Tuesday, May 05, 2020

“There Was A Star That Danced ... And Under That Was I Born.”

From The North returns, dear blog reader, for yet another episode of that most unpopular of  continuing bloggerisationisms series' Death, Where Is Thy Sting? Or, even Sting Where Is Thy Death? if you prefer. This blogger knows that he, certainly does. Anyway ...
The Stranglers keyboard player Dave Greenfield has died at the age of seventy one after testing positive for Covid-Nineteen. Greenfield died on Sunday having contracted the virus during a prolonged stay in hospital for heart problems. He co-wrote - with bandmates Hugh Cornwell, Jean-Jacques Burnel and Jet Black - The Strangers' biggest hit and best known song, 'Golden Brown' which went to number two in the UK chart in 1982. Bass player Burnel paid tribute to Greenfield. He said: 'On the evening of Sunday, my great friend and longstanding colleague of forty five years, the musical genius that was Dave Greenfield, passed away as one of the victims of the Great Pandemic of 2020. All of us in the worldwide Stranglers' family grieve and send our sincerest condolences to [Greenfield's wife] Pam.' Drummer Black added: 'We have just lost a dear friend and music genius and so has the whole world. Dave was a complete natural in music. Together, we toured the globe endlessly and it was clear he was adored by millions. A huge talent, a great loss, he is dearly missed.' The Stranglers formed in 1974 in Guildford. Greenfield, who originated from Brighton, joined within a year and they went on to be heavily associated with the punky-rocky era. He was known for his distinctive sound and playing style on instruments including the harpsichord, the Moog synthesizer and the Hammond organ. Critics compared his sound to that of Ray Manzarek from The Doors. In an interview with the band's website, however, Greenfield himself said that he was more influenced by others. 'The only tracks by The Doors I knew were 'Light My Fire' and 'Riders On The Storm',' said Greenfield. 'Before I joined, my main influences were probably Jon Lord [of Deep Purple] and then Rick Wakeman.' In the same interview he said he always considered The Stranglers to be 'more new wave, than punk' and also admitted to having had an interest in the occult, evident from him wearing a pentagram pendant in many early band pictures. 'The Pentagram represents the microcosm (as opposed to the macrocosm),' he said. 'The relation between the self and the universe. I studied (not practised) the occult quite intensively in those days.' 'Golden Brown', perhaps Greenfield's finest moment, eventually won the band an Ivor Novello award; however his bandmates initially discarded the song and did not consider it a single. The band claimed that the song's lyrics were akin to an aural Rorschach test and that people only heard in it what they wanted to hear, although this did not prevent persistent allegations that the lyrics alluded to Hugh Cornwall's brief-but-infamous addiction to heroin. In his book The Stranglers Song By Song (2001), Cornwell stated: 'Golden Brown' 'works on two levels. It is about heroin and also about a girl. Essentially the lyrics describe how both provided me with pleasurable times.' The band's other hits include their extraordinary debut single '(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)', 'No More Heroes', 'Peaches' (who else but The Stranglers could get a song featuring the words 'clitoris' and 'pubic skin' into the UK top ten?), 'Something Better Change', 'Five Minutes', 'Walk On By', 'Duchess', 'Strange Little Girl', 'Midnight Summer Dream', 'Always The Sun' and 'Skin Deep'. They continued touring and recording after Cornwell left in 1990. Cornwell posted on Twitter he was 'very sorry' to hear of his old bandmate's passing. 'He was the difference between The Stranglers and every other punk band,' wrote Cornwell. 'His musical skill and gentle nature gave an interesting twist to the band. He should be remembered as the man who gave the world the music of 'Golden Brown'.' Current Stranglers vocalist and guitarist Baz Warne described Greenfield as 'a true innovator' and a 'musical legend. The word genius is bandied around far too easily in this day and age, but Dave Greenfield certainly was one,' said Warne.
