Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gone To Glory

It's hard to imagine a more pivotal figure in the history of American music than Joe Bihari. His courageous road trips with Ike Turner in the deep South in the early fifties changed the World. He and his brothers were the first to cut B.B. King and Etta James and, from their base out in Los Angeles, they left their mark on the history of R&B and Rock & Roll for decades.

I Want You

This great B Side we have here (the flip of 1956 top 5 R&B hit, Stranded In The Jungle) demonstrates, I think, the quality of the music they produced. The Cadets (who the Biharis also cut as The Jacks), came up out of the same West Coast Doo-Wop scene as The Robins... the group Lieber & Stoller reinvented as The Coasters - as a matter of fact, the lead singer on here, Will 'Dub' Jones, would go on to join The Coasters himself and become one of the most recognizable voices in early Rock & Roll.

Despite repeated efforts to influence the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to induct Joe Bihari while he was still alive, it didn't happen. Joe died on November 28th. The list of 'inductees' was released on December 17th... Joe wasn't on it.

Cleotha 'Cleedi' Staples who, as a founding member of The Staple Singers, lent her beautiful voice to the soundtrack of our lives for years, passed on February 28th. "We will keep on," her sister Mavis said, "and I will continue singing to keep our legacy alive."

It's Too Late

Here's Cleotha paired up with Eddie Floyd for an ambitious 1969 double Stax LP, Boy Meets Girl - released as part of Al Bell's quest to restructure the company. Cleedi's stunning vocals on here highlight what a great talent she was.
May God rest her Soul.

Shelbra Bennett, second from right in the photo above, was a founding member of The Soul Children. She would sing the lead on their biggest hit, I'll Be The Other Woman, which soared to #3 R&B in early 1974, and remains every bit as powerful today.

Love Makes It Right

Here's the follow-up single, with Shelbra once again handling the emotional lead vocals. Just great stuff, man. For whatever reason, this one struggled to make it into the top fifty, and she left the group 1n 1975. As Shelbra Deane, she would chart a couple of times in the late seventies, and make some disco singles for Henry Stone after that, but I think it's her towering work with The Soul Children that will live on forever. Shelbra left us on May 31st.

When I heard that Richie Havens died on April 22nd, I couldn't really take it in. I had seen him any number of times over the years (the last one being a mind-blowing performance at Jazz Fest in 2009), and I guess I kind of took him for granted... his music had lived inside of me for so long.


Mixed Bag is just such an important record. I cherished it and played it over and over in my high school days. In so many ways, it defined who I was, and who I would become. This utterly fantastic tune is ripped from my original mono copy of the LP, and I know every pop and crackle in the vinyl like an old friend... "Don't mind me 'cause I ain't nothing but a dream."

Please join this sentimental old fool in saying goodbye to these other greats who have passed on before us here in 2013:

May they Rest in Peace.


Blogger Private Beach said...

The roll call of those we've lost seems to get longer and more depressing each year. Thank you for helping to keep their memory alive.

9:53 PM  

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