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In Memoriam – March 2018

So far, 2018 has been fairly gentle on us, as if to make up for the massacres of the past two years. March saw no superstar deaths, but especially the world of hip hop suffered losses “” including one of the least likely collaborator the genre has seen yet.

The Guitar Pioneer

The sound of The Ventures is the sound of instrumental surf rock, and the guitar of Nokie Edwards gave it its character. Edwards, who had previously backed country legend Buck Owens, stayed with The Ventures until 1968, and rejoined the band periodically thereafter. Many guitar greats credit The Ventures, especially the classic Walk Don”t Run (first a hit in 1960 and again, in a new recording, 1964), with influencing them. The Ventures did a lot of guitar covers of hits; they appear in the Song Swarm series remarkably often (Blue Moon, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Sunny, These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer).

Classic in his room

Not many people can claim that a classic album was recorded in their living room, but so it was with Matt Dike, who hosted The Beastie Boys as they recorded almost all of their Paul Boutique album in his apartment. As a member of The Dust Brothers, Dike received a production credit for the album. By then Dike was the co-owner of Delicious Vinyl which released such hip hop classics as Young MC”s Bust A Move and Tone Loc”s Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina (all of which he co-wrote and co-produced). He was also a prolific remixer.

‘Hello, how’s the flow’

In a few weeks I”ll be posting a mix of good Eurovision Song Contest numbers. Lys Assia“s Das Alte Karussell, the inaugural winner from 1956), will not be among them. Assia, who had been recording prolifically since 1942, followed her triumph with a string of hits in West Germany, but her love clearly was Eurovision. She also competed in 1957 and “58, and tried to make a comeback more than half a century later. In 2012 she failed in the national contest to qualify as Switzerland”s entry for Eurovision. She tried again a year later, at the age of 88, with a song titled All In Your Head, featuring the hip-hop band New Jack (“Hello, how”s the flow”, Assia inquires). Outrageously, she failed again to qualify. First the Nazi gold, then that. Shame on you, Switzerland!

Guardian of a heritage

Palestinian singer Rim Banna, who has died of breast cancer, devoted herself to preserving Palestinian folk and children”s songs as well as poetry that were on the verge of being lost, putting a modern, Western pop-influenced spin on those melodies. Banna, an Arab Israeli citizen, was also a political activist, supporting the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and in Gaza. In 2003 she gained popularity in Europe as a result of her duets with Norwegian singer Kari Bremnes, and participation in an anti-war album directed at the warmonger George W Bush, titled Lullabies from The Axis Of Evil, which also featured female singers from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Cuba.

Cellist to the stars

Jazz cellist and double-bassist Buell Neidlinger was once regarded as a child prodigy. As an adult he was a prolific collaborator with jazz musicians but rarely the headliner. He also picked up session credits for acts like Lionel Richie (including on Wandering Stranger, alongside Ndugu Chancler, who died last month), Neil Diamond, Earth Wind & Fire, Nina Simone, Yvonne Elliman, The Miracles, Kenny Rogers, Leo Kottke, Diane Schuur, Ry Cooder, Mike Bloomfield, Duane Eddy, Van Dyke Parks, Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Cole, Bob Seger, Pops Staples, Frank Sinatra (on Duets) and many others. Apparently he also played on the Eagles” Hotel California and on Tony Bennett”s I Left My Heart In San Francisco sessions.

The phrase-coiner

Even casual listeners to country will have heard the term Outlaw Country, to describe a sub-genre dominated by artists like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. The term was coined by Hazel Smith, who was chiefly a country music journalists and publicist. Smith also wrote a number of songs, including several for Dr Hook. They”ve been recorded by acts as diverse as Tammy Wynette and Nana Mouskouri.

The cover designer

Album cover designer and photographer Gary Burden is considered a pioneer of conceptual cover art in rock music. His clientele initially comprised the Laurel Canyon types around Cass Elliott and David Crosby. Among the iconic covers he designed were The Mamas and The Papas”The Papas & The Mamas, Crosby, Stills & Nash”s eponymous debut and (with Young) Déjà Vu (and virtually all of their covers), Neil Young”s After The Goldrush (and many of his covers thereafter), Joni Mitchell”s Blue, Albert Hammond”s It Never Rains In Southern California, Jackson Browne”s self-titled album and The Pretender, the Eagles”eponymous debut and Desperado, On The Border, One Of These Nights“¦ In the 2000s he designed album covers for the likes of Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket and Devendra Banhart. His last published cover design for an album of new recordings was Conor Oberst”s Salutations in March last year (bottom right on the collage below).


