Can't Get It 

   Outta My Head

       

                 A Baby Boomer

 

                           Muses on The Music

2018: The Year in Passing, Part II

January 11, 2019

        We resume our recapitulation of the Makers of the Music who left the planet during 2018:

•        Mickey Jones, who died at 76 on Feb. 7, got his start as drummer for early-60s pop star Trini Lopez, then drummed for Johnny Rivers before being hired to replace Levon Helm as drummer for what would become the Band, performing on Dylan’s 1966 breakthrough rock world tour.

        Jones had switched to acting the following year, when he was invited to drum for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, playing with them until the band broke up in 1976. After that, he acted full-time, appearing in numerous movies and TV shows.

•        Dennis Edwards, who died at age 74 on Feb. 2, was lead singer for the monster Motown act the Temptations. In 1968, he replaced the group’s original frontman David Ruffin, and thus isn’t credited with being part of the “classic” lineup of the band.

        But Edwards did provide the lead vocals on some of the Temptations’ biggest hits, like “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and “Just My Imagination.” He was fired by the band — or perhaps by Motown kingpin Berry Gordy? — in 1977, though.

•        Yvonne Staples, who died in April at age 81, was the last of the children of Roebuck “Pops" and Oceola Staples to join the group founded by the family patriarch. She replaced her brother Pervis when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

        The Staple Singers influenced many musicians, among them Bob Dylan, and will be remembered for hits like “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take you There,” and the wonderful cover of the Band’s “The Weight” that they performed on the group’s Last Waltz farewell film. Yvonne and family were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

•        Roy Clark, who died Nov. 15 at the age of 85, was by no means a rocker. But he was one of the great country guitarists of the second half of the 20th Century, and at one time toured with rockabilly star Wanda Jackson. Most people, though, will remember him for his tenure on the TV country comedy-variety show Hee Haw.

•        Nor was Hugh Masekela a rock and roll guy. But the South African-born jazz trumpeter, who died Jan. 23 at 78 from prostate cancer, was instrumental — sorry — in a ’60s No. 1 that is still infectious, “Grazin’ in the Grass”; even thinking about that music now makes me smile.

        Called the “father of South African jazz,” he left his homeland because of the abuses of that country’s racist apartheid policies, studied music in the United Kingdom and New York City and played mostly in jazz ensembles. But he also recorded with the Byrds, and toured with Paul Simon to promote his Graceland album, which showcased South African music.

•        The rest of the roll call of the 2018 dead isn’t quite as notable, at least musically, and at least in my opinion. OK, 

Vinnie Paul Abbott — he checked out June 22 at age 54, — was a founding member of the heavy-metal band Pantera, and ranked No. 26 on somebody’s best drummers of all time list.

        I can’t recommend a song to listen to to sample his percussive technique, because I can’t name a Pantera song. Sorry …

•        Nor do I remember Schoolhouse Rock!, an ABC Saturday morning animated series that ran in the ’70s and ’80s. Bob Dorough, who died April 23 at age 94, was the songwriter and producer for much of the music that appeared thereon, and was also a bebop and jazz pianist, singer and composer who worked with Miles Davis and influenced Mose Allison, among others.

        Some of the other musicians we lost not only were outside my ken; the styles in which they worked — sludge metal?  — were unknown to me They included:

•        Pete Shelley (Dec. 6, age 63), founding member of the punk band the Buzzcocks. The Sex Pistols kept him from being the next Johnny Rotten …

•        Conway Savage (Sept. 2, 58), keyboards, backing vocals for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Didn’t even bother to find out what lane they were driving in …

•        Jill Janus (Aug. 14, 43), lead singer for heavy-metal band Huntress. (A suicide, perhaps because she thought too much about her PR photo; you can Google it.)

ª        Richard Swift (41, July 3), indie and alternate rock multi-instrumentalist and producer.

•        Scott Hutchison (36, died sometime in May; he had been missing since May 9), lead vocals and guitar for the U.K. indie folk/rock band Frightened Rabbit. (His departing text messages certainly sounded like a small, scared mammal.)

•        Caleb Scofield (39, March 28), bass, vocals with alternative metal band Cave In; also played in sludge metal groups. (See above.)

•        Mark Smith (Jan. 24, 60), lead singer for post-punk band the Fall. (As far as I knew, they fell without a sound.)

•        Dolores O'Riordan (46, Jan. 15), “lead singer of influential ’90s Irish grunge-rock group the Cranberries,” per Ranker. (Because American grunge rock was not enough.)

•        “Fast” Eddie Clarke (Jan. 10, 67, pneumonia), guitarist and member of the classic lineup of heavy-metal band Motörhead from 1976-82; also had his own band, Fastway. (Why is there a diacritical, or umlaut, or whatever, over the second “o”?)

•        Mikio Fujioka (Jan. 5, 36, injuries resulting from a fall), guitarist for Japanese pop-metal band BABYMETAL, which opened for acts like Guns N’ Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m assuming when those annoying ensembles performed in Japan …

•        It was a bad year for rap music — but, in my non-humble opinion, every year is a bad year for rap. And rap is bad for every year …

        Purveyors of this non-musical music who will no longer author aural offense to me included Jimmy Wapo, 21, and XXTentacion, 20, who both checked out June 18 — in drive-by shootings half a continent apart. (Is there a pattern here? For another one, see the next paragraph.)

        Then there was Mac Miller (Sept. 7, drug overdose); and Fredo Santana (Jan. 19, 27, complications from drug addiction). And Craig Mack (March 13, 46, heart failure), who was “famous” in the late ’90s and early 2000s, but later got religion.

        DJ and rapper Lovebug Starski (Feb. 8, 57), was credited with coining the term “hip-hop.” Which was perhaps a more lasting contribution than his musical oeuvre, which included “Gangster Rock.”

        However, whether I liked what you did or not, may you all rest in peace.

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