Patrick, our guest conductor for this month, has given us an easy one this week: Musicians who celebrate a birthday in March. I found this list and started, and had to stop myself at 14 because I kept seeing musicians that I wanted to include. Finally, I said “save some for next week!” Since the playlist is a wee bit long, you might want to click this link and save it for later. Anyway, Happy Birthday to…
- Harry Belafonte, who celebrated his 92nd birthday on March 1. The song I chose for him is “Jamaica Farewell,” from his 1956 album Calypso. My aunts used to play this one all the time and it about drove me nuts…
- Larry Carlton, session guitarist extraordinaire who has done some amazing solo albums. He turned 71 on March 2. “Bubble Shuffle” is from his 1989 album On Solid Ground. Larry is known as “Mr. 335,” because his guitar of choice is generally a Gibson ES-335, though he’s playing a Les Paul Studio here.
- Karen Carpenter, one half of the Carpenters, who would have been 69 on March 2 had bulimia not shortened her life to just under 33 years. “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” is from their 1977 album Passage. In the words of one commenter, this song proves that Karen Carpenter could sing the phone book and get an emotional response.
- Arthel “Doc” Watson, who would be 96 on March 3 but who died in 2012. He is a legend in bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel guitar, blind since before his first birthday, who could also play the banjo, harmonica, and probably anything else you gave him. I heard Howlin’ Wolf’s version of “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” years ago, but Doc’s is amazing.
- British blues-rocker Chris Rea‘s celebrated his 68th birthday on March 4. He’s now doing more straight-ahead blues, but he recorded “On The Beach,” in 1986 for the album of the same name. He re-recorded it in 1988 and it reached #9 on the US Adult Contemporary chart. Great song no matter what.
- The late Andy Gibb‘s would have been 61 on March 5. Sadly, he died just after his 30th birthday in 1988 of natural causes brought on by years of drug and alcohol addiction. “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” was a #1 hit in the US and Canada in 1977.
- Wes Montgomery died of a heart attack in 1968 when he was just 45, but we celebrated his 96th birthday on March 6. “Bumpin’ On Sunset” is from his 1966 album Tequila, his last album for Verve Records, and features a string section conducted by Claus Ogerman. Wes’ unusual approach to the guitar was particularly conducive to playing octaves, which he does almost all the way through this piece.
- Micky Dolenz, drummer and sometimes front man for The Monkees as well as a former child actor who starred in the series Circus Boy, turned 74 on March 8. “Randy Scouse Git,” a 1967 composition by Micky that was released under the name “Alternate Title” in the UK because the original title was deemed to be taboo for British audiences (despite the fact that Micky heard it on a British TV show) nonetheless became a #2 hit there. It was also released on the US album Headquarters and is on a number of compilation albums. The late Peter Tork said it was one of his favorite Monkees songs.
- Mark Lindsay, former lead singer for Paul Revere and The Raiders, turned 77 on March 9. “Arizona” was his greatest solo hit from 1970. Shoulda stayed with The Raiders, Mark… He now lives in Maine.
- Moving up a little further into March, Jerry Reed would turn 82 on the 20th if he hadn’t died in 2008. A fantastic guitarist (he was honored as a Certified Guitar Player by his buddy Chet Atkins), singer, songwriter and all-around funny guy, Jerry starred in the Smokey and The Bandit movies and provided the music for them, including the song “East Bound and Down,” which reached #2 on the US and Canada country charts in 1977.
- The incredible Sister Rosetta Tharpe, singer and guitarist who was influential in blues, rock, and gospel, would be 104 the same day as Jerry. “Didn’t It Rain” was recorded live in 1964 in Manchester, England as part of The British Tours of “The American Folk Blues Festival”. I don’t know what the second song is, but it rocks pretty heavy, too.
- Christian rocker and fantastic guitarist Phil Keaggy turns 68 on March 23. “In The Light of the Common Day” is from his 1991 album Beyond Nature, a collection of instrumental guitar pieces. It’s a great album that I recommend highly.
- The lovely Chaka Khan, who started with Chicago’s The American Breed, which morphed into Rufus in the ’70’s, shares a birthday with Phil Keaggy. She’ll turn 66 this year. “I Feel For You” is the title track from her 1984 solo LP. A song written and originally done by Prince, it features Stevie Wonder’s harmonica and Grandmaster Melle Mel’s rapping. This song reignited her career, reaching #1 in the UK and on the R&B and Dance charts and #3 on the Hot 100 and was certified gold in the US and UK.
- Finally, a very, very happy 102nd birthday on Wednesday to Dame Vera Margaret Lynn, DBE, better known as just Vera Lynn, whose version of “The White Cliffs of Dover” was a huge hit with the troops during World War II.
And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for March 18, 2019.