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In Memoriam – March 2024

The most remarkable non-music (or any) death in March was that of the South African painting pig Pigcasso, whose artworks have been sold for big money all over the world to finance a farm sanctuary. Pigcasso was rescued from the slaughterhouse by ex-golfer Joanne Lefson (who apparently married a dog once), and taken in at the Farm Sanctuary which she and her sister were running near Cape Town.

Lefson trained the pig to hold the brush in her mouth and apply paint to paper mounted on an easel, thereby creating colourful abstract paintings. The artworks were signed with Pigcasso nose, pressed on the canvas after being dipped into beetroot ink and transferring onto the canvas. She was the first non-human artist to have art exhibitions staged — in South Africa, Netherlands, Germany, Britain and China — and holds the record for most expensive artwork ever sold by an animal, at $20,000. In 2019 she designed a limited-edition timepiece for Swatch.

The pig’s prominence was used to stimulate debate on issues such as veganism, meat production, and animal welfare. Pigcasso died on March 6 at the age of seven of chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Alas, unlike the names that follow here, she never recorded any music.

 

The Power Balladeer
It has become something of a fashion to dismiss Eric Carmen, the singer who has died at 74, with some disdain. One may see why not all of Carmen’s oeuvre is universally appealing — I am not a devotee myself — but the guy didn’t deserve the prejudice, much less the petty derision. Much of it, I suspect, is predicated on received wisdom, a bit like the stupid suggestion that pineapple on pizza somehow constitutes an epicurean crime.

Carmen’s big hit, All By Myself, is a great power ballad, in a league with Nilsson’s Without You. It made sense that the classically-trained Carmen based All By Myself on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Follow-up Never Gonna Fall In Love Again also riffed on Rachmaninoff. Carmen’s contribution to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, Hungry Eyes, was also a cut above most 1980s movie soundtrack fare. He didn’t write the song, but Carmen did produce it.

Before going solo in 1976, Carmen had been the frontman of the power pop band Raspberries (who featured on Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1), for whom he also wrote or co-wrote most songs.

The Cockney Rebel
One of the songs chosen here to mark Eric Carmen’s passing is the Raspberries’ Overnight Sensation, which features a few stop-starts. But Steve Harley perhaps made the greatest stop-start song of them all with Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me). Credited to Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, it was a UK #1 in 1975. The song was written by Harley, and co-produced by him, with Alan Parsons. The target of the embittered lyrics were his former Cockney Rebel bandmates.

With Cockney Rebel, Harley had six UK hit singles in the mid-1970s, including the innovative Judy Teen, Mr. Soft and a cover of The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun. Prior to UK success, the band had a hit in Europe with the prog-rocker Sebastian.

Harley returned briefly to the upper reaches of the UK charts in 1986 with his duet with Sarah Brightman of the title track of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical The Phantom Of The Opera, which he, however, didn’t perform on the stage.

The Singing Oscar-winner
Various illnesses had tried to claim him for the past 30 years, but he kept surviving. But on Good Friday the  lights went out for Louis Gossett Jr, at the age of 87.

Gossett is best-known as being a remarkable actor of film, TV and stage. He provided rare spots of illumination in dreck like Iron Eagle, but he will be forever remembered for his role of Sgt Emil Foley in 1982’s An Officer And A Gentleman. He won an Oscar for that; the second ever for a male black actor.

Less known is that as Lou Gossett, he was also a singer, in the soul-folk genre which his friend Richie Havens made his own. Previously a nightclub singer, Gossett released a series of singles between 1964 and ’68, and one album, titled From Me To You, in 1970. None of them were hits. Gossett also co-wrote Richie Havens’ Handsome Johnny, one of the great anti-war songs.

The Ideas Man
In concerts, Robbie Williams likes to claim that he had written his 1999 hit She’s The One. When the song’s actual writer, Karl Wallinger, objected to this lie, Williams announced the song as his “fifth-best” composition. Wallinger took to calling Williams a “c**t”, a sentiment which doubtless would attract a sizable constituency.

She’s The One was first recorded by Welsh-born Wallinger’s band World Party (their version features on The Originals – 1990s & 2000s), which released five albums, including 1993’s very successful Bang!. World Party’s 1987 song Ship Of Fools, written by Wallinger, just about failed to reach the UK’s Top 40 but was a hit in the US.

Before that, the multi-instrumentalist was a member of The Waterboys, not only playing on their big 1985 hit The Whole Of The Moon but effectively arranging it, with those synth hooks and cymbal beats, turning a good song into a dazzling slice of genius. He left the group soon after; some argue that had Wallinger remained, The Waterboys would have enjoyed more commercial success to go with the critical acclaim.