Greenfield played keyboards, sometimes several at once: nothing compared to the banks of equipment behind which his hero Wakeman plied his trade in Yes, but far more than most punk bands countenanced. Sometimes his playing recalled the thin, wild mercury-organ sounds found on 1960s garage rock singles by bands like ? and the Mysterians or The Animals, which was just about acceptable under punk neo-Stalinist rules. More often, though, he played exactly like someone who had been in a hippy prog rock band, decorating songs with complex arpeggios, which absolutely wasn't acceptable under any rules. But, whisper it, it was what set The Stranglers apart from their contemporaries and became their signature sound. His contributions were the solitary aspect of The Stranglers' music that one might describe as beautiful. Everything else about them was as relentlessly, wilfully, breathtakingly nasty as their song titles suggested: 'Ugly', 'Tits', 'Bring On The Nubiles', 'Princess Of The Streets', 'Nice N' Sleazy', 'Peasant In The Big Shitty', 'Down In The Sewer' and 'I Feel Like A Wog'. If several of these, the latter in particular, make for profoundly uncomfortable listening in the Twenty First Century their music had a remarkable power, a sense of unceasing, misanthropic violence, hostility and dread. But they sounded less like a punk band than a band that slightly predated punk, one which sprang out of that weird period immediately prior to 1976, where the bleakness of mid-1970s Britain had seeped into rock's fringes - the tougher end of the pub-rock scene, the more thuggish bits of late-period glam - but had not yet become codified into musical diktats. Which is precisely what The Stranglers were: they had formed in 1974 - as The Guildford Stranglers - Greenfield joining a year later. It meant that The Stranglers were always regarded with some suspicion by the music press - a state of affairs not helped much by the band's propensity for aggro - but it also meant that The Stranglers weren't constrained by punk. Grimly powerful as their debut LP Rattus Norvegicus and its follow-up No More Heroes were, there's a compelling argument that the band really hit their stride on 1978's Black & White, by which time Greenfield's keyboard playing had become more expansive and experimental. It's never really hailed as such, but Black & White has a decent claim to being the first post-punk LP: the taut dance rhythms, jagged guitars and synthesizer tones of 'Enough Time' and 'Threatened', the attempt to meld dub reggae with Captain Beefheart on 'In the Shadows', the claustrophobic 'Curfew' and the stabbing, angular, curiously homoerotic 'Death & Night & Blood (Yukio)' were all adventurous explorations. On the best of their subsequent singles, Greenfield seemed ever-more integral: their extraordinary cover of 'Walk On By' - on which The Stranglers somehow contrived to turn Burt Bacharach and Hal David's exquisite original into six minutes of brooding, barely contained aggression - was dominated by his organ playing; his rolling piano underpinned 'Don't Bring Harry', an authentically chilling song about heroin; on 1979's chart hit 'Duchess', his arpeggios are no longer a striking embellishment, but appeared to have consumed the band's sound entirely. Several further genuinely great LPs followed - The Raven (1979), La Folie (1981), Feline (1983), Aural Sculpture (1984 and Dreamtime (1986). And then there was 'Golden Brown', which seemed astonishing at the time - a Stranglers single that got played on Radio 2 - and seems perhaps even more astonishing in retrospect: a harpsichord-led song about heroin in a strange time signature (pitched somewhere between 3/4 and 4/4) that was only kept off the top of the charts by another very English early-eighties masterpiece, The Jam's 'Town Called Malice'. The lyrics were Cornwell's, but it was Greenfield's show, his performance is the song's heart. They were adaptable enough to keep having hits long after most of their peers had split up or faded away, but a certain sense of diminishing returns eventually set in during the late eighties. Not even their loudest detractors, though, could have pinned on the authors of 'No More Heroes' that they would release the utterly deranged concept LP The Gospel According To The Meninblack. The Stranglers proved to be weirdly unstoppable - neither the loss of Cornwell nor the retirement of Jet Black dented their massive live following. That might have been the flipside of The Stranglers' lack of critical acclaim or latter day reappraisal and the kind of refusal to play by the era's rules that Greenfield seemed to embody: never particularly fashionable to begin with, they weren't subject to fashion's vagaries, instead building a devoted cult following born out of being outsiders. Dave is survived by his wife, Pam.
Florian Schneider, who as one of the founding members of Kraftwerk changed the sound of popular music forever, has died aged seventy three from cancer. For over forty years, Schneider worked quietly and dutifully at the frontline of sonic adventure. He rarely sought recognition and often hid behind mechanical avatars, considering himself a worker rather than any sort of rock and/or roll star. Yet his labours changed the world. Kraftwerk were pivotal figures in Germany's krautrock scene, but Schneider's wider influence rivals the legends of rock, Merseybeat and punk. Electronica, dance music, electro, hip-hop, trance and most contemporary pop music all find their wellsprings in the kosmiche electronic experiments conducted by Schneider and his Kraftwerk partner Ralf Hütter in their secretive Kling Klang studio in Düsseldorf. Via early champions and disciples such as David Bowie (whose Thin White Duke era and Berlin trilogy grew from a love of Kraftwerk's early LPs), New Order, Gary Numan, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and Afrika Bambaataa, Kraftwerk became The Be-Atles of dance music, an influence so intrinsic to modern culture that, beyond the most rustic of acoustic singer-songwriter, it's difficult to imagine a single artist in 2020 who doesn't owe Schneider some form of debt.
Born in 1947, Schneider was the son of Paul Schneider-Esbelen, a noted architect who designed Cologne Airport. Florian first played music in a number of groups whilst studying in Düsseldorf, beginning in a band called Pissoff. Operating in the experimental, open-minded rock scene somewhat sneeringly dubbed 'krautrock' in the British press, he formed Organisation with Ralf Hutter, the pair later forming Kraftwerk in 1970. And, instantly, creating techno in ten extraordinary minutes live on German telly They emerged from the same experimental music community of the late 1960s that spawned Can. Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Temple, Faust and Tangerine Dream; key krautrock figures such as Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother of Neu! floated through early Kraftwerk line-ups, but when it came time to record experimental LPs Kraftwerk (1970), Kraftwerk 2 (1972) and Ralf Und Florian (1972), they worked almost exclusively as a duo in the studio, alongside the legendary engineer Conny Plank. Constructing their own HQ, Kling Klang, beside Düsseldorf's central station, the pair became inseparable. Schneider played flute, violin and guitar, though often filtered through electronic processing. His interest in electronic music grew. 'I found that the flute was too limiting,' he said later. 'Soon I bought a microphone, then loudspeakers, then an echo, then a synthesizer. Much later I threw the flute away; it was a sort of process.' After three LPs, Kraftwerk released Autobahn and expanded to a quartet with the addition of Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür. The LP was composed primarily on synthesizers and its highly original sound and witty minimalist lyrics made it a huge pan-continental hit - an edited version of the twenty two minute title song reaching the top twenty in both the UK and US.
So much of modern music emerged from Kling Klang. 'We don't want to end up playing Mozart and Beethoven at our local concert hall,' Hütter once said. 'The question is, "What does Germany sound like today?" That's where we started.' Considering themselves workers and keeping strict hours, Hütter and Schneider conceived and constructed many of the instruments and sound systems that they worked with, as well as buying then-cutting-edge synthesizers and vocoders. They created a kind of sonic laboratory behind Kling Klang's innocuous street shutters. The arrival of the Minimoog and EMS Synthi AKS gave the band a more disciplined structure and Autobahn, exposed them to a global audience. They later famously appeared on the BBC technology programme Tomorrow's World to demonstrate their 'machinemusik.' Adding ever-more sophisticated poly-rhythms and drum machines and with Hütter's distinctive vocals, the group went on to release a series of astonishing, ground-breaking LPs that became hugely influential on pop music, particularly the run of Radio-Aktivität (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), Die Mensch-Maschine (1978) and Computerwelt (1981). They described their music as industrielle volksmusik: 'folk music of the factories,' as translated by uber-fan Bowie.
With The Man-Machine, the band had taken to limiting interviews and hiding behind authoritarian showroom dummy effigies of themselves - Das Roboter. This was a statement on their wish to unite with their machines in the ultimate, automated humanoid collaboration: 'We love our machines,' Schneider said in 1978, 'we have an erotic relationship with them.' Thanks to the patronage of the likes of Bowie - name-checked on 'Trans-Europe Express' - the band's motorik sounds infiltrated new wave and post-punk, infecting everyone from Joy Division and Wire to Duran Duran, The Human League, Ultravox and The Pet Shop Boys. As well as being forefathers of synthpop, the title song of 'Trans-Europe Express' was sampled in 1982 by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force for one of the earliest hip-hop hits, 'Planet Rock', while 'Computer World' was hugely influential on the house and techno music that emerged from Chicago and Detroit that decade. In subsequent years, their music has been sampled by everyone from Doctor Dre and The Chemical Brothers to Justin Timberlake and The KLF. Their work also brought them into the orbit of the Berlin-dwelling Bowie and Iggy Pop - in a TV documentary, Pop recalled that he and Schneider once went shopping for asparagus together. Bowie's 'V-2 Schneider' (on "Heroes") was a wry tribute to the band and to Schneider in particular. Known for his enigmatic, somewhat faraway smile, Schneider worked on all of the group's studio LPs, including The Man-Machine, which yielded their biggest hit: 'The Model', a melancholy synthpop song which topped the UK charts in 1982.
