Frank Gutch Jr: Death Becomes Relevant – Part Two (Musicians We Lost in 2014

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Relevance is a matter of perspective.  When you are young, you think you will live forever.  When you reach middle age, if you are that lucky, it begins to matter.  From that point on, it gains importance as time passes until the grim reaper knocks on the door.  Death— something you ignore as a child, unless you have personal contact with it in some form— something which, as the years go by, eventually becomes inevitable.

I recently wrote a column about musicians who tripped off this mortal coil in 2014.  I thought it would be easy— or somewhat easy.  I had written a piece about musicians’ deaths in 2013 and it wasn’t all that hard.  I can only think I wasn’t paying much attention back then because I spent hours on the 2014 column, researching and organizing and writing, and the numbers alone were overwhelming.  I steered clear of many of the media-covered musicians, keying on the ones which had made an impact on me.  That was, of course, unfair, and this is an attempt to right that wrong.  So here is the continuation of the previous column, or an attempt to at least balance it to a degree.  This is Part Two.  You can read Part One here.

jackholderMy God!  As if to remind me of my own mortality, the reaper claims more.  Dixie Hall, wife of Tom T. Hall and songwriter in her own right, passed on.  Just found out today.  Ardent Studios, who suffered the deaths last year of owner John Fry and recording engineer John Hampton, lost another musician who had worked in the studios many times, Jack Holder.  Man, that reaper guy is relentless!

But back to 2014.  The Pac Northwest lost one of its “roots” leaders when Janice Scroggins left us.  Janice was quite the piano player, noted by experts as a master of what they call “stride piano.”  (Click here for definition)  She played a wide variety of styles, in fact, and was exceptional at them all.  About six or seven years ago, I happened into a small room at The Spirit Mountain Casino to watch her and three or four other ladies bewitch a crowd there to hear the magic.  It is a night I shall not forget.

Buddy DeFranco is a name you had to be deaf to not hear during my reign in records.  Most of the people with whom I worked had no clue as to who he was but they damn well knew the name.  DeFranco, a jazz clarinetist, played with some of the giants over the years, including Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and put in time on the Jazz at the Philharmonic tours.  To learn more and to link to an NPR documentary about the man, click here.  It is worth it.

Never heard of Paul Craft?  Then you were not paying attention.  Craft is the guy who wrote Dropkick Me, Jesus (Through the Goalposts of Life, Brother Jukebox (very ably recorded by another great, Mark Chesnutt), Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life (a hit for Moe Bandy), and Ray Stevens‘ (as usual, comedic) hit, It’s Me Again, Margaret.  Craft is one of the guys who make you wonder why we give credit to the performers more than the songwriters.

Does anyone other than Deadheads know that Grateful Dead‘s old (and first) manager Rock Scully died?  Scully’s name was linked to the meteoric rise of the Dead back when San Francisco was just becoming a musical destination.  He managed the band until 1984 or so.  A good run.

And there was Paul Revere.  Few bands impacted the kids of the sixties more the Paul Revere & The Raiders.  They were GODS!  Well, they were the youthful embodiment of Gods before the superstar contingent formed.  When Revere died, I posted a column paying tribute.  You can, if you so desire, read that here.  I loved that band.  I still do.

As with Revere, I used Jack Bruce as a focal point of a column when he passed.  Bruce, while not the first bass player I had ever noticed, made the bass come alive for me.  And he had an amazing run, both as bassist and songwriter/performer.  You can read the aforementioned column here.

Joanne Borgella had been working the music side of things for years before she got her break with American Idol.  I am no fan of that program, but what I heard from Borgella tells me that she might well have made it without Idol.  The disturbing thing is that she died at the age of 32.  32!  I have listened to people complain of ills and bad luck well into their eighties.  Perhaps they should look to people who have not had the pleasure to live that long for a little perspective.  Sad.

I couldn’t even begin to count the number of Paco de Lucia albums I have sold over the years.  I honestly thought he would live forever, but…..  The man was a master.

