Jack Teagarden

Weldon Leo “Jack” Teagarden

(August 20, 1905 – January 15, 1964), known as “Big T” and “The Swingin’ Gate”, was a jazztrombonist, bandleader, composer, and vocalist, regarded as the “Father of Jazz Trombone”.[1] 

Born in Vernon, Texas, his brothers Charlie and Clois “Cub” and his sister Norma also became noted professional musicians. Teagarden’s father was an amateur brass band trumpeter and started young Jack on baritone horn; by age seven he had switched totrombone. He first heard jazz music played by the Louisiana Five and decided to play in the new style.

Teagarden’s trombone style was largely self-taught, and he developed many unusual alternative positions and novel special effects on the instrument. He is usually considered the most innovative jazz trombone stylist of the pre-bebop era, and did much to expand the role of the instrument beyond the old tailgate style role of the early New Orleans brass bands. Chief among his contributions to the language of jazz trombonists was his ability to interject the blues or merely a “blue feeling” into virtually any piece of music.

By 1920 Teagarden was playing professionally in San Antonio, including with the band of pianist Peck Kelley. In the mid 1920s he started traveling widely around the United States in a quick succession of different bands. In 1927, he went to New York City where he worked with several bands. By 1928 he played for the Ben Pollack band.

Within a year of the commencement of his recording career, he became a regular vocalist, first doing blues material (“Beale Street Blues“, for example), and later doing popular songs. He is often mentioned as one of the best white male jazz vocalists of the era; his singing style is quite like his trombone playing, in terms of improvisation (in the same way that Louis Armstrong sang quite like he played trumpet). His singing is best remembered for duets with Louis Armstrong and Johnny Mercer.

“Stars Fell On Alabama”

In the late 1920s he recorded with such notable bandleaders and sidemen as Louis ArmstrongBenny GoodmanBix Beiderbecke,Red NicholsJimmy McPartlandMezz MezzrowGlenn Miller, and Eddie Condon. Glenn Miller and Teagarden collaborated to provide lyrics and a verse to Spencer Williams’ Basin Street Blues, which in that amended form became one of the numbers that Teagarden played until the end of his days.

“Jeepers Creepers” With Louis Armstrong

In the early 1930s Teagarden was based in Chicago, for some time playing with the band of Wingy Manone. He played at theCentury of Progress exposition in Chicago. Teagarden sought financial security during the Great Depression and signed an exclusive contract to play for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra from 1933 through 1938. The contract with Whiteman’s band provided him with financial security but prevented him from playing an active part in the musical advances of the mid-thirties swing era.

Teagarden then started leading his own big bandGlenn Miller wrote the song “I Swung the Election” for him and his band in 1939.[2] In spite of Teagarden’s best efforts, the band was not a commercial success, and he was brought to the brink of bankruptcy.

In 1946 Teagarden joined Louis Armstrong‘s All Stars. Armstrong and Teagarden’s work together shows a wonderful rapport, in particular their duet on “Rockin’ Chair”. In late 1951 Teagarden left to again lead his own band, then co-led a band with Earl Hines, then again with a group under his own name with whom he toured Japan in 1958 and 1959.

“Peg O’ My Heart”

Teagarden appeared in the movies Birth of the Blues (1941), The Strip (1951), The Glass Wall (1953), and Jazz on a Summer’s Day(1960), the latter a documentary film of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. He was an admired recording artist, featured on RCA Victor,ColumbiaDeccaCapitol, and MGM Records discs. As a jazz artist he won the 1944 Esquire magazine Gold Award, was highly rated in the Metronome polls of 1937-42 and 1945, and was selected for the Playboy magazine All Star Band, 1957-60.

Teagarden was the featured performer at the Newport Jazz Festival of 1957. Saturday Review wrote in 1964 that he “walked with artistic dignity all his life,” and the same year Newsweek praised his “mature approach to trombone jazz.”

“I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues”

Richard M. Sudhalter writes (in ‘Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz’, Oxford University Press, 1999): “The late trumpet player Don Goldie, who spent four years in Teagarden’s band and had known him since childhood said that he ‘always got a feeling that a lot of happiness was locked away inside Jack, really padlocked, and never came out…”

“Jack Teagarden died, alone, of a heart attack complicated by bronchial pneumonia in his room at the Prince Conti Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans on January 15, 1964. He was only 58. “I sometimes think people like Jack were just go-betweens,” Bobby Hackett told a friend. “The Good Lord said, ‘Now you go and show ’em what it is’, and he did. I think everybody familiar with Jack Teagarden knows that he was something that happens just once. It won’t happen again. Not that way…”

“…Connie Jones, the New Orleans cornetist working with Jack Teagarden at the time of the trombonist’s death, was a pallbearer for the wake, held at a funeral parlor on leafy St. Charles Avenue: ‘I remember seeing him there in a coffin, a travelling coffin. They were going to fly him to Los Angeles for burial right after that. The coffin was open and I remember thinking ‘Boy he really looks uncomfortable in there’.

“‘Not that he was that tall. Maybe five foot ten or so, at most. But he was kinda wide across the shoulders – and most of all he just gave you the impression he was a big man, in every way. In that coffin, – well, I can’t really explain it, but he seemed to be scrunched up into a space that was too small to contain him'”.

He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.

The coda of Teagarden’s recording career is the album Think Well of Me, recorded in January 1962 and made up of his singing and trombone playing, accompanied by strings, on compositions by his old musical associate Willard Robison: available on Verve CD 314 557 101-2.

Jack Teagarden’s compositions included “I’ve Got ‘It'” with David Rose, “Shake Your Hips”, “Big T Jump”, “Swingin’ on the Teagarden Gate”, “Blues After Hours”, “A Jam Session at Victor”, “It’s So Good”, “Pickin’ For Patsy” with Allan Reuss, “Texas Tea Party” with Benny Goodman, “I’m Gonna Stomp Mr. Henry Lee” with Eddie Condon, “Big T Blues”, “Dirty Dog”, “Makin’ Friends” with Jimmy McPartland, “That’s a Serious Thing”, and “Jack-Armstrong Blues” with Louis Armstrong, recorded on December 7, 1944 with the V-Disc All-Stars and released as V-Disc 384A.

Sources: YouTube, IMDB.com, NMDB.com, Wikipedia

Kenny Rankin

Kenny Rankin (Los Angeles, February 10, 1940 – June 7, 2009) was an American pop and jazz singer and songwriter originally from the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, New York.

Rankin was raised in New York and was introduced to music by his mother, who sang at home and for friends. Early in his career he worked as a singer-songwriter, and developed a considerable following during the 70s with a steady flow of albums, three of which broke into the Top 100 of the Billboard Album Chart. His liking for jazz was evident from an early age, but the times were such that in order to survive his career had to take a more pop-oriented course. By the 90s, however, he was able to angle his repertoire to accommodate his own musical preferences and to please a new audience while still keeping faith with the faithful. Rankin’s warm singing style and his soft, nylon-stringed guitar sound might suggest an artist more attuned to the supper-club circuit than the jazz arena, but his work contains many touches that appeal to the jazz audience.

Rankin appeared on The Tonight Show more than twenty times. Host Johnny Carson was so impressed by him that he wrote the liner notes to Rankin’s 1967 debut album Mind Dusters, which featured the single “Peaceful.” Kenny’s friend Helen Reddy would reach #2 Adult Contemporary and #12 Pop in 1973 with a cover of it, released as her follow-up single to “I Am Woman”. Georgie Fame also had a hit with this song in 1969, his only songwriting credit to hit the British charts reaching number sixteen and spending 9 weeks on the chart.

Rankin’s accompanists from time to time included Alan Broadbent, Mike Wofford and Bill Watrous, and on such occasions the mood slips easily into a jazz groove. His compositions have been performed by artists such as Mel Tormé and Carmen McRae, while Stan Getz said of him that he was “a horn with a heartbeat”. Rankin was deeply interested in Brazilian music and his Here In My Heart, on which he used jazz guests including Michael Brecker and Ernie Watts, was recorded mostly in Rio De Janeiro. More contemporary songs were given an airing following his move to Verve Records, including the Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and Leon Russell‘s “A Song For You.”

“When Sunny Gets Blue”

“Dreamsville”

Rankin’s own unique gift for reworking classic songs such as The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” which he recorded for his Silver Morning album, so impressed Paul McCartney that he asked Rankin to perform his interpretation of the song when McCartney and John Lennon were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

“Groovin”

“On and On”

He can be heard singing the song “Miles From Here” in the first episode of the television series Fame titled “Metamorphosis”.

Rankin was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer just three weeks before he passed. He died in Los Angeles, California – where he had resided for many years – from the disease on June 7, 2009. He was 69 years old.

“Blame It On My Youth”

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, imdb.com

Leroy Anderson

Leroy Anderson (June 29, 1908 – May 18, 1975) was an American composer of short, light concert pieces, many of which were introduced by the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of Arthur FiedlerJohn Williams described him as “one of the great American masters of light orchestral music.”[1] 

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Swedish parents, Anderson was given his first piano lessons by his mother, who was a church organist. He continued studying piano at theNew England Conservatory of Music. In 1925 Anderson entered Harvard University, where he studied theory with Walter Spalding, counterpoint with Edward Ballantine, harmony with George Enescu, composition with Walter Piston and double bass with Gaston Dufresne. He also studied organ with Henry Gideon. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929 and Master of Arts in 1930.

Anderson continued studying at Harvard, working towards a PhD in German and Scandinavian languages. (Anderson spoke English and Swedish during his youth but he eventually became fluent in Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese.) During this time he was also working as organist and choir director at the East Milton Congregational Church, leading the Harvard University Band, and conducting and arranging for dance bands around Boston. His arranging work came to the attention of Arthur Fiedler in 1936 and Anderson was asked to show Fiedler any original compositions.[2] Anderson’s first work was Jazz Pizzicato in 1938.[3] Fiedler suggested that a companion piece be written and thus Anderson wrote Jazz Legato in 1938.[4]

In 1942 Leroy Anderson joined the U.S. Army, and was assigned to Iceland as a translator and interpreter. Later in 1945 he was assigned to The Pentagon as Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence. But his duties did not prevent him from composing, and in 1945 he wrote “The Syncopated Clock[5] and “Promenade.” Anderson was a reserve officer and was recalled to active duty for the Korean War. In 1951 Anderson wrote his first hit, “Blue Tango,” earning a Golden Disc and the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts.

His pieces and his recordings during the fifties conducting a studio orchestra were immense commercial successes. “Blue Tango” was the first instrumental recording ever to sell one million copies. His most famous pieces are probably “Sleigh Ride” and “The Syncopated Clock”, both of which are instantly recognizable to millions of people. In 1950, WCBS-TV in New York City selected “Syncopated Clock” as the theme song for The Late Show/ the WCBS late-night movie. Mitchell Parish added words to “Syncopated Clock”, and later wrote lyrics for other Anderson tunes, including “Sleigh Ride”, which was not written as a Christmas piece, but as a work that describes a winter event. Anderson started the work during a heat wave in August 1946. The Boston Pops’ recording of it was the first pure orchestral piece to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Music chart.[6] From 1952 to 1961, Anderson’s composition “Plink, Plank, Plunk!” was used as the theme for the CBS panel show I’ve Got A Secret.

Anderson’s musical style employs creative instrumental effects and occasionally makes use of sound-generating items such as typewriters and sandpaper. (Krzysztof Pendereckialso uses a typewriter in his orchestral music, in “Fluorescences,” but with a decidedly less humorous effect.)

“Sleigh Ride” performed by Ella Fitzgerald

“Forgotten Dreams”

Anderson wrote his Piano Concerto in C in 1953 but withdrew it, feeling that it had weak spots. In 1988 the Anderson family decided to publish the work. Erich Kunzel and theCincinnati Pops Orchestra released the first recording of this work; three other recordings have since been released. It is a conservative Romantic work in sonata form, heavily influenced by Rachmaninoff and American popular music, and somewhat resembles Copland‘s tonal works in style.

“Typewriter Song”

In 1958, Anderson composed the music for the Broadway show Goldilocks with orchestrations by Philip J. Lang. Even though it earned two Tony awards, Goldilocks did not achieve commercial success. Anderson never wrote another musical, preferring instead to continue writing orchestral miniatures. His pieces, including “The Typewriter,” “Bugler’s Holiday,” and “A Trumpeter’s Lullaby” are performed by orchestras and bands ranging from school groups to professional organizations.

