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In Memoriam – September 2022

October 4th, 2022 2 comments

After last month’s carnage, the Reaper mercifully returned to the normal swing of things. He still took at least three artists who made a huge difference in their respective fields.

One artist who doesn’t get listed is Rommy Hunt Revson, who was a nightclub singer but never released any records (as far as I can ascertain). Her claim to fame resides outside the world of music: she invented the scrunchie, the fabric-covered elastic hair tie. After a year-long marriage to Revlon heir John Revson, then 43-year-old Rommy fashioned the tie to manage her brittle hair for a job interview in 1987. She patented the idea and made millions of it, until the patent expired in 2001. She never needed to return to the stages of smokey nightclubs.

The Game-changer
It can be argued that Coolio helped break a mold when his Gangsta’s Paradise became a massive hit. For the first time, a G-Funk rapper who actually knew life in the ghetto and rapped about it topped the US charts, and his song even became the year’s biggest hit. He was by no means the first credible hip hop artist to have a hit, nor even the first G-Funk rapper. Dr Dre preceded Gangsta’s Paradise in the Top 10 by a couple of years. But the mega-success of Gangsta’s Paradise helped make “gangsta rap” acceptable in polite society and white executives’ offices.

Coolio, despite his uncool name, came from the gangsta rap pool that was inhabited by the likes of Ice Cube and Dr Dre. But Dre wasn’t scoring soundtracks of mainstream movies, Snoop didnkt have Michelle Pfeifer, in his videos, and Ice Cube was yet to become a domesticated family movie actor. After Gangsta’s Paradise was a crossover hit, the mainstream doors were opened for others.

Before he embarked on his solo career, first blowing up with 1994’s great Fantastic Voyage, Coolio had been a member of gangsta rap outfit WC & The Maad Circle, which at one point toured with Ice Cube. Coolio still had a few hits after 1995’s Gangsta’s Paradise, but his career had fizzled out by the end of the 1990s. By 2004, he took part in a German talent TV show featuring artists trying out for a comeback, going up against the likes of Haddaway and eventual winner Smokie singer Chris Norman. Coolio, a man who had his share of legal and drug problems, then made more reality TV appearances than albums, but he remained a stage performer till the end.

The Jazz Hitmaker
Eight years to the day that we lost jazz keyboard legend Joe Sample, another jazz keyboard legend departed in Ramsey Lewis. In the 1960s, Lewis was among the few jazz artists to cross over into the mainstream, enjoying million-selling hits with his interpretations of songs like Wade In The Water, Hang On Sloopy, and especially The In-Crowd (the latter a US #5 hit).

Among the latter members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio was a young Maurice White, who’d go on to lead Earth, Wind & Fire to massive success. White would later produce and co-write Sun Godess, a 1975 hit for Lewis. For a few years Lewis toured with Earth, Wind & Fire, whose members would also guest on his albums.

Lewis wasn’t always loved by the critics or jazz purists, with his eclectic approach and supposed commercialism a source of regular criticism. The musician was unapologetic about “diluting” his jazz with other forms of popular music.

Apart from releasing more than 60 albums, Lewis also hosted a popular smooth jazz radio show from Chicago, and in 2006 presented a 13-episode Legends of Jazz TV series. A keen mentor to younger musicians, he set up a foundation to foster musical education among children.

The Freestyler
There are moments in compiling this monthly feature that I fear: the death of a giant in a field of music with which I have no affinity. This month, this is the case with jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who has died at 81. I like jazz, but I have little interest in the avant-garde side of the genre, nor in the dissonant interplay of free jazz, even as I acknowledge that these sub-genres require an artistry much greater than my capacity to appreciate it. But there is a flip-side to my apprehension: it forces me to look into the life and work of such an artist.

No doubt, Sanders was a pioneer in his field. He joined John Coltrane’s band just as “Trane” (as his fans call him) went avant-garde. As a solo act, Sanders introduced spiritualism and African rhythms into his free jazz, influencing and playing with many young musicians along the way. There are many who regard as Sanders’ masterpiece the 30-minute free-jazz workout “The Creator Has A Master Plan” from 1969’s Karma LP. I’d never have listened to it had Sanders not died (or if I’d never started this series 12 years ago). But I listened to it, and I‘m very glad I did. This led me to seeking out more of Sanders’ music. Man, I’ve missed out on a lot, just because of that, at least in this instance, misleading “free jazz” label!

In the latter parts of the 1970s, Sanders experimented with a more commercial jazz-fusion and R&B sound, collaborating with the great soul singer Phyllis Hyman, but the great commercial success never came. In addition, Sanders had perpetually strained relationships with the many labels that signed him.

The Doobie Drummer
As a drummer of The Doobie Brothers, which he co-founded, John Hartman played on all the great hit albums and singles throughout the 1970s. Hartman recorded almost exclusively with the Doobies, a two-track excursion on Carly Simon’s 1976 album Another Passenger aside — and those included other Doobie Brothers.

As the group’s co-founder and thanks to his presence, the physically imposing Hartman was considered the Doobies’ leader in the early years of its success. He left the group after the 1978 Minute By Minute album, in order to breed horses. He briefly returned for a tour and two albums in the later 1980s. But Hartman’s dream was to become a policeman. He attended police academy, but his past association with drugs — and presumably having led a band named after drug slang — meant that no police department was willing to give him a job…

Here’s a bizarre twist: Hartman’s death was announced on September 22, but it appears that he had died almost nine months earlier, on December 29, 2021!

The Singing Actress
The noted Greek actress Irene Papas is best known for her roles in films such as as The Guns of Navarone (1961), Zorba the Greek (1964) and Z (1969), but she also was a recording artist, mostly in collaboration with Jon Vangelis, whom we lost in May this year. It was with Vangelis that Papas caused controversy in 1972, when she laid down an orgasmic-sounding chant of “I was, I am, I am to come” to the awkwardly-titled Aphrodite’s Child track ∞ (Infinity). Previous to that, Papas had released an album of songs by Mikis Theodorakis, whom we lost last year in September.

By then she was already in exile. Papas left Greece in 1967, when the right-wing military junta grabbed power. Over the following seven years, Papas campaigned for a cultural boycott of Greece. She returned home after the junta fell in 1974, and never moved away again.

The Reggae Man
Born in London as Angus Gaye to parents from Grenada, Drummie Zeb became a pivotal figure in the UK’s reggae movement as the lead singer and drummer of Aswad. He played on all of the band’s 15 albums. Apart from his work with Aswad, Drummie Zeb also did session work — notably on Janet Kay’s 1979 UK #2 hit Silly Games — and produced other acts, including Ace of Base’s 1994 hit cover  of Aswad’s own Don’t Turn Around. He is the first Aswad alumnus to leave us.

The Nashville A-Teamer
Whenever a member of a session collective dies, there’ll be an opportunity to list loads of pop classics they appeared on. So it is with Ray Edenton, a session guitarist associated with Nashville’s ‘A’ Team, who has died at the age of 95. You may not know the names of these musicians, but you’ve heard the songs. Edenton played on classics such as the Everly Brothers’ Bye Bye Love and Wake Up Little Susie, Johnny Cash’s Orange Blossom Special, Roy Orbison’s In Dreams and Dream Baby, Brenda Lee’s Break It To Me Gently, Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams, Roger Miller’s King Of The Road, Lyn Anderson’s Rose Garden, Mac Davies’ It’s Hard To Be Humble, Don McLean’s Crying — and many others on which he wasn’t credited. He also played on clean-shaven Willie Nelson’s recordings of Hello Walls, Crazy and Funny How Time Slips Away, and later on several bearded Nelson albums.

Edenton also backed acts like Marty Robbins, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, Chet Atkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Ray Price, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Faron Young, Country Joe McDonald, Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge, Leon Russell, The Statler Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Don McLean, Charlie Rich, Neil Young, Crystal Gayle, B.J. Thomas, Reba McEntire, Sammy Davis Jr., Merle Haggard, J.J. Cale and many others.

A WW2 veteran, Edenton was closely associated with 1950s country legend Webb Pierce, whom he backed on almost all hits. As a regular backing guitarist at the Grand Ole Opry and a player known for his innovation, especially as a rhythm guitarist, Edenton was a highly sought-after country session musician until his retirement in 1991.

The Holly Writer
Buddy Holly wrote several stone-cold rock & roll classics, but two of his bigger hits were not by his hand. Oh Boy and Rave On were written by rockabilly singer Sonny West with Bill Tilghman. Producer Norman Petty arbitrarily attached his name to the credits, as was his custom.

Previously West — who has died at 85, just weeks after Crickets drummer Jerry Allison — had tried to sign with Sun Records in Memphis, but was rejected. Staying with his sister near Holly’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, West looked around for other opportunities to make it as a musician, and eventually found one with Petty in his remote studios in Clovis. There he recorded one self-penned single, Rock-Ola Ruby, as Sonee West, before he bumped into Bill Tilghman, who proposed collaborating on songs for which he already had some basic lyrics.

When West presented Oh Boy — initially titled All My Love — to Petty, the manager declined to have the writer record it for release (a demo was recorded in February 1957, but remained unreleased until 2002, when it appeared on West’s Sweet Rockin’ Rock-Ola Ruby album). Instead, Petty gave the song to Buddy Holly and The Crickets. West reported having been a little bitter about it, because he had written the song for himself, not for Holly. Petty also gave Rave On, a song he didn’t rate, to Holly. West’s original recording of that is on The Originals: The 1950s.

West’s recording career would never take off, with a number of cuts remaining unreleased.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.

John Hartman, 72, drummer of the Doobie Brothers, on Dec. 29, 2021 (announced Sept. 22)
Doobie Brothers – Rockin’ Down The Highway (1971)
Doobie Brothers – Another Park, Another Sunday (1974)
Doobie Brothers – Minute By Minute (1978)

Angus ‘Drummie Zeb’ Gaye, 62, lead singer, drummer of UK reggae band Aswad, producer, on Sept. 2
Aswad – Back To Africa (1976)
Janet Kay – Silly Games (1979, on drums)
Aswad – Pull Up (1986)

Pat Stay, 36, Canadian rapper, stabbed on Sept. 4

John Till, 76, Canadian guitarist of Janis Joplin’s backing group Full Tilt Boogie Band, on Sept. 4
Janis Joplin – Cry Baby (released 1971, on guitar and backing vocals)

Art Rosenbaum, 83, folk banjo player and filmmaker, on Sept. 4

Dave Sherman, 55, bassist and singer of doom metal band Earthride, on Sept. 7

Sonny West, 85, roackabilly songwriter and musician, on Sept. 8
Sonee West – Rock-Ola Ruby (1956, also as writer)
Sonny West – All My Love (Oh Boy) (1957, also as co-writer)
Buddy Holly – Rave On (1958, as co-writer)

Marciano Cantero, 62, singer of Argentine pop band Enanitos Verdes, on Sept. 8
Los Enanitos Verdes – Tus Viejas Cartas (1986)

Carol Arnauld, 61, French singer-songwriter, on Sept. 9
Carol Arnauld – C’est pas facile (1986)

Herschel Sizemore, 87, bluegrass mandolinist, on Sept. 9
Hershel Sizemore – Rebecca (1979, also as writer)

Trevor Tomkins, 81, drummer with UK jazz-fusion group Gilgamesh, on Sept. 9
Gilgamesh – Darker Brighter (1978)

Ramsey Lewis, 87, jazz pianist and composer, on Sept. 12
Ramsey Lewis Trio – The ‘In’ Crowd (1965)
Ramsey Lewis with Earth, Wind & Fire – Sun Goddess (1974)
Ramsey Lewis – Whisper Zone (1980)
Ramsey Lewis – Keys To The City (1987, also as co-writer)

Dennis East, 73, South African singer, songwriter and producer, on Sept. 12
Stingray – The Man In My Shoes (1979, as member on lead vocals & as writer)

PnB Rock, 30, rapper, shot in a robbery on Sept. 12
PnB Rock -Selfish (2016)

Jesse Powell, 51, R&B singer, on Sept. 13
Jesse Powell – You (1996)

Brother Cleve, 62, keyboardist of neo-lounge act Combustible Edison, announced Sept. 13
Combustible Edison – Dior (1998)

David Andersson, 47, guitarist of Swedish metal band Soilwork, on Sept. 14

Irene Papas, c.93, Greek actress and singer, on Sept. 14
Aphrodite’s Child – ∞ (Infinity) (1972, on vocals)
Irene Papas – Little Orange Tree (1979)

Paul Sartin, 51, English folk singer, musician and composer, on Sept. 14

Jim Post, 82, folk singer-songwriter, on Sept. 14
Friend & Lover – Reach Out Of The Darkness (1968, as member and writer)

Cherry Valentine, 28, English drag artist, on Sept. 16

Marva Hicks, 66, soul singer and actress, on Sept. 16
Marva Hicks – Never Been in Love Before (1991)

Eddie Pleasant, 95, country songwriter and producer, on Sept. 17

Diane ‘Belgazou’ Guérin, 74, Canadian singer and actress, on Sept. 18
Belgazou – Entre Mozart et Jagger (1987)

Jamie Roy, 33, Scottish DJ and producer, on Sept. 20

Kyle Maite, 37, guitarist of pop-punk band Hit The Lights, on Sept. 20
Hit The Lights – All Messed Up (2018)

Anton Fier, 66, drummer, bandleader, composer and producer, on Sept. 21
The Golden Palominos – Alive And Living Now (1991, as leader; Michael Stipe on vocals)

Ray Edenton, 95, country session guitarist, on Sept. 21
Kitty Wells & Red Foley – One By One (1959, on guitar)
Willie Nelson – Hello Walls  (1962, on rhythm guitar)
Country Joe McDonald – Roll On Columbia (1969, on guitar)

Stu Allan, 60, English dance music DJ, mix compiler and producer, on Sept. 22

Robert Marlow, 60, English new wave singer, on Sept. 22
Robert Marlow – The Face Of Dorian Gray (1983)

Gord Kirchin, 60, lead singer of Canadian metal band Piledriver, on Sept. 22

Pharoah Sanders, 81, jazz saxophonist, on Sept. 24
Pharoah Sanders – Thembi (1971)
Pharoah Sanders feat. Phyllis Hyman – As You Are (1978)
Pharoah Sanders – You’ve Got to Have Freedom (1987)

Sue Mingus, 92, producer and manager, wife of Charles, on Sept. 24

Boris Moiseev, 68, Russian pop singer and dancer, on Sept. 27

Coolio, 59, hip hop artist and actor, on Sept. 28
WC & The Maad Circle – Dress Code (1991, as member)
Coolio – Fantastic Voyage (1994)
Coolio – C U When U Get There (1997)

Joe Chambers, country guitarist, songwriter, Musicians’ Hall of Fame founder, on Sept. 28
Randy Travis – Old 8×10 (1987, as co-writer)

Prins Póló, 45, Icelandic singer-songwriter, on Sept. 28

John Mortensen, singer and bassist of rock band Mono Men, on Sept. 28
Mono Men – Watch Outside (1992)

David Malachowski, 67, blues rock guitarist, on Sept. 29
Savoy Brown – When It Rains (2004, on rhythm guitar)

Keith ‘Wonderboy’ Johnson, 50, gospel singer, on Sept. 30

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In Memoriam – August 2022

September 7th, 2022 6 comments

This In Memoriam drops a bit later than usual due to travel commitments. In as far as this unpaid gig is concerned, the travelling couldn’t have been worse timed (though it otherwise was a great trip), for August was harvest time for the Reaper, with ‘60s soul taking a hit in particular. Especially poignant: The Seekers’ lead singer Judith Durham died just ten days after Tom Springfield, the man who wrote all those hits that made her and The Seekers so famous in the 1960s. Tom’s life story is also quite something… Also worth noting: The Grim Reaper claimed the singer of a band called Grim Reaper.

The Cricket
The music has finally died with the passing of the final surviving member of Buddy Holly’s Crickets. Jerry Allison, who has died at 82, was the man who gave Holly’s great hit Peggy Sue its title. Buddy initially had as the song’s heroine Cindy Lou, but Allison asked him to rename it Peggy Sue, because that was the name of his estranged girlfriend — and future wife. This earned Allison a songwriting credit, and quite rightly, because Holly couldn’t have made those percussive P and G sounds with the name Cindy. The drummer also co-wrote That’ll Be The Day (credited) and Not Fade Away (uncredited).

Allison stuck to drumming on the Crickets’ records, but also tried his hand at singing — which clearly was not his most potent power — on a couple of singles. In 1958 he released the single Real Wild Child — a song he had heard Johnny O’Keefe play on stage in Australia — under the moniker Ivan, and with Buddy Holly on guitar. It featured on Any Major ABC of the 1950s. His second single, with a b-side titled That’ll Be Alright, was released, coincidentally, the day after Buddy Holly died in the plane which Allison didn’t take.

After Buddy’s death in 1958, bassist Joe B. Mauldin (died 2015) and guitarist Niki Sullivan (died 2004) soon left the group, but Jerry successfully continued the Crickets franchise — which Mauldin rejoined in 1976 — performing until his retirement in 2016. The Crickets were no hit machines, but they were influential, releasing original versions of future hits, such as I Fought The Law (written by guitarist Sonny Curtis, on The Originals: The Classics) and More Than I Can Say (Curtis and Allison, The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1)

The Hitmaker
With the brothers Holland, Lamont Dozier formed a veritable hit-machine for Motown. The landmark hits Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote and produced for acts like The Supremes, Four Tops, Martha And The Vandellas are listed in the notes for Holland-Dozier-Holland Songbook, which dropped a week after Dozier’s death.

It was with Motown that the young Dozier got his first break as a singer, releasing a few singles, mostly co-written by Berry Gordy, on the subsidiary Anna label, first as Lamont Anthony and eventually under his own name. These went nowhere, but by 1962 Gordy teamed the young singer up with another young vocalist, Brian Holland, who’d already scored hits as the co-writer of Please Mr Postman and Little Stevie Wonder’s Fingertips. They released some singles as a duo that went nowhere. But the two were also put to work behind the scenes, being entrusted especially with the hitherto luckless teenage trio The Supremes. They had little success, until Brian’s brother Eddie, also a Motown recording artist, joined them as lyricist.

After falling out with Berry Gordy, Holland-Dozier-Holland founded their own label, Invictus, in 1970. There their charges included the Freda Payne, Chairmen Of The Board, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, Flaming Embers, Glass House, Honey Cone. They produced and co-wrote hits — for contractual reasons as Edith Wayne — such as Band Of Gold, Give Me Just A Little More Time, Everything’s Tuesday, Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup), Sunday Morning People, or Westbound No. 9.

On that label Dozier released his biggest solo hit, Why Can’t We Be Lovers, a US #9. In 1973 he split from the Holland brothers and released a string of very good solo albums, including the acclaimed and pleasingly-titled Black Bach, with Dozier featured on the cover in the form of a bust. In 1977 he released Going Back To My Roots, later covered to great success by Odyssey (Dozier’s original featured on Any Major Originals: Soul Vol. 1)

Later in his career he worked with Phil Collins on his Grammy-winning song Two Hearts and the Four Tops’ (quite awful) Loco In Acapulco, and wrote the musically great but lyrically awkward Invisible for Alison Moyet.

The Sandy
The musical career of Olivia Newton-John in many ways followed the way of her character in Grease. First there was the clean-cut Sandy Olsson from Australia singing about the banks of the Ohio in such a way that few noticed that she was wholesomely trilling about a murder. Then Livvy flicked her tongue, said “Tell me about it, stud”, and did songs like Totally Hot and Physical, which were not about the agreeable properties of a spicy vindaloo or bracing aerobics. Totally Hot featured on Any Major Disco Vol. 2.

She was already a well-known singer when she represented Britain in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with a gospel-flavoured song, Long Live Love. While Swedish entry ABBA won, Newton-John finished joint 4th (The story of that Eurovision is recounted on the ABBA Recovered mix post)

Like Sandy, Olivia was never in the cool crowd. She hung out with Cliff Richard, after all. But she came from a pretty cool family. Born in Cambridge, England, her maternal grandfather was German Nobel-awarded scientist Max Born. Her father, Bryn Newton-John, worked on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park during World War 2. In that position, he arrested the leading Nazi Rudolf Hess.

The Guitar Wrecker
If you hear a guitar on any of those legendary Phil Spector records of the 1960s, chances are that you’re hear Bill Pitman playing, usually alongside fellow guitarist Tommy Tedesco, and Hal Blaine on drums. If the ukelele opening of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head puts you instantly in a good mood, thank Pitman for that.

The session guitarist, who has died at 102, played on innumerable hits alongside his colleagues from the Wrecking Crew collective. While the members of bands like The Beach Boys, The Monkees or The Association were doing other things, the Wrecking Crew recorded their music. In the case of the Beach Boys, it was under Brian Wilson’s direction. He had Pitman play on the Pet Sounds album and on hits such as Good Vibrations.

The Wrecking Crew once even stood in for The Byrds, doing the instruments on their debut hit single, Mr. Tambourine Man. Pitman was on guitar that day. The other session-Byrds were Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechtel (bass), Jerry Cole (guitar) and Leon Russell (keyboards).

And we can thank Pitman for Phil Spector the Producer. Pitman’s only ever guitar lessons pupil was a teenage Phil, back in the 1950s. It was Pitman who advised Spector that he wouldn’t cut it as a professional jazz guitarist. Spector took his advice and became a songwriter, arranger and producer instead.

Like many other Wrecking Crew members, Pitman made his start in jazz, backing acts like Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Buddy Rich, Orrin Tucker and others. His father had been a musician, and Bill wanted to become a musician already at the age of five, in 1925. Coming from that generation and background, the pop and rock music Pitman helped to create was really foreign to him. The running joke was that if Pitman didn’t like a recording, it was sure to become a hit.

Apart from appearing on pop hits and as sideman on jazz records, Pitman also played on countless movie and TV scores, including (for TV) Star Trek, Bonanza, Ironside and (most recognisably) The Wild, Wild West, and (on film) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paint Your Wagon, M*A*S*H, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dirty Dancing and Goodfellas.

The Impression
Before there was The Impressions, there was The Roosters, founded in Chatanooga in 1958 by Sam Gooden with the brothers Arthur and Richard Brookes. By 1960, they had recruited Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield in Chicago and changed their name. In 1962 Butler and the Brookes brothers left to reduce The Impressions as a trio, with Mayfield, Gooden and Roosters alumnus Fred Cash. When Mayfield left in 1970 to be replaced by Leroy Hutson, and when Hutson left to be replaced by a string of other lead singers, Gooden and Cash remained in the band throughout until The Impressions’ farewell tour in 2018.

Gooden rarely took the lead on the group’s songs, but was often prominently heard on call-and-response songs, such as the gospel-tinged It’s All Right. With Gooden’s death at 87, Cash is the last surviving member of the classic 1962-70 line-up of The Impressions.

The Jazz Giant
One of the giants of jazz whose names is known mainly to fans of the genre has died at 93. Creed Taylor produced a Who’s Who of Jazz from the 1950s onwards, and in the 1960s he helped bring the bossa nova to the US, producing the landmark 1963 album by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto which featured The Girl From Ipanema. He’d produce many more records by those two legends, as well as by Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Two years earlier, Taylor had produced Ray Charles’ landmark album Genius + Soul = Jazz. In the 1960s he founded CTI Records, on which (or its subsidiary Kudu) he nurtured the careers of jazz fusion greats such as of George Benson, Grover Washington Jr, Bob James, Hubert Laws, Stanley Turrentine, Eumir Deodato, Walter Wanderley, and others.  Also produced by Taylor on CTI were acts like Chet Baker, Gabor Szabo, Milt Jackson, Paul Desmond, Patti Austin, Yusef Lateef, Jeremy Steig, and Nina Simone. He also produced Esther Philips hit disco version of What A Difference A Day Makes.

Among others he produced before that on labels such as ABC Paramount, MGM, A&M and especially Verve were — deep breath now — Chris Connor, Herbie Mann, Kal Winding, Quincy Jones, Lambert Hendricks & Ross, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Gene Ammns, Sonny Stitt, Cal Tjader, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Anita O’Day, Pat Thomas, Lalo Schifrin, Jimmy Smith, Coleman Hawkins, Kenyon Hopkins, Wes Montgomery, Willie Bobo, Johnny Hodges, Donald Byrd, Jackie & Roy, Little Eva, Roland Kirk, Nat Adderley, Milton Nascimento, Eric Gale, Idris Muhammad, Phil Upchurch, Keith Jarrett, Roland Kirk, and many others.

The Seeker
In the 1960s, Judith Durham was the global voice of Australian pop as the lead singer of The Seekers. The group found their breakthrough in 1964 after making an impression on board of a cruise liner sailing from Australia to the UK. Instead of returning down under as planned, they stayed in the UK, and went on to put together a string of international hits. These included six UK Top 10 hits, including two #1s (I’ll Never Find Another You and The Carnival Is Over, both in 1965). Their biggest hit worldwide was Georgy Girl in 1965.

Durham left The Seekers in 1968 to start a solo career, with no great chart success outside Australia, while band member Keith Potger went on to have a string of hits with The New Seekers. The latter had a hit in 1971 with a song from a Coca-Cola ad; in 1966 The Seekers had recorded a different commercial for the brand, with Durham on vocals.

The Hitwriter
Just ten days before Durham, the writer of all those hits for The Seekers died at 88. Tom Springfield started his string of 1960s hits as a member of The Springfields, which featured his sister Mary, better known as Dusty Springfield, on vocals. They had a number of UK hits, and broke in the US with the country-ish Silver Threads And Golden Needles.

Born Dionysius Patrick O’Brien to Irish parents in London, Tom trained in the 1950s to be a spy, for which he had to immerse himself in Russian culture. The spy thing didn’t work out, but it inspired him in his songwriting, especially in his second-most famous song, The Carnival Is Over (the most famous, obviously, is Georgy Girl).

Springfield retired from music in the early 1970s.

The Girl Band Pioneer
R&B pioneer Della Griffin has died at 100, having made her greatest contribution to music in the 1950s. In 1951 she was the leader of one of the first R&B girl groups, The Enchanters (not to be confused with the 1960s doo-wop band of that name), which Griffin served as lead singer and as drummer — at a time when women were not expected to swing the sticks. Griffin also played the alto saxophone and piano.

The Enchanters released a string of records on Jubilee in 1951/52, but soon two of the foursome left the group. The other half, Griffin and Gloria Alleyne (later more famous as Gloria Lynne) carried on as The Dell-Tones. The new group released a number of records on Brunswick and toured extensively, but never broke through. In 1957, Griffin and some variation of the ever-changing Dell-Tones line-up joined forces with doo-wop pioneers The Orioles to form a The Kings And Queens, releasing one single. Soon the members of the Dell-Tones went their own ways, with Griffin taking time out from music in an (unsuccessful) bid to have a family. While Griffin never had children, she fostered more than a dozen children, many of whom would visit her daily till her final day.

After returning to music in the 1960s, Griffin was mainly a stage performer rather than recording artist, and having moved into jazz, with a voice more than reminiscent of that of her friend Billie Holiday. Her first solo record came out only in 1978, produced by The Orioles’ leader Sonny Til. Three more albums followed in the 1990s.

The Motown & Stax Singer
She was the first female singer to be signed to Berry Gordy’s Tamla label and had The Miracles and The Marvelettes backing her, but Mable John, who has died at 91, never broke through on the Motown roster. After Gordy let her go in 1962, she joined The Raelettes, Ray Charles backing singers, until in 1966 she signed for Stax. John had some success there with her Porter/Hayes-penned debut single, Your Good Thing (Is About to End), but never broke through. In 1968 she rejoined The Raelettes until leaving secular music for gospel in 1973. John returned briefly in 1991 on Motown’s UK subsidiary, Motorcity, with a very good dance record titled Time Stops.

Mable John featured on the Any Major Soul mixes covering 1960-63, 1966 and 1967.

The Soul Sister
On the same day as Mabel left us, fellow underrated soul singer Inez Foxx departed at the age of 79. Foxx made her name as an explosive live act with her brother Charlie. They made a breakthrough early in their career in 1963 with Mockingbird, their soul reworking of a famous lullaby, which — like many of their singles, credited only to Inez. It would be covered later by the likes of James Taylor & Carly Simon and Aretha Franklin. The Foxxes couldn’t replicate the success of that #7 pop hit, perhaps hamstrung by an unmerited perception that they were a novelty act.

Inez also co-wrote The Drifters hit I Love You 1000 Times with then-husband Luther Dixon. She recorded until the mid-1970s, including a very good solo album, At Memphis, in 1973. A track from that features here and another on Any Major Soul 1973: Vol. 1.

The Composing Pianist
If you have seen a film made in the past 50 years, you very likely will have heard at some point the work of film score composer and pianist Michael Lang (not to be confused with the Woodstock impresario of the same name who died in January). He recorded more than 2,500 film scores, and worked as a musician with virtually every major film composer, including John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, Henry Mancini, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein, Dave Grusin, John Debney, Jerry Fielding, Bill Conti, John Barry, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, Randy Newman, and Hans Zimmer.

Lang also served as sideman and session pianist to many stars, including Leonard Cohen, Seals & Crofts, Cass Elliott, Harry Nilsson, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand, Herb Alpert, Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Preston, Judy Collins, Lalo Schifrin, Stan Getz, Tom Waits, Jose Feliciano, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Vince Gill, Milt Jackson, Frank Zappa, Lee Ritenour, Bud Shank — and Lamont Dozier, who followed Lang three days later.
The Rhinestone
In August I posted the Any Major Party mix, including The Rhinestones’ Party Music. A week later Rhinestones singer and guitarist Kal David died. He also featured on The Rhinestones’ One Time Love, which opened the Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 12, which dropped earlier this year.

Born David Ruskin, he first made music in the early 1960s as the leader of a Chicago band called Kal David and The Exceptions. Fellow members included Peter Cetera, who’d later join Chicago, and Marty Grebb, who’d join The Buckinghams. David and Grebb (who died in January 2020) would find each other again in The Fabulous Rhinestones.

Before that, David and future Poco guitarist Paul Cotton (In Memoriam – July 2021) recorded a couple of albums as Illinois Speed Press. With the Fabulous Rhinestones/Rhinestones, he released three very good but commercially less than successful albums. With his wife, Lauri Bono, he recorded several more albums. He also backed other musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, John Mayall, BB King, Johnny Rivers and Robbie Dupree.

Since 1995, David voiced the animatronic lounge singer Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café at Walt Disney World.

The Condor Pasa
When in 1965 Simon & Garfunkel played at the Théâtre de l’Est parisien in Paris, they shared the bill with a Peruvian folk outfit called Los Incas, who played a tune called El Condor Pasa. Paul Simon was so taken with the sound of Los Incas that he became friends with the frontman, Polish-born Jorge Milchberg, and even toured with the band. When Simon asked Milchberg about El Condor Pasa, he was told that it was Milchberg’s arrangement of an old folk tune. So Simon wrote English lyrics which he and Garfunkel recorded their vocals over Los Incas’ base track.

Milchberg, who has now died at 93, had not been clear on the facts. El Condor Pasa had in fact been written in 1913 by Daniel Alomía Robles and originally recorded by Orquesta del Zoolagico (featured on Any Major Originals: The Classics); Milchberg has rearranged the tune, demonstrably not an old folk song, in 1963. After an amicable court case — Simon was gracious about it, as was only right, and the Robles family absolved him of any responsibility — the writing credit went to Robles, Simon & Milchberg.

The Mystery
It is fitting that her death went unreported for almost a month, because Q Lazzarus was the most elusive of artists, literally so. In the 1980s, the singer born as Diane Luckey performed with her backing band The Resurrection (of course) while she was also gigging as a taxi driver.

One day, film director Jonathan Demme got into her cab. At the time, she was playing a demo of her song Goodbye Horses, in preparation for a recording session the next day. Demme was impressed by the song, and upon learning that the artist was his driver herself, Demme became a fan.

In 1986, he used her song The Candle Goes Away in Something Wild. Two years later, he featured Goodbye Horses in Married To The Mob, and again in 1991 in Silence Of The Lambs (the scene in which where serial killer Buffalo Bill applies make-up in front of a mirror). In Philadelphia, Demme used Q Lazzarus’ cover of the Talking Heads’ Heaven.

Despite all that exposure, Q Lazzarus never had a recording contract. After Philadelphia, she simply vanished for two decades. Not even her friends knew where she was, and locating her became something of an obsession for some. She was rediscovered in 2019 by documentary-maker Eva Aridjis — when she was a passenger in a cab Q Lazzarus was driving! They became friends, and Aridjis began putting together a documentary on the singer; it will now appear posthumously.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.

Q Lazzarus, c.62, cult singer, on July 19
Q Lazzarus – Goodbye Horses (1991)
Q Lazzarus – White Lines (1991)

Tom Springfield, 88, English musician and songwriter, brother of Dusty, on July 27
The Springfields – Silver Threads & Golden Needles (1962, as writer)
Jean DuShon – I’ll Never Find Another You (1965, as writer)
The Seekers – Georgy Girl (1967, as co-writer)
Dusty & Tom Springfield – Morning Please Don’t Come (1970, as writer)

Dod Copland, 59, lead singer of Scottish punk band Toxik Ephex, on July 28
Toxik Ephex – Final Epitaph (1991)

Nicky Moore, 75, singer of English metal group Samson, on Aug. 3
Samson – Life On The Run (1982)

Margot Eskens, 82, German Schlager singer, on Aug. 4
Margot Eskens (with Jonny Dane) – Cindy, oh Cindy (1959)

Sam Gooden, 87, singer with soul group The Impressions, on Aug. 4
The Impressions – It’s All Right (1963)
The Impressions – Woman’s Got Soul (1964)
The Impressions – Aware Of Love (1967, on lead vocals)

Sandy Dillon, 62, singer-songwriter, on Aug. 4

Michael Lang, 80, pianist and composer, on Aug. 5
Herb Alpert – Rise (1979, on electric piano)
Lionel Richie – Wandering Stranger (1982, on piano)
Natalie Cole & Nat King Cole – Unforgettable (1991, on piano)

Young Slo-Be, 29, American rapper, shot on Aug. 5

Judith Durham, 79, singer of Australian folk-pop group The Seekers, on Aug. 5
The Seekers – A World Of Our Own (1965)
The Seekers – Things Go Better With Coca-Cola (1966)
Judith Durham – The Olive Tree (1967)

Diego Bertie, 54, Peruvian singer and actor, on Aug. 5
Imágenes – Buenos Tiempos (1988, as member)

Daniel Lévi, 60, French singer-songwriter, on Aug. 6
Daniel Lévi – l’envie d’aimer (2000)

Torgny Söderberg, 77, Swedish songwriter, on Aug. 6

David Muse, 73, saxophonist and keyboardist of soft-rock band Firefall, on Aug. 6
Firefall – Just Remember I Love You (1977)

Gord Lewis, 65, guitarist of Canadian rock band Teenage Head, discovered on Aug. 7
Teenage Head – Some Kinda Fun (1982)

Darryl Hunt, 72, bassist with The Pogues, on Aug. 8
The Pogues – Lullaby Of London (1988)

Olivia Newton-John, 73, British-Australian singer, on Aug. 8
Olivia Newton-John – Till You Say You’ll Be Mine (1966)
Olivia Newton-John – A Little More Love (1978)
Olivia Newton John & Cliff Richard – Suddenly (1980)

Lamont Dozier, 81, soul songwriter, producer and singer, on Aug. 8
Lamont Anthony – Let’s Talk It Over (1960, as performer)
The Supremes – Baby Love (1964, as co-writer and co-producer)
Lamont Dozier – Let Me Start Tonite (1974)
Alison Moyet – Invisible (1984, as writer)

Ray Majors, 73, English rock singer and guitarist, announced Aug. 9
Ray Majors – Leave Me Be (2000)

Jussi Hakulinen, 57, Finnish singer-songwriter, on Aug. 9

Della Griffin, 100, R&B and jazz singer and drummer, on Aug. 9
The Enchanters – I’ve Lost (1951, on lead vocals)
The Kings & Queens – I’m So Lonely (1957, on lead vocals)
Della Griffin – But Beautiful (1978)

Abdul Wadud, 75, jazz and classical cellist, on Aug. 10
Michael Franks – Living On The Inside (1978, on cello)

Karina Vismara, 31, Argentine folk singer-songwriter, on Aug. 10

Bill Pitman, 102, Wrecking Crew session guitarist, on Aug. 11
Jeri Southern – Isn’t This A Lovely Day (1958, on guitar)
The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron (1963, on guitar)
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking (1966, on guitar)

Darius Campbell Danesh, 41, Scottish singer-songwriter, on Aug. 11
Darius – Colourblind (2002)

Zelito Miranda, 68, Brazilian singer, on Aug. 12

Keith Jamieson, 74, Australian country singer-songwriter, on Aug. 12

Egle Martin, 86, Argentine singer and actress, on Aug. 14
Egle Martin – El Dombe (1970)

Rico, c.51, Scottish singer-songwriter, on Aug. 14
Rico & Gary Numan – Crazier (2004)

Svika Pick, 72, Polish-born Israeli singer and songwriter, on Aug. 14
Dana International – Diva (1998, as co-writer)

Butch Thompson, 78, jazz pianist and clarinettist, on Aug. 14

Tokollo Tshabalala, 45, member of South African kwaito trio TKZee, on Aug. 15
TKZee – We Love This Place (1998)
TKzee – Fiasco (2000)

Hans Magnusson, 73, saxophonist of Swedish dansband Thorleifs, on Aug. 15

Steve Grimmett, 62, singer of English heavy metal band Grim Reaper, on Aug. 15
Grim Reaper – Never Coming Back (1985, also as co-writer)

Kal David, 79, rock and blues guitarist and singer, on Aug. 16
Illinois Speed Press – Here Today (1969, as member)
The Fabulous Rhinestones – Living On My Own Time (1972, as lead singer and writer)
Kal David & Lauri Bono – Are You Lonely For Me Baby (2018)

Roy Tyler, singer with The Gospel Hummingbirds, announced Aug. 17
Gospel Hummingbirds – That Same Thing (1991)

Eva-Maria Hagen, 87, German actress and cabaret singer; mother of Nina, on Aug. 16
Eva-Maria Hagen – Und als wir ans Ufer kamen (1981)

Rolf Kühn, 92, German jazz clarinettist and bandleader, on Aug, 18
Rolf Kühn & His Orchestra – Playmate (1974)

Warren Bernhardt, 83, jazz pianist, on Aug. 19
Warren Bernhardt – Manhattan Update (1980)

Ted Kirkpatrick, 62, drummer, songwriter of Christian metal band Tourniquet, on Aug. 19

Jorge Milchberg, 93, founder of Peruvian folk bands Los Incas & Urubamba, on Aug. 20
Los Incas – El condor pasa (1963, also as arranger)
Urubamba – Kacharpari (1981, also as co-writer)

Helen Grayco, 97, jazz singer, actress, on Aug. 20
Helen Grayco – Teach Me Tonight (1954)

Monnette Sudler, 70, jazz guitarist, on Aug. 21
Monnette Sudler – Other Side Of The Gemini (1990)

Zalo Reyes, 69, Chilean singer, on Aug. 21

Robert Williams, 72, Greek singer and composer, on Aug. 21
Robert Williams – I Believe You’re The One (1978)

Fredy Studer, 74, Swiss jazz drummer and percussionist, on Aug. 21

Jaimie Branch, 39, jazz trumpeter and composer, on Aug. 22

Jerry Ivan Allison, 82, drummer of The Crickets and songwriter, on Aug. 22
Buddy Holly and The Crickets – That’ll Be The Day (1957)
Ivan – That’ll Be Alright (1959)
The Crickets – My Little Girl (1963)
Nanci Griffith – I’ll Move Along (1997, on percussions)

Stuart Anstis, 48, ex-guitarist of British metal band Cradle of Filth, announced Aug. 22

Margaret Urlich, 57, New Zealand singer, on Aug. 22
Margaret Urlich – Slipping Away (1999)

Piotr Szkudelski, 66, drummer of Polish rock band Perfect, on Aug. 22

Creed Taylor, 93, jazz producer, founder of CTI Records, on Aug. 23
The Creed Taylor Orchestra – Out Of This World (1960)
Ray Charles – One Mint Julep (1961, as producer)
Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Desafinado (Off Key) (1963, as producer)
Grover Washington – Mister Magic (1975, as producer)

Carlo Nuccio, 69, drummer, on Aug. 24
Tori Amos – Precious Things (1991, on drums)

Kimmo Blom, 52, Finnish singer, announced Aug. 25

Joey DeFrancesco, 51, jazz organist and saxophonist, on Aug. 25
Joey DeFrancesco feat. Joe Doggs – But Not For Me (2003; Doggs is Joe Pesci)

Mable John, 91, soul singer, on Aug. 25
Mabel John – Who Wouldn’t Love A Man Like That (1960)
Mable John – Same Time, Same Place (1967)
Mable John – Time Stops (1991)

Inez Foxx, 79, soul singer, on Aug. 25
Inez & Charlie Foxx – Mockingbird (1963)
Inez & Charlie Foxx – Tightrope (1967)
Inez Foxx – Let Me Down Easy (1973)

Luke Bell, 32, country singer-songwriter, discovered on Aug. 29

John Duckworth, 79, drummer of garage rock band Syndicate of Sound, announced Aug. 29
Syndicate Of Sound – Rumors (1966)

Ted Butterman, 87, Dixie jazz trumpeter, on Aug. 31

Mark Shreeve, 65, British songwriter, electronic music composer with Redshift, on Aug. 31
Mark Shreeve – The Ice Queen (1986)

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In Memoriam – July 2022

August 2nd, 2022 4 comments

There were no real “headline deaths” in July, but there were many fascinating stories — the musician who was stolen from his family; the hip hop artist executed by a military junta; the guy who wrote the James Bond theme and had to fight for that recognition; the hit singer who first helped eradicate polio and later became the first black game show host in the US; the centenarian who once played for both Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa; the actress who has died while the biggest current film is still on circuit…

The Stolen
At a time when the cultural genocide of indigenous people by colonialists  — and their descendants, right up well into the past century — is in the global spotlight, not least thanks to Pope Francis’ huge apology in Canada for the Catholic Church’s involvement in it, the death of Archie Roach is poignant. Roach, an Aboriginal Australian, wrote a moving and instructive song about cultural genocide in 1988, titled Took The Children Away, and released it in 1990 as his debut single.

He wrote from personal experience, having been part of the “Stolen Generations” who were victims of a racist Australian policy that was implemented from 1905 until the 1970s, whereby indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in orphanages. Roach was taken from his family at the age of 2. He never saw his mother again, though as an adult he eventually reunited with his family. He spent his life as an activist for the rights of indigenous people. It is to Australia’s shame that this is still necessary.

As a musician, Roach enjoyed a high reputation. Apart from headlining his own tours, he was a support act for Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega and Patti Smith. Between 1990 and 2020, Roach released 10 studio albums, two live album, and a soundtrack.

The Delfonic
With the death of William ‘Poogie’ Hart, both  classic line-ups of the great soul trio The Delfonics are down to just one man standing, Hart’s brother Wilbert. The brothers founded The Orphonics, which would be renamed The Delfonics after they were signed by legendary producer Thom Bell — after Poogie’s talent was spotted in a barber shop.

William Watson co-wrote most of The Delfonics’ songs with Bell, including soul standards such as La-La (Means I Love You), Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), and Ready Or Not Here I Come. On The Delfonics records, William Hart did the falsetto and high tenor voices.

The Sinatra Favourite
Frank Sinatra’s favourite horn player has died at 101. Vincent DeRosa was one of the few musicians Sinatra ever publicly praised. De Rosa, who started used career as a young teenager in 1935, backed Sinatra for many years, including on that great run of records in the 1950s.

DeRosa played in big bands and as session man for jazz acts in the 1950s like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Mel Tormé, Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee, and Julie London, and later fusion artists like David Axelrod, Lalo Schifrin, Chuck Mangione, Stanley Clarke, Horace Silver, Jean-Luc Ponty and Stanley Turrentine.

He played for pop, soul and rock acts such as The Monkees, Fifth Dimension, Harry Nilsson, José Feliciano, Frank Zappa, Tower of Power, Rita Coolidge, The Temptations, Neil Diamond, Boz Scaggs, Minnie Riperton, Earth Wind & Fire, The Emotions, Glen Campbell, Natalie Cole and many others.

DaRosa also played on countless film soundtracks, including many classic ones with Henry Mancini, who composed his Oscar-winning theme to the film Days of Wine and Roses with DeRosa in mind. You’ll have heard DeRosa play in the scores of films such as Carousel, Oklahoma, The Ten Commandments, The Music ManThe Magnificent Seven, My Fair LadyHow The West Was Won, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Doctor Dolittle, Jaws, Rocky, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Heaven Can Wait, E.T., Psycho 2, Romancing The Stone, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Empire Of The Sun, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Back To The Future 2, Dances With Wolves, Edward Scissorhands, and more.

The All-Rounder
Few people can boast a resumé that includes having helped to eradicate polio, going on to have charting hits, then become the first black game show host in the US, and a film, TV and stage actor. This was the extraordinary trajectory of Adam Wade. Born in 1935, Wade was first a lab assistant with Dr Jonas Salk on the polio research team before he began a singing career, in which he took Nast King Cole as his inspiration. In 1961, he had three US Top 10, country-flavoured hits: Take Good Care Of Her, As If I Didn’t Know, and The Writing On The Wall.

His music career fizzled out, but in 1975 Wade became the first black host of a TV game show, Musical Chairs. Later he hosted a talk show, Mid-Morning LA. He was a regular on soap operas and sitcoms, appeared in a number of Blaxploitation movies, and had success as a stage actor in musicals. In 1977 he returned to music with a rather good self-titled soul album.

The 007 Composer
You know the tune the moment you hear it. The word “iconic” is these overused and too often criminally misapplied, but the James Bond Theme is just that: iconic. It was written by Monty Norman, who had died at 94. “Hold it right there,” you might exclaim at this point, “the theme was the work of John Barry!” Yes and no. The tune was written by Norman, despite Barry’s protestations to the contrary. Two libel suits have confirmed Norman’s authorship; he had based it on a piece he had written some years earlier for an unproduced musical. Barry arranged the tune to make it so instantly recognisable. See Norman play the theme on his piano.

Born as Monty Noserovitch in London, Norman started out as a big band singer with several orchestras, including Ted Heath’s. in the 1950s and into ’60s, but began composing in the late ’50s. In 1962 he wrote the theme and score for the first Bond film, Dr. No. By then he had written, as lyricist or composer, several stage musicals, including the English version of Irma la Douce and Expresso Bongo, which has been described as the first rock & roll musical. Other musical hits include Songbook (or The Moony Shapiro Songbook in New York) and 1982’s Poppy.

The Hit Writer
If you were going to soundtrack a film about Britain in the 1960s, you might end up using tracks written by Alan Blaikley, who has died at 82. The best-known of these hits, created with Ken Howard, are Have I The Right? for The Honeycombs and The Legend Of Xanadu for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (both UK #1s), and Me And My Life for The Tremeloes. For Dave Dee and his friends, Blaikley and Howard wrote a string of other Top 10 hits from 1966-68: Hold Tight, Hideaway, Save Me, Okay!, Zabadak, and Last Night In Soho.

Howard and Blaikley were also the first British composers to write for Elvis Presley, including his hit I’ve Lost You. They also wrote and produced The Bay City Roller’s original version of Manana, which appeared on Any Major Hits of 1972 Vol. 2 which I posted last month. They also wrote two West End plays and several TV themes.

Before he became a hitmaker, Blaikley produced radio programmes on BBC, in the course of which he interviewed C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Enid Blyton. And between 1981 and 2003, Blaikley was a psychotherapist.

The Hayes Pianist
When Isaac Hayes started as a young, aspiring musician, Sidney Kirk was struggling alongside him. It was Kirk, who has died at 78, who spotted the newly-opened American Sound Studio in Memphis, encouraging Ike to audition for owner Chips Moman. Hayes did, and released his first (unsuccessful) record in 1962. Kirk, meanwhile, left Memphis for the US Air Force. One day, Kirk’s sister received a call from a club that wanted Sidney’s services as a pianist for a New Year’s Eve gig. With the piano man being away, his sister arranged for Hayes to get the gig. Despite his limitations as a pianist, Hayes won over the audience, and kicked off a glittering career.

By the time Kirk returned from the Air Force, Hayes had made a name for himself at Stax as a songwriter and producer of note, and he had started his recording recording. As soon as Kirk was available, he was drafted into Ike’s band, playing keyboards and piano on several Hayes albums (including Shaft) and on stage (including the famous Wattstax performance). Kirk also backed acts like Dionne Warwick, Albert King, Rufus Thomas, and Denise LaSalle.

The Happy Monday
With his brother Shaun on lead vocals, bassist Paul Ryder, who has died suddenly at 58, enjoyed cult status with Manchester rock band Happy Mondays. While the band scored only two UK Top 10 hits, both reaching  #5 in 1990, they spearheaded the “Madchester” scene, which drew from rock, psychedelia, funk and Northern soul. By 1993 The Happy Mondays had split, just as their heirs arrived to ride the Brit Pop wave. The group reunited periodically, mostly but not always with Paul Ryder on bass.

The Big Mama
Movie-goers may have seen Shonka Dukureh in the film everybody seems to talk about, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. In the film, she played Big Mama Thornton, the blues singer who originally performed Hound Dog. On July 21, Dukureh died suddenly at the age of 44, while the film that promised her breakthrough was still on circuit.

The singer was planning to release her debut album, in the blues genre. Previously she had been a backing singer, on stage with acts like Nick Cave, Mike Farris, Jamie Liddell, and singer-rapper Doja Cat.

The Executed Dissident
In 2000, Phyo Zayar Thaw and his band Acid released Burma’s first hip-hop album, which featured thinly-veiled criticisms of Burma/Myanmar’s regime. 22 Years later, Thaw was executed by the regime, as a dissident.

After co-founding an anti-regime activist youth movement called Generation Wave, Thaw was detained and tortured in 2008, and then sentenced to jail, serving his term until 2011. A year after his release, Thaw, by then 31 years old, won a seat in parliament for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. The February 2021 coup ended that career.

In November, Thaw and other activists were arrested and in a mock trial in January sentenced to death, on charges of plotting terror acts against civilians. On July 23 it was announced that Thaw and three other activists had been executed by hanging.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.

Irene Fargo, 59, Italian singer and stage actress, on July 1
Irene Fargo – Come una Turandot (1992)

Tristan Goodall, 48, songwriter, guitarist of Australian roots band The Audreys, on July 2
The Audreys – Banjo And Violin (2006, also as co-writer)

Antonio Cripezzi, 76, singer and keyboardist of Italian pop band I Camaleonti, on July 3
I Camaleonti – Applausi (1968)

Alan Blaikley, 82, English songwriter, arranger and producer, on July 4
The Honeycombs – Have I The Right (1964, as co-writer)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Bend It (1966, as co-writer)
Elvis Presley – I’ve Lost You (1970, as co-writer)

Manny Charlton, 80, lead guitarist of Scottish rock band Nazareth, on July 5
Nazareth – Bad Bad Boy (1973)
Nazareth – Love Hurts (1974)

Van Christian, 62, singer and guitarist of rock band Naked Prey, on July 5
Naked Prey – One Even Stand (1988, also as writer)

Mark Astronaut, singer of British punk band The Astronauts, on July 7
The Astronauts – Back Soon (1981)

Adam Wade, 87, pop singer and game show host, on July 7
Adam Wade – As If I Didn’t Know (1961)
Adam Wade – Keeping Up With The Joneses (1977)

Barbara Thompson, 77, English jazz saxophonist, on July 10
Barbara Thompson – Little Annie-Ooh (1979)
Marti Webb – Take That Look Off Your Face (1980, on saxophone)

Chantal Gallia, 65, Algerian-born French singer, on July 10

Monty Norman, 94, English composer, on July 11
Cliff Richard & The Shadows – The Shrine On The Second Floor (1960, as co-writer)
The John Barry Seven – James Bond Theme (1962, as composer)

David Dalton, 80, British-born founding editor of Rolling Stone, on July 11
The Unfolding – Play Your Game (1967, as vocalist and writer)

Edana Minghella, 63, British jazz singer, on July 13

Michael James Jackson, 65, American music producer, on July 13
Pablo Cruise – Island Woman (1975, as producer)
Kiss – Lick It Up (1983, as producer)

B. Crentsil, 78, Ghanaian high-life singer, composer and guitarist, on July 13

William Hart, 77, singer with soul band The Delfonics and songwriter, on July 14
The Delfonics – Can You Remember (1968, also as co-writer)
The Delfonics – Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) (1970, also as co-writer)
The Delfonics – Think It Over (1973, also as writer)

Paul Ryder, 58, bassist of English rock band Happy Mondays, on July 15
Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro (1990)
Happy Mondays – Sunshine And Love (1992)

Ruba Say, 56, rock musician, on July 16

Idris Phillips, 64, guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter, on July 16
Dawud Wharnsby feat. Idris Phillips – Let It Go (2011, on guitar and as co-writer)

César ‘Pupy’ Pedroso, 75, Cuban pianist and songwriter, on July 17
Los Van Van – Calla Calla (1988, as member and writer)

Héctor Tricoche, 66, Puerto Rican salsa singer-songwriter, on July 17
Héctor Tricoche – En Cuba No Falta Nada (2007)

Povl Dissing, 84, Danish rock singer and guitarist, on July 18

Dani, 77, French singer, actress and model, on July 18
Dani – Papa vient d’epouser la bonne (1969)

Vincent DeRosa, 101, jazz and soundtrack horn player, on July 18
Harry James and his Orchestra – The Man With The Horn (1947, on French horn)
Ella Fitzgerald – You’re An Old Smoothie (1959, on horns)
The Monkees – Someday Man (1969, on French horn)
Boz Scaggs – What Do You Want The Girl To Do (1976, on horns)

George Kinney, singer of psychedelic rock band Golden Dawn, on July 18
The Golden Dawn – My Time (1968, also as co-writer)

Henkie, 76, Dutch singer, on July 19

Michael Henderson, 71, soul singer and jazz bass guitarist, on July 19
Miles Davis – Black Satin (1972, on bass guitar)
Michael Henderson – Won’t You Be Mine (1977)

Jody Abbott, 55, drummer of rock band Fuel, on July 20
Fuel – Falls On Me (2003)

Frankie Davidson, 88, Australian singer, on July 20

Shonka Dukureh, 44, blues singer and actress (Elvis), on July 21
Ashley Cleveland – Going To Heaven To Meet The King (2009, on backing vocals)
Shonka Dukureh – Hound Dog (2022)

Núria Feliu, 80, Spanish singer and actress, on July 22

Zayar Thaw, 41, Burmese politician and hip hop artist, executed on July 23
Nitric Acid – Generation Driven By Faith (c.2011, as performer and writer)

Vittorio De Scalzi, 72, singer of Italian prog-rock band New Trolls, on July 24
New Trolls – Un’Ora (1970, also on guitar and as co-writer)

Bob Heathcote, 58, bassist of metal band Suicidal Tendencies, on July 24

Sandy Roberton, 80, British record producer, on July 25
Steeleye Span – Fisherman’s Wife (1970, as producer)

Darío Gómez, 71, Colombian Música popular singer, on July 26
Darío Gómez – Mejor Es Que Te Marches (1992)

Sidney Kirk, 78, soul keyboard player, on July 27
Isaac Hayes – Never Gonna Give You Up (1971, on piano)
Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft (1973, on keyboard)
Lou Bond – Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards (1974, on organ)

JayDaYoungan, 24, rapper, shot on July 27

John Grenell, 78, New Zealand country singer, on July 27
John Grenell – Dance All Night Down (Otago Way) (1990)

Mick Moloney, 77, Irish folk musician, on July 27

Bernard Cribbins, 93, English actor and novelty song singer, on July 27
Bernard Cribbins – The Hole In The Ground (1962)

Pino d’Olbia, 87, Italian singer, on July 27

Jim Sohns, 75, singer of blues-rock group Shadows of Knight, on July 29
The Shadows of Knight – Oh Yeah (1966)

Ulises Eyherabide, 55, Argentine rock musician, on July 29

Archie Roach, 66, Australian singer-songwriter, on July 30
Archie Roach – Took The Children Away (1990)
Archie Roach – Love In The Morning (1993)
Archie Roach – It’s Not Too Late (2016)

Raymond Raposa, 41, Indie singer-songwriter as Castanets, on July 30
Castanets – No Voice Was Raised (2005)

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In Memoriam – June 2022

July 5th, 2022 4 comments

As I trawl the corners of the interwebs for the monthly music deaths, I sometimes come across the passing of other interesting people which I might otherwise have missed. One of them is the death at 95 of Ms Ann Turner Cook on June 3. She was an author, but that wasn’t her best claim to fame: she was and still is the infant on the branding of Gerber range of baby foods, having modelled for it in 1928 without knowing much about it. Her identity was revealed only 50 years later, in 1978. A teacher before she became a crime novelist, Ann had four children — I like to think they were all fed Gerber products.

The Duo’s Half
The man who put the Seals in Seals & Croft has departed. Jim Seals, who died at 79, was half of a duo that followed in the folk-rock stream of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the soft rock of Poco, but also adding influences from other genres, especially soul. Seals and Darrell “Dash” Crofts were more than harmonising singer-songwriters; both were multi-instrumentalists, with Seals playing guitar, saxophone and fiddle, and Crofts (still going at 83) drums, mandolin and keyboards. The pair had a string of hits, though their best moment might have been when the Isley Brothers turned Seals & Crofts’ 1972 hit Summer Breeze into a stone-cold soul classic, driven by a blazing guitar solo.

The duo split, having been dropped by Warner Bros., in 1980, reuniting briefly twice, in 1991 and 2014. After1980, Seals retired from music and moved with his family to Costa Rica, where he became a coffee farmer.

The Hair Man
The Hippie culture found its expression on stage in the musical Hair. First staged in October 1967 — the Autumn of Love — work on its script began already in 1964, when even hip men were still sensibly coiffured. Hair was written by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, with the latter principally the lyricist. Rado left us in June at the age of 90. Ragni, his friend since they met while acting on an Off-Broadway stage in 1964, died in 1991.

A drama graduate, James Radomski spent two years in the US Navy, then did post-grad work at the Catholic University of America in DC. He studied acting under Lee Strasberg, recorded his own songs with his band James Alexander and the Argyles, staged his first Broadway production in 1963, and played Richard the Lionheart in the original Broadway production of The Lion in Winter. All that before Hair made its debut.

Rado’s post-Hair work included the much-adapted anti-war musical The Rainbow Rainbeam Radio Roadshow, or just Rainbow.

The Theme Singer
Her 1989 song Falling served as the theme of Twin Peaks, though stripped of her vocals. With Julee Cruise’s ethereal vocals, it went on to become a hit. She also had a role in the cult series, as a bar singer, in the pilot episode and the one in which the killer is revealed.

A frequent collaborator with film composer Angelo Badalamenti — who with Twin Peaks director David Lynch wrote Falling — Cruise had her first big break in 1985 with Mysteries Of Love, which featured in another Lynch project, Blue Velvet.

Cruise released four albums between 1990 and 2011, but collaborated widely, acted on stage, and toured with the B-52’s in the 1990s as replacement for Cindy Williams. And it was a B-52’s song, Roam, that was playing when she gently died by suicide on June 9, at the age of 65.

The Disco Man
As a songwriter, producer and arranger, Patrick Adams enjoyed success in soul, disco and dance music. In the ’70s and ’80s, he wrote for or arranged or produced for soul acts like Black Ivory, Candi Staton (including her hit When You Wake Up Tomorrow), Eddie Kendricks, Jimmy Ruffin, The Main Ingredient, Ben E. King, Melba Moore, The Salsoul Orchestra, Ray Charles, Sharon Brown, Skipworth & Turner, and many others.

In disco, he wrote and produced Musique’s horticultural classic In The Bush, and co-wrote Inner City Express’ Dance And Shake Your Tambourine. He also worked with the Gary Toms Empire and Herbie Mann in his disco phase.

In 1991, his song Touch Me, which he co-wrote in 1984 for Fonda Rae, was a global hit for British singer Cathy Dennis. In 1997, his Keep On Jumpin’, originally a hit for Musique, became a big dance hit for Todd Terry feat. Martha Wash & Jocelyn Brown (the latter having been a member of Musique).

Adams also engineered for acts like Keith Sweat, Eric B. & Rakim, Heavy D. & The Boyz, Salt ‘N’ Pepa, and a young R. Kelly.

The Harmonica Man
You will have heard Tommy Morgan’s harmonica many times, if not on record then in films or on TV. Morgan died at 89 three days after the 80th birthday of Brian Wilson, for whom he played on the Pet Sounds album and on Good Vibrations.

Morgan’s harmonica can be heard in the themes of Sanford and Son (Quincy Jones’ The Streetbeater) and Rockford Files, and on countless scores, including the Grammy-winning one of the mini-series Roots. It is estimated that he played on 600 film scores, from Giant in 1955 via Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Rosemary’s Baby in the ’60s, Blazing Saddles in the ’70s, The Color Purple and The Right Stuff in ’80s, to Dances With Wolves and The Shawshank Redemption in the ’90s, and Lincoln and Monsters Inc. in the new millennium.

Morgan played his first session as a 17-year-old in 1950, for the Andrews Sisters. Apart from Good Vibrations, he played on hits such as the Carpenters’ Rainy Days And Mondays, The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother, Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise, The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, Linda Ronstadt’s Skylark, and on records by the likes of The Monkees, Roy Orbison, The Bee Gees, Merle Haggard, Randy Newman, Mac Davies, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, James Taylor, Michael Jackson. He was a backing musician on the Elvis ’68 comeback special, and if you hear any harmonica on those Phil Spector Wall of Sound productions, they are most likely Morgan’s.

The Hair Bassist
As far as I can determine, bassist Alec John Such is the first member of Bon Jovi to pass on. Such was a member of the classic line up from 1983 to 1994, which means he played on such hits as Livin’ On A Prayer, You Give Love A Bad Name, Wanted Dead or Alive, Bad Medicine, Born To Be My Baby, I’ll Be There For You, Lay Your Hands On Me, Living In Sin, Bed Of Roses, and Always.

The Hitmaker
Almost 16 years after his death was falsely reported, songwriter Paul Vance departed for good. Vance was the co-writer and often producer of hits such as Perry Como’s Catch A Falling Star, Brian Hyland’s Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (which Vance was inspired to write by his daughter, who was too shy to wear a bikini, itsy bitsy or otherwise), Johnny Mathis’ What Will Mary Say, The Cuff Link’s Tracy,  Clint Holmes’ Playground In My Mind, and David Geddes’ Run Joey Run (which featured Vance’s bikini-shy daughter Paula on the female vocals).

The Soul Multitasker
Multiple Grammy-winner Bernard Belle, brother of soul singer Regina, was a pioneer of New Jack Swing in the 1990s, in collaboration with Terry Lewis. He co-wrote and/or produced for acts like Michael Jackson (including Remember The Time), Hi-Five (including I Like the Way [The Kissing Game]), Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Patti LaBelle, Glenn Jones, Aaron Hall, Jaheim, Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure, and, of course, his sister.

After becoming a born-again Christian, he worked in gospel music, with acts like Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Blackstreet, and BeBe & CeCe Winans.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.

Paul Vance, 92, songwriter and producer, on May 29
Perry Como – Catch A Falling Star (1957, as co-writer)
The Detergents – Leader Of The Laundromat (1964, as co-writer)
Paul Vance – Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad) (1966, also as co-writer)

Kelly Joe Phelps, 62, blues musician, on May 31
Kelly Joe Phelps – Lead Me On (1994)

Dave Smith, 72, synth pioneer, inventor of Midi, on May 31

Deborah McCrary, 67, singer with gospel band The McCrary Sisters, on June 1
The McCrary Sisters – Skin Deep (2013)

Leroy Williams, 85, jazz drummer, on June 1

Hal Bynum, 87, country songwriter and singer, on June 2
Kenny Rogers – Lucille (1977, as co-writer)
Hal Bynum – Last Summer (1998)

El Noba, 25, Argentine cumbia singer, in traffic accident on June 3

Grachan Moncur III, 85, jazz trombonist, on June 3
Grachan Moncur III – Thandiwa (1965)

Trouble, 34, rapper, shot on June 5

Alec John Such, 70, bassist of Bon Jovi, on June 5
Bon Jovi – Runaway (1984)
Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine (1988)
Bon Jovi – Bed Of Roses (1992)

Mikhail Vladimirov, 55, guitarist of Russian rock bands Mify, Chizh & Co, on June 6

Jim Seals, 79, half of soft-rock duo Seals & Crofts and songwriter, on June 6
Seals & Crofts – We May Never Pass This Way (Again) (1973, also as co-writer)
The Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze (1973, as co-writer)
Seals & Crofts feat. Carolyn Willis – Get Closer (1976, also as co-writer)

Eric Riebling, 59, bassist of rock band The Affordable Floors, on June 8
The Affordable Floors – The Red Room (1988)

Wolfgang Reisinger, 66, Austrian jazz percussionist, on June 8

Julee Cruise, 65, singer and musician, on June 9
Julee Cruise – Falling (1989)
Julee Cruise – In My Other World (1993)

Dario Parisini, 55, Italian guitarist and composer, on June 9

Commander Tom, German DJ and producer, on June 9
Commander Tom – Attention (2004)

FBG Cash, 31, rapper, shot on June 10

Amb. Osayomore Joseph, 69, Nigerian high-life pioneer, on June 11
Osayomore Joseph – Idami (2022)

Dawit Nega, 34, Ethiopian singer and musician, on June 12

Gabe Baltazar, 92, jazz alto saxophonist, on June 12
Anne Richards & The Stan Kenton Orchestra – It’s a Wonderful World (1961, on alto sax)

Joel Whitburn, 82, music historian, on June 14

Big Rude Jake, 57, Canadian musician, on June 16
Big Rude Jake – Swing Baby! (1996)

Ken Williams, 72, soul singer, songwriter, producer, on June 17
Peaches & Herb – The Ten Commandments Of Love (1968, a co-producer)
The Main Ingredient – Everybody Plays The Fool (1973, as co-writer)

Gian Pietro Felisatti, 72, Italian producer and songwriter, on June 18

Brett Tuggle, 70, rock keyboardist and songwriter, on June 19
David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise (1987, as co-writer and on keyboards)

Jim Schwall, 79, member of blues group Siegel–Schwall Band, on June 19
Siegel-Schwall Band – You Don’t Love Me (1967)

Dennis Cahill, 68, guitarist of US/Irish folk group The Gloaming, on June 20
The Gloaming – Casadh an tSúgáin (2016)

James Rado, 90, playwright and composer (Hair), on June 21
Ronald Dyson & Company – Aquarius (1967)
Petula Clark – Good Morning Starshine (1970)

Artie Kane, 93, film score composer, on June 21

Edgar O. de Haas, 92, jazz bassist, on June 22
Peter, Paul & Mary – Polly Von (1963)

Patrick Adams, 72, disco & R&B producer, arranger and composer, on June 22
Black Ivory – Can’t You See (1976, as arranger)
Musique – In The Bush (1978, as writer and producer)
Cathy Dennis – Touch Me (All Night Long) (1991, as co-writer)

Paulo Diniz, 82, Brazilian singer, on June 22
Paulo Diniz – Pingos de amor (1971)

Massimo Morante, 69, guitarist of Italian prog-rock band Goblin, on June 23
Goblin – Chi (1976)

Tommy Morgan, 89, harmonicist and session musician, on June 23
Tommy Morgan – Off Shore (1958)
The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (1969, on harmonica)
Quincy Jones – The Streetbeater (1973, on harmonica)
James Taylor – Caroline I See You (2002, on harmonica)

Bernard Belle, 57, soul producer and songwriter, on June 23
Michael Jackson – Remember The Time (1992, as co-writer)
Glenn Jones – Call Me (1992, as co-writer and producer)

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In Memoriam – May 2022

June 2nd, 2022 4 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parnell initially broke through as a member of British rock band Atomic Rooster, from 1971-74. In between he recorded with Italian rock band Triton, scoring a 1973 hit with a cover of Satisfaction. Short-lived gigs in a number of bands followed. He also did some session work, including on Toni Basil’s 1980 #1 hit Mickey.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patricia Cahill, 77, Irish singer, on May 11

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

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

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

Lil Keed, 24, rapper, on May 13

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

Robert Cogoi, 82, Belgian singer, on May 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – April 2022

May 5th, 2022 5 comments

It was not a safe month to be a Canadian singer; quite a few died in April, including Susan Jacks, singer of the Poppy Family and wife of singer Terry Jacks, and Native American country singer Shane Yellowbird, who was only 42 (the featured song is from a 2007 album titled Life Is Calling My Name). On the other end of the spectrum, one of the behind-the-scenes people who was at the centre of shaping rock & roll passed away at the age of 104.

One name featured already last month: the death of Bunny Simpson of reggae trio Mighty Diamonds came only three days after the death in a drive-by shooting of fellow band member Tabby Shaw, but since they cut across two months, I included Simpson on both lists.

Most poignantly, on the day before Mental Health Month was to begin, one of country music’s great stars died from mental illness.

The Pioneer
Who knows how rock & roll might have turned out had Art Rupe — born in 1917 as Arthur Goldberg, the son of Jewish immigrants — not decided in 1944 to invest $200 into buying loads of different records by black artists. Rupe’s idea was to analyse these records and arrive at a formula for producing hits in what was then called “race music”. He decided the future was in a fusion of swing and gospel. Soon he founded the LA-based Specialty Records, which quickly thrived. Rupe also spearheaded a wave of gospel recordings. His mantra of fusing genres, set out in the 1940s, would become that of rock & roll and soul music, with his particular recipe immensely influential.

In the 1950s, Rupe discovered acts like Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Larry Williams and Little Richard, with whom he’d be at the vanguard of rock & roll. Price’s 1952 song Lawdy Miss Clawdy is a fair claimant (among several) for “first rock & roll record”. And Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti — the original lyrics of which Rupe ordered cleaned up — was one of the great points of explosion in the nascent genre.

Rupe also launched the career of Sam Cooke, though the erstwhile gospel singer enjoyed his secular success at RCA — after Rupe, something of a purist, had told Cooke to take his smooth secular songs elsewhere. One of these songs was You Send Me (interestingly, the great drummer Earl Palmer played on many Specialty records, including Tutti Frutti, but also on the RCA release You Send Me. There’ll be a retrospective of Palmer’s work later this year).

Like other label bosses, Rupe offered hardnosed contracts to artists and paid paltry royalties; unlike many of his colleagues, he actually paid these royalties (though Little Richard did have to take him to court at one point) and treated his artists with a measure of ethics. But by the end of the 1950s — as Little Richard moved into religion and Sam Cooke out of it — Rupe left the music business to invest in gas and oil. His long life, which begun while World War I was still raging, ended at the age of 104 on April 15.

The Folk-Rock Pioneer
Compiling songs on which Earl Palmer played in April clearly was hazardous to the lives of those connected to them. One of the songs I picked for that forthcoming collection was High Flying Bird, the 1963 hit for Judy Henske. On April 27 the folk singer died at the age of 85.

In the early 1960s, Henske’s folk stylings gave her much exposure beyond the folk scene. With husband Jerry Yester of the Lovin’ Spoonful, she became part of the early Laurel Canyon scene (which, in turn, is the subject of next week’s mix, which will include a track by Henske and Yester). She is credited as being an influence on the folk-rock scene; in 1969 she and Yester recorded a baroque/psych-rock album for the label owned by fellow Laurel Canyon resident Frank Zappa.

The High School ‘President’
Usually high schools in the movies are named after presidents or such-like luminaries. In Grease, the school was named after singer Bobby Rydell, who was one of the big stars in the period of Grease’s setting. Rydell first broke through in 1959 with Kissin’ Time, which reached US #11, followed by his first Top Ten hit, We Got Love. A string of hits and a few movie roles followed over the next five years, when the presciently-titled #4 hit Forget Him gave Rydell his last taste of big chart action.

Rydell stayed in music, and in 1976 had a minor hit with a disco version of Sway. Mostly he toured the nostalgia circuit, often alongside Frankie Avalon, who appeared in Grease.

The Country Legend
The last day of April brought the news of the death at 76 of country star Naomi Judd, matriarch of the Judd family which included actress Ashley and singer Wynnona. With the latter, Naomi formed a hugely popular duo The Judds — the duo was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the following day.

Naomi had been suffering mental health problems, with the medication prescribed for her depression and anxiety causing severe side-effects. The family framed Naomi’s death as her having lost a long battle with mental illness. They avoided giving the details of the mechanics of her death, which clearly was deliberately done by way of reframing and refocussing the narrative on mental illness as a potentially lethal disease. The destigmatisation of mental health disorders is important. Whether bleeping out the S word is the best way of doing so is up for debate (I might suggest that this word, too, requires destigmatisation), but it is right to say that somebody died from a mental health disease, just as somebody might die of cancer or heart disease.

The Funk Brother
As a member of The Funk Brothers, Motown’s in-house backing collective, guitarist Joe Messina had a hand in countless classics. The trouble is, Motown didn’t always credit which musicians played on which track. But we know that Messina, who has died at 93, played on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album and all Temptation albums of the early 1970s. Messina also played on hits such Going To A Go-Go by The Miracles, Dancing in The Street by Martha & The Vandellas, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by the Four Tops, For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder, Your Precious Love by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Someday We’ll Be Together by The Supremes, and many others. Often he was one of three guitarists on one record, all innovating in ways that would help create the Motown sound.

Messina was among the top talents of Detroit’s jazz scene recruited by Gordy in the early days of Motown, and had played with acts like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. He put down his guitar for two decades after Motown moved to LA in 1972, opening carwash and jewellery businesses instead of making gold records. He eventually returned to music after 21 years, to release his only jazz album, Messina Madness. He’d also jam with local jazz acts. In the early 2000s he was part of the Funk Brothers reunion that would result in the superb documentary Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.

Of the 13 Funk Brothers, only one is now alive, percussionist Jack Ashford, who is turning 88 on May 18. Watch this great interview from 2005 with Joe Messina.

The Trucker
If you need trucking music — and, yes, I have a growing playlist on that theme brewing — then country drawler C.W. McCall was your man. His signature song was 1975’s CB radio hit Convoy, which so captured the imagination that Sam Peckinpah made a film based on it, starring Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw.

For all his polluting with diesel fumes, McCall had an environmental conscience, as he showed on his 1976 song There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock ‘N’ Roll). He later became an environmental activist and mayor of a small town in Colorado. But he probably was no woke lefty snowflake commie liberal — last year, McCall gave express permission for his hit Convoy to be used by the so-called Freedom Convoy protests in Canada, which was not exactly a liberal scene.

The Sax Man
You will have heard the saxophone work of Andrew Woolfolk on any number of Earth, Wind & Fire records. Woodfolk was not the sax player who played the great solo on the live version of Reasons (that was Don Myrick), but he was part of the horn section that helped shaped disco. As a young jazz musician in New York in 1973, the Denver-born Woodfolk was ready to enter a career in banking when his old school friend Philip Bailey drafted him to succeed saxophonist and flautist Ronnie Laws in Earth, Wind & Fire, a band which had just begun to gain traction. Woodford remained with the EWF until 1993. His soprano sax helped the band become legends.

In between, Woodford also did session work for the likes of Deniece Williams, Valerie Carter, Stanley Turrentine, Level 42, Philip Bailey, Tracie Spencer, Ruby Turner, Phil Collins, and others.

The Soul Singer
Early in April I was beginning the process of shortlisting tracks for the 1982 compilation in the Any Major Soul series. That gave me occasion to sample Bloodstone’s album of that year, We Go A Long Way Back. That album featured the superb Go On And Cry (which featured on Any Major Soul 1982-83), but the group’s best-known hit was 1973’s Natural High. A couple of days later, founding member, singer and bassist Charles Cormack, who wrote that track, died at the age of 75. But by 1982, he had just quit the band, only to return two years later, staying with Bloodstone until 2020.

With Cormack’s death, only keyboardist and singer Harry Williams survives of the original line-up, which went back to 1962.

The Electronic Pioneer
German musician Klaus Schulze is regarded as a pioneer in electronic music and as such an important influence on dance music, ambient and new wave. He also veered into other genres, such as jazz and classical (especially Wagner). As a composer he influenced the film score master Hans Zimmer.

Schulze started out as a drummer for Tangerine Dream, but after one album in 1970 switched to keyboards founded Ash Ra Tempel, which he also left after one album. In his career, Schulze released some 60 albums.

The Singing  Actress
In March French-Italian singer and actress Catherine Spaak featured on Any Major Beatles in Italian, with her 1966 cover of Yesterday. Almost exactly month later, she passed away at 77. Better known as an actress whose career started when she was a teenager, Spaak also had a career as a singer, styling herself in the 1960s on Françoise Hardy. That wasn’t entirely at random: Spaak was produced by Ezio Leoni, one of the fathers of Italian pop, who also produced Hardy at one point. Having issued her first single in 1962, she released seven albums between 1964 and 1978, three of them collaborations with then-husband Johnny Dorelli.

The Punk Pioneer
Before the Sex Pistols and The Damned, punk had The Saints, who released a punk single, I’m Stranded, in 1976 before any other non-US act of the genre, a few months even before The Damned’s New Rose — and they were Australian. Formed in Brisbane, the band was an antipodean answer to the Ramones. Their voice was that of 19-year-old Chris Bailey, who has died at 65. In the UK, The Saints managed only chart entry, 1977’s The Perfect Day, which reached #34.

Through various line-up changes, the Kenya-born Bailey kept The Saints going, also releasing solo records, which were more mainstream rock.

The Hippie Executive
Born in grey England, budding young music executive Andy Wickham wanted sunshine and found it in LA. Living among the coterie of present and future stars in Laurel Canyon (whose alumnus Judy Henske died soon after him), Wickham was the hippie among the stiffs at Warner Bros. when he signed the likes of Joni Mitchell (already in New York before both of them ended up in LA), Neil Young (sort of), Van Morrison, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and others for the label. Warners had discovered him when Wickham handled the publicity for the groundbreaking Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

Wickham also did some producing, among others for the Everly Brothers, Nancy Sinatra, Phil Ochs, and Van Dyke Parks.

The Swedish Colleague
What must it be like to have played in a band with a future pop legend? That is something which until April 13 Lennart Hegland, bassist of 1960s Swedish folk/pop band Hep Stars might have been able to answer. The band had already enjoyed some success when they discovered future ABBA co-supremo Benny Anderson and invited him to join the band. Benny quickly made his mark, writing many of the group’s songs, some with his friend and future ABBA colleague Björn Ulvaeus. The featured track is the first of their joint compositions.

The Hep Stars split amid some acrimony in 1969. After which Hegland and some other members formed the Gummibandet, which also enjoyed some success in Sweden.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.

