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In Memoriam – March 2020

April 2nd, 2020 4 comments

March, a massacre-month, saw several music victims of Covid-19, with an Argentine jazz musician based in Spain being the first casualty, and many others coming after him. Think of them when assholes demand that vulnerable people die to keep the economy going.

The Gambler
We may hope that Kenny Rogers followed the advice of the lyrics of his 1980 hit The Gambler and folded ‘em in his sleep, having previously checked in to see what condition his condition was in. Rogers, who died peacefully at home at the age of 81, has become a byword of commercial country music, with hits such as Lucille, The Gambler, rape-revenge song Coward Of The County, the Lionel Richie-written Lady, the Bob Seger-penned duet with Sheena Easton We’ve Got Tonight, the Dolly Parton duet Islands In The Stream (which the Bee Gees had initially written with Marvin Gaye in mind), and so on.

Rogers started out in 1958 as a fresh-voiced country recording artist, as Kenneth Rogers, before joining a jazz trio. This then led to his membership of the folk outfit New Christy Minstrel Singers, whose members broke away with Kenny to form The New Edition. That group straddled rock and country, having hits with rock numbers and with country covers, such as Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town.

Rogers left The New Edition in 1976 to reboot his career as a country crooner, complete with dad beard and dad glasses, imparting wisdoms about the nature of humankind, and gurning cheerfully in the We Are The World video (he gets to sing the last line of the first verse, “the greatest gift at all”, with Paul Simon, before he briefly takes centrestage with the next line, “We can’t go on pretending day by day”). And Rogers became a flogger of fried chicken, being immortalised in an episode of Seinfeld.

The Jazz Legend
Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner made his name with John Coltrane, on classics such as My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. While still with Coltrane, Tyner released his own albums, playing more accessible music than that created by the innovator Coltrane. An innovator himself, Tyner continued to release solo albums for many years after parting with Coltrane in late 1965, after five years of close collaboration. His studio final album was released in 2008. He also worked as a sideman with acts like George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, Wayne Shorter.

The Mokassa Man
Perhaps the most prominent victim of the coronavirus this month was Cameroonian saxophone legend Manu Dibango, who passed away at 86. Dibango’s big hit was Soul Mokassa, an early 1970s track that has been widely sampled. Michael Jackson copied the rhythmic vocals of “ma-ma-se, ma-ma-sa, ma-ma-ko-sa” for Wanna Be Startin’ Something, and Rihanna for 2007’s Don’t Stop The Music. But Jackson had used it without Dibango’s permission, and when Rihanna received permission to use the sample from the Jackson song, Dibango sued both. Jackson admitted his plagiarism and settled out of court. Rihanna’s gang got out of paying Dibango due to a legal quirk.

Other elements of Soul Mokassa have been sampled liberally. These include Will Smith’s Getting Jiggy With It, Jay-Z’s Face-Off, Kanye West’s Lost In The World, Mama Say by The Bloodhound Gang, Rhythm (Devoted To The Art Of Moving Butts) by A Tribe Called Quest, and many others.

The First Lady Of Folk
Known as Britain’s “First Lady of Folk” Julie Felix was born in the US and came to the UK in 1964, waving mid-Atlantic at the British invasion going the other way. Felix did little to trouble the charts — she had a #19 and a #22 hit in 1970 — and still she was the first folk singer to sell out the Royal Albert Hall. In 1966 she was the resident singer on David Frosts’ TV programme, The Frost Report, and between 1967 and 1970 hosted her own TV show. Felix kept recording until 2018, when she was 79.

The German-US Friend
The staid German music scene was revolutionised in the early 1980s by the emergence of the iconoclastic Neue Deutsche Welle — German new wave — which, at least initially, brought experimental sounds and forthright and often witty lyrics about social issues and sex into the mainstream. Some were more commercial than others, but few were as influential as Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, more commonly known as DAF, who were also influential in the growth of techno. Personally, I was put off by their flirtations with fascist imagery, which gave rise to suspicions that they were Nazi sympathisers (they were not). Half of DAF died on March with Spanish-born member Gabi Delgado-López.

The Teen Pop Writer
Songwriter Bill Martin may not be remembered as a contributor to the highest points of British pop culture with the songs he co-wrote with Phil Coulter, but for a people of a couple of generations in the UK an Europe, he helped write the soundtrack of their youth. And for the US, well, one of his songs inspired the Ramones to come up with the “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” chant.

In the 1960s, Martin and Coulter wrote Eurovision classics Puppet On A String for Sandie Shaw and Cliff Richard’s Congratulation, both #1 hits. In 1970 they had a third chart-topper with the England World Cup song Back Home (which the team was after the quarter-final, possibly to the satisfaction of the Scotsman Martin and the Irishman Coulter). A fourth #1 came in 1976, with Slik’s Forever And Ever. They also had big hits with Kenny: The Bump, Fancy Pants and Julie Ann.

In the early 1970s, they took the Bay City Rollers under their wings, and wrote a string of hits for them, including Summerlove Sensation, All Of Me Loves All Of You, and Saturday Night (which featured in The Originals: 1970s). It became a hit in the US, and its spelling chant inspired the Ramones to invent their own.

The Reggae Legend
With the death at 75 of Bob Andy (born Keith Anderson), reggae has lost one of its most influential songwriters and singers. A co-founder of The Paragons (whose The Tide Is High was, however, written by member John Holt), Andy hit #5 in the UK charts in 1970 duetting with Marcia Griffiths, as Bob & Marcia, with their version of Nina Simone’s Young Gifted And Black. In 1978 he left the music industry, having been ripped off one time to many, and became a dance sand actor. Andy returned to music in the 1990s.

The Rock Producer
Sometimes one thing leads to another. In the early 1970s, producer and engineer Keith Olsen, former member of 1960s garage rock band The Music Machine, discovered a couple of musicians named Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. He got them a record deal, produced and engineered their album, even employed Stevie as his housekeeper, and introduced them to Mick Fleetwood. From that meeting, Fleetwood Mac took the turn towards superstardom. Olsen also produced and engineered the band’s eponymous 1975 album (including the gorgeous Landslide).

He also produced acts like the Grateful Dead, Foreigner (including Hot Blooded), Santana, Pat Benatar (including Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Fire And Ice and Treat Me Right), The Babys, Sammy Hagar, Rick Springfield (including Jessie’s Girl), Heart, Kim Carnes, Joe Walsh, Madonna, Saga, Starship, REO Speedwagon, Ozzy Osborne, Whitesnake (including 1987’s Here I Go Again and Is This Love), Scorpions (including Wind Of Change), Eddie Money and many more.

The Original Rock ‘n’ Roll Lover
Brooklyn-born Alan Merrill, another Covid-19 victim (this one in the US), had his greatest successes in Japan and the UK. In Japan in the 1960s, he was a member of The Lead, the first Western act to have a hit in Japanese. He continued to be a solo star in Japan until, tired of being a teen star, he moved to Britain in the early ‘70s where he founded Arrows. With that band, he had a breakout hit with Touch Too Much in 1974. After that, diminishing returns set in, even after DJs flipped their 1975 single Broken Down Heart to give some airplay to a Merrill-written track called I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (it would later, of course, become a mega-hit for Joan Jett). Still, Arrows got a TV show, succeeding the Bay City Rollers, which proved very popular — but due to a management dispute, face-spiting label RAK refused to release any Arrows records. Merrill subsequently recorded solo and backing acts like Meat Loaf, dabbled in the Japanese market, and presented a TV show.

The Duelling Banjo Man
Eric Weissberg was a popular session man who could play various instruments when he scored a surprise hit in 1972 with Dueling Banjos from the film Deliverance (the other banjo duelist, Steve Mandell, was not credited. He died two years ago, on March 14, 2018). The problem was: Dueling Banjos ripped off Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith’s 1954 instrumental Feudin’ Banjos (featured last week on the country edition of The Originals) to such an extent that Smith sued and won, getting his due share from the royalties of a track that spent four weeks at #2 in 1973 (stymied by Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly With His Song; another cover).

As a sideman, Weissberg played for acts such as Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, The Clancy Brothers, Anita Carter, Doc Watson, Ian & Sylvia, Tim Rose, Herbie Mann, Esther Philips, Barbra Streisand, Melanie, Billy Joel, Frankie Valli, Bob Dylan, Loudon Wainwright III, John Denver (including Rocky Mountain High), Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Blood Sweat & Tears, Elkie Brooks (on Pearl’s A Singer), Chaka Khan, Talking Heads, Art Garfunkel, Prefab Sprout, and others.

 

Peter Wieland, 89, (East-)German singer and actor, on March 1

Jan Vyčítal, 77, Czech country singer-songwriter, on March 1

Susan Weinert, 54, German jazz-fusion guitarist, on March 2
Susan Weinert Band – He Knows (1994)

Alf Cranner, 83, Norwegian folk singer, on March 3

Barbara Martin, 76, original singer with The Supremes (1960-62), on March 4
The Supremes – (He’s) Seventeen (1962, on shared lead with Diana Ross)

Steve Weber, 76, folk guitarist (Holy Modal Rounders, The Fugs), on February 7 (announced March 4)

McCoy Tyner, 81, jazz pianist, on March 6
John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman – My One And Only Love (1963, on piano)
McCoy Tyner – Autumn Leaves (1964)
McCoy Tyner – Beyond The Sun (1976)
McCoy Tyner feat. Phyllis Hyman – Love Surrounds Us Everywhere (1982)

Charlie Baty, 66, blues guitarist, on March 6
Little Charlie and The Nightcats – The Booty Song (1988)

Laura Smith, 67, Canadian folk singer-songwriter, on March 7
Laura Smith – Shade Of Your Love (1994)

Jim Owen, 78, country singer-songwriter, on March 7
Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn – Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man (1973, as co-writer)

Biff Adam, 83, drummer of Merle Haggard’s Strangers, on March 7
The Strangers – Biff Bam Boom (1970)
Merle Haggard – Pretty When It’s New (2010, on drums)

Eric Taylor, 70, folk singer-songwriter, on March 8
Eric Taylor – The Great Divide (2005)

Keith Olsen, 74, producer, sound engineer and musician, on March 9
The Music Machine – Talk Talk (1966, as member)
Buckingham Nicks – Crying In The Night (1973, as producer & engineer)
Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot (1980)

Marcelo Peralta, 59, Spain-based Argentine multi-instrumentalist, of Covid-19 on March 10

Danny Ray Thompson, 73, jazz saxophonist (Sun Ra), on March 12
Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity Arkestra – Day By Day (1960s, released 1970)

Don Burrows, 91, Australian jazz musician, on March 12

Richenel, 62, Dutch disco singer, on March 13
Richenel – Dance Around The World (1986)

Genesis P-Orridge, 70, English musician (Throbbing Gristle) and artist, on March 14
Throbbing Gristle – United (1978)

John Philip Baptiste, 94, singer and songwriter, on his birthday on March 14
Phil Phillips with The Twilights – Sea Of Love (1959, also as writer)

Sergio Bassi, 69, Italian folk singer-songwriter, of Covid-19 on March 16

Jason Rainey, 53, guitarist of trash metal band Sacred Reich, on March 16

John Stannard, singer-guitarist of English folk group Tudor Lodge, March 18
Tudor Lodge – Help Me Find Myself (1971)

Wray Downes, 89, Canadian jazz pianist, on March 18

Aurlus Mabélé, 66, Congolese soukous singer and composer, of Covid-19 on March 19
Aurlus Mabélé – Malade de Toi (1989)

Black N Mild, 44, hip-hop deejay, COVID-19 on March 19

Kenny Rogers, 81, country and songwriter, on March 20
Kenneth Rogers – That Crazy Feeling (1958)
The First Edition – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) (1968)
Kenny Rogers – The Gambler (1980)
Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton – We’ve Got Tonight (1982)

Gino Volpe, 77, Italian singer-songwriter, on March 20

Jerry Slick, 80, drummer of rock band The Great Society, on March 20
Great Society – Someone To Love (1965)

Ray Mantilla, 85, jazz percussionist, on March 21
Ray Mantilla – Comin’ Home Baby (1984, also played on Herbie Mann’s version)

Mike Longo, 83, jazz pianist and composer, of Covid-19 on March 22
Mike Longo – Night Rider (1972)

Eric Weissberg, 80, banjo, bass and guitar player, on March 22
John Denver – Rocky Mountain High (1972, on steel guitar)
Eric Weissberg – Dueling Banjos (1972, on banjo)
Billy Joel – Travelin’ Prayer (1973, on banjo)
Talking Heads – Totally Nude (1988, on pedal steel guitar)

Julie Felix, 81, US-born British folk singer, on March 22
Julie Felix – Dirty Old Town (1968)
Julie Felix – Windy Morning (1970)

Peter Stapleton, 65, drummer of New Zealand rock band The Terminals, on March 22

Gabi Delgado-López, 61, singer of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, on March 22
DAF – Der Mussolini (1981)

Tres Warren, 41, singer-guitarist of psych-rock duo Psychic Ills, on March 23
Psychic Ills feat. Hope Sandoval – I Don’t Mind (2016)

Nashom Wooden, 50, DJ, singer, drag performer and actor, on March 23
The Ones – Flawless (2001)

Apple Gabriel, 67, member of Jamaican reggae trio Israel Vibration, on March 23
Israel Vibration – The Same Song (1978)

