Saturday, December 5, 2009

Music Legends (gone but not forgotten)

Here's another great article from my friend from 'down under':

By Donald J.Kay

Planes, trains, and automobiles. All modes of transport. But, one in particular has robbed the music world of some of our biggest stars, the plane. Great names like Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, John Denver and more recently Aaliyah, have all sadly been taken from us in plane crashes, many have been caused by inclement weather.

The earliest reported case was that of American band leader, Glenn Miller, killed in December 15, 1944. Miller was on a plane going from England to Paris, when his aircraft was bombed in midair by the allies. Other theories exist, but haven’t been proven. Miller left us with great music memories such as” Tuxedo Junction” and “In the Mood, “ to name just two from his enormous catalogue.

Just three years later, January 26, 1947, American singer, Grace Moore would lose her life when the plane she was on, climbed to an altitude of 150 feet, and then stalled, crashing to the ground. On October 1, 1949, Buddy Clark died when his plane crashed on to the street in Los Angeles. Memorable hits were “I’ll Dance at Your Wedding “and “A Dreamer’s Holiday”

February 3, 1959 would go on to be a memorable day in music history. It was the day that three big icons in the music world would sadly leave us. Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and finally Richie Valens. Legends in their own right, they left us with great tracks like “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday” “Chantilly Lace,” “La Bamba” and “Donna.” Their music is still played and loved today.

In March 5 1963, Country music star with the golden voice, Patsy Cline was tragically killed when her plane went down in Tennesee, due to weather conditions. Memorable hits were” Crazy” and” Walking after Midnight” to name just two. On the same day, Cowboy Copas, lost his life in a plane wreck. His posthumous country hit was” Goodbye Kisses.” Also on March 5,1963, Hawkshaw Hawkins (41), perished in the same plane wreck that claimed the lives of Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. His best known track is the Ernest Tubb song” Lonesome 7-7203.”

In 1964, July 31, 1964, to be precise, “Gentleman” Jim Reeves would perish while piloting his own craft in Tennessee during a thunderstorm. Memorable hits include “He’ll Have To Go” and “I Love You Because.” Tragedy struck again on October 23,1964 with the death of David Box, who replaced Buddy Holly and sang lead vocal on the Crickets' track” Peggy Sue Got Married.”

The music world settled down for the next three years, until the untimely death of Soul man Otis Redding and four members of the Barkays, who were killed in Madison, Wisconsin on December 10, 1967. Weather conditions were the main factor involved. His hits included a riveting version of the Stones, “Satisfaction” and his biggest is “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”

September 20, 1973 would see the demise of one Jim Croce, famous for the songs “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” among others. He died when the plane he was on failed to gain enough altitude on takeoff from Louisiana Airport. He was only 30 years old.

In October 20, 1977, three members of rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd were lost to the music world. Their plane encountered mechanical and fuel problems. Members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines, all lost their lives. At the time of their deaths, their new album “Street Survivors” got withdrawn because the cover depicted the band surrounded by flames. The group’s most memorable track “Sweet Home Alabama” is still played on radio today and is an all time favourite.

March 19, 1982 saw Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhodes plane crash into a house after a wing clipped Ozzy’s Tour bus. He was 25. The last album he played on was “Diary of a Madman” released in 1981. Canadian, Stan Rogers (33) lost his life in June 2, 1983, when fire broke out in the restroom onboard the Air Canada flight in Cincinnati. He along with 23 other people died of smoke inhalation.

Next in this list of music greats, is the late Rick Nelson who died December 31, 1985. Rick and his fiancĂ©e were both killed after fire broke out on board a DC-3, while enroute to a New Years Eve performance in Dallas. The son of Ozzie and Harriet, from the 50’s TV show had heaps of hits. Most notably were ”Travelin’Man” and “Garden Party.” He also made numerous TV and movie appearances.

October 22, 1986 saw singer, actress and radio personality, Jane Dornacker (39) die, riding in a helicopter, doing a live traffic report, while flying over the Hudson River. Jane was best known as the sultry voice on The Tubes hit “Don’t Touch Me There.” Another famous son was Dean Paul (Dino) Martin, son of Dean Martin, who died on March 21, 1987.  He was a one time member of Dino, Desi, And Billy, who charted with “Not the Loving Kind.”

Bluesman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was touted as being the ‘new’ Hendrix, was killed in a helicopter crash August 27, 1990 in Wisconsin.  Heavy fog causing bad visibility, plus the fact that the pilot couldn’t gain proper altitude contributed to his untimely death. He was 35 and best remembered for albums such as “Texas Flood” and “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.”

On March 16, 1991, seven members of Reba McEntires’ band and her manager all lost their lives near San Diego when their plane crashed in mountainous terrain, killing all passengers. Top albums by Reba include, “My Kinda Country” and the album recorded, as a result of the accident,” For My Broken Heart.”

Walter Hyatt, of Uncle Watt’s Band, died when the ValuJet he was on crashed into the Everglades on May 11, 1996. He was 46. His last known album was “Music Town”, recorded for Sugar Hill Records. Country singer John Denver succumbed to an early death, in October 12, 1997, when his single engine plane crashed near Monterey, California. Modifications to the planes controls were the contributing factor, leading to his death. Some of his biggest selling albums are “Rocky Mountain High” and “Back Home Again,” among others.

September 25, 1999 saw the loss of Ozark Mountain Daredevils member Stephen Canaday, killed when the vintage plane he was on crashed into a house in Nashville. He was 55. One of the biggest hits for the Ozarks was “Jackie Blue,” a top 10 hit globally. January 8, 2000 saw the death of Grinderswitch guitarist, Joe Dan Petty (52), killed when the plane he was on reported fuel line problems in Macon, Georgia. Grinderswitch recorded several albums for Capricorn and Atlantic labels.

