Rock & Roll Heaven

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.

Joe Cocker Gone at 70

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Credit Source: The Guardian and Billboard

In a musical career lasting more than 50 years, Joe Cocker, who has died of lung cancer aged 70, bounced between the euphoria of chart-topping success and the misery of drug and alcohol abuse. In the latter part of his life, the singer had re-established himself as a soulful interpreter of material from a broad range of songwriters.

Cocker’s background and upbringing in Sheffield, where he was born, son of Harold and Marjorie, established his credentials as a ballsy, salt-of-the-earth performer cut from stalwart working-class stock. At first it seemed as if the young Joe was destined for an unglamorous future working as a fitter for the East Midlands Gas Board. As his mother commented: “When Joe left school at 16, I thought he was going to take up gas fitting as a career. I even got him a lot of books on the subject, and he was interested in gas for a time, but there was always the music. He told me he didn’t want a job where he worked for years and years and then got presented with a gold watch at the end.”

Dawn Sears A Great Voice Silenced

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Submitted by Don Graham

One of the finest voices to grace Nashville and country music has passed away from lung cancer at age 53.

Dawn Sears was a member of Nashville's Grammy-nominated western swing group The Time Jumpers, as well as a background singer in Vince Gill's touring band. Mrs. Sears was battling lung cancer and on November 30, she put on  a benefit concert in Gallatin, Tennessee for cancer research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. The event was headlined by Reba McEntire.

"Every time I turn around somebody I know has cancer of some kind, and I just got tired of hearing it," Mrs. Sears said last month, "This is my way of fighting back."

Dawn was a longtime member of The Time Jumpers and since 1999, has been seen onstage in Nashville with the group nearly every Monday night of the year, starting with a 13-year residency at The Station Inn, then moving to 3rd &Lindsley in 2012.)." Her  audiences often included  country music notables. Larry Gatlin said he was very impressed  the first time he heard Dawn sing "Sweet Memories," with a voice that was "a cross between Patsy Cline and Barbra Streisand and Sarah Vaughan."

She continued to perform until June of 2014, and was still mesmerizing  the room with renditions of Hank Cochran's "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" and Vern Gosdin's "If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right)."

Bob Montgomery A Legend Passes On

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Submitted by Don Graham

Publisher, record producer and singer/songwriter Bob Montgomery has passed away at the age 77. Born in Lampassas,Texas in 1937, Montgomery was the original songwriting partner of Buddy Holly and the second half of the duo Buddy and Bob. Montgomery met Holly while they attended Hutchinson Junior High School in Lubbock, Texas.

Montgomery was the lead singer while Holly sang the harmony parts. They  had a weekly Sunday radio show on station KDAV and in  1955, Bill Haley did a concert at the Fair Park Auditorium which also featured Montgomery and Holly.

Montgomery co-wrote some of Holly's songs, such as "Heartbeat", "Wishing", and "Love's Made a Fool of You".

He was instrumental as a publisher in the discovery of some of the great songs while working on Music Row back in the day, when Nashville was a vibrant bustle of creativity. Bob was a big believer in the song being the star; once he had a song he believed in he would walk up and down the Row pushing the song to the folks who made it happen. “Wind Beneath My Wings” was one of the tunes that managed to see the light of day becoming a hit because of Bob Montgomery.

Montgomery also wrote Patsy Cline’s “Back In Baby’s Arms” which his son Kevin recorded on his  “True” album. Bob also wrote the classic “Misty Blue”, the Dorothy Moore hit single that was covered by over 200 artists. He also produced all of Bobby Goldsboro’s hits, including the 1968 #1 “Honey”.

Ian McLagan of Small Faces Passes Away

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Submitted Courtesy of BBC

Ian McLagan, keyboard player for the Small Faces and the Faces, has died aged 69, due to complications from a stroke suffered earlier this week.

"It is with great sadness and eternal admiration that we report the passing of [a] rock and roll icon," read a statement on his official website. McLagan, known as Mac, played on such memorable Small Faces tracks as Lazy Sunday and Itchycoo Park in the 1960s. The band became the Faces when Rod Stewart and Ron Wood joined in 1969. McLagan went on to record and perform with the Rolling Stones and also worked with Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

The Hounslow-born musician was about to embark on a North American tour, supporting label mate Nick Lowe, at the time of his death in his adopted home town of Austin, Texas.

"I am completely devastated by this shocking news and I know this goes for Ronnie and Rod as well," said Small Faces and Faces member Kenney Jones.
Steward added: "I'm absolutely devastated. Ian McLagan embodied the true spirit of the Faces.

"Last night I was at a charity do, Mick Hucknall was singing I'd Rather Go Blind, and Ron Wood texted to say Ian had passed. It was as if his spirit was in the room. I'll miss you mate."

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