b. 10th July 1936, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
d. 10th November 2002, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Keyboard player for Motown Records, Johnny Griffith, a classically trained musician, died on Sunday 10th November at age 66.
The cause of death is not known at this time.
Griffith was a member of the Funk Brothers, who were considered the unsung heroes of the label, played on hundreds of hits such as the Supremes' 'Stop in the Name of Love' and Marvin Gaye's 'I Heard it through the Grapevine.'
Johnny toured with several major artists including Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington.
He was a large contributor to the Motown sound and to the group of musicians who comprised the Funk Brothers.
Artists who defined the Motown sound of the 1960's, which fused gospel, soul and pop, included Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Four Tops.
Griffith had just appeared with the Funk Brothers on Thursday night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
The performance was part of the premiere for the launch of 'Standing in the Shadows of Motown,' a new film that recognizes the achievements of the Funk Brothers.
Johnny Griffith is survived by his wife, Delma Reid Griffith, and three children, Jonathan Jr., Beth and Rhonda.
He is also survived by two step sons, Roman and Charlie Reid III, and two grandchildren, Ronnie and Shaynae.
Johnny Griffith also played on several hit songs as a session musician including Jackie Wilson's '(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher' and the Chi-Lites' 'Have You Seen Her,' among many others.
The Funk Brothers played on more Number One hits than the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and Elvis combined.
The other members of the Funk Brothers were Earl Van Dyke, Pistol Allen, Uriel Jones, Eddie Willis, Joe Messina, Joe Hunter, Bob Babbit, Jack Ashford, James Jamerson, Benny Benjamin, Eddie Brown, Robert White and Johnny Himself.
b. 1931, U.S.A.
d. 5th November 2002, Washington, U.S.A.
Billy Mitchell, 71, a former singer with the Washington-based rhythm-and-blues group the Clovers who was best known for his rendition of 'Love Potion No. 9,' died on the 5th of November at Washington Hospital Center after a stroke. He had colon cancer.
The Clovers built a career recording smooth ballads and bluesy jumps for New York independent Atlantic Records, in the process becoming one of the most popular vocal groups of the 50's.
The group first recorded for Rainbow Records in early 1950.
Later in the year the Clovers joined the fledgling Atlantic label.
In 1952 Charles White (b. 1930, Washington, DC, USA), who had earlier experience in the Dominoes and the Checkers, became the Clovers' new lead, replacing Buddy Bailey who was drafted into the US Army.
In late 1953 Billy Mitchell took over from White.
Bailey rejoined the group in 1954 but Mitchell remained and the two alternated the leads.
Whoever was the lead, from 1951-56 the Clovers achieved a consistent sound and remarkably consistent success.
They had three US number 1 R & B hits with 'Don't You Know I Love You', 'Fool, Fool, Fool' (both 1951) and 'Ting-A-Ling' (1952), plus four number 2 R & B hits with 'One Mint Julep', 'Hey, Miss Fannie' (both 1952), 'Good Lovin' (1953) and 'Lovey Dovey'(1954).
The best-known of the remaining 11 other Top 10 hits for Atlantic was 'Devil Or Angel', a song frequently covered, most notably by Bobby Vee.
The Clovers only made the US pop charts with 'Love Love Love' (number 30, 1956) and 'Love Potion No. 9' (number 23, 1959).
The latter, one of Leiber And Stoller's best songs, was recorded for United Artists, the only label other than Atlantic that saw the Clovers reach the charts.
In 1961 the Clovers split into rival groups led, respectively, by Buddy Bailey and Harold Lucas.
Don Wilson Varner
by kind permission of Francine Varner
b. 25th June 1943, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A.
d. 7th October 2002, Moreno Valley, California, U.S.A.
Don Varner was born in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A.
Don began to write and perform as a student in High School.
With his group, the band were noticed by a Manager during their senior year.
After graduating, the group took to the road.
By the time the group broke up, Don had acquired a solid stage experience and went on with a solo career.
Don was very active as a songwriter and a performer, and always where things were happening. He left Alabama for Chicago where he spent six years.
