The heart-tugging story of Eva Cassidy reads almost like the plot of a Movie of the Week tearjerker. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, the painfully shy Cassidy earned a local reputation as a masterful interpreter of standards from virtually any genre, blessed with technical agility and a searching passion that cut straight to the emotional core of her material. Despite the evocative instrument that was Cassidy's voice, record companies shied away from her, unsure of how to market her eclectic repertoire; for her part, Cassidy adamantly refused to allow herself to be pigeonholed, prizing the music above any potential fame.
In 1996, just when she had begun to record more frequently on a small, local basis, Cassidy was diagnosed with cancer, which had already spread throughout her body and rapidly claimed her life. But her story didn't end there; her music was posthumously championed by a BBC disc jockey, and amazingly, the anthology Songbird became a number one million-selling smash in England.
Cassidy was born February 2, 1963, in Oxon Hill, MD, and grew up (from age nine on) in Bowie, MD. She loved music from an early age, particularly folk and jazz (as a girl, her favorite singer was Buffy Sainte-Marie), and learned guitar from her father Hugh. At one point, Hugh put together a family folk act featuring himself on bass, Eva on guitar and vocals, and her brother Danny on fiddle; Eva and Danny also played country music at a local amusement park, but Eva's sensitivity eventually made performances too difficult on her. Something of a loner during her teens, Cassidy sang with a pop/rock band called Stonehenge while in high school. After graduating, she studied art for a short time, but soon grew dissatisfied with what she was being taught, and dropped out to work at a plant nursery.
She sang occasional backing vocals for friends' rock bands around Bowie and Annapolis, but was never comfortable trying to overpower the amplification. In 1986, longtime friend Dave Lourim persuaded Cassidy to lay down some vocals at a recording session for his soft pop/rock group Method Actor. (The results were eventually reissued in 2002.) At the studio, Cassidy met D.C.-area producer Chris Biondo, who was immediately struck by her voice and agreed to help her put together a demo tape she hoped would get her more backup-singing work.
Cassidy became a regular presence at Biondo's studio, where he recorded a wide variety of music; incongruously enough, Cassidy performed backing vocals on D.C. go-go funksters E.U.'s Livin' Large album (singing all of her own harmony parts to give the illusion of a choir) and, later, on gangsta rapper E-40's "I Wanna Thank You." At Biondo's urging, Cassidy formed a backing band to play local clubs, where her singing began to win a following in spite of her discomfort. In 1991, Biondo played Cassidy's demos for Chuck Brown, the originator of D.C.'s swinging go-go funk sound (which never really broke out to a national audience). Brown had been wanting to record an album of jazz and blues standards, and found his ideal duet partner in the sophisticated yet soulful Cassidy.
Their collaborative album, The Other Side, was released in late 1992, and in 1993, the two began performing around the D.C. area together; helped by Brown's outgoing showmanship, Cassidy finally began to lose some of the insecurity and intense fear that usually kept her away from live performance. Several record labels showed interest in signing Cassidy, but her recorded submissions always covered too much ground -- folk, jazz, blues, gospel, R&B, pop/rock -- for the marketing departments' taste (or limited imaginations), and the labels always wound up passing.
In September 1993, Cassidy had a malignant mole removed from below her neck, and neglected her subsequent checkup appointments. Shortly thereafter, she broke up with Biondo, who'd been her boyfriend for several years; however, they did continue their professional relationship. In early 1994, the Blue Note label showed some interest in teaming Cassidy with a jazz-pop outfit from Philadelphia called Pieces of a Dream; they recorded the single "Goodbye Manhattan" together, and Cassidy toured with them that summer, but didn't really care for their style. She returned to D.C. and began playing more gigs on her own, though she still made the occasional appearance with Brown; at the end of the year, she won a local music award for traditional jazz vocals.
Cassidy remained unable to secure a record deal, and Biondo and her frustrated manager decided to put out an album themselves. In January 1996, Cassidy played two gigs at the D.C. club Blues Alley; despite her dissatisfaction with the quality of her performance, the album Live at Blues Alley was compiled from the recordings and released that year to much acclaim in the D.C. area. Sadly, it would be the only solo album to appear during Cassidy's lifetime. She moved to Annapolis and took a job painting murals at elementary schools; during the summer, she began experiencing problems with her hip, which she assumed was related to her frequent use of stepladders at work. However, X-rays revealed that her hip was broken, and further tests showed that the melanoma from several years before had spread to her lungs and bones. Cassidy started chemotherapy, but it was simply too late. A benefit show in her honor was staged in September, and Cassidy found the strength to give her last performance there, singing "What a Wonderful World." She died on November 2, 1996. Cassidy virtually swept that year's Washington Area Music Awards, and the album she'd been working on with Biondo prior to her death, Eva by Heart, was released by Liason in 1997.
D.C.-based Celtic folk singer Grace Griffith finally found some interest in releasing Cassidy's music at the label she recorded for, Blix Street. 1998's Songbird was a compilation culled from Cassidy's three previous releases, and when BBC Radio 2 disc jockey Terry Wogan started playing the version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Songbird started to sell in the U.K. The British TV show Top of the Pops aired a home-video clip of Cassidy performing the song, quite intensely, at the Blues Alley, and were deluged with requests for further broadcasts. Thanks to all the exposure, Songbird steadily grew into a major hit, climbing all the way to the top of the British album charts and selling over a million copies. In 2000, Blix Street followed Songbird with Time After Time, a set of 12 previously unreleased tracks (eight studio, four live) that proved an important addition to Cassidy's slim recorded legacy. The same year saw the appearance of No Boundaries, an unrepresentative set of adult contemporary pop released by the Renata label over strenuous objections from Cassidy's family. Profiles of Cassidy began to appear in American media, including pieces on NPR's Morning Edition and ABC's Nightline. In the summer of 2002, Blix Street compiled Imagine, another set of live recordings and studio demos. ~ All Music Guide
For the Record . . .
Born on February 2, 1963, in Oxon Hill, MD; died on November 2, 1996, of melanoma; daughter of Hugh (a special education teacher, sculptor, cellist, and bassist) and Barbara Cassidy. Began drawing at age two and studying music at age nine; formed the Eva Cassidy Band, 1990; released The Other Side with Chuck Brown, 1992; released Live at Blues Alley, 1996; four albums, including Songbird, Eva by Heart, Time After Time, and No Boundaries released posthumously. Albums: The Other Side, Liaison, 1992. Live at Blues Alley, Eva Music, 1996. Eva by Heart, Blix Street, 1997. Songbird, Blix Street, 1998. Time After Time, Blix Street, 2000. Imagine, Blix Street, 2000. American Tune, Blix Street, 2003. Wonderful World, Blix Street, 2004. Somewhere, Blix Street, 2008. Simply Eva, Blix Street, 2011. The Best of Eva Cassidy, Blix Street, 2012. Sources: Steve Huey
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com
Why Not Check Out:
Click an Image to Buy Album
The first popular jazz singer to move audiences with the intense, personal feeling of classic blues, Billie Holiday changed the art of American pop vocals forever. Almost fifty years after her death, it's difficult to believe that prior to her emergence, jazz and pop singers were tied to the Tin Pan Alley tradition and rarely personalized their songs; only blues singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey actually gave the impression they had lived through what they were singing. Billie Holiday's highly stylized reading of this blues tradition revolutionized traditional pop, ripping the decades-long tradition of song plugging in two by refusing to compromise her artistry for either the song or the band. She made clear her debts to Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong (in her autobiography she admitted, "I always wanted Bessie's big sound and Pops' feeling"), but in truth her style was virtually her own, quite a shock in an age of interchangeable crooners and band singers.
