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In Memoriam – May 2022

 

The month of May was mercifully less brutal than April, but its music deaths gave us a few good stories, such as those of Régine, the singing inventor of discotheques, Dylan sidekick Bob Neuwirth, or Ronnie Hawkins, who first brought The Band together. Hawkins also connects with Neuwirth through Dylan, and with the Yes drummer Alan White, who also died in May, through John Lennon.

In the comments to last month’s In Memoriam, a reader issued generous praise about this series, but was puzzled as to the omission of two important Benelux artists, from the write-ups. I can understand his point. Here’s the thing, though: In April, there was an excess of significant musicians, or those with particularly interesting backstories, or those whose music has meant something special to me. I check every death for significance and/or stories to tell. Each narrative takes a good while to research and write (and to edit; sometimes I need to shorten them). But at some points I have to draw a line at the amount of work I can do on this series due to the time it demands of me – after all, I do this for no payment (other, perhaps, than the occasional coffees some readers buy me) and have work and family commitments to account for. In April there were 13 entries, which is an absurd amount of work. This month, there are “only” eight, which is still a heap of work. Any other month, depending on my time available, I might well have included Arno Hintjens or Henny Vrienten. And still, there are a few artists whom I would have liked to feature this month — for example Cathal Coughlan of Microdisney or Rick Price of The Move or R&B singer Jewell or Bernard Wright or Norm Dolph — but due to travel, work commitments and an inconvenient bout of illness, I just lacked the time. Sometimes these things are just a roll of the dice…

The Composer
Few prog-rock starts go on to become composers of at least two of the greatest pieces of movie music. But so it was with Vangelis, who wrote the magnificent score for 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) and the Oscar-winning theme of Chariots Of Fire (1981). He also composed the scores for films such as Blade Runner (1982), Missing (1982), Antarctica (1983) and The Bounty (1984).

All the while, he also created prog-rock albums with Jon Anderson, lead singer of Yes, as Jon & Vangelis. That recalled his initial breakthrough, when Vangelis — initially still credited by his proper name, Evángelos Papathanassíou was part of Greek proto prog band Aphrodite’s Child, along with a pre-moms’-favourite Demis Roussos. Vangelis was the band’s keyboardist, flautist and songwriter. Aphrodite’s Child had a string of hits in Europe in the late 1960s and are regarded as influential on prog-rock — Jon Anderson was a fan before he became a prog-rock legend himself — and as pioneers of the concept album.

Vangelis also composed the official anthem of the 2002 football World Cup, and over the past two decades collaborated with NASA and the European Space Agency on symphonic music projects, the last part of which was released just last year.

The Unlikely Pop Legend
It seemed unlikely that of all Depeche Mode members, Andy Fletcher would be the first to go. He also was the one who looked least like a pop legend. “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist… and I bum around,” he once said. But he did more than bum around. By all accounts, he was the glue that held Depeche Mode together, and the business brains of the operation. And he knew that, too. In 2013, he described himself as “the tall guy in the background without whom this international corporation called Depeche Mode would never work”.

The Discotheque Inventor
As the month began, the eventful life of French entertainer Régine ended at the age of 92. Born in Belgium in 1929 as Rachelle Zylberberg to Jewish parents, Régine was saved from the Holocaust when she was given shelter in a convent. After the war, she moved to Paris were in the 1950s she effectively invented the discotheque by replacing the old jukeboxes with dedicated disc jockeys working turntables at the Whisky à Gogo. By 1957, she opened the first of her many discotheques around the world (including New York’s famous Régine’s). At one point she owned 22 discos at the same time.

By then she had also made a name for herself as a chanteuse and songwriter who influenced many singers of her generation. Her recording career spanned half a century, from 1959 top 2009.

The Yes Drummer
It was sad month for Jon Anderson: first his collaborator Vangelis died, then long-time Yes drummer Alan White departed from this mortal coil. White replaced original Yes drummer Bill Bruford in 1972, and never left the band for the next 50 years.

Before joining Yes, White made a name for himself as a drummer for the Plastic Ono Band, appearing at the legendary Toronto concert that gave rise to a live album, and on Lennon’s Imagine album. He also swung the sticks to magnificent effect on Lennon’s hit Instant Karma. White also played for George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, and for acts like The Alan Price Set, Joe Cocker, Gary Wright, Donovan, Suzi Quatro and others.

