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In Memoriam – February 2024

March 4th, 2024 1 comment

Some deaths sort of intersect with my plans: In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the first of the Hits from 1974 mixes. Among the tracks on that collection is Redbone’s Come And Get Your Love. This month we lost Butch Rillera, who played the drums on that song.

Carole King had cause for grieving in January, with two deaths which were not announced until early February. Her frequent songwriting partner, the lyricist Toni Stern passed away on January 17; then Hank Ciralo, sound engineer on almost all of her 1970s albums (including Tapestry), died on January 31.

One entry here might surprise. Carl Weathers was a famous actor, playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky series of films. Just recently I saw him on a repeated binge of the great TV series The Shield, on which Weathers had a couple of cameos as a disgraced ex-cop. Weathers tried his luck at being a soul singer, but released only one single, in 1981. It was a rather good soul number, which he had co-written. I’d like to have heard more from Weathers.

 

The Jam Kicker
In the late 1960s, there had never been a band quite like MC5 (which stood for Motor City Five). They had a raw, forceful high-energy sound, which made use of feedback and loud guitar solos, with lyrics that were militantly left-wing, and could include profanity (“Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”). They performed as part of the anti- Vietnam War protests outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that were met with rioting police.

MC5 foreshadowed, inspired and influenced the punk scene that would emerge a few years later. Playing that aggressive lead guitar was Wayne Kramer, who has died at 75. Now only drummer Dennis Thompson is still with us of the classic MC5 line-up.

MC5 didn’t last long. Subjected to government harassment, radio bans and some retailers refusing to stock their records, the band broke up in 1972, though several reunions followed. Kramer was part of those.

After MC5, Kramer was involved in a number of musical projects, including playing with Was (not Was), Bad Religion, Pere Ubu and Mudhoney. And he spent four years in jail in the 1970s for pushing drugs. This was referred to in The Clash’s song Jail Guitar Doors.

Later in life, Kramer composed music for TV and film, was still involved in social justice activism and advocacy for young musicians, and remained a frequent guest at other acts’ shows, such as Rage Against The Machine, the 1990s successors to MC5.

The Last Spinner
With the death at 85 of baritone singer Henry Fambrough, all members of the classic line-up of The Spinners are gone. Frambrough was a Spinner from the group’s founding in 1954, and apart from a military-forced gap of two years in the early 1960s, he remained with the band until April last year — a stretch of 69 years.

After he returned from the army, The Spinners were signed to Motown. It was a fallow period with no hits; Frambrough served much of it as a driver for Berry Gordy’s mother.

When success came, on Atlantic, in the 1970s, Frambrough was one of the group’s three leads.

The Can Singer
With the death of Damo Suzuki, only one member of the classic early 1970s line-up of Krautrock legends Can is still alive, keyboardist Irmin Schmidt. Japanese-born Suzuki was Can’s lead singer from 1970-73, arguably their most prolific and certainly commercially most successful period. Aside from providing lead vocals, Suzuku also co-wrote material, including the chart hit Spoon and the classic Vitamin-C.

Born in Kobe, Japan, Suzuki came to West Germany in the mid-1960s. He was spotted busking in Munich by Can bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who invited him to first overdub the recorded vocals of departed singer Malcolm Mooney and then to join the band.

After leaving Can, Suzuki became a Jehovah’s Witness and retired from the music business. Having left the Witnesses, he returned to music in 1983, with German experimental rock band Dunkelziffer and The Damo Suzuki Band, and in the 1990s with Damo Suzuki’s Network.

The Flagwaver
The first time I ever heard a Toby Keith song, it was not a happy experience. His angry patriotic song Courtesy Of The Red, White, & Blue, written in reaction to 9/11, was a perfect articulation of The Ugly American as perceived by so much of the rest of the world. It soundtracked George W Bush’s illegitimate war on Iraq. Ironically, despite having supported Bush, Keith voiced his opposition to that invasion.

Keith’s politics were complicated. A long-time Democrat, he left the party only in 2008, though he still endorsed Obama. By 2016, he played for Trump.

Keith was a huge star in country music. Of the 69 singles he released after his 1993 debut, 42 made the Billboard Country Top 10, and 20 topped those charts. In the 2000s, he crossed over. Of 37 singles released between 1999 and 2012, only two failed to make it into the Billboard Top 100 charts, 15 reached the Top 40 (none made it into the Top 10, though). The subject matter of most of these records revolved around alcohol and women who were either easy (and fond of a drink) or too much work for a catch like Toby.

 

The Wailing Bassist
Without the bass, reggae is only half a thing. Playing the bass for The Wailers on those Bob Marley records from 1970 to his death in 1981 was Aston Barrett, who went by the nickname Family Man — thus dubbed before he even had the first of his 41 children.

Barrett, a multi-instrumentalist who mentored Robbie Shakespeare of Sly & Robbie, also played on records of other acts, such as Lee Perry, The Upsetters, Peter Tosh (including on Legalize It), Taj Mahal, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Horace Andy, Max Romeo, King Tubby, Bunny Wailer, Dillinger, Al Campbell, Bunny Lee, The Paragons, and many others. He also produced Benjamin Zephaniah’s Free South Afrika, which featured on In Memoriam – December 2023.

Barrett lost a lot of money in 2006 when he unsuccessfully sued Island Records and the (not always lovable) Marley family for unpaid royalties to the tune of £60 million. The court found that Barrett had signed away his rights to any further royalties in a 1994 settlement, for which he had received a few hundred thousand dollars.

The Wailing Guitarist
Three days after Barrett died, his some-time colleague Donald Kinsey left us at age 70. Born in Gary, Indiana, Kinsey was a guitarist in the touring line-up of Bob Marley and The Wailers. In 1976, Kinsey was standing near Marley when assassins tried (and failed) to take the singer’s life at his home. Kinsey avoided being hit by using his guitar case as a shield from the bullets.

Kinsey was on guitar duty, alongside Barrett’s bass, on Peter Tosh’s Legalize It, as well as on some Burning Spears records.

In 1984, Kinsey joined his father, Big Daddy Kinsey, and his brothers in The Kinsey Report, a blues-rock band.

The Tich
You’d think that in a group whose name consists of five names, the last-named guy is something of an afterthought. But that would do injustice to Ian “Tich” Amey of English 1960s popsters Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. It was in fact Tich who co-founded the future multi-moniker band with Dozy, known to his mom as Trevor Davies.

With Dave Dee on lead vocals and Tich on lead guitar, the band had a string of hits in the UK and Europe, including Bend It, Hold Tight, Save Me, Zabadak!, I’m Okay and the UK chart-topper The Legend of Xanadu. Tich left the band briefly a couple of times in the 1960s, but remained with it until 2014. There have been two more Tichs in the band since.

In 1974 Amey released an album with John “Beaky” Dymond and Peter Mason under the moniker Mason, and then was in a band called Tracker. After 1976 he rejoined Dozy, Beaky and Mick permanently.

Of the original line-up, only Beaky and Nick survive.

The Banjo Stoneman
To a generation of US television viewers, Roni Stoneman was best known as the gap-toothed character Ida Lee Nagger on the country music comedy show Hee Haw. But above that, she was an accomplished banjo player, performing mostly with her siblings and, in the early days, father as The Stoneman Family or Stonemans, which won the CMA award for best group in 1969. In the 1970s she released a handful solo singles, none of which were successful.

The Stoneman Fanily had a link to the pioneering days of country music, long before that term (or bluegrass) was even invented. Their father and initial frontman Ernest Stoneman was among the first musicians of the genre to have a hit, in 1924 with The Sinking Of The Titanic. Alas, Stoneman lost all the wealth he had built up in a lucrative career during the Great Depression, at the far end of which Roni was born in 1938. She was one of 13 siblings who lived into adulthood (ten others died in infancy or childhood). All but one are now gone; mandolin player Donna is the last survivor.

 

The Viral Fighter
In January, Cat Janice knew that the cancer, which she had beaten once before, would soon take her, at the horribly young age of 31. So she speed-released her new song, Dance You Outta My Head, on January 19 and wrote the rights to it over to her seven-year-old son, so that he would benefit from the revenue it will create. The video went viral. Four days after releasing the song on Tik Tok, she went into hospice. Just over a month later, on February 28, she passed away.

The career of the woman born in 1993 as Catherine Janice Ipsan was brief. A classically-trained musician, she released two albums, the first in 2014, and had two of her songs featured on TV shows, Selling Sunset and Redneck Island. Her family says there are more songs waiting to be released.

Cat, who worked as a geospatial information scientist and studied towards a master’s degree in coastal geology, had first been diagnosed with cancer in early 2022. After chemo treatment, she was declared free of cancer. A few months later, it returned — alas, fatally.

The Sun Drummer
Having toured with rock & roll pioneers Billy Lee Riley and Conway Twitty, drummer Jimmy Van Eaton became a session musician on Sun Records. There he drummed for acts like Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Warren Smith, Charlie Rich, Dickey Lee, Charlie Feathers and others — and especially Jerry Lee Lewis. Among the latter’s tracks on which Van Eaton swung the sticks was Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On. Lewis called him “The creative rock ‘n’ roll drummer”.

After a brief attempt at a solo career, Van Eaton got married, packed in the rock & roll business, and joined the workforce, eventually becoming an investment banker.

On the side he played with a gospel outfit called The Seekers, with whom he released an album. In 1980 he joined Jerry Lee Lewis in a rockabilly revival project, and in 1998 he released a solo album.

The Quarryman
A friend of Paul McCartney’s since they were 11-year-olds in 1953, pianist John ‘Duff’ Lowe was asked to join The Quarrymen, the proto-Beatles, in 1958. During his two years with the band, Lowe was part of the line-up that recorded a vanity single comprising two songs, Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be The Day and In Spite Of All the Danger, a McCartney & Harrison composition. Lowe held on to that single until 1981, when he sold it to Paul McCartney.

Lowe left The Quarrymen to join another Liverpool group, which was led by future TV actor Ricky Tomlinson (the dad in the great The Royle Family). He’d periodically join later iterations of The Quarrymen.

The Non-hanging DJ
When I lived in London in the 1980s, a radio DJ to whom I took a visceral dislike was the hugely popular Steve Wright, who has died at the age of 69. The obituaries reveal the man to be of good heart and less reactionary ways than many of his BBC colleagues. Wright had a line in comedy which in our age won’t wash — witness his 1984 “comedy” single The Gay Cavalieros. I won’t inflict that on you (what I do inflict on you is bad enough).

The story goes that Morrissey of The Smiths wrote the song 1986 Panic, with its chorus of “Hang the DJ”, in righteous outrage after hearing Wright following news on the nuclear disaster by playing Wham!’s I’m Your Man. The first reports of Chernobyl were on April 28; Panic was recorded in May, so that’s a very quick turnaround. I suspect that the story might be less than iron-clad accurate: The Wham! Song had been a hit five months earlier, so no longer on BBC1’s playlist in later April 1986. Johnny Marr has said the story is largely true but exaggerated. So did Wright inspire a Smiths hit? I guess Wright was pleased at the idea of having needled Morrissey, and enjoyed the ensuing feud.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.

 

Toni Stern, 79, songwriter, on Jan. 17
Carole King – Where You Lead (1971, as co-writer)
Denise LaSalle – It’s Too Late (1972, as co-writer)

Hank Cicalo, 91, recording engineer, on Jan. 31
Carole King – Where You Lead (1971, as chief engineer; see above)
Meat Loaf – Whatever Happened To Saturday Night (1975, as chief engineer)

Carl Weathers, 76, actor and occasional soul singers, on Feb. 1
Carl Weathers – You Ought To Be With Me (1981, also as co-writer)

Wayne Kramer, 75, guitarist, singer and songwriter with rock band MC5, on Feb. 2
MC5 – Kick Out The Jams (1969, also as co-writer)
MC5 – Miss X (1971, also as writer)
Was (Not Was) – Wheel Me Out (1980, on guitar)
Wayne Kramer – Poison (1995, also as writer)

Robert ‘Corky’ Stasiak, recording engineer, on Feb. 2
Kiss – Love Gun (1977, as engineer)

Steve Brown, 66, British musician, songwriter and producer, on Feb. 2
Rumer – Am I Forgiven (2010, as producer, co-writer and on bass and keyboards)

Marcelo Yzurieta, 49, Argentine singer, guitarist and composer, on Feb. 2

Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, 77, Jamaican reggae bassist (The Wailers), on Feb. 3
Family Man Barrett – Soul Constitution (1971, also as writer)
Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey (1975, on bass)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Waiting In Vain (1977, on bass, and as co-engineer)

Virginia López, 95, Puerto Rican singer, on Feb. 3
Virginia López – Tu Me Perteneces (1960)

René Toledo, 66, Cuban jazz fusion guitarist, on Feb. 5
René Toledo – Bahia (1995)

Harold Jefta, 90, South African jazz saxophonist, announced Feb. 5
Abdullah Ibrahim – Township One More Time (1998, on alto sax)

Butch Rillera, drummer (Redbone, The Trademarks), announced Feb. 5
Redbone – Suzi Girl (1973, as member on drums)

Toby Keith, 62, country singer and songwriter, on Feb. 5
Toby Keith – How Do You Like Me Now (1999)
Toby Keith & Willie Nelson – Beer For My Horses (2003)

John Quara, 99, jazz guitarist, on Feb. 6

Donald Kinsey, 70, blues and reggae guitarist and singer, on Feb. 6
Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman No Cry (Live At The Roxy, 1976) (on guitar)
Peter Tosh – Apartheid (1977, on guitar)
The Kinsey Report – Full Moon On Main Street (1987, also as co-producer)

Pablo ‘Dead Dawg’ Grant, 26, German rapper with BHZ and TV actor, on Feb. 6

Henry Fambrough, 85, baritone singer with The Spinners, on Feb. 7
The Spinners – That’s What Girls Are Made For (1961)
The Spinners – Ghetto Child (1973, on co-lead)
The Spinners – If You Can’t Be In Love (1976, on lead)

Tony Middleton, 89, doo wop, soul and jazz singer, on Feb. 7
The Willows – Church Bells Are Ringing (1956, as lead singer)
Tony Middleton – Keep On Dancing (1969)

Mojo Nixon, 66, musician, radio DJ and actor, on Feb. 7
Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper – Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child (1989)

Bill Allred, 87, jazz trombonist, announced on Feb. 8

Damo Suzuki, 74, Japanese-born singer of Krautrock band Can, songwriter, on Feb. 9
Can – Vitamin C (1972, also as co-writer)
Dunkelziffer – I See Your Smile (1984)
Damo Suzuki’s Network – Terry White Meets J.B. (2001)

Jimmy Van Eaton, 86, rock & roll drummer, singer and producer, on Feb. 9
Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1957, on drums)
Jimmy Van Eaton – Beat-Nik (1960, also as co-writer)
Jerry Lee Lewis – Hillbilly Fever (J.M. Van Eaton Speaks) (1961, on drums)

Renata Flores, 74, Mexican pop singer and telenovela actress, on Feb. 9
Renata – Mi Novio Juan (1966)

Frank Howson, 71, Australian singer and theatre/film director, on Feb. 9
Frankie Howson – Seventeen Ain’t Young (1969)

Fritz Puppl, 79, guitarist of East German rock band City, on Feb. 10
City – Am Fenster (1977)

Randy Sparks, 90, founder of The New Christy Minstrels and songwriter, on Feb. 11
The New Christy Minstrels – Green, Green (1963, also as co-writer)
The Back Porch Majority – Southtown U.S.A. (1966, as leader and producer)

Juris Kulakovs, 65, member of Latvian rick group Pērkons, on Feb. 12

Steve Wright, 69, English radio DJ, comedy singer, on Feb. 12
Steve Wright & The Sisters Of Soul – Get Some Therapy (1983)

Eddie Cheeba, 67, hip hop DJ, on Feb. 13
Eddie Cheba – Lookin’ Good (Shake Your Body) (1979)

Kerry ‘Fatman’ Hunter, 53, jazz drummer, on Feb. 13
New Birth Brass Band – I Ate Up The Apple Tree (1997, on snare drum)

Alan Tomlinson, 74, British free jazz trombonist, on Feb. 13

Jussi Raittinen, 80, Finnish rock musician, on Feb. 13
Eero ja Jussi & The Boys – Balladi kanuunasta (1966)

Johanna von Koczian, 90, German actress and schlager singer, on Feb. 13

Ian ‘Tich’ Amey, 79, lead guitarist in Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on Feb. 15
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Zabadak! (1968)
Mason – When Freedom Comes (1973)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – She’s My Lady (1974)

Paul Schmeling, 85, jazz pianist, on Feb. 15

Fritz Hinz, 68, drummer of Canadian metal band Helix, on Feb. 16
Helix – Rock You (1984)

Dex Romweber, 57, half of roots rock band Flat Duo Jets, on Feb. 16
Flat Duo Jets – My Life, My Love (1980)
The Dex Romweber Duo – Nowhere (2011)

Cynthia Strother, 88, half of vocal duo The Bell Sisters, on Feb. 16
The Bell Sisters – Bermuda (1951, also as writer)

Etterlene DeBarge, 88, gospel singer, songwriter and matriarch, on Feb. 16
Reverend William Abney – Walk Around Heaven All Day (1975, on lead vocals)

Bhen Lanzarone, 85, pop and TV soundtrack composer, arranger, on Feb. 16
The Brothers – Are You Ready For This (1975, as co-writer and arranger)

Bobby Tench, 79, British guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger, announced Feb. 19
Jeff Beck Group – Short Business (1971, as member on lead vocals)
Linda Lewis – On The Stage (1973, on guitar)

Larry Ballard, 77, country singer and songwriter, on Feb. 19
Larry Ballard – Silver Eagle (1976, also as writer)

Judi Pulver, 77, pop singer, songwriter and keyboardist, on Feb. 20

David Libert, 81, member of pop group The Happenings, music exec, on Feb. 20
The Happenings – I Got Rhythm (1967)

Roberto Darvin, 82, Uruguayan singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Feb. 20
Roberto Darvin – Jacinto Vera (1976)

Getachew Kassa, 79, Ethiopian singer and percussionist, on Feb. 21

Kiev Stingl, 80, German rock musician and author, on Feb. 22
Kiev Stingl – Der Sommer ist längst vorbei (1975)

Vitalij Kuprij, 49, Ukrainian-born keyboardist (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), on Feb. 21
Ring Of Fire – Shadow In The Dark (2001, as member)

John Lowe, 81, English pianist with The Quarrymen, on Feb. 22
The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day (1958)
The Quarrymen – In Spite Of All The Danger (1958)

Roni Stoneman, 85, bluegrass banjo player and singer, cast member of Hee Haw, on Feb. 22
The Stoneman Family – Dark As A Dungeon (1968)
The Stonemans – According To The Plan (1970, as member on lead vocals and as co-writer)

Tina Rainford, 77, German pop singer, announced Feb. 23
Tina Rainford – Silver Bird (1976)

Shinsadong Tiger, 40, South Korean K-Pop producer and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Apink – No No No (2013, as producer and co-writer)

Laurence Canty, 74, British jazz bassist and author, announced Feb. 23

Juana Bacallao, 98, Cuban singer and dancer, on Feb. 24
Juana Bacallao & Combo Pepé Delgado – La Chismosa (Rumba)

Georg Riedel, 90, Czechoslovak-born Swedish jazz bassist and composer, on Feb. 25

Bigidagoe, 26, Dutch rapper, shot dead on Feb. 25

Peter ‘Peetah’ Morgan, 46, singer with Jamaican reggae band Morgan Heritage, on Feb. 25
Morgan Heritage – Unjust World (1994)

Martin Weiss, 62, German gypsy-jazz violinist and guitarist, on Feb. 25

Jaakko Teppo, 71, Finnish singer-songwriter, on Feb. 26

Cat Janice, 31, American singer-songwriter, on Feb. 28
Cat Janice – Pricey (2018)

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In Memoriam – January 2024

February 2nd, 2024 6 comments

On Saturday, January 14, I kicked back by watching Back To The Future, for the 256th time (it might have been the 257th; I’ve lost count). One thing struck me: if today we were to travel 30 years into the past, as Marty McFly does, we’d travel to 1994. Instead of The Ballad of Davy Crockett playing from a record store in Hill Valley, we might hear Bump n’ Grind by that nice R Kelly blaring out of a car. In 1985, the 1955 #1 song felt like it wasn’t just from another time but from another planet. As I watched, I pondered on just how perfectly chosen this pretty awful song was.

After I watched Back To The Future, I assumed my regular position on the musicians’ death watch. And whose name came up, having died at the age of 98 the previous day: Bill Hayes, the chart-topping singer of The Ballad Of Davy Crockett.

The year 2024 has started off in a hectic manner. Here’s hoping that in the coming months the Reaper will relent!

The Shangri-La
One of the seminal moments in pop is the 1964 Shangri-Las hit The Leader Of The Pack. On lead vocals on the classic record was 15-year-old Mary Weiss, who has gone to the great candy store in the sky at the age of 75.

Mary, her sister Betty and the twins Mary Ann and Margie Ganser formed the group in 1963 in New York, naming it after a local restaurant. They soon were discovered and after releasing a record that flopped, they came within the ambit of the Brill Building, and things took off. In 1964 they had a hit with Remember (Walking In The Sand), written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. It also had Mary on lead vocals (she and Betty shared lead responsibilities).

For a while, The Shanri-Las were huge. They supported The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in concerts. By 1968, however, they broke up and Mary Weiss left the music business, going into architecture and interior design, where she built a successful career.

The Songstress
The obituaries led with her 1968 hit California Soul having been sampled by many hip hop acts, but to her fans, Marlena Shaw was so much more than that. The singer effortlessly traversed soul, jazz and blues, sometimes on the same album. The only singer I can think of who was her equal in that regard was Nancy Wilson.

Shaw was only 10 years old when she made her stage debut, at the legendary Apollo in Harlem. She was introduced by her uncle Jimmy Burgess, a bandleader who taught the girl proper jazz phrasing. She went on to record a few jazz tracks on Chess, and toured with Count Basie.

But her first hit was as soul track, the Ashford & Simpson composition California Soul. The 1969 album on which it appeared, The Spice of Life, is superb, with her co-writes Woman Of The Ghetto and Liberation Conversation the stand-out tracks, in my opinion.

A string of fine albums followed, but no big hits. Shaw gained some attention with her 1974 Marlena Shaw Live At Montreux album; her long version of Woman Of The Ghetto on that set has also been liberally sampled. The following year she released the brilliantly titled Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?, her best-selling album, and maybe her best. On it, she added funk influences to her broad repertoire.

She released her final album in 2003. By my rough count, Shaw has featured on around 25 Any Major Mixes.

The Singer-Songwriter
Trivia question: Who were the only three women to perform solo at Woodstock in 1969? One of them was singer-songwriter Melanie, who has died at the age of 76. Melanie’s performance was unscheduled, standing in after the Incredible String Band (understandably) refused to perform during the rainstorm.

She later had her first hit with a song she wrote about the experience of seeing audience members lighting candles during her set, titled Lay Down (Candles In The Rain). It featured on Any Major Woodstock.

The singer born in New York as Melanie Safka was especially successful in Europe, though she had global hits with songs such her cover of The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday and her self-written Brand New Key (which got banned on some radio stations for supposed sexual innuendo involving locks and keys). Her What Have They Done To My Song Ma became a big hit in a German version by Daliah Lavi in 1971. Oh, if only Edith Piaf had lived to sing it!

By 1974, her charting career was over, but she kept recording and performing for the rest of her life. At the time of her death, Melanie was working on an album of cover versions.

And the trivia question? The other two woman were Joan Baez (six months pregnant) and Janis Joplin.

The Svengali
I remember my thoughts when I found at, at the age of 12, that the brains — and in two cases, the voice — behind Boney M was Frank Farian. “That lame schlager singer?” I thought. Before he invented Boney M, thus joining the firmament of German disco, Farian had been a marginally successful singer of German song. He had only one really big hit, a cover of Dickey Lee’s Rocky, in 1976. By then he was already producing Boney M, giving voice to dancer Bobby Farrell and — our man was nothing if not versatile — female dancer Maizie Williams.

Boney M really started in 1975 as a studio project when Farian recorded a pretty good disco reworking of Prince Buster’s 1967 song Al Capone, retitled Baby Do You Wanna Bump. Released under the name Boney M (in tribute to a popular TV series of the time), it took off, so Farian assembled the foursome that would go on to have a string of global hits.

A decade or so later, Farian scored even greater success with Milli Vanilli. We know how that story ended. When the scandal blew open, the question should have been: “With Farian’s history, why are you surprised?”

There was a bit of hypocrisy in the overreaction to Milli Vanilli. Nobody ever complained that bands like The Association or even the early Byrds didn’t play the instruments they pretended to have played on record. Nobody complains that the singer we saw on TV acting to be fronting White Plains on their hit My Baby Loves Lovin’ wasn’t the singer on the record (as discussed in the In Memoriam of October 2923 – https://halfhearteddude.com/2023/10/in-memoriam-october-2023/). That sort of thing wasn’t unusual at a time of session people releasing records before there was even a band.

If the Milli Vanilli records were good — and one can debate that — then did it really matter whether or not the singers were the pretty dancing boys. A different ethic applies to the live concerts, which turned out to expose the boys. But those idiots who litigated the “fraud” of Milli Vanilli records? Seriously?

The Hutch
Actor David Soul is best remembered as the guy with the shittier car in Starsky & Hutch, but for a brief time, he was a chart-topping singer (competing with Boney M). In 1966, half a century before it became a reality show concept, the man born David Solberg appeared on the Merv Griffiths Show wearing a mask, calling himself The Covered Man, and released a record under that name.

In 1977, the man born as David Solberg was the best-selling artist in the UK, having scored two #1 hits with the soppy ballad Don’t Give Up On Us (also a US #1) and the superb country-tinged Silver Lady, which sandwiched a #2 hit, Going In With My Eyes Open. Another Top 10 hit followed in late 1977/early 1978, and a #12 hit in mid-1978 closed off Soul’s brief but bright chart career.

Subsequent releases in the 1980s did no business, except for a minor bit in the Netherlands and Belgium with the schlager-like Dreamers.

In 2004, Soul returned the stage in London, talking the lead role in Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Chuck D’s Favourite Jouralist
In August 2021, I asked the English music journalist Neil Kulkarni for permission to use his comments on the passing of Charlie Watts, which he happily gave. Two-and-a-half years later, Kulkarni is featuring in this series as the subject of a mini-obit.

Kulkarni was a sharp writer, in intellect and words, for the Melody Maker, The Quietus, The Wire and many other UK-based publications, print and digital. As one of the very few music journalists of colour in the UK, Kulkarni took the fight to the institutionalised racism he found everywhere. That was how he got the Melody Maker gig: by writing a letter accusing the weekly of perpetuating racism by excluding artists of colour. The letter was brilliantly written, and the editor gave Kulkarni his shot at changing things.

Kulkarni not only wrote about music, but made it as well, being a member of indie trio Moonbears, on vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass. So while I normally do not feature journalists in this series, Neil qualifies by dint of his band (he would have featured anyway, I suppose).

Over the past few years, he was one of the panellists on the mind-bogglingly great Chart Music podcast, recording an episode live on stage in Birmingham just a couple of weeks before his sudden death. Among the fine panelists on Chart Music, Kulkarni was the least guarded one, freely talking about his upbringing and his life (on which he also wrote a book). For all his caustic writings, and for all the personal tragedies he had suffered, he exuded a joy of life that found expression in a wonderful laugh. That laugh, that joy, was extinguished when Neil passed away at 51 from a heart attack on January 22.

Widowed himself in 2018, he leaves two orphaned teenage daughters. His long-time friend and fellow music journalist David Stubbs set up a crowdfunding campaign on the day he learnt of Neil’s death. It is an astonishing mark of the affection and respect many people had for Neil Kulkarni that within three days, £35,000 pounds had been raised to safeguard the future of his children. The appeal is ongoing.

And get this: Upon learning of Kulkarni’s death, Public Enemy’s Chuck D tweeted a tribute by way of a drawing he made of Neil, from memory. How many music journalists have that kind of impact on legends of the game?

I recommend Simon Price’s excellent obituary on The Quietus website.

The Drum Innovator
If Hal Blaine or Earl Palmer were not available, Frank DeVito might have been the Wrecking Crew drummer whom producers might call on. So DeVito played on many of the early Phil Spector productions, usually on percussions. He also appeared on recordings by 1960s acts like Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys (including Surfin’ USA), Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass (Whipped Cream…), Sam Cooke (Shake), Dick Dale, Ricky Nelson, The Ventures, The Monkees and others. And in 1968, he backed Elvis on his televised Comeback Special, playing bongos in the rock & roll segment.

But his pedigree was established long before that. In the 1950s and early ’60s, DeVito backed or performed with jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Buddy DeFranco, The Mills Brothers, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and others.

He played drums on The Mills Brothers’ 1952 classic Glow-Worm, and backed Frank Sinatra on record (tracks like Witchcraft, So Long My Love, and Summer Wind) and on stage (including Sinatra’s 1957 live album).

After his session career wound down, DeVito became an innovator of musical instruments and drum accessories, founding Danmar Percussion in 1970. In his workshop, he would find solutions for drummers who struggled to create a particular sound or faced other problems.

The Politician
I cannot imagine many greater entries on a composer’s resumé than having written a country’s national anthem. Angolan guitarist, singer and songwriter Ruy Mingas, who has died at 84, had that privilege when his composition “Angola Avante” was chosen as his country’s national anthem following its liberation from Portuguese colonialism in 1975.

Mingas then went into politics — in a country that was marked by civil war, fanned by apartheid South Africa and the US on the one side, and the Soviet Union and Cuba on the other. He had already been prominently involved in the struggle for independence, on a diplomatic level. In 1979 the former athlete became Angola’s first minister for sports, and after ten successful years in that portfolio, he served for five years as the ambassador to Portugal.

The Theme Composer
British and European TV viewers of the 1960s and ’70s have quite likely heard the music of British composer Laurie Johnson.

Johnson, who has died at 96, was the composer and in most cases bandleader of TV themes such as The Avengers, This Is Your Life, Animal Magic, Jason King, The New Avengers, The Professionals and more. He also wrote the main theme for Dr Strangelove.

His only UK chart success was with a theme he didn’t write. With a tune titled Sucu Sucu, which served as the theme for the rather short-lived spy series Top Secret, he reached #9 in 1961.

The Krautrocker
As a founding member of Amon Düül II, Chris Karrer was a pioneer of what would become the Krautrock genre, the German art-rock movement of the 1970s. Amon Düül were founded in 1967 in Munich’s radical countercultural art commune scene. Karrer, who was studying fine arts there, played guitar, violin and saxophone for the band, and provided vocals. He was also a composer.

Amon Düül released their first album in 1969. A year later, they wrote the score for the film San Domingo for which they were awarded the Deutscher Filmpreis, the German Oscars.

After Amon Düül split for the first time in 1981 (they reformed in 2010), Karrer released a solo albums and contributed to jazz-rock band Embryo. More solo albums followed in the 1990s, on which Karrer experimented with diverse influences, such as flamenco and sufism.

The Suffragette
It is quite remarkable that of the four principal adult actors in 1964’s Mary Poppins, three were alive when 2023 turned to 2023. A few days into the new year, the Banks children’s mother Glynis Johns joined Mr Banks’ David Tomlinson in the afterlife, at the grand age of 100.

South African-born Johns had only one song in the film, Sister Suffragette. Later she was the first singer to perform the classic Send In The Clowns in the 1973 Broadway musical A Little Night Music; for which she won a Tony. Stephen Sondheim wrote the song specifically for Johns, to compensate for her inability to hold a long note; that is why the song is structured in short phrases and questions.

The Fusing Swede
ABBA fans will want to check out the Ainbusk Singers’ song Lassie, Sweden’s Christmas #1 in 1990, which was co-written and produced by Benny Andersson. He composed the music, while the text was written by Marie Nilsson, who has died 62. I would wager that on his deathbed, Benny will not regard that as his proudest musical moment, but its folk tune and sentimental lyrics about a lonely girl who met the eponymous dog clearly had popular appeal.

Ainbusk (they dropped the “Singers” part of their name in the late 1990s) were a pop-folk group of four women singers, including Marie and her sister Josefine, who died in 2016. They often covered English songs in Swedish, incorporating the folk music of their country in their interpretations.

The Football Legend
Just over a year ago we lost Pelé, the greatest attacking football (or, for our US viewers, “soccer”) player of his generation and possibly all time; on January 7 the greatest all-round player of all time, Franz Beckenbauer, joined the Celestial XI. And like Pelé, Beckenbauer tried himself as a singer, which explains why he appears here.

In 1966/67 the young player, still only 21, released two singles. Neither as a hit, but the flip-side of the first of them, went on to become something of a cult number, a song titled Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (Nobody can break up good friends). The b-side of the follow up had a suitably clichéd title: One-Nil For Love. Thankfully Beckenbauer subsequently pursued his sporting talent rather than his warbling aspirations.

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.

Jay Clayton, 82, avant-garde jazz singer and educator, on Dec. 31
Jay Clayton – You Taught My Heart To Sing (2001)

Chris Karrer, 76, guitarist and composer with German rock band Amon Düül II, on Jan. 2
Amon Düül II – All The Years Round (1972)
Amon Düül II – Emigrant Song (1975)
Chris Karrer – Bolero Moro (1994)

Tawl Ross, 75, rhythm guitarist of Funkadelic (1968-71), on Jan. 3
Funkadelic – Super Stupid (1971, also as co-writer)

Quinho do Salgueiro, 66, Brazilian samba singer, on Jan. 3

David Soul, 80, actor and singer, on Jan. 4
David Soul – The Covered Man (1966)
David Soul – Silver Lady (1977)
David Soul – It Sure Brings Out the Love in Your Eyes (1978)

Glynis Johns, 100, South African-born British actress, on Jan. 4
Glynis Johns – I Can’t Resist Men (1954)
Glynis Johns – Sister Suffragette (1964)
Glynis Johns – Send In The Clowns (1973)

Ruy Mingas, 84, Angolan composer, singer, guitarist and politician, on Jan. 4
Ruy Mingas – Mu Cinkola (1970)
Ruy Mingas – Pango Dia Penha (1974)
Angola Avante (National anthem of Angola) (as composer in 1975)

Marie Nilsson Lind, 62, singer with Swedish pop band Ainbusk, on Jan. 4
Ainbusk Singers – Lassie (1990, also as lyricist)
Ainbusk Singers – Varje steg du tar (Every Breath You Take) (1993)

Morfi Grei, 64, Spanish rock singer, on Jan. 4

Mike Ross-Trevor, British recording engineer, announced Jan. 5
Fleetwood Mac – Black Magic Woman (1968, as engineer)
Culture Club – Victims (1983, orchestral overdub)

Del Palmer, 71, English singer-songwriter, bass guitarist for Kate Bush, engineer, on Jan. 5
Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) (1985, on fretless bass)

Gene Deer, 59, blues, rock and country musician, on Jan. 5
Gene Deer & The Blues Band – Just Shoulda’ Lay’d Off’a The Booze (1998)

Larry Collins, 79, half of duo The Collins Kids, guitarist, songwriter, on Jan. 5
The Collins Kids – Hop, Skip And Jump (1957, also on guitar)
Tanya Tucker – Delta Dawn (1972, as co-writer)

Terry Goldberg (aka Tom Parker), organist of UK blues-rock band Mark Leeman 5, on Jan. 6
Mark Leeman 5 – Portland Town (1965)

Amparo Rubín, 68, Mexican singer and lyricist, on Jan. 6

Iasos, 76, Greek-born new age musician, on Jan. 6
Iasos – Aries (1975)

Sarah Rice, 68, theatre actress and singer, on Dec. 6
Sarah Rice – Green Finch And Linnet Bird (1986)

Tony Clarkin, 77, guitarist and songwriter of UK rock band Magnum, on Jan. 7
Magnum – It Must Have Been Love (1988, also as writer)

Germana Caroli, 92, Italian singer, on Jan. 7
Germana Caroli – Ehi tu! (1954)

Jacky Boyadjian, 79, French jazz musician (Les Happy Stompers), on Jan. 7

Franz Beckenbauer, 78, German football legend, schlager singer, on Jan. 7
Franz Beckenbauer – Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (1966)

Guy Bonnet, 78, French singer, composer and author, on Jan. 8
Guy Bonnet – Marie Blanche (1970, also as co-writer)

Phill Niblock, 90, avant-garde composer and filmmaker, on Dec. 8

Gian Franco Reverberi, 89, Italian film composer and musician, on Jan. 8
Gianfranco & Gianpiero Reverberi – Nel cimitero di Tucson (1968, as co-composer)

Diego Gallardo, 31, Ecuadorian singer-songwriter, shot by stray gangster bullet on Jan. 9

James Kottak, 61, hard rock drummer, on Jan. 9
Scorpions – 10 Light Years Away (1999, as member)

Audie Blaylock, 61, bluegrass singer and guitarist, on Jan. 10
Audie Blaylock and Redline – (Is This) My Destiny (2019)

Sigi Schwab, 83, German jazz musician, on Jan. 11

Annie Nightingale, 83, pioneering English BBC disc-jockey, on Jan. 11

Bill Hayes, 98, singer and actor, on Jan. 12
Bill Hayes – Ballad Of Davy Crockett (1955)

Anthony Holt, 83, baritone with English a cappella group The King’s Singers, on Jan. 12

Jo-El Sonnier, 77, country and Cajun singer-songwriter and accordionist, on Jan. 13
Jo-El Sonnier – No More One More Time (1987)

Jerry Coker, 91, jazz saxophonist and educator, on Jan. 15

Enrique ‘Zurdo’ Roizner, 84, Argentine drummer, on Jan. 14
Kevin Johansen + The Nada – El Palomo (2004, on drums)

Dana Ghia, 91, Italian actress and singer, announced Dec. 15
Dana Ghia – Per tutta la vita (1959)

Ernst August Wehmer, 72, singer of German punk band Rotzkotz, announced Jan. 16

Laurie Johnson, 96, English film & TV composer and bandleader, on Jan. 16
The Laurie Johnson Orchestra – Sucu Sucu (Theme from ‘Top Secret’) (1961)
The Laurie Johnson Orchestra – ‘The New Avengers’ Theme (1976, also as composer)

Serge Laprade, 83, Canadian singer and broadcaster, on Jan. 17

Slim Pezin, 78, French guitarist, arranger and conductor, on Jan. 18
Voyage – From East To West (1977, as member on guitar, percussions, and as co-writer)
Mylène Farmer – Maman à tort (1984, on guitar)

Silent Servant, 46, Guatemalan-born techno DJ and producer, on Jan. 18

The Soft Moon, 44, rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 18
The Soft Moon – Far (2015)

Katelele Ching’oma, 32, Malawian musician, on Jan. 18

Mary Weiss, 75, lead singer of The Shangri-Las, on Jan. 19
The Shangri-Las – Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand) (1964, on lead vocals)
The Shangri-Las – I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965, on lead vocals)
The Shangri-Las – Take The Time (1967, on lead vocals)

Marlena Shaw, 81, soul and jazz singer, on Jan. 19
Marlena Shaw – Liberation Conversation (1969, also as co-writer)
Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto (live) (1974, also as co-writer)
Marlena Shaw – Loving You Was Like A Party (1975)
Marlena Shaw – Ma/Go Away Little Boy (1977)

Charles Austin, 93, jazz saxophonist and flutist, composer, on Jan. 19
Joe Gallivan & Charles Austin – Cry Of Hope (1976, also as composer)

Pluto Shervington, 73, Jamaican reggae musician, singer, producer, on Jan. 19
Pluto Shervington – Dat (1975, also as writer)

Charles Boles, 91, jazz pianist, on Jan. 19

Frank Shea, 93, jazz and R&B drummer, on Jan. 20
Willis Jackson & Brother Jack McDuff – Backtrack (1967, on drums)

Charis Kostopoulos, 59, Greek singer-songwriter, on Jan. 20

Philippe ‘Fifi’ Combelle, 84, French jazz drummer, on Jan. 20
Toots Thielemans – Talk To Me (1961, on drums)
Georges Moustaki – Ma Liberté (live) (1970, on tabla)

Neil Kulkarni, 51, music journalist, podcaster and member of Moonbears, on Jan. 22
The Moonbears – Waxheads (2013, also as co-writer)
The Moonbears – Do This To Death (2016, also as co-writer)

Frank DeVito, 93, session drummer and percussionist, on Jan. 22
The Mills Brothers – The Glow-Worm (1952, on drums)
Frank Sinatra – Witchcraft (1957, on drums)
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A. (1963, om drums)
Elvis Presley – Trouble/Guitar Man (live (1968, on bongos)

Margo Smith, 84, country singer, on Jan. 22
Margo Smith – Still A Woman (1978)

Sergei Yefremenko, 51, singer-guitarist of Russian ska band Markscheider Kunst, on Jan. 22

Melanie Safka, 76, singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 23
Melanie – Look What They’ve Done To My Song Ma (1970)
Melanie – Brand New Key (1971)
Melanie – Didn’t You Ever Love Somebody (1983)

Black Kappa, 46, Jamaican rapper, on Jan. 23

Frank Farian, 82, German singer, songwriter, producer, svengali, on Jan. 23
Frank Farian – Rocky (1975)
Boney M. – Baby Do You Wanna Bump (1975, as Boney M.)
Boney M. – Ma Baker (1977, as producer and on vocals)
La Bouche – Fallin’ In Love (1994, as producer)

Anders ‘Dagger’ Sandberg, 55, singer of Swedish dance band Rednex, on Jan. 23

Anders Lampe, 59, guitarist of Danish pop band Bamses Venner, on Jan. 24

Shelley Ganz, lead singer, rhythm guitarist of garage band The Unclaimed, announced Jan. 24
The Unclaimed – Time To Time (1980)

Conrad Chase, 58, actor, singer and reality TV personality, announced Jan. 25

Bruno Amstad, c.59, Swiss jazz singer, on Jan. 25

Michael Watford, 80, house music singer, on Jan. 26
Michael Watford – So Into You (1994)

Michel Hausser, 96, French jazz vibraphonist, on Jan. 26

Dean Brown, 68, jazz fusion guitarist and singer, composer, on Jan. 26
Dean Brown – Feed My Jones (2004, also as writer)

Lillebjørn Nilsen, 73, Norwegian folk singer-songwriter, on Jan. 27

Franco Tozzi, 79, Italian singer, on Jan. 29
Franco Tozzi – I Tuoi Occhi Verdi (1965)

Tony Cedras, 71, South African jazz multi-instrumentalist, on Jan. 29
Pacific Express – Look At The Smile (1979, as member on keyboards)
Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years (live) (1991, on keyboard)

Yuri Ilchenko, 72, singer and guitarist with Russian rock bands Mify, Zemlyane, on Jan. 29

Hinton Battle, 67, stage musical and TV actor, dancer and soul singer, on Jan. 30
Hinton Battle – Is It Too Late (1986)

Chita Rivera, 91, stage and TV actress, singer, on Jan. 30|
Chita Rivera – Ten Cents A Dance (1962)

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In Memoriam – December 2023

January 2nd, 2024 4 comments

We have entered the mid-2020s now. WTF? Do you realise that 2040 is as soon as 2008 is recent? In 2008, this blog was already going and listed twice on The Guardian’s blog-roll of recommended sites. I doubt it’ll still be going in 2040 (or whether humanity will still be going).

Anyway, here’s the list of December 2023’s dead and their music — a busy old month. That’s true even outside music. The death in December that hit the hardest was that of actor André Braugher on December 11. In my view, he was one of the great actors of his generation, especially in his masterful portrayal of Det. Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life On The Streets.

The Wingsman
Often unjustly seen as merely the third wheel on the Wings tandem that was Paul and Linda (or as the foreman of the other two transient members), Denny Laine was a loyal lieutenant to McCartney’s creative genius. At times the multi-instrumentalist contributed with his songwriting, most famously as the co-writer of the record-breaking single Mull Of Kintyre (a song he later re-recorded on a solo album of Wings songs).

Laine befriended McCartney when his band, The Moody Blues, toured with The Beatles in 1965. The same year, having sung lead on the group’s 1964 breakthrough hit Go Now, Laine left The Moody Blues, and formed a couple of bands, but to no great effect. He also played in the supergroup Ginger Baker’s Air Force before hooking up with McCartney to form Wings.

The Jazz Innovator
In jazz pianist Les McCann, who has died at 88, we have lost a pioneer in soul-jazz who helped shaped the sound of jazz in the 1960s and ’70s. He fused his improvisational jazz techniques with R&B, soul, blues and gospel, creating often catchy grooves that could cross over. In the early 1970s, he was one of the first musicians to make extensive use of the synthesizer in jazz.

McCann, a dynamic live performer, often incorporated social and political themes in his work.

His 1969 live album with saxophonist Eddie Harris, Les McCann Ltd. in San Francisco, is considered a landmark recording in the soul jazz. It produced a hit with the anti-Vietnam War hit Compared To What, a song written by his pal Gene McDaniels which McCann had previously recorded in 1966. It also appeared on Roberta Flack’s debut album; a year later McCann would duet with Flack on his soul album Comment — and the great pianist even had Flack contribute on piano to several tracks.

McCann was also an accomplished artist and photographer.

The Smothers Brother
Half of comedy duo Smothers Brothers is now gone, after the death at 86 of Tom Smothers. The act — first a folk-duo before switching to comedy with musical interludes — didn’t travel well outside America, but in the US they were legends. In the 1960s they had their own comedy TV show, which was cancelled because of their political content and countercultural leanings.

After it was cancelled in 1969, the show won an Emmy Award for Best Writing. Tom was the show’s lead writer, but asked not to be listed in the nomination because he knew that his name was controversial. The academy corrected thus by presenting Tom with an Emmy four decades llater. The Smothers Brothers were inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2010.

Tom was the left-winger of the duo, with brother Dick more moderate in his politics. Tom was on stage at the legendary Monterey Festival in 1967 to introduce acts, and was part of the live recording of his friend John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance during the Montreal Bed-in, which was released as a single. See the clip here.

He also had the pleasure of being punched by Bill Cosby, who took exception to being told that he did not involve himself enough in the struggle for civil rights. Who knew that Cosby was not a nice guy?

Tom Smothers also appeared in a number of films.

The Shooting Star
Since scoring a huge hit in South Africa with her superb 2011 debut album Loliwe, the country’s second-fastest selling album ever, Afro soul singer Zahara was one of her country’s most popular singers, performing in Xhosa and English. By the time she died after a short illness at the absurdly young age of 36, the singer-songwriter and guitarist had released five studio albums, and a live set. She won 17 South African Music Awards.

Born as Bulelwa Mkutukana in a shantytown in East London, Zahara (her stage is Arabic for “blooming flower”) was a sensation when she burst on to the scene, and was even invited to perform for Nelson Mandela at his home, shortly before his death in December 2013.

Her second album came out in 2013, but then tragedy struck in the form of the murder of her brother in 2014, which sent her into a depression and battles with alcohol addiction, which caused the liver damage that eventually killed her.

The Hard Rocker
As the co-founder of Canadian rock band April Wine, Myles Goodwyn was the band’s lead singer and principal songwriter, and usually producer or co-producer, leading the group from its founding in 1969, through the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, to its final concert on March 2, 2023, in Truro, Nova Scotia. He released 16 studio albums with April Wine, and two albums as a solo artist.

Earlier this year, Goodwyn was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, where he resides alongside the likes of Robbie Robertson, Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson, whom we have also lost in the 12 months preceding his death.

The Jazz Master
As a young man in 1957-58, Willie Ruff played for Miles Davis on the French horn; a decade or so later, he backed Leonard Cohen on the bass, and soon after Shuggie Otis and the post-Morrison Doors.

He almost made it on to Joni Mitchell’s great Blue album, but the take of River on which he contributed with the French horn wasn’t used. He also played on unused versions of Urge For Going and Hunter; the three tracks finally were released in a box set in 2021.

Aside from releasing two solo albums and 16 with jazz pianist Dwike Mitchell (a lifelong friend after they met in 1947 in the army), Ruff backed acts like Lionel Hampton, Gil Evans, Oscar Peterson, Quincy Jones, Milt Jackson, Lalo Schifrin, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Stitt, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Les McCann, and many others.

Before he even started recording, Alabama-born Ruff had earned a Master’s degree in music from Yale University. From 1971 until 2017, when he retired at the age of 86, he was a professor at Yale, teaching music history, ethnomusicology, and arranging. Wikipedia tells us: “Ruff’s classes at Yale, often with partner Dwike Mitchell, were free-flowing jam sessions: roller-coaster rides through the colours of American Improvisational Music. The duo could play in the style of most notable jazz artists and related styles.”

He was also a founding director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship Program at Yale, a school-based initiative established in 1972, which is estimated to have reached 180,000 young people in its first 30 years.

The Songwriter
She never had her big breakthrough but Essra Mohawk became something of a cult figure and other singers had success with songs she wrote. Things might have been different for the early Zappa collaborator, who was born in Philadelphia as Sandra Hurvitz. In 1969, she was supposed to perform at Woodstock, but her manager messed up that opportunity.

Essra took the stage surname from her husband, producer Frazier Mohawk (née Friedman). Between 1969 and 2017 she released 14 album. She also wrote for other acts, scoring hits with 1986’s Change Of Heart by Cyndi Lauper and Stronger Than The Wind by Tina Turner, and did backing vocals for acts like Kool & The Gang, John Mellencamp, and Carole King.

The Dub Poet
British-Jamaican poet Benjamin Zephaniah was best-known for spoken word poetry and writings, and maybe his forays into acting. A well-known public figure in Britain, Zephaniah was also an energetic activist and commentator on social and political issues. In 2008, The Times listed him among Britain’s top 50 post-war writers

His poetry and activism found a platform in his recorded music. Between 1983 and 2018 he released about a dozen dub poetry albums, some of them collaborations with others, dealing with themes such as racism, inequality, and social justice.

The Bossa Nova Pioneer
The kicked-back variation of samba which we call bossa nova didn’t have a name yet when composer Carlos Lyra contributed to its rise. He was part of a group of musicians around the popular singer Sylvia Telles whom a journalist dubbed “the Bossa Nova group”. That was in 1957, and the name stuck. Two years later, Lyra wrote for the singer who would come to personify the genre like few others, João Gilberto.

Lyra collaborated with the likes of Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Geraldo Vandré.

The Hitwriter
When Richard Kerr put music to Scott English’s lyrics for the song Brandy, he had no way of knowing that he had just written one of the big hits of the 1970s and the 2000s. It did little business for Scott English, but retitled as Mandy, it was a massive hit for Barry Manilow in 1974, and again for Westlife in 2003.

Manilow would have hits with other Kerr song: Looks Like We’ve Made It and Somewhere In the Night; the latter was also a hit for Helen Reddy. Kerr also wrote the memorable tunes for hits like Dionne Warwick’s I’ll Never Love This Way Again (originally recorded by Cheryl Ladd) and, earlier in his career, Blue Eyes, a UK #3 hit for Don Partridge in 1968.

The Funkster
Even if you are not familiar with the eight-album solo output of soul-funkster Amp Fiddler, or his work in the 1980s and ’90s with George Clinton, you’ll have heard him play keyboards on hits such as Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, Charles & Eddie’s Would I Lie To You, or Brand New Heavies’ Dream On Dreamer.

Fiddler also backed acts like Warren Zevon, Was (Not Was), Prince, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Jamiroquai, Maxwell, Angélique Kidjo, Leon Ware, Corinne Bailey Rae, Qwestlife, Meshell’ Ndegeocello and others.

The ’50s Singer
Born as Lorraine DiAngelis, Lola Dee recorded under two names in the early and mid-1950s, though she had been signed to her first recording contract as a 16-year-old in 1944. Adopting her mother’s maiden name, she had some success as Lola Ameche, scoring Top 30 hits with Pretty Eyed Baby and Hitsity Hotsity in 1951.

As Lola Dee she had a couple more hits, selling a reported half a million with a version of The Platters’ Only You in 1955. By 1957 her recording career was over. Lola Dee, who could sing in almost any genre, toured with the likes of Bob Hope, Johnnie Ray, and Jimmy Durante. She kept performing until the late 1970s

The First Drummer
It’s a story of what might have been… When AC/DC recorded their first single in 1974 — a glam number titled Can I Sit Next To You, Girl — the band’s original drummer was Colin Burgess. The drummer had already tasted some success with the band Master’s Apprentice, with whom he had three Australian Top 20 hits.

Burgess didn’t last long in AC/DC. He was fired for being drunk on stage (he claimed his drinks had been spiked). Successor Phil Rudd was on the drums when Can I Sit Next To You Girl was re-recorded for the High Voltage album, with Bon Scott on vocals instead of original singer Dave Evans.

In a twist of fate, Burgess met Bon Scott at the Music Factory in London on the night in February 1980 when the singer died, becoming one of the last people to speak with Scott.

The Tennis Pro
If ever there was an all-rounder, Torben Ulrich was one. The father of Metallica’s Lar Ulrich had a long career as a tennis player, from 1940s to the latter parts of the 1970s, becoming the oldest-ever Davis Cup player in history, representing Denmark. He reached the 4th round of the US Open on four occasions between 1953 and 1968.

In between, he was also a writer for Danish jazz magazines and newspapers, and was the co-editor of a literary magazine. Several books of his writings on various subjects have been published. Ulrich also appeared in a couple of films, and directed a few more. At the age of 82, he directed a dance project in Seattle. He was also an internationally exhibited artist.

In the 1950s, Ulrich played the clarinet in a Dixieland jazz band. Half a century later, he released the first of five free jazz albums, between 2005 and 2021.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.

Roy Gerson, 64, jazz pianist and actor, on Dec. 2
Roy Gerson – Somebody Loves Me (1992)

Myles Goodwyn, 75, lead singer, guitarist, songwriter of April Wine, on Dec. 3
April Wine – Tonite Is A Wonderful Time To Fall In Love (1974, also as writer and co-producer)
April Wine – Child’s Garden (1977, also as writer and producer)
April Wine – Enough Is Enough (1982, also as writer and co-producer)

Vlado Pravdić, 73, Bosnian keyboardist of Yugoslav rock band Bijelo Dugme, on Dec. 4
Bijelo Dugme – Selma (1974)

John Hyatt, c.63, singer of English post punk band The Three Johns, on Dec. 4
The Three Johns – Brainbox (He’s A Brainbox) (1985)

Denny Laine, 79, musician and singer (Wings, Moody Blues), songwriter, on Dec. 5
The Moody Blues – Go Now (1964, on lead vocals)
Ginger Baker’s Air Force – You Wouldn’t Believe It (1970, as member and co-writer)
Wings – Time To Hide (1976, on lead vocals and as writer)
Denny Laine – Mull Of Kintyre (1996, also as co-writer)

Mama Diabaté, 63, Guinean singer and musician, on Dec. 5
Mama Diabaté – Djouya (1993)

Lils Mackintosh, 68, Dutch jazz and blues singer, on Dec. 5
Lils Mackintosh – On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1997)

Jimmy Villotti, 79, Italian jazz musician, on Dec. 6
Jimmy Villotti – Drin Drin (1993)

Michel Sardaby, 88, French jazz pianist and composer, on Dec. 6
Michel Sardaby – Gail (1965)

Lola Dee, 95, pop singer, on Dec. 7
Lola Ameche – Rock The Joint (1952)
Lola Dee – Altar Of Love (1954)

Benjamin Zephaniah, 65, British poet, writer, actor, dub recording artist, on Dec. 7
Benjamin Zephaniah – Free South Afrika (1986, also as writer and on percussions)
Benjamin Zephaniah – Wake Up (1996)

Teresa Silva Carvalho, 88, Portuguese singer, on Dec. 7

Ramón Ayala, 96, Argentinian poet and singer, on Dec. 7
Ramón Ayala – El Mensú (1976)

Terry Baucom, 71, bluegrass singer and banjo player, on Dec. 7
Boone Creek – Dixieland (1977, as member on banjo)

Nidra Beard, 71, singer with disco trio Dynasty, on Dec. 8
Dynasty – I Don’t Wanna Be A Freak (1979)

Cayle Sain, 31, drummer of metal band Twitching Tongues, on Dec. 10

Jimmy Ayoub, 70, drummer of Canadian band Mahogany Rush, on Dec. 10
Mahogany Rush – Land Of 1000 Nights (1975)

Chuck Stern, 44, frontman of experimental rock band Time of Orchids, on Dec. 10
Time of Orchids – Darling Abandon (2007)

Essra Mohawk, 75, folk singer-songwriter, on Dec. 11
Essra Mohawk – I’ll Give It To You Anyway (1970)
Essra Mohawk – Openin’ My Love Doors (1974)
Cyndi Lauper – Change Of Heart (1986, as writer)

Zahara, 36, South African Afro soul singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Dec. 11
Zahara – Ndize (2011)
Zahara – Bhekile (2013)
Zahara – Nqaba Yam (2021)

John ‘Rambo’ Stevens, English producer and manager, on Dec. 11

Richard Kerr, 78, English singer and songwriter, on Dec. 11
Scott English – Brandy (1972, also as composer)
Richard Kerr – Somewhere In The Night (1976, also as composer)
Dionne Warwick – I’ll Never Love This Way Again (1979, as composer)

Jeffrey Foskett, 67, singer, songwriter, producer (Beach Boys), on Dec. 11
Jeffrey Foskett – Sunshine All The Time (1997)

Ole Paus, 76, Norwegian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12

Jerry Puckett, 84, session guitarist, engineer, on Dec. 12
King Floyd – Groove Me (1971, on guitar and as engineer)

Travis Dopp, guitarist of punk band Small Brown Bike, on Dec. 13

Giorgos Tolios, 58, drummer of Greek alt.rock band TRYPES, on Dec. 14
ΤΡΥΠΕΣ – Το Τρένο (1993)

Rüdiger Wolff, 70, singer, songwriter, actor and TV presenter, on Dec. 14
Rüdiger Wolff – Wohin geh’n wir (1983)

Bob Johnson, 79, guitarist, singer and songwriter with Steeleye Span, on Dec. 15
Steeleye Span – Alison Gross (1973, on lead vocals)
Steeleye Span – Edward (1986, as writer and on lead vocals)

Guy Marchand, 86, French actor and singer, on Dec. 15
Guy Marchand – Ça vous laisse perplexe (1965)

Tim Norell, 68, Swedish musician, songwriter and producer, on Dec. 15
Secret Service – Cutting Corners (1982, as member on guitar and co-writer)

Pete Lucas, 73, bass guitarist of The Troggs (1974-2022), on Dec. 16
The Troggs – Feeling For Love (1977)

Carlos Lyra, 90, Brazilian singer, composer and Bossa Nova pioneer, on Dec. 16
Sylvia Telles – Menina (1954, as writer)
João Gilberto – Maria Ninguém (1959, as writer)
Carlos Lyra – Chora Tua Tristeza (1964, also as writer)

Óscar Agudelo, 91, Colombian singer, on Dec. 16

Colin Burgess, 77, Australian rock drummer, on Dec. 16
Master’s Apprentices – Because I Love You (1971, as member)
AC/DC – Can I Sit Next To You, Girl (1974, as member)

Manny Martínez, 69, ex-drummer of punk band The Misfits, on Dec. 16

Mike Maxfield, 79, songwriter, guitarist of English band The Dakotas, announced Dec. 17
The Dakotas – The Cruel Sea (1963, also as writer)
Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)

Amp Fiddler, 65, funk musician, composer and producer, on Dec. 17
Prince – We Can Funk (1990, on keyboards and backing vocals)
Brand New Heavies – Dream On Dreamer (1994, on keyboards)
Amp Fiddler – Possibilities (2003)

Lewis Pragasam, 66, Malaysian jazz fusion drummer, on Dec. 18

Susanna Parigi, 62, Italian singer-songwriter and pianist, on Dec. 18
Susanna Parigi – Grazie alla vita (2016)

Russell Hunter, 76, drummer with UK rock bands Pink Fairies, Deviants, on Dec. 19
The Deviants – You’ve Got To Hold On (1968, also as co-writer)
The Pink Fairies – The Snake (1971, also as co-writer)

Ronnie Caryl, 70, English guitarist and singer, on Dec. 19
Ronnie Caryl – You Got It (1983, also as writer)

Bram Inscore, 41, electro-pop musician, songwriter and producer, by suicide on Dec. 19
Troye Sivan – Youth (2015, as co-writer and co-producer)

Eric Moyo, 41, Zimbabwean gospel singer, on Dec. 20

Torben Ulrich, 95, Danish tennis player, writer and free jazz musician, on Dec. 20
Torben Ulrich in CLINCH – Preface (2004)

Laura Lynch, 65, singer-bassist of the Dixie Chicks (1990-93), in traffic accident on Dec. 22
The Dixie Chicks Cowgirl Band – The Thrill Is In The Chase (1993, also as co-writer)

Ingrid Steeger, 76, German comedian and occasional singer, on Dec. 22
Ingrid Steeger – Der Schneemann (1975)

Lisandro Meza, 86, Colombian singer and accordionist, on Dec. 23

Willie Ruff, 92, jazz musician and educator, on Dec. 24
Miles Davis – Summertime (1958, on French horn)
Willie Ruff – Sheffield Blues (1968)
Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne (1968, on bass)
Joni Mitchell – River (with French Horns) (1970, rel. 2021, on French horn)

John Cutler, 73, engineer and producer, on Dec. 24
The Grateful Dead – Touch Of Grey (1987, as co-producer and engineer)

David Freeman, 84, bluegrass producer and historian, on Dec. 25

Tom Smothers, 86, half of comedy duo The Smothers Brothers, actor, on Dec. 26
The Smothers Brothers – Down In The Valley (1962)
The Smothers Brothers – Long Time Blues (1965)
Plastic Ono Band – Give Peace A Chance (1969, as backing singer)

Tony Oxley, 85, English free jazz drummer, label founder, on Dec. 26

Mbongeni Ngema, 67, South African playwright and composer, in car crash on Dec. 27
Mbongeni Ngema – Freedom Is Coming (1992, as writer, producer, arranger and on horns)

Michael Gibbons Jr, guitarist with metal band Leeway, on Dec. 27

Tommy Talton, 74, guitarist, singer, songwriter with country-rock band Cowboy, on Dec. 28
We The People – You Burn Me Up And Down (1966, as member and writer)
Cowboy – 5’ll Getcha Ten (1971, also as writer and on lead vocals)

Pedro Suárez-Vértiz, 54, singer-songwriter with Peruvian rock band Arena Hash, on Dec. 29

Les McCann, 88, jazz pianist and singer, artist, on Dec. 29
Les McCann Ltd. – Too Close for Comfort (1961)
Les McCann & Eddie Harris – Compared To What? (1969)
Les McCann feat. Roberta Flack – Baby Baby (1970)
Les McCann – Harlem Buck Dance Strut (1973)

Sandra Reaves-Phillips, 79, actress, writer and singer, on Dec. 29

Maurice Hines, 80, dancer, jazz singer and actor, on Dec. 29
Maurice – I’ve Never Been In Love Before (2000)

Sam Burtis, 75, jazz musician, on Dec. 29

Klee Benally, 48, guitarist of Native-American alt.rock group Blackfire, on Dec. 30
Blackfire – Mean Things Happenin’ In This World (2003)

Torsun Burkhardt, 49, singer and bassist of German electropunk band Egotronic, on Dec. 30

Shmulik Bilu, 71, member of Israeli vocal group Milk & Honey, on Dec. 31
Milk And Honey – Hallelujah (1979)

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In Memoriam – November 2023

December 5th, 2023 5 comments

It seemed to be a fairly quiet month, without any really big-name deaths. Of course, with the Christmas season in mind, there was the passing Fanita James, who appeared on the Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album as a member of Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, and of Mars Williams, whose sax work we may hear this festive season on The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping. Then, just as November was about to fade into December, another Christmas song became a tribute, in the form of Fairytale Of New York. I must admit that no music death has hit me as hard as Shane MacGowan’s has since that double whammy of John Prine and Bill Withers in that cursed month April 2020.

The Great Poet
A couple of years ago, Shane MacGowan said in an interview: “I know that I’m going to live to be 88, at least, and I’m still going to feel cheated… but you can’t argue with death.” Death caught up with MacGowan at the age of 65. It was one of the less surprising news of a celebrity passing, but it landed a heavy punch nonetheless, at least for those who have been fans of The Pogues and MacGowan’s lyrics, many of which are pure poetry.

Even in his twenties, MacGowan looked like he was permanently at death’s door. It turns out, he was just ringing its bell and running away. By all accounts, he was the nicest kind of guys, though his battles with alcohol led to his ejection from The Pogues.

What MacGowan and The Pogues did for Irish folk music, at a time when many young Irish people were feeling alienated from it, is said to be immense. Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins recognised that when he issued a long and thoughtful statement on the passing of MacGowan, who was born in London as the son of Irish immigrants (his mother was a renowned folk singer).

MacGowan was not just a writer of songs; he was a poet. And those wonderful lyrics, though they can stand as poems in their own right, are really inseparable from that voice which could barely hold a tune. You don’t really want somebody else singing a MacGowan song (which is why I haven’t even entertained the idea of doing a Songbook). It might be competent, it might even be good, but the lyrics would lose some of their meaning. I cannot think of many singing songwriters of whom you can say that.

The Blossom
The girl-group hit He’s a Rebel is attributed to The Crystals, but the song was actually recorded by The Blossoms, a trio comprising Darlene Love, Jean King, and Fanita James, who has died at 85. The Blossoms started recording in the 1950s, but never hit the big time. They were, however, sought-after backing singers.

In 1959, they backed Sam Cooke on his Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha (admittedly not Cook’s finest moment). After singing the 1962 chart-topper He’s A Rebel (The Crystals were mortified by being credited for it), The Blossoms did backing vocals on many of the great Phil Spector recordings. They sung vocals on tracks like You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ by The Righteous Brothers, Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep – Mountain High, Doris Day’s Move Over Darling, Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, Betty Everett’s The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss), and many more.

In 1968, they provided backing vocals on Elvis Presley’s comeback TV special, and on the classic 1964 T.A.M.I. show, they backed Marvin Gaye.

Love (then still Darlene Wright) and James (then still Fanita Barrett) were also part of the trio Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, scoring a hit with Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah.

Throughout the 1960s, The Blossoms periodically released singles — including their own versions of Righteous Brothers hits they had appeared on, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and Soul And Inspiration — but released only one album, a very good effort titled Shockwave in 1972. James remained a Blossom for almost all of the rest of her life.

The Joke Guitarist
The heading might mislead you to think that Geordie Walker was a novelty performer. That he most certainly was not. As lead guitarist of post-punk legends Killing Joke, he created his own distinctive sound. On the band’s biggest hit, 1985’s Love Like Blood, his three-note opening sounds like a riff from Bach.

Born as Kevin Walker — Geordie was a nickname referring to his northern English origins — he created his distinctive sound on a 1952 Gibson ES-295 hollow body electric guitar. That sound would find an echo in the works of a generation of rock guitarists. Walker later joined up with other post-punk stars for the “supergroups” Damage Manual and Murder Inc.

The Soul Sister
In 1971 Jean Knight had a huge hit with Mr Big Stuff, a song she had recorded a year earlier and which had found no takers until Stax decided to give it a release. It became a million-seller, and is still a go-to track for any movie or TV scene in which a man who thinks he’s a big shot needs some pegging down.

The New Orleans singer didn’t have hits for many years after but made a living from performing. In 1985 she returned to the charts with her version of the zydeco song My Toot-Toot. Denise LaSalle’s concurrent version was a hit in the UK, but Knight’s did better in the US.  According to the Stax Museum, Knight was the label’s top-selling female artist.

The Kool Drummer
Kool’ gang is slowly diminishing. With the death at 74 of drummer George ‘Funky’ Brown, there are now nine departed members. Of the great 1979-82 Kool & The Gang line-up, six of ten members have departed.

Brown was with Kool & The Gang from the band’s founding in 1963 till his death 60 years later. Until 1998 he played the drums and/or percussions, after that he stuck to percussions only. He also co-wrote many of their songs, including hits such as Ladies’ Night, Celebration, Big Fun, Jungle Boogie, Open Sesame, Jones vs. Jones, Take My Heart, and Summer Madness, and on his own the sublime Too Hot (which I had been playing literally minutes before I learnt of the man’s death).

The African Connection
Portugal has lost a wonderful singer in Sara Tavares, who has died of a brain tumour at the young age of 45. The daughter of immigrants from the African island nation of Cabo Verde, Tavares was 16 years old when she won a Portuguese TV singing contest in 1994, performing Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time. That same year, she won the national decider for Portugal’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. In the international contest she finished 8th.

Tavares fused the sounds of Portugal with those of Africa, especially the gentle Latin-tinged sounds of Cabo Verde, and jazz and pop.

The Woodstock Producer
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969 was supposed to be a money-making operation. But as the crowds uncontrollably descended upon the farm in Bethel, NY, a voice announced from the stage that it would now be a free concert. That voice belonged to John Morris, the Woodstock production coordinator who has died at 84.

From the stage at Woodstock, Morris announced: “What it means is that the people who are backing this thing, who put up the money for it are gonna take a bit of a bath, a big bath. That’s no hype, that’s truth, they’re gonna get hurt. But what it means is that these people who put this thing here, have it in their heads … that your welfare and their welfare is a hell of a lot more important than the music is, than the dollar.”

Before he got involved with Woodstock, Morris was a concert producer for acts like Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and the Grateful Dead, working with the legendary Bill Graham. After Woodstock, he turned London’s venerable Finsbury Park Astoria cinema into the legendary Rainbow Theatre, with The Who the first of many acts who played there for the next ten years. The Who’s song Long Live Rock refers to that first Rainbow gig: “Down at the Astoria the scene was changing, bingo and rock were pushing out x-rating. We were the first band to vomit at the bar and find the distance to the stage too far”.

The Last Pacemaker
With the death of pianist Les Maguire, all members of the classic line-up of Gerry And The Pacemakers are gone. Gerry Marsden died in 2021, Les Chadwick in 20916, and Freddie Marsden in 2006.

The Liverpool band was the first to have UK #1 hits with each of their first three singles, How Do You Do It? (a song first earmarked for The Beatles), I Like It, and You’ll Never Walk Alone. Maguire had just joined the Pacemakers when the band merged with the still unknown Beatles, still with Pete Best, for a one-off performance at Litherland Town Hall as The Beatmakers. Maguire played the sax that night.

The Soul Brother
Last month I posted the South African pop classic Quick Quick by MarcAlex to mark the death of producer Ricky Wolff. On November 9, the first half of the soul duo passed on. Marc Rantseli died at 58 after two weeks in hospital. The Soweto brothers Marc and Alex had a few hits in 1989 and the early 1990s, but then things went quiet around them, despite collaborations with the likes of Hugh Masekela.

The Original
If you lived in Europe in the 1970s, you will have heard the brutally upbeat hit Y Viva Espana in many different versions, some more annoying than others, but all lowest common-denominator schlager fare. Somehow fittingly, the ode to Spain’s longevity emerged not from Franco’s torture cells but from that bastion of finest pop refinement, Belgium. Written by a pair called Leo Caerts and Leo Rozenstraten (the latter made up the word “eviva”, possibly having confused Italian with Spanish, as you do), it was first recorded in Dutch by Samantha, whose death certificate states her civil name, Christiane Bervoets.

Samantha had a long career in Belgium, releasing records between 1967 and 2008, almost all in Dutch, with rare forays into French and German.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.

Elvis with The Blossoms at his 1968 TV Special. Fanita James is second from right.

Bill Rice, 84, country songwriter and singer, on Oct. 28
Mickey Gilley – Here Comes The Hurt Again (1978, as co-writer)

Pelle Hökengren, 61, member of Swedish pop group Trance Dance, on Oct. 29
Trance Dance – Don’t Say Go (1987)

Aaron Spears, 47, American drummer on Oct. 30
Chaka Khan – One For All Time (2007, on drums)

Vic Vergeat, 72, Italian rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, on Nov. 1
Vic Vergat – Down To The Bone (1981)

Pierre Dutour, 91, French trumpeter, composer and conductor, on Nov. 1
Pierre Dutour – Modern Life (1974)

Michel Pilz, 78, German jazz clarinettist, on Nov. 2

Pete Garner, 61, bassist of The Stone Roses (1983–87), on Nov. 3
The Stone Roses – So Young (1985)

Manuel Castillo Girón, 83, Honduran singer-songwriter, on Nov. 4

Lolita Rodrigues, 94, Brazilian singer and actress, on Nov. 5
Lolita Rodrigues – Posso Esquecer (1977)

Anne Hart, 90, British actress and singer, on Nov. 5

Sean Martin, 26, singer-guitarist of English indie band The Night Café, announced Nov. 6
The Night Café – The Way Of Mary (2017)

Darlyn Morais, 28, Brazilian singer, on Nov. 6

Dino Piana, 93, Italian jazz musician, on Nov. 6

Heath, 55, bassist of Japanese rock band X Japan, announced Nov. 7
X Japan – Tears (1993)

C-Knight, 52, rapper with G-funk group The Dove Shack, on Nov. 7
The Dove Shack – This Is The Shack (1995)

Hannelore Auer (Kramm), 81, Austrian Schlager singer and actress, on Nov. 8

Thomas Fink, 88, German jazz musician, on Nov. 8

Marc Rantseli, 58, South African singer with duo MarcAlex, on Nov. 9
MarcAlex – My Love, My Life, My Everythin (1990)
MarcAlex feat. Hugh Masekela – I Want My Baby (1995)

Junko Ohashi, 73, Japanese singer, on Nov. 9
Junko Ohashi – Silhouette Romance (1981)

R.L. Boyce, 68, blues musician, on Nov. 9
R.L. Boyce – Coal Black Mattie (2023)

Johnny Ruffo, 35, Australian singer and actor, on Nov. 10

John Morris, 84, Woodstock co-organiser, on Nov. 10
Matthews’ Southern Comfort – Woodstock (1971)
The Who – Long Live Rock (1978)

Conny Van Dyke, 78, singer and actress, on Nov. 11
Connie Van Dyke – Oh Freddy (1963)

Angelita Vargas, 77, Spanish flamenco singer and dancer, on Nov. 11

Luis Carlos Gil, 72, singer with Spanish vocal group Trigo Limpio, on Nov. 11

Kan, 61, Japanese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 12
Kan – Ai Wa Katsu (1990)

Buzy, 66, French singer, on Nov. 14
Buzy – Baby Boum (1987)

Oladips, 28, Nigerian rapper, on Nov. 15

Karl Tremblay, 47, lead singer of Canadian folk group Les Cowboys Fringants, on Nov. 15
Les Cowboys Fringants – Les étoiles filantes (2004)

George ‘Funky’ Brown, 74, songwriter, drummer of Kool & The Gang, on Nov. 16
Kool & The Gang – Wild Is Love (1972, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Sugar (1976, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Ladies’ Night (1980, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Take My Heart (You Can Have It) (1981, also as co-writer)

Peter Solley, 75, English musician and producer, on Nov. 16
Fox – Imagine Me, Imagine You (1976, as member)
The Romantics – What I Like About You (1979, as producer)

Charlie Dominici, 72, heavy metal singer, on Nov. 17
Dream Theater – Status Seeker (1989, as lead vocalist and co-writer)

Christiane ‘Samantha’ Bervoets, 75, Belgian singer, on Nov. 17
Samantha – Helicopter U.S. Navy 66 (1970)
Samantha – Eviva España (1971)

Sara Tavares, 45, Portuguese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 19
Sara Tavares – Eu Sei… (1999)
Sara Tavares – One Love (2005)
Sara Tavares – Coisas Bunitas (2017)

Larry McKenna, 86, jazz saxophonist, on Nov. 19

Mars Williams, 68, rock and jazz saxophonist (Waitresses, Psychedelic Furs), on Nov. 20
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping (1981, as member)
The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink (1986, as member)

Chad Allan, 80, Canadian singer with Guess Who, Brave Belt, on Nov. 21
Chad Allan & The Expressions (Guess Who) – Hey Ho, What You Do To Me (1965)

Horacio Malvicino, 94, Argentine jazz and tango guitarist, composer, on Nov. 21
Horacio Malvicino – Los Mejores Momentos (1972)

Jim Salestrom, 67, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22

Jean Knight, 80, American singer, on Nov. 22
Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1970)
Jean Knight – Why I Keep Living These Memories (1970)
Jean Knight – My Toot Toot Long (1984)

Greg ‘Fingers’ Taylor, 71, harmonica player (Jimmy Buffet), on Nov. 23

Fanita James, 85, singer with soul group The Blossoms, on Nov. 23
The Blossoms – He Promised Me (1957, as member)
Doris Days – Move Over Darling (1963, on backing vocals)
The Blossoms – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (1969)
The Blossoms – Touchdown (1972)

Morten Omlid, 62, Norwegian blues guitarist, on Nov. 24

Julio Anderson, 74, Chilean folk-rock bass guitarist, on Nov. 25
Los Jaivas – Pregon Para Iluminarse (1975, as member)

Yngvar Numme, 79, singer with Norwegian pop group Dizzie Tunes, on Nov. 25

Les Maguire, 81, pianist of Gerry & The Pacemakers, on Nov. 25
Gerry & The Pacemakers – I Like It (1963)
Gerry & The Pacemakers – Ferry Cross The Mersey (1964)

Terry Venables, 80, English football player and coach, occasional singer, on Nov. 25
Terry Venables – What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? (1974)

Geordie Walker, 64, guitarist of Killing Joke, songwriter, on Nov. 26
Killing Joke – Requiem (1980, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Love Like Blood (1985, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Jana (1994, also as co-writer)

Jimmy Owens, 93, Christian music songwriter, on Nov. 26

Brian Godding, 78, Welsh rock and jazz guitarist, on Nov. 26
Blossom Toes – Peace Loving Man (1969, as member and writer)
Brian Godding – Happy Endings (1988)

Joseph Meo, jazz saxophonist, announced Nov. 27

Lanny Gordin, 72, Brazilian guitarist and composer, on Nov. 28
Lanny Gordin – Tomati (2001)

John Colianni, 61, jazz pianist, on Nov. 28
Mel Tormé – The Christmas Song (1992, on piano)

Scott Kempner, 69, rhythm guitarist of rock band The Dictators, on Nov. 29
The Dictators – What It Is (1978, also as co-writer)

Shane MacGowan, 65, singer and songwriter of The Pogues, on Nov. 30
The Pogues – Sally MacLennane (Live on the John Peel Show, 1984, also as writer)
The Pogues – The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn (1985, also as writer)
The Pogues – Thousands Are Sailing (1988)
The Pogues & The Dubliners – Whiskey In The Jar (1990)
Shane MacGowan & The Popes – The Song With No Name (1993, also as writer)

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In Memoriam – October 2023

October 30th, 2023 2 comments

Due to certain commitments, I’m posting the October In Memoriam before the month is out. Those passings that haven’t made it this month will be listed in the November instalment.

Among the notable deaths outside music was that of the world’s oldest dog. Bobi, a Portuguese Rafeiro do Alentejo dog, reached the biblical old age of 31 and thus had the longest canine life on record. His secret to long life was a cigar with a glass of port a day, and daily sex. The world’s oldest dog is now Spike, a 24-year-old chihuahua from Ohio, who is a celibate tee-total non-smoker.

Actually, Bobi’s owners say that their dog’s longevity was due to a “calm, peaceful environment” and consumption of fresh food rather than conventional dog food. He wasn’t neutered, so the daily sex part might be true…

The Isley Brother
In the Isley Brothers, Ronald usually took the lead, but sometimes Rudy Isley got his turn, as he did on the 1979 hit It’s A Disco Night. Rudy’s backing vocals and harmonies were essential to the Isley sound, as were his songwriting contributions to hits like Shout, It’s Your Thing, That Lady, Harvest For The World, and Fight The Power (on which he shared the lead with Ronald and O’Kelly).

Rudy released only one single outside the Isley Brothers, I’ve Got To Get Myself Together, a duet with backing singer Judy White. It was issued in 1970 and credited to Rudy & Judy.

Rudy, who in the 1970s was easily recognisable by sporting a pimp look, left the music industry in 1989 to become a Christian minister. He married Elaine Jasper (sister of later Isleys member Chris Jasper) in 1958; they remained together till Rudy’s death on October 11.

The Composer
In jazz circles, Carla Bley commanded great respect as an innivative composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader. In 1957, at the age of 21, she married jazz pianist Paul Bley — they met when she was working as a cigarette girl at the famous Birdland jazz club. He encouraged her to pursue a career in jazz. She kept his name even after they divorced in 1967.

Carla saw herself foremost as a composer, and also wrote for others (including then-husband Paul). Above that, she also worked behind the scenes to organise the Jazz Composers Guild. Her most significant work was the triple-LP jazz opera Escalator Over The Hill, released in 1971. She recorded until 2020.

Shaft!
Actor Richard Roundtree was known as the übercool sleuth Shaft in the blaxploitation movies (the Any Major Blaxploitation collection is up again, by the way). While Roundtree has secured his place in movie history, his forays into the world of crooning is mostly forgotten.

Roundtree had a quite good voice with which he seemed to aim for the adult-oriented soul scene occupied by the likes of Grady Tate. Inevitably, there was a Blaxploitation funk track called The Man From Shaft, which isn’t bad. The 1972 album of the same title, Roundtree’s only LP, was produced by Eugene McDaniels, with backing singers including Les McCann, Barbara Massey, Jean DuShon and Debra Laws (whose brother Hubert chips in with flute work).

After that, Roundtree released two more singles, and that was it with the recording career.

The Beatmaster
The 7” single has run out for The 45 King, the beatmaster and hip hop producer known to his mom as Mark James. Born in the Bronx in 1961, The 45 King made his name in the 1980s with his tracks of beats sampled from mainly obscure 45 records.

The most famous of these is The 900 Number from 1987, which looped a piece of saxophone solo from Marva Whitney’s 1968 track Unwind Yourself. The English DJ Chad Jackson sampled The 900 Number on his 1990 UK #3 hit Hear The Drummer (Get Wicked).

The 45 King also produced many hip hop artists, including Rakim, MC Lyte, Gang Starr, Apache, Lakim Shabazz, and King Sun. His biggest hits in that field were Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life and Eminem’s Stan. He also produced acts like Queen Latifah, including her debut album All Hail The Queen. Jay-Z has called The 45 King one of the most important hip hop producers.

The Keyboardist
Session musician Paul Harris, who has died at 79, has appeared on several songs on Any Major Mixes, such as on Rusty Wier’s Texas Morning on Any Major Morning Vol. 1, Richie Havens’ Morning Morning on Any Major Morning Vol. 2, and Bob Seger’s Against The Wind, on which he plays the piano to such defining effect.

A one-time member of Stephen Stills & Manassas, The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and King Harvest, the multi-instrumentalist was best-known for his prolific session work. These included the piano on ABBA’s Voulez-Vous (which the band recorded in Miami),B.B. King’s definitive version of The Thrill Is Gone, and Mama Cass’ Dream A Little Dream, .

Other acts he backed were The Doors, Nick Drake, B.B. King, Judy Collins, Al Kooper, John Sebastian, Joe Walsh, Seals & Crofts, Poco, Maria Muldaur, Dan Fogelberg, John Cougar (Mellencamp), Andy Gibb, and Aerosmith, among many others. He was also an arranger (notably on Tim Hardin’s Simple Song Of Freedom), and producer.

The Reggae Founder
Keyboardist Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper had the distinction of having been a founder member of two legendary reggae groups, Inner Circle and Third World. He left the former in 1973 to co-found Third World. With that group, he created a string of classics, such as 1865 (96 Degrees In The Shade), Now That We Found Love (a cover of the O’Jays song), Cool Meditation, Talk To Me, Dancin’ On The Floor, and Try Jah Love.

Cooper also played with acts like Burning Spear, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Barrington Levy and Lenny Kravitz. Cooper also headed the department of Caribbean, Latin American and Jazz in the Popular Music Studies faculty at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Real Voice
Around 1970, there were several studio band projects run by British producers Roger Cook and Rob Greenway. One of them was Edison Lighthouse, another White Plains. The latter had a hit in 1970 with the catchy My Baby Loves Lovin’.

The question who sang the lead on that hit was long unresolved. For a long time, the popular narrative claimed it was session singer Tony Burrows, who also did lead vocals on Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) and other Cook/Greenway hits. Now it is widely acknowledged, and confirmed by Greenway, that the lead singer was the South African Ricky Wolff, who has died at 78, with Burrows doubling him on the chorus.

Wolff left White Plains in 1971 and went on to have a successful career as a musician in South African bands, especially soft rock band City Limits, and as a producer. In the latter capacity, he produced a local pop classic in Marcalex’s 1989 hit Quick Quick.

The Centenarian
Country singer Mervin Shiner did not have a glittering career; his two biggest hits — Peter Cottontail and Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me — were 73 years ago. But it is worth noting when a life of over a hundred years ends. Shiner racked up 102 rotations around the sun. In his young days, the Bethlehem Pennsylvania-born singer had some local success as a radio performer, appearing with his mother as a country and gospel duo.

Shiner, a honky-tonk singer and guitarist, started his recording career in 1949, and by 1955 his first (and quite prolific) run of singles, many of them novelty songs for kids, ended. Shiner, who also was a songwriter, returned to release three albums in 1969 and 1970, one of them a children’s Christmas album, the others including covers of songs like In The Ghetto and Teach Your Children, among the more conventional country fare.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.

Ricky Wolff, 78, South African singer of White Plains and producer, on Oct. 1
White Plains – My Baby Loves Lovin’ (1970, on lead or co-lead)
City Limits – Shouldn’t Fall In Love (1980, as member)
Marcalex – Quick Quick (1988, as producer)

Ron Haffkine, 84, producer (all Dr Hook hits), songwriter and manager, on Oct. 1
Cherry People – And Suddenly (1968, as producer)
Dr Hook & The Medicine Show – When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman (1979, as producer)

Lutz Wollersen, 68, singer of German band Rudolf Rock & The Schockers, on Oct. 1
Lutz Wollersen – Wenn Engel Trauer tragen (1984)

Julian Bahula, 85, South African drummer, singer, composer, on Oct. 1
Jabula – Jabula Happiness (1975, as writer, bandleader and on drums)

Joy Webb, 91, singer of British Salvation Army pop group Joystrings, on Oct. 1

Dominique ‘Terracota’ Perrier, c.72, French electronic musician and composer, on Oct. 4
Space Art – Speedway (1977, as member and co-writer)

Bruno Filippini, 78, Italian singer, on Oct. 5
Bruno Filippini – L’amore ha i tuoi occhi (1965)

Ritchie Routledge, 73, singer and guitarist of UK pop group Cryin’ Shames, on Oct. 8
The Cryin’ Shames – Please Stay (1966)

Shinji Tanimura, 74, Japanese singer-songwriter, on Oct. 8

Buck Trent, 85, country musician and TV personality (Hee Haw), on Oct. 9
Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner – The Last Thing On My Mind (1967, on banjo)
Buck Trent – Buck’s Hee Haw Talkin’ Blues (1976)

Kevin Parrott, member of English duo Brian & Michael, songwriter, on Oct. 9
Brian & Michael – Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs (1977, as producer)

Hugh Friel, 71, drummer of Irish new wave group The Atrix, on Oct. 9
The Atrix – Procession (1981)

Jeff L’Heureux, 63, heavy metal musician, motorbike accident on Oct. 10

Rudolph Isley, 84, singer with The Isley Brothers and songwriter, on Oct. 11
The Isley Brothers – Shout (1959, also as co-writer)
Rudy & Judy – I’ve Got to Get Myself Together (1970, also as co-writer)
The Isley Brothers – You Still Feel The Need (1976, on lead vocals and as co-writer)

Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, 71, keyboardist of Third World, on Oct. 12
Third World – Talk To Me (1979)
Third World – Try Jah Love (1982)
Lenny Kravitz – Eleutheria (1993, on organ)

Aérea Negrot, 43, Venezuelan, Germany-based singer and electronic musician, on Oct. 12
Aérea Negrot – It’s Lover, Love (2011)

Frank Hocker, 66, German rock guitarist and singer, on Oct. 12

Ali Claudi, 80, German jazz, blues and Krautrock musician, on Oct. 12
Ali Claudi & Friends – Time (1975, also as writer)

Garry Mapanzure, 25, Zimbabwean singer, in car crash on Oct. 13

Gary Nuñez, 71, member of Puerto Rican bomba group Plena Libre, on Oct. 14
Plena Libre – Que Bonita Bandera (2012)

Jimmy LaRocca, 83, jazz trumpeter and composer, on Oct. 15

Carla Bley, 87, jazz composer and musician, on Oct. 17
Carla Bley & Paul Haines – Escalator Over The Hill (1971)
Carla Bley & Charlie Haden – The Ballad Of The Fallen
Carla Bley – Lawns (1987)

Dwight Twilley, 72, power-pop singer-songwriter, on Oct. 18
Dwight Twilley Band – I’m On Fire (1975)

Atsushi Sakurai, 57, singer of Japanese rock band Buck-Tick, on Oct. 19
Buck-Tick – Aku no Hana (1990)

Lasse Berghagen, 78, Swedish singer and songwriter, on Oct. 19

The 45 King, 62, hip hop DJ, producer and remixer, on Oct. 19
The 45 King – The King is Here! (1987)
Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love – Ladies First (1988, as producer)
Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life (1998, as producer)

Oscar Valdés, 85, Cuban singer and percussionist, on Oct.19
Irakere – Bacalao Con Pan (1974, as member and singer)

Arni Cheatham, 79, jazz saxophonist and flautist, educator, on Oct. 22

Gregg Sutton, 74, musician and songwriter, on Oct. 22
Sam Brown – Stop (1988, as co-writer)
Maria McKee – Breathe (1990, as co-writer)

Mervin Shiner, 102, country singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Oct. 23
Mervin Shiner – Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me (1949)
Mervin Shiner – Peter Cottontail (1950)
Merv Shiner – California Girl And The Tennessee Square (1969)

Angelo Bruschini, 62, English guitarist, on October 23
The Blue Aeroplanes – Angel Words (1991, as member)
Massive Attack – A Prayer For England (2003, as member)

Ricardo Iorio, 61, Argentinian metal singer and bassist, on Oct. 24

Richard Roundtree, 81, actor and soul singer, on Oct. 24
Richard Roundtree – Peace In The Morning (1972)
Richard Roundtree – Goodnight My Love (1973)

Steve Riley, 67, ex-drummer of W.A.S.P. and L.A. Guns, on Oct. 24
L.A. Guns – Ballad Of Jayne (1989, as member)

Paul Harris, 79, rock keyboardist, on Oct. 24
Stephen Stills & Manassas – So Many Times (1973, as member)
ABBA – Voulez-Vous (1979, on piano)
Bob Seger – Against The Wind (1980, on piano)

Goa Gil, 72, electronic musician, DJ, and remixer, on Oct. 26

Rigo Star, 68, Congolese soukous guitarist and composer, on Oct. 26
Rigo Star – Rosalina (1985)

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In Memoriam – September 2023

October 3rd, 2023 6 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also served as David Letterman’s first bandleader.

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

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

Deprijk is the fourth bestselling Belgian ever — after Salvatore Adamo (who tops the list by a mile), Frédéric François, and Jacques Brel — with 20 million records sold, including the Plastic Bertrand LP I foolishly bought in 1978.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – August 2023

August 29th, 2023 9 comments

August’s In Memoriam actually drops in August, due to commitments that prevent me from posting this month’s instalment at the usual time. September’s In Memoriam will, obviously, include all the music deaths that are still coming or are yet to be reported.

This month we lost people who were subjects to three fine documentaries: Robbie Robertson (as a member of The Band) in The Last Waltz, Sixto Rodriguez in Searching For Sugar Man, and Clarence Avant in The Black Godfather (the latter two also crossed paths at one point).

Oh, and Tom Jones died.

The Band Man
I would argue that The Band were among the most influential musical groups of their time, but I wager that only their fans and deep-cut rock fans would be able to list all their members. In fact, I reckon that most people would know only Robbie Robertson, and maybe Levon Helms. With Robertson’s death, only Garth Hudson is still with us. And at the intervals at which we are losing Band members, Hudson might remain so for another dozen years: Richard Manuel died in 1986, Rick Danko in 1999, Levon Helm in 2012, and now Robbie Robertson in 2023.

All of them brought something special to The Band but guitarist Robertson was its primary songwriter, contributing classics like The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Shape I’m In, Up On Cripple Creek, and (my favourite Band track) It Makes No Difference. Though, it must be noted, Helm and Danko strongly disputed Robertson’s claims to sole authorship. Later reunions excluded Robertson…

After The Band’s initial split, Robertson produced albums for acts like Neil Diamond and Eric Clapton. And Robertson wrote film scores for films directed by Martin Scorsese, who had also directed the docu for The Band’s break-up concert, The Last Waltz. These films include Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, The Color of Money, Casino, The Wolf Of Wall Street, The Irishman, and the recently released Killers Of The Flower Moon.

Robertson released his eponymous debut solo album only in 1987. It was a critical and commercial success, even if I didn’t like it too much — there is a reason why Robertson very rarely took lead vocals in The Band.

The Sugar Man
Having released a single (as Rod Riguez, the label’s bright idea) and done session work on Motown, Sixto Rodriguez had reason to hope that his superb 1970 debut album Cold Facts would become a hit. But the socio-political folk-funk flopped in the US, as did the 1971 follow-up Coming From Reality, both released on Clarence Avant’s Sussex label. But somehow his two records became cult-items in South Africa, especially in student circles spanning several generations.

The records were also heard in Australia and New Zealand, where Rodriguez toured in 1979 and 1981, but it was in South Africa that the Detroit-born singer was a cult figure, no doubt fed by the mystique surrounding him, with the prevailing rumour declaring Rodriguez dead by suicide.

The quest by a South African fan in the 1990s to locate Rodriguez and get him to tour the country would be told in the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Incredibly, Rodriguez had no ideas that he was popular in South Africa; her found out when his daughter spotted a website dedicated to him. His first concert in Johannesburg in 1998 was an area affair, broadcast on TV. Imagine, one moment you live in your derelict Detroit home, assuming your art has been forgotten; next moment you play an arena in Africa where everybody knows the words to the songs you wrote almost three decades earlier, including people who weren’t even born when you recorded them.

Searching For Sugar Man gave Rodriguez as second shot at a career in the last decade of his 81-year-long life.

The Philly Soulman
As lead guitarist of the session band MFSB, Bobby Eli played on most of the great Philadelphia soul classics. Apart from Philly acts, over the years he also backed the likes of David Bowie, Hall & Oates, Wilson Pickett, Grady Tate, Elton John, George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield, Grace Jones, Jay-Z, and Shaggy.

But apart from backing artists —and having a global hit as a member of MFSB with TSOP, which for a while was also the Soul Train theme — the man born as Eli Tatarsky was also a songwriter of several hits and producer of stars.

Among the Philly soul hits he co-wrote are Love Won’t Let Me Wait for Major Harris, Blue Magic’s Sideshow and Three Ring Circus, and Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely by the Main Ingredient (originally written for Ronnie Dyson). He later also co-wrote the 1982 hit Zoom for Fat Larry’s Band and Love Town for Booker Newberry III.

He produced the Major Harris and Blue Magic hits, and others for those acts, as well as Jackie Moore (including her disco classic This Time Baby), Sister Sledge, Brenda & The Tabulations, Engelbert Humperdinck (in his porn-actor moustache phase), early Atlantic Starr, Rose Royce, Booker Newberry III, Deniece Williams and others.

The Axeman
Perhaps best-known for his work in Whitesnake, guitarist Bernie Marsden was admired for his ability to blend melodic solos, drawn from his love of blues, with powerful rhythm playing. Marsden co-founded Whitesnake in 1978 — when he might have joined Paul McCartney’s Wings instead — and also co-wrote many of their hits, including Here I Go Again (he played on the 1982 version, but not on the 1987 hit re-recording) and Fool For Your Loving.

Before he joined Whitesnake, Marsden played with UFO, Cozy Powell’s Hammer, and Wild Turkey, and co-founded the Deep Purple spin-off band Paice Ashton Lord with Deep Purple members Ian Paice and Jon Lord. Marsden also released many solo albums.

Gibson Guitars made a limited edition number of Marsden’s 1959 Les Paul guitar, known as “The Beast”.

The Black Godfather
His nickname “Black Godfather” might suggest some kind of nefarious character, but Clarence Avant, the music executive who has died at 92, received that moniker for presiding over an incredible network of contacts in the fields of entertainment, business and politics which enabled him to strike an abundant number of deals.

He started off by managing acts like Little Willie John, Sarah Vaughan, Kim Weston, Freddie Hubbard and others. In 1969 he founded the Sussex label, on which he mentored especially Bill Withers to stardom. Another Sussex artist was Sixto Rodriguez, whose two albums were release on the label. The documentary Searching for Sugar Man strongly that Rodriguez had been cheated out of the royalties due to him. Sussex folded in 1975.

Avant went on to co-found Tabu Records in 1975, which really took off in the 1980s when Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced acts like The S.O.S. Band, Alexander O’Neal, and Cherrelle. Tabu became part of the Sony empire in 1989, and in 1991 became a subsidiary of A&M Records (more on whom in a moment). When Avant was appointed to run Motown, Tabu was incorporated under that label (complicated stuff: both A&M and Motown were owned by PolyGram by that time).

In 1973, Avant was the executive producer of Save the Children, the film of the Operation PUSH concert in Chicago, which included the greatest line-up of black performers ever assembled.

Avant advocated for diversity and equal representation in the entertainment industry, and used his influence to help create opportunities for African American artists and professionals. He was the subject of the 2019 Netflix documentary The Black Godfather, produced by his daughter.

Avant died 20 months after his wife of 54 years, Jacqueline, was shot dead by an intruder in their Beverly Hills home on December 1, 2021.

The M in A&M
Three days after Avant, the M in A&M Records died. Jerry Moss founded the label in 1962 with Herb Alpert (the A in the name), having previously gone by the name of Carnival Records. A&M first built its fortunes on the records of Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendes, but soon included in its roster best-sellers like Burt Bacharach, The Sandpipers, Carpenters, Captain and Tennille, Flying Burrito Brothers, Quincy Jones, Rita Coolidge, Gino Vannelli, Joan Baez, Peter Frampton, Styx, Supertramp, Chuck Mangione, Billy Preston, Brothers Johnson, The Police, Sting, OMD, Nazareth, Joan Armatrading, Janet Jackson, Atlantic Starr, The Go-Go’s Bryan Adams, Suzanne Vega, The Human League, Joe Jackson, and loads others.

In 1989 Alpert and Moss sold A&M to PolyGram for $500 million, but continued to manage the label until 1993, when they quit due to interference from the parent company. In 1998, the two sued PolyGram, settling for another $200 million payment. Moss and Alpert were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 in the non-performer category.

Less than two weeks after Moss, one of A&M’s pivotal execs, promotions man Harold Childs, died at 80.

The Hit Writer
When the British invasion hit in the 1960s, New Yorker Rob Feldman and some of his young songwriting and producing colleagues sought to cash in on it, and founded The Strangeloves — initially pretending to be Australian, because their British accents weren’t very good. The studio band released a few hit records, particularly I Want Candy (later a UK hit for Bow Wow Wow), Cara-Lin, and Night Time.

With his partners Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, Feldman also produced the McCoys’ Hang On Sloopy, and wrote for them the song Sorrow, a b-side that later became a hit for David Bowie. Before that, they had written and produced My Boyfriend’s Back for The Angels. With Goldstein, Feldman later recorded as Rome & Paris.

Feldman went to school with Neil Sedaka, and was a member of the All-City Choir with Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. He was the father of actor Corey Feldman.

The Jazz Diva
It is a huge shame that South African jazz singer Sylvia Mdunyelwa, only ever released two albums, one of them a live set. The Cape Town singer started her music career in the 1970s, performing with a variety of local jazz acts.

The diminutive singer with a big voice was versatile: she also acted on South African television, had a weekly jazz show on a popular Cape Town radio station, owned a TV- and film-production company, and set up a jazz school up in the township where she was born, serving the community there in various forms of activism.

The Italian
One of Italy’s most popular pop stars, rough-voiced Toto Cutugno was a regular at the country’s popular Sanremo Music Festival, which he won in 1980 with “Solo noi”. In 1990 won the Eurovison Song Contest with “Insieme: 1992”, a song that celebrated the European Union.

Seven years earlier, Cutugno had a big international hit with “L’Italiano”, which basically listed things that define Italianess (eating pasta al dente, that sort of thing). Expats apparently loved it. Earlier yet, Cutugno had some success as singer and songwriter of the band Albatros, which he had co-founded. They had two hits in the mid-1970s with Africa and Volo AZ 504.

He also wrote prolifically for others, including the huge French disco hit “Monday Tuesday… Laissez moi danser” for Dalida and “Soli” for Adriano Celentano, as well as songs for Joe Dassin, Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Domenico Modugno, Claude François, Gigliola Cinquetti, Hervé Vilard, and others.

The Pistols’ Artist
If you have ever beheld any Sex Pistols record, you will have seen the art of Jamie Reid, 76, the British visual artist who designed the covers of the Never Mind The Bollocks LP and of singles like God Save The Queen and, in comic book style, Holiday In The Sun.  The magenta-on-yellow ransom-letter style Sex Pistols logo was also his work.

In 2011, Q magazine named the cover of God Save The Queen the greatest singles cover of all time. The original design was shocking, with Cecil Beaton’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II adorned with a safety pin through her nose and swastikas in her eye. In the end, the single release featured the queen with a banner displaying the song’s title covering her eyes, a banner with the band’s name over her lips, and HRH’s schnozzle unmolested by fastening devices.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.

Dom Minasi, 80, jazz guitarist, composer and producer, on Aug. 1
Dom Minasi – I’ll Only Miss Her (When I Think Of Her) (1974)

Wendell B, 65, R&B singer, on Aug. 3
Wendell B. – When It Don’t Make Sense (2012)

Carl Davis, 86, US-British classical and film composer, conductor, on Aug. 3
Carl Davis – Theme of The French Lieutenant’s Woman (2009, as composer and conductor)

Tom Pintens, 48, Belgian indie singer and musician, on Aug. 4

John Gosling, 75, keyboardist of The Kinks (1970-78), on Aug. 4
The Kinks – You Don’t Know My Name (1971)

Slim Lehart, 88, American country singer, on Aug. 5

David LaFlamme, 82, singer and violinist of psych-rock band It’s A Beautiful Day, on Aug. 6
It’s A Beautiful Day – White Bird (1969, on vocals and as co-writer and producer)

Louis Tillett, 64, Australian rock singer and musician, on Aug. 6
Louis Tillett & Charlie Owen – Midnight Rain (1995)

Toussaint McCall, 89, soul singer, on Aug. 7
Toussaint McCall – Nothing Takes The Place Of You (1967)

Erkin Koray, 82, Turkish singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Aug. 7

DJ Casper, 58, DJ and songwriter, on Aug. 7
DJ Casper – Cha Cha Slide (2000)

Jamie Reid, 76, British visual artist, designer of Sex Pistols covers, on Aug. 8
The Sex Pistols – Holiday In The Sun (1977, as cover designer)

Sixto Rodriguez, 81, folk-rock singer-songwriter, on Aug. 8
Rod Riguez – I’ll Slip Away (1967)
Rodriguez – I Wonder (1970)
Rodriguez – I Think Of You (1971)
Rodriguez – Sugar Man (Live) (2009)

Robbie Robertson, 80, Canadian songwriter, musician (The Band), film composer, on Aug. 9
Bob Dylan & The Band – Nothing Was Delivered (rec. 1967)
The Band – It Makes No Difference (1975, also as writer)
The Band – Up On Cripple Creek (Live) (1978, also as writer)
Robbie Robertson – Broken Arrow (1987, also as writer)

Peppino Gagliardi, 83, Italian singer, on Aug. 9
Peppino Gagliardi – Che vuole questa musica stasera (1967)

Brad Thomson, grindcore guitarist, announced Aug. 10

Carlos Camacho, 73, singer with Puerto Rican vocal band Los Hispanos, on Aug. 11
Los Hispanos Quartet – Pena (1967)

Tom Jones, 95, musical lyricist, on Aug. 11
New World – Try To Remember (1968, as lyricist)

Ron Peno, 68, singer-songwriter with Australian rock band Died Pretty, on Aug. 11
Died Pretty – Everybody Moves (1989)

Clarence Avant, 92, music executive and label founder, on Aug. 13
Willie Bobo & The Bo-Gents – Do What You Want To Do (1971, as co-producer, label owner)
Cherelle & Alexander O’Neal – Saturday Love (1985, as label owner)

Patricia Bredin, 88, English actress and singer, on Aug. 13

Magoo, 50, rapper and songwriter, announced Aug. 13
Timbaland & Magoo feat Missy Eliott & Aaliyah – Up Jumps Da Boogie (1997)

Jerry Moss, 88, co-founder of A&M Records, producer, on Aug. 14
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – Whipped Cream (1965, as co-producer)
Waylon Jernnings – The Real House Of The Rising Sun (1965, as producer)
Michelle Phillips – No Love Today (1976, as producer)

Bobby Eli, 77, Philly soul guitarist, songwriter, and producer, on Aug. 16
MFSB – TSOP (1974, as member on lead guitar)
Blue Magic – Sideshow (1974, as writer and producer)
Fat Larry’s Band – Zoom (19832, as co-writer)
Luther Vandross – Love Won’t Let Me Wait (1988, as writer)

Walter Aipolani, 68, Hawaiian music singer, songwriter and guitarist, on Aug. 16

Gary Young, 70, drummer of indie band Pavement (1989-93), on Aug. 16
Pavement – Summer Babe (1991)

Chico Novarro, 88, Argentine singer-songwriter, on Aug. 17

Ray Hildebrand, 82, half of duo Paul & Paula, songwriter, on Aug. 17
Paul & Paula – Hey, Paula (1962, also as writer)

Václav Patejdl, 68, member of Czechoslovakian rock band Elán, on Aug. 19

Luc Smets, 76, singer, songwriter and musician with Belgian pop band The Pebbles, on Aug. 20
The Pebbles – Seven Horses In The Sky (1969, as lead singer and co-writer)

Denis LePage, 74, half of Canadian disco duo Lime, songwriter, on Aug. 21
Lime – Your Love (1981, also as co-writer)

Toto Cutugno, 80, Italian singer-songwriter, Eurovision winner (1990), on Aug. 22
Albatros – Volo AZ 504 (1976, as member, vocalist and co-writer)
Toto Cutugno – Solo noi (1980)
Toto Cutugno – L’italiano (1983, also as co-writer)

Bob Feldman, 83, songwriter and producer, on Aug. 23
The Angels – My Boyfriend’s Back (1963, as co-writer and co-producer)
The Strangeloves – I Want Candy (1965, as member and co-writer)
The McCoys – Sorrow (1965, as co-writer and co-producer)
Dusty Drake – And Then (2002, as co-writer)

Bernie Marsden, 72, English rock guitarist and songwriter, on Aug. 24
Cozy Powell’s Hammer – Na Na Na (1974, on guitar)
Bernie Marsden – Still The Same (1979, also as writer)
Whitesnake – Here I Go Again (1987, as member and co-writer)

Sylvia Mdunyelwa, South African jazz singer, on Aug. 25
Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa – That’s All (1998)
Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa – Abazali (1998)

Carlos Gonzaga, 99, Brazilian singer, on Aug. 25
Carlos Gonzaga – Diana (1958)

MC Marcinho, 45, Brazilian funk singer, on Aug. 26

John Kezdy, 64, singer of punk band The Effigies, traffic accident on Aug. 26
The Effigies – Something That… (1984)

Bosse Broberg, 85, Swedish jazz trumpeter and composer, on Aug. 26

Harold Childs, 80, music executive (A&M, PolyGram), on Aug. 27

Brian McBride, 53, ambient musician, announced Aug. 27
Stars of the Lid – Dungtitled (In A Major) (2007, as member)
Bell Gardens – Through The Rain (2010, as member)

Eddie Skoller, 79, Danish singer and actor, on Aug. 27

Denyse Plummer, 69, Trinidadian calypso and gospel singer, on Aug. 27
Denyse Plummer – Woman Is Boss (1988)

James Casey, 40, saxophonist with rock group Trey Anastasio Band, on Aug. 28

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In Memoriam – July 2023

August 2nd, 2023 5 comments

The word “iconic” is overused and abused, deployed and misapplied to the point that it has lost any meaning by content creators who meander through the landscape of wordsmithery without the solid foundation of having been trained in writing. It is a term used and enjoyed with extreme caution. But it seems proper to describe three of our deaths this month by the term “iconic”, in as far as they were figureheads or trailblazers (another cliché?) who by their persona or work had some quality of the unique and even irreplaceable.

 

The Legend
You would have expected the obits to be kind to Tony Bennett, one of the last survivors of the great crooning generation of the 1950s. Well, they were indeed glowing accounts of the man in ways that suggest that Bennett really was a quality man. Of course, we knew of his decency, and his political engagement for civil rights when that kind of thing could cost you (as it had cost Sinatra in the late 1940s). But it seems everybody who ever met him had only kind things to say about Bennett — as they did in his lifetime.

Bennett deserved the adulation he received when he made his big comeback in the 1990s, after more than two decades in the wilderness. He was a survivor. And he showed his vigour even when Alzheimer’s had taken residence in him, still recording and, remarkably, still performing live. Tony Bennett, we salute you!

The Protest Singer
A lot more has been written about Sinead O’Connor than I might have anticipated, had I ever contemplated her death at the young age of 56. The Irish singer left a cultural imprint out of proportion with the successes of her career. That scarcity of commercial success was self-inflicted, by choice and by circumstance, for Sinead was above all a protest singer, not a commercial proposition. And a protest singer, to be true to the definition, doesn’t seek success, doesn’t compromise.

It is somehow appropriate that Sinead once had a protective wing cast over her by Kris Kristofferson (see him tell the story and Sinead and KK sing a duet). Kristofferson once sang: “And you still can hear me singing to the people who don’t listen to the things that I am saying; praying someone’s gonna hear. And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about are things they could be changing; hoping someone’s gonna care.”

I hope Sinead O’Connor, a troubled woman of aggressive courage and mild temperament, and of (unconventional) religious faith, indeed beat the devil.
La fille de Chelsea
My mother had the single of Je t’aime…Moi non plus, the groan-and-moan-fest by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, with Birkin staring in all her beauty from the cover. When I was five, I loved it and played the single ad nauseam on my little suitcase record player, to the point that much later in life, I found myself a vinyl rip MP3 to experience the proper sound of childhood nostalgia. The crackling belonged to the song as much as Birkin’s moans. Obviously I had no interest in what the nice lady was singing or groaning, less even why she seemed to be in pain. I just loved that groove.

Contrary to the popular narrative, Jane and Serge did not have sex while recording Je t’aime…, but were in separate booths, unlike the version Gainsbourg had done earlier with Brigitte Bardot. Apparently the recording of the Bardot version involved some personal contact — reportedly in the form of heavy petting.

Bardot begged Gainsbourg that her version not be released because her husband objected to it. Given that Günter Sachs’ approach to marital fidelity was not widely known to be uncompromisingly observant, I suppose his objection centred mainly on BB’s orgasmic noises going public, not the idea that said (putative) orgasm was caused by another man.

As for Birkin, she would appear on one of the great albums of the 1970s, Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, briefly on vocals and prominently on the cover, on which she holds her toy tiger to cover up her breasts (not that Birkin was particularly shy about public nudity). Her musical career in general was not an extraordinarily fertile ground for the classics of French pop music, but even when the music was mediocre and her voice thin, it was carried by Birkin’s enigmatic personality.

The Eagle
By all accounts, bassist Randy Meisner was a very nice guy, so it seems harsh that his bandmates in Poco and the Eagles treated him so poorly. As a founder member of Poco, he recorded the group’s debut album, but quit the band when he was excluded from participating the final mix, by order of guitarist Richie Furay. Meisner’s bass and backing vocals were retained, but on the cover drawing, his likeness was replaced by that of a dog. In Poco he was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.

Meisner went on to co-found the Eagles, where he wrote and sang lead on a few songs, including the wonderful Take It To The Limit. He recorded six albums with the Eagles, leaving after 1976’s Hotel California. Again, he was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.

When the Eagles reformed for the Hell Freezes Over tour, Meisner was deliberately and explicitly excluded. He was hurt by it, but said he felt no grudge towards Frey and Henley. Likewise, he later performed with Furay, who had treated Meisner so poorly in Poco.

After his time with the Eagles, Meisner recorded a few decent but commercially indifferent albums, and ran a few projects with other musicians.

The Trailblazer
As the new millennium kicked off, one of my big jams was Coco Lee’s Do You Want My Love, an infectious dance number that always put me in a good mood. So I was all the more saddened to learn that Hong Kong-born Lee’s life ended with suicide.

In 2001, Lee became the first Chinese-American singer to perform at the Oscars, with A Love Before Time from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Lee recorded both in English and Mandarin, and seemed to be well-connected: her 2011 wedding in Hong Kong included performances by Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys and Ne-Yo. She died at 48, three days after attempting suicide on July 2.

The Hornblower
Count Basie rated trumpeter Oscar Brashear so highly, he showcased him in his concerts in the 1960s, as he did in this clip from 1968. Brashear was best-known as a trumpeter, but played any horn instrument. Apart from contributing to jazz acts, that versatility ensured him a place in many horn sections that appeared on countless soul and pop records. He played on virtually all Earth, Wind & Fire album, and on tracks like The Crusaders’ Street Life or Webster Lewis’ glorious Give Me Some Emotion.

Brashear backed acts like Donny Hathaway, John Lee Hooker, Solomon Burke, Zulema, Bonnie Raitt, Marvin Gaye, Patrice Rushen, The Blackbyrds, Randy Newman, Etta James, Esther Philips, Carole King (including the wonderful Sweet Season), Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Michael Franks, Ry Cooder, BB King, Deniece Williams, Maria Muldaur, Patti Labelle, Letta Mbulu, Tavares, The Sylvers, Teena Marie, Rick James, The Whispers, Was (Not Was), Frank Sinatra (on the Duets album), Thomas Dolby, Kenny Rogers, Dr John, Quincy Jones, Babyface, Lionel Richie, Tamia (on You Put A Move On My Heart), and many more…

Aside from Basie, he recorded with jazz acts such as Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Blue Mitchell, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Sergio Mendes, Henry Mancini, Alice Coltrane, Earl Klugh, Stanley Turrentine, Gabor Szabo, Jon Lucien, Ramsey Lewis, Norman Connors, Hubert Laws, Sadao Watanabe, Rodney Franklin, Pharoah Sanders, Hubert Laws, Lalo Schifrin, Freddie Hubbard, Nelson Riddle, Toots Thielemans, Horace Silver, Herb Alpert, David Axelrod, Diane Schuur, Joe Sample, George Duke, Herbie Hancock and others.

