Monday, January 29, 2018

Musician & Songwriter Gary Leibensperger 2015 Westwood Village Cemetery

Gary Leibensperger (XXXXXXXX XX, XXXX - January 29, 2015) was a musician and songwriter. He also worked as an Enrolled Tax Agent, Certified Public Accountant, and Business and Personal Manager for professional athletes.
In life, Gary always wished the year of his birth to stay confidential, to allow himself to be judged without prejudice on his merits and skill, and so his birth year is left off of all public memorials at the personal request of the deceased. The family asks that all please respect this request in memory of him.

Gary Leibensperger died in his sleep from natural causes on January 29, 2015 in San Diego, Callifornia. He is buried at Westwood Village Cemetery. His grave rests next to Roy and Barbara Orbison.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

NFL Football Player Robert Chandler 1995 Rose Hills Cemetery

Robert Donald "Bob" Chandler (April 24, 1949 – January 27, 1995) was an American football player, a wide receiver in the National Football League for twelve seasons.[1]

Early years

Born in Long Beach, California, Chandler was raised in Whittier and graduated from Whittier High School in 1967. He was considered one of the best all-around high school athletes to play in southern California. He was All-CIF in football and basketball and was one of the country's top high school decathletes, high-jumping 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), pole-vaulted more than 13 feet (4.0 m), and put the 12-pound (5.4 kg) shot 57 feet (17 m).[1]

College career

Chandler played college football at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles; he was a captain and the team's leading receiver during his senior year in 1970. He played in two Rose Bowl games; as a junior he was named Most Valuable Player of the 1970 Rose Bowl. In the third quarter, Chandler caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Trojan quarterback Jimmy Jones and broke several Michigan tackles to score and gave USC its margin of victory, 10–3.[2]

Professional career

A seventh round pick in the 1971 NFL Draft, Chandler played nine seasons with the Buffalo Bills (1971–1979) and three with the Oakland Raiders (1980–1982). He led the NFL in receptions from 1975–1977 with 176, and was named Second-Team All-Pro in 1975 and 1977. He also caught four passes for 77 yards in the Raiders' 27–10 Super Bowl XV victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in January 1981.[3]

In the first game of the 1981 season against the Denver Broncos, Chandler stretched out for a pass and took a hit so severely it ruptured his spleen.[4] Chandler was rushed to a Denver hospital where doctors saved his life. Chandler made a miraculous recovery and returned to the field later in the season, appearing in a total of eleven regular season games.

He retired in July 1983;[4] for his career, he had 370 receptions for 5,243 yards and 48 touchdowns, along with 11 carries for 18 yards.

Chandler and running back O.J. Simpson were teammates for a season in college (1968) and seven in the pros at Buffalo (1971–77).

Broadcasting career

Chandler served as a color analyst for NFL games on NBC in 1983, hosted 2 On The Town for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles from 1984–1987, was a sports reporter for KABC-TV in the late 1980s and hosted Amazing Games (a global documentary series about the world's most exotic sports) for ESPN in 1989. He also served as a "Technical Adviser" for the humor book The Unofficial NFL Players Handbook.

Personal life

Chandler's father Gene was the mayor of Whittier in 1987–1988. Chandler eventually married his college sweetheart Marilyn and had three children: Marisa, Justin, and Emma. Chandler earned a law degree from Western State University College of Law.[5]


A non-smoker, Chandler began experiencing a nagging cough in 1994. A rare strain of lung cancer was discovered in his lungs in September 1994. He continued to work on Raider broadcasts while undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the USC Norris Cancer Center, but died there on Friday, January 27, 1995, at the age of 45, after a four-month battle with cancer.[1] He was buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.


In 1996, USC established the annual Bob Chandler Award, given to an underclassman based on his athletic ability, academic scholarship as well as character on and off the field. The award funds a scholarship for the player's full tuition, room and board for the following year.

Chandler was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in November 1999. Highlights of his USC athletic career are on permanent display in USC's Heritage Hall lobby.


