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In Memoriam – October 2018

November 1st, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last month’s In Memoriam included Charles Aznavour, who died in October, and this month’s round-up includes a singing actor who died in September. Confused? Read on.

The Studio Wizard

The Beatles benefitted richly from the genius of producer George Martin, but the man who put many of the studio tricks and effects in action was the wizard engineer Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer on several the Fab Four’s albums: Revolver (his first job as chief engineer was top work on Tomorrow Never Knows), Sgt Pepper’s and Abbey Road. As an assistant engineer, he was there right at the start, in the session that produced Love Me Do, and later during the recordings of songs like She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand. Emerick’s 2006 memoir Here, There and Everywhere provides a great insight into the production of that later trilogy of albums that saw The Beatles at their peak of creativity. He later engineered for Paul McCartney, on albums like Band On The Run, London Town, Tug Of War and Pipes Of Peace, as well as on several of the great America hits such as Lonely People, Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man and Daisy Jane. He also produced the original version of Without You by Badfinger, and worked as producer and/or engineer on records by the likes of The Zombies, Peter & Gordon, Climax Blues Band, Gino Vanelli, Robin Trower, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Art Garfunkel, Elvis Costello, Ultravox, Nick Heyward, Big Country, Split Enz, Echo & The Bunnymen and Johnny Cash.

The Swamp Rocker

The title track of Willie Nelson’s 2017 album God’s Problem Child features Leon Russell, Tony Joe White and Jamey Johnson (the latter two wrote it as well). Of Nelson’s three collaborators, only Jamey Johnson is still alive. Tony Joe White, who has died at 75, is best-known for his composition of the Brook Benton hit Rainy Night In Georgia and the Elvis hit Polk Salad Annie. The latter title sounds a bit like a novelty number rather than the sweaty blues-rock workout (Polk Salad is, in fact, a rural vegetable stew. It sounds like a particularly strange dance). Elvis loved covering White’s songs; he also did a version of the wonderful I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby and 1973’s For Ol’ Times Sake. Dusty Springfield also covered his Willie & Laura Mae Jones. Later he wrote Steamy Windows for Tina Turner. Over almost 50 years, he regularly released new albums in swamp-rock genre that was also home to Leon Russell. His last album, Bad Mouthin’, came out on September 28.

The Mighty Wah

To his mom, he was known as Melvin Ragin, but to the world he was Wah Wah Watson, the man who plays that dirty funky guitar which converses with Dennis Edwards in the opening verse of The Temptations’ Papa Was A Rolling Stone. Or as the man who uses the pedal that gave him his nickname to seductive effect in that opening line of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Or that funky groove on Rose Royce’s Car Wash… Wah Wah Watson/Melvin Ragin (the credits used both names interchangeably) played many times with Quincy Jones, also on Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall album. Apart from the Motown roster of the 1970s, he played on hits like Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis’ You Don’t Have To Be A Star, and Peaches & Herb’s Reunited. He can be heard on records by the likes of Blondie, Billy Preston, Etta James, Boz Scaggs, The Main Ingredient, Barry White, John Lee Hooker, Bill Withers, Pointer Sisters, The Whispers, Webster Lewis, Dizzy Gillespie, Albert King, Lenny Williams, Patrice Rushen, George Duke, Beach Boys,  Herbie Hancock, Bobby Womack,  Lisa Stansfield, Paula Abdul, Tony! Toni! Toné!, George Benson, Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams, El DeBarge, Chaka Khan, Jonathan Butler, Brian McKnight and many others…

The Sergeant

He slipped through the cracks last month, but I dare not leave out Al Matthews, lest he come back to shout at me. Movie fans will know Matthews as the cigar-chewing Sgt. Apone in Aliens, but some pop fans might remember him also as the singer of the 1975 UK Top 20 hit Fool. It was one of several singles he released, but the only to chart. He made an appearance with a rap on the hip hop mix of Linda Lewis’ 1984 dance hit Style/Class. In 1978, he was the first black disc jockey to join the BBC’s Radio 1. Thereafter, the Vietnam veteran began his acting career.