 

Andy Wickham, 74, English-born music executive and producer, on March 29
Nancy Sinatra – Hook And Ladder (1971, as producer)

Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson, 70, singer with reggae trio Mighty Diamonds, on April 1
Mighty Diamonds – Right Time (1975)

Roland White, 83, bluegrass mandolin player, on April 1

C.W. McCall, 93, American country singer and songwriter, on April 1
C.W. McCall – Convoy (1975)
C.W. McCall – There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock & Roll) (1976)

Archie Eversole, 37, rapper, on April 3

Joe Messina, 93, guitarist with Motown’s The Funk Brothers, on April 4
The Temptations – I’m Losing You (1966)
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Your Precious Love (1967)
Stevie Wonder – For Once In My Life (1968)

Bobby Rydell, 79, pop singer and actor, on April 5
Bobby Rydell – We Got Love (1959)
Bobby Rydell – Forget Him (1963)

Paul Siebel, 84, singer-songwriter, on April 5
Paul Siebel – Louise (1970, also as writer)

Helen Golden, 81, Dutch jazz singer, on April 6

Larry Holley, 96, Buddy Holly’s bigger brother, on April 7

Con Cluskey, 86, member of Irish pop group The Bachelors, on April 8
The Bachelors – I Wouldn’t Trade You For The World (1964)

Pastelle LeBlanc, 42, member of Canadian folk trio Vishtèn, on April 8

John Rossi, drummer of swing revival band Roomful of Blues (1970-98), on April 9
Roomful of Blues – Dressed Up To Get Messed Up (1984)

Chris Bailey, 65, lead singer of Australian punk band The Saints, on April 9
The Saints – I’m Stranded (1976)
The Saints – Ghost Ships (1984)

Mario Martínez, guitarist of Spanish new wave group La Unión, on April 10
La Unión – Lobo Hombre en París (1984)

Charnett Moffett, 54, jazz bassist, on April 11
Charnett Moffett – Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (1987)

Charles E. McCormick, 75, bassist and singer with soul group Bloodstone, on April 12
Bloodstone – Natural High (1973)
Bloodstone – Give Me Your Heart (1975, also as writer)

Jacek Szymkiewicz, 47, Polish songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, on April 12

David Freel, 64, singer and guitarist of undue group Swell, on April 12
Swell – Off In My Head (1998)

Tim Feerick, 34, bassist of rock band Dance Gavin Dance, on April 13

Lennart Hegland, 79, bassist of pioneering Swedish beat band Hep Stars, on April 13
The Hep Stars – Isn’t It Easy To Say (1966)

Trygve Thue, 71, Norwegian guitarist and producer, on April 14

Orlando Julius, 79, Nigerian saxophonist, singer and bandleader, on April 14
Hugh Masekela – Mama (1975, on saxophone and backing vocals)

Art Rupe, 104, founder of Specialty Records, producer, on April 15
Jimmy Liggins and His Drops Of Joy – Baby I Can’t Forget You (1947, as label owner)
The Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke – Wonderful (1956, as label owner)
Little Richard – Good Golly, Miss Molly (1958, as label owner)

Leo Boni, 57, Italian-American singer and guitarist, on April 15

Koji, 49, rhythm guitarist of Japanese visual kei rock band La’cryma Christi, on April 15
La’cryma Christi – Siam’s Eye (1994)

Bill Bourne, 68, Canadian folk singer-songwriter, on April 16
Bill Bourne – Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (2012)

James Johnson, 82, blues guitarist, on April 16
Slim Harpo – Baby Scratch My Back (1966, on guitar)

Hollis Resnik, 67, stage musical singer and actress, on April 17

Rick Turner, 78, member of psych rock band Autosalvage, and luthier, on April 17
Autosalvage – Parahighway (1968)

Re Styles, 72, Dutch-born singer with rock band The Tubes (1977-80), on April 17
The Tubes – Prime Time (1979)

Catherine Spaak, 77, Belgian-Italian singer and actress, on April 17
Catherine Spaak – Perdono (1962)
Catherine Spaak – Punto d’amore (1976)

Roderick ‘Pooh’ Clark, 49, singer with soul band Hi-Five, on April 17
Hi Five – I Can’t Wait Another Minute (1991)

Paolo Noël, 93, Canadian singer, actor and TV presenter, on April 17

Jerry Doucette, 70, Canadian musician, on April 18
Jerry Doucette – Mama Let Him Play (1977)

José Luis Cortés, 70, Cuban timba flutist, composer, and bandleader, on April 18
José Luis Cortés y NG La Banda – Química Perfecta (2000)

Guitar Shorty, 87, blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter, on April 20
Guitar Shorty – Let My Guitar Do The Talking (2004)

Orrin Hatch, 88, Republican US senator, Mormon gospel singer and composer, on April 23

Arno Hintjens, 72, lead singer of Belgian new wave band TC Matic, on April 23
TC Matic – O La La La (C’est Magnifique) (1981)

Willi Resetarits, 73, Austrian singer and comedian, on April 24

Henny Vrienten, 73, singer and songwriter of Dutch ska band Doe Maar, on April 25

Andrew Woolfolk, 71, saxophonist with Earth, Wind & Fire, on April 25
Earth Wind & Fire – Spasmodic Movements (1973, on lead soprano sax)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Can’t Hide Love
Valerie Carter – Trying To Get To You (1977, on soprano sax)
Tracie Spencer – Hide And Seek (1988, on soprano sax)

Susan Jacks, 73, Canadian singer-songwriter with The Poppy Family, on April 25
The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy (1969)
Susan Jacks – Elusive Butterfly (1980)

Shane Yellowbird, 42, Canadian country singer, on April 25
Shane Yellowbird – Pickup Truck (2007)

Julie Daraîche, 83, Canadian- Québécoise country singer, on April 26

Klaus Schulze, 74, German electronic musician and composer, on April 26
Tangerine Dream – Asche zu Asche (1970, on drums)
Klaus Schulze – Conquest Of Paradise (1994)

Ica Novo, 70, Argentine folk singer, composer and guitarist, on April 26

Randy Rand, 62, bassist of US hard rock band Autograph, on April 26
Autograph – Turn Up The Radio (1984)

Judy Henske, 85, folk singer, on April 27
Judy Henske – Buckeye Jim (1963)
Judy Henske – Day To Day (1966)
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester – Snowblind (1969)

Roberto Lecaros, 77, Chilean jazz musician and composer, on April 29

Tarsame ‘Johnny Zee/Taz’ Singh Saini, 54, Asian-British singer of Stereo Nation, on April 29
Johnny Zee – Hoon Ta Main Nachchna (1989)

Allen Blairman, 81, jazz drummer, on April 29
Allen Blairman – Till You See The Sun Shining Bright (Keep On Moving’ Baby) (2016)

Gabe Serbian, 45, hardcore punk drummer and guitarist, on June 30

Naomi Judd, 76, half of country duo The Judds and songwriter, on April 30
The Judds – Love Is Alive (1985)
The Judds – Change Of Heart (1988, also as writer)
The Judds – Love Can Build A Bridge (1990, also as co-writer)

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In Memoriam – March 2022

April 5th, 2022 3 comments

March was a generally mild month for music deaths — I suppose the Grim Reaper is busy elsewhere — but there were more than the usual number of deaths of relatively young people in March. An English boy band singer died at only 31 of glioblastoma (a particularly nasty kind of cancer), and a member of indie band Freelance Whales died by suicide at 36. And a dazing number of music people died in their 40s and 50s. At the older end of the scale, it was sad to see two members of a legendary reggae trio die within three days of one another (one died on April 1; for purposes of narrative, he gets listed this month and again next month).

I don’t know whether the 1990s alt.rock scene has many devotees among readers of this corner of the Internet, but if there are any, they might have cause to mourn the death of two guitarists in the genre within two days of one another. And, if Foo Fighters are alt.rock (not really, though), the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins was a bit of a shock, especially seeing as he was only 50 and on tour.

The Soul Mover
If nothing else, soul singer-songwriter and keyboardist Timmy Thomas was adept at going with the times. Recording on Goldwax in the 1960s, he was able to do those groovy instrumentals in the mode of Booker T and he could also deliver southern soul vocals. In the 1970s, he tapped into the mood of the time with his classic Why Can’t We Live Together, all the while issuing superb keyboard work. In the 1980s, he did a good line in the synth-and-bass soul numbers, scoring a hit with Gotta Give A Little Love (Ten Years After), and by 1900, he had morphed into an upbeat pop singer.

The Foo Drummer
When the Foo Fighters came off stage in San Isidro, Argentina, nobody expected that 50-year-old drummer Taylor Hawkins, would not live to see the next gig in Bogotá, Colombia, the city where he would be found lifeless in his hotel room. For 25 years he was not only the drummer of Foo Fighters but also the band’s second public face, after Dave Grohl.

He joined Grohl’s band, yet to become superstars, while drumming for Alanis Morrissette on stage at the height of her popularity. It must have been a courageous move for Hawkins to leave that successful gig for a band fronted by Dave Grohl, more so drumming without much studio experience behind a man who was a drumming legend on account of having wielded the sticks in Nirvana. Clearly, Grohl had no complaints about Hawkins drumming.

Besides the Foo Fighters, Hawkins also had his own band, Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders, which included fellow Morrissette alumnus and Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney. The band released three albums between 2006 and 2019. In 2020 Hawkins formed a group with Chaney and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, named NHC (the members’ initials). An album by the supergroup is due out this year. Hawkins’ most recently drummed on Elton John’s new albums of duets, on the track with Eddie Vedder.

The Marcel
In doo wop, few opening lines are as instantly recognisable — well, “iconic”, to use that chronically overused and misapplied word — as the “Bomp-baba-bomp-ba-bomp-ba-bomp-bomp … vedanga-dang-dang-vadinga-dong-ding” of The Marcel’s version of Blue Moon. That line was delivered by bass singer Fred Johnson, who died on the last day of March at the age of 80 (and whose sister’s hairstyle gave the band its name).

Blue Moon was a million-selling #1 hit, but soon there’d be trouble: The Marcels were multiracial, and that prevented them touring in the Deep South. The two white members soon left the group, and were replaced with black singers. Johnson and his bandmates carried on, with Johnson remaining a Marcel throughout its various iterations, but they never had chart success again after a couple of minor hits in 1962.

The Three Dog Producer
The sound of Three Dog Night was much that created by Richard Podolor, who produced all their material in their pomp. Podolor also produced acts like Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly (Metamorphosis, and Live), Blues Image with their magnificent Ride Captain Ride (see Any Major Hits from 1970), Black Oak Arkansas (see Any Major Southern Rock), The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Phil Seymour, Alice Cooper (1981’s Special Forces), Dwight Tilley and others.

Before he was a producer and arranger, Podolor was a rock & roll recording artist, and then a session guitarist. He’d still grab the guitar when he was producing; on Iron Butterfly’s Metamorphosis, he even played the sitar. He also wrote music; among that work was Let There Be Drums, which featured in last month’s In Memoriam to mark the death of co-writer and performer Sandy Nelson.

The Two Diamonds
What a tragedy it is for a member of a trio to see two bandmates die in the space three days. So it is for Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson of the reggae group The Mighty Diamonds, who on March 29 lost lead singer and songwriter Donald “Tabby” Shaw at 67 in a drive-by shooting and on April 1 lost singer Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson to diabetes.

Founded in 1969, the group started to gain traction in the mid-1970s, with their first hit Shame And Pride, produced by Jah Lloyd. Their backing harmonies helped Susan Cadogan hit the UK Top 5 in 1975 with Hurt So Good. They became big in 1976, with the release of their Right Time album. The Mighty Diamonds had a string of hits in the 1970s and ’80s, but their biggest song didn’t become famous in their own version. Pass The Kouchie, a ganja anthem written by Simpson and Ferguson, became a worldwide hit (with adapted lyrics) as Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth. The song featured on Any Major Orginals – 1980s Vol. 2.

The band played popular gigs in Britain in the 1970s, and remained a fixture on Jamaica’s reggae scene for decades, releasing a total of 46 albums, with a 47th in the works. The band had also been preparing for a world tour: tragically, murder and illness within a few days put paid to that.

The Canada Soulman
Canadian soul singer Eric Mercury could do Southern soul with the best of them — and, in fact, at one point he did, recording for Stax with session men like Steve Cropper (who also produced him at times) and The Memphis Horns. Born in Toronto, he was in the group The Pharaohs and then as leader in Eric Mercury and the Soul Searchers before moving to New York in 1968. He issued a number of solo albums which included socially conscious lyrics, with titles like 1969’s Black Electric Man and 1972’s Funky Sounds Nurtured In The Fertile Soil Of Memphis That Smell Of Rock.

His recording career was over by 1981. By then he had written and co-produced a number of tracks for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, including the gorgeous You Are My Heaven (co-written with Stevie Wonder), Only Heaven Can Wait, and Just When I Needed You.

The Street Musician
At an advanced age, Grandpa Elliott became something of a sensation as a soul and blues street musician in New Orleans, where he was a fixture on the corner of Royal and Toulouse Streets in the French Quarter (see video). Long of beard and dressed in a folksy outfit of denim dungarees, red shirt and floppy hat, he attracted media attention throughout the US. Included in Mark Johnson’s Playing for Change project, he would play in stadiums, appear on TV, tour internationally, and go viral on YouTube with his performance of Stand By Me.

In 2009, Elliott, by now blind from glaucoma, released his debut CD, more than three decades after leaving the music industry, disillusioned with the business practices in New York. In the 1960s and ‘70s he released a number of singles, to no commercial success.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.

Mac Martin, 96, bluegrass musician, on Feb. 28

Richard Pratt, bass singer with soul band Blue Magic, announced on March 1
Blue Magic – Stop To Start (1974)

Warner Mack, 86, country singer-songwriter, on March 1
Warner Mack – Is It Wrong (For Loving You) (1957, also as co-writer)

Johnny Brown, 84, comic actor and singer, on March 2
Johnny Brown – Sundown (1961)

Chuck Criss, 36, musician with indie band Freelance Whales, by suicide on March 2
Freelance Whales – Hannah (2010)

Denroy Morgan, c.75, Jamaican-born reggae and funk musician, on March 3
Denroy Morgan – I’ll Do Anything For You (1981)

Jimbeau Hinson, 70, country singer-songwriter, on March 4
The Oak Ridge Boys – Fancy Free (1981, as co-writer)

Jeff Howell, 60, rock bassist with Outlaws, on March 5
Outlaws – Steam On The Blacktop (1994, as member)

Patricio Renán, 77, Chilean pop singer, on March 5

Pau Riba, 73, Spanish singer and author, on March 6
Pau Riba – Noia de porcellana (1969)

Mike Cross, 57, guitarist of alt.rock band Sponge, on March 6
Sponge – Plowed (1994)

Isao Suzuki, 89, Japanese jazz double-bassist, on March 8

Ziggy Sigmund, guitarist with Canadian rock bands Econoline Crush, Slow, on March 8
Econoline Crush – You Don’t Know What It’s Like (1997)

Grandpa Elliott Small, 77, soul singer; street musician, on March 8
Elliott Small – Stay In My Heart (1969)
Grandpa Elliott – Share Your Love With Me (2009)

Ron Miles, 58, jazz trumpeter, cornetist, and composer, on March 8
Ron Miles – A Kind Word (2020)

Richard Podolor, 86, producer and musician, on March 9
Dickie Podolor – I Love You Girl (And I Need You So) (1958, also as writer)
Three Dog Night – Joy To The World (1970, as producer)
Blues Image – Behind Every Man (1970, as producer and arranger)
Black Oak Arkansas – Strong Enough To Be Gentle (1975, as producer)

Bobbie Nelson, 91, country pianist and singer, Willie’s sister, on March 10
Willie Nelson – Local Memory (1973, on piano)

Brad Martin, 48, country singer, on March 11
Brad Martin – Before I Knew Better (2002)

Timmy Thomas, 77, soul singer, keyboardist, songwriter, producer, on March 11
Timmy Thomas – It’s My Life (1967, also as co-writer)
Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (1972, also as writer)
Nicole with Timmy Thomas – New York Eyes (1985, also as writer)
Timmy Thomas – I Love Your Smile (1990)

Guayo Cedeño, 48, Honduran jazz musician and producer, on March 11

Traci Braxton, 50, R&B singer and reality TV star, on March 12
Traci Braxton – Broken Things (2018)

Barry Bailey, 73, guitarist of Atlanta Rhythm Section, on March 12
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Spooky (1979)

Pete St. John, 90, Irish folk singer-songwriter, on March 12
Dropkick Murphys – Fields Of Athenry (2000, as writer)

Jessica Williams, 73, jazz pianist and composer, on March 12
Jessica Williams – Say It Over And Over Again (2004)

Jody Wayne, 77, South African country singer and producer, on March 14

Eric Mercury, 77, Canadian soul singer, songwriter, producer on March 14
Eric Mercury and The Soul Searchers – Lonely Girl (1968)
Eric Mercury – I Can Smell That Funky Music (1972)
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – You Are My Heaven (1979, as co-writer, producer)

Dennis González, 67, jazz trumpeter, on March 15

Barbara Morrison, 72, American jazz singer, on March 16
Barbara Morrison – I Was Doing All Right (2007)

Bobby Weinstein, 82, songwriter and music executive, on March 16
The Royalettes – It’s Gonna Take A Miracle (1965, as co-writer)
Dionne Warwick – Goin’ Out Of My Head (1971)

Glen Glenn, 87, rockabilly singer, on March 18
Glen Glenn – I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone (1958)

LaShun Pace, 60, gospel singer, on March 21

Tommy Tokyo, 50, Norwegian singer, guitarist and songwriter, on March 22
Tommy Tokyo – The Remaining Days Of Life (2020)

Eva Castillo, 52, Filipino singer, on March 22

Jim Miller, 69, member of roots music trio Western Centuries, on March 24
Western Centuries – Weight Of The World (2016)

Bert Ruiter, 75, bassist of Dutch bands Focus, Earth & Fire, announced March 24
Focus – Hocus Pocus (1973)

Taylor Hawkins, 50, drummer of Foo Fighters, on March 25
Foo Fighters – Aurora (1999)
Foo Fighters – Everlong (live, 2006)
Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders – You’re No Good At Life No More (2019)

Françoise Guimbert, 76, French/Reunionesque singer, discovered on March 25
Françoise Guimbert – Tantine Zaza (1978)

Keith Martin, 55, R&B singer, discovered on March 25
Keith Martin – Because Of You (1995)

Jeff Carson, 58, country singer, on March 26
Jeff Carson – Not On Your Love (1995)

Tina May, 60, English jazz singer, on May 26
Tina May – Lucky To Be Me (2010)

Keaton Pierce, 31, lead singer of rock band Too Close To Touch, on March 26
Too Close To Touch – Heavy Hearts (2015)

Mira Calix, 52, South African-born electronic-classical musician and visual artist, on March 28

Jim Karstein, 78, session drummer (JJ Cale, Eric Clapton), on March 27
JJ Cale – I’m A Gypsy Man (1976, on drums)

Jun Lopito, 64, Filipino rock guitarist, on March 29

Donald ‘Tabby Diamond’ Shaw, 67, lead singer of reggae trio Mighty Diamonds, on March 29
Mighty Diamonds – Shame And Pride (1973)
Susan Cadogan – Hurt So Good (on backing vocals with Mighty Diamonds, 1975)
The Mighty Diamonds – Pass The Kouchie (1982)

Tom Parker, 33, singer with English boy band The Wanted, on March 30

Ian ‘Natty Wailer’ Wynter, 67, Jamaican musician, on March 30
Natty Wailer – Lift Your Spirits (2000)

Fred Johnson, 80, bass singer with doo-wop band The Marcels, on March 31
The Marcels – Blue Moon (1961, on bass voice)
The Marcels – Heartaches (1961, on bass voice)

Fitzroy ‘Bunny Diamond’ Simpson, 71, member of Mighty Diamonds, on April 1
(See entry for Tabby Diamond. Pass The Kouchie also as co-writer)

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In Memoriam – February 2022

March 3rd, 2022 4 comments

February was mercifully easier than the first month of the year. Still we lost a few legends, including Howard Grimes, the drummer on all those great Al Green records of the 1970s. And a singer for whom Grimes drummed during that time also died in February, just a week after the singer’s musician brother passed away.

The Rock Bach
Whatever skipping the light fandango in the song A White Shade Of Pale is, Gary Brooker’s vocals of that song contribute to one of the highpoint of rock music in the 1960s — even if the song is dominated by Mathew Fisher’s organ. Brooker wrote the melody for the song, including the Bach-influenced intro (though the authorship has been a tale of protracted litigation, which eventually gave Fisher co-writing credit) and also played the piano on that and on many other Procol Harum songs.

Before becoming a rock legend with Procol Harum, Brooker in 1962 co-founded the The Paramounts with future Harum guitarist Robin Trower. That band was highly-rated by its peers in the London R&B scene, especially The Rolling Stones, who were big fans (five days after Brooker, another alumnus of that scene died in Don Craine, singer and guitarist of the Downliners Sect). But while alumni of that scene like the Stones, Animals and Yardbirds broke big, The Paramounts had a solitary chart hit, the debut single Poison Ivy, which reached UK #35 in 1964.

