Rock & Roll Heaven

Joe South Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home?

Joe South.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

Someone asked me just the other day “Who’s your favourite songwriter? Who inspired you as a writer?” Without hesitation I said “Joe South!” And now, few days later came the news that he has passed on. He died at his home in Flowery Branch, Ga., Wednesday morning (Sept 5). He was 72.

In 1958, he recorded his debut single, a novelty tune called “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor.” In 1959, South wrote a couple of songs which were recorded by rocker Gene Vincent  "I Might Have Known" and "Gone Gone Gone".

Aside from being a prolific songwriter, South was also a prominent sessionman, playing guitar on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools", Tommy Roe's "Sheila", Marty Robbins sessions and Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album. Some list South on the electric guitar part that was added to Simon & Garfunkel's first hit "The Sounds of Silence" although others credit Al Gorgoni and/or Vinnie Bell instead.

R.I.P. John Stockfish Sundown, You Better Take Care

John Stockfish.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

The original bass player for Gordon Lightfoot, who with guitarist Red Shea formed the back up band for the legendary Lightfoot, passed away on Monday, August 20th, 2012 of natural causes. He was 69.

A self-taught musician who also trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music, John began his musical life touring extensively throughout Europe and North America as the bassist for Tommy Danton and the Echoes.

For a few years in the early 60s, he performed as part of the band on the daily CBC Music Hop show hosted by Alex Trebec, and the CTV television music show After Four, backing up the stars of the day like Bobby Curtola. 

The highest profile part of his musical career began in 1965 as the bassist for Gordon Lightfoot during the successful United Artists years. John was an integral of the Lightfoot sound during the concert tours and recording sessions, Many times we saw the trio and small coffee houses in Montreal, so close and personal and an amazing sound.

John’s bass line for Sundown Lightfoot’s big record that peaked at number one in 1974 was a big part of the records success and sonic quality. 

In 1969, John moved to New York where he lived, recorded, and performed with the late Jim Croce. This included appearances on both the Mike Douglas Show and the Today Show at the beginning of Croce's career.

Scott McKenzie Passes Away, May he find some “gentle people there”

Scott McKenzie

Submitted by Don Graham

Scott McKenzie of whom producer Lou Adler once said “ He sings like an angel. Scott McKenzie has one of the most beautiful voices to ever have a rock ‘n’ roll hit”  has died at age 73 in Los Angeles, California. He is perhaps best known for his 1967 hit single "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)." “San Francisco” was written by John Phillips, the leader of the 1960’s group The Mamas and the Papas. But McKenzie sang it and it has stood as an anthem for the 1960s flower power movement for decades.

Phillips and McKenzie, along with Dick Weisman, formed The Journeymen in 60’s, which Phillips left to form the Mama and Papas. McKenzie was originally pegged to be a Papa but declined to pursue a solo career. That cleared the way for Nova Scotian Denny Doherty to join. McKenzie would later replace Doherty in a 90’s version of the group.

Canadian guitarist Bob Cohen of Montreal worked with a version of that band that included Scott McKenzie and remarked what a nice guy he was and said of the signature song “San Francisco”, ” We all know what that song meant to our generation and for years I played it in bars with different singers. The first time Scott McKenzie opened his mouth to sing it while I was on stage with him, the feeling was indescribable.  No one but him could do that song justice.”

Bob Birch, Elton John’s Bass Player Dead at 56

bob-birch-elton-john.jpg

Bob Birch, a bassist who played with Elton John for 20 years, was found dead this morning of an apparent suicide. The 56-year-old died of what police believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

 Reports that Birch's body was found around the corner from his home in Los Angeles with a single bullet wound in his head. Elton John's website confirmed the news with a statement: "We are very sad to report the sudden death today of Bob Birch, Elton's bass player and backing vocalist, in Los Angeles. Bob had been a member of the Elton John band since 1992, the longest-serving bassist in Elton's touring band."

In addition to Sir Elton, the longtime sideman performed and recorded with  a seemingly endless list of star musicians, including Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Cher, Tina Turner, Sting and the Backstreet Boys. Among his many credits with John, he performed on "Candle in the Wind 97," the tribute song to Princess Diana.

He is survived by his wife, Michelle, and son, Jonathan.

Marvin Hamlisch: Nobody Did it Better

Google Image Result for http--cdn.bimfs_.com-WFAA-8fa1ef4e2afce525afc3671e48d83debbb5cb78b.jpg.jpg

Award winning composer Marvin Hamlisch has passed away at the age 68 . He lived in New York but died in Los Angeles, California on Monday August 6th after a brief illness.  Hamlisch was best know for his theatre work but also spent a lot of time on the pop charts. His composition of “Sunshine, Lollipops and Roses”, a huge hit for Leslie Gore in the 60’s and Barbara Streisand’s  “The Way We Were” became a classic love song. “The Way We Were” also won the composer an Oscar. He is one of eleven people to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony and one of two to win all three as well as  a  Pulitzer Prize.

Mr. Hamlisch had a long association with Barbara Streisand that began when, at 19, he became a rehearsal pianist for her show “Funny Girl.” He told Current Biography in 1976 that Ms. Streisand was reluctant to record what became the pair’s greatest collaboration, “The Way We Were.” “I had to beg her to sing it,” he said. “She thought it was too simple.” Mr. Hamlisch prevailed, though, and the song became a  # 1 pop single, an Oscar winner and a signature song for Ms. Streisand. They continued to work together across the decades. Mr.Hamlisch was the musical director for her 1994 tour and again found himself accepting an award for his work, this time an Emmy.