“The Syncopated Clock”

“Belle of the Ball”

Anderson would occasionally appear on the Boston Pops regular concerts on PBS to conduct his own music while Fiedler would sit on the sidelines. For “The Typewriter” Fiedler would don a green eyeshade, roll up his sleeves, and mime working on an old typewriter while the orchestra played.

Anderson was initiated as an honorary member of the Gamma Omicron chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at Indiana State University in 1969.

In 1975, Anderson died of cancer in Woodbury, Connecticut[7][8] and was buried there.[9]

For his contribution to the recording industry, Leroy Anderson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1620 Vine Street. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and his music continues to be a staple of “pops” orchestra repertoire. In 1995 the Harvard University Band’s new headquarters was named the Anderson Band Center in honor of Leroy Anderson.

In 2006, one of his piano works, “Forgotten Dreams”, written in 1954, became the background for a British TV advertisement for mobile phone company ‘3’. Previously, Los Angeles station KABC-TV used the song as its sign-off theme at the end of broadcast days in the 1980s, and Mantovani‘s recording of the song had been the closing theme forWABC-TV‘s “Eyewitness News” for much of the 1970s.

The Typewriter was used as the theme song for Esto no tiene nombre, a Puerto Rican television comedy program -loosely based on the US television series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In– produced by Tommy Muñiz between the late 1960s and late 1970s.

“Sleigh Ride”  from the best -Mel Torme -who also co-composed, “The Christmas Song” with Nat King Cole.

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com, leroyanderson.com

WORKS

  • Alma Mater (1954)
    1. Chapel Bells
    2. Freshman on Main Street
    3. Library Reading Room
    4. Class Reunion
  • Arietta (1962)
  • Balladette (1962)
  • Belle of the Ball (1951)
  • Birthday Party (1970)
  • Blue Tango (1951)
  • Bugler’s Holiday (1954)
  • Cambridge Centennial March of Industry (1946) (written for organ)
  • Captains and the Kings, The (1962)
  • Chatterbox (1966)
  • Chicken Reel (1946)
  • China Doll (1951)
  • Christmas Festival, A (1950) (original version was 9:00, later shortened in 1952 to 5:45)
  • Clarinet Candy (1962)
  • Classical Jukebox (1950)
  • Concerto in C Major for Piano and Orchestra (1953) (withdrawn by the composer, and released posthumously)
  • Cowboy and His Horse, The (1966)
  • Do You Think That Love Is Here To Stay? (1935)
  • Easter Song (194-) (written for organ)
  • Fiddle-Faddle (1947)
  • First Day of Spring, The (1954)
  • Forgotten Dreams (1954)
  • Girl in Satin, The (1953)
  • Golden Years, The (1962)
  • Goldilocks (musical) (1958) (some numbers in the Suite did not appear in the original musical, and some numbers from the musical are not in this Suite)
    1. Overture (1958)
    2. Come to Me (1958)
    3. Guess Who (1958)
    4. Heart of Stone (Pyramid Dance) (1958)
    5. He’ll Never Stray (1958)
    6. Hello (1958)
    7. If I Can’t Take it With Me (1958)
    8. I Never Know When to Say When (1958)
    9. Lady in Waiting (1958)
    10. Lazy Moon (1958)
    11. Little Girls (1958)
    12. My Last Spring (1958)
    13. Save a Kiss (1958)
    14. Shall I Take My Heart and Go? (1958)
    15. Tag-a-long Kid (1958)
    16. The Pussy Foot (1958)
    17. Town House Maxixe (1958)
    18. Who’s Been Sitting in My Chair ? (1958)
  • Governor Bradford March (1948) (published posthumously)
  • Harvard Fantasy (1936)
  • Harvard Festival, A (1969)
  • Hens and Chickens (1966)
  • Home Stretch (1962)
  • Horse and Buggy (1951)
  • Irish Suite (1947 & 1949)
    1. The Irish Washerwoman (1947)
    2. The Minstrel Boy (1947)
    3. The Rakes of Mallow (1947)
    4. The Wearing of the Green (1949)
    5. The Last Rose of Summer (1947)
    6. The Girl I Left Behind Me (1949)
  • Jazz Legato (1938)
  • Jazz Pizzicato (1938)
  • Love May Come and Love May Go (1935)
  • Lullaby of the Drums (1970) (published posthumously)
  • March of the Two Left Feet (1970)
  • Melody on Two Notes (~1965)
  • Mother’s Whistler (1940) (published posthumously)
  • Music in My Heart, The (1935)
  • Old Fashioned Song, An (196-)
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm (1947)
  • Penny Whistle Song, The (1951)
  • Phantom Regiment, The (1951)
  • Piece for Rolf (1961)
  • Pirate Dance (1962) (optional SATB chorus)
  • Plink, Plank, Plunk! (1951)
  • Promenade (1945)
  • Pussy Foot Ballet Music, The (1962)
  • Sandpaper Ballet (1954)
  • Saraband (1948)
  • Scottish Suite (1954)
    1. The Bluebells of Scotland
    2. Turn Ye To Me
  • Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March (1973)
  • Serenata (1947)
  • Sleigh Ride (1948)
  • Song of Jupiter (1951)
  • Song of the Bells (1953)
  • Suite of Carols for Strings (1955) (six carols)
  • Suite of Carols for Brass (1955) (seven carols)
  • Suite of Carols for Woodwinds (1955) (six carols)
  • Summer Skies (1953)
  • Syncopated Clock, The (1945)
  • Ticonderoga March (1939) (Anderson’s only work written for concert band)
  • To a Wild Rose (1970) (arranged from the song by Edward MacDowell) (published posthumously)
  • Trumpeter’s Lullaby, A (1949)
  • Typewriter, The (1950)
  • You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man (1962)
  • Waltz Around the Scale (1970)
  • Waltzing Cat, The (1950)
  • Wedding March for Jane and Peter (1972)
  • What’s the Use of Love? (1935)
  • Whistling Kettle, The (~1965)
  • Woodbury Fanfare (1959) (for four trumpets)

Eric Clapton

Eric Patrick ClaptonCBE, (born 30 March 1945) is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time.[3] Clapton ranked fourth in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and fourth in Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.

In the mid 1960s, Clapton departed from the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. In his one-year stay with Mayall, Clapton gained the nickname “Slowhand”, and graffiti in London declared “Clapton is God.” Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton formed Cream, a power trio with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop.” For most of the 1970s, Clapton’s output bore the influence of the mellow style of J.J. Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. His version of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” helped reggae reach a mass market.[4] Two of his most popular recordings were “Layla“, recorded by Derek and the Dominos, and Robert Johnson‘s “Crossroads“, recorded by Cream. A recipient of seventeen Grammy Awards,[5] in 2004 Clapton was awarded a CBE for services to music.[6] In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.[7] 

Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, England, the son of 16-year-old Patricia Molly Clapton (b. 7 January 1929 d. March 1999) and Edward Walter Fryer (21 March 1920 – 15 May 1985), a 24-year-old soldier from MontrealQuebec.[8] Fryer shipped off to war prior to Clapton’s birth and then returned to Canada. Clapton grew up with his grandmother, Rose, and her second husband, Jack Clapp, who was stepfather to Patricia Clapton and her brother Adrian, believing they were his parents and that his mother was actually his older sister. The similarity in surnames gave rise to the erroneous belief that Clapton’s real surname is Clapp (Reginald Cecil Clapton was the name of Rose’s first husband, Eric Clapton’s maternal grandfather).[9] Years later, his mother married another Canadian soldier and moved to Germany,[10] leaving young Eric with his grandparents in Surrey.[11]

Clapton received an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his 13th birthday, but the inexpensive steel-stringed instrument was difficult to play and he briefly lost interest.[11]Two years later Clapton picked it up again and started playing consistently.[11] Clapton was influenced by the blues from an early age, and practised long hours to learn the chords of blues music by playing along to the records.[12] He preserved his practice sessions using his portable Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder, listening to them over and over until he felt he’d got it right.[12][13]

After leaving Hollyfield school Surbiton in 1961, Clapton studied at the Kingston College of Art but was dismissed at the end of the academic year because his focus remained on music rather than art. His guitar playing was so advanced that by the age of 16 people were starting to notice him.[13] Around this time Clapton began busking around Kingston,Richmond, and the West End of London.[14] In 1962, Clapton started performing as a duo with fellow blues enthusiast David Brock in the pubs around Surrey.[13] When he was 17 years old Clapton joined his first band, an early British R&B group, “The Roosters”, whose other guitarist was Tom McGuinness. He stayed with this band from January through August 1963.[15] In October of that year, Clapton did a seven-gig stint with Casey Jones & The Engineers.[15] 

1960s

The Yardbirds and the Bluesbreakers

Main articles: The Yardbirds and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

In October 1963 Clapton joined The Yardbirds, a blues-influenced rock and roll band, and stayed with them until March 1965. Synthesising influences from Chicago blues and leading blues guitarists such as Buddy GuyFreddie King, and B. B. King, Clapton forged a distinctive style and rapidly became one of the most talked-about guitarists in the British music scene.[16] The band initially played Chess/Checker/Vee-Jay blues numbers and began to attract a large cult following when they took over the Rolling Stones‘ residency at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. They toured England with American bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson II; a joint LP album, recorded in December 1963, was issued in 1965.

It was during this time period that Clapton’s Yardbirds rhythm guitarist, Chris Dreja, recalled that whenever Clapton broke a guitar string during a concert, he would stay on stage and replace it. The English audiences would wait out the delay by doing what is called a “slow handclap“. Clapton told his official biographer, Ray Coleman, that, “My nickname of ‘Slowhand’ came from Giorgio Gomelsky. He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into Slowhand as a play on words”.[17]

 

Layla

In March 1965 the Yardbirds had their first major hit, “For Your Love“, on which Clapton played guitar. The Yardbirds elected to move toward a pop-oriented sound, in part because of the success of “For Your Love”, written by pop songwriter-for-hire Graham Gouldman, who had also written hit songs for teen pop outfit Herman’s Hermits and The Hollies. Still musically devoted to the blues, Clapton was opposed to the move, and left the band. He recommended fellow guitarist Jimmy Page as his replacement, but Page was at that time unwilling to relinquish his lucrative career as a freelance studio musician, so Page in turn recommended Clapton’s successor, Jeff Beck.[16] While Beck and Page played together in the Yardbirds, the trio of Beck, Page, and Clapton were never in the group together. However, the trio did appear on the 12-date benefit tour for Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis, as well as on the album Guitar Boogie.

Clapton joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in April 1965, only to quit a few months later. In the summer of 1965 he left for Greece with a band called The Glands, which included his old friend Ben Palmer on piano. In November 1965 he rejoined John Mayall. It was during his second Bluesbreakers stint that his passionate playing established Clapton’s name as the best blues guitarist on the club circuit. Although Clapton gained world fame for his playing on the influential album, Blues Breakers – John Mayall – With Eric Clapton, this album was not released until Clapton had left the Bluesbreakers for the last time. Having swapped his Fender Telecaster and Vox AC30 amplifier for a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar and Marshall amplifier, Clapton’s sound and playing inspired a well-publicised graffito that deified him with the famous slogan “Clapton is God”. The phrase was spray-painted by an admirer on a wall in an Islington Underground station in the autumn of 1967. The graffiti was captured in a now-famous photograph, in which a dog is urinating on the wall. Clapton is reported to have been embarrassed by the slogan, saying in his The South Bank Show profile in 1987, “I never accepted that I was the greatest guitar player in the world. I always wanted to be the greatest guitar player in the world, but that’s an ideal, and I accept it as an ideal”. The phrase began to appear in other areas of Islington throughout the mid 1960s.[18] 

Layla -Original Version

Cream

Main article: Cream (band)

Clapton left the Bluesbreakers in July 1966 (to be replaced by Peter Green) and formed Cream, one of the earliest supergroups, with Jack Bruce on bass (also of Manfred Mann, the Bluesbreakers, and the Graham Bond Organisation) and Ginger Baker on drums (another member of the Graham Bond Organisation). Before the formation of Cream, Clapton was not well known in the United States; he left the Yardbirds before “For Your Love” hit the American Top Ten, and had yet to perform there.[19] During his time with Cream, Clapton began to develop as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, though Bruce took most of the lead vocals and wrote the majority of the material with lyricist Pete Brown.[16]Cream’s first gig was an unofficial performance at the Twisted Wheel Club in Manchester on 29 July 1966 before their full debut two nights later at the National Jazz and Blues Festival in Windsor. Cream established its enduring legend with the high-volume blues jamming and extended solos of their live shows.

In early 1967 Clapton’s status as Britain’s top guitarist was rivalled by the emergence of Jimi Hendrix, an acid rock-infused guitarist who used wailing feedback and effects pedalsto create new sounds for the instrument. Hendrix attended a performance of the newly-formed Cream at the Central London Polytechnic on 1 October 1966, during which Hendrix sat in on a double-timed version of “Killing Floor“. Top UK stars including Clapton, Pete Townshend, and members of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles avidly attended Hendrix’s early club performances. Hendrix’s arrival had an immediate and major effect on the next phase of Clapton’s career, although Clapton continued to be recognised in UK music polls as the premier guitarist.

Clapton first visited the United States while touring with Cream. In March 1967, Cream performed a nine-show stand at the RKO Theater in New York. They recorded Disraeli Gearsin New York from 11–15 May 1967. Cream’s repertoire varied from hard rock (“I Feel Free“) to lengthy blues-based instrumental jams (“Spoonful“). Disraeli Gears featured Clapton’s searing guitar lines, Bruce’s soaring vocals and prominent, fluid bass playing, and Baker’s powerful, polyrhythmic jazz-influenced drumming. Together, Cream’s talents secured themselves as an influential power trio.

In 28 months, Cream had become a commercial success, selling millions of records and playing throughout the U.S. and Europe. They redefined the instrumentalist’s role in rock and were one of the first blues-rock bands to emphasise musical virtuosity and lengthy jazz-style improvisation sessions. Their U.S. hit singles include “Sunshine of Your Love” (#5, 1968), “White Room” (#6, 1968) and “Crossroads” (#28, 1969) – a live version of Robert Johnson‘s “Cross Road Blues”. Though Cream was hailed as one of the greatest groups of its day, and the adulation of Clapton as a guitar hero reached new heights, the supergroup was short-lived. Drug and alcohol use escalated tension between the three members, and conflicts between Bruce and Baker eventually led to Cream’s demise. A strongly critical Rolling Stone review of a concert of the group’s second headlining U.S. tour was another significant factor in the trio’s demise, and it affected Clapton profoundly.[20]

 

“I Shot The Sheriff”

Cream’s farewell album, Goodbye, featuring live performances recorded at The Forum, Los Angeles, 19 October 1968, was released shortly after Cream disbanded; it also featured the studio single “Badge“, co-written by Clapton and George Harrison. Clapton met Harrison and became friends with him after the Beatles shared a bill with the Clapton-era Yardbirds at the London Palladium. The close friendship between Clapton and Harrison resulted in Clapton’s playing on Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the Beatles’ White Album (1968). Harrison also released his solo debut album, Wonderwall Music, in 1968. It became the first of many Harrison solo records to feature Clapton on guitar. Clapton would go largely uncredited for his contributions to Harrison’s albums due to contractual restraints. The pair would often play live together as each other’s guest. A year after Harrison’s death in 2001, Clapton helped organise a tribute concert, for which he was musical director.[21]

Cream briefly reunited in 1993 to perform at the ceremony inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; a full reunion took place in May 2005, with Clapton, Bruce, and Baker playing four sold-out concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall,[22] and three shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden that October.[23] Recordings from the London shows, Royal Albert Hall London May 2-3-5-6, 2005, were released on CD, LP, and DVD in September/December 2005.[24] 

Blind Faith and Delaney and Bonnie and Friends

Main articles: Blind Faith and Delaney and Bonnie and Friends

Clapton’s next group, Blind Faith (1969), was composed of Cream drummer Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood of Traffic, and Ric Grech of Family, and yielded one LP and one arena-circuit tour. The supergroup debuted before 100,000 fans in London’s Hyde Park on 7 June 1969. They performed several dates in Scandinavia and began a sold-out American tour in July before their only album was released. The LP Blind Faith consisted of just six songs, one of them a 15-minute jam entitled “Do What You Like”. The album’s jacket image of a topless pubescent girl was deemed controversial in the United States and was replaced by a photograph of the band. Blind Faith dissolved after less than seven months.

Clapton subsequently toured as a sideman for an act that had opened for Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. He also played two dates as a member of The Plastic Ono Band that fall, including a recorded performance at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival in September 1969 released as the album Live Peace in Toronto 1969.[25] On 15 December 1969 Clapton performed with John Lennon, George Harrison, and others as the Plastic Ono Band at a fundraiser for UNICEF in London.[25]

Delaney Bramlett encouraged Clapton in his singing and writing. During the summer of 1969, Clapton and Bramlett contributed to the Music From Free Creek “supersession” project. Clapton, appearing as “King Cool” for contractual reasons, played with Dr. John on three songs, joined by Bramlett on two tracks.

“Cocaine”

Using the Bramletts’ backing group and an all-star cast of session players (including Leon Russell and Stephen Stills), Clapton recorded his first solo album during two brief tour hiatuses, fittingly named Eric Clapton. Delaney Bramlett co-wrote six of the songs with Clapton,[26] and Bonnie Bramlett co-wrote “Let It Rain”.[27] The album yielded the unexpected U.S. #18 hit, J. J. Cale‘s “After Midnight”. Clapton went with Delaney and Bonnie from the stage to the studio with the Dominos to record George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass in spring 1970. During this busy period, Clapton also recorded with other artists including Dr. John, Leon Russell, Plastic Ono Band, Billy Preston, and Ringo Starr.

1970s

Derek and the Dominos

Main article: Derek and the DominosWith the intention to counteract the “star” cult faction that had begun to form around him, Clapton assembled a new band composed of Delaney and Bonnie’s former rhythm sectionBobby Whitlock as keyboardist and vocalist, Carl Radle as the bassist, and drummer Jim Gordon, with Clapton playing guitar. It was his intention to show that he need not fill a starring role, and functioned well as a member of an ensemble.[28] Naming the band, “Eric Clapton and Friends” at first, the name “Derek and the Dominos” was a fluke. It occurred when the band’s provisional name of “Del and the Dynamos” was misread as Derek and the Dominos.[29] Clapton’s biography states that Ashton told Clapton to call the band “Del and the Dominos”, since “Del” was his nickname for Eric Clapton. Del and Eric were combined and the final name became “Derek and the Dominos”.[30]

Clapton’s close friendship with George Harrison brought him into contact with Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, with whom he became deeply infatuated. When she spurned his advances, Clapton’s unrequited affections prompted most of the material for the Dominos’ album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). Heavily blues-influenced, the album features the twin lead guitars of Allman and Clapton, with Allman’s slide guitar as a key ingredient of the sound. Working at Criteria Studios in Miami with Atlantic Recordsproducer Tom Dowd, who had worked with Clapton on Cream’s Disraeli Gears, the band recorded a double album.

“Change The World”

The album features the hit love song “Layla“, inspired by the classical poet of Persian literatureNizami Ganjavi‘s The Story of Layla and Majnun, a copy of which Ian Dallas had given to Clapton. The book moved Clapton profoundly, as it was the tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, unavailable woman and who went crazy because he could not marry her.[31][32] The two parts of “Layla” were recorded in separate sessions: the opening guitar section was recorded first, and for the second section, laid down several months later, drummer Jim Gordon composed and played the piano part.[30]

The Layla LP was actually recorded by a five-piece version of the group, thanks to the unforeseen inclusion of guitarist Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band. A few days into the Layla sessions, Dowd—who was also producing the Allmans—invited Clapton to an Allman Brothers outdoor concert in Miami. The two guitarists met first on stage, then played all night in the studio, and became friends. Duane first added his slide guitar to “Tell the Truth” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out“. In four days, the five-piece Dominos recorded “Key to the Highway“, “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” (a blues standard popularised by Freddie King and others), and “Why Does Love Got to be So Sad”. In September, Duane briefly left the sessions for gigs with his own band, and the four-piece Dominos recorded “I Looked Away”, “Bell Bottom Blues“, and “Keep on Growing”. Duane returned to record “I am Yours”, “Anyday”, and “It’s Too Late”. On September 9, they recorded Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and the title track. The following day, the final track, “It’s Too Late”, was recorded.[33]

Eric Clapton in Barcelona, 1974

Tragedy dogged the group throughout its brief career. During the sessions, Clapton was devastated by news of the death of Jimi Hendrix; eight days previously the band had cut a cover of “Little Wing” as a tribute to Hendrix. On 17 September 1970, one day before Hendrix’s death, Clapton had purchased a left-handed Fender Stratocaster that he had planned to give to Hendrix as a birthday gift. Adding to Clapton’s woes, the Layla album received only lukewarm reviews upon release. The shaken group undertook a U.S. tour without Allman, who had returned to the Allman Brothers Band. Despite Clapton’s later admission that the tour took place amidst a veritable blizzard of drugs and alcohol, it resulted in the live double album In Concert.[34] The band had recorded several tracks for a second album in London during the spring of 1971 (five of which were released on the Eric Clapton box-set Crossroads), but the results were mediocre.

“Autumn Leaves”

A second record was in the works when a clashing of egos took place and Clapton walked, thus disbanding the group. Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident on 29 October 1971. Although Radle would remain Clapton’s bass player until the summer of 1979 (Radle died in May 1980 from the effects of alcohol and narcotics), it would be 2003 before Clapton and Whitlock appeared together again (Clapton guested on Whitlock’s appearance on the Later with Jools Holland show). Another tragic footnote to the Dominos story was the fate of drummer Jim Gordon, who was an undiagnosed schizophrenic and years later murdered his mother during a psychotic episode. Gordon was confined to 16-years-to-life imprisonment, later being moved to a mental institution, where he remains today.[16] 

Solo career

Clapton’s career successes in the 1970s were in stark contrast to his personal life, which was troubled by romantic longings and drug and alcohol addiction.[35] While suffering his (temporarily) unrequited and intense attraction to Pattie Boyd, he withdrew from recording and touring to isolation in his Surrey, England, residence. There he nursed his heroin addiction, which resulted in a career hiatus interrupted only by the Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971 (where he passed out on stage, was revived, and continued his performance).[16] In January 1973, The Who‘s Pete Townshend organised a comeback concert for Clapton at London’s Rainbow Theatre, aptly titled the “Rainbow Concert“, to help Clapton kick his addiction. Clapton would return the favour by playing ‘The Preacher’ in Ken Russell’s film version of The Who’s Tommy in 1975; his appearance in the film (performing “Eyesight to the Blind”) is notable as he is clearly wearing a fake beard in some shots, the result of deciding to shave off his real beard after the initial takes in an attempt to force the director to remove his earlier scene from the movie and leave the set.[30]

Yvonne Elliman with Clapton promoting461 Ocean Boulevard in 1975

In 1974, now partnered with Pattie (they would not actually marry until 1979) and no longer using heroin (although starting to drink heavily), Clapton put together a more low-key touring band that included Radle, Miami guitarist George Terry, keyboardist Dick Sims, drummer Jamie Oldaker, and vocalists Yvonne Elliman and Marcy Levy (also known as Marcella Detroit). With this band Clapton recorded 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974), an album with an emphasis on more compact songs and fewer guitar solos; the cover version of “I Shot The Sheriff” was Clapton’s first #1 hit and was important in bringing reggae and the music of Bob Marley to a wider audience. The 1975 album There’s One in Every Crowd continued this trend. The album’s original title, The World’s Greatest Guitar Player (There’s One In Every Crowd), was changed before pressing, as it was felt its ironic intention would be misunderstood. The band toured the world and subsequently released the 1975 live LP, E.C. Was Here.[36] Clapton continued to release albums and toured regularly. Highlights of the period include No Reason to Cry (a collaboration with Bob Dylan and The Band); Slowhand, which featured “Wonderful Tonight” (another song inspired by Boyd);[37] and a second J.J. Cale cover, “Cocaine“. In 1976 he performed, alongside a string of notable guests, to pay tribute to the farewell performance of The Band, filmed in a Martin Scorsese documentary called the Last Waltz.

“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”

1980s

In 1981 Clapton was invited by producer Martin Lewis to appear at the Amnesty International benefit The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball. Clapton accepted the invitation and teamed up with Jeff Beck to perform a series of duets—reportedly their first-ever billed stage collaboration. Three of the performances were released on the album of the show, and one of the songs was featured in the film. The performances heralded a return to form and prominence for Clapton in the new decade. Many factors had influenced Clapton’s comeback, including his “deepening commitment to Christianity”, to which he had converted prior to his heroin addiction.[38][39]

After an embarrassing fishing incident, Clapton finally called his manager and admitted he was an alcoholic. In January 1982 Roger and Clapton flew to Minneapolis – St. Paul; Clapton would be checked in at Hazelden Treatment Center, located in Center City, Minnesota. On the flight over, Clapton indulged in a large number of drinks, for fear he would never be able to drink again. Clapton is quoted as saying from his autobiography, “In the lowest moments of my life, the only reason I didn’t commit suicide was that I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink any more if I was dead. It was the only thing I thought was worth living for, and the idea that people were about to try and remove me from alcohol was so terrible that I drank and drank and drank, and they had to practically carry me into the clinic.”[40]

After being discharged, it was recommended by doctors of Hazelden that Clapton not partake in any activities that would act as triggers for his alcoholism or stress, until he was fully situated back at Hurtwood. A few months after his discharge, Clapton began working on his next album, against the Hazelden doctors’ orders. Working with Tom Dowd, Clapton produced what he thought as his “most forced” album to date, Money and Cigarettes.

In 1984 he performed on Pink Floyd member Roger Waters‘ solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, and went on tour with Waters following the release of the album. Since then Waters and Clapton have had a close relationship. In 2005 they performed together for the Tsunami Relief Fund. In 2006 they performed at the Highclere Castle, in aid of the Countryside Alliance, playing two set pieces of “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb“. Clapton, now a seasoned charity performer, played at the Live Aid concert on 13 July 1985. When offered a slot close to peak viewing hours, he was apparently flattered. As Clapton recovered from his addictions, his album output continued in the 1980s, including two produced with Phil Collins, 1985’s Behind the Sun, which produced the hits “Forever Man” and “She’s Waiting”, and 1986’s August.

Tina Turner and Eric Clapton at Wembley Stadium, 18 June 1987

August was suffused with Collins’s trademark drum and horn sound, and became Clapton’s biggest seller in the UK to date, matching his highest chart position, number 3. The album’s first track, the hit “It’s In The Way That You Use It”, was featured in the Tom Cruise –Paul Newman movie The Color of Money. The horn-peppered “Run” echoed Collins’ “Sussudio” and rest of the producer’s Genesis/solo output, while “Tearing Us Apart” (with Tina Turner) and the bitter “Miss You” echoed Clapton’s angry sound. This rebound kicked off Clapton’s two-year period of touring with Collins and their August collaborates, bassist Nathan East and keyboard player/songwriter Greg Phillinganes. While on tour for August, two concert videos were recorded of the four-man band, Eric Clapton Live from Montreuxand Eric Clapton and Friends. Clapton later remade “After Midnight” as a single and a promotional track for the Michelob beer brand, which had also marketed earlier songs by Collins and Steve Winwood. Clapton won a British Academy Television Award for his collaboration with Michael Kamen on the score for the 1985 BBC Television thriller serial Edge of Darkness. In 1989, Clapton releasedJourneyman, an album which covered a wide range of styles including blues, jazz, soul and pop. Collaborators included George Harrison, Phil Collins, Daryl HallChaka KhanMick JonesDavid Sanborn and Robert Cray.

George Harrison and Clapton playing in the Prince’s Trust Concert at Wembley Stadium in 1987

In 1984, while still married to Pattie Boyd, Clapton began a year-long relationship with Yvonne Kelly. The two had a daughter, Ruth, who was born in January 1985, but her existence was kept a secret by her parents. She was not publicly revealed as his child until 1991.[41] Boyd criticised Clapton because he had not revealed the child’s existence.[42]

Hurricane Hugo hit Montserrat in 1989, and this resulted in the closure of Sir George Martin and John Burgess’s recording studio AIR Montserrat, where Kelly was Managing Director. Kelly and Ruth moved back to England, and stories about Eric’s secret daughter began as a result of newspaper articles published at the time.[41] Clapton and Boyd divorced in 1988 following his affair with Italian model Lory Del Santo, who gave birth to their son, Conor, on 21 August 1986.[43] Boyd was never able to conceive children, despite attempts at in vitro fertilisation.[42][43] Their divorce was granted on grounds of “infidelity and unreasonable behaviour.”[42]

Clapton was known to date a host of beautiful women, including Krissy Wood (ex-wife of Ron Wood), actress Charlotte Martin, socialiteAlice Ormsby-Gore, Paula Boyd (the younger sister of his future wife Pattie), singer Janis Joplin, singer Marianne Faithfull, rock muses Catherine James, Cyrinda Fox, and Geraldine Edwards, the inspiration for Penny Lane in Almost Famous, singer Rosanne Cash, the First Lady of France and former model Carla Bruni, and actresses Patsy KensitSharon Stone, and Alicia Witt.[44]

1990s

The 1990s brought a series of 32 concerts to the Royal Albert Hall, such as the 24 Nights series of concerts that took place around January through February 1990, and February through March 1991. On 27 August 1990, fellow blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was touring with Clapton, and three members of their road crew were killed in a helicopter crash between concerts. Then, on 20 March 1991, Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor, died on impact after a fall from the 53rd-story window of his mother’s friend’s New York City apartment. He landed on the roof of an adjacent four-story building.[45] Clapton’s grief was expressed in the song “Tears in Heaven“, which was co-written by Will Jennings. At the35th Grammy Awards, Clapton received six Grammy Awards for the single “Tears in Heaven” and his Unplugged album.[46] The album reached number one on the Billboard 200, and has since been certified Diamond by the RIAA for selling over 10 million copies in the United States.[47]

In October 1992 Clapton was among the dozens of artists performing at Bob Dylan‘s 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. Recorded at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the live two-disk CD/DVD captured a show full of celebrities performing classic Dylan songs, before ending with a few performances from Dylan himself. Despite the presence of 10 other guitarists on stage, including George Harrison, Neil YoungRoger McGuinnSteve CropperTom Petty, and Dylan, Clapton played the lead on a nearly 7-minute version of Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” as part of the finale.

While Unplugged featured Clapton playing acoustic guitar, his 1994 album From the Cradle contained new versions of old blues standards, highlighted by his electric guitar playing.[48] Clapton’s 1996 recording of the Wayne Kirkpatrick/Gordon Kennedy/Tommy Sims tune “Change the World” (featured in the soundtrack of the movie Phenomenon) won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1997, the same year he recorded Retail Therapy (an album of electronic music with Simon Climie under the pseudonym TDF). The following year, Clapton released the album Pilgrim, the first record featuring new material for almost a decade.[39] Clapton finished the twentieth century with collaborations withCarlos Santana and B. B. King.

In 1996 Clapton had a relationship with singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow. They remain friends, and Clapton appeared as a guest on Crow’s Central Park Concert. The duo performed a Cream hit single, “White Room“. Later, Clapton and Crow performed an alternate version of “Tulsa Time” with other guitar legends at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in June 2007.

In 1998 Clapton, then 53, met 22-year-old administrative assistant Melia McEnery in Columbus, Ohio, at a party given for him after a performance. He quietly dated her for a year, and went public with the relationship in 1999. They married on 1 January 2002 at St Mary Magdalene church in Clapton’s birthplace, Ripley. As of 2005 they have three daughters, Julie Rose (13 June 2001), Ella May (14 January 2003), and Sophie Belle (1 February 2005).

2000s

Clapton performing at the TUI Arena of Hannover (Germany) on2 April 2004

Following the release of the 2001 record Reptile, Eric performed “Layla” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the Party at the Palace in 2002. On 29 November of that year the Concert for George was held at the Royal Albert Hall, a tribute to George Harrison, who had died a year earlier of cancer. Clapton was a performer and the musical director. The concert featured Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff LynneTom Petty and the HeartbreakersRavi ShankarGary Brooker, Billy Preston, Joe Brown and Dhani Harrison. In 2004, Clapton released two albums of covers of songs by legendary bluesman Robert JohnsonMe and Mr. Johnson and Sessions for Robert J. The same year, Rolling Stone ranked Clapton #53 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.[49]

Performance for Tsunami Relief Cardiff

On 22 January 2005, Clapton performed in the Tsunami Relief Concert held at the Millennium Stadium inCardiff, in aid of the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. In May 2005 Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker reunited as Cream for a series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Concert recordings were released on CD and DVD. Later, Cream performed in New York at Madison Square GardenBack Home, Clapton’s first album of new original material in nearly five years, was released on Reprise Records on30 August. In 2006 he invited Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II to join his band for his 2006–2007 world tour. Trucks is the third member of the Allman Brothers Band to tour supportng Clapton, the second being pianist/keyboardist Chuck Leavell, who appeared on the MTV Unplugged album and the 24 Nightsperformances at the Royal Albert Hall theatre of London in 1990 and 1991, as well as Clapton’s 1992 U.S. tour.

On 20 May 2006, Clapton performed with Queen drummer Roger Taylor and former Pink Floydbassist/songwriter Roger Waters at the Highclere Castle, in support of the Countryside Alliance. On 13 August 2006, Clapton made a guest appearance at the Bob Dylan concert in Columbus, Ohio, playing guitar on three songs in Jimmie Vaughan‘s opening act.[50] A collaboration with guitarist J. J. Cale, titled The Road to Escondido, was released on 7 November 2006, featuring Derek Trucks and Billy Preston. The 14-track CD was produced and recorded by the duo in August 2005 in California. The chemistry between Trucks and Clapton convinced him to invite The Derek Trucks Band to open for Clapton’s set at his 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival. Trucks remained on set afterward, performed with Clapton’s band throughout his performances, and later embarked on a world tour with him.

The rights to Clapton’s official memoirs, written by Christopher Simon Sykes and published in 2007, were sold at the 2005 Frankfurt Book Fair for US$4 million.[51]

On 26 February 2008, it was reported that North Korean officials had invited Clapton to play a concert in the communist state.[52] Clapton’s management received the invitation and passed it on to the singer, who agreed in principle and suggested it take place sometime in 2009.[53] Kristen Foster, a spokesperson, said, “Eric Clapton receives numerous offers to play in countries around the world,” and “[t]here is no agreement whatsoever for him to play in North Korea.”[54]

Eric Clapton (fourth from left) and his band live in 2007

In 2007 Clapton learned more about his father, a Canadian soldier who left the UK after the war. Although Clapton’s grandparents eventually told him the truth about his parentage, he only knew that his father’s name was Edward Fryer. This was a source of disquiet for Clapton, as witnessed by his 1998 song “My Father’s Eyes“. A Montreal journalist named Michael Woloschuk researched Canadian Armed Forces service records and tracked down members of Fryer’s family, and finally pieced together the story. He learned that Clapton’s father was Edward Walter Fryer, born 21 March1920, in Montreal and died 15 May 1985 in Newmarket, Ontario. Fryer was a musician (piano and saxophone) and a lifelong drifter who was married several times, had several children, and apparently never knew that he was the father of Eric Clapton.[55] Clapton thanked Woloschuk in an encounter at Macdonald Cartier Airport, in Ottawa, Canada.[56]

In February 2008 Clapton performed with his long-time friend Steve Winwood at Madison Square Garden and guested on his recorded single, “Dirty City”, on Winwood’s album Nine Lives. The two former Blind Faith bandmates met again for a series of 14 concerts throughout the United States in June 2009.

Clapton’s 2008 Summer Tour began on 3 May at the Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa Bay, Florida, and then moved to Canada, Ireland, England, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Poland, Germany, and Monaco. On 28 June 2008, he headlined Saturday night for Hard Rock Calling 2008 in London’s Hyde Park (previously Hyde Park Calling) with support from Sheryl Crow and John Mayer.[57][58] In September 2008 Clapton performed at a private charity fundraiser for The Countryside Alliance at Floridita in Soho, London, that included such guests as the London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Clapton performing with The Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theater

In March 2009, the Allman Brothers Band (amongst many notable guests) celebrated their 40th year, dedicating their string of concerts to the late Duane Allman on their annual run at the Beacon Theatre. Eric Clapton was one of the performers, with drummerButch Trucks remarking that the performance was not the typical Allman Brothers experience, given the number and musical styles of the guests who were invited to perform. Songs like “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” were punctuated with others, including “The Weight“, with Levon HelmJohnny Winter sitting in on Hendrix’s “Red House“; and “Layla”. On 4 May 2009 Clapton appeared as a featured guest at the Royal Albert Hall, playing “Further on Up the Road” with Joe Bonamassa.

