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In Memoriam – October 2021

November 2nd, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

It was a strange month: The Reaper claimed nobody madly famous, but many of those who left us in October were of great interest, as the 12 write-ups testify. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like going through life knowing that you’ve played on, say, The Beatles’ Yesterday, but if you mention it in the pub, the barflies might call you a bullshitter (though I’m sure that this was no situation in which the admirable Kenneth Essex ever found himself in). I find that this is one of the satisfactions in doing this monthly series: to highlight not only the works of the well-known but also the contributions of the people whose names few who listen to the music take note of.

The Main Jay
The second, and longer-serving, Jay of The Americans has died. The first lead singer of Jay & The Americans was Jay Traynor, who died in 2014. When Traynor left in 1962, having enjoyed one Top 10 hit with the band, David Black of one-record doo wop act The Empires replaced him. Black (born David Blatt) changed his name to Jay Black, to keep the band’s name intact, seeing as it was given to them by the legendary Leiber and Stoller. With Black on lead vocals, the band recorded a string of hits in the 1960s, with Come A Little Bit Closer, Cara Mia, and This Magic Moment hitting the US Top 10 between 1964 and 1968.

Check out the featured song, Got Hung Up Along The Way, and tell me if it doesn’t sound like a Style Council song, some 16 years before Weller and Talbot recorded Café Bleu.

The Elvis Drummer
Drummer Ron Tutt left us on October 16 with an impressive curriculum vitae. On stage, the Dallas-born musician was on the drums behind Elvis Presley for nearly a decade, as a member of the TCB (Taking Care Of Business) Band, often getting a drum-solo slot at concerts. Of course, he was the drummer on the famous “Alloha From Hawaii” broadcast of an Elvis concert. He was also Neil Diamond’s chosen drummer, on tour and in the studio, and the same for Jerry Garcia after the TCB Band split after Elvis’ death.

He recorded with Billy Joel, Nancy Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Helen Reddy, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Rivers, Chi Coltrane, B.J. Thomas, Kenny Rogers, Gram Parsons, José Feliciano, Emmylou Harris, Carpenters, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Jerry Garcia, Stevie Nicks and Michael McDonald, and many others. Often he’d also provide backing vocals.

Big hits he played on include Presley’s Burning Love; Diamond’s Cracklin’ Rosie, Song Sung Blue, Sweet Caroline, I Am…I Said; and Billy Joel’s Piano Man.

The Wham! Bassist
A sought-after bassist who was taught by Motown legend James Jamerson, Deon Estus made his most significant contribution as the bass player on that spectacular run of great Wham! Between 19823 and 1986, and after that on George Michael’s first two solo albums. Born in Detroit, Estus had some success in the soul/disco band Brainstorm in the late 1970s, before going on tour with Marvin Gaye in the early 1980s. After that tour, he remained in London and soon joined up with unknowns George Michael and Andrew Ridgley. As a member of Wham!, he toured in China in 1985.

That year he also released his first solo record, a duet with Amii Stewart. In between session work, Estus released a few more solo records in the late 1980s, scoring a couple of hits, most notably Heaven Help Me in 1989, with George Michael on backing vocals.

The Irishman
With his group The Chieftains, which he co-founded in 1963 and led for almost six decades, Paddy Moloney helped bring Irish folk music to an international audience. It helped that the group played with many international artists, sometimes guesting and on one album a galaxy of stars guesting. Among these collaborations was a superb album credited to them with Van Morrison.

Moloney played the uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), the accordion, the tin or penny whistle, and the bodhrán, a flat Irish drum. He did session work for the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sting, Art Garfunkel, Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, Roger Waters, Gary Moore, Midge Ure, Herbie Hancock, Ry Cooder, and the recently late Nanci Griffith, among others. He also composed for films such as Braveheart, Gangs of New York, and Barry Lyndon.

Moloney’s death was a big deal in Ireland. Irish President Michael D. Higgins paid tribute: “Paddy, with his extraordinary skills as an instrumentalist, notably the uilleann pipes and bodhrán, was at the forefront of the renaissance of interest in Irish music, bringing a greater appreciation of Irish music and culture internationally.”

The Candy Man
British composer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse had a hand in writing many classic songs from film and musical, many with Anthony Newley: The Candy Man from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory; What Kind of Fool Am I? from Stop the World – I Want to Get Off; Le Jazz Hot from Victor/Victoria; If I Ruled The World from Pickwick;  Talk To The Animals from Doctor Dolittle; and the Bond film theme songs Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice, hits for Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra respectively. Younger (and some older) people might recognise his composition Christmas At Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

But not everybody was impressed with the songs of the multiple Oscar-nominee (and twice winner): In 1986, Bricusse was a nominee, with Henry Mancini, for the Raspberry Award for Worst Song. The offending number was Life In A Looking Glass, sung by Tony Bennett in the comedy That’s Life. It lost out to Prince (for Love Or Money). But the song was also Oscar-nominated — it lost to Berlin’s Take My Breath Away from Top Gun.

