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Article

Jean Geil

[Williams, W.R. ]

(b Wells, March 15, 1867; d Oak Park, IL, June 10, 1954). American publisher and composer of English birth . After moving to the USA in 1881, he settled in Chicago. His musical career started in 1891 when, under the pseudonym W.R. Williams, he published his first song, Sweet Nellie Bawn, followed by further popular titles during the 1890s. In 1898 he performed his songs at Tony Pastor’s Music Hall in New York. By 1900 he had become the most successful popular music publisher in Chicago. In 1910 he purchased the rights to Meet me tonight in dreamland by Leo Friedman and Beth Slater Whitson, issued Shelton Brooks’s Some of these days, which became Sophie Tucker’s theme song, and published his own I’d love to live in loveland with a girl like you, which eventually sold over two million copies. Brooks’s The Darktown Strutters’ Ball (1917) also achieved lasting popularity. Other songwriters, lyricists and performers whose careers were furthered by their association with Rossiter include Charles K. Harris, Percy Wenrich, J. Will Callahan, Fred Fisher and Egbert Van Alstyne. An aggressive promoter of his publications, Rossiter initiated innovatory techniques in marketing and made use of radio broadcasting for promotional purposes....

Article

Jonas Westover

(Harry )

(b Upper Darby, PA, June 22, 1948). American singer-songwriter, composer, and producer. He began his career as a teenager singing with the bands Woody’s Truck Stop and the more successful rock quartet Nazz. As a member of the latter group, he wrote two of their hit songs, “Hello, it’s me” and “Open your Eyes” (both 1968). After releasing three albums with Nazz, Rundgren left the group and worked as a solo artist, recording most of the vocal and instrumental parts himself. He cited the songwriter Laura Nyro as a significant influence. During the early 1970s Rundgren worked with a trio, Runt, recording two albums, the second entitled Runt: the Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971), and his own two-record set, Something/Anything? (1972). The latter album brought him unprecedented fame through the singles “I Saw the Light” and a new version of “Hello, it’s me.” The recordings ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Bridges, Claude Russell ]

(b Lawton, OK, April 2, 1942). American singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and producer. He is well respected for his solo work—a mix of rock, folk, and country music—but his work as a session musician has also brought significant recognition. He began playing piano at the age of four and was playing in clubs in Tulsa as a high school student. His band, the Starlighters, managed to score a spot as the opening act for Jerry Lee Lewis in 1959. Russell moved to Los Angeles the same year and quickly established himself as a session musician, notably with Wrecking Crew, the, the group of musicians Phil Spector used to accompany his artists. With the Wrecking Crew, he accompanied artists such as the Byrds, Herb Alpert, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The keyboard player on hundreds of recordings, he opened his own recording studio in 1967. He has since been active in almost all fields of popular music, from musician to singer to songwriter to label owner (he founded Shelter Records in ...

Article

Jack Sage

[Alfonso X]

(b Toledo, Nov 23, 1221; d Seville, April 4, 1284). Spanish monarch, patron, poet and composer. The son of Ferdinand the Saint, he became King of Castile and León in 1252. ‘El Sabio’ may be taken as both ‘the Wise’ and ‘the Learned’, for Alfonso’s works show his conviction that learning begets wisdom. He was a remarkable patron of the arts, sciences and culture; he recognized the importance of Spain’s Islamic as well as its Roman and Visigothic heritage, and his court became celebrated as a meeting-place for Christian, Islamic and Jewish scholars and artists. He has long stood accused of sacrificing his family relations and political stability to impractical schemes for liberal reform but, though out of favour with those close to him in his latter years, he fostered notable social, educational and judiciary reforms, encouraged the use of the vernacular in learning and art, and made Spain respected in Europe. In ...

Article

Lorena Guillén

(b El Palomar, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 19, 1951). Argentine musician, recording producer, and film music composer. With his bands Arco Iris and Soluna, Santaolalla was one of the pioneers of Argentine “rock nacional” in the 1960s. In 1978 he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he formed the punk-influenced band Wet Picnic. In the early 1980s his interest in folk-rock fusion helped develop a unique Latin American rock and pop sound. He has produced albums for Argentine, Mexican, Colombian, and Chilean artists such as León Gieco, Divididos, Bersuit Vergarabat, Café Tacuba, Maldita Vecindad, Molotov, Julieta Venegas, Caifanes, Juanes, and Los Prisioneros. In the last decade Santaolalla has also produced classical-crossover recordings such as Kronos Quartet’s Nuevo and participated as a composer and performer for some tracks of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre. Santaolalla has also recorded his own solo albums: Santaolalla (1981), Gas (1995), and ...

Article

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Westover, Charles Weedon ]

(b Grand Rapids, MI, Dec 30, 1934; d Santa Clarita, CA, Feb 8, 1990). American singer, songwriter, and producer. Growing up, he learned to play ukulele and guitar while immersing himself in country-and-western music. Throughout the second half of the 1950s, he played in a variety of bands while in the military and also in Michigan. He used several different names during his time as a performer, but finally settled on “Del Shannon” in 1960. In the same year Shannon and his fellow musician, Max Crook, were signed to Bigtop Records in New York. The two wrote and recorded the rock and roll hit “Runaway” in 1961, with the single reaching number one on the Billboard chart. In the following two years Shannon wrote and performed several other successful singles, including “So long, baby,” “Hats off to Larry,” and “Little Town Flirt.” His 1963 cover of “From Me to You” was one of the first American covers of a Beatles song. After moving to Amy Records in ...

Article

Stephanie Conn

[Issa ]

(b Toronto, ON, Oct 12, 1955). Canadian singer, songwriter, composer, and producer. Growing up in Toronto, Siberry took piano and French horn lessons, and taught herself guitar. While studying microbiology at the University of Guelph, Ontario (BSc 1980), she began to waitress and perform at local cafes. In 1981, Siberry released her self-titled debut album; this was followed by No Borders Here (1984), distributed in the United States by A&M. Siberry is respected as a gifted singer and songwriter. She has cited Van Morrison and Miles Davis as influences, but also draws on gospel, new-wave, and classical styles. Her third album, The Speckless Sky (1985) reached gold-record status in Canada and confirmed her reputation as a major recording artist. Warner records released her fourth album, The Walking (1987), which earned critical if not popular success with its longer, more complex compositions. Siberry launched her own record label, Sheeba, in ...

Article

Richard Macnutt

(b Paris, Nov 15, 1775; d Passy, Jan 22, 1847). French music publisher and composer, son of Jean-Georges Sieber. He studied composition with H.-M. Berton at the Paris Conservatoire, and worked in his father's publishing business from about 1795. In August 1798 he married Anne-Marie, daughter of the publisher Pierre Leduc. In January 1799 he opened a shop at 1245 rue de la Loi, where he traded as Sieber Fils at the sign of ‘La flûte enchantée’. The house was renumbered 28 between 10 May and 28 September 1805, and the street reverted to its pre-Revolutionary name, rue de Richelieu, between July 1806 and March 1807. By April 1809 Sieber had moved to 21 rue des Filles-St-Thomas, where the firm remained. In 1824 he took over his father's business and in 1834 retired, being succeeded by his son Adrien-Georges (b Paris, 26 June 1802; d Paris, 17 Oct 1872...

Article

Don Cusic

[Ragsdale, Harold Ray ]

(b Clarkdale, GA, Jan 24, 1939). American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, music publisher, television star, and entrepreneur. Harold Ragsdale began his musical career with a high school band that played R&B songs by the Coasters, Drifters, and other R&B groups. In 1955 the family moved to Atlanta, where publisher Bill Lowery signed him as a songwriter and secured his first recording contract with Capitol Records; Capitol’s Head of A&R, Ken Nelson changed Ragsdale’s name to Ray Stevens. After attending Georgia State University, where he studied music, Stevens had his first success with his recording of “Jeremiah Peabody’s Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills” (Mercury, 1961). In 1962 he moved to Nashville, supplementing his own recording career with work as a session musician, arranger, and background vocalist. He garnered a number-one pop hit and his first Grammy with his recording of “Everything is beautiful” (Barnaby, ...

Article

Cliff Eisen

(b Vienna, July 31, 1746; d Vienna, July 9, 1810). Austrian music copyist. Although Weinmann states that Sukowaty's shop may have been founded c1784, payment records show that he was the principal music copyist for the Viennese court theatres from 1778 until 1796 (Edge, 1995). Important copies from his shop include original performance scores for Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte (all A-Wn , some with autograph entries by Mozart); signed manuscripts of Sarti's Fra i due litiganti and Salieri's La grotta di Trofonio survive in Budapest ( H-Bn ). Sukowaty copies are typically in several hands; it is difficult to determine how many employees worked for him and at what times, whether they were temporarily subcontracted, and whether they additionally worked for other copy shops or as independent entrepreneurs, all of which bears on the authority of manuscripts deriving from his shop. To date, none of his copyists has been identified by name. Sukowaty also sold manuscripts commercially, including orchestral scores, individual arias and piano scores; he was a regular advertiser in the Viennese press, chiefly the ...

