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DJ Alan 'Fluff' Freeman
Written by Paul Rance
Monday, 5 February 2006 

Australian born DJ Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, who died on November 27th, 2006, in Twickenham, England, was one of the most famous disc jockeys to appear on British radio, and his "Alright, pop pickers? Alright!" and "Not 'arf!" catchphrases are remembered with affection.

Born in Melbourne on July 6th, 1927, Alan Freeman had early inspirations to become an opera singer, but soon realised he had little chance of becoming successful, and so decided to try his hand in radio. He went for an audition at Tasmanian radio station 7LA in 1952, where he became a Jack of all trades. He went back to Melbourne to work for 3KZ, and in 1957 he took some leave to travel round the world. When he visited London he decided to stay, and became a DJ on Radio Luxembourg, having a stint on that revered station until the early 1970s.

Freeman's radio career soon began to flourish, and he gained a spot on the BBC 'Light Programme' in 1961, and later that year he introduced 'Pick Of The Pops', which began as part of a radio show called 'Trad Tavern'. 'Pick Of The Pops' became a show the following year, and by the end of the decade Alan Freeman was one of the most well known disc jockeys in Britain, as he often fronted the legendary BBC TV show 'Top Of The Pops' and was a regular on the 'Juke Box Jury' panel - the latter TV show being about as popular as 'Top Of The Pops' in the 1960s. Freeman was just as popular in the 1970s, and became a daily presenter on Radio 1 in 1972, often championing youth clubs and youth causes. From 1973 to 1978 he hosted a heavy and progressive rock show, simply titled 'Rock Show', with an album chart rundown. He left the Beeb to join London station Capital Radio in 1979, and stayed until 1988, when he rejoined the BBC. Both Freeman's popular shows, 'The Rock Show' and 'Pick Of The Pops' accompanied him to Capital, and back again on Radio 1, when he returned to the BBC. He left the BBC again in 1993, and went on to do shows for Capital Radio, Classic FM, and Virgin Radio, before rejoining the BBC again in 1997, and presenting 'Pick Of The Pops' - this time on Radio 2. With arthritis severely affecting him, Alan Freeman left the BBC for the final time in 2000, with Dale Winton taking over as host of 'Pick Of The Pops'.

Alan Freeman died after a short illness, but had been in fragile health for several years. Another DJ legend, the late John Peel, said of him: "Fluff was the greatest out-and-out disc jockey of them all." Freeman was also the unwitting model for Harry Enfield's TV character Dave Nice, of 'Smashie & Nicey' fame, and Freeman played along with the gag appearing on the show. The nickname 'Fluff' apparently came from a jumper he once wore in Australia, which had, inadvertently, balls of white fluff stuck to it.

Love's Arthur Lee
Written by Paul Rance
Friday, 4 August 2006 

The frontman of the revered 1960s band Love, Arthur Lee, died in Memphis on August 3rd, of leukaemia.

Born in Memphis, on March 7th, 1945, Arthur Lee was one of the two main black rock stars of the '60s, along with Jimi Hendrix. Calling himself the "first black hippie", Lee formed the very influential Los Angeles band Love in 1965. Lee being the band's singer, as well as playing several instruments, including guitar, and being one of the songwriters. Love were to influence such major rock figures as Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett (ironically, both Lee and Barrett had mental health problems).

A multiracial band, Love's music was mainly a mix of rock, blues, and psychedelia, with a curious Latin twist. Their most famous album being 'Forever Changes', and their most famous song being the emotive 'Alone Again Or', though '7 & 7 Is' and 'Out Here' were the only singles which sold well. Even 'Forever Changes' was only a minor hit - in England - but grew in stature as an album years after its 1967 release.

Arthur Lee was well respected by his peers, and Jimi Hendrix featured on the 1970 Love track 'The Everlasting First'. Hendrix also came up with the name Band-Aid for an earlier Lee/Hendrix project with Stevie Winwood, which failed to materialise, but Lee kept the name in mind for the backing band on his 1972 debut solo album, 'Vindicator'. The most famous Band Aid were still 12 years away, of course.

Though a legendary figure to many, Arthur Lee never became the household name he could have been. His life was blighted by problems, which hindered his ability to recapture his creative highs of the 1960s. As well as his own health problems, Lee looked after his father in the 1980s, who was dying of cancer. Lee later served a five year jail term, being released in 2001, for illegal possession of a firearm. An ignominious situation for a man who had espoused peace and love. But Arthur Lee did have one great period of renaissance late in his career. 2002 saw the successful 'Love With Arthur Lee' tour of Europe and North America, including live versions of the whole 'Forever Changes' album.

Arthur Lee Albums Discography

With Love
Love (1966)
Da Capo (1967)
Forever Changes (1967)
Four Sail (1969)
Out Here (1969)
False Start (1970)
Reel To Real (1974)
Love Live (1982)
Studio/Live (1982)
Arthur Lee & Love (1992)
Love Story (1995)

Vindicator (1972)
Black Beauty (1973)
Arthur Lee (1981)

'Fifth Beatle' Billy Preston
Written by Paul Rance
Wednesday, 7 June 2006 

Born in Houston, Texas, on September 9th, 1946, American keyboard wizard, Billy Preston, had a good case for being called the fifth Beatle. He was best known for playing on Beatles classics 'Something', 'Get Back', 'Let It Be', and 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)', and for performing with the group for the famous London rooftop gig (Preston's favourite music moment), which was The Beatles last ever live performance. He remained close to the band and was a calming influence when the group was imploding. Preston also played on George Harrison's seminal 'All Things Must Pass' album, John Lennon's 'Plastic Ono Band' album, and in Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band. He was also close to guitar legend Eric Clapton, who he toured with, and played on several of his albums. Preston played on several albums by The Rolling Stones, including the classic 'Exile On Main Street', plus he played on Bob Dylan's 'Blood On The Tracks' album, and Aretha Franklin's 'Young, Gifted And Black' album. Latterly, he played on the last album by Ray Charles, The Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Stadium Arcadium' album, and Neil Diamond's album, '12 Songs'. Preston, though, also had solo success with hits in the 1970s, with 'Outa-Space (he won a Best Pop Instrumental Performance Grammy for this 1973 track)' and 'Space Race', and the US number one singles, 'Will It Go Round In Circles (1973)' and 'Nothing From Nothing (1974)'. He co-wrote the Joe Cocker hit 'You Are So Beautiful', and duetted with Syreeta Wright on 'With You I'm Born Again', which reached no. 4 in the US singles chart in 1980.

Billy Preston was a child prodigy, who was playing the piano at the tender age of 3, and at the age of 10 was playing for the legendary gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. Preston was around the biggest stars in music from an early age. When he was yet to reach his teens he played a very young W.C. Handy in the 1958 film, 'St. Louis Blues', alongside Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Pearl Bailey. In the early 1960s Preston was touring with Little Richard and Ray Charles, and first met The Beatles at Hamburg's Star Club.

One of the most respected musicians of his generation, Billy Preston was a keyboard player par excellence. Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger said of him: "Billy was a fantastic and gifted musician." Stones guitarist Keith Richards added that Preston was "a genius with all the baggage". Elton John said: "He was one of my true inspirations, one of the greatest keyboard players of all time."

Probably, Billy Preston will be best remembered for his performance of 'That's The Way God Planned It', at the 1971 George Harrison-organised 'Concert For Bangladesh'. Preston performed like a man possessed, and his rendition probably did most to get the album a Best Album Grammy award. He upstaged George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan, who all performed at the event. Billy also played at the 2002 'Concert For George' - in memory of George Harrison. Preston would create a little bit of history by being on the first 'Saturday Night Live' in 1975, when he appeared on the legendary American TV show as a musical guest.

Billy Preston died on Tuesday, June 6th, 2006, in Scottsdale, Arizona, aged 59. He had had kidney problems for years, and had been in a coma since November, 2005. Preston had a life blighted by drug and drink problems, and falling foul of the law, but he was the only non-Beatle to be credited on a Beatles single. On 'Get Back', the label read: "The Beatles With Billy Preston". This was something which pleased Preston immensely, and was a fine tribute to his talent from the greatest group of them all.

