has featured over the years, more than 30 different musicians), and as an acoustic act.
He officially retired from the band in 2014 following a stroke, although he continued to perform as a solo act.
In London, UK, on June 6, 2023, of complications following a fall which he suffered in 2022.
© Jim Liddane
(83), Grammy Award-winning singer who scored a worldwide hit with "The Girl From Ipanema", and songwriter.
Born Astrud Evangelina Weinert in 1940, in Salvador, Bahia, Brazi, Astrud Gilberto's father was a language professor and amateur musician (Astrud herself spoke fluent English from an early age), while her mother Evangelina Neves Lobo Weinert, played seven musical instruments.
In 1959, Astrud married singer-guitarist João Gilberto, ten years her senior, who was already an established recording artist in Brazil, and with the growth of interest in Brazilian music particularly in the New York area, the couple would eventually relocate to the United States.
Her own unexpected breakthrough came via the iconic album "Getz/Gilberto", a collaboration between her husband João Gilberto, saxophonist Stan Getz (who a year earlier had a worldwide hit with a bossanova tune "Desafinado"), and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim The album was to include "The Girl from Ipanema", a tune by Antonio Carlos Jobim, with Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes which had been written as a homage to local teenage beauty Helô Pinheiro.
That song (originally titled "Garota de Ipanema") had first been recorded in 1962 as an instrumental track on the album "The Composer of Desafinado Plays" but now, during the "Getz/Gilberto" recording session in New York, it was suggested that an English-language version be made to better promote the album on radio, and Norman Gimbel was brought in to pen new lyrics.
João promptly asked his wife Astrid, who was present at the session and was the only person who could speak English, to sing on the track with him.
Even though she was not credited on the subsequent album, Verve Records recognised the song's potential and decided to release an edited version of the track as a single, highlighting her name as vocalist and her ethereal and soothing vocals on "The Girl From Ipanema" immediately propelled her to an unexpected international fame.
The ensuing single reached the Top 5 on charts across the world, winning the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1965. and ending up as the most recorded pop song in history after Paul McCartney's "Yesterday". Although supposedly a collaboration between João Gilberto and Stan Getz, Getz managed to end up with the vast bulk of the money, while denying Astrid any royalties from the sales of either the single or the album, paying her instead a session fee of just $120.
There were subsequent covers of the song by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, while a version titled "The Boy From Ipanema" was recorded by Julie London (1964), Peggy Lee (1964), Ella Fitzgerald and The Supremes (1965), Shirley Bassey (1966) and Eartha Kitt (1974).
After the release of "Getz/Gilberto," Astrud divorced her husband João following allegations of marital infidelity, but with a child to support, now found herself forced to go out on tour with Getz, a heroin addict who had already earned more than million dollars from her recording. Eventually, she was able to break free from Getz, a man so disliked that a fellow musician, hearing that that the saxaphonist had a heart operation, replied "What did they do - put one in?".
Astrid by now however had discovered that she could to get bookings as a solo artist, performing both bossanova tunes and American jazz standards on stage, and in the 1970s, she also began to record her own songs in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese.
Some of her more notable albums included "The Astrud Gilberto Album" (1965), "Look To The Rainbow" (1966), "Beach Samba" (1967), "Gilberto with Turrentine" (1969), "Now" (1972), and "Plus" (with James Last - 1995). She subsequently appeared on stage and sang with long-time admirer George Michael and in 2002, released her final studio album "Jungle", announcing her retirement from touring soon after.
Although it was her recording of “Ipanema” that was played at the opening of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, she was not present at the ceremony, and indeed rarely returned to Brazil where popular sentiment amongst a small but vocal minority of the local music fraternity insisted on describing her international success as merely a lucky phenomenon.
Grammy Award winner.
In Philadelphia, USA, onJune 5, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(82), songwriter, lyricist, author, Grammy Award Winner and ISA • International Songwriters Association Hall Of Fame Member.
Cynthia Weil was born in 1940 in New York City to Morris Weil, a furniture store owner and Dorothy Mendez, both Lithuanian Jewish immigrants.
After leaving High School, she attended Queens College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system where she studied English, although her main ambition was to make a career in acting and dancing. She soon discovered that she also had a talent for writing lyrics, and in 1959, having spent several months with mentor Frank Loesser’s music publishing company, signed with Don Kirshner and Al Nevin's Aldon Music as a staff writer. Here, she met her future songwriting partner and husband, Barry Mann. He had already scored with "She Say (Oom Dooby Doom)", a Top 20 hit for The Diamonds in 1959, and "I Love How You Love Me", a Top 5 hit for The Paris Sisters in 1961, and the couple began writing songs together just a few weeks after they started dating.
