Saturday, March 01, 2008

Musicians in passing

A pair of notable musicians whose accomplishments deserve mention passed away during the previous week:

Buddy Miles, 60, drummer notable for his work with Jimi Hendrix and Santana. Miles began his recording career in 1967 with Electric Flag, and came to prominence as a member of Jimi Hendrix' short-lived Band Of Gypsies. His drumming style was aggressive and funky, and a fine compliment to Hendrix' guitar heroics. After the Band Of Gypsies, Miles recorder several solo LP's. His signature track, "Them Changes", was a FM rock radio staple during the 70's. Miles recorded a live album with Carlos Santana in 1972 feturing solid work from both musicians. He also worked with Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and George Clinton, among many others, and in the 80's sang lead vocals on the California Raisins commercials.

Mike Smith, 64, lead vocalist and keyboards player of the Dave Clark Five. Dave Clark was the drummer; Mike Smith sang lead on most of the group's biggest hits. Smith met Clark when they were soccer teammates during their teens; when Clark's first singer quit he offered Smith the job. Smith's soulful shouting fit the DC5's percussive stomping style well. I've felt that the DC5 were a bit underrated; records like "Glad All Over" and "Bits And Pieces" were simple, righteous noise - rock 'n' roll in pure form. Their reputation suffered some as their style didn't adapt well to the more "progressive" sounds that British rock evolved into in the late 60's and 70's. After the run of hits ended, Smith was also successful as a record producer. Sadly, Smith died only two weeks before the Dave Clark Five's scheduled induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.