Jazz guitar great James Mundell Lowe, best known as "Mundy," who died Saturday December 2nd in San Diego at 95, had the good fortune to be able to celebrate that birthday onstage, guitar in hand, performing as he had since his teens. Despite battling two forms of cancer, kidney disease and cardiac problems in the past ten years, Lowe persevered until suffering a fall several weeks ago.
Last year, we looked at Chuck Berry's influence when he turned 89. Hitting 90 this year, with a new album with new material coming next year, it's time to take a look at Berry as a master synthesizer, a genius, like Duke Ellington, Bob Wills, Bill Monroe and others who were able to assimilate ideas from other artists and build them into their own distinctive musical identity. Everyone takes from other players, even those who deny it. We'll look at four aspects of Berry, where they came from and how he integrated them into his sound, and passed it forward.
"Pistol Packin' Mama," today a Texas honky-tonk standard, was one of America's biggest hit records in 1943 and 1944. Not only the biggest country hit, one of the biggest, period.