1. Stewart, Larry (January 28, 1995). "Ex-Raider Bob Chandler is dead at 45". Los Angeles Times.
2. "USC's winning Rose Bowl formula: Wild bunch + 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1970. p. 3B.
3. "There's no one left to favor over Raiders". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 26, 1981. p. 1D.
4. "Raiders' Chandler calling it a career". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). UPI. July 19, 1983. p. 11.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"Chicago" Musician Terry Kath ACCIDENTAL GUNSHOT 1978 Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery

Terry Alan Kath (January 31, 1946 – January 23, 1978) was an American musician and songwriter, best known as the original guitarist, one of the lead singers and founding members of the rock band Chicago. He has been praised by the band for his guitar skills and Ray Charles-influenced vocal style.

Growing up in a musical family, Kath took up a variety of instruments in his teens, including the drums and banjo. He played bass in a number of bands in the mid-1960s, before settling on the guitar when forming the group that became Chicago. His guitar playing was an important component of the group's sound from the start of their career, and he sang lead on several of the group's singles. He used a number of different guitars, but eventually became identified with the Fender Telecaster fitted with a humbucker pickup and decorated with numerous stickers. Kath was also said to be Jimi Hendrix's favorite guitarist.[1]

Kath struggled with health issues and drug abuse towards the end of the 1970s. He died in January 1978 from an accidental gunshot wound to the head. The bereavement tempted Chicago to consider disbanding, but they ultimately decided to resume as is signified by their memorial song "Alive Again." To commemorate his musicianship, they issued the 1997 album, The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath.

Early life

Kath was born to Raymond Elmer "Ray" (1912–2003) and Evelyn Meline Haugen Kath (1916–1982) on January 31, 1946, in Chicago, Illinois.[2] He has an older brother, Rod Kath.[3][4] He was raised in the Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago.[5] He attended Taft High School and DePaul University. He was of German, English, and Scandinavian descent.

His brother played the drums and his mother played the banjo,[6] and Kath attempted to learn these instruments too.[7] He acquired a guitar and amplifier when he was in the ninth grade, and his early influences included The Ventures, Johnny Smith,[8] Dick Dale,[6] and Howard Roberts.[9] He was later influenced by George Benson, Kenny Burrell,[8] Mike Bloomfield, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix.[8]

Unlike several other Chicago members who received formal music training, Kath was mostly self-taught and enjoyed jamming.[6] In a 1971 interview for Guitar Player, he said he had tried professional lessons but abandoned them, adding "All I wanted to do was play those rock and roll chords."[2] His father wanted him to have a steady career, but he decided he would prefer a career in music.[10]


Early career

Kath joined his first semi-professional band, The Mystics, in 1963, moving to Jimmy Rice and the Gentlemen in 1965.[2][6] He then played bass in a road band called Jimmy Ford and the Executives. Considered to be the bandleader, Kath guided the band's musical direction.[11] Ford was the trumpeter, Walter Parazaider played saxophone and other wind instruments, and Danny Seraphine later became the drummer.[12] Kath became close friends with Seraphine as they formed the rhythm section, as well as with Parazaider. The three musicians regularly socialized outside of the band.[13] They were fired from the group, which wanted to merge with another band, Little Artie and the Pharaohs, while leader and guitarist Mike Sistack explained that "it's just business."[14]

In 1966, Kath joined a cover band called the Missing Links,[6] taking Parazaider and Seraphine with him, and started playing clubs and ballrooms in Chicago on a regular basis.[15] Parazaider's friend at De Paul University, trumpeter Lee Loughnane, also sat in with the band from time to time.[16] Kath's compatriot, James William Guercio (who later became Chicago's producer) was lead guitarist in one of two road bands performing on The Dick Clark Show with the Missing Links.[2][17] Kath received an offer from Guercio to play bass for the Illinois Speed Press and move to Los Angeles, but declined as he considered the guitar his main instrument and wanted to sing lead. He stayed with Parazaider, Seraphine, and Loughnane instead,[18] who quickly recruited trombonist James Pankow from De Paul and vocalist/keyboardist Robert Lamm.[16] Kath sang the lower range of lead vocals in the group[16] in a style reminiscent of Ray Charles.[18] The group practiced at Parazaider's parents' basement and changed its name to The Big Thing. With the addition of singer and bassist Peter Cetera of The Exceptions, they moved to Los Angeles and signed with Columbia Records, renaming the band Chicago Transit Authority. In mid-1969, the name was shortened to Chicago.[19]


Kath was regarded as Chicago's bandleader[20] and best soloist;[1] and his vocal, jazz and hard rock influences are regarded as integral to the band's early sound.[21] He has been praised for his guitar skills and described by rock author Corbin Reiff as "one of the most criminally underrated guitarists to have ever set finger to fretboard."[2][22]

The group's first album, The Chicago Transit Authority, released in 1969, includes Kath's composition "Introduction," described as "Terry's masterpiece" by later Chicago guitarist Dawayne Bailey.[23] The song displays many varied musical styles, including jazz, blues, salsa, rock and roll, acid rock, and pop. The same debut album includes an instrumental guitar piece titled "Free Form Guitar," which consisted largely of feedback and heavy use of the Stratocaster's tremolo arm.[24] The album liner notes indicate that the nearly seven-minute piece was recorded live in the studio in one take, using only a Fender Dual Showman amplifier pre-amped with a Bogen Challenger P.A. amp. The guitar's neck was held together with a radiator hose clamp.[1] The song "Beginnings" includes acoustic rhythm guitar by Kath.[25]

For the group's second album, Kath contributed an extended guitar solo on "25 or 6 to 4," which became a live favorite.[26] The same album saw Kath collaborate with orchestral arranger Peter Matz on the four-part suite "Memories of Love," singing the lead vocal.[27]

Kath wrote at least one song and contributed at least one lead vocal to every Chicago album released during his lifetime. While 1976's Chicago X is best known for Cetera's number one hit, "If You Leave Me Now," Kath's "Once or Twice" showed he was still writing and recording rock material.[28] He continued this style on the following year's Chicago XI, contributing the funky "Mississippi Delta City Blues" and the aggressive "Takin' It on Uptown," which counterbalanced some of the material other members were producing.[29]

After his death, to memorialize Kath and to commemorate the resumption of Chicago, the band composed and published the song "Alive Again" on its first album without him, Hot Streets. Also in Kath's honor, they later published the song "Feel the Spirit."[30]


Kath used several guitars in his early career, but several were stolen while on the road. His first main instrument that he used when Chicago were still The Big Thing was a Register guitar that cost $80. When the band started becoming successful, he traded up to a Fender Stratocaster.[24] He also used a Gibson SG, as pictured on Chicago Transit Authority's inner sleeve, and was one of the few well-known guitarists to make regular use of the 1969 Les Paul "Professional" model, which sported a pair of unconventional low-impedance pickups with a special impedance-matching transformer for use with a standard high impedance-input amplifier.[31] Kath tended to favor light strings, though for the top E string, he used one from a tenor guitar.[24]

He later became associated with a Fender Telecaster modified to include a Gibson humbucker.[32] He started the Pignose amplification company with other members of Chicago[33] and decorated his Telecaster with 25 Pignose stickers and a Chicago Blackhawks logo.[34] Kath experimented with a wide variety of amplification and distortion devices and used a wah-wah pedal frequently.[1] Fascinated by gadgets, Kath was interested in trying to play guitar without using a plectrum. Lamm recalled him attempting to make an auto-picking device using a modified electrical cocktail mixer.[35]


Kath sang lead vocals on several of Chicago's early songs, including the singles "Colour My World" and "Make Me Smile" on Chicago.[1] His vocal delivery was later described by Lamm as "The White Ray Charles."[35] Pankow, who wrote "Make Me Smile," tried rehearsing the song with various members singing lead, but ultimately settled on Kath, saying "bingo – 'that' was the voice."[36]

Kath also played lead guitar and sang lead vocals on the closing song "Tell Me" in the 1973 drama movie Electra Glide in Blue. The song was used in the final episode of the television series Miami Vice.[37]

Personal life and death

Kath reportedly had a self-admitted history of drug abuse, including alcohol.[38] Seraphine knew that Kath had a high tolerance for drugs, but later recalled Kath telling him, "I'm going to get things under control ... if I don't, this stuff is going to kill me."[17] Chicago bandmates have indicated that he was also increasingly unhappy.[39] However, Guercio has said that Kath was working on a solo album before he died,[40] and Pankow adamantly denies that Kath was suicidal.[39]

