In Memoriam, May 2022:
Alan White Yes’ drummer Alan White passed away May 26 at age 72. White’s first appearance on a Yes album was 1973’s live collection Yessongs and he remained with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group until his passing, including their most recent recording, 2021’s The Quest.
KISS’ drummer Eric Singer told Goldmine, “Alan White took over for Bill Bruford and I remember seeing him in 1975 at The World Series of Rock at the Cleveland Stadium, with Yes headlining the show. They had a unique stage set. Alan had bright lights over him with his blond hair flailing all throughout the show. He definitely gave them a real power and propelled the band onward into their lengthy career. Another great drummer has left the planet.” Yes bandmates Jon Anderson and Geoff Downes also paid immediate tribute to White. Anderson stated, “He was my best man at my wedding to Janee in Maui 1997. We love you Alan and will miss you. You were just the best of the best for Yes, and an amazing drummer. Blessings brother.” Downes shared, “I lost a great brother and friend, the loveliest guy you’ll ever hope to meet. So dreadfully sad. I’m devastated. Miss you forever buddy.” White appeared on Yes’ highest charting single, “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” which spent two weeks at No. 1 in early 1984 from their highly successful 90215 album.
Prior to Yes, White drummed for half of the Beatles and was a member of The Plastic Ono Band. He played on George Harrison’s triple album All Things Must Pass and was on John Lennon’s albums Live Peace in Toronto 1969, Imagine and Some Time in New York City and his powerful drumming was a key ingredient on Lennon’s first gold single “Instant Karma.”
Mickey Gilley Country music’s Mickey Gilley passed away May 7 at age 86. He reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Singles chart 17 times throughout the 1970s and 1980s beginning with a string of mid-1970s hits which included “City Lights,” written by Bill Anderson, who stated, “I heard Mickey Gilley's hit version of my song, ‘City Lights,’ on the radio the day after he passed and marveled for the ump-teenth time on what an incredible record it was. I never dreamed that one day later I would be mourning him. He was a great artist, a good friend, and like the rest of our country community, I sure will miss him.”
One of Gilley’s No. 1 country hits also reached the pop Top 40 at No. 22, his 1980 version of “Stand by Me” from the movie Urban Cowboy which included his Pasadena, Texas honky-tonk club Gilley’s.
Gilley’s string of No. 1 country hits concluded in 1983 with “Paradise Tonight,” one of two hit duets he recorded with Charly McClain. Gilley’s surviving family members include his musical cousin Jerry Lee Lewis, also age 86.
Vangelis “Chariots of Fire” composer and keyboardist Evangelos “Vangelis” Papathanassiou passed away May 17 at age 79. Vangelis’ theme from the film Chariots of Fire reached No. 1 in 1982 as his sole Top 100 entry as a solo performer. His collaborations with Jon Anderson of Yes resulted in two Top 100 entries, Jon and Vangelis’ “I Hear You Now” in 1980 and “I’ll Find My Way Home,” which debuted just weeks after “Chariots of Fire” reached its peak position in May 1982. Jon Anderson stated, “Vangelis was my musical mentor and a good friend. We created wonderful music together and he was very funny to be with.”
Vangelis’ early success came through being a key member of the Greek band Aphrodite’s Child, known best for their 1972 double album 666.
Andy Fletcher Depeche Mode keyboardist Andy Fletcher passed away on May 26 at age 60. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame British band had three gold singles in the U.S., with “Enjoy the Silence” being their sole Top 10 hit, reaching No. 8 in 1990, from their album Violator.
Ricky Gardiner Beggars Opera, David Bowie and Iggy Pop’s guitarist passed away May 13 at age 73. The album notes for Beggars Opera’s third album, written by their vocalist Martin Griffiths stated, “Pathfinder is the third album from Beggars Opera, completely different from Waters of Change, their second, which is totally different from Act One, their first.” While style and personnel changes hampered the success of this British act over their six albums in the 1970s, guitarist Ricky Gardiner was among its consistent thread. He was heard performing the lengthy classical inspired pieces on their debut, “Poet and Peasant,” “Raymond’s Road” and “Light Calvary” and covers on albums which followed including “MacArthur Park” and “Classical Gas.”
After the mid-1970s disbanding of Beggars Opera, Gardiner joined David Bowie for his album Low and Iggy Pop on his Lust for Life album, including writing the flip side “The Passenger” for that album.
Ronnie Hawkins Canadian singer Ronnie Hawkins passed away May 29 at age 87. After moving from the U.S. to Canada in the late 1950s, he formed Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks and had a U.S. hit with “Mary Lou,” which reached No. 26 in 1959. By the middle of the next decade The Hawks wanted to move away from Hawkins’ rockabilly style and became Bob Dylan’s backup band and then went on separate of Dylan as The Band in the late 1960s.
Ric Parnell Drummer Ric Parnell passed away May 1 at age 70. In the late 1960s, at the age of 16, he toured with Engelbert Humperdinck. From 1970 through 1973, on and off, Parnell was a member of Atomic Rooster. In December 1982, he reached the No. 1 spot as the drummer on Toni Basil’s platinum single “Mickey.” In 1984, Parnell portrayed doomed drummer Mick Shrimpton in Rob Reiner’s film This is Spinal Tap.
Tom Bresh Country music singer-songwriter and guitarist Tom Bresh passed away May 23 at age 74. He was the son of Merle Travis and had three consecutive country Top 40 singles in 1976, “Home Made Love,” “Sad Country Love Song” and “Hey Daisy (Where Have All the Good Times Gone).”
Ben Moore Soul and gospel singer Ben Moore passed away May 12 at age 80. In 1974 Moore became the second “Bobby Purify” in the duo of James & Bobby Purify and reached No. 30 on the R&B chart with a version of Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing.” Later Moore spent over a decade as a member of the gospel vocal group The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Rick Price British bassist Rick Price passed away May 17 at age 77. From 1969 through 1971 he was a member of The Move and later was part of Roy Wood’s Wizzard.
Bob Neuwirth Folk singer Bob Neuwirth passed away May 18 at age 82. He spent time as Bob Dylan’s road manager and co-wrote Janis Joplin’s 1971 flip side “Mercedes Benz.” His self-titled 1974 album on Asylum is a fan favorite.
Judy Henske Folk singer Judy Henske passed away April 27 at age 85. One of her most popular recordings was the 1963 flip side “High Flying Bird,” written Billy Edd Wheeler and later recorded by Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens and others.
Rosmarie Trapp Trapp Family Singers member Rosmarie Trapp passed away May 13 at age 93. She was the first daughter of Austrian naval Captain Georg von Trapp and Maria von Trapp, and a younger half-sibling to the older von Trapp children portrayed in the musical and film The Sound of Music. She traveled and performed with the family group for many years.