You may never have heard of either Larry Knechtel or John Edward Carter. They have each passed away in the last few days, and they were true music legends. You know that music that marketers like to say is the “soundtrack of our lives”? These two guys were part of the reason that soundtrack exists.
Hohn Edward Carter was a founding member of both the Dells and the Flamingos. This means he sang the falsetto lead on two of the greatest singles ever recorded: “Stay in My Corner” for the Dells, and “I Only Have Eyes for You” for the Flamingos. He died on Friday at age 75 of lung cancer.
The Dells, from Chicago, were the original R&B group. Until Carter’s death, the group had been intact for almost 50 years. The lead singer is Marvin Junior, and you can hear his delicious rich vocals on all their hits, from “Oh What Night” to “Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation.” But the Dells are singularly important because they combined doo-wop and soulful R&B. They were like the bridge between the genres. If Marvin represented the soul side, then John Carter was the doo-wop. His tenor falsetto in the six minute version of “Stay in My Corner” is one of the most magnificent moments in the history of music. It’s interesting to listen to it again and again, and watch him make that connection between two generations of black music. Pure magic. In this clip from YouTube, sit and behold. Carter is on the right. Wait til the very end, as he sums it all up.
Larry Knechtel is best known for two things in his illustrious career. He was a member of Bread, and played keyboards and bass on all their hits from “Make it With You” to “Everything I Own” and “The Guitar Man.” He also played the piano solo on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Knechtel was part of the Wrecking Crew, a group of musicians that included Leon Russell, Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye. They were Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound.” Knechtel also played on the Beach Boys‘ seminal album, “Pet Sounds,” on all the hits by the Mamas and Papas, 5th Dimension, and Byrds. He’s even the keyboardist on Elvis Costello’s masterpiece, “All this Useless Beauty.” Knechtel’s list of credits is extraordinary. He died of a heart attack the other day at age 67.
Check here for Larry Knechtel’s astonishing list of credits.