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In Memoriam – September 2023

October 3rd, 2023 Leave a comment Go to comments

A pretty heavy month. As promised in the last instalment, this present In Memoriam completes the list for August. The most appropriate song here may be Canadian singer-songwriter Richard Laviolette’s Funeral Song. In 2010 he anticipated: “When I choose to die…” Thirteen years later he exited by assisted suicide, having suffered from Huntington’s disease.

The Parrothead-in-Chief
Some US acts just don’t travel well. One such singer is Jimmy Buffett, who was absolutely huge and indeed a cult figure in the States but not widely known outside North America. He was known mostly as a good-time music merchant — his signature song Margaritaville defined that image — but he was a very competent folk and country musician and songwriter.

His fans were dedicated, to the extent that they had a collective name: Parrotheads. A smart businessman, Buffet was said to be the world’s richest musician. His image — the Hawaii-shirted, cocktail-swilling good-time boy on a Florida yacht — gave me an impression that Buffett probably was a Republican. Not so. He was a politically engaged Democrat, and changed the lyrics to his songs to state his opposition to people like Donald Trump, at the risk of alienating conservative Parrotheads. He also was involved in a lot of disaster relief efforts.

The Dream Weaver
Another active Democrat departed the day after Buffet in Gary Wright, for whom death must have come as a release from dementia. A co-founder of Spooky Tooth, Wright had hits with the band and then on his own, especially 1976’s double whammy of Dream Weaver and Love Is Alive, both US #2 hits.

Wright also played on hits of others. He did keyboard duty on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album, Ringo Starr’s Back Off Boogaloo and It Don’t Come Easy, and on Nilsson’s mega-hit Without You.

The Marvelette
With the death of Katherine Anderson, the line-up of The Marvelettes that did songs like Don’t Mess With BiIl, Too Many Fish In The Sea, Danger! Heartbreak Dead Ahead, and I’ll Keep Holding On, are all gone now. Only one of the classic line-up of The Marvelettes up to 1963 is still alive (that’s the Please Mr Postman, Playboy, Beechwood 4-5789 era)​. Sole survivor Juanita Cowart left the group in 1963, but is still with us today.

Anderson, who never was the regular lead singer, stayed with the group until 1969. Georgeanna Gordon died in 1980, Gladys Horton in 2011, founding member Georgia Dobbins (1960-61) in 2020, and Wanda Young in 2021.

The Whistler
For some reason, I have never had much interest in the music of Roger Whittaker, who has died at 87. Maybe it’s because his folk music was so lacking in edge, or perhaps because he was so popular with the adult audiences of Germany, where he was a superstar. He had an affable charm which I (unfairly) interpreted as ingratiating, at a time when I was in rebellion against the “Spiessertum” (the square society) of Germany. Maybe I just didn’t like his maths-teacher goatee. Later, I boycotted the guy on principle, for his touring South Africa during the anti-apartheid cultural boycott.

Whittaker’s death made me revisit his legacy. He had some fine songs, but I was not wrong in finding them lacking in edge. How much better they might have been… Whittaker also recorded the original version of the Bette Midler hit Wind Beneath My Wings.

Whitakker was rightly renowned for his extraordinary whistling, which sounded more like an expertly-played flute than the aggressively out-of-tune efforts you and I might attempt as we do the washing up.

It appears that Roger was a likable sort of chap. He suffered tragedy in 1989 when his father was murdered and his mother tortured for eight hours during a house robbery in Kenya, where Roger was born. He spoke about it with pain but also with a refusal to hate, which under the circumstances testifies to a good sense of decency.

The Protest Singer
A frequent collaborator with Pete Seeger, folk singer Len Chandler may be best known for writing the ditty Beans In My Ears, a 1964 hit for The Serendipity Singers — which got banned by many radio stations as a health hazard, in case idiots or children were moved by the song to actually put beans in their ears. But most of his stuff was better than that.

The classically trained oboist left Ohio in 1957 for New York, and ended up being a fixture on the Greenwich Village folk scene. Chandler released two albums in the 1960s, but neither was a hit.

