The Foundations

Image result for the foundations

Image result for the foundations

Image result for the foundations

Image result for the foundations

The Foundations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Foundations
Origin London, England
Genres Soul
Years active 1967–1970
Labels Pye, Castle, Uni
Past members 1966-1968
Eric Allandale
Arthur Brown
Pat Burke
Clem Curtis
Mike Elliott
Tony Gomez
Tim Harris
Peter MacBeth
Alan Warner

1968-1970
Eric Allandale
Pat Burke
Tony Collinge
Tony Gomez
Tim Harris
Peter MacBeth
Alan Warner
Colin Young

1970-1971
Eric Allandale
Steve Bingham
Pat Burke
Tony Gomez
Tim Harris
Paul Lockey
Alan Warner
Colin Young

The Foundations were a British soul band, active from 1967 to 1970. The group, made up of West Indians, White British, and a Sri Lankan, are best known for their two biggest hits, “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” (number one in the UK Singles Chart and Canada, and number eleven in the US), written by Tony Macaulay and John MacLeod; and “Build Me Up Buttercup” (number two in the UK and number three on the US Billboard Hot 100), co-written by Macaulay with Mike d’Abo, at the time the lead vocalist with Manfred Mann. The group was the first multi-racial group to have a number one hit in the UK in the 1960s.[1]

The Foundations were one of the few British acts to successfully imitate what became known as the Motown Sound. The Foundations signed to Pye, at the time one of only four big UK record companies (the others being EMI with its HMV, Columbia Records, and Parlophone labels; Decca; and Philips who also owned Fontana).[2]

Biography[edit]

Origins[edit]

The Foundations drew much interest and intrigue due to the size and structure of the group. Not only was there a diverse ethnic mix in the group, but there was also diversity in ages and musical backgrounds. The oldest member of the group was Mike Elliott, who was 38 years old. The youngest was Tim Harris, who, at 18, was barely out of school. The West Indian horn section, which consisted of Jamaican-born Mike Elliott and Pat Burke, both saxophonists and Dominican-born Eric Allandale on trombone. They were all highly experienced musicians who came from professional jazz and rock-and-roll backgrounds. Mike Elliott had played in various jazz and rock and roll bands including Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott,[3] the Cabin Boys (led by Tommy Steele‘s brother, Colin Hicks), and others. Pat Burke, a professional musician, was from the London Music Conservatorium. Eric Allandale had led his own band at one stage as well as having played with Edmundo Ros and being a former member of the Terry Lightfoot[4] and Alex Welsh bands. Alan Warner was the guitarist. Bassist Peter Macbeth was a former teacher. Tony Gomez, the keyboard player, was a former clerk, while Clem Curtis had been an interior decorator and professional boxer.

The story of the origins of the Foundations can be somewhat surprising and a bit confusing as to who was responsible for choosing the band’s name, and various sources give slightly different accounts of their beginnings. One version is that they were originally called The Ramong Sound,[5][6] or The Ramongs, and there were two lead singers, Clem Curtis and Raymond Morrison aka Ramong Morrison. When Raymond was imprisoned for six months a friend of the band suggested Psychedelic shock rocker Arthur Brown.[7]

The Foundations actually did come together in Bayswater, London in January 1967. They practiced and played in a basement club called the Butterfly Club, which they ran.[8] While managing the club themselves, they played music nightly, and handled the cooking and cleaning. They would get to bed around 6 or 7 a.m., sleep until 4 p.m., get up and begin again to get ready to open at 8 p.m. Sometimes they barely made enough money to pay the rent, let alone feed themselves. At times, they lived off the leftovers and a couple of pounds of rice.[9]

Career from 1967[edit]

The biography on Allmusic states that Barry Class was the first to discover them.[1]

When they were at the top spot with “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You”, Fairway commented to Melody Maker that most management would pull them out of the “bargain priced dates” that were booked for some time. He expressed gratitude to everyone for their support, and said that they would fulfill every engagement for which they had signed.[3]

Not long after “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” became a hit, rock historian Roger Dopson describes what followed as a “behind the scenes struggle”,[3] where Fairway was “pushed out” and his partner, Barry Class, remained as sole manager of the group. Fairway later attempted to sue the band, alleging that he was wrongfully dismissed, though the band said that he had resigned of his own accord.[10] Dopson also noted that Fairway also leaked a story to the media saying that the Foundations had broken up which only served to keep the Foundations name in the news headlines.[3] [11] The day Macaulay came to hear them play, he was suffering from what he described as the worst hangover of his life. The band was playing so loud he could not judge how good they were, but he decided to give them a chance.[3] He would later comment in the book, 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, that he woke up that morning with a stinking headache, and when he got to the studio and heard the Foundations, he thought they were pretty terrible. He decided his hangover was to blame, and so he gave them the benefit of the doubt.[12]

At first they found progress quite slow, and one of their sax players, Pat Burke, had to drop out of the band and take another job while they went through a rough patch. He did rejoin them again later in 1967.[13] [14]

Curtis doubted if this group called The Toys was the original Toys let alone American. They were noticed by Brian Epstein who added them to the roster of his NEMS Agency but the contract became void when he died.[15]

When “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” was first released it went nowhere. Luckily the BBC‘s newly founded BBC Radio 1 were looking to avoid any records being played by the pirate radio stations and they looked back at some recent releases that the pirate stations had missed. “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” was one of them. The single then took off and by November was number one in the UK Singles Chart.[2] This was the ideal time because of the soul boom that was happening in England since 1965 and with American R&B stars visiting the UK, interest and intrigue in the Foundations was generated. Their second single released in January 1968, “Back On My Feet Again“, did not do as well but made it to #18 in the UK,[2] and #29 in Canada. Also in January 1968 they were invited to put down some tracks for John Peel‘s radio show. One of the tracks that they laid down was a cover of ? and the Mysterians garage classic “96 Tears“.[16][17] On the same day, PP Arnold was in the studio with Dusty Springfield and Madeline Bell as her backing vocalists.[16]

The Foundations did tour the United States after their first hit and they toured 32 states with Big Brother And The Holding Company, Maxine Brown, Tim Buckley, Solomon Burke, The Byrds, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and The Fifth Dimension.[18]

Around this time after the release of their second single, tensions developed between the band and their songwriter/producer, Tony Macaulay. He would not allow them to record any of their own songs.[1] In an interview, the band’s organ player, Tony Gomez, told the New Musical Express (NME) in an interview that he, Peter MacBeth, and Eric Allandale had some ideas that they wanted to put together. Curtis later recalled that Macaulay was a problem. “Tony Macaulay was very talented, but could be difficult to get on with. When we asked to record some of our own material – just as B sides, we weren’t after the A side – he called us ‘ungrateful’ and stormed out of the studio.”[3] The group felt that Macaulay had reined in their “real” sound, making them seem more pop-oriented than they were.[1] Tony Macaulay was later to recall, “I was never close to the Foundations. I couldn’t stand them, and they hated me! But the body of work we recorded was excellent.”[3]

A third single, also released in 1968 “Any Old Time (You’re Lonely and Sad)”, reached #48.[2]

Curtis and Elliott leave group[edit]

Original vocalist Curtis left in 1968, because he felt that a couple of the band’s members were taking it a bit too easy, thinking that because they had now had a hit, they did not have to put in as much effort as they had previously.[1] Saxophonist Mike Elliott also left around this time and was never replaced. Curtis hung around and helped them audition a replacement singer. They auditioned 200 singers. It was reported in a NME article in 1968 that Curtis while being interviewed at a festival had mentioned that they were trying out Warren Davis to replace him. He said he would not leave the band until they found a replacement. He had become friendly with Sammy Davis, Jr. and was encouraged to try his luck in the United States. He moved to the US for a solo career on the club circuit, encouraged by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Sam & Dave, playing Las Vegas with The Righteous Brothers. His successful replacement was Colin Young.

New lead singer[edit]

With Young the band had two more big hits; “Build Me Up Buttercup” which was their third hit in 1968 and “In the Bad Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)” which was a hit in April 1969,[2] and reached #23 in Canada 5 May that year.

At the height of their popularity, the Foundations management were in negotiations and a UK TV company for a television series that would star members of the band. They had turned down a number of offers to appear in films because of script unsuitability.[19]

Bassist Peter Macbeth left the band in 1969, to join the group Bubastis with Bernie Living,[20][21] and was replaced by Steve Bingham.

Beginning of 1970 to the breakup in late 1970[edit]

After a successful run of hits, the Foundations broke off with their management and a Bill Graham-sponsored tour to support The Temptations at the newly opened Copacabana club. This ended up in disaster and the band came back to the UK in low spirits. It had been previously reported in a publicity sheet around early December 1969 that the band had broken away from their manager Barry Class, during the week of their departure from Barry Class, another bass player Tony Collinge joined the band. Jim Dawson who was formerly their agent and Mike Dolan took over the group’s affairs.[22] The group’s final hits were “Born to Live, Born to Die” which was written by Eric Allandale and Tony Gomez.[23] and “My Little Chickadee“, a US only hit which barely made the hot 100. Another member joined the band in 1970. Paul Lockey who had been with Robert Plant in Band Of Joy joined as their bass guitarist.[24]

“My Little Chickadee” proved to be the band’s last hit. In spite of releasing “Take A Girl Like You“, the title song to the Oliver Reed and Hayley Mills film, and a heavy blues rock song “I’m Gonna Be A Rich Man”, the band split in late 1970.[25]

1971 to the end of the 1970s[edit]

The last record released in the early 1970s as “The Foundations” was a single “Stoney Ground” b/w “I’ll Give You Love” MCA MCA 5075 1971.[26] There would be two more singles released as “The Foundations” in the mid to late 1970s.

When Curtis returned to the UK, he formed a new version of the group with little success in spite of releasing several singles, but later had a lucrative spell on the 1960s nostalgia circuit. Curtis’ re-formed Foundations have on several occasions and among the many musicians to be part of latter day Foundations were Bill [27] and John Springate, the latter becoming a member of The Glitter Band,[28] Derek “Del” Watson, Paul Wilmot (all members of the band Elegy) and Roy Carter who later on joined Heatwave.[29]

Also in the 1970s there would be a collaborative attempt between two former members of the Foundations. Original Foundations trombonist Eric Allandale attempted to work with original Foundations drummer Tim Harris.[30]

In the mid-1970s, while Clem Curtis and the Foundations were on the road, there was also another Foundations line up that was led by Colin Young who were on the road at the same time, who were playing basically the same material. This eventually led to court action which resulted in Curtis being allowed to bill his group as either the Foundations or Clem Curtis & the Foundations. Young was allowed to bill himself as “The New Foundations”, or as “Colin Young & the New Foundations”.[3]

Also in the mid-1970s, Young and his group, The New Foundations, released a lone single on Pye, “Something For My Baby” / “I Need Your Love”.[3] There were actually two more singles released in the late 1970s as the Foundations. They were “Where Were You When I Needed Your Love” / “Love Me Nice And Easy” and “Closer To Loving You” / “Change My Life” on the Summit and Psycho labels.[31] These featured Curtis as the lead singer.

Various sources erroneously state that there was an early 1970s English line up that had nothing, or little to do with, the original Foundations. However, Curtis has been leading a new line up of the Foundations since coming back to the UK and reforming the group in the early 1970s.

1980s to present[edit]

There has also been another line up formed in 1999 that included Young (vocals), Alan Warner (Guitar), Steve Bingham (bass), Gary Moberly (keyboards), Tony Laidlaw (sax) and Sam Kelly then Steve Dixon (drums). This version of the group was reformed due to the popularity of the film There’s Something About Mary and the interest created resulting from the 1968 hit “Build Me Up Buttercup” being featured in the film. Some time later Young left this version of the group and was replaced by Hue Montgomery (aka Hugh Montgomery).

Clem Curtis died on 27 March 2017 at the age of 76.[32]

Former personnel[edit]

The Foundations[edit]

Guests[edit]

  • Mike D’Abo :piano – b. Michael David D’Abo, 1 March 1944, Betchworth, Surrey. Co-wrote and guested on “Build Me Up Buttercup” contributing piano.
  • John Mcleod: piano

Clem Curtis & The Foundations[edit]

  • Clem Curtis: vocals
  • James Colah: keyboards
  • Michael J. Parlett: saxophone
  • Alan Warner: guitar [3]
  • Roy Carter: bass guitar [29]
  • George Chandler: backing vocals
  • Valentine Pascal: electric guitar

1970s line-up[edit]

  • Clem Curtis: Vocals
  • Bill Springate: guitar
  • John Springate: Vocals
  • Del Watson: Bass
  • Paul Wilmot : Drums
  • John Paul: ? [35]

1977 line-up[edit]

  • Clem Curtis: Vocals
  • Leroy Carter
  • John Savile
  • Valentine Pascal
  • Georges Delanbanque [36]

Discography[edit]

Summary of single releases

From the bands beginning to their breakup near the end of 1970, the Foundations released ten singles in the UK including two versions of the same song. A good deal of the songs on the singles were composed by Tony Macaulay and John Macleod. They had four significant hits from these plus a minor hit with one of their own compositions, “Born To Live, Born To Die”.They had minor hit with “My Little Chickadee” in the United States. This was written by Tony Macaulay and John Macleod.[37] There were other titles announced that were either never recorded or were never released. They were “Our Love Went Thataway”,[38] “Tear Jerker, Music-worker, You” which was to be released around the same time as “Better By Far” by Lulu and “No Place On Earth Could Find You”.[39] In 1971 the single “Stoney Ground” was released. It is believed that this single was actually by Colin Young and his new backing band Development. It seems quite likely as the Colin Young and Development debut single “Any Time At All” pre-dates “Stoney Ground”. In the mid and late seventies there were two more singles released under the Foundations name. They were “Where Were You When I Needed Your Love” and “Closer To Loving You” which featured the Northern Soul classic “Change My Life” as the B side. These last two singles to bear the Foundations name featured Clem Curtis once more as the lead vocalist.

Summary of album releases

During the 1960s the Foundations recorded and released four LPs in the United Kingdom. Before the release of their debut album, it was originally announced, in the October 1967 of Beat Instrumental Monthly that the debut album’s title was to be Sound Basis.[9] However, when it was released on Pye, it had the title of From The Foundations. The American version of this album, which was released on the Uni label, was given the title of Baby, Now That I’ve Found You. This album featured Curtis on lead vocals. The next release was in 1968. It was a live LP called Rocking The Foundations, and also featured Curtis on lead vocals plus two instrumentals “The Look of Love” and “Coming Home Baby.” Also in 1968, another LP was released, this time on the Marble Arch label. This self-titled third album featured re-recordings of their previous hits and songs, but with Young on vocals instead of Curtis. It also featured a version of a new track, “Build Me Up Buttercup.” There was also a second American album released called Build Me Up Buttercup. This release was a compilation of Foundations tracks. Side one consisted of tracks from their Rocking The Foundations album, while side two consisted of “Build Me Up Buttercup,” the B side of that single, plus some earlier Foundations tracks. The group’s last LP release was Digging The Foundations in 1969, which featured their hit “In The Bad Bad Old Days” and the minor U.S. hit “My Little Chickadee.” A track “Why Does She Keep On” that was mentioned in the 26 April 1969 issue of Billboard magazine was not included.[40] Since then, there have been various compilations of the Foundations songs, released on both the Golden Hour and PRT labels.

