Archive for the ‘In Memoriam’ Category

In Memoriam – August 2023

August 29th, 2023 9 comments

August’s In Memoriam actually drops in August, due to commitments that prevent me from posting this month’s instalment at the usual time. September’s In Memoriam will, obviously, include all the music deaths that are still coming or are yet to be reported.

This month we lost people who were subjects to three fine documentaries: Robbie Robertson (as a member of The Band) in The Last Waltz, Sixto Rodriguez in Searching For Sugar Man, and Clarence Avant in The Black Godfather (the latter two also crossed paths at one point).

Oh, and Tom Jones died.

The Band Man
I would argue that The Band were among the most influential musical groups of their time, but I wager that only their fans and deep-cut rock fans would be able to list all their members. In fact, I reckon that most people would know only Robbie Robertson, and maybe Levon Helms. With Robertson’s death, only Garth Hudson is still with us. And at the intervals at which we are losing Band members, Hudson might remain so for another dozen years: Richard Manuel died in 1986, Rick Danko in 1999, Levon Helm in 2012, and now Robbie Robertson in 2023.

All of them brought something special to The Band but guitarist Robertson was its primary songwriter, contributing classics like The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Shape I’m In, Up On Cripple Creek, and (my favourite Band track) It Makes No Difference. Though, it must be noted, Helm and Danko strongly disputed Robertson’s claims to sole authorship. Later reunions excluded Robertson…

After The Band’s initial split, Robertson produced albums for acts like Neil Diamond and Eric Clapton. And Robertson wrote film scores for films directed by Martin Scorsese, who had also directed the docu for The Band’s break-up concert, The Last Waltz. These films include Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, The Color of Money, Casino, The Wolf Of Wall Street, The Irishman, and the recently released Killers Of The Flower Moon.

Robertson released his eponymous debut solo album only in 1987. It was a critical and commercial success, even if I didn’t like it too much — there is a reason why Robertson very rarely took lead vocals in The Band.

The Sugar Man
Having released a single (as Rod Riguez, the label’s bright idea) and done session work on Motown, Sixto Rodriguez had reason to hope that his superb 1970 debut album Cold Facts would become a hit. But the socio-political folk-funk flopped in the US, as did the 1971 follow-up Coming From Reality, both released on Clarence Avant’s Sussex label. But somehow his two records became cult-items in South Africa, especially in student circles spanning several generations.

The records were also heard in Australia and New Zealand, where Rodriguez toured in 1979 and 1981, but it was in South Africa that the Detroit-born singer was a cult figure, no doubt fed by the mystique surrounding him, with the prevailing rumour declaring Rodriguez dead by suicide.

The quest by a South African fan in the 1990s to locate Rodriguez and get him to tour the country would be told in the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Incredibly, Rodriguez had no ideas that he was popular in South Africa; her found out when his daughter spotted a website dedicated to him. His first concert in Johannesburg in 1998 was an area affair, broadcast on TV. Imagine, one moment you live in your derelict Detroit home, assuming your art has been forgotten; next moment you play an arena in Africa where everybody knows the words to the songs you wrote almost three decades earlier, including people who weren’t even born when you recorded them.

Searching For Sugar Man gave Rodriguez as second shot at a career in the last decade of his 81-year-long life.

The Philly Soulman
As lead guitarist of the session band MFSB, Bobby Eli played on most of the great Philadelphia soul classics. Apart from Philly acts, over the years he also backed the likes of David Bowie, Hall & Oates, Wilson Pickett, Grady Tate, Elton John, George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield, Grace Jones, Jay-Z, and Shaggy.

But apart from backing artists —and having a global hit as a member of MFSB with TSOP, which for a while was also the Soul Train theme — the man born as Eli Tatarsky was also a songwriter of several hits and producer of stars.

Among the Philly soul hits he co-wrote are Love Won’t Let Me Wait for Major Harris, Blue Magic’s Sideshow and Three Ring Circus, and Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely by the Main Ingredient (originally written for Ronnie Dyson). He later also co-wrote the 1982 hit Zoom for Fat Larry’s Band and Love Town for Booker Newberry III.

He produced the Major Harris and Blue Magic hits, and others for those acts, as well as Jackie Moore (including her disco classic This Time Baby), Sister Sledge, Brenda & The Tabulations, Engelbert Humperdinck (in his porn-actor moustache phase), early Atlantic Starr, Rose Royce, Booker Newberry III, Deniece Williams and others.

The Axeman
Perhaps best-known for his work in Whitesnake, guitarist Bernie Marsden was admired for his ability to blend melodic solos, drawn from his love of blues, with powerful rhythm playing. Marsden co-founded Whitesnake in 1978 — when he might have joined Paul McCartney’s Wings instead — and also co-wrote many of their hits, including Here I Go Again (he played on the 1982 version, but not on the 1987 hit re-recording) and Fool For Your Loving.

Before he joined Whitesnake, Marsden played with UFO, Cozy Powell’s Hammer, and Wild Turkey, and co-founded the Deep Purple spin-off band Paice Ashton Lord with Deep Purple members Ian Paice and Jon Lord. Marsden also released many solo albums.

Gibson Guitars made a limited edition number of Marsden’s 1959 Les Paul guitar, known as “The Beast”.

The Black Godfather
His nickname “Black Godfather” might suggest some kind of nefarious character, but Clarence Avant, the music executive who has died at 92, received that moniker for presiding over an incredible network of contacts in the fields of entertainment, business and politics which enabled him to strike an abundant number of deals.

He started off by managing acts like Little Willie John, Sarah Vaughan, Kim Weston, Freddie Hubbard and others. In 1969 he founded the Sussex label, on which he mentored especially Bill Withers to stardom. Another Sussex artist was Sixto Rodriguez, whose two albums were release on the label. The documentary Searching for Sugar Man strongly that Rodriguez had been cheated out of the royalties due to him. Sussex folded in 1975.

Avant went on to co-found Tabu Records in 1975, which really took off in the 1980s when Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced acts like The S.O.S. Band, Alexander O’Neal, and Cherrelle. Tabu became part of the Sony empire in 1989, and in 1991 became a subsidiary of A&M Records (more on whom in a moment). When Avant was appointed to run Motown, Tabu was incorporated under that label (complicated stuff: both A&M and Motown were owned by PolyGram by that time).

In 1973, Avant was the executive producer of Save the Children, the film of the Operation PUSH concert in Chicago, which included the greatest line-up of black performers ever assembled.

Avant advocated for diversity and equal representation in the entertainment industry, and used his influence to help create opportunities for African American artists and professionals. He was the subject of the 2019 Netflix documentary The Black Godfather, produced by his daughter.

Avant died 20 months after his wife of 54 years, Jacqueline, was shot dead by an intruder in their Beverly Hills home on December 1, 2021.

The M in A&M
Three days after Avant, the M in A&M Records died. Jerry Moss founded the label in 1962 with Herb Alpert (the A in the name), having previously gone by the name of Carnival Records. A&M first built its fortunes on the records of Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendes, but soon included in its roster best-sellers like Burt Bacharach, The Sandpipers, Carpenters, Captain and Tennille, Flying Burrito Brothers, Quincy Jones, Rita Coolidge, Gino Vannelli, Joan Baez, Peter Frampton, Styx, Supertramp, Chuck Mangione, Billy Preston, Brothers Johnson, The Police, Sting, OMD, Nazareth, Joan Armatrading, Janet Jackson, Atlantic Starr, The Go-Go’s Bryan Adams, Suzanne Vega, The Human League, Joe Jackson, and loads others.

In 1989 Alpert and Moss sold A&M to PolyGram for $500 million, but continued to manage the label until 1993, when they quit due to interference from the parent company. In 1998, the two sued PolyGram, settling for another $200 million payment. Moss and Alpert were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 in the non-performer category.

Less than two weeks after Moss, one of A&M’s pivotal execs, promotions man Harold Childs, died at 80.

The Hit Writer
When the British invasion hit in the 1960s, New Yorker Rob Feldman and some of his young songwriting and producing colleagues sought to cash in on it, and founded The Strangeloves — initially pretending to be Australian, because their British accents weren’t very good. The studio band released a few hit records, particularly I Want Candy (later a UK hit for Bow Wow Wow), Cara-Lin, and Night Time.

With his partners Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, Feldman also produced the McCoys’ Hang On Sloopy, and wrote for them the song Sorrow, a b-side that later became a hit for David Bowie. Before that, they had written and produced My Boyfriend’s Back for The Angels. With Goldstein, Feldman later recorded as Rome & Paris.

Feldman went to school with Neil Sedaka, and was a member of the All-City Choir with Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. He was the father of actor Corey Feldman.

The Jazz Diva
It is a huge shame that South African jazz singer Sylvia Mdunyelwa, only ever released two albums, one of them a live set. The Cape Town singer started her music career in the 1970s, performing with a variety of local jazz acts.

The diminutive singer with a big voice was versatile: she also acted on South African television, had a weekly jazz show on a popular Cape Town radio station, owned a TV- and film-production company, and set up a jazz school up in the township where she was born, serving the community there in various forms of activism.

The Italian
One of Italy’s most popular pop stars, rough-voiced Toto Cutugno was a regular at the country’s popular Sanremo Music Festival, which he won in 1980 with “Solo noi”. In 1990 won the Eurovison Song Contest with “Insieme: 1992”, a song that celebrated the European Union.

Seven years earlier, Cutugno had a big international hit with “L’Italiano”, which basically listed things that define Italianess (eating pasta al dente, that sort of thing). Expats apparently loved it. Earlier yet, Cutugno had some success as singer and songwriter of the band Albatros, which he had co-founded. They had two hits in the mid-1970s with Africa and Volo AZ 504.

He also wrote prolifically for others, including the huge French disco hit “Monday Tuesday… Laissez moi danser” for Dalida and “Soli” for Adriano Celentano, as well as songs for Joe Dassin, Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Domenico Modugno, Claude François, Gigliola Cinquetti, Hervé Vilard, and others.

The Pistols’ Artist
If you have ever beheld any Sex Pistols record, you will have seen the art of Jamie Reid, 76, the British visual artist who designed the covers of the Never Mind The Bollocks LP and of singles like God Save The Queen and, in comic book style, Holiday In The Sun.  The magenta-on-yellow ransom-letter style Sex Pistols logo was also his work.

In 2011, Q magazine named the cover of God Save The Queen the greatest singles cover of all time. The original design was shocking, with Cecil Beaton’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II adorned with a safety pin through her nose and swastikas in her eye. In the end, the single release featured the queen with a banner displaying the song’s title covering her eyes, a banner with the band’s name over her lips, and HRH’s schnozzle unmolested by fastening devices.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.

Dom Minasi, 80, jazz guitarist, composer and producer, on Aug. 1
Dom Minasi – I’ll Only Miss Her (When I Think Of Her) (1974)

Wendell B, 65, R&B singer, on Aug. 3
Wendell B. – When It Don’t Make Sense (2012)

Carl Davis, 86, US-British classical and film composer, conductor, on Aug. 3
Carl Davis – Theme of The French Lieutenant’s Woman (2009, as composer and conductor)

Tom Pintens, 48, Belgian indie singer and musician, on Aug. 4

John Gosling, 75, keyboardist of The Kinks (1970-78), on Aug. 4
The Kinks – You Don’t Know My Name (1971)

Slim Lehart, 88, American country singer, on Aug. 5

David LaFlamme, 82, singer and violinist of psych-rock band It’s A Beautiful Day, on Aug. 6
It’s A Beautiful Day – White Bird (1969, on vocals and as co-writer and producer)

Louis Tillett, 64, Australian rock singer and musician, on Aug. 6
Louis Tillett & Charlie Owen – Midnight Rain (1995)

Toussaint McCall, 89, soul singer, on Aug. 7
Toussaint McCall – Nothing Takes The Place Of You (1967)

Erkin Koray, 82, Turkish singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Aug. 7

DJ Casper, 58, DJ and songwriter, on Aug. 7
DJ Casper – Cha Cha Slide (2000)

Jamie Reid, 76, British visual artist, designer of Sex Pistols covers, on Aug. 8
The Sex Pistols – Holiday In The Sun (1977, as cover designer)

Sixto Rodriguez, 81, folk-rock singer-songwriter, on Aug. 8
Rod Riguez – I’ll Slip Away (1967)
Rodriguez – I Wonder (1970)
Rodriguez – I Think Of You (1971)
Rodriguez – Sugar Man (Live) (2009)

Robbie Robertson, 80, Canadian songwriter, musician (The Band), film composer, on Aug. 9
Bob Dylan & The Band – Nothing Was Delivered (rec. 1967)
The Band – It Makes No Difference (1975, also as writer)
The Band – Up On Cripple Creek (Live) (1978, also as writer)
Robbie Robertson – Broken Arrow (1987, also as writer)

Peppino Gagliardi, 83, Italian singer, on Aug. 9
Peppino Gagliardi – Che vuole questa musica stasera (1967)

Brad Thomson, grindcore guitarist, announced Aug. 10

Carlos Camacho, 73, singer with Puerto Rican vocal band Los Hispanos, on Aug. 11
Los Hispanos Quartet – Pena (1967)

Tom Jones, 95, musical lyricist, on Aug. 11
New World – Try To Remember (1968, as lyricist)

Ron Peno, 68, singer-songwriter with Australian rock band Died Pretty, on Aug. 11
Died Pretty – Everybody Moves (1989)

Clarence Avant, 92, music executive and label founder, on Aug. 13
Willie Bobo & The Bo-Gents – Do What You Want To Do (1971, as co-producer, label owner)
Cherelle & Alexander O’Neal – Saturday Love (1985, as label owner)

Patricia Bredin, 88, English actress and singer, on Aug. 13

Magoo, 50, rapper and songwriter, announced Aug. 13
Timbaland & Magoo feat Missy Eliott & Aaliyah – Up Jumps Da Boogie (1997)

Jerry Moss, 88, co-founder of A&M Records, producer, on Aug. 14
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – Whipped Cream (1965, as co-producer)
Waylon Jernnings – The Real House Of The Rising Sun (1965, as producer)
Michelle Phillips – No Love Today (1976, as producer)

Bobby Eli, 77, Philly soul guitarist, songwriter, and producer, on Aug. 16
MFSB – TSOP (1974, as member on lead guitar)
Blue Magic – Sideshow (1974, as writer and producer)
Fat Larry’s Band – Zoom (19832, as co-writer)
Luther Vandross – Love Won’t Let Me Wait (1988, as writer)

Walter Aipolani, 68, Hawaiian music singer, songwriter and guitarist, on Aug. 16

Gary Young, 70, drummer of indie band Pavement (1989-93), on Aug. 16
Pavement – Summer Babe (1991)

Chico Novarro, 88, Argentine singer-songwriter, on Aug. 17

Ray Hildebrand, 82, half of duo Paul & Paula, songwriter, on Aug. 17
Paul & Paula – Hey, Paula (1962, also as writer)

Václav Patejdl, 68, member of Czechoslovakian rock band Elán, on Aug. 19

Luc Smets, 76, singer, songwriter and musician with Belgian pop band The Pebbles, on Aug. 20
The Pebbles – Seven Horses In The Sky (1969, as lead singer and co-writer)

Denis LePage, 74, half of Canadian disco duo Lime, songwriter, on Aug. 21
Lime – Your Love (1981, also as co-writer)

Toto Cutugno, 80, Italian singer-songwriter, Eurovision winner (1990), on Aug. 22
Albatros – Volo AZ 504 (1976, as member, vocalist and co-writer)
Toto Cutugno – Solo noi (1980)
Toto Cutugno – L’italiano (1983, also as co-writer)

Bob Feldman, 83, songwriter and producer, on Aug. 23
The Angels – My Boyfriend’s Back (1963, as co-writer and co-producer)
The Strangeloves – I Want Candy (1965, as member and co-writer)
The McCoys – Sorrow (1965, as co-writer and co-producer)
Dusty Drake – And Then (2002, as co-writer)

Bernie Marsden, 72, English rock guitarist and songwriter, on Aug. 24
Cozy Powell’s Hammer – Na Na Na (1974, on guitar)
Bernie Marsden – Still The Same (1979, also as writer)
Whitesnake – Here I Go Again (1987, as member and co-writer)

Sylvia Mdunyelwa, South African jazz singer, on Aug. 25
Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa – That’s All (1998)
Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa – Abazali (1998)

Carlos Gonzaga, 99, Brazilian singer, on Aug. 25
Carlos Gonzaga – Diana (1958)

MC Marcinho, 45, Brazilian funk singer, on Aug. 26

John Kezdy, 64, singer of punk band The Effigies, traffic accident on Aug. 26
The Effigies – Something That… (1984)

Bosse Broberg, 85, Swedish jazz trumpeter and composer, on Aug. 26

Harold Childs, 80, music executive (A&M, PolyGram), on Aug. 27

Brian McBride, 53, ambient musician, announced Aug. 27
Stars of the Lid – Dungtitled (In A Major) (2007, as member)
Bell Gardens – Through The Rain (2010, as member)

Eddie Skoller, 79, Danish singer and actor, on Aug. 27

Denyse Plummer, 69, Trinidadian calypso and gospel singer, on Aug. 27
Denyse Plummer – Woman Is Boss (1988)

James Casey, 40, saxophonist with rock group Trey Anastasio Band, on Aug. 28


Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – July 2023

August 2nd, 2023 5 comments

The word “iconic” is overused and abused, deployed and misapplied to the point that it has lost any meaning by content creators who meander through the landscape of wordsmithery without the solid foundation of having been trained in writing. It is a term used and enjoyed with extreme caution. But it seems proper to describe three of our deaths this month by the term “iconic”, in as far as they were figureheads or trailblazers (another cliché?) who by their persona or work had some quality of the unique and even irreplaceable.


The Legend
You would have expected the obits to be kind to Tony Bennett, one of the last survivors of the great crooning generation of the 1950s. Well, they were indeed glowing accounts of the man in ways that suggest that Bennett really was a quality man. Of course, we knew of his decency, and his political engagement for civil rights when that kind of thing could cost you (as it had cost Sinatra in the late 1940s). But it seems everybody who ever met him had only kind things to say about Bennett — as they did in his lifetime.

Bennett deserved the adulation he received when he made his big comeback in the 1990s, after more than two decades in the wilderness. He was a survivor. And he showed his vigour even when Alzheimer’s had taken residence in him, still recording and, remarkably, still performing live. Tony Bennett, we salute you!

The Protest Singer
A lot more has been written about Sinead O’Connor than I might have anticipated, had I ever contemplated her death at the young age of 56. The Irish singer left a cultural imprint out of proportion with the successes of her career. That scarcity of commercial success was self-inflicted, by choice and by circumstance, for Sinead was above all a protest singer, not a commercial proposition. And a protest singer, to be true to the definition, doesn’t seek success, doesn’t compromise.

It is somehow appropriate that Sinead once had a protective wing cast over her by Kris Kristofferson (see him tell the story and Sinead and KK sing a duet). Kristofferson once sang: “And you still can hear me singing to the people who don’t listen to the things that I am saying; praying someone’s gonna hear. And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about are things they could be changing; hoping someone’s gonna care.”

I hope Sinead O’Connor, a troubled woman of aggressive courage and mild temperament, and of (unconventional) religious faith, indeed beat the devil.
La fille de Chelsea
My mother had the single of Je t’aime…Moi non plus, the groan-and-moan-fest by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, with Birkin staring in all her beauty from the cover. When I was five, I loved it and played the single ad nauseam on my little suitcase record player, to the point that much later in life, I found myself a vinyl rip MP3 to experience the proper sound of childhood nostalgia. The crackling belonged to the song as much as Birkin’s moans. Obviously I had no interest in what the nice lady was singing or groaning, less even why she seemed to be in pain. I just loved that groove.

Contrary to the popular narrative, Jane and Serge did not have sex while recording Je t’aime…, but were in separate booths, unlike the version Gainsbourg had done earlier with Brigitte Bardot. Apparently the recording of the Bardot version involved some personal contact — reportedly in the form of heavy petting.

Bardot begged Gainsbourg that her version not be released because her husband objected to it. Given that Günter Sachs’ approach to marital fidelity was not widely known to be uncompromisingly observant, I suppose his objection centred mainly on BB’s orgasmic noises going public, not the idea that said (putative) orgasm was caused by another man.

As for Birkin, she would appear on one of the great albums of the 1970s, Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, briefly on vocals and prominently on the cover, on which she holds her toy tiger to cover up her breasts (not that Birkin was particularly shy about public nudity). Her musical career in general was not an extraordinarily fertile ground for the classics of French pop music, but even when the music was mediocre and her voice thin, it was carried by Birkin’s enigmatic personality.

The Eagle
By all accounts, bassist Randy Meisner was a very nice guy, so it seems harsh that his bandmates in Poco and the Eagles treated him so poorly. As a founder member of Poco, he recorded the group’s debut album, but quit the band when he was excluded from participating the final mix, by order of guitarist Richie Furay. Meisner’s bass and backing vocals were retained, but on the cover drawing, his likeness was replaced by that of a dog. In Poco he was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.

Meisner went on to co-found the Eagles, where he wrote and sang lead on a few songs, including the wonderful Take It To The Limit. He recorded six albums with the Eagles, leaving after 1976’s Hotel California. Again, he was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.

When the Eagles reformed for the Hell Freezes Over tour, Meisner was deliberately and explicitly excluded. He was hurt by it, but said he felt no grudge towards Frey and Henley. Likewise, he later performed with Furay, who had treated Meisner so poorly in Poco.

After his time with the Eagles, Meisner recorded a few decent but commercially indifferent albums, and ran a few projects with other musicians.

The Trailblazer
As the new millennium kicked off, one of my big jams was Coco Lee’s Do You Want My Love, an infectious dance number that always put me in a good mood. So I was all the more saddened to learn that Hong Kong-born Lee’s life ended with suicide.

In 2001, Lee became the first Chinese-American singer to perform at the Oscars, with A Love Before Time from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Lee recorded both in English and Mandarin, and seemed to be well-connected: her 2011 wedding in Hong Kong included performances by Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys and Ne-Yo. She died at 48, three days after attempting suicide on July 2.

The Hornblower
Count Basie rated trumpeter Oscar Brashear so highly, he showcased him in his concerts in the 1960s, as he did in this clip from 1968. Brashear was best-known as a trumpeter, but played any horn instrument. Apart from contributing to jazz acts, that versatility ensured him a place in many horn sections that appeared on countless soul and pop records. He played on virtually all Earth, Wind & Fire album, and on tracks like The Crusaders’ Street Life or Webster Lewis’ glorious Give Me Some Emotion.

