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

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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

Farewell Etta James

Etta James, whose powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs, most indelibly in her signature hit, “At Last,” died Friday morning in Riverside, Calif. She was 73.

Her manager, Lupe De Leon, said that the cause was complications of leukemia. Ms. James, who died at Riverside Community Hospital, had been undergoing treatment for some time for a number of conditions, including leukemia and dementia. She also lived in Riverside.

Ms. James was not easy to pigeonhole. She is most often referred to as a rhythm and blues singer, and that is how she made her name in the 1950s with records like “Good Rockin’ Daddy.” She is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.

She was also comfortable, and convincing, singing pop standards, as she did in 1961 with “At Last,” which was written in 1941 and originally recorded by Glenn Miller’s orchestra. And among her four Grammy Awards (including a lifetime-achievement honor in 2003) was one for best jazz vocal performance, which she won in 1995 for the album “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday.”

Regardless of how she was categorized, she was admired. Expressing a common sentiment, Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 1990 that she had “one of the great voices in American popular music, with a huge range, a multiplicity of tones and vast reserves of volume.”

“At Last”

For all her accomplishments, Ms. James had an up-and-down career, partly because of changing audience tastes but largely because of drug problems. She developed a heroin habit in the 1960s; after she overcame it in the 1970s, she began using cocaine. She candidly described her struggles with addiction and her many trips to rehab in her autobiography, “Rage to Survive,” written with David Ritz (1995).

Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles on Jan. 25, 1938. Her mother, Dorothy Hawkins, was 14 at the time; her father was long gone, and Ms. James never knew for sure who he was, although she recalled her mother telling her that he was the celebrated pool player Rudolf Wanderone, better known as Minnesota Fats. She was reared by foster parents and moved to San Francisco with her mother when she was 12.

She began singing at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles at 5 and turned to secular music as a teenager, forming a vocal group with two friends. She was 15 when she made her first record, “Roll With Me Henry,” which set her own lyrics to the tune of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters’ recent hit “Work With Me Annie.” When some disc jockeys complained that the title was too suggestive, the name was changed to “The Wallflower,” although the record itself was not.

“The Wallflower” rose to No. 2 on the rhythm-and-blues charts in 1954. As was often the case in those days with records by black performers, a toned-down version was soon recorded by a white singer and found a wider audience: Georgia Gibbs’s version, with the title and lyric changed to “Dance With Me, Henry,” was a No. 1 pop hit in 1955. (Its success was not entirely bad news for Ms. James. She shared the songwriting royalties with Mr. Ballard and the bandleader and talent scout Johnny Otis, who had arranged for her recording session. (Mr. Otis died on Tuesday.)

“I’d Rather Go Blind”

In 1960 Ms. James was signed by Chess Records, the Chicago label that was home to Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and other leading lights of black music. She quickly had a string of hits, including “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “Trust in Me” and “At Last,” which established her as Chess’s first major female star.

She remained with Chess well into the 1970s, reappearing on the charts after a long absence in 1967 with the funky and high-spirited “Tell Mama.” In the late ’70s and early ’80s she was an opening act for the Rolling Stones.

After decades of touring, recording for various labels and drifting in and out of the public eye, Ms. James found herself in the news in 2009 after Beyoncé Knowles recorded a version of “At Last” closely modeled on hers. (Ms. Knowles played Ms. James in the 2008 movie “Cadillac Records,” a fictionalized account of the rise and fall of Chess.) Ms. Knowles also performed “At Last” at an inaugural ball for President Obama in Washington.

When the movie was released, Ms. James had kind words for Ms. Knowles’s portrayal. But in February 2009, referring specifically to the Washington performance, she told an audience, “I can’t stand Beyoncé,” and threatened to “whip” the younger singer for singing “At Last.” She later said she had been joking, but she did add that she wished she had been invited to sing the song herself for the new president.

Ms. James’s survivors include her husband of 42 years, Artis Mills; two sons, Donto and Sametto James; and four grandchildren.

Though her life had its share of troubles to the end — her husband and sons were locked in a long-running battle over control of her estate, which was resolved in her husband’s favor only weeks before her death — Ms. James said she wanted her music to transcend unhappiness rather than reflect it.

“Something’s Got A Hold On Me”

“A lot of people think the blues is depressing,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1992, “but that’s not the blues I’m singing. When I’m singing blues, I’m singing life. People that can’t stand to listen to the blues, they’ve got to be phonies.”