Shane Gibson, who toured with Korn for a few years, died.  His main project, stOrk, may have not quite gotten off the ground, but Gibson was in demand as session man and touring musician.

mariavontrappMy sister drove me f**king nuts playing The Sound of Music soundtrack over and over, ad infinitum, when the movie hit the screen.  That damn flick was huge and the result was that I was tortured with hills that were alive and female deer and a raft of things of which the worst nightmares are made.  I mention this because of all the albums of torture to which I was introduced, including those of Jerry Murad & His Harmonicats, Ray Coniff Singers, and numerous soundtracks.  While I wanted to rock, my sister preferred bland.  Which is not to take anything away from Maria von Trapp and her story— the basis for the movie.  If you would like to read the real story behind the musical, click here.  She died last February.

I had seen the name of Jeff Golub on many albums including his own over the years, but had no idea of the reverence with which he was held by other musicians.  When he passed away, the social media lit up with praise for not only Jeff Golub, musician, but Jeff Golub, person.  Some of you may know him as the guitarist for Rod Stewart ’88-’95) or as guitarist with Billy Squier.  For myself, all I had to hear was that he played for a short time with The James Montgomery Band, one of Boston’s finest.

Jake Hooker.  He was guitar player for The Arrows and wrote I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, which Joan Jett turned into a hit.  Check out this interview with Hooker and this video of Jett for reference.

Leonard Delaney spent part of his musical life with The Tornadoes, a very early surf band out of Southern California.  In recent years, the band’s presence was heightened by the inclusion of their one hit, Bustin’ Surfboards, in the movie Pulp Fiction.  He lived to be 71.

When I heard of the passing of bassman Charlie Haden, I thought of his daughters who are now together in a band known as The Haden Triplets.  The fact that the girls went into music says a lot about Charlie’s influence on them.  Of course, Charlie had a long and somewhat successful career— I say ‘somewhat’ because even a musician of his stature had trouble selling albums, even during the days that albums actually sold.

File this one under “what I didn’t know,”  because although I had heard the name, I did not know Lynsey de Paul at all.  Until now.  Her career spanned decades and she penned twelve Top 20 hits in the UK, six of which were self-recorded.  She worked in many different areas, including classical, childrens and theater (if you consider writing music for TV theater).  She wrote jingles and probably delved into everything but rap and hip hop.  She is, to me, a kin of Francoise Hardy, whose music I did not know until long after it had passed me by.  I need more hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the month, and years in my lifetime to even begin to catch up.  de Paul has convinced me of that.

I guess I want to call Celtic Thunder a revue because it did not come out of an idea for a band.  Rather, it came about out of a Riverdance concept which involved music and more.  Irish, it is, and that is what makes it what it is.  They lost one of their original vocalists last year, one George Donaldson.  Another musician who left us way too soon.

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Laaz Rockit fans mourned the loss of the original drummer of the band.  Victor Agnello was waylaid by leukemia, but his drums pound on, thanks to the numerous albums he recorded with the band.  He was 50.

Mikey Domingo spent only a short time with The Faceless at the very beginning of that band’s existence, but it was enough.  Michael Keene, guitarist with the band, made comment about Domingo upon learning of his passing.  Click here.

I could not possibly add anything to the praises for Andrae Crouch upon his passing.  The man was a giant, one of the few who took Christian music to a higher level.  Much higher.  Even among the rockers on the religious side of music, Crouch was considered one-of-a-kind.

I had Pete Seeger‘s We Shall Overcome album when I was young.  I played it till the groves wore through to the other side.  Losing Pete was more than losing a musician.  Mankind lost a true humanitarian.  And these days, we have few to lose.

Few people outside of the hardcore country and bluegrass fans will recognize the name of James Alan Shelton.  The man was a picker of some repute, mixing various styles together into what would come to be known as his own.  He spent time working with The Clinch Mountain Boys, Ralph Stanley‘s band.

Oddly enough, Shelton learned much of his picking techniques from another Clinch Mountain Boys alum, George Shuffler, a picker who was so much a part of the band that he was often referred to as “the third Stanley Brother.”  Shuffler died in April.

Phil Everly?  I remember watching The Everly Brothers on American Bandstand back in the old black & white days of television.  That’s right, kids.  Life was not always in color.  Before I even learned to dance, I was dancing to their music.  Before I knew I had a heart, it beat to All I Have To Do Is Dream, my favorite Everlys song until ‘Til I Kissed You came along.  I always wanted hair like Phil’s but Dad wouldn’t let me grow it out.  I had a crewcut until I went to college, but with hair like Phil’s I could have been a contender.

