Here is an In Memoriam to those in the music industry we had to say goodbye to in the year 2019.
On October 6, we lost we lost British drummer Ginger Baker, known for his work in the ’60s with the bands Cream and Blind Faith, both which included guitarist Eric Clapton.
With Cream, Ginger’s solid beat propelled the group’s three Top 40 hit singles “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” and their live version of the Robert Johnson blues standard “Crossroads,” from their double album Wheels of Fire, which concluded with a 16-minute version of Ginger’s drum spectacular, “Toad.”
In 1969, Cream’s final charting single from their album Goodbye was “Badge” with its flip side “What a Bringdown” written and sung by Ginger who also played chimes on this iconic recording, produced by Felix Pappalardi.
As Cream disbanded, Ginger and Eric became half of the short-lived quartet Blind Faith. Their lone 1969 album included a version of Buddy Holly’s “Well All Right” which became a blueprint for Santana’s version in the following decade. The album included Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” and “Sea of Joy,” Eric’s “Presence of the Lord,” and ended with Ginger’s “Do What You Like.”
As the new decade began, most of Blind Faith moved on to the group Ginger Baker’s Air Force, with the traditional song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” sung by Denny Laine, reaching No. 85 in 1970. After the Air Force, The Baker Gurvitz Army was formed, recording three albums in the mid-1970s.
A 2005 Cream two-hour live reunion album, Royal Albert Hall, on CD and DVD (Rhino/Reprise), was very well received. (Music On Vinyl released a limited, triple vinyl LP pressing in 2014.)
John Bee Badanjek, drummer for Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels and The Rockets shared with Goldmine, “I first become aware of Ginger when I was playing in Miami at a concert and a kid came by and gave us the first Cream album. We listened to it in the dressing room. Needless to say, we were completely blown away. Cream played The Grande Ballroom a lot in Detroit, and to see this powerhouse of a trio was explosive, with long solos, from each member of the band. There were great vocals from bassist Jack Bruce and Eric, but watching Ginger was like a train wreck going off the tracks, in a good way. The man was on fire. A speeding drummer is a thing to behold. He was a maniac. I didn’t get to know Ginger well, but his playing was so huge, and his gruff personality transcended him to be the inspiration for Animal from The Muppets! Ginger became the stuff of legends. Ginger was a drummer’s drummer! Any kid today who wants to play drums would do well to listen to Ginger Baker. I always loved his Cream composition ‘Pressed Rat and Warthog.’”
The Fifth Estate’s drummer Ken Evans told Goldmine, “Ginger Baker’s passing is a great loss. He was a great influence on me. He was truly a breath of fresh air to many drummers and musicians in general in the mid-1960s. He opened up areas of drumming to contemporary rockers that had not been seen as acceptable at the time including double-bass drum playing. Most important to me was his ability to rock and jam with more open and uncharted song arrangements. He broke that mold and I am very thankful that he opened it up for all us rock drummers.”
Burleigh Drummond, the drummer for Ambrosia informed Goldmine, “Much of Ginger’s drumming was influenced by African rhythms. He was a huge influence on me personally and because of him I spent four years studying with a master drummer from Ghana.”
Joe Vitale of Barnstorm with Joe Walsh and Kenny Passarelli recalls, “I saw Cream in 1969 and after that concert, which was about three hours long, I went into my practice room and worked my butt off. We all wanted to be Ginger Baker and be in a power trio. He will be missed but his incredible drumming will live on forever.”
Eric Singer of KISS highlights, “’Sunshine of Your Love’ – Every quality and ingredient of Ginger Baker’s unique style and approach to drumming is included in this iconic song. What an impression and influence he has left with the drumming and music community. R.I.P. Ginger.”
Ginger Baker was 80.
Paul Barrere joined Little Feat in 1972 as their guitarist, in time for their critically acclaimed Dixie Chicken album, released in 1973. Paul continued with Little Feat until the group disbanded at the end of the decade, and then returned when the band reformed in 1987.
On Nicolette Larson’s 1978 debut album, Paul played guitar on the album’s second single, “Rhumba Girl,” written by Jesse Winchester, both sides of the album’s third single, “Give a Little” and “Mexican Divorce,” and three more songs from the album, including Adam Mitchell’s “French Waltz.”
Paul’s failing health made him unable to participate in 2019’s Little Feat 50th Anniversary Tour, with pianist Bill Payne remaining as the lone original member. Paul passed away on October 26 at the age of 71.
Hal Blaine passed away on March 11 at the age of 90. He was a top studio drummer and, as a member of “The Wrecking Crew” in Los Angeles, he played on 150 Top 10 songs including 40 No. 1 hits. He was heard on the records of many artists including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, and is known for the opening beats on The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” Hal’s final gold record was for Captain & Tennille’s Love Will Keep Us Together album. Toni Tennille told Goldmine, “Hal was one of the greatest drummers and one of the most wonderful people in the music industry.”
Harry Belafonte’s 1956 album Calypso was the first million selling album for any artist and half of its compositions were written or co-written by Irving Burgie, who passed away on November 29 at the age of 95. The album spent 31 weeks at No. 1, making it the fourth most successful album of all-time. Irving, sometimes listed as Lord Burgess, had compositions on the album including the hit singles “Jamaica Farewell” and “Day O,” also known as “The Banana Boat Song,” which was later featured in the film Beetlejuice and in its musical adaptation. Two more Top 40 hits for Harry Belafonte continued in 1957 with Irving’s compositions including the fun “Mama Look at Bubu” and “Island in the Sun,” the successful flip side of “Cocoanut Woman.”
