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ABBA  

Alf Björnberg

Swedish pop group. Its members were Benny Andersson (b Stockholm, 16 Dec 1946), Agnetha Fältskog (b Jönköping, 5 April 1950), Anni-Frid Lyngstad (b Ballangen, Norway, 15 Nov 1945) and Björn Ulvaeus (b Göteborg, 25 April 1945). Having established separate careers within Swedish pop they started working together in 1970, from 1972 under the name Björn, Benny, Agnetha och Anni-Frid. The acronym ABBA was adopted in 1973. Their victory in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, with Waterloo, launched the most successful international career to emerge from that context. During the period 1974–82 the group attained global popularity with songs such as Mama Mia (1975), Fernando (1976), Dancing Queen (1976), The Name of the Game (1977), Take a chance on me (1978) and Super Trouper (1980), all of which were number one hits in the UK, and albums such as ...

Article

Richard Beckett

English record company. It was established in London in 1988 by the DJs Eddie Piller and Gilles Peterson. Their original intention was that the label would represent an alternative to the nascent acid house scene, based more around live musicians than the technology so central to acid house. Their policy stated ‘no house music’ and championed obscure soul and funk artists of the 1960s and 70s. Peterson left in 1989 to set up Talkin’ Loud, a rival imprint backed by Polygram, leaving Piller and his assistant Dean Rudland to develop Acid Jazz as a small but fashionable independent label. In the early 1990s they signed bands such as Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai, who have since achieved considerable commercial success with major record labels. In the late 1990s the company diversified its musical base, with separate labels dedicated to drum ’n’ bass, reggae and pop. In 1994 it acquired the Bass Clef, a jazz club in Hoxton, East London. Renamed the Blue Note, by ...

Article

Michael Ethen

(Guy)

(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.

Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...

Article

Allan F. Moore

English rock group. Formed in 1960 as the Alan Price Combo, a jazz trio based in Newcastle upon Tyne, they became the Animals two years later when Price (b 19 April 1942; organ), Chas (Bryan James) Chandler (b 18 Dec 1938; bass guitar) and John Steel (b 4 Feb 1941; drums) were joined by Hilton Valentine (b 21 May 1943; guitar) and Eric Burdon (b 11 May 1941; vocals). Their style was founded in Burdon's ‘wild’ persona and raw voice, which showed the particular influence of John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles, and on Price's gospel-influenced organ style. Their version of House of the Rising Sun (Col., 1964) became a number one hit in the UK and the US despite being over four minutes long. Typical of their style, it featured Burdon's agonized delivery and Price's economical solos. Their next few singles were comparative failures but their producer Mickie Most achieved further success by importing Brill Building material, such as ...

Article

Liz Thomson

(b 9 Dec, 1950, St Kitts, Leeward Islands). English singer-songwriter. One of five children, she spent the first few years of her life with her grandparents in the West Indies, following the rest of her family to Birmingham in 1958. An introverted youngster, she taught herself piano and guitar and as a teenager, inspired initially by Marianne Faithfull, she began writing and performing her own songs in clubs. While singing in the touring production of Hair, she met Pam Nestor with whom she recorded an album, Whatever's for Us (Cube, 1972). Produced by Gus Dudgeon, who had also worked with David Bowie and Elton John, it was a critical success but a commercial failure. Back to the Night (A&M, 1975) established Armatrading as a solo artist. However, she gained both critical and popular acceptance with her next album, Joan Armatrading (A&M, 1976), which included her best-known hit single ...

Article

Jeff Place

[Moses]

(b Warsaw, Poland, Dec 2, 1905; d New York, NY, Oct 19, 1986). American record producer of Polish birth. He founded the label Asch in New York in 1939, initially to release local Jewish music. He soon expanded to jazz and American vernacular music releasing records by such musicians as Mary Lou Williams, James P. Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Pete Seeger, who subsequently gained widespread acclaim. He then founded Disc (1945), Cub Records (1948), and Folkways Records and Service Corporation (1948).

It was Asch’s goal with Folkways to create an encyclopedia of the sounds of the 20th century. He did not take anything out of print, regardless of sales, using the rationale that one does not take “Q” out of the alphabet and leave “P” simply because “Q” is not used as much as “P.” During his career he released 2168 albums, the equivalent of about one a week. As well as folk music, his catalog included spoken word, recordings of natural and manmade sounds, jazz, blues, children’s music, political speeches, and non-Western musics from around the world....

