Pioneers of Sun Radio

Pioneers of Sun Radio Remembering the men and women that helped create "the best music under the sun."

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WILSON PICKETTOf all the stars of the soul music genre, there was one that still stands out as a favorite to those who l...


Of all the stars of the soul music genre, there was one that still stands out as a favorite to those who like Southern soul on the raw side. And although he never achieved the high esteem of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, his recordings are still popular today. This man was Wilson Pickett.
Born in 1941 in Prattville, Alabama, Wilson had an unhappy childhood.
He was the youngest of ten children with an abusive mother, causing him to run away from home several times, and to move to Detroit when he was 14, to live with his Father
Wilson began his musical career performing in Baptist church choirs and in Detroit, he sang on street corners with other singers.
In the 1950s, Wilson put together the Violinaires, a gospel group.
He believed in the evolution of gospel into soul/R&B partly because he felt he could make more money with that emerging style of music.
In 1959, Pickett was asked to join the Falcons, an R&B group that already had a hit single with "YOU'RE SO FINE,".
They had another successful single in 1962 with a song Wilson wrote called , "I FOUND LOVE" which became their biggest hit, and spent sixteen weeks on the R&B chart, peaking at Number Six.
He then left the group to strike out as a solo artist.
He had some success with a song he co-wrote, "IF YOU NEED ME," in 1963, which was then a bigger success after Solomon Burke who recorded it around the same time.
The success of that record eventually led to Wilson signing with Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, who produced many of the biggest acts of all time, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits and Bob Dylan.
Wexler sent him to record in the STAX studio with Booker T and the MG’s, which included guitarist and part time co-writer Steve Cropper and bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, as his back up band.
His years with Atlantic proved to be the most fruitful of his career.
In the mid- to late 1960s, he had a string of hit singles including "MUSTANG SALLY," "634-5789," "EVERYBODY NEEDS SOMEBODY TO LOVE," "FUNKY BROADWAY,"and "LAND OF 1,000 DANCES."
But Wilson became most identified with a song which he which he co-wrote with Steve Cropper. This one:


"In the Midnight Hour" and most of the other Stax songs, were frequently adapted by other bands as dance-ready numbers.
The most popular of those, and his biggest pop hit was his cover of Chris Kenner’s "LAND OF 1000 DANCES”.
(The famous "na na na na na" hook, was added by Cannibal & the Headhunters in their 1965 version, which mentioned 16 of the 1,000 dances: the Pony, the Mashed Potato, the Alligator, the Watusi, the Twist, the Fly, the Jerk, the Tango, the Yo-Yo, the Sweet Pea, the Hand jive, the Slop, the Bop, the Fish, the Popeye and the Chicken, which is the only one I could even attempt to do.
Soon Wilson was also cutting tracks at Muscle Shoals, where he used Duane Allman as a session guitarist on a hit cover of the Beatles' "HEY JUDE."
He even had a hit version of the Archies' "SUGAR, SUGAR."
And he kept the hits rolling through the early '70s, including "DON'T KNOCK MY LOVE" and "GET ME BACK ON TIME, ENGINE NUMBER 9."
His last big hit was "FIRE AND WATER," in 1972.
Wilson remained active on the touring and recording fronts into the twenty-first Century.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and he also received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.
Wilson spent the early part of the 2000s performing, before retiring in late 2004 due to ill health.
He passed away on January 19, 2006, following a heart attack.
Wilson Pickett was one of the most intense of all the soul singers, recording some of the most popular dance songs of a decade filled with funky dancefloor grooves that live on today.
And Wilson Pickett lives on today as a soulful Pioneer of Sun Radio.

OTIS REDDINGSoul Music.  A genre of American Music that evolved from Rhythm and Blues.  And one of the most influential ...


Soul Music. A genre of American Music that evolved from Rhythm and Blues. And one of the most influential singers of what became synonymous with “Soul” was Otis Redding.
Born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia, the fourth of six children and the first son of Otis Redding Senior, a sharecropper and Fannie Roseman.
When he was two, his family moved to Macon, Georgia, where, at an early age, he learned to play guitar and piano, as well as taking drum and singing lessons
Singing was his passion and he idolized Sam Cooke and Little Richard, who he would later say was his true inspiration for entering the music business
He quit school at 15 to find work and help support his family when his father became ill.
At 17, he joined Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers as a guitarist and was also a member of Pat T. Cake and the Mighty Panthers.
In 1962, he drove Jenkins to a recording session in the Stax studio in Memphis, where Jenkins was backed up by Booker T and the MG’s.
The session didn’t go so well, and it ended early, allowing Otis to perform two songs, “Hey Hey Baby” and “These Arms of Mine”, which featured Steve Cropper on guitar, who would become a friend and co-writer of some of Otis’s hit songs.
“These Arms of Mine” was released the same year, and became the first of many hit singles for Otis, including “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, “Try a Little Tenderness”, “I Can’t Turn You Loose and this one:


Although most of his songs turned to out to be hits within the next few years, it was RESPECT that turned into a huge pop smash by Aretha Franklin.
The Rolling Stones covered Otis’s songs “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and “Pain In My Heart”, and Otis returned the favor by recording their song, “Satisfaction”.
In 1967, Otis recorded one of his biggest hits, a duet with fellow Stax star Carla Thomas, "Tramp".
That was the same year he began to show signs of making major inroads into the white audience, particularly with a well-received performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.
His biggest triumph, however, came just days after his death.
Here’s the story of the song “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay”:
Otis had started writing the lyrics to the song in August of 1967, while sitting on a rented houseboat in Sausalito, California.
In November of the same year, Steve Cropper helped Otis finish the lyrics, music and arrangement, and they recorded the song.
On December 7, Steve added some overdubs including sounds of ocean waves and seagulls.
Three days later, Otis and his back up band, the Barkays, were traveling in his twin-engine Beechcraft, when it crashed into Lake Monona in Madison Wisconsin, where they all lost their lives.
The song was released less than a month later in January 1968 and skyrocketed to the top of the charts.
Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay has been recorded by countless artists, from his peers such as Glen Campbell, Cher, Sam & Dave and Bob Dylan, to artists of other genres like T. Rex, Pearl Jam, Widespread Panic and a version by Willie and Waylon.
The name “Otis Redding” is synonymous with the term “soul”, and to this day he embodies the essence of Soul Music in its purest form.
And to this day, Otis Redding is a Pioneer of Sun Radio.

JOHNNY WINTER  There can be many different reasons that an individual decides to become a professional musician and ente...


There can be many different reasons that an individual decides to become a professional musician and entertainer. Many start down that path when young, after taking music lessons on some particular instrument , then stick with it until it becomes something they enjoy the rest of their lives. A few of those decide to try to make a living as a musician, and a few of those actually do. John Dawson Winter III was one of those few.

Johnny was born crosseyed and albino on February 23, 1944 in Beaumont, Texas.
His father sang in a barbershop quartet and in a church choir and by the age of 5, Johnny began playing clarinet, and not much longer after that, his grandfather gave him a guitar.
While growing up, he listened religiously to a certain local dj by the name of J. P. Richardson, also known as the Big Bopper ,(of “Chantilly Lace” fame) and was heavily influenced by the songs he played on the radio.

In 1959, Johnny formed his first band called Johnny Macaroni and the Jammers. It was also the year he started drinking and smoking.
Johnny won a melody contest held by a Beaumont radio station, KTRM and got a chance to make good in the record world. The band recorded 2 songs that both rated high on the charts in Beaumont.
Johnny continued to play and record throughout the 60’s in quite a few Texas R and B outfits. He recorded many records under fictitious group names like: Neal and the Newcomers, the Crystaliers, It and Them, Black Plague, and Texas Guitar Slim.
Johnny’s official “debut album”, was titled Progressive Blues Experiment (with his band that included Tommy Shannon (who later played with SRV in Double Trouble) on bass:
. Here’s a song from that release: “Bad Luck and Trouble” :


The songs on that record were mostly ones they had been playing live in Houston at the Love Street Light Circus and in Austin at Vulcan Gas Company. It was the first album that Johnny recorded that really took off, largely due to an article in rolling stone about the Austin hippie scene at that time that described a Johnny Winter performance:
“Imagine a 130-pound cross-eyed albino bluesman with long fleecy hair playing some of the gutsiest blues guitar you have ever heard.” Well, that article catapulted Johnny from local hero in Texas to headline status at the Fillmore East in NYC. It also caught the attention of John Lennon and the Rolling Stones, who even opened their famous Hyde Park concert with Johnny’s song, “I’m Hers and I’m Yours”.
It also caught the attention of representatives of Columbia Records saw Johnny at the Fillmore East, and, within a few days, he was signed to what was reportedly the largest advance in the history of the recording industry at that time—$600,000
A big year for Johnny was 1969, when he played at the Woodstock Festival.
Bassist Tommy Shannon said: "One week we're playing clubs for about 20 people and in a matter of a few months we're playing Woodstock,"
He also helped to introduce blues giant Muddy Waters to another generation of listeners by producing and playing guitar on three Grammy-nominated albums and a Grammy-award winning “Hard Again” LP in 1977.
From T-bone Walker on through Albert Collins and Freddie King, Billy Gibbons and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the tradition of the Texas guitar slinger has lived on. The one name that ranks at the top of that exclusive list is Johnny Winter, an international ambassador for rocking Texas blues and a Pioneer of Sun Radio.

