'What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others'. Pericles (495 - 429 b.c.)
b. Vaughan Mason, 1951, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
d. 2nd April 2020, New York, U.S.A.
The Singer and songwriter, Vaughn Mason, has died. Vaughn was 69.
He was a victim of the Covid-19 virus.
Vaughan dropped out of Howard University in 1972 after his father died.
He spent his early years growing up in a Jewish and Italian neighbourhood in Yonkers, New York, and was a huge Beatles fan.
He relocated from Chicago to New York, and became an audio engineer, working with the group, B.T. Express.
Vaughan recorded the roller disco song, ‘Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll’ in 1980.
The song was recorded with his group, Vaughan Mason & Crew, at a time when the roller disco culture was at it’s peak in the United States at the time.
The song would go on to be sampled by artists as diverse as De La Soul and Daft Punk and led to him performing with Prince and Rick James..
In 1981, Vaughan went on to release the song, ‘Jammin’ Big Guitar’, which reached number 65 on the Billboard charts.
He went on to record two charting R&B singles for Salsoul Records with Butch Dayo.
These included ‘You Can Do It’ (in 1982) and ‘Party on the Corner (in 1983).
Vaughan started another group called Raze, who had a Top 24 R&B Columbia single with the dancer ‘Break 4 Love’, in 1988.
More recently, Vaughan had been working at Dream 1st Studios in Baltimore.
b.William Harrison 'Bill' Withers, Jr., 4th July 1938, Slab Fork, West Virginia, U.S.A.
d. 30th March 2020, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
The singer and songwriter, Bill Withers has died. Bill was 81.
He passed away from heart complications.
b. John Phillip Baptiste, 14th March 1926, Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S.A.
d. 14th March 2020, U.S.A.
The American musician, singer and deejay, Philip ‘Phil Phillips’ Baptiste, has died (news provided by his family). Phil was 94.
Phil will be best remembered for recording and writing his hit tune ‘Sea of Love’ b/w ‘Juella’ for the Mercury imprint in 1959.
Phil Phillips began singing at the age of eight.
He formed a gospel music group with his brothers called The Gateway Quartet.
Phil also sang solos at his local church.
He was also briefly enrolled at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, but later returned to Lake Charles, Louisiana where he worked as a bellhop at the Chateau Charles Hotel.
He later organized a group to sing backup which he named The Twilights.
Phil had also made a demo of his Verdie Mae/“Sea of Love” song.
‘Sea of Love’ went to No. 2 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart and spent 14 weeks in the top 40, as well as reaching No. 1 on the R&B chart.
In 1959, it sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
In the U.K., Marty Wilde covered the song, and Phil’s version failed to chart there.
The song has been covered by a number of artists since then, most notably by The Honeydrippers, whose version (from their album ‘Volume One’) reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 1 on the adult contemporary chart in 1984.
Tom Waits gave the song a different reading for the soundtrack to the 1989 Harold Becker film ‘Sea of Love’ starring Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin.
Tom included it on his 2006 collection ‘Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards’.
‘Sea of Love’ had made the Top 40 just one other time, when Del Shannon took it to number 33 in 1981.
It was the only top 40 chart song for the singer, who never recorded another hit.
Phil was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
One of his last live performances was in April 2005 at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Phil is survived by his wife, Bell, of 60 years, his seven children and grandchildren.
b. Harrison Hoaney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. March 2020, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Harrison Hoaney was born in Philadelphia, and spent his early years in the District of Columbia.
Skip passed away in March 2020.
He became the group leader of Skip Mahoney & The Casuals for nearly 50 years.
The group formed as The Casuals in the late Sixties.
The group enlisted George Norris, Roger Chapman and Billy Jones.
In the Seventies, Skip Mahoney & The Casuals recorded on several small imprints.
Their releases included ‘Wherever You Go’ and ‘Your Funny Moods’, amongst others.
The group them disbanded, however, they later reformed in the Nineties.
