With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“Thanks for the joy that you’ve given me I want you to know I believe in your song” December 7, 2011


Dobie Gray has drifted away aged just 71, just slightly older than my own father when he passed away. Dobie had a great voice and in my opinion should have been far more succesful. Even if you’re not familiar with the music of Dobie Gray I am sure there are a couple of his songs that you will have heard. Those are “The In-Crowd” from 1965 (US number 13 and UK number 25) and “Drift Away” from 1973. “Drift Away” reached number 5 in the US charts and sold more than a million copies. Sadly it never charted in the UK, which frankly is a travesty!

The song was written by Mentor Williams and has been covered by many artists, but for me Dobie’s version reigns supreme by a long way. Artists such as Rod Stewart, Ray Charles and the Heptones have all recorded the song. There is also believed to be a cover by the Rolling Stones recorded in 1973 which as yet remains unreleased. For me it is such an uplifting song, I challenge you to listen to it and try to resist the urge to smile and sing along. I am definitely unable to resist that! Uncle Kracker covered the song in 2003 and incorporated one verse by Dobie himself. This version was number one in the US Adult Contemporary chart, but again failed to chart in the UK.

“The In-Crowd” has also been the subject of many cover versions from Mike Flowers and Ramsey Lewis to Bryan Ferry. Personally I think Ferry’s version is an excellent much more rock interpretation of the tune. Dobie’s 1966 recording “Out On The Floor” is seen as a classic Northern Soul track in the UK and reached number 42 in the British charts in 1975. This would have been driven by the amount of airplay it got at such iconic clubs as the Wigan Casino. Dobie was also one of the first artists to play to a non-segregated audience in what was then still an apartheid South Africa. I’m pretty sure that my singles collection used to include an imported copy of Dobie’s “Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em and Forget ‘Em” from 1976. That song scraped into the Billboard top 100 in the US and failed to chart in the UK.

My thoughts go out to Dobie’s family, friends and fans. Dobie Gray RIP.

 

“How do you like it, how do you like it” November 29, 2011


Are music related deaths like buses? There isn’t one for ages and then loads arrive at once? That’s what the last few days seem like anyway; The first one I heard about was the sad death of Andrea True who had a massive 70s disco hit in the 70s with “More More More” under the not so imaginative name Andrea True Connection. Her real name was Andrea Truden and she changed it to True when she began to appear in porn films before her singing career, including ‘Deep Throat 2’. This was apparently so that her parents wouldn’t find out that she was in the porn industry. Sadly her singing career was not a long one, however she did spend time working in a number of jobs after throat surgery cut short club singing. These jobs included being a drug and alcohol counsellor. “More More More” was prominently sampled by Len on their 1999 hit “Steal My Sunshine” and was later covered by former S Clubber Rachel Stevens in 2004.

Barry Llewellyn off of the iconic and influential reggae band the Heptones has died in Jamaica aged 64. The band recorded a number of songs with the infamous Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. They are probably best known for their song in praise of the larger woman; “Fattie Fattie” This is also one of my favourite reggae songs and I used to own the 7 inch vinyl version of the song many years ago.

Perhaps he wasn’t a musician or singer but I couldn’t let the great film producer Ken Russell’s passing go without a mention here. He was responsible for what in my opinion is one of the best rock related movies ever made. He created a magnificent and somewhat weird adaptation of the Who’s ‘Tommy’ for the silver screen in 1975. He also made a movie of the life of Liszt starring Roger Daltrey as Franz Liszt and titled ‘Lisztomania’ which was also released in 1975. The soundtrack was provided by Rick Wakeman. In my view these two movies were the pinnacle of Daltrey’s acting career. Russell even tried his hand at the music video format when he directed the video to Elton John’s 1985 hit “Nikita”.

Don DeVito the producer of two of my favourite Bob Dylan albums, ‘Desire’ and ‘Blood On The Tracks’ has also passed away aged 72. He finally lost a 16 year-long battle with prostate cancer. He remained at Columbia records throughout his career where he worked with such luminaries as Aerosmith, Billy Joel and the Boss himself; Mr Springsteen.

Former singer with bands such as the Joe Loss Orchestra Ross McManus has also sadly left us. He was a very good singer in his own right but many people of my generation probably know him better as the father of the former Declan McManus; Elvis Costello. He died on 24th November aged 84 less than two weeks after the death of his second wife Sara. He played trumpet on a few of his son’s recordings. He once recorded a cover of the Beatles “Long And Winding Road” in 1970 under the name Day Costello, which is where young Declan chose his new surname from. He also wrote and recorded the song that accompanied the R White’s Lemonade advertising campaign in the 70s entitled “I’m A Secret Lemonade Drinker” on which backing vocals were provided by the then teenaged Declan.

My thoughts go to the family, friends and fans of Andrea, Barry, Ken, Don and Ross. RIP all of you.

Coincidentally today also marks the 10th anniversary of the death of George Harrison aged just 58. I find it hard to believe that it was so long ago, but it was just a couple of months after my Dad in September 2001. There are a number of events in Liverpool to commemorate the anniversary. In 9 days on December 8th it will also be the 31st anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. Clearly this period of the year hasn’t been great for other rock deaths either; 24th November was the 20th anniversary of the passing of Freddie Mercury and 22nd November saw 14 years since the death of Michael Hutchence off of INXS.

 

 
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