Clapton was scheduled to be one of the performers at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame‘s 25th anniversary concert in Madison Square Garden on 30 October 2009, but cancelled due to gallstone surgery.[59] Van Morrison (who also cancelled)[60] said in an interview that he and Clapton were to do a “couple of songs”, but that they would do something else together at “some other stage of the game”.[61]

2010s

Clapton performed a two-night show with Jeff Beck at London’s O2 Arena on 13–14 February 2010.[62] The two former Yardbirds extended their 2010 tour with stops at Madison Square Garden,[63] the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and the Bell Centre in Montreal.[64] Clapton performed a series of concerts in 11 cities throughout the United States from 25 February to 13 March 2010, including Roger Daltrey as opening act. His third European tour with Steve Winwood began on 18 Mayand ended 13 June, including Tom Norris as opening act. He then began a short North American tour lasting from 26 June to 3 July, starting with his third Crossroads Guitar Festival on 26 June in Bridgeview, Illinois. Clapton released a new studio album, Clapton, on 27 September 2010 in the United Kingdom and 28 September 2010 in the United States. On 17 November 2010, Clapton performed as guest on the Prince’s Trust rock gala held at the Royal Albert Hall, supported by the house band for the evening, which included Jools HollandMidge Ure and Mark King.[65]

On 24 June 2011 Clapton was in concert with Pino Daniele in Cava de’ Tirreni stadium, Italy, with an audience of 15,000 people before performing a series of concerts in South America from 6 to 16 October 2011.

Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the words of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe “In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington.”[1]

A major figure in the history of jazz, Ellington’s music stretched into various other genres, including bluesgospelfilm scorespopular, and classical. His career spanned more than 50 years and included leading his orchestra, composing an inexhaustible songbook, scoring for movies, composing stage musicals, and world tours. Several of his instrumental works were adapted into songs that became standards. Due to his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, and thanks to his eloquence and extraordinary charisma, he is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other traditional genres of music. His reputation increased after his death and the Pulitzer Prize Board bestowed on him a special posthumous honor in 1999.[2]

“Satin Doll”

Ellington called his music “American Music” rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as “beyond category.”[3]These included many of the musicians who were members of his orchestra, some of whom are considered among the best in jazz in their own right, but it was Ellington who melded them into one of the most well-known jazz orchestral units in the history of jazz. He often composed specifically for the style and skills of these individuals, such as “Jeep’s Blues” for Johnny Hodges, “Concerto for Cootie” for Cootie Williams, which later became “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me” with Bob Russell‘s lyrics, and “The Mooche” forTricky Sam Nanton and Bubber Miley. He also recorded songs written by his bandsmen, such as Juan Tizol‘s “Caravan” and “Perdido” which brought the ‘Spanish Tinge‘ to big-band jazz. Several members of the orchestra remained there for several decades. After 1941, he frequently collaborated with composer-arranger-pianist Billy Strayhorn, whom he called his “writing and arranging companion.”[4]Ellington recorded for many American record companies, and appeared in several films.

Ellington led his band from 1923 until his death in 1974. His son Mercer Ellington, who had already been handling all administrative aspects of his father’s business for several decades, led the band until his own death in 1996. At that point, the original band dissolved. Paul Ellington, Mercer’s youngest son and executor of the Duke Ellington estate,[5] kept the Duke Ellington Orchestra going from Mercer’s death onwards.[6] 

Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899 to James Edward Ellington and Daisy Kennedy Ellington. Daisy and J.E. were both pianists. She primarily played parlor songs and he operatic airs. They lived with his maternal grandparents at 2129 Ida Place (now Ward Place), NW in the West End neighborhood of Washington, D.C.[7] His father, James Edward Ellington, was born in Lincolnton, North Carolina on April 15, 1879 and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1886 with his parents.[8] Daisy Kennedy was born in Washington, D.C. on January 4, 1879, and was the daughter of a former American slave.[7][9] James Ellington made blueprints for the United States Navy. He also worked as a butler for Dr. Middleton F. Cuthbert, a prominent white physician, and occasionally worked as a White House caterer.[10]

At the age of seven Ellington began taking piano lessons from Marietta Clinkscales.[11] Daisy surrounded her son with dignified women to reinforce his manners and teach him to live elegantly. Ellington’s childhood friends noticed that “his casual, offhand manner, his easy grace, and his dapper dress gave him the bearing of a young nobleman”,[12] and began calling him Duke. Ellington credited his “chum” Edgar McEntree for the nickname. “I think he felt that in order for me to be eligible for his constant companionship, I should have a title. So he called me Duke.”[13]

“Take The “A” Train” with Ella Fitzgerald

Though Ellington took piano lessons, he was more interested in baseball. “President Roosevelt (Teddy) would come by on his horse sometimes, and stop and watch us play,” he recalled.[14] Ellington went to Armstrong Technical High School in Washington, D.C. He got his first job selling peanuts at Washington Senators baseball games.

In the summer of 1914, while working as a soda jerk at the Poodle Dog Cafe, he wrote his first composition, “Soda Fountain Rag” (also known as the “Poodle Dog Rag”). Ellington created “Soda Fountain Rag” by ear, because he had not yet learned to read and write music. “I would play the ‘Soda Fountain Rag’ as a one-step, two-step, waltz, tango, and fox trot,” Ellington recalled. “Listeners never knew it was the same piece. I was established as having my own repertoire.”[15] In his autobiography, Music is my Mistress (1973), Ellington said he missed more lessons than he attended, feeling at the time that playing the piano was not his talent. Ellington started sneaking into Frank Holiday’s Poolroom at the age of fourteen. Hearing the poolroom pianists play ignited Ellington’s love for the instrument and he began to take his piano studies seriously. Among the many piano players he listened to were Doc Perry, Lester Dishman, Louis Brown, Turner Layton, Gertie Wells, Clarence Bowser, Sticky Mack, Blind Johnny, Cliff JacksonClaude Hopkins, Phil Wurd, Caroline Thornton, Luckey RobertsEubie Blake, Joe Rochester, and Harvey Brooks.[16]

“It Don’t Mean A Thing”

Ellington began listening to, watching, and imitating ragtime pianists, not only in Washington, D.C., but in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, where he vacationed with his mother during the summer months.[15] Dunbar High School music teacher Henry Lee Grant gave him private lessons in harmony. With the additional guidance of Washington pianist and band leader Oliver “Doc” Perry, Ellington learned to read sheet music, project a professional style, and improve his technique. Ellington was also inspired by his first encounters with stride pianists James P. Johnson and Luckey Roberts. Later in New York he took advice from Will Marion CookFats Waller, and Sidney Bechet. Ellington started to play gigs in cafés and clubs in and around Washington, D.C. and his attachment grew to be so strong that he turned down an art scholarship to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1916. Three months before graduating he dropped out of Armstrong Manual Training School, where he was studying commercial art.[17]

From 1917 through 1919, Ellington launched his musical career, painting commercial signs by day and playing piano by night. Through his day job, Duke’s entrepreneurial side came out: when a customer would ask him to make a sign for a dance or party, he would ask them if they had musical entertainment; if not, Ellington would ask if he could play for them. He also had a messenger job with the U.S. Navy and State Departments. Ellington moved out of his parents’ home and bought his own as he became a successful pianist. At first, he played in other ensembles, and in late 1917 formed his first group, “The Duke’s Serenaders” (“Colored Syncopators”, his telephone directory advertising proclaimed).[17]He was not only a member, but also the booking agent. His first play date was at the True Reformer’s Hall, where he took home 75 cents.[18]

Ellington played throughout the Washington, D.C. area and into Virginia for private society balls and embassy parties. The band included Otto Hardwick, who switched from bass to saxophone; Arthur Whetsol on trumpet; Elmer Snowden on banjo; and Sonny Greer on drums. The band thrived, performing for both African-American and white audiences, a rarity during the racially divided times.[19] 

“Flamingo”

When his drummer Sonny Greer was invited to join the Wilber Sweatman Orchestra in New York City, Ellington made the fateful decision to leave behind his successful career in Washington, D.C., and move to Harlem, becoming one of the figures of the Harlem Renaissance. New dance crazes like the Charleston emerged in Harlem, as well as African-American musical theater, including Eubie Blake‘s Shuffle Along. After the young musicians left the Sweatman Orchestra to strike out on their own, they found an emerging jazz scene that was highly competitive and hard to crack. They hustled pool by day and played whatever gigs they could find. The young band met Willie “The Lion” Smith who introduced them to the scene and gave them some money. They played at rent-house parties for income. After a few months the young musicians returned to Washington, D.C., feeling discouraged.

In June 1923 a gig in Atlantic City, New Jersey, led to a play date at the prestigious Exclusive Club in Harlem. This was followed in September 1923 by a move to the Hollywood Club – 49th and Broadway – and a four-year engagement, which gave Ellington a solid artistic base. He was known to play the bugle at the end of each performance. The group was called Elmer Snowden and his Black Sox Orchestra and had seven members, including James “Bubber” Miley. They renamed themselves “The Washingtonians”. Snowden left the group in early 1924 and Ellington took over as bandleader. After a fire the club was re-opened as the Club Kentucky (often referred to as the “Kentucky Club”), an engagement which set the stage for the biggest opportunities in Ellington’s life.

Ellington made eight records in 1924, receiving composing credit on three including Choo Choo.[20] In 1925 Ellington contributed four songs to Chocolate Kiddies, an all-African-American revue which introduced European audiences to African-American styles and performers. “Duke Ellington and his Kentucky Club Orchestra” grew to a ten-piece organization; they developed their distinct sound by displaying the non-traditional expression of Ellington’s arrangements, the street rhythms of Harlem, and the exotic-sounding trombone growls and wah-wahs, high-squealing trumpets, and sultry saxophone blues licks of the band members. For a short time soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet played with the group, imparting his propulsive swing and superior musicianship to the young band members. This helped attract the attention of some of the biggest names of jazz, includingPaul Whiteman.

In 1927 King Oliver turned down a regular booking for his group as the house band at Harlem’s Cotton Club; the offer passed to Ellington. With a weekly radio broadcast and famous white clientele nightly pouring in to see them, Ellington and his band thrived in the period from 1932 to 1942, a golden age for the band.

Ellington was joined in New York City by his wife, Edna Thompson, and son Mercer in the late twenties, but the couple soon permanently separated.[21] According to her obituary in Jet magazine, she was “[h]omesick for Washington” and returned (she died in 1967).[22]

Although trumpeter Bubber Miley was a member of the orchestra for only a short period, he had a major influence on Ellington’s sound.[23] An early exponent of growl trumpet, his style changed the “sweet” dance band sound of the group to one that was hotter, which contemporaries termed ‘jungle’ style. He also composed most of “Black and Tan Fantasy” and “Creole Love Call“. An alcoholic, Miley had to leave the band before they gained wider fame. He died in 1932 at the age of 29. He was an important influence on Cootie Williams, who replaced him.

“Sophisticated Lady”

In 1927 Ellington made a career-advancing agreement with agent-publisher Irving Mills, giving Mills a 45% interest in Ellington’s future.[24] Mills had an eye for new talent and early on published compositions by Hoagy CarmichaelDorothy Fields, and Harold Arlen. During the 1930s Ellington’s popularity continued to increase – largely as a result of the promotional skills of Mills – who got more than his fair share of co-composer credits. Mills arranged recording sessions on the Brunswick, Victor, and Columbia labels which gave Ellington popular recognition. Mills lifted the management burden from Ellington’s shoulders, allowing him to focus on his band’s sound and his compositions. Ellington ended his association with Mills in 1937, although he continued to record under Mills’ banner through to 1940.

At the Cotton Club, Ellington’s group performed all the music for the revues, which mixed comedy, dance numbers, vaudeville, burlesque, music, and illegal alcohol. The musical numbers were composed by Jimmy McHugh and the lyrics by Dorothy Fields (later Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler), with some Ellington originals mixed in. Weekly radio broadcasts from the club gave Ellington national exposure. In 1929 Ellington appeared in his first movie, a nineteen-minute all-African-American RKO short, Black and Tan, in which he played the hero “Duke”. In the same year, The Cotton Club Orchestra appeared on stage for several months in Florenz Ziegfeld‘s Show Girl, along with vaudeville stars Jimmy Durante,Eddie Foy, Jr.Al JolsonRuby Keeler, and with music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Gus Kahn. That feverish period also included numerous recordings, under the pseudonyms “Whoopee Makers”, “The Jungle Band”, “Harlem Footwarmers”, and the “Ten Black Berries”. In 1930 Ellington and his Orchestra connected with a whole different audience in a concert with Maurice Chevalier and they also performed at the Roseland Ballroom, “America’s foremost ballroom”. Noted composer Percy Grainger was also an early admirer and supporter.

“Perdido”

In 1929, when Ellington conducted the orchestra for Show Girl, he met Will Vodery, Ziegfeld’s musical supervisor. In his 1946 biography, Duke EllingtonBarry Ulanov wrote:

From Vodery, as he (Ellington) says himself, he drew his chromatic convictions, his uses of the tones ordinarily extraneous to the diatonic scale, with the consequent alteration of the harmonic character of his music, its broadening, The deepening of his resources. It has become customary to ascribe the classical influences upon Duke – DeliusDebussy and Ravel – to direct contact with their music. Actually his serious appreciation of those and other modern composers, came after his meeting with Vodery.[25]

As the Depression worsened, the recording industry was in crisis, dropping over 90% of its artists by 1933.[26] Ellington and his orchestra survived the hard times by taking to the road in a series of tours. Radio exposure also helped maintain popularity. Ivie Anderson was hired as their featured vocalist. Sonny Greer had been providing occasional vocals and continued to do in a cross-talk feature with Anderson. Ellington, however, later had many different vocalists, including Herb Jeffries (until 1943) and Al Hibbler (who replaced Jeffries in 1943 and continued until 1951).

Ellington led the orchestra by conducting from the keyboard using piano cues and visual gestures; very rarely did he conduct using a baton. As a bandleader Ellington was not a strict disciplinarian; he maintained control of his orchestra with a crafty combination of charm, humor, flattery, and astute psychology. A complex, private person, he revealed his feelings to only his closest intimates and effectively used his public persona to deflect attention away from himself.

While the band’s United States audience remained mainly African-American in this period, the Cotton Club had a near-exclusive white clientele and the Ellington orchestra had a huge following overseas, exemplified by the success of their trip to England in 1933 and their 1934 visit to the European mainland. The English visit saw Ellington win praise from members of the ‘serious’ music community, including composer Constant Lambert, which gave a boost to Ellington’s aspiration to compose longer works. For agent Mills it was a publicity triumph, as Ellington was now internationally known. On the band’s tour through the segregated South in 1934, they avoided some of the traveling difficulties of African-Americans by touring in private railcars. These provided easy accommodations, dining, and storage for equipment while avoiding the indignities of segregated facilities.

The death of Ellington’s mother in 1935 led to a temporary hiatus in his career. Competition was also intensifying, as African-American and white swing bands began to receive popular attention, including those of Benny GoodmanTommy DorseyJimmy DorseyJimmie LuncefordBenny CarterEarl HinesChick Webb, and Count Basie. Swing dancing became a youth phenomenon, particularly with white college audiences, and “danceability” drove record sales and bookings. Jukeboxes proliferated nationwide, spreading the gospel of “swing”. Ellington band could certainly swing, but Ellington’s strengths were mood and nuance, and richness of composition; hence his statement “jazz is music; swing is business”.[27] Ellington countered with two developments. He made recordings of smaller groups (sextets, octets, and nonets) drawn from his then-15-man orchestra and he composed pieces intended to feature specific instrumentalist, as with “Jeep’s Blues” for Johnny Hodges, “Yearning for Love” for Lawrence Brown, “Trumpet in Spades” for Rex Stewart, “Echoes of Harlem” for Cootie Williams and “Clarinet Lament” for Barney Bigard.

“I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart”

In 1937 Ellington returned to the Cotton Club which had relocated to the mid-town theater district. In the summer of that year, his father died, and due to many expenses, Ellington’s finances were tight. Things improved in 1938 and he met and moved in with Cotton Club employee Beatrice “Evie” Ellis. After splitting with agent Irving Mills, he signed on with the William Morris Agency. The 1930s ended with a very successful European tour just as World War II loomed.

Ellington delivered some huge hits during the 1930s, which greatly helped to build his overall reputation. Some of them include: “Mood Indigo” (1930), “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” (1932), “Sophisticated Lady” (1933), “Solitude” (1934), “In a Sentimental Mood” (1935), “Caravan” (1937), “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” (1938). “Take the “A” Train” which hit big in 1941, was written by Billy Strayhorn.

Strayhorn, originally hired as a lyricist, began his association with Ellington in 1939.[28] Nicknamed “Swee’ Pea” for his mild manner, Strayhorn soon became a vital member of the Ellington Organization. Ellington showed great fondness kept the Duke Ellington Orchestra going for Strayhorn and never failed to speak glowingly of the man and their collaborative working relationship, “my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine”.[29] Strayhorn, with his training in classical music, not only contributed his original lyrics and music, but also arranged and polished many of Ellington’s works, becoming a second Ellington or “Duke’s doppelganger”. It was not uncommon for Strayhorn to fill in for Duke, whether in conducting or rehearsing the band, playing the piano, on stage, and in the recording studio.[30] 

The band reached a creative peak in the early 1940s, when Ellington and a small hand-picked group of his composers and arrangers wrote for an orchestra of distinctive voices who displayed tremendous creativity.[31]

Some of the musicians created a sensation in their own right. The short-lived Jimmy Blanton transformed the use of double bass in jazz, allowing it to function as a solo rather than a rhythm instrument alone. Ben Webster, the Orchestra’s first regular tenor saxophonist, started a rivalry with Johnny Hodges as the Orchestra’s foremost voice in the sax section. Ray Nance joined, replacingCootie Williams (who had “defected”, contemporary wags claimed, to Benny Goodman). Nance, however, added violin to the instrumental colors Ellington had at his disposal.

Three-minute masterpieces flowed from the minds of Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Ellington’s son Mercer EllingtonMary Lou Williamsand members of the Orchestra. “Cotton Tail“, “Main Stem”, “Harlem Airshaft”, “Sidewalks of New York (East Side, West Side)”, “Jack the bear”, and dozens of others date from this period.

Privately made recordings of Nance’s first concert date, at Fargo, North Dakota, on November 7, 1940 by Jack Towers and Dick Burris, are probably the most effective display of the band during this period. These recordings, later released as Duke Ellington at Fargo, 1940 Live, are among the first of innumerable live performances which survive, made by enthusiasts or broadcasters, significantly expanding the Ellington discography.

“All Of Me”

Ellington’s long-term aim became to extend the jazz form from the three-minute limit of the 78 rpm record side, of which he was an acknowledged master.[32] He had composed and recorded Creole Rhapsody as early as 1931 (issued as both sides of 12″ record for Victor and both sides of a 10″ record for Brunswick), and his tribute to his mother, “Reminiscing in Tempo,” had filled four 10″ record sides in 1935; however, it was not until the 1940s that this became a regular feature of Ellington’s work.

In this, he was helped by Strayhorn, who had enjoyed a more thorough training in the forms associated with classical music than Ellington. The first of these, “Black, Brown, and Beige” (1943), was dedicated to telling the story of African-Americans, and the place of slavery and the church in their history. Ellington debuted Black, Brown and Beige inCarnegie Hall on January 23, 1943, beginning a series of concerts there suited to displaying Ellington’s longer works. While some jazz musicians had played at Carnegie Hall before, few had performed anything as elaborate as Ellington’s work.

Unfortunately, starting a regular pattern, Ellington’s longer works were generally not well-received. Jump for Joy, a full-length musical based on themes of African-American identity, debuted on July 10, 1941 at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles. Although it had the support of the Hollywood establishment, and received mostly positive reviews, its socio-political outlook provoked a negative reaction among some members of the public. It ran for 122 performances until September 29, 1941, with a brief revival in November of that year. Its subject matter did not make it appealing to Broadway, despite Ellington’s plans to take it there.[33]

The settlement of the first recording ban of 1942–43 had a serious effect on all the big bands because of the increase in royalty payments to musicians which resulted from it. The financial viability of Ellington’s Orchestra came under threat, though Ellington’s income as a songwriter ultimately subsidized it. Ellington always spent lavishly and although he drew a respectable income from the Orchestra’s operations, the band’s income often just covered expenses.[34]

The music industry’s focus shifted away from the Big Bands to the work of solo vocalists such as the young Frank SinatraElla FitzgeraldBillie Holliday and mainstream groups like The Andrews Sisters as World War II drew to a close. While Ellington had featured some of the most talented singers of the day fronting his orchestra, he and his band took a back seat to no one, which set him down a path that put him increasingly at odds with the growing recording industry which was profiting from celebrity singers who were cheaper to keep than a big band, and produced bigger revenues.

By the mid 1940s, artists were creatively changing. One of Ellington’s composer-arrangers, Mary Lou Williams, left Ellington in 1943 and by 1945 was working with Dizzy Gillespie on a new form of jazz music, “Bebop.”

Bebop rebelled against mainstream jazz and the strict forms of which Ellington was perhaps its most well known standard-bearer. The music, which had redefined the American sound over 35 years, was about to be shaken up.

It would take another ten years for Bebop to begin catching on with jazz aficionados world-wide, but it was an early hit with club owners of smaller venues who could draw the jazz form’s growing audiences in New York City at a fraction of the cost of hosting a big band, particularly one of Ellington’s caliber. Newer, smaller bands and splinter forms of music increasingly put pressure on the bigger clubs who paid out increasingly more to maintain their big bands. Ellington’s elite band was a costly enterprise that, along with his excessive personal spending, always teetered on the brink of break-even. The new music trends eventually pushed it over the edge and put Ellington out on the road in search of venues that could afford to showcase his music.

Bebop was also a huge shift for young talent, from Charlie Parker to John Coltrane to Thelonious Monk who did not embrace Big Band and sought out new creative frontiers, redefining “modern” jazz music forever. Ellington did not recruit or embrace these new artists and change with the times.

In 1950, another emerging musical trend, the African-American popular music style known as Rhythm and Blues driven by a new generation of composers and musicians like Fats Domino drew away young audiences from both the African-American and white communities, and ultimately unified those audiences as R&B morphed into Rock & Roll which expanded the cults of the singers from the Big Band era to the singer/songwriters from Domino to Elvis Presley to Buddy Holly. Again, Ellington did not embrace the new musical form, leaving him further in the growing dust cloud of musical history.

Ellington continued on his own course through these tectonic shifts in the music business. He did not wholly resist trends while trying to turn out major works. The Kay Davis vocal feature “Transblucency” was an attempt to cater to the singer-centric music world. He still performed major extended compositions such as Harlem (1950), whose score he presented to music-loving President Harry Truman, but these works were rapidly becoming reflections of his greatness in the 1930s and 1940s, and not ground-breaking works that rattled the music world back into the Big Band camp.

In 1951, Ellington suffered a major loss of personnel, with Sonny Greer, Lawrence Brown, and most significantly Johnny Hodges, leaving to pursue other ventures. Lacking overseas opportunities and motion picture appearances, Ellington’s Orchestra survived on “one-nighters” and whatever else came their way.

By the summer of 1955 the band was performing for six weeks at the Aquacade in Flushing, New York, where Ellington is supposed to have “invented” a drink known as “The Tornado,” the only alcoholic concoction that features his signature Coca-Cola and sugar.

Ellington’s hope that television would provide a significant new outlet for his type of jazz was not fulfilled. Tastes and trends had moved on without him. The introduction of the 33 1/3 rpm LP record and hi-fi phonograph though, did give new life to many of his older compositions. However by 1955, after three years of recording for Capitol, Ellington no longer had a regular recording affiliation.

The music business’ increasing factionization into specific forms of rock-and-roll, country, bluegrass, or jazz broke down into even more sub-sets, and opened the door for the second act in Duke Ellington’s career. An international fascination with Jazz re-opened the door at record labels to artists like Ellington and Louis Armstrong who had found themselves out of step with the times for the last half-decade. The Ellington who was too big or too proud to change would now appear with a variety of artists from the different jazz forms.

Ellington’s appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 7, 1956 returned him to wider prominence and exposed him to new audiences. The feature “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue“, with saxophonist Paul Gonsalves‘s six-minute saxophone solo, had been in the band’s book since 1937, but on this occasion nearly created a riot. The revived attention should not have surprised anyone – Hodges had returned to the fold the previous year, and Ellington’s collaboration with Strayhorn had been renewed around the same time, under terms more amenable to the younger man. Such Sweet Thunder (1957), based on Shakespeare’s plays and characters, and The Queen’s Suite, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, were products of the renewed impetus which the Newport appearance helped to create.

A new record contract with Columbia produced Ellington’s best-selling LP Ellington at Newport and yielded six years of recording stability under producer Irving Townsend, who coaxed both commercial and artistic productions from Ellington.[35] In 1957, CBS (Columbia’s parent corporation) aired a live television production of A Drum Is a Woman, an allegorical suite which received mixed reviews. Festival appearances at the new Monterey Jazz Festival and elsewhere provided venues for live exposure, and a European tour in 1958 was wildly received.

After a 25-year gap, Ellington (with Strayhorn) returned to work on film scores, this time for Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Paris Blues (1961). Ellington and Strayhorn, always looking for new musical territory, produced adaptations of John Steinbeck‘s novel Sweet Thursday,Tchaikovsky‘s Nutcracker Suite and Edvard Grieg‘s Peer Gynt. The late 1950s also saw Ella Fitzgerald record her Duke Ellington Songbookwith Ellington and his orchestra—a recognition that Ellington’s songs had now become part of the cultural canon known as the “Great American Songbook“.

Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker concludes that the work of Billy Strayhorn and Ellington in Anatomy of a Murder, the trial court drama film directed by Otto Preminger in 1959, is “indispensable, [although] . . . too sketchy to rank in the top echelon among Ellington-Strayhorn masterpiece suites like Such Sweet Thunder and The Far East Suite, but its most inspired moments are their equal.”[36] Film historians have recognized the soundtrack “as a landmark – the first significant Hollywood film music by African Americans comprising non-diegetic music, that is, music whose source is not visible or implied by action in the film, like an on-screen band.” The score avoided the cultural stereotypes which previously characterized jazz scores and rejected a strict adherence to visuals in ways that presaged the New Wavecinema of the ’60s”.[37]

In the early 1960s, Ellington embraced recording with artists who had been fierce rivals of the past, or who had been young artists from the Bebop beginnings whom he did not associate with. The Ellington and Count Basie orchestras recorded together. During a period when he was between recording contracts he made records with Louis Armstrong (Roulette), Coleman HawkinsJohn Coltrane (both for Impulse) and participated in a session with Charles Mingus and Max Roach which produced the Money Jungle (United Artists) album.

Ironically, the singer most responsible for setting off the changes that brought an end to the big band era became Ellington’s salvation. He signed to Frank Sinatra‘s new Reprise label. Musicians who had previously worked with Ellington returned to the Orchestra as members: Lawrence Brown in 1960 and Cootie Williams in 1962.

The international mania for jazz reinstated Ellington as one of the highest earning artists in jazz. He performed all over the world; a significant part of each year was now spent making overseas tours.

He formed notable new working relationships with international artists from around the world, including the Swedish vocalist Alice Babs, and South African musicians Dollar Brandand Sathima Bea Benjamin (A Morning in Paris, 1963/1997).

His earlier hits became big sellers in the rediscovery of the music world-wide, earning Ellington impressive royalties.

“The writing and playing of music is a matter of intent…. You can’t just throw a paint brush against the wall and call whatever happens art. My music fits the tonal personality of the player. I think too strongly in terms of altering my music to fit the performer to be impressed by accidental music. You can’t take doodling seriously.”[15] 

Ellington was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1965, but was turned down.[38] His reaction at 67 years old: “Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn’t want me to be famous too young.”[39] In September of the same year, the first of his Sacred Concerts was given its premiere. It was an attempt to fuse Christian liturgy with jazz, and even though it received mixed reviews, Ellington was proud of the composition and performed it dozens of times. This concert was followed by two others of the same type in 1968 and 1973, known as the Second and Third Sacred Concerts. This caused controversy in what was already a tumultuous time in the United States. Many saw the Sacred Music suites as an attempt to reinforce commercial support for organized religion, though Ellington simply said it was, “the most important thing I’ve done.”[40] TheSteinway piano upon which the Sacred Concerts were composed is part of the collection of the Smithsonian‘s National Museum of American History. Like Haydn and Mozart, Ellington conducted his orchestra from the piano – he always played the keyboard parts when the Sacred Concerts were performed.[41]

Ellington continued to make vital and innovative recordings, including The Far East Suite (1966), the New Orleans Suite(1970), and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse (1971), much of it inspired by his world tours. It was during this time that Ellington recorded his only album with Frank Sinatra, entitled Francis A. & Edward K. (1967).

Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966. He was later awarded several other prizes, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, an Honorary PhD from the Berklee College of Music in 1971, and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973, the highest civilian honors in each country.[2] 

Ellington’s film work began in 1929 with the short film Black and Tan.[42] Symphony in Black (1935) featured his extended piece ‘A Rhapsody of Negro Life’. It introduced Billie Holiday, and won an Academy Award as the best musical short subject. He also appeared in the Amos ‘n’ Andy film Check and Double Check (1930). Ellington and his Orchestra continued to appear in films through the 1930s and 1940s, both in short films and in features such as Murder at the Vanities and Belle of the Nineties (1934), and Cabin in the Sky (1943). In the late 1950s, his work in films took the shape of scoring for soundtracks, notably Anatomy of a Murder (1959), with James Stewart, in which he appeared fronting a roadhouse combo, and Paris Blues(1961), which featured Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as jazz musicians.

He wrote an original score for director Michael Langham‘s production of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada which opened on July 29, 1963. Langham has used it for several subsequent productions, most recently in an adaptation by Stanley Silverman which expands the score with some of Ellington’s best-known works.

Ellington composed the score for the musical Jump For Joy, which was performed in Los Angeles during 1941. Ellington’s sole book musical, Beggar’s Holiday, was staged on Broadway in 1946. Sophisticated Ladies, an award-winning 1981 musical revue, incorporated many tunes from his repertoire.

Ellington married his high school sweetheart, Edna Thompson, on July 2, 1918, when he was 19. Shortly after their marriage, on March 11, 1919 Edna gave birth to their only son,Mercer Kennedy Ellington. Mercer played trumpet, led his own band and worked as his father’s business manager, eventually taking full control of the band after Duke’s death. He was an important archivist of his father’s musical life.

Ellington’s sister Ruth (1915–2004) later ran Tempo Music, Ellington’s music publishing company. Ruth’s second husband was the bass-baritone McHenry Boatwright, whom she met when he sang at her brother’s funeral.

Ellington’s eldest grandson Edward Kennedy Ellington II also is a musician and maintains a small salaried band known as the Duke Ellington Legacy, which frequently comprises the core of the big band operated by The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts. Ellington died of lung cancer and pneumonia on May 24, 1974, a month after his 75th birthday, and was interred in the Woodlawn CemeteryThe Bronx, New York City.[43] At his funeral attended by over 12,000 people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Ella Fitzgerald summed up the occasion, “It’s a very sad day. A genius has passed.”[44] Mercer Ellington picked up the reins of the orchestra immediately after Duke’s death. Ellington’s last words were, “Music is how I live, why I live and how I will be remembered.”

Sources: wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com

Dan Hicks

Dan Hicks (born December 9, 1941, in Little RockArkansas),[1] is an American singer-songwriter working at the intersection ofcowboy folkjazzcountryswingbluegrasspop, and gypsy music. He is perhaps best known for the songs “I Scare Myself” and “Canned Music.” His songs are frequently infused with humor, as evidenced by the title of his tune, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”

Hicks’ father was a career military man. At age five, Hicks moved with his family to California, eventually settling north of San Francisco in Santa Rosa, where he was a drummer in grade school and played the snare drum in his school marching band.

At 14, he was performing with area dance bands. While in high school, he had a rotating spot on Time Out for Teens, a daily 15-minute local radio program, and he went on to study broadcasting at San Francisco State College during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Taking up the guitar in 1959, he became part of the San Francisco folk music scene, performing at local coffeehouses. Hicks joined the San Francisco band The Charlatans in 1965 as drummer.

“How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?

In 1968, Hicks formed Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks with violinist David LaFlamme. LaFlamme was quickly replaced by jazz violinist “Symphony” Sid Page The rest of the band consisted of vocalists Sherri Snow and Christine Gancher, guitarist John Weber, and bassist Jaime Leopold. There was no drummer. This line-up was signed to Epic and in 1969 issued the album Original Recordings, produced by Bob Johnson. The first Hot Licks line-up lasted until 1971 and then disintegrated.

“Pay Day Blues”

When Hicks reformed the band, Page and Leopold remained, and vocalists Naomi Ruth Eisenberg and Maryann Price joined, followed later by guitarist John Girton. This group recorded three albums, culminating in 1973’s Last Train to Hicksville (on which the group first added a drummer). After existing as a critical success only, this last album gained the group wider acclaim, as evidenced by Hicks’ appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone. Thus, it was a great surprise to many when he chose that moment to disband the Hot Licks. Asked why in 1974, he said:

“I didn’t want to be a bandleader anymore. It was a load and a load I didn’t want. I’m basically a loner… I like singing and stuff, but I didn’t necessarily want to be a bandleader. The thing had turned into a collective sort of thing — democracy, vote on this, do that. I conceived the thing. They wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for me. My role as leader started diminishing, but it was my fault because I let it happen; I cared less as the thing went on.”

As time passed, this particular Hot Licks band became Hicks’ “classic” band, in part due to Page’s passionate fiddling, combining swing and classical training, as well as Price’s sultry jazz vocals in the style of Anita O’Day, reflecting her pre-Hicks performing experience.This particular group reunited for a 1991 taping of an hour-long Austin City Limitstelevision broadcast in the 1992 season.

“Lonely Madman”

The 1992 reunion program also featured Hicks’ new group, The Acoustic Warriors, a combination of folk, swing, jazz and country styles. The Acoustic Warriors band consisted of Dan Hicks, Brian Godchaux on violin and mandolin, Paul “Pazzo” Mehling (founder of the Hot Club of San Francisco) on guitar and Richard Saunders on bass.[2]

In 1993 the Acoustic Warriors continued to perform locally around San Francisco and on the road, but this edition placed Paul Robinson on guitar, Nils Molin or Alex Baum onstring bass, Stevie Blacke on mandolin and Josh Riskin on drums.

Hicks recorded one CD with the Acoustic Warriors. “Shootin’ Straight” was released by Private Music in 1996. Recorded live at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, it featured Jim Boggioon accordion/piano, Stevie Blacke on mandolin/violin, Paul Robinson on guitar, Alex Baum on bass and Bob Scott on drums.

Hicks continued to play in bands of other names, and he also began using the Hot Licks name again. Michael Goldberg reviewed Hicks’ comeback album, Beatin’ the Heat (2000):

When he first appeared on the scene in the ’60s, Hicks was a young guy playing old sounds. But there was something fresh, even original about his approach then, and he hasn’t lost his special touch. His voice and his sly, humorous point of view set him apart from any crowd. Now that he’s an old-timer, his music seems even more solid and substantial. Dan Hicks has the coolest friends. On his wonderful new album, Beatin’ the Heat (Surfdog), his first in years—Hicks gets some help fromElvis CostelloRickie Lee JonesBette MidlerTom Waits along with recent swing revivalist and onetime Stray Cats guitarist Brian Setzer. But Hicks—who for many years seemed to be hangin’ around Mill Valley not doing a whole lot of anything—knows this may be his chance for a real comeback. He doesn’t waste his shot, getting great work from his guests without letting them dominate. His voice—which suggests a straw boater hat, handlebar mustache, bow tie, seersucker suit and spats—is front and center, even when he’s dueting with Costello or Jones. “Meet Me on the Corner,” a highlight here, finds Setzer delivering a burning rockabilly guitar solo and Costello offering a frantic vocal, all the better to show off Hicks’ singing and writing. Going head to head with Waits on “I’ll Tell You Why That Is,” a song way over in Waits’ territory, Hicks still stands out. (Waits’ vocal turn is a knockout too—not to be missed.) I even think some of the songs that feature no one but Hicks and his current version of the Hot Licks (Sid Page on violin, Kevin Smith on upright bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, and Jessica Harper and Karla De Vito on background vocals), such as “Hummin’ To Myself” and “He Don’t Care,” may be the strongest here… Hicks’ arrangements make use of banjofiddle andDjango Reinhardt–like jazz guitar at times. He uses doo-wop style harmony singers to play against affable lead vocals laced with dry, dry humor.[3]

The Surfdog album reinvigorated Hicks, and the guests reflected their longtime admiration for the Hot Licks. This Surfdog success led to several more albums for Surfdog, including a 2007 downloadable compilation of Hicks’s previously released duets. Today, Dan and the Hot Licks tour internationally and still reflect Hicks’ original vision.