They released the album ‘Now, Then & Forever’, a combination of the group's early recordings.
Skip Mahoney & The Casuals continued on the live circuit into the new millennium.
b. Francis P. Flynn, 26th February 1941, The Meadows, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 14th March 2020, University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Francis P. Flynn, age 79 a lifelong resident of ‘The Meadows’ section of Southwest Philadelphia, passed peacefully Saturday, the 14th March 2020 at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.
Francis was born, raised, and raised his own children in the same house in ‘The Meadows’.
He was a graduate of John Bartram High School where he was a classmate of Patti LaBelle.
Francis was a bass singer in the R&B soul group Sons of Robin Stone, whose hits included ‘Got to Get You Back’, ‘Love is Just Around the Corner’, and ‘I Need it Bad’.
The band performed with many groups over the years, including: The Trammps, The Temptations, Teddy Pendergrass and other groups of the ‘Philly Sound’ in the 1970’s.
Due to the federal and state restrictions on public gatherings because of the COVID 19 Virus, The Marvil Funeral Home will be live streaming the Funeral of Francis Flynn for those not able to attend the funeral.
b. Emmanuel N'Djoké Dibango, 12th December 1933, Douala, Cameroon, Africa.
d. 24th March 2020, Paris, France.
Manu DiBango, the Cameroonian musician, probably best remembered for his dance classics ‘Big Blow’ and ’Soul Makossa’, has died. Manu was 86.
He passed away in a Paris hospital after contracting the illness, Covid-19.
Manu was originally trained in classical piano in the Fifties in Brussels and Paris.
In the early Sixties, he was part of the African Jazz group Le Grand Kalle!
After living in Cameroon and Paris during the late Sixties, his international breakthrough came in 1972 with ‘Soul Makossa, which was originally written for the 1972 African Cup of Nations football tournament.
The line ‘mama-say, mama-sa, ma-makossa’ from Michael Jackson’s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ was lifted from Dibango’s chorus on Soul Makossa.
The artist, Angelique Kidjo, said on Twitter: “You’re the original Giant of African Music and a beautiful human being.”
b. Alfred McCoy Tyner, 11th December 1938, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 6th March 2020, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner has died.
McCoy was one of John Coltrane’s 1960’s quartet and one of the most influential pianists in jazz history.
He died on Friday the 6th of March at his home in northern New Jersey.
He was 81.
His nephew Colby Tyner confirmed McCoy's passing.
b. Barbara Diane Martin, 1st June 1943, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
d. 4th March 2020, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
One of the original singers with the Supremes, Barbara Martin, has died. Barbara was 76.
The Supremes were, originally, known as the Primettes, and when Betty McGlown left the group, Barbara was recruited in 1960.
Barbara, along with Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, were signed to Motown in 1961.
They left the The Primettes name behind, and became the Supremes.
The group released some lesser known group singles, and the four women worked as studio backing singers and a vocal rhythm section.
In late 1961, Barbara became pregnant and left the group in early 1962.
The Supremes continued as a trio.
Barbara sang on many of the group's early singles, along with most of the tracks on the group's first album, ‘Meet The Supremes’, however, she was, by and largely, uncredited.
She refused to talk about her career at Motown, until 2009, when ‘Meet the Supremes: Expanded Edition’ was re-released.
b. Billie Barrett, 28th August 1928, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
d. 28th February 2020, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
One of the members of the Gospel group, the Barrett sisters, has died.
Billie Barrett-GreenBey passed away on the 28th of February 2020. She was 91.
The Barrett Sisters are an American gospel trio from Chicago, Illinois.
The members consisted of sisters DeLois Barrett Campbell, Billie Barrett GreenBey and Rodessa Barrett Porter.
They have been singing together for more than 40 years.
The Barrett Sisters once performed with Curtis Mayfield in support of Harold Washington in his bid to become Chicago’s first African American mayor.
DeLois Barrett Campbell passed away in 2011.
Rodessa is the last living sister.
earl richard johnson jnr.
b. Earl Richard Johnson Jr., 2nd May 1968, York, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 3rd February 2020, Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
The keyboardist, singer and songwriter, Earl Richard Johnson Jr., has died. He was 51.
Earl passed away on the 3rd of February 2020 at the Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, from complications of heart bypass surgery.
During his career, Earl had collaborated and toured with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin, Chaka Khan, Gerald Albright, Gladys Knight, Beyoncé, Chante Moore, Kenny Lattimore, Jeffrey Osborne, R. Kelly, The Sounds of Blackness, and Wynton Marsalis.
Born in York in 1968, he was a 1986 graduate of William Penn Senior High School. He attended Penn State University from 1986 to 1988 and played for the football team.
In 1988, he transferred to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and graduated in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in songwriting for the big screen.
He went on to tour with Brian McKnight and Walter Beasley, playing keyboard and singing backgrounds.
Earl penned several scores for films and television projects and performed at the 80th birthday celebration for Nelson Mandela.
He also performed for President Barack Obama's campaign team, who invited him to play solo piano at a fundraising event for the president.
Earl released his debut CD entitled, ‘Juicy’, in 2009.
lyle with pat metheny
b. Lyle David Mays, 27th November 1953, Wausaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
d. 10th February 2020, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
The jazz pianist and composer, Lyle Mays, has died. Lyle was 66.
Reports stated that he had died following a battle with a ‘recurring illness’.
Lyle will, probably, be best remembered as a member of the, Grammy award winning, Pat Metheny Group.
As a youngster, he became interested in chess, mathematics, architecture, and music.
Lyle began to play the instrument in church and he began to take an interest in Jazz Music.
Graduating from the University of North Texas, he composed and arranged for the One O'Clock Lab Band.
He left Texas, and toured with Woody Herman's group meeting Pat Metheny with whom he later founded the Pat Metheny Group.
Lyle provided the arrangements, orchestration, and the harmonic section for the group.
He played trumpet on the songs from the album ‘First Circle’ (in 1984) and composed and recorded music for some children's records.
Lyle also co-composed the instrumental ‘Are You Going With Me’ from the group’s ‘Offramp’ album in 1982 and ‘Letter From Home’ in 1989.
Besides his Jazz performances, he composed classical music including ‘Twelve Days in the Shadow of a Miracle’, (a piece for harp, flute, viola, and synthesizer).
b. Thomassina Carrollyne Smith, The Bronx, New York, U.S.A.
d. 28th January 2020, U.S.A.
The musician, singer and songwriter, Tonni Smith, has died. Information regarding Tonni's passing is unknown at this moment.
Tonni came to fame as the vocalist on the Tom Browne evergreen 'Funkin' For Jamaica'. Tonni co-wrote the song with Tom.
Check out her page, at the site, below:
"I would not, normally, post information regarding a non-musical artist here, however, I am making an exception in this case. During their lives, some people become much more than the sum of their parts, and rise above their chosen professions. They, simply, occupy a better place in society.
I would wish to extend my deepest sympathies to Kobe’s family. A truly awful time."
To: Vanessa Laine Bryant, Natalia Diamante Bryant, Bianka Bella Bryant and Capri Kobe Bryant
b. Kobe Bean Bryant, 23rd August 1978, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 26th January 2020, Calabasas, California, U.S.A.
Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant
b. Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, 1st May 2006, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
d. 26th January 2020, Calabasas, California, U.S.A.
ronnie james (late addition)
b. Ronald J. DiStasio, Wednesday 1st December 1943, Philadelphia, Pennsyvania, U.S.A.
d. Friday 29th November 2019, Mantua, New Jersey, U.S.A.
The musician, song writer and producer, Ronald J. DiStasio (‘a.k.a. Ronnie James’) of the Salsoul Orchestra, has died. He was 75.
