'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. Yvonne Staples, 23rd October 1936, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
d. 10th April 2018, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
The baritone, Gospel, R&B and soul singer, Yvonne Staples, has died. She was 80.
Yvonne recorded and performed with her family's band The Staple Singers, and is the daughter of Pops Staples, and sister of Cleotha Staples, Mavis Staples and Pervis Staples.
She passed away at her home this week, according to the newspaper, the Chicago-Sun Times.
With Mavis, Cleotha and her father Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples, the family group performed in churches across Chicago before making records in 1953.
Between 1971 to 1975, the Staples Singers achieved several Top 40 hits.
Yvonne's sister, Cleotha, the oldest of the Staples siblings, died in 2013 after a 12-year battle with Alzheimer’s, whilst Pops Staples died in December 2000.
The surviving sibling, Mavis, is due to perform at the Love Supreme concert in Glynde during July this year.
b. Cecil Percival Taylor, 25th March 1929, New York City, U.S.A.
d. 5th April 2018, U.S.A.
The pianist and performer of ‘free jazz’, Cecil Taylor, has died. Cecil was 89.
From New York City, Cecil attended the New York College of Music and New England Conservatory.
In 1955, he formed a quartet with soprano saxophonist, Steve Lacy, the bassist Buell Neidlinger, and drummer Dennis Charles.
Cecil’s Quartet appeared at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival which went on to comprise the album ‘At Newport’.
He worked with John Coltrane, in 1958, on the album ‘Stereo Drive’.
In 1959 he released the album ‘Looking Ahead!’, and in 1961, Cecil collaborated with alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons.
During the late sixties, Cecil began performing solo shows.
He performed for then President Jimmy Carter on the White House Lawn, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973.
In the new millennium, he performed with the Cecil Taylor Ensemble and the Cecil Taylor Big Band.
b. Ronald Dunbar, 1939, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
4th April 2018, U.S.A.
The record producer and songwriter, Ron Dunbar, has died, Ron was 79.
During the late Sixties, Ron worked with the Holland, Dozier, Holland songwriting team, co-penning many big hits of that era, including ‘Patches’, ‘Everything’s Tuesday’, ‘Band Of Gold’, ‘Give Me Just A Little More Time’ for the Invictus imprint.
Hailing from Detroit, Ron was employed by the Motown imprint during the late Fifties onwards.
With Holland, Dozier, Holland, Ron was utilised as an uncredited songwriter, following various financial issues, however, this did not stop him moving with the HDH team on to their Invictus and Hot Wax imprints after their departure from Motown.
When the Hot Wax and Invictus labels folded in the Seventies, Ron moved on to George Clinton's Uncle Jam Records as an A&R Director in 1978.
Ron worked with George until 1980, when he decided to become an independent producer.
Since 1998 he has worked for the Holland Group Productions company in Los Angeles.
b. Edward Robert Amoo, 5th May 1944, Liverpool, England.
d. 23rd February 2018, Australia.
The singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer with the group The Real Thing, Eddie Amoo, has died. Eddie was 74.
He passed away, suddenly, in Australia.
The Real Thing were four working class boys, born to Ghanaian parents.
From Toxteth, the group wrote and performed their own songs and became Britain’s biggest-selling Black pop act ever.
The group had been touring as a three-piece for many years.
b. Barbara Ann Alston, 28th September 1943, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
d. 18th February 2018, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A.
The singer, Barbara Alston, has died. Barbara was 74.
Barbara passed away on the 16th of February after contracting flu, her daughter said.
The Crystals singer recorded hits including ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ and ‘Then He Kissed Me’.
The group, along with The Ronettes, were amongst the girl groups of the 1960s who were part of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound.
Barbara sang lead vocals on the group’s first three singles, including the US top 20 hit ‘There's No Other Like My Baby’.
The Crystals were originally a quintet consisting of Barbara, Dee Dee Kennibrew, Mary Thomas, Patricia Wright and La La Brooks.
