Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Members of Rock & Roll Heaven, Part Five

We mourn the loss of nearly 200 artists, musicians, songwriters, managers, record company owners and executives who died in 2016:

Jimmie Haskell (shown above, right, with Ricky Nelson), who won Grammys for arrangements of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode To Billie Joe", "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel and Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now", died February 4 at the age of 79 in Laguna Nigel, California.

All the strings you hear in some of your favorite songs are the work of Jimmie.  Haskell worked with hundreds of artists including Elvis Presley, Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow, Diana Ross, the Doobie Brothers, the Everly Brothers, the Moody Blues, Dan Fogelberg, Sheryl Crow, Steely Dan, Seals & Crofts, Glen Campbell, Rick Nelson, the Monkees, Bobby Darin, the Grass Roots, the Drifters, Blondie, B.B. King, Ambrosia, Bette Midler, Pat Boone, Dean Martin, Guy Mitchell, Pure Prairie League and Patti Page, just to name a few, and also wrote the theme song of the popular television show The Hollywood Squares.

One of Haskell's first assignment was arranging the backing music behind Ricky Nelson's #1 "Travelin' Man".

In 1967, Haskell was called upon to arrange the songs for an up-and-coming talent from Mississippi.  Bobbie Gentry gave us one of the classics for the ages.

Haskell first arranged for Simon & Garfunkel on their outstanding 1968 album Bookends.  "Mrs. Robinson" is one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.

Haskell's work also shines on the duo's song "America".

Haskell again worked with Simon & Garfunkel on their masterpiece Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1970.

Haskell provided the arrangements on this great song. 

Jimmy turned his attention to Chicago in 1976.

Haskell arranged for Billy Joel on his early albums Cold Spring Harbor and Piano Man.

He then worked with Steely Dan for three albums, providing the arrangements for the horns on "My Old School", among others..

After working for numerous other acts, Haskell provided orchestration for Barry Manilow's album Even Now.

In 1981, Haskell provided the horn and string arrangements for Blondie on their album Autoamerican.

Leon Haywood, singer who backed up Sam Cooke in the early '60s before becoming a recording artist, died April 5 in Los Angeles at the age of 74.

Haywood achieved his biggest career hit with "I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You" in 1975.

Fred Hellerman, member of the Weavers, who also worked with Joan Baez and produced Arlo Guthrie's famous "Alices' Restaurant Massacree", died September 1 at age 89 in Weston, Connecticut.

Guthrie's 18-minute long dialog recounts a story of when an 18-year-old Arlo spent Thanksgiving weekend in 1965 at a deconsecrated church, which was the home of two of his friends, Alice and Ray.  Alice did in fact own a restaurant, but other than being the subject of the chorus, none of the events involve the restaurant.

Guthrie volunteered to take the church's large amount of trash to the local dump, not realizing until he got there that it was closed.  When he took it to a cliff and dumped it off, he was arrested for littering, and the tale goes from there.  Many of the lyrics in the song are either true or describe events which actually occurred.

Preston Hubbard, the bassist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, died August 17, 2016 after a lengthy illness in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Thunderbirds are best known for their hit "Tuff (sic) Enough".

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