“Cow Cow Boogie”

“Asked My Doctor”

As a side venture, Dan occasionally plays jazz standards at intimate venues in the San Francisco Bay Area with Bayside Jazz.[4] Backed by a combo of Hot Licks, Acoustic Warriors and other seasoned pros, he puts his spin on standards.

“The Swinger”, The Oxford American, Nov.2007, by David Smay:

“Nobody’s ever come up with a proper label for Dan Hicks. That’s partly because he leapt over the vast jazz divide created by bop. Bebop subdivided the rhythm and broke the melody into cubist fragments until swing was something you did between your ears instead of out on the dance floor. But there was a time from the ’20s through the ’40s when swing—“hot rhythm”—rippled through every form of popular music. That’s the music Dan Hicks plays, and there’s no single word for it because it wasn’t limited to any one genre. Django Reinhardt, the Mills BrothersSpade CooleyHank Garland, the Boswell SistersStuff Smith, and Bing Crosby all swung. You can make yourself nutty trying to define what Dan Hicks is. Then again, you could just say: Dan Hicks swings. And while he may be an idler and a roué, nobody’s written ten better songs about breezing down the road than Dan Hicks. And in the rarefied genre of songs about buzzards & bacon grease, well, he’s the master.”[5]

Yahoo Music Biography of Dan Hicks, by Jason Ankeny:

”Throughout his decades-long career, Dan Hicks stood as one of contemporary music’s true eccentrics. While steeped in folk, his acoustic sound knew few musical boundaries, drawing on country, call-and-response vocals, jazz phrasing, and no small amount of humor to create a distinctive, albeit sporadic, body of work which earned him a devoted cult following.”[6]

Dan describing his music in a 7-3-2007 interview before a gig at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge, CO (Youtube):

“My music is kind of a blending. We have acoustic instruments. It starts out with kind of a folk music sound, and we add a jazz beat and solos and singing. We have the two girls that sing, and jazz violin, and all that, so it’s kind of light in nature, it’s not loud. And, it’s sort of, in a way, kinda carefree. Most of the songs are, I wouldn’t say funny, but kinda maybe a little humorous. We all like jazz, so we like to play in a jazzy way, with a swing sound you know, so I call it “folk swing”. There are a lot of original tunes that I’ve been writing through the years, so that has its personal touch on it.”[7] 

Discography

  • Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks (aka Original Recordings) (1969)
  • Where’s The Money? (1971)
  • Striking It Rich (1972)
  • Last Train to Hicksville (1973)
  • It Happened One Bite (1978)
  • Shootin’ Straight (1994)
  • The Amazing Charlatans (1996)
  • Return to Hicksville (1997)
  • Early Muses (1998)
  • Beatin’ The Heat (2000)
  • The Most of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks (2001)
  • Alive and Lickin’ (2001)
  • Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks – With an All-Star Cast of Friends – DVD/CD package (2003)
  • Selected Shorts (2004)
  • Tangled Tales (2009) incl:1. Who are you? 2. The Diplomat 3. Savin’ My Lovin’ 4. The Blues My Naughty Baby Gave To Me 5. Song For My Father 6. The Rounder 7. 13-D 8. Ragtime Cowboy Joe 9. A Magician 10. Subterranean Homesick Blues 11. Tangled Tales 12. Let it Simmer!
  • Crazy for Christmas (2010)
Sources: wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com

Alan Parsons

Alan Parsons (born 20 December 1948[1]) is a British audio engineer, musician, and record producer. He was involved with the production of several significant albums, including The Beatles‘ Abbey Road and Let It Be, as well as Pink Floyd‘s The Dark Side of the Moon for which Pink Floyd credit him as an important contributor. Parsons’ own group, The Alan Parsons Project, as well as his subsequent solo recordings, have also been successful commercially.

In October 1967, at age 18, Parsons went to work as an assistant engineer at Abbey Road Studios, where he earned his first credit on the LP, Abbey Road. He became a regular there, engineering such projects as Paul McCartney‘s Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, five albums by The Hollies, and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, for which he received his first Grammy Awardnomination. He was known for doing more than what would normally be considered the scope of a recording engineer’s duties. He considered himself to be a recording director, likening his contribution to recordings to what Stanley Kubrickcontributed to film. This is apparent in his work with Al Stewart‘s “Year of the Cat“, where Parsons added the saxophone part and transformed the original folk concept into the jazz-influenced ballad that put Al Stewart onto the charts. It is also heard in Parsons’ influence on the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and “The Air That I Breathe“, sharp departures from their popular 1960s hits “Stay“, “Just One Look“, “Stop! Stop! Stop!” or “Bus Stop“. Parsons was also known to have swapped shifts during the engineering of The Dark Side of the Moon so he could work entirely on the project.

Parsons also produced three albums by Pilot, a Scottish pop rock band consisting of Ian Bairnson on guitar, Stuart Tosh on drums, and David Paton on lead vocals, guitars, and on bass. Their hits included “January” and “Magic”.

“To One In Paradise”

“Time”

He also mixed the debut album by American band Ambrosia and produced their second album Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled. Alan was nominated for grammys for both of these albums. [2]

In 1975, he declined Pink Floyd’s invitation to come back and work on the follow-up for “Dark Side,” Wish You Were Here, and instead initiated The Alan Parsons Project with producer and songwriter (and occasional singer) Eric Woolfson, whom he had met at Abbey Road. The Project consisted of a revolving group of studio musicians and vocalists, most notably the members of Pilot and (on the first album) the members of Ambrosia. Unlike most rock groups, The Alan Parsons Project never performed live during its heyday, although it did release several music videos. Its only live performance during its original incarnation was in 1990, with Woolfson present but behind the scenes. After releasing ten albums, the last in 1987, the Project terminated in 1990 after Parsons and Woolfson split, with the Project’s intended 11th album released that year as a Woolfson solo album. Parsons continued to release work in his own name and in collaboration with other musicians. Parsons and his band now regularly tour many parts of the world.

Although an accomplished vocalist, keyboardist, bassist, guitarist and flautist, Parsons sang infrequent and incidental parts on his albums. While his keyboard playing was very audible on the Alan Parsons Project albums, very few recordings feature his flute. During the late 1990s, Parsons’ career travelled an interesting full circle. Having started out in the music industry at the Abbey Road Studios in London as an assistant engineer in the late 1960s, he briefly returned to run the studio in its entirety. He reportedly managed to combine this role with the demands of a hectic performing and recording schedule. Parsons also continued with his selective production work for other bands.

“Eye In The Sky”

“Days Are Numbered”

Of all his collaborations, guitarist Ian Bairnson worked with Parsons the longest, including Parsons’ post-Woolfson albums, Try Anything OnceOn Air, and The Time Machine.

As well as receiving gold and platinum awards from many nations, Parsons has received ten Grammy Award nominations for engineering and production. In 2007 he received a nomination for Best Surround Sound Album for A Valid Path.

In May 2005, Parsons appeared at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California, to mix front-of-house sound for Southern California-based Pink Floyd tribute band Which One’s Pink? and their performance of The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.[3]

Since 2003 he has toured under a revised name, The Alan Parsons Live Project (with Woolfson’s permission). The globe-trotting band features guitarist Godfrey Townsend, drummer Steve Murphy, keyboardist Manny Focarazzo, and bass guitarist John Montagna. The 2004-2005 shows offered vocalist P. J. Olsson‘s track “More Lost Without You”, while the later 2006 shows presented The Crystal Method-featured “We Play the Game” and opened with “Return to Tunguska” along with successes spanning the Project years.

Beginning in 2001 and extending for four years, Parsons conceived and led a Beatles tribute show called A Walk Down Abbey Road featuring a group of headlining performers such as Todd RundgrenAnn Wilson of HeartJohn Entwistle of The Who, and Jack Bruce of Cream. The show structure included a first set where all musicians assembled to perform each others’ hits, and a second set featuring all Beatles songs.

In 2010, Alan Parsons released his single “All Our Yesterdays” through Authentik Artists.[4] Parsons also launched a DVD educational series in 2010 titled The Art and Science of Sound Recording (“ASSR”) on music production and the complete audio recording process. The single “All Our Yesterdays” was written and recorded during the making of ASSR. The series, narrated by Billy Bob Thornton,[5] gives detailed tutorials on virtually every aspect of the sound recording process. Individual sections of the series are also being released in batches and are available to stream or download at http://www.artandscienceofsound.com.[5]

During 2010, several media reports,[6][7] one of which included a quote from a representative of Parsons,[8] alleged that the song “Need You Now” by country music group Lady Antebellum possessed the melody and arrangement of “Eye in the Sky.”

Sources: youtube, wikipedia.com, imdb.com, alanparsons.com

Albums

Date Title Label Charted Country Catalog Number
as part of The Alan Parsons Project
May 1976 Tales of Mystery and Imagination Mercury 38 US
June 1977 I Robot Arista 9 US
June 1978 Pyramid Arista 26 US
August 1979 Eve Arista 13 US
November 1980 The Turn of a Friendly Card Arista 13 US
June 1982 Eye in the Sky Arista 7 US
1983 The Best of the Alan Parsons Project Arista 53 US
February 1984 Ammonia Avenue Arista 15 US
March 1985 Vulture Culture Arista 46 US
November 1985 Stereotomy Arista 43 US
January 1987 Gaudi Arista 57 US
1988 The Best of the Alan Parsons Project, Vol. 2 Arista
1988 The Instrumental Works Arista
1990 Freudiana EMI
9 October 1989 Pop Classics Arista
1 July 1997 Apollo
15 July 1997 The Definitive Collection
15 April 1999 Sound Check 2
27 July 1999 Master Hits – The Alan Parsons Project
2 August 1999 Alan Parsons Project – Greatest Hits Live
3 August 1999 Eye in the Sky
3 August 1999 Eye in the Sky – Encore Collection
9 May 2000 Alan Parsons Project – Gold Collection BMG International
22 August 2002 Works Audiophile Legends
23 March 2004 Ultimate
1 June 2004 Extended Versions: The iEncore Collection Live
2006 Days Are Numbers (3 CD Compilation) Arista 88697016972
as Engineer
1969 Abbey Road (The Beatles) 1 UK
US
1970 Atom Heart Mother (Pink Floyd) 1
55
UK
US
1973 The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) 2
1
UK
US
1974 Hollies (The Hollies) 28 US
1975 Another Night (The Hollies) 132 US
1975 Ambrosia (Ambrosia)
1976 Year of the Cat (Al Stewart) 5 US
as Producer
1975 The Best Years of Our Lives (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel)
1976 Rebel (John Miles) 171 US
1976 Year of the Cat (Al Stewart) 5 US
1976 Somewhere I’ve Never Traveled (Ambrosia)
1978 Time Passages (Al Stewart) 10 US
March 1984 Keats EMI
1985 Ladyhawke (OST by Andrew Powell) Atlantic Records
as Solo Artist
6 October 1993 Try Anything Once Arista
27 June 1995 The Very Best Live RCA
24 September 1996 On Air A&M/Digital Sound
28 September 1999 The Time Machine Miramar
24 August 2004 A Valid Path Artemis
6 April 2010 Eye 2 Eye: Live In Madrid Frontiers
as Executive Producer / Mentor
1999 Turning the Tide (Iconic Phare) Carrera Records

Billboard Top 40 hit singles (U.S.)

#37 – “(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether” (1976)
#36 – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” (1977)
#27 – “Damned if I Do” (1979)
#16 – “Games People Play” (1980)
#15 – “Time” (1981)
#3 – “Eye in the Sky” (1982)
#15 – “Don’t Answer Me” (1984)

Canadian singles

#62 – “(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether” (1976)
#22 – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” (1977)
#16 – “Damned if I Do” (1980)
#9 – “Games People Play” (1981)
#30 – “Time” (1981)
#1 – “Eye in the Sky” (1982)
#43 – “You Don’t Believe” (1983)
#20 – “Don’t Answer Me” (1984)
#89 – “Let’s Talk About Me” (1985)
Awards and nominations

         Nominations