Brashear backed acts like Donny Hathaway, John Lee Hooker, Solomon Burke, Zulema, Bonnie Raitt, Marvin Gaye, Patrice Rushen, The Blackbyrds, Randy Newman, Etta James, Esther Philips, Carole King (including the wonderful Sweet Season), Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Michael Franks, Ry Cooder, BB King, Deniece Williams, Maria Muldaur, Patti Labelle, Letta Mbulu, Tavares, The Sylvers, Teena Marie, Rick James, The Whispers, Was (Not Was), Frank Sinatra (on the Duets album), Thomas Dolby, Kenny Rogers, Dr John, Quincy Jones, Babyface, Lionel Richie, Tamia (on You Put A Move On My Heart), and many more…

Aside from Basie, he recorded with jazz acts such as Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Blue Mitchell, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Sergio Mendes, Henry Mancini, Alice Coltrane, Earl Klugh, Stanley Turrentine, Gabor Szabo, Jon Lucien, Ramsey Lewis, Norman Connors, Hubert Laws, Sadao Watanabe, Rodney Franklin, Pharoah Sanders, Hubert Laws, Lalo Schifrin, Freddie Hubbard, Nelson Riddle, Toots Thielemans, Horace Silver, Herb Alpert, David Axelrod, Diane Schuur, Joe Sample, George Duke, Herbie Hancock and others.

The Bassist
Although he released a number of solo records and was part of the jazz-fusion trio RMS, English multi-instrumentalist Mo Foster was best known as a backing musician for acts like Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Gil Evans, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Joan Armatrading, Gerry Rafferty, Meat Loaf, Cher, Scott Walker, Cliff Richard, George Martin, Judie Tzuke, Olivia Newton-John, Dr John, Stephen Bishop, Elkie Brooks, Michael Schenker, Heaven 17 and many others. He primarily played the bass guitarist, especially on Jeff Beck records.

He also played on soundtracks for many TV shows (including the distinctive bass on the theme of Minder), musicals (including Evita) and for films such as For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Revenge of the Pink Panther, and Clockwise.

Foster was also a songwriter and producer, and wrote a humorous history of the British rock guitar, with a foreword by Hank Marvin.

The TV Composer
If you have watched any episode of the UK crime show Midsomer Murders (or “Tories Killing Tories”, as I call it), you will have heard the compositions of Jim Parker, who has died at 88. He scored the internationally popular show, and wrote its theme, with the ghostly theremin. Parker also wrote the theme and score for 1990s superb House of Cards series (and its sequels, which deteriorated in quality. The first season, however, still towers over the US copy with Verbal). Parker also wrote for Foyles’ War and Victoria Woods’ TV programmes, and the scores of several films.

Once he made it into the UK charts, having set a poem called Captain Beaky by Jeremy Lloyd to music, with Keith Mitchell reciting. Recorded in 1977 — as part of a project that also included recitals by Peter Sellers, Twiggy and Harry Secombe — it reached #5 in 1980. Parker also set poems by John Betjeman to music, with the poet laureate reciting his own words.

The Brazilian Legends
Tony Bennett once described jazz singer Leny Andrade, who died at 80 only three days after him, as “Brazil’s Ella Fitzgerald”. Like Fitzgerald, Andrade recorded with some of the biggest names in her field, including João Donato, whom we also lost this month.

On the same day Andrade died, her longtime friend and fellow legendary singer Dóris Monteiro passed away, at the age of 88. A joint wake was held at the venerable Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.

Monteiro’s recording career went back as far as 1951, with some film appearances following. By 1956 she was so big a star that she got her own TV show. She recorded regularly into the 1990s, and toured into her 70s.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.

Jerry Masters, 83, sound engineer, bassist and songwriter, on June 30
Clarence Carter – Patches (1969, on bass)
Tony Joe White – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1972, as engineer and on backing vocals)

Vicki Anderson, 83, soul singer (James Brown Revue), on July 3
Vicky Anderson – The Message From The Soul Sisters (1970)

Mo Foster, 78, English multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, on July 3
Affinity – I Am And So Are You (1970, as member)
Phil Collins – It Don’t Matter To Me (1982, on bass)
Meat Loaf – Piece Of The Action (1984, on bass)
Mo Foster – The Light In Your Eyes (1988)

Lincoln Mayorga, 86, pianist and arranger, on July 3
The Four Preps – Big Man (1958, on piano)

Canelita Medina, 84, Venezuelan salsa singer, on July 4
Canelita Medina – Canto a la Guaira (1981)

Martin Stevens, 69, Canadian pop singer, on July 5
Martin Stevens – Midnight Music (1979)

Ralph Lundsten, 86, Swedish electronic music composer, on July 5

George Tickner, 76, rock guitarist, founding member of Journey, announced July 5
Journey – Of A Lifetime (1975, as member and co-writer)

Marcello Colasurdo, 68, Italian singer-songwriter and actor, on July 5

Coco Lee, 48, Hong Kong-American dance singer-songwriter, suicide on July 5
Coco Lee – Do You Want My Love (1999, also as producer)
Coco Lee – I Just Wanna Marry U (2013, also as writer)

Rob Agerbeek, 85, Dutch jazz pianist, on July 5

Caleb Southern, 53, pop-rock musician, producer and computer scientist, on July 6
Ben Folds Five – Magic (1999, as producer)

Peter Nero, 89, pianist and conductor with the Philly Pops, on July 6

Oscar Brashear, 78, jazz trumpeter, on July 7
Count Basie – Switch In Time (1968, on trumpet)
Earth, Wind & Fire – In The Stone (1979, on trumpet)
Crusaders feat Randy Crawford – Street Life (1979, full version, on trumpet)
Double Scale feat. Oscar Brashear – Smooth (1999)

Özkan Uğur, 69, member of Turkish pop band MFÖ, on July 8

Greg Cook, 72, singer with soul band The Unifics, on July 8
The Unifics – The Beginning Of My End (1968)

Bob Segarini, 77, US-Canadian pop musician and radio presenter, on July 10
Segarini – When the Lights Are Out (1978)

Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, 89, German free jazz musician, on July 10

Toni Carbone, 62, bassist of Italian new wave band Denovo, on July 11
Denovo – Persuasione (1987)

Anthony Meo, drummer of hardcore band Biohazard, announced July 14

Dano LeBlanc, 55, Canadian musician and cartoonist, on July 15

Jane Birkin, 76, English-French singer and actress, on July 16
Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime moi non plus (1969)
Jane Birkin – Lolita Go Home (1975)
Jane Birkin – Norma Jean Baker (1983)

Marc Herrand, 98, singer with French vocal group Les Compagnons de la Chanson, on July 17
Les Compagnons de la Chanson – Le marchand de Bonheur (1960)

João Donato, 88, Brazilian jazz and bossa nova pianist, on July 17
Donato e Seu Trio – Só Danço Samba (1965)
João Donato – E Menina (1975)

DJ Deeon, 56, house music DJ and producer, on July 17
DJ Deeon – Freak Like Me (1996)

Mark Thomas, 67, British film composer, on July 19
Mark Thomas – Opening Titles of ‘Shadows In The Sun’ (2006, as composer, conductor)

Tony Bennett, 96, jazz vocalist, on July 21
Tony Bennett – Rags To Riches (1953)
Tony Bennett with the Count Basie Orchestra – I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plans (1959)
Tony Bennett – I Left My Heart In San Francisco (live) (1994)
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Anything Goes (2014)

Neal Langford, 50, bassist of The Shins (2000-2003), on July 21
The Shins – Caring Is Creepy (2001)

Knut Riisnæs, 77, Norwegian jazz musician, on July 22

Arthur Rubin, 97, stage-singer and actor, on July 22

Vince Hill, 89, English singer and songwriter, on July 22
Vince Hill – Merci Cherie (1966)

Peter Austin, 78, singer with Jamaican ska band The Clarendonians, on July 22
The Clarendonians – Rudie Bam Bam (1966)

Raymond Froggatt, 81, English songwriter, on July 23
Raymond Froggatt – Callow La Vita (1968)

Cecilia Pantoja, 79, Chilean singer-songwriter, on July 24
Cecilia – Te Perdí (1965)

Dóris Monteiro, 88, Brazilian singer and actress, on July 24
Dóris Monteiro – Se Você se Importasse (1951)
Dóris Monteiro – Mocinho Bonito (1957)
Dóris Monteiro – Coqueiro Verde (1970)

Leny Andrade, 80, Brazilian singer and musician, on July 24
Leny Andrade – O Amor e a Rosa (1961)
Leny Andrade – Flor de Liz (live) (1984)
Leny Andrade – Rio (1991)

Brad Houser, 62, musician and co-founder of the New Bohemians, on July 24
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – Nothing (1988, on bass and as co-writer)

Paul ‘Biff’ Rose, 85, comedian and singer-songwriter, on July 25
Biff Rose – Fill Your Heart (1968; original of the Bowie song)

Andreas Tsoukalas, 60, Greek pop singer, on July 25

Sinéad O’Connor, 56, Irish singer and songwriter, announced on July 26
Sinead O’Connor – Mandinka (1987)
Sinead O’Connor – Black Boys On Mopeds (1990)
Terry Hall  & Sinead O’Connor – All Kinds Of Everything (1998)
Sinead O’Connor – How About I Be Me (2014)

Roseline Damian, 39, Kenyan gospel singer, on July 26

Randy Meisner, 77, musician, singer, songwriter with the Eagles, on July 26
Poco – Calico Lady (1969, on bass and backing vocals)
Eagles – Take It To The Limit (1975, on lead vocals, bass and as writer)
Eagles – Try And Love Again (1976, on lead vocals, bass and as writer)
Randy Meisner – Gotta Get Away (1980)

Bea Van der Maat, 62, Belgian singer, TV presenter and actress, on July 27

Jim Parker, 88, British TV music composer, on July 28
Sir John Betjeman – Slough (1981, as composer and producer)
Jim Parker – Francis Urquhart’s March (Theme of ‘House of Cards’) (1990, as composer)
Jim Parker – Theme of ‘Midsomer Murders’ (1997, as composer)

Tommi Stumpff, 65, German electro-punk musician, on July 28
Tommi Stumpff – Alarm (1982)

Edgar Pozzer, 84, Brazilian singer, on July 29

Manolo Miralles, 71, musician and singer with Spanish folk band Al Tall, on July 29
Al Tall – Cant de la Muixeranga (2009)

Paul ‘Peewee Herman’ Reubens, 70, American actor, on July 30
Peewee Herman – Surfin’ Bird (1987)

Alice Stuart, 81, blues and folk singer-songwriter and guitarist, on July 31
Alice Stuart – Woman Blue (1964)


Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – June 2023

July 4th, 2023 6 comments

It has been a fairly quiet month, certainly after last month’s havoc. Though it is a little bit spooky that within four days, the surviving brothers of bluegrass sibling duos died: first Jesse McReynolds of Jim & Jesse, then Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers. It was also a bad month for musicians who were also noted as artists: three of them left us this month.

The Songwriting Legend
With her life-long husband Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil was one of the great songwriters on the Brill Building scene, with Weil doing lyrics and Mann the music. Their big hits included Uptown, He’s Sure The Boy I Love (The Crystals), You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, You’re My Soul And Inspiration  (Righteous Brothers), On Broadway, Saturday Night At The Movies (The Drifters), Blame It On The Bossa Nova (Edye Gorme), Walking In The Rain (The Ronettes), Looking Through The Eyes Of Love (Gene Pitney, The Partridge Family), We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (The Animals), Kiss, Hungry (Paul Revere & The Raiders), I Just Can’t Help Believing (BJ Thomas, Elvis Presley),  Make Your Own Kind Of Music, It’s Getting Better (Mama Cass), Here You Come Again (Dolly Parton), Just Once (James Ingram), Black Butterfly (Deniece Williams), Never Gonna Let You Go (Sergio Mendes),  Somewhere Out There (James Ingram & Linda Ronstadt), and I Don’t Know Much (Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville).

Other hits Weil co-wrote without Mann include He’s So Shy (Pointer Sisters), Running With The Night, Love Will Conquer All (Lionel Richie), If Ever You’re in My Arms Again (Peabo Bryson), and Through The Fire (Chaka Khan).

Weil and Mann were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

The Bossa Nova Queen
The story of Astrud Gilberto is not a happy one. She charmed the world with her vocals for The Girl Of Ipanema, with the ghastly Stan Getz claiming, falsely, her to be a housewife whom he had discovered. In fact, Astrud had been in the studio with her husband João Gilberto, when (according to one story) the writer of the English text, this blog’s old ‘friend’ Norman Gimbel, suggested that Astrud night take the English vocals, since João couldn’t handle them.

Astrud was paid a nominal session fee of $120, and when the song became a mega hit, Stan Getz actively lobbied that Astrud not receive any royalties. But the asshole had her singing for him on tour, where he apparently was abusive towards her. Years later, Astrud recorded a disco version of the song; again she was excluded from sharing in the proceeds.

She recorded a number of albums, which included songs she had written, in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese, and toured extensively. Astrud retired in 2002, reportedly leaving the music industry with total disgust for it.

The Independence Singer
When Jamaica gained its independence from Britain in 1962, the theme song to the event, titled Independent Jamaica, was sung by an artist born in Trinidad, Lord Creator. The single was also the first-ever release by Island Records.

The man born as Kentrick Patrick had started out in Trinidad as a calypso artist, but he was a man of diverse genres: R&B, ska and rocksteady, all of which were foundation blocks for what would be called reggae. His big rocksteady hit in 1970, Kingston Town, went on to become a global hit in 1989 in the feckless version by UB40. Lord Creator’s career had mostly stopped after Kingston Town, but for all its dreadfulness, the UB40 hit not only revived his career but also set him up financially, as the song’s writer. Lord Creator received Jamaica’s Order Of Distinction last year.

The Actor
In February 1957, The Banana Boat Song was in the US Top 10 in two very different versions: one by Harry Belafonte, the other by folk trio The Tarriers, who added elements of another Jamaican song, Hill And Gully Rider, to their version. Belafonte’s version is now the standard, but it was The Tarriers’ take that was initially most often covered. Playing guitar and singing with the folk-trio was co-founder Alan Arkin, who went on to become a rightfully acclaimed actor. He also took part in the recording of the chart-topper Cindy Oh Cindy with Vince Martin before leaving the band for the stage and screen. For some time he sang on stage and was the guitarist of the children’s folk-music band The Baby Sitters. Then he hit the big screen.

The Originals Singer
In his career, Jack Lee never had a hit, neither with his short-lived proto-new wave band The Nerves nor as a solo artist. But he wrote and first recorded two big hits: Hangin’ On The Telephone, recorded in 1976 with The Nerves, was a global hit for Blondie in 1980. Lee re-recorded the song in 1982. Come Back And Stay, a solo effort in 1981, was a hit for Paul Young in 1983.

The Bluegrass Brother 1
In 2002, the brothers and bluegrass legends Jim & Jesse were diagnosed with cancer. Jim died later that year, breaking up a duo that had been performing for 55 years. Jesse McReynolds beat cancer and lived to the ripe age of 93.

The duo had recorded since 1952, but hit it big in the 1960s. Jesse played the mandolin with a self-invented crosspicking and split-string method. After Jim’s death, Jesse continued to record and perform with the duo’s long-time backing band, The Virginia Boys. With them, he incorporated music by the likes of Grateful Dead in their repertoire. Jesse was such a fan that he produced a tribute album to Gerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in 2010, with his grandson Garrett McReynolds on guitar.

The Bluegrass Brother 2
Within four days, the surviving brothers of great bluegrass sibling duos died: first Jesse McReynolds, then Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers, whose brother Sonny left us in October 2021. Within their genre, the Osbornes were innovators, introducing new harmony styles and instruments like drums (the first in bluegrass to do so), percussions and electronic instruments. Having first recorded in the 1950s, they were members of the Grand Ole Opry. Their 1967 hit Rocky Top was named an official Tennessee state song in 1982. After Sonny retired, Bobby continued to perform with two sons in his band Rocky Top X-press.

The Composer
If middle-aged adults in Europe with a jones for instrumentals bought two records in the 1970s, they might well have been 1974’s Dolannes Mélodie and Ballad Pour Adeline, a 1978 hit for Richard Clayderman. Both sings were composed by Paul De Senneville, who recorded the former with Olivier Toussaint, his songwriting partner, and trumpet player Jean-Claude Borelly. Those two tunes were everywhere in Europe! De Senneville had a background in scoring French films, even though he could neither read music nor play an instrument. He would hum his melodies into a tape recorder and had a pianist play the melodies.

With Toussaint, De Senneville wrote for French-speaking stars such as Mireille Mathieu, Michèle Torr, Christophe, Hervé Vilard, Dalida, and Claude François, selling more than 100 million records sold internationally.

In 1988, De Senneville founded Delphine Software International, a French video game company named after his daughter.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.


Jack Lee, 71 guitarist and songwriter with new wave band The Nerves, on May 26
The Nerves – Hanging On The Telephone (1976, also as writer)
Jack Lee – Come Back And Stay (1981, also as writer)
Jack Lee – Sex (1985)

Cynthia Weil, 82, legendary songwriter, on June 1
The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1965, as lyricist)
Mama Cass – It’s Getting Better (1969, as lyricist)
Dolly Parton – Here You Come Again  (1977, as lyricist)
Barry Mann – Don’t Know Much (1980, as lyricist)

Pacho El Antifeka, 42, Puerto Rican rapper, shot, on June 1

Roy Taylor, singer and bass player of Irish pop group Jump the Gun, on June 1
Jump The Gun – Take Him Home (1988)

Pedro Messone, 88, Chilean folk singer, composer, actor and fascist, on June 1

George Winston, 74, new age music pianist, on June 4
George Winston – Living In The Country (1991)

Dora María, 89, Mexican folk singer, on June 4

Astrud Gilberto, 83, Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer, on June 5
Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Corcovado (1963, on vocals)
Astrud Gilberto – O Morro (Não tem Vez) (1965)
Astrud Gilberto feat. Chet Baker – Far Away (1977, also as co-writer)
Astrud Gilberto & George Michael – Desafinado (1996)

Philippe Marcade, 68, singer of punk band The Senders, on June 5
The Senders – 6th Street (1981)

Tony McPhee, 79, guitarist of English blues-rock band The Groundhogs, on June 6
The Groundhogs – Soldier (1970, also as writer)

Peter Belli, 79, German-born Danish singer and actor, on June 8

Lee Clayton, 80, rock and country musician and composer, on June 12

Christy Dignam, 63, singer of Irish rock band Aslan, on June 13
Aslan – This Is (1986)

Blackie Onassis, 57, drummer and songwriter with alt.rock band Urge Overkill, on June 13
Urge Overkill – Sister Havana (1993)

Sylvan Morris, 74, reggae sound engineer, on June 17
Dandy Livingstone – No Matter What The Question (1978, as engineer)

Dan Lardner, singer and guitarist of indie band QTY, announced June 15
QTY – Cold Nights (2017)

Sergey Kolchin, 45, guitarist of Russian rock band Zemlyane, on June 15

Don Kloetzke, 71, folk-rock musician and artist, on June 15
White Duck – Black-Eyed Susan (1972, as member on keyboards)

Luiz Schiavon, 64, keyboardist of Brazilian rock band RPM, on June 15
RPM – Rádio Pirata (Ao Vivo) (1985)

Dave Maclean, 78, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on June 17
Dave Maclean – We Said Goodbye (1974)

Teresa ‘Nervosa’ Taylor, 60, drummer of the Butthole Surfers, on June 18
Butthole Surfers – Cherub (1984)

Krzysztof Olesiński, 70, bass player of Polish rock band Maanam, on June 18

Big Pokey, 45, American rapper, on June 18
Big Pokey – Hardest Pit (1999)

Ryan Siew, 26, guitarist of Australian metalcore band Polaris, on June 19

Max Morath, 96, ragtime pianist, composer, TV presenter and author, on June 19
Max Morath – Hello, Ma Baby (1964)

Paolo Zavallone, 90, Italian singer and composer, on June 20
El Pasador – Amada mia, amore mia (1977, as El Pasador)

Choi Sung-bong, 33, South Korean pop singer, on June 20

John Waddington, 63, guitarist of English rock band The Pop Group, on June 20
The Pop Group – She Is Beyond Good And Evil (1979, also as co-writer)

Peter Brötzmann, 82, German free jazz saxophonist, on June 22

Robert Black, 67, electric and double bass player, on June 22

Jesse McReynolds, 93, half of bluegrass duo Jim & Jesse, on June 23
Jim & Jesse – Diesel On My Tail (1967)
Jim & Jesse – Ashes Of Love (1976)
The Virginia Boys – Where the Soul Never Dies (2017, as leader)

Sheldon Harnick, 99, lyricist and songwriter, on June 23
Zero Mostel – If I Were A Rich Man (1964, as lyricist)

Paul de Senneville, 89, French composer and producer, on June 23
Paul De Senneville & Olivier Toussaint – Dolannes Mélodie (1974)
Richard Clayderman – Ballad Pour Adeline (1977, as composer and producer)

Lee Rauch, 58, founding drummer of Megadeth, on June 23

Claude Barzotti, 69, Belgian singer, on June 24
Claude Barzotti – Le Rital (1981)

Ysabelle Lacamp, 68, French singer, actress and author, on June 26
Ysabelle Lacamp – Baby Bop (1987)

Carmen Sevilla, 92, Spanish actress, singer and dancer, on June 27

Bobby Osborne, 91, half of bluegrass duo Osborne Brothers, on June 27
Osborne Brothers – Once More (1958)
Osborne Brothers – Tennessee Hound Dog (1967)
Osborne Brothers & Mac Wiseman – Midnight Flyer (1972)

Alan Arkin, 89, actor and guitarist-singer with folk group The Tarriers, on July 29
The Tarriers – The Banana Boat Song (1956)
Vince Martin with The Tarriers – Cindy, Oh Cindy (1957)

Anita Wood, 85, American singer, actress, Elvis’ ex-girlfriend, on June 29
Elvis Presley & Anita Wood – I Can’t Help It (1958, home recording)
Anita Wood – I’ll Wait Forever (1961)

Lord Creator, 87, Trinidadian-Jamaican singer-songwriter, on June 30
Lord Creator – The Cockhead (1956)
Lord Creator – Independent Jamaica (1962)
Lord Creator – Kingston Town (1969)

Rick Froberg, 55, indie musician and artist, on June 30
Drive Like Jehu – Bullet Train To Vegas (1992, as member)

Monte Cazazza, 68, artist and industrial music composer, on June 30
Monte Cazazza – To Mom On Mother’s Day (1979)

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – May 2023

June 5th, 2023 13 comments

After a brutal start, with Gordon Lightfoot and Linda Lewis leaving us within a couple of days of one another, May ambled along relatively easily, and then became hectic again three weeks in, before the Reaper took his foot of his lethal pedal.

It was a bad month for bassists: within one week, we lost Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, heavy metal bassist Algy Ward (who in 1979 also was a member of The Damned), session bassist John Giblin (who played on many songs you probably know), South African jazz bassist Musa Manzini — and Chas Newby.