After his death, his frequent collaborator Peter Gabriel paid tribute to Wallinger: “Karl was overflowing with wonderful musical ideas that blew us all away, all delivered with terrible jokes that had us laughing uncontrollably all day and night. He was such a gifted, natural writer and player, it was a tap that he could turn on at will, effortlessly.”

The Piano Funkster
The shimmering piano notes that open the Blackbyrds’ wonderful 1974 hit Walking In Rhythm were played by Kevin Toney, then only 20 years old. Toney also co-wrote several of the jazz-funk band’s songs, including the Blackbyrd’s own theme, as well the hits Rock Creek Park and Unfinished Business.

As a solo jazz-funk musician, his album Strut was chosen as “official music” for the Winter Olympics of 2002.

The Entertainer
He was an established star in the US, but to me Steve Lawrence was only Maury Sline, the Blues Brothers’ former manager (you may remember the scene where Elroy and Jake have a meeting with him the steam room, both wearing their hats and shades).

Later, as a blogger, my view of his career expanded to knowing that he was the original singer of Gladys Knight & The Pips’ The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (featured on The Originals – Soul Vol. 1) and I’ve Gotta Be Me from the musical Golden Rainbow, one of my all-time favourites in Sammy Davis Jr’s version (featured on The Originals – Rat Pack Edition).

Before all that, Lawrence had been a singer on Steve Allen’s show in the 1950s, and had a bunch of hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with 1962’s Go Away Little Girl the most famous of them (the song’s arranger, Marion Evans, also died this month; see below). For decades he also performed in a duo with his wife Eydie Gormé, until her retirement in 2009.

The Gaylad
Among the pioneers of reggae was the Jamaican ska band The Gaylads, whose co-founder B. B. Seaton has died at age 79. Seaton first recorded as a solo artist in 1960 before forming the duo Winston & Bibby with Winston Delano Stewart, which in turn evolved into The Gaylads. After a string of hits, Seaton left The Gaylads and embarked on a solo career. He went on to have hits, especially with covers of songs like Sweet Caroline, Lean On Me, and Thin Line Between Love and Hate.

Seaton might have had success with cover versions, but he was also a prolific songwriter, writing for acts such as Ken Boothe, The Melodians, and Delroy Wilson. In the mid-1970s Seaton moved to Britain in the mid-1970s, where he worked as a producer. He was the first reggae artist to be signed by Virgin Records. In the 2010s, he rejoined The Gaylads and performed with the group.

The Arranger
The musical career of Marion Evans, who has died at age 97, stretched back to the mid-1940s, when he played trumpet in the university band. In the late 1940s, he was one of the arrangers for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, then led by Tex Beneke. He went on to arrange for orchestras such as those of Tommy Dorsey, Vaughn Monroe, Percy Faith, and Count Basie.

From the 1950s, Evans worked as an arranger and orchestra leader for acts including Judy Garland, Diahann Carroll, Dick Haymes, Eydie Gormé, Steve Lawrence (and Gormé & Lawrence as a duo),  Jaye P. Morgan, Jack Lemmon, Perry Como, and Tony Bennett. Evans received Grammy nominations for his work on the albums Blame It On The Bossa Nova by Eydie Gormé and Go Away, Little Girl by Steve Lawrence.

Evans also composed music for 17 TV series and served as an orchestrator for eleven Broadway shows. After a stint in the financial industry in the 1970s, he returned to music in the 1980s. He worked with Tony Bennett on his Grammy-winning/nominated duo albums Duets II (2011) and Cheek To Cheek (with Lady Gaga, 2014).

The Composer
French composer Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, who has died at 82, wrote the tune for one of the great Eurovision Song Contest winners, Séverine’s Un banc, un arbre, un rue, which won the thing for Monaco in 1971 (it featured on Any Major Eurovision). It was a hit throughout Europe in various language version. Bourtayre also wrote for acts like Claude François, Jacques Dutronc, and Michel Sardou.

He also wrote for films and TV shows, including the two closing themes for the 1970s TV series Arsène Lupin, which was popular in many European countries.

The King of the Boogaloo
There are few musical genres with a better name than Boogaloo. Puerto Rico-born Pete Rodriguez was its king during his relatively brief recording career, which spanned from 1964-71. His biggest hit was 1967’s I Like It Like That, which a few years ago was liberally sampled for the big hit by Cardi B (Rodriguez’ song featured on Any Major Samples).

I Like It Like That was written by Tony Pabon and Manny Rodriguez. Pabon, a boogaloo bandleader in his own right, did the lead vocals.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.

