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Mark Tucker

[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...


Michael J. Budds

(b Kansas City, MO, May 12, 1928). American composer and pianist. He learnt the cello, drums and piano from an early age and developed a particular interest in jazz. He played as a night club pianist, and then served in the army, touring as a pianist (1950–52). He went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music, New York, the New School of Social Research, McGill University, Montreal and gained a scholarship to the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California. His composition teachers included Milhaud, Martinů and Cowell. Bacharach became an accompanist for Vic Damone, subsequently working with such performers as Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart, to whom he was married from 1953 to 1958. From 1958 to 1961 he toured internationally with Marlene Dietrich. Bacharach began writing arrangements and composing songs in the mid-1950s, working at the Brill Building and collaborating with the lyricist Hal David (...


Chadwick Jenkins

(b Lisle, IL, Nov 8, 1955). American singer, pianist, composer, and bandleader. Her father played with the Glenn Miller band and her mother was a professional blues singer. After studying psychology and classical piano at the University of Iowa, Barber returned to Chicago and began playing five nights a week at the Gold Star Sardine Bar, where she attracted varying critical attention for her husky voice and the inclusion of pop songs, including “Black Magic Woman” and “A Taste of Honey,” in her repertoire. She recorded her first album, Split (Floyd), in 1989 and her second album, A Distortion of Love (Antilles) in 1991. She subsequently moved to the independent label Premonition, which was bought by Blue Note in 1998. In 2003 Barber became the first songwriter to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Under its aegis she composed a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She is the subject of a documentary, ...


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 ...


Bruce Johnson

(Emerson )

(b Melbourne, Australia, Jan 4, 1919; d Melbourne, Australia, June 17, 2008). Australian trumpeter, washboard player, composer, singer, and bandleader, brother of Graeme Bell. He first worked as a drummer, then in 1938 began to play cornet. Having worked in Melbourne with his brother at Leonard’s Café, he briefly led the band at Heidelberg Town Hall (1943), where he recorded with a visiting Max Kaminsky, before Graeme Bell returned from Queensland to take over the group’s leadership. He remained in Graeme’s dixieland groups during their European tours (1947–8, 1950–52), after which he worked with Max Collie (1953) and in the house band at the Melbourne Jazz Club (from 1958). Bell was active as a freelance musician and led his own band, the Pagan Pipers (a name he had used first in 1949), which with various personnel (notably Len Barnard and Ade Monsbourgh) performed and recorded for many years; among its recordings were a number of Bell’s own compositions. His playing may be heard to advantage on ...


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 ...


David Font-Navarrete

(b Gaston, NC, Aug 28, 1936; d Baltimore, May 16, 2012). American bandleader, singer, guitarist, and composer. He was a musical icon of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He was widely known as “The Godfather of Go-go” and renowned for his live performances, which emphasized continuous, percussion-driven grooves and audience participation, all staples of the Go-go genre he developed in the 1970s. Brown’s early years were marked by poverty and crime, and he first developed his guitar playing while incarcerated at the Lorton Penitentiary. With his band the Soul Searchers, Brown developed a distinctive sound that is grounded in funk and soul, but also heavily influenced by jazz and Latin genres. His hit songs include “Bustin’ Loose,” “We Need Some Money,” and “Go-Go Swing.” In 1992, Brown recorded The Other Side with vocalist Eva Cassidy, a critically-acclaimed album of jazz and blues material. He received a NARAS Governors Award and an NEA Lifetime Heritage Fellowship Award, and continued to record and perform regularly until his death in ...


Sumanth Gopinath

(b Philadelphia, PA, March 2, 1943). American political activist and singer/songwriter. Despite severe poverty, Brown studied piano at an early age and began writing songs at 16. After a semester at Temple University, she left for Los Angeles, hoping to become a professional songwriter. She had an affair with a married white novelist, screenwriter, and songwriter, Jay Richard Kennedy, who encouraged her to embrace leftist politics and her black identity. She began performing with the support of Stanley Crouch, Horace Tapscott, and the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA), shortly before becoming closely involved with the Black Panther Party (BPP). Under Tapscott’s musical direction Brown recorded Seize the Time (1969, Vault Records), an extraordinary album that provided the name for Bobby Seale’s famous memoir of the BPP’s early years and became an underground classic. Its songs include musical manifestos, portraits of individuals she had known through her political activities, and a memorial for murdered BPP members Bunchy Carter and John Huggins (“Assassination”). Brown’s declamatory, theatrical singing style is highlighted in “The End of Silence,” which featured poignantly in William Klein’s film ...


David Brackett

(b Barnwell, SC, May 3, 1928; d Atlanta, Dec 25, 2006). American soul and funk singer, composer, arranger and bandleader. Born into extreme poverty in the rural South, he began his career as a professional musician in the early 1950s with the gospel-based group, the Flames. By 1956 the group had recorded the rhythm and blues hit Please, Please, Please (Federal, 1956) and changed their name to James Brown and the Famous Flames. This early recording established what was to become a stylistic trademark: insistent repetition of a single phrase (in this case, the song's title) resulting in a kind of ecstatic trance. This approach and Brown's characteristic raspy vocal timbre and impassioned melismas display his debt to the black American gospel tradition. His stage shows, dancing and inspired call-and-response interactions with the audience also convey the fervour of a sanctified preacher.

The first decade of Brown's recording career saw him alternating energetic dance numbers such as ...


Mark Gilbert

[John Symon Asher ]

(b Bishopbriggs, Scotland, May 14, 1943; d Suffolk, October 25, 2014). Scottish bass player, singer, and composer. Having studied for three months at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow he moved to London, where he played with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated (late 1962 – early 1963) and then formed a group with Graham Bond, John McLaughlin, and the drummer Ginger Baker; this became known as the Graham Bond Organisation after McLaughlin left and Dick Heckstall-Smith joined. Bruce arrived in London as a jazz purist and had at first played double bass, but after using an electric bass guitar for a recording session with Ernest Ranglin in 1964 he transferred to that instrument and studied the mobile, melodic style of the Motown house bass player James Jamerson. The following year Bruce left Bond’s band because Baker felt that his bass playing was too busy and joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. He is best known as the bass guitarist, singer, and principal composer with the highly successful blues and rock group Cream (...


Gerard Béhague


(b Rio de Janeiro, June 19, 1944). Brazilian composer and singer-songwriter. The son of a prominent historian and intellectual, he began studying architecture at the University of São Paulo in 1963 but decided soon after to pursue a career in popular music. Although he was a great admirer of the bossa nova musician João Gilberto, his first hits, Pedro Pedreiro and Sonho de um Carnaval (both recorded in 1965), as well as Olê Olá, revealed innovative talents. The first piece is an early expression of his concern for and subsequent criticism of some of Brazil's urban social problems. The well-known poet-diplomat Vinicius de Morais, a family friend and fundamental figure of the bossa nova movement, exerted a strong influence on Buarque's music and poetry. Indeed the ‘master of the language’, as Jobim characterized him, went on to produce some of the most sophisticated popular songs of his generation, both poetically and musically. In ...


Jonas Westover


(b Huntington, NY, March 27, 1970). American singer, composer, producer, and actress. She is one of the top-selling artists of all time, a star in R&B and pop who sold, according to some estimates, more than 200 million albums during the 1990s and 2000s. She learned to sing as a child from her mother, an opera singer and vocal coach. While in high school she sang backing vocals for other artists and developed her own compositional style. She moved to New York in the mid-1980s and became a backing singer for Brenda K. Starr. The record company executive Tommy Mottola sought out Carey after hearing her voice on a demo tape. He immediately offered her a recording contract, resulting in her first album, Mariah Carey (1990); the two eventually married. Carey wrote or co-wrote a significant portion of the music on her first album and insisted on maintaining a degree of control over its production. Both of these elements have become her standard practice, and she is one of the few major pop artists to compose much of her own material. ...


Mark C. Samples

(Norman )

(b Montreal, QC, Sept 21, 1934). Canadian songwriter, singer, poet, and novelist. He was born into an upper-middle class, observant Jewish family. His first career was as a poet, for which he studied at McGill and Columbia universities. He published several novels and collections of poetry in the 1950s and 60s, working in London, on the Greek island of Hydra, and in Montreal. While in New York he was exposed to the Beat poets’ practice of reading poetry accompanied by a jazz performance, which he brought with him when he returned to Montreal. Although Cohen gained critical acclaim as a poet, he found it difficult to support himself. He turned to music more seriously in 1966, seeking to reach a broader audience and a new source of income. His first musical ally was Judy Collins, who recorded several of his songs, beginning with “Suzanne.” In 1968 he released his first album, ...


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 (...


