(b Kalamazoo, MI, April 23, 1952). American drummer, producer, and composer. The drum major in his high school marching band, he majored in music for three semesters at Western Michigan University, and then joined a soul band from Fresno, California. After witnessing the Mahavishnu Orchestra in concert, he sought to learn from that band’s leader and guitarist, john McLaughlin. At 21 years of age, following lessons from McLaughlin, he played on Apocalypse as a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, replacing Billy Cobham. Propelled by the advice of his (and McLaughlin’s) guru Sri Chinmoy (who gave him the name “Narada,” meaning “supreme musician”) to “compete with himself,” Walden has maintained a highly successful and versatile career as a drummer and a producer, known equally for his work in each of these roles. He also contributed as a composer, vocalist, and percussionist to the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s 1976 album Inner Worlds...
Gareth Dylan Smith
(b Fly Summit, NY, Oct 24, 1889; d Little Neck, Queens, NY, Oct 15, 1963). American record producer and executive. He joined the Columbia Graphophone Company (later the Columbia Phonograph Company) in 1919 as secretary to the president of the firm and then learned the record manufacturing process. He left the company briefly to promote concerts for the Central Concert Company of Detroit, but returned in 1921 as Columbia’s A&R man in charge of the emerging race catalog and, shortly thereafter, also the hillbilly catalog. Like Ralph S. Peer, his counterpart at OKeh and later Victor, Walker was a pioneer of talent-scouting and field-recording expeditions in the American South; beginning in 1925, he arranged dozens of field-recording sessions, using portable recording equipment in southern cities including Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Memphis, and Johnson City, Tennessee. Walker supervised the recordings of many of Columbia’s blues and hillbilly stars of the 1920s, including Bessie Smith (whom he also managed), Clara Smith, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, and the Allen Brothers. Under Walker’s leadership, Columbia became the nation’s leading record label for blues and hillbilly music during the 1920s, and he eventually became a vice president of the company....
(b Orlinda, TN, Feb 16, 1924). American music administrator. She was the guiding hand behind the Country music association (CMA) for its first three decades, contributing significantly to the genre’s tremendous growth in the 1960s and 1970s. Born in the Black Patch tobacco-producing region of north-central Tennessee, she went to Nashville during World War II to work in the Vultee Aircraft plant and attend college. She held a number of administrative and public relations positions before accepting a job at the newly formed CMA in 1958, although she was not particularly familiar with country music and often joked about her lack of musical inclination. Walker-Meador became the organization’s sole employee in 1959, when its executive director Harry Stone was released owing to lack of funds. She soon became the public face of the CMA, single-handedly administering a complex public relations campaign that included organizing the annual banquet that would become the televised CMA Awards, coordinating a national series of benefit concerts, producing a monthly newsletter (...
revised by Anne Beetem Acker
Small analogue–digital hybrid synthesizer designed by Chris Huggett with rock musician Adrian Wagner and manufactured between 1978 and 1981 by their firm, Electronic Dream Plant (EDP), in Combe, near Oxford. The Wasp was also briefly available in kit form. This synthesizer has a two-octave, solid, monophonic ‘keyboard’ with pitch-bend and portamento controls; the diatonic keys, knobs, and lettering are yellow on a black background, to match the instrument’s name. For a real keyboard, it substitutes flat copper plates under a printed vinyl sticker. The conductive plates sense skin capacitance to trigger the associated pitches. The Wasp contains two oscillators, a white-noise generator, a filter, and an envelope shaper, and offers various voltage-controlled features, as well as a small built-in loud speaker and sockets for connecting to other EDP products. The circuitry incorporates a digital pitch-coding system which facilitates links with other devices, including microcomputers. In its shiny black plastic case and with batteries in place, the Wasp weighs only 1.8 kg (a deluxe version with wooden case and conventional keyboard is heavier but still easily portable). Although relatively inexpensive, small, and rather fragile, the Wasp was powerful and versatile for its time and developed an enduring following. EDP developed a still smaller model, the Gnat, with one oscillator and pulse width modulation, and the Caterpillar, a three-octave keyboard controller with four-voice polyphony. Other EDP creations included the Keytar, a guitar controller based on the Wasp, which was never produced, and a microcomputer-based 252-step sequencer called the Spider....
Member of Lloyd-Webber family
(b London, March 22, 1948). Composer and producer, son of William Lloyd Webber.
He was educated at Westminster School and the RCM. From an early age he wrote incidental music for shows with his toy theatre; at Westminster he wrote music for school revues. In the April of 1965 he met the lyricist Tim(othy Miles Bindon) Rice with whom he wrote the unperformed musical The Likes of Us and some pop songs. Their first success came with the commission to write a choral work for Colet Court School; the resulting pop cantata, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, was gradually extended to a full-length show and has become a constant of both amateur and professional repertories. They released the concept album for Jesus Christ Superstar (1970), which became one of the bestselling albums of that time in both the UK and USA; it was then developed for stage and opened in New York (...