The Skiing Rapper

Dying for you art can come in different ways; for Canadian rapper Jon James it came in a daring video shoot. The artist, who as Jon McMurray had been a professional freestyle-skier before he turned to hip hop following a career-ending injury, was on the wing of an airborne Cessna, to be filmed while rapping. But his movement on the wing caused the pilot to lose control, throwing Jon off before he could activate his parachute. The plane landed safely, but for Jon there was no hope.

The 90-Year Career

Three years ago, at the age of 104, Elder Roma Wilson was still preaching and playing the harmonica, having become an ordained minister in a Pentecostal church in 1929. He died this month at 107. Wilson’s primary gig was to preach, with the musicianship a tool in that pursuit. Still, in 1995, when he was his 80s, he recorded an album; his only one in a career spanning nearly 90 years.

 

Al Matthews, 75, actor, singer and radio DJ, on Sept. 22
Al Matthews – Fool (1975)
Linda Lewis feat. Al Matthews – Class/Style (I’ve Got It) (Hip-Hop Mix) (1984, as rapper)

Charles Aznavour, 94, French singer and actor, on Oct. 1
Charles Aznavour – La Bohême (1965)

Jerry González, 69, bandleader and trumpeter, on Oct. 1
Jerry González & The Fort Apache Band – Earthdance (1991)

Stelvio Cipriani, 81, Italian film composer, on Oct. 1

Geoff Emerick, 72, English recording engineer, on Oct. 2
The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows (1966, as sound engineer)
America – Lonely People (1974, as sound engineer)
Nick Heyward – Blue Hat For A Blue Day (1983, as co-producer)
Elvis Costello And The Attractions – All This Useless Beauty (1996, as co-producer)

John Von Ohlen, 77, drummer of jazz group Blue Wisp Big Band, on Oct. 3

Hamiet Bluiett, 78, jazz saxophonist, on Oct. 4

Pete Philpot, 49, drummer of Australian metal band Manticore, on Oct. 4

Bernadette Carroll, 74, pop singer, on Oct. 5
Bernadette Carroll – Party Girl (1964)

Ed Kenney, 85, singer and actor, on Oct. 5
Ed Kenney – Like A God (1958)

Montserrat Caballé, 85, Spanish opera singer, on Oct. 6
Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe – Barcelona (1987)

John Wicks, 65, singer of British power pop band The Records, on Oct. 7
The Records – Teenarama (1979)

Tim Chandler, 58, bassist with rock band Daniel Amos, on Oct. 8
Daniel Amos – Who’s Who Here? (2001)

Kenny ‘Waste’ Ahrens, singer with hardcore punk band Urban Waste, on Oct. 9

Gilbert ‘Toker’ Izquierdo, rapper with hip-hop group Brownside, on Oct. 10
Brownside – Rest In Peace (1999)

Theresa Hightower, 64, jazz singer, on Oct. 10

Duncan Johnson, 80, British DJ, on Oct. 11
Duncan Johnson – The Big Architect In The Sky (1968)

Carol Hall, 82, composer and lyricist, on Oct. 11
Carol Hall – Let Me Be Lucky This Time (1971)

Ghinwa, 30, Egyptian singer and actress, in car crash on Oct. 12

Andy Goessling, multi-instrumentalist with Americana band Railroad Earth, on Oct. 12
Railroad Earth – Take A Bow (2014)

Chuck Wilson, 70, jazz saxophonist, on Oct. 17

Oli Herbert, 44, guitarist of metal band All That Remains, on Oct. 17
All That Remains – The Thunder Rolls (2017)

Jon ‘Jon James’ McMurray, 34, Canadian rapper, on Oct. 20

Mighty Shadow, 77, Trinidadian calypso musician, on Oct. 23

Tony Joe White, 75, American singer-songwriter, on Oct. 24
Tony Joe White – Polk Salad Annie (1968)
Tony Joe White – Rainy Night In Georgia (1969)
Tony Joe White – On The Return To Muscle Shoals (1993)
Willie Nelson – God’s Problem Child (2017, on guitar & co-writer)

