November 27, 2017 – Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell (the Young Rascals) was born on the 29th of December 1950 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Popwell started his career in the ’60s. He quickly got work in the jazz and R&B worlds.
As a member of the house band The Macon Rhythm Section (with Johnny Sandlin, Pete Carr, Paul Hornsby and Jim Hawkins) for the Capricorn Records Studio in Macon Georgia, from 1968 he recorded with Doris Duke, Hubert Laws, Deryll Inman, The Atlanta Disco Band, Johnny Jenkins, and Livingston Taylor. Continue reading Robert Lee (Pops) Popwell 11/2017
November 12, 2017 – Chad Hanks (American Head Charge) was born in 1971 in Los Angeles, California.
With vocalist friend Cameron Heacock he formed American Head Charge in 1997 after they met in 1995 in rehab in Minneapolis and emerged as major players from the late ’90s nu-metal boom. The success of their 1999 indie debut, Trepanation, caught the ear of mega-producer Rick Rubin (Metallica, Beastie Boys, Chili Peppers), who signed the band to his American Recordings label and got the group out to his allegedly haunted Los Angeles mansion to record 2001’s “The War of Art.” Metal magazines Kerang and Rough Edge each gave the album four-star reviews (out of five), and VH1 picked it as one of the “12 Most Underrated Albums of Nü Metal.” Continue reading Chad Hanks 11/2017
October 21, 2017 – Martin Eric Ain was born Martin Stricker in the USA from Swiss parents on July 18, 1967. His mother was a Catholic religion teacher. She taught the catechism. Ain figured that most probably, the reason for him joining up with the arch rebel — Satan himself! — was because that was the most powerful force to oppose his mother.
I remember that traumatic experience being in a church, and there was this life-sized cross with this tormented human figure nailed, its limbs twisted and turned. I must have been about 5 or 6. That was really bizarre, having all those people around me being solemn in a way, but then, on the other hand, really getting joyous toward the end of that ritual about this person dying. And then going to the front of the church and coming back having devoured part of the body of that person. As a child, you take something like that quite literally, you know? And it was never really explained to me in a way that seemed really logical. I had nightmares. For me, religion didn’t have a redemptive quality. It didn’t help me to have a more positive outlook on life. It was a negative, oppressive kind of thing. Christ was a symbol of utter failure and absolute totalitarian control.
October 4, 2017 – Alvin DeGuzman (The Icarus Line) was born in Manila in the Philippines on December 3, 1978.
When he was 4 years old the family moved to the US.He attended Holy Family School in South Pasadena and graduated from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1997. He also attended Cal Poly Pomona.
Alvin was a talented musician and passionate artist. While in High School he became a founding member of the indie punk rock band The Icarus Line, where he played the guitar both left and right handed, and also played bass and keys. The Icarus Line was the successor to high school friend Joe Cardamone’s first musical effort named “Kanker Sores”. Continue reading Alvin DeGuzman 10/2017
September 5, 2017 – Holger Czukay was born on March 24, 1938 in the Free City of Danzig (since 1945 Gdańsk, Poland), from which his family was expelled after World War II. Due to the turmoil of the war, Czukay’s primary education was limited. One pivotal early experience, however, was working, when still a teenager, at a radio repair-shop, where he became fond of the aural qualities of radio broadcasts (anticipating his use of shortwave radio broadcasts as musical elements) and became familiar with the rudiments of electrical repair and engineering.
Czukay studied music under Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1963 to 1966 and then worked for a while as a music teacher. Initially Czukay had little interest in rock music, but this changed, when a student played him the Beatles’ 1967 song “I Am the Walrus”, a 1967 psychedelic rock single with an unusual musical structure and blasts of AM radio noise. This opened his ears to music by rock experimentalists such as The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa. Continue reading Holger Czukay 9/2017
July 14, 2017 – David Z (Zablidowski) was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1979.
He formed his first band, Legend, as a freshman at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School and attended Brooklyn College.
“I was in music class at FDR and spotted a few kids with long hair and we formed a band,” David Z said, adding that his older brother Pauli joined the band six months later.
They played at city nightclubs and bars, but the band fell apart shortly after high school. Then, the Z brothers approached drummer Joey Cassata to join their band. Z02 was born. David by that time had already joined the early incarnations of TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) as they started performing their Christmas shows. This exposure opened many doors for him. In 2004, the guys, who where in their early and middle 20s, scraped together money to release their first album, and soon were touring with the likes of Kiss, Stone Temple Pilots, Poison and Alice Cooper on the VH1 Rock the Nation tour. Continue reading David Z(ablidowski) 7/2017
June 19, 2017 – Noel Neal (James Cotton Band) was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1963. The Neal family from Baton Rouge is known nationwide as a blues family with numerous performers, Kenny probably being the most famous one.
Neal journeyed to Chicago early on where he played with James Cotton for over 30 years, touring and recording for the late Chicago blues star and harmonica virtuoso James Cotton, who also recently passed on March 16 of this year. He also recorded with his late father, Raful Neal, and his brother, Kenny Neal.Continue reading Noel Neal 6/2017
April 23, 2017 – Kerry Turman (long time bass player for the Temptations) was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 28, 1957.
Kerry left Detroit, Michigan at the age of 19 to pursue his passion in music and further develop his “chops” in Los Angeles, California. He cut his teeth as part of the killer band that Roy Ayers (King of Neo Soul) put together in the late 1970s.
In the 1970s and 80s he traveled the world playing the bass for many artists, including, Roy Ayers, Evelyn “Champagne” King and legendary drummer Gene Dunlap. Continue reading Kerry Turman 4/2017
April 10, 2017 – Banner Thomas – bass for Molly Hatchet, was born on September 6, 1954 in Savannah, Georgia.
About his musical ambitions during childhood he said: “There was always some kind of music to listen to in my house when I was a child. Unfortunately, it was all either on the radio or on records. There were no musicians in my family. I still got exposed to a lot of good music, from Nat King Cole and Al Hirt through Elvis and Johnny Horton to Tennessee Ernie Ford. Then the Beatles came along. By the time the sixties were halfway over, I had a guitar and was learning songs by the Monkees and Donovan, the Beatles and the Stones. Then I discovered Hendrix and Cream, and by the time Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath came out, I was hopelessly addicted. By the time I graduated high school, I had already been in a few bands. I was a music major at college for about a year or so, then I dropped out and joined an early version of Molly Hatchet. Who knows where I would be now if I had finished school? Probably not talking to you now.”Continue reading Banner Thomas 4/2017
April 9, 2017 – Alan Henderson (bass for Them) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on November 26, 1944. He caught the music bug during his teenage years and set his sights on becoming a professional musician.
