Awards and remembrances
The Recording Academy ended 2011 by bestowing Lifetime Achievement Awards on Glen Campbell, Antonio Carlos Jobim, George Jones, The Memphis Horns, Diana Ross, the late Gil Scott-Heron and The Allman Brothers Band.
The honor (and its accompanying Grammy award) comes at a time when the Allman band and its individual members are incredibly active as a whole and with their own projects.
The official Grammy press release said, “As pioneers of Southern rock, the Allman Brothers Band created a unique sound blending elements of blues, country, jazz and rock. The band achieved artistic and commercial success with hits such as “Whipping Post,” “Ramblin’ Man,” and “Jessica,” the latter having earned them a 1995 Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In 1995 the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
While the Allman’s have not had a really big record in recent years, their 1971 album “Live At Fillmore East” is arguably the best live album ever recorded. Duane Allman, the band’s creator (for lack of a better word), is still listed in Rolling Stone’s ranking of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time. When the list was published in 2003 he was ranked at #2, right behind Jimi Hendrix. This year, when the list was issued, he had dropped to #9, and this is a guy who died 40 years ago! Also making the list were the band’s current guitarist Derek Trucks at #16 and founding lead guitarist (with Duane Allman) Dickey Betts at #61. Surprisingly, the band’s other current guitarist, Warren Haynes, did not make the list, although he was ranked in 2003.
Gregg Allman’s solo blues album, “Low Country Blues,” was the #1 Blues Album of 2011 according to Billboard magazine. Derek Trucks and his wife Susan Tedeschi had the #2 Blues Album of 2011 with their disc “Revelator.” Warren Haynes also had a blues album released in 2011, “Man in Motion,” that did well on the blues chart.
Congratulations to The Allman Brothers Band and their ongoing endeavors. I am pleased to have had a small part in their early success.
At the end of the year, everybody makes lists. I always like to try to remember the musicians we lost during the past year, some due to just plain aging, while others make the list way too soon. You just never know how a year will turn out, and this year is really no difference.
We had the not-so-unexpected loss of Amy Winehouse last July, and you really hate to see a talent like that wasted and gone too soon. Also gone early was songwriter Nick Ashford, who with his wife Valerie Simpson were the creative duo of Ashford & Simpson. They wrote a lot of hits for other people and in the ‘70s started writing hits for themselves. Another early loss was Gerry Rafferty, once a member of the British pop band Stealer’s Wheel and then a solo artist with hits like “Baker Street” and “Night Owl” in the ‘80s. Not my favorite decade for music, but I was a big fan of Rafferty’s music and writing. There’s one that I will miss into the future. And just a few weeks ago, Dobie Gray passed away. He had a hit with “The in Crowd” in the ‘60s and scored again with “Drift Away” in the ‘70s. He lived in Nashville for about the last 15 years of his life.
Also lost last year were a couple of blues legends that many people won’t recognize, which is why I want to do it here. Hubert Sumlin was a tremendous blues guitarist who backed Howlin’ Wolf and was ranked in the aforementioned Rolling Stone Top 100 Greatest Guitarists, at #43. He spent 20 years on the road with Howlin’ Wolf and also sat in with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and the Allmans. He was 80 years old. The other blues legend lost was David “Honeyboy” Edwards at age 95, who was known as “the last of the great Mississippi Delta bluesmen.” He was also one of the last living links to blues great Robert Johnson. Edwards worked with just about every blues legend including Sonnyboy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightning Hopkins, Little Walters and others. He played his last gig just last April, in Mississippi.
Marshall Grant played bass early on with Johnny Cash in his band the Tennessee Two. He later went on to manage the Statler Brothers. Ferlin Husky had big hits like “Gone” and “Wings of a Dove” in the 1950s. He was 85. Carl Gardner was one of the founders of The Coasters who died this year at age 83. Dan Peek was a founder of America and was only 60 when he died this year. Jerry Lieber wrote great songs with partner Mike Stoller, like “Jail House Rock” and many others. Lieber was 78.
Other musical deaths in 2011 included E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemmens, country music and Grand Ole Opry great Charlie Louvin, disco queen Andrea True (“More, More, More”), jazz great Gil Scott-Heron, West Virginia bluegrass queen Hazel Dickens, Rapper Heavy D, jazz drummer Paul Motian, jazz violinist Billy Bang, the mother of Hip Hop and owner of Sugarhill Records, Sylvia Robinson, British punk pioneer Poly Styrene, and Gladys Horton, a member of Motown’s Marvelletts (“Mr. Postman”).
I wish you all a very happy, safe and musical New Year and I look forward to ranting on about music next in 2012.
Peter Frampton, where are you?
When “Rolling Stone” picked its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, only 18 were live recordings. Here’s the magazine’s top 10 in that category:
Live at the Apollo James Brown (#25 on overall list)
At Fillmore East The Allman Brothers Band (#49)
At Folsom Prison Johnny Cash (#88)
Live at the Regal B.B. King (#141)
Alive! Kiss (#158)
Live at Leeds The Who (#169)
Happy Trails Quicksilver Messenger Service (#189)
Wheels of Fire Cream (#203)
Live/Dead Grateful Dead (#241)
Kick Out the Jams MC5 (#290)