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In Memoriam – February 2022

February was mercifully easier than the first month of the year. Still we lost a few legends, including Howard Grimes, the drummer on all those great Al Green records of the 1970s. And a singer for whom Grimes drummed during that time also died in February, just a week after the singer’s musician brother passed away.

The Rock Bach
Whatever skipping the light fandango in the song A White Shade Of Pale is, Gary Brooker’s vocals of that song contribute to one of the highpoint of rock music in the 1960s — even if the song is dominated by Mathew Fisher’s organ. Brooker wrote the melody for the song, including the Bach-influenced intro (though the authorship has been a tale of protracted litigation, which eventually gave Fisher co-writing credit) and also played the piano on that and on many other Procol Harum songs.

Before becoming a rock legend with Procol Harum, Brooker in 1962 co-founded the The Paramounts with future Harum guitarist Robin Trower. That band was highly-rated by its peers in the London R&B scene, especially The Rolling Stones, who were big fans (five days after Brooker, another alumnus of that scene died in Don Craine, singer and guitarist of the Downliners Sect). But while alumni of that scene like the Stones, Animals and Yardbirds broke big, The Paramounts had a solitary chart hit, the debut single Poison Ivy, which reached UK #35 in 1964.

With Procol Harum, Brooker had more success, but more as an albums than a singles act; other than White Shade, the only UK Top 10 hit was Homburg.

The Cult Funkster
Soul and funk singer Betty Davis should have been a big star, but her refusal to dial down her sexuality, in her act and music, meant that she was denied TV and radio exposure. She certainly had the right connections. As the model Betty Mabry, she did music more on the side than as her main career in the 1960s, when she was close friends with Sly Stone and, especially, Jimi Hendrix. She was in a relationship with Hugh Masekela before she married Miles Davis — whose surname Betty would retain after she and Miles divorced (according to her, due to his violent temper). She also wrote music for others, including the much-covered Uptown by The Chamber Brothers.

In the 1970s Betty recorded with funk legends such as Larry Graham, Greg Errico and some members of Tower of Power, producing her own music. With the broadcast boycott in the US, she never broke through commercially, but with her explosive live act, she established a fiercely loyal cult following.

The Grunger
He started out in Seattle’s grunge scene, and never really left that scene, but Mark Lanegan, who has died at only 57, was also happy to branch out into unexpected directions. In grunge, he was a member of Screaming Trees (initially as a drummer, but he was so bad at that, by how own admission, that they made him the singer), and recorded an unreleased album of Leadbelly songs with Kurt Cobain. From 2000-05, he was a member of Queens of the Stone Age, working with them even after he officially left the band.

While still with the Screaming Trees, Lanegan began releasing a number of solo records. Later efforts attracted prominent guest musicians, such as PJ Harvey and Guns N Roses’ Duff McKagan, and alumni from bands like Soundgarden, Ween, and Afghan Wigs. Between 2004 and 2011, he teamed up for three albums with Isobel Campbell, former singer of Scottish Indie band Belle & Sebastian, and collaborated with English electronica duo Soulsavers. Meanwhile he founded The Gutter Twins with Afghan Wigs frontman Gregg Dulli. And for the soundtrack of the 2012 film Lawless, Lanegan teamed up with the Nick Cave’s bluegrass-punk project The Bootleggers, contributing vocals to three tracks.

With Josh Homme of the Queens of the Stone Age, Lanegan co-wrote the theme song for his friend Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series Parts Unknown. He appeared on the Seattle episode of that fine series.

The Soul Legend
Only six days after his blues guitarist brother Jimmie left us (listed in In Memoriam – January 2022), soul legend Syl Johnson died at 85. Johnson made perhaps his biggest mark as a deep soul singer on Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records, scoring a hit with labelmate Al Green’s Take Me To The River. But he made a name for himself before signing for Hi in 1971. In the late 1960s, he recorded tracks like Come On Sock It To Me, the much-sampled Different Strokes, Is It Because I’m Black? (which featured on Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3, and I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Freedom (on Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 1).

Before he was a soul singer, Johnson was a feature on the Chicago blues scene in the 1950s and early ’60s, playing with acts like Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Freddie King. He’d return to blues music later in his career, which at one point he halted to open a chain of seafood restaurants. In the 1990s he returned to music, prompted by the liberal sampling of his music by hip hop acts. His last album appeared in 2013, some 11 years after he put out an album with his brother Jimmie.

