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Music Deaths of the Decade: Performers

December 10th, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

As the 2010s draw to a close, I have made a shortlist of musicians whose death during the decade made me particularly sad, from a musical legacy and human point of view (there were many tragic deaths, of course. Suicides, murders, accidents, tsunamis and so on).

With the In Memoriam series I’ve kept a pretty close eye on music deaths every month for the past ten years (and no year was more horrible than 2016, the year in which the devil took Prince and Bowie and gave us President Trump). So my idea was to make a couple of mixes honouring the musicians whose passing I was particularly saddened about. The list became too long. I decided to do one mix of 30 tracks for recording artists, and another mix of 30 to honour the behind-the-scenes people (producers, songwriters, session players etc), which will run later.

Of course, tribute was paid to all of them at the time of their death, and to some by way of special mixes: cover mixes for Leonard Cohen, Chuck Berry and Walter Becker of Steely Dan, a mix of Aretha Franklin singing covers, a mix of songs Prince said he would play as a DJ.

But before I launch into the mix, it is only right to give a shout-out to those who remained on the list even after I cut the featured artists and those artists I put on the list because I felt I had to. We are left with: Teddy Pendergrass, Tony Schilder, Sandra Wright, Solomon Burke, Alex Chilton (all 2010), Gary Moore, Nate Dogg, Loleatta Holloway, Gene McDaniels (2011); Etta James (who’ll feature on the second mix), Davy Jones, Doc Watson, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Lillian Lopez of Odyssey, Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, Kitty Wells, Terry Callier, Major Harris (2012), Kevin Ayers, Donald Byrd, Marvin Junior, Trevor Bolder, Clarence Burke Jr, Darondo, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, JJ Cale, Tompall Glaser, George Duke, Lou Reed (2013), Pete Seeger, Ronny Jordan, Horace Silver, Idris Muhammad, Jimmy Ruffin, Udo Jürgens (2014), Don Covay, André Crouch, Little Jimmy Dickens, Steve Strange, Joe B. Mauldin, Erroll Brown, Louis Johnson (who’ll feature in the second mix), BB King, Billy Joe Royal, William Guest of The Pips (2015), Glenn Frey, Black, Papa Wemba, Guy Clarke, Bernie Worrell, Ralph Stanley, Kashif, Jean Shepard, Mandoza, Toots Thielemans, Colonel Abrams, Bap Kennedy, Leon Russell, Rick Parfitt (2016), Leon Ware, David Axelrod, Joni Sledge, Valerie Carter, Clyde Stubblefield, Cuba Gooding, Daliah Lavi, Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks, Bob Wooton (Johnny Cash’s guitarist), Bunny Sigler, Joy Fleming, Fats Domino, Don Williams, Tom Petty, Mel Tillis, David Cassidy, Malcolm Young, Della Reese, Keely Smith, Jaki Liebezeit  and Holger Czukay (2017), France Gall , Denise LaSalle, Dolores O’Riordan, Nokie Edwards, Clarence Fountain of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jabo Stark, Tony Joe White, Alan Longmuir, Nancy Wilson (2018), James Ingram, André Williams, Scott Walker, Doris Day, Dr John, Jerry Lawson, Joao Gilberto, Rik Ocasek, Jackie Moore (2019)…

The decade wiped out:
• All of the classic Motörhead line-up (Phil Taylor in November 2015, Lemmy Kilmister in December 2015, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke in January 2018)
• Two-thirds of Cream (Jack Bruce in October 2014, Ginger Baker in October 2019)
• Two-thirds of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Keith Emerson in March 2016, Greg Lake in December 2016)
• Three of The Temptations taking lead on Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (Richard Street and Damon Harris in February 2012, and Dennis Edwards in February 2018)

• In the space of two months, three-fourth of the classic Manhattans line-up (Sonny Bivins and Blue Lovett in December 2014, Kenny Kelley in February 2015).
• Most of The Valentinos/Womack Brothers (Cecil Womack in February 2013, Bobby Womack in June 2014, Curtis Womack in May 2017. Harry was shot dead in 1974; only Friendly Womack survives)
• Two-thirds of The Holmes Brothers (Popsy Dixon in February 2015, Wendell Holmes in June 2015)
• The legendary drumming team of James Brown’s The J.B.s, Clyde Stubblefield February 2017 and Jabo Stark in May 2018.

The decade also saw the accelerated passing of the German singers with whom I grew up in the 1970s. Even if I cannot commend the artistry of much the music created by them, I do have a nostalgic attachment to the memory of watching them on TV. Usually they were introduced by the presenter of the monthly ZDF Hitparade, Dieter Thomas Heck, who died in August 2018.

