In Memoriam: Steve Bane (Thrills Galore) // Jean Ritchie // Jim Bailey Die
Local Musician Steve Bane Dies in Motorcycle Accident…
From Scotty Brown on Fb, 6/01/15: Just heard lost a great friend of so many years, Steve Bane. My dear friend, may you RIP, I’ll never forget the days of watching your amazing talent in Thrills Galore. We will meet again.
Norm Peterson: Yes… just heard this… We were keyboard buddies way back… Got back in touch thru FB… He wore those keyboard pants!! Cool & super nice guy. So sad…
Lisa Orrico White: So sad. R.I.P. Steve. Watched Thrills Galore many, many, many times. Prayers to his family and friends.
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Jean Ritchie (December 8, 1922 – June 1, 2015), at the age of 92, was an American folk music singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player.
Jean Ritchie was born to Abigail (née Hall) and Balis W. Ritchie of Viper, an unincorporated community in Perry County in the Cumberland Mountains of south eastern Kentucky. The Ritchies of Perry County were one of the two “great ballad-singing families” of Kentucky celebrated among folk song scholars (the other was the Combs family of adjacent Knott County, whose repertoire formed the basis of a the first scholarly work on the British ballads in America, a doctoral thesis by Professor Josiah Combs of Berea College for the Sorbonne University published in Paris in 1925.) In 1917, the great collector Cecil Sharp collected songs from Jean’s older sisters Una and May. Many of the Ritchies attended the Hindman Settlement School, a folk school, where people were encouraged to cherish their own backgrounds and where Sharp also found many of his songs. Jean’s father Balis had printed up a book of old songs entitled Lovers’ Melodies, and music making was an important activity in the Ritchie home.
Jean’s forebears had fought in the Revolutionary War in 1776 before settling in Kentucky, and most of them later fought on the Union Side in the Civil War. Alan Lomax wrote that:
They were quiet, thoughtful folks, who went in for ballads, big families and educating their children. Jean’s grandmother was a prime mover in the Old Regular Baptist Church, and all the traditional hymn tunes came from her. Jean’s Uncle Jason was a lawyer, who remembers the big ballads like “Lord Barnard.” Jean’s father taught school, printed a newspaper, fitted specs, farmed and sent ten of his fourteen children to college.
As the youngest of 14 siblings, Jean was one of ten girls who slept in one room of the farming family’s farm house. She was quick to memorize songs and, with Chalmers and Velma McDaniels, performed at local dances and at county fairs, where they repeatedly won blue ribbons in Hazard, the county seat. Jean recalls that when the family acquired a radio in the late 1940s they discovered that what they had been singing was hillbilly music, a word they had never heard before.
Ritchie graduated high school in Viper and enrolled in Cumberland Junior College (now a four-year University of the Cumberlands) in Williamsburg, Kentucky, and from there went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in social work from the University of Kentucky, in Lexington in 1946. At college she participated in the glee club and choir and learned to play piano. During World War II, she taught in elementary school. After graduating she got a job as a social worker at the Henry Street Settlement, where she taught music to children. There she befriended Alan Lomax, who recorded her extensively for the Library of Congress. She joined the New York folksong scene and met Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, and Oscar Brand In 1948 she shared the stage with The Weavers, Woody Guthrie, and Betty Sanders at the Spring Fever Hootenanny and by October 1949 was a regular guest on Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival radio show on WNYC. In 1949 and 1950, she recorded several hours of songs, stories, and oral history for Lomax in New York City. Elektra records signed her and released three albums: Jean Ritchie Sings (1952), Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family (1957) and A Time for Singing (1962).
