Sunday, October 6, 2019

Ginger Baker dead at 80

Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker
August 19, 1939 - October 6, 2019

Drummer Ginger Baker, best known as one third of Cream, died today. The news comes one week after Baker's family announced that the drummer was "critically ill" in the hospital. While it was reported that Baker was "hold his own" days later, Baker eventually passed away. Baker was 80 years old. 

Born in Lewisham, South London, Baker earned his nickname Ginger given the red color of his hair. While athletic as a child, Baker took up drumming when he was 15 years old- taking lessons from British jazz drummer Phil Seamen. By 1963, he was a member of the Graham Bond Organisation- an R&B/jazz/rock band.  The bassist for GBO was Jack Bruce. In 1966, Baker and Bruce left the band- joining up with former Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton. Together, the three musicians formed Cream- with the name referring to the fact that they were the "cream of the crop." In their two years together, Cream would released four albums- Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967), Wheels of Fire (1968) and Goodbye (1969). The band would have hits with songs such as "I Feel Free," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Strange Brew" and "White Room." While the band would split in 1968, the trio would reunite in 1993 for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction and in May 2005 for a series of four shows at the Royal Albert Hall. This was followed by three gigs at the Madison Square Garden in October of that year. 

Following Cream, Baker was involved in various different projects. In 1969, he and Clapton joined up with Traffic's Steve Winwood and Family's Ric Grech. This became the short lived supergroup Blind Faith, who released only one album in August 1969. In the early 1970s, Baker formed another short lived band- Ginger Baker's Air Force. During the early1970s, Baker stayed away from rock music. Instead, Baker experimented with jazz fusion and Afrobeat. From 1971-73,  Baker spent time is Africa- which is documented in the Tony Palmer directed movie Ginger Baker in Africa. He would also collaborate with Nigerian musician Fela Kuti during this time. 

By the mid 1970s, Baker returned to rock music- join brothers Adrian and Paul Gurvitz- best known for their work with short lived bands such as Gun and Three Man Army. With Baker, the Baker Gurvitz Army was formed. From 1974 to 1976, the band release three albums- with the band splitting after their manager died in a plane crash. In the early 1980s, Baker was briefly a member in space rock legends Hawkwind. 

While respected as a musician, Baker was notorious for his temper- which is shown in the 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker. In recent years, Baker's health declined. In 2013, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease- coming from his years of smoking. In 2016, it was announced that Baker was recovering from open heart surgery. In his life, Baker was married four times. He is survived by three children- two daughters, Nettie and Leda (born  1960 and 1968) and a son, Kofi (born 1969).  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

In Memoriam: Eddie Money (1949-2019) and Ric Ocasek (1944/9-2019)

This weekend has seen the passing of two classic rock icons. I've decided to put them here in one blog post.

Edward Joseph Mahoney (aka Eddie Money)
March 21, 1949 - September 13, 2019

Singer Eddie Money died on Friday morning at his house in Los Angeles, California. As for the cause of death, Money is said to have died from complications of a recent heart valve replacement. Just several weeks ago, it had been announced that Money was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. Money is said to have received the diagnosis in the fall of 2018, which was shown in an episode of Money's reality show Real Money on AXS TV the night before he passed. Money was 70 years old. 

Born Edward Mahoney, Money found success during the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. His self titled debut, released in 1977, featured the hit singles "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Baby Hold On." With the launch of MTV in the early 1980s, Money's music videos for hits such as "Shakin'," "I Think I'm In Love" and "Take Me Home Tonight" were in constant rotation. For years, Money struggled with drug and alcohol addictions. In 2001, Money is said to have joined a 12-steps-program. By 2003, he was clean and sober. However, Money was a long-time smoker- which likely contributed to his cancer diagnosis. 

Money was married to Laurie Harris. The two wed in 1989 and would have five children- Zachary, Jessica, Joseph, Desmond and Julian. In recent years, Money had Jessica, Desmond and Julian members of his touring band. Just last year, the Money family started their own reality show Real Money. At this point in time, the show is currently in its second season. AXS TV have announced that they will continue to air the remaining two episodes in the season for the rest of September. 

