Musical Birthdays & Deaths by Month
Woody Guthrie 1967 (b.1912) – was an American singer-songwriter who is regarded as one of the most significant figures in American folk music; his songs, including social justice songs, such as “This Land Is Your Land” (a response to what he felt was an overplaying of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on the radio) have inspired several generations both politically and musically. He wrote hundreds of political, folk, and children’s songs, along with ballads and improvised works. His album of songs about the Dust Bowl period, Dust Bowl Ballads, is included on Mojomagazine’s 100 Records That Changed The World. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Hunter, Harry Chapin, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Andy Irvine, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jerry Garcia, Jay Farrar, Bob Weir, Jeff Tweedy, Bob Childers, Sammy Walker, Tom Paxton and Andrew Jackson Jihad have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence. He frequently performed with the slogan This machine kills fascists displayed on his guitar.
Kevin Godley 1945 – is an English musician and music video director. He is known as the drummer of the art rock band 10cc and for his collaboration outside the band with Lol Creme. He and Creme left 10cc in 1977, early into the recording of the album Deceptive Bends, claiming that their contributions were being ignored in favor of songs by bandmates Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman. After leaving 10cc the two became known as Godley & Creme, both as musicians and film directors. They were jointly nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Long Form for: The Police: Synchronicity Concert in 1986.
John Mellencamp 1951 – is an American musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and actor. He is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. Mellencamp rose to fame in the 1980’s while “honing an almost startlingly plainspoken writing style that, starting in 1982, yielded a string of Top 10 singles”, including “Hurts So Good”, “Jack & Diane”, “Crumblin’ Down”, “Pink Houses”, “Lonely Ol’ Night”, “Small Town”, “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”, “Paper in Fire”, and “Cherry Bomb”. He has amassed 22 Top 40 hits in the United States. In addition, he holds the record for the most tracks by a solo artist to hit number one on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, with seven. Johnny Cash called Mellencamp “one of the 10 best songwriters” in music.
Tico Torres 1953 – is an American musician, artist, and entrepreneur, best known as the drummer, percussionist, and a songwriter for American rock band Bon Jovi. Before joining Bon Jovi in 1983, Torres had already played live with Joe Cerisano’s R-Band aka Silver Condor in the New Jersey Rock circuit, and in the studio with Franke and the Knockouts, Pat Benatar, Chuck Berry, Cher, Alice Cooper and Stevie Nicks, recording a total of 26 albums with these artists. Tico was also one of the drummers auditioned by Kiss in 1980 after original drummer Peter Criss left the band.
Ricky Phillips 1953 – is an American bass guitarist and the current bass player for the rock band Styx. He has also played in Nasty Habit, as a member of The Babys and Bad English, and with Coverdale-Page and Ted Nugent. Phillips and his former Bad English bandmate Neal Schon also played with former Montrose members Sammy Hagar and Denny Carmassi on a live version of the Montrose song “Rock Candy”.
Samantha Brown 1964 – is an English singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and record producer. Brown came to prominence in the late 1980’s as a solo artist, releasing six singles that entered the Top 75 charts in the UK during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Her solo singles, sometimes dealing with lost love included “Stop!”, “This Feeling”, “Can I Get a Witness”, “Kissing Gate”, “With a Little Love” and “Just Good Friends”. She is also known for her work as a session backing vocalist, artists she had worked with included Small Faces, Spandau Ballet, Adam Ant, Jon Lord (of Deep Purple), Pink Floyd (also David Gilmour), The Firm, Gary Moore, George Harrison and Nick Cave.
Thom Yorke 1968 – is an English musician and composer best known as the singer and principal songwriter of the alternative rock band Radiohead. A multi-instrumentalist, Yorke mainly plays guitar and piano and works extensively with synthesisers, sequencers and programming. He is known for his falsetto vocals; in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the 66th greatest singer of all time. Radiohead signed to Parlophone; their early hit “Creep” made Yorke a celebrity, and Radiohead have gone on to achieve critical acclaim and sales of over 30 million albums.
John Lennon 1940 (d.1980) – was an English singer, songwriter, musician, and activist who co-founded The Beatles, the most commercially successful and musically influential band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. His first band, the Quarrymen, was named the Silver Beatles, and finally evolved into the Beatles in 1960. When the group disbanded in 1970, Lennon embarked on a sporadic solo career that produced albums including John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and songs such as “Give Peace a Chance”, “Working Class Hero”, and “Imagine”. By 2012 (thirty-two years after his death), Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States had exceeded 14 million units. He is responsible for 25 number-one singles on the US Hot 100 chart as a writer, co-writer, or performer. In 2002, Lennon was voted eighth in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all time. In 1987, he was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lennon was twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—first in 1988 as a member of the Beatles and again in 1994 as a solo artist.
