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[AACM]

A nonprofit organization devoted to African American avant-garde music. It was founded in Chicago’s South Side on 8 May 1965 by members of Muhal Richard Abrams’ free-jazz ensemble the Experimental Band. As well as Abrams, who was its first president, the AACM’s original members were Fred Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell, Amina Claudine Myers, Malachi Favors, Thurman Barker, Joseph Jarman, and Maurice McIntyre. Its main objectives have been to organize concerts for the public and workshops for its members, and since the foundation of the AACM School of Music in 1969 to conduct free training programs for young musicians. In addition it has aimed “to set an example of high moral standards for musicians.” Its primary intention was to provide an alternative to the established art institutions in order to promote the music of young, independent, experimental African American musicians. With the postulate to move towards a multicultural and multi-ethnic outlook, each member created “original music”—notated, improvised, or both—by striving beyond the set boundaries of jazz to explore a stylistic hybridity. Its musicians broke new ground by making use of extended techniques, interactivity, experimental forms and notation, invented acoustic instruments, installations, and kinetic sculptures....

Article

Bill C. Malone

revised by Barry Mazor

[Chester Burton ]

(b nr Luttrell, TN, June 20, 1924, d Nashville, TN, June 30, 2001). American country-music guitarist and recording company executive. Although the first instrument he played professionally was the fiddle, he became internationally famous as a guitarist. Developed while he was in high school, his guitar style was influenced by Merle Travis, Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, and George Barnes and was characterized by the use of the thumb to establish a rhythm on the lower strings and multiple fingers to play melodic or improvisational passages on the higher strings, sometimes with complex voicings. In the early 1940s Atkins toured with Archie Campbell and Bill Carlisle playing both fiddle and guitar, and appeared with them on WNOX radio in Knoxville. He then toured with the second generation Carter Family as a sideman and in 1946 joined Red Foley. After beginning his association with the “Grand Ole Opry” he settled in Nashville in ...

Article

Bryan S. Wright

(b Indianapolis, IN, May 21, 1888; d Pasadena, CA, Sept 1, 1972). American Composer and pianist. She was born into a musical family: her father, John Henry Aufderheide (1865–1941), was a semi-professional violinist and his sister, May Kolmer, was a noted pianist who performed with the Indianapolis SO and taught at the Metropolitan School of Music. Aufderheide learned classical piano with Kolmer, but showed more interest in popular music. While a teenager in finishing school in New York, she composed her first rag, “Dusty Rag” (1908), which was arranged by Paul Pratt and published initially by an acquaintance from Indianapolis, Cecil Duane Crabb. Following several months completing her education in Europe, in the spring of 1908 Aufderheide returned to Indiana, married Thomas M. Kaufman, and settled in Richmond, Indiana. “Dusty Rag” had not sold well in her absence owing to Crabb’s limited distribution, so when Aufderheide produced several more after her return, her father, a prominent banker, used his considerable resources to establish J.H. Aufderheide & Company to publish her works. He reissued “Dusty Rag” with greater success and in the three years that followed published roughly a dozen of his daughter’s rags, waltzes, and songs in addition to works by such other regional composers as Gladys Yelvington, Julia Lee Niebergall, Paul Pratt, and Crabb. Several of Aufderheide’s more popular piano rags were given lyrics and published in song form. Her career as a pianist and composer was brief, spanning just four years. Despite the commercial and critical success of her compositions “The Richmond Rag,” “The Thriller!,” “Buzzer Rag,” and “Blue Ribbon Rag,” by the age of 23 she had ceased composing. She and her husband adopted a daughter in ...

Article

Jefferey Wanser

[Lucas, Lemuel Eugene]