Dave Laing

(b Los Angeles, March 15, 1947). American guitarist, singer and composer. He began playing the guitar at the age of three. He formed the Rising Sons with the blues revivalist Taj Mahal (1965–6) and for a short time joined Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band (1967). He also worked as a session musician with such groups as the Rolling Stones (Let it Bleed, 1969) and Little Feat (Little Feat, 1971). His first albums as a leader, Ry Cooder (1970) and Into the Purple Valley (1971) showed him to be a keen student of several American traditional music forms including blues and early country music. His attempt to redraw the map of American music continued in recordings with the gospel and falsetto singers Bobby King and Terry Evans which appeared on Bop till You Drop (1979...


J. Ryan Bodiford

(b New York, NY, July 30, 1971). American singer, composer, actor, and activist of Puerto Rican descent. Known to his fans as the King of Merengue, he has achieved international recognition for his self-styled brand of urban merengue fusion, which incorporates influences from Latin American genres like samba, salsa, and bomba, while also employing slick pop production techniques and hip-hop aesthetics. Romantic lyrical sentiments and attention to fashion further characterize his professional approach.

Crespo was raised primarily in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. His career began when he was 17 when he joined the Willie Berríos Orchestra in San Juan; however, his major breakthrough came in 1995 when he joined the established Puerto Rican merengue group, Manía. Helping to infuse Manía’s sound with more of a hip-hop edge, Crespo wrote two of the group’s biggest hits, “Linda eh” and “Ojitos bellos.” After three years gaining recognition with the group, he went solo in ...


Thomas Goldsmith

(b Cullman, AL, Feb 16, 1961). American bluegrass singer, songwriter, and mandolinist. His uncle Cleo Davis was a founder member of Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. While enjoying and playing the Southern rock sounds of his teen years, he fell under the spell of acoustic music when listening to his father, Ledell, and other family members picking and singing. He began playing guitar and around the age of 20 moved to mandolin. He survived and prevailed after being soundly criticized for his playing at a Nashville session by Monroe, who took Davis’s mandolin to show him how it should be done. After joining Garry Thurmond and the Warrior River Boys in 1983, he took over leadership of the group in the mid-1980s after Thurmond left for health reasons. In subsequent years the group has built a steady touring and festival circuit and recorded albums for the labels Rounder and Rebel, moving toward more contemporary songs and styles from ...


Rich Kienzle

(Ray )

(b Plainview, TX, Aug 10, 1928; d Varina, VA, June 13, 2010). American singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. Despite achieving only a few hits, he played a pivotal role in advancing the prominence of country music on network television. Born into poverty in rural Texas, he learned piano with his mother. During postwar service in the US Air Force, he was stationed near Washington, DC. Following his discharge in 1948, he began performing in the region playing accordion with his band the Texas Wildcats. His first hit was “Bummin’ Around” (1952, Mer.). In 1955 he began hosting a local morning TV show, Town and Country Time. For a time Roy Clark was the Wildcats’ guitarist and banjoist with an unknown Patsy Cline a frequent guest. After joining CBS he hosted the morning show “Country Style” (1957) from Washington and the daytime program “The Jimmy Dean Show” (...


David Flanagan

(b Seattle, Feb 11, 1914; d Riverside, CA, June 21, 2002). American songwriter, arranger, pianist, and singer. His parents were vaudeville artists, and he learned piano from an early age. He played piano in Horace Heidt’s dance band in 1933, but for much of the 1930s worked in Hollywood as a nightclub singer and pianist and as a vocal coach for band singers. In the early 1940s he was composer and arranger for Tommy Dorsey and wrote a number of hit songs for the band which were performed by Frank Sinatra. During World War II he played briefly in Glenn Miller’s orchestra. Thereafter he worked principally as a nightclub entertainer, and issued some recordings under his own name, including Matt Dennis Plays and Sings (c1957, Kapp 1024). Dennis also arranged music for radio programs (1946–8), appeared in films and on television, and composed the song ...


Stephen Holden

revised by Gillian Turnbull

(b Brooklyn, NY, Jan 24, 1941). American Pop singer, songwriter, and composer. In the mid-1960s Diamond worked as a songwriter for various New York music publishers and in 1966 his composition “I’m a Believer” became a number one hit for the Monkees. The producers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich subsequently helped Diamond to gain a contract with Bang Records as a singer, and several of his songs recorded with them, which had a strong country inflection, reached the Top 20. He moved to California in 1966 and signed with Uni Records; on this label he achieved his first number one hit as a performer, “Cracklin’ Rosie” (1970). In 1972 he became the first pop-rock musician to present a concert production on Broadway. After he moved to Columbia Records in 1973, Diamond aspired to more ambitious projects, such as the soundtrack for the film Jonathan Livingston Seagull...