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...]

Gail Zappa dies; oversaw Frank’s legacy

Gail Zappa, a fierce and creative guardian of the legacy of her husband Frank Zappa, has died. She was 70. Gail Zappa died "peacefully at her home ... surrounded by her children," the Zappa family said in a statement. The cause of death reportedly was lung cancer. Frank Zappa died in 1993. Several months ago, Gail Zappa turned over day-to-day management of the Zappa Family Trust to her son Ahmet. Her other children with Frank Zappa are Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva. (Dweezil fronts the acclaimed tribute act Zappa Plays Zappa.) "Married to Frank Zappa at age 22, Gail was a doe-eyed, barefooted trailblazer, giving equal value to her domestic and professional responsibilities as matriarch of the family and overseer of all Zappa enterprises," the family's statement said. "Gail, … [Read more...]

Chris Squire dies; bass player for Yes

Chris Squire, the bass player for Yes who was a mainstay and founding member of the prog rock band, has died. He was 67. The British musician suffered from leukemia. Squire also co-wrote some of the band's top songs, including "I've Seen All Good People," "Yours Is No Disgrace" and "Owner of a Lonely Heart." His smooth yet propulsive bass playing drove songs like "Roundabout" and the band's workout on "America." While prog remains primarily a keyboard-driven genre, Squire enjoyed a high-profile role in Yes. At a time when most bassist were content to stay on "the root," Squire was unusually active. His work influenced generations of prog and jam-band bassists. "For the entirety of Yes's existence, Chris was the band’s linchpin and, in so many ways, the glue that held it … [Read more...]

Phil Austin of Firesign Theatre dies

Psychedelic-era comedian and surrealist Phil Austin of the Firesign Theatre has died. He was 74. Phil Proctor, a veteran of the stream-of-consciousness troupe, posted on its web site: "Nick Danger has left the office. "Our dear friend and Firesign Theatre partner for over 50 years succumbed to various forms of cancer early this morning at his home on Fox Island, Washington, with his wife Oona and their six beloved dogs at his side. It is a tremendous and unexpected loss, and we will miss him greatly; but in keeping with his wishes, there will be no public memorial. "Rest in Peace, Regnad Kcin." Austin's best-known character was the noir-inspired Nick Danger, Third Eye (or "Regnad Kcin" as seen from the inside of his office door). The Firesign Theatre made a series of … [Read more...]

Daevid Allen dies; ringmaster of Gong

Daevid Allen, the whimsical visionary behind the seminal prog rock act Gong, has died. He was 77. As a bandleader in the vein of Sun Ra, George Clinton and Frank Zappa, Allen lorded over a strange and imaginative musical universe, complete with its own LSD-fueled mythologies. Gong persisted over five decades with a changing cast of musicians and under variations on the band's name such as Planet Gong. "A communal thing," Allen said. Allen, a singer and guitarist, also is known for co-founding the Soft Machine, another progressive rock touchstone. Allen was born and died in Australia -- although the Soft Machine was a seminal act out of the scene in Canterbury, England, and Gong was formed in France. Both bands specialized in bold instrumental passages and were influenced … [Read more...]

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