“We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness with the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member, and bandmate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher” Depeche Mode announced in a statement today regarding the passing of their founding member and keyboardist. Fletcher served many roles for Depeche Mode behind the scenes, including acting as the band’s de facto manager, and spokesperson (Rolling Stone).
Ricky Gardiner, a guitarist for Iggy Pop and David Bowie, has died aged 73, Pitchfork reports. Gardiner is best known for his close collaboration with Iggy Pop, with whom he co-wrote 'The Passenger'. In addition to Iggy Pop’s 'Lust for Life', Gardiner was a significant presence on David Bowie’s Low and Tonight.
Regine, who claimed to have invented the term “discotheque” as she ran a nightclub empire that stretched from Paris to Los Angeles, died Sunday at 92, Vulture reports. Regine opened her first nightclub in Paris’s Latin Quarter in the 1950s, installing turntables and disc jockeys instead of the usual juke boxes. Thus was born a new format, she claimed, the “discotheque.” Her venues included “Regine’s” in New York in the 1970s, and others in Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles. At its height, her nightlife empire had 22 venues.
Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins dies aged 50
"The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins. His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever"- the Foo Fighters said in a statement. Foo Fighters drummer Hawkins has died aged 50. Watch Foo Fighters play ‘Everlong’ at their final gig with Hawkins, at Lollapalooza Argentina on March 20th, the last song the drummer played before his death five days later.
Mark Lanegan dies aged 57
The powerful force behind Screaming Trees who was also known for his work in Queens of the Stone Age and The Gutter Twins, the unique Mark Lanegan has died at the age of 57, the New York Times reports. Lanegan was a pioneer of the grunge scene, fronting Screaming Trees from 1985 until their breakup […]
Ian McDonald dies aged 75
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ian McDonald, best known for his co-founding roles in both King Crimson and Foreigner, died Wednesday at the age of 75. McDonald was known as one of the key architects of progressive rock, playing both saxophone and keyboards in King Crimson and co-writing its iconic 1969 debut, 'In the Court of the Crimson King'. The record’s opening track, '21st Century Schizoid Man', featured McDonald’s wild double-tracked alto-sax solo. Guardian describes him as "a galvanising force in the group’s potent mix". McDonald also co-founded rock outfit Foreigner with guitarist Mick Jones.
Soul queen Betty Davis dies aged 78
Matty Karas wrote a lovely short obituary to Betty Davis - "the 1970s funk queen who wrote for the Commodores and the Chambers Brothers, was married to Miles Davis just long enough to turn him on to psychedelic rock, released three albums of raw, unbridled, sexually and musically liberated soul so far ahead of their time that we might not be there yet, and then, having failed to find an audience for her music, walked away".
Heavily sampled soul singer Syl Johnson dies at 85
Syl Johnson, Chicago soul and blues singer, has died aged 85, Pitchfork reports. His 1967 song 'Different Strokes' would go on to be sampled by Public Enemy ('Fight the Power'), Wu-Tang Clan ('Shame on a N---a') Eric B. & Rakim ('I Know You Got Soul'), Jay-Z and Kanye West ('The Joy'), De La Soul ('The Magic Number'), and countless others. WhoSampled cites over 300 songs that utilize portions of Johnson’s original, making it one of the most influential pieces of music in hip-hop.
Don Wilson, The Ventures co-founder, and influence to George Harrison and Jimmy Page, dies at 88
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.
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 of the Ronettes dies at 78
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.
Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang dies at age 77
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.
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...
Drakeo the Ruler killed at Once Upon a Time L.A. Festival
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.
The Roots bassist Leonard Hubbard dies aged 82
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.
Greg Tate - "an influential cultural critic and founding pillar of hip-hop journalism"
"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".
Broadway songwriter Stephen Sondheim dies aged 91
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.
Mick "The Man Who Shot the Seventies" Rock dies aged 72
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'.
Rapper Young Dolph shot and killed at age 36
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".
808 State’s Andy Barker dies at the age of 53
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'.
UB40 singer Astro dies aged 64
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'.
Virtuoso jazz guitarist Pat Martino dies aged 77
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.
Viagra Boys’ Benjamin Vallé dies aged 47
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".
Beloved music agent Steve Strange dies aged 53
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 Labelle dies aged 76
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.
Cabaret Voltaire’s Richard H. Kirk dies aged 65
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 festival pioneer George Wein dies aged 95
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.
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”.
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".