Chas Newby might have been a member of the Fab Five! After Stu Sutcliffe dropped out of the Beatles to stay in Hamburg, Newby filled in on bass for him. Before the group’s second trip to Hamburg, Chas was asked to join the band. Newby declined in order to go to university, and McCartney reluctantly took over bass duties. Newby went on to become a maths teacher. But it might have been John, Paul, George, Chas and Ringo…

The Acid Queen
There really isn’t much left to say about Tina Turner. I posted a mix of covers by Tina Turner (with and without Ike) the day after her death at 83, and offered some thoughts about Tina (whose name I stubbornly mistyped as Tuna). Get it here.

Featured here is her first-ever released single from 1958, on which she was billed as Little Ann, given that her real name was Anna Mae Bullock. Not very well known is that Tina was also a songwriter, especially towards the end of her time with Ike. Much of their 1974 album Sweet Rhode Island Red was written by Tina. Two of her works feature here, including a track on which we hear the singer in full-blown soul-gospel mode.

The Singer-Songwriter
Likewise, I have already paid tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, who died on May 1 at 84, by way of a Songbook. Lightfoot was one of many legends in the field of singing-songwriting, at a time when that genre was in its prime. Canada gave us four of these legends: Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Lightfoot.

I don’t know whether the Turner and Lightfoot mixes were in any way welcome (or the Prince Songbook, or the Power Ballads). The new filehosting service I use provides no stats, unlike Zippyshare, which used to give me a good idea as to what was popular and what was more niche. And without comments from readers, and that function has not been used much lately, I have no idea what hits and what misses.

The Songbird
As mentioned, the month of May kicked off in a nasty way. First Lightfoot died, two days later Linda Lewis. The English singer had an incredible range, in terms of voice — it is said that her range topped even that of Minnie Riperton — and of musical styles. She fused folk, soul and funk effortlessly.

On some of her early songs, Linda’s voice is just a little too high, too childlike for my taste. I call it the Joni Syndrome. Take the chorus of her hit Rock A Doodle Doo, which spoils a decent song for me. When she dropped her voice a little, it was gorgeous. Check out the featured Love Love Love from the aptly titled and very good Not A Little Girl Anymore album from 1975. It also shows off her fine songwriting skills.

Later she had a superb dance track in 1984 with Class/Style (I’ve Got It), which should have been a huge hit but inexplicably wasn’t.

Lewis also sang back-up for acts like David Bowie (on the Aladdin Sane album), Cat Stevens, Rick Wakeman, Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel, Rod Stewart, and later Joan Armatrading, Turin Brakes, Fatboy Slim, Paul Weller and Oasis.

The Smith
With the death at only 59 of Andy Rourke, bassist of The Smiths, huge numbers of Gen-Xers have lost a co-creator of a sound that accompanied them in dark times. No matter that Morrissey these days is an insufferable ass, The Smiths are giants in 1980s music.

Of course, the focus was on the frontman and guitarist Johnny Marr. Quite likely, only Smiths fans could easily name the other two (can you name the drummer?). But make no mistake Rourke’s bass drives the music. Just think of the oppressive bassline in How Soon Is Now, without which Marr’s meowing guitar would seem gratuitous. Marr has acknowledged Rourke’s huge contribution to the Smiths sound, noting that the two funk fans played off one another.

After the band split, Rourke was involved in various projects, including a Mancunian supergroup called Freebass with fellow bass players Mani (Stone Roses) and Peter Hook (New Order). He backed acts like the Pretenders, Killing Joke, Badly Drawn Boy and Ian Brown, as well as his old Smiths colleague Morrissey on hits like November Spawned A Monster, Interesting Drug, and The Last Of The Famous International Playboys. Rourke’s last band was the rock band D.A.R.K., with the late ex-Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan on lead vocals

Oh, and the drummer was Mike Joyce.

The Session Bassist
Not only The Smiths mourned the loss of a bassist, but also acts like Kate Bush, Phil Collins, Chris de Burgh, and Peter Gabriel. Scottish bassist Jon Giblin, who has died at 71, played on hits such as Bush’s Babooshka, and Collins’ In The Air Tonight and You Can’t Hurry Love, Annie Lennox’s Why, and De Burgh’s Don’t Pay The Ferryman and Lady In Red. He was especially active on many Kate Bush albums since 1980.

Giblin also backed acts like Simple Minds, Elkie Brooks, Paul McCartney, Stephen Bishop, Hugh Masekela, Jon Anderson, Marcia Hines, John Martyn, Donovan, Johnny Hallyday, Judie Tzuke, Jim Capaldi, Annie Lennox, Mavis Staples, Alan Parsons, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Richard Ashcroft, Papa Wemba, The Everly Brothers, Brand X, Scott Walker, David Sylvian, Fish, Tanita Tikaram, Joan Armatrading, and many others.

The Soul Blower
If you hear any number of Stax or Stax-recorded tracks that feature horns by the likes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, King Curtis, Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin and so on, you’ll probably hear the baritone sax of Floyd Newman, who has died at 91. Newman was a member of the Stax houseband The Mar-Keys and the Memphis Horns.

Newman played in the 1940s with BB King and toured in the 1950s with Sam Cooke before he formed a live band that also included future Stax legend Isaac Hayes, whom he later backed on many albums. Hayes also played on Newman’s one single release, 1964’s Frog Stomp, on Stax.

The Ska Pioneer
With the passing of alto saxophonist Lester Sterling, only one of the ten founding member of Jamaica’s influential band The Skatalites is still alive. Apart from pioneering ska music, the band also backed many future reggae legends, including Prince Buster and, on their first single (titled Simmer Down), Bob Marley & The Wailers.

After The Skatalites first split in 1965, Sterling joined up with Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, and also released several solo records and other collaborations. When The Skatalites reformed in the mid-1970s, Sterling rejoined the band and remained its one constant member over the next few decades.

The In-Crowd Drummer
With the death of drummer Redd Holt, all three members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio are now gone into the Great Jazz Club in the Sky. Holt and double-bassist Eldee Young, who died in 2007, played with Lewis (whom we lost in September last year) for ten years, scoring hits such The In-Crowd, Wade In The Water and Hang On Sloopy.

In 1967 Holt and Young split from Lewis to form their own group, Young-Holt Unlimited. They had a huge hit in 1969 with Soulful Strut, basically the instrumental backing track plus piano solo of Barbara Acklin’s song Am I The Same Girl — on which neither Young or Holt are said to have played (blame the record company for that scheme). Young and Holt continued to record together for several years, and Holt also released a number of solo albums.

The Teenage Pioneer
He was only 15 years old when Dickie Harrell drummed on one of rock & roll’s defining pioneer hits, 1956’s Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. Vincent’s vocals and Cliff Gallup’s guitar solo are the focal of this great rockabilly song. But Harrell’s two screams, at 37 seconds and again at 1:31, help give it that anarchic rock & roll sensibility. Harrell later said that he screamed so that his mom could hear him on record.

Dickie toured with Vincent for just a year, and left the Blue Caps after scoring another huge hit with Blue Jean Bop. He released one album, a Latin dance effort titled Drums And More Drums, in 1961, and would occasionally play with surviving Blue Caps. But much of his life was spent in the less glamorous domain of hazardous waste.

The Spike Composer
Perhaps Bill Lee is best-known as the composer of the scores for the first four films of his son Spike Lee, with whom he had a complicated relationship. But by then, Bill had accumulated an impressive string of credits as a session man, especially on folk records in the 1960s. As a bassist, he backed Odetta, Bob Dylan, Ian & Sylvia, Peter Paul & Mary, Theodore Bikel, Tom Rush, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, The Chad Mitchell Trio, Tom Paxton and others. He also played on Gordon Lightfoot’s debut album, including the featured For Lovin’ Me.

Outside folk, he backed acts like (pre-soul) Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Ray Bryant Trio, and John Lee Hooker. But his revival came when he scored Spike’s films She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and Mo’ Better Blues. The scoring ended when Bill and Lee had a falling out.

The Cream Poet
Pete Brown is probably best remembered as the lyricist of Cream hits such as Sunshine Of Your Love, White Room, I Feel Free, and SWLABR. Before all that he was a performance poet; after writing for Cream, he became a recording artist.

The first band he founded was Pete Brown and His Battered Ornaments. The day before the band was to open for the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, the band fired its founder — and with that the first part of its name. He was replaced by Chris Spedding. Brown kept recording, releasing his final album in 2010. In 2017, he contributed lyrics Procol Harum’s final album, Novum.

The Ames Brother
With the death at 95 of Ed Ames, all of easy listening quartet The Ames Brothers are now gone. They started their recording career in 1948 and had their biggest hits in the early and mid-1950s, including Rag Mop, Sentimental Me, You You You, Undecided, The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane, and Tammy (their version and Debbie Reynolds’ both featured in the film of that name).

Ed Ames went on to have a number of easy listening solo hits in the 1960s, but was maybe more famous for playing the Native American Mingo in the TV series Daniel Boone. (Casting the son of Ukrainian Jews as an indigenous American made perfect sense in the ’60s, apparently.)

It is with that background that in 1965 Ames appeared on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, tasked with showing off his tomahawk-throwing skills. Aiming at the drawn outline of a cowboy, the tomahawk got stuck almost exactly in the cowboy’s crotch — handle pointing upwards. It got one of the longest laughs in TV history, milked by Carson, who then riffed on the notion of circumcision. “I didn’t even know you were Jewish,” Carson exclaimed — which, of course, Ames was.  See the clip here.

The Net Slipper
Some deaths slip through the net. I learnt only in May of the passing on January 27 of Daniel Boone, who had a massive global hit in 1972 with Beautiful Sunday. His death was reported only in March. Beautiful Sunday featured on Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1, which was posted almost exactly a year before Boone’s death at the age of 80. It was his second and final big hit; the first had been in 1971 with Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast, a hit in the US for Wayne Newton, which in Boone’s original recording reached #17 in the UK and topped the charts in South Africa. By all accounts, Boone (born Peter Green) was a delightful person to know6.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.

Daniel Boone, 80, English pop singer, on January 27
Daniel Boone – Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast (1971)
Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday (German Version) (1972)

Gordon Lightfoot, 84, Canadian singer-songwriter, on May 1
Gordon Lightfoot – For Lovin’ Me (1966)
Gordon Lightfoot – Looking At The Rain (1972)
Gordon Lightfoot – Carefree Highway (1974)
Gordon Lightfoot – Triangle (1982)

Pugh Rogefeldt, 76, Swedish musician, on May 1

Linda Lewis, 72, English singer-songwriter, on May 3
Linda Lewis – You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet (1967)
Linda Lewis – On The Stage (1973)
Linda Lewis – Love, Love, Love (1975)
Linda Lewis – Class/Style (I’ve Got It) (1984)

John Albert, 58, ex-member of punk band Bad Religion, music journalist, on May 3

Rob Laakso, 44, indie multi-instrumentalist and producer, on May 4
Kurt Vile – Lost My Head There (2015, on bass and as producer and engineer)

Jack Wilkins, 78, jazz guitarist, on May 5

Seán Keane, 76, fiddler with Irish folk band The Chieftains, on May 7
The Chieftains – Lord Mayo (1973)
The Chieftains with Jackson Browne – The Rebel Jesus (1991)

Rita Lee, 75, singer with Brazilian rock band Os Mutantes, on May 8
Rita Lee – Calma (1970)

Jon Povey, 80, keyboardist of UK rock band The Pretty Things, on May 9
The Pretty Things – Baron Saturday (1969)

Stu James, 77, lead singer of British beat group The Mojos, music executive, on May 10
The Mojos – Everything’s Al’right (1964)

Rolf Harris, 93, Australian entertainer, singer, convicted sex offender, on May 10
…no fucking way…

Francis Monkman, 73, musician and co-founder of Curved Air, Sky, and composer, on May 11
Curved Air – Melinda (More Or Less)
Sky – Toccata (1980)

Dum-Dum, 54, rapper with Brazilian hip hop group Facção Central, on May 12

John ‘Doc’ Wilson, 96, jazz trumpeter and arranger, on May 13

John Giblin, 71, Scottish bass player, on May 14
Kate Bush – Babooshka (1980, on bass)
Phil Collins – Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away (1982, on bass)
David Sylvian – Wanderlust (1999, on bass)

Bernt Rosengren, 85, Swedish jazz tenor saxophonist, on May 14

Musa Manzini, 52, South African jazz bassist, on May 15
Musa Manzini – Renaissance Song (2000)

Richard Landis, 77, singer-songwriter, producer, label executive, on May 16
Richard Landis – Natural Causes (1972, also as writer)
Juice Newton – Queen Of Hearts (1981, as producer)

Lester Sterling, 87, Jamaican saxophonist, co-founder of The Skatalites, on May 16
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Simmer Down (1963, as backing musician)
Prince Buster & The Skatalites – Mule Train (1964)
Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole – Bangarang (1969, also as writer)

Akwaboah Snr., Ghanaian singer-songwriter, on May 16

Algy Ward, 63, English heavy metal and punk bassist, on May 17
Tank – Turn Your Head Around (1982, also as co-writer)

Andy Rourke, 59, bassist of The Smiths, on May 19
The Smiths – This Charming Man (1984)
The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (1986)
Freebass – You Don’t Know (This About Me) (2010, as member on guitar & co-writer)

Pete Brown, 82, lyricist, singer and poet, on May 19
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love (1967, as lyricist)
Pete Brown & Piblokto! – Living Life Backwards (1969, on vocals and as lyricist)
Pete Brown & Phil Ryan – Dark City Coals (1993, on vocals and as lyricist)

Josef Aichberger, 87, Austrian trombone and flugelhorn player in dance hall/jazz band Die Rhythmiker, on May 20

Ed Ames, 95, singer and TV actor, on May 21
Ames Brothers – If You Had All The World And Its Gold (1948, as member)
Eddie Ames – The Bean Song (Which Way To Boston) (1956)
Ed Ames – Timeless Love (1967)

Peter Luboff, 77, soul songwriter, on May 21
Bobby Womack – I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much (1985, as co-writer)

Kirk Arrington, 61, drummer of metal band Metal Church, on May 22

James Lewis, 63, singer with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, on May 22
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Who I Am (2015)

Sheldon Reynolds, 63, funk and soul guitarist, vocalist, on May 23
The Commodores – Night Shift (1985, as member on guitar
Earth, Wind Fire – Wanna Be The Man (1990, as member and co-writer)

Floyd Newman, 91, soul saxophonist with the Mar-Keys, on May 23
Mar-Keys – Last Night (1961, also on vocals)
Floyd Newman – Frog Stomp (1963, also as writer)
Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind (1967, on baritone sax)
Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (1967, live at Monterrey)

Redd Holt, 91, jazz drummer (Ramsey Lewis Trio; Young-Holt Unlimited), on May 23
James Moody – Last Train From Overbrook (1958, on drums)
Ramsey Lewis Trio – Hang On Sloopy (1965)
Young-Holt Unlimited – Who’s Making Love Strut (1968)

Mark Adams, 64, bassist of metal band Saint Vitus, on May 23

Tina Turner, 83, soul, rock and pop singer, on May 24
Ike Turner, Carlson Olivier & Little Ann – Boxtop (1958, as Little Ann)
Ike & Tina Tuner – I Am A Motherless Child (1968, also as co-writer)
Ike & Tina Turner – Feel Good (1972, also as writer)
Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together (1983)

Bill Lee, 94, jazz and folk musician and film composer, father of Spike, on May 24
Odetta – Jumpin’ Judy (1959, on string-bass)
Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (1965, on bass)
Gordon Lightfoot – For Lovin’ Me (1966, on bass; see above)
Bill Lee feat. Branford Marsalis – Malcolm And Martin (1989, as composer and conductor)

George Maharis, 94, actor and singer, on May 24
George Maharis – Teach Me Tonight (1962)

Jean-Louis Murat, 71, French singer-songwriter, on May 25
Jean-Louis Murat – Si je devais manquer de toi (1987)

Joy McKean, 93, Australian country singer and songwriter, wife if Slim Dusty, on May 25
Slim Dusty – The Biggest Disappointment (1974, as writer)

Juan Carlos Formell, 59, Cuban singer and songwriter, on May 26

Reuben Wilson, 88, jazz organist, on May 26
Reuben Wilson – Got To Get Your Own (1975)

Eris O’Brien, Australian country songwriter, announced May 31

Dickie Harrell, 82, drummer of Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, announced May 31
Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Be-Bop-A-Lula (1956)
Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Bluejean Bop! (1957)
Dickie Harrell – Rock-Rock-Cha-Cha (1961)

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – April 2023

May 4th, 2023 1 comment

Apart from the passing of Harry Belafonte, and outside of music, the headliner in April was Al Jaffee, the Mad magazine artist who offered us the ingenious fold-ins, the Clever Answers To Stupid Questions and a range of crazy inventions which Elon Musk might have paid billions for. The man reached the age of 102! On the flip side, also departing this mortal coil in April was Carolyn Bryant, the Mississippi woman whose false claims of sexual harassment led to the lynching if Emmett Till.

You can see how the fold-in for “Rock Hits of Yesteryear” turned out in the included PDF or on my Facebook (are you a friend yet to keep up to date with what gets posted here?). RIP, Al Jaffee!

The Activist
At this point, there isn’t really much to add to the many obits for Harry Belafonte. Three things strike me as worth raising, however. Firstly, the man had integrity and courage. At the height of his Hollywood career, he walked away from it, because he believed the roles he was offered were demeaning. He might have been a bigger movie star even than Sydney Poitier, had he played their game. But he put his personal integrity first. That is admirable.

Not getting much play in the obituaries was his engagement in the struggle against apartheid, no doubt fuelled by his marriage to Miriam Makeba. But that commitment outlasted their brief marriage, and it found expression in his music much as the calypso did in his earlier recordings. When in 1988 he released an album partly recorded in Johannesburg, using South African musicians, nobody pulled a Paul Simon on him and accused him of breaking the cultural boycott. Belafonte’s commitment to South Africa, unlike that of some other anti-apartheid artists, continued long beyond the apartheid era.

Belafonte was also committed to the rest of Africa, it musicians and its people. In December 1984, he initiated the project that would become We Are The World and culminate in Live Aid. Unlike Bob Geldof in Britain, Belafonte didn’t put himself he centre of the thing. The story of USA For Africa was briefly recounted in the entry for the late Ken Kragen in In Memoriam – December 2021.

The Sultry Voice
The sultry voice of April Stevens has fallen silent. Born Carol LoTempio, she was best known for her duets with brother Nino Tempo, such as the 1960s hits All Strung Out, Deep Purple and Whispering.

But Stevens also had a successful solo career before that, kicking off in 1951 with the Cole Porter song I’m In Love Again. More hits followed, such as Gimme A Little Kiss Will Ya, Huh?, and And So To Sleep Again. Her most notorious hit was 1959’s Teach Me Tiger, which was considered too sensual for airplay in the puritanical USA. It was later covered by artists such as Peggy Lee and Sofie Tucker.

Stevens continued to record and perform throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but her popularity waned in the 1980s. She also appeared in several films and TV shows, including The Interns, The Red Skelton Hour, and The Love Boat.

The Cool Jazz Pioneer
With the death at 92 of Ahmad Jamal, jazz has lost another of its pioneers. The Pittsburgh-born jazz pianist, known to his school teachers as Frederick Jones, was a pioneer of the “cool jazz” movement. By the time he was 21, in 1951, he was recording with the trio named after him. With their hit Poinciana, the Ahmad Jamal Trio became one of the most popular jazz acts of their time.

In 2017, Jamal received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, one of many awards he accumulated over his long career.

The Experimenter
With the death of English musician, composer and producer Mark Stewart, music has lost a pioneer in alternative and experimental music. With his punk band The Pop Group and in his solo work, Stewart pushed the boundaries of pop music.

The Pop Group fused punk, funk, free jazz and dub influences. Its politically charged lyrics and confrontational performances helped to establish them as a major voice in the punk scene.

After The Pop Group split in 1981, Stewart continued to experiment with industrial, hip-hop and electronic music, and collaborated with acts like Tricky, Massive Attack and, just a couple of years ago, Jah Wobble. He also produced albums for artists such as Primal Scream and The Raincoats.

The Dub Pioneer
He might not have been a household name, but Jah Shaka had a huge influence on the development of dub music and other forms of dance music, with his heavy, bass-driven sound and his use of custom-built sound systems in his live performances.

Known to his mom as Clifton George Bailey III, the Jamaican-born Jah Shaka was instrumental (as it were) in popularising dub music in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s, and his sound system performances helped shape British reggae during that time.

Jah Shaka was also a social and political activist, with his lyrics often addressing themes of social injustice and resistance.

The Multi-instrumentalist
Session musician Ian Bairnson, who has died at 69, has had a namecheck before on this blog. In my collection of favourite guitar solos, his axemanship featured on Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. Formerly a member of Pilot, whose great song was Magic but biggest hit the inferior January, Bairnson was a sought-after session musician, and featured on every Alan Parsons Project album, right up to the last one, in 2019.

Apart from Bush, he also backed acts like Jon Anderson, Mick Fleetwood, Joe Cocker, Jon Anderson, Chris DeBurgh, Bucks Fizz, and Neil Diamond.

The ABBA Axeman
It cannot be said that ABBA’s music is predicated on heavy guitar riffs or face-contorting solos, and yet in their songs, there always is place for a bit of electric guitar. Most often, that was the work of Lasse Wellander, who accompanied the group in the studio and on stage. He arguably did his best work on ABBA’s 1977 LP The Album, notably on The Name Of The Game and Eagle. On the latter he even got a solo. He also played on hits like Knowing Me Knowing You (that lovely recurring guitar shape), Fernando, Take A Chance On Me, Summer Night City, Chiquitita, Gimme Gimme Gimme, The Winner Takes It All, Does Your Mother Know, One Of Us, and many others.

During and after ABBA, Wellander also released solo albums, and a rather fine LP with Swedish singer Mats Ronander. He also contributed to the Chess album (including the UK #1 I Know Him So Well), the Mamma Mia musical, various solo efforts by Agnetha, and ABBA’s 2021 comeback album.

The Discoverer
It takes something to start a small record label and go on to launch the careers of two hugely influential acts in different genres of pop. Seymour Stein, co-founder of Sire Records, did that with the Ramones and almost a decade later with Madonna. He also signed seminal acts like the Talking Heads and Ice-T, and gave US contracts to the UK-based likes of The Smiths, Depeche Mode, The Cure and the Pretenders. But he also managed to reject Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s! It is said that Stein came up with the term “new wave” to counteract the word “punk”, which he disliked.

As a teenager in 1958, he worked at Billboard magazine, at a time when it developed its charts. Later he formed a partnership with Leiber & Stoller and was a denizen of the Brill Building music publishing scene. There he met producer Richard Gottehrer, with whom he founded Sire in 1966.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.

