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In Memoriam – December 2019

January 2nd, 2020 3 comments

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juice Wrld, 21, rapper, on Dec. 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Music Deaths of the Decade: Behind the Scenes

December 24th, 2019 3 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BOOKMARK IN MEMORIAM

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Music Deaths of the Decade: Performers

December 10th, 2019 3 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BOOKMARK IN MEMORIAM

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In Memoriam – November 2019

December 5th, 2019 4 comments

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Azz, 43, rapper, on Nov. 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – October 2019

November 5th, 2019 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – September 2019

October 3rd, 2019 4 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – August 2019

September 3rd, 2019 4 comments

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – July 2019

August 1st, 2019 3 comments

In one month, both Brazil and South Africa lost game-changing icons of their respective music scene. And this little corner of the Interwebs lost a brief friend: a singer who commented on a post in which her had featured.

The Bossa Nova Boss
In the 1950s in Brazil, a father had his son committed to a psychiatric facility because the lad wanted to become a musician and was singing in a strange way. That strange singer’s voice is the first you hear on the timeless classic The Girl From Ipanema, accompanied by his guitar before his wife joins in. João Gilberto, who has died at 88, had been a pioneer of bossa nova long before that iconic song and the album from which it came, a collaboration with US jazz saxophonist Stan Getz, made the genre world famous. That collaboration cost João his marriage with Astrud Gilberto. The story of The Girl From Ipanema and a song-swarm of the song ran in 2016.

 

The Apartheid Slayer
Few artists have exerted such cultural influence that they could change society. English-born South African musician Johnny Clegg certainly made a difference. At the height of apartheid, Clegg fused Zulu music and dance with Western pop and rock with his band Juluka. With that, and his sincere embrace of Zulu culture, he provided his mostly white fanbase with an alternative to the racism of apartheid. In the age of South Africa’s cultural exclusion, Juluka concerts (and later those of Clegg’s next band, Savuka) were an event, comparable to a Springsteen concert. One could not emerge from the experience as a full-blown, die-hard racist (though it would be naïve to claim that all patrons were cured of all their racism). Clegg’s death of cancer was met with near-universal grief in South Africa; in a society still divided by race, Clegg’s legacy briefly united the nation. Few artists have had such power…

 

The Funky Neville
Just over a year ago, we still had all four Neville Brothers with us. With the death of Charles last year and in July of eldest brother and keyboardist Art Neville, only half remain. Aaron might the best-known of them, but Art probably had the best output. In the 1950s and ’60s, Art released a bunch of fine R&B/soul records either side of serving in the navy between 1958 and 1962. He the formed the first incarnation of the family-name band, The Neville Sounds, with Aaron and youngest brother Cyril, among others. Having pioneered the New Orleans funk, Art then founded The Meters (later The Funky Meters), a hugely influential instrumental funk outfit. In 1978, he and his brothers formed The Neville Brothers, whose genre-defying style won them many fans — and many others who didn’t get it. Inbetween, Art also did session work, most famously on LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade. Art was the father of Fox News anchor Arthel Neville.

The Commenter
On rare occasions do people who feature on this site comment on posts. One such artist was Jerry Lawson, the lead singer of the a cappella band The Persuasions, who has died at 75. In 2009 he thanked me for featuring The Persuasions’ version of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. “Thanks again for your support. Keeping the black sheep genre, the dying art of a cappella alive,” he wrote. After his long career with the Frank Zappa-discovered Peruasions which produced 22 albums until he left in 2002, Lawson founded a new a cappella group, Talk of the Town. As it happens, a couple of days before Lawson’s death, I was prepping for the Abbey Road Recovered mix that will drop in September; The Persuasions are represented on the shortlist with two songs.

 

The Rock & Roll Legend
If you played on Rock Around The Clock, you are by definition a rock & roll legend. So it is with Dick Richards, the drummer of Bill Haley & The Comets on the first few groundbreaking hits. When Bill Haley & The Comets became the first rock & roll act to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show on August 7, 1955, Richards manned the drums. By 1955, Richards (whose real name was Dick Boccelli) and two other Comets split from Haley’s band in a salary dispute, and formed a much less successful band called The Jodimars. After two minor hits, the group folded in 1958. Richards then became an actor. He was part of the re-assembled Comets in the 1980s, and continued to perform until recently.