With Procol Harum, Brooker had more success, but more as an albums than a singles act; other than White Shade, the only UK Top 10 hit was Homburg.

The Cult Funkster
Soul and funk singer Betty Davis should have been a big star, but her refusal to dial down her sexuality, in her act and music, meant that she was denied TV and radio exposure. She certainly had the right connections. As the model Betty Mabry, she did music more on the side than as her main career in the 1960s, when she was close friends with Sly Stone and, especially, Jimi Hendrix. She was in a relationship with Hugh Masekela before she married Miles Davis — whose surname Betty would retain after she and Miles divorced (according to her, due to his violent temper). She also wrote music for others, including the much-covered Uptown by The Chamber Brothers.

In the 1970s Betty recorded with funk legends such as Larry Graham, Greg Errico and some members of Tower of Power, producing her own music. With the broadcast boycott in the US, she never broke through commercially, but with her explosive live act, she established a fiercely loyal cult following.

The Grunger
He started out in Seattle’s grunge scene, and never really left that scene, but Mark Lanegan, who has died at only 57, was also happy to branch out into unexpected directions. In grunge, he was a member of Screaming Trees (initially as a drummer, but he was so bad at that, by how own admission, that they made him the singer), and recorded an unreleased album of Leadbelly songs with Kurt Cobain. From 2000-05, he was a member of Queens of the Stone Age, working with them even after he officially left the band.

While still with the Screaming Trees, Lanegan began releasing a number of solo records. Later efforts attracted prominent guest musicians, such as PJ Harvey and Guns N Roses’ Duff McKagan, and alumni from bands like Soundgarden, Ween, and Afghan Wigs. Between 2004 and 2011, he teamed up for three albums with Isobel Campbell, former singer of Scottish Indie band Belle & Sebastian, and collaborated with English electronica duo Soulsavers. Meanwhile he founded The Gutter Twins with Afghan Wigs frontman Gregg Dulli. And for the soundtrack of the 2012 film Lawless, Lanegan teamed up with the Nick Cave’s bluegrass-punk project The Bootleggers, contributing vocals to three tracks.

With Josh Homme of the Queens of the Stone Age, Lanegan co-wrote the theme song for his friend Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series Parts Unknown. He appeared on the Seattle episode of that fine series.

The Soul Legend
Only six days after his blues guitarist brother Jimmie left us (listed in In Memoriam – January 2022), soul legend Syl Johnson died at 85. Johnson made perhaps his biggest mark as a deep soul singer on Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records, scoring a hit with labelmate Al Green’s Take Me To The River. But he made a name for himself before signing for Hi in 1971. In the late 1960s, he recorded tracks like Come On Sock It To Me, the much-sampled Different Strokes, Is It Because I’m Black? (which featured on Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3, and I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Freedom (on Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 1).

Before he was a soul singer, Johnson was a feature on the Chicago blues scene in the 1950s and early ’60s, playing with acts like Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Freddie King. He’d return to blues music later in his career, which at one point he halted to open a chain of seafood restaurants. In the 1990s he returned to music, prompted by the liberal sampling of his music by hip hop acts. His last album appeared in 2013, some 11 years after he put out an album with his brother Jimmie.

The Pop Pioneer
You would have thought that the death of a woman pioneer who broke barriers would have been announced in good time, with due obits. The death at 87 of Beverly Ross on January 15 went unreported for a full month. Yet, at one point, as a woman songwriter Ross was matched only by Carole King. And before Carole had even hit puberty, Ross already helped invent rock & roll when Bill Haley & The Comets had a 1954 hit with Dim, Dim The Lights, a song she had co-written with the black songwriter Julius Dixson. Apart from racially mixed songwriting teams being pretty groundbreaking, the record turned further sod by becoming the first rock & roll record by a white act to cross over into the R&B charts. Alan Freed called it the “grand daddy song of rock & roll”.

With Dixson, Ross co-wrote the ’50s anthem Lollipop, which she also was the first to record, with black teenager Ronald Gumps, as Ronald & Ruby. The single did well, rising to #20 on the pop charts — until it emerged that this was a racially-mixed act, so TV stations cancelled bookings and some radio stations dropped the song. Lollipop went on to become a mega-hit for a The Chordettes (see Any Major Originals – 1950s).

Ross was the “queen bee” of Brill Building by the late 1950s, working in particular with Jeff Barry. She also worked with Phil Spector, with whom she had a very close relationship — until Spector stole, according to Ross, her riff for what would become the Ben E. King hit Spanish Harlem. The future murderer’s treachery — which seems to have sparked a decline in Ross’ mental health, culminating in her leaving the industry in the mid-1960s — was noted in the title of Ross’ memoirs: I Was the First Woman Phil Spector Killed.

The Founder
English multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald helped create founded two very different rock legend groups. First, he was a co-founder of King Crimson, with whom he played on the classic 1969 debut album In the Court of the Crimson King, contributing with the mellotron, keyboards and woodwinds. On track 2, I Talk To The Wind, which McDonald co-wrote, he took the lead vocals and played flute, clarinet and the organ. After leaving the prog-rockers, McDonald jobbed as a session musician, also appearing on various King Crimson tracks over the years; one of those gigs was to play the sax on T. Rex’s Get It On.

Having moved to New York in the mid-1970s, McDonald co-founded hard rock band Foreigner, appearing on various instruments — from guitar to sax to keyboards — on their first three albums, contributing to hits such as Hot Blooded, Cold As Ice, Feels Like the First Time, and Long Long Way From Home (which he co-wrote). He also co-produced many of their songs.

In 1980 he left Foreigner. He later collaborated with Genesis alumnus Steve Hacket, reunited with King Crimson members, and returned to working with folk singer Judy Dyble.

The Hi Drummer
A week after Syl Johnson left us, the drummer on many of his records followed him to the great soul band in the sky. Howard Grimes was the drummer of Hi Records’ session band, and as such played on many of those great records by Al Green, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright and so on (Al Jackson played on others until his death in 1975). The Hi rhythm section of Grimes and Leroy Hodges was one of the best of the many great ones in 1970s soul. Before Hi, Grimes played on Stax and Atlantic records.

The America Drummer
He never was an officially credited member of the folk-rock trio America, but Willie Leacox, who has died at 74, played on all their material and on stage from 1973 to 2014. That means he took no part in the unfairly reviled Horse With No Name. Before Leacox, the great Hal Blaine did stick duty on most America recordings up to 1973’s Hat Trick album. We hear Leacox playing on America hits such as Sister Golden Hair, Lonely People, Tin Man, Daisy Jane, Today’s The Day, You Can Do Magic and The Border.

The Hot Lips
We knew actress Sally Kellerman from films such as M*A*S*H, but less well-known was her brief forays into the world of recorded music. She did record a song, Rock-a-Bye Baby, for the soundtrack of Brewster McCloud, and occasional sang in films, and when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 1981. But she also released two full albums: Roll With The Feelin’ in 1972 and Sally in 2009 (featuring a version of Aerosmith’s Don’t Want To Miss A Thing). I don’t know what the 2009 effort was like, but Roll With The Feelin’ is a pretty good R&B-influenced folk-rock type album. There was also a 1973 single of The Byrds’ Triad, arranged and co-roduced by a still unknown Barry Manilow.

Nightbirde
Perhaps the most heartbreaking but inspiring story this month is that of singer-songwriter Nightbirde, or Jane Marczewski, who died of cancer at the age of 31. Despite her illness, Nightbirde competed in the 2021 season of America’s Got Talent show, after having been told that her cancer of the lungs, spine and liver, having recurred for a third time, would kill her. At the audition, she told the panel: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” She reached the contest’s quarterfinals, in which she couldn’t compete due to her declining health.

The talent show was not the beginning of her career, though. Under her real name, she had released a few EPs between 2012 and 2015, and then as Nightbirde (a name inspired by a dream) the song It’s OK. That track was written after her second cancer diagnosis in 2020. A live version of it went on to top the iTunes charts.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.

 

Beverley Ross, 87, singer and songwriter, on Jan. 15
Bill Haley & His Comets – Dim, Dim The Lights (1954, as co-writer)
Ronald & Ruby – Lollipop (1958, as co-writer and as Ruby)
Roy Orbison – Candy Man (1961, as co-writer)

Willie Leacox, 74, drummer with folk-rock group America (1973–2014), on Feb. 1
America – Tin Man (1974, on drums)
America – Sister Golden Hair (1975, on drums)
America – You Can Do Magic (1982, on drums)

Glenn Wheatley, 74, bassist of Australian rock band Masters Apprentices, manager, on Feb. 1
The Masters Apprentices – Undecided (1966)

Hiroshima, drummer of Japanese metal group G.I.S.M., on Feb. 1

Joe Diorio, 85, jazz guitarist, on Feb. 2
Joe Dioro – Windows (1975)

Endo Anaconda, 66, Swiss singer-songwriter, on Feb. 2

Donny Gerrard, 75, Canadian singer, on Feb 3
Skylark – Wildflower (1972, as member on lead vocals)

Mickey Bass, 78, jazz bassist, composer and arranger, on Feb. 3

Kerry Chater, 76, Canadian songwriter, member of Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, on Feb. 4
Gary Puckett & The Union Gap – Lady Willpower (1968)
Lee Greenwood – I.O.U. (1983)

Syl Johnson, 85, soul and blues singer, on Feb. 5
Syl Johnson – Different Strokes (1968)
Syl Johnson – I Want To Satisfy Your Every Need (1972, with Howard Grimes on drums)
Syl & Jimmy Johnson – Two Johnsons Are Better Than One (2002)

Bruce Greig, 54, death metal guitarist, on Feb. 6

Zbigniew Namysłowski, 82, Polish jazz musician and composer, on Feb. 7

Betty Davis, 77, funk and soul singer, on Feb. 7
Betty Mabry – Get Ready For Betty (1964)
The Chambers Brothers – Uptown (1967, as writer)
Betty Davis – Anti Love Song (1973)
Betty Davis – Your Mama Wants Ya Back (1974)

Ian McDonald, 75, co-founder of King Crimson (1968-69), Foreigner (1976-80), on Feb. 9
King Crimson – I Talk To The Wind (1969, on lead vocals, flute, keyboards, as co-writer)
T. Rex – Get It On (1971, on saxophone)
Foreigner – Cold As Ice (1977)

Brian Dunning, 70, Irish ambient and folk flautist and composer, on Feb. 10

Owen Moran, 62, bassist of English new wave band Cook da Books, announced Feb. 10
Cook Da Books – Piggie In The Middle Eight (1982)

Steve Salas, 69, lead singer of Chicano R&B band Tierra, on Feb. 10
Tierra – Some Kind Of Woman (1975, also as writer)

Roman Kostrzewski, 61, member of Polish heavy metal band Kat, on Feb. 10

Mike Rabon, 78, lead guitarist of pop group The Five Americans, on Feb. 11
The Five Americans – Western Union (1967, also as co-writer)

Howard Grimes, 80, soul drummer with the Hi Rhythm Section, on Feb. 12
William Bell –  You Don’t Miss Your Water (1961, on drums)
Al Green – So Your Leaving (1972, on drums)
Ann Peebles – A Love Vibration (1974, on drums)

Miguel Vicens Danus, 78, bassist of Spanish pop group Los Bravos, on Feb. 12
Los Bravos – Black Is Black (1966)

King Louie Bankston, 49, rock musician, on Feb. 13

Clifton ‘Fou Fou’ Eddie, 78, soul and jazz drummer, on Feb. 13
The Dells – Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation (1973, on drums)

Roger Segal, 49, bassist with trash metal band Trashlight Vision, on Feb. 14

Sandy Nelson, 83, pop drummer, on Feb. 14
Sandy Nelson – Let There Be Drums (1961, also as co-writer)

Ralf Bursy, 66, (East-)German rock singer and producer, on Feb. 14

José Enrique ‘Chelique’ Sarabia, 81, Venezuelan musician and songwriter, on Feb. 15
Rosa Virginia Chacín, Miguelito Rodríguez & José Enrique Sarabia – Ansiedad (1959, as writer)

Vivi l’internationale, 75, Beninese singer, on Feb. 15

Bob Demeo, 66, jazz drummer, announced on Feb. 16
Sedition Ensemble – Regeneration Report (1981, on drums)

Ramón Stagnaro, 67, Peruvian guitarist, on Feb. 16
Randy Crawford – Don’t Say It’s Over (1993, on acoustic guitar)

David Tyson, 62, singer with The Manhattans (1993-2021), on Feb. 17

Dallas Good, 48, singer, guitarist with Canadian rock/country band The Sadies, on Feb. 17
The Sadies – Stop And Start (2022)

Marc Hamilton, 78, Canadian singer, on Feb. 17
Marc Hamilton – Comme j’ai toujours envie d’aimer (1970)

Fausto Cigliano, 85, Italian singer, guitarist and actor, on Feb. 17
Fausto Cigliano – Che me ’mparato a fa’ (1956)

Chris Scicluna, 62, half of Maltese pop duo Chris & Moira, on Feb. 18

Scotty Wray, guitarist of country group The Wrays, on Feb. 18
The Wrays – You Lay A Lotta Love On Me (1987)

Derek Hussey, c.64, singer of English band The Blockheads (since 2020), on Feb. 18

Gary Brooker, 76, singer, songwriter and pianist of Procol Harum, on Feb. 19
The Paramounts – I’m The One Who Loves You (1964)
Procol Harum – Salty Dog (1969, also as co-writer)
Procol Harum – Pandora’s Box (1975)
Gary Brooker – Old Manhattan Melodies (1979)

Charles Gatt, 77, Maltese jazz musician, founder of the Malta Jazz Festival, on Feb. 19

Nightbirde/Jane Marczewski, 31, singer-songwriter, on Feb. 19
Nightbirde – It’s OK (2020)

Joni James, 91, pop singer, on Feb. 20
Joni James – Why Don’t You Believe Me (1952)

Sam Henry, 65, drummer of punk band Wipers, on Feb. 20
Wipers – Better Off Dead (1978)

Jamal Edwards, 31, DJ and founder of UK hip hop music platform SBTV, on Feb. 20

Sami ‘Sammy’ Clark, 73, Lebanese singer, on Feb. 20

Ernie Andrews, 94, jazz and R&B singer, on Feb. 21
Ernie Andrews – Soothe Me (1945)
Ernie Andrews – Where Were You (When I Needed You) (1965)

Mark Lanegan, 57, rock singer-songwriter, on Feb. 22
Mark Lanegan – I’ll Take Care Of You (1999)
Queens of the Stone Age – God Is In The Radio (2002, as member on lead vocals)
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Honey Child What Can I Do (2006)
The Bootleggers feat. Mark Lanegan –  Fire And Brimstone (2012, on lead vocals)

Muvaffak ‘Maffy’ Falay, 92, Turkish jazz trumpeter, on Feb. 22

Riky Rick, 34, South African rapper, by suicide on Feb. 23

Sally Kellerman, 84, actress and occasional singer, on Feb. 24
Sally Kellerman – Roll With The Feelin’ (1972)
Sally Kellerman – Triad (1973)

Don Craine, 76, singer, guitarist of English blues-rock band Downliners Sect, on Feb. 24
Downliners Sect – Find Out What’s Happening (1964)

MC Skibadee, 47, British drum & bass MC and musician, on Feb. 25

Nicky Tesco, 66, singer and lyricist of English punk band The Members, on Feb. 25
The Members – The Sound Of The Suburbs (1979)

Snootie Wild, 36, rapper, shot on Feb. 26

Rachel Morris, lead singer of British indie band Hopper, announced on Feb. 28
Hopper – Ridiculous Day (1996)

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In Memoriam – January 2022

February 2nd, 2022 6 comments

Disaster struck in producing this instalment of the In Memoriam series. Halfway through the month, the document I was working on had magically disappeared. All I had left was a back-up, including exactly one entry, that of jazz-fusion guitarist Nick Collionne. Many hours of work had to be redone. I was tempted to read it as a sign that maybe this was a good time to stop the series, being the start of a new year. The amount of work that goes into these posts could certainly be used profitably elsewhere.

As the alert reader will have detected, I decided to carry on. It seems for some readers, the In Memoriam posts are essential reading, and I don’t think anybody else on the Internet does this kind of thing in the field of popular music.

But the clincher really came a couple of weeks before all the drama happened. A kind reader bought me a few coffees on BuyMeACoffee  (the platform on which you can give this corner of the interblogs a little love), and noted that I once wrote something nice about his late brother. I looked it up, and it concerned an entry in an In Memoriam from 2015, about one of those people who make an impact behind the scenes. I suppose that these write-ups do make a difference; perhaps less so with the headliner deaths, but probably with those people who don’t command much column inches in the obituary pages. And maybe family and friends of such people might stumble on this place and take comfort in the achievements of their loved one being noted. And that makes me feel a bit guilty about not being able to feature even more people, because I suspect that there’s a story behind every musician. But until I get sponsorship to make this my full-time job, there must be limits to that…

So, here we are again, counting down the music deaths of the month and their music… And what a relentlessly ugly month it was, especially for black vocalists from 1950s and ’60s, with members of The Ronettes, The Dixie Cups, The Five Satins, and The Platters dying in the space of three days. We also lost funksters from Parliament, The Ohio Players and Mtume, and 1960s soul singer Freddie Hughes. And within two days, January 29-30, a trio of session legends — two of them of particular interest to Dylanistas —passed away. Seventeen (!) write-ups testify to the grimness of the first month of January. Make yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and read… (or get the PDF of this whole post in the DLable package, and read it all at your leisure).

The Voice
I doubt that at this point I could add anything new to say about Meat Loaf. So let me note that Bat Out Of Hell was the soundtrack of my puberty — and this, to paraphrase a quote from the film Casablanca, makes me a citizen of the world. I can’t say whether I love that album more than most others because it lodged itself so firmly within me during my formative years, or because it is a masterpiece. I suspect it’s both. I don’t think there’s any song I’d like to sing more at a karaoke than the title track (and I could, you know).

In 1985 I saw Meat Loaf in concert in London (it was a gig just like this one). I was in the first row of the Hammersmith Odeon. Mr Aday put on a great show, of course, even if I didn’t like his swearing at the female singer during Paradise At The Dashboard Light (it was part of the act, and she duly swore back at him, but I found it horrible). In the line of my vision was the lead guitarist, a bald mustachoid chap named Bob Kulick. At one point we made eye contact, and he gave me a wink. For an 18-year-old, it was thrilling to be acknowledged by a member of the band. Kulick died in 2020. Jim Steinman in 2021. Meat Loaf in 2022. I suppose Todd Rundgren and Ellen Foley will enter 2023 with some trepidation.

The Trailblazer
Other than Darlene Love, no other singer represents Phil Spector Wall of Sound more than Ronnie Spector — so much so that she even had his name, after marrying the scumbag in 1968. As the singer of The Ronettes, Yvette Bennett had an unusual voice, an exotic look (she was the daughter of an African-American-Cherokee mother and Irish-American father), and a rebellious image which went against the demure grain of early-1960s America.

In the wake of a string of hits such as Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, The Best Part Of Breakin’ Up or Walking In The Rain, The Ronettes were huge, in the US and in the UK, where they were voted the third-most popular pop group in 1965, after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. But by 1967 they had broken up.

In 1966 The Ronettes supported The Beatles on their US tour, leading to a friendship with Phil’s special pal John Lennon and George Harrison. The latter wrote and produced the Apple release Try Some Buy Some for her; later recorded by Harrison himself.

Spector sabotaged Ronnie’s career after they divorced in 1974, following years of gross psychological abuse, including Phil pulling a gun on Ronnie. When she escaped from the Spector mansion in 1972, she had not even shoes on. She kept the rotten surname for career purposes, though Phil refused her the right to perform any of her old songs. As a result, Ronnie’s solo career suffered.

With Ronnie’s death, and that of her sister Estelle in 2009, Nedra Talley is the last survivor of the trio.

The Funky Producer
He might be best-known for his 1980s fresh-produce anthem Juicy Fruit, but James Mtume, who has died at 76, was also a great producer and jazz percussionist. The son of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath — James received his Swahili name in the 1960s as an activist in a black empowerment group — Mtume released a couple of jazz albums in the late ‘60s and played with McCoy Tyner, Art Farmer and Freddie Hubbard, before joining Miles Davis group. He played the percussions on a series of Davis albums, alongside fellow percussionist Badal Roy, who also died in January.

In the late 1970s, Mtume and fellow Davis alumnus Reggie Lucas turned to songwriting and production in soul and funk. They co-wrote the Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway hits Back Together Again and The Closer I Get To You, Stephanie Mills’ Never Knew Love This Before and Two Hearts, and Phyllis Hymans You Know How To Love Me.  They also formed their own band, named Mtume, and created a series of R&B hits that would be heavily-sampled in hip-hop, such as Juicy Fruit (which, you’ll be shocked to learn, isn’t about fresh produce after all), So You Want To Be A Star, Breathless, and You, Me And He.

The Samba Legend
Musicians can scare the hell out of politicians, and so it was with Brazilian samba superstar Elza Soares, who has died at 91. In 1970, the singer, long already a household name in Brazil, was such a thorn in the side of her country’s right-wing regime that assassins strafed her house with machine gun fire — with her children inside. She and her husband, football legend Garrincha, had to flee to Italy. Her relationship with Garrincha was a media sensation and big scandal in the 1960s, as the footballer was still married and Elza was seen as a homewrecker. It ended in 1977 due to Garrincha’s domestic abuse.

Tragedy was as steady companion in Soares’ life. Her mother died in 1969 in a car accident caused by Garrincha, who was driving drunk. Soares, her daughter and Garrincha were injured in the crash. The son she had with the football player, Garrincha Jr, died in 1986 at the age of 9, also in a car accident. Garrincha Sr died in 1983, broken by his alcoholism. Elza died on the 39the anniversary of his death.

Soares’ career kicked off in 1958 with her first single, the hit Se Acaso Você Chegasse. She helped bring US jazz into the Brazilian samba, and continued to introduce other genres, even as an octogenarian. She remained one the most successful and influential of all Brazilian singers, with the BBC naming her “Singer of the Millennium” in 1999, alongside Tina Turner. She was still planning a new album and live shows at the time of her death.

The Dixie Cup
With the death of Rosa Lee Hawkins, there’s only one original member of The Dixie Cups left. Her cousin Joan Marie Johnson left us in 2016; now only Rosa Lee’s older sister, Barbara Ann Hawkins, remains. The New Orleans trio had a great string of hits in the mid-1960s, such as Chapel Of Love, People Say, You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me, and Iko Iko. The latter, a worldwide hit in 1965 based on a popular New Orleans tune, came about by chance. Barbara recalled: “We were just clowning around with it during a session using drumsticks on ashtrays. We didn’t realise that Jerry [Leiber] and Mike [Stoller] had the tapes running.” The producers simply overdubbed percussion and a bassline, and the recording became a big hit. It was also the trio’s final run at the charts.

The Hawkins sisters continued to perform, with others filling in for Joan, until the end. In 2005, they were among those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Poignant fact:  Their #1 hit Chapel Of Love was originally written for The Ronettes, whose lead singer we lost a day after the passing of Rosa Lee. The Ronettes’ own version isn’t great.

The Last Venture
With the death at 88 of Don Wilson, all members of the classic line-up of the pioneering guitar band The Ventures are gone. Bassist Bob Bogle, who co-founded the band with rhythm guitarist Wilson, died in 2009; lead guitarist Nokie Edwards in 2018, and drummer Mel Taylor in 1996.

Wilson and Bogle were the only constants in the band’s line-up; after Bogle left in 2005, Wilson carried on for another ten years. The Ventures are still a going concern, with drummer Leon Taylor the longest-serving current member, after he succeeded Mel Taylor upon his death in 1996.

The Songwriting Legend
There have been several successful husband-and-wife songwriting teams: Alan and Marilyn Bergman stand among the best of them. Now Marilyn has died at 93, leaving Alan widowed after 63 years of marriage at the age of 96. Just a few days before Marylin’s death, Sydney Poitier died; the Bergmans had written the lyrics for Quincy Jones’ title track for Poitier’s landmark film In The Heat Of The Night. As lyricists, they had to work with composers; often it was with Michel Legrand, who died in January 2019.

The Bergmans’ classics include Sinatra’s Nice ‘N Easy, The Windmills of Your Mind, What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?, Steisand’s The Way We Were, Neil Diamond’s You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, James Ingram & Patti Austin’s How Do You Keep the Music Playing?, Steven Bishop’s It Might Be You, and Michael Jackson’s Someone In the Dark (from the E.T. album).

The Funk Voice
Before there was the Parliament-Funkadelic funk collective, there was the doo wop and soul group The Parliaments, comprising George Clinton, Ray Davis, Grady Thomas, Fuzzy Haskins, and Calvin Simon, who has died at 79. The band had been recording since the late 1960s, though with limited success. Shortly after Simon has to leave the band as he was drafted into the army in 1966 to fight in Vietnam, Clinton lost the right to the name The Parliaments in a record label dispute. Instead he founded Funkadelic, and in 1970 the singular, article-free Parliament. For the latter he roped in his old buddies, including Simon.

They had big success throughout the 1970s, but disputes with Clinton led to Simon, Thomas and Haskins splitting in the early 1980s. After releasing one album under the confusing moniker Funkadelic, the trio settled on being The Original P. Calvin Simon later got involved in gospel music.

The White Motown Man
Among the many Motown chart-toppers there as a white face: R. Dean Taylor, who had a global hit in 1970 with Indiana Wants Me. Three years earlier, the Canadian-born singer and songwriter enjoyed a UK hit with There’s A Ghost In My House, co-written with Holland-Dozier-Holland. Taylor co-wrote a number of songs for other Motown artists, such as the Four Tops’ I Turn To Stone, and was part of the short-lived Motown production team The Clan, whose credits include The Supremes’ Love Child.

The Country Writer
Better known as a songwriter in country music, Dallas Frazier was also a singer of some repute, with his often R&B-inflected style. Still, he wasn’t the first to record his most famous composition, There Goes My Everything. The first version of that was recorded by his pal and mentor Ferlin Husky (see The Originals – 1960s Vol. 2) before it became a hit for Jackie Greene and then for Elvis Presley and Engelbert Humperdinck. He also wrote Son Of Hickory Holler’s Tramp, which was recorded to great effect by soul singer O.C. Smith and Merle Haggard. Other hits the former child-starlet wrote include Alley Oop for the The Hollywood Argyles, Huskey’s Timber I’m Falling, All I Have To Offer You (Is Me) for Charley Pride, Elvira for the Oak Ridge Boys (originally recorded by Frasier in 1966), and Beneath Still Waters for Emmylou Harris. George Jones held Frasier in such high esteem that he recorded an entire album of his compositions — alas, he never recorded There Goes My Everything, a song that would have been perfect for Jones. [Edit: Reader J.Loslo points out that he did, in 2008. It’s not as good as one might have hoped.]

Frasier, who described himself as a “Grapes of Wrath kid”, referring to the dustbowl trek from Oklahoma to California which his family undertook when he was an infant, retired from music in 1988 to become a preacher.

The A-Teamer
As a pianist in the elite Nashville session collective The A-Team, Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins played on countless country hit records over a period of 60 years. These include George Jones’ 1957 breakthrough hit White Lightning, Patsy Cline’s I Fall To Pieces, Roger Miller’s King Of The Road and Dang Me, Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton’s Last Thing On My Mind, Charley Pride’s Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’, Charlie Rich’s The Most Beautiful Girl, Dolly Parton’s Jolene, I Will Always Love You and Early Morning Breeze, and Kenny Roger’s The Gambler,  She Believes In Me and Coward Of The County, and countless more.

When non-country artists came to Nashville, the blind pianist would play for them too, most notably on Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde album. Other acts he recorded with include Arthur Alexander (including on Anna), Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot, J. J. Cale, Elvis Presley, Levon Helm, Don McLean, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Hallyday, Ray Charles, Neil Young, k.d. lang, Aaron Neville, Mark Knopfler, Elvis Costello, and others.

Robbins later couldn’t recall much about playing on Dylan’s masterpiece, other than Rainy Day Woman (apparently, and you won’t believe this, everybody did get stoned). He couldn’t remember playing on the sessions for tracks like Just Like A Woman or Stuck Inside Of Mobile…

Dylan’s Electric Drummer
The day before Robbins left us, Bob Dylan lost another musician from those days in blues drummer Sam Lay, who was on the drums when Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival. Lay had played on the title track of his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited.

By then Lay had already earned himself a reputation by backing blues giants such as Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf, for whom he drummed on the original version of The Red Rooster (later known as Little Red Rooster) and Goin’ Down Slow. Lay also backed acts like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Magic Sam.

The Hall of Fame Drummer
The day after Lay, another Hall of Fame drummer departed. The death at 96 by Philip Paul brings to an end a career that started in 1938, when as a 13-year-old he played in his father’s jazz band in New York. In the 1940s he played with jazz greats like Arthur Prysock, Buddy Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie, and in the 1950s became a session drummer on King Records.

On King, he played on classics such as Little Willie John’s Fever, Charles Brown’s Please Come Home For Christmas, Tiny Bradshaw’s Train Kept A-Rollin’, Wynonie Harris’ Good Rockin Tonight, Freddie King’s Hide Away and Tore Down, and Hank Ballard’s The Twist, thereby virtually inventing the twist beat (like Fever, its story features in The Originals: Rock & Roll Years). He also backed acts like John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Jimmy Smith, Nat Adderley, and Herbie Mann. And he was part of the Meriwether Trio.

Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, once said of Philip Paul: “If someone were to try to isolate the single heartbeat of the early days of rock and roll, as it transitions from ‘race music’ to ‘rhythm & blues’ to whatever you want to call what early rock and roll is, that heartbeat is Philip. [He is] the thread that runs through so much of the important music of that period.”

The Pop Songwriter
And the day after Dallas Frasier, another hit songwriter signed off in Jon Lind, who co-wrote hits such as Earth, Wind & Fire’s Boogie Wonderland, Madonna’s Crazy For You, Vanessa Williams’ Save The Best For Last, or Mica Paris’ Whisper A Prayer. As a musician, Lind was a member of soft-rock trio Howdy Moon (with the late Valerie Carter) and later The Fifth Avenue Band, in between releasing solo records, though to no great effect. Later he became a record label executive, serving as executive producer for acts like the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez.

The BST Arranger
At first, Dick Halligan played the trombone for Blood, Sweat & Tears, but after Al Kooper left following the debut album, he became the group’s keyboardist/pianist. He also arranged many of their songs, and wrote a few, before leaving BST in 1971. He also arranged for others, such as Buckingham Nicks and England Dan & John Ford Coley. He also was a composer of film scores, jazz tracks, and chamber music. As part of BS&T, Halligan also played at Woodstock, which will become a reference point shortly.

The Tabla Player
Born in East-Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Badal Roy was playing the tabla, a pair of Indian twin-hand drums, in a New York City restaurant when he came to Miles Davis’ notice. Roy had been into jazz ever since he had seen Duke Ellington play in his home country in 1963, so when Davis invited him to play on his 1972 album On The Corner (on which James Mtume appeared as well), he knew what to do. He’d play on several more Davis albums and was also part of his live act.

Badal, who also played other percussion instruments, released several albums under his own name, and backed acts such as Ornette Coleman, Herbie Mann, Lonnie Liston Smith, Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Andreas Vollenweider, Charlie Haden, Yoko Ono and Richie Havens.

The Woodstock Man
Concert promoters don’t usually get listed in this series, but Michael Lang, who has died at 77, deserves a mention as the initiator and co-organiser of the Woodstock Music & Art Festival in 1969 (which was treated here on its 50th anniversary). The then-25-year-old had enjoyed success with a previous festival near Miami, the 1968 Pop & Underground Festival, which had included in its line-up Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, and others.

After Woodstock, Lang was roped in at an advanced stage by The Rolling Stones to help organise the ill-fated Altamont festival (he can be seen on stage during the Jefferson Starship scuffle in the film Gimme Shelter). He also organised the similarly ill-fated Woodstock ‘99 festival, and the iteration five years earlier.

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.

Stephen J. Lawrence, 82, composer for Sesame Street, on Dec. 30
Sesame Street – Fuzzy And Blue (And Orange) (1981, as co-writer)

Nick Colionne, jazz guitarist, on Jan. 1
Nick Colionne – Slammin’ (2014)

Mighty Bomber, 93, Trinidad and Tobago calypso singer, on Jan. 1
The Mighty Bomber – Gloria (1962)

Traxamillion, 42, hip hop producer, on Jan. 2

Kenny J, 69, Trinidad and Tobago calypso and soca parang singer, on Jan. 2

Ana Bejerano, 60, singer Spanish vocal group Mocedades, on Jan. 2

Jay Weaver, 42, bassist of band Big Daddy Weave, on Jan. 2

María Mérida, 96, Spanish folk singer, on Jan. 4
María Mérida – Camino de Tunte (1955)

Andrzej Nowak, 62, guitarist of Polish rock collective TSA, on Jan. 4

Jessie Daniels, 58, singer with soul band Force MD’s, on Jan. 4
Force M.D.’s – Tender Love (1985, on lead vocals)

Calvin Simon, 79, singer with Parliament-Funkadelic, on Jan. 6
The Parliaments – Party Boys (1959)
The Parliaments – Heart Trouble (1965)
Parliament – Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) (1975)

Yoram Taharlev, 83, Israeli songwriter, on Jan. 6

Clive Zanda, 82, Trinidad and Tobago jazz musician, on Jan. 6

Dean Taylor, 82, Canadian country singer-songwriter and producer, on Jan. 7
R. Dean Taylor – There’s A Ghost In My House (1967)
Diana Ross & The Supremes – Love Child (1969, as co-producer)
R. Dean Taylor – Indiana Wants Me (1970)

Bobby Harrison, 82, English rock drummer and singer, on Jan. 7
The Freedom – Where Will You Be Tonight (1968, as member)

Marc Dé Hugar, 52, guitarist of Australian glam metal band Candy Harlots, on Jan. 7
Candy Harlots – Danger (1990)

Koady Chaisson, 37, banjoist of Canadian roots band The East Pointers, on Jan. 7
The East Pointers – Last Blank Page (2015, also as co-writer)

Harpdog Brown, 59, Canadian blues musician, on Jan. 7

Michael Lang, 77, co-creator of Woodstock, on Jan. 8
Joni Mitchell – Woodstock (1970)

Marilyn Bergman, 93, songwriter, on Jan. 8
Frank Sinatra – Nice n’ Easy (1960, as co-writer)
Quincy Jones feat. Ray Charles – In The Heat Of The Night (1967, as co-writer)
Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You (1982, as co-writers)

James Mtume, 76, soul-funk musician and songwriter, on Jan. 9
Miles Davis – Black Satin (1972, on percussions)
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Closer I Get To You (1977, as writer)
Mtume – So You Wanna Be A Star (1980)

Garry Bradbury, 62, Australian electronic musician, announced Jan. 10

Khan Jamal, 75, jazz vibraphonist, on Jan. 10
Sounds Of Liberation – New Life (1972, as founder-member)

Gerry Granahan, 89, singer, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 10
Dicky Doo and the Don’ts – Leave Me Alone (Let Me Cry) (1958, as singer and co-writer)

Burke Shelley, 71, Welsh bassist-singer of hard rock band Budgie, on Jan. 10
Budgie – Whisky River (1972)
Budgie – I Turned To Stone (1981)

Bruce Anderson, founder and guitarist of art-rock band MX-80, on Jan. 11
MX-80 – Someday You’ll Be King (1980)

Martin Carrizo, 50, Argentine drummer, on Jan. 11

Vince Fontaine, 60, founder of Canadian First Nations rock group Eagle & Hawk, on Jan. 11
Eagle & Hawk – Sundancer (2004)

Jordi Sabatés, 73, Spanish pianist and film composer, on Jan. 11

Jerry Crutchfield, 87, country songwriter, producer (esp. Tanya Tucker), music exec, on Jan. 11
Brenda Lee – My Whole World Is Falling Down (1963, as co-writer)
Dave Loggins – Please Come To Boston (1974, as producer)

Rosa Lee Hawkins, 77, singer with R&B trio The Dixie Cups, on Jan. 11
The Dixie Cups – You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me (1964)
The Dixie Cups – Iko Iko (1964, also as co-writer)

Ronnie Spector, 78, singer of The Ronettes, on Jan. 12
The Ronettes – Baby I Love You (1963)
Ronnie Spector – Try Some, Buy Some (1971)
Ronnie Spector – Love On A Rooftop (1987)

Peter Welker, 79, jazz-funk musician, on Jan. 12

Fred Parris, 85, lead singer of doo wop group The Five Satins and songwriter, on Jan. 13
The Five Satins – In The Still Of The Night (1956, also as writer)
Fred Parris and The Satins – Let Me Be The Last One (1982)

Sonny Turner, 83, lead singer of The Platters (1959-70), on Jan. 13
The Platters – With This Ring (1966)

Marty Roberts, 89, half of lounge duo Marty & Elayne, on Jan. 13

Fred Van Hove, 84, Belgian jazz musician, on Jan. 13

Vince ‘Lil’ Nation’/’CPO Boss Hogg’ Edwards, 52, rapper, announced Jan. 13
CPO – Ballad Of A Menace (1990, also as co-writer)

Sad Frosty, 24, rapper, on Jan. 14

Greg Webster, 84, drummer of funk band Ohio Players (1963-74), on Jan. 14
The Ohio Players – Neighbors (1967)

Dallas Frazier, 82, American country musician and songwriter, on Jan. 14
Dallas Frazier – Elvira (1965, also as writer)
O.C. Smith – Son Of Hickory Holler’s Tramp (1968, as writer)
The Holmes Brothers – There Goes My Everything (1993, as writer)

Dan Einstein, 61, executive producer, Oh Boy label founder, on Jan. 15

Jon Lind, 73, songwriter, producer, musician, on Jan. 15
Howdy Moon – Cheyenne Autumn (1974, as member and writer)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Sun Goddess (1975, as co-writer)

Rachel Nagy, singer and pianist of garage rock band Detroit Cobras, announced Jan. 15
The Detroit Cobras – Midnight Blues (1998)

Carmela Corren, 83, Israeli-born German-based singer, on Jan. 16

Karim Ouellet, 37, Senegalese- Canadian singer-songwriter, on Jan. 17
Karim Ouellet – Marie-Jo (2012)

Armando Gama, 67, Portuguese singer-songwriter, on Jan. 17

Dick Halligan, 78, keyboardist of Blood, Sweat & Tears, arranger, film composer, on Jan. 18
Blood, Sweat & Tears – Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie (1968, on flute, also as arranger)
Blood, Sweat & Tears – Lisa, Listen To Me (1971, also as writer)
Buckingham Nicks – Crying In The Night (1973, as arranger)

Freddie Hughes, 79, soul singer, on Jan. 18
Freddie Hughes – Send My Baby Back (1968)

Badal Roy, 77, Bangladesh-born tabla player, percussionist, on Jan. 18
Miles Davis – Rated X (1974, on tabla; also featuring James Mtume)
Badal Roy, Geoff Warren, Marcello Sebastiani – Courante (2006)

Héctor “Tito” Matos, 53, Puerto Rican percussionist, on Jan. 18
Viento De Agua – Fiesta De Plena (1998, on lead vocals and congas)

Elza Soares, 91, Brazilian samba singer, on Jan. 20
Elza Soares – Se Acaso Você Chegasse (1958)
Elza Soares – Mulata Assanhada (1968)
Elza Soares – Rainha dos Sete Mares (1976)
Elza Soares – O Que Se Cala (2018)

Tom Smith, 65, avant garde musician (To Live and Shave in L.A.), on Jan. 20

Meat Loaf, 74, rock singer, on Jan. 20
Stoney & Meatloaf – Jimmy Bell (1971)
Meat Loaf – Dead Ringer For Love (1981)
Meat Loaf – Bad For Good (2006)

Emil Mangelsdorff, 96, German jazz musician, on Jan. 20

Piero Parodi, 86, Italian folk singer, on Jan. 21

Don Wilson, 88, guitarist with The Ventures, on Jan. 22
The Ventures – Ram Bunk Shush (1961)
The Ventures – Scat In The Dark (1970)

Clive Robin Sarstedt, 78, English singer, on Jan. 22
Robin Sarstedt – My Resistance Is Low (1976)

Hartmut Becker, 83, German actor and singer-songwriter, on Jan. 22

Beegie Adair, 84, jazz pianist, on Jan. 23
Beegie Adair – Tangerine (2003)

Boris Pfeiffer, 53, piper in German medieval metal band In Extremo, on Jan. 24
In Extremo – Erdbeermund (2003)

Osvaldo Peredo, 91, Argentine tango singer, on Jan. 24

Fredrik Johansson, 47, guitarist of Swedish death metal band Dark Tranquility, on Jan. 25

Janet Mead, 83, Australian singer and nun, on Jan. 26
Sister Janet Mead – The Lord’s Prayer (1973)

Kenneth Wannberg, 91, film composer and sound editor, on Jan. 26

Diego Verdaguer, 70, Argentine singer-songwriter, on Jan. 27

Sam Lay, 86, blues and rock session drummer, on Jan. 29
Howlin’ Wolf – Going Down Slow (1962, on drums)
Sam Lay – Maggie’s Farm (1968)

Philip Paul, 96, session drummer on Jan. 30
Tiny Bradshaw – The Train Kept A-Rollin’ (1951, on drums)
Hank Ballard & The Midnighters – The Twist (1959, on drums)
Philip Paul – We 3 Plus 1 (2003)

Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins, 84, country pianist, on Jan. 30
Bob Dylan – Rainy Day Women # 12 & 36 (1966, on piano)
Charlie Rich – The Most Beautiful Girl (1974, on piano)
Ween – I’m Holding You (1996, on piano)

Norma Waterson, 82, member of English folk band The Watersons, on Jan. 30
Norma Waterson – God Loves A Drunk (1996)

Alejandro Alonso, 69, Mexican Christian music singer and guitarist, on Jan. 31

Jimmy Johnson, 93, blues & soul singer and guitarist, announced on Jan. 31
Jimmie Johnson – Little By Little (1983)

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In Memoriam – December 2021

January 4th, 2022 5 comments

The Reaper was busy in December, in music as well as in other fields (Desmond Tutu! Betty White!). One singer on this list featured on two mixes here in the last few months. Canadian singer Renée Martel, who has died at 74, appeared on The Beatles in French Vol. 1 (with her take on The Night Before) and Vol. 2 (with Good Day Sunshine). The Humblebums, whose lead guitarist Tam Harvey has died, were completed by Gerry Rafferty, soon to become big with Stealers Wheel and later his mega-hit Baker Street, and Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Another track here set a world record: hip hop outfit UTFO, whose Kangol Kid has died at 55, had a hit with Roxanne Roxanne which provoked a record 25 answer records, in what has become known as “The Roxanne Wars”.

Revisit the In Memoriam series to review who left us in the past year.

The Reluctant Monkee
With the death at 78 of Michael Nesmith, there’s only one Monkee left, Micky Dolenz. Davy Jones departed in 2012, Peter Tork in 2019. Of the four, Nesmith always looked like the one who least gave a shit about The Monkees, which probably had as much to do with his frustration at being denied musical input as it did with his natural nonchalance. Half the time, he looked like he had no idea what on earth he was doing there. And yet, once in a while, his talent for improvisation would be allowed to shine through.

Behind the scenes, he wasn’t quite so nonchalant when it came to the broken promises about his musical input. Dolenz recalled that Nesmith’s exasperation once found expression in a hole, punched into a wall. Nesmith was a fine songwriter; his Different Drums even featured in a Monkees episode, albeit in a comedic manner (he slaughters it on stage). Shortly after, it became a hit for Linda Ronstadt’s Stone Poneys.

Nesmith went on to influence the country-rock scene (some obits exaggerated when they claimed he virtually invented it) with his Second National Band. Perhaps his best work was his 1972 acoustic album And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, on which he finally recorded his own version of Different Drum (the featured track, with Red Rhodes on pedal steel, is from that set). It’s well worth seeking out. As is its critically panned and commercially rejected album Tantamount To Treason, which proves that critics can be fools.

The Bass Producer
With drummer Sly Dunbbar, bass player Robbie Shakespeare formed the rhythm section of the pivotal reggae band Black Uhuru during its glory days from 1979 to 1987. They also recorded together as Sly & Robbie. But Shakespeare and Dunbar made their greatest impact as producers of acts like Grace Jones (including Pull Up to the Bumper), Gwen Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Ian Dury, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, Serge Gainsbourg, No Doubt, Simply Red and more. Obviously they also produced a who-is-who of reggae, such as Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Sugar Minott, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Ini Kamoze, Yellowman, The Mighty Diamonds, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man, and more.

A few days after Shakespeare, Black Uhuru co-founder Garth Dennis passed away; none of his terms in the band coincided with Shakespeare’s. But as 2021 was fading out, guitarist Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung, who played on many Shakespeare productions (including the Grace Jones, Peter Tosh and Gwen Guthrie ones), died at the age of 71.

The Voice
For a long time in the 1960s and ’70s, soul singer Joe Simon was a frequent visitor to the US charts, with his distinctive low tenor voice (which might take some getting used to). He started out as a gospel singer before becoming a secular southern soul singer in the 1960s. Like colleagues such as Brook Benton, Simon would occasionally drift into the world of country music — almost naturally, since he was based in Nashville. One of his biggest hits was 1969’s The Chokin’ Kind, written by country songwriter Harlan Howard. Another example is the featured version of Simon’s cover of  Eddy Arnold’s country classic Misty Blue.

In the 1970s, Simon had the good fortune of becoming an early client of the great Gamble & Huff production team, which updated his sound to great effect (check out his I Found My Fad on the Any Major Fathers Vol. 2 mix). As the 1970s turned into the ‘80s, Simon returned to his gospel roots and became a singing evangelical preacher.

The Marvelette
With the death of Wanda Young, both lead singers of Motown pioneers The Marvelettes are gone. Gladys Horton, who took the lead on the group’s early hits, died in 2011. It was Horton who got her friend Young to join her band, called The Marvels, just as Motown was signing them. At first Horton took the lead vocals (such as on Please Mr Postman or Beechwood 4-5789), then she shared lead with Young on songs like Locking Up My Heart and Too Many Fish In The Sea. From 1965, Young (by now going by her married name Rogers) became the principal singer, taking the lead on hits like I’ll Keep Holding On, Don’t Mess With Bill, The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game, When You’re Young And In Love and My Baby Must Be A Magician.

The JB Drummer
Before James Brown had the mighty drummers Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks, he had the mighty Melvin Parker, brother of Maceo. And JB reckoned that Melvin was the best drummer he’d had. Up against Stubblefield and Jabo, that’s a huge compliment.

You can hear Parker on tracks like I Feel Good, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, and Out Of Sight. Then Parker was drafted into the army and left the J.B.s. He returned briefly in 1969/70, but soon left and joined his brother in Maceo & All the King’s Men. In 1976 he briefly returned one more time to Brown, playing on his hit Get Up Offa That Thing.

The Smokie
English pop band Smokie produced some real stinkers in their time, but some of those Chinnichap RAK songs deserve rehabilitation. Living Next Door To Alice has been sent up repeatedly (especially with the 1995 “Who the fuck is Alice?” remix), but is a catchy number. And tracks like Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone, I’ll Meet You At Midnight, If You Think You Know How To Love Me, and Don’t Play Your Rock ‘N Roll To Me are well-crafted pop music, wordy titles notwithstanding. And their harmonies were pretty good. The four members also seemed like perfectly nice guys who always had time for their fans.

Bassist Terry Uttley, who has died at 70, with his white-man afro seemed the most affable of the lot. After his wife Shirley became ill with cancer, he became a fundraiser for cancer charities. Exactly a month after her death on November 17, Terry Uttley died.

The Backing Singer-Songwriter
Even if you don’t know the name David Lasley, who has died at 74, you’ll probably have heard his high tenor voice on the backing vocals of various hits by Chic (such as Dance Dance Dance and Everybody Dance), Odyssey (such as Native New Yorker) or Sister Sledge (We Are Family, Lost In Music, He’d The Greatest Dancer, Thinking About You). He also backed acts like James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Garland Jeffreys, Boz Scaggs, Cher, Tim Curry, Valerie Carter, Aretha Franklin, Randy Crawford, Teddy Pendergrass, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Rita Coolidge, and especially his close friend Luther Vandross.

Lasley and Vandross did a lot of the back-up singing together, especially on the Chic collective’s songs. Luther did backing vocals on Lasley’s 1982 solo album. Among the songs on that set was the Lasley composition You Bring Me Joy, later covered by Anita Baker. Other songs Lasley wrote or co-wrote include Boz Scaggs’ JoJo, Randy Crawford’s Nightline, Chaka Khan’s Roll Me Through The Rushes, Maxine Nightingale’s Lead Me On, and more.

The Manager
Music managers don’t usually get included in this series, but I’ll make an exception for Ken Kragen, who has died at 85. A bit of an all-rounder — he was also an author and TV producer (such as for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour), among other things — Kragen managed various acts, especially from the country scene. In 1985, his charges included Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie when he was approached by Harry Belafonte to put together a charity concert to raise funds for the Ethiopian famine, following the efforts by Band Aid in the UK. Kragen didn’t think a concert would work — turns out, he was wrong — but suggested an all-star charity record in the style of Band Aid.

He got Quincy Jones to produce the record, and Kragen’s client Lionel Richie and Belafonte’s mate Michael Jackson wrote We Are The World. In the end, Kragen had to turn away stars who wanted to appear on the single, which was recorded on January 21, 1985, and released on March 7. It became the fastest-selling record in US history, despite being rather rubbish. A year later, Kragen organised the Hands Across America campaign to raise funds for hunger relief.

The Chant Guy
Especially if you follow football (or soccer), you’ll know the crowd’s chant of “olé, olé, olé”. Grand Jojo, the Belgian singer and songwriter who co-wrote and first recorded it, has died at 85. The chant first made its appearance on a 1985 record in honour of Brussel-based team RSC Anderlecht, titled Anderlecht Champions (Allez, Allez, Allez). Grand Jojo, whose Flemish records appeared under the moniker Lange Jojo, was best-known for drinking-type songs.

The Bradman Principle
It’s cruel when a beloved cultural icon dies less than three weeks short of their 100th birthday. So it was with TV actress Betty White. Long before she was famous for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, White hosted her own TV variety show in the 1950s on which she would sing popular songs. In fact, she was right there in the embryonic days of TV, in 1939. With her death, a bigger chunk of entertainment history than we might have thought has departed.

And the heading to this entry? Cricket fans will know. The greatest-ever batsman was an Australian player named Don Bradman (1908-2001). In his last-ever innings, he needed to score more than one run to finish off with the landmark test average of 100 (the greatest-ever players before and after after him had averages in the 60s or 50s). In his last innings, Bradman was bowled for 1 run, meaning he ended his career with the impressive yet agonising average of 99.94. It is a bit like Betty White bowing out less than three weeks before her centenary.

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.

Grand Jojo, 85, Belgian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 1
Grand Jojo – Anderlecht Champions (Allez, Allez, Allez) (1985)

Alvin Lucier, 90, experimental composer, on Dec. 1

Melvin Parker, 77, drummer for James Brown, on Dec. 2
James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
Maceo & All The King’s Men – I Want To Sing (1972, on drums)
James Brown – Get Up Offa That Thing (1976, on drums)

Stonewall Jackson, 89, country singer, on Dec. 4
Stonewall Jackson – Don’t Be Angry (1964)

Toni Santagata, 85, Italian folk singer, on Dec. 5

Bill Staines, 74, folk singer-songwriter, on Dec. 5
Bill Staines – Crossing The Water (1993)

Buddy Merrill, 85, easy listening steel guitarist, on Dec. 5

Enzo Restuccia, 80, Italian drummer, on Dec. 5

John Miles, 72, British singer-songwriter, on Dec. 5
John Miles – Music (1976)
John Miles – No Hard Feelings (1978)

Oleg Emirov, 51, Russian rock composer and keyboardist, on Dec. 5

János Kóbor, 78, lead singer of Hungarian prog-rock band Omega, on Dec. 6
Omega – Stormy Fire (1974)

Margaret Everly, 102, singer and mother of the Everly Brothers, on Dec. 6

Greg Tate, 64, founder & guitarist of jazz-rock collective Burnt Sugar, music critic, on Dec. 7
Burnt Sugar feat Julie Brown & Micah Gaugh – Throw Some Light (2017)

DJ Scholar, former MC of British grime outfit Ruff Sqwad, on Dec. 7

Robbie Shakespeare, 68, Jamaican bassist with Sly & Robbie, Black Uhuru, producer, on Dec. 8
Black Uhuru – Push Push (1980, as member on bass and co-producer)
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (1981, on bass)
Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982, on bass and as co-producer)
Sly & Robbie – Boops (1987)

Ralph Tavares, 79, singer with soul band Tavares, on Dec. 8
Tavares – It Only Takes A Minute (1975)
Tavares – Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel (1976)

Gil Bridges, 80, wind musician and vocalist with soul band Rare Earth, on Dec. 8
Rare Earth – Born To Wander (1970, on flute and backing vocals)
Rare Earth – I Just Want To Celebrate (1971)

Barry Harris, 91, jazz pianist, composer, arranger, on Dec. 8
Barry Harris Trio – Ladybird (1975)

Slim 400, 33, rapper, shot dead on Dec. 9

David Lasley, 74, singer, songwriter, backing singer, on Dec. 9
Chaka Khan – Roll Me Through The Rushes (1978, as writer and on backing vocals)
Boz Scaggs – JoJo (1980, as co-writer and on backing vocals)
David Lasley – You Bring Me Joy (1981, also as writer)

Steve Bronski, 61, Scottish keyboardist of Bronski Beat, announced on Dec. 9
Bronski Beat – Why? (1984, also as co-writer)

Garth Dennis, 72, Jamaican reggae musician with Black Uhuru, Wailing Souls, on Dec. 9
Garth Dennis – Slow Coach  (1974)
Wailing Soul – Soul & Power (1982, as member)

Michael Nesmith, 78, Monkees guitarist, singer-songwriter, on Dec. 10
The Monkees – The Girl I Knew Somewhere (1967, also as co-writer)
The Stone Poneys – Different Drum (1968, as writer)
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band – Joanne (1970)
Michael Nesmith – Two Different Roads (1972)

Les Emmerson, 77, singer of Canadian pop group Five Man Electrical Band, on Dec. 10
Five Man Electrical Band – I’m A Stranger Here (1972)

Thomas ‘Mensi’ Mensforth, singer of English punk band Angelic Upstarts, on Dec. 10
Angelic Upstarts – I’m An Upstart (1979)
Angelic Upstarts – Lust For Glory (1982)

Vicente Fernández, 81, Mexican singer and actor, on Dec. 12
Vicente Fernandez – Volver, Volver (1972)

Toby Slater, 42, singer-songwriter of Britpop band Catch, on Dec. 13
Catch – Dive In (1997)

Blackberri, 76, singer-songwriter, on Dec. 13

Joe Simon, 85, soul singer, on Dec.13
Joe Simon – Misty Blue (1969)
Joe Simon – Drowning In The Sea Of Love (1973)
Joe Simon – It’s Crying Time In Memphis (1975)

John Nolan, 55, guitarist of Australian punk rock band Bored!, Powder Monkeys, on Dec. 13

Phil Chen, 75, Jamaican bassist, on Dec. 14
Rod Stewart – I Was Only Joking (1977, on bass)

Ken Kragen, 85, music manager, on Dec. 14
USA For Africa – We Are The World (1985, as initiator)

Ian Worang, 47, guitarist and singer of Canadian alt.rock band Uncut, on Dec. 15
Uncut – Taken In Sleep (2004)

Leonard ‘Hub’ Hubbard, 62, bassist of The Roots (1992-2007), on Dec. 15
The Roots – What They Do (1996)

Flow La Movie, 38, Puerto Rican producer, in a plane crash on Dec. 15

Wanda Young, 78, lead singer of The Marvelettes, announced on Dec. 16
The Marvelettes – Don’t Mess With Bill (1965)
The Marvelettes – Destination Anywhere (1968)

Robie Porter, 80, Australian producer, singer and lap steel guitarist, on Dec. 16
Robie Porter – Here In My Arms (1966)
Air Supply – Lost In Love (1980, as co-producer)

Terry Uttley, 70, bass guitarist of English pop band Smokie, on Dec. 16
Smokie – Don’t Play Your Rock ‘n Roll To Me (1975)
Smokie – If You Think You Know How To Love Me (1976)

Meg Brazill, 69, bassist and singer of new wave trio Los Microwaves, on Dec. 16
Los Microwaves – T.V. In My Eye (1981)

John Morgan, 80, drummer of English novelty band The Wurzels, on Dec. 17

Vicente Feliú, 74, Cuban folk singer, on Dec. 17
Vicente Feliú – No sé quedarme (1985)

Lindsay Tebbutt, drummer of Australian rock band The Choirboys, on Dec. 17
Choirboys – Run To Paradise (1987)

Enzo Gusman, 74, Maltese singer, on Dec. 18

Tam Harvey, guitarist Scottish folk-rock band The Humblebums, on Dec. 18
The Humblebums – Shoeshine Boy (1969)

Renée Martel, 74, Canadian pop and country singer, on Dec. 18
Renée Martel – Liverpool (1969)

Kangol Kid, 55, rapper with hip hop outfit UTFO, on Dec. 18
U.T.F.O.  – Roxanne, Roxanne (1984)

Drakeo the Ruler, 28, rapper, stabbed to death on Dec. 19

Billy Conway, 65, drummer of Indie rock band Morphine, on Dec. 19
Morphine – Honey White (1995)

Carlos Marín, 53, German-born Spanish baritone with Il Divo, on Dec.19
Il Divo – Wicked Game (Melanconia) (2011)

Elio Roca, 78, Argentine singer and actor, on Dec. 19

Emil Ramsauer, 103, double bassist with Swiss Eurovision band Takasa, on Dec. 20

Paul Mitchell, singer with soul band The Floaters (“Leo, and my name is Paul”), on Dec. 20
The Floaters – I Am So Glad I Took My Time (1977)

Luboš Andršt, 73, Czech rock guitarist, on Dec. 20

Anthony Williams, 90, Trinidadian steelpan musician, on Dec. 21

Nkodo Sitony, 62, Cameroonian bikutsi singer, on Dec. 21

Robin Le Mesurier, 68, British session guitarist, on Dec. 22
Rod Stewart – Every Beat Of My Heart (1986, on guitar)

Marco Mathieu, 57, bassist of Italian punk band Negazione, on Dec. 24

J.D. Crowe, 84, bluegrass banjo player and band leader of New South, on Dec. 24
J.D. Crowe & The New South – Old Home Place (1975)

Oscar López Ruiz, 83, Argentine composer, producer and guitarist, on Dec. 24

Harvey Evans, 80, musicals actor (West Side Story, Mary Poppins), on Dec. 24
Harvey Evans & Joel Grey – All Our Friends (1968)

Janice Long, 66, English disc jockey, on Dec. 25

Guenshi Ever, Beninese singer, on Dec. 25

 ‘Le Général’ Defao, 62, Congolese rhumba singer-songwriter, on Dec. 27
Defao – Amour scolaire (1992)

Raymond Fau, 85, French singer-songwriter, on Dec. 27

Pavel Chrastina, 81, bassist, singer, songwriter with Czech rock group Olympic, on Dec. 28

Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung, 71, Jamaican guitarist and arranger, on Dec. 28
Mike Chung & The Now Generation – Breezing (1972)
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (1981, on guitar; see Robbie Shakespeare)
Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982, on guitar; see Robbie Shakespeare)

Rosa Lee Brooks, soul singer, on December 28

Paolo Giordano, 59, Italian guitarist, on Dec. 29

Betty White, 99, actress, comedian, occasional singer, on Dec. 31
Betty White – Nevertheless (I’m In Love With You) (1954)
Luciana feat. Betty White – I’m Still Hot (2011)

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