Iverson Minter had a hard childhood. His mother died just after he was born. His father died when the Ku Klux Klan lynched him. He was left in an orphanage in New Orleans until his grandmother was found and he was sent to Pittsburgh. Then things began to improve.
Minter fell in love with the blues sound and played slide guitar and harmonica. As a teenager he ended up in Detroit befriending Johnny Lee Hooker and Eddie Burns, where he recorded his first albums (simply imitations of Muddy Waters) as “Rocky Fuller.” In 1962, when he was 30, Minter headed to New York and began to develop his own style and recorded several albums as “Louisiana Red.”
Louisiana Red found a small following in the U.S. (he was awarded the W.C. Handy Award for Best Blues Performer in 1983) but he was loved in Europe. Red would eventually move to Germany and travel the continent to record with musicians from various countries including Greece and Poland and recorded in Czechoslovakia and Iceland, as well.
Red experienced a small resurgence in the United States when Earwig Records in Chicago released previously unheard works on the album Sittin’ Here Wonderin’. Earwig then worked with Red to release some of his European work stateside. He was named Best Acoustic Player and given Best Acoustic Album awards at the Blues Music Awards in 2010.
Iverson Minter, aka Louisiana Red, died at the age of 79.
(Sittin’ Here Wonderin’ is copyright 1995 Earwig Records)
When Nancy Sinatra put on her walking boots Billy Strange was there. When her baby shot her down, Bill Strange was there. When Elvis made memories, Bill Strange was there. When the Beach Boys recorded pet sounds, Billy Strange was there.
Billy Strange was a guitarist, songwriter, and arranger who worked with some of the best-known artists and made some of the most popular records of the 1960s. He arranged Nancy Sinatra’s hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and played guitar on “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” (“Bang Bang” was featured on the soundtrack of Kill Bill.) When Elvis came to Los Angeles, Strange wrote “Memories” and “A Little Less Conversation” for the star.
Strange began playing guitar when he was 14 years old and became a touring musician at 16. Later he became part of a group of session musicians living in L.A. They played on albums by the Beach Boys (including Pet Sounds), The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, and Frank Sinatra. The gentlemen earned the nickname “The Wrecking Crew” because older session musicians thought that rock and roll would “wreck” music.
Billy Strange and the other members of the Wrecking Crew were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee in 2007. Mr. Strange died at the age of 81.
(How Does That Grab You? is copyright of Boots Enterprises, Inc., 2006)