Chandler was politically active, first in the civil right movement and later in Jane Fonda’s anti-war F.T.A. tour. He also wrote for the Black Panther Party. At the March on Washington in 1963, Chandler was invited by Martin Luther King Jr to sing the traditional song Keep Your Eyes On The Prize. His backing singers that day included Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. King would also use Chandler’s Keep On Keepin’ On after making speeches.

In 1971, Chandler moved to Los Angeles where he co-founded the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase, which gave initial exposure to people like Stephen Bishop, Stevie Nicks and Karla Bonoff.

The Associate
As co-founder, co-lead singer and songwriter with The Association, Terry Kirkman had a series of US Top 10 hits between 1966 and 1968: Cherish, Never My Love, Windy, Along Comes Mary, and Everything That Touches You. The first and last in that list were written by Kirkman. He took lead or co-lead vocals on those songs as well as on Never My Love.

Before The Association, Kirkman played with a pre-Mothers Frank Zappa, and the precursor band of The Association, called Inner Tube which at one point included fellow masters of harmonising David Crosby and Cass Elliott. The Association — who, like The Mamas & The Papas and, initially, The Byrds, were backed by musicians of The Wrecking Crew — played at Monterey in 1967. The group was nominated for six Grammys, but won none.

Kirkman left The Association in 1972, rejoined later, but mostly left music to become an addiction counsellor.

The TV Star
He was best known as the Russian secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E, or maybe as medical examiner Dr Mallard in the series NCIS, but Scottish actor David McCallum was also an accomplished musician. He grew up in a family of musical professionals — his father was the leader of the London Philharmonic Orchestra — and himself received classical musical training.

McCallum recorded four albums, produced by jazz innovator David Axelrod, who also wrote some of the material, as did the actor himself. These tracks include McCallum’s best-known one, The Edge, which Dr Dre sampled for The Next Episode. McCallum played various instruments, especially the oboe, and conducted. One thing he didn’t do was to sing; where his vocals were required, he spoke. He later also contributed to various spoken-word albums.

On one occasion, McCallum did sing, and did so well. In an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., he played guitar and sang his own composition, titled Trouble, with Nancy Sinatra. See it here.

The Bass Man
The reputation of upright-bass player Richard Davis resides mostly in his contribution to jazz, but he has also been hailed for his appearances on rock albums.

In rock music, his greatest contribution was as bassist and de facto bandleader in the recording of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. Noted critic Greil Marcus wrote it was “the greatest bass ever heard on a rock album”. He also backed acts like Laura Nyro, Buffalo Springfield, The Rascals, Spanky & Our Gang, Astrud Gilberto, Melanie, Donny Hathaway, Marlena Shaw, Zulema, Garland Jeffreys, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Manchester, Janis Ian, Carly Simon, Loudon Wainwright III, Phoebe Snow, Blondie, and others.

In jazz, he played with the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Don Shirley, Roland Kirk, Elvin Jones, Gil Evans, Eric Dolphy, Carmen McRae, Hubert Laws, Maynard Ferguson, Cal Tjader, Chet Baker, Milt Jackson, Earl Hines, Shirley Scott, Jimmy McGriff, Wes Montgomery, Gabor Szabo, Oscar Peterson, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Mann, Joe Zawinul, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, George Benson, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, Walter Wanderley, Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, Louis Armstrong, Dexter Gordon, Duke Ellington, Willie Bobo, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Grover Washington Jr, Roy Ayers, Sonny Stitt, Ahmad Jamal, Stan Getz, Don Sebesky, Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Gil Evans, and others.

The Pianist
Jazz piano man Frank Owens was on his way to a playing a gig when he was involved in a traffic accident which ended his 90-year-long life. He released only two albums, one of them jazz interpretations of the Oliver! soundtrack, but he backed some big names in music, most notably Bob Dylan on tracks such as Like A Rolling Stone, Mr Tambourine Man, Maggie’s Farm, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), It’s All Over Now (Baby Blue), Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Highway 61 Revisited, and others.