The Dylan Sidekick
In the history of Bob Dylan, folk singer-songwriter Bob Neuwirth, who has died at 82, will be remembered as a one-time best friend, road manager, enforcer and loyal sidekick. He was there when Dylan went electric at Newport and on the UK tour with the “Judas” moment. On the cover of Highway 61 Revisited, we see the lower half of Neuwirth, wearing an orange-and-white striped top and holding a camera. On the video of Subterranean Homesick Blues (the one with the cue cards), the just off-screen Neuwirth has an animated conversation with Allen Ginsberg. After Dylan’s motorbike accident in 1966, Neuwirth receded from the hub of Dylan’s world, but returned a decade later for the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

By then he had introduced Kris Kristofferson to Janis Joplin, and Joplin to KK’s song Bobby McGee. Neuwirth also co-wrote Joplin’s posthumously-released a capella song Mercedes Benz.

Neuwith, a man of sharp wit and cutting tongue, didn’t record his first album until 1974. It featured guest stars such as Kris Kristofferson, Booker T. Jones, Rita Coolidge, Chris Hillman, Cass Elliot (just before her death), Dusty Springfield, Don Everly and Richie Furay, but it was no commercial success. Between 1988-99, he released four more albums, but by then Neuwirth was making his name more as an abstract painter than a music act.

The Hawk
Another one-time Dylan associate left us in May in US-Canadian rock & roll and country singer-songwriter Ronnie Hawkins. In 1975, Dylan cast Hawkins to play the part of “Bob Dylan” in his movie Renaldo and Clara.

Hawkins, born in Arkansas two days after Elvis Presley, began his career in the 1950s when he enjoyed a number of rock & roll hits — mostly covers and knock-offs — with his band The Hawks. That group played a part in rock history as a precursor of The Band: its ever-changing line-up included first Levon Helms as of 1957 and Robbie Robertson in 1960 before Richard Manuel and Rick Danko joined in 1961, and soon after them Garth Hudson. In late 1963 they left Hawkins to form their own band. Hawkins was later reunited with The Band at their farewell concert, which recorded for the film The Last Waltz (he played with them on Who Do You Love)

In Toronto, Hawkins also hosted and accompanied John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their Bed-In campaign.

The Country Cousin
Country singer Mickey Gilley grew up with his cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and rockabilly pianist Carl McVoy. By the time Gilley hit the big time as a country crooner in the mid-1970s, the careers of Jerry Lee and McVoy had long been on the slide. Gilley was smart enough to recognise a change of wind in country music when in 1980, on the back of the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, his music became more pop-oriented. Between 1980-86, he released 19 singles, of which 18 were country Top 10 hits (nine of them reaching #1)

The Spinal Tap Drummer
Few drummers enjoy a resurrection, but Ric Parnell did. Originally, he featured in the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap as Mick Shrimpton, one of the string of Spinal Tap drummers who meet a freakish death. But when Spinal Tap, on the back of the film’s success, became a recording concern, Parnell was resurrected, to swing the sticks as Mick’s twin brother, Ric Shrimpton.

Parnell initially broke through as a member of British rock band Atomic Rooster, from 1971-74. In between he recorded with Italian rock band Triton, scoring a 1973 hit with a cover of Satisfaction. Short-lived gigs in a number of bands followed. He also did some session work, including on Toni Basil’s 1980 #1 hit Mickey.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.

 

Ray Fenwick, 75, English guitarist and producer, on April 30
Spencer Davis Group – Time Seller (1968, as member)
Ray Fenwick – I Wanna Stay Here (1971)

Ric Parnell, 70, English drummer and actor, on May 1
Atomic Rooster – Save Me (1973, as member)
Spinal Tap – Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight (1984, as member)

Régine, 92, French singer, songwriter, actress and discotheque pioneer, on May 1
Régine – Ca n’sert à rien (1965)
Régine – On la chante (1973)
Régine – La vie by night (1981)

DJ Delete, 30, Australian DJ and music producer, on May 1

Peter Frohmader, 63, German electronic composer and musician, on May 2
Peter Frohmader – Funebre (2010)

María José Cantilo, 68, Belgian-born Argentine singer-songwriter, on May 2

Howie Pyro, 61, bassist of punk band D Generation, on May 4
D Generation – Wasted Years (1993)

Albin Julius, 54, leader of Austrian experimental rock project Der Blutharsch, on May 4

Jewell, 53, R&B singer, on May 6
Snoop Doggy Dogg feat Jewell- Who Am I (What’s My Name)
Jewell – Woman To Woman (1994)