Billie Holiday's chaotic life reportedly began in Baltimore on April 7, 1915 (a few reports say 1912) when she was born Eleanora Fagan Gough. Her father, Clarence Holiday, was a teenaged jazz guitarist and banjo player later to play in Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra. He never married her mother, Sadie Fagan, and left while his daughter was still a baby. (She would later run into him in New York, and though she contracted many guitarists for her sessions before his death in 1937, she always avoided using him.) Holiday's mother was also a young teenager at the time, and whether because of inexperience or neglect, often left her daughter with uncaring relatives. Holiday was sentenced to Catholic reform school at the age of ten, reportedly after she admitted being raped. Though sentenced to stay until she became an adult, a family friend helped get her released after just two years. With her mother, she moved in 1927, first to New Jersey and soon after to Brooklyn.
In New York, Holiday helped her mother with domestic work, but soon began moonlighting as a prostitute for the additional income. According to the weighty Billie Holiday legend (which gained additional credence after her notoriously apocryphal autobiography -Lady Sings the Blues), her big singing break came in 1933 when a laughable dancing audition at a speakeasy prompted her accompanist to ask her if she could sing. In fact, Holiday was most likely singing at clubs all over New York City as early as 1930-31. Whatever the true story, she first gained some publicity in early 1933, when record producer John Hammond-- only three years older than Holiday herself, and just at the beginning of a legendary career -- wrote her up in a column for Melody Maker and brought Benny Goodman to one of her performances. After recording a demo at Columbia Studios, Holiday joined a small group led by Goodman to make her commercial debut on November 27, 1933 with "Your Mother's Son-In-Law." http://rokpool.com/sites/all/modules/fckeditor/fckeditor/editor/skins/si...); background-position: 0px -544px; " class="TB_Button_Image" alt="" />
Though she didn't return to the studio for over a year, Billie Holiday spent 1934 moving up the rungs of the competitive New York bar scene. By early 1935, she made her debut at the Apollo Theater and appeared in a one-reeler film with Duke Ellington. During the last half of 1935, Holiday finally entered the studio again and recorded a total of four sessions. With a pick-up band supervised by pianist Teddy Wilson, she recorded a series of obscure, forgettable songs straight from the gutters of Tin Pan Alley -- in other words, the only songs available to an obscure black band during the mid-'30s. (During the swing era, music publishers kept the best songs strictly in the hands of society orchestras and popular white singers.) Despite the poor song quality, Holiday and various groups (including trumpeter Roy Eldridge, alto Johnny Hodges, and tenors Ben Webster and Chu Berry) energized flat songs like "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Twenty-Four Hours a Day" and "If You Were Mine" (to say nothing of "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo" and "Yankee Doodle Never Went to Town"). The great combo playing and Holiday's increasingly assured vocals made them quite popular on Columbia, Brunswick and Vocalion.
During 1936, Holiday toured with groups led by Jimmie Lunceford and Fletcher Henderson, then returned to New York for several more sessions. In late January 1937, she recorded several numbers with a small group culled from one of Hammond's new discoveries, Count Basie's Orchestra. Tenor Lester Young, who'd briefly known Billie several years earlier, and trumpeter Buck Clayton were to become especially attached to Holiday. The three did much of their best recorded work together during the late '30s, and Holiday herself bestowed the nickname Pres on Young, while he dubbed her Lady Day for her elegance. By the spring of 1937, she began touring with Basie as the female complement to his male singer, Jimmy Rushing. The association lasted less than a year, however. Though officially she was fired from the band for being temperamental and unreliable, shadowy influences higher up in the publishing world reportedly commanded the action after she refused to begin singing '20s female blues standards.
The standard, written by Café Society regular Lewis Allen and forever tied to Holiday, is an anguished reprisal of the intense racism still persistent in the South. Though Holiday initially expressed doubts about adding such a bald, uncompromising song to her repertoire, she pulled it off thanks largely to her powers of nuance and subtlety. "Strange Fruit" soon became the highlight of her performances. Though John Hammond refused to record it (not for its politics but for its overly pungent imagery), he allowed Holiday a bit of leverage to record for Commodore, the label owned by jazz record-store owner Milt Gabler. Once released, "Strange Fruit" was banned by many radio outlets, though the growing jukebox industry (and the inclusion of the excellent "Fine and Mellow" on the flip) made it a rather large, though controversial, hit. She continued recording for Columbia labels until 1942, and hit big again with her most famous composition, 1941's "God Bless the Child." Gabler, who also worked A&R for Decca, signed her to the label in 1944 to record "Lover Man," a song written especially for her and her third big hit. Neatly side-stepping the musician's union ban that afflicted her former label, Holiday soon became a priority at Decca, earning the right to top-quality material and lavish string sections for her sessions. She continued recording scattered sessions for Decca during the rest of the '40s, and recorded several of her best-loved songs including Bessie Smith's "'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do," "Them There Eyes," and "Crazy He Calls Me."
Though her artistry was at its peak, Billie Holiday's emotional life began a turbulent period during the mid-'40s. Already heavily into alcohol and marijuana, she began smoking opium early in the decade with her first husband, Johnnie Monroe. The marriage didn't last, but hot on its heels came a second marriage to trumpeter Joe Guy and a move to heroin. Despite her triumphant concert at New York's Town Hall and a small film role -- as a maid (!) -- with Louis Armstrong in 1947's New Orleans, she lost a good deal of money running her own orchestra with Joe Guy. Her mother's death soon after affected her deeply, and in 1947 she was arrested for possession of heroin and sentenced to eight months in prison.
During 1954, Holiday toured Europe to great acclaim, and her 1956 autobiography brought her even more fame (or notoriety). She made her last great appearance in 1957, on the CBS television special The Sound of Jazz with Webster, Lester Young, and Coleman Hawkins providing a close backing. One year later, the Lady in Satin LP clothed her naked, increasingly hoarse voice with the overwrought strings of Ray Ellis. During her final year, she made two more appearances in Europe before collapsing in May 1959 of heart and liver disease. Still procuring heroin while on her death bed, Holiday was arrested for possession in her private room and died on July 17, her system completely unable to fight both withdrawal and heart disease at the same time. Her cult of influence spread quickly after her death and gave her more fame than she'd enjoyed in life. The 1972 biopic Lady Sings the Blues featured Diana Ross struggling to overcome the conflicting myths of Holiday's life, but the film also illuminated her tragic life and introduced many future fans. By the digital age, virtually all of Holiday's recorded material had been reissued: by Columbia (nine volumes of The Quintessential Billie Holiday), Decca (The Complete Decca Recordings), and Verve (The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959).
