Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Memoriam 2016: Mose Allison to Jimmy Guterman

David Bowie, photo by Adam Bielawski/Photobra
David Bowie photo by Adam Bielawski/Photobra
This year was absolutely brutal for musicians…in a normal year, I sadly have to write up a couple dozen ‘end-of-year’ obituaries; for 2016, I had over 70 musicians, writers, and producers to memorialize. Our “In Memoriam” feature is so large this year that I’ve broken it down into three parts, with each artist's age at death in parentheses. To follow is in tribute to the artists that have made the music we love…

Part Two: Georgio Gomelsky to Alphonse Mouzon
Part Three: Prince to Bernie Worrell

Mose Allison (89)
American jazz and blues pianist Mose Allison was also a gifted songwriter who penned such classics as “Parchman Farm” and “A Young Man’s Blues.” During the 1950s Allison worked in New York City as a jazz pianist, performing and recording with legends like Stan Getz, Al Cohn, and Zoot Sims. As Allison began incorporating more blues into his music, he would straddle both worlds and appeal to fans of both jazz and blues genres. As a songwriter, Allison’s songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as the Who, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, and the Clash and his musical influence reached such unlikely fans as Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, and Georgie Fame, among others.

Signe Anderson (74)
Anderson was the original vocalist for the San Francisco-based band Jefferson Airplane. Born Signe Toly, she was a well-respected jazz and folk singer when she married Jerry Anderson, one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. Asked by singer/songwriter Marty Balin to join Jefferson Airplane, Anderson would sing on the band’s 1966 debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Anderson quit the band later that year, performing her final shows with the Airplane in October. Moving to Oregon, Anderson continued to sing through the years with various bands, including Carl Smith and the Natural Gas Company. Anderson died on the same day as her former Jefferson Airplane bandmate Paul Kantner.

Jimmy Bain photo by Dana Wullenwaber
Jimmy Bain photo by Dana Wullenwaber
Jimmy Bain (68)
An underrated musician who contributed to the work of many better-known artists, Scotland’s Jimmy Bain is best known as an integral member of the classic rock bands Rainbow and Dio. Bain first came to prominence with the London-based band Harlot, where he came to the attention of Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore, who was looking for a new bass player for his band Rainbow. Bain performed on the band’s 1976 album Rising and would appear on the following year’s On Stage live album. Fired from Rainbow, Bain formed Wild Horses with former Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson, the bassist singing and writing material for the band’s two EMI label records at the dawn of the ‘80s.

Close friends with Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Bain played keyboards and co-wrote songs for Lynott’s two solo albums, 1980’s Solo In Soho and 1981’s The Phillip Lynott Album. During this period Bain also performed on albums by Roger Chapman (Family), Roy Harper, Gary Moore, and Kate Bush before reuniting with former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio in his new band Dio. Bain wrote or co-wrote several songs during his tenure with Dio, performing on the band’s Holy Diver (1983), The Last In Line (1984), Sacred Heart (1985), and Dream Evil (1987) albums.

After leaving Dio, Bain was a member of a number of bands, including World War III (with vocalist Mandy Lion), the Hollywood All Starz, and 3 Legged Dog, the latter two with former Dio drummer Vinny Appice. Bain later formed Last In Line in 2013 with former Dio bandmates Appice and guitarist Viv Campbell, performing classic Dio songs. Bain died while on Def Leppard’s “Hysteria on the High Seas” cruise with Last In Line, his death originally attributed to a lengthy bout with pneumonia but actually the result of undiagnosed lung cancer. 

John Berry (52)
John Berry was the original guitarist for the Beastie Boys in their earliest incarnation as a hardcore punk band. Along with singer Michael Diamond (a/k/a “Mike D”), bassist Adam Yauch (a/ka/ “MCA”), and drummer Kate Schellenbach (later of Luscious Jackson), Berry recorded the acclaimed 1981 EP Polly Wog Stew, the Beastie Boys opening for bands like the Dead Kennedys, the Misfits, and Bad Brains. Berry left the Beastie Boys in 1982 before the band’s stylistic jump to hip-hop, the guitarist subsequently playing with outfits like Thwig, Big Fat Love, and Bourbon Deluxe.

David Bowie's Alladdin Sane
David Bowie (69)
Rock legend David Bowie should need no introduction. The British musician, actor, and painter was born David Jones, changing his name in 1967 after being confused with the British lead singer of American band the Monkees. Bowie released his self-titled debut album the same year, a collection of pop and music hall songs that failed to chart. Always the chameleon, Bowie’s 1969 sophomore album – alternately titled David Bowie in the U.K. and Man of Words/Man of Music in the U.S. (and later reissued as Space Oddity by RCA Records in 1972) – featured an inspired mix of folk, rock, and prog rock that was both ahead of and out of time, but nonetheless scored a Top 5 U.K. hit in the song “Space Oddity.” Reissued at the height of Bowie’s 1970s-era glam-rock fame, Space Oddity the album would chart Top 20 on both sides of the pond.

After a releasing a pair of albums that would make him a star in the U.K. in 1970’s The Man Who Sold The World and 1971’s Hunky Dory, Bowie’s stateside breakthrough came with the 1972 release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which found a receptive audience on FM radio and critical acclaim from rock music magazines. Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane would hit number one in the U.K. and chart Top 20 in the U.S. while the following year’s Diamond Dogs would top the U.K. charts and hit number five in the U.S. Moving away from his glam-rock persona, Bowie seemingly changed his musical direction with each new album, yet still found commercial success with disparate efforts like 1975’s Young Americans, 1976’s Station To Station, and 1977’s Low.

The 1981 launch of MTV allowed Bowie to bring a visual aspect to his art, his first album of the MTV era – 1983’s Let’s Dance – scoring hit singles with the title track and the song’s “China Girl” and “Modern Love,” all of which prominently featured accompanying music videos. The album also introduced guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan to the world stage, but its enormous commercial success negatively impacted Bowie’s creativity, and after his next two albums were slagged by critics, Bowie formed the band Tin Machine with guitarist Reeves Gabrels and the Sales brothers, Hunt and Tony, the band releasing albums in 1989 and 1991.

Bowie continued to tour and record throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, albums like 1997’s Earthling, 1999’s Hours, and 2002’s Heathen experiencing consistent commercial success. Bowie went on an extended hiatus from recording after the release of his 2003 album Reality, reappearing in 2013 with The Next Day, which quickly shot to number one on the charts in the U.K. and number two in the U.S. Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, was released on his birthday in January 2016 and instantly met with critical acclaim. Written and recorded while the artist was terminally ill with liver cancer, the album’s lyrics show Bowie struggling with his mortality, the album planned as both his swan song and a parting gift for his fans; after working throughout the span of his illness, Bowie passed away two days after his birthday. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, David Bowie was one of those unique artists who retaining artistic integrity throughout a lengthy career while remaining one of the best-selling rock ‘n’ roll artists of all time.

Pete Burns (57)
Peter Jozzeppi “Pete” Burns was a British singer/songwriter and TV personality best known as singer for the band Dead or Alive, which scored a major hit with their 1985 song “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” from the album Youthquake. Burns recorded a total of seven albums with the band between 1984 and 2000 with varying commercial returns. Burns continued to record sporadically throughout the 2000s, but he found greater fame as a U.K. reality show celebrity, appearing on the TV shows Celebrity Big Brother 4 and Celebrity Wife Swap. Sexually fluid, the androgynous Burns was notably married to both a woman and a man during his time in the spotlight, and underwent extensive cosmetic surgery to modify his appearance, which led to subsequent health problems. Burns published his autobiography, Freak Unique, in 2006.

Cecil Bustamente Campbell a/k/a Prince Buster (78)
Prince Buster was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and producer responsible for some of the most important records of the 1960s that would influence a generation of Jamaican artists including Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Peter Tosh. Campbell came up through the Jamaican sound system culture of the 1950s, and released his first single in 1961. He recorded prolifically throughout the decade under the Prince Buster name, scoring a hit in far-away England with the 1967 release “Al Kapone.” Although Campbell virtually retired from the music business during the ‘70s and moved to Miami, his music influenced the post-punk U.K. ska revival and British “2-Tone” bands like Madness and the Specials recorded covers of Campbell’s songs. Campbell returned to performing in the late ‘80s, using the Skatalites as his backing band, and he returned to the studio in 1992, and would have his second U.K. hit with his song “Whine and Grine,” which had been used in a Levi’s commercial. Campbell was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2001 for his musical achievements, and made several festival appearances throughout the 2000s, including the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival and the 2007 U.K. Rhythm Festival.  

Phil Chess (95)
Born Fiszel Czyż in a Jewish community in Poland, the family immigrated to the United States and Chicago in 1928, changing the family name to Chess. Along with his brother Leonard (née Lejzor), the brothers would forever influence music around the world. During the late 1940s, Phil and Leonard were running the popular Chicago club the Macomba Lounge when Leonard became a partner in the local Aristocrat Records label. Phil joined the company in 1950, which subsequently changed its name to Chess Records and changed the label’s focus to blues and R&B, signing future legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Etta James, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry, among many others. Chess Records was directly responsible for some of the most influential records of the 1950s and ‘60s, inspiring artists both stateside and in England like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds, and many more. Phil was involved in production of many of the label’s records until the label was sold to General Recorded Tape (GRT) in 1968, and Phil retired to Arizona in 1972 after his brother’s death. Both Phil and Leonard Chess were inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame as non-performers in 1995.    

Guy Clark's Texas Cookin'
Guy Clark (74)
Born in Texas but immigrating to Nashville in the 1970s, singer/songwriter Guy Clark forever had one foot in both worlds, that of commercial country music and that of gritty, raw-boned Americana. During a lengthy career that was launched with the 1975 release of his critically-acclaimed album Old No. 1, Clark released better than a dozen studio and live albums, experiencing modest commercial success. Clark enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as one of the best songwriters in American music, and artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker, Bobby Bare, Jimmy Buffet, Vince Gill, and Emmylou Harris recorded Clark songs like “Desperados Waiting For A Train,” “Oklahoma Borderline,” “L.A. Freeway,” and “Heartbroke.” Clark’s sound was a hybrid of country, blues, and folk music similar to that of his friend and fellow songwriter Townes Van Zandt, who Clark often cited as an influence on his own songwriting. In return, Clark mentored artists like Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell, helping both launch their respective careers. Clark won a Grammy™ Award for “Best Folk Album” for his 2014 release My Favorite Picture of You.    

Otis Clay (73)
American soul giant Otis Clay got his start in the church singing gospel music, but began performing secular R&B during the mid-1960s. Signing with an independent label in Chicago, Clay’s first hit came with the gospel-influenced “That’s How It Is (When You’re In Love),” which hit #34 on the R&B charts, following that single with “A Lasting Love,” which rose to #48 on the R&B charts. His contract was purchased by Atlantic Records, who released Clay’s soul-infused cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About A Mover,” which became Clay’s biggest pop hit, inching onto Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart. Clay moved to the legendary Hi Records label in Memphis in 1971, where he would record many of his best-known soul-blues sides.

Clay’s biggest hit with Hi came in 1972 with the classic “Trying To Live My Life Without You,” which would later be covered by rocker Bob Seger. Other R&B chart hits would follow for various labels, including “If I Could Reach Out,” “All Because of Your Love,” and “The Only Way Is Up.” Clay’s commercial presence dwindled during the 1980s, but he remained a popular live performer in Europe, Japan, and the southern U.S. and he continued to record and perform until his death. The longtime Chicago resident and community activist released his final album, 2015’s Soul Brothers – a collaboration with fellow “chitlin’ circuit” veteran Johnny Rawls – which earned the duo a Blues Blast Award for “Soul Album of the Year.” Clay was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.    

Leonard Cohen's Songs of Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen (82)
Canadian-born Leonard Cohen was an influential singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, and painter whose intellectual song lyrics frequently delved deeply into relationships, religion, politics, and alienation. Cohen originally attempted a career as a poet and novelist during the late 1950s and early ‘60s with disappointing results. Changing his focus to folk music, Cohen was 33 years old before he recorded his first album after coming to the attention of legendary label A&R man John Hammond. Songs of Leonard Cohen, released in 1967, included the enduring song “Suzanne” and while achieving only modest commercial success stateside, the album became a big hit in the U.K. and across Europe. Several more albums of folk-rock songs would follow, 1969’s Songs From A Room, 1971’s Songs of Love and Hate, and 1974’s New Skin For The Old Ceremony all enjoying hit status in the U.K. while they were barely noticed in the U.S.

Cohen would broaden his style in the late ‘70s, and the artist would embellish his unique sparse performances with backing vocals and synthesizers on ‘80s-era albums like1984’s Various Positions and 1988’s I’m Your Man (one of only two Cohen albums during the decade), the latter of which would become his best-selling album worldwide while the former yielded what is possibly Cohen’s best-known song in “Hallelujah.” Covered by John Cale in 1991, the song was subsequently covered by singer Jeff Buckley for his multi-platinum debut album Grace. Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” would be used in a number of movies and TV shows, increasing its popularity, and it has since been covered by almost 200 artists in various languages. 

Cohen only released a single album during the ‘90s – 1992’s underrated The Future – and he spent most of the decade away from music, including five years of seclusion at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, where he would be ordained as a Buddhist monk. Cohen returned to music in 2001 with his tenth album, Ten New Songs, which was co-written and produced with singer Sharon Robinson. Dear Heather followed in 2004, after which Cohen underwent another hiatus. Cohen spent much of the rest of the decade in semi-retirement until his daughter discovered that his former manager had misappropriated over $5 million from Cohen’s savings.

The singer hit the road in 2008 for his first tour in fifteen years and quickly found a new audience among sincerity-starved young music fans. Cohen subsequently released three acclaimed studio albums during the final years of his life: 2012’s Old Ideas, 2014’s Popular Problems, and 2016’s You Want It Darker, a brilliant, haunting recording released three weeks before Cohen’s death. All three brought the talented singer/songwriter newfound commercial success in the U.S. and quickly shot to #1 on the charts in his Canadian homeland. Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and received a Grammy™ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. 

Jerry Corbetta (68)
Singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Jerry Corbetta is best-known as the frontman for American rock ‘n’ roll band Sugarloaf, which enjoyed a major hit in 1970 with the song “Green-Eyed Lady,” which was co-written by Corbetta. The musician began his career playing drums and keyboards with numerous Denver area bands, forming the band Chocolate Hair in 1968 with guitarist Bob Webber. Changing their name to Sugarloaf, the band signed with Liberty Records, releasing their self-titled 1970 debut album, which included “Green-Eyed Lady” Sugarloaf would later score another Top Ten hit “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” in 1974. Sugarloaf broke up in 1978 after a handful of albums, and Corbetta joined Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as their musical director, remaining with the band through 1984. Attempts to resurrect Sugarloaf were largely unsuccessful, and in 1992 Corbetta formed the nostalgia act The Classic Rock All Stars with guitarist Mike Pinera (Blues Image, Iron Butterfly) and members of Rare Earth and Cannibal & the Headhunters. Diagnosed with the neurologic disorder Pick’s disease in 2009, Corbetta retired from performing, and he died from the disease in a Denver hospice in September 2016.  

Clifford Curry (79)
A pioneer of the regional R&B sub-genre widely known as “beach music,” talented singer Clifford Curry recorded his first sides as “Sweet Clifford” for the Nashville-based Excello Records label during the mid-1960s. Curry scored a hit in 1967 with “She Shot A Hole In My Soul,” written by Mac Gayden, but subsequent releases for various labels found little chart success. Always a popular live performer, especially in the Carolinas where beach music was enormously popular, Curry stayed out of the recording studio from 1969 until signing with Buddah Records in 1977 for two singles, “Body Shop” and “Moving In Circles.” Curry recorded the popular “Shag With Me” and “Let’s Have A Party” in 1980, and he continued to record and perform throughout the 1980s and ‘90s. During the 1990s Curry formed a short-lived soul group known as Legends with fellow soul singers Archie Bell and Maurice Williams.  

Robert Edwards (74)
Robert “Big Sonny” Edwards was an original member of the Intruders, an American soul group popular during the late 1960s and early ‘70s and one of the first to enjoy hits working with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. One of the most influential “Philly soul” outfits, the Intruders scored 24 R&B chart hits, and placed 14 songs on the Billboard magazine “Hot 100” chart, including their million-selling 1968 Top 10 hit “Cowboys to Girls.” Edwards quit the band in 1975 after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, and retired from the music industry.

Keith Emerson (71)
British keyboard wizard Keith Emerson, along with contemporaries like Rick Wright of Pink Floyd, Rick Wakeman of Yes, and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, is credited with popularizing the use of keyboards in rock music. First coming to prominence as a member of the Nice during the late ‘60s, Emerson’s raging Hammond organ sound dominated the band’s classical music-inspired sound on albums like 1967’s The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack and the following year’s Ars Longa Vita Brevis. After the break-up of the Nice in 1970, Emerson formed progressive rock legends Emerson, Lake & Palmer with British rock veterans Greg Lake (King Crimson) and Carl Palmer (Atomic Rooster).

It is Emerson’s work with ELP for which he is best-known, the supergroup releasing its self-titled debut album in 1970 and immediately scoring a hit with the Greg Lake song “Lucky Man.” Much as it did with the Nice, Emerson’s keyboards and groundbreaking Moog synthesizer playing defined the ELP sound, and albums like 1971’s Tarkus and 1973’s Trilogy were enormously successful and accompanied by tours featuring Emerson’s flamboyant performances. When ELP broke up in 1979, Emerson pursued a solo career with little success, his 1981 debut album, Honky – which included calypso and reggae songs – was largely ignored everywhere except Italy, where it found an appreciate audience. The talented musician found greater acclaim as a composer of movie soundtracks, Emerson contributing to the scores of Dario Argento’s Inferno, Sylvester Stallone’s Nighthawks, and Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock.

