Steve's Dead Rock Stars


*** 2012 ***

Claim to Fame
Cause of Death
12/29/201273Mike AuldridgeDobro guitaristCancerSilver Spring, Maryland

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Mike Auldridge

December 30, 1938 - December 29, 2012

Mike Auldridge was considered the finest player of the Dobro (resophonic) guitar. He was a member of the group The Seldom Scene, creating a fusion of bluegrass with jazz, folk and rock.

Mike was also a member of the touring bands of Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris.

12/26/201272Fontella BassR&B soul singerHeart FailureSt. Louis, Missouri

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Fontella Bass

July 3, 1940 - December 26, 2012

Fontella Bass was an R&B soul singer best known for her 1965 million-selling hit, "Rescue Me." Backing musicians on the track included drummer Maurice White (later the leader of Earth, Wind, & Fire), bassist Louis Satterfield and tenor saxophonist Gene Barge, with the young Minnie Riperton among the background singers.

12/24/201276Ray CollinsFrank Zappa, vocalist Pomona, California

Ray Collins
November 19, 1936 - December 24, 2012

Ray Collins, who co-founded and was the long-time vocalist for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, has died at age 76.

Ray Collins hired Frank Zappa in 1964 to play guitar for his band, The Soul Giants. The group soon became the Mothers of Invention. Collins appeared on the group's earlier works including Freak Out!, Absolutely Free, and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets.

Ray left the group over musical differences, feeling that they played "too much comedy." In recent years, Mr. Collins was reportedly living out of a van in Claremont, California, where he was frequently seen on sidewalk benches. He'd worked as a taxi driver in Los Angeles and a dishwasher in Hawaii, receiving Social Security checks and some royalties from "Memories of El Monte," a ballad he and Zappa wrote based on the chords to the Penguins' "Earth Angel."

Ray Collins died in a California hospital where he had been since suffering a massive heart attack on Dec. 18th.

12/21/201270Lee DormanIron Butterfly, bassist Laguna Nigel, California

Photo by Steve Covault
Lee Dorman

September 15, 1942 - December 21, 2012

Lee Dorman was a member of psychedelic rock bands Iron Butterfly and Captain Beyond.

Iron Butterfly formed in 1966 in San Diego and recorded their first album before Dorman joined a revised lineup that included guitarist Erik Braunn, keyboardist and singer Doug Ingle and drummer Ron Bushy. The new lineup recorded the album "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." The title track became a smash hit and helped keep the album on the charts for 2 1/2 years.

Dorman was found dead in a vehicle; he may have been on his way to a doctor's appointment.

12/11/201292Ravi ShankarSitar Player La Jolla, California

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Ravi Shankar

April 7, 1920 - December 11, 2012

Ravi Shanker was an Indian sitar player who became famous through his work with George Harrison and his performance at Woodstock in 1969. Shankar helped millions in the West discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music and became a hippie music icon. He also helped pioneer benefit concerts with the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh.

Born in India as Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, he began to study sitar in 1938, worked as a composer, and was music director of All India Radio.

In 1956, he began to tour Europe and America playing Indian classical music.

In 1966, George Harrison met Shankar in London and accepted an invitation to visit India for six weeks to study sitar under Shankar. In 1967, Shanker performed at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Shanker received numerous awards, including five Grammys, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Music Score for his work on the 1982 movie Gandhi. He has many honorary degrees from universities and was awarded India's three highest national civilian honors.

Ravi Shankar has two daughters who are musicians: popular singer Norah Jones and Indian musician Anoushka Shankar.

He was a longtime resident of Encinitas, California. He was admitted to Scripps La Jolla hospital complaining of breathing difficulties. He died at the hospital at about 4:30 PM on December 11, 2012.

12/9/201243Jenni RiveraBanda and ranchera music singerplane crashIturbide, Nuevo León, Mexico

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Jenni Rivera

July 9, 1969 - December 9, 2012

Jenni Rivera was an American singer known for her work within the Banda and ranchera music genres. She was considered one of the most important female figures in Mexican music.

Jenni was born in Long Beach, California and began recording music in 1992. Her recordings often had themes of social issues, infidelity, and relationships.

Over the course of her career she was awarded two Oye! Awards (Mexico's equivalent to the United States' Grammy Awards), two Billboard Music Awards, twenty-two Billboard Latin Music Awards, eleven Billboard Mexican Music Awards and eighteen Lo Nuestro Awards. She received four Latin Grammy nominations.

