Category Archives: Music World Death

Funky Drummer Clyde Stubblefield 1943-2017 R.I.P.



By Fred Mills

One of the most acclaimed – and sampled – drummers, Clyde Stubblefield, passed away yesterday, Feb. 18, from kidney failure. He was 73.

Stubblefield of course was James Brown’s drummer at the time Brown and his JB’s cut signature track “The Funky Drummer.” The 1970 tune, or more accurately the 20-second drum fill in the middle of the song, would one day become one of the most recognizable and heavily sampled loop in hip-hop history.Think  Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” “Bring the Noise” and “Rebel Without a Pause,” N.W.A’s “Fuck tha Police” and Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Run-D.M.C.’s “Run’s House” and Beastie Boys’ “Shadrach.”

Below, you can hear the track, and after that is a video that instructs you how to actually play the drum loop.

Stubblefield had played with Otis Redding and worked as a session man before joining Brown’s band in 1965. After leaving in 1971 he continued working, releasing some solo records and also forming the Funkmasters. According to Rolling Stone he was in poor health in recent years:

“While Stubblefield did not have health insurance, in April 2016, Stubblefield revealed that Prince secretly paid the $90,000 in medical bills the drummer accumulated while undergoing chemotherapy for bladder cancer. Prince considered Stubblefield one of his “drumming idols,” Stubblefield told Billboard following Prince’s death.”

Accolades from across the musical spectrum have poured in following his death, among them Bootsy Collins, who  wrote on Facebook Saturday “We lost another Pillar Stone that held up the Foundation of Funk,” And Questlove wrote on Instagram on Saturday, “The Funky Funkiest Drummer Of All Time, Clyde Stubblefield thank you for everything you’ve taught me. The spirit of the greatest grace note left hand snare drummer will live on thru all of us.”



FAREWELL TO… Game Theory’s Gil Ray


1956-2017 R.I.P. Ace drummer also manned the kit for the Rain Parade in recent years. Above photo by Robert Toren.

UPDATE 1/29: Gil’s wife Stacey wrote a moving comment on Facebook, noting that she struggled all week to find the right words. Ultimately, she found the perfect words.You can read it HERE.

By Fred Mills

This one, for obvious reasons to anyone who visits the BLURT site on even an irregular basis, hurts more than most. Gil Ray, erstwhile drummer for ‘80s power pop legends Game Theory, passed away on January 24 following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was only 60, and he leaves behind an extended family of fans, friends, and fellow musicians that, even as I write this obituary, is grieving as heavily and publicly as any artists I can think of from the recent past. Just one visit to Gil’s Facebook page will confirm the outpouring of sorrow, accolades, and remembrances. Many have also posted pictures of Gil from over the years, and one friend also posted an image that I’m taking the liberty of reposting here, because I think it sums the man up in ways I could never match:


I suppose you can peruse his overall bio readily enough at his Wikipedia page, which summarizes his long career, which started in Charlotte, NC, in the late ‘70s, hit an early peak in the mid ‘80s on the West Coast after he joined Scott Miller’s band Game Theory, and after a spell resumed, as drummer for Miller’s subsequent outfit, the Loud Family. He also embarked on several side projects, additionally cutting a wonderful solo album in 2006, I Am Atomic Man!

Then in 2012 he was tapped for kit duties in the Rain Parade, and enjoyed renewed fame alongside his fellow Paisley Underground alumni. BLURT’s own Jud Cost documented a particularly memorable 2013 concert in San Francisco that featured the Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock, and the Bangles.

On a personal level, I feel compelled to add that I’m eternally grateful to have reconnected, if on a long distance level via Facebook, with Gil during the past six months. Whenever I got to see Game Theory back in the day, he and I would chat and catch up on North Carolina goings-on, especially about Charlotte since I was living there at the time. (He was clearly the hometown hero when GT came to Charlotte, with old friends coming up, hugging, asking him what he’d been doing aside from the band, etc.) As it turns out, Gil had seen some of the Game Theory coverage that yours truly and fellow GT fanatic Michael Toland had been diligently publishing here at BLURT. Among those clips:

Dead Center” album review, 2014

Nighttime of The Season” feature, 2015

Lolita Nation” bonus track MP3, 2015

Unreleased Live ’88 track” MP3, 2015

The Big Shot Chronicles” album review, 2016

Then there was a piece written last year by Jason Cohen and featuring exclusive photos by Robert Toren. It concerned the band during its Big Shot Chronicles period, and for some reason I decided to title it “This Band Could Be Your Life”—yes, a nod to the classic Michael Azerrad book about the alt- and college-rock era in the ‘80s—because Game Theory seemed so emblematic of what a lot of us, from fans to writers to musicians, experienced during that time. Below is one of Toren’s photos that he so kindly shared with us.


Gil seemed particularly surprised and proud that his old band commanded such reverence among both his fans and his peers, and he expressed his appreciation to me for remembering him and his bandmates so fondly.  And after we had reconnected after all these years, he popped in from time to time with an observation, comment, or anecdote regarding something I’d posted at BLURT. A passage from the Cohen piece involving Gil now stands out in my mind, and by way of tribute, I’m going to repost that section here. Meanwhile, to Gil, all I can say is—you are already deeply, permanently missed, and while I know this is a cliché that gets uttered all the time, at least we still have the music and the memories. As I type this, I’ve been spinning GT music for the past hour. I never get tired of it. Please say hello from all of us here to Scott Miller when you run into him…

By Jason Cohen, from “This Band Could Be Your Life” article: In the fall of 2012, The Rain Parade announced that they’d be getting back together to join the Tim Lee 3 at an Atlanta benefit show for Lee’s Windbreakers compadre Bobby Sutliff, who’d been in a bad car accident. The Rain Parade’s Matt Piucci posted on Facebook that they needed a drummer, prompting both Lee and Dan Vallor (the other co-producer of these reissues) to send separate Facebook messages to Ray, who hadn’t played live in 12 years.

He got the gig. “It was one of the best things a 56 year-old guy could have dreamed of,” Ray says. “We were meant for each other. Some of the best shows I have ever been involved with were the Rain Parade shows. The fact that I was a former member of Game Theory made it even more special. Worlds collided in a fabulous way.”

I’d gotten to know Tim and his wife, Susan Bauer Lee, both on the Internet and IRL, when they started playing in the Tim Lee 3 around 2001. When the Sutliff benefit was first announced, I tweeted that I wished the Dream Syndicate and the Rain Parade could follow that up by playing SXSW with the Windbreakers and Game Theory. When the Three O’Clock reunited to play Coachella 2013, I fantasized out loud on Twitter about Game Theory following suit (and more than once). So when the Lees heard from Gil about Scott’s death, Susan knew I’d be almost as heartbroken as she and Tim were, and sent me a Twitter DM.

