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Sister Rosetta Tharpe

03/05/2012

sister rosetta tharpe

by Rosanne Cash

I heard my dad mention her many times, and heard him say she was his “favorite singer.” It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I really listened to her myself, and I understood what she meant to my dad, and how influential she had been. I can imagine him listening to hear over the radio, that combination of spiritual and badass, and how my dad integrated that VERY combination into his own musical persona. Read Full Article

Posted in 1950s, Decade of Note, Guitarists, Instrument, Singers / Tagged ,

Pete Girardi

05/26/2011

girarditeardropguitar

{Today’s Joe comes from Al Gorgoni, a Joe himself. Apart from his influence on Al, Pete’s guitar from 1957 remains one of the most famous guitars in history. The “Teardrop” model by John D’Angelico is rare and unique and was made specially for Girardi. Read more about it in Guitar Heroes.]

Pete Girardi was my teacher, my friend, my big brother and if guardian angels exist, he was mine. There are people we encounter that open doors for us that completely transform our lives. Pete did that for me. He was a traditional player from the Django Rienhardt school of playing. He loved music and played with such passion and emotion. I think that’s what inspired me most. He was the kind of musician that causes you to feel something, that wonderful kind of bliss that wakes up your heart.
That was his gift.

He taught me how to read music and sent me to Joe Biviano to study theory. What I learned from Joe enabled me to do the work in writing and arranging that I was called on to do later .
Pete took me under his wing. I would have my lesson on Sunday at 12:30 at his parent’s apartment where he lived. After a while his mother and father began inviting me to stay for Sunday dinner. His parents were Italians who had immigrated to Argentina and then here.

After eating a wonderful meal the instruments would appear. Ralph, Pete’s father played the accordion, the kind with buttons instead of keys. We would accompany him on beautiful South American tunes as well as Italian songs that I had heard ever since I can remember. We had a great time.

After a year or so Pete got a job in Greenwich Village. It was in a very nice supper club called Charles the 4th. It just happened to be on the corner of Charles and Fourth St. He invited me to work with him. Just the two guitars. We would play sets and accompany various singers for the show. We did standards, show tunes, continental music, some jazz, and certain beautiful Italian classic songs. I learned the gig by Pete calling out the changes to me over his shoulder while playing the leads. All this was happening at the time I started in the music business. That’s another story.

Al Gorgoni

Posted in 1950s, Guitarists, Teachers/ Family

Baker Knight

05/11/2011

Baker Knight

I never met Baker Knight. I wish I had. But what little I do know about him has held my interest for almost 50 years.

Baker was born in Birmingham Alabama in 1933. He played guitar, wrote songs and fronted several local bands including Baker Knight and the Knightmares.

With dreams of making it big, Baker moved to LA in 1958, hoping to get his songs recorded, secure a recording contract or become a movie star. For several years he struggled with little success in any of these endeavors.

A chance meeting with Ricky Nelson provided the songwriting break he needed.

Nelson decided to record two of Baker’s songs which helped establish him as a songwriter. The two songs Nelson recorded were Lonesome Town which reached #6 on the Billboard charts and I Got A Feeling which reached #11. Ricky Nelson recorded many more Baker Knight songs as did Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frank Sinatra and Mickey Gilley.

[This was the Academy of Country Music Song of the Year in 1975]

Throughout his life Baker continued to write, record and release his own recordings but found little solo success.

He returned to Birmingham Alabama in 1985 where he unfortunately developed and struggled with some serious health problems. He died in 2005.

Lonesome Town in my opinion is one of the greatest rock n roll ballads ever written. It certainly may be one of the saddest.

Baker has yet to be recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Songwriter Hall of Fame.

A true Rock and Roll Joe.

Kevin Hale
Westlake Village California

Posted in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Guitarists, Songwriters