During this time, he was very visible on the clubs scene and never stopped performing.
He came back to Alabama at the time when many major entertainers like the Temptations, had been discovered there, and also at a time when the Muscle Shoals Sounds was it.
Don already had contacts there which allowed him to meet many entertainers and executives from major record companies.
Among others he met Jerry Wexler from Atlantic Records who liked one of the songs that Don had co-written with William Crump titled 'Holdin On'.
The song was recorded at Muscle Shoals by Sam and Dave and released on Atlantic Records.
Don also collaborated with Quinn Ivy, publisher of 'When a man loves a woman' by Percy Sledge, and did many recordings on his labels.
All the titles on the demo tape were recorded at Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio.
Don worked with the studio musicians, Jimmy Johnson, Spooner, Hawkins, the whole 'gang' on all the recording sessions.
Don had a recording contract with ATCOM a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, on which they were releasing at the time artists like Otis Redding.
He also recorded for Diamond Records in New York and, through it all, never stopped
performing on stage.
In 1984, Don moved to Los Angeles, in California, and in 1985 went on a tour as lead singer of the Johnny Otis Show.
This tour took him to Europe where they performed in all the European jazz festivals: Nice, Vienne, Pori, Montreux, La Hague, and in Quebec, where they performed at the Bonaventure.
During the tour, on all the locations.
The Show traveled and worked the same stages as Ray Charles, Fats Domino, BB King among others.
In 1987, Don started to write Gospel music.
He defined his own style in that genre too, blending his powerful voice with years of R&B and the intensity of the message of the lyrics, making the final result a very unique musical experience.
As a performer, Dons explosive style allows him to fill a stage all by himself.
His style has two components that cross any line: talent and quality, for which the public at large is still looking and sensitive to.
Don was also a publisher with Ceevee Music Publishing affiliated with BMI.
His wife, Francine Varner is the publisher of all musical material with Gospel Truth Music Publishing, member of ASCAP.
These texts have been reproduced by the very kind permission of Don's wife Francine
Erma Vernice Franklin
b. 13th March 1938, Shelby, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 7th September 2002, Detroit, U.S.A.
Erma Franklin, the sister of Aretha Franklin, died on the 7th of September 2002 from cancer.
Her career had taken a back seat, having been slightly overshadowed by that of her illustrious sibling.
Erma's most celebrated moment came in 1967 with 'Piece Of My Heart', an intense uptown soul ballad co-written and produced by Bert Berns.
The song was adopted by Janis Joplin, but Franklin's own progress faltered with the collapse of her record label.
Although she did secure a minor 1969 hit with 'Gotta Find Me A Lover (24 Hours A Day)', her later work failed to match that early promise.
During the past three decades much of her time has been spent running Boysville, a child care charity in Detroit.
In 1992, Levi's chose 'Piece Of My Heart' for one of their television advertisements, and in predictible fashion it scaled the charts and gave Aretha's often overlooked sister her true moment of (belated) glory.
b. 12th April, 1909, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.
d. 31st August 2002, New York, U.S.A.
Lionel Hampton died on 31st August from heart failure.
Lionel was one of the first artists to utilise the vibraphone as a jazz music instrument during the 1930's.
His career began as a drummer, playing with the Chicago Defender Newsboys' Band as a youth.
He joined Les Hite's band, which for a period accompaning Louis Armstrong.
At a recording session in 1930, a vibraphone happened to be in the studio, and Armstrong asked Hampton (who had practiced on one previously) if he could play a little bit behind him and on the song 'Memories of You'.
Lionel also recorded with Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, and Gene Krupa as the Benny Goodman Quartet.
In 1937, he started recording regularly as a leader for Victor.
Hampton stayed with Benny Goodman until 1940.
Throughout his career Lionel worked additionally with Illinois Jacquet, Dinah Washington, Earl Bostic, Charles Mingus, Quincy Jones, Buddy Rich, Stan Getz and many others.
In January 2001, a vibraphone he had played for 15 years, was put into the National Museum of American History.
b. Barbara Ann Sanders, 5th May 1942, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
d. 15th July 2002, South Africa.
