Frank Gutch Jr: They Will Never Pass This Way Again— Musicians We Lost in 2013, Part Two

FrankJr2It is hard enough losing good people in this world, but it is doubly hard when they exit in large numbers.  No doubt about it, 2013 was a brutal year for musicians.  Some days it seemed that the whole music world was exiting, stage left, or at least the portion I loved.  Part One of this look into the recent past was not easy to write just from an emotional standpoint.  Many who died were friends, of an odd sort— people upon whose music I relied at one time or another.  To help me cope.  To keep me sane.  John OrsiJ.J. CaleRay ManzarekJ.W. Hodgkinson (If).  Too many to list without taking long breaks.  This piece is taking me an extra long time just because of those.  I need the breaks.  This ain’t fun, though the memories of the music are.

Lou ReedI have a lot of what you might call friends— some personal and some through the various social media sites— and if I have to pick the one death which affected them more than any it would be that of Lou Reed.  I was never a diehard fan but I have immense respect for him.  I liked the early Velvet Underground albums but never bought one (I didn’t have to because for some odd reason, all of my friends did).  I listened tolerantly to his later work, liking some and disliking some— you have to give the guy credit in that he was fearless when it came to taking chances.  I followed his career with interest, but seriously, how could I not?  Every music zine I read had commentary if not in-depth pieces on each phase of his musical life.

When Lou passed on October 27th, my newsfeed on Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree.  Few of my “friends” did not comment and the praise was humongous.  I knew it would be.  As opposed to other musicians who are somewhat forgotten until their ends, Lou wasn’t.  People I knew hung on his every word (or perhaps that should be “lyric”) and followed his music religiously, and I use that term almost literally.  Are my friends a barometer of how the world reacted?  I don’t know.  Many of my friends are musicians or have some contact with the music world beyond the norm.  That’s it.  Yeah, they are indicative of how the music world reacted.  Sometimes I wonder.  I never really got into Lou that much, but then I never heard Prince nor The Clash nor a whole string of other superstar acts, either.  But Lou didn’t bother me.  Not like some of the others.

vandergraff_hammil_jackson_potter_evans_batton_1970When I heard that Nic Potter moved on, that bothered me.  Not himself but the fact that he moved to the Great Beyond.  Potter was bassist for my buddy Darryl’s favorite band (next to early Genesis), Van der Graaf Generator.  I cannot even begin to tell you how influential that band was for me and I owe it all to Darryl, who would have forced me to sit and listen if I had not agreed (he was such a nice guy, I couldn’t say no).  He took pity on me and started with Pawn Hearts, which contained (on the American release) an instrumental track titled Theme One, commissioned supposedly by the BBC to play in between programs (someone told me it was because they didn’t have commercials).  It was probably the most commercial effort the band ever recorded and allowed me to adjust to their sound because, not a fan of prog rock at time, I needed the time to adjust.  Potter didn’t play on the album, but when I thoroughly accepted Pawn Hearts, which didn’t take long, I backtracked to earlier efforts.  Potter did play on The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other and H to He, Who Am the Only One (I was as enthralled with the album titles as I was with the music) and lodged his name in my mind forever.  Potter died on January 16th at the age of 61.  Too young.  Much too young.

sammy-johns-chevy-vanSammy Johns died on January 4th.  His only hit single, Chevy Van, made it to #5 on Billboard’s charts in 1975.  I liked the song, even when I heard it butchered by various bar bands at that time.  That says a lot.  Maybe Sammy is driving a Chevy van right now.  I hope so.

If you haven’t heard of Janos Starker, you haven’t paid much attention to classical music.  Starker was a world class cellist who had to reinvent himself after he realized that he had no real idea what he was doing with that instrument.  He took a year off at a young age and basically relearned his technique.  What is fascinating to me about this is that Sera Smolen, who records with her husband Tom Mank, had pretty much the same experience.  She picked up the cello at a young age and taught herself to play only to find out later that her technique was all wrong.  She spent a considerable amount of time relearning her technique but stuck with it and is now considered one of the best and even delves into improvisational playing.  Funny, the parallels.  You can read her story, along with that of Mank, by clicking here.  For the basics on Starker, who died on April 28th, here is a link to his wiki page.

Jonathan Winters died on April 11th.  I had to laugh when I saw references to his passing, many claiming that his claim to fame was his stint on TV’s Mork & Mindy.  After laughing, I banged my head against the edge of my desk, amazed at the rewritten history.  Winters, for us Neanderthals who actually knew his work, was much more than that.  In fact, Mork & Mindy was barely a blip in his career.  The man was a standup comedian of consequence, an actor and a recording artist.  Comedy, way back before the standup comedy on TV, was huge.  Winters stood alongside greats like Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby and others in terms of his work and fame.  Of course, if you don’t care, Mork & Mindy would suffice for him, I am sure.  He never met a paying job he didn’t like, I understand.  Take it away, Jonathan…

I must have heard Claude King‘s Wolverton Mountain a few thousand times before it finally slid off the charts and even then it was a staple on Sweet Home, Oregon’s tavern jukeboxes long thereafter.  If King had to have a hit, I’ll bet he was happy that was the one.  He passed away on March 7th.

george-beverly-shea-billy-grahamGeorge Beverly Shea passed away on April 16th.  Those who don’t know Shea probably lived after the height of Billy Graham and his crusades.  He sang hymns, or at least songs of a religious nature.  His wiki page says that he “has sung live before more people than anyone else in history.”  Man, that’s a lot of people.  What I remember is selling his albums in the various record stores I worked at over the years.  A lot.

Acoustic musician Bob Brozman died on April 23rd.  He was a plucked-stringed-instrument guru to many who studied guitar or ukulele or any of the resonator instruments.  I remember him during his days recording with Kicking Mule and Rounder Records.  He was all over the map, which is why so many guitarists loved him.

I just saw a blip on the computer screen that actor Peter O’Toole has died.  I loved some of his movies.  I like to think he loved some of my music as well.  Here is a scene from my favorite O’Toole film, Murphy’s War.

On May 2nd, Slayer‘s Jeff Hanneman hung up his custom-built guitar for the last time.  One thing I learned in retail is that when it came to Slayer, you either loved them or you didn’t.  While I maybe didn’t love them, I did like them.  I even have a couple of albums in my collection to prove it.

slimwhitmanWhen I was young, I absolutely hated Slim Whitman‘s music.  Hated it!  In later years, I discovered what a generous and caring man he was and all of a sudden my attitude changed.  Sometimes, I am finding, I can be a rather insensitive sot.  I hate to admit it but it did affect me in regards to music more than I would like to think.  RIP, Slim, and thanks for the lesson.  He passed away on June 19th.

The Divinyl‘s Chrissy Amphlett passed away on April 21st.  She was Australian.  Why did I think she was British?  I dug The Divinyl‘s first album, 1983’s Desperate.  Somehow I lost touch after that.

Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins was one of the first blues guitarists beyond the obvious (B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, etc.) that I ever found.  It was courtesy of an old Army buddy who had purchased Dawkins’ first album, Fast Fingers.  I was the only one in the barracks who had a record player and he would occasionally stop by the bunk to ask if he could play his record.  I learned a lot about blues from that guy.  A learned a lot about blues from Jimmy, too.  Dawkins played his final song on April 10th.

When Annette Funicello breathed her last on April 8th, she took with her many a teenagers dream.  For the Boomer Generation, she was the main reason we watched The Mickey Mouse Club regularly and actually spent allowance money to see surf flicks.  I still hear Tall Paul in my head on occasion and remember all of the lyrics.  That says a lot.

I laugh at the people who still think that Phil Ramone was one of The Ramones (I mean, he was, but not the band).  What he was was a key component of the music business for a number of years, having produced and/or engineered such classic albums as Billy Joel‘s The Stranger, Paul Simon‘s Still Crazy After All These Years, and Frank Sinatra‘s Duets albums, among many others.  The list of artists he had worked with is longer than my arm, and that’s when it is printed in small font.  He exited the recording studio on March 30th.

When I was a kid, one of the 45s I received as a Christmas present was Marvin Rainwater‘s Gonna Find Me a Bluebird.  I played it so much that I swear it wore through to the other side.  It stands as one of the few records Momma and Dad never tired of hearing.  My parents would be very sorry to hear of Rainwater’s passing (September 17th).  They loved that song as much as did I.

I have a list of guitarists I hold in reverence.  Hugh McCracken is toward the top of that list, so when I heard that he had died (March 28th), it struck home.  I discovered McCracken in his early years when he was working with an experimental band (White Elephant) in New York and had followed him closely from that point on.  He had an amazing career and was much in demand.  The only personal references I have for him were given by Nick Holmes, who had shared the White Elephant experience with him and a host of other future greats (you can read Nick’s story here).  All I can say is, what Nick said.  One listen to this should make you a McCracken fan.  He was revered by many of the best.