As a solo artist, Diana Ross is one of the most successful female singers of the rock era. If you factor in her work as the lead singer of the Supremes in the 1960s, she may be the most successful. With her friends Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin, Ross formed the Primettes vocal quartet in 1959. In 1960, they were signed to local Motown Records, changing their name to the Supremes in 1961. Martin then left, and the group continued as a trio. Over the next eight years, the Supremes (renamed "Diana Ross and the Supremes" in 1967, when Cindy Birdsong replaced Ballard) scored 12 number one pop hits. After the last one, "Someday We'll Be Together" (October 1969), Ross launched a solo career.
Motown initially paired her with writer/producers Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who gave her four Top 40 pop hits, including the number one "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (July 1970). Ross branched out into acting, starring in a film biography of Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues (November 1972). The soundtrack went to number one, and Ross was nominated for an Academy Award.
She returned to record-making with the Top Ten album Touch Me in the Morning (June 1973) and its chart-topping title song. This was followed by a duet album with Marvin Gaye, Diana & Marvin (October 1973), that produced three chart hits. Ross acted in her second movie, Mahogany (October 1975), and it brought her another chart-topping single in the theme song, "Do You Know Where You're Going To." That and her next number one, the disco-oriented "Love Hangover" (March 1976), were featured on her second album to be titled simply Diana Ross (February 1976), which rose into the Top Ten.
Ross' third film role came in The Wiz (October 1978). The Boss (May 1979) was a gold-selling album, followed by the platinum-selling Diana (May 1980) (the second of her solo albums with that name, though the other, a 1971 TV soundtrack, had an exclamation mark). It featured the number one single "Upside Down" and the Top Ten hit "I'm Coming Out."
Ross scored a third Top Ten hit in 1980 singing the title theme from the movie It's My Turn. She then scored the biggest hit of her career with another movie theme, duetting with Lionel Richie on "Endless Love" (June 1981). It was her last big hit on Motown; after more than 20 years, she decamped for RCA. She was rewarded immediately with a million-selling album, titled after her remake of the old Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers hit, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," which became her next Top Ten hit. The album also included the Top Ten hit "Mirror, Mirror."
Silk Electric (October 1982) was a gold-seller, featuring the Top Ten hit "Muscles," written and produced by Michael Jackson, and Swept Away (September 1984) was another successful album, containing the hit "Missing You," but Ross had trouble selling records in the second half of the 1980s. By 1989, she had returned to Motown, and by 1993 was turning more to pop standards, notably on the concert album Diana Ross Live: The Lady Sings...Jazz & Blues, Stolen Moments (April 1993).
Motown released a four-CD/cassette box set retrospective, Forever Diana, in October 1993, and the singer published her autobiography in 1994. Take Me Higher followed a year later, and in 1999 she returned with Every Day Is a New Day. 2000's Gift of Love was promoted by a concert tour featuring the Supremes, although neither Mary Wilson nor Cindy Birdsong appeared -- their roles were instead assumed by singers Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne, neither of whom had ever performed with Ross during the group's glory days. In 2006 Motown finally released Ross' lost album Blue, a collection of standards originally intended as the follow-up to Lady Sings the Blues. The album I Love You from 2007 featured new interpretations of familiar love songs. That same year the cable television network BET honored Ross with their Lifetime Achievement Award. ~ All Music Guide
For the Record...
Born Diane Ernestine Earle Ross on March 26, 1944, in Detroit, MI; daughter of Fred and Ernestine Ross; married Robert Ellis Silberstein, 1971 (divorced, 1976); married Arne Naess, Jr., 1985 (divorced, 2000); children: Rhonda, Suzanne, Tracee Joy, Chudney, Ross Arne, Evan.
Began singing as part of quartet with The Primettes, 1959; signed to Motown Records (group's name was changed to The Supremes), 1960; released first single with Supremes for Motown, 1961; left Supremes to pursue solo career, 1968; appeared on Broadway with one-woman show An Evening with Diana Ross, 1976; signed contract with RCA, 1980; returned to Motown, 1989; wrote the first volume of her autobiography Diana Ross: Secret of a Sparrow for Headline Books, 1993; with Roseanne Shelnutt co-authored the career scrapbook Diana Ross: Going Back for Universe Books, 2002; released the second volume of her autobiography Wrong Turns, Right Turns, and the Road Ahead for Reagan Books, 2004.
Awards: NAACP Image Award, Female Entertainer of the year, 1970; Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award, 1972; Golden Globe Award, Most Promising Newcomer, 1972; American Music Awards, Favorite Pop/Rock Album, 1974; Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B, and Favorite Single, Soul R&B, 1981; Favorite Female Artist, Pop/Rock, Favorite Single, Soul R&B, 1982; Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B, and Special Award of Merit, 1983; Inducted into Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as member of Supremes, 1988; Guinness Book of World Records, Most Successful Female Singer of All Time, 1993; Soul Train Music Awards, Heritage Award for Career Achievement, 1995; inducted into Soul Train Hall of Fame, 1995; World Music Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award, 1996; National Academy of Popular Music, Songwriters Hall of Fame Hitmaker Award, 1998; BET Walk of Fame Award, 1999; National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), Heroes Award, 2000.
Addresses: Record company Motown Records, 825 Eighth Ave., 28th Fl., New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.motown.com. Agent/i>Rogers & Cowan PR, 1888 Century Park E., Ste. 500, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Website/i>Diana Ross Official Website: http://www.dianaross.com.
Albums (produced by Motown unless otherwise noted):
Diana Ross, 1970.
Everything is Everything, 1970.
Touch Me in the Morning, 1973.
Diana & Marvin (with Marvin Gaye), 1973.
Last Time I Saw Him, 1973.
Diana Ross, 1976.
Baby It's Me, 1977.
The Boss, 1979.
Why Do Fools Fall in Love, RCA, 1981.
Silk Electric, RCA, 1982.
Ross, RCA, 1983.
Swept Away, RCA, 1984.
Eaten Alive, RCA, 1985.
Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, RCA, 1987.
Workin' Overtime, 1989.
The Force Behind the Power, 1991.
A Very Special Season, EMI, 1994.
Take Me Higher, 1995.
Every Day Is a New Day, 1999.
I Love You, EMI/Manhattan, 2006.
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com
Why Not Check Out:
Click on Image to Buy Album
According to Billboard chart statistics, Chicago is second only to the Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band of all time, in terms of both albums and singles. Judged by album sales, as certified by the R.I.A.A., the band does not rank quite so high, but it is still among the Top Ten best-selling U.S. groups ever. If such statements of fact surprise, that's because Chicago has been singularly underrated since the beginning of its long career, both because of its musical ambitions (to the musicians, rock is only one of several styles of music to be used and blended, along with classical, jazz, R&B, and pop) and because of its refusal to emphasize celebrity over the music. The result has been that fundamentalist rock critics have consistently failed to appreciate its music and that its media profile has always been low. At the same time, however, Chicago has succeeded in the ways it intended to. From the beginning of its emergence as a national act, it has been able to fill arenas with satisfied fans. And beyond the impressive sales and chart statistics, its music has endured, played constantly on the radio and instantly familiar to tens of millions. When, in 2002, Chicago's biggest hits were assembled together on the two-disc set The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning and the album debuted in the Top 50, giving the band the distinction of having had chart albums in five consecutive decades, the music industry and some music journalists may have been startled. But the fans who had been supporting Chicago for over 30 years were not.
Chicago marked the confluence of two distinct, but intermingling musical strains in Chicago, IL, in the mid-'60s: an academic approach and one coming from the streets. Reed player Walter Parazaider (born March 14, 1945, in Chicago, IL), trumpeter Lee Loughnane (born October 21, 1946, in Chicago, IL), and trombonist James Pankow (born August 20, 1947, in St. Louis, MO) were all music students at DePaul University. But they moonlighted in the city's clubs, playing everything from R&B to Irish music, and there they encountered less formally educated but no less talented players like guitarist Terry Kath (born January 31, 1946, in Chicago, IL; died January 23, 1978, in Los Angeles, CA) and drummer Danny Seraphine (born August 28, 1948, in Chicago, IL). In the mid-'60s, most rock groups followed the instrumentation of the Beatles -- two guitars, bass, and drums -- and horn sections were heard only in R&B. But in the summer of 1966, the Beatles used horns on "Got to Get You into My Life" on their Revolver album and, as usual, pop music began to follow their lead. At the end of the year, the Buckinghams, a Chicago band guided by a friend of Parazaider's, James William Guercio, scored a national hit with the horn-filled "Kind of a Drag," which went on to hit number one in February 1967.
That was all the encouragement Parazaider and his friends needed. Parazaider called a meeting of the band-to-be at his apartment on February 15, 1967, inviting along a talented organist and singer he had run across, Robert Lamm (born October 13, 1944, in New York, NY [Brooklyn]). Lamm agreed to join and also said he could supply the missing bass sounds to the ensemble using the organ's foot pedals (a skill he had not actually acquired at the time).
Developing a repertoire of James Brown and Wilson Pickett material, the new band rehearsed in Parazaider's parents' basement before beginning to get gigs around town under the name the Big Thing. Soon, they were playing around the Midwest. By this time, Guercio had become a staff producer at Columbia Records, and he encouraged the band to begin developing original songs. Kath, and especially Lamm, took up the suggestion. (Soon, Pankow also became a major writer for the band.) Meanwhile, the sextet became a septet when Peter Cetera (born September 13, 1944, in Chicago, IL), singer and bassist for a rival Midwest band, the Exceptions, agreed to defect and join the Big Thing. This gave the group the unusual versatility of having three lead singers, the smooth baritone Lamm, the gruff baritone Kath, and Cetera, who was an elastic tenor. When Guercio came back to see the group in the late winter of 1968, he deemed them ready for the next step. In June 1968, he financed their move to Los Angeles.
Guercio exerted a powerful influence on the band as its manager and producer, which would become a problem over time. At first, the bandmembers were willing to live together in a two-bedroom house, practice all the time, and change the group's name to one of Guercio's choosing, Chicago Transit Authority. Guercio's growing power at Columbia Records enabled him to get the band signed there and to set in place the unusual image the band would have. He convinced the label to let this neophyte band release a double album as its debut (that is, when they agreed to a cut in their royalties), and he decided the group would be represented on the cover by a logo instead of a photograph.
Chicago Transit Authority, released in April 1969, debuted on the charts in May as the band began touring nationally. By July, the album had reached the Top 20, without benefit of a hit single. It had been taken up by the free-form FM rock stations and become an underground hit. It was certified gold by the end of the year and eventually went on to sell more than two million copies. (In September 1969, the band played the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Festival, and somehow the promoter obtained the right to tape the show. That same low-fidelity tape has turned up in an endless series of albums ever since. Examples include: Anthology, Beat the Bootleggers: Live 1967, Beginnings, Beginnings Live, Chicago [Classic World], Chicago Live, Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Magnum], Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Onyx], Great Chicago in Concert, I'm a Man, In Concert [Digmode], In Concert [Pilz], Live! [Columbia River], Live [LaserLight], Live Chicago, Live in Concert, Live in Toronto, Live '69, Live 25 or 6 to 4, The Masters, Rock in Toronto, and Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival.) To Guercio's surprise, he was contacted by the real Chicago Transit Authority, which objected to the band's use of the name; he responded by shortening the name to simply "Chicago." When he and the group finished the second album (another double) for release at the start of 1970, it was called Chicago, though it has since become known as Chicago II.
Chicago II vaulted into the Top Ten in its second week on the Billboard chart, even before its first single, "Make Me Smile," hit the Hot 100. The single was an excerpt from a musical suite, and the band at first objected to the editing considered necessary to prepare it for AM radio play. But it went on to reach the Top Ten, as did its successor, "25 or 6 to 4." The album quickly went gold and eventually platinum. In the fall of 1970, Columbia Records released "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," drawn from the group's first album, as its next single; it gave them their third consecutive Top Ten hit.
Chicago III, another double album, was ready for release at the start of 1971, and it just missed hitting number one while giving the band a third gold (and later platinum) LP. Its singles did not reach the Top Ten, however, and Columbia again reached back, releasing "Beginnings" (from the first album) backed with "Colour My World" (from the second) to give Chicago its fourth Top Ten single. Next up was a live album, the four-disc box set Chicago at Carnegie Hall, which, despite its size, crested in the Top Five and sold over a million copies. (The band itself preferred Live in Japan, an album recorded in February 1972 and initially released only in Japan.) Chicago V, a one-LP set, released in July 1972, spent nine weeks at number one on its way to selling over two million copies, spurred by its gold-selling Top Ten hit "Saturday in the Park." Chicago VI followed a year later and repeated the same success, launching the Top Ten singles "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" and "Just You 'n' Me."
The next Top Ten hit, "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," was released in advance of Chicago VII in the late winter of 1974. The album was the band's third consecutive chart-topper and another million-seller. "Call on Me" became its second Top Ten single. Chicago VIII, which marked the promotion of sideman percussionist Laudir de Oliveira as a full-fledged bandmember, appeared in the spring of 1975, spawned the Top Ten hit "Old Days," and became the band's fourth consecutive number one LP. After the profit-taking Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits in the fall of 1975 came Chicago X, which missed hitting number one but eventually sold over two million copies, in part because of the inclusion of the Grammy-winning number one single "If You Leave Me Now." Chicago XI, released in the late summer of 1977, continued the seemingly endless string of success, reaching the Top Ten, selling a million copies, and generating the Top Five hit "Baby, What a Big Surprise."
