Obituaries, October 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — General Johnson, lead singer of the popular beach music trio Chairmen of the Board, died of complications from lung cancer on Oct. 6, 2010. He was 69.

The Chairmen of the Board formed in Detroit in 1970, but moved south in the early 1980s and established a record label in Charlotte.

Johnson was the lead on two hits, “Give Me Just A Little More Time” and “(You’ve Got Me) Dangling on a String.” Johnson also won a Grammy for writing the rhythm and blues classic “Patches,” which was recorded by Clarence Carter.

Johnson began singing as a young boy in churches in Norfolk, Va., where he was born, and reached a peak as a performer touring the U.S. and abroad during the height of the Motown sound.

Johnson and his family moved from Detroit to the Atlanta area in 1979, Norman Johnson said, but the band’s sound adapted to a style called beach music popular in beachfront communities in North Carolina.
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GENEVA (AP) — Joan Sutherland’s radiant soprano stretched effortlessly over more than three octaves, with a purity of tone that made her one of the most celebrated opera singers of all time.

She died Oct. 10, 2010, at her home near Geneva, after what her family described as a long illness. She was 83.

Acclaimed “La Stupenda,” — “the Stupendous One” — during a career spanning more than four decades, Sutherland was known in the opera world as an “anti-diva” diva whose warm vibrant sound and subtle coloring helped revitalize the school of early 19th-century Italian opera known as bel canto.

Superlatives were attached to Sutherland’s name from the moment she made her Italian debut in the title role of Handel’s “Alcina” in Venice in 1960.

Luciano Pavarotti proclaimed hers “the voice of the century,” while to English-speaking opera goers she was “The Incomparable” for her mastery of coloratura — the ability to effortlessly sing difficult trills and rapid passages in high registers. Known in the opera world as unpretentious, Sutherland was valued for her hard work and astonishing technique.

Sutherland discovered her voice as a young child, crouching under the piano and copying her mother, Muriel Alston Sutherland. Sutherland left school at 16 to become a secretary but continued her vocal studies with her mother, finally winning a vocal scholarship.

When she began performing in Australia, Sutherland thought she was a mezzo like her mother, until she was persuaded to develop her higher range. At 20, she made her concert debut as Dido in Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas.” She moved to London in 1951 and was contracted by Covent Garden, where she made her debut role as the First Lady in “The Magic Flute.” Her much-awaited U.S. debut came in Verdi’s “Attilla” on Nov. 16, 1960, in Dallas. Her New York debut followed, with the American Opera Society in a February 1961 Town Hall concert of Bellini’s “Beatrice di Tenda.”

Queen Elizabeth made Sutherland a dame of the British Empire in 1978.

When she was among the six recipients of the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., baritone Sherrill Milnes called her “an avalanche of sound. She’s become the standard by which all others are measured.”
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ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — A rapper who performed under the name Eyedea has died of unknown reasons at age 28.

Kathy Averill told The Associated Press that her son, Michael Larsen, died in his sleep at home in St. Paul on Oct. 16, 2010. She says she’s awaiting autopsy results.

Larsen and childhood friend Max Keltgen recorded three albums as Eyedea and Abilities on Minneapolis hip hop group Atmosphere’s label, Rhymesayers Entertainment. Eyedea and Abilities performed with the group in the late 1990s.

Averill says her son reached people through his music and poetry.  

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