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Archive for the ‘Disco’ Category

RIP, Loleatta Holloway (March 21, 2011) R&B and Disco Star

Posted by on March 21, 2011

Loleatta Holloway
November 5, 1946 – March 21, 2011

Loleatta Holloway was a beloved soul and disco singer who, over the course of a career that spanned more than 40 years, landed numerous singles on the pop, R&B and dance charts.  Her hits included such dance floor fillers as “Love Sensation” and “Hit and Run,” as well as the soulful ballad, “Cry To Me.”  But it might have been her powerful vocal parts (sampled) in Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch’s 1991 #1 smash “Good Vibrations”  that she is most often associated with.  The song would signal a comeback for Holloway and help propel Marky Mark (aka Mark Wahlberg) to an eventual world class film career.   It was Holloway’s original recording of “Love Sensation” that is predominantly featured on the record.  Holloway began her career as a Gospel singer in Chicago, at one time even singing with the great Albertina Walker.  In the ’70s she began making soul records and by the end of the decade she was delivering disco hits.  That continued until disco took a back seat to new wave and hair metal during the mid to late ’80s.  And then as hip-hop and sampling took hold in the ’90s, Holloway was back in vogue.  She continued recording and performing live well into the 2000s.  On March 21, 2011 Loleatta Holloway passed away following a brief illness.  She was 64.

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RIP, Bobby Farrell (December 30, 2010) Boney M

Posted by on December 30, 2010

Bobby Farrell
October 6, 1949 – December 30, 2010

Bobby Farrell was the Aruban frontman for German Euro-disco group, Boney M.  Formed in 1975 by music producer, Frank Farian, Boney M became a dance music phenomenon across Europe throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s, but failed to find much of an audience in the United States.  During their run, they released eight studio albums and numerous hit singles which included, “Rasputin,” “Ma Baker,” and “Rivers Of Babylon.”  It was later revealed that Farrell rarely, if at all, sang on the group’s studio records, but in fact did so during their live performances.  On December 30, 2010, Bobby Farrell, age 61, was found dead in his hotel room while on tour in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Cause of death was not immediately released, although he had apparently complained of breathing problems during the previous evening’s performance.

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Died On This Date (August 15, 2008) Jerry Wexler / Legendary Producer & Label Head

Posted by on August 15, 2010

Jerry Wexler
January 10, 1917 – August 15, 2008

In the studio with Aretha Franklin

Jerry Wexler was best known as a music producer who was responsible for some of the greatest music from the 1950s through the 1980s.  He also coined the phrase “rhythm and blues” while he was editor of Billboard magazine before he became a partner of Atlantic Records in 1953.  While at Atlantic he either produced or signed some of the all time greats of popular music.  That list includes Wilson Pickett, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers.  He retired from the music business in the late ’90s, and passed away of congestive heart failure in 2008.

Thanks to the Jeff Ballenberg at Beat Marketing for the help.

Posted in Blues, Disco, Early Rock, Easy Listening, Funk, Gospel, Pop, Producer, R&B, Record Label, Rock, Southern Rock | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Died On This Date (August 13, 1982) Joe Tex / Early R&B Hit Maker

Posted by on August 13, 2010

Joe Tex (Born Joseph Arrington)
August 8, 1933 – August 13, 1982

Joe Tex was an American soul singer and songwriter who is best remembered for his four hit singles in the ’60s and ’70s.  1965’s “Hold What You’ve Got” sold over a million copies and reached #5 on the Billboard singles chart.  His “Skinny Legs And All,” released in 1967 also sold more than a million copies, while 1972’s “I Gotcha” peaked at #2 on the pop charts.  And 1977, Tex released “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman),” his last sizable hit, which went to #12 on the charts.  He had a unique style of singing at the time, a preacher-style of talking over the songs – he called it “rap” and many music historians agree that it was one of the early foundations of rap and hip hop.  In the mid ’60s, Tex converted to the Muslim religion and changed his name to Yusuf Hazziez, and in the ’80s, he more or less retired from music and devoted his time to his religion.  Joe Tex died of after a heart attack at the age of 48.

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Died On This Date (August 10, 2008) Isaac Hayes / Soul Legend

Posted by on August 10, 2010

Isaac Hayes
August 20, 1942 – August 10, 2008

isaac-hayesIsaac Hayes was a Tennessee-born musician, singer, songwriter and producer who had a hand in some of the greatest soul songs ever produced.  Hayes began his music career as a session musician for Stax Records in Memphis where he began writing songs for the label’s roster of artists.  With songwriting partner, David Porter, Hayes co-wrote such R&B staples as “You Don’t Know Like I Know,” and “Soul Man,” which has been called one of the most influential songs of the 20th century.  By the late ’60s, Hayes started making his own albums, which included the monumental, Hot Buttered Soul, Black Moses, and most famously, the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film, Shaft!.    Then title song would become one of the most beloved songs of the era.  In later years, Hayes found a new audience as the voice of Chef in the popular animated series, South Park.  In 1998, “Chocolate Salty Balls” as performed on the show by Chef became a #1 hit in the UK.  And in 2002, Hayes was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.  Isaac Hayes died of an apparent stroke after being found by his wife lifeless on the floor next to his treadmill which was still running.  He was 65 years old.

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Died On This Date (August 7, 1984) Little Esther Phillips

Posted by on August 7, 2010

Esther Phillips
December 23, 1935 – August 7, 1984

Esther Phillips was one of the permier female R&B singers of the 1950s.  It was R&B impresario Johnny Otis,  who first recognized Phillips’ talent when, at 14, she won a talent show at his night club.  Otis produced her earliest recordings and put her in his traveling R&B show under the name of Little Esther.   Phillips recorded several hits in the early ’50s, but an addiction to drugs slowed her ascent down and eventually sidelined her in 1954.  She mounted a comeback once cleaned up in the early ’60s and began releasing hit records again.  One recording in partiular, a version of the Beatles’ “And I Love Him” prompted the Fab Four to fly her to England to perform.  The disco era was kind to Phillips as she was able to adapt her sound to appease a new generation of dancing fans.  She had some of her biggest successes during that time.   Unfortunately, she could never quite shake her addictions.  She died at the age of 48 of liver and kidney failure attributed to many years of alcohol and heroin dependency.

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Died On This Date (July 25, 1989) Steve Rubell / Co-founder of Studio 54

Posted by on July 25, 2010

Steve Rubell
December 2, 1943 – July 25, 1989

At left with Ian Schrager

At left with Ian Schrager

Steve Rubell was a New York business man who teamed up with friend Ian Schrager to open Studio 54, the Mahanttan nightclub that became the epicenter of the ’70s disco phenomenon.  The disco opened in April of 1977 and quickly became the late night destination of the rich and famous.  It would not be unusual for one to bump into the likes of Elton John, Liza Minnelli, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Warren Beatty, Cher, John Lennon or Steve Buckingham. On many nights, Rubell would stand at the front door and randomly decide who could enter based on their looks or wardrobe.   Two years after the club opened, Rubell and Schrager were charged with tax evasion and other charges and were later convicted and sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison.  After his release from prison, Rubell opened another club and a hotel, but nothing ever matched the excitement of Studio 54.  In 1985, he discovered he had AIDS which likely had a hand in his death from hepatitus on July 25, 1989.

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Died On This Date (July 6, 1979) Van McCoy / The Hustle

Posted by on July 6, 2010

Van McCoy
January 6, 1940 – July 6, 1979

Van McCoy was a musician, producer, arranger and prolific songwriter who has penned upwards of 700 songs during his career.  But, he is perhaps best remembered for just one, “The Hustle,” which was massive disco hit of 1975 and to this day, arguably defines the era.  McCoy began singing in the church choir as a child and by his early teens, he and his brother were performing as a doo wop duo.  While in college, McCoy started his own record label to release his first single, “Hey Mr. DJ.”  He was soon hired by Scepter Records as an A&R rep and songwriter.  Over the years, he penned hits for Gladys Knight & The Pips (“Giving Up”), Barbara Lewis (“Baby, I’m Yours”), the Shirelles (“Stop The Music”) and Jackie Wilson (“I Get The Sweetest Feeling”) to name just a few.  Van McCoy died of a heart attack at the age of 39.

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Died On This Date (July 4, 2003) Barry White

Posted by on July 4, 2010

Barry White (Born Barrence Carter)
September 12, 1944 – July 4, 2003

BarryA young Barry White was going down a wrong path when he heard Elvis Presley on the radio while serving four months in prison for burglary.  He was seventeen at the time, and music became his salvation.   After leaving gang life behind, White became a successful songwrither, producer, arranger and performer.  In 1969, White hit gold by producing a group called Love Unlimited Orchestra.  A string of hits followed, with their “Love’s Theme” hitting the top of the pop charts in 1974 becoming, arguably, the first disco hit ever.  White’s rich bass voice would become synonymous  with all that was sexy in the ’70s and beyond.  Hits like “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby” and “Never, Never Give You Up” followed and endeared him to fans thanks to his romantic blend of soul and orchestra.  His career slowed down somewhat during the ’80s and part of the ’90s until he was introduced to a whole new generation thanks to an animated appearance in a 1993 episode of The Simpsons.  A handful of hits followed throughout the ’90s, as did numerous placements of his songs on popular television shows, including Alley McBeal on which he appeared twice.  He was awarded two Grammys for 1999 release, Staying Power.  White was plagued with health problems in his later years due in part to high blood pressure.  He suffered a stroke in May of 2003 and passed away two months later.  He was 58.

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Died On This Date (June 20, 2006) Claydes “Charles” Smith / Kool & The Gang

Posted by on June 20, 2010

Claydes “Charles” Smith
September 6, 1948 – June 20, 2006

Charles Smith was co-founder of and guitarist for the great disco/funk group, Kool & The Gang. Along with the other members of the group, Smith’s background was in jazz, but married it with funk, dance, R&B and pop to become one of the biggest acts of the ’70s thanks to such hits as “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging,” “Ladies Night,” and “Celebration.” Smith is credited for writing or co-writing some of the group’s biggest hits. He died after a long undisclosed illness on June 20, 2006.

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