John D. Loudermilk, Wrote “Tobacco Road” and “Indian Reservation”

“Tobacco Road” Performed on BBC, 1984–View on YouTube

John D. Loudermilk was a prolific singer and songwriter of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, penning hits for a wide range of artists, from Johnny Cash to the Blues Magoos. Although he recorded many of his songs himself, his best-known hits were recordings by others.

The Nashville Teens, a British garage rock band, brought “Tobacco Road” to fame in the 1964, and “Indian Reservation” was a #1 hit by Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1971. Loudermilk (March 31, 1934-September 21, 2016) recorded both songs originally.

Loudermilk was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1976 and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2011. He was a cousin of the country duo The Louvin Brothers.

“The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian” on Spotify

Eleanor Barooshian of 60s Girl Group the Cake

Covering “I Got You Babe” with Tiny Tim–Watch on YouTube

Eleanor Barooshian (April 2, 1950-August 30, 2016) was a singer in the trio the Cake. Barooshian, Jeanette Jacobs and Barbara Morillo got their start at Steve Paul’s The Scene in Manhattan. They were picked up by the same management behind Sonny & Cher and Iron Butterfly.

She was something of a Zelig in the late 60s rock scene. Her obituary in The Guardian features a photo of her with Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival. Mac Rebennack played piano on one of the Cake’s albums, and she and another band member provided backup vocals for him under his alter-ego, Dr. John. She was a lead singer for Ginger Baker’s Air Force.

She also appeared famously in You Are What You Eat, a cult film produced by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. In it, she sings a cover of “I’ve Got You Babe” with Tiny Tim, with Tim singing the Cher part and Barooshian Sonny’s part.

“Baby That’s Me” on Spotify

Ab Tamboer, Drummer for Dutch Band Earth & Fire

“Weekend”–Video on YouTube

Ab Tamboer (November 8, 1950-August 26, 2016) was not the first drummer for Earth & Fire, but he was with the band in 1978 when it scored a #1 hit in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with  “Weekend.” By this time, the group had veered in a more pop music direction, adjusting to new competition from disco, punk and new wave.

“Weekend” stayed on the National Hit Parade for seven weeks and sold 210,000 copies in the Netherlands.

Tamboer also played in the bands Het Goede Doel, Kayak, and was in the session band for the Dutch production of the musical Cats.

“Hou Van Mij” by Het Goede Doel on Spotify

Juan Gabriel, the “Divo of Juarez”

“Hasta Que Te Conocí”–Vevo Video on YouTube (“Until I Met You”)

Juan Gabriel was a Mexican superstar with multiple Grammy nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A prolific artist, he sold more than 100 million records since his debut in 1971 and was known for his showmanship during marathon concerts. Just last Friday he gave a sold-out concert at the Inglewood Forum in California.

Gabriel (January 7, 1950-August 28, 2016) retained traditional aspects of Mexican music, such as mariachi, even as he kept pace with musical trends.

A CNN post quoted a tweet by Maria Atencio, a news anchor for Fusion and Univision: “We lost our Prince, our Bowie, our Elton John.”

“Querida” from Los Dúo on Spotify

Kitty Kallen, Pop Singer Who Topped Charts in 1950s

“Kiss Me Sweet,” 1949

Kitty Kallen (May 25, 1921-January 7, 2016) was an American pop singer who began her career with swing and big bands, performing with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey among others.

On Colgate Comedy Hour (Begins at 9:24)

She made the transition to Post-War Pop, appearing on many early TV shows, including The Tonight Show, Colgate Comedy Hour, Perry Como and Fred Allen’s Judge for Yourself.

“Little Things Mean A Lot” on Perry Como, 1955

Her mid-50s hit, “Little Things Mean A Lot,” was #1 in the US for nine consecutive weeks. She was named “most popular female singer” in 1954 and was honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

Natalie Cole, Grammy Award-Winning Vocalist

“Unforgettable”

I’m struggling to think of successful music artists who have followed in the paths of their music legend parents. Roseanne Cash comes to mind, albeit on her own, independent terms. Hank Williams, Jr. is a stretch, but, OK, he did score the Monday Night Football theme if that counts.

“Miss You Like Crazy”

But Natalie Cole was a true force, selling over 30 million records worldwide in the 1970s and during her resurgence in the 1990s. Her album Unforgettable…With Lovea re-recording of her father’s standards sold seven million records on its own and earned her numerous Grammy Awards.

