Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Final Curtains of 2012

Category:  Tribute

Here are the musicians and music-related individuals who took their final bows in 2012.

Mark Abrahamian (September 2, heart attack, age 46):  guitarist for the Mickey Thomas incarnation of Starship.

Willie Ackerman (December 13, unknown cause, age 73):  prolific country session drummer who can be heard on tracks such as Marty Robbins' "El Paso" and Ferlin Husky's "Wings of a Dove."  He also appeared regularly on Hee Haw and the Grand Ole Opry.
Richard Adler (June 21, natural causes, age 91):  Tony Award-winning songwriter of such hits as Damn Yankees and Pajama Game.
Dave "Omar the Magnificent" Alexander (January 18, suicide [gunshot], age 73):  influential blues "boogie woogie" piano player.
Inez Andrews (December 19, cancer, age 73):  one of the voices of what is known as "the golden age" of gospel music.
Tom Ardolino (January 6, long illness, age 56):  the drummer for the legendary band NRBQ.
Mike Auldridge (December 28, cancer, age 73):  the Dobro player for the legendary bluegrass band the Seldom Scene.

Bob Babbitt (July 16, brain cancer, age 74):  prolific Motown session musician and bassist in the Funk Brothers.
Perry Baggs (July 12, complications of diabetes, age 50):  the drummer for the seminal rock band Jason and the Scorchers.
Bill Bailey (January 14, natural causes, age 81):  legendary disc jockey, known as the "Duke of Louisville" for his years at WAKY.  He also worked at stations in Cincinnati and Chicago.
Fontella Bass (December 26, complications from heart attack, age 72):  powerhouse R&B singer, best known for her 1965 hit "Rescue Me."
Eddie Bell (ne Eddie Blazonczyk; May 12, natural causes, age 70):  Grammy-winning polka bandleader.
Pete Bennett (November 22, heart attack, age 77):  music promoter who worked with the Beatles, as a group and solo, as well as Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.
Bob Birch (August 16, suicide [gunshot], age 56):  bass player for Elton John.
Doug Bounsall (September 1, car accident, age 61):  a former member of the Dillards.
Chuck Brown (May 16, pneumonia, age 75):  affectionately known as "the godfather of go-go music," his band the Soul Searchers hit the charts in 1979 with "Bustin' Loose."
Dave Brubeck (December 5, heart failure, age 91):  a master of jazz piano and one of the few jazz performers to cross over to widespread pop success thanks to his hit "Take Five," he died en route to a doctor's appointment one day before his 92nd birthday.
Billy Bryans (April 23, lung cancer, age 57):  percussionist and producer who worked with the Parachute Club and produced the soundtrack to the Disney film Jungle 2 Jungle.
Larry Butler (January 20, natural causes, age 69):  a man with many hats, including the songwriter of BJ Thomas' 1975 #1 country and pop hit "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song."  Butler also produced numerous country music acts, but his work with Kenny Rogers brought them both phenomenal success.  In 1980 Butler became the first, and to date the only, country music producer to win the "producer of the year" Grammy award.

