Within the last few weeks a few icons have died....Willie Mitchell, Teddy Pendergrass and Bobby Charles. Well, I don't think Charles was quite as influential as the other 2 but he was a great talent.
Willie Mitchell was the genius behind Hi Records in Memphis, and Al Green. As a writer and producer he made some of the greatest soul records of all time. Some of the artists he worked with were Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, and O.V. Wright. Along with Stax, Hi was the preeminent soul label in the late 60's/early 70's. Great stuff.
From Philadelphia, the land of Gamble and Huff, Teddy Pendergrass had an amazing rich voice, most notably heard on Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes great singles of the early-mid 1970's. But it was after he left that group to become a solo artist that he did some of his best work. "Close The Door" and Love TKO" are 2 of the best slow jam/quiet storm, etc. songs ever made. I remember hearing about his "Ladies Only" concerts where he basically stood on stage for 2 hours and women threw their underwear at him. It was a tragedy that he had a terrible car accident in 1982 (a transsexual and drugs were involved, but that's for another time) and was left paralyzed at the height of his fame. Great singer.
I remember Bobby Charles from "The Last Waltz", where he played harmonica on "Going Down To New Orleans" with Dr. John and The Band. He was a great musician and wrote some seminal Louisiana rock'n'roll records including "See You Later Alligator". There's not much video around of him performing...below is a sad video taken recently of him playing "Come Rain or Come Shine" in a bar somewhere. You can hear the people in the audience talking over him while he's playing. Sometimes people don't realize that when you see someone perform who may not be a household name, you could be witnessing a form of music history that won't be around much longer.