Though these singers are no longer with us in mind and body, their music will live on forever….or until the rock generations have passed on.
• DAVID BYRON of Uriah Heep. British born David Byron joined the progressive hard rock band Uriah Heep in 1969. He suffered through alcohol and health problems, and the band fired him in 1976, after a number of awesome albums. From the acoustic strains of “The Wizard”, to the screams and power of “Bird of Prey”, Byron had an amazing range. Uriah Heep invited him to rejoin the band in 1980, but he turned them down, and passed away in 1985. “Me and my magic man, kinda feeling fine…”
• KURT COBAIN of Nirvana. The man who struggled with drug addiction and being misunderstood and who was frightened by the enormous success his band NIRVANA acquired, knew how to put his life into words. In June 1976, shortly after his parents divorced, a 9 year young Cobain scribbled onto his bedroom wall, “I hate Mom, I hate Dad, Dad hates Mom, Mom hates Dad, it simply makes you want to be sad.” He despised the record industry types willing to defang the music from Cobain’s Pacific Northwest for the sake of money, power, and instant, yet fleeting success.
• JOE COCKER John Robert Cocker, known to family, friends, his community and fans around the world as Joe Cocker, passed away on December 22, 2014 after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer. He was 70 years old. His iconic voice will forever be etched in our memories.
Joe Cocker was born May 20, 1944 in Sheffield, England where he lived until his early 20’s. An outstanding interpreter of songs, his successes include a Number One single in the UK in November 1968 with his version of the Beatles’ ‘A Little Help from My Friends’. Joe’s career took off considerably after he performed this song at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969.
Cocker is also well known for his epic ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ Tour of 1970, which featured over 40 musicians touring 48 cities across the US, resulting in a third gold album by the same name and a concert film. Just over Ten years later, Cocker then won his first Grammy in 1983 on a duet with Jennifer Warnes called ‘Up Where We Belong’, the theme from the 1982 film ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’.
• BRAD DELP of Boston committed suicide in an intriguingly complicated way, leaving a number of notes to a variety of people, explaining reasons and un-earthing a lifelong bout with depression.
• RONNIE JAMES DIO of Rainbow. What can be said that hasn’t already been said by his many friends and colleauges? He was a true trailblazer, starting out a long, long time ago. He made a name for himself in Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his own namesake band, among others. His was simply one of the best and most powerful voices in rock, and influenced countless other musicians AND music fans, for well over 40 years! He was a philanthropist as well, with the Hear’N Aid project, and his charity Children of the Night. RIP Ronnie. You will be missed.
• DAN FOGELBERG
He dominated the Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts in 1980 with tender love song “Longer,” but it wasn’t just romantic relationships that inspired Fogelberg. His hit from the following year, “Leader of the Band,” was written about his father, a musician and a high school band director. Fogelberg’s father died just months after the single was released. Early on in his career he did some amazing cooperations, one of which ranks into my all time favorite albums collection “Twin Sons of Different Mothers”(1978) with flutist Tim Weisberg. Especially in the amazing Hollies original “Tell me to my face”, Fogelberg plays a magnificent guitar lead, reason why I always believed that it was true that the Eagles at the height of their fame invited Fogelberg to join them, which he declined. It seems a little amazing that a songwriter could take a simple real-life encounter and, without much embellishing, turn the story into a song that still brings a tear to the eyes of listeners more than 30 years later. But that was Dan Fogelberg.
• MICHAEL HUTCHENCE of INXS. Hutchence was the archetypal rock showman. He exuded an overtly sexual, macho cool with his flowing locks, and lithe and exuberant stage movements”. Hutchence won the ‘Best International Artist’ at the 1991 BRIT Awards with INXS winning the related group award. He co-wrote almost all of INXS’s songs with high school buddy Andrew Farriss, who has attributed his own success as a songwriter to Hutchence’s “genius”. Divinyls’ lead singer, Chrissie Amphlett called him a sweet man, who said in one interview that he wanted me to have his baby”. Even long after his death, his life still creates controversies and legal actions.
• STEVE MARRIOT of the Small Faces. From the early days in the Small Faces, singing about groovy things like “Itchykoo Park”, to the hard and bluesy rockin of Humble Pie, Steve Marriot was the consumate rock singer. I still get chills when I put on “30 Days in the Hole”, and get blown away by “I Don’t Need no Doctor”. Humble Pie may have given the world Peter Frampton, but Marriot was its other true star, a diamond in the rough. He died in April 1991.
• FREDDIE MERCURY
• JIM MORRISON
• BRAD NORWELL of Sublime’
• “LONESOME” DAVE PEVERETT, (Foghat)
• ELVIS PRESLEY
• BON SCOTT of AC/DC. Last, but certainly not least, is Bon Scott. I first heard of AC/DC when “High Voltage” and “TNT” came out. I still love those old albums he played on, and listen to them frequently! They are still relevant today, and an important piece of the rock and roll puzzle. Sure, they went on to greatness with Brian Johnson, and they STILL rock to this day; but the lean, early years made the world wake up and take note of this powerful and charismatic singer named Bon. He believed in giving 110% every show. Unfortunately, that also applied to his partying lifestyle, and Scott was found dead in his car in 1980. There will never be another Bon Scott.
