Archive for December, 2012

R.I.P. Fontella Bass

December 28, 2012

July 3, 1940-December 26, 2012

Fontella Bass was born in St. Louis and learned gospel from her mother, Martha Bass, a member of the Ward Singers. She played piano for her mother but eventually got the itch to sing secular music. By the early 1960s she was playing with Little Milton, a blues guitarist and singer with links to the Chess label in Chicago.

After early recordings with Little Milton’s Bobbin label in St. Louis, she joined Chess and released her first records on its Checker subsidiary in early 1965. She had modest success on the R&B charts with a couple Bobby McClure duets, but her career was made by “Rescue Me,” released later that year.

A major crossover hit, the song reached No. 4 on Billboard’s pop chart and has remained a staple on oldies radio, movie soundtracks and television commercials.

Following a 1993 settlement from American Express for unpaid royalties, she said that she “rescued herself” when she began to stand up for her rights as an artist.

[Edited from full NY Times obituary …]

R.I.P. Bede Augustine Clarke

December 17, 2012

Last Tuesday I learned about the loss of a dear friend. He died on December 5.

When I met Bede at Parkville High School he was “Bud.” When we became friends he became “Clyde.” When he signed up as a Navy pilot he was Bede, and remained Bede from then on.

He was not a musician, despite the occasional trombone lesson I gave him. He was an artist, a sociologist, a writer, a philosopher, a military officer and Apache helicopter pilot. He lived mostly in Baltimore, MD, and part time in Gulfport, Alabama. I live far away from both of those, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We rarely saw each other over the last 40 years, and had very little contact, but our friendship always remained.

Bede loved my wife and I — he was Best Man at our wedding in 1968 — and we loved him. I never missed him more than the day I learned he was gone. Now, I’ve missed him every day since and will continue to miss him each and every day to come.

Bede A. Clarke

Bede A. Clarke - April, 1967

Bede Clarke, taken 2011 at the Naval Aviation Museum