HOWLIN' WOLFIn the history of American Music, there have been very many artists of many eras in many genres that have ha...

In the history of American Music, there have been very many artists of many eras in many genres that have had profound influence on many others.
One of the ALL TIME greatest blues singers has had a musical influence that extends from the 1950s to the present day This man was a 6 foot 3 inch, 300 pound Howlin’ Wolf.
Chester Arthur Burnett was born to Leon “Dock” Burnett and Gertrude Jones on June 10, 1910, in White Station, Mississippi . His nickname came from the story his grandfather told him that if he misbehaved, he would have to answer to the “howlin’ wolves”.
Wolf helped work on his Father’s farm until his 18th birthday, when a chance meeting with Delta blues legend Charley Patton changed his life forever.
Though he never came close to learning the subtleties of Patton's complex guitar technique, he did learn to growl and to be entertaining from the Delta blues master.
He first started playing in the early '30s as a strict Patton imitator, while others remember him rockin’ one of the first electric guitars anyone had ever seen. After a four-year stretch in the Army, he settled down as a farmer and weekend player in West Memphis, AR, and it was here that his career in music really began.
By 1948, he had established himself within the community as a radio personality. Wolf had a 15 minute radio show on KWEM in West Memphis , where he would play some down home blues followed by a few farm reports.
But soon, his listening audience noticed a new sound. Wolf had put his first band together which not only featured electric guitars, it also featured WILLIE JOHNSON ‘S explosive electric guitar playing, which complimented Wolf’s growling vocals and became very much a part of his early sound and success.
THEN, IN 1951, Sam Phillips, owner of the Memphis Recording Service heard Burnet and appreciated his intensity.
PHILLIPS MADE his MUSIC AVAILABLE TO LEONARD CHESS IN CHICAGO AND THE BIHARI BROTHERS IN LOS ANGELES and suddenly, Howlin' Wolf had two hits at the same time on the R&B charts with two record companies claiming to have him exclusively under contract. Chess finally won him over and as Wolf would proudly relate years later, "I had a 4,000 dollar car and 3,900 dollars in my pocket. I'm the onliest one drove out of the South like a gentleman."
Then, Hubert Sumlin joined the band as lead guitarist, and would prove to be the Wolf's longest-running band mate.
By 1956, Wolf was in the R&B charts again with"Evil" and this one:

The magic combination of Wolf's voice, Sumlin's guitar, and Willie Dixon's tunes sold a lot of records.
The mid-'60s saw him touring Europe regularly with "Smokestack Lightnin'" becoming a hit in England
Then the Rolling Stones did “Little Red Rooster” and Led Zepplin recorded "Killing Floor”.
By the end of the decade, Wolf's material was being recorded by artists including the Doors, the Electric Flag, the Blues Project, Cream, and Jeff Beck.
His last big payday came when Chess sent him over to England in 1970 to record with Eric Clapton and other British superstars.
Wolf's health began to falter, and as the '70s moved on, he became a very sick man; having survived numerous heart attacks and kidney damage.
He entered the Veterans Administration Hospital in 1976 to be operated on, but never survived it, finally passing away on January 10th of that year.
In the history of the blues, there has never been anyone quite like the Howlin' Wolf who was also another Pioneer of Sun Radio.

JOHN BONHAMIn the history of Rock music there have been many drummers that have gained popularity for their individual s...

In the history of Rock music there have been many drummers that have gained popularity for their individual styles and their musical contributions to their respective bands.
A few managed to make it to the level of superstars, such as Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, Ringo Star of the Beatles, Keith Moon of the Who and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.
John Henry Bonham was born on May 31, 1948 in Redditch, Worcestershire (worse-ta-sure), England.
At some point as a child, he received the nickname “Bonzo”.
By the age of five, there were signs that he enjoyed drumming, using knives and forks to beat on pots and pans from the kitchen.
When he was 8, he saw the “Benny Goodman Story” and became inspired by the drumming of Gene Krupa.
Bonzo also listened to lots of music on records and the radio and was further inspired by drummers Ginger Baker, Buddy Rich and Max Roach.
When he was ten, his Mom bought him a snare drum.
And at 15, his Dad bought Bonzo his first full drum kit, allowing him to play in bands.
John joined several groups and by the time he was 20, he had a reputation for being one of the best drummers around, with a combination of power, stamina, technique and stage presence that made him a stand out.
But he also had a tendency to play thunderously loud, causing some bands he played with to be banned from clubs for playing too loud.
When John played for the Crawling King Snakes, he made friends with the singer, Robert Plant.
About that same time, guitarist Jimmy Page was playing with the Yardbirds.
John had promising offers to make good money playing drums for others like Joe Cocker, but chose to take a chance by joining his buddy Robert Plant in Page’s band called The New Yardbirds, which would become Led Zeppelin, whose self-titled album topped the charts in 1969.
Only 9 months later, they released“Led Zeppelin II”, which fared even better on the charts and contained a song called “Moby Dick”, featuring John on an extended drum solo.
Here’s a taste of John’s drumming from “Moby Dick” on Led Zeppelin II:


“Moby Dick” would become a standard for featuring John’s drumming expertise, sometimes lasting as long as 45 minutes during live performances.
During the first 30 months, Led Zeppelin recorded three full albums, not releasing any singles.
They constantly toured and went from an opening act to becoming a headliner and from concert halls to arenas and became one of the top musical acts in the world, alongside the Stones and the Who.
The band released a total of nine studio albums, which all contained the raw power of John’s drumming, partly brought about by the fact that he used the longest heaviest drum sticks available, which he referred to as “trees”.
From the beginning, John’s drumming style was as a heavy hitter, and is displayed in particular in songs like “The Immigrant Song”, “When The Levee Breaks” and “The Ocean”.
But with all the sudden success came lots of disposable income and John chose to spend a lot of his on vintage sports cars and motorcycles.
And, like so many rock stars, he was burning his candle at both ends.
Some of his eccentric antics rivaled those of the Who’s Keith Moon.
John once flew his group's Boeing 720 passenger jet, The Starship, all the way from New York to Los Angeles, and he didn't have a pilot's license.
He would ride motorbikes down hotel corridors for something to do
In the fall of 1980, John was 33 and had been in Led Zeppelin for 12 years.
He liked to drink a lot and on September 24, he downed over three dozen straight shots of vodka in just a few hours.
He died in his sleep later that night, apparently choking on his own vomit.
John’s death was effectively the end of Led Zeppelin.
Foo Fighter Dave Grohl said: "John played the drums like someone who didn't know what was going to happen next - like he was teetering on the edge of a cliff. No one has come close to that since, and I don't think anybody ever will. I think he will forever be the greatest drummer of all time."
And John Henry “Bonzo”Bonham will also forever be a Pioneer of Sun Radio.


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Hi. John Hiatt wrote "Have a Little Faith in Me," not Tony Joe White.
BRUNO VILLAREAL … was born in La Grulla, Texas, on October 6, 1901. According to stories told by Narciso Martínez, "father" of Texas-Mexican conjunto music, during the 1930s Villareal lived on a ranchito three miles from Santa Rosa, at the north end of the lower Rio Grande valley. Although he was half blind, he walked every day into town to play his accordion for whatever money was offered. At times, he was also hired out to play at bailes de negocio or other kinds of celebrations. Villareal was nicknamed "El Azote del Valle" (the Scourge from the Valley) and is today still remembered by people as far north as Amarillo, where he once played in the streets with a tin cup attached to his piano accordion, an instrument he used from the late 1930s onward. He originally played a two-row button accordion, but switched to a piano accordion later in his career. In the early 1930s, conjunto players such as he used the left-hand bass and right-hand treble chord elements of the accordion. Villareal was among the first accordionists to become popular in South Texas through phonograph records, and he made the first recording of the accordion in 1928. By the 1930s, often backed by a bajo sexto (twelve-string bass guitar), he was an acknowledged master. During this time música norteña or conjunto became the music of choice among the Mexican-American working class. This music enjoyed a great popularity in the area known to Mexicans as el Norte, the region bounded by South Texas and the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Coahuila. Villareal apparently was the first accordionist to secure a long-term relationship with a major label. The OKeh label recorded him on June 12, 1930, and continued to do so for the next several years. Consequently, he is generally recognized as the first conjunto accordionist on records. His style was traditional, with almost equal emphasis on melody and bass. Villareal and fellow accordionists José Rodríguez and Jesús Casiano relied heavily on their left-hand, bass-and-chord elements for the accordion sets. This set them apart from Narciso Martínez, who began almost immediately to de-emphasize that side of the accordion in favor of more marked and better articulated melody lines at the treble end. Let’s listen to Bruno performing: “ES UN CAPRICHO” :… After World War II, Mexican-American music continued to evolve, and the accordion continued to play a central role. However, as some accordionists, such as Narciso Martínez and Santiago Jiménez, grew in popularity, others such as Jesús Casiano, who were unwilling or unable to meet new musical challenges, all but disappeared from the commercial market. One of the saddest cases was that of Villareal, He died on November 3, 1976,Robstown, Texas as a Pioneer of Texas Music.
Great Story on Mr Joey Long !!!!