Newsletter for July 2021



A big thanks to Pete Pitts for being with us last month as our guest speaker. Listening to some of his air checks while at various radio stations was fun. The memorabilia he shared took us back in time. And thanks also to Joey Roberts for being there and adding his recollection of his DJ days as well. Sitting behind that mic doing a live show would have made me nervous but these guys were the pros and they made it sound easy. Thanks.

This month we will be getting postcards that are part of our record show advertising labeled and stamped. Nearly 2,000 cards will need to be prepared so if you are free, drop by and help out.

We are getting some special programs lined up for the remainder of the year so be on alert for these events coming up.

Long time Alabama Record Collectors Association (ARCA) member and a good friend of many of the BRC members, Mike Burnette has been in the hospital with covid. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks.

Plans are underway as we prepare for our 36th annual record show. After having to cancel last year’s show due to the virus we are set to go in 2021. Dealers have been contacted, advertising is being planned, the venue is set and so are we. If you can volunteer to work the door for an hour or two either day let us know. We do have a sign-up sheet for those positions and your name will be added. August 20-22 at the Gardendale Civic Center. Plenty of free parking and over 115 tables of vinyl to browse through. Check out our website for more info.

I just heard today an advertisement for Elton John’s final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road. It made me start thinking of other performers we grew up listening to and some who were before our time that are still performing today. Some of those include Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Loretta Lynn, Buddy Guy, Bob Dylan, Dion, Clarence Carter, the Beach Boys with Mike Love & Brian Wilson and of course the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Ringo. And last night I was told that the Swingin’ Medallions will at a brewery/restaurant located in the small town where I live. I don’t know the average age of those still going strong but I would have to say at least the mid 70’s. But how about those who we lost at a very young age.

I started looking at all the performers from the 50’s & 60’s who died before they made 30. It was quite a few. Here are some that come to mind immediately. The most remembered and celebrated would be the three we lost February 3, 1959. Buddy Holly (age 22), Ritchie Valens (age 17) and The Big Bopper, aka J. P. Richardson (age 28) died in a plane crash after a performance in Clear Lake, IA. Think about what Valens did in such a short time.

Three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who were all under the age of thirty died in another legendary plane crash. Ronnie Van Zandt (age 29), Steve Gaines (age 28), and his sister and backup singer Cassie Gaines (age 29) were three of six passengers who died on Oct 20, 1977 when their plane ran out of fuel. The band had been recording for only four years when the tragedy happened.

Another threesome comes to mind although these three didn’t die at the same time. First the names and ages. Jimi Hendrix (age 27), Janis Joplin (age 27) and Jim Morrison (age 27). Did you notice that all three were 27 years old when they died? And how about the fact that all three had names beginning with the letter ‘J’. Just some kinda interesting coincidence to me. The three died within 10 months of each other. Jimi (9-18-70), Janis (10-4-70), Jim (7-3-71). They were all know for being part of the hippie era and their use of alcohol and drugs which according to what report you read could have or did lead to their death.

Two performers who died before thirty but is hard to believe when you look at all the work they left behind include Hank Williams (age 29) and Otis Redding (age 26). With what they wrote and recorded in their short time you would think they were in the recording business at least a decade but not so. Hank’s first recording was in late 1946 and six years later he was gone. Otis did his first recording in 1960 and was gone seven years later. Otis died in yet another plane crash. Hank’s death is all speculation. Everything from a bad heart to drugs & alcohol abuse.

Eddie Cochran who recorded one of rocks all time songs, “Summertime Blues’ died in a car crash at age 21. Eddie was riding in a taxi after a performance in Bristol, England when the driver lost control of the cab and crashed into a lamp post. Riding in the cab along with Eddie was Gene Vincent and Eddie’s fiancé, Sharon Sheeley.

Allman Brothers lead guitar Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident at age 24. Many say he is one of the best rock guitarist of all time. He is best known for his slide guitar playing. One year and two weeks later Allman Brothers bassist, Berry Oakley died in a motorcycle crash just three blocks from the spot Duane had his crash. He was also age 24. Strangely enough Oakley got up from the crash saying he felt OK then hitched a ride home. Three hours later he was rushed to the hospital where he died of cerebral swelling.

Even if you go way back you can find performers such as the very influential Robert Johnson dying before reaching 30. Johnson was 27 when he died of either syphilis, aortic dissection or being poisoned. The death certificate does not list a cause of death so everything is speculation. The poisoning supposedly came about when a jealous husband slipped him a bottle of whiskey he had put poison in. Who knows but the influence he had upon many future performers such as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, the early Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin brought us many recordings that lead many others to discover Robert Johnson? Although Johnson only did a total of 29 recordings his legend lives on today.

And then there was, in my opinion the best musician of the Rolling Stones. The man who introduced Robert Johnson’s music to the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones (age 27) who was the driving force behind the forming of the Stones was multi-talented when it came to musical instruments. Some of the instruments he played on Stones recordings include, guitar, slide guitar, sitar, organ, marimba, recorder, saxophone, oboe/soprano sax, kazoo, dulcimer, mellotron and autoharp. Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wymansaid of Jones, “He formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got us gigs. … he was very influential, very important, and then slowly lost it – highly intelligent – and just kind of wasted it and blew it all away.” The death certificate says drowning and that was changed later to ‘death by misadventure’. Or was it something else??

Frankie Lymon (age 25) was very popular early on in his career with the group The Teenagers. He was 14 when the group recorded their first single. The group recorded for just over a year when Frankie went solo. But drugs got the best of Frankie and after his label, Roulette dropped him at age 19 and he went into drug rehab. At age 25 Frankie was found dead on his grandmother’s bathroom floor of a drug overdose.

Two singers who didn’t chart many singles but were influential nevertheless and left some classic songs were Johnny Ace (age 25) and Jesse Belvin (age 27). Ace either shot himself playing Russian roulette or, according to a band member it was an accidental discharge. Ace’s ‘Pledging My Love’ is an all-time classic and would make # 1 on the charts making Ace the first act to hit the top of Billboard after his death. Belvin’s ‘Guess Who’ and ‘Goodnight My Love (Pleasant Dreams)’ are also classic songs from the 50’s. Belvin and his wife were killed in a crash. Alan Freed used ‘Goodnight My Love’ as his sign-off song on his rock & roll radio shows. By the way, it is reported that the piano player on that recording was an 11-year-old Barry White. ??

These are just a few of the performers who didn’t make it to 30 but before I leave I must include my all-time favorite female singer, Patsy Cline. Patsy died at 30 in a plane crash. She was one of the early singers who crossed over from C/W to pop. Her voice was amazing. I really enjoy her songs and wish I had had the chance to see her in concert. We can only wonder what musical direction these performers would have gone had they lived longer.

The Righteous Brothers

Jessie Belvin

Otis Redding

See ya, Charlie


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