Rivera, along with six others, died in a plane crash in Mexico on December 9, 2012.

12/6/201289Ed CassidySpirit, drummerCancerSan Jose, California

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Ed Cassidy

May 4, 1923 - December 6, 2012

Ed Cassidy was the drummer for the Southern California rock band Spirit. Spirit's biggest hit was the song "I Got a Line on You" from their landmark 1969 album entitled The Family That Plays Together.

Ed Cassidy was the father-in-law of the late Randy California, Spirit's guitarist. Randy drowned in Hawaii in 1997.

Cassidy was noted for his shaved head (which inspired the nickname "Mr. Skin"), head-to-toe black wardrobe and massive drum kit.

12/5/201291Dave BrubeckJazz pianist and composerHeart FailureNorwalk, Connecticut

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Dave Brubeck

December 6, 1920 - December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck was an American Jazz great, perhaps best known for "Take Five," the standout composition from Time Out, the first jazz album in history to sell over a million copies. A leader in progressive Jazz, his music experimented with unusual time signatures, polytonality and superimposing contrasting rhythms and meters.

In 1954 Mr. Brubeck was featured on the cover of Time magazine, only the second jazz musician (after Louis Armstrong) to be so honored.

Mr. Brubeck died of heart failure in Norwalk, Connecticut, while on his way to a cardiology appointment. He was one day shy his 92nd birthday.

11/24/201270Chris StampWho / Jimi Hendrix, producer and managerCancerNew York, New York

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Chris Stamp

July 7, 1942 - November 24, 2012

Christopher Thomas "Chris" Stamp was a British music producer and manager known for co-managing and producing such musical acts as the Who and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s and 1970s and co-founding the now defunct Track Records.

He later became a psychodrama therapist based in the state of New York.

11/20/201268Michael DunfordRenaissanceCerebral HemorrhageSurrey, England

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Michael Dunford

1944 - 2012

Michael Dunford, musical composer and guitarist of the progressive rock band Renaissance, passed away on November 20, 2012.

10/21/201271Steve PaulClub Owner / Manager New York, New York

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Steve Paul

April 28, 1941 - October 21, 2012

Steve Paul was the owner of New York City's infamous The Scene club, located in the basement of 301 West 46th Street. In his club, which he operated from 1964 until 1970, many of the notable rock acts of the 60s played, especially Johnny Winter. Other acts featured included The Doors, The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Traffic, Fleetwood Mac and The Chambers Brothers.

Jimi Hendrix was a frequent guest and performer. A recording of Hendrix at The Scene, with contributed drunken ranting by Jim Morrison, can be heard on a bootleg recording that was released with various titles including "Bleeding Heart" and "Woke Up This Morning and Found Myself Dead."

Steve Paul also worked as Johnny Winter's manager for fifteen years.

In 1973, Steve Paul founded Blue Sky Records. The label released recordings by Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer and David Johansen.

10/2/201271Big Jim SullivanBritish session guitarist Billingshurst, West Sussex, England

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Big Jim Sullivan

February 14, 1941 - October 2, 2012

Big Jim Sullivan was a British session guitarist, much in demand in the 1960s and 1970s. He performed on around 750 charting singles over his career,

In 1959, he became a member of Marty Wilde's backing group, the Wildcats. The Wildcats backed Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on their tour of Britain in 1960, during which Cochran died.

Sullivan once gave guitar lessons to his neighbor, Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

In 1969, Sullivan joined Tom Jones' band. During his time with Jones in Las Vegas, he met and became friends with Elvis Presley.

Sullivan died on October 2, 2012, aged 71 due to complications from heart disease and diabetes.

9/25/201284Andy Williamspop singerBladder CancerBranson, Missouri

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Andy Williams

December 3, 1927 - September 25, 2012

Pop crooner Andy Williams (Born Howard Andrew Williams) died at his Branson, Missouri home after battling bladder cancer. He was 84.

Williams sang many pop anthems in the baby boomer generation: Moon River, Butterfly, Canadian Sunset, I Like your Kind of Love, Lonely Street, etc.

Williams was also at home on television: He performed as the house singer for Steve Allen on the Tonight show and starred in his own show The Andy Williams Show from 1962 until 1971.

