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In Memoriam – September 2015

October 2nd, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

In memoriam 091With the death of Wilton Felder, only one original Crusader is left standing, Stix Hooper. As the saxophonist of The Crusaders, Felder was responsible for one of my favourite moments in music: the one-minute note he held in the live version of So Far Away. It”s an impressive feat, made greater by how the band falls in at the end of that note. Felder was not only a gifted sax player, but also a sought-after bassist. In that capacity he played on Marvin Gaye”s Let”s Get It On (the song and the LP), Joan Baez”s Diamonds And Rust (also song and album), Billy Joel”s Piano Man and Michael Franks” Monkey See-Monkey Do, as well as for Randy Newman, Seals & Croft, Shuggie Otis, Jackson Browne, The Four Tops, Steely Dan (Pretzel Logic and Katy Lied), Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, Al Jarreau, Minnie Riperton, Millie Jackson, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, John Cale, Bobby Womack, Tina Turner (whose version of Help he also produced), James Ingram and many others. He also played on several Motown tracks, including (according to Wikipedia, so caveat emptor) the Jackson 5″s I Want You Back and The Love You Save.

The sole survivor of the plane crash that killed Otis Redding has passed away at the age of 67. Trumpeter Ben Cauley, founding member of The Bar-Kays, also lost four bandmates in the crash on December 10, 1967. The account of his survival is dramatic: he awoke as bandmate Phalon Jones looked out of the window and exclaimed, “Oh no”, realising the impending disaster. Cauley unbuckled himself, freeing him from his seat as the plane crashed into the icy Lake Monona. Clutching his seat pillow, he survived 20 minutes in the water “” longer than was deemed possible even for insulated divers. After the crash he and fellow co-founder James Alexander (who is still alive, in large part due to it having been his turn to miss out on the Otis flight) refounded the group, continuing their backing work at Stax and recording in their own right. Cauley left the Bar-Kays in 1971, going on to back acts such as Isaac Hayes, Dobie Gray, Candi Staton, Denise LaSalle, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, The Doobie Brothers, Donovan, Al Green, Millie Jackson, BB King, Boz Scaggs and more.

Peggy Jones, who has died at 75, was the mother of all rock women with guitars. As rhythm guitarist in Bo Diddley’s band, the affectionately called Lady Bo blazed a trail at a time when women musicians in rock & roll were rare, never mind black teenage girls. Trained in tap, ballet and opera, Jones was also a bandleader, and later backed acts such as and later backed James Brown and Sam & Dave.

In memoriam 092Few pop stars go from a successful career in pop and TV to one in academia teaching law. But so it was with Frederick Greene, who was a singer with Sha Na Na and best known as the brainy “Denny” in the group”s TV show. In the movie Grease, it was Greene who sang Tears On My Pillow at the school dance. He also appeared with his group at Woodstock. In 1971 he had obtained a BA in law from Columbia. After Sha Na Na, he obtained his masters at Harvard and a JD from Yale. For a while he worked as a movie executive. At the time of his death from cancer at 66, Greene was a professor of law at the University of Dayton, Ohio.

Ska fans will have mourned the death of Rico Rodriguez, the Cuban trombonist who played on many records which fed the genre”s revival in Britain in the early 1980s, and played on records of the Two Tone movement”s main purveyors, the Specials and Selecter. A Rastafarian who had moved from Cuba to Jamaica in the 1950s, Rodriguez also played on many reggae records, including by Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Toots & The Maytals, Burning Spear, Prince Buster and Junior English. He also played on pop and rock records, backing among others Joan Armatrading, Godley & Creme, Ian Dury, Jim Capaldi, John Martyn, Paul Young (including the hit Love Of The Common People), Peter Gabriel, Ocean Colour Scene, Super Furry Animals, Amy Winehouse (on Teach Me Tonight), and Tom Jones & Jools Holland

It was a star of the jazz scene who played one of the great sax solos in 1970s pop. Phil Woods had already been an established figure in jazz since the 1950s, as a sideman to some of the biggest names ijn the genre (including the likes of Gillespie and Monk) as well as in his own right. In the 1950s he was seen as a successor to Charlie Parker, whose widow he later married. In the 1970s Woods began to guest on soul and pop songs, backing acts such as Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow and his old collaborator Quincy Jones on the Sanford & Son theme. But his most famous bit of playing is that marvellous sax solo on Billy Joel”s Just The Way You Are in 1977. He also played on Steely Dan”s Doctor Wu, on which fellow sax man Wilton Felder played the bass. So two session musicians on the same song died within a couple of days of one another”¦


Boomer Castleman, 70, singer-songwriter, guitarist, inventor of the palm pedal, on Sep. 1
Boomer Castleman – Judy Mae (1975)

