RIP – BRIDIE GALLAGHER


EXPIRED: 01/09/12 – Bridie Gallagher, 87,  was Ireland’s 1st international pop star.

In Belfast she shot to fame in 1956 with a recording of “A Mother’s Love’s A Blessing” and found global adulation with her rendition of “The Boys From County Armagh” and “The Homes of Donegal.”

While her career lasted over 60 years, there were some low moments. In 1976 her 21-year old son was killed in a motorcycle accident. That same year she released her last single, “Just Like Your Daddy.” Still, she kept on performing.

Known as “The Girl from Donegal,” Gallagher holds the record for the largest number of people in attendance in London’s Royal Albert Hall, a record that can never be topped now that it’s an all-seating venue.

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RIP – CESARIA EVORA


EXPIRED: 12/17/11 – Cesaria Evora, 70, was 10 years old when she was given to an orphanage in the Cape Verde Islands, off of West Africa. At 16, she started singing in a tavern popular with sailors. She was also rowed out to anchored ships to sing for those who couldn’t make it to land.

There was no pay – just free drinks. And she drank – cognac – lots of it.  Known as the “Barefoot Diva” because she always performed without shoes, she sang “morna,” the traditional music of the region. She mostly sang in the version of creole spoken there, but even those who couldn’t understand the lyrics were moved by her voice.

In 1988 she recorded “La Diva Aux Pieds Nus” (“Barefoot Diva”), which launched  her international career. Then in 1995, her album “Cesaria” brought her first Grammy nomination, and an international tour.

But it was in 2003, 54 years after she started singing in local bars for booze, that she won a Grammy in World Music category for her album “Voz D’Amor.”

This past September she retired due to health problems. Retirement didn’t last long.

 

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RIP – JOHN MAKIN


EXPIRED: 10/23/11 – John Makin, 61, left his home in Liverpool, England to find work in Brussels back in the 1970s. He was a property surveyor and a amatuer songwriter. In 1976, he switched to music full time with the release of his first album “Urban Romance” under the stage name Mister John.

It was a modest success. But nothing like his 1998 hit. Back then the country was burdened with a child abduction and pedophile case and was extremely distressed. Mister John released a new album with a throwaway song called “”Potverdekke!”  It was a cheerful song about the Belgian identity and all the great things that Belgium has to offer. It’s chorus, “It’s great to be a Belgian,” lifted spirits just a little.

The Belgian Press,TV and Radio, in characteristic amazement that anybody, especially an obscure Liverpool-born songwriter, could be saying positive things about their much-maligned country, gave the song all the encouragement it deserved to help it to Number 6 in the National Hit Parade. It stayed on the Belgian pop charts for 26 weeks and John Makin became a nationwide celebrity, performing the song at the celebrations for the Belgian National Holiday.

“As I walk along the street with my mayonnaise and frites
You can tell I’m as happy as can be
It’s a shame about the weather but we all live together
In peace and bilingual harmony”

Not bad for an ex-pat from Liverpool.

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RIP – VESTA WILLIAMS


EXPIRED: 09/22/11 – Vesta Williams, 53,  was the the daughter of a disc jockey, so of course music was in her blood.  In 1977, she sang in the girl group Wild Honey but left her home in Ohio to give it a go in LA as a session singer, and got work singing backup for Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Stephanie Mills, Gordon Lightfoot, Bobby Womack, The Commodores, Jermaine Jackson, Ray Parker, Jr., and Anita Baker.

Her reputation got her signed to A&M Records, who released her debut album, Vesta, in 1986. It gave her a Top 10 R&B hit “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, which was all about vampires, strangely.

Top 10 R&B hits included “Sweet Sweet Love,” “Congratulations” and “Special,” although she never made it past #55 on the Hot 100 charts.

Subsequent albums, Vesta 4 U, Special, Everything-N-More, and 1998’s Relationships were modest successes but she was dropped by her label in 2000.

After being dropped from her label Williams went into a deep depression and filled the hole with food. She ballooned to a size 26. Thinking that her image was the problem, not her voice, she went on a crazy diet regime in the late 2000’s and dropped back to a size 6.

Her last recording was “Dedicated,” released via YouTube in 2010. Her label was not very dedicated to promoting it and it died a quick death.

Less than a year later, Williams was found dead in a hotel room in El Segundo, California, the victim of an accidental drug overdose.

 

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RIP – DAN PEEK


EXPIRED: 07/24/11 – Dan Peek, 60, formed America, the band, in 1970 and wrote four of their Top 100 hits including “Lonely People,” “Woman Tonight,” and “Today’s The Day.” But he partied too hard and left in ’77 to become a Christian singer. His solo album, All Things Are Possible, proved otherwise — at least as far as hitmaking was concerned.

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RIP – ROB GRILL


EXPIRED: 07/11/11 – Rob Grill, 67, graduated from Hollywood High and was almost immediately recruited into The Grass Roots. With Grill as bassist and vocalist the band went on to chart 29 singles, 13 of which went gold. Best known was the ’67 hit “Let’s Live For Today” which was actually an English language version of an Italian pop hit. The next year “Midnight Confessions” was their best seller, hitting number 5 on the charts. In ‘71 they struck it big again with “Sooner or Later.” Just 3 years ago the band put out a live recording of 14 of their best-loved hits.
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RIP – CARL GARDNER


EXPIRED: 06/12/11 – Carl Gardner, 83, was a member if Texas vocal group the Robins. But when hit-makers Stoller & Leiber heard him sing they talked him into quitting and forming The Coasters. Hits included “Yakety-Yak” & “Charlie Brown.” His son Carl, Jr., will take over as lead singer of what is now a cottage industry.

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