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Article

Randolph Love

(b Edgard, LA, Dec 24, 1920). American Trumpeter, arranger, producer, songwriter, bandleader, and singer. He started his career as a trumpeter playing with established bands led by, among others, Papa Celestin, Joe Robichaux, and Claiborne Williams before joining Fats Pichon’s ensemble, considered one of the top groups in New Orleans, in 1939. During World War II he played in the 196th AGF (Army Ground Forces) Band, where he met Abraham Malone, who taught him how to write and arrange. After the war, he formed his own band in New Orleans, which made its debut at the Dew Drop Inn and later performed at Sam Simoneaux’s club Graystone where many of the city’s top instrumental players, including the drummer Earl Palmer and the saxophonists Lee Allen and Red Tyler, were showcased.

Bartholomew is best known for his talents as an arranger and songwriter. In the 1950s and 60s he worked with many of the biggest stars of the day, including Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Shirley and Lee, and Joe Turner. By the 1970s he had associations with some of rock and roll’s most established talents, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. His most productive association was with fats Domino, whom he met through Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records, where he worked as a house arranger, an A&R man and an in-house bandleader. From ...

Article

Beck  

Rob Jovanovic

[Campbell, Bek David; Hansen, Beck]

(b Los Angeles, CA, July 8, 1970). American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer. He has recorded and performed songs in a wide range of genres including folk, country, bluegrass, grunge, indie, metal, rock, lounge, Latino, and noise. An obvious contributing factor to his eclectic tastes is his artistic and performer-laden family. His father David Campbell is a string player and arranger who has worked on string parts for some of his son’s more recent albums. His mother Bibbe Hansen worked with Andy Warhol at the artist’s studio the Factory in New York at an early age and was involved in the west coast punk scene during the 1980s. His grandfather Al Hansen was an artist and performer involved in the Fluxus movement. Beck grew up around rockers and in various ethnic neighborhoods which all contributed to his music education. After spending time at the end of the 1980s involved with New York’s anti-folk scene he returned west and began performing as often and wherever he could. These gigs involved him using a leaf-blower on stage, telling stories, setting fire to his acoustic guitar, and rocking out with a boom-box backing tape. His breakthrough came in ...

Article

Olivia Carter Mather

[Joseph Henry]

(b St. Louis, MO, Jan 14, 1948). American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer. Best known for his work as a record producer in the 1990s and 2000s, he began his career as a rock musician, hired by Bob Dylan in 1975 for his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. In the late 1970s Burnett formed the Alpha Band and recorded three albums before launching his solo career. Burnett’s solo material was critically acclaimed—he was named Songwriter of the Year by Rolling Stone in 1983—but commercially unsuccessful. He has continued to record solo albums intermittently into the 2000s, but his main work since the mid-1980s has been production.

Burnett’s credits span a wide range of genres with an emphasis on singer-songwriters and Americana; he has recorded Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp, Gillian Welch, B.B. King, the Counting Crows, Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Bruce Cockburn, Willie Nelson, Robert Randolph, and Sam(uel Cornelius) Phillips...

Article

Randolph Love

[Cale, John Wheldon; Cale, J.J.]

(b Oklahoma City, OK, Dec 5, 1938). American Guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and engineer. He began his career playing in clubs in Tulsa and joined Gene Crose’s band in 1957. He made some of his first recordings when his own band, Johnnie Cale and the Valentines, worked as a backing group to Al Sweatt. By 1958 his band had become the Johnny Cale Quintette and it was with this group that he made his first recording under his own name, “Purple Onion.” A big break came in 1965 when Snuff Garrett of Amigo Studio hired him to be a recording engineer. Around this time Elmer Valentine, who owned the club Whiskey a Go-Go in Los Angeles, suggested that Cale use the stage name JJ Cale. In 1966 he began songwriting and in 1969 was signed by Denny Cordell and Leon Russell to Shelter Records.

Cale’s success as a singer and songwriter came shortly after Eric Clapton covered his song “After Midnight.” The top-20 success of “After Midnight” and later “Cocaine” and “Travelin’ Light” began a relationship between Cale and Clapton which has lasted into the 21st century and produced the Grammy-winning album ...

Article

Maya Gibson

(b Hartford, CT, Oct 11, 1964). American gospel music singer, songwriter, choral director, producer, and pianist. He taught himself to play piano by studying Edwin R. Hawkins’ award-winning album Let us Go into the House of the Lord (1968), which included the immensely popular single “Oh Happy Day.” He cites Walter Hawkins, James L. Cleveland, and Andraé Crouch as his earliest musical influences. He received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Connecticut. Later he was mentored by the classically trained gospel music director Richard Smallwood, who encouraged him to take on more varied musical styles in compositions. Carr joined Cleveland’s choir as a keyboard player in 1986 and quickly rose to become its music director. After Cleveland’s death in 1991, he began working with Crouch and later became Crouch’s music director. In 1991 he also formed the Kurt Carr Singers while working in Los Angeles. After the release of two moderately successful albums he attained widespread success with the album ...

Article

Lise Waxer

[Colón Román jr, William Anthony; ‘El malo’]

(b South Bronx, New York, April 28, 1950). American bandleader, composer, arranger, trombonist, popular singer, producer and actor. Dubbed ‘El malo’ (the ‘bad boy’) of salsa, he began playing the trumpet in 1963 with the teenage band the Dandees. Switching to trombone, he made his professional début at 17 with the album El malo (Fania, 1967). Both as a bandleader and a member of the Fania All-Stars, he quickly moved to the fore of the burgeoning New York salsa scene, cementing the raw, trombone-heavy ‘New York sound’ inspired by earlier artists such as Eddie Palmieri and Mon Rivera. Between 1967 and 1973 he made a series of important recordings with vocalist Hector Lavoe, which included the albums Asalto Navideño I and II (Fania, 1972 and 1973) with cuatro virtuoso Yomo Toro, where traditional Puerto Rican Christmas aguinaldos were fused with salsa. During his second period (...

Article

Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Angela Maria ]

(b Buffalo, NY, Sept 23, 1970). American folk singer-songwriter, guitarist, label owner, and political activist. She began performing music at local bars and busking at age nine. A fiercely independent spirit, she left home at 15 and lived with friends while she wrote and performed her music in the Buffalo area. By 19 she had written more than 100 songs and begun to build a devout grassroots following. In 1989 she founded Righteous Records (renamed Righteous Babe Records in 1994), an independent record label for which she has composed, performed, recorded, and produced all of her material. Since the late 1990s the label has released albums for other non-mainstream artists. DiFranco has also published two volumes of poetry: Self Evident: poesie e disegni (Rome, 2004) and Verses (New York, 2007).

DiFranco is a prolific lyricist whose songs communicate strong messages about gender, identity, social institutions, and politics, and address social issues including racism, homophobia, poverty, war, and reproductive rights. Much of her lyrical material is autobiographical and tackles topics including religion, relationships, motherhood, and sexuality. Her music is classified variously as folk rock, alternative rock, punk folk, and singer-songwriter folk. DiFranco has emerged as an icon of feminism and independent music making, and her career has featured solo albums, many compilations and collaborations, live albums, official bootleg releases, and an unrelenting concert calendar....

Article

Daniel Neely

(b Dublin, Ireland, Jan 21, 1971). American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer of Irish birth. Born into a musical family, he was influenced by his father, a singer, and grandfather, an accordionist. He formed the Chanting House with the singer Susan McKeown in 1989. In 1991 he followed McKeown to New York and in 1992 they expanded the group to include the multi-instrumentalist Séamus Egan and the fiddler Eileen Ivers. In 1994 Doyle joined a group with Egan and the fiddler Winifred Horan that in 1995 became Solas. The full group, which included the accordionist John Williams and the vocalist Karan Casey, released its first album, Solas (1996), and quickly became an important traditional Irish act. Doyle appeared on Solas’s first four records and was a sideman for many of its members’ side projects, both before and after leaving the group in 2000.

