Posts Tagged ‘The Grass Roots’

In Memoriam – July 2011

August 3rd, 2011 5 comments

The month was overshadowed by the death of Amy Winehouse. But the Grim Reaper took some people on whom greater attention would not have been wasted. For example, Chic’s keyboard man Raymond Jones died at the age of 53 of pneumonia; the same illness that took fellow Chic member Bernie Edwards 15 years ago. Also departing on the soul train this month was Fonce Mizell, who with his brother Larry produced acts such as L.T.D., Taste of Honey, The Blackbyrds, Brenda Lee Eager and The Rance Allen Group, and on his own produced that golden run of Jackson 5 singles from 1969-71.

The 1960s rock band The Grass Roots lost its second member this year: after Rick Coonce’s death in February, lead singer Rob Grill passed away. I was also saddened to learn of the death of America’s Dan Peek, whose compositions Lonely People and Don’t Cross The River formed part of the soundtrack of my youth.

The most bizarre death this month is that of Facundo Cabral’s. The 74-year-old Argentinian singer-songwriter was shot dead in Guatemala on July 9, apparently in an assassination attempt on a concert promoter. He had a tough life: at the age of 9 he supported his mother and sibling after the father walked out; in 1978 his wife and infant daughter died in a plane crash; he was a cancer survivor and almost blind. Sample Cabral line: “Every morning is good news, every child that is born is good news, every just man is good news, every singer is good news, because every singer is one less soldier.”

I was also sad to learn of the death, after a fall, of German Schlager singer Bernd Clüver, who was a cut above the usual gang of bowtied squares in the genre, and who in 1976 virtually sabotaged his career when he wrote a song about homophobia, which was banned on West German radio.

Finally, Alex Steinweiss died. We all have plenty of his invention: the album cover. In 1939 he pitched the idea of illustrated record sleeves to his superiors at Columbia Records. They accepted his proposal, and record sales shot up immediately. Steinweiss mostly designed artwork for classical records. Read more at

Oh, and if you play the saxophone, congratulations on not dying in July.

Christy Essien-Igbokwe, 52, Nigerian singer, on June 30
Christy Essien-Igbokwe – Seun Rere (1981)

Raymond Jones, 52, keyboardist with Chic, on July 1
Chic – My Feet Keep Dancing (1979)

Bébé Manga, 60, Cameroonian singer, on July 1
B̩b̩ Manga РAmi O (1982)

Ruth Roberts, 84, songwriter (Meet The Mets, It”s a Beautiful Day For A Ballgame), on July 1
Meet The Mets (original version, 1962)

Jane Scott, 92, legendary rock critic, on July 3
The Jam – The Modern World (1977)
Manuel Galbán, 80, Cuban guitarist (Las Zafiros, Buena Vista Social Club), on July 7
Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán – Patricia (2003)

Billy Blanco, 87, Brazilian bossa nova pioneer, on July 8
Billy Blanco – O tempo e a hora (1974)

Kenny Baker, 85, bluegrass fiddler (Bill Monroe, Don Gibson), on July 8
Bill Monroe – Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine (1970)

Würzel (Michael Burston), 61, Motörhead gutarist (also of Fairport Convention, Splodgenessabounds), on July 9
Moțrhead РOverkill (1979)

Facundo Cabral, 74, Argentine singer-songwriter, shot dead on July 9
Facundo Cabral – No Soy De Aquí, Ni Soy De Allá (1970)
Rob Grill, 67, singer of ’60s rock band The Grass Roots, on July 11
The Grass Roots – Midnight Confession (1968)

Fonce Mizell, 68, record producer (a half of Mizell Brothers), death announced on July 11
Blackbyrds – Do It, Fluid (1975)
L.T.D. – Love Ballad (1976)

Jerry Ragovoy, 80, producer and hit songwriter (Piece Of My Heart, Time Is On My Side), on July 13
Garnett Mimms & the Enchanters – Cry Baby (1963, as songwriter)

Adam Chisvo, 47, Zimbabwean jazz musician, on July 13

Antonio Prieto, 85, Chilean singer and actor, on July 14
Antonio Prieto – La novia (1961)
Eric Delaney, 87, British percussionist and swing band leader, on July 15
Eric Delaney Band – Sweet Georgia Brown

Gil Bernal, 80, saxophonist with Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, The Coasters, Quincy Jones, on July 17
Duane Eddy – Rebel-Rouser (1959, as saxophonist)

Taiji, 45, member of Japanese heavy metal band X Japan, of suicide on July 17
X Japan – Endless Rain (1989)

Joe Lee Wilson, 75, jazz singer, on July 17
Joe Lee Wilson – It’s You Or No One (1974)

Sid Cooper, 94, woodwind musician and arranger for big bands (Tommy Dorsey),  TV (Johnny Carson Show) and film (several Woody Allen movies), on July 18
Chris Connor – Chiquita From Chi-wah-wah (1954, on alto sax)
Alex Steinweiss, 94, graphic designer and inventor of album covers (in 1940), on July 18

Lil Greenwood, 86, jazz singer (Duke Ellington Orchestra), on July 19

Milly Del Rubio, 89, singer with The Del Rubio Triplets, on July 21
Del Rubio Triplets – Whip It (1994)

Amy Winehouse, 27, English singer-singwriter, on July 23
Amy Winehouse – Me And Mr Jones (2006)

Bill Morrissey, 59, singer-songwriter, on July 23
Bill Morrissey – Last Day Of The Last Furlough (1989)
Dan Peek, 60, member and songwriter of folk-rock group America, on July 24
America – Don’t Cross The River (1972)

Mike Reaves, 52, guitarist of alt.metal band Full Devil Jacket, on July 25

Frank Foster, 82, jazz saxophonist (Count Basie), composer and arranger, on July 26
Count Basie Orchestra feat. Tony Bennett – Jeepers Creepers (1959, on tenor sax)

Tim Smooth, 39, New Orleans rapper, on July 26
Joe Arroyo, 55, Colombian singer, on July 26
Joe Arroyo-Echao pa’lante (1988)

Bernd Clüver, 63, German Schlager singer, on July 28
Bernd Clüver – Der Junge mit der Mundharmonika (1973)

Jack Barlow, 87, country singer, on July 29

Gene McDaniels, 76, soul singer and songwriter, on July 29
Gene McDaniels – Tower Of Strength (1961)
Roberta Flack – Compared To What (1969, as songwriter)
Marlena Shaw – Feel Like Making Love (1975, as songwriter)


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In Memoriam – March 2011

April 4th, 2011 7 comments

The Grim Reaper must be in need of a holiday after his brutally busy month.In fact, we’re still finding his victims from last month. For example, the 20 February death of doo wop singer Willie Davis was announced only last week.

Among this month’s dead are Carl Bunch, a drummer who toured with Buddy Holly & the Crickets in early 1959. He was in hospital due to frostbite sustained on the unheated tourbus which Buddy, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper tried to rescape by taking the flight that killed them.

Austrian disco-rocker Kurt Hauenstein’ Supermax featured in the Stepping Back series just a few days after his death (which at that point had passed me by; a reader alerted me to it). And with death of St Clair Lee, both male voices of The Hues Corporation are now silent. Another disco voice now gone is Loleatta Holloway, whose Love Sensation was copiously sampled from for Black Box’s 1989 hit Ride On Time ““ including her vocals (“performed” in the video by a slim, young thing). Holloway had more than that in her repertoire, as the slow-burning soul track in this mix, a b-side from 1971, shows.

Country music lost steel guitar maestro and composer Ralph Mooney (whose Crazy Arms was one of the great hits of the 1950s), composers Joe Taylor and Todd Cerney, Opry member Mel McDaniel, bluegrass musician and songwriter Harley Allen and, above all, Ferlin Husky, who with Buck Owen and Jean Shepard pioneered the Bakersfield sound that produced the likes of Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons.

Nate Dogg’s singing-rap style was, in my view, underappreciated. To my chagrin, in his Summer Night On Hammer Hill, Jens Lekman excluded Nate’s contribution to the ’90s hip hop classic Regulate altogether, mentioning only Warren G.

Of all deaths this month (and probably most others), that of London reggae man Smiley Culture is the most bizarre: he reportedly stabbed himself in the heart during a raid by the police, who suspected him of dealing in cocaine. In that light, his humorous 1984 hit Police Officer, about being searched for ganja in his Lancia, is almost spooky.

As always, songs listed below the entries are collated in one downloadable file.

Willie Davis, 78, tenor of doo wop group The Cadets (also recording as The Jacks, on February 20
The Cadets – Stranded In The Jungle (1956)

Jean Dinning, 86, member of The Dinnings and writer of Mark Dinning’s Teen Angel, on February 22
Dinning Sisters – Beg Your Pardon (1948)

William “Beau Dollar” Bowman, 69, funk singer & drummer, on February 22
Beau Dollar and the Coins – Soul Serenade (1966)

Rick Coonce, 64, drummer of The Grass Roots, on February 25
The Grass Roots – Let’s Live For Today (1967)

Johnny Preston, 71, pop singer, on March 4
Johnny Preston – Running Bear (1960)

Herman Ernest, 59, session drummer for Dr John, Lee Dorsey, Neville Brothers, Labelle (a.o), on March 6
Labelle – Lady Marmalade (1974, as drummer)

St. Clair Lee, 66, singer with soul group Hues Corporation, on March 8
The Hues Corporation – I Caught Your Act (1977)

Mike Starr, 44, bassist of Alice in Chains, body found on March 8
Alice In Chains – Man In The Box (1990)

Eddie Snyder, 92, lyricist (Strangers In The Night, Spanish Eyes), on March 10
Al Martino – Spanish Eyes (1965)

Hugh Martin, 96, film composer, on March 11
Vanessa Williams – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (2004, as composer)

Jack Hardy, 63, influential folk singer-songwriter, on March 11

Rita Guerrero, 46, singer of Mexican rock group Santa Sabina, on March 11
Santa Sabina – Invitacion (2003)

Joe Morello, 82, drummer of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, on March 12
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Kathy’s Waltz (1959)

Nilla Pizzi, 91, Italian singer once banned from radio by Mussolini, on March 12
Nilla Pizzi – Amado mio (1947)

Ritchie Pickett, 56, New Zealand country singer, on March 13

Big Jack Johnson, 70, blues singer and guitarist, on March 14
Big Jack Johnson & The Cornlickers – Too Many Drivers (2009)

Ronnie Hammond, 60, singer of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, on March 14
Atlanta Rhythm Section – So Into You (1976)

Todd Cerney, 57, country musician, songwriter and producer,on March 14
Steve Holy – Good Morning Beautiful (2002, as composer)

Nate Dogg, 41, Hip hop legend, on March 15
Nate Dogg feat Warren G – Nobody Does It Better (1998)

Smiley Culture, 48, British reggae singer and DJ, on March 15
Smiley Culture – Police Officer (1984)

Melvin Sparks, 64, jazz and soul guitarist, on March 15
Melvin Sparks – Get Ya Some (1975)

Armen Halburian, 77, drummer with Herbie Mann”s Family of Mann, on March 16  (no pic available)
Herbie Mann – Hi-Jack (1975)

Ferlin Husky, 85, country singer, on March 17
Ferlin Husky – Giddy Up Go (1971)

Jet Harris, 71, guitarist with The Shadows, on March 18
The Shadows – Apache (1960)

Kurt Hauenstein, 62, leader of Austrian disco band Supermax, on March 20
Supermax – It Ain’t Easy (1979)

Johnny Pearson, 85, British composer, arranger and pianist, on March 20
Sounds Orchestral – Cast Your Fate To The Wind (1965, as pianist)

Ralph Mooney, 82, country musician and composer and steel guityar maestro, on March 20
Ray Price – Crazy Arms (1956, as composer)
Buck Owens – Under Your Spell Again (1959, on steel guitar)

Loleatta Holloway, 64, disco and soul singer, on March 21
Loleatta Holloway – Rainbow ’71 (1971)
Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation (1980)

Pinetop Perkins, 97, blues pianist, on March 21
Joe Willie ‘Pinetop’ Perkins & Marcia Ball – Carmel Blue (2004)

Zoogz Rift, 57, musician, artist and wrestler, on March 22

Frankie Sparcello, bassist of thrash metal band Exhorder, on March 22.

Syd Kitchen, 59, South African alternative singer, on March 22
Syd Kitchen – Where The Children Play (1999)

Ken Arcipowski, 66, founder member of doo wop band Randy & the Rainbows, on March 23
Randy and the Rainbows – Denise (1963)

Joe Taylor, 89, country musician and composer, on March 24
Leroy Van Dyke – The Auctioneer (1957, as composer)

Derek Parrott, 63, American folk musician, on March 25

Carl Bunch, 71, tour drummer of Buddy Holly & the Crickets, on March 26.

Lula Côrtes, 61, Brazilian psychedelic-rock musician, on March 26
Lula C̫rtes РDesengano (1981)

Harley Allen, 55, country singer and songwriter, on March 30
Dan Tyminski & Harley Allen & Pat Enright – I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (2000)
Alan Jackson – Everything I Love (1996, as songwriter)

Mel McDaniel, 68, country singer, on March 31
Mel McDaniel – The Big Time (1982)


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