Manu Dibango, 86, Cameroonian saxophonist, of Covid-19 on March 24
Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa (1972)
Manu Dibango – African Battle (1973)
Manu Dibango – Big Blow (1976)

Joe Amoruso, 60, Italian pianist and keyboardist, on March 24
Andrea Bocelli – E Chiove (1996, on keyboard)

Bill Rieflin, 59, rock drummer (REM, King Crimson), on March 24
Revolting Cocks – Big Sexy Land (1986, on drums)
Nine Inch Nails – Le Mer (1999)

Detto Mariano, 82, Italian musician and composer, of Covid-19 on March 25

Liesbeth List, 78, Dutch singer and actress, on March 25
Liesbeth List & Charles Aznavour – Don’t Say A Word (1976)

Bill Martin, 81, Scottish songwriter, on March 26
Sandie Shaw – Puppet On A String (1967)
Elvis Presley – My Boy (1974)
Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night (1974)
Kenny – The Bump (1974)

Danny Mihm, founding drummer of the Flamin’ Groovies, on March 26
Flamin’ Groovies – Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu (1969)

Olle Holmquist, 83, Swedish trombonist, of Covid-19 on March 26

Bob Andy, 75, Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, co-founder of The Paragons, on March 27
The Paragons – Wear You To The Ball (1967)
Bob & Marcia – Young, Gifted & Black (1970)
Bob Andy – Fire Burning (1974)

Delroy Washington, 67, Jamaican-born reggae singer, on March 27
Delroy Washington Band – Magic (1980)

Mirna Doris, 79, Italian singer, on March 27

Jan Howard, 91, country singer and songwriter, ex-wife of Harlan, on March 28
Jan Howard – The One You Slip Around With (1959)

Lou L.A. Kouvaris, 66, guitarist with rock group Riot (1975-78), of Covid-19 on March 28
Riot – Rock City (1977)

Alan Merrill, 69, singer of Arrows, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, of Covid-19 on March 29
Alan Merrill – Namida (1969)
Arrows – Touch Too Much (1974)
Arrows – I Love Rock ‘n Roll (1975)
Alan Merrill – Hard Hearted Woman (1985)

Joe Diffie, 61, country singer-songwriter, on March 29
Joe Diffie – If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets) (1991)

Riachão, 98, Brazilian samba composer and singer, on March 30

Louise Ebrel, 87, French folk-singer, on March 30

Wallace Roney, 59, jazz trumpeter, of Covid-19 on March 31
Wallace Roney – Alone Together (1999)

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In Memoriam – February 2020

March 4th, 2020 3 comments

When a singing star dies in a prison cell as a guest of his dictatorial regime, you know it has been the kind of shitty month when music and politics intersect. The African state of Rwanda might have a respectable looking president and one of Africa’s economic success stories, but opponents of the regime die in its prison cells…

I was also sad to learn of the death on March 2 at 93 of James Lipton, presenter (and so much more) of Inside The Actors Studio. In his honour, I shall do the 10 Questions he asked of his guests in the comments section.

The National Treasure
Few musicians receive a state funeral with flags flying at half-mast, but that is the way South Africa’s government honoured Joseph Shabalala, the founder and leader of the (mostly) a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo after he died at the age of 78. His group came to worldwide notice when they used their distinctive harmonies to back Paul Simon on his (controversial) Graceland album and tour. They went on to win five Grammys and were nominated for countless more. Amid a punishing touring schedule, they released 50 albums since their hit debut in 1973.

The Last Chordette
The final surviving Chordette has lollipopped. Lynn Evans, who appeared on all the Cadence recordings — that is, the glory days of the vocal group which soundtracks the 1950s so well — reached the ripe age of 95 before Mr Sandman took her to join her erstwhile companions, the first of whom to die was Alice Buschmann in 1981.

The Guitar Cop
To funk aficionados, Harold Beane might be best-known for his guitar work on Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and other tracks. He also wrote a few tracks for the collective, including the title track of the America Eats Its Young album. He also recorded and/or toured with the likes of Isaac Hayes (including the superb fuzz guitar solo on Walk On By), William Bell, Little Richard, Eddie Floyd, Otis Redding, Al Green and others. A trained policeman, Beane played a prank on his old pal George Clinton and his funky friends in Atlanta in 1996. Donning his police uniform, he went to the hotel where Clinton and entourage stayed. “I knocked on the door and put my finger over the peephole. They opened the door and all they saw was the police uniform and the badge… Man, I heard the toilet flushing!” I’m sure there was abounding mirth.

The Mazzy Star
With his other-worldy guitar scoring the haunting voice of Hope Sandoval on Mazzy Star’s delicate, almost dreamlike 1990s songs, David Roback (possibly unintentionally) influenced many acts that were to come. A product of LA’s post-punk Paisley Underground scene, Roback dabbled in psychedelic throwbacks, first with his band Rain Parade and Opal, and then to some commercial and a lot of critical effect with Mazzy Star.

The Drumming Sidekick
Few backing musicians get honoured to be the referenced in the title of a song of their boss. But Willie Nelson honoured his long-time drummer Paul English in his song Me And Paul, which recounts their adventures together (and also provided the title of Nelson’s 1985 LP). English first drummed for Willie in 1955 and joined the Willie Nelson Family permanently in 1966. And when he wasn’t drumming, English would be the heavy who’d extract overdue payments from recalcitrant club owners.

The Aceed Pioneer
With the passing at 56 of Andrew Weatherall, one of the pioneers of acid house has joined the great DJ booth in the sky. His work of mixing on the decks in clubs led to his production of Primal Scream’s groundbreaking Screamdelica album in 1991, which fused rock, indie and house music. Weatherall went to remix or produce for acts like New Order, Happy Mondays, Björk, Siouxsie Sioux and My Bloody Valentine.

Gang of Three
Coming in at the end of punk, British band Gang of Four were at the vanguard of the post-punk movement, with Andy Gill on the band’s distinctive guitar. As frank commentators on social ills, the group had a loyal fanbase but never broke in a big way as the BBC banned some of their records, and refused to playlist most of the rest. Their influence was massive, however, with acts like R.E.M, Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers citing the Gang of Four as major influences.

Star’s Suspicious Death
In Rwanda, Catholic gospel singer Kizitio Mihigo was a music star and a much-loved peace activist — and he met his end at 38 in a police cell, as a political opponent the president. Police say he died by suicide (the lazy cousin of pneumonia and slipping on a bar of soap). Orphaned in the genocide against Tutsis in 1994, Mihigo was a prominent activist for reconciliation, working for peace on his TV show, through his peace foundation, and through his music. As his music became increasingly political, he incurred the displeasure of Africa’s slimmest and least threatening-looking dictator, Paul Kagame.

One song in particular, titled IgisobanuroCy’urupfu, provided the straw that broke the tyrant’s back. It criticised his fellow Tutsi Kagame’s non-conciliatory policy of dealing with the legacy of the genocide. In it, Mihigo sings: “Even though genocide orphaned me, but let it not make me lose empathy for others. Their lives, too, were brutally taken. But that did not qualify as genocide.”

The short version given by Mihigo’s supporters is that Mihigo was set up to be tried for conspiracy against the president. Forced to plead guilty, he was convicted (let’s just say, Amnesty International was not impressed by the method by which Mihigo’s confession was extracted). In prison, he brought peace between rival ethnic groups there.  He was pardoned in 2018, and rearrested on 14 February for allegedly trying to illegally cross the border to Burundi, apparently after his life was threatened. Three days later he died in Kagame’s jail. As mentioned above, police say it was by suicide; Mihigo’s supporters say he was tortured to death.

 

Harold Beane, 73, funk/soul guitarist and songwriter, on Feb. 1
Mitty Collier – Share What You Got (1969, as producer)
Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (1969, on guitar)
Funkadelic – America Eats Its Young (1972, on guitar and as writer)

Andy Gill, 64, guitarist of English rock band Gang of Four, producer, on Feb. 1
Gang Of Four – At Home He’s A Tourist (1979)
Gang Of Four – To Hell With Poverty (1981)

Kofi B, Ghanaian musician, on Feb. 2

Ivan Král, 71, Czech-born musician and songwriter, on Feb. 2
Patti Smith Group – Dancing Barefoot (1979, as co-writer)
Ivan Kral – Winner Takes All (1995)

Andrew Brough, 56, member of New Zealand band Straitjacket Fits, on Feb. 4
Straitjacket Fits – Hail (1988)

Buddy Cage, 73, pedal steel guitarist, on Feb. 4
New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Loud Loud Music (1972)
Bob Dylan – Meet Me In The Morning (1975, on steel guitar)

Ola Magnell, 74, Swedish pop singer and guitarist, on Feb. 6

Lynn Evans, 95, singer with vocal group The Chordettes, on Feb. 6
The Chordettes – Mr. Sandman (1954)
The Chordettes – Lollipop (1958)

Diego Farias, 27, guitarist of metal band Volumes, on Feb. 6

Délizia (Adamo), 67, Belgian singer, on Feb. 9
Délizia – Le proces de l’amour (1976)

Lyle Mays, 66, pianist and composer with the Pat Metheny Group, on Feb. 10
David Bowie / Pat Metheny Group – This Is Not America (1985)
Pat Metheny Group – Slip Away (1989)

Joseph Shabalala, 78, leader of South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on Feb. 11
Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain (1987)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo  – Township Jive (1990)
Ben Harper & Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Picture Of Jesus (2003)

Paul English, 87, country drummer with Willie Nelson, on Feb. 12
Johnny Bush – You Ought To Hear Me Cry (1967, as producer)
Willie Nelson – Shotgun Willie (1973, on drums)
Willie Nelson – Me And Paul (1985, on drums and as song subject)

Buzzy Linhart, 76, folk-rock singer and songwriter, on Feb. 13
Buzzy Linhart- Friends (1970, also as co-writer)
Richie Havens – Missing Train (1970, on vibraphone)

Jacob Thiele, 40, keyboardist of indie-rock band The Faint, on Feb. 13
The Faint – Desperate Guys (2004)

Prince Kudakwashe Musarurwa, 31, Zimbabwean singer-songwriter, on Feb. 15

Ron Thompson, 66, blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, on Feb. 15
Ron Thompson & His Resistors – 13 Women (1987)

Cavan Grogan, 70, Welsh rock and roll singer, on Feb. 15

Pearl Carr, 98, English singer, on Feb. 16
Teddy Johnson & Pearl Carr – How Wonderful To Know (1961)

Clyde Davenport, 98, old-time fiddler and banjo player, on Feb. 16

Andrew Weatherall, 56, English DJ, producer and musician, on Feb. 17
Happy Mondays – Rave On (Club Mix) (1989, as remixer)
Primal Scream – Movin’ On Up (1991, as producer)

KizitoMihigo, 38, Rwandan gospel singer, political activist, on Feb. 17
KizitoMihigo – A Dieu
KizitoMihigo – IgisobanuroCy’urupfu (2014)

Lindsey Lagestee, 25, country singer, in car crash on Feb. 17

Henry Gray, 95, blues pianist and singer, on Feb. 17
Little Henry Gray – Matchbox Blues (1953)
Howlin’ Wolf – Little Red Rooster (1961, on piano)

Ja’Net DuBois, 74, actress and singer, on Feb. 17
Ja’net DuBois & Oren Waters – Movin’ On Up (Theme of ‘The Jeffersons’) (1975)
Ja’net DuBois – Queen Of The Highway (1980)

Pop Smoke, 20, rapper, shot on Feb. 19

Hector, 73, French singer, on Feb. 19
Hector – La Femme De Ma Vie (1964)

Bob Cobert, 95, Film and TV composer, on Feb. 19
Bob Cobert – ‘War And Remembrance’ Main Title (1988, as composer)

Jon Christensen, 79, Norwegian jazz percussionist, on Feb. 20

Zoe Gail, 100, South African-born singer and actress, on Feb. 20

John S. Corcoran, 72, American folk singer and actor, on Feb. 21

Jahn Teigen, 70, singer of Norwegian prog group Popol Ace, on Feb. 24
Popol Ace – Today Another Day (1976)

David Roback, 61, songwriter, guitarist and founder of Mazzy Star, on Feb. 25
Rain Parade – No Easy Way Down (1984, on guitar & as writer)
Mazzy Star – Halah (1991, also as writer, co-producer)
Mazzy Star – Fade Into You (1993, also as writer, producer)

Claude Flagel, 87, French musician and producer, on Feb. 25

Nick Apollo Forte, 81, musician and actor, on Feb. 26

Simon Posthuma, 81, Dutch artist, fashion designer and musician as Seemon & Marijke, on Feb. 28
Seemon & Marijke – I Saw You (1971)

Mike Somerville, 68, guitarist of rock band Head East and songwriter, on Feb. 29
Head East – Never Been Any Reason (1975, also as writer)

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In Memoriam – January 2020

February 4th, 2020 2 comments

This month we lost two hugely influential musicians, but also observe the kindest death one could ask for.

The Doorbreaker
In the late 1950s, folk trio The Kingston Singers kicked open the doors for the folk scene (along with the likes of Burl Ives and Pete Seeger’s Weavers), paving the way for the likes of Odetta and later Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and so on to enter the mainstream. They also inspired the Beach Boys, who would even dress like the Kingston Trio. And all that, in turn, had huge influence on the trajectory of popular music. This month we lost the last surviving member of the original trio, Bob Shane, a few days short of his 85th birthday. Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds died in 1991 and 2008 respectively.

A bonus for fans of The Originals is the featured first version of Honey, recorded by Bob Shane before Bobby Goldsboro had a hit with it, and the Kingston Trio version of Sloop John B, which a few years later the Beach Boys covered. Another Kingston Trio original features in an Originals instalment currently in the works.

The Drumming Great
I must confess, at the risk of inviting passionate hate-mail, that Rush has never been my jam, mainly due to the lead singer’s voice, so my awareness of the genius of drummer Neil Peart was acquired through his reputation. If the likes of Dave Grohl and Stewart Copeland were admirers, and countless other rock drummers drew influence from the man, then you needn’t be a Rush fan to acknowledge that genius. The obituaries have revealed things that were even more interesting than Peart’s drumming exploits. Among them is the story, related in is 1996 book, of how in 1988 he went on a bicycle trip through Cameroon, and ending up giving a hand-drumming performance that drew an audience of a whole village.

The Foot Man
Best-known for his million-selling novelty dance number Barefootin’ (great video here), Robert Parker had a previous career as a saxophonist, playing on tracks like Professor Longhair’s 1949 hit Mardi Gras In New Orleans, and backing the likes of Fats Domino, Eark King, Eddie Bo, Joe Tex, Irma Thomas and Huey “Piano” Smith. He had a 1959 hit with the instrumental All Nite Long, on which he collaborated with Dr John, and then turned to vocals with songs, mostly about dance styles, that suggest a podiatric preoccupation with tracks like Happy Feet, Barefootin’, Tip Toeing…

The Country Rock Pioneer
Widely regarded as a pioneer in the rise of country rock, the multi-instrumentalist Chris Darrow might be best remembered for his membership of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band around the time the band appeared in Clint Eastwood’s film Paint Your Wagon. Before that he was a member of the genre-bending band Kaleidoscope; after he left the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, he founded The Corvettes, who’d become Linda Ronstadt’s backing band. In between, he also worked a session musician, playing bass for Leonard Cohen and violin for James Taylor, among other gigs. And between 1972 and 2006, he released ten solo albums.

The Caballero
As a guitarist with the popular Mexican trio Los Tres Caballeros, Chamín Correa was a million-seller across Latin America. In his long career, he released around 150 records and worked with some of the biggest names in Latin music and beyond, including jazz maestro Dave Brubeck and more recently Gloria Estefan, as a musician or as a producer/arranger. The classically-trained guitarist also designed his own line of guitars.

A Good Death
As we know from this series, there are many ways to go. This month the brain cancer that killed Neil Peart was particularly nasty. But folk singer-songwriter David Olney possibly had the nicest death featured in this decade-old series yet. The 71-year-old was performing the third song of his set at a music festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, when he stopped, said “I’m sorry” to the audience, shut his eyes, and dropped his chin to the chest. It was a heart-attack that killed him, but ever so gently, doing what he loved most, and departing politely with respect for is audience. Musician Scott Miller, who was on stage with Olney, reported: “He never dropped his guitar or fell off his stool. It was as easy and gentle as he was.”

 

Lexii Alijai, 21, hip hop artist, on Jan. 1
Lexii Alijai – All On Me (2015)

Tommy Hancock, 90, Western swing musician, on Jan. 1
Tommy Hancock – Tacos For Two (1966)

Marty Grebb, 74, keyboardist, saxophonist, guitarist, arranger, on Jan. 2
The Buckinghams – C’mon Home (1968, as member, lead singer, writer)
Fabulous Rhinestones – What A Wonderful Thing We Have (1972, as writer, keyboardist)

Bo Winberg, 80, guitarist of Swedish instrumentalist band The Spotnicks, on Jan. 3
The Spotnicks – Orange Blossom Special (1962)

Martin Griffin, drummer with English rock bands Hawkwind, Hawklords, on Jan. 5
Hawkwind – Rocky Paths (1982)

Pat Collins, Irish rock and jazz fiddler, on Jan. 7

Neil Peart, 67, drummer of Rush, on Jan. 7
Rush – The Spirit Of Radio (1980, also as co-writer)
Rush – Tom Sawyer (1981, also as co-writer)

Edd Byrnes, 87, actor (Vince Fontana in Grease) and recording artist, on Jan. 8
Edd Byrnes & Connie Stevens – Kookie, Kookie Lend Me Your Comb (1959)

5th Ward Weebie, 42, rapper, on Jan. 9

Bobby Comstock, 78, pop singer, on Jan. 9
Bobby Comstock – I Want To Do It (1962)

Wolfgang Dauner, 84, German jazz fusion pianist, on Jan. 10

Marc Morgan, 57, Belgian singer-songwriter, on Jan. 10
Marc Morgan – Notre Mystère nos Retrouvailles (1993)

Tom Alexander, 85, half of Scottish folk duo Alexander Brothers, on Jan. 10

Alana Filippi, 59, French singer-songwriter., on Jan. 11
Alana Filippi – Exactement au Milieu (1993)

Hylda Sims, 87, English folk musician, on Jan. 12
City Ramblers Skiffle Group – Mama Don’t Allow (1957, as member)

Chamín Correa, 90, Mexican guitarist with Los Tres Caballeros, producer, on Jan. 14
Los Tres Caballeros – La Barca (1957)

Steve Martin Caro, 71, singer of The Left Banke, on Jan. 14
The Left Banke – Desiree (1968)
The Left Banke – In The Morning Light (1968)

Barry Mayger, 73, bassist of British pop group Chicory Tip, on Jan. 14
Chicory Tip – Son Of My Father (1972)

Chris Darrow, 75, country rock musician and songwriter, on Jan. 15
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Mournin’ Blues (1968, as member)
James Taylor – Sweet Baby James (1970, on violin)
Chris Darrow – Alligator Man (1972)

Claudio Roditi, 73, Brazilian-born jazz trumpeter, on Jan. 17
Claudio Roditi – Vida Nova (2010)

David Olney, 71, singer-songwriter, on Jan. 18
Dave Olney and The X Rays – Going Going Gone (1984)
Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris – 1917 (1999, as writer)
Kim Richey – Love Is (2013, as co-writer)

Steve Fataar, 76, guitarist of South African pop group The Flames, on Jan. 18
The Flames – For Your Precious Love (1968)
Una Valli with The Flames – Satisfaction (1968)

Dennis Garcia, 69, bassist of Filipino rock band Hotdog, on Jan. 18

Robert Parker, 89, R&B singer and saxophonist, on Jan. 19
Professor Longhair – Mardi Gras In New Orleans (1949, on saxophone)
Robert Parker – All Nite Long (Part 1) (1959)
Robert Parker – Barefootin’ (1966)
Robert Parker – Happy Feet (1966)

Jimmy Heath, 93, jazz saxophonist, on Jan. 19
Jimmy Heath – Smilin’ Billy (1973)
Heath Brothers – (There’s) A Time And A Place (1979)

Guy Thomas, 85, Belgian-born French songwriter, on Jan. 19

Norman Amadio, 91, Canadian jazz pianist and bandleader, on Jan. 21

Meritxell Negre, 48, Spanish singer (Peaches #6 in Peaches & Herb), on Jan. 21
Peaches & Herb – Girl You Got A Home (2009)

Sean Reinert, 48, death metal drummer, on Jan. 24

Joe Payne, 35, death metal bassist and guitarist, on Jan. 24

Narciso Parigi, 92, Italian singer and actor, on Jan 25
Narciso Parigi – Firenze sogna (1973)

Bob Gullotti, 70, free jazz drummer with Surrender to the Air, on Jan 25

Antonia Apodaca, 96, Mexican music musician and songwriter, on Jan. 25

Bob Shane, 85, singer-guitarist with folk group The Kingston Trio, on Jan. 26
Kingston Trio – Tom Dooley (1958)
Kingston Trio – Sloop John B (1958)
Kingston Trio – Let’s Get Together (1964)
Bob Shane – Honey (I Miss You) (1968)

Michou, 88, French cabaret singer, on Jan. 26

Alberto Naranjo, 78, Venezuelan musician, on Jan. 27

Reed Mullin, 53, heavy metal drummer, on Jan. 27

Toni (Tonni) Smith, American R&B singer, on Jan. 28
Tom Browne – Funkin’ For Jamaica (1980, on lead vocals & as co-writer)
Toni Smith – (Oo) I Like The Way It Feels (1983)

Bob Nave, 75, keyboardist of The Lemon Pipers, on Jan. 28
Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine (1968)
Lemon Pipers – Love Beads & Meditation (1968)

Lucien Barbarin, 63, New Orleans jazz trombonist, on Jan. 30
Lucien Barbarin & Henri Chaix Trio – Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans (1988)

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In Memoriam – December 2019

January 2nd, 2020 3 comments

As it was last year, a relatively benign year ended with rich harvest for The Reaper. Here’s hoping 2020 won’t be a repeat of the ghastly year 2016, when music lost so many big names, foreshadowing the disaster that would befall the world in November that year.

The Joyrider
Not too long ago I happened to hear a Roxette song on the radio. It was The Look. I listened with interest, seeing whether I’d warm to it in ways I simply could not 30 years ago. My mind was open, given the appreciation even discerning pop fans have been directing at the Swedish twosome. Alas, I still didn’t warm to it. And I was disappointed by that, because I can also see that Roxette’s pop music was, objectively, well-crafted exponents of the art. And singer Marie Fredriksson seemed a good sort, and certainly had the kind of pop charisma I admire. And so I shall remember her fondly for being a fine pop star whose music brought joy to a lot of people. And I shall try again to like her music. Maybe not with The Look, though.

 

The Moogie
In October, The Originals 1970s – Vol. 2 mix included the first version of Popcorn, a 1972 mega hit for Hot Butter, by Gershon Kingsley. In the linernotes, I mentioned that at 97 Kingsley is still with us. He no longer is. The son of a Jewish father and Catholic mother fled his native Germany just before the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, first joining a kibbutz in Palestine before emigrating to the US. There he wrote classical music and scores for TV and movies, arranged and conducted Broadway musicals, and pioneered electronic music, particularly through the Moog synth. As half of the electronic music duo Perrey and Kingsley and on his own, he wrote avant garde music (including Popcorn).

 

The Writer
Do you remember the 21st night of September? Next year, you can on that day remember Allee Willis, who wrote that line. Willis, who has died at 72, had her first hit as a lyricist with that great Earth, Wind & Fire song, and followed it up with Boogie Wonderland (which featured on last week’s Any Major Disco Vol. 8 – Party Like It’s 1979 mix), and most of the group’s I Am album, including In The Stone, Star, Let Your Feelings Show, and Wait. She also co-wrote the lyrics for The Pointer Sisters’ Neutron Dance, Patti LaBelle’s Stir It Up (for which she got a Grammy), and What Have I Done To Deserve This, the 1987 hit duet by the Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield, and contributed to the Friends theme, I’ll Be There For You.

Having trained as a journalist and working as a copywriter for Columbia Records, Willis tried her luck as a singer in 1974 with an LP. It had good tunes (it’s up on YouTube) but Willis did not have the voice of a superstar. Realising that the singing game was not for her, she became a songwriter, penning lyrics for the likes of Bonnie Raitt before she became involved with Earth, Wind & Fire. Her other big claim to fame was to co-write the award-winning musical The Color Purple. A woman of humour who was grounded in reality, she told the New York Times in 2018: “I, very thankfully, have a few songs that will not go away — but they’re schlepping along 900 others.” Here she is talking about co-writing September.

 

The Rutle
Known as the “seventh” member of Monty Python, Neil Innes delighted Beatles members by portraying Ron Nasty (the John Lennon parody) in the “Prefab Four” spoof band The Rutles. His association with The Beatles went back to the 1960s, when his song Death Cab For Cutie (later the name of an US indie band) featured in the TV film Magical Mystery Tour. A Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band song, it was written as an Elvis parody, with co-writer Vivian Stanshall on vocals. McCartney co-produced the band under the moniker Apollo C. Vermouth. With Monty Python he was one of only two non-members ever credited. For the Monty Python And The Holy Grail film, he wrote the songs Brave Sir Robin and Knights Of The Round Tables. And on Always Look On The Bright Side of Life in The Life Of Brian, he contributed the whistling. In the 1990s, third-rate Beatles tribute band Oasis had to give Innes a co-writing credit after the Gallagher lads ripped off his aptly-titled How Sweet To Be An Idiot for their song Whatever.

The Vibes Man
Listen to the theme of The Simpsons. Can you hear the xylophone? That’s Emil Richards. The percussionist and vibraphonist also provided finger snaps for the theme for The Addams Family. He contributed to scores of films like Doctor Zhivago, The Color Purple, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Gorillas In The Mist, and the TV series Roots. He played on many of the Phil Spector produced girl band songs, backed people like Frank Sinatra, George Harrison, Frank Zappa, Peggy Lee and Stan Kenton in the studio and on stage, collaborated with the legendary drummer Hal Blaine on an album, appeared on hits like Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On and Blondie’s The Tide Is High, and played the percussions or vibes for acts like Sam Cooke, George Shearing, Julie London, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, The Doors, Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Diane Schuur, Paul Anka, Michael Bublé and many others. The vocals on the Emil Richards track featured are by future Little Feat singer Lowell George.

 

The Musicals Man
There is always something slightly spooky, albeit statistically unavoidable, about contributors to Christmas culture dying at Christmas. There were two such deaths this year: Lee Mendelson, producer of A Charlie Brown Christmas (and the other Peanuts classics) died on December 25; a day later we lost musicals composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, who wrote We Need a Little Christmas, originally sung by Angela Lansbury in the Broadway hit Mame, which earned Herman a Grammy Herman also wrote for the acclaimed musicals Hello, Dolly! (the longest-running musical for its time; the title song won him another Grammy) and La Cage aux Folles, which produced the showstopper I Am What I Am.

 

The Big Bird
We rarely saw his face, but generations heard the voice every day. Caroll Spinney was the puppeteer and voice for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for 49 years, from the show’s inception in 1969 until his retirement in 2018 (though his last performances were broadcast in 2019). And by dint of that, he may feature here, since these characters were prone to break out into song periodically. A couple of those featured on the Any Major Sesame Street Pops mix which I posted in November to mark the 50th anniversary of that great programme, and where we hear Spinney duetting as Oscar with Johnny Cash and with James Taylor.

The Rock & Roller
The name of Canadian rock & roll singer Jack Scott might not shine the brightest on the marquee of the genre’s legends, but he had a remarkable string of US single releases in the late 1950s and early ‘60s: 19 within 41 months, more than any other artist other than Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Connie Francis and The Beatles. All but one of them were written by Scott; four were US Top 10 hits. So at home in the US was Scott (born Giovanni Domenico Scafone) that in 1959 he briefly joined that country’s army, just after he had a Top 10 hit with, appropriately, Goodbye Baby. By 1961, his chart action was over, but Scott continued recording, including a session in 1977 with BBC disc jockey John Peel.

 

The Photographer
Last month we marked the deaths of three photographers who produced iconic LP covers. November ended with the death of another one, the news of which became public only after the last In Memoriam dropped. It is necessary that this corner of the Internet should pay tribute to Raeanne Rubenstein, who took the photo on the cover of Steely Dan’s 1974 album Pretzel Logic. Her photography also graced cover art by acts like Kiss, Cameo, Dolly Parton, The Fat Boys, and The Who. She photographed the greatest names in pop and popular culture, with her work being published widely, and in ten books. According to Wikipedia, the cover for Pretzel Logic was shot just above the 79th Street Transverse (the road through Central Park) at the park entrance called “Miners’ Gate”.

 

The Mystery Death
Then there is the mysterious case of English rock & revivalist Rocky Sharpe, who with his Replays scored a 1978 hit with a cover of The Edsel’s Rama Lama Ding Dong. His death after a very long illness was widely reported on Facebook, by family members, friends and other associates. Tribute concerts were held. But search the web for any mention of Rocky Sharpe’s death, even Wikipedia, and you’ll find nothing. In my ten years of doing In Memoriams, I have never encountered a case when the death of a relatively well-known musician is reported on social media but nowhere else on the web, even weeks afterwards. Usually I don’t include unverified deaths reported on social media (as it is this month with Paul Fleming of The Mutants), but in this instance I shall presume that the family would know best.

 

Raeanne Rubenstein, 74, photographer, on Nov. 30
Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic (1974, as cover photographer)

Matt Chipchase, singer of British indie band Young Rebel Set, on Dec. 1
Young Rebel Set – If I Was (2009)

Greedy Smith, 63, member of Australian pop band Mental As Anything, on Dec. 2
Mental As Anything – Live It Up (1985)

Joe Smith, 91, music industry executive, on Dec. 2

Jimmy Cavallo, 92, rock & roll musician, on Dec. 2
Jimmy Cavallo and The Houserockers – Rock, Rock, Rock (1956)

Jacques Morgantini, 95, French blues producer and promoter, on Dec. 2

Rosa Morena, 78, Spanish flamenco pop singer, on Dec. 4
Rosa Morena – Échale guindas al pavo (1971)

Jerry Naylor, 80, lead singer of The Crickets (1961-65), on Dec. 5
The Crickets – Don’t Ever Change (1962)

Rocky Sharpe, leader of Rocky Sharpe & The Replays, reportedly on Dec. 5
Rocky Sharpe & The Replays – Rama Lama Ding Dong (1978)

Herbert Joos, 79, German jazz trumpeter, on Dec. 7

Joe McQueen, 100, jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 7

Caroll Spinney, 85, Sesame Street puppeteer, on Dec. 8
Big Bird – ABC-DEF-GHI (1970)
Oscar the Grouch – I Love Trash (1970)

Juice Wrld, 21, rapper, on Dec. 8

Marie Fredriksson, 61, singer-songwriter of Swedish pop group Roxette, on Dec. 9
Roxette – Dressed For Success (1988)
Roxette – Fading Like A Flower (Every Time You Leave) (1991)

Gershon Kingsley, 97, German-born composer and electronic pioneer, on Dec. 10
Perrey & Kingsley – Baroque Hoedown (1967)
Gershon Kingsley – Norwhere Man (1969)

Danny Aiello, 86, actor and occasional jazz singer, on Dec. 12
Danny Aiello – Besamo Much (2004)

Jack Scott, 83, Canadian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12
Jack Scott – Goodbye Baby (1958)
Jack Scott – You’re Just Gettin’ Better (1974)

Roy Loney, 73, singer and guitarist of Flamin’ Groovies (1965-71), on Dec. 13
Flamin’ Groovies – The First One’s Free (1971, also as writer)

Terrell Winn, guitarist of The Jim Carroll Band, reported on Dec. 13
The Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died (1980)

Anna Karina, 79, Danish-born French actress and singer, on Dec. 15
Anna Karina – Rollergirl (1967)

Irv Williams, 100, jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 14

Monique Leyrac, 91, Canadian singer and actress, on Dec. 15
Monique Leyrac – La Manikoutai (1972)

Popa Wu, 63, rapper and spiritual mentor to Wu Tang Clan, on Dec. 16
Wu-Tang Clan feat. Poppa Wu & Uncle Pete – Wu-Revolution (1997)

Emil Richards, 87, percussionist and vibraphonist, on Dec. 16
Frank Sinatra – In The Still Of The Night (1961, on vibraphone)
Emil Richards & The Factory – No Place I’d Rather Be (1967)
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On (1973, on percussion)
Paul Anka – Lovecats (2005, on vibraphone)

Alain Barrière, 84, French singer, on Dec. 18
Alain Barrière & Noëlle Cordier – Tu T’en Vas (1975)

Patxi Andión, 72, Spanish singer-songwriter and actor, in traffic accident on Dec. 18
Patxi Andion – Soneto 70 (1970)

Kenny Lynch, 81, English singer and actor, on Dec. 18
Kenny Lynch – You Can Never Stop Me Loving You (1963)

Arty McGlynn, 75, guitarist of Irish folk group Patrick Street, on Dec. 18
Patrick Street – The Man With The Cap (1988)
Van Morrison – Have I Told You Lately (1989, on guitar)

Allee Willis, 72, songwriter and lyricist, on Dec. 24
Allee Willis – I Don’t Know How (1975)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Star (1979)
Patty LaBelle – Stir It Up (1984)
Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This (1987)

Dave Riley, 59, bassist of punk band Big Black, on Dec. 24

Maurice Newton, 81, lead singer of doo-wop band Fidelitys, on Dec. 25
The Fidelitys – Wishing Star (1960)

Kelly Fraser, 26, Canadian Inuk pop singer-songwriter, on Dec. 25

Jerry Herman, 88, composer and lyricist, on Dec. 26
Louis Armstrong – Hello Dolly
Shirley Bassey – I Am What I Am (1984, as writer)

Sleepy LaBeef, 84, rockabilly singer, on Dec. 26
Sleepy La Beff – All Alone (1957)

Don Imus, 79, shock jock and recording artist, on Dec. 27

Jack Sheldon, 88, trumpeter singer and voice actor on Schoolhouse Rock, on Dec. 27
Jack Sheldon – Just In Time (1995)

Garrett List, 76, free jazz trombonist, singer and composer, on Dec. 27

Art Sullivan, 69, Belgian singer, on Dec. 27
Art Sullivan – Petite Fille Aux Yeux Bleus (1973)

Thanos Mikroutsikos, 72, Greek composer and politician, on Dec. 28

Norma Tanega, 80, US-born singer-songwriter and artist, on Dec. 29
Norma Tanega – Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog (1966)
Norma Tanega – Illusion (1971)

Neil Innes, 75, comedian, musician and songwriter, on Dec. 29
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – Death-Cab For Cutie (1967, also as co-writer)
Mike Innes – How Sweet To Be An Idiot (1973)
Monty Python – Knights Of The Round Tables (1975, as writer)
The Rutles – I Must Be In Love. (1978, on lead vocals)

Vaughan Oliver, 62, designer of cover art on Britain’s 4AD label, Pixies, on Dec. 29
Pixies – Where Is My Mind (1988, as album cover designer)

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Music Deaths of the Decade: Behind the Scenes

December 24th, 2019 3 comments

 

In the previous review of the significant music deaths of the past decade, we remembered 30+ recording artists with their recordings, and listed a whole lot more by way of honorary mention. Here we pay tribute to the people behind the scenes — shamefully almost all men — who made the music happen: songwriters, producers, session musicians and so on.

Several songs chosen here to pay these tributes cover various men in one go. And still, there are many who others who were shortlisted, and whose names should not be forgotten, my subjective and somewhat random choices notwithstanding: Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Otis, Bill Strange, Marvin Hamlisch, Vince Montana, Shadow Morton, Andy Johns, Johnny Allen, Bob Crewe, Michael Masser, Harold Battiste, PF Sloan, Alphonse Mouzon, Robert Stigwood, Leon Ndugu Chandler, Lewis Merenstein, Larry Muhoberac, George Young, George Avakian, Norman Gimbel, Henri Belolo, Dave Batholomew, Tony Hall, Donnie Fritts, Robert Hunter, Bob Esty, Motown Funk Brothers Bob Babbitt, Gil Askey, Eddie Willis and Melvin ‘Wah-Wah’ Ragin… (and apologies for any big name I left out).

All of them featured in the In Memoriam series, with songs and most of the time, an abstract on their musical achievements.

Some became the subject of retrospectives of their work (all of the mixes are still live, as far as I can tell): Nick Ashford, Bobby Keys, Ricky Lawson, Rod Temperton, Louis Johnson, Joe Osborne. The great Hal Blaine got his tributes, in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, before he died this year.

Admittedly, picking one song to sum up a person’s career is not always fair. Take Chips Moman, reduced here to co-writer status. The man wrote several classics, produced many others, and founded the founding the American Sound Studio in Memphis. I initially picked Elvis’ Suspicious Mind for this collection, but since there was another Elvis song that had to run, we have Moman being represented by Aretha Franklin.

Likewise Rick Hall, reduced to the producer of the Candi Staton song. Hall changed Aretha Franklin’s career to turn her into a soul diva. He founded the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals which was a hit machine for Aretha, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, Etta James, and others. Among the session people he worked with in the 1960s was drummer Jerry Carrigan, whom we encounter doing stick-work on George Jones’ 1980 hit He Stopped Loving Her Today. In the way the wold of music is small, Hall wrote for George Jones in the 1950s. There are many crossed paths over these two mixes.

EDIT: On the day I posted this, we also lost songwriter Allee Willis who co-wrote the theme of Friends, Pointer Sisters’ Neutron Dance, and a whole bunch of Earth, Wind & Fire hits, including September, In The Stone and Boogie Wonderland.

The mix exceeds the CD-R length, so again no home-waked covers. PW in comments.

1. MFSB – Soul Train Theme (1973)
Don Cornelius (Presenter) February 2012

2. Al Green – So Tired Of Being Alone (1972)
Willie Mitchell (Producer, label owner) January 2010
Andrew Love (Tenor Sax; half of Memphis Horns) April 2012
Wayne Jackson (Trumpet; half of Memphis Horns) June 2016

3. Carpenters – Goodbye To Love (1972)
Hal Blaine (Drums) March 2019
Joe Osborn (Bass) December 2018
Tony Peluso (Lead Guitar) June 2010

4. George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today (1980)
Curly Putman (Co-writer) October 2016
Jerry Carrigan (Drums) June 2016

5. Warren Zevon – Mohammed’s Radio (1976)
Bobby Keys (Saxophone) December 2013

6. Carole King – Will You Love Me Tomorrow? (live, 2008)
Gerry Goffin (Co-writer) June 2014

7. Barbra Streisand – One Less Bell To Answer/A House Is Not A Home (1971)
Hal David (Co-writer) September 2012

8. Aretha Franklin – Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (1967)
Chips Moman (Co-writer) March 2016

9. Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Your Precious Love (1982)
Tommy LiPuma (Producer) March 2017
Nick Ashford (Co-writer) August 2011
Ricky Lawson (Drums) December 2013

10. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Back Together Again (1979)
Reggie Lucas (Co-writer, Guitar) March 2018

11. Billy Joel – Rosalinda’s Eyes (1979)
Phil Ramone (Producer) March 2013
Ralph MacDonald (Percussion) December 2011
Hugh McCracken (Guitar) March 2013

12. The Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can Can (1973)
Allen Toussaint (Writer) November 2015

13. The Blues Brothers – Everybody Needs Somebody (1980)
Donald “Duck” Dunn (Bass) May 2012
Matt “Guitar” Murphy (Guitar) June 2018

14. Human League – The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (1981)
Martin Rushent (Producer) June 2011

15. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five – The Message (1982)
Sylvia Robinson (Producer, Co-writer) September 2011

16. Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)
Rod Temperton (Writer) October 2016
Louis Johnson (Bass) May 2015
George Duke (Synth) August 2013

17. Dave Grusin – Friends And Strangers (1980)
Larry Rosen (Producer) October 2015

18. Candi Staton – I’m Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin’) (1972)
Rick Hall (Producer, studio owner) January 2018
Jimmie Haskell (Arranger) February 2016

19. Baby Washington – I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face (1964)
Jerry Ragovoy (Writer) July 2011

20. Etta James – At Last (1960)
Phil Chess (Producer, label owner) October 2016

21. Elvis Presley – I Want To Be Free (1957)
Jerry Leiber (Co-writer) August 2028
Scotty Moore (Guitar) June 2016
J.D. Fontana (Drums) June 2018
Gordon Stoker (Backing vocals, with Jordanaires) March 2013

22. Johnny Cash – Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (1958)
‘Cowboy” Jack Clement (producer, co-writer) August 2013

23. The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows (1966)
George Martin (Producer) March 2016
Geoff Emmerick (Engineer) October 2018

24. The Rolling Stones – Shine A Light (1969)
Clydie King (Backing vocals) January 2019

25. Simon & Garfunkel – 7 O’clock News, Silent Night (1969)
Bob Johnston (Producer) August 2015

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Music Deaths of the Decade: Performers

December 10th, 2019 3 comments

As the 2010s draw to a close, I have made a shortlist of musicians whose death during the decade made me particularly sad, from a musical legacy and human point of view (there were many tragic deaths, of course. Suicides, murders, accidents, tsunamis and so on).

With the In Memoriam series I’ve kept a pretty close eye on music deaths every month for the past ten years (and no year was more horrible than 2016, the year in which the devil took Prince and Bowie and gave us President Trump). So my idea was to make a couple of mixes honouring the musicians whose passing I was particularly saddened about. The list became too long. I decided to do one mix of 30 tracks for recording artists, and another mix of 30 to honour the behind-the-scenes people (producers, songwriters, session players etc), which will run later.

Of course, tribute was paid to all of them at the time of their death, and to some by way of special mixes: cover mixes for Leonard Cohen, Chuck Berry and Walter Becker of Steely Dan, a mix of Aretha Franklin singing covers, a mix of songs Prince said he would play as a DJ.

But before I launch into the mix, it is only right to give a shout-out to those who remained on the list even after I cut the featured artists and those artists I put on the list because I felt I had to. We are left with: Teddy Pendergrass, Tony Schilder, Sandra Wright, Solomon Burke, Alex Chilton (all 2010), Gary Moore, Nate Dogg, Loleatta Holloway, Gene McDaniels (2011); Etta James (who’ll feature on the second mix), Davy Jones, Doc Watson, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Lillian Lopez of Odyssey, Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, Kitty Wells, Terry Callier, Major Harris (2012), Kevin Ayers, Donald Byrd, Marvin Junior, Trevor Bolder, Clarence Burke Jr, Darondo, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, JJ Cale, Tompall Glaser, George Duke, Lou Reed (2013), Pete Seeger, Ronny Jordan, Horace Silver, Idris Muhammad, Jimmy Ruffin, Udo Jürgens (2014), Don Covay, André Crouch, Little Jimmy Dickens, Steve Strange, Joe B. Mauldin, Erroll Brown, Louis Johnson (who’ll feature in the second mix), BB King, Billy Joe Royal, William Guest of The Pips (2015), Glenn Frey, Black, Papa Wemba, Guy Clarke, Bernie Worrell, Ralph Stanley, Kashif, Jean Shepard, Mandoza, Toots Thielemans, Colonel Abrams, Bap Kennedy, Leon Russell, Rick Parfitt (2016), Leon Ware, David Axelrod, Joni Sledge, Valerie Carter, Clyde Stubblefield, Cuba Gooding, Daliah Lavi, Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks, Bob Wooton (Johnny Cash’s guitarist), Bunny Sigler, Joy Fleming, Fats Domino, Don Williams, Tom Petty, Mel Tillis, David Cassidy, Malcolm Young, Della Reese, Keely Smith, Jaki Liebezeit  and Holger Czukay (2017), France Gall , Denise LaSalle, Dolores O’Riordan, Nokie Edwards, Clarence Fountain of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jabo Stark, Tony Joe White, Alan Longmuir, Nancy Wilson (2018), James Ingram, André Williams, Scott Walker, Doris Day, Dr John, Jerry Lawson, Joao Gilberto, Rik Ocasek, Jackie Moore (2019)…

The decade wiped out:
• All of the classic Motörhead line-up (Phil Taylor in November 2015, Lemmy Kilmister in December 2015, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke in January 2018)
• Two-thirds of Cream (Jack Bruce in October 2014, Ginger Baker in October 2019)
• Two-thirds of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Keith Emerson in March 2016, Greg Lake in December 2016)
• Three of The Temptations taking lead on Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (Richard Street and Damon Harris in February 2012, and Dennis Edwards in February 2018)

• In the space of two months, three-fourth of the classic Manhattans line-up (Sonny Bivins and Blue Lovett in December 2014, Kenny Kelley in February 2015).
• Most of The Valentinos/Womack Brothers (Cecil Womack in February 2013, Bobby Womack in June 2014, Curtis Womack in May 2017. Harry was shot dead in 1974; only Friendly Womack survives)
• Two-thirds of The Holmes Brothers (Popsy Dixon in February 2015, Wendell Holmes in June 2015)
• The legendary drumming team of James Brown’s The J.B.s, Clyde Stubblefield February 2017 and Jabo Stark in May 2018.

The decade also saw the accelerated passing of the German singers with whom I grew up in the 1970s. Even if I cannot commend the artistry of much the music created by them, I do have a nostalgic attachment to the memory of watching them on TV. Usually they were introduced by the presenter of the monthly ZDF Hitparade, Dieter Thomas Heck, who died in August 2018.

Other ’70s Schlager singers who died in the 2010s include Bert Berger of duo Cindy & Bert, who in some circles are now best-known for their German cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, in July 2012; Bernd Clüver in July 2011; Udo Jürgens in December 2014; Daliah Lavi in May 2017; Gunter Gabriel in May 2017; Chris Roberts in July 2017; Joy Fleming in July 2017; Jürgen Marcus in May 2018; Abi Ofarim in May 2018; Costa Cordalis in July 2019; Karel Gott in October 2019.

Finally: The prophet Gil Scott-Heron, whose incisive lyrics 40-odd years ago still have application today. The indictment of entertainment as a diversion from effecting systemic change in The Revolution Won’t Be Televised retains its currency today, even if the characters have changed in the intervening 48 years. And as Scott-Heron’s H2Ogate Blues marked the legal troubles of the corrupt Nixon regime, so does it anticipate the corruption of Donald Trump’s election five years after the singer’s death: “How much more evidence do the citizens need that the election was sabotaged by trickery and greed? And, if this is so, and who we got didn’t win… Let’s do the whole goddamn election over again!”

And so to the mix. With 30 songs, it exceeds the CD-R length; so no home-grieved covers. PW in comments.

1. Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go (1964)
Chuck Berry: March 2017

2. The Miracles – You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me (1962)
Marv Tarplin: September 2011
Warren ‘Pete’ Moore: November 2017
Bobby Rogers: March 2013
plus: Eddie ‘Chank’ Willis (Funk Brother on guitar): August 2018

3. Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
Ben E. King: April 2015

4. The Everly Brothers – Crying In The Rain (1962)
Phil Everly: January 2014

5. Glen Campbell – Galveston (1969)
Glen Campbell: August 2017

6. George Jones – From Here To The Door (1966)
George Jones: April 2013

7. Merle Haggard – Always Wanting You (1975)
Merle Haggard: April 2016

8. Richie Havens – Morning, Morning (1968)
Richie Havens: April 2013

9. Gil Scott-Heron – H2Ogate Blues (1974)
Gil Scott-Heron: May 2011

10. Grady Tate – Be Black (1968)
Grady Tate: October 2017

11. Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You (1972)
Billy Paul: April 2016

12. Bobby Womack – Harry Hippie (1972)
Bobby Womack: June 2014

13. David Bowie – Changes (1971)
David Bowie: January 2016

14. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Rosalita (live) (1975)
Clarence Clemons: June 2011

15. Steely Dan – Any Major Dude (1974)
Walter Becker: September 2017

16. Prince – Starfish And Coffee (1987)
Prince: April 2016

17. Cesária Évora – Nho Antone Escaderode (1999)
Cesária Évora: December 2011

18. Hugh Masekela – Thuma Mina (Send Me) (2006)
Hugh Masekela: January 2018

19. Crusaders – Keep That Same Old Feeling (1976)
Joe Sample (Keyboards): September 2014
Wilton Felder (Tenor sax): September 2015
Wayne Henderson (Trombone): April 2014
Robert Popwell (Bass): November 2017

20. Donna Summer – On The Radio (1979)
Donna Summer: May 2012

21. Earth, Wind & Fire – Love’s Holiday (1977)
Maurice White: February 2016

22. Natalie Cole – This Will Be (1975)
Natalie Cole: December 2015

23. Aretha Franklin – I’m In Love (1974)
Aretha Franklin: August 2018
(Written by Bobby Womack)

24. Joe Cocker – It’s A Sin When You Love Somebody (1974)
Joe Cocker: December 2014

25. George Michael – Kissing A Fool (1987)
George Michael: December 2016

26. Al Jarreau – Spain (1980)
Al Jarreau: February 2017

27. The Band – Up On Cripple Creek (live) (1978)
Levon Helm: April 2012

28. Leonard Cohen – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1967)
Leonard Cohen: November 2016

29. Georges Moustaki – Ma Liberté (1970)
Georges Moustaki: May 2013

30. Robin Gibb – Gone Gone Gone (1970)
Robin Gibb: May 2012

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In Memoriam – November 2019

December 5th, 2019 4 comments

November was a bad month for English photographers of pop legends. And we lost the man who brought the calypso into the mainstream.

The Calypso Pioneer
Few people can claim to have written pop classics and a national anthem, as could Irving “Lord Burgess” Burgie, who has died at 95.  A World War II veteran of West Indian and US parentage, Burgie wrote classics such as Island In The Sun, Jamaica Farewell and Angelina, and co-wrote the Harry Belafonte version of the Jamaican work song Day-O (The Banana Boat Song). While he kept writing music, Burgie rarely performed after Belafonte scored hits with his songs. Burgie used the wealth he accumulated from royalties to found a magazine for the community in Harlem, and to engage himself in the civil rights movement. He also wrote the lyrics for the national anthem of Barbados, after the Caribbean island gained independence in 1966.

The French Chanteuse
French singer and actress Marie Laforêt, who has died at 80, was intent on becoming a nun when she entered a talent contest, standing in for her sister. It came as it had to: Marie won and was discovered by director Louis Malle. She made her film debut opposite Alain Delon in René Clément’s 1960 film Plein Soleil. In her second film, Saint Tropez Blues, she sung the title song, launching a career in music. Laforêt drew more from chanson and folk than pop, though she gave in to the pressure to record material aimed at the commercial end of the market. She had some success in the 1970s (when she covered several German schlager in French, usually improving them) but she lost interest in her music career, and concentrated on acting. Laforêt made a brief musical comeback in the 1990s. Last month we heard Czech singer Karel Gott cover the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black; this month we have Marie Laforêt do it.

The Precious Soul Singer
There is always something poignant when I have a mix prepared, and one of the artists on it dies before it gets posted. So it is with soul singer Jackie Moore, who will feature on the annual disco mix which drops in the last week before New Year’s Eve. Moore is best-known for her 1970 soul hit Precious Precious, or perhaps for 1975’s Make Me Feel Like A Woman. And to some, especially GTA gamers, her 1979 cover of the O’Jays’ song This Time Baby might be the defining Moore song.

 

The Beatles Photographer
You have seen the work of British photographer Robert Freeman, who has died at 82. He took the photos for the covers of four Beatles albums: With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help, and Rubber Soul. A track on the latter was Norwegian Wood; rumour has it that Lennon wrote the song about his affair with Freeman’s wife.

The cover photo of Beatles For Sale is probably my favourite of all Fab Four pics. The lads look as tired (because they were exhausted) as half of the hurriedly compiled album sounds. The photo evokes late autumn, mainly because it was taken at that time of the year during a session in London’s Hyde Park.

Almost exactly a year after Beatles For Sale came out, on 3 December1965, the Beatles released another LP, Rubber Soul, with cover art that also evoked autumn. I’ve always imagined that on the photo the four were looking down into a well. What actually happened was that Freeman projected a series of photos he had taken at Lennon’s place on an LP sleeve-sized cardboard, to give an idea as to how each option would look as a cover. At one point, the cardboard had slipped, and the image was projected at an angle. According to Paul, the Beatles really liked the effect, and asked Freeman whether he could recreate it. As we know, he could.

The great monochome photo for With The Beatles, the group’s second LP, was taken on 22 August 1963 in a corridor in the Bournemouth Palace Court Hotel, not an establishment generally associated with great moments in rock & roll. Freeman was given instruction to recreate the shadow-and-light effect often employed by their Hamburg-days friend Astrid Kirchherr, the girl in whose arms original Beatle Stu Sutcliffe died. Freeman achieved the effect by using natural light coming through a window at the end of the corridor.

The Elton John Photographer
It was not a good month for Beatles photographers: legendary British camera wielder Terry O’Neill also departed for the Great Darkroom in the Sky. He was well-known for his photos of acts like the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Elton John. The latter used O’Neill photos for several of his LP covers, including 1974’s Greatest Hits, Rock Of The Westies, A Single Man, and Ice On Fire, as well as for singles such as Nikita. Other cover photos taken by Faye Dunaway’s ex-husband include The Who’s Who Are You?, Michelle Philips’ 1977 album Victim Of Romance and the Police’s Wrapped Around Your Finger single.

The High Voltage Photographer
That darkroom must have got pretty crowded with British photographers when Michael Putland died at 72. You’ll have seen his work on covers of albums such as Harry Nilsson’s Son Of Schmilsson, AC/DC’s High Voltage, and Madness’ 7. And the photo collages in the booklet of The Who’s The Kids Are Alright album includes photos by both Putland and Terry O’Neill.

 

The Sutherland Brother
We had the original of the Rod Stewart hit Sailing in Any Major Originals: 1970s Vol. 1, performed by the Sutherland Brothers (incidentally, it was conceived as a song about seeking God, not about romantic maritime adventures). The band was brothers Gavin and Iain Sutherland; the latter of whom we lost this month at the age of 71. The Sutherland Brothers, who joined forces with the rock group Quiver for a while, had their biggest success in the ULK with The Arms Of Mary; in the US they were best known for (I Don’t Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway.

The Doors’ Bassist
For a couple of albums, Doug Lubahn was The Doors’ unofficial bass player during the recording sessions for Strange Days and Waiting For The Sun (though the great Larry Knechtel did, uncredited, bass work for The Doors at the same time). He was actually invited to join the group but declined, citing his commitment to the rather less successful psychedelic rock band Clear Light. Lubahn later joined a succession of bands that had limited success — Dreams, Pierce Arrow, Riff-Raff — and worked with acts like Pat Benatar (with whom he wrote her breakthrough hit Treat Me Right), Billy Squier and Ted Nugent.

The Punk Robber
We have covered singers who became lawyers and even judges; the kind of leave music to become robbers are the other side of the coin. One of those was Gilles Bertin, whose career path moved from being the singer of French punk band Camera Silens to robbing a cash transport in 1988. And it wasn’t a spontaneous act of criminal hubris: Bertin and his gang had planned the heist for two years. Most of the 11,5 million Francs (about €1,7 million in today’s value) was never found. Bertin’s conspirators were caught, but Bertin escaped to Spain and then Portugal, where he ran a record shop. He returned to France in 2016, and received only a suspended sentence.

 

Waller ‘Sonny’ Collie, 68, drummer of power-pop band The Explosives, on Nov. 1
The Explosives – A Girl Like You (1981)

Marie Laforêt, 80, French-Swiss singer and actress, on Nov. 2
Marie Laforêt – Manchester et Liverpool (1966)
Marie Laforêt – Marie Douceur, Marie Colere
Marie Laforêt – Viens, viens (1973)

Bart Walsh, 56, rock guitarist, on Nov. 2

Wake Self, 30, hip-hop artist, traffic collision, on Nov. 3

Kelley Looney, 61, bassist in Steve Earle’s band, on Nov. 4
Steve Earle – Copperhead Road (1988, on bass)

Vaughn Benjamin, 50, Antiguan singer with reggae band Midnite, on Nov. 4
Midnite – Jubilees Of Zion (2000)

Timi Hansen, 61, bassist with Danish metal bands Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, on Nov. 4

Michael Sherwood, 60, keyboardist and singer, on Nov. 5
Lisa Loeb – Underdog (2001, on keyboards)

Gilles Bertin, 58, singer of French punk band Camera Silens and robber, on Nov. 7
Camera Silens – Pour la gloire (1983)

Robert Freeman, 82, photographer (Beatles) and graphic designer, on Nov. 8
The Beatles – In My Life (1965, as cover photographer)

Jackie Moore, 73, soul singer, on Nov. 8
Jackie Moore – Precious Precious (1970)
Jackie Moore – Make Me Feel Like A Woman (1975)

Fred Bongusto, 84, Italian pop singer, songwriter and film composer, on Nov. 8
Fred Bongusto – Doce Doce (1962)

Bob Szajner, 81, American jazz pianist, on Nov. 9

Kehinde Lijadu, 71, half of Nigerian duo Lijadu Sisters, on Nov. 9
Lijadu Sisters – Orere Eljigbo (1984)

Jan Byrczek, 83, US-Polish jazz bassist and journalist, on Nov. 10

Lisa Kindred, 79, folk and blues singer, on Nov. 11
Lisa Kindred – I Like It This Way (1965)

Bad Azz, 43, rapper, on Nov. 11

Papa Don Schroeder, 78, producer and songwriter, on Nov. 15
Webb Pierce – Those Wonderful Year (1963, as writer)
James & Bobby Purify – I’m Your Puppet (1966, as producer)

Éric Morena, 68, French pop singer, on Nov. 16

Browning Bryant, 62, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 16
Browning Bryant – You Might Say (1974)

Fabio XB, 44, Italian trance DJ, producer and remixer, on Nov. 16

Terry O’Neill, 81, English music photographer, on Nov. 16
Elton John – Song For Guy (1978, as cover photographer)

Michael Putland, 72, English music photographer, on Nov. 19 (unconfirmed)
AC/DC – The Jack (1976, as cover photographer)

Lloyd Watson, 70, English rock guitarist, on Nov. 19
Brian Eno – Some Of Them Are Old (1973, on guitar)

José Mário Branco, 77, Portuguese singer-songwriter, producer, on Nov. 19

John Mann, 57, singer-guitarist with Canadian folk rock band Spirit of the West, on Nov. 20
Spirit of the West – Home For A Rest (1990)

Doug Lubahn, 71, rock bassist, on Nov. 20
The Monkees – Porpoise Song (1968, on bass)
The Doors – Hello, I Love You (1968, on bass)
Pat Benatar – Treat Me Right (1980, as co-writer)

Donna Carson, 73, half of folk-rock duo Hedge and Donna, on Nov. 21
Hedge & Donna – Wings (1967)

Eduardo Nascimento, 76, Angolan singer, on Nov. 22
Eduardo Nascimento – O vento mudou (1967)

Eddie Duran, 94, American jazz guitarist, on Nov. 22
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Surfin’ Snoopy 1968, on guitar)
Tania Maria – Come With Me (1982, on guitar)

Clive James, 80, Australian broadcaster, writer and songwriter, on Nov. 24
Julie Covington – The Magic Wasn’t There (1970, as co-writer)

Iain Sutherland, 71, member of Scottish band Sutherland Brothers, songwriter, on Nov. 25
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – You Got Me Anyway (1973, also as writer)
Sutherlands Brothers & Quiver – Arms Of Mary (1975, also as writer)

Martin Armiger, 70, singer, guitarist, songwriter with Australian band The Sports, on Nov. 27
The Sports – Who Listens To The Radio (1979)

Juninho Berin, 38, Brazilian samba singer-songwriter, on Nov. 28

Irving ‘Lord Burgess’ Burgie, 95, songwriter, on Nov. 29
Harry Belafonte – Jamaica Farewell (1956, as writer)
Harry Belafonte – Angelina (1961, as writer)
Lord Burgess – Island In The Sun (1984, also as writer)
Barbados National Anthem – In Plenty And In Time Of Need (as lyricist)

Micheal Smotherman, 71, country musician and songwriter, on Nov. 29
Glen Campbell – For Cryin’ Out Loud (1977, as writer)
Micheal Smotherman – Do I Ever Cross Your Mind (2003)

Stuart Fraser, Australian guitarist, on Nov. 30
Noiseworks – Take Me Back (1987, as member)

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In Memoriam – October 2019

November 5th, 2019 2 comments

October’s deaths included a legendary drummer, a barrier-breaking soap star, the Communist Sinatra, and another Kris Kristofferson collaborator.

The Drummer Legend
By all accounts, Cream drummer Ginger Baker, who has joined Cream colleague Jack Bruce in the great beyond, was a volatile and unpleasant person to many people. But the tributes rightly concentrated on the influence he had on many other great stickmen who followed him. Baker brought jazz and African rhythms to rock drumming in ways that scores of English drummers would copy and build on. Long before he was in Cream, Baker had been a jazz drummer; and his love for African music would see him live in Nigeria in the 1970s and record with Fela Kuti. Baker is credited with having a huge influence on heavy metal — a genre the old grump passionately hated.

The ‘First Bitch’
For people of my generation, the first encounter with Diahann Carroll likely was through her role on the 1980s soap Dynasty. It was a groundbreaking for several reasons; one was that Carroll was allowed to be a successful AND unlikeable black woman on a prime-time TV show. She said herself: “I want to be the first black bitch on television.”

Her character played a former singer, and it was reported at the time that the actress once was a singer of some sort, but I didn’t quite understand until much later just how accomplished she was. She was a fine jazz singer, and also a good stage musical vocalist. She became the first black woman to win a best actress Tony for the Rodgers/Hammerstein musical No Strings in 1962. She also was nominated for an Oscar for 1974’s Claudine. The same year she recorded an album on Motown, which included the featured track, I Mean To Shine, a song written by pre-Steely Dan Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.

Guitar Feats
The son of Hollywood stars Paul and Claudia Bryar, Paul Barrere joined Little Feat in 1972, just as the band was hitting its stride, as the second guitarist and backing singer. He also contributed his own compositions, such as All That You Dream, Skin It Back, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, and Down On The Farm. When Little Feat was reformed after Lowell George’s death, Barrere took over lead vocal duties. As a guitarist, he also played with the likes of Robert Palmer, Nicolette Larsson, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, John Cale, Taj Mahal, and Travis Tritt. In the 1980s he released three solo albums; he was still performing with Little Feat until this year. Four days before Barrerre died, producer Ed Cherney passed on; he had produced Little Feat, with Barrere on lead vocals, in the 1990s.

 

The Venture Guitarist
His guitar work is among of the most iconic in the game of TV themes: Gerry (or Jerry) McGee played the lead on the theme of Hawaii Five-O, just months after he had replaced Nokie Edwards in The Ventures. Edwards then replaced McGee in 1972, and in 1985, McGee again replaced Edwards. He’d stay with the band until 2017.

The son of the famous Cajun fiddle player Dennis McGee, he played guitar (with other guitarists) on classic Monkees tracks such as their theme song, Last Train to Clarksville, Saturday’s Child, Valleri and others. He also did guitar work for people like Kris Kristofferson (whose erstwhile collaborators are having a hazardous 2019), Rita Coolidge, Nancy Sinatra, John Mayall, Delaney & Bonnie, Everly Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, Jimmy Buffett, Gene Clark, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Michael Franks and more. McGee died four days after collapsing on stage during a gig in Japan.

Oh My Gott!
I previously wrote about the Czech singer Karel Gott in relation to his demented German-language and Slavic-tinged cover of the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black. The ambitiously surnamed singer was the second-squarest of the squarest crooners on the German schlager scene. But if grannies loved him for being such a nice boy, German kids loved him for singing the theme song for the animated Maja the Honey Bee series. Gott had mega hits with his German covers of two movie love themes, Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago and Where Do I Begin? From Love Story.

Few people — least of all Germany’s grannies — really knew that Gott was also a communist, loyal to his principles even after the regime fell in 1989. But he was no hardliner. Gott was so disgusted by the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968 that he later recorded a protest song about the self-immolation of dissident Jan Palach, a Czech cover of All By Myself titled (Kam tenkrát šel) Můj bratr Jan, and before that even considered defecting to West-Germany.

That fact didn’t deter the Czech people from celebrating the life of Karel Gott, who was also an exhibited artist. An estimated 300,000 people turned out for his funeral in Prague, a city of 1,2 million! Voted 42 times Singer of the Year in Czechosvakia/Chech Republic, Karel Gott released around 100 albums.

The Eddie
Just a few weeks ago, Barrie Masters featured on the Any Major Teenagers mix as the singer of Eddie & The Hot Rods. For a brief moment, Eddie & The Hot Rods were riding the punk wave, though they were really a pub rock band. Still, the Sex Pistols played their first London gig supporting the Hot Rods at the Marquee, and the Hot Rods toured the US with the Ramones in 1977.

The band had a UK #9 hit in 1977 with the likable Do Anything You Wanna Do; another minor hit in early 1978, and the band went cold as a charts act. But in changing line-ups around Masters, the band continued to tour and record up to this year. Earlier this year, a one-off gig brought together past and present members.

The Chamber Brother
The Chambers Brothers didn’t do much, but they gave the direction of popular music a mighty push when they scored a 1968 hit with Time Has Come Today, a track that fused soul and funk with psychedelic and acid rock, helping to pave the way for acts like Sly & The Family Stone and The Temptation who were on the same trip. Of the four Chamber Brothers, bassist and oldest sibling George Chambers is the first for whom the time has come. Non-brother and drummer Brian Keenan died in 1985.

 

Beverly Watkins, 80, American blues guitarist, on Oct. 1
Dr Feelgood & The Interns – Mr Moonlight (1962, as member on guitar)
Beverly ‘Guitar’ Watkins – Impeach Me Baby (2007)

Bat McGrath, 73, singer, musician and songwriter, on Oct. 1
Bat McGrath – Blue Eagle (1976)

Karel Gott, 80, Czech schlager singer, on Oct. 1
Karel Gott – Weißt du wohin (1967)
Karel Gott – Rot und Schwarz (1969)
Karel Gott – Můj bratr Jan (1977)

Barrie Masters, 63, singer of English rock band Eddie and the Hot Rods, on Oct. 2
Eddie and the Hot Rods – Do Anything You Wanna Do (1977)
Eddie And The Hot Rods – Telephone Girl (1977)

Morten Stützer, 57, guitarist of Danish trash-metal band Artillery, on Oct. 2

Kim Shattuck, 56, singer, guitarist and songwriter, on Oct. 2
The Muffs – Sad Tomorrow (1995)

Vinnie Bell, 87, guitarist and electric sitar inventor, on Oct. 3
Vinnie Bell – Airport Love Theme (1970)

Diahann Carroll, 84, singer and actress, on Oct. 4
Diahann Carroll – Rebel In Town (1956)
Diahann Carroll, The André Previn Trio – The Party’s Over (1960)
Diahann Carroll – Goin’ Out Of My Head (1966)
Diahann Carroll – I Mean To Shine (1974)

Glenmore Brown, 75, Jamaican reggae musician, producer, on Oct. 4
Glen Brown – Tell It Like It Is (1974)

Ed Ackerson, 54, singer-songwriter of ‘90s rock band Polara, on May 4
Polara – Is This It? (2002)

Peter Stone Brown, 68, singer-songwriter, on Oct. 5
Peter Stone Brown – Before I Go (1996)

Ginger Baker, 80, legendary English drummer, on Oct. 6
Terry Lightfoot And His Band – (What Did I Do To Be) So Black And Blue (1958, on drums)
Cream – Deserted Cities Of The Heart (1968)
Blind Faith – Well All Right (1969)
Public Image Limited – Ease (1986)

Larry Junstrom, 70, bassist of rock band .38 Special, on Oct. 6
.38 Special – Caught Up In You (1982)

Martin Lauer, 81, German schlager singer and athlete, on Oct. 6

Malcolm ‘Molly’ Duncan, 74, Scottish saxophonist of the Average White Band, on Oct. 8
Average White Band – Cut The Cake (1975)
Average White Band – Shine (1980)

Gerry (Jerry) McGee, 81, lead guitarist of The Ventures (1968-72), on Oct. 8
The Monkees – Hey Hey We’re The Monkees (1966, on guitar)
The Ventures – Hawaii Five-O (1968)
Kris Kristofferson – Shandy (The Perfect Disguise) (1974, on guitar and backing vocals)

Thomas Lück, 76, (East-) German schlager singer and actor, on Oct. 10

George Chambers, 88, bassist and singer with The Chambers Brothers, on Oct. 12
The Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today (1968)
The Chambers Brothers – Funky (1970)

Dallas Harms, 84, Canadian country musician, on Oct. 12

Kenny Dixon, 27, session drummer, in car crash on Oct. 12

Steve Cash, 73, singer-songwriter with Ozark Mountain Daredevils, on Oct. 14
Ozark Mountain Daredevils – If You Wanna Get To Heaven (1973, also as co-writer)

Cacho Castaña, 77, Argentine singer and actor, on Oct. 15

Ray Santos, 90, Afro-Cuban jazz saxophonist, arranger and composer, on Oct. 17

Peter Hobbs, 58, singer-guitarist of Australian metal band Hobbs’ Angel of Death, on Oct. 21

Garry Koehler, 64, Australian country musician and songwriter, on Oct. 22
The Bobkatz – The Man In The Picture (2006, as writer)

Ed Cherney, 69, producer and engineer, on Oct. 22
Pops Staples – World In Motion (1992, as producer)

Don Baskin, 73, singer of garage-rock band Syndicate of Sound, on Oct. 22
Syndicate of Sound – Little Girl (1966)

Walter Franco, 74, Brazilian singer and songwriter, on Oct. 24
Walter Franco – Feito Gente (1975)

Joe Sun, 76, country singer, on Oct. 25
Joe Sun – Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You (1978)

Paul Barrere, 71, singer, guitarist, songwriter with Little Feat, on Oct. 26
Little Feat – All That You Dream (1975, as songwriter)
Robert Palmer – Every Kinda People (1978, on guitar)
Paul Barrere – Fool For You (1983)
Little Feat – Drivin’ Blind (1995, produced by Ed Cherney; see Oct. 22)

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In Memoriam – September 2019

October 3rd, 2019 4 comments

 

The Cars’ Driver
The death at 75 of Rik Ocasek reminded me of how when I got my first car in 1984, the tape of the Heartbeat City album by The Cars (appropriately) was on heavy rotation. Much of that album has not dated well, though I still enjoy Magic, Why Can’t I Have You, You Might Think (which featured on A Life In Vinyl 1984 Vol. 1) and the title track. I also loved Drive — the album’s stand-out track — until Live Aid destroyed it for me. The laziness of using that song to illustrate the suffering of famine based on one line taken completely out of context still annoys me.

Besides creating a lot of great power pop with The Cars, Ocasek was also a producer. His best-known work in that area is that with Suicide. He also produced Weezer’s eponymous debut album (and listen to The Cars’ 1978 track Just What I Needed as a precursor to the Weezer sound). He also produced other Weezer classics, including the impossibly catchy Island In The Sun. Ocasek also produced acts like Alan Vega, Nada Surf, Hole, Jonathan Richman, Bad Religion, Guided By Voices

The Session Legend
One of those lesser-known giants of music left us in Muscle Shoals guitarist, engineer and producer Jimmy Johnson. His great body of work is in his session guitar work, as a member of the session players’ collective The Swampers (more on that below). As an engineer, Johnson worked on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album. He also discovered and produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose mention of “The Swampers” on Sweet Home Alabama refers to Johnson’s session group.

As a guitarist Johnson often worked alongside Duane Allman, Bobby Womack, Joe South and/or Eddie Hinton on a great many classics recorded in Muscle Shoals, at the FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, which he co-founded.

I have ascertained that he played on Aretha Franklin tracks such as Chain Of Fools, Natural Woman, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), Think, Since You’ve Been Gone, Call Me; Wilson Picket’s Land Of 1000 Dances; Boz Scaggs’ Dinah Jo; The Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There, If You’re Ready Come Go With Me, and Respect Yourself (on rhythm guitar); Bobby Womack’s Harry Hippie; Luther Ingram’s If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right); Millie Jackson’s Hurt So Good;  Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Take Me To The Mardi Gras and Kodachrome; Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s the Night and Sailing (on rhythm guitar); Eddie Rabbit’s Suspicions; and Bob Seger’s We’ve Got Tonight, Night Moves, Old Time Rock and Roll (on rhythm guitar) and Good For Me (he accompanied Seger on almost all his albums between 1972 and 1982).

Wikipedia credits him with playing on a dizzying number of other classics, including When a Man Loves A Woman, Mustang Sally, Sweet Soul Music, I’m Your Puppet, Do Right Woman – Do Right Man, Respect (Aretha’s version), Take A Letter Maria, The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff; When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman and Sexy Eyes by Dr Hook.

The Soprano
The In Memoriam series usually does not include musicians from the field of classical music, but an exception may be made with the soprano Jessye Norman, who blazed many trails in her field. In as far as I can be said to have a “favourite” soprano, Norman was that, ever since I first heard her as a 23-year-old. As a friend of mine who had a friendship with Norman can testify, she was a kind, accessible and generous person.

Occasionally Norman dabbled outside the field of opera and lieder, turning her talents to Cole Porter or Michel Legrand (who preceded her in death by a few months), and singing songs of religion. Norman, who was raised as a Baptist, was a freestyling Christian who found greater religious impulse in the Girls Scouts, of whom she was one, than in church — and every year, like a good scout, she would sell thousands of boxes of cookies.

 

Out of Money
Eddie Money was the kind of singer who was massive in the US and made very little impact in the UK or Europe. Between Britain and Germany — the two biggest markets in Europe — Money had one #59 hit (inevitably, Take Me Home Tonight). His sound, it’s fair to say, was thoroughly American. His life could make for a decent bio-pic, though. Money, whose stage name was a corruption of Mahoney (supposedly a joke on never having any cash), wanted to follow his father and grandfather in becoming a cop, but he dropped that career when he was told that he couldn’t have long hair on the job. In 1980, Money mistook a synthetic barbiturate for the cocaine he was going to take and overdosed. For months after he couldn’t walk.

The Grateful Poet
Rarely does a non-performing member of a group gain membership in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but Robert Hunter was the first to make it, in 2004, thanks to the lyrics he wrote for the Grateful Dead. These include Dark Star, St. Stephen, Alligator, Truckin’, China Cat Sunflower, Terrapin Station, and the lovely Ripple. Later he also wrote with Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Little Feat (on their 2012 comeback), and others. Much of his muse came from his experiences as a volunteer in the early 1960s in CIA research into psychedelic drugs. Getting stoned on The Man’s dime, man!

The Disco Man
How strange that a man who has written or produced some of the great disco classics didn’t even have a Wikipedia page. But so it was with Bob Esty, whose death for a few days was marked almost exclusively on Facebook. The tributes on his Facebook page testify to a quality man. And what music he helped create! He produced, composed or arranged hit songs for the likes of Donna Summer, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield, The Pointer Sisters, The Beach Boys and more.  He (co-)produced Donna Summer’s Last Dance, Streisand’s The Main Event (which also co-wrote and arranged), Cher’s Take Me Home (ibid), The Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men, and more.

 

The R&B writer
During the R&B heydays of the late 1990s and early 200s, LaShawn Daniels was responsible for writing for some of the biggest names of the time, and scored a good number of hits with his compositions and productions. He co-wrote Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right (But It’s Okay), Destiny’s Child Say My Name (which he also produced and earned him a Grammy), Jennifer Lopez’s If You Had My Love, Toni Braxton’s He Wasn’t Man Enough, Monica & Brandy’s ‘s The Boy Is Mine, Michael Jackson’s You Rock My World, Tatyana Ali’s Daydreamin’, Whitney Houston & George Michael’s If I Told You That, Twista’s So Lonely, Janet Jackson’s Feedback, Beyoncé’s Telephone, Tamar Braxton’s Love And War, as well as the Spice Girls’ hits Holler, Let Love Lead The Way and Forever. Several of these he also produced. Daniels died at 41 in a car crash.

Not Risen
Jesus has died. That is, Jeff Fenholt, who played Jesus in the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and later recorded a few demos with Black Sabbath. Pope Paul VI might have loved the musical, but a Christian builder who did work on Fenholt’s house didn’t. After the builder reprimanded Fenholt for his portrayal of Jesus on the stage (and, I hope, for his horrible singing), the singer-actor converted to Christianity, kicked his various addictions, and ended up having a show on the televangelist exploitation machine Trinity Broadcasting Network. Among all the conservative brylcreem conservatives, Fenholt sported long hair (like Jesus). But don’t let the long hair fool you: Fenholt was a conservative himself, and towards the end of his life a Trumpian on the deplorable end of that deplorable scale.

The Testament
Earlier this year, country singer Kylie Rae Harris recorded a song for her six-year-old daughter, in case of her death. Twenty Years From Now refers to a road trip and the hope of seeing what the next two decades would bring. In light of Harris’ death at 30 in a car accident (which also killed a teenager and was caused by he singer), the song breaks your heart.

 

Laurent Sinclair, 58, composer, keyboardist with French new wave band Taxi Girl, on Sept. 2
Taxi Girl – Mannequin (1980)

Les Adams, 63, English producer, DJ with dance music outfit L.A. Mix, on Sept. 2
L.A. Mix – Check This Out (1988)

LaShawn Daniels, 41, R&B songwriter and producer, in car crash on Sept. 3
Monica & Brandy – The Boy Is Mine (1998)
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Jazzy Bass remix) (1999, as co-writer)

Dan Warner, session guitarist and songwriter, on Sept. 4
MIKA – Grace Kelly (2006, as co-writer)

Kylie Rae Harris, 30, country singer, in car crash on Sept. 4
Kylie Rae Harris – Twenty Years From Now (2019)

Jimmy Johnson, 76, session guitarist, engineer and producer, on Sept. 5
Solomon Burke – Uptight Good Woman (1969, as co-writer and on guitar)
The Staple Singers – If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
Muscle Shoals Horns – Hustle To The Music (1976, as member)
Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More Time (1977, as producer)

Camilo Sesto, 72, Spanish singer-songwriter, on Sept. 8
Camilo Sesto – Algo Más (1973)

Lavrentis Machairitsas, 62, Greek rock musician, on Sept. 9

Gru, 46, Serbian rapper, in paragliding accident on Sept. 9
Gru – Biću tu (1996)

Hossam Ramzy, 65, Egyptian percussionist and composer, on Sept. 10
Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt (1992, on the surdu)
Hossam Ramzy – Samya’s Solo (2000)

Jeff Fenholt, 68, musician, actor and televangelist, on Sept. 10
Jeff Fenholt – Gethsemane (1971, as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar)

Torsten Schmidt, singer of German rock band Virus D, on Sept. 10

Daniel Johnston, 58, cult singer-songwriter, on Sept. 11
Daniel Johnston – Impossible Love (2001)

Eddie Money, 70, rock singer-songwriter, on Sept. 13
Eddie Money – Two Tickets To Paradise (1977)
Eddie Money – Take Me Home Tonight (1986, with Ronnie Spector)
Eddie Money – I’ll Get By (1991)

Mick Schauer, keyboardist of hard rock band Clutch, on Sept. 14
Clutch – Mr. Shiny Cadillackness (2007)

Ric Ocasek, 75, singer-songwriter with The Cars, producer, on Sept. 15
The Cars – My Best Friend’s Girl (1978)
The Cars – Magic (1984)
The Cars – Heartbeat City (1985, at Live Aid)
Weezer – Buddy Holly (1994, as producer)

Roberto Leal, 67, Portuguese-Brazilian singer, on Sept. 15
Roberto Leal – Fim dos tempos (1976)

Vic Vogel, 84, Canadian jazz pianist, composer and conductor, on Sept. 16

John Cohen, 87, folk musician and musicologist, on Sept. 16
New Lost City Ramblers – No Depression In Heaven (1959, as member)

Hans Ingemansson, 54, keyboardist of Swedish group The Creeps, screenwriter, on Sept. 17
The Creeps – Smash! (1990)

Tony Mills, 57, singer of English hard-rock groups Shy, TNT, on Sept. 18
Shy – Can’t Fight The Nights (1987, also as co-writer)

Larry Wallis, 70, English rock guitarist with Pink Fairies, Motörhead (1975-76), on Sept. 19
Larry Wallis – Police Car (1977)

María Rivas, 59, Venezuelan Latin jazz singer, on Sept. 19
Maria Rivas – El Motorizado (1991)

Harold Mabern, 83, jazz pianist and composer, on Sept. 19
Betty Carter – This Is Always (1964, on piano)

Sandie Jones, 68, Irish singer, on Sept. 19
Sandie Jones – Ceol An Ghra (1972)

Yonrico Scott, 63, drummer with The Derek Trucks Band, on Sept. 20
Derek Trucks Band – Something To Make You Happy (2009, on drums and percussion)

Leigh “Little Queenie” Harris, 65, singer of Li’l Queenie & the Percolators, on Sept. 21

Robert Hunter, 78, lyricist of the Grateful Dead and musician, on Sept. 23
Grateful Dead – Ripple (1970, as lyricist)
Robert Hunter – Yellow Moon (1975)
Bob Dylan – Silvio (1988, as lyricist)
Counting Crows – Friend Of The Devil (2003, as lyricist)

Richard Brunelle, 55, death metal guitarist with Morbid Angel, Paths of Possession, on Sept. 23

Jim DeSalvo, 53, producer and composer, traffic collision on Sept. 23

Bob Esty, 72, disco producer, arranger writer, musician, on Sept. 27
Donna Summer – I Love You (1977, as arranger, keyboardist, percussionist, backing singer)
Barbra Streisand – The Main Event (1979, as co-writer, producer, arranger)
Cher – Take Me Home (1979, as co-writer, producer, arranger, backing singer)
Pointer Sisters – We’ve Got The Power (1980, as writer)

Jimmy Spicer, 61, American rapper, on Sept. 27
Jimmy Spicer – Money (Dollar Bill Y’all) (1982)

José José, 71, Mexican singer and actor, on Sept. 28

Dessie O’Halloran, 79, Irish fiddler, on Sept. 28
Dessie O’Halloran – Say You Love Me (2004)

busbee, 43, songwriter, producer, musician, label executive, on Sept. 29
Lady Antebellum – Our Kind Of Love (2010, as writer)

Louie Rankin, 55, Jamaican-born Canadian reggae artist and actor, in car crash on Sept. 30
Louie Rankin – Typewriter (1992)

Jessye Norman, 74, soprano, on Sept. 30
Jessye Norman – There Is A Man Going Round (1978)
Jessye Norman – In The Still Of The Night (1984)
Jessye Norman – Les Moulins De Mon Cœur (The Windmills Of Your Mind) (2000)

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In Memoriam – August 2019

September 3rd, 2019 4 comments

Among those we lost in August was Kris Kristofferson’s long time keyboardist, who also wrote a few great songs along the way, the guy who put together the Village People, a pioneering black woman trumpeter, and an actor who put out a couple of records…

The Village Person
The inventor of The Village People has departed for the great discotheque in the sky. Morocco-born French writer, producer and concert promoter Henri Belolo first had success in the 1960s as a producer for acts like Georges Moustaki and F.R. David. He then had success with the disco trio The Ritchie Family, and hit paydirt when he put together The Village People, for whom he produced and co-wrote big hits such as Y.M.C.A., In The Navy, Macho Man, and Go West. Later, Belolo co-wrote and executive produced Eartha Kitt’s HiNRG number Where Is My Man and the early breakdance anthem Street Dance by Break Machine. He also executive produced Patrick Juvet’s disco hit I Love America.

 

KK’s Keyboardist
Keyboardist and songwriter Donnie Fritts got shout-outs on record by two music legends: Kris Kristofferson (on The Pilgrim-Chapter 33) and Tony Joe White (on Pissin’ In The Wind). Fritts played with Kristofferson for four decades, and appeared in three movies starring KK. He co-wrote Kristofferson’s classic Border Lord. Fritts also co-wrote classics such as Breakfast In Bed (for Dusty Springfield; later a regrettable hit for UB 40 and Chrissie Hynde), Choo Choo Train (Box Tops), We Had It All (Dolly Parton and loads others), You’re Gonna Love Yourself in The Morning (Bonnie Koloc; Charlie Rich), and the great murder ballad Rainbow Road, which was first recorded by soul singer Bill Brandon (featured on Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1) and was later covered by many singers, including Joe Simon, Percy Sledge, Steve Goodman, Arthur Alexander, and Joan Baez.

 

The SNL Director
Soul fans from the 1980s might remember Katreese Barnes as half of the brother-sister duo Juicy (I bought the featured track in 1986, and had it on my shortlist for A Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 1). But she became better known as the musical director on Saturday Night Live, winning two Emmys for Justin Timberlake cameos, 2006’s Dick In A Box (with The Lonely Island) and 2010’s compulsively rewatchable I’m Not Gonna Sing Tonight. Barnes died at only 56 of breast cancer.

The Trumpet Pioneer
Jazz was a man’s game when Clora Bryant made her career, and women on the trumpet or behind the drums were very rare. Bryant, whose reputation rests on her trumpeting skills, was a member of the first integrated female jazz ensemble, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, in the mid-1940s. Mentored by Dizzy Gillespie, she backed the likes of Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong and Harry James. In 1951, her The Queens of Swing became the first female jazz band to appear on US television. In 1957 released her only solo album, Gal With A Horn, and after that was a touring musician. That culminated in Mikhail Gorbachev inviting her to become the first woman jazz musician to tour in the Soviet Union in 1989.

 

The Woodstock Vet
Just a few days after the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, Canned Heart bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor died at 77. Taylor performed with Canned Heat at Monterrey and Woodstock. In 1970, Taylor left Canned Heat to play with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and in 1974 joined The Hollywood Fats Band. But he always came back to Canned Heat whenever there was a call for him, touring with the band as recently as 2009-13. He also worked as a session bassist for acts such as The Monkees (including on Last Train To Clarksville and The Monkees Theme), Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson, Leo Kottke, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Ry Cooder, JJ Cale, Bruce Cockburn, Buddy Guy, Tracy Chapman, and Tom Waits (on all his 1980s albums).

 

The Easy Rider
And it was during the anniversary of Woodstock that another icon of the counterculture died in actor Peter Fonda. The Easy Rider actor merits inclusion in the music In Memoriam on strength of his two records, in 1967 under his own name (with a Gram Parsons song co-produced by Hugh Masekela!) and a 1977 effort brought out under the moniker Bobby Ogden, his character in the movie Outlaw Blues, and written by Joan Oates (Hall’s sidekick). Fonda isn’t terrible, but it’s safe to say that Fonda’s thespian career represented no substantial loss to the world of music.

 

Ian Gibbons, 67, keyboardist of The Kinks (1979-89), on Aug. 1
The Kinks – Lola (live, 1980)
The Kinks – Don’t Forget To Dance (1983)

Katreese Barnes, 56, soul singer; former SNL musical director, on Aug. 3
Juicy – Beat Street Strut (1984)
Juicy – Sugar Free (1985)
Lonely Island with Justin Timberlake – Dick In A Box (2006)

Damien Lovelock, 65, singer of Australian rock band Celibate Rifles, on Aug. 3
The Celibate Rifles – Sometimes (I Wouldn’t Live Here If You Payed Me) (1984)

Joe Longthorne, 64, English singer and impressionist, on Aug. 3
Joe Longthorne – Hurt (1988)

Willi Tokarev, 84, Russian-US singer-songwriter, on Aug. 4

Bob Wilber, 91, jazz clarinetist and bandleader, on Aug. 4
Bob Wilber and His Wildcats – Willie The Weeper (1947)

Henri Belolo, 82, French producer and songwriter, on Aug. 5
Georges Moustaki – Le Métèque (1969, as producer)
Ritchie Family – American Generation (1978, as co-writer)
Village People – Go West (1979, as co-writer)
Break Machine – Street Dance (1983, as co-writer)

Jimi Hope, 62, Togolese musician, on Aug. 5

Lizzie Grey, 60, hard rock singer, guitarist, songwriter, on Aug. 5
Mötley Crüe- Public Enemy #1 (1981, as co-writer)
Spiders & Snakes – So Far So Good (1993)

Paul Grace, 63, member of Canadian dance collective Boomtang Boys, on Aug. 7
Boomtang – 59 Ways To Funk (2002, as co-producer, co-writer)

David Berman, 52, singer-songwriter of indie band Silver Jews, on Aug. 7
Silver Jews – Random Rules (1998)

Francesca Sundsten, 59, bassist of art-punk band The Beakers, on Aug. 7
The Beakers – Football Season Is In Full Swing (1980)

Nicky Wonder, 59, guitarist of pop band The Wondermints, Brian Wilson, on Aug. 7
The Wondermints – So Nice (2002)

Danny Doyle, 79, Irish folk singer, on Aug. 7
Danny Doyle – The Rare Old Times (1977)

Erling Wicklund, 75, Norwegian jazz trombonist, on Aug. 8

Claudio Taddei, 52, Urugayan Swiss rock singer and artist, on Aug. 9
Claudio Taddei – Estoy Contento, Nena (1995)

Jim Cullum Jr., 77, jazz cornetist, on Aug. 11
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band – Shake That Thing (2007)

DJ Arafat, 33, Ivorian DJ and musician, in motorcycle crash on Aug. 12

Claire Cloninger, 77, Christian contemporary music songwriter, on Aug. 15

Peter Fonda, 79, actor and occasional singer, on Aug. 16
Peter Fonda – November Night (1967)
Bobby Ogden (alias Peter Fonda) – Outlaw Blues (1977)

Larry ‘The Mole’ Taylor, 77, bassist of Canned Heat, on Aug. 19
The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966, on bass)
Canned Heat – Down In The Gutter But Free (1969, on lead guitar)
Canned Heat – A Change Is Gonna Come (live at Woodstock) (1969)
Tom Waits – Jockey Full Of Bourbon (1985, on double bass)

Fred Rister, 58, French producer, composer, remixer, DJ, on Aug. 20

Timothy Walsh, guitarist of English rock band Northside, announced Aug. 20
Northside – My Rising Star (1990)

Billy Bacon, singer, bassist and songwriter of The Flying Pigs, on Aug. 20
Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs – Una Mas Cerveza (1988)

Celso Piña, 66, Mexican cumbia singer, accordionist, composer, on Aug. 21
Celso Piña – Cumbia Sobre El Río (Suena) (2001)

Hubert ‘Tex’ Arnold, 74, pianist, arranger, music director and composer, on Aug. 22

Clora Bryant, 92, jazz trumpeter, drummer and singer, on Aug. 23
The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm – She’s Crazy With The Heat (1945)
Clora Bryant – This Can’t Be Love (1957)

Anne Grete Preus, 62, Norwegian rock singer, on Aug. 25

Isaac ‘Bro Mnca’ Mtshali, drummer of South African afro-pop band Stimela, on Aug. 25
Stimela – Where Did We Go Wrong (1986)

Neal Casal, 50, guitarist, songwriter, singer (Ryan Adams & the Cardinals), on Aug. 26
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Follow The Lights (2007)
Neal Casal – White Fence Round House (2011)

Donnie Fritts, 76, keyboardist and songwriter, on Aug 27
Dusty Springfield – Breakfast In Bed (1969, as co-writer)
Kris Kristofferson – The Pilgrim Chapter 33 (1971, on keyboard; gets namecheck)
Arthur Alexander – Rainbow Road (1972, as co-writer)
Donnie Fritts – You’re Gonna Love Yourself (In The Morning) (1974)

Paz Undurraga, 89, Chilean singer and composer, on Aug. 28

Nancy Holloway, 86, US-born France-based soul-pop singer and actress, on Aug. 28
Nancy Holloway – T’en vas pas comme ça (1963)

Jimmy Pitman, 72, singer and guitarist with Strawberry Alarm Clock, on Aug. 29
Strawberry Alarm Clock – Good Morning Starshine (1969)

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