After 1986's Electric Café was considered a relative disappointment at the time (it sounds fucking great now), a 1991 CD of modernist remixes of classic songs, The Mix, revived interest in band activities. Then virtually nothing emerged from Kling Klang until 2003. Following Tour De France Soundtracks and a return to touring, Schneider left Kraftwerk in 2008. '[Schneider] is a sound perfectionist,' Hütter told Mojo in 2005. 'So, if the sound isn't up to a certain standard, he doesn't want to do it. With electronic music there's no necessity ever to leave the studio. You could keep making records and sending them out.' No reason was given for Schneider's departure and he maintained a constantly low profile afterwards. Hütter told the Gruniad Morning Star in 2009 that Schneider 'worked for many, many years on other projects: speech synthesis and things like that. He was not really involved in Kraftwerk for many, many years' and, in 2017, he added that the pair had 'not really spoken' since Schneider left the band. In 2015, Schneider released a new piece of music, Stop Plastic Pollution, in collaboration with producer Dan Lacksman. He said the track, released to raise awareness about pollution, was inspired by 'taking a swim in the ocean at the coasts of Ghana, watching fishermen catch nothing but plastic garbage in their nets.'
The actress Jill Gascoine has died at the age of eighty three. She played Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in ITV's The Gentle Touch (1980 to 1984), one of the first British police dramas with a woman in the main role. She continued playing the character in - really spectacularly bad - spin-off C.A.T.S. Eyes (1985 to 1987) and was also Letty Onedin in The Onedin Line for three years during the 1970s. She died after a long illness, her family told BBC News. Her second husband was fellow actor Alfred Molina, who in 2016 confirmed that his wife was 'in a very advanced stage' of Alzheimer's disease. Born in Lambeth in 1937, early in her career in the 1950s, Gascoine has been soubrette in a UK tour of The Crazy Gang Show. In 1956, she was a chorus dancer in the Christmas season of The Adventures Of Davy Crockett staring Hermione Badderly at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. Gascoine also worked alongside TONY winner Victor Spinetti in intimate revue in the Irving Theatre in London. By 1959, Gascoine had taken over from Millicent Martin in a tour of Expresso Bongo. A further stage appearances included playing Dorothy Brock opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones in Forty Second Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and in the musical Destry playing Frenchie. Gascoine began her acting career in theatre and had regular roles at the Dundee Rep. Her early work also included collaborations with director Ken Loach before landing roles in such TV series as Z Cars, Oranges & Lemons, Six Days Of Justice, Dixon Of Dock Green, Beryl's Lot, Plays For BritainGeneral Hospital, Softly, Softly: Taskforce, Within These Walls, Raffles, Home To Roost and Rooms. She also appeared in the sex comedy Confessions Of A Pop Performer opposite Robin Askwith, who remembered her on Twitter as being 'terrific in every way.' An early film appearance has been in a tiny role as one of the titular schoolgirls in The Pure Hell of St Trinian's (1960). After moving to Los Angeles with Molina in the 1990s where she made appearances on US television in series such as Northern Exposure and Touched By An Angel, she went on to become a novelist. Her first book was Addicted (1994), a not-even-remotely-autobiographical story of a successful actress in her fifties who embarks on a destructive affair with a younger actor. This was followed by Lilian (1995), about a woman who begins an affair when she goes on holiday to California with her best friend. In 2009, it was announced that Gascoine would be returning to the UK to join the cast of EastEnders, playing the role of Glenda Mitchell. But she withdrew from the BBC drama on her first day of filming, leading to her role being given to Glynis Barber. 'Having spent the last fifteen years working in America I felt on arrival I lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama,' she said at the time. 'I have tremendous respect for EastEnders and the cast so I don't want to let the show or my fellow cast members down.' Gascoine married twice. Her first husband was Dundee hotelier Bill Keith, with whom she had two sons. In 1982, she met Molina when they were working in the same theatre production. Gascoine suffered from clinical depression for most of her life which, she believed, stemmed from her unhappy time at boarding school as a child.