Dario Campeotto, 84, Danish singer, entertainer and actor, on April 1

Seymour Stein, 80, co-founder of Sire Records, on April 2
Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop (1976, as label owner)
Madonna – Everybody (1982, as label owner)

Rena Koumioti, 81, Greek pop singer, on April 3
Rena Koumioti – Dose Mou To Stoma Sou (1970)

Jack Vreeswijk, 59, Swedish singer and composer, on April 3

Vivian Trimble, 59, keyboardist of alt.rock band Luscious Jackson, on April 4
Luscious Jackson – Naked Eye (1996)

Andrew Laing, drummer of UK punk band Cockney Rejects, on April 4

Booker Newberry III, 67, soul singer and keyboardist, on April 5
Sweet Thunder – ‎I Leave You Stronger (1979, as lead singer)
Booker Newberry III – Love Town (1983)

Duško Gojković, 91, Serbian jazz trumpeter, composer, on April 5

Paul Cattermole, 46, singer with British pop group S Club 7, on April 6
S Club 7 – Don’t Stop Movin’ (2001)

Harrison Bankhead, 68, jazz double bassist, on April 6

Lasse Wellander, 70, Swedish guitarist with ABBA, on April 7
ABBA – Eagle (1977, on lead guitar)
Wellander & Ronander – EMH 870 (1978)
Agnetha Fältskog – Wrap Your Arms Around Me (1983, on guitar)
ABBA – Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (live) (released 1986)

John Regan, 71, bassist with rock band Frehley’s Comet, on April 8
Billy Idol – To Be A Lover (1988, on bass)

Kidd Jordan, 87, jazz saxophonist, on April 7

Ian Bairnson, 69, Scottish multi-instrumentalist (Alan Parsons Project), on April 7
Pilot – Magic (1974)
Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights (1978, on electric guitar)
Alan Parsons Project – Damned If I Do (1979, on electric guitar)

Guy Bailey, guitarist and songwriter with UK rock band The Quireboys, on April 7
The Quireboys – Hey You (1989, also as co-writer)

Bob Heatlie, 76, Scottish songwriter and producer, on April 8
Shakin’ Stevens – Cry Just A Little Bit (1983, as writer)

Chuck Morris, 46, percussionist of electronic band Lotus, found on April 9

Cynara, 78, singer with Brazilian girl band Quarteto em Cy, on April 11
Quarteto em Cy – Pedro Pedreiro (1964)

Jah Shaka, 75, Jamaican dub/reggae musician and producer, on April 12
Jah Shaka – Conquering Lion (1980)
Jah Shaka – I And I Survive (1982)

Doug Tibbles, 83, drummer of The Stone Coyotes and TV writer, on April 12

Mark Sheehan, 46, guitarist and songwriter with Irish group The Script, on April 14
The Script – The Man Who Can’t Be Moved (2008, also as co-writer)
The Script feat. – Hall Of Fame (2012, also as co-writer)

Cliff Fish, 73, bassist of British pop group Paper Lace, on April 14
Paper Lace – Billy, Don’t Be A Hero (1974)

Peter Badie, 97, jazz bass player, on April 15
Lionel Hampton – Perdido (live) (1956, on double bass)

Ahmad Jamal, 92, jazz pianist, on April 16
Ahmad Jamal Trio – Poinciana (live, 1958)
Ahmad Jamal Trio – Falling In Love With Love (live, 1961)
Ahmad Jamal – Déjà Vu (1980)

Ivan Conti, 76, drummer of Brazilian jazz band Azymuth, on April 17
Azymuth – Manha (1972)

April Stevens, 93, pop and jazz singer, on April 17
April Stevens – I’m In Love Again (1951)
April Stevens – Teach Me Tiger (1959)
Nino Tempo & April Stevens – Deep Purple (1963)

Federico Salvatore, 63, Italian singer-songwriter and comedian, on April 19

Otis Redding III, 59, singer-guitarist with soul band The Reddings, son of Otis, on April 20
The Reddings – Remote Control (1980)

Moonbin, 25, South Korean singer with boy band Astro, on April 19

Mark Stewart, 62, English post-punk musician and songwriter, on April 21
The Pop Group – She Is Beyond Good And Evil (1979)
Mark Stewart – Stranger Than Love (1987)
Jah Wobble feat. Mark Stewart – A Very British Coup (2020)

Barry Humphries, 89, Australian comedian (Dame Edna Everage), on April 22
Dame Edna Everage – Every Mother Wants A Boy Like Elton (1978)

Keith Gattis, 52, country singer, songwriter, in tractor accident on April 23
Keith Gattis – El Cerrito Place (2005, also as writer)

Isaac Wiley Jr, 69, drummer of funk band Dazz Band, on April 23
The Dazz Band – Let It Whip (1982)
The Dazz Band – Swoop (I’m Yours) (1983)

Lilian Day Jackson, 63, US-born singer of Dutch disco band Spargo, on April 24
Spargo – You And Me (1980)

Harry Belafonte, 96, singer, actor, and civil rights activist, on April 25
Harry Belafonte – Suzanne (1956)
Harry Belafonte & Miriam Makeba – Give Us Our Land (1965)
Harry Belafonte – New York Taxi (1977)
Harry Belafonte – Capetown (1988)

MoneySign Suede, 22, American rapper, stabbed on April 25

Ralph Humphrey, 79, drummer with The Mothers of Invention (1973-74), on April 25
The Mothers – Camarillo Brillo (1973)

Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson, 97, R&B singer-songwriter, on April 25
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson – Red Hot (1955)

Wee Willie Harris, 90, English rock & roll singer, on April 27
Wee Willie Harris – Rockin At The Two I’s (1957)

Claude Gray, 91, country singer-songwriter, on April 28
Claude Gray – I’ll Just Have A Cup of Coffee (Then I’ll Go) (1960)

Johnny Fean, 71, guitarist of Irish Celtic rock group Horslips, on April 28
Horslips – Faster Than The Hound (1973)

Tim Bachman, 71, founding guitarist of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, on April 28
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Let It Ride (1973)

Helge Engelke, 61, guitarist of German hard rock band Fair Warning, on April 28
Fair Warning – When Love Fails (1992, also as writer)

Broderick Smith, 75, English-born Australian musician, on April 30
Broderick Smith’s Big Combo – Faded Roses (1981)


Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – March 2023

April 4th, 2023 14 comments

At the end of March, something died: Zippyshare, the fileserver that served this place so well for eight years. So I’ve spent some time reupping stuff, including almost everything from 2021 onwards, including all Life in Vinyls, Songbooks, Any Major Flute, Recovered albums, and lots of Beatles-related stuff, including the Recovered and Reunited series. The In Memoriams for January and February are also live. If there’s anything you’d like reupped, let me know in comments.

And so to this month’s list. The songs chosen to accompany the monthly In Memoriam list don’t necessarily carry my approval; many are chosen because I like them, and some I might not like but they are representative of the person who has left us. One track here I really can’t figure out whether I utterly despise and totally reject it or whether secretly like it despite myself: Barnes & Barnes’ Party In My Pants. In the chronological playlist, it follows a quite wonderfully titled track, by country supergroup The Notorious Cherry Bombs: It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long, written and sung by Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill.

Of the non-music deaths on March, the one that struck me was the passing of Traute Lafrenz at the age of 103. Traute almost didn’t get to live 77 years of those, for she almost certainly would have been executed by the Nazis but for a few fate-deciding days.

Traute was a member of the White Rose resistant movement, led by the siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl. Traute had a romance with Hans in Munich before she returned to her native Hamburg. There she was arrested by the Gestapo, but was able to talk herself out of the crime of distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets (a crime for which the Scholls and others were executed). Having served a year-long prison-term for knowing about underground activities, Traute was rearrested by the Gestapo and charged with sedition. But three days before her (no doubt short and fatal) trial could commence, the prison in which she was held was liberated by the Allies.

After the war, Traute moved to the US where she completed her medical studies, got married and had four children. Traute Lafrenz was the last surviving member of the White Rose.

The Wrecking Crew Drummer
Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon has died, bringing to a close one of the most fascinating stories in pop. Gordon drummed on a huge amount of classics in the 1960s and ’70s, but his best-known contribution might be the piano coda the drummer wrote for and played on Derek & The Dominoes’ Layla (though Rita Coolidge has claimed lately, credibly, that she actually composed that bit). A few years ago I compiled two collections of tracks Gordon played on, with a bit of background to the man: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. (Links to both sets are live.)

In the film Goodfellas, in which Scorsese used songs rather than a score, there are four tracks which provide me with a replay of the scenes they scored: Atlantis (Billy Bats gets kicked to death), Sunshine Of Your Love (De Niro plans to kill off his accomplices), Layla (the accomplices’ bodies are found), and Jump Into Into The Fire (the helicopter chase begins). Three of those songs — Atlantis, Layla, Inti The Fire — featured Jim Gordon. And Gordon knew violence.

Gordon spent more than half of his life in a closed psychiatric facility after he bludgeoned his mother to death in 1983. The “voices” told him to. Gordon, normally a kicked-back kind of guy, was schizophrenic and thus given to inexplicable bouts of violence — one of these put an end to his relationship with Coolidge. The longer story of that is told in the notes fir the mixes referred to above.

Some songs Gordon played on: Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain, Steely Dan’s Rikki Don’t You Lose That Number, The Stone Poney’s Different Drum, Hall & Oates’ Sara Smile, John Lennon’s Power To The People, Mason Williams’ Classical Gas, Gordon Lightfoot’s Carefree Highway, Albert Hammond’s Free Electric Band, Maria Muldaur’s Midnight At The Oasis, among many other well-known songs.

He played on Crosby Stills & Nash eponymous debut album, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (on “I’m Waiting For The Day”; Hal Blaine did the rest), The Byrds’ The Notorious Byrd Brothers, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Schmilsson, Lennon’s Imagine, Traffic’s The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, Jackson Browne’s The Pretender, Joe Cockers’ Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Judee Sill’s Heart Food, Traffic’s The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys. Barbra Streisand’s Barbra Joan Streisand, and loads more.

The Jazz Pioneer
With his group Weather Report, saxophonist Wayne Shorter helped usher in the age of jazz-fusion. Before that, having previously been a member of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, he played in the second of Miles Davis’ Great Quintets, covering the era from 1964-69, for which he also composed. With Herbie Hancock on piano, Davis and Shorter experimented with free jazz, incorporating influences from other genres, especially rock, to lay the foundation for jazz fusion with albums like In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. All the while, Shorter also recorded his own albums on the Blue Note label.

In the early 1970s Shorter co-founded Weather Report. He and Joe Zawinul were the only constant members until the band broke up in 1986. Shorter continued with side projects and collaborations until his retirement in 2018.

Occasionally Shorter collaborated with non-jazz acts, including on Don Henley’s 1989 hit The End Of The Innocence, on several Joni Mitchell albums in the 1980s, on Steely Dan’s Aja, as well as with Bruce Hornsby, Santana, Salif Keita, and others. In his career, Shorter won 12 Grammies.

A day after Shorter, his successor as saxophonist with Miles Davis (and fellow Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers alumnus) Carlos Garnett died.

The Freebirder
Throughout the various incarnations of Lynyrd Skynyrd, some of which were caused by tragedy, guitarist Gary Rossington was the only constant. With his death, all seven official members the Lynyrd Skynyrd line-up that created tracks like Freebird, Simple Man, Sweet Home Alalabama, Tuesday’s Gone etc are now dead. Of the personnel on Freebird, only producer and organist Al Kooper is still alive (he wasn’t a member); of the famous 1976 live version, only drummer Artimus Pyle is still with us.

While the late Allen Collins played the lead on that staggering Freebird solo, Rossington did the rhythm and slide part. And before the song gets to that, he created the seagull sounds and that prominent and beautiful slide guitar that makes Van Zandt’s vocals sound even sadder.

Rossington has died at 71 but, like the proverbial cat with nine lives, he had a way of cheating death. In 1976, a hit an oak tree with his brand-new Ford Torino while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1977 hit That Smell was inspired by that accident — Rossington gets a royal bollocking there: “Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars/Oak tree you’re in my way/There’s too much coke and too much smoke/Look what’s going on inside you” (and that’s only the start of it).

On October 20, 1977, Rossington survived the plane crash that killed six, including three band members. And in 2015 he survived a serious heart attack.

Asked about the Confederate flag which Lynyrd Skynyrd liked to display, Rossington said it was not intended as a racist statement but as a sign of the band’s Southern identity. He admitted that this view was “naïve”.

The Electric Pioneer
Few people can claim to have made their mark on classical music, synth pop, dance music and hip-hop. Japanese musician, composer and producer Ryuichi Sakamoto exercised his influence widely. His musical career began with the Japanese electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra, which he co-founded in 1978. The group’s fusion of pop, rock and electronic music helped to pave the way for the emergence of synthpop in the 1980s.

Sakamoto’s 1980 solo track Riot In Lagos is said to be a pioneering piece in the development of dance music and hip hop. In its series of the 50 key events in the history of dance music, The Guardian in the UK placed the song at #6.

On the classical front, Sakamoto composed scores for several films, including The Last Emperor (1987), The Revenant (2015) and, perhaps most famously, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983).

Sakamoto has collaborated with many musicians, including David Byrne, Iggy Pop, Roddy Frame, and Alva Noto, among others.

The Blue-Eyed Soul Man
In the Not Feeling Guilty series, Bobby Caldwell has featured four times (on Vol. 1, Vol. 4, Vol. 6 and Vol. 7), which highlights his chops as a top-class AOR artist. Caldwell’s crowning achievement was his first hit, 1978’s What You Won’t Do For Love, an absolute classic of the genre. Like many of his songs of the era, it did very well in the soul charts, and many people thought the singer was black. The record company was thus not keen to advertise the singer’s deficiency of melalin.

His debut album was pure class; subsequent efforts were more patchy. However, his 1996 album of American Songbook numbers was pretty good; among the multitudes of such albums, it stands out.

Caldwell also wrote for many other acts, including some pretty awful stuff like The Next Time I Fall, a Grammy-nominated US #1 hit for Peter Cetera & Amy Grant.

The Funk Vocalist
With the death of singer Clarence ‘Fuzzy’ Haskins, the Parliament-Funkadelic collective still with us has shrunk further. Haskins was with Clinton from the early days, when he joined doo-wop band The Parliaments in the early 1960s as a singer and guitarist. With Parliament-Funkadelic, Haskins was second lead, with his raw soul voice. On stage he was the charismatic, often masked frontman who could work the crowd into a frenzy.

Haskins was also a prolific songwriter, writing such funk classics as I Got A Thing, I Wanna Know If It’s Good To You and Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On. He left the collective in 1977, alongside Calvin Simon (whom we lost in January last year) and Grady Thomas, amid a dispute with George Clinton. He later toured with iterations of Funkadelic and Parliament that didn’t include Clinton, and controversially recorded an album with Simon and Thomas under the name Funkadelic.

Haskins released two solo albums, A Whole Nother Thang in 1976 and Radio Active in 1978. By then he had become a devout Christian, and later even became a preacher.

The Funk Bassist
James Brown credited bassist ‘Sweet’ Charles Sherrell with developing the technique of thumping on the strings, which would be copied by many others. Sherrell initially learned to play guitar from Curtis Mayfield, receiving free lessons in exchange for washing the singer’s Jaguar.

Sherrell joined James Brown’s backing band in 1968, playing on tracks like Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud, Mother Popcorn, Give It Up Or Turnit Loose, Get Up Offa That Thing, Funky Drummer, The Payback, Funky President (People It’s Bad), and others.

He also released a series of solo soul and funk records, mostly produced by Brown, as Sweet Charles. His vocal style was similar to that of his old mentor Curtis Mayfield.

The Pulp Bassist
In the big Brit Pop wave of the 1990s, Pulp was one of the four big hitters, and possibly the best of the monosyllable-monikered lot (some might say Suede; none might say Oasis). Now bassist Steve Mackey has died at the young age of 56. Mackay joined Pulp in 1988 and stayed with them through the glory days of the 1990s, quitting the band in 2002. He returned in 2011 for a couple of years.

After the Pulp days, he was a record producer and songwriter for acts like Marianne Faithfull, M.I.A., The Long Blondes, Florence & The Machine, and Arcade Fire. He also recorded and toured with Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker in 2006 and 2008. In the early 2000s, Mackey was among those who urged his old friend and Pulp’s touring guitarist Richard Hawley to start a solo career — happily, the wonderful Hawley took that good advice.

Mackey was also part of the fictional wizarding rock band The Weird Sisters in the 2005 film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, alongside Cocker and two Radiohead members.

The Light Fandango Skipper
It was an unusual arrangement: Keith Reid played no instrument and didn’t sing, yet was considered a full member of Procol Harum. His job was to write lyrics, such as those for A Whiter Shade Of Pale, which even more than 50 years after its release still exercises minds. In fact, he wrote the lyrics for every Procol Harum song until the band split in 1977, including the magnificently haunting A Salty Dog. After Procol Harum, he wrote the lyrics for one more hit, John Farnham’s You’re The Voice.

Four days after Reid’s death, long-time Procol Harum’s manager Barry Sinclair died.

The First Stardust
In 1973 the former Decca label talent scout and producer Peter Shelley co-founded the Magnet label. Its first release was recorded by Shelley himself, a song he had written. My Coo Ca Choo was issued under the moniker Alvin Stardust, with no great expectations. The song, however, became a massive hit, and Shelley performed it as Alvin Stardust on a British TV show. But he didn’t really want to be Alvin Stardust, so a new Alvin Stardust was appointed in the form of journeyman singer Shane Fenton. The new creation became a star, and Shelley went on to write Stardust hits like UK #1 Jealous Mind (Fenton died in 2014).

In 1974 and ’75, Shelley had UK Top 5 hits under his own name, Gee Baby and Love Me Love My Dog. Shelley left Magnet in 1975 and created the animated Robotman character, whom he also voiced. The father of Canadian pop singer-songwriter John Southworth emigrated to Canada in 1980.

Before all that, in the 1960s, Shelley worked at Decca with the famous Dick Rowe (the man who turned down The Beatles). There he discovered acts like The Amen Corner, Ten Years After and the future King Crimson. At Magnet, he gave Chris Rea his start.

The Strings Genius
Just a few days before I learned of the death of multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, I had listened to Warren Zevon’s Mohammed’s Radio, on which Lindley played the slide guitar. And it’s very likely that had Lindley died on any other day, I’d have heard another song he played on, for he backed many acts whose songs I’m liable to play at random. He was best-known for his slide guitar, but Lindley was at home with virtually any stringed instrument, from electric guitar to the zither to the fiddle.

Lindley started his recording career in the 1960s with the psychedelic band Kaleidoscope, which he had co-founded. After the group split in 1970, he joined up with Jackson Browne, playing in his band for eight years until 1980. He also toured and recorded with acts like of Crosby & Nash, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. In the 1980s he formed his band El Rayo-X, named after his debut solo album.

Among other acts Lindley backed are Linda Ronstadt, Graham Nash, America, Maria Muldaur, Rod Stewart, Mac Davis, Dan Fogelberg, Curtis Mayfield, James Taylor, David Crosby, Dolly Parton, Herb Pedersen, Leo Sayer, David Gates, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, Toto, Joe Walsh, Patti Austin, John Prine, Marshall Crenshaw, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Bruce Springsteen, Belinda Carlile, Andreas Vollenweider, The Bangles (including Eternal Flame),  Aaron Neville, Kenny Loggins, Shawn Colvin, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Ziggy Marley, Ben Harper and more…

The Piano Nun
I’m not sure that pianist and composer Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou meets the criteria for inclusion in this series, for her music sounded more like Chopin than Jerry Lee Lewis. Still, there were the influences of jazz and blues in her work, so she may qualify.

Aside from being a musician, she was also a nun in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Born in December 1923 to a wealthy family in Addis Ababa, Guèbrou was an accomplished musician who began playing piano at a young age. As a child she studied music in Switzerland. During Italy’s occupation of Ethiopia, she and her family were held as prisoners of war Italy.

Having returned to Ethiopia after the war, she went on to be a civil servant and singer to Emperor Haile Selassie, and went on to teach music, and to compose and perform. She blended Ethiopian and European classical music with the rhythm of blues, and her music often reflects her deep faith as a nun.

Guèbrou lived a reclusive life as a nun and performed rarely, but her recordings attracted worldwide attention.

The French Million Seller
Before he even recorded his first record, French singer Marcel Amont shared a bill at the famed Olympia with Edith Piaf. The same year, in 1956, he released the first of many records, kicking off a career that would go on until 2009. He also recorded in other European languages, especially in German. In the process, Amont sold 300 million records and was one of France’s biggest stars in the 1960s and 1970s.

He featured on the Beatles in French Vol. 2 mix with his version of When I’m Sixty-Four (an age he reached in 1993).

The Singing TV Cop
Given his brilliant performances in TV series like The Wire, Bosch, Fringe or Resident Evil, there was little room in the obits for the brief singing career of Lance Reddick. The actor released only one album, 2007’s Contemplations & Remembrances (I imagine McNulty having a few things to say about Lt Daniels crooning chansons), but his background was more musical than thespian.

Reddick started to study music as a teenager, and earned a degree in classical music composition at University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in the 1980s. He went on to earn a Masters degree at the Yale School of Drama in 1994.

The Cover Hippie
It’s not a music death but in a way it is. Bobbi Ercoline, whom we see cuddling in a blanket with her boyfriend on the cover of the Woodstock soundtrack album, has died after what seems have been a long illness. Bobbi and then-boyfriend Nick Ercoline — they’d marry in 1971 — had no idea that photographer Burk Uzzle had taken a snapshot of them — until they realised that it was them who starred on the Woodstock album cover, released in 1970. Nick told AARP Magazine in 2019 that he and Bobbi had first recognised an orange and yellow butterfly flag shown in the photo. “Then we saw the blanket. ‘Oh my Lord, that’s us!’”

They were 20 in 1969, and by the time Bobbi died, the retired school nurse and Nick had been together for 54 years. Fifty years after Woodstock they returned to the site to recreate their pose, without the quilt, mud and crowds of hippies. Read more about them.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.