Doyle released his first solo album in ...

Article

Meredith Evans

[Germanotta, Stefani Joanne Angelina ]

(b New York, NY, March 28, 1986). American pop singer, songwriter, pianist, and producer. She studied music and piano from an early age and attended New York University’s Tchool of the Arts, withdrawing in her second year to pursue a performance career. After performing regularly in downtown New York clubs, Lady Gaga signed a recording contract with Streamline Records in 2007 and received an additional publishing deal with Sony/ATV. She moved to Los Angeles and released her debut album The Fame in 2008. It propelled her to stardom, selling over 12 million copies worldwide and becoming the first debut album with four number one singles on the Billboard charts: “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “Love Game,” and “Paparazzi.” In 2009, she released The Fame Monster, a compilation of re-released tracks from The Fame and new hits including “Bad Romance,” “Speechless,” and “Telephone,” featuring Beyoncé. Gaga is skilled at writing danceable hits with memorable choruses. Provocative music videos complicate her seemingly innocuous lyrics and challenge pop music conventions with shocking and disturbing imagery. Gaga’s vocals are full and powerful; she often sings with a rough or strained technique for emphatic effect. Theatrics and spectacle mark her live performances. Her excessively camp and sometimes androgynous fashions, onstage and off, disrupt mainstream conceptions of female beauty and have garnered significant media attention. Gaga’s ability to present pop music as both creative art form and mass entertainment has attracted diverse audiences and has differentiated her in contemporary pop culture....

Article

Rob Bowman

(b Covington, TN, Aug 20, 1942; d Memphis, Aug 10, 2008). American soul singer, keyboard player, songwriter and producer. He first recorded for the Memphis-based Youngstown label in 1962. In the first half of the 1960s Hayes also wrote songs and played sessions for the Goldwax and Phillips labels in Memphis, backing singers such as Jeb Stuart, Dorothy Williams and Spencer Wiggins. As a member of the saxophonist Floyd Newman's band, he eventually found his way into Stax where he co-wrote one side and played on both sides of Newman's solitary single in 1963. Hayes was then hired for a variety of Stax sessions to replace the keyboard player Booker T. Jones while Jones was at college. Soon thereafter Hayes began helping with arrangements and by 1965 had formed a songwriting partnership with lyricist David Porter. Hayes and Porter became the foremost writing and production team at Stax, creating seminal chart hits for artists such as Sam and Dave, the Charmells, Ruby Johnson, Mable John, Carla Thomas, the Soul Children and the Emotions. Their material leaned heavily on gospel roots, some songs, such as Sam and Dave's ...

Article

Lukas Pearse

[Johnson, James Ambrose ]

(b Buffalo, NY, Feb 1, 1948; d Burbank, CA, Aug 6, 2004). American Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. After growing up singing on street corners in Buffalo, New York, he fled to Toronto, Canada, to avoid the draft in 1964. Using the pseudonym Big Jimmie, he formed the group the Sailorboys with future members of Steppenwolf. The band changed its name to the Mynah Birds and released “Mynah Bird Hop/Mynah Bird Song” for Columbia Records Canada. After auditioning unsuccessfully in 1966 for Motown Records, the band re-formed, including Neil Young, and recorded an album. However, its release was canceled following disputes with their manager, who reported James absent without leave and he was briefly imprisoned.

James returned to Detroit, where he was hired by Motown Records as a songwriter and producer; he worked with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Spinners, and Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, before leaving in ...

