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In Memoriam – May 2022

June 2nd, 2022 4 comments

 

The month of May was mercifully less brutal than April, but its music deaths gave us a few good stories, such as those of Régine, the singing inventor of discotheques, Dylan sidekick Bob Neuwirth, or Ronnie Hawkins, who first brought The Band together. Hawkins also connects with Neuwirth through Dylan, and with the Yes drummer Alan White, who also died in May, through John Lennon.

In the comments to last month’s In Memoriam, a reader issued generous praise about this series, but was puzzled as to the omission of two important Benelux artists, from the write-ups. I can understand his point. Here’s the thing, though: In April, there was an excess of significant musicians, or those with particularly interesting backstories, or those whose music has meant something special to me. I check every death for significance and/or stories to tell. Each narrative takes a good while to research and write (and to edit; sometimes I need to shorten them). But at some points I have to draw a line at the amount of work I can do on this series due to the time it demands of me – after all, I do this for no payment (other, perhaps, than the occasional coffees some readers buy me) and have work and family commitments to account for. In April there were 13 entries, which is an absurd amount of work. This month, there are “only” eight, which is still a heap of work. Any other month, depending on my time available, I might well have included Arno Hintjens or Henny Vrienten. And still, there are a few artists whom I would have liked to feature this month — for example Cathal Coughlan of Microdisney or Rick Price of The Move or R&B singer Jewell or Bernard Wright or Norm Dolph — but due to travel, work commitments and an inconvenient bout of illness, I just lacked the time. Sometimes these things are just a roll of the dice…

The Composer
Few prog-rock starts go on to become composers of at least two of the greatest pieces of movie music. But so it was with Vangelis, who wrote the magnificent score for 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) and the Oscar-winning theme of Chariots Of Fire (1981). He also composed the scores for films such as Blade Runner (1982), Missing (1982), Antarctica (1983) and The Bounty (1984).

All the while, he also created prog-rock albums with Jon Anderson, lead singer of Yes, as Jon & Vangelis. That recalled his initial breakthrough, when Vangelis — initially still credited by his proper name, Evángelos Papathanassíou was part of Greek proto prog band Aphrodite’s Child, along with a pre-moms’-favourite Demis Roussos. Vangelis was the band’s keyboardist, flautist and songwriter. Aphrodite’s Child had a string of hits in Europe in the late 1960s and are regarded as influential on prog-rock — Jon Anderson was a fan before he became a prog-rock legend himself — and as pioneers of the concept album.

Vangelis also composed the official anthem of the 2002 football World Cup, and over the past two decades collaborated with NASA and the European Space Agency on symphonic music projects, the last part of which was released just last year.

The Unlikely Pop Legend
It seemed unlikely that of all Depeche Mode members, Andy Fletcher would be the first to go. He also was the one who looked least like a pop legend. “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist… and I bum around,” he once said. But he did more than bum around. By all accounts, he was the glue that held Depeche Mode together, and the business brains of the operation. And he knew that, too. In 2013, he described himself as “the tall guy in the background without whom this international corporation called Depeche Mode would never work”.

The Discotheque Inventor
As the month began, the eventful life of French entertainer Régine ended at the age of 92. Born in Belgium in 1929 as Rachelle Zylberberg to Jewish parents, Régine was saved from the Holocaust when she was given shelter in a convent. After the war, she moved to Paris were in the 1950s she effectively invented the discotheque by replacing the old jukeboxes with dedicated disc jockeys working turntables at the Whisky à Gogo. By 1957, she opened the first of her many discotheques around the world (including New York’s famous Régine’s). At one point she owned 22 discos at the same time.

By then she had also made a name for herself as a chanteuse and songwriter who influenced many singers of her generation. Her recording career spanned half a century, from 1959 top 2009.

The Yes Drummer
It was sad month for Jon Anderson: first his collaborator Vangelis died, then long-time Yes drummer Alan White departed from this mortal coil. White replaced original Yes drummer Bill Bruford in 1972, and never left the band for the next 50 years.

Before joining Yes, White made a name for himself as a drummer for the Plastic Ono Band, appearing at the legendary Toronto concert that gave rise to a live album, and on Lennon’s Imagine album. He also swung the sticks to magnificent effect on Lennon’s hit Instant Karma. White also played for George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, and for acts like The Alan Price Set, Joe Cocker, Gary Wright, Donovan, Suzi Quatro and others.

The Dylan Sidekick
In the history of Bob Dylan, folk singer-songwriter Bob Neuwirth, who has died at 82, will be remembered as a one-time best friend, road manager, enforcer and loyal sidekick. He was there when Dylan went electric at Newport and on the UK tour with the “Judas” moment. On the cover of Highway 61 Revisited, we see the lower half of Neuwirth, wearing an orange-and-white striped top and holding a camera. On the video of Subterranean Homesick Blues (the one with the cue cards), the just off-screen Neuwirth has an animated conversation with Allen Ginsberg. After Dylan’s motorbike accident in 1966, Neuwirth receded from the hub of Dylan’s world, but returned a decade later for the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

By then he had introduced Kris Kristofferson to Janis Joplin, and Joplin to KK’s song Bobby McGee. Neuwirth also co-wrote Joplin’s posthumously-released a capella song Mercedes Benz.

Neuwith, a man of sharp wit and cutting tongue, didn’t record his first album until 1974. It featured guest stars such as Kris Kristofferson, Booker T. Jones, Rita Coolidge, Chris Hillman, Cass Elliot (just before her death), Dusty Springfield, Don Everly and Richie Furay, but it was no commercial success. Between 1988-99, he released four more albums, but by then Neuwirth was making his name more as an abstract painter than a music act.

The Hawk
Another one-time Dylan associate left us in May in US-Canadian rock & roll and country singer-songwriter Ronnie Hawkins. In 1975, Dylan cast Hawkins to play the part of “Bob Dylan” in his movie Renaldo and Clara.

Hawkins, born in Arkansas two days after Elvis Presley, began his career in the 1950s when he enjoyed a number of rock & roll hits — mostly covers and knock-offs — with his band The Hawks. That group played a part in rock history as a precursor of The Band: its ever-changing line-up included first Levon Helms as of 1957 and Robbie Robertson in 1960 before Richard Manuel and Rick Danko joined in 1961, and soon after them Garth Hudson. In late 1963 they left Hawkins to form their own band. Hawkins was later reunited with The Band at their farewell concert, which recorded for the film The Last Waltz (he played with them on Who Do You Love)

In Toronto, Hawkins also hosted and accompanied John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their Bed-In campaign.

The Country Cousin
Country singer Mickey Gilley grew up with his cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and rockabilly pianist Carl McVoy. By the time Gilley hit the big time as a country crooner in the mid-1970s, the careers of Jerry Lee and McVoy had long been on the slide. Gilley was smart enough to recognise a change of wind in country music when in 1980, on the back of the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, his music became more pop-oriented. Between 1980-86, he released 19 singles, of which 18 were country Top 10 hits (nine of them reaching #1)

The Spinal Tap Drummer
Few drummers enjoy a resurrection, but Ric Parnell did. Originally, he featured in the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap as Mick Shrimpton, one of the string of Spinal Tap drummers who meet a freakish death. But when Spinal Tap, on the back of the film’s success, became a recording concern, Parnell was resurrected, to swing the sticks as Mick’s twin brother, Ric Shrimpton.

Parnell initially broke through as a member of British rock band Atomic Rooster, from 1971-74. In between he recorded with Italian rock band Triton, scoring a 1973 hit with a cover of Satisfaction. Short-lived gigs in a number of bands followed. He also did some session work, including on Toni Basil’s 1980 #1 hit Mickey.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.

 

Ray Fenwick, 75, English guitarist and producer, on April 30
Spencer Davis Group – Time Seller (1968, as member)
Ray Fenwick – I Wanna Stay Here (1971)

Ric Parnell, 70, English drummer and actor, on May 1
Atomic Rooster – Save Me (1973, as member)
Spinal Tap – Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight (1984, as member)

Régine, 92, French singer, songwriter, actress and discotheque pioneer, on May 1
Régine – Ca n’sert à rien (1965)
Régine – On la chante (1973)
Régine – La vie by night (1981)

DJ Delete, 30, Australian DJ and music producer, on May 1

Peter Frohmader, 63, German electronic composer and musician, on May 2
Peter Frohmader – Funebre (2010)

María José Cantilo, 68, Belgian-born Argentine singer-songwriter, on May 2

Howie Pyro, 61, bassist of punk band D Generation, on May 4
D Generation – Wasted Years (1993)

Albin Julius, 54, leader of Austrian experimental rock project Der Blutharsch, on May 4

Jewell, 53, R&B singer, on May 6
Snoop Doggy Dogg feat Jewell- Who Am I (What’s My Name)
Jewell – Woman To Woman (1994)

Mickey Gilley, 86, country singer, on May 7
Mickey Gilley – Room Full Of Roses (1974)
Mickey Gilley – Lonely Nights (1981)
Mickey Gilley – Your Memory Ain’t What It Used To Be (1985)

Dennis Waterman, 74, English actor and singer, on May 8
Dennis Waterman – I Could Be So Good For You (1979)

Doug Caldwell, 94, New Zealand jazz musician, on May 10

Richard Benson, 67, British-Italian guitarist, singer and TV host, on May 10
Richard Benson – Renegade (1984)

Trevor Strnad, 41, singer of metal band Black Dahlia Murder, on May 10

Norman Dolph, 83, songwriter and producer, on May 11
The Velvet Underground – All Tomorrow’s Parties (1968, as producer)
Reunion – Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me) (1974, as writer)

Patricia Cahill, 77, Irish singer, on May 11

Andy Chaves, 32 member of reggae-rock band Katastro, in car crash on May 12

Ben Moore, 80, American soul singer, on May 12
James & Bobby Purify – Get Closer (1976, as Bobby Purify II)

Rosmarie Trapp, 93, member of the Von Trapp family, on May 13

Lil Keed, 24, rapper, on May 13

Ricky Gardiner, 73, Scottish guitarist and composer, on May 13
Beggars Opera – Two Timing Woman (1973, as founder member)
David Bowie – Sound And Vision (1977, on guitar)
Iggy Pop – The Passenger (1977, as co-writer and on guitar)

Robert Cogoi, 82, Belgian singer, on May 15

Deborah Fraser, 56, South African gospel singer, on May 15

Vangelis Papathanassiou, 79, Greek keyboardist and film composer, on May 17
Aphrodite’s Child – Rain And Tears (1968, as member and co-writer)
Aphrodite’s Child – It’s Five O’Clock (1969, as member and co-writer)
Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home (1981, also as co-writer)
Vangelis – Conquest Of Paradise (1992, as composer)

Rick Price, 77, bassist of English bands The Move, Wizzard, on May 17
The Move – When Alice Comes Back To The Farm (1970)
Wizzard – See My Baby Jive (1973)

Paul Plimley, 69, Canadian free jazz pianist and vibraphonist, on May 18

Bob Neuwirth, 82, folk singer-songwriter, on May 18
Janis Joplin – Mercedes Benz (1971, as co-writer)
Bob Neuwirth – Just Because I’m Here (Don’t Mean I’m Home) (1974)
Bob Neuwirth – Life Is For The Living (1990)

Wim Rijken, 63, Dutch singer and actor, on May 18

Cathal Coughlan, 61, singer of Irish indie bands Microdisney, Fatima Mansions, on May 18
Microdisney – Town To Town (1987)
Fatima Mansions – Angel’s Delight (1990)

Bernard Wright, 58, American soul singer, jazz fusion keyboardist, on May 19
Bernard Wright – Spinnin’ (1981)
Bernard Wright – Who Do You Love (1984)

Guido Lembo, 75, Italian singer and guitarist, on May 19

Thom Bresh, 74, country guitarist and singer, on May 23
Tom Bresh – Home Made Love (1976)

Jean-Louis Chautemps, 90, French jazz saxophonist, on May 25
Elton John – Honky Cat (1972, on saxophone)

Guillaume Bideau, 44, French singer of Danish heavy metal group Mnemic, on May 25

Alan White, 72, English drummer of Yes, on May 25
John Lennon – Instant Karma (1970, on drums, piano)
Gary Wright – Get On The Right Road (1972)
Yes – Wonderous Stories (1977)
Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart (1983)

Andy Fletcher, 60, co-founder and keyboardist of Depeche Mode, on May 25
Depeche Mode – Dreaming Of Me (1981)
Depeche Mode – But Not Tonight (1986)
Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence (1990)

Steve Broughton, 72, drummer of the Edgar Broughton Band, on May 29
Edgar Broughton Band – Hotel Room (1971)

Sidhu Moose Wala, 28, Indian singer, actor and politician, shot dead on May 29

Ronnie Hawkins, 87, rock & roll, country singer-songwriter, on May 29
Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks – Forty Days (1959)
Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks – I Feel Good (1961)
The Band with Ronnie Hawkins – Who Do You Love (1978)
Ronnie Hawkins – Making It Again (1984)

Dakis, 78, Greek singer, on May 29
Dakis – Mourir ou vivre (1967)

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In Memoriam – April 2022

May 5th, 2022 5 comments

It was not a safe month to be a Canadian singer; quite a few died in April, including Susan Jacks, singer of the Poppy Family and wife of singer Terry Jacks, and Native American country singer Shane Yellowbird, who was only 42 (the featured song is from a 2007 album titled Life Is Calling My Name). On the other end of the spectrum, one of the behind-the-scenes people who was at the centre of shaping rock & roll passed away at the age of 104.

One name featured already last month: the death of Bunny Simpson of reggae trio Mighty Diamonds came only three days after the death in a drive-by shooting of fellow band member Tabby Shaw, but since they cut across two months, I included Simpson on both lists.

Most poignantly, on the day before Mental Health Month was to begin, one of country music’s great stars died from mental illness.

The Pioneer
Who knows how rock & roll might have turned out had Art Rupe — born in 1917 as Arthur Goldberg, the son of Jewish immigrants — not decided in 1944 to invest $200 into buying loads of different records by black artists. Rupe’s idea was to analyse these records and arrive at a formula for producing hits in what was then called “race music”. He decided the future was in a fusion of swing and gospel. Soon he founded the LA-based Specialty Records, which quickly thrived. Rupe also spearheaded a wave of gospel recordings. His mantra of fusing genres, set out in the 1940s, would become that of rock & roll and soul music, with his particular recipe immensely influential.

In the 1950s, Rupe discovered acts like Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Larry Williams and Little Richard, with whom he’d be at the vanguard of rock & roll. Price’s 1952 song Lawdy Miss Clawdy is a fair claimant (among several) for “first rock & roll record”. And Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti — the original lyrics of which Rupe ordered cleaned up — was one of the great points of explosion in the nascent genre.

Rupe also launched the career of Sam Cooke, though the erstwhile gospel singer enjoyed his secular success at RCA — after Rupe, something of a purist, had told Cooke to take his smooth secular songs elsewhere. One of these songs was You Send Me (interestingly, the great drummer Earl Palmer played on many Specialty records, including Tutti Frutti, but also on the RCA release You Send Me. There’ll be a retrospective of Palmer’s work later this year).

Like other label bosses, Rupe offered hardnosed contracts to artists and paid paltry royalties; unlike many of his colleagues, he actually paid these royalties (though Little Richard did have to take him to court at one point) and treated his artists with a measure of ethics. But by the end of the 1950s — as Little Richard moved into religion and Sam Cooke out of it — Rupe left the music business to invest in gas and oil. His long life, which begun while World War I was still raging, ended at the age of 104 on April 15.

The Folk-Rock Pioneer
Compiling songs on which Earl Palmer played in April clearly was hazardous to the lives of those connected to them. One of the songs I picked for that forthcoming collection was High Flying Bird, the 1963 hit for Judy Henske. On April 27 the folk singer died at the age of 85.

In the early 1960s, Henske’s folk stylings gave her much exposure beyond the folk scene. With husband Jerry Yester of the Lovin’ Spoonful, she became part of the early Laurel Canyon scene (which, in turn, is the subject of next week’s mix, which will include a track by Henske and Yester). She is credited as being an influence on the folk-rock scene; in 1969 she and Yester recorded a baroque/psych-rock album for the label owned by fellow Laurel Canyon resident Frank Zappa.

The High School ‘President’
Usually high schools in the movies are named after presidents or such-like luminaries. In Grease, the school was named after singer Bobby Rydell, who was one of the big stars in the period of Grease’s setting. Rydell first broke through in 1959 with Kissin’ Time, which reached US #11, followed by his first Top Ten hit, We Got Love. A string of hits and a few movie roles followed over the next five years, when the presciently-titled #4 hit Forget Him gave Rydell his last taste of big chart action.

Rydell stayed in music, and in 1976 had a minor hit with a disco version of Sway. Mostly he toured the nostalgia circuit, often alongside Frankie Avalon, who appeared in Grease.

The Country Legend
The last day of April brought the news of the death at 76 of country star Naomi Judd, matriarch of the Judd family which included actress Ashley and singer Wynnona. With the latter, Naomi formed a hugely popular duo The Judds — the duo was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the following day.

Naomi had been suffering mental health problems, with the medication prescribed for her depression and anxiety causing severe side-effects. The family framed Naomi’s death as her having lost a long battle with mental illness. They avoided giving the details of the mechanics of her death, which clearly was deliberately done by way of reframing and refocussing the narrative on mental illness as a potentially lethal disease. The destigmatisation of mental health disorders is important. Whether bleeping out the S word is the best way of doing so is up for debate (I might suggest that this word, too, requires destigmatisation), but it is right to say that somebody died from a mental health disease, just as somebody might die of cancer or heart disease.

The Funk Brother
As a member of The Funk Brothers, Motown’s in-house backing collective, guitarist Joe Messina had a hand in countless classics. The trouble is, Motown didn’t always credit which musicians played on which track. But we know that Messina, who has died at 93, played on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album and all Temptation albums of the early 1970s. Messina also played on hits such Going To A Go-Go by The Miracles, Dancing in The Street by Martha & The Vandellas, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by the Four Tops, For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder, Your Precious Love by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Someday We’ll Be Together by The Supremes, and many others. Often he was one of three guitarists on one record, all innovating in ways that would help create the Motown sound.

Messina was among the top talents of Detroit’s jazz scene recruited by Gordy in the early days of Motown, and had played with acts like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. He put down his guitar for two decades after Motown moved to LA in 1972, opening carwash and jewellery businesses instead of making gold records. He eventually returned to music after 21 years, to release his only jazz album, Messina Madness. He’d also jam with local jazz acts. In the early 2000s he was part of the Funk Brothers reunion that would result in the superb documentary Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.

Of the 13 Funk Brothers, only one is now alive, percussionist Jack Ashford, who is turning 88 on May 18. Watch this great interview from 2005 with Joe Messina.

The Trucker
If you need trucking music — and, yes, I have a growing playlist on that theme brewing — then country drawler C.W. McCall was your man. His signature song was 1975’s CB radio hit Convoy, which so captured the imagination that Sam Peckinpah made a film based on it, starring Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw.

For all his polluting with diesel fumes, McCall had an environmental conscience, as he showed on his 1976 song There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock ‘N’ Roll). He later became an environmental activist and mayor of a small town in Colorado. But he probably was no woke lefty snowflake commie liberal — last year, McCall gave express permission for his hit Convoy to be used by the so-called Freedom Convoy protests in Canada, which was not exactly a liberal scene.

The Sax Man
You will have heard the saxophone work of Andrew Woolfolk on any number of Earth, Wind & Fire records. Woodfolk was not the sax player who played the great solo on the live version of Reasons (that was Don Myrick), but he was part of the horn section that helped shaped disco. As a young jazz musician in New York in 1973, the Denver-born Woodfolk was ready to enter a career in banking when his old school friend Philip Bailey drafted him to succeed saxophonist and flautist Ronnie Laws in Earth, Wind & Fire, a band which had just begun to gain traction. Woodford remained with the EWF until 1993. His soprano sax helped the band become legends.

In between, Woodford also did session work for the likes of Deniece Williams, Valerie Carter, Stanley Turrentine, Level 42, Philip Bailey, Tracie Spencer, Ruby Turner, Phil Collins, and others.

The Soul Singer
Early in April I was beginning the process of shortlisting tracks for the 1982 compilation in the Any Major Soul series. That gave me occasion to sample Bloodstone’s album of that year, We Go A Long Way Back. That album featured the superb Go On And Cry (which featured on Any Major Soul 1982-83), but the group’s best-known hit was 1973’s Natural High. A couple of days later, founding member, singer and bassist Charles Cormack, who wrote that track, died at the age of 75. But by 1982, he had just quit the band, only to return two years later, staying with Bloodstone until 2020.

With Cormack’s death, only keyboardist and singer Harry Williams survives of the original line-up, which went back to 1962.

The Electronic Pioneer
German musician Klaus Schulze is regarded as a pioneer in electronic music and as such an important influence on dance music, ambient and new wave. He also veered into other genres, such as jazz and classical (especially Wagner). As a composer he influenced the film score master Hans Zimmer.

Schulze started out as a drummer for Tangerine Dream, but after one album in 1970 switched to keyboards founded Ash Ra Tempel, which he also left after one album. In his career, Schulze released some 60 albums.

The Singing  Actress
In March French-Italian singer and actress Catherine Spaak featured on Any Major Beatles in Italian, with her 1966 cover of Yesterday. Almost exactly month later, she passed away at 77. Better known as an actress whose career started when she was a teenager, Spaak also had a career as a singer, styling herself in the 1960s on Françoise Hardy. That wasn’t entirely at random: Spaak was produced by Ezio Leoni, one of the fathers of Italian pop, who also produced Hardy at one point. Having issued her first single in 1962, she released seven albums between 1964 and 1978, three of them collaborations with then-husband Johnny Dorelli.

The Punk Pioneer
Before the Sex Pistols and The Damned, punk had The Saints, who released a punk single, I’m Stranded, in 1976 before any other non-US act of the genre, a few months even before The Damned’s New Rose — and they were Australian. Formed in Brisbane, the band was an antipodean answer to the Ramones. Their voice was that of 19-year-old Chris Bailey, who has died at 65. In the UK, The Saints managed only chart entry, 1977’s The Perfect Day, which reached #34.

Through various line-up changes, the Kenya-born Bailey kept The Saints going, also releasing solo records, which were more mainstream rock.

The Hippie Executive
Born in grey England, budding young music executive Andy Wickham wanted sunshine and found it in LA. Living among the coterie of present and future stars in Laurel Canyon (whose alumnus Judy Henske died soon after him), Wickham was the hippie among the stiffs at Warner Bros. when he signed the likes of Joni Mitchell (already in New York before both of them ended up in LA), Neil Young (sort of), Van Morrison, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and others for the label. Warners had discovered him when Wickham handled the publicity for the groundbreaking Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

Wickham also did some producing, among others for the Everly Brothers, Nancy Sinatra, Phil Ochs, and Van Dyke Parks.

The Swedish Colleague
What must it be like to have played in a band with a future pop legend? That is something which until April 13 Lennart Hegland, bassist of 1960s Swedish folk/pop band Hep Stars might have been able to answer. The band had already enjoyed some success when they discovered future ABBA co-supremo Benny Anderson and invited him to join the band. Benny quickly made his mark, writing many of the group’s songs, some with his friend and future ABBA colleague Björn Ulvaeus. The featured track is the first of their joint compositions.

The Hep Stars split amid some acrimony in 1969. After which Hegland and some other members formed the Gummibandet, which also enjoyed some success in Sweden.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.

 

Andy Wickham, 74, English-born music executive and producer, on March 29
Nancy Sinatra – Hook And Ladder (1971, as producer)

Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson, 70, singer with reggae trio Mighty Diamonds, on April 1
Mighty Diamonds – Right Time (1975)

Roland White, 83, bluegrass mandolin player, on April 1

C.W. McCall, 93, American country singer and songwriter, on April 1
C.W. McCall – Convoy (1975)
C.W. McCall – There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock & Roll) (1976)

Archie Eversole, 37, rapper, on April 3

Joe Messina, 93, guitarist with Motown’s The Funk Brothers, on April 4
The Temptations – I’m Losing You (1966)
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Your Precious Love (1967)
Stevie Wonder – For Once In My Life (1968)

Bobby Rydell, 79, pop singer and actor, on April 5
Bobby Rydell – We Got Love (1959)
Bobby Rydell – Forget Him (1963)

Paul Siebel, 84, singer-songwriter, on April 5
Paul Siebel – Louise (1970, also as writer)

Helen Golden, 81, Dutch jazz singer, on April 6

Larry Holley, 96, Buddy Holly’s bigger brother, on April 7

Con Cluskey, 86, member of Irish pop group The Bachelors, on April 8
The Bachelors – I Wouldn’t Trade You For The World (1964)

Pastelle LeBlanc, 42, member of Canadian folk trio Vishtèn, on April 8

John Rossi, drummer of swing revival band Roomful of Blues (1970-98), on April 9
Roomful of Blues – Dressed Up To Get Messed Up (1984)

Chris Bailey, 65, lead singer of Australian punk band The Saints, on April 9
The Saints – I’m Stranded (1976)
The Saints – Ghost Ships (1984)

Mario Martínez, guitarist of Spanish new wave group La Unión, on April 10
La Unión – Lobo Hombre en París (1984)

Charnett Moffett, 54, jazz bassist, on April 11
Charnett Moffett – Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (1987)

Charles E. McCormick, 75, bassist and singer with soul group Bloodstone, on April 12
Bloodstone – Natural High (1973)
Bloodstone – Give Me Your Heart (1975, also as writer)

Jacek Szymkiewicz, 47, Polish songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, on April 12

David Freel, 64, singer and guitarist of undue group Swell, on April 12
Swell – Off In My Head (1998)

Tim Feerick, 34, bassist of rock band Dance Gavin Dance, on April 13

Lennart Hegland, 79, bassist of pioneering Swedish beat band Hep Stars, on April 13
The Hep Stars – Isn’t It Easy To Say (1966)

Trygve Thue, 71, Norwegian guitarist and producer, on April 14

Orlando Julius, 79, Nigerian saxophonist, singer and bandleader, on April 14
Hugh Masekela – Mama (1975, on saxophone and backing vocals)

Art Rupe, 104, founder of Specialty Records, producer, on April 15
Jimmy Liggins and His Drops Of Joy – Baby I Can’t Forget You (1947, as label owner)
The Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke – Wonderful (1956, as label owner)
Little Richard – Good Golly, Miss Molly (1958, as label owner)

Leo Boni, 57, Italian-American singer and guitarist, on April 15

Koji, 49, rhythm guitarist of Japanese visual kei rock band La’cryma Christi, on April 15
La’cryma Christi – Siam’s Eye (1994)

Bill Bourne, 68, Canadian folk singer-songwriter, on April 16
Bill Bourne – Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (2012)

James Johnson, 82, blues guitarist, on April 16
Slim Harpo – Baby Scratch My Back (1966, on guitar)

Hollis Resnik, 67, stage musical singer and actress, on April 17

Rick Turner, 78, member of psych rock band Autosalvage, and luthier, on April 17
Autosalvage – Parahighway (1968)

Re Styles, 72, Dutch-born singer with rock band The Tubes (1977-80), on April 17
The Tubes – Prime Time (1979)

Catherine Spaak, 77, Belgian-Italian singer and actress, on April 17
Catherine Spaak – Perdono (1962)
Catherine Spaak – Punto d’amore (1976)

Roderick ‘Pooh’ Clark, 49, singer with soul band Hi-Five, on April 17
Hi Five – I Can’t Wait Another Minute (1991)

Paolo Noël, 93, Canadian singer, actor and TV presenter, on April 17

Jerry Doucette, 70, Canadian musician, on April 18
Jerry Doucette – Mama Let Him Play (1977)

José Luis Cortés, 70, Cuban timba flutist, composer, and bandleader, on April 18
José Luis Cortés y NG La Banda – Química Perfecta (2000)

Guitar Shorty, 87, blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter, on April 20
Guitar Shorty – Let My Guitar Do The Talking (2004)

Orrin Hatch, 88, Republican US senator, Mormon gospel singer and composer, on April 23

Arno Hintjens, 72, lead singer of Belgian new wave band TC Matic, on April 23
TC Matic – O La La La (C’est Magnifique) (1981)

Willi Resetarits, 73, Austrian singer and comedian, on April 24

Henny Vrienten, 73, singer and songwriter of Dutch ska band Doe Maar, on April 25

Andrew Woolfolk, 71, saxophonist with Earth, Wind & Fire, on April 25
Earth Wind & Fire – Spasmodic Movements (1973, on lead soprano sax)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Can’t Hide Love
Valerie Carter – Trying To Get To You (1977, on soprano sax)
Tracie Spencer – Hide And Seek (1988, on soprano sax)

Susan Jacks, 73, Canadian singer-songwriter with The Poppy Family, on April 25
The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy (1969)
Susan Jacks – Elusive Butterfly (1980)

Shane Yellowbird, 42, Canadian country singer, on April 25
Shane Yellowbird – Pickup Truck (2007)

Julie Daraîche, 83, Canadian- Québécoise country singer, on April 26

Klaus Schulze, 74, German electronic musician and composer, on April 26
Tangerine Dream – Asche zu Asche (1970, on drums)
Klaus Schulze – Conquest Of Paradise (1994)

Ica Novo, 70, Argentine folk singer, composer and guitarist, on April 26

Randy Rand, 62, bassist of US hard rock band Autograph, on April 26
Autograph – Turn Up The Radio (1984)

Judy Henske, 85, folk singer, on April 27
Judy Henske – Buckeye Jim (1963)
Judy Henske – Day To Day (1966)
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester – Snowblind (1969)

Roberto Lecaros, 77, Chilean jazz musician and composer, on April 29

Tarsame ‘Johnny Zee/Taz’ Singh Saini, 54, Asian-British singer of Stereo Nation, on April 29
Johnny Zee – Hoon Ta Main Nachchna (1989)

Allen Blairman, 81, jazz drummer, on April 29
Allen Blairman – Till You See The Sun Shining Bright (Keep On Moving’ Baby) (2016)

Gabe Serbian, 45, hardcore punk drummer and guitarist, on June 30

Naomi Judd, 76, half of country duo The Judds and songwriter, on April 30
The Judds – Love Is Alive (1985)
The Judds – Change Of Heart (1988, also as writer)
The Judds – Love Can Build A Bridge (1990, also as co-writer)

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In Memoriam – March 2022

April 5th, 2022 3 comments

March was a generally mild month for music deaths — I suppose the Grim Reaper is busy elsewhere — but there were more than the usual number of deaths of relatively young people in March. An English boy band singer died at only 31 of glioblastoma (a particularly nasty kind of cancer), and a member of indie band Freelance Whales died by suicide at 36. And a dazing number of music people died in their 40s and 50s. At the older end of the scale, it was sad to see two members of a legendary reggae trio die within three days of one another (one died on April 1; for purposes of narrative, he gets listed this month and again next month).

I don’t know whether the 1990s alt.rock scene has many devotees among readers of this corner of the Internet, but if there are any, they might have cause to mourn the death of two guitarists in the genre within two days of one another. And, if Foo Fighters are alt.rock (not really, though), the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins was a bit of a shock, especially seeing as he was only 50 and on tour.

The Soul Mover
If nothing else, soul singer-songwriter and keyboardist Timmy Thomas was adept at going with the times. Recording on Goldwax in the 1960s, he was able to do those groovy instrumentals in the mode of Booker T and he could also deliver southern soul vocals. In the 1970s, he tapped into the mood of the time with his classic Why Can’t We Live Together, all the while issuing superb keyboard work. In the 1980s, he did a good line in the synth-and-bass soul numbers, scoring a hit with Gotta Give A Little Love (Ten Years After), and by 1900, he had morphed into an upbeat pop singer.

The Foo Drummer
When the Foo Fighters came off stage in San Isidro, Argentina, nobody expected that 50-year-old drummer Taylor Hawkins, would not live to see the next gig in Bogotá, Colombia, the city where he would be found lifeless in his hotel room. For 25 years he was not only the drummer of Foo Fighters but also the band’s second public face, after Dave Grohl.

He joined Grohl’s band, yet to become superstars, while drumming for Alanis Morrissette on stage at the height of her popularity. It must have been a courageous move for Hawkins to leave that successful gig for a band fronted by Dave Grohl, more so drumming without much studio experience behind a man who was a drumming legend on account of having wielded the sticks in Nirvana. Clearly, Grohl had no complaints about Hawkins drumming.

Besides the Foo Fighters, Hawkins also had his own band, Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders, which included fellow Morrissette alumnus and Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney. The band released three albums between 2006 and 2019. In 2020 Hawkins formed a group with Chaney and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, named NHC (the members’ initials). An album by the supergroup is due out this year. Hawkins’ most recently drummed on Elton John’s new albums of duets, on the track with Eddie Vedder.

The Marcel
In doo wop, few opening lines are as instantly recognisable — well, “iconic”, to use that chronically overused and misapplied word — as the “Bomp-baba-bomp-ba-bomp-ba-bomp-bomp … vedanga-dang-dang-vadinga-dong-ding” of The Marcel’s version of Blue Moon. That line was delivered by bass singer Fred Johnson, who died on the last day of March at the age of 80 (and whose sister’s hairstyle gave the band its name).

Blue Moon was a million-selling #1 hit, but soon there’d be trouble: The Marcels were multiracial, and that prevented them touring in the Deep South. The two white members soon left the group, and were replaced with black singers. Johnson and his bandmates carried on, with Johnson remaining a Marcel throughout its various iterations, but they never had chart success again after a couple of minor hits in 1962.

The Three Dog Producer
The sound of Three Dog Night was much that created by Richard Podolor, who produced all their material in their pomp. Podolor also produced acts like Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly (Metamorphosis, and Live), Blues Image with their magnificent Ride Captain Ride (see Any Major Hits from 1970), Black Oak Arkansas (see Any Major Southern Rock), The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Phil Seymour, Alice Cooper (1981’s Special Forces), Dwight Tilley and others.

Before he was a producer and arranger, Podolor was a rock & roll recording artist, and then a session guitarist. He’d still grab the guitar when he was producing; on Iron Butterfly’s Metamorphosis, he even played the sitar. He also wrote music; among that work was Let There Be Drums, which featured in last month’s In Memoriam to mark the death of co-writer and performer Sandy Nelson.

The Two Diamonds
What a tragedy it is for a member of a trio to see two bandmates die in the space three days. So it is for Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson of the reggae group The Mighty Diamonds, who on March 29 lost lead singer and songwriter Donald “Tabby” Shaw at 67 in a drive-by shooting and on April 1 lost singer Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson to diabetes.

Founded in 1969, the group started to gain traction in the mid-1970s, with their first hit Shame And Pride, produced by Jah Lloyd. Their backing harmonies helped Susan Cadogan hit the UK Top 5 in 1975 with Hurt So Good. They became big in 1976, with the release of their Right Time album. The Mighty Diamonds had a string of hits in the 1970s and ’80s, but their biggest song didn’t become famous in their own version. Pass The Kouchie, a ganja anthem written by Simpson and Ferguson, became a worldwide hit (with adapted lyrics) as Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth. The song featured on Any Major Orginals – 1980s Vol. 2.

The band played popular gigs in Britain in the 1970s, and remained a fixture on Jamaica’s reggae scene for decades, releasing a total of 46 albums, with a 47th in the works. The band had also been preparing for a world tour: tragically, murder and illness within a few days put paid to that.

The Canada Soulman
Canadian soul singer Eric Mercury could do Southern soul with the best of them — and, in fact, at one point he did, recording for Stax with session men like Steve Cropper (who also produced him at times) and The Memphis Horns. Born in Toronto, he was in the group The Pharaohs and then as leader in Eric Mercury and the Soul Searchers before moving to New York in 1968. He issued a number of solo albums which included socially conscious lyrics, with titles like 1969’s Black Electric Man and 1972’s Funky Sounds Nurtured In The Fertile Soil Of Memphis That Smell Of Rock.

His recording career was over by 1981. By then he had written and co-produced a number of tracks for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, including the gorgeous You Are My Heaven (co-written with Stevie Wonder), Only Heaven Can Wait, and Just When I Needed You.

The Street Musician
At an advanced age, Grandpa Elliott became something of a sensation as a soul and blues street musician in New Orleans, where he was a fixture on the corner of Royal and Toulouse Streets in the French Quarter (see video). Long of beard and dressed in a folksy outfit of denim dungarees, red shirt and floppy hat, he attracted media attention throughout the US. Included in Mark Johnson’s Playing for Change project, he would play in stadiums, appear on TV, tour internationally, and go viral on YouTube with his performance of Stand By Me.

In 2009, Elliott, by now blind from glaucoma, released his debut CD, more than three decades after leaving the music industry, disillusioned with the business practices in New York. In the 1960s and ‘70s he released a number of singles, to no commercial success.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.

Mac Martin, 96, bluegrass musician, on Feb. 28

Richard Pratt, bass singer with soul band Blue Magic, announced on March 1
Blue Magic – Stop To Start (1974)

Warner Mack, 86, country singer-songwriter, on March 1
Warner Mack – Is It Wrong (For Loving You) (1957, also as co-writer)

Johnny Brown, 84, comic actor and singer, on March 2
Johnny Brown – Sundown (1961)

Chuck Criss, 36, musician with indie band Freelance Whales, by suicide on March 2
Freelance Whales – Hannah (2010)

Denroy Morgan, c.75, Jamaican-born reggae and funk musician, on March 3
Denroy Morgan – I’ll Do Anything For You (1981)

Jimbeau Hinson, 70, country singer-songwriter, on March 4
The Oak Ridge Boys – Fancy Free (1981, as co-writer)

Jeff Howell, 60, rock bassist with Outlaws, on March 5
Outlaws – Steam On The Blacktop (1994, as member)

Patricio Renán, 77, Chilean pop singer, on March 5

Pau Riba, 73, Spanish singer and author, on March 6
Pau Riba – Noia de porcellana (1969)

Mike Cross, 57, guitarist of alt.rock band Sponge, on March 6
Sponge – Plowed (1994)

Isao Suzuki, 89, Japanese jazz double-bassist, on March 8

Ziggy Sigmund, guitarist with Canadian rock bands Econoline Crush, Slow, on March 8
Econoline Crush – You Don’t Know What It’s Like (1997)

Grandpa Elliott Small, 77, soul singer; street musician, on March 8
Elliott Small – Stay In My Heart (1969)
Grandpa Elliott – Share Your Love With Me (2009)

Ron Miles, 58, jazz trumpeter, cornetist, and composer, on March 8
Ron Miles – A Kind Word (2020)

Richard Podolor, 86, producer and musician, on March 9
Dickie Podolor – I Love You Girl (And I Need You So) (1958, also as writer)
Three Dog Night – Joy To The World (1970, as producer)
Blues Image – Behind Every Man (1970, as producer and arranger)
Black Oak Arkansas – Strong Enough To Be Gentle (1975, as producer)

Bobbie Nelson, 91, country pianist and singer, Willie’s sister, on March 10
Willie Nelson – Local Memory (1973, on piano)

Brad Martin, 48, country singer, on March 11
Brad Martin – Before I Knew Better (2002)

Timmy Thomas, 77, soul singer, keyboardist, songwriter, producer, on March 11
Timmy Thomas – It’s My Life (1967, also as co-writer)
Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (1972, also as writer)
Nicole with Timmy Thomas – New York Eyes (1985, also as writer)
Timmy Thomas – I Love Your Smile (1990)

Guayo Cedeño, 48, Honduran jazz musician and producer, on March 11

Traci Braxton, 50, R&B singer and reality TV star, on March 12
Traci Braxton – Broken Things (2018)

Barry Bailey, 73, guitarist of Atlanta Rhythm Section, on March 12
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Spooky (1979)

Pete St. John, 90, Irish folk singer-songwriter, on March 12
Dropkick Murphys – Fields Of Athenry (2000, as writer)

