Friday, January 19, 2018

Short Rounds: Ethiopian & His All Stars, Gladiators, Moloch & Phil Seymour (2018)

Ethiopian & His All Stars' The Return of Jack Sparrow
New album releases in 150 words or less…

Ethiopian & His All Stars – The Return of Jack Sparrow (Omnivore Recordings)
Singer Leonard Dillon (“Jack Sparrow”) was frontman of 1960s-era reggae group the Ethiopians, which experienced some success in Jamaica. By the late ‘70s, tho’, Dillon was a solo artist then known as the Ethiopian and 1987’s The Return of Jack Sparrow (the title a callback to his original nickname) was recorded with the cream of the island’s instrumentalists, but never released when the label ran out of cash. Omnivore Recordings recently grabbed up the Nighthawk Records catalog and promptly released the LP for the first time. A hearty blend of traditional reggae, ska, and dub remixes – including remakes of several Ethiopian tracks –Dillon’s voice is in fine form here, whether revisiting his foot-shuffling hit “Train To Skaville” or trying out new material like the mesmerizing “Straight On Rastafari” or the R&B-tinged “Slender Thread.” The intermittent dub versions of songs provide a welcome shot of adrenaline to a pleasingly laid-back collection. Grade: A   BUY IT!

Gladiators' Full Time
Gladiators – Full Time (Omnivore Recordings)
As part of their restoration of the Nighthawk Records catalog, Omnivore has rescued the Gladiators’ 1995 Full Time LP from obscurity and making it available to a larger audience. A compilation of sorts culled from the band’s trio of ‘80s-era albums for the defunct reggae label, Full Time is nevertheless a solid collection of mesmerizing, dub-tinged reggae. Fronted by singer/guitarist Albert Griffiths, whose pipes remind of Peter Tosh from that other reggae outfit, Gladiators’ performances often feature vocal harmonies provided by bassist Clinton Fearon and guitarist Gallimore Sutherland. With Clinton Rufus providing subtle albeit innovative lead guitar and with a solid rhythm section, Gladiators prove with tunes like “Ship Without A Captain,” the transcendent “One Love,” or the gorgeous “I’m Not Crying” that they were a self-contained, creative, cutting-edge reggae harmony band on par with the Mighty Diamonds or the pre-stardom Wailers.  Grade: A   BUY IT!

Moloch's Moloch
Moloch – Moloch (Stax Records)
Like Motown attempted with their Rare Earth imprint, so too did Memphis soul giants Stax Records try to grab some of that sweet rock ‘n’ roll cash with recordings from Big Star and UK progsters Skin Alley released on their Enterprise subsidiary. Local lads Moloch, featuring phenomenal guitarist Lee Baker, released a single self-titled 1969 album for Enterprise that went nowhere, disappearing until this über-cool 2016 vinyl reissue. A hard-rockin’ blues band, Moloch transcended the Clapton/Cream blueprint by incorporating Fred Nicholson’s uranium-weight keyboards into songs years before Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. Baker cranks molten riffs while singer Gene Wilkins does his best Jack Bruce impersonation on a rock-solid collection of bluesy jams penned by producer Don Nix, a Memphis legend. Moloch’s performance of Nix’s “Going Down” offers an incendiary, exotic reading that stands proud among a thousand covers. Period blues-rock fans will dig this overlooked relic of the era. Grade: A   BUY IT!

Phil Seymour's Prince of Power Pop
Phil Seymour – Prince of Power Pop (Big Beat Records)
Phil Seymour was an integral part of power-pop legends the Dwight Twilley Band, singing and co-writing with longtime friend Twilley. Breaking up after Shelter Records crashed and burned after just two albums, Seymour launched a modestly successful solo career mining much the same ‘60s-influenced pop-rock musical territory as his former band. Seymour scored a Top 30 hit with the lovely “Precious To Me” from his 1980 solo debut, faring less well when his 1982 sophomore effort fell victim to Boardwalk Records falling apart. Prince of Power Pop is a fine tho’ incomplete career retrospective that includes just six songs from Seymour’s debut and only two from his second LP. The selling point here is eleven previously-unreleased tracks recorded in 1980 with Seymour’s touring band, all of ‘em red-hot and ready to rock; covers of Bobby Fuller’s “Let Her Dance” and Twilley’s “Looking For The Magic” should-have-been monster radio hits. Grade: B+   BUY IT!

Previously on That Devil Music:
Short Rounds, December 2017 - Flat Duo Jets, Focus, The Original Blues Brothers Band, Uriah Heep & John Wetton
Short Rounds, November 2017 - Tommy Castro, NRBQ, Radio Moscow & the Replacements
Short Rounds, October 2017 - Action Skulls, Arthur Adams, the Nighthawks & UFO 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bootleg Rodeo: The Byrds, Midnight Oil & Poco

The Byrds' Pretty Boy Floyd
#5 – January 2018

Thanks to the vagaries created by loopholes in international copyright law, it seems that live music from the 1970s – particularly FM radio broadcasts – are fair game for release on CD by dodgy European labels. The situation is a godsend for rock ‘n’ roll fans, who now have access to budget recordings by their favorite artists that were only previously available as higher-priced bootleg titles.

Not all of these so-called “copyright gap” releases are worth your time and money, however, which is where That Devil Music’s “Bootleg Rodeo” comes into play. This monthly (give or take) column aims to separate the wheat from the chaff and let you know which of these recordings deserve a place in your collection and which should have been left to collect dust in a closet somewhere. Get ‘em while you can, kiddies, ‘cause one never knows when copyright treaties will be revised and the availability of these albums disappears.

For this month’s “Bootleg Rodeo” column, the first in a couple of months, the Reverend reviews recent releases by the Byrds, Midnight Oil, and Poco with links to buy ‘em (or not) from

The Byrds – Pretty Boy Floyd (Digital Legends)
Now the Reverend realizes as much as any home taper/tape trader that the further back you go in rock ‘n’ roll history, available recordings are harder to listen to due to primitive technology that resulted in shabby recordings. It seems that the basically anonymous Digital Legends label is vying with Laser Media to see who can sell the crappiest-sounding concert discs to rabid fans, and this unsourced 1971 performance by the trailblazing Byrds is one of the worse CDs, sonically, that these poor ears have ever heard (and I used to review bootleg CDs for Live! Music Review zine back in the day). Credited only to “Radio Broadcast, N.Y. 1971,” the Byrds’ Pretty Boy Floyd sounds like a poor audience taping mastered from old vinyl than anything that (presumably) WLIR-FM would have broadcast.

‘Tis a shame, too, ‘cause if the date of the performance is to be believed, the 1971 concert documented by Pretty Boy Floyd probably falls somewhere between 1970’s wonderful Untitled LP and 1971’s underrated Byrdmaniax album. The band line-up at the time included singer/guitarist Roger McGuinn, the enormously talented multi-instrumentalist Clarence White, bassist Skip Battin, and drummer Gene Parsons. The track list here draws heavily from Untitled, including gems like “Lover of the Bayou,” “Truck Stop Girl,” and the sublime “Chestnut Mare.” Only a single track is from Byrdmaniax – a lovely cover of Jackson Browne’s “Jamaica Say You Will” – and there are the expected performances of “My Back Pages” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” as well as an “Eight Miles High Jam.”

The band’s performance is spirited and quite entertaining, but the cavernous sound buries the vox and instrumentation in the depths of the mix, and there’s little definition provided White’s charming fretwork and the Byrds’ trademark vocal harmonies. You’d be much better off buying a copy of Sundazed’s Live At The Royal Albert Hall 1971, which features the same band line-up, it sounds better, and the CD offers a total of 19 songs instead of the dozen songs on Pretty Boy Floyd. The Rev’s recommendation: forget about it!

Midnight Oil – Live On Air (Laser Media)
I’ve frequently slagged Laser Media for the crappy sound of their concert CDs and, to be honest, Live On Air isn’t much different in sonic quality than the dreck typically released by the label. The sound is marginally better than previous Laser Media releases I’ve heard, or maybe Midnight Oil simply transcend the shabby source tape and lazy mixing endemic to many live discs of dodgy provenance. Midnight Oil’s Live On Air captures a truly electrifying performance by the Australian band; claiming to be an “official radio broadcast” from 1984, that would place the concert preserved by Live On Air sometime after the release of 1982’s highly-rocking 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and before 1984’s Red Sails In the Sunset album.

Eight of the twelve tracks here are from the 1982 LP, and while I’m not sure whether this CD is sourced from an Australian radio broadcast or some sort of label showcase aired on American FM (Midnight Oil was barely known in the U.S. in 1984 even if they were signed to Columbia Records), the CD’s sound is a notch below horrible, but at least frontman Peter Garrett’s vocals jump out at from the sonic muck while the guitars of Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey slice through the fog with all the ferocity of the hungry rockers they were at the time. There were a lot of great songs on 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 including “Power and the Passion” and the politically-charged “Short Memory,” both of which received significant college radio airplay back in the day. Tunes like “Scream In Blue,” “Outside World,” and “No Time For Games” ain’t chopped liver, though, and earlier band material like “Written In The Heart” (from the 1981 LP Place Without A Postcard), with its jagged, angular guitar licks or the chaotic rocker “Stand In Line” (from 1979’s Head Injuries) both display a different facet of the band’s talents.

