Home > In Memoriam > In Memoriam – July 2017

In Memoriam – July 2017

August 3rd, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just two months after the death by hanging of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, his friend Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, took his life by the same method. Reportedly, Bennington had been suicidal for a while, for reasons relating to sexual abuse he suffered as a child (his abuser was a victim himself, so Bennington, evidently a man of extraordinary empathy, declined to press charges). He had apparently taken Cornell’s death badly, and had a history of battling with alcohol addiction. He leaves six children from two marriages. An awful story in every respect. What strikes me is the number of young people with depression issues who have testified that Bennington verbalised what they could not articulate.

The man who signed Barbra Streisand and Sly and the Family Stone prepared for his imminent death by posing on Facebook with his specially designed coffin. David Kapralik, who reached the age of 91, saw the young Babs on a TV show in 1962 and convinced Columbia head Goddard Lieberson to see her in concert — as she was supporting a comedian. Within three months Streisand released her debut LP. A few years later, Kapralik saw Sly Stone and his racially diverse group in a San Francisco a club, and became their manager, signing them to Epic. In between, he produced various acts, most notably Peaches & Herb (as well as the original Peaches — Francine Baker — when she went solo) and the legendary drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, as well as more novelty-type records by Bette Davis and Cassius Clay. And along the way, he helped Tommy Mottola on his path to becoming a legendary music executive. Kapralik retired in the 1970s to become a children’s musician and selling organic produce from his farm.

Canadian soul singer Bobby Taylor enjoyed a few minor hits, but his headlining legacy is as the man who discovered the Jackson 5. Taylor and his band, The Vancouvers, had themselves been discovered by The Supremes. The band was previously known, charmingly, as Four Niggers and a Chink — the Asian component being Tommy Chong (later Cheech’s stoner sidekick) who was half-Chinese, half-Scottish. It was in 1969 when the Vancouvers played in Chicago that Taylor was so impressed by the supporting act, the Jackson children. He personally took them to Detroit and introduced them to a doubtless grateful Motown. The label also signed Taylor and his group, but their two singles flopped and things fell apart over internal disputes. One of the songs they recorded but didn’t get released, the Marvin Gaye composition The Bells I Hear, ended up being chopped into two bits, both successful songs for The Originals: Baby I’m For Real and The Bells. Taylor auditioned for David Ruffin’s spot in the Temptations, but didn’t get that gig. His solo singles, though good, did little business.

Elvis in the end wished him death, but Red West outlived his old friend and bodyguard by a month short of 40 years. West was a member of the so-called Memphis Mafia, the entourage that formed a protective cordon around Presley. West had been close to Elvis since the early days, but the relationship fractured when West was fired by Elvis’ father Vernon in 1976. Red then wrote a book about Elvis with his cousin Sonny West and David Hebler, who had also been fired by Vernon. Titled Elvis, What Happened?, the authors claimed their revelations about Elvis’ drug-use was a desperate attempt at saving the singer; the Presley camp saw the book as a betrayal. In happier times, West had recorded a few records and wrote a whole bunch for Elvis, Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson and others. He was also an actor and stuntman.Rap took a nasty turn in the late 1980s, coinciding with the advent of 2 Live Crew, who brought to the fore a sense of the sexually explicit, which rather too often found expression in misogyny, in the lyrics of 2 Live Crew and acts that followed (stuff like Face Down Ass Up with its immortal line: “I make her do things like nothin’ before, and when I’m done, she’ll always be sore). In the more puritan times of the late 1980s and early ‘90s this kind of stuff created legal court cases and precedents; today the USA has a president who might critique 2 Live Crew for being to restrained in dealing with women. The one constant in 2 Live Crew’s ever-changing line-ups was Fresh Kid Ice, who has died at 53, seven years after suffering a debilitating stroke. Born Chris Wong Won in Trinidad & Tobago, he was also a prolific solo artist, delighting his audience with anthems like Long Dick Chinese and the pretty self-explanatory Suck My Dick (the song Steve Bannon likes to sing to himself) and We Like Too Fuck.

