The Song Remains – Hal Ketchum 1953 – 2020

It’s with much sadness that we’ve learned of the death of Hal Ketchum, who passed away at his family home on Monday night, due to complications from dementia, after three years of battling with the illness that brought about his early retirement from performing and recording. He was only 67 years old. Continue reading “The Song Remains – Hal Ketchum 1953 – 2020”

The Song Remains: Billy Joe Shaver 1939 – 2020

Famously described by Willie Nelson as “the greatest living songwriter” Billy Joe Shaver led an eventful and often tragic life before succumbing to a massive stroke at the age of 81. Although he will perhaps be primarily remembered for the quality of the songs he wrote, he also recorded and performed consistently in his own right, releasing seventeen studio albums as well as six live ones. Amongst those albums were some genuine classics. However, throughout his career, they tended to find favour more with fellow songwriters, musicians, critics and his dedicated fanbase than they did with a wider public. Bob Dylan’s reference to him in his 2009 song ‘I Feel a Change Coming On’ illustrates this perfectly “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver and reading James Joyce”. Only his final 2014 album, the self-deprecatingly titled ‘Long in the Tooth’ registered (modestly) on the US Country Music Chart. Yet despite his limited sales, the influence of Billy Joe Shaver was enormous. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Billy Joe Shaver 1939 – 2020”

The Song Remains: Jerry Jeff Walker 1942 – 2020

Jerry Jeff Walker, Mr. Bojangles to many, died on Friday 23 October 2020 from complications arising from throat cancer first diagnosed in 2017.  In his 50 plus years career, Jerry Jeff Walker was a singer-songwriter, song finder and for many, the Cosmic Cowboy, recording the definitive album of the ’70s Austin, Texas, hippy country music scene, 1973s ‘Viva Terlingua’. While he is often included in the same breath as other ‘70s outlaw Texas country artists and singer-songwriters like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker was in fact born in Oneonta, New York, on March 16th, 1942. Like many artists he was drawn to the freer music scene of early ’70s Austin, and when he arrived there he is reputed to have said he had found his home. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Jerry Jeff Walker 1942 – 2020”

The Song Remains: Justin Townes Earle 1982 – 2020

Justin Townes Earle’s death at the age of 38 on 23rd August was announced on his social media without any confirmation of the cause of death. There has been considerable interest in the mainstream media with speculation that his was a drug-related death, due to his well-publicised struggles with alcohol and chemical dependencies. It will be another tragedy if he is largely remembered for his addictions and early death given the quality of his songwriting and music that will be his true legacy. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Justin Townes Earle 1982 – 2020”

The Song Remains: Emitt Rhodes 1950 – 2020

Emitt Rhodes died in his sleep on July 19th, 2020.  As a singer songwriter, he only released four authorised solo albums, with the penultimate one being released in 1973, to little overall success in the US and nothing in the UK. However, his work proved influential on the varying waves of power-pop and indie artists of subsequent generations. Richard Thompson, Aimee Mann and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline are fully paid up members of his fan club. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Emitt Rhodes 1950 – 2020”

The Song Remains: Rod Bernard 1940 – 2020

Rod Bernard, who died on July 12th, was a leading exponent of swamp pop. While the term was coined by English writer Bill Millar in the ‘70s, it refers to a style of music that grew out of South Louisiana and East Texas and is a mixture of rock’n’roll, R&B, country, New Orleans and French Louisiana influences, in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. For a short time there were a number of breakout hits on the US national charts, including the million selling Phil Phillips’ ‘Sea of Love’ and Cookie and His Cupcakes’ ‘Mathilda’Continue reading “The Song Remains: Rod Bernard 1940 – 2020”

The Song Remains: Judy Dyble 1949 – 2020

The original voice of Fairport Convention will sing no more. Following a long illness, Judy Dyble passed away on the 12th July 2020 at the age of 71. Born Judith Aileen Dyble in Central London in February 1949, Judy became active on the London folk scene when she was still in her mid-teens, originally singing with the band Judy and The Folkmen. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Judy Dyble 1949 – 2020”

The Song Remains: Ennio Morricone 1928-2020

Ennio Morricone, who died on 6th July at the age of 91, was a prolific composer for film – and there were few genres that he didn’t touch in his long career, from historical dramas such as ‘The Mission‘ to the fantastic wilds of Hypoborea in ‘Red Sonja‘. He helped terrify through his scores for films such as ‘John Carpenter’s The Thing‘ and ‘Exorcist II‘. He also composed a vast quantity of non-film orchestral music, but, to his own chagrin, it was his contribution to the reinvention of the Western Movie that for many was what he was best known for. It is also this which merits a mention of his passing here on Americana UK. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Ennio Morricone 1928-2020”

The Song Remains: Charlie Daniels 1936-2020

The death of Charlie Daniels almost inevitably was met with various headlines and tributes centred around his best-known song ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’. Released in 1979, the song marked a noticeably clear crossroads in his career. He went on to be a major mainstream country crossover star whose music became evermore dull, predictable and undistinguished. However, had his passing occurred prematurely, before the advent of his big hit, he would be remembered in a quite different way. Continue reading “The Song Remains: Charlie Daniels 1936-2020”

The Song Remains: James “Slim” Hand 1952-2020

The death of James ”Slim” Hand on 8th June, due to complications resulting from congestive heart failure, will bring feelings of great loss, not only to his family and friends, but also to the dedicated group of fans who appreciated his unique talent and irreplaceable presence on the Texas concert circuit he made his home. Some of those who truly understood his talents include Willie Nelson and the UK’s own Ags Connolly. James Hand didn’t record his first record until he was 47, in 1999, and he didn’t really tour outside his native Texas, and even in Texas he remained close to his home town of West, West Texas. However, he did tour Europe with Dale Watson in the mid-2000s, which resulted in a small but very dedicated European fan base being established. Continue reading “The Song Remains: James “Slim” Hand 1952-2020″