The Soul-Funk Man
One day in October I was planning the annual disco mix for late December. The next day, the Reaper claimed the co-writer of a few songs I’d be playing that evening. William Shelby, who died at 65, was the keyboardist and singer with the soul bands Dynasty and Lakeside, and he played on several albums by The Whispers, Shalamar, S.O.S. Band, Carrie Lucas, The Sylvers, Klymaxx, Atlantic Starr, and others.

As co-writer, Shelby co-write and played on hits such as The Whispers’ And The Beat Goes On and It’s A Love Thing, and Shalamar’s Make That Move, I Can Make You Feel Good, The Second Time Around and Friends.

The Beatles Violist
Unless you are the buffest of classical music buffs, the name of violist Kenneth Essex might mean little to you. But I can guarantee that you’ve heard him play. In June 1965, the English viola player, along with two violinists and a cellist, was called to the EMI studios at Abbey Road in London to play on a recording. It was so quick, the string quartet received only half-session pay. The song he played on was Yesterday. According to some obits, he also played on Hello Goodbye (violinist Sydney Sax from the Yesterday sessions also played on various Beatles songs). You might also have heard Essex play on the theme of the UK sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Though a classical musician, Essex also played on records by Cleo Laine, Harry Nilsson, Grace Slick, Freddie Cole, Everything But The Girl, Eartha Kitt, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and — bringing things a full circle — Paul McCartney on the Pipes Of Peace and Tug Of War albums (The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney, who died a day later, also played in the sessions for the latter album). Essex also played on the original soundtrack of The Phantom Of The Opera.

Earlier this year, before his 100th birthday, the World War II veteran raised funds by doing a series of walks. In 2019, just before his 100th, he raised 16,000 pounds by doing a 10km walk.

The Beatles Singer
The story is the stuff of Beatles legend: The band was recording the Lennon song Across The Universe on February 4, 1968, when it was decided that the track needed high-pitched female backing vocals. So Paul went outside the Abbey Road studio building to ask whether anyone in the group of fans camped outside, the so-called Beatles Scruffs, had suitable voices. Two of them volunteered and were invited to join the recordings: Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease. Their vocals featured on the original charity version of Across The Universe, but the teenagers’ voices were excised from the remixed Let It Be version.

Lizzie, a Brazilian au pair working in London in 1968, died of heart disease-related causes on October 4. Gayleen also died this year, on June 24.

The Glitterman
For many, it’s impossible to enjoy the music of convicted sex-offender Gary Glitter, much as it is difficult to hear the music of, say, R. Kelly without that bit of bile sitting in the throat. Alas, as the perp’s music is understandably cancelled, so is the work others created in support of his music. So it is, at least nominally, with his backing band, The Glitter Band, whose founder and trombonist/saxophonist Joe Rossall has died at 75. I say “nominally” because on the records, the only members who actually played were Rossall and Harvey Ellison, who died in 2017. The rest of the band backed Gary Glitter only on tour.

In 1974 The Glitter Band started releasing records of their own, also produced by Glitter’s svengali, Mike Leander. Between 1974-76 they enjoyed six UK Top 10 hits. Most of them didn’t involve Rossall, who had assembled the group to back Glitter but left the group on the last day of 1974. He launched a solo career with yielded a number of non-charting singles between 1975 and 1981.

By all accounts, Rossall had no time for Gary Glitter, certainly not after his former boss’ conviction.

The All-Rounder Composer
People living in the UK will have heard the compositions of Alan Hawkshaw, whose works include the themes of quiz show Countdown, school-soap Grange Hill (via his 1974 song Chicken Man), and the Channel 4 News. Before all that, Hawkshaw already had enjoyed a productive career. He was a member of early 1960s British R&B group Emile Ford and the Checkmates; backed a young David Bowie at the BBC sessions; played with The Shadows; arranged for Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard, Jane Birkin, and Serge Gainsbourg; played keyboards for Donna Summer; composed a song for Hank Marvin that was later sampled by Jay-Z (see the featured tune); and released a 1979 disco album under the moniker Bizarre, having also arranged the disco hit Here Comes That Sound Again for Love De-Luxe.

The Murdered Rapper
The execution-style murder of 19-year-old Swedish rapper Einár, son of a well-known actress, attracted so much publicity that even the prime minister commented. At the 2020 Grammis awards — Sweden’s version of the Grammys — Einár won the “Newcomer of the Year” and “Hiphop of the Year” awards. Shortly after that, he was kidnapped by rival rapper Yasin and his criminal gang. Yasin and another rapper were jailed in July for the crime. Einár received death threats and was using a protected identity. He was scheduled to testify in another trial at the end of the month. It didn’t come to this: on October 21 he was found dead, shot execution style.

The Cover Boy
On October 7, the Dexys Midnight Runners announced on their Facebook page that the lad on the cover of their 1980 debut LP Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, Anthony O’Shaughnessy, had died. Normally I’d not include people on record covers in the In Memoriams, but Anthony commented a few times on this blog 12 years ago, when I wrote about that album cover. Read the story of the cover and Anthony’s comments.

Finally, something for the Spooky Corner: an R&B singer going by the name of Emani 22 died in an accident on October 14… at the age of 22! Nominative determinism at its most lethal.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Robin Morton, 81, Irish folk musician, producer, label owner, broadcaster, on Oct. 1
The Boys of the Lough – Farewell To Whisky (1973)

Ewert Ljusberg, 76, Swedish musician and activist, on Oct. 1

Sebastião Tapajós, 78, Brazilian guitarist and composer, on Oct. 2
Sebastião Tapajos & Pedro dos Santos – Ganga (1972)

John Rossall, 75, trombonist/saxophonist of The Glitter Band, on Oct. 2
The Glitter Band – Goodbye My Love (1974)
John Rossall – Beautiful Monday Morning (1981)

Anoman Brouh Felix, 86, Ivorian guitarist, bassist, percussionist, on Oct. 3
Anoman Brouh Félix – Chinché (1977)

Lizzie Bravo, 70, Brazilian backing singer on Across The Universe, on Oct. 4
The Beatles – Across The Universe (1968)

Hobo Jim, 68, American folk singer-songwriter, on Oct. 4
Alaska’s Hobo Jim – The Beauty Of You (1984)

Pat Fish, 64, leader of UK Indie band The Jazz Butcher, on Oct. 4
The Jazz Butcher – The Human Jungle (1985)

Anthony O’Shaughnessy, LP cover star, announced on Oct. 7
Dexys Midnight Runners – There There My Dear (1980, as cover star)

Everett Morton, 71, drummer & percussionist of UK ska band The Beast, on Oct. 8
The Beat – Hands Off-She’s Mine (1980)

Petru Guelfucci, 66, French-Corsican singer, on Oct. 8

Jem Targal, 74, bassist, singer and songwriter with psych-rock band Third Power, on Oct. 8
3rd Power – We, You, I (1968, also as co-writer)

Jim Pembroke, 75, English-born singer of Finnish rock group Wigwam, on Oct. 9
Wigwam – Wishful Thinker (1970, also as writer)

Dee Pop, 65, drummer of new wave band Bush Tetras, on Oct. 9
Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps (1980)

Shawn McLemore, 54, gospel singer, on Oct. 9

Deon Estus, 65, bassist (Wham!) and singer, on Oct. 11
Brainstorm – Lovin’ Is Really My Game (1977, as member)
Wham! – Everything She Wants (1984, on bass)
Amii Stewart & Deon Estus – My Guy, My Girl (1985)
Deon Estus – Heaven Help Me (1989)

Kenneth Essex, 101, British violist, on Oct. 11
The Beatles – Yesterday (1965, on viola)
Dennis Wilson – Fawlty Towers Theme (1975, on viola)
Everything But The Girl – Come On Home (1986, on viola)

Paddy Moloney, 83, co-founder of Irish folk group The Chieftains, on Oct. 12
The Chieftains – Away We Go Again (1977)
Paul McCartney – Rainclouds (1982, on pipes)
Nanci Griffith – On Grafton Street (1994, on tin whistle)
The Chieftains feat. Mick Jagger – The Long Black Veil (1995)

Andrea Haugen, 52, German singer of UK metal band Cradle of Filth (1993-94), on Oct. 13

Emani 22, 22, R&B singer, on Oct. 14
Emani 22 – Better Days (2019)

Tom Morey, 86, drummer & ukulele player; surfing engineer, on Oct. 14

Regi Hargis, 70, bassist and guitarist with jazz-funk band Brick, on Oct. 15
Brick – Dazz (1976)

Willie Garnett, 85, British jazz and rock saxophonist, on Oct. 15
The Charlie Watts Orchestra – Stomping At The Savoy (1986, on alto sax)

