Victoria Spivey: 10/15/1906
A prolific, beautiful, and immensely talented blues vocalist born and based out of Texas. She enjoyed a fruitful and exciting forty-year career from 1926-60’s. Her vocal expertise allowed her to accompany many musicians including Louis Armstrong, King Oliver (Armstrong’s mentor and bandmate), Lonnie Johnson, Bob Dylan, and others. During the depression, she still found work but in a different field. She was cast to play a role in a ‘sound film’ titled Hallelujah. After a long and straining career, Spivey decided to retire from the limelight in 1951 and played pipe organ in a church. She passed away in 1976 at the age of 69.
John Mayer: 10/16/1977
John Mayer is one of the most popular pop/rock guitar players of his generation, and sells out venues every time he performs. He briefly attended Berkley College of Music before moving to Atlanta in 1997. There he polished his songwriting and guitar playing skills by performing at local clubs. His breakout moment occurred in 2001 after he performed at South by Southwest and was signed to Aware records before being picked up by Columbia. Ever since that moment, he has been unstoppable and has won 7 Grammy Awards on top of other various accolades. Though he is primarily popular for his girl-swooning pop hits, Mayer is a stellar blues guitarist. He was always influenced by the blues and was able to collaborate with some of his heroes including Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and B.B. King. Mayer recently released his seventh studio album The Search for Everything and continues to sell out concerts all over the world. Recently, he has been touring around with Bob Weir’s Dead and Company who honors the music of the Grateful Dead. Many musicians give John Mayer flack for being a pop icon but at the end of the day, the guy can play a mean guitar in multiple styles and sell out the biggest venues in the world.
Pino Palladino: 10/17/1957
Speaking of John Mayer, let’s move on to his longtime bassist, Pino Palladino. As I have mentioned before, bassists do not get the love they deserve, especially the in-demand session players. Pino Palladino is from an area in Wales where he began playing the guitar at 14 before switching over to the bass at age 17. He loved the way the lower end instrument fit in with all styles of music from R&B and blues to funk and rock and roll. Palladino is a prime example of a skilled and multipurpose session bassist as his chops can be heard on a myriad of musician’s albums like D’Angelo, David Knopfler, Elton John, Jeff Beck, The Who, and several albums with John Mayer. Palladino is an exemplary bassist, playing in the pocket and with the right amount of flare.
Billy Cox: 10/18/1941
William Cox AKA Billy Cox is a well-known master of the bass and many musical styles. He is best recognized as the bassist behind Jimi Hendrix and most of the bands he was associated with, like the iconic Jimi Hendrix Experience trio. Since Hendrix’s untimely death, Cox has recorded and performed with many notable artists. This coveted list includes Sam Cooke, John McLaughlin, Etta James, Little Richard, and many others.
Steve Cropper: October 21, 1941
Booker T. and The M.G.’s were and still are, considered one of the most influential soul, R&B, and funk bands in history. There are even credited with molding and defining the sound of Southern and Memphis soul. Original and longtime guitarist of the band is Steve Cropper. Cropper not only boasts a very impressive and extensive music resume, but he is considered to be one of the best soul guitarists of all time. On top of being in one of the most well-known soul bands, Cropper was also a member of the Stax Record Company’s house band and was briefly the A&R director and a writer for many singles that came out of the recording studio. He was also the guitarist in the original line up of the famous SNL based band the Blues Brothers. If these credits are not impressive enough, Cropper also appeared on a few of Otis Redding’s albums and even helped cowrite his famous tune “Sitting on The Dock of the Bay.” This guy has done it all!
(photo by Raymond Boyd)
Elvin Bishop: October 21, 1942
A blues rock singer and guitarist who moved around frequently before settling in Chicago, Illinois in the 60’s. While going to a university for physics, he met a harmonica player that would change his life forever. The guy’s name was Paul Butterfield. Butterfield would go on to lead on of the most successful blues bands who helped start or progress the careers of many outstanding musicians. His iconic Gibson Es-345 was actually acquired through a trade with another member of Butterfield’s band. Nicknamed “Red Dog.” Bishop played this guitar throughout his entire career. By 1968, Bishop started a solo project and has recorded over 15 studio albums since then. At 75 years old, Bishop is still recording and playing and in 2015, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an original member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Recently, Bishop has been continuing to release music with his band the Big Fun Trio, with the latest release being Something Smells Funky ‘Round Here in 2018.