• LAYNE STALEY of Alice in Chains. Alice in Chains were poised to become grunge’s next big thing. (Which they pretty much did.) Nirvana had imploded after Cobain shot himself (another amazing singer no longer with us), and only Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were selling records. Alice in Chains released several incredible albums with Staley, who co-wrote a lot of the lyrics. His voice was unique and instantly recognizable. Check out any AIC album that he was on, or the “Mad Season” album for proof of his greatness.
• Janis Joplin 1943 to 1970 – Janis is probably the most well known female rock star who has passed. She was an amazing talent but had problems with drugs and alcohol for most of her active years. Janis died from a heroine overdose in 1970.
• Cass Elliot 1941 to 1974 – Also known as Mama Cass, Cass was best known for singing with the Mama and Papa’s. She died in her sleep in London apparently from a heart attack. There were rumors for years that Cass died from choking on a sandwich which were most likely started from a cruel rumor relating to her obesity. Cass left behind two daughters.
• Wendy O Williams 1949 to 1998 – Wendy was the lead singer of the Punk Rock band, the Plasmatics. She died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Wendy attempted to commit suicide three times in her life.
• Nico 1938 to 1988 – Nico, was a German model, actress, singer, and songwriter. 16 October 1938 – 18 July 1988. She was born Christa Päffgen in Cologne, Germany and as an Andy Warhol prodigy she’s known mostly from her work with the band The Velvet Underground. Nico started a successful career as a model in Berlin and Paris, studied acting at Lee Strasberg’s New York Actor Studio. She then became part of the Swinging London scene, and had a short relationship with The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and she recorded her first record in London in 1965, the single I’m Not Saying/The Last Mile, produced by Jimmy Page, for Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s label Immediate Records.
Nico died of a severe cerebral hemorrhage after a slight heart attack and fall while riding her bike in Ibiza, Spain. The heart attack was initially overlooked due to the head injury Nico sustained during the accident. She is buried in Berlin, next to her mother.
• Kirsty MacColl 1959 to 2000 – Kristy was an English musician who was killed by a power boat while scuba diving. She was best known for collaborating with the Pogues. Kristy died a hero, as she saved the life of her partner and son by pushing them out of the path of the boat before getting struck herself.
• Sandy Denny 1947 to 1978 – was a folk singer who also sang on Led Zepplin’s “Battle Of Evermore.” Sandy died from a brain hemorrhage after a fall down a flight of steps.
• Big Mama Thornton 1928 to 1984 – Willie Mae Thornton was the original singer of the song “Hound Dog,” which was later covered by Elvis. After years of alcohol abuse,”Mama” died from a heart attack at age fifty-seven.
• Kristen Pfaff 1967 to 1994 – Kristen was the bass player for the group Hole. After moving to Seattle in 1993, her recreational drug use became a chronic habit. Kristen died of a heroin overdose in June of 1994.
• Laura Brannigan 1957 to 2004 – was a popular singer songwriter with a number of hits including “Gloria” in the early eighties. Laura died of a brain aneurysm.
• Laura Nyro 1947 to 1997 – was an accomplished singer, pianist and lyricist and was probably best known for her song “Wedding Bell Blues” and “And when I die”. Her songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Carmen McCrae, Suzanne Vega, Phoebe Snow, Roseane Cash, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Jane Siberry, Mongo Santamaria, Junior Walker and the All Stars, Chet Atkins, Frank Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, George Duke, Maynard Ferguson, Thelma Houston, Patti Larkin, The Roches, and many, many others. Laura Nyro died of ovarian cancer when she was forty nine years old.
• Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001) – Aaliyah was an American singer, dancer, actress, and model. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She died in a small plane crash on Abaco Island, the Bahamas. Her song “Try Again” earned her a Grammy nomination in 2001 for her best female R&B vocalist. In 1996, she released her second album and the single “If Your Girl Only Knew” went double platinum.
• Chrissy Amphlett, (October 25,1959 – April 21, 2013) – Chrissy was the raunchy lead singer of the Australian rock band Divinyls whose hit “I Touch Myself” brought her international fame in the early 1990s, died at her home in New York City. She was 53 years old. “Christine Joy Amphlett succumbed to the effects of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, diseases she vigorously fought with exceptional bravery and dignity,” her musician husband Charley Drayton said in a statement.
• Mariska Veres. (October 1, 1947 – December 2, 2006) – Dutch popular rock/pop band Shocking Blue penned a song in the late sixties that became a world hit in 1970, called Venus. Copied by a flood of musicians and pop stars in years since, Venus has become a brand name attachment to Gillette Razors. Mariska was of German/Hungarian gypsy descent and her father Lajos, a famous violinist.
• Amy Winehouse (Sept.14, 1983 – July 23, 2011) –