Hamish Wilson, who died recently aged seventy seven as a result of coronavirus, was a pioneering radio producer and gifted character actor. He was born James Aitken Wilson in Glasgow, in 1942 before his family moved to Cambuslang. His father, also James, was a sales rep for a paint company whilst his mother, Isobel, worked in the textile trade. After they divorced, Isobel married another Wilson, Robert and Hamish and his sister Jan grew up with step-siblings Leslie, Sheila and Robbie. He discovered his love of drama while at West Coats Primary School. Later, at the Glasgow Academy, this love drove him to do 'that stupidly romantic thing of running away from school to appear on the stage.' He was soon working professionally - he understudied Jimmy Logan for a summer season at The King's Theatre and appeared in Peter Duguid's 1957 Citizen's Theatre production of Enemy Of The People. He then attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and gained more professional experience during summer holidays. He played the title role in 1959's live ITV play, The Boy From The Gorbals, appeared in a 1960 episode of Para Handy with Duncan Macrae and met Walt Disney while he was working on the film adaptation of Greyfriars Bobby (1961). 'I was trying to chat up a pretty blonde extra, with no success at all,' he recalled. 'And this gentleman with blond hair and a little moustache came over and started chatting to me. We nattered away for five minutes and then he wandered away. The girl was terribly impressed, but I spoilt it because I didn't recognise him. I said, "Who was that?" and she stopped being impressed.' He graduated from the RSAMD in 1963, winning the award for Most Promising Male Performance and appeared on stage at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre (1965), Perth Theatre (1967 to 1968) and Dundee Repertory Theatre (1970 to 1971), where his performance in Mark But This Flea was described as 'remarkable' by The Stage, not least because he had stepped into the role twenty four hours before opening night after the original actor had broken his leg. On television he appeared in The Wednesday Play (1965), The Vital Spark (1966), This Man Craig (three different roles, 1966), Softly, Softly (1967) and The Revenue Men (1967). In 1968 Doctor Who regular Frazer Hines, who played Patrick Troughton's companion, fell ill with chickenpox while making the memorable five-part adventure The Mind Robber. After an ingeniously hasty rewrite Jamie underwent a temporary metamorphosis and, with one day's rehearsal, Wilson took over, learning his lines overnight and recording the first of his two episodes the following day. Further TV roles followed, including The Borderers (1969), Boy Meets Girls (1969), Adam Smith (1972) and The View From Daniel Pike (1972) but he found that he needed to turn his attention away from acting because 'a beautiful girl smiled at me.' Intent on marriage and starting a family, he gained more secure employment as an announcer for STV. In 1975 he went to Radio Forth as its arts and drama producer. With limited resources but boundless ambition, he broadcast original writing, late-night horror classics and a six-month serial about Mary Queen of Scots, told in one hundred and thirty twelve-minute episodes, broadcast daily. In 1979 he did an adaptation of The Slab Boys for Radio Clyde, ultimately joining the station and founding Independent Local Radio's first drama department there. His many productions at Clyde included The Bell In The Tree (1982), a series of dramas about the history of Glasgow by Edward H Chisnall; Donald Campbell's Till The Seas Run Dry (1983, with Tom Fleming as Robert Burns and Mary Riggans as Jean Armour) and Nick McCarthy's Elephant Dances (1989, with Katy Murphy). He also encouraged new talent, instigating initiatives which gave professional breaks to aspiring comedy writers and awarded contracts and Equity cards to final-year drama students. He left Clyde in 1989 and joined the BBC, where he produced a huge number of plays and series for Radio Scotland, Radio 3 and Radio 4. He really believed in radio: 'It allows you to creep inside somebody's head and paint pictures that are going to stay long after the programme is finished.' In all, he won twenty three awards for his radio productions - his 'Oscars', as he jokingly referred to them - and served a juror in the Prix Italia (where he was also the first ILR producer to be jury chairman), Prix Futura Berlin and the Prix Europa. When he left the BBC after ten successful years he went back to doing voiceover work and acting in episodes of Taggart (2004), Monarch Of The Glen (2005) and Still Game (2007) as well as Robin Hardy's The Wicker Tree (2013). He was an active member of Equity and taught radio technique at RSAMD and at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1996 he was awarded a fellowship of the RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). Though serious in his work, he was an affable, genial, unassuming man who was happy to help others and enjoyed reading and war-strategy games. The beautiful girl who smiled at him was Dianna Baron, a wardrobe mistress at Dundee Rep, whom he had met in 1972. They married the following year and had three daughters, Emma, Alice and Abigail, who all survive him, as do grandchildren Colin, Finley, Amelia and Gregor.
Tributes have been paid to the well-known Northern Irish actor BJ Hogg, who has died, aged sixty five. He was best known for his role as Big Mervyn in the BBC Northern Ireland series Give My Head Peace. He was in the comedy for more than twenty years and toured with the cast in the stage adaptation earlier this year. Hogg also appeared in several high-profile TV dramas including episodes of The Fall, The Hanging Gale and Game Of Thrones. He also acted in several films shot in Northern Ireland including Hunger, Closing The Ring and Divorcing Jack. Another role was as the widower father Lexie in the short film Dance Lexie Dance, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1998 for best live action short film. Born in Lisburn in 1955, his career on stage and screen in Northern Ireland spanned almost four decades. His agent, Geoff Stanton, said 'there just weren't the words' to express his shock and sadness at the news of Hogg's death. 'He was such a great man, a big personality and a terrific actor. His family must be devastated and my heart goes out to them,' he said. 'He was just one of the nicest people I know, or knew - he is going to be such a loss.'