Losing Scott in the social media era–balancing public virtual grief with private grief–was “one of the most messed up things I’ve had to deal with, ever,” says Ray. “I did not know how to process and handle my loss, his family’s loss, and his closest friends’ loss…on Facebook.” This was especially true in the days before Miller’s death became public knowledge. That ended up happening during the Three O’Clock’s April 17 show at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, between the two Coachella weekends.

“I knew it was going to be a very emotional night,” says Ray. “Before the band went on, Matt showed me his phone. It was now public knowledge. We hugged each other and cried. I looked up and a large part of the audience were staring at their phones. I will never, ever forget that. It was the most emotionally charged moment of my adult life. This was the new world. This was social media. This was fucked up. But I made it through somehow.”

Then the Rain Parade came to Texas to play Austin Psych Fest. It’s a show I wouldn’t have missed in any case, but now it was also something of a wake. It was where I needed to be to feel Scott’s loss, but also to temporarily fill the void. And it was where Ray and his Rain Parade bandmates needed to be to expel their own grief at high volume. A show of strength. An offering to the rock’n’roll gods. One more for St. Michael.

“The audience knew,” Ray says. “They gave me great respect, and we played what Matt called ‘our most punk rock’ set ever. It was healing, for the moment.”

Below: Gil and Suzi Ziegler performing at a 2013 memorial for Scott Miller. Via Wikipedia: By Lwarrenwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Allman Bros.’ Butch Trucks R.I.P.; Death Ruled Suicide


Legendary drummer born in 1947 helped change the face of rock music in general, and Southern music in particular.

By Fred Mills

The news that broke a few days ago, Jan. 24, was that Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks had passed away at the age of 69, but no details were given at the time. Now word arrives via the Miami Herald that the cause of death has been ruled a suicide, according to the West Palm Beach police department.

According to the newspaper:

“Trucks, 69, shot himself in the head with a pistol as his wife of 25 years stood near him in their downtown West Palm Beach condo, the records show. While authorities have only said so far that the death was under investigation while foul play wasn’t suspected, the transcript of a frantic call made to West Palm Beach Police about 6:00 p.m. Tuesday provides the shocking details of the rock’n’roller’s death at home in the downtown waterfront Villa Del Lago complex. A woman caller who is unidentified on the transcript but described as “hysterical” dialed 911 and told the dispatcher her “husband just shot himself” with a pistol.”

Police were dispatched to the Trucks home where the musician apparently later died. An autopsy has been ordered. No official statement has been issued by the Allman Brothers or by Trucks’ PR agent yet.

Trucks had been in the middle of a tour with his own band, Freight Train Band, which played shows in Asheville, Atlanta, Athens and Rocky Mount, VA, a couple of weeks prior to his death. A full summer tour had been scheduled as well.

Blurt extends our deepest condolences to Trucks’ family, his band, and the extended Allman Brothers family. Speaking personally, I was privileged to see the band as early as 1971 and many times since then – Trucks and his signature percussion style has an integral part of the mix and he was never less than inspiring.

Can’s Jaki Liebezeit 1938-2017 R.I.P.


Influential drummer helped create that classic motorik Krautrock beat.

By Fred Mills

Yesterday (Jan. 22) the world lost another member of legendary Krautrock pioneers Can. Drummer Jaki Liebezeit died of natural causes, at the age of 78; the band’s guitarist, Michael Karoli, died in 2001.

Can’s official Facebook wrote “It is with great sadness we have to announce that Jaki passed away this morning from sudden pneumonia. He fell asleep peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones. We will miss him hugely.”


Can got together in 1968 featuring Liebezeit, Karoli, keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, and bassist Holger Czukay; during their first several years the band included vocalists Malcolm Mooney and then Damo Suzuki. For his part, Liebezeit had come out of the German jazz scene and he had a huge influence on Can’s overall sound, which was highly rhythmic and trancelike at times (see: “motorik” beat:

And in addition to appearing on all of Can’s albums, he formed his own side projects, among them Phantomband and Club Off Chaos, while also playing on records by Neu!’s Michael Rother, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode, Jah Wobble, and Burnt Friedman.

On a personal note: I interviewed Jaki in 1999 for a lengthy Magnet magazine piece on Can (I interviewed the other three members as well). I found him to be more than gracious, willing to suffer through my fanboy trivia questions, and more than happy to provide crucial information about Can and about his own career. Watch BLURT shortly for a republishing of that Can story, and meanwhile, check out some choice live clips of the band during its early ’70s heyday.

Jazz Critic Nat Hentoff 1925-2017 R.I.P.


The music world loses a genuine lion of journalism.

By Fred Mills

He was perhaps the greatest, most intuitive music critic ever—not simply for the jazz milieu. Nathan Irving “Nat” Hentoff passed away Saturday, Jan. 7, at the age of 91, of natural causes at his NYC apartment, his son Tom told the Associated Press. Hentoff is said to have “died surrounded by family listening to Billie Holiday, his son Nick tweeted.

According to Rolling Stone, the Boston-born Hentoff was first a radio personality with a weekly jazz program in Boston.

“In 1953, Hentoff moved to New York City and began writing for jazz magazine Down Beat; he was fired from that job in 1957 after attempting to employ an African-American writer. The following year, Hentoff joined the Village Voice, where he served as columnist for the next 50 years, writing about a myriad of subjects involving politics, education, religion and, most importantly to him, freedom of speech and First Amendment issues.

“In addition to his syndicated column, Hentoff continued to write about jazz, co-founding the Jazz Review and authoring over a handful of books on the genre, including The Jazz Makers (with Nat Shapiro), The Jazz Life and Jazz Is.”

Hentoff was a prolific writer, not just about jazz, publishing scores of books, writing for numerous magazines and newspapers, and even penning the liner notes for 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. He wrote liners for a number of jazz albums as well.

In 2014, a documentary about Hentoff, The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Notes on the Life of Nat Hentoff, was released. Below, watch the trailer, as well as a couple of interviews in which he weighs in on jazz, naturally, as well as free speech and—timely enough—hate crimes.

THROUGH THE (STAINED) LOOKING GLASS: David Bowie & the Berlin Trilogy


One year ago, David Bowie passed away, much to the surprise and sorrow of the music world. To mark the anniversary of his death, we will celebrate his acclaimed, visionary German recording trifecta of the late ‘70s. Special narrative cameos: Brian Eno and Robert Fripp (both pictured above, with Bowie), Tony Visconti, Philip Glass, Marianne Faithfull, and Scott Walker.


Ed. note: The following is an excerpt from the short book We Can Be Heroes: The Radical Individualism of David Bowie (published in June, 2016, Liberty Island Media). Full details at


In the late 1970’s, David Bowie released a trio of albums that continue to be regarded by many critics as the defining statement of his career, the so-called “Berlin Trilogy” of Low, “Heroes,” and Lodger, recorded in 1976, 1977, and 1978, respectively. The first two albums in particular convey the aural impression of stained glass that has been smashed and then carefully, though incorrectly, reassembled. Everything is a bit “off”: Choruses arrive late or not at all; certain songs offer the promise of a dramatic build but then end without warning; in many cases, the expected vocals never appear, leaving the music to churn and bubble and glide along into a hazy sunset.

There is very little in the way of Nietzschean triumphalism on these albums. Instead, uncertainty predominates—perhaps most strikingly in the song “Always Crashing in the Same Car” (from Low), which, while lyrically inscrutable, conveys unmistakable feelings of lucklessness and inertia.

In such an atmosphere of doubt and brokenness, the song “Heroes,” which is arguably Bowie’s most mature distillation of his individualistic philosophy, stands in stark relief, its narrative coherence almost a rejoinder to the surrounding cut-ups. “Heroes” contains its share of obstacles both internal and external. Not only does the narrator “drink all the time,” but he has to keep his love affair alive in a war-torn land in which “guns [are] shot above our heads” and a wall arbitrarily divides the population—a clear nod to the divided Berlin in which Bowie lived at the time of the song’s composition. The song seems to echo the doomed love affair between Winston and Julia, the protagonists of Nineteen Eighty-Four, whose fledgling attempts at finding a personal space of joy and happiness are ultimately crushed by the all-seeing, all-knowing Big Brother that rules Orwell’s fictional future England.

As it turned out, Bowie had real-life models for his protagonists. From the window of the studio where he and the musicians worked on the album every day, he saw a young couple embrace in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, directly below a turret. Not only was he struck by the incongruity of this image, but he quickly realized that the couple in question consisted of Tony Visconti—Bowie’s lifelong friend and the album’s producer—and Antonia Maas, one of his backing singers. The fact that Visconti was limping through the last stages of a failing marriage at the time lent the situation an added poignancy—and futility.low_album

Writer Nicholas Pegg notes that the song’s elevation of the small and ordinary into the heroic signifies a move away from Bowie’s Nietzschean Superman preoccupations into more nuanced territory. And yet, this is not quite the same as a literary realist’s attempt to capture life as it is. “Heroes” is more akin to alchemy: We may be average and regular in the present moment, but we have the potential, at any time, for heroic thought and action—even if only for one day. The transformation can be brought about by an external event or through an internal change in perspective. Bowie would never become a champion of the everyman in the vein of Springsteen, yet the narrator of “Heroes” is certainly more human, and consequently more accessible, than some of the icier figures of Bowie’s earlier songs. And this, along with the song’s soaring vocals and Robert Fripp’s transcendent guitar work, goes a long way in explaining the longevity of “Heroes.” It remains one of Bowie’s most beloved, and most often-covered, compositions.

Bowie’s music had always been distinctive, but in the Berlin Trilogy he created something wholly original. “These albums have song structures that were never designed before, production tricks that had never been used before, themes that had never been touched before, and a cool factor that absolutely cannot be beat,” says screenwriter/musician Darren Callahan, one of the many artists of the succeeding generation to draw his inspiration from this period of Bowie’s work:

This music was parallel to, but never imitative of, punk rock, new wave, and disco, three of the most iconic periods in American music. Think of it: he DID NOT rip off these genres. You cannot say, “Hey, check out this awesome disco song by Bowie,” in the way you might say that about “I Was Made For Lovin’ You Baby” by KISS. He took all those forms (and others, like ambient music) and folded them into a completely original blend. No other period of his career was he so brave, so ahead of things, so absolutely free (and, let’s be honest, so unhappy and drugged up). It is the only period, for me, where he is not calculating anything; he is truly just smoking the pipe of creativity, an absolute open channel with no regard for anyone.

A number of creative and personal factors contributed to the artistic breakthrough of the Berlin albums. In keyboardist/arranger Brian Eno, Bowie had found a kindred spirit, someone who was adventurous enough to extend the cut-up technique beyond the realm of lyrics and into the music itself. Bowie and Eno would often compose sequences of music, write down the chords on notecards, shuffle them up, and then put the new combinations up on a bulletin board for the musicians to play. In many cases this resulted in discordant chaos, but not infrequently the exercise produced exciting new combinations that made their way onto the record.

heroes-albumWith no regard for his record company’s commercial considerations, Bowie opted to fill the second sides of both the Low and “Heroes” LPs with mostly instrumental music—an especially bold move given that most listeners gravitated to Bowie due to his dynamic singing. “Low and ‘Heroes’ are really made for the LP experience,” Callahan notes. “If you hear them on CD or streaming, the albums both seem to die out. But if you queued up Side 2 of Low and then put Side 2 of ‘Heroes’ on the post, let them drop in that order on the turntable, it was one of the best ambient records of the ’70s.”

On the personal front, the Berlin Trilogy came at a point of crisis and transition. Finding himself addicted to cocaine and at an emotional dead end in Los Angeles by the mid-’70s, Bowie made the seemingly harebrained decision to move to Berlin (“the smack capital of Europe,” he later remarked) with friend and fellow self-destructive rocker Iggy Pop, of all people, in an attempt to clean up his act. Bizarrely, his plan worked, though the recovery was gradual—its shaky trajectory charted over the course of the three albums. “The Berlin albums are the inner stage on which the crisis plays out,” says American Conservative editor Daniel McCarthy, a longtime Bowie fan:

They’re emotionally powerful because they’re a very conscious confrontation of Bowie with himself—he overcomes his afflictions not by rediscovering some purer, inner, more innocent figure but by carefully building a new persona that can express sympathy with other people’s suffering—as heard on “Repetition” and “Fantastic Voyage” on Lodger, as well as on much of [post-Berlin release] Scary Monsters—even when he still feels set apart. It’s not warm empathy for humanity that one finds on Lodger or Scary Monsters (or any later Bowie album), it’s a sincere but cold simulation. He’s thinking what he cannot feel, probably because after the introspection of Low he now understands just what he is and isn’t capable of feeling.

Like Callahan, McCarthy regards the Berlin Trilogy (along with its immediate precursor and successor albums) as the pinnacle of Bowie’s catalog, and refers to the accompanying persona of this period as “Weimar Bowie.” 1979_lodger_us_cvr_fix_800sq

It’s safe to say that Bowie’s new approach baffled both his audience and the critics, even if the latter group ultimately came to regard these records as classics. Although his records had routinely achieved platinum status in the past, Bowie’s sales now hovered around 200,000. But if the albums alienated the general pop audience, they also attracted a new type of listener, best personified by the experimental composer Philip Glass, who was so taken with Low and “Heroes” that he went on to compose entire symphonies based around the albums twenty years later.

With the Berlin Trilogy, David Bowie built something new. And over time he attracted a sympathetic and influential audience. Younger acts such as Gary Numan, Devo (whom Bowie produced), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Human League, and virtually all of the British “new pop” bands of the early 1980s picked up on Bowie’s lead and explored its implications within the context of their own work. And contemporaries such as the Walker Brothers and Marianne Faithfull made radical course corrections in the wake of the music’s release. (Below, listen to the Walker Brothers’ Bowie-influenced “Nite Flights” track from ’78.)

Bowie was certainly not the first, nor would he be the last, major pop star to take a bizarre left turn in the midst of a successful career. But he was relatively unique in his willingness to double down on his off-center ideas despite the drubbing he received. Most performers, when confronted with the cold shock of declining sales and an audience backlash, are quick to backpedal and return to the tried and true. Bowie, on the other hand, seemed to thrive on the animosity coming at him from all directions. If anything, it spurred him on to greater heights—a situation that would repeat itself almost exactly a decade later, and with arguably greater ferocity, during his foray with Tin Machine.

In both instances his protracted intransigence put him at odds with his record label and led to a break—first with RCA at the end of the 1970s, then, at the end of the 1980s, with EMI, the very label that had rescued him. Tin Machine never did earn the respect Bowie felt it deserved, but in the case of the Berlin Trilogy he had the last laugh. In 1980 he released Scary Monsters…And Super Creeps, a bold and challenging album by any standard. But by that point audiences had caught up with him. The trilogy had already influenced key individuals in the nascent post-punk and new wave movements, who in turn had made inroads into the pop music mainstream, and so listeners were now more receptive to Bowie’s chilly vocals; Robert Fripp’s jagged, atonal riffs; and Visconti’s treated drum sounds than they had been just three years ago. Also, Bowie’s songs on this album, while still off-center, at least seemed to have choruses again. Audiences sighed in relief and bought the album in considerable numbers. Scary Monsters became a hit, particularly in the UK, and managed to vindicate its three predecessors in one fell swoop. Most important, it achieved this feat without compromise. (Below: Scary Monsters track “Ashes to Ashes.”)


Robert Dean Lurie is a writer and musician based in Tempe, AZ. He is the author of No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church (reviewed HERE) and was the primary instigator of the tribute album The Dark Side of Hall and Oates. He’s also a regular contributor to BLURT; his most recent story was about the return of Athens, GA, band Seven Simons.

Farewell: Music World Passings 2016


It’s been a depressing year, to say the least—from Bowie and Bernie Worrell to Alan Vega and Leonard Cohen—as journalists from No Depression and Blurt to Wikipedia and CNN have chronicled.

By Fred Mills

This time of year we typically publish a semi-comprehensive list of all the musicians who we lost in the year just finished, along with selected music industry and pop culture icons who also passed. Last week, though, the good folks at No Depression took care of the job so thoroughly that it’s unlikely we could do a better job. Check out their “In Memorian: 2016” list, and then by way of a salute to the compilers at ND, below you’ll find our adaptation of their list and several other lists we spotted online, and we’ve also made a number of additions of our own. We’ll update this as other omissions become known.

First, here are links to selected 2016 obituaries we published this year. Following that is the master list of passings. As I’ve said before, after you pay your own last respects, pledge to seek out those artists who are still with us and who are important to you, and let them know in some way how much you appreciate them.


Greg Lake (Emerson Lake & Palmer):

Sharon Jones:
Mose Allison:
Billy Miller (A-Bones, Norton Records):
Leon Russell:
Leonard Cohen:
Jean-Jacques Perry (electronic music pioneer):
Don Buchla (synth pioneer):
Prince Buster:
Juan Gabriel:
Sandy Pearlman (B.O.C., Clash, Dream Syndicate producer):
Alan Vega:
Bernie Worrell:
Ralph Stanley:
Henry McCullough (Grease Band, Wings):
Guy Clark:
John Stabb (Government Issue):
Phil Ryan (Man):
Eddie Watkins (Polvo):
Billy Paul:
Lonnie Mack:
Tony Conrad:
Merle Haggard:
Keith Emerson (Emerson Lake & Palmer):
Thunderclap Newman:

Vi Subversa (Poison Girls):
Maurice White:
Signe Toly Anderson (Jefferson Airplane):
Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane):
Clarence “Blowfly” Reid:
Dale Griffin (Mott the Hoople):
Glenn Frey:
Kevin Junior (Chamber Strings):
Giorgio Gomelsky:
David Bowie:


Read also our previous years’ archives:

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2015

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2014

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2013

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2012

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2011

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2010

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2009

*BLURT’s farewell to music passings of 2008


The Complete List of 2016 Music World Passings (Sources: No Depression, CNN, Wikipedia, Blurt; links take you to online obituaries/appreciations)

Tony Lane, art director (Rolling Stone) and album cover designer
Brad Fuller, composer and music director (Atari)
Paul Bley, jazz pianist
Jason Mackenroth, rock drummer (Mother Superior, Rollins Band)
Long John Hunter, blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter
Georgette Twain Seiff, hall-of-fame banjo player
Robert Stigwood, manager and film producer
Nicholas Caldwell, R&B vocalist (The Whispers) and songwriter
Elizabeth Swados, writer, composer and theater director
Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros, jazz and salsa trumpeter
Pat Harrington Jr., actor and comedy recording artist
Kitty Kallen, vocalist (“It’s Been a Long, Long Time”)
Troy Shondell, pop vocalist (“This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up)”)
Otis Clay, soul vocalist (“Trying to Live My Life Without You”)
Red Simpson, country vocalist and songwriter
Brett Smiley, glam rock vocalist (“Va Va Va Voom”)
Ed Stewart, television presenter (Top of the Pops)
David Bowie, vocalist and songwriter
Joe Moscheo, gospel vocalist (The Imperials) and industry executive
Giorgio Gomelsky, club owner, manager, producer and label owner
Hoyt Scoggins, country and rockabilly vocalist and songwriter
René Angélil, impresario and manager (Celine Dion)
Noreen Corcoran, actress (Bachelor Father) and vocalist
Pete Huttlinger, guitar virtuoso
Gary Loizzo, pop vocalist and guitarist (The American Breed)
Clarence “Blowfly” Reid, musician, songwriter and producer
Mic Gillette, brass player (Tower of Power)
Dale Griffin, rock drummer (Mott the Hoople)
Ramblin’ Lou Schriver, radio broadcaster and concert promoter
Glenn Frey, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist (The Eagles)
Andrew Johnson, album cover artist (The The)
Jimmy Bain, rock bassist (Dio, Rainbow)
Joe Esposito, road manager (Elvis Presley)
Colin “Black” Vearncombe, vocalist and songwriter
Signe Toly Anderson, vocalist (Jefferson Airplane)
Paul Kantner, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist (Jefferson Airplane)
Billy Faier, banjo player
Kevin Junior, frontman (Chamber Strings)