Article

Kristine Forney

[Tielman]

(b c1510–1515, Soest, nr Dortmund; d ?Sweden, 1570 or later). Music publisher, composer and instrumentalist, active in the southern Netherlands. His birthdate is based on a document of 1565 which states he was about 50 years old (‘out omtrent L jaren’). His place of birth, also suggested to be Soestdijk, near Utrecht, is clearly in the environs of Cologne (probably Soest in Westphalia): he refers to himself as ‘Tilemannus Susato Agrippinus’ (the Roman name for Cologne) in two publications, he is described in 1561 as ‘Thielman Suzato, geboeren van Coelen’ and in 1563 as one born outside the lands of the Emperor. Further, he was granted a subsidy in 1542 by the city of Antwerp for bringing a new trade from outside. Documentation confirms that he was the son of another Tylman (Thielmanssone); his father may have been the blind musician ‘Tielman dem blynden’ mentioned in a 1508...

Article

Mark Berresford

(Coleman )

(b Brunswick, MO, Feb 7, 1882; d New York, NY, March 9, 1961). American clarinetist, bandleader, composer, and music publisher. His first professional engagement (c1897–8) was with a “pickaninny” band led by Nathaniel Clark Smith. In 1902 he was assistant leader of P.G. Lowery’s band with Forepaugh and Sells Circus and later that year joined Mahara’s Minstrels band under the leadership of W.C. Handy. In 1903 he formed his own band in Minneapolis, where he made the first recordings by an African American band. Sweatman moved to Chicago in 1908, where he led trios at the Grand and Monogram theaters. In 1911 he made his first vaudeville appearance, and in late 1916 made the first records recognizable as jazz performances. In 1918 Sweatman’s band was signed to an exclusive recording contract with Columbia, their records rivalling those by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. He continued to work through the 1920s and early 1930s in vaudeville, and in ...

Article

Susan Fast

(Wister )

(b Clarksdale, MI, Nov 5, 1931; d San Marcos, CA, Dec 12, 2007). American songwriter, guitarist, pianist, bandleader, talent scout, and record producer. He began playing piano as a boy in Clarksdale, forming the Kings of Rhythm while still in school. His musical education consisted of listening to music and playing with blues musicians such as B.B. King. Turner is often credited with writing and recording the first rock and roll record (according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), “Rocket 88,” although the track was released under the name of Jackie Brenston (a member of Turner’s band who sang and played sax on the record). Recorded in 1951 at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studios in Memphis, this uptempo R&B song provided a template for the rock and roll emerging later in the decade. The modified 12-bar blues form, boogie woogie bass line, percussive piano, guitar distortion, and rowdy sax solo became standard features of songs by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others....

Article

Andrew Flory

(Ronzoni )

(b New York, NY, April 20, 1951; d Edison, NJ, July 1, 2005). American rhythm-and-blues and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer. He was one of the most instantly recognizable African American male vocalists of the 1980s, often performing in a virtuosic style that was at once melismatic, improvisational, and precise. He began his career as a behind-the-scenes songwriter and vocalist, singing on commercial jingles, writing and collaborating on songs for other recording artists, and performing live and recorded background vocals. As backing vocalist he appeared widely, including on David Bowie’s “Young Americans” (1975), Chic’s C’est Chic (1978), Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (1979), and Roberta Flack’s Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway (1980). Vandross signed to Atlantic’s Cotillion label in the mid-1970s and released two unsuccessful albums with a self-titled group call Luther. He also worked as a vocalist with the disco-oriented band Change on several singles released during the early 1980s....

Article

Charles K. Wolfe and Travis D. Stimeling

(Wayne )

(b West Plains, MO, Aug 12, 1927; d Nashville, TN, Oct 27, 2007). American country music singer, songwriter, and record producer. As a boy, he learned country songs of the 1920s from his mother and occasionally pretended to host the Grand Ole Opry. A performance on a local radio show in 1950 led to regular appearances on KWTO, a powerful station in nearby Springfield, and this in turn led to a regular job on Red Foley’s national Ozark Jubilee television show. He signed a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1952 and had early success with “Company’s Comin’” and “Satisfied Mind.” Gospel songs such as “What would you do?” became part of his repertory, and their success encouraged his penchant for including recitation in songs. During the 1960s, thirty-one of Wagoner’s recordings reached the charts, and, by the end of the decade, he produced his own television show, ...

Article

Gareth Dylan Smith

(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...

Article

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 (...

Article

Lukas Pearse

(Jesse )

(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....

Article

Ryan R. McNutt

(Douglas )

(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 ...