Billy Preston Solo Albums Discography
(1965) The Most Exciting Organ Ever
(1965) Early Hits Of '65
(1966) The Wildest Organ In Town
(1967) Club Meeting
(1969) That's The Way God Planned It
(1970) Encouraging Words
(1971) I Wrote A Simple Song
(1972) Music Is My life
(1973) Everybody Likes Some Kind Of Music
(1974) Live European Tour 1973
(1974) The Kids And Me
(1975) It's My Pleasure
(1976) Billy Preston
(1977) A Whole New Thing
(1979) Late At Night
(1981) The Way I Am
(1982) Pressin' On
(1984) On The Air
(1986) You Can't Keep A Good Man Down
(1995) Billy's Back

Billy Preston CDs available from - in association with

Product image for ASIN: B00005Q3ZC Billy's Bag 1963-1966
That's the Way God Planned It That's the Way God Planned It


Billy Preston CDs available from - in association with

Product image for ASIN: B00004S5GD Ultimate Collection
Product image for ASIN: B000066EZQ 20th Century Masters

Boston's Brad Delp
Written by Paul Rance
Sunday, 11 March 2007

Boston lead singer Brad Delp, who tragically committed suicide on March 9th, 2007, aged 55, will always be remembered as the singer of one of the great rock anthems of the mid-1970s - 'More Than A Feeling'. Delp, who had been massively influenced by The Beatles, also worked with Beatles tribute band Beatlejuice and Return To Zero.

Brad Delp was found dead at home in Atkinson, New Hampshire. He was found by his fiancee Pamela in his bathroom, after dying of carbon monoxide poisoning after burning charcoal. Delp left notes to his family members, and a public note that read: "Mr. Brad Delp. I am a lonely soul."

A vegetarian, Brad Delp contributed to a number of charities. The official Boston website put up the following message, on hearing of his death: "We've just lost the nicest guy in rock and roll."

Reggae Legend Desmond Dekker
Written by Paul Rance
Saturday, 27 May 2006

Jamaican reggae pioneer, Desmond Dekker, died suddenly on Thursday aged 64 at his Surrey home. He was still performing, and had a concert planned for next week.

Desmond's sudden death of a heart attack sees the passing of a true reggae legend. Predominantly known for his 1969 hit, 'Israelites', it made Desmond Dekker the first reggae artist to have a number one single in the UK, and it was also a top ten hit in the US. Dekker's other famous recordings included his version of Jimmy Cliff's 'You Can Get It If You Really Want' and 'It Miek'. Another claim to fame for Desmond Dekker was that he was the Desmond mentioned in friend Paul McCartney's Beatles song, 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da'.

Desmond Dekker CDs available from - in association with

Freddie And The Dreamers Freddie Garrity
Written by Paul Rance
Sunday, 21 May 2006

Popular British singer Freddie Garrity died on Friday, in Bangor, North Wales, of emphysema. Aged 65, he had been ill since 2001.

Freddie Garrity was the lead singer of Freddie And The Dreamers, and was one of the most recognisable faces of British music in the 1960s, also appearing in films, and memorably on British children's show, 'Blue Peter'.

A zany showman, famous for his eccentric dance, 'The Freddie', Garrity and his band were formed in 1959, having to wait until 1963 for their first hit, 'If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody'.

Manchester-born Garrity never needed to go back to his first job as a milkman, as The Dreamers were successful both sides of the Atlantic, with 'I'm Telling You Now' selling a million and topping the US charts in 1965. Other hits included 'You Were Made For Me' and 'Over You'. As psychedelia kicked in, and a more sophisticated sound began to emerge in popular music from the mid-1960s onwards, the simple, albeit catchy songs of Freddie And The Dreams seemed passé. The group split in 1969, with Garrity going solo.

Freddie Garrity also had a spot on TV, as the host of 1970s show, 'Little Big Time'. Reforming in 1976, Freddie And The Dreamers were active until Freddie's illness struck in 2001. He is survived by wife Christine, and three daughters and a son.

Freddie & The Dreamers CDs available from - in association with

Freddie & The Dreamers CD available from - in association with

Pop Legend Gene Pitney
Written by Paul Rance
Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Gene Pitney, along with Scott Walker, was the champion of the dramatic, sometimes deliberately melodramatic, big pop sound.

Pitney's recent death, on April 4th, aged 65, in Cardiff, Wales, came in the middle of a UK tour. Born February 17th, 1941, in Hartford, Connecticut, Pitney spent much of his early years in Rockville, Connecticut, where he earnt the nickname 'The Rockville Rocket' - after his musical talents began to impress at high school.

Though primarily known as a singer, Gene Pitney's first real success in the music industry came as a writer. He wrote The Crystals 'He's A Rebel', Ricky Valence's 'Hello Mary Lou', and Bobby Vee's 'Rubber Ball' - all now considered pop classics.

In 1961 Pitney became a pop star in his own right. Collaborating with fellow young songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, '(I Wanna) Love My Life Away' became his first hit. Also in 1961, a bigger hit followed, 'Town Without Pity (a film of the same title contained the song)', which was nominated for a Best Song Oscar, and won a Golden Globe Best Song Award.

His 1963 song, 'Mecca', is often regarded as an early psychedelic record, with its Indian music influence - thus pre-dating The Beatles and The Byrds by a couple of years.

Though Gene Pitney's hits dried up in the US in the late 1960s, he was still successful in Europe in the early-mid 1970s. He was particularly popular in the UK and Italy, though he had to wait until his 1989 duet with Marc Almond, reviving his old song, 'Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart', for a UK number one single. Almond paid tribute to his former song partner, saying that he was "great and unique".

Gene Pitney's other most famous songs include '(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance', 'I'm Gonna Be Strong', and probably his most famous song of all, 'Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa'. In 2002, Pitney was inducted into 'The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame'.

N.B. Gene's family requested that people not send flowers to his funeral, but contributions to the Humane Society of the United States, through their website:, and/or to the Connecticut Public Broadcasting (1049 Asylum Ave., Hartford, CT 06105). Gene Pitney was buried in Somers Center Cemetery, Connecticut, on April 12th.

Gene Pitney CDs available from - in association with

Gene Pitney CDs available from - in association with

Four Tops Legend Levi Stubbs Obituary
Written by Paul Rance
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of one of the greatest Motown male groups, The Four Tops, died in his sleep in Detroit, Michigan, on October 17th, after years of ill health. He was 72.

With one of the most accomplished voices in the history of popular music, Levi Stubbs sang lead vocals on Four Tops classics 'Reach Out I'll Be There', 'Walk Away Renée', 'Baby I Need Your Loving', 'I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)', 'It's the Same Old Song', 'Standing in the Shadows of Love', and 'Bernadette'.

Four friends - Stubbs, Abdul 'Duke' Fakir, Renaldo 'Obie' Benson, and Lawrence Payton formed The Four Aims in 1954, and changed their name to The Four Tops two years later. They signed to Motown Records in 1963, and became one of the most successful groups of the 1960s. Payton died in 1997, and Benson died in 2005.

Born on June 6th, 1936, in Detroit, Levi Stubbles became Levi Stubbs, was a cousin of soul singer Jackie Wilson, and leaves behind wife Clineice (who he married in 1960) and their five children.

Dave Clark Five Singer And Keyboardist Mike Smith
Written by Paul Rance
Friday, 29 February 2008 

Born in Edmonton, London, Dave Clark Five lead singer and keyboardist Mike Smith died in a London hospital on February 28th, 2008, after a long struggle with paralysis from a 2003 spinal injury. He was 64. Mike also collaborated with a former lead singer of Manfred Mann, Mike D’Abo, produced a number of gold albums for Michael Ball, and was part of a gold album, vocally, when singing on a studio album version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical, 'Evita'.

Top 40 U.S. hits for The Dave Clark Five (DC5), written by Mike Smith and Dave Clark, included 'Glad All Over' (#6), 'Bits And Pieces' (#4), 'Can’t You See That’s She's Mine' (#4), 'Come Home' (#14), and 'Try Too Hard' (#12). The DC5 also had the hits 'Do You Love Me' (#11), 'Because' (#3), "Reelin’ And Rockin'' (#23), 'Catch Us If You Can' (#4, by Dave Clark & Lenny Davidson), 'I Like It Like That' (#7), 'Over And Over' (#1), 'You Got What It Takes' (#7), and 'Any Way You Want It' (#14).