UK singles[edit]

  • Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” / “Come On Back to Me” – Pye 7N 17366 – 1967 – UK #1
  • Back on My Feet Again” / “I Can Take or Leave Your Loving” – Pye 7N 17417 – 1968 – UK #18
  • Any Old Time (You’re Lonely And Sad)” / “We Are Happy People” – Pye 7N 17503 -1968 – UK #48
  • Build Me Up Buttercup” / “New Direction” Pye 7N 17636 – 1968 – UK #2
  • In the Bad Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)” / “Give Me Love” – Pye 7N 17702 – 1969 – UK #8
  • Born to Live, Born to Die” / “Why Did You Cry” – Pye 7N 17809 1969 – UK #46
  • “Baby, I Couldn’t See” / “Penny Sir” – Pye 7N 17849 – 1969
  • Take A Girl Like You” / “I’m Gonna Be A Rich Man” – Pye – 7N 17904 – 1970
  • “I’m Gonna be a Rich Man” / “In The Beginning” Pye 7N 17956 – 1970
  • “Stoney Ground” / “I’ll Give You Love” – MCA MKS 5075–1971
  • “Where Were You When I Needed Your Love” / “Love Me Nice And Easy” – Summit SU 100
  • “Closer To Loving You” / “Change My Life” – Psycho P 2603–1978
  • “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” / “Build Me Up Buttercup” – Old Gold OG9407 – (1979 Re-release)
  • “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” / “Build Me Up Buttercup” – Flashback FBS 6 – (1979 Re-release)
  • “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” (1989 Re Mix) / “Build Me Up Buttercup” – PRT PYS 24 – 1989
  • “Build Me Up Buttercup” – CD single – (1998 Re-release) – UK #71

[2] [31]

UK original albums[edit]

  • From the Foundations – Pye NSPL 18206 – 1967
  • Rocking the Foundations – Pye NSPL 18227 – 1968 (live album)
  • Digging the Foundations – Pye NSPL 18290 – 1969

UK compilation albums[edit]

  • The Foundations – Marble Arch MALS 1157–1968
  • Golden Hour of the Foundations (Greatest Hits) – GH 574 – 1973
  • Back to the Beat – PRT DOW7 – 1983
  • Best Of – PRT PYL 4003–1987

UK EPs 7″[edit]

  • “It’s All Right” – Pye NEP24297 – 1968
  • “Mini Monster” – Pye PMM.103

UK EPs 12″[edit]

  • “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” – Pye Big Deal BD 107 – (4 tracks)
  • “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” – PRT Pyt 24 – 1989 – (3 tracks incl remix)

UK CDs[edit]

  • Golden Hour Of The Foundations – Knight Records KGH CD 104 – 1990
  • Strong Foundations – The Singles and More – Music Club – MCCD 327 – 1997
  • Build Me Up Buttercup – Castle Select SELCD 527 – 1998
  • Baby, Now That I’ve Found You – Sequel Records – NEECD 300 – 1999
  • Build Me Up Buttercup (The Complete Pye Collection) [Remastered] – Castle – 2004

US singles[edit]

  • Baby Now That I’ve Found You” / “Come On Back To Me” – Uni 55038 – 1967 US #11
  • Back on My Feet Again” / “I Can Take or Leave Your Loving” – Uni 55058 – 1968 – US #59
  • “Any Old Time (You’re Lonely And Sad)” / “We Are Happy People” – Uni 55073 -1968
  • Build Me Up Buttercup” / “New Direction” – Uni 55101 – 1968 – US #3
  • “In The Bad Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)” / “Give Me Love” – Uni 55117 – 1969 – US #51
  • “Born To Live, Born To Die” / “Why Did You Cry” – Uni 55162 – 1969
  • My Little Chickadee” / “Solomon Grundy” – Uni 55137 – 1969 – US #99
  • “Take A Girl Like You” / “I’m Gonna Be A Rich Man” – Uni 55210 – 1970
  • “Stoney Ground” / “I’ll Give You Love” – Uni 55315 – 1971
  • “Build Me Up Buttercup” / “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” – Eric 192 (Re-release)

US albums[edit]

  • Baby Now That I’ve Found You – Uni 3016 (Mono)/73016 (Stereo) — 1967
  • Build Me Up Buttercup – Uni 73043 — 1968 – US #92
  • Digging The Foundations – Uni 73058 — 1969

Canadian singles[edit]

  • “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” – Pye 827—1968 – #1
  • “Back On My Feet Again” – Pye 833 – #29
  • “Build Me Up Buttercup” – Pye 17636 – #1
  • “In the Bad Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)” – Pye 17702 – #23

TRIBUTE TO…Clem Curtis (THE FOUNDATIONS)

Image result for clem curtis

Image result for clem curtis

Image result for clem curtis

Clem Curtis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Clem Curtis
Birth name Clem Curtis
Born (1940-11-28)28 November 1940
Trinidad, West Indies
Died 27 March 2017(2017-03-27) (aged 76)
Genres Soul, R&B, pop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments vocals
Years active 1966–2017
Labels Acid Jazz Records, EMI, Pye Records, Riverdale
Associated acts Arthur Brown, Clem Curtis & The Foundations, Donnie Elbert, Mike Elliott, The Foundations, Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, Lord Large, The Ramong Sound, The Travelling Wrinklies, Alan Warner, Colin Young

Clem Curtis (28 November 1940 – 27 March 2017) was a Trinidadian British singer, who was the original lead vocalist of sixties soul group The Foundations.

Early years[edit]

Born in Trinidad, Curtis arrived in England at the age of fifteen and later found employment as an interior decorator. He entered boxing and won most of his fights as a professional boxer. His mother was a popular singer in Trinidad and Curtis claims that this contributed to his ear for music.

1966 to 1968[edit]

Between 1966 and 1967 Curtis joined The Ramong Sound. He joined the group after hearing from his uncle that Ramong, Raymond Morrison, the lead singer of the group, was looking for backing singers. Curtis initially had very limited singing experience, only singing with his uncle when he came around the house with the guitar.[1] After losing their original lead singer, the band took on board Arthur Brown temporarily, and went through a few name changes before they became The Foundations[2] and emerged in January 1967 with Curtis as their lead singer. The Foundations would go on to have worldwide hits with “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” and “Build Me Up Buttercup“. Curtis is the lead voice on their hits “Baby Now That I’ve Found You”, “Back on My Feet Again“, and “Any Old Time (You’re Lonely and Sad)”.

After having found success with The Foundations, two hit singles and releasing two albums, some problems started with their songwriter producer Tony Macaulay as well within the group. Curtis felt that after their hit a couple of The Foundations members were taking things a little too easy thinking that they did not need to work so hard now that they had scored a hit.[citation needed] After being disillusioned with the band, he along with another member, Mike Elliott, left The Foundations in 1968 just after recording a version of “It’s All Right”, a song that they had been playing live for some time. He stuck around long enough to help the band audition a replacement, Colin Young. Curtis went on to pursue a solo career in the United States. This was probably helped along by the encouragement of his friend Sammy Davis, Jr.[3]

1970s to 2017[edit]

After some well-received club appearances and hanging out with artists such as Wilson Pickett, and staying with The Cowsills, he did not receive enough work and decided to return to England in the early 1970s. He did some work with Donnie Elbert and Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon and later reformed a version of The Foundations.

Over the years, Curtis fronted various line-ups of The Foundations, as well as appearing on his own as a solo artist. He recorded and released records on various record labels, including EMI, Opium, Pye Records, RCA Records, Riverdale, and others. In 1977 Clem Curtis and The Foundations nearly got into the Eurovision final with “Where Were You When I Needed Your Love”,[4] a John Macleod and Dave Meyers composition.[5] They came third in the heats, and were picked as a favourite to win, but an electricians’ strike ruined their chances, and “Rock Bottom” by Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran was the winner.[3]

In the late 1980s, Curtis joined the line-up of “The Corporation”, also referred to as “the Traveling Wrinklies”, which was a parody of sorts of the popular Traveling Wilburys. The Traveling Wrinklies were composed of Curtis, Mike Pender, Brian Poole, Tony Crane, and Reg Presley, former lead singer of The Troggs. They released a single “Ain’t Nothing But A House Party” on the Corporation label in 1988.

In the late 1980s, Curtis teamed up with original Foundations guitarist Alan Warner to re-cut the original Foundations hits.[3]

Curtis appeared on stage as the Lion in The Wiz at the Lyric Hammersmith, and gave a successful gospel stage performance in Amen Corner at The Lyric in Shaftesbury Avenue. He has also appeared on TV chat shows, the British reality television series Airport, and had a bit part in the ITV series The Bill.

In 2004 Curtis toured the UK as part of a soul package tour with Jimmy James & The Vagabonds. At the end of a show he was invited back on stage by Jimmy James who said “I don’t like him and he don’t like me but that’s all right. Here’s Clem Curtis.” They then did “Love Train” together.[6]

Curtis recorded and performed until near the end of his life; he was regularly seen as part of the “soul explosion” night with former Flirtations singer Earnestine Pearce and Jimmy James at resorts such as Butlins and Warner Leisure Hotels in the United Kingdom.[7][8][9][10] He also appeared on cruises such as the cruise ship “Azura”, which docked in Southampton.[11]

He died on 27 March 2017 at the age of 76.[12]

Partial discography[edit]

7″ vinyl recordings
Title Year Act Label catalogue #
Marie Take A Chance / Caravan[13] 1969 Clem Curtis United Artists UP 2263
Mountain Over The Hill / Time Alone Will Tell[14] 1971 Clem Curtis Pye Records 7N 45070
I’ve Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do) / Point of No Return[14] 197? Clem Curtis Pye Records 7N 45149
I Don’t Care What People Say / Shame on You[15] 1974 Clem Curtis EMI EMI 2159
Unchained Melody / Need Your Love 1978 Clem Curtis RCA PB 5175
Stuck in a Wind Up / Move Over Daddy[16] 2005 Lord Large Featuring Clem Curtis Acid Jazz AJX 174 S
12″ vinyl recordings
Title Year Act Label Catalogue #
Unchained Melody, Need Your Love / Need Your Love[17] 1979 Clem Curtis RCA Victor PC 5175
Dancing in the Street / Scottish Beat Party 198? Clem Curtis Pressure DD 1006
Baby Now That I’ve Found You (Extended Version) / Baby Now That I’ve Found You (7″ Version), Baby Now That I’ve Found You (Busk Mix)[18] 1987 Clem Curtis & The Foundations Opium Records OPINT 001
Promise (The Saxual Mix), Promise (The Funky Trip) / Promise (Jon’s in the Garage), Promise (Original Honesty Mix), Promise (Drummie Zeb Dubbed Up Mix)[19] 1992 The Promise, Feat Clem Curtis Hard Discs HARD T 3

The Quarrymen

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The Quarrymen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Quarrymen
Quarrymen In Rosebery Street.jpg

The Quarrymen performing in Rosebery Street, Liverpool on 22 June 1957.[1] (Left to right: Hanton, Griffiths, Lennon, Garry, Shotton, and Davis)
Background information
Also known as The Blackjacks, Johnny and the Moondogs, Japage 3
Origin Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Genres
Years active 1956 (1956)[2]–1960 (1960), 1994 (1994)-1995 (1995), 1997 (1997)–present
Labels Griffin, Quarrymen Records, Sony BMG
Associated acts The Les Stewart Quartet, the Beatles
Website www.originalquarrymen.co.uk
Members
Past members

The Quarrymen (also written as “the Quarry Men“) are a British skiffle/rock and roll group, formed by John Lennon in Liverpool in 1956,[2] which eventually evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Originally consisting of Lennon and several schoolfriends, the Quarrymen took their name from a line in the school song of Quarry Bank High School, which they attended. Lennon’s mother, Julia Lennon, taught her son to play the banjo and then showed Lennon and Eric Griffiths how to tune their guitars in a similar way to the banjo, and taught them simple chords and songs.

Lennon started a skiffle group that was very briefly called the Blackjacks, but changed the name before any public performances. Some accounts credit Lennon with choosing the new name; other accounts credit his close friend Pete Shotton with suggesting the name. The Quarrymen played at parties, school dances, cinemas and amateur skiffle contests before Paul McCartney joined the band in October 1957. George Harrison joined the band in early 1958 at McCartney’s recommendation, though Lennon initially resisted because he felt Harrison (still 14 when he was first introduced to Lennon) to be too young. Both McCartney and Harrison attended the Liverpool Institute.

The group made an amateur recording of themselves in 1958, performing Buddy Holly‘s “That’ll Be the Day” and “In Spite of All the Danger“, a song written by McCartney and Harrison. The group moved away from skiffle and towards rock and roll, causing several of the original members to leave. This left only a trio of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, who performed under several other names, including Johnny and the Moondogs and Japage 3 before returning to the Quarrymen name in 1959. In 1960, the group changed its name to the Beatles, and went on to have an extremely successful recording career.

In 1997 the four surviving original members of the Quarrymen reunited to perform at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the garden fete performance at which Lennon and McCartney met for the first time. The band decided to continue playing, and since 1998 have performed in many countries throughout the world, releasing four albums. As of 2016, three original members are still actively performing as the Quarrymen.

History[edit]

Formation and early performances[edit]

In the mid-1950s, there was a revival in the United Kingdom of the musical form “skiffle” that had originated in the United States and had been popular in the US in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. In addition to its popularity among British teenagers as music to listen to, it also spawned a craze of teenage boys starting their own groups to perform the music. One of the primary attractions was that it did not require great musical skills or expensive instruments to be played.[3] Early British skiffle was played by traditional jazz musicians, with the most successful British proponent of the genre in the 1950s being Lonnie Donegan.[4] The Quarrymen’s initial repertoire included several songs that Donegan had recorded.[5] When Lennon wanted to try making music himself, he and fellow Quarry Bank school friend, Griffiths, took guitar lessons in Hunt’s Cross, Liverpool, although Lennon gave up the lessons soon after, as they were based on theory and not actual playing.[6]

As Griffiths already knew how to play the banjo, Lennon’s mother showed them how to tune the top four strings of their guitars to the same notes as a banjo, taught them the chords of D, C, and D7, and the Fats Domino song, “Ain’t That a Shame“.[6][7] They practised at Lennon’s aunt’s house (called Mendips) at 251 Menlove Avenue where Lennon lived, or at Griffiths’ house in Halewood Drive.[8] They learned how to play “Rock Island Line“, “Jump Down Turn Around (Pick a Bale of Cotton)”, “Alabamy Bound” and “Cumberland Gap“, and later learned how to play “That’s All Right” and “Mean Woman Blues“.[9][8]

Lennon and Griffiths decided to form a skiffle group in November 1956.[10] This initial line-up consisted of Lennon and Griffiths on guitars, and school friends Pete Shotton and Bill Smith on washboard and tea chest bass, respectively.[11][12] The group, initially called the Blackjacks, quickly changed their name to the Quarrymen. Both Lennon and Shotton have been credited with coining the name Quarrymen after a line in their school’s song: “Quarrymen, old before our birth. Straining each muscle and sinew”. The choice of name was tongue-in-cheek as Lennon regarded the reference in the school song to “straining each muscle and sinew” as risible.[5][13] Smith’s tenure in the band was extremely short, and was replaced in quick succession by Nigel Walley, Ivan Vaughan, and Len Garry throughout late 1956 and early 1957.[14] Also during this period, drummer Colin Hanton and banjo player Rod Davis joined the group.[14] This group of Lennon, Griffiths, Shotton, Garry, Hanton, and Davis formed the first stable line-up of the group.