A member of David Bowie‘s backing band, Spiders From Mars, passed away.  Trevor Bolder, who also played with Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash and others, passed on May 21st.  I remember his name on the Ash album, Twin Barrels Burning, but had missed it on the others.  Hell of a resume.

johnnysmithwalkRemember Walk, Don’t Run?  The guy who wrote it, Johnny Smith, recently passed away on June 11th.  It was originally recorded by him as a jazz song.  The things you don’t know.

Eydie Gorme died on August 10th.  I am not ashamed to admit that I was madly in love with her as a youth.  I can barely remember what she sang.  The blood rushing in my ears blocked all sound out every time I saw her.  That damn Steve Lawrence had all the luck.

The last of The Andrews Sisters died on January 30th.  Patty was the sole survivor to that point.  What were the Sisters to me?  Only a highlight of just about every WWII movie to come out of Hollywood, that’s all.  At least the ones which were worth watching.  I hear the strains of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) as I type this.  That was one hell of a run they had.

Jeez, the wire’s going crazy.  Turns out that just today (December 15th), Ray Price, Peter O’Toole and Tom Laughlin (Billy Jack) passed away.  What is going on?  Wait!  Price’s son supposedly erroneously announced the death of his father.  Price has not died.  But actress Joan Fontaine has?  Man, this is nuts!!!

dickdoddDick Dodd, drummer and lead singer for The Standells, died on November 29th.  I bought that first Standells’ album.  I loved it.  I had no idea the drummer sang lead or, being a drummer myself, I would have really loved it.  Love that Dirty Water, even though Boston’s not my home.

George Duke died on August 5th.  Looking back, it seems like he played with everybody:  Frank Zappa, Don Ellis, Jean-Luc Ponty, to name only a few.  All I know is that the guy was hardly ever without a label deal and was one of the “most sampled” artists of the decade.  Not sure that being “sampled” is something to strive for, but it says something.

I don’t have a clue what to say about George Jones except that he had one hell of a life.  Bet he even remembers part of it.  (That’s a joke, George— I always thought one of the best things about you was your sense of humor)  Ain’t nobody sounded like ol’ George.  He passed on April 26th.

Richie Havens died on April 22nd.  He had a following before Woodstock, but that pretty much made his career.

Mention Peter Banks to anyone who is not a real Yes fan and they will scratch their heads until they are bald.  Steve Howe may have taken that band to the heights, but Banks started the uphill climb.  He played on the first album and a little on the second, Time and a Word, but tensions grew and he left the band to form Flash.  I remember those early Yes albums and also Flash.  I listened to them more than Yes just because after The Yes Album, I heard Yes everywhere I went.  Banks was one of those guitar players you had to really listen to to get.  I enjoyed the challenge.  He died on March 7th.

Drummer Clive Burr died on March 12th.  He was best known for his work on the first three Iron Maiden albums, after which he played with a number of bands.

My favorite version of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl was by The Grateful Dead until I heard Ten Years After rock the hell out of it.  Alvin Lee, when I was in the Army, was a guitar god.  I stacked TYA and Alvin Lee solo albums up after that, even following him into the later lean years.  When he died March 6th, I flashed back to those early years.  As hard as I could, and I tried, I could still not think of a better version of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.  That Alvin, he was a good one.

In the tradition of “I don’t know much about jazz but I know what I like,” I stumbled upon Marian McPartland quite by accident when working at a Licorice Pizza record store in San Diego.  I struck up a conversation with a lady who was a huge McPartland fan and ended up spending a few really pleasant evenings at her house listening to McPartland and a handful of other pianists she admired, including Errol Garner and Oscar Peterson.  Those evening opened me up to piano jazz, or what I would term later, lounge jazz.  At certain times, I would find myself listening to a whole evening of piano music.  Some of those times, McPartland filled the time nicely.  She died on August 20th.  Thanks for the memories, Marian.

cedar-waltonCedar Walton passed away on August 19th.  Until then, all I knew about him was that he was a jazz pianist.  Actually, I knew one album he put together with Hank Mobley titled Breakthrough!.  I was working at Licorice Pizza on Wilshire Blvd. in L.A. and got it into my head that I was going to learn something about jazz, so I started taking home albums on the Cobblestone label.  I figured if I listened long enough, I would learn to understand jazz..  I tried.  Oh, how I tried.  It didn’t take.  But I learned enough to be able to talk fairly intelligently about certain of the artists on the label.  And I really enjoyed the few times I sold any of the Cobblestone records.  Like I said, Cedar, I tried.

I was in high school and college when I discovered The Swinging Blue Jeans.  I liked a lot of the Brit rockers, but few as much as them.  I can sing all of their hits and know most of their recordings.  Tommy Hughes was in a really early version of that band.  He died on September 21st.

