Archive for Singers

Donna Summer

Posted in Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens with tags , , on February 8, 2021 by Cade

December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012

The undisputed Queen of Disco, Donna Summer (LaDonna Gaines) was a steady presence in the Billboard Top 40 for more than a decade in the 1970s and ’80s. Born in Boston, Summer took a very unconventional route to international stardom. She left high school and moved to New York City to pursue a career in musical theatre…specifically, she wanted to be in the groundbreaking show Hair. She ended up landing a role in the Munich production of the show. While in Germany, she began her recording career and eventually fell in with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and began writing, recording and shopping new songs all throughout Europe. In 1974, the trio was able to get her single, “Love to Love You Baby” into the hands of Casablanca Records in the U.S. It became a hit and a popular early track in the emerging Disco scene.

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Percy Sledge

Posted in Heavenly Gates Cemetery with tags , on January 4, 2021 by Cade

sledge2November 25, 1941 – April 14, 2015

Percy Sledge was a popular R&B and Soul singer in the 1960s and ’70s. He worked as an orderly in an Alabama hospital in his early years. Providential encounters through the hospital led to his distinctive and soulful voice getting discovered and he was offered a record contract. Sledge’s first recording produced what would become the signature song of his career: 1966’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Continue reading

J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson

Posted in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (TX) with tags , , on December 28, 2020 by Cade

bopper1October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959

“Hellooo Baby!”

Celebrity and tragedy often go hand in hand. Sometimes, the former leads to the latter. And sometimes, the latter solidifies the former.

Jiles Perry “J.P.” Richardson was a radio personality in East Texas whose biggest claim-to-fame by the time he was 26 was successfully pulling off a 5-day on-air marathon broadcast that found him spinning some 1,821 consecutive records. Known to his audience as “The Big Bopper,” Richardson also dabbled in songwriting. His songs caught the ear of Mercury records and, in 1958, Bopper’s novelty song “Chantilly Lace” started steadily climbing the charts.

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Eddie Kendricks

Posted in Elmwood Cemetery with tags , , , on December 21, 2020 by Cade

kendricks1December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992

Eddie James Kendrick grew up singing in church in his native Alabama. Through the church choir, he met a young man named Paul Williams and the two quickly formed a doo-wop group called The Cavaliers. They moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1957 and, shortly thereafter, to Detroit where they enjoyed some local success rebranded as The Primes1. In 1961, The Primes broke up, but Kendricks (as he was now calling himself) and Williams joined another group called The Elgins. The Elgins would soon become The Temptations.

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Selena

Posted in Seaside Memorial Park with tags , on November 30, 2020 by Cade

selena1
April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known simply as Selena, was a hugely successful American Latin musician and singer. Commonly referred to as “The Queen of Tejano” – the genre of music she would come to dominate and redefine – Selena was the best-selling Latin artist of the 1990’s. From a young age, she performed with her family all around her native South Texas, eventually landing a recording contract with EMI Latin.

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Glen Campbell

Posted in Campbell's Cemetery with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2020 by Cade

April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017

Glen Campbell was not the first “Rhinestone Cowboy,” but he’s arguably the most famous. At least, that’s what you might suspect judging him solely by his biggest hit.

Despite personally resonating with the titular character in the chart-topping 1975 song, Campbell was so much more than a sequined journeyman waiting for his turn in the spotlight.

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Patsy Cline

Posted in Shenandoah Memorial Park with tags , , on November 2, 2020 by Cade

cline1September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963

If country music has official royalty, Patsy Cline was its first queen.

Virginia Patterson Hensley knew she wanted to be a singer from the very beginning. Though she worked odd jobs in her Virginia hometown out of a need to help her family, it wasn’t long until she was aiming higher and soliciting auditions wherever and whenever she could. Following a brief illness at the age of 15 that affected her throat…and therefore her voice, Ginny realized quickly that she had been given a gift. Local radio shows and a stint with a regional country band followed and soon, her gift was being shared on television and larger radio markets.

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Whitney Houston

Posted in Fairview Cemetery with tags , on October 19, 2020 by Cade

August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1963. 48 years later, she died in a bathtub in Beverly Hills. Everything that happened in between was a wild, at times spectacular ride.

One of the most successful and awarded female singers of all time, Whitney was at the top of her game immediately. Her 13x(!) Platinum self-titled debut album in 1985 and her 9x Platinum 1987 follow up generated SEVEN straight #1 hits. Each bigger than the last and every one incredibly popular with R&B AND Pop audiences. She was an instant – and formidable – superstar.

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Richard Street

Posted in Forest Lawn Cypress with tags , , , , on September 27, 2019 by Cade

street2October 5, 1942 – February 27, 2013

Richard Street was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Northwestern High School with his cousin, Melvin Franklin, and another young man named Otis Williams. Along with Al Bryant and a few others, they formed the singing group that would eventually become Otis Williams and the Distants. In 1960, Williams, Franklin and Bryant left the Distants to form the Elgins…which became the Temptations. Continue reading

Rick James

Posted in Forest Lawn Cemetery (NY) with tags , , , on September 2, 2019 by Cade

February 1, 1948 – August 6, 2004

James Ambrose Johnson Jr. was born in Buffalo, NY. His mother worked as a dancer and numbers runner to make ends meet. Young James would often accompany her on her rounds and he was exposed to bars that featured musicians like Miles Davis and Etta James. Needless to say, he liked what he saw and it was music from there out. Well, music and drugs, but I digress. He got in trouble quite a bit as a young man, so he joined the Navy, as one does. Not finding military life to be for him, and finding himself under orders to go to Vietnam, he fled to Toronto and started performing music under the name Ricky James Matthews. Long story short, he met Neil Young, moved to Detroit, met Stevie Wonder (who encouraged him to shorten his stage name to “Ricky James”) and signed with Motown. Continue reading