'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.)
big jay mcneely
b. Big Jay McNeely (a.k.a. Cecil James McNeely), 29th April 1927, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
d. 16th September 2018, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
The rhythm and blues saxophonist, Big Jay McNeely, has died. Big Jay was 91.
Big Jay passed away from cancer.
Born Cecil James McNeely, his first recordings (with Johnny Otis), were held at a Barrelhouse Club near Cecil’s home.
He was later signed by Ralph Bass, the A&R man for Savoy Records.
Ralph’s senior, Herman Lubinsky, gave him the name Big Jay McNeely. His real name sounded to mundane, according to Herman.
Big Jay’s first hit was ‘The Deacon's Hop’ in 1949.
During the Fifties and Sixties, Big Jay recorded for several imprints, including Exclusive, Aladdin, Imperial, Federal, Vee-Jay, and Swingin’.
In 1959 he released ‘There Is Something on Your Mind’, with Little Sonny Warner on vocals.
In 1971, Big Jay left the music industry and became a postman.
However, during the Eighties, he returned to touring and recording.
Big Jay was then inducted into The Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.
In 1989, Big Jay McNeely performed with Detroit Gary Wiggins, and the two went on to tour in Germany and Italy.
In 2009, he performed at the International Boogie Woogie Festival in The Netherlands.
He later released the album ‘Party Time’.
b. Randolph Edward Weston, 6th April 1926, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
d. 1st September 2018, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
The American Jazz pianist and composer, Randy Weston, has died. Randy was 92.
Randy recorded for several imprints, including Riverside, Antilles, Verve, and Motéma Records.
Born in 1926, Randy was raised in Brooklyn
He graduated from Boys High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant
Randy served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
In the Fifties, he worked with Kenny Dorham and Cecil Payne, before forming his own trio and quartet in 1954.
In the Sixties, his music featured African aspects, showcased with the albums ‘Uhuru Afrika’ (in 1960) and ‘Highlife’ (in 1963).
In 1967, he journeyed through Africa, setting up the African Rhythms Club in Tangier.
In 1972, he produced Blue Moses for CTI Records.
He went on to records for several smaller imprints.
In 1992, he released ‘The Spirits of Our Ancestors’, which featured input from the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Pharoah Sanders.
In 2002, he performed for the inauguration of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt.
In 2009, he participated in a memorial at the Jazz Gallery in New York for Ghanaian drummer Kofi Ghanaba.
In 2013, Sunnyside released Randy’s album ‘The Roots of the Blues’, with tenor saxophonist Billy Harper.
In 2014, Randy played a duo concert with Harper at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
He celebrated his 90th birthday in 2016 with a concert at Carnegie Hall.
Randy’s final release, ‘Sound’ (2018), was a recording of a concert that took place at the Hotel Montreux Palace, Switzerland.
b. Daniel Earl Pearson, 6th January 1953, Stonewall, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 17th August 2018, U.S.A.
The American composer and singer-songwriter, Danny Pearson, has died. Danny was 65.
He passed away from liver cancer.
During the early 1970s, he fronted the group, Danny & Company.
The group also featured his brother, Jonas Pearson, who was the group’s guitarist.
Jonas Pearson also accompanied his brother as a guitarist later in his career.
Danny’s sole release was the 1978 album ‘Barry White Presents Mr. Danny Pearson’.
Produced by Barry White, the single ‘What's Your Sign Girl?’, reached number 16 on the U.S. R&B chart.
During his career, Danny collaborated with the likes of Sly Stone and Ray Parker Jr.
Danny was, recently, in the process of recording a new album entitled ‘We The People’.
eddie 'chank' willis
b. Edward Willis, 3rd June 1936, Grenada, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 20th August 2018, Gore Springs, Mississippi, U.S.A.
Eddie Willis, of the Motown Records house band, the Funk Brothers, has died. Eddie was 82.
He was the group’s electric guitarist during the Sixties and Seventies.
Eddie died from complications related to polio.
Eddie was born in Grenada, Mississippi.
