We’re sad to report that country music legend George Jones passed away this morning at the age of 81, according to his PR firm. Jones had been hospitalized last week with fever and irregular blood pressure at which points rumors were going around about his death.
Jones had a distinctive voice that helped score him 12 number one country hits including She Still Thinks I Care, The Door and Still Doin’ Time. From 1969 to 1975 we was married to fellow country legend Tammy Wynette. The duo paired up for three number one country hits. George Jones’s songs was relatable to the common man as he sung about drinking and his relationship with women. He was considered by many the greatest living country star.
Jones was a member of the Country Music Hall Of Fame, The Grand Ole Opry and a Kennedy Center Honoree. He’s survived by his loving wife of 30 years Nancy Jones, his sister Helen Scroggins, and by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
We’re sad to report that famed record producer Phil Ramone passed away this morning at New York Presbyterian Hospital in his adopted hometown of New York City. Ramone’s resume reads like a list of the best albums ever produced and was known for his innovative techniques. The producer, who was 72, died from the effects of an aortic aneurysm for which he was first hospitalized last month.
Among the talent Ramone worked with are Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Elton John, B.B. King, Chicago, Madonna, George Michael, Rod Stewart, Leslie Gore, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor and Stevie Wonder. Ramone was nominated for an unbelievable 33 Grammys and won 14 of them. Here’s a selection of the awards he won…
Sad news from the Chicago Tribune as the paper’s website has just reported the death of jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. Brubeck, who passed away just one day short of his 92nd birthday, was known for writing a number of jazz standards as well as his innovative methods including using unusual time signatures such as for Take Five which is in 5/4. Longtime manager-producer-conductor Russell Gloyd told the Tribune that Brubeck died of heart failure.
A celebration for Brubeck’s 92nd birthday is scheduled for tomorrow in Wilton, Conn. which was supposed to feature the pianist’s son, jazz guitarist Darius, as well as Richie Cannata and Bernie Williams. No word yet on whether the tribute will go on as scheduled.
We’re sad to report that bluegrass pioneer Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson passed away this afternoon after complications from abdominal surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The seven-time Grammy-winning picker was known for the speed and fluidity which he brought to bluegrass guitar playing. Watson also founded Merlefest, an annual music festival held in Wilkesboro, which was named after his son Merle who died in a 1985 tractor accident.
Doc, who was blind, was not only an exceptional guitarist, he also sang and was an impressive harmonica and banjo player. Over the course of his remarkable career, Watson put out over 50 albums and collaborated with a who’s who of legendary performers including Chet Atkins, Flatts & Scruggs, Taj Mahal, Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs. Doc Watson was 89.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Doc’s family and the bluegrass community.
2012 has already been a harsh year in terms of the number of influential musicians we’ve lost, the latest of which was bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn who passed away in Tokyo this weekend at the age of 70. Dunn was an innovative four-stringer whose work as a member of the Stax Records house band and as part of Booker T. and the MGs has stood the test of time and won him induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as a lifetime achievement Grammy award.
While Duck’s more well known for his studio work, he was also a monster in concert. With that in mind, we wanted to celebrate Dunn’s massive contribution to the rock and soul worlds by preparing a list of five videos showing Duck at work with a variety of bands…
A classic concert from 1967 featuring performances from Booker T & The MGs, Arthur Conley, Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd and Otis Redding. Within the videos that make up this playlist, you’ll get to hear Dunn play nearly all of the bass lines that initially brought him acclaim such as Green Onions, In The Midnight Hour, Hold On I’m Coming and Try A Little Tenderness.
[Latest Updates - Sunday 6PM: Adam Horovitz on MCA, Videos of Barr Brothers, Deer Tick and Juno What and Euforquestra MCA tributes plus additions to "Good Reads" section. Monday 8AM: fun. covers Sabotage, addition to good reads about Yauch as a filmmaker, Santigold pays tribute to MCA and a note from Mike D.]
In a crushing blow to the hip-hop community, Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys has passed away after a long battle with cancer according to Global Grind – website of Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons. Yauch was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and was unable to appear at last month’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony for his ground-breaking group.
The Beastie Boys burst onto the pop scene in 1986 with the release of Licensed To Ill, following seven years as a hardcore punk act that evolved into a hip-hop band. Not content to be a pop act, the group made a sharp left turn in breaking new ground on 1989′s Paul’s Boutique. While the critically-acclaimed album didn’t sell many copies upon its release, the group rebounded in a big way with 1992′s Check Your Head and returned to the top of the charts with 1996′s Ill Communication.
As the years went by, the Beastie Boys started hopping back on their instruments with Yauch showing impressive chops as a bassist. In 1998, Hello Nasty went to the top of the charts and saw the band moving into arenas and larger venues. Following the 9/11 attacks, the trio paid tribute to their home city of New York by releasing the under-rated To The 5 Boroughs. Last year the Beasties put out what might be their final album in Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 and was just recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. MCA also was a music producer and directed films. He’s survived by wife Dechen and his daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Yauch’s friends and family.
We’ll keep track of reactions to Yauch’s passing, official statements and musical tributes below…
“Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul.”
Levon may best have been known for his time in The Band, but over the last few years he reinvented his career. The drummer worked with an incredibly wide range of artists from all corners of the music world including classic rock, indie rock, bluegrass, Americana and jambands. The reactions that have come in the past few days show just how many acts were touched by his amazing musicianship and the soul he displayed in both his drumming and vocals. We’re comforted by long-time collaborator Larry Campbell telling the Poughkeepsie Journal, “he went peacefully.” Campbell told Rolling Stone, “All his friends were there, and it seemed like Levon was waiting for them. Ten minutes after they left we sat there and he just faded away. He did it with dignity. It was even two days ago they thought it would happen within hours, but he held on. It seems like he was Levon up to the end, doing it the way he wanted to do it. He loved us, we loved him.”
Words can’t express our sorrow over the loss of our scene’s patriarch, but we’ll try. Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out a series of posts called “Love For Levon” in which we’ll share our favorite memories and thoughts about our hero. We’ve been keeping track of reactions to the news about Levon in Tuesday’s post and have started to collect remembrances, obituaries, tweets and musical tributes that have followed today’s sorrowful news.
Last Friday we lost singer/songwriter Jaik Miller of Xanax 25 of the JMB, a friend of this site since literally our first week. We asked Marc Millman, who had a long history with Jaik, to share his thoughts on the life and the passing of a one-of-a-kind spirit.
When was the last time you stopped to give the trees advice? Jaik Miller was nobody’s kind of fool (Maybe mine). He was a prolific songwriter. He was a gentle and kind spirit. He was a friend with way too many words tumbling out of his mouth or emanating from his fingertips as he Facebooked, Freaklisted, Tweeted or texted you in the middle of the night. He had a very big heart. One that quite unfairly, gave out very early on the morning on February 24th.
Like many people I write about, this is one more that can be filed under the category “Another one of Millman’s musician friends.” So I will not pretend that I write this as a pure “rock critic” or a staff writer at his local upstate paper tossing off one more obituary. I knew Jaik by face starting some time around the Summer of ‘89 when my friends and I would venture in almost nightly to the Wetlands Preserve on the corner of Hudson & Laight. We were all Deadheads from Joisey. And with about 300 like-minded brethren from the City and the surrounding boroughs and suburbs started a scene that split time between the “blues” bars of Bleeker Street, this corner in TriBeCa just outside the Holland Tunnel…and a dirty little hole in the wall bar on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 13th Street. It was on this corner outside of Nightingale’s, right down the street from Dan Lynch’s and the Deli of Life, sometime around ’91-92 if I had to guess, that Jaik first approached me and a few of my friends while Blues Traveler were on set break.
The blues / R&B world has taken a huge hit over the past few days as we’ve lost both Etta James and Johnny Otis. James lost her battle with leukemia today and also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C, while Otis passed away at the age of 90 on Tuesday.
Etta James helped bridge the gap between R&B, blues and rock since she entered the music biz in the ’50s. Not only was she in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but James was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammys Hall of Fame. Among her many hits were At Last, Tell Mama and I’d Rather Go Blind. Closer to our neck of the woods, Etta James sat in with the Grateful Dead at the group’s New Year’s Eve performance on December 31, 1982 and had high praise for the band.
