Categotry Archives: Musicians


Edward Patten


Categories: Musicians

Edward Roy Patten, a member of the Grammy Award-winning R&B group Gladys Knight & The Pips, died on Feb. 25 from complications of a stroke. He was 65.
The Atlanta native had music in his soul. He grew up singing in his church and accompanying local doo-wop groups. In 1959, Patten’s cousin, Gladys Knight, invited him to join her singing group. Together with her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight, and cousin William Guest, the extended family formed the R&B quartet known as The Pips. Their 1961 debut, “Every Beat of My Heart,” hit #1 on the R&B chart and #6 on the pop chart. The following year, however, a small record company encouraged the group to give Gladys’ name more prominence.
Gladys Knight & The Pips moved to Detroit in 1966 and became a staple of the Motown line-up. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the group scored Top 40 hits with “Friendship Train,” “It Should Have Been Me,” “The End of Our Road,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “Neither One of Us” and the original version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Patten sang bass and tenor for the group and choreographed many of its stylish dance routines.
In 1973, Gladys Knight & The Pips switched to Buddah Records and attained superstardom on pop and R&B radio stations with “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” The group continued performing into the 1980s and won four Grammy Awards before disbanding. Gladys Knight & The Pips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
In recent years, Patten co-founded Crew Records. He worked as a back-up vocalist to the label’s recording artists until 1995 when a series of strokes robbed him of his ability to sing.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
The Best of Gladys Knight & the Pips Download MP3s From Gladys Knight & The Pips


Rachel Bissex


Categories: Musicians

rbissex.jpgRachel Bissex, an award-winning folk singer and songwriter, died on Feb. 20 from complications of breast cancer. She was 48.
Raised in Newton, Mass., Bissex was 13 when her mother gave her a $35 guitar. Using instruction books penned by Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary, she taught herself to play the instrument and write music. Bissex earned a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Johnson State College in 1982, then moved to Burlington, Vt. She delved into the town’s burgeoning music scene and founded the Burlington Coffee House, a local venue for contemporary folk artists, and the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.
Over the next two decades, Bissex developed a loyal following on the folk festival circuit. She recorded five albums, opened for artists such as Joan Armatrading, Ray Charles and Shawn Colvin, and played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her latest record, “In White Light,” featured orchestral arrangements of her music performed by the Vermont Youth Orchestra. Bissex won the Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Award and the Wildflower Songwriting Contest. In 2001, she was a finalist in the Telluride Troubadour Contest and received an honorable mention in the Billboard Song Competition.
In recent years, Bissex delved into other creative pursuits. She acted in the 2004 film “Nothing Like Dreaming,” and directed the play “Sun Spot: The Crime of the Need to Be Right,” which was written by her husband, playwright Stephen Goldberg. Bissex is survived by Goldberg and their two children, Emma and Matt.
Rachel Bissex Download MP3s by Bissex


John Raitt

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Categories: Actors, Hollywood, Musicians

