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Memphis soul songwriter and musician Mabon "Teenie" Hodges.




He was known as “Teenie,†but in the annals of soul and R&B history he was a giant: a million-selling songwriter, a genre-defining guitarist, and the creative and emotional anchor of the vaunted studio group Hi Rhythm.

Mabon “Teenie†Hodges may have been small in physical size but his legacy was massive; his 50-year career and body of work serving as one of the cornerstones of the Memphis sound.

Mr. Hodges died Sunday night at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, from complications of emphysema. He’d been taken to Baylor following an appearance at Austin’s South by Southwest music festival in March after coming down with pneumonia. He was 68 years old.

Lawrence “Boo†Mitchell, a longtime family friend and grandson of Mr. Hodges’ mentor, the late producer Willie Mitchell, confirmed the news of his passing.

Original Hi Rhythm Section member Mabon "Teenie" Hodges perform with famed Memphis band and Lisa G at The Stage on Sixth Patio for SXSW 2013 in Austin, TX on March 16, 2013. (John Anderson/Special to The Commercial Appeal

"It's a huge blow to Memphis music," said an emotional Mitchell. "Teenie was an icon -- as a songwriter and a guitarist. Guitarists all around the world loved and imitated his playing. But Teenie ... man, he was one of a kind."

During Hi Records' glory years starting in the late '60s, Mr. Hodges wrote or co-wrote many classics of the R&B genre, including a succession of hits with and for Al Green: "Here I Am," "Full of Fire," "Take Me to the River" and "Love and Happiness"

Mr. Hodges was also the cornerstone of the famed Hi Rhythm band, under the direction Willie Mitchell. A singular-sounding unit, the group's languid, dreamy grooves became the signature that helped propel the careers of Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson, and most notably, Green. Hodges and company would redefine the sound of R&B into the 1970s with their work on classic albums such as Green's Call Me and I'm Still In Love With You and Peebles' I Can't Stand the Rain. The group would carry the torch for Memphis soul even as Hi's South Memphis neighbors at Stax fell by the wayside.

"What he did for Willie over at Hi was special and unique," said Mr. Hodges' close friend and Stax Records great, David Porter. "Teenie created the groove, the pocket, as one would call it. That came from the way he played rhythmically. That groove was what made the records for Al Green and so many others such big hits. And that sound, that feel, it came totally from Teenie's spirit. That's what the world should know about this man: his heart is in all those records."

A diminutive figure with an outsized personality and flamboyant sense of style, Teenie Hodges was raised in a musical hothouse. Born in 1946 into a family of 12 children, he grew up in what were then the farm lands of post-World War II Germantown. Mr. Hodges' father, Leroy Sr., led his own blues outfit, the Germantown Blue Dots. Most of the Hodges boys apprenticed in the group -- including Teenie, who began playing guitar with the band at age 12.

While Mr. Hodges continued working with his dad, his brother Leroy formed his own R&B band, the Impalas, with a group of young musicians who included Tommy Lee Williams and Archie Turner, the stepson of noted Memphis trumpeter and band leader Willie Mitchell.

In the early '60s, Mr. Hodges, then just an eager-to-please teenager, turned up at Mitchell's home where the Impalas were rehearsing. "I really wanted Willie to hear me play," recalled Mr. Hodges in an interview with The Commercial Appeal in 2007. "He said 'No, you can't play worth a damn! Your problem is you use a thumb pick, you need to start playing with a flat pick.' So that's how I started playing with a flat pick. I was 16 when he told me that."

That would be the first of many musical lessons Mitchell would offer Mr. Hodges. Within a few months, he had unofficially adopted Teenie, who came to live with and learn from Mitchell for the next seven years.

"I'd go with him to his gigs at the Manhattan Club (in West Memphis)," recalled Mr. Hodges. "Sometimes I'd just sit there and watch. Sometimes I'd play a set. Then, eventually he hired me to play on the weekends. Then I went out of town to a show in Ohio. And I played with him everywhere after that."