Rock band. It formed in Los Angeles in 1992. Members of a lineup intact since 2001 include Rivers Cuomo (b New York, NY, 13 June 1970; lead vocals, guitar), Brian Bell (b Knoxville, TN, 9 Dec 1968; vocals, guitar), Scott Shriner (b Toledo, OH, 11 July 1965; bass guitar, vocals, keyboards), and Patrick Wilson (b Buffalo, NY, 1 Feb 1969; drums, vocals). Original guitarist Jason Cropper was replaced by Bell during the band’s early recording years; other past members include Matt Sharp and Mikey Welsh. Josh Freese has also acted as drummer for the band; there is discussion among fans as to whether he will become a permanent member.
The band achieved success early in their career with the release of the single “Buddy Holly” (1994); its music video, directed by Spike Jonze and interspersed with clips of the television show Happy Days, was widely acclaimed. For their first seven albums, Weezer was signed to Geffen (DGC) Records; they moved to Epitaph in ...
(b Atlanta, GA, June 8, 1977). American rapper, singer, and record producer. Kanye West burst onto the rap scene in 2004 with his debut album, The College Dropout, and has established himself as one of the industry’s most prominent artists. Immersed in the Chicago hip-hop scene, he learned to sample and program beats at the age of 15. While studying at Chicago State University, West began selling his beats to prominent rappers and decided to drop out of school to devote more time to his music career. West’s reputation as a producer was solidified by his work on Jay-Z’s album, The Blueprint (2001), where his sped up sample of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” on the song “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” helped launch the single to the Billboard Top 10. West adopted the technique of speeding up samples from the Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, making this his signature sound....
Eric Lynn Harris
Woodwind quintet founded in 1959 by oboist Peter Christ. Other original members included Gretel Shanley (flute), David Atkins (clarinet), David Breidenthal (bassoon), and Allen Gusé (horn). The ensemble derives its name from the area surrounding the University of California, Los Angeles, where Christ and Atkins were students. Over a career that has extended more than 50 years, the group has recorded and performed widely, making more than 2000 appearances. Its membership in 2011 included Peter Christ, John Barcellona (flute), William Helmers (clarinet), Patricia Nelson (bassoon), and Calvin Smith (horn). The group’s first album, Pops and Encores, was recorded in 1962. In January of 1965, as part of the Monday Evening Concert series held in Los Angeles, the group performed Arnold Schoenberg’s Wind Quintet. Robert Craft heard the performance and urged the group to record the work for his Schoenberg anthology. Rehearsals were held in the home of Igor Stravinsky, and the project was released in ...
(b New York, NY, Jan 10, 1917; d Sarasota, FL, Aug 15, 2008). American music journalist, producer, and record executive. After graduating with a degree in journalism from Kansas State University in 1946, Wexler got a job at the music industry trade magazine, Billboard. In a 1949 article for Billboard Wexler coined the phrase “rhythm and blues” to replace “race music” as the umbrella term for the new forms of black popular music that came to prominence immediately after World War II.
In 1953, Wexler became a partner in Atlantic Records, alongside Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, building the label into an industry powerhouse over the next 20 years. With Nesuhi handling most of the company’s jazz releases, Ahmet and Jerry supervised/produced sessions with the cream of 1950s R&B artists including Ray Charles, Professor Longhair, Big Joe Turner, LaVern Baker, and the Drifters.
In 1960, Wexler made a deal with the Memphis-based Stax Records to distribute their recordings. Over the next eight years, this meant that Atlantic distributed records by Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Albert King, William Bell, and Eddie Floyd, among others. In a unique arrangement, in ...
Rock duo. It was formed in southwest Detroit in 1997 by guitarist/vocalist Jack White [Gillis, John Anthony] (b Detroit, MI, 9 July 1975) and drummer Meg White [White, Megan Martha] (b Detroit, MI, 10 Dec 1974). A key group in the American garage-rock revival of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the White Stripes emerged from the Detroit underground scene, rising to international fame on the strength of their unique combination of blues roots and punk influences with raw (and often amateurish) lo-fi recording and performance practices. The color-coded red, white, and black visual presentation of the band, and the mythologized brother-sister relationship purported to exist between its members (in reality ex-husband and wife) also sparked interest.
After three full-length albums on the Long Beach independent label, Sympathy For The Record Industry, the White Stripes achieved mainstream success with their fourth album, Elephant, on V2 Records in ...
(b New York, NY, May 12, 1940; d Los Angeles, CA, Sept 16, 2008). American songwriter and record producer. Born in Harlem, New York, Whitfield relocated to Detroit with his family as a teenager. After briefly writing and producing songs for Detroit’s Thelma Records, he was hired by Motown owner Berry Gordy, Jr., to help with quality control and the selection of releases. He quickly became part of the songwriting and production staff.
He paired with lyricist Barrett Strong, and the two wrote and produced many Motown hits, most notably “I heard it through the grapevine,” which was recorded by many artists including Gladys Knight and the Pips as well as Marvin Gaye. He was instrumental to The Temptations, writing or cowriting hits such as “Papa was a rollin’ stone” and “Ain’t too proud to beg,” and shifting their sound from doo-wop and R&B toward funk and psychedelic soul. Writing longer songs for the group, which featured extended instrumental breaks and the group’s singers sharing lead vocals, earned Whitfield and Strong a number of Grammy Awards....
