Musicians born in August 1953


I’ve divided this month’s notables into two lists: musicians born in August 1953 today and others tomorrow.

Robert Cray (1st) was the bass player of the fictional band Otis Day and the Knights, as seen in the 1978 movie National Lampoon’s Animal House.

He is in my vinyl collection with his breakthrough album, Strong Persuader (1986), which reached #13 on the pop album charts. It won the Grammy in 1987 for Best Contemporary Blues Album. The hit single was Smokin’ Gun, #22 in 1987.

My one Cray CD is Showdown! with Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland, his first to chart at #124. He’s released over 20 albums.

Robert appears on the compilation album A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, on which he sings Love Struck Baby. Here’s the SRV tribute video.

Robert Cray will be touring in the US later this month after performing in Germany, the UK, and Ireland in June.


Randy Scruggs (3rd). From his 2018 obituary: “Scruggs won four Grammy awards for his instrumental work and was named the “Musician of the Year” at the Country Music Association Awards twice.

“The guitarist contributed his talents to recordings by Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Wilco, Randy Travis, and Vince Gill.

“He produced albums for Waylon Jennings, Toby Keith, and Alison Krauss.

“Also a talented songwriter, he wrote numerous hit songs, including We Danced Anyway for Deana Carter [on an album I own] and Shakin’ for Sawyer Brown. He co-wrote multiple songs with artist Earl Thomas Conley when Conley had a string of hits in the eighties. [Your Love Is On The Line] 

“Scruggs produced and played guitar on the critically acclaimed Grammy-winning album “Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two” for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1989.

“As a recording artist, Randy and his brother Gary released two albums in 1969 and 1970, then formed the progressive country rock band the Earl Scruggs Revue with their father. I Could Sure Use The Feeling was a top 30 hit for the group in 1979.”

He died after a “short illness” at the age of 64.

A Titanic talent

I suppose I could write about James Horner (14th). Or I could link to Kelly Sedinger’s post, written after Horner died in the plane he was piloting in 2015.

Kool and the Gang

James “J.T.” Warren Taylor (16th) was the lead singer of Kool & the Gang between 1979 and 1988. Though the group had some earlier hits (Jungle Boogie, Hollywood Swinging), the group’s biggest hits were still to come.

Ladies Night, #8 pop, #1 for three weeks RB in 1980

Celebration from the Celebrate! album, which I will admit to owning on vinyl. But I won’t acknowledge the lime green polyester suit I wore in my brief disco dancing days. #1 for two weeks pop, #1 for six weeks RB in 1981, platinum single.

Get Down On It, #10 pop, #4 RB in 1982, gold single.

Joanna, #2 pop, #1 RB for two weeks in 1984, gold single.

Misled, #10 pop, #3 RB for two weeks in 1985

Cherish, #2 pop for three weeks, #1 RB in 1985, gold single

Victory, #10 pop, #2 RB for two weeks  in 1987

Stone Love, #10 pop, #4 RB  in 1987

J.T. has some solo recording and songwriter success.

Jazz Pianist

David Benoit (17th) is described on his website as Jazz Pianist, Composer, Arranger, Conductor, Educator, Radio Personality. He has charted over two dozen albums in a 45-year career and has been nominated for three Grammys.

The title track to Waiting For Spring, 1988

Dad’s Room, 1999

GRP All-Star Band, 1992

National Recording Registry 2021

Flaco Jiménez

Partners. Flaco JiminezYou may have heard about 25 recordings making it into the National Recording Registry. Some got more press than others.

Edison’s “St. Louis tinfoil” recording (1878). I can’t find it yet, but it should be available starting August 28, 2021, when the Missouri History Museum starts its St. Louis Sound exhibition.
Nikolina – Hjalmar Peterson (1917) (single). This appears to be a 1929 version.
Smyrneikos Balos – Marika Papagika (1928) (single). “An authentic Greek recording.”
When the Saints Go Marching In – Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra (1938) (single). He performed this song a lot, but this is among the finest versions.
Christmas Eve  Broadcast – Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (December 24, 1941), right after the US entered WWII.
The Guiding Light – Nov. 22, 1945. I can’t find it, but now I know why it’s on the list. It aired “the first Thanksgiving after the conclusion of World War II… The Rev. Dr. Frank Tuttle gives a moving sermon to a packed church.”

The 1950s and 1960s

Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues – Odetta (1957) (album). My father LOVED her voice.
Lord, Keep Me Day by Day – Albertina Walker and the Caravans (1959) (single)
Roger Maris hits his 61st home run (October 1, 1961). I don’t know if it’s the one with Phil Rizzuto’s voice, or, more likely that of Red Barber.
Aida – Leontyne Price, (1962) (album)
Once A Day – Connie Smith (1964) (single) – EIGHT weeks at #1 on the country charts in 1964, though only #101 on the pop charts
Born Under a Bad Sign – Albert King (1967) (album). I may still own this on vinyl.

Onto the ’70s and ’80s

Free to Be… You and Me – Marlo Thomas and Friends (1972) (album). I watched the TV special for sure. I might have even bought the album.
The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff (1972) (album). There are YouTube versions with more than 12 songs, but the version I own has the dozen.
Lady Marmalade – Labelle (1974) (single). Patti LaBelle didn’t know what this song was about? She didn’t understand French, evidently.
Late for the Sky – Jackson Browne (1974) (album)
Bright Size Life — Pat Metheny (1976) (album). Didn’t find it.
The Rainbow Connection – Kermit the Frog (1979) (single)

Celebration — Kool and the Gang (1980) (single). On the 22 March 2021 JEOPARDY, R and B and SOUL HITS $800. 40 years later and partygoers still like to get on the dance floor and “celebrate good times” to a hit by this group. Triple Stumper, but I knew it instantly. I have the album on vinyl.
Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs – Jessye Norman (1983) (album)
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 – Janet Jackson (1989) (album). I LOVE this album. She performed much of it when I saw her at SPAC in 2018.

THE Find

Partners – Flaco Jiménez (1992) (album). I was not familiar with this artist, but he performs with Stephen Stills, Linda Ronstadt, John Hiatt, and Los Lobos on songs they wrote or co-wrote, plus Dwight Yoakam, Oscar Tellez, and Ry Cooder
Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1993) (single). I may have gotten a little teary-eyed when this played on the TV show E.R. just before Dr. Greene’s departure. Maybe not. Possibly.
Illmatic – Nas (1994) (album)
This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money  (May 9, 2008). “A special program about the housing crisis produced in a special collaboration with NPR News. We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall Street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s?”

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