 

Gylan Kain, 81, poet, singer and playwright, on Feb 7 (announced March 18)
Kain – Loose Here (1970)

Ernest ‘Bilbo’ Berger, 73, Czech-born drummer of British funk band Heatwave, on March 1
Heatwave – Super Soul Sister (1976)
Heatwave – Mind Blowing Decisions (1978)

Don Wise, 81, tenor saxophonist, songwriter, producer, on March 1
Don Wise – Deeper Shade Of Blue (2001)

Jim Beard, 63, jazz fusion keyboardist and composer, on March 2
Jim Beard – Big Pants (1997, also as writer, producer and vocals)

W.C. Clark, 84, blues guitarist and singer, on March 2
W.C. Clark – Let It Rain (2002)

Eleanor Collins, 104, Canadian jazz singer and TV presenter, on March 3
Eleanor Collins – Lullaby Of Birdland (1965)

Bill Ramsay, 95, jazz saxophonist and bandleader, on March 3

Brit Turner, 57, drummer of country-rock band Blackberry Smoke, on March 3
Blackberry Smoke – Pretty Little Lie (2012)

Félix Sabal Lecco, c.64, Cameroonian session drummer, on March 3
Paul Simon – Born At The Right Time (1990, on drums)

Presto, 31, German rapper, on March 3

Harris B. B. Seaton, 79, Jamaican singer (The Gaylads), songwriter, producer, on March 4
The Gaylads – It’s Hard To Confess (1968, on lead vocals and as writer)
B.B. Seaton – Accept My Apology (1972, also as co-writer)

Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, 82, French composer, on March 4
Jacques Dutronc – L’Arsène (1970, as co-writer)
Séverine – Un banc, un arbre, un rue (1971, as co-writer)

Linda Balgord, 64, stage actress and singer, on March 5

Debra Byrd, 72, backing singer and vocal coach on American Idols, on March 5
Barry Manilow & Debra Byrd – Let Me Be Your Wings (1994)

Pavel Zajíček, 72, member of Czech rock band DG 307, poet, visual artist, on March 5

Ralph Beerkircher, 56, German jazz guitarist, on March 5

Dimos Moutsis, 85, Greek singer-songwriter and composer, on March 6

Steve Lawrence, 88, Pop singer and actor, on March 7
Steve Lawrence – Go Away Little Girl (1962)
Steve Lawrence – I’ve Gotta Be Me (1968)

Joe Cutajar, 83, half of Maltese duo Helen & Joseph, announced March 7

Pete Rodriguez, 89, Latin boogaloo pianist and bandleader, on March 7
Pete Rodriguez – Oye Mira (Guajira Boogaloo) (1965)
Pete Rodriguez – I Like It Like That (1967)
Pete Rodríguez and His Orchestra – Nunca Abandones Tu Mujer (1968)

Pedro Altamiranda, 88, Panamanian singer, on March 7

Ernie Fields Jr, 89, baritone saxophonist and session musician, on March 8
Ernie Fields Jr – Ride A Wild Horse (1978)

Ľubomír Stankovský, 72, member of Czechoslovakian rock group Modus, on March 8

Malcolm Holcombe, 68, American singer-songwriter, on March 9
Malcolm Holcombe – Who Carried You (1999)

Nick Mulder, 51, Australian jazz musician, announced March 10

Karl Wallinger, 66, Welsh musician and songwriter, on March 10
The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (1985, as member on synths, backing vocals)
World Party – Ship Of Fools (1986, as member, writer and producer)
World Party – She’s The One (1997, as member, writer and producer)

M. Stevens, 72, bass guitarist, singer, session musician, on March 10
Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong (1986, as member on bass)
TM Stevens – I’m A Believer (1995)

Paul Nelson, blues-rock guitarist, songwriter, producer, on March 10
Johnny Winter – T Bone Shuffle (2011, on guitar)

Blake Harrison, 48, grindcore musician (Pig Destroyer, Hatebeak), on March 10

Marc Tobaly, 74, Moroccan-born French guitarist, composer, on March 10
Les Variations – Down The Road (1971)

Eric Carmen, 74, singer, musician, songwriter, on March 11
Raspberries – Overnight Sensation (1974, as member on lead vocals and as writer)
Eric Carmen – Change Of Heart (1978, also as writer)
Eric Carmen – Hungry Eyes (1987, also as producer)

Ray Austin, 81, English-porn German jazz, blues and folk musician, on March 11

Boss, 54, rapper, on March 11
BO$$ – Deeper (1993)

Russ Wilson, 62, bassist of Canadian rock band Junkhouse, on March 12
Junkhouse – Be Someone (1995)