Within a year after Mr. Hodges became a full-fledged member of Mitchell's band in 1965, his brothers Charles and Leroy would also join, playing organ and bass. They would add drummer Howard Grimes, one of the pioneering young players who'd helped shape Stax's earliest recordings, thus birthing the core of what would become Hi Rhythm (adding Archie Turner on keys a few years later). In between their live dates, the band would develop their sound recording sides for Mitchell as well as a selection of his fellow Hi Records artists, including Ace Cannon, Charlie Rich and Jumpin' Gene Simmons.

In the late '60s, Mitchell and the band cut back on their touring schedule, to focus more on the work at Royal Studio. By 1970, Mitchell had taken over the operation of Hi Records and began to reshape the company into a full-fledged R&B label.

With Mr. Hodges serving as the group's linchpin and Mitchell's creative muse, the producer would make momentous innovations in the studio and on record. In their melding of jazz chords and R&B beats, sophisticated strings and melodic brass arrangements, Mitchell and his men changed the sound and feel of the music in the "Me Decade," moving it from the dance floor to the bedroom. They would, as author Peter Guralnick noted, "take soul music…to quiet, luxuriantly appointed places it had never been before." By the time Hi Rhythm reached its mid-'70s peak, their work with Green and others had yielded a remarkable run of gold and platinum albums and chart hits.

In 1976, Hi Rhythm cut its own little-remembered but fiercely funky LP, On The Loose, which found Teenie, Charles and Archie Turner handling vocal duties. But, the following year, Hi Records was sold to Southern label mogul Alvin Bennett (who also purchased the remains of the bankrupt Stax) and in the transition to new ownership -- as well as the loss of Al Green to the church -- the studio band broke-up. "After that, I kinda stopped playing for a couple years," said Mr. Hodges.

Mr. Hodges would return to music by 1979 and continued playing throughout the '80s and '90s, working with bluesman Albert Collins, touring Japan with Otis Clay, and periodically reforming the Hi Rhythm Section. In 2005, he began working with indie-pop chanteuse Cat Power, as part of her Memphis Rhythm Band. Mr. Hodges continued playing sessions in and around Memphis, largely at Royal Studios. Over the last few years, he worked with a range of artists including Sam Moore, Boz Scaggs, Mark Ronson, and his nephew, the rap star Drake.

Several generations of Memphis guitarists would bow at his altar, marveling at the purity of Mr. Hodges' artistry. "He'd set up at the studio and I would expect him to come with a vintage telecaster and Fender amp," said Memphis guitarist Steve Selvidge, who worked on recording sessions with Mr. Hodges. "He would come with anything but that; he'd have these outlandish convention-defying guitars. Then he would plug in and play and it all clicked. It was always Teenie, no matter what guitar or amp he was using. The sound was in his head and his hands. He had an intuitive sense of what worked."

"His guitar style personified Memphis music," said the North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson. "It was sophisticated and funky, joyful yet blue. "

In more recent years, Mr. Hodges had been the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Susanna Vapnek. Starting in 2008, Vapnek spent several years shooting Hodges in and around his Memphis home base, interviewing family, friends and collaborators, capturing recording sessions and piecing together a narrative of his life. Titled "Mabon 'Teenie' Hodges: A Portrait of A Memphis Soul Original", the film would receive raves, screening at film festivals in Austin, Nashville, Santa Barbara, and in Hodges' hometown, where it was presented during the 2013 edition of the Indie Memphis Film Festival.

The lovingly crafted documentary would prove a testament to Hodges' legacy as a songwriter. In addition to Green, Hodges wrote with the team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter, penning the Sam & Dave number "I Take What I Want," and would see his material covered by an amazing array of artists -- everyone from Welsh belter Tom Jones to reggae legends Toots and the Maytals -- over the course of his lifetime.

One of the documentary's funniest moments comes as Hodges lists the names of all the artists who covered his "Take Me to the River" (the Talking Heads, Annie Lennox, Tina Turner), before noting that the use of the tune by the animatronic singing toy "Big Mouth Billy Bass" had produced the biggest royalties. "What a world, what a world," Mr. Hodges would note, laughing at the brilliant absurdity of the situation.

Mr. Hodges continued to perform with Hi Rhythm up until this spring, helping promote a new film, "Take Me to the River" -- a cross-generational, cross-genre music documentary named after his most famous composition.

Reflecting on his life and career in 2007, Mr. Hodges demurred when asked about his great gifts and contributions.

"I just feel blessed to have been doing it this long," he said. "I didn't have nothing to do with it, really, God did it. But, yes, I do feel blessed I was able to make this music and make a lot of people happy."

Mr. Hodges is survived by his children Valencia Hodges, Reginald Hodges, Shonte Stokes, Sheila Hodges, Sheri Hodges, Tabitha Gary, Inga Black, and Mabon L. Hodges II.

Arrangements for funeral services have not been finalized, but are expected to take place in Memphis later this week.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly star Eli Wallach dead at 98


New York - US method actor Eli Wallach - famous for a 60-year career that included classics like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven - is dead at the age of 98, reported the New York Times Tuesday, citing the actor's daughter.


The son of Jewish immigrant from Poland, he had his Broadway debut in 1945, winning a Tony award in 1951.


He enjoyed his first silver screen success with The Magnificent Seven in 1960, playing Mexican bandit Calvera.


He co-starred in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with Clint Eastwood, portraying the gangster Tuco.


He received an honourary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2010.




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I was surprised that he was still around too. I never met him, but my Jewish neighbours when I was a teen were friends with him. (I think their families had come from the same village.) I never heard an unkind word spoken about him from anyone. By all accounts, he really was a good guy - though he usually played bad guys. :rip:

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KNU general dies in Mae Hong Son



General Tamla Baw, one of the most respected Karen leaders has died, aged 94, in Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son.


The former KNU chairman passed away on Thursday June 26, at 9.24pm.


General Tamla Baw was a man of deeds and spent his life fighting for freedom, democracy and self-determination for Karen people. According to Thai police, he moved to Mae Sariang after his retirement and lived in a small house with his family.




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Soul singer and songwriter Bobby Womack dead at 70



Legendary soul singer and songwriter Bobby Womack, who penned hits for many of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century, has died at the age of 70.


The cause of death was not announced, but Womack had suffered from cancer and Alzheimer's disease and battled with drug addiction.


His hits included It's All Over Now, performed by the Rolling Stones, and Lookin' for Love.


He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.


Womack was born in 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio and began singing in a gospel group in the 1950s with his brothers.


He later gained attention after they signed to SAR Records in 1960.


The brothers, including Cecil, Curtis, Harry and Friendly Jr, cut two R&B albums as the Valentinos.


Later the group broke up and Womack turned to song writing and a solo career.


He outlived many of the acts with whom he played and with whom he was friendly, including Jimi Hendrix and Wilson Pickett.


His songs were recorded by Janis Joplin, Wilson Pickett and many others. His friend Sam Cooke persuaded him to let the Rolling Stones record It's All Over Now.


"He said, 'One day you'll be part of history, this group is gonna be huge,'" Womack told BBC Newsnight in 2012. "I said, 'Why don't they get their own songs?'"


He also worked as a session guitarist, appearing on recordings by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Dusty Springfield, and Pickett.


From 1970-90, Womack charted 36 singles including That's the Way I Feel About Cha and Woman's Gotta Have It.


A series of personal tragedies including the deaths of two sons led him to drug abuse, according to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

'My worst critic'


After a long musical hiatus, in 2009 he was tapped by Gorillaz cofounder Damon Albarn to record a song for the group's third album.


In 2012, Womack released his first album in more than ten years, entitled The Bravest Man in the Universe.


Womack told the BBC in 2013 "drugs had a lot to do with" a period spent away from the music industry prior to 2009.


"I've always been my worst critic," he said. "I think that keeps me reaching... I never take the audience for granted."


Just two weeks before his death, Womack performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.


Musicians who worked with the star paid tribute to his career and contribution to music.


Gospel singer Candi Staton, who knew Womack since childhood, said he had "a style that nobody else could ever capture".


