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