NPR : News

Filed Under:

Guitarist Mickey Baker Dies; Had Hits In The '50s, Played On Hundreds Of Records

Play associated audio

Mickey Baker, one half of the hit-making duo Mickey and Sylvia in the late '50s and an influential guitarist whose work can be heard on hundreds of records, has died at his home near Toulouse, France.

He was 87.

NPR's Tom Cole reminds us that Mickey and Sylvia cracked the Top 20 in 1957 with a rule "Love Is Strange." But he was much more than a one-hit wonder, Tom says. Baker "added instrumental spice to records by The Coasters, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles" and others. He played on hundreds of sessions.

A jazz musician first, Baker also wrote "what for many years was the book for anyone wanting to learn to play jazz guitar," Tom adds.

The New York Times writes that Baker's "prickly, piercing guitar riffs were featured on dozens if not hundreds of recordings and helped propel the evolution of rhythm and blues into rock 'n' roll. ... Known for his aggressively bluesy chords and attention-grabbing solos, he is often cited by connoisseurs as a signature force, along with the likes of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, in the development of rock 'n' roll and an antecedent of Hendrix, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend and many others."

His guitar work can be heard on LaVern Baker's (no relation) "Jim Dandy," one of the "songs that shaped rock and roll" according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Our friends at The Record cover the music scene.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Remembering Robert Swanson, Advertising's 'King Of Jingles'

Robert Swanson revolutionized American advertising and wrote some of the most memorable ad jingles of the 1950s and '60s for products ranging from Campbell's Soup to Pall Mall cigarettes. He died at 95 July 17 at his home in Phoenix, Ariz.
NPR

More Than Just Saying 'Cheese,' Hundreds Sit Test To Become Official Experts

The American Cheese Society will begin proctoring its next Certified Cheese Professional Exam in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, during the group's annual conference.
WAMU 88.5

Democratic National Convention Day Two: Uniting The Party

An update on day two of the Democratic convention: Bill Clinton takes the stage and ongoing efforts by party leaders to build unity.

WAMU 88.5

How To Help Teens And Children Fight 'Tech Addiction'

Many parents and therapists say obsessive internet use is a very real problem for some teens and children. But the term “internet addiction” is controversial and not officially recognized as a disorder. How to help kids who compulsively use computers and mobile technology.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.