(b Gainesville, TX, June 24, 1900; d Palm Springs, CA, Jan 24, 1972). American singer, composer, and pianist. He received his stage name from his stepfather. He began his career by joining the circus at the age of 15 and soon thereafter reached New Orleans where he played piano in parlor houses. After military service in World War I, he met Roy Bergere, with whom he subsequently toured in a vaudeville duo. Austin began writing songs and moved on to work for Mills Music in New York as a demo singer. After he made his first recording for Victor Records (1924), his crooning style, influenced by African American work songs and cowboy singers, came to the attention of the producer Nat Shilkret, who teamed him with Aileen Stanley for a duet, “When my Sugar Walks down the Street” (Vic., 1925). Within months Austin became a star in his own right with hit songs such as “Ain’t she Sweet” and “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue,” and continued this streak throughout the 1920s with “My Blue Heaven” and “Girl of My Dreams,” among others. Austin then started his own music company, recorded with Fats Waller, and performed extensively on radio and in concert. In the early 1930s he also appeared in several Hollywood films as a singing cowboy. His singing style soon became outdated, and he began other ventures, including starting nightclubs in New Orleans, Hollywood, and Las Vegas, as well as traveling shows. He revived his singing career in the 1950s, when he appeared on television and in nightclubs. Austin composed or copyrighted 85 songs. His last appearance was at a New Year’s Eve concert in Miami in ...

Article

John L., Jr. Clark

[Calhoun, Cora]

(b Chattanooga, TN, Sept 19, 1887; d Chicago, IL, July 10, 1972). American jazz and blues pianist, composer, bandleader, arranger, and music director. After studying at Roger Williams University (Nashville) and Knoxville College, she performed on the TOBA circuit and toured accompanying her second husband Buster Austin. In the early 1920s Austin moved to Chicago, where for almost 20 years she directed shows for touring stage performers as the music director and bandleader at the Monogram and Joyland theaters. From 1923 to 1926 she also led the house band at Paramount Records, accompanying blues singers and making instrumental recordings featuring such jazz musicians as Tommy Ladnier, Al Wynn, Johnny Dodds, and Jimmy O’Bryant. After working in a defense plant during World War II, Austin returned to music, working in dancing schools. Her final recording, in 1961 for Riverside Records, was a reunion with her friend Alberta Hunter and several musicians she had previously worked with in Chicago....

Article

Holly George-Warren

[Orvon Grover]

(b Tioga, TX, Sept 29, 1907; d Los Angeles, CA, Oct 2, 1998). American country-music and popular singer, songwriter, and actor. He began his career singing on the radio station KVOO in Tulsa, while working as a relief telegraph operator for the Frisco Railroad. In October 1929 he went to New York to make his first recordings, which were much in the style of Jimmie Rodgers, for RCA Victor and several small independent labels; these were released under the name Gene Autry and led to a contract with the American Record Corporation, which was later taken over by the Columbia Broadcasting System; Autry’s recordings would then be issued by the Columbia Recording Co. In 1931 Autry had his first hit with “Silver Haired Daddy of Mine.” He moved to Chicago in 1932 to star on radio station WLS. There his singing-cowboy persona was developed on the National Barn Dance...

Article

Alexandra M. Apolloni

[Avallone, Francis Thomas]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Sept 8, 1940). American pop vocalist of Italian descent. His career spanned music, film, and television, helping to define the image of the post-war Teen idol. A virtuoso trumpeter, Avalon released instrumental singles early in his career and led a jazz group, Rocco and the Saints, based in Philadelphia. Chancellor Records signed Avalon as a vocalist, aiming to capitalize on his boyish looks. Avalon’s singles for Chancellor include “Venus,” which spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard charts in 1959, and its follow-up, “Why.” The smooth vocals and reverberant textures of these recordings defined Avalon’s sound. He was first and foremost a ballad singer, and his recordings positioned him as a tame alternative to rock and roll, while his charm and boy-next-door appeal propelled him to fame with middle-class teenage girls.

Avalon made frequent appearances on Dick Clark’s television show American Bandstand and his first film role was alongside Clark in ...

Article

Linda J. Daniel

(Wayne)

(b Duncan, OK, March 25, 1938; d nr Victor, MT, Oct 26, 1999). American singer-songwriter and actor. He took lessons in classical piano as a child and began playing guitar in his teens. His mother, Mae Boren Axton, co-wrote “Heartbreak Hotel,” which was a hit for Elvis Presley in 1956. Axton attended Oklahoma State University, where he excelled in football before leaving to serve in the navy. His music career began in the early 1960s, when he began performing as a singer-songwriter in the folk clubs of southern California. “Greenback Dollar,” a song he co-wrote with Ken Ramsey, became a hit for the Kingston Trio. In 1962 Axton signed with Horizon Records, which released his first album The Balladeer (Horizon, 1962), recorded live at the Troubadour in Hollywood, followed by Thunder’n Lightnin’ and Saturday’s Child (both Horizon, 1963). From 1964 to 1971 he was associated with several labels, including Vee-Jay, Surrey, Exodus, Columbia, and Capitol. His albums with A&M—...