Mickey Gilley, 86, country singer, on May 7
Mickey Gilley – Room Full Of Roses (1974)
Mickey Gilley – Lonely Nights (1981)
Mickey Gilley – Your Memory Ain’t What It Used To Be (1985)

Dennis Waterman, 74, English actor and singer, on May 8
Dennis Waterman – I Could Be So Good For You (1979)

Doug Caldwell, 94, New Zealand jazz musician, on May 10

Richard Benson, 67, British-Italian guitarist, singer and TV host, on May 10
Richard Benson – Renegade (1984)

Trevor Strnad, 41, singer of metal band Black Dahlia Murder, on May 10

Norman Dolph, 83, songwriter and producer, on May 11
The Velvet Underground – All Tomorrow’s Parties (1968, as producer)
Reunion – Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me) (1974, as writer)

Patricia Cahill, 77, Irish singer, on May 11

Andy Chaves, 32 member of reggae-rock band Katastro, in car crash on May 12

Ben Moore, 80, American soul singer, on May 12
James & Bobby Purify – Get Closer (1976, as Bobby Purify II)

Rosmarie Trapp, 93, member of the Von Trapp family, on May 13

Lil Keed, 24, rapper, on May 13

Ricky Gardiner, 73, Scottish guitarist and composer, on May 13
Beggars Opera – Two Timing Woman (1973, as founder member)
David Bowie – Sound And Vision (1977, on guitar)
Iggy Pop – The Passenger (1977, as co-writer and on guitar)

Robert Cogoi, 82, Belgian singer, on May 15

Deborah Fraser, 56, South African gospel singer, on May 15

Vangelis Papathanassiou, 79, Greek keyboardist and film composer, on May 17
Aphrodite’s Child – Rain And Tears (1968, as member and co-writer)
Aphrodite’s Child – It’s Five O’Clock (1969, as member and co-writer)
Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home (1981, also as co-writer)
Vangelis – Conquest Of Paradise (1992, as composer)

Rick Price, 77, bassist of English bands The Move, Wizzard, on May 17
The Move – When Alice Comes Back To The Farm (1970)
Wizzard – See My Baby Jive (1973)

Paul Plimley, 69, Canadian free jazz pianist and vibraphonist, on May 18

Bob Neuwirth, 82, folk singer-songwriter, on May 18
Janis Joplin – Mercedes Benz (1971, as co-writer)
Bob Neuwirth – Just Because I’m Here (Don’t Mean I’m Home) (1974)
Bob Neuwirth – Life Is For The Living (1990)

Wim Rijken, 63, Dutch singer and actor, on May 18

Cathal Coughlan, 61, singer of Irish indie bands Microdisney, Fatima Mansions, on May 18
Microdisney – Town To Town (1987)
Fatima Mansions – Angel’s Delight (1990)

Bernard Wright, 58, American soul singer, jazz fusion keyboardist, on May 19
Bernard Wright – Spinnin’ (1981)
Bernard Wright – Who Do You Love (1984)

Guido Lembo, 75, Italian singer and guitarist, on May 19

Thom Bresh, 74, country guitarist and singer, on May 23
Tom Bresh – Home Made Love (1976)

Jean-Louis Chautemps, 90, French jazz saxophonist, on May 25
Elton John – Honky Cat (1972, on saxophone)

Guillaume Bideau, 44, French singer of Danish heavy metal group Mnemic, on May 25

Alan White, 72, English drummer of Yes, on May 25
John Lennon – Instant Karma (1970, on drums, piano)
Gary Wright – Get On The Right Road (1972)
Yes – Wonderous Stories (1977)
Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart (1983)

Andy Fletcher, 60, co-founder and keyboardist of Depeche Mode, on May 25
Depeche Mode – Dreaming Of Me (1981)
Depeche Mode – But Not Tonight (1986)
Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence (1990)

Steve Broughton, 72, drummer of the Edgar Broughton Band, on May 29
Edgar Broughton Band – Hotel Room (1971)

Sidhu Moose Wala, 28, Indian singer, actor and politician, shot dead on May 29

Ronnie Hawkins, 87, rock & roll, country singer-songwriter, on May 29
Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks – Forty Days (1959)
Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks – I Feel Good (1961)
The Band with Ronnie Hawkins – Who Do You Love (1978)
Ronnie Hawkins – Making It Again (1984)

Dakis, 78, Greek singer, on May 29
Dakis – Mourir ou vivre (1967)

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  1. amdwhah
    June 2nd, 2022 at 09:18 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Rhodb
    June 4th, 2022 at 22:36 | #2

    Thanks for another In Memoriam share Good work

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