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In Memoriam – July 2014

August 4th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

In Memoriam - July 2014When The Ramones were inducted into the Hall of Fame, drummer Marky Ramone paid tribute to his predecessor Tommy Ramone for inventing the drumming style which Marky had to keep up with.

Tommy, who was born Thomas Erdelyi to Hungarian Holocaust survivors and died on July 11, was supposed to be the band”s manager. But when it turned out that Dee Dee couldn”t play bass and sing at the same time, Joey was moved from the drums to the mic, and Tommy, who couldn”t even play the drums, took up the sticks. It was a master stroke: Joey was a natural frontman, Dee Dee looked cool with his mouth shut, and Tommy”s machine-gun drumming drove a sound which inspired the punk movement, even in England where The Clash sought to emulate the guys from Queens.

Most musicians who feature in this series have been retired from recording music, or otherwise have faded from public view. Not so blues-rock legend Johnny Winter, who died in a hotel room in Switzerland while on tour in Europe. He had just recorded an album, Step Back, with people like Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons and Joe Perry guest-starring (it will be released in September), and was about to tour the US. Winter, who shared the trademark long blonde mane with his keyboardist brother Edgar, was rated highly as a guitar-great. He also produced a trio of Grammy-winning albums for Muddy Waters, the commercial peak for the blues legend.

Times were when a 16-year-old session drummer could be involved in making a stone cold rock & roll classic. So it as with drummer Idris Muhammad, who as a teenager named Leo Morris drummed on Fats Domino”s megahit “Blueberry Hill”. He subsequently became an acclaimed jazz drummer, beating the skins for the likes of (deep breath) Ahmad Jamal, Gene Ammons, Nat Adderley, George Benson, Pharaoh Sanders, Shirley Scott, Lonnie Smith, Charles Earland, Lou Donaldson, Gábor Szabó, Horace Silver, Stanley Turrentine, Paul Desmond, Houston Person, Freddie Hubbard and many others, as well as releasing 13 albums himself. He converted to Islam in the 1960s.

Cafe Wha?

Café Wah? in Manhattan in the 1960s. It’s still going today.

Normally a nightclub owner would not make the cut for this series, but Manny Roth (David Lee Roth”s uncle) merits an exception to the rule as the owner of the long-running Café Wha? Nightclub at 115 Macdougal Street in Manhattan, which provided a stage for unknowns such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, The Velvet Underground, Kool and the Gang, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.

Last year we lost George Jones; now his long-time sideman George Riddle has departed at the age of 78. Riddle was the founder of the country legend”s backing band, The Jones Boys, but often it was just Jones and Riddle on stage. Riddle was a fixture on the country circuit: as a musician and songwriter (he wrote 13 hits for Jones), as a regular on the Grand Ole Opry, and as a trusted companion “” he was in the car with the Louvain Brothers when they decided to break up. One of two songs in tribute to Riddle anticipates the mix I”ll post on Thursday.

Until this month, there lived a man in New Orleans who had played with Mamie Smith. Lionel Ferbos died on July 19, two days after his 103rd birthday. Ferbos didn”t record much, but was an active part of the New Orleans jazz and history scene for most of his long life. As things stand right now and as far as I can ascertain, only two other centenarians would qualify for inclusion in this series when their day comes: gospel singer Elder Roma Wilson, who is 103, and French chanteuse Léo Marjane, 101. It seems the oldest music person alive is British classical composer Roy Douglas, who is 106.


Betty Cody, 92, country singer, on July 1
Hank Snow & Betty Cody – It’s You Only You That I Love (1953)

Nick Charles, blues bassist and saxophonist, on July 1
Eddie Burns – Snake Eyes (2002, on bass)

Kathy Stobart, 89, British jazz saxophonist, on July 5

Castro, 32, Ghanaian musician, drowned on July 6
Castro feat. Kofi Kinaata & Asamoah Gyan – Odo Pa (2013)

Lois Johnson, 72, country singer, on July 7
Lois Johnson – From Warm To Cool To Cold (1971)

Ken Thorne, 90, British film score composer (Help!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), on July 9

John Spinks, 60, guitarist and singer of British pop band The Outfield, on July 9
The Outfield – Your Love (1985)

Chris Grier, member of avant garde ensemble To Live and Shave in L.A., on July 10

Tommy Ramone, 65, original drummer of the Ramones and producer, on July 11
Ramones -  I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (1976, also as writer)
Ramones – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (1977)
Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated (1978, as producer)

Charlie Haden, 76, jazz bassist and bandleader, On July 11
Charlie Haden – At The End Of The World (2002)

Vange Leonel, 51, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on July 14

Johnny Winter, 70, blues guitarist and singer, producer, on July 16
Johnny Winter – Rock Me Baby (1973)
Muddy Waters – 33 Years (1978, as producer)
Johnny Winter – White Line Blues (1992)

Lionel Ferbos, 103, jazz trumpeter, on July 19

George Riddle, 78, country musician and songwriter, on July 20
Melba Montgomery – Hall Of Shame (1963, as songwriter)
George Riddle – Lonesome Vietnam

Manfred Sexauer, 83, presenter of German music shows Beat Club and Musikladen, on July 20
Mood-Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (1966, theme of Beat Club and Musikladen)

Gene Walker, 76, jazz and rock saxophonist, on July 21
Gene Walker and his Combo – Empire City (1963)

Saado Ali Warsame, Somali singer-songwriter and politician, assassinated on July 23

Christian Falk, 52, singer and bassist of Swedish punk band Imperiet, announced on July 24

Idris Muhammad, 74, jazz drummer, on July 29
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956, on drums)
Lou Donaldson – Dapper Dan (1968, on drums)
Idris Muhammad – Hard To Face The Music (1976)

Dick Wagner, 71, guitarist with Ursa Major, sideman for Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, on July 30
Ursa Major – In My Darkest Hour (1972)
Alice Cooper – Only Women Bleed (1975, on guitar and as co-writer)

Manny Roth, 95, owner of the Cafe Wha? Nightclub, on July 30

(PW in comments)


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  1. halfhearteddude
    August 4th, 2014 at 06:58 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. andy
    August 4th, 2014 at 11:19 | #2

    Uhhh. The Ramones meant a lot to me. Of course I’d heard about Tommy’s death and how he was the last original member. But I didn’t dwell on it. Then I saw that blank album cover and it all sank in. Yet Bobby Vinton still lives.

  3. halfhearteddude
    August 4th, 2014 at 14:48 | #3

    Yes, it’s a stark graphic, isn’t it? I saw the Ramones live three times, though by then Marky was on drums. I thought Joey was the coolest cat going.

  4. dogbreath
    August 4th, 2014 at 15:40 | #4

    Learned of Johnny Winter’s death while on vacation & previously had been listening to stuff from his then current European tour. His classic rock 70’s albums were seldom off my playlists from their release right up to date & he’ll be sadly missed by both the blues & rock fraternities. Cheers for another nice job in collating the passings of the recently departed.

  5. Clarence
    August 4th, 2014 at 21:49 | #5

    The only blog casting a wide enough net to include Charlie Haden & Tommy Ramone. Thank you.

  6. Emil
    August 6th, 2014 at 12:20 | #6

    Hi Halfhearted! Tks a lot for the re-up of Covered with Soul 1, 2 + 10, but also for In Memoriam and many other things.

  7. Rhod
    August 9th, 2014 at 05:26 | #7

    Thanks Amd

    Another sad loss, guitar great Johnny Winter. I am the same as dogbreath The second winter was never far from my turntable.



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