The Quarrymen’s instruments

The group first rehearsed in Shotton’s house on Vale Road, but because of the noise his mother told them to use the corrugated air-raid shelter in the back garden.[15] Rehearsals were moved from the cold air-raid shelter to Hanton’s or Griffiths’ house—as Griffiths’ father had died in WWII, and his mother worked all day.[16] The band also often visited Lennon’s mother at 1 Blomfield Road, listening to her collection of rock and roll records by Elvis, Shirly and Lee‘s “Let the Good Times Roll“, and Gene Vincent‘s “Be-Bop-A-Lula” which they added to their repertoire.[17] After his tenure on tea-chest bass, Nigel Walley became the group’s manager. Walley sent flyers to local theatres and ballrooms, and put up posters designed by Lennon: “Country-and-western, rock n’ roll, skiffle band — The Quarrymen — Open for Engagements — Please Call Nigel Walley, Tel.Gateacre 1715”.[16] Walley managed to secure the group several paid engagements throughout the spring of 1957, including one at The Cavern Club[18] A jazz club at the time, the Cavern tolerated skiffle as it was considered an offshoot of jazz.[19] Lennon, however, began leading the band in several rock and roll numbers, prompting the club’s manager to send up a note ordering the group to “Cut out the bloody rock”.[20]

In July 1957, Canadian impresario Carroll Levis held a talent contest in Liverpool, the winners of which would appear on the television show Star Search[21]The Quarrymen played “Worried Man Blues“, and were loudly applauded, but a group from Wales called the Sunnyside Skiffle Group “jumped all over the stage” and outshone the static Quarrymen, and were asked by Levis to fill in the last few minutes of the contest with a second song.[22] Lennon argued heatedly with Levis backstage, saying the Sunnyside Skiffle Group had brought a bus full of supporters with them, and were given “the upper hand” advantage by Levis.[22] After the competition, Levis used a clap-o-meter (a machine to measure the decibels of the audience’s reaction to the groups) as they were asked to walk back out onto the stage. The Quarrymen and the Sunnyside skiffle Group both tied by reaching ninety on the meter, but after a second test, the Quarrymen lost by a small margin.[23]

Paul McCartney joins the group[edit]

The famous photo of the Quarrymen playing at St. Peter’s Church garden fête, where Lennon and McCartney first met. From left to right: Griffiths, Hanton, Davis, Lennon, Shotton, Garry

On Saturday 6 July 1957, The Quarrymen played at St. Peter’s Church Rose Queen garden fête in Woolton. They first played on the back of a moving flatbed lorry, in a procession of floats that carried the Rose Queen and retiring Rose Queen, Morris dancers, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Guides and Cubs, led by the Band of the Cheshire Yeomanry.[24] At 4:15 they played on a permanent stage in the field behind the church,[25] before a display by the City of Liverpool Police Dogs.[26][27] They were playing “Come Go with Me” when Paul McCartney arrived, and in the Scout hut after the set, Ivan Vaughan introduced McCartney to Lennon, who chatted for a few minutes before the band set up in the church hall for their performance at that evening’s “Grand Dance”.[28][29] McCartney demonstrated how he tuned his guitar and then sang Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock“, Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula“, and a medley of Little Richard songs.[26][30]

Vaughan and McCartney left before the evening show which started at 8 o’clock.[31] During the performance there was an unexpected thunderstorm, which made the lights go out.[32] Bob Molyneux, a young schoolmate from Quarry Bank, recorded part of the performance on his Grundig TK8 portable reel-to-reel tape recorder. The tape included versions of Lonnie Donegan’s “Puttin’ on the Style” and Elvis’ “Baby Let’s Play House“. In 1963, Molyneux offered the tape to Lennon via Ringo Starr, but Lennon never responded, so Molyneux put the tape in a vault.[3][33]

As they were walking home after the evening performance, Lennon and Shotton discussed the afternoon encounter with McCartney, and Lennon said that perhaps they should invite McCartney to join the band. Two weeks later Shotton encountered McCartney cycling through Woolton, and conveyed Lennon’s casual invitation for him to join the Quarrymen, and Vaughan also invited McCartney to join.[26] McCartney said he would join after Scout camp in Hathersage, and a holiday with his family at Butlins holiday camp in Filey, Yorkshire.[34][35] Shotton and Davis both left the Quarrymen in August, feeling that the group was moving away from skiffle and towards rock, leaving their instruments superfluous.[36][35] When McCartney returned from holiday he began rehearsing with the Quarrymen, playing songs such as, “Bye Bye Love” (The Everly Brothers) and “All Shook Up“, that Lennon and the group had been trying to learn, without success.[37]

McCartney made his debut with the band on Friday, 18 October 1957 at a Conservative Club social held at the New Clubmoor Hall in the Norris Green section of Liverpool.[38][34] Lennon and McCartney wore cream-coloured sports jackets, which were paid for by the whole group—Walley collected half a crown per week from each member until they were paid for—and the others wore white shirts with tassels and black bootlace ties.[38] To the irritation of the other group members, McCartney endlessly practised the lead guitar intro to “Raunchy” (by saxophonist Bill Justis) and a solo from “Guitar Boogie Shuffle“, for days before the engagement, but on the night (after being specially introduced by Lennon as a new member of the group) he missed his cue on “Raunchy”, played all the wrong notes, and stepped back in embarrassment between Hanton and Garry. Everyone expected Lennon to say something sarcastic, but the sight of the always overconfident McCartney looking so crestfallen made Lennon laugh out loud so much that he “almost pissed himself”.[39]

The Quarrymen continued to play sparse gigs throughout the autumn of 1957, mostly for local promoter Charlie McBain.[40] During this period, the group almost entirely excised skiffle from their repertoire, focusing on covers of songs by rock and roll singers such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, and Larry Williams, and the Quarrymen’s sound increasingly relied on harmony singing between Lennon and McCartney.[41] An extremely important influence for them at the time was Buddy Holly and his group the Crickets.[42] Around this time, Lennon and McCartney both started writing songs influenced by Holly, Lennon’s “Hello Little Girl” and McCartney’s “I Lost My Little Girl“, and both were impressed with each other’s efforts.[43] The two began writing together, and their writing partnership would become very successful throughout the 1960s.[44]

George Harrison’s entry and recording[edit]

After McCartney’s poor performance on lead guitar at the Conservative Club, the group needed another guitarist to accommodate their new rock-focused repertoire; McCartney recommended his school friend George Harrison.[45] Harrison first saw the group perform on 6 February 1958 at Wilson Hall, where McCartney introduced him to Lennon.[46][47] Harrison subsequently auditioned for The Quarrymen in March at Rory Storm‘s Morgue Skiffle Club, playing “Guitar Boogie Shuffle”.[48][49] Lennon thought Harrison (then 15) was too young to join the band, so McCartney engineered another meeting on the upper deck of a Liverpool bus, where Harrison played “Raunchy” for Lennon.[50][51] After McCartney’s constant advocacy, Lennon allowed the recently turned fifteen-year-old Harrison to join the Quarrymen as lead guitarist.[52][50][53] Harrison’s entry into the Quarrymen shifted the group even more away from skiffle, in addition to ending Lennon’s use of banjo chords.[54] Around this time, John Duff Lowe, another school friend of McCartney’s, joined the group on piano.[55]

With Harrison’s entry, the Quarrymen now had four guitarists. Lennon and McCartney suggested to Griffiths that he instead buy a bass guitar, but Griffiths refused because of the expense[56] The two subsequently convinced Nigel Walley, still acting as the group’s manager, to fire Griffiths.[57] Walley regretted the incident, and as a result gradually severed his ties with the Quarrymen.[58] Around this same time, Len Garry contracted tubercular meningitis, and spent seven months in the hospital, never playing with the group again.[59] This left Colin Hanton as the last of the group of Lennon’s Quarry Bank classmates that originally comprised the group. In March, McCartney bought an Elpico amplifier with two inputs, and he and Harrison added pickups to their guitars, giving the Quarrymen an electric sound for the first time.[60]

“In Spite of All the Danger”, the only copy of the shellac acetate containing the only two songs professionally recorded by the Quarrymen

Percy Phillips operated a studio called Phillips’ Sound Recording Services at 38 Kensington, Liverpool, between the kitchen and a front room that served as an electrical goods shop.[61] Actors from the Liverpool Playhouse often stayed in the room above the studio, and were asked by Phillips to record monologues and poems. Phillips had just turned 60 years old when Harrison heard about the studio from guitarist Johnny Byrne, who had recorded a version of “Butterfly” there on 22 June 1957.[61]

The Quarrymen booked a recording session on 12 July 1958 at Phillips’ Sound Recording Services, the home studio of Percy Phillips.[62] Harrison was referred to the studio by guitarist John Byrne of the Raving Texans.[61] They recorded straight to disc, as tape would have been an extra expense. The sound was recorded live by a single microphone in the centre of the room, and Lennon suggested that Hanton put a scarf over the snare drum to lower the volume.[63] They first recorded Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day“, followed by a McCartney original (credited as McCartney/Harrison). Both featured Lennon on lead vocals.[64] When the recording was finished, Phillips handed the group a fragile 78rpm record, which was passed around the band for one week each, or lent out to friends. It was later lost until Lowe rediscovered it in 1981, and sold it to McCartney for an undisclosed amount.[63] The recordings would later be issued on the Beatles’ rarities album Anthology 1.

“The rhythm’s in the guitars”[edit]

Soon after the recording session, Hanton had a fight with the rest of the group and quit.[65] Lowe too lost contact with the group after leaving Liverpool Institute, leaving the Quarrymen as just a trio of guitarists: Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison.[65] Lennon’s mother was killed in a road accident on 15 July 1958, dealing him a devastating emotional blow.[66] The group remained mostly inactive throughout the summer, as Lennon took up a job in a restaurant at the Liverpool Airport.[67] McCartney and Harrison, meanwhile, went on holiday hitchhiking in Wales, playing with a local skiffle group called the Vikings.[68] Although Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison remained extremely close, the trio only performed a handful of times in the last months of 1958.[69] When asked why they had neither a drummer or a bass player, they would respond “The rhythm’s in the guitars.”[70]

The Liverpool Empire Theatre, where Johnny and the Moondogs auditioned for Carrol Levis

In the autumn of 1958, the group had another chance to audition for Carroll Levis, nearly a year and a half after the Quarymen’s first Star Search[70] For the audition, the group changed their name to Johnny and the Moondogs.[71] Lennon was without a guitar, his having broken recently.[71] Johnny and the Moondogs passed the first heat of the competition in Liverpool, and were invited to appear in the finals in Manchester.[71] The group performed Buddy Holly’s “Think It Over” to positive reception, but were unable to stay until the end of the competition to receive the results.[72] As they were leaving, Lennon saw a cutaway electric guitar by the stage door, picked it up and walked off with it, later saying that the trip “wasn’t a total loss.”[73][74]

Following their Star Search audition, Johnny and the Moondogs changed their name to Japage 3 (combining letters from each of the member’s names: John, Paul, and George).[75] Lennon had a friend from art school, named Derek Hodkin, who owned a tape recorder, and Lennon convinced him to record the group (along with McCartney’s brother Mike on drums).[76] The group then asked Hodkin to act as their manager, and he agreed.[77] Despite Hodkin’s management, bookings for the group dried up.[78] Harrison began a stint as rhythm guitarist in the Les Stewart Quartet, who had a weekly club engagement.[79] By May, Japage 3 was defunct, although the three continued to see each other socially, and Lennon and McCartney continued to write songs together.[80]

The Casbah Club and name change to the Beatles[edit]

A youthful McCartney and Lennon perform in a low-ceilinged room with an audience member a few feet away.

McCartney and Lennon playing on the opening night of The Casbah Coffee Club.

In the summer of 1959, Mona Best decided to open a club in her cellar, and offered the Les Stewart Quartet a residency if they would help convert the cellar.[81] Harrison and fellow Quartet guitarist Ken Brown, however, missed a show, causing Les Stewart to fire the two and drop the residency.[82] This caused distress to Best, but Harrison offered a solution: he recruited Lennon and McCartney to play, and they returned to calling themselves the Quarrymen.[83] After helping Best finish converting the cellar, the new four guitarist line-up of the Quarrymen (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Brown) opened the Casbah Coffee Club on 29 August 1959.[84] The opening night performance was attended by about 300 local teenagers, but as the cellar had no air conditioning and people were dancing, the temperature rose until it became hard to breathe.[85] The Quarrymen were afforded the use of Brown’s three input amplifier (which, along with McCartney’s Elpico, meant that all four guitarists were electric),[86] and sang through one microphone connected to the club’s small PA system.[87]

The group continued their Casbah residency into the new year, occasionally securing other gigs. In January, Brown grew ill and was unable to play the show. Best, however, insisted that the Quarrymen still pay Brown, but Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison refused; the incident resulted in the loss of their residency at the Casbah and Brown’s departure from the group.[88] Shortly after, however, Lennon convinced fellow art school student Stuart Sutcliffe to purchase a bass guitar and join the group.[89] The group had no bookings, but began rehearsing vigorously to allow the musical novice Sutcliffe practice on his new instrument.[90]

In early 1960, the Quarrymen returned to Phillip’s Sound Recording Service to record Lennon’s new original song “One After 909“, although this recording does not survive.[91] Around the same time, the three made a rehearsal tape at McCartney’s home. Harrison is absent (as he had an apprenticeship), and the tape features several jams and original songs, including the McCartney instrumental “Cayenne“.[92] With few gigs during this period the group often wrote letters to secure bookings, several of which survive.[93] The four disliked the Quarrymen name, and went through several others during this period, including Los Paranoias.[94] By March 1960, Lennon and Sutcliffe came up with a new name: the Beatles.[95] The Beatles (after several line-up changes, including adding Mona’s son Pete Best on drums) continued to perform around Liverpool and in Hamburg, Germany for several years, before being signed to Parlophone Records in 1962. After their signing, the Beatles achieved worldwide fame and became one of the most popular and successful musical artists of all time, before breaking up in 1970.

Reformations: 1994 to present[edit]

Since the break-up of the Beatles in 1970 and the death of John Lennon in 1980, members of the Quarrymen have reunited several times. From 1994 to 1995, Rod Davis and John Lowe recorded an album with studio musicians. This album, Open for Engagements, was released in 1995 under the Quarrymen name.[96][97]

The surviving members of the original line-up of the Quarrymen reunited in 1997 for the 40th anniversary of their performance at the 1957 Woolton village fete—which was the occasion of the first meeting of Lennon and McCartney. All five surviving original members, Pete Shotton, Rod Davis, Len Garry, Eric Griffiths and Colin Hanton, performed. Following this, the group continued to perform—undertaking tours of the UK, the US, Germany, Japan, Russia, Cuba and other countries. The group’s repertoire focuses on the skiffle and early rock and roll they played in their original incarnation with the added roots rock historical perspective of illustrating how American roots music inspired the nascent Beatles.

In 2000, producer and the Beatles’ historian Martin Lewis produced the group performing the Del-Vikings song “Come Go with Me” (the first song McCartney recalled hearing Lennon sing on the first day they met) – for use on the soundtrack of the Michael Lindsay-Hogg film Two of Us—a film about the last day that Lennon and McCartney saw each other—in April 1976.

Eric Griffiths died in 2005, and Pete Shotton retired, owing to ill-health. As of 2016, Davis, Garry, and Hanton continue to perform around the world. Lowe occasionally performs with them.[98] In September and October 2010 the band undertook a US tour celebrating the 70th anniversary of their founder (Lennon). They appeared in a charity concert for Amnesty International honouring Lennon in New York City on Lennon’s birthday, Saturday 9 October 2010.[99] Since 2016, former Beatles bassist Chas Newby has been performing with the band.[100]

Since their 1997 reformation, the Quarrymen have recorded three albums, consisting mostly of covers of 1950s rock and skiffle.

