2011 has brought along some awesome music and some exciting new players to the scene. It has also come with its share of tragedies, and each loss represents a loss of creative contribution to an industry and a craft that we all love and respect. We at MXDWN feel that a tribute to the individuals and their legacy is in order as we look to the new year.
Cory Smoot (1977 – November 3, 2011) is remembered as GWAR guitarist, best known by his band alter-ego, Flattus Maximus. Smoot played the role of Flattus Maximus from 2002 until his death this year and out of respect for his passing, GWAR has officially retired the character.
Jani Lane (February 1, 1964 – August 11, 2011) was best known as the former lead-vocalist of 1980s hair-metal outfit, Warrant. Among Lane’s contributions are the smash hits “Cherry Pie” and “Heaven.” After Warrant, Lane went on to a solo career, and released Back Down to One in 2006.
Amy Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was known for her remarkable musical talent and her infamously destructive lifestyle. Her unique mix of jazz, R&B and soul earned her numerous awards, including 2006 Grammy Awards for Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Sylvia Robinson (March 6, 1936 – September 29, 2011) is remembered for her work on the Sugar Hill Gang’s hit “Rapper’s Delight. Along with her husband, Robinson founded Sugar Hill Records, which signed artists the likes of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
Jerry Leiber (April 25, 1933 – August 22, 2011) is best known as the co-writer of songs performed by Elvis Presley, The Drifters, Ben E. King, and others. Along with Mike Stoller, Leiber composed Presley’s “Hound Dog,” the duo’s first No. 1 hit. The Broadway musical “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” was based on their songs.
Hubert Sumlin (November 16, 1931 – December 4, 2011) is known for his skills as a jazz guitarist and contributions that helped to shape the sound of acts like Howlin’ Wolf. Though Sumlin did not receive much public recognition for his skills, he is revered by fellow jazz musicians, and was listed amongst the Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Bert Jansch (3 November 1943 – 5 October 2011) was a part of the mainstream 60s folk scene, and his 1965 release “Do You Hear Me Now” gained wide fame after Scottish folk singer Donovan‘s cover of it went No. 1 in the UK EP chart and No. 27 in the singles chart. He also the founding member of the British folk group Pentangle.
Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011) is widely regarded as one of the grandfathers of rap music. His work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and 80s and his onstage collaboration with musician Brian Jackson set jazz poetry against a backdrop of simple percussion, flute, and other instruments.
Clarence Clemons (January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011), also known as The Big Man, and was a prominent member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band where he played tenor saxophone. His hit Jackson Browne duet “You’re a Friend of Mine” became a hit single. Since then, he has collaborated with artists like Ringo Starr, The Grateful Dead and Aretha Franklin.
Don Kirschner (April 17, 1934 – January 17, 2011) helped to launch acts like Bruce Springsteen, The Monkees, The Ramones, Pink Floyd and Kiss to massive fame. His talent as a publisher and rock producer earned him the title “The Man With the Golden Ear.”
Phoebe Snow (July 17, 1950 – April 26, 2011) is known for her chart-topping 1975 track “Poetry Man.” After getting her start as a student/guitarist in the 1960s Greenwhich Village folk scene, Snow went on to an influential and critically acclaimed musical career.
Mikey Welsh (April 20, 1971 – October 8, 2011) is best remembered as the former bassist for the band Weezer. He made contributions to the hit songs “Island in the Sun” and “Hash Pipe.” After leaving Weezer, Welsh began work as a painter.