9/5/201272Joe Southpop singer/songwriterHeart FailureBuford, Georgia

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Joe South

February 28, 1940 - September 5, 2012

Joe South, born Joseph Alfred Souter, was a pop songwriter whose first hit was "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor", a cover of the Big Bopper's 1958 novelty hit.

Encouraged by music publisher Bill Lowery, South continued to write songs, including "I Might Have Known" and "Gone Gone Gone" for Gene Vincent.

South's most commercially successful composition was Lynn Anderson's 1971 country/pop monster hit, "Rose Garden." Billy Joe Royal recorded four South songs: "Down in the Boondocks", "I Knew You When", "Yo-Yo" (later a hit for The Osmonds), and "Hush" (later a hit for Deep Purple). South was also a prominent sideman, playing guitar on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools", Tommy Roe's "Sheila", and Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album.

South died at his home in Buford, Georgia (northeast of Atlanta) on September 5, 2012, of heart failure. He was 72.

9/2/201245Mark AbrahamianStarship, guitaristHeart AttackNorfolk, Nebraska

Rest in Peace
Mark Abrahamian

Starship lead guitarist Mark Abrahamian died Sept 2, 2012 after suffering a heart attack following a concert performance in Nebraska. He was 46.

Starship has just finished a show in Norfolk, Nebraska, opening for Survivor and Boston. After the show, Abrahamian was backstage talking to his fiancee on the phone when he collapsed. They planned to marry in Hawaii in December.

Originally formed as Jefferson Airplane in 1965, the band morphed over the years into Jefferson Starship, Starship, and ultimately, Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas. Abrahamian had played with Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas since 2000. After graduating from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California, Abrahamian went on to play live with Christopher Cross, Pat Travers, and Chuck Negron. Abrahamian also played with bands Survivor, Toto, Loverboy and AC/DC in his music career.

Abrahamian lived in Austin, Texas.

9/1/201291Hal DavidLyricistStrokeLos Angeles, California

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Hal David

May 25, 1921 - September 1, 2012

Hal David is best remembered for his songwriting collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach and his association with Dionne Warwick. Together, they wrote popular hit songs such as "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" (from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, "Do You Know the Way to San Jose", "Walk On By", "What the World Needs Now Is Love", "What Do You Get When You Fall In Love" and many others.

David joined the board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1974 and served as ASCAP president from 1980 to 1986. David suffered a stroke and died from its complications at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

8/18/201273Scott McKenzieGuillain-Barré syndromeLos Angeles, California

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Scott McKenzie

January 10, 1939 - August 18, 2012

Scott McKenzie (born Philip Wallach Blondheim) was best known as the singer of the 60's anthem "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)." This song, released in 1967, was written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. McKenzie toured with The Mamas and the Papas in the 1990s. He also co-wrote "Kokomo", a #1 single for the Beach Boys in 1988.

McKenzie had battled Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease that affects the nervous system, and had been in and out of the hospital since 2010.

7/27/201262Darryl CottonZootLiver CancerMelbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Darryl Cotton

September 4, 1949 - July 27, 2012

7/16/201271Jon LordDeep Purple, keyboardistPulmonary EmbolismLondon, England

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Jon Lord

June 9, 1941 - July 16, 2012

British rocker Jon Lord, keyboardist and founding member of Deep Purple, has died at the age of 71 years.

Lord helped write some of Deep Purple's most famous songs including "Smoke on the Water" and "Child in Time". He then had a successful solo career, later playing with Whitesnake, The Hoochie Choochie Men, and then back with a reformed Deep Purple in 1984. He played with singer David Coverdale, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and drummer Ian Piace until Lord retired from Deep Purple in 2002.

Lord suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism at the London Clinic after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

7/16/201292Kitty Wellscountry singer Madison, Tennessee

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Kitty Wells

August 30, 1919 - July 16, 2012

Kitty Wells was an American country music singer. Her recording of the song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" topped the country charts in 1952, making her the first female country singer to do so.

Kitty Wells died on July 16, 2012 in Madison, Tennessee, from complications of a stroke. She was 92.