Members[edit]

Current members[101][102]
  • Colin Hanton – drums (1956–58, 1997–present)
  • Rod Davis – banjo (1957); guitar, vocals (1994–95, 1997–present)
  • Len Garry – tea-chest bass (1957–58); vocals, guitar (1997–present)
  • John Duff Lowe – piano (1958); keyboards, vocals (1994–95; since 2005, has been a regular guest, although not a constant member)
  • Chas Newby – bass guitar(2016-present; Newby also played bass as a member of the Beatles briefly from 1960-61)[100]
Former members[101][102]

Timeline[edit]

Original[edit]

Reunion[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
Other recordings

A TRIBUTE TO Peter Shotton Of The Quarreymen

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Peter Shotton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Peter (“Pete”) Shotton (4 August 1941 – 24 March 2017) was a longtime friend of John Lennon, who founded The Beatles. He later wrote a memoir, John Lennon “In My Life”, that was later retitled The Beatles, Lennon and Me.

Early life[change | change source]

Shotton and Lennon met as boys, in their hometown of Woolton, England. Woolton is a suburb of Liverpool. The two fought at first, but soon became best friends. They went to school together, and often got into trouble together. They formed a “gang”, with other boys who lived nearby.

During their teenage years, rock and roll became popular in England, as it did in America. Folk music and skiffle were also popular. Young people all over England formed skiffle bands, and played folk and rock songs. Lennon got a guitar from his mother. He and Shotton formed a band, the Quarry Men, with classmates from their school (named Quarry Bank), and other friends.

Shotton’s role in the band was to play percussion on a washboard, and to sing harmony. While Lennon had genuine musical talent, Shotton did not become a skilled musician, and did not enjoy playing music. After Paul McCartney joined the Quarry Men, he and Lennon began to work together on music. McCartney was very talented, and Shotton felt out of place in the band. He waited a long time, before he finally told Lennon.

Lennon “fired” Shotton from the Quarry Men after they played at a party. He took the washboard away and broke it over Shotton’s head. All the same, they were still friends, and spent time together. When they finished high school, Lennon went on to art college, and Shotton trained to become a police officer. The Quarry Men changed from playing skiffle to playing rock and roll. They also changed names a few times, before calling themselves the Beatles.

The Beatles[change | change source]

When Lennon became famous with the Beatles, he invited Shotton to visit at different times. He and George Harrison, another band member, bought a supermarket with part of their royalties, and made Shotton its manager. Shotton married and had a son. He spent most of the week with his family, but would visit Lennon’s home on weekends. Lennon counted on Shotton to be a real friend, who was not only around because Lennon was famous or rich. Shotton and Lennon’s wife Cynthia got along well, and Shotton sometimes took Cynthia out for the evening, when Lennon needed to work on music.

Shotton also helped now and then with the Beatles’s music. He sometimes helped brainstorm or critique ideas for songs, or played tambourine or other percussion instruments on their recordings. Later, when the Beatles started their own company, Apple Corps, Shotton became its first managing director.

Apple Corps was not a successful company, and it caused problems between the Beatles, and with the people who worked with them. The problems were not Shotton’s fault, but he felt as much pressure and stress as anyone. He resigned his job at Apple. Lennon tried Shotton out as a personal assistant, but this did not go well. Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono also caused problems between Lennon and Shotton.

Shotton decided it was best to part ways with Lennon, while their friendship was still strong. He went back to running his supermarket, and he and Lennon lost touch. After Lennon and Yoko Ono moved to America, Shotton visited them in New York City, and they enjoyed seeing each other again.

Later life[change | change source]

John Lennon was murdered late in 1980. When Shotton heard the news, he drove to George Harrison’s home, Friar Park, and spent the day with Harrison. Later he wrote his memoir.

Shotton gave up his supermarket, and began a chain of restaurants, Fatty Arbuckle’s, which became a success. He later sold this business, and retired to live in Ireland. When former members of Lennon’s Quarry Men re-formed in the 1990s as a nostalgia act, Shotton performed with them. He later sang “Imagine” at a tribute to Lennon and the Beatles in Woolton.

Death[change | change source]

Shotton died on 24 March 2017 in Knutsford, Cheshire from a suspected heart attack. aged 75.[1]

Bluesology

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Bluesology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bluesology
Origin Pinner, Middlesex, England
Genres British blues, Blue-eyed soul, R&B
Years active 1962–1968
Labels Fontana, Polydor
Associated acts Elton John, Long John Baldry, Major Lance, Cochise, Little Richard
Past members Reggie Dwight
Stewart “Stu” Brown
Rex Bishop
Mick Inkpen
Pat Higgs
Dave Murphy
Paul Gale
Fred Gandy [AKA Freddie Creasey]
Pete Gavin
Neil Hubbard
Elton Dean
Marc Charig
Alan Walker
Long John Baldry
Marsha Hunt
Caleb Quaye
Bernie Holland
Jimmy Horowitz[1]
Big Jim Sullivan[citation needed]

Bluesology was a 1960s English R&B group, best remembered as being the first professional band of which Reggie Dwight – later known as Elton John – was a member.

History[edit]

From about 1960, organist Reggie Dwight – then aged 13 – and his neighbour, singer and guitarist Stewart “Stu” Brown, performed with a local group, the Corvettes, in Pinner, Middlesex, a suburb of London. After that group split up, the pair formed a new group, Bluesology, with Rex Bishop (bass), and Mick Inkpen (drums).[2][3] According to Dwight the band’s name was in homage to the Django Reinhardt album Djangology.[4] There had also been a 1956 piece named Bluesology by John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet.[5] By 1962 they had begun playing local pubs, and in 1963 they won a regular weekly slot at the Establishment Club in London, playing tunes by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Witherspoon and Memphis Slim, among others.[6] In 1965, they turned professional, and signed a contract with an agency which began hiring them out as a backing band for visiting American performers, including The Isley Brothers, Doris Troy, Billy Stewart and Patti LaBelle.[6]

After recording a demo they were signed by Fontana Records, and recorded their first single, Dwight’s song “Come Back Baby”, in July 1965.[3] In November 1965 they released a second single, “Mr. Frantic”, again written and sung by Dwight, and again unsuccessful. After a tour of Germany the band returned to England to work as the backing band for Major Lance with an expanded line-up of Dwight, Brown, Pat Higgs (trumpet), Dave Murphy (saxophone), Fred Gandy (bass) and Paul Gale (drums).[6]

In September 1966 the band was invited by vocalist Long John Baldry to become his regular band.[3] Only Dwight and Brown agreed, thus forming with Baldry a new version of Bluesology, along with Fred Gandy (bass), Pete Gavin (drums), Neil Hubbard (guitar), Elton Dean (saxophone), Marc Charig (cornet), and Alan Walker (vocals), and, for a brief spell, singer Marsha Hunt.[6] As Stu Brown and Bluesology, they recorded the single “Since I Found You Baby” for Polydor Records, produced by Kenny Lynch.[3][4] On 11 December 1966 there was a recording session at Abbey Road Studios with Little Richard; four songs were recorded, two were released.[citation needed]

As Baldry’s music drifted more towards the cabaret market, Dwight became disenchanted with the band, and so simultaneously began to develop songwriting skills in collaboration with Bernie Taupin whilst working as a session musician. Dwight, Brown and Dean all quit Bluesology in late 1967, Brown’s replacement being Caleb Quaye, only for the band to call it a day the following year.[3]

Later activities[edit]

Elton John, formerly known as Reggie Dwight, performing in 2009

Dwight used the names of fellow band members Elton Dean and John Baldry to create his new solo stage name of Elton John.[7] Brown went on to form country rock band Cochise, playing and singing on their first two albums, Cochise and Swallow Tales, in 1970–71, before moving to the Mediterranean.[8] Dean, Hubbard and Charig all had lengthy careers as jazz and session musicians. Gavin became a member of Heads Hands & Feet and later Vinegar Joe,[9] and Gandy joined Caleb Quaye’s band Hookfoot.[10]

Two Bluesology songs were featured on the compilation album, Rare Tracks, which was issued by Polydor in 1975.[1]

Bluesology Albums: songs, discography, biography, and listening guide – Rate Your Music

Bluesology

<!– –> Bluesology
Come Back, Baby / Times’ Getting Tougher Than Tough
Formed
Disbanded
1968
Members
Reg Dwight [aka Elton John] (keyboards, piano, 1962-68), Stewart A. Brown (guitar, 1962-67), Mick Inkpen (drums, 1962-66), Geoff Dyson (bass, 1962-65), Rex Bishop (bass, 1965-66), Pat Higgs (trumpet, 1965-67), Dave Murphy (saxophone, 1965-67), Paul Gale (drums, 1966), Fred Gandy [aka Freddie Creasey] (bass, 1966-68), Neil Hubbard (guitar, 1966), Pete Gavin (drums, 1966-68), Chris Bateson (trumpet), Long John Baldry (vocals, 1966-68), Alan Walker (vocals, 1966-67), Marsha Hunt (vocals, 1967), Elton Dean (saxophone, 1967-68), Mark Charig (cornet, 1967-68), Caleb Quaye (lead guitar, vocals, 1967-68), Bernie Holland (guitar, 1968), Jimmy Horowitz (keyboards, 1968)
Bluesology Albums: songs, discography, biography, and listening guide – Rate Your Music

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1990 • Compilation Elton John

Thurman (band) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thurman (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thurman
Origin Oxfordshire, England
Genres Britpop, glam rock, indie rock
Years active 1994–1996
Labels Righteous Records
Past members Nicholas Kenny
Simon Kenny
Paul Disley

Thurman were an English rock band heralding from Oxfordshire comprising brothers Nicholas Kenny, (Lead Vocals + Guitar) Simon Kenny (Bass + Additional vocals) plus Paul Disley (Drums). Heavily associated with the Britpop movement, rumors circulated at the time that they had originally been called ‘2 Die 4’ — a heavy metal band that saw heavy rotation on MTV and American rock radio with their one hit wonder “You Got What It Takes” in the early 1990s with Andy Shaw on vocals. After Shaw’s departure, they changed their name and music style as to be snapped up by a record label in the wake of the success of Blur and the mid-’90s UK music resurgence. Thurman’s chirpy ’60s-influenced retro sound was similar to one produced by a number of artists in 1995 at the height of Britpop mania.

Their sole album ‘Lux’ was derided by some critics who found it lacking in depth and derided its near-plagiarism of a number of songs, most noticeably ‘Children of the Revolution’ by T-Rex on the track ‘Loaded.’ Despite some positive reviews at the time, Thurman’s time in the spotlight was limited, along with numerous other minor league bands associated with Britpop, such as Salad and Powder.

Following Thurman’s demise, the Kenny brothers went on to form a Neil Young/Byrds/Dylan-influenced band called The Four Storeys along with drummer Dan Goddard (ex-Nubiles). Following a single release of a track entitled ‘Castaway’ in 1999 the band released an album entitled ‘Betting On Now’ in 2002, receiving critical acclaim from Steve Lamacq and the NME. Nicholas and Simon Kenny went on to form a new group called ‘The Long Insiders’, still with Dan Goddard on drums, and with vocalist Sarah Dodd.

Discography[edit]

Lux
Thurman Lux cover.JPG
Studio album by Thurman
Released 10 October 1995 (1995-10-10)
Recorded 1995
Genre Britpop, glam rock
Label Righteous Records
Producer Charlie Francis & Jon McLoughlin
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[1]

Lux (1995, UK)[edit]

  1. “She’s a Man”
  2. “Loaded”
  3. “Cheap Holiday”
  4. “Strung Out”
  5. “It Would Be”
  6. “English Tea”
  7. “Famous”
  8. “Now I’m a Man”
  9. “Clowns”
  10. “Lewis Brightworth”
  11. “Talk to Myself”
  12. “Automatic Thinker”
  13. “Flavour Explosion”

Singles[edit]

  • “English Tea” (RIGHT 001) Released September 1994
    • CD and 7-inch: 01) English Tea 02) Boy 03) Nobody Told Me
  • “Talk to Myself” (RIGHT 002) Released 19 December 1994
    • CD: 01) Talk to Myself 02) Hero of My Day 03) Statues
    • 7-inch: 01) Talk to Myself 02) Hero of My Day
  • “Famous” (RIGHT 003) Released 30 March 1995
    • CD: 01) Famous 02) Benny 03) Unconsciously
    • 7-inch: 01) Famous 02) Benny
  • “She’s a Man” (RIGHT 004) Released 8 September 1995
    • CD: 01 She’s a Man 02) It Would Be 03) This Way
    • 7-inch: 01) She’s a Man 02) It Would Be 03) English Tea (Live)
  • “Heavenly Creature” (ESCA 6568 – Epic/Sony Records Japan) Japan-only release in August 1996
    • CD: 01 Heavenly Creature 02) Strongman 03) Ice

All singles failed to chart in top 75.

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • “Limited Leadmill Records four-track 7-inch vinyl EP” (Lead 001) Released 1995
    1. DEUS – The Horror Party Jokes
    2. Thurman – Boy
    3. New Fads – What I Feel
    4. The Cardinals – Maybe World
  • Fierce Panda six-track multi-band 7-inch vinyl EP” (NING 003) Released 1994
    1. The Bluetones – No.11
    2. Thurman – This Way
    3. Create! – Nothing Personnel
    4. The Weekenders – Seems You Missed Sunday
    5. The Nubiles – Tatjana

The Box Tops

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Image result for THE BOX TOPS MUSIC GROUP GIFS

Image result for THE BOX TOPS MUSIC GROUP GIFS

Image result for THE BOX TOPS MUSIC GROUP GIFS

The Box Tops

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Box Tops
Theboxtops.jpg

The Box Tops in 1967
Background information
Also known as The Devilles
Origin Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Genres
Years active 1963–1970, 1996-2010, 2015-present
Labels
Associated acts Big Star
Website boxtops.com
Past members See members section

The Box Tops were an American rock band, formed in Memphis in 1963. They are best known for the hits “The Letter“, “Cry Like a Baby“, and “Soul Deep” and are considered a major blue-eyed soul group of the period. They performed a mixture of current soul music songs by artists such as James & Bobby Purify and Clifford Curry, pop tunes such as “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Keith Reid, Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher of Procol Harum, and songs written by their producers, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, and Chips Moman. Vocalist Alex Chilton went on to front the power pop band Big Star and to launch a career as a solo artist, during which he occasionally performed songs he had sung with the Box Tops.

The Box Tops’ music combined elements of soul music and light pop. Their records are prime examples of the styles made popular by Moman and Penn at American Sound Studio in Memphis. Many of their lesser known Top 40 hits, including “Neon Rainbow“, “I Met Her in Church”, and “Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March”, are considered minor classics. As rock critic Lester Bangs wrote in a review of the group’s Super Hits album, “A song like ‘Soul Deep’ is obvious enough, a patented commercial sound, yet within these strictures it communicates with a depth and sincerity of feeling that holds the attention and brings you back often.”

History[edit]

Foundation and early years as “The Devilles” (1963-67)[edit]

The Box Tops began as “The Devilles” (distinct from The DeVilles (New York band)), who had started playing in Memphis in 1963. As the band’s personnel changed from time to time, so did the band name on occasion, which at one point became “Ronnie and the Devilles” and then later changed back to “the Devilles”.

The Devilles leaped to further local prominence when they won a weekly “Battle of the Bands” contest at Memphis’s T. Walker Lewis YMCA, finally beating Bobby and the Originals, who had won the previous nineteen weeks. One member of the Originals was Terry Manning, who would later serve as engineer for some Box Tops recordings.

By January 1967 the group was composed of founding member Danny Smythe (born August 25,1948, died July 6, 2016),[1] along with newer arrivals John Evans (guitar, keyboards, background vocals), Alex Chilton (lead vocal, guitar), Bill Cunningham (bass guitar, keyboards, background vocal; son of Sun Records artist Buddy Blake Cunningham and brother of B.B. Cunningham Jr., lead vocalist for 1960s Memphis group The Hombres), Gary Talley (lead guitar, electric sitar, bass, background vocal), and Larry Spillman (drums). They would soon change their name to “Box Tops” to prevent confusion with another band recording at the time with the name “The Devilles”.