American alternative rock/country band. Wilco was formed in 1994 by musicians who had formerly played in other groups, most notably Uncle Tupelo. The band’s name derived from the military combination of “will comply.” Although the band’s roster has changed significantly since its creation, both Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt have remained stalwart members. Their style has retained a guitar-heavy sound with traditional rock, country, and pop elements laced with experimental tinges. Soon after joining forces, the group released their debut album, A.M. (1995, Reprise), which had mild success and led to a lengthy tour. They later worked with singer Billy Bragg to create new songs based on lyrics by Woody Guthrie. The resulting album, entitled Mermaid Avenue (1998), found commercial success and critical acclaim; it was the subject of a documentary film, Man in the Sand, and also led to a follow-up release, Mermaid Avenue, Vol. II...
Ryan R. McNutt
(b Inglewood, CA, June 20, 1942). American songwriter and producer. As the musical leader of the Beach boys during the 1960s, Wilson penned a series of massively successful hits that expanded the sound palette of radio pop. Though he subsequently struggled with mental illness and drug abuse, a late career revival brought with it recognition as one of the most important popular songwriters of the 20th century.
Wilson and his younger brothers Dennis and Carl grew up in Hawthorne, California. Their father Murray Wilson, occasionally abusive, strongly pushed his sons towards musical endeavors, making particular note of Brian’s talent with harmony and piano. In high school the brothers recruited cousin Mike Love to be part of a singing group; classmate Al Jardine, joined shortly thereafter. Eventually given the name the Beach Boys, the group signed with Capitol Records in 1962.
Over the next two years, the group would release nine albums, all but two of which were produced by Wilson—a rare privilege for a popular recording artist at the time, but granted due to the group’s astoundingly rapid success. His sound, noted for both studio perfectionism and immaculate vocal harmonies, was equally influenced by Phil Spector and Chuck Berry. Wilson wrote or cowrote nearly all of the band’s material, with songs like “Surfin’ USA,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” and “I Get Around” becoming touchstones of American mass culture in the early 1960s. However, the pressure of recording and touring, combined with stage fright, led to a nervous breakdown in ...
(b Michigan, 1949). American composer, pianist, producer, and guitarist. He is best known for his evocative and introspective solo piano works. He often draws on nature for his picturesque titles, perhaps responding to his time in the Midwest and areas such as eastern Montana. He did not receive any formal training, but instead learned to play the organ by ear in 1967 by listening to records. In 1971, he turned to the piano, influenced by 1920s jazz and the stride piano style of Thomas “Fats” Waller and Teddy Wilson, among others. He studied music at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. The style he developed has been described by Winston as “rural folk piano,” and he was asked to record by John Fahey for Takoma Records in 1972. His first album, Ballads and Blues, did not receive much popular or critical acclaim, but it brought Winston to the attention of New Age guru William Ackerman in ...
A. Scott Currie
American jazz group. It was founded in 1977 by Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett—all veterans of St. Louis’ seminal Black artists group —and David Murray, their California-born compatriot, soon after Kidd Jordan of Southern University brought them together for a short residency in New Orleans. Following their return to New York, inspired by enthusiastic audience response to their performances without a rhythm section, they launched what would become one of the most successful, long-lived, and critically acclaimed ensembles to emerge from the loft-jazz scene. In short order, they consolidated an influential ensemble style balancing tight innovative written arrangements with adventurous free quartet improvisations, bridging the divide between mainstream and avant-garde, and eventually breaking through to widespread notoriety with their much heralded 1986 tribute to Duke Ellington. Until his tenure with the group was abruptly ended in 1989, Hemphill played a central role in defining the group’s sound, concept, and identity through his compositions and arrangements, which dominated the quartet’s repertory in its first decade. Although the other members had by then evened the score with their own distinctive compositional contributions, they nonetheless found it difficult to fill his chair, working briefly with Arthur Blythe, James Spaulding, and Eric Person, before settling on John Purcell, who rounded out the quartet from the mid-1990s through its 25th anniversary. Frequently expanding beyond its original chamber-ensemble concept during this period to include projects with African percussionists, jazz rhythm sections, and vocalists, as well as other horn players, the group recorded tributes to such artists as Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, and Hemphill, who passed away in ...
Record company. It was formally established in New York City by Nick Perls in 1967, although the label’s first five albums were issued on the Belzona Records label; initially, the company concentrated on topic-specific overview compilations taken from blues and jazz 78s (such as The Georgia Blues, 1927–1933 and Guitar Wizards, 1926–1935), but the company also gained recognition for its single-artist compilations. Among the many performers they featured were the likes of Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell, and Joe Venuti.
In 1970 Perls set up a sister label, Blue Goose, which featured contemporary recordings of both blues and “old-timey” music; chief among the label’s contributors was the cartoonist R. Crumb, who, along with his band (the Cheap Suit Serenaders), cut three albums and a single for the label. Other artists included Jo Ann Kelly, Son House, and Rory Block.
Just prior to his death in ...