Brianna Lea Pruett, 32, singer and songwriter, suicide on Sep. 2
Brianna Lea Pruett – Shine For You (2014)

Don Griffin, 60, guitarist of The Miracles (1974-78), in traffic accident on Sep. 3
The Miracles – Love Machine (Part 1) (1975)
Anita Baker – Been So Long (1986, on guitar)

Rico Rodriguez, 80, Cuban-born trombonist of British ska band The Specials, on Sep. 4
Rico Rodriguez – Ska Wars (1977)
Specials – A Message To You Rudy (1979)
Godley & Creme – Englishmen In New York (1981)

Graham Brazier, 63, singer of New Zealand group Hello Sailor, on Sep. 4
Hello Sailor – Blue Lady (1977)

Hal Willis, 82, Canadian country singer, on Sep. 4
Hal Willis – My Pink Cadillac (1956)

Frederick “˜Denny” Greene, 66, singer with Sha-Na-Na, on Sep. 5
Sha Na Na – Tears On My Pillow (1978)

Guillermo Rubalcaba, 88, Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer, on Sep. 7

Augusta Lee Collins, 69, blues musician, in traffic accident on Sep. 7

Bryn Merrick, 56, bassist of British punk band The Damned (1983-88), on Sep. 12
The Damned – Grimly Fiendish (1985)

Gary Richrath, 65, guitarist and songwriter with REO Speedwagon, on Sep. 13
REO Speedwagon – Only The Strong Survive (1979)

Martin Kearns, 38, drummer of British death metal group Bolt Thrower, on Sep. 14

Peggy “˜Lady Bo” Jones, 75, American guitarist, on Sep. 16
Bo Diddley – Hey! Bo Diddley (1957, on rhythm guitar and backing vocals)
Eric Burdon & The Animals – San Franciscan Nights (1967, on percussions)

Guy Béart, 85, French singer-songwriter, on Sep. 16
Guy Béart ““ L”eau vive (1958)

Daniel Kyre, 21, member of Internet music-comedy phenomenon Cyndago, suicide on Sep. 18

Ben Cauley, 67, trumpet player and singer with The Bar-Kays, on Sep. 21
The Bar-Kays – Soul Finger (1967)
Doobie Brothers – Here To Love You (1978)

Victor Démé, 53, Burkinabé singer-songwriter, on Sep. 21
Victor Démé – Djôn”maya (2008)

Ray Warleigh, 76, Australian-born saxophonist and flautist, on Sep. 21
Nick Drake – At The Chime Of A City Clock (1970, on alto sax)

Jamie “˜Brooklyn” Prefontaine, 30, member of Canadian hip-hop group Winnipeg”s Most, on Sep. 22

Wilton Felder, 75, saxophonist of The Crusaders and session bass player, on Sep. 27
The Crusaders – So Far Away (live, 1974)
Steely Dan – Doctor Wu (1975, on bass; Phil Woods on sax)
Wilton Felder feat. Bobby Womack – (No Matter How High I Get) I”ll Still Be Looking Up To You (1984)

Denise Lor, 86, singer and actress, on Sep. 27
Denise Lor – If I Give My Heart To You (1954)

Frankie Ford, 76, pop singer, on Sep. 28
Frankie Ford – Sea Cruise (1959)

Phil Woods, 83, jazz and session saxophonist and clarinetist, on Sep. 29
Phil Woods – How”s Your Mama (1991)
Billy Joel – Just The Way You Are (1977)

(PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    October 2nd, 2015 at 07:27 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. dogbreath
    October 2nd, 2015 at 11:42 | #2

    Two great sax players gone in September but at least the music lives on. Thanks for putting the list together for us. Cheers!

  3. GarthJeff
    October 2nd, 2015 at 14:30 | #3

    ‘STOP!’…. I had never heard that live version of So Far Away. Thanks again for all your efforts in not only educating us, but also all this fabulous MUSIC. It’s always smile time when I open your home page AMD.

  4. Rhod
    October 2nd, 2015 at 22:51 | #4

    Thank Amd

    Appreciate the work and the great site.



  5. Clarence Jones
    October 6th, 2015 at 01:25 | #5

    I didn’t realize we lost Frankie Ford, Sea Cruise is one of the near-perfect imperfectly recorded songs ever! Thx for remembering him & all we lost last month.

  6. October 20th, 2015 at 11:48 | #6

    Hey Halfhearted, just wanted to let you know I always love these extensive writings of yours! A real labour of love, this. I appreciate it!
    keep up the good work!

  7. halfhearteddude
    October 20th, 2015 at 23:52 | #7

    Thank you, Koop.

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