Other acts he backed include Louis Armstrong, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Mathis, Astrud Gilberto, John Denver, B.B. King, Lena Horne, Ruth Brown, Marlena Shaw, Melba Moore, Dusty Springfield, Shirley Bassey, Frankie Valli, Ashford & Simpson, Johnny Nash, Connie Francis, Irene Cara, Freda Payne, Joe Bataan, Petula Clark, and many others.

He also served as David Letterman’s first bandleader.

The Real Plastic
One of my favourite songs as I turned 12 years old was Plastic Bertrand’s Ça Plane Pour Moi, a power pop song dressed up as French punk (it was intended as a parody of punk). I liked it so much, I bought the LP. The album was rubbish (though the gatefold cover was cool), but that didn’t diminish my love for the hit song. What eventually stained my happy memories was learning that Plastic Bertrand was not the vocalist. The real singer was the song’s Belgian writer and producer, Lou Deprijck, who has died at 77.

Before he Milli Vanilli-ed punk, Deprijk was part of the disco-pop trio Two Man Sound, who had hits with Charlie Brown and Disco Samba. Later he discovered and produced French-Belgian singer Viktor Lazlo, best-known for her 1987 hit Breathless.

Deprijk is the fourth bestselling Belgian ever — after Salvatore Adamo (who tops the list by a mile), Frédéric François, and Jacques Brel — with 20 million records sold, including the Plastic Bertrand LP I foolishly bought in 1978.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.

August 08, 31, R&B singer and songwriter, on Aug. 28
August 08 – Bruises (2023)

Len Chandler, 88, folk musician, on Aug. 28
The Freedom Voices with Len Chandler – Which Side Are You On (1965)
Len Chandler – Keep On Keepin’ On (1966)
Len Chandler – I Couldn’t Keep From Carin’ After All (1967)

Peter King, 84, Nigerian alto saxophonist and bandleader, on Aug. 29
Peter King – Ajo (1976)
Peter King – Sincerely (1977)

Jack Sonni, 68, guitarist with Dire Straits (1984-86), on Aug. 30
Dire Straits – The Man’s Too Strong (1985, as member on guitar synthesizer)

Curtis Fowlkes, 73, jazz trombonist and singer, on Aug. 31
The Jazz Passengers – Easy To Love (1990, as member, on vocals and trombone)

Robert Becerra, 64, guitarist of punk band Stains, on Sept. 1

Jimmy Buffett, 76, singer-songwriter, on Sept. 1
Jimmy Buffett – Come Monday (1973)
Jimmy Buffett – Margaritaville (1977)
Jimmy Buffett – If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me (1985)

Lefty SM, 31, Mexican rapper, shot on Sept. 2

Simon Pearson, 54, British indie drummer, on Sept. 3
Goya Dress – Glorious (1996, as member)

José Sébéloué, 74, singer, musician with French band La Compagnie Créole, on Sept. 3

Gary Wright, 80, singer-songwriter and musician, on Sept. 4
Spooky Tooth – Sunshine Help Me (1968, as member)
George Harrison – Isn’t It A Pity (1971, on keyboards)
Gary Wright – Dream Weaver (1975)

Tail Dragger Jones, 82, blues singer, on Sept. 4

Steve Harwell, 56, singer of rock band Smash Mouth, on Sept. 4
Smash Mouth – All Star (1999)

Teté Caturla, 85, singer with Cuban group Cuarteto d’Aida, on Sept. 4
Cuarteto d’Aida – Mulata (1992)

Joe Fagin, 83, English pop singer, on Sept. 5
Joe Fagin – Breakin’ Away (1983)

Lee Halliday, 95, rock & roll singer and producer, on Sept. 5

Bruce Guthro, 62, Canadian-born lead singer of celtic-rock band Runrig, on Sept. 5
Bruce Guthro – Walk This Road (1997, also as writer)
Runrig – Loch Lomond (live) (2007)

Richard Laviolette, 41, Canadian singer-songwriter, on Sept. 5
Richard Laviolette and The Oil Spills – Funeral Song (2010)

Tom Davies, 48, British-born bassist of rock band Nebula, on Sept. 5
Nebula – The Dagger (2009, also as co-writer)