By 1978, Kath was regularly carrying guns around and enjoyed playing with them.[38] Around 5 p.m. January 23, after a party at roadie and band technician Don Johnson's home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, Kath took an unloaded .38 revolver and put it to his head, pulling the trigger several times on the empty chambers. Johnson warned Kath several times to be careful. Kath then picked up a semiautomatic 9 mm pistol and, leaning back in a chair, said to Johnson, "Don't worry about it ... look, the clip is not even in it."[34] To satisfy Johnson's concerns, Kath showed the empty magazine to Johnson. Kath then replaced the magazine in the gun, put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. Apparently unbeknownst to Kath, however, there was still one round in the chamber, and he died instantly from the gunshot.[34]

Kath left a widow, Camelia Kath (born Camelia Emily Ortiz) (whom he married in 1974), and a 2-year-old daughter, Michelle Kath (now Michelle Kath Sinclair).[34] He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California in the Gardens of Remembrance, near his parents, Ray and Evelyn Kath.[41][42][43]

The group's members were devastated over losing Kath and strongly considered disbanding, but were persuaded by Doc Severinsen, musical director of the Tonight Show band, that they should continue.[44] Kath's position as guitarist in Chicago was subsequently filled by Donnie Dacus,[45] then Chris Pinnick, Dawayne Bailey, and Keith Howland. Original Chicago members Lee Loughnane (trumpet) and Robert Lamm (keyboards) have, on occasion, performed lead vocals originally sung by Terry Kath at Chicago concerts.


"I don't think there's ever been a better rhythm player. And then, Terry's leads are, for that day especially, world class stuff." Chicago keyboardist Robert Lamm[34] Because Chicago considered themselves a team, some band members have subsequently claimed Kath's contributions to be generally overlooked. Parazaider later said, "if [Kath] was totally up front, he would have had a lot more recognition."[35]

In September 1997, Chicago released Chicago Presents The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath, a CD remembrance of their late guitarist, on their own short-lived Chicago Records label.[21]

Band members have since wondered if Kath would have stayed with Chicago had he lived, or started a solo career. In 2010, Parazaider said:

I'm not sure about that. [Terry] was a free spirit ... He was his own person when it came to different things. I would like to think he (would still be with Chicago), but he was very independent and I wonder what he would have thought about the 1980s. I'd have to say it's 50/50. It could have gone either way.[46]

In 2012, Kath's daughter Michelle Kath Sinclair announced that enough funds had been donated to complete production on a documentary of his life, titled Searching for Terry: Discovering a Guitar Legend.[47] In 2014, she confirmed she had interviewed the entire band except for Cetera, and the project was planned for release in 2016.[48] The film made its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, renamed as The Terry Kath Experience,[49] and Peter Cetera was listed among the cast members.[50] It made its United States premiere at the DOC NYC film festival in November 2016 under the same name,[51][52] and was soon after acquired by FilmRise, which planned a 2017 release.[53] The film made its television premiere on AXS TV, under the name, Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience, on November 7, 2017, and its release on VOD and DVD occurred on December 12, 2017.[54]

On April 8, 2016, Chicago was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the ceremony in Brooklyn, NY. Michelle Kath Sinclair accepted the award on her father's behalf.[55]

Discography with Chicago

Main article: Chicago discography

1969 The Chicago Transit Authority 
1970 Chicago 
1971 Chicago III 
1971 Chicago at Carnegie Hall 
1972 Chicago V 
1973 Chicago VI 
1974 Chicago VII 
1975 Chicago VIII 
1976 Chicago X 
1977 Chicago XI 
1997 Chicago Presents The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath 
2011 Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75



