Let’s take a moment to remember the titans of music that have left us this year. It may be just about time to usher in a new year of neglected gym-memberships and half-hearted promises, but it’s also arguably the best time of year to reflect on the events that took us here. This list of departed heroes is by no means comprehensive, but is mxdwn’s way of acknowledging some of the people involved in the shaping of the music of today and tomorrow.
Yusef Lateef (October 9, 1920 – December 23, 2013)
Composer, multi-instrumentalist, author, and renaissance man. Originally a jazz saxophonist, Lateef innovated, blending American and eastern music. “Yusef Lateef’s Little Symphony”, on which he played every instrument, won him a New Age Music Grammy in 1988, although he later confessed to not knowing what New Age Music was.
Lord Infamous (November 17, 1973 – December 20, 2013)
The dark heart of the Three 6 Mafia. Lord Infamous was on board with the Southern hip-hop groundbreakers from the very start, making a name for himself with gritty vocals and a horrorcore hook to his lyrics.
Ray Price (January 12, 1926 – December 16, 2013)
Known for his gorgeous, lilting baritone, Price was one of the true focal points of country music. His occasionally rhinestoned shoulders rubbed against those of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and countless other country greats. Nashville isn’t forgetting this name anytime soon.
Jim Hall (December 4, 1930 – December 10, 2013)
A legendary American jazz guitarist. Hall composed, played, taught, and worked with the very best the scene had to offer. Revered as a virtuoso composer, Hall was one of the rare musicians that found new depth with each and every leg of his long career.
Junior Murvin (circa 1946 – 2 December 2013)
Jamaican reggae crooner Junior Murvin was best known for the international hit “Police and Thieves”. Some of his later work took him touring with the Jah Postles, a top Jamaican band of the day.
Bernard Parmegiani (27 October 1927 − 21 November 2013)
Parmegiani will be remembered as a formidable, ambitious force in the field of electronic music. A qualified sound engineer, film scorer, composer and…mime, Parmegiani blazed a trail followed by latter day mad musical scientists such as Aphex Twin.
Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)
One of the true members of rock royalty. Reed famously cut his teeth with The Velvet Underground alongside John Cale, Andy Warhol, and Nico. However, Reed continued long after The Velvet Underground was dust. His solo career spanned four decades and well over twenty albums, including the 1972 blockbuster Transformer.
Jan Kuehnemund (November 18, 1961 – October 10, 2013)
Singer, guitarist, and founding member of the glam metal outfit Vixen. Instantly recognizable for their all-female lineup, Vixen toured with the crème de la crème of hard rock bands, among them The Scorpions and Bon Jovi.
Philip Chevron (17 June 1957 – 8 October 2013)
Long recognized as one of the biggest names in Irish punk music, Chevron first found popularity as guitarist for the Pogues, a mercurial but highly respected Celtic rock outfit. Later endeavours saw him found The Radiators, and take on an active role as the public face of the Pogues.
Ray Dolby (January 18, 1933 – September 12, 2013)
The founder of the company that bears his name – Dolby’s groundbreaking work in noise reduction and his role in the creation of the video tape recorder placed his name on the Forbes 400, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and an Academy Award to boot.
Allen Lanier (June 25, 1946 – August 14, 2013)
An original Blue Öyster Cultist. Lanier played keyboard and rhythm guitar for the famed hard rock outfit. He also contributed to work by artists including The Clash, Patti Smith, and The Dictators.
George Duke (January 12, 1946 – August 5, 2013)
Despite a storied solo career, and numerous collaborations, many readers might best recognize Duke from other artist’s work. Daft Punk, Kanye West, MF Doom, and many others have sampled songs from Duke’s infectious collection.
Trevor Bolder (9 June 1950 – 21 May 2013)
British bassist best known for his work with The Spiders from Mars, David Bowie’s backing band, and Uriah Heep, one of the most influential hard rock bands of the 70’s. Later life found him working both as a musician and producer.
Ray Manzarek (February 12, 1939 – May 20, 2013)
One half of the founding fathers of the Doors – the other being Jim Morrison. Manzarek’s keyboard quickly became a signature component of the group’s sound. Later work included production, movie direction, and a collaboration with Skrillex.
Jeff Hanneman (January 31, 1964 – May 2, 2013)
Principle creative force behind the monster that was Slayer, his stupidly fast riffs captured all of the evil and aggression for which the group is known. Fascination with Nazi memorabilia aside, Hanneman remains the melodic god of thrash, which he remade in his own image.
George Jones (September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013)
A man of many names and titles, some of which included: Thumper Jones, The greatest living country singer, No Show Jones, and The Possum. Jones had a long and prolific career during which he lent his distinctive voice and tone to well over 150 hits, including his iconic “White Lightning”.
Cordell “Boogie” Mosson (October 16, 1952 – April 18, 2013)
Though not as well known as Bootsy Collins, Mosson made hefty contributions to multiple albums by both Parliament and Funkadelic, later joining as touring bassist after Collins’ departure. His involvement with the collective continued right up to his death.
Richie Havens (January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013)
Woodstock’s opening act played a nearly three hour long set which ended with an improvised encore after he ran out of songs. Havens covered much ground in his lengthy career, material which ranged from folk to soul to pop. According to his wishes, his ashes were spread over the site of Woodstock on the 44th anniversary of the festival’s final day.
Chi Cheng (July 15, 1970 – April 13, 2013)
Cheng was most well known for his role as the bassist for Deftones, but was also a talented poet and spoken-word artist. He released a spoken-word CD based off of his poetry anthology The Bamboo Parachute in 2000, the proceeds of which went to local charities and towards buying instruments for children in the Sacramento area. Cheng was in a tragic auto collision in 2008 which left him in a semi-comatose state for the past four years. Despite support from the music community and gradual signs of improvement, he died of cardiac arrest in April.
Richard Street (October 5, 1942 – February 27, 2013)
Prominent soul and R&B singer known for his time with the Temptations (for which he was the first member to actually hail from Detroit). Songs from the group which featured his lead vocals include “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)”, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, “Masterpiece” and “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)”.
Damon Harris (July 17, 1950 – February 18, 2013)
The youngest member of the Temptations got his start singing in a Temptations tribute band and was a mere twenty years old when he started doing the real thing. Harris’ legacy includes founding the Damon Harris Cancer Foundation whose purpose is to increase awareness of prostate cancer treatment and diagnoses, especially among African-American men for whom chances of diagnosis are significantly higher than they are for white men.
Chrissy Amphlett (October 25, 1959 – April 21, 2013)
Frontwoman for the Divinyls, Amphlett also had success as an actress in both film and musicals. Amphlett died after a long battle with multiple sclerosis (which she announced in 2007) and breast cancer (which she announced in 2010).
Alan Myers (1955 – June 24, 2013)
Myers made his mark as Devo’s human metronome from 1976 through 1986, widely regarded as the group’s heyday. Though his time-keeping abilities were highly prized by bandmates, he ended up leaving the group after electronic drum machines encroached too far upon his territory.
Slim Whitman (January 20, 1923 – June 19, 2013)
Country singer, song-writer and yodeler with an astounding three octaves of falsetto range. Whitman, like so many American acts, found great success abroad than at home with his “countrypolitan” brand of laid-back country. Younger audiences will likely remember him for his rendition of “Indian Love Call” which was used to detonate martian heads in Mars Attacks!.
Joey Covington (June 27, 1945 – June 4, 2013)
A tremendously active drummer most known for his work with Jefferson Airplane, Electric Hot Tuna, and Jefferson Starship. Covington learned to play the skins at an early age and was gigging professionally by his early teens before moving to NYC and then LA. He continued to stay active musically throughout his life and was known for making appearances at charitable events.
Chris Kelly (August 11, 1978–May 1, 2013)
Discovered in a shopping mall at age 13, Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly and Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith formed the rap duo Kris Kross. Though their appeal did not age with them, the pair made a huge impact with the recording of their debut Totally Krossed Out and the “Rugrats Rap”.
Paul Williams (May 19, 1948 – March 27, 2013)
Creator of Crawdaddy!, self-described as “the first magazine to take rock and roll seriously.” Williams’ role as a music journalist and author paved the way for other publications such as Rolling Stone and Creem, making a niche for other rock and roll journalists. He was also noted for his friendship with sci-fi luminary Philip K. Dick, acting as literary executor for several years after Dick’s passing.
Robert Zildjian (July 14, 1923 – March 28, 2013)
After his father’s passing, Avedis Zildjian III of Zildjian cymbals, Robert struck out on his own to create Sabian Cymbals, now the second largest cymbal manufacturer in the world (after Zildjian, which was taken over by his brother Armand). Zildjian leaves behind a legacy of high quality cymbals preferred by artists such as Mike Portnoy and Neil Peart.
Jason Molina (December 30, 1973 – March 16, 2013)
Jason Molina had a prolific career as a singer-songwriter and musician during which he cultivated a label-resistant genre of his own that was somewhere between indie, folk and alt-country. Ever the constant factor in his band Songs: Ohia, which then transformed into Magnolia Electric Co., Molina also collaborated with Will Johnson for an album.
Clive Burr (March 8, 1957 – March 12, 2013)
Burr is primarily known as the drummer for Iron Maiden’s first three albums, 1982’s The Number of The Beast being his last with the group. He afterwards performed with groups such as Alcatraz, Elixir and Praying Mantis. Clive is widely admired for his distinctive drumming on the early Maiden albums and his contributions to the NWOBHM movement.
Alvin Lee (December 19, 1944 – March 6, 2013)
The fastest guitarist at Woodstock left an indelible mark with guitarists, spurring on the later shred-style of technique obsessed acolytes. Lee is primarily known as the vocalist and guitarist for the pop/rock group Ten Years After with whom he worked with throughout the late sixties and early seventies. His career continued well after leaving Ten Years After, leaving behind a total catalog of more than 20 albums.
Reg Presley (June 12, 1941 – February 4, 2013)
Song-writer and frontman for the 60’s rock group The Troggs, Presley is widely remembered for their hit “Wild Thing”. Though he is most recently associated with his book The Things They Don’t Tell Us, a study of alchemy, alien spacecraft, lost civilizations and the like, Presely’s contributions while with The Troggs are widely interpreted and praised as some of the finest in proto-Punk.
Benjamin Curtis (September 23, 1978 – December 29, 2013)
Mutli-instrumentalist, vocalist and song-writer known for his contributions to The Secret Machines, School of Seven Bells, and UFOFU (all of which he co-founded). Curtis passed away at age 35, nearly a year after being diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma despite fund-raising concerts and campaigns by friends to support his treatment.