Article

Cathy Ragland

(b General Terán, Nuevo León, México, June 29, 1911; d Donna, TX, Dec 1, 1990). Mexican accordionist, songwriter, and composer, active in the United States. Ayala was born into a musical family: his father played clarinet and accordion, his sisters played violin, and his brothers played accordion and guitar. In order to make a living, the Ayalas crossed the border to live in Donna, Texas, working in agriculture. Ayala accompanied his father at the age of ten on the tambora (small hand drum) playing polkas and huapangos in traditional Mexican tamborliero (drum and clarinet ensemble) style. He briefly played guitar in a local orquesta and with popular accordionist, Chon Alanis. Greatly influenced by Alanis, he switched to the accordion in the mid-1930s. Though he played professionally in the Rio Grande Valley region, he did not record until 1947, more than ten years after his contemporaries Narciso Martínez and Santiago Jiménez. His first recordings were made for an early Mexican American record label, Mira, which eventually became Falcón Records. His recordings earned him the title “El monarca del acordeón” (the Monarch of the Accordion) for his rapid-fire, uniquely syncopated playing style and eloquent articulation. He is also recognized for following Jiménez’s lead by featuring the ...

Article

Elijah Wald

[Ramón Covarrubias]

(b Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, Dec 8, 1945). Mexican accordionist, singer, and bandleader. Born in Monterrey and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Ramón Ayala has been the foremost figure in norteño music along the Gulf Coast and Texas border region since the 1970s. He first became famous in the 1960s as the accordionist and coleader of Los Relámpagos del Norte, with the singer-songwriter Cornelio Reyna; then formed his own band, Los Bravos del Norte, in 1971. In Mexico, Ayala is regarded as part of a great generation of border bandleaders, along with Carlos y José and Los Cadetes de Linares. North of the border, though, he has far outstripped his peers, and only California’s Los Tigres del Norte rival his ongoing popularity. Unlike the Tigres, who have consistently pushed norteño in new directions, Ayala is a traditionalist, and his success is due as much to his image as a hard-working, old-fashioned bearer of the classic tradition as to his intricate accordion passages and his keen eye for good material, from gunfighter corridos to romantically mournful ...

Article

Mark Lomanno

(b Los Angeles, CA, Sept 10, 1940). American vibraphonist. He grew up in a musical family and learned other instruments before taking up vibraphone at the age of 17, despite being given a pair of vibraphone mallets by Lionel Hampton as a child. In the 1960s he worked mainly in Los Angeles and was hired as the music director of Herbie Mann’s group after performing with the flutist in 1966. He recorded several successful albums with Mann, including Memphis Underground (1968, Atl.). After moving to New York, Ayers founded the ensemble Ubiquity (1970), which featured a line-up of musicians—veterans as well as newcomers—that changed regularly and a repertoire that drew from jazz, soul, pop, blues, and funk. Ayers found success among popular and disco audiences, notably with “Everybody loves the sunshine” (1976). After touring Nigeria with Fela Kuti in 1979, he was inspired to address social issues, and such themes subsequently shaped his album ...

Article

[Aznavourian, Varenagh]

(b Paris, May 22, 1924). French singer and songwriter. His parents were Armenian immigrants, and he began acting as a child. In 1941 he wrote the lyrics to the song J'ai bu, with music by Pierre Roche, and which brought the songwriting team to the attention of Edith Piaf. Aznavour subsequently wrote songs for Piaf (Il pleut, 1949), Gilbert Bécaud (Donne-moi, 1952) and Juliette Greco (Je hais les dimanches, 1950). As a singer, he toured with Piaf, but major success only came with Sur ma vie (1955). Such reflective and romantic songs as The Old-Fashioned Way and She (1974) brought him international acclaim, while numbers such as Hier encore (translated as Yesterday when I was Young) typify his introspective and melancholic style. His operetta, Monsieur Carnaval, was performed in Paris in 1965, and his film appearances include François Truffaut's ...

Article

Jesse Jarnow

(b Danville, IL, Dec 13, 1947). American entertainment executive. One of the most powerful businessmen in entertainment, Irving Azoff has led a successful career for more than four decades. He began promoting concerts in his hometown while still in high school. In the early 1970s, he moved to Los Angeles with client Joe Walsh and joined the management team connected to David Geffen’s Asylum Records. There, Azoff began working with the country-rock band the Eagles, and was soon joined by Walsh. When Geffen sold Asylum, Azoff co-founded Front Line Management in 1974, taking on the Eagles as his clients. He earned a reputation as one of the most feared managers in the business for both his temper and his political savvy, negotiating lucrative deals for a high-powered pop roster that also included Steely Dan, Stevie Nicks, and Chicago. In 1983, Azoff became president of MCA Records, expanding his interests into video and merchandise distribution, as well as the film industry. In ...

Article

Fred Everett Maus

Rock band. Its members have included Kate (Catherine Elizabeth) Pierson (b Weehawken, NJ, 27 April 1948; vocals and keyboards), Fred(erick William) Schneider (b Newark, NJ, 1 July 1951; vocals and novelty instruments), (Julian) Keith Strickland (b Athens, GA, 26 Oct 1953; percussion and electric guitar), Cindy (Cynthia Leigh) Wilson (b Athens, 28 Feb 1957; voice and bongos), and her brother Ricky (Helton) Wilson (b Athens, 19 March 1953; d New York, NY, 12 Oct 1985; electric guitar). From 2008 the group’s name has appeared without an apostrophe.

From 1977 the B-52’s were part of the music scene in Athens, Georgia, that nurtured R.E.M., Pylon, and Love Tractor. Soon thereafter the group performed in New York and in 1979 they released The B-52’s (WB), a danceable and stylistically eclectic album now considered a classic of post-punk rock. Pitched instruments include Ricky Wilson’s guitar, with non-standard tunings, and Pierson’s electric organ. Cindy Wilson sings solo; the women sing together, in unison or unconventional counterpoint; Schneider’s speech-song sometimes dominates, his camp delivery often depicting helpless exasperation. With each member’s contribution distinctly audible, the B-52’s emerge as a collaborative ensemble without hierarchy. The songs are sardonic, with deadpan delivery, some of them depicting sex acts, some reciting lists. Lyrics unfold over repeated riffs and draw on popular culture, including science fiction and beach movies....

Article

Steven Baur

[BTO]

Canadian rock band formed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1971. They had significant success in the early 1970s, notably in October 1974 when three of their albums were in the Billboard album chart: Not Fragile (no.1), Bachman-Turner Overdrive II (no.26), and Bachman-Turner Overdrive (no.127). Originally called Brave Belt before signing with Mercury Records, BTO was led by Randy Bachman (b Winnipeg, 27 Sept 1943; electric guitar and vocals), and featured the brothers Robbie (b Winnipeg, 18 Feb 1953; drums) and Tim Bachman (b Winnipeg, 1 Aug 1951; electric guitar and vocals), and Fred Turner (b Winnipeg, 16 Oct 1943; bass guitar and vocals). Blair Thornton (b Vancouver, British Columbia, 23 July 1950) replaced Tim Bachman in 1974 and subsequent line-up changes ensued. The band’s name, inspired by a trucking magazine, its logo, a cog emblazoned with the band’s initials, and many of their songs suggest the power of industrial machinery and the freedom associated with the open highway. Combined with their rugged, burly image, this formula attracted a large, predominantly male following. The band’s sound, described as “heavy duty rock” by Turner, featured robust guitars, driving drums, and Turner’s low, growling voice. Unapologetically geared for commercial success, BTO embraced basic song structures with straightforward lyrics addressing accessible themes, which, along with their catchy riffs, strong hooks, high production values, and professionalism, align them with so-called corporate rock. Their major hits, including “Taking Care of Business,” “Hey You,” “Roll on Down the Highway,” and “Let it Ride,” remain stalwarts of classic and album-oriented rock radio and are used frequently for advertisements and sporting events....