 

The Brassman To Many
Another Dick went in Dick “Slyde” Hyde, session trombonist in the Wrecking Crew collective of session musicians. Usually as part of a brass section, Hyde backed acts like Count Basie, Woody Herman, Harry James , Elvis Presley, Van Dyke Parks, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Rita Coolidge, Carole King, Arlo Guthrie, Neil Sedaka, Nancy Wilson, Kris Kristofferson, Glen Campbell, Bonnie Raitt, Thelma Houston, Steely Dan, Supertramp, Cheryl Lynn, The Pointer Sisters, Donna Summer, Jessi Colter, Jackson Browne, Earth, Wind & Fire, Helen Reddy, Liza Minelli, Frankie Valli, The Beach Boys, Tom Waits, Joe Cocker, Diane Schuur, Madonna, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Rick Springfield, Herbie Hancock, Tom Scott, Frank Sinatra, Mary J Blige, and many others.

The Oscar Winner
This month we lost the centenarian composer and arranger Sid Ramin, who won an Oscar in 1962 for co-orchestrated the music for West Side Story. His arranged the music of many stage plays and several music. TV viewers in the US in the 1960s will know his composition of the theme of Candid Camera. Ramin also composed the easy listening classic Music To Watch Girls Go By.

 

The Soundtrack Man
He did not invent the compilation soundtrack album, but as heads of music at Warner Bros., Gary LeMel certainly popularised the concept, especially with the soundtrack of The Big Chill and later The Bodyguard. Earlier, he supervised the soundtrack of the Streisand version of A Star Is Born, one of the biggest-selling film-related album of all time. He also supervised the scores for projects like Batman, The Matrix, Harry Potter and Ocean’s Eleven. Before he was a movie exec, LeMel was a jazz singer who released a few singles in the 1950s and’60s. After he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010, LeMel joined a jazz group named the Fifth Dementia, which included members diagnosed with dementia.

 

The Greek German
In the 1970s, my mother swooned for Greek-born schlager singer Costa Cordalis, with his flowing black locks, sporty 1,88m tall built, winning Colgate smile and easily escaping chest hair. Cordalis also had an attractive personality which compensated for the banal schlager tunes he sang. But in 1974 behind his happy personality there was the pain of being stateless. Cordalis, who came to West-Germany in 1961 at the age of 16, couldn’t get German citizenship, but had also lost his Greek citizenship because he declined to be drafted into the Greek army, then under fascist control. With the fall of the regime in 1975, that problem was solved. Cordalis remained a cultural icon in Germany, also as an actor playing a Greek tavern owner on the soapie Lindenstrasse. In 2004 he won the German version of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Two decades earlier, in 1985, the then 40-year-old represented Greece in the Nordic World Ski Championships in Innsbruck. He came last — but still was the national champion of the country to which he just a decade earlier couldn’t return.

 

Paul McCallum, bassist of The Wombles, on June 26
The Wombles – The Womble Shuffle (1975)

Sid Ramin, 100, composer, arranger, conductor, on July 1
Barbra Streisand – Draw Me A Circle (1964, as arranger)
Andy Williams – Music To Watch Girls By (1967, as composer)
Sid Ramin – Stiletto (1969)

Oss Kröher, 91, German singer-songwriter, half of duo Hein & Oss, on July 1
Hein & Oss – Brüder, zur Sonne, zur Freiheit (1975)

Costa Cordalis, 75, Greek-born schlager singer, on July 2
Costa Cordalis – Carolina, komm (1973)

Duncan Lamont, 87, Scottish jazz saxophonist, on July 2
Duncan Lamont – Lazy Sunday (1973)

Paolo Vinaccia, 65, jazz percussionist, on July 5

João Gilberto, 88, Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, bossa nova pioneer, on July 6
João Gilberto – Anjo Cruel (1951)
Getz/Gilberto – The Girl From Ipanema (1963)
João Gilberto – Wave (1977)
João Gilberto – Da Cor Do Pecado (2000)

Thommy Gustafsson, 71, keyboardist of Swedish dansband Sven-Ingvars, on July 6

Yannis Spathas, 68, guitarist of Greek blues-rock band Socrates, on July 6
Socrates Drank the Conium – Live In The Country (1972)

Gary LeMel, 80, jazz singer and Warners Bros. head of music, on July 6
Gary LeMel – What’s The Use Of My Cryin’ (1957)

Martin Charnin, 84, lyricist and theatre director, on July 6
Nancy Wilson – Ten Good Years (1965, as lyricist)
Andrea McArdle – The Hard-Knock Life (1977, as lyricist)

Jonathan Hodge, 78, English musician, composer and jingles writer, on July 7
Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley – If I Had Words (1978, as writer)

James Henke, 65, music journalist, curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, on July 8

Jerry Lawson, 75, singer with a cappella band The Persuasions, on July 10
The Persuasions – It’s Alright (1970)
The Persuasions – I Could Never Love Another (1971)
The Persuasions – Tired And My Soul (2000)

Dick Richards, 95, drummer of Bill Haley & His Comets, on July 12
Bill Haley & The Comets – Shake Rattle And Roll (1954)
The Jodimars – Well Now Dig This (1955)

Arno Marsh, 91, jazz saxophonist, on July 12
Woody Herman and The New Third Herd – Teressita (1952, on tenor sax)

Russell Smith, 70, singer of country-rock band Amazing Rhythm Aces, on July 12
Amazing Rhythm Aces – Third Rate Romance (1975, also as writer)

Dick “Slide” Hyde, 83, trombonist, on July 15
Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down (1973, on trombone)
Steely Dan – Deacon Blues (1977, on trombone)
Supertramp – Breakfast In America (1979, on tuba)
Joe Cocker – You Can Leave Your Hat On (1986, on trombone)

Johnny Clegg, 66, South African singer and cultural icon, on July 16
Juluka – Scatterlings Of Africa (1982)
Johnny Clegg and Savuka – Asimbonanga (1987)
Johnny Clegg and Savuka – The Crossing (1993)
Johnny Clegg feat. Jesse Clegg – I’ve Been Looking (2017)

Pat Kelly, 70, Jamaican reggae singer, on July 16
Pat Kelly – How Long Will It Take (1969)

Bill Vitt, session drummer, on July 16
Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales – South Side Strut (1971, on drums)

Ruud Jacobs, 81, Dutch jazz bassist and producer, on July 18

Bob Frank, 75, folk singer-songwriter, on July 18
Bob Frank – She Pawned Her Diamond For Some Gold (1972)

Anthony Smith, 61, keyboardist of Australian new wave band Flowers, on July 19
Flowers – Icehouse (1980)

Inger Berggren, 85, Swedish schlager singer, on July 19

Art Neville, 81, singer, keyboardist, songwriter with The Meters, Neville Brothers, on July 22
Art Neville – Cha Dooky-Doo (1957)
Art Neville – All These Things (1962) (1962)
The Meters – Look-Ka Py Py (1970)
LaBelle – All Girl Band (1974, on organ)

Neville Brothers – My Blood (1989)

Daniel Rae Costello, 58, Samoan guitarist, on July 22

John Ferriter, 59, singer, songwriter, talent scout, TV producer, on July 25

Ras G, 39, hip hop DJ and producer, on July 29
Ras G – We Fly Together (2019)

Lol Mason, lead singer of UK bands City Boy, The Maisonettes, on July 30
City Boy – 5.7.0.5. (1978)
The Maisonettes – Heartache Avenue (1982)

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In Memoriam – June 2019

July 4th, 2019 4 comments

It has been a sad month for New Orleans, with two of her greatest sons passing on. And there was the horrible murder of a talented drummer, and the death of the son of an apartheid foreign minister.

The Swamp Doctor
He was around for so long that it seemed he was indestructible. A heart attack showed that Dr. John wasn’t. Death might have claimed Malcolm John Rebennack much earlier: in his young days in New Orleans he had started his music career, but he also was a petty criminal, a pimp and a heroin addict, landing in jail in 1965. Upon release from the clink Rebennack was told to get out of town, so he went to L.A. and, restyled as Dr. John, begun an illustrious career as a swamp-blues singer, session keyboardist (and percussionist, such as on Aretha Franklin’s Rock Steady) and record producer.

New Orleans Legend
One of the strange effects of running, or reading, a series like thus is that sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised that an artist was still alive…until their death. Having reached the great age of 100, the great songwriter and bandleader Dave Bartholomew probably was presumed dead long ago by many people. Even if his name means nothing to you, you’ll have heard his songs: his protégé Fats Domino had hits with Batholomew (co-)compositions such as Ain’t That a Shame, I’m Walking’ and Blue Monday, Elvis Presley’s One Night, Gale Storm/Dave Edmunds’ I Hear You Knocking (like One Night and Blue Monday, originally recorded by Smiley Lewis), and, in a regrettable cover version, Chuck Berry’s My Ding-A-Ling, which Bartholomew had first recorded himself in 1952. A musician, bandleader, composer, arranger, and producer, Bartholomew did much to direct New Orleans’ contribution to rock & roll.

The Session Drummer
If you have listened to country music from the 1960s or ‘70s, you’ll have heard Jerry Carrigan’s drumming along the way. An early member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, he made his name as a session man in Nashville. For once, the cliché of “whom didn’t he play with?” holds true. If they were big in Nashville, Carrigan drummed for them. Besides country stars, he also played for the likes of Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Tony Joe White (also on Polk Salad Annie) and Johnny Mathis.

The Geto Boy
Starting as a dancer for Texan hip-hop outfit Geto Boys, Bushwick Bill graduated to become a rapper in that pioneering group — and perhaps its visual icon. He stood out anyway because of his lack of height — he measured 1,12m (or 3’8) — but eventually perhaps more so for his missing eye in a self-inflicted wound. In 1991 he shot himself in the eye; a photo of the injured Bill on a gurney, pushed by bandmates Scarface and Willie D, became the cover of the Geto Boys’ third album, We Can’t Be Stopped. Bushwick Bill, who later became a born-again Christian, eventually was stopped: undramatically, by cancer.

The Last Brother Standing
Suddenly all members of the country trio Tompall & The Glaser Brothers are dead. Tompall went already in 2013; Jim died in April this year, and just over two months later middle-brother Chuck Glaser died at 83. It was Chuck’s composition Five Penny Nickel that served as the brothers’ debut single in 1958, after they had been discovered by Marty Robbins. The group would go on to back Robbins and others, including Johnny Cash (also on Ring Of Fire) before they broke big as an act in their own right. Chuck wrote for acts like Hank Snow, Johnny Cash and Anita Carter.

Murdered
For New York jazz drummer Lawrence Leathers, the end was grisly. In an argument with his girlfriend and another guy, he was allegedly beaten for half an hour and eventually choked to death. His body was left in the stairwell of the Bronx apartment building where he lived. As a member of the Aaron Diehl Trio, he won two Grammys backing singer Cécile McLorin Salvant.

The Manager
It is not often that managers, music executives and their like feature in the In Memoriam series, but Elliot Roberts merits the exception. Roberts was the life-long manager of Neil Young and, until 1985, Joni Mitchell. He launched the careers of both. Later Roberts helped launch the careers of The Cars and Tracy Chapman. He also managed Crosby, Stills & Nash and Tom Petty. Early in his music career, he helped David Geffen set up Asylum Records.

Son of the Foreign Minister
Lately we’ve had people dying who had moved from punk to being a judge, and from making ska records to being a right-wing prime minister. In June we lost the son of an apartheid-era foreign minister. Blues and rock singer Piet Botha probably loved his dad, Pik Botha, but clearly was not the type to wear khaki suits and jovially justify the murder of children. Piet probably really pissed off his father in the early 1980s when he recorded a song about the Angolan Border War, white South Africa’s version of the Vietnam War. Piet Botha was a pioneer of Afrikaans alternative music, and was one of the first musicians to be included in his country’s Hall of Fame. As frontman of the blues-rock collective Jack Hammer (which at one point included actor Billy Bob Thornton) Botha was also known as The Hammer.

 

MC Reaça, 25, Brazilian singer, suicide on June 1

Lawrence Leathers, 37, jazz drummer and percussionist, strangled on June 2
Cécile McLorin Salvant – Devil May Care (2017, on drums)

Piet Botha, 63, South African rock musician, on June 2
Piet Botha – Suitcase vol winter (2012)
Jack Hammer – Handful Of Rain (2016)

Mikey Dees, singer and guitarist of metal-punk band Fitz of Depression, on June 4

Brian Doherty, 51, guitarist of rock band Big Wreck, on June 5
Big Wreck – That Song (1997)
Big Wreck – All By Design (2001)

Dr. John, 77, singer-songwriter, on June 6
Mac Rebennack – Storm Warning (1959)
Dr. John – I Walk On Guilded Splinters (1968)
Ringo Starr – All By Myself (1974, on piano)
The Band with Dr John – Such A Night (1978)
Dr. John & Chris Barber – Big Bass Drum (On A Mardi Gras Day) (1990)

Spencer Bohren, 69, roots music guitarist, on June 8
Spencer Bohren – Lost Highway (2004)

Tre Da Kid, 32, American rapper, shot dead on June 8

Andre Matos, 47, Brazilian heavy metal singer, on June 8
Angra – Carry On (1993, as lead singer)

Bushwick Bill, 52, Jamaican-born rapper with Geto Boys, on June 9
Geto Boys – Mind Playing Tricks On Me (1991)
Dr. Dre feat. Bushwick Bill – Stranded On Death Row (1992)

Jim Pike, 82, co-founder and lead singer of The Lettermen, on June 9
The Lettermen – Where Or When (1963)

Paul ‘Lil’ Buck’ Sinegal, 75, zydeco & blues guitarist, singer, on June 10

Chuck Glaser, 83, country singer, on June 10
Tompall Glaser & The Glaser Brothers – Five Penny Nickel (1958)
Tompall & The Glaser Brothers – A Girl Like You (1972)
Chuck Glaser – Gypsy Queen (1973)
Tompall & The Glaser Brothers – The Last Thing On My Mind (1981)

Enrico Nascimbeni, 59, Italian singer and writer, on June 11
Enrico Nascimbeni – La Stanza Di Marinella (1979)

Ray Ceeh, 33, Zimbabwean musician, murdered on June 12

Nature Ganganbaigal, 29, founder of Mongolian rock band Tengger Cavalry, on June 13

Bishop Bullwinkle, 70, singer and comedian, on June 16
Bishop Bullwinkel – Hell To The Naw Naw (2014)

Sergey Ostroumov, 53, drummer of Russian rock band Mashina Vremeni, on June 16

Adam Litovitz, 36, Canadian musician and composer, on June 16
JOOJ feat. Sook Yin Lee & Adam Litovitz – Ghost Of Love (2015, also as co-writer)

Philippe Zdar, 50, musician with French electronic duo Cassius and producer, on June 19
Cassius – Cassius 1999 (1999)

Kelly Jay Fordham, 77, Canadian singer-songwriter, keyboard player, on June 21
Crowbar – Oh, What A Feeling (1971, as member and co-writer)

Elliot Roberts, 76, music executive and manager, on June 21
Neil Young – Comes A Time (1978, as “director”)

Eamon Friel, 70, Northern Irish singer-songwriter and broadcaster, on June 21
Eamon Friel – Farewell Mayo (2000)

Jerry Carrigan, 75, country session drummer, on June 22
Arthur Alexander – You Better Move On (1961, on drums)
Eddy Arnold – Make The World Go Away (1965, on drums)
Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner – The Last Thing On My Mind
Kris Kristofferson – Silver Tongued Devil (1971, on drums)
O.B. McClinton – Unluckiest Songwriter In Nashville (1973, on drums)

Paulo Pagni, 61, drummer of Brazilian rock band RPM, on June 22

Dave Bartholomew, 100, musician, bandleader and songwriter, on June 23
Dave Bartholomew and His Sextette – She’s Got Great Big Eyes (1947)
Dave Bartholomew – Little Girl Sing, Ding-A-Ling (1952)
Smiley Lewis – I Hear You Knocking (1955, as co-writer)
Fats Domino – I’m In Love Again (1956, as co-writer)

Jeff Austin, 45, mandolinist and singer of the Yonder Mountain String Band, on June 24
Yonder Mountain String Band – Half Moon Rising (1999)

Davide Galli, bassist of rock band Throw Down Bones, motorbike accident on June 24

Tony Hall, 91, British producer, label executive, manager, journalist, on June 26
Tubby Hayes & Ronnie Scott – Mirage (1958, as producer)
The Locomotive – Rudis In Love (1968, as co-producer)
The Real Thing – Plastic Man (1972, as co-producer)

Astrid North, 45, German soul singer, on June 26

Gualberto Castro, 84, singer with Mexican combo Los Hermanos Castro, on June 27
Los Hermanos Castro – Yo Sin Ti (1966)

Hella Sketchy, 18, rapper, on June 28

Gary Duncan, 72, guitarist of rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service, on June 29
Quicksilver Messenger Service – Pool Hall Chili (1986)

Anne Vanderlove, 75, French singer-songwriter, on June 30

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In Memoriam – May 2019

June 4th, 2019 3 comments

After last month’s relative quiet time, the Reaper returned with a vengeance, killing off the old and a young star who had just enjoyed a massive summer hit, and cutting a swathe through late 1960s/early 1970s soul.

Not brought up that way

The obituaries have covered all there’s to know about Doris Day, though the emphasis was mostly on her acting career, and correctly so. The casual reader might have thought that Day’s music output, especially the ubiquitous Que Sera Sera, owed to her film career. But before she was a movie star, Doris Day was an accomplished jazz singer, starting her career as a teenager in 1939, and scoring a few big hits in 1945, including the original version of Sentimental Journey with Les Baxter’s Orchestra, which features here.

The Mod Squadder

Famous mostly as a TV actress on The Mod Squad and later Twin Peaks, or as a model, or as the wife of Quincy Jones and mother of actress Rashieda Jones, Peggy Lipton also recorded a bunch of Lou Adler-produced songs, including one album. One of these songs, the gorgeous but largely unknown Red Clay Country Line from 1969, featured on the Any Major Jimmy Webb Vol. 2 mix. Three of Lipton’s singles reached the lower ends of the US charts, with one of them, the Laura Nyro-written Stoney End, later being covered by Barbra Streisand. Lipton is, oddly, credited as a co-writer of Frank Sinatra’s 1984 song L.A. Is My Lady, which was produced by then-husband Quincy Jones.

The bass singer

In 2012 the 60-year-long career of The Dells came to an end when founder members Marvin Junior and Chuck Barksdale retired due to illness. The former died the following year; bass singer Barksdale left us in May. The Dells were one of the groups that made the transition from doo wop to soul, having scored a classic in 1957 with Oh What A Night (most recently featured in the Any Major Music From The Sopranos Vol. 1 mix), and becoming a soul fixture in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

The Ageless Singer

1980s TV viewers may be familiar with the voice of Leon Redbone from the theme of the sitcom Mr. Belvedere. Championed by Bob Dylan, the Cyprus-born singer with roots in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem had his own anachronistic style, singing old classics – Tin Pan Alley, blues, ragtime – at a time when the world sought disco, rock or punk. Known for his bushy moustache, hat and sunglasses, Redbone was cagey about his private life, to the point of denying to know how old he was (he was 69 when he died). Redbone released his final album in 2016.

Look at him!

With the death of bass singer Willie Ford, only one member of the classic early-’70s line-up of soul group The Dramatics survives in founder member Larry Demps. Ford joined the band as a 20-year-old after it had recorded initial success in 1970 (after the Algiers Motel incident), having previously sung with The Capitols, albeit after their solitary hit, Cool Jerk. With The Dramatics Ford scored a soul classic with 1972’s Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get (he does the famous “Look at me”). He stayed with The Dramatics for the duration of their career, including a stint when, due to the band splitting in two, it had to go by the name A Dramatic Experience. In the end, The Dramatics were again two entities, one led by Ford and the other by L.J. Reynolds (who had joined the band in 1973). In 1993, The Dramatics, who once sang of sweet love and social justice, assisted Snoop Dogg in his misogynist rapey anthem Doggy Dogg World.

The Mad Lad

On the same day as Ford, another soul singer joined the heavenly chorus in John Gary Williams, the lead singer of The Mad Lads whose high tenor gave that vocal group its sweet sound. The Tennessee group had some success on Stax in the mid-1960s, but their efforts at reaching stardom were halted when Williams and co-member William Brown were drafted into the army in 1966. After his release from the army, Williams was reinstalled as lead singer, scoring a couple more hits before The Mad Lads disbanded in 1973. Williams embarked on a solo career which produced good songs but little success before reforming The Mad Lads, releasing a final album in 1990.

Tony Soprano Drive-time

Heading the Any Major Sopranos mix mentioned earlier was, of course, the theme track, Woke Up This Morning by Scottish acid house band Alabama 3, which accompanied us as Tony Soprano drive from New York to Newark. Jake Black, co-writer and co-leader of the group, died in May. A3 (as they had be called in the US at the threat of court action by country act Alabama) wrote the song as a feminist anthem about a woman who shot dead her abusive husband. Black saw a paradox in the track being used to score a TV show about the mafia: “It’s totally ironic that we, who disapprove of anything villains do, should be picked for the theme song of a show that shows the human side of villains,” he said in an interview.

Summer Hit Tragedy

Just a few months ago, Gabriel Diniz had a huge summer hits in Brazil with Jenifer, achieving the big breakthrough after releasing three albums, On May 26, the 28-year-old died in a plane crash.

From Punk to Bench

Few career paths led from punk to the judge’s chair, but so it was with Susan Beschta, who with her art-pink band Erasers were a fixture on New York’s CBGB scene in the 1970s. The band attracted great reviews for their live shows but won no recording contract. They ended up recording only three songs. After the band split in 1981, Beschta tried her hand at a solo career, which didn’t take off. A feminist and social activist, she turned to the world of law as a means of making a difference. After doing nine years of legal work for Catholic Charities in New York and then for an immigration firm, she joined the US Department of Homeland Security, with a special brief on immigration. In November she was sworn in as a judge, before the cancer that eventually killed her returned.

President of Ska

Long before he became the right-wing Jamaican premier through the 1980s, Edward Seaga (or CIAga, as the Reagan ally was called by his opponents) was a producer of ska records, many of which he released on his own label, WIRL. As such, the future political leader was influential in spreading ska music.

 

John Starling, 79, bluegrass musician with The Seldom Scene, on May 2
The Seldom Scene – Wait A Minute (2014, on vocals)

Juan Vicente Torrealba, 102, Venezuelan harpist and folk-composer, on May 2
Los Torrealberos – Los Garceros (1954)

Susan Beschta, 67, punk pioneer and judge, on May 2
Erasers – Funny (1970s)

Patrick Gibson, 57, Australian musician and radio producer, on May 3
Ya Ya Choral – Waiting Time (1982)

Mose ‘Fan Fan’ Se Sengo, 73, Congolese Soukous pioneer, on May 3
Mose Fanfan – Papa Lolo (2004)

R. Cobb, 75, songwriter and guitarist with Classics IV, Atlanta Rhythm Section, on May 4
The Classics IV – Stormy (1969, also as co-writer)
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Do It Or Die (1979, also as co-writer)

Pekka Airaksinen, 73, Finnish avant-garde composer and musician, on May 6

Chris Holmes, 73, keyboardist of English psychedelic rock band Timebox, in May
Timebox – Don’t Make Promises (1967)

Fritz Novotny, 78, Austrian jazz saxophonist and composer, on May 7

Luther Jennings, 86, gospel singer with The Jackson Southernaires, on May 8
The Jackson Southernaires – Can’t Make It By Myself (1978, also as co-writer)

Preston Epps, 88, percussionist, on May 9
Preston Epps – Bongo Rock (1959)

Lee Hale, 96, songwriter and director/producer of dance-troupe The Golddiggers, on May 10

Peggy Lipton, 72, actress, model and singer, on May 11
Peggy Lipton – Stoney End (1968)
Peggy Lipton – Lu (1970)

Glenn Martin, 86, country songwriter, on May 12
Merle Haggard – It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad) (1972, as co-writer)
Millie Jackson – If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday (1978, as co-writer)

Doris Day, 97, singer and actress, on May 13
Les Brown with his Orchestra – Sentimental Journey (1945, on vocals)
Doris Day – Again (1949)
Doris Day – Move Over Darling (1963)

Mari Griffith, 79, Welsh folk singer, author and radio presenter, on May 13
Mari Griffith – Dona, Dona (1968)

Mike Wilhelm, 77, guitarist, songwriter with The Charlatans, Flamin’ Groovies, on May 14
The Charlatans – The Shadow Knows (1966)
Flamin’ Groovies – Move It (1978)

Leon Rausch, 91, country & western singer, on May 14
Leon Raush – Brand New World (1967)

Chuck Barksdale, 84, bass vocalist in soul band The Dells, on May 15
The Dells – Q-Bop She-Bop (1957)
The Dells – Please Don’t Change Me Now (1968)
The Dells – If You Go Away (1971)

Leola Jiles, 77, soul singer, on May 16
The Apollas – Just Can Get Enough Of You (1965)
Leola Jiles – Keep It Coming (1967)

Sol Yaged, 96, jazz clarinetist, on May 16
Phil Napoleon – Bonaparte’s Retreat (1950, on clarinet)

Mick Micheyl, 97, French singer and artist, on May 16
Mick Micheyl – Un gamin Paris (1961)

Eric Moore, 67, singer and bassist of hard rock band The Godz, on May 17
The Godz – Gotta Keep A Runnin’ (1978)

Geneviéve Waite, 71, South African actress and singer; mother of Bijou Philips, on May 18
Geneviéve Waite – Femme Fatale (1974)

Melvin Edmonds, 65, R&B singer, brother of Babyface, on May 18
After 7 – Ready Or Not (1989)

Nilda Fernández, 61, Spanish-born chanson singer, on May 19
Nilda Fernández – Yo le decía (1992)

Jake Black, 59, singer of Scottish house act Alabama 3, on May 21
Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (Acoustic) (1997)
Alabama 3 – Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Life (2000)

Gabriel Diniz, 28, Brazilian singer, in plane crash on May 27
Gabriel Diniz – Jenifer (2018)

Edward Seaga, 89, ska producer and Jamaican prime minister, on May 28
Laurel Aitken – Stars Were Made (1961)

Willie Ford, 68, singer with soul band The Dramatics, on May 28
The Dramatics – Watcha See Is Watcha Get (1972)
The Dramatics – Hey You! Get Off My Mountain (1973)
The Dramatics – You’re The Best Thing In My Life (1980)

John Gary Williams, 73, lead singer of soul group The Mad Lads, on May 28
The Mad Lads – Patch My Heart (1966)
The Mad Lads – So Nice (1969)
John Gary Williams – The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy (1973)

Tony Glover, 79, blues harmonica player, on May 29
Koerner, Ray & Glover – Down To Louisiana (1963)

Jeff Walls, guitarist of pop group Guadalcanal Diary, on May 29
Guadalcanal Diary – Trail Of Tears (1984)

Leon Redbone, 69, singer-songwriter and actor, on May 30
Leon Redbone – Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now) (1978)
Leon Redbone – Theme Of Mr. Belvedere (1985)
Leon Redbone – Save Your Sorrow (2014)

Roky Erickson, 71, rock singer-songwriter, on May 31
13th Floor Elevators – You’re Gonna Miss Me (1966)

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(PW in comments)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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