THE MASS EXODUS I HAD FEARED SINCE CHILDHOOD IS HERE NOW!

Sorry folks, no photos of album covers or artists performing live in this blog. In fact, we are embracing the here and now, with a morose eye towards the future. I never thought I would be posting something like this, but in the light of recent events (read: the massive amount of influential musicians who are passing away at a pace none of us can keep up with), I really had no choice. This was a necessity above and beyond my ordinary macabre nature.

For me, I think it started with the death of Alan Myers, the original drummer for Devo. It was a severe blow when a short time later, his bandmate and co-founder of Devo, Robert Casale also (and most definitely unexpectedly) passed away.

Then the onslaught began.

I am listing only the musicians that find their way onto my radar. There are many, many more that have passed, in genres I don’t usually deal with. But this isn’t going to be a Who’s Who of Death. These are the artists that shaped my musical palate and fall within the genre that I report. There were many more deaths of lesser known artists so I won’t waste copy space with people you most likely won’t know or won’t have heard of. But they count towards the overall depression and sense of loss the music industry is experiencing.

Tim Williams, better know to Suicidal Tendencies fans as the bassist better known as Rawbiz. I know I haven’t covered any Suicidal Tendencies in this blog, but I do own some ST discs and I was with them from the very first album. You have to love a band that was discovered and mentored by Mike Nesmith of the Monkees.

Then the last remaining member of the NY punk dynasty The Ramones passed, Tommy Ramone, one of the originals. Again, I don’t report on Ramones usually, but they live in my collection and they live on in each and every punk lover’s heart.

Still another musician outside my genre yet within my collection is Korn’s touring guitarist Shane Gibson, at a mere age of 35 years old! He was most likely the replacement guitarist for Head, who went off to find “religion” only to return to the band later on. So much for “religion” being the way…

One of my wife’s preferred acts, Gwar, lost their lead singer and leader Dave “Oderous Urungus” Broke to a heroin overdose. I’m going to use this opportunity to get on my soapbox about heroin. I have NOTHING against drug use, so long as it is done for creative, recreational use. As Todd Rundgren said during an interview portion of the autobiographical video “The Ever Popular Tortured Effect“, he would take ‘psychedelics’ as a method to gain higher consciousness. Noble motive. However, there is no productive use for heroin. I’ve never done it, but I’ve been around junkies, and those who use for maintenance (before the formulation of Suboxone). One such example was the late Vince Welnick. (His death occurred in 2006, not from an overdose, but from his own hand!) He was thrown out of the Grateful Dead post Garcia band, The Other Ones. I could be wrong, I just don’t give a fuck about ANY of those groups! Mostly because their brand of “jam-band” music was monotonous, repetitive and lacked direction and arrangement. Just a bunch of stoners playing the same riff over and over so nine-fingers Garcia could solo over it. Over and over and over… Why did Welnick take his life? Because faggot Weir caught him “maintaining” on a tour bus and fired him from Welnick’s last connection to his good friend Garcia. You can ask anyone in either The Tubes or Todd Rundgren’s camp. They, as well as I, blame Weir for driving Welnick to end his own life in a manner that was brutal, graphic and final. I had the pleasure of meeting Welnick during the Tubes “Hoods From Outer Space” tour. He was intelligent, collected, and funny. Fuck, I miss that man, and his music. The Tubes, even with the amazing David Medd, will never be the same.

As I write this, Iggy Pop is on tour with members of Queens Of The Stone Age (Josh Homme, Troy “How ya doin'” Van Leeuwin, and Dean Fertita as well as Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders. The Homme helmed Iggy album “Post Pop Depression” is rumored to be his last, and with Homme’s help, that album just reached number one on the charts (a first for Iggy Pop). In true showman fashion, Pop claims to be retiring after this album, going out on top. Perhaps some of his motivation is that Iggy Pop lost his Stooges drummer, Scott Asheton. When one sees his contemporaries fall, it has to make one think “why am I abusing myself at this late age?” Iggy was champion at abusing himself on stage, cutting himself, throwing himself at things/people/places, and so on. Even though this is his last tour, last album, he is still giving his final audiences all he’s got.

One death in particular that really hit home, was the passing of Bob Casale (as was mentioned earlier). If that last name isn’t immediately recognizable, you may know him better as Bob 2 of Devo. Ordinarily I would go on as Devo are one of my favorite bands and did a tremendous amount of influencing, both of my music and the music of a band I rose to prominence with in my early days of local gigging. I will go into more detail about this situation in my upcoming review of Devo’s Something Else For Everybody CD.

Another smashing loss was that of Cream bassist Jack Bruce. I am not the biggest Cream/Clapton fan in the world (or at all). I did enjoy seeing Todd Rundgren play with Bruce on YouTube as they covered “Sunshine Of Your Love” complete with Rundgren sporting a replica of the famous Fool SG guitar. Bruce and Rundgren harmonized well. Such a shame.

For you blues aficionados, Johnny Winter’s passing at 70 must have been devastating. He and brother Edgar were such huge names in blues, rock and even prog rock (I classify “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter as prog, to each his own). We won’t see the likes of Johnny Winter again, ever.

Journeyman bassist Rick Rosas, who played the low end for many artists including Joe Walsh, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ron Wood. Lung disease at 65.

A virtual unknown yet having a distinct impact on popular music, guitarist Dick Wagner passed at age 71. If you’ve ever heard Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed”, you know Wagner’s talent. What I was surprised by, was that Wagner also worked with Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed. Perhaps the unsung hero of modern music.

Phil Everly of the Everly brothers also passed at age 74.

Survivor’s Jimi Jamison passed from a heart attack at age 63. He may have possessed the eye of the tiger, but even that couldn’t save him from a heart attack.

A King Crimson connection passed, bassist for Foreigner, Ed Gagliardi passed. In the founding incarnation of Foreigner, Ian McDonald from the earlier King Crimson was a member with Gagliardi. It’s easy to overlook Gagliardi, Foreigner may have been one of the first “rotating line-up” bands. Members come, member go. Just like people do.

Representing the folk genre, Pete Seeger passed. He was 94 years old. If anyone got their money’s worth out of life, it was Seeger.

Another Todd Rundgren connection (for me) was Bobby Womack. I first heard Womack on the Rundgren song “Want Of A Nail” which you can search on YouTube and find not only the studio version of the song, but also performed the duet on an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman. Both singers made the other sound better.

Renown songwriter Jesse Winchester passed, from cancer of the esophagus. Winchester gained some unwanted notoriety for moving to Canada to avoid the draft into the Vietnam war. He was 69.

Not that I was a fan of this band, but when your bass player is a large, coke-bottle-lensed bassist, you can’t help but remember the guy. Paul Goddard, of Atlanta Rhythm Section died of cancer at 68.

Again, not a fan of this band, and one of their biggest hits was a song about the Cherokee tribe, called “Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)”. From a band called Paul Revere and the Raiders, this was rather contradictory. Anyway, he passed at 76, natural causes.

One death I can’t figure out, and there is little information about it, would be the cause of death for Wayne Static of Static-X. He died in his sleep, at the age of 48. Who does that at that age?

Most notably, Yes founding bass player Chris Squire. If you never heard the raucous bass line from “Roundabout”, you are either too young or living under a rock. He and original Yes drummer Bill Bruford made for one of the tightest, most innovative rhythm sections in prog rock. My best memory about Squire is a tale told in Bruford’s autobiography about coming back from a late night gig in a very wintery European storm. As the members drove in one car on the way home, Squire volunteered to drive the band home as the other members were succumbing to tiredness. Bruford recalls being jarred from a mild sleep by the car being driven into a snow bank in the median of the road after Squire himself fell asleep at the wheel. Showed he was human even after all those superhuman bass parts he laid down.

Still, there is a guitar out there, who’s player passed on without her. That guitar is named Lucille, and if you don’t have the connection, that guitar gently weeps for the loss of B.B. King. The closest experience I have with King is going to his New York club to see the aforementioned Tubes. The club was small, the chairs at the tables were hard, uncomfortable and pain inducing. Made it hard to enjoy the Tubes which is tough to do.

While our next mini obituary is not a musician in her own right, Cynthia Lennon will always be a part of the Beatles legacy. No disrespect to her, but I refuse to take up a lot of space on anything Beatles.

While you may not know of this next player by name, he is important to this narrative and we will address that later. The player is Jeremy Brown and unless you already know who he is, I will leave this connection for later.

Twisted Sister drummer A.J. Pero passed on in 2015. The most I can come up with was that he was the third drummer, and it was rumored that one of the original drummers was from my home town, Scranton PA. Never got confirmation on that.

Andy Frasier of Free died a tragic death from both cancer and Aids at the age of 62. If you don’t know Free, think “Alright Now”.

Long Time Molly Hatchet drummer Bruce Crump passed at age 57.

And yet another Porcaro passed, this time Jeff Porcaro, who took over bass in Toto from David Hungate. He died from ALS.

Daevid Allen of Gong and Soft Machine died at the age of 77 from cancer.

One death that tugs at my heartstrings is the loss of Chris Rainbow, of Camel and Alan Parsons Project, who died at age 68. I have many fond memories of his work on my many Alan Parsons albums.

Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream passed at age 70 from a pulmonary embolism.

Then there was this one… Lemmy Kilmister. If you don’t know who Lemmy is, close this blog and go back to reading John Grisham novels. To familiarize those who aren’t in the know, one word: Motorhead!

This next one hit really close to home. I have all of this artist’s  albums. Carson Van Osten from a little group from the 60’s called The Nazz. Yup, that Nazz, the one with Todd Rundgren. Later on he went on to do animation for Disney. Double the talent, double the loss.

To head back to the listing for Jeremy Brown, Brown was the guitarist for the short-lived, post-Stone Temple Pilots band, The Wildabouts with Scott Weiland. Well, he and Weiland are reunited in whatever form of post death existence there may or may not be. Three guesses as to what killed Weiland…

A name you may not have heard, but you know his playing is Jimmy Greenspoon. OK, I’m right, you haven’t heard of him. I know you’ve heard his playing if you have heard any of Three Dog Night’s early hits. In fact, one of his keyboards was featured on an episode of Pawn Stars. Someone brought in a keyboard from TDN, and had to get it authenticated. Greenspoon died at 67 post cancer.

Drummer Dallas Taylor who drummed for Crosby Stills Nash & Young passed at 66. He spent his later years working as an addiction counselor. Even the most noble are still human/mortal.

On the topic of CSNY, Neil Young bassist Tim Drummond passed away at 74. He was also a contemporary of Bob Dylan. Proximity to fame won’t save anyone.

Session man Jeff Golub lent his talents to Billy Squire and Rod Stewart, as well as being a jazz band leader. He passed at the tender age of 59 (relatively speaking). He had been perennially sick.

As long as we are talking about spouses (Cynthia Lennon), we must note the passing of Gail Zappa, Frank’s one true love. They were together until he passed in the early 90’s (now THERE was a loss that devastated me, as my own brand of sick, twisto-music was often compared to Zappa’s). As far as Gail was concerned, they were never apart. She passed at 70 of lung cancer.
Oh yeah, one that almost skipped the radar was (and this won’t be popular by any stretch of the imagination) Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon, and frankly I couldn’t be happier. Yes, I HATED REO Speedwagon. It’s a good thing their lead singer, Kevin Cronin has a good sense of humor. That would be his redeeming feature, as his vocals were like nails on a chalkboard to me. His exaggerated Illinois accent on the vowel sounds… “Keup, oin Rulleen…”… It thrills me to no end that Cronin HAS to make appearances on cartoons as there will be no more REO Speedwagon without Richrath. They made enough music to keep me annoyed for the rest of my life.
I have to laugh or I will blow the world up…
For me, the biggest loss of recent history was Keith Emerson. The first album of serious music I ever owned was Emerson, Lake and Palmer (whose name sounded like an accounting firm, or a law firm…) and it was the Tarkus album. Big change from a kid who had previously been brought up on Beatles and Monkees. I would be headed down the long road of prog via pop music with tremendous forward momentum thanks to Keith Emerson’s acrobatics on the keyboard, and Carl Palmer’s staccato, rapid-fire drumming and Greg Lake’s lush voice (little did I know I would gravitate towards Lake’s other prog project, King Crimson, eventually). There was no illness associated with his passing at 71. He just did.
Being brought up on the Beatles, and already confessing a love of the music of Alan Parsons, I cannot bypass the death of George Martin. Most likely of natural causes, he was 90. But he has a different appeal to me other than being the sound master of Abbey Road. He gave an upstart Alan Parsons his shot at engineering for Stink Floyd (as you can tell, I don’t care for them as well) and the Beatles. If not engineering, tape operating or general assistant. If you see a young lad on the now infamous Beatles rooftop sessions in a black suit, black tie and orange shirt, that would be Parsons. He was that integral to the Beatles and the success of Abbey Road. The same is, of course, true of Martin.
Not a fan of the genre or the band, but again, this is another one of those artists who we’ve all heard, by force or by choice, Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire. Having read that, you immediately associate him with an event in your life. There has to be a time in your life when something memorable happened and Earth, Wind and Fire were playing in the background. White was that present in everyday life. In death, he entered rebirth at age 74. He had been struggling with Alzheimers since the latter part of the 1980’s.
Many people around me were shaken by the death of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane. I grew up hearing their music all though my childhood, and into adulthood as it happens. Kantner was in many incarnations of the Jefferson Airplane/Starship franchise, a key cog to all. He suffered multiple organ failure after a heart attack at age 74.
I have nothing for the Eagles other than the fact that I saw Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt live with Ringo Starr and The All Stars during the mid-eighties era. One of, if not the first incarnation of the All Stars. But much like Gary Richrath, I am grateful that Glen Frey is gone at 67 from a combination of arthritis, colitis and pneumonia. No more new/boring music from them!
But the most devastated, calculated and orchestrated death award has to go to David Bowie. He got his fatal diagnosis 18 months in advance, and kept it a secret (which is a bitch to do in the music industry) but informed enough colleagues to finish not only the Blackstar album, but it is rumored that he and long-time producer Tony Visconti have enough material for at least one more album to be released in the not too distant future (2017?) as well as making two (so far) videos from the Backstar LP (with the resurgence of vinyl, I feel comfortable saying LP again). Culturally, I think his death was the most universally felt. After all, we lost not only the sophisticated David, we also lost Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, as well as other personae he may have come up with. He just barely managed to reach 69. Appropriate!
 I have no real agenda other than to document the recent spate of affecting deaths to this music lover, specifically. I am not into the business of being a professional obituary writer, nor am I attempting to conjure sympathy, empathy, or any other “pathy”. I just feel as though each and every recent passing has touched me in some way, positive, neutral, negative, the above deceased artists have touched me in some fashion. I felt it would be inhumane to ignore these events, especially after the passing of Bowie. Bowie was the one who truly affected me. I had seen Bowie live, his Berlin trilogy (the three albums recorded within viewing distance of the now demolished Berlin wall, Low, Lodger, and the album whose title track is being covered by everyone, including the chap who recorded the lead guitar line, Robert Fripp, but in fairness, Fripp and Bowie collaborator Adrian Belew played it in the early 2000’s with King Crimson, that being Heroes) was a huge influence on me. It was his and Emerson’s passing that motivated me to scribe this tribute.
I guess I am obsessed with death, but I fear we are far from done losing people.
Parliament-Funkadelic and Talking Heads keyboardist Bernie Worrell has late stage lung cancer. He isn’t gone yet. But soon I fear. The same can be said for John Wetton, most known for his stint in the prog-pop band Asia, but closest to my heart would be his tenure in King Crimson. It is Wetton’s era in KC where I can start to enjoy them (it may also be newcomer Bill Bruford on drums, having defected from Jon Anderson’s Yes)! No, I hate In The Court Of The Crimson King! I don’t care what Pete Townsend had to say about it. I can’t stand it. That was before rappers started stealing the isolated vocal when Greg Lake sings the title. I feel the same way about all their albums until Wetton joined to take over to give it a less flighty madrigal vocal for the band. I now have to say I am a KC fan from 1974-2008 as those are the eras/configurations of KC I enjoy most. Weston and Belew vocals/eras. I might be biased as I got to meet both at Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live (independently of each other). I believe Wetton just underwent his eighth round of chemotherapy???
I am pulling for John and Bernie, you all should too! We are losing our true musical heroes! What will become of musical adoration for future generations? The musical titans are gone, all the future generations will have are shallow, pretty, talentless, pitch corrected, P.R.-hyped useless mouthpieces (that don’t sing) that break the laws, self-aggrandize, and impose their will on the mindless populous who think these computer generated wannabes are the true innovators of music.
Where would today’s “musicians” (computer users) be without the exploration of thinkers like Emerson, who could do the acrobatics without the quantize feature on a sequencing program! Or Bowie, who was one of the pioneers of androgyny! The LGBT movement wouldn’t be as far along as it is today, without Bowie utilizing transgender traits on some of his characters.
The sports equivalent to, what I am labeling as The Mass Exodus, would be a team who invests in their current roster with no heed to the farm systems, to use the baseball vernacular. Great artist after great artist is perishing with little to no hope of replacement. That isn’t just listed to the artists listed above, they are only the ones who shaped my ear, my taste, my preferences, but it includes all the greats we have lost from Jimi Hendrix up and through Bowie.
Our heroes are dying, and there are no replacements/equivalents to take their place. We’re doomed!

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