The Jamaican singer Millie Small has died at the age of seventy two after suffering a stroke. Millie was most famous for her hit single 'My Boy Lollipop', which reached number two in both the US and the UK in 1964. It remains one of the biggest-selling ska songs of all time, with more than seven million sales. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell announced her death and remembered her as 'a sweet person ... really special.' It was Blackwell who brought Small to London in 1963 and produced her version of 'My Boy Lollipop', showcasing her childlike, high-pitched vocals. 'I would say she's the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record,' he told the Jamaica Observer. 'It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world. I went with her around the world because each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such and it was just incredible how she handled it.' Born Millicent Small in Clarendon, South Jamaica, she was one of seven brothers and five sisters, raised on the sugar plantation where her father was an overseer. At the age of twelve, she won a talent contest at the Palladium Theatre in Montego Bay and by her teens, she was recording for Coxone Dodd's Studio One label in Kingston. There, she teamed up with singer Roy Panton and they became one of the island's most prolific duos, scoring a major hit with 'We'll Meet'. Blackwell took an interest in the singer after releasing some of those records in the UK on his fledgling record label, Island and brought her to London in 1963. Small was enrolled at the Italia Conti Stage School for speech training and dancing lessons and she toured the UK before cutting 'My Boy Lollipop' with a group of London session musicians - Small claimed that Rod Stewart played the harmonica solo, but he has denied being present at the recording. Released in February 1964, it made her an international star and helped popularise ska music around the world. 'It is the ska equivalent of Elvis' 'Heartbreak Hotel' or The Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' - the disc that popularised a sound previously considered to be on the margins of mainstream consciousness,' wrote music historian Laurence Cane-Honeysett in Record Collector. At the end of 1964, Small made her acting debut in an ITV special, The Rise & Fall Of Nellie Brown. A light-hearted musical, it cast the singer as Selina, a young Jamaican who flees her humdrum Liverpool lodgings in search of her glamorous London cousin, played by Elisabeth Welch. However, Small was never able to replicate the success of 'My Boy Lollipop', scoring only one further chart hit, a soundalike called 'Sweet William'. But she continued to tour and record, and appeared frequently on 1960s pop shows like Juke Box Jury and Ready Steady Go. 'My life seemed very normal to me - even though I was only seventeen, I took fame in its stride,' she told the Daily Scum Express in 2016. After leaving Island in 1970, she recorded for legendary reggae label Trojan, where her first single was a cover of Nick Drake's 'Mayfair'. However, it was the b-side that attracted greater attention. Called 'Enoch Power', it was a defiant response to Enoch Powell's inflammatory, anti-immigration 'Rivers of Blood' speech. Small's lyrics, which captured the mood of the UK's Caribbean population, received a rapturous response when she played the song at the Caribbean Music Festival at Wembley Arena, a month after its release. Soon after that single and the accompanying LP Time Will Tell, Small stepped away from music, saying 'it was the end of the dream and it felt like the right time.' In later years, she lived in Singapore and New Zealand before returning to London, where she concentrated on writing, painting and raising her daughter. When 'My Boy Lollipop' was re-released in 1987 to mark Island Records' twenty fifth anniversary, the singer gave a rare interview to Thames TV, where she revealed that she had, at one point, been penniless and sleeping rough in London. However, she took the hard times in good grace, explaining: 'That's all experience. It was great. I didn't worry because I knew what I was doing. I saw how the other half live. It's something I chose to do.' In 2011, Jamaica's Governor-General made Small a Commander in the Order of Distinction for her contribution to the Jamaican music industry. The singer is survived by her daughter, Jaelee, who is also a musician based in London.