When The Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ “If You Wanna Get to Heaven” was on the radio in 1974, ultimately reaching No. 25, it was Steve Cash’s harmonica that drove the song he co-wrote with the band’s guitarist John Dillon. Steve also co-wrote the band’s next and biggest Top 40 hit, “Jackie Blue,” with vocalist Larry Lee, which reached No. 3 in 1975. Three more Top 100 singles followed.
Steve passed away on October 13 at the age of 73. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils continue to perform, especially in their Missouri region, with original members John Dillon and bassist Michael ‘Supe’ Granda.
The bassist for The Chambers Brothers was born in Mississippi, as the eldest of the brothers, and worked on the family farm until he turned 21, singing while farming. In 1952 he was drafted, sent to Korea, and started a singing group called The Soldiers. By 1954, George was back in the U.S. and was singing with his three younger brothers in Los Angeles. Over the years their repertoire expanded, from a gospel base, to include folk, pop and blues. At the end of 1967, the four brothers with Brian Keenan on drums, released their debut album on Columbia.
In the summer of 1968, NBC had a summer television series called Showcase ’68, where new bands would compete, including The Chambers Brothers. This television exposure led to the quintet’s Top 40 singles debut that September with their composition, “Time Has Come Today.” There is a line in the song, “My soul has become psychedelicized,” which was very fitting for this psychedelic soul rock song on the A-side. Its flip side was a fitting tribute to their gospel roots with their moving delivery of The Impressions’ “People Get Ready.” Their next single, “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” brought the Otis Redding composition to the Top 40 and would later also be known as “The Blues Brothers Theme.” The Chambers Brothers’ singles and albums continued through the mid-1970s. George passed away on October 12 at the age of 88.
“Ranking Roger” Charlery passed away on March 26 at the age of 56. He sang in the British ska band The English Beat and then moved on to the band General Public. Their single “Tenderness” reached the Top 40 in the 1980s and their cover of The Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” became their highest U.S. charting hit in the 1990s, reaching No. 22.
Drummer Jerry Carrigan passed away on June 22 at the age of 75. He was part of the first rhythm section for FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and later became an in demand session drummer in Nashville, playing for Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers and many more acts.
Dick Dale, “The King of the Surf Guitar,” died on March 16 at the age of 81. His instrumental records include “Let’s Go Trippin'” and “Miserlou.” His music was featured in the film Pulp Fiction.
On January 2, the music world lost keyboardist, producer and arranger Daryl Dragon, “The Captain” of the duo Captain & Tennille. Daryl Dragon’s father was Carmen Dragon, a noted arranger, composer and conductor and his mother was singer Eloise Dragon. Daryl was a classically trained pianist but preferred to play boogie and blues music, which was displayed on his instrumental compositions “Broddy Bounce,” “Going Bananas” and “’D’ Keyboard Blues” on Captain & Tennille albums.
Daryl, and Toni Tennille at Daryl’s recommendation, were touring members of The Beach Boys in the 1970s. Mike Love nicknamed Daryl “Captain Keyboard” due to the captain’s hat he always wore. In addition to touring, Daryl played keyboards and provided arrangements on The Beach Boys’ 1972 album Carl and The Passions “So Tough,” which included a song that he was very proud of and co-wrote with Dennis Wilson called “Cuddle Up,” which was also used as a Beach Boys flip side. A version of this song appeared a few years later, on the debut album for Captain & Tennille, Love Will Keep Us Together. The title song spent several weeks at No. 1 in the summer of 1975, winning a Grammy for Record of the Year. It was written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. On the back cover of Toni’s 2016 memoir, Neil Sedaka wrote, “I’ll never forget the day when I received a 45 RPM in the mail of my song by a new group, Captain & Tennille. I put it on the turntable and almost fell off my chair. It was the most perfect production and performance of a pop song that I had ever heard.” All Captain & Tennille recordings were produced by Daryl.
Their second album, Song of Joy, brought Daryl and Toni three more Top 5 gold singles. Their third album, Come in From the Rain, included the singles “Can’t Stop Dancin’” and the title tune, written by Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager. Its flip side was the album’s finale, “We Never Really Say Goodbye,” written by Daryl and Toni, and is musically gentle, capturing an essence similar to “When You Wish Upon a Star.” It began with the couplet, “Keep a song of joy inside your heart, even though the time has come for us to part.”
One more album from A&M and two from Casablanca followed in the U.S. through 1980. The duo reached No. 1 for a second time in 1980 with Toni’s composition “Do That to Me One More Time.”
Their final two U.S. albums were recorded at Rumbo Recorders, a studio that Daryl designed, and he and Toni owned through 2003. Some of the other acts who recorded at this Canoga Park, California studio include Sheena Easton, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, KISS, Heart, Guns N’ Roses, Ringo Starr, and Eddie Money, who told Goldmine, “I recorded some of my Love and Money album in the ‘90s at Rumbo Recorders. Daryl was great. He practically lived there. I love ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’.”
In Toni’s 2016 Goldmine interview, she spoke of Daryl, “Musically is where we sparked. Daryl’s strength was musical, a great producer and arranger. He brought out the best in me musically.” Toni was with Daryl at the time of his passing in Prescott, Arizona.
Gary Duncan, guitarist/singer in The Quicksilver Messenger Service, a popular band in the San Francisco psychedelic scene during the late 1960s through early 1970s, known for the songs “What About Me” and “Fresh Air,” died on June 29 at the age of 72.
Malcolm “Molly” Duncan
On the website for the Scottish funk group Average White Band (AWB), on October 8 they stated, “We are saddened to learn of the passing of our old friend and tenor sax player Molly Duncan. He gave us the world famous sax solo on ‘Pick Up the Pieces,’ but apart from that, he was one of the funniest and most charming people you could ever meet.”
The sextet’s instrumental gold single “Pick Up the Pieces” reached the No. 1 spot in early 1975. Its flip side was an entertaining vocal version of The Isley Brothers’ “Work to Do,” which received FM radio play, is considered a staple for the band’s live shows, and was performed at Woodstock this summer with former AWB guitarist Hamish Stuart, now part of the entourage Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band.
AWB’s second Top 10 single followed in 1975, “Cut the Cake,” filled with James Brown-like funk, and twin sax parts from Roger Ball and Molly. Two more Top 40 singles continued that year and the group’s final U.S. Top 40 entry came the following year with the smooth “Queen of My Soul.”
AWB continues to perform, now as a septet including original members Alan Gorie on lead vocals and bass and Onnie McIntyre on guitar and vocals. Molly was 74.
The news of Roky Erickson’s sudden death ripped through all of Austin at the Stevie Ray Vaughan level on Friday, May 31, leaving a Texas-sized hole in its musical heart. At 71, Roky had lived almost twice as long as Stevie Ray, and he, too, helped define the city and the category-busting music for which it is known.
Given the tumultuous life story of Roger Kynard Erickson, he should never have seen 30, let alone 70, but 71 was still way too soon. His life had been a sign of hope and redemption and recovery and the healing power of rock and roll for so long that we needed him out there as a symbol.
Born in Dallas but raised in Austin, Roky burst onto the scene with The 13th Floor Elevators and an original tune that made it all the way from Texas to the national charts, “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” Roky wrote it and wailed it with a raw fury so haunting and powerful that it became evident that the Texas band had invented something altogether new: psychedelic rock. It was 1966, and Sgt. Pepper was still a year away. Roky Erickson was 19 years old.
The Elevators sounded trippy but melodic, with memorable songs driven by fiery guitar, the weird sound that a jug makes when blown into, and most of all, that unforgettable voice. It was powerful like Daltrey, uniquely rock and roll like Jagger, and even more mysterious (and earlier than) Plant. The voice of Roky was, accordingly, perfectly suited for songs like the eight-minute opus, “Slip Inside This House,” a full-blown horror movie of a song, and there were many more to come.
I worked at a drive-in movie theater in Austin in 1981, where every Tuesday night we showed a horror triple feature. And every week at the concession stand, there was Roky Erickson with his mother, always friendly, always in a 7-Eleven employee’s smock, always ready for a night of terror. With a smile on his face. It was research for him. Those horror movies were informing his music.
That was the thing about Roky: his whole body of work was dark material that was somehow ultimately aspirational to a happier life. It couldn’t have been sung by a friendlier guy. Everyone in Austin knew him that way and crossed paths with him somewhere along the way over all the decades.
While still in the Elevators in 1968, he had been arrested for a single marijuana joint, pleaded insanity, received a paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis, and wound up in a psychiatric hospital receiving involuntary electro-convulsive therapy.
He kept creating music at Rusk Hospital, and in the years that followed, his long solo career resulted in the stuff of genius, because that’s what he was. The song titles from his work fronting various bands over the years like Blieb Alien, The Aliens, and The Explosives pretty much tell the story right there: “Creature with the Atom Brain,” “It’s a Cold Night for Alligators,” “Don’t Shake Me Lucifer,” “Stand for the Fire Demon,” “I Think Up Demons” and “I Have Always Been Here Before.” His personal story through it all was filled with enough tragedy and drama for a movie, and indeed, there is one: You’re Gonna Miss Me, the 2005 documentary that finds Roky being delivered into a healthier life from a one of isolation and misery back to the rock and roll that had saved him before. By overcoming his demons so successfully, the hippie kid from the ’60s had become a role model.
Roky spent the rest of his time in the 21st century performing live, making new records, taping an episode of Austin City Limits (with lifelong fan Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top joining on guitar), and emerging as a recognized and iconic inspiration for countless bands that followed.
He was an elder statesman of rock, but at the end of the day, the psychedelic part was really in his attitude and his thoughtful and mysterious lyrics. The rest was just rock and roll with an otherworldly voice out front. Every Roky Erickson song rocked along to a melody that seemingly should have been written before, much like those that had poured out of his musical hero, fellow Texan Buddy Holly.
And just like Buddy Holly, Texas may have claimed him, but the music he leaves behind belongs to the world. We’re gonna miss you, Roky.
Keith Flint, a vocalist for for the British techno-rave-dance group Prodigy, died on March 4 at the age of 49. Prodigy’s song “Firestarter” reached No. 20 in the U.S. in 1997 and became a gold single for them.
Marie Fredriksson, a singer for the Swedish duo Roxette, passed away on December 9, at the age of 61, after a 17-year battle with cancer. From 1989 through 1991, the duo had a half-dozen singles in the U.S. that reached either No. 1 or No. 2, beginning with “The Look” and ending with “Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave),” all written or co-written by the duo’s Per Gessle, making them the second best-selling Swedish act of all-time behind ABBA and ahead of Ace of Base.
The other singles in Roxette’s string of big hits include “Listen to Your Heart,” with its strong flip side “Half a Woman, Half a Shadow,” and “It Must Have Been Love,” with Marie’s vocal delivery featured in the movie, Pretty Woman.
Robert Hunter, a lyricist of many Grateful Dead songs, died on September 23 at the age of 78. His writing includes “Truckin’,” the highest charting single for the band in the 1970s and “Touch of Grey,” Grateful Dead’s only Top 40 single, which reached No. 9 in 1987. When Grateful Dead was inducted in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was included as the lyricist.
James Ingram, a Grammy winning singer and popular duets partner, passed away on January 29 at the age of 66. He had a decade of hit singles beginning in 1981 with “Just Once,” followed by “One Hundred Ways.” James achieved his first gold single with “Baby, Come to Me,” a duet with Patti Austin. His second gold single was “Somewhere Out There,” a duet with recent Kennedy Center Honors recipient Linda Ronstadt, and was featured in the animated film An American Tail.