Barbara Randolph passed away fron cancer, in South Africa, on the 15th July 2002.
Her mother was the actress Lillian Randolph.
Additionally, Barbara had the honour of joining the group the Platters after the departure of Zola Taylor.
Barbara toured briefly with Maryin Gaye replacing Tammi Terrell in the '60's.
As an artist, she recorded 'I Got A Feeling', regarded as a classic among Motown fans (and an American hit) before marrying Eddie Singleton.
Eddie's first wife had been Raynoma Gordy (Berry Gordy's second wife).
Barbara and Eddie formed a production company and retired from the limelight, although Barbara re-recorded 'I Got A Feeling' for the UK Nightmare label in 1989.
b. 22 August 1931, Lynchburg, Tennessee, U.S.A.
d. 27th July 2002, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Roscoe Shelton was based in Nashville.
Roscoe's high tenor voice, made his mark in the mid-60's with a style that reflected both gospel and country music influences.
These influences complimented his penchant for southern-style deep soul.
Shelton served a long apprenticeship singing for the Fireside Gospel Singers and, more importantly, for the famed Fairfield Four.
Roscoe then commenced recording blues for Excello in the 50's.
For John Richbourg's Sound Stage 7 operation, he released two deep-soul ballads, 'Strain On My Heart' (number 25 R & B, 1965) and 'Easy Going Fellow' (number 32 R & B, 1965).
Both of these tunes were written by New Orleans' Allen Orange.
A fine album followed, 'Soul In His Music, Music In His Soul', which featured more excellent compositions by Orange.
Shelton, however, could not sustain his career, despite later recording some outstanding songs, notably Dan Penn's 'There's A Heartbreak Sornewhere'.
Roscoe toured with Earl Gaines in later years and passed away on 27th July 2002.
Otis Leavill Cobb
b. 8th February 1937, Dewey Rose, Georgia, U.S.A.
d. 17th July 2002, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Otis Leavill died from a heart attack on the 17th July 2002.
Brought up on Chicago's west side, Leavill came to music through his family's gospel group, the Cobb Quartet.
He later formed the short-lived Floats with a childhood friend, Major Lance, and Barbara Tyson.
Leavill's first solo single was issued in 1963 and coupled 'Rise Sally Rise' with 'I Gotta Right To Cry', an early Curtis Mayfield song.
The singer's reputation was secured with a 1964 release, 'Let Her Love Me', written by Billy Butler and produced by Major.
Although he continued to record for several companies, Leavill's principal task was undertaken at OKeh where he assisted producer Carl Davis.
The partners would subsequently form the Dakar label in 1967.
Leavill recorded four singles for the company, two of which, 'I Love You' and 'Love Uprising', were written by Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites.
Otis was, also responsible for landing Sydney Joe Qualls a record deal in the mid Seventies.
Leavill later returned to a backroom role working with Davis at Brunswick, and later Chi-Sound, which folded in 1984.
b. 10th April 1928, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.
d. 11th July 2002, Queens, New York, U.S.A.
The rhythm 'n blues pioneer Rosco Gordon died on 11th July 2002 in Queens, New York.
Roscoe was found after passing away from natural causes.
He had lived in New York since moving from his Beale Street roots in the early 1960s.
A native of Memphis, Roscoe rose to fame in the early fifties with a string of hits for the Chess, RPM and Duke labels.
These included original recordings such as 'Booted' and 'No More Doggin'.
In 1960, inspired by a riff from fellow musician Jimmy McCracklin, Rosco penned 'Just a Little Bit', a tune later to become an R & B standard.
After the failure of his first marriage to Ethel Bolton, Rosco elected to settle down with Barbara Kerr in Manhattan, to raise his second family.
He purchased part ownership in a laundry business and became a father to three sons.
Barbara, however, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1982 and passed away in 1984.
Rosco, subsequently, renewed his live performance career in the New York area, while writing and recording new material at home.
Although suffering from diabetes, heart disease and a herniated disc in his lower back, Rosco delighted audiences everywhere.
He participated in several major documentaries about early rock and R & B and performed in several festivals.
