Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Members of Rock & Roll Heaven, Part 13

The losses in 2016 are almost unbearable.  It was a terrible, terrible year in many ways.  Join with us in remembering these greats, the new members of Rock & Roll Heaven*:

Elite guitarist Scotty Moore, who was behind most of Elvis Presley's hits, died June 28 in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 84.  Moore had been in poor health for several months.

Moore was the acknowledged bandleader of Elvis's group and became Presley's first manager in 1954 before Colonel Tom Parker took over.  Scotty also helped produce and aided in business decisions.  Moore played on Presley's first hit, "That's All Right", as well as his first release with RCA, the classic "Heartbreak Hotel".

It is apropos that we today recognize Scotty as one of The Top 100 Guitarists of the Rock Era*, as evidenced by his work on Presley's song "Blue Suede Shoes".

Moore, bassist Bill Black and drummer D.J. Fontana were the unsung heroes behind Presley, playing on The Top Double-Sided Hit* in history.

Scotty played the great guitar that helped this song go to #1 for 9 weeks.

Moore helped Elvis achieve 10 hits in 1956, before money disputes with Parker drove Moore and Black away.  "Jailhouse Rock" later in the year was one of Elvis's biggest.

Another song which features Moore's great guitar work is this #1 from 1961.

Andy Newman (center, above), the namesake of Thunderclap Newman died March 30 at age 73.

 Pete Townshend of the Who put this group together and believed in them.  Thundercap Newman didn't score a huge hit with this, but it's one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

Milt Okun, founder of Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company and producer of many acts including John Denver and Peter, Paul and Mary, died November 15 in Beverly Hills, California.

Okun, once a teacher in the New York public school system, became a singer, arranger and conductor with Harry Belafonte.

Peter, Paul & Mary scored one of their biggest career hits with this timeless song written by Bob Dylan.

In the early '60s, Okun produced for acts such as Denver, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Brothers Four and others.  Artists recording under Okun have won more than 75 Gold and Platinum records and Okun was nominated for 16 Grammys.

In addition to starting his own publishing company, Okun founded the Los Angeles Opera.  Great artists are not as good without a great producer, and Denver sure had one in Okun.  He did an amazing job with this song.

Okun did another great job with this Denver smash.

Okun, who had been in ill health for several years, was 92.

Rick Parfitt, guitarist for Status Quo, died December 24 in Marbella, Spain at the age of 68 from a severe infection resulting from a shoulder injury sustained recently.

Status Quo gave us the very underrated song "Pictures Of Matchstick Men".

Billy Paul died April 24 of pancreatic cancer in Blackwood, New Jersey at the age of 81.

Paul achieved a #1 hit in 1972 with "Me And Mrs. Jones".

Sandy Pearlman, producer, manager and lyricist for Blue Oyster Cult, died of pneumonia and complication from a stroke on July 26 in Marin County, California at age 72. 

The group is best known for their 1976 hit "Don't Fear The Reaper".

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