On December 29, Neil Innes, musically associated with the Monty Python comedy group and a member of The Beatles parody band called The Rutles, passed away and the age of 75. Neil wrote all fourteen songs on the 1978 Warner Brothers album The Rutles, where he portrayed the John Lennon-like member Ron Nasty, performing the songs “Ouch!” inspired by “Help!,” “Piggy in the Middle” in the style of “I Am the Walrus” and “Cheese and Onions” instead of “Glass Onion.”
Folk singer and songwriter Daniel Johnston died on September 11 at the age of 58. Kurt Cobain and Tom Waits were both fans of his work. Daniel’s struggles with manic depression was the basis of the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
The long-time bassist and one of the co-founding members of the southern rock band .38 Special passed away on October 6 at the age of 70. This Jacksonville, Florida band was considered the brother band to Lynyrd Skynyrd with Donnie Van Zant in .38 Special being the younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant. Larry Junstrom was the bassist in an early version of Lynyrd Skynyrd as well.
.38 Special achieved their first Top 40 hit single in 1981 with “Hold on Loosely” and their first Top 10 hit the following year with “So Caught Up in You,” both sung by Don Barnes. The group’s highest charting single came at the end of the decade with Max Carl singing a song he co-wrote, “Second Chance,” which he now performs as a member of Grand Funk Railroad.
In 2014 Larry retired from .38 Special, leaving Don as the lone original member. On the band’s website, Larry was described as “a congenial traveling companion and a great friend to all, with a humorous slant on life that always kept the spirits of the band high.” They remember him as “a kind man with a big heart.”
John Kilzer, a Tennessee singer and songwriter, died on March 12 at the age of 62. In addition to his albums, his songs have been recorded by Rosanne Cash, Trace Adkins and Maria Muldaur.
We lost Jerry Lawson on July 10, who was the lead singer of the Persuasions, with strong cult following as an a cappella group, who were discovered by Frank Zappa in the 1960s. Jerry was 75.
Oscar winning composer and pianist Michel Legrand passed away on January 26 at the age of 86. His composition “The Windmills of Your Mind,” from the film The Thomas Crown Affair, reached No. 31 for Dusty Springfield in 1969 and “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42′” reached No. 21 for pianist Peter Nero in 1971. The following year, another of Michel’s compositions charted with Peter Nero on piano, “Brian’s Song,” from the television film of the same name.
On December 13, at the age of 73, Roy Loney passed away, who was the original lead singer for The Flamin’ Groovies for their first three albums in the pre-Shake Some Action era. Those albums are Supersnazz on Epic followed by a pair of early 1970s albums on Kama Sutra, Flamingo and Teenage Head.
In 1979, Roy co-founded the group Phantom Movers with two other former Flamin’ Groovies members, recording through 1993.
To offer The Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek double duty relief of playing both keyboards and bass on their second album, Elektra producer Paul Rothchild suggested bringing in Doug Lubahn, the bassist from the Elektra band Green Light, for The Doors’ Strange Days sessions in 1967. Ray welcomed him and called him “The Fifth Door.” Jim Morrison drove him to the studio each day. The Doors’ drummer John Densmore said that bass players and drummers were brothers and that Doug’s playing was solid and like a rock. The Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger said that it was too bad that Doug didn’t permanently join the group when they asked him but admired his loyalty to the band Clear Light, who are most noted for the song “Mr. Blue,” an eerie Doors-like number. In addition to playing bass on The Doors’ 1967 Top 40 singles “People Are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times,” he also played on The Doors’ second No. 1 single, “Hello, I Love You” in 1968, and on the single “Wishful Sinful” the following year.
After Clear Light disbanded, Doug changed labels to Columbia for his next two bands. First came the jazz rock outfit Dreams, with the Brecker Brothers on brass and Billy Cobham on drums, with two albums, followed by another group with two albums, Pierce Arrow, noted mainly for being the first act to record the song “Take This Heart” in 1977, to be covered by Anne Murray at the end of the decade. As the 1980s began, Doug was in the band Riff Raff, writing and recording the song “Treat Me Right,” which Pat Benatar revised and reached No. 18 for her in 1981. Doug Lubahn passed away on November 20 at the age of 71.
When lead guitarist Nokie Edwards left The Ventures in the late 1960s, Gerry McGee joined the remaining members of the instrumental quartet as their new lead guitarist. This lineup brought the group to the Top 10 for a final time in 1969 with their version of the theme for Hawaii Five-O, a television show which was in its first season.
The Ventures’ final charting single debuted on Christmas Day 1971, their cover of “Joy” by the British studio group Apollo 100. A week later, on New Year’s Day 1972, the original Apollo 100 rock interpretation of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” debuted and quickly surpassed The Ventures’ remake. The album Joy: The Ventures Play the Classics contained their interpretations of works by Beethoven, Bach and Mozart.
Gerry left The Ventures in 1972, toured with a variety of artists and returned to the group in 1985. In 2002 they released a sequel to their 1965 Christmas album called Christmas Joy, using the same technique of starting a song with a familiar lead guitar part that blended into a holiday classic, for example, Gerry using the opening of “Secret Agent Man” and going into “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”
Gerry passed away on October 12 in Japan, where The Ventures have a strong following of their instrumental music. He was 81.
On September 13, we lost singer-songwriter and saxophone player Eddie Money, a friend to Goldmine, participating in multiple interviews in recent years. His Top 40 debut single, “Baby Hold On,” co-written with the guitarist Jimmy Lyon, from Eddie Money’s self-titled debut album, reached No. 11 in spring of 1978, followed by “Two Tickets to Paradise” that summer, which reached No. 22. Eddie told Goldmine where he first heard his first hit single on the radio: “San Francisco. I was driving my 1962 Studebaker, which only had AM radio. FM college radio had played my songs, but AM radio back then was the real thing. KFRC AM played ‘Baby Hold On.’ I was so excited. I drove to a payphone to call my mother back east. It took six quarters to make the long distance call and I reached her and screamed, ‘Mom! My song is on the radio.’ She replied, ‘It is Wednesday. Why are you calling me on a Wednesday? I told you not to call on Wednesdays, it is my Mahjong night.’ I have laughed for years that she didn’t quite share my enthusiasm at that moment.”
Eddie’s single “Maybe I’m a Fool,” with a slight disco sound, from his second album, Life for the Taking, reached No. 22 in early 1979. The single “Think I’m in Love” reached No. 16 in 1982, the same year that his single “Shakin’” received significant FM rock airplay, both from his album No Control.
Eddie Money’s highest charting single debuted in the Top 40 in the fall of 1986 and reached No. 4. It was “Take Me Home Tonight,” the first of three Top 10 singles from his Can’t Hold Back album. This song referenced The Ronettes’ hit single “Be My Baby,” with Ronnie Spector as a guest on the record singing, “Be my little baby.” At that point in time, Ronnie had stepped away from music until Eddie called her. He shared with Goldmine, “Ronnie wasn’t easy to track down in the ’80s. She and Phil Spector were divorced and then she remarried. She and her husband Jonathan live in Connecticut. Ronnie answered the phone and I told her my name and asked if she knew who I was. She said ‘yes’ and that she loved my music, so that was good. I told her about ‘Take Me Home Tonight’ and the line, ‘Just like Ronnie sang: Be my little baby,’ and then I heard the clanging of glasses. I asked her what that was. She was doing the dishes. She had given up music, but fortunately she agreed to sing the line on the song, got the music bug back, and has been recording and touring ever since.” In concert, Eddie’s daughter Jesse performed Ronnie’s lines.
The Can’t Hold Back album was Eddie’s fourth album to reach multi-platinum status in the U.S. It also contained the song “Stranger in a Strange Land,” co-written by Henry Small, known for his work with the Canadian band Prism in the ’80s. Henry told Goldmine, “I was so sorry to hear of Eddie’s passing. Eddie will always have a fond place in my memory. I had moved to Canada with my wife and children. Richie Zito, who was Eddie’s producer at the time, phoned and asked to use a song I had written with Tommy Whitlock. I was down and out at the time and when he asked to use the song, I happily agreed. That one phone call kind of saved my life at that time and I have always been grateful to Eddie ever since. My sincere good wishes to his family at this time.”
At the end of the ’80s, Eddie married Laurie Harris, who he met at one of his concerts, standing close to the stage.
Eddie Money’s eleventh and final Top 40 single came in 1992 with “I’ll Get By.” Eddie is survived by his wife Laurie and their five children Zach, Jesse, Joe, Julian and Desmond (Dez). In addition to the family’s television show, Real Money, Eddie continued to perform in concert through this year, always allowing time to take photos with fans and signing every last autograph.
On November 8, female soul singer Jackie Moore passed away at the age of 73. Jackie debuted in the Top 40 in January 1971 on the Atlantic label, with “Precious, Precious,” which became a gold single for this Jacksonville, Florida native, with a sound that blended an Aretha Franklin-like vocal delivery with a strong, guitar-driven, studio backdrop. The following year she recorded a cover of Motown songwriters’ Holland, Dozier, Holland composition “Darling Baby,” which was originally in the Top 100 in 1966 by The Elgins. The following year she recorded “Sweet Charlie Babe,” which did better in some markets, like Chicago, than “Precious, Precious” had, and has become a beach music staple.
Later in the 1970s, Jackie switched to the Columbia label. Her 1978 recording of “Personally” became a blueprint for Karla Bonoff’s recording of that song for the label, which reached No. 19 in 1982. In August 1979, Jackie covered the song “This Time Baby,” that the O’Jays recorded the prior year and she turned it into a disco hit, which went all the way to No. 1.
Art Neville, of The Meters and The Neville Brothers, died on July 22 at the age of 81. Art also had a local single hit in the New Orleans area in 1962 with “All These Things,” later recorded by The Uniques in the 1960s and Joe Stampley in the 1970s. As a keyboardist for The Meters, Art achieved two Top 40 singles in 1969, “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Cissy Strut.”
On September 15, we lost singer-songwriter and producer Ric Ocasek, a founding member and leader of The Cars. Ric and Benjamin Orr had played in a few Ohio bands before ultimately moving to the Boston scene, which led to The Cars’ self-titled polished Elektra debut album in 1978, produced by Roy Thomas Baker, known for his work with Queen. There was a hint that the group were fans of oldies with borrowed song titles of “Good Times Roll” and “Bye Bye Love.” The album’s first two singles “Just What I Needed” and “My Best Friend’s Girl,” both written by Ric, reached the Top 40 in 1978.
John “Zero” Picard, the guitarist for The Kings told Goldmine, “The Kings were huge fans of The Cars with both bands on the Elektra label. When we were coming up through the bars, they were one of the bands whose songs we covered the most, because they were one of the leading lights in the so-called new wave movement, which put a more sophisticated and musically accomplished twist on the punk scene, and they had hits! These tunes killed in the clubs and inspired us to try and write songs that were more commercial, but with an edge. We saw them in concert in L.A. and they played note for note on those great songs, with Ric sharing vocals with Ben and Elliot Easton on guitar. They rocked on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction last year as well.”