Leslie Carter (January 31, drug overdose, age 25):  rising pop singer who followed her successful brothers Nick Carter and Aaron Carter into the business.
Ed Cassidy (December 6, cancer, age 89):  drummer for the 60s band Spirit.
Hadley Castle (October 25, brain tumor, age 79):  Cajun fiddler who saw his music featured in films such as A Perfect World and A Man and His Dog.
Jimmy Castor (January 6, heart failure, age 71):  the leader of the Jimmy Castor Bunch, the group who had hits with "Troglodyte" and "Bertha Butt Boogie."
Tony Cianciola (January 25, aneurysm, age 87):  a Knoxville-based accordion player who followed his cousin onto the WNOX Midday Merry-Go-Round, where he performed with country acts such as Chet Atkins, Archie Campbell, Don Gibson, and Johnnie & Jack.  Atkins was such a fan that he used Cianciola on some recording sessions.
Dick Clark (April 18, heart attack, age 82):  long before MTV there was American Bandstand, thanks to the man affectionately known as "the world's oldest teenager."
Susanna Clark (June 27, illness, age 73):  the wife of legendary songwriter Guy Clark was a songwriter herself, co-writing the country classic "Easy From Now On" with Carlene Carter.  She was also a gifted painter.  Her artwork adorned the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust album.
Eddie Clerto (February 2, natural causes, age 93):  based on the west coast for most of his career, Clerto managed one minor hit, "Flying Saucer Boogie."  His band the Roundup Boys worked with numerous west coast country performers including Rose Maddox.
Maria Cole (July 10, cancer, age 89):  a singer herself, she was also the widow of Nat "King" Cole and mother of Natalie Cole.
Charlie Collins (January 12, stroke, age 78):  A well-known east Tennessee performer in his early life, Collins joined "king of country music" Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys in 1966.  After Acuff's death in 1992 Collins remained on the Grand Ole Opry as part of the square dance band.
Don Cornelius (February 1, suicide [gunshot], age 75):  the originator and host of the R&B version of American BandstandSoul Train.
Pete Cosey (May 30, post-operative complications, age 68):  long-time guitarist with jazz great Miles Davis.
B.B. Cunningham (October 14, murdered [shot to death], age 70):  as a member of the Hombres he wrote "Let It All Hang Out;" later he played bass for Jerry Lee Lewis.
Nick Curran (October 6, oral cancer, age 36):  punk, blues and roots rock musician.
Ted Curson (November 4, heart attack, age 77):  jazz trumpet player who performed with Charlie Mingus.

Hal David (September 1, stroke, age 91):  Burt Bacharach's songwriting partner and a prolific lyricist.

Carl Davis (August 9, lung disease, age 77):  producer of such hits as "Higher and Higher" and "Duke of Earl."
Michael Davis (February 17, liver failure, age 68):  the bassist for the band MC5.
Bill Dees (October 24, brain tumor, age 73):  songwriter responsible for the Roy Orbison smash "(Oh) Pretty Woman."
Al DeLory (February 5, unknown causes, age 82):  a session musician (the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album) who had one hit on his own, his rendition of the theme song to M*A*S*H, DeLory was the Grammy-winning producer and arranger for Glen Campbell during Campbell's rise to superstardom.
Robert Dickey (December 29, 2011, announced January 4, 2012, unknown causes, age 72):  the "Bobby" in James & Bobby Purify, who had the hit "I'm Your Puppet."
Doug Dillard (May 16, lung infection, age 75):  Sheriff Andy Taylor's favorite band was the Darlings, and Doug Darling was their banjo player.  The Dillards, of course, were a legitimate bluegrass band, inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2010.  Aside from his work with the Dillards, Doug also teamed up with one-time Byrd member Gene Clark for the duo Dillard & Clark.
Lee Dorman (December 21, suspected heart attack, age 70):  bassist for the band Iron Butterfly, best-known for "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida."
Cleve Duncan (November 7, unknown cause, age 78):  member of the 50s vocal group the Penguins, best-known for their hit "Earth Angel."
Donald "Duck" Dunn (May 13, heart attack, age 70):  a bass player's bass player, he began with Booker T. & the MG's and moved on to session work across the spectrum of music.  He also played himself in the classic 1980 film The Blues Brothers.

Jimmy Elledge (June 10, stroke, age 69):  the man who had the first huge (million-selling) version of the Willie Nelson composition "Funny How Time Slips Away."
Jimmy Ellis (March 8, Alzheimer's disease, age 74):  a member of the Trammps, the band with the mid-70s hit "Disco Inferno."
Chris Ethridge (April 23, pancreatic cancer, age 65):  the bassist for Gram Parson's influential country-rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers.
Dan Evins (January 14, cancer, age 76):  the founder of Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, the "home cooking" restaurant that has started its own record label.  The label's releases include albums by the Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, and two Grammy-nominated releases by Dailey & Vincent.