In May 2002, he returned to Memphis, joining old friends B.B. King, Ike Turner and Little Milton for a performance tribute to Sam Phillips during the 2002 W.C. Handy Awards Show.
Rosco Gordon was a highly influential performer and composer.
b. Raymond Matthews Brown, 13th October 1926, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 2nd July 2002, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.
Ray Brown was one of the most accomplished bass players in the history of jazz.
Born Raymond Matthews Brown in Pittsburgh, Ray took up piano at the age of eight.
He was a competent pianist by the time he was in high school.Ray wanted to play trombone, but his parents could not afford to buy one, so he took up a spare bass in the school orchestra.
He picked up his own instrument when his teacher discovered he was using the school bass to play jazz gigs in local clubs.
In 1944, Ray relocated to New York where he quickly involved himself in the emerging bebop scene in the city.
Ray linked up with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Max Roach, and became a member of Gillespies seminal big band in 1946.
He was featured regularly with Norman Granzs Jazz at the Philharmonic touring packages from 1947, a position he maintained for 18 years.
Ray began accompanying his first wife, Ella Fitzgerald, that same year, and was a member of the Milt Jackson Quartet which would son become the Modern Jazz Quartet.
His marriage to Ella ended in 1952.
Ray began a long association with pianist Oscar Peterson in 1950, initially in a duo and then in a trio from 1952.
He remained a part of Petersons group until 1966, and added both cello and the piccolo bass to his repertoire.
Ray also worked on soundtrack music for television and films.After leaving Petersons group in 1966, he moved to Los Angeles, where he continued to both compose and perform in the film and television studios, including playing bass on all of Frank Sinatras television specials.
Ray continued to lead his own jazz groups after moving to California.
He worked with trumpeter Quincy Jones on a network television tribute to Duke Ellington, and later managed both Jones and the Modern Jazz Quartet for a time in the 1980's.
Ray's recent threesome's have featured musicians like pianists Benny Green and Geoff Keezer and drummers Greg Hutchinson and Kariem Riggins.
He was finishing an engagement at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis at the time of his death.
He had gone to his hotel room to take a nap after playing golf and died in his sleep.
Howard Richard 'Pistol' Allen
b. 12th August 1932, Memphis, Tennesse, U.S.A.
d. 30th June 2002, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan, U.S.A.
Howard Richard 'Pistol' Allen died on 30th June 2002, after a long battle with cancer.
Howard played on the Supremes' hit 'Baby Love,' Martha and the Vandellas' 'Heat Wave,' and on Marvin Gaye's 'How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).'
He was part of the band that helped make Motown famous called the Funk Brothers.
Motown founder Berry Gordy never gave the band credit on their records in order to stop other music companies taking him from the label.
Gordy hired Allen at Motown in 1962 whilst the drummer was pursuing a jazz career.
Denis Coffey used 'Pistol' on his post-Motown solo album 'Scorpio'.
Howard relocated to Flint in the mid-1950's to work at AC Delco.
He moved to Detroit in the late 1950's and received the attention of Motown drummer Benny Benjamin in the night clubs around Detroit.
Pistol joined Motown in 1962, where he became known as a musician who could play in any format.
Howard Richard 'Pistol' Allen is survived by his wife, Barbara, and 10 children.
b. Curtis Edward Amy, 11th October 1927, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
d. 5th June 2002, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Curtis Amy died on the 5th of June 2002 from pancreatic cancer. He was 72.
Curtis was married to the soul singer Merry Clayton, whom he recorded with, in 1994, on her album 'Miracles'.
He was an excellent saxophonist, an instrument he enjoyed success with from the Forties onwards.
Curtis began learning the clarinet as a child moving onto the tenor sax.
Amy also worked as a postman before joining the U.S. Army in 1947.
He studied at the Kentucky State College and received a bachelors degree in the Fifties, moving on to L.A. shortly afterwards.
In Los Angeles, Curtis worked with Dizzy Gillespie during the Fifties and Roy Ayers in the Sixties.