1. Gress, Jesse (January 30, 2014). "Under Investigation: Terry Kath". Guitar Player. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
2. Reiff 2013, p. 1.
3. "Daughter of Music Legend Terry Kath Launches Crowdfunding Campaign For New Documentary". Crowdfund Insider. August 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
4. Hermann, Andy. "Never Heard of Guitarist Terry Kath From the Band Chicago? He's Ah-Mazing". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
5. "Daughter's Film Tells Story of the 'Chicago' Guitarist You Don't Remember". DNAinfo Chicago. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
6. Stanton 2003, p. 144.
7. Talevski 2010, p. 329.
8. "Under Investigation: Terry Kath". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
9. Millard, André (2004). The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon. JHU Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-8018-7862-6.
10. Seraphine 2010, p. 32.
11. Seraphine 2010, p. 31.
12. Seraphine 2010, p. 29.
13. Seraphine 2010, p. 37.
14. Seraphine 2010, p. 38.
15. Seraphine 2010, p. 39.
16. Seraphine 2010, p. 49.
17. Seraphine 2010, p. 2.
18. Seraphine 2010, p. 48.
19. Ruhlmann, William. "Chicago – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
20. Prato, Greg. "Terry Kath – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
21. "The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath". AllMusic. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
22. Live by Request: Chicago (DVD). Burbank, CA: Rhino Home Video. 2003. OCLC 53999840. Lay summary – Amazon.
23. Bailey, Dawayne. "Terry Kath". Dawayne Bailey. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
24. Reiff 2013, p. 2.
25. Wild 2002, p. 10.
26. Planer, Linsday. 25 or 6 to 4 at AllMusic. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
27. Perone 2012, p. 16.
28. Planer, Lindsay. "Chicago X". AllMusic. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
29. Planer, Lindsay. "Chicago XI". AllMusic. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
30. LeRoy, Dan (2007). "Chapter 3: Chicago: Like a Rolling Stone". The greatest music never sold: Secrets of Legendary Lost Albums by David Bowie, Seal, Beastie Boys, Beck, Chicago, Mick Jagger and More! (Book). New York: Backbeat Books. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0-87930-905-3. OCLC 145378229.
31. Bacon, Tony. 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul. Backbeat Books. p. 60. ISBN 0-87930-711-0.
32. A. R. Duchossoir, A R (1991). The Fender Telecaster: The Detailed Story of America's Senior Solid Body Electric Guitar. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7935-0860-0.
33. "Pignose advertisement". Guitar Player. 7. 1973.
34. Reiff 2013, p. 3.
35. Wild 2002, p. 8.
36. Wild, David (2002). Chicago (Media notes). Rhino. p. 11. R2 76172.
37. Lyons, James (2009). Miami Vice. John Wiley and Sons. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-4443-1904-0.
38. Seraphine 2010, p. 164.
39. "Chicago Box Set, liner notes, page 8". Retrieved May 28, 2013.
40. "Chapter IX ~ Tragedy". Official Site of Chicago. Archived from the original on June 15, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
41. "Terry Alan Kath". Find a Grave. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
42. "Raymond Elmer Kath (1912 - 2003) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2016-03-11.
43. "Evelyn Meline Haugen Kath (1916 - 1982) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2016-03-11.
44. Seraphine 2010, p. 169.
45. Seraphine 2010, p. 171.
46. Ougler, Jeffrey (May 20, 2010). "Hard Habit to Break". Sault Star. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
47. "Terry Kath's official web site". Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
48. Hermann, Andy (15 August 2014). "Never Heard of Guitarist Terry Kath From the Band Chicago? He's Ah-Mazing". LA Weekly. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
49. Mullen, Pat (August 23, 2016). "TIFF Announces More Docs, Plus VR and Guests". Point of View Magazine. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
50. Dalton, Stephen (September 23, 2016). "'The Terry Kath Experience': Film Review | TIFF 2016". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
51. "2016 DOC NYC in Focus: Sonic Cinema". what (not) to doc. November 7, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
52. "DOC NYC – Music Documentaries". Music of Our Heart. November 11, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
53. McNary, Dave (November 19, 2016). "'Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience' Documentary Set for Release in 2017". Variety. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
54. Melton, Lori (October 31, 2017). "AXS TV to premiere riveting documentary 'Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience' on Nov. 7". AXS. Archived from the original on 2017-11-02. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
55. Deriso, Nick (April 8, 2016). "Chicago's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Speeches Marked by Camaraderie and Humor". Ultimate Classic Rock. Loudwire Network, Townsquare Media. Retrieved November 3, 2017.


Perone, James (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-37906-2.
Reiff, Corbin (May 11, 2013). "Forgotten Heroes: Terry Kath". Premier Guitar. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
Seraphine, Danny (2010). Street Player: My Chicago Story. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-62573-6.
Stanton, Scott (2003). The Tombstone Tourist: Musicians. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6330-0.
Talevski, Nick (2010). Rock Obituaries – Knocking on Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-117-2.
Wild, David (2002). Chicago Transit Authority (Media notes). Rhino. 8122-76171-2.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Talent Scout, Music Producer & Publisher Ralph Peer 1960 Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery

Ralph Sylvester Peer (May 22, 1892 – January 19, 1960) was an American talent scout, recording engineer, record producer and music publisher in the 1920s and 1930s. Peer pioneered field recording of music when in June 1923 he took remote recording equipment south to Atlanta, Georgia to record regional music outside the recording studio in such places as hotel rooms, ballrooms, or empty warehouses.[1]


Peer, born in Independence, Missouri, spent some years working for Columbia Records, in Kansas City, Missouri, until 1920 when he was hired as recording director of General Phonograph's OKeh Records label in New York. In the same year he supervised the recording of Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues," the first blues recording specifically aimed at the African-American market.[2] In 1924 he supervised the first commercial recording session in New Orleans, Louisiana, recording jazz, blues, and gospel music groups there.