Martin Fay (November 14, long illness, age 76):  one of the founders of the legendary Irish folk band the Chieftains.
Pete Fornatale (April 26, brain aneurysm, age 66):  one of WNEW's legendary DJs.
Isaac "Dickie" Freeman (October 17, long illness, age 84):  a member of the gospel group the Fairfield Four.
Gil Friesen (December 13, leukemia, age 75):  the president of A&M Records.

Robin Gibb (May 20, cancer, age 62):  a member of the Bee Gees.
Joel Goldsmith (April 29, cancer, age 56):  the son of composer Jerry Goldsmith, he was the composer for the music for the TV series Stargate SG-1.
Minnette Goodman (December 5, lung cancer, age 85):  the mother of late folk singer/songwriter Steve Goodman was also a dedicate supporter and promoter of the Chicago folk music scene.
Don Grady (June 27, cancer, age 68):  the My Three Sons actor was also a musician (he had a minor hit in 1966) and songwriter.
R.B. Greaves (September 27, prostate cancer, age 68):  the performer of the hit "Take a Letter, Maria."
Bob Green (January 26, unknown causes, age 80):  Anita Bryant's former husband was also her manager.
Andy Griffith (July 3, heart attack, age 86):  the folksy sheriff of Mayberry was a good guitarist and singer, having a comedy hit with "What It Was, Was Football" and a string of successful gospel recordings.  Griffith was one of three people from his 1960s TV series to die this year (along with Doug Dillard and George Lindsey).
Jackie Guthrie (October 14, liver cancer, age 68):  the wife of folk legend Arlo Guthrie.

Greg Ham (body found April 19, undetermined cause, age 58):  the flautist of the 80s Australian band Men at Work.
Marvin Hamlisch (August 7, brief illness, age 68):  composer who became internationally famous with his work on the soundtrack of the 1973 classic The Sting.
Richard Harding (May 12, cancer, age 82):  the owner of the Chicago folk club the Quiet Knight, where John Prine was discovered while opening for Kris Kristofferson.
Major Harris (November 9, congestive heart failure and liver failure, age 65):  a one-time member of the group the Delfonics who later had a solo hit with "Love Won't Let Me Wait."
Dee Harvey (December 1, complications of an illness, age 47):  an R&B singer best-known for  his 1991 song "Leave Well Enough Alone."
Levon Helm (April 19, cancer, age 71):  the backbone and back beat of The Band whose talent and reach spanned genres and decades.  He acted in several films beginning with Coal Miner's Daughter and later won Grammy awards for his solo projects Dirt Farmer and Ramble at the Ryman.
Walt Hensley (November 25, cancer, age 76):  the "Banjo Baron of Baltimore" played with many bluegrass bands including the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers and the Country Gentlemen.
Stephen Hill (August 5, heart attack, age 55):  gospel singer/songwriter who frequently appeared on the Gaither Homecoming shows and taught at the Stamps Baxter School of Music.
Larry Hoppen (July 24, unknown cause, age 61):  co-founder of the band Orleans, responsible for hits such as "Dance With Me" and "Still the One."
Michael Hossack (March 12, cancer, age 65):  drummer for the Doobie Brothers.
Whitney Houston (February 11, drowned in bathtub, age age 48):  singer and actress whose career was sadly eclipsed by, and ultimately ended by, her personal demons.

Etta James (January 20, leukemia, age 73):  a vocalist....oh, what a vocalist.
Billy Johnson (February 27, unknown cause, age 51):  country session and touring guitarist for the likes of Billy Walker, Jim Ed Brown and Porter Wagoner.
Tim Johnson (October 21, cancer, age 52):  a board member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International and author of over 100 songs including "Thank God for Believers," "I Let Her Lie" and "Do You Believe Me Now."
Davy Jones (February 29, heart attack, age 66):  one of the pre-fab four, the Monkees.
Peter Jones (May 18, brain cancer, age 58):  the drummer for the band Crowded House.
Jimmy Jones (August 2, unknown causes, age 82):  a songwriter responsible for the hit "Handy Man."

Dick Kniss (January 27, pulmonary disease, age 74):  a one-time bassist for folk music icons Peter, Paul & Mary, he went on to work with John Denver, including co-writing "Sunshine on My Shoulder."

Charlie Lamb (March 7, pneumonia, age 90):  a country music journalist for over 60 years who coined the term "with a bullet" to signify fast-rising songs on the music charts.
John Levy (January 20, natural causes, age 99):  the first African-American talent manager, he worked with jazz acts such as Nancy Wilson and Ramsey Lewis.
Tonmi Lillman (February 14, unknown causes, age 38):  drummer for metal bands Synergy and To/Die/For.
George Lindsey (May 6, illness, age 83):  "Goober" on The Andy Griffith Show later became a regular on Hee Haw.
Jon Lord (July 16, pulmonary embolism and pancreatic cancer, age 71):  songwriter and keyboard player for Deep Purple.
Andrew Love (April 12, Alzheimer's disease, age 70):  a member of the Memphis Horns section, he played on many Elvis records.
Eric Lowen (March 23, Lou Gehrig's disease, age 60):  half of the songwriting duo Lowen and Navarro, who wrote hits such as Pat Benatar's "We Belong."

Jim Marshall (April 5, cancer, age 88):  the inventor of the Marshall amplifiers.
Mark "Bam Bam" McConnell (May 24, kidney failure, age unknown):  the drummer for Sebastian Bach.
Jimmy McCraclin (December 20, hypertension & diabetes, age 91):  singer/songwriter who wrote the hit "The Walk."
Kathi McDonald (October 2, unknown cause, age 64):  blues/rock singer who also appeared on albums by the Rolling Stones and Joe Cocker.
John McGann (April 6, kidney disease, unknown age):  multi-instrumentalist and influential mandolin teacher.
Jon Mcintire (February 15, lung cancer, age 70):  the manager for the Grateful Dead during the 70s.
Scott McKenzie (August 18, illness, age 73):  folk-rock singer who had the hit "San Francisco (Flowers in Your Hair)."
Fred Milano (January 1, lung cancer, age 72):  a member of Dion and the Belmonts.
Ronnie Montrose (March 3, suicide [gunshot]/suffered from prostate cancer, age 64):  hard rock singer and session guitarist.
Danny Morrison (February 14, heart attack, age unknown):  country songwriter behind "Blaze of Glory" and "Is It Cold in Here."
Teddy Mueller (June 28, hepatitis C, age 57):  drummer for the hard rock band Axe.
Joe Muraryi (April 20, stroke, age 84):  the final surviving clarinet player who worked with Louis Armstrong.

Johnny Otis (January 17, long illness, age 90):  an R&B drummer and producer who wrote the classic "Willie and the Hand Jive."

Frank Peppiatt (November 6, bladder cancer, age 85):  one of the co-creators of Hee Haw.
Charles "Skip" Pitts (May 1, cancer, age 65):  guitarist who worked with Isaac Hayes, including on the classic song "Theme From Shaft."
Dory Previn (February 14, natural causes, age 86):  singer/songwriter best-known for writing the theme to the movie Valley of the Dolls.

Mark Reale (January 25, subarachnoid hemorrhage & Crohn's disease, age 56):  guitarist for the band Riot.
Herb Reed (June 4, chronic heart disease, age 83):  the last surviving original member of the legendary vocal group the Platters.
Natina Reed (October 26, hit by car, age 32):  member of the band Blaque, who had the hit "Bring It All Back to Me."
Tom "Cat" Reeder (June 30, heart attack, age 78):  WAMU's bluegrass host and a Disc Jockey Hall of Fame member.
Ken Regan (November 25, cancer, no age given):  legendary rock photographer who took photos of everyone from the Beatles to Muhammad Ali.
Larry Reinhardt (January 2, infection/cancer, age 63):  guitarist for the 60s band Iron Butterfly. He was one of two band members to die in 2012 (Lee Dorman was the other).
Jenni Rivera (December 8, plane crash, age 43):  Spanish pop singer with huge following in Mexico and America, she had signed a deal to appear in an ABC sitcom eight days before her death.
Kenny Roberts (April 29, natural causes, age 85):  country music singer and yodeler who also did some acting.
Buddy Rogers (May 30, unknown cause, age 73):  the owner of a chain of "Uncle Bud's Catfish" restaurants in Nashville was also a session drummer who worked with the likes of Jerry Reed and Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass.
Martin Rushent (June 4, unknown cause, age 62):  British rock record producer whose hits included the Human League's "Don't You Want Me."
"Sweet Joe" Russell (May 5, kidney disease, age unknown):  founder of the a cappella band the Persuasions.

Mike Scaccia (seizuire while onstage, December 22, age 47):  guitarist for the heavy metal band Ministry.
Earl Scruggs (March 28, natural causes, age 88):  the man for whom the banjo seemed to be invented, his three-finger style of playing revolutionized bluegrass music.
Ravi Shankar (December 11, respiratory and heart failure, age 92):  the world's foremost sitar player (and George Harrison's sitar teacher) was also the father of singer Nora Jones.
Dick Shelton (January 17, pneumonia, age 71):  country singer Blake Shelton's father.
Robert Sherman (March 5, illness, age 86):  one of the Sherman Brothers who wrote songs for numerous Disney films and the song "It's a Small World," which has a ride named after it at the Disney theme parks.
John Shuffler (December 21, illness/complications of a stroke, age 81):  the bass player in the Shuffler Family bluegrass band began his career playing with the Stanley Brothers.
Danny Sims (October 3, colon cancer, age 75):  the record producer credited with discovering Bob Marley.
Joe South (September 5, heart attack, age 72):  primarily considered a country songwriter because of songs such as "Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home," "Games People Play," and "Rose Garden," he also wrote the Deep Purple classic "Hush."
Chris Stamp (November 24, cancer, age 70):  manager for such acts as the Who and Jimi Hendrix.
John Stockfish (August 20, natural causes, age 69):  the longtime bassist for folk icon Gordon Lightfoot.
Billy Strangs (February 22, illness, age 81):  a man who wore many hats, including playing guitar on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, arranging songs such as Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Were Made for Walkin,' and writing songs including "A Little Less Conversation."
"Big Jim" Sullivan (October 2, heart disease/diabetes, age 71):  prolific British session guitarist who worked on hits for Gilbert O'Sullivan, Dusty Springfield, and Tom Jones.
Rollin "Oscar" Sullivan (September 7, leukemia, age 93):  half of the Grand Ole Opry comedy duo Lonzo & Oscar, Sullivan was also a member of Eddy Arnold's band in the 1940s.  His mandolin work can be heard on Arnold's early recordings.
Donna Summer (May 17, lung cancer, age 63):  initially known as the "disco queen" she continued to have hits (e.g., "Unconditional Love") long after the disco craze died.  She was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.
Stuart Swanlund (August 6, natural causes, age 54):  Marshall Tucker Band guitar player.

Richard Teeter (April 10, unknown cause, age 61):  drummer for the punk band the Dictators.
Jim Thomas (December 19, long illness, age 87):  Branson, Missouri businessman who is credited with starting the popularity of music theaters in the city.
Joe Thompson (February 20, natural causes, age 93):  African-American fiddler from North Carolina who performed with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and served as an ambassador for traditional music.

Herby Wallace (April 5, heart attack, age 64):  Steel Guitar Hall of Fame inductee who played on over 2,000 country sessions.
Willa Ward (August 12, natural causes, age 91):  member of the gospel group the Ward Sisters.
Mack Watkins (March 25, unknown causes, age unknown):  country session guitar player and the husband of Jeannie Kendall of the duo the Kendalls.
Doc Watson (May 29, complications from colon surgery and pneumonia, age 89):  one of the best friends a guitar could ever have.  His majestic playing thrilled audiences for decades, and his memorial to his late son, MerleFest, brought bluegrass, country and Americana artists and fans together in North Carolina for a quarter of a century. 
Bob Welch (June 7, suicide [gunshot], age 66):  lead guitarist for Fleetwood Mac who spearheaded their transition from blues band to mainstream rock, he was replaced by Lindsey Buckingham upon his departure.  He later found solo success with "Sentimental Lady," a re-working of a song he first recorded with Fleetwood Mac.  He was one of two former Fleetwood Mac members to die in 2012.
Kitty Wells (July 16, stroke, age 92):  in 1952 she kicked the door down for female country singers with "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," rightfully earning her the title "Queen of Country Music."
Bob Weston (January 3, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, age 64):  guitar player for Fleetwood Mac on the albums Mystery to Me and Penguin.  He was one of two former Fleetwood Mac members (along with Bob Welch, who was also on the Mystery to Me album) who died in 2012.
Andy Williams (September 25, bladder cancer, age 84):  more than a host of Christmas specials and the man who discovered the Osmond Brothers, he was one of the definitive pop vocalists in music.
Carmilla Williams (January 29, cancer, age 92):  opera soprano who had the distinction of being the first African-American woman to work with an American opera company.
Frank Wilson (September 27, lung infection, age 71):  a Motown producer and songwriter who co-wrote the Diana Ross & the Supremes hit "Love Child."
Belita Woods (May 14, heart failure, age 63):  a member of Parliament-Funkadelic and Brainstorm.

Adam Yauch (May 4, cancer, age 47):  founding member of the Beastie Boys.

Finally, a couple of deaths related to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which went from a Tony-nominated Broadway musical to a 1982 film starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton.  On December 12 Lawrence King, the man who wrote the original 1973 Playboy magazine article about the "chicken ranch" and later collaborated on the play, died from emphysema at the age of 83.  Twelve days later veteran character actor Charles Durning, who stole the show with his performance of "The Sidestep," died of natural causes at the age of 89.

Farewell, and thank you for the music.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Called It, Didn't I?

Category:  News

Frank Burns once said he wasn't right very often.  Even the doctor of dunce from M*A*S*H could have called some of the winners in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee balloting.   Heck, I got most of them right!  

As previously predicted, Randy Newman was inducted, as was the late queen of disco Donna Summer and legendary blues man Albert King.  I was also thrilled to see that the Hall of Fame is finally getting around to putting commercially successful but critically panned acts in, as evident by the induction of Heart and Rush.  This gives me hope that maybe next year we will see the nomination (note that not only are these household names not inducted, they have NEVER BEEN NOMINATED) of other legendary acts such as Steve Miller, Linda Ronstadt, the Electric Light Orchestra, the Moody Blues, and Kiss.  Yeah, Kiss's music may be lame but I guarantee you that more people know who they are than know who Erik B. & Rakem (one of this year's nominees) are.  And as I always like to point out, it is a hall of FAME.

Congratulations, especially, to Rush.  I have never cared for that band (Geddy Lee's voice is worse than a cat using a chalkboard for a scratching post), but who on this earth in his/her right mind can argue with their success?  Their native country put them in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame a decade and a half ago.  It's nice to see the music snobs in Cleveland put their tastes aside for a change and put the most worthy act in.  

Maybe next year Miller, Ronstadt, ELO and the Moodies will join them.