6/18/201282Victor SpinettiBeatles associateProstate CancerMonmouth, Wales

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Victor Spinetti

September 2, 1929 - June 18, 2012

Victor Spinetti was a Welsh actor, Tony award winner, author and raconteur best remembered for appearing in three Beatles' films. In A Hard Day's Night, Spinetti plays an exasperated TV director who tries to get The Beatles to settle down and rehearse. In 1965's Help! Spinetti played the evil villain, Professor Foot. In the 1967 TV special Magical Mystery Tour Spinetti played the evil villain, Professor Foot.

He also appeared on one of the Beatles' Christmas recordings.

6/16/201233Scott JohnsonRadiohead, drum technicianStage CollapseToronto, Canada

Rest in Peace
Scott Johnson

On June 16, 2012, the English alternative rock band Radiohead were scheduled to perform the final concert of their 2012 North American tour in Downsview Park, Toronto, Canada.

At about 4:00 PM, an hour before doors were to open for the concert, the roof of the temporary stage collapsed, killing drum technician Scott Johnson and injuring three others. Much of the band's equipment was also damaged or destroyed.

Multiple engineering and construction errors may have contributed to this tragic stage collapse. Weight miscalculations, design flaws, missing locking pins in the upper areas of the scaffolding and improperly installed ballasts were noted. A post mortem engineering report listed the primary cause of the collapse as "crushing to the pick-up trusses" - the metal structures that were supposed to hold the stage roof structure and lighting in the air.

Two trials followed the disaster, with Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari and contractor Optex Staging and Service as defendents. Ultimately, the trials were dismissed because the matter had taken too long to go through the courts.

6/7/201266Bob WelchFleetwood MacSuicideNashville, Tennessee

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Bob Welch

August 31, 1945 - June 7, 2012

Bob Welch was a member of Fleetwood Mac, joining the band in 1971. He was with the band through 1974's "Heroes are Hard to Find" album.

Welch had a successful solo career in the late 1970s. His singles included "Hot Love, Cold World", "Ebony Eyes", "Precious Love", and his signature song "Sentimental Lady".

On June 7, 2012, Welch committed suicide in his Nashville home. He was found by his wife with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest; a suicide note had been left behind. According to his wife, Welch had spinal surgery three months earlier and doctors had told him he would not get better, and he did not want her to have to care for an invalid.

5/20/201267Robert NixAtlanta Rhythm Section, drummer Memphis, Tennessee

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Robert Nix

- May 20, 2012

Robert Nix, drummer and co-founder of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, has died at age 67 at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Mr. Nix's music career started in the 1960s in his hometown of Jacksonville. He played in Roy Orbison's band, the Candymen for several years. He also provided the backbeat for southern rockers the Allman Brothers and Ronnie Van Zant.

After moving to Atlanta, Nix and Rodney Justo formed ARS. The band had several hits during their 1970's heyday: "So Into You," "Imaginary Lover," "I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight," "Do It or Die" and "Doraville."

Nix was also featured on Lynyrd Skynyrd's epic track "Tuesday's Gone."

Robert Nix is survived by his wife and three children.

5/20/201262Robin GibbBee GeesLiver and Kidney FailureLondon, England

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Robin Gibb

December 22, 1949 - May 20, 2012

5/17/201262Donna SummerQueen of DiscoLung CancerEnglewood, Florida

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Donna Summer

December 31, 1948 - May 17, 2012

Donna Summer (Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, Massachusetts) "The Queen of Disco", has died of lung cancer at her Florida home.

Summer first became involved with singing through church choir groups. Influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s, she became the front singer of a psychedelic rock band named Crow and moved to New York City. Joining a touring version of the musical Hair, she spent several years living in West Germany, where she married Helmut Sommer, whose surname she adopted as her stage name.

After returning to the United States, Summer co-wrote the song "Love to Love You Baby" with Pete Bellotte; it was released to mass commercial success in 1975, particularly on the disco scene. Over the following years, Summer followed this success with a string of other disco hits, such as "I Feel Love", "MacArthur Park", "Hot Stuff" and "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)". Becoming known as the "Queen of Disco", she regularly appeared at the Studio 54 club in New York City, while her music gained a particularly large following within the gay community.

Summer died on the morning of May 17, 2012. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer not related to smoking and believed she developed the illness by inhaling toxic particles following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Summer is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, as well as her daughter Mimi from a previous marriage. Her funeral was held in Nashville, Tennessee on May 23, 2012. Her body was buried in Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.

