Rock & Roll Heaven

John Erlendson Passes Away in Toronto, Ontario

John Erlendson and son John-Michael.JPG

Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Toronto musician John Erlendson passed away on Saturday, March 7 at age 70.  Hailing from Winnipeg, he followed his jazz pianist brother Bob to Toronto and became the "hot young bass player" in the late 60s.  He went across Canada with nit singer Bobby G. Griffith ("Give My Love to Lady Canada") and Sunnyside.

In 1977 he formed the Sphere Band, which was a staple in Toronto and Ontario nightclubs.  On the side, the group did clown shows, ending up with a deal with A & M Records for the first Sphere Clown Band album, "I Can Do Anything". It rated a Juno nomination. The next album went Gold, only the 8th Canadian children's artist in history to achieve that status.  John continued to play the local jazz scene until a couple of years ago, when cancer slowed him down.

He'll be remembered for his mellifluous voice, solid bass playing, very entertaining clown character, and contributions to the jazz scene. A musical celebration is planned for Thursday, March 19th starting at 7:30 pm at Whistler's Grille & The McNeil Room in Toronto. Should you want to participate musically please contact John-Michael Erlendson at jaan.koel@primus.ca.

All are welcome to celebrate the life and love of John Murray Ross Erlendson.   

The Voice, Wit and Warmth of Don Berns Forever Remembered

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Don Berns, a radio and dj icon with the legendary voice will be heard no more. Don Berns passed away on Sunday, March 1st, 2015. He had recently posted on his Facebook page that he had just had some type of minor surgery.  Sources say he had complained on Saturday about  back and arm pains.  On Sunday, Berns was found dead in his Toronto home from an apparent heart attack.  He was in his 60s.

Berns lived in Toronto and aka ‘Dr. Trance’, most knew him as the "Godfather of Toronto's Rave Scene." He also was active in Toronto theatre and had an incredible sense of humour that he loved to share with his friends whenever he could. He loved improv, and also had a busy voice-over career well- known for his work with TSN.
 Growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, Don Berns spent time on radio in the 1970’s in Buffalo, New York. He and Jack Armstrong were the two new voices of WKBW 1520 AM.  Berns hosted mid-days while Armstrong rocked Eastern America and Canada at night.  Together, they brought new energy to WKBW.  Berns' trademark ending each day was "The Don Berns Show is a Dr. and Mrs. Berns production." Berns earned his way into the Music Director’s chair at WKBW and became very active in the live music scene, supporting and promoting local talent.

Lesley Gore Passes on from Lung Cancer

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Submitted Courtesy of Rob Durkee
Photo: Lesley Gore 1964

Lesley Gore, who has died of lung cancer, aged 68, once told an interviewer: “There’s nothing more wonderful than standing on stage and shaking your finger and singing ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’” Gore later appeared in films and TV series and was a campaigner for women’s rights.

Legendary producer Quincy Jones discovered Lesley Gore. Around February of 1963, Jones had Gore record some 200 demo tapes and one of the songs was "It's My Party." According to Wikipedia, Lesley told Quincy, "It's not bad. I like it. Let's put it on the 'maybe' pile." Two solo women singers--Barbara Jean English and Helen Shapiro--would record the song but it went nowhere.  Then producer Phil Spector heard it and had the Crystals record it. When Jones found out about it, he rush-released the Gore version to beat the Crystals to the pop chart.

How did Lesley find out about "It's My Party" being released as a single? While driving in her car and hearing it on the radio. She was so shocked to hear herself singing "It's My Party" that she almost drove her car off the road.

Joe B. Maudlin Will Not Fade Away

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Submitted by Don Graham

Bassist with the Crickets, Joe B. Maudlin, has died of cancer in Nashville,Tennessee at age 74. He passed away just days after the anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, his former boss (Februrary 3, 1959.) Mauldin, like Holly was a Lubbock, Texas, native, and took over bass duties from Larry Welborn just after the Crickets recorded their initial single, 1957′s ‘That’ll Be the Day’. Together they would release a string of hits in quick succession after ‘That’ll Be the Day’ topped the charts including ‘Oh, Boy!,’ ‘Maybe Baby,’ ‘Peggy Sue’ and ‘Rave On,’  and that was only through 1958. “It did feel like everything was happening super fast,” Mauldin later was quoted as saying.

Rod McKuen Seasons in the Sun

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Story Courtesy of The Guardian

Rod McKuen moved to Paris, where he struck up a friendship with Jacques Brel. He translated the Belgian’s great song, Ne Me Quitte Pas, which became a hit in 1966 as If You Go Away.

Rod McKuen, who has died aged 81, was, at his peak, a cultural phenomenon whose massive success as a songwriter and singer saw him become America’s most popular poet, dubbed The King of Kitsch by Newsweek magazine.

His books of poetry were found both on middle American coffee tables and in the bedrooms of adolescents, reflecting their combination of dreamy romantic loneliness and uplifting platitudes. It was no coincidence that one of McKuen’s biggest hits was the title song for the animated Peanuts film A Boy Named Charlie Brown, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. A shrewd judge of passing styles and a hardworking promoter of his own work, McKuen produced 30 collections of poems and around 200 recordings of easy-listening music that sold in the millions. But it was his songwriting, covered by artists as varied as Frank Sinatra and Madonna, Dolly Parton and Chet Baker, Johnny Cash and Barbra Streisand, that made his fortune.

McKuen was born in a charity hospital in Oakland, California; his mother had been abandoned by his father. His stepfather beat him regularly and he was sexually abused by relatives, which was even more damaging. “Physical injuries on the outside heal,” he said, “but those scars have never healed and I expect they never will.”

Drummer Dallas Taylor Gone At 66

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Submitted by Don Graham

Dallas Taylor, the original drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, has died at the age of  66. His wife, Patti McGovern-Taylor, posted the news on her Facebook page, but did not disclose the cause.

Her post read “This morning at 2:30 am I lost the love of my life Dallas W. Taylor, he came into my life almost 18 yrs ago and saved me as much as I may have saved him, To me he was just a Good Man, a Good Friend, a Good Father, a Good Grandfather, (or Pop Pop) Great

Drummer and much beloved by many. I cannot even find the words to put down to say how grateful I am for the many friends and family who have been there for both of us these many days he has spent in the hospital, especially last night. I know he is at peace. He will be missed beyond words; it is so very hard to imagine my life without him by my side, but i feel his love even as I write these words. Much Love to you all.”

Taylor was born in Denver, Colorado, and started out as a session musician in the early 1960s, soon joining the psychedelic rock band Clear Light. In 1967, he was recruited into Crosby, Stills and Nash when Stephen Stills asked Taylor to play drums on their record.Taylor performed on their breakthrough self-titled debut album, released in 1969, and their following album, Déjà Vu with new member, Neil Young, in 1970. Taylor played on Stills’ solo album and with Manassas.

R.I.P. Tim Drummond Long May You Run

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Submitted by Don Graham

Session and touring bass player Tim Drummond, who spent most of his career playing with the likes of Neil Young, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys, died on January 10th, 2015 at the age of 74. The cause of death wasn't immediately available, but no foul play or trauma was involved.

Drummond was the bass player on Neil Young's 1972 bestseller Harvest as well as its follow-up, 1992's HarvestMoo. Both were highly praised acoustic albums with the same bunch of musicians. He played on every Young studio LP between 1974's On the Beach and 1980's Hawks and Doves. He also played in various backing bands for Young: the Shocking Pinks, the Stray Gators, and the International Harvesters. Following, Harvest Moon, Young's 1993 MTV Unplugged performance was the final show of Drummond's tenure with the singer-songwriter.

The list of major artists with whom Drummond has performed is long and impressive. It includes  Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Jewel, James Brown, Conway Twitty and Crosby, Stills and Nash among the most notable. Drummond played on albums such as Jewel's Pieces of You,Dylan's Slow Train Coming and the Beach Boys' 15 Big Ones. Drummond also co-wrote Dylan's "Saved”.