They all grew up singing in their local church.
b. Kevin Smith, 16th May 1960, The Bronx, New York, U.S.A.
d. 8th February 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
The MC and musician, Lovebug Starski, has died He was 57.
Born Kevin Smith, he passed away from a heart attack in Las Vegas on the 8th of February 2018, according to several sources.
Better known as Lovebug Starski, he was considered one of the first of the Hip Hop style rappers.
Starski recorded his first single, ‘Positive Life’, on the Tayster record label in 1981.
His best known single, ‘Amityville (The House on the Hill)’, was a parody song named in reference to the film The Amityville Horror.
The song was a number 12 hit on the U.K. Singles Chart in 1986.
In the 1990’s, Starski began DJing again with his friend DJ Hollywood.
Kevin has three daughters.
leon 'ndugu' chancler
b. Leon Chancler, 1st July 1952, Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.A.
d. 3rd February 2018, California, U.S.A.
The Soul, Funk and Jazz drummer, percussionist, songwriter and producer, Leon ’Ndgugu’ Chancler, has died. Leon was 65.
He passed away from prostate cancer, which he had battled with since 2003.
He was a hugely sought after performer, as a studio percussionist in the music industry, collaborating with the likes of George Duke, Santana, Patrice Rushen, Hubert Laws, The Crusaders, Frank Sinatra, Weather Report, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Thelonious Monk and John Lee Hooker amongst others.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and began playing drums when he was a youngster (becoming interested in the instrument at the age of 6).
In high school, he played with Willie Bobo and the Harold Johnson Sextet , whilst playing in locals groups including 'The Jazz Prophets' and 'The United Groove'.
He graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in music education.
At that time he had already performed with the likes of the Gerald Wilson Big Band, Freddie Hubbard, Hugh Masekela, Herbie Hancock, and recorded with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Minnie Riperton, Bill Summers and Bobby Hutcherson.
In 1972, Leon joined the George Duke Band.
Between 1974 and 1976, he toured with Santana.
In 1978, he left the George Duke Band to record with his own band The Chocolate Jam Co.
Leon later played on Michael Jackson’s evergreen dancer, ‘Thriller’ in 1982.
In 2006 he became an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California.
b. Dennis Wayne Edwards Jnr., 3rd February 1943, Fairfield, Alabama, U.S.A.
d. 1st February 2018, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
The former lead singer of the group The Temptations, Dennis Edwards, has died. Dennis was 74.
Dennis had recently been battling with meningitis and pneumonia.
He passed away in a Chicago hospital on the 1st of February, two days before his 75th birthday.
Dennis had suffered a stroke.
In the Seventies, Dennis was briefly married to Ruth Pointer.
The couple had one daughter, Issa Pointer, who became a member of her mother's vocal group, The Pointer Sisters.
b. Hugh Ramopolo Masekela, 4th April 1939, Witbank, South Africa.
d. 23rd January 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The trumpet player and singer, Hugh Masekela, has died Hugh was 78.
He passed away in Johannesburg from prostate cancer
b. Edwin Reuben Hawkins, 19th August 1943, Oakland, California, U.S.A.
d. 15th January 2018, Pleasanton, California, U.S.A.
The Gospel musician, Edwin Hawkins has died. Edwin was 74.
He passed away from pancreatic cancer in Pleasanton, California.
Edwin Hawkins Singers were most fondly remembered for the Edwin Hawkins penned, 1969 spiritual song, ‘Oh Happy Day’.
Born in Oakland, California in 1943, Edwin performed in his local choir as a child.
Edwin and Betty Watson founded the Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ.
The choir recorded their debut album ‘Let Us Go into the House of the Lord at the Ephesian Church of God in Christ’ in Berkeley, California.
‘Oh Happy Day’ was a featured song on the album.
Local radio stations began playing ‘Oh Happy Day’ as a stand-alone melody.
Featuring Dorothy Combs Morrison, the single released went on to sell over a million copies.
In 1969, ’Oh Happy Day’ reached No.4 on the U.S. charts, and No.2 on the U.K. charts.
Edwin was awarded his first Grammy for the song.
