Anyhow, it's time again to reflect on the people who passed away in 2013 whose lives and talents made a difference in my life. There were several notable deaths in 2013, chief among them Nelson Mandela, but those people had no direct impact on me. The people below did.
Marian McPartland. I didn't realize how much of an impact she had on me until her death. It seems that I've been listening to her great public radio program, Piano Jazz, forever and indeed, it was pretty close to forever... over three decades. I only heard her perform live once, but I grew to know and love her on that radio every week.
Jim Hall. One of the premier jazz guitarists of all time. His music is timeless. I can pull one of his old LPs out of the bookcase and still enjoy it as much as I did fifty years ago. There aren't many musicians I can say that about.
Peter O'Toole. Lawrence of Arabia is still my favorite movie of all time. I can hardly tire of it and still stop and watch at least some of it every time I come across it. O'Toole was brilliant. Not to say that his other films weren't, there's just something special about Lawrence. (T.E. Lawrence's book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, is a must read for anyone who loves high adventure and really wants to know the truth behind the Middle East) I really love pretty much everything O'Toole did and he's one of the few actors who will attract me to a film just because he's in it.
J.J. Cale. I don't even know where to start. An artist who pretty much flew under the radar for most people but who influenced everyone from Eric Clapton to Mark Knopfler. Of course, Clapton made After Midnight and Cocaine huge hits and Cale used to say that if it wasn't for Eric he would probably be selling shoes. It didn't hurt that Lynyrd Skynyrd made They Call Me The Breeze a hit as well as Dire Straits including Southbound on their first album. It was my great pleasure to have twice seen him live and up close in a small club.
George Jones. I never cared much for George as a kid, but as I grew older, he grew on me. Definitive drinking man's country blues. Like Hank before him, he lived the part and you can tell it in his music. Whenever I play and sing a country tune you can hear a little of George's influence there. So, in some small way, he will always be with me.
Richie Havens. I had to think a little about this one. For the past ten years or so a friend of mine, Walter Parks, played guitar and toured with Richie so I couldn't shake the feeling that I was including him in this list because of Walter's connection. Then, I remembered how much hope and love Richie gave us all in the 60s and realized that he affected me more than I really knew.
Alvin Lee. I couldn't get enough of Ten Years After, a kick-ass rock band with Alvin burning up the guitar. "I tell the truth, I ain't no star, I only shout and leave the rest to my guitar!" I prayed that the Stones would pick him to replace Brian Jones when he died but alas, twas not to be. I can only imagine how good the Stones would have been with a real lead guitarist.
Tony Sheridan. Another one of those under the radar things for most Americans but someone who was at the top of the British pop charts in the early to mid-60s when I was stationed in Germany and eating up the rise of the British revolution. I was at the famous Star Club in Hamburg when Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers played there. If you haven't figured it out, the Beat Brothers became the Beatles. What a blast. Of course, the Beat Brothers didn't mean much to me then, that was before they were the Beatles. I went to see Tony. He was on the jukebox.
Jonathan Winters. If I was to condense all of the laughs this guy has given me over the years into one long laugh I would surely die from lack of breath long before I was half way through. It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World is still one of my all-time favorites and Jonathan Winters stole the show.
May the new year bring peace and love to all.