Maurice White, vocalist, songwriter and producer
Leslie Bassett, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer
Bobby Caldwell, keyboardist (Terry Knight and the Pack)
Joe Dowell, pop vocalist (“Wooden Heart”)
Jimmy Haskell, arranger, composer, producer and bandleader
Ray Colcord, film and television composer, producer and musician
Dan Hicks, vocalist and songwriter
Obrey Wilson, soul vocalist (“Hey There Mountain”)
Rick Wright, country guitarist (Connie Smith)
Roy Harris, British folk vocalist
Kim Williams, country songwriter (“Three Wooden Crosses”)
L.C. Ulmer, blues musician
Denise “Vanity” Matthews, vocalist (Vanity 6), actress and evangelist
Joyce Paul, country vocalist (“Phone Call to Mama”)
Paul Gordon, keyboardist and composer
Brendan Healy, actor and musician (Goldie, Lindesfarne)
Vi Subversa, vocalist and guitarist (Poison Girls)
Charlie Tuna, radio broadcaster (KHJ, KROQ, KIIS, KBIG)
Buck Rambo, gospel vocalist
Sonny James, country vocalist and songwriter
Lennie Baker, vocalist and saxophonist (Sha Na Na)
John Chilton, jazz trumpeter and music historian
Craig Windham, radio broadcaster (NPR)

Gayle McCormick, vocalist (Smith ”Baby It’s You”)
Gavin Christopher, R&B vocalist and songwriter
Joey Feek, country vocalist (Joey + Rory)
Chip Hooper, agent (Phish, Dave Matthews Band)
Ireng Maulana, jazz guitarist
Joe Cabot, jazz trumpeter
Bruce Geduldig, synthesist and filmmaker (Tuxedomoon)
Timothy Makaya, jazz guitarist
Ross Hannaford, rock guitarist (Daddy Cool)
Ron Jacobs, radio broadcaster (Boss Radio KHJ, American Top 40)
Sir George Martin, producer
Jon English, musician and actor
Ray Griff, country vocalist
John Morthland, music journalist
Naná Vasconcelos, Latin jazz percussionist
Ernestine Anderson, jazz vocalist
Keith Emerson, progressive rock keyboardist
Gogi Grant, pop vocalist
Ben Bagdikian, educator, journalist and media critic
Ben Edmonds, music journalist
Louis Meyers, promoter (co-founder of SXSW) and manager
Tommy Brown, R&B vocalist (The Griffin Brothers)
Lee Andrews, doo-wop vocalist and father of Questlove
Frank Sinatra Jr., vocalist and actor, son of Frank Sinatra
Steve Young, country vocalist and songwriter (“Seven Bridges Road”)
David Egan, songwriter and pianist
Ned Miller, country vocalist and songwriter
Terry James Johnson, drummer (Bar-Kays) and clinical psychologist
Phife Dawg, rapper (A Tribe Called Quest)
James Jamerson Jr., R&B bassist (Chanson)
Jimmy Riley, reggae musician (The Sensations and the Uniques)
David Baker, symphonic jazz composer, musician and educator
Wally Crouter, Canadian radio legend (CFRB)
Patty Duke, actress and vocalist
Andy “Thunderclap” Newman, (Thunderclap Newman)
Larry Payton, drummer (Brass Construction)

Gato Barbieri, jazz saxophonist
Don Francks, jazz musician and actor
Bill Henderson, jazz vocalist and actor
Carlo Mastrangelo, doo-wop and progressive rock vocalist
Dorothy Schwartz, pop vocalist (The Chordettes)
Leon Haywood, soul and funk vocalist
Dennis Davis, rock drummer (David Bowie)
Merle Haggard, country vocalist, guitarist and songwriter
Jimmie Van Zant, southern rock musician, cousin of Ronnie Van Zant
Earl Solomon Burroughs, songwriter (“Great Balls of Fire”)
Jim Ridley, editor, critic and journalist (Nashville Scene)
Tony Conrad, experimental musician
Doug Banks, radio broadcaster (KDAY, KFI, KDIA)
Emile Ford, pop musician and sound engineer
David Gest, producer and former husband of Liza Minnelli
Gib Guilbeau, country-rock musician (Nashville West)
Filthy McNasty, nightclub owner
Mariano Mores, Argentine tango composer, pianist and conductor
Phil Sayer, British voice artist (“Mind the Gap”)
Vandy Anderson, radio broadcaster (KULF, KGBC)
Elliot Spitzer, radio executive (WLIR-FM)
Lord Tanamo, ska and mento musician
Richard Lyons, culture jammer (Negativland)
Pete Zorn, multi-instrumentalist (Richard Thompson Band)
Victoria Wood, actress, vocalist and songwriter
Lonnie Mack, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter (“Wham”)
Prince, vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
Billy Paul, R&B vocalist (“Me & Mrs. Jones”)
Remo Belli, jazz drummer and inventor of the synthetic drumhead
Harrison Calloway, musician and bandleader (Muscle Shoals Horns)
Eddie Watkins, drummer (Polvo)

Candye Kane, blues and swing vocalist and songwriter
John Stabb, punk rock vocalist (Government Issue) (pictured below)
Peter Behrens, drummer (Trio)
Tony Gable, percussionist and graphic designer
Julius La Rosa, pop vocalist
Buster Cooper, jazz trombonist
Bill Backer, jingle writer (“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”)
Tony Barrow, press officer (The Beatles)
Johnny Sea, country vocalist (“Day For Decision”)
Emilio Navaira, tejano and country vocalist, guitarist and songwriter
Guy Clark, singer and songwriter
John Berry, punk rock guitarist (Beastie Boys)
James King, bluegrass musician
Nick Menza, rock drummer (Megadeth)
Marshall Jones, bassist (Ohio Players)
Floyd Robinson, country vocalist and songwriter (“Makin’ Love”)
Rick Vanaugh, country drummer (The Time Jumpers)
Phil Ryan, guitarist (Man)