Larry Hoppen Lead Singer of Orleans Dies

Larry Hoppen.jpg

Larry Hoppen, “the voice” of 70’s group Orleans has passed away at the age of 61. The Woodstock, New York band’s biggest song was “Still The One” which, with hits like “Dance With Me’ and ‘Love Takes Time”, cemented the band Orleans place in the history of music in the 70’s.

Hoppen formed Orleans in 1972, with John Hall and Wells Kelly. Hoppen's brother Lance and Jerry Marotta would later join the group, creating the classic-period quintet that released the 1976 album "Waking and Dreaming."

The band charted three top-20 singles in its lifetime, during which Larry Hoppen, vocalist and guitarist, was always a member. This year the band was celebrating 40 years in the business with concerts in New York and Pennsylvania scheduled for July 27 and July 28. These dates have been cancelled but shows for later in the year will go on as scheduled in Hoppen’s “honour.”

In a posting on Hoppen’s official Facebook page, his wife, Patricia Smith Hoppen, wrote: “For those who don’t already know, Larry passed away yesterday. ... For his fans, I am deeply sorry for YOUR loss. I know he will be missed. I will (ask) that my family’s privacy be respected during this horrible time.”

The posting did not cite a cause of death.

Deep Purple Founder Jon Lord Dies at Age 71

Deep Purple founder Jon Lord dies at age 71 (Photo Credit Getty.jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Another page is turned in the story of rock n roll history as we bid goodbye to yet another 60’s icon; Jon Lord, Deep Purple's co-founder and former keyboard player, has died at age 71.

A BBC Report says that Lord had been in treatment for pancreatic cancer since last August. A statement said he died at the London Clinic on Monday July 16 2012, surrounded by his family.

Lord co-founded Deep Purple in 1968 and co-wrote many of the band's songs, including "Smoke On The Water." He played with the metal pioneers until they split in 1976, and again from 1984–2002. Lord played with other bands and musicians throughout his career, including The Artwoods, Whitesnake and Paice as well as Ashton & Lord.


Born in Leicester, England on June 9, 1941, Jon Lord began playing piano at an early age, taking classical music lessons. He received a scholarship to drama school in London at the age of 19, and started his London band career in 1960 with jazz ensemble the Bill Ashton Combo.

Lord also had a career as a composer and has composed various concertos that have been performed by Deep Purple and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Deep Purple recorded six studio albums and have sold over 150 million units.

Kitty Wells Another Angel Goes Home

Kitty Wells.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

The first queen of country music Kitty Wells has gone home. Miss Wells passed away July 16, 2012 at her home in Nashville at age of 92. She surrounded by family and friends.

Her 1952 breakthrough hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” catapulted her to fame and paved the way for future female country singers. At that time in country music, female singers weren’t accepted as main stage entertainers and were given a small role as a “guest” and then left the stage to let the male singers carry on with the show. Kitty Wells changed all that and paved the way for Loretta Lynn to break through as a major female country music star.  It’s safe to say that without the pioneering of Kitty Wells the careers of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Reba, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Michelle Wright and right up to Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert would not have been.

“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”  was the answer song to Hank Thompson’s “ Wild Side of Life”. Wells wasn’t sure about the song but took the offer to record it Owen Bradley’s studio because of the $125 union scale recording payment. "I wasn't expecting to make a hit," said Wells later. " I just thought it was another song."

In 1976, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame .Wells became the second female country singer to be elected with Patsy Cline being the first to be honoured as a solo act in 1973. In 1991, Wells was presented a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Legendary Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbitt Dies of Cancer

Bob Babbitt and the Funk Brothers.jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

If his name doesn’t seem familiar to you, the thumping bass of dozens of Motown hits was his calling card, putting the funk into the Funk Brothers sound. As a member of the un-credited backing band at Motown Studios from 1966-1972, Bob Babbitt was on numerous hits including Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours), Edwin Starr’s ‘War’, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’  ‘Tears of A Clown’ and ‘Just My Imagination’ (Running Away With Me) by the Temptations, Marvin Gaye's Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), Edwin Starr's War, Gladys Knight & The Pips' Midnight Train To Georgia and The Capitols' Cool Jerk to name a few tunes.

Babbit was born Robert Kreinar in Pittsburgh in 1937. He got his start playing in nightclubs in his hometown, then finally cutting his first Top Ten hit ‘Flamingo Express’ with the Royaltones in 1961. He caught the ear of the legendary Del Shannon, and became his tour mate which led him to finally land in Detroit City.

Legendary Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbitt Dies of Cancer

Bob Babbitt and the Funk Brothers.jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

If his name doesn’t seem familiar to you, the thumping bass of dozens of Motown hits was his calling card, putting the funk into the Funk Brothers sound. As a member of the un-credited backing band at Motown Studios from 1966-1972, Bob Babbitt was on numerous hits including Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours), Edwin Starr’s ‘War’, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’  ‘Tears of A Clown’ and ‘Just My Imagination’ (Running Away With Me) by the Temptations, Marvin Gaye's Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), Edwin Starr's War, Gladys Knight & The Pips' Midnight Train To Georgia and The Capitols' Cool Jerk to name a few tunes.

Babbit was born Robert Kreinar in Pittsburgh in 1937. He got his start playing in nightclubs in his hometown, then finally cutting his first Top Ten hit ‘Flamingo Express’ with the Royaltones in 1961. He caught the ear of the legendary Del Shannon, and became his tour mate which led him to finally land in Detroit City.

Syndicate content