He is also credited with what is often called the first country music recording, Fiddlin' John Carson's disc "Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane"/"That Old Hen Cackled and The Rooster's Goin' To Crow." 

In August 1927, while talent hunting in the southern states for the Victor Talking Machine Company, he recorded both Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family in the same session at a makeshift studio in Bristol, Tennessee, known as the Bristol sessions. This momentous event could be described as the genesis of country music as we know it today. Rodgers, who later became known as the Father Of Country Music, cut "The Soldier's Sweetheart" and "Sleep, Baby, Sleep," while the Carters' first sides (August 1, 1927) were: "Bury Me under the Weeping Willow," "Single Girl, Married Girl," "The Poor Orphan Child," and "The Storms Are on the Ocean."[3] In July 1929, he recorded female country singer Billie Maxwell.[4]

In his autobiography,[5] Nathaniel Shilkret, Manager of the Victor Talking Machine Company's Foreign Department from about 1920 through 1926 and then Director of Light Music until 1933, notes that about a year after he hired Peer, Peer asked for a raise, which Shilkret approved. Shilkret comments on Peer's business acumen in making a very profitable trade for this raise: "[Victor executive] Walter Clark met Peer, who sold Clark an idea. No raise, but a royalty of one cent per record side that he would divide with the artist.... When I heard of this I was stunned. No one on the musical staff had been offered royalty for his arrangements or compositions, and here was a man collecting royalties with other men's compositions!"

Peer went on to publish and record other country and jazz artists and songs through his company Southern Music Publishing Company. Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie were on Southern's roster. Then into popular music with songs such as Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell's "Georgia On My Mind."

The company became influential in the 1930s, and success came through Peer's introducing Central American music to the world. In 1940 there was a major development when a dispute between the copyright organization American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and US radio stations led to the inauguration of the rival Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI). BMI supported music by blues, country and hillbilly artists, and Peer, through his Peer-International company, soon contributed a major part of BMI's catalogue.

During and after World War II Peer published songs such as "Deep In The Heart Of Texas" and "You Are My Sunshine" (sung by Jimmie Davis, covered by Bing Crosby and many others), "Humpty Dumpty Heart" (Glenn Miller), "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" (Russ Morgan), "The Three Caballeros" ( Andrews Sisters), "Say A Prayer For The Boys Over There" (Deanna Durbin), "I Should Care" and "The Coffee Song" (both Frank Sinatra). In 1945, he published Jean Villard Gilles and Bert Reisfeld's composition "Les trois cloches" ("The Three Bells"), which was recorded by The Browns.

In the 1950s, Peer published "Mockingbird Hill," a million seller for Patti Page, "Sway" ( Dean Martin and Bobby Rydell), and the novelty "I Know An Old Lady" (Burl Ives). Then came rock 'n' roll and Southern published hits by Buddy Holly, Little Richard, The Big Bopper and The Platters.

Starting in the late 1940s, he took an avid interest in horticulture, growing, and becoming an expert on, camellias. 

His widow, Monique Iversen Peer became president of his company, then called the Peer-Southern Organization. 

Their son, Ralph Peer, II joined the firm in the late 1960s and became CEO in 1980.[6]

Ralph Peer died in Hollywood, California on January 19, 1960. He is buried at Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery


Peer was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984.


Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music, by Barry Mazor (Chicago Review Press) was published in November 2014.


1. Palmer, Robert (1981). Deep Blues. Penguin Books Ltd.: Middlesex, Eng. p. 109. ISBN 0-14-006223-8.
2. Russell, Tony, The Blues From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, 1997, Carlton Books, p. 20, ISBN 1-85868-255-X
3. "Carter Family (Vocal group) - Discography of American Historical Recordings."
4. Wolfe, Charles K. (2002). Classic Country: Legends of Country Music. Routledge. p. 262. ISBN 9781135957346.
5. Shilkret, Nathaniel, ed. Shell, Niel and Barbara Shilkret, Nathaniel Shilkret: Sixty Years in the Music Business, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, 2005, pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-8108-5128-8
6. "Peer Music : About Us."