I was lucky enough to see Midnight Oil perform in Nashville at the notorious Cannery venue. The band was touring in support of their 1990 album Blue Sky Mining and was still riding high on the strength of their Platinum™-selling 1987 U.S. breakthrough LP Diesel and Dust. The club was packed and the temperature well over 100 degrees – hotter than the Outback said Peter Garrett – but the band kicked out the jams nonetheless. The sound quality of Live On Air sucks a wallaby’s bum, but the band’s performance is pure dynamite and the CD offers Midnight Oil during a little-documented period of their career. The Rev’s recommendation: buy it!

Poco's Live at Columbia Studios, Hollywood
Poco – Live at Columbia Studios, Hollywood 30/9/71 (Retroworld Records)
Unlike the aforementioned Laser Media and Digital Legends labels, Retroworld is a bona fide legit operation and although they’ve released a few questionable titles over the past couple of years, the consumer is fairly well assured of getting a consistent sonic product. For Poco’s Live at Columbia Studios, Hollywood 30/9/71 the label licensed the masters directly from the band’s longtime label home, Epic Records. This live-in-the-studio performance dates to September 1971, which puts it around the time when the band’s third studio album, From The Inside, was released. The first album to feature guitarist Paul Cotton in the wake of original band member Jim Messina’s departure (to form the uber-successful Loggins & Messina), the band at the time also included frontman Richie Furay, pedal steel wizard Rusty Young (who keeps the band going today), bassist Timothy B. Schmit, and drummer George Grantham.

An underrated period of a rich decade that saw Poco release ten critically-acclaimed albums to mixed commercial success (only 1973’s Crazy Eyes would chart Top 40), Live at Columbia Studios features a half-dozen tracks off From The Inside, including the spry “Hoe Down”; Paul Cotton’s lovely, intricate “Bad Weather” and the rockin’ “Railroad Days”; and the album’s ill-fated lone single “Just For Me and You,” a gorgeous mid-tempo ballad that only climbed as high as #110 on the charts. The classic “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” is woven into a charming medley with “Hard Luck” and Buffalo Springfield’s “Child’s Claim To Fame,” the band sounding a lot like Crosby, Stills & Nash, while “C’mon,” the closest thing that Poco had to a hit single at the time, is provided a lengthy and electrifying instrumental jam.

Professionally-recorded, sound quality on Poco’s Live at Columbia Studios is befitting what is essentially a major label archive release, and despite the CD’s import status, fans can pick up a copy for a reasonable price online. Displaying the sort of pioneering country-rock sound with pop undertones that was Poco’s trademark, Live at Columbia Studios is a worthy addition to the band’s extensive catalog. The Rev’s recommendation: buy it!

Previous Columns:
Bootleg Rodeo #1 - Tom Petty, Carlos Santana/John Lee Hooker, George Thorogood & the Destroyers 

Bootleg Rodeo #2 - Tom Petty, Stephen Stills & Manasass, Neil Young
Bootleg Rodeo #3 - Bob Seger
Bootleg Rodeo #4 - The Marshall Tucker Band, Steely Dan & Joe Walsh 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Beat Legend Allen Ginsberg’s Howl on Vinyl!

Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems vinyl box set

Legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg is known for his classic 1956 debut Howl and Other Poems, a thin but influential collection of innovative poetry that would inspire a generation of artists, including Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and Joe Strummer of the Clash. The collected poems rail against U.S. conformity and commercialism with an unprecedented creative voice and raw language that would turn the literary world on its collective head. Published by the forward-thinking City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, Howl would be banned for obscenity and City Lights publisher (and fellow poet) Lawrence Ferlinghetti and bookstore manager Shig Murao were both jailed for selling the book. The collection represented one of the first important battles for free speech, a fight that raged well into the 1960s and ‘70s, with a judge finally lifting the ban and declaring the poem “Howl” to possess sufficient artistic value to qualify for First Amendment protection.

On February 23rd, 2018 Craft Recordings – the catalog division of Concord Music – will release a deluxe vinyl box set celebrating Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems. Pressed on translucent red vinyl, the LP reproduces the original 1959 album of Ginsberg reading his poems and the set includes a copy of the book as well as other ephemera like a photo of Ginsberg from the 1950s and a booklet that includes new liner notes by Beat scholar Ann Charters and notes by poet Ann Waldman. To celebrate the album’s release, San Francisco’s legendary City Lights Booksellers will host a reception on February 22nd at 7:00 PM. The event, which will be open to the public, will feature readings and statements by Ann Charters, San Francisco’s Poet Laureate Kim Shuck, poet and author Neeli Cherkovski, City Lights’ Poetry Editor Garrett Caples, and box set producer Bill Belmont.

Buy the vinyl from Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems

Friday, January 12, 2018

Archive Review: The Yardbirds' Ultimate!

The Yardbirds' Ultimate!
One of the truly legendary bands in rock music, it's nevertheless been very difficult for the average music fan to assemble any sort of coherent Yardbirds' collection. Back in the '60s heyday of the band, the original British versions of their albums were sliced and diced, mixed and matched, and then re-titled for release stateside. Cut-out during the '70s, collectors paid premium prices for rare copies of the Yardbirds' vinyl. During the CD era, albums disappeared and reappeared with unpredictable reliability and "greatest hits" collections, often slapped together by unscrupulous fly-by-night labels, proliferated. A lot of great music got misplaced, until the recent release of Ultimate! by Rhino Records.

For younger music fans that want to know what all the brouhaha over the Yardbirds is about, look no further than Ultimate! The two-CD, 52-track boxed collection includes an enormous booklet filled with rare photos, song credits and comprehensive liner notes and history provided by late musician/collector/authority Cub Koda. It's the music that does the talking on Ultimate!, however, the Yardbirds kicking out an original and groundbreaking mix of blues and riff-oriented blues-rock during their five-year lifespan. The band was blessed during its brief existence with not one but three – count 'em – three superstar six-string talents. Eric Clapton contributed guitar duties for one of the earliest incarnations of the band, leaving after a year and a half to be replaced by Jeff Beck. Jimmy Page joined the band as a bass player; later moving to guitar in a twin-guitar version of the band before taking over solo duties upon Beck's departure.

The Yardbirds' Ultimate!

Ultimate! pieces together a chronological history of the Yardbirds, beginning with early Clapton-led singles and other material recorded under the direction of original manager/producer Giorgio Gomelsky. The Gomelsky "era" stretches across the first disc and includes some of Clapton's legendary original contributions to the band. Highlights include covers of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" and the Ernie K-Doe hit "A Certain Girl" as well as live tracks taken from the band's debut album Five Live Yardbirds. The classic hit single "For Your Love" proved to be Clapton's swansong, the guitarist leaving the band in a huff over the song's commercial sound.

When Clapton departed to pursue a purer shade of blue with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Jeff Beck was recruited and joined the Yardbirds as his replacement. It proved to be a match made in heaven – Beck's improvisational six-string wizardry found a perfect chemistry with frontman Keith Relf's passionate vocals and inspired harp playing. This would be the most successful period of the band's career, as they cranked out chart-topping hits like "Heart Full of Soul," "Shapes of Things," and "Over Under Sideways Down." There were plenty of other great tunes, though, such as the rollicking B-side instrumental "Jeff's Boogie" or a raucous cover of "The Train Kept A Rollin'" recorded at Sam Phillip's Recording Service in Memphis. Beck's maniacal use of feedback, distortion, echo and fuzz created a trademark sound for the band and paved the way for a thousand-and-one late '60s garage bands to delve into psychedelica, heavy metal and endless instrumental jams.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor

Bassist and "musical director" Paul Samwell-Smith left the Yardbirds in 1966 to pursue a successful career as a producer, working with talents like Cat Stevens and Jethro Tull. Jimmy Page was brought in to play bass, taking over six-string duties on tour during a Beck absence. The Beck/Page line-up only recorded a couple of singles, most notably "Stroll On" from the movie Blow-Up and the single "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," which also featured future Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul.

The Page-led Yardbirds kicked out some interesting tuneage, working with new manager Peter Grant and superstar Britpop producer Mickey Most, moving into a less bluesy and more complex psychedelic-influenced era. Page's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" was a fascinating slice of pop-rock while the acoustic-instrumental "White Summer" was an energetic artistic predecessor to Led Zeppelin's experimentation with British folk and Middle Eastern melodies. The Harry Nilsson composition "Ten Little Indians" is a chaotic delight while "Drinking Muddy Water" sounds like the Chicago blues as filtered through London's Marquee Club. Ultimate! also adds three solo recordings from Yardbirds' vocalist Keith Relf.

The Reverend's Bottom Line

Over the course of seven albums, the Yardbirds earned a legacy as one of the true seminal bands in rock 'n' roll history. Their musical contributions to the genre still sound alive and vibrant thirty-five years after the fact. The band also served as an important predecessor to the formation of Led Zeppelin, arguably the most important and successful rock band of the '70s.

If I had one complaint with this set, it is in the lack of material from the band's collaboration with blues giant Sonny Boy Williamson, an inspired album that predated the superstar-laden London Sessions albums by Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf by a decade. Ultimate! nonetheless provides a fine history of the band, an important collection that should please both hardcore collectors and new listeners alike. (Rhino Records, released July 31, 2001)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™

Monday, January 8, 2018

CD Review: Alex Chilton's A Man Called Destruction (2017)

Alex Chilton's A Man Called Destruction
By the time that he returned to Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee during the summer of 1994, Alex Chilton had already enjoyed a tumultuous and storied career. Joining blue-eyed soul band the Box Tops at the young age of 16, Chilton experienced the highs of the record biz as the band scored late ‘60s hits with classic songs like “The Letter,” “Soul Deep,” and “Cry Like A Baby.” After a brief foray exploring the possibilities of solo work, Chilton formed power-pop legends Big Star with like-minded musicians Chris Bell, Andy Hummel, and Jody Stephens. Big Star would deliver a pair of critically-acclaimed albums in 1972’s #1 Record and 1974’s Radio City (a third Big Star album would be released in 1978, years after the band’s break-up), but when commercial success seemed out of reach, Chilton re-started his solo career.

To say that Alex Chilton’s solo career was “checkered” is in no way an exaggeration. As Big Star’s posthumous influence and reputation grew and inspired bands like the Posies, the Replacements, and R.E.M., among many others, expectations soared whenever Chilton sojourned into the recording studio. For every acclaimed effort like 1985’s Feudalist Tarts there would be a sloppy, undisciplined work such as 1979’s Like Flies On Sherbet, Chilton often recording doomed, anarchistic and anachronistic albums for European labels charmed by his legend. Chilton even took a brief hiatus from music in the early ‘80s, washing dishes in a New Orleans restaurant, returning only to subsume his identity as a (mostly) anonymous member of Tav Falco’s Panther Burns. Chilton had largely beaten his personal demons by the time he went home and recorded A Man Called Destruction, and the long out-of-print gem has finally been restored to the Chilton catalog.

Alex Chilton’s A Man Called Destruction

A Man Called Destruction is every bit as eclectic as the artist that recorded it, Chilton mixing up the rockin’ style of R&B that he’d perfected with the Box Tops with Big Star-styled power-pop and elements of blues, soul, gospel, and country music. Featuring original material as well as covers from Chilton’s big book of favorites, A Man Called Destruction was recorded with old friends like bassist Ron Easley and drummer Ron Garrison as well as a brace of local Memphis studio pros like keyboardists Al Gamble and Charlie Hodges and saxophonist Jim Spake. The result was an engaging, if often-confusing collection of sounds, none of them anywhere close to resembling “contemporary” in 1995, a year during which hip-hop and alt-rock ruled the charts.

For instance, Chilton’s cover of the Fats Domino hit “Sick and Tired” (originally written and recorded by Louisiana native Chris Kenner) skews towards a New Orleans big band sound, with a jazz-flecked rhythm track providing locomotion behind Chilton’s spirited Mardi Gras vocals. The original “Devil Girl” got plenty of college radio airplay back in the day, the song’s low-slung groove, sultry lyrics, and smoky vocal delivery matched with syncopated rhythms and Chilton’s skronky, chaotic fretwork. I never cared much for the loopy “What’s Your Sign Girl,” Chilton’s fatback guitarplay outshining his goofy vocals, but a cover of his pal Keith Keller’s “Lies” is a muscular rocker with explosive percussion and blistering six-string work.


Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have To Go” is provided a reverent, bluesy reading with Chilton’s surprisingly skillful harp playing. The instrumental “Boplexity” is a wild, swinging affair, with Charlie Hodges’ excited keyboard-pounding and Chilton’s mighty fine chicken-pickin’ reminding these ears of Booker T & the M.G.’s trailblazing mix of blues, jazz, and R&B whereas a cover of the Jan & Dean B-side “New Girl In School” is appropriately whimsical, Chilton delivering his best Brian Wilson vocal impersonation while an extended guitar solo moves the surf-pop ditty dangerously close to leather-clad garage-rock turf. “Don’t Know Anymore” is a jazzy, late-night dirge with more than a little blues in the grooves, sparking some flashy guitar licks and accompanied by icy blasts of horn.

The album-ending “Don’t Stop” is the kind of power-pop creation that Chilton defined with Big Star – melodic, but with ramshackle guitar and the sort of joyous sonic construction that would inspire a hundred bands in the 1980s and ‘90s. The Omnivore Recordings reissue of A Man Called Destruction tacks seven previously-unreleased bonus songs onto the original track list, including an outtake of “Devil Girl” with double-tracked vocals that heighten the song’s surrealistic malevolence. Chilton’s original “You’re My Favorite” is a rockabilly-tinged romper-stomper with exhilarating guitar riffs and propulsive rhythms while “Please Pass Me My Walkin’ Shoes” is a similarly-flavored 1950s throwback with a Carl Perkins heart and a Chicago blues soul that features raucous fretwork and an overall reckless vibe. A mash-up of the flighty “Why Should I Care” – a jazzy pastiche of British dancehall rhythms – with the somber, dark-hued “It’s Your Funeral” is not as odd a pairing as one might think at first, two sides of the same coin as it were.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

One of Alex Chilton’s final studio albums, A Man Called Destruction can also easily be considered one of his best recordings overall. Chilton’s joyful performances at Ardent Studios provide insight into his love of music of all stripes while spotlighting his vastly underrated guitar skills. The cult rocker seldom sounded as happy, inspired, and motivated as he does playing on these tracks, Chilton willing to discard the mythology that had grown up around him like so much kudzu vine to simply play what his heart desired, and the results speak for themselves. Eclectic it may be, but A Man Called Destruction displays Chilton’s immense if often-unused talents like few albums in the artist’s catalog, bolstering his status as the man who launched a musical revolution with the sound of his guitar and expressive vocals. Grade: A (Omnivore Recordings, released August 24, 2017)

Buy the CD from Alex Chilton’s A Man Called Destruction

Also on That Devil
Big Star’s Nothing Can Hurt Me movie review
Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos CD review

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book Review: Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk's Rolling Stones Gear (2014)

Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk's Rolling Stones Gear
Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk spent better than three decades together in the legendary “psychedelic blues” outfit the Chesterfield Kings. During this time, the band recorded almost a dozen albums and spent several thousand nights on the road, but their best performance to date may be the creation of Rolling Stones Gear. A massive, oversized, thick 672-page, profusely-illustrated hardback book, Rolling Stones Gear is pricey ($60 list, $45 retail online) but essential for any Stones fan or music gearhead, delivering more than its cover price in history and information.

Aside from their hands-on experience playing in one of the most underrated American rock ‘n’ roll bands of the 1980s and ‘90s, these two writers are eminently qualified to pen Rolling Stones Gear. A few years ago, Babiuk published Beatles Gear, a similarly massive tome that offered insight into “All the Fab Four’s Gear From Stage to Studio,” the book becoming a surprise best-seller. Babiuk is also a world-renowned authority on vintage guitars and the owner of Andy Babiuk’s Fab Gear, a boutique guitar store located near Rochester, New York.

Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk’s Rolling Stones Gear

Greg Prevost, of course, should need no introduction – we reviewed his Universal Vagrant album a couple years ago. Aside from Prevost’s lengthy stint at the front of the Chesterfield Kings, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist is a well-respected music journalist, with material published in dozens of magazines and music fanzines worldwide, including Shindig! (U.K.) and Ugly Things. Prevost is considered an authority on 1960s and ‘70s era rock and blues music, and is well-known as a rabid Rolling Stones fan.

Together, Prevost and Babiuk have put together a truly beautiful book, Rolling Stones Gear offering more than just a mere overview of the band’s instruments through the years. The book provides a lengthy and insightful history of the Stones’ half-century of making rock ‘n’ roll, from in-depth writing on the band’s formation in 1962 and background on all the Stones’ individual members to early musical influences and supporters like Alexis Korner, arguably the founding father of the British blues-rock scene.

As mentioned above, Rolling Stones Gear includes hundreds of B&W and color photos – many rare, many previously unpublished – of various instruments, album and magazine covers, band performance shots, and other flotsam and jetsam from one of the most notorious careers in rock music. With detailed documentation of the gear used by the band on every song they recorded (including demo recordings and out-takes), as well as their frequent high-profile (and lucrative tours), Rolling Stones Gear outlines the storied history of the band with enthusiasm and energy.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Featuring brilliant printing and reproduction of its lush photos, Rolling Stones Gear is simply gorgeous, a look befitting the love and labor that went into the creation of the prose that accompanies the intriguing and often informative graphics. Rolling Stones Gear is a hall of fame worthy collection, a fine document of the classic band’s story that would appeal to both the casual fan and any aficionado of vintage musical instruments. As for the hardcore Stones fan, it goes without saying...they’re going to want this book! (Backbeat Books, released January 1, 2014)

Review originally published in slightly different form by Blues

Buy the book from Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk’s Rolling Stones Gear

Ben Vaughn’s Instrumental Stylings coming on Vinyl!

Ben Vaughn’s Instrumental Stylings
Instrumental Stylings is an often-overlooked gem in the catalog of rocker Ben Vaughan, the 1995 collection of original material spanning the breadth of Vaughan’s talents as a songwriter and musician. The album provided Vaughan’s entry into the world of TV and film scoring, and he would become the Music Supervisor for the award-winning comedy Third Rock From The Sun, penning the show’s quirky theme song, and would later work on the hit That 70s Show, which opened the door to a number of scoring opportunities. Vaughn also worked as a producer, working on albums by rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers and R&B giant Arthur Alexander as well as his collaboration with Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Suicide’s Alan Vega, Cubist Blues.

On January 26th, 2018, Bar/None Records will reissue Vaughn’s Instrumental Stylings for the first time on glorious ebony vinyl. The new release includes a download card with the complete album as well as four bonus tracks, including one featuring singer Dean Ween. The critically-acclaimed album has received numerous glowing reviews through the years, perhaps none better than that published by All Music Guide. AMG critic Stanton Swihart writes “Instrumental Stylings is not a soundtrack album, but it certainly tackles its fair share of instrumental touchstones. Vaughn shies away from no genre: bone-crunching surf, spaghetti western, drag-strip stompers, country-blues boogie, Italian soundtrack, breezy bossa nova, Tex-Mex cowboy ballads, noir Indian music, and numerous mix-and-match hybrids thereof.”

In the past 20+ years, Ben Vaughan has continued his career as a musician, producer, and composer, providing music for TV shows like Men Behaving Badly and Grounded For Life and films like Psycho Beach Party and The Independent. Vaughan has also produced albums by his friends Ween, Los Straitjackets, Mark Olson (The Jayhawks), and Nancy Sinatra as well as the soundtrack to the film Swingers. He has also released a number of albums since Instrumental Stylings, the most recent being 2016’s Piece De Resistance. Vaughan also hosts his own syndicated radio show, The Many Moods of Ben Vaughan when he’s not on the road touring. You can check Vaughan’s website to find a station airing his program. In the meantime, pick up a vinyl copy of Instrumental Stylings from

Friday, January 5, 2018

Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest box set

Craft Recordings – the catalog division of Concord Music – has announced the upcoming release of Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest. The whopping six-CD box will be available on February 9th, 2018 and will feature a wealth of long-gotten single B-sides and other rarities exploring the legendary record label’s explorations in rock, pop, blues, soul, and gospel music from 1960-1975.

Offering recordings from the catalogs of both Craft and Rhino Records, who jointly control Stax’s masters, Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest features four new in-depth essays by music journalist Lee Hildebrand, writer and music historian Alec Palao, and box set co-producers Bill Belmont and Rob Bowman, who is also the author of the excellent Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax Records. This fourth volume of material from the Stax vaults follows box sets released in 1991, 1994, and 1994 and takes a look beyond the label’s R&B chart hits to dig into the crates and resurrect singles from Stax subsidiaries like Ardent and Hip (rock); Chalice and Gospel Truth (gospel); and Enterprise (country) as well as instrumental and blues tracks from the pre-Stax Satellite Records imprint.

Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest collects singles from over 60 diverse artists including the Staple Singers, Big Star, the Bar-Kays, Don Nix, Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Cobras, Mable John, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, the Mad Lads, Sid Selvidge, Bobby Whitlock, Billy Lee Riley, Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers, and many others. The new box set caps off a year-long celebration of Stax Records’ 60th anniversary by a unique industry partnership between Craft and Rhino that included over fifteen vinyl reissues of R&B classics like Rufus Thomas’s Walking the Dog, Sam & Dave’s Soul Men, Carla Thomas’s Carla, and Otis Redding’s Live In Europe, an exclusive Record Store Day ‘Black Friday’ release pressed on red vinyl.

Buy the box on Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest

Also on That Devil
Carla Thomas - Stax Classics CD review
Isaac Hayes - Stax Classics CD review
The Dramatics - Stax Classics CD review
Sam & Dave - Stax Classics CD review

Monday, January 1, 2018

In Memoriam 2017: John Abercrombie to Dennis Dragon

The same year that saw an orange-colored buffoon elevated to the highest position in the land also saw another 365 days of loss and tragedy. Last year was absolutely brutal in terms of musician deaths, and while 2017 tried its best to beat the Reaper, we still lost far too many talents from the ranks of the visionary. Our “In Memoriam” feature is so large again 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: Roger Ferguson to Paul O'Neill
Part Three: Scott Putesky to Jessi Zazu

John Abercrombie photo by Filip Drabek
John Abercrombie photo by Filip Drabek

John Abercrombie (72)
Abercrombie was a revered and influential jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader who worked in, and helped define free jazz, jazz fusion, and avant-garde genres. Abercrombie graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston before moving to New York City in 1969. With his unparalleled six-string skills, Abercrombie soon became an in-demand session player, recording with artists like Gato Barbieri and Gil Evans. He later joined jazz-rock fusion outfit Dreams with drummer Billy Cobham and the Brecker Brothers; Abercrombie also appeared on several of Cobham’s solo albums, including critically-acclaimed releases like 1974’s Total Eclipse and 1975’s Shabazz.

Abercrombie recorded his solo debut, 1974’s Timeless, with keyboardist Jan Hammer and drummer Jack DeJohnette for ECM Records. In 1975, Abercrombie formed the band Gateway with DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland, the trio releasing two albums in the 1970s and another pair of albums after reuniting in the early ‘90s. Abercrombie continued to record and tour until his death, releasing better than three dozen albums over a career that spanned five decades as well as lending his talents to artists like Ralph Towner, Michael Brecker, Paul Bley, Lonnie Smith, and many others.     

Martin Eric Ain (50)
Born ‘Martin Stricker’ in the U.S. but holding dual citizenship with Switzerland, Ain is best known as the longtime bassist for Swiss metal band Celtic Frost and its precursor, Hellhammer. Ain contributed to classic ‘80s-era Celtic Frost albums like To Mega Therion and Into The Pandemonium, his distinctive, rumbling bass style influencing bands like Sepultura and Opeth, among others. Ain’s collaborative work with guitarist Tom Warrior in Celtic Frost had a major impact on heavy metal and its evolution.
Pat Albert (52)
Pat Albert was a pioneer of the early Nashville rock scene that I wrote about in my 2012 book The Other Side of Nashville. Albert was a member of the trailblazing punk outfit CPS (Committee for Public Safety) before joining former Dead Boys’ member Cheetah Chrome’s band when the legendary punk rocker moved to the Music City. Albert was later a member of the 1990s-era Nashville punk outfit Trauma Team. The Nashville Scene wrote a nice obituary on Albert and his career.
Gregg Allman
Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman (69)
Gregg Allman – a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee with the Allman Brothers Band and a successful solo artist – passed away on May 27th at 69 years old due to complications from liver cancer. [read full obituary]

Joey Alves (63)
Alves joined the San Francisco hard rock/heavy metal trailblazers Y&T in 1974 as their guitarist and played and recorded with the band until 1989, performing on albums like Yesterday and Today, Earthshaker, and In Rock We Trust. Alves last appeared on Y&T’s 1987 album Contagious but reunited with the band in 2004 and toured with them in 2016.

Walter Becker (67)
Rolling Stone magazine and other outlets have reported the death of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker at the age of 67 years after an undisclosed illness. The talented musician and songwriter will forever be yoked to Steely Dan and his longtime creative partner, Donald Fagen, the pair creating a back catalog of innovative music that was meager in numbers but over-sized in influence and creativity. [read full obituary]

Chester Bennington photo by Stefan Brending
Chester Bennington photo by Stefan Brending
Chester Bennington (41)
Best-known as the lead singer of rap-metal band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington also spent time as frontman for Stone Temple Pilots and Dead by Sunrise. Bennington came to prominence after the 2000 release of Linkin Park’s Platinum™-selling debut album Hybrid Theory. The band became a popular concert d
raw on the strength of a dynamic stage show and multi-Platinum™ albums like 2003’s Meteora (7+ million copies sold) and 2007’s Minutes to Midnight (4+ million copies sold), and is credited with selling better than 65 million records worldwide.

Bennington’s musical side-project, Dead by Sunrise, released a single Top 20 charting album, Out of Ashes, in 2009 and the singer recorded with Stone Temple Pilots for their 2013 EP High Rise. Bennington also dabbled in acting, appearing in cameos in films like Crank, Crank: High Voltage, and Saw 3D.

