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In Memoriam – December 2011

January 5th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

December”s headline death probably is that of the great Cesária Évora, who emerged from the tiny West African island of Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony.

But as a soul fan, percussion maestro Ralph MacDonald is my headline departure of the month. He wrote some stone-cold classics and appeared on an impressive catalogue of soul and fusion albums, including those released in their heyday by Bill Withers, George Benson, Donny Hathaway, Ashford & Simpson, Brothers Johnson, Margie Joseph, Patti Austin, Grover Washington, Maynard Ferguson, The Crusaders, Michael Franks,  Eric Gale, Bob James,  Herbie Mann, Earl Klugh, and Sadao Watanabe, as well as on pop albums by the likes of Billy Joel (The Stranger, 52nd Street, Innocent Man) and Paul Simon (Still Crazy”¦, One Trick Pony, Graceland).

The Ragovoy curse struck again. First the great songwriter died in July; then his occasional collaborator Jimmy Norman, with whom he wrote Time Is On My Side, died in November; in December singer Howard Tate, for whom Ragovoy wrote and produced several songs (including Get It While You Can, which Janis Joplin later covered, and 8 Days On The Road) passed away at 72.

Three of the world”s longest-performing artists died in December: Myra Taylor first took to the stage as a 14-year-old in 1931; she made her final performance in a career spanning 70 years on 24 July this year. Fans of The Originals will appreciate the first recording of the great Ink Spots hit I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire, which featured Myra Taylor on vocals (originals fans will also enjoy Ruby and the Romantics” Our Day Will Come, covered by Amy Winehouse on her new posthumous album) .

Johannes Heesters, who died at 108, had been a huge star in Nazi Germany and counted Nazi leaders among his friends ““ a stigma that followed him to his death. Hated in his native Holland, he was still hugely popular in West Germany.  He still toured as a centenarian, and performed to the age of 105.

Bill Tapia, dead at 103, was a ukulele maestro. Check out his version of Stars and Stripes Forever, from just two years ago, which he introduces as having played during World War I ““ the audience laughs, but the guy isn”t joking. He has been performing since 1918.

Among the more bizarre deaths is that of Willie Nelson”s drummer Dan Spears, who fell outside his house and, unable to move, froze to death.

Sadly, this will be the final monthly In Memoriam. Compiling each instalment simply takes up much more time than I can afford to spend, so this is a decision I had to make ““ with much regret, because I don”t think anyone is doing it quite this way on the Internet.

 Michal “˜Michal the Girl” Friedman, singer, from complication during the birth of twins on November 25
ATB ““ The Autumn Leaves (2004)

Howard Tate, 72, soul singer, on December 2
Howard Tate – 8 Days On The Road (1971)

Bill Tapia, 103, legendary ukulele player, on December 2
Bill Tapia – Stars And Stripes

Ronald Mosley, 72, baritone and guitarist with Ruby & the Romantics, on December 3
Ruby and the Romantics – Our Day Will Come (1963)

Hubert Sumlin, 80, legendary blues guitarist (with Howlin” Wolf), on December 4
Howlin’ Wolf – The Red Rooster (1962, as guitarist)
Hubert Sumlin – Down In The Bottom (1987)
R.J. Rosales, 37, Filipino-born Australian singer and actor, on December 4

Violetta Villas, 73, Belgian-born Polish diva, on December 5
Violetta Villas – Przyjdzie Na To Czas (1964)

Dobie Gray, 71, soul singer (Drift Away, The In-Crowd), on December 6
Dobie Gray – River Deep, Mountain High (1973)

Bob Burnett, 71, member of “60s folk group The Highwaymen, on December 7
The Highwaymen – Universal Soldier (1964)

Dan “˜Bee” Spears, 62, long-time bassist for Willie Nelson, on December 8
Willie Nelson – Remember Me (1975, as bassist)
Dick Sims, 60, keyboard player for Eric Clapton, Bob Seger a.o., on December 8
Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (1977, as keyboardist)

Alan Styles, Pink Floyd roadie and subject of Alan”s Psychedelic Breakfast, on December 8
Pink Floyd – Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast (1970)

Myra Taylor, 94, jazz singer and actress, on December 9
Harlan Leonard and his Rockets – I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire (1940, as vocalist)

Dustin Hengst, drummer of pop-punk band Damone, on December 9

Karryl “˜Special One” Smith, member of hip hop duo The Conscious Daughters, on December 10
The Conscious Daughters – Somthin’ To Ride To (Fonky Expidition) (1993)
Billie Jo Spears, 74, country singer, on December 14
Billie Jo Spears – Blanket On The Ground (1975)

Bob Brookmeyer, 81, jazz trombonist, on December 16
Lalo Schifrin & Bob Brookmeyer – Samba Para Dos (1963)

Slim Dunkin, 24, rapper with 1017 Brick Squad, shot dead on December 16

Cesária Évora, 70, Cape Verdean singer, on December 17
Cesária Évora – Nho Antone Escade (1999)
Cesária Évora – Cabo Verde Terra Estimada (1988)

Sean Bonniwell, 71, American guitarist and singer of “60s rock band Music Machine, on December 17
Ralph MacDonald, 67, percussionist, songwriter and producer, on December 18
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway ““ Where Is The Love (1972, as songwriter)
Grover Washington Jr with Bill Withers ““ Just The Two Of Us (1980, as songwriter)
Billy Joel ““ Rosalinda”s Eyes (1978, as percussionist)

