RSS

Tag Archives: RIP

Otis Clay

Last of the last…

Years ago, when you listened to black radio, and crossed the Mason Dixon Line on the way South – the artists and type of Soul Music you heard was quite different. Singers  like Mrs Jody, Billy Soul Bonds,  Denise LaSalle, Ronnie Lovejoy, and Willie Clayton did’t quite translate in terms of mass popularity, despite singers like Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis becoming very popular.

Otis Clay, Hall Of Fame Rhythm And Blues Singer, Dies At 73

“Otis was the last standard-bearer for deep southern soul music.”

Hall of fame rhythm and blues artist Otis Clay, known as much for his big heart and charitable work in Chicago as for his singing internationally, died Friday. He was 73.

The Mississippi-born Clay – whose gruff, tenor-tinged voice on blues songs such as “Trying to Live My Life Without You” varied from his haunting but hopeful baritone on gospel standards like “When the Gates Swing Open” – died suddenly of a heart attack at 6:30 p.m., said his daughter, Ronda Tankson.

The one-time Grammy nominee had a year of touring planned behind recent records and recognition at May’s 37th Blues Music Awards, manager Miki Mulvehill said. Clay is nominated for Soul-Blues Male Artist and Soul-Blues Album for “This Time for Real,” his collaboration with Billy Price.

“Otis was the last standard-bearer for deep southern soul music, the really gospel-inflected music that was in its heyday in the late ’60s and early and mid ’70s,” Price told The Associated Press on Saturday. “These styles change, and different styles are in the forefront, but Otis was just as strong in the past five years … For that reason, he was an icon for a lot of us who work in this genre.”

European music enthusiasts and record-collectors flock to Clay’s music because of its spare, “unvarnished” style wrought of the 1960s soul scenes in Memphis, Tennessee and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Price said.

A 2013 Blues Hall of Fame inductee who moved to blues-steeped Chicago in 1957, Clay had just begun planning a gospel tour of the U.S., followed by a summer European tour and, later, the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, Mulvehill said. His latest album is called, “Truth Is.”

But Clay was much more than a talented musician. A resident of Chicago’s West Side, he was an avid humanitarian whose charitable works included assisting development of the Harold Washington Cultural Center.

“Otis was the first one to jump on the ‘Can I help?’ train,” Mulvehill said.

Tankson, a Chicago special education teacher whose pupils include autistic children, said her father gave little thought to what benefit he’d get from performing and held nothing back, even when appearing for her students.

“He sang to them as if they paid and he was on stage,” Tankson said.

Friends and co-workers of Tankson’s, whom Clay had never met, repeatedly asked if he would sing “When the Gates Swing Open” at loved ones’ funerals. “He never let me down on that,” she said, adding that he once delayed a recording-session trip to Memphis to comply.

Clay was born Feb. 11, 1942 in Waxhaw, Mississippi, to a musical and religious family, according to his online biography. After his arrival in Chicago, he joined the Golden Jubilaires, and in 1960 became part of Charles Bridges’ Famous Blue Jay Singers, performing a cappella at schools and hotels.

“We were known as variety singers, or we were billed as (performing) ‘Old Negro Spirituals and Plantation Melodies,'” Clay said in his biography.

His recording debut came in 1965 with the rousing ballad, “Flame in Your Heart.” Four decades later, in 2007, he was nominated for a Grammy for the gospel CD, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Natalie Cole

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 1, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Earl Scruggs

May seem a bit strange that a black urban guy likes Bluegrass – but I come by it honestly. My Dad was a West Virginia “Hillbilly” who listened to Bluegrass every Sunday on the radio when one of the local AM stations did a special show. And I am not ashamed to say that as a kid I enjoyed the hell out of trekking up and down those hills when we went to visit that side of the family – and have been known to take a trip up there when in need of a little solitude and reevaluation.

There are Master Musicians, and when you listen to them – it really doesn’t matter what the style of music is. Earl Scruggs 3 finger down Banjo style that he invented is used now by about 80% of the people who play Banjo.

Here’s an original Earl Scruggs/Lester Flatt piece from the 40’s –

Earl Scruggs remembered by Dierks Bentley, Steve Martin

 It may be impossible to overstate the importance of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs to American music. A pioneering banjo player who helped create modern country music, his sound is instantly recognizable and as intrinsically wrapped in the tapestry of the genre as Johnny Cash’s baritone or Hank Williams’ heartbreak.

Scruggs died Wednesday morning at age 88 of natural causes. The legacy he helped build with bandleader Bill Monroe, guitarist Lester Flatt and the rest of the Blue Grass Boys was evident all around Nashville, where he died in an area hospital. His string-bending, mind-blowing way of picking helped transform a regional sound into a national passion. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: