NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Singer-songwriter Arthur B. Alexander Jr., whose pop and soul classics were among the first songs recorded by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, died June 9 of respiratory and heart failure. He was 53.
Alexander, who recently recorded a comeback album, “Lonely Just Like Me,” was hospitalized with chest pains June 7, the day after his final live performance at Nashville’s Summer Lights fest.
He got his break in 1962, when a small studio he helped build in a former tobacco barn at Muscle Shoals, Ala., released “You Better Move On,” which made it to No. 24 on the Billboard pop chart and transformed Alexander from a bellhop into a singer sharing the stage with soul legends Ben E. King, Jackie Wilson, Solomon Burke and Etta James.
His blend of rock, soul, country and blues first attracted the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the 1960s.
“When the Beatles and the Stones got their first chance to record, one did ‘Anna’ and the other did ‘You Better Move On,’ ” Stones guitarist Keith Richards has said. “That should tell you enough.”
Ry Cooder did a version of Alexander’s “Go Home, Girl” in 1979.
“You Better Move On” also served as the genesis of the “Muscle Shoals sound.” Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour,” Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Aretha Franklin’s “Do-Right Man” were recorded at the Muscle Shoals studio.
Jeannette Mitchell, mother of actor/writer Lisa Mitchell, widow of former bandleader Jimmy Mitchell and sister of the late entertainment columnist and producer Sidney Skolsky, died May 9 of heart failure in Hollywood. She was 85.
She is survived by her daughter and her brother, former United Artists publicist Milton Skolsky.
Ian Dryden, formerly a photographer for the Los Angeles Times and California theater organizations, died May 30 in Cambridgeshire, England, of lung cancer. He was 48.
Dryden, whose photos were exhibited in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico, was company photographer for L.A. Actors Theater Center, San Diego Dance Theater and San Quentin Drama Workshop.
Guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus died June 3 in Manhattan, reportedly of heart failure. He was 77.
Casseus’ “Merci Bon Dieu” was recorded by Hugh Masekela and Harry Belafonte. He also was known for the composition “Haitian Suite,” which he recorded for Folkways Records.