He performed on many of Motown’s best known songs, including ‘Please Mr. Postman’ (The Marvelettes), ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do’ (The Temptations), ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ (The Supremes), and ‘I Was Made to Love Her’ (Stevie Wonder) amongst others.
Eddie, later, collaborated with Phil Collins on his album ‘Going Back’.
b. Aretha Louise Franklin, 25th March 1942, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.
d. 16th August 2018, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
To avoid repetition regarding many other sites, who will give you a straight ahead rundown of this singers career, I have decided to pen my own personal take on this superb woman, which has a link to her page at Soulwalking at the end of the texts.
Aretha’s passing will affect many peoples lives in many different ways. In some aspects, I wish I had been born at the start of the Fifties, rather than the latter part of that decade. I would have appreciated her work all the more. I was just a kid back in the Sixties, and in 67, I had turned 11 years old, and it was time to get those troublesome tonsils out of my throat, so I was booked in to hospital following months of tonsilitis. As part of the recovery process, my parents thought I would use a reel to reel tape if they got me one. Stick him in the corner of the room, with the darned thing, and that should keep him quiet. It did! I was showing some early signs of a love for music, so I was sent home with a sore throat, and this valved-up piece of technology, which I really appreciated. I did the first thing, that you were told not to do, and started recording songs off the radio. I remember taping ‘Hole In My Shoe’ by Traffic (which I loved), the Beatles songs, Stevie, the Beach Boys, loved ‘Patches’, the Monkees and found myself taping a woman singing about putting her makeup on first thing in the morning. It wasn’t the subject matter, but I remember thinking to myself ‘what a beautiful voice’. At 11 years old, if I told you I was deeply into John Coltrane, you would be suspicious to say the least, however Soul music really does have a a habit of creeping up on you unawares, and here I sat, with the sound on my reel to reel slipping on an off the tape heads, falling in love with this singer and her melody ‘Say A Little Prayer’. For one human being to affect people, especially children, on such a personal level, well, it’s unique. I can only remember seeing something similar, when I watched children listening to Michael Jackson circa 1970. They are completely on the same wave length.
That old tape machine has long been gone to the recycling centre, however, some 50 years later, Aretha Franklin’s vinyl weighs heavy on the shelves here. There are loads of the things, and I unashamedly love every one of them. You see, Aretha has a really annoying habit of emotionally catching you unawares, and in those moments, she privately moves you to tears, so you end up making out you are fine to others, when you certainly are not. Aretha sang, not to the many, but sang to the one. A personal conversation between her and you. It is the same situation for millions of others who, also, think they are ‘the one’. This songstress was so gifted, she would have the affect of moving the listener, singing about getting her dry cleaning, throwing out the trash, or putting petrol in the car. A complete one off, and I feel blessed to have been alive when she was alive. Aretha is only going one way, and that way is up! Sista gone too soon. Man upstairs sent us down an angel, to remind us all precisely, what true beauty is all about. Aretha Franklin was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest voices of the Twentieth Century, and I for one, will really miss her singing, ‘just to myself!’ :)).
b. Clinton Ghent, 1940, Chicago, Illinois, , U.S.A.
d. 7th July 2018, Vitas Hospice, Mercy Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Clinton Ghent, a dancer, choreographer and ‘Soul Train’ host, has died at the age of 78.
Clinton passed away from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He choreographed for the Emotions, the Chi-Lites, the Whispers amongst others.
clarence earl scott
b. Clarence Earl Scott, 3th December 1937, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
d. 7th May 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Clarence Scott has died.
Clarence was also known as ‘Scotty’.
Scotty was part of The Royal Serenaders in the early 1950s in Philadelphia.
He was also a member of the Valets, and wrote and sang lead vocals for the song, ‘Sherry’.
He was also a member of the Castelles.
In 1959, Clarence recorded ‘Love Potion Number 9’ with the Clovers.
b. Joseph Valentine Sr., 3rd February 1937, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
d. 13th July 2018, Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
Joe Valentine was a prolific songwriter, producer, promoter and club owner.
He performed with the likes of James Brown, Joe Tex, and Jackie Wilson as a keyboard player.
Joe’s own band were called Joe Valentine and the Imperials.
b. Joseph Walter Jackson, 26th July 1928, Fountain Hill, Arkansas, U.S.A.
d. 27th June 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
Joe Jackson, the father of the Jackson siblings Michael, Janet, Jermaine, Rebbie, Randy, Jackie, Tito, Marlon, Latoya and Brandon, has died. He was 89.
Joe passed away from pancreatic cancer.
He was a talent manager and parent of the Jackson family
Joe was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2014.
Born in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, in 1928, Joe was the eldest of five children.
When he was twelve, the family moved to East Chicago in Northwest Indiana, whilst Joe moved with his father to California.
He then relocated to Indiana, after his father remarried.
Joe worked at the Inland Steel Company, and became a boxer.
Whilst boxing, he met and (later) married Katherine Scruse in 1949.
In 1950, they bought 2300 Jackson Street, in Gary, Indiana.
The couple started a family, and Joe became a crane operator.
Joe and Katherine went on to have ten children.
Brandon Jackson, sadly, died just after he was born in 1957.
Joe performed for a while in a group called The Falcons, playing guitar.
In the Sixties, Joe began working with the family as performers.
Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael, originally, performed under the name ‘The Jackson Brothers’.
They performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, and were signed by Jackson tothe Steeltown Records imprint.
The first single ‘Big Boy’, which led to a label move, this time, to Motown Records in Detroit.
The group achieved a series of chart hits, included ‘I Want You Back’ (in 1969), ‘ABC’ (in 1970), ‘The Love You Save’ (in 1970), and ‘I’ll Be There’ (in 1970).
Joe then began working with the younger children and set up his own record label, Ivory Tower International Records.
Joe’s marriage wasn’t without incident, however, despite living separately, Katherine and Joe remained officially married until his death.
In 2015, Joe was rushed into a hospital following a stroke and heart arrhythmia.
He passed away at a hospital in Las Vegas.
b. Lowrell Simon Jnr. a.k.a. Lowrell (b. 18th March 1943, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)
d. 19th June 2018, Bedford Care Center, Newton, Mississippi, U.S.A.
The singer and songwriter, Lowrell Simon, has died. He was 75.
He passed away from multiple health complications in Mississippi.
Lowrell was part of the Sixties and Seventies group, the Lost Generation, before achieving mainstream success, through his 1979 mid-tempo Soul evergreen ‘Mellow, Mellow, Right On’.
His career compositions included doo-wop, gospel, movie and funk and disco tracks.
As a teenager, Lowrell grew up in Chicago’s Stateway Gardens public housing development at 35th Street and Federal Avenue.
He sang in church and at neighbourhood talent shows,
Lowrell joined the group, the Vondells, writing the group’s song ‘Lenora’.
He formed the Lost Generation, who were signed to the Brunswick Records imprint.
Lowrelll penned the song ‘The Sly, Slick and the Wicked’, a track he later said was loosely based on the movie title ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’.
The song went on to sell 600,000 copies.
When the Lost Generation went their separate ways in the Seventies, Lowrell began writing for Curtis Mayfield’s imprint, Curtom.
He wrote songs for the Impressions including the title of the movie soundtrack ‘Three the Hard Way’.
Lowrell Simon's additional writing credits include 'Keep on Playing the Music' by Mystique featuring Ralph Johnson from their 1976 Curtom / Warner Bros. debut, the LP track 'All About the Paper' by Loleatta Holloway / The Dells and 'Dance Master' (part one and two), a hit single by Chicago resident Willie Henderson in 1974.
By 1979, Lowrell recorded his self titled AVI album, which featured ‘Mellow Mellow Right On’.
The track was sampled by several artists, including Common (‘Reminding Me (Of Sef’) and Massive Attack (‘Lately’).
More recently, Lowrell rarely performed, however, his brother, Fred Simon, said that when the group toured overseas, many people wanted to talk about his brother.