Jessica Williams, 73, jazz pianist and composer, on March 12
Jessica Williams – Say It Over And Over Again (2004)

Jody Wayne, 77, South African country singer and producer, on March 14

Eric Mercury, 77, Canadian soul singer, songwriter, producer on March 14
Eric Mercury and The Soul Searchers – Lonely Girl (1968)
Eric Mercury – I Can Smell That Funky Music (1972)
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – You Are My Heaven (1979, as co-writer, producer)

Dennis González, 67, jazz trumpeter, on March 15

Barbara Morrison, 72, American jazz singer, on March 16
Barbara Morrison – I Was Doing All Right (2007)

Bobby Weinstein, 82, songwriter and music executive, on March 16
The Royalettes – It’s Gonna Take A Miracle (1965, as co-writer)
Dionne Warwick – Goin’ Out Of My Head (1971)

Glen Glenn, 87, rockabilly singer, on March 18
Glen Glenn – I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone (1958)

LaShun Pace, 60, gospel singer, on March 21

Tommy Tokyo, 50, Norwegian singer, guitarist and songwriter, on March 22
Tommy Tokyo – The Remaining Days Of Life (2020)

Eva Castillo, 52, Filipino singer, on March 22

Jim Miller, 69, member of roots music trio Western Centuries, on March 24
Western Centuries – Weight Of The World (2016)

Bert Ruiter, 75, bassist of Dutch bands Focus, Earth & Fire, announced March 24
Focus – Hocus Pocus (1973)

Taylor Hawkins, 50, drummer of Foo Fighters, on March 25
Foo Fighters – Aurora (1999)
Foo Fighters – Everlong (live, 2006)
Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders – You’re No Good At Life No More (2019)

Françoise Guimbert, 76, French/Reunionesque singer, discovered on March 25
Françoise Guimbert – Tantine Zaza (1978)

Keith Martin, 55, R&B singer, discovered on March 25
Keith Martin – Because Of You (1995)

Jeff Carson, 58, country singer, on March 26
Jeff Carson – Not On Your Love (1995)

Tina May, 60, English jazz singer, on May 26
Tina May – Lucky To Be Me (2010)

Keaton Pierce, 31, lead singer of rock band Too Close To Touch, on March 26
Too Close To Touch – Heavy Hearts (2015)

Mira Calix, 52, South African-born electronic-classical musician and visual artist, on March 28

Jim Karstein, 78, session drummer (JJ Cale, Eric Clapton), on March 27
JJ Cale – I’m A Gypsy Man (1976, on drums)

Jun Lopito, 64, Filipino rock guitarist, on March 29

Donald ‘Tabby Diamond’ Shaw, 67, lead singer of reggae trio Mighty Diamonds, on March 29
Mighty Diamonds – Shame And Pride (1973)
Susan Cadogan – Hurt So Good (on backing vocals with Mighty Diamonds, 1975)
The Mighty Diamonds – Pass The Kouchie (1982)

Tom Parker, 33, singer with English boy band The Wanted, on March 30

Ian ‘Natty Wailer’ Wynter, 67, Jamaican musician, on March 30
Natty Wailer – Lift Your Spirits (2000)

Fred Johnson, 80, bass singer with doo-wop band The Marcels, on March 31
The Marcels – Blue Moon (1961, on bass voice)
The Marcels – Heartaches (1961, on bass voice)

Fitzroy ‘Bunny Diamond’ Simpson, 71, member of Mighty Diamonds, on April 1
(See entry for Tabby Diamond. Pass The Kouchie also as co-writer)

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In Memoriam – February 2022

March 3rd, 2022 4 comments

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.

Nightbirde
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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In Memoriam – January 2022

February 2nd, 2022 6 comments

Disaster struck in producing this instalment of the In Memoriam series. Halfway through the month, the document I was working on had magically disappeared. All I had left was a back-up, including exactly one entry, that of jazz-fusion guitarist Nick Collionne. Many hours of work had to be redone. I was tempted to read it as a sign that maybe this was a good time to stop the series, being the start of a new year. The amount of work that goes into these posts could certainly be used profitably elsewhere.

As the alert reader will have detected, I decided to carry on. It seems for some readers, the In Memoriam posts are essential reading, and I don’t think anybody else on the Internet does this kind of thing in the field of popular music.

But the clincher really came a couple of weeks before all the drama happened. A kind reader bought me a few coffees on BuyMeACoffee  (the platform on which you can give this corner of the interblogs a little love), and noted that I once wrote something nice about his late brother. I looked it up, and it concerned an entry in an In Memoriam from 2015, about one of those people who make an impact behind the scenes. I suppose that these write-ups do make a difference; perhaps less so with the headliner deaths, but probably with those people who don’t command much column inches in the obituary pages. And maybe family and friends of such people might stumble on this place and take comfort in the achievements of their loved one being noted. And that makes me feel a bit guilty about not being able to feature even more people, because I suspect that there’s a story behind every musician. But until I get sponsorship to make this my full-time job, there must be limits to that…

So, here we are again, counting down the music deaths of the month and their music… And what a relentlessly ugly month it was, especially for black vocalists from 1950s and ’60s, with members of The Ronettes, The Dixie Cups, The Five Satins, and The Platters dying in the space of three days. We also lost funksters from Parliament, The Ohio Players and Mtume, and 1960s soul singer Freddie Hughes. And within two days, January 29-30, a trio of session legends — two of them of particular interest to Dylanistas —passed away. Seventeen (!) write-ups testify to the grimness of the first month of January. Make yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and read… (or get the PDF of this whole post in the DLable package, and read it all at your leisure).

The Voice
I doubt that at this point I could add anything new to say about Meat Loaf. So let me note that Bat Out Of Hell was the soundtrack of my puberty — and this, to paraphrase a quote from the film Casablanca, makes me a citizen of the world. I can’t say whether I love that album more than most others because it lodged itself so firmly within me during my formative years, or because it is a masterpiece. I suspect it’s both. I don’t think there’s any song I’d like to sing more at a karaoke than the title track (and I could, you know).

In 1985 I saw Meat Loaf in concert in London (it was a gig just like this one). I was in the first row of the Hammersmith Odeon. Mr Aday put on a great show, of course, even if I didn’t like his swearing at the female singer during Paradise At The Dashboard Light (it was part of the act, and she duly swore back at him, but I found it horrible). In the line of my vision was the lead guitarist, a bald mustachoid chap named Bob Kulick. At one point we made eye contact, and he gave me a wink. For an 18-year-old, it was thrilling to be acknowledged by a member of the band. Kulick died in 2020. Jim Steinman in 2021. Meat Loaf in 2022. I suppose Todd Rundgren and Ellen Foley will enter 2023 with some trepidation.

The Trailblazer
Other than Darlene Love, no other singer represents Phil Spector Wall of Sound more than Ronnie Spector — so much so that she even had his name, after marrying the scumbag in 1968. As the singer of The Ronettes, Yvette Bennett had an unusual voice, an exotic look (she was the daughter of an African-American-Cherokee mother and Irish-American father), and a rebellious image which went against the demure grain of early-1960s America.

In the wake of a string of hits such as Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, The Best Part Of Breakin’ Up or Walking In The Rain, The Ronettes were huge, in the US and in the UK, where they were voted the third-most popular pop group in 1965, after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. But by 1967 they had broken up.

In 1966 The Ronettes supported The Beatles on their US tour, leading to a friendship with Phil’s special pal John Lennon and George Harrison. The latter wrote and produced the Apple release Try Some Buy Some for her; later recorded by Harrison himself.

Spector sabotaged Ronnie’s career after they divorced in 1974, following years of gross psychological abuse, including Phil pulling a gun on Ronnie. When she escaped from the Spector mansion in 1972, she had not even shoes on. She kept the rotten surname for career purposes, though Phil refused her the right to perform any of her old songs. As a result, Ronnie’s solo career suffered.

With Ronnie’s death, and that of her sister Estelle in 2009, Nedra Talley is the last survivor of the trio.

The Funky Producer
He might be best-known for his 1980s fresh-produce anthem Juicy Fruit, but James Mtume, who has died at 76, was also a great producer and jazz percussionist. The son of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath — James received his Swahili name in the 1960s as an activist in a black empowerment group — Mtume released a couple of jazz albums in the late ‘60s and played with McCoy Tyner, Art Farmer and Freddie Hubbard, before joining Miles Davis group. He played the percussions on a series of Davis albums, alongside fellow percussionist Badal Roy, who also died in January.

In the late 1970s, Mtume and fellow Davis alumnus Reggie Lucas turned to songwriting and production in soul and funk. They co-wrote the Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway hits Back Together Again and The Closer I Get To You, Stephanie Mills’ Never Knew Love This Before and Two Hearts, and Phyllis Hymans You Know How To Love Me.  They also formed their own band, named Mtume, and created a series of R&B hits that would be heavily-sampled in hip-hop, such as Juicy Fruit (which, you’ll be shocked to learn, isn’t about fresh produce after all), So You Want To Be A Star, Breathless, and You, Me And He.

The Samba Legend
Musicians can scare the hell out of politicians, and so it was with Brazilian samba superstar Elza Soares, who has died at 91. In 1970, the singer, long already a household name in Brazil, was such a thorn in the side of her country’s right-wing regime that assassins strafed her house with machine gun fire — with her children inside. She and her husband, football legend Garrincha, had to flee to Italy. Her relationship with Garrincha was a media sensation and big scandal in the 1960s, as the footballer was still married and Elza was seen as a homewrecker. It ended in 1977 due to Garrincha’s domestic abuse.

Tragedy was as steady companion in Soares’ life. Her mother died in 1969 in a car accident caused by Garrincha, who was driving drunk. Soares, her daughter and Garrincha were injured in the crash. The son she had with the football player, Garrincha Jr, died in 1986 at the age of 9, also in a car accident. Garrincha Sr died in 1983, broken by his alcoholism. Elza died on the 39the anniversary of his death.

Soares’ career kicked off in 1958 with her first single, the hit Se Acaso Você Chegasse. She helped bring US jazz into the Brazilian samba, and continued to introduce other genres, even as an octogenarian. She remained one the most successful and influential of all Brazilian singers, with the BBC naming her “Singer of the Millennium” in 1999, alongside Tina Turner. She was still planning a new album and live shows at the time of her death.

The Dixie Cup
With the death of Rosa Lee Hawkins, there’s only one original member of The Dixie Cups left. Her cousin Joan Marie Johnson left us in 2016; now only Rosa Lee’s older sister, Barbara Ann Hawkins, remains. The New Orleans trio had a great string of hits in the mid-1960s, such as Chapel Of Love, People Say, You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me, and Iko Iko. The latter, a worldwide hit in 1965 based on a popular New Orleans tune, came about by chance. Barbara recalled: “We were just clowning around with it during a session using drumsticks on ashtrays. We didn’t realise that Jerry [Leiber] and Mike [Stoller] had the tapes running.” The producers simply overdubbed percussion and a bassline, and the recording became a big hit. It was also the trio’s final run at the charts.

The Hawkins sisters continued to perform, with others filling in for Joan, until the end. In 2005, they were among those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Poignant fact:  Their #1 hit Chapel Of Love was originally written for The Ronettes, whose lead singer we lost a day after the passing of Rosa Lee. The Ronettes’ own version isn’t great.

The Last Venture
With the death at 88 of Don Wilson, all members of the classic line-up of the pioneering guitar band The Ventures are gone. Bassist Bob Bogle, who co-founded the band with rhythm guitarist Wilson, died in 2009; lead guitarist Nokie Edwards in 2018, and drummer Mel Taylor in 1996.

Wilson and Bogle were the only constants in the band’s line-up; after Bogle left in 2005, Wilson carried on for another ten years. The Ventures are still a going concern, with drummer Leon Taylor the longest-serving current member, after he succeeded Mel Taylor upon his death in 1996.

The Songwriting Legend
There have been several successful husband-and-wife songwriting teams: Alan and Marilyn Bergman stand among the best of them. Now Marilyn has died at 93, leaving Alan widowed after 63 years of marriage at the age of 96. Just a few days before Marylin’s death, Sydney Poitier died; the Bergmans had written the lyrics for Quincy Jones’ title track for Poitier’s landmark film In The Heat Of The Night. As lyricists, they had to work with composers; often it was with Michel Legrand, who died in January 2019.

The Bergmans’ classics include Sinatra’s Nice ‘N Easy, The Windmills of Your Mind, What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?, Steisand’s The Way We Were, Neil Diamond’s You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, James Ingram & Patti Austin’s How Do You Keep the Music Playing?, Steven Bishop’s It Might Be You, and Michael Jackson’s Someone In the Dark (from the E.T. album).

The Funk Voice
Before there was the Parliament-Funkadelic funk collective, there was the doo wop and soul group The Parliaments, comprising George Clinton, Ray Davis, Grady Thomas, Fuzzy Haskins, and Calvin Simon, who has died at 79. The band had been recording since the late 1960s, though with limited success. Shortly after Simon has to leave the band as he was drafted into the army in 1966 to fight in Vietnam, Clinton lost the right to the name The Parliaments in a record label dispute. Instead he founded Funkadelic, and in 1970 the singular, article-free Parliament. For the latter he roped in his old buddies, including Simon.

They had big success throughout the 1970s, but disputes with Clinton led to Simon, Thomas and Haskins splitting in the early 1980s. After releasing one album under the confusing moniker Funkadelic, the trio settled on being The Original P. Calvin Simon later got involved in gospel music.

The White Motown Man
Among the many Motown chart-toppers there as a white face: R. Dean Taylor, who had a global hit in 1970 with Indiana Wants Me. Three years earlier, the Canadian-born singer and songwriter enjoyed a UK hit with There’s A Ghost In My House, co-written with Holland-Dozier-Holland. Taylor co-wrote a number of songs for other Motown artists, such as the Four Tops’ I Turn To Stone, and was part of the short-lived Motown production team The Clan, whose credits include The Supremes’ Love Child.

The Country Writer
Better known as a songwriter in country music, Dallas Frazier was also a singer of some repute, with his often R&B-inflected style. Still, he wasn’t the first to record his most famous composition, There Goes My Everything. The first version of that was recorded by his pal and mentor Ferlin Husky (see The Originals – 1960s Vol. 2) before it became a hit for Jackie Greene and then for Elvis Presley and Engelbert Humperdinck. He also wrote Son Of Hickory Holler’s Tramp, which was recorded to great effect by soul singer O.C. Smith and Merle Haggard. Other hits the former child-starlet wrote include Alley Oop for the The Hollywood Argyles, Huskey’s Timber I’m Falling, All I Have To Offer You (Is Me) for Charley Pride, Elvira for the Oak Ridge Boys (originally recorded by Frasier in 1966), and Beneath Still Waters for Emmylou Harris. George Jones held Frasier in such high esteem that he recorded an entire album of his compositions — alas, he never recorded There Goes My Everything, a song that would have been perfect for Jones. [Edit: Reader J.Loslo points out that he did, in 2008. It’s not as good as one might have hoped.]

Frasier, who described himself as a “Grapes of Wrath kid”, referring to the dustbowl trek from Oklahoma to California which his family undertook when he was an infant, retired from music in 1988 to become a preacher.

The A-Teamer
As a pianist in the elite Nashville session collective The A-Team, Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins played on countless country hit records over a period of 60 years. These include George Jones’ 1957 breakthrough hit White Lightning, Patsy Cline’s I Fall To Pieces, Roger Miller’s King Of The Road and Dang Me, Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton’s Last Thing On My Mind, Charley Pride’s Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’, Charlie Rich’s The Most Beautiful Girl, Dolly Parton’s Jolene, I Will Always Love You and Early Morning Breeze, and Kenny Roger’s The Gambler,  She Believes In Me and Coward Of The County, and countless more.

When non-country artists came to Nashville, the blind pianist would play for them too, most notably on Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde album. Other acts he recorded with include Arthur Alexander (including on Anna), Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot, J. J. Cale, Elvis Presley, Levon Helm, Don McLean, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Hallyday, Ray Charles, Neil Young, k.d. lang, Aaron Neville, Mark Knopfler, Elvis Costello, and others.

Robbins later couldn’t recall much about playing on Dylan’s masterpiece, other than Rainy Day Woman (apparently, and you won’t believe this, everybody did get stoned). He couldn’t remember playing on the sessions for tracks like Just Like A Woman or Stuck Inside Of Mobile…

Dylan’s Electric Drummer
The day before Robbins left us, Bob Dylan lost another musician from those days in blues drummer Sam Lay, who was on the drums when Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival. Lay had played on the title track of his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited.

By then Lay had already earned himself a reputation by backing blues giants such as Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf, for whom he drummed on the original version of The Red Rooster (later known as Little Red Rooster) and Goin’ Down Slow. Lay also backed acts like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Magic Sam.

The Hall of Fame Drummer
The day after Lay, another Hall of Fame drummer departed. The death at 96 by Philip Paul brings to an end a career that started in 1938, when as a 13-year-old he played in his father’s jazz band in New York. In the 1940s he played with jazz greats like Arthur Prysock, Buddy Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie, and in the 1950s became a session drummer on King Records.

On King, he played on classics such as Little Willie John’s Fever, Charles Brown’s Please Come Home For Christmas, Tiny Bradshaw’s Train Kept A-Rollin’, Wynonie Harris’ Good Rockin Tonight, Freddie King’s Hide Away and Tore Down, and Hank Ballard’s The Twist, thereby virtually inventing the twist beat (like Fever, its story features in The Originals: Rock & Roll Years). He also backed acts like John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Jimmy Smith, Nat Adderley, and Herbie Mann. And he was part of the Meriwether Trio.

Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, once said of Philip Paul: “If someone were to try to isolate the single heartbeat of the early days of rock and roll, as it transitions from ‘race music’ to ‘rhythm & blues’ to whatever you want to call what early rock and roll is, that heartbeat is Philip. [He is] the thread that runs through so much of the important music of that period.”

The Pop Songwriter
And the day after Dallas Frasier, another hit songwriter signed off in Jon Lind, who co-wrote hits such as Earth, Wind & Fire’s Boogie Wonderland, Madonna’s Crazy For You, Vanessa Williams’ Save The Best For Last, or Mica Paris’ Whisper A Prayer. As a musician, Lind was a member of soft-rock trio Howdy Moon (with the late Valerie Carter) and later The Fifth Avenue Band, in between releasing solo records, though to no great effect. Later he became a record label executive, serving as executive producer for acts like the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez.

The BST Arranger
At first, Dick Halligan played the trombone for Blood, Sweat & Tears, but after Al Kooper left following the debut album, he became the group’s keyboardist/pianist. He also arranged many of their songs, and wrote a few, before leaving BST in 1971. He also arranged for others, such as Buckingham Nicks and England Dan & John Ford Coley. He also was a composer of film scores, jazz tracks, and chamber music. As part of BS&T, Halligan also played at Woodstock, which will become a reference point shortly.

The Tabla Player
Born in East-Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Badal Roy was playing the tabla, a pair of Indian twin-hand drums, in a New York City restaurant when he came to Miles Davis’ notice. Roy had been into jazz ever since he had seen Duke Ellington play in his home country in 1963, so when Davis invited him to play on his 1972 album On The Corner (on which James Mtume appeared as well), he knew what to do. He’d play on several more Davis albums and was also part of his live act.

Badal, who also played other percussion instruments, released several albums under his own name, and backed acts such as Ornette Coleman, Herbie Mann, Lonnie Liston Smith, Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Andreas Vollenweider, Charlie Haden, Yoko Ono and Richie Havens.

The Woodstock Man
Concert promoters don’t usually get listed in this series, but Michael Lang, who has died at 77, deserves a mention as the initiator and co-organiser of the Woodstock Music & Art Festival in 1969 (which was treated here on its 50th anniversary). The then-25-year-old had enjoyed success with a previous festival near Miami, the 1968 Pop & Underground Festival, which had included in its line-up Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, and others.

After Woodstock, Lang was roped in at an advanced stage by The Rolling Stones to help organise the ill-fated Altamont festival (he can be seen on stage during the Jefferson Starship scuffle in the film Gimme Shelter). He also organised the similarly ill-fated Woodstock ‘99 festival, and the iteration five years earlier.

