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Inductees  

The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame Inaugural Class 2014

All exhibits created by Jack McKenna, official graphic designer for the RIMHOF museum.

Click on the “plaques” for a larger view.

Tavares

Paul Gonsalves
(1920 - 1974)

The Castaleers

From their earliest days in the Fox Point neighborhood of Providence, it was clear the seven Tavares brothers were born to make music. At first, they were guided by their dad, Feliciano “Flash” Tavares, the godfather of the Cape Verdean-American musical tradition in New England, but in the 1950s, the oldest son, John, began introducing the boys to the new Rhythm & Blues sounds springing up all over the country. Early incarnations of the group, The Del Rios and Chubby & The Realities, rose to the top of the local scene in the early ’60s. As Chubby & The Turnpikes, they were signed to Capitol Records in 1968 and began to attract national attention. Over the next four years, the act grew to include all six of the other brothers: Ralph, Arthur “Pooch,” Antone “Chubby,” Feliciano “Butch” Jr., Perry “Tiny” and Victor. After one final name change to simply Tavares, they returned to Capitol in 1973 and scored their first big hit, “Check It Out.” Victor dropped out at that time leaving the five remaining brothers to embark on a decade-long run at the top unparalleled in Rhode Island music history. With massive hits such as “She’s Gone,” “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel,” and “Whodunit,” the group were recognized as pioneers in the evolution of R&B from the Soul era into the modern Funk and Disco movements of the ’70s and ’80s. They placed eight singles on Billboard’s Top 40, 12 in the R&B Top 10 (including three #1 hits), three Dance Chart hits (two at #1), 10 hit LPs, and won a Grammy for “More Than A Woman,” their contribution to "Saturday Night Fever," one of the best-selling albums of all time. At the time of their induction into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2014, Tavares remains a top international touring attraction with Chubby, Pooch, Butch and Tiny carrying on the tradition.

While a Pawtucket high school student in the 1930s, Paul Gonsalves studied with two of Rhode Island’s finest musicians, guitarist Joseph Petteruti and saxophonist Joseph Piacitelli, but it was his tenor sax which opened doors for him with the big bands including Count Basie’s. He became a pivotal figure in the evolution of post-war jazz from swing into the modern era when he was drafted into Dizzy Gillespie’s band in the late ’40s. Paul was attuned to all developments in popular music and while his warm tone invoked the masters, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, his extraordinary abilities were on par with the young lions of the era such as Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins. He joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1950 and provided a crucial ingredient in the modernization of Duke’s sound. In his off time, he released a series of solo albums which are considered some of the finest small-group, modern jazz recordings of the ‘50s and ’60s. But even had he never racked up so many achievements, he was guaranteed a place in the history books by his famous 27 chorus improvisation on “Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue” at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival which single-handedly reversed the waning fortunes of the Ellington band and turned the festival’s tone from a staid, concert setting into the joyous celebration for which it has become known the world over. In one solo, he managed to pay tribute to his mentors, prove himself the equal of his post-Bop contemporaries, and drive the crowd wild with a rockin’ nod to the honkin’ tenor stylings of the R&B scene. Although plagued throughout career by problems with drugs and alcohol, Paul was universally regarded as one of the warmest, kindest and generous musicians in jazz. He passed away at 53 in 1974.

The Rhode Island Rhythm & Blues scene began in the mid-1950s when aspiring teen vocal groups moved off the street corners of Providence and into the rec center at the Doyle Avenue Grammar School on the East Side. The Castaleers evolved when members of various groups including The Parakeets and The Five Tones settled into a permanent lineup: Richard Jones (lead, baritone/tenor), George Smith (baritone), Dell Padgett (bass), Ron Henries (tenor) and Benny Barros (tenor). George had become friendly with songwriters Myron and Ray Muffs, the owners of Muffet’s Music Store in downtown Providence, one of the few shops in town where he could find R&B records. After hearing the group, the Muffs were knocked out and produced four sides which they placed with Felsted Records, a U.S. division of the mighty British Decca company. Released in 1957, “Come Back” charted in Providence, Philadelphia, Detroit and Montreal, but the group, all of whom had good jobs or were still in school, declined to tour outside of the Northeast until something bigger was on the horizon. Two more releases also fared well, but the group’s unwillingness to tour nationally led to them being dropped. Henries left and was replaced by singer/songwriter Joe Hill of The 5 Dukes and The Dials. The Muffs produced another session on two of Joe’s songs and placed the master with L.A. label Donna/Del-Fi, home to Ron Holden and Ritchie Valens. Once again, there was action, especially in Los Angeles, but it never reached the top and in 1961, the group called it a day. Still, the Castaleers are recognized as trailblazers for Rhode Island artists who paved the way for national releases by Freddie Scott, The Del Rios (Tavares) and Dipsy & The Doodles. Their 45s are considered some of the greatest – and most collectible – group records of the pre-Soul R&B era.

The Mark II
Winston Cogswell & Ray Peterson

Duke Robillard

Cheryl Wheeler

Winston Cogswell, of Warwick, was literally present at the birth of Rock ’n’ Roll after moving to Memphis, Tennessee in 1954. Working at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records as a “jack of all trades” – guitarist, pianist, songwriter, arranger, producer and recording artist under the name Wayne Powers – he collaborated with some of the most important figures in music history including Ray Harris, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. He moved on to RCA Victor in Nashville as a songwriter penning hits for Chet Atkins and Skeeter Davis. Deciding he could pursue his writing career without being on the scene, he returned to Warwick in 1960 and began collaborating with pianist/composer Ray Peterson. The duo formed Wye Records with a third partner, engineer Ken Dutton, and their 1960 debut release as The Mark II, “Night Theme,” became a national hit. The song was covered dozens of times around the world including versions by Al Hirt, The Chantays, and Lawrence Welk. Wye became the launching pad for some of Rhode Island’s finest musicians and remains the most successful label in state history. More than 50 years later, Cogswell and Peterson are still collaborating at the time of their induction into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

By the end of the 1960s, Michael Robillard, of Woonsocket, had already earned a reputation as one of the finest blues guitarists in Rhode Island after stints with the short-lived original lineup of Roomful of Blues, Ken Lyon’s Tombstone Blues Band, and The Black Cat Blues Band – during whose run he acquired his world-renowned nickname of “Duke.” In 1970, he was introduced to the horn-driven energy of the “jump blues” via Buddy Johnson’s classic LP “Rock ’n Roll” and he reformed Roomful with a three-piece horn section. Under his leadership, the band practically single-handedly revived the genre and gained national attention with two albums for Island Records. Never one to rest on his laurels, Duke left the band to pursue a solo career with his stellar Rhode Island rhythm section, The Pleasure Kings – Thom Enright and Tommy DeQuattro. During this period, the jazzier side of his far-flung influences (especially the Texas masters Charlie Christian and Herb Ellis) began emerging more strongly and he released his first jazz project, “Swing,” in 1987 to critical acclaim. Leading up to his induction into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2014, he has not only maintained his status as one of the world’s finest blues guitarists, he has become known worldwide as one of our greatest jazz players as well. Along the way, he has recorded and/or toured as a collaborator or sideman with some of the greatest artists in music including Herb Ellis, Jimmy Witherspoon, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Dr. John and Ruth Brown.

In 1976, Cheryl Wheeler moved to Rhode Island to pursue a career in music on the Newport folk scene. She took that scene by storm and was quickly recognized as one of the finest songwriters and singers to surface in a decade or more. Over the next few years, she became an in-demand performer at acoustic venues throughout the Northeast and established artists began covering her songs. When the fledgling North Star Records, of Providence, began searching for an artist to launch their label, they zeroed in on Cheryl. In 1986, her self-titled first album, produced by Jonathan Edwards, brought her national attention and a cover version of one of its tracks, “Addicted,” was taken all the way to #1 on Billboard’s Top 40 Country chart by superstar Dan Seals in 1988. The follow-up, “Half A Book,” solidified her standing and she was picked up by the Nashville division of Capitol Records for her third album. Though she did not fit the mold of the Nashville “star-making machine” and was given her release, “Circles & Arrows” was an artistic triumph and further enhanced her reputation as a composer. In 1993, she settled into the more familiar surroundings of the folk, blues and roots label Philo/Rounder in Cambridge, Massachusetts and released a series of recordings of her comic and emotionally intense songs which are considered singer/songwriter classics around the world. Her songs have been covered by a wide range of artists including Kenny Loggins, Garth Brooks, Bette Midler and Peter, Paul & Mary and she continues to tour extensively.

Freddie Scott
(1933-2007)

Randy Hien
(1949 - 2006)

Francis Madeira

Freddie was born in Providence in 1933. He found early success touring the Northeast and England with his grandmother’s gospel group, Sally Jones & The Gospel Keyes. He next enrolled in medical school at URI, but music became his chosen field when he settled in New York City in 1956. Between rounds as a small label recording artist and songwriter and a stint in the Korean conflict, he caught the attention of music entrepreneur Don Kirshner who signed him as a songwriter with Aldon Music, then home to Carole King, Barry Mann, Neil Sedaka and Paul Simon. Freddie’s songs from this period were recorded by Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, Tony Orlando, Gene “Duke Of Earl” Chandler and Clyde McPhatter. His biggest hit as a writer was “The Door Is Open,” a Hot 100 entry for Tommy Hunt in 1962. Freddie entered the charts as a singer himself the following year with “Hey Girl” written by his friends Carole King and Gerry Goffin. It hit Billboard’s Top 10 and is considered a classic today with covers by the Temptations, Bobby Vee, Donny Osmond, Billy Joel, George Benson and Michael McDonald. Freddie then signed with Columbia Records in 1964 and released two LPs and four singles, but major labels did not know how to nurture R&B talent in the early ‘60s, so, as did Aretha Franklin, Freddie left the label. Bert Berns, on the other hand, was a solid R&B producer and approached Freddie to sign with his newly-formed Shout label in 1966. Early the next year, Freddie had the #1 R&B song in the US with “Are You Lonely For Me” – another classic with covers by Otis Redding, Chuck Jackson, Al Green and the Grateful Dead. Freddie did well at Shout, but with Berns’ untimely passing in 1967, the label lost its driving force. And so, Freddie’s hit making days came to an end, but he continued recording occasional singles, albums and jingles and even tried his hand at acting. His last album was “Brand New Man” in 2001 and in 2003 he recorded “Brown-Eyed Girl” for the Van Morrison tribute album, “Vanthology.” Freddie passed away in June, 2007, at the age of 74 leaving behind a legacy as one of the best soul singers and songwriters of the ‘60s and a worldwide reputation that is just as intact today as it was back then. His success remains a great source of pride for the Rhode Island music community.

Randall C. Hien was born in Woonsocket in 1949. He was the great-nephew of entrepreneur B.A. Dario who built and owned Lincoln Downs Race Track and owned major venues such as the RKO Albee Theatre and the Loew's State Theatre which is now the Providence Performing Arts Center. Randy began working in the music business in 1971 when he took a job with his great-uncle who had recently purchased the decaying Loew’s. They changed the name to the Palace Theatre as a venue for Rock ’n’ Roll concerts. Randy was liaison to the acts and managed concessions and venue operations until 1975 when Dario decided it was not financially feasible to keep the doors open any longer. By this point Randy was certain he wanted to continue promoting music but needed a venue to do it in. He approached Arnold Hahn who had a small, failing jazz club at the corner of Westminster and Empire Streets called The Living Room, just blocks from the Palace. Randy had no real money, but offered Hahn his Jaguar XKE for the keys to the club and the liquor license. Hahn gladly took the offer to rid himself of what he considered a major headache. The early days for Randy were very difficult, but with the help of his friend Carl Sugarman and a booking policy which encouraged bands to play their own material, by 1980 the club had become the center of a blossoming original music scene with a dedicated clientele. The future looked promising until his great-uncle, who also happened to own that building, decided to sell the property which was torn down to make way for a new Federal office building. Randy set up shop for Living Room #2 in a warehouse on Promenade St. It was called “the bubble complex” due to a large bubble-shaped bay window which extended out from the side of the building. This was a great period for Randy and the club scene with many great local and national acts on the bill. Even Randy’s mother got involved by cooking dinner for many of the starving musicians. It was a great time until the building owner decided not to renew Randy’s lease and the Living Room #2 came to a close in 1990. For five years, Randy searched for a venue he could buy so he that he wouldn’t be at the mercy of a landlord. Living Room #3 was purchased in 1995 and prospered until 2006 when the Rhode Island music scene lost one of its greatest supporters with Randy’s untimely passing. During his entire entertainment career, Randy also focused on his other passion – baseball. He was a coach for the Lincoln Little League for 28 years.

Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra founder and conductor emeritus Francis Madeira (born 1917 in Jenkintown, PA) came to Providence to teach music at Brown University in 1943 after completing his studies in orchestral conducting at the Juilliard School, New York. Finding no professional symphonic orchestra then active in the state he became the driving force in the creation of a 30-member ensemble that would bring the music of the European masters to various parts of Rhode Island through concerts in high school auditoriums and similar community venues. After generating interest and financial support from leading citizens and music lovers from Rhode Island's business community, Madeira conducted the orchestra's first concert in November, 1944 in Westerly, which was successful enough for a continuing season of six concerts in February, 1945. From that point on the Rhode Island Philharmonic has delivered high-quality musicianship year in and year out, and today it is regarded as one of the great regional orchestras in the United States with a roster of more than 70 musicians and a fully staffed music school that provides weekly lessons and ensemble experiences to more than 1,500 students. Madeira directed the Rhode Island Philharmonic for 30-plus years, retiring to his home in Portland, Maine in 1978. During his tenure as Music Director he established a permanent home for the orchestra at the acoustically superior Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence; established a Youth Philharmonic program to train young musicians; expanded the repertoire to include a Pops Orchestra; maintained a community outreach program of concerts for school children; and brought in some of the best soloists that the world of classical music had to offer. His awards include The Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, 1972; The John F. Kennedy Award for Service to the Community, 1978; The Citizen Citation Award from the Mayor of Providence, 2003; and the Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2010.

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