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David Sanjek

(b Santa Rita, NM, Nov 30, 1937). American instrumentalist, record producer, and label executive. Bowen first made his mark as a recording artist with “I’m Stickin’ with You” in 1957, which originally appeared as the B-side of Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll.” It peaked at number 14 on Billboard’s pop charts, sold a million copies, and was certified gold by the RIAA. In the early 1960s, Bowen moved to Los Angeles, where Frank Sinatra hired him as a producer at Reprise Records. He supervised his recordings as well as those by Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., leading some to joke that Bowen had rejuvenated the Rat Pack for the youth market. Bowen also brought together producer-singer-songwriter Lee Hazlewood with Nancy Sinatra, and a sequence of hits ensued. Bowen ran an independent label, Amos Records, from 1969 to 1971, whose catalogue includes some of the earliest work by future Eagles members Glenn Frey and Don Henley. He moved to Nashville thereafter and began his ascendance to the head of a sequence of labels, including MGM, Elektra, Warner Brothers, MCA, Universal, and Capitol, which he re-named Liberty. He oversaw the careers of such country stars as Hank Williams Jr., the Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McEntire, George Bogguss, and Garth Brooks. Bowen was known for his dedication to digital technology and desire to integrate out-of-town musicians with Nashville’s session players. He retired in ...

Article

David Buckley

(Robert)

(b Brixton, London, 8 Jan 1947; d New York, 10 Jan 2016). English rock singer, songwriter, and producer. His career witnessed a large number of musical changes. His influence on a succession of styles and their attendant subcultures – glam and punk in the 1970s, new romanticism in the 1980s, and Britpop in the 1990s – made him arguably the most important British recording artist since the Beatles.

He began recording in the mid-1960s as Davy [Davie] Jones, heading a succession of short-lived rhythm and blues and mod groups. In 1966 he changed his name to Bowie in order to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees. His early work, influenced by Anthony Newley, had little in common with the dominant rock styles of the day and was largely overlooked. In 1969, in the guise of a hippy singer-songwriter, he achieved his first hit with the single Space Oddity...

Article

John W. Rumble

(b Westmoreland, TN, Oct 21, 1915; d Nashville, TN Jan 7, 1998). American record producer, arranger, and bandleader. Adept at piano and other instruments, he began playing professionally by age 15, following his family’s move to Nashville. By 1940, he was leading his own dance band and broadcasting on local radio, and in 1942, with fellow WSM musicians Marvin Hughes and Beasley Smith, he composed “Night Train to Memphis,” a hit for rising Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. After World War II, Bradley became WSM’s music director.

In 1947, Decca Records country recording chief Paul Cohen tapped Bradley to head the company’s Nashville office and assist in sessions. Bradley recorded for the Bullet, Coral, and Decca labels, and he made his reputation by working with Decca hit makers Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Bobby Helms, and Brenda Lee, the last gaining pop stardom before releasing a series of country hits in the 1960s. After assuming Cohen’s position in ...

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(b Honolulu, HI, Nov 9, 1909; d Honolulu, HI, April 27, 1992). Hawaiian singer, musician, bandleader, composer, and impresario. Sol Bright was a master entertainer of the old school: an energetic showman, accomplished musician, comic hula dancer, composer, raconteur, and entertainment director during Hawaiian music’s era of greatest international appeal, the 1920s through the 1960s.

His professional experience began as a teenager playing drums with his sister Hannah’s dance band. In 1928 an offer to play rhythm guitar and sing with Sol Ho`opi`i took him to Kaleponi (California), where a large community of Hawaiian musicians had formed. He started his own group, The Hollywood Hawaiians, in 1932. Playing steel guitar and singing, he recorded prolifically for major labels. He also appeared on radio and in four films: South Sea Rose,Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case,Flirtation Walk, and White Woman. Bright composed a number of songs that have become standards, including the jazzy English language “Sophisticated Hula” and “Hawaiian Cowboy,” a show-stopping novelty song in Hawaiian. With rapid-fire verses, reflective of fast ...