Marty Jourard, keyboard and saxophonist for The Motels, shared with Goldmine, “When my brother Jeff pulled me into The Motels’ lineup in late ‘78, before we were signed to a label, he had discovered The Cars. One day when I had just begun rehearsals, he made me listen to their first album, all the way through twice, as he wanted The Motels to emulate their arranging approach, neatly organized combinations of guitar and synthesizer, each part fitting in with the other instruments. This approach, which I dubbed ‘twisted pop music,’ was full of excitement and promise. Jeff approached the interplay between guitar and synthesizer the way Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes’ parts intertwined. Our first album did have that specific interplay between the two instruments. When The Motels played Boston in 1979 we finally met most of The Cars, and we opened for The Cars during their summer of 1980 tour. Ric was reserved and quiet, but that was just his nature. We found Elliot to be hilarious and Ben to be a mellow guy. The Cars were certainly a large influence on The Motels. Ric wrote edgy and catchy pop songs and his band made great records. His songs and music were vastly influential to a generation of new wave musicians. I eventually became friends with Elliot and Greg and they always had only great things to say about Ric. I believe Ric’s most beautiful vocal is ‘I’m Not the One,’ my favorite song by The Cars. He was an expressive singer in the sardonic style of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, delivering his lyrics perfectly.”
In 1979, The Cars’ second album Candy-O was released which included “Let’s Go,” carrying on with the song title tribute to the ’60s, and became their highest charting single of the decade, reaching No. 14. In 1980, the album Panorama was released, which included the single “Touch and Go,” their first Top 40 hit of the ’80s. Their next single, the title song from their 1981 album Shake It Up, brought them to the Top 10 for their first time.
“You Might Think,” an MTV video staple, from the group’s fifth album Heartbeat City, also reached the Top 10 in 1984. Their single “Drive,” from that album, became the group’s highest charting single, reaching No. 3 that year, written by Ric and sung by Benjamin.
“Tonight She Comes,” released in 1985, was the lone new song on the group’s Greatest Hits album and became their final Top 10 single.
The following year saw solo success for Ric with the gentle “Emotion in Motion,” which reached No. 15, from his This Side of Paradise album. Benjamin Orr’s “Stay the Night” reached No. 24, from his album The Lace. He died from cancer in 2000.
In 2011, the four remaining members of The Cars reunited for their final album, Move Like This.
Ric Ocasek is survived by his six children and his former wife, Paulina Porizkova, who was with Ric when he passed.
Jud Phillips, Jr.
Jud Phillips, Jr. who passed away on December 15 at the age of 71, was part of the Phillips family of Sun Records in Memphis. Jud left Memphis in the 1960s and worked in Hollywood on the Shindig! television show. In the early 1970s, Jud moved to New York City as an executive at Bell Records during the glam rock era with acts on the label including Gary Glitter, Sweet and Suzi Quatro. In the mid-1970s, he returned to Memphis when Mercury Records opened an office there. Jud transitioned acts from the Stax label to Mercury including The Bar-Kays with their Top 40 single “Shake Your Rump to the Funk” and the Top 10 gold single “Tryin’ to Love Two” by William Bell. He also secured the California group Con Funk Shun for the label with their 1977 Top 40 hit “Ffun” and more to follow.
Jim Pike, a co-founder of The Lettermen vocal trio, passed away on June 9 at the age of 82. The group was formed in 1961 and achieved major success that year with a song intended to be a flip side, “The Way You Look Tonight.” Their highest charting singles both came in the 1960s and both peaked at No. 7, “When I Fall in Love” and the cover song medley “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes off of You.” Until recently Tony Butala was the remaining original member. He retired in 2019 and was replaced, after an extensive search, by Rob Gulack, joined by long time Lettermen members Donovan Tea, who joined the trio in 1984 and Bobby Poynton who was in the group from 1988 through 1995 and then rejoined in 2011.
Mac Rebennack, known as Dr. John, “The Night Tripper,” an American Original, a beloved, charismatic, flamboyant performer, composer, producer, arranger and the public face of New Orleans, died from a heart attack on June 6.
An early architect of 1950s rock and roll as a session guitarist and bassist, when he ran afoul of the law and relocated to Hollywood, where he invented his colorful persona and recorded one of the greatest of all the great ’60s albums, Gris-Gris, in 1968. Wildly psychedelic without being rock, he set a new standard that combined blues, jazz, folkloric strains of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes, voodoo practitioners (he always kept a real skull on his piano at concerts), inhabiting his character to the fullest. Influenced by Crescent City legend Professor Longhair, Mac became a musician’s musician, even inventing his own patois in a hipster dialect.
No one encapsulated the spirit of Louisiana like Mac. His 1972 Gumbo distilled that essence perfectly. With over 30 albums to his credit, he even transcended the music of Louis Armstrong (2014’s Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit Of Satch), Duke Ellington (2000’s Duke Elegant) and composer Johnny Mercer (2006’s Mercernary). His Goin’ Back To New Orleans is arguably the greatest album of 1992. He didn’t even reach his prime until a three-album stretch between 2001 to 2005 with Creole Moon, N’Awlinz: Dis Dat or d’Udda and the righteously angry and provocative Sippiana Hericane (which he reprised on 2008’s City That Care Forgot). In fact, it was Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that changed his life and his art. He became outspoken in his criticism of governmental response and he never let up. Tribal was his 2010 masterpiece where he shook off his anger and returned to the kind of joyousness that his home town has always been known for.
With that growly voice, twinkle in his eye and obvious love for what he did, it’s a fair assumption that there will never be anyone remotely like him again.
The nostalgic sounding singer Leon Redbone passed away on May 30 at the age of 69. His sole Top 100 single was “Seduced,” which reached No. 72 in 1981.