Article

Craig Jennex

American boy band formed in Orlando, Florida, in 1993. Founded by the teen-pop aficionado Lou Pearlman, the group became part of a hugely successful teen-pop movement in the late 1990s. Its best-known line-up was Nick Carter (b Jamestown, NY, 28 Jan 1980), Howie Dorough (b Orlando, FL, 22 Aug 1973), Brian Littrell (b Lexington, KY, 20 Feb 1975), A(lexander) J(ames) McLean (b Palm Beach, FL, 9 Jan 1978), and, until 2006, Kevin Richardson (b Lexington, 3 Oct 1971). Their albums include Backstreet Boys (Jive Records, 1996), Backstreet’s Back (Jive Records, 1997), Millennium (Jive Records, 1999), Black & Blue (Jive Records, 2000), Never Gone (Jive Records, 2005), Unbreakable (Jive Records, 2007), and This is Us (Jive Records, 2009). The band was widely known and celebrated in Europe, Asia, and Canada before becoming popular in the United States. By the 2010s they had sold more than 130 million records worldwide and were considered the most successful boy band of all time. The Backstreet Boys have been recognized internationally with awards from MTV Europe (...

Article

Robert B. Winans

revised by Jonas Westover

(b Holyoke, MA, Jan 17, 1871; d Newfane, VT, Nov 18, 1948). American banjoist and banjo maker. He began his career playing with a medicine show and a Wild West show, then from 1890 to 1915 performed in a vaudeville act with his wife. He studied with ALFRED A. FARLAND in the mid- 1890s and about 1897 organized the Bacon Banjo Quintette. He toured with the Bacon Trio in 1905–6, and made another very successful tour in 1908 with “The Big Three,” consisting of himself, the guitarist William Foden, and the mandolinist Guiseppe Pettine. Bacon continued to play into the 1940s and his few recordings attest to his virtuoso performances; contemporary reviewers praised his tone, his great technique, and the expressiveness of his playing. He taught, published several method books, and wrote many arrangements and compositions for five-string banjo. Bacon also designed banjos, bringing out his first instrument in ...

Article

Lukas Pearse

Hardcore punk rock group. Formed in Washington, DC in 1977, its classic lineup includes guitarist Dr. Know (Gary Miller), bassist Darryl Jenifer, drummer Earl Hudson, and vocalist H.R. (Earl’s brother, Paul D. Hudson). The group remained active into 2011, despite various breakups, departures, and reunions. Originally formed as a jazz fusion group, but inspired by punk rock and reggae, Bad Brains pioneered the extremely fast and loud style that became known as Hardcore, influencing bands such as Minor Threat and Black Flag. Integrating reggae songs, complex rhythms, heavy metal and jazz-influenced guitar solos, and unison riffs—all unusual in hardcore—Bad Brains remains highly distinctive. Its lyrics often explore themes of Rastafarianism and social-political consciousness.

Although one of the definitive 1980s hardcore bands, the group’s popularity was hampered by erratic touring and poor distribution of their recordings. Nevertheless, their influence has been acknowledged by subsequent groups such as the Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Living Colour....

Article

Jonas Westover

[Wright, Erica Abi ]

(b Dallas, TX, Feb 26, 1971). American singer, songwriter, and producer. She was singing for audiences by the age of four and cultivated her skills at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She briefly attended Grambling State University, but left to develop her music career and soon landed a contract with Universal Records. She became an immediate sensation; her first recording, Baduizm (Universal, 1997), reached number two on the Billboard charts, while its top single “On and On” received widespread attention and airplay. Her dark, breathy vocal style, reminiscent of jazz and soul singing, earned her two Grammy awards and four nominations. She went on to release a live album, Erykah Badu Live (Universal, 1997), and to work on a number of side projects with other artists, notably providing the hook for the Roots’ song “You got me.” After a brief respite she returned with ...

Article

Mark C. Samples

(Chandos)

(b Staten Island, NY, Jan 9, 1941). American folk singer, songwriter, and activist. She was born to a Mexican father and Scottish mother. A self-taught singer and guitarist she began performing informally for classmates as a way to make friends. She became enthralled with folk music as a high school student in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her polished soprano voice and deft finger-picking style gained her local attention, and a guest performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 was her first major professional success. After a short time attending Boston University Baez left to pursue her music career, which proceeded rapidly. She released six successful albums with Vanguard Records in the first half of the 1960s and toured widely. Her repertoire in these years consisted principally of traditional songs, but subsequently included new folk songs written by such contemporaries as Phil Ochs (“There but for Fortune”) and Bob Dylan (“It ain’t me babe” and “Farewell, Angelina”). Dylan’s songs became a staple for Baez, and the two had a high-profile but short romance. Baez was a bona fide folk star and used her celebrity to advocate for civil rights and protest against the Vietnam War. She was married to the anti-war activist David Harris from ...