The Pop Pioneer
You would have thought that the death of a woman pioneer who broke barriers would have been announced in good time, with due obits. The death at 87 of Beverly Ross on January 15 went unreported for a full month. Yet, at one point, as a woman songwriter Ross was matched only by Carole King. And before Carole had even hit puberty, Ross already helped invent rock & roll when Bill Haley & The Comets had a 1954 hit with Dim, Dim The Lights, a song she had co-written with the black songwriter Julius Dixson. Apart from racially mixed songwriting teams being pretty groundbreaking, the record turned further sod by becoming the first rock & roll record by a white act to cross over into the R&B charts. Alan Freed called it the “grand daddy song of rock & roll”.

With Dixson, Ross co-wrote the ’50s anthem Lollipop, which she also was the first to record, with black teenager Ronald Gumps, as Ronald & Ruby. The single did well, rising to #20 on the pop charts — until it emerged that this was a racially-mixed act, so TV stations cancelled bookings and some radio stations dropped the song. Lollipop went on to become a mega-hit for a The Chordettes (see Any Major Originals – 1950s).

Ross was the “queen bee” of Brill Building by the late 1950s, working in particular with Jeff Barry. She also worked with Phil Spector, with whom she had a very close relationship — until Spector stole, according to Ross, her riff for what would become the Ben E. King hit Spanish Harlem. The future murderer’s treachery — which seems to have sparked a decline in Ross’ mental health, culminating in her leaving the industry in the mid-1960s — was noted in the title of Ross’ memoirs: I Was the First Woman Phil Spector Killed.

The Founder
English multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald helped create founded two very different rock legend groups. First, he was a co-founder of King Crimson, with whom he played on the classic 1969 debut album In the Court of the Crimson King, contributing with the mellotron, keyboards and woodwinds. On track 2, I Talk To The Wind, which McDonald co-wrote, he took the lead vocals and played flute, clarinet and the organ. After leaving the prog-rockers, McDonald jobbed as a session musician, also appearing on various King Crimson tracks over the years; one of those gigs was to play the sax on T. Rex’s Get It On.

Having moved to New York in the mid-1970s, McDonald co-founded hard rock band Foreigner, appearing on various instruments — from guitar to sax to keyboards — on their first three albums, contributing to hits such as Hot Blooded, Cold As Ice, Feels Like the First Time, and Long Long Way From Home (which he co-wrote). He also co-produced many of their songs.

In 1980 he left Foreigner. He later collaborated with Genesis alumnus Steve Hacket, reunited with King Crimson members, and returned to working with folk singer Judy Dyble.

The Hi Drummer
A week after Syl Johnson left us, the drummer on many of his records followed him to the great soul band in the sky. Howard Grimes was the drummer of Hi Records’ session band, and as such played on many of those great records by Al Green, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright and so on (Al Jackson played on others until his death in 1975). The Hi rhythm section of Grimes and Leroy Hodges was one of the best of the many great ones in 1970s soul. Before Hi, Grimes played on Stax and Atlantic records.

The America Drummer
He never was an officially credited member of the folk-rock trio America, but Willie Leacox, who has died at 74, played on all their material and on stage from 1973 to 2014. That means he took no part in the unfairly reviled Horse With No Name. Before Leacox, the great Hal Blaine did stick duty on most America recordings up to 1973’s Hat Trick album. We hear Leacox playing on America hits such as Sister Golden Hair, Lonely People, Tin Man, Daisy Jane, Today’s The Day, You Can Do Magic and The Border.

The Hot Lips
We knew actress Sally Kellerman from films such as M*A*S*H, but less well-known was her brief forays into the world of recorded music. She did record a song, Rock-a-Bye Baby, for the soundtrack of Brewster McCloud, and occasional sang in films, and when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 1981. But she also released two full albums: Roll With The Feelin’ in 1972 and Sally in 2009 (featuring a version of Aerosmith’s Don’t Want To Miss A Thing). I don’t know what the 2009 effort was like, but Roll With The Feelin’ is a pretty good R&B-influenced folk-rock type album. There was also a 1973 single of The Byrds’ Triad, arranged and co-roduced by a still unknown Barry Manilow.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking but inspiring story this month is that of singer-songwriter Nightbirde, or Jane Marczewski, who died of cancer at the age of 31. Despite her illness, Nightbirde competed in the 2021 season of America’s Got Talent show, after having been told that her cancer of the lungs, spine and liver, having recurred for a third time, would kill her. At the audition, she told the panel: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” She reached the contest’s quarterfinals, in which she couldn’t compete due to her declining health.