Article

Lisa L. Rhodes

(Marie )

(b Wynnewood, PA, Sept 22, 1958). American Rock singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist. She spent several years in Rockville, Maryland, after which her family relocated to West Covina, California, when she was in her early teens. As an habitué of Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, she was exposed to glam rock music and musicians, notably Suzi Quatro, an early and profound influence. It was here, in 1975, that she met the producer Kim Fowley, as well as Sandy West and Cherie Currie, both of whom subsequently worked with Jett as members of the all-girl glam rock band Thomas Salway. The band’s other original members were Lita Ford and Jackie Fox. The group was signed to Mercury Records in 1976, and their first album, The Runaways, was released soon thereafter. They released three more albums, including Queens of Noise (1977), on that label. The group severed ties with Fowley in ...

Article

Lil Jon  

Patricia Moss

[Smith, Jonathan Mortimer ]

(b Atlanta, GA, Jan 27, 1971). American rapper, music producer, and DJ. As a prominent figure in popularizing the Atlanta based Dirty South movement, Lil Jon began making a name for himself as a producer with a talent for club remixes in the mid-1990s. In 1997, he formed his own group, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, which included fellow rappers Big Sam and Lil Bo. Their first album Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album, released in 1997, featured the sounds of the developing crunk genre, a style of music that originated in the mid- to late-1990s with the Memphis-based group Three 6 Mafia. General characteristics of crunk music include heavy basslines, shouting vocals often utilizing call and response, and drum machine rhythms. Unlike most hip hop, the focal point of crunk is the music and the beat rather than the lyrics. Crunk is more often associated with party music than with personal or socio-political concerns. Though Lil John did not invent crunk, he added much to it, including roaring synthesizer lines. Lil Jon’s ...

Article

Albin J. Zak III

(b Hull, QC, Sept 19, 1951). Canadian recording engineer, producer, guitarist, and singer-songwriter. Lanois began his career working with his brother, Bob, in a home studio in Ancaster, Ontario. The brothers later launched Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton, Ontario. Lanois’s early collaborations included such Canadian acts as Martha and the Muffins, the Parachute Club, and Raffi. In the early 1980s, Lanois began a fruitful partnership with Brian Eno. The two worked initially on Eno’s On Land (1982), and then collaborated with composer Harold Budd on The Pearl (1984).

The blend of Eno’s ambient sensibility and Lanois’s folk-rock leanings found its greatest commercial success in their long collaboration with the Irish band, U2, beginning with The Unforgettable Fire (1984) and including The Joshua Tree (1987), Achtung Baby (1991), All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000), and No Line On the Horizon...

Article

Gelsey Bell

[Arthur] (Morgan)

(b Richmond, VA, May 28, 1953). American songwriter, producer, guitarist, and vocalist, primarily active in Brazil and the United States. The son of American missionaries, Lindsay grew up in Brazil from the age of three and moved back to the United States when he was 18. In 1977, he started No Wave band DNA as the guitarist and singer. Included in Brian Eno’s famous 1978 No New York compilation, DNA was active until 1982. Lindsay played guitar with the Lounge Lizards from its beginning in 1979 until 1981. He was subsequently a founding member the Golden Palominos, led by drummer and composer Anton Fier, as a guitarist and singer, but left the group after their debut album in 1983. Known for his unconventional guitar playing, Lindsay is untrained and has developed his own techniques that do not involve chords, often focus on rhythm rather than harmony, utilize unique tunings, and are sometimes described collectively as “skronk.” Lindsay’s early vocal style is characterized by talk-singing, shouting, surreal lyrics, and glossolalia. In ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Pincus, Barry Alan ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 17, 1943). American Singer, composer, pianist, and producer. Manilow’s professional career began while he was a student at the Juilliard School. His first major assignment came in 1964, when he composed the score to a musical adaptation of The Drunkard. He was also a successful composer of advertising jingles, winning two Clio awards in 1976. By the late 1960s Manilow became the music director and conductor for numerous television programs while simultaneously performing a nightclub act in New York. Finding success as a performer and songwriter, he collaborated at this time with Bette Midler and also produced her first two albums. In the early 1970s Manilow started his own record company, Bell Records, which released his first album, Barry Manilow (Bell, 1973). His first successful single, “Mandy,” from Barry Manilow II (Bell, 1974) was followed by “I Write the Songs” (1975...

Article

Olivia Carter Mather

[Alvis Edgar ]

(b Sherman, TX, Aug 12, 1929; d Bakersfield, CA, March 25, 2006). American country musician and businessman. He is widely considered the central figure of the Bakersfield sound, and his dominance of the country charts in the 1960s challenged Nashville’s hegemony and bolstered the West Coast country scene in Bakersfield and Los Angeles. During the 1950s he worked as a guitarist and session player for several Bakersfield artists before signing with Capitol Records in 1957. In 1963 he began a streak of 14 consecutive number-one country hits with “Act Naturally,” which was later covered by the Beatles. Other hits included “Together Again” (1964), “I’ve got a tiger by the tail” (1965), and a cover of “Johnny B. Goode” (1969).

Owens’s songs eschewed themes of hard living and rambling for a portrayal of the male subject as a lonely victim of romance. With his backing band, the Buckaroos, he developed a bright, driving sound which he described as a freight train feel: heavy bass and drums accompanying two Fender Telecaster electric guitars played by Owens and the guitarist Don Rich. The twangy Telecaster sound and high, close harmony of Owens and Rich characterized many of his recordings. The Buckaroos both toured and recorded with Owens, a contrast to country norms. Owens thus established an alternative to the popular “countrypolitan” sound produced in Nashville (he also never joined the “Grand Ole Opry”); in doing so he inspired such country-rock musicians as Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He also marketed himself as a hard-country artist free of pop influence; in ...

Article

Prince  

Charlie Furniss

[Nelson, Prince Rogers; The Artist Formerly Known As Prince; TAFKAP]

(b Minneapolis, 7 June 1958; d Chanhassen, MN, 21 April 2016). American rock and pop singer, instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. As a teenager he began playing the guitar, drums, and piano and formed his first band while still at school. Over the next few years he made a number of recordings and became acquainted with studio production skills. In 1977 he signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records that allowed him complete creative freedom, which at the time was almost unprecedented among black solo artists. His first album For You (1978) failed to enter the charts, but Prince (1979) fared a little better and contained the hit ‘I Wanna be your Lover’. Around this time he formed his first touring band which established his precedent for using black, white, male, and female musicians. His third album Dirty Mind (1980) lost much radio airplay owing to its sexually explicit themes and it was not until ...

Article

Andrew Flory

(Brockman, Jr. )

(b Tuskegee, AL, June 20, 1949). American Rhythm-and-blues and pop singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer. He attended Tuskegee Institute as an economics major, where he helped to form the Commodores, the during the late 1960s. Richie broke from the group in 1981 to start a solo career, remaining with Motown Records until 1992. As a member of the Commodores, Richie played saxophone on upbeat numbers, and often performed as vocalist and pianist on ballads. He became known for composing sentimental ballads that featured emotive vocal performances, such as “Easy” (1977), “Three Times a Lady” (1978), and “Still” (1979). Richie branched out from the Commodores in the early 1980s, working with pop-country singer Kenny Rogers, for whom he wrote and produced the hit “Lady” (1980), and Diana Ross, with whom he performed his song “Endless Love” (1981) as a duet that reached the top of both the pop and black singles charts. He left the Commodores after recording the ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Bridges, Claude Russell]

(b Lawton, OK, April 2, 1942; d Nashville, Nov 10, 2016). American singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and producer. He is well respected for his solo work—a mix of rock, folk, and country music—but his work as a session musician also brought significant recognition. He began playing piano at the age of four and was playing in clubs in Tulsa as a high school student. His band, the Starlighters, managed to score a spot as the opening act for Jerry Lee Lewis in 1959. Russell moved to Los Angeles the same year and quickly established himself as a session musician, notably with the Wrecking Crew the group of musicians Phil Spector used to accompany his artists. With the Wrecking Crew, the accompanied artists such as the Byrds, Herb Alpert, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The keyboard player on hundreds of recordings, he opened his own recording studio in ...