John Entwistle 1944 (d.2002) – was an English bass guitarist, singer, songwriter, and film and music producer. In a music career that spanned more than 40 years, Entwistle was best known as the original bass guitarist for the English rock band The Who. He was the only member of the band to have formal musical training. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Who in 1990. He was nicknamed “The Ox” and “Thunderfingers,” the latter because his digits became a blur across the four-string fretboard. In 2011, he was voted as the greatest bass guitarist of all time in a Rolling Stonemagazine reader’s poll, and in its special “100 Greatest Bass Players” issue in 2017, Bass Player Magazine named Entwistle at number seven. According to the Biography Channel, Entwistle is considered by many to be the best rock bass guitarist that ever lived, and is considered to have done for the bass what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar. In 1990, Entwistle toured with the Best, a short-lived supergroup which included Keith Emerson, Joe Walsh, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, and Simon Phillips. In 1995, Entwistle also toured and recorded with Ringo Starr in one of the incarnations of Starr’s All-Starr Band. This one also featured Billy Preston, Randy Bachman, and Mark Farner. In this ensemble, he played and sang “Boris the Spider” as his Who showpiece, along with “My Wife”.
Nona Hendryx 1944 – is an American vocalist, record producer, songwriter, musician, author, and actress. Hendryx is known for her work as a solo artist as well as for being one-third of the trio Labelle, who had a hit with “Lady Marmalade.” After a short-lived tenure as a member of the Del-Capris, Hendryx and Sarah Dash formed a singing group with Patricia Holte aka Patti Labelle (once the lead singer of a girl group in Philadelphia called The Ordettes). In 1961, Cindy Birdsong, from Camden, New Jersey, became the fourth member of the group, who became the ‘Bluebelles’ and signed their first deal with Newtown Records. After the release of their debut hit, 1962’s “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman”, their name altered again to Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. Hendryx’s husky alto differed from Dash’s sharp soprano, LaBelle’s mezzo-soprano and Birdsong’s second soprano. During this tenure, the group became known for their emotional live performances and their renditions of classic standards such as “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “Over The Rainbow”and “Danny Boy”. The group often found themselves competing against girl groups such as The Chantels, Shirelles and The Supremes. In 1967, Hendryx, LaBelle and Dash were shocked to discover that Birdsong had secretly joined the Supremes after Florence Ballard was ousted from the group by Motown.
Jackson Browne 1948 – is an American singer, songwriter, and musician who has sold over 18 million albums in the United States. Coming to prominence in the 1970’s, Browne has written and recorded songs such as “These Days”, “The Pretender”, “Running on Empty”, “Lawyers in Love”, “Doctor My Eyes”, “Take It Easy”, “For a Rocker”, and “Somebody’s Baby”. Browne’s first songs, such as “Shadow Dream Song” and “These Days”, were recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Tom Rush, Nico, Steve Noonan, Gregg Allman, Joan Baez, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, the Byrds, and others. Browne did not release his own versions of these early songs until years later. In 1971, Browne signed with his manager David Geffen’s Asylum Records and released Jackson Browne (1972) produced and engineered by Richard Orshoff, which included the piano-driven “Doctor My Eyes”, which entered the Top Ten in the US singles chart. Running on Empty (1977), recorded entirely on tour, became his biggest commercial success. Breaking the usual conventions for a live album, Browne used only new material and combined live concert performances with recordings made on buses, in hotel rooms, and back stage. Running on Empty contains some of his most popular songs, such as the title track, “Rosie”, and “The Load-Out/Stay” (Browne’s send-off to his concert audiences and roadies).
Sean Lennon 1975 – is an American singer, songwriter and actor. He is the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and was born on his father’s 35th birthday. His parents kick-started his musical career: his debut into the music world came at age five, when he recited a story on his mother’s 1981 album, Season of Glass. From childhood into his teen years, Lennon continued to collaborate with his mother, contributing vocals and receiving production credit on her solo albums It’s Alright, Starpeace and Onobox. At 16 Lennon co-wrote the song “All I Ever Wanted” with Lenny Kravitz for his 1991 album Mama Said. By 1995 Lennon had formed the band IMA (with Sam Koppelman and Timo Ellis) to play alongside his mother on her album Rising. Lennon also made appearances in film, featured in the cast of Michael Jackson’s 1988 Moonwalker and portraying a teenager experiencing visions of various M. C. Escher prints in Sony’s 1990 promotional short-film Infinite Escher.