Thursday, June 30, 2016

RIP: Wayne Jackson/Bernie Worrell/Ralph Stanley/Freddy Powers

Wayne Jackson - As a member of the Mar-Keys, Jackson was one of a handful of musicians who played on every Stax record that featured a horns.  The Mar-Keys themselves had one Pop Top 40 hit in 1961, "Last Night" (#3).  In 1969, Jackson along with fellow Mar-Keys horn player Andrew Love named themselves the Memphis Horns and left Stax.  From there the duo played on tons of hit records for Al Green, Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond, U2, Robert Cray, etc.  Jackson spent his last years writing an autobiography and giving personal tours of the Stax museum.  Andrew Love died in 2012.

If the Rock Hall cared about the Sideman category at all (last inductees were in 2009 under that name), then acts like the Memphis Horns, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, the Meters and others would be rightfully inducted.

Bernie Worrell  - Worrell was a virtuoso keyboardist who, along with George Clinton, was a founding member of Parliament/Funkadelic.  While P-Funk is his legacy, Worrell also played on Talking Heads albums and tours in the 80's and his keyboard is featured on plenty of session work.  Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock in 1997.  Here's a little trivia:  what keyboardist from a Prog band that critics dismissed in the 70's was a big influence on Worrell?  Yes, the late great Keith Emerson.

Ralph Stanley - Thanks to his version of "O Death" in Brother, Where Art Thou, Ralph Stanley had one of the best late career resurgences.  But his Bluegrass/Old Timey musical legacy was already cemented by then.  First as a member of the Clinch Mountain Boys with his brother Carter, then cutting classic sides with him as the Stanley Brothers. Eventually, Stanley used the Clinch Mountain Boys name again.  The newer version included Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley.  In the last couple of decades he became the Bluegrass elder statesman.  Still touring and making records.
Amazingly, not a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, despite influencing many in that genre.

Freddie Powers - Powers is one of those behind the scenes artists that always fascinate me.  He's best known for co-writing a bunch of Merle Haggard hits in the 80's.  Powers own music was a mix of Country Jazz and he added that flavor to Haggard's 80's songs.  He also played in Willie Nelson's band and  produced one of his albums in 1981, and during that decade had hits with other Country singers.  Quick note:  Powers wrote what might be my favorite non-Haggard single of the 80's:  "Friend In California" which was a #9 hit in 1986.

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