Johnny Otis, known as the “Godfather of Rhythm & Blues,” actually discovered Etta James. In fact, James inducted Otis into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In Ihsan Taylor’s thorough obituary of Otis for the New York Times, he mentions the many hats the performer wore – musician, bandleader, songwriter, impresario, disc jockey, talent scout, political activist, a preacher, an artist, an author and an organic farmer. Not only did Otis discover Etta, but he also found Jackie Wilson, Esther Phillips and Big Mama Thornton over a brief period in the ’50s. He’s probably best known for his composition Willie and the Hand Jive, which numerous artists including Eric Clapton have recorded over the years.
We hope that Johnny Otis and Etta James are sitting together somewhere enjoying the fruits of their labor. Rock music as we known it wouldn’t have been the same without their vital contributions.
Just a few weeks after celebrating his 80th birthday, legendary blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin succumbed to heart failure at a hospital in Wayne, New Jersey earlier today according to the Houston Press [via CoS]. Sumlin, who was cited as an influence by a generation-spanning list of notable guitarists ranging from Warren Haynes to Keith Richards to Eric Clapton, was the primary guitarist in Howlin’ Wolf’s band from the mid ’50s until Wolf’s death in 1976. When Rolling Stone recently announced their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All-Time list, Sumlin was listed at 44.
Hubert had been battling health issues since a lung cancer diagnosis in 2002 and underwent lung removal surgery in 2004. He called off an October gig at Mountain Stage when a doctor told him he was unfit for air travel. Despite his declining health, Sumlin’s signature expressive style shined through as the oxygen-huffing guitarist lit into Smokestack Lightning and Key to the Highway earlier this year at the finale of the Allman Brothers Band’s March Madness run. Hubert’s megawatt smile was also on display that night as it had been throughout his half-century-plus career. R.I.P. Hubert, you’ll be missed but your music will live on.
Yesterday was a tough day for the music industry as we lost two legendary songwriters in Nick Ashford and Jerry Leiber. Both were part of songwriting teams – Ashford with wife Valerie Simpson and Mike Stoller with Leiber. Leiber and Stoller’s vast credits include early rock classics Love Potion No. 9, Hound Dog and Yakety Yak. Ashford and Simpson joined the Motown team in the ’60s and penned such wonderful tunes as Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, You’re All I Need To Get By and Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing.
Ashford, who died of complications from throat cancer, had a hit with Simpson in the ’80s called Solid that was one of the best-selling songs of 1984. Here’s the pair performing the tune live earlier this decade…
We’re sad to report that English vocalist Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her London flat today. The singer, who had become better known for her drug habits and trainwreck of a career than for her voice, was 27 upon her death making her the latest member of the 27 Club – a group of musicians who passed away at the age of 27 that includes Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.
Local officials released a statement that didn’t mention Winehouse by name…
“Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square NW1 shortly before 16.05hrs today, Saturday 23 July, following reports of a woman found deceased.
On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Enquiries continue into the circumstances of the death. At this early stage it is being treated as unexplained.“
Amy Winehouse rose to fame in 2006 when her retro-sounding album Back to Black became a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Winehouse won five grammys for the LP, but has spent the last five years battling drug and mental health issues. We’ll update this post with the official cause of death when it is revealed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.
We’re saddened to report that saxophonist Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band has died today from complications of stroke he suffered last Sunday.
Clemons has been a member of Bruce Springsteen’s backing band since 1972 and also released a number of solo albums with You’re A Friend of Mine (a duet with Jackson Browne) standing out as his biggest solo hit. Clarence, who went by the nickname “Big Man,” was the heart and soul of the E Street Band and we’re not sure how they will go on without him. Sadly, this is the second loss for the group since 2008 including Danny Federici’s passing.
Gerard Smith, bassist for Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio, has passed away at the way too young age of 34 after a battle with lung cancer. Smith had been sitting out the band’s current tour in hopes of returning to the fold, but sadly that will not be the case.
The band released the following statement…
We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer. Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly.
The following shows will be cancelled:
April 20 St. Andrew Halls, Detroit MI
April 22 Metro, Chicago IL
April 23 First Ave, Minneapolis MN
April 24 First Ave, Minneapolis MN
April 26 Ogden, Denver CO
There will be more information as it becomes available.
Gerard Smith first joined TV on the Radio in 2005 and was featured on each of the band’s albums since that time including their recent Nine Types of Light LP. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Smith’s friends, family and bandmates.