Now we start part two of this melancholy series. Some of these deaths in this series may have been more important to you than others. Many people have a band or song that has special meaning to them, one that has helped them through a hard time or is attached to a fond memory. Given the breadth of the genres of death, and the fame of some of the people, I would not be surprised if one of the artists this year has tugged on a heart string of yours.
Glenn Frey - Date: January 18th. Cause of death: Several, including pnuemonia and complications from a recent surgery. Age: 67.
Glenn was the lead singer, founder, and song writer for The Dude's least favorite band "The Eagles." The band was extremely successful, with their most famous album "Hotel California" being among one of the highest selling albums of all time. He has won six grammys as part of The Eagles, and had 24 top 40 hits.
Jimmy Bain - Date: January 22nd-24th. Cause of death: Lung cancer and pneumonia. Age: 68.
Jimmy was the bassist for several heavy metal bands, most notably playing with Rainbow and being a founding member of Dio. He died on Def Leppard's cruise tour the day before he was supposed to play with his own band. Jimmy was unaware of his cancer before death.
Paul Kantner - Date: January 28th. Cause of death: heart attack. Age: 74
Kantner was a founding member and guitarist of the San Fransisco psychadelic rockband "Jefferson Airplane" as well as the spin-off band "Jefferson Starship." In 1971 he became the lead male singer of the Jefferson project after fellow founder and singer Marty Balin left. Kantner was not just the guitarist and vocalist, he wrote most of the bands songs, as well as working with other artists such as David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young).
Paul was an outspoken supporter of the use of LSD and marijuana, though he was against alcohol and cocaine. He died of septic shock as a result of a heart attack on the same day as fellow Jefferson Airplane founder Signe Toly Anderson also passed.
Signe Toly Anderson - Date: January 28th. Cause of death: COPD. Age: 74.
Signe was also a founding member of Jefferson, though she left fairly early in 1966. For most of her life after Airplane she suffered from many illnesses and health issues. She performed with a band known as "Carl Smith and the Natural Gas Company" through the 70s.
Maurice White - Date: February 4th. Cause of death: Natural, related to Parkinson's disease. Age: 74.
Maurice White was a pillar of the funk genre of music. Most known as a founding member, lead singer, producer and song writer for the seminal band Earth Wind & Fire, Maurice changed the face of music with songs such as "September" and "Let's Groove." Between his work with EWF and his solo work Maurice was nominated for 21 Grammys, 7 of which were won. The songs "Shining Star" and "That's the Way of the World" have been placed into the Grammy Hall of Fame, a high honor when you consider that only 971 songs have been added and they date back as far as the 1920s, though the songs must be at least 25 years old when inducted.
White worked with such famous artists as Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand, and was a session drummer for Etta James and Muddy Waters, as well as others. His influence is far reaching both musically and in pop culture, the band was featured in the adult swim cartoon "Black Dynamite" and Maurice wrote music specifically for Eddie Murphy's movie "Coming to America" as well as the cult movie "Undercover Brother."
In the late 80s Maurice was diagnosed with Parkinson's and in 1994 was forced to stop touring with the band, though he continued to have creative control over their projects and work in the music industry. Two of his brothers continue to tour with EWF.
Denise "Vanity" Matthews. Date: February 15th. Cause of death: Renal failure. Age: 57.
Vanity is mostly known as a protogee of Prince's in the girl band "Vanity 6." She was a model, actress, dancer as well as song writer performing dance tracks. Most of her music was mostly known overseas in places such as the Netherlands and Australia. Many of her solo, as well band tracks are featured on films, such as "The Last Dragon" and "National Lampoon's Vacation." She had many minor acting roles, but she is most known as playing opposite Prince in the film "Purple Rain."
In the mid 90s she almost died of renal failure due to drug use, this led to a conversion to christianity. It's a fairly surprising twist that she'd die only months before Prince given their close relationship.
Sonny James - Date: February 22nd. Cause of death: Natural. Age: 87
James was one of the must successful country stars of all time, bringing the "Nashville sound" to the spotlight in the 50s and 60s and continuing his successes well into the 70s. He had an almost obscene level of prosperity in the years between 1964 and 1972. In that time he had 16 #1 singles IN A ROW with a total of 21 #1s. His albums did just as well within that same period. Out of 19 albums, not counting complilations or his christmas album, only 2 were NOT in the top 10.
Sir George Martin - Date: March 8th. Cause of death: natural. Age: 90.
George Martin was easily one of the most important producers in modern history. Often referred to as "The Fifth Beatle" due to his heavy influence and work with the Beatles earliest works, such as "Please Please Me." Martin was an arranger, producer, composer, and more. He had over 20 #1 hits in both the U.K. and United States. His early 50s work was producing humor albums with comedians such as Peter Sellers. Even after The Beatles Martin extensively worked with Paul McCartney, producing work with Wings, and tracks such as the Michael Jackson / Paul McCartney collaboration "Ebony and Ivory." In 1996 Martin was knighted. Sir George had many accolades, including several Grammys and an Oscar nomination for "A Hard Days Night."
Keith Emerson - Date: March 10th, reported March 11th. Cause of death: Suicide by gunshot. Age: 71.
As a member of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Keith Emerson was a member of one of the most influential progressive rock bands of all time. Lake known for bands such as King Crimson and Palmer known, later, for bands such as Asia, ELP was practically a "super group." Keith was a wild performer on stage with such antics as playing his famous Hammond Organ upside down. ELP has sold 4.5 million albums in the US and an estimated 48million world wide. In an interview in 2008 Koji Kondo, of Zelda fame, cited ELP as an influence on him, and in 2014 interview with 1up, Nobuo Uemetsu, of Final Fantasy, also cited ELP as an influence on him.
Like the late Bernie Worrell, Keith was widely considered one of the most important people to work with keyboards and synthesisers in the early years, helping build many of the concepts that would be used for decades to come.
In 1993 Emerson began experience arthritis like symptoms in his hands which caused him to take a year off of performing. Many health problems plagued him after that, including a possible cancerous polyp found in his colon and heart disease. His nerve problems and health cause him to become extremely depressed. He began to fear that the problems with his hands would cause him to perform poorly and disappoint his fans. Given the importance of music, it could be these issues that led to his suicide.
See you in part 3 of the "who is lined up to join God's house band?" blog.