Steve's Dead Rock Stars


*** 2003 ***

Claim to Fame
Cause of Death
12/16/200359Gary StewartCountry singer/songwriterSuicideFort Pierce, Florida

Rest in Peace
Gary R. Stewart
May 28, 1944 - December 16, 2003

Gary Stewart was a country music singer and songwriter known for his vibrato voice and outlaw country sound. He is remembered for a string of 1970s country rock hits including 1975's "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)" from his 1975 release Out of Hand, considered one of the finest honky tonk records ever made.

On November 26, 2003, the day before Thanksgiving, Stewart's wife of nearly forty-three years, Mary Lou, died of pneumonia. Stewart canceled his concert appearances and became extremely despondent after Mary Lou's death. On December 16, he was found dead in his Fort Pierce, Florida, home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the neck.

11/19/200356Greg RidleyHumble Pie / Spooky Tooth, bassistPneumoniaAlicanti, Spain

Rest in Peace
Greg Ridley
October 23, 1947 - November 19, 2003

Greg started playing professionally at a young age. He played bass guitar in a number of London regional bands before joining the band that become Spooky Tooth. Island released Spooky's first album, It's All About in May 1968. The album included their breakout single "Sunshine Help Me" as well as their cover of "Tobacco Road".

With Steve Marriott, Greg formed the band Humble Pie in 1969. Their album Rockin’ The Fillmore might be one of the greatest live albums in rock history.

After being hospitalized in his home of Alicanti, Spain, Greg passed away on November 19, 2003 from pneumonia and resulting complications. He is survived by his wife Patricia, two daughters, two sons and his sister.

11/10/200355Lance DickersonCommander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, drummersuicideFairfax, California

Rest in Peace
Lance Dickerson
Born: October 15, 1948, Livonia, Michigan
Died: November 10, 2003, Fairfax, California

Lance Dickerson, drummer for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, died in Fairfax, California on November 10, 2003.

Mr. Dickerson's work included stints with Charlie Musselwhite, David Bromberg, Mitch Woods, and Maria Muldaur, among many others as well.

11/05/200363Bobby HatfieldRighteous BrothersHeart FailureKalamazoo, Michigan

Rest in Peace
Bobby Hatfield
August 10, 1940 - November 5, 2003

Bobby Hatfield, who with partner Bill Medley pioneered "blue-eyed soul" as the Righteous Brothers with hits like "Unchained Melody" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," has died.

Bobby Hatfield's body was discovered in his hotel room, a half-hour before the duo was set to perform at Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University. A toxicology report concluded that an overdose of cocaine contributed to a fatal heart attack.

10/21/200334Elliott Smithsinger/songwriterStabbed (Suicide?)Los Angeles, California

Rest in Peace
Elliott Smith
August 6, 1969 - October 21, 2003

Elliott Smith was singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who first found success in Portland's music scene. Smith's primary instrument was the guitar, though he also played piano, clarinet, bass guitar, drums, and harmonica.

After playing in the rock band Heatmiser for several years, Smith began his solo career in 1994. Smith rose to mainstream prominence when his song "Miss Misery" was included in the soundtrack for the film Good Will Hunting (1997). The song was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category in 1998.

Smith was a heavy drinker and drug user at times throughout his life, and was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. His struggles with drugs and mental illness affected his life and work, and often appeared in his lyrics.

Elliott Smith died on October 21, 2003 aged 34, in Los Angeles, California. He was stabbed twice in the chest. The autopsy evidence was inconclusive as to whether the wounds were self-inflicted or the result of homicide. Some speculate that Smith was stabbed by his girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba, after the two had an argument in his Echo Park home.

At the time of his death, Smith was working on his sixth studio album, From a Basement on the Hill, which was posthumously completed and released in 2004.

09/30/200364Ronnie Dawsonrockabilly guitaristCancerDallas, Texas

Rest in Peace
Ronnie Dawson
August 11, 1939 - September 30, 2003

Ronald Monroe "Ronnie" Dawson was an American rockabilly singer, guitarist and drummer, nicknamed The Blond Bomber. Although he achieved regional success in the 1950s, his popularity peaked internationally with tours in the 1980s and 1990s.

09/26/200354Robert PalmersingerHeart FailureParis, France

Rest in Peace
Robert Palmer
January 19, 1949 - September 26, 2003

09/26/200340Shawn LaneBlack Oak Arkansas, guitarist?Memphis, Tennessee
09/16/200382Sheb Wooley'Purple People Eater' singerLeukemiaNashville, Tennessee
09/15/200354Michael KnustFever Tree, guitarist Spring Branch, Texas

Rest in Peace
Michael Knust
March 11, 1949 - September 15, 2003

Michael Knust was the guitarist for psychedelic rock band Fever Tree, remembered for their 1968 hit "San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)".

