Music News Digest: Week Of September 6, 2020

September 14, 2020 by Amy Gold

During the week of September 6, 2020, fans bade a final farewell to four oldies music icons - Kool & The Gang co-founder Ronald Bell (November 1, 1951 - September 9, 2020), reggae pioneer Toots Hibbert (December 8, 1942 - September 11, 2020), veteran R&B saxophonist and bandleader Hal Singer (October 8, 1919 - August 18, 2020), and Honey Cone lead singer Edna Wright (ca. 1944 - September 12, 2020).

Born in Youngstown, OH, R&B singer, songwriter, producer, and saxophonist Ronald "Khalis" Bell co-founded Kool & The Gang with his brother, Robert "Kool" Bell, and neighborhood friends George Brown, Spike Mickens, Charles Smith, Dennis Thomas, and Ricky Westfield. This award-winning band became one of the top disco acts of the 1970s and early 1980s with such smash hits as "Jungle Boogie" (1973), "Hollywood Swinging" (1974), "Ladies Night" (1979), and "Celebration" (1980).

Jamaica-born singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Toots Hibbert was the lead vocalist of Toots & The Maytals, a veteran ska and rocksteady group best known for "Do The Reggay" (1968) which was the first song to use the word "reggae" and credited as the origin of the genre name. The Grammy-winning reggae pioneer, who influenced numerous artists over his six-decade career, died from complications related to COVID-19. His music was featured in the soundtrack to the 1972 Jimmy Cliff movie, "The Harder They Come," which introduced reggae to audiences around the world.

Born in Tulsa, OK, R&B/jazz bandleader and saxophonist Hal "Cornbread" Singer topped the R&B charts in 1948 with his raucous instrumental smash, "Corn Bread," which became both his signature song and nickname. Over his long career, he worked with such top artists as Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, and Sam Cooke, and his honking saxophone helped usher in the birth of rock & roll. A survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, Singer celebrated his 100th birthday on October 8, 2019.

Edna Wright, the younger sister of Darlene Love, began her career in the early 1960s as a backup singer and recorded for a time as Sandy Wynns. In 1968, the Los Angeles native co-founded Honey Cone, an all-female R&B trio that topped both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts in 1971 with "Want Ads." After Honey Cone disbanded in 1973, she pursued a solo career and returned to session work, recording and performing with Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, Annie Lennox, and her sister Darlene. Wright, who had suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, passed away following a heart attack.

Also that week, The Rolling Stones made U.K. chart history when their recently reissued 1973 album, "Goats Head Soup," reached #1 on the Official Albums Chart and made them the first band ever to top that tally in six different decades. Dolly Parton also reached a milestone on the U.S. charts with "There Was Jesus," her first #1 hit on Billboard's Christian Airplay tally. A longtime crossover favorite, the country superstar, who has so far amassed a whopping 25 #1 hits on the Country charts, previously topped both the Pop/Rock and Adult Contemporary charts with "9 To 5" (1980) and "Islands In The Stream" (1983).

Starting September 14, 2020, an updated version of Little Richard's 1956 smash, "Rip It Up," which features a new instrumental arrangement and backup singers, will be used as the Monday Night Football theme song. This reworked early rock & roll classic will replace Hank Williams Jr.'s "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" which was used from 1989-2011 and 2017-2019.

The Righteous Brothers launched a four-part series of pay-per-view concerts, with the first installment taking place on September 9, 2020. Dubbed "An Intimate Evening With The Righteous Brothers," this series will stream live from The Space Las Vegas venue via the Broadway World streaming platform. The current incarnation of The Righteous Brothers consists of founding member Bill Medley and Bucky Heard who replaced Medley's late original partner, Bobby Hatfield (d. 2003).

"Music, Money, Madness...Jimi Hendrix In Maui," a new documentary that captures two shows the guitar legend played on July 30, 1970 on the Hawaiian island, will be coming out on November 30, 2020 along with a companion album, "Live In Maui." In this film, Hendrix and his band traveled to Maui to take part in a movie, "Rainbow Bridge," and gave two free outdoor concerts on the slopes of a dormant volcano.

Also that week, AXS TV announced the upcoming 11th season of the documentary series, "Rock Legends," to premiere October 4, 2020. Episode 1 ("Soul Crooners") will feature Lionel Richie, Billy Ocean, and Michael Bolton, and subsequent episodes will be dedicated to such musical categories and genres as teen idols, soul/R&B, glam rock, doo-wop, rockabilly, the New Orleans sound, and the Phil Spector years.

Finally, Cher was declared the winner at the 2020 Fragrance Foundation Awards for her perfume, Cher Eau de Couture, much to her surprise. I can't believe I was nominated. I'm shocked that I won, she tweeted. Someone get some smelling salts and make sure they smell good! This means so much more because it was you guys that made it happen.

New & Upcoming Releases:
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(For more information about the above news items, please see below for a list of sources with links.)