Johnny Silvo, 75, folk singer and children”s TV presenter, on December 18

Clem DeRosa, 86, jazz drummer, arranger, bandleader and music educator, on December 20

David Gold, 31, singer and guitarist of Canadian death-metal band Woods of Ypres, on December 22
Johannes Heesters, 108, Dutch-born actor and singer, on December 24
Johannes Heesters – Ich werde jede Nacht von Ihnen träumen (1937)

Jody Rainwater, 92, bluegrass musician (with the Foggy Mountain Boys) and radio DJ, on December 24

Jim “˜Motorhead” Sherwood, 69, saxophone player for Frank Zappa”s Mothers of Invention, on December 25
Frank Zappa ““ Conehead

Sam Rivers, 88, jazz musician and composer, on December 26
Sam Rivers – Verve (1980)

Barbara Lea, 82, jazz singer and actress, on December 26
Betty McQuade, 70, Australian singer, on December 26
Betty McQuade – Blue Train

Dan Terry, 87, American jazz trumpeter and big band leader, on December 27

Kaye Stevens, 79, singer and actress (frequent guest of the Rat Pack), on December 28

Christine Rosholt, 46, jazz singer, on December 28

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  1. Rhod
    January 5th, 2012 at 11:02 | #1

    Thanks once again for the In Memoriam series. I see Betty McQuade is included Betty was one of the early Aussie rock pioneers.

    regards

    Rhod

  2. The Rumblecat
    January 5th, 2012 at 13:20 | #2

    I wonder why I am the first one to be openly sorry, and I hope I’m not the only one. Don’t get me wrong, you really do a good job in general and you put a load of love in your work. But in my opinion it was “In Memoriam” which made AMDWHAH a must-read.

    There a a few websites that report celeb deaths, but none of those come close to what you created. I really liked the way of your presentation. First of all: to choose not only the usual suspects, but a wide array of music people we should have known better. Then: Not just a mere name, profession and dates of birth and death – your short but exact descriptions of even rather unknown people often expanded my horizons. And all those samples were the creme of the crop and brought them all back alive for a moment. Fine job!

    Of course I will stick with AMDWHAH – but “In Memoriam” will be sadly missed. The web might be world wide, but that’s the way with unique things: Something almost similar will be impossible to find.

    Gut gemacht! Dankeschön,
    The Katzz

  3. halfhearteddude
    January 5th, 2012 at 14:54 | #3

    Thanks for the nice words, Rumblecat. And all that was just so time-consuming that I had to drop it. I really regret it, and I think I’ll miss paying tribute to the unknown and forgotten in particular…

  4. J. Loslo
    January 5th, 2012 at 15:25 | #4

    Thanks for doing these. Your efforts are appreciated.

  5. Douglas
    January 5th, 2012 at 15:30 | #5

    Dude, I wholeheartedly agree with Rumblecat. I understand and respect your decision but just so you know, In Memoriam will be greatly missed.

  6. January 5th, 2012 at 16:00 | #6

    I’ve always loved your blog, especially In Memoriam. It will be missed and I thank you for doing it as long as you have. I understand your decision to stop. I have a blog myself and I know how hard it is sometimes to keep it going on a regular basis. Thanks again and I’ll keep reading the rest of your blog.

  7. Don
    January 6th, 2012 at 01:51 | #7

    I can’t express it any better than Rumblecat, but I will also miss ‘In Memoriam’. I understand the pressure and time constraints of keeping a blog going and if dropping this will help you keep everything else on track then it is a worthy loss. It’s disappointing to see it go but losing the whole blog would be far worse. Hope your readership doubles this year.

  8. January 6th, 2012 at 16:32 | #8

    Yes, I’ll really miss this feature too – thanks for keeping it up so long. I didn’t know about Billie Jo-Spears by the way, who I always remember as being lead act when my hometown team Lincoln City tried to raise cash by staging a C&W festival in their Sincil Bank stadium in the summer of 1982. It rained. A lot. And only 1000 people came and they made a huge loss at a time when the club badly needed money, and they ended up having to sell their ground that year to the local council to save the team. Maybe she made a provision to recompense the club in her will. Though I very much doubt it.

  9. HW
    January 6th, 2012 at 18:08 | #9

    Didn’t know about Dobie Gray. Loving Arms has been on repeat play of late – damn, talk about a stone cold classic.

  10. Trod
    January 7th, 2012 at 19:56 | #10

    Thanks for all the previous In Memoriam posts. They were a bittersweet end to each month.

  11. Jen.S
    January 8th, 2012 at 05:03 | #11

    I’ll echo all of the other comments here. I bet it was time consuming, but I will miss these Memoriam posts. I appreciate all of the work you put into them. I learned a lot, and many times this was the only way I knew someone had passed away.

  12. wi
    January 9th, 2012 at 06:49 | #12

    IM will certainly be missed. Thank you for doing it for so long.

  13. January 26th, 2012 at 22:18 | #13

    Thanks for all your work on these. I’m going to miss them (even if I didn’t get to them right away).

  14. halfhearteddude
    January 27th, 2012 at 13:07 | #14

    Well, the good news is that the feedback has persuaded me to carry on in some way; probably just listing and adding less music; but no more picture galleries.

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