But there was trouble beneath the surface. The band's big hits were starting to be solely ballads sung by Cetera, which frustrated the musicians' musical ambitions. They had failed to attract critical notice, and what press attention they were given often alluded to Guercio's Svengali-like control as manager and producer. Chicago determined to fire Guercio and demonstrate that they could succeed without him. Shortly afterward, they were struck by a crushing blow. Kath, a gun enthusiast, accidentally shot and killed himself on January 23, 1978. Though he, like most of the other members of the band, was not readily recognizable outside the group, he had actually had a large say in its direction, and his loss was incalculable. Nevertheless, the band closed ranks and went on.
Guitarist Donnie Dacus was chosen from auditions and joined the band in time for its 12th LP release, which was given a non-numerical title, Hot Streets, and which put prominent pictures of the bandmembers on the cover for the first time. The sound, as indicated by the first single, the Top 20 hit "Alive Again," was harder rock, and the band's core following responded, but Hot Streets was Chicago's first album since 1969 to miss the Top Ten. Chicago 13 then missed the Top 20. (At this point, Dacus left the band, and Chicago hired guitarist Chris Pinnick as a sideman, eventually upping him to full-fledged group-member status.) Released in 1980, Chicago XIV, the last album to feature de Oliveira, didn't go gold. By 1981, with the release of the 15th album, the poor-selling Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, the band parted ways with Columbia Records and began looking for a new approach.
They found it in writer/producer David Foster, who returned to an emphasis on the band's talent for power ballads as sung by Cetera. They also brought in one of Foster's favorite session musicians, Bill Champlin (born May 21, 1947, in Oakland, CA), as a full-fledged bandmember. Champlin, formerly the leader of the Sons of Champlin, was a multi-instrumentalist with a gruff voice that allowed him to sing the parts previously taken by Kath. With these additions, the band signed with Full Moon Records, an imprint of Warner Bros., and released Chicago 16 in the spring of 1982, prefaced by the single "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," which topped the charts, leading to a major comeback. The album returned Chicago to million-selling, Top Ten status. Chicago 17, released in the spring of 1984, was even more successful -- in fact, the biggest-selling album of the band's career, with platinum certifications for six million copies as of 1997. It spawned two Top Five hits, "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're the Inspiration."
The renewed success, however, changed the long-established group dynamics, thrusting Cetera out as a star. He left the band for a solo career in 1985. (Pinnick also left at about this time, and the band did not immediately bring in a new guitarist.) As Cetera's replacement, Chicago found Jason Scheff, the 23-year-old bass-playing son of famed bassist Jerry Scheff, a longtime sideman with Elvis Presley. Scheff boasted a tenor voice that allowed him to re-create Cetera's singing on many Chicago hits. The split with Cetera had a negative commercial impact, however. Despite boasting a Top Five hit single in "Will You Still Love Me?," 1986's Chicago 18 only went gold. The band recovered, however, with Chicago 19, released in the spring of 1988. Among its singles, "I Don't Want to Live Without Your Love" made the Top Five, "Look Away" topped the charts, and "You're Not Alone" made the Top Ten as the album went platinum. Another single, "What Kind of Man Would I Be?," originally found on the album, was included as part of the 1989 compilation Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (which counted as the 20th album) and became a Top Five hit, while the album sold five million copies by 1997.
At the turn of the decade, Chicago underwent two more personnel changes, with guitarist DaWayne Bailey joining and original drummer Danny Seraphine departing, to be replaced by Tris Imboden. Chicago Twenty 1, released at the start of 1991, sold disappointingly, and Warner rejected the band's next offering (though tracks from it did turn up on compilations). Chicago, however, maintained a loyal following that enabled them to tour successfully every summer. In 1995, Keith Howland replaced Bailey as Chicago's guitarist. The same year, the band regained rights to its Columbia Records catalog and established its own Chicago Records label to reissue the albums. They also signed to Giant Records, another Warner imprint, to release their 22nd album, Night & Day, a collection of big-band standards that made the Top 100. They were now able to combine hits from their Columbia and Warner years, resulting in the release of the gold-selling The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997 and its follow-up, The Heart of Chicago, Vol. 2 1967-1998 (their 23rd and 24th albums, respectively). In 1998, they released Chicago 25: The Christmas Album on Chicago Records, and they followed it in 1999 with Chicago XXVI: The Live Album. In 2002, Chicago began leasing its early albums to Rhino Records for deluxe repackagings, often with bonus tracks. And the success of The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning demonstrated that their music continued to appeal to fans. Feeding off the renewed interest, the band reappeared in 2006 with the new album Chicago XXX on Rhino. The rejected Warner album from 1993 was finally released by Rhino in 2008 as Stone of Sisyphus: XXXII.
Source: William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com
Why Not Check Out:
Louis Armstrong was the first important soloist to emerge in jazz, and he became the most influential musician in the music's history. As a trumpet virtuoso, his playing, beginning with the 1920s studio recordings made with his Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles, charted a future for jazz in highly imaginative, emotionally charged improvisation. For this, he is revered by jazz fans. But Armstrong also became an enduring figure in popular music, due to his distinctively phrased bass singing and engaging personality, which were on display in a series of vocal recordings and film roles.
Armstrong had a difficult childhood. William Armstrong, his father, was a factory worker who abandoned the family soon after the boy's birth. Armstrong was brought up by his mother, Mary (Albert) Armstrong, and his maternal grandmother. He showed an early interest in music, and a junk dealer for whom he worked as a grade-school student helped him buy a cornet, which he taught himself to play. He dropped out of school at 11 to join an informal group, but on December 31, 1912, he fired a gun during a New Year's Eve celebration, for which he was sent to reform school. He studied music there and played cornet and bugle in the school band, eventually becoming its leader. He was released on June 16, 1914, and did manual labor while trying to establish himself as a musician. He was taken under the wing of cornetist Joe "King" Oliver, and when Oliver moved to Chicago in June 1918, he replaced him in the Kid Ory Band. He moved to the Fate Marable band in the spring of 1919, staying with Marable until the fall of 1921.
Armstrong moved to Chicago to join Oliver's band in August 1922 and made his first recordings as a member of the group in the spring of 1923. He married Lillian Harden, the pianist in the Oliver band, on February 5, 1924. (She was the second of his four wives.) On her encouragement, he left Oliver and joined Fletcher Henderson's band in New York, staying for a year and then going back to Chicago in November 1925 to join the Dreamland Syncopators, his wife's group. During this period, he switched from cornet to trumpet.
Armstrong had gained sufficient individual notice to make his recording debut as a leader on November 12, 1925. Contracted to OKeh Records, he began to make a series of recordings with studio-only groups called the Hot Fives or the Hot Sevens. For live dates, he appeared with the orchestras led by Erskine Tate and Carroll Dickerson. The Hot Fives' recording of "Muskrat Ramble" gave Armstrong a Top Ten hit in July 1926, the band for the track featuring Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Lillian Harden Armstrong on piano, and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo.
