Bramlett, Dec. 27 (69) I discovered this sad news while
putting together this list. One of the great, unsung Southern music;
he is claimed to have taught George Harrison how to play slide
guitar (for "My Sweet Lord"), and Eric Clapton claims to have
learned how to sing from Delaney. For years he was married to, and
musically partnered with Bonnie Bramlett. Their biggest release was
the 1970 LP, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends on Tour with Eric
Clapton (photo).Here's a
clip of Delaney, Bonnie, Clapton, Dave Mason and Bobby Whitlock
peforming D&B's tribute to Robert Johnson, "Poor Elijah".
Eartha Kitt, Dec. 25
(81) "The most exciting woman alive", said Orson Welles.
Ironically the woman known for sultry "Santa
Baby" passed away on Christmas Day. See her also in a
singing "C'est si bon";
NY Times obituary
Odetta, Dec. 3 (77)
Miriam Makeba, Nov. 10 (76)
Two great voices for justice. See my notes & video clips
Byron Lee, Nov. 4 (73)
Jamaican ska pioneer; founder of the Dragonaires
Yma Sumac, Nov. 1 (86)
The "Peruvian Songbird" had a 5-octave range ("the length of a piano
keyboard"), and claimed to be descended from the last Incan emperor.
She was an exotic singing, Broadway and film star in the U.S. in the
1950's and 60's. See her in this
short, but rare
Levi Stubbs, Oct. 17 (72) Lead singer of the Four Tops. The liner notes on a Motown
collection said of his voice, "Heartache had never seemed so
irresistible or so danceable, raising masculine vulnerability to a
new level of pop acceptance".' An
obituary in the (U.K.) Guardian, described the song that
was his and the group's greatest moment ("Reach
Out, I'll Be There" - 1966) as "a tumultuous example of romantic
Alton Ellis, Oct. 10 (70) Jamaican ska/rock steady star
Michael P. Smith, Sep. 25 (71) New Orleans photographer and keeper of its musical and cultural
history. See a biography
some of his photos
Earl Palmer, Sep. 19 (83) "The most recorded drummer in history", he began in New Orleans
playing behind Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Little Richard. In 1957, he
moved to L.A. where he became "the" rock & roll session drummer
through the 60's and 70's, backing, among many others, Eddie
Cochrane, Johnny Otis, Etta James, Ray Charles, the Righteous
Brothers, Sam Cooke... as well as playing on TV themes like The
Flintstones, Mission: Impossible and Hawaiian Eye
Writer Ned Sublette, in
wonderful appreciation of Palmer for Offbeat, wrote that
Palmer was "one of the most influential musicians New Orleans ever
produced, and he probably did more than any other single person to
invent rock ’n’ roll drumming
Nappy Brown, Sep 20 (78) R&B singer from the 40's & 50s. He made a comeback in the 80's,
and his final album was nominated for a 2007 a Blues Music Award.
performing in September that year with Bob Margolin (Muddy
Jerry Reid, Aug 31 (71)
Man" and the amazingly funky
and occasional actor (Smokey and the Bandit).
Jerry Wexler, Aug 15 (91) Truly a giant of R&B, rock & roll and pop, he produced or
co-produced, among many others, Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, LaVern
Baker, Ray Charles, Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Solomon Burke,
Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Dire Straits, Bob Dylan. See my
notes on his passing
Isaac Hayes, Aug 10 (65)
Wendo Kolosoy, Jul 28 (83) One of the great figures in Congolese music, his career spanned
60 years, yet he did not perform for decades, refusing to perform,
as musicians were expected to, in support of the dictator, Mobutu.
After Mobutu's overthrow, he again became a star and a national
hero. Here is
obituary from the UK Guardian.
This is the
trailer for a (French language) documentary on Kolosoy, On the
Ira B Tucker, Jun 24 (83).
Lead singer of the gospel group, Dixie Hummingbirds, who, ironically
are this year (2008) celebrating their 80th anniversary.
talking about the group, and
here is the
trailer for an upcoming documentary on the group.
Sonny Okosun, May 24 (61) Nigerian musician, freedom fighter and evangelist.
Here is an obituary from World Music Central; and
here is one of his classic songs, "Fire in Soweto"
Eddy Arnold, May 8, (89) Country star.
Here's a clip
of him doing his hit, "Make the World Go Away", introduced by Minnie
"Cachao" Lopez, Mar. 22
(89). Cuban bassist, called "the inventor of the mambo". Here's the
New York Times obituary, and
this is an
excerpt from the 2008 documentary, Cachao: Uno Más.
Jeff Healey, Mar. 2 (41).
Great Toronto blues and jazz musician and DJ died of the rare form
of cancer, retinoblastoma, that had blinded him as a child. Here's a
of him doing "Roadhouse Blues" live in Germany in 1989.
P. Bennett, Feb. 15 (56). A fixture on the Canadian folk
circuit, playing both solo and with Fred Eaglesmith. Few singers are
honoured by having another group named after one of their songs. (I
can think of the Rolling Stones, and...). Stephen Fearing, Colin
Linden and Tom Wilson formed Blackie and the Rodeo Kings in 1996,
naming themselves after
Willie P's song.
(Photo from Hugh's Room, Aug. 2005).
Freddie Bell, Feb 10, (76).
He and his group the Bellboys were among the early white musicians
to cover black R&B songs in the 1950's. His first record was a cover
of Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog", a version that was much toned
down from the original, with suitably altered lyrics. However, it
was their version that Elvis Presley heard while both acts were
playing Las Vegas in 1956, and his record was based on that. "Hound
Dog"'s co-writer Jerry Lieber said that Presley "always covered
songs the way he heard them first. He had rotten taste. Not that it
ever hurt him." You can hear Bell's version of "Hound Dog" on his
MySpace page. (For comparison,
1965 performance by Big Mama (with Buddy Guy), and
Elvis, live in Tupelo Mississippi in 1957).
John Stewart, Jan 19 (68).
Original member of the Kingston Trio, later a solo performer -- he
recorded over 45 solo albums, one of which, California Bloodlines
was named by Rolling Stone as one of the 200 best albums of
all time. His songs were recorded by a number of singers, the
biggest seller of which was the Monkees' "Daydream Believer". Here's
a video clip
of his very non-Kingston Trio, non-Monkees sounding 1979 hit "Gold",
backed by Fleetwood Mac.
Palacio, Jan 19, (47). One of the year's great losses. His 2007
album Wátina topped many lists of the best world music albums
of the year. After a lengthy performing career in Belize, that
recording suddenly made him a world star. His accomplishments
weren't just restricted to performing and recording, but his energy
and dedication to the Garifuna culture of Central America gained
international respect. In a
video interview from July 2007 done in San Francisco, He never
talks about himself, just about the Garifuna people and culture.
Interestingly, he notes that there is no word for "music" in
Garifuna... just "song", which is why he says "voice" is the most
I'm thankful that I saw him perform
once, in July 2007 at Harbourfront Centre -- one of the best shows
of that year (photo). See my
"Best of 2007"
page for more about Andy.