Six years ago today, the music world lost one of the founding members of Pink Floyd: Rick Wright, best known for his vocal contributions and his work on keyboards…and by “keyboards,” of course, we mean piano, Farfisa and Hammond organ, Mellotron, Minimoog, and various and sundry other synthesizers. In other words, if it’s a Pink Floyd song featuring an instrument involving keys of any sort, then you’ll find that it was Mr. Wright doing the playing far, far more often than not.
Born in 1943 in Middlesex, England, Richard William Wright started his music career in self-taught fashion, figuring out for himself how to play guitar, trumpet and piano before he was even into his teens. Wright soon got professional help by taking private lessons at the Eric Gilder School of Music, but it was at a different educational institution altogether – Regent Street Polytechnic, to be precise – where he first crossed paths with his future bandmates Roger Waters and Nick Mason. In the end, Wright didn’t last long at the school, instead opting to attend the London College of Music, but within a couple of years, he was part of Pink Floyd, which likely proved more to be a far more financially lucrative career than architecture ever would have.
This week’s Mono Mondays release comes from the catalog of a top-notch vibraphonist, back when your average musician knew right off the top of his or her head exactly what a vibraphonist was. Kids, if you’re not in the know, you can see a vibraphone by clicking here…and once you’re done taking a gander, be sure to come back here and continue your education by learning a bit about Milt Jackson and his 1957 album, Plenty, Plenty Soul.
The story of Milt Jackson – known to his friends and fans as “Bags” – goes a little something like this: he was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie, who hired him for his sextet in 1946, soon found himself working with the likes of Woody Herman, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker, and within half a decade, he, pianist John Lewis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Kenny Clarke had founded the group that would come to call itself the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Today’s the day when all good drummers – and the bad ones, too – should go into the human resources department of their place of employment and demand to know why they should have to work on a holiday.
Yes, that’s right: it’s Neal Peart’s birthday.
Born in 1952 in Hamilton, Ontario, Neil Ellwood Peart had developed an appreciation for music by the time he’d entered his teens, but his initial instrument of choice was the piano. Well, maybe it wasn’t actually his instrument of choice, but he took piano lessons, anyway, and he came away less than enthused. When he turned 13, however, his parents bought him a practice drum, a set of drumsticks, and paid for lessons, vowing that if he carried on with his training for a year, they’d buy him a proper kit. (Guess what he got for his 14th birthday?)
Word reached us last night of the death of a man whose work we’ve talked about quite a lot here on Rhino.com, not just this year – although lord knows that’s true, thanks to all of the releases tied to the Jersey Boys movie – but for many, many years now: Bob Crewe, whose tremendous contributions to the Four Seasons’ career as a writer and a producer cannot be understated…and that’s only just one of the artists who benefited from his creativity.
Born in Newark, New Jersey on November 12, 1930, Stanley Robert Crewe may have started out with grand designs toward becoming an architect, he’d solidly established his career in the music industry by the mid-1950s, beginning a collaboration with Frank Slay, Jr. which resulted in the hit singles “Silhouettes,” among many other successes. Crewe also attempted to forge a career as a solo artist, succeeding to a certain extent thanks to a cover of “The Whiffenpoof Song,” but after teaming up with Bob Gaudio, late of the Royal Teens (“Short Shorts”), Crewe soon had his hands full with the Four Seasons.
Peter Frampton was not the only unheralded rock star to break through with a live album in 1976. But unlike "Frampton Comes Alive," Bob Marley and the Wailers' live LP was a single disc and it had little initial impact, it was not the end of the band's career, but only the beginning.
You've got to understand, Chris Blackwell did an incredible job of beating the reggae drum, in the press that is. Not an outlet extant did not do a story on "Catch A Fire."
But it didn't.
Nor did its two follow-ups, "Burnin'" and "Natty Dread." It seemed as if the gravy train of stardom was passing Bob Marley by.
Johnny Nash had the biggest reggae hit, with the indelible and incredible "I Can See Clearly Now."
And Marley was nowhere to be seen on authentic reggae's breakout film, "The Harder They Come." That was Jimmy Cliff's moment, not only on screen but on wax. Even Toots and the Maytals were bigger than Marley.
But then Eric Clapton cut his execrable cover of "I Shot The Sheriff." If you were familiar with the original, you cringed when you heard Clapton's comeback hit. It was white reggae at its worst. But the public ate it up. Proving once again that authentic reggae had no place in the mainstream, not in the USA.
A few weeks back, you LP lovers out there were given the thrill of being able to listen to The Specials’ sophomore effort, More Specials,on 180-gram vinyl, but just in case those of you who prefer CDs have been feeling left out, you’re in luck: this week, just for you, we’ve released The Best of The Specials…and just in case you’re concerned, yes, that does include The Special AKA, too.
If you’re a longtime Specials fan, however, you may be wondering how this CD differs in content from the 2008 release of the same name that also included a DVD. The answer is that it’s the exact same album, except that there’s no DVD this time around. This is good news for those of you who cared enough to buy early, of course, because it means that you can laugh smugly and say, “Ha-ha, I got the DVD and you didn’t,” but if you don’t know the Specials well enough to be upset by the loss of the DVD and are really just looking for a nice sampling of their work in order to find out more about this punk/ska band that all of your cool friends have been talking about for so many years, then, hey, you win, too!