By February 1927, Armstrong was well-enough known to front his own group, Louis Armstrong & His Stompers, at the Sunset Café in Chicago. (Armstrong did not function as a bandleader in the usual sense, but instead typically lent his name to established groups.) In April, he reached the charts with his first vocal recording, "Big Butter and Egg Man," a duet with May Alix. He took a position as star soloist in Carroll Dickerson's band at the Savoy Ballroom in Chicago in March 1928, later taking over as the band's frontman. "Hotter than That" was in the Top Ten in May 1928, followed in September by "West End Blues," which later became one of the first recordings named to the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Armstrong returned to New York with his band for an engagement at Connie's Inn in Harlem in May 1929. He also began appearing in the orchestra of +Hot Chocolates, a Broadway revue, given a featured spot singing "Ain't Misbehavin'." In September, his recording of the song entered the charts, becoming a Top Ten hit.
Armstrong fronted the Luis Russell Orchestra for a tour of the South in February 1930, then in May went to Los Angeles, where he led a band at Sebastian's Cotton Club for the next ten months. He made his film debut in Ex-Flame, released at the end of 1931. By the start of 1932, he had switched from the "race"-oriented OKeh label to its pop-oriented big sister Columbia Records, for which he recorded two Top Five hits, "Chinatown, My Chinatown" and "You Can Depend on Me" before scoring a number one hit with "All of Me" in March 1932; another Top Five hit, "Love, You Funny Thing," hit the charts the same month. He returned to Chicago in the spring of 1932 to front a band led by Zilner Randolph; the group toured around the country. In July, Armstrong sailed to England for a tour. He spent the next several years in Europe, his American career maintained by a series of archival recordings, including the Top Ten hits "Sweethearts on Parade" (August 1932; recorded December 1930) and "Body and Soul" (October 1932; recorded October 1930). His Top Ten version of "Hobo, You Can't Ride This Train," in the charts in early 1933, was on Victor Records; when he returned to the U.S. in 1935, he signed to recently formed Decca Records and quickly scored a double-sided Top Ten hit, "I'm in the Mood for Love"/"You Are My Lucky Star."
Armstrong's new manager, Joe Glaser, organized a big band for him that had its premiere in Indianapolis on July 1, 1935; for the next several years, he toured regularly. He also took a series of small parts in motion pictures, beginning with Pennies From Heaven in December 1936, and he continued to record for Decca, resulting in the Top Ten hits "Public Melody Number One" (August 1937), "When the Saints Go Marching in" (April 1939), and "You Won't Be Satisfied (Until You Break My Heart)" (April 1946), the last a duet with Ella Fitzgerald. He returned to Broadway in the short-lived musical +Swingin' the Dream in November 1939.
With the decline of swing music in the post-World War II years, Armstrong broke up his big band and put together a small group dubbed the All Stars, which made its debut in Los Angeles on August 13, 1947. He embarked on his first European tour since 1935 in February 1948, and thereafter toured regularly around the world. In June 1951 he reached the Top Ten of the LP charts with Satchmo at Symphony Hall ("Satchmo" being his nickname), and he scored his first Top Ten single in five years with "(When We Are Dancing) I Get Ideas" later in the year. The single's B-side, and also a chart entry, was "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," sung by Armstrong in the film The Strip. In 1993, it gained renewed popularity when it was used in the film Sleepless in Seattle.
Armstrong completed his contract with Decca in 1954, after which his manager made the unusual decision not to sign him to another exclusive contract but instead to have him freelance for different labels. Satch Plays Fats, a tribute to Fats Waller, became a Top Ten LP for Columbia in October 1955, and Verve Records contracted Armstrong for a series of recordings with Ella Fitzgerald, beginning with the chart LP Ella and Louis in 1956.
Armstrong continued to tour extensively, despite a heart attack in June 1959. In 1964, he scored a surprise hit with his recording of the title song from the Broadway musical +Hello, Dolly!, which reached number one in May, followed by a gold-selling album of the same name. It won him a Grammy for best vocal performance. This pop success was repeated internationally four years later with "What a Wonderful World," which hit number one in the U.K. in April 1968. It did not gain as much notice in the U.S. until 1987 when it was used in the film Good Morning, Vietnam, after which it became a Top 40 hit. Armstrong was featured in the 1969 film of Hello, Dolly!, performing the title song as a duet with Barbra Streisand. He performed less frequently in the late '60s and early '70s, and died of a heart ailment at 69.
Louis Armstrong was embraced by two distinctly different audiences: jazz fans who revered him for his early innovations as an instrumentalist, but were occasionally embarrassed by his lack of interest in later developments in jazz and, especially, by his willingness to serve as a light entertainer; and pop fans, who delighted in his joyous performances, particularly as a vocalist, but were largely unaware of his significance as a jazz musician. Given his popularity, his long career, and the extensive label-jumping he did in his later years, as well as the differing jazz and pop sides of his work, his recordings are extensive and diverse, with parts of his catalog owned by many different companies. But many of his recorded performances are masterpieces, and none are less than entertaining. ~ All Music Guide
Full name, Daniel Louis Armstrong; nickname, "Satchmo"; born July 4, 1900, in New Orleans, Louisiana; died July 6, 1971, in Long Island, New York; son of Willie (a turpentine worker) and Mary Ann (a domestic servant) Armstrong; married Daisy Parker (divorced, 1917); married Lilian Hardin (a jazz pianist), February 5, 1924 (divorced, 1932); married Lucille Wilson (a singer), 1942.
Hello, Dolly, MCA.
At the Crescendo, MCA.
Best of Louis Armstrong, Audiofidelity.
Definitive Album, Audiofidelity.
Louis Armstrong with the Dukes of Dixieland, Audiofidelity.
Disney Songs the Satchmo Way, Buena.
I Will Wait for You, Brunswick.
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, Archive of Folk & Jazz.
Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography (four-album set), Decca, 1957.
Verve's Best Choice, Verve.
What a Wonderful World, ABC, 1968.
Louis Armstrong with His Friends, Amsterdam.
July 4, 1900/July 6, 1971, RCA.
The Genius of Louis Armstrong, Columbia.
Louis Armstrong in the Thirties, RCA.
Louis Armstrong in the Forties, RCA.
Why Not Check Out:
Earth, Wind & Fire were one of the most musically accomplished, critically acclaimed, and commercially popular funk bands of the '70s. Conceived by drummer, bandleader, songwriter, kalimba player, and occasional vocalist Maurice White, EWF's all-encompassing musical vision used funk as its foundation, but also incorporated jazz, smooth soul, gospel, pop, rock & roll, psychedelia, blues, folk, African music, and, later on, disco. Lead singer Philip Bailey gave EWF an extra dimension with his talent for crooning sentimental ballads in addition to funk workouts; behind him, the band could harmonize like a smooth Motown group, work a simmering groove like the J.B.'s, or improvise like a jazz fusion outfit. Plus, their stage shows were often just as elaborate and dynamic as George Clinton's P-Funk empire. More than just versatility for its own sake, EWF's eclecticism was part of a broader concept informed by a cosmic, mystical spirituality and an uplifting positivity the likes of which hadn't been seen since the early days of Sly & the Family Stone. Tying it all together was the accomplished songwriting of Maurice White, whose intricate, unpredictable arrangements and firm grasp of hooks and structure made EWF one of the tightest bands in funk when they wanted to be. Not everything they tried worked, but at their best, Earth, Wind & Fire seemingly took all that came before them and wrapped it up into one dizzying, spectacular package.