Article

Alexandra M. Apolloni

[Avallone, Francis Thomas]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Sept 8, 1940). American pop vocalist of Italian descent. His career spanned music, film, and television, helping to define the image of the post-war Teen idol. A virtuoso trumpeter, Avalon released instrumental singles early in his career and led a jazz group, Rocco and the Saints, based in Philadelphia. Chancellor Records signed Avalon as a vocalist, aiming to capitalize on his boyish looks. Avalon’s singles for Chancellor include “Venus,” which spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard charts in 1959, and its follow-up, “Why.” The smooth vocals and reverberant textures of these recordings defined Avalon’s sound. He was first and foremost a ballad singer, and his recordings positioned him as a tame alternative to rock and roll, while his charm and boy-next-door appeal propelled him to fame with middle-class teenage girls.

Avalon made frequent appearances on Dick Clark’s television show American Bandstand and his first film role was alongside Clark in ...

Article

[Aznavourian, Varenagh]

(b Paris, May 22, 1924). French singer and songwriter. His parents were Armenian immigrants, and he began acting as a child. In 1941 he wrote the lyrics to the song J'ai bu, with music by Pierre Roche, and which brought the songwriting team to the attention of Edith Piaf. Aznavour subsequently wrote songs for Piaf (Il pleut, 1949), Gilbert Bécaud (Donne-moi, 1952) and Juliette Greco (Je hais les dimanches, 1950). As a singer, he toured with Piaf, but major success only came with Sur ma vie (1955). Such reflective and romantic songs as The Old-Fashioned Way and She (1974) brought him international acclaim, while numbers such as Hier encore (translated as Yesterday when I was Young) typify his introspective and melancholic style. His operetta, Monsieur Carnaval, was performed in Paris in 1965, and his film appearances include François Truffaut's ...

Article

Mark C. Samples

(Chandos)

(b Staten Island, NY, Jan 9, 1941). American folk singer, songwriter, and activist. She was born to a Mexican father and Scottish mother. A self-taught singer and guitarist she began performing informally for classmates as a way to make friends. She became enthralled with folk music as a high school student in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her polished soprano voice and deft finger-picking style gained her local attention, and a guest performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 was her first major professional success. After a short time attending Boston University Baez left to pursue her music career, which proceeded rapidly. She released six successful albums with Vanguard Records in the first half of the 1960s and toured widely. Her repertoire in these years consisted principally of traditional songs, but subsequently included new folk songs written by such contemporaries as Phil Ochs (“There but for Fortune”) and Bob Dylan (“It ain’t me babe” and “Farewell, Angelina”). Dylan’s songs became a staple for Baez, and the two had a high-profile but short romance. Baez was a bona fide folk star and used her celebrity to advocate for civil rights and protest against the Vietnam War. She was married to the anti-war activist David Harris from ...

Article

(b St. Louis, MO, June 3, 1906; d Paris, France, April 12, 1975). American dancer and singer, naturalized French. She started out dancing on the streets of St. Louis with the Jones Family Band, a vaudeville troupe. After touring the South with the Dixie Steppers, she gained attention in the touring company of Shuffle Along (1921), the most important African American show of the decade. A member of the female dancing chorus, Baker stood out by making faces and embellishing dance moves, mixing comedy with the erotic persona of the black chorus girl. After appearing on Broadway in The Chocolate Dandies (1924) as That Comedy Chorus Girl, Baker travelled to Paris with La revue nègre (1925), a nightclub revue that introduced the new black performance styles of Broadway to French audiences. Her pas de deux “Danse Sauvage,” which she performed with her partner Joe Alex, introduced an explicit eroticism and exuberant physicality which marked Baker’s initial renown. Famously appearing at times with little more than a string of bananas around her waist, she made an impact on French popular culture that was immediate and enduring....

Article

Balada  

Daniel Party

Spanish-language variant of the international pop music ballad. A hybrid of Mexican bolero, Italian and French orchestrated love songs, and early rock and roll ballads, balada emerged simultaneously in Spain and throughout the Americas in the late 1960s. Lyrics are invariably about love and purposely lack references to socio-political issues or local events to maximize potential target audiences. Most often performed by a solo singer, early balada moves at a slow to moderate tempo, and the musical accompaniment, by either a rock ensemble or a studio orchestra, is secondary to the voice. Early baladistas include Mexicans Carlos Lico and Armando Manzanero, Cuban American La Lupe, Spaniards Raphael and Julio Iglesias, Brazilian Roberto Carlos, Argentines Leonardo Favio and Sandro, and Chilean band Los Ángeles Negros.

During the 1970s, the genre’s golden age, balada featured sophisticated orchestral arrangements and lavish studio production, a trend developed in Spain by producer Rafael Trabucchelli and arranger Waldo de los Ríos. In the 1980s, Miami became the most important balada production center, as the city grew into the main hub for United States marketing and distribution in Latin America. The Miami-based balada industry served as a gateway for Latin American artists hoping to extend their popularity beyond their country of origin to the rest of Latin America and the United States. Balada albums produced in Miami are not limited to slow romantic ballads, but also include up-tempo, dance-oriented songs. During its golden age, the majority of balada singers were males, who targeted a mostly female audience by appearing sensitive and vulnerable. Baladas were regularly featured in Latin American soap opera soundtracks, and many baladistas, such as José Luis Rodríguez, Chayanne, and Daniela Romo, starred in soap operas....

