Obituaries: Guru, Devon Clifford, Mississippi Slim, Peter Steele, William Walker

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Drummer Devon Clifford (above, far right) of the band You Say Party! We Say Die! has died of a massive brain hemorrhage, his father, Ron Clifford, said. He was 30.

The band was playing a show on April 16, 2010, at Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre when Clifford suddenly collapsed, Ron Clifford said.

Devon Clifford fell into a coma, and doctors performed surgery but were unable to save him, the father said, adding that the hemorrhage was the result of congenital defects.

The dance-punk band released its third full-length album, “XXXX,’’ in September and was due to embark on a European tour later this month.Ron Clifford said drumming was his son’s passion. “He was meant to drum. It was in his nature,’’ he said. “He had a hell of a ride for a long time.’’

Clifford said his son had a headache on the night he died.

“The band thought he was leaning down to pick up one of his sticks, but he was falling over,’’ he said.

Singer Becky Ninkovic held Clifford’s head as paramedics attended to him. He later lapsed into a coma and died in a Vancouver hospital.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Guru, the influential rapper known for his intellectual themes, his monotone delivery and his combination of jazz sounds with hip-hop beats, died April 19, 2010, after battling cancer, collaborators said. He was 48.
The world has lost “one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all time,’’ according to a statement from Solar, Guru’s producer. It was posted on the Web site of DJ Premier, who with Guru made up the rap duo Gang Starr.

Guru, whose real name was Keith Elam, was born near Boston and later moved to New York. His first album as a member of Gang Starr, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,’’ was released in 1989. They released more albums as a duo, including the gold-selling “Moment of Truth’’ in 1998.

The group’s first hit was “Words I Manifest,” which samples Miles Davis and Charlie Parker’s “A Night In Tunisia.” Other hits include “Dwyck,” “Just to Get a Rep” and “Take It Personal.”

Guru moved on as a solo artist in 1993, releasing “Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1,” which featured a blend of jazz melodies and hip-hop sounds. He released four volumes of the “Jazzmatazz” series. Guru worked with top musicians including Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Common, Jamiroquai and Macy Gray.

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GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Longtime blues singer Mississippi Slim died April 14, 2010. He was 66.

Byas Funeral Home director Wellington Byas said arrangements were pending for the bluesman, whose real name was Walter Horn Jr.

According to his Web site, Horn grew up in Greenville and worked on a plantation before leaving for Chicago in 1968. His trademark style was bright-colored hair and mix-matched shoes and socks.

He returned to Mississippi in 1994. In 1999, he recorded “Miracles’’ with LaJam Records, according to the Web site.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Peter Steele, the frontman and bassist for the heavy metal group Type O Negative, has died.

The announcement was posted on the band’s Web site on April 15, 2010. The site does not indicate where he died.
A statement from his family says he had been suffering from illness.

The 48-year-old Steele had been the leader of the Brooklyn-based band, which expressed dark themes with its music. He had battled substance abuse, but the band says he had triumphed over his addictions.

The band says in a statement that “Peter had been enjoying a long period of sobriety and improved health and was imminently due to begin writing and recording new music.”

Steele had also made an appearance in the HBO series “Oz” and in the film “Bad Acid.”

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — William “Bill’’ Walker, a baritone whose career ranged from the State Fair of Texas to more 350 performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, has died.

Walker was 78. An online obituary indicated the Waco native died April 10, 2010, in Fort Worth.

His wife, Marci, said her husband, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, had “an enthusiasm for life and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.’’

The death also was announced by the Fort Worth Opera, where Walker formerly was general director.

Walker, following Army service in Korea, graduated from Texas Christian University, where he met his future wife.

Metropolitan Opera records indicate Walker performed 364 times, from March 1962 to June 1978. He appeared dozens of times on TV’s “Tonight Show’’ starring Johnny Carson and also sang on Broadway.



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