The talent show was not the beginning of her career, though. Under her real name, she had released a few EPs between 2012 and 2015, and then as Nightbirde (a name inspired by a dream) the song It’s OK. That track was written after her second cancer diagnosis in 2020. A live version of it went on to top the iTunes charts.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.


Beverley Ross, 87, singer and songwriter, on Jan. 15
Bill Haley & His Comets – Dim, Dim The Lights (1954, as co-writer)
Ronald & Ruby – Lollipop (1958, as co-writer and as Ruby)
Roy Orbison – Candy Man (1961, as co-writer)

Willie Leacox, 74, drummer with folk-rock group America (1973–2014), on Feb. 1
America – Tin Man (1974, on drums)
America – Sister Golden Hair (1975, on drums)
America – You Can Do Magic (1982, on drums)

Glenn Wheatley, 74, bassist of Australian rock band Masters Apprentices, manager, on Feb. 1
The Masters Apprentices – Undecided (1966)

Hiroshima, drummer of Japanese metal group G.I.S.M., on Feb. 1

Joe Diorio, 85, jazz guitarist, on Feb. 2
Joe Dioro – Windows (1975)

Endo Anaconda, 66, Swiss singer-songwriter, on Feb. 2

Donny Gerrard, 75, Canadian singer, on Feb 3
Skylark – Wildflower (1972, as member on lead vocals)

Mickey Bass, 78, jazz bassist, composer and arranger, on Feb. 3

Kerry Chater, 76, Canadian songwriter, member of Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, on Feb. 4
Gary Puckett & The Union Gap – Lady Willpower (1968)
Lee Greenwood – I.O.U. (1983)

Syl Johnson, 85, soul and blues singer, on Feb. 5
Syl Johnson – Different Strokes (1968)
Syl Johnson – I Want To Satisfy Your Every Need (1972, with Howard Grimes on drums)
Syl & Jimmy Johnson – Two Johnsons Are Better Than One (2002)

Bruce Greig, 54, death metal guitarist, on Feb. 6

Zbigniew Namysłowski, 82, Polish jazz musician and composer, on Feb. 7

Betty Davis, 77, funk and soul singer, on Feb. 7
Betty Mabry – Get Ready For Betty (1964)
The Chambers Brothers – Uptown (1967, as writer)
Betty Davis – Anti Love Song (1973)
Betty Davis – Your Mama Wants Ya Back (1974)

Ian McDonald, 75, co-founder of King Crimson (1968-69), Foreigner (1976-80), on Feb. 9
King Crimson – I Talk To The Wind (1969, on lead vocals, flute, keyboards, as co-writer)
T. Rex – Get It On (1971, on saxophone)
Foreigner – Cold As Ice (1977)

Brian Dunning, 70, Irish ambient and folk flautist and composer, on Feb. 10

Owen Moran, 62, bassist of English new wave band Cook da Books, announced Feb. 10
Cook Da Books – Piggie In The Middle Eight (1982)

Steve Salas, 69, lead singer of Chicano R&B band Tierra, on Feb. 10
Tierra – Some Kind Of Woman (1975, also as writer)

Roman Kostrzewski, 61, member of Polish heavy metal band Kat, on Feb. 10

Mike Rabon, 78, lead guitarist of pop group The Five Americans, on Feb. 11
The Five Americans – Western Union (1967, also as co-writer)

Howard Grimes, 80, soul drummer with the Hi Rhythm Section, on Feb. 12
William Bell –  You Don’t Miss Your Water (1961, on drums)
Al Green – So Your Leaving (1972, on drums)
Ann Peebles – A Love Vibration (1974, on drums)

Miguel Vicens Danus, 78, bassist of Spanish pop group Los Bravos, on Feb. 12
Los Bravos – Black Is Black (1966)

King Louie Bankston, 49, rock musician, on Feb. 13

Clifton ‘Fou Fou’ Eddie, 78, soul and jazz drummer, on Feb. 13
The Dells – Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation (1973, on drums)

Roger Segal, 49, bassist with trash metal band Trashlight Vision, on Feb. 14

Sandy Nelson, 83, pop drummer, on Feb. 14
Sandy Nelson – Let There Be Drums (1961, also as co-writer)

Ralf Bursy, 66, (East-)German rock singer and producer, on Feb. 14

José Enrique ‘Chelique’ Sarabia, 81, Venezuelan musician and songwriter, on Feb. 15
Rosa Virginia Chacín, Miguelito Rodríguez & José Enrique Sarabia – Ansiedad (1959, as writer)