I had just seen French electronic music pioneer and collaborator Pierre Schaeffer on an old German TV show when I learnt of the death of his contemporary Pierre Henry. It was those two who paved the way for the synth-button doodlings of Jean-Michel Jarre and their ilk. Henry studied under the great French classical composer Olivier Messiaen, and was a classical composer in his own right, though of a modernistic bent, as in 1950s Symphonie pour un homme seul, which he co-wrote with Schaeffer (fans of things like The Beatles’ Revolution #9 might enjoy it; it’s not my thing). But his best-remembered piece of music might be the 1969 electronic tune Psyché Rock, which we recognise in only a slight adaptation as the theme song for Futurama.

If you want to hear the sound of Cape Town, one of the world’s great cities, you could do worse than turn to guitarist Errol Dyers, who has died at 65. Like many of the city’s jazz musicians, he guarded its jazz tradition jealously, to the point that he resented the commercialisation of his recordings (aside from the fact that the musicians almost invariably get ripped off by record companies). He was an exquisite guitar player and one of a dying generation of jazz masters. Some of the greats — Monty Webber, Sammy Hartman, Lionel Beukes, Basil ‘Manenberg’ Coetzee, Monwabisi, Dyers — came together in 1976 to record an album in tribute to District Six, a mixed-race conurbation in the centre of Cape Town which was being demolished at the time by the apartheid regime, its people forcibly removed to gang-ridden townships. Dyers and his fellow musicians knew District Six as a cultural hub that celebrated the joys and pains of its people. The featured track from that album, Happy All The Time, reflects this.One of the biggest stars in West-Germany in the early- to mid-1970s was Chris Roberts. He was the kind of well-behaved boy every mom wished for her son-in-law. Always deferential, the likable Roberts maintained a scandal-free career with a bunch of catchy but banal Schlager hits and appearances in comedy movies that were light of heart and even more light on substance. Bizarrely, one of the biggest German stars lived almost all of his life without having a nationality. He was born in 1944 in Munich as Christian Klusáček, the son of a German mother and a Yugoslavian father. But because it was illegal for German s to marry Yugoslavs, Roberts was not registered as a German. For some reason he didn’t get around to apply for German citizenship until 2016. He finally received that citizenship in April this year.

Just over a year after Prince went, his long-time drummer John Blackwell died of a brain tumor, aged only 43. Blackwell was backing Patti LaBelle in concert when Prince discovered him and invited him to join his backing band, the New Power Generation, in 2000. He stayed with Prince for the next 15 years, but in-between also drummed, live or in the studio, for Cameo, Frankie Beverley and Maze, D’Angelo, P. Diddy, Utada Hikaru, Nikki Costa and others, and released a solo album in 2006.

It’s fair to suspect that most performers would, given the choice, be quite prepared die while doing what they love: performing on stage. But their preference would be a natural death. French singer Barbara Weldens, 35, died on stage, but 50 years or so too early and not because her natural jig was up. The singer, who had released her well-received debut only in February, was performing at a festival at a church in the village of Goudron, in France’s south-west, when she suddenly collapsed and died of cardiac arrest. Investigators suspected that she might have been electrocuted by faulty equipment.

Chris Roberts, 73, German Schlager singer, on July 2
Chris Roberts – Ich bin verliebt in die Liebe (1970)

Rudy Rotta, 66, Italian blues guitarist and singer, on July 3
Rudy Rotta & Friends – To Love Somebody (2006)

John Blackwell, 43, funk drummer, on July 4
Prince – If Eye Was The Man In Ur Life (2004, on drums)
Nikka Costa – Around The World (2005)

Pierre Henry, 89, French composer and electronic music pioneer, on July 5
Pierre Henry – Psyché Rock (1967)

Melvyn “Deacon” Jones, 73, blues-soul organist, on July 6
Baby Huey & The Babysitters – Messin’ With The Kid (1965, as member)

Erik Cartwright, 67, guitarist of rock band Foghat, on July 9
Foghat – Live Now – Pay Later (1981)

Joseph Fire Crow, 58, Native-American folk flutist, on July 11
Joseph Fire Crow – The Young Wolves (2000)

David Kapralik, 91, producer and label executive, on July 12
Peaches & Herb – Close Your Eyes (1967, as co-producer)
Pretty Purdie – Soul Drums (1967, as co-producer)
Francine Barker – Don’t You Know Love When You See It (1968, as co-producer)

Joe Fields, 88, Jazz producer and label owner, on July 12

Ray Phiri, 70, founder, singer, guitarist of South African Afro-jazz band Stimela, on July 12
Stimela – African Changes (1991)