White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in Chicago in 1969. He had previously honed his chops as a session drummer for Chess Records, where he played on songs by the likes of Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, and Etta James, among others. In 1967, he'd replaced Redd Holt in the popular jazz group the Ramsey Lewis Trio, where he was introduced to the kalimba, an African thumb piano he would use extensively in future projects. In 1969, he left Lewis' group to form a songwriting partnership with keyboardist Don Whitehead and singer Wade Flemons. This quickly evolved into a band dubbed the Salty Peppers, which signed with Capitol and scored a regional hit with "La La Time." When a follow-up flopped, White decided to move to Los Angeles, and took most of the band with him; he also renamed them Earth, Wind & Fire, after the three elements in his astrological charts. By the time White convinced his brother, bassist Verdine White, to join him on the West Coast in 1970, the lineup also consisted of Whitehead, Flemons, female singer Sherry Scott, guitarist Michael Beal, tenor saxophonist Chet Washington, trombonist Alex Thomas, and percussionist Yackov Ben Israel. This aggregate signed a new deal with Warner Bros. and issued its self-titled debut album in late 1970. Many critics found it intriguing and ambitious, much like the 1971 follow-up, The Need of Love, but neither attracted much commercial attention, despite a growing following on college campuses and a high-profile gig performing the soundtrack to Melvin Van Peebles' groundbreaking black independent film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.
Dissatisfied with the results, White dismantled the first version of EWF in 1972, retaining only brother Verdine. He built a new lineup with female vocalist Jessica Cleaves, flute/sax player Ronnie Laws, guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, and percussionist Ralph Johnson; the most important new addition, however, was singer Philip Bailey, recruited from a Denver R&B band called Friends & Love. After seeing the group open for John Sebastian in New York, Clive Davis signed them to CBS, where they debuted in 1972 with Last Days and Time. Further personnel changes ensued; Laws and Bautista were all gone by year's end, replaced by reedman Andrew Woolfolk and guitarists Al McKay and Johnny Graham. It was then that EWF truly began to hit their stride. 1973's Head to the Sky (Cleaves' last album with the group) significantly broadened their cult following, and the 1974 follow-up, Open Our Eyes, was their first genuine hit. It marked their first collaboration with producer, arranger, and sometime songwriting collaborator Charles Stepney, who helped streamline their sound for wider acceptance; it also featured another White brother, Fred, brought in as a second drummer. The single "Mighty Mighty" became EWF's first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts, although pop radio shied away from its black-pride subtext, and the minor hit "Kalimba Story" brought Maurice White's infatuation with African sounds to the airwaves. Open Our Eyes went gold, setting the stage for the band's blockbuster breakthrough.
In 1975, EWF completed work on another movie soundtrack, this time to a music-biz drama called That's the Way of the World. Not optimistic about the film's commercial prospects, the group rushed out their soundtrack album of the same name (unlike Sweet Sweetback, they composed all the music themselves) in advance. The film flopped, but the album took off; its lead single, the love-and-encouragement anthem "Shining Star," shot to the top of both the R&B and pop charts, making Earth, Wind & Fire mainstream stars; it later won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. The album also hit number one on both the pop and R&B charts, and went double platinum; its title track went Top Five on the R&B side, and it also contained Bailey's signature ballad in the album cut "Reasons." White used the new income to develop EWF's live show into a lavish, effects-filled extravaganza, which eventually grew to include stunts designed by magician Doug Henning. The band was also augmented by a regular horn section, the Phoenix Horns, headed by saxophonist Don Myrick. Their emerging concert experience was chronicled later that year on the double-LP set Gratitude, which became their second straight number one album and featured one side of new studio tracks. Of those, "Sing a Song" reached the pop Top Ten and the R&B Top Five, and the ballad "Can't Hide Love" and the title track were also successful.
Sadly, during the 1976 sessions for EWF's next studio album, Spirit, Charles Stepney died suddenly of a heart attack. Maurice White took over the arranging chores, but the Stepney-produced "Getaway" managed to top the R&B charts posthumously. Spirit naturally performed well on the charts, topping out at number two. In the meantime, White was taking a hand in producing other acts; in addition to working with his old boss Ramsey Lewis, he helped kick start the careers of the Emotions and Deniece Williams. 1977's All n' All was another strong effort that charted at number three and spawned the R&B smashes "Fantasy" and the chart-topping "Serpentine Fire"; meanwhile, the Emotions topped the pop charts with the White-helmed smash "Best of My Love." The following year, White founded his own label, ARC, and EWF appeared in the mostly disastrous film version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, turning in a fine cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" that became their first Top Ten pop hit since "Sing a Song." Released before year's end, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 produced another Top Ten hit (and R&B number one) in the newly recorded "September."
1979's I Am contained EWF's most explicit nod to disco, a smash collaboration with the Emotions called "Boogie Wonderland" that climbed into the Top Ten. The ballad "After the Love Has Gone" did even better, falling one spot short of the top. Although I Am became EWF's sixth straight multi-platinum album, there were signs that the group's explosion of creativity over the past few years was beginning to wane. 1980's Faces broke that string, after which guitarist McKay departed. While 1981's Raise brought them a Top Five hit and R&B chart-topper in "Let's Groove," an overall decline in consistency was becoming apparent. By the time EWF issued its next album, 1983's Powerlight, ARC had folded, and the Phoenix Horns had been cut loose to save money. After the lackluster Electric Universe appeared at the end of the year, White disbanded the group to simply take a break. In the meantime, Verdine White became a producer and video director, while Philip Bailey embarked on a solo career and scored a pop smash with the Phil Collins duet "Easy Lover." Collins also made frequent use of the Phoenix Horns on his '80s records, both solo and with Genesis.
Bailey reunited with the White brothers, plus Andrew Woolfolk, Ralph Johnson, and new guitarist Sheldon Reynolds, in 1987 for the album Touch the World. It was surprisingly successful, producing two R&B smashes in "Thinking of You" and the number one "System of Survival." Released in 1990, Heritage was a forced attempt to contemporize the group's sound, with guest appearances from Sly Stone and MC Hammer; its failure led to the end of the group's relationship with Columbia. They returned on Reprise with the more traditional-sounding Millennium in 1993, but were dropped when the record failed to recapture their commercial standing despite a Grammy nomination for "Sunday Morning"; tragedy struck that year when onetime horn leader Don Myrick was murdered in Los Angeles. Bailey and the White brothers returned once again in 1997 on the small Pyramid label with In the Name of Love. After 2003's The Promise, the group realigned itself with several top-shelf adult contemporary artists and released 2005's Illumination, which featured a much-publicized collaboration with smooth jazz juggernaut Kenny G.
