Wilson (far right) with The Ventures

Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of surf rock legends The Ventures, has died of natural causes at age 88, Ultimate Classic Rock reports. The Ventures had massive hits with their rendition of Johnny Smith's 'Walk, Don't Run' and the 'Hawaii Five-O' theme. They've been cited as an influence by The Beatles' George Harrison, The Beach Boys' Carl Wilson, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty and others.

January 21, 2022

Meat Loaf dies aged 74

US singer and actor Meat Loaf has died aged 74, with unconfirmed reports suggesting he had died of Covid-19, Rolling Stone reports. Meat Loaf’s 1977 debut album 'Bat Out of Hell' remains one of the biggest-selling albums in history, whereas his 1993 album 'Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell' produced the global hit single 'I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)'. He completed the 'Bat Out of Hell' trilogy with 'The Monster Is Loose' in 2006. The three albums have sold more than 65m copies worldwide. Meat Loaf appeared in more than 50 films and TV shows, among them 'Fight Club', 'Wayne’s World' and 'Spiceworld the Movie'.

Ronnie Spector, who rose to fame as the leader of 1960s girl group the Ronettes and emerged as one of pop music’s first female stars, has died at the age of 78. "With her towering beehive hairdo and powerfully melancholic, melodramatic voice, Spector is among the most distinctive figures in American pop" - Guardian points out.

Michael Lang, famed co-creator of the Woodstock music festival, died Saturday aged 77, Fox News reports. Lang was just 24 years old when Woodstock took place in August 1969 in New York's Catskill Mountains. Officially billed The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, An Aquarian Exposition, the festival staged on a dairy farm in White Lake became a seminal moment in music history.

When the music's over
December 28, 2021

A sad list: 600 musician who died this year

MusicREDEF compiled a list of more than 600 people from the music world who died this year - "men and women who deeply enriched our musical lives—and who continue to live through the music they made or helped make possible". A few of them are Lee "Scratch" Perry, DMX, Charlie Watts, Chick Corea, Vicente Fernández, Drakeo the Ruler, Sophie, Lou Ottens, Joey Jordison...

Rapper Drakeo the Ruler was fatally stabbed backstage at the Once Upon a Time in L.A. Festival in Los Angeles on Saturday night, TMZ reports. The 28-year-old rapper was stabbed with a knife during an altercation that took place around 8:30 p.m. local time. He was taken to an area hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Following the incident, the remainder of Once Upon a Time in L.A. was canceled, including headlining sets from 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. LA Times reports about LA's hip-hop community mourning the loss of the rapper.

Longtime member of the Roots, Leonard Nelson “Hub” Hubbard, has died at age 62 from multiple myeloma, The Philadelphia Enquirer reports. Hub joined the Roots in 1992, has played on a string of early Roots albums, and had left the Roots following his 2007 cancer diagnosis. Hub co-wrote and arranged a number of Roots compositions, and performed as a member of the live band during his 15-year tenure. He also played with the Roots in 2001, when they supported Jay-Z during his MTV Unplugged concert, which was later released as a live album.

"Tate was celebrated for his work analyzing Black artistry and influence, and he was at the front of the first wave of journalism documenting the birth of hip-hop. While working at The Village Voice from 1987 to 2003, Tate explored the burgeoning aesthetics, influences, and values of hip-hop, contextualizing it within both Black creative lineages and white-dominated spaces of popular culture" - Pitchfork wrote after the news of Greg Tate's passing at 64. Greg kick-started a band as a music critic - "I invented a band I wanted to hear but could not find. Three guitars two drummers two basses a flute one trumpet one alto two cellos one violin three singers acoustic piano synths turntables triangles laptops optional and a partridge family in a pear tree. Five years later this band still follows the teachings of Shelley Manne: never play anything the same way once".

One of Broadway’s most renowned and prolific songwriters, Stephen Sondheim has died aged 91, CNN reports. Sondheim is perhaps best known for writing the lyrics to legendary Broadway musicals 'West Side Story' and 'Gypsy'. Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics to a slew of musicals, and has over the course of his long career, won eight Tony awards, eight Grammys, and an Oscar.

Celebrated rock photographer Mick Rock, once known as "The Man Who Shot the Seventies", has dies aged 72, NME reports. He worked as David Bowie's official photographer during Bowie's glam-rock years, and also shot Ozzy Osbourne, Pink Floyd and their former singer Syd Barrett, T-Rex's Marc Bolan and the Sex Pistols. Rock's famous album covers included a shot of Queen with their faces lit up against a black background for 'Queen II'; the stark black-and-white photo for Reed's Transformer'; and a shirtless Iggy Pop for The Stooges' 'Raw Power'.

Indie rap star Young Dolph was shot and killed Wednesday in his hometown of Memphis while buying cookies, when a gunman drove up and shot him through the window, the New York Times reports. He was 36 years old. Stereogum insists "Dolph always rapped in a booming, authoritative, no-nonsense style. He was slick and funny, and he recalled earlier generations of street-rap".

Andy Barker, the longtime member of Manchester electronic music group 808 State, has died at the age of 53, NME reports. The band confirmed the news on social media, saying he died “after a short period of illness”. 808 State achieved commercial success when their song 'Pacific State' was played on BBC Radio One. 808 State continued their music career by releasing five more studio LPs, collaborating with numerous artists like Guy Garvey, Bernard Sumner, James Dean Bradfield, and Björk. Adding to that, the group is also renowned for hits including 'In Yer Face', and 'The Only Rhyme That Bites'.

Terence “Astro” Wilson, longtime member and “toaster” in the British reggae band UB40, has died at the age of 64, Brookly Vegan reports. Wilson joined UB40 shortly after the band’s formation in late-1978; with the group, Astro served as their “toaster”, delivering spoken word or rap-style vocals over the band’s brand of reggae music. UB40 had the biggest hits with 'Red Red Wine', '(I Can't Help) Falling in Love With You', and 'Kingston Town'.

Jazz guitarist Pat Martino, revered for the fluid precision and blistering speed of his playing died on Monday at the age of 77. In 1980, after undergoing neurosurgery that saved his life, he was forced to relearn the instrument. Regardless of the setting, Martino played the guitar with an intensity of focus and impeccable clarity at even the most dizzying pace, NPR insists.

The co-founder and the guitarist of the Stockholm post-punk band Viagra Boys, has died aged 47. Representatives of the band shared this lovely note with Pitchfork: “Benjamin or “Benis” as we knew him, spread laughter and happiness wherever he went and we will cherish the memories we have of touring the world together. Benjamin, we love you with all of our hearts and Viagra Boys would have been nothing without you. This planet just lost one the good ones”.

Songwriter and composer Leslie Bricusse, well known for the Nina Simone classic 'Feeling Good', and the theme songs to the James Bond films 'Goldfinger' and 'You Only Live Twice', has died at the age of 90. Bricusse won two Oscars - Best Original Song 'Talk to the Animals' from 1968's 'Doctor Dolittle' and Best Original Score for 'Victor/Victoria' in 1983. His songbook also includes 'Candy Man' and 'Pure Imagination' from 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory'. BBC remembers the "lyrical genius of film".

Steve Strange, widely respected live agent and co-founder of X-ray Touring, has died aged 53 after a short illness, Music Business Worldwide reports. A statement from X-ray reads: “His overwhelming love of music lead to a 30 year plus career guiding the touring of an eclectic mix of artists from all genres of music that he adored". Strange’s artist roster down the years has included Eminem, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Queens of the Stone Age, The Charlatans, Jimmy Eat World and many more. Emma Banks of CAA wrote on social media: “Steve Strange – a truly good and loving person without a bad bone in his body. The life and soul of every occasion, a music man to the core and dedicated to his clients, friends and family".

Sarah Dash of the powerhouse R&B trio Labelle died on September 20th at age 76, just three days after her last performance. As a founding member of Labelle, Dash appeared on their ubiquitous 1975 dance floor classic 'Lady Marmalade', adding sensuality to the trio’s sound - heard especially in Dash’s parts on the deep cut '(Can I Speak to You Before You Go to) Hollywood'. Dash’s last performance was September 18, when she joined LaBelle onstage in Atlantic City for an impromptu reunion. “She was healthy and fine and sang her face off” - her bandmate Patti LaBelle says - “The crowd went crazy. She had the best send-off. If that’s the way you’re going to leave, she left like a queen”, Rolling Stone reports.

Kirk, the first from the left

Richard H. Kirk, founding member and the sole full-time member of industrial icons Cabaret Voltaire, has died at age 65, Treble reports. Formed in Sheffield, England in 1973 by Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson, Cabaret Voltaire used reel-to-reel tape loops and early synthesizers to create a sound as bleak as the crumbling factory buildings in their hometown. Along with their Dada-influenced live performances, Cabaret Voltaire helped create what would become known as industrial music and were and remain hugely influential with classic records like 'Nag Nag Nag', 'Red Mecca', and 'The Crackdown' on bands such as New Order, Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, and many others.

Music impresario George Wein, who spawned the modern music festival when he helped launch the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals, has died at the age of 95, Variety reports. Wein co-founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. Newport was the first and largest event of its kind in the U.S., setting the standard for outdoor music festivals to come.

The rain has stopped
September 13, 2021

UK rock hero Michael Chapman dies aged 80

The legendary British guitarist and songwriter, Michael Chapman, an influence on Ryley Walker, William Tyler, Steve Gunn, Meg Baird and Thurston Moore, has died at the age of 80, Guardian reports. His career started in the late 1960s - "on a rainy night in 1966 I went into a pub in Cornwall but I couldn’t afford to pay to go in,” he once recalled. “I said, tell you what, I don’t want to stay outside in the rain, I’ll play guitar for half an hour. I’ve been at it ever since”.

Ode to joyful rebellion
September 08, 2021

Beethoven - a tornado on and off the piano

History of Yesterday remembers the notoriety of the classic music genius: "Beethoven famously chopped the legs off of his piano to feel the notes from the floor vibrations. When that stopped working, he attached a metal rod to the piano. While composing, he bit the rod to feel the notes... When aristocrats attended his performance and talked in the crowd, he would stop playing, turn, and stare at them from his bench, his eyes cutting lasers out into the crowd. There would be painful silence until he’d resume".

Legendary Jamaican producer and a pioneer of dub, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, whose pioneering accomplishments made him of of reggae's most eccentric producer-vocalist, has died aged 85 in Jamaica, Jamaica Observer reports. State Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed the news in a tweet on Sunday, adding that Perry has "worked with and produced for various artists, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Congos, Adrian Sherwood, the Beastie Boys, and many others. Undoubtedly, Lee Scratch Perry will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music fraternity".

Inge Ginsberg has composed songs for Nat King Cole, Doris Day and Dean Martin, and in her 90s she decided to reinvent herself as a death metal singer. In a documentary, she said she had turned to death metal because she wanted to be heard. She has died at age 99, the New York Times reports

Charlie Watts in 1965

Charlie Watts, longtime drummer of The Rolling Stones, has “passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family” at the age od 80, NME reports. Watts joined The Rolling Stones shortly after their formation in January 1963. He was the only member of the band other than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to have been featured on all of their studio albums, and also never missed a gig.

"Don Everly, half of one of rock and roll's pioneering groups, The Everly Brothers, has died. The musician, known for singing close harmonies with his brother, was 84" - NPR reports. They left behind hits such as 'All I Have To Do Is Dream', 'Wake Up Little Susie', 'Bye Bye Love' and 'Cathy's Clown', influencing the likes of music giants the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel and many others.

Nanci Griffith, a Texas-born singer-songwriter celebrated in folk and country-music circles for her crystalline voice and storytelling skill, died Friday in Nashville at age 68, Tennessean reports. Throughout her career, Griffith cornered a self-described "folkabilly" sound that merged elements of country music with her empathetic folk sensibilities.

The former CBS Records president who may have been the most powerful person in the music business in the closing years of the 20th century has died, Billboard reports. Walter Yetnikoff helped sell megastars like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and Billy Joel. Yetnikoff also cultivated a reputation as a loud, snarling, hard-partying power broker, and was a symbol of an era of past excesses.

"Paul Johnson’s signature meld of disco loops, overdriven kicks and unfiltered sleaze was nothing short of alchemy. Even when chopping up the vocals of Leroy Burgess or Roy Ayers, Johnson’s records simmered with raucous charisma, a gift that made him stand out amongst greats of the ’90s house scene" - DJ Mag writes about Paul Johnson, who died aged 50 "leaving behind a chasm in house music".

Joey Jordison was a founding member of Slipknot in 1995, played the drums on the band's five first albums, staying until his departure in December 2013. He later revealed that he suffered from transverse myelitis, a neurological disease that limited his the ability to play the drums. Not only was he one of metal’s premier drummers, he was a key songwriter in the group, responsible for co-writing some of Slipknot’s best-known songs, Blabbermouth reports.

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