2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life


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Musicians we lost in 2015 – part 1

Ladies first. Lady Bo, one of rock ‘n’ rolls first female guitar heroes died in September aged 75.

Born Peggy Jones into a musical family she became famous playing for Bo Diddley on “Hey Bo Diddley”, “Road Runner” and “Mona“, among others. Previously only Sister Rosetta Thorpe and Memphis Minnie had achieved fame as female guitarists.

Sometimes called “the Queen Mother of the Electric Guitar” she was also a singer (who had a four octave range by the age of 9), songwriter, band leader and session musician. She joined Bo Diddley when she was 16 after meeting him at the Apollo theatre in Harlem. She said “I ran into him outside when he was on a break. He probably never saw a girl carrying a guitar down the street before and wanted to know if I played it. I said Yeah, why? Who are you?

He asked her backstage for an impromptu audition after which she joined his band. (Jody Williams, Diddley’s previous guitarist had been drafted). She knew everything he did. “Every move I make” Diddley said. She left him in 1962 to lead her own band The Jewels (she had previously been a member of a doo-wop band the Bop Chords) who had a hit single in 1966 called “We got togetherness“.

She rejoined Diddley in 1970 with other members of her band who were then called the Family Jewel. It was at their first reunion concert at the Fillimore West concert inSan Francisco that the fans started calling her Lady Bo. 

She stayed with Diddley, alongside her husband Wally Malone who played bass, until 1993. She recorded with Eric Burdon on “San Francisco Nights” and also played with James Brown and Sam & Dave. She continued playing with her band Lady Bo and the BC Horns alongside her husband on bass into her seventies.

Here’s a YouTube of her playing (a guitar synthesiser no less) with Bo Diddley on “You’re Crackin’ Up” 

Next up: Allen Toussaint also died last year in November aged 77.

 


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Chris Rea sings about Xmas

SCAN0099Chris Rea, singer and blues/slide guitarist, has recorded 24 albums, released 70 odd singles and had over 30 UK hits.

He’s also written many memorable songs including “On the Beach” “Stainsbury Girls” and “Road to Hell“. Plus a few songs about Christmas.

This one,  “Winter Song“, was recorded in 1991 and it reached No 27 in the UK charts.

This particular copy of the 7” 45 rpm  vinyl is unusual in that the cover has been produced as an Advent Calendar.

SCAN0100The back of the sleeve shows a miniature shot of the cover of the Auberge album from which it was taken.

There were two other tracks on the record; “Footprints in the snow” and “Tell me there’s a heaven“, so quite a Christmas/religious theme to this particular release.

Here’s the song taken from Youtube


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About those top guitar riffs?

guitar_and_pick_perspective_1600_wht_12837Total Guitar magazine this month has the BBC’s Top 100 guitar riffs as its main feature and they raise an interesting point about what counts as a riff based on the following dictionary definition.

Definition of a riff: “A short repeated phrase in popular music and jazz, frequently played over changing chords or harmonies or used as a background to a solo improvisation”

Like me you may have wondered how a tune like “Apache” by the Shadows can be classed as a riff when it’s an instrumental?

The same goes for “Misirlu” by Dick Dale, “Rumble” by Link Ray and “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes. Also “Peter Gunn” by Duane Eddy (although the melody is pretty much just a repeated riff so maybe  that one should be allowed on the list).

And then there are the tunes relying on repetitive phrasing like Television‘s “Marquee Moon”, Chuck Berry‘s “Johnny B Goode”, and the “shave and a haircut” rhythm in the eponymous “Bo Diddley”.

And there were some that made me scratch my head as to why they’d been included e.g. Queen of the Stone Age‘s “No one knows“.

But a good idea for a radio programme and something to argue over in the pub!

If you didn’t hear the riffs the first time round they are all here.


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Music to chill by at Zurich airport

P1020340Airports aren’t the most stress-free of environments so after getting to the airport in Zurich by train from Germany and negotiating our way through security into the departure lounge we were greeted by the mellow sounds of this guitarist playing “Besame Mucho”.

He’s called Willy Claure and is a self-taught Bolivian who has recorded 13 albums and played concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia.

Besame Mucho” is from his CD “Willy Claure 1 Die bekanntesten Melodien” (well known melodies)

My colleague and I grabbed a sandwich and a coffee and enjoyed his  performance.

I chatted to him on his break about his equipment which comprised a Canadian-made guitar (a Larrivee I think), which cost over £3,000, played through a state of the art Bose system which cost about the same, with an iPod playing his backing tracks.

He’s been playing in various parts of the airport for the last 8 years and is obviously popular with travellers, and deservedly so.
P1020341

 


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P J Proby and Tom Jones – two great voices

PJProby-27036527 March 1965 at the Nelson Imperial. We’d been on stage for the best part of an hour; had played our set twice, and couldn’t get off because it was a revolving stage.

The girls in the crowd were screaming – not for us, the Avalons, but for the star of the evening who was in his dressing room keeping everyone waiting: Mr P J Proby.

When he finally appeared, after starting his song off-stage, it was well worth the wait because he had a fantastic voice. He also had a pony tail and a green velvet suit. Earlier in the year repeated pant ripping due to excessive hip movement – what would now be called a wardrobe malfunction – in Croydon got him banned from all ABC cinemas, ABC TV and the BBC.

His big hit from 1964 which reached No. 3 was “Hold Me”. Not only a powerful song but it featured two guitar greats. Jimmy Page (later of  The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin) played rhythm guitar and Big Jim Sullivan played lead guitar. Big Jim, to differentiate him from Little  Jimmy, had played lead guitar in Marty Wilde’s Wildcats and the KrewKats and backed Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran on their ill-fated 1960 UK tour.

And he was a prolific session man who’d played on 800 top forty hits including 54 number ones. He later joined Tom Jones’s band (1969-1974) and  in Las Vegas he became friends with Elvis Presley.

When P J was banned from the ABC cinema tour his place was taken by Tom Jones and the Squires, formerly known as Tommy Scott and the Senators. They’d left Joe Meek after being unsuccessful at getting a recording contract but Gordon Mills took them on and renamed him because of the popularity of the Tom Jones film at the time.

Tom Jones first record on Decca was “Chills and Fever” which did nothing but his second release, originally intended for Sandie Shaw and which he sang as a demo for her, was “It’s not unusual” and it reached No 1 in the UK and was his first top ten hit in America.

Going back to that day in 1965 I remember girls fainting after becoming hysterical and helping the bouncers to drag them over the stage and to the fire exits. I also remember talking to the lead guitarist who was fed up of touring with P J and who actually offered me his job – at £65 a week! Now I was probably earning about a tenth of that at the time but I thought if this pro can’t put up with Mr Proby, could I? And I also felt loyal to my own group.

Dave Parkinson our vocalist at the time also remembers it well. He says “That night at the Imp was memorable, wasn’t it? Not only did we have to battle on with Bob Kane yelling at us to “do one more” from the side of the stage whilst old PJ had his tonsils lubricated, but then we had to watch as he put on a brilliant show, wowing everybody in sight. The man had style and a powerful voice to boot, that’s for sure”

sc0000541bAt his peak P J Proby was considered a potential great but lost his substantial wealth and came back to Britain to perform in musical theatre and 60s revival concerts where Dave and I last saw him in 2006 on a Solid Sixties tour with Gerry and the Pacemakers, Wayne Fontana (one of our big heroes in his day) and Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick and Tich, who gave the best performance in my view.

In 2008 his record company released a new CD to commemorate his 70th birthday. It contained a previously unreleased version of “Delilah”. This had been written for him by Barry Mason and Les Reed for his 1968 album but was left off it for some reason. It then became a massive hit for Tom Jones in 1968 and its songwriters won the Ivor Novello award for best song with it.

 It could have been so different for PJ Proby, who is still touring at 76 years of age, while Sir Tom Jones got a knighthood.