Leon Hughes, 92, founding tenor with The Coasters, on March 1
The Coasters – Down In Mexico (1956)

Wally Fawkes, 98, British jazz clarinettist and cartoonist, on March 1
Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band – Panama (1948, on clarinet)

Wayne Shorter, 89, jazz saxophonist and composer, on March 2
Miles Davis – Nefertiti (1968, as writer and on soprano sax)
Wayne Shorter – Beauty And The Beast (1974, as writer and soprano sax)
Steely Dan – Aja (1977, on tenor sax)
Weather Report – Birdland (1977, as member, on tenor and soprano sax)

Steve Mackey, 56, bassist of English rock band Pulp and producer, on March 2
Pulp – Disco 2000 (1995, also as co-writer)
Pulp – The Trees (2001, also as co-writer)
The Long Blondes – Once And Never Again (2006, as producer)

Calvin Newton, 93, country-gospel singer, on March 3

David Lindley, 78, rock multi-instrumentalist, on March 3
Kaleidoscope – Life Will Pass You By (1968, as member, on vocals and guitar)
Jackson Browne – Running On Empty (1977, on slide guitar)
Warren Zevon – Play It All Night Long (1980, on guitar, lap steel guitar)
Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt – The Pain Of Loving You (1987, on mandolin)

Carlos Garnett, 84, Panama-born jazz saxophonist, on March 3
Carlos Garnett – Bolerock (1978)

Sueli Costa, 79, Brazilian singer and songwriter, on March 4
Sueli Costa – Coração ateu (1975)

Michael Rhodes, 69, bassist with country group Notorious Cherry Bombs, on March 4
Notorious Cherry Bombs – It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long (2004)

Robert Haimer, 69, half of novelty pop duo Barnes & Barnes, on March 4
Barnes & Barnes – Party In My Pants (1980)

Basuki Bala, 75, singer with calypso band Caribbean Allstars, on March 4

Spot, 71, rock, punk and house producer, on March 4
Hüsker Dü – Sunshine Superman (1983, as producer)

Gary Rossington, 71, guitarist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, on March 5
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone (1973)
Lynyrd Skynyrd – That Smell (1977)
Rossington-Collins Band – Don’t Misunderstand Me (1980)

Arif Cooper, Jamaican musician, producer, DJ, on March 5
Sean Paul – Hold My Hand (2009, as producer and co-writer)

Eric Alan Livingston, 38, member of metal group Mamaleek, on March 6

Marcel Amont, 93, French singer, on March 8
Marcel Amont – Les bleuets d’Azur (1960)
Marcel Amont – L’amour ça fait passer le temps (1971)

Josua Madsen, 45, drummer of Danish thrash metal band Artillery, in car accident on March 8

Jim Durkin, 58, guitarist of thrash metal band Dark Angel, on March 8

Chaim Topol, 87, Israeli actor and singer, on March 8
Topol – If I Were A Rich Man (1967)

Robin Lumley, 74, keyboardist of UK jazz fusion band Brand X, on March 9
Brand X – Black Moon (1978)

Phil Titus, 36, bassist of UK alt-rock band Morning Parade, on March 9

Jerold ‘Napoleon XIV’ Samuels, 84, novelty singer, songwriter, producer, on March 10
Napoleon XIV – They’re Coming To Take Me Away HaHaaa! (1966, also as writer)

Junior English, 71 or 72, Jamaican reggae singer, on March 10
Junior English – In Loving You (1978)

Tongo, 65, Peruvian singer and comedian, on March 10

Costa Titch, 27, South African rapper, on March 11
Costa Titch feat. Akon – Big Flexa (Remix) (2023)

Dix Denney, 65, guitarist of punk bands The Weirdos, Thelonious Monster, on March 12
The Weirdos – A Life Of Crime (1980)

Jim Gordon, 77, Wrecking Crew session drummer, on March 13
Donovan – Atlantis (1969, on drums)
Derek & the Dominos – Layla (1980, on drums and piano, writer of piano coda)
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain (1972, on drums)
Harry Nilsson – Jump Into The Fire (1972, on drums)

Canisso, 57, bassist of Brazilian punk band Raimundos, on March 13

Simon Emmerson, 67, English musician, producer and DJ, on March 13
Afro Celt Sound System feat. Peter Gabriel – When You’re Falling (2001, as founder)

Bobby Caldwell, 71, soft-rock singer and songwriter, on March 14
Bobby Caldwell – Can’t Say Goodbye (1978)
Natalie Cole & Peabo Bryson – What You Won’t Do For Love (1979, as writer)
Bobby Caldwell – Sunny Hills (1982)
Bobby Caldwell – Beyond The Sea (1996)

Gloria Bosman, 50, South African jazz singer, on March 14
Gloria Bosman – Play Me The Love Songs (1999)

Théo de Barros, 80, member of Brazilian jazz group Quarteto Novo, on March 15

Tony Coe, 88, English jazz musician, on March 16
The Tony Coe Quartet – Satin Doll (1961)

Emmanuelle Mottaz, 59, French singer and screenwriter, on March 16

Lance Reddick, 60, American actor (The Wire, Fringe,) and singer, on March 17
Lance Reddick – Work Of Art (2007)

Fito Olivares, 75, Mexican cumbia musician, on March 17

Fuzzy Haskins, 81, singer with Parliament-Funkadelic, on May 17
Funkadelic – I Got A Thing (1970, also as writer)
Funkadelic – Can You Get To That (1971, also as co-writer and on drums)
Fuzzy Haskins – Thangs We Used To Do (1978, also as writer)

Mick Slattery, 77, founding guitarist of Hawkwind, on March 17

Bobbi Ercoline, 73, cover star on Woodstock soundtrack album, on March 18
Country Joe McDonald – Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag (1969, live at Woodstock)

Dmitry Nova, 34, member of Russian electronic group Cream Soda, drowned on March 20

Anita Thallaug, 85, Norwegian singer and actress, on March 20

Wayne Swinny, 59, guitarist of rock band Saliva, on March 21
Saliva – Ladies And Gentlemen (2007)

Gunter Nezhoda, 67, rock bassist and Storage Wars presenter, on March 21

Tom Leadon, 70, guitarist of rock band Mudcrutch, on March 22
Mudcrutch – Depot Street (1975; with Tom Petty on vocals)
Mudcrutch – Crystal River (2008)

Keith Reid, 76, lyricist with Procol Harum and songwriter, on March 23
Procol Harum – Homburg (1967, as lyricist)
Procol Harum with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra – A Salty Dog (1972, as lyricist)
John Farnham – You’re The Voice (1986, as lyricist)

Peter Shelley, 80, British singer, songwriter, producer, label founder (Magnet), on March 23
Alvin Stardust – My Coo Ca Choo (1973, as Stardust and writer)
Peter Shelley – Gee Baby (1974, also as writer)

Luca Bergia, 54, drummer of Italian rock band Marlene Kuntz, on March 23
Marlene Kuntz – Nuotando Nell’Aria (1994)

Christopher Gunning, 78, British classical, TV & movie composer, on March 24
Lynsey de Paul – Won’t Somebody Dance With Me (1973, as arranger)

Nick Lloyd Webber, 43, English TV score composer, producer, on March 25

Juca Chaves, 84, Brazilian singer and comedian, on March 25

Care Failure, 36, singer with Canadian alt.rock band Die Mannequin, on March 26
Die Mannequin – Bad Medicine (2008)

Ray Pillow, 85, country singer, on March 26
Jean Shepard & Ray Pillow – I’ll Take The Dog (1966)

Howie Kane, 81, singer with Jay and the Americans, on March 27
Jay & The Americans – Let’s Lock The Door (And Throw Away The Key) (1964)

Peggy Scott-Adams, 74, blues and R&B singer, on March 27
Peggy Scott & Jojo Benson – Lover’s Holiday (1968)

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, 99, Ethiopian nun, pianist and composer, on March 27
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou – The Last Tears Of A Deceased (1963)
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou – Tenkou Why Feel Sorry (1996)

Ryuichi Sakamoto, 71, Japanese musician, composer, and actor, on March 28
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Riot In Lagos (1980)
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Be A Superman (1991, as member and co-writer)

Blas Durán, 73, Dominican bachata singer, on March 28
Blas Duran – Abusadora (1971)

‘Sweet’ Charles Sherrell, 80, funk bassist (James Brown) and soul singer, on March 29
James Brown – Give It Up Or Turn It Loose (1969, on bass)
James Brown – Funky President (People It’s Bad) (1974, on bass)
Sweet Charles – Yes, It’s You (1974)

Brian Gillis, 47, founding singer with boy band LFO, on March 29

Alfio Cantarella, 81, drummer of Italian pop band Equipe 84, on March 30
Equipe 84 – 29 Settembre (1967)

Ray Shulman, 73, bassist of UK prog-rock band Gentle Giant, producer, on March 30
Gentle Giant – His Last Voyage (1975)


Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – February 2023

March 2nd, 2023 2 comments

The big headline death this month was that of Burt Bacharach, a true giant in the story of pop music. A few days after Burt, one of his earlier collaborators, Chuck Jackson, followed him into the great recording studio in the sky.

The Master
At 94, Burt Bacharach had a long and full life, as chronicled in his autobiography, which I read a couple of years ago. The memoirs revealed a man who must have been good company in good times and pretty awful to know in bad. Burt certainly had ways of establishing great friendships and also of burning bridges, not rarely involving litigation. Nobody could accused him of false modesty or of excessive humility. Attractive though qualities as modesty and humility are, if your body of work was that of Bacharach’s, their scarcity could be forgiven.

I’ve posted five Bacharach collections, the latest in the week after Burt’s death. I wrote at some length about Burt & Hal for the Bacharach & David Songbook Vol. 1. The other four collections:
Bacharach & David Songbook Vol. 2
Bacharach: The Lesser Known Songbook
The Originals: Bacharach Edition
Covered With Soul Vol. 7: Bacharach/David Edition

The R&B Singer
Among the first R&B artists for whom Bacharach wrote in the early 1960s — before he found his muse in Dionne Warwick — was R&B singer Chuck Jackson, who has died at 85. Their most notable collaborations were Any Day Now (featured on The Originals: Bacharach Edition) and I Wake Up Crying (featured on Any Major Morning Vol. 2). In a bad career move, Jackson bought out his contract with Sceptre Records to sign for Motown. There his career stalled, with the release of only two singles. One of them was the gorgeous Honey Come Back, which featured on the Jimmy Webb Songbook Vol. 1.

Jackson’s career never really recovered from the Motown disaster. He continued recording into the 1980s, and had an audience, but he never scored a big hit again.

When they first shot to prominence, the members of The Beatles regularly referred to Jackson as being among their favourite acts. One of the songs the Fabs very likely dug was I Keep Forgetting. When 20 years later Michael McDonald had a hit with a song of the same name, the similarities were so apparent that the writers of the Jackson song, Leiber & Stoller, received a credit for McDonald’s hit.

The Boogie Woogie Man
A prime exponent of New Orleans R&B, Huey ‘Piano’ Smith never became a rock & roll superstar, perhaps because he did not put himself and his piano in the spotlight, the way Little Ruchard or Jerry Lee Lewis did. He had some success in the late 1950s, and was hugely influential on the New Orleans scene. Among those young musicians who were mentored by Smith was Dr John.

Smith’s big hit was Rocking Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu (covered in 1972 to good commercial effect by Johnny Rivers) and Don’t You Just Know It. The latter was reworked in 1966 by Cass & The Governors as Don’t Ha Ha; it featured in In Memoriam – December 2022. Huey’s song Sea Cruise was summarily given to a white singer, Frankie Ford, whose vocals were dubbed over Smith’s backing track. Huey was not happy about that.

Smith also backed other acts, including Smiley Lewis on his original of I Hear You Knocking.

By the 1960s the hits had dried up, and Smith gradually retired from music. Having made bad publishing deals, he was in frequent financial trouble, even after court judgments provided some relief.

The Hip Hop Hippie
For a brief time in the early 1990s, it looked like the softer side of hip hop might have future, with acts like De La Soul, PM Dawn and Arrested Development channelling hippie vibes, with a space for social consciousness, humour and a bit of romance, and graceful genre-hopping. Gangsta rap blew that stuff out of the water.

Still, De La Soul were pioneers in hip hop, especially in the art of sampling. Now the trio’s Trugoy, or David Jude Jolicoeur, has died at the horribly young age of 54. Trugoy (backwards for Yogurt) would rightly object to the heading above: De La Soul’s hippie phase was only a snapshot in time — the time of the great 1989 debut 3 Feet High And Rising. The response to that image was stated in the follow-up’s title: De La Soul Is Dead.

For the past few years, Trugoy was living with congestive heart failure, for which he had to wear a defibrillator machine vest at all times. When De La Soul performed at the Grammys on February 5, Trugoy could not be part of it. A week later he was dead.

The Assassination Victim
The USA has Biggie and 2Pac, South Africa now has AKA — a big-name rapper shot dead point blank in an assassination, in public outside a restaurant. The 35-year-old, born Kiernan Forbes, was preparing to perform gig at a nightclub in Durban when he was murdered. His friend, celebrity chef Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane, was also killed, apparently by a second gunman giving the hitman cover. As of writing, no suspects have been identified.

In South Africa, AKA’s three bestselling albums since his 2011 debut and his collaborations with other acts made him a hip hop superstar, maybe the biggest. Why a hitman would kill him remains a mystery.

The TV Scorer
If you watch American movies or TV, you very likely have heard the music of Gerald Fried, who has died at 95. Oddly, there are no compositions one can refer to which everybody would immediately know, except maybe the Star Trek score for the episode where Kirk and Spock have a fight, which became a recurring score throughout the series.

Fried also composed much of the soundtrack for the seminal TV min-series Roots, though Quincy Jones usually gets all the attention for it. Other TV series he scored many episodes for include M Squad, Shotgun Slade, Gilligan’s Island, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Man Who Never Was, It’s About Time, Mission: Impossible, Roots: The Next Generations, Dynasty, and many more.

The Racing Drummer
Among the more unusual career paths in pop music is that of Slim Borgudd. In the 1960s he was drumming for the Swedish rock band Lea Riders Group and helped out the Hootenanny Singers, among whose members was future ABBA legend Björn Ulvaeus.

He was already racing cars, but his career took off in 1972, culminating in Borgudd joining the Formula 1 circuit in 1981. He collected points in only one Grand Prix, but earned media attention when he placed the ABBA logo on his car — it was a move to attract sponsors; ABBA didn’t pay him for that. While he was rising up the racing world, Borgudd continued to swing the sticks, and in 1976 even released his one LP, a funk-rock effort cleverly titled Funky Formula.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.

Butch Miles, 78, jazz drummer, on Feb. 2
Count Basie and His Orchestra – Bundle O’ Funk (1977, on drums)

Tim Quy, 61, percussionist of UK rock band Cardiacs, on Feb. 2
Cardiacs – Is This The Life? (1988)

Paul Janovitz, 54, singer-guitarist of alt.rock band Cold Water Flat, on Feb. 3
Cold Water Flat – Magnetic North Pole (1995)

Lillian Walker, 78, singer with soul group The Exciters, on Feb. 5
The Exciters – A Little Bit Of Soap (1966)

Phil Spalding, 65, English bassist, on Feb. 6
Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow (1983, on bass)
Terence Trent D’Arby – Wishing Well (1987, on bass)

Steve Sostak, 49, member of art-punk band Sweep the Leg Johnny, on Feb. 7

Mendelson Joe, 78, Canadian singer-songwriter, on Feb. 7
Mendelson Joe – The Name Of The Game (1975)

Burt Bacharach, 94, legendary pop composer, on Feb. 8
Jimmy Radcliffe – (There Goes) The Forgotten Man (1962)
Burt Bacharach – (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me (1969)
Isaac Hayes – The Look Of Love (live) (1973, as co-writer)
Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach – God Give Me Strength (1998, as co-writer)
Rumer – Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) (2015, as co-writer)

Dennis Lotis, 97, South African-born British singer and actor, on Feb. 8
Dennis Lotis – Look At That Girl (1953)

Marijke Merckens, 83, Dutch actress and singer, on Feb. 9

AKA, 35, South African rapper, shot dead on Feb. 10
AKA feat. K.O – Run Jozi (Godly)

Tito Fernández, 80, Chilean singer-songwriter, on Feb. 11

David Jude ‘Trugoy’ Jolicoeur, 54, rapper and songwriter with De La Soul, on Feb. 12
De La Soul – Eye Know (1989, also as co-writer)
De La Soul – Keepin’ The Faith (1991, also as co-writer)
De La Soul – Breakadawn (1993, also as co-writer)
Gorillaz feat. De La Soul – Feel Good Inc. (2005, also as co-writer)

Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, 89, R&B pianist and songwriter, on Feb. 13
Smiley Lewis – I Hear You Knocking (1955, on piano)
Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns – Rockin’ Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu (1957)
Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns – Don’t You Just Know It (1958)

Spencer Wiggins, 81, soul singer, on Feb. 13
Spencer Wiggins – Double Lovin’ (1970)

Guido Basso, 85, Canadian jazz trumpeter, on Feb. 13

Alain Goraguer, 91, French jazz pianist, arranger and film composer, on Feb. 13
Serge Gainsbourg avec Alain Goraguer et son Orchestre – La Jambe De Bois (1959)
France Gall – Poupée De Cire Poupée De Son (1965, as conductor and arranger)

Tohru Okada, 73, Japanese musician, creator of PlayStation 1 startup theme, on Feb. 13

Akira Tsuneoka, 51, drummer of Japanese pop-punk bank Hi-Standard, on Feb. 14
Hi-Standard – My First Kiss (2000)

Peter Renkens, 55, singer of Belgian pop band Confetti’s, announced on Feb. 14
Confetti’s – The Sound Of C (1988)

Tim Aymar, 59, singer of heavy metal band Pharaoh, on Feb. 14

Raquel Welch, 82, actress and occasional singer, on Feb. 15
Raquel Welch – This Girl’s Back In Town (1987)

Chuck Jackson, 85, American R&B singer, on Feb. 16
The Del Vikings – Willette (1959, as member on lead vocals)
Chuck Jackson – I Keep Forgettin’ (1962)
Chuck Jackson – Good Things Come To Those Who Wait (1967)
Chuck Jackson – Through All Times (1973)

Tony Marshall, 85, German schlager singer, on Feb. 16

Alberto Radius, 80, Italian rock guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer, on Feb. 16
Formula 3 – Io ritorno solo (1970, as member on lead vocals and guitar)
Alberto Radius – Il Respiro di Laura (1975)

Maon Kurosaki, 35, Japanese pop singer, on Feb. 16

Michael Kupper, 65, ex-guitarist of German heavy metal band Running Wild, on Feb. 16
Running Wild – Bad To The Bone (1989)

Tom Whitlock, 68 or 69, pop songwriter, on Feb. 17
Berlin – Take My Breath Away (1986, as co-writer)

Kyle Jacobs, 49, country songwriter, on Feb. 17
Garth Brooks – More Than A Memory (2007, as co-writer)

Otis Barthoulameu, musician and producer, on Feb. 17

Gerald Fried, 95, film and television composer, on Feb. 17
Joe Williams – The Sounds Of The Night (1963, as writer)
Star Trek – Amok Time (1967, as composer)
Hank Crawford & Jimmy McGriff – Second Time Around (1986, as writer)

Jerry Dodgion, 90, jazz saxophonist and flautist, on Feb. 17
Benny Goodman – Mission To Moscow (1962, live in Moscow, on alto sax)
Bob James – Angela (Theme from Taxi) (1978, on flute, with two others)

Hans Poulsen, 77, Australian singer and songwriter, on Feb. 17
Hans Poulsen – There’s A Light Across The Valley (1970)

Don Shinn, 77, English prog-rock multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, on Feb. 18
Don Shinn & The Soul Agents – A-Minor Explosion (1966, also as writer)

Davis Causey, 74, guitarist of fusion/rock band Sea Level, on Feb. 19
Sea Level – It Hurts To Want It So Bad (1977)

Victor Brox, 81, English blues musician, on Feb. 20
Victor Brox & Annette Reis – I’ve Got The World In A Jug (1965)

Bruce Barthol, 75, bassist of Country Joe and the Fish, on Feb. 20
Country Joe And The Fish – The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die (1967)

Jesse Gress, 67, rock guitarist, on Feb. 21

Ron Altbach, 76, co-founder and keyboardist of King Harvest, on Feb. 21
King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight (1972)

Germano Mathias, 88, Brazilian samba singer, on Feb. 22

Slim Borgudd, 76, Swedish racing driver and drummer, on Feb. 23
The Lea Riders Group – Got No Woman! (1966, as member on drums)
Slim Borgudd – Hot Metal (1976)

Jeff Young, keyboardist and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Vonda Shepard – Searchin’ My Soul (1998, on Hammond organ)

Junnosuke Kuroda, 34, guitarist of Japanese rock band Sumika, on Feb. 23

Walter ‘Gavitt’ Ferguson, 103, Panama-born Costa Rican calypso singer, on Feb. 25
Walter Ferguson – Carnaval Day (2003, also as writer)

Carl Saunders, 80, jazz trumpeter, on Feb. 25
Carl Saunders – Some Bones Of Contention (2002)

François Hadji-Lazaro, 66, French alt.rock musician, on Feb. 25
Les Garçons Bouchers – La Bastringue (1988, also as co-writer)

Hansi Behrendt, 68, drummer of German new wave group Ideal, on Feb. 27
Ideal – Blaue Augen (1980)


Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – January 2023

February 2nd, 2023 7 comments

In January the world lost its oldest person on record, a French nun who died at the age of almost 119 (she is now in the Top 4 of oldest people on record ever). But seeing as Sister André Randon never contributed meaningfully to the world of rock & roll, she won’t feature on this month’s list.

Nor will the man who gave his name to the Marshall Tucker Band. I am not the only person in the world who took it as read that the southern rock band was founded and led by Mr & Mrs Tucker’s martially-named son. Turns out, it wasn’t. The band on its Facebook page picks up the story: “In the early days when we were rehearsing in an old warehouse in Spartanburg, we found a keychain inscribed with [Marshall Tucker’s] name. We needed a name asap… and the rest is history! Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano.” Mr Tucker plied his trade as a piano tuner, and died in January at the age of 99.

And in January we lost three guitar legends: Jeff Beck, Tom Verlaine, and Dennis Budimir.

The Folk-Rock Legend
He was born to sing harmony, David Crosby once said. Cass Elliott knew that, and at one of her parties, she introduced ex-Byrds man Crosby to ex-Hollies man Graham Nash and Buffalo Springfield alumnus Stephen Stills, with the suggestion that their voices would work well together. They did, with Stills and Nash taking on the lion’s share of the creative work on CSN(&Y) albums — though Crosby, never a child of gratuitous modesty, fancied himself a better songwriter than the others. But Crosby, with his expressive, mellifluous voice, was at the centre of the harmonies.

The Byrd’s breakthrough was also due to its harmonies. Mr Tambourine Man featured on Roger McGuinn on instruments (on the chiming guitar; the rest were Wrecking Crew guys like Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel and Leon Russell). But it is the harmonies, with Crosby in the mix, that made the cover of the track by Bob Dylan (who very much was not a harmonies kind of guy) so special. Eventually, Crosby was kicked out of The Byrds. Crosby later said he would have kicked Crosby out himself.

By all accounts the son of the Oscar-winning cinematographer was a mellow soul who could turn character and exasperate you. Crosby said what he thought, and what he thought wasn’t always charitable (look up how his friendship with Neil Young ended). Crosby would continue to work with Stills, Nash and Young for decades, despite their differences. Perhaps it was the shared trauma of recording the Déjà Vu album that created a bond: during the sessions, all four had their hearts broken, three of them by break-ups, and Crosby by the death in a traffic accident of his girlfriend Christine Hinton. In the end, his relationship with all three soured, though he remained on speaking terms with Stills.

David Crosby became as famous for his prodigious use of drugs and unconventional domestic arrangements (he wrote a song called Triad about it), and after he got off drugs (while in jail for being in possession of cocaine and a loaded gun), for being an outspoken spokesman for his sub-culture on numerous docus. These included one on Crosby himself, in which the man was brutally honest about his many failings.

