With the death of Charlie Louvin, one of the longest-running performers in music has passed on. With his brother Ira, he started performing in the 1940s as the Louvin Brothers. The country and gospel act was massively influential. Elvis Presley was a huge fan (the brothers were his mom’s favourites). Ira, a racist drunk, died in a car crash in 1965; Charlie continued to record and perform for the next 45 years. Alas, the Louvin Brothers are often remembered only for the cover art of their 1960 album Satan Is Real (the story of which is HERE).
The Cheers’ Black Denim Trousers And Motorcycle Boots was one of the first hits for songwriters legends Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller; the motor crash song became a hit shortly after Jamers Dean’s death in 1955.
Two motor accidents claimed musicians this month. R&B keyboard man Greg Johnson reportedly stepped in front of a car in bad weather and was fatally hit, and Alex Kirst of grunge band Nymphs and later a session drummer for Iggy Pop was killed in a hit and run, apparently while walking to a shop for cigarettes.
Two musicians connected to Australia’s Little River Band died within a day of one another. Sherbet’s guitarist Harvey James was a member of the group that would become the Little River Band, and Steve Prestwich joined the band briefly after Cold Chisel broke up.
Finally, Bobby Poe’s 1964 hit with The Chartbusters included in this collection inspired Tom Hanks to make the movie That Thing You Do.
As always, songs listed with entries are in a downloadable file at the bottom of the post.
Charles Fambrough, 60, jazz bassist and composer, on January 1
Charles Fambrough – It’s Not Easy Havin’ Fun (1997)
Verne Langdon, 69, musician and record producer, on January 1
Gerry Rafferty, 63, Scottish singer-songwriter and former member of Stealers Wheel, on January 4
Gerry Rafferty – Stealin’ Time (1978)
Stealers Wheel – Late Again (1972)
Mick Karn, 52, bassist of British new wave band Japan, on January 4
Japan – Quiet Life (12″ version, 1979)
Grady Chapman, 81, lead singer with doo-wop band The Robins, on January 4
The Robins – Since I First Met You (1957)
Bobby Robinson, 93, record producer of acts such as Elmore James, Wilbert Harrison, King Curtis, Gladys Knight a.o., on January 7
The Shirelles – Dedicated To The One I Love (1959)
Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya (1962)
Phil Kennemore, 57, bassist of American heavy metal band Y&T, on January 7
Margaret Whiting, 86, jazz/pop singer, on January 10
Mel Tormé & Margaret Whiting – Make Someone Happy (1961)
Tommy Crain, 59, guitarist of The Charlie Daniels Band, on January 13.
Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down To Georgia (as guitarist and co-writer, 1979)
Trish Keenan, 42, singer of British electronica group Broadcast, on January 14
Broadcast – The Book Lover (1997)
Harvey James, 58, guitarist of Australian pop group Sherbet, on January 15
Sherbet – Howzat (1976)
Steve Prestwich, 56, drummer of Australian rock band Cold Chisel and briefly the Little River Band, on January 16
Cold Chisel – Forever Now (1982)
Don Kirshner, 76, record producer, song publisher, TV host and impressario, on January 17
Greg Johnson, 58, R&B keyboard player, played with Joe Cocker, in motor accident, on January 20
Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart (as keyboardist, 1987)
Bobby Poe, 77, singer, songwriter and promoter, on January 22
Wanda Jackson – Let’s Have A Party (as backing musician, 1960)
The Chartbusters – She’s The One (as member, 1964)
Buddy Charleton, 72, influential pedal steel guitarist and backing musician for Ernest Tubb, on January 25
Charlie Louvin, 83, country singer; half of The Louvin Brothers, on January 26
The Louvin Brothers – I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight (1956)
Gladys Horton, 66, lead singer of Motown band The Marvelettes, on January 26
The Marvelettes – Playboy (1962)
Henrik Ostergaard, 47, singer of San Francisco rock group Dirty Looks (not to be confused with the 1980s New York band), on January 27
Dirty Looks – C’mon Frenchie (1989)
John Barry, 77, British film score composer (Out Of Africa, James Bond), on January 30
John Barry – The Persuaders Theme (1971)
Doc Williams, 96, bluegrass musician and member of the Kansas Klodhoppers, on January 31.
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