Other ’70s Schlager singers who died in the 2010s include Bert Berger of duo Cindy & Bert, who in some circles are now best-known for their German cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, in July 2012; Bernd Clüver in July 2011; Udo Jürgens in December 2014; Daliah Lavi in May 2017; Gunter Gabriel in May 2017; Chris Roberts in July 2017; Joy Fleming in July 2017; Jürgen Marcus in May 2018; Abi Ofarim in May 2018; Costa Cordalis in July 2019; Karel Gott in October 2019.

Finally: The prophet Gil Scott-Heron, whose incisive lyrics 40-odd years ago still have application today. The indictment of entertainment as a diversion from effecting systemic change in The Revolution Won’t Be Televised retains its currency today, even if the characters have changed in the intervening 48 years. And as Scott-Heron’s H2Ogate Blues marked the legal troubles of the corrupt Nixon regime, so does it anticipate the corruption of Donald Trump’s election five years after the singer’s death: “How much more evidence do the citizens need that the election was sabotaged by trickery and greed? And, if this is so, and who we got didn’t win… Let’s do the whole goddamn election over again!”

And so to the mix. With 30 songs, it exceeds the CD-R length; so no home-grieved covers. PW in comments.

1. Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go (1964)
Chuck Berry: March 2017

2. The Miracles – You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me (1962)
Marv Tarplin: September 2011
Warren ‘Pete’ Moore: November 2017
Bobby Rogers: March 2013
plus: Eddie ‘Chank’ Willis (Funk Brother on guitar): August 2018

3. Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
Ben E. King: April 2015

4. The Everly Brothers – Crying In The Rain (1962)
Phil Everly: January 2014

5. Glen Campbell – Galveston (1969)
Glen Campbell: August 2017

6. George Jones – From Here To The Door (1966)
George Jones: April 2013

7. Merle Haggard – Always Wanting You (1975)
Merle Haggard: April 2016

8. Richie Havens – Morning, Morning (1968)
Richie Havens: April 2013

9. Gil Scott-Heron – H2Ogate Blues (1974)
Gil Scott-Heron: May 2011

10. Grady Tate – Be Black (1968)
Grady Tate: October 2017

11. Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You (1972)
Billy Paul: April 2016

12. Bobby Womack – Harry Hippie (1972)
Bobby Womack: June 2014

13. David Bowie – Changes (1971)
David Bowie: January 2016

14. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Rosalita (live) (1975)
Clarence Clemons: June 2011

15. Steely Dan – Any Major Dude (1974)
Walter Becker: September 2017

16. Prince – Starfish And Coffee (1987)
Prince: April 2016

17. Cesária Évora – Nho Antone Escaderode (1999)
Cesária Évora: December 2011

18. Hugh Masekela – Thuma Mina (Send Me) (2006)
Hugh Masekela: January 2018

19. Crusaders – Keep That Same Old Feeling (1976)
Joe Sample (Keyboards): September 2014
Wilton Felder (Tenor sax): September 2015
Wayne Henderson (Trombone): April 2014
Robert Popwell (Bass): November 2017

20. Donna Summer – On The Radio (1979)
Donna Summer: May 2012

21. Earth, Wind & Fire – Love’s Holiday (1977)
Maurice White: February 2016

22. Natalie Cole – This Will Be (1975)
Natalie Cole: December 2015

23. Aretha Franklin – I’m In Love (1974)
Aretha Franklin: August 2018
(Written by Bobby Womack)

24. Joe Cocker – It’s A Sin When You Love Somebody (1974)
Joe Cocker: December 2014

25. George Michael – Kissing A Fool (1987)
George Michael: December 2016

26. Al Jarreau – Spain (1980)
Al Jarreau: February 2017

27. The Band – Up On Cripple Creek (live) (1978)
Levon Helm: April 2012

28. Leonard Cohen – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1967)
Leonard Cohen: November 2016

29. Georges Moustaki – Ma Liberté (1970)
Georges Moustaki: May 2013

30. Robin Gibb – Gone Gone Gone (1970)
Robin Gibb: May 2012



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  1. halfhearteddude
    December 10th, 2019 at 09:37 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Rhodb
    December 14th, 2019 at 00:56 | #2

    Thanks Amd

    A well put together share, as we have come to expect, Pity about the subject matter but these artists have left us with some absolute magical moments



  3. Pete
    January 24th, 2020 at 01:03 | #3

    Hi Dude, Thanks for a fantastic selection of tunes from just a few of the major contributors to the music world whom we sadly lost in the past decade. Add to that your well researched and thought provoking comments and you’ve presented a fine and fitting tribute.

    Cheers, Pete

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