"I loved him and I will miss him so, so very much" said the singer, who also toured with him.


Jason Newman from Rolling Stone Magazine said that he was one of the biggest soul acts of the day in the 1970s.


"Some of his albums and tracks are classics.. He was doing it for seven decades", he told the BBC.




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Years ago, I was sitting in a bar next to a stranger with a north of England accent. We exchanged the usual small talk and he seemed like an all right guy. After he left, a friend came over and said, "Do you know who that was?" Yep, that was Naughty Nigel. :rip:


p.s. Nigel William Bickel. Apparently, he was 53.




I've bumped into him a few times over the years, i always found him to be a nice enough chap too, he enjoyed his football and was easy company.


I never had any problems with his porn work, the girls have to put up with way worse than him and they got well paid. As for the drugs and credit card stuff? Meh, so what? Drugs and fraud in bangkok? Not exactly a stain on the cities image is it? They are much bigger dealers and fraudsters than him.

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'Designing Women' Star Meshach Taylor Dies At 67



Meshach Taylor, who played a lovable ex-convict surrounded by boisterous Southern belles on the sitcom Designing Women and appeared in numerous other TV and film roles, died of cancer at age 67, his agent said Sunday.


Taylor died Saturday at his home near Los Angeles, according to agent Dede Binder.


Taylor got an Emmy nod for his portrayal of Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women from 1986 to 1993. Then he costarred for four seasons on another successful comedy, Dave's World, as the best friend of a newspaper humor columnist played by the series' star, Harry Anderson.


Other series included the cult favorite Buffalo Bill and the popular Nickelodeon comedy Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.


Taylor's movie roles included a flamboyant window dresser in the 1987 comedy-romance Mannequin as well as Damien: Omen II.


He guested on many series including Hannah Montana, The Unit, Hill Street Blues, Barney Miller, Lou Grant, The Drew Carey Show, and, in an episode that aired in January, Criminal Minds, which stars Joe Mantegna, with whom Taylor performed early in his career as a fellow member of Chicago's Organic Theater Company. Taylor also had been a member of that city's Goodman Theatre.


The Boston-born Taylor started acting in community shows in New Orleans, where his father was dean of students at Dillard University. He continued doing roles in Indianapolis after his father moved to Indiana University as dean of the college of arts and sciences.


After college, Taylor got a job at an Indianapolis radio station, where he rose from a "flunky job" to Statehouse reporter, he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press in 1989.


"It was interesting for a while," he said. "But once you get involved in Indiana politics you see what a yawn it is."


Resuming his acting pursuit, he set up a black arts theater to keep kids off the street, then joined the national touring company of Hair. His acting career was launched.


After Hair, he became a part of the burgeoning theater world in Chicago, where he stayed until 1979 before heading for Los Angeles.


Taylor played the assistant director in Buffalo Bill, the short-lived NBC sitcom about an arrogant and self-centered talk show host played by Dabney Coleman. It lasted just one season, 1983-84, disappointing its small but fervent following.


Seemingly his gig on Designing Women could have been even more short-lived. It was initially a one-shot.


"It was for the Thanksgiving show, about halfway through the first season," Taylor said. But producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason told him if the character clicked with audiences he could stay.


It did. He spun comic gold with co-stars Jean Smart, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts and Delta Burke, and never left.


Meanwhile, his real life worked its way into one episode.


"We were doing some promotional work in Lubbock, Texas, and somehow Delta Burke and I got booked into the same hotel suite," he said. They alerted their respective significant others to the mix-up, then muddled through with the shared accommodations.


"When we got back I told Linda, and she put it into a show: We got stranded at a motel during a blizzard and ended up in the same bed!"


Taylor is survived by his four children and his wife, Bianca Ferguson.




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Drugs and fraud in bangkok? Not exactly a stain on the cities image is it? They are much bigger dealers and fraudsters than him.


Quite the ambassador, wasn't he? Prostitution, racketeering, fraud, dealing drugs ... at least he never killed anybody, right? (that we're aware). I can see a posthumous OBE in his future.

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