FAREWELL FRIENDS Music World Passings, 2008

In which we say
goodbye to some of the notables who moved us.

 

BY FRED MILLS

 

Last year brought its fare share of deaths in
the music world – among the giants, Isaac Hayes, Bo Diddley, Odetta and
Freddie Hubbard. Not to mention George Carlin, whose intersections with rock
‘n’ roll were frequent (and regardless, he should be remembered in any context). Study the list below,
meditate, and do a search for those names that aren’t immediately familiar.

 

These are just a sampling, as there are of course others who
left us in 2008. All brought a little extra light into this world, and your
personal policy should be this: tell a musician now how much he means to you, not after he or she is gone. You may
feel like you’re just mouthing the platitudes that the artist has heard many
times before, but trust me, on this one – every time they hear it, they will
appreciate it.

 

***

 

Following the list of passings is a remembrance of Isaac
Hayes originally penned for BLURT’s September digital magazine by producer and
former Stax Records engineer Terry Manning. It’s a vivid snapshot of a legend,
one we felt was well-worth reprinting here.

 

***

 

 

JANUARY

 

Henri Chopin 1-3

Drew Glackin (Silos) 1-5

Vampira 1-10

Dave Day (The Monks) 1-10

Bobby Ferrara 1-15

John Stewart (Kingston
Trio) 1-19

Sean Finnegan (Void) 1-30

 

 

FEBRUARY

 

Winston Walls 2-4

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 2-5

Freddie Bell 2-10

Jim Jones (Pere Ubu) 2-18

Teo Macero 2-19

Joe Gibbs 2-21

Larry Norman 2-24

Buddy Miles 2-26

Ray Kane 2-27

Mike Smith (Dave Clark Five) 2-28

Mike Conley (M.I.A.) 2-28

 

 

MARCH

 

Jeff Healey 3-2

Norman “Hurricane” Smith 3-3

Chuck Day 3-10

Barry “Byrd” Burton
(Amazing Rhythm Aces) 3-10

Martin Fierro 3-13

Mikey Dread 3-15

Klaus Dinger (Neu!) 3-21

Neil Aspinall 3-23

Sean Levert 3-30

 

 

APRIL

 

Wayne
“Frosty Freeze” Frost 4-3

Larry Brown (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes) 4-6

Phil Urso 4-7

Cedella Booker Marley 4-8

Sean Costello 4-15

Brian Davison (The Nice) 4-15

Clifford Davies (Ted Nugent) 3-15

Danny Federici (E Street Band) 4-17

Chris Gaffney (Hacienda Brothers, Dave Alvin) 4-17

Bebe Barron 3-20

Al Wilson 4-21

Paul Davis 4-22

Jimmy Giuffre 4-24

Mickey Waller (Rod Stewart) 4-29

 

 

MAY

 

Thomas Boggs (Box Tops) 5-5

Eddy Arnold 5-8

Dottie Rambo 5-10

Larry Levine 5-18

Jimmy McGriff 5-24

Utah
Phillips 5-24

Dick Martin 5-24

Sonny Okosun 5-24

Harvey Korman 5-29

 

 

JUNE

 

Alton
Kelley 6-1

Bo Diddley 6-2

George Carlin 6-22

 

 

JULY

 

Mel Galley (Whitesnake) 7-1

Natash Shneider 7-3

Jo Stafford 7-16

Roy Shirley 7-17

Artie Traum 7-20

Joe Beck 7-22

Hiram Bullock 7-25

Wendo “Papa Wendo” Kolosoy 7-28

 

 

AUGUST

 

Robert Hazard 8-5

Isaac Hayes 8-10

Jerry Wexler 8-15

Pervis Jackson (Spinners) 8-18

LeRoi Moore (Dave Matthews Band) 8-19

Phil Guy 8-20

Buddy Harmon 8-21

Jerry Reed 8-31

 

 

SEPTEMBER

 

Richard “Popcorn” Wylie 9-5

Hector Zazou 9-8

Jason Stuart (Hawkwind) 9-8

Rick Wright 9-15

Norman Whitfield 9-16

Earl Palmer 9-19

Nappy Brown 9-20

Paul Newman 9-26

 

 

OCTOBER

 

Nick Reynolds (Kingston
Trio) 10-1

Gidget Gein (Marilyn Manson) 10-8

Russ Hamilton 10-11

Edie Adams 10-15

Frankie Venom (Teenage Head) 10-15

Levi Stubbs 10-17

Alton Ellis 10-18

Dee Dee Warwick 10-18

Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite!) 10-19

Merl Saunders 10-27

Studs Terkel 10-31

Frank Navetta (Descendents) 10-31

 

 

NOVEMBER

 

Jimmy Carl Black 11-1

Yma Sumac 11-1

Miriam Makeba 11-10

Mitch Mitchell 11-12

MC Breed 11-22

Michael Lee (Robert Plant) 11-24

Richey Edwards (Manic Street Preachers, disappeared in 1995)
officially pronounced dead by court order 11-26

 

 

DECEMBER

 

Odetta 12-2

Elmer Valentine 12-3

Dennis Yost (Classics IV) 12-7

Bettie Page 12-12

John Byrne (Count Five) 12-15

Davey Graham 12-18

Eartha Kitt 12-25

Delaney Bramlett 12-27

Freddie Hubbard 12-29

 

 

***

 

MR. HAYES

 

 

By Terry Manning

 

Cutting his teeth as a
young engineer at Stax Records in the mid-1960s, Terry Manning worked with the
likes of Issac Hayes, Booker T. & the MG’s, Percy Sledge, Ike & Tina
Turner, Al Green, and The Staples Singers, eventually taking over Hayes’ old
office once the soul star moved upstairs to new, more spacious accommodations.