For The Record
Original members include Michael Beale, guitar; Leslie Drayton, horns; Wade Flemons,electric piano; Sherry Scott, vocals; Alex Thomas, horns; Chester Washington, horns;Maurice White (born December 19, 1941, in Chicago, IL), vocals, drums, kalimba; Verdine White (born July 25, 1951), bass; Donald Whitehead, keyboards; and Phillard Williams,percussion.
Why Not Check Out:
Frank, Island, 2003.
Much can be said about Amy Winehouse, one of the U.K.'s flagship vocalists during the 2000s.
The British press and tabloids seemed to focus on her rowdy behaviour and heavy consumption of alcohol, but fans and critics alike embraced her rugged charm, brash sense of humour, and distinctively soulful and jazzy vocals. Her platinum-selling breakthrough album, Frank (2003), elicited comparisons ranging from Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan to Macy Gray and Lauryn Hill.
Interestingly enough, despite her strong cockney accent and vernacular, one can often hear aspects of each of those singers' vocal repertoire in Winehouse's own voice. Nonetheless, her allure has been her songwriting - almost always deeply personal, but best known for its profanity and brutal candour.
Born to a taxi-driving father and pharmacist mother, Winehouse grew up in the Southgate area of Northern London. Her upbringing was surrounded by jazz. Many of the uncles on her mother's side were professional jazz musicians, and even her paternal grandmother was romantically involved with British jazz legend Ronnie Scott at one time.
While at home, she listened to and absorbed her parents' selection of greats: Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra among others. However, in her teens, she was drawn to the rebellious spirit of TLC, Salt-N-Pepa, and other American R&B and hip-hop acts of the time.
At the age of 16, after she had been expelled from London's Sylvia Young Theatre School, she caught her first break when pop singer Tyler James, a schoolmate and close friend, passed on her demo tape to his A&R, who was searching for a jazz vocalist. That opportunity led to her recording contract with Island Records.
By the end of 2003, when she was 20 years old, Island had released her debut album, Frank. With contributions from hip-hop producer/keyboardist Salaam Remi, Winehouse's amalgam of jazz, pop, soul, and hip-hop received rave reviews. The album was nominated for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize as well as two Brit awards, and its lead single, "Stronger Than Me," won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song.
Following Winehouse's debut, the accolades and inquiring interviews appeared concurrently in the press with her tempestuous public life. Several times she showed up to her club or TV performances too drunk to sing a whole set. In 2006, her management company finally suggested that she enter alcohol detox, but instead, she dumped the company and transcribed the ordeal into the U.K. Top Ten hit "Rehab," the lead single for her second, critically acclaimed album, Back to Black.
Containing evocative productions from Salaam Remi and British DJ/multi-instrumentalist Mark Ronson, the album somewhat abandoned jazz, delving into the sounds of '50s/'60s-era girl group harmonies, rock & roll, and soul.
The fanfare over the release was so great that it started to spill over onto U.S. shores; several rappers and DJs made their own remixes of various songs - not to mention covers by Prince and the Arctic Monkeys.
One month after Winehouse won Best Female Artist at the Brit Awards in February 2007, Universal released Back to Black in the U.S. The LP charted higher than any other American debut by a British female recording artist before it, and it remained in the Top Ten for several months, selling a million copies by the end of that summer.
Just as in the U.K., she became the talk of the town, landing on the covers of Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. Not long afterward, though, Winehouse cancelled her North American tour. Early reports revealed that she was entering rehab for alcohol and drug addiction, but her new management denied the claims, stating it was due to severe exhaustion.
Her erratic behaviour kept her and her new husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, constantly in the tabloids and on and off stages on both sides of the Atlantic, but in late 2007 American fans were finally given a chance to hear Winehouse's early work, with a slightly abbreviated (two songs removed and one added) version of Frank. ~Amy died of a drugs overdose in July 2011 Cyril Cordor, All Music Guide
Why Not Also Check Out:
Queen were an English rock band formed in London in 1970. The band was made up of front man Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. The band was well-known for their musical diversity, vocal harmonies and multi-layered arrangements. Their Live Aid performance of 1985 was voted the best live rock performance of all time in a poll conducted by the music industry.
Queen released their debut self-titled album in 1971 to much critical acclaim but little commercial success. Their second release, 'Queen II', was released in 1972 and reached No. 5 in the charts with the lead single, 'Seven Seas of Rhye', reaching No. 10 in the UK singles chart giving them their first hit single. 1974 saw the release of their third album, 'Sheer Heart Attack', which met with commercial success. Single, 'Killer Queen', reached No.2 in the UK chart and No. 12 in the US. In 1975 the band went on their first world tour. Later in the same year, 'A Night at the Opera' was released and had great success in the UK and went triple platinum in the US. The album included hit single, 'Bohemian Rhapsody', which topped the UK charts for 9 weeks and has been voted the best single of all times on numerous occasions.
1976 saw them back in the studio recording, 'A Day at the Races'. In the same year they also played a free concert in Hyde Park which had an attendance of over 150,000 people. 'News of the World' was released the following year and included 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are the Champions' which were tailor made for live performance, something the band were well known for with Freddie Mercury at the helm. 1978 and 1979 saw albums 'Jazz' and 'Live Killers' released.
The 1980s began with Queen releasing, 'The Game', which went to No.1 and included No.1 singles 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' and 'Another One Bites the Dust'. They also recorded 'Under Pressure' with David Bowie which was a No.1 hit in the UK. 1982 saw the release of funk album, 'Hot Space' and 1984 saw the release of, 'The Works' which included the likes of 'Radio Ga Ga' and 'I Want to Break Free'.
In 1985 Queen performed at Live Aid in what is considered their best ever live performance and the year ended with them releasing single 'One Vision'. Their next album, 'A Kind of Magic' contained several songs written for the film 'Highlander' and produced a string of successful hits. 1989 saw the band release album, “The Miracle” which contained “I Want It All”.
From 1988 onwards it was noticed that Mercury was looking increasingly gaunt and rumours spread that he was suffering from HIV, he strenuously denied this. In 1991 whilst on his deathbed he confirmed that he had HIV and died 12 hours later from bronchial pneumonia brought on by his condition.
Why Not Check Out:
Neil Young born November 12th, 1945 is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician and film director. Young is characterized by his lyrics, guitar work and falsetto tenor singing voice. He has experimented with a wide range of musical styles including swing, jazz, rockabilly, blues, and electronic music but is best known for two distinct styles: folk-esque acoustic rock and grunge, causing some to dub him "The Godfather of Grunge."
Young signed to Reprise Records releasing his debut self-titled album in 1968 which met with mixed reviews. For his next album, 'Everybody Knows This is Nowhere', Young recruited three musicians collectively known as Crazy Horse. The album includes familiar songs such as 'Cinnamon Girl', 'Cowgirl in the Sand' and 'Down by the River'.
Young reformed Crazy Horse with guitarist Frank Sampedro in 1975 for the album Zuma, then collaborated with Stephens Stills on the album 'Long May You Run' the following year.
Neil Young’s career continues to go from strength to strength, recently headlining at Glastonbury Festival in 2009.