During the 1980s, Emerson also formed the short-lived outfit Emerson, Lake & Powell with former Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell, the band releasing a self-titled 1986 album, and the AOR band 3 with Palmer and American multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry, which released a single album in 1988. ELP reunited for 1992’s Black Moon and 1994’s In The Hot Seat albums, touring in support of both before breaking up again by the end of the decade. Emerson toured with his own band during the 2000s, reunited with the Nice for a 2002 tour, joined with Greg Lake for a 2010 tour, and performed with the full band for a one-time show in London to celebrate ELP’s 40th anniversary.

Emerson released his final album, The Three Fates Project, in 2012 but health issues sidelined the keyboardist and prevented touring. Suffering from depression and having developed nerve damage that impacted his playing, Emerson committed suicide in March 2016.   

Glenn Frey's No Fun Aloud
Glenn Frey (67)
Singer, songwriter, and actor Glenn Frey was a founding member of country-rockers the Eagles, where he shared vocals with Don Henley, with whom he also wrote many of the band’s songs. It’s Frey’s vocals you’ll hear on Eagles’ hits like “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Take It Easy,” “New Kid In Town,” and “Heartache Tonight.” Frey and Henley were originally members of singer Linda Ronstadt’s backing band before forming the Eagles in 1971, the band achieving enormous success, scoring six chart-topping albums and earning six Grammy™ Awards and becoming one of the best-selling acts of the 1970s before breaking up in 1980.

Frey launched a successful career as a solo artist with the 1982 release of his debut album No Fun Aloud. Throughout the decade, Frey scored several Top 40 hits like “The Heat Is On,” “You Belong To The City,” “True Love,” and “Smuggler’s Blues.” Frey also dabbled in acting, appearing in ‘80s-era TV shows like Miami Vice, Wiseguy, and Nash Bridges as well as films like Cameron Crowe’s Jerry McGuire. The Eagles reunited in 1994 for a new album, Hell Freezes Over, followed by a successful tour; the band released the multi-Platinum album Long Road Out of Eden in 2007, and Frey released his final solo album, After Hours, in 2012. Frey was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Eagles in 1998.

Rudy Van Gelder (91)
Legendary jazz producer and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder is widely considered one of the most important non-performers in the history of the genre. An independent engineer and producer with his own studio, Van Gelder worked with a number of record labels throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, including Blue Note and Verve, but he’s credited with playing an integral role in the success of the Prestige Records label. Throughout his storied career, Van Gelder recorded artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk, and Horace Silver, among others, and he helped shape such classic jazz recordings as Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Davis’s Walkin’, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, and Silver’s Song For My Father.  

Charles Goering a/k/a Barrelhouse Chuck (58)
Critically-acclaimed Chicago blues piano-pounder known professionally as Barrelhouse Chuck, Goering trained under legendary pianists Pinetop Perkins and Sunnyland Slim. Throughout a career that spanned some 30 years, Goering performed and recorded with a veritable “who’s who” of blues giants, including Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Big Smokey Smothers, and Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, among others.

Gib Guilbeau (78)
Fiddle player Gib Guilbeau was a member of Swampwater, which was originally Linda Ronstadt’s backing band after the Stone Poneys broke up but would go on to make two brilliant albums of Cajun-flavored rock ‘n’ roll. In 1974, Guilbeau later joined original members Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete Kleinow in forming a new version of the Flying Burrito Brothers, recording the band’s ‘comeback’ album Flying Again. Guilbeau stayed through the mid-‘80s in varying versions of the Burritos. Guilbeau found some success as a songwriter, his material covered by artists like Ricky Nelson, Rod Stewart, and Ronnie Wood. 

Jimmy Guterman (53)
Writer Jimmy Guterman was a casual acquaintance of mine, the two of us bonding over our shared love of Jason & the Scorchers. We’d corresponded infrequently, and I had lost touch with him in the years before his (premature) death. For those unfamiliar with Guterman, he was a talented and passionate writer about rock music during the 1980s and ‘90s, contributing to publications like the Boston Phoenix, Rolling Stone, CD Review, and New Country. Guterman published five books, including bios of Jerry Lee Lewis, Sinead O’Connor, and the Sex Pistols (written with Noel Monk).

Guterman is perhaps best known for a specific pair of books – 1991’s The Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Records of All Time: A Fan’s Guide to the Stuff You Love To Hate! (co-written with Owen O’Donnell) and 1992’s The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Records of All Time: A Fan’s Guide to the Stuff You Love! The latter was written in response to the former, and Guterman seemed somewhat embarrassed about the success of the ‘worst of’ guide and the lack of success of the ‘best of’ guide, although both books are insightful and tremendously entertaining. Guterman largely got out of music writing in the late ‘90s, applying his talents to the business world, but he published one last music-related book in 2005’s Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen, the critically-acclaimed tome a welcome reminder of Guterman’s enormous skills as a writer and his enduring love of rock ‘n’ roll.

>>> In Memoriam 2016, Part Two

In Memoriam 2016: Giorgio Gomelsky to Alphonse Mouzon

Merle Haggard 1971, photo courtesy Country Music Association
Merle Haggard 1971, courtesy CMA
This year was absolutely brutal for a normal year, I sadly have to write up a couple dozen ‘end-of-year’ obituaries; for 2016, I had over 70 musicians, writers, and producers to memorialize. Our “In Memoriam” feature is so large this year that I’ve broken it down into three parts. To follow is in tribute to the artists that have made the music we love…

Part One: Mose Allison to Jimmy Guterman
Part Three: Prince to Bernie Worrell

Giorgio Gomelsky (81)
One of the major influential non-performers of the classic rock era of the ‘60s, Giorgio Gomelsky was a filmmaker, band manager, songwriter, and record producer. Gomelsky owned the Crawdaddy Club in London, hiring the Rolling Stones as his house band; he managed the Yardbirds and produced their albums from 1966 on; and he formed the Polydor-distributed Marmalade Records label, releasing albums by the Blossom Toes, Brian Auger & Trinity, and Graham Gouldman, who would later form 10cc. Gomelsky also had a hand in launching the careers of Soft Machine, Daevid Allen and Gong, Magma, Material, and Vangelis, among others. His fingers are all over the psychedelic and prog-rock of the ‘60s and, after a move to New York City in 1978, became involved with Big Apple bands like D Generation and Band of Susans.

Dale "Buffin" Griffin (67)
Drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin was a founding member of legendary British cult rockers Mott the Hoople, performing on all seven of the band’s studio albums between 1969 and 1975. After Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs left the band, Griffin regrouped with bassist Pete “Overend” Watts and keyboardist Morgan Fisher as ‘Mott,’ the new version of the band releasing two albums. After losing their singer and guitarist, Mott became British Lions with the addition of singer and guitarist John Fiddler (Medicine Head). British Lions released a pair of albums before breaking up in 1978. During the 1980s, Griffin moved into the studio, producing albums by the Cult, Hanoi Rocks, and New Model Army. Griffin also worked as a producer for BBC Radio 1, producing DJ John Peel’s legendary sessions from 1981 through 1994, recording bands like Pulp, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana. Griffin was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, and gradually faded away from the music scene, leaving behind a stellar reputation and musical legacy. 

Merle Haggard (79)
Country music legend Merle Haggard was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who, along with contemporary Buck Owens, created what has been termed the “Bakersfield sound,” which was rougher-edged, twangier, and rawer than the music being cranked out in Nashville during the 1960s. Haggard’s troubled childhood led to a stint in San Quentin Prison as an adult, where he was inspired by a performance by Johnny Cash to pursue a career in music.

During his commercial peak, Haggard enjoyed 38 number-one hit songs on the U.S. country charts, and he continued to release critically-acclaimed albums up to the time of his death, collaborating with friend and fellow-legend Willie Nelson on the 2015 album Django & Jimmie, which hit #1 on the country charts. Haggard received a number of accolades during his lengthy career, including a 2010 Kennedy Center Honor, a 2006 Grammy™ Lifetime Achievement Award, induction into the 1994 Country Music Hall of Fame, and numerous Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards.

Bill Ham (79)
Best known as Texas blues-rock band ZZ Top’s longtime manager and producer, Bill Ham also made a name for himself in the country music industry as singer/songwriter Clint Black’s manager. Ham also formed several successful music publishing companies that, during the ‘90s, handled a large number of Top 10 charting country music songs. Ham also produced albums by Southern rock band Point Blank and Texas guitarist Eric Johnson.

The Black Crowes' The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
Eddie Harsch (59)
Multi-instrumentalist Eddie Harsch was a Canadian keyboardist who joined the Black Crowes in 1991 in time to record their best-selling sophomore album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Harsch subsequently played with the band through 2006, appearing on 1994’s Amorica, 1996’s Three Snakes and One Charm, 1999’s By Your Side, and 2001’s Lions albums. Harsch also played bass with the Detroit Cobras during the Crowes’ early ‘00s hiatus. Prior to hooking up with the Black Crowes, Harsch was a member of Chicago blues legend James Cotton’s band.

Ted Harvey (85)
Longtime drummer for Chicago blues legends Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers, Ted Harvey appeared on all of Taylor’s albums and toured the world with the guitarist. Harvey was a veteran of the cutthroat Chicago blues scene, playing with legends like Jimmy Dawkins, Big Walter Horton, Jimmy Rogers, and J.B. Hutto, among others. Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer, who released all of Hound Dog Taylor’s albums, said of Harvey, “besides being one of the best Chicago blues shuffle drummers ever, Ted was a jovial, friendly man with a nice word and a smile for everyone. He never looked for credit for himself; he just wanted to make the band sound good.”

Leon Haywood (74)
R&B singer Leon Haywood found only modest success as a performer but created a niche for himself as a talented and successful songwriter and producer. Haywood started playing piano at the age of three, and by the time he hit his teens he was performing with Guitar Slim’s band. Moving to L.A. in the early ‘60s, Haywood worked with Big Jay McNeely before joining Sam Cooke’s band as the soul legend’s keyboardist. The initial singles Haywood recorded for Fantasy Records gained no traction on the charts but, after moving to Imperial Records in 1965, Haywood enjoyed a minor R&B chart hit with “She’s With Her Other Love.” Two years later, Haywood scored a bigger hit with “It’s Got To Be Mellow,” which rose mid-way up the pop chart as well as hitting #21 on the R&B chart.

Haywood changed his style during the ‘70s, incorporating elements of funk and rhythm into his sound, and his 1975 hit “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You” charted at #15 pop and #7 R&B. A few other minor hits followed, most notably 1978’s “Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It,” which also charted in the U.K. In the 1980s, though, Haywood eased into the production side of the industry, writing and producing Carl Carlton’s 1981 R&B hit “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.” Haywood worked as an A&R man for Edge Records in Los Angeles, and he also produced albums by bluesmen Jimmy McCracklin and Buddy Ace, among others, releasing them on his own independent Evejim Records label. Haywood’s funk-infused ‘70s records would provide inspiration for a generation of hip-hop stars, with rappers like 50 Cent, Common and, most notably, Dr. Dre sampling his songs on their own records.   

Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks' Original Recordings
Dan Hicks (74)
Eclectic singer/songwriter Dan Hicks is best-known for his band Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, the artist exploring a wide range of styles with his music, incorporating folk, jazz, country, swing, bluegrass, and pop elements into a sound as unique as the artist himself. Born in Arkansas, Hicks’ family moved to northern California when he was 15 years old. He originally became interested in radio and TV, hosting a segment on a local radio program, Time Out for Teens. Hicks would study broadcasting at San Francisco State College in the late ‘50s, but after teaching himself guitar he became a familiar figure on the San Francisco folk music scene.

Hicks joined cult favorites the Charlatans in 1965 as the band’s drummer, but left in 1967 to form Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks with violinist David LaFlamme, who subsequently departed to form It’s A Beautiful Day. The Hot Licks would release a single self-titled album (also known as Original Recordings) in 1969 before breaking up in 1971. Hicks reformed the band shortly thereafter, the new Hot Licks line-up recording three albums, including the acclaimed Last Train To Hicksville, in 1973. Hicks went solo with 1978’s It Happened One Bite album, and continued to record and perform as both a solo artist and with various Hot Licks line-ups until his death. Hicks' last album was 2010’s Crazy For Christmas, the album’s humorous songs and biting mix of country swing, jazz, and pop showing that Hicks hadn’t lost a step in a career that had spanned nearly 50 years. 

Jerry Heller (75)
Controversial but undoubtedly influential, Jerry Heller was a promoter and manager who had his fingers in every major music trend for decades. During the 1960s and ‘70s, Heller promoted tours by Pink Floyd and Elton John and his booking agency represented artists like the Who, Black Sabbath, Humble Pie, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Grand Funk Railroad, and others. During the 1980s, Heller began working with R&B and hip hop acts like the World Class Wreckin’ Cru, The D.O.C. and the Egyptian Lover.

Heller is best known for his association with pioneering rappers N.W.A as their manager and producer, co-founding Ruthless Records with N.W.A. member Eazy-E. Heller played a role in the emergence of West Coast rap through his support of N.W.A. and Ruthless, and Heller discovered, signed, or managed the Black Eyed Pea, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Above The Law. Heller was portrayed by actor Paul Giamatti in the 2015 N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, later filing a lawsuit against the film’s producers and rappers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, citing inaccuracies and false statements presented as fact in the movie.

Long John Hunter's Border Town Legend
Long John Hunter (84)
John Thurman Hunter, Jr. – best known by his stage name “Long John” Hunter – was an underrated Texas blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Born in Louisiana and raised in Arkansas, Hunter was working in Beaumont, Texas when he went to a B.B. King concert. The performance prompted Hunter to buy a guitar and learn how to play, and his first single – “She Used To Be My Woman” – was released by Duke Records in 1953. By 1957, Hunter had migrated to El Paso, Texas and he began performing regularly at the Lobby Club in Juárez, Mexico, where he stayed for 13 years.

Hunter released a number of singles throughout the early ‘60s on various regional labels, his “El Paso Rock” becoming his best-known song. The guitarist released his first album, Texas Border Town Blues, in 1988, Hunter subsequently signing with Chicago’s Alligator Records. Hunter’s efforts for Alligator included 1992’s Ride With Me, 1996’s Border Town Legend, and 1997’s Swinging From The Rafters. Hunter joined with fellow bluesmen Lonnie Brooks and Phillip Walker to release the critically-acclaimed Lone Star Shootout in 1999 for Alligator. A popular performer on the festival circuit, Hunter found an enthusiastic audience overseas and he toured frequently, releasing his last album, Looking For A Party, in 2009.  

Preston Hubbard (63)
Talented bass player Preston Hubbard is best known for his tenure both with Roomful of Blues and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Hubbard played on Roomful’s 1983 Let’s Have A Party and 1984’s Dressed Up To Get Messed Up albums before jumping ship and reuniting with former bandmate Fran Christina in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Hubbard was with the T-Birds during their late ‘80s commercial peak, playing with the band roughly eight years and appearing on albums like 1986’s Tuff Enuff, 1987’s Hot Number, and 1989’s Powerful Stuff.

Hubbard was in high demand as a session player as well, appearing on Bonnie Raitt’s 1989 comeback album Nick of Time as well as records by Big Joe Turner, Toni Price, Snooky Pryor, and former Roomful bandmate Duke Robillard. Hubbard also performed on the Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan album Family Style. Hubbard’s demons caught up with him in the ‘90s, though, and he spent much of the decade addicted and dealing, finally going to prison in 1999. Hubbard got back into music in the 2000s, moving to St. Louis after getting out of prison and recording with artists like Candye Kane and Nick Curran. After a near-death experience in 2014 where Hubbard discovered he was diabetic, his health continued to decline after decades of drug and alcohol abuse.

Bobby Hutcherson (75)
Bobby Hutcherson was one of the premiere jazz vibraphone players of the 20th century, rivaling the legendary Gary Burton in talent and fame among jazz fans. The influential vibes player began his career in the late ‘50s while still a teen, working with saxophonists Curtis Amy and Eric Dolphy. Hutcherson made his recording debut in 1960 with a single for the Pacific Jazz label recorded with the Les McCann Trio. Hutcherson released his first solo album, The Kicker, in 1963 and would go on to record better than 30 albums for labels like Blue Note, Columbia, and Landmark Records. As a sideman, Hutcherson recorded with many of the most legendary jazz musicians of the era, including Dexter Gordon, Eric Dolphy, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and Tony Williams among many others.

Wayne Jackson (74)
Trumpet player Wayne Jackson was a talented soul and R&B musician whose horn was an integral part of the Stax Records sound in the 1960s. As a member of the Mar-Keys, Jackson was part of the Stax house band, playing on hit records by Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, and many others. Jackson formed the Memphis Horns with veteran saxophonist Andrew Love in 1969, the pair subsequently appearing on records by Elvis Presley, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and Neil Diamond and touring behind artists like Stephen Stills, Rod Stewart, and the Doobie Brothers.

Jackson moved to Nashville in the late ‘70s, touring with country music legend Marty Robbins for three years. In the ‘80s, though, the horn player was called back to rock ‘n’ roll and Jackson performed on records by Sting, U2, and Peter Gabriel, who featured Jackson’s horn prominently in his hit “Sledgehammer.” Jackson and Love reunited in the late 1980s and would tour and record extensively for several years as part of bluesman Robert Cray’s band, performing on five of Cray’s albums including 1986’s Strong Persuader and 1988’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. During the ‘90s, Jackson played in the studio with talents like Steve Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, and Jack White. The Memphis Horns received a Grammy™ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Jackson died after several years of failing health.  