Richard Theodore Otcasek
March 23, 1944/1949 - September 15, 2019

Musician Ric Ocasek, best known as the singer/rhythm guitarist for the Cars, was found dead in his home in New York City. NYPD officers are said to have responded to a 911 call at around 3 pm ET for an unconscious and unresponsive male. Ocasek was pronounced dead at the scene. At this time, the cause of death is unknown. Ocasek was 70, although other reports are claiming he was 75. 

Ocasek was one fifth of new wave rockers the Cars. Formed originally in Boston in 1976, the band consisted of Ocasek, guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Benjamin Orr, drummer David Robinson and keyboardist Gregg Hawkes. The band's 1978 self-titled debut album catapulted the band to stardom- featuring hits such as "Just What I Needed," "Good Times Roll," and "You're All I've Got Tonight." In 1980s, the band's popularity increased with the launch of MTV. With this, the band scored several hits such as "Let's Go," "Shake It Up," "Drive" and "You Might Think" just to name a few. The band would release six studio albums before they split in 1987. Despite Orr's death in 2000, the band reunited in 2010- which resulted in the reunion album Move Like This in 2011. Along with his career with the Cars, Ocasek had a fairly successful solo career. In 1986, he scored a solo hit with "Emotions in Motion." In 2018, the Cars were inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame- marking the last time the band would perform together. 

In his life, Ocasek was married three times. He was married briefly to his first wife during the 1960s. He married his second wife, Suzanne, in 1971. In 1989, Ocasek married for a third time to model Paulia Porizkova- a woman he had first met on the set of the music video for the Cars' "Drive" in 1984. They were married until 2018- when Porizkova announced that they had separated.  Ocasek had six sons- two with each of his wives: Christopher (b. 1964), Adam (b. 1970), Eron (b. 1973), Derek (b. 1981), Jonathan (b. 1993) and Oliver (b. 1999).  

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Philomena Lynott dead at 88

Philomena Lynott
October 22, 1930 - June 12, 2019

Philomena Lynott, mother of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott, died this morning after a long battle with cancer. In late 2017, Ms. Lynott announced that she was deciding to not receive any further treatment for her illness. She was 88 years old. 

Born in the Crumlin district of Dublin, Ms. Lynott was the fourth of nine children. Leaving school at 13, she soon went to work in a senior home before becoming a nurse. Sometime in 1949, she began a relationship with a man named Cecil Parris. Soon enough, Ms. Lynott became pregnant. When most of her peers were having abortions, Ms. Lynott chose to keep her baby. On August 20th, 1949, she gave birth to her son Philip Parris Lynott. Raising Phil, Ms. Lynott faced prejudice given Phil was mixed race- with his father being black. With it becoming increasingly difficult to raise her son, Ms. Lynott left Phil in the care of her parents. However, Ms. Lynott would give birth to two more children- a girl and a boy. Although she put them up for adoption, she remained in contact with them. The knowledge of Phil's sibling was unknown to the public until 2011 in a revised edition of her autobiography My Boy. Though they only saw each other every now and then, mother and son would remain close. 

Starting in 1964, Ms. Lynott was in a relationship with Dennis Keeley. Together, the two took over as managers of the Clifton Grange Hotel in Whalley Range, Manchester. For the next 14 years, the hotel became well known- especially after Phil's success with Thin Lizzy. For every gig the band had in the area in the 1970s, Ms. Lynott would accommodate her son's band.  Aside from Thin Lizzy, the hotel would be occupied with the show business trade. Ms. Lynott also holds the distinction of being the only hotel manager that would accommodate the Sex Pistol during their 1976 tour. 

On January 4, 1986, Ms. Lynott faced the devastating loss of Phil- who died after years of drug abuse. Prior to this, Ms. Lynott was unaware of her son's addictions. Despite the passing of her son, Ms. Lynott stayed strong and carried on keeping her son's memory alive. In 1995, she published an autobiography, My Boy- a book documenting her life with Phil. For years, she attended the annual tribute show for her son- Vibe for Philo. She also had a bronze statue constructed of Phil in 2005, which has since then become a popular spot in Dublin for fans to make their pilgrimages. 

Tributes have been pouring out on social media, including from the official Thin Lizzy social media pages. On Thin Lizzy's Facebook account, a statement from guitarist Scott Gorham was posted:

"It is with great sadness that we learned today that Philip's mom, Philomena Lynott, has passed away. She was always a great supporter of Thin Lizzy from the early days, throughout the band's existence and beyond. She always did her best to keep Phil's flame alive over the years, opening up her home to thousands of fans from around the world who paid her a visit. RIP Phyllis- we'll miss you."

Friday, May 31, 2019

Roky Erickson dead at 71

Roger "Roky" Kynard Erickson
July 7, 1947 - May 31, 2019

Texan singer/songwriter Roky Erickson, guitarist of the 13th Floor Elevators, died today at the age of 71. The news was confirmed by Austin360, who reported that the news of Erickson's death broke on social media. Erickson's brother Sumner said in a statement "The world has lost a huge light an incredible soul. Wasn't the easiest life, but he's free of all that now."

Born in Austin, Texas, Erickson began playing music when he was very young. Starting piano at age 5 and guitar at age 10, Erickson had already established his career path. Erickson dropped out of Travis High School in 1965 after refusing to cut his hair to fit the school's dress code. Despite this, Erickson would soon form his own band- the 13th Floor Elevators with musician Tommy Hall. Signed to International Records, the band released their debut The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators in October 1966. The band released two more studio albums- Easter Everywhere in 1967 and Bull of the Woods  in 1969- the latter of which Erickson is said to have barely played on. Tensions within the band and management lead to group's split in 1968. 

After the split of the Elevators, the next few years of Erickson's life were rough. After speaking gibberish during a 1968 concert, Erickson was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was went to a psychiatric hospital in Houston, where he was involuntarily given shock therapy. An arrest for drug possession the following year, which he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Erickson was sent to Austin State Hospital and then Rusk State Hospital- where he received more shock therapy after attempted escapes. When Erickson was released in 1972, he went back to making music- forming several different bands. By 1979, he had formed Roky Erickson and the Aliens. Compared to the psychedelia of the Elevators, Erickson's new music was more hard rock based- with an obsession for horror movie creatures and UFOs. Former Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist Stu Cook would end up producing Erickson's first solo effort The Evil One, which was released in 1981. 

Demos and outtakes of Erickson's music would continue to be released on small labels throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2005, he was the subject of You're Gonna Miss Me,  a documentary about his life and battle with schizophrenia. During the film of the movie (c. 2001), Erickson's younger brother Sumner gained legal custody of him. With Sumner's help, Erickson went through different treatments and eventually after the movie's release- Erickson was performing again. His last album was 2010's True Love Cast Out All Evil. In 2015, Erickson reunited for a one-off gig with the 13th Floor Elevators- which included former members Tommy Hall, John Ike Walton and Ronnie Leatherman, along with guitarist Fred Mitchim and Roky's son Jegar. 

At this point in time, no further details have been revealed about Erickson's passing. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

UFO's Paul Raymond dead at 73

Paul Martin Raymond
November 16, 1945 - April 13, 2019

Paul Raymond, best known as the keyboardist/guitarist for UK hard rockers UFO, died today from a heart attack. Prior to his passing, Raymond had finished touring for the UK and Ireland portion of UFO's Last Orders 50th Anniversary Tour- what is being promoted as the band's last world tour. The band's last performance was on April 5 at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, London, England. Raymond was 73. 

Raymond started his career as a jazz musician around 1964. Prior to joining UFO, Raymond was a member of Savoy Brown and Chicken Shack- replacing Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac fame in the latter. Raymond joined UFO in 1976, replacing original keyboardist Danny Peyronel. Raymond's first album with UFO was 1977's Lights Out. Raymond would stick with the band until 1981, leaving to join bands with his UFO bandmates: first with Michael Schenker's group MSG and later with Pete Way's Waysted. Despite his depature, Raymond would sporadically rejoin UFO throughout the years- 1984-86, 1993-98 and 2003-19. Among Raymond's other highlights are performing with pop group Plastic Penny and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan.    

Scott Walker dead at 76

Note: This obituary on Scott Walker was written almost a month ago. I didn't post this since I wasn't sure if this did him justice. After looking it over again, I think it's okay. While this is late, I feel like this still needs to be posted.

Noel Scott Engel (aka Scott Walker)
January 9, 1943 - March 22, 2019

Singer Scott Walker died last week on Friday March 22, according to his label 4AD in a press release. The cause of death has yet to be announced. According to 4AD, Walker is survived by his daughter Lee, his granddaughter Emmi-Lee and his partner Beverly. Walker was 76.

Born in Hamilton, Ohio as Noel Scott Engel, Walker was the son of Noel Walter and Elizabeth Engel. With his father working as an oil industry manager, Walker and his family moved on/off up until 1959 when he and his mother settled in California.  Walker's career started early as he was a child actor and singer. His appearances on Eddie Fisher's TV show lead Walker into the spotlight. As Walker grew up, his tastes in music began to change. While Fisher's show was making Walker into a teen idol, Walker had already developed an interest in jazz music and European films. While still in his teens, Walker was able to do some session work in Los Angeles. Around the early 1960s, Walker met musician John Maus- who was using the name John Walker. The two would end up working together for the next several years until 1964 when they met drummer Gary Leeds. This trio would form the Walker Brothers. The group would soon move to Britain, where they had two No. 1 hits- "Make It Easy on Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)." 

When the Walker Brothers split in 1968, Walker embarked on a solo career. Whereas the Walker Brothers had made pop music, Walker's sound took a turn as he used his distinctive baritone voice to sing a more diverse collection of tunes. Walker's first few solo albums saw him delving into Broadway hits, big band jazz and avant garde. Despite positive reviews, Walker's albums were not best sellers. As a result, Walker would often disconnect himself from the general public- becoming somewhat of a recluse. Commercial failure resulted in Walker giving into the label's demands, resulting in him releasing albums that his heart wasn't completely in. Despite his lack of success, artists such as David Bowie and Jarvis Cocker would cite Walker as an influence. After years of inactivity during the 1980s, Walker returned to music in 1995 with the release of Tilt- a critically acclaimed return to form. Until his death, Walker would continue to make music until his death. His latest albums was the soundtrack to the Natalie Portman movie Vox Lux in 2018.  

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Peter Tork dead at 77

Peter Halsten Thorkelson
February 13, 1942 - February 21, 2019

Peter Tork, bassist/singer for the Monkees, passed away today at his home in Connecticut. His death was confirmed by his sister, Anne, in article posted by the Washington Post. According to Tork's son Ivan, the cause of death was complications from adenoid cystic carcinoma- a rare form of head and neck cancer that Tork was diagnosed with in March 2009. Tork was 77.

Born Peter Thorkelson in Washington D.C., Tork was a struggling musician looking for his big break. In 1965, Tork's musician friend Stephen Stills was auditioned to be a part of the cast for The Monkees, a sitcom about the life of a rock n roll band. When Stills was rejected, he suggested that Tork should be auditioned. Tork got the job and along with Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith- the Monkees were formed. The Monkees premiered on NBC in September 1966. Given how successful the first two Beatles movies were, The Monkees was a huge hit when it aired. On the show, Tork was portrayed as the lovable dim-witted member of the group. 

However, the band weren't taken seriously due to the fact that they were a manufactured band. Under the management of Don Kirshner, the members of the Monkees were often not allowed to perform on their own records. Although Nesmith and Tork were allowed to write and play on their songs, the Monkees fought to be taken as a legitimate rock/pop group- which they were able to do after parting ways with Kirshner. Despite the drama behind the scenes, the Monkees were able to nab a few hit singles such as "Last Train To Clarksville," "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Daydream Believer." While the show ended in 1968 after two seasons, the band continued to perform and record music until 1970- although Tork left the group shortly after the release of their feature length film Head

Despite the group's split, the band reunited in the mid 1980s and then sporadically throughout the 1990s and 2000s- albeit sometimes without one or two members. The whole group did reunite in 1996 for the album Justus, which also lead to a TV special around that time. As of this writing, the Monkees are currently on tour with Dolenz and Nesmith in the line up. Outside of the Monkees, Tork continued to write songs and work in the music business. For the last 15 years, Tork performed with his own band- Shoe Suede Blues. Their 2018 album, Relax Your Mind, was the last album Tork released prior to his death. 

In his life, Tork was married four times: Jody Babb (three months in 1960), Reine Stewart (1972-74), Barbara Iannoli (1975-87) and Pamela Grapes (since 2014). He is survived by his three children: Hallie (b. 1970, with Stewart), Ivan (b. 1975, with Iannoli) and Erica (b. 1997, with Tammy Sestak). Tork is also predeceased by former Monkees band mate Davy Jones, who died in late February 2012 from a heart attack.