Cuban popular dance music ensemble. The Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon grew out of a recording session in 1996 put together by British record promoter Nick Gold, the American guitarist Ry Cooder, and the Cuban bandleader Juan de Marcos González. The ad hoc Cuban ensemble included musicians drawn from Cuba’s lively music scene along with a number of elderly musicians who had achieved success decades earlier. Together, they recorded a variety of Cuban musical forms, including son, bolero, guajira, and danzón, that were popular in the Havana nightclubs of 1940s and 50s, the so-called golden era of Cuban music. Targeted initially for a niche world music audience, the recording Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit, 1997) earned critical and commercial success, winning a Grammy and selling over eight million units. Helping to propel its remarkable popularity was a 1999 documentary film of the same name, directed by Wim Wenders, which followed the musicians recording a follow-up album in Havana and performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Leading to a boom in popularity for Cuban music worldwide, the brand was subsequently used to promote records and tours by the artists involved in the original recording session....
Mexican rock band. Saúl Hernández formed Caifanes in 1988 with Sabo Romo, Alfonso André, and Diego Herrera. Alejandro Marcovich joined later. Caifanes challenged the norms of mainstream Mexican rock music with their dark, somber music and by dressing in black, using makeup, and performing with disheveled hair. The band’s musical style and their appearance was at first a liability, initially preventing them from landing a record deal. They caught a break when they were invited to open for Argentinean singer Miguel Mateos and impressed his producer. This exposure and the need for Mexican labels to sign bands to compete with Argentine and Spanish bands contributed to their signing a recording contract. Their first album quieted previous doubts with strong sales. They have since been recognized as a key component in the Rock en tu Idioma (Rock in Your Language) movement and in Mexican rock not only for their commercial success but also for their musical ability. Caifanes separated in ...
Puerto Rican hip-hop duo. It comprises the step-brothers Residente (René Pérez Joglar; b Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, 23 Feb 1978; vocals) and Visitante (Eduardo José Cabra Martínez; b Santurce, Puerto Rico, 10 Sept 1978; production). Their music is characterized by Residente’s spry, acid-tongued delivery and Visitante’s diverse sonic palette, which combines synthesizers, samples, and live instrumentation and draws from a variety of genres including reggaeton, cumbia, and electro. The group hails from San Juan and is named after the street on which Residente grew up. Before their debut album, they garnered attention with “Querido F.B.I.,” a blistering critique of the assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, the leader of the Puerto Rican pro-independence movement. Distributed freely over the Internet, the song made Calle 13 a household name in Puerto Rico. Brimming with sarcasm and satire, Calle 13 initially posed as an alternative reggaeton group working within as they subverted the genre’s conventions; in subsequent years they distanced themselves from that genre, preferring the broader label ...
[The Original Gospel Caravans]
African American gospel ensemble founded in Chicago by ALBERTINA WALKER in 1952. Inez Andrews, Shirley Caesar, Cassietta George, Bessie Griffin, and Dorothy Norwood comprised the classic Caravans group. The Caravans’ distinction was found in its members’ individual and ensemble proficiency. Their hit songs included “Mary, Don’t You Weep,” “Lord, Don’t Move this Mountain” (Andrews as soloist), “Somebody Bigger Than You and I” (George), and “Sweeping Through the City” (Caesar). The Caravans disbanded in late ...
Norteña-music duo. The accordionist Carlos Tierranegra and bajo sexto player José Rodríguez came together in 1968 to form Carlos y José in the northern Mexican town of General Terán, Nuevo León. They were part of a trend of música norteña groups that featured these instruments and dueto (duo) vocal harmonies at their core that were distinctive to the region. The style was popularized some 20 years earlier through recordings by Los Alegres de Terán. Carlos y José are contemporaries of other well known duetos from Nuevo León, such as Luis y Julian and El Palomo y El Gorrión that feature close harmonies, typically in minor thirds, with the second, much higher voice sounding a nasalized whine. More popular música norteña groups like Los Tigres del Norte have adopted this singing style and the local western attire. Carlos y José lasted more than 30 years and made more than 80 recordings. They were known for writing their own ...
Duo formed by Karen (Anne) Carpenter (b New Haven, CT, 2 March 1950; d Downey, CA, 4 Feb 1983) and her brother Richard (Lynn) Carpenter (b New Haven, CT, 2 March 1950). They were the top-selling group of the 1970s. The two siblings played together in a jazz trio in 1965; they added more members and took the name Spectrum, before disbanding in 1968. They subsequently began playing as a duo and their demo tape convinced Herb Alpert of A&M Records to sign them. Their first album was Offering (1969), but it was their second, Close to You (1970), that brought them tremendous fame: it was nominated for eight Grammys, and the group won two, including Best New Artist. Known primarily for their squeaky-clean image and their soft, lyrical melodies, the group flourished in a contemporary, adult-oriented folk-pop idiom. Several albums followed, including ...
Rock group formed in Massachusetts in 1976. Its principal members were Ric Ocasek (Richard Otcasek; b Baltimore, MD, 1949; singer and guitarist), Ben Orr (Benjamin Orzechowski; b Lakeland, OH, 1947; d 2000; singer and bass guitarist), Elliot Easton (Shapiro; b Brooklyn, NY, 1953; guitarist), Greg(ory) Hawkes (b Arlington, VA, 1952; keyboard player); and David Robinson (b Woburn, MA, 1949; drummer). Ocasek, the group’s main writer, and Orr worked together in various groups from the late 1960s. Ocasek had been playing guitar since the age of ten; Orr had worked on a rock television program, “Upbeat,” in Cleveland as a teenager and was later a producer and studio musician. The two recorded an album in 1972 as part of a folk trio called Milkwood, and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they played in several other groups. They were joined by Hawkes, who had played keyboards in Milkwood’s backup group; Robinson, who had been the drummer for the Modern Lovers; and Easton. Their first album (...
Ronald M. Radano
Popular dance band. It was one of the first white swing bands to adopt a black big-band sound and to introduce this sound to a wide audience. The sophistication of the arrangements written for the band by Gene Gifford and the technical mastery of its ensemble playing made the Casa Loma a model for many later swing orchestras. It made its initial appearances in Detroit in 1927 as the Orange Blossoms, an offshoot of Jean Goldkette’s band. It acquired several new members during the next three years and was organized into a corporate ensemble with Glen Gray as its president. In 1929 it appeared at the Roseland Ballroom in New York as the Casa Loma Orchestra and made its first recording with OKeh. The band experienced its greatest success during the years 1930 to 1935, recording for Brunswick, Victor, and Decca, scoring high on popularity polls, and attracting a large following, particularly among college audiences; in the period ...
M. Montgomery Wolf
[CBGB; Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers]
Nightclub founded by Hilly Kristal in New York in December 1973. It was located below the Palace Hotel, a flophouse on the Bowery in a rough and rundown section of the city. Following his own tastes, Kristal intended to host mostly acoustic Americana, but a few months later, the guitarist Tom Verlaine convinced Kristal to let his band Television play there. The club became a rare site of original rock in an era favoring either folk clubs or arena rock. It also became the physical center for the New York punk scene, which was emerging at the time, allowing Patti Smith, Blondie, the Ramones, and Talking Heads, among others, to hone their craft. Despite its dark, dirty interior, famously squalid bathrooms, and dangerous neighborhood, musicians loved CBGB for its fabulous sound system. By 1975 it had demonstrated the viability of original rock, and Max’s Kansas City, another club in New York, began booking local, unsigned acts. Max’s and CBGB remained the principal venues in New York for punk rock through ...
Jay W. Junker
Hawaiian rock duo. With their long hair, beards, jeans, palaka shirts, and puka shell necklaces, Cecilio and Kapono (better known as C&K) were the archetypal Hawaii hippie musicians in the 1970s. Their melodic, hook-based music played mainly on acoustic instruments related well to Hawaiian music and resonated with pop audiences. They created a template still used by many island artists, such as John Cruz and Jack Johnson.
Kapono (Henry Kapono Ka`aihue), from Kapahulu, Hawaii, and Cecilio (Cecilio David Rodriguez), from Santa Barbara, California, met on Oahu’s North Shore in 1973. Mutual interest in Crosby, Stills and Nash, Stevie Wonder, and Hall and Oates motivated them to perform together, first covers and then originals. Their typical arrangements allowed both voices to weave countermelodies around a catchy tune and a strong beat.
After establishing themselves as a top club act in Honolulu, they played the Troubadour in Los Angeles and signed with Columbia. Their eponymous debut in ...
Benjamin J. Harbert
Publishing company. It was founded in 1953 by Grand Ole Opry manager Jim Denny and performer Webb Pierce. It was one of the original Nashville music publishing companies, competing with Acuff-Rose and Tree. Along with the Grand Ole Opry, these companies contributed to the initial consolidation of the country music industry. Its building was located on 7th Avenue across the street from the studio of Owen Bradley, a legendary local producer. With Bradley and an association with Decca Records, Cedarwood quickly surpassed Acuff-Rose as the premiere Nashville publishing house. Songs published under the Cedarwood name formed the repertoire of the Nashville country music industry; significant recorded works included “The Long Black Veil” by Lefty Frizzell, “So Wrong” by Patsy Cline, “Detroit City” by Bobby Bare, “Daddy Sang Bass” by Johnny Cash, and “The Comeback” by Faron Young. Other notable songwriters whose work was published by Cedarwood include Marijohn Wilkin, Buddy Holly, Danny Dill, Cindy Walker, Ronnie Self, and John D. Loudermilk. In the mid-1960s, Cedarwood began to develop its religious music catalog. Co-founder Denny died in ...
Edgardo Díaz Díaz
Puerto Rican dance band. Founded by Cayetano Cesar Concepción Martínez (1909–74), it first performed on 14 June 1947, alongside Noro Morales’ orchestra at the New Yorker Club in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its lineup consisted of three trumpets, three saxophones or clarinets, and a rhythm section (piano, bass, timbales, conga, and bongos), as well as a singer who alternated slow boleros with faster guaracha-like genres. Boleros were arranged in a strophic format, with lyrics in the charge of the bolerista, or bolero singer, and Concepción performing solo melodies on trumpet during introductory and inner instrumental sections. Between 1947 and 1954 Joe Valle (1921–80) was the orchestra’s main singer; he was considered to be among Puerto Rico’s most notable boleristas. The orchestra was best known for presenting its ballroom versions of the popular plena to affluent audiences. A lively sound otherwise played by arrabal and rural ...
Soul vocal group. It was formed in Chicago by Eugene Record, Creadel Jones, Robert Lester, Clarence Johnson, and Marshall Thompson. By 1964 the group had begun to release singles, settled on their Chicago-based name, and become a quartet following Johnson’s departure. Record emerged as the group’s lead singer, principal songwriter, and producer, and they achieved their first hit on the soul chart with “Give it away” (Bruns., 1969). Subsequent singles found crossover success on the pop chart, including “Have you seen her” (Bruns., 1971) and “Oh Girl” (Bruns., 1972), which reached number one. The first of these was characterized by a sweet, mellow production sound and concise, smooth vocal harmonies, but the group’s repertory was not restricted to love ballads: for example, “Give more power to the people” (1971) adeptly addresses social problems. The group’s music has been sampled frequently, notably the riff from “Are you my woman (tell me so)” (Bruns., ...
American rock group. It was formed in 1967 as the Big Thing, renamed Chicago Transit Authority the following year, and Chicago in 1970. Its original members included Peter Cetera (b Chicago, IL, 13 Sept 1944; bass guitar and vocals), Terry Kath (b Chicago, 31 Jan 1946; d Los Angeles, CA, 23 Jan 1978; guitar and vocals), Robert Lamm (b Brooklyn, NY, 13 Oct 1944; keyboards and vocals), Danny Seraphine (b Chicago, 28 Aug 1948; drums), Walter Parazaider (b Chicago, 14 March 1945; clarinet and saxophone), Lee Laughnane (b Chicago, 21 Oct 1946; trumpet), and James Pankow (b St. Louis, 20 Aug 1947; trombone).
Chicago was conceived as a rock band with a horn section and its early work was musically experimental and emphatically countercultural. The band identified itself as a collective with no individual personality standing out; lead vocals were shared among several members and album covers featured only the band’s logo. Their lengthy songs contained extended instrumental passages, and nearly all of their first seven albums were released as double LPs. Signature early tracks include “Beginnings,” “25 or 6 to 4,” and “Color My World,” which was popular on FM and college radio. By the mid-1970s, however, the band’s profile was slick, urbane, and polished, with radio hits comprising Cetera’s romantic love ballads, notably “Baby What a Big Surprise.”...
Charles K. Wolfe
revised by Stephen Shearon
American western and gospel group. One of the longest-lived and best known white gospel quartets in history, they developed a sound marked by simple, straightforward harmonies sung directly from convention songbooks, often with guitar accompaniment. Dad (David Parker) Carter (b Milltown, KY, 25 Sept 1889; d Oklahoma City, OK, 28 April 1963; tenor) formed the group in 1935 in a desperate attempt to earn money to care for his sick child. With two of his oldest children, Jim (Ernest; b Tioga, TX, 10 Aug 1910; d 2 Feb 1971; bass) and Rose (Rosa Lola; b Noel, MO, 31 Dec 1915; d 13 May 1997), he auditioned for 250-watt radio station KFYO in Lubbock, Texas. After being hired, they received one week’s pay in advance, enough to purchase medical care for Anna (Effie; b Shannon, TX, 15 Feb 1917; d 5 March 2004; alto), who joined the group after recovering. Calling themselves the Carter Quartet, they sang western ballads, parlor songs, American and Irish folksongs, and some white gospel songs and quickly gained a following in the Lubbock area....
[John Henderson ]
(b Whitehaven, TN, April 8, 1931). American singer-songwriter, producer, publisher, and entrepreneur. He began playing bluegrass while in the military and after his discharge in 1952, played at radio stations in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Boston. While enrolled in Memphis State University (from 1954), he worked nights and weekends at the Eagle’s Nest club. After working briefly for Fernwood Records, he was hired by Sun Records, where he recorded Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, among others. He wrote hits for several of Sun’s artists, including Johnny Cash’s singles “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess things happen that way” (both Sun, 1958).
Clement left Sun in 1960 to became a staff producer for RCA in Nashville. In 1963 he moved to Texas, started a publishing company, and produced Dickey Lee’s hit “Patches” (Smash, 1963). After returning to Nashville in 1965, he discovered and produced Charlie Pride and wrote songs for a variety of country artists, including Pride (“Just between you and me,” RCA Victor, ...
Rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll vocal group formed in Washington, DC, in the late 1940s. Its original members were John “Buddy” Bailey, Matthew McQuarter, Harold “Hal” Lucas Jr., and Harold Winley (all vocals) and Bill Harris (guitar). They began recording for Atlantic Records in 1951; their first two releases, “Don’t you know I love you” and “Fool, Fool, Fool” (both Atl., 1951), reached number one on the rhythm-and-blues chart. The witty songs with which Atlantic’s staff writers provided them usually concerned hapless encounters with women or alcohol and prepared the way for the far more famous group Coasters, the. The Clovers continued to make successful recordings through the 1950s, but achieved mass popularity only with “Love Potion no. 9” (UA, 1959), which, ironically, imitated the Coasters’ style. Releases by such lesser known African American artists contributed to the rise in popularity of rock and roll in the 1950s. Although the Clovers produced mostly dance music, their harmonies were based not on jump blues but on gospel music and helped to lay the foundation for the emergence of soul music in the 1960s....
Guitar, mandolin, and ukulele manufacturer. It was founded in Houston, Texas, in 1976, by Bill Collings (b Aug 9, 1948; d Austin, TX, July 14, 2017), who had moved from Ohio to Texas following a failed attempt at medical school. After building a few guitars and some banjos, Collings moved to Austin in 1979. His background as a machinist led him to emphasize precise jigs and fixtures even when he was working out of a small single-car garage. Demand for Collings guitars, specifically for updated versions of Martin and Gibson flat-top styles from the 1930s, prompted his move to a 1,000-square-foot shop in 1989. Two woodworkers were hired, including Bruce Van Wart, who is still in charge of wood selection and top voicing on the firm’s acoustic guitars. By this time, production had increased to a level that allowed sales to a few retailers.
In late 1991 the company relocated to a much larger facility on the outskirts of Austin, and the number of Collings guitar models, and employees, began to grow. Bill Collings was one of the first flat-top guitar builders to offer fully carved arch-top models as well. These deluxe jazz guitars were quickly accepted as the equals of those from premier American builders, and they sold for similar prices; but only a few were completed each year. Collings was also one of the first small, independent guitar companies to incorporate CNC (computer numerical control) carving machines for building both guitar parts and the precise tooling to aid in their assembly, which is still done by hand. One of the signature differences between the Collings models and the Gibson and Martin originals that inspired them is that Collings uses an unglued bolted mortise and tenon neck joint, rather than a traditional dovetail....
Record company. Formed in 1958 by Columbia Pictures, Colpix originally aimed to market soundtracks and spin-off recordings of Columbia’s movies and Screen Gems’ (another Columbia subsidiary) television shows. Colpix’s catalog featured scores by such illustrious film composers as Bernard Herrmann and a young John Williams, although the company’s biggest movie-derived success came in 1962 with Maurice Jarre’s Oscar-winning score for Lawrence of Arabia. On the television side, the company’s focus was split between animated characters (the Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound), comedians (George Burns, Woody Allen), and comely young actors-turned-singers (Paul Petersen, Shelley Fabares, both from The Donna Reed Show). Other notable acts included the celebrated singer Nina Simone (at Colpix from 1959 to 1964) and the Marcels (“Blue Moon”). In late 1962 Colpix began to shift more attention toward the pop market, acquiring Aldon Music and, with it, the recording label Dimension and its crop of successful Brill Building pop songwriters. Yet this new direction did not yield much commercial interest, and Colpix folded in ...