In the early 1940s Ritchie’s future husband George Pickow was introduced to folk music when he heard Cisco Houston and Woody Guthrie jamming every night in a tiny cabin at the left-wing Camp Unity summer camp in upstate New York. The Brooklyn-born Pickow, who had studied painting at Cooper Union and made training films for the Navy in World War II, went on to have a long career as a professional photographer and film maker. His career also included an extensive documentation of his wife’s work and his photographs illustrated many of her books. Pickow and Ritchie met in 1948 at a square dance at the Henry Street Settlement. The following day, Pickow invited her to accompany him on a photo shoot at the Fulton Fish Market. “The result — Ms. Ritchie perched on the hood of a truck, holding a rather large lobster — was published in a trucking-industry magazine.” They married in 1950 and had two sons, Peter and Jon. In 1952, Pickow accompanied his wife on a Fulbright Scholarship to collect folksongs in Britain and Ireland. When Alan Lomax, then working out of London for the BBC, and his collaborator Peter Kennedy of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, decided to document the unique May Eve and May Day Festivals at Padstow in Cornwall, they selected Pickow to be their cameraman. The result was the acclaimed 16-minute color film Oss Oss Wee Oss (1953). In 1961, Pickow and Lomax collaborated on a short film documentary about the Greenwich Village folk revival scene intended to be shown on the BBC. This never happened, however, and ten years later Alan’s daughter Anna Lomax Wood, edited the surviving scraps and fragments in her father’s office into a short film, “Ballads, Blues, and Bluegrass”. In addition to Ritchie, Ballads, Blues, and Bluegrass features what one reviewer called “killer footage” of performances by Clarence Ashley, Guy Carawan, Willie Dixon, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Roscoe Holcomb, Peter La Farge, Ernie Marrs, The New Lost City Ramblers, Memphis Slim, and the first known footage of a very young Doc Watson. In the audience are Maria Muldaur and also Bob Dylan, who can be seen clog dancing in the film’s opening moments. Pickow, who had been in declining health for a long time, died December 10, 2010, two days after Ritchie’s 88th birthday.
Ritchie preferred to sing without instrumental accompaniment, but occasionally she also accompanied herself on autoharp, guitar and handmade plucked lap or mountain dulcimer (not a hammer dulcimer), an intimate indoor instrument with an soft, ethereal sound. Her father had played this instrument but forbade his children to touch it. At the age of four or five, however, Jean defied this prohibition and picked out “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”. By 1949 Ritchie’s playing of this distinctive instrument had become a hallmark of her style. After her husband made one for her as a present, the couple decided there might be a potential market for them. Pickow’s uncle, Morris Pickow, set up an instrument workshop for them under the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. At first they were shipped to New York in an unfinished state by Ritchie’s Kentucky relative, Jethro Amburgey, then the woodworking instructor at the Hindman Settlement School. George did the finishing and Jean did the tuning and soon they had sold 300 dulcimers. Later they manufactured them themselves from start to finish, Today there are dulcimers for sale at most folk festivals. Because fans kept asking her “Which album has the most dulcimer?”, Jean finally recorded an album called The Most Dulcimer in 1992.
Jean Ritchie was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to trace the links between American ballads and the songs from Britain and Ireland. As a song-collector, she began by setting down the 300 songs that she already knew from her mother’s knee. Ritchie spent 18 months tape recording and interviewing singers. Pickow accompanied her, photographing Seamus Ennis, Leo Rowsome, Sarah Makem and other musicians. In 1955 Ritchie wrote a book about her family called Singing Family of the Cumberlands.
Ritchie became known as “The Mother of Folk”. As well as work songs and ballads, Ritchie knew hymns from the “Old Regular Baptist” church she attended in Jeff, Kentucky. These were sung as “lining out” songs, in a lingering soulful way. One of the songs they sang was “Amazing Grace”. She wrote some songs, including “Black Waters”, one on the effects of strip mining in Kentucky. (Some of Ritchie’s late 1950s/early 1960s songs on mining she published under the pseudonym “‘Than Hall” to avoid troubling her non-political mother, and believing they might be better received if attributed to a man.)
“My Dear Companion” appeared on the album Trio recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, and Emmylou Harris. Judy Collins recorded some of Ritchie’s traditional songs, “Tender Ladies” and “Pretty Saro”, and also used a photograph by George Pickow on the front of her album “Golden Apples of the Sun” (1962). Ritchie’s 50th anniversary album was Mountain Born (1995), which features her two sons, Peter and Jonathan Pickow. In 1954 Ritchie and George Pickow released some of their UK recordings under the name Field Trip. It was re-issued in 2001 on the Greenhays label. It has recordings by Elizabeth Cronin, Seamus Ennis, and others, side by side with Ritchie family versions of the same songs.