Ron Tutt, 83, session drummer, on Oct. 16
Neil Diamond – Holly Holy (1969, on drums)
Elvis Presley – Burning Love (1972, on drums)
Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973, on drums)
Emmylou Harris – Boulder To Birmingham (1975, on drums)

Tom Gray, 70, blues-rock slide guitarist, singer, songwriter, on Oct. 16
Delta Moon – Money Changes Everything (1978, as member and songwriter)

Alan Hawkshaw, 84, keyboardist, guitarist, arranger, TV composer, on Oct. 16
Alan Hawkshaw – Chicken Man (1974, also as writer)
Olivia Newton-John – I Honestly Love You (1974, as arranger and co-producer)
The Hank Marvin Guitar Syndicate – New Earth Part 1&2 (1977, as composer)
Love De-Luxe – Here Comes That Sound Again (1979, as writer, producer, arranger, keyboardist)

Franco Cerri, 95, Italian jazz guitarist, on Oct. 18

Lloyd ‘Gitsy’ Willis, 73, Jamaican reggae guitarist, songwriter, producer, on Oct. 18
Chaka Demus & Pliers – Tease Me (1993, on guitar)

Ralph Carmichael, 94, pop and gospel composer and arranger, on Oct. 18
Nat ‘King’ Cole – L.O.V.E (1965, as arranger)

Leslie Bricusse, 90, British film and musical composer, on Oct. 19
Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger (1964, as co-writer)
Sammy Davis Jr – The Candy Man (1972, as co-writer)
Julie Andrews – Le Jazz Hot (1982, as co-writer)

Antonio Coggio, 82, Italian composer, arranger and producer, on Oct. 19
Claudio Baglioni – Questo piccolo grande amore (1972, as co-writer and producer)

Allan Wilmot, 96, Jamaican-born singer with The Southlanders, announced Oct. 21
The Southlanders – The Mole In A Hole (1958, as member and bass singer)

Robin McNamara, 74, singer-songwriter and musician, announced Oct. 21
Robin McNamara – Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me (1970, also as co-writer)

Sergei Krinitsin, 65, drummer of pioneering Russian rock band Autograph, on Oct. 21

Tommy DeBarge, 64, bassist and singer with soul-funk band Switch, on Oct. 21
Switch – I Call Your Name (1979)

Einár, 19, Swedish rapper, in witness-execution on Oct. 21

Jay Black, 82, singer of Jay and the Americans, on Oct. 22
The Empires – Time And A Place (1962, on lead vocals and co-writer)
Jay & the Americans – Come A Little Bit Closer (1964)
Jay & The Americans – Got Hung Up Along The Way (1967)

Sonny Osborne, 83, bluegrass banjo player with the Osborne Brothers, on Oct. 24
The Osborne Brothers – Rocky Top (1967)

Ginny Mancini, 97, jazz singer, widow of Henry Mancini, on Oct. 25

Willie Cobbs, 89, blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player, on Oct. 25
Willie Cobbs – You Don’t Love Me (1960)

Walter Herbert/Sy Klopps, 73, singer, guitarist, manager (Santana, Journey, Roxette), on Oct. 26
Sy Klopps Blues Band – Pretty Women (1995)

Rose Lee Maphis, 98, country singer, on Oct. 26
Joe and Rose Lee Maphis – Remember (I’m Just As Close As The Phone) (1964)

Gay McIntyre, 88, Irish jazz musician, on Oct. 26

Russell Hardy, 80, pianist and songwriter, announced on Oct. 27
Ian Dury & The Blockheads – There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards (1979, as co-writer)

Benjamin Vallé, 47, ex-guitarist of Swedish indie-rock band Viagra Boys, on Oct. 27

William Shelby, 65, soul-funk keyboardist, singer, songwriter, on Oct. 27
Dynasty – I’ve Just Begun To Love You (1980, as member, co-lead singer, keyboards, co-writer)
The Whispers – And The Beat Goes On (1980, as co-writer and on keyboards)
Shalamar – The Second Time Around (1980, as co-writer and on keyboards)

Jorge Cumbo, 78, Argentine quena (Andean flute) player, on Oct. 28
Jorge Cumbo – Entre la Tierra y el Cielo (1977)

Raymond Guy LeBlanc, 76, Canadian musician and poet, on Oct. 29

Fan Tsai, 26, drummer of Taiwanese indie band No Party for Cao Dong, on Oct. 30
No Party For Cao Dong – Simon Says (2016)

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  1. amdwhah
    November 5th, 2021 at 10:33 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Rhodb
    November 6th, 2021 at 21:53 | #2

    The continued great work in collating this series is sensational .

    Regards

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