Monday, January 15, 2018

Former Slave & Pioneer Biddy Mason 1891 Evergreen Cemetery

Bridget "Biddy" Mason (August 15, 1818 – January 15, 1891) was an African-American nurse and a Californian real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist. She is the founder of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, California. She was born in Hancock County, Georgia.[1]

Early life

Biddy Mason was born into slavery on August 15, 1818, in Hancock County, Georgia.[1] She was given the name Bridget with no surname and was later nicknamed Biddy. Bridget was given to Robert Smith and his bride as a wedding present. After the wedding, Smith took his new wife to Mississippi and moved his slaves there.

Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) proselytized in Mississippi. They taught Smith and his family and they converted. Slaves were not baptized in the church as a matter of policy. Members were encouraged to free their slaves, but Smith chose not to do so.

Moving west

The Smith household joined a group of other church members from Mississippi to meet the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1847. The group traveled to Pueblo, Colorado, and joined up with the sick detachment from the Mormon Battalion.[2] They later joined the main body of Mormons crossing the plains and settled in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah Territory.

Drawing of San Bernardino, 1852, 
where she was illegally held captive in a Mormon settlement


Church leader Brigham Young sent a group of Mormons to Southern California in 1851. Robert Smith, his family, and his slaves joined them in San Bernardino, California, sometime later. Bridget was among a large group of slaves in the San Bernardino settlement.[3] As part of the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted as a free state and any slave who resided in the state or was born in the state was free. Bridget had lived in California for four years and some of the other slaves had been born in California, so they were covered by the law.[4] Bridget wanted to be free,[4] but was under the control of Robert Smith and ignorant of the laws and her rights.[5]

In 1856, Smith decided to move to the slave state of Texas and sell his slaves there. He told his slaves that they would be free in Texas, but Bridget did not believe him. She did not want to go to Texas and was worried she would be separated from her children like she was from her mother.[4]

Bridget, helped by friends, attempted to escape from Smith. She and a group of Smith's other slaves traveled towards Los Angeles before Smith caught up with them. He took her and the other slaves and camped in canyon near Santa Monica. One of his slaves, Hannah, was having a baby which made it difficult to travel. Lizzy Flake Rowan, who had also been kept in slavery with Biddy in San Bernardino but had since been set free, told Frank Dewitt, the sheriff of Los Angeles county, of Smith's plans (David W. Alexander was actually the sheriff of Los Angeles). He issued a writ of habeas corpus and sent a local posse, who caught up with Smith and took the slaves into protective custody.[6]

Bridget petitioned a Los Angeles court for her freedom. Smith claimed that Bridget was her family and she wanted to go to Texas.[7] He then bribed her lawyer to not show up.[4] She was not allowed to testify in court, since California law prohibited black people from testifying against white people. The judge presiding over the case, Benjamin Ignatius Hayes, interviewed Bridget and found she did not want to go to Texas and granted her freedom as a resident of a free state,[8] as well as the freedom of the other slaves held captive by Smith (Bridget's three daughters—Ellen, Ann, and Harriet—and ten other African-American women and children). In 1860, Mason received a certified copy of the document that guaranteed her freedom.[9]

Bridget had no legal last name as a slave. After emancipation, she chose to be known as Bridget Biddy Mason. Bridget's surname, Mason, came from the middle name of Amasa Lyman, who was the mayor of San Bernadino and a Mormon Apostle; the Lyman household being one with which Bridget had spent a considerable amount of time.

Los Angeles

After becoming free, she worked in Los Angeles as a nurse and midwife. One of her employers was the noted physician John Strother Griffin. Saving carefully, she was one of the first African Americans to purchase land in the city. As a businesswoman, she amassed a relatively large fortune of nearly $300,000, which she shared generously with charities. Mason also fed and sheltered the poor, and visited prisoners. She was instrumental in founding a traveler's aid center, and an elementary school for black children. Because of her kind and giving spirit, many called her "Auntie Mason" or "Grandma Mason."

In 1872, Mason was a founding member of First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles, the city's first black church. The organizing meetings were held in her home on Spring Street. She donated the land on which the church was built. This land is now the site of Biddy Mason Park, a Los Angeles city park and site of an art installation describing her life.[10][11]

Mason spoke fluent Spanish and was a well-known figure in the city. She dined on occasion at the home of Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California and a wealthy Los Angeles land owner.[12]

Death and posthumous honors

After Mason's death on January 15, 1891, she was buried in an unmarked grave in Evergreen Cemetery in the neighborhood now known as Boyle Heights. On March 27, 1988, in a ceremony attended by the mayor of Los Angeles and members of the church she founded, the grave was marked with a tombstone.[13]

Mason is an honoree in the California Social Work Hall of Distinction. She was also celebrated on Biddy Mason Day on November 16, 1989.[14] One of artist Sheila Levrant de Bretteville's best-known pieces is "Biddy Mason's Place: A Passage of Time,”[15] an 82-foot concrete wall with embedded objects in downtown Los Angeles (near where Mason lived) that tells the story of Mason's life.[16]


1. Hayden, Dolores (1995). The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. MIT Press. p. 274. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 1860 Census lists Mississippi, but 1870 and 1880 list Georgia as well as her LA Times obituary
2. "The Forgotten Pioneers". Part In Norma B. Ricketts, Crossroads, Vol. 8, No. 2 and 3 (Spring/Summer 1997).
3. "The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 17". p. 63. Most of those who take slaves there pass over with them in a little while to San Bernardino... How many slaves are now held there they could not say, but the number relatively was by no means small. A single person had taken between forty and fifty, and many had gone in with smaller numbers.
4. Camille Gavin (2007). Biddy Mason: A Place of Her Own. America Star Books.
5. Benjamin Hayes. "Mason v. Smith". none of the said persons of color can read and write, and are almost entirely ignorant of the laws of the state of California as well as those of the State of Texas, and of their rights
6. Delilah Leontium Beasley (1919). The Negro Trail Blazers of California: A Compilation of Records from the California Archives in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, in Berkeley; and from the Diaries, Old Papers, and Conversations of Old Pioneers in the State of California. Times Mirror printing and binding house. p. 90.
7. Honey M. Newton, CNM. Zion's Hope: Pioneer Midwives and Women Doctors in Utah.
8. Mason v. Smith. "The Bridget 'Biddy' Mason Case" (1856).
9. Reiter, Joan S. (1978), The Old West: The Women, p. 213. Time-Life Books.
10. "Biddy Mason Park - Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour". University of Southern California. 
11. "Biddy Mason Park - the city project". UCLA - Remapping-LA. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014. 
12. "African-Americans and the Early Pueblo of Los Angeles". City of Los Angeles. 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-04-04. 
13. Greenstein, Albert (1999). "Bridget "Biddy" Mason". The Historical Society of Southern California. Archived from the original on 3 March 2013. 
14. "From Slavery to Entrepreneur, Biddy Mason". African American Registry. Thursday, November 16, 1989 was declared Biddy Mason Day and a memorial of her achievements was unveiled at the Broadway Spring Center located between Spring Street and Broadway at Third Street in Los Angeles.
15. "Betye Saar, "Biddy Mason: A Passage of Time" and "Biddy Mason: House of the Open Hand"; Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, "Biddy Mason: Time and Place", Los Angeles". 
16. "Brooklyn Museum on Biddy Mason: Time and Place


Bolden, Tonya. (1996). The Book of African-American Women: 150 Crusaders, Creators, and Uplifters, Adams Media Corporation
Mungen, Donna. (1976). The Life and Times of Biddy Mason
Reiter, Joan S. (1978). The Old West: The Women. Time-Life Books.
Sherr, Lynn and Jurate Kazickas. (1994). Susan B. Anthony Slept Here. A Guide to American Women's Landmarks, Random House.
Sims, Oscar L. "Profile of Biddy Mason." (1993). Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference, Smith, Jessie Carney, ed. Visible Ink Press
Cohen, Hannah S. Harris, Gloria G. Women Trailblazers of California: Pioneers to the Present

Further reading

Hull, LeAnne von Neumeyer (24 March 2006), "Bridget Biddy Smith Mason: Her Legacy Among the Mormons," Black Voice News, Brown Publishing Company