In 1996 the Ritchie Pickow Photographic Archive was acquired by the James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Jean Ritchie performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall and at the Royal Albert Hall. Her album, None But One, was awarded the Rolling Stone Critics Award in 1977. In 2002, Ritchie received a National Endowment For The Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the Nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
In early December 2009, Ritchie was hospitalized after suffering a stroke which impaired her ability to communicate. On June 8, 2010, Ritchie’s son Jon reported: “Great news! Mom is coming home tomorrow. She has surpassed all expectations and is talking, laughing and in general being herself.”
For many years, Ritchie lived in Port Washington, New York. In 2008, she was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. She lived in Berea, Kentucky until her death in June 2015. She died at her home in Berea.
JAMES BAILEY, WELL-KNOWN IMPERSONATOR, DIES
James William Bailey (January 10, 1938 – May 30, 2015) was an American singer, film, television and stage actor, and female impersonator.
Bailey was born on January 10, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Sara and Claude Bailey. He had one brother, Claude. As a teenager he studied opera at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and was on the television program The Children’s Hour for almost a year, where he performed by acting, singing and dancing. His family moved to Palmyra, New Jersey when he was ten years old, and then Riverside Township, where he attended Riverside High School.
Bailey appeared in over 70 television and movie roles, including appearances on Ally McBeal, Here’s Lucy, Night Court, The Rockford Files, Switch, Vega$, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Mike Douglas Show, The Dean Martin Show and The Joan Rivers Show.
Bailey’s fame began in the late 1960s when he created the “illusions” of singers Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Peggy Lee by vocally mimicking them in his own operatically trained voice. Bailey appeared on concert stages throughout the world, including headlining in Las Vegas, at Hotels such as The Thunderbird, Caesars Palace, The Desert Inn, The Sands, Harrah’s,The Dunes and performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall a total of nine times and The Palladium Theater in London a total of seventeen times . Bailey also performed for the British Royal Family twice and for four United States Presidents.
From the mid to the late 1960s, 1966 through to 1968, Bailey played summer stock in such shows as The Boy Friend, Calamity Jane with Ginger Rogers, Bells are Ringing and Wildcat with Gale Storm.
During this time, Bailey was introduced to and became friends with Phyllis Diller. Bailey learned to re-create the comedienne/actress’s personality and later added her to his repertoire. In 1968, Bailey moved to Los Angeles and put together a nightclub act with Michael Greer, performing at the Redwood Room, this time adding Judy Garland to his repertoire. When Garland herself came to see Bailey’s show, she jumped up on to the stage and asked him to sing a song with her. Bailey agreed and the two sang a duet of “Bye Bye Blackbird”, which Bailey had intended on singing as himself. The two later became friends, and Garland became Bailey’s mentor. The two remained friends until Garland’s death in 1969. In 1970, Bailey was booked in Las Vegas and became an overnight sensation. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, which launched an international career. His performance as Judy Garland singing “The Man that Got Away” was such a phenomenon he was asked back a couple of months later to perform as Peggy Lee. He also performed as himself on both shows.
Bailey’s success continued as he appeared for performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. While in London he performed on the legendary David Frost’s show. He then guest starred on the popular television variety show The Carol Burnett Show, where the two sang a comedic duet of “Happy Days Are Here Again” with Bailey appearing as Barbra Streisand, and made several appearances on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show.
Bailey was approached by Lucille Ball in 1973 after she saw him at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and asked him to guest star on her popular television show, Here’s Lucy. Ball was so impressed by Bailey and his performance, she titled the show Lucy and Jim Bailey, and she also threw a party for him after the show’s taping. The two remained close friends until Ball’s death in 1989. Bailey also became very close friends with Ball’s daughter Lucie Arnaz. The two remained close friends doing benefit performances in honor of her late mother and father at the Lucy Desi festival in Jamestown, New York. In 1973 Bailey was asked to return to Carnegie Hall for two nights to perform again. This time, he was approached by United Artists to record and release his performance. The album became a success and was sold worldwide.
Also in 1973, Bailey teamed with Liza Minnelli, daughter of his mentor Judy Garland, in Las Vegas at The Flamingo. The two put together a concert recreating the performances by Minnelli and her late mother in London, with Bailey standing in as Garland. The “Judy and Liza Concert” met with great success, they opened the show with Jim as Judy singing “Well, Hello Liza” just as they had done at the Palladium years earlier. Later, Minnelli made a gift to Bailey of one of her late mother’s treasured pearl rings.