Bill Burkette, 75, lead singer with pop band The Vogues, on March 1
The Vogues – It’s Getting Better (1968)

Bender, 37, Canadian rapper, on March 1

Van McLain, 62, lead singer and guitarist with rock band Shooting Star, on March 2
Shooting Star – Touch Me Tonight (1989)

Ronnie Prophet, 80, Canadian country singer, on March 2

Brandon Jenkins, 48, country/Red Dirt singer-songwriter, on March 2
Brandon Jenkins – Saturday Night (2006)

Joseph Israel, 40, US reggae musician, on March 2

Patrick Doyle, 32, drummer of Scottish indie band Veronica Falls, on March 3
Veronica Falls – Found Love In A Graveyard (2010)

Ulla Norden, 77, German Schlager singer and radio presenter, on March 5

Jeff St John, 71, Australian pop singer, on March 5
Jeff St. John – Teach Me How To Fly (1970)

Donna Butterworth, 62, child actress and singer, on March 6

Jerzy Milian, 82, Polish jazz vibraphonist, on March 7

Gary Burden, 84, album cover designer, on March 9
David Crosby – Music Is Love (1971, as “performer”; cover designer)

Maggie Stedder, 81, English backing singer, on March 9
Dusty Springfield – Bring Him Back (1967)

Ken Dodd, 90, comedian and singer, on March 11
Ken Dodd – Tears (1965)

Nokie Edwards, 82, lead guitarist with The Ventures, on March 12
The Ventures – Walk Don’t Run (1960)
The Ventures – Ghost Riders In The Sky (1961)

Craig Mack, 47, rapper, on March 12
Craig Mack – Flava In Ya Ear (1994)

Matt Dike, 55, hip hop producer, writer, mixer, label executive, on March 13
Tone-Loc – Funky Cold Medina (1989, as co-writer, co-producer)
The Beastie Boys – Shake Your Rump (1989, as co-producer)
Richard Cheese – Bust A Move (2006, as co-writer)

Charlie Quintana, 56, drummer of Latino punk band The Plugz, on March 13
The Plugz – Satisfied Die (1979)

Olly Wilson, 80, jazz musician and composer, on March 13

Claudia Fontaine, 57, singer with English soul trio Afrodiziak, on March 13
Jam – Beat Surrender (1982, as backing singer)
Special A.K.A. – Free Nelson Mandela (1984, as backing singer)

Jimmy Wisner, 86, pianist, arranger, songwriter, and producer, on March 13
Kokomo – Asia Minor (1961, Kokomo was his pseudonym)
The Searchers – Don’t Throw Your Love Away (1964, as writer)

Allah Real, 62, soul singer, on March 14
RZA – Grits (2003, on lead vocals)

Steve Mandell, bluegrass guitarist, on March 14
Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell – Dueling Banjos (1972)

Enrico Ciacci, 75, Italian guitarist and bandleader, on March 14

Laurence Cleary, 60, guitarist of Irish new wave band The Blades, on March 16
The Blades – Hot For You (1980)

Hazel Smith, 83, country songwriter, journalist and publicist, on March 16
Dr. Hook – Making Love And Music (1976, as writer)

Buell Neidlinger, 82, jazz and session cellist and bassist, on March 16
Pops Staples – Down In Mississippi (1992, on bass)
Buell Neidlinger – The Gig (1995)

Thom Moore, 74, folk-rock singer and songwriter, on March 17
Mary Black – Carolína Rua (The Crooked Road) (1988, as writer)

Killjoy, 48, singer of death metal band Necrophagia, on March 18

Peter Cowling, 72, British blues-rock bassist, on March 20
Pat Travers – Stop And Smile (1976, on bass)

Paul Cram, 65, Canadian jazz musician, on March 20

Shawn Elliott, singer of hardcore rock band Capitalist Casualties, on March 22

CK Mann, 82, Ghanaian singer, on March 22

Kooster McAllister, 67, live engineer, co-owner of Record Plant mobile studio, on March 23
Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire (live) (1985, as engineer)

Rim Banna, 51, Palestinian singer, composer and activist, on March 24
Rim Banna – Supply Me With An Excess Of Love (2013)

Lys Assia, 94, Swiss singer, inaugural Eurovision Song Contest winner, on March 24
Lys Assia – Das Alte Karussell (1956)
Lys Assia feat. New Jack – All In Your Head (2012)

Mike Harrison, 72, singer of British rock group Spooky Tooth, on March 25
Spooky Tooth – That Was Only Yesterday (1969)

Seo Min-woo, 33, singer with South Korean boy band 100%, on March 25

Jerry Williams, 75, Swedish pop singer, on March 25
Jerry Williams – Keep On (1969)

Cameron Paul, pioneer remixer, on March 26
Salt-N-Pepa – Push It (Mixx-it Remix) (1986, as remixer)

Kenny O’Dell, 73, country singer-songwriter, on March 27
Charlie Rich – Behind Closed Doors (1973, as writer)
The Judds – Mama He’s Crazy (1984, as writer)

Caleb Scofield, 38, bassist and singer of metal band Cave In, in car crash on March 28

Alias, 41, rapper, producer and record label founder, on March 30
Alias – Final Act (2002)

Frode Viken, 63, guitarist and songwriter of Norwegian pop band D.D.E., on March 31

(PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    April 5th, 2018 at 07:24 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. dogbreath
    April 5th, 2018 at 12:29 | #2

    As you say, no “superstar” deaths in March & most are unknown by me, the standout for me being Ken Dodd. As a Brit of a certain age “Doddy” is the funniest comedian I’ve ever seen. He had a terrific singing voice too, as witnessed by his two biggest UK chart hits “Happiness” and, conversely, “Tears” – the latter (more appropriate in the circumstances) selected by you above. Many thanks for another fine compilation job. Cheers!

  3. Rhodb
    April 6th, 2018 at 22:53 | #3

    Hi Amd

    Always appreciate the effort you put into each ” In memoriam”



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