Amy led bands that featured Bobby Hutcherson, Victor Feldman, Jimmy Owens, Kenny Barron and Ayers in the '60's, and recorded for Pacific Jazz and Verve.
Curtis Amy's saxophone can be heard on the song 'It's Too Late' from Carole King's 'Tapestry' album.
His last solo outing was entitled 'Peace For Love' in 1994, an album that featured, his wife, Merry Clayton on vocals.
Little Johnny Taylor
b. Johnny Lamont Merrett, 11th February 1943, Gregory, Arkansas, U.S.A.
d. Friday 17th May, Conway, Arkansas, U.S.A.
News broke on Tuesday, 21st May, 2002 that the artist Little Johnny Taylor had passed away four days earlier
Johnny died on the 17th of May 2002 at the Conway Regional Medical Center.
Born on the 11th of February 1943, in Gregory, Arkansas, he was a son of the late Gene and Pearl Merrett.
Johnny was a member of Christ Temple Holiness Church in Conway and was a professional blues singer.
He reached the R & B charts during the early 1960's, an acheivement that endured into the mid-1970's.
His melody 'Part Time Love,' was influenced by his gospel roots and charted in 1963. The tune became the biggest selling blues track of that decade.
Johnny was part of a very large family, having one son, eight daughters, one brother, 20 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday 25th May 2002 at Christ Temple Holiness Church with the Elder Larry Daniels officiating.
Roland L. Chambers III
b. 9th March 1944, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 8th May 2002, Wynnewood, Montgomery County, U.S.A.
Roland L. Chambers III, a composer, arranger, producer and R & B guitarist died of heart failure on the 8th of May 2002 at Lankenau Hospital, Wynnewood, Montgomery County.
He was 58 and resided in West Philadelphia.
Roland worked with many artists including Teddy Pendergrass, the late Phyllis Hyman, and the O'Jays.
He was the lead guitarist for MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother), the studio band for Philadelphia International Records where, in 1974, reached the top of the charts with 'TSOP [The Sound of Philadelphia]'.
The record became the theme song for the music program Soul Train.
Roland began playing the guitar as a teenager.
He attended the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and formed a group with his brother Karl called The Realtos.
Karl passed away in February 2002.Roland enjoyed a longtime musical collaboration with Kenneth Gamble, co-founder of Philadelphia International Records.
In their youth, the two sang together in a group called the Romeos (the Philadelphia version) and later joined forces at the record company with co-founder Leon Huff.
Roland also toured with Motown's Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Over the next two decades, Roland arranged, composed, produced and played guitar on recordings by singers such as Dusty Springfield, Lou Rawls, the Temptations and B.B. King.
He retired in the mid-1990's after complaining of stomach problems, however he continued to play sporadic gigs with groups including the Dells when they appeared at local concert venues.
Roland was married to Betsy Francis, whom he later divorced.
In 1966, he married Sandra Person, then a singer with the Orlons. The two divorced in 1988.
Otis Blackwell a.k.a. John Davenport
b. 16th February 1932, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
d. 6th May 2002, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Otis Blackwell died on the 6th of May 2002 from a heart attack in Nashville, Tennessee where he resided, following a stroke that occurred in 1991.
He was a prolific songwriter, penning more than 1,000 tunes, some of which have become popular classics.
Otis wrote 'Great Balls Of Fire' for Jerry Lee Lewis, 'Don't Be Cruel' for Elvis Presley (number one on the pop charts for 11 weeks in 1956) and 'Fever' for the late Peggy Lee, amongst others.
He continued to write hits into the 1960's including 'Hey Little Girl,' a hit for Dee Clark in 1959, a tune which was written with Bobby Stevenson.
'Handy Man' followed, a song recorded by Jimmy Jones in 1960, Del Shannon in 1964 and James Taylor in 1977.
In the late 1970's Otis recorded an album of his own hits and began to tour.
He recorded in Nashville frequently and in 1990 moved there.
A stroke the following year left him nearly unable to move, leading to him communicating via a computer.
Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes a.k.a Lisa Nicole Lopes
b. 27th May 1971, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 26th April 2002, Honduras
Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, of the successful female trio TLC, was killed in a car crash in Honduras early on Friday 26th April 2002.
