Category: News

Frankie Knuckles dead at 59

The man who almost single-handely launched the House Sound of Chicago, the basis for all the modern dance music has died at the age of 59. He was one of the most important figures in modern music.

Frankie was born in the Bronx in January 1955, and became a disco DJ in the early 1970s, spinning with childhood friend and garage pioneer Larry Levan at the Continental Baths. In 1977, the Warehouse nightclub opened in Chicago, and Knuckles moved to the city to become its premier DJ. As legend has it, the music Knuckles would spin at The Warehouse became extremely popular among his regular clubgoers, who would then go to record stores to request “house” music—music spun at The Warehouse.

What Knuckles would spin evolved into its own genre, as producers used drum machines to produce less expensive version of popular dance styles. Knuckles would also begin to do his own edits, remaking disco tracks to make them work better for his dance floor.

In addition to remixing artists such as Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, and Diana Ross, Knuckles released a series of original productions, including a 1987’s Your Love and 1991’s The Whistle Song.

In 2005, he was inducted into the House Music Hall of Fame.

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Death of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, the American folk singer, songwriter and social activist who did battle with injustice in America armed with a banjo, a guitar and the transformative power of song, has died. He was 94.

A veteran of the labour, peace and civil rights movements, Seeger remained relevant as an activist into his 90s. He was equally musician and revolutionary, playing a major role in the folk music revival that began in the late 1950s while helping to craft the soundtrack of 1960s protests through such songs as We Shall Overcome, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Turn! Turn! Turn!

“At some point, Pete Seeger decided he’d be a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history,” Bruce Springsteen said at the all-star Madison Square Garden concert marking Seeger’s 90th birthday in 2009. “He’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament to the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards a more humane and justified ends,” said Springsteen, who had performed Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land with Seeger at the Lincoln Memorial concert marking President Obama’s 2008 inauguration.

He was gifted at connecting with audiences, Seeger called his ability to inspire regular folks to sing along his “cultural guerrilla tactic.” “There’s no such thing as a wrong note as long as you’re singing it,” he told the 15,000-strong crowd at his birthday celebration.

Seeger’s life of music and political activism could be summed up in The Hammer Song, the enduring anthem he wrote more than 60 years ago with his good friend Lee Hays to support the progressive political movement in the U.S. The song is best remembered by Trini Lopez. Pete liked Trini’s version adding, “I’d really rather put songs on people’s lips than in their ears.”

Seeger inspired a generation of folk singers and musicians that included the Kingston Trio and Joan Baez, who once said: “We all owe our careers to Pete Seeger.”

This is worth seeing.

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Phil Everly has died

Legendary pop singer Phil Everly, who together with his brother, Don, formed one of the 1950s & 60s most popular pop duos has died. He was 74.

“We are absolutely heartbroken,” Patti Everly, Phil’s wife said, adding that Everly’s death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was brought on after a lifetime of cigarette smoking. “He fought long and hard.”

The Everly Brothers, who began singing country music in 1945 on their family’s radio show in Shenandoah, Iowa, got their career breakthrough came when they moved to Nashville in the mid-1950s and signed a recording contract with New York-based Cadence Records. They charted 29 hits in the UK and nearly three dozen in the States. Some of their most notable songs – Cathy’s Clown, Wake Up Little Susie, Bye Bye Love, When Will I Be Loved and All I Have to Do is Dream – have become pop staples and influenced major acts such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Byrds.

They were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the same year they had a hit pop-country record, “Born Yesterday.”

The two broke up amid quarrelling in 1973 after 16 years of hits, then reunited in 1983, ‘sealing it with a hug,’ Phil Everly said. Although their number of hit records declined in the late 1980s, they made successful concert tours in this country and Europe. Their breakup came dramatically during a concert at Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Phil Everly threw his guitar down and walked off, prompting Don Everly to tell the crowd, “The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago.”

During their breakup, they pursued solo singing careers with little fanfare. Phil also appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way but Loose. Don made a couple of records with friends in Nashville, performed in local nightclubs and played guitar and sang background vocals on recording sessions.

Don Everly said in a 1986 Associated Press interview that the two were successful because “we never followed trends. We did what we liked and followed our instincts. Rock `n’ roll did survive, and we were right about that. Country did survive, and we were right about that. You can mix the two but people said we couldn’t.”

In 1988, the brothers began hosting an annual homecoming benefit concert in Central City, Kentucky to raise money for the area.

Phil Everly last performed in public in 2011, but his son Jason siad on Friday he had been actively writing songs, living part of the year in Burbank and the rest in Nashville. He said his father had been in the hospital for about two weeks when he passed away.

“He sang like an angel,” his son said. “It was pretty surprising how he could still get those notes. We would still talk about it and sing together.”

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Dave Higgs has died

Dave Higgs was the guitarist with the pub rock band Eddie and Hot Rods and wrote their first top 40 hit Teenage Depression.

Eddie and the Hot Rods burst on to the scene from Canvey Island in 1975 following in the footsteps of local pub rock heroes Dr Feelgood. It was this back to basics approach that forged the band. Following various early members dropping out of the band they numbered ex-boxer and vocalist Barry Masters, harp specialist Lew Lewis, guitarist and former Fix member and Dr Feelgood roadie, Dave Higgs, 15 year old schoolboy bass player Paul Gray and drummer Steve Nicol.

They followed Teenage Depression with the number 44 hit I might Be Lying in 1977 and the number 36 hit Quit This town the following year. They split in 1981, but re-grouped in 1992 for a European tour although Higgs left soon after the tour. Higgs died last weekend.

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