Richard Davis, 93, jazz bassist, on Sept 6
Sarah Vaughan – The Midnight Sun Will Never Set (1959, on bass)
Van Morrison – Cypress Avenue (1968, on bass)
Jimmy McGriff – Groove Grease (1971, on bass)
Richard Davis – Warm Canto (1980)

Spencer Mbadu, 68, South African jazz bassist, on Sept. 6
Abdullah Ibrahim – Dindela (1991, on bass)

Larry Chance, 82, lead singer of doo-wop group The Earls, on Sept. 6
The Earls – Remember Then (1962)

Charles Gayle, 84, free jazz saxophonist and pianist, on Sept. 7

María Jiménez, 73, Spanish singer, on Sept. 7
María Jiménez – Vámonos (1976)

Mylon LeFevre, 78, Christian rock singer and singwriuter, on Sept. 8
Mylon LeFevre – The Warrior (1985, also as co-writer)

Charlie Robison, 59, country singer-songwriter, on Sept. 10
Charlie Robison – Photograph (2014)

Matthew Stewart, 41, trumpeter of ska band Streetlight Manifesto, on Sept. 10

Brendan Croker, 70, guitarist with English country-rock band Notting Hillbillies, on Sept. 10
The Notting Hillbillies – Your Own Sweet Way (1990)

Benito Castro, 77, Mexican musician, comedian and actor, on Sept. 11

MohBad, 27, Nigerian rapper and singer, on Sept. 12

Roger Whittaker, 87, British singer-songwriter, on Sept. 13
Roger Whittaker – Durham Town (The Leaving) (1969)
Roger Whittaker – The Last Farewell (1971)
Roger Whittaker – Wind Beneath My Wings (1982)

Fred Lewis, 72, percussionist with funk band Lakeside, on Sept. 14
Lakeside – Fantastic Voyage (1980)

Robert Tree Cody, 72, Native American musician, on Sept. 14

Paul Woseen, 56, bassist of Australian rock band Screaming Jets, on Set. 15
The Screaming Jets – Shivers (1992)

Franco Migliacci, 92, Italian lyricist, on Sept. 15
Domenico Modugno – Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare) (1958, as lyricist)

Prudence McIntyre, 78, half of singing duo Patience and Prudence, on Sept. 15
Patience and Prudence – Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now (1956)

Frank Owens, 90, jazz pianist, on Sept. 15
Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone (1965, on tack piano)
Frank Owens – As Long As He Needs Me (1969)
John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads (1971, on piano)

John Marshall, 82, English jazz rock drummer, on Sept. 16
Soft Machine – Lotus Groves (1981, as member)

Irish Grinstead, 43, singer with R&B trio 702, on Sept. 16
702 – Get It Together (1996)

Artie Cabral, 82, jazz drummer, on Sept. 17

Aníbal de Peña, 90, Dominican singer, pianist and composer, on Sept. 17
Anibal de Peña – Me voy (1967)

Wolfgang Engstfeld, 72, German jazz musician, on Sept. 17

Lou Deprijck, 77, Belgian singer-songwriter, musician, producer, on Sept. 19
Two Man Sound – Charlie Brown (1975, as member)
Two Man Band – Disco Samba (1977, as member
Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi (1978, as real singer, writer and producer)
Viktor Lazlo – Breathless (1987, as producer)

Kent Stax, drummer of punk band Scream, on Sept. 20

Norberto Machline, 80, Argentinian jazz pianist and vibraphonist, n Sept. 20

Katherine Anderson, 79, singer with The Marvelettes, on Sept. 20
The Marvelettes – Strange I Know (1962)
The Marvelettes – Too Many Fish In The Sea (1964)
The Marvelettes – When You’re Young And In Love (1968)

Olga Chorens, 99, Cuban singer and actress, on Sept. 22

Mike Henderson, 70, country singer-songwriter and musician, on Sept. 22
Mike Henderson – Prisoner’s Tears (1994)

Peter Horton, 82, Austrian singer, guitarist and composer, on Sept. 22
Peter Horton – Am Morgen, als die Vögel nicht mehr sangen (1975)

