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In Memoriam – March 2014

It was a good month for famous pop stars afflicted by thanatophobia, for their dread did not come to pass. Those who joined the great recording studio in the sky might not have been superstars, but many were no less important.

In Memoriam - March 2014Take Frankie Knuckles, the Chicago house DJ and producer. Those who know a lot about such things say that he not only was the godfather of the house scene “” the genre that has influenced all dance music that came after “” but many other forms of club music. I knew of Knuckles as the guy who did “The Whistle Song” and as a remixer of a great many songs, but I had no idea just how important a name his is in the firmament of dance music. The term “house music” is rooted in the name of a club Knuckles used to have, Knuckles” Warehouse. The city of Chicago apparently named a stretch of street and a day after Knuckles.

Some make music to entertain or get laid; others make music to effect change. Cameroonian musician Lapiro De Mbanga, who has died of cancer at the age of 56, was one of the activist artist, singing for three decades about socio-economic and political problems in his country. Eventually he went to jail for his music. In 2008 he was jailed for a record titled “Constitution Constipée” (Constipated Constitution) which criticised President Paul Biya, a serial vote rigger, and campaigned against a constitutional amendment which allowed Biya to run again in 2011. Sentenced to three years in jail, he almost died in captivity when the authorities didn”t allow treatment for typhoid fever. On completion of his sentence he received political exile in the US, where he died on March 16.

Recently I ran a couple of compilations of songs on which the drummer Jim Gordon performed. Percussionist Joe Lala played on several records with Gordon, including tracks on Neil Diamond”s Beautiful Noise album and with The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band; both play on the featured song by the latter. Lala, who also was a voice actor on cartoons, was a regular collaborator with Stephen Stills, of whose band Manassas he was a member. He played on songs such as Rod Stewart”s “Tonight”s The Night” and “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, Barbra Streisand”s “Guilty” and “Women In Love”, the Bee Gees” “Staying Alive”, “More Than A Woman” and “You Should Be Dancing”, Andy Gibb”s “Shadow Dancing”, Dan Fogelberg”s “Longer” and “Missing You” (a song I played in the car just a couple of days before his death), Crosby, Stills & Nash”s “Southern Cross”, Chicago”s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” and Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton”s “Island In The Stream”.

British record executive Jill Sinclair has died of cancer at the age of 61, eight years after a shooting accident left her severely paralysed. She was the wife of producer Trevor Horn, who was one half of The Buggles, who had a hit with “Video Killed The Radio Star”. And it was through her contacts that Horn came to produce ABC and Dollar, setting him off on a new, very successful career. In 1984 she co-founded the SPZ Group “” Sarm West Studios, ZTT Records, Stiff Records “” and signed acts like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, whom Horn produced, as well as artists such as Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys and Malcolm McLaren. It was in the couple”s Sarm West studio that Bob Geldof recorded the Band Aid single, “Do They Know It”s Christmas”.

He died on February 25, but Peter Callander“s death was reported only in March. You might not know the name, but if you are of a certain age, you probably have whistled along to some song he wrote or co-wrote: “The Ballad of Bonnie And Clyde”, “I Did What I Did for Maria”, “Billy, Don”t Be a Hero”, “The Night Chicago Died”, “Daddy Don”t You Walk So Fast” or “Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha”. More recently the English-born Callander worked in the country genre in Nashville.

I know very little about Charles Love, but I know his voice as one of the singers of the soul group Bloodstone, which pushed the boundaries of their genre in the1970s, dabbling in rock and Latin vibes. For some time Steve Ferrone was their drummer, before he left to join the Average White Band. One day I”ll have to do a retrospective of tracks on which Ferrone (whom I have me and who was a very nice man) played. In the meantime, give a Charles Love a tip of the hat.

Peter Callander, 74, songwriter, on February 25
Tom Jones – To Make A Big Man Cry (1966)
Sandie Shaw – Monsieur Dupont (1969)

Dave Sampson, 73, English pop singer, on March 5
Dave Sampson & The Hunters – Easy To Dream (1961)

Speaker Knockerz, 19, rapper, found dead on March 6

Charles Love, singer and guitarist of soul band Bloodstone, on March 7
Bloodstone – Natural High (1973)
Bloodstone – Go On And Cry (1982)

Joe Mudele, 93, British jazz bassist, on March 7

Buren Fowler, 54, guitarist of southern rock group Drivin” n” Cryin”, on March 8
Drivin” n” Cryin”- Honeysuckle Blue (1989)

Jerry Corbitt, guitarist and singer with folk group The Youngbloods, on March 9
The Youngbloods – Grizzly Bear (1967, also as writer)

George Donaldson, 46, singer of Irish singing group Celtic Thunder, on March 12

Med Flory, 87, jazz saxophonist  with Supersax and actor, on March 12
Supersax – Hot House (1973)

Reggy Tielman, 80, member of Dutch-Indionesian group Die Tielman Brothers, on March 12
The Tielman Brothers – Hello Caterina (1965)

Jean Vallée, 72, Belgian singer and songwriter, on March 12
Jean Vallée ““ L”amour ça fait chanter la vie (1978)

Iola Brubeck, 90, jazz lyricist, widow of Dave, on March 12
Carmen McRae & David Brubeck – In Our Own Sweet Way (1961, as lyricist)

Al Harewood, 90, jazz drummer, on March 13
Dexter Gordon – Society Red (1961, on drums)

Cherifa, 88, Algerian singer-songwriter, on March 14

Gary Burger, 72, singer of garage rock band The Monks, on March 14
The Monks ““ Cuckoo (1966)

Scott Asheton, 64, drummer of The Stooges, on March 15
The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog (1969)

Cees Veerman, 70, singer of Dutch pop band The Cats, on March 15
The Cats – Be My Day (1974)

Mitch Leigh, 86, musical composer (Man of La Mancha), on March 16
Luther Vandross – The Impossible Dream (1994, as composer)

Lapiro de Mbanga, 56, Cameroonian musician and political activist, on March 16
Lapiro De Mbanga РConstitution Constip̩e (2008)

Paddy McGuigan, Irish songwriter and member of The Barleycorn, on March 17
The Barleycorn – Men Behind The Wire (1972, also as writer)

Joe Lala, 66, voice actor and musician, on March 17
The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band – Border Town (1974, on percussions)
Bobby Womack – What’s Your World (1975, on congas)

Jill Sinclair, 61, British record executive, wife of Trevor Horn, on March 22
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes (1984, as label executive)

Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus), 50, singer and bassist with metal band GWAR, on March 23
Gwar – I Hate Love Songs (1997)

Paulo Schroeber, 40, guitarist of Brazilian metal band Almah, on March 24

Bill Merritt, 66, Canadian rock bassist and festival director, on March 25

Joe “˜Speedo” Frazier, 75, member of the Chad Mitchell Trio, on March 28
Chad Mitchell Trio – Green Grow The Lilacs (1963)

Zara Gretti, 28, Nigerian singer, on March 29

Frankie Knuckles, 59, house music DJ and record producer, on March 31
Frankie Knuckles – The Whistle Song (1991)

(PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    April 3rd, 2014 at 06:46 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Rhod
    April 4th, 2014 at 21:08 | #2

    Thank you once again for a great effort in putting together the In Memoriam series. The series opens my eyes to all the great talent that I have never heard and without this series would never of heard.



  3. Ravel
    April 7th, 2014 at 01:39 | #3

    Those lists and song are always very welcome. Thank you !

  4. dogbreath
    April 8th, 2014 at 16:43 | #4

    Thanks for collating the Grim Reaper’s latest haul! And your notes are always insightful & interesting. Appreciate your time & effort.

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