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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,” (...

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Jonas Westover

Australian pop group formed by Barry (b Douglas, Isle of Man, 1 Sept 1946), Robin (b Douglas, Isle of Man, 22 Dec 1949; d London, England, 20 May 2012), and Maurice Gibb (b Douglas, Isle of Man, 22 Dec 1949; d Miami Beach, FL, 12 Jan 2003). They were raised in Manchester, England, until 1958, when the family moved to Brisbane, Australia, where the brothers formed a trio called the Rattlesnakes. They soon began writing their own music, often composed by Barry, and attracting media attention. In 1963 the group signed a deal to record singles as the Bee Gees with Festival Records and two years later released their first album. After moving to Polydor Records, they released two songs, “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and “To Love Somebody,” which became hit singles. Both were included on the album Bee Gees 1st (Polydor, ...

Article

Michael Webb

(Tok Pisin for ‘bamboo band’).

Both a struck aerophone (alternatively, an idiophone) comprising a set of three or five tuned bamboo tubes, and the name for an ensemble including these instruments. It was featured in popular music in the Solomon Islands (its place of origin) and parts of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu for several decades from the 1970s. The primary instrument is derived from the handheld tuned stamping tube, and comprises a set of 7- to 9-cm-diameter bamboos, open at both ends and graduated in lengths of up to 2 metres, arranged in raft form. A band will include at least three sets; each set is commonly tuned (to a guitar) 1–3–5–6–8 (or 1–3–5), usually in a low register, to sound one of the three primary chords in a given key. With flexible paddles players vigorously slap in succession one open end of each bamboo in a boogie-woogie rhythmic-melodic pattern that outlines a triad; sets alternate according to changes in harmony. The ensemble includes guitars and accompanies harmonized singing. A related Solomon Islands ensemble without guitars yet employing Westernized tuning, involves multiple sets of panpipes, ‘pantrumpets’, and the rack-mounted bass ...

Article

David B. Pruett

American country music duo. Big & Rich was formed in 2002 by Kenny Alphin (b Culpeper, VA, 1 Nov 1963) and John Rich (b Amarillo, TX, 7 Jan 1974). Both musicians performed in Nashville, Tennessee during the 1990s, Rich with the popular, middle-of-the-road country group Lonestar (formerly Texassee) (1993–8) and Alphin with his rock band Big Kenny and later luvjOi. After helping to found Nashville’s Muzikmafia in 2001, the two decided to join forces as Big & Rich in 2002, signing a recording contract later that year with Warner Bros.

Big & Rich’s entrance into the country music industry brought surprising commercial success and considerable controversy, largely owing to their public flamboyancy and close association with the MuzikMafia, a collective of diverse artists who frequently referred to themselves as a “Freak Parade.” Released in May 2004 and selling more than three million copies by ...

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Rob Jovanovic

American rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1970 by Christopher Bell (b Memphis, 12 Jan 1951; d Memphis, 27 Dec 1978), Alex Chilton (b Memphis, 28 Dec 1978; d New Orleans, LA, 17 March 2010), Andrew Hummel (b Valley Forge, PA, 26 Jan 1951; d Weatherford, TX, 19 July 2010), and Jody Stephens (b Memphis, 4 Oct 1952). Heavily influenced by the British invasion and the Beach Boys, Bell and Chilton conceived the band as a studio venture. This lineup played less than a dozen shows in and around Memphis. Under the eye of John Fry, the owner of the studio Ardent, they recorded #1 Record and had started work on Radio City when Bell quit after the debut album’s commercial failure. Hummel left soon afterwards and was replaced by John Lightman (b Memphis, 31 Oct 1949) before he too quit. The producer Jim Dickinson then worked with Chilton and Stephens on a collection of brooding songs issued as the album ...

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Akitsugu Kawamoto

American hip-hop group. It was formed in 1995 in Los Angeles by will.i.am (William James Adams, Jr.; b Inglewood, CA, 15 March 1975; rapping, vocals, various instruments), apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo, Jr.; b Angeles City, Philippines, 28 November 1975; rapping, drums), and Taboo (Jaime Luis Gómez; b Los Angeles, CA, 14 July 1975; rapping, keyboard). The group grew out of Atban Klann (1991–5), a Los Angeles-based group signed for a time to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records. The Black Eyed Peas developed an approach that fused elements of global pop, jazz-rock, funk, soul, noise music, and a variety of hip-hop styles. Initially considered somewhat of an underground phenomenon, the Black Eyed Peas achieved worldwide commercial success after being joined by Fergie (Stacy Ann Ferguson; b Hacienda Heights, CA, 27 March 1975; rapping, vocals) in 2003. The group’s third and fourth albums, Elephunk (2003) and Monkey Business (2005...

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Lukas Pearse

Hardcore punk band founded in Hermosa Beach, California, in 1976 by the guitarist and songwriter Greg Ginn (b 8 June 1954). Key members included the singers Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, and notably Henry Rollins (1981–6); the bass players Chuck Dukowski and Kira Roessler; and the drummers Robo and Bill Stevenson. One of the definitive hardcore bands of its era, Black Flag toured extensively and helped to establish the alternative rock circuit. Their strong DIY ethos inspired countless other bands, as did their forming the record label SST, which despite legal difficulties, released albums by important bands including Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, and Dinosaur Jr. The band’s name and its distinctive visual imagery were provided by Ginn’s brother, the artist Raymond Pettibon, helping to establish the trend of hardcore bands adopting easily copied symbols.

Until the band broke up in 1986, Ginn remained its main songwriter but its music evolved with changes in membership. Punk simplicity and confrontational vocals collided with stridently atonal guitar solos and frequent tempo changes. Like much punk, Ginn’s lyrics express anti-authoritarian sentiments and explore themes of personal alienation. Early songs often featured a faster tempo than their hardcore contemporaries, but the group began to favor slower songs, reflecting the influence of heavy metal, as heard on the album ...

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John Clemente

Female vocal group based in Los Angeles. Its principal members included Fanita James [Barrett], Jean King, Gloria Jones, Gracia Nitzsche, and Darlene Love [Wright]. Primarily backing vocalists for recordings and television broadcasts, the group worked with artists including Gene Pitney, Patty Duke, Shelley Fabares, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Buck Owens.

They began as the Dreamers in 1954 and were soon known as versatile singers and working in studios backing up other artists. After an executive at Capitol Records noticed their different skin tones and said they looked like a bouquet, they were re-named the Blossoms. In 1958 the 17-year-old Wright joined as the group’s lead singer, but chart success was elusive until the producer Phil Spector recorded them performing a tune by the singer-songwriter Gene Pitney. Spector then used the Blossoms to record a song that was credited to the New York-based girl group the Crystals. “He’s a Rebel” turned out to be a monster hit, building Spector’s status as an independent producer, but the Blossoms only received a session fee. Over the next three years, the group were favored singers on all of Spector’s California sessions....

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Horace Clarence Boyer

American gospel quartet. It was organized in 1926 by Clarence Parnell, a pioneer figure in the black gospel-quartet tradition, and by the mid-1930s had become the most popular group of its type in the deep South. Besides Parnell (bass), its original members were Silas Steele (lead), Jimmie Hollingsworth (tenor), and Charlie Beale (baritone). Steele in particular became a model for other gospel-quartet soloists. Although the group was known for its “sweet” style of singing, performing in close harmony in a style reminiscent of early barbershop quartets, towards the end of the 1930s it adopted a more aggressive manner; the singers are regarded as the progenitors of the “hard” gospel style in vogue among quartets by 1950. After moving to Chicago in the early 1940s, they helped to develop the Midwestern “clank-a-lanka” style of gospel music (named after a rhythmic quartet response to the leader’s solo). The Blue Jay Singers flourished until the 1960s, including among its later members Nathaniel Edmonds, Charles Bridges, and Willie Rose....

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John Piccarella

Rock group. Despite various changes in lineup during a history that spans more than four decades, it has remained anchored by its original members Eric Bloom (singer, guitarist, and keyboard player) and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (guitarist and singer). Its other original members included Albert Bouchard (drummer and singer), Joe Bouchard (bass guitarist), Allen Lanier (guitarist, keyboard player, and singer). The group settled on the name Blue Öyster Cult in 1971. Under the manager Sandy Pearlman and the producer Murray Krugman, the group made recordings that both epitomize and parody the mystical elements of rock and its occult pretensions through elaborate religious and military symbolism. The band members, as well as Pearlman, wrote most of the material, but they also used lyrics by the rock critic R. Meltzer and the rock singer Patti Smith. The albums Blue Öyster Cult (Col., 1972), Tyranny and Mutation (Col., 1973), and Secret Treaties...

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Anthony S. Lis

American country-music duo. Its members were William A. (Bill) Bolick (b Hickory, NC, 28 Oct 1917; d Hickory, NC 13 March 2008), who played mandolin and sang tenor harmony, and his brother Earl Alfred Bolick (b Hickory, NC, 16 Nov 1919; d Suwanee, GA, 19 Apr 1998), who played guitar and sang lead. Their early radio appearances with fiddler Homer Sherrill included gigs in 1935 on WWNC in Asheville, North Carolina as the Good Coffee Boys and WGST in Atlanta as the Blue Ridge Hillbillies. At the Bolicks’ first recording-session, for RCA Victor in Charlotte, North Carolina in June 1936, they changed their name to the Blue Sky Boys, in homage to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the nickname for western North Carolina (“Land of the Sky”). They made 90 recordings for RCA Victor in Charlotte, Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Atlanta through October 1940, including gospel numbers (“The Royal Telephone,” Bluebird, ...

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David Royko

Bluegrass group. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1968–1978, Bluegrass Alliance included rock and pop material in its repertoire and coined the term Newgrass. Led by co-founder and fiddler Lonnie Peerce (Lonard W. Peerce; b 13 July 1923; d Louisville, KY, 31 May 1996), it provided a springboard to numerous musicians early in their careers. The line-up of Peerce, guitarist Dan Crary, mandolinist Danny Jones, banjoist Buddy Spurlock, and bassist Harry Shealor (Ebo Walker) released three LPs on the American Heritage label, including Newgrass (1970). In 1971, the line-up of Walker, mandolinist Sam Bush, guitarist and Dobro player Curtis Burch, and banjoist Courtney Johnson recorded a cover of the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (Plantation) before leaving Peerce to found New Grass Revival, while the entire 1976 line-up departed Peerce en masse to form the band Lazy River. Additional alumni from 1968–78 include guitarists Tony Rice, Bob Hoban, Vince Gill, and Dennis White, mandolinists Chuck Nation, Glenn Lawson, and Tony Williamson, and banjoists Garland Shuping, Steve Cooley, and Bill Millet. After receiving permission from Peerce to use the name, Bluegrass Alliance re-formed under Nation’s leadership in ...

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Will Fulton

Group of hip hop producers. It was formed in the mid-1980s by Hank Shocklee (Henry Boxley; b 1958) and included Keith Shocklee (Keith Boxley), Eric Sadler (b 1961), and Chuck D (Carl Ryder; Carlton Ridenhour; b 1960). Evolving from the Spectrum City DJs (later Spectrum City), a Long Island DJ group led by brothers Hank and Keith Shocklee, the Bomb Squad are best known for creating the backing tracks for rap group Public Enemy. Although the group collectively produced music together as early as 1985, the name “Bomb Squad” did not appear on a label credit until 1990.

The Bomb Squad used samplers/sequencers, turntables, and drum machines to combine layers of atmospheric sounds drawn from recordings of sirens, speeches, and crowds with re-contextualized phrases and bursts of music from funk records. The resulting tracks sounded dense and aggressive, while retaining elements of funk and jazz. The Public Enemy album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam, ...

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Glenn T. Pillsbury

Hard-rock band founded in early 1983 and led by John Bon Jovi (Bongiovi; b 2 March 1962; vocals and songwriting). It achieved prominence as part of the so-called hair metal or lite metal wing of the general heavy-metal movement during 1980s. The group’s first two albums gradually built up its success, but Bon Jovi broke into the mainstream following the release of Slippery when Wet (Mercury, 1986), which featured finely honed production and contributions by the famous “hired-gun” songwriter Desmond Child. The group’s energetic rock style engages with topics of romance and hedonism but nevertheless retains important connections to a set of working-class experiences in a manner popularized by Bruce Springsteen. Music videos for “You give love a bad name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer,” both of which became top ten singles, showcased a photogenic and non-threatening version of heavy metal quite at odds with that put forth by such groups as Metallica and Iron Maiden. “Wanted Dead or Alive” couched the travails of life on the road in the sentimental aesthetics of an acoustic power ballad. The group quickly followed with ...

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Chris McDonald

Rock group. In 1970 Tom Scholz (b Toledo, OH, 10 March 1947; electric guitar, keyboards, and production) began collaborating with the musicians with whom he later formed Boston. An MIT graduate employed by Polaroid, he built a 12-track studio for developing his new band’s sound. Harmonized vocal and guitar parts were painstakingly constructed through overdubbing. Scholz tried unsuccessfully to attract record company interest until Epic signed the group in 1975, at which time the band chose the name Boston. Their first album, Boston (Epic, 1976), was made up mostly of tracks that Scholz had assembled in his studio and became rock’s fastest-selling debut, selling more than a million copies within three months and eventually selling more than 17 million. Hits from the album included “More than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Long Time.” The band’s touring personnel included Brad Delp (b Boston, MA, 12 June 1951...

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Jonas Westover

R&B vocal group. After their initial success in the 1990s, the group has maintained a presence on the music scene for more than two decades. The four best known members—Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Michael McCary—met at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts in 1988 and put together an ensemble called Unique Attraction. After changing their name to Boyz II Men, they were heard by the producer Michael Bivins, who arranged for the group to be signed to his parent label Motown Records. Cooleyhighharmony (Motown, 1991), their debut album, featured the sound of New Jack Swing complementing the soulful, tight-knit, complicated vocal harmonies for which they have become known. It spawned a series of top-selling singles, including “Motownphilly” and “It’s hard to say goodbye to yesterday,” and they won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Their signature song, “End of the Road” (...

Article

Bronco  

Jesús A. Ramos-Kittrell

[Grupo Bronco, El Gigante de América]

Mexican grupera ensemble. Formed by José Guadalupe Esparza, Ramiro Delgado, Javier Villarreal, and José Luis Villarreal in 1979, this band came together at a time when the genre later known as onda grupera was still in development. Influenced by the sounds of cumbia ranchera music, and romantic ballad, the band became a decisive factor in the commercialization of the grupera phenomenon. Not only did Bronco consolidate cowboy clothing as a grupera staple but they also pioneered the use of elaborate staging, fireworks, and gigantic screens in grupera concerts. After seven years of activity Bronco reached international popularity with the hit “Que no quede huella” (1989), and in 1993 starred in Dos mujeres, un camino, a soap opera that became a commercial hit in Latin America. Clothing, concert entertainment, television, and motion pictures brought international recognition for the band in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Ultimately, these elements, accompanying Bronco’s enormous record and ticket sales, marked the mainstream emergence of onda grupera. After announcing their retirement in ...

Article

David B. Pruett

American country music duo. Formed in 1990 by Leon Eric “Kix” Brooks (b Shreveport, LA, 12 May 1955) and Ronnie [Gene] Dunn (b Coleman, TX, 1 June 1953), Brooks & Dunn is the most celebrated country music duo in the history of the genre, having won a record 19 awards from the Country Music Association, including Vocal Duo of the Year 14 times (1992–9, 2001–6). Although neither Brooks nor Dunn was successful as a solo act in the 1980s, their debut album as a duo Brand New Man (Arista, 1991) was an instant success, producing four consecutive number-one hits, including “Brand New Man,” “My Next Broken Heart,” and “Neon Moon,” landing Brooks & Dunn the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Vocal Duet/Group award, and eventually selling over six million copies. The album’s fourth number-one single, “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” inspired a popular country line dance by the same name. Over the next few years, the duo released a series of hit albums, including ...

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David Wozniak

[Five Brown Brothers, Six Brown Brothers]

American saxophone ensemble of the vaudeville and musical theater stages that was comprised of Canadian-born brothers. The group began as a saxophone ensemble led by Tom Brown (1882–1950), along with his brothers Percy and Vern; brothers Alec and Fred joined to form the Five Brown Brothers in 1908. William joined in 1912, forming the Six Brown Brothers. Personnel in the ensemble was in constant flux, and included musicians not related to the Browns. The sextet contained two each of alto and tenor saxophones, one baritone saxophone, and one bass saxophone. The Brown Brothers benefited from the “Saxophone Craze” of the 1910s and 20s, for which Tom Brown has claimed the ensemble was responsible. At the height of the Brown Brothers’ popularity, they performed in Broadway musicals and music revues such as Chin Chin (1914). The Brown Brothers’ shows were equal parts musical act and comedy show in which the Brothers often appeared in clown costumes, and leader Tom Brown performed in blackface. In ...