In 1962, he was recruited into the Gamblers, a Belfast-based band founded by guitarist Billy Harrison. With Ronnie Millings as their drummer and pianist Eric Wrixon coming aboard a little later, the group specialized in hard American-style rock & roll and R&B, with a repertory that included both Elvis Presley and Little Willie John. It was sometime after Wrixon joined that he and Harrison crossed paths with songwriter/singer/sax-player Van Morrison, and not long after that – depending on whose story carries more logic – either Morrison joined the Gamblers or they agreed to become his backing band. Continue reading Alan Henderson 4/2017
March 3, 2017 – Lyle Ritz – bassist for The Wrecking Crew and Father of the Jazz Ukulele, was born on January 10, 1930 in Cleveland, Ohio
He studied violin and tuba as a child and while attending college in California, he found a job at the Southern California Music Company in Los Angeles. Working in the “Small Goods Department” meant, he demonstrated and took care of harmonicas, accessories, and the instrument that was to become his love, the ukulele. He was often called upon to demonstrate the ukulele for potential customers as the instrument at the time was experiencing popularity due to its use by radio personality Arthur Godfrey. Ritz discovered that he enjoyed the uke and took it upon himself to learn how to play it properly, not just as a novelty instrument, its usual fate then and now.He purchased a Gibson tenor ukulele for his own use and became a master of the four-stringed uke. Even though the ukulele is still often considered a novelty instrument when in its usual Hawaiian surroundings, Lyle Ritz never felt that way. Continue reading Lyle Ritz 3/2017
February 4, 2017 – Steve Lang, (April Wine) was born Stephen Keith Lang in Montreal, Quebec on March 24, 1949. The band that gave him fame as a musician, was formed in late 1969 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The original members, the three brothers Henman with friend vocalist/guitarist Myles Goodwyn soon moved the band to Montreal to gain more exposure. They scored their first hit with “Fast Train” followed by a self-titled debut album. The next year brought the band’s first Canadian number one single, “You Could Have Been a Lady,” which had been a hit in Europe for the band “Hot Chocolate”.
Brothers David and Ritchie Henman left the band they had founded before the next album, Electric Jewels, could be recorded; they were replaced by Jerry Mercer and Gary Moffet. After April Wine Live (1974) and Stand Back (1975), Steve Lang came in to replace Jim Clench, who left to join Bachman-Turner Overdrive and later Loverboy and in turn had replaced the third Henman brother a couple of years earlier.Continue reading Steve Lang 2/2017
January 31, 2017 – John Wetton (ASIA) was born on June 12, 1949 in Willington, Derbyshire, and grew up in the coastal city of Bournemouth, Dorset, England.
He first cut his musical teeth on church music at his family’s piano where he often played the bass parts to help his brother rehearse tunes for services….an experience that led to John’s love of the relationship between top line and bass melodies. It stayed a major feature of his music throughout his career. In his teens, John focused those melodies on the bass guitar and honed his skills by playing and singing with local bands. He also discovered a knack for songwriting with an early bandmate, Richard Palmer-James; a relationship that would continue to flourish through five decades.
John’s early work with a variety of bands (Splinter, Mogul Trash and Family) allowed him to show off his impressive bass talents, but did little to showcase his equally impressive singing and songwriting skills. Frustrated, John began to listen a bit closer to the sales pitch of an old friend, Robert Fripp, who set about to reform King Crimson in 1972. Wetton first came to rock fans’ attention when he joined a revamped King Crimson lineup, sticking with the group over a two-year span that included the records Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black and Red. This Crimson core of Wetton, Fripp, and Bill Bruford is often considered the “classic” line-up, releasing three studio albums, that truly stretched the band to its imaginative limits. But after a blistering show in New York’s Central Park in 1974, the band took what was supposed to be a hiatus, but sadly became permanent.
He then served stints with Roxy Music and Uriah Heep before co-founding U.K. with his engine room buddy Bill Bruford, as comments from fans and even the media proved to John that there could still be some life in the Wetton/Bruford rhythm section of King Crimson. A series of phone calls and meetings proved to be all the momentum needed in getting U.K. off the ground.
The line-up of Wetton, Bruford, Eddie Jobson, and guitar phenomenon Allan Holdsworth delivered a potent mix of jazzy fusion and progressive pop that brought great success, but also division in the band. After one album, Bruford and Holdsworth were out, and drummer Terry Bozzio in. This trio delivered one studio album and one live album before a demise similar to King Crimson….a hiatus that turned permanent.
At this point, John decided to turn his attentions to a solo career and entered the studio to record “Caught in the Crossfire,” an album that, in hindsight, shows a logical bridge from the music of U.K. to the eventual music of Asia. While most Wetton fans are now familiar with “Caught in the Crossfire,” not many people heard it in 1980. E.G. Records failed to give it the necessary promotion; a move EG blamed on John’s advancing age. He was 31 at the time…
Feeling it was time to clean house, John parted ways with his old management, publisher, and record company, and joined forces with Brian Lane, who had just ended a successful run with Yes. John had already started working with Atlantic Records’ A&R man John Kalodner, Kalodner was moving to the newly-formed Geffen Records, and wanted to assemble a group that would unleash a new sound across the musical landscape while preserving the finest elements of progressive rock. He found his dream line-up with Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer drummer, Carl Palmer. Together they formed Asia — a so-called progressive rock supergroup, whose self-titled debut album topped the charts in the U.S. on its way to more than eight million in worldwide copy sales and the title of Billboard magazine’s No. 1 album of 1982.
This “fab four” of progressive pop would rule radio and record sales for a scant year and a half before losing Wetton in an unceremonious shake-up just weeks before MTV’s heavily-promoted Asia in Asia concert broadcast. (Wetton was fired from Asia at the insistence of Geffen Records, ostensibly because of less-than-expected sales of the Alpha (1983) album). Wetton was brought back to Asia in 1985, with Mandy Meyer replacing Steve Howe on lead guitar, to complete Astra (1985). The album showcased a few Wetton/Downes classics such as “Rock and Roll Dream” and “Go,” but the die had been cast, and the record company’s confidence translated into lack of promotion; loss of momentum equalled lost sales and a waning interest and Asia ultimately disbanded following 1985’s little-heard Astra LP.
By the end of the ‘80s however, interest in Asia reignited in Europe. John, who had been collaborating with ex-Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, rejoined Carl Palmer, and eventually Geoff Downes, for a series of ASIA concerts that proved successful, but left John empty. To him, Asia was sounding tired and he was ready for a break. Further enticing him was a solo deal with Virgin Records. So, after wrapping up a South American tour in 1991, John temporarily bid adieu to Asia…at least that’s what he thought. (The word Hiatus was not used this time).
With renewed energy, John moved to California to focus on his solo career and began work on his “Voice Mail” album, the first album to really show off his talents for emotional, autobiographical material. Two songs from the album, “Hold Me Now” and “Battle Lines,” have become classics among Wetton fans. In fact, “Battle Lines” eventually replaced “Voice Mail” as the album’s title when British producer Bob Carruthers selected it as the theme for his film “Chasing the Deer.” To promote the album, John embarked on his first solo tour and later released a live CD called “Akustika.”
Returning to the studio in the mid 90s, John contributed tracks to tribute albums featuring the works of Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Genesis. He furthered the link to Genesis by signing on with Steve Hackett for his “Genesis Revisited” project, which culminated in several highly successful live performances in Japan.
Continued autobiographical songwriting led to 1997’s “Arkangel” album, an emotionally gritty album that would add more staples (“Arkangel,” “Emma”) to John’s live solo performances. 2000’s “Sinister” album, also entitled “Welcome to Heaven,” finished the trilogy of solo offerings. He further promoted these albums with extensive tours of Europe, Japan, and South America.
Despite being left off the tour schedule, American fans had plenty to celebrate in 2002 with the first-ever John Wetton Fan Convention in suburban Allentown, PA. Hundreds filled a local venue to spend a weekend with John, his band, and Geoff Downes, who joined John for a gala Saturday night concert which marked the first time the two had shared a stage in more than ten years.
Fans delighted in a resurgence of the Wetton/Downes team when John returned to the studio to begin work on 2003’s “Rock of Faith.” Two new songs written by John and Geoff (“I’ve Come to Take You Home” and “I Lay Down”) created a buzz among fans hoping for an eventual reunion of the original Asia line-up. That buzz roared in 2005 with the release of “iCon,” an album of original music by Wetton and Downes that the duo followed with a number of live shows. Fans cheered the fact that Wetton sounded as good in person, if not better, than he did during the heyday of Asia.
With Wetton at the top of his game once again, imagine what it would sound like if Downes, Howe, and Palmer all joined in! It indeed happened in early 2006, as the four musicians responsible for Billboard’s Number One Album of 1982 sat down in a London hotel and began the groundwork for a worldwide reunion tour. After a media blitz across the US, the tour kicked off in Rochester, NY in August of 2006. Fans quickly snapped up tickets as more and more dates were added.
Several months into the reunion tour, Asia and its fans were stunned to learn that John Wetton needed emergency heart surgery. During his hospital stay in London, worried fans flooded the switchboard with calls about his progress. Thankfully, John made a remarkably quick recovery and, after a few short weeks of resting at home, Asia returned to the road.
“I accept the fact that I might not be here tomorrow, but having said that, having come through it you feel great,” Wetton said after his heart surgery. “It gave me a completely new outlook on life, that it could all end tonight while I’m asleep, so let’s make the most of today. Let’s make the most of now.”
During this same time, John and Geoff released the second of their iCon albums, “Rubicon.” The historical meaning of the title was not lost on the musicians or their fans, as the songs reflected John and Geoff’s personal and professional decisions to sever restrictive ties of the past and forge a positive new outlook. As Asia set out on a much-anticipated second year of touring, fans demanded more. They wanted to hear what would happen if Wetton, Downes, Howe and Palmer sat down in a studio and created a new album. Fans got their wish as the band retreated to the studios at Liscombe Park and got to work on “Phoenix.” The appropriately titled project was an incredibly balanced one, fully showcasing the writing and playing of each band member. John’s thoughtful reflections on his health crisis and his healthy resurgence colored many of the lyrics on the album.
Asia wrapped up months of touring in the spring of 2008 with a series of shows in Eastern Europe, leaving John and Geoff with time to craft their third iCon album. The Phoenix tour resulted in the Live CD/DVD “Spirit of the Night”. A track from that album, An Extraordinary Life, was also selected as the theme to America’s Got Talent.
The band’s success continued with the recording of the second album of their reunion, Omega. The subsequent World Tour resulted in the release of “Resonance” which captured a live performance in Switzerland.
Wetton returned to his solo career in 2011 to record Raised in Captivity, an album of new compositions with Billy Sherwood. A band was formed to tour the UK and Japan, playing music from the new album and a career spanning back catalogue. Wetton’s other ventures during this period included the reunion of UK with Eddie Jobson and guest appearances for Cleopatra Records.
In 2012, ASIA returned to the studio to record XXX, proving that a reunion can last longer than first time around. The album cover shows the ASIA dragon 30 years later and was supported by another World Tour, taking in America, Europe and Japan.
In 2013, Steve Howe announced he was leaving ASIA and Wetton was instrumental in selecting new guitarist, Sam Coulson, to join the band. The band planned to record a new studio album, Valkyrie, which was released as Gravitas in 2014.
In 2016 Wetton went public with his colon cancer diagnosis, which forced him to pull out of Asia’s scheduled tour dates with Journey so he could undergo chemotherapy, which sadly did not turn out to heal him.
John Wetton, the bassist and singer for Asia, as well as a former member of King Crimson and U.K., died on January 31, 2017 at the age of 67, after a battle with colon cancer.
“With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant,” wrote Asia drummer Carl Palmer in a statement. “John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music. As a musician, he was both brave and innovative, with a voice that took the music of Asia to the top of the charts around the world. His ability to triumph over alcohol abuse made him an inspiration to many who have also fought that battle. For those of us who knew him and worked with him, his valiant struggle against cancer was a further inspiration. I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile.
May you ride easy, my old friend.”
“He will be remembered as one of the world’s finest musical talents, and I for one of many was wholly blessed by his influence,” added Downes in a lengthy post. “It was a massive privilege for me to have worked with this genius so closely on our numerous projects together over the years. His bass playing was revolutionary. His voice was from the gods. His compositions — out of this world. His sense of melody and harmony — unreal. He was literally a ‘special one.'”
In the short term, Wetton is scheduled to be replaced for the Journey tour by Yes veteran Billy Sherwood; over the long term, Downes has signaled a determination to continue Asia in honor of his longtime partner. “It is the end of an era for all of us,” he wrote. “But we will soldier on — the music of John Wetton needs to be heard loud and clear from the rooftops.”
AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AN INTERACTIVE CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE & MUSIC OF JOHN WETTON JUNE 17, 2017 AT THE BERGEN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
ASIA and their fans will pay tribute in a special concert to the late singer / songwriter, John Wetton, who spearheaded the legendary British band. The event is called “An Extraordinary Life” and will be a fully interactive celebration whereby fans can contribute to the remembrances of the acclaimed musician. It will be held on Saturday, June 17th at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ.
John Wetton, who was the lead vocalist, bassist and co-writer with the iconic group, lost his brave fight against cancer on 31st January 2017, just as the band was about to embark on a four month tour as special guests of Journey, recreating the days when both bands were world best sellers.
“An Extraordinary Life”, a reference to one of the band’s most popular songs, will pay tribute to John. Special guest Billy Sherwood of YES is filling in as bassist and vocalist. Also appearing will be current ASIA members Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes, and Sam Coulson. The group will do a full set of ASIA music, as well as some of the best loved songs from the members’ previous super-groups, bands such as King Crimson; YES; The Buggles; and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
In addition to the ASIA performance, the evening will be highlighted with rare video clips of John and the band, historical footage and fan remembrances of John and his music. ASIA fans will be encouraged to send in written or video accounts of their love of the music and the man behind much of it. Still photos of fans with John are also welcomed and will be projected onto the screen. Fans who send media to the band in advance will be balloted to share memories on the evening.
