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                           Muses on The Music

2017’s Musical Passages, Part II

February 2, 2018

       (Resuming last week’s review of Makers of The Music who passed away during 2017.)

       We lost some of the voices that provided us with memorable vocals in the early years of rock, pop and soul: Ronald “Bingo” Mundy, best known for his work with the doo-wop group the Marcels and their No. 1 hit “Blue Moon,” died Jan. 20 at age 76; Mitch Margo, a founding member of the Tokens, another doo-wop group with a No. 1, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” died at age 70 on Nov. 24; Warren “Pete” Moore, an original member of the Miracles, died Nov. 19, at 78; 72-year-old Robert Knight, who passed on Nov. 6, in the early ’60s was a member of the Paramounts, but was best known for his solo effort, the 1967 hit “Everlasting Love.”

        Other notable musical deaths: 

        Maggie Roche, who with her sister, Terre, sang backing vocals on Paul Simon’s hit 1973 album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Jan. 21, age 65.

        (It was a tough year for musicians involved in Simon’s projects; Ray Phiri, the South African jazz guitarist who performed on the Graceland tour, died July 12 at age 70.)

        Joni Sledge, the second eldest sibling in Sister Sledge, March 10, age 60.

        Clem Curtis, original lead singer for the Foundations (“Baby Now That I’ve Found You”), March 27, age 76.

        David Peel, New York street singer and political activist known for his songs about marijuana and John Lennon, April 6, age 73.

        Bruce Langhorne, session guitarist who worked with Bob Dylan and inspired his “Mr. Tambourine Man,” April 14, age 78.

        Allan Holdsworth, considered one of the most technically-gifted guitarists of the ’70s, played with Soft Machine, Gong and U.K. and influenced the likes of Carlos Santana, Frank Zappa, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, Tom Morello, Peter Frampton, Satriani and Eddie Van Halen, April 15, age 70,

        Cuba Gooding Sr., lead singer for the ’70s soul group the Main Ingredient, April 20, age 72.

        Kerry Turman, bassist for the Temptations since the 1980s, April 23, age 59.

        Michael Johnson, who had a string of pop and country hits in the ’70s and ’80s, including “Bluer Than Blue,” July 25, age 72.

        Charles Bradley, James Brown impersonator and the “Screaming Eagle of Soul,” Sep. 23. age 68.

        Howard Carroll, lead guitarist for the influential gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds, Oct. 17, age 92.

        Johnny Hallyday, the “French Elvis,” Dec. 6, age 74.

        A number of non-musicians who contributed to The Music passed away last year as well:

        Marilyn Petrone, who died last January at age 82, was a music executive at both Dick Clark Productions and United Artists Music Group, and worked with artists like Ike and Tina Turner, War, ELO, Shirley Bassey, Bobby Womack, Kenny Rogers, Paul Anka and Johnny Rivers.

        David Axelrod, who passed away Feb. 5 at the age of 83, was a composer, arranger and producer who produced his first album in 1959 and went on to become a pioneer in combining jazz, rock and R&B, and recorded more than a dozen of his own albums. 

        Ilene Berns, who died Feb. 20 at age 73, took charge of Bang Records at age 24 in 1968, after the death of her husband; artists recording on the label included Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, the McCoys, the Strangeloves, Freddie Scott and Erma Franklin

        Tom Coyne, Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer who scored his first hit with Kool and the Gang, April 12, age 62.

        Nigel Grainge, who died June 11 at age 70, founded Ensign Records in the 1970s, signing and developing the likes of Sinead O’Connor, the Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzy, the Waterboys and 10cc.

        Mike Hennessey, longtime editor of Billboard magazine, died Aug. 16 at the age of 89.

        Harry Sandler, who died Sept. 2 at age 73, was a tour manager who worked withJohn Mellencamp, Eagles, Katy Perry, Billy Joel, Jewel, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Nicks. He also worked for Bill Graham at the Fillmore East.

        Harold Pendleton, who died Oct. 17 at age 93, was the founder of the Marquee Club, where the Who, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones made their London debuts.

        Influential on The Music in different ways were Red West,who died July 18 at age 81, and 90-year-old Gustav Metzger, who passed away March 1. The former was a boyhood friend of Elvis who was his driver and bodyguard, and wrote several of his songs. The latter’s concept of “auto-destructive art” inspired Pete Townshend of the Who to smash his guitars.

        There were a number of other musicians who passed away last year, whose work wasn’t in the wheelhouse of this blog, as well as other music industry figures. To all who departed during 2017, thanks for your contributions, and rest in peace.

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