Lowrell is survived by three daughters, Rae Simon Brown, Kellan Simon Taylor and Shondrae; a son, Tony Baird; two grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
b. 1951, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
d. 12th June 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
The Jazz pianist & composer, Ghalib Ghallab has died. He was 67.
Ghalib had been fighting cancer and had been ill for more than a year.
Over the years, he had performed at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
He had accompanied with Natalie Cole and Lou Rawls amongst others at the venue.
Ghalib attended the Harlan High School in Chicago, and appeared at several clubs including the Back Room, the Cotton Club, George’s, Jazz Bulls, M Lounge and the Promontory.
Whilst at the school, he played tuba in the band.
After a period in the United States military, Ghalib relocated to San Francisco, California, studying music at Napa Junior College and San Francisco State University.
He performed in Las Vegas for the first time in 1989, which were attended by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and James Brown.
He recorded several albums over the years, which included the Soul favourite, 1987’s ‘Let Me Love You’.
He also released ‘Morning Sunrise’ in 1980, ‘Jazz 'n' It With Ghalib Ghallab: Live At The Bulls’ in 1981, and ‘A Milestone In My Life’ in 1985.
Ghalib is survived by his children Ghalib II, Jihad and Khalid and three grandchildren.
Graveside services are planned Friday at Woodlawn Cemetery in Las Vegas.
jalal mansur nuriddin
b. Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, July 1944, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
d. 4th June 2018, U.S.A.
Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, former member of the musical and politically active group, the Last Poets, has died. He was 74.
The singer was affectionally referred to as ‘the Grandfather of Rap’.
Jalal passed away following a long battle with cancer.
During his career, Jalal contributed to the Last Poets' 1970 debut album, and also the group’s album ‘This Is Madness’.
The releases are recognised today, as early examples of the hip-hop genre.
He went on to release a solo album in 1973, entitled ‘Hustlers Convention’.
Public Enemy's vocalist, Chuck D spoke about the record in a documentary about the album.
Jalal spoke about the rappers who followed on from his earlier work stating he felt the later artists ‘bitched about their lives, boasted about their women, their drugs, their money, their ego’.
Jalal was born in 1944.
The Last Poets, were formed in the late 1960’s, and in 1970, the Last Poets released their self titled album (which reached Number 29 on Billboard's albums chart).
‘This Is Madness’ followed, and the solo album ‘Hustlers Convention’ featured an early incarnation of the group Kool & the Gang.
Since that time, Jalal continued to record at various times.
He appeared briefly in the movie ‘Poetic Justice’ in 1993.
In 2014, he travelled to the U.K. to perform live the ‘Hustlers Convention’ album, live at the Jazz Café in Camden Town, London.
Jalal’s family said that details regarding his funeral will be forthcoming shortly.
b. Clarence Fountain, 28th November 1929, Selma, Alabama, U.S.A.
d. 3rd June 2018, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Clarence Fountain, a founding member of the gospel group, Blind Boys of Alabama, has died. He was 88.
Clarence was born in Selma, Alabama.
He lost his sight as a small child, and was enrolled at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind in Talladega.
Clarence joined the school’s large boys choir, where he joined a singing group, eventually called the Blind Boys.
Blind Boys of Alabama first began singing together, and were praised by National Public Radio as ‘pioneers’, being one of a few groups who transcended barriers of race and genre to become a highly respected group in modern music.
The Blind Boys of Alabama went on to win several Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, as well as being inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and performing at the White House.
Due to declining health, Clarence stopped touring with the band in 2007 but did contribute vocals to the Blind Boys’ latest album, ‘Almost Home’.
b. Reginald Grant Lucas, 25th February 1953, Queens, New York, U.S.A.
d. 19th May 2018, New York City, U.S.A.
The musician, songwriter and record producer, Reggie Lucas, has died. He was 65.
Reggie died of heart disease in New York City.
Along with his songwriting/group colleague, James Mtume, the duo formed a prolific partnership throughout the Seventies and Eighties.
Reggie produced a large part of Madonna's 1983 self-titled debut album.
