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Terence J. O'Grady

rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter, was born into a working-class family in Seattle, Washington, the son of James Allen Ross Hendrix, a gardener, and Lucille Jetter. Named Johnny Allen Hendrix at birth by his mother while his father was in the service, his name was changed to James Marshall Hendrix by his father upon his return home. Self-taught as a left-handed guitarist from an early age, Hendrix played a right-handed guitar upside down, a practice he maintained throughout his life since it allowed for unusual fingering patterns and quicker access to tone and volume controls. His early influences ranged from the jazz guitarist Charlie Christian to blues guitarists and honking rhythm and blues saxophone soloists He attended elementary school in Vancouver British Columbia and Seattle and went to Garfield High School in Seattle In his senior year he left high school to become a ...


Emmett P. Tracy

songwriter, musician, and guitarist. Born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, Washington, to James “Al” Hendrix and Lucille Jeter, Hendrix played as a sideman for several rock-and-roll bands throughout the 1960s before emerging as the most recognizable guitarist of the twentieth century.

Hendrix's early life was troubled. Al Hendrix, a private in the U.S. Army during World War II, was serving when his son was born; when Al returned from the war, he renamed his son James Marshall Hendrix. Between 1942 and 1953 Al Hendrix and Lucille Jeter had five children: four of them were sent to foster care for different amounts of time, and three were born with severe developmental disabilities. Al struggled to find work and battled an addiction to alcohol. Lucille, equally addicted to alcohol, died on 1 February 1958 from splenic rupture and hemorrhage Of all the Hendrix children only the ...


He was born Richard Penniman in Macon, Georgia, one of twelve children in a family divided by the religious concerns of some (many were Seventh-day Adventist preachers), and the more secular interests of others (his father was a bootlegger). Little Richard was kicked out of the house at age thirteen for reasons that remain unclear, but probably relate to his precocious and adventurous sexuality. He was taken in by a white family who owned the Tick Tock Club in Macon, where Little Richard began his musical career.

After several years of playing throughout the South and recording in Atlanta, Georgia, and Houston, Texas, Little Richard sent a demonstration tape in 1955 to Specialty Records, a Rhythm and Blues label based in Los Angeles California Specialty found the tapes promising and arranged a recording session in New Orleans Louisiana This turned out to be one of the germinal sessions of ...


Eric Weisbard

pioneering rock and roll singer, songwriter, and pianist, was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia, the third of twelve children born to Charles “Bud” Penniman, a brick mason, and Leva Mae (maiden name unknown). His was a family of Seventh-Day Adventist preachers and bootleggers—not the last time that sin and salvation would mix in this performer's life story. As a child, Penniman suffered abuse from his peers because his right leg was shorter than his left. “The kids didn't realize I was crippled,” he told his biographer. “They thought I was trying to twist and walk feminine. The kids would call me faggot, sissy, freak” (Rolling Stone, 19 July–2 Aug. 1984).

Although he learned to play piano and grew up singing in church with his family as the Penniman Singers and Tiny Tots Quartet Penniman was kicked out of the house at ...


Regina N. Barnett

rap music emcee pioneer, was born Darryl Matthew Lovelace to Berncenia Lovelace in Harlem, New York. He was adopted at three months old by Byford McDaniels, a station agent at the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Bannah McDaniels, a nurse, who were already parents of one son, Alford. In 1970, at five years old, McDaniels and his family moved to the Hollis section of Queens, New York. For several years, he lived a fairly sheltered, comfortable life, attending Catholic St. Pascal Baylon Elementary School and spending his leisurely time hanging out with friends, playing basketball, and drinking.

In 1978 fourteen-year-old McDaniels became fascinated with hip-hop, after he and his brother Alford listened to a Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five mix tape Influenced by what he had heard McDaniels attempted to scratch a record with his mother s turntable Noticing his brother s talent Alford ...


Jaime McLean

In the first decades of rock and roll, a cadre of remarkable songwriters created songs for the greatest voices in the industry. Among these talented artists was Valerie Simpson, who teamed up with Nickolas Ashford to become one of the most successful composers and performers of her generation.

Born in the Bronx Simpson met her best friend songwriting partner and future husband Nickolas Ashford at the White Rock Baptist Church in Harlem New York At the time Simpson was seventeen years old still in high school and spending her spare time singing and playing piano for the church s renowned choir the Followers She became fast friends with Ashford who had come to New York to pursue a career in dance Before long the pair began writing pop songs together Simpson composed the music and Ashford wrote the lyrics It was not long before the duo began selling their songs ...