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In Memoriam – January 2012

February 3rd, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last month I announced the end of the In Memoriam column. The reaction, by comments and messages via email and Facebook, surprised me. I had been under the impression, acquired by the few comments they received and the very average hits recorded, that the feature was only mildly popular (which serves to stress the importance to comment on posts in features you enjoy).

The labour required for the In Memoriam feature remains prohibitive, but by cutting out what really took a lot of time – researching and collating the music and pictures – I can still provide a list, and at least some tunes, of the month’s music deaths.

The headline death of the month was that of Etta James on January 20, just three days after the death of the man who discovered her, R&B legend Johnny Otis. The father of Shuggie Otis, Johnny Otis was the son of Greek immigrants to the US (his real name was Ioannis Alexandros Veliotes) who decided to live and work in the black community. Along the way Otis produced Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog, and discovered artists such as Esther Philips, Jackie Wilson and Hank Ballard.

January 17 was a sad day indeed for soul fans – much of the month was (and the passing of Don Cornelius on Wednesday didn’t lighten things up much). On the same day Johnny Otis went, a day after Jimmy Castor’s departure, Leroy Taylor of New Birth and Walter Gaines of The Originals (you might remember their Baby I’m For Real on Motown) passed away.

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Robert Dickey, 72, Bobby of James & Bobby Purify, on December 29
James & Bobby Purify – I’m Your Puppet (1966)

Fred Milano, 72, singer with Dion and The Belmonts, on January 1
Dion and the Belmonts – A Teenager in Love (1959, as backing singer)

Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt, 63, guitarist with Iron Butterfly and Captain Beyond, on January 2

Ian Bargh, 76, Canadian jazz pianist, on January 2

Bob Weston, 64, briefly guitarist with Fleetwood Mac, found on January 3

Kerry McGregor, 37, British singer and X-Factor contestant, on January 4

Tom Ardolino, 56, drummer of rock band NRBQ, on January 6
NRBQ – Boys In The City (1972)

Nicole Bogner, 27, singer of Austrian metal band Visions of Atlantis, on January 6

Dave Alexander, 73, blues singer and pianist, suicide on January 8

Bridie Gallagher, 87, Irish singer, on January 9

Ruth Fernandez, 92, pioneering Puerto Rican singer, on January 9

Ernie Carson, 74, Dixieland jazz musician, on January 9

Cliff Portwood, 74, English-born Australian singer and former professional football player, on January 10

Edgar Kaiser Jr, 69, soft-rock singer, on January 11

Charlie Collins, 78, member of Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, on January 12

Phil Kraus, 94, jazz percussionist and drummer, on January 13
Sarah Vaughan – Street Of Dreams (1949, as drummer)

Robbie France, 52, drummer (Skunk Anansie, Diamond Head, UFO, Ellis, Beggs, & Howard), on January 14
Skunk Anansie – Weak (1994, as writer and drummer)

Pee Wee Moultrie, 89, member of Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys, on January 15

Terry Dolan, 68, singer and guitarist of 1960s folk-rock group Terry & the Pirates, on January 15

Jimmy Castor, 71, R&B and funk saxophonist, on January 16
Jimmy Castor Bunch – Troglodyte (Cave Man) (1972)
Jimmy Castor Bunch – Bertha Butt Boogie (1975)

Johnny Otis, 90, R&B singer, songwriter and producer, on January 17
Johnny Otis – Willy And Hand Jive (1958)
Etta James – The Wallflowerr (a.k.a. Roll With Me Henry) (1955, as producer and co-writer)

Leroy Taylor, 67, funk bassist of funk-soul group New Birth, on January 17
The New Birth – Brand New Lover (1970)

Walter Gaines, founder and baritone of soul group The Originals, on January 17
The Originals – Why When Love Is Gone (1969)

Al Urban, 77, rockabilly singer and songwriter, on January 18

Winston Riley, 65, Jamaican reggae musician and producer, on January 19

Etta James, 73, R&B and blues legend, on January 20
Etta James – Stop The Wedding (1962)
Etta James – Don’t Go To Strangers (1995)

Larry Butler, 69, country music producer, songwriter and musician, on January 20
B. J. Thomas – Hey Won’t You Play Another Done Somebody Wrong Song (1975, as co-writer)

John Levy, 99, jazz double-bassist and manager (Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley,  Ramsey Lewis a.o.), on January 20
Don Byas & Big Bill Broonzy – You Go To My Head (1945, as bassist)

Dick Kniss, 74, bassist for Peter, Paul and Mary,  John Denver a.o., on January 25
John Denver – Sunshine On My Shoulder (1971, as co-writer)

Mark Reale, 56, founder and guitarist of heavy metal group Riot, on January 25

Clare Fischer, 83, jazz and pop composer, arranger and keyboardist, on January 26

Todd Buffa, 59, singer of jazz group Rare Silk, on January 27
Rare Silk – New York Afternoon (1983)

Leslie Carter, 25, pop singer and sister of Nick and Aaron Carter, on January 31

King Stitt, 71, Jamaican ska singer, on January 31

Mike Kelley, 57, artist and musician with cult rock band Destroy All Monsters, suicide on January 31

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  1. The Rumblecat
    February 3rd, 2012 at 12:45 | #1

    Thank you so much for changing your mind. Though it was a nice service to offer tunes for everybody mentioned, it has been never as neccessary as ***the information itself***. Many of our heroes are in their 70s, and not everybody has the genes of Johannes Heesters who couldn’t stop singing until The Reaper got him on Christmas Eve 2011 – when he was 108…!
    So it is possible there will be a lot of almost forgotten music people who will be knocking on heaven’s door without making the news. And that’s exactly why we need you. There’s nothing similar in the whole web, and in my eyes, you are a hero. Thank you!

  2. Pete Reilly
    February 3rd, 2012 at 14:16 | #2

    Hi Dude, Just to add my support to this great feature of yours which I tune in to regularly. It reminds me of how short and precious life is, as well as remembering the contributions made by many fine acts to the musical world we enjoy.

    In Memoriam also informs me of people’s passing that I may not have heard about so thank you for your significant work here.

    All the best, Pete

  3. February 3rd, 2012 at 15:04 | #3

    Let me add my thanks. I’ve come to rely on your monthly rundown; obviously, I hear/read of many who pass, but each of your lists fills in the gaps (and those gaps are sometimes large). Thanks again!

  4. J. Loslo
    February 3rd, 2012 at 16:17 | #4

    Thanks for these. Entertaining and informative as always.

    As for Shuggie Otis, Wikipedia would have us believe he is still alive. Is that not the case?

  5. Neil
    February 3rd, 2012 at 19:03 | #5

    Ditto on Shuggie – it was my understanding that he was active in the Bay Area.

  6. February 3rd, 2012 at 19:29 | #6

    Hello Major Dude! Glad you decided to keep In Memorium. While I enjoyed seeeing the pictures of the dearly departed the information is more important. Keep up the great work!!

  7. Rhod
    February 3rd, 2012 at 21:39 | #7

    Your work in getting the Ïn Memorium”series together is no mean feat and I am sure it is appreciated by all who visit your informative and entertaining site. Great work.

    Regards

    Rhod

  8. Auntie Knickers
    February 6th, 2012 at 19:52 | #8

    Let me add my thanks. As another reader said, the listing is the most important part — with that we can do our own research on the musicians who most interest us.

  9. Ravel
    February 9th, 2012 at 04:01 | #9

    Informative & entertaining. I am always looking forward to read this every month.

  10. February 12th, 2012 at 03:28 | #10

    Yeah, good decision to keep it. I always peruse the list with a morbid curiosity, like my mom does with the obituary pages before she calls me to tell me who in my local town died that week. Occasionally I’ll see a name that I recall whose death didn’t make the headlines. So sad.

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