Michael Knott, 61, rock singer-songwriter, on March 12
Michael Knott – Deaf And Dumb (1993)

John Blunt, drummer of The Searchers (1966-67), announced March 13

Sylvain Luc, 58, French jazz guitarist, on March 13
Sylvain Luc – Tous les cris les S.O.S. (2009)

Dick Allix, 78, drummer of UK pop group Vanity Fare; darts official, on March 13
Vanity Fare – Early In The Morning (1969)

Frank Darcel, 65, guitarist of French post-punk band Marquis de Sade, on March 14
Marquis de Sade – Conrad Veidt (1978)

Angela McCluskey, 64, Scottish singer and songwriter, on March 14
Télépopmusik – Breathe (2001, on vocals and as co-writer)

Hans Blum aka Henry Valentino, 95, German singer and songwriter, on March 15
Harry Valentino mit Uschi – Im Wagen vor mir (1977, also as writer and producer)
Boney M. – El Lute (1979, as co-writer)

Steve Harley, 73, English singer, songwriter, musician and producer, on March 17
Cockney Rebel – Judy Teen (1974, also as writer and co-producer)
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me (1975, also as writer and co-producer)
Steve Harley & Sarah Brightman – The Phantom Of The Opera (1986)

Sandra Crouch, 81, gospel singer and minister, on March 17

Cola Boyy, 34, funk singer, songwriter and musician, on March 17
Cola Boyy – You Can Do It (2021)

Kevin Toney, 70, pianist of jazz-funk band Blackbyrds, composer, arranger, on March 18
Blackbyrds – Runaway (1974, also as co-writer)
Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm (1974)
Kevin Toney – Strut (2001)

Chavelita Pinzón, 93, Panamanian folk singer, on March 18

Jimmy Hastings, 85, British rock and jazz flautist and saxophonist, on March 18
Caravan – Love To Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly) (1971, on flute)

Greg Lee, 53, singer with ska band Hepcat, on March 19

George Darko, 73, Ghanaian highlife musician, on March 20
George Darko – Obi Abayewa (1986)

Gene Elders, 80, country fiddler and mandolin player, on March 20
George Strait – Hot Burnin’ Flames (1987, on fiddle)

Marion Evans, 97, arranger, conductor, TV composer, announced March 21
Diahanna Carroll – Old Devil Moon (1958, as arranger)
Steve Lawrence – Go Away Little Girl (1962, as arranger – see Steve Lawrence entry)
Eydie Gorme – Blame It On The Bossa Nova (1963, as arranger)
Tony Bennett & Natalie Cole – Watch What Happens (2011, as arranger and conductor)

Laurens van Rooyen, 88, Dutch pianist and composer, on March 21

Daniel Beretta, 77, French pop singer, composer and actor, on March 23
Daniel Beretta – Juliette pour la vie (1970)

Ulf Georgsson, 61, drummer of Swedish dansband Flamingokvintetten, on March 23

Vincent Bonham, 67, singer with soul-funk group Raydio, announced March 24
Raydio – You Need This (To Satisfy That) (1978, on lead vocals)

Def Rhymz, 53, Surinamese-Dutch rapper, on March 24
Def Rhymz – Doekoe (1999)

Humphrey Campbell, 66, Surinamese-Dutch singer and producer, on March 25

Slađana Milošević, 68, Serbian new wave singer, songwriter, producer, on March 26
Slađana & Neutral Design – Hey, Little Boy (1983, also as writer)

La Castou, 75, Swiss singer, dancer and actress, on March 27

Louis Gossett Jr., 87, actor, singer, songwriter, on March 29
Lou Gossett – Red Rosy Bush (1964)
Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967, as co-writer)
Lou Gossett – The River And I (1970, also as producer)

Gerry Conway, 76, English drummer and percussionist, on March 29
Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (1971, on drums)
Linda Lewis – Old Smokey (1973, on drums)

Mark Spiro, c.66, singer, songwriter and producer, announced March 30
Mark Spiro – Winds Of Change (1986)

Casey Benjamin, 45, jazz & hip hop musician, producer, and songwriter, on March 31

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  1. amdwhah
    April 2nd, 2024 at 07:54 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. lil williamson
    April 2nd, 2024 at 17:58 | #2

    Finally a fitting tribute to Eric Carmen! Thank you. I’m a fellow Ohioan & here where he hailed from; barely a blurb on our statewide news. Nada on National either. I check in here couple times a month, appreciate you. Oh & I did see your mention of EC in March.

  3. Rhodb
    April 7th, 2024 at 00:13 | #3

    Thanks once again for a fitting share of past artists Great work

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