Another 2016 musical passing

Bill “Will Robinson” Mumy reports on Facebook that Dan Hicks has died. Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks was one of my musical acquisitions in high school that came from listening to WBCN in Boston. Here’s one of their best known recordings.

The first example of Dan Hicks I heard on ‘BCN was “The Jukies’ Ball,” that I heard as sounding like “The Junkie’s Ball.” Later, I scratched the same musical itch by listening to Robert Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders.


John Lennon credited Yoko for the sound of Kate and Cindy in the B-52’s, and he had a point, but only up to a point. Lene Lovich played around with her voice to great effect. Here’s a recent example of how attractive a quirky vocal can be, from Boston’s Heather Maloney. The studio recording has horns, and you’ll be able to tell where they’re supposed to come in.

Johnny D’s in Davis Square, Somerville, MA, where this video was recorded, will be closing soon.

Blaine Wreck on the tracks

The Wrecking Crew was a rag-tag band of the top studio musicians in Los Angeles who weren’t a band. With Hal Blaine on drums, they played on an uncountable number of hit records in the Sixties.

From Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound to the Mama’s and Papas, to the first Monkees records, the Wrecking Crew was there. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass was actually Herb Alpert and the Wrecking Crew. Brian Wilson gave guitarist Glen Campbell his first public exposure by plucking him out of the crew and putting him on tour with the Beach Boys.

The Wrecking Crew ran from studio to studio, working gig upon gig, playing on track after track, and now “The Wrecking Crew” documentary, produced by the son of late guitarist Tommy Tedesco, is available streaming on Netflix.

Cilla fades to black

Cilla White with Ritchie Starkey
Cilla White with Ritchie Starkey

Cilla White was a coat room girl at the Cavern Club, and like other Liverpool natives she found her future in popular music. Switching her name from White to Black, Cilla joined Brian Epstein’s stable of performers, working with George Martin and Paul McCartney.

Cilla Black and Paul McCartney
Cilla Black and Paul McCartney, recording ‘Step Inside Love,’ 1968

Although Cilla never achieved the fame in America that was enjoyed by Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, she was very popular in England, where she was a household name to generations of fans. Cilla passed away earlier today.