She was reported to have not been wearing a seatbelt at the time.
Lisa was in Honduras for a holiday.
She was amongst seven people in the car Thursday night and the only fatality according to reports.
Arista president L.A. Reid stated 'No words can possibly express the sorrow and sadness I feel for this most devastating loss'.
'Lisa was not only a gifted and talented musical inspiration, she was like a daughter to me. My thoughts and prayers are with Lisa's family and friends.'
The location of the car crash was not immediately determined.
TLC had recently been in the studio working on a new record.
The album was due to have been released this summer.
Lisa released her own solo outing in October 2001, entitled 'Supernova' on Arista Records, with the track, 'The Block Party', being the first single release.
Lisa Left Eye Lopes was just 30 years old.
In a recent interview, she was asked about the passing of soul singer Aaliyah.
'It was very shocking news. I was just getting off a plane, I'd just arrived in London and the person from the record company that met me said, 'Did you hear about Aaliyah?'. 'She died in plane crash'. 'It just seemed like a dream. Goodness, that has got to be one of the scariest ways to die.'
Weldon Jonathan Irvine Jnr.
b. 27th October 1943, Hampton, Virginia, U.S.A.
d. 9th April 2002, Uniondale, New York, U.S.A.
Weldon Irvine died last week. This news came in from the Associated Press.
'A man killed himself with a rifle yesterday on the front lawn of a Uniondale office complex, Nassau police said.
The apparent suicide took place at the EAB Plaza, on Hempstead Turnpike, just west of the Meadowbrook Parkway and across from Nassau Coliseum.
It happened about 3:20 p.m., while workers were inside the large office complex.
Homicide Det. Sgt. Richard Laursen said police do not know who the man is or how he got there.
He said the man was wearing a tailored button-down shirt, gray slacks and black shoes and was dark-skinned, possibly Hispanic or light-skinned African-American.
They had no age estimate for the man. He apparently carried the .22-caliber rifle used in the shooting in a black garment bag, according to police.
The body was taken to the Nassau medical examiner for an autopsy.'
The man who killed himself was Weldon Irvine.
Irvine has been an accomplished musician since 1964, a time when he was involved with a quintet that won an award at a college jazz festival.
Weldon also studied English, Drama and music theory.
He relocated to New York in 1965 and formed a 17 piece band that included Billy Cobham, Randy Brecker and Lenny White amongst others.
The group recorded seven albums and toured the globe.
In 1977 he began an involvement in musicals, namely 'Young Gifted and Broke', 'The Vampire And The Dentist', 'The Will' and 'Keep It Real', all of which contained music penned by Weldon.
Weldon penned the lyrics to 'Young, Gifted and Black', along with many other songs performed by artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Donny Hathaway.
Weldon's songs were sampled by A Tribe Called Quest and Ice Cube amonst many other rap artists.
He, also, played instruments on several rap tunes.
Weldon worked closely with Nina Simone, who performed 'Young, Gifted and Black'.
Weldon Irvine was a close friend of the artist Don Blackman.
A really sad loss.
Big John Patton
b. 12th July 1935, Kansas City, Missourri, U.S.A.
d. 19th March 2002, Montclair, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Organist and pianist, Big John Patton died on the 19th March 2002.
John worked with Lloyd Price, Lou Donaldson, Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis, Calvin Keys, the late Arthur Prysock, the late Sonny Stitt, Johnny Griffin and Grant Green amongst others.
John was born on 12th July 1935 in Kansas City, Missourri, U.S.A.
His mother introduced him to the piano and John learned the instrument by himself.
On leaving High School, he decided to make a living at his newly discovered musical skills.
One night in Washington D.C., he ran into Lloyd Price who was appearing at the Howard Theater and just happened to have been looking for a new piano player.
John's audition for Lloyd consisted of playing the introduction to 'Lawdy, Miss Clawdy' before he was given the job.
This R & B combo soon expanded as did John's responsibilities.
