Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - 20

IN MEMORIAM
Peter
"Mars"
Cowling

Deborah Coleman

Randy Scruggs

DEBORAH
COLEMAN

PETER "MARS"
COWLING

Blues guitarist Deborah
Coleman died April 12
after contracting pneumonia. She was 61.
Coleman became interested in the blues after seeing
Muddy Waters and Howlin'
Wolf at a blues festival in the
'70s. In 1995, she recorded the
first of eight solo albums, and
through the course of her career was nominated for a W.C.
Handy Blues Music Award
nine times. In '01, she won
the Orville Gibson Award for
Best Female Blues Guitarist.
In 1999, Coleman played
with Double Trouble's Tommy
Shannon and Chris Layton at
the Heart and Soul Festival, in
Minneapolis, and was featured
at the San Francisco Blues
Festival. In '01 she played
to a crowd of 60,000 at the
Chicago Blues Festival.
Coleman's most-recognized
tones were a Telecaster or
Les Paul plugged into a Tube
Screamer and Fender Twin
Reverb. Long-time co-guitarist
Billy Crawford, who played
with Coleman during her most
productive period, recalled her
greatest asset was an ability
to connect with an audience.
"When she walked onstage,
she didn't have to play a note
or sing a word; she just flashed
that smile and the place would
go nuts." - Bob Cianci

Rock bassist Peter "Mars"
Cowling, renowned for his
playing with the Pat Travers
Band, died March 20. He was
72 and had been diagnosed
with leukemia in February.
Cowling was born in
England and in 1962 helped
form the Grimsby-based
band The Syndicate, which
played covers of blues, pop,
and contemporary R&B.
He was involved with two
other bands before joining
Travers in '75; the Canadian guitarist had moved to
England that year to play to
audiences more receptive to
his blues-rock style before
returning to North America
after the punk movement
enveloped the British scene.
Cowling's first stint with
Travers saw them record
eight albums prior to his
departure in 1982, including
Makin' Magic and Putting It
Straight, his playing providing a punchy groove for
Travers and co-guitarist Pat
Thrall on songs like "Boom
Boom (Out Go the Lights)"
and "Snortin' Whiskey."
"He had that energetic,
pulsating kind of thing and
would come up with these
counterpoint parts where
there's a whole other song
going on underneath,"
Travers said in a 2015

VINTAGE GUITAR

20

interview with Vintage
Guitar. "It was amazing."
After leaving Travers,
Cowling joined the poprock act Gypsy Queen and
was with the band when
it performed at the Reading Rock Festival in '87. In
'89, he returned to Travers
and stayed aboard until
'93. - Ward Meeker

RANDY SCRUGGS
Randy Lynn Scruggs,
session guitarist, singer,
songwriter, producer, and
four-time Grammy winner, died April 17 after a
brief illness. He was 64.
One of three sons of Earl
Scruggs, he inspired the title
of Earl's famous 1955 banjo
instrumental "Randy Lynn
Rag." Learning autoharp at
age six, Randy later gravitated
to guitar, inspired by Earl,
whose delicate fingerstyle
playing graced many records of the iconic Flatt and
Scruggs pairing. Further
inspiration came from
his occasional babysitter,
country-guitar fountainhead
Maybelle Carter, of the Carter
Family; Randy mastered both
fingerpicking and flatpicking.
When Flatt and Scruggs
dissolved in 1969 due
to Flatt's traditionalism
clashing with Scruggs'
more-progressive musical ideas, Earl formed the

July 2018

Earl Scruggs Revue. Core
members were oldest son,
Gary, on bass and vocals,
Randy, and youngest son
Steve, playing drums, joined
by fiddler Vassar Clements
and Dobroist Josh Graves.
Blending bluegrass, country, jazz, blues and country
rock, they toured and
recorded until '82. Randy's
early Nashville session
work on guitar included the
historic 1971 Will The Circle
Be Unbroken sessions with
Earl, the Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band, Maybelle Carter, Roy
Acuff, Jimmy Martin, Merle
Travis, and other legends.
Randy later produced Circle
2, the Grammy-winning
'89 followup. He also
played guitar on Waylon
Jennings' landmark 1973
album, Honky Tonk Heroes.
In 1980, Scruggs opened
his own Nashville studio,
continued to play sessions
with mainstream and traditional acts, and produced
artists ranging from Allison
Krauss and Waylon Jennings
to Bobby Bare and the New
Grass Revival. His only
solo album, 1998's Crown of
Jewels, blended traditional
and folk accompanied by
an all-star lineup including
Earl, Marty Stuart, Roger
McGuinn, and others. He
continued doing sessions in
the past year. - Rich Kienzle


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