5/13/201270Donald "Duck" DunnBooker T and the MG's, bassist Tokyo, Japan

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Donald "Duck" Dunn

November 24, 1941 - May 13, 2012

Donald "Duck" Dunn was bass guitarist with Booker T. & the M.G.'s. He also worked extensively as a session bassist for Stax Records, as a record producer and a songwriter.

Dunn played on thousands of records including hits by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and many others. Dunn also performed on recordings with The Blues Brothers, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Isaac Hayes, Levon Helm, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, Guy Sebastian, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Roy Buchanan, Steely Dan and Arthur Conley.

He was the featured bass player for Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty's "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" single from Nicks' 1981 debut solo album Bella Donna, as well as other Petty tracks between 1976 and 1981.

Dunn appeared as himself in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, where he famously uttered the line, "We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline!" He also appeared in the 1998 sequel Blues Brothers 2000.

Dunn died in his sleep after finishing a show at the Blue Note night club in Tokyo where he performed with Steve Cropper the night before.

5/4/201247Adam YauchBeastie BoysCancerNew York, New York

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Adam Yauch

August 5, 1964 - May 4, 2012

Adam Yauch, founding member of the New York hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died of cancer at age 47. Yauch, also known as MCA, had been in treatment for salivary gland cancer since 2009.

4/19/201271Levon HelmThe BandCancerNew York, New York

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Levon Helm

May 26, 1940 - April 19, 2012

Levon Helm was the drummer and frequent vocalist for The Band, noted for their hit recordings such as "The Weight", "Up on Cripple Creek", "Ophelia" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

In 1994, Helm was inducted into Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Band.

4/19/201258Greg HamMen at Work Carlton North, Victoria, Australia

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Greg Ham

September 27, 1953 - April 19, 2012

Gregory Norman "Greg" Ham was the saxophone player and multi-instrumentalist (Flute, Organ, Piano) for the Australian band Men at Work.

Ham joined with Colin Hay, Ron Strykert and Jerry Speiser to form Men at Work. The band rose to international fame in the 1980s with hits such as "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under."

30 years after recording "Down Under", Men at Work were sued for copyright infringement. The claim was that the song's flute solo was copied from the Australian folk song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree". The lawsuit was ultimately settled, with 5% of the royalties from the Men at Work song going to the Kookaburra copyright holders. This settlement was upsetting to Greg Ham, as his flute solo in "Down Under" was one of his proudest accomplishments.

Greg Norman was found dead at his home in Carlton North, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. He lived there alone and was working as a guitar teacher at Carlton North Primary School.

4/18/201282Dick ClarkAmerican Bandstand, hostHeart FailureSanta Monica, California

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Dick Clark

November 30, 1929 - April 18, 2012

Dick Clark "America's Oldest Teenager" has died at age 82. Dick Clark was the host of the ABC TV show American Bandstand from 1957 to 1987. He also hosted the game show Pyramid and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, which was broadcast annually from New York's Time Square.

American Bandstand was very influential and exposed Rock 'n Roll to a wider audience while giving national exposure to many emerging artists. The shows were among the first where blacks and whites performed on the same stage.

Clark suffered a massive stroke in December 2004, but continued to work. He died on April 18, 2012 after suffering a heart attack following a medical procedure.

4/12/201270Andrew LoveMemphis Horns, saxophonistAlzheimer's Disease

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Andrew Love

November 21, 1941 - April 12, 2012

Andrew Love and his partner Wayne Jackson collaborated together as the Memphis Horns. The duo's horns can be heard on many great Stax records by artists such as Otis Redding and Sam & Dave.

They worked on many famous songs including Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer." The duo also toured with The Doobie Brothers, Jimmy Buffett, Robert Cray and numerous other performers.

4/5/201288Jim MarshallMarshall AmplificationCancerLondon, England

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Jim Marshall

July 29, 1923 - April 5, 2012

Jim Marshall, who invented the amplifier that helped define the sound of rock guitarists, has died at a hospice in London. He was 88.

Jim Marshall was a drummer, drum teacher, and owner of a London drum store. When musicians such as Pete Townshend encouraged him to add amplification to his wares, he and his partners created a fuzzier, rawer sound and introduced their first amplifier model in 1962.

3/28/201288Earl Scruggsbluegrass banjo player Nashville, Tennessee

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Earl Scruggs

January 6, 1924 - March 28, 2012

Earl Scruggs was an influential banjo player noted for his three-finger banjo picking style. He was a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. In 1948 Scruggs, along with guitarist Lester Flatt, left Monroe's band and formed the Foggy Mountain Boys, later known simply as Flatt and Scruggs.

On September 24, 1962, singer Jerry Scoggins, Lester Flatt and Scruggs recorded "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" for the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies. The song was a hit, leading to success and TV appearances for Flatt and Scruggs.

Scruggs died from natural causes on the morning of March 28, 2012, in a Nashville hospital. His funeral was held on Sunday, April 1, 2012, at the Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

3/12/201265Michael HossackDoobie Brothers, drummerCancerDubois, Wyoming

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Michael Hossack

October 17, 1946 - March 12, 2012

Born in New Jersey, Hossack began playing drums in his pre-teen years before serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He planned to pursue a career in law enforcement upon returning in 1969 when a friend coaxed him into auditioning for California group Mourning Reign. The group soon disbanded, but in 1971 the Doobie Brothers asked him to join their band where he would play alongside drummer John Hartman.

Hossack died at his home in Dubois, Wyoming, after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

3/9/201272Peter BergmanFiresign TheaterLeukemiaSanta Monica, California

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Peter Bergman

November 29, 1939 - March 9, 2012

Peter Bergman was a founding member of the comedy troupe The Firesign Theater. The troupe formed when the members met at a nightly radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles: "Radio Free Oz."

The Firesign Theater recorded their first album, Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, in 1968, followed the next year by How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere At All? and then by Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.

Peter claimed to have coined the term "Love-In" in 1967, and threw the first such event in April 1967 in Los Angeles. The Love-In drew a crowd of some 65,000 people, blocking freeways for miles. This so impressed Gary Usher, a Columbia Records staff producer, that he offered the Firesign Theatre their first record contract.

Peter Bergman passed away in the early morning hours of Friday March 9, 2012 due to complications from leukemia.

3/3/201264Ronnie MontroseMontrosesuicideMillbrae, California

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Ronnie Montrose

November 29, 1947 - March 3, 2012

Ronnie Montrose was a rock guitarist who led a number of his own bands as well as performed and did session work with a variety of other groups.

Montrose played on Van Morrison's 1971 album, Tupelo Honey. He joined the Edgar Winter Group in 1972, playing guitar on the classic album, They Only Come Out at Night.

In 2009, Montrose revealed that he had been fighting prostate cancer. Initial reports attributed the cause of his death to the cancer, but coroner's report ruled his death a suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound. Montrose passed away at his San Francisco area home at the age of 64. He did not leave a suicide note.

2/29/201266Davy JonesThe MonkeesHeart FailureStuart, Florida

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Davy Jones

December 30, 1945 - February 29, 2012

2/17/201268Michael DavisMC5, bassistLiver FailureChico, California

Rest in Peace
Michael Davis

June 5, 1943 - February 17, 2012

Michael Davis was the bass guitarist for rock band MC5. In 1964, he replaced original bassist Pat Burrows and joined Rob Tyner, Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith in MC5. He remained in the group until 1972, playing on three albums, including the classic debut Kick Out the Jams, recorded live at Detroit's Grande Ballroom.

In February 1972, Davis was fired from the band because of his drug use. As he described it, during a British tour he was "put out of the car on the highway so that I had to find my way back home and start things over for myself". The MC5 itself lasted only until its farewell gig at the Grande Ballroom on New Year's Eve 1972.

Davis returned to his first love, painting, when he was jailed on a narcotics charge in the late 1970s. His painting White Panther/Big World appears on the sleeve of the 2009 album MC5: The Very Best of MC5.

Davis died at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, California after a month-long hospitalization for liver disease. Original MC5 members Rob Tyner and Fred "Sonic" Smith both died in the 1990s.

2/11/201248Whitney HoustonsingerDrownedLos Angeles, California

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Whitney Houston

August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston, popular singer and actress who suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, has died in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Houston was discovered singing in a club by music mogul Clive Davis. She is cousin to Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick and godchild of Aretha Franklin. Her music sold over 170 million albums. She scored several #1 hits and numerous awards, including two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards,

As an actress, she was the star of the feature film The Bodyguard. The film's original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single "I Will Always Love You" (authored by Dolly Parton in 1973) became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. After this success, Houston continued to star in films including Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996).