Article

Charles Fox and Digby Fairweather

(b Welwyn Garden City, April 17, 1930). English jazz trombonist, arranger and bandleader. He studied the trombone and the double bass at the GSM in London, and formed his first traditional jazz band in 1949. In 1953 he helped to organize a band that was led by Ken Colyer, at that time the most ardent British propagandist for traditional New Orleans music. The following year Barber took over the band; Colyer was replaced by Pat Halcox, and the ensemble soon became one of the most popular and technically accomplished groups of its kind. From the mid-1950s Barber helped foster British interest in blues by bringing over such American musicians as Muddy Waters, the harmonica player Sonny Terry and the guitarist and singer Brownie McGhee. He made several tours of the USA beginning in 1959, and also recorded two albums with his American Jazz Band, which included Sidney De Paris, Edmond Hall and Hank Duncan. Barber expanded his interests, recording classic rags (scored for his band) long before the popular rediscovery of Scott Joplin, and working with musicians from other areas of jazz (notably the Jamaican saxophonists Bertie King and Joe Harriott). Renewed interest in traditional jazz in the early 1960s brought wide success to Barber and his group, which included as its singer his wife, Ottilie Patterson. After rhythm-and-blues achieved general popularity in the early 1960s he re-formed his group as Chris Barber’s Jazz and Blues Band, and, while retaining his roots in New Orleans jazz, engaged rock and blues musicians guitarist John Slaughter and the drummer Pete York. During the 1970s the band toured frequently in Europe. In ...

Article

Jairo Moreno

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 29, 1929; d Hackensack, NJ, Feb 17, 2006). American conga player, bandleader, and producer of Puerto Rican descent. He began playing percussion informally during time in Germany as part of the US occupation army (1946–9). Returning to New York City in 1949, he participated in the lively jam-session scene in Harlem, playing bongos in sessions with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1957, he replaced Mongo Santamaría in Tito Puente’s band. By 1960, he became the house percussionist for various jazz labels (Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside), recording his first album as leader for Riverside in 1961. The Charanga La Moderna was his first full-fledged Latin dance band, beginning in 1962. In 1963, his song El Watusi became the first Latin tune to enter the Billboard Top 20. By 1990, his salsa career stagnant, he formed a small, jazz-influenced sextet, New World Spirit, recording a number of Grammy-nominated albums....

Article

Dave Laing

(b Cardiff, Jan 8, 1937). Welsh pop singer. With a booming yet imperious contralto and an arresting stage presence, Shirley Bassey was one of Britain’s most popular singers of show tunes and pop ballads during the 1950s and 60s. Her forte was the melodramatic ballad, usually taken from a successful musical play or popular film. Thus, early in her career Bassey made hit recordings of ‘As long as he needs me’ (from Bart’s Oliver!) and ‘Climb ev’ry mountain’ (from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music). One of the songs most associated with her was a contrasting showstopper, the brassy, up-tempo ‘Big Spender’ from Coleman’s 1966 musical Sweet Charity. In the cinema, Bassey was chosen to perform three of John Barry’s themes from the James Bond film series: Goldfinger (1964; lyrics by L. Bricusse and A. Newley), Diamonds Are Forever (1972; lyrics by D. Black) and ...

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Ian MacDonald

English pop group. Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey; b Liverpool, July 7, 1940; drums, voice), John Lennon (John Winston Lennon; b Liverpool, 9 Oct 1940; d New York, 8 Dec 1980; rhythm guitar, keyboards, harmonica, voice), Paul McCartney (James Paul McCartney; b Liverpool, 18 June 1942; bass guitar, keyboards, lead guitar, drums, voice), George Harrison (b Liverpool, 25 Feb 1943; d Los Angeles, 29 Nov 2001; lead guitar, sitār, keyboards, voice).

Originating in Liverpool, the Beatles evolved from an amateur teenage skiffle group, the Quarry Men, formed by Lennon in 1956 and named after his school, Quarry Bank High. McCartney joined the Quarry Men in July 1957, Harrison in March 1958. In August 1960, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison – together with Stuart Sutcliffe (b Edinburgh, 23 June 1940; d Hamburg, 10 April 1962; bass guitar), and Pete Best (b Madras, 24 Nov 1941; drums) – became the Beatles. Between then and ...

