Category Archives: R&B

Obituary: Herb Reed, Last Original Member of the Platters

Herb Reed (far left), the last surviving original member of the Platters, died Monday. He was born in Kansas City and lived here until he was 13.

Herb Reed, the last surviving member of the vocal group the Platters, died Monday.

Reed was born in Kansas City in 1928 and lived here until he was about 13. After his parents died, he eventually landed in Los Angeles and started singing in church gospel choirs.

According to his obituary in the New York Times, Reed came up with the Platters’ name, based on the slang for vinyl records. He was the group’s bass singer, performing on all 400 of the group’s recordings.

The Platters’ hits include Only You, The Great Pretender and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Hat Tip: Plastic Sax

Advertisements

The National Recording Registry: KC Edition, Part 1

Bookmark and Share

To mark the release of this year’s additions to the National Recording Registry, we’re going to feature registry recordings with ties to Kansas City.

The National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress honors and preserves recordings of significant cultural, musical and historical value. The registry contains 17 recordings that has ties to Kansas City.

Continue reading

Historic KC Recordings: “What’d I Say” and “Respect”

Bookmark and Share

To mark the release of this year’s additions to the National Recording Registry, we’re going to feature registry recordings with ties to Kansas City.

Producer Jerry Wexler attended what is now Kansas State University and regularly drove to Kansas City to hear jazz.

Producer Jerry Wexler is the Kansas City connection to these historic recordings. Wexler is the legendary producer at Atlantic Records who worked with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, the Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin.

Continue reading

KC-Area Resident Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Niki Sullivan (far left) was the rhythm guitarist for the Crickets, Buddy Holly’s backup band. After retiring from the music business, Sullivan relocated to the Kansas City area, where he lived until he died in 2004.

The late Niki Sullivan, the original rhythm guitarist in Buddy Holly’s backup band the Crickets, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in mid-April.

The Crickets were inducted with several legendary backing bands, all of whom were excluded when their stars were inducted.

Continue reading

The Billboard Roll Call: Bloodstone

Bookmark and Share

The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

The R&B group Bloodstone bridged two strains in popular music. Starting as a vocal doo-wop group in the 1960s when they attended high school in Kansas City, Bloodstone emerged as full-fledged band in the 1970s.

They charted two songs in the Billboard Top 40 in 1973-74. Natural High, which hit the Top 10 in June 1973, is a gorgeous piece of soul that draws from their doo-wop roots as well as a jazzy break that to my ears is a nod to Kansas City jazz.

Continue reading

The Billboard Roll Call: Oleta Adams

Bookmark and Share

The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Oleta Adams
Born and reared in Washington state, Adams has lived in Kansas City for about 30 years. She was a fixture on the local scene, mainly playing piano and singing at hotel bars. In the mid-1980s, she was discovered by the English band Tears for Fears, which lead her recording career.

Her first Top 40 success was as a member of Tears for Fears. Sowing the Seeds of Love hit No. 2 in September 1989. The band’s next single, Woman in Chains, featured Adams on vocals, and peaked at No. 36.

Continue reading

Today in KC’s Music History: “Shake, Rattle and Roll” Recorded

Bookmark and Share

One of the most important records in the development of rock ‘n’ roll was recorded on Feb. 15, 1954.

Big Joe Turner

Shake, Rattle and Roll by Big Joe Turner made him one of the great R&B stars of the era. The record itself is a milestone, as rhythm and blues began to be combined with other elements to form rock ‘n’ roll.

The song has deep Kansas City roots, and I think you can make a case that you can’t have rock ‘n’ roll without the influence of Kansas City music. Continue reading

2011 Grammy Talley: One Win, One Electrifying Performance

Bookmark and Share

From a local perspective, there were two big winners at last night’s Grammy ceremony.

Kansas City Symphony
The Kansas City Symphony’s recording of Britten’s Orchestra won for Best Surround Sound Album, an award the symphony shared with Keith O. Johnson, the mix and mastering engineer, and David Frost, the album’s producer.

Although  the symphony was not the direct winner, Frost also was named Classical Producer of the Year, for his work on Britten’s Orchestra and six other recordings.

Continue reading

Vinyl KC: “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

Bookmark and Share


The most important lesson I learned as a musician is also one of the hardest to apply: it’s not the notes you play, but the notes you don’t play.

To put it another way, playing simply is sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do.  A master class on how to do it is contained in the Bill Withers classic Lean on Me.

Continue reading

The Clicklist: I Read So You Don’t Have To

Bookmark and Share

Stuff I’ve been reading and can recommend:

KCK Native Janelle Monáe was nominated for two R&B Grammies.

  • The Kansas City Star ran a short article Sunday noting that the Kansas City Symphony and Janelle Monáe, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., were nominated for Grammy Awards. I would add that KC-born Burt Bacharach was nominated for Best Musical Show Album for the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises.
  • In other Broadway news, Scottsboro Boys will close Sunday after 78 performances and an estimated loss of $5 million. KC native John Kander composed the score. There is talk of a film adaptation, according to Playbill.
  • Last Sunday’s Kansas City Star Magazine had a nice feature on Walter Bryant, who plays with some great people around town and is a major composer for advertising.
  • I love stories about sidemen and people who work behind the scenes. KCjazzlark has a good one about Buster Smith, a sax player who tutored Charlie Parker and played in some important KC bands in the 1930s.
  • Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. The York Times has an interesting story on the Dakota, the NYC co-op where Lennon lived the last years of his life.
  • One of the themes at the jazz blog Happy in a Bag is that jazz musicians need to find new ways to promote and market themselves. It’s great advice for all musicians, not just jazzers. A report on a “jazz hang” that occurred Sunday is full of great insights, per usual.
  • I’m not a gearhead, so this hasn’t been on my radar. JHS Pedals modifies existing pedals and builds their own. Over at the Pitch, the Wayward Blog has an item on JHS Music, their retail store that will open Friday in Grandview.