Her 1992 marriage to former New Edition singer Bobby Brown proved to be a tumultuous one. They divorced in 2007.

Houston died in the bathtub of her 4th floor room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She had been staying at the hotel in anticipation of the 2012 Grammy Awards celebration, which she was scheduled to attend.

The final cause of death was established as drowning due to atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.

2/1/201275Don CorneliusCreator of Soul TrainsuicideLos Angeles, California

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Don Cornelius

September 27, 1936 - February 1, 2012

Don Cornelius created the TV show Soul Train after realizing there was no television show in the United States that featured soul music. The show featured music and dancing and became influential among African-Americans and popular with a wider audience.

Soul Train started on WCIU-TV in Chicago after Conelius retired from the Chicago Police Department. Later, the show moved to Los Angeles and went into national syndication. Soul Train provided exposure to black musicians such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Michael Jackson.

Cornelius married his second wife, Russian Model Viktoria Chapman, in 2001. The couple went through a bitter divorce, with Cornelius arrested on a felony domestic violence charge. Chapman filed restraining orders against Cornelius and reportedly pepper-sprayed him multiple times.

It was reported that in recent years, Cornelius suffered a stroke and had brain surgery, which left him in much pain. Mr. Cornelius's body was found at his Sherman Oaks house with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

1/25/201256Mark RealeRiot, guitaristCrohn's disease

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Mark Reale

June 7, 1955 - January 25, 2012

Mark Reale, guitarist for the heavy metal band Riot, passed away from complications from his longtime battle with Crohn's disease. He slipped into a coma and passed away after being hospitalized for two weeks.

Reale released 14 studio albums with Riot, and toured with AC/DC, Kiss and Black Sabbath.

1/25/201274Dick KnissPeter, Paul & Mary, bassistHeart FailureKingston, New York

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Dick Kniss

April 24, 1937 - January 25, 2012

Dick Kniss, a self-taught musician who for more than 40 years played stand-up bass behind Peter, Paul and Mary, has died at age 74.

Mr. Kniss also had an eight-year association with singer-songwriter John Denver and helped write one of Denver's biggest hits, "Sunshine on My Shoulders." He also played with jazz greats including Herbie Hancock and Woody Herman.

He died of pulmonary disease at a hospital near his home in Saugerties, N.Y.

1/25/201249Andrew MacnaughtanRush, photographerHeart FailureLos Angeles ,California

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Andrew Macnaughtan

February 25, 1964 - January 25, 2012

Macnaughtan was best known as the primary photographer for tours, album covers and other artwork for the Canadian rock trio Rush. He also directed more than 70 music videos throughout his award-winning career.

He also launched the ArtGivesHope charity that helps families in Africa affected by HIV/AIDS. His 2011 photography book Grace: Africa in Photographs raises funds for the organization.

Macnaughtan died from a sudden heart attack suffered while on a photo assignment with Rush in Los Angeles.

1/20/201273Etta JamessingerLeukemiaRiverside, California

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Etta James

January 25, 1938 - January 20, 2012

Etta James, the Rhythm and Blues singer of musical staples such as "At Last", died in a Riverside, California hospital, with her husband and sons at her side.

Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles on January 25, 1938 to a 14-year old mother. Her father was never identified, but was rumored to be professional pool player Rudolf "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone.

Ms. James began singing in the gospel choir of a Los Angeles church at age 5. As a teenager, her vocal group, the Creolettes, was discovered by the bandleader Johnny Otis. In 1955 the group, now rechristened the Peaches after Ms. James nickname, scored R&B Hits with "Roll With Me Henry" and "Good Rockin' Daddy." By 1956, Etta James was touring solo, opening for Little Richard.

Her career soared with the 1960 Chess records release of At Last!, an album that combined her husky voice with lush strings. The title cut, At Last, was written by Mack Gordon and Henry Warden for the 1942 musical Orchestra Wives. The song became Ms. James' signature song and a popular first-dance choice at wedding receptions.

In the early 1960s, Ms. James began a decades-long struggle with heroin addiction, leading to jail sentences for writing bad checks and stealing prescription drugs, and involvements with the wrong men.

In 1978, she recorded the classic album Deep in the Night. with the late Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records and that year played a number of dates opening for the Rolling Stones.

In 2003, Ms. James published her autobiography, Rage to Survive: The Etta James Story.