Crosby has been widely acclaimed, but the most unexpected honour must have come from the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. In 2010 it ranked his critically-panned 1971 solo debut If I Could Only Remember My Name second in a (highly subjective and culturally narrow but otherwse quite good) list of Top 10 Pop Albums of All Time, behind The Beatles’ Revolver.

The Guitar Legend
Rolling Stone magazine once named Jeff Beck one of the five all-time greatest guitarists; some people claim that he should top any list of rock guitarists. That, of course, is as futile an exercise as it is to name the “greatest-ever football player” or “best Sesame Street character” (well, Oscar the Grouch or Cookie Monster, obviously, but you get the drift).

AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine regarded Beck “as innovative as Jimmy Page, as tasteful as Eric Clapton, and nearly as visionary as Jimi Hendrix”, but unable to achieve sustained mainstream success “primarily because of the haphazard way he approached his career”, and often working without a “star singer” to make his music more popularly accessible.

There’s something to it: Beck won six Grammys and was nominated for many more: I knew none of the Grammy-rated records. As a solo act, he scored only two UK Top 20 hits, both releases of Hi Ho Silver Lining, which reached the Top 20 in 1967 and again in 1972. He scored no UK hit with the Jeff Beck Group nor with his other outfit, the “supergroup” Beck, Bogert & Appice. Jeff Beck, it’s safe to say, was a musician’s musician.

Beck contributed to many artists’ music, most notably on Stevie Wonder’s Lookin’ For Another Pure Love on the Talking Book album.

Not long after Beck, The Yardbird’s original guitarist, Top Topham, died at 75. Topham was replaced by Eric Clapton before the group became famous. Unlike Beck, Clapton or Jimmy Page, Topham never became a guitar legend.

The Motown Pioneer
It seems fitting that Tamla-Motown’s first-ever national hit was titled Money (That’s What I Want), and its co-writer was cheated out of a lot of it… The song, a hit in 1960, sounded like it was sung by an old hand; in fact, singer and co-writer Barrett Strong was all of 18 when he recorded it in 1959.

Berry Gordy disputed that Strong co-wrote Money – a song that would be widely covered, including by The Beatles – saying that Strong’s credit was a clerical error, and had his credit later removed. But eyewitnesses, including the session’s engineer, say that Strong laid down the distinctive piano riff before Gordy even turned up at the studio.

After a series of flops, Strong went to work in Detroit’s auto industry, but returned to co-write several Motown classics, especially for The Temptations: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, Just My Imagination, I Wish It Would Rain, Cloud Nine, I Can’t Get Next To You, Psychedelic Shack, Ball Of Confusion, Superstar, I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You), and others

He also co-wrote the double-hit I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye’s That’s The Way Love Is and Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, The Dells’ Stay In My Corner, Gladys Knight’s Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me and The End Of Our Road, War (first recorded by The Temptations but a hit for Edwin Starr); and the Undisputed Truth’s Smiling Faces Sometimes (also initially a Temptations song; though Papa… was originally recorded by the Undisputed Truth, see Any Major Motown Originals). The Marvin Gaye track Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) was not a Motown hit, but became a UK #1 for Paul Young in 1983.

Strong left Motown in the early 1970s and returned to singing, releasing five albums between 1975 and 2008.

The New Wave Forerunner
As the leader, singer, guitarist and songwriter of Television, Tom Verlaine was at the vanguard of New York’s CBGB punk rock scene which also included the likes of the Ramones and Blondie. But, like Blondie, Television were more sophisticated than the punk label suggests, and arguably more a forerunner of what would come to be called new wave.

Verlaine had been something of a jazz prodigy as a kid who had been turned on to rock by the Rolling Stones, so he was trained to experiment and improvise. His guitar work is regarded as influential; with his Fender guitars, Verlaine was pivotal in introducing the surf sound of the early 1960s into the punk of the 1970s.

After Television, Verlaine had a productive solo career, wit even David Bowie covering his song Kingdom Come on Scary Monsters. Verlaine was a keen collaborator, including with ex-girlfriend and CBGB alumn Patti Smith.

The Fantasy Drummer
The year 2023 started with the sad news of the death of Fred White, drummer of Earth, Wind & Fire, and brother of the late Maurice and bassist Verdine. Fred had already been an established session drummer — having worked with acts like Little Feat, Linda Ronstadt, and Donny Hathaway — before he joined his brothers in EWF in 1974, just in time for the breakthrough That’s The Way Of The World album. He was still only 19

He stayed with the band throughout its long peak years, leaving in 1984. He went on to drum for acts like Toto, Sergio Mendes, Rick Springfield, Jennifer Holliday, Phyllis Human, Rod Stewart, ABC and others.

The King’s Daughter
If you’re the daughter if Elvis Presley, can you ever hope to measure up to your dad? Lisa Marie Presley was a pretty good singer with a powerful voice, and — unlike her dad — she could write songs. In a remix of In The Ghetto that merges her voice with Elvis’ vocals, Lisa Marie did not expose herself as a fraud, though the choice of song was not ideal. Five years later, in 2012, she released a second duet, I Love You Because, which worked beautifully.  On the same album, she released a track called You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, which is quite different from the song which the next victim of The Reaper helped make famous.

But Lisa Marie never really had the chance to step out of her dad’s shadow, as a musician or as a person. It has been said that as a bride, she was a trophy for Elvis-fanatic Nicolas Cage, the ultimate memorabilia in his collection. I don’t know whether that’s true, but their marriage lasted only a few months. Her marriage to Michael Jackson — the “King of Pop” wedded to the daughter of the King of Rock & Roll — seemed grotesque, though we cannot know or judge the hearts if those two people at that time. One area where Lisa Marie was able to use her surname to good effect was in her philanthropy, especially those initiatives that preceded and followed her time as a Scientologist.

The B in BTO
Well, Robbie Bachman was one of the Bs in Bachman-Turner Overdrive. The drummer was the younger brother of frontman Randy Bachman, with whom he had played in BTO predecessor band Brave Belt, and founding guitarist Tim Bachman. Robbie left the band in 1979, and legal troubles and disagreements with Randy made BTO reunions difficult. There was one in the late 1980s, but then Randy left. Later Robbie successfully sued Randy over the use of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive name.

Robbie is credited with designing the familiar BTO logo.

The Wrecking Crew Guitarist
Readers of a certain age may remember David Cassidy as Keith in the Partridge Family laying down some serious guitar licks. Chances are that those axeman moves were the work of Dennis Budimir, the Wrecking Crew guitarist who has left us at the age of 84, on the same day as fellow guitarist Jeff Beck. And when he (or Louie Shelton or Tommy Tedesco) was not making teenage girls swoon with his guitar work, Budimir was also a serious jazz musician.

Budimir backed acts like The Fifth Dimension, Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, Elvis Presley, TThe Association, Burt Bacharach, Bobbie Gentry, Helen Reddy, The Hues Corporation, Sergio Mendes, Clarence Carter, Freda Payne, Maria Muldaur, Randy Newman, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Ravi Shankar, Harry Nilsson, Cher, Bill Withers, Marlena Shaw, Brian Wilson, Barbra Streisand, Melissa Manchester, Dusty Springfield, Judy Collins, Ringo Starr (including on Back Off Boogaloo), Juice Newton (incl. Angel Of The Morning), Carpenters, Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, George Harrison, Robert Palmer, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, and many more.

Like all Wrecking Crew alumni, he also played in many of the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” records.

In jazz he worked with the likes of Chico Hamilton (as a member of his quintet), Harry James, Gene Krupa, Bud Shanks, Keely Smith, Les McCann, Stan Kenton, Gabor Szabo, Bob Thiele, Nelson Riddle, David Axelrod, Lalo Schifrin, Lou Rawls, Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Ammons, Peggy Lee, Quincy Jones, Jon Lucien, Henry Mancini, Lee Ritenour, Milt Jackson, Stan Getz, Jimmy Smith, Rodney Franklin, Dave Grusin, Eric Dolphy, Toots Thielemans, Diane Schuur, and others.

Budimir also released a string of jazz albums of his own in the 1960s, and appeared on many soundtracks, including Quincy Jones’ award-winning The Color Purple, Bill Conti’s The Right Stuff, Elmer Bernstein’s Ghostbusters, and Randy Newman’s Toy Story.

A word of explanation: The featured track by The Monkees was first partially recorded in 1968, with Budimir and fellow Wrecking Crew regulars like the late Earl Palmer and Mike Melvoin, and completed in 2016 with Peter Tork on lead vocals for the band’s Good Times! album.

The Aussie Soul Singer
One of Australia’s premier pop singers, especially in the field of soul, Renee Geyer described herself, with more humour than pinpoint accuracy, as “a white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65-year-old black man from Alabama”. Indeed, daughters of Holocaust survivors are rare in soul music. Geyer was named Renée after a woman who had saved her mother from the monstrous Dr Mengele at Auschwitz.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Geyer had hits in Australia with her cover of James Brown’s It’s a Man’s Man’s World, Heading In The Right Direction, Stares And Whispers (on which she was backed by Stevie Wonder’s band), and Say I Love You. Sher never broke through internationally, despite a long stay in the US. There she became a sought-after backing singer in the 1980s for acts like Sting (on tracks like Englishman In New York and Fragile) Chaka Khan, Joe Cocker, Neil Diamond, Men At Work, Buddy Guy, Toni Childs, Paul Anka, Jackson Brown, Bonnie Raitt, and others.

The Swedish Cult Singer
I’ve said it before: doing the In Memoriam gives me a chance to discover some good music I had never known about. One such gem is Swedish pop singer Doris, who has died at 75. Her 1970 album Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby apparently is a cult classic, especially after its re-release in the 1990s. It incorporates pop, soul, psychedelic, funk, folk, country, schlager… it’s really good fun.

Doris Svensson started recording in 1960 as a 13-year-old and sung with several groups. Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby was her debut album. When it didn’t sell well, Doris left the music business. Doris was inducted into the Swedish Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

The Video Man
I never really include directors of music videos in the In Memoriams, but British video and TV specials director Bruce Gowers, who has died at 82, merits inclusion for being a pioneer in the development of a promotional tool that changed music.

Gowers directed VH-1 staple videos such as several for Queen, including Bohemian Rhapsody and Somebody To Love, 10cc’s I’m Not In Love, Bee Gees Staying Alive, Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s The Night and Da Ya Think I’m Sexy, Kansas’ Dust In The Wind, Player’s Baby Come Back, Ambrosia’s How Much I Feel, Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman, Alicia Bridges’ I Love the Nightlife, Michael Jackson’s She’s Out Of My Life and Rock With You, Supertramp’s Logical Song and Breakfast in America, Christopher Cross’ Ride Like the Wind,  The Jackson’s Can You Feel It, Prince’s 1999, John Cougar’s Hurts So Good and Jack And Diane, Huey Lewis & The News’ The Heart of Rock & Roll, Arrested Development’s People Everyday, and loads more hits.

Gowers also directed many music shows and specials, and comedy specials (for acts like George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and, most famously, Eddie Murphy’s Delirious). Music specials included Live 8 Philadelphia; Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration; Genius: A Night for Ray Charles; MTV Unplugged With Paul McCartney; and Rolling Stones: Bridges to Babylon.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.

Fred White, 67, drummer of Earth, Wind & Fire, on Jan. 1
Donny Hathaway – Little Ghetto Boy (1972, on drums)
Deniece Williams – Watching Over (1976, on drums, also as co-writer)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Magic Mind (1977, also as co-writer)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Star (1979)

Lázaro Valdés, 83, Cuban jazz musician, on Jan. 1
Lázaro Valdés – Quimbara (2011)

Sebastian Marino, 57, guitarist with metal bands Overkill, Anvil, on Jan. 1

Gangsta Boo, 43, rapper with hip hop band Three 6 Mafia, on Jan. 1
Gangsta Boo – Victim Of Yo Own Shit (2001)

Kingsize Taylor, 83, British rock & roll singer and guitarist, on Jab. 2
King Size Taylor and The Dominos – Stupidity (1964)

Alan Rankine, 64, Scottish keyboardist, guitarist and producer, on Jan. 3
The Associates – Party Fears Two (1982, also as co-writer)
Alan Rankine – The Sandman (1986)

Notis Mavroudis, 77, Greek guitarist and composer, on Jan. 3

Gordy Harmon, 79, singer with soul band The Whispers (1963-73), on Jan. 5
The Whispers – I Was Born When You Kissed Me (1966)

Kevin Lemons, 44, gospel singer, on Jan. 6

Jeff Blackburn, 77, rock songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 6
Neil Young – My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) (1979, as co-writer)

Danny Kaleikini, 85, Hawaiian singer, on Jan. 6

Steve James, 72, folk-blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 6

Tony Pantano, 74, Italian-born Australian singer, songwriter and actor, on Jan. 7
Tony Pantano – Every Time You Touch Me (1971)

Slim Newton, 90, Australian country singer-songwriter, on Jan. 8
Slim Newton – Redback On The Toilet Seat (1973, also as writer)

Séamus Begley, 73, Irish traditional musician, on Jan. 9

Frank Wyatt, musician, songwriter with prog-rock group Happy The Man, announced Jan. 10
Happy The Man – Open Book (1978, also as writer)

Jeff Beck, 78, guitar legend, on Jan. 10
The Yardbirds – For Your Love (1965, as member)
Jeff Beck – Hi Ho Silver Lining (1967, also as writer)
Stevie Wonder – Lookin’ For Another Pure Love (1972, on guitar)
Jeff Beck – Nessun Dorma (2010)

Dennis Budimir, 84, session guitarist with The Wrecking Crew, on Jan. 10
Chico Hamilton Quintet – Good Grief, Dennis (1959, as member)
The Fifth Dimension – Living Together, Growing Together (1973, on rhythm guitar)
Joni Mitchell – Trouble Child (1974, on electric guitar)
The Monkees – Wasn’t Born To Follow (1968/2016, on guitar)

Haakon Pedersen, 64, Norwegian singer, on Jan. 11

Robbie Bachman, 69, Canadian drummer of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, on Jan. 12
Brave Belt – Crazy Arms, Crazy Eyes (1971, as member)
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Takin’ Care Of Business (1973)
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Roll On Down The Highway (1975, also as co-writer)

Lisa Marie Presley, 54, singer-songwriter, on Jan. 12
Elvis Presley with Lisa Marie Presley – In The Ghetto (2007)
Lisa Marie Presley – You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (2011)

Thomasina Winslow, 57, blues musician, on Jan. 13
Thomasina Winslow – I’m Goin’ Away (2002)

Keith Beaton, 72, tenor singer with soul group Blue Magic, announced Jan. 14
Blue Magic – Stop To Start (1973)

Matthias Carras, 58, German pop singer, on Jan. 14

Yukihiro Takahashi, 70, drummer of Japanese electropop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, on Jan. 14
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Computer Game (1978, also as co-writer)
Yukihiro Takahashi – Drip Dry Eyes (1981)

J. Harris, 31, singer, American Idol contestant, on Jan. 15

Doris, 75, Swedish pop singer, on Jan. 15
Doris – Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby (1970)
Doris – Don’t (1970)

Bruce Gowers, 82, British television and music video director, on Jan. 15
Ambrosia – How Much I Feel (1978, as video director)

Johnny Powers, 84, American rockabilly singer and guitarist, on Jan. 16
Johnny Powers – Long Blond Hair, Red Rose Lips (1957, also as writer)

Larry Morris, 75, singer of New Zealand garage rock band Larry’s Rebels, on Jan. 17
Larry’s Rebels – Dream Time (1967)

Renee Geyer, 69, Australian jazz and soul singer, on Jan. 17
Renee Geyer – It’s A Man’s Man’s World (1973)
Renee Geyer – Stares And Whispers (1977)
Sting – Englishman In New York (1988, on backing vocals)

T.J. deBlois, 38, drummer of metal band A Life Once Lost, on Jan. 17

Van Conner, 55, bassist of grunge band Screaming Trees, on Jan. 17
Screaming Trees – Nearly Lost You (1992)

David Crosby, 81, folk-rock singer and songwriter, on Jan. 17
The Byrds – All I Really Want To Do (1965, as member; lead on bridge)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Almost Cut My Hair (1970, as writer & lead vocals)
David Crosby – Laughing (1971, also as writer)
David Crosby – Time I Have (1994, also as writer)

Gary Smith, producer, announced Jan. 18
Juliana Hatfield – Everybody Loves Me But You (1992, as producer)

Marcel Zanini, 99, Turkish-born French jazz musician, on Jan. 18

Rudy Englebert, 72, ex-bassist of Dutch band Herman Brood & His Wild Romance, on Jan. 19

Stella Chiweshe, 76, Zimbabwean mbira player, on Jan. 20

B.G., The Prince of Rap, 57, US-born German-based rapper and dance musician, on Jan. 21
BG, The Prince Of Rap – The Power Of The Rhythm (1992)

Nikos Xanthopoulos, 88, Greek actor and folk singer, on Jan. 22

Top Topham, 75, original guitarist The Yardbirds, on Jan. 23
Christine Perfect – I’m On My Way (1969, on guitar)

Carol Sloane, 85, jazz singer, on Jan. 23
Carol Sloane – Taking A Chance On Love (1962)

Cindy Williams, 75, actress and duetist as part of Laverne & Shirley, on Jan. 23
Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams – Five Years On (1977)

Jackson Rohm, 51, country and pop singer-songwriter, on Jan.24
Jackson Rohm – Never Alone (2018)

Dean Daughtry, 76, co-founder and keyboardist of Atlanta Rhythm Section, on Jan. 26
Classics IV feat. Dennis Yost – Traces (1968, as member)
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Champagne Jam (1978)

Floyd Sneed, 80, Canadian drummer of Three Dog Night, on Jan. 27
Three Dog Night – Rock & Roll Widow (1970, also as co-writer)

Tom Verlaine, 73, rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 28
Television – Venus (1977)
Tom Verlaine – Words From The Front (1982)
Tom Verlaine – Stalingrad (1990)
Tom Verlaine – Blue Light (2006)

Odd Børre, 83, Norwegian pop singer, on Jan. 28

Barrett Strong, 81, soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 29
Barret Strong – Money (1959, also as uncredited co-writer)
The Temptations – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1969, as co-writer)
Barrett Strong – Man Up In The Sky (1976, also as co-writer)
Barrett Strong – I Wish It Would Rain (2001, also as co-writer)

Heddy Lester, 72, Dutch singer and actress, half of duo April Shower, on Jan. 29
April Shower – Railroadsong (1971)

Charlie Thomas, 85, tenor singer with The Drifters (1958-67), on Jan. 31
The Drifters – Sweets For My Sweet (1961, on lead vocals)
The Drifters – When My Little Girl Is Smiling (1962, on lead vocals)

Donnie Marsico, 68, singer of rock band The Jaggerz, on Jan. 31
The Jaggerz – The Rapper (1970)


Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – December 2022

January 5th, 2023 5 comments

What a depressingly brutal, never-ending pestilent month closed down the year 2022! The list of music people who deserved a write-up is much longer than what I could find the time for. Those who might have featured most other months include Maxi Jazz of UK dance group Faithless, Lars Lönndahl (the “Swedish Sinatra”), the drummer of the Young Rascals or the bassist of The Tubes, Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, rock & roll singer Charlie Gracie, and more.

It was a truly awful month for soul fans, with three huge losses and a few smaller ones, and for English new wave/punk/indie/dance fans, for Portugal and Sweden….

Lastly, if you are of a sensitive nature, better don’t translate the title of the song by Italian band Stadio.


The Philly Soul Man
In July we lost Delfonics singer William ‘Poogie’ Hart, now the writer, producer and arranger of most of those great hits by The Delfonics (and The Stylistics and The Spinners) has left us. Thom Bell was in the vanguard in defining Philly Soul in the late 1960s and the ’70s, along with his collaborators Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

The son of Jamaican immigrants once sang in a band with Gamble, Huff and Daryl Hall, the future sidekick of John Oates. A classically-trained musician, Bell first worked for the Cameo/Parkway label, writing a series of songs and producing Chubby Checker and, by 1967, The Del Fonics (who’d soon streamline their name). With Poogie Hart, Bell wrote harmonies-heavy hits which would shape what we’d come to call Philly Soul, such as the parentheses-heavy classics La-La (Means I Love You), Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), and Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love). Bell also produced and arranged these tracks, and many others he didn’t co-write.

Other hits he wrote (many of them with Linda Creed) include The Stylistics’ I’m Stone In Love With You, You Make Me Feel Brand New, Betcha by Golly Wow, People Make The World Go Round, Ebony Eyes, Break Up To Make Up, Stop Look Listen (To Your Heart), and You Are Everything (the latter two were later covered by Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye); The Spinners’ I’ll Be Around, Ghetto Child, and The Rubberband Man (Bell only produced Could It Be I’m Falling In Love); Dusty Springfield’s Brand New Me (covered to great effect by Aretha Franklin); New York City’s I’m Doin’ Fine Now. (Links are to mixes that feature these tracks.)

Bell produced all the big Stylistics, Spinners and Delfonics hits, as well as records by acts like The O’Jays (including Backstabbers), Dionne Warwick (including her chart-topping duet with The Spinners, Then Came You), Johnny Mathis, Billy Paul, Ronnie Dyson, New York City, Elton John (including the 1979 hit Mama Can’t Buy You Love) and others. After Philly Soul faded away, Bell produced hits such as Deniece Williams’ It’s Gonna Take A Miracle James Ingram’s I Don’t Have The Heart.

In November we also lost Joseph Tarsia, in whose Sigma Sound Studios Bell created many of these hits.

The Pointer Sister
With the death on New Year’s Eve of Anita Pointer, there is only one surviving Pointer Sister, namely Ruth (who keeps carrying the Pointer flame with her daughter and granddaughter). Bonnie left us in 2020, and June in 2006.

Anita was the last sister to join the group. At one point, she was also in charge of making the most unexpected impact when she and Bonnie wrote the country-soul song Fairy Tale, a 1974 hit on which Anita took the lead vocals. It not only earned the sisters a Grammy for best country song but also a place on the stage of the usually integration-sceptic Grand Ole Opry. The following year, the song was covered by Elvis Presley. For the sisters, singing country was a normal extension of what they had grown up with. In 1986, Anita went on to have a country hit with Earl Thomas Conley, titled Too Many Times. The following year she released her only solo album.

Anita took the lead on many of Pointer Sister hits, including Yes We Can Can, Slow Hand, Fire (the original of which featured on Any Major Soul Originals Vol. 2), and the wonderful I’m So Excited.

The Specials One
Few artists manage to score hits with three different groups and then make a mark as a critically-acclaimed solo act. Terry Hall did so as lead singer of The Specials, then with his trio Fun Boy Three, then with The Colourfield — all in the space of just six years, between 1979 and ’85.