Sources: PETER KEEPNEWS, New York Times, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.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)

André Previn

André George PrevinKBE (born Andreas Ludwig Priwin; April 6, 1929)[1] is an American pianist, conductor, and composer. He is considered one of the most versatile musicians in the world, and is the winner of four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings.

Previn was born in Berlin, Germany , the son of Charlotte (née Epstein) and Jack Previn, who was a lawyer, judge, and music teacher.[2] He is a distant relative of the composerGustav Mahler. The year of his birth is uncertain. Whilst most published reports give 1929,[1] Previn himself has stated that 1930 is his birth year.[3] This situation is because the family lost Previn’s birth certificate when they left Germany in 1938. His elder brother was director Steve Previn. The Previn family, which was Jewish, emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime in Germany.

“It Could Happen To You”

In 1939, his family moved to Los Angeles, where his great-uncle, Charles Previn, was music director of Universal Studios. André grew up in Los Angeles and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1943. At Previn’s 1946 graduation from Beverly Hills High School he played a musical duet with Richard M. Sherman; Previn played the piano, accompanying Sherman (who played flute). He first came to prominence by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores in 1948. Coincidentally, 21 years later, both composers won Oscars for different films, both winning in musical categories. In the mid-to-late 1950s, and more recently, Previn toured and recorded as a jazz pianist. In the 1950s, mainly recording for Contemporary Records, he worked with Shelly Manne,Leroy VinnegarBenny Carter, and others. An album he recorded with Manne and Vinnegar of songs from My Fair Lady was a best-seller (see My Fair Lady (Shelly Manne album)). As a solo jazz pianist, Previn largely devoted himself to interpreting the works of major songwriters such as Jerome KernFrederick LoeweVernon Duke, and Harold Arlen. Previn made two albums with Dinah Shore as arranger, conductor, and accompanist in 1960, and another, the unjustly neglected “Duet”, with Doris Day in 1961. He made appearances onThe Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford as well as The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. He collaborated with Julie Andrews on a collection of Christmas carols in 1966, focusing on rarely heard carols. This popular album has been reissued many times over the years and is now available on CD. His main influences as a jazz pianist include Art Tatum,Oscar Peterson, and Horace Silver. Previn has also recorded classical piano compositions by MozartGershwinPoulencShostakovich, and others.

“Laura” -Remember these recordings from the 1960’s with full string orchestras. It was funny then – its funny still, though lovely.

In 1967, Previn succeeded John Barbirolli as music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. In 1968, Previn began his tenure as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), serving in that post until 1979. During his LSO tenure, he and the LSO appeared on the BBC Television programme André Previn’s Music Night. From 1976 to 1984, Previn was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and in turn had another television series with the PSO entitled Previn and the Pittsburgh. He was also principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1985 to 1988.

In 1985, he became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Although Previn’s tenure with the orchestra was musically satisfactory, other conductors including Kurt SanderlingSimon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, did a better job at selling out concerts. Previn clashed frequently with Ernest Fleischmann (the orchestra’s Executive VP and General Manager), most notably when Fleischmann failed to consult him before naming Salonen as Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra, complete with a tour of Japan. Because of Previn’s objections, Salonen’s title and Japanese tour were withdrawn; however, shortly thereafter, in April 1989, Previn resigned. Four months later, Salonen was named Music Director Designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, officially taking the post of Music Director in October 1992.[4] 

“What’s This Thing Called Love” (not sure what all the silly photos are about, but listen to this guy tear up the piano!! Phenomenal, understated jazz pianist!

Previn has composed film scores and other musical works, including concertos for piano, violin, cello, and guitar. He has also adapted and conducted the music for several films, some of them stage-to-film adaptations, such as My Fair LadyKismetPorgy and Bess, and Paint Your Wagon. Several were written especially for film, including the Academy Award-winning Gigi. Several of the film scores were collaborations with his second wife, Dory Previn.

In later years, he has concentrated on composing classical music. He collaborated with Tom Stoppard on Every Good Boy Deserves Favour,[5] a play with substantial musical content, which was first performed in London in 1977 with Previn conducting the LSO. His first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 1998. His second opera, Brief Encounter, based on the 1945 movie of the same name, was premiered at Houston Grand Opera on May 1, 2009. His numerous other classical works include vocal, chamber, and orchestral music.

“Honeysuckle Rose”

Previn’s many recordings include the three ballets of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Swan LakeThe Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker), and the complete symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, all with the LSO. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he made other recordings of music by Sergei Prokofiev (most notably, the Symphonies 1 and 5, the score to Alexander Nevsky, and the Symphony-Concerto for Cello & Orchestra with Heinrich Schiff as soloist), symphonies and other pieces by Antonín Dvořák, and works by contemporary composers including William KraftJohn Harbison, and Harold Shapero. His recordings of works by RachmaninoffGershwinWilliam Walton, and Shostakovichhave been particularly prized.

He has made jazz recordings in two periods of his career: in the 1950s and early 1960s and then again since the 1980s. With bassist David Finck he has recorded a collection ofGeorge Gershwin standards (“We Got Rhythm: Gershwin Songbook”) and Duke Ellington classics (“We Got It Good & That Ain’t Bad: an Ellington Songbook”), both on theDeutsche Grammophon label. Previn became known to a broad public through his television work. In the United Kingdom, he worked on TV with the London Symphony Orchestra. In the United States, “Previn and the Pittsburgh” showed him in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Previn is particularly remembered in Britain for his performance as “Mr. Andrew Preview” (or “Privet”) on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in 1971, which involved his conducting a performance of Edvard Grieg‘s Piano Concerto with Eric Morecambe as the comically-inept soloist. (At one point “Mr Preview” accuses Eric Morecambe of playing the wrong notes; Eric retorts that he has been playing “the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.”) Because of other commitments, the only time available for Previn to learn his Morecambe and Wise part was during a transatlantic flight, but the talent he showed for comedy won high praise from his co-performers. At a concert in Britain afterwards, Previn had to stop the playing of the concerto to allow the audience time to stop giggling as they remembered the sketch. Previn himself notes that people still recall the sketch years later in the UK, where “Taxi drivers still call me Mr Preview”.

“I’ll String Along With You.”

Previn has been married five times. His first three marriages, to Betty Bennett (with whom he had two children), to Dory Langdon, and then to Mia Farrow, kept him in the public eye. Previn and Farrow had three biological children, twins Matthew and Sascha, born February 26, 1970, and Fletcher, born March 14, 1974. In 1973 and 1976, respectively, Previn and Farrow adopted Vietnamese infants Lark Song and Summer “Daisy” Song (born October 6, 1974). Lark died on Christmas Day of 2008.[6] He is also the adoptive father of Soon-Yi Previn, who was adopted from Korea at age 8 (born October 8, 1970). After his fourth marriage (to Heather Sneddon in 1982, with whom he had one child) ended in 2002, Previn wed the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and later wrote a violin concerto for her. They divorced in 2006, but remain on amicable terms and have continued to work together in concerts.[7][8] Previn wrote a memoir of his early years in Hollywood, No Minor Chords, which was published in 1991.

….and my favorite, “Skylark”

Previn has received a total of thirteen Academy Award nominations, winning in 1958, 1959, 1963 and 1964. He is one of few composers to accomplish the feat of winning back-to-back Oscars, and one of only two to do so on two occasions (the other being Alfred Newman). In 1970 he was nominated for a Tony Award as part of Coco‘s nomination for Best Musical. In 1977 he became an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music.[9] The 1977 television show Previn and the Pittsburgh was nominated for three Emmy awards. Previn was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1996.[10] (Not being a citizen of a Commonwealth Realm, he may use only the post-nominal letters KBE and not the title “Sir André”.) Previn received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 in recognition of his contributions to classical music and opera in the United States. In 2005 he was awarded the international Glenn Gould Prize and in 2008 won Gramophone magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in classical, film, and jazz music.[11] In 2010, the Recording Academy honored Previn with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

Academy Awards

Best Music – Scoring of a Musical Picture
Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment

Grammy Awards

Best Instrumental Soloist
Best Classical Crossover Album
Best Chamber Music Performance
Best Choral Performance
Best Performance by an Orchestra
Best Sound Track Album
Best Jazz Performance – Soloist or Small Group

List of compositions

Film

Orchestral Music

  • Concerto for Cello (1960)
  • Guitar Concerto (1960)
  • Piano Concerto (1985)
  • Violin Concerto (2001)
  • Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass (2004)

Chamber Music

  • Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello (2008)
  • Clarinet Sonata (Prague, 2010)

Opera

Theatre

Jazz

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

Jane Froman

Jane Froman (November 10, 1907 – April 22, 1980) was an American singer and actress. During her thirty-year career, Froman performed on stage, radio and television despite chronic injuries that she sustained from a 1943 plane crash. The 1952 film, With a Song in My Heart, is based on her life.

“I’ll Walk Alone”

Froman was born in University CityMissouri, the daughter of Elmer Ellsworth Froman and Anna T. Barcafer. Her childhood andadolescence was spent in the small Missouri town of Clinton. She attended Columbia College (Missouri) in the city of Columbia, which she considered her hometown. Her father left her mother when Jane was about 5 years old. She developed a stutter around this time, which plagued her all of her life, except when she sang.[1]

Although she had classical voice training, early in her career she was drawn to the songs of the era’s songwriters, George and Ira GershwinCole Porter, and Irving Berlin, who were inspiring a resurgence in popular music. She met vaudeville performer Don Ross when they auditioned for the same job at WLW radio station in Cincinnati. There, she joined Henry Thies’ orchestra and was featured vocal on a number of Thies’ Victor recordings. Convinced she was star material, Ross became her unofficial manager and persuaded her to move to Chicago where he worked for NBC radio. In 1933 Froman moved to New York City where she appeared onChesterfield‘s “Music that Satisfies” radio program with Bing Crosby. She married Don Ross in September 1933. She joined theZiegfeld Follies the same year where she befriended Fannie Brice. In 1934, at age 27, she became the top-polled “girl singer.” The famous composer and producer, Billy Rose, when asked to name the top ten female singers, is reported to have replied, “Jane Froman and nine others.”

She was severely injured by an aircraft crash on February 22, 1943, when a USO plane, a Boeing 314 named Yankee Clipper (tail number NC18603) was carrying Froman and 38 others. When Yankee Clipper was banking into a turn for approach, a wingtip caught a wave, whereupon she crashed into the Tagus River in LisbonPortugal. One of fifteen survivors, Froman sustained severe injuries: a cut below the left knee nearly severing her leg, multiple fractures of her right arm, and a compound fracture of her right leg that doctors threatened to amputate. Froman had given her seat to another passenger, Tamara Drasin, who was killed in the crash, an action which her biographer Ilene Stone said “bothered her her whole life.”[1]

“I Only Have Eyes For You”

The co-pilot, John Curtis Burn, who broke his back in the crash, fashioned a makeshift raft from portions of the wrecked plane to help keep himself and Froman afloat. After being rescued, they were sent to the same convalescent home, where they battled their long recoveries together. After she divorced Don Ross in February 1948, Jane Froman and John Burn were married, only to be divorced eight years later (March 12, 1948 – 1956).

“Get Happy”

Froman underwent 39 operations over the years. She fought amputation and wore a leg brace the remainder of her life. However, she returned to Europe and entertained American troops in 1945. Despite having to walk with crutches, she gave 95 shows throughout Europe. During the 40s Froman became addicted to painkillers. Although she successfully underwent detoxification, she later had problems with alcohol addiction.

Froman’s life story was the subject of the movie With a Song in My Heart (1952), starring Susan Hayward as Froman. Froman was deeply involved in the film’s production: she supplied Hayward’s singing voice and served as the film’s technical advisor. The Capitol album of songs from the movie was the number one best-selling album of 1952 and remained in the catalogue for many years. DRG recently re-issued the album on a compact disc along with the 1952 revival cast album of Pal Joey, in which Froman sang the role made famous by Vivienne Segal, Vera Simpson.

A Choice CD called Jane Froman on Capitol is a collection of her Capitol Records singles and tracks from albums. From 1952-1955 Jane starred on CBS-TV. Her first program,USA Canteen, had servicemen in the audience. The program was renamed The Jane Froman Show and the format was changed to a twice weekly 15 minute program on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After the show was canceled in 1956, Froman appeared on various programs for the next few years. She also appeared on stage in Las Vegas. Froman retired to her home town of Columbia in 1961 where she married an old college friend, Rowland Hawes Smith (June 22, 1962 – April 22, 1980). She continued the volunteer work for which she was known throughout her career. In 1980, she died of cardiac arrest caused by chronic heart and lung disease in Columbia. She is buried at the Columbia Cemetery.

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

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.