 

 

“That office actually
started its life as a bar and then became Isaac Hayes’ office and the place
where all the writers used to come hang out and write songs,” Manning explains.
“‘If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right’ was written there along
with a bunch of other great, classic soul songs. Isaac eventually got a bigger
office upstairs, but he left the piano. I used to sit down at it all the time
and think about all the great songs that were written right there.”

 

 

 

 

Many thought we were gathering for a “throw away” session.

 

 

After all, our protagonist wasn’t really known as an artist
around Stax.

 

 

He was a writer. A really good one.

 

 

He was a producer. Often uncredited, yes… but a very real
one.

 

 

He was a keyboard player. An extraordinarily talented one.

 

 

And he had arrived on the scene as a saxophonist.

 

 

But a true artist? No, that lofty perch was reserved for
others.

 

 

Plus, the guy had already released one album around our
place. But it hadn’t really done very much…it was seen more as a collection
of simple song demos, not as a real album. There had been no special
production, no coordinating theme. It was a throw away, a bone thrown to one of
our top writer-producer-musicians to help keep him happy.

 

 

Why should this time be any different?

 

 

 

 

Mr. Isaac Hayes always carried himself with authority and
grace. He was no small man, and when he came into the room, even before
becoming that true artist, you knew it. In fact, he had been playing live shows
at a couple of midtown Memphis
clubs, and had been developing a singular sound. Women in particular seemed to
be drawn to his long, soulful, sexy songs, with their long, articulate spoken
intros.

 

 

But none of this meant that he was a recording artist to be
reckoned with. After all, you couldn’t put such songs on an album. “Record”
songs were three minutes and ten seconds long.

 

 

 

 

The players arrived first, and started setting up. The
Bar-Kays. Michael, James, Willie. They had been playing with Ike in the clubs,
but even they didn’t really know what to expect on this session. I hustled
around as usual, setting up microphones, exchanging pleasantries with the guys.
Michael Toles had just bought one of my favourite guitars from me, a red
Telecaster into which I had installed a Gibson humbucking pickup. This would be
its first session under his control. He was excited about the prospect; I was
already lamenting the loss of my instrument.

 

 

Alan Jones, the Bar-Kays’ manager/producer, and co-producer
for this session, arrived next; we all knew about it before he even came
inside. He was out in the parking lot, just behind the control room window,
revving his Mustang engine loudly. He always did this…to “charge up his
battery.” Marvell Thomas was close behind, another co-producer, and no mean
keyboardist himself.

 

 

So with the stage set, with everyone in readiness, Al Bell,
producer, and Mr. Isaac Hayes,
Writer-Producer-Musician-but-not-yet-True-Artist, strode into the room.

 

 

Everyone loved Al; everyone loved Ike. There was such a
sense of family, of camaraderie within Stax. If memory serves well, it can be
said that all were friends, and all were good people. Especially Mr. Isaac
Hayes.

 

 

Isaac had such a lovely spirit about him. He just exuded
talent, exuded charm, but somehow he hadn’t let it go to his head. But we still
weren’t sure what kind of album we were going to make.

 

 

The Hammond
organ, Leslie speaker cabinet, and vocal microphone were set and ready; perhaps
they sensed what was about to come. I put a reel of tape on the Scully
eight-track machine, hit record, and Isaac started to play “By The Time I Get
To Phoenix.” Almost without knowing, the band realised that they were joining
in to a live-like, long, and building arrangement. It seemed to take forever
for something to “happen.” This wasn’t a three minute single!

 

 

As the music grew, the tension started to build in the
studio… Isaac spoke… the band followed his lead… emotion filled the room.
The long buildup gave me time to actually experiment in real time during the
actual recording… I madly patched things in, including a tape delay of the
reverb send to the EMT plate, recording the effects live to the master take. Then
I started to wonder… how long would this song go on? Was there enough tape to
capture the whole thing? I started to make a backup plan, ready to record a
live mixed version onto a stereo machine, should we approach the end of the
eight-track reel. Fortunately, that never (quite) happened.

 

 

But something magical did happen that night. Mr. Isaac Hayes
grew instantaneously into a True Artist. Hot
Buttered Soul
turned out to be one of those albums that touches the
collective souls of a gratified public. Certainly no one in the room that first
night had any doubt that something special was happening. It turned out that Isaac
had asked for, and received, final creative control. But he needn’t have
worried…Al Bell had been fully on board, once had he heard the concept.

 

 

Isaac Hayes of course went on to do far more in music. He
won an Oscar. He toured the world. He sold millions of albums and singles. He
became a Chef. He had his ups, and he did indeed have some downs as well. But
he always remained that larger-than-life, gentle soul; the man who spoke those
lyrics that night was the real man we knew. He felt his music, deeply.

 

 

All these years later, I can see that room clearly. A
beautiful man with a shaven head sits at the Hammond, playing, while softly speaking into
a Neumann U-87 microphone, building, building… only he knows when he will
break into song.

 

 

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