With The Specials he inspired a generation, in Britain and in many parts of Europe, of ska or two-tone fans. In 1981, Hall suddenly left The Specials and founded Fun Boy Three with two fellow Specials alumni. That group had hits of their own, and two more with Bananarama. One of these collaborations, with Bananarama as the headliners, was a cover of The Velvelettes’ Really Saying Something — and we lost a Velvelette in December, too.

In 1983, after four Top 10 hits — including Our Lips Are Sealed, which Hall wrote with The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin — the trio split. Hall went on to found The Colourfield, another trio, which scored one hit with the wonderful Thinking Of You (featured on A Life In Vinyl 1985 Vol. 1). Further bands and collaborations — notably with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and Steven Duffy — followed.

For much of his life Hall suffered from depression, a result of a horrifying crime of sexual abuse when he was 12. Known for his political principles, humility and kindness, Hall was widely mourned after his death by cancer at only 63.

The Soul Builder
It was a fiddle-playing hillbilly who changed rhythm & blues music so fundamentally that the record label he co-founded and ran has become a byword for soul music. Jim Stewart, who has died at 92, was the co-founder of Stax Records, the label that gave us a galaxy of soul stars such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, William Bell, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Eddie Floyd, the Bar-Kays, Johnnie Taylor, The Staple Singers, and so on. The label’s name was a contraction of the first letters of Stewart’s surname and that of co-founder Estelle Axton, his sister.

Stax was a non-racial oasis in segregated Memphis, with even the house session band racially mixed. Atlantic Records sent many of their acts to record at Stax; Atlantic also was a distributor for Stax, and screwed over the label royally in the late 1960s. This and the death of Redding forced the label to rebuild itself, as a subsidiary of Paramount. It did so to spectacular effect in the early 1970s, giving us the eternal gift that is Isaac Hayes, culminating in 1972’s Wattstax concert, the “Black Woodstock”. Even Elvis Presley recorded at Stax.

But financial troubles soon hit, especially owed taxes. Stewart lost almost all he had trying to save Stax. He returned to producing in the 1980s, but soon left the music business.


The Inspirer
As half of the folky Canadian singing-songwriting duo Ian & Sylvia, Ian Tyson helped inspire the greats of the genre which his country would soon give to the world, such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Gordon Lightfoot. The latter would later have a hit with his cover the duo’s Early Morning Rain, which featured in Any Major Orginals – The 1970s.

Tyson and Sylvia Fricker started performing in 1959, and had a number of hits as Ian & Sylvia and later with their band The Speckled Bird. They hosted a TV show, and in 2005 the Tyson-composed Four Strong Winds topped a poll by CBC Radio One listeners of the all-time greatest Canadian song. It has been covered by many great artists, including Canadians Neil Young and The Band.

Ian and Sylvia divorced amicably in 1975. Tyson enjoyed a long solo career in folk and country music.

The Strangler
In the first vanguard of punk in the UK were The Stranglers, though they could be better described as a pub-rock band. They certainly were older than the other bands in that vanguard, and drummer Jet Black was older than the other Stranglers. Black, who has died at 84, was in his late 30s when punk happened, and had success as a businessman before co-founding The Stranglers in 1974. He had 23 UK Top 40 singles with the band.

Black, born in 1938 as Brian Duffy, stayed with The Stranglers until 2018, when poor health forced his retirement.

The Velvelette
The narrative with Motown bands usually involve housing projects, high schools or factories. Not so with the Velvelettes, who had their roots at the music school of the Western Michigan University. There students Bertha Barbee-McNeal — who has died at 82 — and Mildred Gill formed The Velvelettes, roping in Bertha’s cousin Norma, Mildred’s sister Carolyn, and a friend. And it was their performances on campus that brought them to Motown’s attention in 1962.

The Velvelettes never broke huge — their biggest hit was the superb Needle In A Haystack, which reached US #45 — but they occupy a firm place in Motown’s history. By 1967, Bertha and all but one of the group left. Bertha went on to raise a family, obtained a masters degree in music education, and worked in that field in the Michigan city of Kalamazoo.

The Bob
The kindly Bob McGrath was a fixture of my childhood as one of the adults on Sesame Street, whose cast he joined at its inception 1969 and remained with for the following 36 years. Before he was Bob on Sesame Street, McGrath was a singer with easy listening legend Mitch Miller in the 1960s, and Miller presented an album of McGrath singing easy listening songs (it’s not my cup of tea, I have to say). McGrath also enjoyed a string of hits in Japan, singing in Japanese.

How decent a guy was Bob? Well, he remained married to his wife for 64 years, till his death at the age of 90.


The Composer
In June we lost Julee Cruise, who gave a voice to the theme of Twin Peaks. Now the theme’s composer Angelo Badalamenti, has followed her at the age of 85. The New York-born film and television composer had a rich vein of film scores, many with director David Lynch, including Blue Velvet, The Straight Story and Mulholland Drive. Badalamenti also scored films such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The City of Lost Children, Holy Smoke!, and A Very Long Engagement.

In his long career, which started in 1962, he also recorded with acts like Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Pet Shop Boys, Dusty Springfield, Marianne Faithfull, and David Bowie.

The Krautrock Guitarist
As the leader of the groups Ash Ra Tempel (with drummer Klaus Schulze and bassist Hartmut Enke) and Ashra in the 1970s and 80s, Manuel Göttsching was one of the most influential guitarists of the Krautrock genre. Born in 1952 in West-Berlin, he drew his influences widely, from the pop and rock of the 1960s he grew up with, from classical music, and from the free jazz which encouraged the trained classical guitarist to improvise. According to Wikipedia, “his style and technique influenced dozens of artists in the post-Eno ambient and Berlin School of electronic music scenes in the 1980s and 1990s”, a statement I’m not qualified to cast doubt on.

I don’t know if Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo have conveyed their crooning skills to record, but Brazilian football legend Pelé made a couple of compentent turns as a bossa nova singer, in 1969 in a duet with Regina Elis (written by Pelé himself) and in 1977 for the Sergio Mendes-produced soundtrack to a film about the GOAT’s life. On the latter, Pelé was accompanied by singer Gracinha Leporace (who also happened to be Mendes’ wife). On saxophone we hear Gerry Mulligan, on drums Jim Keltner — both also legends in their fields.

The Latino Belgian
Among the most unusual exponents of Latin music were the Chakachas, whose recording career spanned almost 20 years, from 1958 to 1977. Formed in Brussels, its members were all Flemish Belgians (and a Dutchman), including bandleader and percussionist Gaston Bogaerts, who has died at 101.

In the 1950s and 1960s — a time when cultural appropriation was not a problem yet — the Chakachas created Latin dance music, and even entered the lower reaches of the UK charts once, The group may be best known for their superb 1970 Latin funk song Jungle Fever, or perhaps 1972’s funk groover Stories.


The Casey
When The Beatles were one of several beat groups among many, their rivals for Merseybeat supremacy included Cass & the Cassanovas, whose leader Brian Casser (a.k.a. Casey Jones) has died at 86. Casser also ran his own club in Liverpool, the Casanova Club, where The Silver Beetles appeared. There is a story according to which it was Casser who suggested that the young band change the spelling of their proposed rebranded name from The Beatals to The Beatles.

Having moved to London, Casser restyled himself as Casey Jones, and formed Casey Jones and The Engineers, with whom he recorded a 1963 single, One Way Ticket. The group at one point included pre-fame Eric Clapton and Tom McGuinness. Soon Casey moved to Germany, where his group, now Casey Jones & The Governors, followed in the Beatles’ footsteps with a residency at Hamburg’s Star Club. The group had a few hits in West Germany, including Don’t Ha Ha, a reworking of Huey Smith’s Don’t You Just Know It.

Casey remained in Germany, working later as a DJ, and died there on December 27.

The Moog Co-inventor
One featured track here isn’t much to listen to, except as a historic artefact: “Jazz Images – A Worksong And Blues” was the first piece of music ever written for the Moog synthesizer by the instrument’s co-inventor, Herbert Deutsch, who has died at 90.

For pop music, the introduction of the Moog was a moment of revolution, with Giorgio Moroder being at the forefront in popularising it through his song Son Of My Father, which became a global hit in Chicory Tip’s cover in 1972.

The Hep Swede
In the 1960s, one of Sweden’s biggest groups was the Hep Stars, whose keyboard player, Benny Anderson, went on to become a global star and musical genius as one of the Bs in ABBA. At the height of their success, the Hep Stars’ lead singer was Svenne Hedlund, who has died at 77.

Hedlund was also a member of the band Idolerna, and with his US-born singer wife Charlotte formed the duo Svenne & Lotta in the late 1960s, having a string of minor hits in Europe as Sven & Charlotte (they divorced in 2014). The featured songs by the duo were written by old pals: Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. Dance is a cover of the ABBA album track, Funky Feet was intended for ABBA’s Arrival album but was rejected because it supposedly sounded too much like Dancing Queen.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.

Andrew Speight, 58, Australian-born saxophonist, in train accident on Dec. 1

Jo Carol Pierce, 78, singer-songwriter and playwright, on Dec. 2
Jo Carol Pierce – Borderline Tango (1995)

Svenne Hedlund, 77, Swedish singer (Hep Stars), on Dec. 3
The Hep Stars – Sunny Girl (1966)
Sven & Charlotte – Dance (While The Music Still Goes On) (1974)
Svenne & Lotta – Funky Feet (1977)

Bobby Naughton, 78, jazz vibraphonist and pianist, on Dec. 3
Bobby Naughton – Nauxtagram (2014)

Alexandre Zelkine, 84, French folk music singer, on Dec. 3

Jamie Freeman, 57, British singer and songwriter (actor Martin’s brother), on Dec. 3
The Jamie Freeman Agreement – Steel Away (2013)

Manuel Göttsching, 70, German musician (Ash Ra Tempel) and composer, on Dec. 4
Ash Ra Tempel – Daydream (1973)
Ashra – Sunrain (1977)

Jim Stewart, 92, co-founder of Stax Records, producer, on Dec. 5
Otis Redding – Respect (1965, as producer)
Wilson Pickett – 634-5789 (Soulsville) (1966, as producer)
The Soul Children – Hearsay (1972, as producer)
Shirley Brown – Woman To Woman (1974, as co-producer)

Bob McGrath, 90, actor and singer (Sesame Street), on Dec. 4
Bob McGrath – On The Street Where You Live (1965)
Bob and Sesame Street Cast – People In Your Neighborhood (1969)

Hamsou Garba, 63, Niger singer, on Dec. 5

Jess Barr, 46, guitarist of band Slobberbone, on Dec. 5
Slobberbone – Pinball Song (2000)

Alexandre Zelkine, 84, French folk music singer, on Dec. 5

Jet Black, 84, drummer of The Stranglers, on Dec. 6
The Stranglers – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) (1977)
The Stranglers – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy (1978)
The Stranglers – Always The Sun (1986)

Hamish Kilgour, 65, co-founder of New Zealand indie band The Clean, found Dec. 6
The Clean – Flowers (1982)

Peter Cooper, 52, country singer, songwriter, producer, exec, journalist, on Dec. 6
Peter Cooper – Wine (2008)

Fionna Duncan, 83, Scottish jazz singer, on Dec. 6

Carmen Jara, 85, Spanish copla singer, on Dec. 6
Carmen Jara – Amor que te di (1966)

Quin Ivy, 85, soul songwriter and producer, on Dec. 7
Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman (1966, as co-producer)
Bill Brandon – Rainbow Road (1969, as producer)

Roddy Jackson, 80, rock & roll singer, songwriter and pianist, on Dec. 7
Roddy Jackson – I’ve Got My Sights On Someone New (1958)

Mack Allen Smith, 84, rockabilly and blues singer, on Dec. 7
Mack Allen Smith – Skeleton Fight (1964)

Leno, 73, Brazilian singer, guitarist and composer, on Dec. 8

Djalma Corrêa, 80, Brazilian musician and composer, on Dec. 8
Djalma Correa – Salsa (1984)

Yitzhak Klepter, 72, guitarist of Israeli bands The Churchills, Kaveret, on Dec. 8

Gaston Bogaerts, 101, bandleader and percussionist of Belgian Latin-funk band Chakachas, on Dec. 9
Les Chakachas – Eso es el amor (1958)
Chakachas – Jungle Fever (1970)
Chakachas – Stories (1972)

Herbert Deutsch, 90, co-inventor of the Moog synthesizer, composer, on Dec. 9
Herbert Deutsch – Jazz Images – A Worksong And Blues (1960s, first music written for Moog)

Tony Hill, rhythm guitarist of UK-based rock group The Misunderstood, announced Dec. 10
The Misunderstood – I Can Take You To The Sun (1966, also as co-writer)

J.J. Barnes, 79, soul singer, on Dec. 10
J. J. Barnes – Hold On To It (1968)
J.J. Barnes – She’s Mine (1976)

Tshala Muana, 64, Congolese singer, on Dec. 10
Tshala Muana – Cicatrice d’amour (1985)

Zak Godwin, 57, rock guitarist and singer, in hit-and-run on Dec. 10
Zak Godwin – Missin’ The Muse (2000)

José Ángel Trelles, 78, Argentine singer, musician and composer, on Dec. 10

Tracy Hitchings, 60, former lead singer of UK prog-rock group Landmarq, on Dec. 10
Landmarq – Prayer (Coming Home) (2012)

Georgia Holt, 96, singer and actress (mother of Cher), on Dec. 10
Georgia Holt – I Sure Don’t Want To Love You (2013)

Angelo Badalamenti, 85, film and television composer, on Dec. 11
Christine Hunter – Santa Bring Me Ringo (1964, as co-writer and arranger)
Nina Simone – I Hold No Grudge (1967, as co-writer)
Angelo Badalamenti – Theme from Twin Peaks (1990, as writer and conductor)

Stuart Margolin, 82, TV actor, singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12
Shango – Day After Day (It’s Slippin’ Away) (1969, as co-writer)

Roberto Ferri, 75, Italian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12

Ekambi Brillant, 74, Cameroonian makossa singer, on Dec. 12
Ekambi Brillant – Ayo Mba (1977)

Sol Amarfio, 84, Ghanaian drummer of Afro-funk band Osibisa, on Dec. 13
Osibisa – Flying Bird Anoma (1976)

Lalo Rodríguez, 64, Puerto Rican salsa singer, on Dec. 13
Lalo Rodriguez – Tu No Sabes Querer (1980)

Grand Daddy I.U., 54, rapper with Juice Crew, on Dec. 13
Grand Daddy I.U. – Something New (1990)

Kim Simmonds, 75, founder and guitarist of English rock group Savoy Brown, on Dec. 13
Savoy Brown – Cold Hearted Woman (1981)

Benjamin Bossi, 69, saxophonist of new wave band Romeo Void, on Dec. 13
Romeo Void – A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing) (1984)

Koji Ryu, 60, member of Japanese pop band C-C-B, on Dec. 14

Rock Nalle, 79, Danish rock musician, on Dec. 14
Nalle – Amanda (1980)

Djene Djento, 59, Cameroonian singer-songwriter, on Dec. 14

Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss, 40, DJ on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, suicide announced Dec. 14

Dino Danelli, 78, drummer of The Rascals, on Dec. 15
The Young Rascals – Good Lovin’ (1966)
The Young Rascals – How Can I Be Sure (1967)

Shirley Eikhard, 67, Canadian singer-songwriter, on Dec. 15
Shirley Eikhard – Say You Love Me (1976, as writer)

Bertha Barbee-McNeal, 82, founding member of The Velvelettes, on Dec. 16
The Velvelettes – Needle In A Haystack (1964)
The Velvelettes – These Things Will Keep Me Loving You (1966)

Rick Anderson, 75, bassist of The Tubes, on Dec. 16
The Tubes – Don’t Touch Me There (1976)
The Tubes – The Monkey Time (1983)

Jean-Paul Corbineau, 74, singer-songwriter with French folk-rock band Tri Yann, on Dec. 16
Tri Yann – Si mort à mors (1981, also as co-writer)

DJ Shog, 46, German trance DJ and producer, on Dec. 16

Charlie Gracie, 86, rock & roll singer, on Dec. 17
Charlie Gracie – Butterfly (1957)

Yuji Tanaka, 65, drummer of Japanese rock band Anzen Chitai, on Dec. 17

Terry Hall, 63, English singer and songwriter, on Dec. 18
The Specials – Gangsters (1983)
Fun Boy Three – The Tunnel Of Love (1983)
Colourfield – Castles In The Air
Terry Hall – Sonny And His Sister (1997)

Martin Duffy, 55, keyboardist with English groups Felt, Primal Scream, on Dec. 18
Felt feat. Elizabeth Fraser – Primitive Painters (1985)
Primal Scream – Rocks (1994)

Sandy Edmonds, 74, New Zealand pop singer, on Dec. 19
Sandy Edmonds – Daylight Saving Time (1967)

Randy Begg, 71, drummer of Canadian pop band Wednesday, on Dec. 20
Wednesday – Last Kiss (1973)

Iain Templeton, drummer of British rock band Shack, on Dec. 20
Shack – Natalie’s Party (1999)

Anton Habibulin, 44, guitarist of Russian rick band Tantsy Minus, on Dec. 20

Claudisabel, 40, Portuguese singer, car accident on Dec. 20
Claudisabel – Não Vou Voltar A Chorar (2002)

Mauro Sabbione, 65, keyboardist of Italian pop group Matia Bazar, on Dec. 21

Harvey Jett, 73, guitarist of rock band Black Oak Arkansas (1970–74), on Dec. 21
Black Oak Arkansas – Hot And Nasty (1971)

Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington, 79, blues singer and guitarist, on Dec. 22
Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington – It’s Rainin’ In My Life (2011)

Thom Bell, 79, Jamaican-born soul songwriter, producer and arranger, on Dec. 22
The Delfonics – Ready Or Not Here I Come (1969, as co-writer, co-producer, arranger)
The Stylistics – You Make Me Feel Brandnew (1973, as co-writer, producer)
Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye – You Are Everything (1974, as writer)
The Spinners – Rubberband Man (1976, as co-writer, producer)

Big Scarr, 22, rapper, on Dec. 22

Maxi Jazz, 65, musician, rapper, singer, songwriter of UK electronic band Faithless, on Dec. 23
Maxi Jazz – What More Can I Say? (1992)
Faithless feat. Dido – One Step Too Far (2002, also as co-writer)

Massimo Savić, 60, Croatian singer of Yugoslav rock band Dorian Gray, on Dec. 23

Madosini, 78, South African traditional musician, on Dec. 24
Madonisi – Uthando Luphelile (1997)

Mampintsha, 40, member of South African kwaito band Big Nuz, on Dec. 24
Big Nuz – Serious (2013, also as co-writer)

Freddie Roulette, 83, blues guitarist and singer, on Dec. 24
Freddie Roulette – Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (1999)

Luther ‘Guitar Junior’ Johnson, 83, blues singer and guitarist, on Dec. 25
Luther Johnson – Luther’s Blues (1976)

Camilo Azuquita, 76, Panamanian salsa singer and composer, on Dec. 25
Camilo Azuquita – Borombon (1969)

Penda Dallé, 64, Cameroonian Mokassa musician and artist, on Dec. 26

Lasse Lönndahl, 94, Swedish singer and actor, on Dec. 26
Lars Lönndahl – Tangokavaljeren (1949)

Alexander Shevchenko, 61, Russian singer, composer and producer, on Dec. 26

James ‘Jabbo’ Ware, 80, jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 26

Ashley Henderson, bassist of Australian soul-funk band Stylus, announced Dec. 27
Stylus – I Just Don’t Wanna Fall In Love (1976, also as writer)
Stylus  Funky Fig (1976, also as co-writer)

Harry Sheppard, 94, jazz vibraphonist, on Dec. 27

Brian Casser, 86, British rock & roll singer and guitarist, announced Dec. 27
Casey Jones and His Engineers – One Way Ticket (1963)
Casey Jones & The Governors – Don’t Ha Ha (1964)

Jo Mersa Marley, 31, Jamaican reggae musician, Bob’s grandson, on Dec. 27

John Neff, 71, musician, songwriter, producer, engineer, producer, on Dec. 27
Buffy Sainte-Marie – Starwalker (1992, on bass)

Pat Briggs, member of industrial band Psychotica, on Dec. 27

Scott Nash, bassist of Australian hard rock band Asteroid B-612, on Dec. 28
Asteroid B-612 – Edge A Little Closer (1994)

Linda de Suza, 74, Portuguese singer, on Dec. 28
Linda de Suza – Un Portugais (1978)

Black Stalin, 81, Trinidadian calypso musician, on Dec. 28

Ian Tyson, 89, Canadian folk singer and songwriter, half of Ian & Sylvia, on Dec. 29
Ian & Sylvia – Four Strong Winds (1963, also as writer)
Ian Tyson – Fifty Years Ago (1963, also as writer

Pelé, 82, Brazilian football legend and bossa nova singer, on Dec. 29
Pelé & Elis Regina – Perdão, Não Tem (1969, also as writer)
Pelé & Gracinha – Meu Mundo é Uma Bola (1977)

Margriet Eshuijs, 70, Dutch singer, on Dec. 29

Giovanni Pezzoli, 70, drummer of Italian pop-rock group Stadio, on Dec. 29
Stadio – Grande figlio di puttana (1982)

Vivienne Westwood, 81, British fashion designer and punk pioneer, on Dec. 29
The Sex Pistols – Who Killed Bambi (1979, as co-writer)

Jeremiah Green, 45, drummer of indie band Modest Mouse, on Dec. 30
Modest Mouse – The View (2004)

Anita Pointer, 74, singer and songwriter with the Pointer Sisters, on Dec. 31
The Pointer Sisters – Fairy Tale (1974, also as co-writer and on lead vocals)
The Pointer Sisters – Fire (1979, also on lead vocals)
The Pointer Sisters – I’m So Excited (1982, also as co-writer and on lead vocals)
Anita Pointer – Temporarily Blue (1987)


Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2022

December 6th, 2022 6 comments

In a busy month for the Reaper, the age-range of victims he claimed was huge: the oldest was 104, the youngest 24. The former first appeared in stage in 1930 and had her first hit in 1939; the latter, Danish singer Hugo Helmig, had his first international hit in 2017. I had never heard of Helmig before, but he clearly was an appealing artist. As I’ll explain later, the In Memoriam series is a good way of discovering new music; I enjoyed checking out Helmig’s music, and feel sad that there won’t be any more of it.

Another death of a singer I had never heard of before touched me this month. Jake Flint, a singer-songwriter in the red dirt sub-genre of country, should have started a tour last Friday. Instead he died in his sleep at the age of 37. The tragic kicker: Flint died a day and a half after his wedding… His widow Brenda wrote: “We should be going through wedding photos but instead I have to pick out clothes to bury my husband in.”


