Home > In Memoriam > In Memoriam – March 2016

In Memoriam – March 2016

After a little respite in February, the Grim Reaper was very busy in March. Sadly, a full third of the 42 listed deaths were of people under the age of 60.

IM0316-gallery1Everything important has been said of George Martin, who has died at 90. It might merit emphasising that Martin was to The Beatles as a good professor is to the student whom he (or, indeed, she) guides from freshman  to doctorate. At first he was instructive, exercising his authority to have Pete Best dismissed; though The Beatles rightly baulked at his insistence that they should release How Do You Do It, a song they didn’t write, as a single. They did record it (halfheartedly, as we can hear on the featured track), but it instead became a UK #1 for Gerry and the Pacemakers—and was knocked off the top spot by the much bigger Beatles hit, From Me To You. From being the teacher figure Martin grew to be the facilitator and guide in the group’s rapid development from very good pop combo to genius innovators. Without Martin, the story of The Beatles, and that of pop music, might have been quite different.

George Martin will always be associated with The Beatles, of course, but he had his hand in many other pop classics. He produced a string of 1960s hits for the other Liverpudlian legends, Gerry & the Pacemakers and Cilla Black, as well as for Matt Munro and Billy J. Kramer. Later he produced such hits as Wings’ Live And Let Die, America’s Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man and Lonely People, Little River Band’s The Night Owls, Kenny Rogers’ Morning Desire, as well as many 1980s McCartney tracks (Say Say Say, Ebony and Ivory, No More Lonely Nights, Pipes Of Peace, We All Stand Together etc). Others whom he produced included Jeff Beck, Shirley Bassey, Stan Getz, Cleo Laine, Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb, Cheap Trick, Billy Preston, Mahavishnu Orchestra, José Carreras, Celine Dion, and Kate Bush. Alas, he was also co-responsible for that mawkish abomination that was Elton John’s Candle In The Wind 1997.

In the early 1990s, before hip hop became dominated by blinging, car-bouncing, Hennessy-quaffing, cap-in-yo-ass-bustin’ gangsta misogyny (at least at its platinum-selling levels), rappers had success talking about actual social issues, carrying the mantle of Gil Scott-Heron. One such group was A Tribe Called Quest, whose “Five Foot Assassin”, Phyfe Dawg, has died at 45 from complications relating to diabetes, which had previously required two kidney transplants.  With acts like De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest exercised a profound influence on hip hop artists like Common, The Roots and, when he does have something to say that isn’t mad or self-aggrandising, Kanye West.

You’ll probably know Thunderclap Newman’s 1969 hit Something In The Air, a call for revolution when that ship had already sailed. But do you remember that glorious piano break that kicks in at 2:00 minutes and goes on for close to a minute. That was played by Andy Newman, who has died at 73. It was his nickname and surname that gave the band its name after it was founded as a side project by The Who’s Pete Townshend (who under a pseudonym played bass on that mega hit). Townshend’s game was kindness: he wanted to give Newman and singer-guitarist Speedy Keen a showcase for their talents. Also in the band was Jimmy McCulloch, who went on to join Paul McCartney’s Wings before his death in 1979. Keen died in 2002. Besides the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Thunderclap Newman is the only classic ‘60s rock act I can think of whose official line-up is now all dead.  Thunderclap Newman recorded one album; Newman released a solo album in 1971.

Children of famous people have it easier to get through a door than random hopefuls, but few manage to emulate the success of their famous parent. So it was with Frank Sinatra Jr, who has died suddenly at 72. There is no doubt that Frank Jr had talent, but if you are going to have as Sinatra, you’ll go for Senior, or older sister Nancy, who followed her own musical path. Frank Jr acquired some fame by being a victim of a kidnapping in December 1963 (Frank Sr paid up to have his son released).

IM0316-gallery2Another pioneer of the Outlaw movement in country music — the sub-genre that counted among its heroes the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr, Kris Kristofferson and Tompall Glaser — has fallen in the form of Steve Young, who is probably best known as the writer and original performer of the Eagles hit Seven Bridges Road. He also wrote and first performed the Waylon Jennings hit Lonesome On’ry and Mean and Montgomery In the Rain by Hank Williams Jr.

If you played at the age of 18 with Gene Krupa, you probably had some talent. Jazz trumpeter and later bandleader Joe Cabot made his mark with Krupa in 1939. He went on to play in the orchestras of people like Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, and played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz and his close friend Harry James. He backed artists such as Bobby Darrin (including on Mack The Knife and Beyond The Sea), Anita O’Day, Tony Bennett, Ruth Brown, Chris Connor and Eartha Kitt. (Alas, I could find no photo of the man.)

Patty Duke is obviously remembered as an actress of some skill who as a teenager won an Oscar for The Miracle Worker and later played identical twins on the TV sitcom named after her (I could never understand how TV execs expected viewers to suspend disbelief when they titled sitcoms after the lead actor, but obviously the ploy worked). What is not widely known is that Duke released four LPs in the mid-1960s, charting in the US with Don’t Just Stand There” (#8) and Say Something Funny (#22). In 1982 Duke was diagnosed as a bipolar depressive, and went on to become an activist around mental health issues — an matter that still needs further activism.

Every suicide is a tragedy; most of them are the result of an illness. Much as people die involuntarily of cancer, some people die involuntarily of mental illness. So, while it is shocking when a famous person, especially a rock legend, “commits” suicide, we should not state our head-shaking disbelief but use that as an occasion to understand the nature of mental illness and suicide, and to raise awareness about it in order to destigmatise it. Apparently Keith Emerson’s suicide was triggered by depression, brought on by health concerns and exacerbated by alcohol. May he be at rest now. In the meantime we remember Emerson as a supremely talented and influential keyboardist, and by all accounts a very nice man. Emerson, Lake & Palmer were hate figures for the prog-rock hating punks, led by the polemic of Johnny Rotten, who’d single out EPL for his spleen-venting. Later Emerson and John Lydon (the erstwhile Rotten) became neighbours in Hollywood — and good friends.

 graveyard at night

Gayle McCormick, 67, singer of blues-rock band Smith, on March 1
Smith – Baby, It’s You (1969, on lead vocals)

John Thomas, 63, guitarist with Welsh hard rock band Budgie, on March 3
Budgie – I Turned To Stone (1981, also as co-writer)

Brian Gallagher, 52, multi-instrumentalist with Greazy Meal and Prince, on March 3
Enthusiastic invoker of DMCA – Sexy MF (1990, on guitar)

Joey Feek, 40, singer with country duo Joey + Rory, on March 4
Joey + Rory – To Say Goodbye (2008)

Bankroll Fresh, 28, rapper, shot on March 4

Aaron Huffman, 43, bassist with rock band Harvey Danger, on March 6
Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta (1997)

Timothy Makaya, 67, Nigerian jazz guitarist, on March 7

Joe Cabot, 94, jazz musician and band leader, on March 7
Bobby Darin – Beyond The Sea (1959, on trumpet)
Chris Connor – Come Rain Or Come Shine (1959, on trumpet)

Bruce Geduldig, 63, experimental synth musician and filmmaker, on March 7

George Martin, 90, English record producer, composer, arranger and engineer, on March 8
Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren – Goodness Gracious Me (1960)
The Beatles – How Do You Do It (1963)
David & Jonathan – Softly Whispering I Love You (1967)
America – Sister Golden Hair (1975)
Ultravox – Hymn (1983)
Hayley Westenra – Beat Of Your Heart (2003)

Ross Hannaford, 65, guitarist of Australian rock band Daddy Cool, on March 8
Daddy Cool – Eagle Rock (1971)

Andrew Loomis, 54, drummer of rock band Dead Moon, on March 8
Dead Moon – Black September (1989)

Naná Vasconcelos, 71, Brazilian jazz percussionist and singer, on March 9
Talking Heads – Perfect World (1985, on water drum)
Naná Vasconcelos – Futebol (2002)

Léon Francioli, 69, Swiss jazz bassist, on March 9

Ray Griff, 75, Canadian country singer and songwriter, on March 9
George Hamilton IV – Canadian Pacific (1969, as writer)

Jon English, 66, English-born Australian singer and actor, on March 9

Keith Emerson, 71, English rock keyboardist (The Nice; Emerson, Lake & Palmer), of suicide on March 10
The Nice – Diary Of An Empty Day (1969)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man (1974)

Gogi Grant, 91, pop and musicals singer, on March 10
Gogi Grant – The Wayward Wind (1956)

Ernestine Anderson, 87, American jazz singer, on March 10
Ernestine Anderson – Welcome To The Club (1959)

Louis Meyers, 60, co-founder of South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, on March 11

Shawn Elliott, 79, singer and actor, on March 11
Shawn Elliott – Shame And Scandal In The Family (1965)

Joe Ascione, 54, jazz drummer, on March 11

Tommy Brown, 84, R&B singer, on March 12
The Griffin Brothers Orchestra feat. Tommy Brown – Tra-La-La (1951)

Conor Walsh, 36, Irish indie pianist and composer, on March 12

Daryl Coley, 60, gospel singer, on March 15
Vanessa Bell Armstrong & Daryl Coley – Comfort Ye My People (1992)

Ryo Fukui, 67, Japanese jazz pianist, on March 15

Frank Sinatra Jr., 72, singer and actor, on March 15
Frank Sinatra Jr. – Shadows On A Foggy Day (1967)

Lee Andrews, 79, doo-wop singer, on March 16
Lee Andrews & The Hearts – Try The Impossible (1958)

Steve Young, 73, country singer–songwriter, on March 17
Steve Young – Seven Bridges Road (1969)

David Egan, 61, Cajun rock musician, on March 18
David Egan – Bourbon In My Cup (2008)

Scabs, 41, drummer with punk outfit Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13, on March 19

Phife Dawg, 45, member of hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, on March 22
A Tribe Called Quest – Oh My God (1994)

James Jamerson Jr, 58, session bass player, member of funk band Chanson, on March 23
Chanson – Don’t Hold Back (1978)
The Crusaders – Carnival Of The Night (1979, on bass)

Jimmy Riley, 61, Jamaican reggae singer, on March 23
The Sensations – Everyday Is Like A Holiday (1969)

Roger Cicero, 45, German jazz and pop singer, on March 24
Roger Cicero – Schieß mich doch zum Mond (2006)

Peter Andreoli (Anders), 74, doo wop singer, songwriter, producer, on March 24
The Videls – Mr Lonely (1960)
The Ronettes – The Best Part Of Breaking Up (1964, as co-writer)

Joe Skyward, 57, bassist with Sunny Day Real Estate, The Posies, on March 26

Ross Shapiro, singer-guitarist of Indie band The Glands, announced on March 26
The Glands – Livin’ Was Easy (2000)

David Baker, 84, jazz musician, composer and academic, on March 26

Patty Duke, 69, American actress and singer, on March 29
Patty Duke – Don’t Just Stand There (1965)

Andy Newman, 73, pianist of British band Thunderclap Newman, announced on March 30
Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air (1969)

Larry Payton, drummer of funk group Brass Construction, announced on March 30
Brass Construction – Changin’ (1975)

GET IT! (PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    April 4th, 2016 at 06:43 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. JohnnyDiego
    April 4th, 2016 at 12:45 | #2

    How do I say this without sounding insensitive? It was a full month. Thank you for your work keeping up with the obituaries. I was surprised at hearing of the deaths of Lee Andrews and Gogi Grant. Andrews’ work with The Hearts is still some of my favorite doo-wop and Gogi Grant’s version of The Wayward Wind has been covered so many times that I was compelled to scour YouTube and make my own swarm of that song. Some of these artists were a part of my youth and some, if not most, I’ve never heard of, as is usual. I can’t name anyone of my generation who doesn’t know the opening theme to The Patty Duke show. And Joe Cabot was older than my parents. But Gene Krupa was a Sunday staple in our home. I do own Thunderclap Newman’s album but was unaware of any members deaths until today. Something In The Air is still an all time classic.
    Thank you again, Dude, for all the work you do in bringing us this memorium each month. It can’t be easy and it must be sad.

  3. J. Loslo
    April 5th, 2016 at 04:16 | #3

    Thanks for these.

    Daddy Cool is one of my favorite bands, and if you’re simply looking for something that will put a smile on your face, you can’t go wrong with Daddy Cool. Eagle Rock is probably their most famous song, in part because of the Australian tradition of dropping trou and shuffling around with your pants around your ankles if it happens to come on the jukebox while you’re in a bar (no, really), I don’t think it’s their best. I’m partial to Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac, Bom Bom, and their cover of Cherrie Pie. People who like good time rock & roll with just the slightest hint of Zappa should check them out.

  4. dogbreath
    April 5th, 2016 at 15:46 | #4

    Been a bad start to the year for musicians I’ve known from teen years onwards – a sign of advancing years all round – and now this month losing Sir George Martin’s genius, JT from Budgie, the “E” from ELP and the Newman from Thunderclap Newman. Fortunately their musical legacy lives on in their respective bodies of work and on my cd players. Thanks as usual for putting it all together.

  5. Rhod
    April 8th, 2016 at 23:58 | #5

    Thanks Amd

    I agree with J.Loslo Daddy Cool were such a change in direction when they first hit the scene. The album Daddy Cool is a classic.

    Regards

    Rhod

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