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Tones' 100 Days, 100 Nights
Sharon Jones (60)
She came to earn some degree of fame late in life, but for soul singer Sharon Jones, it wasn’t for lack of talent. Jones honed her vocal style singing in church and working as a backing vocalist in the studio during the 1970s, typically credited as Lafaye Jones. Seemingly without a career in music, Jones went to work as a corrections officer at Riker’s Island in New York City, and later as a Wells Fargo armored car guard. She got a break in 1996 at the age of 40 when she sang for a session behind soul/funk artist Lee Fields. The producers, Gabriel Roth and Philippe Lehman – then owners of the French record label Pure Record – were in awe of Jones’s performance and recorded a pair of solo tracks with the singer, “Switchblade” and “The Landlord” subsequently appearing on the 1996 Soul Providers album Soul Tequila.

Members of the Soul Providers, along with musicians from the Brooklyn bands Antibalas and the Mighty Imperials, formed the Dap-Kings, who would become Jones’s longtime backing band. Roth and musician Neal Sugarman of Sugarman 3 formed Daptone Records to release Jones’s music, beginning with Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in 2002. The album earned widespread critical acclaim, and subsequent Jones albums like 2005’s Naturally and 2007’s 100 Days, 100 Nights jump-started interest in soul and funk music with young record buyers. Jones was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, delaying the release of the Grammy™-nominated Give The People What They Want album as Jones underwent treatment.

The singer would return to touring after the release of the album, and would become the subject of a documentary film, Miss Sharon Jones!, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. Appearing at the festival, Jones revealed that her cancer had returned, and she underwent further chemotherapy. Jones experienced a stroke in November 2016 and passed away roughly a week earlier, leaving behind an incredible musical legacy.   

Paul Kantner 1975
Paul Kantner 1975, courtesy Grunt Records
Paul Kantner (74)
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Paul Kantner is best-known for forming the legendary psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane and its later spin-off, Jefferson Starship. The Airplane was formed in 1965 by Kantner and singer Marty Balin, and after adding musicians like guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady, drummer Skip Spence, and singer Signe Anderson, the band recorded its 1966 debut album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Jefferson Airplane found its classic line-up with the additions of singer Grace Slick and drummer Spencer Dryden when Anderson and Spence departed, the latter going on the form the band Moby Grape.

Kantner appeared on all seven of the Airplane’s albums through 1972, at which time Kaukonen and Casady left to pursue a full-time career with their side band Hot Tuna. Kantner had previously used the Jefferson Starship name for his 1970 solo concept album Blows Against The Empire, and he and Slick revived the band name in 1974 for the Dragon Fly album. The Starship would prove to be even more commercially successful than the Airplane, and Kantner would appear on all eight of the band’s albums between their debut and 1984’s Nuclear Furniture.

After breaking up the band, Kantner took legal action to prevent the other band members from using the ‘Jefferson Starship’ name, singer Mickey Thomas subsequently spinning off the band Starship (later billed as Mickey Thomas’s Starship). Kantner later re-formed Jefferson Starship in 1992, the band releasing 1994’s Windows of Heaven and 2008’s Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty albums while continuing to tour until Kantner’s death. The guitarist was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Martin ‘Bap’ Kennedy (54)
Singer and songwriter Bap Kennedy was best known as the frontman of London-based Irish rockers Energy Orchard. The band was signed to MCA Records on the strength of their live performances, releasing two albums for the label – their 1990 self-titled debut and 1992’s Stop The Machine – before jumping to the indie Transatlantic Records label for a pair of studio albums and the band’s swansong, an acclaimed 1996 live disc, after which the band broke up. Energy Orchard never reached much of an American audience, but they found a fan in Nashville’s Steve Earle, who offered to produce Kennedy’s solo debut album, 1998’s Domestic Blues. Throughout the two decades of his solo career, Kennedy recorded nine albums and collaborated with artists like Earle, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, and Shane MacGowan of the Pogues. Kennedy’s final album was 2014’s Let’s Start Again.    

Greg Lake (69)
We lost two-thirds of Emerson, Lake & Palmer this year when guitarist/bassist Greg Lake passed away in December. The prog-rock legend got his start with pioneering band King Crimson before leaving to form the influential supergroup with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer. Read our complete obit… 

John D. Loudermilk (82)
American singer and songwriter John D. Loudermilk will forever be remembered for his classic song “Tobacco Road.” A 1964 Top 20 hit for British band the Nashville Teens, “Tobacco Road” has since been recorded by dozens of rock and soul artists including Lou Rawls, the Blues Magoos, Spooky Tooth, Rare Earth, Jefferson Airplane, and Edgar Winter’s White Trash, among others. Surprisingly, the song wasn’t a hit when Loudermilk released his version as a single in 1960.

After rocker Eddie Cochran had a hit with one of his songs, Loudermilk recorded some of his own material, which was released under the name “Johnny Dee.” After a number of his singles failed to chart for Columbia Records, Loudermilk experienced modest commercial success after signing with RCA Victor in 1961, songs like “Language of Love,” “Thou Shall Not Steal,” and “Road Hog” making the charts. Loudermilk’s true talent was his songwriting, however, and after moving from North Carolina to Nashville, he began a productive streak, scoring hits throughout the 1960s and ‘70s with pop and country artists like the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithful, Chet Atkins, and many others. Loudermilk’s second best known song, “Indian Reservation,” was a #1 hit in 1971 for Paul Revere & the Raiders.    

Richard Lyons (57)
Richard Lyons was a founding member of comedic avant-garde sonic terrorists Negativland; among other characters he played on the band’s record were Dick Vaughan, auto trivia expert Dick Goodbody, and Pastor Richard Seeland. Lyons formed Negativland with his high school friend Mark Hosler when both were 17 years old, the pair releasing their self-titled debut album in 1980 with friend David Wills on their own Seeland Records label.

The band is best known for their “Christianity Is Stupid” hoax where they issued a press release stating that a mass murderer had killed his family after hearing the song of that name from their 1987 SST Records release Escape From Noise. Many media outlets picked up the story as factual and reported on it, which the band later lampooned on their 1989 album Helter Stupid. Negativland ran into some controversy when they sampled the band U2 for a 1991 EP of the same name, that band’s label Island Records suing Negativland (as did their own label, SST), leading to one of the first serious discussions of copyright in the digital age.       

George Martin (90)
Other outlets have written more eloquently about the death of Sir George Henry Martin, but we’ll gladly add our two cents. Often referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” for his groundbreaking work with the Fab Four, Martin was a British record producer, arranger, composer, musician, and audio engineer who contributed his considerable talents to all the band’s albums. Martin also produced records by a number of other artists, including Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Action, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Cheap Trick, Elton John, and Kenny Rogers, among many others. Martin also had a hand in composing film scores, including the Beatles’ movies A Hard Day’s Night and Yellow Submarine and the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die. One of a handful of producers to enjoy #1 records in three of more decades, Martin produced thirty chart topping singles in the U.K. and 23 number one hits in the U.S. from the 1960s through the ‘90s. Martin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Henry McCullough (72)
Talented Irish guitarist who first came to prominence with ’60s-era rockers Éire Apparent featuring vocalist Ernie Graham. McCullough went on to play with the Grease Band, backing Joe Cocker on the singer’s first two albums before accepting Paul McCartney’s invitation to join his new band Wings. McCullough’s guitar appears on McCartney’s 1971 album Ram and the 1973 album Red Rose Speedway. He left Wings to pursue session work while forging his own solo career, McCullough’s skilled fretwork appearing on albums by Spooky Tooth, Donovan, Frankie Miller, and Marianne Faithful, among others. As a solo artist, McCullough released eight solo and two live albums.  

Nick Menza (51)
Best known as the former drummer for thrash pioneers Megadeth, Nick Menza died on stage of an apparent heart attack during a performance by the band Ohm, which was formed by fellow Megadeth alum, guitarist Chris Poland. The son of jazz saxophonist Don Menza, Nick began playing drums at the age of two, and as a teen he kicked around as a member of a number of L.A. metal bands. Coming to the attention of Megadeth, he served three stints the band’s drummer, from 1989-98, in 2004, and one last time in 2014. Menza performed on four of Megadeth’s albums, including the groundbreaking 1990 set Rust In Peace, and 1992’s Countdown To Extinction.

George Michael's Faith
George Michael (53)
Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, better known to his fans as singer George Michael, came to prominence during the 1980s as part of the British pop band Wham! Formed with singer Andrew Ridgeley in 1981, the band scored big with its first album, 1983’s Fantastic, which shot up the charts to #1 in the U.K., the album yielding hits like “Young Guns” and “Club Tropicana.” Wham! broke through in the U.S. with their sophomore album, 1984’s Make It Big, topping the charts in both the states and the band’s homeland on the strength of its #1 single “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” The band’s future came into question after Michael enjoyed two hit solo singles, 1984’s “Careless Whisper” and 1986’s “A Different Corner.” Wham! officially broke up after the 1986 release of Music From The Edge of Heaven, which was released exclusively in North America and Japan.

Michael began his solo career with the 1987 multi-platinum smash Faith, which sold better than 20 million copies worldwide and yielded half a dozen hit singles, including the title track and “I Want Your Sex.” Michael’s solo follow-up, 1990’s Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, sold better than eight million copies worldwide, topping the charts in the U.K. and hitting number two in the U.S. The album Older was released in 1996, and while it sold over eight million copies worldwide, it failed to go Platinum™ in the U.S. Songs From The Last Century was released in 1999, selling nearly four million copies worldwide, but barely breaking 100k sales in the U.S. as Michael’s personal troubles were effecting his commercial prospects stateside. Michael remained a major star in the U.K., his final solo album, 2004’s Patience, moving over four million copies worldwide and once again topping the U.K. charts.

Michael’s drug use and problems with his sexuality resulted in several arrests and mini-scandals that threatened to derail his career more than once. Nevertheless, Michael ranks among the best-selling British artists ever and remained enormously popular, using his celebrity to headline several charity benefits. Michael earned nearly every accolade possible, including three American Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, three Brit Awards, and two Grammy™ Awards.  

Billy Miller (62)
Musician, record collector, and Norton Records label founder Billy Miller was an integral part of the American rock underground for over three decades. Along with his wife Miriam Linna, the pair first launched the fanzine Kicks in 1979, sharing their love of obscure rock ‘n’ roll with appreciative (pre-internet) readers. They formed Norton Records in 1986 as a way to share the music of fringe rockers like Hasil Adkins and Link Wray, the label reissuing rare rockabilly sides from the 1950s and ‘60s as well as obscure artists like Esquerita.

Before forming Norton, Miller and Linna performed in the rockabilly band the Zantees and later with garage rockers the A-Bones. They put most of their focus into their label’s record releases, though, researching the artists’ backgrounds to provide detailed liner notes for each album. Through the years Norton released albums by the aforementioned artists as well as the Flamin’ Groovies, the Real Kids, Flat Duo Jets, Bobby Fuller, and others. In 2009, Miller and Linna formed Kicks Books, which has published pulp fiction titles by Harlan Ellison and Royston Ellis as well as poetry by jazz legend Sun Ra, and non-fiction works by rock critic and music historian Nick Tosches and producer/musician Kim Fowley. Miller was finishing up a history of the family-owned Detroit label Fortune Records with writer Michael Hurtt at the time of his death after a lengthy battle with cancer; the book is scheduled to be published in 2017 by Kicks Books.

Chips Moman (79)
Lincoln Wayne “Chips” Moman was an American record producer, musician, and Grammy™ Award-winning songwriter best known for helping shape the sound of soul and rock music during the 1960s and ‘70s. Moman first worked for Stax Records as an audio engineer, producing the label’s first hit, the 1960 Carla Thomas song “Gee Whiz.” After a dispute with Stax founder Jim Stewart over money, Moman left the label in 1964 and launched his own Memphis-based studio, American Sound Studio.

As a producer, Moman worked with talents like Elvis Presley, Wilson Pickett, Bobby Womack, and the Box Tops, among others. As a songwriter, Moman wrote or co-wrote (with fellow Memphis legend Dan Penn) hit songs for artists like Aretha Franklin, James Carr, Waylon Jennings, and B.J. Thomas. Living for a while in Nashville, Moman made his mark on country music by producing the first (and most successful) album by country supergroup the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson) in 1985.

Scotty Moore (84)
Early rock ‘n’ roll guitarist Winfield Scott “Scotty” Moore III is best known for playing with the legendary Elvis Presley during the singer’s early years. Credited by rock critic Dave Marsh with the invention of power chording (on the 1957 Presley hit “Jailhouse Rock”), Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana performed on all of Presley’s initial hits, songs like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “That’s All Right,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Hound Dog,” the two musicians representing an integral part of Presley’s sound. Moore released a solo album in 1964 titled The Guitar That Changed The World and during the 1960s and ‘70s played on recordings by country, rock, and gospel artists. Moore is considered an extremely influential musician, providing inspiration to rockers like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, George Harrison of the Beatles, and the Yardbirds’ Jeff Beck.  

Alphonse Mouzon's Mind Transplant
Alphonse Mouzon (68)
Drummer Alphonse Mouzon first came to prominence as a founding member of the legendary jazz-fusion outfit Weather Report. Mouzon toured and recorded for the band for roughly a year, appearing on their self-titled 1971 album before departing to pursue other opportunities. Mouzon spent a couple of years as part of guitarist Larry Coryell’s band Eleventh House, performing on several albums, including 1973’s Introducing the Eleventh House and the following year’s Level One. Mouzon would later reunite with Coryell to record the 1977 album Back Together Again.

Mouzon had signed with Blue Note Records in 1972, releasing his solo debut album The Essence of Mystery. He recorded four albums for the label, the best-known and most successful of which was the 1974 set Mind Transplant, which featured rock guitarist Tommy Bolin, who had contributed to jazz drummer Billy Cobham’s album Spectrum. Mouzon’s 1980 album By All Means featured keyboardist Herbie Hancock and guitarist Lee Ritenour. Mouzon also performed with some of the biggest rock and soul stars of the 1970s and ‘80s, including Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck, and Betty Davis, among others. Mouzon formed his own independent label, Tenacious Records, in 1992 to release his album The Survivor as well as future recordings, and to reissue the best of his past albums. Mouzon’s last work was the 2011 album Angel Face.

>>> In Memoriam 2016, Part Three    

In Memoriam 2016: Prince to Bernie Worrell

Prince, Coachella 2008, coutesy Micahmedia
Prince 2008, courtesy Micahmedia
This year was absolutely brutal for musicians…in a normal year, I sadly have to write up a couple dozen ‘end-of-year’ obituaries; for 2016, I had over 70 musicians, writers, and producers to memorialize. Our “In Memoriam” feature is so large this year that I’ve broken it down into three parts. To follow is in tribute to the artists that have made the music we love…

Part One: Mose Allison to Jimmy Guterman
Part Two: Georgio Gomelsky to Alphonse Mouzon

Prince Rogers Nelson (57)
The enormous talent known simply as ‘Prince,’ the singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Price Rogers Nelson exploded onto the late ‘70s pop music scene with his brilliant 1978 debut album For You. Sure of his talents, Prince played all the instruments on the collection of funk, rock, and soul. He broke through commercially with his self-titled sophomore album in 1979, and followed quickly with Dirty Mind (1980) and Controversy (1981). It was with his fifth album, released in 1982, that he became a superstar, 1999 charting Top 10 in the U.S. on its way to selling over four million copies domestically. Prince topped his previous success with the 1984 soundtrack to his hit movie Purple Rain selling over 13 million copies stateside and over 22 million worldwide, topping the charts in the U.S. and going Top 10 in a dozen other countries.

Only Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and Michael Jackson came close to matching Prince’s commercial dominance during the 1980s, albums like Around The World In A Day (1985), Parade (1986), Sign O’ The Times (1987), and his soundtrack to the film Batman (1989) all achieving Platinum™ sales status. Prince’s commercial achievements continued well into the 1990s, and although his Graffiti Bridge (1990), Come (1994), and The Gold Experience (1995) albums failed to his Platinum™ level sales, albums like Diamonds and Pearls (1991) and Emancipation (1996) hit that status easily. During this period, Prince had a contentious relationship with his record label, Warner Brothers, which led to lawsuits and, by the end of the decade, a long anticipated split with the label.

Always prolific to a fault, music literally spilled out of Prince during the new millennium, the artist releasing fifteen full-length albums between 2001 and 2015 with enough new material allegedly stashed away in his vault for another dozen records. Much of Prince’s music during the 2000s flew under the commercial radar for all but his most faithful of fans, and the artist never really developed an independent distribution outlet for his wealth of music, either via the Internet or otherwise. A pair of albums stand out, however – 2004’s Musicology was distributed by Columbia Records and went Top 10 in the U.S. and the U.K. while selling better than two million copies stateside, while 2006’s Universal Music-distributed 3121 album topped the U.S. charts.

Interest in Prince and his music was renewed when the artist played the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI in February 2007. Performing on a large stage shaped like his symbol, the artist’s brief but dynamic stage show was seen by an estimated 140 million viewers. Prince continued to write and produce music in his own studio up until the time of his death, including a pair of 2015 albums, and his estate promises more to come. An emotionally powerful singer; an underrated guitarist; a brilliant songwriter; and a talented multi-instrumentalist, during a career that spanned five decades, Prince released 43 studio and live albums, five soundtrack albums, and numerous singles and videos, earning the artist seven Grammy™ Awards and an Academy Award for Purple Rain. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, Prince is widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, his genius touching rock, pop, R&B, and hip-hop artists to this day.

Thunderclap Newman's Hollywood Dream
Andy Newman (73)
Pianist Andy “Thunderclap” Newman was a member of the British rock band Thunderclap Newman formed by the Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend and his manager/producer Kit Lambert to record songs by the Who’s driver John “Speedy” Keen. The band was comprised of Newman, Keen on drums, and teenage guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (who would go on to play with Paul McCartney’s band Wings). Thunderclap Newman scored a single hit with the 1969 song “Something In The Air,” from the band’s critically-acclaimed album Hollywood Dream, which was produced by Townshend (who also played bass on the record under a pseudonym). After the break-up of Thunderclap Newman, the pianist recorded a 1971 solo album, Rainbow, and played on albums by George Harrison and former Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band madman Roger Ruskin Spear before retiring from music. Newman resurrected the Thunderclap Newman name for a new band in the late 2000s, recording the 2010 album Beyond Hollywood

Rick Parfitt (68)
Singer and guitarist Rick Parfitt was a member of influential British hard rock band Status Quo for nearly 50 years. The band was originally formed by guitarist Francis Rossi and bassist Alan Lancaster in 1962, first as the Scorpions and later as the Spectres. They changed the band’s name to Status Quo in 1967 when Parfitt joined, the band releasing its debut album – Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From the Status Quo – in 1968, scoring a hit out of the gate with the psychedelic classic “Pictures of Matchstick Men.” During the half-century Parfitt played guitar with the band, he performed on over 30 Status Quo albums and co-wrote some of their biggest hits like “Whatever You Want,” “Again and Again,” and “Rain.” Parfitt retired from the band in October 2016 after suffering a heart attack, and the guitarist had plans to launch a solo career at the time of his death. 

Sandy Pearlman (72)
Samuel “Sandy” Pearlman was an artist manager, music producer, and songwriter best-known for his work with the hard rock band Blue Oyster Cult. Pearlman managed the band, with Murray Krugman, from 1967 to 1995, and produced or co-produced seven BOC studio and four live albums, including the band’s 1976 commercial breakthrough, Agents of Fortune. Pearlman also produced essential works by the Clash (1978’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope), the Dictators (all three of the band’s 1970s-era albums), Pavlov’s Dog, and Dream Syndicate (1984’s Medicine Show). As a band manager, Pearlman worked with talents like Black Sabbath, the Dictators, Aldo Nova, and Romeo Void. With a career spanning several decades, Pearlman was a contributing writer for Paul Williams Crawdaddy! music zine in the 1960s and was the founding Vice President of during the 1990s.      

Blowfly's Super Blow Fly
Clarence Henry Reid a/k/a Blowfly (76)
A true American treasure, Clarence Henry Reid – better known by his stage persona “Blowfly” – was a groundbreaking American musician, songwriter, and producer famed for his sexually explicit records. Originally known as a successful songwriter and producer in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Reid wrote songs for, and produced artists like Betty Wright, Sam & Dave, KC & the Sunshine Band, and Gwen McCrae, who scored several R&B chart hits with Reid’s songs. Reid was also a recording artist who found modest success. For laughs, Reid wrote sexually explicit versions of hit songs that he performed at parties or in the studio, and in 1971 he recorded a collection of naughty parodies of hits by B.J. Thomas, Otis Redding, James Brown and others under a newly-created alter-ego, Blowfly.

The Weird World of Blowfly album found an appreciative audience, and Reid continued to record bawdy musical comedy under the Blowfly persona, cranking out better than two dozen such “party records” during his lengthy career. In later years, Reid found an entirely new audience after signing with punk legend Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label for albums like 2005’s Fahrenheit 69 and the following year’s Blowfly’s Punk Rock Party, which featured send-ups of punk rock songs by Biafra’s band the Dead Kennedys, the Ramones, Black Flag, and the Dead Boys. A documentary film was made of the artist, The Weird World of Blowfly, which was released in 2011. Arguably one of the first rap artists, Reid’s songs have been sampled by a number of hip-hop, R&B, and electronic artists including the Wu Tang Clan, Beyonce, DJ Quik, Big Daddy Kane, Mary J. Blige, and DJ Shadow. Reid died of liver cancer in January 2016, his final Blowfly album – 77 Rusty Trombones – released a month later.

Mack Rice (82)
Soul singer and songwriter Bonny “Mack” Rice (a/k/a Sir Mack Rice) is best known as the writer of the Wilson Pickett hit “Mustang Sally.” Rice scored a hit with the song in 1965, his version peaking at #15 on the R&B chart, but while the singer found modest success as a performer recording for labels like Motown, Stax, and Atco Records, his talents as a songwriter are undeniable. Rice wrote “Respect Yourself” with Luther Ingram, the song a major hit for the Staple Singers, and his songs have been recorded by artists like Ike & Tina Turner, Albert King, Etta James, the Rascals, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Buddy Guy, and Otis Clay, among others.

Matt Roberts (38)
Founding guitarist for 3 Doors Down from 1996 and 2012, Roberts left the band due to health issues. Roberts was co-writer of the band’s Top 10 hits “Kryptonite” from their 2000 debut album, The Better Life, and “When I’m Gone,” from their 2002 sophomore effort Away From The Sun.

Leon Russell 1980
Leon Russell
Leon Russell (74)
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Leon Russell is best-known for his string of early ‘70s-era hit albums and FM radio-friendly singles. Russell’s sound was pure American music, a gospel-tinged blend of boogie-woogie, blues, roots-rock, and country music that was delivered in with a unique Okie patois and vibrant piano-pounding that rivaled his former boss Jerry Lee Lewis at times. Read our complete obit

Gilli Smyth (83)
Gillian “Gilli” Smyth was an English musician and a member of the ground-breaking prog-rock outfit Gong and its various offshoot bands like Mother Gong and Planet Gong. An academic who held three degrees from King’s College in London, Smyth met long-time partner Daevid Allen while teaching in Paris. She began her career reading poetry to the music of Allen’s band Soft Machine, subsequently helping form Gong with guitarist Steve Hillage. Smyth wrote or co-wrote songs for early Gong albums like 1970’s Magick Brother and 1972’s Continental Circus. Smyth also recorded as a solo artist, releasing her debut album Mother in 1978 and Paradise, her last album, in 2012.   

Danny Smythe (67)
Danny Smythe was the original drummer for blue-eyed soul legends the Box Tops. Born in Memphis, Smythe was the last remaining member of local band the Devilles, which he’d formed in 1963. The band changed its name in 1967 to the Box Tops with the addition of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Alex Chilton. While with the Box Tops, Smythe appeared on some of the band’s biggest hits, including “The Letter” and “Cry Like A Baby,” the drummer leaving the band in 1968 after the release of the Top 30 hit “Neon Rainbow” to return to school. Smythe studied art after leaving the band, and painted murals for restaurants and hotel lobbies and was a freelance illustrator for ad agencies. The original Box Tops line-up, including Chilton, reunited in 1996, the band releasing the Tear Off! album, featuring Smythe’s cover design, in 1998. The Box Tops continued to tour until Chilton’s death in 2010.   

John Stabb (54)
John Dukes Schroeder, better known as singer ‘John Stabb,’ was a founding member of influential hardcore punk rockers Government Issue, performing as the band’s frontman through various line-ups and reunions and singing on all six of the band’s studio albums. In addition to his longtime tenure with Government Issue, Stabb also performed with bands like the Factory Incident, Emma Peel, and Betty Blue. Stabb was also a freelance writer, contributing to publications like the Washington City Paper and Forced Exposure.

Ralph Stanley (89)
American bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley was known for his distinctive vocals and innovative banjo playing. Stanley began his career in 1946, playing with his brother Carter as part of the Stanley Brothers and later as the leader of his own band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. When Carter Stanley died in 1967, Ralph went out on his own with the Clinch Mountain Boys which, at one time, included future country music stars Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley. Stanley found newfound fame when his song “O Death” was included by producer T-Bone Burnett on the soundtrack of the popular 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? The song earned the veteran bluegrass picker his first Grammy Award and Stanley continued to tour for years afterwards. Stanley was inducted into both the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and the Grand Ole Opry.

Lewie Steinberg (82)
Lewis “Lewie” Steinberg was the original bassist for Stax Records stars Booker T & the M.G.’s, performing with the band from 1962 to 1965 including on their hit “Green Onions” and the album of the same name. Born in Memphis, Steinberg also played on the M.G.’s sophomore album, Soul Dressing, after which he left the band. Steinberg was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received a Grammy™ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. 

Martin Stone (70)
Guitarist for the Action, Mighty Baby, the Pink Fairies, Snakefinger, and Savoy Brown, among others, Stone was a ‘60s-era contemporary of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page and was thought by many to be the equal in talent with those legends. Stone survived the British ‘mod’ era, moved effortlessly into the blues-rock boom of the late ‘60s, and was a major player in the early-to-mid ‘70s pub-rock scene in England, playing in the 101ers with Joe Strummer and forming beloved rockers Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. Stone gradually retired from the music business and became a book dealer in France.