Vivi l’internationale, 75, Beninese singer, on Feb. 15

Bob Demeo, 66, jazz drummer, announced on Feb. 16
Sedition Ensemble – Regeneration Report (1981, on drums)

Ramón Stagnaro, 67, Peruvian guitarist, on Feb. 16
Randy Crawford – Don’t Say It’s Over (1993, on acoustic guitar)

David Tyson, 62, singer with The Manhattans (1993-2021), on Feb. 17

Dallas Good, 48, singer, guitarist with Canadian rock/country band The Sadies, on Feb. 17
The Sadies – Stop And Start (2022)

Marc Hamilton, 78, Canadian singer, on Feb. 17
Marc Hamilton – Comme j’ai toujours envie d’aimer (1970)

Fausto Cigliano, 85, Italian singer, guitarist and actor, on Feb. 17
Fausto Cigliano – Che me ’mparato a fa’ (1956)

Chris Scicluna, 62, half of Maltese pop duo Chris & Moira, on Feb. 18

Scotty Wray, guitarist of country group The Wrays, on Feb. 18
The Wrays – You Lay A Lotta Love On Me (1987)

Derek Hussey, c.64, singer of English band The Blockheads (since 2020), on Feb. 18

Gary Brooker, 76, singer, songwriter and pianist of Procol Harum, on Feb. 19
The Paramounts – I’m The One Who Loves You (1964)
Procol Harum – Salty Dog (1969, also as co-writer)
Procol Harum – Pandora’s Box (1975)
Gary Brooker – Old Manhattan Melodies (1979)

Charles Gatt, 77, Maltese jazz musician, founder of the Malta Jazz Festival, on Feb. 19

Nightbirde/Jane Marczewski, 31, singer-songwriter, on Feb. 19
Nightbirde – It’s OK (2020)

Joni James, 91, pop singer, on Feb. 20
Joni James – Why Don’t You Believe Me (1952)

Sam Henry, 65, drummer of punk band Wipers, on Feb. 20
Wipers – Better Off Dead (1978)

Jamal Edwards, 31, DJ and founder of UK hip hop music platform SBTV, on Feb. 20

Sami ‘Sammy’ Clark, 73, Lebanese singer, on Feb. 20

Ernie Andrews, 94, jazz and R&B singer, on Feb. 21
Ernie Andrews – Soothe Me (1945)
Ernie Andrews – Where Were You (When I Needed You) (1965)

Mark Lanegan, 57, rock singer-songwriter, on Feb. 22
Mark Lanegan – I’ll Take Care Of You (1999)
Queens of the Stone Age – God Is In The Radio (2002, as member on lead vocals)
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Honey Child What Can I Do (2006)
The Bootleggers feat. Mark Lanegan –  Fire And Brimstone (2012, on lead vocals)

Muvaffak ‘Maffy’ Falay, 92, Turkish jazz trumpeter, on Feb. 22

Riky Rick, 34, South African rapper, by suicide on Feb. 23

Sally Kellerman, 84, actress and occasional singer, on Feb. 24
Sally Kellerman – Roll With The Feelin’ (1972)
Sally Kellerman – Triad (1973)

Don Craine, 76, singer, guitarist of English blues-rock band Downliners Sect, on Feb. 24
Downliners Sect – Find Out What’s Happening (1964)

MC Skibadee, 47, British drum & bass MC and musician, on Feb. 25

Nicky Tesco, 66, singer and lyricist of English punk band The Members, on Feb. 25
The Members – The Sound Of The Suburbs (1979)

Snootie Wild, 36, rapper, shot on Feb. 26

Rachel Morris, lead singer of British indie band Hopper, announced on Feb. 28
Hopper – Ridiculous Day (1996)


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  1. amdwhah
    March 3rd, 2022 at 09:45 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. J. Loslo
    March 5th, 2022 at 19:12 | #2


  3. Rhodb
    March 5th, 2022 at 21:39 | #3

    Thanks Amd Glen Wheatley was a surprise passing a stalwart of Australian music


  4. arthdog
    March 29th, 2022 at 22:03 | #4

    Late to the party for February’s In Memoriam but many thanks for compiling the list. Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade will always evoke memories of that glorious summer so long ago. Good to see some recognition for the criminally overlooked Ian MacDonald whose contributions to King Crimson and Foreigner deserve wider attention.

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