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.

Stephen J. Lawrence, 82, composer for Sesame Street, on Dec. 30
Sesame Street – Fuzzy And Blue (And Orange) (1981, as co-writer)

Nick Colionne, jazz guitarist, on Jan. 1
Nick Colionne – Slammin’ (2014)

Mighty Bomber, 93, Trinidad and Tobago calypso singer, on Jan. 1
The Mighty Bomber – Gloria (1962)

Traxamillion, 42, hip hop producer, on Jan. 2

Kenny J, 69, Trinidad and Tobago calypso and soca parang singer, on Jan. 2

Ana Bejerano, 60, singer Spanish vocal group Mocedades, on Jan. 2

Jay Weaver, 42, bassist of band Big Daddy Weave, on Jan. 2

María Mérida, 96, Spanish folk singer, on Jan. 4
María Mérida – Camino de Tunte (1955)

Andrzej Nowak, 62, guitarist of Polish rock collective TSA, on Jan. 4

Jessie Daniels, 58, singer with soul band Force MD’s, on Jan. 4
Force M.D.’s – Tender Love (1985, on lead vocals)

Calvin Simon, 79, singer with Parliament-Funkadelic, on Jan. 6
The Parliaments – Party Boys (1959)
The Parliaments – Heart Trouble (1965)
Parliament – Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) (1975)

Yoram Taharlev, 83, Israeli songwriter, on Jan. 6

Clive Zanda, 82, Trinidad and Tobago jazz musician, on Jan. 6

Dean Taylor, 82, Canadian country singer-songwriter and producer, on Jan. 7
R. Dean Taylor – There’s A Ghost In My House (1967)
Diana Ross & The Supremes – Love Child (1969, as co-producer)
R. Dean Taylor – Indiana Wants Me (1970)

Bobby Harrison, 82, English rock drummer and singer, on Jan. 7
The Freedom – Where Will You Be Tonight (1968, as member)

Marc Dé Hugar, 52, guitarist of Australian glam metal band Candy Harlots, on Jan. 7
Candy Harlots – Danger (1990)

Koady Chaisson, 37, banjoist of Canadian roots band The East Pointers, on Jan. 7
The East Pointers – Last Blank Page (2015, also as co-writer)

Harpdog Brown, 59, Canadian blues musician, on Jan. 7

Michael Lang, 77, co-creator of Woodstock, on Jan. 8
Joni Mitchell – Woodstock (1970)

Marilyn Bergman, 93, songwriter, on Jan. 8
Frank Sinatra – Nice n’ Easy (1960, as co-writer)
Quincy Jones feat. Ray Charles – In The Heat Of The Night (1967, as co-writer)
Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You (1982, as co-writers)

James Mtume, 76, soul-funk musician and songwriter, on Jan. 9
Miles Davis – Black Satin (1972, on percussions)
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Closer I Get To You (1977, as writer)
Mtume – So You Wanna Be A Star (1980)

Garry Bradbury, 62, Australian electronic musician, announced Jan. 10

Khan Jamal, 75, jazz vibraphonist, on Jan. 10
Sounds Of Liberation – New Life (1972, as founder-member)

Gerry Granahan, 89, singer, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 10
Dicky Doo and the Don’ts – Leave Me Alone (Let Me Cry) (1958, as singer and co-writer)

Burke Shelley, 71, Welsh bassist-singer of hard rock band Budgie, on Jan. 10
Budgie – Whisky River (1972)
Budgie – I Turned To Stone (1981)

Bruce Anderson, founder and guitarist of art-rock band MX-80, on Jan. 11
MX-80 – Someday You’ll Be King (1980)

Martin Carrizo, 50, Argentine drummer, on Jan. 11

Vince Fontaine, 60, founder of Canadian First Nations rock group Eagle & Hawk, on Jan. 11
Eagle & Hawk – Sundancer (2004)

Jordi Sabatés, 73, Spanish pianist and film composer, on Jan. 11

Jerry Crutchfield, 87, country songwriter, producer (esp. Tanya Tucker), music exec, on Jan. 11
Brenda Lee – My Whole World Is Falling Down (1963, as co-writer)
Dave Loggins – Please Come To Boston (1974, as producer)

Rosa Lee Hawkins, 77, singer with R&B trio The Dixie Cups, on Jan. 11
The Dixie Cups – You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me (1964)
The Dixie Cups – Iko Iko (1964, also as co-writer)

Ronnie Spector, 78, singer of The Ronettes, on Jan. 12
The Ronettes – Baby I Love You (1963)
Ronnie Spector – Try Some, Buy Some (1971)
Ronnie Spector – Love On A Rooftop (1987)

Peter Welker, 79, jazz-funk musician, on Jan. 12

Fred Parris, 85, lead singer of doo wop group The Five Satins and songwriter, on Jan. 13
The Five Satins – In The Still Of The Night (1956, also as writer)
Fred Parris and The Satins – Let Me Be The Last One (1982)

Sonny Turner, 83, lead singer of The Platters (1959-70), on Jan. 13
The Platters – With This Ring (1966)

Marty Roberts, 89, half of lounge duo Marty & Elayne, on Jan. 13

Fred Van Hove, 84, Belgian jazz musician, on Jan. 13

Vince ‘Lil’ Nation’/’CPO Boss Hogg’ Edwards, 52, rapper, announced Jan. 13
CPO – Ballad Of A Menace (1990, also as co-writer)

Sad Frosty, 24, rapper, on Jan. 14

Greg Webster, 84, drummer of funk band Ohio Players (1963-74), on Jan. 14
The Ohio Players – Neighbors (1967)

Dallas Frazier, 82, American country musician and songwriter, on Jan. 14
Dallas Frazier – Elvira (1965, also as writer)
O.C. Smith – Son Of Hickory Holler’s Tramp (1968, as writer)
The Holmes Brothers – There Goes My Everything (1993, as writer)

Dan Einstein, 61, executive producer, Oh Boy label founder, on Jan. 15

Jon Lind, 73, songwriter, producer, musician, on Jan. 15
Howdy Moon – Cheyenne Autumn (1974, as member and writer)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Sun Goddess (1975, as co-writer)

Rachel Nagy, singer and pianist of garage rock band Detroit Cobras, announced Jan. 15
The Detroit Cobras – Midnight Blues (1998)

Carmela Corren, 83, Israeli-born German-based singer, on Jan. 16

Karim Ouellet, 37, Senegalese- Canadian singer-songwriter, on Jan. 17
Karim Ouellet – Marie-Jo (2012)

Armando Gama, 67, Portuguese singer-songwriter, on Jan. 17

Dick Halligan, 78, keyboardist of Blood, Sweat & Tears, arranger, film composer, on Jan. 18
Blood, Sweat & Tears – Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie (1968, on flute, also as arranger)
Blood, Sweat & Tears – Lisa, Listen To Me (1971, also as writer)
Buckingham Nicks – Crying In The Night (1973, as arranger)

Freddie Hughes, 79, soul singer, on Jan. 18
Freddie Hughes – Send My Baby Back (1968)

Badal Roy, 77, Bangladesh-born tabla player, percussionist, on Jan. 18
Miles Davis – Rated X (1974, on tabla; also featuring James Mtume)
Badal Roy, Geoff Warren, Marcello Sebastiani – Courante (2006)

Héctor “Tito” Matos, 53, Puerto Rican percussionist, on Jan. 18
Viento De Agua – Fiesta De Plena (1998, on lead vocals and congas)

Elza Soares, 91, Brazilian samba singer, on Jan. 20
Elza Soares – Se Acaso Você Chegasse (1958)
Elza Soares – Mulata Assanhada (1968)
Elza Soares – Rainha dos Sete Mares (1976)
Elza Soares – O Que Se Cala (2018)

Tom Smith, 65, avant garde musician (To Live and Shave in L.A.), on Jan. 20

Meat Loaf, 74, rock singer, on Jan. 20
Stoney & Meatloaf – Jimmy Bell (1971)
Meat Loaf – Dead Ringer For Love (1981)
Meat Loaf – Bad For Good (2006)

Emil Mangelsdorff, 96, German jazz musician, on Jan. 20

Piero Parodi, 86, Italian folk singer, on Jan. 21

Don Wilson, 88, guitarist with The Ventures, on Jan. 22
The Ventures – Ram Bunk Shush (1961)
The Ventures – Scat In The Dark (1970)

Clive Robin Sarstedt, 78, English singer, on Jan. 22
Robin Sarstedt – My Resistance Is Low (1976)

Hartmut Becker, 83, German actor and singer-songwriter, on Jan. 22

Beegie Adair, 84, jazz pianist, on Jan. 23
Beegie Adair – Tangerine (2003)

Boris Pfeiffer, 53, piper in German medieval metal band In Extremo, on Jan. 24
In Extremo – Erdbeermund (2003)

Osvaldo Peredo, 91, Argentine tango singer, on Jan. 24

Fredrik Johansson, 47, guitarist of Swedish death metal band Dark Tranquility, on Jan. 25

Janet Mead, 83, Australian singer and nun, on Jan. 26
Sister Janet Mead – The Lord’s Prayer (1973)

Kenneth Wannberg, 91, film composer and sound editor, on Jan. 26

Diego Verdaguer, 70, Argentine singer-songwriter, on Jan. 27

Sam Lay, 86, blues and rock session drummer, on Jan. 29
Howlin’ Wolf – Going Down Slow (1962, on drums)
Sam Lay – Maggie’s Farm (1968)

Philip Paul, 96, session drummer on Jan. 30
Tiny Bradshaw – The Train Kept A-Rollin’ (1951, on drums)
Hank Ballard & The Midnighters – The Twist (1959, on drums)
Philip Paul – We 3 Plus 1 (2003)

Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins, 84, country pianist, on Jan. 30
Bob Dylan – Rainy Day Women # 12 & 36 (1966, on piano)
Charlie Rich – The Most Beautiful Girl (1974, on piano)
Ween – I’m Holding You (1996, on piano)

Norma Waterson, 82, member of English folk band The Watersons, on Jan. 30
Norma Waterson – God Loves A Drunk (1996)

Alejandro Alonso, 69, Mexican Christian music singer and guitarist, on Jan. 31

Jimmy Johnson, 93, blues & soul singer and guitarist, announced on Jan. 31
Jimmie Johnson – Little By Little (1983)

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In Memoriam – December 2021

January 4th, 2022 5 comments

The Reaper was busy in December, in music as well as in other fields (Desmond Tutu! Betty White!). One singer on this list featured on two mixes here in the last few months. Canadian singer Renée Martel, who has died at 74, appeared on The Beatles in French Vol. 1 (with her take on The Night Before) and Vol. 2 (with Good Day Sunshine). The Humblebums, whose lead guitarist Tam Harvey has died, were completed by Gerry Rafferty, soon to become big with Stealers Wheel and later his mega-hit Baker Street, and Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Another track here set a world record: hip hop outfit UTFO, whose Kangol Kid has died at 55, had a hit with Roxanne Roxanne which provoked a record 25 answer records, in what has become known as “The Roxanne Wars”.

Revisit the In Memoriam series to review who left us in the past year.

The Reluctant Monkee
With the death at 78 of Michael Nesmith, there’s only one Monkee left, Micky Dolenz. Davy Jones departed in 2012, Peter Tork in 2019. Of the four, Nesmith always looked like the one who least gave a shit about The Monkees, which probably had as much to do with his frustration at being denied musical input as it did with his natural nonchalance. Half the time, he looked like he had no idea what on earth he was doing there. And yet, once in a while, his talent for improvisation would be allowed to shine through.

Behind the scenes, he wasn’t quite so nonchalant when it came to the broken promises about his musical input. Dolenz recalled that Nesmith’s exasperation once found expression in a hole, punched into a wall. Nesmith was a fine songwriter; his Different Drums even featured in a Monkees episode, albeit in a comedic manner (he slaughters it on stage). Shortly after, it became a hit for Linda Ronstadt’s Stone Poneys.

Nesmith went on to influence the country-rock scene (some obits exaggerated when they claimed he virtually invented it) with his Second National Band. Perhaps his best work was his 1972 acoustic album And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, on which he finally recorded his own version of Different Drum (the featured track, with Red Rhodes on pedal steel, is from that set). It’s well worth seeking out. As is its critically panned and commercially rejected album Tantamount To Treason, which proves that critics can be fools.

The Bass Producer
With drummer Sly Dunbbar, bass player Robbie Shakespeare formed the rhythm section of the pivotal reggae band Black Uhuru during its glory days from 1979 to 1987. They also recorded together as Sly & Robbie. But Shakespeare and Dunbar made their greatest impact as producers of acts like Grace Jones (including Pull Up to the Bumper), Gwen Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Ian Dury, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, Serge Gainsbourg, No Doubt, Simply Red and more. Obviously they also produced a who-is-who of reggae, such as Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Sugar Minott, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Ini Kamoze, Yellowman, The Mighty Diamonds, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man, and more.

A few days after Shakespeare, Black Uhuru co-founder Garth Dennis passed away; none of his terms in the band coincided with Shakespeare’s. But as 2021 was fading out, guitarist Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung, who played on many Shakespeare productions (including the Grace Jones, Peter Tosh and Gwen Guthrie ones), died at the age of 71.

The Voice
For a long time in the 1960s and ’70s, soul singer Joe Simon was a frequent visitor to the US charts, with his distinctive low tenor voice (which might take some getting used to). He started out as a gospel singer before becoming a secular southern soul singer in the 1960s. Like colleagues such as Brook Benton, Simon would occasionally drift into the world of country music — almost naturally, since he was based in Nashville. One of his biggest hits was 1969’s The Chokin’ Kind, written by country songwriter Harlan Howard. Another example is the featured version of Simon’s cover of  Eddy Arnold’s country classic Misty Blue.

In the 1970s, Simon had the good fortune of becoming an early client of the great Gamble & Huff production team, which updated his sound to great effect (check out his I Found My Fad on the Any Major Fathers Vol. 2 mix). As the 1970s turned into the ‘80s, Simon returned to his gospel roots and became a singing evangelical preacher.

The Marvelette
With the death of Wanda Young, both lead singers of Motown pioneers The Marvelettes are gone. Gladys Horton, who took the lead on the group’s early hits, died in 2011. It was Horton who got her friend Young to join her band, called The Marvels, just as Motown was signing them. At first Horton took the lead vocals (such as on Please Mr Postman or Beechwood 4-5789), then she shared lead with Young on songs like Locking Up My Heart and Too Many Fish In The Sea. From 1965, Young (by now going by her married name Rogers) became the principal singer, taking the lead on hits like I’ll Keep Holding On, Don’t Mess With Bill, The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game, When You’re Young And In Love and My Baby Must Be A Magician.

The JB Drummer
Before James Brown had the mighty drummers Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks, he had the mighty Melvin Parker, brother of Maceo. And JB reckoned that Melvin was the best drummer he’d had. Up against Stubblefield and Jabo, that’s a huge compliment.

You can hear Parker on tracks like I Feel Good, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, and Out Of Sight. Then Parker was drafted into the army and left the J.B.s. He returned briefly in 1969/70, but soon left and joined his brother in Maceo & All the King’s Men. In 1976 he briefly returned one more time to Brown, playing on his hit Get Up Offa That Thing.

The Smokie
English pop band Smokie produced some real stinkers in their time, but some of those Chinnichap RAK songs deserve rehabilitation. Living Next Door To Alice has been sent up repeatedly (especially with the 1995 “Who the fuck is Alice?” remix), but is a catchy number. And tracks like Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone, I’ll Meet You At Midnight, If You Think You Know How To Love Me, and Don’t Play Your Rock ‘N Roll To Me are well-crafted pop music, wordy titles notwithstanding. And their harmonies were pretty good. The four members also seemed like perfectly nice guys who always had time for their fans.

Bassist Terry Uttley, who has died at 70, with his white-man afro seemed the most affable of the lot. After his wife Shirley became ill with cancer, he became a fundraiser for cancer charities. Exactly a month after her death on November 17, Terry Uttley died.

The Backing Singer-Songwriter
Even if you don’t know the name David Lasley, who has died at 74, you’ll probably have heard his high tenor voice on the backing vocals of various hits by Chic (such as Dance Dance Dance and Everybody Dance), Odyssey (such as Native New Yorker) or Sister Sledge (We Are Family, Lost In Music, He’d The Greatest Dancer, Thinking About You). He also backed acts like James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Garland Jeffreys, Boz Scaggs, Cher, Tim Curry, Valerie Carter, Aretha Franklin, Randy Crawford, Teddy Pendergrass, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Rita Coolidge, and especially his close friend Luther Vandross.

Lasley and Vandross did a lot of the back-up singing together, especially on the Chic collective’s songs. Luther did backing vocals on Lasley’s 1982 solo album. Among the songs on that set was the Lasley composition You Bring Me Joy, later covered by Anita Baker. Other songs Lasley wrote or co-wrote include Boz Scaggs’ JoJo, Randy Crawford’s Nightline, Chaka Khan’s Roll Me Through The Rushes, Maxine Nightingale’s Lead Me On, and more.

The Manager
Music managers don’t usually get included in this series, but I’ll make an exception for Ken Kragen, who has died at 85. A bit of an all-rounder — he was also an author and TV producer (such as for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour), among other things — Kragen managed various acts, especially from the country scene. In 1985, his charges included Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie when he was approached by Harry Belafonte to put together a charity concert to raise funds for the Ethiopian famine, following the efforts by Band Aid in the UK. Kragen didn’t think a concert would work — turns out, he was wrong — but suggested an all-star charity record in the style of Band Aid.

He got Quincy Jones to produce the record, and Kragen’s client Lionel Richie and Belafonte’s mate Michael Jackson wrote We Are The World. In the end, Kragen had to turn away stars who wanted to appear on the single, which was recorded on January 21, 1985, and released on March 7. It became the fastest-selling record in US history, despite being rather rubbish. A year later, Kragen organised the Hands Across America campaign to raise funds for hunger relief.

The Chant Guy
Especially if you follow football (or soccer), you’ll know the crowd’s chant of “olé, olé, olé”. Grand Jojo, the Belgian singer and songwriter who co-wrote and first recorded it, has died at 85. The chant first made its appearance on a 1985 record in honour of Brussel-based team RSC Anderlecht, titled Anderlecht Champions (Allez, Allez, Allez). Grand Jojo, whose Flemish records appeared under the moniker Lange Jojo, was best-known for drinking-type songs.

The Bradman Principle
It’s cruel when a beloved cultural icon dies less than three weeks short of their 100th birthday. So it was with TV actress Betty White. Long before she was famous for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, White hosted her own TV variety show in the 1950s on which she would sing popular songs. In fact, she was right there in the embryonic days of TV, in 1939. With her death, a bigger chunk of entertainment history than we might have thought has departed.

And the heading to this entry? Cricket fans will know. The greatest-ever batsman was an Australian player named Don Bradman (1908-2001). In his last-ever innings, he needed to score more than one run to finish off with the landmark test average of 100 (the greatest-ever players before and after after him had averages in the 60s or 50s). In his last innings, Bradman was bowled for 1 run, meaning he ended his career with the impressive yet agonising average of 99.94. It is a bit like Betty White bowing out less than three weeks before her centenary.

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.

Grand Jojo, 85, Belgian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 1
Grand Jojo – Anderlecht Champions (Allez, Allez, Allez) (1985)

Alvin Lucier, 90, experimental composer, on Dec. 1

Melvin Parker, 77, drummer for James Brown, on Dec. 2
James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
Maceo & All The King’s Men – I Want To Sing (1972, on drums)
James Brown – Get Up Offa That Thing (1976, on drums)

Stonewall Jackson, 89, country singer, on Dec. 4
Stonewall Jackson – Don’t Be Angry (1964)

Toni Santagata, 85, Italian folk singer, on Dec. 5

Bill Staines, 74, folk singer-songwriter, on Dec. 5
Bill Staines – Crossing The Water (1993)

Buddy Merrill, 85, easy listening steel guitarist, on Dec. 5

Enzo Restuccia, 80, Italian drummer, on Dec. 5

John Miles, 72, British singer-songwriter, on Dec. 5
John Miles – Music (1976)
John Miles – No Hard Feelings (1978)

Oleg Emirov, 51, Russian rock composer and keyboardist, on Dec. 5

János Kóbor, 78, lead singer of Hungarian prog-rock band Omega, on Dec. 6
Omega – Stormy Fire (1974)

Margaret Everly, 102, singer and mother of the Everly Brothers, on Dec. 6

Greg Tate, 64, founder & guitarist of jazz-rock collective Burnt Sugar, music critic, on Dec. 7
Burnt Sugar feat Julie Brown & Micah Gaugh – Throw Some Light (2017)

DJ Scholar, former MC of British grime outfit Ruff Sqwad, on Dec. 7

Robbie Shakespeare, 68, Jamaican bassist with Sly & Robbie, Black Uhuru, producer, on Dec. 8
Black Uhuru – Push Push (1980, as member on bass and co-producer)
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (1981, on bass)
Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982, on bass and as co-producer)
Sly & Robbie – Boops (1987)

Ralph Tavares, 79, singer with soul band Tavares, on Dec. 8
Tavares – It Only Takes A Minute (1975)
Tavares – Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel (1976)

Gil Bridges, 80, wind musician and vocalist with soul band Rare Earth, on Dec. 8
Rare Earth – Born To Wander (1970, on flute and backing vocals)
Rare Earth – I Just Want To Celebrate (1971)

Barry Harris, 91, jazz pianist, composer, arranger, on Dec. 8
Barry Harris Trio – Ladybird (1975)

Slim 400, 33, rapper, shot dead on Dec. 9

David Lasley, 74, singer, songwriter, backing singer, on Dec. 9
Chaka Khan – Roll Me Through The Rushes (1978, as writer and on backing vocals)
Boz Scaggs – JoJo (1980, as co-writer and on backing vocals)
David Lasley – You Bring Me Joy (1981, also as writer)

Steve Bronski, 61, Scottish keyboardist of Bronski Beat, announced on Dec. 9
Bronski Beat – Why? (1984, also as co-writer)

Garth Dennis, 72, Jamaican reggae musician with Black Uhuru, Wailing Souls, on Dec. 9
Garth Dennis – Slow Coach  (1974)
Wailing Soul – Soul & Power (1982, as member)

Michael Nesmith, 78, Monkees guitarist, singer-songwriter, on Dec. 10
The Monkees – The Girl I Knew Somewhere (1967, also as co-writer)
The Stone Poneys – Different Drum (1968, as writer)
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band – Joanne (1970)
Michael Nesmith – Two Different Roads (1972)

Les Emmerson, 77, singer of Canadian pop group Five Man Electrical Band, on Dec. 10
Five Man Electrical Band – I’m A Stranger Here (1972)

Thomas ‘Mensi’ Mensforth, singer of English punk band Angelic Upstarts, on Dec. 10
Angelic Upstarts – I’m An Upstart (1979)
Angelic Upstarts – Lust For Glory (1982)

Vicente Fernández, 81, Mexican singer and actor, on Dec. 12
Vicente Fernandez – Volver, Volver (1972)

Toby Slater, 42, singer-songwriter of Britpop band Catch, on Dec. 13
Catch – Dive In (1997)

Blackberri, 76, singer-songwriter, on Dec. 13

Joe Simon, 85, soul singer, on Dec.13
Joe Simon – Misty Blue (1969)
Joe Simon – Drowning In The Sea Of Love (1973)
Joe Simon – It’s Crying Time In Memphis (1975)

John Nolan, 55, guitarist of Australian punk rock band Bored!, Powder Monkeys, on Dec. 13

Phil Chen, 75, Jamaican bassist, on Dec. 14
Rod Stewart – I Was Only Joking (1977, on bass)

Ken Kragen, 85, music manager, on Dec. 14
USA For Africa – We Are The World (1985, as initiator)

Ian Worang, 47, guitarist and singer of Canadian alt.rock band Uncut, on Dec. 15
Uncut – Taken In Sleep (2004)

Leonard ‘Hub’ Hubbard, 62, bassist of The Roots (1992-2007), on Dec. 15
The Roots – What They Do (1996)

Flow La Movie, 38, Puerto Rican producer, in a plane crash on Dec. 15

Wanda Young, 78, lead singer of The Marvelettes, announced on Dec. 16
The Marvelettes – Don’t Mess With Bill (1965)
The Marvelettes – Destination Anywhere (1968)

Robie Porter, 80, Australian producer, singer and lap steel guitarist, on Dec. 16
Robie Porter – Here In My Arms (1966)
Air Supply – Lost In Love (1980, as co-producer)

Terry Uttley, 70, bass guitarist of English pop band Smokie, on Dec. 16
Smokie – Don’t Play Your Rock ‘n Roll To Me (1975)
Smokie – If You Think You Know How To Love Me (1976)

Meg Brazill, 69, bassist and singer of new wave trio Los Microwaves, on Dec. 16
Los Microwaves – T.V. In My Eye (1981)

John Morgan, 80, drummer of English novelty band The Wurzels, on Dec. 17

Vicente Feliú, 74, Cuban folk singer, on Dec. 17
Vicente Feliú – No sé quedarme (1985)

Lindsay Tebbutt, drummer of Australian rock band The Choirboys, on Dec. 17
Choirboys – Run To Paradise (1987)

Enzo Gusman, 74, Maltese singer, on Dec. 18

Tam Harvey, guitarist Scottish folk-rock band The Humblebums, on Dec. 18
The Humblebums – Shoeshine Boy (1969)

Renée Martel, 74, Canadian pop and country singer, on Dec. 18
Renée Martel – Liverpool (1969)

Kangol Kid, 55, rapper with hip hop outfit UTFO, on Dec. 18
U.T.F.O.  – Roxanne, Roxanne (1984)

Drakeo the Ruler, 28, rapper, stabbed to death on Dec. 19

Billy Conway, 65, drummer of Indie rock band Morphine, on Dec. 19
Morphine – Honey White (1995)

Carlos Marín, 53, German-born Spanish baritone with Il Divo, on Dec.19
Il Divo – Wicked Game (Melanconia) (2011)

Elio Roca, 78, Argentine singer and actor, on Dec. 19

Emil Ramsauer, 103, double bassist with Swiss Eurovision band Takasa, on Dec. 20

Paul Mitchell, singer with soul band The Floaters (“Leo, and my name is Paul”), on Dec. 20
The Floaters – I Am So Glad I Took My Time (1977)

Luboš Andršt, 73, Czech rock guitarist, on Dec. 20

Anthony Williams, 90, Trinidadian steelpan musician, on Dec. 21

Nkodo Sitony, 62, Cameroonian bikutsi singer, on Dec. 21

Robin Le Mesurier, 68, British session guitarist, on Dec. 22
Rod Stewart – Every Beat Of My Heart (1986, on guitar)

Marco Mathieu, 57, bassist of Italian punk band Negazione, on Dec. 24

J.D. Crowe, 84, bluegrass banjo player and band leader of New South, on Dec. 24
J.D. Crowe & The New South – Old Home Place (1975)

Oscar López Ruiz, 83, Argentine composer, producer and guitarist, on Dec. 24

Harvey Evans, 80, musicals actor (West Side Story, Mary Poppins), on Dec. 24
Harvey Evans & Joel Grey – All Our Friends (1968)

Janice Long, 66, English disc jockey, on Dec. 25

Guenshi Ever, Beninese singer, on Dec. 25

 ‘Le Général’ Defao, 62, Congolese rhumba singer-songwriter, on Dec. 27
Defao – Amour scolaire (1992)

Raymond Fau, 85, French singer-songwriter, on Dec. 27

Pavel Chrastina, 81, bassist, singer, songwriter with Czech rock group Olympic, on Dec. 28

Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung, 71, Jamaican guitarist and arranger, on Dec. 28
Mike Chung & The Now Generation – Breezing (1972)
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (1981, on guitar; see Robbie Shakespeare)
Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982, on guitar; see Robbie Shakespeare)

Rosa Lee Brooks, soul singer, on December 28

Paolo Giordano, 59, Italian guitarist, on Dec. 29

Betty White, 99, actress, comedian, occasional singer, on Dec. 31
Betty White – Nevertheless (I’m In Love With You) (1954)
Luciana feat. Betty White – I’m Still Hot (2011)

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In Memoriam – November 2021

December 2nd, 2021 4 comments

The Reaper has eased off after a hectic few months. Still, in November he took some musicians who have appeared on songs most of us will profess to love, and he claimed one of Brazil’s brightest talents in a tragic air crash. Personally, I was most saddened by the passing of UB40’s Astro, who was the best thing about the band’s concert I saw back in the 1980s. Remarkably, there was casualty from the world of country music; I hazard to guess that in the long time I’ve done this series — some 11 years — this might be a first.

The Moody Blue
The Moody Blues are probably best remembered for the classic hit Nights In White Satin. With its orchestral arrangement, which in 1967 was still a novelty in rock, the English band’s hit exercised a great influence on other groups. Another pioneering prog rock device was their use of spoken poetry. These poems were written by drummer Graeme Edge, who has died at 80. Apparently the band thought his poetry was a bit too rambling to work as song lyrics.

Edge remained with the band for most of its run, which as a recording concern ended in 2003 and as a live act in 2015. In the 1970s, he took some time out — by his own account, to decompress from his own sense of self-importance — and formed the Graeme Edge Band with Paul and Adam Gurvitz.

The Stage Writer
I’ll be honest about Stephen Sondheim, the musicals lyricist who has died at 91: other than the obvious stuff — West Side Story, Send In The Clowns, bits and pieces of other musicals and films — I know very little about him or his craft. And other than West Side Story, I’m rather lacking in exposure and knowledge to it. At the same time, there are people whose musical judgment I fully respect who swear by Sondheim’s genius. There are those who even argue that Sondheim was our epoch’s Shakespeare.

And when I listen more closely to his lyrics, I can see their point. Aside from the obvious knack for a good turn of phrase, without which nobody would bring up Shakespeare, he also was also courageous and even subversive. The song America from West Side Story is as strong an indictment of US society as you could accommodate in a musical in the 1950s. And Officer Krupke from the same musical include references to drugs, junkies, transvestites and venereal disease, hardly staple subjects for 1950s society.

I suspect that I might be well served to investigate Sondheim’s catalogue with greater attention.

The Wailers’ Percussionist
As its percussionist, Alvin ‘Seeco’ Patterson, who has died at 90, was integral to the sound of Bob Marley & The Wailers in their most commercial phase. He played on all albums, from 1973’s Catch A Fire to Confrontation, released in 1983 after Marley’s death. It’s safe to say that Seeco played on all of the tracks of the ubiquitous Legend compilation. It was also the older Seeco who took the unknown Wailers to their first recording session in 1964 and encouraged the young Bob Marley to become a lead singer.

His friendship with Marley lasted till the singer’s death in 1981. Seeco was there when gunmen tried to assassinate Marley; and when Bob battled cancer, Seeco was constantly at his side. After Bob’s death, Seeco — who was born in Cuba of a Jamaican father and Panamaian mother — continued playing with The Wailers, only rarely doing session work outside.

The Backing Singer
Evette Benton never put out a record under her own name, as far as I know — but you’ll have heard her voice as a backing singer on many hit records. As part of a session trio named the Sweethearts of Sigma, or just The Sweeties, with Barbara Ingram (whom we lost in 1994) and Carla Benson, Benton sung on soul classics such as — deep breath in — Billy Paul’s Me And Mrs Jones and Let’s Make A Baby; on The Spinners’ Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, I’ll Be Around, Ghetto Child, You Make Me Feel Brand New, They Just Can’t Stop It The (Games People Play) and The Rubberband Man; The Manhattans’ Hurt and Kiss And Say Goodbye; Major Harris’ Love Won’t Let Me Wait; Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes’ Don’t Leave Me This Way and Wake Up Everybody; The Trammps’ Disco Inferno; Lou Rawls’ Lay Love and Tradewinds; The O’Jays’ Use Ta Be My Girl and Brandy; Bell & James’ Livin’ It Up (Friday Night); Michael McDonald & Patti LaBelle’s On My Own, and more. That’s aside of her work on many great soul albums, especially those produced for Philly Soul label PIR.

And while she was appearing on hundreds of records, she also worked as a special education teacher and later became director of a pre-school program in Camden, New Jersey, the town where she and her fellow Sweeties hailed from.

The GAP Man
With the death of Ronnie Wilson, only one of the three brothers who made up The Gap Band survives. A multi-instrumentalist, Ronnie was responsible for the trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, synthesizer and percussion. He was also the leading songwriter in the group.

The band’s name is a reference to the Tulsa Riots, the pogrom against African-Americans in the 1920s in the Oklahoma city. The word “Gap” is an acronym of the three worst-affected streets in the racist pogrom: Greenwood, Archer and Pine.

The Reggae Rapper
When it came out, I loved UB40s Red Red Wine, even though it was a departure from their edgier old sound. As it is with the eponymous liquid, too much of a good think isn’t good, and with it being overplayed I came to dislike the song. With the death of UB40’s MC Astro at only 64, I listened to their cover of Red Red Wine again — and found it’s actually a pretty good record, immeasurably enhanced by Astro’s rap.

On stage, Astro was as much frontman as his friend and lead singer Ali Campbell. Behind the scenes, according to a friend of mine who knew him, Astro — real name Terence Wilson — was a gentle soul who kept in touch with his bandmate even after UB40 split amid acrimony. The death of the UB40 co-founder came less than three months after that of UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers.

And the nickname? Apparently it came from the name of a pair of Doc Martens boots he wore, named Astronauts.

The Brazilian Superstar
In Brazil, singer-songwriter Marília Mendonça, who has died at 26 in an air crash, was a sensation and possibly the country’s biggest female singing star, selling multi-platinum records and providing women with a voice through many of her songs. In 2019 she won a Latin Grammy for best sertanejo album.

On November 5, Mendonça entered an air taxi with her uncle/manager and three others. They never reached Caratinga, their destination. The singer leaves behind her husband and a 22-months-old child.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.

Alvin ‘Seeco’ Patterson, 90, Cuban-born Jamaican percussionist, on Nov. 1
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Trenchtown Rock (Live) (1975, as member)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus (1977, as member)

Pat Martino, 77, jazz guitarist and composer, on Nov. 1
Pat Martino – Along Came Betty (1974)

Emmett Chapman, 85, jazz musician, inventor of Chapman Stick, on Nov. 1
Emmett Chapman – Back Yard (1985)

Ronnie Wilson, 73, member of funk group The Gap Band, on Nov. 2
The Gap Band – I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head).mp3 (1979)
The Gap Band – Big Fun (1986)

Ernest Wilson, 69, Jamaican reggae singer, on Nov. 2
Ernest Wilson – Let True Love Be (1976)

Declan Mulligan, 83, Irish-born member of rock group Beau Brummels, on Nov. 2
The Beau Brummels – Laugh, Laugh (1964, on rhythm guitar and harmonica)

Georgie Dann, 81, French party songs singer, on Nov. 3

Marília Mendonça, 26, Brazilian singer-songwriter, in air crash on Nov. 5
Marília Mendonça – Sentimento Louco (2015)
Marília Mendonça – Ciumeira (2019)

Beldina Odenyo Onassis, 31, Kenyan-Scottish singer-songwriter and musician, on Nov. 5

Andy Barker, 53, member of British electronic group 808 State, on Nov. 6
808 State – In Yer Face (1991)

Maureen Cleave, 87, British journalist (Lennon’s ‘more popular than Jesus’ interview), on Nov. 6

Astro, 64, singer, rapper and musician with UB40, on Nov. 6
UB40 – One In Ten (1981)
UB40 – Red Red Wine (1986, also on rap)

Evette Benton, 68, soul backing singer, on Nov. 6
The Spinners – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (1973, on backing vocals)
Major Harris – Love Won’t Let Me Wait (1976, on backing vocals; moans by Barbara Ingram)
Teddy Pendergrass – All I Need Is You (1979, on backing vocals)

Barry Coope, singer with English folk trio Coope, Boyes & Simpson, on Nov. 6
Coope, Boyes & Simpson – We Got Fooled Again (2010)

Bopol Mansiamina, 72, Congolese singer, musician, composer, producer, on Nov. 7
4 Stars Etoiles – Mayanga (1985, as member and writer)

Kōzō Suganuma, 62, Japanese jazz drummer, on Nov. 8

Margo Guryan, 84, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 8
Margo Guryan – Sunday Mornin’ (1968, also as writer)

Edgardo Gelli, 86, Italian singer, in car crash on Nov. 8

Sean Higgins, 68, synth player and songwriter, on Nov. 9
Australian Crawl – Things Don’t Seem (1981, as member and co-writer)

Mike ‘Bones’ Gersema, rock drummer, on Nov. 10
L.A. Gun – Face Down (1994, as member and co-writer)

Miroslav Žbirka, 69, singer, songwriter of Czechoslovakian rock band Modus, on Nov. 10

Spike Heatley, 88, British jazz and rock double bassist, on Nov. 10
Donovan – Sunshine Superman (1966, on double-bass)
C.C.S. – Whole Lotta Love (1970, as member on bass)

Graeme Edge, 80, drummer of The Moody Blues, songwriter, poet, on Nov. 11
The Moody Blues – Go Now (1964)
The Moody Blues – You And Me (1972, also as writer)
Graeme Edge Band feat. Adrian Gurvitz – Down, Down, Down (1977, also as writer)

Mark Gillespie, Australian singer-songwriter, on Nov. 11

John Goodsall, 68, British rock guitarist with Brand-X, on Nov. 11
Brand X – Euthanasia Waltz (1976, as member)

Greg Mayne, 67, bassist of heavy metal band Pentagram, on Nov. 13

Joe Siracusa, 99, drummer with Spike Jones and His City Slickers, on Nov. 13
Spike Jones and His City Slickers – Yes We Have No Bananas (1950, also on backing vocals)

Philip Margo, 79, singer with vocal group The Tokens, on Nov. 13
The Tokens – He’s In Town (1964)

Heber Bartolome, 73, Filipino folk singer, on Nov. 15

Belinda Sykes, 55, founder of British folk group Joglaresa, on Nov. 16

Keith Allison, 79, bassist and singer with Paul Revere & The Raiders, on Nov. 17
The Raiders – Birds Of A Feather (1971, as member)

Young Dolph, 36, rapper, murdered on Nov. 17

Dave Frishberg, 88, jazz pianist and songwriter, on Nov. 16
Dave Frishberg – I’m Hip (1966, also as lyricist)

Theuns Jordaan, 50, South African singer-songwriter, on Nov. 17

Slide Hampton, 89, jazz trombonist, on Nov. 18
The Slide Hampton Octet – Milestones (1961)

Ack van Rooyen, 91, Dutch jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist, on Nov. 18

Hank von Hell, 49, singer of Norwegian punk group Turbonegro, on Nov. 19

David Longdon, 56, singer and musician with UK rock band Big Big Train, on Nov. 20
Big Big Train – Evening Star (2009, lead vocals, organ, dulcimer, flute, mandolin, glockenspiel)

Billy Hinsche, 70, pop multi-instrumentalist, on Nov. 20
Dino, Desi & Billy – I’m A Fool (1963, as member)

Jim Gallagher, 78, drummer of surf rock band The Astronauts, on Nov. 20
The Astronauts – Baja (1963)

Ted Herold, 79, German rock & roll pioneer and actor, in a fire on Nov. 20
Ted Herold – Hula Rock (1959)

Yul Anderson, 63, soul, jazz and classical musician and inventor, on Nov. 21
Yul Anderson – Eyes Of Music/All Along The Watchtower (1981)

Paolo Pietrangeli, 76, Italian singer-songwriter, film director, on Nov. 22

Joanne Shenandoah, 63, Native-American folk singer and composer, on Nov. 22
Joanne Shenandoah – To Those Who Dream (1991)

Volker Lechtenbrink, 77, German singer and actor, on Nov. 22
Volker Lechtenbrink – Ich mag (1981)

Gared O’Donnell, 44, singer of metal band Planes Mistaken for Stars, on Nov. 24

Marilyn McLeod, 82, soul (Motown) songwriter and singer, announced Nov. 25
Diana Ross – Love Hangover (1976, as co-writer)
High Energy – You Can’t Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On) (1977, as co-writer)

Stephen Sondheim, 91, American composer and lyricist, on Nov. 26
Sammy Davis Jr – West Side Story Medley (1961, as lyricist)
Judy Collins – Send In The Clowns (1975, as lyricist)
Bette Midler – Everything’s Coming Up Roses (1993, as lyricist)

Alexander Gradsky, 72, Russian rock pioneer singer and musician, on Nov. 28

Meñique, 87, Panamanian singer and songwriter, on Nov. 28
Meñique – Manigua (1972)

Martin Wright, guitarist of English indie bands Laugh/Intastella, on Nov. 30
Laugh – Paul McCartney (1987)

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In Memoriam – October 2021

November 2nd, 2021 2 comments

It was a strange month: The Reaper claimed nobody madly famous, but many of those who left us in October were of great interest, as the 12 write-ups testify. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like going through life knowing that you’ve played on, say, The Beatles’ Yesterday, but if you mention it in the pub, the barflies might call you a bullshitter (though I’m sure that this was no situation in which the admirable Kenneth Essex ever found himself in). I find that this is one of the satisfactions in doing this monthly series: to highlight not only the works of the well-known but also the contributions of the people whose names few who listen to the music take note of.

The Main Jay
The second, and longer-serving, Jay of The Americans has died. The first lead singer of Jay & The Americans was Jay Traynor, who died in 2014. When Traynor left in 1962, having enjoyed one Top 10 hit with the band, David Black of one-record doo wop act The Empires replaced him. Black (born David Blatt) changed his name to Jay Black, to keep the band’s name intact, seeing as it was given to them by the legendary Leiber and Stoller. With Black on lead vocals, the band recorded a string of hits in the 1960s, with Come A Little Bit Closer, Cara Mia, and This Magic Moment hitting the US Top 10 between 1964 and 1968.

Check out the featured song, Got Hung Up Along The Way, and tell me if it doesn’t sound like a Style Council song, some 16 years before Weller and Talbot recorded Café Bleu.

The Elvis Drummer
Drummer Ron Tutt left us on October 16 with an impressive curriculum vitae. On stage, the Dallas-born musician was on the drums behind Elvis Presley for nearly a decade, as a member of the TCB (Taking Care Of Business) Band, often getting a drum-solo slot at concerts. Of course, he was the drummer on the famous “Alloha From Hawaii” broadcast of an Elvis concert. He was also Neil Diamond’s chosen drummer, on tour and in the studio, and the same for Jerry Garcia after the TCB Band split after Elvis’ death.

He recorded with Billy Joel, Nancy Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Helen Reddy, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Rivers, Chi Coltrane, B.J. Thomas, Kenny Rogers, Gram Parsons, José Feliciano, Emmylou Harris, Carpenters, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Jerry Garcia, Stevie Nicks and Michael McDonald, and many others. Often he’d also provide backing vocals.

Big hits he played on include Presley’s Burning Love; Diamond’s Cracklin’ Rosie, Song Sung Blue, Sweet Caroline, I Am…I Said; and Billy Joel’s Piano Man.

The Wham! Bassist
A sought-after bassist who was taught by Motown legend James Jamerson, Deon Estus made his most significant contribution as the bass player on that spectacular run of great Wham! Between 19823 and 1986, and after that on George Michael’s first two solo albums. Born in Detroit, Estus had some success in the soul/disco band Brainstorm in the late 1970s, before going on tour with Marvin Gaye in the early 1980s. After that tour, he remained in London and soon joined up with unknowns George Michael and Andrew Ridgley. As a member of Wham!, he toured in China in 1985.

That year he also released his first solo record, a duet with Amii Stewart. In between session work, Estus released a few more solo records in the late 1980s, scoring a couple of hits, most notably Heaven Help Me in 1989, with George Michael on backing vocals.

The Irishman
With his group The Chieftains, which he co-founded in 1963 and led for almost six decades, Paddy Moloney helped bring Irish folk music to an international audience. It helped that the group played with many international artists, sometimes guesting and on one album a galaxy of stars guesting. Among these collaborations was a superb album credited to them with Van Morrison.

Moloney played the uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), the accordion, the tin or penny whistle, and the bodhrán, a flat Irish drum. He did session work for the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sting, Art Garfunkel, Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, Roger Waters, Gary Moore, Midge Ure, Herbie Hancock, Ry Cooder, and the recently late Nanci Griffith, among others. He also composed for films such as Braveheart, Gangs of New York, and Barry Lyndon.

Moloney’s death was a big deal in Ireland. Irish President Michael D. Higgins paid tribute: “Paddy, with his extraordinary skills as an instrumentalist, notably the uilleann pipes and bodhrán, was at the forefront of the renaissance of interest in Irish music, bringing a greater appreciation of Irish music and culture internationally.”

The Candy Man
British composer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse had a hand in writing many classic songs from film and musical, many with Anthony Newley: The Candy Man from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory; What Kind of Fool Am I? from Stop the World – I Want to Get Off; Le Jazz Hot from Victor/Victoria; If I Ruled The World from Pickwick;  Talk To The Animals from Doctor Dolittle; and the Bond film theme songs Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice, hits for Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra respectively. Younger (and some older) people might recognise his composition Christmas At Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

But not everybody was impressed with the songs of the multiple Oscar-nominee (and twice winner): In 1986, Bricusse was a nominee, with Henry Mancini, for the Raspberry Award for Worst Song. The offending number was Life In A Looking Glass, sung by Tony Bennett in the comedy That’s Life. It lost out to Prince (for Love Or Money). But the song was also Oscar-nominated — it lost to Berlin’s Take My Breath Away from Top Gun.

The Soul-Funk Man
One day in October I was planning the annual disco mix for late December. The next day, the Reaper claimed the co-writer of a few songs I’d be playing that evening. William Shelby, who died at 65, was the keyboardist and singer with the soul bands Dynasty and Lakeside, and he played on several albums by The Whispers, Shalamar, S.O.S. Band, Carrie Lucas, The Sylvers, Klymaxx, Atlantic Starr, and others.

As co-writer, Shelby co-write and played on hits such as The Whispers’ And The Beat Goes On and It’s A Love Thing, and Shalamar’s Make That Move, I Can Make You Feel Good, The Second Time Around and Friends.

The Beatles Violist
Unless you are the buffest of classical music buffs, the name of violist Kenneth Essex might mean little to you. But I can guarantee that you’ve heard him play. In June 1965, the English viola player, along with two violinists and a cellist, was called to the EMI studios at Abbey Road in London to play on a recording. It was so quick, the string quartet received only half-session pay. The song he played on was Yesterday. According to some obits, he also played on Hello Goodbye (violinist Sydney Sax from the Yesterday sessions also played on various Beatles songs). You might also have heard Essex play on the theme of the UK sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Though a classical musician, Essex also played on records by Cleo Laine, Harry Nilsson, Grace Slick, Freddie Cole, Everything But The Girl, Eartha Kitt, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and — bringing things a full circle — Paul McCartney on the Pipes Of Peace and Tug Of War albums (The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney, who died a day later, also played in the sessions for the latter album). Essex also played on the original soundtrack of The Phantom Of The Opera.

Earlier this year, before his 100th birthday, the World War II veteran raised funds by doing a series of walks. In 2019, just before his 100th, he raised 16,000 pounds by doing a 10km walk.

The Beatles Singer
The story is the stuff of Beatles legend: The band was recording the Lennon song Across The Universe on February 4, 1968, when it was decided that the track needed high-pitched female backing vocals. So Paul went outside the Abbey Road studio building to ask whether anyone in the group of fans camped outside, the so-called Beatles Scruffs, had suitable voices. Two of them volunteered and were invited to join the recordings: Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease. Their vocals featured on the original charity version of Across The Universe, but the teenagers’ voices were excised from the remixed Let It Be version.

Lizzie, a Brazilian au pair working in London in 1968, died of heart disease-related causes on October 4. Gayleen also died this year, on June 24.

The Glitterman
For many, it’s impossible to enjoy the music of convicted sex-offender Gary Glitter, much as it is difficult to hear the music of, say, R. Kelly without that bit of bile sitting in the throat. Alas, as the perp’s music is understandably cancelled, so is the work others created in support of his music. So it is, at least nominally, with his backing band, The Glitter Band, whose founder and trombonist/saxophonist Joe Rossall has died at 75. I say “nominally” because on the records, the only members who actually played were Rossall and Harvey Ellison, who died in 2017. The rest of the band backed Gary Glitter only on tour.

In 1974 The Glitter Band started releasing records of their own, also produced by Glitter’s svengali, Mike Leander. Between 1974-76 they enjoyed six UK Top 10 hits. Most of them didn’t involve Rossall, who had assembled the group to back Glitter but left the group on the last day of 1974. He launched a solo career with yielded a number of non-charting singles between 1975 and 1981.

By all accounts, Rossall had no time for Gary Glitter, certainly not after his former boss’ conviction.

The All-Rounder Composer
People living in the UK will have heard the compositions of Alan Hawkshaw, whose works include the themes of quiz show Countdown, school-soap Grange Hill (via his 1974 song Chicken Man), and the Channel 4 News. Before all that, Hawkshaw already had enjoyed a productive career. He was a member of early 1960s British R&B group Emile Ford and the Checkmates; backed a young David Bowie at the BBC sessions; played with The Shadows; arranged for Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard, Jane Birkin, and Serge Gainsbourg; played keyboards for Donna Summer; composed a song for Hank Marvin that was later sampled by Jay-Z (see the featured tune); and released a 1979 disco album under the moniker Bizarre, having also arranged the disco hit Here Comes That Sound Again for Love De-Luxe.

The Murdered Rapper
The execution-style murder of 19-year-old Swedish rapper Einár, son of a well-known actress, attracted so much publicity that even the prime minister commented. At the 2020 Grammis awards — Sweden’s version of the Grammys — Einár won the “Newcomer of the Year” and “Hiphop of the Year” awards. Shortly after that, he was kidnapped by rival rapper Yasin and his criminal gang. Yasin and another rapper were jailed in July for the crime. Einár received death threats and was using a protected identity. He was scheduled to testify in another trial at the end of the month. It didn’t come to this: on October 21 he was found dead, shot execution style.

The Cover Boy
On October 7, the Dexys Midnight Runners announced on their Facebook page that the lad on the cover of their 1980 debut LP Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, Anthony O’Shaughnessy, had died. Normally I’d not include people on record covers in the In Memoriams, but Anthony commented a few times on this blog 12 years ago, when I wrote about that album cover. Read the story of the cover and Anthony’s comments.

Finally, something for the Spooky Corner: an R&B singer going by the name of Emani 22 died in an accident on October 14… at the age of 22! Nominative determinism at its most lethal.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.

Robin Morton, 81, Irish folk musician, producer, label owner, broadcaster, on Oct. 1
The Boys of the Lough – Farewell To Whisky (1973)

Ewert Ljusberg, 76, Swedish musician and activist, on Oct. 1

Sebastião Tapajós, 78, Brazilian guitarist and composer, on Oct. 2
Sebastião Tapajos & Pedro dos Santos – Ganga (1972)

John Rossall, 75, trombonist/saxophonist of The Glitter Band, on Oct. 2
The Glitter Band – Goodbye My Love (1974)
John Rossall – Beautiful Monday Morning (1981)

Anoman Brouh Felix, 86, Ivorian guitarist, bassist, percussionist, on Oct. 3
Anoman Brouh Félix – Chinché (1977)

Lizzie Bravo, 70, Brazilian backing singer on Across The Universe, on Oct. 4
The Beatles – Across The Universe (1968)

Hobo Jim, 68, American folk singer-songwriter, on Oct. 4
Alaska’s Hobo Jim – The Beauty Of You (1984)

Pat Fish, 64, leader of UK Indie band The Jazz Butcher, on Oct. 4
The Jazz Butcher – The Human Jungle (1985)

Anthony O’Shaughnessy, LP cover star, announced on Oct. 7
Dexys Midnight Runners – There There My Dear (1980, as cover star)

Everett Morton, 71, drummer & percussionist of UK ska band The Beast, on Oct. 8
The Beat – Hands Off-She’s Mine (1980)

Petru Guelfucci, 66, French-Corsican singer, on Oct. 8

Jem Targal, 74, bassist, singer and songwriter with psych-rock band Third Power, on Oct. 8
3rd Power – We, You, I (1968, also as co-writer)

Jim Pembroke, 75, English-born singer of Finnish rock group Wigwam, on Oct. 9
Wigwam – Wishful Thinker (1970, also as writer)

Dee Pop, 65, drummer of new wave band Bush Tetras, on Oct. 9
Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps (1980)

Shawn McLemore, 54, gospel singer, on Oct. 9

Deon Estus, 65, bassist (Wham!) and singer, on Oct. 11
Brainstorm – Lovin’ Is Really My Game (1977, as member)
Wham! – Everything She Wants (1984, on bass)
Amii Stewart & Deon Estus – My Guy, My Girl (1985)
Deon Estus – Heaven Help Me (1989)

Kenneth Essex, 101, British violist, on Oct. 11
The Beatles – Yesterday (1965, on viola)
Dennis Wilson – Fawlty Towers Theme (1975, on viola)
Everything But The Girl – Come On Home (1986, on viola)

Paddy Moloney, 83, co-founder of Irish folk group The Chieftains, on Oct. 12
The Chieftains – Away We Go Again (1977)
Paul McCartney – Rainclouds (1982, on pipes)
Nanci Griffith – On Grafton Street (1994, on tin whistle)
The Chieftains feat. Mick Jagger – The Long Black Veil (1995)

Andrea Haugen, 52, German singer of UK metal band Cradle of Filth (1993-94), on Oct. 13

Emani 22, 22, R&B singer, on Oct. 14
Emani 22 – Better Days (2019)

Tom Morey, 86, drummer & ukulele player; surfing engineer, on Oct. 14

Regi Hargis, 70, bassist and guitarist with jazz-funk band Brick, on Oct. 15
Brick – Dazz (1976)

Willie Garnett, 85, British jazz and rock saxophonist, on Oct. 15
The Charlie Watts Orchestra – Stomping At The Savoy (1986, on alto sax)

Ron Tutt, 83, session drummer, on Oct. 16
Neil Diamond – Holly Holy (1969, on drums)
Elvis Presley – Burning Love (1972, on drums)
Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973, on drums)
Emmylou Harris – Boulder To Birmingham (1975, on drums)

Tom Gray, 70, blues-rock slide guitarist, singer, songwriter, on Oct. 16
Delta Moon – Money Changes Everything (1978, as member and songwriter)

Alan Hawkshaw, 84, keyboardist, guitarist, arranger, TV composer, on Oct. 16
Alan Hawkshaw – Chicken Man (1974, also as writer)
Olivia Newton-John – I Honestly Love You (1974, as arranger and co-producer)
The Hank Marvin Guitar Syndicate – New Earth Part 1&2 (1977, as composer)
Love De-Luxe – Here Comes That Sound Again (1979, as writer, producer, arranger, keyboardist)

Franco Cerri, 95, Italian jazz guitarist, on Oct. 18

Lloyd ‘Gitsy’ Willis, 73, Jamaican reggae guitarist, songwriter, producer, on Oct. 18
Chaka Demus & Pliers – Tease Me (1993, on guitar)

Ralph Carmichael, 94, pop and gospel composer and arranger, on Oct. 18
Nat ‘King’ Cole – L.O.V.E (1965, as arranger)

Leslie Bricusse, 90, British film and musical composer, on Oct. 19
Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger (1964, as co-writer)
Sammy Davis Jr – The Candy Man (1972, as co-writer)
Julie Andrews – Le Jazz Hot (1982, as co-writer)

Antonio Coggio, 82, Italian composer, arranger and producer, on Oct. 19
Claudio Baglioni – Questo piccolo grande amore (1972, as co-writer and producer)

Allan Wilmot, 96, Jamaican-born singer with The Southlanders, announced Oct. 21
The Southlanders – The Mole In A Hole (1958, as member and bass singer)

Robin McNamara, 74, singer-songwriter and musician, announced Oct. 21
Robin McNamara – Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me (1970, also as co-writer)

Sergei Krinitsin, 65, drummer of pioneering Russian rock band Autograph, on Oct. 21

Tommy DeBarge, 64, bassist and singer with soul-funk band Switch, on Oct. 21
Switch – I Call Your Name (1979)

Einár, 19, Swedish rapper, in witness-execution on Oct. 21

Jay Black, 82, singer of Jay and the Americans, on Oct. 22
The Empires – Time And A Place (1962, on lead vocals and co-writer)
Jay & the Americans – Come A Little Bit Closer (1964)
Jay & The Americans – Got Hung Up Along The Way (1967)

Sonny Osborne, 83, bluegrass banjo player with the Osborne Brothers, on Oct. 24
The Osborne Brothers – Rocky Top (1967)

Ginny Mancini, 97, jazz singer, widow of Henry Mancini, on Oct. 25

Willie Cobbs, 89, blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player, on Oct. 25
Willie Cobbs – You Don’t Love Me (1960)

Walter Herbert/Sy Klopps, 73, singer, guitarist, manager (Santana, Journey, Roxette), on Oct. 26
Sy Klopps Blues Band – Pretty Women (1995)

Rose Lee Maphis, 98, country singer, on Oct. 26
Joe and Rose Lee Maphis – Remember (I’m Just As Close As The Phone) (1964)

Gay McIntyre, 88, Irish jazz musician, on Oct. 26

Russell Hardy, 80, pianist and songwriter, announced on Oct. 27
Ian Dury & The Blockheads – There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards (1979, as co-writer)

Benjamin Vallé, 47, ex-guitarist of Swedish indie-rock band Viagra Boys, on Oct. 27

William Shelby, 65, soul-funk keyboardist, singer, songwriter, on Oct. 27
Dynasty – I’ve Just Begun To Love You (1980, as member, co-lead singer, keyboards, co-writer)
The Whispers – And The Beat Goes On (1980, as co-writer and on keyboards)
Shalamar – The Second Time Around (1980, as co-writer and on keyboards)

Jorge Cumbo, 78, Argentine quena (Andean flute) player, on Oct. 28
Jorge Cumbo – Entre la Tierra y el Cielo (1977)

Raymond Guy LeBlanc, 76, Canadian musician and poet, on Oct. 29

Fan Tsai, 26, drummer of Taiwanese indie band No Party for Cao Dong, on Oct. 30
No Party For Cao Dong – Simon Says (2016)

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In Memoriam – September 2021

October 5th, 2021 5 comments

September was another brutal month, requiring so many write-ups that I had to exclude some people who might have featured in most other months, such as R&B singer and songwriter Andrea Martin (dead at only 49), Carl Bean (whose 1977 gay anthem on Motown features here), soul bass-player Melvin Dunlap (who backed Bill Withers on many of his hits), or country-rock singer Cody Smith. But since almost every entry takes quite a lot of time for research, and the write-ups take even longer, I have to economise. Still, there are 14 write-ups this month.

The Quo Man
With the death at 72 of Alan Lancaster, only half of Status Quo’s classic line-up remains with us. I always had a soft spot for Alan on account of him being the third wheel in the frontmen bromance. While Rick and Francis were shouting jokes into each other’s ears in bow-legged mid-solo, Alan usually stood a little aside. Having founded the band in 1962 with Francis Rossi, he certainly felt undervalued by the early 1980s, when he temporarily left the band. Later he emigrated to Australia. He soon returned but the break came in the mid-1980s, when Rossi and Rick Parfitt released Status Quo albums without Lancaster, or even his knowledge. They later found each other again in the mid-2010s.

In the interim, Lancaster joined Australian band Party Boys, whose 1987 hit debut album, including the Aussie #1 hit cover of John Kongos’ He’s Gonna Step On You Again,  he also produced. He then founded The Bombers, with long-time Quo friend John Coghlan on drums. Lancaster died on September 26 due to complications from multiple sclerosis.

The Labelle
On September 20, Patti LaBelle played a gig in in Atlantic City at which she called her old friend Sarah Dash on to the stage to sing with her, thus effecting a 2/3 reunion of the soul trio Labelle (Video clip of that performance). Two days later, Dash was dead, aged 76. The two women’s story goes back to 1962, when Patti (then still Patsy Holte) and pastor’s-daughter Sarah formed the group The Blue Belles with Nona Hendryx and Cindy Birdsong. They had some success, and in 1971 — four years after Birdsong decamped to The Supremes — renamed themselves LaBelle. With their flamboyant divas act, crazy outfits and great music, they became stars, culminating in the classic hit Lady Marmalade. Dash, the soprano (hear it at the beginning of Down The Aisle), was the calming buffer between the strong and often antagonistic personalities Patti and Nona.

After the group’s split in 1977, Dash recorded a string of soul and funk albums, did session work, and in the late 1980s worked and toured with the Rolling Stones (whom The Bluebells had supported on tour a quarter of a century earlier). Sporadic LaBelle reunions followed, as well as a few more solo recordings.

The JBs Bandleader
During last year’s anti-racism protests in the US, James Brown’s 1968 song Say It Loud-I’m Black And Proud served as an anthem. Brown co-wrote the track with Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, who has died at 80. Ellis, a great saxophonist in his own right, was Brown’s bandleader and arranger during the early funk period. Coming from a jazz background — in his younger days, Ellis had played with his contemporaries Chuck Mangione, Ron Carter and Sonny Rollins — he instilled in James Brown’s music discipline, in service of the innovation. A songwriter, Ellis wrote the instrumental The Chicken for Brown. In the event, Brown didn’t record it, but it became a hit for jazzman Jaco Pistorius.

Ellis left Brown’s stable after four years in 1969. In 1972, he founded Gotham, a jazz-funk outfit which has been much sampled in hip hop. He played with other collectives, including those led by the likes of Ginger Baker and fellow Brown-alumni Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley. He worked widely as an arranger, including for Esther Philips’ superb 1972 albums From A Whisper To A Scream and Alone Again Naturally. In 1979 he became musical director for Van Morrison, playing on many of his records, for 20 years.

The Singing Twin
In 1968, Barry Ryan had a big hit with the enjoyably madcap  Eloise, written for him by his twin brother Paul (who died in 1992). The twins initially performed together as a duo, landing three UK Top 20 hits, before Paul decided to concentrate on songwriting. After Eloise, Barry had four more Top 40 hits in the UK between 1969 and 1972. In my view, it’s an injustice that his Can’t Let You Go failed to make the Top 10, hence its inclusion in Should Have Been A Top 10 Hit Vol. 2.

Ryan was more successful in Europe, especially in France and Germany. Living in Germany for a while, he even recorded in that country’s language. With his hit Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt, Barry became the first English pop star from outside the schlager scene to perform on the massively popular TV show ZDF Hitparade (video here). His very good 1972 album Sanctus, Sanctus Halleluja was his last until a brief comeback in 2003. A few singles later, he quietly retired from the music scene.

The Blaxploiter
Better known as the pioneer of the wave of blaxploitation movies in the early 1970s through his film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song!, Melvin Van Peebles was also an innovative musician.  The filmmaker, who has died at 89, scored his breakthrough film, with the help of the still unknown Earth, Wind & Fire, but by then he had two albums and a soundtrack out already. These albums, and most of those that followed, were spoken word: poetry, stories and commentaries set to soul-jazz. Peebles issued altogether 11 albums, including four soundtracks.

The Doctor
In the early 1970s, jazz organist Lonnie Smith adopted the nickname Doctor. Nobody knows where it came from — Smith had no PhD, and you’d not want him to perform your heart surgery — but it kind of suited the turbaned pioneer in the field of jazz-funk. He was part of the George Benson Trio in the 1960s, and recorded with an endless list of jazz acts. Smith issued around 30 albums in his own name between 1967 and 2021. He’s not to be confused with his contemporary jazz keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith, who is still with us.

The Great Composer
The colourful life of composer Mikis Theodorakis has come to an end at the age of 96. In Greece he’s regarded as his country’s greatest composer. Outside Greece, he’s perhaps best-known for the Zorba Dance, from the 1964 film Zorba The Greek. Other films Theodorakis scored include Serpico and Z. Although a classical composer, he drew from all manner of genres; his Mauthausen Cantata, a 1988 series of four arias in remembrance of the Holocaust, is strictly speaking a classical work, but it also draws from folk and religious tradition (as is evident in the featured track from the cantara).

Apart from his musical work, Theodorakis was also a politician of communist tradition, which saw him jailed and his music banned during the rule of the fascist junta from 1967-74. Periodically he was a parliamentarian, once puzzlingly as part of a right-wing ticket, and a government minister. He was a committed anti-Zionist and made some stupid comments that amounted to being anti-Semitic (for which he apologised), but he also had a great love for the Jewish people. Theodorakis doubtless was an unpredictable man in many ways.

The Electronic Pioneer
As founder and leader of the English industrial music group Cabaret Voltaire, which he co-founded at the age of 17 in 1973, Richard H Kirk exerted a great influence on electronic music, from new wave to dance to trance. With his compadres in shaping sound, Chris Watson und singer Stephen Mallinder, the Sheffield-born Kirk drew from glam rock and the experimental work of Krautrock acts like Can and Kraftwerk. In that way, Cabaret Voltaire influenced German new wave acts like Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft, who borrowed Cabaret Voltaire’s 1978 title Do The Mussolini for their own 1981 hit single. After Cabaret Voltaire split in 1990, Kirk kept experimenting with sounds under various monikers, even recording a house album. He reformed Cabaret Voltaire in 2009, with himself as the only permanent member.

The White Baccara
As an entirely unironic fan of the 1977 disco anthem Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, I was saddened by the death at 69 of María Mendiola, the Baccara singer dressed in white. On Boogie, María did the intro’s moaning, on Lady she did the spoken intro. That’s the extent of my love for Baccara’s artistry. Still, Boogie and its follow-up Sorry I’m A Lady have the power to evoke the feeling of 1977. I reflected in Baccara’s impact on me as a 11-year-old in the A Life In Vinyl 1977 post. (The one in black, Mayte Mateos, was my first star-crush, alongside Agnetha of ABBA, incidentally.)

María had been the prima ballerina of a Spanish TV ballet, and when she and colleague Mayte formed Baccara, their idea was to fuse Spanish folk music with pop — but their hits, produced by Germans in the Netherlands, were Euro-disco. By 1983 they split, with each carrying on with separate Baccaras. María’s New Baccara recorded a few club hits in the 1980s.

The Girl Aloud
For many British pop fans, the best of the many girl group of the ‘00s was Girls Aloud. They certainly were the most successful. Put together as a result of a TV talent show, the group had 20 consecutive UK Top 10 singles, with four #1 hits, between 2002 and 2012. With the death from cancer at 39 of Sarah Harding, Girl Aloud have lost their first member to the Reaper. Harding was also an actress and model.

The Charlie Brown Drummer
As a member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, drummer Colin Bailey had a hand in creating the timeless classic Cast Your Fate To The Wind, which was written by Guaraldi. But the English-born drummer’s handiwork is probably more famous for the trio’s soundtrack to the Peanuts films, including A Charlie Brown Christmas. Bailey also worked with, among many others, Benny Goodman, Julie London, Joe Pass, Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim, Mike Melvoin, Jimmy Witherspoon and, outside jazz, he drummed for Rita Coolidge.

The Newport Man
For fans of jazz and folk, the Newport festivals are an important part of their genres’ development, and it was at Newport that Bob Dylan first was booed for going electric. Now George Wein, the founder of the annual Newport Jazz Festival and co-founder (with Pete Seeger and Theodore Bikel) of the Newport Folk Festival, has died at 95. Before he was a festival founder in Rhode Island, Wein had a jazz club and record label (both named Storyville) and taught jazz history at Boston University. And busy as he was behind the scenes, he was also a prolific jazz pianist.

The Bassist
Just over a week after Wein’s death, a Newport Jazz Festival alumnus died in the person of bassist Bob Moore. Although he had a hit as the leader of the Bob Moore Orchestra with the Easy Listening song Mexico in 1961, Moore’s great body of work was delivered behind the scenes. There he backed the likes of Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline (on all her big hits, including Crazy, Fall To Pieces, Sweet Dreams etc) as part of the Nashville A-Team of session musicians. As co-founder of Monument Records he arranged the first hits for Roy Orbison, and played the bass on songs like Only The Lonely, Crying, Blue Bayou and In Dreams. On Roger Miller’s King Of The Road, he played the instantly recognisable bass intro.

In his long career, Moore regularly backed many of the greatest names in country, including George Jones, The Statler Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Kenny Rogers, Moe Bandy, Billy Jo Spears, Crystal Gayle, Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Nelson, B.J. Thomas, and especially Tom T. Hall, whom we lost just last month. He was an uncredited double bass player on Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Now, those Elvis records Moore played on include all the early 1960s hits as well as a number of movie soundtracks. Deep breath now: His Latest Flame, Stuck On You, It’s Now Or Never, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Viva Las Vegas, Surrender, A Fool Such As I, Little Sister, Suspicion, Return To Sender, Good Luck Charm, A Big Hunk O’ Love, U.S. Male, Guitar Man, The Girl Of My Best Friend, Devil In Disguise, among others. Most of the songs on the Elvis movie songs mix posted last week feature Moore.

The Hillbilly
With the death at 98 of Don Maddox, all of the Maddox Brothers & (their sister) Rose are gone. They were a groundbreaking act in country music. Rose Maddox was among the pioneering women in country, even if she, as the frontwoman, still had to take second billing behind her brothers.

The Maddox family had migrated from Alabama to California, a couple of years before the dustbowl sharecroppers from Oklahoma made their exodus there. Living in Modesto, the Maddox kids quickly established a reputation as California’s best hillbilly band (in the days before the term hillbilly was a slur), specialising in what then passed for racy lyrics. Their country boogie won the Maddox Brothers & Rose a recording contract in 1946. They made their breakthrough in 1949 with a song written by Woody Guthrie, titled Philadelphia Lawyer.

It is said that Fred Maddox’s style of slap bass playing was central in the development of rockabilly, and therefore rock & roll. Their use of electric guitars and wild stage shows certainly influenced the new genre. The band split up in 1956. A year earlier, they recorded a song titled The Death Of Rock And Roll, an adapted cover of Ray Charles’ I Got A Woman (Charles got no writing credit for it. Those were different days).

Don, like his brothers a World War 2 veteran, still played in his nineties, including at the Grand Ole Opry in the Marty Stuart Show, and in 2014 headlined the first annual Rockabilly Rockout at Las Vegas’ Gold Coast Casino. In 2019, featured in the Ken Burns’ splendid documentary Country Music.

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.

 

Barbara Moore, 89, British singer and arranger, on Aug. 26
Barbara Moore – Steam Heat (1972)

Adalberto Álvarez, 72, Cuban son pianist, on Sept. 1
Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son – Buena Pero No Es Pa’ Tanto (2000)

Aleksandr Khrabunov, 61, guitarist of pioneering Russian rock band Zoopark, on Sept. 1

Carol Fran, 87, R&B singer, pianist and songwriter, on Sept. 1
Carol Fran – Emmitt Lee (1957, also as writer)

Alemayehu Eshete, 80, Ethiopian singer, on Sept. 2

Mikis Theodorakis, 96, Greek composer, on Sept. 2
Mikis Theodorakis – Zorba Dance (1964)
Mikis Theodorakis – Songs Of Songs (1986)

MadClip, 34, Greek rapper, in car crash on Sept. 2

Billy Cafaro, 84, Argentine rock & roll singer, on Sept. 4
Billy Cafaro – Marcianita (1960)

Sarah Harding, 39, singer with UK pop group Girls Aloud and actress, on Sept. 5
Girls Aloud – Life Got Cold (2003)
Girls Aloud – Love Machine (2004)

Susan Anway, 70, ex-singer with indie band The Magnetic Fields, on Sept. 5
The Magnetic Fields – 100,000 Fireflies (1991)

Rickie Lee Reynolds, 72, guitarist with rock band Black Oak Arkansas, on Sept. 5
Black Oak Arkansas – You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down (1976)

Ralph Irizarry, 67, American percussionist and bandleader, on Sept. 5
Ralph Irizarry & Los Viejos de la Salsa – Los Viejos (2012)

Sunil Perera, 68, singer with Sri Lankan band The Gypsies, on Sept. 6

Bennie Pete, 45, sousaphonist with New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band, on Sept. 6
Hot 8 Brass Band – Sexual Healing (2007)

Warren Storm, 84, swamp pop drummer and singer, on Sept. 7
Warren Storm – The Prisoner’s Song (1958)

Carl Bean, 77, singer, church leader and LGBT rights activist, on Sept. 7
Carl Bean – I Was Born This Way (1977)

Mike Jones, member of rock group of Man The Destroyer, on Sept. 8

Robin Russell, 70, soul drummer and songwriter, on Sept. 8
The New Birth – Sure Thing (1976, as member)

Michael Chapman, 80, English singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Sept. 10
Michael Chapman – Postcards Of Scarborough (1970)

Roger Newell, 73, English bassist, on Sept. 10
Rainbow Ffolly – Drive My Car (1968, as member)

María Mendiola, 69, singer with Spanish pop duo Baccara, on Sept. 11
Baccara – Sorry, I’m A Lady (1977)
New Baccara – Call Me Up (1986)

Don Maddox, 98, member of country group Maddox Brothers and Rose, on Sept. 12
Maddox Brothers & Rose – Philadelphia Lawyer (1948)
Maddox Brothers & Rose – The Death Of Rock And Roll (1955)

George Wein, 95, music festival promoter; jazz pianist and singer, on Sept. 13
George Wein – Why Try To Change Me Now (1955)
George Wein & The Newport All Stars – Crazy Rhythm (1963)

Melvin Dunlap, 76, soul and funk bassist, announced on Sept. 13
Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Express Yourself (1970, as member)
Bill Withers – Use Me (1972, on bass & as co-producer)

Guilherme Inês, 70, Portuguese rock percussionist, on Sept. 14

Leonard ‘Doc’ Gibbs, 73, soul & fusion percussionist, on Sept. 15
Doc Gibbs – Tingle (1981)
Eugene Wilde – Gotta Get You Home With Me Tonight (1984, on percussion)

George Mraz, 77, Czech-born jazz musician, on Sept. 16
George Mraz & Friends – Going Home (2003)

Mats Paulson, 83, Swedish singer-songwriter, on Sept. 19

Warner Williams, 91, member of blues trio Little Bit A Blues, on Sept. 20
Warner Williams with Jay Summerour – Little Bit A Blues Theme (2003)

Gary Eckstein, 73, Israeli blues-rock singer, on Sept. 20

Colin Bailey, 87, English-born jazz drummer, on Sept. 20
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Cast Your Fate To The Wind (1962, as member)
Julie London with the Bud Shank Quintet – I’ve Got You Under My Skin (1965, on drums)
Rita Coolidge – Am I Blue (1975, on drums)

Sarah Dash, 76, singer with soul group Labelle, on Sept. 20
Patti Labelle & Blue Belles – Down The Aisle (1963)
Labelle – Touch Me All Over (1972)
Sarah Dash – (Come And Take) This Candy From Your Baby (1978)
Keith Richards feat. Sarah Dash – Make No Mistake (1988)

Claude Lombard, 76, Belgian singer, on Sept. 20

Julz Sale, singer-songwriter, guitarist of UK post-punk band Delta 5, on Sept. 20
Delta 5 – Anticipation (1980)

La Prieta Linda, 88, Mexican singer and actress, on Sept. 21

Richard H Kirk, 65, English singer-songwriter with Cabaret Voltaire, on Sept. 21
Cabaret Voltaire – Seconds Too Late (1980)
Cabaret Voltaire – Don’t Argue (1987)

Melvin Van Peebles, 89, musician, film director and playwright, on Sept. 21
Melvin Van Peebles – Love, That’s America (1970)
Melvin Van Peebles with Earth, Wind & Fire – Sweetback’s Theme (1971)
Melvin Van Peebles – Chippin’ (1971)

Peter A Hood, 78, drummer of Australian surf group The Atlantics, on Sept. 22
The Atlantics – Bombora (1963)

Bob Moore, 88, bassist and orchestra leader, on Sept. 22
Sister Rosetta Tharpe with James Roots Quintet – Tell Him You Saw Me (1952, on bass)
Jim Reeves – He’ll Have To Go (1960)
Elvis Presley – (Marie’s The Name Of) His Latest Flame (1961)
Roy Orbison – Crying (1961, on bass and as arranger)

Sue Thompson, 96, pop and country singer, on Sept. 23
Sue Thompson – Sad Movies (Make Me Cry) (1962)

Roberto Roena, 81, Puerto Rican salsa percussionist and bandleader, on Sept. 23
Roberto Roena – Mi Desengaño (1976)

Pee Wee Ellis, 80, saxophonist, composer, arranger, James Brown’s bandleader, on Sept. 24
Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis – In The Middle (Part1&2) (1968)
James Brown – Say It Loud-I’m Black And Proud (1968, as co-writer & on alto sax)
Esther Phillips – From A Whisper To A Scream (1972, as arranger)
Van Morrison – Days Like This (1995, on alto sax, horns arrangements)

Patricio Manns, 84, Chilean singer, composer, and writer, on Sept. 25
Patricio Manns – Arriba en la Cordillera (1966)

George ‘Commander Cody’ Frayne IV, 77, country rock singer, keyboardist, on Sept. 26
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen – Seeds And Stems (Again) (1971)
Commander Cody – Cry Baby Cry (1978)

Alan Lancaster, 72, bassist of English rock band Status Quo, on Sept. 26
The Status Quo – Sunny Cellophane Skies (1968, on lead vocals and as co-writer)
Status Quo – Backwater (1974, on lead vocals and as co-writer)
The Party Boys – He’s Gonna Step On You Again (1987, as member and producer)
The Bombers – Running In The Shadows (1989)

Darrell Bath, British punk and rock guitarist and singer, on Sept. 27
Darrell Bath – Eye For An Eye (2016)

Andrea Martin, 49, R&B singer-songwriter and producer, on Sept. 27
En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love) (1996, as co-writer)
Andrea Martin – Let Me Return The Favor (1998)

Nana Ampadu, 76, Ghanaian highlife musician, on Sept. 27

Lonnie Smith, 79, jazz organist, on Sept. 28
Lonnie Smith – Sideman (1967)
Lonnie Smith – It’s Changed (1977)
Lonnie Smith – My Latin Sky (1978)

Barry Ryan, 72, English pop singer, on Sept. 28
Paul & Barry Ryan – Don’t Bring Me Your Heartaches (1965)
Barry Ryan – Eloise (1968)
Barry Ryan – Life’s So Easy (1972)

Olivier Libaux, 57, French producer and musician, on Sept. 29
Nouvelle Vague – Blue Monday (2006, as founder and producer)

Mike Renzi, 80, jazz pianist, composer and music director, on Sept. 29
Was (Not Was) with Mel Tormé – Zaz Turned Blue (1983 on piano)

Les Gough (Allan), Australian bass player, announced Sept. 30
Somebody’s Image – Hide And Seek (1968, as member)

Lennart Åberg, 79, Swedish jazz saxophonist and composer, on Sept. 30

Greg Gilbert, 44, singer and guitarist of English indie group Delays, on Sept. 30
Delays – Long Time Coming (2004)

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In Memoriam – August 2021

September 2nd, 2021 7 comments

The Reaper is back in his ghastly groove, wreaking carnage of a like not seen for many months. He claimed the most likable Rolling Stone — which may not exactly be the toughest contest in the world, but Charlie Watts seems to have been a decent man. The Reaper also took one of the great harmony singers, the last of Bill Haley’s Comets, and the drummer on hits such as Dolly Parton’s Jolene and Dobie Gray’s Drift Away. There are so many write-ups — and I had to restrain myself from not adding more — I suggest you read the lot in the included illustrated PDF.

The Stones Drummer
Practically everything that needs to be said about Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, a jazz drummer in a rock band, has been said — importantly the story about how he responded to Mick Jagger’s reference to him as “my drummer” with a punch in Mick’s face and the response: “You’re my singer!” But I’d like to yield the floor to music journalist and Stones fan Neil Kulkarni, who on Facebook issued this spontaneous and unedited tribute Watts’ often underrated drumming:

“It’s that those beats he made, Satisfaction, Get Off My Cloud, the stealth and menace of Play With Fire, the lunatic clatter and thump of 19th Nervous Breakdown and Mother Baby, We Love You, Jumping Jack Flash, Stray Cat Blues, Jigsaw Puzzle […] He would never admit it, but [he was] such an important teacher-by-proxy to so many musicians in so many different genres. His solidity, steadiness is gonna be mentioned a lot, but don’t forget his rippling rolls on Moonlight Mile, all the moves he makes on something like Monkey Man or Knocking, and how convincing he makes every little shift. Funky, experimental, always giving the songs life. Unique grooves that could only come from him…”

The Everly Brother
As it was with the Louvin Brothers — the country-gospel siblings who set a template for the fraternal harmonies which the Everly Brothers would take to the top of the charts — Phil and Don Everly often didn’t get on with one another. Like Ira and Charlie Louvin, Phil and Don had different temperaments and even worldviews, yin and yang. Their fights were legendary; and after Phil’s death in 2014, Don explained that now he felt free to endorse a Democrat candidate for the presidency, something he felt he couldn’t do while his brother was alive.

Don and Phil brought the tradition of country/country-gospel harmonising into the mainstream of pop music, whence it inspired acts like The Byrds, The Hollies, The Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash and, above all, Simon & Garfunkel. The Everly Brothers reside in the pantheon of rock & roll but they always returned to their country roots, even at the height of their success, with the 1958 LP Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. Ten years later, they released the intriguing Roots album, a country record that in places incorporated contemporary pop sounds. The featured track, T For Texas, is a bit of a mess, but hear how Don and Phil start it off as a country sing and end up sounding like The Monkees.

In 1962, Don joined up with songwriter Carole King and budding musician Glen Campbell to form The Keestone Family Singers. I’m including a song from that collaboration, but I do so not as an acknowledgment of the musical merits which the collaboration might promise.

The Reggae Pioneer
In reggae, Lee “Scratch” Perry stands as a giant; as a founder of the Upsetter Records label and his band The Upsetters, as a songwriter, and as a producer, especially of Bob Markey & The Wailers on their way to superstardom. He also worked outside his genre to record acts like the Beastie Boys and the Clash. In the 1970s, he helped pioneer dub music, through remixes of existing songs, which has influenced other genres, from rock to hip hop.  In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Perry at #100 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

The Americana Pioneer
When I shall review the music deaths of 2021, I’ll probably find that the passing of Nanci Griffith will be among those that hurt the most. In the 1980s, Griffith helped pioneer the resurgence of woman folk-rock-country singer-songwriters. By fusing various genres, Griffith was also among those who gave rise to the so-called Americana scene.

Griffith commanded much love and respect from those who knew her music, but she never became a household name. Others had hits with the songs she first recorded and/or wrote: Bette Midler with her horribly cheesy version of From A Distance (which Griffith didn’t write but first recorded; her original featured on The Originals 1990s-2000s); Kathy Mattea with Love At The Five And Dime. In 1994 she received the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms, which featured her version of John Prine’s gorgeous Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness (it featured on the John Prine Songbook mix)

The Rock & Roll Sax Legend
With the death at 87 of Joey Ambrose, the classic lineup of Bill Haley’s Comets has now passed. Ambrose played the tenor sax on great hits like Rock Around the Clock and Shake, Rattle and Roll. But in 1955 Ambrose left Haley with drummer Dick Richards (died 2019) and Marshall Lytle (died 2013) over a salary dispute to form the less successful Jodimars. After two minor hits, the group folded in 1958. After that, Ambrose worked for 27 years at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas before teaming up with his former Comets in 1987, with whom he’d perform for the next two decades.

The Country Wit
Country music has a history of superbly witty lyrics, and Tom T. Hall was one of the drivers of the humour train, most famously with his composition Harper Valley PTA, a huge hit for Donna Fargo (but it’s not her version that features here, nor the original by Jeannie C. Riley, which was included on The Originals – Country Edition). But Hall could also write poignant songs of heartbreak, and the occasional reactionary anthem (such as his risible Hello Vietnam). He was known as The Storyteller, and he indeed was that, in the best traditions of his genre.

The Poco Guitarist
After Jim Messina left Poco, guitarist and singer Paul Cotton came in, and made his mark with his guitar work, vocals and compositions, which included classics like Heart Of The Night, Barbados, Indian Summer, Ride The Country, and Bad Weather. He stayed with the band until 2020, with a four-year hiatus between 1987-91. Cotton released five solo albums. His fellow Poco frontman and solo collaborator Rusty Young died in April.

The Producing Engineer
On the very day that producer/engineer Allan Blazek died, I had listened to the 1973 album Freewheelin’ by The Fabulous Rhinestones, which he engineered. As a sound engineer, Allan Blazek was responsible for getting the balance of the duelling guitar solos in Hotel California right. By then, Blazek knew the Eagles well enough, having already mixed much of their 1974 On The Border album. He went on to engineer many of the bands big hits (usually together with his frequent collaborator, producer Bill Szymczyk): Lyin’ Eyes, Take It To The Limit, One Of These Nights, Life In The Fast Lane, New Kid In Town, etc. Later he produced several Glenn Frey records, including Smuggler’s Blues.

Among other acts he produced were Elvin Bishop (including Fooled Around And Fell In Love), REO Speedwagon, Mickey Thomas, The Outlaws, and the J. Geils Band. Blazek engineered those acts as well as the likes of the The Dillaeds, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter Group, Dan Fogelberg, Wishbone Ash, Karla Bonoff, The Who, and Melissa Etheridge.

The Sidemen
Two sidemen in multiracial English 1980s groups died at 62 on successive days. One was UB40’s saxophonist Brian Travers, the following day it was Simply Red keyboardist Fritz McIntyre.

In UB40, Brian Travers sounded the opening clarion call in Food For Thought, which was the band’s first hit in 1980, alongside King on the nominal A-side. Travers remained with UB40 (or faction thereof) even after the hits dried up. As a redhead, Travers stood out in the group.

Fritz McIntyre backed a redhead. His keyboards kicked off Simply Red’s first hit, Money’s Too Tight To Mention, and the first track of their debut LP, Come To My Aid (which he co-wrote). His keyboards were a key ingredient in the Simply Red arrangements. He remained with Simply Red until 1995, along the way taking shared vocals with Mick Hucknall on Wonderland from 1991’s Stars album. After leaving Simply Red, McIntyre released a solo album and then emigrated to North America to do Christian contemporary music.

The Gadda-Da-Vida Drummer
It’s one of the great drum solos in classic rock: Ron Bushy’s stickwork six minutes into Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, less musclebound fireworks than controlled aggression in a tribal rhythm. Bushy was the one constant in the changing Iron Butterfly line-ups. Of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida line-up, only one member survives, organist and lead vocalist Doug Ingle.

The Session Drummer
One of the tracks featured in memoriam of Nanci Griffith also showcased a session drummer who died in August. Kenny Malone, who played drums and percussions for Griffith in the 1980s, including the featured track from 1986. He also drummed on most of John Prine’s Sweet Revenge album (and other tracks throughout Prine’s career), as well as for acts like — and this is an abbreviated list — Dolly Parton (including on Jolene), Dobie Gray (including in Drift Away), Johnny Cash, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Billy Jo Shaver, Donna Fargo, Tony Joe White, Moe Bandy, Tompall Glazer, Carl Perkins, Ray Charles, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Crystal Gayle, Charley Pride, Dr. Hook, Barbara Mandrell, Johnny Paycheck, Reba McIntyre, Kenny Rogers, B.J. Thomas, Mac Davis, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, J. J. Cale, Townes Van Zandt, Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks, Guy Clark, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Willie Nelon, Allison Moorer, and many others.

The Queen
The first of the Mahotella Queens has gone with the death at 76 of Nobesuthu Mbadu, who has joined growling frontman Mahlatini Nkabinde among the ancestors. The South African mbaqanga group Mahlatini and The Mahotella Queens became international stars after touring with Paul Simon on his “Graceland” tour and appearing at Wembley at the concert for Nelson Mandela in 1988. The following year, they worked with with Art Of Noise on the sublime hit Yebo! (which means simply “Yes”).

By then they were household names in South Africa. The Mahotella Queens first hit their stride in the 1960s, but in 1971 the original trio, including Mbadu, left the band. Twelve years later, the three reunited and begun to have the string of hits that would bring them to international attention. After Mahlathini’s death in 1999, the Mahotella Queens continued to perform and record; their last album, a gospel set, came out in 2007.

The Hit Writer
When Irish-born singer Clodagh Rogers represented the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1971, she received death threats from those charmers in the IRA. That bizarre turn of events was the last thing on the mind of the song’s co-writer Les Vandyke, the hit-maker who has died at 90. Vandyke scored two UK #1 hits for Adam Faith (What Do You Want? and Poor Me in 1959 and 1960), and seven more Top 10 hits. He also topped the charts with Eden Kane’s 1962 hit Well I Ask You.

Altogether, he wrote 16 Top 10 hits. Not all of them were credited to Vandyke: often he used the names John Worsley or John Worth. The former was actually the name he received from is Greek-born father, who in 1929 came to London and changed his name to assimilate more speedily.

The Big Exec
Music execs don’t usually feature in the In Memoriam series, but former CBS bigwig Walter Yetnikoff merits a mention. For one thing, as president of CBS Records International from 1971 to 1975 and then president of CBS Records from 1975 to 1990, he helped guide the careers of some of my favourite acts like, including Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

But more than that, he seemed a decent sort. When Billy Joel had no control over his own compositions, Yetnikoff bought them and gave them to Joel as a birthday gift. And when MTV refused to play Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, the exec called the nascent video channel out for its racism, and threatened to pull all CBS records from MTV’s playlist. MTV relented, and Billie Jean — and the Thriller album — became a phenomenon, in large part owing to the video. At the 1984 Grammy Awards, Jackson called Yetnikoff up to the stage to receive plaudits. Others might remember Yetnikoff with less warmth — after all, he was a hard-ass music industry executive.

The Organ Man
The death of keyboardist and singer Mike Finnigan brings to three the number of people who have died in August and featured on the soundtrack of Fast Times At Ridgemont High: Finnigan played on Graham Nash’s Love Is The Reason, Allan Blazek co-produced the Ravyns’ Raised On The Radio, and Poco’s Paul Cotton is on the group’s contribution I’ll Leave It Up To You.

In his time, Finnigan worked extensively with Crosby, Stills & Nash, as a band and the trio’s solo efforts, as well as with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother And The Holding Co, Joe Cocker, Etta James, Dave Mason, Dan Fogelberg, Maria Muldaur,  Ringo Starr, Leonard Cohen, Tower of Power, Eric Burdon, Canned Heat, Rod Stewart, Eddie Money, Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, among others.

The Soccer Star
One entry I include by exercising my prerogative of authorship of the In Memoriam series: German footballer Gerd Müller was the greatest goalscorer of the last 80 years, perhaps ever. And he gets an entry here on strength of a single he released in 1969, a cash-in on his popularity titled “Dann macht es bum” (which means “Then it goes bang”). It’s a terrible oompah-music record, and Gerd’s singing suggested that he was much better off sticking to his day job of scoring an impossible tally of goals. But it made him a recording artist, so he features here.

As always, this post is reproduced in PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

 

Paul Cotton, 78, guitarist and singer of Poco, on Aug. 1
Poco – Ride The Country (1972, also as writer)
Poco – Indian Summer (1977, also as writer)
Poco – Heart Of The Night (1978, also as writer)

Allan Blazek, 71, producer, mixer and audio engineer, on Aug. 3
The Fabulous Rhinestones – Go With Change (1973, as engineer)
Eagles – Ol’ 55 (1974, as producer)
Ravyns – Raised On The Radio (1982, as producer and engineer)

Kelli Hand, 56, house musician and DJ, on Aug. 3

Jo Jo Bennett, 81, singer and percussionist of Canadian reggae band Sattalites, on Aug. 3
Sattalites – Too Late To Turn Back Now (1989)

Paul Johnson, 50, DJ and producer, on Aug. 4
Paul Johnson – Get Get Down (1999)

Razzy Bailey, 82, country musician, on Aug. 4
Razzy Bailey – She Left Love All Over Me (1981)

Anders Pettersson, 69, Swedish dansband musician, on Aug. 4

Les Vandyke, 90, English songwriter, on Aug. 6
Eden Kane – Well I Ask You (1961, as writer)
Clodagh Rodgers – Jack In The Box (1971, as co-writer)
Jimmy Helms – Gonna Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse (1973, as producer & writer)

Gary Lee Yoder, 75, psychedelic rock musician, on Aug. 7

Dennis Thomas, 70, saxophonist of Kool & the Gang, on Aug. 7
Kool & the Gang – Hollywood Swingin’ (1969)
Kool & The Gang – Too Hot (1979)
Kool & The Gang – Bad Woman (1984)

Walter Yetnikoff, 87, CBS executive, on Aug. 8

Chucky Thompson, 53, hip hop & R&B producer, on Aug. 9
Raheem DeVaughn – Woman (2008, as producer)

Killer Kau, 23, South African rapper and producer, car crash on Aug. 9

Joey Ambrose, 87, saxophonist with Bill Haley & His Comets, on Aug. 10
Bill Haley & The Comets – Shake Rattle And Roll (1954)
Bill Haley & The Comets – Rudy’s Rock (1956)
The Jodimars – Dance The Bop (1956)

Roy Gaines, 83, blues singer, guitarist and songwriter, on Aug. 11
Big Mama Thornton – You Don’t Move Me No More (1950s)
Roy Gaines & The Crusaders – A Hell Of A Night (1981, also as writer)

Mike Finnigan, 76, keyboardist and vocalist,, on Aug. 11
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Still Raining, Still Dreaming (1968, on organ)
Mike Finnigan – Misery Loves Company (1976)
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Southern Cross (1982, on keyboards and backing vocals)

Caroline Peyton, 69, singer-songwriter, on Aug. 11
Caroline Peyton – Call Of The Wild (1977)

Ronnell Bright, 91, jazz pianist, on Aug. 12
Ronnell Bright – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (1958)

Pil Trafa, 62, singer of Argentine punk band Los Violadores, on Aug. 13

Nanci Griffith, 68, folk-rock singer-songwriter, on Aug. 13
Nanci Griffith – Love At The Five And Dime (1986)
Nanci Griffith & The Blue Moon Orchestra – These Days In An Open Book (1999)
Nanci Griffith – Brave Companion Of The Road (2006)
Nanci Griffith – Just Another Morning Here (2012)

Louie Knuxx, 42, New Zealand hip hop musician, on Aug. 13

Baba Zumbi, 49, rapper, producer, founder of hip hop project Zion I, on Aug. 13
Zion I – Bird’s Eye View (2005)

Jerry Fujio, 81, Japanese singer and actor, on Aug. 14

Charli Britton, 68, Welsh drummer, on Aug. 14

Gerd Müller, 75, German football legend, on Aug. 15
Gerd Müller – Dann macht es bum (1969)

Gary ‘Chicken’ Hirsh, 81, drummer of Country Joe and the Fish, on Aug. 17
Country Joe and The Fish – Superbird (1967)

Tom T. Hall, 85, country singer-songwriter, on Aug. 20
Tom T. Hall – I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew (1967)
Clarence Carter – Harper Valley PTA (1969, as writer)
Tom T. Hall – I Love (1973)
Tom T. Hall – May The Force Be With You Always (1977)

Larry Harlow, 82, salsa musician and composer, on Aug. 20
Larry Harlow – No Hay Amigo (1974)

Ian Carey, 45, house DJ, on Aug. 20
The Ian Carey Project – Get Shaky (2008)

Peter Ind, 93, British jazz double bassist and producer, on Aug. 20
Peter Ind – Blues At The Den (1958)

Don Everly, 84, half of The Everly Brothers and songwriter, on Aug. 21
The Everly Brothers – Cathy’s Clown (1961)
The Keestone Family Singers – Melodrama (1962, as member)
The Everly Brothers – T For Texas (1968)
Emmylou Harris & Don Everly – Everytime You Leave (1979)

Bill Emerson, 83, bluegrass banjo player, on Aug. 21
Emerson & Waldron – Who Will Sing For Me (1979)

Bob Fish, 72, falsetto singer with English rock & roll revival band Darts, on Aug. 22
Darts – Let’s Hang On (1980, on lead vocals)

Eric Wagner, 62, singer of doom metal band Trouble, on Aug. 22

Brian Travers, 62, saxophonist of UB40, on Aug. 22
UB40 – Food For Thought (1980)
UB40 – Tyler (live) (1983)

Olli Wisdom, 63, trance musician, ex-singer of UK goth band Specimen, on Aug. 23
Specimen – Beauty Of Poison (1983)

Powell St. John, 80, singer-songwriter, on Aug. 22
Big Brother & The Holding Company – Bye, Bye Baby (1970)

Sheila Bromberg, 92, orchestral harpist, announced Aug. 23
The Beatles – She’s Leaving Home (1967, on harp)

Fritz McIntyre, 62, keyboardist of Simply Red, on Aug. 24
Simply Red – Come To My Aid (1985, also as co-writer)
Simply Red – Wonderland (1990, also on co-vocals)

Patrick Verbeke, 72, French blues musician, on Aug. 24

Charlie Watts, 80, drummer of The Rolling Stones, on Aug. 24
The Rolling Stones – 19th Nervous Breakdown (1966)
Marianne Faithfull – Something Better (1969, on drums)
The Rolling Stones – Beast Of Burden (1978)
Charlie Watts Quintet – Practising, Practising, Just Great (1991)

Radek Pobořil, 75, member of Czech folk-rock band Čechomor, on Aug. 24

Dave Harper, drummer with English indie band Frankie & The Heartstrings, on Aug. 25
Frankie & The Heartstrings – Hunger (2011)

Mario Gareña, 88, Colombian cumbia singer and composer, on Aug. 25
Mario Gareña – Raza (1978)

George Horn, mastering engineer, producer, announced on Aug. 26
Paul Simon – Mother And Child Reunion (1971, as mastering engineer)

Kenny Malone, 83, country/folk/blues session drummer, on Aug. 26
John Prine – Mexican Home (1973, on drums)
Townes Van Zandt – Snowin’ On Raton (1987, on drums)
Alison Krauss – It’s Goodbye And So Long To You (2017, on drums)

Marcus Birks, 40, ex-singer with English vocal group Cappella, on Aug. 27

Sam Salter, 46, soul singer, on Aug. 27
Sam Salter – It’s On Tonight (1997)

Francesc Burrull, 86, Spanish jazz musician and composer, on Aug. 28

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, 85, Jamaican reggae musician, songwriter, producer, on Aug. 29
Lee ‘King’ Perry – People Funny Boy (1968)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Soul Rebel (1970, as producer)
Junior Murvin – Police And Thieves (1976, as producer and co-writer)
Lee Scratch Perry – Perry’s Ballad (2006)

Ron Bushy, 79, drummer of Iron Butterfly, on Aug. 29
Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968, full album version)
Juicy Groove – Concert Fever (1974) (1978, on drums)

John Drake, 74, singer of garage rock band The Amboy Dukes, on Aug. 29
The Amboy Dukes – Journey To The Center Of The Mind (1968)

Lee Williams, 75, gospel singer, on Aug. 30
Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s – Come See About Me (2007)

Tommy Truesdale, 83, Scottish musician and radio presenter, on Aug. 31

Nobesuthu Mbadu, 76, singer with South African mbaqanga group Mahotella Queens, on Aug. 31
Mahotella Queens – Baphinde Joe (1970)
Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens – Thokozile (1987)
Art of Noise feat. Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens – Yebo! (1989)

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