Vibraphonist and percussionist Emil Richards passed away on December 13 at the age of 87. He can be heard on George Harrison’s four albums from 1974 through the end of that decade on songs including the Top 40 singles “Ding Dong; Ding Dong” and “Blow Away.” He can also be heard at the beginning of The Doors’ “Down on the Farm,” from their first post-Jim Morrison album Other Voices in 1971. Emil was also featured on a variety of Frank Zappa albums beginning with his 1968 solo debut Lumpy Gravy. Emil helped to showcase an early taste of world music on Neil Diamond’s Tap Root Manuscript album in 1970. In 1981, he helped to add a tropical sound to the No. 1 hit single “The Tide is High” by Blondie.
As 2019 began we quickly learned of the loss of Ray Sawyer, who gave the group Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show its iconic image.
In 1967, vocalist and songwriter Ray Sawyer was in a severe automobile accident, resulting in the loss of his right eye. Ultimately, he began wearing an eye patch, along with a cowboy hat, an image that he had seen actor John Wayne embrace as the character Rooster Cockburn in the 1969 film True Grit, which also starred Glen Campbell. Some felt Ray looked like a pirate, a bit like Captain Hook from Peter Pan, and this image became a key part of his stage presence and the name of the country-rock group which he co-founded, Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show. Poet and author Shel Silverstein heard the band’s demo for Columbia and chose to work with the group as a songwriter of some of their songs.
In 1972, Dr. Hook and The Medicine show debuted on Columbia with their gold single “Sylvia’s Mother.” Dennis Locorriere sang lead on this Shel Silverstein composition with Ray providing harmony vocals, which was the case with most of their hit singles. The exception was their second gold single, “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone’,” also written by Shel, with Ray providing the humorous vocal delivery. Ray’s comical delivery on stage of this song was a hit with audiences. In the fall of 1973, Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show reached the Top 100 for a final time on Columbia with a song Ray and Shel wrote together called “Life Ain’t Easy.”
In the mid-‘70s, the group toned down the humor on their recordings, shortened their name to Dr. Hook and moved from Columbia to Capitol, bringing them back to the Top 10 in early 1976 with a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Only Sixteen,” which allowed them to achieve their third gold single. Later that year, the label also released a self-titled solo album from Ray, which included the Top 100 single “(One More Year Of) Daddy’s Little Girl.”
In late 1978, Dr. Hook achieved their fourth Top 10 single with “Sharing the Night Together.” The following year, their album Sometimes You Win… included their fifth Top 10 gold single “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman” and their highest charting gold single, “Sexy Eyes,” which brought them into the next decade.
The group changed labels one more time in the early ‘80s to Casablanca for a final pair of Top 40 hits, of which 1982’s “Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk” was the most successful from that era.
The original group disbanded in 1983. Ray continued to perform, first relocating to Europe and then to Daytona Beach, Florida, in 2000, where he passed away. He is survived by his wife Linda and their family.
Robert Gordon’s second solo album, 1978’s Fresh Fish Special, continued to showcase his love of early rock and roll and rockabilly sounds. On the first side of the album, which ended with the first commercial recording of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire,” the opening number of “The Way I Walk,” an uptempo cover composed by Jack Scott, which reached No. 35 in 1959 for Jack. From 1958 through 1960, Jack was in the Top 10 four times with the slow ballad “My True Love,” the catchy “Goodbye Baby,” and a pair of hits with a slight country feel, “What in the World’s Come Over You” and “Burning Bridges.”
Jack passed away on December 12 at the age of 83.
Three time record label leader Joe Smith passed away on December 2. From 1972 through 1975, Joe was the president of Warner Brothers Records during the era of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” and The Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.” In 1975, Joe became the chairman of Elektra/Asylum Records with hits including Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Joe continued with the pair of labels through 1983. In 1987, he returned to the music industry as president and CEO of Capitol-EMI Music.
Joe Smith was 91.
On November 25, Iain Sutherland, the Scottish rhythm guitarist, singer and songwriter with The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver passed away at the age of 71. The group’s album Lifeboat contained the song “Sailing,” which Rod Stewart later took to No. 58 in the U.S. and No. 1 in England. The album began with Iain’s power pop composition “(I Don’t Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway,” which reached No. 48 in the U.S. in 1973.
In 1975, The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver reached the U.S. Top 100 for a second time, at No. 81, with a song from their Reach for the Sky album that Iain wrote called “Arms of Mary,” which Canada’s Chilliwack included on their 1978 album Lights from the Valley and released as a single, which reached No. 67 in the U.S. Chilliwack’s Bill Henderson told Goldmine, “Using an outside composition was different for us, but we were at a low point in our writing, needed help, and this was a song that fit the direction we had been going. Our record company had put a lot into us and needed a hit and we had to respect that. ‘Arms of Mary’ is a really good song, so we poured on the coals in the arrangement and production department. Our fans still love to hear it and sing along, and we’re happy to play it for them. Rest in peace, Iain.”
Bassist Larry Taylor passed away on August 19 at the age of 77. He played bass on the early Monkees albums. From 1967 through 1970 he was in the blues rock band Canned Heat, with three singles in the Top 40. In the summer of 1968, as The Monkees’ final Top 40 single of the decade appeared, Canned Heat debuted with “On the Road Again,” outperforming The Monkees in the Top 40 that summer. At the end of the year, the up-tempo “Going Up the Country” debuted and would continue its run in the Top 40 for nine weeks through early 1969. The song would be featured in both the Woodstock film and soundtrack. The group’s cover of Wilbert Harrison’s “Let’s Stick Together,” which they re-titled as “Let’s Work Together,” brought the band to the Top 40 for a final time in 1970. As his work with Canned Heat concluded, Larry was heard on latter day Monkees albums, several albums by John Mayall in the 1970s, many from Tom Waits beginning in the 1980s, and played bass for many other acts’ recordings.
On February 21, we lost multi-instrumentalist Peter Tork, at the age of 77, in Connecticut. In September of 1966, Peter debuted on television, radio and record as a member of The Monkees along with Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith. On their self-titled debut album, Peter played guitar on Mike’s compositions “Papa Genes Blues” and “Sweet Young Thing,” along with playing bass on the latter, which Mike co-wrote with Gerry Goffin and Carole King.
Peter sang lead vocals on “Your Auntie Grizelda” from the quartet’s second and bestselling album, More of The Monkees. On their third album, Headquarters, Peter traded vocals with Davy Jones on “Shades of Gray,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The album also included Peter’s composition, co-written with Joseph Richards, about love, understanding and freedom called “For Pete’s Sake,” which was used as the closing number on the second season of The Monkees’ television show.
The Monkees’ fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., included the Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart composition “Words,” with Micky singing lines one and three of each verse followed by Peter on lines two and four. This song also served as the flip side of “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” with the A-side reaching No. 3 and the flip side reaching No. 11 in 1967. Later that year, Peter was heard on piano on the No. 1 single “Daydream Believer,” written by John Stewart. Its fast-paced flip side, “Goin’ Down,” was written by Peter, along with the other Monkees and Diane Hildebrand.
In 1968, the final two Monkees albums as a quartet were released, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, followed by the film soundtrack Head, which included Peter singing his composition “Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?”
In 1976, Peter, Davy and Micky reunited for The Monkees’ 10th anniversary to record The Monkees Fan Club single “Christmas is My Time of Year.”
In the 1980s, MTV helped bring popularity back to the group, playing episodes of their mid-’60s television show. Rhino released Monkees albums, keeping the same label design as the original Colgems red and white label. In 1986, Peter and Micky, for The Monkees’ 20th anniversary, released the single “That Was Then, This Is Now” which reached No. 20. Davy rejoined the group for the album Pool It! the following year, which included Peter’s song “Gettin’ In,” fitting the times musically, with a slight Men Without Hats style.
In the 1990s, The Monkees appeared on episodes of the television show Boy Meets World where Peter had a recurring role as Mr. Lawrence, the father of Topanga Lawrence, played by Danielle Fishel. In 1996, all four Monkees reunited for the 30th anniversary album Justus. Peter’s “Run Away from Life” was in line with “Gettin’ In” from the prior decade.
In 2016, all four members, including Davy posthumously, were included on their 50th anniversary album Good Times! Peter was featured on the Gerry Goffin and Carole King composition “Wasn’t Born to Follow.” Last October, all four members were again included on The Monkees’ Christmas Party, with Peter singing “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
In recent years, Peter toured with The Monkees and led his group Shoe Suede Blues. Micky Dolenz wrote on Twitter, “There are no words right now. I’m heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother.” Mike Nesmith stated on Facebook, “I can only pray his songs reach the heights that can lift us and that our childhood lives forever, that special sparkle that was The Monkees. I will miss him, a brother in arms.”
— Warren Kurtz
Bernie Torme, a guitarist for Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan’s band Gillan and for Ozzy Osbourne, died March 17 at the age of 66.
On March 22, singer Scott Walker passed away at the age of 76. His deep and rich voice was heard on The Walker Brothers’ 1960s Top 40 hit singles “Make It Easy on Yourself,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and on “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore), written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio.
British guitarist Lloyd Watson passed away on November 19 at the age of 70. In addition to touring with Roxy Music, he played on solo albums and projects from Roxy Music band members including Phil Manzanera’s 801, Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets, and Andy Mackay’s In Search of Eddie Riff. The British version of that saxophone-driven solo album began with a powerful version of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” while the U.S. version began with an early rock and roll style “Wild Weekend” cover.
Sal Maida, a bassist who toured with Roxy Music and is heard on their live Viva! album told Goldmine, “Lloyd was a wonderfully talented musician and a really lovely, fun guy. I am sad to hear of his passing.”
As part of our interview with singer Debby Boone, Grammy award winning songwriter Allee Willis shared with Goldmine, “My co-writers Franne Golde, Peter Noone and I absolutely loved how Debby sang ‘God Knows.’ We really thought it was going to be a smash.” Debby told Goldmine, “I was so sorry to hear about sweet Allee. What a one of a kind, fantastic human being!” While “God Knows” peaked at No. 74 in 1978, Allee achieved several Top 40 songwriting hits in the 1970s through 1990s.
Allee had three songs in the Top 10 in 1979. There was “Lead Me On” by Maxine Nightingale” and a pair of songs by Earth, Wind & Fire, recently performed at the Kennedy Center Honors event, “September” and “Boogie Wonderland.” In the 1980s, Allee was in the Top 10 with “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” by the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, which reached No. 2 and “Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters, which reached No. 6, and was included in the film Beverly Hills Cop. Allee also co-wrote songs with the group’s Anita Pointer.
The Rembrandts’ Danny Wilde told Goldmine, “We were asked if we would be interested in co-writing a theme song for a television pilot called Friends. About 90 percent of the 42-second version had already been written along with Allee providing the lyrics before we arrived, where Phil Solem added the catchy guitar riff and he and I turned the 42-second version into the full song with our writing and performance.” The theme from Friends called “I’ll Be There for You” reached No. 17 in 1995. Allee’s lyrics offered friendship as a comfort to life’s problems. Her classic lyrics included, “Your job’s a joke. You’re broke. Your love life’s D.O.A.” and “It hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year.”
In the next decade, Allee achieved success on Broadway as one of the team of songwriters for the musical adaptation of The Color Purple, which is currently on tour. Allee passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 72.