January 24, 2017 – Björn Ake Thelin (The Spotnicks) was born on June 27, 1942 in the little village of Stöde about 25 miles west from the Swedish town of Sundsvall. He grew up in Frölunda, but lived with his family in northwestern Skåne for many years.
He joined The Spotnicks in 1961. The band had its great time in the 1960s when they became famous for their great instrumental guitar fire works and stage dressing in the form of space suits.
The group toured around the world and was very popular in countries such as West Germany, Japan, France and Mexico.The band sold in excess of 20 million albums. Quite a feat in those early days of rock and roll.
The Spotnicks originated from a duo, “The Rebels” (1956), formed by Bo Starander (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Björn Thelin (bass guitar). They were joined by lead guitarist Bo Winberg and became “Rock-Teddy and the Blue Caps” in 1957 in Gothenburg. He became Gothenburg’s rock king in 1958, like Rock-Teddy, in a competition in Göteborg’s concert hall with the Blue Caps companion group. In 1958 they added Ove Johansson (drums), changed their name to “The Frazers”, and began playing regularly in local clubs. They signed a recording contract in 1961, and changed their name to “The Spotnicks”, a play on the Russian satellite Sputnik as suggested by their manager, Roland Ferneborg. Starander was later known as Bob Lander.
January 22, 2017 – Peter Overend Watts was born in the Yardley neighborhood of Birmingham, England on 13 May, 1947.
Watts began playing the guitar at the age of 13 and by 1965, he had switched to bass guitar and became a professional musician. Watts attended Ross Grammar School in 1963 and met his lifelong friend Dale Griffin aka Buffin and they played in local bands together such as The Anchors, Wild Dogs Hellhounds and The Silence when they met a rival band The Buddies who had Mick Ralphs and Stan Tippins as members and they collectively formed The Doc Thomas Group. Changes to that line-up occurred in 1968 and keyboard player Verden Allen joined and they changed their name to The Shakedown Sound.
In 1969 they all moved to London and came to the attention of record producer Guy Stevens who auditioned Ian Hunter and appointed him as their lead singer instead of Tippins and Mott The Hoople was formed. Watts was instrumental in getting David Bowie to write a song for the band and initially was offered the song “Suffragette City” which he turned down before David wrote especially for the band their now anthem “All The Young Dudes”. Mott The Hoople quickly built up a fearsome reputation as a dynamic live attraction playing gloriously ragged rock’n’roll and much of the group’s raw energy emanated from the bands propulsive engine room: the thunderous rhythm section of Overend and Dale. Visually the band also stood out and it was hard not to notice Watts in his thigh high platform boots, silver hair with a custom made bass guitar in the shape of a swallow!Continue reading Peter Overend Watts 1/2017
January 16, 2017 – Steve Wright (Greg Kihn Band) was born in El Cerrito California in 1950.
Wright had played in a band called Traumatic Experience with El Cerrito residents John Cuniberti and Jimmy Thorsen.
After changing their name to Hades Blues Works (later, Hades) they expanded into a quartet with Craig Ferreira in 1970
In 1975 Greg Kihn had already signed to Berserkley Records and had a song included on the album Beserkley Chartbusters before entering the studio to record the debut album with a new band consisting of Wright, Robbie Dunbar and Larry Lynch – the Greg Kihn Band.
2015 – “Lemmy” Ian Fraser Kilmister was born on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1945 in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. When Lemmy was three months old, his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain, separated from his mother. His mother and grandmother moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, then to Madeley. When Lemmy was 10, his mother married former footballer George Willis, who already had two older children from a previous marriage, Patricia and Tony, with whom Lemmy did not get along.
The family moved to a farm in Benllech on Anglesey, with Lemmy later commenting on his time there, that “funnily enough, being the only English kid among 700 Welsh ones didn’t make for the happiest time, but it was interesting from an anthropological point of view.” He attended Sir Thomas Jones’ School in Amlwich, where he was nicknamed Lemmy. It was later suggested by some that the name originated from the phrase “lemmy [lend me] a quid till Friday” because of his alleged habit of borrowing money from people to play slot machines, although Lemmy himself claimed that he didn’t know the origin of the name. He soon started to show an interest in rock and roll music, girls and horses.
By the time he left school his family had moved to Conwy, still in northern Wales. There he worked at menial jobs including one in the local Hotpoint electric appliance factory, while also playing guitar for local bands, such as the Sundowners, and spending time at a horse-riding school.
Lemmy saw the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club when he was 16, and then learned to play along on guitar to their first album Please Please Me. He also admired the sarcastic attitude of the group, particularly that of John Lennon.
At the age of 17 he met a holidaying girl called Cathy. He followed her to Stockport, where she eventually had his son Sean, who was put up for adoption. In the 2010 documentary film Lemmy, Lemmy mentions having a son whose mother has only recently “found him” and “hadn’t got the heart to tell him who his father was”, indicating the boy – perhaps Sean – was given up for adoption.
He spread his wings with a band called The Rockin’ Vickers, who released three singles and rocked the Manchester music scene while dressed in clerical gear. Lemmy moved to London in search of fame and fortune, where he had a stint as a roadie with Jimi Hendrix and the Nice and briefly played in progressive rock band Opal Butterfly.
In 1972 he was recruited as bassist for the space-rock band Hawkwind, despite having played only rhythm guitar before. He sang lead on their hit “Silver Machine“. “It sounded like Captain Kirk reading Blowing in the Wind,” Lemmy later recalled. “They tried everybody singing it except me. Then, as a last shot they said, ‘Try Lemmy.’ And I did it in one take or two.”
Lemmy’s tenure with Hawkwind ended abruptly when he was busted for drug possession on a tour of Canada in 1975.
He later claimed that his dismissal was due to ‘pharmaceutical differences’, his preference for amphetamines being in stark contrast to the rest of Hawkwind’s love of more hallucinogenic substances. After his departure from Hawkwind he founded Motörhead as lead singer, bassist, songwriter and frontman. Despite the falling-out, Lemmy had fond memories of his time with the band. “In Hawkwind I became a good bass player,” he told Classic Rock magazine in 2012. “It was where I learned I was good at something.”
Lemmy decided to form his own band, “so that no-one can fire me again“, and adopted the name Bastard, until it was gently pointed out that he would be unlikely to get a gig on Top of the Pops. Instead he changed it to Motorhead, US slang for someone who takes speed and also the title of the last song he had penned for Hawkwind.
From early on he was clear about exactly which musical direction the band would take.
“Very basic music – loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speed-freak rock n roll. It will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die”.
The beginnings of the band were not auspicious. Lemmy claimed they were so badly off they had to steal equipment and they practiced in a disused furniture warehouse. They recorded some tracks for the United Artists label but the company thought they were so bad they refused to release them.
In the first of what would be a series of personnel changes, Lemmy fired drummer Lucas Fox and replaced him with Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. He later replaced guitarist Larry Wallis with “Fast” Eddie Clarke, completing what many fans consider to be the definitive Motorhead line up.
By 1977 the band were so disillusioned they agreed to split and put on a farewell show at The Marquee in London.
It became a turning point when a record producer at the gig offered them enough studio time to record a single.
Instead the band laid down 13 tracks that formed their first album, entitled Motorhead, which reached No 43 in the UK charts. It’s probably the only rock album with the word “parallelogram” in the lyrics.
Lemmy’s guttural vocals appealed to the fans and the punk influences in their blistering music tapped into the fast-changing music scene in the UK. Indeed Motorhead collaborated with punk outfit The Damned on a few occasions.
It marked the start of the band’s most successful period, which peaked with the release of their fourth album, Ace of Spades, in 1980. The thunderous title track became the band’s definitive anthem and appearances on Top of the Pops helped it stay in the UK charts for 12 weeks. During the following three decades the band released no fewer than 17 further albums.
Lemmy stuck with the music formula of fast, driving rock that he’d adopted at the band’s inception.
Despite a horde of imitators he also rejected any notion that Motorhead were a metal band, insisting that what they played was pure rock and roll.
Lemmy never made any secret of his drug and alcohol intake, which, while prodigious over the years, never seemed to sap his appetite for recording and playing. In 2005 he was invited to address the Welsh assembly on the perils of drug-taking, and took the opportunity to call for the legalization of heroin to remove the drug dealer from society.
In the same year Motorhead picked up a Grammy for their cover of Metallica’s Whiplash. “It’s about bloody time,” was Lemmy’s response. “Nobody deserves it more, although I’m too modest to say it.”
Aside from his musical skills, Lemmy was well known for his hard living lifestyle and regular consumption of alcohol and amphetamines. Lemmy was also noted for his collection of Nazi memorabilia and use of Nazi symbolism, although he stated that he did not support Nazi ideals.
One of the band’s last performances was a storming set at Glastonbury.
On a 1988 tour of Finland, Lemmy was asked by one journalist why he had kept going for so long.
“We’re still here,” he replied, “because we should have died a long time ago but we didn’t.”
Lemmy died from cancer on December 28, 2015 at the age of 70.
August 25, 2011 – Laurie McAllister was born Laurie Hoyt on June 26, 1957 in Eugene Oregon.
Laurie McAllistar was a bassist who is perhaps best remembered for being the last one to play in the influential 1970s all-girl rock band, the Runaways. McAllister landed in Hollywood in her early twenties where she played in such local punk outfits as the Rave Ons and Baby Roulette. In November 1978, McAllister was asked to join the Runaways (replacing Vickie Blue for health reasons as it was reported), whose line-up at the time was Joan Jett, Cherie Curie, and Sandy West. Laurie was referred to the band by her neighbor, Duane Hitchings, who played keyboards on And Now… The Runaways. Continue reading Laurie McAllister 8/2011
June 27, 2002 – John Alec Entwistle (The Who)was born on 9 October 1944 in Chiswick, a suburb of London, England. During his life he became famous as an English musician, songwriter, singer, film and music producer, who was best known as the original bass guitarist for the English rock band The Who. He was the only member of the band to have formal musical training. His aggressive lead sound influenced many rock bass players as he made himself immortal with the bass solo on their smash hit “My Generation”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Who in 1990.
Entwistle’s instrumental approach used pentatonic lead lines, and a then-unusual treble-rich sound (“full treble, full volume”) created by roundwound RotoSound steel bass strings. He was nicknamed “The Ox” and “Thunderfingers,” the latter because his digits became a blur across the four-string fretboard.
In 2011, he was voted the greatest bassist of all time in a Rolling Stone reader’s poll. According to the The Biography Channel, Entwistle is considered by many to be the best rock and roll bass guitarist that ever lived, and considered to have done for the bass what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar.
His musical career began aged 7, when he started piano lessons. He did not enjoy the experience and after joining Acton County Grammar School aged 11, switched to the trumpet, moving to French horn when he joined the Middlesex School’s Symphony Orchestra. He met Pete Townshend in the second year of school, and the two formed a trad jazz band, The Confederates. The group only played one gig together, before they decided that rock ‘n’ roll was a more attractive prospect. Entwistle, in particular, was having difficulty hearing his trumpet with bands, and decided to switch to playing guitar, but due to his large fingers, and also his fondness for the low guitar tones of Duane Eddy, he decided to take up the bass.
He made his own instrument at home, and soon attracted the attention of Roger Daltrey, who had been the year above Entwistle at Acton County, but had since left to work in sheet metal. Daltrey was aware of Entwistle from school, and asked him to join as bassist for his band, The Detours.
After joining the Detours, Entwistle played a major role in encouraging Pete Townshend’s budding talent on the guitar, and insisting that Townshend be admitted into the band as well. Eventually, Roger Daltrey fired all the members of his band with the exception of Entwistle, Townshend and the drummer, Doug Sandom, a semi-pro player who was several years older than the others. Roger Daltrey relinquished the role of guitarist to Pete Townshend in 1963, instead becoming frontman and lead singer. The band considered several changes of name, and finally settling on the name The Who while Entwistle was still working as a tax clerk (temporarily performing as the High Numbers for 4 months in 1964). When the band decided that the blond Roger Daltrey needed to stand out more from the others, Entwistle dyed his naturally light brown hair black, and it remained so until the early 1980s.
Around 1963, Entwistle played in a London band called The Initials for a short while; the band split when a planned resident engagement in Spain fell through.
In 1967, Entwistle married his childhood sweetheart Alison Wise and bought a large semi-detached home in Acton, filling it with all sorts of extraordinary artefacts, ranging from suits of armour to a tarantula spider. His eccentricity and taste for the bizarre was to remain with him throughout his life, and when he finally moved out of the city in 1978, to Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire, his 17-bedroom mansion, Quarwood, resembled a museum. It also housed one of the largest guitar collections belonging to any rock musician.
Entwistle picked up two nicknames during his career as a musician. He was nicknamed “The Ox” because of his strong constitution and seeming ability to “Eat, drink or do more than the rest of them.” He was also later nicknamed “Thunderfingers”. Bill Wyman, bass guitarist for The Rolling Stones, described him as “the quietest man in private but the loudest man on stage”. Entwistle was one of the first to make use of Marshall stacks in an attempt to hear himself over the noise of his bandmates, who famously leapt and moved about on the stage, with Pete Townshend and Keith Moon smashing their instruments on numerous occasions (Moon even used explosives in his drum kit during one memorable television performance on the “Smother Brothers Comedy Hour”). Townshend later remarked that Entwistle started using Marshall amplification to hear himself over drummer Keith Moon’s rapid-fire drumming style, and Townshend himself also had to use them just to be heard over Entwistle. They both continued expanding and experimenting with their rigs, until they were both using twin stacks with new experimental prototype 200 watt amps, at a time when most bands used 50–100 watt amplifiers with single cabinets. All of this quickly gained The Who a reputation for being “the loudest band on the planet”, a point well proven when they famously reached 126 decibels at a 1976 concert in London, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest rock concert in history. The band had a strong influence at the time on their contemporaries’ choice of equipment, with Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience both following suit. Although they pioneered and directly contributed to the development of the “classic” Marshall sound (at this point their equipment was being built/tweaked to their personal specifications), they only used Marshall equipment for a couple of years. Entwistle eventually switched to using a Sound City rig, with Pete Townshend following suit later as well. Townshend points out that Jimi Hendrix, their new label mate, was influenced beyond just the band’s volume. Both Entwistle and Townshend had begun experimenting with feedback from the amplifiers in the mid-1960s, and Hendrix did not begin destroying his instruments until after he had witnessed The Who’s “auto-destructive art”.
Entwistle’s wry and sometimes dark sense of humour clashed at times with Pete Townshend’s more introspective, intellectual work. Although he wrote songs on every Who album except for Quadrophenia, he was frustrated at Townshend not allowing him to sing them himself. As he said, “I got a couple (of songs) on per album but my problem was that I wanted to sing the songs and not let Roger sing them.” This was a large part of the reason that he became the first member of the band to release a solo record, Smash Your Head Against the Wall (1971) with help from Keith Moon (+), Jerry Shirley, Vivian Stanshall (+), Neil Innes and The Who’s Roadie Dave “Cyrano” Langston.
He was the only member of the band to have had formal musical training. In addition to bass guitar, he contributed backing vocals and performed on the French horn (heard on “Pictures of Lily”), trumpet, bugle, and jaw harp, and on some occasions lead vocalist on his own compositions. He layered several horns to create the brass section as heard on songs such as “5:15”, among others, while recording The Who’s studio albums, and for concerts, arranged a horn section to perform with the band.
While Entwistle was known for being the quietest member of The Who, he in fact often exerted major influences on the rest of the band. For instance, Entwistle was the first member of the band to wear a Union Jack waistcoat. This piece of clothing later became one of Pete Townshend’s signature garments.
Entwistle designed the cover art for the band’s 1975 album The Who By Numbers and in a 1996 interview remarked that it cost £30 to create while the Quadrophenia cover, designed by Pete Townshend, had cost £16,000.
Entwistle also experimented throughout his career with “Bi-amping,” where the high and low ends of the bass sound are sent through separate signal paths, allowing for more control over the output. At one point his rig became so loaded down with speaker cabinets and processing gear that it was dubbed “Little Manhattan,” in reference to the towering, skyscraper-like stacks, racks and blinking lights.
In 1971 Entwistle became the first member to release a solo album, Smash Your Head Against the Wall, which earned him a cult following in the US for fans of his brand of black humor. Other solo studio albums followed: Whistle Rymes (1972), Rigor Mortis Sets In (1973), Mad Dog (1975), Too Late the Hero (1981) and The Rock (1996). In 1974, he compiled Odds & Sods, a collection of unreleased Who material. The band was preoccupied with recording The Who By Numbers during the spring of 1975 and did not do any touring for most of the year, so Entwistle spent the summer performing solo concerts. He also fronted the John Entwistle Band on US club tours during the 1990s, and appeared with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band in 1995.
A talented artist, John Entwistle held regular exhibitions of his paintings, many of them featuring The Who.
In 1990, Entwistle toured with The Best, a short-lived supergroup which included Keith Emerson, Joe Walsh, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Simon Phillips. Towards the end of his career, he formed The John Entwistle Project with longtime friend, drummer Steve Luongo, and guitarist Mark Hitt, both formerly of Rat Race Choir. This evolved into “The John Entwistle Band”, with Godfrey Townsend replacing Mark Hitt on guitar and joining harmony vocals. In 1996, the band went on the “Left for Dead” tour with Alan St. Jon joining on keyboards. After Entwistle toured with The Who for Quadrophenia in 1996–97, the John Entwistle Band set off on the “Left for Dead – the Sequel” tour in late 1998, now with Gordon Cotten on keyboards. After this second venture, the band released an album of highlights from the tour, called Left for Live and a studio album Music from Van-Pires in 2000. The album featured lost demos of Who drummer Keith Moon together with newly recorded parts by the band. In 1995 Entwistle also toured and recorded with Ringo Starr in one of the incarnations of Ringo’s All-Starr Band. This one also featured Billy Preston, Randy Bachman, and Mark Farner. In this ensemble, he played and sang “Boris the Spider” as his Who showpiece, along with “My Wife”.
Toward the end of his career he used a Status Graphite Buzzard Bass, which he designed. From 1999 to early 2002, he played as part of The Who. Entwistle also played at Woodstock ’99, being the only performer there to have taken the stage at the original Woodstock. As a side project, he played bass in a country-rock album project of original songs called The Pioneers, with Mickey Wynne on lead guitar, Ron Magness on rhythm guitar and keyboards, Roy Michaels, Andre Beeka on vocals and John Delgado playing drums. The album was released on Voiceprint Records. Shortly before his death, John Entwistle had agreed to play some US dates with the band including Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, following his final upcoming tour with The Who.
In 2001, he played in Alan Parsons’ Beatles tribute show A Walk Down Abbey Road. The show also featured Ann Wilson of Heart, Todd Rundgren, David Pack of Ambrosia, Godfrey Townsend, Steve Luongo, and John Beck. That year he also played with The Who at The Concert for New York City. He also joined forces again with The John Entwistle Band for an 8-gig tour. This time Chris Clark played keyboards. In January–February 2002 John Entwistle played his last concerts with The Who in a handful of dates in England, the last being on 8 February at London’s Royal Albert Hall. In late 2002, an expanded 2-CD Left for Live Deluxe was released, highlighting the John Entwistle Band performances.
Entwistle died in Room 658 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on 27 June 2002, one day before the scheduled first show of The Who’s 2002 United States tour. He had gone to bed that night with a stripper/groupie, Alycen Rowse, who woke at 10 a.m. to find Entwistle cold and unresponsive. The Clark County medical examiner determined that his death was due to a heart attack induced by cocaine. His funeral was held at St Edward’s Church in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, England, on 10 July 2002. He was cremated and his ashes were buried privately. A memorial service was held on 24 October at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. Entwistle’s huge collection of guitars and basses was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London by his son, Christopher, to meet anticipated taxes on his father’s estate.
On Pete Townshend’s Web site, Townshend and Roger Daltrey published a tribute, saying, “The Ox has left the building — we’ve lost another great friend. Thanks for your support and love. Pete and Roger.”
Entwistle’s mansion in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds and some of his personal effects were later sold off to meet the demands of the Inland Revenue; coincidentally, he had worked for the agency from 1962-1963 as a tax officer before being demoted to filing clerk, prior to joining The Who.
One aspect of John Entwistle’s life emerged after his death that came as a surprise even to those closest to him, including the members of The Who. “It wasn’t until the day of his funeral that I discovered that he’d spent most of his life as a Freemason,” said Pete Townshend.
July 17, 1996 – Bryan James “Chas” Chandler (the Animals) was born in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne in Northumberland England on December 18, 1938.
After leaving school, he worked as a turner in the Tyneside shipyards. Having originally learned to play the guitar, he became the bass player with The Alan Price Trio in 1962. After Eric Burdon joined the band, the Alan Price Trio was renamed The Animals and became one of the most successful R&B bands ever.
The hulking bassist (Chandler stood six-foot-four) was on all of the Animals’ recordings from their first sides in 1963 through late 1966, when the nucleus of the original group disbanded.
Chandler’s bass lines were rarely given critical attention but some, including the opening riff of the group’s 1965 hit “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and “It’s my life” subsequently received praise. Chandler was also the most prominent of the group’s backing vocalists and did occasional songwriting with Burdon. In 1966, despite commercial success, Chandler became disillusioned with the lack of money, recalling that, “We toured non-stop for three years, doing 300 gigs a year and we hardly got a penny.”
However during his final tour with The Animals, Chandler was advised by Keith Richards’ girlfriend, Linda Keith, to go see an up-coming guitarist, Jimmy James, who was playing with the Blue Flames at the Cafe Wha in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Chandler was especially impressed by Jimmy James’s performance of the Tim Rose song “Hey Joe”, offered to be his manager and invited him to London. James asked Chandler if he could introduce him to Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, and his “Yes” clinched the deal. His move across the Atlantic was made possible with the help of Animals manager Michael Jeffery, who suggested that he revert to his actual name Jimi Hendrix, and later suggested naming the band the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In Britain, Chandler recruited bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell as the other members of the Experience.
His enthusiasm fueled Hendrix during the early days. While engineers such as Eddie Kramer, George Chkiantz, and Gary Kellgren were also important to capturing the Experience’s sound in the studio, Chandler was invaluable in helping to select and refine the material. Also he, unlike many producers, had been on the other side of the glass booth; his previous experience in the studio as a member of a top group no doubt helped earn Hendrix’s respect and prepare both of them for the challenge of making the best records possible.
He was also instrumental in introducing Hendrix to Eric Clapton. It was through this introduction that Hendrix was given the opportunity to play with Clapton and Cream on stage. It was Chandler’s idea for Hendrix to set his guitar on fire, which made national news when this idea was used at a concert at the Finsbury Astoria Theatre and subsequently at the Monterey Pop festival. Hendrix’s sound engineer Eddie Kramer later recalled that Chandler was very hands on with the first two Hendrix albums, adding that “he was his mentor and I think it was very necessary.”
Increasingly frustrated at Hendrix’s hectic lifestyle and progressively more time-consuming dallying in the studio, however, Chandler ended his association with the Experience in the middle of the Electric Lady land sessions in 1968, claiming they were self-indulgent. He left management services in the hands of Jeffery in the following year.
Chandler’s role in Hendrix’s career is soften underestimated by biographers, particularly those who insist on viewing Hendrix as a genius manipulated by virtually everyone around him. Chandler risked almost all of his resources to launch Hendrix’s career, funding the “Hey Joe” session before Hendrix had a contract, letting Hendrix live in his flat when the pair arrived in London, and even letting the guitarist use the flat for rehearsal at the outset.
Chandler kick-started Hendrix’s songwriting by insisting that Jimi write the B-side to “Hey Joe,” although Hendrix had written little or no songs previously and wanted to do a cover tune (Chandler also wanted to make sure Hendrix got some publishing royalties). Partially as a result of the books in Chandler’s apartment, particularly the science fiction ones, Hendrix’s lyrics took on a poetic and cosmic influence. Most importantly, Chandler was able, at least at first, to keep the Experience focused and productive in the studio. Had he been able to continue working with the group as he had in 1966 and 1967, there’s reason to believe that Hendrix’s final records, and indeed final years of his life, would have been more coherent and productive as well.
During the two year Hendrix era, Chandler also did a little production for the Soft Machine, another group in the Jeffery/Chandler stable. He produced the A-side of their first single (1967’s “Love Makes Sweet Music”) and co-produced their debut album in 1968 with Tom Wilson; Soft Machine bassist Kevin Ayers went on record with his dissatisfaction with that record’s production, although he targeted Wilson for most of the blame.
But Chandler’s major financial coup would be as producer, and eventually manager, of Slade, the glammy British hard rock group that was perennially on the British charts in the ’70s. Chandler had found the group after forming a production company with rock entrepreneur Robert Stigwood, who allowed Chandler to buy the management rights to the band for 5,000 pounds in 1972.
Chandler then managed and produced Slade for twelve years, during which they achieved six number one chart hits in the UK.
He then went on to manage and produce the English rock band Slade for twelve years. During this time, Chandler bought and ran IBC Studios, which he renamed Portland Recording Studios, after the studio address of 35 Portland Place, London and ran it for four years until he sold it to Don Arden.
In 1977, Chandler played and recorded with The Animals during a brief reunion and he joined them again for a further revival in 1983, at which point he sold his business interests, in order to concentrate on being a musician. During the early 1990s, he helped finance the development of Newcastle Arena, a ten-thousand seat sports and entertainment venue that opened in 1995.
Chandler died while undergoing tests related to an aortic aneurysm at Newcastle General Hospital on 17 July 1996, only days after performing his final solo show. He was 57.
When Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar, Chas Chandler was ready with the lighter fuel. When Slade were desperate for a new image, Chandler dressed the band up as skinheads.
When Chandler quit The Animals and swapped his caftan for a suit, he swiftly became one of the most respected and successful managers and producers of the rock age.
He discovered Jimi Hendrix, but it was his energy and commitment that helped turn a shy young American backing guitarist into a dynamic performer and a rock legend. Their mutual regard was based on trust and friendship. When their partnership eventually broke down, Chandler found it a bitter blow. But just before Hendrix died in September 1970, he called upon his old manager once more for help and guidance. Chas Chandler was a man that anxious artists knew they could trust.
July 12, 1996 – Jonathan David Melvoin (Prince, the Smashing Pumpkins) was born on December 6th 1961 in Los Angeles, California. He was the brother of twins Susannah and Wendy Melvoin of Prince and the Revolution, and son of Wrecking Crew musician Mike Melvoin. He first learned to play drums at the age of five and was described by friends and relatives as a musician who could play anything.
His parents divorced when he was 14, and he moved with his mother from California to New York City and eventually to Conway, N.H.
As keyboard player and drummer; he performed with many punk bands in the ’80s such as The Dickies, and also made musical contributions to many of Susannah and Wendy Melvoin projects, as well as Prince and the Revolution’s album “Around the World in a Day”.
He was also a member of The Family, a Prince side project which produced the original recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U” and made musical contributions to many Wendy & Lisa projects, as well as to Prince and the Revolution’s album Around the World in a Day. He also played drums on Do U Lie? from the 1986 Prince & the Revolution album Parade. At the time of his death he was the (already fired) touring keyboardist for The Smashing Pumpkins during their worldwide tour for the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
In 1994, Melvoin, who worked between gigs as an emergency medical technician, and his wife, Laura, bought a home in Kearsarge, N.H., and prepared for the birth of their son Jacob August in the spring of 1995.
On July 12, 1996 Melvoin died in New York City at age 34 from a potent mixture of alcohol and heroin (specifically a substance known as Red Rum) in Manhattan’s Regency Hotel. Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, present at the scene, tried but failed to revive him. There is much mystery and speculation about what actually took place. Chamberlin was allegedly advised by 9-1-1 operators to put Melvoin’s head in the shower in an attempt to revive him until paramedics arrived.
Melvoin was pronounced dead at the scene. Chamberlin was subsequently fired from the band and criminally charged. According to the band, there had been previous overdoses by both of them. Melvoin had already been fired, but was continuing to tour with The Smashing Pumpkins until the end of the tour leg. Melvoin’s replacement was Dennis Flemion of The Frogs. His last gig with the Pumpkins was at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.
The Smashing Pumpkins were not invited to Melvoin’s funeral. Several songs were inspired by his death, including the Sarah McLachlan song “Angel”, the Wendy & Lisa song “Jonathan” (as Girl Bros.), and Prince’s “The Love We Make” from the album Emancipation.
August 1994 – Kirsten Pfaff (Hole) One of the mourners at Kurt’s Seattle memorial was Kristen Pfaff, a member of Courtney Love’s band, Hole, and a former girlfriend of fellow member Eric Erlandson. Two months after Kurt’s death, in 1994, Pfaff died of a heroin overdose in the bath tub at her Seattle apartment, just like Jim Morrison. She was also 27, the third member of the Seattle music community to die at that age within a year.
Kristen Pfaff died on June 16, 1994, of an overdose of heroin. She was a bass guitarist and a founding member of the Minnesota group Janitor Joe, and more famously, Hole. She was 27 years and 21 days old at the time of her death.
Pfaff was classically trained in cello and piano when she formed her first band and learned to play bass guitar. Janitor Joe was a band in the grunge mode of Pacific Northwest bands, but was based in Minneapolis, where they rapidly became a must-see group on the local circuit. They had some success with their early recordings and were able to mount a national tour that garnered some press and critical attention.
At a show in California, Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson of Hole saw Kristen and decided they wanted her to play bass for their band. However, she was committed to her first band and refused the offer at that time. They were determined to have her in Hole based on her playing and her sultry, bad girl looks, and they kept up the courting process.
Ironically, it was Pfaff’s father who changed her mind about accepting Hole’s offer of a position. Norman Pfaff knew his daughter was talented and charismatic, and that playing bass with a nationally known band like Hole was a huge jump towards success. He told her that she would be missing a golden opportunity to record and tour at the level she deserved, and she listened to her dad. As much as she did not want to leave her home city, she eventually realized that he was probably right. She left for Seattle in 1993 and immediately started recording what would become the classic album “Live Through This” with Hole.
Life in Seattle suited a young beautiful and intelligent woman like Kristen. She and Erlandson became lovers and remained friends after splitting up a year later. She also became close friends with Kurt Cobain and other members of the exclusive grunge club in the home of the genre. Unfortunately, she adopted a habit that was fashionable in that crowd – heroin. Before coming west, she had only been a light drug user, like most people her age and in her subculture. But she took to it more heavily as an exile from her home town and a newcomer to fit in.
Recognizing she had a problem, she started a rehab program in late 1993. In the first part of the next year she went on tour with her old band Janitor Joe, and when she came back from the tour she was apparently clean and sober. Kurt Cobain’s death in April of 1994 was a shocker for Kristen, and she planned to retreat to Minneapolis and to her first band, leaving Hole and the Seattle scene behind.
But she didn’t leave soon enough, and the tentacles of the addiction reached out and smothered her with all of her good intentions. On the very day she had expected to get on a flight back to Minnesota, she was found dead in her place, surrounded by syringes and other paraphernalia needed to inject heroin. Her death was ruled accidental, due to “acute opiate intoxication.”
Strangely, while there was no evidence of foul play of of suicidal intent, Pfaff’s mother has never been able to accept the official account of her daughter’s death. She apparently alleges that there was a sinister connection between Cobain’s death and Kristen’s untimely end. Kristen Pfaff is buried in Buffalo New York, in the Forest Lawn Cemetery.
She died on June 16, 1994 at the tender age of 27.
September 21, 1987 – John Francis Anthony Pastorius III aka Jaco Pastorius changed the way the bass was played. Born in Pennsylvania on December 1, 1951, Jaco’s family moved south and he grew up in Fort Lauderdale, where he first took on the drums. Being a direct descendant of poet Francis Daniel Pastorius, who drafted the first protest against slavery in the US in 1688!, artistry ran in the family. His dad was a big band leader and singer.
During his formative years drums, like his dad, but a football injury made him move to bass. Upright bass at first but after his bass cracked because of the ocean front humidity in Florida he bought an electric bass.
He then played with visiting R&B and pop acts while still a teenager and built a reputation as a local legend, with his strutting, flamboyant performing style. His mastery of his fretless electric bass brought the rhythm section into the front line, demanding attention. His self titled debut solo album for Epic in 1976 is hailed by many to be the finest bass album ever recorded and his back up band included Herbie Hancock, Don Alias, Wayne Shorter, David Sanborn, Lenny White, and Michael Brecker among others, plus R&B singers Sam & Dave reunited to appear on the track “Come On, Come Over”.
Also by 1976, Jaco had been invited to join Weather Report, gradually becoming a third lead voice along with Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. As well as all this he was in constant demand as a sessionman and producer, playing on Ian Hunter, Joni Mitchell, Blood Sweat and Tears, Paul Bley, Bireli Lagrene and Ira Sullivan albums.
After Weather Report parted ways in early 1981 he toured and recorded with his own band. Among many honours and tributes, Jaco had two Grammy Award nominations for his self-titled debut album and won the readers poll for induction into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1988, one of only four bassists to be so honored, the others being Charles Mingus, Milt Hinton, and Ray Brown, and is the only electric bassist to receive this distinction.
Very tragically Jaco was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in late 1982 following his Word of Mouth tour of Japan, this along with alcohol abuse resulted in a deterioration in his health, leading to increasingly erratic and sometimes anti-social behavior
In the mid 1980s he was often living on the streets for weeks at a time. On Sept 11th 1987, after sneaking onstage at a Carlos Santana concert, he went to the Midnight Bottle Club in Wilton Manors, FL. After being refused entrance to the club, he was engaged in a violent confrontation with the club bouncer, Luc Havan. Jaco was hospitalized with multiple facial fractures, damage to his right eye, right arm, and had sustained irreversible brain damage. He fell into a coma and was put on life support; he died 10 days later on September 21, 1987. The club bouncer was arrested and sentenced to 22 months in jail with five years probation, but released after four months for good behavior.
Jaco Pastorius has been called “arguably the most important and ground-breaking electric bassist in history” and “perhaps the most influential electric bassist today”.William C Banfield, director of Africana Studies, Music and Society at Berklee College, describes Jaco as one of the few original American virtuosos who defined a musical movement, alongside Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Christian, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus and Wes Montgomery.