Subhumans Lead Singer Brian Goble Was A Pioneer Of Vancouver Punk

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Courtesy of Tom Hawthorne of The Globe And Mail
Photo: Randy Bachman and Brian Goble 1991
Photograph by Craig Hodge

On Canada Day in 1978, anarchists organized a picnic with the promise of a free concert in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

A Canadian flag was burned in front of the stage. The police came by car, horse and motorcycle. While some punk aficionados jumped up and down on the spot in front of the stage, slack-jawed passersby stood and stared.

On the bill was a newly formed band called the Subhumans. The lead singer, Brian Goble, a somewhat quiet young man with a pointy Jughead nose and a mordant sense of humour, stripped off his shirt while barking barely decipherable lyrics into the microphone. It was the public’s first glimpse of the energetic front man.

In an age of aloof rock gods, Mr. Goble smashed the invisible wall separating artist from audience with the subtlety of a rampaging Visigoth. His manic performances – as a twitchy, jumpy singer who liked to dive off the stage into a sweaty, beery crowd – became legendary. Once, a frantic audience ripped off his clothing (an act so violent he was left bruised), before depositing the naked singer back on stage. Another time, Mr. Goble dove from the stage only to land on the concrete floor, where the unseen figure groaned curses into the microphone. The most common of those, a two-word imprecation used as a signal of angry dismissal, was also the title of one of the group’s most popular songs.

Little Jimmy Dickens Go Rest High Tater

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Submitted by Don Graham

Jimmy Dickens, the little giant of country music has passed away at age 94.

He starred on the "Grand Ole Opry," for decades and was a fixture both onstage and backstage, where his dressing room was an important stop for performers on the show. It was there that he held court for artists, old and new, for  more than a half century since his 1948 debut.

Many performers claim to have entertained right up to the end and in Jimmy’s case it was true. He last played the "Opry" on Dec. 20, a day after his 94th birthday and five days before he would be admitted to the hospital after suffering a stroke on Christmas Day. He died of cardiac arrest on January 2nd, 2015.

Dickens would often make fun of his size introducing himself with "I'm Little Jimmy Dickens, or Willie Nelson after taxes" or poke fun at his rhinestone-studded outfits with "There goes Mighty Mouse in his pajamas!” and his old-timer status by saying “Here’s my latest hit from 1965.”

Opry president and general manager Pete Fisher gave the statement  "The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens. He loved the audience and his Opry family, and all of us loved him back. He was a one-of-kind entertainer and a great soul whose spirit will live on for years to come."

Jim Galloway (July 28, 1936 – December 30, 2014)

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Submitted by Bill King

It’s only been a only few days since Jim passed away and I’m sure thousands will respond. Jim, to many of us, was the roots sound of jazz in Toronto – the guy who played six nights a week with many of the legends and icons in jazz. I had the privilege of hanging with both Pat and Jim and the late jazz photographer Paul Hoeffler as part of TD Jazz for the past 25 years. There is nothing for my partner Kristine and I like hanging backstage at the summer jazz festival and snapping photos and awaiting Jim’s arrival.

Jim came with an aroma, a very sweet aroma courtesy of his clove-laced cigarettes, one that distinguished him as a man cultured in European tradition. That brand of quality smoke was worn like a crown. I never minded. Jim also loved his cameras – the ones that caught short video clips, the ones that registered a few performance images.

You see, backstage is a social affair – a chance to really get to know someone. This we did on numerous occasions. I can’t speak as family, yet I can say this, Jim was one hell of a musician, pioneer and good hearted person. You see, laughter is a measure of a person. Jim knew how to laugh and share a good story. This I will always treasure. We’ll learn more as the weeks pass from those closest to Jim.

Eleven years ago I sat down with Jim and just talked about the festival and other things. Here’s bit of that conversation. Interview conducted March 10, 2003.

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