By 1959, John decided to leave Lloyd Price's band and move to New York to enroll in the 'University of the Street'.
A career with Blue Note Records followed.
He recorded some of the most important jazz organ recordings in their catalogue,
His style on the Hammond B-3 has been hard to reproduce due to its space and economy.
John had been to England numerous times with his wife, Thelma.
The renaissance of the Hammond organ groove has been in full swing in the U.K. for the past few years.
Huey Marvin Davis
b. 1939, Columbus, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 23rd February 2002, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Huey Davis, the guitarist for the Sixties group, The Contours, died at his home in Detroit on the 23rd February 2002.
Huey was 63 and was with the Contours since the groups early days in the Fifties.
He was the guitarist on the Contours pop and R & B smash 'Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)', that reached numbers 3 and 1 respectively.
After the bands demise, in the late Sixties, Huey worked in the construction industry and as a security guard (a career that he adopted up until his death).
Huey moved to Detroit with his father in the Fifties, after leaving Columbus in Mississippi.
He is survived by five children, several grandchildren and his brother.
In 1988, 'Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)' was featured in the movie 'Dirty Dancing', so, for a while, the Contours were back in the charts again at number 11 on the Billboard chart.
Huey Davis will be laid to rest in the Detroit Memorial Park-West, Redford Township.
b. 10th July 1965, Southend, Essex, United Kingdom
d. 1st March 2002, Shoreham, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Doreen Waddell, 36, (a former singer with Soul II Soul) of Clarendon Villas, Hove, died after being hit by three cars as she fled a shop after being caught shoplifting.
Police say Doreen Waddell was challenged by staff at a Tesco store in Shoreham, West Sussex.
She ran from the store and tried to cross the nearby A27 but was struck by three cars and died later in hospital.
Goods from the store, including children's items, were found strewn across the road.
The 36-year-old, who had a four-year-old son, sang lead vocals on Soul II Soul's 1989 Club Classics Volume I album.
Sussex Police say Waddell, who used the stage name Do'reen and was the band's main vocalist on the hit song 'Feel Free', had to be identified from fingerprints as her body was so badly injured.
The song reached number 73 in the singles chart but was number one in the dance chart in 1989.
It is understood she fled Tesco via a rear fire exit after being chased by security staff, but was not pursued over a nearby embankment and on to the busy dual carriageway.
Waddell had lived in Hove for three months but came from Southend, Essex.
In addition to her Soul II Soul vocal chores Doreen sang with The KLF, Maxine Harvey and Tammy Wynette.
Doreen was a member of Mosaic, a Brighton and Hove community group for black and mixed race people.
Karl L. Chambers
b. 9th September 1946, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
d. 24th February 2002, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
Karl Chambers was a highly talented drummer, who played for on many Philly sessions during the Sixties and Seventies.
Karl was the brother of guitarist Roland Chambers.
He grew up and was educated in Philadelphia, where he met Kenny Gamble whilst he was part of the Philadelphia Romeos.
Karl played drums for the group.
He was recruited by the Gamble & Huff organisation and was a key part of several classic slices of soul music, for the label, including sessions for MFSB, The O'Jays, The Three Degrees, Archie Bell and the Drells along with further sessions for Gladys Knight and the Pips and the Tymes (see above).
Karl played the drums on the Delfonics hit 'La La Means I Love You', 'Ain't Nothing But A Houseparty' by the Showstoppers and on the Intruders 'Cowboys To Girls'.
Karl also played in a band called Toomorrow (see above), a group fronted by a youthful Olivia Newton John in 1970.
Karl recently battled with cancer and died on the 24th of February 2002.
Rudolph Vincent Robinson Snr.
b. 21st December 1940, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
d. 18th February 2002, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Rudy Robinson was a fine music arranger and producer from Detroit.
Rudy died on the 18th of February 2002 after suffering a heart attack. He was 61 years old.
He had worked with many of the soul greats including the Temptations, Bettye LaVette, George Clinton, The Dells, The Dramatics, Detroit Spinners, The Four Tops, Isaac Hayes, Johnnie Taylor, David Ruffin, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jnr (on their hit 'You Don't Have To Be A Star') and Martha Reeves.
