Showing posts with label Obituary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obituary. Show all posts

Monday, May 4, 2020

Dave Greenfield 1949-2020

Dave Greenfield of The Stranglers has died.
The Stranglers’ keyboard player Dave Greenfield has died at the age of 71 after testing positive for coronavirus.
Greenfield, originally from Brighton, died on the evening of May 3, and contracted the virus following a prolonged stay in hospital for heart problems.
A long-standing member of the influential punk outfit, Greenfield was known for his distinctive sound and playing style, using instruments such as the harpsichord and Hammond electric organ.
A wonderful slice of Dave's history and his impact on music:
Our keyboard player, Dave Greenfield, was a prog rocker, though. When I first met him he had platform boots on, his jacket had frills, and he had long hair and what we called a semi-pro moustache. He introduced me to In The Land Of Grey And Pink by Caravan. I did like that. I do remember the Yes singer [Jon Anderson] though. Is he still into elves?

RW: Jon has his own little world. When he doesn’t like what’s happening in the real one he retreats into his own one. He’s a big fan of yours, though, We were touring together last year, driving around in the same car, listening to all sorts of music. We played some Stranglers, and he said to me: “You know, there’s a few of their songs that Yes could have done”. He was right. Certainly something like Golden Brown.

JJ: I’ll tell you something about Golden Brown that I’ve never told anyone before. It actually developed out of a prog rock suite. We were recording the La Folie album, and Hugh [Cornwell] and I were pissed off because we seemed to be writing all the songs. So we said to Jet [Black, drummer] and Dave: “Right, you two are going to write a song. We’re off to the pub. Have it written when we get back”. We fucked off to the pub all afternoon. Now, with Dave being a prog rocker and Jet being a jazzer, when we got back they presented us with this six-part piece of music. And we were like: “Fucking hell, we can’t record this”. We went: “Don’t like that bit… don’t like that… oh, wait a minute, we could something with that”. And the part we did like formed the basis for Golden Brown.
Golden Brown:

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Matthew Seligman 1955-2020

Matthew Seligman has died:
Musician Matthew Seligman, best known for his tenure on bass for The Soft Boys, has died aged 64.
As well as playing on The Soft Boys’ 1980 masterpiece ‘Underwater Moonlight’, Seligman was briefly a member of 80s pop outfit The Thompson Twins, and played bass for David Bowie at Live Aid in 1985.
After The Soft Boys disbanded, Seligman would go on to play with the band’s frontman Robyn Hitchcock on his first two solo albums.
Outside of music, he practised as a human rights solicitor.

Seligman's work with The Soft Boys and Robyn Hitchcock is simply without peer. He was an incredible musician.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Neil Peart 1952-2020

What can you say about the death of Neil Peart?

He was an incredible drummer. He was as learned on his instrument as any musician, ever.

He was a gifted lyricist.

He was an original nerd, and helped nerds find a voice in a vicious world.

He was a writer of travel books, many of which are incisive and passionate about the world.

He was a man who lost one family, and made another.

He left behind a highly influential body of work that will be studied and remembered.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Roky Erickson 1947-2019

Roky Erickson passed away today, and most people will never understand his influence over popular culture nor will they recognize his name.

He suffered almost endlessly through one of the most tumultuous lives any musician has ever lived. There were times in the 1960s and onwards when he simply should not have been able to survive the troubles that he faced, whether we’re talking about health matters, psychiatric episodes, and battles with his own demons. The man’s teeth rotted out of his head, and he had to undergo weeks of therapy just to overcome the damage that it could have done to the rest of his body.

Erickson had become emancipated (for decades, he was in the care of his mother or his brother) and was living in Austin when he passed away. There is so much sadness to consider, so much joy in his music and so much creativity went to waste. When he should have been making albums and reaping the benefits of a creative life, he was sedated and mistreated by the legal system and ripped off, like so many others, by his management and his record label.

You can read this and this, and still not come away with any answers, just more questions. Why do we always fail the people who need the most help?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Ranking Roger 1963-2019

Ranking Roger was every bit the front man and fully in charge of everything when he was behind the microphone. I watched him perform in the 1990s, and he was so charismatic. There was no other voice like his. He was a major force in pop music, and I hope he gets the respect that he deserves.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Peter Tork 1942-2019

If you preferred the Monkees to the Beatles, who could blame you?

The reason why the Monkees were successful is because the Beatles started to become “difficult.” They went from straightforward pop songs to experimental psychedelia, and into that stepped the so-called “fake band” that was designed to milk an American audience that couldn’t get enough of the British Invasion.

