Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night music feature on This Just In.
The weekend has finally arrived.
The sun has set.
The evening sky has erupted.
Let's smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.
Tonight, a look at some of the artists we lost in 2013.
Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for The Doors died last May of bile duct cancer. He was 74. Manzarek met fellow student Jim Morrison while studying film at UCLA in 1965. The two wanted to start a band with an emphasis on Morrison’s poetry. They added drummer John Densmore. Manzarek had met him at a transcendental meditation class. Densmore introduced them to his friend Robby Krieger, a guitarist. The Doors debuted in 1967 and charted 15 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 until Morrison's death in 1971 at age 27.
Manzarek once said, "I'm basically a cocktail jazz kind of pianist. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a very good keyboard player."
Of Tony Sheridan, the New York Times wrote:
“Though Mr. Sheridan’s involvement with the Beatles was brief, it proved crucial to their career. They met in 1960, when the Beatles — then a quintet that included John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison on guitars, Stuart Sutcliffe on bass and Pete Best on drums — arrived in Hamburg to work as a club band.
“Mr. Sheridan, already an accomplished performer, was also playing in Hamburg, and the Beatles both admired his work and emulated his performance style.
“In the spring of 1961, the German producer and composer Bert Kaempfert offered recording contracts to both Mr. Sheridan and the Beatles, with the intention of using the Beatles as Mr. Sheridan’s backup band, but with the option of recording them separately as well.
“During sessions in Hamburg in 1961 and 1962, Mr. Sheridan and the Beatles recorded nine songs together.
“When the first single from the sessions, ‘My Bonnie’ — a rocked-up version of the folk ballad, ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’— was released in Germany on the Polydor label in October 1961, Beatles’ fans in Liverpool flooded local record shops with requests for the disc. One shop manager, Brian Epstein, decided to see what all the fuss was about, and caught a performance by the group at the Cavern, a club not far from his store. He quickly persuaded the Beatles to hire him as their manager…”
Tony Sheridan died last February. He was 72.
For a time during the British Invasion of the 1960's, the Dave Clark Five enjoyed the same massive popularity as the Beatles. The group had a sound at times that had a hint of the blues.
Bass player Rick Huxley was a founding member of the band. A heavy smoker, Huxley died of emphysema last February at the age of 72. Dave Clark called news of Huxley’s death “devastating.”
Only two members of the group are still alive: Clark and guitarist Lenny Davidson.
"The Birds and the Bees" was the only hit record for Jewel Akens. In 1965 Akens was in a group called the Turnarounds when they were offered the song, but other members didn't like it so Akens recorded it solo. It went to #3 on the Billboard charts.
Akens died last March from back surgery complications. He was 79.
In the 1970's, famed jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd who taught at Howard University formed a band with five of his students. The Blackbyrds performed soul, funk and R & B and had a string of hit recordings.
Critics were unkind. The Washington Post described Byrd’s change in style as “monotonous, over-amplified, disco-style noodling.”
“I’m creative. I’m not re-creative,” Byrd told the Detroit Free Press in 1999. “I don’t follow what everybody else does. One of the proverbs my father used to say is, ‘If you’re not first, be among the first.’ Everything I’ve done others have tried to copy.”
Byrd died last February at the age of 80.
Others who died in 2013 as reported by the Associated Press:
Patti Page, 85. Singer whose "Tennessee Waltz" was one of the bestselling recordings ever. Jan. 1.
Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, 69. Frontman for the hit-making funk band the Ohio Players. Jan. 26.
Patty Andrews, 94. Last of the singing Andrews Sisters trio, whose hits such as the rollicking "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" captured the homefront spirit of World War II. Jan. 30.
Mindy McCready, 37. She hit the top of the country music charts before personal problems sidetracked her career. Feb. 17. Apparent suicide.
Cleotha Staples, 78. Eldest sibling in the influential gospel group The Staple Singers. Feb. 21.
Van Cliburn, 78. Pianist whose triumph at a 1958 Moscow competition helped thaw the Cold War and launched a career that made him the rare classical musician to enjoy rock-star status. Feb. 27.
Annette Funicello, 70. Child star as a Mouseketeer on "The Mickey Mouse Club" in the 1950s, who then teamed up with Frankie Avalon on a string of '60s beach movies. April 8. Complications from multiple sclerosis.
George Jones, 81. Hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets, including the classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today." April 26.
Slim Whitman, 90. Country singer who sold millions of records through TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s, and whose yodeling voice saved the world in the film comedy "Mars Attacks!" June 19.
Bobby "Blue" Bland, 83. Singer who blended Southern blues and soul in songs such as "Turn on Your Love Light" and "Further On Up the Road." June 23.
George Duke, 67. Grammy-winning keyboardist and producer whose sound infused acoustic jazz, electronic jazz, funk, R&B and soul in a 40-year-plus career. Aug. 5.
Lou Reed, 71. Punk poet of rock 'n' roll who influenced generations of musicians as leader of the Velvet Underground and remained a vital solo performer for decades after. Oct. 27.
That’s it for this week’s segment.
Have a great weekend filled with warm memories.