Ronald was born in Philadelphia and lived in Oak Valley.
He was the guitar player for Louie Prima in the Seventies, a studio musician who played on numerous hits in the 70s and 80s.
Ronnie joined the 'The Salsoul Orchestra', and penned the song 'Run Away’ (later recorded by Nuyorican Soul).
He released one single on the Philadelphia International label, ‘Wonder Girl’ b/w ‘I Must Have Done It Right’, in 1979.
Ronie was also the founder of 'The Jez Hot Swing Club' and Pedicin-James Ltd.
Ronald is survived by his wife Lanora; 3 children, Ronald J. DiStasio Jr. (Helen), Rachelle Niroda (Michael) and Christopher DiStasio (Kim); 8 grandchildren, Nicholaus, Michael, Matthew, Tina, Amanda, Joseph, Nicholas, and Gianna; many great grandchildren, and sister, Denise Keown (Thomas).
b. Robert Parker, 14th October 1930, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
d. 19th January 2020, Roseland, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
The singer-songwriter, Robert Parker, has died. He was 89.
His nephew said that he died on the Sunday the 19th of January from natural causes at his home in Roseland.
Robert had stopped performing in recent years (and retired to Tangipahoa Parish), where he was living at the time of his death.
He scored a national hit with his 1966 song ‘Barefootin’ b/w ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where the Action Is.)’.
In his earlier career, he played saxophone on Professor Longhair’s 1949 classic ‘Mardi Gras in New Orleans’.
He also played on Al Johnson’s ‘Carnival Time’ along with songs by Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe, Frankie Ford and Huey ‘Piano’ Smith.
Robert is survived by his wife, Carolyn, several children and grandchildren.
b. James Edward Heath, 25th October 1926, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 19th January 2020, Loganville, Georgia, U.S.A.
The jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger and big band leader, Jimmy Heath, has died. Jimmy was 93.
He performed at part of the group, the Heath Brothers, and was the brother of bassist Percy Heath and drummer Albert Heath.
The Heath Brothers are best remembered (by Soul fans), for their 1980 and 1981 singles ‘For The Public’ and ‘Dreamin’.
Jimmy originally played alto saxophone, earning the nickname ‘Little Bird’ (after Charlie Parker).
His early groups featured the likes of John Coltrane, Benny Golson and Ray Bryant.
He briefly joined Miles Davis's group in 1959, and worked with Milt Jackson and Art Farmer later on.
In the late 1980s, he became a professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in the City University of New York.
Jimmy was also the father of the R&B songwriter/musician James Mtume.
b. Ermastine Lewis, 29th April 1946, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
d. 2nd January 2020, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Singer, Songwriter & Producer, Lorraine Chandler, has died. Lorraine was 73.
Lorraine attended Northern High School in Detroit.
For a short while, Lorraine was in a group called the Ebonies, whose line-up featured Lorraine Chandler, Emma Nebbins and Effie Ellington.
She began writing songs with Jack Ashford.
She was signed to Jacks’s Pied Piper Productions as a songwriter and performer.
As a solo artist, she released ‘What Can I Do’ b/w ‘Tell Me You're Mine’ in 1966, ‘I Can't Hold On’ b/w ‘She Don't Want You’ in 1966, ‘Oh How I Need Your Love’ b/w ‘I Can't Change’ in 1967, ‘Love You Baby’ b/w ‘What Can I Do’ in 1975 and ‘I Can't Change’ b/w ‘What Can I Do’ in 1976, amongst others.
Many of her songs were released on the Giant, Pied Piper, Ashford, Outta Sight, RCA and Kapp labels.
When Jack relocated to Los Angeles in 1976, Lorraine remained in Detroit.
In the Eighties, Ace Records, Ady Croasdell, released a demo recording of a possible theme for the James Bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice’.
Later, Lorraine went on to perform in Detroit and in the U.K.
...those who left us in 2019...