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Walter Everett

English pop group. George Harrison (b Liverpool, England, Feb 25, 1943; d Los Angeles, Nov 29, 2001), John Lennon (John Winston (Ono) Lennon; b Liverpool, Oct 9, 1940; d New York, Dec 8, 1980), Paul McCartney (James Paul McCartney; b Liverpool, June 18, 1942), and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey; b July 7, 1940). They were the world’s most popular musical force from 1964 through their 1970 break-up, and their legacy has continued to be highly influential for subsequent artists, the entertainment industry, baby-boom culture and beyond. This article outlines the inspiration taken by the Beatles from American sources, and the group’s appearances and reception in America; for a general introduction to their career and extensive bibliography, see Grove7.

Whereas the Beatles’ early sound was partly based on British folk and popular forms—including skiffle and music-hall styles—American rock ’n’ roll was by far their dominant resource. The group began by covering, and then borrowing stylistic traits from American performers, principally Elvis Presley (particularly his expressive vocal embellishments), Chuck Berry (reciting-tone vocals with witty rhymes, extended guitar sonorities, rhythm chording, melodic blues riffs, and bass ostinati), Little Richard (vocal falsetto and bluesy pentatonicism), Bo Diddley (mixolydian chords, direct simplicity), Carl Perkins (rockabilly picking), Jerry Lee Lewis (keyboard pounding, raw energy), Buddy Holly (major-mode melody), and the Everly Brothers (descant vocal arrangements). In the few years surrounding the late-1962 launch of their recording career, the group drew variously from American male R&B figures (the Isley Brothers, the Coasters, the Drifters, Larry Williams, Arthur Alexander, Barrett Strong, the Miracles), female vocal groups (the Teddy Bears, the Shirelles, the Marvelettes, the Cookies) and pop singers (Del Shannon, Roy Orbison). Many traits taken from these sources remained at the musicians’ core even as they continued to borrow American ideas: the group used Caribbean models for their first two B-sides, and based their fourth single, “She Loves You”/“I’ll Get You,” (...

Article

Susan Fast

(b Wallington, Surrey, June 24, 1944). English blues-rock guitarist. Along with Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, he pioneered hard-rock and heavy-metal guitar playing. He played with the Yardbirds, the (1965–7), then created the Jeff Beck Group, which went through several personnel changes, the earliest including Rod Stewart (vocals) and Ron Wood (bass). The album Truth (Columbia, 1968), made with this line-up, is important as an extension of the heavy-rock sound formulated by Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience and taken further by Led Zeppelin, to whose first album, released in the following year, it has often been compared. In 1973, Beck also formed a trio with drummer Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert who released one album in 1973. He then produced two instrumental albums, Blow By Blow (Epic, 1975) and Wired (Epic, 1976), in which his solo playing was the focus. They were commercial successes despite there being no vocalist, a rarity in rock records. Both albums were produced by George Martin and with them, Beck moved into a jazz-rock style....

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Todd Decker

[Kubelsky, Benjamin ]

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 14, 1894; d Beverly Hills, CA, Dec 26, 1974). American Entertainer, actor, and violinist. The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Lithuania, he began playing violin at age six and was considered a local prodigy. By age 17 he was playing in vaudeville pit orchestras and soon moved onto the stage. Benny paired up with a pianist—initially Cora Salisbury, then Lyman Wood—in his signature musical act of this time, “From Grand Opera to Ragtime.” After brief service in the US Navy during World War I, Benny returned to vaudeville as a single in an act emphasizing comedy over music. He married Mary Livingstone (Sadye Marks) in 1927. She was an integral part of Benny’s act for most of his career. Although a movie contract with MGM in 1929 led nowhere, Benny found his true medium on radio. His first radio appearance came on ...

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Craig A. Lockard

(b Vienna, Austria, May 2, 1924). American and Israeli actor and singer. Born into a Jewish family, he spent his youth in Austria. Following the Nazi occupation the Bikel family escaped to Palestine, where he made his stage debut in 1943. Moving to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he began his acting career in 1948 in A Streetcar Named Desire. In 1954 he immigrated to the United States and, in 1961, became a naturalized American. He made his concert debut at Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, in 1956 with a program of folk songs. In 1959 he was cast as Georg von Trapp in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. During his long career Bikel has appeared in numerous films, plays, and musicals, from the lead in Zorba to over 2000 performances as the penniless milkman Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof...

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Leonidas Economou

(b Athens, Greece, Dec 11, 1922; d Athens, April 7, 2005). Greek singer and composer. He began his career as a laïko composer and bouzouki soloist and sang only occasionally. He made his first great hit as a singer in 1956, with a song by Manos Hadjidakis, but he became widely known in the early 1960s when Mikis Theodorakis chose him as the main interpreter of some of his most important works. His career peaked between 1960 and 1974. He became the most important male voice of the entechno laïko song, performing a great number of songs of all the composers of this genre. He also recorded new influential versions of classic rebetika and many laïko and elafrolaïko hits (often his own compositions). His timid acceptance of the Junta regime blemished his image and, due also to the deterioration of his voice, his career declined and he made only a few recordings after ...