The Bassist
Although he released a number of solo records and was part of the jazz-fusion trio RMS, English multi-instrumentalist Mo Foster was best known as a backing musician for acts like Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Gil Evans, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Joan Armatrading, Gerry Rafferty, Meat Loaf, Cher, Scott Walker, Cliff Richard, George Martin, Judie Tzuke, Olivia Newton-John, Dr John, Stephen Bishop, Elkie Brooks, Michael Schenker, Heaven 17 and many others. He primarily played the bass guitarist, especially on Jeff Beck records.

He also played on soundtracks for many TV shows (including the distinctive bass on the theme of Minder), musicals (including Evita) and for films such as For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Revenge of the Pink Panther, and Clockwise.

Foster was also a songwriter and producer, and wrote a humorous history of the British rock guitar, with a foreword by Hank Marvin.

The TV Composer
If you have watched any episode of the UK crime show Midsomer Murders (or “Tories Killing Tories”, as I call it), you will have heard the compositions of Jim Parker, who has died at 88. He scored the internationally popular show, and wrote its theme, with the ghostly theremin. Parker also wrote the theme and score for 1990s superb House of Cards series (and its sequels, which deteriorated in quality. The first season, however, still towers over the US copy with Verbal). Parker also wrote for Foyles’ War and Victoria Woods’ TV programmes, and the scores of several films.

Once he made it into the UK charts, having set a poem called Captain Beaky by Jeremy Lloyd to music, with Keith Mitchell reciting. Recorded in 1977 — as part of a project that also included recitals by Peter Sellers, Twiggy and Harry Secombe — it reached #5 in 1980. Parker also set poems by John Betjeman to music, with the poet laureate reciting his own words.

The Brazilian Legends
Tony Bennett once described jazz singer Leny Andrade, who died at 80 only three days after him, as “Brazil’s Ella Fitzgerald”. Like Fitzgerald, Andrade recorded with some of the biggest names in her field, including João Donato, whom we also lost this month.

On the same day Andrade died, her longtime friend and fellow legendary singer Dóris Monteiro passed away, at the age of 88. A joint wake was held at the venerable Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.

Monteiro’s recording career went back as far as 1951, with some film appearances following. By 1956 she was so big a star that she got her own TV show. She recorded regularly into the 1990s, and toured into her 70s.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.

Jerry Masters, 83, sound engineer, bassist and songwriter, on June 30
Clarence Carter – Patches (1969, on bass)
Tony Joe White – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1972, as engineer and on backing vocals)

Vicki Anderson, 83, soul singer (James Brown Revue), on July 3
Vicky Anderson – The Message From The Soul Sisters (1970)

Mo Foster, 78, English multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, on July 3
Affinity – I Am And So Are You (1970, as member)
Phil Collins – It Don’t Matter To Me (1982, on bass)
Meat Loaf – Piece Of The Action (1984, on bass)
Mo Foster – The Light In Your Eyes (1988)

Lincoln Mayorga, 86, pianist and arranger, on July 3
The Four Preps – Big Man (1958, on piano)

Canelita Medina, 84, Venezuelan salsa singer, on July 4
Canelita Medina – Canto a la Guaira (1981)

Martin Stevens, 69, Canadian pop singer, on July 5
Martin Stevens – Midnight Music (1979)

Ralph Lundsten, 86, Swedish electronic music composer, on July 5

George Tickner, 76, rock guitarist, founding member of Journey, announced July 5
Journey – Of A Lifetime (1975, as member and co-writer)

Marcello Colasurdo, 68, Italian singer-songwriter and actor, on July 5

Coco Lee, 48, Hong Kong-American dance singer-songwriter, suicide on July 5
Coco Lee – Do You Want My Love (1999, also as producer)
Coco Lee – I Just Wanna Marry U (2013, also as writer)

Rob Agerbeek, 85, Dutch jazz pianist, on July 5

Caleb Southern, 53, pop-rock musician, producer and computer scientist, on July 6
Ben Folds Five – Magic (1999, as producer)

Peter Nero, 89, pianist and conductor with the Philly Pops, on July 6

Oscar Brashear, 78, jazz trumpeter, on July 7
Count Basie – Switch In Time (1968, on trumpet)
Earth, Wind & Fire – In The Stone (1979, on trumpet)
Crusaders feat Randy Crawford – Street Life (1979, full version, on trumpet)
Double Scale feat. Oscar Brashear – Smooth (1999)

Özkan Uğur, 69, member of Turkish pop band MFÖ, on July 8

Greg Cook, 72, singer with soul band The Unifics, on July 8
The Unifics – The Beginning Of My End (1968)

Bob Segarini, 77, US-Canadian pop musician and radio presenter, on July 10
Segarini – When the Lights Are Out (1978)

Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, 89, German free jazz musician, on July 10

Toni Carbone, 62, bassist of Italian new wave band Denovo, on July 11
Denovo – Persuasione (1987)

Anthony Meo, drummer of hardcore band Biohazard, announced July 14

Dano LeBlanc, 55, Canadian musician and cartoonist, on July 15

Jane Birkin, 76, English-French singer and actress, on July 16
Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime moi non plus (1969)
Jane Birkin – Lolita Go Home (1975)
Jane Birkin – Norma Jean Baker (1983)

Marc Herrand, 98, singer with French vocal group Les Compagnons de la Chanson, on July 17
Les Compagnons de la Chanson – Le marchand de Bonheur (1960)

João Donato, 88, Brazilian jazz and bossa nova pianist, on July 17
Donato e Seu Trio – Só Danço Samba (1965)
João Donato – E Menina (1975)

DJ Deeon, 56, house music DJ and producer, on July 17
DJ Deeon – Freak Like Me (1996)

Mark Thomas, 67, British film composer, on July 19
Mark Thomas – Opening Titles of ‘Shadows In The Sun’ (2006, as composer, conductor)

Tony Bennett, 96, jazz vocalist, on July 21
Tony Bennett – Rags To Riches (1953)
Tony Bennett with the Count Basie Orchestra – I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plans (1959)
Tony Bennett – I Left My Heart In San Francisco (live) (1994)
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Anything Goes (2014)

Neal Langford, 50, bassist of The Shins (2000-2003), on July 21
The Shins – Caring Is Creepy (2001)

Knut Riisnæs, 77, Norwegian jazz musician, on July 22

Arthur Rubin, 97, stage-singer and actor, on July 22

Vince Hill, 89, English singer and songwriter, on July 22
Vince Hill – Merci Cherie (1966)

Peter Austin, 78, singer with Jamaican ska band The Clarendonians, on July 22
The Clarendonians – Rudie Bam Bam (1966)

Raymond Froggatt, 81, English songwriter, on July 23
Raymond Froggatt – Callow La Vita (1968)

Cecilia Pantoja, 79, Chilean singer-songwriter, on July 24
Cecilia – Te Perdí (1965)

Dóris Monteiro, 88, Brazilian singer and actress, on July 24
Dóris Monteiro – Se Você se Importasse (1951)
Dóris Monteiro – Mocinho Bonito (1957)
Dóris Monteiro – Coqueiro Verde (1970)

Leny Andrade, 80, Brazilian singer and musician, on July 24
Leny Andrade – O Amor e a Rosa (1961)
Leny Andrade – Flor de Liz (live) (1984)
Leny Andrade – Rio (1991)

Brad Houser, 62, musician and co-founder of the New Bohemians, on July 24
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – Nothing (1988, on bass and as co-writer)

Paul ‘Biff’ Rose, 85, comedian and singer-songwriter, on July 25
Biff Rose – Fill Your Heart (1968; original of the Bowie song)

Andreas Tsoukalas, 60, Greek pop singer, on July 25

Sinéad O’Connor, 56, Irish singer and songwriter, announced on July 26
Sinead O’Connor – Mandinka (1987)
Sinead O’Connor – Black Boys On Mopeds (1990)
Terry Hall  & Sinead O’Connor – All Kinds Of Everything (1998)
Sinead O’Connor – How About I Be Me (2014)

Roseline Damian, 39, Kenyan gospel singer, on July 26

Randy Meisner, 77, musician, singer, songwriter with the Eagles, on July 26
Poco – Calico Lady (1969, on bass and backing vocals)
Eagles – Take It To The Limit (1975, on lead vocals, bass and as writer)
Eagles – Try And Love Again (1976, on lead vocals, bass and as writer)
Randy Meisner – Gotta Get Away (1980)

Bea Van der Maat, 62, Belgian singer, TV presenter and actress, on July 27

Jim Parker, 88, British TV music composer, on July 28
Sir John Betjeman – Slough (1981, as composer and producer)
Jim Parker – Francis Urquhart’s March (Theme of ‘House of Cards’) (1990, as composer)
Jim Parker – Theme of ‘Midsomer Murders’ (1997, as composer)

Tommi Stumpff, 65, German electro-punk musician, on July 28
Tommi Stumpff – Alarm (1982)

Edgar Pozzer, 84, Brazilian singer, on July 29

Manolo Miralles, 71, musician and singer with Spanish folk band Al Tall, on July 29
Al Tall – Cant de la Muixeranga (2009)

Paul ‘Peewee Herman’ Reubens, 70, American actor, on July 30
Peewee Herman – Surfin’ Bird (1987)

Alice Stuart, 81, blues and folk singer-songwriter and guitarist, on July 31
Alice Stuart – Woman Blue (1964)

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In Memoriam – June 2023

July 4th, 2023 6 comments

It has been a fairly quiet month, certainly after last month’s havoc. Though it is a little bit spooky that within four days, the surviving brothers of bluegrass sibling duos died: first Jesse McReynolds of Jim & Jesse, then Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers. It was also a bad month for musicians who were also noted as artists: three of them left us this month.

The Songwriting Legend
With her life-long husband Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil was one of the great songwriters on the Brill Building scene, with Weil doing lyrics and Mann the music. Their big hits included Uptown, He’s Sure The Boy I Love (The Crystals), You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, You’re My Soul And Inspiration  (Righteous Brothers), On Broadway, Saturday Night At The Movies (The Drifters), Blame It On The Bossa Nova (Edye Gorme), Walking In The Rain (The Ronettes), Looking Through The Eyes Of Love (Gene Pitney, The Partridge Family), We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (The Animals), Kiss, Hungry (Paul Revere & The Raiders), I Just Can’t Help Believing (BJ Thomas, Elvis Presley),  Make Your Own Kind Of Music, It’s Getting Better (Mama Cass), Here You Come Again (Dolly Parton), Just Once (James Ingram), Black Butterfly (Deniece Williams), Never Gonna Let You Go (Sergio Mendes),  Somewhere Out There (James Ingram & Linda Ronstadt), and I Don’t Know Much (Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville).

Other hits Weil co-wrote without Mann include He’s So Shy (Pointer Sisters), Running With The Night, Love Will Conquer All (Lionel Richie), If Ever You’re in My Arms Again (Peabo Bryson), and Through The Fire (Chaka Khan).

Weil and Mann were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

The Bossa Nova Queen
The story of Astrud Gilberto is not a happy one. She charmed the world with her vocals for The Girl Of Ipanema, with the ghastly Stan Getz claiming, falsely, her to be a housewife whom he had discovered. In fact, Astrud had been in the studio with her husband João Gilberto, when (according to one story) the writer of the English text, this blog’s old ‘friend’ Norman Gimbel, suggested that Astrud night take the English vocals, since João couldn’t handle them.

Astrud was paid a nominal session fee of $120, and when the song became a mega hit, Stan Getz actively lobbied that Astrud not receive any royalties. But the asshole had her singing for him on tour, where he apparently was abusive towards her. Years later, Astrud recorded a disco version of the song; again she was excluded from sharing in the proceeds.

She recorded a number of albums, which included songs she had written, in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese, and toured extensively. Astrud retired in 2002, reportedly leaving the music industry with total disgust for it.

The Independence Singer
When Jamaica gained its independence from Britain in 1962, the theme song to the event, titled Independent Jamaica, was sung by an artist born in Trinidad, Lord Creator. The single was also the first-ever release by Island Records.

The man born as Kentrick Patrick had started out in Trinidad as a calypso artist, but he was a man of diverse genres: R&B, ska and rocksteady, all of which were foundation blocks for what would be called reggae. His big rocksteady hit in 1970, Kingston Town, went on to become a global hit in 1989 in the feckless version by UB40. Lord Creator’s career had mostly stopped after Kingston Town, but for all its dreadfulness, the UB40 hit not only revived his career but also set him up financially, as the song’s writer. Lord Creator received Jamaica’s Order Of Distinction last year.

The Actor
In February 1957, The Banana Boat Song was in the US Top 10 in two very different versions: one by Harry Belafonte, the other by folk trio The Tarriers, who added elements of another Jamaican song, Hill And Gully Rider, to their version. Belafonte’s version is now the standard, but it was The Tarriers’ take that was initially most often covered. Playing guitar and singing with the folk-trio was co-founder Alan Arkin, who went on to become a rightfully acclaimed actor. He also took part in the recording of the chart-topper Cindy Oh Cindy with Vince Martin before leaving the band for the stage and screen. For some time he sang on stage and was the guitarist of the children’s folk-music band The Baby Sitters. Then he hit the big screen.

The Originals Singer
In his career, Jack Lee never had a hit, neither with his short-lived proto-new wave band The Nerves nor as a solo artist. But he wrote and first recorded two big hits: Hangin’ On The Telephone, recorded in 1976 with The Nerves, was a global hit for Blondie in 1980. Lee re-recorded the song in 1982. Come Back And Stay, a solo effort in 1981, was a hit for Paul Young in 1983.

The Bluegrass Brother 1
In 2002, the brothers and bluegrass legends Jim & Jesse were diagnosed with cancer. Jim died later that year, breaking up a duo that had been performing for 55 years. Jesse McReynolds beat cancer and lived to the ripe age of 93.

The duo had recorded since 1952, but hit it big in the 1960s. Jesse played the mandolin with a self-invented crosspicking and split-string method. After Jim’s death, Jesse continued to record and perform with the duo’s long-time backing band, The Virginia Boys. With them, he incorporated music by the likes of Grateful Dead in their repertoire. Jesse was such a fan that he produced a tribute album to Gerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in 2010, with his grandson Garrett McReynolds on guitar.

The Bluegrass Brother 2
Within four days, the surviving brothers of great bluegrass sibling duos died: first Jesse McReynolds, then Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers, whose brother Sonny left us in October 2021. Within their genre, the Osbornes were innovators, introducing new harmony styles and instruments like drums (the first in bluegrass to do so), percussions and electronic instruments. Having first recorded in the 1950s, they were members of the Grand Ole Opry. Their 1967 hit Rocky Top was named an official Tennessee state song in 1982. After Sonny retired, Bobby continued to perform with two sons in his band Rocky Top X-press.

The Composer
If middle-aged adults in Europe with a jones for instrumentals bought two records in the 1970s, they might well have been 1974’s Dolannes Mélodie and Ballad Pour Adeline, a 1978 hit for Richard Clayderman. Both sings were composed by Paul De Senneville, who recorded the former with Olivier Toussaint, his songwriting partner, and trumpet player Jean-Claude Borelly. Those two tunes were everywhere in Europe! De Senneville had a background in scoring French films, even though he could neither read music nor play an instrument. He would hum his melodies into a tape recorder and had a pianist play the melodies.

With Toussaint, De Senneville wrote for French-speaking stars such as Mireille Mathieu, Michèle Torr, Christophe, Hervé Vilard, Dalida, and Claude François, selling more than 100 million records sold internationally.

In 1988, De Senneville founded Delphine Software International, a French video game company named after his daughter.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.

 

Jack Lee, 71 guitarist and songwriter with new wave band The Nerves, on May 26
The Nerves – Hanging On The Telephone (1976, also as writer)
Jack Lee – Come Back And Stay (1981, also as writer)
Jack Lee – Sex (1985)

Cynthia Weil, 82, legendary songwriter, on June 1
The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1965, as lyricist)
Mama Cass – It’s Getting Better (1969, as lyricist)
Dolly Parton – Here You Come Again  (1977, as lyricist)
Barry Mann – Don’t Know Much (1980, as lyricist)

Pacho El Antifeka, 42, Puerto Rican rapper, shot, on June 1

Roy Taylor, singer and bass player of Irish pop group Jump the Gun, on June 1
Jump The Gun – Take Him Home (1988)

Pedro Messone, 88, Chilean folk singer, composer, actor and fascist, on June 1

George Winston, 74, new age music pianist, on June 4
George Winston – Living In The Country (1991)

Dora María, 89, Mexican folk singer, on June 4

Astrud Gilberto, 83, Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer, on June 5
Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Corcovado (1963, on vocals)
Astrud Gilberto – O Morro (Não tem Vez) (1965)
Astrud Gilberto feat. Chet Baker – Far Away (1977, also as co-writer)
Astrud Gilberto & George Michael – Desafinado (1996)

Philippe Marcade, 68, singer of punk band The Senders, on June 5
The Senders – 6th Street (1981)

Tony McPhee, 79, guitarist of English blues-rock band The Groundhogs, on June 6
The Groundhogs – Soldier (1970, also as writer)

Peter Belli, 79, German-born Danish singer and actor, on June 8

Lee Clayton, 80, rock and country musician and composer, on June 12

Christy Dignam, 63, singer of Irish rock band Aslan, on June 13
Aslan – This Is (1986)

Blackie Onassis, 57, drummer and songwriter with alt.rock band Urge Overkill, on June 13
Urge Overkill – Sister Havana (1993)

Sylvan Morris, 74, reggae sound engineer, on June 17
Dandy Livingstone – No Matter What The Question (1978, as engineer)

Dan Lardner, singer and guitarist of indie band QTY, announced June 15
QTY – Cold Nights (2017)

Sergey Kolchin, 45, guitarist of Russian rock band Zemlyane, on June 15

Don Kloetzke, 71, folk-rock musician and artist, on June 15
White Duck – Black-Eyed Susan (1972, as member on keyboards)

Luiz Schiavon, 64, keyboardist of Brazilian rock band RPM, on June 15
RPM – Rádio Pirata (Ao Vivo) (1985)

Dave Maclean, 78, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on June 17
Dave Maclean – We Said Goodbye (1974)

Teresa ‘Nervosa’ Taylor, 60, drummer of the Butthole Surfers, on June 18
Butthole Surfers – Cherub (1984)

Krzysztof Olesiński, 70, bass player of Polish rock band Maanam, on June 18

Big Pokey, 45, American rapper, on June 18
Big Pokey – Hardest Pit (1999)

Ryan Siew, 26, guitarist of Australian metalcore band Polaris, on June 19

Max Morath, 96, ragtime pianist, composer, TV presenter and author, on June 19
Max Morath – Hello, Ma Baby (1964)

Paolo Zavallone, 90, Italian singer and composer, on June 20
El Pasador – Amada mia, amore mia (1977, as El Pasador)

Choi Sung-bong, 33, South Korean pop singer, on June 20

John Waddington, 63, guitarist of English rock band The Pop Group, on June 20
The Pop Group – She Is Beyond Good And Evil (1979, also as co-writer)

Peter Brötzmann, 82, German free jazz saxophonist, on June 22

Robert Black, 67, electric and double bass player, on June 22

Jesse McReynolds, 93, half of bluegrass duo Jim & Jesse, on June 23
Jim & Jesse – Diesel On My Tail (1967)
Jim & Jesse – Ashes Of Love (1976)
The Virginia Boys – Where the Soul Never Dies (2017, as leader)

Sheldon Harnick, 99, lyricist and songwriter, on June 23
Zero Mostel – If I Were A Rich Man (1964, as lyricist)

Paul de Senneville, 89, French composer and producer, on June 23
Paul De Senneville & Olivier Toussaint – Dolannes Mélodie (1974)
Richard Clayderman – Ballad Pour Adeline (1977, as composer and producer)

Lee Rauch, 58, founding drummer of Megadeth, on June 23

Claude Barzotti, 69, Belgian singer, on June 24
Claude Barzotti – Le Rital (1981)

Ysabelle Lacamp, 68, French singer, actress and author, on June 26
Ysabelle Lacamp – Baby Bop (1987)

Carmen Sevilla, 92, Spanish actress, singer and dancer, on June 27

Bobby Osborne, 91, half of bluegrass duo Osborne Brothers, on June 27
Osborne Brothers – Once More (1958)
Osborne Brothers – Tennessee Hound Dog (1967)
Osborne Brothers & Mac Wiseman – Midnight Flyer (1972)

Alan Arkin, 89, actor and guitarist-singer with folk group The Tarriers, on July 29
The Tarriers – The Banana Boat Song (1956)
Vince Martin with The Tarriers – Cindy, Oh Cindy (1957)

Anita Wood, 85, American singer, actress, Elvis’ ex-girlfriend, on June 29
Elvis Presley & Anita Wood – I Can’t Help It (1958, home recording)
Anita Wood – I’ll Wait Forever (1961)

Lord Creator, 87, Trinidadian-Jamaican singer-songwriter, on June 30
Lord Creator – The Cockhead (1956)
Lord Creator – Independent Jamaica (1962)
Lord Creator – Kingston Town (1969)

Rick Froberg, 55, indie musician and artist, on June 30
Drive Like Jehu – Bullet Train To Vegas (1992, as member)

Monte Cazazza, 68, artist and industrial music composer, on June 30
Monte Cazazza – To Mom On Mother’s Day (1979)

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In Memoriam – May 2023

June 5th, 2023 13 comments

After a brutal start, with Gordon Lightfoot and Linda Lewis leaving us within a couple of days of one another, May ambled along relatively easily, and then became hectic again three weeks in, before the Reaper took his foot of his lethal pedal.

