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In Memoriam – February 2014

In Memoriam - Feb 2014Two legendary guitarists joined that great orchestra in the sky in February.

Franny Beecher was the lead guitarist of Bill Haley”s Comets in their heyday. He didn”t play the extraordinary guitar solo on the recording of “Rock Around The Clock” “” that was Danny Cedrone, who died a month after the single”s first release, in June 1954. Beecher replaced Cedrone and played the solo when it, and the band, appeared in the film The Blackboard Jungle. It is also Beecher”s falsetto voice that introduces the hit “See You Later Alligator”. Beecher left the Comets in the early “60s. He had earned some renown before he joined The Comets as a member of Benny Goodman”s band and for backing Buddy Greco.

Spanish flamenco music rarely bothers the world of pop, but Paco De Lucía earned the attention of rock and jazz greats, playing with the likes of Carlos Santana, Al Di Meola, Chick Corea and John McLaughlin. Some regard him as the greatest flamenco guitarist ever, and some even as one of the greatest guitarists, period.

I was saddened to learn of the death of Bunny Rugs, lead singer of Third World, whose music has provided the soundtrack to many parties at which I”ve played. “Try Jah Love” and “Dance On The Floor” are always certain to get people moving on the floor.

With the death of record label executive, producer and manager Marty Thau, another father of the New York punk scene of the mid-1970s is gone. Thau managed the New York Dolls and helped acts like The Ramones, Blondie, Suicide (whom he co-produced), Brian Setzer, Richard Hell, The Real Kids and others along the way. Before that, Thau worked for several record companies, promoting such hits as “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by Ohio Express, and “Simon Says” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. He also co-wrote “Soul Struttin””, a Northern Soul hit for Jamie Lyon, which was later released under the Ohio Express name (it was not really a band but a franchise name) and the 1910 Fruitgum Company (ditto).

Most people have never heard of the 1970s German prog/hard-rock band Birth Control, though the death of drummer Bernd Noske will have brought the name into the consciousness of some people. I had never heard of them until 2000, when my older brother saw their hit “Gamma Ray” available for download. He urged me to get the track, promising me that I would become acquainted with musical brilliance. I did download it. It was rubbish. My brother fervently disagreed with me. The question was settled by his wife. “It”s crap,” she said, and my brother was defeated. Still, he obviously had his like-minds: Birth Control kept going under Noske”s leadership until the 18th of this month.

Louisa from The Sound of Music has died at 99. In real life Louisa was known as Maria von Trapp — in the musical her name, like those of all the kids, was changed. In her case it would have been necessary, so as to avoid confusion with Julie Andrews” character, whose name, in reality and fiction was also Maria (Louisa was played by Heather Menzies). She was the third-oldest of the von Trapp family depicted in the film, and the longest-living one. And she was a crucial figure in the story: it was Maria”s illness with scarlet fever which prompted dad von Trapp to hire the services of the Benedictine novice Maria Kutschera.

Von Trapp

The von Trapp family takes a keen interest in the various series of articles that have featured on the Any Major With Half A Heart blog.


Bunny Rugs, 65, singer of reggae group Third World, on Feb. 2
Third World – 1865 (96° In The Shade) (1977)
Third World – Now That We Found Love (12″ version) (1978)
Third World ““ Committed (1982)

Miguel Silva (M.I.G.), 31, member of hip hop outfit Hooligan Boyz, killed on Feb. 2

Shirley Temple, 85, singing child actress, on Feb. 10
Shirley Temple – Polly Wolly Doodle (1935)
Shirley Temple – Goodnight My Love (1936)

Seán Potts, 83, tin whistle/bodhrán player with Irish folk group The Chieftains, on Feb. 11
The Chieftains ““ Bonaparte”s Retreat (1976)

Alice Babs, 90, Swedish jazz singer, on Feb. 11

Marvin Spencer, 75, member of Cavalier, father of singer Tracie Spencer, on Feb. 12
Cavalier – Wait For Me I’m Coming (1960s)

Santiago Feliú, 51, Cuban singer-songwriter, on Feb. 12
Santiago Feliú – Para Bárbara (2002)

King Kester Emeneya, 57, Congolese singer, on Feb. 13
King Kester Emeneya ““ Mukusa (1986)

Marty Thau, 75, record executive, manager and producer, on Feb. 13
New York Dolls – Stranded In The Jungle (1974, as manager)
Suicide ““ Johnny (1977, as co-producer)

Gert “˜Kralle” Krawinkel, 66, guitarist of German new wave band Trio, on Feb. 16
Trio – Da da da (1982)

Ray Kennedy, 67, singer-songwriter, musician and producer, on Feb. 16
Ray Kennedy – Sail On, Sailor (1980, also as co-writer)

Bob Casale, 61, guitarist of Devo, on Feb. 17
Devo – Jocko Homo (1978)
Devo – That’s Good (1982)

Wayne Smith, 48, Jamaican dancehall musician, on Feb. 17
Wayne Smith – Under Mi Sleng Teng (1985)

Maria von Trapp, 99, Austrian-born singer, portrayed in The Sound of Music, on Feb. 18
Trapp Family Singers – Es wollt’ ein Jägerlein jagen

Bernd Noske, 67, drummer of German prog rock band Birth Control, on Feb. 18
Birth Control – Gamma Ray (1974)

Duffy Power, 72, English rock & roll singer, on Feb. 19
Duffy Power – If I Get Lucky Someday (1962)

Tex Montana, 49, cowpunk singer and guitarist, on Feb. 19

Francesco Di Giacomo, 66, singer of Italian prog-rock band Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, on Feb. 21
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso – R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace) (1972)

Penny DeHaven, 65, country singer, on Feb. 23
Penny DeHaven – I Feel Fine (1969)

Franny Beecher, 92, guitarist, former member of Bill Haley & His Comets, on Feb. 24
Benny Goodman and his Orchestra feat. Buddy Greco – It Isn’t Fair (1949, on guitar)
Bill Haley & His Comets – See You Later Alligator (1954, on guitar, vocals on opening line)
Bill Haley & His Comets – Blue Comet Blues (1956, on guitar and as composer)

Kelly Holland, 52, ex-frontman of rock band Cry Of Love, on Feb. 24
Cry of Love – Bad Thing (1993)

Paco de Lucía, 66, Spanish flamenco guitarist, on Feb. 25
Paco De Lucía – Gitanos Trianeros (1967)

Philip Smart, 53, Jamaican record producer, on Feb. 25

Frank Reed, 59, singer with The Chi-Lites (from 1988), on Feb. 26

Tim Wilson, 52, country singer and songwriter, stand-up comedian, on Feb. 26
Tim Wilson – Booty Man (2010)

Georges Hamel, 66, Canadian country singer-songwriter, on Feb. 26

(PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    March 3rd, 2014 at 07:17 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Phir LePhance
    March 3rd, 2014 at 12:46 | #2

    As usual a sad but indispensable list. Thank you.

  3. JohnnyDiego
    March 3rd, 2014 at 14:19 | #3

    I hadn’t heard of Gert ‘Kralle’ Krawinkel’s passing. Trio’s eponymous 1981 album became the background music for many shenanigans in my house. I can still visualize my five and seven year-old children contorting like robots in our home with the speakers loudly churning out “Da Da Da.” To this day phrases such as, “I don’t love you you don’t love me” and “Let me in let me out” are bandied about by my now grownup children, their children, and by myself as well.

  4. halfhearteddude
    March 3rd, 2014 at 15:11 | #4

    What a brilliant memory.

  5. dogbreath
    March 4th, 2014 at 11:17 | #5

    Thanks for putting in the work to compile last month’s roll call of musical departures. Never fails to enlighten and educate.

  6. Rhod
    March 7th, 2014 at 21:36 | #6

    Thanks for another In Memoriam share. Always appreciate the effort and you are right Gamma ray is crap



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