David Swarbrick (75)
English folk musician and songwriter David Swarbrick is best known for his groundbreaking work with the band Fairport Convention. Swarbrick’s fiddle playing is considered the blueprint for British folk artists to follow, and his contributions to Fairport Convention albums like 1969’s Liege & Lief and 1970’s Full House are credited for keeping the band’s sound rooted to British folk tradition. Swarbrick kept the band going after the departures of Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson, the fiddle player appearing on all eleven of the band’s albums until their 1979 break-up.

After Fairport Convention, Swarbrick pursued a solo career as well as played with bands like Whippersnapper and the Ian Campbell Folk Group and with British folk legend Martin Carthy. Swarbrick was much in demand as a session player, and his raging fiddle can be heard on albums by his former bandmates Denny and Thompson, folk-rocker Al Stewart, singer Vashti Bunyan, and guitarists John Renbourne and Bert Jansch, among many others. Swarbrick suffered for years with emphysema, undergoing a double lung transplant in October 2004, subsequently returning to the road as both a solo performer and as a duo with longtime friend and collaborator Carthy. Swarbrick also reunited with early Fairport Convention members in 2007 to perform Liege & Lief live. Swarbrick released almost a dozen solo albums during his lengthy career, and is credited with playing on almost 160 more; his influence on traditional British music is undeniable.      

Jerome Teasley (67)
A member of the Motown Hall of Fame, drummer Jerome Teasley toured for years with Junior Walker & the All Stars. Teasley also worked with Al Green, playing on the singer’s 1967 debut album, as well as jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt, guitarist Jimi Hendrix, and soul singers Wilson Pickett and Tina Turner.

Toots Thielmans photo by Ron van der Kolk
Toots Thielmans photo by Ron van der Kolk
Toots Thielemans (94)
Born in Belgium, Toots Thielemans was a legend in jazz music known for his innovative harmonica playing as well as his underrated guitar skills. Thielemans’ first professional performances were with Benny Goodman’s band during their 1949/50 European tour. Thielemans emigrated to the United States in 1951 and became a citizen in 1957, during which time he mostly played with pianist George Shearing’s band. Thielemans released his solo debut album, The Sound, in 1955 and would lead his own bands during the 1960s, subsequently releasing several albums.

During the 1970s and ‘80s, Thielemans recorded and toured with such talents as Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Pat Metheny, and Jaco Pastorius as well as sporadically releasing his own material. During this time, he also became an in-demand session player, and Thielemans’ magic harp can be heard on records by Billy Joel, Julian Lennon, Paul Simon, and Quincy Jones. Thielemans also recorded a number of movie soundtracks throughout the years, including Midnight Cowboy, Cinderella Liberty, The Wiz, and French Kiss, among others, and his theme to the television show Sesame Street was heard by viewers for over 40 years. 

Peter Tolson (64)
Guitarist Peter Tolson was a member of legendary British rockers the Pretty Things from 1970 through 1980 or so, through several break-ups and rosters of the band, appearing on the albums Freeway Madness, Silk Torpedo, Savage Eye, and Cross Talk. Prior to his stint with the Pretties, Tolson had been guitarist for cult rockers Éire Apparent, and afterwards he formed the band Metropolis with bassist Jack Green. He would later play behind Green on his first two solo albums. Tolson would later reunite with late ‘60s/early ‘70s era Pretty Things members Jon Povey, Wally Waller, and Skip Allan as xPTs in 2009 to remake the band’s classic Parachute album.

Jimmie Van Zant (60)
Jimmie Kelsay was the illegitimate son of E.C. Van Zant, who was the uncle of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie and Johnny Van Zant. He took up guitar and piano as a child, helped by his cousin Ronnie, but didn’t take up music professionally until the 1977 plane crash that killed his cousin. Adopting his father’s last name, Jimmie released his Southern rock debut album, The Jimmie Van Zant Band, in 1996, following it up with 2000’s Southern Comfort LP. Van Zant toured constantly with his band, performing better than 200 shows annually. Van Zant released his third and final album, Feels Like Freedom, in 2012.

Alan Vega's Alan Vega LP
Alan Vega (78)
Born Boruch Alan Bermowitz, but known to New York City’s CBGB’s crowd as Alan Vega, he was a singer and visual artist best known as one-half of the groundbreaking electronic punk duo Suicide. Along with partner Martin Rev, Suicide pioneered the use of minimalist electronic instrumentation and primitive drum machines. They preceded the late ‘70s punk scene by better than a half decade, but were readily embraced for the raucous nature of their performances. Suicide may have provided a musical blueprint for the post-punk, synth-pop, techno, and electronic music that followed during the 1980s and ‘90s, but Vega also enjoyed a significant and influential solo career. His rockabilly-tinged self-titled 1980 debut album was the first of over a dozen albums to follow, and throughout the span of his solo career Vega worked with talents like Ric Ocasek (The Cars), Al Jourgensen (Ministry), Alex Chilton, Ben Vaughan, Lydia Lunch, and Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle/Psychick TV).

Don Waller (65)
Music journalist, publisher, and singer Don Waller co-published the Los Angeles based music zine Back Door Man as well as contributed to music publications like Spin, Mojo, and Creem, trade papers Radio & Records and Billboard, and newspapers like Detroit’s Metro Times and the Los Angeles Times. Waller fronted the proto-punk band the Imperial Dogs, wrote a bunch of album liner notes and, in 1985, published his history of Motown Records called The Motown Story.

Maurice White (74)
American singer, songwriter, musician, and producer Maurice White is best known as the founder of legendary R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire. The older brother of EW&F member Verdine White and former member Fred White, during his tenure with EW&F, Maurice was the band’s main songwriter and producer, and shared lead singer duties with Philip Bailey. From its founding in 1970, Earth, Wind & Fire has won six Grammy™ Awards and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the band’s unique mix of R&B, funk, soul, jazz, and pop music.

White was a session drummer for Chess Records and a former member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio when he hooked up with two friends, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, as a songwriting team. As the Salty Peppers, the trio signed with Capitol Records and scored a regional hit with the 1969 song “La La Time.” When a second single flopped, White moved from Chicago to Los Angeles and formed Earth, Wind & Fire. Signing with Warner Brothers Records, the band found only modest success; after moving to Columbia Records, their second album for the label (and fourth overall), 1973’s Head To The Sky broke into the Top 30. EW&F’s Open Our Eyes (1974) inched even higher on the charts, and with 1975’s classic That’s The Way of The World, the band went multi-Platinum™.

A string of million-selling albums would follow well into the 1980s, and White released a self-titled solo album in 1985 that would be a modest hit. White developed Parkinson’s disease during the late ‘80s and retired from touring with EW&F in 1994, although he kept control of the band. White also made a name for himself as a top notch producer during the 1980s and ‘90s, producing albums by Deniece Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Neil Diamond, and the Emotions, among others, and he lent his talents to scores of recordings by artists like Minnie Riperton, Weather Report, Barbara Streisand, and Cher.

James Woolley (50)
Keyboardist for Nine Inch Nails circa 1991 to ’94, James Woolley first came to prominence as a musical collaborator with Chicago industrial rock band Die Warzau. Woolley toured with NIN during the band’s 1991 Lollapalooza Tour, playing keys and synthesizer, and again on the band’s 1994 Self Destruct Tour. Woolley also contributed to the band Sister Machine Gun’s 1994 album The Torture Technique and toured in 1978 with former Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford’s short-lived band 2wo, which included Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5. Woolley earned a Grammy™ Award with NIN in 1993 for “Best Metal Performance” for the band’s song “Wish” from their EP Broken

Bernie Worrell 1998, courtesy MikaV
Bernie Worrell 1998, courtesy MikaV
Bernie Worrell (72)
Keyboardist George Bernard “Bernie” Worrell, Jr. was an innovative and influential musician and songwriter best known as a founding member of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Parliament-Funkadelic. Worrell’s imaginative keyboards can be heard on such classic Funkadelic albums as Free Your Mind…and Your Ass Will Follow (1970), Maggot Brain (1971), Cosmic Slop (1973), and One Nation Under A Groove (1978) as well as essential Parliament albums as Chocolate City and Mothership Connection (both 1975).

When bandleader George Clinton decided that Parliament-Funkadelic would take a hiatus from touring in the 1980s, Worrell toured and recorded with rockers like Adrian Belew and Talking Heads. The keyboardist co-produced the 1984 solo album from the B52’s Fred Schneider, and during the 1980’s and ‘90s, Worrell performed on records by Bill Laswell’s Praxis, Jack Bruce, Fela Kuti, Ginger Baker, and Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) as well as releasing a number of solo albums. Worrell hooked up with Primus bassist Les Claypool and guitarist Buckethead as Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains during the early ‘00s, and kept busy with various musical collaborations until his death.

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