Texas probably knew Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland better than anyone as a blues and soul vocalist, thanks to Duke Records‘ presence in that State in the late fifties and early sixties.  The man had a strong following everywhere, though he had trouble making the charts.  Didn’t matter.  His sales were strong enough to warrant constant major label support throughout his later years.  Bland died June 23rd.

Does being president of Dot, ABC, Capitol, and MCA Records count in the music world?  Many would argue that it does.  Jim Foglesong held those posts and others over the many years he worked in the record biz.  He backed a lot of country musicians.  He died on July 9th.

mickfarren-live69Mick Farren was a guy people loved to hate but who had a strong and loyal following.  Always on the edge of the edge, he is best known as being vocalist for proto-punkers The Deviants.  Just looking at the names of people he worked with gives him more than a little credibility.  The world needed a few oddballs like him to keep the establishment honest.  He passed away July 27th.

Joey Covington, known for his work with Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, and Jefferson Starship passed on June 4th.

You want music history, Jack Clement had plenty.  He engineered and produced records for Sam Phillips at Sun Records, wrote hits for Johnny Cash (Ballad of a Teenage Queen and Guess Things Happen That Way), discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis and wrote songs recorded by a string of musicians.   He is in a few Hall of Fames and remembered by an incredible array of artists who work in genres outside of country.  He died on August 8th.

The Rezillos‘ and Silly Wizard‘s bass player, Alistair Donaldson died on June 18th.

Blue Oyster Cult‘s keyboard player/rhythm guitarist, Allen Lanier, passed away on August 14th.  I saw BOC in Seattle in the early eighties.  That five guitar lineup impressed the hell out of me.

Larry Marks was a musician and producer as well as an executive during his long run in the music biz.  He produced artists for Columbia Records and then A&M in the sixties.  If it is the same Larry Marks, I at one time had an A&M single of The Kenjolairs singing Little White Lies.  I loved that record and often wondered who they were.  Evidently, they were a studio group who recorded a few tracks and were lucky enough to have gotten them released.  Those were the days.  Marks died on February 24th.

Scott Miller of Game Theory and The Loud Family died on April 15th.  He was scheduled to return to the studio with members of GT to record an album this summer, but…..  He died with a lot of music in his future.  Way too young.

TillisonRoger Tillison—  Evidently, Tillison was one of the Tulsa boys.  You know— Leon Russell and that whole gang.  I knew him as a folk singer, of course (well, it sounded like folk to me) and only recently heard of an interesting connection to J.J. Cale.  If this isn’t right, don’t tell me because it is a cool story.  Seems like J.J. had some songs he wanted to get on record so he put together this odd folk/psych album and called it A Trip Down Sunset Strip, but instead of using his own name, came up with a group-sounding moniker— The Leathercoated Minds.  I’m not sure of the exact details, but the people pictured on the cover are Tillison and Terrye Newkirk.  For no reason other than possibly that it was a cool looking album jacket.  And it was a cool looking album jacket.  See for yourselves.  I missed Tillison completely during his run, unfortunately, which ended on December 11th.  Here’s a taste of what I missed.

 

Chico Hamilton died on November 25th.  I had no idea who Chico was until someone pointed out to me that members of Little Feat played on his album, The Master.  It was another gateway album for me into the world of jazz.  I searched his early albums and found some real jazz, or what I would call jazz.  I searched his later albums and found a plethora of genres, some delving into what we called international music back then.  Suffice it to say that I have been listening to Chico for the past 30 years and enjoying his music immensely.  We lost a great one.

Pete Haycock (4 Mar ’51 to 30 October 2013)—  Pete was a founding member of Climax Blues Band and later joined Bev Bevan in a project called Electric Light Orchestra Part II.  Even later, he worked with various people on music for films as well as produce music projects for other artists.  I remember him best with CBB.  Sometimes they were the band which was not too heavy and not too light and, in fact, just right.

Ronald Shannon Jackson was another Fort Worth boy.  I am shocked at the percentage of quality musicians who call or called Fort Worth home.  A very high percentage.  When Jackson put together The Decoding Society in ’79, he began a real journey into the world of music, mishmashing styles and genres to his liking.  He passed on October 19th.

calsmithCal Smith was a country bumpkin, or that was what he sang about on his biggest hit.  In fact, in 1974, Smith was awarded Song of the Year award from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association for Country Bumpkin.  He even bought into the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team.  I’ve always wanted to own a minor league team.  He lived my dream.  He died on October 10th.

The Bossa Nova?  You can blame it partly on Oscar Castro-Neves, who is considered a founding figure of the genre.  He died on September 27th.