The mid-1970s saw Bailey as a mainstay in showrooms in Las Vegas, it was at this time he was named “Las Vegas Entertainer of the year”. He was also booked for concerts around the world, including the O’Keefe Center in Toronto, Canada, and venues in Australia and South America. In the next few years, Bailey returned to acting in more episodic television work in character roles that were created especially for him because of the uniqueness of his talent. They include Switch in 1978 with Robert Wagner, Eddie Albert and Sharon Gless, Vega$ in 1979 with Robert Urich and The Rockford Files in 1979 with James Garner.
Bailey also performed at some major venues. He performed at Super Bowl XII, as Barbra Streisand and himself, did a show for Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her husband the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as Barbra Streisand and himself. He performed at the 1984 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, and at the People’s Choice Awards. He also returned to Carnegie Hall and the London Palladium doing multiple nights at each venue.
In the late 1980s, Bailey turned his sights once again to feature films, including a role on TV’s Night Court as Chip/Charlene, Dan’s (John Larroquette) friend from college who had had a sex change, Vultures in Paradise with Stuart Whitman and Yvonne De Carlo, The Surrogate with Shannon Tweed, and Penitentiary 3 with Anthony Geary and Leon Isaac Kennedy.
Since Barbra Streisand was not performing on the night club and concert circuit in the mid 80s, Bailey decided to re-create some of her great movie performances and adapt them to his stage performances. In the late 80s he also toured with the musical “Nite Club Confidential.” Ten years later in 1995 Bailey would perform at an event for Streisand and other stars, like Clint Eastwood and Warren Beatty. Also in the 1990s, Bailey performed for Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles in London. He again performed at Carnegie Hall and the London Palladium, as well as another long stints at The Sands in Las Vegas and Harrah’s in all of their main showrooms. After touring extensively in the 1990s, Bailey opened the Jim Bailey Theater in Palm Springs, California, but closed the theater just ten months later, when offers were coming in for more theatrical work.
At the start of the new millennium, Bailey did a guest starring role on Ally McBeal as “Harold Dale,” and an episode of Duckman. He continued with concerts and theater performances, including a critically acclaimed performances in Charles Rohm Smith’s Tallulah and Tennessee, co-starring Bette Garrett as Estelle Winwood, Mae West at the Club El Fey and Me and Jezebel. Other theatrical work includes Jeffrey and Fragile Fire, directed by Paul Winfield.
Bailey continued performing his characterizations, including benefits for AIDS research charities around the world. In July 2008, Bailey was slated to appear in Hollywood, London, New York and San Francisco, marking 40 years since he first performed as Garland in 1968.
In June 2009 Bailey played London’s West End for the 40th Anniversary of Judy’s passing. Susie Boyt from The Times wrote “There is nothing camp or stagey about his act–it can scarcely even be described as an act, for Bailey inhabits Garland’s persona to such an extent that well, there she is. It is a supreme illusion, a sort of perfect madness.”
Bailey passed away at his home in Los Angeles, California on 30 May, 2015 from complications due to pneumonia; he was 77 years old. He is survived by his brother Claude and manager of 27 years Stephen Campbell.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
3: Margaret Juntwait, 58, American radio host, host of Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts (2004-2014), ovarian cancer.
1: Shone An, 31, Taiwanese singer (Comic Boyz) and actor, liver cancer; Kirill Pokrovsky, 53, Russian composer; Jean Ritchie, 92, American folk singer and song collector.
31: Nico Castel, 83, Portuguese-born American tenor.
30: Jim Bailey, 77, American singer, impersonator, and actor.
29: Natalya Lagoda, 42, Ukrainian-born Russian singer and model (Playboy), bilateral pneumonia.
28: Steven Gerber, 66, American composer; Johnny Keating, 87, British musician (“Theme from Z-Cars”); Mel Waiters, 58, American soul singer, cancer.
27: Christer Jansson, 51, Swedish drummer (Roxette), cancer; Dennis Sheehan, 68, Irish music tour manager (U2), heart attack.