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...]

Sam Andrew of Big Brother dies

Guitarist Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company has died after a long career playing psychedelic rock. He was 73. "Ten weeks after his heart attack and the open-heart surgery that followed it, Sam lost his gallant fight to hold onto the life he lived so well," the band posted on its Facebook page. "... He lived his life in music and art and a loving marriage. It doesn't get much better than that." Andrew, who sang and wrote songs, was the guitar player for Janis Joplin for most of her career. He founded Big Brother with bass player Peter Albin in San Francisco in 1965. The band experimented with psychedelic music, led by the twin guitar attack of Andrew and James Gurley. Their bag of tricks during their tenure as house band at the Avalon Ballroom included an exhaustive … [Read more...]

Tangerine Dream’s Edgar Froese dies

Tangerine Dream founder Edgar Froese has died after a musical career exploring the possibilities of electronic sounds. He was 70. Froese "suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from the effects of a pulmonary embolism," Tangerine Dream said on its web site. " 'Edgar once said: "There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address,' " the band noted. Froese died Jan. 20 in Vienna. Froese was the sole sustaining member of the futuristic German band he started in 1967. It arrived in Berlin about the same time as rock music's adoption of the synthesizer. Froese previously played in a psychedelic band called the Ones, with Tangerine Dream adopting some of the dreamlike properties of the hippie-era bands he admired, such as the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd. Froese rejected … [Read more...]

Kim Fowley dies; L.A. record producer

Kim Fowley, a strange and prolific rock music producer known for his work with L.A. bands, has died at age 75. Fowley was best known for creating the all-female band the Runaways in the 1970s, but before that he was a key player on the Sunset Strip scene. Inevitably described as a Svengali, he also wrote songs and recorded albums under his own name. "He'd been everywhere, done everything, knew everybody," said Steve Van Zandt, his friend and boss at the satellite radio channel Underground Garage. Directly or indirectly, Fowley worked with the Mothers of Invention, the Byrds, the Seeds, Blue Cheer, Warren Zevon, Cat Stevens, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell, P.J. Proby, KISS and the Soft Machine. That's Fowley speaking in tongues on Frank Zappa's early psychedelic classic "Help, I’m a … [Read more...]

Joe Cocker dies; reimagined rock hits

Joe Cocker, a hero of Woodstock known for his emotional cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends," has died. The English singer died Dec. 22 of lung cancer, his agent reported. Cocker was 70. He first found success on the rock festival circuit of the late 1960s, with a powerful stage act captured in the movie "Woodstock." Cocker's March 1970 concerts at the Fillmore East resulted in the ragged but powerful "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" album, with musical direction by Leon Russell. It's considered one of the definitive live albums of the era. Cocker thrived beyond the days of underground rock, transforming himself into a singer of polished ballads. Easy listening hits included "You Are So Beautiful" and "Up Where We Belong." He released about 20 albums over the … [Read more...]

Jack Bruce, frontman for Cream, dies

Cream's Jack Bruce, a versatile and deeply creative rock singer and bassist, has died at age 71. The Scottish musician had long suffered with liver disease. He underwent a transplant in 2003 and recovered to do a widely praised series of reunion concerts with Cream bandmates Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. It was clear at those 2005 concerts -- in London and Manhattan -- that Cream was in many ways Bruce's band. While successful, those concerts were to be Cream's last, in part because of long-running animosity between Baker and drummer Baker. The shows were seen as a way to help Clapton's bandmates deal with their many medical expenses. Clapton said he heard of his ex-bandmate's death with "great sadness": "He was a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to … [Read more...]

Glenn Cornick of Jethro Tull dies

Glenn Cornick, bass player for the original Jethro Tull, has died at the age of 67. Cornick played on the Tull albums "This Was" (1968), "Stand Up" (1969) and "Benefit" (1970). "Always cheerful, he brought to the early stage performances of Tull a lively bravado both as a personality and a musician," band frontman Ian Anderson wrote in announcing the death on his web site. Cornick died of a heart attack at his home of Hilo, Hawaii, his family said. Before the formation of Jethro Tull, the bassist worked with Anderson in the Blackpool, England, blues outfit the John Evan Band. "His background in the beat groups of the north of England (such as the Executives) and his broad knowledge of music were always helpful in establishing the arrangements of the early Tull," Anderson … [Read more...]

Hendrix archivist Alan Douglas dies

Alan Douglas, who oversaw the second wave of posthumous Jimi Hendrix albums, has died at age 82. Douglas, a friend of Hendrix, recently co-created the book "Starting at Zero," which told the psychedelic guitarist's story in his own words. Douglas remains a controversial figure in Hendrix circles, mostly owing to liberties taken during production work on the posthumous releases “Crash Landing” and “Midnight Lightning.” His tenure with the Hendrix material lasted for about two decades, beginning in 1974. Before that, Douglas was a producer of some note whose credits included jazz albums with Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus ("Money Jungle"), John McLaughlin and Eric Dolphy. He worked with LSD guru Timothy Leary on a book and album (on which Hendrix contributed some licks) and … [Read more...]

Psychedelic artist Gary Grimshaw dies

Psychedelic poster artist Gary Grimshaw, whose designs applied muscular polish to the images of Detroit rock bands, has died at age 67. Grimshaw was closely identified with his pals the MC5, but also worked the psychedelic circuit for the Detroit Grande Ballroom, doing posters for gigs by Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Who and the Electric Prunes. His style often employed bold colors and thick legible type fonts, a contrast to the flowery images and byzantine typefaces popular in the San Francisco scene of the 1960s. Influences included comic books and the hotrod imagery of the era. Grimshaw's art remained in demand into the new century, with works including an iconic wheels-of-fire poster for R&B rockers the Detroit Cobras. The Vietnam War vet was a member of the White Panthers, a … [Read more...]

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