Sunday, May 20, 2012

One Week of Major Music Losses

Category: News/Obituaries

As they say, when it rains it pours.  The tears have been pouring in the world of music over the past week.

Donald "Duck" Dunn:  He played bass.  Oh, how he played bass.  He was a legendary session man, working with everyone from Otis Redding on "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" to Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" to Sam & Dave on "Hold On, I'm Comin'" in the Stax/Volt era of Memphis soul.  A member of Booker T.'s MGs, Dunn later went on to play with rock legends Neil Young and Eric Clapton.  Dunn was also the bassist in the Blues Brothers band and said one of the best lines in the 1980 movie about the band (which was comprised of other powerhouse musicians such as Steve Cropper and Matt "Guitar" Murphy):  "We had a sound that could turn goat piss to gasoline."  Dunn died in his sleep while on tour in Tokyo on May 13.  No cause has officially been released but it is suspected he had a heart attack.  Dunn was 70.

Doug Dillard:  Many outside the world of bluegrass would say, "Who?"  Everyone in Mayberry, however, knows exactly who Doug Darling was.  Doug Dillard and his brother Rodney fronted the Dillards, who appeared in six episodes of The Andy Griffith Show as the Darling Boys.  Doug was the banjo-playing member of the band, who had a long career in bluegrass music outside of Mayberry.  In 2010 the Dillards were inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.  This was the Andy Griffith Show's second loss of the month of May, as George "Goober" Lindsey died ten days before Dillard.  Dillard, who was 75, died after an illness.

Donna Summer:  In the mid-70s disco was the rage and Donna Summer was the genre's queen.  Songs such as "Love to Love You Baby" and "On the Radio" were massive hits.  Even after disco died Summer still made the charts with songs such as "She Works Hard for the Money" and "Unconditional Love."  Summer quietly battled lung cancer for nearly a year, finally succumbing to the disease on May 17 at the age of 63.

Robin Gibb:  "Bee Gees" was "B.G.s," or "Brothers Gibb."  The trio, Barry and twins Maurice and Robin, began the road to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the 60s with songs such as "To Love Somebody," "Words," and "I Started a Joke."  Some state they had a period of decline before their "disco comeback," but that isn't supported by Billboard chart information.  The Bee Gees had hits in the 70s such as "Run to Me" and "Alive" (1972) and "Mr. Natural" (1974) before disco.  Even songs from their hit album Main Course didn't focus solely on the emerging disco craze.  Songs such as "Edge of the Universe" and "Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)" were no different than any other Bee Gees hit from years earlier.  Still, their ties are to disco, thanks to their prominence on the soundtrack to the John Travolta film Saturday Night Fever.  Their songs were also recorded by numerous others (most notably, the huge crossover hit "Islands in the Stream" by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers).  Maurice Gibb died in 2003 from an undiagnosed intestinal issue.  Twin brother Robin had similar intestinal problems but also suffered from colon cancer.  He died May 20 at the age of 62.

Farewell to these greats of music.

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