Dieter Schneider, 86, (East-)German lyricist, on Sept. 22

Alison Bentley, 65, English jazz singer, on Sept. 22
Alison Bentley – Morning Sun (2002)

Terry Kirkman, 83, singer and songwriter with The Association, on Sept. 23
The Association – Never My Love (1967, on co-lead vocals)
The Association – Everything That Touches You (1968, as writer and lead vocals)
The Association – Six Man Band (19879, as writer and on lead vocals)

Nashawn Breedlove, 46, rapper and actor (8 Mile), on Sept. 24

Barry Olivier, 87, guitar teacher, creator of the Berkeley Folk Music Festival, on Sept. 24

David McCallum, 90, Scottish actor, musician, composer and conductor, on Sept. 26
David McCallum – Communication (1966)
David McCallum – The Edge (1967)

Ernesto ‘Teto’ Ocampo, 54, Colombian guitarist and producer, on Sept. 27

Dom Famularo, 70, jazz drummer and teacher, on Sept. 28

Stephen Ackles, 57, Norwegian rock & roll singer, songwriter and pianist, on Sept. 28

Ron Howden, 78, drummer of English prog-rock band Nektar, on Sept. 29
Nektar – Do You Believe In Magic? (1973, also as co-writer)

Jon Fausty, 74, Latin music recording engineer and producer, on Sept. 29
Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco – Toro Mata (1974, as recording engineer)

Tirso Duarte, 45, Cuban musician, on Sept. 29
Tirso Duarte – Eso Que Me Pides (2004)

Russell Batiste Jr., 57, funk and jazz drummer, on Sept. 30
Vida Blue – Real Underground Soul Sound (2019, as member and writer)

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  1. amdwhah
    October 3rd, 2023 at 08:04 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Webbster
    October 3rd, 2023 at 20:32 | #2

    Discovered an old radio interview with McCallum after his passing in which he talks about a character in his novel who was raped but she didn’t mind. And the reason he left the UK – it was becoming a socialist country and didn’t like that. Also praised Tr*mp.
    A legacy very tarnished now I know this.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b070hn0y

  3. amdwhah
    October 3rd, 2023 at 23:15 | #3

    Ugh. That is disappointing.

  4. Rhodb
    October 7th, 2023 at 22:37 | #4

    Thanks Amd for the ongoing In memoriam series depressing reason but wonderful music

  5. October 9th, 2023 at 09:41 | #5

    Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged little black book, first published by Gawker in 2015, is a fascinating read. Since the mogul’s arrest on July 6 on sex trafficking charges, much has been made of his political connections—especially to the Trumps, Kennedys, Kissingers, and, of course, Bill Clinton. (Epstein pleaded not guilty.) But Epstein’s social circle was both wide and diverse; in addition to his political and financial-world connections, Epstein also had phone numbers for A-listers including Ralph Fiennes, Courtney Love, Dustin Hoffman, and Jimmy Buffett, though the latter’s name was misspelled “Buffet.”

    https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/07/jeffrey-epstein-hollywood-connections-social-circle

  6. December 21st, 2023 at 05:45 | #6

    Pour me somethin’ tall an’ strong
    Make it a Hurricane before I go insane
    It’s only half-past twelve but I don’t care….

    ….Five O’clock somewhere…still a popular country bar room song from Buffett / Jackson and immense fun.

    My Dad was a fan of Whittaker, amongst others eclectic. They could both whistle better than I could ever hope. Pre-school, I used to spend some days with him out and about at work. We were travelling home one day, singing along to familiar songs on the radio…and I suddenly sensed a strong whiff of petrol fumes in the cab. He had just lit a cigarette as I turned to him and asked if it was dangerous.
    He said, ‘hmm….need to fix that’…
    The tune we were singing along to….?
    ‘I Don’t Believe In If Any More…’

    That old clock might be movin’ slow, but I’m older by the minute…reading these reminds me of my own mortality.
    I’ll take an Old Fashioned with a cherry in a tall glass, thanks…

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