Alan Wise, promoter and manager (Factory Records)
Muhammed Ali, boxer and spoken word artist (“I Am the Greatest”)
Mac Cocker, radio broadcaster (Australia’s Double J)
Mark Parenteau, radio broadcaster (WBCN)
Dave Swarbrick, violinist, vocalist and songwriter
Bobby Curtola, Canadian teen idol (“Hand in Hand With You”)
Dan Sorkin, radio broadcaster (WCFL, KFRC, KSFO)
Brian Rading, rock bassist (Five Man Electrical Band)
Christina Grimmie, vocalist and songwriter (The Voice)
Chips Moman, songwriter and producer
Henry McCullough, rock guitarist (Spooky Tooth, Wings)
Charles Thompson, jazz pianist and organist
Attrell Cordes, hip-hop, soul and R&B artist (P.M. Dawn)
Tenor Fly, rapper and ragga vocliast
Bill Ham, manager, producer and songwriter (ZZ Top)
”Dandy” Dan Daniel, radio broadcaster (WMCA, WYNY, WCBS)
Wayne Jackson, R&B trumpeter (Mar-Keys, Memphis Horns)
Freddy Powers, country songwriter and producer
Harry Rabinowitz, conductor and composer (I, Claudius)
Dr. Ralph Stanley, mountain music banjoist, vocalist and songwriter
Bernie Worrell, keyboardist and composer (Parliament-Funkadelic)
Mack Rice, songwriter (“Mustang Sally” “Respect Yourself”)
Scotty Moore, rock ‘n’ roll guitarist
Rob Wasserman, bassist
Don Friedman, jazz pianist
Henry McCullough, guitarist (Grease Band, Wings)

Teddy Rooney, actor, musician and son of Mickey Rooney
Bob Goldstone, music industry executive (Thirty Tigers)
William Hawkins, poet and songwriter
Danny Smythe, rock drummer (The Box Tops)
Vaughn Harper, radio broadcaster (WBLS “The Quiet Storm”)
Carole Switala, vocalist and puppeteer (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood)
Steve Young, musician (Colourbox, MARRS) and songwriter
Johnny Craviotto, rock drummer and drum maker
Charles Davis, jazz saxophonist
Bonnie Brown, country vocalist (The Browns)
Alan Vega, vocalist, songwriter (Suicide) and visual artist
Claude Williamson, jazz pianist
Gary S. Paxton, vocalist, songwriter and producer
Fred Tomlinson, vocalist and songwriter (“The Lumberjack Song”)
John Pidgeon, rock music writer and BBC radio executive
Lewie Steinberg, R&B bassist (Booker T. & the M.G.’s)
George Reznik, jazz pianist
Marni Nixon, playback vocalist (West Side Story) and actress
Roye Albrighton, vocalist and guitarist (Nektar)
Allan Barnes, jazz saxophonist (The Blackbyrds)
Sandy Pearlman, writer, producer and manager (Blue Oyster Cult)
Lucille Dumont, vocalist, songwriter and television star
Nigel Gray, record producer (The Police, Siouxsie and the Banshees)
Penny Lang, folk musician

Ricci Martin, musician, entertainer and son of Dean Martin
Patrice Munsel, coloratura soprano
Richard Fagan, country songwriter
Pete Fountain, jazz clarinetist
B.E. Taylor, pop vocalist and songwriter (“Vitamin L”)
Ruby Winters, soul vocalist (“Make Love to Me”)
Padraig Duggan, folk musician (Clannad, The Duggans)
Glenn Yarbrough, vocalist and songwriter
David Enthoven, manager and record label executive
Ruby Wilson, blues vocalist
Connie Crothers, jazz pianist
Bobby Hutcherson, jazz vibraphonist
Preston Hubbard, bassist (Roomful of Blues, Fabulous Thunderbirds)
Lou Pearlman, producer and manager (Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC)
Irving Fields, pianist, composer and bandleader (Bagles and Bongos)
Matt Roberts, rock guitarist (3 Doors Down)
Tom Searle, guitarist (The Architects)
Louis Stewart, jazz guitarist
Headley Bennett, reggae saxophonist
Derek Smith, jazz pianist
Gilli Smythe, vocalist (Gong)
Toots Thielemans, harmonica player, guitarist and whistler
Rudy Van Gelder, recording engineer (Bluenote)
Monty Lee Wilkes, sound engineer (The Replacements, Nirvana)
Hubert Dwane “Hoot” Hester, country and bluegrass fiddler
Juan Gabriel, songwriter/singer and Mexican superstar

Fred Hellerman, folk singer, songwriter and guitarist (The Weavers)
Kacey Jones, singer, songwriter and humorist
Jerry Heller, agent, promoter and manager (N.W.A.)
Bud Isaacs, steel guitarist
Lewis Merenstein, producer (Van Morrison, Gladys Knight)
Clifford Curry, R&B vocalist (“She Shot a Hole in My Soul”)
Prince Buster, ska singer-songwriter and producer
”Crazy” Eddie Antar, electronics retailer
Chris Stone, studio owner (The Record Plant)
Leonard Haze, rock drummer (Y&T)
Don Buchla, pioneering synthesizer designer
Jerry Corbetta, vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter (Sugarloaf)
Trisco Pearson, R&B vocalist (Force M.D.’s)
Charmian Carr, actress and vocalist (The Sound of Music)
Micki Marlo, vocalist (“What You’ve Done To Me” “Little By Little”)
John D. Loudermilk, songwriter and vocalist (“Tobacco Road”)
Richard D. Trentlage, jingle writer (Oscar MayerMcDonald’s)
Rob Meurer, vocalist and songwriter (Christopher Cross)
Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural Jr, zydeco accordionist
Kashif, R&B vocalist, instrumentalist, producer and songwriter
Jean Shepard, country vocalist and songwriter
Joe Clay, rockabilly vocalist and guitarist
Royal Torrence, soul vocalist (Little Royal and the Swingmasters)
Nora Dean, reggae and gospel vocalist (“Barbwire”)
Oscar Brand, folk vocalist and songwriter, radio host (WNYC)
Michael Casswell, session guitarist (Brian May)

Joan Marie Johnson, pop vocalist (The Dixie Cups)
Caroline Crawley, vocalist (Shelleyan Orphan, This Mortal Coil)
Rod Temperton, keyboardist and songwriter (“Thriller”)
Don Ciccone, pop vocalist (The Critters) and songwriter
Leo Beranek, acoustic engineer and co-founder of BB&N
Robert Bateman, songwriter and vocalist (Satintones)
Sonny Sanders, songwriter, arranger and vocalist (Satintones)
Robert Edwards, R&B vocalist (The Intruders)
Ted V. Mikels, filmmaker and record label owner
Phil Chess, producer and record company executive
Chris Porter,Aamericana vocalist, songwriter and guitarist
Mitchell Vandenburg, Americana bassist and songwriter
Dave Cash, radio broadcaster (Radio London, BBC Radio 1)
Herb Kent, radio broadcaster (WVON, WJJD and V103)
Pete Burns, vocalist and songwriter (Dead or Alive)
Bobby Vee, pop vocalist
Hazel Shermet, actress and singer (Henrietta Hippo)
John Zacherle, TV host, recording artist and radio broadcaster
Ron Grant, film and television composer (Knot’s Landing)
Tammy Grimes, actress and vocalist (The Unsinkable Molly Brown)
Curly Putman, country songwriter (“Green, Green Grass of Home”)

Bap Kennedy, vocalist and songwriter
Bob Cranshaw, jazz bassist
Kay Starr, pop and jazz vocalist
Jean-Jacques Perrey, electronic music producer
Laurent Pardo, bassist (Elliott Murphy’s Normandy All-Stars)
Sir Jimmy Young, radio host (BBC Radio 1 and 2) and vocalist
Al Caiola, guitarist, composer and arranger
Leonard Cohen, vocalist, songwriter, poet and novelist
Raynoma Gordy Singleton, songwriter and ex-wife of Barry Gordy Jr.
Billy Miller, magazine publisher (Kicks) and label owner (Norton)
Leon Russell, vocalist, pianist and songwriter
Holly Dunn, country vocalist and songwriter
David Mancuso, disc jockey and private party host (The Loft)
Mose Allison, jazz pianist, vocalist and songwriter
Cliff Barrows, musical director (Billy Graham crusades)
Milt Okun, producer, arranger, conductor and publisher
Don Waller, music journalist and vocalist
Mentor Williams, songwriter (“Drift Away”), producer and engineer
Sharon Jones, soul vocalist (The Dap Kings)
Al Batten, bluegrass banjo player and band leader
Hod O’Brien, jazz pianist
Craig Gill, rock drummer (Inspiral Carpets)
Florence Henderson, actress and vocalist
Pauline Oliveros, composer, educator and accordionist
Tony Martell, record industry executive (CBS Records)
Ray Columbus, vocalist, songwriter, manager and television host
Carlton Kitto, jazz guitarist

Mickey Fitz, punk rock vocalist (The Business)
Mark Gray, country vocalist and songwriter (“Take Me Down”)
Herbert Hardesty, saxophonist (Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew)
Wayne Duncan, bassist and vocalist (Daddy Cool)
Mohamed Tahar Fergani, Algerian vocalist, violinist and composer
Greg Lake, vocalist, bassist and songwriter (King Crimson, EL&P)
Palani Vaughan, Hawaiian vocalist and songwriter
George Mantalis, pop vocalist (The Four Coins)
Valerie Gell, rock ‘n’ roll vocalist and guitarist (The Liverbirds)
Bob Krasnow, record executive and co-founder of the R’n’R HOF
Joe Ligon, gospel vocalist (Mighty Clouds of Joy)
Barrelhouse Chuck, blues vocalist, songwriter and pianist
Jim Lowe, songwriter (“The Green Door”) and radio broadcaster
Ahuva Ozeri, Israeli singer-songwriter
Betsy Pecanins, blues singer and songwriter
Päivi Paunu, vocalist and Eurovision contestant (“Muistathan”)
Bunny Walters, Maori pop vocalist (“Brandy”)
Fran Jeffries, vocalist, dancer and actress (The Pink Panther)
John Chelew, producer and concert promoter (McCabe’s Guitar Shop)
Bob Coburn, radio broadcaster (“Rockline,” KLOS)
Léo Marjane, French vocalist (“Seule ce soir”)
Gustavo Quintero, Columbian singer-songwriter
Andrew Dorff, country songwriter (“My Eyes”)
Sam Leach, concert promoter (The Beatles)
Betty Loo Taylor, jazz pianist
Frank Murray, manager (The Pogues) and tour manager
Mick Zane, rock guitarist (Malice)
Rick Parfitt, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist (Status Quo)
George Michael, pop vocalist and songwriter
Alphonse Mouzan, jazz drummer
Pierre Barouh, lyricist (A Man and a Woman), composer and actor
Carrie Fisher, actress and author
Debbie Reynolds, actress and vocalist
Rich Conaty, radio broadcaster (WFUV’s The Big Broadcast)
Allan Williams, booking agent and manager (The Beatles)
David Meltzer, poet and jazz guitarist


ELP’s Greg Lake 1947-2016 R.I.P.


Co-founder of one of the most influential bands of all time.

By Fred Mills

In a year uncommonly beset by music world passings—the latter third of 2016 has been particularly brutal—it is saddening, indeed, to have to keep reporting our losses. The latest: Greg Lake, on Dec. 7, from cancer. Lake, of course, was a key early member of King Crimson and went on to co-found synth/Prog legends Emerson, Lake & Palmer (the latter outfit’s Keith Emerson committed suicide this past March, so the only surviving member now is drummer Carl Palmer). Lake was 69.

As the BBC is reporting, “Lake’s manager Stewart Young wrote on Facebook: ‘Yesterday, December 7th, I lost my best friend to a long and stubborn battle with cancer. Greg Lake will stay in my heart forever, as he has always been.’”

The influence of ELP upon the rock universe cannot be understated. The trio helped pioneer long-form, complex, compositions heavily influenced by classical music, essentially birthing an entire genre – Progressive rock – while also notching enough hits (notably, the Lake-penned ballad “Lucky Man,” still a staple of underground and oldies radio alike, what with its rich acoustic guitar melody and Lake’s vocal line contrasting with Emerson’s iconic closing synth solo) to be a commercial juggernaut.

On a personal note: I was fortunate enough to see ELP multiple times during their ‘70s heyday – yes, I also saw Emerson on his spinning-upside-down-grand-piano—at both festivals and standalone arena shows, and the memories remain vivid. Below, let’s review some of those memories…

SOUL ANGEL: Sharon Jones


She gave the people what we wanted and a whole lot more. R.I.P.