I preferred the Monkees, of course, because I was exposed to them as something that was already finished. I grew up in the 70s, and we experienced The Monkees as a syndicated TV show. There was more of it to consume because of that. You could watch the shows and be entertained in a way that was more immediate. There wasn’t really the same thing for the Beatles, who were above syndicated TV. For everyone seeing them in prime time in the late 1960s, I guess they were something else. You could find their records in their shops, next to the ones everyone else was putting out. Why be snobbish about it? Plenty of people liked Herman’s Hermits more than the Beatles and the Stones. We have allowed the likes of Rolling Stone to change history on us. Pop music used to be fun. There didn’t have to be a hierarchy of things, a list of the best records of all time, a bullshit accounting of what was good and what should be ignored.

If you completely re-examine everything, and ignore what Jann Wenner incorporated has to say about the popular music of the 1960s, you come away with the belief that it’s okay to like what you like. The hell with whether it’s cool or not.

Well, the Monkees were real artists, real musicians, and really real, man. They were exactly that—the real deal, and they never got the credit they deserved for trying to make art at a time when selling out was frowned upon. They could have given the people what they wanted, but they refused. They became more difficult than the Beatles! But that’s okay.

Peter Tork was in the mix for all of it. His contributions were immense to the group’s success. But he was his own person and his own character. He wasn’t just some actor hired to be part of a rip-off TV show. He wrote songs, played a banjo in Greenwich Village, and lived the life of a Sixties musician.

This touching profile will tell you all you need to know. Peter was never the pain in the ass that Mike Nesmith became, and that’s okay. You can love the Monkees more than the Beatles and you can forgive them all for being “difficult” because that’s what art is. Art that isn’t difficult doesn’t last.

The Monkees? They have lasted.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Pete Shelley 1955-2018

No one did more to make people who were weird, queer, different, or creative welcome in the world of music than Pete Shelley. His death was announced yesterday, and I felt like something had been torn away too soon.

Shelley never stopped making music and he was able to play until the end. That’s what the promise of punk rock really way—never stop doing something new.

There are far too many songs, and far too many albums to count. I loved them when the reformed in the 90s and I thought Do It was one of the greatest comebacks ever, reminding me of how important it is to give people a chance to come back after they've gone away. They were more than the singles; the Buzzcocks were an album band and they were tremendous live. Shelley being out in front of them with Steve Diggle meant that you were going to have your skin peeled off dealing with what was coming at you.

I am sorry I never saw them in person. I have at least nine different live albums by them and they are all classics, all incredible and full of power.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mark E. Smith 1957-2018

Mark E. Smith is going to be impossible to properly eulogize. He was a figure very much of his own construction and design. It might have been a shambles all around him, but that's what made it all work.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dolores O'Riordan

This is very tragic and very sad:

LONDON — Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of Irish band The Cranberries, has died. She was 46.

Publicist Lindsey Holmes says O'Riordan died suddenly Monday in London, where she was recording. The cause of death wasn't immediately available.

Holmes says the singer's family is "devastated" by the news.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gord Downie 1964-2017

Gord Downie passed away, and it is a tragic loss for music and the arts. The Tragically Hip were never given the sort of audience they deserved in America; in Canada, they are mourning the loss of a man who was, for all intents and purposes, their own Tom Petty.

Downie and his band were the beating heart of Canadian music, but they should have been stars everywhere. That thin, almost universally ignored border running between the two places should not define them as artists.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grant Hart 1961 2017

Grant Hart's death comes as a shock to me because I did not know he was sick. I did not know he was suffering from a debilitating illness and I did not know that he was trying to get as much living in before he died. It is fitting that he went to be with the angels, launching himself without a care as to where he might land. 

He was brilliant.

He was tortured.

He was a home town hero, never leaving the people who loved him.

He will always be a mad hippie on the drums, barefoot and loose, a performer who helped kick the 1980s in the ass. It's hard to explain to people, but Minneapolis saved music, it really did.

If you want to know what saved music, look at the murderer's row of incredible bands that came out of the scene.

In the '80s, there was Prince, who was briefly the greatest of them all. He checked his crown, said Nah, and went on to be an interesting artist who cared nothing for popularity. Prince left the Earth like a space alien, forever entwined with David Bowie. Both were gone too soon.

Grant is gone too soon. 

There was the Replacements, the sad, drunken poets of chaos and confusion, and they're all with us, save Bob Stinson. They reunited for as long as they could, and that's probably the end of that. Did the ghosts of old punk rock clubs spook Westerberg in those shiny new theaters? What would a Husker Du reunion tour have looked like, with everyone in clean denim, buttoned-down shirts, and loafers, drinks on the tables and dinner cleared away for the start of the show? How can you have a mosh pit when everyone's waving a phone at the stage?

There was Soul Asylum, but Karl Mueller is gone now and it was his battle against cancer that reunited Grant with Bob Mould for a noble cause, helping a man cover the costs of his cancer treatment so that others wouldn't have to carry the burden. When someone was fighting, Grant picked up a guitar and did his part. You can say whatever you want about his relationship with Bob, but the only thing that could get them to play together again was a good cause full of integrity and support for a fellow musician. That's all the reunion we'll ever have. It is enough. Why be greedy? Husker Du left a lot of music. They have a catalog that most bands would kill for. 

You can extend all of that to the modern day. Minneapolis-St. Paul is an incubator of terrific bands, too numerous to mention.

We'll be getting Husker Du reissues, I would imagine, and this is where you will see only part of Grant's legacy. The music he made after leaving the band should not be ignored. They should reissue all of it, all the stuff he did. Marvelous things, marvelous art, too.

The acrimony of Husker Du's split should be forgotten. I refuse to condemn Hart, Mould or Greg Norton because I Wasn't There. I've heard different accounts, but it's all water under the bridge. You can love someone and still be angry at them, disappointed in them, and feel like everything is over. You can love someone and still be proud of what you accomplished and not want to every do anything with that person again. This was not the first band to break up because of--choose your reason. It doesn't matter. Celebrate the catalog. Celebrate what you can hold in your hands and hear and look at. It was a marvel unto itself. There is a wealth of material in the pipeline. When they get it all out there, you'll forget who said what and why that happened and we'll get past the hurt and the sorrow. Turn that shit up, son, and let the walls shake.

You used to hear gossip about things like drugs and homosexuality and this was supposed to "scare" you off liking them. Fuck that shit. The things they had to go through is what has always bothered me. Reading Mould's book about the extraneous bullshit associated with Hart and Mould having to keep their lifestyle a secret is a crime against common sense. If you can't like someone's music because they may or may not be gay, what does that say about your empty soul? You're hung up sartorial choices, on long hair, a buzzcut, floppy ears, ratty jeans, tight t-shirts, parachute pants, and whatever else? Really? 

To have that be the thing that derails you is sad, it really is. It says you're carrying around something horrible. Get rid of it. Get it out of you. Free yourself from these things. Grant was a man who lived his life for art. His special talent was letting pain inform beauty as to where it could go. He exorcised demons because they were with him, always. 

You know, a guy who has lived in the shadows probably has an amazing take on what it's like to be in the light of day. A wonderful, fucked-up romantic who knew what he was found a way to turn it all loose and come up great tunes, great imagery, and transmit amazing ideas. That was the music scene in Minneapolis. This is the world, this is what we sound like, hang on, fuckers. When Midnight Oil used to play, they had to drive long nails into the gear to keep it from flying into the air. When Husker Du used to play, nails were never enough. That shit could not be contained. 

Turn the lights out and listen to Admiral of the Sea (79 AD Version). If you're not spooked, play it again. 

Grant has left his burdens on Earth, and gone off somewhere else. He leaves behind family and friends and a catalog of songs that should have rightfully given him the sort of comfortable life you want your favorite artiste to have. The music business has always been cruel. God bless the punks, for they made it better with their integrity.

In the world of punk and independent rock, there are scores of great songwriters still with us who are living with the meager remnants of whatever came of their works. It's one of the great crimes of the modern era--the people who made a terrible time bearable are living their lives as best they can and their genius was never translated into comfortable situations or the respect they earned. Punks were never in it for the cash. But punks deserved better than what they got.

How many half-starved, neglected, broken teenagers got through the Reagan years because of Grant and Bob's songs? How many people survived it and can now remember with crystal clear clarity what Husker Du stood for and are at a loss for words?  I'm flailing around, making nervous edits. I have nothing but good memories of tremendous songs. Nothing seems right anymore. 

Grant Hart was approachable. I asked him for his autograph while I was in the Garage D'or record store in South Minneapolis in March of 1989. Grant was animated, and talked about having the French musket commands for ready, aim, fire embedded in a song he was recording across the street. He indulged me, he signed this thing I handed him, and he went about his day, an artist and a creator.

His songs mean more with every passing day. If you're going to read anything, you have to go to the hometown newspaper, the Star-Tribune. I'm out of things to say. It's all too much, it's all too sad. Goddamn.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rick Parfitt 1948-2016

If we were going to go back to last Christmas Eve, and wonder about how 2016 was going to go, I would have said "same as any other year." That would have been wrong. What an awful, awful year this has been. I cannot imagine how 2017 will look, but if it's anything like '16, we're in for a hell of a ride.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie 1947-2015

The New York Times:

“Under Pressure,” a collaboration with the glam-rock group Queen, supplied a bass line for the 1990 Vanilla Ice hit “Ice Ice Baby.”

Proof that the fundamental grasp of important culture has slipped away from whoever edits the Times these days. Jeebus.

How many Bowie obituaries are referencing Vanilla Ice today?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ian Fraser Kilmister 1945-2015

Lemmy got his start in the music business specifically because he saw the Beatles at the Cavern Club. I just found that to be hilarious and historical, all in one fell swoop.

And Hawkwind was a criminally neglected band in this country. Can't forget that, either.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christopher Lee, Heavy Metal God

His love for metal arrived late, but enveloped his final years, and now, as tributes to the star tumble in, seems to speak volumes about his badass spirit. It was 2005 when Italian troop Rhapsody enlisted him to narrate their batshit crazy single 'Magic of the Wizard's Dream' - his greatest music moment since appearing on the sleeve to Wings' 'Band On The Run' record in 1973 (he'd also sung on a bunch of film soundtracks and released a largely overlooked 1998 blues album called 'Devils, Rogues & Other Villains'). "My dream when I was young, was to be an opera singer," he explained in 2010. Finding the same outlandishness and grandeur among the blistering 100mph guitar histrionics of symphonic metal, he explained: "Now I have been able to do it and in a style which was unknown to me until very recently." Three albums followed. Where you and me, reader, will probably spend our 90th birthdays eating Werther's Originals in nursing homes in front of terrible TV if we're lucky, Christopher Lee celebrated his by announcing 'Charlemagne: The Omens of Death' - a punishingly high octane concept heavy metal album featuring members of Judas Priest that charted an ancient Roman blood line and, on the cover, found Lee dressed up like a medieval king standing in a sea of lava waving a fuck-off sword about.

I would be shocked if there aren't unreleased tracks out there of Lee turning it inside out with a Dimebag Darrell guitar.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ian Paisley 1926-2014

Ian Paisley was proof that there are other countries divided by fanatics and snowball throwers. His death leaves a hole in the politics of Northern Ireland which will have to be filled somehow.

Loyalist paramilitaries became increasingly hostile towards Paisley, particularly over his various "stunts" such as the establishment of a so-called third force in 1981 and later the establishment of the quasi-paramilitary Ulster Resistance four years later.

As well as leading the DUP in Westminster, Paisley got elected to the European parliament in 1979. He caused outrage among fellow MEPs when he interrupted an address by the late Pope John Paul II in Strasbourg in 1988.

Paisley also caused the normally mild-mannered John Major to lose his temper. In a TV documentary on the peace process Major recalled that he asked Paisley to leave Downing Street after the DUP leader continually accused the then prime minister of lying over secret talks between the IRA and the government.

From the IRA ceasefire of 1994 to the Good Friday agreement four years later, Paisley opposed any moves to bring Sinn Féin in from the cold as a way of ending violence. In that period Paisley depicted his unionist rival David Trimble as a traitor and a sell-out over the Ulster Unionist leader's willingness to enter government with Sinn Féin.

Eight years after the 1998 Good Friday accord however Paisley followed Trimble down the same path and agreed to set up a new power-sharing coalition that included his one-time mortal enemies. Asked why he had finally done the deal with his old foes, Paisley explained that the time was now right, now that he was on top and the number one force in unionism.

Anyway, the Irish can sort this all out. Once Scotland cuts the umbilical cord, I have a feeling Northern Ireland can finally do the same. That will be easier now with Paisley gone.

One of the last "respectable" terrorists of our age goes on his way, straight to hell, without a return trip.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rik Mayall 1958-2014

British comedian and actor Rik Mayall has died aged 56.

He played the obnoxious, poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones alongside his friend Adrian Edmondson. The duo later went on to star in the sitcom Bottom.
A pioneer of the 1980s alternative comedy scene, Mayall also appeared in Blackadder and The New Statesman.

His manager Roger Davidson said: "It is a terrible shock. All we know at this stage is that Rik died at home. 

"He touched many lives, and always for the better." 

Edmondson added: "There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. 

They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. 

"And now he's died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard."