Rock & Roll Heaven

Leon Russell Gone at the Age of 74

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Leon Russell died on Nov. 13, 2016 in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said that he passed away in his sleep.

The Master Of Space And Time was a legendary musician and songwriter originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma who performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over 50 years.

Leon was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2011.

Leon led the famous Joe Cocker's ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ tour and performed with George Harrison and Friends at the Concert For Bangladesh. Leon has also toured with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Edgar Winter, The New Grass Revival, Willie Nelson, and Sir Elton John.

Leon Russell Master of Space and TimeLeon Russell Master of Space and TimeLeon's songwriting credits include 'A Song For You', ‘Delta Lady’, ‘Hummingbird’, ‘Lady Blue’, ‘Back To The Island’, ‘Tight Rope’, and ‘This Masquerade’.

Leonard Cohen It’s Closing Time

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Submitted by Don Graham

“I’m ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable”. Leonard Cohen said these words not long ago. The iconic singer/songwriter whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died last week at the age of 82. Leonard Cohen's record label, Sony Music Canada, confirmed his death on the singer's Facebook page with the following statement.

"It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music's most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will be held at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief."

From some perspectives it could argued that  death has  been a part of  Cohen’s writing since he began creating  poetry but perhaps more present lately as he aged.  It was probably brought more to the forefront when Cohen’s living musical contemporaries, the ones who planted the seeds for modern rock and folk music, started passing on in numbers.  Elvis Presley, who was born a year after Cohen, died young in 1977 and  earlier this year, so too did Presley’s longtime guitarist Scotty Moore. David Bowie, who released his debut the same year Cohen did, also died this year.

In July, Marianne Ihlen, who was Cohen’s lover and muse when they lived in Greece in the  60s died  at the age of 81.  She of course was the Marianne in “So Long, Marianne,”

Before she passed away, Cohen sent her a letter that  was read to her on her deathbed.

Curly Putnam Heading For The Green Green Grass of Home

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Submitted by Don Graham

Claude “Curly” Putman, has died at the age of 85. Putnam was a prolific songwriter writing or co-writing such hits as Tammy Wynette’s classic DIVORCE with Bobby Braddock and the George Jones comeback hit He Stopped Loving Her Today. But he is probably best known for the all time favourite Green, Green Grass of Home, which propelled Tom Jones to stardom

Curly was born and raised in Princeton, Alabama, on a mountain named after his family where his father worked in the sawmill where he would also work after school. He went to Southern University Junior College before spending four years in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Valley Forge.

After leaving the Navy, he played steel guitar with a band in Huntsville, Alabama, where he met his future wife, Bernice They would marry in 1956. They moved around for several years eventually settling in Huntsville where he worked in a shoe store. As a songwriter he had his first cuts from Marion Worth and Grand Ole Opry star Charlie Walker. He was transferred to a Nashville store before moving to Memphis then back to Huntsville where he played in a band at night. In 1960, he recorded "The Prison Song," a top 30 single. On a 1963 visit to Nashville, he ran into Buddy Killen, who was working for music-publishing company Tree International.who hired Putnam as a song plugger.

Rod Temperton, songwriter Behind Thriller Dies

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Courtesy of The Guardian UK
Photo: Rod Temperton with Mica Paris David M Benett Getty Images

British writer of the huge Michael Jackson hit, who also worked with Quincy Jones, Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin, has died of cancer at the age of 66.

Rod Temperton, the British songwriter behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Rock With You, has died aged 66.

Jon Platt, the chairman of music publisher Warner/Chappell said Temperton died in London last week following “a brief aggressive battle with cancer”.

“His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times,” Platt added.

Temperton, whose other credits include Boogie Nights, Off the Wall, Give Me the Night, Sweet Freedom and Always and Forever, is one of the most important songwriters and composers in contemporary pop.

Hailing from Cleethorpes, his career began in the disco group Heatwave, a band best known for Boogie Nights, and went on to write for the likes of Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, The Brothers Johnson, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones, who enlisted him to work alongside Jackson.

His compositions for the King of Pop – particularly on the Thriller album – are some of the most famous pop songs in history, and the album continues to sell more than 100,000 copies a year.

He came up with the title for the smash hit song and album Thriller, which went on to sell millions of copies worldwide.

Joan Marie Johnson Faust of the Dixie Cups Passes Away

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Submitted Courtesy of Rob Durkee/Cashbox Magazine USA

NEW ORLEANS — Joan Marie Johnson Faust, an original member and founder of the Dixie Cups, has passed away due to congestive heart failure. According to oldiesmusic.com, she was 72.

Faust was the cousin of sisters Barbara and Rosa Hawkins, who together formed the Dixie Cups. That group had one of the most memorable #1 wedding hits in 1964 with “Chapel Of Love”...(and, yes, that’s Fabian introducing them in this 1989 performance on the TV show “Let’s Rock Tonight")...

When “Chapel Of Love” replaced “Love Me Do” at #1, the Dixie Cups became the first American group to dethrone and replace the Beatles at #1. The Fab Four had been at #1 with "Love Me Do.” The Dixie Cups also had Top 40 hits with “People Say,” ”Iko Iko” and “You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me."

For more on the Dixie Cups...

http://www.wwltv.com/news/local/joan-marie-johnson-faust-founding-member...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dixie_Cups

Jean Shepard Joins the Heavenly Opry Choir

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Submitted by Don Graham

Country legend Jean Shepard has passed away at the age of 82. Shepard's first chart appearance was in 1953 as a duet partner with Ferlin Husky on "A Dear John Letter" and its sequel, "Forgive Me John." Shepard and Husky toured the country following their hit singles. In 1955, she had her first solo Top Ten single, "A Satisfied Mind," which was backed by the number 13 hit "Take Possession." Later in the year, she had another Top Ten hit with "Beautiful Lies"/"I Thought of You." Her streak of hit singles led to an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1956. That same year, she joined Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee and recorded Songs of a Love Affair, arguably the first concept album in country music history. Its 12 songs depict a marriage torn apart by a love affair. 

For nearly ten years after the release of "Beautiful Lies,"

Shepard wasn't able to get a song into the Top Ten. In fact, she had only two Top 40 hits during that period -- "I Want to Go Where No One Knows Me" (#18, 1958) and "Have Heart, Will Love" (#30, 1959). She continued to record and tour -- she was even named the Top Female Singer of 1959 by CashBox -- but nothing was breaking through to the record-buying public. This was primarily because she was a hardcore honky tonk singer in a time that country-pop was ruling the charts. In 1963, her husband Hawkshaw Hawkins died in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline. The following year, she returned to the Top Ten with "Second Fiddle (To an Old Guitar)." The song began a string of hits for Shepard.

Guy Clark: Heartbroke

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Submitted by Don Graham

The music world has lost another giant and a personal favourite of mine, singer/songwriter/luthier Guy Clark. Guy Clark was a songwriter’s songwriter, simple country chords and melodies but lyrics that escaped all labels except for damn fine. Guy Charles Clark a Texas native who migrated to Nashville in 1971 marched to his own drummer .

Probably the best-known of Clark's numerous great works is "Desperados Waiting For a Train," made  popular by Jerry Jeff Walker in the 1970s and The Highwaymen in the 1980s. The song showcased Clark's narrative gifts, telling about an old man's life as seen through the eyes of his young companion.

Clark was born in Monahans, Texas where his grandmother ran a boarding house, and moved to Rockport on the Gulf Coast, where his father had his own law practice.
He worked summers in Rockport at the shipyard and didn’t start playing guitar until he was well into his teens. Clark moved to Houston in the 1960s, working various jobs during the day, including a time as art director for a couple of local T.V. stations..

At night he hit the coffeehouse/folk scene that was populated with folks like Townes Van Zandt and Mickey Newbury.

Clark hadn't made a record but his songs caught the ear of Jerry Jeff Walker, another singer-songwriter who would soon become one of Clark's earliest supporters.

Don Francks (1932 – 2016) Hanging with the Jazz Don!

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Submitted by Bill King

I used to bust Don’s chops and remind him – he danced with Fred Astaire. I’d play YouTube clips from Finian's Rainbow just to watch Francks dance and sing, “How Are Things in Glocca Morra,” then say – you can retire now – you were it; so hip and handsome and there you are in Panavision.

I met Francks in a waiting room at Mt. Sinai Hospital October 1972 – my partner Kristine was just steps and moments away from pushing big life outward - son Jesse. Francks was dressed in First Nation colors and sporting a big smile. We sat and chatted and began talking music. He was a jazz guy – be-bop hipster who spoke like a landlocked Greenpeace activist. Save the planet – save the children and play jazz flute.

I brought a notebook to record that very special moment. He asked to borrow it – removed a few colored felt pens and began drawing - then inscribed something about long-life and earth wishes for young Jesse. I was walking a fine line between hippie and indecision – never considering I’d crossed over, yet still looking the part and a bit suspect.

Through the years we’d occasionally cross paths – then late 1980’s Don called and tells me how much he likes the Jazz Report Magazine, at the time a jazz newsletter and could he contribute. He lent us photos from his hot jazz days, recalled bandstand episodes; addressed the record industry in not so complimentary words and sang the praises of the forgotten art of “hippterisim.”

The Magic of George Martin

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Submitted by Pat Blythe

The news spread rapid fire. On March 8, 2016 "we" had lost another one. Announced by a "tweet" from Ringo Starr. (The word "tweet" makes it sounds almost insignificant, even trivial) However, there is nothing insignificant about Sir George Martin, or his passing....quietly, at home, in his sleep. Survived by Judy, his second wife of almost 50 years, and a proud father to four children, Alexis, Gregory, Lucie and Giles.

A private man. A distinguished man. A learned man. A man of many quiet talents who has left us a legacy of beautiful songs and exquisite moments. A man who "heard" what we did not.

A giant in the world of music, Sir George Martin towered above everyone. A note, a nuance, a sound....from sheer simplicity to the most complex, he worked his magic not only for the Beatles, but for countless others including Kate Bush, Robin Gibb, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Peter Sellers, Shirley Bassey, Sophia Loren, Elton John... The list is endless. Numerous titles follow his name....producer, musician (oboe and piano), arranger, conductor, composer. I'll include "magician".

Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire Gone at 74

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Submitted by Michael Williams

Maurice White (December 19, 1941 – February 4, 2016) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger and bandleader. He was the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. He was also the older brother of current Earth, Wind & Fire member Verdine White, and former member Fred White.

To say Maurice White and Earth, Wind and Fire ruled the soundtrack of my life is nothing compared to Maurice White’s musical influence on the world!

Maurice and I met on the EWF “Touch the World Tour” in Buffalo, NY, the performance was amazing, the interview was like going to heaven, church and school all at the same time.

I have always been a fan from the beginning, so my words fail me to write a eulogy for a man who changed the way we heard, thought about and celebrated with and made music.

Maurice gave us music as medicine, uplifting the spirit and soul in the process.

I never knew Maurice White,but I knew his friends, songwriters and Canadian Collaborators, William D. Smith of Motherload who composed “I need you” for his solo record and David Foster “After the love is gone”, In the Stone and basically joined the band.

I defer to David Foster who says it so much better than I, please watch this clip, as he describes Maurice White and what he meant to him…and all of us.

Remember Maurice White as one of the greatest American musicians ever!

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