The world of rap music lost one its own on June 20 when MOBB DEPP’s Prodigy lost his battle with sickle cell animia; he was only 42. MOBB DEPP had a triumvirate of Top 20 albums in the 90s: The Infamous, Hell On Earth and Murda Musik.
One of folk music’s most long-standing pioneers, ROSALIE SORRELS, passed away (aged 83) on June 11, 2017. In similar respects to classic Americana folk ladies BAEZ, COLLINS and HESTER, Rosalie possessed an inner strength even when her life looked bleak and desolate.
On 6th June 2017, one of folk music’s most stalwart and endearing characters passed away; aged 69. VIN GARBUTT‘s career could be traced back to his halcyon days in the 70s on Trailer and Topic Records, while his most recent set, `Synthetic Hues’ (2014), received several rave reviews.
One of the greats of Southern rock country-blues circuit, GREGG ALLMAN, passed away on May 27; he was 69 and had suffered from liver cancer for several years.
Up there with the greatest grunge artists of all time, CHRIS CORNELL passed to the other side on May 18; he was only 52. A solo artist of high standing, no one should forget his 4-octave vocals with three giants of the rock genre: SOUNDGARDEN, TEMPLE OF THE DOG and AUDIOSLAVE.
Kevin Stanton (guitarist of New Zealand new wave act Mi-Sex) died on 17th May; he was 61.
Renowned session and journeyman drummer, Jimmy Copley (ex-UPP), died of leukaemia on 13th May; he was 63. His most recent stint was with MANFRED MANN’S EARTH BAND, while he’d also played on albums by TEARS FOR FEARS, CURT SMITH, PRETENDERS, GRAHAM PARKER and many more.
Trance music DJ, ROBERT MILES (responsible for the Euro smash hit, `Children’ in 1996), died of stage 4 metastatic cancer on 9th May; he was a mere 47. Born Robert Concina in Switzerland, he was based in Italy most of his life and subsequently moved to rave-central Ibiza. An updated biog on the way.
One-time member of The BEAT (English Beat, in the US), Saxa died on 3rd May at the grand old age of 87.
Co-founding member of GRANDADDY, bassist Kevin Garcia, passed away on May 2 after suffering a massive stroke the previous day; he was 41.
Bradford-born ALLAN HOLDSWORTH, jazz-fusion giant with a post-prog CV second to none, died on 16th April; he was 70 and living in San Diego, California. From his first real jazz-rock attempts with late-60s act, ‘IGGINBOTTOM, to releasing over a dozen solo sets, the guitarist had spells with SOFT MACHINE, GONG, NUCLEUS, TEMPEST, U.K., BRUFORD and many, many more.
One-time bassist for THEM, Alan Henderson died aged 72 on 15th April.
Renowned for his session work for BOB DYLAN and a “Hired Hand” movie composer, BRUCE LANGHORNE died from complications from a stroke on April 14; he was 78.
Finland’s finest minimalist, Mika Vainio (ex-PAN SONIC and 0), died on 12th April; aged 53.
With JAMIROQUAI again riding high in the album charts, former keyboard player Toby Smith passed away on 12th April; he was only 46.
Responsible for hits such as `Must Have Got Lost’, `Centerfold’ and `Freeze-Frame’, guitarist and namesake of his own rock band, J. GEILS died at his home in Groton, Massachusetts, on April 11, 2017; police who found him were conducting a mandatory well-being check.
Known for his sets and songs of marijuana, political satirist of the late 60s, 70s, 80s and so on, DAVID PEEL died on April 6, 2017 after falling ill on March 31st. The missing link between The FUGS, ZAPPA, punk-rock and novelty records, David Peel & The Lower East Side released over a dozen full-sets; from Have A Marijuana (1968) to Give Hemp A Chance (2015).
LONNIE BROOKS, a bluesman with over a dozen albums to his name, passed away (aged 83) on April 1. Born Lee Baker Jr., December 18, 1933 in Louisiana, he first came to prominence in the late 50s/early 60s when he issued a handful of platters under the guise of “Guitar Jr.”. For a worthier insight into his career go to lonniebrooks.com.
Lead singer when 60s Brit-soul band The Foundations turned in huge hits, `Baby Now That I’ve Found You’ (No.1 in ’67) and `Build Me Up Buttercup’ (No.2 in ’68), Trinidad-born Clem Curtis died on 27th March 2017; he was 76.
Former BOSTON drummer Sib Hashian (b. John Thomas Hashian) died, aged 67, on March 22; apparently he collapsed while playing in a band on a cruise ship.
Up there with the all-time greats of rock’n’roll music, pioneer CHUCK BERRY passed to the other side on March 18, 2017; aged 90. Inspiring his peers to sing, and future generations to sing AND pick up a guitar, Chuck opened a new chapter of rock music when the mid-60s unveiled the British Invasion, helping him also to breathe fresh air into the charts (a la Nadine, No Particular Place To Go and You Never Can Tell) after departing prison.
Blues singer and songwriter, JAMES COTTON, passed away at his home in Austin, Texas, on March 16; he was 81. Born in Tunica, Mississippi, he worked with some of the legends of the genre, including MUDDY WATERS and HOWLIN’ WOLF, to name just a few. James released a plethora of albums during his lifespan and set up his own James Cotton Blues Quartet. A biography will be added to the site at a later date, unless there is an offer from a budding scribe.
Indie legends The CHAMELEONS (and subsequent bands beyond) lost one of their biggest assets when drummer John Lever passed away on 13th March; he was 55.
Joey Alves, guitarist of Y&T (of late as a touring guest), died on March 12 of complications arising from ulcerative colitis; he was 63.
Fans of 70s/80s dance act SISTER SLEDGE would be “Lost In Music” with the passing of Joni Sledge (aged 60), who died on March 10 of, as yet, unknown causes. `He’s The Greatest Dancer’, `We Are Family’ and UK chart-topper, `Frankie’, were among the quartet’s most memorable hits next to the aforementioned `Lost In Music’ (subsequently covered by The FALL).
Japanese garage beat music was kinda rare in the mid-to-late 60s, but with The SPIDERS they had a group to compete with the Brit Invasion; even though they were pale imitations. One of two lead singers and guitarists, Hiroshi Kamayatsu, at age 78, died of pancreatic cancer on 1st March 2017.
Commercially bypassed in his quest to expand the horizons of the guitar, jazz-rocker LARRY CORYELL, passed away on February 19; he was 73. Born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinden III in Galveston, Texas, his plethora of fine sets earned him the right to be called “The Godfather of Fusion”. A biography/discography will be on its way in the summer/autumn.
Announced on Facebook by his sister and manager, Desire, Swedish black metal guitarist Tony Sarkka (of both Ophthalamia + Abruptum) died on 14 February; he was 45.
Aged only 31, South Korean-born Canadian bassist Trish Doan was looking to further heavy-metal exploits with all-girl combo KITTIE, who she’d joined in 2005. Tragically, her life was cut short on February 13. For further info:- www.kittierocks.com
Purveyor of smooth FM jazz and R&B, AL JARREAU, died on February 12. In among a plethora of albums that struck gold & platinum in America, he was in his early 40s when he embraced the charts with the likes of We’re In This Love Together, Mornin’ and the theme from Moonlighting.
Known for his jazzy, avant-garde albums in the late 60s/early 70s, and his commandeering of US psychedelic band The ELECTRIC PRUNES (as arranger/composer), DAVID AXELROD died on Feb 5; he was 83.
That same day, and also from the same garage-band/psych era, OUTSIDERS singer Sonny Geraci passed away (aged 69). He’d suffered a brain aneurysm back in April 2012 and didn’t fully recover. The OUTSIDERS will be best remembered for US Top 5 smash, `Time Won’t Let Me’, while Geraci’s splinter group, CLIMAX, had a Top 3 hit in 1972 with `Precious And Few’.
Steve Lang, guitarist of Canadian hard rockers APRIL WINE (between 1976-84) died on Feb 4; he was 67.
Aged only 40, Swedish guitarist/vocalist of The HELLACOPTERS and Thunder Express, died on 3rd February; as yet cause of death unknown.
`Do You Wanna Dance’ was the question posed by youngsters all over the globe. The connection? …
A hit for many 60s beat groups as they plied their trade to climb to the top, it was indeed original R&B singer BOBBY FREEMAN, who first took the classic into the Top 5 in 1958. Sadly, aged 76, the once-lauded star died on January 31.
Joining him on his way to music heaven was the resourceful and multi-talented JOHN WETTON, whose CV read like a who’s who of prog-rock, having been part of countless combos such as MOGUL THRASH, FAMILY, URIAH HEEP, ROXY MUSIC, KING CRIMSON, WISHBONE ASH and, of course, ASIA. He died of colorectal cancer.
Also from these heady prog-rock days of yore, DEKE LEONARD (formerly of MAN), died on 31 January.
Known for his keyboard contributions for BLACK SABBATH (in the early 80s), and his time spent at the helm of Birmingham’s metal nearly-men, QUARTZ, Geoff Nicholls died of lung cancer on 28 January 2017.
The suicide by gunshot of Butch Trucks (drummer of The ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND) on January 24, 2017, was indeed a tragedy for music; he was 69.
Drummer of seminal German combo CAN, Jaki Liebezeit, died of pneumonia on 22nd January 2017; he was 78.
Bassist Pete Overend Watts, formerly bassist of MOTT THE HOOPLE, died of throat cancer, same day (aged 69).
On the other side of the music spectrum, folk artist Maggie Roach (ex-ROCHES), died of cancer on the 21st January.
A singer/songwriter since the days of his UK chart-topper, `Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)’, in early 1969, PETER SARSTEDT died of progressive supranuclear palsy on 8th January 2017; aged 75. Not quite a one-hit-wonder (`Frozen Orange Juice’ followed its sublime predecessor into the Top 10), Peter continued to try for further fame throughout the subsequent decades.
Xmas day was upset with the sad death (by way of heart failure) of the iconic pop star and singer-songwriter GEORGE MICHAEL – he was only 53. A former teenage star of WHAM! who’d several hits in the 80s (including `Young Guns (Go For It)’, `Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ and `Last Christmas’), his solo career was no better served than when the single and album, `Faith’, topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Subsequently blighted by years of controversy that concerned his sexuality, lewd behaviour in a Beverly Hills park toilet, a car crash into a corner shop etc., etc., his music sadly took a back seat to his public life. A comeback in 2014 with the album, `Symphonica’, was enlightening, but most fans were still in awe of his pre-millennium days as Britain’s most hippest stars.
The sad news of rock legend Rick Parfitt’s death filtered through in the afternoon of Christmas Eve. If dealing with a defibrillator to his chest wasn’t bad enough, complications from a shoulder injury resulted in his passing away at a hospital in Spain. STATUS QUO fans rockin’ all over the world will be mourning for some time to come; he certainly lived life to the full.
GREG LAKE, formerly of mighty prog-sters EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER (and KING CRIMSON), died of cancer on 7 December; he was 69 years old. Coming so soon after the tragic suicide in March of KEITH EMERSON, rock music had lost two legends.
The BUSINESS were an integral ingredient to the oi! movement of the early 80s (`Harry May’ one of its anthems), and it was sad news that lead singer Micky Fitz (b. Michael Fitzsimons) passed away on 1st December. He’d been diagnosed with cancer of the lymph gland around a year ago and underwent radiotherapy.
Aged only 44, drummer Craig Gill was in the prime of his life. Tragically, the INSPIRAL CARPETS musician died on 22 November 2016.
Sadly, just as the western world was coming to terms with the loss of legend LEONARD COHEN, Oklahoma’s best-loved singer-songwriter LEON RUSSELL passed to the other side on November 13, 2016. He’d recently recovered from bypass surgery after a heart attack and was scheduled to be touring in the new year. R.I.P.
Only a matter of weeks after releasing his profound “You Want It Darker” album, the great LEONARD COHEN passed to the other side on November 7. If there was ever another candidate for a Nobel Prize (literature or peace), then the prose and poetry of Mr. Cohen should be considered.
Eddie Harsch, former keyboard player of The BLACK CROWES (between 1991-2006), died on November 4, 2016. The Canadian had also been part of jam band Bulldog, as well as Detroit Cobras.
Formerly endorsed by the likes of STEVE EARLE and Andy Kershaw, Belfast’s ENERGY ORCHARD always seemed to be on the fringes of success in the early half of the 90s. Sadly, their frontman BAP KENNEDY died on 1 November 2016. Since his band split in 1996, the singer/songwriter released several solo albums; he was the older brother of Brian Kennedy.
Famous for early 60s hits such as `Rubber Ball’, `Take Good Care Of My Baby’ and `The Night Has A Thousand Eyes’, singer BOBBY VEE died on October 24; he was 73 and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
One of Liverpool’s finest showmen/spokesmen, Pete Burns, died (cardiac arrest) on 23rd October; he was 57. While his indie-dance act DEAD OR ALIVE had several hits at their peak in the mid-80s, no one will ever forget the glam grooves of chart-topper, `You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’, or, indeed, his lip-tastic appearances on Reality TV shows.
While many from outwith the shores and borders of Caledonia might not have heard of folk fiddler Angus R. Grant (ex-SWAMPTRASH, ex-SHOOGLENIFTY), many will be mourning the passing, on 9 October, of the man born in Fort William; he was only 49.
Author of `Boogie Nights’ and several other HEATWAVE hits of the 70s, Rod Temperton died of cancer on 5th October; he was four days short of his 67th birthday.
One half of SHELLEYAN ORPHAN, Caroline Crawley, died on 4 October; she’d been ill for some time.
Folk music pioneer, OSCAR BRAND, has died on September 30, at the grand old age of 96.
Birmingham hard-rock/metal act QUARTZ lost one of their former members, singer (from 1974-82) Mike “Taffy” Taylor, on 27 September; coincidentally, the band are just about to release a comeback album in October, entitled `Fear No Evil’.
Cajun, and indeed Zydeco purveyor, BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO (born Stanley Dural, Jr. on November 14, 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana) died of lung cancer on September 24.
One of the top country-pop songwriters of the 60s & 70s (most will recall `Tobacco Road’ and `Indian Reservation’), JOHN D. LOUDERMILK passed away on September 21, 2016; he was 82 and died of bone cancer.
For those of you who remember Denver rockers SUGARLOAF, and their US Top 3 smash `Green-Eyed Lady’ from 1970, then the passing (from Pick’s disease on September 16) of lead singer/keyboardist JERRY CORBETTA will constitute a sad time all around.
Godfather of ska, PRINCE BUSTER, has died in a Miami hospital on September 8, 2016; he was 78 and had suffered multiple strokes in recent times.
Fred Hellerman, long-time an integral part of folk activists, The WEAVERS, died in his home on September 1, 2016; he was 89.
Space Whisperer and MOTHER GONG poet/singer GILLI SMYTH passed away at her home in Byron Bay, Australia on 22 August 2016; she was 83. For the first half of the 70s, she was an integral cog in the wheel of Anglo-French “pot-headed pixies” GONG with her hubby DAEVID ALLEN, before they both left to raise a family and pursue careers in all sorts of weird and wonderful apparitions.
Not yet the global force, but very close, metalcore ARCHITECTS lost their main man Tom Searle. He died of cancer on August 20, 2016; he was only 28.
Formerly original member of molten-rockers 3 DOORS DOWN, lead guitarist Matt Roberts died of a drug overdose on August 20, 2016; he was only 38.
The folk revival threw out some great singers at the turn of the 60s, and one of their greatest was solo star GLENN YARBROUGH (also of The LIMELITERS), who sadly passed away (aged 86) on August 11, 2016, after several years with dementia.
CLANNAD’s Padraig Duggan passed away on 9th August 2016; he was 67. In his twilight years, he was also part of The Duggans.
Two of prog-rock’s understated musicians passed to the other side within days. As an original member of AUDIENCE (and later a STACKRIDGE signing), saxophonist/flautist Keith Gemmell died of throat cancer on 24 July, 2016. Two days later, stalwart frontman/guitarist Roye Albrighton (of NEKTAR) lost his long battle with illness.
Sadly, as reported on social media, ALAN VEGA (of electro-punk pioneers SUICIDE) passed to the other side on July 16, 2016; he was 78. Turn on and tune in to SUICIDE’s debut set of ’77 and the classic 45, `Dream Baby Dream’ (from 1979).
Fans of the alternative dance scene in the mid-80s will be mourning the passing on 13th July 2016 of Steven Young (aged only 53), multi-instrumentalist and co-songsmith (alongside brother Martyn) of the COLOURBOX and M/A/R/R/S alumni. “Pump Up The Volume” in Heaven, dude.
Known for his integral work as part of George Clinton’s PARLIAMENT and FUNKADELIC, keyboard wizard, BERNIE WORRELL died of lung cancer (aged 72) on June 24, 2016. Also a solo artist and seasoned session man, he performing with TALKING HEADS between 1983-84.
Northern Irish guitarist/songwriter HENRY McCULLOUGH passed away on 14 June 2016 (aged 72), having suffered a heart attack way back in November 2012. A journeyman among folk-rock, pop-rock outfits, Eire Apparent, Sweeney’s Men, The Grease Band, Spooky Tooth, Wings and The Frankie Miller Band, his talent will be sadly missed.
DAVE SWARBRICK, virtuoso violinist and folk worthy, died of emphysema on 3rd June 2016; he was 75.
Former drummer with MEGADETH (1990-98 + 2004), Nick Menza, died of heart failure on May 21, 2016; he was 51 and had been performing with his own OHM band in L.A.
When punk-rock/new wave was spreading into Europe in the late 70s, one of the top acts to emerge out of the pack were KLEENEX, an all-girl group from Switzerland. Due to objections from a certain brand of tissues they switched their moniker to LILIPUT, and continued into the 80s for Rough Trade Records.
Memories now flooding back to when `Ain’t You’, `You’ and `Split’ hit the indie charts, the death of their guitarist Marlene Marder (on 17th May 2016) was indeed sad news.
One of the truly great country-folk giants, GUY CLARK, died of cancer of May 17, 2016, aged 74. A Grammy winner as recent as 2014 (with album My Favorite Picture Of You), he’ll be up there now with life-long buddy TOWNES VAN ZANDT, and of course, wife Susanna, who also died of the cancer four years back.
Japanese exponent of the Plasma music synthesizer, (Isao) TOMITA, died of heart failure on May 5, 2016. He was 84. Although he recorded a plethora of classical-rock type albums over the years, he’ll be best remembered for his interpretation of Debussy’s `Snowflakes Are Dancing’, which hit the album charts in 1974, both in Britain and America.
BILLY PAUL, singer of the classic 70s sweet-soul number 1, `Me And Mrs. Jones’, passed away on April 24, 2016. Born Paul Williams on December 1, 1934, he epitomised the Philadelphia sound, but hits run dry after a good 1977 spell that included his interpretation of PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS, `Let ‘Em In.
Tragically, after being hospitalized the previous week after his plane was forced to make an emergency landing, the iconic legend PRINCE died of as yet undisclosed reasons at his Paisley Park home in Minneapolis on April 21, 2016. He was 57 and about to release “Phase Two” of the HITnRUN series of sets.
Born Lonnie McIntosh, July 18, 1941, Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana, LONNIE MACK kick-started his long career as a blue-eyed rockabilly/R&B guitar virtuoso; he subsequently shifted gear into Southern-fried country-gospel. A handful of instrumental hits in the mid-60s (including a version of CHUCK BERRY’s `Memphis’), the closest he got to album success was with the #103 peak of `The Wham Of That Memphis Man!’. He sessioned for the likes of JAMES BROWN, The DOORS and FREDDY KING, before being disillusioned with the music biz… until he made a blues-rock comeback in the mid-80s. Sadly, he died at his Nashville abode on April 21, 2016, his sullen limelight stolen this time by the death of PRINCE that same day!
American-born folk musician, PETE ZORN, died of cancer on April 19, 2016. He’ll be best remembered for his recent stints with STEELEYE SPAN, while years ago he was part of UK Top 10 act, Driver 67, one-hit-wonders with `Car 67′.
Not known to a vast majority of music fans from outside of the Scottish capital, punk-poet JOCK SCOT died on 13 April 2016. An acquired taste, the bingeing bard had worked with The NECTARINE No.9 and released two sets of his own: the loveable My Personal Culloden (1997) and The Caledonian Blues (2006); the latter with POP GROUP star Gareth Sager.
Sadly, one of the avant-garde greats of his generation, TONY CONRAD, died of prostate cancer on April 9, 2016 (aged 76). In the early 60s he was part of pre-VELVET UNDERGROUND outfit The Primitives, before forming his own “Dream Syndicate”. His claim to fame (albeit reluctantly) was his collaboration in 1972/3 with FAUST on Outside The Dream Syndicate. Born in Concord, New Hampshire (raised in Baltimore), an absence of leave was put aside in the 90s when Slapping Pythagoras reinstated his minimalist, drone agenda; he subsequently worked with the DEAD C and JIM O’ROURKE, respectively.
Country legend MERLE HAGGARD has died of pneumonia on his 79th birthday. A prolific songwriter from Bakersfield, California (`Okie From Muskogee’ one of his biggest hits in 1969), Merle was up there with the likes of JOHNNY CASH, WILLIE NELSON, HANK WILLIAMS et al.
ANDY NEWMAN, the piano player behind one-hit-wonders THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN, died on 30 March. `Something In The Air’ hit the top of the UK charts for 3 weeks in summer ’69, but after one LP the following year, they faded into obscurity; Andy released one album in 1972: `Rainbow’; he re-formed THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN in 2009 with new members, as original guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and singer/songwriter/drummer Speedy Keen, had long-since passed away.
One of prog-rock’s greatest purveyors of the keyboards, the once flamboyant gent KEITH EMERSON (ex-The NICE, ex-EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER) apparently committed suicide from a gunshot to the head on 10th March 2016; he was 71. Keith was also a solo artist with several movie scores to his name and recently combined with GREG LAKE once again on a “Live From Manticore Hall” set.
Legendary producers don’t come more legendary than “5th Beatle” Sir George Martin, who died 8 March, aged 90. Having worked with jazzman Humphrey Lyttleton, and on comedy records by Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and the like, the English gent’s greatest achievement was on “Sgt. Pepper”. He subsequently produced RINGO STARR, PAUL McCARTNEY and a plethora of stars from all walks of life and genres.
A member of EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND in the 70s and BUDGIE in the 70s, guitarist John Thomas was in his element under the spotlight of the metal scene; sadly he died on 3 March 2016, aged 63.
For those of you who remember SMITH (rather than The Smiths), it was sad news to hear that lead singer GAYLE McCORMICK passed away due to cancer on March 1; L.A.-based SMITH had a few hits at the turn of the 70s before Gayle ventured solo.
As punk splintered into a raft of factions in the late 70s, there were none truer than keeping the purist nature of the movement than anarcho acts CRASS and POISON GIRLS. Sadly, leader of the latter commune-based band for a decade or so, Vi Subversa (aka Frances Sokolov) died on 19 February 2016, aged 80 – yes, 80. Unlikely as it seemed at the time, as a mother of two in her 40s (to FATAL MICROBES Pete Fender and Gem Stone), campaigner/pro-feminist Vi and her POISON GIRLS will be best remembered for 1980’s bludgeoning punk song `Persons Unknown’ and a handful of LPs.
As sad as it is when a major rock/pop artist dies, it can be just as upsetting when young rising stars are tragically taken. This was certainly the case when indie faves VIOLA BEACH (Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin) and manager Craig Tarry, died tragically on 13th February when their vehicle plunged 80 feet off a highway bridge in Sodertalje (near Stockholm), Sweden. The lads from Warrington had just released the double-A side, `Boys That Sing’ (b/w `Like A Fool’), their follow-up to last year’s debut, `Swings & Waterslides’.
Known to many for his “bluegrass jazz” or “cowboy folk” (although he was hard to pigeonhole), the death of DAN HICKS of cancer on February 6 was sad news; he was 74. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, he’d been part of San Francisco’s CHARLATANS between 1965-68 (as a drummer), before branching out as a frontman with DAN HICKS & HIS HOT LICKS.
Fans of EARTH, WIND & FIRE will be mourning the passing of former leader Maurice White on February 3; he was 74 and had been long-since diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Since the early 70s, EW&F had been a driving force in creating their own blend of R&B, jazz-fusion-funk and disco, running up a string of unforgettable Top 10 hits from the chart-topping `Shining Star’, to `September’, `Boogie Wonderland’ (with The Emotions) and `After The Love Has Gone’.
PAUL KANTNER, aged 74, founder of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and JEFFERSON STARSHIP, died on January 28 of a heart attack brought on by multiple organ failure and septic shock. For true fans, probably an appropriate time to have a listen to `Have You Seen The Stars Tonite?’ (from 1970’s Blows Against The Empire). By coincidence, on the very same day, original ‘Airplane vocalist Signe Toly Anderson passed away.
His life cut short when he sustained fatal head injuries in a car crash, COLIN VEARNCOMBE (aka BLACK) died on 26 January 2016; he was 53. The Liverpool-born singer will be best remembered for BLACK’s mood-enhancing Top 10 single, `Wonderful Life’, an evergreen track from 1986/7 that popped up from time to time in TV ads, etc.
Veteran hard-rock bassist JIMMY BAIN (born Newtonmore, Highlands, Scotland) sadly passed away on 24 January 2016, aged 68. A journeyman who played in a raft of bands, his most notable period was his time spent with 70s/80s acts RAINBOW, WILD HORSES, PHIL LYNOTT, GARY MOORE, DIO, and others.
Former EAGLES singer/guitarist and solo star GLENN FREY died on January 18, 2016. Aged 67, after recuperating from surgery on his intestines, the coroner’s report put it down to ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis.
The passing of a pop-rock icon is hard to take for a music lover, but it’s harder still when it’s one of the all-time greats. Aged 69, quietly and bravely battling with cancer for many years, DAVID BOWIE died peacefully in his New York abode on 10 January 2016. With many reviewers still spinning his hot-off-the-press album, `Blackstar’ (released on his birthday on the 8th), no doubt the days, weeks, months and years to come will be spent listening, and contemplating, just how much this Man Who Fell To Earth shaped all of our lives. For over half a century, BOWIE led the music (and fashion) scene with his innovative and life-changing recordings, creating visionary characters such as Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, et al, only to reinvent himself many times over in order to expand the musical landscape. On a personal note, Martin C. Strong has lost a great friend.
Catch up on all his albums: Buy here/click here for BOWIE iTunes.
As the year came to a conclusion, it was sad to hear the passing of NATALIE COLE, soul-singer daughter of the legendary Nat `King’ Cole, who died on December 31, 2015. She will be best remembered for mid-70s Top 10 hits such as `This Will Be’ and `I’ve Got Love On My Mind’, plus also her “comeback” hits, `Pink Cadillac’ (penned by SPRINGSTEEN) and `Miss You Like Crazy’ (both late 80s).
The prophetic “live fast, die old” motto of MOTORHEAD legend LEMMY has sadly rang true, when, after being diagnosed with an extremely aggressive strain of cancer, he died two days later on 28 December at his home in Los Angeles. A more hard-working rocker you’ll never meet.
If the passing of RICO wasn’t enough for SPECIALS fans to take, further sadness came by way of the death of former drummer John Bradbury, who died, aged 62, on 28 December 2015.
Knowledgeable indie fans from the mid-late 80s will remember the weird and whacky STUMP, from which spiky-top lead singer Mick Lynch was an integral part. Sadly, with er… `Charlton Heston’ still echoing in our ears from yesteryear (as with the tracks `Ice The Levant’ and `Buffalo’), it was announced he passed away on 17 December 2015.
The world of rock was reeling in shock when the announcement of SCOTT WEILAND‘s death beamed through the media airwaves late on December 3, 2015. Due to appear on stage with The Wildabouts, he’d been found dead on the tour bus – a sad ending and another warning to the grim reaper effects of hard drugs. Scott was of course, frontman for STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and VELVET REVOLVER.
One of the great songwriters and stars of the 60s (and beyond), the author of `The Eve Of Destruction’, P.F. SLOAN died of pancreatic cancer on November 15, 2015. His greatest solo achievement was undoubtedly the 1965 minor smash, `The Sins Of A Family’ – written when he was 19 years old!
Although not a member of MOTORHEAD since leaving them in 1992 (for the second time), fans would still be mourning the passing of legendary sticksman Phil Taylor, who died after a long illness on 11 November 2015.
Purveyor of a fresh style of funky, jazzy R&B, all the way from New Orleans, ALLEN TOUSSAINT was one of the top names artists would flock to when in need of a songwriter, arranger, producer and piano player. The author of `Working In The Coal Mine’ and `Lady Marmalade’, it was sad to hear of his passing on November 10, 2015 – aged 77.
Sadly, folk-blues singer LEON BIBB (aged 93) passed away at his home in Vancouver, Canada, on October 23, 2015.
Tragically, long-time keyboard player/singer Carey Lander of Glasgow’s CAMERA OBSCURA died of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) on 11th October 2015, aged only 33; she’d been diagnosed with the disease in 2011, but raised over £50,000 for research and treatment for others in her wake.
For anybody able enough to donate money to the cause, please do so at:- www.bcrt.org.uk
Glasgow-born chart-topper JIM DIAMOND – famous for his worldwide hit in ’84 `I Should Have Known Better’ – passed away on 8th October 2015 (aged 64). A stoic and steadfast solo artist since his days as lead singer with Ph.D (`I Won’t Let You Down’ went Top 3 in 1982), the ubiquitous singer-songwriter had several other UK hits before fading from the limelight.
Sadly, the passing of trombone legend Rico Rodriguez, MBE (ex-SPECIALS) on 4 September 2015, after a brief illness, was probably not surprising given his age (80). A good innings all round and an ambassador for Jamaica and music in general.
National treasure CILLA BLACK passed away at her Marbella holiday home on 1 August 2015. Famous for hosting TV shows Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, `the Liverpool lass was responsible for a plethora of hits in the sixties, including chart-toppers `Anyone Who Had A Heart’ and `You’re My World’ (both in 1964).
Country singer LYNN ANDERSON – famous for transatlantic crossover hit `(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden’ – died of a heart attack in Nashville on July 30, 2015.
CLUSTER innovator DIETER MOEBIUS (who also worked with ENO, and as HARMONIA, alongside Michael Rother) died on 20 July 2015; he was 71. CLUSTER (Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius) were part of the kraut-rock movement, loved by many “rock” stars including JULIAN COPE.
Famous Austrian-born actor, Jewish folk singer and activist THEODORE BIKEL, died on July 20, 2015; he was aged 91.
“Fish Out Of Water” Chris Squire of YES sadly passed away (from acute erythroid leukemia) on 27 June 2015. A magical bassist from the prog-rock days.
80s Goth-rock fans will remember FLESH FOR LULU, who recently re-formed a few years back. Sadly, long-time leader of their flock, Nick Marsh, died of cancer of 5th June, aged 53.
Kentucky-born Appalachian folk artist JEAN RITCHIE died, aged 92, on June 1, 2015. She was one of the first signings to Jac Holzman’s Elektra Records in the early 50s and subsequently collaborated with OSCAR BRAND, DOC WATSON and her own Ritchie Family. Five days later (June 6), ex-WEAVERS folk activist Ronnie Gilbert died.
Bluesman B.B. KING passed away from diabetes complications on May 14, 2015; he was 89. From the late 40s! to his “Life Of Riley” documentary in 2012, B.B. was King of the Blues – a true master of his craft, whose spirit will live on through younger blues artists and fans all over the world.
ERROL BROWN, singer with 70s/80s pop act HOT CHOCOLATE, passed away from liver cancer at his Bahamas home on May 6th; he was 71. The London-based group had a plethora of Top 10 hits, including `Brother Louie’, `Emma’, `You Sexy Thing’ the No.1 `So You Win Again’ and `It Started With A Kiss’.
GUY CARAWAN, a folk-singer/folklorist from the 50s, passed away on May 2, 2015, aged 87.
If PERCY SLEDGE was a legend of soul music, then, so too was the great BEN E. KING, a singer famous for unforgettable 60s hits `Save The Last Dance For Me’ (as lead with The DRIFTERS), `Spanish Harlem’ and `Stand By Me’ (among many others). Sadly, aged 76, he died of coronary heart disease on April 30th.
PERCY SLEDGE, the R&B singer who had many hits in the latter half of the 60s, including one of the greatest soul songs and chart-toppers of all time, When A Man Loves A Woman, died of liver cancer on April 14, 2015. The man from Leighton, Alabama, also had three other US Top 20 hits: Warm And Tender Love, It Tears Me Up, and Take Time To Know Her.
One of folk music’s most enduring solo acts as well as being an integral part of folk-jazz supergroup PENTANGLE, the sad news that JOHN RENBOURN had died of a heart attack on 26 March (aged 70) was a shock to the system. For many years a classically-trained guitarist with a penchant for “Baroque-folk” and mostly any genre that took his fancy, he’ll also be remembered for his work with greats such as BERT JANSCH, DORRIS HENDERSON and STEFAN GROSSMAN.
Songwriter, keyboard player and preparatory leader of both The LEFT BANKE and STORIES respectively (before he left these bands to their own devices), MICHAEL BROWN had the Midas touch when it came to creating the perfect song. With mid-60s Baroque band The LEFT BANKE he penned Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina (both major hits in the States) and, for STORIES, he scribed chart-topper Brother Louie, a song that what would become synonymous with Brits HOT CHOCOLATE. Sadly, Michael passed away on March 19, 2015.
Known just as much as being the writer of All Right Now and Every Kinda People, the former FREE bassist ANDY FRASER died in his Californian home on March 16. A solo artist after leaving hard-rock giants FREE and the not-so-mighty SHARKS, Andy fought a long and tough battle with AIDS and Kaposi’s cancer.
TOTO man since joining his brothers Steve and Jeff late in 1982, bassist Mike Porcaro died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on March 15.
Fans of The SOFT MACHINE and GONG were mourning the death of former leader and guru DAEVID ALLEN who died on 13 March 2015. Born in Australia some 77 years ago, and duly becoming part of the Canterbury and Paris scenes at a time when flower-power blossomed into avant-garde and progressive rock, space-cadet Allen and his “Magick Brothers and Mystic Sisters” pact proved irresistible to the “Pot-Headed Pixies” and “Radio Gnomes” of Glastonbury and beyond. His music was indeed “Opium For The People”.
On the crest of another new wave of interest in 2013/24, long since his days as glitzy leader of VISAGE, Steve Strange died of heart failure on 12 February 2015 while in Egypt. A controversial character and known to almost everyone who’d fashioned themselves on the new romantic circuit around the turn of the 80s, Steve was the life and soul of any showbiz party. He’ll be best remembered for early 80s hits `Fade To Grey’, `Mind Of A Toy’ and `Visage’.
An unsung R&B solo star from the 60s/70s, DON COVAY (born Donald James Randolph, March 24, 1936, Orangeburg, South Carolina) died after having a stroke on January 31, 2015. A songwriter behind a raft of other people’s hits (most notably `Sookie Sookie’ for STEPPENWOLF), the singer fronted The Goodtimers (on modest hits `Mercy, Mercy’ and `Seesaw’), but will be best-remembered for his UK one-hit-wonder, `It’s Better To Have (And Don’t Need)’ – a true northern soul classic.
More in line with the pop industry of the mid-to-late 70s rather than the rock world (but don’t tell that to any APHRODITE’S CHILD prog-fan or there’ll be more than “Rain And Tears”), the passing of the mighty Demis Roussos on 25th January 2015 was sombre news. The housewives’ choice (as portrayed in the TV play Abigail’s Party), the Egyptian-born Greek will be remembered “Forever And Ever” for his cool kaftans – let’s hope he’ll “Happy To Be On An Island In The Sun” – or indeed, Heaven. Personally, on the other side of the religious spectrum (with VANGELIS in tow), APHRODITE’S CHILD left behind one of the greatest prog-rock double-albums of all time, `666′, showcasing the range of the then-streamline Demis.
Fans of the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT and CAMEL might be familiar with 70s solo pop/rock star CHRIS RAINBOW, who sang for the aforesaid prog acts from 1979’s `Eve’ and 1982’s `The Single Factor’ respectively. Sadly, Chris passed away on 25th January 2015. Born in Glasgow in 1946, the singer/songwriter would later find a modicum of fame as Isle of Skye-based producer of RUNRIG (between 1987 and 1993) and DONNIE MUNRO (in 2000).
Sadly, at the age of 70, continental prog-rock kingpin EDGAR FROESE died of a pulmonary embolism on 20th January 2015. Since the turn of the 70s, the guitarist had led ever-evolving “Kraut-rock” outfit TANGERINE DREAM; fans of the group still salivate over a consecutive triumvirate of mid-70s sets `Phaedra’, `Rubycon’ and `Ricochet’. Phase upon phase later, Germany’s most prolific and innovative combo issued over 100 albums; their final frontier underlined by 2014’s `Mala Kunia’.
While only psychedelic punks might know his name, Svengali KIM FOWLEY was an integral part of growing up in the 60s and 70s, having worked with FRANK ZAPPA and The RUNAWAYS respectively; the latter he managed, scribed, choreographed and produced until they split late in ’77. Sadly, aged 75, born and raised in L.A., the man on a mission died of bladder cancer on January 15, 2015. Most people forget that as a solo artist he released a raft of albums, including `Outrageous’ (recorded 1968), which just about summed up the life and times of this punk-rock icon.
It was a sad day on December 22, 2014 on hearing the death from cancer of the legendary blues/soul singer JOE COCKER. Aged 70 with a voice that could strip paint, he’ll be best remembered for some great interpretative songs such as With A Little Help From My Friends (stunning even authors Lennon & McCartney into silence) and Unchain My Heart (from his idol Ray Charles). Look out soon for a re-vamped biography of the man who’s no doubt up there where he belongs. MOTORHEAD