“The Letter” and international success (1967-68)[edit]

As the Box Tops, they entered the studio under the guidance of producer Dan Penn to record Wayne Carson Thompson‘s song “The Letter“. Though under two minutes in length, it was an international hit by September 1967, reaching Billboard‘s number-one position and remaining there for four weeks. The record, produced by Dan Penn, sold over four million copies and received two Grammy Award nominations and was awarded a gold disc.[2] On 20–27 October 1967 “The Letter” and The Hombres’ “Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)” were 1-2 on the WLS (AM) Silver Dollar Survey, marking a rare quinella involving two brothers of the same family (the aforementioned Cunningham brothers), each in a different top 40 act.

The band followed up “The Letter” with “Neon Rainbow“, another tune penned by Thompson and produced by Penn. An album called The Letter/Neon Rainbow appeared in November 1967. The Box Tops would actually release three albums over a nine-month period from late 1967 to mid-1968. Since at least one of the original members, Larry Spillman, left the band prior to the recording sessions to accept a college baseball scholarship, some of the group’s instrumental tracks were performed by session musicians like Reggie Young, Tommy Cogbill, Gene Chrisman, and Bobby Womack at American Sound Studio, and by future Chilton producer Terry Manning at Ardent Studios. However, the actual group members performed on a number of their recordings, including “The Letter”, and on all live performances.

By January 1968, John Evans and Danny Smythe returned to school, thereby avoiding the draft. They were replaced by bassist Rick Allen (born January 28, 1946, Little Rock, Arkansas) (from the Gentrys) and drummer Thomas Boggs (born July 16, 1944, Wynne, Arkansas, died May 5, 2008, Memphis, Tennessee) (from the Board of Directors).

Cry Like a Baby” was a million-seller in 1968, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100.[2] It has been covered by the Hacienda Brothers and Kim Carnes. “I Met Her In Church” and “Choo-Choo Train” were smaller hits released later that year. Towards the end of 1968, the band switched producers, with Dan Penn being replaced by the team of Cogbill and Chips Moman. This team was responsible for producing the band’s final 1968 hit “Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March” (which debuted on the Hot 100 on Chilton’s eighteenth birthday) and all the band’s future releases through 1971.

Personnel changes and winding down (1969-70)[edit]

In the summer of 1969, Thompson’s decidedly upbeat “Soul Deep” became the group’s final US Top 40 entry, peaking at #3 on KHJ on 30 July[3] and on WLS on 18–25 August[4] and #18 on the Hot 100 in late August.[5] “Soul Deep” was also part of the title of the group’s 1996 anthology. The follow-up single, “Turn On A Dream”, peaked only at #58 on the Hot 100 and was a #29 hit in Canada.

Cunningham left the Box Tops to return to school in August 1969 and was replaced by Harold Cloud on bass. Eventually the group’s tolerance for the disrespect and fleecing they had endured as teen musicians from managers, lawyers, and promoters came to an end. According to a 2004 article in Puremusic.com by Talley, a December 1969 British tour was cancelled by the band after arriving in London to discover that instead of respecting the rider agreement, the local promoter insisted they play the tour with the opening reggae act’s toy drums, public address system amplifiers (instead of proper guitar amplifiers), and a keyboard with a broken speaker.

Finally, in February 1970, the remaining founding members, Talley and Chilton, were ready to move on and disbanded the group. However, the Bell record label kept releasing new Box Tops singles through early 1971, using material that had already been recorded by Chilton and company. During this time, an entirely new group was formed with other well known musicians from the Memphis area. Chilton was replaced by Ron Jordan of Ronnie and the Devilles, Ronnie Hodges was hired as lead guitar and vocals, Joe Savage became the bass player as well as back up vocalist, Tom Rigsby (The Next of Kin, Ardent Studios, Sun Studios and American Studios) took over drums and more back up vocals. That same month, this new group recorded “You Keep Tightening Up On Me” at Sun Studios and managed to get onto the Hot 100. It was a slightly bigger hit in Canada. This combination of players stayed together through early 1973. Two further Box Tops singles failed to chart nationally in either the US or Canada, although the original band’s final single “King’s Highway” (another Thompson-penned track) was a regional hit in Dallas in the spring of 1971.

“The Box Tops” brand name continues (1972-76)[edit]

The Box Tops name (which was under the control of a management company) still had a certain amount of cachet and sales potential in the early 1970s – so, lacking original band members, beginning in 1972 new studio groups were assembled to record new Box Tops material in Memphis.

JJ Breeze was the stage name of one of the singers who toured with various versions of the group in the 1970s and later in the early 1990s when he billed the show as “JJ Breeze and the Boxtops” so that there would not be any confusion as to Alex Chilton’s original Box Tops group. It is known that these later Box Tops records used some of the same production personnel that had produced and played on the group’s earlier recordings. Willie Mitchell‘s Hi Records released two singles credited to the Box Tops, one in 1972 (“Sugar Creek Woman”) and one in 1973 (“Hold On Girl”). In 1974, Tommy Cogbill co-produced one final single credited to the group, “Willobee and Dale”, which appeared on the Stax label. None of these singles charted, or received much airplay, and the Box Tops name was retired.

In 1976, Pickwick Records recorded new versions of “The Letter” and “Cry Like a Baby” using studio musicians, and credited them to The Box Tops, though Alex Chilton was the only group member involved. Both recordings were released in the UK on a various-artists Lp set called The Heart Breakers and Tear Jerkers Collection.[6]

Post-Box Tops careers[edit]

Each of the original members went on to work in the music industry in subsequent years after leaving the Box Tops. Chilton’s career path included work performing with Big Star, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, and his solo trio, as well as briefly producing groups like The Cramps. Guitarist Talley went on to work in a variety of styles as a session guitarist and songwriter in Memphis, Atlanta, and Nashville. Artists and producers he has worked with have ranged from Billy Preston, Hank Ballard, Chips Moman, Billy Lee Riley, Billy Joe Royal, Webb Pierce, Waylon Jennings, Tracy Nelson, Willie Nelson, and Tammy Wynette to Sam and Dave‘s Sam Moore, and others. He recorded two albums for Appaloosa Records with the group Fish Heads & Rice, Certified in 1991, and 4 Heads in 1994.[7] Bassist Cunningham won a spot in the White House orchestra in Washington, D.C., after completing his master’s degree in music. During his classical music career, he played with some of the world’s best performers; at Cunningham’s last public classical music performance, for instance, he performed at the White House with Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. In the 1980s, he earned an MBA and changed careers. Evans played occasionally in Memphis groups after the Box Tops, while working as a luthier, eventually switching to a computer network administrator career. Smythe performed in Memphis soul and blues groups in the 1970s, later changing to a career in art by the 1980s, but returned to music performance in the 1990s.

Reunions (1989-2010)[edit]

Box Tops in 2001: (left to right: Talley, Chilton, Cunningham, Smythe)

There was a brief Box Tops reunion for a concert in Nashville, Tennessee, at a venue called Ace of Clubs in 1989. The lineup for this show comprised Chilton, Evans, Talley, Harold Cloud (bass), and Gene Houston (drums). At this show the group was also augmented by backup singers Tracy Nelson, Jonell Mosser, and Kim Morrison and a full horn section.

Cunningham next organized a reunion of all the band’s original members, including Chilton, in 1996. The group subsequently released a self-produced album of new material recorded at Easley McCain Recording, Tear Off!, and resumed performing concerts internationally. The Tear Off! album included a new original by guitarist Talley (“Last Laugh”), a cover of Bobby Womack’s “I’m in Love”, a cover of Eddie Floyd‘s “Big Bird” (often covered in solo concerts since the 1980s by Chilton), a cover of The Gentrys’ “Keep on Dancing”, and a new recording of “The Letter”. Other songs on the album reflected the band members’ varied soul, novelty, rock-and-roll, and country music influences. B.B. Cunningham Jr. played a guitar on the album version of “Trip to Bandstand”, his 1959 Memphis novelty single. The album also featured horn arrangements and performances by The Memphis Horns, who subsequently participated in some of the group’s concerts. By 2000, John Evans was no longer in the band and was replaced by Nashville session man Barry Walsh. John is employed by the University of Memphis.

In 2001 the group contributed a Blondie cover tune to a various artists collection of “songs you never thought you’d hear” called When Pigs Fly.

Sold-out Box Tops concerts in Germany in 2003 were aired on German radio, and the group’s 2005 tour schedule showed a number of American dates planned despite the group members’ busy careers outside the band. The Box Tops did their last Memphis concert on May 29, 2009, at The Memphis Italian Festival.

On March 17, 2010, lead vocalist Alex Chilton died of a heart attack. Box Tops Bill Cunningham and Gary Talley teamed with early friend/producer Terry Manning to perform a tribute to Chilton as The Box Tops at The City Winery in New York City on July 28, 2010.

Return of The Box Tops (2015)[edit]

In mid 2015, Gary Talley and Bill Cunningham teamed with Rick Levy (bandleader for Tommy Roe, among others) to reform The Box Tops. Signed to Talent Consultants International out of Nyack, NY, the band now has engagements booked through the end of 2016.[8]

On July 6, 2016, Danny Smythe died aged 67.[9]

Band member history[edit]

1967–1968
1968–1969
  • Alex Chilton – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Gary Talley – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Rick Allen – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Joe Savage – bass, backing vocals
  • Thomas Boggs – drums, percussion, backing vocals
1969–1970
  • Alex Chilton – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Gary Talley – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Swain Schaefer – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Harold Cloud – bass
  • Bobby Guidotti – drums, backing vocals
  • Rick Pipkin – percussion
1989 One-off reunion

  • Alex Chilton – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Gary Talley – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • John Evans – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Harold Cloud – bass
  • Gene Houston – drums, percussion
1996–1999 Return of the original lineup

2000–2010
2015–present
  • Gary Talley – lead guitar, lead and backing vocals
  • Bill Cunningham – bass, lead and backing vocals
  • Rick Levy – rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals
  • Ron Krasinski – drums, percussion
  • Barry Walsh – keyboards

Selected discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

US Release Date A-Side / B-Side
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Label & Cat No. Chart Positions Album
Cashbox US Hot 100 Australia[10] Canada UK[11]
July 1967 “The Letter”
b/w “Happy Times”
Mala 565 #1 #1 #4 #1 #5 The Letter/Neon Rainbow
October 1967 Neon Rainbow
b/w “Everything I Am”
Mala 580 #24 #24 #30 #17 failed to chart[12][13]
February 1968 Cry Like a Baby
b/w “The Door You Closed To Me” (Non-album track)
Mala 593 #2 #2 #46 #3 #15 Cry Like a Baby
May 1968 “Choo Choo Train”
b/w “Fields of Clover” (from Cry Like A Baby)
Mala 12005 #17 #26 #96 #18 Non-Stop
August 1968 “I Met Her in Church”
b/w “People Gonna Talk”
Mala 12017 #41 #37 #32 #27
November 1968 “Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March”
b/w “I See Only Sunshine” (Non-album track)
Mala 12035 #29 #28 #82 #16 Dimensions
March 1969 I Shall Be Released
b/w “I Must Be The Devil”
Mala 12038 #72 #67 #51
June 1969 “Soul Deep”
b/w “(The) Happy Song”
Mala 12040 #13 #18 #7 #9 #22
September 1969 “Turn on a Dream”
b/w “Together” (from Dimensions)
Mala 12042 #36 #58 #29 Non-album tracks
February 1970 “You Keep Tightening up on Me”
b/w “Come On Honey”
Bell 865 #74 #92 #68
August 1970 “Let Me Go”
b/w “Got To Hold On To You”
Bell 923
March 1971 “King’s Highway”
b/w “Since I’ve Been Gone”
Bell 981
1972 “Sugar Creek Woman”
b/w “It’s All Over”
Hi 2228
1973 “Hold on Girl”
b/w “Angel”
Hi 2242
February 1974 “Willobee and Dale”
b/w “It’s Gonna Be O.K.”
Stax 0199

Albums[edit]

Original studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Super Hits (December 1968) – US #45
  • The Box Tops’ Greatest Hits (1982)
  • The Ultimate Box Tops (1987)
  • The Best of the Box Tops — Soul Deep (1996)

Alex Chilton

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Image result for ALEX CHILTON GIFS

Image result for ALEX CHILTON GIFS

Image result for THE BOX TOPS  GIFS

Alex Chilton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alex Chilton
Big Star at Hyde Park 2 cropped.jpg

Chilton performing with Big Star at Hyde Park, London, 2009
Background information
Birth name William Alexander Chilton
Born (1950-12-28)December 28, 1950
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died March 17, 2010(2010-03-17) (aged 59)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States[1]
Genres Rock and roll, power pop, proto-punk, hard rock, blue-eyed soul, indie rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter, record producer
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1966–2010[1]
Labels Ardent, Bar/None, Peabody Records, Big Time, Omnivore (posthumous)
Associated acts Box Tops, Big Star, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, Terry Manning

William AlexanderAlexChilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was an American songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer, best known as the lead singer of the Box Tops and Big Star.[2] Chilton’s early commercial success in the 1960s as a teen vocalist for The Box Tops was never repeated in later years with Big Star and in his subsequent indie music solo career on small labels, but he drew an obsessive following among indie and alternative music musicians. He is frequently cited as a seminal influence by influential rock artists and bands, some of whose testimonials appeared in the 2012 documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Early life and career[edit]

Chilton grew up in a musical family; his father, Sidney Chilton, was a jazz musician. A local band recruited the teenager in 1966 as their lead singer after learning of the popularity of his vocal performance at a talent show at Memphis’ Central High School; this band was (Ronnie and) the Devilles, later renamed The Box Tops. The new group recorded with Chips Moman and producer/songwriter Dan Penn at American Sound Studio and Muscle ShoalsFAME Studios.

As lead singer for The Box Tops, Chilton enjoyed at the age of 16 a number-one international hit, “The Letter“. The Box Tops went on to have several other major chart hits, including “Neon Rainbow” (1967), “Cry Like a Baby” (1968), “Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March” (1969), and “Soul Deep” (1969). Aside from the hits “The Letter”, “Neon Rainbow”, and “Soul Deep”, all written by Wayne Carson Thompson, many of the group’s songs were written by Penn, Moman, Spooner Oldham, and other top area songwriters, with Chilton occasionally contributing a song. By late 1969, only Chilton and guitarist Gary Talley remained from the original group, and newer additions replaced the members who had departed. The group decided to disband and pursue independent careers in February 1970.

After deciding against pursuing a higher education at Memphis State University, Chilton began performing as a solo artist, maintaining a working relationship with Penn for demos. During this period he began learning guitar by studying the styles of guitarists like Stax Records great Steve Cropper, recording his own material in 1969–70 at Ardent Studios with local musicians like producer Terry Manning (who had worked with Chilton as an engineer on The Box Tops’ recordings) and drummer Richard Rosebrough, and producing a few local blues-rock acts. His 1970 recordings and productions from that time frame were released years later in the 1980s and 1990s on albums like Lost Decade (New Rose Records) and 1970 (Ardent Records).

During this era, Chilton was considered as a replacement vocalist for Al Kooper in Blood, Sweat & Tears[3]

1970s career[edit]

After a period in New York City, during which Chilton worked on his guitar technique and singing style (some of which was believed to have been influenced by a chance meeting with Roger McGuinn at a friend’s apartment in New York when Chilton was impressed with McGuinn’s singing and playing),[4] Chilton returned to Memphis in 1971 and co-founded the power-pop group Big Star, with Chris Bell, recording at engineer John Fry’s Ardent Studios. Chilton and Bell co-wrote “In The Street” for Big Star’s first album #1 Record, a track later covered by Cheap Trick and used as the theme song of That ’70s Show.