Fortunes Lead Singer Rod Allen
Written by Paul Rance
Saturday, 11 January 2008 

The Fortunes lead singer Rod Allen, most famous for his vocal on 1965 hit single, 'You've Got Your Troubles', died on Janaury 10th of liver cancer. He was 63.

Rod Allen died at home in Coventry, and he leaves a wife and two children. The Fortunes website paid tribute to Rod's "wonderful voice and sparkling personality". A founding member of The Fortunes, Rod Allen's vocal talents also shone on The Fortunes 1964 song 'Caroline', which was adopted as the signature song by the British pirate radio station of the same name. 'You've Got Your Troubles', however, is the song the group are best remembered for, and it reached number two in the UK, and number seven in the US.

Fortunes Classic Band Line-Up
Rod Allen - born Rodney Bainbridge, 31 March 1944, Leicester – died 10 January 2008 - lead vocalist and bassist
Glen Dale - born Richard Garforth, 24 April 1943, Deal, Kent - guitarist
Shel Macrae - born Andrew Raeburn Semple, 8 March 1943, Burnbank, Scotland - co-lead vocalist, guitarist
Barry Pritchard - born 3 April 1944, Birmingham – died 11 January 1999 - guitarist
Andy Brown - born Andrew Brown, 7 January 1946, Birmingham - drummer
David Carr - born 4 August 1943, Leyton, London - keyboards

Fortunes UK Hit Singles
You've Got Your Troubles - 1965 - Number 2.
Here It Comes Again - 1965 - Number 4.
This Golden Ring - 1966 - Number 15.
Freedom Come, Freedom Go - 1971 - Number 6.
Storm In A Teacup - 1972 - Number 7.

Fortunes CDs at!

The Singles

The Very Best of the Fortunes

Fortunes Singles

Track Listing

1. Caroline
2. You've Got Your Troubles
3. Here It Comes Again
4. Golden Ring
5. You Gave Me Somebody To Love
6. Silent Street
7. Is It Really Worth Your While
8. Our Love Has Gone
9. Idol
10. Loving Cup
11. Seasons In The Sun
12. Celebration Of The Year
13. Ballad Of The Alamo
14. Books And Films
15. That Same Old Feeling
16. Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again
17. I Gotta Dream
18. Freedom Come Freedom Go
19. Storm In A Teacup
20. Baby By The Way

The Very Best of the Fortunes

Track Listing

1. You've Got Your Troubles
2. Here It Goes Again
3. Caroline
4. Looking Thru The Eyes Of Love
5. Come On Girl
6. All Cried Out
7. Is It Really Worth Your While
8. Maria
9. Coloured Lights
10. Look Homeward Angel
11. Voice Your Choice
12. Laughing Fit To Cry
13. Won't You Give Him (One More Chance)
14. Our Love Has Gone
15. This Empty Place
16. Silent Street
17. Summertime Summertime
18. This Golden Ring

Soul Legend Wilson Pickett Obituary
Written by Paul Rance
Saturday, 21 January 2006 

American soul legend Wilson Pickett died of a heart attack in Virginia, on Thursday. He was 64, and had been in declining health for some time.

Born in Alabama, Pickett was best known for his 1965 hit, 'In The Midnight Hour'. Other hits included 'Mustang Sally', and a cover of The Beatles 'Hey Jude'.

Pickett was a respected songweriter, and some massive names recorded his songs, including The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Booker T. and the MGs, Genesis, The Jam, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Bruce Springsteen.

Aretha Franklin described Pickett as "one of the greatest soul singers of all time."

Wilson Pickett Albums Discography
In The Midnight Hour (1965)
The Exciting Wilson Pickett (1966)
The Best Of Wilson Pickett (1967)
The Wicked Pickett (1967)
The Sound Of Wilson Pickett (1967)
I'm In Love (1967)
The Midnight Mover (1968)
Hey Jude (1968)
Wilson Pickett In Philadelphia (1970)
Right On (1970)
The Best Of Wilson Pickett, Vol. II (1971)
Don't Knock My Love (1972)
Mr. Magic Man (1973)
Wilson Pickett's Greatest Hits (1973)
Pickett In The Pocket (1974)
I Want You (1980)
American Soul Man (1987)
A Man And A Half: The Best of Wilson Pickett (1992)
It's Harder Now (1999)

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