Obituaries: Paul Gray, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Larry Warrilow

Lawrence “Larry” David Warrilow, a prominent member of the South Florida music scene, died peacefully at home on May 18, 2010. He was 64.

Larry’s music career began in the 1960s while at Florida State University. He gained notoriety with The Peter Graves Orchestra as a guitarist and arranger at Joe Namath’s legendary night club, Bachelors III, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The band had a five-year run that included such notable musicians as Pat Metheny, Mark Colby, Danny Gottlieb, Mark Egan, Dan & Neal Bonsanti, Whit Sidener, Jerry Coker and Ron Tooley. It was the addition of bassist Jaco Pastorius, pianist Alex Darqui and drummer Bobby Economou that made a lasting impact. Larry’s collaborations with Jaco on countless musical projects gradually developed into a relationship not unlike that of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, where it was often difficult to tell where one began and the other left off.

Over the years, Larry became an accomplished arranger, orchestrator and copyist, working with numerous “pop” stars, including The Bee Gees, Barbra Streisand and Ziggy Marley, just to name a few. As a copyist, his penmanship is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the Bee Gees’ “Saturday Night Fever” recordings.

In 1984, Larry wrote incidental music for the first episode of Miami Vice. Also in the ’80s, he toured with Grammy winner Bob James as his sound engineer. In 2003 and 2006, Larry paid tribute to his dear friend Jaco with numerous arrangements on two award-winning Jaco Pastorius Big Band recordings for Heads Up International, “Word Of Mouth Revisited” and “The Word Is Out.”

— Telarc/Heads Up International

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DETROIT (AP) — Ali-Ollie Woodson, who led the legendary Motown quintet The Temptations in the 1980s and ’90s and helped restore them to their hit-making glory with songs including “Treat Her Like A Lady,’’ has died, a friend said. He was 58.

Woodson died May 30, 2010, in southern California, after battling cancer, Motown Alumni Association President Billy Wilson said. Wilson said Woodson’s wife, Juanita, told him about the death.

Woodson was not an original member of the group, which had several lineup changes since it started in the 1960s. But he played an integral part in keeping the Temptations from becoming just a nostalgia act.

By the early 1980s, the Temptations were no longer posting hit after hit like they did in the 1960s and ’70s with classics such as “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “My Girl,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.”

The group had lost original members, and Woodson was charged with replacing Dennis Edwards, whose passionate voice defined the group during the 1970s. Woodson’s voice, though similar to Edwards’ with its fiery tone, was distinct in itself, and helped the group notch the R&B hits “Treat Her Like A Lady,” “Sail Away” and “Lady Soul,” from 1984 to 1986.

“He had this swagger about himself. He was cool. He had a coolness about himself that was really very inviting,’’ said Wilson. He said he first met Woodson in 1980 before Woodson joined the group and that he last spoke with his friend about two weeks ago.

Despite his fame, Woodson was “always a gentleman and always polite and kind to everybody. If we ever asked him to do anything, he never said, ‘Well, it’s going to cost you.’ He’d always say, ‘Yeah, let’s go,’’’ said Wilson, who founded the Detroit-based Motown association in the mid-1990s.
“He was just a star performer. Wonderful person. Wonderful, wonderful person. He was very kind.’’

Messages were left for a producer and a manager who worked with Woodson. A recorded message at a phone number for his wife said the voice mailbox was full.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Paul Gray, the bassist for Grammy-winning metal band Slipknot, was found dead in a room at the Town Plaza Hotel in Urbandale, Iowa, on May 24, 2010. He was 38.

The employee who discovered the body told police he checked on Gray after the bassist’s mother called the hotel because she couldn’t reach her son. An autospy was inconclusive about the cause of death, but police said there was no evidence of foul play or trauma. Officials are awaiting results of toxicology tests. During the 911 call, the employee said there was a hypodermic needle next to the bed and “all kinds of pills everywhere.”
Amy Sciarretto, a publicist at the band’s record company, Roadrunner Records, confirmed Gray’s death but declined further comment. Most of the band’s members grew up in the Des Moines area.

Slipknot’s self-titled debut in 1999 sold more than a million copies. Known for its grotesque masks, trashing sound and aggressive lyrics, the band won a Grammy in 2006 for best metal performance for the song “Before I Forget.” Concert industry publication Pollstar ranked Slipknot 18th in its Top 20 Concert Tours list in 2009.

Andy Hall, music director of Des Moines rock station Lazer 103.3, said he’d known Gray for 10 years. He described him as a talented bass player who was also one of the friendliest, most caring people he knew.

“This is a big blow, not only to the community of Des Moines but fans of metal at large, worldwide,” Hall said. “It’s a devastating loss. Paul was a wonderful human being.’’

Below is a tribute video to Paul Gray, created by his band Slipknot


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