John Emmett Raitt, the legendary Broadway musical star who created the role of Billy Bigelow in the original production of “Carousel,” died on Feb. 20 from complications of pneumonia. He was 88.
The California native began to develop his deep baritone voice in his teens. He studied physical education at the University of Southern California and the University of Redlands, but also sang at Rotary Club luncheons and church functions. Raitt made his professional debut in 1940 as a chorus singer with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. Within five years, he became the company’s star, tackling lead roles in “The Barber of Seville” and “Carmen.”
In 1944, Raitt received an invitation to travel to New York City and audition for the role of Curly in “Oklahoma!” After four days on the train, he raced to the St. James Theater and requested a few minutes to warm up. When Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II acquiesced, Raitt launched into a rousing rendition of Figaro’s aria from “The Barber of Seville,” then performed all of Curly’s songs from “Oklahoma!” After a few moments of stunned silence, Rodgers and Hammerstein hired the talented singer to play the part in the show’s national touring company.
That audition left a strong impression on Hammerstein. When he and Rodgers began working on their second collaboration, “Carousel,” Hammerstein composed the seven-minute-long “Soliloquy” for Raitt. On opening night in 1945, Raitt made his Broadway debut as Bigalow, a ne’er-do-well carnival barker. His performance wowed the audience and earned him the Drama Critics Award and the Donaldson Award.
After a long run in “Carousel,” Raitt appeared in the Broadway productions of “Magdalena,” “Three Wishes for Jamie” and “Carnival in Flanders.” The hardworking performer then toured with Mary Martin in “Annie Get Your Gun,” and headlined in “South Pacific,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Kismet,” “Shenandoah,” “Zorba” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Playing Sid Sorokin in the musical comedy “The Pajama Game,” he missed only one out of 1,060 performances. Raitt reprised the role in the 1957 film adaptation opposite Doris Day.
Raitt’s marriages to Marjorie Haydock and Kathleen Smith Landry ended in divorce, but his third union to high school sweetheart Rosemary Kraemer lasted until his death. Raitt had three children — two sons, Steven and David, and a daughter, Grammy Award-winning blues singer and guitarist Bonnie Raitt. He and Bonnie occasionally performed duets together and were particularly fond of singing the songs “Blowing Away” and “Hey, There.”
Raitt continued performing into his 80s, touring the country with his one-man show, “An Evening With John Raitt,” and was inducted into the New York Theater Hall of Fame in 1993. He released the album, “Broadway Legend,” in 1995, and received a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles Critics Circle three years later. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 6126 Hollywood Blvd.
On Feb. 22, the lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor.
Playlist from IBDb
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
Watch Raitt and Shirley Jones Perform at the Kennedy Center
Oklahoma! Download “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” From “Oklahoma!”


Tyrone Davis


Categories: Musicians

tdavis.jpgTyrone Davis, a suave soul singer who placed 43 songs in the R&B charts between 1968 and 1988, died on Feb. 9 of pneumonia. He was 66.

The Mississippi native was just a teenager when he moved to Chicago in 1959. Davis toiled at a factory during the day and spent his evenings honing his smooth vocal style. Years of performing in the city’s west- and south-side blues clubs led to a record deal with the Four Brothers label and a job working for blues guitarist Freddie King as a valet and chauffeur.

“Tyrone the Wonder Boy” moved to Dakar Records in 1968 and found a national audience with the single, “Can I Change My Mind.” The song topped the R&B charts, and became a No. 5 pop hit. In the 1970s, the baritone scored other R&B hits with “Turn Back the Hands of Time” and “Turning Point.”

Davis continued to record albums and tour the club circuit through the 1980s and 1990s. In 1998, the master of soul ballads received the Pioneer Award from the R&B Foundation. His last album, “Legendary Hall of Famer,” was released in October, a month after a stroke forced him to retire. Davis remained hospitalized until his death.

Tyrone Davis Download MP3s by Tyrone Davis


June Bronhill


Categories: Musicians

jbronhill.jpg   Australian opera star June Bronhill died in her sleep on Jan. 24. Cause of death was not released. She was 75.

Born June Gough in Broken Hill, New South Wales, she took piano and vocal lessons throughout her childhood. After winning a singing competition in 1950, June changed her last name to Bronhill to honor the people of her hometown, who raised £1,500 to send her overseas.

Bronhill made her debut in 1954 at Sadler’s Wells Opera Company in London as Adele in “Die Fledermaus.” Four years later, she received a 20 minute standing ovation on opening night for her performance in Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow.” Despite her small stature — she was barely five feet tall — Bronhill’s vibrant personality and clear voice could fill an entire opera house.

For four decades, the coloratura soprano performed in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Bronhill regularly appeared on the British Broadcasting Corp. show “Friday Night Is Music Night,” but was best known for her roles in the operas “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “The Magic Flute,” “The Cunning Little Vixen,” “Rigoletto,” “Don Pasquale” and “The Sound of Music.” She sang on 30 operetta albums, most of which are currently out of circulation. However, several of Bronhill’s early London recordings were re-released in 2004.

For her contributions to the music industry, Bronhill was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1976. An auditorium and a street in Broken Hill were also named in her honor.

Bronhill suffered from breast cancer in the 1980s, then steadily lost her hearing. Robbed of her music and the ability to perform, the gregarious singer was forced to retire in 1993. Bronhill married twice and had one daughter.

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