In the past week I posted about classic concerts I had attended in the last few years and it got me to thinking about the performers that are no longer with us that I never had the pleasure seeing perform. This list is compiled alphabetically to avoid having to choose artists in order of importance. If someone is not on the list it is either because I saw them live, there was only thirteen slots, or I had no desire to see them.
1. The Beatles – Who wouldn’t want to see the fab four in concert? As a child I remember the excitement they generated when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. That was the first time I saw girls screaming and crying. Although I liked their songs I did not understand what all the hype was all about. I understand now.
2. Ray Charles - This artist was a major player in the music industry, He recorded over five decades, starting in the golden age of Rock and Roll, but he was never really considered a Rock and Roll star, like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, or Fats Domino. He was in a class all his own and he could definitely "make it do what it do".
3. Patsy Cline – Arguably one of the best voices in the last century, most definitely one of the best country singer of all time. Her voice and style transcended country music making it impossible to pigeonhole her. She is to country music what Aretha Franklin is to Rhythm and Blues, often replicated, but never duplicated.
4. Sam Cooke - Mr. Smooth. He voice like velvet and a debonair air about him made that made him timeless. This guy was a class act with women falling at his feet. Hearing his self-penned ballad "A Change is Going to Come" can still invoke tears.
5. The Four Tops - One of the premier acts of the Motown label, with one of the best lead singers in the business (Levi Stubbs). What was rare about this group was that they were able to maintain the same line-up until illness and death caught up with them in later years. The group was the recipients of countless awards and accolades, but when think of Mr. Stubbs it is to remember him fondly as the man-eating plant in "The Little Shop Of Horrors"..."That guy sure looks like plant food to me!"
6. Marvin Gaye - My favorite male singer of all time bar none. Mr. Gaye had a huge career as a Motown artist, but in the late 60's he began to write about social conscientiousness, resulting in a total shift in his singing style and focus. He is also known for performing duets with such artists as Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Diana Ross, and of course Tammi Terrell. His untimely death the day before his 45th birthday was a blow to entertainment industry and the fans who loved him through good times and bad.
7. Jimi Hendrix - Could be the best guitar player ever. Started out performing with Little Richard and the Isley Brothers before striking out on his on. If you listen to Ernie Isley's guitar playing you can definitely hear hints of Hendricks who Isley claims taught him to play. Hendrix's' star was on the rise and he was much sought after performer until his involvement with drugs cut his life short.
8. Janis Joplin - Affectionately known as "Pearl", The Bette Midler movie The Rose was loosely based on her life. At first she patterned the singing styles of African-American artist, such as, Bessie Smith and Odetta before she fell into a style of her own. Her performances are legendary as much for her on stage antics as for her singing, but footage proves she was electrifying. Ms. Joplin was also responsible for purchasing a tombstone for Bessie Smith's unmarked grave.
9. Bob Marley - Jamaica's finest who became a world renowned king of reggae music.Marley was an artist who transcended all categories, classes, and creeds through a combination of innate modesty and profound wisdom. Bob Marley may yet prove to be the most significant musical artist of the twentieth century.
10. Wilson Pickett - Much of my youth was spent listening to songs by the "wicked" Mr. Pickett. My uncle had a record player in his car that 45 rpm records. This contraption was the predecessor to the 8 track tape player. I love "Mustang Sally", "The Midnight Hour" and of course "Land of 1000 Dances". Mr. Pickett even did justice to the Archie's song "Sugar, Sugar".
11. Elvis Presley - Yeah I said it. Look even though I do not believe he was the "king of Rock and Roll" I do believe he made a major contribution in that he made Rock and Roll (race music) more acceptable among the masses. As a child I remember going to the drive-in with my aunt all decked out in my pajamas in order to see the latest Elvis movie. She was a huge fan of "The Pelvis" and it was contagious I must admit.
12. Otis Redding - Notably the only Rhythm & Blues (Soul) singer to perform at California's Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Mr. Redding was one of your more exciting performers of the time and was highly revered by acts like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Backing him up at this particular function was Booker T. & M.G's. Tragically he died in a plane crash a few months later.
13. Minnie Riperton - Ms. Riperton possessed a five octave vocal range and could imitate various instruments. Before striking out on her own she sang back up for Etta James, Fontella Bass, and Stevie Wonder, as well as fronting a group called Rotary Connection. She was cut down in the prime of her life and the height of her career by breast cancer.
Who are some of the acts that you wished you had seen in concert, but will never be able to because they are no longer with us or incapacitated to a degree in which they will never perform again? Please check out the custom player posted below to view footage from the above mentioned acts.
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