Archive for the ‘In Memoriam’ Category

In Memoriam – June 2024

July 4th, 2024 2 comments

As promised, the current lot of music deaths includes those who died after I posted in In Memoriam: May 2024.

Parental advisory: don’t play the 2 Live Crew track around children, your mom or others who are offended by explicit lyrics, which might include you (why is everybody so easily offended by stuff these days?).

I saw it reported on Facebook that Lou Lewis, guitarist of Scottish power pop band The Headboys, has died. If so, then he’d be the third member to pass away in successive years, leaving only keyboardist Calum Malcolm behind. However, I could find no confirmation of Lou’s death…

The French Goddess
In the 1960s, Françoise Hardy was the dream woman for the discerning man, one whose sex appeal was predicated as much on her beauty as it was on her French coolness.

Hardy had the ethereal, sometimes melancholic voice of the chanteuse, but she cut her teeth in the ye-ye genre, the French pop of the early-to-mid 1960s. She also had some success across the border as a singer of German songs. As she grew out of all that, Hardy effortlessly merged chanson, pop and folk to create a stylish sound, which was accompanied by lyrics, many written by herself, that often were personal and reflective. As a female artist who explored serious themes that reflected the changing culture, Hardy was a trailblazer for her generation.

The Soul Songstress
Being of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, Angela Bofill broke barriers as one of the first Latina women to record success in soul music.  A talented singer-songwriter, Bofill scored hits with tracks like This Time I’ll Be Sweeter, I Try, Angel Of The Night, Tonight I Give In, and I Just Wanna Stop. She was also an accomplished jazz singer and composer.

In 2006 and 2007 she suffered strokes which required long rehabilitation processes, with benefit concerts held to assist Bofill with the bills.

The Hitwriter
For many people, Suspicious Minds is their favourite Elvis Presley song. The song was written and originally recorded by Mark James, who has died at 83. The story of Suspicious Minds is told in The Originals: Elvis Presley Vol. 2. Elvis later also recorded the James songs Always On My Mind (originally recorded by Brenda Lee, and a hit for Willie Nelson and for the Pet Shop Boys), Raised On A Rock, It’s Only Love, and Moody Blue, the title track of his final album.

The Texan, born as Francis Zambon, had his first taste of success with Hooked On A Feeling, a song first recorded and taken to #5 in the US pop charts by his childhood friend B.J. Thomas (later also a hit for Blue Swede). Hooked On A Feeling was inspired by James’ high school sweetheart Karen Taylor — who also inspired Suspicious Minds. James also wrote Brenda Lee’s hit Sunday Sunrise.

The Selecter
At the vanguard of the great ska revival of the late 1970s and early ’80s was Coventry’s The Selecter. The band’s co-lead singer Gaps Hendrickson has now died 73. In the band, Gaps tended to operate as second lead behind Pauline Black, but his energetic stage presence lifted the band’s live performances.

The Selecter split in 1982. Subsequent revivals created rival iterations, one led by Black, the other by guitarist and chief songwriter Neol Davis; Gaps joined Team Black, retiring only after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

The Trumpeter
Last week I was looking at the records which keyboard legend Greg Phillinganes had appeared on (yes, for a future Collection). Literally two hours later I had cause to look at the credits accumulated by session trumpeter Gary Grant — for this post, since he has died — and came across loads of records on which he and Phillinganes had played (at one point I double-checked that I wasn’t reading the latter’s list of credits).

Among those credits are Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Thriller, Wanna Be Startin’ Something, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, and Brothers Johnson’s Stomp. Grant also played on one of my favourite late-’70s soul tracks, Cheryl Lynn’s You’re The One (featured on the Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2), and on dance classics like Donna Summer’s Bad Girls and Teena Marie’s Behind The Groove. He was part of the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section on the Faces and Raise albums, played on various Lionel Richie songs, including the gorgeous You Are, on Toto’s Rosanna (featured on Any Major Life in Vinyl 1982), on almost all tracks on Al Jarreau’s excellent eponymous 1983 album (including Boogie Down), on Michael McDonald’s Sweet Freedom, on Teddy Pendergrass’ Joy, and so much more.

I could make a list of the most significant artists Grant played for, but that list would exceed a hundred names…

The Satirist
Few people can make a career out of being a Jew in Texas, but Kinky Friedman achieved that in the 1970s with his provocatively named band The Texas Jewboys. Friedman’s countercultural songs were often satirical — much like those of his contemporary John Prine; both wrote songs titled Dear Abby — and referred to his Jewish background with titles like They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore and Ride ’Em Jewboy. Friedman  hated bigots, but as an equal opportunity offender, he also had ways of annoying the left, especially feminists.

Aside from music, Friedman was a writer of satirical mystery novels, and tried his hand at politics, running as an independent for Texas’ governorship in 2006, getting 12% of the vote, coming fourth out of six candidates.

The Producer
As June ended, news came of the death of producer Peter Collins at 73. Born in 1951 in Reading, England, Collins tried his hand at being a folk singer, releasing a debut album while still a teenager in 1970. Optimistically titled First Album, it was also the last, and Collins moved behind the scenes.

In the 1980s he became the producer of hits such as Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie; The Piranhas’ Tom Hark; Matchbox’s Rockabilly Rebel; The Belle Stars’ The Clapping Song; Nik Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good, I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, The Riddle, Don Quixote, and Wide Boy; The Lambretta’s Poison Ivy; Tracy Ullman’s Breakaway and They Don’t Know; Blancmange’s The Day Before You Came; Matt Bianco’s Half A Minute, Whose Side Are You On, and Sneaking Out The Back Door; Gary Moore & Phil Lynott’s Out In The Fields; Gary Moore’s Empty Rooms and Over The Hills And Far Away; and Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid. For Rush he produced the hit albums Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. Between 1992 and 2011 he co-produced six albums of the Indigo Girls.

Other acts he produced for include Bon Jovi, Billy Squire, UK Subs, Shakin’ Stevens, Air Supply, Alvin Stardust, Queensrÿche, Freddie McGregor, Nanci Griffith, Tom Jones, Wax, Jane Wiedlin, The Cardigans,  Voice Of The Beehive, Divinyls, Shawn Mullins, Heather Nova, Kenny Loggins, Lisa Loeb, Jewel, LeeAnn Rimes, Carbon Leaf, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Rick Astley, among others.

The Rap-Rocker
I have dedicated a whole series to the concept of not feeling guilty about enjoying music, but there are some songs which I’d not easily volunteer to admit liking. So it takes the death — at the absurdly young age of 49 — of Shifty Shellshock of alt.rock band Crazy Town for me to publicly confess that I like their one big hit, 2001’s Butterfly. Spin called it a “nu metal power ballad”; I like that description.

I recall watching the video at the time, and noting the singer’s abundance of tattoos, introducing me to the notion of sleeves before that was really a thing (though by today’s standards, Shifty was showing restraint). It certainly did nothing to inspire me to acquire a tat, but Shifty blazed a trail for illustrated men and women everywhere. And then there was all the metal attached to his face; I hope he took great care around magnets.

By all accounts, Shifty — known to Mother Shellshock as Seth Binzer — was a lovely kind of fellow who enjoyed playing practical jokes. His long struggles with addiction eventually killed him, via an accidental drug overdose.

The Golden Age Actress
With the death of Janis Paige at the age of 101, one of the last stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood has left us. Born on September 16, 1922, as Donna Mae Tjaden, she started appearing on stage at the age of 5 at amateur shows. After leaving school, she went to Hollywood as a singer and a pin-up model.

Paige appeared in her first movie in 1944, and subsequently also performed on Broadway (including in the original cast of the 1954 musical The Pajama Game) and TV (starring in her own sitcom in 1955-56, It’s Always Jan). She released an album of standards in 1956, by virtue of which she finds inclusion in this post.

Her last movie appearance was in 1994; her last TV role in 2001.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Kiane Zawadi, 91, jazz trombonist and euphonium player, on May 21
Hank Mobley – Cute ‘N Pretty (1979, on euphonium)

Mark Gormley, 67, singer-songwriter, on May 24

Ghigo Agosti, 87, Italian rock & roll singer-songwriter, on May 27
Ghigo Agosti – Coccinella (1958)

Rodger Fox, 71, New Zealand jazz trombonist and bandleader, on May 27

Gustavo Mullem, 72, guitarist of Brazilian rock band Camisa de Vênus, on May 28
Camisa de Vênus – Controle Total (1982)

John Schweers, 78, country songwriter, on May 28
Charley Pride – Amazing Love (1973, as writer)

Brian Humphries, British sound engineer, on May 29
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975, as engineer)

Mansour Seck, 69, Senegalese singer and musician, on May 29
Mansour Seck – Sanu (1997)

Cayouche, 75, Canadian singer-songwriter, on May 29
Cayouche – Letter From Home (2010)

Doug Dagger, 56, singer of punk band The Generators, on May 30
The Generators – Roll Out The Red Carpet (2003)

Ed Mann, 69, drummer, percussionist and keyboardist for Frank Zappa, on May 31
Frank Zappa – Dancin’ Fool (1979, on percussions and backing vocals)

Harry van Hoof, 81, composer, arranger, Eurovision conductor, on June 1
Mouth & MacNeal – How Do You Do (1972, as co-writer)

Tony Bramwell, 78, Beatles tour manager, Apple exec, producer, on June 2
Swampfox – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1972, as producer)

Colin Gibb, 70, member of British pop novelty act Black Lace, on June 2
Black Lace – Superman (1982)

Janis Paige, 101, actress and singer, on June 2
Janis Paige – Day In Day Out (1944)
Janis Paige – Let’s Fall In Love (1957)

Brother Marquis, 58, rapper with 2 Live Crew, on June 3
The 2 Live Crew – Me So Horny (1989, also as co-writer)

C.Gambino, 26, Swedish rapper, shot on June 4

Ranch Sironi, 32, bassist of stoner rock band Nebula, on June 5

Rosalina Neri, 96, Italian actress and singer, on June 5

Rose-Marie, 68, Northern Irish singer and TV personality, announced June 7
Rose-Marie – When I Leave The World Behind (1983)

Mark James, 83, songwriter, producer and singer, on June 8
B.J. Thomas – Hooked On A Feeling (1968, as writer and producer)
Mark James – Suspicious Minds (1968, also as writer)
Elvis Presley – Moody Blue (1977, as writer)
Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind (1987, as writer)

Alex Riel, 83, Danish jazz and rock drummer, on June 9

Françoise Hardy, 80, French singer-songwriter, on June 11
Françoise Hardy – Tous les garcons et les filles (1962)
Françoise Hardy – Ich bin nun mal ein Mädchen (1965)
Françoise Hardy – Song Of Winter (1970)
Françoise Hardy & Jacques Dutronc – Puisque vous partez en voyage (2000)

Gaps Hendrickson, 73, co-lead singer of British ska group The Selecter, on June 11
The Selecter – Too Much Pressure (1979)
The Selecter – Tell Me What’s Wrong (1980, also as writer)

Enchanting, 26, rapper, on June 11

Adam Lewis, 45, bassist of pop-punk group FenixTX, announced June 11
FenixTX – All My Fault (1999)

Axel Kühn, 60, German jazz saxophonist and composer, on June 11

Mark Carr Pritchett, David Bowie collaborator, on June 12
The Arnold Corns – Moonage Daydream (1971, as member on guitar)

Johnny Canales, 81, Mexican Tejano singer and TV host, on June 12

Angela Bofill, 70, soul singer and songwriter, on June 13
Angela Bofill – This Time I’ll Be Sweeter (1978)
Angela Bofill – Still In Love (1986)
Angela Bofill – Heavenly Love (1993, also as writer)

Pepe Guerra, 80, guitarist of Uruguayan folk duo Los Olimareños, on June 13
Los Olimareños – Nuestro camino (1984)

Skowa, 68, singer-songwriter with Brazilian samba-rock band Trio Mocotó, on June 13
Trio Mocotó – Capcaloei (2004)

Nahim, 71, Brazilian singer, on June 13

Ivana Pino Arrellano, 32 Chilean country singer, in car accident on June 15

Buzz Cason, 84, singer, songwriter, producer, on June 16
Robert Knight – Everlasting Love (1967, as co-writer)
Buzz Cason – Adam & Eve (1968)

Graham Dowdall (Gagarin), 70, British percussionist, composer, arranger, on June 16
Nico + The Faction – Into The Arena (1985, as member on percussions and as arranger)

Paul Spencer, 53, musician with British dance act Dario G, on June 17
Dario G – Sunchyme (1997)

Lonnie Gasperini, 73, jazz organist and composer, on June 17

James Chance, 71, no wave saxophonist and singer, on June 18
James Chance & The Contortions – Twice Removed (1979)
James Chance & The Contortions – Super Bad (1981, rel. 1995)

Jan Cremer, 84, Dutch writer, painter and singer, on June 19

Matt Watts, 36, US-born Belgian-based singer songwriter, announced June 19
Matt Watts – Waking Up (2020)

Silvia Infantas, 101, Chilean folk singer and actress, on June 19

Chrystian, 67, Brazilian sertanejo singer, on June 19

James Polk, 83, jazz, funk and soul multi-instrumentalist and arranger, on June 21
James Polk & The Brothers – Just Plain Funk (1969)

Davie Duncan, lead singer of Scottish rockabilly band Shakin’ Pyramids, buried on June 21
Shakin’ Pyramids – Let’s Go (1983)

Julio Foolio, 26, rapper, shot dead on June 23
Foolio – Ion Need Love (2024)

Shifty Shellshock, 49, singer and songwriter with rap-rock band Crazy Town, on June 24
Crazy Town – Butterfly (2000, also as co-writer)
Paul Oakenfold feat. Shifty Shellshock – Starry Eyed Surprise (2002)

Fredl Fesl, 76, German novelty singer, on June 25

Ray St. Germain, 83, Canadian singer, TV host, politician, on June 25
Ray St. Germain – Métis (1978)

Jewel Brown, 86, jazz, soul and blues singer, on June 25
Jewel Brown – If You Have No Real Objections (1962)

John DeFrancesco, 83, jazz organist, on June 25

Gary Grant, trumpeter, composer and producer, on June 26
Woody Herman – MacArthur Park (1969, on trumpet)
Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979, on trumpet)
Greg Phillinganes – Girl Talk (1981, on trumpet)
Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom (1986, on trumpet)

Kinky Friedman, 79, country musician, satirist, politician, on June 27
Kinky Friedman – We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You (1973)
Kinky Friedman – They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore (1974)

Martin Mull, 80, actor, comedian and singer-songwriter, on June 27
Martin Mull – Normal (1974)

Betty Veldpaus, 72, singer with Dutch pop group Pussycat, on June 28
Pussycat – Mississippi (1975)

Lucius Banda, 53, Malawian singer-songwriter and politician, on June 30

Peter Collins, 73, English producer, singer, announced June 30
Peter Collins – Get In A Boat (1970)
Piranhas – Tom Hark (1981, as producer)
Gary Moore – Empty Rooms (1984, as producer)
Indigo Girls – Least Complicated (1994, as co-producer)

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In Memoriam – May 2024

May 26th, 2024 8 comments

This month’s music deaths are listed in the actual month they left us. I wouldn’t be able to post the In Memoriam for May in the beginning of June, so I’ll cover the remaining deaths of May with those whom the Reaper will claim in June. But even without the stragglers, there are plenty of great stories to be told, involving a supporting cast as diverse as Bob Dylan, Albert Einstein and Walt Disney.

I have debated with myself whether to include a write-up about punk legend and trailblazing producer Steve Albini. I’ve decided not to, in light of certain revelations about an aspect of his life. Of course, such a write-up would have generously noted his pioneering role in the hugely influential punk outfit Big Black, and his production of albums such as the Pixies’ Surfer Risa and Nirvana’s In Utero, though Albini saw himself as a facilitator rather than a producer. It would have noted his feats in record engineering, and his general iconoclasm and courageous integrity on many issues that gave him such a dedicated fan base. But then there are those revelations. So, having noted the above, I still feel unable to put up a photo of the man.

The Sax Legend
It is a bit unfair that David Sanborn, who has died at 79, is often written off as a smooth jazz merchant, because he was a serious jazz fusion musician — when he wasn’t making the kind of smooth jazz music that got a bad name for the dull non-excesses of the Kenny G types. But at his best, Sanborn made beautiful jazz, smooth or not. Take the featured song, Seduction, from his 1980 Hideway album. It’s not exactly free jazz, but it is a gorgeous tune, delivered well. Sanborn, it may be noted, himself didn’t like the concept of “smooth jazz”.

Sanborn became a name in fusion in the 1970s as a member of the Brecker Brothers band and with a series of solo albums and broke through in 1980 with Hideaway. By then, he had made his bones as a session man, having started out as a member of The Butterfield Blues Band.

As a session man, he played for — deep breath now —  Stevie Wonder, James Brown (on Funky President), David Bowie (on the Young Americans album, including the title track), Bruce Springsteen (on Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out), The Rascals, B.B. King, Donny Hathaway, Todd Rundgren, Gil Evans, The Fabulous Rhinestones, O’Donel Levy (on Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky, which featured on the Me And Playboy mix), Miles Davis, Esther Phillips, Manhattan Transfer, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Michael Franks (including Monkey See-Monkey Do), Ron Carter, Hubert Laws, Bataan, Loudon Wainwright III, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Phoebe Snow, George Benson, Idris Muhammad, Maynard Ferguson, Bob James, Burt Bacharach, Alessi, Garland Jeffreys, Don McLean, Chaka Khan, JD Souther (on You’re Only Lonely), Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon (on You Belong To Me), Dr John, Tim Curry (on I Do The Rock, which featured on A Life In Vinyl 1980), Nils Lofgren, John McLaughlin, Bonnie Raitt, Eagles, Steely Dan and many more…

And that was just in the 1970s! Later, he played on tracks like Bill LaBounty’s wonderful Livin’ It Up (featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1), as well as for big hitters like Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Kenny Loggins, The Bee Gees, Roger Waters, Bryan Ferry, Toto, Roberta Flack (on the lovely Oasis), Eric Clapton, Al Jarreau (on So Good, which featured on Any Major Soul 1988/89), Randy Crawford (on her superior version of Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, which featured on Any Major Bob Dylan Songbook Vol. 3), and on the wonderful duets of Jarreau and Crawford on the Casino Lights album, which featured on mixes like Any Major Ashford & Simpson Songbook and Any Major Albums of 1982.

The Electric Light Keyboardist
The distinctive sound of the Electric Light Orchestra is usually attributed to Jeff Lynne, but its creation also owes much to Richard Tandy, who contributed group’s the characteristic keyboards and worked with Lynne to arrange the idiosyncratic strings in the studio recordings.

Tandy, who also played guitar, made his first contribution to a charting record through his old friend Bev Bevan, drummer of The Move, by contributing the harpsichord to the band’s UK #1 hit Blackberry Way. By 1970, The Move trio of Bevan, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, formed ELO as a side-project. After Wood decamped to form Wizzard, Tandy joined the band. With Lynne and Bevan, Tandy remained a constant member throughout the band’s hit-making career.

Besides his own projects, Tandy also collaborated on various projects by Lynne.

The Disney Tunesmith
Some of the finest songs from Disney films were written by the brothers Sherman. Now Richard M. Sherman has died at the age of 95, some 12 years after his long-estranged brother Robert. The sons of a well-known Tin Pan Alley songwriter are said to have produced more movie scores than any other songwriting team in history. Their scores and/or songs featured in films such as The Parent Trap, The Sword In The Stone, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, The Aristocats, Charlotte’s Web, The Slipper And The Rose, and more, as well ass many stage musical productions.

They won Oscars and Grammys for their Mary Poppins soundtrack, which included standards like A Spoonful Of Sugar, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and Chim-Chim-Cheree, which won the Best Song Oscar. Their Sister Suffragette featured in the In Memoriam for January 2024 to mark the death of Glynis Johns. Apparently Feed The Birds was Walt Disney’s favourite song.

Before Disney, the Sherman brothers wrote pop hits such as Your Sixteen (Johnny Burnette, and later Ringo Starr) and Tall Paul (for Anette Funcicello). Their song It’s A Small World (After All), written for the 1964 World Fair in New York City, is reportedly the most publicly performed song of all time, by virtue of being played on rides in all Disney theme parks.

Before the songwriting, Richard Sherman was a US soldier in World Way II, and was among the first US troops to enter Dachau concentration camp.

The Hard Rock Pioneer
With the death of lead singer Doug Ingle, the classic line-up of Iron Butterfly is now gone (a sentence I have to write more often these days, as I will again twice a couple of entries down). Iron Butterfly were greatly influential on all hard rock music of the 1970s.

Their centre-piece was the interminable In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which was written by Ingle in one night, while he was drunk on red wine. Drummer Ron Bushy wrote down the lyrics for Ingle to sing, but in his inebriated state, the singer slurred the words “in the Garden of Eden” as “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. And thus one of rock’s more mystifying song titles was born.

After Iron Butterfly split in 1971, Ingle had stints with the groups Stark Naked and Car Thieves, but he was no longer part of the Iron Butterfly when they reformed in 1974, or in subsequent reunions.

The Folk Influencer
Last month we lost the last of The Limeliters in Alex Hassilev; this month the last of another influential folk trio passed away. “Spider” John Koerner was the leader, guitarist and a vocalist of the folk-blues trio Koerner, Ray & Glover.

As an 18-year-old in 1956, Koerner began to study aeronautical engineering but dropped that to make music. Instead he formed a folk band with Dave Ray and Tony Glover in Minneapolis, with whom the gifted songwriter became a pioneering figure in the folk born of the early 1960s. In Minneapolis, Koerner took a youngster under his wing who soon would make his mark in New York under the name of Bob Dylan. They sometimes performed as a duo, and Dylan remembered Koerner fondly in his autobiography.

Koerner recorded three studio albums with Ray & Glover, as well as collaborations with others, and several solo sets. Folk experts rate Koerner’s influence on folk and guitar-playing highly, crediting him with being able to fuse folk and blues in an original way, rather than simply copying existing blues styles.

The Hit Drummer
In the mid-1940s, a man was stranded in a boat that had run out of gas. Luckily, a passing woman was able to help the hapless fellow to the shore, while he held her infant in his arms. The luckless sailor was Albert Einstein; the infant future rock drummer John Barbata.

Barbata went on to have a bunch of hits as the drummer of The Turtles, including the classic Happy Together. The band was part of the Laurel Canyon scene (see Any Major Laurel Canyon), so when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fired drummer Dallas Taylor in 1970, Barbata was roped in. He played on eight of their albums, as well as on records by the individual members. Being with CSN&Y, Barbata turned down an offer to join the upcoming band Eagles.

In the interim, he joined Jefferson Airplane in 1972, and made the transition to Jefferson Starship. In between, he played sessions for the likes of Ry Cooder, JD Souther, John Sebastian, Judee Sill, The Everly Brothers, PF Sloan, Linda Ronstadt, Dave Mason, and (unreleased) Joni Mitchell.

His time with Jefferson Starship ended in 1978, when Barbata broke his neck, arm and jaw in 32 pieces in a car crash. With that, he retired from the music industry, though he still recorded and performed on the side.

The Machine Gun
In February we lost Wayne Kramer of the seminal proto-punk group MC5. Now drummer Dennis Thompson has died at 75 — which means that the classic MC5 line-up is now all gone.

Thompson, who joined the band in 1965, was known as “Machine Gun” for his ferocious drumming, which would come to influence the punk movement that followed in MC5’s trail, as well as metal drummers.

The Arranging Saxophonist
Having made his recording debut as a 22-year-old in 1949, jazz saxophonist Bill Holman’s career as a musician, composer and arranger spanned seven decades, during which he released his own albums and worked with some of the biggest names in jazz. And he arranged a number of pop hits as well.

His career as a sideman was most closely tied to Stan Kenton, but he also played with the likes of Chet Baker, Bud Shank, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Terry Gibbs, Maynard Ferguson, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, Buddy Bregman, and others.

He also arranged and/or composed for many of them, as well as for Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Louie Bellson, Sarah Vaughn, Anita O’Day, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Buddy Rich, Zoot Sims, and others.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Holman also did arrangements, usually alongside Bones Howe and Bob Alcivar, for pop acts, especially several hits for The 5th Dimension, but also including the likes of The Monkees, The Association (Never My Love, Windy), The Sandpipers (Come Saturday Morning), and Seals & Croft. From the 1990s, he also arranged for Natalie Cole, Diane Schuur, Tony Bennett and Michael Bublé, among others.

Holman was involved in many Grammy-winning recordings, though he was personally awarded “only” three, out of 16 nominations.

The Yodeller
In the pop interregnum between Elvis’ conscription and the rise of The Beatles, Frank Ifield was one of the biggest stars in the UK, with his trademark yodel which punctuated his easy listening country fare. He peaked in 1962/63, when in the space of a year he scored five consecutive Top 5 hits, four of them hitting #1 — I Remember You (also a US #5), Lovesick Blues, Wayward Wind, and Confessin’. He’d reach the Top 10 one more time in 1964; by 1966 his time on the charts was over, other than a novelty dance remix of his song She Taught Me How To Yodel, renamed The Yodeling Song, in 1991.

Born in England, his Australian family had returned home in 1948, when Frank was 11. He grew up on a farm, listening to hillbilly music, while milking cows. Having recorded as few minor hits in Australia, he moved to England in 1959, returning home only in 1986.

The Vocal Coach
She released only three studio albums, but her work was mostly behind the scenes. Peggi Blu was best-known as an award-winning vocal coach, most visibly on American Idol, and as the 1986 winner of the TV talent show Star Search.

Blu did a lot of backing vocals for some big names, including Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Esther Phillips, Elkie Brooks, Stephanie Mills, The Weather Girls, Quincy Jones, Tracy Chapman (on Freedom Now), The Manhattans, Kylie Minogue, Leonard Cohen, Aaron Neville, Young M.C., among others. She also was one of several backing singers on the Irene Cara hit Fame, alongside Luther Vandross.

Blu released three albums between 1980 and 2002. Her 1987 set Blu Blowin’ was a very good collection which merited greater success than it achieved.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Richard Tandy, 76, English keyboardist of ELO, announced May 1
The Move – Blackberry Way (1968, on harpsichord)
Electric Light Orchestra – Evil Woman (1975)
Electric Light Orchestra – Confusion (1979)
Tandy & Morgan – Suddenly (1986)

Richard Maloof, 84, bassist, tuba player in Lawrence Welk orchestra, on May 1

Gary Floyd, 71, singer of punk band Dicks, on May 2
Dicks – Sidewalk Begging (1984)

John Pisano, 92, jazz guitarist, on May 2
John Pisano & Billy Bean – Take Your Pick (1958)
Sam Cooke – (Ain’t That) Good News (1964, on guitar)

Jim Mills, 57, bluegrass banjo player, on May 3
Dolly Parton – Little Sparrow (2001, on banjo)

Ken Brader, 70, jazz trumpeter, on May 4

Ron Kavana, 73, Irish singer-songwriter, on May 4
Ron Kavana & The Alias Acoustic Band – Reconciliation (2005)

Miroslav Imrich, 71, singer of Czech rock band Abraxas, on May 4

Willie Hona, 70, ex-guitarist of New Zealand reggae band Herbs, on May 5
Herbs – Slice Of Heaven (1986)

Eric ‘E.T.’ Thorngren, producer and engineer, on May 6
Squeeze – Hourglass (1987, as co-producer, arranger and engineer)

Bill Holman, 96, jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger, on May 6
Stan Kenton and His Orchestra – Bags And Baggage (1952, on tenor saxophone)
Bill Holman – Far Down Below (1958, also as composer, conductor and producer)
The 5th Dimension – One Less Bell To Answer (1970, as co-arranger)
Diane Schuur – Deed I Do (1991, as arranger and conductor)

Christiane Stefanski, 74, Belgian singer, on May 6

Wayland Holyfield, 82, country songwriter, on May 6
Don Williams – You’re My Best Friend (1975, as writer)

Steve Albini, 61, punk musician with Big Black, producer and engineer, on May 7
Big Black – He’s A Whore (1987)
Pixies – Where Is My Mind (1988, as producer and engineer)
Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box (1993, as producer and engineer)

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, 88, Polish jazz musician, composer and arranger, on May 7

Phil Wiggins, 69, harmonica player of blues duo Cephas & Wiggins, on May 7
Bowling Green John Cephas & Harmonica Phil Wiggins – Police Dog Blues (1989)

John Barbata, 79, drummer of The Turtles, CSNY, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, on May 8
The Turtles – Elenore (1968)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Ohio (live) 1971, on drums)
Jefferson Starship – Miracles (1975, as member)

Conrad Kelly, 65, Jamaican ex-drummer of UK reggae band Steel Pulse, on May 8
Steel Pulse – Settle The Score (1997)

Giovanna Marini, 87, Italian singer-songwriter, on May 8
Giovanna Marini – Persi le forze mie (1976)

Suzette Lawrence, 66, singer-songwriter, on May 9

Dennis Thompson, 75, drummer of MC5, on May 9
MC5 – Looking At You (1970)
MC5 – Over And Over (1971)

Fred Noonan, drummer of Australian swamp rock group Six Ft Hick, on May 9

David Sanborn, 78, jazz and session alto saxophonist, on May 12
Stevie Wonder – Tuesday Heartbreak (1971, on alto sax)
David Sanborn – The Seduction (Love Theme) (1980)
Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong (1982, on alto sax)
Bob James & David Sanborn – Maputo (1989)

Enrico Musiani, 86, Italian singer, on May 13

Christian Escoudé, 76, French gypsy jazz guitarist, on May 13
Christian Escoudé & Jean-Charles Capon – Gousti (1980)

Mélanie Renaud, 42, Canadian singer, on May 14

Jimmy James, 83, Jamaican-British singer, on May 14
Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – Ain’t Love Good, Ain’t Love Proud (1966)
Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me (1976)

John Hawken, 84, English keyboardist, on May 15
Nashville Teens – Tobacco Road (1964, as member)
Strawbs – Shine On Silver Sun (1973, as member)

Missinho, 64, singer with Brazilian Axé band Chiclete com Banana, on May 17

Jean-Philippe Allard, 67, French jazz producer, on May 17
John McLaughlin – Django (1995, as producer)
Abbey Lincoln – Black Berry Blossoms (2000, as producer)

Frank Ifield, 86, English-born Australian country singer, on May 18
Frank Ifield – I Remember You (1962)
Frank Ifield – Up Up And Away (1967)

John Koerner, 85, songwriter, guitarist, singer with folk trio Koerner, Ray & Glover, on May 18
Koerner, Ray & Glover – Black Dog (1964, on shared lead vocals)
‘Spider’ John Koerner – Spider Blues (1965, also as writer)
John Koerner & Willie Murphy – Running, Jumping, Standing Still (1969, also as co-writer)

Palle Danielsson, 77, Swedish jazz double bassist, on May 18

Jon Wysocki, 53, drummer of alt.rock group Staind, on May 18
Staind – It’s Been A While (2001)

Peggi Blu, 77, soul singer, American Idol vocal coach and judge, on May 19
Irene Cara – Fame (1980, on backing vocals)
Peggi Blu – Once Had Your Love (And I Can’t Let Go) (1987)
Tracy Chapman – Freedom Now (1989, on backing vocals)

Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, 71, Polish Oscar-winning film composer, on May 21
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek – The Peter Pan Overture (from Finding Neverland) (2005, as composer)

Charlie Colin, 58, ex-bassist of rock group Train, on May 22
Train – Drops Of Jupiter (2001)

Toni Montano, c.61, Serbian rock musician, on May 22

Doug Ingle, 78, ex-lead singer of Iron Butterfly, songwriter, on May 25
Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (single version) (1968, as writer)
Iron Butterfly – In The Times Of Our Lives (1969, also as co-writer)
Iron Butterfly – Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way) (1970, also as co-writer)

Richard M. Sherman, 95, American film songwriter, on May 25
Johnny Burnette – You’re Sixteen (1960, as co-writer)
Julie Andrews – A Spoonful Of Sugar (1964, as co-writer)
Louis Prima – I Wanna Be Like You (1967, as co-writer)

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In Memoriam – April 2024

May 3rd, 2024 2 comments

Here are the music deaths of April, with two guitar legends leaving us.

The Guitar Man
For many boomers born in the 1940s and early ‘50s, the sound of Duane Eddy’s twangy guitar is an echo of their childhood. Between 1958 and 1962 Eddy had a string of hits in the US and UK with his mostly instrumental rock & roll tracks.

Eddy’s sound prefigured the surf rock of the early 1960s; The Beach Boys lifted his riff from Movin’ n’ Groovin’, released in 1958, for Surfin’ USA (Eddy himself borrowed it from Chuck Berry’s Brown Eyed Handsome Man).

Eddy scored seven US Top 20 hits, from 1958’s Rebel Rouser (#6) to 1962’s (Dance With The) Guitar Man (#12). The latter was also the final of his six UK Top 10 hits. It featured The Blossoms (Fanita James, Jean King and Darlene Love) on vocals.

The Guitar Genius
Few rock guitarists could create their own distinctive sound as Dickey Betts did. When you heard that sound, you knew it was Betts. Perhaps his most famous composition, certainly in Britain, is the instrumental Jessica, which he wrote as a long-time member of the Allman Brothers Band. The track was used as the theme tune for the hugely popular and lamentably reactionary Top Gear show.

With Duane Allman, Betts redefined how two lead guitars can work together — just witness their solos on the wonderful Blue Sky, which Betts also wrote and took lead vocals on. First Duane plays his great solo (said to be the last thing he recorded before he died), then Betts comes in with his solo, and it is every bit Duane’s equal. It featured on Any Major Guitar Vol. 2.

Betts also wrote and sang the band’s big breakthrough hit Ramblin’ Man (featured on Any Major Southern Rock Vol. 1). In between the Allman work, Betts released some solo stuff. In 2000 he was fired from the band over his drug and alcohol use. He would never play with the band or any of its members again. Drummer Jaimoe Johanson is now the last survivor of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band.

The Croaker
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, who has died at 87, belonged to the group of R&B singer-pianists from New Orleans who managed to cross over into the mainstream (though nobody did it as comprehensively as Fats Domino). He also recorded a number of country records.

Henry, whose nickname Frogman referred to his trademark croak, had a national Top 20 hit with his first record, Ain’t Got No Home, in 1956, while still a teenager.

He went on to have two further Top 20 hits, a cover of Bobby Charles’ (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do (US #4; UK #3) and You Always Hurt The One You Love (US #12, UK #6). The former featured on Any Major Hits 1961.

The hits dried up, but in 1964 he still supported The Beatles on 18 dates during their US tour. For almost two decades he performed nightly in New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. Henry, who was married seven times, performed right up to his end; he was billed to appear at last month’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Alas, he died from complications after surgery on April 7.

The Moody Blue
With the death of keyboard player Mike Pinder at 82, all five original members of The Moody Blues are now dead (of the classic late-1960s/early 1970s line-up Justin Hayward and John Lodge are still with us). Pinder was with the band until 1978, writing several songs on which he took lead vocals. The recited poetry on some Moody Blues songs, written by Graeme Edge, were recited by Pinder.

On the Moody Blues most famous song, Nights In White Satin, Pinder’s mellotron created the orchestral sounds in the main body of the song (that in the beginning, final chorus and fade-out on the LP version, which features here, were by the London Festival Orchestra). Pinder also recited the Edge’s poetry in the album version of the song.

After the Moody Blues, Pinder emigrated to the US, and worked for Atari in the area of music synthesis. In the 1990s he released a second solo album, as well as making spoken-word recordings for children’s albums.

The Limeliter
With the death at 91 of Alex Hassilev, all the founder members of the pivotal folk trio The Limeliters are now gone. The group’s baritone and banjo player was predeceased by Louis Gottlieb in 1996 and the fascinating Glenn Yarbrough in 2016.

Between 1959 and ‘65, the trio had a few hits, but they were more successful as an albums act, at a time when albums, as a commercial proposition, were more commonly the domain of jazz and musical soundtracks. The Limeliters incorporated a lot of humour into their act, and while they were of the left-leaning scene, their political satire was relatively restrained.

They broke up in the mid-‘60s, and Hassilev recorded solo, but reunited and remained a long-running and popular live act.

The Soul Brother
Five brothers from New Bedford, Massachusetts created some of the sweetest soul music in the 1970s. Tavares were the brothers Ralph (who died in December 2021), Tiny, Chubby, Butch and Pooch. In April we lost Arthur ‘Pooch’ Tavares, who was 81.

Pooch didn’t take lead vocals on the group’s biggest hits, such as Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel, Check It Out or More Than A Woman, but his harmonies formed an important part of the whole. Pooch took lead on songs such as Penny For Your Thoughts, Love Calls, Right Back In Your Arms and Never Say Never Again.

The Gospel Singer
Gospel-soul singer Mandisa, who has died at the horribly young age of 47, was a fine performer in her genre; certainly good enough to win a Grammy. But the moment she will probably be remembered for most is her calling out the ghastly Simon Cowell when she was a contestant on American Idol in 2005. Cowell had made several demeaning comments about Mandisa’s weight.

At one point she told Cowell: “What I want to say to you is that, yes, you hurt me and I cried and it was painful, it really was. But I want you to know that I’ve forgiven you and that you don’t need someone to apologise in order to forgive somebody. I figure that if Jesus could die so that all of my wrongs could be forgiven, I can certainly extend that same grace to you.”

Cowell duly apologised and said that he was “humbled”, though you may decide for yourself whether that guy has the capacity for sincerity and humility, or whether his expression of regret was simply performative.

Mandisa didn’t win the talent show but made a good career, which came to a halt in 2014 when she suffered depression following the death of a close friend. She wrote her autobiography and released her final album, Out Of The Dark, in 2017.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Bill Briggs, keyboardist of garage rock band The Remains, on March 26
The Remains – Don’t Look Back (1966)

Michael Ward, 57, rock guitarist (The Wallflowers, School of Fish), on April 1
The Wallflowers – 6th Avenue Heartache (1996, as member on lead guitar)

Phil Delire, c.67, Belgian producer, on April 1

Sue Chaloner, 71, British-born half of Dutch duo Spooky & Sue, on April 1
Spooky & Sue – I’ve Got The Need (1975)

Jerry Abbott, 81, country singer-songwriter and producer, on April 2
Jerry Abbott – The Bottom Of The Bottle (1969, also as writer)
Pantera – Nothin’ On (But The Radio) (1983, as producer, engineer and manager)

John O’Leary, 79 British blues singer and harmonica player, on April 3

Albert Heath, 88, jazz drummer and composer, on April 3
Albert Heath – Dunia (1974, also as writer)
Heath Bros – Mellowdrama (1978, as member)

Joe Aitken, 79, Scottish folk singer, on April 3

Keith LeBlanc, 69, hip hop drummer and producer, on April 4
Malcolm X – No Sell Out (1983, as writer and producer)

Graeme Naysmith, 57, guitarist of English shoegaze band Pale Saints, on June 4
Pale Saints – Kinky Love (1991)

J. Snare, 64, keyboardist and songwriter with rock band Firehouse, producer, on April 5
Firehouse – When I Look Into Your Eyes (1992, also as co-writer)

Phil Nimmons, 100, Canadian free jazz clarinettist, on April 5

Rocket Norton, 73, former drummer of Canadian rock band Prism, on April 5
Prism – Don’t Let Him Know (1981)

Dutty Dior, 27, Norwegian rapper, on April 6

Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, 87, R&B singer, on April 7
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – Ain’t Got No Home (1956, also as writer)
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – You Always Hurt The One You Love (1961)
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – Hummin’ A Heartache (1967)

Joe Viera, 91, German jazz saxophonist and festival founder, on April 7

‘Seth’ Jon Card, 63, Canadian punk drummer, on April 8
SNFU – Black Cloud (1986, as member)

Sturgis Nikides, 66, rock guitarist, on April 9
John Cale – Mercenaries (Ready For War) (1980)

Muluken Melesse, 70, Ethiopian singer and drummer, on April 9

Max Werner, 70, singer and drummer of Dutch band Kayak, on April 9
Kayak – Ruthless Queen (1978, on drums)

Bob Lanese, 82, US-born trumpeter with the James Last Orchestra, on April 9
Lucifer’s Friend- Blind Freedom (1973, on trumpet)
BAP – Silver Un Jold (1996, on trumpet)

Dan Wallin, 97, soundtrack engineer, on April 10
Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1973, as engineer)
The Trammps – Disco Inferno (1977, Saturday Night Fever version, as engineer)

Mister Cee, 57, hip hop DJ and producer, announced April 10
Big Daddy Kane – Mister Cee’s Master Plan (1988, as DJ)

Park Bo-ram, 30, South Korean K-pop singer, on April 11

Enrique Llácer Soler, 89, Spanish jazz percussionist and composer, on April 11

Rico Wade, 52, part of producer group Organized Noize and songwriter, on April 12
En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love) (1996, as co-producer and co-writer)

Lucy Rimmer, British singer with The Fall, announced April 12
The Fall – Birthday (1996, on lead vocals)

Richard Horowitz, 75, film composer and actor, on April 13
Ryuichi Sakamoto – The Sheltering Sky Theme 1990, as co-composer)

Jun Mhoon, 69, session and touring drummer and producer, on April 13

Calvin Keys, 82, jazz guitarist, on April 14
Calvin Keys – Trade Winds (1974)

Ben Eldridge, 85, banjo player with bluegrass band The Seldom Scene, on April 14
The Seldom Scene – Muddy Water (1973)

Reita, 42, bassist of Japanese rock band The Gazette, on April 15

P.K. Dwyer, 74, jump and folk musician, on April 15
P.K. Dwyer & Donna Beck – Dandy Annie (1975)

Arthur ‘Pooch’ Tavares, 81, singer with soul band Tavares, on April 15
Tavares – Don’t Take Away The Music (1976)
Tavares – More Than A Woman (1977)
Tavares – My Love Calls (1979, on lead vocals)

Clorofila, 56, member of electronic-dance group Nortec Collective, on April 16
Nortec Collective – Olvidela compa (2005)

Topo Gioia, 72, Argentine-born Germany-based percussionist, on April 15

Gavin Webb, 77, bassist of Australian rock band The Masters Apprentices, on April 16
The Masters Apprentices – Buried And Dead (1967)

Dickey Betts, 80, guitar legend, singer and songwriter, on April 18
The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica (1973, also as writer)
The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man (1973, on lead vocals and as writer)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern – Sweet Virginia (1977, also as writer)
The Allman Brothers Band – Brothers Of The Road (1981, also as co-writer)

Jack Green, 73, Scottish guitarist, bassist, singer and songwriter, on April 18
Jack Green – This Is Japan (1980)

Steve Kille, bassist of rock band Dead Meadow, on April 18
Dead Meadow – 1000 Dreams (2013)

Mandisa, 47, gospel-soul singer, on April 18
Mandisa – Only The World (2007)
Mandisa – Stronger (2011)

Eddie Sutton, 59, singer of thrash metal band Leeway, on April 19

Michael Cuscuna, 75, jazz producer, journalist, founder of Mosaic label, on April 19
Young-Holt Unlimited – Yes We Can (1972, as producer)

Kaj Chydenius, 84, Finnish singer-songwriter, on April 20

Tony Tuff, 69, Jamaican reggae singer (African Brothers), on April 20
Tony Tuff – Love Light Shining (1980)

Chris King, 32, rapper, shot dead on April 20

MC Duke, 58, British rapper and producer, on April 21
MC Duke – I’m Riffin’ (1989)

Jean-Marie Aerts, 72, guitarist of Belgian new wave band TC Matic, on April 21
TC Matic – Willie (1981)

KODA, 45, Ghanaian gospel-jazz singer, songwriter, musician and producer, on April 21

Alex Hassilev, 91, banjo player and baritone of folk group The Limeliters, on April 21
The Limeliters – The Hammer Song (1959)
The Limeliters – By The Risin’ Of The Moon (1963)
Alex Hassilev – Young Man (1965)

Chan Romero, 82, rock & roll singer-songwriter and guitarist, on April 22
Chan Romero – Hippy Hippy Shake (1959, also as writer)
Chan Romero – A Man Can’t Dog A Woman (1965, also as writer)

Florian Chmielewski, 97, polka accordionist and state senator, on April 23

Brian Gregg, 85, British rock & roll bass player, announced April 23
Johnny Kidd and The Pirates – Shakin’ All Over (1960, as member)

Fergie MacDonald, 86, Scottish folk accordionist, on April 23

Mike Pinder, 82, keyboard player, singer, songwriter with The Moody Blues, on April 24
The Moody Blues – The Night: Nights In White Satin (1967, on mellotrone, spoken words)
The Moody Blues – A Simple Game (1968, on lead vocals and as writer)
The Moody Blues – When You’re A Free Man (1972, on lead vocals and as writer) 

Robin George, 68, English rock guitarist, singer and producer, on April 26
Robin George – Heartline (1984)

Anderson Leonardo, 51, singer with Brazilian samba band Molejo, on April 26

Frank Wakefield, 89, bluegrass mandolin player, arranger and producer, on April 26
Red Allen, Frank Wakefield & The Kentuckians – New Camptown Races (1964)

Jean-Pierre Ferland, 89, Canadian singer-songwriter, on April 27
Jean-Pierre Ferland – Le chat du café des artistes (1970)

Maria Feliciana, 77, Brazilian singer, on April 27

Mac McKenzie, 63, singer of South African jazz-rock band The Genuines, on April 29
The Genuines – Struggle (1986)

Chris ‘Christian’ McClure, 80, Scottish singer and entertainer, on April 29
Chris McClure Section – You’re Only Passing Time (1971)

Duane Eddy, 86, guitar legend, on April 30
Duane Eddy – Movin’ n’ Groovin’ (1958)
Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn (1958)
Duane Eddy – (Dance With The) Guitar Man (1962, also as co-writer)
Duane Eddy & The Rebelettes – Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar (1975)


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In Memoriam – March 2024

April 2nd, 2024 3 comments

The most remarkable non-music (or any) death in March was that of the South African painting pig Pigcasso, whose artworks have been sold for big money all over the world to finance a farm sanctuary. Pigcasso was rescued from the slaughterhouse by ex-golfer Joanne Lefson (who apparently married a dog once), and taken in at the Farm Sanctuary which she and her sister were running near Cape Town.

Lefson trained the pig to hold the brush in her mouth and apply paint to paper mounted on an easel, thereby creating colourful abstract paintings. The artworks were signed with Pigcasso nose, pressed on the canvas after being dipped into beetroot ink and transferring onto the canvas. She was the first non-human artist to have art exhibitions staged — in South Africa, Netherlands, Germany, Britain and China — and holds the record for most expensive artwork ever sold by an animal, at $20,000. In 2019 she designed a limited-edition timepiece for Swatch.

The pig’s prominence was used to stimulate debate on issues such as veganism, meat production, and animal welfare. Pigcasso died on March 6 at the age of seven of chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Alas, unlike the names that follow here, she never recorded any music.


The Power Balladeer
It has become something of a fashion to dismiss Eric Carmen, the singer who has died at 74, with some disdain. One may see why not all of Carmen’s oeuvre is universally appealing — I am not a devotee myself — but the guy didn’t deserve the prejudice, much less the petty derision. Much of it, I suspect, is predicated on received wisdom, a bit like the stupid suggestion that pineapple on pizza somehow constitutes an epicurean crime.

Carmen’s big hit, All By Myself, is a great power ballad, in a league with Nilsson’s Without You. It made sense that the classically-trained Carmen based All By Myself on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Follow-up Never Gonna Fall In Love Again also riffed on Rachmaninoff. Carmen’s contribution to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, Hungry Eyes, was also a cut above most 1980s movie soundtrack fare. He didn’t write the song, but Carmen did produce it.

Before going solo in 1976, Carmen had been the frontman of the power pop band Raspberries (who featured on Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1), for whom he also wrote or co-wrote most songs.

The Cockney Rebel
One of the songs chosen here to mark Eric Carmen’s passing is the Raspberries’ Overnight Sensation, which features a few stop-starts. But Steve Harley perhaps made the greatest stop-start song of them all with Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me). Credited to Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, it was a UK #1 in 1975. The song was written by Harley, and co-produced by him, with Alan Parsons. The target of the embittered lyrics were his former Cockney Rebel bandmates.

With Cockney Rebel, Harley had six UK hit singles in the mid-1970s, including the innovative Judy Teen, Mr. Soft and a cover of The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun. Prior to UK success, the band had a hit in Europe with the prog-rocker Sebastian.

Harley returned briefly to the upper reaches of the UK charts in 1986 with his duet with Sarah Brightman of the title track of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical The Phantom Of The Opera, which he, however, didn’t perform on the stage.

The Singing Oscar-winner
Various illnesses had tried to claim him for the past 30 years, but he kept surviving. But on Good Friday the  lights went out for Louis Gossett Jr, at the age of 87.

Gossett is best-known as being a remarkable actor of film, TV and stage. He provided rare spots of illumination in dreck like Iron Eagle, but he will be forever remembered for his role of Sgt Emil Foley in 1982’s An Officer And A Gentleman. He won an Oscar for that; the second ever for a male black actor.

Less known is that as Lou Gossett, he was also a singer, in the soul-folk genre which his friend Richie Havens made his own. Previously a nightclub singer, Gossett released a series of singles between 1964 and ’68, and one album, titled From Me To You, in 1970. None of them were hits. Gossett also co-wrote Richie Havens’ Handsome Johnny, one of the great anti-war songs.

The Ideas Man
In concerts, Robbie Williams likes to claim that he had written his 1999 hit She’s The One. When the song’s actual writer, Karl Wallinger, objected to this lie, Williams announced the song as his “fifth-best” composition. Wallinger took to calling Williams a “c**t”, a sentiment which doubtless would attract a sizable constituency.

She’s The One was first recorded by Welsh-born Wallinger’s band World Party (their version features on The Originals – 1990s & 2000s), which released five albums, including 1993’s very successful Bang!. World Party’s 1987 song Ship Of Fools, written by Wallinger, just about failed to reach the UK’s Top 40 but was a hit in the US.

Before that, the multi-instrumentalist was a member of The Waterboys, not only playing on their big 1985 hit The Whole Of The Moon but effectively arranging it, with those synth hooks and cymbal beats, turning a good song into a dazzling slice of genius. He left the group soon after; some argue that had Wallinger remained, The Waterboys would have enjoyed more commercial success to go with the critical acclaim.

After his death, his frequent collaborator Peter Gabriel paid tribute to Wallinger: “Karl was overflowing with wonderful musical ideas that blew us all away, all delivered with terrible jokes that had us laughing uncontrollably all day and night. He was such a gifted, natural writer and player, it was a tap that he could turn on at will, effortlessly.”

The Piano Funkster
The shimmering piano notes that open the Blackbyrds’ wonderful 1974 hit Walking In Rhythm were played by Kevin Toney, then only 20 years old. Toney also co-wrote several of the jazz-funk band’s songs, including the Blackbyrd’s own theme, as well the hits Rock Creek Park and Unfinished Business.

As a solo jazz-funk musician, his album Strut was chosen as “official music” for the Winter Olympics of 2002.

The Entertainer
He was an established star in the US, but to me Steve Lawrence was only Maury Sline, the Blues Brothers’ former manager (you may remember the scene where Elroy and Jake have a meeting with him the steam room, both wearing their hats and shades).

Later, as a blogger, my view of his career expanded to knowing that he was the original singer of Gladys Knight & The Pips’ The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (featured on The Originals – Soul Vol. 1) and I’ve Gotta Be Me from the musical Golden Rainbow, one of my all-time favourites in Sammy Davis Jr’s version (featured on The Originals – Rat Pack Edition).

Before all that, Lawrence had been a singer on Steve Allen’s show in the 1950s, and had a bunch of hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with 1962’s Go Away Little Girl the most famous of them (the song’s arranger, Marion Evans, also died this month; see below). For decades he also performed in a duo with his wife Eydie Gormé, until her retirement in 2009.

The Gaylad
Among the pioneers of reggae was the Jamaican ska band The Gaylads, whose co-founder B. B. Seaton has died at age 79. Seaton first recorded as a solo artist in 1960 before forming the duo Winston & Bibby with Winston Delano Stewart, which in turn evolved into The Gaylads. After a string of hits, Seaton left The Gaylads and embarked on a solo career. He went on to have hits, especially with covers of songs like Sweet Caroline, Lean On Me, and Thin Line Between Love and Hate.

Seaton might have had success with cover versions, but he was also a prolific songwriter, writing for acts such as Ken Boothe, The Melodians, and Delroy Wilson. In the mid-1970s Seaton moved to Britain in the mid-1970s, where he worked as a producer. He was the first reggae artist to be signed by Virgin Records. In the 2010s, he rejoined The Gaylads and performed with the group.

The Arranger
The musical career of Marion Evans, who has died at age 97, stretched back to the mid-1940s, when he played trumpet in the university band. In the late 1940s, he was one of the arrangers for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, then led by Tex Beneke. He went on to arrange for orchestras such as those of Tommy Dorsey, Vaughn Monroe, Percy Faith, and Count Basie.

From the 1950s, Evans worked as an arranger and orchestra leader for acts including Judy Garland, Diahann Carroll, Dick Haymes, Eydie Gormé, Steve Lawrence (and Gormé & Lawrence as a duo),  Jaye P. Morgan, Jack Lemmon, Perry Como, and Tony Bennett. Evans received Grammy nominations for his work on the albums Blame It On The Bossa Nova by Eydie Gormé and Go Away, Little Girl by Steve Lawrence.

Evans also composed music for 17 TV series and served as an orchestrator for eleven Broadway shows. After a stint in the financial industry in the 1970s, he returned to music in the 1980s. He worked with Tony Bennett on his Grammy-winning/nominated duo albums Duets II (2011) and Cheek To Cheek (with Lady Gaga, 2014).

The Composer
French composer Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, who has died at 82, wrote the tune for one of the great Eurovision Song Contest winners, Séverine’s Un banc, un arbre, un rue, which won the thing for Monaco in 1971 (it featured on Any Major Eurovision). It was a hit throughout Europe in various language version. Bourtayre also wrote for acts like Claude François, Jacques Dutronc, and Michel Sardou.

He also wrote for films and TV shows, including the two closing themes for the 1970s TV series Arsène Lupin, which was popular in many European countries.

The King of the Boogaloo
There are few musical genres with a better name than Boogaloo. Puerto Rico-born Pete Rodriguez was its king during his relatively brief recording career, which spanned from 1964-71. His biggest hit was 1967’s I Like It Like That, which a few years ago was liberally sampled for the big hit by Cardi B (Rodriguez’ song featured on Any Major Samples).

I Like It Like That was written by Tony Pabon and Manny Rodriguez. Pabon, a boogaloo bandleader in his own right, did the lead vocals.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.


Gylan Kain, 81, poet, singer and playwright, on Feb 7 (announced March 18)
Kain – Loose Here (1970)

Ernest ‘Bilbo’ Berger, 73, Czech-born drummer of British funk band Heatwave, on March 1
Heatwave – Super Soul Sister (1976)
Heatwave – Mind Blowing Decisions (1978)

Don Wise, 81, tenor saxophonist, songwriter, producer, on March 1
Don Wise – Deeper Shade Of Blue (2001)

Jim Beard, 63, jazz fusion keyboardist and composer, on March 2
Jim Beard – Big Pants (1997, also as writer, producer and vocals)

W.C. Clark, 84, blues guitarist and singer, on March 2
W.C. Clark – Let It Rain (2002)

Eleanor Collins, 104, Canadian jazz singer and TV presenter, on March 3
Eleanor Collins – Lullaby Of Birdland (1965)

Bill Ramsay, 95, jazz saxophonist and bandleader, on March 3

Brit Turner, 57, drummer of country-rock band Blackberry Smoke, on March 3
Blackberry Smoke – Pretty Little Lie (2012)

Félix Sabal Lecco, c.64, Cameroonian session drummer, on March 3
Paul Simon – Born At The Right Time (1990, on drums)

Presto, 31, German rapper, on March 3

Harris B. B. Seaton, 79, Jamaican singer (The Gaylads), songwriter, producer, on March 4
The Gaylads – It’s Hard To Confess (1968, on lead vocals and as writer)
B.B. Seaton – Accept My Apology (1972, also as co-writer)

Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, 82, French composer, on March 4
Jacques Dutronc – L’Arsène (1970, as co-writer)
Séverine – Un banc, un arbre, un rue (1971, as co-writer)

Linda Balgord, 64, stage actress and singer, on March 5

Debra Byrd, 72, backing singer and vocal coach on American Idols, on March 5
Barry Manilow & Debra Byrd – Let Me Be Your Wings (1994)

Pavel Zajíček, 72, member of Czech rock band DG 307, poet, visual artist, on March 5

Ralph Beerkircher, 56, German jazz guitarist, on March 5

Dimos Moutsis, 85, Greek singer-songwriter and composer, on March 6

Steve Lawrence, 88, Pop singer and actor, on March 7
Steve Lawrence – Go Away Little Girl (1962)
Steve Lawrence – I’ve Gotta Be Me (1968)

Joe Cutajar, 83, half of Maltese duo Helen & Joseph, announced March 7

Pete Rodriguez, 89, Latin boogaloo pianist and bandleader, on March 7
Pete Rodriguez – Oye Mira (Guajira Boogaloo) (1965)
Pete Rodriguez – I Like It Like That (1967)
Pete Rodríguez and His Orchestra – Nunca Abandones Tu Mujer (1968)

Pedro Altamiranda, 88, Panamanian singer, on March 7

Ernie Fields Jr, 89, baritone saxophonist and session musician, on March 8
Ernie Fields Jr – Ride A Wild Horse (1978)

Ľubomír Stankovský, 72, member of Czechoslovakian rock group Modus, on March 8

Malcolm Holcombe, 68, American singer-songwriter, on March 9
Malcolm Holcombe – Who Carried You (1999)

Nick Mulder, 51, Australian jazz musician, announced March 10

Karl Wallinger, 66, Welsh musician and songwriter, on March 10
The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (1985, as member on synths, backing vocals)
World Party – Ship Of Fools (1986, as member, writer and producer)
World Party – She’s The One (1997, as member, writer and producer)

M. Stevens, 72, bass guitarist, singer, session musician, on March 10
Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong (1986, as member on bass)
TM Stevens – I’m A Believer (1995)

Paul Nelson, blues-rock guitarist, songwriter, producer, on March 10
Johnny Winter – T Bone Shuffle (2011, on guitar)

Blake Harrison, 48, grindcore musician (Pig Destroyer, Hatebeak), on March 10

Marc Tobaly, 74, Moroccan-born French guitarist, composer, on March 10
Les Variations – Down The Road (1971)

Eric Carmen, 74, singer, musician, songwriter, on March 11
Raspberries – Overnight Sensation (1974, as member on lead vocals and as writer)
Eric Carmen – Change Of Heart (1978, also as writer)
Eric Carmen – Hungry Eyes (1987, also as producer)

Ray Austin, 81, English-porn German jazz, blues and folk musician, on March 11

Boss, 54, rapper, on March 11
BO$$ – Deeper (1993)

Russ Wilson, 62, bassist of Canadian rock band Junkhouse, on March 12
Junkhouse – Be Someone (1995)

Michael Knott, 61, rock singer-songwriter, on March 12
Michael Knott – Deaf And Dumb (1993)

John Blunt, drummer of The Searchers (1966-67), announced March 13

Sylvain Luc, 58, French jazz guitarist, on March 13
Sylvain Luc – Tous les cris les S.O.S. (2009)

Dick Allix, 78, drummer of UK pop group Vanity Fare; darts official, on March 13
Vanity Fare – Early In The Morning (1969)

Frank Darcel, 65, guitarist of French post-punk band Marquis de Sade, on March 14
Marquis de Sade – Conrad Veidt (1978)

Angela McCluskey, 64, Scottish singer and songwriter, on March 14
Télépopmusik – Breathe (2001, on vocals and as co-writer)

Hans Blum aka Henry Valentino, 95, German singer and songwriter, on March 15
Harry Valentino mit Uschi – Im Wagen vor mir (1977, also as writer and producer)
Boney M. – El Lute (1979, as co-writer)

Steve Harley, 73, English singer, songwriter, musician and producer, on March 17
Cockney Rebel – Judy Teen (1974, also as writer and co-producer)
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me (1975, also as writer and co-producer)
Steve Harley & Sarah Brightman – The Phantom Of The Opera (1986)

Sandra Crouch, 81, gospel singer and minister, on March 17

Cola Boyy, 34, funk singer, songwriter and musician, on March 17
Cola Boyy – You Can Do It (2021)

Kevin Toney, 70, pianist of jazz-funk band Blackbyrds, composer, arranger, on March 18
Blackbyrds – Runaway (1974, also as co-writer)
Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm (1974)
Kevin Toney – Strut (2001)

Chavelita Pinzón, 93, Panamanian folk singer, on March 18

Jimmy Hastings, 85, British rock and jazz flautist and saxophonist, on March 18
Caravan – Love To Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly) (1971, on flute)

Greg Lee, 53, singer with ska band Hepcat, on March 19

George Darko, 73, Ghanaian highlife musician, on March 20
George Darko – Obi Abayewa (1986)

Gene Elders, 80, country fiddler and mandolin player, on March 20
George Strait – Hot Burnin’ Flames (1987, on fiddle)

Marion Evans, 97, arranger, conductor, TV composer, announced March 21
Diahanna Carroll – Old Devil Moon (1958, as arranger)
Steve Lawrence – Go Away Little Girl (1962, as arranger – see Steve Lawrence entry)
Eydie Gorme – Blame It On The Bossa Nova (1963, as arranger)
Tony Bennett & Natalie Cole – Watch What Happens (2011, as arranger and conductor)

Laurens van Rooyen, 88, Dutch pianist and composer, on March 21

Daniel Beretta, 77, French pop singer, composer and actor, on March 23
Daniel Beretta – Juliette pour la vie (1970)

Ulf Georgsson, 61, drummer of Swedish dansband Flamingokvintetten, on March 23

Vincent Bonham, 67, singer with soul-funk group Raydio, announced March 24
Raydio – You Need This (To Satisfy That) (1978, on lead vocals)

Def Rhymz, 53, Surinamese-Dutch rapper, on March 24
Def Rhymz – Doekoe (1999)

Humphrey Campbell, 66, Surinamese-Dutch singer and producer, on March 25

Slađana Milošević, 68, Serbian new wave singer, songwriter, producer, on March 26
Slađana & Neutral Design – Hey, Little Boy (1983, also as writer)

La Castou, 75, Swiss singer, dancer and actress, on March 27

Louis Gossett Jr., 87, actor, singer, songwriter, on March 29
Lou Gossett – Red Rosy Bush (1964)
Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967, as co-writer)
Lou Gossett – The River And I (1970, also as producer)

Gerry Conway, 76, English drummer and percussionist, on March 29
Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (1971, on drums)
Linda Lewis – Old Smokey (1973, on drums)

Mark Spiro, c.66, singer, songwriter and producer, announced March 30
Mark Spiro – Winds Of Change (1986)

Casey Benjamin, 45, jazz & hip hop musician, producer, and songwriter, on March 31

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – February 2024

March 4th, 2024 3 comments

Some deaths sort of intersect with my plans: In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the first of the Hits from 1974 mixes. Among the tracks on that collection is Redbone’s Come And Get Your Love. This month we lost Butch Rillera, who played the drums on that song.

Carole King had cause for grieving in January, with two deaths which were not announced until early February. Her frequent songwriting partner, the lyricist Toni Stern passed away on January 17; then Hank Ciralo, sound engineer on almost all of her 1970s albums (including Tapestry), died on January 31.

One entry here might surprise. Carl Weathers was a famous actor, playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky series of films. Just recently I saw him on a repeated binge of the great TV series The Shield, on which Weathers had a couple of cameos as a disgraced ex-cop. Weathers tried his luck at being a soul singer, but released only one single, in 1981. It was a rather good soul number, which he had co-written. I’d like to have heard more from Weathers.


The Jam Kicker
In the late 1960s, there had never been a band quite like MC5 (which stood for Motor City Five). They had a raw, forceful high-energy sound, which made use of feedback and loud guitar solos, with lyrics that were militantly left-wing, and could include profanity (“Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”). They performed as part of the anti- Vietnam War protests outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that were met with rioting police.

MC5 foreshadowed, inspired and influenced the punk scene that would emerge a few years later. Playing that aggressive lead guitar was Wayne Kramer, who has died at 75. Now only drummer Dennis Thompson is still with us of the classic MC5 line-up.

MC5 didn’t last long. Subjected to government harassment, radio bans and some retailers refusing to stock their records, the band broke up in 1972, though several reunions followed. Kramer was part of those.

After MC5, Kramer was involved in a number of musical projects, including playing with Was (not Was), Bad Religion, Pere Ubu and Mudhoney. And he spent four years in jail in the 1970s for pushing drugs. This was referred to in The Clash’s song Jail Guitar Doors.

Later in life, Kramer composed music for TV and film, was still involved in social justice activism and advocacy for young musicians, and remained a frequent guest at other acts’ shows, such as Rage Against The Machine, the 1990s successors to MC5.

The Last Spinner
With the death at 85 of baritone singer Henry Fambrough, all members of the classic line-up of The Spinners are gone. Frambrough was a Spinner from the group’s founding in 1954, and apart from a military-forced gap of two years in the early 1960s, he remained with the band until April last year — a stretch of 69 years.

After he returned from the army, The Spinners were signed to Motown. It was a fallow period with no hits; Frambrough served much of it as a driver for Berry Gordy’s mother.

When success came, on Atlantic, in the 1970s, Frambrough was one of the group’s three leads.

The Can Singer
With the death of Damo Suzuki, only one member of the classic early 1970s line-up of Krautrock legends Can is still alive, keyboardist Irmin Schmidt. Japanese-born Suzuki was Can’s lead singer from 1970-73, arguably their most prolific and certainly commercially most successful period. Aside from providing lead vocals, Suzuku also co-wrote material, including the chart hit Spoon and the classic Vitamin-C.

Born in Kobe, Japan, Suzuki came to West Germany in the mid-1960s. He was spotted busking in Munich by Can bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who invited him to first overdub the recorded vocals of departed singer Malcolm Mooney and then to join the band.

After leaving Can, Suzuki became a Jehovah’s Witness and retired from the music business. Having left the Witnesses, he returned to music in 1983, with German experimental rock band Dunkelziffer and The Damo Suzuki Band, and in the 1990s with Damo Suzuki’s Network.

The Flagwaver
The first time I ever heard a Toby Keith song, it was not a happy experience. His angry patriotic song Courtesy Of The Red, White, & Blue, written in reaction to 9/11, was a perfect articulation of The Ugly American as perceived by so much of the rest of the world. It soundtracked George W Bush’s illegitimate war on Iraq. Ironically, despite having supported Bush, Keith voiced his opposition to that invasion.

Keith’s politics were complicated. A long-time Democrat, he left the party only in 2008, though he still endorsed Obama. By 2016, he played for Trump.

Keith was a huge star in country music. Of the 69 singles he released after his 1993 debut, 42 made the Billboard Country Top 10, and 20 topped those charts. In the 2000s, he crossed over. Of 37 singles released between 1999 and 2012, only two failed to make it into the Billboard Top 100 charts, 15 reached the Top 40 (none made it into the Top 10, though). The subject matter of most of these records revolved around alcohol and women who were either easy (and fond of a drink) or too much work for a catch like Toby.


The Wailing Bassist
Without the bass, reggae is only half a thing. Playing the bass for The Wailers on those Bob Marley records from 1970 to his death in 1981 was Aston Barrett, who went by the nickname Family Man — thus dubbed before he even had the first of his 41 children.

Barrett, a multi-instrumentalist who mentored Robbie Shakespeare of Sly & Robbie, also played on records of other acts, such as Lee Perry, The Upsetters, Peter Tosh (including on Legalize It), Taj Mahal, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Horace Andy, Max Romeo, King Tubby, Bunny Wailer, Dillinger, Al Campbell, Bunny Lee, The Paragons, and many others. He also produced Benjamin Zephaniah’s Free South Afrika, which featured on In Memoriam – December 2023.

Barrett lost a lot of money in 2006 when he unsuccessfully sued Island Records and the (not always lovable) Marley family for unpaid royalties to the tune of £60 million. The court found that Barrett had signed away his rights to any further royalties in a 1994 settlement, for which he had received a few hundred thousand dollars.

The Wailing Guitarist
Three days after Barrett died, his some-time colleague Donald Kinsey left us at age 70. Born in Gary, Indiana, Kinsey was a guitarist in the touring line-up of Bob Marley and The Wailers. In 1976, Kinsey was standing near Marley when assassins tried (and failed) to take the singer’s life at his home. Kinsey avoided being hit by using his guitar case as a shield from the bullets.

Kinsey was on guitar duty, alongside Barrett’s bass, on Peter Tosh’s Legalize It, as well as on some Burning Spears records.

In 1984, Kinsey joined his father, Big Daddy Kinsey, and his brothers in The Kinsey Report, a blues-rock band.

The Tich
You’d think that in a group whose name consists of five names, the last-named guy is something of an afterthought. But that would do injustice to Ian “Tich” Amey of English 1960s popsters Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. It was in fact Tich who co-founded the future multi-moniker band with Dozy, known to his mom as Trevor Davies.

With Dave Dee on lead vocals and Tich on lead guitar, the band had a string of hits in the UK and Europe, including Bend It, Hold Tight, Save Me, Zabadak!, I’m Okay and the UK chart-topper The Legend of Xanadu. Tich left the band briefly a couple of times in the 1960s, but remained with it until 2014. There have been two more Tichs in the band since.

In 1974 Amey released an album with John “Beaky” Dymond and Peter Mason under the moniker Mason, and then was in a band called Tracker. After 1976 he rejoined Dozy, Beaky and Mick permanently.

Of the original line-up, only Beaky and Nick survive.

The Banjo Stoneman
To a generation of US television viewers, Roni Stoneman was best known as the gap-toothed character Ida Lee Nagger on the country music comedy show Hee Haw. But above that, she was an accomplished banjo player, performing mostly with her siblings and, in the early days, father as The Stoneman Family or Stonemans, which won the CMA award for best group in 1969. In the 1970s she released a handful solo singles, none of which were successful.

The Stoneman Fanily had a link to the pioneering days of country music, long before that term (or bluegrass) was even invented. Their father and initial frontman Ernest Stoneman was among the first musicians of the genre to have a hit, in 1924 with The Sinking Of The Titanic. Alas, Stoneman lost all the wealth he had built up in a lucrative career during the Great Depression, at the far end of which Roni was born in 1938. She was one of 13 siblings who lived into adulthood (ten others died in infancy or childhood). All but one are now gone; mandolin player Donna is the last survivor.


The Viral Fighter
In January, Cat Janice knew that the cancer, which she had beaten once before, would soon take her, at the horribly young age of 31. So she speed-released her new song, Dance You Outta My Head, on January 19 and wrote the rights to it over to her seven-year-old son, so that he would benefit from the revenue it will create. The video went viral. Four days after releasing the song on Tik Tok, she went into hospice. Just over a month later, on February 28, she passed away.

The career of the woman born in 1993 as Catherine Janice Ipsan was brief. A classically-trained musician, she released two albums, the first in 2014, and had two of her songs featured on TV shows, Selling Sunset and Redneck Island. Her family says there are more songs waiting to be released.

Cat, who worked as a geospatial information scientist and studied towards a master’s degree in coastal geology, had first been diagnosed with cancer in early 2022. After chemo treatment, she was declared free of cancer. A few months later, it returned — alas, fatally.

The Sun Drummer
Having toured with rock & roll pioneers Billy Lee Riley and Conway Twitty, drummer Jimmy Van Eaton became a session musician on Sun Records. There he drummed for acts like Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Warren Smith, Charlie Rich, Dickey Lee, Charlie Feathers and others — and especially Jerry Lee Lewis. Among the latter’s tracks on which Van Eaton swung the sticks was Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On. Lewis called him “The creative rock ‘n’ roll drummer”.

After a brief attempt at a solo career, Van Eaton got married, packed in the rock & roll business, and joined the workforce, eventually becoming an investment banker.

On the side he played with a gospel outfit called The Seekers, with whom he released an album. In 1980 he joined Jerry Lee Lewis in a rockabilly revival project, and in 1998 he released a solo album.

The Quarryman
A friend of Paul McCartney’s since they were 11-year-olds in 1953, pianist John ‘Duff’ Lowe was asked to join The Quarrymen, the proto-Beatles, in 1958. During his two years with the band, Lowe was part of the line-up that recorded a vanity single comprising two songs, Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be The Day and In Spite Of All the Danger, a McCartney & Harrison composition. Lowe held on to that single until 1981, when he sold it to Paul McCartney.

Lowe left The Quarrymen to join another Liverpool group, which was led by future TV actor Ricky Tomlinson (the dad in the great The Royle Family). He’d periodically join later iterations of The Quarrymen.

The Non-hanging DJ
When I lived in London in the 1980s, a radio DJ to whom I took a visceral dislike was the hugely popular Steve Wright, who has died at the age of 69. The obituaries reveal the man to be of good heart and less reactionary ways than many of his BBC colleagues. Wright had a line in comedy which in our age won’t wash — witness his 1984 “comedy” single The Gay Cavalieros. I won’t inflict that on you (what I do inflict on you is bad enough).

The story goes that Morrissey of The Smiths wrote the song 1986 Panic, with its chorus of “Hang the DJ”, in righteous outrage after hearing Wright following news on the nuclear disaster by playing Wham!’s I’m Your Man. The first reports of Chernobyl were on April 28; Panic was recorded in May, so that’s a very quick turnaround. I suspect that the story might be less than iron-clad accurate: The Wham! Song had been a hit five months earlier, so no longer on BBC1’s playlist in later April 1986. Johnny Marr has said the story is largely true but exaggerated. So did Wright inspire a Smiths hit? I guess Wright was pleased at the idea of having needled Morrissey, and enjoyed the ensuing feud.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.


Toni Stern, 79, songwriter, on Jan. 17
Carole King – Where You Lead (1971, as co-writer)
Denise LaSalle – It’s Too Late (1972, as co-writer)

Hank Cicalo, 91, recording engineer, on Jan. 31
Carole King – Where You Lead (1971, as chief engineer; see above)
Meat Loaf – Whatever Happened To Saturday Night (1975, as chief engineer)

Carl Weathers, 76, actor and occasional soul singers, on Feb. 1
Carl Weathers – You Ought To Be With Me (1981, also as co-writer)

Wayne Kramer, 75, guitarist, singer and songwriter with rock band MC5, on Feb. 2
MC5 – Kick Out The Jams (1969, also as co-writer)
MC5 – Miss X (1971, also as writer)
Was (Not Was) – Wheel Me Out (1980, on guitar)
Wayne Kramer – Poison (1995, also as writer)

Robert ‘Corky’ Stasiak, recording engineer, on Feb. 2
Kiss – Love Gun (1977, as engineer)

Steve Brown, 66, British musician, songwriter and producer, on Feb. 2
Rumer – Am I Forgiven (2010, as producer, co-writer and on bass and keyboards)

Marcelo Yzurieta, 49, Argentine singer, guitarist and composer, on Feb. 2

Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, 77, Jamaican reggae bassist (The Wailers), on Feb. 3
Family Man Barrett – Soul Constitution (1971, also as writer)
Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey (1975, on bass)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Waiting In Vain (1977, on bass, and as co-engineer)

Virginia López, 95, Puerto Rican singer, on Feb. 3
Virginia López – Tu Me Perteneces (1960)

René Toledo, 66, Cuban jazz fusion guitarist, on Feb. 5
René Toledo – Bahia (1995)

Harold Jefta, 90, South African jazz saxophonist, announced Feb. 5
Abdullah Ibrahim – Township One More Time (1998, on alto sax)

Butch Rillera, drummer (Redbone, The Trademarks), announced Feb. 5
Redbone – Suzi Girl (1973, as member on drums)

Toby Keith, 62, country singer and songwriter, on Feb. 5
Toby Keith – How Do You Like Me Now (1999)
Toby Keith & Willie Nelson – Beer For My Horses (2003)

John Quara, 99, jazz guitarist, on Feb. 6

Donald Kinsey, 70, blues and reggae guitarist and singer, on Feb. 6
Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman No Cry (Live At The Roxy, 1976) (on guitar)
Peter Tosh – Apartheid (1977, on guitar)
The Kinsey Report – Full Moon On Main Street (1987, also as co-producer)

Pablo ‘Dead Dawg’ Grant, 26, German rapper with BHZ and TV actor, on Feb. 6

Henry Fambrough, 85, baritone singer with The Spinners, on Feb. 7
The Spinners – That’s What Girls Are Made For (1961)
The Spinners – Ghetto Child (1973, on co-lead)
The Spinners – If You Can’t Be In Love (1976, on lead)

Tony Middleton, 89, doo wop, soul and jazz singer, on Feb. 7
The Willows – Church Bells Are Ringing (1956, as lead singer)
Tony Middleton – Keep On Dancing (1969)

Mojo Nixon, 66, musician, radio DJ and actor, on Feb. 7
Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper – Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child (1989)

Bill Allred, 87, jazz trombonist, announced on Feb. 8

Damo Suzuki, 74, Japanese-born singer of Krautrock band Can, songwriter, on Feb. 9
Can – Vitamin C (1972, also as co-writer)
Dunkelziffer – I See Your Smile (1984)
Damo Suzuki’s Network – Terry White Meets J.B. (2001)

Jimmy Van Eaton, 86, rock & roll drummer, singer and producer, on Feb. 9
Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1957, on drums)
Jimmy Van Eaton – Beat-Nik (1960, also as co-writer)
Jerry Lee Lewis – Hillbilly Fever (J.M. Van Eaton Speaks) (1961, on drums)

Renata Flores, 74, Mexican pop singer and telenovela actress, on Feb. 9
Renata – Mi Novio Juan (1966)

Frank Howson, 71, Australian singer and theatre/film director, on Feb. 9
Frankie Howson – Seventeen Ain’t Young (1969)

Fritz Puppl, 79, guitarist of East German rock band City, on Feb. 10
City – Am Fenster (1977)

Randy Sparks, 90, founder of The New Christy Minstrels and songwriter, on Feb. 11
The New Christy Minstrels – Green, Green (1963, also as co-writer)
The Back Porch Majority – Southtown U.S.A. (1966, as leader and producer)

Juris Kulakovs, 65, member of Latvian rick group Pērkons, on Feb. 12

Steve Wright, 69, English radio DJ, comedy singer, on Feb. 12
Steve Wright & The Sisters Of Soul – Get Some Therapy (1983)

Eddie Cheeba, 67, hip hop DJ, on Feb. 13
Eddie Cheba – Lookin’ Good (Shake Your Body) (1979)

Kerry ‘Fatman’ Hunter, 53, jazz drummer, on Feb. 13
New Birth Brass Band – I Ate Up The Apple Tree (1997, on snare drum)

Alan Tomlinson, 74, British free jazz trombonist, on Feb. 13

Jussi Raittinen, 80, Finnish rock musician, on Feb. 13
Eero ja Jussi & The Boys – Balladi kanuunasta (1966)

Johanna von Koczian, 90, German actress and schlager singer, on Feb. 13

Ian ‘Tich’ Amey, 79, lead guitarist in Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on Feb. 15
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Zabadak! (1968)
Mason – When Freedom Comes (1973)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – She’s My Lady (1974)

Paul Schmeling, 85, jazz pianist, on Feb. 15

Fritz Hinz, 68, drummer of Canadian metal band Helix, on Feb. 16
Helix – Rock You (1984)

Dex Romweber, 57, half of roots rock band Flat Duo Jets, on Feb. 16
Flat Duo Jets – My Life, My Love (1980)
The Dex Romweber Duo – Nowhere (2011)

Cynthia Strother, 88, half of vocal duo The Bell Sisters, on Feb. 16
The Bell Sisters – Bermuda (1951, also as writer)

Etterlene DeBarge, 88, gospel singer, songwriter and matriarch, on Feb. 16
Reverend William Abney – Walk Around Heaven All Day (1975, on lead vocals)

Bhen Lanzarone, 85, pop and TV soundtrack composer, arranger, on Feb. 16
The Brothers – Are You Ready For This (1975, as co-writer and arranger)

Bobby Tench, 79, British guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger, announced Feb. 19
Jeff Beck Group – Short Business (1971, as member on lead vocals)
Linda Lewis – On The Stage (1973, on guitar)

Larry Ballard, 77, country singer and songwriter, on Feb. 19
Larry Ballard – Silver Eagle (1976, also as writer)

Judi Pulver, 77, pop singer, songwriter and keyboardist, on Feb. 20

David Libert, 81, member of pop group The Happenings, music exec, on Feb. 20
The Happenings – I Got Rhythm (1967)

Roberto Darvin, 82, Uruguayan singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Feb. 20
Roberto Darvin – Jacinto Vera (1976)

Getachew Kassa, 79, Ethiopian singer and percussionist, on Feb. 21

Kiev Stingl, 80, German rock musician and author, on Feb. 22
Kiev Stingl – Der Sommer ist längst vorbei (1975)

Vitalij Kuprij, 49, Ukrainian-born keyboardist (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), on Feb. 21
Ring Of Fire – Shadow In The Dark (2001, as member)

John Lowe, 81, English pianist with The Quarrymen, on Feb. 22
The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day (1958)
The Quarrymen – In Spite Of All The Danger (1958)

Roni Stoneman, 85, bluegrass banjo player and singer, cast member of Hee Haw, on Feb. 22
The Stoneman Family – Dark As A Dungeon (1968)
The Stonemans – According To The Plan (1970, as member on lead vocals and as co-writer)

Tina Rainford, 77, German pop singer, announced Feb. 23
Tina Rainford – Silver Bird (1976)

Shinsadong Tiger, 40, South Korean K-Pop producer and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Apink – No No No (2013, as producer and co-writer)

Laurence Canty, 74, British jazz bassist and author, announced Feb. 23

Juana Bacallao, 98, Cuban singer and dancer, on Feb. 24
Juana Bacallao & Combo Pepé Delgado – La Chismosa (Rumba)

Georg Riedel, 90, Czechoslovak-born Swedish jazz bassist and composer, on Feb. 25

Bigidagoe, 26, Dutch rapper, shot dead on Feb. 25

Peter ‘Peetah’ Morgan, 46, singer with Jamaican reggae band Morgan Heritage, on Feb. 25
Morgan Heritage – Unjust World (1994)

Martin Weiss, 62, German gypsy-jazz violinist and guitarist, on Feb. 25

Jaakko Teppo, 71, Finnish singer-songwriter, on Feb. 26

Cat Janice, 31, American singer-songwriter, on Feb. 28
Cat Janice – Pricey (2018)


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In Memoriam – January 2024

February 2nd, 2024 6 comments

On Saturday, January 14, I kicked back by watching Back To The Future, for the 256th time (it might have been the 257th; I’ve lost count). One thing struck me: if today we were to travel 30 years into the past, as Marty McFly does, we’d travel to 1994. Instead of The Ballad of Davy Crockett playing from a record store in Hill Valley, we might hear Bump n’ Grind by that nice R Kelly blaring out of a car. In 1985, the 1955 #1 song felt like it wasn’t just from another time but from another planet. As I watched, I pondered on just how perfectly chosen this pretty awful song was.

After I watched Back To The Future, I assumed my regular position on the musicians’ death watch. And whose name came up, having died at the age of 98 the previous day: Bill Hayes, the chart-topping singer of The Ballad Of Davy Crockett.

The year 2024 has started off in a hectic manner. Here’s hoping that in the coming months the Reaper will relent!

The Shangri-La
One of the seminal moments in pop is the 1964 Shangri-Las hit The Leader Of The Pack. On lead vocals on the classic record was 15-year-old Mary Weiss, who has gone to the great candy store in the sky at the age of 75.

Mary, her sister Betty and the twins Mary Ann and Margie Ganser formed the group in 1963 in New York, naming it after a local restaurant. They soon were discovered and after releasing a record that flopped, they came within the ambit of the Brill Building, and things took off. In 1964 they had a hit with Remember (Walking In The Sand), written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. It also had Mary on lead vocals (she and Betty shared lead responsibilities).

For a while, The Shanri-Las were huge. They supported The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in concerts. By 1968, however, they broke up and Mary Weiss left the music business, going into architecture and interior design, where she built a successful career.

The Songstress
The obituaries led with her 1968 hit California Soul having been sampled by many hip hop acts, but to her fans, Marlena Shaw was so much more than that. The singer effortlessly traversed soul, jazz and blues, sometimes on the same album. The only singer I can think of who was her equal in that regard was Nancy Wilson.

Shaw was only 10 years old when she made her stage debut, at the legendary Apollo in Harlem. She was introduced by her uncle Jimmy Burgess, a bandleader who taught the girl proper jazz phrasing. She went on to record a few jazz tracks on Chess, and toured with Count Basie.

But her first hit was as soul track, the Ashford & Simpson composition California Soul. The 1969 album on which it appeared, The Spice of Life, is superb, with her co-writes Woman Of The Ghetto and Liberation Conversation the stand-out tracks, in my opinion.

A string of fine albums followed, but no big hits. Shaw gained some attention with her 1974 Marlena Shaw Live At Montreux album; her long version of Woman Of The Ghetto on that set has also been liberally sampled. The following year she released the brilliantly titled Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?, her best-selling album, and maybe her best. On it, she added funk influences to her broad repertoire.

She released her final album in 2003. By my rough count, Shaw has featured on around 25 Any Major Mixes.

The Singer-Songwriter
Trivia question: Who were the only three women to perform solo at Woodstock in 1969? One of them was singer-songwriter Melanie, who has died at the age of 76. Melanie’s performance was unscheduled, standing in after the Incredible String Band (understandably) refused to perform during the rainstorm.

She later had her first hit with a song she wrote about the experience of seeing audience members lighting candles during her set, titled Lay Down (Candles In The Rain). It featured on Any Major Woodstock.

The singer born in New York as Melanie Safka was especially successful in Europe, though she had global hits with songs such her cover of The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday and her self-written Brand New Key (which got banned on some radio stations for supposed sexual innuendo involving locks and keys). Her What Have They Done To My Song Ma became a big hit in a German version by Daliah Lavi in 1971. Oh, if only Edith Piaf had lived to sing it!

By 1974, her charting career was over, but she kept recording and performing for the rest of her life. At the time of her death, Melanie was working on an album of cover versions.

And the trivia question? The other two woman were Joan Baez (six months pregnant) and Janis Joplin.

The Svengali
I remember my thoughts when I found at, at the age of 12, that the brains — and in two cases, the voice — behind Boney M was Frank Farian. “That lame schlager singer?” I thought. Before he invented Boney M, thus joining the firmament of German disco, Farian had been a marginally successful singer of German song. He had only one really big hit, a cover of Dickey Lee’s Rocky, in 1976. By then he was already producing Boney M, giving voice to dancer Bobby Farrell and — our man was nothing if not versatile — female dancer Maizie Williams.

Boney M really started in 1975 as a studio project when Farian recorded a pretty good disco reworking of Prince Buster’s 1967 song Al Capone, retitled Baby Do You Wanna Bump. Released under the name Boney M (in tribute to a popular TV series of the time), it took off, so Farian assembled the foursome that would go on to have a string of global hits.

A decade or so later, Farian scored even greater success with Milli Vanilli. We know how that story ended. When the scandal blew open, the question should have been: “With Farian’s history, why are you surprised?”

There was a bit of hypocrisy in the overreaction to Milli Vanilli. Nobody ever complained that bands like The Association or even the early Byrds didn’t play the instruments they pretended to have played on record. Nobody complains that the singer we saw on TV acting to be fronting White Plains on their hit My Baby Loves Lovin’ wasn’t the singer on the record (as discussed in the In Memoriam of October 2923 – That sort of thing wasn’t unusual at a time of session people releasing records before there was even a band.

If the Milli Vanilli records were good — and one can debate that — then did it really matter whether or not the singers were the pretty dancing boys. A different ethic applies to the live concerts, which turned out to expose the boys. But those idiots who litigated the “fraud” of Milli Vanilli records? Seriously?

The Hutch
Actor David Soul is best remembered as the guy with the shittier car in Starsky & Hutch, but for a brief time, he was a chart-topping singer (competing with Boney M). In 1966, half a century before it became a reality show concept, the man born David Solberg appeared on the Merv Griffiths Show wearing a mask, calling himself The Covered Man, and released a record under that name.

In 1977, the man born as David Solberg was the best-selling artist in the UK, having scored two #1 hits with the soppy ballad Don’t Give Up On Us (also a US #1) and the superb country-tinged Silver Lady, which sandwiched a #2 hit, Going In With My Eyes Open. Another Top 10 hit followed in late 1977/early 1978, and a #12 hit in mid-1978 closed off Soul’s brief but bright chart career.

Subsequent releases in the 1980s did no business, except for a minor bit in the Netherlands and Belgium with the schlager-like Dreamers.

In 2004, Soul returned the stage in London, talking the lead role in Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Chuck D’s Favourite Jouralist
In August 2021, I asked the English music journalist Neil Kulkarni for permission to use his comments on the passing of Charlie Watts, which he happily gave. Two-and-a-half years later, Kulkarni is featuring in this series as the subject of a mini-obit.

Kulkarni was a sharp writer, in intellect and words, for the Melody Maker, The Quietus, The Wire and many other UK-based publications, print and digital. As one of the very few music journalists of colour in the UK, Kulkarni took the fight to the institutionalised racism he found everywhere. That was how he got the Melody Maker gig: by writing a letter accusing the weekly of perpetuating racism by excluding artists of colour. The letter was brilliantly written, and the editor gave Kulkarni his shot at changing things.

Kulkarni not only wrote about music, but made it as well, being a member of indie trio Moonbears, on vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass. So while I normally do not feature journalists in this series, Neil qualifies by dint of his band (he would have featured anyway, I suppose).

Over the past few years, he was one of the panellists on the mind-bogglingly great Chart Music podcast, recording an episode live on stage in Birmingham just a couple of weeks before his sudden death. Among the fine panelists on Chart Music, Kulkarni was the least guarded one, freely talking about his upbringing and his life (on which he also wrote a book). For all his caustic writings, and for all the personal tragedies he had suffered, he exuded a joy of life that found expression in a wonderful laugh. That laugh, that joy, was extinguished when Neil passed away at 51 from a heart attack on January 22.

Widowed himself in 2018, he leaves two orphaned teenage daughters. His long-time friend and fellow music journalist David Stubbs set up a crowdfunding campaign on the day he learnt of Neil’s death. It is an astonishing mark of the affection and respect many people had for Neil Kulkarni that within three days, £35,000 pounds had been raised to safeguard the future of his children. The appeal is ongoing.

And get this: Upon learning of Kulkarni’s death, Public Enemy’s Chuck D tweeted a tribute by way of a drawing he made of Neil, from memory. How many music journalists have that kind of impact on legends of the game?

I recommend Simon Price’s excellent obituary on The Quietus website.

The Drum Innovator
If Hal Blaine or Earl Palmer were not available, Frank DeVito might have been the Wrecking Crew drummer whom producers might call on. So DeVito played on many of the early Phil Spector productions, usually on percussions. He also appeared on recordings by 1960s acts like Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys (including Surfin’ USA), Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream…), Sam Cooke (Shake), Dick Dale, Ricky Nelson, The Ventures, The Monkees and others. And in 1968, he backed Elvis on his televised Comeback Special, playing bongos in the rock & roll segment.

But his pedigree was established long before that. In the 1950s and early ’60s, DeVito backed or performed with jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Buddy DeFranco, The Mills Brothers, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and others.

He played drums on The Mills Brothers’ 1952 classic Glow-Worm, and backed Frank Sinatra on record (tracks like Witchcraft, So Long My Love, and Summer Wind) and on stage (including Sinatra’s 1957 live album).

After his session career wound down, DeVito became an innovator of musical instruments and drum accessories, founding Danmar Percussion in 1970. In his workshop, he would find solutions for drummers who struggled to create a particular sound or faced other problems.

The Politician
I cannot imagine many greater entries on a composer’s resumé than having written a country’s national anthem. Angolan guitarist, singer and songwriter Ruy Mingas, who has died at 84, had that privilege when his composition “Angola Avante” was chosen as his country’s national anthem following its liberation from Portuguese colonialism in 1975.

Mingas then went into politics — in a country that was marked by civil war, fanned by apartheid South Africa and the US on the one side, and the Soviet Union and Cuba on the other. He had already been prominently involved in the struggle for independence, on a diplomatic level. In 1979 the former athlete became Angola’s first minister for sports, and after ten successful years in that portfolio, he served for five years as the ambassador to Portugal.

The Theme Composer
British and European TV viewers of the 1960s and ’70s have quite likely heard the music of British composer Laurie Johnson.

Johnson, who has died at 96, was the composer and in most cases bandleader of TV themes such as The Avengers, This Is Your Life, Animal Magic, Jason King, The New Avengers, The Professionals and more. He also wrote the main theme for Dr Strangelove.

His only UK chart success was with a theme he didn’t write. With a tune titled Sucu Sucu, which served as the theme for the rather short-lived spy series Top Secret, he reached #9 in 1961.

The Krautrocker
As a founding member of Amon Düül II, Chris Karrer was a pioneer of what would become the Krautrock genre, the German art-rock movement of the 1970s. Amon Düül were founded in 1967 in Munich’s radical countercultural art commune scene. Karrer, who was studying fine arts there, played guitar, violin and saxophone for the band, and provided vocals. He was also a composer.

Amon Düül released their first album in 1969. A year later, they wrote the score for the film San Domingo for which they were awarded the Deutscher Filmpreis, the German Oscars.

After Amon Düül split for the first time in 1981 (they reformed in 2010), Karrer released a solo albums and contributed to jazz-rock band Embryo. More solo albums followed in the 1990s, on which Karrer experimented with diverse influences, such as flamenco and sufism.

The Suffragette
It is quite remarkable that of the four principal adult actors in 1964’s Mary Poppins, three were alive when 2023 turned to 2023. A few days into the new year, the Banks children’s mother Glynis Johns joined Mr Banks’ David Tomlinson in the afterlife, at the grand age of 100.

South African-born Johns had only one song in the film, Sister Suffragette. Later she was the first singer to perform the classic Send In The Clowns in the 1973 Broadway musical A Little Night Music; for which she won a Tony. Stephen Sondheim wrote the song specifically for Johns, to compensate for her inability to hold a long note; that is why the song is structured in short phrases and questions.

The Fusing Swede
ABBA fans will want to check out the Ainbusk Singers’ song Lassie, Sweden’s Christmas #1 in 1990, which was co-written and produced by Benny Andersson. He composed the music, while the text was written by Marie Nilsson, who has died 62. I would wager that on his deathbed, Benny will not regard that as his proudest musical moment, but its folk tune and sentimental lyrics about a lonely girl who met the eponymous dog clearly had popular appeal.

Ainbusk (they dropped the “Singers” part of their name in the late 1990s) were a pop-folk group of four women singers, including Marie and her sister Josefine, who died in 2016. They often covered English songs in Swedish, incorporating the folk music of their country in their interpretations.

The Football Legend
Just over a year ago we lost Pelé, the greatest attacking football (or, for our US viewers, “soccer”) player of his generation and possibly all time; on January 7 the greatest all-round player of all time, Franz Beckenbauer, joined the Celestial XI. And like Pelé, Beckenbauer tried himself as a singer, which explains why he appears here.

In 1966/67 the young player, still only 21, released two singles. Neither as a hit, but the flip-side of the first of them, went on to become something of a cult number, a song titled Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (Nobody can break up good friends). The b-side of the follow up had a suitably clichéd title: One-Nil For Love. Thankfully Beckenbauer subsequently pursued his sporting talent rather than his warbling aspirations.

As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Jay Clayton, 82, avant-garde jazz singer and educator, on Dec. 31
Jay Clayton – You Taught My Heart To Sing (2001)

Chris Karrer, 76, guitarist and composer with German rock band Amon Düül II, on Jan. 2
Amon Düül II – All The Years Round (1972)
Amon Düül II – Emigrant Song (1975)
Chris Karrer – Bolero Moro (1994)

Tawl Ross, 75, rhythm guitarist of Funkadelic (1968-71), on Jan. 3
Funkadelic – Super Stupid (1971, also as co-writer)

Quinho do Salgueiro, 66, Brazilian samba singer, on Jan. 3

David Soul, 80, actor and singer, on Jan. 4
David Soul – The Covered Man (1966)
David Soul – Silver Lady (1977)
David Soul – It Sure Brings Out the Love in Your Eyes (1978)

Glynis Johns, 100, South African-born British actress, on Jan. 4
Glynis Johns – I Can’t Resist Men (1954)
Glynis Johns – Sister Suffragette (1964)
Glynis Johns – Send In The Clowns (1973)

Ruy Mingas, 84, Angolan composer, singer, guitarist and politician, on Jan. 4
Ruy Mingas – Mu Cinkola (1970)
Ruy Mingas – Pango Dia Penha (1974)
Angola Avante (National anthem of Angola) (as composer in 1975)

Marie Nilsson Lind, 62, singer with Swedish pop band Ainbusk, on Jan. 4
Ainbusk Singers – Lassie (1990, also as lyricist)
Ainbusk Singers – Varje steg du tar (Every Breath You Take) (1993)

Morfi Grei, 64, Spanish rock singer, on Jan. 4

Mike Ross-Trevor, British recording engineer, announced Jan. 5
Fleetwood Mac – Black Magic Woman (1968, as engineer)
Culture Club – Victims (1983, orchestral overdub)

Del Palmer, 71, English singer-songwriter, bass guitarist for Kate Bush, engineer, on Jan. 5
Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) (1985, on fretless bass)

Gene Deer, 59, blues, rock and country musician, on Jan. 5
Gene Deer & The Blues Band – Just Shoulda’ Lay’d Off’a The Booze (1998)

Larry Collins, 79, half of duo The Collins Kids, guitarist, songwriter, on Jan. 5
The Collins Kids – Hop, Skip And Jump (1957, also on guitar)
Tanya Tucker – Delta Dawn (1972, as co-writer)

Terry Goldberg (aka Tom Parker), organist of UK blues-rock band Mark Leeman 5, on Jan. 6
Mark Leeman 5 – Portland Town (1965)

Amparo Rubín, 68, Mexican singer and lyricist, on Jan. 6

Iasos, 76, Greek-born new age musician, on Jan. 6
Iasos – Aries (1975)

Sarah Rice, 68, theatre actress and singer, on Dec. 6
Sarah Rice – Green Finch And Linnet Bird (1986)

Tony Clarkin, 77, guitarist and songwriter of UK rock band Magnum, on Jan. 7
Magnum – It Must Have Been Love (1988, also as writer)

Germana Caroli, 92, Italian singer, on Jan. 7
Germana Caroli – Ehi tu! (1954)

Jacky Boyadjian, 79, French jazz musician (Les Happy Stompers), on Jan. 7

Franz Beckenbauer, 78, German football legend, schlager singer, on Jan. 7
Franz Beckenbauer – Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (1966)

Guy Bonnet, 78, French singer, composer and author, on Jan. 8
Guy Bonnet – Marie Blanche (1970, also as co-writer)

Phill Niblock, 90, avant-garde composer and filmmaker, on Dec. 8

Gian Franco Reverberi, 89, Italian film composer and musician, on Jan. 8
Gianfranco & Gianpiero Reverberi – Nel cimitero di Tucson (1968, as co-composer)

Diego Gallardo, 31, Ecuadorian singer-songwriter, shot by stray gangster bullet on Jan. 9

James Kottak, 61, hard rock drummer, on Jan. 9
Scorpions – 10 Light Years Away (1999, as member)

Audie Blaylock, 61, bluegrass singer and guitarist, on Jan. 10
Audie Blaylock and Redline – (Is This) My Destiny (2019)

Sigi Schwab, 83, German jazz musician, on Jan. 11

Annie Nightingale, 83, pioneering English BBC disc-jockey, on Jan. 11

Bill Hayes, 98, singer and actor, on Jan. 12
Bill Hayes – Ballad Of Davy Crockett (1955)

Anthony Holt, 83, baritone with English a cappella group The King’s Singers, on Jan. 12

Jo-El Sonnier, 77, country and Cajun singer-songwriter and accordionist, on Jan. 13
Jo-El Sonnier – No More One More Time (1987)

Jerry Coker, 91, jazz saxophonist and educator, on Jan. 15

Enrique ‘Zurdo’ Roizner, 84, Argentine drummer, on Jan. 14
Kevin Johansen + The Nada – El Palomo (2004, on drums)

Dana Ghia, 91, Italian actress and singer, announced Dec. 15
Dana Ghia – Per tutta la vita (1959)

Ernst August Wehmer, 72, singer of German punk band Rotzkotz, announced Jan. 16

Laurie Johnson, 96, English film & TV composer and bandleader, on Jan. 16
The Laurie Johnson Orchestra – Sucu Sucu (Theme from ‘Top Secret’) (1961)
The Laurie Johnson Orchestra – ‘The New Avengers’ Theme (1976, also as composer)

Serge Laprade, 83, Canadian singer and broadcaster, on Jan. 17

Slim Pezin, 78, French guitarist, arranger and conductor, on Jan. 18
Voyage – From East To West (1977, as member on guitar, percussions, and as co-writer)
Mylène Farmer – Maman à tort (1984, on guitar)

Silent Servant, 46, Guatemalan-born techno DJ and producer, on Jan. 18

The Soft Moon, 44, rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 18
The Soft Moon – Far (2015)

Katelele Ching’oma, 32, Malawian musician, on Jan. 18

Mary Weiss, 75, lead singer of The Shangri-Las, on Jan. 19
The Shangri-Las – Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand) (1964, on lead vocals)
The Shangri-Las – I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965, on lead vocals)
The Shangri-Las – Take The Time (1967, on lead vocals)

Marlena Shaw, 81, soul and jazz singer, on Jan. 19
Marlena Shaw – Liberation Conversation (1969, also as co-writer)
Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto (live) (1974, also as co-writer)
Marlena Shaw – Loving You Was Like A Party (1975)
Marlena Shaw – Ma/Go Away Little Boy (1977)

Charles Austin, 93, jazz saxophonist and flutist, composer, on Jan. 19
Joe Gallivan & Charles Austin – Cry Of Hope (1976, also as composer)

Pluto Shervington, 73, Jamaican reggae musician, singer, producer, on Jan. 19
Pluto Shervington – Dat (1975, also as writer)

Charles Boles, 91, jazz pianist, on Jan. 19

Frank Shea, 93, jazz and R&B drummer, on Jan. 20
Willis Jackson & Brother Jack McDuff – Backtrack (1967, on drums)

Charis Kostopoulos, 59, Greek singer-songwriter, on Jan. 20

Philippe ‘Fifi’ Combelle, 84, French jazz drummer, on Jan. 20
Toots Thielemans – Talk To Me (1961, on drums)
Georges Moustaki – Ma Liberté (live) (1970, on tabla)

Neil Kulkarni, 51, music journalist, podcaster and member of Moonbears, on Jan. 22
The Moonbears – Waxheads (2013, also as co-writer)
The Moonbears – Do This To Death (2016, also as co-writer)

Frank DeVito, 93, session drummer and percussionist, on Jan. 22
The Mills Brothers – The Glow-Worm (1952, on drums)
Frank Sinatra – Witchcraft (1957, on drums)
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A. (1963, om drums)
Elvis Presley – Trouble/Guitar Man (live (1968, on bongos)

Margo Smith, 84, country singer, on Jan. 22
Margo Smith – Still A Woman (1978)

Sergei Yefremenko, 51, singer-guitarist of Russian ska band Markscheider Kunst, on Jan. 22

Melanie Safka, 76, singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 23
Melanie – Look What They’ve Done To My Song Ma (1970)
Melanie – Brand New Key (1971)
Melanie – Didn’t You Ever Love Somebody (1983)

Black Kappa, 46, Jamaican rapper, on Jan. 23

Frank Farian, 82, German singer, songwriter, producer, svengali, on Jan. 23
Frank Farian – Rocky (1975)
Boney M. – Baby Do You Wanna Bump (1975, as Boney M.)
Boney M. – Ma Baker (1977, as producer and on vocals)
La Bouche – Fallin’ In Love (1994, as producer)

Anders ‘Dagger’ Sandberg, 55, singer of Swedish dance band Rednex, on Jan. 23

Anders Lampe, 59, guitarist of Danish pop band Bamses Venner, on Jan. 24

Shelley Ganz, lead singer, rhythm guitarist of garage band The Unclaimed, announced Jan. 24
The Unclaimed – Time To Time (1980)

Conrad Chase, 58, actor, singer and reality TV personality, announced Jan. 25

Bruno Amstad, c.59, Swiss jazz singer, on Jan. 25

Michael Watford, 80, house music singer, on Jan. 26
Michael Watford – So Into You (1994)

Michel Hausser, 96, French jazz vibraphonist, on Jan. 26

Dean Brown, 68, jazz fusion guitarist and singer, composer, on Jan. 26
Dean Brown – Feed My Jones (2004, also as writer)

Lillebjørn Nilsen, 73, Norwegian folk singer-songwriter, on Jan. 27

Franco Tozzi, 79, Italian singer, on Jan. 29
Franco Tozzi – I Tuoi Occhi Verdi (1965)

Tony Cedras, 71, South African jazz multi-instrumentalist, on Jan. 29
Pacific Express – Look At The Smile (1979, as member on keyboards)
Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years (live) (1991, on keyboard)

Yuri Ilchenko, 72, singer and guitarist with Russian rock bands Mify, Zemlyane, on Jan. 29

Hinton Battle, 67, stage musical and TV actor, dancer and soul singer, on Jan. 30
Hinton Battle – Is It Too Late (1986)

Chita Rivera, 91, stage and TV actress, singer, on Jan. 30|
Chita Rivera – Ten Cents A Dance (1962)


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In Memoriam – December 2023

January 2nd, 2024 4 comments

We have entered the mid-2020s now. WTF? Do you realise that 2040 is as soon as 2008 is recent? In 2008, this blog was already going and listed twice on The Guardian’s blog-roll of recommended sites. I doubt it’ll still be going in 2040 (or whether humanity will still be going).

Anyway, here’s the list of December 2023’s dead and their music — a busy old month. That’s true even outside music. The death in December that hit the hardest was that of actor André Braugher on December 11. In my view, he was one of the great actors of his generation, especially in his masterful portrayal of Det. Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life On The Streets.

The Wingsman
Often unjustly seen as merely the third wheel on the Wings tandem that was Paul and Linda (or as the foreman of the other two transient members), Denny Laine was a loyal lieutenant to McCartney’s creative genius. At times the multi-instrumentalist contributed with his songwriting, most famously as the co-writer of the record-breaking single Mull Of Kintyre (a song he later re-recorded on a solo album of Wings songs).

Laine befriended McCartney when his band, The Moody Blues, toured with The Beatles in 1965. The same year, having sung lead on the group’s 1964 breakthrough hit Go Now, Laine left The Moody Blues, and formed a couple of bands, but to no great effect. He also played in the supergroup Ginger Baker’s Air Force before hooking up with McCartney to form Wings.

The Jazz Innovator
In jazz pianist Les McCann, who has died at 88, we have lost a pioneer in soul-jazz who helped shaped the sound of jazz in the 1960s and ’70s. He fused his improvisational jazz techniques with R&B, soul, blues and gospel, creating often catchy grooves that could cross over. In the early 1970s, he was one of the first musicians to make extensive use of the synthesizer in jazz.

McCann, a dynamic live performer, often incorporated social and political themes in his work.

His 1969 live album with saxophonist Eddie Harris, Les McCann Ltd. in San Francisco, is considered a landmark recording in the soul jazz. It produced a hit with the anti-Vietnam War hit Compared To What, a song written by his pal Gene McDaniels which McCann had previously recorded in 1966. It also appeared on Roberta Flack’s debut album; a year later McCann would duet with Flack on his soul album Comment — and the great pianist even had Flack contribute on piano to several tracks.

McCann was also an accomplished artist and photographer.

The Smothers Brother
Half of comedy duo Smothers Brothers is now gone, after the death at 86 of Tom Smothers. The act — first a folk-duo before switching to comedy with musical interludes — didn’t travel well outside America, but in the US they were legends. In the 1960s they had their own comedy TV show, which was cancelled because of their political content and countercultural leanings.

After it was cancelled in 1969, the show won an Emmy Award for Best Writing. Tom was the show’s lead writer, but asked not to be listed in the nomination because he knew that his name was controversial. The academy corrected thus by presenting Tom with an Emmy four decades llater. The Smothers Brothers were inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2010.

Tom was the left-winger of the duo, with brother Dick more moderate in his politics. Tom was on stage at the legendary Monterey Festival in 1967 to introduce acts, and was part of the live recording of his friend John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance during the Montreal Bed-in, which was released as a single. See the clip here.

He also had the pleasure of being punched by Bill Cosby, who took exception to being told that he did not involve himself enough in the struggle for civil rights. Who knew that Cosby was not a nice guy?

Tom Smothers also appeared in a number of films.

The Shooting Star
Since scoring a huge hit in South Africa with her superb 2011 debut album Loliwe, the country’s second-fastest selling album ever, Afro soul singer Zahara was one of her country’s most popular singers, performing in Xhosa and English. By the time she died after a short illness at the absurdly young age of 36, the singer-songwriter and guitarist had released five studio albums, and a live set. She won 17 South African Music Awards.

Born as Bulelwa Mkutukana in a shantytown in East London, Zahara (her stage is Arabic for “blooming flower”) was a sensation when she burst on to the scene, and was even invited to perform for Nelson Mandela at his home, shortly before his death in December 2013.

Her second album came out in 2013, but then tragedy struck in the form of the murder of her brother in 2014, which sent her into a depression and battles with alcohol addiction, which caused the liver damage that eventually killed her.

The Hard Rocker
As the co-founder of Canadian rock band April Wine, Myles Goodwyn was the band’s lead singer and principal songwriter, and usually producer or co-producer, leading the group from its founding in 1969, through the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, to its final concert on March 2, 2023, in Truro, Nova Scotia. He released 16 studio albums with April Wine, and two albums as a solo artist.

Earlier this year, Goodwyn was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, where he resides alongside the likes of Robbie Robertson, Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson, whom we have also lost in the 12 months preceding his death.

The Jazz Master
As a young man in 1957-58, Willie Ruff played for Miles Davis on the French horn; a decade or so later, he backed Leonard Cohen on the bass, and soon after Shuggie Otis and the post-Morrison Doors.

He almost made it on to Joni Mitchell’s great Blue album, but the take of River on which he contributed with the French horn wasn’t used. He also played on unused versions of Urge For Going and Hunter; the three tracks finally were released in a box set in 2021.

Aside from releasing two solo albums and 16 with jazz pianist Dwike Mitchell (a lifelong friend after they met in 1947 in the army), Ruff backed acts like Lionel Hampton, Gil Evans, Oscar Peterson, Quincy Jones, Milt Jackson, Lalo Schifrin, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Stitt, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Les McCann, and many others.

Before he even started recording, Alabama-born Ruff had earned a Master’s degree in music from Yale University. From 1971 until 2017, when he retired at the age of 86, he was a professor at Yale, teaching music history, ethnomusicology, and arranging. Wikipedia tells us: “Ruff’s classes at Yale, often with partner Dwike Mitchell, were free-flowing jam sessions: roller-coaster rides through the colours of American Improvisational Music. The duo could play in the style of most notable jazz artists and related styles.”

He was also a founding director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship Program at Yale, a school-based initiative established in 1972, which is estimated to have reached 180,000 young people in its first 30 years.

The Songwriter
She never had her big breakthrough but Essra Mohawk became something of a cult figure and other singers had success with songs she wrote. Things might have been different for the early Zappa collaborator, who was born in Philadelphia as Sandra Hurvitz. In 1969, she was supposed to perform at Woodstock, but her manager messed up that opportunity.

Essra took the stage surname from her husband, producer Frazier Mohawk (née Friedman). Between 1969 and 2017 she released 14 album. She also wrote for other acts, scoring hits with 1986’s Change Of Heart by Cyndi Lauper and Stronger Than The Wind by Tina Turner, and did backing vocals for acts like Kool & The Gang, John Mellencamp, and Carole King.

The Dub Poet
British-Jamaican poet Benjamin Zephaniah was best-known for spoken word poetry and writings, and maybe his forays into acting. A well-known public figure in Britain, Zephaniah was also an energetic activist and commentator on social and political issues. In 2008, The Times listed him among Britain’s top 50 post-war writers

His poetry and activism found a platform in his recorded music. Between 1983 and 2018 he released about a dozen dub poetry albums, some of them collaborations with others, dealing with themes such as racism, inequality, and social justice.

The Bossa Nova Pioneer
The kicked-back variation of samba which we call bossa nova didn’t have a name yet when composer Carlos Lyra contributed to its rise. He was part of a group of musicians around the popular singer Sylvia Telles whom a journalist dubbed “the Bossa Nova group”. That was in 1957, and the name stuck. Two years later, Lyra wrote for the singer who would come to personify the genre like few others, João Gilberto.

Lyra collaborated with the likes of Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Geraldo Vandré.

The Hitwriter
When Richard Kerr put music to Scott English’s lyrics for the song Brandy, he had no way of knowing that he had just written one of the big hits of the 1970s and the 2000s. It did little business for Scott English, but retitled as Mandy, it was a massive hit for Barry Manilow in 1974, and again for Westlife in 2003.

Manilow would have hits with other Kerr song: Looks Like We’ve Made It and Somewhere In the Night; the latter was also a hit for Helen Reddy. Kerr also wrote the memorable tunes for hits like Dionne Warwick’s I’ll Never Love This Way Again (originally recorded by Cheryl Ladd) and, earlier in his career, Blue Eyes, a UK #3 hit for Don Partridge in 1968.

The Funkster
Even if you are not familiar with the eight-album solo output of soul-funkster Amp Fiddler, or his work in the 1980s and ’90s with George Clinton, you’ll have heard him play keyboards on hits such as Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, Charles & Eddie’s Would I Lie To You, or Brand New Heavies’ Dream On Dreamer.

Fiddler also backed acts like Warren Zevon, Was (Not Was), Prince, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Jamiroquai, Maxwell, Angélique Kidjo, Leon Ware, Corinne Bailey Rae, Qwestlife, Meshell’ Ndegeocello and others.

The ’50s Singer
Born as Lorraine DiAngelis, Lola Dee recorded under two names in the early and mid-1950s, though she had been signed to her first recording contract as a 16-year-old in 1944. Adopting her mother’s maiden name, she had some success as Lola Ameche, scoring Top 30 hits with Pretty Eyed Baby and Hitsity Hotsity in 1951.

As Lola Dee she had a couple more hits, selling a reported half a million with a version of The Platters’ Only You in 1955. By 1957 her recording career was over. Lola Dee, who could sing in almost any genre, toured with the likes of Bob Hope, Johnnie Ray, and Jimmy Durante. She kept performing until the late 1970s

The First Drummer
It’s a story of what might have been… When AC/DC recorded their first single in 1974 — a glam number titled Can I Sit Next To You, Girl — the band’s original drummer was Colin Burgess. The drummer had already tasted some success with the band Master’s Apprentice, with whom he had three Australian Top 20 hits.

Burgess didn’t last long in AC/DC. He was fired for being drunk on stage (he claimed his drinks had been spiked). Successor Phil Rudd was on the drums when Can I Sit Next To You Girl was re-recorded for the High Voltage album, with Bon Scott on vocals instead of original singer Dave Evans.

In a twist of fate, Burgess met Bon Scott at the Music Factory in London on the night in February 1980 when the singer died, becoming one of the last people to speak with Scott.

The Tennis Pro
If ever there was an all-rounder, Torben Ulrich was one. The father of Metallica’s Lar Ulrich had a long career as a tennis player, from 1940s to the latter parts of the 1970s, becoming the oldest-ever Davis Cup player in history, representing Denmark. He reached the 4th round of the US Open on four occasions between 1953 and 1968.

In between, he was also a writer for Danish jazz magazines and newspapers, and was the co-editor of a literary magazine. Several books of his writings on various subjects have been published. Ulrich also appeared in a couple of films, and directed a few more. At the age of 82, he directed a dance project in Seattle. He was also an internationally exhibited artist.

In the 1950s, Ulrich played the clarinet in a Dixieland jazz band. Half a century later, he released the first of five free jazz albums, between 2005 and 2021.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Roy Gerson, 64, jazz pianist and actor, on Dec. 2
Roy Gerson – Somebody Loves Me (1992)

Myles Goodwyn, 75, lead singer, guitarist, songwriter of April Wine, on Dec. 3
April Wine – Tonite Is A Wonderful Time To Fall In Love (1974, also as writer and co-producer)
April Wine – Child’s Garden (1977, also as writer and producer)
April Wine – Enough Is Enough (1982, also as writer and co-producer)

Vlado Pravdić, 73, Bosnian keyboardist of Yugoslav rock band Bijelo Dugme, on Dec. 4
Bijelo Dugme – Selma (1974)

John Hyatt, c.63, singer of English post punk band The Three Johns, on Dec. 4
The Three Johns – Brainbox (He’s A Brainbox) (1985)

Denny Laine, 79, musician and singer (Wings, Moody Blues), songwriter, on Dec. 5
The Moody Blues – Go Now (1964, on lead vocals)
Ginger Baker’s Air Force – You Wouldn’t Believe It (1970, as member and co-writer)
Wings – Time To Hide (1976, on lead vocals and as writer)
Denny Laine – Mull Of Kintyre (1996, also as co-writer)

Mama Diabaté, 63, Guinean singer and musician, on Dec. 5
Mama Diabaté – Djouya (1993)

Lils Mackintosh, 68, Dutch jazz and blues singer, on Dec. 5
Lils Mackintosh – On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1997)

Jimmy Villotti, 79, Italian jazz musician, on Dec. 6
Jimmy Villotti – Drin Drin (1993)

Michel Sardaby, 88, French jazz pianist and composer, on Dec. 6
Michel Sardaby – Gail (1965)

Lola Dee, 95, pop singer, on Dec. 7
Lola Ameche – Rock The Joint (1952)
Lola Dee – Altar Of Love (1954)

Benjamin Zephaniah, 65, British poet, writer, actor, dub recording artist, on Dec. 7
Benjamin Zephaniah – Free South Afrika (1986, also as writer and on percussions)
Benjamin Zephaniah – Wake Up (1996)

Teresa Silva Carvalho, 88, Portuguese singer, on Dec. 7

Ramón Ayala, 96, Argentinian poet and singer, on Dec. 7
Ramón Ayala – El Mensú (1976)

Terry Baucom, 71, bluegrass singer and banjo player, on Dec. 7
Boone Creek – Dixieland (1977, as member on banjo)

Nidra Beard, 71, singer with disco trio Dynasty, on Dec. 8
Dynasty – I Don’t Wanna Be A Freak (1979)

Cayle Sain, 31, drummer of metal band Twitching Tongues, on Dec. 10

Jimmy Ayoub, 70, drummer of Canadian band Mahogany Rush, on Dec. 10
Mahogany Rush – Land Of 1000 Nights (1975)

Chuck Stern, 44, frontman of experimental rock band Time of Orchids, on Dec. 10
Time of Orchids – Darling Abandon (2007)

Essra Mohawk, 75, folk singer-songwriter, on Dec. 11
Essra Mohawk – I’ll Give It To You Anyway (1970)
Essra Mohawk – Openin’ My Love Doors (1974)
Cyndi Lauper – Change Of Heart (1986, as writer)

Zahara, 36, South African Afro soul singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Dec. 11
Zahara – Ndize (2011)
Zahara – Bhekile (2013)
Zahara – Nqaba Yam (2021)

John ‘Rambo’ Stevens, English producer and manager, on Dec. 11

Richard Kerr, 78, English singer and songwriter, on Dec. 11
Scott English – Brandy (1972, also as composer)
Richard Kerr – Somewhere In The Night (1976, also as composer)
Dionne Warwick – I’ll Never Love This Way Again (1979, as composer)

Jeffrey Foskett, 67, singer, songwriter, producer (Beach Boys), on Dec. 11
Jeffrey Foskett – Sunshine All The Time (1997)

Ole Paus, 76, Norwegian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12

Jerry Puckett, 84, session guitarist, engineer, on Dec. 12
King Floyd – Groove Me (1971, on guitar and as engineer)

Travis Dopp, guitarist of punk band Small Brown Bike, on Dec. 13

Giorgos Tolios, 58, drummer of Greek alt.rock band TRYPES, on Dec. 14
ΤΡΥΠΕΣ – Το Τρένο (1993)

Rüdiger Wolff, 70, singer, songwriter, actor and TV presenter, on Dec. 14
Rüdiger Wolff – Wohin geh’n wir (1983)

Bob Johnson, 79, guitarist, singer and songwriter with Steeleye Span, on Dec. 15
Steeleye Span – Alison Gross (1973, on lead vocals)
Steeleye Span – Edward (1986, as writer and on lead vocals)

Guy Marchand, 86, French actor and singer, on Dec. 15
Guy Marchand – Ça vous laisse perplexe (1965)

Tim Norell, 68, Swedish musician, songwriter and producer, on Dec. 15
Secret Service – Cutting Corners (1982, as member on guitar and co-writer)

Pete Lucas, 73, bass guitarist of The Troggs (1974-2022), on Dec. 16
The Troggs – Feeling For Love (1977)

Carlos Lyra, 90, Brazilian singer, composer and Bossa Nova pioneer, on Dec. 16
Sylvia Telles – Menina (1954, as writer)
João Gilberto – Maria Ninguém (1959, as writer)
Carlos Lyra – Chora Tua Tristeza (1964, also as writer)

Óscar Agudelo, 91, Colombian singer, on Dec. 16

Colin Burgess, 77, Australian rock drummer, on Dec. 16
Master’s Apprentices – Because I Love You (1971, as member)
AC/DC – Can I Sit Next To You, Girl (1974, as member)

Manny Martínez, 69, ex-drummer of punk band The Misfits, on Dec. 16

Mike Maxfield, 79, songwriter, guitarist of English band The Dakotas, announced Dec. 17
The Dakotas – The Cruel Sea (1963, also as writer)
Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)

Amp Fiddler, 65, funk musician, composer and producer, on Dec. 17
Prince – We Can Funk (1990, on keyboards and backing vocals)
Brand New Heavies – Dream On Dreamer (1994, on keyboards)
Amp Fiddler – Possibilities (2003)

Lewis Pragasam, 66, Malaysian jazz fusion drummer, on Dec. 18

Susanna Parigi, 62, Italian singer-songwriter and pianist, on Dec. 18
Susanna Parigi – Grazie alla vita (2016)

Russell Hunter, 76, drummer with UK rock bands Pink Fairies, Deviants, on Dec. 19
The Deviants – You’ve Got To Hold On (1968, also as co-writer)
The Pink Fairies – The Snake (1971, also as co-writer)

Ronnie Caryl, 70, English guitarist and singer, on Dec. 19
Ronnie Caryl – You Got It (1983, also as writer)

Bram Inscore, 41, electro-pop musician, songwriter and producer, by suicide on Dec. 19
Troye Sivan – Youth (2015, as co-writer and co-producer)

Eric Moyo, 41, Zimbabwean gospel singer, on Dec. 20

Torben Ulrich, 95, Danish tennis player, writer and free jazz musician, on Dec. 20
Torben Ulrich in CLINCH – Preface (2004)

Laura Lynch, 65, singer-bassist of the Dixie Chicks (1990-93), in traffic accident on Dec. 22
The Dixie Chicks Cowgirl Band – The Thrill Is In The Chase (1993, also as co-writer)

Ingrid Steeger, 76, German comedian and occasional singer, on Dec. 22
Ingrid Steeger – Der Schneemann (1975)

Lisandro Meza, 86, Colombian singer and accordionist, on Dec. 23

Willie Ruff, 92, jazz musician and educator, on Dec. 24
Miles Davis – Summertime (1958, on French horn)
Willie Ruff – Sheffield Blues (1968)
Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne (1968, on bass)
Joni Mitchell – River (with French Horns) (1970, rel. 2021, on French horn)

John Cutler, 73, engineer and producer, on Dec. 24
The Grateful Dead – Touch Of Grey (1987, as co-producer and engineer)

David Freeman, 84, bluegrass producer and historian, on Dec. 25

Tom Smothers, 86, half of comedy duo The Smothers Brothers, actor, on Dec. 26
The Smothers Brothers – Down In The Valley (1962)
The Smothers Brothers – Long Time Blues (1965)
Plastic Ono Band – Give Peace A Chance (1969, as backing singer)

Tony Oxley, 85, English free jazz drummer, label founder, on Dec. 26

Mbongeni Ngema, 67, South African playwright and composer, in car crash on Dec. 27
Mbongeni Ngema – Freedom Is Coming (1992, as writer, producer, arranger and on horns)

Michael Gibbons Jr, guitarist with metal band Leeway, on Dec. 27

Tommy Talton, 74, guitarist, singer, songwriter with country-rock band Cowboy, on Dec. 28
We The People – You Burn Me Up And Down (1966, as member and writer)
Cowboy – 5’ll Getcha Ten (1971, also as writer and on lead vocals)

Pedro Suárez-Vértiz, 54, singer-songwriter with Peruvian rock band Arena Hash, on Dec. 29

Les McCann, 88, jazz pianist and singer, artist, on Dec. 29
Les McCann Ltd. – Too Close for Comfort (1961)
Les McCann & Eddie Harris – Compared To What? (1969)
Les McCann feat. Roberta Flack – Baby Baby (1970)
Les McCann – Harlem Buck Dance Strut (1973)

Sandra Reaves-Phillips, 79, actress, writer and singer, on Dec. 29

Maurice Hines, 80, dancer, jazz singer and actor, on Dec. 29
Maurice – I’ve Never Been In Love Before (2000)

Sam Burtis, 75, jazz musician, on Dec. 29

Klee Benally, 48, guitarist of Native-American alt.rock group Blackfire, on Dec. 30
Blackfire – Mean Things Happenin’ In This World (2003)

Torsun Burkhardt, 49, singer and bassist of German electropunk band Egotronic, on Dec. 30

Shmulik Bilu, 71, member of Israeli vocal group Milk & Honey, on Dec. 31
Milk And Honey – Hallelujah (1979)

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2023

December 5th, 2023 5 comments

It seemed to be a fairly quiet month, without any really big-name deaths. Of course, with the Christmas season in mind, there was the passing Fanita James, who appeared on the Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album as a member of Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, and of Mars Williams, whose sax work we may hear this festive season on The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping. Then, just as November was about to fade into December, another Christmas song became a tribute, in the form of Fairytale Of New York. I must admit that no music death has hit me as hard as Shane MacGowan’s has since that double whammy of John Prine and Bill Withers in that cursed month April 2020.

The Great Poet
A couple of years ago, Shane MacGowan said in an interview: “I know that I’m going to live to be 88, at least, and I’m still going to feel cheated… but you can’t argue with death.” Death caught up with MacGowan at the age of 65. It was one of the less surprising news of a celebrity passing, but it landed a heavy punch nonetheless, at least for those who have been fans of The Pogues and MacGowan’s lyrics, many of which are pure poetry.

Even in his twenties, MacGowan looked like he was permanently at death’s door. It turns out, he was just ringing its bell and running away. By all accounts, he was the nicest kind of guys, though his battles with alcohol led to his ejection from The Pogues.

What MacGowan and The Pogues did for Irish folk music, at a time when many young Irish people were feeling alienated from it, is said to be immense. Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins recognised that when he issued a long and thoughtful statement on the passing of MacGowan, who was born in London as the son of Irish immigrants (his mother was a renowned folk singer).

MacGowan was not just a writer of songs; he was a poet. And those wonderful lyrics, though they can stand as poems in their own right, are really inseparable from that voice which could barely hold a tune. You don’t really want somebody else singing a MacGowan song (which is why I haven’t even entertained the idea of doing a Songbook). It might be competent, it might even be good, but the lyrics would lose some of their meaning. I cannot think of many singing songwriters of whom you can say that.

The Blossom
The girl-group hit He’s a Rebel is attributed to The Crystals, but the song was actually recorded by The Blossoms, a trio comprising Darlene Love, Jean King, and Fanita James, who has died at 85. The Blossoms started recording in the 1950s, but never hit the big time. They were, however, sought-after backing singers.

In 1959, they backed Sam Cooke on his Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha (admittedly not Cook’s finest moment). After singing the 1962 chart-topper He’s A Rebel (The Crystals were mortified by being credited for it), The Blossoms did backing vocals on many of the great Phil Spector recordings. They sung vocals on tracks like You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ by The Righteous Brothers, Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep – Mountain High, Doris Day’s Move Over Darling, Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, Betty Everett’s The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss), and many more.

In 1968, they provided backing vocals on Elvis Presley’s comeback TV special, and on the classic 1964 T.A.M.I. show, they backed Marvin Gaye.

Love (then still Darlene Wright) and James (then still Fanita Barrett) were also part of the trio Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, scoring a hit with Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah.

Throughout the 1960s, The Blossoms periodically released singles — including their own versions of Righteous Brothers hits they had appeared on, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and Soul And Inspiration — but released only one album, a very good effort titled Shockwave in 1972. James remained a Blossom for almost all of the rest of her life.

The Joke Guitarist
The heading might mislead you to think that Geordie Walker was a novelty performer. That he most certainly was not. As lead guitarist of post-punk legends Killing Joke, he created his own distinctive sound. On the band’s biggest hit, 1985’s Love Like Blood, his three-note opening sounds like a riff from Bach.

Born as Kevin Walker — Geordie was a nickname referring to his northern English origins — he created his distinctive sound on a 1952 Gibson ES-295 hollow body electric guitar. That sound would find an echo in the works of a generation of rock guitarists. Walker later joined up with other post-punk stars for the “supergroups” Damage Manual and Murder Inc.

The Soul Sister
In 1971 Jean Knight had a huge hit with Mr Big Stuff, a song she had recorded a year earlier and which had found no takers until Stax decided to give it a release. It became a million-seller, and is still a go-to track for any movie or TV scene in which a man who thinks he’s a big shot needs some pegging down.

The New Orleans singer didn’t have hits for many years after but made a living from performing. In 1985 she returned to the charts with her version of the zydeco song My Toot-Toot. Denise LaSalle’s concurrent version was a hit in the UK, but Knight’s did better in the US.  According to the Stax Museum, Knight was the label’s top-selling female artist.

The Kool Drummer
Kool’ gang is slowly diminishing. With the death at 74 of drummer George ‘Funky’ Brown, there are now nine departed members. Of the great 1979-82 Kool & The Gang line-up, six of ten members have departed.

Brown was with Kool & The Gang from the band’s founding in 1963 till his death 60 years later. Until 1998 he played the drums and/or percussions, after that he stuck to percussions only. He also co-wrote many of their songs, including hits such as Ladies’ Night, Celebration, Big Fun, Jungle Boogie, Open Sesame, Jones vs. Jones, Take My Heart, and Summer Madness, and on his own the sublime Too Hot (which I had been playing literally minutes before I learnt of the man’s death).

The African Connection
Portugal has lost a wonderful singer in Sara Tavares, who has died of a brain tumour at the young age of 45. The daughter of immigrants from the African island nation of Cabo Verde, Tavares was 16 years old when she won a Portuguese TV singing contest in 1994, performing Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time. That same year, she won the national decider for Portugal’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. In the international contest she finished 8th.

Tavares fused the sounds of Portugal with those of Africa, especially the gentle Latin-tinged sounds of Cabo Verde, and jazz and pop.

The Woodstock Producer
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969 was supposed to be a money-making operation. But as the crowds uncontrollably descended upon the farm in Bethel, NY, a voice announced from the stage that it would now be a free concert. That voice belonged to John Morris, the Woodstock production coordinator who has died at 84.

From the stage at Woodstock, Morris announced: “What it means is that the people who are backing this thing, who put up the money for it are gonna take a bit of a bath, a big bath. That’s no hype, that’s truth, they’re gonna get hurt. But what it means is that these people who put this thing here, have it in their heads … that your welfare and their welfare is a hell of a lot more important than the music is, than the dollar.”

Before he got involved with Woodstock, Morris was a concert producer for acts like Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and the Grateful Dead, working with the legendary Bill Graham. After Woodstock, he turned London’s venerable Finsbury Park Astoria cinema into the legendary Rainbow Theatre, with The Who the first of many acts who played there for the next ten years. The Who’s song Long Live Rock refers to that first Rainbow gig: “Down at the Astoria the scene was changing, bingo and rock were pushing out x-rating. We were the first band to vomit at the bar and find the distance to the stage too far”.

The Last Pacemaker
With the death of pianist Les Maguire, all members of the classic line-up of Gerry And The Pacemakers are gone. Gerry Marsden died in 2021, Les Chadwick in 20916, and Freddie Marsden in 2006.

The Liverpool band was the first to have UK #1 hits with each of their first three singles, How Do You Do It? (a song first earmarked for The Beatles), I Like It, and You’ll Never Walk Alone. Maguire had just joined the Pacemakers when the band merged with the still unknown Beatles, still with Pete Best, for a one-off performance at Litherland Town Hall as The Beatmakers. Maguire played the sax that night.

The Soul Brother
Last month I posted the South African pop classic Quick Quick by MarcAlex to mark the death of producer Ricky Wolff. On November 9, the first half of the soul duo passed on. Marc Rantseli died at 58 after two weeks in hospital. The Soweto brothers Marc and Alex had a few hits in 1989 and the early 1990s, but then things went quiet around them, despite collaborations with the likes of Hugh Masekela.

The Original
If you lived in Europe in the 1970s, you will have heard the brutally upbeat hit Y Viva Espana in many different versions, some more annoying than others, but all lowest common-denominator schlager fare. Somehow fittingly, the ode to Spain’s longevity emerged not from Franco’s torture cells but from that bastion of finest pop refinement, Belgium. Written by a pair called Leo Caerts and Leo Rozenstraten (the latter made up the word “eviva”, possibly having confused Italian with Spanish, as you do), it was first recorded in Dutch by Samantha, whose death certificate states her civil name, Christiane Bervoets.

Samantha had a long career in Belgium, releasing records between 1967 and 2008, almost all in Dutch, with rare forays into French and German.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Elvis with The Blossoms at his 1968 TV Special. Fanita James is second from right.

Bill Rice, 84, country songwriter and singer, on Oct. 28
Mickey Gilley – Here Comes The Hurt Again (1978, as co-writer)

Pelle Hökengren, 61, member of Swedish pop group Trance Dance, on Oct. 29
Trance Dance – Don’t Say Go (1987)

Aaron Spears, 47, American drummer on Oct. 30
Chaka Khan – One For All Time (2007, on drums)

Vic Vergeat, 72, Italian rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, on Nov. 1
Vic Vergat – Down To The Bone (1981)

Pierre Dutour, 91, French trumpeter, composer and conductor, on Nov. 1
Pierre Dutour – Modern Life (1974)

Michel Pilz, 78, German jazz clarinettist, on Nov. 2

Pete Garner, 61, bassist of The Stone Roses (1983–87), on Nov. 3
The Stone Roses – So Young (1985)

Manuel Castillo Girón, 83, Honduran singer-songwriter, on Nov. 4

Lolita Rodrigues, 94, Brazilian singer and actress, on Nov. 5
Lolita Rodrigues – Posso Esquecer (1977)

Anne Hart, 90, British actress and singer, on Nov. 5

Sean Martin, 26, singer-guitarist of English indie band The Night Café, announced Nov. 6
The Night Café – The Way Of Mary (2017)

Darlyn Morais, 28, Brazilian singer, on Nov. 6

Dino Piana, 93, Italian jazz musician, on Nov. 6

Heath, 55, bassist of Japanese rock band X Japan, announced Nov. 7
X Japan – Tears (1993)

C-Knight, 52, rapper with G-funk group The Dove Shack, on Nov. 7
The Dove Shack – This Is The Shack (1995)

Hannelore Auer (Kramm), 81, Austrian Schlager singer and actress, on Nov. 8

Thomas Fink, 88, German jazz musician, on Nov. 8

Marc Rantseli, 58, South African singer with duo MarcAlex, on Nov. 9
MarcAlex – My Love, My Life, My Everythin (1990)
MarcAlex feat. Hugh Masekela – I Want My Baby (1995)

Junko Ohashi, 73, Japanese singer, on Nov. 9
Junko Ohashi – Silhouette Romance (1981)

R.L. Boyce, 68, blues musician, on Nov. 9
R.L. Boyce – Coal Black Mattie (2023)

Johnny Ruffo, 35, Australian singer and actor, on Nov. 10

John Morris, 84, Woodstock co-organiser, on Nov. 10
Matthews’ Southern Comfort – Woodstock (1971)
The Who – Long Live Rock (1978)

Conny Van Dyke, 78, singer and actress, on Nov. 11
Connie Van Dyke – Oh Freddy (1963)

Angelita Vargas, 77, Spanish flamenco singer and dancer, on Nov. 11

Luis Carlos Gil, 72, singer with Spanish vocal group Trigo Limpio, on Nov. 11

Kan, 61, Japanese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 12
Kan – Ai Wa Katsu (1990)

Buzy, 66, French singer, on Nov. 14
Buzy – Baby Boum (1987)

Oladips, 28, Nigerian rapper, on Nov. 15

Karl Tremblay, 47, lead singer of Canadian folk group Les Cowboys Fringants, on Nov. 15
Les Cowboys Fringants – Les étoiles filantes (2004)

George ‘Funky’ Brown, 74, songwriter, drummer of Kool & The Gang, on Nov. 16
Kool & The Gang – Wild Is Love (1972, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Sugar (1976, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Ladies’ Night (1980, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Take My Heart (You Can Have It) (1981, also as co-writer)

Peter Solley, 75, English musician and producer, on Nov. 16
Fox – Imagine Me, Imagine You (1976, as member)
The Romantics – What I Like About You (1979, as producer)

Charlie Dominici, 72, heavy metal singer, on Nov. 17
Dream Theater – Status Seeker (1989, as lead vocalist and co-writer)

Christiane ‘Samantha’ Bervoets, 75, Belgian singer, on Nov. 17
Samantha – Helicopter U.S. Navy 66 (1970)
Samantha – Eviva España (1971)

Sara Tavares, 45, Portuguese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 19
Sara Tavares – Eu Sei… (1999)
Sara Tavares – One Love (2005)
Sara Tavares – Coisas Bunitas (2017)

Larry McKenna, 86, jazz saxophonist, on Nov. 19

Mars Williams, 68, rock and jazz saxophonist (Waitresses, Psychedelic Furs), on Nov. 20
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping (1981, as member)
The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink (1986, as member)

Chad Allan, 80, Canadian singer with Guess Who, Brave Belt, on Nov. 21
Chad Allan & The Expressions (Guess Who) – Hey Ho, What You Do To Me (1965)

Horacio Malvicino, 94, Argentine jazz and tango guitarist, composer, on Nov. 21
Horacio Malvicino – Los Mejores Momentos (1972)

Jim Salestrom, 67, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22

Jean Knight, 80, American singer, on Nov. 22
Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1970)
Jean Knight – Why I Keep Living These Memories (1970)
Jean Knight – My Toot Toot Long (1984)

Greg ‘Fingers’ Taylor, 71, harmonica player (Jimmy Buffet), on Nov. 23

Fanita James, 85, singer with soul group The Blossoms, on Nov. 23
The Blossoms – He Promised Me (1957, as member)
Doris Days – Move Over Darling (1963, on backing vocals)
The Blossoms – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (1969)
The Blossoms – Touchdown (1972)

Morten Omlid, 62, Norwegian blues guitarist, on Nov. 24

Julio Anderson, 74, Chilean folk-rock bass guitarist, on Nov. 25
Los Jaivas – Pregon Para Iluminarse (1975, as member)

Yngvar Numme, 79, singer with Norwegian pop group Dizzie Tunes, on Nov. 25

Les Maguire, 81, pianist of Gerry & The Pacemakers, on Nov. 25
Gerry & The Pacemakers – I Like It (1963)
Gerry & The Pacemakers – Ferry Cross The Mersey (1964)

Terry Venables, 80, English football player and coach, occasional singer, on Nov. 25
Terry Venables – What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? (1974)

Geordie Walker, 64, guitarist of Killing Joke, songwriter, on Nov. 26
Killing Joke – Requiem (1980, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Love Like Blood (1985, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Jana (1994, also as co-writer)

Jimmy Owens, 93, Christian music songwriter, on Nov. 26

Brian Godding, 78, Welsh rock and jazz guitarist, on Nov. 26
Blossom Toes – Peace Loving Man (1969, as member and writer)
Brian Godding – Happy Endings (1988)

Joseph Meo, jazz saxophonist, announced Nov. 27

Lanny Gordin, 72, Brazilian guitarist and composer, on Nov. 28
Lanny Gordin – Tomati (2001)

John Colianni, 61, jazz pianist, on Nov. 28
Mel Tormé – The Christmas Song (1992, on piano)

Scott Kempner, 69, rhythm guitarist of rock band The Dictators, on Nov. 29
The Dictators – What It Is (1978, also as co-writer)

Shane MacGowan, 65, singer and songwriter of The Pogues, on Nov. 30
The Pogues – Sally MacLennane (Live on the John Peel Show, 1984, also as writer)
The Pogues – The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn (1985, also as writer)
The Pogues – Thousands Are Sailing (1988)
The Pogues & The Dubliners – Whiskey In The Jar (1990)
Shane MacGowan & The Popes – The Song With No Name (1993, also as writer)


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In Memoriam – October 2023

October 30th, 2023 2 comments

Due to certain commitments, I’m posting the October In Memoriam before the month is out. Those passings that haven’t made it this month will be listed in the November instalment.

Among the notable deaths outside music was that of the world’s oldest dog. Bobi, a Portuguese Rafeiro do Alentejo dog, reached the biblical old age of 31 and thus had the longest canine life on record. His secret to long life was a cigar with a glass of port a day, and daily sex. The world’s oldest dog is now Spike, a 24-year-old chihuahua from Ohio, who is a celibate tee-total non-smoker.

Actually, Bobi’s owners say that their dog’s longevity was due to a “calm, peaceful environment” and consumption of fresh food rather than conventional dog food. He wasn’t neutered, so the daily sex part might be true…

The Isley Brother
In the Isley Brothers, Ronald usually took the lead, but sometimes Rudy Isley got his turn, as he did on the 1979 hit It’s A Disco Night. Rudy’s backing vocals and harmonies were essential to the Isley sound, as were his songwriting contributions to hits like Shout, It’s Your Thing, That Lady, Harvest For The World, and Fight The Power (on which he shared the lead with Ronald and O’Kelly).

Rudy released only one single outside the Isley Brothers, I’ve Got To Get Myself Together, a duet with backing singer Judy White. It was issued in 1970 and credited to Rudy & Judy.

Rudy, who in the 1970s was easily recognisable by sporting a pimp look, left the music industry in 1989 to become a Christian minister. He married Elaine Jasper (sister of later Isleys member Chris Jasper) in 1958; they remained together till Rudy’s death on October 11.

The Composer
In jazz circles, Carla Bley commanded great respect as an innivative composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader. In 1957, at the age of 21, she married jazz pianist Paul Bley — they met when she was working as a cigarette girl at the famous Birdland jazz club. He encouraged her to pursue a career in jazz. She kept his name even after they divorced in 1967.

Carla saw herself foremost as a composer, and also wrote for others (including then-husband Paul). Above that, she also worked behind the scenes to organise the Jazz Composers Guild. Her most significant work was the triple-LP jazz opera Escalator Over The Hill, released in 1971. She recorded until 2020.

Actor Richard Roundtree was known as the übercool sleuth Shaft in the blaxploitation movies (the Any Major Blaxploitation collection is up again, by the way). While Roundtree has secured his place in movie history, his forays into the world of crooning is mostly forgotten.

Roundtree had a quite good voice with which he seemed to aim for the adult-oriented soul scene occupied by the likes of Grady Tate. Inevitably, there was a Blaxploitation funk track called The Man From Shaft, which isn’t bad. The 1972 album of the same title, Roundtree’s only LP, was produced by Eugene McDaniels, with backing singers including Les McCann, Barbara Massey, Jean DuShon and Debra Laws (whose brother Hubert chips in with flute work).

After that, Roundtree released two more singles, and that was it with the recording career.

The Beatmaster
The 7” single has run out for The 45 King, the beatmaster and hip hop producer known to his mom as Mark James. Born in the Bronx in 1961, The 45 King made his name in the 1980s with his tracks of beats sampled from mainly obscure 45 records.

The most famous of these is The 900 Number from 1987, which looped a piece of saxophone solo from Marva Whitney’s 1968 track Unwind Yourself. The English DJ Chad Jackson sampled The 900 Number on his 1990 UK #3 hit Hear The Drummer (Get Wicked).

The 45 King also produced many hip hop artists, including Rakim, MC Lyte, Gang Starr, Apache, Lakim Shabazz, and King Sun. His biggest hits in that field were Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life and Eminem’s Stan. He also produced acts like Queen Latifah, including her debut album All Hail The Queen. Jay-Z has called The 45 King one of the most important hip hop producers.

The Keyboardist
Session musician Paul Harris, who has died at 79, has appeared on several songs on Any Major Mixes, such as on Rusty Wier’s Texas Morning on Any Major Morning Vol. 1, Richie Havens’ Morning Morning on Any Major Morning Vol. 2, and Bob Seger’s Against The Wind, on which he plays the piano to such defining effect.

A one-time member of Stephen Stills & Manassas, The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and King Harvest, the multi-instrumentalist was best-known for his prolific session work. These included the piano on ABBA’s Voulez-Vous (which the band recorded in Miami),B.B. King’s definitive version of The Thrill Is Gone, and Mama Cass’ Dream A Little Dream, .

Other acts he backed were The Doors, Nick Drake, B.B. King, Judy Collins, Al Kooper, John Sebastian, Joe Walsh, Seals & Crofts, Poco, Maria Muldaur, Dan Fogelberg, John Cougar (Mellencamp), Andy Gibb, and Aerosmith, among many others. He was also an arranger (notably on Tim Hardin’s Simple Song Of Freedom), and producer.

The Reggae Founder
Keyboardist Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper had the distinction of having been a founder member of two legendary reggae groups, Inner Circle and Third World. He left the former in 1973 to co-found Third World. With that group, he created a string of classics, such as 1865 (96 Degrees In The Shade), Now That We Found Love (a cover of the O’Jays song), Cool Meditation, Talk To Me, Dancin’ On The Floor, and Try Jah Love.

Cooper also played with acts like Burning Spear, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Barrington Levy and Lenny Kravitz. Cooper also headed the department of Caribbean, Latin American and Jazz in the Popular Music Studies faculty at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Real Voice
Around 1970, there were several studio band projects run by British producers Roger Cook and Rob Greenway. One of them was Edison Lighthouse, another White Plains. The latter had a hit in 1970 with the catchy My Baby Loves Lovin’.

The question who sang the lead on that hit was long unresolved. For a long time, the popular narrative claimed it was session singer Tony Burrows, who also did lead vocals on Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) and other Cook/Greenway hits. Now it is widely acknowledged, and confirmed by Greenway, that the lead singer was the South African Ricky Wolff, who has died at 78, with Burrows doubling him on the chorus.

Wolff left White Plains in 1971 and went on to have a successful career as a musician in South African bands, especially soft rock band City Limits, and as a producer. In the latter capacity, he produced a local pop classic in Marcalex’s 1989 hit Quick Quick.

The Centenarian
Country singer Mervin Shiner did not have a glittering career; his two biggest hits — Peter Cottontail and Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me — were 73 years ago. But it is worth noting when a life of over a hundred years ends. Shiner racked up 102 rotations around the sun. In his young days, the Bethlehem Pennsylvania-born singer had some local success as a radio performer, appearing with his mother as a country and gospel duo.

Shiner, a honky-tonk singer and guitarist, started his recording career in 1949, and by 1955 his first (and quite prolific) run of singles, many of them novelty songs for kids, ended. Shiner, who also was a songwriter, returned to release three albums in 1969 and 1970, one of them a children’s Christmas album, the others including covers of songs like In The Ghetto and Teach Your Children, among the more conventional country fare.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Ricky Wolff, 78, South African singer of White Plains and producer, on Oct. 1
White Plains – My Baby Loves Lovin’ (1970, on lead or co-lead)
City Limits – Shouldn’t Fall In Love (1980, as member)
Marcalex – Quick Quick (1988, as producer)

Ron Haffkine, 84, producer (all Dr Hook hits), songwriter and manager, on Oct. 1
Cherry People – And Suddenly (1968, as producer)
Dr Hook & The Medicine Show – When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman (1979, as producer)

Lutz Wollersen, 68, singer of German band Rudolf Rock & The Schockers, on Oct. 1
Lutz Wollersen – Wenn Engel Trauer tragen (1984)

Julian Bahula, 85, South African drummer, singer, composer, on Oct. 1
Jabula – Jabula Happiness (1975, as writer, bandleader and on drums)

Joy Webb, 91, singer of British Salvation Army pop group Joystrings, on Oct. 1

Dominique ‘Terracota’ Perrier, c.72, French electronic musician and composer, on Oct. 4
Space Art – Speedway (1977, as member and co-writer)

Bruno Filippini, 78, Italian singer, on Oct. 5
Bruno Filippini – L’amore ha i tuoi occhi (1965)

Ritchie Routledge, 73, singer and guitarist of UK pop group Cryin’ Shames, on Oct. 8
The Cryin’ Shames – Please Stay (1966)

Shinji Tanimura, 74, Japanese singer-songwriter, on Oct. 8

Buck Trent, 85, country musician and TV personality (Hee Haw), on Oct. 9
Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner – The Last Thing On My Mind (1967, on banjo)
Buck Trent – Buck’s Hee Haw Talkin’ Blues (1976)

Kevin Parrott, member of English duo Brian & Michael, songwriter, on Oct. 9
Brian & Michael – Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs (1977, as producer)

Hugh Friel, 71, drummer of Irish new wave group The Atrix, on Oct. 9
The Atrix – Procession (1981)

Jeff L’Heureux, 63, heavy metal musician, motorbike accident on Oct. 10

Rudolph Isley, 84, singer with The Isley Brothers and songwriter, on Oct. 11
The Isley Brothers – Shout (1959, also as co-writer)
Rudy & Judy – I’ve Got to Get Myself Together (1970, also as co-writer)
The Isley Brothers – You Still Feel The Need (1976, on lead vocals and as co-writer)

Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, 71, keyboardist of Third World, on Oct. 12
Third World – Talk To Me (1979)
Third World – Try Jah Love (1982)
Lenny Kravitz – Eleutheria (1993, on organ)

Aérea Negrot, 43, Venezuelan, Germany-based singer and electronic musician, on Oct. 12
Aérea Negrot – It’s Lover, Love (2011)

Frank Hocker, 66, German rock guitarist and singer, on Oct. 12

Ali Claudi, 80, German jazz, blues and Krautrock musician, on Oct. 12
Ali Claudi & Friends – Time (1975, also as writer)

Garry Mapanzure, 25, Zimbabwean singer, in car crash on Oct. 13

Gary Nuñez, 71, member of Puerto Rican bomba group Plena Libre, on Oct. 14
Plena Libre – Que Bonita Bandera (2012)

Jimmy LaRocca, 83, jazz trumpeter and composer, on Oct. 15

Carla Bley, 87, jazz composer and musician, on Oct. 17
Carla Bley & Paul Haines – Escalator Over The Hill (1971)
Carla Bley & Charlie Haden – The Ballad Of The Fallen
Carla Bley – Lawns (1987)

Dwight Twilley, 72, power-pop singer-songwriter, on Oct. 18
Dwight Twilley Band – I’m On Fire (1975)

Atsushi Sakurai, 57, singer of Japanese rock band Buck-Tick, on Oct. 19
Buck-Tick – Aku no Hana (1990)

Lasse Berghagen, 78, Swedish singer and songwriter, on Oct. 19

The 45 King, 62, hip hop DJ, producer and remixer, on Oct. 19
The 45 King – The King is Here! (1987)
Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love – Ladies First (1988, as producer)
Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life (1998, as producer)

Oscar Valdés, 85, Cuban singer and percussionist, on Oct.19
Irakere – Bacalao Con Pan (1974, as member and singer)

Arni Cheatham, 79, jazz saxophonist and flautist, educator, on Oct. 22

Gregg Sutton, 74, musician and songwriter, on Oct. 22
Sam Brown – Stop (1988, as co-writer)
Maria McKee – Breathe (1990, as co-writer)

Mervin Shiner, 102, country singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Oct. 23
Mervin Shiner – Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me (1949)
Mervin Shiner – Peter Cottontail (1950)
Merv Shiner – California Girl And The Tennessee Square (1969)

Angelo Bruschini, 62, English guitarist, on October 23
The Blue Aeroplanes – Angel Words (1991, as member)
Massive Attack – A Prayer For England (2003, as member)

Ricardo Iorio, 61, Argentinian metal singer and bassist, on Oct. 24

Richard Roundtree, 81, actor and soul singer, on Oct. 24
Richard Roundtree – Peace In The Morning (1972)
Richard Roundtree – Goodnight My Love (1973)

Steve Riley, 67, ex-drummer of W.A.S.P. and L.A. Guns, on Oct. 24
L.A. Guns – Ballad Of Jayne (1989, as member)

Paul Harris, 79, rock keyboardist, on Oct. 24
Stephen Stills & Manassas – So Many Times (1973, as member)
ABBA – Voulez-Vous (1979, on piano)
Bob Seger – Against The Wind (1980, on piano)

Goa Gil, 72, electronic musician, DJ, and remixer, on Oct. 26

Rigo Star, 68, Congolese soukous guitarist and composer, on Oct. 26
Rigo Star – Rosalina (1985)


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In Memoriam – September 2023

October 3rd, 2023 6 comments

A pretty heavy month. As promised in the last instalment, this present In Memoriam completes the list for August. The most appropriate song here may be Canadian singer-songwriter Richard Laviolette’s Funeral Song. In 2010 he anticipated: “When I choose to die…” Thirteen years later he exited by assisted suicide, having suffered from Huntington’s disease.

The Parrothead-in-Chief
Some US acts just don’t travel well. One such singer is Jimmy Buffett, who was absolutely huge and indeed a cult figure in the States but not widely known outside North America. He was known mostly as a good-time music merchant — his signature song Margaritaville defined that image — but he was a very competent folk and country musician and songwriter.

His fans were dedicated, to the extent that they had a collective name: Parrotheads. A smart businessman, Buffet was said to be the world’s richest musician. His image — the Hawaii-shirted, cocktail-swilling good-time boy on a Florida yacht — gave me an impression that Buffett probably was a Republican. Not so. He was a politically engaged Democrat, and changed the lyrics to his songs to state his opposition to people like Donald Trump, at the risk of alienating conservative Parrotheads. He also was involved in a lot of disaster relief efforts.

The Dream Weaver
Another active Democrat departed the day after Buffet in Gary Wright, for whom death must have come as a release from dementia. A co-founder of Spooky Tooth, Wright had hits with the band and then on his own, especially 1976’s double whammy of Dream Weaver and Love Is Alive, both US #2 hits.

Wright also played on hits of others. He did keyboard duty on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album, Ringo Starr’s Back Off Boogaloo and It Don’t Come Easy, and on Nilsson’s mega-hit Without You.

The Marvelette
With the death of Katherine Anderson, the line-up of The Marvelettes that did songs like Don’t Mess With BiIl, Too Many Fish In The Sea, Danger! Heartbreak Dead Ahead, and I’ll Keep Holding On, are all gone now. Only one of the classic line-up of The Marvelettes up to 1963 is still alive (that’s the Please Mr Postman, Playboy, Beechwood 4-5789 era)​. Sole survivor Juanita Cowart left the group in 1963, but is still with us today.

Anderson, who never was the regular lead singer, stayed with the group until 1969. Georgeanna Gordon died in 1980, Gladys Horton in 2011, founding member Georgia Dobbins (1960-61) in 2020, and Wanda Young in 2021.

The Whistler
For some reason, I have never had much interest in the music of Roger Whittaker, who has died at 87. Maybe it’s because his folk music was so lacking in edge, or perhaps because he was so popular with the adult audiences of Germany, where he was a superstar. He had an affable charm which I (unfairly) interpreted as ingratiating, at a time when I was in rebellion against the “Spiessertum” (the square society) of Germany. Maybe I just didn’t like his maths-teacher goatee. Later, I boycotted the guy on principle, for his touring South Africa during the anti-apartheid cultural boycott.

Whittaker’s death made me revisit his legacy. He had some fine songs, but I was not wrong in finding them lacking in edge. How much better they might have been… Whittaker also recorded the original version of the Bette Midler hit Wind Beneath My Wings.

Whitakker was rightly renowned for his extraordinary whistling, which sounded more like an expertly-played flute than the aggressively out-of-tune efforts you and I might attempt as we do the washing up.

It appears that Roger was a likable sort of chap. He suffered tragedy in 1989 when his father was murdered and his mother tortured for eight hours during a house robbery in Kenya, where Roger was born. He spoke about it with pain but also with a refusal to hate, which under the circumstances testifies to a good sense of decency.

The Protest Singer
A frequent collaborator with Pete Seeger, folk singer Len Chandler may be best known for writing the ditty Beans In My Ears, a 1964 hit for The Serendipity Singers — which got banned by many radio stations as a health hazard, in case idiots or children were moved by the song to actually put beans in their ears. But most of his stuff was better than that.

The classically trained oboist left Ohio in 1957 for New York, and ended up being a fixture on the Greenwich Village folk scene. Chandler released two albums in the 1960s, but neither was a hit.

Chandler was politically active, first in the civil right movement and later in Jane Fonda’s anti-war F.T.A. tour. He also wrote for the Black Panther Party. At the March on Washington in 1963, Chandler was invited by Martin Luther King Jr to sing the traditional song Keep Your Eyes On The Prize. His backing singers that day included Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. King would also use Chandler’s Keep On Keepin’ On after making speeches.

In 1971, Chandler moved to Los Angeles where he co-founded the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase, which gave initial exposure to people like Stephen Bishop, Stevie Nicks and Karla Bonoff.

The Associate
As co-founder, co-lead singer and songwriter with The Association, Terry Kirkman had a series of US Top 10 hits between 1966 and 1968: Cherish, Never My Love, Windy, Along Comes Mary, and Everything That Touches You. The first and last in that list were written by Kirkman. He took lead or co-lead vocals on those songs as well as on Never My Love.

Before The Association, Kirkman played with a pre-Mothers Frank Zappa, and the precursor band of The Association, called Inner Tube which at one point included fellow masters of harmonising David Crosby and Cass Elliott. The Association — who, like The Mamas & The Papas and, initially, The Byrds, were backed by musicians of The Wrecking Crew — played at Monterey in 1967. The group was nominated for six Grammys, but won none.

Kirkman left The Association in 1972, rejoined later, but mostly left music to become an addiction counsellor.

The TV Star
He was best known as the Russian secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E, or maybe as medical examiner Dr Mallard in the series NCIS, but Scottish actor David McCallum was also an accomplished musician. He grew up in a family of musical professionals — his father was the leader of the London Philharmonic Orchestra — and himself received classical musical training.

McCallum recorded four albums, produced by jazz innovator David Axelrod, who also wrote some of the material, as did the actor himself. These tracks include McCallum’s best-known one, The Edge, which Dr Dre sampled for The Next Episode. McCallum played various instruments, especially the oboe, and conducted. One thing he didn’t do was to sing; where his vocals were required, he spoke. He later also contributed to various spoken-word albums.

On one occasion, McCallum did sing, and did so well. In an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., he played guitar and sang his own composition, titled Trouble, with Nancy Sinatra. See it here.

The Bass Man
The reputation of upright-bass player Richard Davis resides mostly in his contribution to jazz, but he has also been hailed for his appearances on rock albums.

In rock music, his greatest contribution was as bassist and de facto bandleader in the recording of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. Noted critic Greil Marcus wrote it was “the greatest bass ever heard on a rock album”. He also backed acts like Laura Nyro, Buffalo Springfield, The Rascals, Spanky & Our Gang, Astrud Gilberto, Melanie, Donny Hathaway, Marlena Shaw, Zulema, Garland Jeffreys, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Manchester, Janis Ian, Carly Simon, Loudon Wainwright III, Phoebe Snow, Blondie, and others.

In jazz, he played with the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Don Shirley, Roland Kirk, Elvin Jones, Gil Evans, Eric Dolphy, Carmen McRae, Hubert Laws, Maynard Ferguson, Cal Tjader, Chet Baker, Milt Jackson, Earl Hines, Shirley Scott, Jimmy McGriff, Wes Montgomery, Gabor Szabo, Oscar Peterson, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Mann, Joe Zawinul, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, George Benson, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, Walter Wanderley, Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, Louis Armstrong, Dexter Gordon, Duke Ellington, Willie Bobo, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Grover Washington Jr, Roy Ayers, Sonny Stitt, Ahmad Jamal, Stan Getz, Don Sebesky, Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Gil Evans, and others.

The Pianist
Jazz piano man Frank Owens was on his way to a playing a gig when he was involved in a traffic accident which ended his 90-year-long life. He released only two albums, one of them jazz interpretations of the Oliver! soundtrack, but he backed some big names in music, most notably Bob Dylan on tracks such as Like A Rolling Stone, Mr Tambourine Man, Maggie’s Farm, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), It’s All Over Now (Baby Blue), Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Highway 61 Revisited, and others.

Other acts he backed include Louis Armstrong, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Mathis, Astrud Gilberto, John Denver, B.B. King, Lena Horne, Ruth Brown, Marlena Shaw, Melba Moore, Dusty Springfield, Shirley Bassey, Frankie Valli, Ashford & Simpson, Johnny Nash, Connie Francis, Irene Cara, Freda Payne, Joe Bataan, Petula Clark, and many others.

He also served as David Letterman’s first bandleader.

The Real Plastic
One of my favourite songs as I turned 12 years old was Plastic Bertrand’s Ça Plane Pour Moi, a power pop song dressed up as French punk (it was intended as a parody of punk). I liked it so much, I bought the LP. The album was rubbish (though the gatefold cover was cool), but that didn’t diminish my love for the hit song. What eventually stained my happy memories was learning that Plastic Bertrand was not the vocalist. The real singer was the song’s Belgian writer and producer, Lou Deprijck, who has died at 77.

Before he Milli Vanilli-ed punk, Deprijk was part of the disco-pop trio Two Man Sound, who had hits with Charlie Brown and Disco Samba. Later he discovered and produced French-Belgian singer Viktor Lazlo, best-known for her 1987 hit Breathless.

Deprijk is the fourth bestselling Belgian ever — after Salvatore Adamo (who tops the list by a mile), Frédéric François, and Jacques Brel — with 20 million records sold, including the Plastic Bertrand LP I foolishly bought in 1978.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

August 08, 31, R&B singer and songwriter, on Aug. 28
August 08 – Bruises (2023)

Len Chandler, 88, folk musician, on Aug. 28
The Freedom Voices with Len Chandler – Which Side Are You On (1965)
Len Chandler – Keep On Keepin’ On (1966)
Len Chandler – I Couldn’t Keep From Carin’ After All (1967)

Peter King, 84, Nigerian alto saxophonist and bandleader, on Aug. 29
Peter King – Ajo (1976)
Peter King – Sincerely (1977)

Jack Sonni, 68, guitarist with Dire Straits (1984-86), on Aug. 30
Dire Straits – The Man’s Too Strong (1985, as member on guitar synthesizer)

Curtis Fowlkes, 73, jazz trombonist and singer, on Aug. 31
The Jazz Passengers – Easy To Love (1990, as member, on vocals and trombone)

Robert Becerra, 64, guitarist of punk band Stains, on Sept. 1

Jimmy Buffett, 76, singer-songwriter, on Sept. 1
Jimmy Buffett – Come Monday (1973)
Jimmy Buffett – Margaritaville (1977)
Jimmy Buffett – If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me (1985)

Lefty SM, 31, Mexican rapper, shot on Sept. 2

Simon Pearson, 54, British indie drummer, on Sept. 3
Goya Dress – Glorious (1996, as member)

José Sébéloué, 74, singer, musician with French band La Compagnie Créole, on Sept. 3

Gary Wright, 80, singer-songwriter and musician, on Sept. 4
Spooky Tooth – Sunshine Help Me (1968, as member)
George Harrison – Isn’t It A Pity (1971, on keyboards)
Gary Wright – Dream Weaver (1975)

Tail Dragger Jones, 82, blues singer, on Sept. 4

Steve Harwell, 56, singer of rock band Smash Mouth, on Sept. 4
Smash Mouth – All Star (1999)

Teté Caturla, 85, singer with Cuban group Cuarteto d’Aida, on Sept. 4
Cuarteto d’Aida – Mulata (1992)

Joe Fagin, 83, English pop singer, on Sept. 5
Joe Fagin – Breakin’ Away (1983)

Lee Halliday, 95, rock & roll singer and producer, on Sept. 5

Bruce Guthro, 62, Canadian-born lead singer of celtic-rock band Runrig, on Sept. 5
Bruce Guthro – Walk This Road (1997, also as writer)
Runrig – Loch Lomond (live) (2007)

Richard Laviolette, 41, Canadian singer-songwriter, on Sept. 5
Richard Laviolette and The Oil Spills – Funeral Song (2010)

Tom Davies, 48, British-born bassist of rock band Nebula, on Sept. 5
Nebula – The Dagger (2009, also as co-writer)

Richard Davis, 93, jazz bassist, on Sept 6
Sarah Vaughan – The Midnight Sun Will Never Set (1959, on bass)
Van Morrison – Cypress Avenue (1968, on bass)
Jimmy McGriff – Groove Grease (1971, on bass)
Richard Davis – Warm Canto (1980)

Spencer Mbadu, 68, South African jazz bassist, on Sept. 6
Abdullah Ibrahim – Dindela (1991, on bass)

Larry Chance, 82, lead singer of doo-wop group The Earls, on Sept. 6
The Earls – Remember Then (1962)

Charles Gayle, 84, free jazz saxophonist and pianist, on Sept. 7

María Jiménez, 73, Spanish singer, on Sept. 7
María Jiménez – Vámonos (1976)

Mylon LeFevre, 78, Christian rock singer and singwriuter, on Sept. 8
Mylon LeFevre – The Warrior (1985, also as co-writer)

Charlie Robison, 59, country singer-songwriter, on Sept. 10
Charlie Robison – Photograph (2014)

Matthew Stewart, 41, trumpeter of ska band Streetlight Manifesto, on Sept. 10

Brendan Croker, 70, guitarist with English country-rock band Notting Hillbillies, on Sept. 10
The Notting Hillbillies – Your Own Sweet Way (1990)

Benito Castro, 77, Mexican musician, comedian and actor, on Sept. 11

MohBad, 27, Nigerian rapper and singer, on Sept. 12

Roger Whittaker, 87, British singer-songwriter, on Sept. 13
Roger Whittaker – Durham Town (The Leaving) (1969)
Roger Whittaker – The Last Farewell (1971)
Roger Whittaker – Wind Beneath My Wings (1982)

Fred Lewis, 72, percussionist with funk band Lakeside, on Sept. 14
Lakeside – Fantastic Voyage (1980)

Robert Tree Cody, 72, Native American musician, on Sept. 14

Paul Woseen, 56, bassist of Australian rock band Screaming Jets, on Set. 15
The Screaming Jets – Shivers (1992)

Franco Migliacci, 92, Italian lyricist, on Sept. 15
Domenico Modugno – Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare) (1958, as lyricist)

Prudence McIntyre, 78, half of singing duo Patience and Prudence, on Sept. 15
Patience and Prudence – Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now (1956)

Frank Owens, 90, jazz pianist, on Sept. 15
Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone (1965, on tack piano)
Frank Owens – As Long As He Needs Me (1969)
John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads (1971, on piano)

John Marshall, 82, English jazz rock drummer, on Sept. 16
Soft Machine – Lotus Groves (1981, as member)

Irish Grinstead, 43, singer with R&B trio 702, on Sept. 16
702 – Get It Together (1996)

Artie Cabral, 82, jazz drummer, on Sept. 17

Aníbal de Peña, 90, Dominican singer, pianist and composer, on Sept. 17
Anibal de Peña – Me voy (1967)

Wolfgang Engstfeld, 72, German jazz musician, on Sept. 17

Lou Deprijck, 77, Belgian singer-songwriter, musician, producer, on Sept. 19
Two Man Sound – Charlie Brown (1975, as member)
Two Man Band – Disco Samba (1977, as member
Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi (1978, as real singer, writer and producer)
Viktor Lazlo – Breathless (1987, as producer)

Kent Stax, drummer of punk band Scream, on Sept. 20

Norberto Machline, 80, Argentinian jazz pianist and vibraphonist, n Sept. 20

Katherine Anderson, 79, singer with The Marvelettes, on Sept. 20
The Marvelettes – Strange I Know (1962)
The Marvelettes – Too Many Fish In The Sea (1964)
The Marvelettes – When You’re Young And In Love (1968)

Olga Chorens, 99, Cuban singer and actress, on Sept. 22

Mike Henderson, 70, country singer-songwriter and musician, on Sept. 22
Mike Henderson – Prisoner’s Tears (1994)

Peter Horton, 82, Austrian singer, guitarist and composer, on Sept. 22
Peter Horton – Am Morgen, als die Vögel nicht mehr sangen (1975)

Dieter Schneider, 86, (East-)German lyricist, on Sept. 22

Alison Bentley, 65, English jazz singer, on Sept. 22
Alison Bentley – Morning Sun (2002)

Terry Kirkman, 83, singer and songwriter with The Association, on Sept. 23
The Association – Never My Love (1967, on co-lead vocals)
The Association – Everything That Touches You (1968, as writer and lead vocals)
The Association – Six Man Band (19879, as writer and on lead vocals)

Nashawn Breedlove, 46, rapper and actor (8 Mile), on Sept. 24

Barry Olivier, 87, guitar teacher, creator of the Berkeley Folk Music Festival, on Sept. 24

David McCallum, 90, Scottish actor, musician, composer and conductor, on Sept. 26
David McCallum – Communication (1966)
David McCallum – The Edge (1967)

Ernesto ‘Teto’ Ocampo, 54, Colombian guitarist and producer, on Sept. 27

Dom Famularo, 70, jazz drummer and teacher, on Sept. 28

Stephen Ackles, 57, Norwegian rock & roll singer, songwriter and pianist, on Sept. 28

Ron Howden, 78, drummer of English prog-rock band Nektar, on Sept. 29
Nektar – Do You Believe In Magic? (1973, also as co-writer)

Jon Fausty, 74, Latin music recording engineer and producer, on Sept. 29
Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco – Toro Mata (1974, as recording engineer)

Tirso Duarte, 45, Cuban musician, on Sept. 29
Tirso Duarte – Eso Que Me Pides (2004)

Russell Batiste Jr., 57, funk and jazz drummer, on Sept. 30
Vida Blue – Real Underground Soul Sound (2019, as member and writer)


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