Rudy wad gigged locally at various casino's along with severals clubs and bars.
He also co-founded the record label D-Town Records and he owned the labels New Moon Records and Nadia Records.
During the early Sixties, Rudy joined the military who were relocated to Europe, where Rudy became the clarinetist in the army band.
Services were held in the Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Willis Lewis Draffen Jnr.
b. 18th March 1945, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
d. 8th February 2002, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Willis Draffen, founder member of the soul band Bloodstone, died on the Friday the 8th of February. He was 56.
His wife stated that Willis hadn't been feeling well for the previous two days. Willis was in the process of organising a stateside tour for the group.
Draffen had been a diabetic although the real cause of death is yet to be confirmed.
Prior to the group being titled Bloodstone, Willis toured with the band under the name of The Sincere's. The group had a name change following a request by the record label, who felt the groups name was a little dated.
Willis was instrumental in organising Bloodstone's musical affairs and had organised a concert for the band the week following his death.
The funeral service will be held on the 15th of February 2002 at the St. Stephen Baptist Church in Kansas.
Hank (Henry R.) Cosby
b.12th May 1928, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
d. 22nd January 2002, William Beaumont Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
The fact that so little has been documented, regarding the passing of Hank Cosby, is a sad testament to the indifference that the recording industry has shown to this great talent.
I could find only one article, in the Detroit News, that made any mention of this great man.
Hank died after a long illness in January. He was a fine saxophone player as well as an accomplished songwriter.
Recordings, of Hank's portfolio of work, are probably sitting on your record shelves as I write this piece.
Perhaps his best remembered melodies came with his long time associations with Stevie Wonder and Sylvia Moy.
'My Cherie Amour', 'Fingertips', 'I Was Made To Love Her' are considered pop classics along with his other artistic collaborations including the Smokey Robinson classic, 'Tears Of A Clown'.
Hank was, additionally, a member of the Joe Hunter Band and played saxophone on many tunes with artists ranging from Marvin Gaye to Mary Wells.
Hank helped Berry Gordy at the outset of Motown Records and became a pivotal figure in the future success of the company.
Stevie Wonder played 'My Cherie Amour' at Hanks funeral, attended by 300 mourners at the James H. Cole Funeral Home in Detroit....a testament to the high regard that Hank was held in by his fellow artists. A sad loss to soul music.
Hoagy Lands (Victor I. Hoagland)
b. 4th May 1936, New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.A.
d. 12th January 2002, Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Hoagy Lands was the son of a Cuban father and a mother of American Indian descent.
He formed a group at Roosevelt Junior High School that was called the TNB (The New Brunswick) Dynaflows.
Hoagy recorded 'Baby Come On Home' and also worked also with Lily Fields.
He was forced to rest when, in 1998, he underwent open heart surgery.
His grandson is the recording artist Jaheim.
b. Norma Deloris Egstrom, 26th May, 1920, Jamestown, North Dakota, U.S.A.
d. 21st January, 2002, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Peggy Lee has died of a heart attack at her home in Los Angeles aged 81.
The singer had suffered ill health during a career that earned her a Grammy and an Oscar nomination.
She was best known for songs such as 'That All There Is?' and 'Fever'.
During more than 50 years in show business, she recorded hit songs with the Benny Goodman band and starred on Broadway.
She collaborated with Sonny Burke on the songs for Disney's 'The Lady And The Tramp' and was the voice for the song 'He's A Tramp (But I Love Him)'.
Her career began during a troubled childhood and endured through four broken marriages.
In 1956, she was cast as a boozy blues singer in 'Pete Kelly's Blues' and was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar.
A diabetic, Lee was often troubled by weight and glandular problems.
In 1961 she had double pneumonia during a New York nightclub engagement.
In 1976 she had a near-fatal fall in a New York hotel and she was again seriously injured in another fall in Las Vegas in 1987.
In early 1985 she underwent four operations to open clogged arteries, and while appearing in New Orleans in October 1985, she underwent double-bypass heart surgery.
Guardian Newspaper 2002