August 25, 2001 would mark the demise of R&B star, Aaliyah, killed, when her plane, while leaving the Bahamas, crashed during takeoff. Tests showed that the pilot had traces of drugs and alcohol in his body, plus the plane was overloaded, contributing to the accident. Best remembered for her debut album “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” and her last self-titled album. She was 22 years old. Graham (Shirley) Strachan, from the Australian band, Skyhooks, was killed in a helicopter accident in August 29, 2001. The crash occurred at Mount Alexander at 4pm in the afternoon. He is best remembered for classic hits such as “All My Friends Are Getting Married” and “Blue Jeans. He was 49. Melanie Thornton (34), died in Zurich, aboard a plane carrying 33 passengers on November 24, 2001. She was lead singer with the group La Bouche, who had success with a track called “Sweet Dreams.”

On February 12, 2009, two members of Chuck Mangione’s band were killed in Buffalo, New York. Killed were Gerry Niewood, and Coleman Mellet. Mangione’s best remembered track is “Feels So Good.” In closing, it’s safe to say that whilst these great artists will be sadly missed by all music lovers, there’s one thing that can be positively stated - their music will live on and on and on.

Back in rotation: vinyl sales set for record year

Ian Munroe, News Staff

Carlin Nicholson is itching to get his hands on the test pressing, or vinyl prototype, of his band's debut album. It's currently being mastered in Los Angeles and should arrive next week, he said.

In a few months, the 12-track LP by Zeus, Nicholson's Toronto-based rock band, will be released in North America, Japan and Europe through indie music label Arts & Crafts.

In keeping with the band's preferred medium, the vinyl LP will hit store shelves two weeks ahead of the compact disc. And the downloadable version of the album will be recorded from vinyl master, making the tracks sound more like a good old fashioned record.

"Really, we've been looking forward to vinyl the whole time," Nicholson said by phone from a recording studio in the city's east end. "If it's about listening to music, then it's got to be about music that sounds as good as it can."

Thanks to devoted fans of vinyl LPs in the indie music scene, and to DJs who have been spinning electronic music or hip hop on their turntables, the record has survived on the fringes of the music industry for years.

But that may be changing as artists, listeners, technology companies and record labels come back around to the music format that dominated the 20th century.

Yearly vinyl sales are on course to surpass 2008's total by 37 per cent, according to Nielsen Soundscan, which tracks music sales at 14,000 vendors across Canada and the U.S.

Last month, Soundscan announced that vinyl LP sales broke the two million mark for the first time since the company started keeping tabs in 1991.

The market may be significantly larger, however, because Soundscan excludes many independently owned retailers that stock vinyl, as well as second-hand sales.

'Obsessive' listeners

Brian Zirk has been listening to records for decades. About three years ago he decided to beef up his collection, now 3,000 strong, by searching his Vancouver Island community, and the Internet, for anyone selling used rock, jazz and blues records.

"It's quite obsessive. Always looking for that perfect sound I guess," Zirk said in a phone interview from Campbell River, B.C., where he runs an audio-video equipment store.  The 50-year-old owns several turntables and eschews the MP3 format, describing it as "the scourge of the world" because it offers inferior sound.

"There's more colourations to the vinyl," he added. "It's a better way of listening, it's more personal."

Catering to the small but growing base of consumers with Zirk's tastes, manufacturers are bringing new turntables to market.

"Certainly in recent years there's been an upswing in sales," said

Simon Wilson, the manager at Audio Ark, an Edmonton store that sells audio and video systems. "Quite possibly we stock a greater variety of turntables than we did back in vinyl's heyday."

To stand out from the competition, some newer models come with USB ports, allowing vinyl fans to connect the turntable to their computer and digitize their collection.

"There seems to be a growing number of younger people who are getting interested in the format," Wilson wrote in an email. "It's almost as if they're content with the iPod for digital but, at least presently, make a stronger connection with the whole ritual of playing a record."

Turning the tables

When the compact disc was introduced in 1982, it seemed like the writing on the beginning of the end for vinyl LPs. And as recently as 2006, vinyl sales were dropping steadily.

Canada lost its only remaining commercial record press two years later, when the long-time operator of a plant in Pickering, Ont., retired.

"We were having trouble finding someone to take over physically running the operation," said Lindsay Gillespie, president of Music Manufacturing Service, which owned the factory.

Then vinyl sales started to rebound, and a new vinyl press called Rip-V opened in the Montreal suburb of St. Lambert, Que. It's currently pressing a new live album by Tom Waits.

Meanwhile, CD sales dropped more than 20 per cent in Canada last year, according to the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

Even though vinyl still makes up a tiny fraction of the overall market for music, devotees are asking whether their beloved analog medium will outlive, or even help bring down the CD.

Staff at Rotate This, a music store in downtown Toronto that arguably has the largest vinyl selection in the city, estimates they now move at least 10 records for every compact disc.

Vinyl sales at Vancouver's Zulu records are up at least 30 per cent compared to a few years ago, and are now on par with CD sales, the store's general manager, Nicholas Bragg, told CTV.

"A lot of record labels are thinking, 'well, we've got to make up these losses that we're incurring with CD sales,' and I think that they've looked to the niche market of records," Bragg said.

"In some ways (records) are going to become the most vital part of the market, because it's analog and because it represents something different than the MP3 format," he added. "I've got to be frank -- it's cool, too."