It was a bad month for bassists: within one week, we lost Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, heavy metal bassist Algy Ward (who in 1979 also was a member of The Damned), session bassist John Giblin (who played on many songs you probably know), South African jazz bassist Musa Manzini — and Chas Newby.

Chas Newby might have been a member of the Fab Five! After Stu Sutcliffe dropped out of the Beatles to stay in Hamburg, Newby filled in on bass for him. Before the group’s second trip to Hamburg, Chas was asked to join the band. Newby declined in order to go to university, and McCartney reluctantly took over bass duties. Newby went on to become a maths teacher. But it might have been John, Paul, George, Chas and Ringo…

The Acid Queen
There really isn’t much left to say about Tina Turner. I posted a mix of covers by Tina Turner (with and without Ike) the day after her death at 83, and offered some thoughts about Tina (whose name I stubbornly mistyped as Tuna). Get it here.

Featured here is her first-ever released single from 1958, on which she was billed as Little Ann, given that her real name was Anna Mae Bullock. Not very well known is that Tina was also a songwriter, especially towards the end of her time with Ike. Much of their 1974 album Sweet Rhode Island Red was written by Tina. Two of her works feature here, including a track on which we hear the singer in full-blown soul-gospel mode.

The Singer-Songwriter
Likewise, I have already paid tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, who died on May 1 at 84, by way of a Songbook. Lightfoot was one of many legends in the field of singing-songwriting, at a time when that genre was in its prime. Canada gave us four of these legends: Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Lightfoot.

I don’t know whether the Turner and Lightfoot mixes were in any way welcome (or the Prince Songbook, or the Power Ballads). The new filehosting service I use provides no stats, unlike Zippyshare, which used to give me a good idea as to what was popular and what was more niche. And without comments from readers, and that function has not been used much lately, I have no idea what hits and what misses.

The Songbird
As mentioned, the month of May kicked off in a nasty way. First Lightfoot died, two days later Linda Lewis. The English singer had an incredible range, in terms of voice — it is said that her range topped even that of Minnie Riperton — and of musical styles. She fused folk, soul and funk effortlessly.

On some of her early songs, Linda’s voice is just a little too high, too childlike for my taste. I call it the Joni Syndrome. Take the chorus of her hit Rock A Doodle Doo, which spoils a decent song for me. When she dropped her voice a little, it was gorgeous. Check out the featured Love Love Love from the aptly titled and very good Not A Little Girl Anymore album from 1975. It also shows off her fine songwriting skills.

Later she had a superb dance track in 1984 with Class/Style (I’ve Got It), which should have been a huge hit but inexplicably wasn’t.

Lewis also sang back-up for acts like David Bowie (on the Aladdin Sane album), Cat Stevens, Rick Wakeman, Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel, Rod Stewart, and later Joan Armatrading, Turin Brakes, Fatboy Slim, Paul Weller and Oasis.

The Smith
With the death at only 59 of Andy Rourke, bassist of The Smiths, huge numbers of Gen-Xers have lost a co-creator of a sound that accompanied them in dark times. No matter that Morrissey these days is an insufferable ass, The Smiths are giants in 1980s music.

Of course, the focus was on the frontman and guitarist Johnny Marr. Quite likely, only Smiths fans could easily name the other two (can you name the drummer?). But make no mistake Rourke’s bass drives the music. Just think of the oppressive bassline in How Soon Is Now, without which Marr’s meowing guitar would seem gratuitous. Marr has acknowledged Rourke’s huge contribution to the Smiths sound, noting that the two funk fans played off one another.

After the band split, Rourke was involved in various projects, including a Mancunian supergroup called Freebass with fellow bass players Mani (Stone Roses) and Peter Hook (New Order). He backed acts like the Pretenders, Killing Joke, Badly Drawn Boy and Ian Brown, as well as his old Smiths colleague Morrissey on hits like November Spawned A Monster, Interesting Drug, and The Last Of The Famous International Playboys. Rourke’s last band was the rock band D.A.R.K., with the late ex-Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan on lead vocals

Oh, and the drummer was Mike Joyce.

The Session Bassist
Not only The Smiths mourned the loss of a bassist, but also acts like Kate Bush, Phil Collins, Chris de Burgh, and Peter Gabriel. Scottish bassist Jon Giblin, who has died at 71, played on hits such as Bush’s Babooshka, and Collins’ In The Air Tonight and You Can’t Hurry Love, Annie Lennox’s Why, and De Burgh’s Don’t Pay The Ferryman and Lady In Red. He was especially active on many Kate Bush albums since 1980.

Giblin also backed acts like Simple Minds, Elkie Brooks, Paul McCartney, Stephen Bishop, Hugh Masekela, Jon Anderson, Marcia Hines, John Martyn, Donovan, Johnny Hallyday, Judie Tzuke, Jim Capaldi, Annie Lennox, Mavis Staples, Alan Parsons, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Richard Ashcroft, Papa Wemba, The Everly Brothers, Brand X, Scott Walker, David Sylvian, Fish, Tanita Tikaram, Joan Armatrading, and many others.

The Soul Blower
If you hear any number of Stax or Stax-recorded tracks that feature horns by the likes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, King Curtis, Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin and so on, you’ll probably hear the baritone sax of Floyd Newman, who has died at 91. Newman was a member of the Stax houseband The Mar-Keys and the Memphis Horns.

Newman played in the 1940s with BB King and toured in the 1950s with Sam Cooke before he formed a live band that also included future Stax legend Isaac Hayes, whom he later backed on many albums. Hayes also played on Newman’s one single release, 1964’s Frog Stomp, on Stax.

The Ska Pioneer
With the passing of alto saxophonist Lester Sterling, only one of the ten founding member of Jamaica’s influential band The Skatalites is still alive. Apart from pioneering ska music, the band also backed many future reggae legends, including Prince Buster and, on their first single (titled Simmer Down), Bob Marley & The Wailers.

After The Skatalites first split in 1965, Sterling joined up with Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, and also released several solo records and other collaborations. When The Skatalites reformed in the mid-1970s, Sterling rejoined the band and remained its one constant member over the next few decades.

The In-Crowd Drummer
With the death of drummer Redd Holt, all three members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio are now gone into the Great Jazz Club in the Sky. Holt and double-bassist Eldee Young, who died in 2007, played with Lewis (whom we lost in September last year) for ten years, scoring hits such The In-Crowd, Wade In The Water and Hang On Sloopy.

In 1967 Holt and Young split from Lewis to form their own group, Young-Holt Unlimited. They had a huge hit in 1969 with Soulful Strut, basically the instrumental backing track plus piano solo of Barbara Acklin’s song Am I The Same Girl — on which neither Young or Holt are said to have played (blame the record company for that scheme). Young and Holt continued to record together for several years, and Holt also released a number of solo albums.

The Teenage Pioneer
He was only 15 years old when Dickie Harrell drummed on one of rock & roll’s defining pioneer hits, 1956’s Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. Vincent’s vocals and Cliff Gallup’s guitar solo are the focal of this great rockabilly song. But Harrell’s two screams, at 37 seconds and again at 1:31, help give it that anarchic rock & roll sensibility. Harrell later said that he screamed so that his mom could hear him on record.

Dickie toured with Vincent for just a year, and left the Blue Caps after scoring another huge hit with Blue Jean Bop. He released one album, a Latin dance effort titled Drums And More Drums, in 1961, and would occasionally play with surviving Blue Caps. But much of his life was spent in the less glamorous domain of hazardous waste.

The Spike Composer
Perhaps Bill Lee is best-known as the composer of the scores for the first four films of his son Spike Lee, with whom he had a complicated relationship. But by then, Bill had accumulated an impressive string of credits as a session man, especially on folk records in the 1960s. As a bassist, he backed Odetta, Bob Dylan, Ian & Sylvia, Peter Paul & Mary, Theodore Bikel, Tom Rush, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, The Chad Mitchell Trio, Tom Paxton and others. He also played on Gordon Lightfoot’s debut album, including the featured For Lovin’ Me.

Outside folk, he backed acts like (pre-soul) Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Ray Bryant Trio, and John Lee Hooker. But his revival came when he scored Spike’s films She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and Mo’ Better Blues. The scoring ended when Bill and Lee had a falling out.

The Cream Poet
Pete Brown is probably best remembered as the lyricist of Cream hits such as Sunshine Of Your Love, White Room, I Feel Free, and SWLABR. Before all that he was a performance poet; after writing for Cream, he became a recording artist.

The first band he founded was Pete Brown and His Battered Ornaments. The day before the band was to open for the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, the band fired its founder — and with that the first part of its name. He was replaced by Chris Spedding. Brown kept recording, releasing his final album in 2010. In 2017, he contributed lyrics Procol Harum’s final album, Novum.

The Ames Brother
With the death at 95 of Ed Ames, all of easy listening quartet The Ames Brothers are now gone. They started their recording career in 1948 and had their biggest hits in the early and mid-1950s, including Rag Mop, Sentimental Me, You You You, Undecided, The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane, and Tammy (their version and Debbie Reynolds’ both featured in the film of that name).

Ed Ames went on to have a number of easy listening solo hits in the 1960s, but was maybe more famous for playing the Native American Mingo in the TV series Daniel Boone. (Casting the son of Ukrainian Jews as an indigenous American made perfect sense in the ’60s, apparently.)

It is with that background that in 1965 Ames appeared on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, tasked with showing off his tomahawk-throwing skills. Aiming at the drawn outline of a cowboy, the tomahawk got stuck almost exactly in the cowboy’s crotch — handle pointing upwards. It got one of the longest laughs in TV history, milked by Carson, who then riffed on the notion of circumcision. “I didn’t even know you were Jewish,” Carson exclaimed — which, of course, Ames was.  See the clip here.

The Net Slipper
Some deaths slip through the net. I learnt only in May of the passing on January 27 of Daniel Boone, who had a massive global hit in 1972 with Beautiful Sunday. His death was reported only in March. Beautiful Sunday featured on Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1, which was posted almost exactly a year before Boone’s death at the age of 80. It was his second and final big hit; the first had been in 1971 with Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast, a hit in the US for Wayne Newton, which in Boone’s original recording reached #17 in the UK and topped the charts in South Africa. By all accounts, Boone (born Peter Green) was a delightful person to know6.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.

Daniel Boone, 80, English pop singer, on January 27
Daniel Boone – Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast (1971)
Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday (German Version) (1972)

Gordon Lightfoot, 84, Canadian singer-songwriter, on May 1
Gordon Lightfoot – For Lovin’ Me (1966)
Gordon Lightfoot – Looking At The Rain (1972)
Gordon Lightfoot – Carefree Highway (1974)
Gordon Lightfoot – Triangle (1982)

Pugh Rogefeldt, 76, Swedish musician, on May 1

Linda Lewis, 72, English singer-songwriter, on May 3
Linda Lewis – You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet (1967)
Linda Lewis – On The Stage (1973)
Linda Lewis – Love, Love, Love (1975)
Linda Lewis – Class/Style (I’ve Got It) (1984)

John Albert, 58, ex-member of punk band Bad Religion, music journalist, on May 3

Rob Laakso, 44, indie multi-instrumentalist and producer, on May 4
Kurt Vile – Lost My Head There (2015, on bass and as producer and engineer)

Jack Wilkins, 78, jazz guitarist, on May 5

Seán Keane, 76, fiddler with Irish folk band The Chieftains, on May 7
The Chieftains – Lord Mayo (1973)
The Chieftains with Jackson Browne – The Rebel Jesus (1991)

Rita Lee, 75, singer with Brazilian rock band Os Mutantes, on May 8
Rita Lee – Calma (1970)

Jon Povey, 80, keyboardist of UK rock band The Pretty Things, on May 9
The Pretty Things – Baron Saturday (1969)

Stu James, 77, lead singer of British beat group The Mojos, music executive, on May 10
The Mojos – Everything’s Al’right (1964)

Rolf Harris, 93, Australian entertainer, singer, convicted sex offender, on May 10
…no fucking way…

Francis Monkman, 73, musician and co-founder of Curved Air, Sky, and composer, on May 11
Curved Air – Melinda (More Or Less)
Sky – Toccata (1980)

Dum-Dum, 54, rapper with Brazilian hip hop group Facção Central, on May 12

John ‘Doc’ Wilson, 96, jazz trumpeter and arranger, on May 13

John Giblin, 71, Scottish bass player, on May 14
Kate Bush – Babooshka (1980, on bass)
Phil Collins – Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away (1982, on bass)
David Sylvian – Wanderlust (1999, on bass)

Bernt Rosengren, 85, Swedish jazz tenor saxophonist, on May 14

Musa Manzini, 52, South African jazz bassist, on May 15
Musa Manzini – Renaissance Song (2000)

Richard Landis, 77, singer-songwriter, producer, label executive, on May 16
Richard Landis – Natural Causes (1972, also as writer)
Juice Newton – Queen Of Hearts (1981, as producer)

Lester Sterling, 87, Jamaican saxophonist, co-founder of The Skatalites, on May 16
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Simmer Down (1963, as backing musician)
Prince Buster & The Skatalites – Mule Train (1964)
Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole – Bangarang (1969, also as writer)

Akwaboah Snr., Ghanaian singer-songwriter, on May 16

Algy Ward, 63, English heavy metal and punk bassist, on May 17
Tank – Turn Your Head Around (1982, also as co-writer)

Andy Rourke, 59, bassist of The Smiths, on May 19
The Smiths – This Charming Man (1984)
The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (1986)
Freebass – You Don’t Know (This About Me) (2010, as member on guitar & co-writer)

Pete Brown, 82, lyricist, singer and poet, on May 19
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love (1967, as lyricist)
Pete Brown & Piblokto! – Living Life Backwards (1969, on vocals and as lyricist)
Pete Brown & Phil Ryan – Dark City Coals (1993, on vocals and as lyricist)

Josef Aichberger, 87, Austrian trombone and flugelhorn player in dance hall/jazz band Die Rhythmiker, on May 20

Ed Ames, 95, singer and TV actor, on May 21
Ames Brothers – If You Had All The World And Its Gold (1948, as member)
Eddie Ames – The Bean Song (Which Way To Boston) (1956)
Ed Ames – Timeless Love (1967)

Peter Luboff, 77, soul songwriter, on May 21
Bobby Womack – I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much (1985, as co-writer)

Kirk Arrington, 61, drummer of metal band Metal Church, on May 22

James Lewis, 63, singer with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, on May 22
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Who I Am (2015)

Sheldon Reynolds, 63, funk and soul guitarist, vocalist, on May 23
The Commodores – Night Shift (1985, as member on guitar
Earth, Wind Fire – Wanna Be The Man (1990, as member and co-writer)

Floyd Newman, 91, soul saxophonist with the Mar-Keys, on May 23
Mar-Keys – Last Night (1961, also on vocals)
Floyd Newman – Frog Stomp (1963, also as writer)
Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind (1967, on baritone sax)
Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (1967, live at Monterrey)

Redd Holt, 91, jazz drummer (Ramsey Lewis Trio; Young-Holt Unlimited), on May 23
James Moody – Last Train From Overbrook (1958, on drums)
Ramsey Lewis Trio – Hang On Sloopy (1965)
Young-Holt Unlimited – Who’s Making Love Strut (1968)

Mark Adams, 64, bassist of metal band Saint Vitus, on May 23

Tina Turner, 83, soul, rock and pop singer, on May 24
Ike Turner, Carlson Olivier & Little Ann – Boxtop (1958, as Little Ann)
Ike & Tina Tuner – I Am A Motherless Child (1968, also as co-writer)
Ike & Tina Turner – Feel Good (1972, also as writer)
Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together (1983)

Bill Lee, 94, jazz and folk musician and film composer, father of Spike, on May 24
Odetta – Jumpin’ Judy (1959, on string-bass)
Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (1965, on bass)
Gordon Lightfoot – For Lovin’ Me (1966, on bass; see above)
Bill Lee feat. Branford Marsalis – Malcolm And Martin (1989, as composer and conductor)

George Maharis, 94, actor and singer, on May 24
George Maharis – Teach Me Tonight (1962)

Jean-Louis Murat, 71, French singer-songwriter, on May 25
Jean-Louis Murat – Si je devais manquer de toi (1987)

Joy McKean, 93, Australian country singer and songwriter, wife if Slim Dusty, on May 25
Slim Dusty – The Biggest Disappointment (1974, as writer)

Juan Carlos Formell, 59, Cuban singer and songwriter, on May 26

Reuben Wilson, 88, jazz organist, on May 26
Reuben Wilson – Got To Get Your Own (1975)

Eris O’Brien, Australian country songwriter, announced May 31

Dickie Harrell, 82, drummer of Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, announced May 31
Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Be-Bop-A-Lula (1956)
Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Bluejean Bop! (1957)
Dickie Harrell – Rock-Rock-Cha-Cha (1961)

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