Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy Birthdays: George Martin, Stephen Stills, Van Dyke Parks, John Paul Jones...and Mr. Frodo

...It’s the birthday of native Londoner George Martin (1926) who’s renown in the music world stems primarily from his work as the producer of the Beatles circa 1962 – 1969…an auspicious chance meeting with a Liverpudlian band manager Brian Epstein who sang the high praises of this quartet in his artist stable led to Martin’s signing the four lads to his label…Though Martin has also worked with such diverse talents as Peter Sellers, Ella Fitzgerald, the rock band America and singers Peter Gabriel and Celine Dion, his Beatles affiliation helped make him the most successful producer in the recording game…’s also the day that Van Dyke Parks came screaming into the world in 1941. Born in Hattiesburg, MS, Parks was a child prodigy who majored in music at the Carnegie Institute and U Penn, a year after he graduated, he was signed to MGM where he cut a marginally successfull single called “Come into the Sunshine” which forced him to form a proper band to perform with but nothing else caught on and the outfit disbanded. After doing session work with Anthony and Cleopatra (later Sonny and Cher), Paul Revere and the Raiders and artists like the Byrds, Judy Collins and Tim Buckley, it was producer Terry Melcher, who hooked parks up with many of the session gigs mentioned earlier, who introduced him to the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson who was searching for a lyricist that was as gifted at writing words as he was at composing—Parks fit the bill and the result: the SMiLE LP…Later, Van Dyke was signed to Warner Bros. by producer Lenny Waronker and helped the A/R man realize his vision for the label…Parks made his debut with the LP Song Cycle, (pictured above)an eclectic mixture of American genres that, despite modest commercial returns, would influence many a recording artist who would follow…the album’s still in print…

...a happy birthday shout-out to Buffalo Springfield and CSN member Stephen Stills who was born in Dallas, TX today…After dropping out of college, he shot up to NYC to become a folk singer, he joined forces with Richie Foray which lead to a tour of Canada where he met guitarist Neil Young who was in an opening act called the Esquires at the time…Stills eventually re-located here, to Los Angeles, where the folk rock scene was picking gaining traction, and after auditioning for session work (and a spot as one of TV’s The Monkees) he got together with Young (who had moved to town after his group, the Mynah Birds which featured the future Punk-funkster Rick James failed to make any waves at their Motown label), Bruce Palmer (bass) and drummer Dewey Martin to form an act that would eventually become Buffalo Springfield—Stephen’s “For What it’s Worth” would make them all stars but within two years the group dissolved…as fate would have it, an impromptu jam session, expedited by Mama Cass Elliott of the Mama’s and the Papas, with David Crosby (formerly of the Byrds) and Graham Nash (formerly of the Hollies) lead to the formation of Crosby,Stills & Nash who’s eponymous debut album blew up, initially based on the popularity of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” which Stills wrote in homage to folk singer Judy Collins…’s also the birthday of another London native, John Paul Jones who was continued


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