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Joseph McEwen

(b McComb, MS, Dec 30, 1928; d Archer, FL, June 2, 2008). American rock and roll singer. He was taken to Chicago at the age of five, and soon after began violin lessons, which he continued for 12 years. He grew up with black gospel music and the delta blues players of Chicago’s southside, but he was most strongly influenced by Nat ‘King’ Cole, Louis Jordan and John Lee Hooker, whose Boogie Chillen inspired him to play guitar. He formed a street-corner band, which attracted enough attention to be granted an audition with Chess Records in 1954. In early 1955Bo Diddley Checker was released as a single and reached number 2 in the rhythm and blues chart It had bragging nonsense lyrics like many of his later songs but its chief appeal lay in its shimmering rumba rhythm and violent primitive ...

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Jeremy Rich

located just outside the large city of Manchester in Great Britain. His mother, Muriel (née Braudo), belonged to a prosperous Jewish family from Gwelo, Zimbabwe, and worked as a cabaret singer. His father, Denis, was from England originally, but the couple wed in Johannesburg, South Africa. Six months after Clegg’s birth, his parents divorced. Muriel took Clegg briefly to Israel before returning to her parents’ family farm in Zimbabwe.

Though his mother showed relatively little interest in African culture, Clegg as a boy became friendly with the Ndebele son of a chauffeur who worked for the Braudo farm. While his mother toured clubs with bands, Clegg was left in a strict boarding school. In 1960, Clegg moved to South Africa with his mother and his stepfather, reporter Dan Pienaar. The family moved to Zambia in 1965 after Pienaar obtained a position as a journalist for a newspaper there ...

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William Dejong-Lambert

rock and roll musician, was born Antoine Domino in the Crescent City, New Orleans, one of nine children. His first language was French, and he was born into a musical family. His father was a well-known violinist, and Antoine was taught to play the piano by his brother-in-law, Harrison Verret, who was twenty years his senior. His first performance took place when he was ten years old, and he dropped out of school at fourteen to work in a factory so that he could play in nightclubs. When he was nineteen years old he married Rosemary Hall, with whom he would go on to raise eight children. Among his early influences were the boogie-woogie innovator Albert Ammons and the jazz pianist Fats Waller.

Domino joined the Dave Bartholomew band in the 1940s, and in 1949 he signed to the Imperial Records label and made his first independent ...

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Langdon Winner

(b New Orleans, 26 Feb 1928; d Harvey, LA, 24 Oct 2017). American rock and roll singer, pianist, and songwriter. He studied the piano from the age of nine, and in his early teens developed a boogie-woogie technique derived from the playing styles of Kid Stormy Weather, Sullivan Rock, and Drive ’em Down (Willie Hall). His pleasant, nasal singing style was influenced by the singer and guitarist Smiley Lewis (Amos Overton Lemmon). By the time he was 21, Domino was house pianist at the Hideaway Club, where he was heard by the trumpeter and bandleader Dave Bartholomew; together they recorded The Fat Man (1950 a rhythm and blues hit that launched Domino s career Domino s soft understated singing was a perfect contrast to the powerful saxophone riffs of Bartholomew s band of black musicians whose rambling sound midway stylistically ...

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Aaron Myers

As a songwriter, pianist, and singer, Fats Domino produced songs that topped both rhythm and blues and rock and roll charts during the 1950s. He was one of the few black musicians of the 1950s to successfully span rhythm and blues (R&B) and rock and roll, appealing to young white audiences while maintaining his popularity with black audiences. His formula for success paired a driving, Boogie-woogie style of piano playing with a rich, Creole-accented singing voice.

Born Antoine Domino Jr., he was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, where French Creole was his first language. He learned to play the piano by the age of nine and performed locally as a teenager. Domino's musical career took off in the late 1940s after he teamed up with Dave Bartholomew, who had played trumpet for Duke Ellington and his band About this time Domino acquired the nickname Fats After ...

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John Piccarella

(b Seattle, Nov 27, 1942; d London, England, Sept 18, 1970). American rock guitarist, singer and songwriter. He taught himself the guitar while growing up in Seattle. As he was left-handed he learnt to play the instrument upside down and continued to do so throughout his life; his unorthodox technique included the use of the right thumb to form unusual fingering patterns for some chords. From 1958 to 1960 he played in a high-school band, the Rocking Kings, and was strongly influenced by the electric guitar solos of Charlie Christian. He joined the US Army paratroopers and, while stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, visited Nashville, where he listened to country-blues performers. On his discharge (1961), he went to Nashville and joined the band, the Imperials, then moved to Vancouver (1962) and joined Billy Taylor and the Vancouvers.

In 1963 ...

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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 ...

Article

Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington. He taught himself to play guitar by listening to recordings of Muddy Waters, Riley B. (“B. B.”) King, and Charles Edward Anderson (“Chuck”) Berry. After serving as a paratrooper in the army, he began his music career. Under the name Jimmy James, he played as a backup guitarist for many top rock-and-roll and Rhythm and Blues artists, including Little Richard, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, Wilson Pickett, Ike and Tina Turner, and the Isley Brothers. From 1962 to 1964, Hendrix began to captivate audiences with guitar tricks such as playing with his teeth, behind his back, and between his legs.