Article

Stephanie Conn

(b Glen Ridge, NJ, Dec 11, 1963). American producer, composer, songwriter, drummer, guitarist, pianist, bass player, keyboard player, and vibraphonist. Born into a musical family he left high school early to play music. He performed in Boston in the late 1980s and then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a sideman, songwriter and producer with various musicians he knew from Boston including the singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. He became known as an indispensable studio session musician and producer.

Although Brion is a prolific songwriter, he is perhaps best known for his varied projects as a producer and composer, which have spanned pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and bluegrass. Among the artists that he has produced are Fiona Apple, Beck, Dido, Brad Mehldau, of Montreal, Elliott Smith, Rufus Wainwright, and Kanye West. Brion often plays and co-writes for his productions. He has also written scores for films, including ...

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

Ian Whitcomb

[Bush, Louis Ferdinand; Carr, Joe ‘Fingers’]

(b Louisville, KY, July 18, 1910; d Camarillo, CA, Sept 19, 1979). American ragtime pianist, composer and recording executive. At the age of 16 he left home to tour as a pianist with the Clyde McCoy band, a popular dance orchestra of the 1930s. He later served as a pianist and arranger with a series of big bands, notably those of George Olsen, Ray Noble, Vincent Lopez and Henry Busse. In 1941 he settled in Los Angeles and, after a period as accompanist to Lena Horne, was employed by the newly formed West Coast record label Capitol. When Euday L. Bowman’s Twelfth Street Rag (recorded in 1948 by Pee Wee Hunt) sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, Busch was placed in charge of Capitol's artists and repertory department and invited to capitalize on the success of the recording. He then adopted his pseudonym, Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr, and agreed to be marketed on record covers as a typical black bar-room pianist with gartered sleeves, cigar and derby hat; despite this promotional gimmickry, he played fine ragtime piano. He also wrote a long series of sturdy hit rags. His 36 singles and 14 albums during the 1950s created a congenial setting for the ragtime revival and inspired many young musicians who later developed the second revival in the late 1960s. Under the name Lou Busch he also enjoyed success in Britain with his recording ...

Article

Steve Otfinoski

(b Sunflower, MS, Dec 8, 1939). American rhythm-and-blues singer, songwriter, and producer. He began singing professionally in Chicago in the North Jubilee Gospel Singers, where he met Curtis Mayfield. The two joined Sam Gooden and brothers Arthur and Richard Brooks to form the Roosters in 1957. The group later changed its name to Impressions, the and signed with Vee-Jay Records. “For your Precious Love,” with Butler on lead, became a major hit in 1958, and some music historians consider it to be the first soul record. Butler left the Impressions to pursue a solo career, and Mayfield, a gifted songwriter, wrote several of Butler’s subsequent releases, including “He will break your heart” (VJ, 1960). Dubbed the “Iceman” for his cool but passionate baritone, Butler enjoyed great success in the early sixties with such hits as “Moon River” (VJ, 1961), the title song from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s...

Article

Lorenzo Candelaria

(b Ahuisculco, Jalisco, Mexico, July 23, 1933). American mariachi musician of Mexican birth. As director of Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, he is a leading promoter of mariachi music in the United States. He began learning mariachi music at age six from his father, Sotero Cano, a day laborer and freelance musician who taught him the vihuela (a small, guitarlike instrument). Between the ages of eight and fourteen, he studied classical violin at the Academia de Música in Guadalajara, and in 1953 joined Mariachi Chapala in Mexicali, Baja California. By 1957 he had become the group’s director. After relocating to Los Angeles in 1961, he joined Mariachi Águila and performed regularly at the Million Dollar Theater; following the death of its director, Cano assumed leadership of the group and renamed it Los Camperos. In 1969 he opened La Fonda, a mariachi dinner theater on Wilshire Boulevard that continues to feature his group nightly. Los Camperos gained widespread national attention in the late 1980s, working with Linda Ronstadt to promote her highly successful album ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(Angela)

(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. ...