The music world awoke this morning to the sad news that we’ve lost Sharon Jones following her well-documented battle with cancer. Knowing that she’s now in the proverbial better place is small solace, of course, because anyone who ever saw her perform with the Dap-Kings knows what a monumental, dynamic performer she truly was. The loss is immense. As Pitchfork noted today, her passing has clearly not gone unremarked—and from all points on the musical spectrum—among her peers:

Sharon Jones. Thank you for everything.  — St. Vincent (@st_vincent) November 19, 2016

My deepest condolences 2 the family of @sharonjones. She was the real deal in this industry. 2016 you’ve been awful  — Chaka Khan (@ChakaKhan) November 19, 2016

So sad to hear about the passing of my friend and the soulful, dynamic singer I loved performing with, Sharon Jones  — John Legend (@johnlegend) November 19, 2016

Sharon Jones had one of the most magnificent, gut-wrenching voices of anyone in recent times. She’ll be so missed. Too sad x  — Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) November 19, 2016

My heart is broken. This year is so sad. Sharon Jones, thx for inspiring me for so long. Your voice/energy will echo in my heart forever.  — hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) November 19, 2016

Rest In Peace to the beautiful black queen Sharon Jones  — Leon Bridges (@leonbridges) November 19, 2016

damn. RIP Sharon Jones.  — Lower Dens (@lowerdens) November 19, 2016

So very sad to hear of Sharon Jones’ passing. An incredibly strong person and a magical performer. Heartbreaking.  — Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) November 19, 2016

One of favourite artists and her music introduced us to a scene of funk/soul that has changed our lives. r.i.p. Sharon Jones.  — badbadnotgood IV 😉 (@badbadnotgood) November 19, 2016

Sharon Jones was one of the nicest musicians I ever met and an awe-inspiring talent. Rest In Peace.  — Okkervil River (@okkervilriver) November 19, 2016

We’ve still got our memories and plenty of musical documentation, from the band’s numerous records (here’s a review of the album I Learned the Hard Way we published several years ago) to sundry live recordings (such as this one from 2010) and live videos (such as this complete concert from the Olympia in Paris).

BLURT has frequently covered Jones, most recently via ace photog Todd Gunsher’s review and photo gallery of the Dap-Kings live in Raleigh 7/18/15 – the image at the top of the page and the one below are among the pics he snapped:


And back in 2013, shortly before the world learned of Jones’ cancer diagnosis, she and the band were part of the Daptone Records’ Super Soul Revue at the Moody Theater in Austin during SXSW – the BLURT crew was definitely on hand to catch that performance, as the photos below, by Susan Moll and Tony Landa, testify:



I was fortunate enough to see her at the Moody show, and in my notes from the evening I observed that whether in a small club or a big theater, Jones would the stage, grabs the audience from the get-go, and not let loose for the duration. Here’s a European concert featuring the Super Soul Revue, which included Charles Bradley, Antibalas and the Sugarman 3, with Jones’ set starting at the 43 minute mark. Whew – an absolute dynamo.

I also got to see her perform early on, around the time of 2005’s Naturally, at a small club in Asheville, NC, and I my review I noted that it was “easily one of the most memorable club shows I’ve ever witnessed. When she strutted out onto the stage, the band vamping behind her, the electricity level in the club immediately skyrocketed, and she proceeded to own the audience for the entire set. There was no doubt among audience members that this tiny woman could kick every single ass in the room.”

By way of digression, check out the group’s Tiny Desk Concert at NPR from last year – it’s a special Christmastime performance that I’ve heard Jones was especially proud of. The confines may have been cramped,  but that voice was as big as the heavens. After that is another broadcast from earlier this year via Austin’s KEXP.

Now I think back to early 2014 when Give the People What They Want was finally released, it having been delayed by the cancer diagnosis. After receiving treatment, though, Jones appeared to be in remission, and the band was able to get the record out and tour behind it. In my review of the album I wrote the following:

She and the band can now concentrate on gettin’ on with the gettin’ on via 10-song set of soulful sonic manna. From the Holland/Dozier/Holland-isms of opening cut “Retreat!” and the stiletto-heeled, girl-group vibe of “We Get Along” to the sinewy swamp-funk of “Long Time, “Wrong Time” and the gorgeous torch-song jazz of “Slow Down Love,” there’s nary a moment missed by the band to demonstrate that Sharon Jones is one of the greatest female vocalist currently operating. 

Well, the only thing that changes for me now is having to make that last sentence past tense, because Sharon Jones was one of a kind. She was not only a proud heiress to a classic tradition, she was also a trailblazer in her own classy way – a “short, fat black woman” (her self-deprecating term, by the way) who suddenly got “discovered” by the music world when she was already in her 40s. Well, guess what? She proceeded to make up for lost time, and never failed to set us all up and knock us down over and over again.

Below, watch the Paris show in its entirety, which was filmed on the Give the People tour. Talk about kicking out the jams – Jones is dancing harder than other performers half her age. And pay close attention to Jones at about the 47 minute mark when she refers directly to her cancer, commanding it to get out of her body and stay out. Which I guess it did, at least for a little while, allowing Jones to complete her mission and go out on top.

Miss Sharon Jones definitely gave the people what we wanted, and a whole lot more. R.I.P., young lady. You earned it.

Sharon Jones 1956-2016 R.I.P.


Forget those “neo-soul” or “revivalist” tags – the lady was pure soul.

By Fred Mills

Sharon Jones, diminutive dynamo frontwoman for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, has passed away at the age of 60, following a long battle with cancer. Initially diagnosed in 2013, the cancer had been in remission but then returned late last year. According to Rolling Stone, Jones had “announced that the cancer had returned at the premiere of Miss Sharon Jones!, a documentary detailing Jones’ life and career. The cancer would be elevated to stage four, with tumors spreading to her lung, liver and lymph nodes.”

Jones’ publicist issued the following brief statement announcing Jones’ death late yesterday (Nov. 18):

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings.”

Jones Jones, of course, had come to fame and acclaim relatively late in life, as the Dap-Kings and the Daptone label didn’t take off until the early ’00s. Prior to that she’d worked as everything from a wedding singer to a corrections officer. Then the Dap-Kings, comprising members of the Soul Providers and the Sugarman 3, helped her put together her debut album in 2002, and the rest has essentially been history, Jones’ gradual but steady rise ultimately chronicled in the above-mentioned documentary.

On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to see her perform early on, around the time of 2005’s Naturally, at a small club in Asheville, NC – easily one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever witnessed. When  she strutted out onto the stage, the band vamping behind her, the electricity level in the club immediately skyrocketed, and she proceeded to own the audience for the entire set. There was no doubt among audience members that this tiny woman could kick every single ass in the room. A number of years later I was in Austin for SXSW and caught the Daptone Super Soul Review at the considerably larger Moody Theater, and once again Jones and her Dap-Kings were in total command.

Go HERE for our tribute to Jones, which includes some of our exclusive photos and links to previous coverage, and go HERE to download a particularly hot show from 2010.

Photo credit: Susan Moll