The group’s recordings met with little commercial success but established Chilton’s reputation as a rock singer and songwriter; later alternative music bands like R.E.M. and The Posies would praise the group as a major influence. During this period he also occasionally recorded with Rosebrough as a group they called The Dolby Fuckers; some of their studio experimentation was included on Big Star’s album Radio City, including the recording of “Mod Lang”. Rosebrough would occasionally work with Chilton on later recordings, including Big Star’s Third album and Chilton’s 1975 solo record Bach’s Bottom.

Moving back to New York in 1977, Chilton performed as “Alex Chilton and the Cossacks” with a lineup that included Chris Stamey (later of The dB’s) and Richard Lloyd of Television at venues like CBGB, releasing an influential solo single, “Bangkok” (b/w a cover of the Seeds‘ “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine“), in 1978. This period learning from the New York CBGB scene marked the beginning of a key change for Chilton’s personal musical interests away from multi-layered pop studio recording standards toward an animated punk and traditional pop-influenced performance style often recorded in one take and featuring few overdubs. There he made the acquaintance of The Cramps, a formative psychobilly ensemble. He brought them to Memphis, to which he had moved back to by April 1978,[5] where he produced the songs that would appear on their Gravest Hits EP and their Songs the Lord Taught Us LP.

In 1979, Chilton released, in a limited edition of 500 copies, the album Like Flies on Sherbert. Produced by Chilton with Jim Dickinson at Phillips Recording and Ardent Studios it features his own interpretations of songs by artists as disparate as the Carter Family, Jimmy C. Newman, Ernest Tubb and KC and the Sunshine Band, along with several originals. While criticized by some as a druggy mess, this album is considered by many to be a lo-fi masterpiece. Sherbert—which included backing work from such notable Memphis musicians as Rosebrough, drummer Ross Johnson, and Chilton’s longtime on-again/off-again companion, Lesa Aldridge—has since been reissued several times. Beginning in 1979 Chilton also co-founded, played guitar with, and produced some albums for Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, which began as an offbeat rock-and-roll group deconstructing blues, country, and rockabilly music.

1980s career[edit]

Chilton spent most of 1980 and 1981 living in Memphis and staying off the road,[5] with the notable exception of a trip to London in May 1980 to play two shows with bassist Matthew Seligman and drummer Morris Windsor of The Soft Boys, and guitarist Knox of The Vibrators. The second show, at the Camden club Dingwalls, was recorded, and was released in 1982 on Aura Records as Live in London.[5] He also continued to work with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns on stage and in the studio during this period.

Chilton toured briefly in 1981 as a solo act, backed by a trio of musicians who played at different times with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns: guitarist Jim Duckworth, bassist Ron Easley (with whom Chilton would tour and record with extensively in the 1990s and 2000s), and drummer Jim Sclavunos.[6] The group played a string of shows in the fall in Chicago, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey;[5] this would be Chilton’s last tour for three years.

Chilton moved to New Orleans in 1982,[5] where he spent much of 1982 and 1983 in New Orleans working outside music, washing dishes at the Louis XVI Restaurant in the French Quarter, working as a janitor at the Uptown nightclub Tupelo’s, and working as a tree-trimmer.[5] He resumed playing with Panther Burns in 1983. His new association with New Orleans jazz musicians (including bassist René Coman) marked a period in which he began playing guitar in a less raucous style and moved toward a cooler, more restrained approach, as heard in Panther Burns’s 1984 Sugar Ditch Revisited album, produced by Jim Dickinson. He moved back into playing music full-time in the summer of 1984, when he and Coman began a four-month stretch playing in a cover band called The Scores, working in four-hour shifts at the Bourbon Street tourist bar Papa Joe’s and taking requests from a printed list of songs placed on the customer tables.[5]

After the cover-band job ended, Chilton contacted a booking agent recommended to him by The dBs drummer Will Rigby, and soon had a handful of club gigs lined up in New York, New Jersey and Boston for the fall of 1984.[5] He stopped playing regular gigs with Panther Burns and formed a trio with the group’s bassist, Coman and drummer Joey Torres to play his out-of-town bookings. At this point, his career was effectively relaunched, and for the next 25 years, Chilton sporadically led a three-piece touring band (augmented saxophonist Jim Spake in 1989 and 1990), recorded studio and live solo records for several independent record labels, and reunited with versions of his previous bands The Box Tops and Big Star for brief tours and recordings.

At the outset of this period, while in New York in 1985 to play a booking at the Danceteria club, Chilton was connected through a journalist with Patrick Mathé, founder of the Paris-based record label New Rose. Chilton’s business relationship with Mathé would last the rest of his life, and New Rose (and its successor label, Last Call Records) released in Europe much of Chilton’s solo work from 1985–2004, as well as a 1998 Box Tops reunion album. In the U.S., Chilton’s solo releases were released by the Big Time, Razor & Tie, Ardent, and Bar/None record labels. In 1985, Chilton began working with Memphis jazz drummer Doug Garrison (who had played music with Chilton’s father Sidney in a big band),[5] and his trio continued touring and began to record as well. Six songs were recorded at Ardent Studios for the 1985 EP Feudalist Tarts, three originals joined by songs from the catalogs of Carla Thomas, Slim Harpo, and Willie Tee. In 1986 Chilton followed this with a second EP, No Sex, which contained three more originals, including the extended mood piece, “Wild Kingdom”, a song highlighting Coman’s jazz-oriented, improvisational bass interplay with Chilton.

During this period, in his recordings Chilton began frequently to use a horn section consisting of Memphis veteran jazz performers Fred Ford, Jim Spake, and Nokie Taylor to imbue the soul-oriented pieces among his repertoire with a postmodern, minimalist jazz feel that distinguished his interpretative approach from that of a simple soul revivalist style. Chilton forged a new direction for his solo work, eschewing effects and blending soul, jazz, country, rockabilly, and pop. Coman left Chilton’s solo trio at the end of 1986 to pursue other projects, forming (with Garrison) The Iguanas three years later with other New Orleans musicians; both would record occasionally with Chilton after departing.

In 1986, The Bangles released their second LP, Different Light, which contained a cover version of Chilton’s Big Star song “September Gurls“. Royalties from this version allowed Chilton, who had struggled financially since leaving The Box Tops, to buy his first new car since his Box Top days, and a piece of rural land near Hohenwald, Tennessee, where he planned to build a small house.[5] The following year, his visibility increased in the alternative rock scene when he was the subject of the song “Alex Chilton” by American rock band The Replacements on their album Pleased to Meet Me, on which Chilton was a guest musician playing guitar on the song “Can’t Hardly Wait”.[7]

With 1987’s High Priest, Chilton released his first full-length LP in eight years, for which he served as producer and wrote four new songs. He was given a $21,000 recording budget by his European and U.S. record labels (New Rose and Big Time, respectively) which allowed him to augment his band on various songs with a three-piece horn section, backup singers, piano, keyboards, and rhythm guitar. He was also able to continue the genre-mixing he had started with Like Flies on Sherbert by including soul, blues, gospel, and rock songs on the same record.[5] He ended the album with a cover of “Raunchy”, his instrumental salute to Sun Records guitarist Sid Manker, a friend of his father from whom he’d once taken a guitar lesson; this song was also a standard in his early Panther Burns repertoire. High Priest also included other covers like “Nobody’s Fool”, a song originally written and recorded in 1973 by his old mentor and Box Tops producer Dan Penn. While his solo career was continuing to pick up momentum, Chilton was also singing Box Tops songs during 1987 with a package tour of 1960s artists including Peter Noone, Ronnie Spector, and Question Mark & the Mysterians.[5]

Chilton followed up High Priest with Black List, his third EP in four years (and his first recording since his mid-1980s career relaunch not to get an U.S. release). Black List continued to display his eclecticism, containing covers of Ronny & the Daytonas‘ “Little GTO”, Furry Lewis‘s “I Will Turn Your Money Green”, and Charlie Rich‘s country-pop arrangement of Frank Sinatra‘s “Nice and Easy”. The ep also included three original songs. Chilton also produced albums by several artists beginning in the 1980s, including the Detroit group The Gories, and continued producing Panther Burns albums well into the 1990s.

1990s to 2010[edit]

Touring and recording as a solo artist from the late 1980s through the 1990s with bassists Mike Maffei,[8] John S. McClure (later to become a professor of Divinity at Vanderbilt University)[9] and Ron Easley, and with drummers Doug Garrison and, from 1993 on, Richard Dworkin (who also played for many years with the jazz group The Microscopic Septet). Chilton gained a reputation for his eclectic taste in song covers, guitar work, and laconic stage presence. Writing about a live performance in the New York Times, critic Peter Watrous said of Chilton that “He’s a soul and blues guitar connoisseur; he chooses his guitar licks as carefully as he does the blues songs he covers, and during his solos, a listener heard a history of soul and blues guitar.” Watrous went on to say of the show that “Irony flowed over everything, and it was hard to tell exactly what Mr. Chilton was after, except perhaps a little fun.”[8]

Chilton performing in Tourcoing, France in February 2004

In 1990 and 1991, Chilton took time off from touring and recording to live during the warm months in a tent on his land in rural Tennessee[10] and work on clearing trees and framing his planned house, a project he was never to complete.[5] In 1993, Chilton recorded Clichés, an acoustic solo record of jazz and pop standards, in New Orleans’ Chez Flames studio with producer Keith Keller. The record was inspired by a short solo acoustic tour of the Netherlands featuring Chilton, alternative country luminary Townes Van Zandt, and several other musicians in January, 1992.[11] Chilton’s final two studio albums featured his band and continued his pattern of mixing together songs from pop, soul, blues, gospel, R&B, swing, and country music. A Man Called Destruction (1995), like High Priest, featured a mix of covers and originals and an expanded band that included horns, keyboards, and occasional backup singers, and was released in the U.S. on the relaunched Ardent Records label. Chilton took an enlarged edition of his band on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in July 1995 to promote the album, playing the song “Lies”. This was Chilton’s second appearance on national television in less than a year; in October 1994, he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with the reformed Big Star. Chilton’s final solo studio record, Loose Shoes and Tight Pussy (1999), featured only his trio, and was named after an old off-color joke made infamous in 1976 by politician Earl Butz. Chilton released one more album as a solo artist, the 2004 CD Live in Anvers, which featured him playing a show in Belgium with a pick-up band of European musicians.

Chilton reformed Big Star in 1993 with a lineup that included two members of The Posies, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. From then on, he added to his schedule concerts and recordings with the new version of Big Star. The final Big Star studio album, entitled In Space, with songs penned by the then-current lineup, was released by Rykodisc on September 27, 2005.

Big Star’s October 29, 1994, performance, their only known show to be professionally filmed in its entirety, was released in November 2014 by Omnivore Recordings as Live in Memphis.[12] According to Mojo, the DVD documents how Big Star’s 1990s lineup defied expectations and endured for another 16 years: “Chilton’s musicality is mesmerising as he drives the band…. Alternating between lead and rhythm, he plays with a mix of laser focus and utter insouciant cool.”[13]

In 1997, Chilton regrouped in Memphis with original Box Tops members Danny Smythe, John Evans, Bill Cunningham, and Gary Talley at Easley Studios to record Tear Off! (1998), the last Box Tops album, which was released only in Europe. Chilton subsequently toured with the original group annually. Chilton had toured Europe in 1991 with a version of the band, and had sung Box Tops material as a featured singer in oldies package tours during the 1980s and 1990s, and after Chilton’s death, the Box Tops were to reform again in 2016 with guitarist Gary Talley as lead vocalist.

In 1998, the Alex Chilton / Chris Bell song “In the Street” (from the first Big Star album) was chosen as the theme music for the U.S. television series That ’70s Show at the suggestion of Chilton’s friend and occasional touring partner Ben Vaughn. Vaughn was working for the series at the time, and oversaw a new recording of the song by singer Todd Griffin and a group of Los Angeles studio musicians; in subsequent seasons, a version recorded by the band Cheap Trick would be used. As had happened a decade before when the Bangles covered “September Gurls”, Alex was the recipient of an unexpected (though modest) royalty windfall, and with this he was able to buy his first home, a 19th-century center-hall cottage in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans for which he paid $12,000.[5]

Chilton was present at his home in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and evacuated on September 4, 2005.[14] One of his last studio sessions was on Cristina Black‘s The Ditty Session, with Chilton on bass.[15][16][17]

Death and memorial[edit]

Chilton was taken to the hospital in New Orleans on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, complaining of health problems, and died the same day of a heart attack.[18] Chilton had experienced at least two episodes of shortness of breath in the week prior to his fatal heart attack, though he did not seek medical attention in part because he did not have health insurance.[19] He was survived by his wife, Laura, a son, Timothee, and a sister, Cecilia.[1][20]

He had been scheduled to play a concert with Big Star at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, on March 20; the show instead took place as a tribute to Chilton, with guests Curt Kirkwood, Chris Stamey, M. Ward, Mike Mills, John Doe, Sondre Lerche, Chuck Prophet, Evan Dando, The Watson Twins, and original member Andy Hummel (who died three months later) joining the other members of Big Star.[21]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • Singer Not the Song (EP) – (Ork, 1977) – Five songs from the 1975 session later released in full as Bach’s Bottom and also on the One Day In New York album. Original Ork release included “Free Again”, “The Singer Not The Song”, “Take Me Home & Make Me Like It”, “All The Time” and “Summertime Blues“.
  • “Bangkok” / “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” – (Fun, 1978)
  • “Hey Little Child” / “No More the Moon Shines on Lorena” – (Aura 1980 UK)
  • Feudalist Tarts (EP) – (New Rose/Big Time, 1985; reissued 1994 on Razor & Tie)
  • No Sex (EP) – (New Rose/Big Time, 1986; reissued 1994 on Razor & Tie)
  • Black List (EP) – (New Rose, 1989; reissued 1994 on Razor & Tie)
  • “All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain (Original Mix)” / “All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain (Demo)” – (Omnivore Recordings OVS7-14, 2011)

Live albums[edit]

  • Live in London – (Aura, 1982 UK). Recorded live at Dingwalls, London, England Wednesday, May 28, 1980.
  • Live in Anvers – (Last Call/Rykodisc, 2004)
  • Electricity By Candlelight / NYC 2/13/97 – (Bar/None, 2013)
  • Ocean Club ’77 – (Norton Records, 2015). A 1977 live gig in NYC.

Compilation albums[edit]

  • One Day in New York – (Trio Records, 1978). Combines the Singer Not the Song ep with a 6-song live set by Alex Chilton and the Cossacks, recorded in New York in 1977. Expanded with an additional studio track from the Bach’s Bottom session for a 1991 C.D. release.
  • Lost Decade – (Fan Club, 1985)
  • Document – (Aura, 1985)
  • Stuff – (New Rose, 1987)
  • Best of Alex Chilton – (New Rose, 1991)
  • 19 Years: A Collection of Alex Chilton – (Rhino, 1991)
  • Top 30 – (Last Call, 1997)
  • Free Again: The “1970” Sessions – (Omnivore Recordings OVCD-13, 2011)

Appeared on[edit]

  • Caroline Now! – (Marina 2000). A Brian Wilson/Beach Boys tribute. Alex plays “I Wanna Pick You Up”.
  • Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits – (Manifesto, 1995). Alex plays “Downtown”
  • Who Covers Who? – (CM Discs, 1993). A tribute to The Who. Alex plays “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere”.
  • Imagination – (Rough Trade, 1991). A Chet Baker tribute credited to the group Medium Cool, a musical project organized by James Chance. Alex sings “Look for the Silver Lining”, “Let’s Get Lost”, and “That Old Feeling”.[22]
  • Play New Rose for Me – (New Rose, 1986). Alex plays The Troggs‘ “With a Girl Like You“. Also included on the Rhino compilation 19 Years.
  • The Bigtime Syndrome – (Big Time, 1987). Alex plays the Porter Wagoner song “Rubber Room”.
  • Love Is My Only Crime – (Veracity, 1993). Alex plays the Jim McBride song “Bet Your Heart on Me“, a 1981 hit for country singer Johnny Lee. Listed on the album as “You Can Bet Your Heart on Me”.
  • Acoustic Music Project – A Benefit For Project Open Hand – (Alias, 1990). Live versions of “Guantanamerika” and “No Sex” (unlisted bonus track). Recorded live at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco.
  • Best of Mountain Stage Live, Volume 3 (BMP, 1992). Alex plays “Guantanamerika”.
  • Live at the Knitting Factory: Downtown Does the Beatles – (Knitting Factory Works, 1992)[23] Alex plays “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
  • Vera Groningen – Beauty In The Underworld – (Vera, 1990). Alex plays the Porter Wagoner song “Rubber Room”, recorded live on May 21, 1986 with René Coman and Doug Garrison at the Vera club in Groningen, Netherlands.
  • Shoeshine Chartbusters – (Shoeshine, 1997). Alex plays “We’re Gonna Make It” by Little Milton, “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” from Bye Bye Birdie, the Fats Domino arrangement of “Margie“, the Big Joe Turner song “Hide and Seek”, and the standard “There Will Never Be Another You“, live recording, backed by Alan Hutchison (Superstar), bass, and Francis Macdonald (Teenage Fanclub), drums.
  • The Weedkiller’s Daughter – (John & Mary, 1993)
  • I Shall Be Released – (Carmaig de Forest, 1987)
  • See My Friends – (Ray Davies, 2010)
  • The Ditty Sessions – (Cristina Black, 2010)

Chuck Berry discography

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Chuck Berry discography

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chuck Berry discography
Studio albums 18
Compilation albums 31
Singles 45
Soundtrack albums 2

This page is a discography of rock and roll musician Chuck Berry.

Albums[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details[1][2][3] Peak chart positions
US 200[4] US R&B[4] CA[5]
After School Session
  • Released: May 1957
  • Label: Chess (LP-1426)
  • Format: mono LP
One Dozen Berrys
  • Released: March 1958
  • Label: Chess (LP-1432)
  • Format: mono LP
Chuck Berry Is on Top
  • Released: July 1959
  • Label: Chess (LP-1435)
  • Format: LP
Rockin’ at the Hops
  • Released: July 1960
  • Label: Chess (LP-1448)
  • Format: mono LP
New Juke Box Hits
  • Released: March 1961
  • Label: Chess (LP-1456)
  • Format: mono LP
Two Great Guitars
  • Released: August 1964
  • Label: Checker (LP-2991)
  • Format: mono LP
St. Louis to Liverpool
  • Released: November 1964
  • Label: Chess (LP/S-1488)
  • Format: mono/stereo LP
124
Chuck Berry in London
  • Released: April 1965
  • Label: Chess (LP/S-1495)
  • Format: mono/stereo LP
Fresh Berry’s
  • Released: November 1965
  • Label: Chess (LP/S-1498)
  • Format: mono/stereo LP
Chuck Berry’s Golden Hits
  • Released: March 1967
  • Label: Mercury (MG-21103/SR-61103)
  • Format: mono/stereo LP
Chuck Berry in Memphis
  • Released: September 1967
  • Label: Mercury (MG-21123/SR-61123)
  • Format: mono/stereo LP
From St. Louie to Frisco
  • Released: November 1968
  • Label: Mercury (SR-61176)
  • Format: stereo LP
185
Concerto in B. Goode
  • Released: June 1969
  • Label: Mercury (SR-61223)
  • Format: stereo LP
Back Home
  • Released: November 1970
  • Label: Chess (LPS-1550)
  • Format: stereo LP
San Francisco Dues
  • Released: September 1971
  • Label: Chess (CH-50008)
  • Format: stereo LP
The London Chuck Berry Sessions
  • Released: October 1972
  • Label: Chess (CH-60020)
  • Format: stereo LP
8 8 6
Bio
  • Released: August 1973
  • Label: Chess (CH-50043)
  • Format: stereo LP
175 58
Chuck Berry
  • Released: February 1975
  • Label: Chess (CH-60032)
  • Format: stereo LP
Rock It
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: Atco (SD-38-118)
  • Format: stereo LP
Chuck
“—” denotes releases that did not chart.

Live albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
U.S. 200[4] U.S. Blues[4] U.K.[7]
Chuck Berry Twist
  • Released: February 1962
  • Label: Chess (LP-1465)
  • Format: LP
More Chuck Berry 9
Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits
  • Released: April 1964
  • Label: Chess (LP-1485)
  • Format: LP
34
The Latest and the Greatest
  • Released: May 1964 (UK only)
  • Label: Pye International (NPL 28031)
  • Format: LP
8
You Never Can Tell
  • Released: September 1964 (UK only)
  • Label: Pye International (NPL 29039)
  • Format: LP
18
Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade
  • Released: 1967
  • Label: Chess (2CH-1514)
  • Format: Double LP
72
Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade, Vol. 2
  • Released: February 1973
  • Label: Chess (2CH-60023)
  • Format: Double LP
110
Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade, Vol. 3
  • Released: May 1974
  • Label: Chess (2CH-60028)
  • Format: Double LP
Motorvatin’
  • Released: 1976 (Europe only)
  • Label: Chess (9288 690)
  • Format: LP
7
The Great Twenty-Eight
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: Chess (2CH-8201)
  • Format: Double LP
Motive Series
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: Mercury (6463129)
  • Format: LP
Chess Masters
  • Released: March 1983
  • Label: Chess (CXMP 2011)
  • Format: LP
Rock ‘n’ Roll Rarities
  • Released: March 1986
  • Label: Chess (2CH-92521)
  • Format: Double LP
More Rock ‘n’ Roll Rarities
  • Released: August 1986
  • Label: Chess (CH-9190)
  • Format: LP, CD, Cassette
The Best of the Best of Chuck Berry
  • Released: 1987/1994
  • Label: Gusto/Hollywood/IMG
  • Format: LP, CD, Cassette
The Chess Box
  • Released: 1988
  • Label: Chess (CHD3-80001)
  • Format: CD
Missing Berries: Rarities, Vol. 3
  • Released: June 1990
  • Label: Chess (CHC/D-9318)
  • Format: Cassette, CD
The Collection
  • Released: August 26, 1991
  • Label: MCA (MCAC-17751)
  • Format: Cassette
36 All-Time Greatest Hits
  • Released: 1996
  • Label: Universal Distribution
  • Format: CD
Let It Rock
  • Released: June 4, 1996
  • Label: Universal Special (MCAC/D-20931)
  • Format: Cassette, CD
The Best of Chuck Berry
  • Released: July 26, 1996
  • Label: MCA (MCAD-11560)
  • Format: Double CD
Guitar Legends
  • 5 songs by Chuck Berry, 5 songs by Bo Diddley
  • Released: February 11, 1997
  • Label: Universal Special (20974)
  • Format: Cassette, CD
His Best, Vol. 1
  • Released: March 25, 1996
  • Label: MCA/Chess (CHD-9371)
  • Format: CD
His Best, Vol. 2
  • Released: May 20, 1997
  • Label: MCA/Chess (CHD-9381)
  • Format: CD
The Best of Chuck Berry
  • Released: September 15, 1997
  • Label: Universal Distribution
  • Format: CD
Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller
  • Released: October 14, 1997
  • Label: MCA/Chess (CHD-80245)
  • Format: CD
20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Chuck Berry
  • Released: March 23, 1999
  • Label: MCA (MCAC/D-11944)
  • Format: Cassette, CD
13
Anthology
  • Released: June 27, 2000
  • Label: MCA/Chess (CHD-112304)
  • Format: CD
The Ultimate Collection
  • Released: September 5, 2000
  • Label: Universal International (17751)
  • Format: CD
Blues
  • Released: August 12, 2003
  • Label: MCA/Chess (B000053002)
  • Format: CD
Chuck Berry
  • Released: October 28, 2003
  • Label: Universal International (98017)
  • Format: CD
Johnny B. Goode: His Complete ’50s Chess Recordings
  • Released: February 19, 2008
  • Label: Hip-O Select-Geffen-Universal
  • Format: CD
You Never Can Tell: His Complete Chess Recordings 1960–1966
  • Released: March 31, 2009
  • Label: Hip-O Select-Geffen-Universal (12465)
  • Format: CD
Have Mercy: His Complete Chess Recordings 1969–1974
  • Released: March 23, 2010
  • Label: Hip-O Select-Geffen-Universal (13790)
  • Format: CD
Rock And Roll Music – Any Old Way You Choose It – The Complete Studio Recordings… Plus!
  • Released: November 4, 2014
  • Label: Bear Family
  • Format: CD
“—” denotes releases that did not chart.

Soundtracks[edit]

Title Album details
Rock, Rock, Rock
  • Released: Dec 1956
  • Label: Chess (LP-1425)
  • Format: mono LP
Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Released: October 1987
  • Label: MCA (MCA/C/D-6217)
  • Format: LP/Cassette/CD

EPs[edit]

Title Album details
After School Session
  • Released: May 1957
  • Label: Chess (EP 5118)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: US
Rock and Roll Music
  • Released: 1957
  • Label: Chess (EP 5119)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: US
Sweet Little 16
  • Released: 1958
  • Label: Chess (EP 5121)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: US
Pickin’ Berries
  • Released: 1958
  • Label: Chess (EP 5124)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: US
Sweet Little Rock and Roller
  • Released: 1959
  • Label: Chess (EP 5126)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: US
Chuck Berry
  • Released: 1963
  • Label: Pye International (NEP 44011)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: UK
This Is Chuck Berry
  • Released: 1963
  • Label: Pye International (NEP 44013)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: UK
The Best of Chuck Berry
  • Released: 1963
  • Label: Pye International (NEP 44018)
  • Format: 7″ 45 RPM
  • Origin: UK

Singles[edit]

Year Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except as noted
Chart positions Album
US Hot
[8][9]
US R&B
[8][10]
CA
[5]
GE
[11]
NL
[12]
NO
[13]
UK
[14]
1955 Maybellene” / 5 1 Chuck Berry Is on Top
Wee Wee Hours 10 After School Session
“Thirty Days (To Come Back Home)”
b/w “Together (We Will Always Be)” (from After School Session)
2 Rock, Rock, Rock (soundtrack)
“No Money Down”
b/w “The Downbound Train”
8 After School Session
1956 Roll Over Beethoven
b/w “Drifting Heart” (from After School Session)
29 2 31 Rock, Rock, Rock (soundtrack)
Too Much Monkey Business
b/w “Brown Eyed Handsome Man
4 After School Session
You Can’t Catch Me
b/w “Havana Moon” (from After School Session)
Rock, Rock, Rock (soundtrack)
1957 School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)
b/w “Deep Feeling”
3 1 24 After School Session
“Oh Baby Doll”
b/w “Lajaunda”
57 12 One Dozen Berrys
Rock and Roll Music
b/w “Blue Feeling”
8 6
1958 Sweet Little Sixteen
b/w “Reelin’ and Rockin’
2 1 16
Johnny B. Goode
b/w “Around and Around”
8 2 Chuck Berry Is on Top
“Beautiful Delilah”
b/w “Vacation Time” (non-album track)
81 Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade Volume 3
Carol
b/w “Hey Pedro”
18 9 Chuck Berry Is on Top
“Joe Joe Gun” / 83
“Sweet Little Rock and Roller” 47 13
Merry Christmas Baby” / 71 St. Louis to Liverpool
Run Rudolph Run 69 36 Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade Volume 2
1959 “Anthony Boy”
b/w “That’s My Desire” (non-album track)
60 Chuck Berry Is on Top
Almost Grown” / 32 3
Little Queenie 80
Back in the U.S.A.” / 37 16 Chuck Berry Twist
Memphis, Tennessee 6 Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits
“Childhood Sweetheart”
b/w “Broken Arrow”
Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade Volume 3
1960 Let It Rock” / 64 6 Rockin’ at the Hops
“Too Pooped to Pop” 42 18
“Bye Bye Johnny”
b/w “Worried Life Blues”
I Got to Find My Baby
b/w “Mad Lad”
“Jaguar and Thunderbird”
b/w “Our Little Rendezvous” (from St. Louis to Liverpool)
109 Chuck Berry on Stage
1961 “Little Star”
b/w “I’m Talking About You
New Juke Box Hits
“Go-Go-Go”
b/w “Come On” (from Chuck Berry Twist)
38 Chuck Berry on Stage
1964 Nadine (Is It You?)
b/w “O Rangutang” (non-album track)
23 23 27 Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits
No Particular Place to Go
b/w “You Two”
10 10 6 3 St. Louis to Liverpool
You Never Can Tell
b/w “Brenda Lee”
14 14 11 9 23
“Little Marie”
b/w “Go, Bobby Soxer”
54 30 40
Promised Land
b/w “The Things I Used to Do”
41 41 30 26
“Chuck’s Beat”
b/w “Bo’s Beat”
(both by Chuck Berry & Bo Diddley)
Two Great Guitars
1965 “Dear Dad”
b/w “Lonely School Days” (from San Francisco Dues)
95 Chuck Berry in London
“It Wasn’t Me”
b/w “Welcome Back Pretty Baby”
Fresh Berry’s
1966 “Ramona Say Yes”
b/w “Havana Moon” (from After School Session)
Non-album track
“Club Nitty Gritty”
b/w “Laugh and Cry” (non-album track)
Chuck Berry’s Golden Hits
1967 “Back to Memphis”
b/w “I Do Really Love You”
Chuck Berry in Memphis
“Feelin’ It”
b/w “It Hurts Me Too”
(both sides with the Miller Band)
Live at the Fillmore Auditorium
1968 “Louie to Frisco”
b/w “Ma Dear”
From St. Louie to Frisco
1969 “It’s Too Dark in There”
b/w “Good Looking Woman”
Concerto in B Goode
1970 “Tulane”
b/w “Have Mercy Judge”
Back Home
1972 My Ding-a-Ling
b/w “Johnny B. Goode”
1 42 1 40 29 7 1 The London Chuck Berry Sessions
Reelin’ and Rockin’
b/w “Let’s Boogie”
27 21 18
1973 “Bio”
b/w “Roll ‘Em Pete” (non-album track)
Bio
1975 Shake, Rattle and Roll
b/w “Baby What You Want Me to Do”
Chuck Berry
1979 “Oh What a Thrill”
b/w “California”
Rockit
Dash denotes releases that did not chart.

Not all of Berry’s UK singles were released in the same year as the initial U.S. release, and not all of his UK singles featured the same A-side and B-side configurations as in the U.S.

Billboard did not publish a separate R&B singles chart in 1964. For this year only, R&B chart positions are from Cash Box magazine.[10]

TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT CHUCK BERRY

 

Chuck Berry

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Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry 1957.jpg

Berry in 1957
Background information
Birth name Charles Edward Anderson Berry
Born (1926-10-18)October 18, 1926
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died March 18, 2017(2017-03-18) (aged 90)
St. Charles, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Rock and roll
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1953–2017
Labels Chess, Mercury, Atco
Associated acts Johnnie Johnson, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters
Website www.chuckberry.com

Charles Edward AndersonChuckBerry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and music featuring guitar solos and showmanship that were a major influence on subsequent rock music.[1]

Born into a middle-class African-American family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to a reformatory, where he was held from 1944 to 1947. After his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. Berry claimed on The Tonight Show he was influenced primarily by 1940s swing artist Louis Jordan. “The main guy was Louis Jordan. I wanted to sing like Nat Cole, with lyrics like Louis Jordan with the swing of Bennie Goodman with Charlie Christian on guitar, playing Carl Hogan’s riffs, with the soul of Muddy Waters.”[2] By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of the blues musician T-Bone Walker, Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio.[3] His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. With Chess he recorded “Maybellene”—Berry’s adaptation of the country song “Ida Red“—which sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine’s rhythm and blues chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand. But in January 1962, he was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines.[3][4][5]

After his release in 1963, Berry had more hits in the mid-1960s, including “No Particular Place to Go“, “You Never Can Tell“, and “Nadine”. By the mid-1970s, he was more in demand as a live performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality.[3] In 1979 he served 120 days in prison for tax evasion.