Simon Holmes, 55, singer, lead guitarist of Australian band The Hummingbirds, on July 13
The Hummingbirds – Word Gets Around (1989)

Pede ‘Pete’ Marshall, singer with soul band The Choice Four, on July 13
The Choice Four – I’m Gonna Walk Away From Love (1975)
The Choice Four – Come Down To Earth (1976)

Fresh Kid Ice, 53, rapper with 2 Live Crew, on July 13
2 Live Crew – Fresh Kid Ice Is Back (1995)

Clara (Cuqui) Nicola, 90, Cuban guitarist, on July 14

David Zablidowsky, 37, metal bassist, in traffic accident on July 14
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Winter Palace (2012, on bass)

Bob ‘Red’ West, 81, singer, songwriter, actor, Elvis friend, on July 19
Red West – F.B.I. Story (1960)
Elvis Presley – If You Think I Don’t Need You (1965, as co-writer)

Kitty Lux, 59, co-founder of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, on July 16
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – Anarchy In The UK (1990)

Roland Cazimero, 66, guitarist of Hawaiian band The Brothers Cazimero, on July 16

Wilfried, 67, Austrian singer, on July 16
Wilfried – Lisa Mona Lisa (1988)

Peter Principle, 63, member of avant-garde group Tuxedomoon, on July 17
Tuxedomoon – In A Manner Of Speaking (1985)

Barbara Weldens, 35, French singer, on July 20
Barbara Weldens – Du pain pour les réveille-matin (2017)

Chester Bennington, 41, singer of Linkin Park, suicide on July 20
Linkin Park – In The End (2001)
Linkin Park – Numb (2003)
Linkin Park – Shadow Of The Day (2007)

Paapa Yankson, 73, Ghanaian highlife musician and producer, on July 20
Paapa Nyankson – Kokroko

Andrea Jürgens, 50, German schlager singer, on July 20

Errol Dyers, 65, South African jazz guitarist and composer, on July 21
Monty Webber & Friends – Happy All The Time (1976, on guitar)
Errol Dyers – Sugar Shake (1997)

L.C. Cooke, 84, R&B/gospel singer, brother of Sam Cooke, on July 21
L.C. Cooke – Take Me For What I Am (1963)
L.C. Cooke – Put Me Down Easy (1963)

Kenny Shields, 69, singer of Canadian rock band Streetheart, on July 21
Streetheart – Teenage Rage (1980)

Caleb Palmiter, 53, guitarist, founding member of alt.country band The Jawhawks, on July 21
The Jayhawks – Falling Star (1986)

Geoff Mack, 94, Australian country singer, songwriter, on July 21
Hank Snow – I’ve Been Everywhere (1962, as writer)

Polo Hofer, 72, Swiss musician (Rumpelstilz), on July 22

Bobby Taylor, 83, Canadian soul singer and producer, on July 22
Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers – Does Your Mama Know About Me (1968)
Bobby Taylor – Oh, I’ve Been Blessed (1969)
Zulema – Tree (1973, as producer)

Abby Nicole, 25, country singer, in a traffic accident on July 23

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, 46, Indigenous Australian musician, on July 25
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – Gurrumul History (I Was Born Blind) (2008)

Billy Joe Walker Jr, 65, guitarist, country songwriter and producer, on July 25
Eddie Rabbitt – B-B-B-Burnin’ Up With Love (1984, as co-writer)

Michael Johnson, 72, country singer, songwriter and guitarist, on July 25
Michael Johnson – Bluer Than Blue (1973)

D.L. Menard, 85, American Cajun musician, on July 27
D.L. Menard – It’s Too Late You’re Divorced (1980)

Sam Shepard, 73, playwright and actor, occasional musician, on July 27
Bob Dylan – Brownsville Girl (1986, as co-writer)
Patti Smith – Smells Like Teen Spirit (2007, on banjo)

Chuck Loeb, 61, jazz fusion guitarist, on July 31
Chuck Loeb – Rhythm Ace, Funky Stuff (1999)

GET IT!

Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Be Sociable, Share!
Categories: In Memoriam Tags:
  1. halfhearteddude
    August 3rd, 2017 at 15:11 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. RhodB
    August 4th, 2017 at 22:22 | #2

    Thanks once again for a wondeful job in putting together the In Memoriam series.

    Did not know that Simon Holmes from the hummimgbirds had passed on a loss

    regards

    Rhod

  1. No trackbacks yet.