‘Oh Happy Day’ was followed by the 1970 Melanie with The Edwin Hawkins Singers single ‘Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)’.
The single reached No. 6 in the U.S. charts.
In 1992, in the movie ‘Leap of Faith’, Edwin is featured as the choir master for the gospel songs.
b. Danny Woods, 10th April 1944, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
d. 13th January 2018, U.S.A.
A member of the group, Chairmen of the Board, Danny Woods, has died. Danny was 73.
More recently, his health began failing and he lost one of his legs, and was on dialysis.
Apart from the membership of the Chairmen of the Board, Danny was an influential voice in the Carolinas beach music scene.
b. Ora Denise Allen, 16th July 1939, Sidon, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 8th January 2018, Jackson, Tennessee, U.S.A.
The Blues and R&B singer, Denise LaSalle has died. Denise was 78.
In recent months, Denise had suffered from heart problems. She also recently underwent a leg amputation at the Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.
Denise will be remembered by U.K. Soul Music fans for her songs 'Come To Bed', 'Lady In The Street', 'When We're Makin' Love', 'Trapped By A Thing Called Love' and 'I'm So Hot'.
b. Roe Erister Hall, 1st January 1932, Tishomingo County, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 2nd January 2018, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, U.S.A.
The songwriter, owner and chief producer at legendary Fame Recording Studios, Rick Hall, has died. Rick was 85.
Rick owned the Rick Hall Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
He died on the 2nd of January at his home in Muscle Shoals, following returning from a stay in a local nursing home shortly before Christmas.
During the Fifties, Rick’s songs were recorded by several artists.
George Jones recorded his song ‘Achin', Breakin' Heart’, Brenda Lee recorded ‘She'll Never Know’, and Roy Orbison recorded ‘Sweet and Innocent’.
In 1960 he set up FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, where one of his first recordings was Arthur Alexander's ‘You Better Move On’.
Later that decade, he helped license Percy Sledge's ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, whilst his studio produced further hit records for Wilson Pickett, James and Bobby Purify, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Otis Redding, Candi Staton, Etta James and Arthur Conley.
In 1971, Rick was named Producer of the Year by Billboard magazine.
Rick was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985.
b. Wilbert Longmire Jnr., 7th December 1940, Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A.
d. 1st January 2018, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
The Jazz guitarist, Wilbert Longmire Jnr., has died. He was 77.
The cause is unknown at this point in time.
Wilbert was born in Mobile, Alabama.
He relocated, with his parents, to Cincinnati when he was three years old.
Wilbert was a violinist in his school’s orchestra.
His his first album was released in 1969.
He became well known to Jazz-Funk fans during the late Seventies and early Eighties.
Wilbert recorded for Bob James' short-lived Tappan Zee label, where he recorded 3 albums.
1978’s, ’Sunny Side Up’, featured the classic dance track ‘Black Is The Color’.
More recently, his albums for Tappan Zee have been been reissued in the U.K. and Japan.
b. Betty Jane Willis, 10th March 1941, Overton, Nevada, U.S.A.
d. 1st January 2018, Santa Ana, California, U.S.A.
The singer, Betty Willis has died. Betty was 76.
Tragically, Betty was homeless recently, and was murdered by a 22 year old homeless man, Rosendo Xo Pec, who tried to rape her.
She was attacked at 4 a.m. on New Years Day, and died at the scene.
In the Sixties, Betty started out singing in the clubs around Santa Ana, California.
Betty recorded a duet with Ray Lockhart as Betty & Ray on Rendezvous Records entitled 'You're Too Much' in 1962.
The follow up single, released the same year, was entitled, 'Take Your Heart’.
She also provided vocals for a group called the Instants at this time.
Betty sang with Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers on an unreleased song called ’My Tears Will Go Away’.
She collaborated with Leon Russell for Phi-Dan Records.
In 1967, Betty released 'Ain’t Gonna Do You No Good' b/w 'Gone With The Wind (Is My Love)’, a much sought after single.
Betty never gained widespread commercial success as a singer and left her career to raise her daughter in Orange County.
...those who left us in 2017...