Melvin ‘Wah Wah Watson’ Ragin, 67, session guitarist, on Oct. 24
The Temptations – Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (1973, on guitar)
Michael Jackson – Get On The Floor (1979, on guitar)
Blondie – Live It Up (1980, on guitar)
El DeBarge – Heart, Mind & Soul (1994, on guitar)

Hip Hop Pantsula, 38, South African rapper, suicide on Oct. 24

Sonny Fortune, 79, American jazz saxophonist, on Oct. 25
Sonny Fortune – Afortunado (1979)

Elder Roma Wilson, 107, gospel singer and harmonica player, on Oct. 25
Elder Roma Wilson – Gonna Wait Till A Change Come (1995)

Baba Oje, 87, member of hip hop group Arrested Development, on Oct. 26
Arrested Development – Tennessee (1992)

Todd Youth, 47, metal guitarist with Murphy’s Law, Danzig a.o., on Oct. 27
Glen Campbell – These Days (2008, on guitar)

Ingo Insterburg, 84, German comedian-musician, on Oct. 27

Freddie Hart, 91, country musician and songwriter, on Oct. 27
Freddie Hart – Easy Loving (1970)

Fred Hess, 74, jazz saxophonist, on Oct. 27

Jimmy Farrar, 67, singer with Molly Hatchet, Gator Country, on Oct. 29
Molly Hatchet – Dead And Gone (1981, also as co-writer)

Young Greatness, 34, rapper, shot on Oct. 29
Young Greatness – Moolah (2015)

Rico J. Puno, 65, Filipino pop singer, on Oct. 30

Beverly McClellan, 49, singer and finalist in The Voice (2011), on Oct. 30

Hardy Fox, 73, co-founder and composer with avant-garde collective The Residents, on Oct. 30
The Residents – Bach Is Dead (1978)

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(PW in comments)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    November 1st, 2018 at 10:29 | #1

    PW = amdwah

  2. J. Loslo
    November 1st, 2018 at 19:19 | #2

    Thanks.

    Unless I’m just not seeing it, I believe you missed the passing of Otis Rush, on September 29.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otis_Rush

  3. J. Loslo
    November 1st, 2018 at 19:22 | #3

    Oh, hell, there he is. My apologies.

  4. Rhodb
    November 2nd, 2018 at 22:19 | #4

    Thanks again for a wonderful share that keep the memories alive

    Regards

    Rhodb

  5. November 5th, 2018 at 01:56 | #5

    Hi!

    Thanx for the “Memoriam” = good details. A “minor” issue with Tony Joe White details. Yes he composed “A Rainy Night In Georgia” but never had a Hit with it himself. Believe HIS “Polk Salad Annie” was a BIGGER hit for him peaking @ # 8, & not 100% (although at least 90%) sure but believe an Elvis version NEVER reached Billboard’s Top 100. LUV the song as it brings back memories of listening to 1050 CHUM-AM radio (Top 40 Pop) growing up in Toronto. T.J. has numerous YouTube vids. (YES! Check ’em out = great Blues!!) but here are 2 “Polk Salad Annie” personal FAV versions:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCSsVvlj6YA = “original” B&W version WITHOUT later added brass etc.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCPYbys5yRY = Here he’s about 70!! Check out rattlesnake guitar strap! WAIT for Letterman’s comments @ end! AMAZING!!

    Cheers!
    Ciao! For now.
    rntcj

  6. Pete from Brighton
    November 11th, 2018 at 01:17 | #6

    Thanks as always Dude for putting this great series together. Most shocked to hear that Geoff Emrick, Wah Wah Watson and Tony Joe White had passed away – certainly missed those sad events during October.

    Loved the broad spectrum of music included here so thank you again for your hard work in compiling this edition.

  7. dogbreath
    November 12th, 2018 at 21:14 | #7

    Thanks for the zip job, Mr Dude, informative as always. And thanks to rntcj for flagging up the Tony Joe White videos – loved the Letterman with the Foo Fighters. Cheers!

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