A Natalie Cole Medley

Cole (February 6, 1950-December 31, 2015) started her career as an R&B singer and over the years moved toward pop and jazz. Her parents were both singers–Nat King Cole and Maria Hawkins, who performed with both the Ellington and Basie bands.

Cory Wells of Three Dog Night

“Mama Told Me Not To Come,” 1970 Live

I saw Three Dog Night at their peak in 1972 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. (Full disclosure: the main attraction for me was the opening act, Leon Russell, but the headliners were Wells and company.)

Interview with Cory Wells, 2011

Three Dog Night got its name not from the number of lead singers in the band, but from an Australian expression for “very cold night” (You need three dogs to stay warm, get it?) In the 2011 interview video I include, Wells explains how and why they adopted the name.

“Out In The Country” Live

Wells (February 2, 1941-October 20, 2015) was joined by fellow vocalists Danny Hutton and Chuck Negron. They were accompanied by keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon (who also passed this year), Joe Schermie on bass, Mike Allsup on guitar and Floyd Sneed, drums. The group had impeccable taste in songwriters, making hits of songs by Randy Newman (“Mama Told Me Not To Come”), Harry Nilsson (“One”), Laura Nyro (“Eli’s Comin'”), Paul Williams (“Out In The Country,” “An Old Fashioned Love Song”) and Hoyt Axton (“Joy To The World”), to name a few.

Jim Diamond, Singer of “I Should Have Known Better”

“I Should Have Known Better”

Jim Diamond was a Scottish musician, who was a kind of Zelig of British rock and pop, performing with disparate groups and in a variety of genres–with the art rock band Gully Foyle, Alexis Korner (the “Godfather of British Blues”),  PhD (which he formed in the early 1980s), as a chart-topping pop artist and finally with The Blue Shoes, a duo he formed with saxophonist Snake Davis.

“I Won’t Let You Down” with Ph.D., 1982

His solo single “I Should Have Known Better” was a worldwide #1 and earned him an Ivor Novello Best Single Award. According to FirstFoot.com, he generously leveraged the song’s popularity to draw attention to the release of the Band-Aid charity CD: “I’m delighted to be Number 1, but next week, I don’t want people to buy my record, I want them to buy Band-Aid.”

“Hi Ho Silver” (Boon Theme Song)

Diamond (September 28, 1951-October 8, 2015) also wrote the theme to the popular British detective TV series Boon. Diamond’s recording of the theme reached #5 on the UK charts.

Billy Joe Royal, Sang “Down in the Boondocks”

“Down in the Boondocks”

Billy Joe Royal was a Georgia-born singer, who found success in the pop, R&B and country genres. Like so many young singers, he was inspired to pursue his career once he saw the success of Elvis, whom he eventually got to know while they were both performing in 1970s-era Las Vegas.

“I’ve Got to Be Somebody” on Shindig

Royal (April 3, 1942-October 6, 2015) began his professional career in Atlanta, appearing at a New Year’s Eve concert that also featured Gladys Knight. He was a friend and colleague of singer-songwriter Joe South, who wrote “Down in the Boondocks” and persuaded Royal to record it.

“Funny How Time Slips Away”

The success of that hit (it made it to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart) earned him a spot on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars, a package tour of mid-1960s pop stars like Herman’s Hermits, Peter and Gordon and Tom Jones. “Down in the Boondocks” has been covered by Penny DeHaven (1969), Kenny Loggins (1978), Ry Cooder (1980) and U.S. Girls (2012).

Wilton Felder, Saxophonist for Jazz Crusaders and Session Bass Player

“Inherit The Wind” featuring Bobby Womack

Wilton Felder was a tenor saxophonist for The Jazz Crusaders, a successful jazz group that formed in the early 1960s. He was also a prolific session bass player, appearing on recordings for The Jackson 5, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan and others. The distinctive bass line for The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” is Felder’s creation.

The Crusaders Live at Montreaux, 2003

The Crusaders (they dropped “Jazz” from their name in the 70s) moved in a more pop-oriented direction in the 70s, adding electric guitar and switching to electric piano. The group went through several iterations and lineups during the next few decades.

“Keep That Same Old Feeling,” Live in LA, 1984

A 1981 New York Times interview with Felder (August 31, 1940-September 27, 2015) included his explanation of how he developed his big sound. Texas clubs in the early part of his career didn’t often have microphones, and as increasingly amplified guitars began to drown out other instruments, Felder learned to play loud. He adopted a metal mouthpiece, used hard reeds and “played strong.”