Tom Rapp of Pearls Before Swine dies

Tom Rapp of the 1960s psychedelic folk act Pearls Before Swine has died. He was 70. While Pearls Before Swine began as a band -- releasing the classic psych-folk album "One Nation Underground" -- the name evolved into a handle for singer-songwriter Rapp's projects. Rapp's early influences included Bob Dylan and, especially, the raggedy underground folk act the Fugs. Pearls Before Swine pitched the Fugs' label, ESP-Disk, via an early demo and succeeded in getting a record deal, albeit one that paid pretty much nothing. The Florida band traveled to New York in 1967 and began recording. "One Nation Underground," an early exercise in psychedelic folk tinged with garage rock, found success partly because of its creepy-crawly cover art taken from the hell panel of Hieronymus Bosch's … [Read more...]

Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues dies

Ray Thomas, a founding member of the Moody Blues, has died at age 76. The singer, songwriter and flute player "passed away suddenly" at his home in England, his label said. Thomas' compositions for the group included "Dear Diary," "Legend of a Mind," "Eternity Road," "And the Tide Rushes In," "Dr. Livingstone, I Presume" and "For My Lady." Thomas and the rest of the Moody Blues are to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. He retired from the group in 2002 due to health issues. Moody Blues bass player John Lodge tweeted Sunday: "Ray and I have been on this magical journey through life together since we were 14 ... two young kids from Birmingham who reached for the stars ... and we made it together." Thomas and keyboardist Mike Pinder formed the Moody Blues … [Read more...]

Can bassist Holger Czukay dies; sonic pioneer

German avant-garde musician Holger Czukay, best known for his work with the German band Can, has died. He was 79. Czukay, who studied for several years with composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, co-founded Can in 1968 after finding inspiration in the psychedelic music of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, as well as the experimental recordings of Frank Zappa. Can's music, often improvised and far from commercial, cast a vast influence over adventurous bands from the 1970s to the present day. Its music has been widely sampled and featured in movies big and small. Czukay also engineered most of Can's important recordings, notably "Tago Mago" and "Ege Bamyasi." Can's "Vitamin C" is perhaps its most enduring song, dominated by Czukay's bass and Jaki Liebezeit's drums. It figured prominently in … [Read more...]

Steppenwolf keyboardist Goldy McJohn dies

Goldy McJohn, keyboard player for the classic lineup of Steppenwolf, has died at age 72. McJohn's overamped Lowrey organ work drove Steppenwolf hits such as "Magic Carpet Ride," "Born to Be Wild" and "The Pusher." He played on the band's first seven albums. McJohn co-founded Steppenwolf with singer John Kay in 1967. The band moved from Toronto to Southern California, where it found success as one of the heavier acts of the psychedelic era. Steppenwolf came to fame as the organ was featured in a number of successful rock bands, most of them British. McJohn was considered one of the best keyboard men on the psychedelic music scene. "When I listen to my old stuff, I think, 'Who the fuck is playing the keyboard,'" he said in 2011. The keyboard player's other bands included the … [Read more...]

John Wetton dies; King Crimson veteran

Prog rocker John Wetton, a veteran of the classic early 1970s lineup of King Crimson, has died at age 67. Wetton, a singer and bassist, also is known for his role in the bands Asia and U.K. He also worked with Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Family and Wishbone Ash. With King Crimson, Wetton performed on the albums "Larks' Tongues in Aspic," "Starless and Bible Black" and "Red" -- all considered prog classics and among the band's best albums. The lineup drew on Eastern European influences and was known for instrumental improvisation. Frontman Wetton collaborated on songs for the "Red" era King Crimson with his friend Richard Palmer-James. King Crimson leader Robert Fripp compared the loud and heavy playing style of Wetton and drummer Bill Bruford to "a flying brick wall." That version of … [Read more...]

Keith Emerson of ELP, the Nice dies

Keyboardist Keith Emerson, whose work with the Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer linked modern rock with centuries of classical music, has died. He was 71. The progressive rock star reportedly died of a single gunshot wound to his head, which police said appeared to be self-inflicted. He was found at his home in Santa Monica, California. "We ask that the family's privacy and grief be respected," the band wrote in confirming news of Emerson's death. Bandmate Carl Palmer said Emerson "was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come." Emerson, Lake & Palmer was one of the top arena-rock acts of the early 1970s, releasing the key progressive rock albums "Tarkus" and "Brain Salad Surgery." While … [Read more...]

Beatles producer George Martin dies

George Martin, the producer credited with turning the Beatles into the world's biggest and most respected rock band, has died. He was 90. His death leaves alive only two of the five creative forces behind the Beatles' remarkable string of singles and albums: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Martin frequently was cited as the "fifth Beatle," an honor he said he didn't deserve. Starr tweeted the news of Martin's death late March 8: "God bless George Martin. ... George will be missed." In addition to the Beatles, Martin worked with many successful British acts, including Jeff Beck, Elton John, Cilia Black, Wings, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. He reteamed with McCartney on three of his solo albums. Martin was credited with 23 No. 1 … [Read more...]

Dan Hicks dies; swing-music hipster

Dan Hicks, a pioneer of the San Francisco sound who went on to bring swing music to new generations of hipsters, has died at age 74. He fronted Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, which he formed in 1967 with violinist David LaFlamme of It's a Beautiful Day Fame. Before that, Hicks was a member of the Charlatans, a San Francisco band whose extended residency at the Red Dog Saloon has been called a seminal event in the history of psychedelic rock. Although Hicks came out of the Bay Area's rock scene, he rarely played rock. He liked to call his sound "folk swing" and "folk jazz." The Hot Licks repertoire includes a psychedelic folk classic, the haunting violin showcase "I Scare Myself." Hicks had suffered from liver cancer, which he revealed to fans upon canceling a string of concert … [Read more...]

Signe Anderson of Jefferson Airplane dies

Signe Anderson, the original female singer in Jefferson Airplane, has died at age 74. Anderson, who sang with bands in Oregon over the years, had suffered from longtime health problems. Her passing of a heart condition in Beaverton, Oregon, came Jan. 28, the same day as the death of Airplane leader Paul Kantner. "One sweet Lady has passed on," Jefferson Airplane cofounder Marty Balin posted as the news broke. "I imagine that she and Paul woke up in heaven and said 'Hey what are you doing here? Let's start a band.'" Anderson sang on the first Jefferson Airplane album, "Takes Off." The album included her best-known song, "Chauffeur Blues." The singer, a new mother, found the road intolerable and decided to leave Jefferson Airplane in late 1966. Her final performances were at the … [Read more...]

Giorgio Gomelsky dies; Yardbirds producer

Giorgio Gomelsky, the rock music impresario and producer who played key roles in the careers of the Yardbirds and Gong, has died. He was 81. Gomelsky owned the underground Crawdaddy Club in London, where he featured the young Rolling Stones. He managed the Stones briefly, and then took the Yardbirds under his wing. Gomelsky produced the Yardbirds' early albums "Five Live Yardbirds," "For Your Love" and "Having a Rave Up." Bill Wyman has credited scene-maker Gomelsky with introducing the Beatles and Stones. Eric Clapton said he gave him the nickname "Slowhand." Gomelsky, who was born in the country of Georgia and raised in Switzerland, died of complications from cancer in New York on Jan. 13. Other musical associations included Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity; … [Read more...]

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