The soul musician Hamilton Bohannon, who backed many of Motown's greats before starting a respected solo career, has died at the age seventy eight according to the Newnan Times-Herald newspaper in the Georgia town of his birth. Bohannon was born in 1942, the son of a working-class family who ran a barbershop and cafe. He started drumming - initially on family furniture - and began playing professionally after moving to Atlanta following high school, including alongside his friend Jimi Hendrix at the city's Royal Peacock venue. He was hired by Stevie Wonder as his live drummer and came into the orbit of Motown, who later employed him as a bandleader. His group Bohannon & The Motown Sound backed numerous label stars on tour, including Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Temptations and The Supremes ('I've never been to heaven, but I bet that's pretty close,' Bohannon once said of the latter). After Motown moved to Los Angeles, Hamilton stayed in the label's first home Detroit and started his solo career, beginning with the 1973 LP Stop & Go and eventually released nineteen studio LPs by the end of the 1980s. He struggled to cross over in the US pop market - only one of his singles reached the Top One Hundred - but he became a mainstay in the disco boom of the mid-1970s onwards with songs like 'Let's Start The Dance'. He had three Top Forty hits in the UK: 'South African Man', 'Foot Stompin' Music' and 'Disco Stomp', the latter reaching number six in 1975. The following year's LP, Dance Your Ass Off was particularly highly regarded, the title song being subsequently covered by That Petrol Emotion whilst The Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr was another fan. 'In the 1970s, there was a song by Hamilton Bohannon called 'Disco Stomp' - it was a real dumb pop record. When my mates were getting into real clever guitar stuff like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, I was obsessed by it.' He became a cult favourite among his fellow musicians, with Tom Tom Club respectfully chanting his name in 'Genius Of Love'; artists including Mary J Blige, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg have all sampled his music. He is seen as helping to pioneer the 'four-four' beat which powered disco and later house and techno and the octave-jumping groove of 'Me & The Gang' became the core of Paul Johnson's house hit 'Get Get Down', a top five UK hit in 1999. Defected Records, one of the world's leading house music labels was among those paying tribute, saying: 'Today we lost a legend ... Hamilton Bohannon, thank you for the music.' DJ Gilles Peterson heralded his 'lopsided rhythmic brilliance.' He is survived by son Bohannon II and daughter April, born to his late wife Andrea.
Pioneering Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, a co-founder of the afrobeat genre, died in Paris on Thursday aged seventy nine, his manager has said. Eric Trosset told NPR radio that Tony had died of a heart attack. Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Ransome Kuti's famous band Africa 70. Fela, who died in 1997, once said that 'without Tony Allen, there would be no afrobeat,' a genre which combines elements of West Africa's fuji music and highlife styles with American funk and jazz. Allen has also been described by Brian Eno as 'perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived.' Trosset led tributes in a Facebook post saying 'your eyes saw what most couldn't see ... as you used to say: "There is no end."' Flea, the bassist for The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who spent time with Allen in London, called him 'one of the greatest drummers to ever walk this earth' and described him as his hero. 'What a wildman, with a massive, kind and free heart and the deepest one-of-a-kind groove,' Flea said on Instagram. Allen's career and life story were documented in his 2013 autobiography Tony Allen: Master Drummer Of Afrobeat. Allen, who was born in Lagos in 1940, taught himself to play drums when he was eighteen. He said that he learned his technique by listening closely to American jazz drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach. He then created the distinctive polyphonic rhythms of afrobeat and was said to be able to play four different beats with each of his limbs. Allen first met Fela Kuti in 1964 and they went on to record dozens of LPs in Africa 70, including Gentleman, Expensive Shit, Afrodisiac and Zombie. Allen left the band in 1979, after reported rifts with Fela over royalties. Fela needed four separate drummers to fill the void. Allen emigrated to London in 1984 and later moved to Paris. He collaborated with a number of artists during his long music career and was the drummer in The Good, The Bad & The Queen, with Damon Albarn, Paul Simenon and Simon Tong. His 1999 LP Black Voices, produced by the DJ Doctor L, mixed afrobeat with dub and electronica and helped Allen win a new young following. He was helped by Albarn, who sang 'Tony Allen ... really got me dancing' on the 2000 Blur hit 'Music Is My Radar'. Allen returned the compliment when he invited Albarn (along with the rapper Ty) to appear on Home Cooking (2002). In 1987 Allen married his second wife, Sylvie Nicollet. She survives him along with their three sons, and four children from his first marriage.
Former Glamorgan and England cricketer and broadcaster Peter Walker has died aged eighty four after a stroke. Walker played three tests for England against South Africa in 1960, finishing on the winning side each time. He spent his entire first-class career with Glamorgan and after retirement presented sports news on BBC Wales television. He was appointed an MBE in the 2011 New Year's Honours List and served as president of Glamorgan Cricket Club. Bristol-born Walker was a true all-rounder - he batted, he bowled spin and is widely regarded as one of the best close catchers in the game. In the 1961 season he completed the double of scoring a thousand runs and claiming one hundred first-class wickets and also took seventy three catches - many taken at his specialist fielding position of short-leg off the bowling of Don Shepherd. Walker's main strength was his consistency and he scored a thousand runs in a season eleven times during a career which started in 1955. On two of those occasions - in 1965 and 1966 - he achieved the landmark without scoring a century. He was a key member of the side - led by Tony Lewis - which won the County Championship in 1969. Walker retired at the end of the 1972 season to further his already-established career as a broadcaster with BBC Wales. The director of BBC Cymru, Rhodri Talfan Davies, praised his role as one of Wales best known broadcasters. 'Peter made the switch from cricket to broadcasting in the blink of an an eye - becoming a familiar voice to millions over almost two decades with the BBC,' Davies said. 'In a distinguished career, he introduced network television coverage of the Sunday League cricket as well as presenting BBC Wales Today and numerous sports programmes on both radio and television. Peter was always the consummate professional - admired for his warmth, intelligence and forensic all-round sporting knowledge. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.' In later life Walker was the founder and managing director of Merlin Television, which became the largest independent production company in Wales and was subsequently appointed chief executive of the Cricket Board of Wales, helping to introduce a nationwide coaching framework and plan the National Cricket Centre in Cardiff. In 2009 he was elected president of Glamorgan County Cricket Club, but resigned the following year in protest at the way the club was being run by its then-chairman Paul Russell. Current Chairman Gareth Williams said: 'Everyone at Glamorgan is saddened to hear this news. Peter was a club legend, a man who gave everything he could to the club he loved while playing and later in an off-field capacity. He gave so much back to the game.' Walker's former Glamorgan team-mate Alan Jones told Radio Cymru: 'He was one of the best cricketers ever to play for Glamorgan, Allan Watkins was a great, but for me Peter was the best. He was a great bowler, he took over seven hundred wickets for the county and with the bat he scored over fifteen thousand runs and as a fielder - close to the wicket, he was the best.'
Ex-England international defender Trevor Cherry has died 'suddenly and unexpectedly' aged seventy two, his former club Leeds United have confirmed. The defender joined Leeds from Huddersfield Town in 1972, won a league championship in 1974 and made four hundred and eighty six appearances for the club. He played twenty seven times for England, captained the side once and was part of the 1980 European Championship squad. He also holds the distinction of being only the third man to be sent off playing for England (after Alan Mullery and Alan Ball), in Cherry's case in a 1977 friendly against Argentina for the dreadful crime of being on the receiving end of a vicious right-hook from Daniel Bertoni, whom Cherry had felled with a tackle from behind. Trevor lost two teeth in the incident. Cherry, was also player-manager at Bradford, where he played ninety two matches. He managed at Valley Parade from 1982 to 1985, with former Leeds team-mate Terry Yorath as his assistant. Cherry guided the club to the Third Division title in 1985, a promotion overshadowed by the tragedy of the Bradford fire disaster on the final day of the season, in which fifty six supporters died when the main stand burned down. Cherry was heavily involved in the club's support for those bereaved and attended funeral services of those who died. 'Our thoughts and prayers are with Trevor's wife Sue, sons Darren and Ian, daughter Danielle and his five grandchildren at this difficult time,' Leeds said in their statement. Having progressed through the ranks at Huddersfield - he made his debut in 1965, aged seventeen, establishing himself as a classy defender who could play anywhere across the back line, making one hundred and eighty five appearances and winning the Second Division title - Cherry impressed Leeds boss Don Revie enough to seek him as a potential replacement for Jack Charlton. The versatile defender became a dependable figure at Leeds in a ten-year spell, covering for the injured Terry Cooper at left-back and then subsequently forging a partnership at the heart of the defence with Norman Hunter - who also died recently. He was part of a successful group of Leeds players to be given the freedom of the city in 2019, for their achievements on the field. Under Revie he played in the 1973 European Cup Winners' Cup final and also in the FA Cup final defeat by Sunderland that same year. The defeat against the Second Division side was famous for a remarkable double save from goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery, the first of which denied Cherry's point-blank header. One of his most memorable performances for Leeds was the 1975 semi-final of the European Cup against Barcelona in which he brilliantly man-marked Johan Cruyff. But, he missed the final as Leeds lost of Bayern Munich, as an unused substitute. In 1976, Cherry became Leeds captain after Billy Bremner left the club and won his first England cap. He continued to play for Leeds until 1982, the year that the club were relegated to the Second Division. Bradford said they were 'mourning the loss' of Cherry, while Huddersfield described him as 'an inspiration.'