Jn 1961, the year they married, Barry himself had a Top 10 hit as a vocalist with the novelty song "Who Put The Bomp", (co-written with Gerry Goffin), while he and Cynthia achieved their first hit as songwriters with Tony Orlando's "Bless You" (his follow-up to Gerry Goffin's and Carole King's "Halfway to Paradise"). Eighteen months later, Eydie Gorme took their "Blame It On The Bossanova" to the top of the charts - the first of dozens of Top 10 hits to come.
Although her most significant and enduring partnership was with Barry with whom she wrote the majority of her hit songs, she also collaborated with such writers as Phil Spector, Carole Bayer Sager, and Gerry Goffin, working in many different genres (she even scored several country hits), and penning songs which would be recorded by acts as diverse as Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Gene Pitney, The Beatles, Dusty Springfield and The Monkees. Unusually for the period, much of her work had a social conscience, such as her lyrics for "Only In America", a song penned in 1963 for the black group The Drifters in which the black singer predicts rhat one day he could become president, only to have the producers re-record the song using an all-white group Jay & The Americans so as not to offend white radio listeners.
Amongst her almost 100 hits songs (many of these ending up hits for several performers) are "My Dad" (Paul Petersen), "Don't Know Much" (Aaron Neville & Linda Ronstadt), "He's Sure the Boy I Love" (The Crystals"), "Here You Come Again" (Dolly Parton), "Home of the Brave" (Bonnie and the Treasures and Jody Miller), "How Can I Tell Her It's Over" (Andy Williams), "Hungry" (Paul Revere & the Raiders), "I Just Can't Help Believing" (B. J. Thomas and Elvis Presley), "I'm Gonna Be Strong" (Gene Pitney and Cyndi Lauper), "I Will Come to You" (Hanson), "Just a Little Lovin' Early in the Morning" (Dusty Springfield, Carmen McRae, Barbra Streisand, Billy Eckstine and Bobby Vinton), Kicks" (Paul Revere & the Raiders), "Late at Night" (George Benson and Vicki Randle), "Let Me In" (Rick Derringer). "Looking Through the Eyes of Love" (Gene Pitney, Marlena Shaw and The Partridge Family), "Love is Only Sleeping" (The Monkees), "Magic Town" (The Vogues), "Make Your Own Kind of Music" (Mama Cass Elliot). "Never Gonna Let You Go" (Sérgio Mendes and Dionne Warwick), "Nobody But You" (Gladys Knight and Ruby Turner), "None of Us Are Free" (Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Solomon Burke), "On Broadway" (The Drifters, Eric Carmen, George Benson, Neil Young and Gary Numan), "Running with the Night" (Lionel Richie), "Saturday Night at the Movies" (The Drifters), "Shades of Gray" (The Monkees), "Somewhere Out There" (Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram - a double Grammy Award winner), "Sweet Survivor" (Peter, Paul, and Mary), "Uptown" (The Crystals, and Bette Midler), "Walking in the Rain" (The Ronettes and Jay and the Americans), "We Gotta Get out of This Place" (The Animals), "Where Have You Been All My Life" (Arthur Alexander, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Beatles), " Soul and Inspiration" (The Righteous Brothers and Donny & Marie Osmond), and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" co-written with Phil Spector, and radio's most-played song of the 20th Century.
In addition to her work in music, she also penned three books, including the best sellers "I'm Glad I Did", and "806".
In Beverly Hills, California, USA, on June 1, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(94), actor , singer and songwriter.
Born in Astoria, New York, George Maharis grew up with ambitions to be a pop singer, but having served in the Marine Corps following High School, he started taking acting lessons instead. These led to several roles on the New York stage, before he transitioned to film and television in 1959.
He became nationally known for his role as Buz Murdock in the popular television series "Route 66," which aired from 1960 to 1964 and featured such future stars as Martin Sheen, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall and Barbara Eden.
After he quit "Route 66" on what he claimed were health grounds, George appeared in several movies, including "Quick, Let's Get Married" (1964), "The Satan Bug" (1965), and "The Happening" (1967). However, Maharis's Hollywood career experienced a setback in the late 1960s when he was arrested for "lewd behaviour" in a men's restroom in Los Angeles, an incident which affected his future opportunities in the movie industry.
Despite this setback, Maharis continued to work in television throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including appearances in "The Most Deadly Game," "Kojak," and "Fantasy Island." However, he gradually transitioned to other endeavours (including a successful career as an impressionist painter), and retired from acting in the early 1990s.
Throughout his time in acting, George Maharis had also pursued an independent singing career. In 1961, while still working on "Route 66", he signed a contract with Epic Records, flying back to New York each weekend to record his first album. This self-titled debut was released in 1962, and included a Top 40 hit with the 1953 Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn song "Teach Me Tonight". In total, he released 15 albums, and continued to have a successful singing career in nightclubs, making frequent appearances on television variety shows into the 2000s.
In Beverly Hills, California, USA, on June 1, 2023, of hepatitis.
© Jim Liddane
(93), country songwriter and performer.
Born 1930, in Singleton, New South Wales, Australia, Joy McKean started out singing country music at the age of 14, and first came to national attention as one half of The McKean Sisters, alongside her sister Heather. In 1951, she married Slim Dusty, the iconic Australian country singer who would score an international Number 1 in 1957 with "The Pub With No Beer".
Together, they formed a formidable partnership, both professionally and personally (she acted as his manager for several decades), with the pair playing a crucial role in shaping the landscape of Australian country music.
Joy also wrote many of Slim Dusty's most famous songs, including "Lights on the Hill," "Indian Pacific,", "Walk A Country Mile", "Kelly's Offsider", "The Angel of Goulburn Hill" and "The Biggest Disappointment". These songs not only resonated with Australian audiences but also showcased the beauty and uniqueness of the Australian outback and its people.
Joy McKean's songwriting often reflected her own experiences and observations, capturing the essence of rural life and the spirit of the Australian bush. The partnership produced over 100 albums, sold eight million records in Australia alone, earning 70 gold and platinum album certifications.
In addition to her songwriting talents, Joy McKean is also a gifted performer and released several albums as a solo artist. Her distinctive voice, heartfelt lyrics, and storytelling abilities earned her a dedicated fan base and critical acclaim throughout her career.
Joy McKean's contributions to Australian country music were widely recognised. She received numerous awards and accolades, including multiple Golden Guitar Awards, the highest honour in Australian country music. In 2013, McKean was inducted into the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame for her outstanding contributions to the industry. She also founded the internationally-recognised Tamworth Country Music Festival as well as the Country Music Association of Australia and is the mother of country singer Anne Kirkpatrick.
After the death of her husband in 2003, Joy continued to be actively involved in the country music community. Her enduring legacy as a songwriter, performer, and advocate for Australian country music left an indelible mark on the genre and continued to inspire aspiring musicians and songwriters in Australia and beyond.
In Sydney, New South Wales, on May 25, 2023, of cancer.
© Jim Liddane
Isaac "Redd" Holt
(91), drummer and composer with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and Young Holt Unlimited.
Isaac "Redd" Holt was born on on May 16, 1932, in Rosedale, Mississippi but the family moved to Chicago when he was a child. He showed an early interest in music, buying his first drum kit while still attending Crane Technical High School, going on to study music at the Cosmopolitan School of Music in Chicago although at one stage he considered a career in radio, attending Kennedy-King College to study broadcasting.
Having completed military service in Germany, Isaac Holt joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1956, alongside Ramsey Lewis on piano and Eldee Young on bass. Over the next ten years, the trio recorded a large number of mainly mainstream jazz albums, but gained huge crossover popularity during the late 1960s scoring hit singles on the pop/rock charts such as "The 'In' Crowd," "Wade in the Water," "Hang On Sloopy" and "Sun Goddess" (recorded with Earth, Wind & Fire). This new direction, which combined jazz, soul, and pop elements, created a unique and accessible sound, which earned them four Gold Discs.
In 1968, Holt and Young left the Ramsey Lewis Trio to form their the Young-Holt Unlimited and were joined by Ken Chaney on keyboards. The Young-Holt Unlimited continued to blend jazz and soul influences and achieved success with their own instrumental hit "Soulful Strut," which reached the top of the pop charts in 1968 and earned the group a Gold Disc. This unit released 13 albums during its five year existence, winning several jazz awards and touring extensively.
Young-Holt Unlimited dissolved in 1974, but Holt continued to record as Redd Holt Unlimited until well into his seventies appearing at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival and at the Singapore Jazz Festival in 1989, while maintaining a weekly residency at the East Bank Club in Chicago.
In Chicago, Illinois, USA, on May 23, 2023, of undisclosed causes.
© Jim Liddane
(96), singer, actor, television personality, songwriter and member of The Ames Brothers.
Ed Ames was born Edmund Dantes Urick in Malden, Massachusetts into a family which had emigrated from Ukraine. Having graduated from High School, he joined The Amory brothers, (later to become The Ames Brothers), which featured his siblings Joe, Gene, and Vic. The group released 25 albums between 1950 and 1963, scoring 51 hit singles on Billboard, including "Rag Mop", "Sentimental Me" (both Number 1), "It Only Hurts For A Little While", "You, You, You", "Tammy", "Melodie D'Amour (Melody of Love)", "Love Me With All Your Heart", "It's Only A Paper Moon", "Washington Square" and "The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane".
The group broke up in 1963, but Edmund. who had by now adopted the name Ed Ames, had already decided to take acting lessons. His first major roles were in the 1963 off-Broadway production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", followed by the Broadway production of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", where he appeared opposite Kirk Douglas, This role (he played a Native American), led to his playing Mingo, a Cherokee, in the popular television series "Daniel Boone" starring Fess Parker. The show aired from 1964 to 1970 and helped establish Ames as a major name in the television industry.
In 1965, Ames also embarked on a solo career as a vocalist, scoring 17 chart entries, including "Try to Remember", My Cup Runneth Over", "Time, Time", "Timeless Love", "When the Snow Is On the Roses", "Think Summer" (a duet with Marilyn Maye), and his final hit in 1970 "Chippewa Town". He also recorded a version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?", which is still heard on radio each Christmas alongside Bing Crosby's original.
In addition to his acting and singing, Ames also frequently appeared as a guest on numerous variety shows and talk shows including "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", showcasing his musical talent and charismatic personality. He continued to perform in concerts and make guest appearances in television shows well into the 2000s.
In Los Angeles, California, USA, on May 21, 2023, of complications brought on by Alzheimer's Disease.
© Jim Liddane
(94), bassist and composer of movie scores.
Born in Snow Hill, Alabama, Bill Lee's parents were both professional musicians. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he married Jackie Shelton, a marriage which produced four famous children, movie director Spike, photographer David, actress Joie and filmmaker Cinqué. Soon after Spike's birth, the family moved briefly to Chicago and later to Fort Greene in New York's Brooklyn area where Bill lived the rest of his life.
In 1959, he became involved in the burgeoning folk music scene, frequently reciting his own poetry in between stage performances at clubs in Greenwich Village. He went on to work alongside such acts as Harry Belafonte, Gordon Lightfoot, Aretha Franklin, Odetta, Simon and Garfunkel, Judy Collins, Tom Rush, Burt Bacharach, Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo Guthrie, Cat Stevens, Tom Paxton, John Lee Hooker, Duke Ellington, The Clancy Brothers and Bob Dylan.
Refusing steadfastly to adopt an electric bass guitar, his virtuoso playing is the only other instrument to be heard on both Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," and Gordon Lightfoot's "Oh, Linda". He was the bassist on numerous hit albums including Simon and Garfunkel's "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.", Aretha Franklin's "Aretha" and "The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin", Peter, Paul & Mary's "The Peter, Paul And Mary Album", Gordon Lightfoot "Lightfoot!" and Judy Collins' "Golden Apples Of The Sun", "Fifth Album" and "Whales & Nightingales".
He also composed music for his son Spike Lee's early movies "She's Gotta Have It", "School Daze", "Do The Right Thing" and "Mo' Better Blues".
In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, USA, on May 24, 2023, of undisclosed causes
© Jim Liddane
(83), singer, songwriter, actress and widely referred to as the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll".
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee, and joined the Ike Turner Revue in 1957, marrying Ike Turner in 1962. Together, they created a unique blend of rock and soul music that became their signature sound.
Ike & Tina Turner quickly gained recognition for their energetic live performances and their chart-topping hits, releasing numerous successful singles including "A Fool In love," "Nutbush City Limits," the Phil Spector-produced "River Deep – Mountain High," and their rendition of "Proud Mary," which became one of their best-known songs.
Despite their musical success however, Ike and Tina Turner's personal relationship was plagued by domestic violence and turmoil and Tina Turner endured years of abuse before finally leaving Ike in 1976 and filing for divorce in 1978.
After the divorce, Tina Turner launched a solo career and experienced a significant resurgence. She released several successful albums, including "Private Dancer" (1984), which spawned the hit singles "What's Love Got to Do with It" (used as the title of the 1993 biopic based on her life), and "Private Dancer" and she continued to release chart-topping recordings throughout the 1980s and 1990s, such as "We Don't Need Another Hero," "The Best," and "Simply The Best."
Tina Turner's performances were known for her dynamic stage presence, high-energy dance routines, and powerful voice and she became one of the most prominent female rock artists of her time, earning the nickname "The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll." Her unique blend of rock, pop, soul, and R&B music captivated audiences worldwide, and during her resurgence, released ten studio albums, two live albums, two soundtracks, and five compilation albums, selling more than 100 million records worldwide.
In addition to her successful music career, Tina Turner has also ventured into acting, appearing in films like "Tommy" (1975) and "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (1985).
Although more widely known as a performer, she also penned several songs throughout her career, including the hit "Nutbush City Limits" which she co-wrote with Ike Turner.
Tina Turner retired from performing in 2009 after her "Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour," relinquishing her American citizenship and becoming a Swiss citizen in 2013.
Twelve-time Grammy Award Winner.
Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee, alongside Ike Turner.
In Küsnacht, Switzerland, on May 24, 2023, from cancer.
© Jim Liddane
Earlier 2023 Songwriter Obituaries
Obituaries Prior To 2023
ISA • International Songwriters Association (1967)
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