Rock & Roll Heaven

Ten Years After's Alvin Lee dies at 68

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

A statement posted on his official website read: "With great sadness we have to announce that Alvin unexpectedly passed away early this morning after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure. We have lost a wonderful and much loved father and companion, the world has lost a truly great and gifted musician."

Ten Years After is an English blues-rock band, most popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Between 1968 and 1973, Ten Years After scored eight Top 40 albums on the UK Albums Chart. In addition they have had twelve albums enter the US Cashbox Charts, and are best known for their tracks "I'm Going Home", "Hear Me Calling", "I'd Love to Change the World" and "Love Like a Man".

Lee, whose musical career began in the early sixties, was launched to international stardom after an incendiary performance at Woodstock, which showcased his mastery of blues-rock guitar and turned his sticker-plastered "Big Red" Gibson ES-335 into an icon of the festival.

Bobby Rogers of The Miracles Dead at 73

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

There are categories we all know in the music world: rock, pop, country and then the word Motown that stands out on its own. As a vocalist, songwriter and choreographer, The Miracles’ Bobby Rogers was the Motown spirit. Rogers was preceded in death by founding Miracle Ronnie White, who died in 1995.

Rogers was a well-decorated figure with the group: inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, honoured with a Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, memorialized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as living through many incarnations of the back-up band of Smokey Robinson.

“He had the sparkling personality that was loved by everyone,” said the Miracles’ Claudette Robinson, a first cousin of Rogers. “People always commented on the tall one with the glasses. He was personable, approachable and he loved talking to the women, loved talking to the guys, loved to dance, loved to sing, loved to perform. That was the joy of his life. That upbeat spirit is captured among the array of voices on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” with Rogers heard early on uttering, “It's just a groovy party, man, I can dig it.”

“If people want to remember him, they should put that record on and listen to Bobby,” said the Supremes’ Mary Wilson. “That’s who he was. When he walked out on stage, he walked out with a zest, even though he had his walker,” she recalled. “He walked out in time (to the music), and he was just great. He still loved what he did.”

Mindy McCready Goes Home To Her Ten Thousand Angels

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Submitted by Don Graham

Troubled country singer Mindy McCready has died of an apparent suicide at her home in Heber Falls, Arkansas at the age of 37.  McCready hit the top of the charts in 1996 with her sassy anti chauvinist song ‘Guys Do It All The Time’. She also had a hit with ‘Ten Thousand Angels’ that same year and the album of the same name sold a whopping 2 million copies. In 2004 she was charged with obtaining the pain Oxycontin fraudulently, a charge which she pled guilty to and received three years probation.  In May 2005 she violated that probation when she was arrested for drunken driving. Then came an attempted suicide in July, 2005, overdosed in September of that year and slit her wrists in December 2008.That was also the year she was charged in Arizona with hindering prosecution and unlawful use of transportation. Those charges stemmed from an alleged attempt in June 2005 to purchase two
high performance boats, but she claimed she was trying to stop a con man. She also made several trips to rehab and appeared on the VH1 reality show "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" in 2010. As a side note she is the fifth celeb to die after appearing on that show. There was Joey Kovar who died of an overdose in 2012, as did former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr in 2011. Also Taxi’s Jeff Conaway and Rodney King.

Danny Windsor is Finally Over the Rainbow

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

I met Danny Windsor in the late 1990’s at La Cage Aux Folles Dinner Theatre, run by Guenther Weswaldi and Bill Delingat. He had a charming smile and a charismatic personality that had obviously worked for him in his Hollywood days. Even after he stopped performing in the Toronto theatre, he was a steadfast friend of La Cage and would always come to visit and strut his stuff. Danny Windsor stayed as a life-long friend of La Cage Producer Guenther Weswaldi, as well as Jeff Dawson aka Joan Rivers and will be missed by many.

Bill Delingat was manager at La Cage during the early days and had this to say, ‘Danny did it all from a young hair covered flying dognapping primate to, vaudeville, and world stages. He found his groove as Disco Dolly in our production of an Evening at La Cage” where his Carol Burnett style “Cleaning lady” character mesmerized audiences with his unique camp humor , gender bending and tongue in cheek wit. I always loved to see the expressions on the faces of the appreciative audiences as he closed the show with Debbie Boones “You Light Up my Life” reaching into his hand bag as the lights dimmed to pull out a glowing Vibrator .The silence turned into gasps, laughter and a standing ovation as he did his skirt hiking curtsey to leave the stage. That light will forever shine as Danny moves on to another curtain call.’

Rick Huxley Of the Dave Clark 5 Passes On

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Rick Huxley, the bass player and co-founding member of the 60’s pop group The Dave Clark 5, has passed away. He was 72.

Huxley was a heavy smoker, and had battled emphysema for years. Dave Clark, the leader of the band, said Huxley had recently been given a clean bill of health. Clark said Huxley's death "devastating. We spoke weekly,” Clark said. "I spoke to Rick on Friday, he was in great spirits."

Formed in 1958, The Dave Clark Five were a big part of the British Invasion movement that brought the Beatles to America in the Sixties. They were in fact, the next British group to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, just two weeks after The Beatles in February 1964. Their "Glad All Over" knocked "I Want to Hold Your Hand" out of the top spot on the U.K. singles chart a month earlier. They had several hit singles, "Bits and Pieces" and "Everybody Knows." The Dave Clark Five were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Dave Clark Five lead singer Mike Smith died of pneumonia Thursday, less than two weeks before the band was  inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was 64.

"Rick was a dear friend and an immensely talented musician with an amazing sense of humor, he always made me smile," said Clark.

Huxley was born in the British town of Dartford in Kent, and remained in the Dave Clark Five until the group split in 1970. He then pursued a career in real estate and the music business.

Reg Presley The Troggs Lead Singer Dead at 71

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Rock star Reg Presley, lead singer of The Troggs on hit songs including the garage-rock classic “Wild Thing,” has died. He was 71.

The Troggs formed in 1964 and were signed by Larry Page, manager of the Kinks, in 1965. They recorded on Page's Page One Records, and Page also leased them to CBS for debut single "Lost Girl". Their most famous hit was the single "Wild Thing" (written by Chip Taylor) (the song on the b-side of the single depended on the country where it was sold), which with the help of television exposure on Thank Your Lucky Stars reached number 2 in the UK and number 1 in the United States in July 1966. Its combination of a simple heavy guitar riff and flirtatious lyrics helped it to quickly become a garage rock standard. It was recorded in one complete take (take two) at Olympic Studios in London, with Keith Grant engineering. Because of a dispute over US distribution rights, "Wild Thing" was released (along with the first album of the same name) on two labels: Fontana and Atco.The band's success in the US was also limited by not touring there until 1968.

Patti Page Turn the Page and Close the Book

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Submitted by Don Graham

Iconic American singer Patti Page has passed away at age 85. She was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s, and sold over 100 million records in her lifetime. Born Clara Ann Fowler in Claremore Oklahoma in November of 1927 she changed her name to Patti Page and made her first record in 1948 "Confess". In 1950, she had her first million-selling single "With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming", and would eventually have 14 additional million-selling singles between 1950 and 1965.

Page's signature song, "Tennessee Waltz", recorded in 1950, was one of the biggest selling singles of the time. "Tennessee Waltz" spent 13 weeks atop the charts in 1950. Page had three additional  # 1 hit singles between 1950 and 1953, with "All My Love (Bolero)", "I Went to Your Wedding", and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window". Her Oklahoma background may have been responsible for Page blending a little of the country style into many of her most popular songs. By doing this, many of Page's singles were successful in the country market. Page continued to have major hits into the mid-1960s with "Old Cape Cod", "Allegheny Moon", "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)", and "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte".

In the 1970s, Page focused her career towards country music, and she began charting on the country charts, up until 1982. Page was one of the few vocalists to have made the country charts in five separate decades.

Fontella Bass of Rescue Me Fame Passes On

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Fontela Bass was born into a family with deep musical roots. Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers. Her younger brother, David Peaston, had a string of R&B hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Peaston died in February at age 54.

Fontella Bass was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and at early age Fontella showed great musical talent – at five years old she was providing the piano accompaniment for her grandmother's singing at funeral services, she was singing in her church's choir at six years old and by the time she was nine she was accompanying her mother on tours throughout the American South and Southwest.

Passages of 2012

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By Don Graham

It’s that time of year again when we take stock of all the folks in the music industry who left us in the past 12 months. We make note of their passing at the time it happens, say our condolences, write our obits and remember them fondly. But it seems it’s only when we look at the year’s end list that we realize the volume of names that appear there.  This year was no different. We lost some great folks in 2012 and the heavens are rockin’ with the sound of music.

This year, the world’s oldest teenager, Dick Clark entered Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven and what a lineup he has to work with from this years entrants.

The incredible Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and Etta James joined the choir along with Robin Gibb, Monkee Davy Jones, Andy Williams, Major Harris of the Delfonics , Orleans lead singer Larry Hoppen, Donna Summer and Kathi Macdonald. Dave Brubeck will jam with British guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and Ravi Shankar and the Band’s Levon Helm, along with Duck Dunn or Funk Brother Bob Babbitt will be laying down the bass line. If they take a break John Stockfish ,Lightfoot’s bassman or  Bob Birch , bassist of Elton John fame can fill in with Crowded House drummer Peter Jones and Herb Reed of the Platters adding his velvet voice as will Earl “Speedo” Carroll. Just recently Mexican superstar Jenni Rivera was called home. She was there to greet 'Rescue Me' Fontella Bass as she crossed over at the last minute.

Ravi Shankar Dies at 92

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Submitted by Don Graham

Ravi Shankar, musician, composer and India’s best-known contemporary musician passed away this week in San Diego California. These days, Shankar is perhaps best known as the father of singing star Norah Jones but in the 1960’s, he was responsible for bringing Eastern music to the West through his relationship with the Beatles and George Harrison. He brought the mystical sound to the Liverpool band’s Sgt. Pepper album with Harrison playing a sitar on “Within You, Without You. “ Stunning performances at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock Festival  in 1969 cemented Shankar's place in Western musical history and allowed him to become an ambassador of Eastern wisdom to a generation that was searching for new values. Brian Jones used a sitar on the Rolling Stones classic “Paint It Black.”

The sitar is a remarkable instrument, intricately made and has a unique and ethereal sound. I actually saw one in the 60’s when guitar player and producer Bill Hill of Chestnut Tree Productions acquired one in a swap with a fan. “ I was playing  with a Fender Showman with 2 15” JBL speakers when a fan came to me and asked if I wanted to buy a sitar. His dad was in the merchant navy and had brought it back from India. I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy it but he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered me the sitar for one of my 15” JBLs. At the the end of the gig I extracted the speaker and made the trade. Beautiful instrument, real ivory, gorgeous wood and ambient sound.”

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