09/12/200371Johnny CashCountry Music LegendDiabetesNashville, Tennessee
09/07/200356Warren ZevonSinger/SongwriterMesotheliomaLos Angeles, California

Rest in Peace
Warren Zevon
January 24, 1947 - September 7, 2003
"Enjoy every Sandwich!"

Warren Zevon died of malignant mesothelioma (a cancerous tumor of the lining of the lung and chest cavity) that is almost always caused by sustained exposure to asbestos. It was widely reported that he died of lung cancer, but this was not accurate.

09/02/200345Bruce WaibelbassistsuicideFlorida

Rest in Peace
Bruce Waibel
July 9, 1958 - September 2, 2003

In 1982, Waibel joined the Gregg Allman band as a roadie. Eventually, he started playing guitar and then bass guitar. He recorded three albums with Gregg Allman, earning two gold records. He also performed with Marshall Tucker, Captain Beyond, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Rick Derringer and others.

He played bass for the rock band FireHouse for three years.

Gregg Allman, in his autobiography My Cross to Bear, writes kind words about Bruce.

08/18/200363Tony JacksonSearchers, bassistLiver DiseaseLondon
08/17/200360Steven "Mr. Blues" MillerGrinderswitch, Elvin Bishop, keyboardist Cirrhosis of the liverCocoa Beach, Florida
08/17/200374Ed TownsendSongwriterHeart FailureSan Bernardino, California
07/30/200380Sam PhillipsMusic ProducerRespiratory FailureMemphis, Tennessee

Rest in Peace
Sam Phillips
January 5, 1923 - July 30, 2003

Sam Phillips, legendary record producer, founded Sun Records in 1952. He discovered Elvis Presley and helped usher in the Rock 'n' Roll revolution.

07/28/200349Greg Guidrysinger/songwriterSuicideFairview, Tennessee

Rest in Peace
Greg Guidry
January 23, 1954 - July 28, 2003

Greg Guidry was a singer/songwriter from St. Louis, Missouri who sang in a band with future Doobie Brother Michael McDonald as a teenager.

Guidry wrote songs for Climax Blues Band, Robbie Dupree, Exile, Johnnie Taylor, Sawyer Brown, and Reba McEntire.

In 1981, he sang as a backing vocalist for the Allman Brothers Band on their 1981 album Brothers of the Road. He signed with Columbia in 1982 and released an album, Over the Line, which produced two hit singles, "Goin' Down" and a duet with his sister Sandy, "Into My Love".

On July 28, 2003, Guidry died in a fire at age 49. His charred body was found in a car parked in his garage in Fairview, Tennessee. His death was ruled a suicide.

07/25/200352Erik BraunnIron ButterflyHeart AttackLos Angeles, California

Rest in Peace
Erik Braunn
August 11, 1950 - July 25, 2003

Erik Braunn, guitarist for Iron Butterfly and the man behind one of the most famous guitar riffs of all time, has died of a heart attack. He was 52.

Braunn was not a founding member of the band. He joined Iron Butterfly in 1967 at the age of 16, in time for the 1968 album which featured the 17 minute rock epic, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Braunn left Iron Butterfly in 1969, but occasionally joined reunions onstage over the years.

07/22/200364Skinny Bobby HarperRadio DJLung CancerAtlanta, Georgia

Rest in Peace
Skinny Bobby Harper
1939 – July 22, 2003

"Skinny" Bobby Harper, an Atlanta radio personality whose outrageous antics in the 1960s and '70s became the model for WKRP in Cincinnati TV character Dr. Johnny Fever, has died of lung cancer at age 64.

Bobby Harper was born in Saskatchewan, Canada and first found success in radio at WSAI (AM), Cincinnati, Ohio and in Kansas City, Missouri at WDAF. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1968 and joined the staff of WQXI radio ("Quixie in Dixie"). Hugh Wilson had worked with Harper at WQXI and used him as the inspiration for the character Dr. Johnny Fever in his TV sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati.

Harper's on-air antics and jokes caused him to be fired several times. He rode a wild bull, ran in an ostrich race and belly-flopped into an immense ice cream sundae. He posed nude for a local magazine with a vinyl record as a fig leaf. He got drunk on the air with 80-proof vodka to prove that drinking and driving is bad. He worked for a number of radio stations around Atlanta, including WPLO, WGST, WLTA, WKLS (96rock), WAKY and WSB.

After being released from WSB in 1991, Harper stayed in Atlanta but left radio, going to work in the corporate communications office of Delta Air Lines. He went on to work for MARTA and Underground Atlanta before retiring.

Harper died on July 22, 2003 in Atlanta from lung cancer.

07/04/200358Barry WhiteSoul SingerKidney Failure / StrokeLos Angeles, California
06/30/200354Richard DepernaThe Boston Tea Party Los Angeles, California
06/19/200356Ethan JamesBlue CheerLiver CancerSan Francisco, California

Rest in Peace
Ethan James
August 2, 1946 - June 19, 2003

Ethan James (born Ralph Burns Kellogg), a former member of Blue Cheer, died on June 19, 2003 of liver cancer. He was 56.

James taught himself to play bass, drums, guitar and piano. He joined the heavy-metal band Blue Cheer in 1969, just after their cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" became a hit.

After the breakup of Blue Cheer, James became a music producer and built the Radio Tokyo Studio in Los Angeles. He worked with many alternative and pop artists such as The Bangles, Jane's Addiction, Black Flag and Sonic Youth.

James sold his studio and returned to performing in 1989 when he discovered a passion for playing the hurdy-gurdy, a medieval instrument that looks like an ancient fiddle with a wheel. When its strings are caressed by a bow, it makes a sound similar to a violin and a set of bagpipes. "This is not some museum piece. It has been through cycles of popularity and obscurity for the last 1,000 years. I think it is becoming more popular again, which is somehow appropriate in the new millennium," James once said. After he became a master of the hurdy-gurdy, James toured the U.S. and Europe, often playing at Renaissance fairs. He performed with the San Francisco Mozart Festival Orchestra and appeared at the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

06/06/200362Dave RowberryThe Animals, keyboardistHeart Failure?London
05/30/200364Mickie MostproducerCancerLondon, England
05/25/200327Jeremy WardMars VoltaHeroin OverdoseLos Angeles, California
05/15/200373June Carter CashCountry SingerHeart FailureNashville, Tennessee
05/11/200357Noel ReddingHendrix bassistcirrhosis of the liverClonakilty, County Cork, Ireland

Rest in Peace
Noel Redding
December 25, 1945 - May 11, 2003

Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding died at his home in Ireland at the age of 57.

Redding was the bass player for the Jimi Hendrix Experience from 1966 to 1969, but he was a guitarist by trade. After leaving Hendrix under unhappy circumstances, Redding played guitar with Fat Mattress and later with Road and the Noel Redding Band, none of which ever came close to the kind of success he had with the Experience.

In recent years, Redding had written a book about his Experience experience, and had spoken out about his lack of profit from the continued sale of Hendrix recordings. He signed away his royalty rights in 1974, allegedly to pay an outstanding legal bill, for a lump payment of $100,000. Redding claimed he agreed to the sum after being promised there would be no more reissues of the Experience material - but that was before CDs and DVDs and the endless repackaging of the band's songs by Hendrix estate.

04/22/200377Felice BryantsongwriterCancerGatlinburg, Tennessee

Rest in Peace
Felice Bryant
August 7, 1925 – April 22, 2003

Felice Bryant (born Matilda Genevieve Scaduto), along with her husband Boudleaux Bryant, wrote some of the most memorable songs in popular music. Among their hits are "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Bye Bye Love" recorded by the Everly Brothers, "Raining In My Heart" recorded by Buddy Holly, and the Tennessee state song "Rocky Top."

Felice died of cancer at her home in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

04/21/200370Nina SimoneJazz and soul singerNatural CausesFrance

Rest in Peace
Nina Simone
February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003

Eunice Kathleen Waymon, better known as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist.

04/17/200369Earl KingR & B legenddiabetes-relatedNew Orleans, Louisiana

Rest in Peace
Earl King
February 7, 1934 - April 17, 2003

Born Earl Silas Johnson IV, Earl King was a prolific songwriter and guitarist who wrote "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" recorded by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Other well-known compositions include the Mardi Gras standards "Big Chief" and "Street Parade."

04/10/200359Little EvaEva Narcissus BoydCervical CancerKinston, North Carolina

Rest in Peace
Little Eva
June 29, 1943 - April 10, 2003

Little Eva (Born Eva Narcissus Boyd) recorded the smash hit "The Loco-Motion" in 1962 at age 16. Boyd was working as a baby sitter for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin when they asked her to record a song they had written after watching her dance around the house. Eva sang on the demo for the song and so impressed Don Kirshner that he released the song it as it was.

"The Loco-Motion" hit the charts again in 1974 when covered by Grand Funk.

03/02/200375Hank Ballardsoul legend Los Angeles, California

Rest in Peace
Hank Ballard
November 18, 1927 - March 2, 2003

Hank Ballard (born John Henry Kendricks) was a R&B singer and songwriter and lead vocalist of Hank Ballard and The Midnighters.

He played an important role as one of the first Rock 'n' Roll artists to emerge in the early 1950s. Hit singles included "Work With Me, Annie," "Annie Had a Baby" and "Annie's Aunt Fannie." He later wrote and recorded "The Twist" which spread the popularity of the dance and was made famous when covered by Chubby Checker.

Hank Ballard was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

04/02/200361Edwin Starrsoul legendHeart AttackNottingham England

Rest in Peace
Edwin Starr
January 21, 1942 - April 2, 2003

Edwin Starr (Born Charles Hatcher in Nashville) was a Motown recording artist and longtime UK resident best known for his anti-conflict song "War": "War, huh, Whatizzit Good For, Absolutely Nothing"

03/13/200366Ian Samwellsongwriter / producerHeart FailureSacramento, California

Rest in Peace
Ian Samwell
January 19, 1937 - March 13, 2003

Ian Samwell was an English musician, songwriter and record producer, best known as the writer of Cliff Richard's debut hit "Move It" and his association with the rock band America with whom he had his biggest commercial success with their hit single "A Horse with No Name". He also worked with The Small Faces, The Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, John Mayall and Hummingbird.

02/23/200347Howie EpsteinTom Petty, bassistHeroin OverdoseSanta Fe, New Mexico

Rest in Peace
Howie Epstein
July 21, 1955 - February 23, 2003

Howie Epstein was a respected musician and producer for more than 20 years. In addition to his work with Tom Petty, he played on Bob Dylan albums in the 1980s and produced the Grammy-award winning album "The Lost Years" for folk singer-songwriter John Prine. Epstein's first big break came playing bass for John Hiatt in the late-Seventies, appearing on the 1980 release, "Two Bit Monsters"; a year before he had joined Del Shannon on the rock legend's 1981 album "Drop Down and Get Me".

He was singer Carlene Carter's longtime boyfriend, producing two of her albums, one of which was nominated for a Grammy. "I'm devastated," said Carter, the stepdaughter of country singer Johnny Cash and daughter of June Carter Cash. "I loved him very much. My kids thought of Howie as their father. "We had a good life together for 15 years. We've been apart since May last year, and all I know is I'm going to miss him very much."

Epstein and Carter were arrested in June 2001 in Albuquerque with 2.9 grams of black-tar heroin and drug paraphernalia in a sports utility vehicle that had been reported stolen.

Epstein teamed up with Petty in 1982 and also worked with Roy Orbison, Del Shannon, John Hiatt, Stevie Nicks and Eric Anderson. "We are deeply saddened at the news of Howie's passing. It's difficult to put into words how much we loved him and will miss him. The world has lost a great talent and a kind and gentle soul," according to a statement on Petty's Web site.

02/20/200331Ty LongleyGreat White, guitaristFireWest Warwick, Rhode Island

Photo by Jim Warren
Ty Longley
September 4, 1971 – February 20, 2003

Ty was lost in the tragic nightclub fire at "The Station" in West Warwick, Rhode Island. It is believed that he may have re-entered the burning building to try to save others.

The fire was caused when pyrotechnics used during Great White's first song ignited urethane foam used for sound insulation around the stage. Within seconds, thick, black acrid smoke started filling the club.

100 people died in the fire, making the disaster one of the worst nightclubs fires in history.

02/20/2003 Mike "The Doctor" GonsalvesDisc JockeyFireWest Warwick, Rhode Island

Rest in Peace
Mike "The Doctor" Gonsalves
1962 – February 20, 2003

Mike "The Doctor" Gonsalves was a DJ for WHJY Radio in West Warwick, Rhode Island. He was one of the 100 people who died due to "The Station" nightclub fire disaster in West Warwick, Rhode Island. He was the MC for the show that evening and introduced Great White moments before the fire started.

02/18/200364Johnny PayCheckCountry StarEmphysemaNashville, Tennessee
02/08/200350Ace MorelandBlues GuitaristMiami, Florida
01/12/200353Maurice GibbBee GeesHeart AttackMiami, Florida
01/11/200355Mickey FinnT-RexAlcoholCroydon, Surrey, England


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