Aspiring to move out of the background, Hendrix formed a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames in 1965 and played coffeehouses in New York s Greenwich Village where he was influenced ...

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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 ...

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Mathew J. Bartkowiak

musician and member of the band Love, was born Arthur Porter Taylor in Memphis, Tennessee, to Agnes Porter, a teacher, and Chester Taylor, a musician. Lee took on the surname of his mother's second husband, Clinton Lee. At the age of five, Lee moved with his parents to Los Angeles. His mother was a schoolteacher, and she taught her child the fundamentals of language. However, Lee found his greatest mode of expression through music.

Lee left school to focus on a musical career. He formed several local outfits, including the LAGs, which then morphed into a group called the American Four, both of which focused mainly on performing R&B cover songs. At the time, Lee also wrote and produced music, including the song “My Diary” for Rosa Lee Brooks, which featured a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar. In 1965 Lee met another Los Angeles ...

Article

David Brackett

(b Macon, GA, Dec 5, 1932). American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter and pianist. His early influences were gospel music, Louis Jordan and other jump blues and urban blues artists of the late 1940s. After making several unsuccessful recordings in the early 1950s, he recorded Tutti Frutti in September 1955, which was a success in both the rhythm and blues and the pop charts. Although part of the first wave of rock and roll hits, it was far more aggressive and retained more aspects of African-American vernacular music-making than other early recordings in this style.

Tutti Frutti set the tone for the Little Richard's hits that followed between 1956 and 1958 over a fast boogie shuffle rhythm with many stop time breaks he sings playful double entendres near the top of his range in a searing timbre interspersed with trademark falsetto whoops His ...

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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 ...

Article

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 ...

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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 ...

Article

rhythm and blues and rock musician, was born in Houston, Texas. As a youngster he relocated to Los Angeles, California, in 1949, when his mother, Robbie Preston Williams, assumed the position of organist for the Victory Baptist Church. His family included one sister, Gwen Gooden, and two half sisters, Lettie Preston and Rodena Williams. Information about his father is unavailable. Preston attended Athens Elementary School, John Muir Junior High School, and Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. His earliest musical efforts were at preschool age, sitting on his mother's lap playing the organ, and by age ten he was playing organ for Mahalia Jackson. He played a young W. C. Handy in the 1958 film St. Louis Blues. In the early 1960s Preston played organ for the famed tent revivalist A. A. Allen but he soon moved into secular music meeting and ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

musician, singer, and songwriter, was born Darius Rucker in Charleston, South Carolina, one of three sons and three daughters of Carolyn Rucker, a nurse. He was raised by his mother and grandmother; his father belonged to a gospel band named The Rolling Stones and was absent with the exception of Sunday morning visits before church. Rucker lived, at times, in a three bedroom house with his mother, grandmother, two aunts and fourteen children. As a young boy he was exposed to the music of Al Green, Otis Redding, and Gladys Knight played by his mother around the house Rucker was fond of singing the tunes his mother played in addition to other genres of music he heard on the radio and at school he had early aspirations of becoming a singer and would mimic playing a guitar with the household broomstick Upon graduating ...

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Diane Pecknold

songwriter, singer, and producer, was born in the Bronx, New York. Her father was a subway conductor and amateur pianist, and her mother was a clerk for the city government. Simpson's brothers Ray and Jimmy were also active in the music industry, the former as a singer, most famously with the Village People, and the latter as a producer and mix artist.

Simpson's early musical development was guided by her activities in the church. She began singing as a child in the choir of the Footsteps of Christ Spiritual Church, where her grandmother was a minister, and studied piano from the age of seven. While still a student at Morris High School, she began singing and playing piano for the choir at Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church, and it was there, in 1964, that she met Nickolas Ashford an aspiring dancer from Michigan who had ...

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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 ...

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singer of blues, pop, R&B, and rock n' roll, was born in Jackson, Tennessee, to Frank and Alice Smith. Smith began her musical training as a child, singing gospel at church. Even at a tender age she was clearly possessed of a notable talent, as evidenced by her first-place win at a talent contest in Memphis at the age of eight and her discovery, at age twelve, by band leader Dave Clark. Clark's tutelage prepared Smith for a touring spot with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm swing band, America's first integrated, all-female music group. Smith later performed boogie woogie with pianist Christine Chatman's orchestra, with whom she made her first recording on the Decca label in 1944.

With a rich barreling thoroughbred s voice Smith s was a vocal instrument made for the blues Yet she came of age at a time when the era of ...

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Azeddine Chergui and Hassan Bourara

Algerian singer, was born in Oran, Algeria, on 18 September 1958 during the peak of the war for independence. In 1968 he moved with his family to France, where he experienced racism firsthand, especially in school. In 1979, Rachid Taha left the family home, tried a number of odd jobs—dishwasher, cook, factory worker, and DJ at a small club—but ended up back in his family who had by then relocated to the suburb of Lyon. In 1981, as the first generation of Maghrebean immigrant children born in France began to speak out against exclusion and racist violence, he found employment in a factory where he met Mohammed and Mokhtar. The three formed a band with the highly topical name Carte de Séjour (Residence Permit).

Taha set a goal of blending Arabic rock and Algerian Rai as a music form to address social issues of interest to immigrant ...