Indie rocker Jason Molina died on March 16th at the age of 39 after a long illness.  He is best known for his work as the core of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. 

Phil Chevron of The Pogues passed away on October 8th.  When I worked at Peaches in Seattle in the eighties, I got a good dose of Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, an album I grew to really like.  Proof that Ireland isn’t all “River Dance” and trad folk.

lindsay cooperHenry Cow‘s Lindsay Cooper died on September 18th.  I tried to get into the band as well as Slapp Happy in the mid-seventies but struggled with the direction of the music.  Still, I dug their creativity and adventurousness.  And there are few bands which used bassoon and oboe.  A big plus.

Do I even have to mention that Reg Presley of The Troggs stepped off this mortal coil on February 4th?  If you missed that one, you must have your head under a rock.

First time I heard Respect Yourself and, later, I’ll Take You There, I knew The Staple Singers were the real deal.  I have never heard a group which mixed electric and gospel so successfully.  When I heard that Cleotha Staples died on February 21st, I heard I’ll Take You There in my head.  What a great song.

There is hardly a jazz trumpeter out there who has recorded as much as Donald Byrd.  I remember him as the face of what seemed like a thousand Blue Note album covers, but in searching am shocked at how many recordings he had a hand in over the years.  Byrd died on December 9th.  He was 80.

Marvin Junior, lead baritone for The Dells, passed away on May 29th.  If you’ve heard Oh What a Night, you’ve heard The Dells.  It was huge.

When I started buying albums, one of the first I bought was Shadows of Knight’s Gloria.  Not for the song Gloria because in my mind Them owned that song, but for Oh Yeah which had received airplay on radio station KGAL in Lebanon, Oregon.  What I discovered was a somewhat rough but entrancing rock sound and I became a huge fan.  Joe Kelley, part of that sound, died on September 1st.  My world is crumbling.

If the only album Andy Johns had ever worked on was Blodwyn Pig‘s Ahead Rings Out, it would have been enough for me, but he worked on an incredibly huge number of albums, many of which were cornerstones of my record collection for years.  Engineer, producer, sometimes genius, Johns passed on April 7th.  A huge loss.

Damn!  Country musician Jack Greene had five #1 hits during his career.  Five!  And I can’t remember one of them.  To be fair, I was the all-electric rock-n-roller back then, but I should have heard one.  No matter.  Millions of other people did.  Greene passed away on March 14th.

Dan Toler died on February 25th.  He was a member of Dickie Betts & Great Southern and went on from there to play with The Allman Brothers Band and the Gregg Allman Band.  The boy was Southern, through and through.

Shadow Morton was a songwriter and producer when rock was just starting to crank up.  I remember him for writing and producing my favorite sing by The Shagri-Las, Remember (Walking In the Sand).  He died on February 14th.

Paul Williams, editor and publisher of Crawdaddy! magazine, died on March 27th.  He was one of only a handful of writers/editors I followed throughout their careers.  Almost all of my friends read Crawdaddy!, which was good because for a time there, I couldn’t afford to buy it.  Sorry, Paul.

Kevin Ayers was a true force in the music world.  He was founding member of Soft Machine and recorded a number of solo albums as well as working with a who’s who of British and European musicians over the years.  I could try to write something about him here, but you would be better off to just click here to read his wiki page.  Be prepared to read a bit.  His career was surprisingly long and varied.  He passed away on February 18th.

Only a handful of my friends will appreciate this, mostly the ones who suffered through my obsession with Help Yourself back in the early- to mid-seventies.  Ken Whaley has died.  He passed on February 18th and I didn’t know it until recently.  I know him as the album title guy— the band member which inspired HY’s The Return of Ken Whaley album.  In those days, I spent a lot of time listening to Man, The Aces, Ducks Deluxe and a number of bands within HY’s circle.  Those were good days.  Whaley’s death is the passing of an era to me.  I must be getting old.

Actually, I know I’m getting old.  Death did not used to affect me this much.  I mean, the year is not yet over and I know I missed a number of musicians who also died.  I didn’t want to miss them, it’s just that the numbers are overwhelming.  Is it me?   Or have there always been this many?

Well, time to move on, I suppose, but I will always have a look in my rear view mirror when it comes to music.  It has, after all, gotten me through times of no dope.  Especially since I stopped smoking it.

Not much in the way of Notes, but here are a couple you really should check out:

Music Notes smallNotes…..  Here is an update of what a musician makes from the digital streaming “services”:  http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2013/12/13/quicksummarystreaming

From an upcoming album— a video of Alialujah Choir‘s From the Ground:

Happy New Year!!!

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonFrank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.” 

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