Jesse Winchester was a real name among people in Eugene who knew music, thanks to massive airplay.  When Yankee Lady hit the airwaves, Winchester scored big, though in a small town way.  He would go on to have a decent career, having a constant, small, and loyal following who always had his back.  I knew a few of those people.  We became friends over Winchester, I guess you could say, and moved on from there.  His music was always worth talking about, it seemed.  He was ill when he moved to Charlottesville a handful of years ago.  I had no idea.

I had never heard of Scary Kids Scaring Kids, but I dig the name.  Not really a fan of synth, but they overlay  guitar nicely.  Tyson Stevens, the band’s vocalist (and bass player in the beginning), is gone now.  A lot of talent crumbled to dust.  Damn!

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I know Buren Fowler from his work with Drivin’ N Cryin’ and was surprised to learn that he had spent a bit of time with R.E.M. Prior to that band.  Truth be told, I never really listened much to R.E.M., they hitting the big-time before I had a chance (and if you know me, you know that I don’t have time for the stars).  Drivin’ N Cryin’, though…..

Gwar.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around those guys.  Lead vocalist Dave Brockie died last year, you know.  The guy freaked me out.  I never bought any of their albums, but every time I heard or heard about Gwar, I laughed.  In a good way.  I mean, Oderus Urungus?  That’s class!  And I liked them!

“When a bunch of guitar leads are tangled up like spaghetti, you’ve got yourself a Gutteridge.”  So states the article I link you to here, written about New Zealander Peter Gutteridge.  I have no idea who he is/was, but he is the kind of musician I wish I had known long before death.  Read the article if you have any curiosity about the people who are musicians out of destiny.

I can’t go on.  Not only is this a bit depressing, I am seeing how many bands and artists I have not yet heard.  I pride myself on scouring the depths.  The fact that so many get by me blows that supposed pride all to hell.  I leave you with links to the rest of the long list I put together— musicians gone but surely not forgotten.  Like my old friend used to say, even the lost have a mother somewhere.

Tommy Ramone (The Ramones)…  Bobby Womack…  Jason McCash (The Gates of Slumber)…  Frankie Knuckles…  Tim Wilson…  Bob Casale (Devo)…  Johnny Elichaoff (King Crimson, Robert Fripp)…  James Lavesque (Agent Orange)…  Craig Aaronson (A&RWarners, Capitol)…  Jeff Fletcher (Northern Uproar)…  Rick Parashar (Producer)…  Brad Hancock (Close Grip)…  Kelly Holland (Cry of Love)…  Joe Young (Antiseen)…  Ian McLagan (Small Faces, Faces, The Rolling Stones)…  Bobby Keys…  Paul Matson (Buddy Brothers Band)…  Johnny Winter…  Joe Cocker…  Lou Reed…  Wayne Static (Static X)…  Isaiah ‘Ikey’ Owens…  Mark Bell (LFO)…  Robert ‘Throb’ Young (Primal Scream)…  Simone Battle…  Michael Johns…   Bob Bielarz (No One)…  Tobias Graf (Deadlock)…  Jonathan Athom (Black Tusk)…  Ralph Morman (Joe Perry Project, Savoy Brown)…  Rod de’Ath (Rory Gallagher)…  Billy Rath (Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers)…  Don Lanier…  George Riddle…  Jimmy C. Newman…  Kevin Sharp…  Kenny Wheeler…  Melvin Jackson…  Alberta Adams…  Lionel Ferbos…  Horace Silver…  Gerald Wilson

Prof. Melvin Crispell…  John Holt…  Gary Burger (The Monks)…  Bobby Gregg (Studio drummer)…  Alan Douglas (Record producer)…  Mabon ‘Teenie’ Hodges (Al Green)…

Pardon me for this, but this is my favorite version of the Al Green classic…..

Let us hope 2015 will be kinder to the music world.  I need a drink.

My apologies for not including a planned longer tribute to Nash the Slash, but I prefer that other writers at DBAWIS handle that matter.  I would only embarrass myself with what little I know of the man and the musician.  He deserves much more than I would be able to produce.

=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.”

One Response to “Frank Gutch Jr: Death Becomes Relevant – Part Two (Musicians We Lost in 2014”

  1. Patricia Blythe Says:

    Wow! Too many… and some way too soon…. We are all diminished by their leaving…

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