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In Memoriam – March 2012

April 2nd, 2012 3 comments

The Grim Reaper took it relatively easy this month. The headline deaths were those of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs and Robert B Sherman, who with his brother wrote Disney standards for films such as 101 Dalmations, The Jungle Book and Mary Poppins. The idea for Let’s Go Fly A Kite, from Mary Poppins, apparently was inspired by the Sherman brothers’ father, Al Sherman, who was a songwriter and hobby kitemaker.

But perhaps the most interesting lifestory to reach its end in March was that of Australian musician and AIDS activist Vince Lovegrove, who as a young man in the 1960s played in a group with Bon Scott, whom he is said to have introduced to AC/DC. He worked as a journalist and as a manager. His clients included the Divinyls, before they found international fame with I Touch Myself. Lovegrove resigned from management to care for his wife, Sue Sidewinder, and little son Troy who were HIV-infected. A 1987 documentary on their struggle, which premiered just a few weeks after Sue”s death, has been credited with doing much to overcome the false notion of AIDS as a “gay disease”. Troy died in 1993 at the age of eight, also just before a screening of a documentary about him. Lovegrove made international headlines when in a biography on INXS frontman Michael Hutchence he claimed that Paula Yates entrapped the singer with a pregnancy. A libel case was settled out of court.

Lucio Dalla, 68, Italian singer-songwriter and musician, on March 1
Josh Groban ““ Caruso (2003, as composer)

Ronnie Montrose, 64, guitarist of hard rock group Montrose and session musician (Van Morrison, Gary Wright a.o.), on March 3
Edgar Winter Group ““ Freeride (1972, as guitarist)

Frank Marocco, 81, accordionist, arranger and composer, on March 3
Frank Marocco Group – Just Friends (2002)

Robert B. Sherman, 86, Tin Pan Alley and Disney film songwriter, on March 5
Johnny Burnette – You’re Sixteen (1960)
Mary Poppins – Let’s Go Fly A Kite (1964)
The Jungle Book (Louis Prima) – I Wanna Be Like You (1966)

Joe Byrd, 78, jazz piano and bass player (brother of Charlie Byrd), on March 6
Joe Byrd Trio – Saw Your Old Lady (2001)

Jimmy Ellis, 74, singer of soul group The Trammps, on March 8
The Trammps – Penguin / Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart (1972)

Buddy “˜Bugs” Henderson, 68, blues guitarist, on March 8

Terry Teene, 70, rockabilly singer and clown (creating a template for Ronald McDonald), on March 9

Michael Hossack, 65, drummer of The Doobie Brothers, on March 12
The Doobie Brothers – Rockin’ Down The Highway (1972)

Eddie King, 73, blues guitarist and singer, on March 13

Cedric Sharpley, 59, drummer for Gary Numan/Tubeway Army, on March 13

Karl Roy, 43, singer of Filipino rock bands P.O.T. and Kapatid, on March 13

Gary Cornell, 34, singer of Australian rock band Pyramid of the Coyote, on stage on March 18

Johnny McCauley, 86, Irish folk singer and songwriter, on March 22

Eric Lowen, 60, songwriter and member of Lowen & Navarro, on March 23
Pat Benatar ““ We Belong (1984, as co-writer)

Nick Noble, 85, country and easy listening singer, on March 24
Nick Noble – Moonlight Swim (1957)

Marion Marlowe, 83, singer and actress, on March 24
Marion Marlowe – Whither Thou Goest (1954)

Vince Lovegrove, 65, Australian musician, manager, journalist and Aids activist, in a car crash on March 24

Tom Wells, 70, television composer (Buffalo Bill, WKRP in Cincinnati, Open All Night), on March 26
Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati (1978, full version  of the theme)

Earl Scruggs, 88, bluegrass banjo legend, on March 28
Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs  – Why Don’t You Tell Me So? (1949)
Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs-Like A Rolling Stone (1968)
Earl Scruggs – Honky Tonk Women (1971)

Jerry “˜Boogie” McCain, 81, blues musician, on March 28
Jerry McCain – My Next Door Neighbor (1955)

Zoran Romic, guitarist with Australian rock group Chocolate Starfish, on March 31

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In Memoriam – October 2011

November 2nd, 2011 3 comments

The Grim Reaper feasted on a rich harvest in October, though he (or she; let’s not be sexist about grim reaping) thankfully let off a bit towards the end. Incidentally, today’s post is the best-timed of the year: published on All Souls Day.

The headline death this month probably is that of folk-music legend Bert Jansch, who influenced so many musicians ““ and not only folkies. Among those who cited Jansch as influences are Jimmy Page, Elton John, Nick Drake, Johnny Marr, Mazzy Starr’s Hope Sandoval, Neil Young, Donovan, Blur’s Graham Coxon, Suede’s Bernard Butler, Al Stewart, The Fleet Foxes and Paul Simon.

Clarence Johnson, who has died at 69, might have become a soul legend with the Chi-Lites; instead he became a fine producer of soul music. With future Chi-Lites frontman Eugene Record and Robert “Squirrel” Lester (the good-looking one in the Chi-Lites), he was a member of doo wop band The Chanteurs. That band then merged with members of The Desideros to form The Hi-Lites who, after Johnson left, renamed themselves the Chi-Lites (in tribute to their hometown of Chicago). Of the Hi-Lites line-up, only one member, Marshall Thompson, is still alive.

Even if the name means nothing to you, you’ll be familiar with the photography of Barry Feinstein, who died at the age of 80. Many Feinstein photos became famous album covers, including Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changing, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Janis Joplin’s Pearl, The Byrd’s Mr. Tambourine Man, and Eric Clapton’s eponymous solo debut.

Two young musicians died young of brain haemorrhage. Peter Sykes of the upcoming British Indie group This Many Boyfriends (I’ve been unable to ascertain his age) and Zimbabwean musician Taku Mafika, 28. Both tracks included here to mark their passing are quite excellent.

Tragically upcoming R&B singer Gilani Taylor, 27, died in Los Angeles of injuries sustained in a car accident three weeks earlier which also killed her young daughter. It seems the driver of the car that caused the accident fled the scene. A tragic story. Likewise, Joel “Taz” DiGregorio of country band Charlie Daniels Band (whose big hit The Devil Went Down To Georgia he co-wrote) died in a car crash. Another band member and co-writer of Devil, Tommy Crain, died in January. And Aaron Beamish, drummer of Canadian rock band Slow Motion Victory, died in a skateboarding accident, apparently after being hit by a car. At 25, Beamish is the month’s youngest dead. He died on the same day as the month’s oldest, 100-year-old Edmundo Ros.

The most bizarre death must be that of Finnish metal guitarist Mikko Laine, who was run over by a truck while apparently sleeping backstage in Holland. Also strange was the death of hard rock guitarist Terry Span, who fell into a coma after being hit by a fellow band member. It seems Span had tried to break up a fight between band mates.

As a fan of The Blues Brothers, I must also note the death at 75 on October 5 of actor Charles Napier, who played Tucker McElroy, the grudge-bearing leader of the Good Ole Boys.

Clarence Johnson, 69, soul producer and doop wop singer with The Chanteurs (who would become the Chi-Lites), on September 23
The Chanteurs – Wishin’ Well (1961)
The Brighter Side of Darkness – Love Jones (1973, as producer)

Uan Rasey, 90, jazz trumpeter on movie soundtracks (Taxi Driver, Singing In The Rain, Ben Hur, West Side Story, Chinatown a.o.), on September 26
June Christy & Pete Rugolo – Midnight Sun (1953)

Peter Sykes, guitarist with indie pop band This Many Boyfriends, on September 27
This Many Boyfriends – Young Lovers Go Pop! (2011)

David Bedford, 74, British composer and musician (collaborator with Mike Oldfield), on October 1

Kay Armen, 95, actress, singer and composer, on October 3
Kay Armen feat. The Balladiers – Cuddle Up A Little Closer, Lovey Mine (1943)

Mikko Laine, 30, guitarist of Finnish metal band Sole Remedy, on October 3

Bert Jansch, 67, Scottish folk musician and songwriter, member of folk group Pentangle, on October 5
Bert Jansch – Needle Of Death (1965)
Bert Jansch – Just A Dream (1995)

Bess Bonnier, 83, jazz pianist, on October 6
Bess Bonnier – Sonnet XVIII (Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day) (1999)

Donald Banks, 76, bass singer with soul group The Tymes, on October 7
The Tymes – You Little Trustmaker (1974)

Mikey Welsh, 40, bassist (Weezer, Juliana Hatfield), apparently of suicide on October 8
Weezer – Island In The Sun (2001)

Roger Williams, 87, easy listening pianist, on October 8
Roger Williams – Autumn Leaves (1955)

David Hess, 69, songwriter and actor (including a terrifying turn in 1972’s Last House On The Left), on October 8
Pat Boone – Speedy Gonzales (1962, as composer)

Taku Mafika, 28, Zimbabwean Mbira musician, on October 10
Taku Mafika – Zhizha (2009)

George “Mojo” Buford, 81, blues harmonica player, on October 11

Kim Brown, 66, British-born singer with Finnish rock band the Renegades, on October 11

Paul Leka, 70, songwriter and arranger, on October 12
Steam – Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (1969, as songwriter)

Buddy Sharpe (Bernard Gareis), 73, leader of Rockabilly band Buddy Sharpe and the Shakers, on October 12

Joel DiGregorio, 67, keyboardist and songwriter with The Charlie Daniels Band), in a car crash on October 12
Charlie Daniels Band – Saddle Tramp (1976)

Chuck Ruff, 60, drummer with Sawbuck, The Edgar Winter Group, Sammy Hagar a.o., on October 14
Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein (1973)

Theron Brison (known as Thee Ram Jam), 48, masked funk bassist, Bootsy Collins collaborator and drug counsellor, found murdered on October 14

Betty Driver, 91, English Big Band singer and actress on UK soap Coronation Street, on October 15
Betty Driver – I’ll Take Romance (1935)

Tongai “˜Dhewa” Moyo, 43, Zimbabwean musician, on October 15

Pete Rugolo, 95, jazz bandleader and arranger, movie/TV composer (theme of The Fugitive), jazz arranger, on October 16
Billy Eckstine & Pete Rugolo’s Orchestra – I Apologise (1951)
Pete Rugolo and his Orchestra  – Jingle Bells Mambo (1954)

Bob Brunning, 68, English blues bassist (Savoy Brown, original line-up of Fleetwood Mac), on October 18
Savoy Brown – I’m Tired (1969)

Earl Gilliam, 81, blues pianist, on October 19

John-Alex Mason, 35, blues musician, on October 19

Barry Feinstein, 80, photographer of musicians, on October 20
George Harrison – Behind That Locked Door (1970, album cover photo)

Terry Span, 48, guitarist of hard rock band Alisteir Wild, on October 20

Edmundo Ros, 100, Trinidadian bandleader, on October 21
Edmundo Ros and his Rumba Band – Zombie (1941)
Edmundo Ros and his Orchestra – Light My Fire (1970)

Aaron Beamish, 25, drummer of Canadian rock band Slow Motion Victory, in skateboarding accident on October 21

Freddie Ferrara, doo wop singer (The Del-Satins, The Brooklyn Bridge), sang back-up on Dion’s hits Runaround Sue and The Wanderer, on October 21
The Del-Satins – Ballad Of A Dee-Jay (1962)

Gilani Taylor, 27, R&B singer, from injuries in a car cash, on October 21

Gene Kurtz, 69, bassist and songwriter, on October 23
Roy Head and the Traits – Treat Her Right (1963, a co-writer and bassist)

Tommy Doss, 91, singer with Sons of the Pioneers, Bob Wills, Ole Rasmussen a.o., on October 25

Jimmy Savile, 84, British sexual abuser, disc jockey (BBC, Radio Luxembourg) and television presenter (Top of the Pops), on October 29

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“You”re gonna look pretty funny trying to eat corn on the cob with no fuckin’ teeth.”