Ms. James was a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winner and a member of both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.

James was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, and also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C The 73-year-old died from leukemia complications at Riverside Community Hospital, with her husband and sons at her side.

1/17/201290Johnny Otissinger, bandleaderLeukemiaLos Angeles, California

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Johnny Otis

December 28, 1921 - January 17, 2012

Johnny Otis (Born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes) was an American singer, musician, talent scout, disc jockey, composer, and bandleader known as the "Godfather of Rhythm and Blues." He evangelized black music to white audiences, even changing his name because he thought Johnny Otis sounded more black than his Greek birth name.

In the 1950s he discovered Etta James. He produced her first hit, "Roll With Me, Henry" (also known as "The Wallflower"). His best known recording is 1958's "Willie and the Hand Jive" later covered by Eric Clapton.

He is the father of musician Shuggie Otis, who wrote the song "Strawberry Letter 23", made famous by the Brothers Johnson.

Johnny Otis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

1/14/201252Robbie Francedrummer Spain

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Robbie France

December 5, 1959 - January 14, 2012

Robbie France, a drummer who worked with Diamond Head, UFO and Wishbone Ash, passed away in Spain at age 52.

1/6/201256Tom ArdolinoNRBQ, drummer

Rest in Peace
Tom Ardolino

January 12, 1955 - January 6, 2012

Tom Ardolino, a longtime drummer of the influential cult band NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet), has died after a lengthy battle with an unidentified illness. He was 56.

Ardolino joined NRBQ in 1974 after years as a dedicated fan and drummed with them for three decades, appearing on 15 studio albums and performing countless live shows over the years.

1/3/201264Bob WestonFleetwood Macgastrointestinal hemorrhageLondon, England

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Bob Weston

November 1, 1947 - January 3, 2012

Bob Weston, former guitarist for the rock band Fleetwood Mac, was found dead at his flat in north London. He was 64.

Weston joined Fleetwood Mac in 1972, replacing Danny Kirwan. He played on the albums Penguin and Mystery to Me. During an American tour in late 1973, drummer Mick Fleetwood discovered that Weston was having an affair with his wife, Jenny Boyd. Weston was fired from the band and the rest of the tour was scrapped.

Weston went on to release several solo albums and played with musicians including Long John Baldry and Murray Head. He also briefly joined Steve Marriott's All-Stars Band.

He was found dead at home in his North London flat in the evening of the 3rd January, by police who made a forced entry after friends became concerned, having not seen him for a couple of days. Cause of death has been attributed to a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. He was found in his bed with the TV on.

1/2/201263Larry ReinhardtIron Butterfly, Captain Beyondrespiratory infectionFlorida

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Larry Reinhardt

July 7, 1948 - January 2, 2012

Guitar player Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt, who played with Iron Butterfly and went on to found rock 'n' roll supergroup Captain Beyond, died from a respiratory infection at a Florida hospital. He was 63.

Reinhart joined Iron Butterfly in 1969, shortly after they released their definitive song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda." He was with the band then they recorded their Metamorphosis album. In 1971, Reinhardt collaborated with Butterfly bassist Lee Dorman, ex-Deep Purple vocalist Rod Evans and Johnny Winter band drummer Bobby Caldwell to form Captain Beyond, which enjoyed a five-year run.

In 2008, he released his first solo album, "Rhino's Last Stand." Two years later, he began working with members of Dickey Betts' band, Great Southern, to produce what would be his final CD, "Back in the Day." They called themselves "Rhino and The Posse."

1/1/201272Fred MilanoDion and the BelmontsLung CancerNew York

Rest in Peace
Fred Milano

Aug. 26, 1939 - January 1, 2012

Fred Milano, an original member of Dion and the Belmonts, died at a hospital on Long Island at age 72. Dion and the Belmonts were known for hits such as "A Teenager in Love" and "Where or When."

Freddie Milano, Angelo D'Aleo and Carlo Mastrangelo were teenage friends from the Bronx when they began blending their voices into doo-wop sounds. Originally calling themselves the Belmonts (after the avenue on which Mr. Milano lived), they became Dion and the Belmonts in 1957 when Dion DiMucci joined as lead tenor.

Dion and the Belmonts were on the Winter Dance Party tour with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper and shared the stage with them on Feb. 2, 1959, at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash after this show.


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