The Perfect Christine
Nothing against the name McVie, but why would you take that name when your birth-name was Perfect, literally. When Christine Perfect married Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie she took his surname, to become Christine McVie — even though she had already enjoyed success with her “maiden” name, as a solo act and as the lead singer of Chicken Shack. With the latter, she had a big hit with a cover of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind. In 1969 and 1970, she was voted female vocalist of the year in the UK music weekly Melody Maker.

Few would have bet on it that Christine McVie would become the first of the classic Fleetwood Mac line-up to die, even though at 79, she was the oldest. She just seemed the most grounded of the lot, the one least likely to overdo the drug and the booze.

Her songwriting contribution to Fleetwood Mac was immense, with songs such as Over My Head, Warm Ways, Say You Love Me, Don’t Stop, Songbird, You Make Loving Fun, Oh Daddy, Think About Me, Love In Store, Hold Me, Little Lies, and Everywhere. On the Fleetwood Mac’s 1988 Greatest Hits album, half of the 16 tracks were written or co-written by Christine McVie. Shhe was the centre of Fleetwood Mac.

Remember Her Name
She should have been a superstar, as a singer, an actress and a dancer. The 1980 film Fame set Irene Cara up for both, with her having already made a mark in the title role of the musical drama Sparkle. She played a central role in Fame, performed the superb title song, sang the showstopper Out Her On My Own, and was part of the other great Fame track, I Sing The Body Electric. Cara was the first singer to perform two Oscar-nominated songs at an Academy Awards show. With her talents and beauty, she should have been the biggest star in the world.

It didn’t go that way. Three years after Fame, Cara had a mega-hit with Flashdance…What A Feeling, one of the great pop sings of the 1980s, which she also co-wrote and for which she won an Oscar. But again, the huge success didn’t translate into great, well, fame. In 1984 she had a final US Top 10 hit, with the mediocre Breakdance. Her total US chart history: Three Top 10 hits, two Top 20s, one Top 40, two Top 100s.

Because of a long-running law suit with her record label over unpaid royalties (which she eventually won, after eight years), Cara was effectively blacklisted, with RSO — the label for which she had helped make so much money through the Fame soundtrack — sending out threatening letters to other labels, warning them off Cara. Her recording career ground to a halt after her 1987 Carasmatic album, until in 2011 she formed an R&B group called Hot Caramel, with whom she released one CD. Cara also recorded in Spanish (she was half-black Cuban, half-Puerto Rican). Before she was blackballed, she appeared in a few movies, contributed to soundtracks, and did backing vocals. In the 1990s, she had a few minor dance hits in Europe

The Black Monroe
In the 1950s, Joyce Bryant was known as the “Black Marilyn Monroe”, and inspired singers like Etta James to play with sexuality in their music. Born in 1928, Bryant made her mark as a nightclub singer in the 1940s. One night she decided to paint her hair silver in a bid to upstage Josephine Baker. It became her trademark. A young woman of great courage, she broke the colour barsin Miami when she performed at a whites-only club, despite threats and the KKK burning her in effigy.

Regarded as one of the first black sex symbols, Bryant also had a successful recording career in the early 1950s, scoring a hit with her version of Love For Sale, which got banned from radio for being too raunchy. And suddenly in 1955, she left the music business because it clashed with her fervent religious beliefs as a Seventh Day Adventist, and because she was disgusted with the exploitative club culture, with its gangsters and violence against women (she once was beaten in her dressing room after rejecting the advances of a man). She’d later return in the 1960s as a vocal coach and opera singer.

By then, Bryant was immersed in civil rights activism and social upliftment projects, often working with Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

The Pub Rock Executioner
The roots of UK punk are diverse, but leading among them was the pub rock scene, some of whose exponents, such as The Stranglers, were considered part of the punk vanguard. Perhaps the most influential of those on punk and the post-punk wave was Dr. Feelgood, a blues-rock band formed in 1971. Its co-founder and guitarist was Wilko Johnson, whose moniker is a near anagram of his real name, John Wilkinson. His percussive fingerstyle guitar playing (without a pick) has been so influential that in some circles he became a cult figure.

Johnson, who has died at 75 after a long battle with cancer, founded a string of bands after leaving Dr. Feelgood in 1977, but in 1980 he joined an already successful band, Ian Dury’s Blockheads, for a few years. He was a friend of collaborations, the most high-profile of these may be the one he struck up with Who frontman Roger Daltrey in 2014.

In between, Johnson filled the central part in perhaps the most pivotal scene in the TV series Game Of Thrones: he played the executioner who cut off Ned Stark’s head. He was well-qualified for that role — his BA degree in English and Literature included courses on Anglo-Saxon and ancient Icelandic sagas, which pretty much is the GoT universe.


The Sinatra Discoverer
It is quite mind-blowing that until just a couple of weeks ago, a singer who had helped a still quite unknown Frank Sinatra along the way to stardom was still with us. Louise Tobin died on November 26 at the age of 104 — 92 year after she first performed on stage. In the 1930s she was singing with bandleaders like Benny Goodman while being married to another famous bandleader, Harry James. It was on Tobin’s recommendation that James signed Frank Sinatra to his first gig fronting a big band, in March 1939, before the kid moved on to Tommy Dorsey. It was with Harry James and his Orchestra that Sinatra recorded his first record, a commercial flop.

That same year, Tobin had a big hit as the vocalist for Benny Goodman with I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (a Rodgers & Hart song Sinatra would sing in 1954 for the film Pal Joey). Tobin recorded and performed with a string of big bands in the 1940s; her reputation was such that Johnny Mercer wrote a song about her, Louise Tobin Blues. In the 1950s Tobin withdrew from music to raise her sons.

She made a well-received comeback in 1962, and toured extensively for many years. In between, she co-owned a jazz club in Denver with second husband Peanuts Hucko, at which both also performed.

The Bob Marley Keyboardist
Do you remember Grace Jones’ 1983 song My Jamaican Guy? It was about reggae keyboardist Tyrone Downie, who has died at 66. By the time Grace serenaded about him, Downie was already a veteran of Jamaica’s reggae scene, as a recording artist in his own right and as keyboardist for several top acts, including Bob Marley & The Wailers (on albums like Exodus, Babylon By Bus, Kaya, Survival, and Uprising), and Peter Tosh (such as Legalize It, Equal Rights), sometimes also contributing backing vocals. He was also part of the Marley & The Wailer’s live band.

He also backed acts like Burning Spear, Johnny Nash, Dennis Brown, Rita Marley, Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club, Ian Dury, Sly & Robbie, Garland Jeffreys, Deniece Williams, Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGregor, Gregory Isaacs, Black Uhuru, Ziggy Marley, Youssou N’Dour, Shabba Ranks and many others.

The Lo-Fier
It is a shame that cancer claimed Mimi Parker, singer and drummer of indie band Low, just a few weeks before Christmas, since the band released a string of Christmas-themed songs over a three-decade career, with titles such as Just Like Christmas, If You Were Born Today (Song for Little Baby Jesus), Santa’s Coming Over, and Some Hearts (At Christmas Time). And yet, when it comes to long battles with cancer and the bastard is winning it, release may be a matter of joy. And as a Mormon, Parker believed that death would not be the end. I hope Mimi’s was a good death.

Low were Parker and husband Alan Sparhawk, plus the occasional bassist. Mimi was mostly in charge of the low-fi sound, which is said to have reflected her quiet nature, while Alan was the rockier component.

The Sound Man
Philly Soul is mostly the creation of Gamble, Huff and Bell, but it was also the sound of Joseph Tarsia, in whose Sigma Sound Studios much of the Sound of Philadelphia was created. And often, Tarsia would be involved in the recordings as an engineer, alone or with other engineers.

In the 1960s, Tarsia worked as a recording engineer with Cameo Parkway Records (whose roster included future Philly legends such as Dee Dee Sharp and Bunny Sigler). In 1967 he decided to set up his own studio. He sold his car, house and other possessions, and leased an old studio in Philadelphia, upgrading its equipment from 2-track to 8-track. Among the early clients were The Delfonics, who recorded their 1968 La La I Love You album there. Soon the studio had to run around the clock to accommodate demand that ranged from Aretha Franklin to ZZ Top.

In 1976 Tarsia opened three studios in New York, also named Sigma Sound Studios. Among those who recorded there were Steely Dan, Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and Paul Simon.


The Woodwinder
As a session musician who could chip in on the sax, clarinet, flute, oboe, English horn, piccolo or pretty much any woodwind instrument, Gene Cipriano by 2019 had played 58 successive years in the Academy Awards orchestra.

A long-time collaborator with Henry Mancini — for whom he played the flute on the timeless theme of Peter Gunn — and other film composers, going back to the 1950s, Cipriano played on many soundtracks, including the original West Side Story. For Some Like It Hot, Cipriano played the saxophone parts for Tony Curtis’ character. Later film contributions included Hatari!, The Tomas Crown Affair, Escape From Alcatraz, The Wild Bunch, Charade,  And Justice For All, Airplane!, The Right Stuff, Romancing The Stone, The Color Purple, The Goonies, The Karate Kid, Cocoon, The Naked Gun, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bad Boys, and many others. Add to that a huge list of TV music he played on.

In the 1950s he played for people like Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Nat King Cole, and Anita O’Day. As a member of the Wrecking Drew, he backed acts like Glen Campbell, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Mason Williams, Frank Zappa, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Barbra Streisand, Michael Franks, Neil Diamond, Judee Sill, The 5th Dimension, Boodstone, Andy Williams, Dennis Coffey, Etta James, Peggy, Anne Murray, Nancy Wilson and John Denver. Later he played with the likes of Tom Waits, Lionel Richie, Prince, Frank Sinatra (on the Duets album), Natalie Cole (Unforgettable), Lady Gaga, Gregory Porter, and Barry Manilow, Michael Bublé, and Daft Punk.

The Nazareth Singer
In July we lost the lead guitarist of Nazareth’s classic line up, Manny Charlton; in November the Scottish hard rock band’s lead singer, Dan McCafferty, followed him. McCafferty had been a founding member of the group in 1968, and stayed with it until health forced his retirement in 2013. So it his voice that can’t make up its mind whether to love or hate the band’s best-known hit, a cover of the Everly Brothers’ Love Hurts.

Nazareth fun fact: The group didn’t name itself after Jesus’ hometown in Galilee but after the town by the same name in Pennsylvania, which got namechecked in The Band’s song The Weight.

The Post-punk Pioneer
In Public Image Ltd, or PiL, John Lydon and Jah Wobble were the stars, but fans will credit Keith Levene, who has died at 65, with being an at least equally important member of the band, as a guitarist, songwriter and producer. He was a member when PiL was formed as a post-Sex Pistols vehicle for Lydon, who at the same time dropped his Johnny Rotten moniker. Levene left PiL in 1983 over creative differences.

Levene was also a founding member of The Clash, and persuaded Joe Strummer to join the band. He left before The Clash recorded anything, but contributed the song What’s My Name to their first album.

The Star Rapper
I am so out of touch with the latest in popular music that I had no idea who rapper Takeoff was when his death, killed by what seems to be stray bullets in a shoot-out, was announced. It turns out that as a third of the hip hop trio Migos, the 28-year-old had scored a number of US Top 10 hits, including Stir Fry, MotorSport featuring Nicki Minaj & Cardi B, and Walk It Talk It featuring Drake. Her scored two #1 albums, and two Grammy nominations.

Remarkably, the man born as Kirshnik Khari Ball rapped in Migos with his uncle, Quavo, as well as a cousin — a true family affair. Shortly before the rapper’s killing on November 1, Takeoff and Quavo released a video for the song Messy. Apparently at 2:40 one can see a poster with the legend “RIP” next to Takeoff. In a spooky mindfuck, Takeoff was killed in a shooting at 02:40.


The Apple Outlaw
As a young record company exec with Capitol in the 1960s, Ken Mansfield oversaw the careers of acts like The Beach Boys, Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry, Lou Rawls, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard among others, but his biggest-name charges were The Beatles. And The Fab’s were so impressed with Mansfield’s promotion work for them in the States that they appointed him US manager of their new Apple label in 1968.

In that role Mansfield was one of the organisers of The Beatles’ famous rooftop concert in 1969, an event he later wrote a book about (another book he wrote on The Beatles apparently is the only one that received the approval of Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko, other than the Anthology). In the film footage of the Rooftop Concert, you can spot him wearing the white coat.

It was Mansfield whose intervention persuaded The Beatles to release Hey Jude as a single, instead of Revolution. Hey Jude was thought to be too long, so Mansfield played the two contenders to a sample of US radio DJs. They told him that Hey Jude would be a hit, even at its length. And so it turned out to be…

After the Apple adventure, Mansfield became a prolific, especially records by outlaw country musicians such as Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser. He also produced acts like Claudine Longet, Don Ho and Nick Gilder.

The Discovery
One of the great things about doing this series is to discover artists and music I’d never heard of. If these acts were still a going concern when circumstances conspired to make them known to me, then these discoveries are bitter-sweet, because there won’t be any new music made by them. So it is in the case of English soul singer Noel McKoy, whose death at 62 prompted me to investigate his music. I loved almost everything I heard of his retro-tinged soul music, and the acid jazz stuff he did with the James Taylor Quartet (not that James Taylor).

The Boomtown Rat
Where do #1 artists go when their group sinks? Garry Roberts, who has died at 72, scored a string of hits as guitarist behind Bob Geldof in The Boomtown Rats, including two #1s (Rat Trap; I Don’t Like Mondays) and seven more Top 20 hits between 1977-80. The Boomtown Rats, which Roberts had co-founded with pyjama-clad keyboardist Johnny Fingers, disbanded in 1986.

Subsequently, Roberts gigged as a sound engineer before becoming a financial adviser. After 15 years he was disillusioned with the insurance industry (who can blame him?) and became a central heating engineer. All the while, he kept playing with a reconstituted Boomtown Rats.

The Smurf Xenophobe
Vader Abraham didn’t mind his immigrants small and blue, but the Smurfs singer didn’t like them brown. For a short while, the Dutch singer and songwriter Pierre Kartner, one-time member of 1960s million-selling band Corry & de Rekels, brutalised much of Europe with his grating Smurfs songs. He also turned his talents to writing racist songs. In the 1970s — before he became the beloved father of the Smurfs — he asked in song: “What shall we do with the Arabs here? They can’t be trusted with our pretty women here.” He also warbled about the unemployed being to blame for their own condition since they all are drunks in bars. What a total klootzak! Later Kartner recorded a campaign song with far-right populist Pim Fortuyn. Alas, it wasn’t titled “Alle verdomde Smurfen haten me nu omdat ik een dweper ben”.

In his time Kartner is said to have written thousands of songs. Of those, one, Het kleine café aan de haven, was a hit that merited being recorded in different languages throughout Europe, for singers like Mireille Mathieu, Joe Dassin, Engelbert Humperdinck, Audrey Landers, Demis Roussos, and Peter Alexander (whose ingratiating German version, Unsere kleine Kneipe, was a big hit in Germany in 1977). It wasn’t very good, but at least it wasn’t intrinsically annoying nor did it promote racism.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.

Joseph Tarsia, 88, engineer and owner of Sigma Sound Studios, on Nov. 1
Daddy Kae & Yvonne – Eleven Commandments Of Woman (1966, as engineer)
The Delfonics – La La Means I Love You (1968, as engineer)
The O’Jays – I Love Music (1975, as engineer)

Takeoff, 28, rapper with hip hop trio Migos, murdered on Nov. 1
Migos – Stir Fry (2016)
Migos feat. Drake – Walk It Talk It (2018)

Gerd Dudek, 84, German jazz saxophonist, clarinetist and flautist, on Nov. 3

Noel McKoy, 62, British soul singer, on Nov. 3
James Taylor Quartet with Noel McKoy – Love The Life (1993)
Noel McKoy – Love Under Control (1998)
Noel McKoy – Fly Away With Me (2009)

Nicole Josy, 76, half of Belgian duo Nicole & Hugo, on Nov. 4

Carmelo La Bionda, 73, half of Italian disco duo La Bionda and songwriter, on Nov. 5
La Bionda – One For You, One For Me (1978, also as co-writer)

Mimi Parker, 55, singer and drummer of indie band Low, on Nov. 5
Low – Sleep At The Bottom (1998)
Low – Everybody’s Song (2005)
Low – Some Hearts (At Christmas Time) (2016)

Aaron Carter, 34, pop singer, on Nov. 5
Aaron Carter – Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) (2000)

Tyrone Downie, 66, Jamaican keyboardist, producer and arranger, on Nov. 5
Tyrone Downie – Movie Skank (1972)
Peter Tosh – Legalize It (1976)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Is This Love (1978, on keyboards)

Tame One, 52, rapper, on Nov. 5

Dan Fawcett, 52, guitarist of Canadian rock band Helix (2202-04), found Nov. 6

Hurricane G, 52, rapper, on Nov. 6
Hurricane G. – Somebody Else (1997)

Joe Baque, 100, jazz pianist, on Nov. 6

Don Lewis, 81, synth pioneer, singer, engineer, on Nov. 6
The Don Lewis Experience – And They’ll Know

Ali Birra, 72, Ethiopian singer, on Nov. 6

Jeff Cook, 73, singer and musician with country band Alabama, on Nov. 7
Alabama – Mountain Music (1982)

Michel Bühler, 77, Swiss chanson singer-songwriter, on Nov. 7
Michel Bühler – Mon Père (1976)

Claes-Göran Hederström, 77, Swedish singer, on Nov. 8

Dan McCafferty, 76, singer of Scottish rock band Nazareth, on Nov. 8
Nazareth – Broken Down Angel (1973, also as co-writer)
Dan McCafferty – The Honky Tonk Downstairs (1978)
Nazareth – Where Are You Now (1983)

Will Ferdy, 95, Belgian singer, on Nov. 8

Garry Roberts, 72, guitarist of The Boomtown Rats, on Nov. 8
The Boomtown Rats – Looking After No 1 (1977)
The Boomtown Rats – Someone’s Looking At You (1979)

PierreVader Abraham’ Kartner, 87, Dutch singer, racist and songwriter, on Nov. 8
Mireille Mathieu – Le vieux café de la rue d’Amérique (1976, as co-writer)

Gal Costa, 77, Brazilian singer, on Nov. 8
Gal Costa – Meu nome é Gal (1969)
Gal Costa – Festa do interior (1982)

Mattis Hætta, 63, Norwegian singer, on Nov. 9

Nik Turner, 82, musician with rock band Hawkwind, on Nov. 10
Hawkwind – Master Of The Universe (1972, also as co-writer)
Nik Turner – The Visitor (Space Gypsy) (2013)

Chris Koerts, 74, guitarist of Dutch pop group Earth and Fire, on Nov. 10
Earth and Fire – Memories (1972)

Keith Levene, 65, English guitarist with Public Image Ltd, songwriter, on Nov. 11
The Clash – What’s My Name (1977, as writer)
Public Image Ltd – Public Image (1978)
Public Image Ltd – Flowers Of Romance (1981, also as co-writer, engineer)

Rab Noakes, 75, Scottish folk singer, songwriter and drummer, on Nov. 11
Rab Noakes – Together Forever (1970)

Sven-Bertil Taube, 87, Swedish folk singer and actor, on Nov. 11

Gene Cipriano, 94, woodwind musician and session musician, on Nov. 12
Henry Mancini – Theme from Peter Gunn (1958, on flute)
Barbra Streisand – Love (1971, on oboe and clarinet)
Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down (1973, on baritone sax)
Daft Punk – Beyond (2013, on bass clarinet)

Jerzy Połomski, 89, Polish singer and actor, on Nov. 14

Mick Goodrick, 77, jazz guitarist, on Nov. 16

B. Smyth, 28, R&B singer and songwriter, on Nov. 17
B. Smyth – Win Win (2023)

Ken Mansfield, 85, producer and label manager (Apple), on Nov. 17
Claudine Longet – Wake Up To Me Gentle (1972, as writer and producer)
Jessi Colter – What’s Happened To Blue Eyes (1975, as co-producer)

Tommy Facenda, 83, rock & roll singer and guitarist, on Nov. 18
Tommy Facenda – High School USA (1959)

Nico Fidenco, 89, Italian singer and film composer, on Nov. 19
Nico Fidenco – Legata ad un granello di Sabbia (1961; Italy’s first million-seller)

Danny Kalb, 80, guitarist and singer with blues-rock band Blues Project, on Nov. 19
The Blues Project – Two Trains Running (1966, on lead vocals)

DJ Sumbody, South African dance musician and producer, shot on Nov. 20

Joyce Bryant, 95, American singer and civil rights activist, on Nov. 20
Joyce Bryant – Drunk With Love (1950)
Joyce Bryant – Love For Sale (1952)
Joyce Bryant – After You’ve Gone (1953)

David Ornette Cherry, 64, jazz musician, on Nov. 20

Wilko Johnson, 75, guitarist (Dr. Feelgood), songwriter, actor, on Nov. 21
Dr. Feelgood – Roxette (1974, also as writer)
Wilko Johnson – When I’m Gone (1980)
Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – Ice On The Motorway (2014)

Pablo Milanés, 79, Cuban singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22
Pablo Milanés – El Guerrero (1983)

Erasmo Carlos, 81, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22
Erasmo Carlos – Sentado à beira do caminho (1969)

Hugo Helmig, 24, Danish singer-songwriter, on Nov. 23
Hugo Helmig – Please Don’t Lie (2017)

Shel Macrae, 77, singer, guitarist with British pop band The Fortunes, announced Nov. 23
The Fortunes – Things Go Better With Coke (1967)
The Fortunes – Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again (1971)

Irene Cara, 63, pop/soul singer, songwriter and actress, on. Nov. 25
Irene Cara – Makin’ Love With Me (1979)
Irene Cara – Out Here On My Own (1980)
Irene Cara – Flashdance (What A Feeling) (Extended Version) (1983)
Hot Caramel – Stop Frontin’ (2011, as founder-member, lead singer, synth, producer)

Sammie Okposo, 51, Nigerian gospel singer, on Nov. 25

Don Newkirk, 56, hip-hop and R&B musician, composer and producer, on Nov. 25
Don Newkirk – Do You Feel Like I (2021)

Louise Tobin, 104, jazz singer, on Nov. 26
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra – I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (1939, on lead vocals)
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra – There’ll Be Some Changes Made (1941, on lead vocals)
Peanuts Hucko & Louise Tobin – The Man I Love (1984)

Jake Flint, 37, red dirt country singer-songwriter, on Nov. 27
Jake Flint – Cold In This House (2020)

Galit Borg, 54, Israeli singer, in a traffic accident on Nov. 28

Christine McVie (Perfect), 79, English singer, keyboardist and songwriter, on Nov. 30
Chicken Shack – I’d Rather Go Blind (1969, as member and on lead vocals)
Fleetwood Mac – Songbird (1977, as writer and on lead vocals)
Christine McVie – Got A Hold On Me (1984, also as co-writer)
Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere (1987, as co-writer and on lead vocals)

Steve ‘Cast Iron’ Smith, singer with British punk band Red Alert, on Nov. 30
Red Alert – Third And Final (1980)


Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags: