Randy Scruggs (1953-2018)
Randy’s death caught us all by surprise. He was a member of country music royalty. After all, he was the legendary, banjo giant Earl Scruggs’ kid. Songwriter, player and producer; he did it all. “Crown of Jewels” was a big all-star project for him back in 1998. But for me, he was part of one of the greatest truly ground breaking records of all time, John Hartford’s “Aeroplane”. Randy was just 64.
Nokie Edwards (1935-2018)
Edwin Hawkins (1943-2018)
Oakland, California’s pride and joy put the music of the church on Top 40 radio in the summer of ’69. Leading an awesome gospel choir Edwin had the whole country (me included) singing “Oh Happy Day” at the top of our lungs for 2:45 seconds. And for that, I’ll forever be grateful.
Gary Burden (1933-2018)
Gary with Neil Young. Photo by Henry Diltz
If you’re a certain age, there’s a good chance you’ve probably rolled a joint on designer Gary Burden’s work. So many of the top west coast LP designs of the 1970s were created by him along with photographer Henry Diltz. Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and The Doors had their iconic LP covers created for all time by Gary Burden. He was 84.
Russ Soloman (1925 – 2018)
John Barlow (1947-2018)
I have always been fascinated by the energy and collaborative creativity of song writing duos. There are Lennon-McCartney, Bacharach-David and Difford and Tilbrook, to name three. While I was following around the Dead back in the 1970s John Perry Barlow and Bob Weir had their pulse on the new Americana sound with some of the very best of the era. All the good stuff on “Ace”. Cassidy, Black-Throated Wind, Mexicali Blues, Walk in the Sunshine, and later Eyes of the World… So the story goes, Robert Hunter had had it with writing tunes with Bobby and backstage at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ one night Hunter said to Barlow, “you take Weir.” With that frustrated blessing a team was born! The two crafted some of the Grateful Dead and Weir’s best tunes and some fine love songs as well; Looks Like Rain and Bombs Away. Farewell rancher and renaissance man John Barlow.
Hugh Masekela (1939 – 2018)
An amazing musical ambassador has left us. Trumpeter Hugh Masekela died earlier this week at age 78, back home in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was lucky enough to meet this very charming legend during an on-air interview along with my co-host Pat Prescott when we were on the radio at CD 101.9 FM in New York City. What a thrill. As he smiled, laughed and told stories we had the opportunity to thank the man for fighting decades of apartheid with his golden horn.
Ray Thomas (1941-2018)
The new year has brought word that Ray Thomas of the Moodies is gone. I had just caught their PBS special and realized how impressive Ray and the Moody Blues’ run has been. They started as a beat group in the Beatle days. Later, I wore out “In Search of the Lost Chord” discovering hIs unique voice and flute sound. There are very few tunes in rock with that unique combo. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Mel Collins with King Crimson, Andy Kulberg from the Blues Project and some early Peter Gabriel flute work with Genesis. “Doctor Livingston” and “Dear Diary” were two of his signature tunes. RayThomas was 76.
Tom Petty (1950-2017)
Just like with the surprise death of Prince a year or so ago, maybe the sad truth about opioids will FINALLY shake up some officials and get some much needed action. Yes, I could go on and on about first playing Tom on WHCN radio back in 1976 and seeing so many of his shows… even met him after a gig at the Palladium in NYC. None of that stuff matters now. Over 60,000 Americans died last year due to opioids. Just maybe Tom’s family and friends can push the discussion further into the spotlight. That’s my prayer.
Pat DiNizio (1955 – 2017)
Totally caught off guard by this sad news. Geez, Pat was just 62. The Smithereens were one Jersey and the NY area’s favorite bands back in the 80s and 90s. Pat had the sound, attitude and perspective that made being around him or checking out a Smihtereens’ set special. Thanks for the great music Pat.
Any one who witnessed AC/DC knows just how important Malcolm was to rock and roll history. My first AC/DC show was at the Nassau Coliseum (October 8,1980) on the “Back in Black” tour. They made that big barn feel like a hot, crowded bar with the greatest band on the planet tearing it up. Malcolm and brother Angus were a deadly guitar combo and the band’s driving engine.
Arranging strings and orchestras in the world of rock and roll has never been easy. If not careful you’re never more that a measure or two away from syrupy crap. But boy, Paul had the knack. I can think of three amazing records right right off the bat; Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, the Stones “Moonlight Mile” and the Dead’s “Terrapin Station”. Hearing of Paul’s passing Elton John tweeted “So Heartbroken. He made me the artist I am.” Elton’s “Madman Across the Water” and “Tiny Dancer” are classics thanks to those string arrangements. Paul Buckmaster went to the Royal Conservatory in England and managed to keep one foot in classical and the other in rock. No easy task.
Walter Becker (1950-2017)
Back in the the early 90s I had the chance to interview Walter the morning after he had extended an olive branch to Donald Fagan over at the Lone Star Cafe in NYC. Apparently his surprise guest appearance brought the house down and it looked like he and Donald had buried the axe. With little sleep he was in my radio studio at CD 101.9 with two new jazz discoveries that he had just produced. While presenting Andy LaVerne and Lee Ann Ledgerwood, Walter was warm, friendly, coy and smart. He autographed my copy “Gaucho” still in the glow of the gig the night before. Yes, a Steely Dan project might indeed be again possible. That was big music news.
Hard to believe he’s gone. His body of work will go on forever.
Troy Gentry (1967-2017)
This never gets easy. I was on the air the night the Skynryd plane went down and when Stevie Ray Vaughan died. The sad news about Troy Gentry landed on my doorstep this morning. He was killed in a chopper crash in NJ yesterday as he headed to a gig. Montgomery-Gentry was a band that my 17 year old son turned me on to and Harrison just got a chance to see them in concert a couple of months ago. M-G was a tight, sharp, fun and talented country band with a sound that was everything from Garth, to John Mellencamp to Lynryd Skynryd. Being a traveling musician is such a dangerous job.
Glen Campbell (1936 – 2017)
I would have LOVED to have sat down and interviewed the one and only Glen Campbell. My first four questions; the Wrecking Crew, guitars, John Hartford, and being a Beach Boy.
Glen Campbell’s ‘Wrecking Crew’ memories
Glen Campbell discusses the one time he was a Beach Boy in an exclusive clip from the bonus features of “The Wrecking Crew.”
Chuck Loeb (1955 – 2017)
Sitting here with my morning coffee dealing with the sad news of Chuck Loeb’s passing. Dad, husband, friend and a truly gifted guitarist. Chuck was that special breed of player, a total chameleon, always in service of the song, laying down the perfect guitar part. A beautiful cat has left us. (photo by Bob McClanahan)
Geri Allen (1957 – 2017)
So young and so talented. Sad.
Geri Allen, Brilliantly Expressive Pianist, Composer and Educator, Dies at 60 – WBGO.ORG
Geri Allen, a widely influential jazz pianist, composer and educator who defied classification while steadfastly affirming her roots in the hard-bop
Gregg Allman (1947-2017)
I’ll always feel a strong connection to Gregg Allman. We both lost our brothers the same night back in October of 1971. Oddly, a new copy of “At Fillmore East” has been on my CD player all week and my 17 year old son had “Queen of Hearts” playing on his playlist while we were driving around a couple of days ago. Goodbye Gregg.
Jonathan Demme (1944-2017)
So sad to hear about the loss of director Jonathan Demme as I head to the Tribeca Film Fest in NYC. He grew up on Long Island and for so many music fans his 1984 “Stop Making Sense ” with Talking Heads was one of the all-time great rock films.
Jonathan Demme (left) with David Bryne (right)
Chuck Berry (1926-2017)
Farewell to the SOURCE! Anyone playing an electric guitar and some rock n roll knows that.
James Cotton (1935 – 2017)
Sad to hear about James Cotton. He was 81 years young. I wonder how many of us picked up Hohner harps thinking “I can do that.” (and of course, we couldn’t) Man, we used to see him at the Shaboo Inn in Wilimantic, Ct. ALL the time.
Dave Valentine (1950-2017)
I loved his playing and Dave Valentine always had the twinkle of a little kid in his eyes…especially when his flute was nearby. We used to share stories about pet parrots!
Al Jarreau (1940 – 2017)
Remembering Al Jarreau on Grammy night. His incredible voice earned him Grammys for jazz, pop, R&B and children’s music. No small feat. He was always in and out of CD 101.9 in NYC and later worked with us at KKSF in SF. Sigh
Fred Hellerman (1927 – 2016)
Farewell Fred Hellerman (with the guitar). It’s Labor Day and no group played more union hall gigs than The Weavers. Fred went on to produce Arlo’s classic “Alice’s Restaurant”. He left us with a perfect quote especially when working on a project; “keep moving it forward, and sooner later you’ll be in exactly the right place.” Ain’t it the truth.
Rudy Van Gelder (1924-2016)
ANSWER; Because Rudy Van Gelder engineered the session!
QUESTION; How come so many jazz records sound so damn good?
Jane Little (1929 – 2016)
Farewell to a musician’s musician. Jane Little, the 87 year old bassist with the Atlanta Sym. Orchestra, died on stage yesterday performing “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. She was recently added to the Guinness World Book of Records because of her incredible 71 year stint with the orchestra. Jane started when she was 16 playing bass with their youth symphony.
Dan Hicks (1941 – 2016)
The sad parade of musical friends leaving us doesn’t seem to want to slow up. Goodbye Dan Hicks. Your wildly original music always added so much spice and cool to my radio shows, parties and LIFE.
Paul Kantner (1941 – 2016)
Just received word here on the coast that Paul Kantner (center w/ glasses) has died. He was 74. For fifty years he was the leader of the Jefferson Airpane. Including, all the ego involved in leading the band. I remember once interviewing him at WNEW-FM when the Starship were in town. A natural critic with a booming voice who didn’t miss a trick. He had the coolest collection of 12 string guitars! I’ll think of him as I drive by Golden Gate Park on my way home tonight.
Glenn Frey (1948 – 2016)
Gotta say that the old Irish expression about death coming in threes has me a bit spooked this afternoon. Bowie, Natalie Cole and now Glenn Frey. Each one giving it 150%. I hope the music world takes a gentle pause for a spell. Glenn gave us a ton of great music AND was quite the musicologist in his own right.
George Martin (1926 – 2016)
From “Please, Please Me” to “Sgt. Pepper” Sir George and his crew of engineers rolled tape, collecting takes and helping to steer that creative force known as The Beatles.
I walked down that stairway once upon a time thinking about just how important he was to the recipe. Thank you George Martin for your vision and dedication. You were one of a kind.
Maurice White (1941 – 2016)
There you were, playing that kalimba, singing your butt off, and fronting one of the finest bands I have ever witnessed. Maurice White, you will always be a shining star.
David Bowie (1947 – 2016)
In between these two pictures there were ten lifetimes
of creativity, celebrity, artistry and humanity.
Allen Toussaint (1938 – 2015)
NOLA’s favorite son has left us. I know, I’ve blogged about Allen before…and I’m sure there’ll be more to come. He was such a force and at the same time, a gentle giant. He was truly one of America’s great songwriters. When he sat down at the piano (saw him again in concert just last year) all of us in the audience were like little kids eating out of his musical hand. His stories both musical as well as the ones around the songs always made me smile. Isn’t that what music is all about? Making you feel good (or at least feeling better).
Bruce Lundvall (1935 – 2015)
Music man Bruce Lundvall has left us. He was a class act with so much jazz knowledge and passion. It’s funny with David Letterman in all the news, one of my favorite Bruce stories took place right in front of the Letterman/Ed Sullivan Theater back in NYC 20 years ago. Bruce and I were getting out of a cab and he pointed not to the Sullivan Theater but to a go-go bar across the street and said, “Do you know what that was way back when?” I shook my head “no”. “Well Ray, that was Charlie Parker’s Birdland, the world’s most famous jazz club!” Then he hit me with his big smile as music history washed over me. Thank you Mr. Lundvall.
Jeff Golub (1955 – 2015)
I heard the news this morning of the loss of guitarist Jeff Golub. What a wonderful soul. Put a Strat in that man’s hands and WATCH OUT! Jeff, you will be missed and my thoughts and prayers are with your family.
(Left to Right) Jeff Golub, Joycee Cooling, Ray White and Jay Wagner
Joe Cocker (1944 – 2014)
I just heard from the BBC that Joe Cocker has left the building. How sad.
Johnny Winter (1944 – 2014)
Johnny Winter is gone. Man, he was the REAL DEAL. I bought The Progressive Blues Experiment when I was 17 and wore the damn thing out! Thank you John Dawson Winter the 3rd. You will be missed.
Pete Seeger (1919-2014)
The news came over my computer late the other night. The gentle and mighty Pete Seeger was gone. God, what a life! Ninety-four years of making a difference.
Lou Reed (1942-2013)
When the great Lou Reed left us a recently I thought of Laurie Anderson immediately. My heart and thoughts go out to her and those close to him. She has responded to her husband’s passing with a letter to the world (courtesy of the East Hampton Star) that we’ve included here.
For Lou Reed
October 31, 2013 – 1:15pm
To our neighbors:
What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us.
Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.
Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!
Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.
Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.
— Laurie Anderson his loving wife and eternal friend
George Duke (1946 – 2013)
We lost George Duke earlier this week. Just 67 with so many good years ahead. What a keyboard player! He was a funky, focused, one of a kind master at the piano.