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.”[6] Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s “greatest of all time” lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[7] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame‘s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry’s: “Johnny B. Goode“, “Maybellene“, and “Rock and Roll Music“.[8] Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.[9]

Biography and career

Early life and apprenticeship with Johnnie Johnson (1926–1954)

Born in St. Louis, Missouri,[10] Berry was the fourth child in a family of six. He grew up in the north St. Louis neighborhood known as The Ville, an area where many middle-class people lived at the time. His father, Henry, was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church; his mother, Martha, was a certified public school principal. His upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age. He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still a student at Sumner High School.[11]

In 1944, while still a student at Sumner High School, he was arrested for armed robbery after robbing three shops in Kansas City, Missouri, and then stealing a car at gunpoint with some friends.[12][13] Berry’s account in his autobiography is that his car broke down and he flagged down a passing car and stole it at gunpoint with a nonfunctional pistol.[14] He was convicted and sent to the Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men at Algoa, near Jefferson City, Missouri,[10] where he formed a singing quartet and did some boxing.[12] The singing group became competent enough that the authorities allowed it to perform outside the detention facility.[15] Berry was released from the reformatory on his 21st birthday in 1947.

Berry married Themetta “Toddy” Suggs on October 28, 1948, who gave birth to Darlin Ingrid Berry on October 3, 1950.[16] Berry supported his family by taking various jobs in St. Louis, working briefly as a factory worker at two automobile assembly plants and as a janitor in the apartment building where he and his wife lived. Afterwards he trained as a beautician at the Poro College of Cosmetology, founded by Annie Turnbo Malone.[17] He was doing well enough by 1950 to buy a “small three room brick cottage with a bath” on Whittier Street,[18] which is now listed as the Chuck Berry House on the National Register of Historic Places.[19]

By the early 1950s, Berry was working with local bands in clubs in St. Louis as an extra source of income.[17] He had been playing blues since his teens, and he borrowed both guitar riffs and showmanship techniques from the blues musician T-Bone Walker.[20] He also took guitar lessons from his friend Ira Harris, which laid the foundation for his guitar style.[21]

By early 1953 Berry was performing with Johnnie Johnson‘s trio, starting a long-time collaboration with the pianist.[22] The band played mostly blues and ballads, but the most popular music among whites in the area was country. Berry wrote, “Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering ‘who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?’ After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it.”[10]

Berry’s calculated showmanship, along with a mix of country tunes and R&B tunes, sung in the style of Nat King Cole set to the music of Muddy Waters, brought in a wider audience, particularly affluent white people.[3][23]

Signing with Chess: “Maybellene” to “Come On” (1955–1962)

Berry in a 1958 publicity photo

In May 1955, Berry traveled to Chicago, where he met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. Berry thought his blues music would be of more interest to Chess, but to his surprise it was a traditional country fiddle tune, “Ida Red“, as recorded by Bob Wills,[24] that got Chess’s attention. Chess had seen the rhythm and blues market shrink and was looking to move beyond it, and he thought Berry might be the artist for that purpose. On May 21, 1955, Berry recorded an adaptation of the “Ida Red”, under the title “Maybellene“, with Johnnie Johnson on the piano, Jerome Green (from Bo Diddley‘s band) on the maracas, Jasper Thomas on the drums and Willie Dixon on the bass. “Maybellene” sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine’s rhythm and blues chart and number five on its Best Sellers in Stores chart for September 10, 1955.[10][25]

At the end of June 1956, his song “Roll Over Beethoven” reached number 29 on the Billboards Top 100 chart, and Berry toured as one of the “Top Acts of ’56”. He and Carl Perkins became friends. Perkins said that “I knew when I first heard Chuck that he’d been affected by country music. I respected his writing; his records were very, very great.” As they toured, Perkins discovered that Berry not only liked country music but also knew about as many songs as he did. Jimmie Rodgers was one of his favorites. “Chuck knew every Blue Yodel and most of Bill Monroe‘s songs as well”, Perkins remembered. “He told me about how he was raised very poor, very tough. He had a hard life. He was a good guy. I really liked him.”[26]

In late 1957, Berry took part in Alan Freed‘s “Biggest Show of Stars for 1957”, touring the United States with the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and others.[27] He was a guest on ABC‘s Guy Mitchell Show, singing his hit song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”. The hits continued from 1957 to 1959, with Berry scoring over a dozen chart singles during this period, including the US Top 10 hits “School Days“, “Rock and Roll Music“, “Sweet Little Sixteen“, and “Johnny B. Goode“. He appeared in two early rock-and-roll movies: Rock Rock Rock (1956), in which he sang “You Can’t Catch Me”, and Go, Johnny, Go! (1959), in which he had a speaking role as himself and performed “Johnny B. Goode”, “Memphis, Tennessee“, and “Little Queenie“. His performance of “Sweet Little Sixteen” at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 was captured in the motion picture Jazz on a Summer’s Day.[28]

By the end of the 1950s, Berry was a high-profile established star with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had opened a racially integrated St. Louis nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand, and invested in real estate.[29] But in December 1959, he was arrested under the Mann Act after allegations that he had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old Apache waitress, Janice Escalante,[30] whom he had transported across state lines to work as a hatcheck girl at his club.[31] After a two-week trial in March 1960, he was convicted, fined $5,000, and sentenced to five years in prison.[32] He appealed the decision, arguing that the judge’s comments and attitude were racist and prejudiced the jury against him. The appeal was upheld,[4][33] and a second trial was heard in May and June 1961,[34] resulting in another conviction and a three-year prison sentence.[35] After another appeal failed, Berry served one and one-half years in prison, from February 1962 to October 1963.[36] He had continued recording and performing during the trials, but his output had slowed as his popularity declined; his final single released before he was imprisoned was “Come On“.[37]

“Nadine” and move to Mercury (1963–1969)

Berry and his sister Lucy Ann (1965)

When Berry was released from prison in 1963, his return to recording and performing was made easier because British invasion bands—notably the Beatles and the Rolling Stones—had sustained interest in his music by releasing cover versions of his songs,[38][39] and other bands had reworked some of them, such as the Beach Boys‘ 1963 hit “Surfin’ U.S.A.“, which used the melody of Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen“.[40] In 1964 and 1965 Berry released eight singles, including three that were commercially successful, reaching the top 20 of the Billboard 100: “No Particular Place to Go” (a humorous reworking of “School Days”, concerning the introduction of seat belts in cars),[41]You Never Can Tell“, and the rocking “Nadine“.[42] Between 1966 and 1969 Berry released five albums for Mercury Records, including his first live album, Live at Fillmore Auditorium, in which he was backed by the Steve Miller Band.[43][44]

While this was not a successful period for studio work,[45] Berry was still a top concert draw. In May 1964, he had made a successful tour of the UK,[41] but when he returned in January 1965 his behavior was erratic and moody, and his touring style of using unrehearsed local backing bands and a strict nonnegotiable contract was earning him a reputation as a difficult and unexciting performer.[46] He also played at large events in North America, such as the Schaefer Music Festival, in New York City’s Central Park in July 1969, and the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival in October.[47]

Back to Chess: “My Ding-a-Ling” to White House concert (1970–1979)

Berry helped give life to a subculture … Even “My Ding-a-Ling”, a fourth-grade wee-wee joke that used to mortify true believers at college concerts, permitted a lot of twelve-year-olds new insight into the moribund concept of “dirty” when it hit the airwaves …

Robert Christgau[48]

Berry in 1973

Berry returned to Chess from 1970 to 1973. There were no hit singles from the 1970 album Back Home, but in 1972 Chess released a live recording of “My Ding-a-Ling“, a novelty song which he had recorded in a different version as “My Tambourine” on his 1968 LP From St. Louie to Frisco.[49] The track became his only number-one single. A live recording of “Reelin’ and Rockin’“, issued as a followup single in the same year, was his last Top 40 hit in both the US and the UK. Both singles were included on the part-live, part-studio album The London Chuck Berry Sessions (other albums of London sessions were recorded by Chess’s mainstay artists Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf). Berry’s second tenure with Chess ended with the 1975 album Chuck Berry, after which he did not make a studio record until Rock It for Atco Records in 1979, which would be his last studio album for 38 years.[50]

In the 1970s Berry toured on the strength of his earlier successes. He was on the road for many years, carrying only his Gibson guitar, confident that he could hire a band that already knew his music no matter where he went. AllMusic said that in this period his “live performances became increasingly erratic, … working with terrible backup bands and turning in sloppy, out-of-tune performances” which “tarnished his reputation with younger fans and oldtimers” alike.[29] Among the many bandleaders performing a backup role with Berry were Bruce Springsteen and Steve Miller when each was just starting his career. Springsteen related in the documentary film Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll that Berry did not give the band a set list and expected the musicians to follow his lead after each guitar intro. Berry neither spoke to nor thanked the band after the show. Nevertheless, Springsteen backed Berry again when he appeared at the concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. At the request of Jimmy Carter, Berry performed at the White House on June 1, 1979.[44]

Berry’s touring style, traveling the “oldies” circuit in the 1970s (often being paid in cash by local promoters) added ammunition to the Internal Revenue Service‘s accusations that Berry had evaded paying income taxes. Facing criminal sanction for the third time, Berry pled guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to four months in prison and 1,000 hours of community service—performing benefit concerts—in 1979.[51]

Last years on the road (1980–2017)

Berry performing live in 1997

Berry continued to play 70 to 100 one-nighters per year in the 1980s, still traveling solo and requiring a local band to back him at each stop. In 1986, Taylor Hackford made a documentary film, Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, of a celebration concert for Berry’s sixtieth birthday, organized by Keith Richards.[52] Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Linda Ronstadt, among others, appeared with Berry on stage and in the film. During the concert, Berry played a Gibson ES-355, the luxury version of the ES-335 that he favored on his 1970s tours. Richards played a black Fender Telecaster Custom, Cray a Fender Stratocaster and Clapton a Gibson ES 350T (de), the same model that Berry used on his early recordings.[53]

In the late 1980s, Berry bought The Southern Air, a restaurant in Wentzville, Missouri.[54] In 1990 he was sued by several women who claimed that he had installed a video camera in the ladies’ bathroom. Berry claimed that he had the camera installed to catch red-handed a worker who was suspected of stealing from the restaurant. Though his guilt was never proved in court, Berry opted for a class action settlement with 59 women. His biographer, Bruce Pegg, estimated that it cost Berry over $1.2 million plus legal fees.[55] During this time Berry began using Wayne T. Schoeneberg as his legal counsel. Reportedly, a police raid on his house found videotapes of women using the restroom, and one of the women was a minor. Also found in the raid were 62 grams of marijuana. Felony drug and child-abuse charges were filed. In order to avoid the child-abuse charges, Berry agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He was given a six-month suspended jail sentence and two years’ unsupervised probation and was ordered to donate $5,000 to a local hospital.[56]

In November 2000, Berry faced legal issues when he was sued by his former pianist Johnnie Johnson, who claimed that he co-wrote over 50 songs, including “No Particular Place to Go”, “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven”, that credit Berry alone. The case was dismissed when the judge ruled that too much time had passed since the songs were written.[57]

In 2008, Berry toured Europe, with stops in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland and Spain. In mid-2008, he played at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland.[58] During a concert on New Year’s Day 2011 in Chicago, Berry, suffering from exhaustion, passed out and had to be helped off stage.[59]

Berry lived in Ladue, Missouri, approximately 10 miles (16 km) west of St. Louis.[60] He regularly performed one Wednesday each month at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and bar located in the Delmar Loop neighborhood of St. Louis, from 1996 to 2014.

Berry announced on his 90th birthday that his first new studio album since Rock It in 1979, entitled Chuck, would be released in 2017.[61] His first new record in 38 years, it features his children, Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid, on guitar and harmonica, with songs “covering the spectrum from hard-driving rockers to soulful thought-provoking time capsules of a life’s work” and dedicated to his wife of 68 years, Themetta Berry.[62]

Death

Police in St. Charles County, Missouri, were called to Berry’s house on March 18, 2017, where he was unresponsive. Berry was pronounced dead at the scene; he was 90.[63][64]

Legacy

While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together. It was his particular genius to graft country & western guitar licks onto a rhythm & blues chassis in his very first single, “Maybellene”.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame[65]

A pioneer of rock and roll, Berry was a significant influence on the development of both the music and the attitude associated with the rock music lifestyle. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics successfully aimed to appeal to the early teenage market by using graphic and humorous descriptions of teen dances, fast cars, high school life, and consumer culture,[3] and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.[1] His records are a rich storehouse of the essential lyrical, showmanship and musical components of rock and roll. In addition to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, a large number of significant popular-music performers have recorded Berry’s songs.[3] Though not technically accomplished, his guitar style is distinctive—he incorporated electronic effects to mimic the sound of bottleneck blues guitarists and drew on the influence of guitar players such as Carl Hogan,[66] and T-Bone Walker[3] to produce a clear and exciting sound that many later guitarists would acknowledge as an influence in their own style.[56] Berry’s showmanship has been influential on other rock guitarists,[67] particularly his one-legged hop routine,[68] and the “duck walk“,[69] which he first used as a child when he walked “stooping with full-bended knees, but with my back and head vertical” under a table to retrieve a ball and his family found it entertaining; he used it when “performing in New York for the first time and some journalist branded it the duck walk.”[70][71]

The rock critic Robert Christgau considers Berry “the greatest of the rock and rollers”,[72] while John Lennon said, “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.”[73] Ted Nugent said, “If you don’t know every Chuck Berry lick, you can’t play rock guitar.”[74]

When asked what caused the explosion of the popularity of rock ‘n roll that took place in the 1950s, with him and a handful of others, mainly him, Berry said, “Well, actually they begin to listen to it, you see, because certain stations played certain music. The music that we, the blacks, played, the cultures were so far apart, we would have to have a play station in order to play it. The cultures begin to come together, and you begin to see one another’s vein of life, then the music came together.”[75]

External video
President Bill Clinton recognizing Chuck Berry after Berry was named a Kennedy Center honoree, Dec. 3, 2000, C-SPAN[76]

Among the honors Berry has received are the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984[77] and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000.[78] He was ranked seventh on Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time.[79] On May 14, 2002, Berry was honored as one of the first BMI Icons at the 50th annual BMI Pop Awards. He was presented the award along with BMI affiliates Bo Diddley and Little Richard.[80] In August 2014, Berry was made a laureate of the Polar Music Prize.[81]

Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s “Greatest of All Time” lists. In September 2003, the magazine ranked him number 6 in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.[82] In November his compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight was ranked 21st in Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[83] In March 2004, Berry was ranked fifth on the list of “The Immortals – The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.[7][84] In December 2004, six of his songs were included in “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time“: “Johnny B. Goode” (#7), “Maybellene” (#18), “Roll Over Beethoven” (#97), “Rock and Roll Music” (#128), “Sweet Little Sixteen” (#272) and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” (#374).[85] In June 2008, his song “Johnny B. Goode” ranked first in the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”.[86]

The journalist Chuck Klosterman has argued that in 300 years Berry will still be remembered as the rock musician who most closely captured the essence of rock and roll.[87]