Chuck Berry (90)
Chuck Berry, inarguably one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n’ roll, passed away at the age of 90 on March 18th, 2017. As reported by Rolling Stone magazine and elsewhere, St. Charles County Missouri police responded to a medical emergency at Berry’s home Saturday after where they found the rock legend unresponsive. First responders applied lifesaving techniques but were unable to revive Berry, who had recently battled pneumonia. [read full obituary

Chuck Berry photo courtesy Universal Music
Chuck Berry photo courtesy Universal Music
John Blackwell, Jr. (43)
Blackwell was a master percussionist who performed with Prince for 15 years. Known for his unique style of drumming, Blackwell was a graduate of the Berklee College of Music before joining Prince’s New Power Generation band in 2000; Blackwell also performed with artists like Cameo, Patti Labelle, and Justin Timberlake, among others.

Charles Bradley (68)
American soul singer Charles Bradley enjoyed a modicum of late career success after being discovered by Daptone Records in the early 2000s. Up until that time, Bradley worked various odd jobs across the country while performing under stage names like The Screaming Eagle of Soul, Black Velvet, and James Brown, Jr. Bradley moved to Brooklyn during the mid-‘90s and, after signing with Daptone, released a number of singles circa 2002-2010 before recording his debut album, No Time For Dreaming, in 2011. Bradley released two more albums for Daptone – 2013’s Victim of Love and 2016’s Changes – while becoming a popular live performer and touring extensively. In 2012, Bradley’s career was documented by the film Soul of America, directed by Poull Brien, which included performance footage from festivals around the world. 

Blues legend Lonnie Brooks
Lonnie Brooks photo courtesy Alligator Records
Lonnie Brooks (83)
The blues world lost a bona fide legend on April 1st, 2017 with the passing of the great Lonnie Brooks, who was 83 years old at the time of his death. A brilliant guitarist and underrated, soulful vocalist, Brooks was a dynamic live performer who toured the world to no little acclaim. [read full obituary]

Paul Buckmaster (71)
An accomplished cellist who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music at the young age of 21, Paul Buckmaster is best known as a skilled orchestral arranger that provided strings and things to hits by David Bowie (“Space Oddity”), the Bee Gees (“Odessa”), Carly Simon (“You’re So Vain”), and Harry Nilsson (“Without You”). Buckmaster also worked with artists as diverse as Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, and the Grateful Dead and served as Elton John’s musical director on albums like Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water.

Glen Campbell 1967 photo by Capitol Records
Glen Campbell 1967/Capitol Records
Glen Campbell (81)
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor Glen Campbell was a beloved American musician and personality. Best known for his string of 1960s and ‘70s-era hits like “Gentle On My Mind,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” among others, Campbell was also the host of a music and comedy variety show on CBS called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Over a career that spanned 50 years, Campbell released 70 albums, selling better than 45 million records worldwide, and placing 80 different songs on the charts. Campbell also dabbled in acting, earning a Golden Globe nomination for his supporting role alongside John Wayne in the 1969 film True Grit.

Born in Arkansas, Campbell moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to become a session musician, hooking up with local L.A. band the Champs while also writing songs and recording demos for American Music, a publishing company. Campbell’s skills with guitar, mandolin, and banjo led to his becoming a member of the loose-knit group of session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, performing on recordings by artists like Ricky Nelson, the Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Phil Spector, and Elvis Presley, among others. He was signed as a solo artist by Capitol Records in 1962, releasing a series of unsuccessful singles and albums before scoring a hit with his 1965 cover of the Buffy Sainte-Marie song “Universal Soldier.” Campbell was a touring member of the Beach Boys during the mid-‘60s, and also toured as part of Ricky Nelson’s band before finally breaking through with the Top 20 country hit “Burning Bridges.”

Working with producer Al De Lory, Campbell broke through to the mainstream with the 1967 hit “Gentle On My Mind,” which was followed by a string of single releases that would earn Campbell four Grammy® Awards. Although Campbell’s career cooled off in the ‘80s, he would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and continued to tour and record in spite of his 2010 diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease. Campbell released his final album, 2017’s Adiós, just two months before his death.

Wayne Cochran (78)
The prototypical “blue-eyed” soul man, Wayne Cochran provided the blueprint by which a generation of white soul singers (Van Morrison, Frankie Miller, Boz Scaggs, Daryl Hall, et al) would build their careers. Best known as the songwriter behind the classic song “Last Kiss” – a hit for J. Frank Wilson in 1964 and again later for Pearl Jam in 1999 – Cochran also wrote such gems as “Goin’ Back To Miami” and “Sleepless Nights” while his version of the old Ma Rainey song “C.C. Rider” set the standard for rock ‘n’ roll as well as providing Cochran with the name of his longtime band. Cochran never scored the monster hit that would have secured his legacy, and today’s he’s best known for his flamboyant stage presence and larger-than-life pompadour-styled stark white hair. Still, Cochran and the C.C. Riders toured from the late ‘50s until the mid-‘70s and recorded albums for the Chess Records, King Records, and Epic Records labels before retiring from music to become a minister.

Dead Moon's Destination X
Fred Cole (69)
Singer and guitarist Fred Cole was an influential artist on the American D.I.Y. scene, his garage-rock band Dead Moon releasing several indie albums throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, influencing bands like the Wipers, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. Cole started his career at 15 years old and by the age of 18 he was fronting Pacific Northwest rockers the Weeds. The band changed its name to the Lollipop Shoppe and released a single classic psychedelic album, Just Colour, on UNI Records, garnering comparisons to bands like Love and the Seeds.

When the Lollipop Shoppe broke up, Cole formed a number of various bands such as Zipper, King Bee, and the Rats that explored hard rock and punk. Dead Moon was formed by Cole and his wife Toody in 1987 and would release better than a dozen albums on their own labels, with Cole mastering the records himself on a vintage lathe that had been used on the Kingsmen’s version of “Louie Louie.” Dead Moon’s mix of psychedelic, garage, and punk rock earned the band a small but avid following in the U.S. and European underground. Cole broke up Dead Moon in 2006 after nearly three decades, forming a new band, Pierced Arrows. Our buddy Fred Mills at Blurt magazine has a more thorough remembrance of Cole on the zine’s website.

Chris Cornell photo by Gordon Correll/GDCGraphics
Chris Cornell photo by Gordon Correll
Chris Cornell (52)
One of the leading lights of the ‘90s-era Seattle scene, Chris Cornell was found dead in the bathroom of his room at the MGM Grand in Detroit, Michigan after performing a show with Soundgarden at the Fox Theatre. Cornell’s cause of death was ruled to be suicide by hanging; he was only 52 years old. [read full obituary]

James Cotton (81)
We’re immensely saddened to report on the death of blues legend James Cotton, who passed away on March 16th, 2017 of pneumonia at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. Cotton was 81 years old. The powerful sound of Cotton’s harmonica helped define the evolution of the blues during the 1970s onward, and he was a constant presence on the stage, touring worldwide for better than 60 years. [read full obituary]

Holger Czukay (79)
German multi-instrumentalist Holger Czukay is best-known as the co-founder of progressive rock pioneers Can. Czukay studied music under Karlheinz Stockhausen during the early ‘60s, and worked for a short while as a music teacher. Czukay was not interested in rock ‘n’ roll until a student played him the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” which opened his mind to the experimental potential of rock music. He formed Can in 1968 with fellow Stockhausen student Irmin Schmidt on keyboards, adding guitarist Michael Karoli and drummer Jaki Liebezeit. The foursome explored the possibilities of minimalist, electronic, and world music into their avant-garde vision of psychedelic rock, serving as trailblazers on the fledgling German ‘krautrock’ scene.

Czukay recorded nine albums with Can between Monster Movie, their 1969 debut, and 1977’s Saw Delight, including acclaimed classics like 1971’s Tago Mago and 1973’s Future Days. Leaving the band to pursue a solo career, Czukay pioneered the use of sampling on his records, cutting and splicing tapes of shortwave radio sounds and incorporating them into his music. On his 1991 album Radio Wave Surfer, he used the shortwave radio as a live, interactive musical instrument, a method of composition he called “radio painting.” Czukay also collaborated with a number of like-minded and adventuresome musicians through the years, including Brian Eno, Jah Wobble, David Sylvain, and the Eurythmics, among others. Sadly, Czukay’s Can bandmate, drummer Jaki Liebezeit, also passed away in 2017. 

Robert Dahlqvist (40)
Robert Dahlqvist was the longtime guitarist for Swedish garage-rock cult favorites the Hellacopters from 1999 until 2007, recording four studio albums and four EPs with the critically-acclaimed band. During this time, the Hellacopters also collaborated with artists like the Flaming Sideburns, Gluecifer, the Backyard Babies, and Detroit rock legend Scott Morgan (The Rationals, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band). During his tenure with the Hellacopters, Dahlqvist had launched a side project called Thunder Express, named after a MC5 song in tribute to the Motor City rockers.

Thunder Express released a pair of albums – We Play For Pleasure in 2004 and Republic Disgrace in 2007 – before changing their name to Dundertåget, literally the Swedish translation of ‘Thunder Express.’ The band released two more albums under its new name before breaking up in 2011. Dahlqvist was a recurring member of Stefan Sundström’s backing band Sundström during the early 2000s, and toured with his former Hellacopters bandmate Anders Lindström’s band the Diamond Dogs in 2004. Dahlqvist also contributed to former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer’s 2003 album Adult World and to Communicate, the first studio album by the Solution, a collaboration between Scott Morgan and the Hellacopters’ Nicke Royale. Dahlqvist released an April 2016 single under the band name Strängen, one of the guitarist’s nicknames, and announced plans to record a solo album after a five-year hiatus from music. The album was reportedly near completion at the time of his death.

Warrel Dane (56)
Vocalist Warrel Dane (born Warrel Baker) was lead singer for the heavy metal bands Sanctuary and Nevermore. Trained as an opera singer and possessing a wide vocal range, Dane brought his soaring vocals to two influential major label albums by Sanctuary – 1988’s Refuge Denied and 1990’s Into the Mirror Black – but when Epic Records tried to remake the band from thrash-metal into ‘grunge,’ Sanctuary broke up. Dane formed the prog-metal outfit Nevermore with former Sanctuary bassist Jim Sheppard and guitarist Jeff Loomis; released by notable metal imprint Century Media, the band’s self-titled 1995 debut album found an appreciative audience among metal fans. Nevermore would release a total of seven studio albums and a live disc before going on hiatus in 2011. Dane released a solo album, Praises to the War Machine, in 2008 and would reform his old band Sanctuary in 2014, releasing The Year the Sun Died that year. At the time of his death, Dane had completed a new Sanctuary album, Dead Again, which will be released posthumously, and had been working on a second solo album. 

Cedell Davis's Even The Devil Gets The Blues
CeDell Davis (91)
Bluesman CeDell Davis began playing guitar as a young child, but a bout of polio when he was ten years old left him with little control over is left hand and restricted use of his right. Davis adapted by using a butter knife in his fretting hand to approximate a sort of slide-guitar sound which became his signature. The Arkansas native began playing clubs and juke-joints throughout Mississippi and in 1953 he began a decade of playing with blues legend Robert Nighthawk. A police raid on a club in 1957 led to a stampede that broke both of Davis’s legs, and he used a wheelchair from then until his death. A life of hardship and obscurity was expressed in his lyrics, and Davis would come to the attention of Mississippi’s Fat Possum Records, which released Davis’s Robert Palmer-produced 1994 debut Feel Like Doin’ Something Wrong.

Capricorn Records released The Best of CeDell Davis a year later, the bluesman backed by Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. The Horror of It All was released by Fat Possum in 1998, followed by 2002’s When Lightnin’ Struck the Pine, which included contributions by REM’s Peter Buck and the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey and Alex Veley. Davis continued to perform and record until his death, his last album – 2016’s Even the Devil Gets the Blues – featuring guests and admirers like producer/drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), and McCaughey. 

The Smithereens
The Smithereens
Pat DiNizio (62)
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Pat DiNizio formed the Smithereens in New Jersey in 1980 with guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros, and drummer Dennis Diken. The four friends enjoyed a string of minor hits during the late 1980s and early ‘90s like “Only A Memory,” “A Girl Like You,” and “Too Much Passion,” but it was albums like Especially For You (1986), Green Thoughts (1988), and 11 (1989) that earned the band a loyal following that stuck with them through the lean years and a handful of albums for various labels, culminating in 2011, the band’s swansong, released in 2011 by eOne Music.

DiNizio also pursued a career as a solo artist, releasing four critically-acclaimed solo efforts beginning with 1997’s Songs and Sounds. DiNizio dabbled in acting, appearing in a bit role in the hit 1992 film Singles as well as on TV shows like Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey in 2000 on the Reform Party ticket, garnering 19,312 votes and polling fourth; the campaign was later documented in the 2001 documentary film Mr. Smithereen Goes to Washington. An early supporter of satellite radio, DiNizio became the host and program director of XM Radio’s Unsigned program in 2001, and he was the focus of 7th Inning Stretch, an ESPN2 reality special, in 2006. DiNizio released an audio book, Confessions of A Rock Star, in 2009 and continued to perform solo acoustic shows, and with the Smithereens, until his death. 

Fat Domino's Here Comes Fats
Fats Domino (89)
American pianist, singer, and songwriter Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. was one of a handful of pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll music. Between 1955 and 1960, Domino had eleven Top 10 charting hits and the singer would sell more than 65 million records in a career that spanned six decades. Born in New Orleans, Domino incorporated the city’s jazz-influenced R&B sound into the creation of his own unique style, and his million-selling debut single, 1949’s “The Fat Man,” is widely considered by many historians to be the first rock ‘n’ roll record.

As one of the best-selling African-American rockers of the ‘50s, Domino racked up the hits, timeless songs like “Goin’ Home,” “Ain’t That A Shame,” “I’m In Love Again,” “Blue Monday,” and his signature song, “Blueberry Hill.” The hits dried up in the ‘70s, but Domino was beloved in his hometown, and appeared annually at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Domino was among the first class of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and was awarded the Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. Although his commercial accomplishments are unassailable, Domino’s groundbreaking music is often overshadowed by the critical acclaim heaped on contemporaries like James Booker and Professor Longhair. Domino’s influence on the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll is undeniable, however, his music inspiring artists from Elvis Presley and the Beatles to Cheap Trick and Willie Nelson. Domino’s innate sense of radio-friendly rhythm also influenced many of Jamaica’s ska and reggae artists. 

The Tragically Hip
The Tragically Hip photo courtesy MCA Records

Gordon Downie (53)
Long considered a Canadian musical treasure, singer/songwriter Gordon “Gord” Downie was the beloved frontman and lyricist for rockers Tragically Hip from the band’s beginning in 1984 until his 2017 death. Downie recorded 13 studio albums and a live set with Tragically Hip, the band becoming superstars in Canada but achieving only modest cult band status in the U.S. where their albums barely charted. Downie also released a half-dozen acclaimed solo albums in Canada, beginning with 2001’s Coke Machine Glow, with the posthumously-released 2017 LP Introduce Yerself topping the Canadian music charts. Downie was as famous in his homeland for his offstage efforts as he was for his rock stardom, the singer using his celebrity to champion the rights of Canada’s indigenous people.

Downie was also involved in a number of environmental causes, especially the issue of water rights, and he became a board member of the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper group and was part of the Swim Drink Fish Music club which united artists and environmentalists to raise money for Waterkeeper groups across the country. Downie was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor in early 2016 and although the glioblastoma responded to radiation and chemotherapy, it was nevertheless incurable. Downie launched a “farewell tour” of the U.S. and Canada with Tragically Hip during the summer of 2016 in support of the band’s album Man Machine Poem. The tour’s final performance in Kingston, Ontario was broadcast live by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and watched by an estimated 11.7 million people. In June 2017, Downie and Tragically Hip were appointed as Members of The Order of Canada for their “contribution to Canadian music and for their support of various social and environmental causes.”   

Dennis Dragon (70?)
Drummer Dennis Dragon is best-known for his 1980s-era band the Surf Punks, who recorded several albums for Epic Records during the decade. Dragon’s musical pedigree was much deeper, however, the child prodigy playing professionally at the age of 12 after he’d mastered drums and piano. During the late ‘60s and throughout the ‘70s he performed and recorded with folks like the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Rick Springfield, Neil Young, and the Captain & Tennille (his brother Daryl was ‘The Captain’). Dragon would also get involved in video production and sound engineering, working on albums by artists like Johnny Rivers, Carole King, and Cheech & Chong.

>>> In Memoriam 2017, Part Two

In Memoriam 2017: Roger Ferguson to Paul O'Neill

The same year that saw an orange-colored buffoon elevated to the highest position in the land also saw another 365 days of loss and tragedy. Last year was absolutely brutal in terms of musician deaths, and while 2017 tried its best to beat the Reaper, we still lost far too many talents from the ranks of the visionary. Our “In Memoriam” feature is so large again 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 One: John Abercrombie to Dennis Dragon
Part Three: Scott Putesky to Jessi Zazu

Roger Ferguson photo courtesy Ferguson's Facebook page
Photo courtesy Roger Ferguson's Facebook page
Roger Ferguson (65)
Roger Ferguson was the longtime friend and musical foil of American underground DIY legend R. Stevie Moore and the father of John Roger Ferguson of the Apples In Stereo. A pioneer of Nashville’s early rock scene, the elder Ferguson played guitar in a number of late ‘60s and early ‘70s bands with Moore and the like-minded Victor Lovera, including Goods and Ethos.

Mike “Gabby” Gaborno (51)
Vocalist Mike “Gabby” Gaborno was a founding member of the Cadillac Tramps, an Orange County, California hardcore punk band formed in the mid-‘80s by Gaborno, guitarists Brian Coakley and Johnny Wickersham, bassist Warren Renfrow, and drummer Dieter. The band would record three albums for the independent Dr. Dream label, including 1994’s It’s Allright, and counted Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder among their fans. The band broke up in 1995, but had paved the way for fellow O.C. bands like No Doubt, Sugar Ray, and the Offspring.

Gaborno was also involved in a musical side project, forming Manic Hispanic with Adolescents’ guitarist Steve Soto as a parody band performing doo-wop versions of punk songs. Manic Hispanic would release four albums for the punk indie BYO Records label between 1992 and 2005. Gaborno reunited the Cadillac Tramps in 1999, touring sporadically, and launched a blues band called Santos Y Sinners. Gaborno suffered from various health issues over the past few years, working a day job in construction and performing at night until his death from liver cancer.

Guitarist J. Geils
J. Geils

J. Geils (71)
We’re sad to report on the passing of a rock ‘n’ blues icon, guitarist J. Geils. Rolling Stone magazine confirmed Geils’ death and a preliminary investigation by Groton, Massachusetts police indicated that Geils died of natural causes. The guitarist’s friend and fellow musician, Duke Robillard, had mentioned on Facebook that Geils had experienced recent health problems; Geils was 71 years old. [read full obituary]

Bob Glassley (58)
Bob Glassley was bassist for the Cheifs [sic], an early L.A. punk rock outfit formed in 1979 that were favorites of later (and better-known) bands like the Descendents, Bad Religion, and Black Flag. The Cheifs’ lone record release was the three-song 7” EP Blues, which goes for upwards of $500 in collectors’ circles. The band broke up in 1982 but has had songs featured on several punk compilation albums, including Who Cares and the Killed By Death series. A collection of all of the Chiefs’ known recordings was compiled on a 1997 CD titled Holly-West Crisis, named for the notorious Hollywood crash space. Glassley put together a new, Atlanta-based line-up of the Cheifs in 2016.

Col. Bruce Hampton (70)
The world of rock ‘n’ roll lost a giant with the death of Col. Bruce Hampton at the young age of 70 years. Born Gustav Valentine Berglund III, Hampton was a pioneer on the Atlanta, Georgia music scene and a true innovator, albeit an obscure influence on, rock music throughout the 1980s and ‘90s. [read full obituary]

Hüsker Dü with Grant Hart
Hüsker Dü (Grant Hart, center)
Grant Hart (56)
Grant Hart – singer and drummer for the influential, almighty punk rock onslaught that was Hüsker Dü – passed away at the University of Minnesota Medical Center of complications from liver cancer and hepatitis. Hart was only 56 years old. [read full obituary]

John Thomas “Sib” Hashian (67)
Drummer Sib Hashian joined AOR legends Boston before the recording of the band’s self-titled 1976 album, touring and recording with the band through 1986. Hashian also played on Boston bandmate Barry Goudreau’s 1980 solo album. After leaving the band, Hashian ran a record shop and dabbled in stage acting in his Boston, Massachusetts hometown.

Bobby Lloyd Hicks (69)
Drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks was a true journeyman, playing with dozens of bands throughout his lengthy career, and appearing on hundreds of recordings. Hicks is best recognized as a founding member of Missouri roots-rockers the Skeletons and as a member of N.R.B.Q. for a short while. Hicks also played and recorded with artists like Steve Forbert, Dave Alvin, Jonathan Richman, Robbie Fulks, and Scott Kempner, among many others. Over the past 15 years, Hicks was involved in USO events and U.S. State Department cultural exchange programs, touring the Middle East, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Molly Hatchet
Dave Hlubek (66)
Guitarist Dave Hlubek would form Southern rock legends Molly Hatchet in 1971 in Jacksonville, Florida. The band would undergo numerous line-up changes before settling on a roster that included guitarist Steve Holland and bassist Banner Thomas, who both joined the band in 1974, and singer Danny Joe Brown, who joined in 1976. Molly Hatchet released its Platinum™-selling self-titled debut album in 1978 and its sophomore album, Flirtin’ With Disaster a year later. The latter album would score a hit with the title track, which pushed the album into the Top 20 and to better than two million records sold. The band would go Platinum™ for a third time with 1980’s Beatin’ The Odds, but their commercial returns would dwindle throughout the decade as Southern rock fell out of favor with mainstream record buyers.

Hlubek would leave the band he founded in 1987 after six albums and better than a decade of touring, the guitarist struggling with substance abuse problems. He never again reached the critical and commercial heights of his former band, but Hlubek would stay busy performing with bands like Hlubek & Friends, the Southern Jam Band, and the Southern Rock Legends (with members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot). He would later form the Southern Rock Allstars with Blackfoot drummer Jakson Spires, the band recording several albums. Hlubek rejoined Molly Hatchet in 2005, and would continue to tour with the band until his death, appearing on four more Molly Hatchet albums.

Allan Holdsworth (70)
Innovative prog-rock and jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth passed away over the weekend with no cause of death given; Holdsworth was 70 years old. Although Holdsworth wasn’t well-known outside of a small, loyal group of fans (including many fellow musicians), he made a lot of music over the past four decades, sustaining a moderately-successful career right up to his death. [read full obituary]

Evan Johns
Evan Johns
Evan Johns (60)
Guitarist Evan Johns began his career in the Washington D.C. area, playing with and writing songs for esteemed guitarist Danny Gatton. Johns would later form his own band, the H-Bombs, releasing several albums of guitar-driven garage-rock and rockabilly that found a cult audience and a major fan in Dead Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra, who would release Johns’ debut album, 1982’s Rollin’ Through The Night, on his Alternative Tentacles label. Biafra would also release a collaboration between Johns and underground multi-instrumentalist Eugene Chadbourne, 1993’s Terror Has Some Strange Kinfolks.  

Johns relocated to Austin, Texas in 1984 to join the LeRoi Brothers, and would later appear on the Grammy® Award-nominated compilation album Trash, Twang and Thunder in 1985. Johns would re-form the H-Bombs in Austin, the band recording a number of albums for labels like Rykodisc and Jungle Records, cranking out their unique blend of rockabilly, blues, country, and Cajun music until health problems forced Johns off the road in 1998. The guitarist would continue to write and record music until his death from complications from a recent surgery. The blog Austin360 posted a nice overview of the underrated guitarist’s life and importance to the Austin music scene.  

Robert “P-Nut” Johnson (70)
Singer and songwriter Johnson was a popular member of Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins’ band, recording Stretchin’ Out With Bootsy’s Rubber Band in 1976 and Ahh…the Name Is Bootsy, Baby in 1977. Johnson also contributed to several late ‘70s period albums by funk legends Parliament and would later be part of the Godfather of Funk George Clinton’s band during the 1980s, recording albums like 1982’s Computer Games. Johnson also appeared on the 1985 Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album Freaky Styley

Casey Jones (77)
Jones was a notable Chicago blues drummer who recorded and toured with legends like Albert Collins, Lonnie Brooks, and Johnny Winter.

Tommy Keene's Based On Happy Times
Tommy Keene (59)
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tommy Keene died of natural causes at the very young age of 59 years. Keene is known for his melodic power-pop songwriting skills, and over the course of a career that spanned four decades, Keene released better than a dozen critically-acclaimed live and studio albums. [read full obituary]

Robert Knight (72)
Knight, a Tennessee native, made his debut as a vocalist with R&B outfit the Paramounts, who signed to Dot Records in 1960 and had an immediate chart hit in 1961 with the single “Free Me.” The Paramounts’ later single releases performed badly and the group broke up; Knight sang with Nashville vocal trio the Fairlanes while attending Tennessee State University in Nashville, studying chemistry.

Knight was offered a contract as a solo artist by Rising Sons Records, scoring a monster hit with his first single, the classic “Everlasting Love.” Written by the label’s owners, Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden, the song rose to #14 on the U.S. R&B chart and #13 on the Billboard pop chart. Knight enjoyed a couple more hits – “Blessed Are the Lonely” and “Isn’t It Lonely” – and enjoyed status as a Northern soul legend in the U.K. When the hits dried up, Knight went to work as a chemistry lab technician and chemistry teach at Vanderbilt University, but would perform his timeless hit now and then, as on this appearance on the Music City Roots TV show (video below). 

Jimmy LaFave (61)
Beloved Austin, Texas based singer/songwriter LaFave blazed new trails in both folk and Americana music during a lengthy career that resulted in 20 album releases. While living in Stillwater, Oklahoma LaFave became an acolyte of the legendary Woody Guthrie, and was a regular performer at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. LaFave and a loose-knit collection of Okie songwriters developed a style known as “red dirt music” that blended folk, blues, and country music in the style of artists like J.J. Cale and Leon Russell. LaFave relocated to Austin in the late ‘90s and quickly became a local favorite, performing on the popular Austin City Limits TV show and earning the “Songwriter of the Year Award” in 1996 from the Kerrville Folk Festival. LaFave was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in June 2017, shortly after his death.  

Rudy Lawless (84)
Jazz drummer Lawless grew up with talents like Sonny Rollins and would tour and record with legends like Blue Mitchell, Junior Mance, Etta James, Freddie McCoy, and others. Lawless fronted his own band from the ‘80s on and recorded albums with George Jackson and with Danny Mixon in 2015.

Deke Leonard's Wireless
Roger “Deke” Leonard (72)
Welsh rock guitarist Roger “Deke” Leonard is best known for his on-again/off-again tenure with the British prog-rock outfit Man, with whom he performed from the 1960s through the ‘90s and recorded roughly two-dozen studio album. In between quitting and re-joining Man, Leonard formed his own band called Iceberg, which recorded a trio of acclaimed albums with 1973’s Iceberg, 1974’s Kamikaze, and 1979’s Before Your Very Eyes. Leonard also recorded and toured with the British band Help Yourself, contributed to American singer/songwriter Walter Egan’s 1981 album The Last Stroll, and was briefly a member of the Tyla Gang, appearing on the band’s 1977 album Yachtless.

Leonard would also make a name for himself as a writer; beginning with liner notes for various ‘70s-era Man albums, he would later contribute articles and reviews to Vox, Studio Week, and other British music publications. He published his first autobiographical book, titled Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics, in 1996 to limited sales, but a 2000 follow-up, titled Maybe I Should Have Stayed In Bed?, sold well enough to prompt a second printing of his first book. Leonard read extracts from both books for a series of award-winning BBC radio programs, and toured as a one-man show performing songs and telling tales from his lengthy rock ‘n’ roll career. Leonard also appeared as a panelist and narrator on several TV and radio programs in the U.K. including Pub Rock Quiz, Tales of the Road, and Juke Box Heroes. He published his third book, The Twang Dynasty – From Memphis to Merthyr, in 2012 and his final tome, and third biographical title Maximum Darkness: Man on the Road to Nowhere in 2015. 

Jaki Liebezeit (78)
German drummer Hans “Jaki” Liebezeit was a founding member of prog-rock legends Can, appearing on all twelve of the band’s studio albums from 1969’s classic Monster Movie through the band’s reunion album, 1989’s Rite Time and including critically-acclaimed efforts like Tago Mago (1971) and Future Days (1973). During Can’s hiatus during much of the ‘80s, Liebezeit was a member of Phantomband, and brought his talents to albums like Brian Eno’s Before and After Science and Depeche Mode’s Ultra as well as recordings by Jah Wobble and Robert Coyne, among others.   

Chuck Loeb (61)
Jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb honed his craft playing with legends like Stan Getz, Chico Hamilton, Hubert Laws, and Ray Barreto before joining the group Steps Ahead, which featured Michael Brecker and Steve Gadd, in 1980. Loeb would launch his solo career with the release of his debut album, My Shining Hour, in 1988. Through his career, Loeb would release some 20 solo albums as well as performing with the jazz-fusion outfit Metro during the ‘90s and replacing guitarist Larry Carlton in the band Fourplay in 2010. Loeb’s music has also been featured on TV shows and movie soundtracks, including the films You’ve Got Mail and Hitch

Mike Kellie (69)
Born in Birmingham, England Kellie was a drummer, songwriter, singer, and producer who performed with several notable bands, including the VIPs, Spooky Tooth, and the Only Ones. As a session player, he worked on albums by Joe Cocker, Peter Frampton, George Harrison, and Pat Travers, among others. Kellie was also part of the floating line-up of Johnny Thunders’ Living Dead and recorded the So Alone album with the rock ‘n’ roll legend.

Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy
Wayne McGhie (70?)
Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica but immigrating to Canada as a young man, Wayne McGhie passed away in Toronto in July after decades of suffering from acute schizophrenia. During the 1960s, however, McGhie was forging a career as an in-demand songwriter, penning material for bands like Jo-Jo & the Fugitives and the Hitchhikers. McGhie would become friends with famed keyboardist Jackie Mittoo, who would later form the Skatalites, and Mittoo oversaw the production of McGhie’s influential and acclaimed album Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy. The 1970 release offered a mix of reggae, jazz, and R&B music that is credited with creating the ‘70s-era Canadian funk scene, but when a fire at the label’s warehouse destroyed thousands of copies of the album, it would become a rare item selling for hundreds of dollars to funk and soul collectors. McGhie was out of music and homeless by the end of the ‘70s until taken in by his sister, who cared for him until his death. The Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy album was rescued from obscurity and reissued in 2005 by Light In The Attic Records.    

Goldy McJohn (72)
Born in Toronto, Canada as John Raymond Goadsby, the classically-trained keyboardist is best-known as an original member of classic rockers Steppenwolf. McJohn was an early pioneer in the use of electronic organ in rock music, in his case a Hammond B3, which he used to great effect on songs like “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride.” McJohn played during the ‘60s with a number of Canadian bands, including the Mynah Birds with Rick James, before joining the Sparrows with John Kay. When that band broke up, Kay moved to L.A. and recruited McJohn and Sparrows drummer Jerry Edmonton to help form Steppenwolf in 1967.

McJohn performed and recorded with the band until 1975, appearing on Steppenwolf’s first seven studio albums, including classics like 1968’s The Second and 1969’s Monster, as well as the band’s 1970 live album. When Steppenwolf broke up, McJohn helped form New Steppenwolf in 1976 with estranged bassist Nick St. Nicholas, and he would later play with Steve Marriott in a late-period line-up of Humble Pie. McJohn also released several solo albums, including New Visions, Rat City In Blue, and Set the World On Fire.
Chuck Mosley photo by Goongunther
Chuck Mosley photo by Goongunther
Chuck Mosley (57)

Chuck Mosley may be best known as the original frontman for rockers Faith No More circa 1984 to 1988. During his time with the band he recorded two albums, 1985’s We Care A Lot and 1987’s Introduce Yourself. Due to a growing drug addiction and erratic behavior, Mosley was fired from Faith No More after the band’s 1988 European tour. Mosley subsequently spent almost two years as the singer for legendary hardcore punk outfit Bad Brains, leaving the band in 1992 to form the funk-metal band Cement. That band released two albums on the independent Dutch East India Trading imprint – 1993’s self-titled debut and 1994’s Man With the Action Hair – a tour for their second album cut short by a bus accident that left Mosley with a broken back that took over a year to recover from, thus breaking up Cement.

Mosley moved to Cleveland in 1996, working as a chef while he wrote songs and raised two daughters with his longtime girlfriend Pip Logan. Mosley continued to perform with bands like V.U.A. (Vanduls Ugainst Alliteracy), which released the Will Rap Over Hard Rock For Food album in 2009, as well as Cleveland’s Indoria and the industrial outfit Primitive Race. Mosley knew hard times, though, revealing in 2014 that he and his family were broke and facing eviction. Mosley would eventually slip back into drug abuse after years of sobriety, dying from a heroin overdose in November. The singer’s death was particular personal for the Reverend, as Mosley had reached out after the release of We Care A Lot in 1985 to see if I would be interested in reviewing the album for Nashville’s The Metro magazine. We corresponded for a couple of years and I got to see Faith No More perform in Nashville with Mosley, but we lost touch after he left the band. 

Jimmy Nalls (66)
Guitarist Jimmy Nalls was a busy session guitarist during the early ‘70s, lending his talents to albums by artists like Johnny Jenkins, Livingston Taylor, Cowboy, and Gregg Allman. It was while doing session work that Nalls met keyboardist Chuck Leavell, who was also a member of the Allman Brothers Band. When the ABB temporarily broke up in 1976, Leavell invited Nalls to join his new band, Sea Level, with ABB bassist Lamar Williams and drummer Jaimoe. Sea Level would find modest success between 1976 and 1981, releasing five albums including the acclaimed 1977 set Cats on the Coast. After Sea Level broke up, Nalls moved to Nashville and went back to session work, working with artists like B.J. Thomas and T. Graham Brown until he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1994. Although he couldn’t perform on stage, Nalls continued to record, and released his solo debut album Ain’t No Stranger in 1999. The follow-up to that album, 2017’s The Jimmy Nalls Project, was released days before the guitarist’s death and featured guests like Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, bluesman Joe Bonamassa, and former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes.  

Geoff Nicholls
Geoff Nicholls
Geoff Nicholls (68)
Longtime Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls was originally a founding member of “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” band Quartz, which released a handful of albums during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s including the band’s Tony Iommi-produced self-titled 1977 album and 1980’s Stand Up and Fight. Nicholls initially joined Sabbath as rhythm guitarist, playing bass for a while during Geezer Butler’s brief absence, before moving over to keyboards where he would spend better than a quarter-century with the band, from 1980’s Heaven and Hell album through the band’s final studio album, 2013’s 13, with a few hiatuses through the years. Nicholls also played on former Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin’s solo albums as well as with his band Tony Martin’s Headless Cross.

Paul O’Neill (61)
Co-founder of the popular outfit Trans-Siberian Orchestra, O’Neill was a guitarist, songwriter, and producer as well as a concert promoter working with powerhouse rock management firm Leber-Krebs, Inc. As a producer, O’Neill worked with bands like Aerosmith, Badlands, Metal Church, and Savatage.

>>> In Memoriam 2017, Part Three