He was also part of the Miles Davis electric band during the early Seventies.
Reggie also performed as a guitarist for Billy Paul in the early 1970s.
His work with Miles Davis led to Reggie meeting James Mtume.
As a duo, they toured with Roberta Flack in the mid Seventies.
With James Mtume, Reggie wrote and performed with the likes of Stephanie Mills (‘What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin’), Phyllis Hyman (‘You Know How To Love Me’), Lou Rawls, the Spinners (‘Got To Be Love’), Eddie Henderson (‘Say You Will’), Gary Bartz (‘Music’) and Roberta Flack (‘The Closer I Get To You’).
Reggie went on to collaborate with several artists, including Rebbie Jackson, Randy Crawford, and The Four Tops.
He was also a member of the group Sunfire, whose songs included ‘Young Free and Single’ and ‘Step In The Light’.
Reggie set up the recording studio Quantum Sound (who recorded the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, Jodeci, Jeff Buckley and Sepultura).
b. John Henry Starks, 26th October 1938, Jackson, Alabama, U.S.A.
d. 1st May 2018, Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A.
The drummer, Jabo Starks, has died. He was 79.
Jabo will, probably, be best remembered for his performances alongside James Brown.
He perfomed alongside Clyde Stubblefield, on many of the Godfathers most memorable sides.
These included ‘The Payback’, ‘Sex Machine’, ‘Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing’, ‘Get On The Good Foot’, ‘Hot Pants’ and ’Super Bad’.
Jabo performed with many acts associated James Brown, including Lyn Collins, The JB’s (‘Blow Your Head’), and Bobby Byrd.
In the early Sixties, Jabo performed on many popular Blues records, performing on sides by the likes of Bobby Blue Bland and B.B. King.
He played the drums on Bobby Blue Bland’s hit ‘I Pity the Fool’ in 1961.
In recent years, Jabo performed at some live venues in Alabama, and performed with Bootsy Collins at a James Brown tribute show.
b. Reginald Duwayne McArthur, 25th September 1954, Fairfield, Alabama, U.S.A.
d. 19th April 2018, Bessemer, Alabama, U.S.A.
The lead vocalist with the group, the Controllers, Reginald McArthur, has died. Reginald was 63.
He passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Reginald was the second child of four born to the late Daniel McArthur and Beatrice Brown McArthur.
He was educated in the Fairfield School System and later received an Associate’s Degree from Lawson State Community College.
Reginald sang lead vocals with The Controllers, along with his brother, Larry McArthur and his cousins, Leonard Brown and Ricky Lewis.
The Controllers accumulated 18 Billboard charted records and five gold records.
They won five Soul Train Awards, achieved five HBO appearances and 5 MTV appearances.
In recent years, Reginald joined New Mount Moriah Baptist Church, Hueytown, Alabama and was baptized on the 10th of August 2003.
The Controllers are, probably, best remembered for their Seventies Soul ballad 'Somebody's Gotta Win'. There is more about the group here....
b. Charles Neville, 28th December 1938, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
d. 26th April 2018, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Charles Neville, of the Neville Brothers band, has died. He was 79.
Charles had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Neville's career goes back to the 1950s when he performed with B.B. King.
He grew up in Valence Street, in the Calliope housing development in New Orleans.
Charles started performing music in his teens.
He went on to tour with Gene Franklin and the Houserockers, Johnny Ace, Big Maybelle, Little Walter and Larry Williams.
Charles served in the U.S. Navy in Memphis between 1956 to 1958.
It was, however, the three decades of performances with his brothers, Aaron, Art and Cyril, as part of the group the Neville Brothers band, which he will be best remembered for.
The group were formed in the 1970s, playing their own interpretation of funk, jazz and New Orleans rhythm and blues.
The Neville Brothers performed together, up until 2015.
Charles is survived by his wife Kristin Neville, daughter Charmaine Neville, sons Talyn Neville and Khalif Neville; sister Athelgra Neville Gabriel, and brothers Art, Cyril and Aaron.
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...