Now only one of Buddy Holly’s Crickets is still alive, following the death of John B. Mauldin this month. Buddy, of course, died the day the music died; guitarist Niki Sullivan in 2004. The last survivor is drummer Jerry Allison, now 75 years old. In 2012 the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame corrected a huge clanger which they had dropped in 1986 when they inducted Buddy Holly but not the other Crickets; by special committee decision Allison (who, after all, co-wrote hits like Peggy Sue and That’ll Be The Day), Mauldin and Sullivan were included, as was Holly successor Sonny Curtis. Alas, Mauldin was too ill to attend. After the Crickets, Mauldin worked as an engineer in LA’s Gold Star studios, where Phil Spector made all those great records.
The curse of AMDWHAH struck again: one moment I was playing music by Visage, in preparation for the Life in Vinyl 1981 post, next moment Steve Strange, the frontman of Visage, was dead, of a heart attack at only 55. Strange, who was born Steven John Harrington, was a pioneer in the New Romantic movement which would shape 1980s pop music, especially in Britain. Before he donned the make-up, he was active in the punk scene, booking The Sex Pistols’ first gig in his native Wales, and playing in a punk band, The Moors Murderers, that also included Chrissie Hynde, future Psychedelic Furs drummer Vince Ely, and future Clash drummer Topper Headon. Before his breakthrough with Visage, Strange and fellow Visage member Rusty Egan ran the legendary Blitz club in London’s Covent Garden, the cradle of the nascent New Romantic movement.
In early December, all members of the classic four-member line-up of The Manhattans were alive. With the deaths of two members in December and now that of Kenny ‘Wally’ Kelley, only lead singer Gerald Alston is still alive. The other two founding members of the group are also dead, George ‘Smitty’ Smith, whom Alston replaced, died 1970, Richard Taylor, who left in 1976, in 1987. Kelley left The Manhattans in 1990 to pursue his Ph.D. studies. He became a high school biology teacher.
The obituaries for Lesley Gore tended to focus on her string of classic 1960s hits, from It’s My Party to You Don’t Own Me to Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. But what is also noteworthy is Gore’s activism for the LBGT community, among which she counted herself, including hosting a TV show aimed at LBGT communities. Gore received an Oscar nomination as co-composer, with her brother Michael, of the ballad Out Here on My Own from the film Fame.
Clark Terry, the trumpeter and flugelhornist who has died at the age of 94, is said to be one of the most recorded jazz artists of all time. After serving in a US Navy band during World War 2, he played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948–1951), Duke Ellington (1951–1959), Quincy Jones (1960) and Oscar Peterson (1964-1996). Giants like Miles Davis and Quincy Jones have acknowledged his influence. And when he wasn’t blowing his trumpet, Terry was known for his scat singing, especially as a member of the Tonight Show house band in the 1960s, which led to a hit record with Oscar Peterson titled after his nickname, Mumbles. He played for eight US presidents and received many awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
Another great session musician went with keyboardist Bobby Emmons. You’ll have heard him on many recordings from Memphis’ American Studios, including Elvis’ Suspicious Minds, In The Ghetto and Kentucky Rain, Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and B.J. Thomas’; Hooked On A Feeling. He backed musicians like Bobby Womack, Waylon Jennings (for whom he wrote the hit Luckenbach, Texas), Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, Joe Tex, Dionne Warwick, Roy Orbison, Willie Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, Billy Swan, J.J. Cale, Crystal Gayle, Willie Nelson, George Strait, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Highwaymen, Shirley Caesar and many more.
The most shocking death of the month probably was that of Charmayne ‘Maxee’ Maxwell, a member of 1990s soul trio Brownstone, whose 1994 hit If You Love Me is one of my favourites in the genre of that decade. Her death at 46 is shocking because of its freakishness: apparently she cut her throat with a wine glass after accidentally falling down a flight of stairs. This being the age of the Internet and Twitter idiocy, a rumour quickly made the rounds Maxwell died as a result of suicide. Where is the decency and compassion in spreading such rumours? And who would believe that anyone would kill themselves by such a method?
Only the most devoted Motown fans will have known the name Marlene Judy Barrow-Tate, who has died at 73. More probably knew of the Motown backing band The Andantes. But everybody will have heard the voices of Barrow and co-Andantes Louvain Demps and Jacqueline Hicks. It was them, not the other Supremes, who sang with Diana Ross on Someday We’ll Be Together. And they sang on a galaxy of Motown classics. To keep things short, here are just some of them: My Guy, Jimmy Mack, Love Child, Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), I’ll Be Doggone, Ain’t That Peculiar, Too Busy Thinking About My Baby and That’s The Way Love, as well as The Four Tops’ hits Reach Out, I’ll Be There, I Can’t Help Myself, Baby I Need Your Loving, It’s the Same Old Song, Bernadette, and Standing In The Shadow Of Love. They also appeared on non-Motown hits such as Jackie Wilson’s Higher And Higher and The Dells’ Stay In My Corner, and released a few singles under their own name. Listen to the backing-vocals-only version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
Anita Darian was a much admired soprano in the fields of opera, on stage in musicals and even in jazz. But most of us know little of that. Almost all of us, however, will know her voice from a hit record that didn’t even credit her: Darian’s soprano provides the high-pitched counter-melody in the saxophone solo of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Tokens’ bowdlerised version of Solomon Linda’s South African classic Mbube.
In South African pop, Zayne Adams was for a time a superstar, as the singer with the jazz-funk-soul outfit Pacific Express in the late 1970s and as a solo artist in the 1980s. He gigged till the end of his 67 years, whenever gigs would come his way, which was not always. This monyth he weas supposed t be appear at the famous jazz festival in Cape Town, for the first time, but death killed that dream. While he even played in Australia in his latter years — the South African expat community is big there — show business, the only business he knew, could not afford him a good living. At one point he was broke and homeless; eventually he died a man without means. And the life and death of Zayne Adams, a man few readers of this blog would know, raises a universal question: how well do your communities take care of their musicians, their writers and poets, their playwrights, their painters and sculptors, and all those who enrich through their art?
Danny McCulloch, 69, bassist of Eric Burdon & The Animals, on Jan. 29
Eric Burdon and the New Animals – When I Was Young (1967)
Anita Darian, 87, soprano, on Feb. 1
The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight (1961)
The Jacka, 37, rapper, shot dead on Feb. 2
Zane Musa, 36, saxophonist of The Nikhil Korula Band, on Feb. 2
Nikhil Korula Band – Stay For A While (2007)
Mary Healy, 96, actress and singer, on Feb. 3
William Thomas McKinley, 76, jazz composer, on Feb. 3
Celina González, 85, Cuban singer and songwriter, on Feb. 4
Joe B. Mauldin, 74, bassist of The Crickets, recording engineer, on Feb. 7
Buddy Holly – Well…All Right (1958, also as co-writer)
Martin O’Connor, 36, drummer of country group Declan Nerny Band, in a hit & run on Feb. 7
Mosie Lister, 93, gospel singer-songwriter, original member of Statesmen Quartet, on Feb. 12
Elvis Presley – Where No One Stands Alone (1967, as writer)
Steve Strange, 55, Welsh New Wave musician (Visage), on Feb. 12
Visage – Visage (1981)
Visage – Lost In Static (2013)
Sam Andrew, 73, guitarist of Big Brother and the Holding Company, on Feb. 12
Big Brother & the Holding Company – Combination Of The Two (1968)
Richie Pratt, 71, jazz drummer, on Feb. 12
Louis Jourdan, 93, French actor and singer, on Feb. 14
Louis Jourdan – Gigi (1958)
Hulon Crayton, 58, smooth jazz saxophonist, on Feb. 14
Hulon – Sax Machine (2010)
Sergio Blanco, 66, singer with Spanish duo Sergio y Estíbaliz, on Feb. 15
Melvan Whittington, rock guitarist, on Feb. 15-16
Love – Time Is Like A River (1974, on guitar)
Lesley Gore, 68, pop singer, on Feb. 16
Lesley Gore – Maybe I Know (1964)
Lesley Gore – Coca Cola commercial (1967)
Gavin Clark, British folk singer-songwriter (Clayhill, Unkle), on Feb. 16
Kenneth ‘Wally’ Kelley, 72, founding member of The Manhattans, on Feb. 17
The Manhattans – The Day The Robin Sang To Me (1973, also as writer)
Dave Cloud, 58, rock musician, on Feb. 18
Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power – You Don’t Need Sex (2008)
Mats Olausson, 54, Swedish keyboard player with Yngwie Malmsteen, on Feb. 18
Gérard Calvi, 92, French film score composer, on Feb. 20
Gérard Calvi – Theme d’Asterix le Gauloise (1968)
Francisco ‘Paco’ Carreno, 49, drummer of punk bands Conflict and Inner Terrestrials, on Feb. 20
Clark Terry, 94, jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist, on Feb. 21
Count Basie Orchestra – Blee Blop Blues (1949, on trumpet)
Dinah Washington – My Song (1952, on trumpet)
Oscar Peterson Trio and Clark Terry – Mumbles (1964)
Zayne Adams, 67, South African soul and jazz singer, on Feb. 22
Pacific Express – Give A Little Love (1978)
Bobby Emmons, 72, keyboardist and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Bobby Womack – Moonlight In Vermont (1968, on organ)
John Prine – Angel From Montgomery (1971, on organ)
The Crusaders – Luckenbach, Texas (1980, as co-writer)
Marlene Judy Barrow-Tate, 73, member of Motown backing singer band The Andantes, on Feb. 23
The Andantes – Like A Nightmare (1964)
Mary Wells – My Guy (1964)
Jackie Wilson – (Your Love Is Lifting Me) Higher And Higher (1968)
Robert Belfour, 74, American blues musician, on Feb. 24
Chris Rainbow, 68, Scottish singer (The Alan Parsons Project), on Feb. 25
Chris Rainbow – Give Me What I Cry For (1978)
Leonard Nimoy, 83, actor, director and singer, on Feb. 27
Leonard Nimoy – Highly Illogical (1968)
Leonard Nimoy – I Walk The Line (1969)
Charmayne ‘Maxee’ Maxwell, 46, singer with R&B trio Brownstone, in a fall on Feb. 27
Brownstone – If You Love Me (1994)
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